I love you, my brother

Posted by & filed under faith.

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“In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you.”

- Matthew 7:12 (Christianity)

“None of you truly believes, until he desires for his brother what he desires for himself.”

- Prophet Muhammad (Islam)

“Do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.”

-Mahabharata 5:1517 (Hinduism)

“Treat not others in ways that you would find hurtful.”

- Udana-Varga 5.18 (Buddhism)

“What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah. All the rest is commentary.”

- Talmud: Shabbat 31a (Judaism)

“When I believe my way is the only way, conflict is inevitable.”

- Sadhguru (Yogi and Mystic)

“I love you, my brother, whoever you are – whether you worship in a church, kneel in your temple, or pray in your mosque. You and I are children of one faith, for the diverse paths of religion are fingers of the loving hand of the one supreme being, a hand extended to all, offering completeness of spirit to all, eager to receive all.”

- Kahlil Gibran

“I love you, my brother, and I wish you peace.”

- me

A dog named Stella

Posted by & filed under the puppy diaries.

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Stella and Tracey

When Tracey first told us the name of her dog, Andy and I both yelled “Steeeeelllllaaaaaaa!!!”

“Everybody says that when we tell them her name!”

So we explained the Marlon Brando famous movie line to her.

One of my first memories of Stella was her playing with the sprinkler:

pup in sprinkler

She loved the water.

poolpuppyI put a kiddie pool out for my dogs to cool off in the summertime. Stella loved the pool. As she got older she would jump in it and spin around and splash.

Just like a puppy.

As she got older she would also run around our yard occasionally in “puppy zoom” mode.

She was always a happy dog.

 

 

 

 

 


Tracey took Stella everywhere with her.

To our house, to work, to the dog park, everywhere. Stella loved the car.

stella in car

She also loved being in the driver’s seat, which is where she would always wind up when she needed to stay in the car.

While at work, Stella used to hang out in the VCA emergency reception area.

stellaatwork

Tracey told me that everybody told her Stella should be a therapy dog. The doctors would go out and just sit with her to feel her calmness after the stress of the emergency room.

Stella’s life was saved at this same emergency hospital when she became septic after giving birth to her puppies. It was touch and go for awhile. The day this picture was taken was when when I drove Tracey back to the hospital after she had left for the day (it was an hour away from home). They called her back in because Stella was going downhill. We weren’t sure she was going to make it that day. It was a long ride.

stellainthehospital

But she made it! Stella was a determined dog with strength of will. (Which showed up at other times, like when you were eating dinner and she wanted some.)

But let’s go back in time from that day to a happier time. The day Stella had her puppies:

stella puppy collage

And here is the official picture, taken a few days later:

stella puppy photoshoot

Although she had to leave them at 4 weeks when she got sick, there were still 4 here when she got to be with them again:

Stellaandthepups_small

And then there were two:

stella columbus rose

That’s my Columbus in the middle, and Rosie, her mini-me on the right.

Columbus was lucky to still have his mom in his life. As were a lot of other puppies she helped raise as a foster mom. This guy, in particular…

stellaandoscar

(That’s her and Oscar at the dog park in Connecticut. Photo by Kelly Samoiloff)

Stella lived with us for awhile while Tracey was home. Here’s a picture from that time. I wrote a post about it.

The Community Bone

Once Tracey moved out, every time she came back home Columbus and Koda would run to the car to welcome Stella (and Tracey, but mostly Stella). So excited to see her. They actually overpowered her, jumping on her and just being their own high-energy selves, so we would give her breaks from them.

Here are some other great photos of Stella. Tracey took many of them….

stellaonthemountain stella beauty stealla-smile stellapuppyface

Andy loved Stella. He used to say, “here’s a dog I can finally pet. I can’t even pet our own dog.” (Koda wouldn’t stay still long enough.)  Andy’s love for Stella is why we had puppies at our house. And it’s why we have Columbus, now. And this is actually Andy with Stella, although she and Columbus look A LOT alike. If I didn’t know when the photo was taken, I would have thought it was him.

stellaandandy

Today Stella left us, hit by a car in the prime of her life. Such a sad day. My heart is breaking. All our  hearts are breaking. But Stella will not be forgotten, and she lives on both in our memories and in her puppies (and 12 puppies Columbus recently fathered, born this past week).

Goodbye, Stella. You were a beauty. Thank you for all you were to all of us, but mostly for how you blessed Berto and Tracey, who loved you fiercely and will miss you forever.

stella-glow

 

 

 

 

 

How, now, shall we eat?

