Monday Meeting — Rowden & Leizel’s Wedding

In early 2014, Rowden and Leizel decided that they would get married this upcoming July. Shortly after making that decision, Rowden was unexpectedly diagnosed with stage IV liver cancer. Unable to leave the hospital, it became clear to the couple that the thought of Rowden making it to their wedding day was more than wishful thinking.


Not wanting Rowden to leave this world without having married the love of his life, his friends and family worked together with the hospital to bring the ceremony to him. It took 12 hours of preparation, but they were able to do it–and, oh, what a ceremony it was.


Rowden died less than ten hours later, leaving behind his wife Leizel and their 2-year-old daughter Zakiah. While he is no longer physically with them, they’ll always have this moment to look back on.

Source: YouTube and the Kindness Blog

Today’s Quote


You simply cannot give to the world all that you have to give
if you do not remain true to your own ‘selfish’ desires.
You have a unique set of precious values that can only be fulfilled
by pursuing what drives you the most:
your passions and dreams.
Could Thomas Edison have tended to the downtrodden as Mother Teresa did?
Could Albert Einstein have preached salvation as Martin Luther King Jr. did?
Could Abraham Lincoln have built cars like Henry Ford?
Always, the masses benefit from the individuals
who insist on marching to the beat of their own drummer.

~ Mike Dooley ~

Today’s Quote I

This is what you shall do:
love the earth and the sun and the animals,
despise riches,
give alms to everyone that asks,
stand up for the stupid and crazy,
devote your income and labor to others,
hate tyrants, argue not concerning god,
have patience and indulgence toward the people,
go freely with powerful uneducated persons
and with the young and the mother of families,
re-examine all you have been told at school
or church or in any book,
dismiss whatever insults your own soul…

~ Walt Whitman ~

I’m Wearing Down to the Real

[Quotes from “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams]


Some days, getting older is a real drag (literally and figuratively)…the graying hair, the middle-aged spread, the skin spots, the forgetfulness, the sense of being either in the way or invisible to the younger generations…

…and on other days, getting older is tempered by the Velveteen Rabbit.

velveteen rabbit I

Let’s face it — I’m wearing down to the Real.

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse.
“It’s a thing that happens to you..
When a child loves you for a long, long time,
not just to play with, but REALLY loves you,
then you become Real…It doesn’t happen all at once.
You become. It takes a long time.”

It has taken a long time, but sometimes it feels like overnight. Wasn’t it just a short time ago that I graduated from college, then optometry school? Set up my practice, got married, became a mother? In fact, when did I become my mother when I look in a mirror? (See: When Did I Start to Look Like My Mother?)

I’m wearing down to the Real.

“Generally, by the time you are Real,
most of you hair has been loved off,
and your eyes drop out
and you get loose in the joints
and very shabby.
But these things don’t matter at all,
because once you are Real,
you can’t be ugly except to people
who don’t understand.”

My hair is getting gray at the roots, my eyes haven’t dropped out but night-time driving in the rain is risky, and there’s a certain delayed reaction with certain joints — I get up but my body lags behind my head. If my joints aren’t cracking, they’re stiff.

But I’m wearing down to the Real.

Only authentic goods here.

My heart is bigger, my insight deeper, my tolerance wider, my amusement heartier, as I get worn down to a well-loved vehicle. And I hate to admit it, but I even have some shabby – or is it flabby – matronly moments, too.

“When you are Real, shabbiness doesn’t matter.”

But it’s taken me a long time to get to the Real Theresa…the reason-for-being, meaning and purpose in life, I can die and will have made a small positive difference Theresa who is comfortable in her own wearing out skin.

And that’s a good thing, because in wearing down to the Real,

“Once you are Real, you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

I’m wearing down to the Real.

I’m steeped in readiness.

And I am blessed, indeed.

velveteen rabbit


That Empty Nest…

For those of you who haven’t already,
please read the following posts first to fully appreciate today’s post:

In Love Again at My Age?
What I’ve Learned From My New Love

Well, it’s finally happened. One of the 3 Pittsburgh Hays eaglets flew for the first time last week on National Bald Eagle Day. And what a glorious sight it was…

pittsburgh eaglets VII

The eaglets, who are now almost the size of their parents, have been identified as 2 females and 1 male. There’s been a whole lot of wing flapping going on, and sometimes they actually flap enough to be lifted an inch or two above their nest. They have also been branching, or going further and further out on the limbs of their roosting tree.

