Diesel is Home

Today I cleaned off the glass door which leads outside. It was covered with Diesel’s paw prints and smudged by his nose and tongue prints, the signs of a dog desperate to be on whatever side of the glass we were on, always wanting to be near his friends. As I cleaned off those prints I was struck by the thought that I was wiping away his prints for the last time. Then I glanced to my left and there on the table sat his ashes and a copy of his paw prints; one of the left, and one of the right. Typically the vet’s office only does one paw, but Ron and I disagreed on which paw they should print. I wanted his left and Ron his right. The kind veterinarian said he would do both. This may seem like a ridiculous disagreement about which paw to print but his paw prints were very unique, each telling a story of who he was. The left had only 3 toes, the scar he wore from that toe being removed just months ago due to bone cancer. His right paw was totally intact. Each one is perfect in it’s own way. 

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Diesel was a hands (or paws) on dog. If you petted him (which he demanded) he had to touch you back. No one got a calm greeting by Diesel, but rather an enthusiastic touch, lick, and in-your-face meet and greet. His touch was not light, after all he weighed nearly one hundred pounds, and rested all his weight on your lap or arms, making it nearly impossible to give back the touch he so enthusiastically sought. It was just his way of loving you. If you didn’t like animals Diesel was not the dog you wanted to meet. He could be downright frightening with his size and enthusiasm charging full speed ahead straight toward you. If you loved dogs you noticed his tail wagging with love as he approached, and you knew he was not to be feared. But you had better not mind a wet kiss, a heavy paw, a deep look into your eyes, an affectionate nudge, and a lot of fur left behind on your clothing.

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Diesel bonded with everyone, but he and my husband Ron had a special attachment. Diesel would lay in the driveway while Ron was working in the garage, keeping a close watch on everything going on around him, yet one eye on Ron at all times, always the protector. One hot Phoenix day Diesel was in the garage (in the shade) with Ron when the UPS truck pulled up. Diesel jumped up and headed full speed ahead toward the truck and driver. Delivery people tend to be really terrified of dogs, and we were concerned how the driver was going to respond, but Diesel was well on his way by the time Ron could call him back. The driver froze in his steps and looked at the dog, then at Ron, then again at the dog. What happened next left us all laughing hysterically. Diesel ran right past the driver, paying no attention to him at all, and with a leap and bound landed right inside the air conditioned truck settling in on the cool floor.

I have endless stories and fond memories of our beloved Diesel. He was a lover, a survivor, a protector, and always a friend. Ron rescued him at about ten months old; large, untrained, strong and a little scary to me, yet eager to please and quick to learn. Diesel watched closely over all the kids, but especially Melissa who often was on the floor stretching and moving about. He tolerated all her attempts to try to get him to bark (because that made her laugh). He protected her and embraced her, especially when therapists were in our home. 

While Diesel protected and loved us, he never gave up his own fight for survival. He wore a bullet in his hip for 11 years, something we assume he got while living in the rural desert before we met him. He had arthritis which only slightly slowed him down and survived three different types of cancer and surgeries to remove them. He was my hiking buddy until his paws could no longer stand the rough ground of the desert, and he spent hours comforting the many wounds of his human friends. He was by my son’s side when he came home from the hospital recovering from two shattered lower legs. He lay by my bed when I recovered from various surgeries and always notified me of any (perceived) dangers, such as the UPS and pizza delivery folks, Jehovah Witnesses at the door, or girl scouts selling cookies. He lay by Zach when he returned from surgery this past summer, and right by Ron’s side when he was recovering from surgery for the rod he had placed in his broken leg, always by his side as he built back his strength. He often walked the labyrinth with me, typically leaving before me and keeping a watchful eye from a distance until I finished. I felt his presence with me in the labyrinth yesterday as I walked, and it brought me peace. Our other dog, Gypsy walked with me too for the first time since Diesel physically left us. She must have felt his presence also. I cannot recall anything about Diesel that does not bring a smile to my face.

When I got the call yesterday that his ashes were ready to be picked up. I could not bring myself to get them, so I called Ron to see if he would be able to pick them up on his motorcycle. Later, I asked him if it was difficult to go there and get them, and his response was, “No, not at all. Diesel is home with us now.” We have his ashes, both his paw prints, and two small clips of his fur. He is back home with us now, and he remains with love in our hearts forever.

Trying to Express, with love and gratitude for the gift of love from a true friend!

 

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It’s All About the Journey

As I make my slow pilgrimage through the world, a certain sense of beautiful mystery seems to gather and grow. ~A.C. Benson 

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For many centuries people have embarked on sacred journeys, or pilgrimages, to shrines, temples, cathedrals and other holy destinations. In Medieval times priests sent poor people on these sacred journeys telling them they would be closer to securing a place in heaven and saving their souls if they prayed at these holy places, offering gifts to the monks and Lords. Poor people traveled great distances on foot, often finding peace at these places or what they believed to be redemption for their souls.  Wealthy people would pay the poor to go on pilgrimages for them, sure this would also secure their place in Heaven (some things never change).