Posted by & filed under health, real food.

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farmstand

There are a lot of studies on food out there. And they contradict each other. It’s enough to drive a person mad!

As I looked into all of the recommended “diets” a few years back, I had to take a step back and ponder everything I’d read. And this is what I believe we should be doing.

1. Eat more fruits and vegetables

This one is easy. Unless you don’t like your vegetables. But you can learn to like them! And who doesn’t like fruit? Did you know that nutritious food will turn off our hunger signals sooner than empty calories?

2. Eat less sugar! And whatever you do, don’t eat fake sugar!

Fruit is nature’s candy! And dried fruit even more so. And there are other, more natural sugars that you can still eat in moderation. Honey is my favorite of all of them, but there is also maple sugar, date sugar, coconut syrup.

3. Don’t eat processed foods or foods with ingredients you don’t recognize

Guar gum, carageenan, high fructose corn syrup….and those are the ones we can pronounce. There are also all of the chemical-sounding ingredients. Think about it. Why would you put anything like that in your mouth? Food coloring, too. It’s all fake. Ditch it. You’ll never miss it. And please don’t be duped by the word “natural” on food labels. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s meant to trick people into buying something they think is good for them.

4. Eat food as close to its natural state as possible

I should have put this one first. This is the place I came to after all my research. This eschews the whole meat/vegetarian/vegan/raw/paleo/Mediterranean/low-fat/low-glycemic/yadda/yadda/yadda arguments. Whatever you eat, eat good quality, pure food. Which brings us to the next point….

5. Eat organic

Organic food has to meet certain standards. Unfortunately there is some controversy about what is allowed for those standards, but it’s still healthier than the chemical pesticides on conventional produce. Another important reason to eat organic is that organic food is not genetically modified. So you can have peace of mind that you aren’t ingesting GMOs. Yes, organic food costs more. But not too much more at Trader Joe’s, if you have one nearby, and you can focus on The Dirty Dozen. As I always say, you can pay now (the higher food prices), or you can pay later (the health care system).

6. Eat local

Local food may or may not be organic, but you can ask. It also reduces our carbon footprint by not having to be shipped into town. You get local food at a farm stand, at a farmer’s market, from a neighbor, from a CSA. You can ask the grower directly if they use pesticides. And if you eat meat, find locally raised, grass-fed, free range animals. Besides being healthier because of the food they ingest, they live a happy, stress free life before they become your food.

7. Grow your own

This is my favorite. If you want to be totally sure of the purity of the food you are eating, grow your own! I really miss the warm weather, when I can walk outside and pick what I’m going to have for dinner. Growing your own food connects you to nature and makes you realize the miracle of food which makes it much easier to put down that box of unrecognizable ingredients the next time you are in the grocery store. And I can say that from experience.

8. Listen to your body

Our bodies tell us how to eat, if we listen. How did we feel after that meal? Do we have enough energy to get through the day? Are we craving a particular food (I said food, not salt or sugar!). If we are in tune with our bodies, we will give them what they need.

 

That’s it. My theory on food and diet. But we are all individuals and we all get to choose our own way.  May your way nourish you and give you abundant health!

 

photo credit: NatalieMaynor via photopin cc (cropped by me)

Listen

Posted by & filed under poetry.

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energy (2)

The windmills woooooosh…woooooosh…woooooosh as I walk in the field,
and watch.
There are milkweed here, seed pods open and empty,
their children long-ago sent on their way.
There are grasses and other wild plants
I don’t recognize, browns of all color
waiting to green again.
The sun peeks in and out behind a cloud
and I realize I am in the middle of two
energies, sun and wind.
Natural.
Beautiful.
Powerful.
I bend down to touch the earth with
both hands and I can feel its energy.
I smile as tears trickle.
This is the way it should be.
This is that way it forever was.
Human beings,
part of creation,
feeling it deep inside.
We breath the universe in with each inhale.
The universe breathes us in with each exhale.
I just heard someone say that recently and
it penetrated my soul
and now I will never breathe the same.

Koda, forever energy, wiggles on the snow,
off-leash and happy.
Onto her feet again, she hears a noise.
I see that with my eyes as she stiffens and looks
into the edge of the field.
I follow her gaze.
Is there a creature here out in the wild with us?
Just then, the trees make a sound as the wind travels through them.
It’s the trees Koda, they are talking to us.
I wonder what they are saying?
And at that moment,
I realize they have always been talking to us,
and now it’s time for me to listen.