And then, one of the eaglets flew. When I watched the video of its first flight, I just kept shouting, “It flew! It flew!” There was enough joy in my voice to almost match when my son took his first steps without falling.

Am I crazy? Maybe. Am I invested in the well-being of these eaglets that I’ve watched through incubation, hatching, feeding, branching and now fledging these past 3-plus months? Absolutely! My maternal instinct is at full throttle, and I’m their cheering section, worried mother, avian advocate and ardent supporter all rolled into one proud middle-aged package. This must be what being a grandparent is like, but without being able to hold the baby in your arms. So instead, I smother them with kisses (read: encouraging shouts) from afar.

Soon, the brother and sister will take test their wings and fly for the first time. That will leave an empty nest. And for the second time in my life, I’ll get to experience just what the Empty Nest Syndrome is all about.

The first was with my son. Who knew the mother of an only child would experience a second one, this one filled with feathers and dead fish, bird poop and rodent remnants?

And you know what? This Empty Nest is just beautiful!



Monday Meeting – What This Man Saw His Little Boy Doing Is Amazing. But What Happened Next? Even Better.

A few months ago, news emerged about a little boy in the Philippines named Ken who began taking walks every day. His father followed him out of curiosity and discovered that his loving son was looking after three very sick puppies that were living on the streets. After that, Ken and his dad Kay began looking out for them.

Ken I

Not long after discovering the puppies, Ken and his dad decided to rescue them. First, they were taken off of the streets and put into a temporary home inside of a garage. Given the nature of their mange, they had to be isolated and handled carefully.  That decision to rescue them turned into so much more: The Happy Animals Club.

Ken II

Ken had wanted to start an animal shelter since he was 8 years old. So it makes sense that he was so dedicated to the three little pups he found. Donations and dog food from all over the world helped Ken keep these dogs healthy. First, they needed to be put on an anti-mange regimen that involved shots and lots of bathing. The donations helped them buy imported dog food for the malnourished animals, which is costly in the Philippines. Soon, the three began to put on weight, regrow their fur and learned to trust humans.

Blackie, who was fearful before, turned out to be an extremely affectionate, loving dog who would rather hug than eat dinner. She is one happy animal!

Ken IV

Brownie surprised everyone with a gorgeous coat.

And the little white puppy is now an affectionate bundle of joy. She loves running and playing in the park.

They leased a small lot so that they could begin rescuing dogs from the pound. So far, not a single animal welfare organization has stepped forward. The 9 year-old boy’s Happy Animals Club will be the first non-profit to start rescuing dogs from certain death, and the first no-kill animal shelter on the island of Mindanao.

Before they got to work, they got their rabies shots… Ken is happy to dedicate time to the animals, even when the city is experiencing “brownouts” due to lack of available power.

Thanks to many generous donations, work has started on the Happy Animals Club animal shelter! The first task is to build a fence so that the dogs don’t go running onto the street whenever the gate is opened.

Ken IX

This all started as a boy who was kind hearted and generous enough to begin watching over three sick puppies on the streets. It turned into something absolutely incredible. Not only are those dogs happy and healthy, but because of Happy Animal Club and kind strangers all over the world, more dogs in the Philippines are going to be rescued. We’d like to give a big THANK YOU to Ken and Kay for all of their hard work. We also want to thank the wonderful people everywhere that sent in donations to help these dogs heal and find a home.

Heroes don’t have capes. They have big hearts.



Source: Kindness Blog

Today’s Quote

flags III

So what will define greatness for your generation?
I believe it is to use the knowledge
that you have earned here to find ways,
not only to connect to computers,
but to connect people;
not only to bridge gaps in science,
but to bridge gaps between cultures;
not only to use numbers and formulas to create,
but to use words to lead,
and in the process,
to close that canyon
between ignorance and understanding.

~ Carly Fiorina ~

Today’s Quote

       Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

Champions aren’t made in gyms.
Champions are made from something
they have deep inside them —
a desire, a dream, a vision.
They have to have last-minute stamina,
they have to be a little faster,
they have to have the skill and the will.
But the will must be stronger than the skill.