Today these journeys continue and people spend days, months or years traveling to far off lands to find what is missing in their lives, turn inward, find peace and nurture their souls. Elizabeth Gilbert spent a year doing this and sharing it with us in her book, Eat, Pray, Love. Wayne Dyer spent a year living the Tao, and then shared his interpretation in Living the Wisdom of the Tao, and his experiences and insights in many of his other books and lectures. He also takes people on tours to prearranged destinations to embark on their own personal journeys. He shares these experiences in his lectures from time to time.

Pilgrimages have become popularized again, in our modern times, and have almost been celebrated as something we have to do to really look inward, become enlightened, see who we are and whether we are living the life we have come here to live. It’s a spiritual journey we feel we can only get from walking the holy places on earth. Many people feel they have really missed out on something if they have not embarked upon one of these journeys.

Did you know you can “Google” Pilgrimage tours and find a destination that will best suit your budget, needs and desires? The most common destination seems to be India, but there are many places apparently where we can better “find” our true selves and at special group rates! Common destinations seem to be Greece, Italy, Egypt, and Israel. I was somewhat surprised to see Prague, Ireland, Mexico City and Poland as destination Pilgrimage tours. This has become big business in these days of popular spirituality. And, who are you, anyway, if you haven’t been to Lourdes and Assisi? Before I head down a road to sincere sarcasm here, I want to say I have the utmost respect for people who take pilgrimages, and I have heard some of the most emotionally moving stories from those who have traveled to some of these destinations.

I have also heard some of the most beautiful stories of people connecting with their souls (whatever that means to them) in places nearby their homes, while on a nature hike, a visit to the ocean or mountains, while riding public transportation, or at a local homeless shelter. People have amazing experiences while driving down the freeway, talking to a stranger in line at the grocery store, visiting an assisted living or nursing home, helping someone, or listening to music (which I feel offers more power than given credit). I heard an amazing story from a friend who had a very enlightening experience in the Redwood Forest among the towering giants. You can read about one of my own experiences during a visit to the Rocky Mountains a couple years ago here.

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Anyone who knows me or follows me here knows I’m pretty much a hot mess when it comes to figuring out what life is all about or what my purpose is here on earth. I do not live without opinion or judgment. I’ll admit that, while many others will not (yes, I recognize that judgment). I obviously have more questions than answers and I’m quite all right with that. See, when I question, I find insight and it helps push me forward with another question and yet another perspective to consider.

We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us. ~Proust

Some of my personal experiences that have had the greatest impact on my life and uplifted my soul are those I have spent doing what would seem like the most mundane or ordinary activity. I find the most benefit in creative endeavors such as painting or decorating my home, writing, building my labyrinth and our outdoor space this past summer, and hearing children, or anyone, laugh. For it is in that time where it’s felt like minutes, but turned into hours, that I get lost in the Now. I have freed my mind of thoughts and entered a deep trance-like state, held no judgment and truly found joy.

As the calendar flipped over this year, and I evaluated what I’d like to see improve in my life the answer became clear. It was simply everything. Yes, everything. So, I have joined the popular wave of current thought, and am embarking on a Pilgrimage. Of course this is my own pilgrimage with a twist, and I have no gurus, monks, chosen teachers or leaders, except my own heart. I am following my heart. Scary, indeed! I haven’t always listened to my heart so this should be interesting. My heart is speaking. I am listening. My thoughts are interrupting (often) and I am trying to observe them without judgment.

“You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

This pilgrimage or journey as I prefer to call it, takes place in my own home, backyard, and community. It will last 90 days, involves daily meditation, a walk through my labyrinth, reading various chosen materials and journaling daily. I am in a state of mindfulness, noticing everything I do with all my senses, and without judgment. Oops, notice judgment above. Ok, trying not to judge. I’m on day 8.

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This has been incredibly challenging (yes, I know its only day 8) because I am not a disciplined person. Just knowing that I have these things to do everyday and that I have to be mindfully aware and in the present moment is, well, difficult. I’m not fighting it though, and I can say I look forward to my meditations and even more forward to my labyrinth walks. I am doing things I enjoy and trying to bring more creativity and joy into my life.

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I wake up in the morning with a renewed sense of purpose now, looking forward to the day. I don’t generally take the time to think about myself because I have kids who need me, and they get most of my attention. What I’ve discovered so far (yes, in just a week!) is that I am more available for them by being more attentive to myself. It’s all about self-love in the end, I believe.

By sharing this with you, I now have people to hold me accountable, something I don’t generally like so be gentle with me. I’ll be sharing parts of my journey in blogs, although it may be a different location, which I’ll share when I set that up. I hope to see a new, improved me in ninety days. I am inspired and looking forward to the challenge.

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love