Cool Water

Posted by & filed under real food.

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Before I start talking about water, does anybody besides me remember this song? I’m not even sure how I know it, but as I sat down to write this post the song popped into my head and I googled “Cool Clear Water” and found this video. It’s a long-ago song about a desert mirage.

Water

Our bodies are made up of 50-65% of it.

70% of the earth’s surface is covered with it.

There is rain, snow, steam and there are oceans, lakes, streams.

Water

It’s all over the place and most of us don’t drink nearly enough of it.

It’s a powerhouse and has zero, count-em, zero, calories.

What could be better than that?

Water

Have a headache? Drink more water.

Want clearer skin? Drink more water.

Want to flush toxins out of your body? Drink more water.

Got a headache? Drink more water. (Headaches are a symptom of dehydration.)

I could go on. But I won’t.

Instead, I’m going to give you a few tips on how to incorporate more water in your life.

1. Upon awakening, pour yourself a big glass of water. Add some lemon to it. Lemon helps detoxify along with water. It’s a great way to start your day, giving your body a gift like that. It also helps hydrate you if you exercise in the morning.

2. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water – or other fluids – a day. But I vote for the water. If me saying “fluids” here makes you think that a glass of soda counts, you just made a bad extrapolation and I will not be responsible for your foolish thinking.

3. It’s probably a good idea to invest in a good water filter. I don’t have any particular recommendations. We have one built into our refrigerator. I’ve given my kids living in the city zero-water pitchers.

4. If you don’t like the taste of water (I love the taste of water, which I realize makes getting enough waaaaaayyyyyy easier) you can dress it up. Add some fruit. Add a splash of fruit juice (try cranberry juice). I love adding mint, bruising the leaves first (just twist them a bit with your hands) to release more flavor. Or drink unsweetened iced tea. Green tea is particularly good for you.

5. To make it easier to count those glasses, get a big container and fill it up with the recommended 64+ ounces. Then fill up your glass from it during the day. You could also make tick marks on a piece of paper. You’ll figure it out.

I know what you are a thinking and, yes, you will need to visit the bathroom more often than usual. No worries, just think of all the toxins flowing out of you. Bye, bye poison!

Now, go into the kitchen, and pour yourself a big glass of cool, clear, water. Your body will be really happy.

And so will I.

You’re never too old for magic

Posted by & filed under my life.

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1st visit

This post is dedicated to my friends Jen and Lexi, for bringing me to Disney World for the first time.

I also want to start off with an apology to my kids for never taking them there. I didn’t know….

Okay, so here I am, 53, and I’d never been to Disney World. I’d been inside Disney a couple of years ago, to the Polynesian for a drink and watching the light show. That was magical, seeing the castle lit from the distance. And I’ve been to Cirque de Soleil down there, too. All of these moments organized by my friend, Alexis, who sure knows how to entertain!

But this year my friends surprised me by telling me they were taking me to Disney World for the first time. They had gotten free tickets for the day from a friend who works there. We got to go to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.

Now, before I go into my impressions of Disney World as a 53 year old, first a step back in time.

Those of you similar in age to me grew up the same way I did, I’m sure, watching Disney shows on Sunday evenings. Disney was a part of our childhood. But I never made it to the Disney World theme park, built in 1971 (I had to look that up, and found this fun article while doing so). Andy and I had talked about going there as part of our honeymoon, but didn’t. We were going to take the kids when they were little, but didn’t. And here’s sort of how we came to that decision….

I had heard all my life how hot and crowded Disney World was. “Don’t go on school vacation!,” everybody said. And all the theme parks I had ever gone to were asphalt jungles with rides and long lines and gum and litter on the ground and concession stands with sugary and fatty food – hot dogs, sausage, fried dough, cotton candy, candied apples, buttered popcorn. Whenever I pictured being in Disney that’s how I pictured it – as a Canobie Lake Park or Great Adventure theme park, supersized. And I knew Epcot had international food, but I imagined it all as concession areas under a huge tent with a ton of picnic benches to sit at. Every time I pictured that in my mind plus tons of people milling around and waiting forever in the hot sun for a 2 minute ride, I thought my-oh-my wouldn’t a dude ranch vacation be way more fun! So that’s what we did with the kids instead of Disney. And it was fun and a great memory. But if I had known Disney was so magical, and so beyond anything I had ever imagined, we would have taken the kids there and watched them be charmed by the place. Yes, we would have.