~ Muhammad Ali ~

A Summer Blessing

flowers III

Blessed are you, summer,
season of long days and short nights,
you pour forth light from your golden orb,
energizing the earth and calling forth growth.

Blessed are you summer,
with your generous gift of heat.
Your warm breath animates creation,
encouraging all growing things to stretch toward the sun.

Blessed are you, summer,
you call us into playfulness,
encouraging us to pause from work.
You renew our spirits.

Blessed are you, gracious season of summer,
you surprise us with a variety of gifts from the earth.
We, too, gaze into the earth of ourselves,
beholding gifts waiting to be honored.

Blessed are you, nurturing season of summer,
your fruits and vegetables appear on our tables,
changing them into altars.
Tasting of your life, we are made strong.

Blessed are you, summer,
host of a star that shines with passion.
Sun-soaked, we reach for your energy
that drives us upward and onward.

Blessed are you, sacrament of summer,
nature’s green season, sweet echo of spring.
You speak to us in living color as you renew the earth
with symbols of life for our bodies and souls.

Blessed are you, summer,
season of roots that reach for water.
Even through the cracks in the sidewalk
the song of your seed can be heard.

Blessed are you, summer,
season rooted in reality.
Even as the perspiration collects on our brow,
we experience your earthly joy.

Blessed are you, summer,
and your firefly evenings
you minister to the child in us.
You feed our hunger for beauty.

~ Joyce Rupp ~
~ Macrina Wiederkehr ~

Today’s Quote

cala liliesl

Simplicity. Patience. Compassion.

These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in action and thoughts,
you return to the source of Being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.

~ Lao Tzu ~

Thursday Re-View — Tanzania

Africa 2011 064

I have been fortunate enough in my life to travel to many different places; you have my parents to blame when they took me on my first plane ride (to Florida) when I was 16 years old. I was bitten by the travel bug, and I’ve been taking trips ever since.

Even the planning of them is fun – I research the destination, its history, the people and go from there. I’ve always believed that crossing borders helps to break down borders, and that visiting other countries helps us to learn tolerance and respect of other cultures, as well as offering discoveries not only of other places but also ourselves.

The essence of living is discovering.”
~ Vijay Krishna, Indian Scholar

When I return from a trip, I am usually glad to be home, even though it isn’t long before I am envisioning my next adventure far, far away. But Tanzania was different.

I didn’t want to come home. Really – I didn’t want to come home.

In all of my travels, in all of my adult life, I never felt more at home than when I was in Tanzania. I belonged.

The peace I felt in Tanzania, the quiet, the rightness of it is hard to describe. It was nature as it should be, without the technology or infrastructure or constant noise or smog or fast food or overcrowding. Just the animals ruling their kingdom, and a small number of humans trying to honor them in their habitat, without leaving too many footprints. We were the guests.

When we visited a residential school for Tanzanian children, they greeted us with bare feet and smiles. When I climbed out of our Land Rover, at least (no exaggeration) 100 children surrounded me, smiling shyly. I said hello to each one of them, and some of them shook my hand. But most of them just wanted to touch my arm; they seemed fascinated by my pale skin, and they explored with the gentlest of fingers. Their classrooms were wooden benches in old, plastered buildings, their dorms more of the same. The ingredients for their meals of beans and rice were stacked in burlap sacks in a storeroom.

But each child was so proud of their school, and the opportunity it gave their future. They actually had an old model copy machine under lock and key, but the school didn’t have enough money to buy paper for their final exams. Paper that cost all of around $10 was a luxury they could not afford.

Dung hut

All of the moments were special, but one rises above the rest in my memory, filled with laughter. We arranged a night drive in order to try to track a leopard that had been seen in the area. On this game drive, there were 6 of us in a tiered seat Jeep: the four of us from the USA, our Tanzanian guide/driver and a tracker who sat on the left front part of the vehicle, on a seat attached to the hood. In order to not disturb the nocturnal animals, we traveled without headlights. The tracker had a red light with him, so that if we saw an animal, we could actually “see” it without bothering the wildlife with the harsh glare of a spotlight.

At night. No paved roads. Barely a trail. No head lights. Driving a few feet from the edge of a 12-foot drop to a dried out river bed (Tanzania was suffering another drought). At a high rate of speed. Hitting bumps and tree limbs and rocks and mud wallows. The driver using one hand to steer and the other to hold a walkie-talkie, conferring with another guide driving on the opposite side of the river bed. Eyes glued to the darkness, hoping to see any sign of the leopard’s spots.

Did I mention the high rate of speed in the bush without headlights? Our bodies were literally lifting off of the (hard) wooden bench seats – there are no seat belts in the Serengeti Plain – as we tore off-road. (Note: it takes an awful lot of momentum to get my body to lift off a seat on its own!!!). I’m smiling, my son is whooping with excitement, his fiancé is quietly hanging on, and my husband – always practical – is yelling, “This violates every safety regulation I ever learned…”

All this time, the six of us, with two in broken English, were belting out “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” with blistering enthusiasm. Everyone knew the words; this was something that transcended cultures and perfectly fit the moment.

“A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, aweema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, aweema-weh, a-weema-weh… In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight; in the jungle, the quiet jungle, the lion sleeps tonight. A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh… Near the village, the peaceful village, the lion sleeps tonight; Near the village, the quiet village, the lion sleeps tonight…”

In that moment, there was nothing but sheer joy in the experience. No worries…be happy. That kind of joy. Why worry about safety or being eaten by predators in the wilds of the Tanzanian bush? This was heaven, and the only race here was human.

And I swear that I heard a clan of hyenas laughing along with us…

Oh – I almost forgot – were we successful in our hunt? Yes, we spotted the leopard and tracked him for a few miles, until he disappeared into thick brush.

Leopard at night

On the day of our departure, each time we made a stop in our small plane, heading closer and closer to “civilization,” something in me would protest. My heart left a piece of itself imprinted on the land.

Why return to my fast-paced life when I could retain this simplicity – this authenticity – and be part of this more genuine-feeling “Circle of Life?”

Back at my American home, I wouldn’t think of sleeping with the doors unlocked or only a wall of screens between me and my neighbors. In Tanzania, out in the bush, on safari, surrounded by thousands of predators, I felt safe and at peace. I belonged there.

Come to think of it, I probably do.

A few years ago, my husband and I decided to take part in the National Geographic Genographic Project, which, with the DNA of participants all over the world, historical patterns in the collected DNA would be analyzed to learn about each person’s “deep ancestry,” or the migration paths of our ancient ancestors hundreds of thousands of years ago.

What were the results of my ancestral make-up, my “ground zero?” East Africa. Which includes Tanzania, the place that felt like home. Where I belonged.

My ancestors then migrated to West Africa, to Northern Africa (Egypt), then the Sinai Peninsula, Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean, to the Western Mediterranean. This route, from Eastern Africa to the Western Mediterranean, coincides with my paternal and maternal grandparents all emigrating to the USA (through Ellis Island) from Italy and Hungary in the early 1900s.

In Tanzania, my soul recognized that I was home. My cellular makeup affirmed where it all began. It was as if the land and the animals sang a song to my soul, and I answered its familiar refrain from so very long ago.

I walked in the desert but had no thirst. I sat with the animals but had no fear. I watched the Maasai dance, and the rhythm of their drums was already a part of me. Its melody sang and my soul rejoiced.

I will return to you, Tanzania. To your land, your people, your essence. I promised my soul it would once again dance in your sunset and be at peace.



Midwife of Meaning

O Midwife of Meaning,
tend me with Your loving presence,
Your gentle heart, Your capable hands.

I am pregnant with possibilities as I enter the autumn of my life
with the hope that I might experience the crisp leaves of scarlet and bronze,
of orange and gold, at least once more before the seasons change.

I am pregnant with the faith that I shall be given warmth and shelter in the coming winter,
along with a peaceful understanding of what this time of life brings.

I am pregnant with a seed, a thought, a whisper, a promise,
that I shall become more real as I become more worn;
that I shall become more true as I become more real.

The contractions of my womb produce an authentic me,
my soul shining bright amid the ravages of age.

O Midwife of Meaning, I am pregnant with Divinity.
Allow me to birth Love,
allow me to birth Hope,
allow me to birth Self.
Imago Dei.

O Midwife of Meaning,
tend me with Your loving presence,
Your gentle heart, Your capable hands.