Instead of a wide-open asphalt jungle, Disney has a quaint bunch of themed mini-parks within a park with beautiful, colorful buildings and walkways; meandering lines with interesting things to look at while you wait; good, healthy food; and a message of world peace and happiness.

Instead of gum and trash on the ground, the walkways were clean and some even lit up and sparkled at night.

Instead of a pavilion of international food and outside picnic benches, there were full-fledged restaurants from every country, whose buildings looked like they do in their own country.

Some rides were entertaining. Some were educational. Some were thrilling. Some were a combination.

All were fun.

It is a place for everyone to connect to the kid part of themselves.

And we had a magical day. Between fast passes and iffy weather (it never rained and the weather got better as the day progressed), we were able to go on lots of rides (we stuck to a lot of the classics like Small World, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted House, the Carousel of Progress, and the Epcot dome) and we saw a huge amount of the park and got in lots of walking. We were there for over 12 hours, actually. It was a full day. And I’m not sure if I ever stopped smiling.

I still am, actually.

My favorite moments were being overcome by the beautiful message and absolute charm of A Small World, the surprises on all the rides (the first time is so fun because you never know what to expect), the unbelievable feeling of the ride Soarin’, the educational part of Epcot, the memories that flooded me of the Disney I grew up with, all the little details Disney pays attention to (that is something you wouldn’t appreciate as a kid but do as an adult), and the wonder everywhere you looked.

And sharing it with my friends. You are never to old to indulge your inner child.

And we did!

Spring is in the air

Posted by & filed under the puppy diaries.

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springisintheair

“Koda, I do believe I smell spring. Even as we sit on this big blob of snow.”

“Me too. And it’s nice to be able to taste my tennis ball again. No more ice ball.”

“Do you see a bird over there? I think I see a bird.”

“Yeah, I see it.”

“That’s a good sign, right?”

“Yup.”

“Maybe some of our bones will start showing up soon.”

“I’ve got my eye out for them.”

“Sure will be nice to roll on the grass again.”

“Sure will.”

“And dig in the dirt.”

“We aren’t supposed to do that.”

“I know, but it sure will be nice.”

“Yeah, Columbus, it sure will.”

Happy Valentine’s Day

Posted by & filed under poetry.

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To our world,

our galaxy,

and all of our awakenings…

To love,

To beauty,

and living in harmony….

To peace,

To joy,

and living authentically…

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

to all of us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: write_adam via photopin cc

A time to say goodbye

Posted by & filed under my life.

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awardsLook at these, would ya? The bottom one doesn’t mean anything to me as far as the patent goes….it was the result of me pitching an idea for one of our products to the designer working on it and he replied, “you know, that would go really good with a patent Andy and I are submitting.” And so I went along for the ride. It has a side story to it, though, which I’ll go into in a bit.

The top one actually did mean a little bit to me. I got recognized for my contributions to a product to which I gave my blood, sweat, and tears for 4+ years. The latest version of it is actually published. (As was an earlier version.) I began as the sole person on this toolkit, but then I partnered on it with another developer and for the last couple of years 3 of us were working on it.

Okay, now for the story of the first award. I got it in the mail, January 2007. A cardboard box came from IBM. “What could this be,” I wondered? I opened it up and when I saw it I started laughing (I am not a patent-type person, I believe in open source, cooperative development, and the sharing of ideas). Then I burst out crying. That took me by surprise. I remember praying “God, you know this doesn’t matter to me. Show me what I can do that has meaning.”

A couple of hours later, there was a delivery man at the door. With flowers. They were from an exchange student we took in during the last part of her stay when it wasn’t working out with her host family. The card said “Thank you for taking me in when I needed you the most.” It was like God showing me that it wasn’t work where I was making my impact. My job was enabling me to do things like take in exchange students, sponsor children in other countries, and do stuff for my own kids.

Like putting them through college.

And so I put the plaque on my wall. And stuck the card from the flowers on top of it. And as I got additional thank you notes, I stuck them on top of the patent. Until you really couldn’t read it anymore. But it was a reminder of that question asked and answered 7 years ago.

Now it’s time for both of them to go. I’ve read before that if you have trophies (not me, I wasn’t that athletic) sitting up in your attic, take a picture of them then toss them. You still have the memory in the picture but there comes a time in your life when you aren’t going to display all the trophies from your childhood. I thought that was a good idea. I mean, these plaques would still fit in an office setting, but I’d rather have bright lovely art on my wall. And so I’ve taken a picture. And now I bid both of these awards adieu.

The trash truck comes tomorrow.