A Day of Self-Discovery

Today has been a day of self-discovery and adventure for me, starting with a walk with my dogs, working out on the treadmill, and writing again. For weeks, perhaps months, I have battled with self-doubt that I could ever write again. Yes, I’ve posted on my blog, but I kept allowing negative vibes to creep inside. Today is a different day. After writing a blog post, I recognized that the words were beginning to creep back inside me.

This led me to thinking — something I do lots of times. In my lifetime I have always been the type of personality to speak to strangers. Trust me…it drives my husband crazy. He simply cannot understand how I can see someone on the streets and say, ‘Hello,’ with a smile on my face. He’s told me many times that one day someone was going to take advantage of me because of my friendly personality. Oh well. It hasn’t changed me! Still, I speak to strangers everywhere…on the street corners…at the mall…while shopping at the grocery store, and other scenarios. Most people will nod, or say hello, but continue to move on.

Many years ago I took a trip with ten women. I was the youngest in the group. When we arrived in San Francisco, a man on the street corner ran me down. He tapped me on the shoulder. I spun around. “Hello, Sir. Can I help you?”

“I think I should warn you,” he said. He was dressed in a faded plaid shirt, tattered jeans, old shoes. “You should be careful who you speak to along the streets of San Francisco. Someone might hurt you. People don’t speak to you here.” 

I smiled. Shook his hand and thanked him. He walked away. Meanwhile, I continued to say hello to people along the busy streets. I was confident. Happy to be in San Francisco!

Crossing the street, I noticed an older woman. She reminded me of my grandmother, deceased many years prior. Dressed in a crinkled dress with gold buttons, her hair knotted into a bun, pearl earrings in her ears, I smiled at her and said, “Hello.”

She stopped. Smiled and I continued to walk along the sidewalk, headed to a drug store. I needed hair spray and a few toiletries. Little did I know the woman was following me. I reached for the door of the drug store. Holding the door for others to enter, the woman approached me.

“Hello,” she said. “You spoke to me! You said hello. No one ever speaks to me and I wanted to thank you.”

I smiled. “You’re welcome, Ma’am!”

“You must be from the South. People here…in San Francisco…we don’t talk and it’s nice to have someone just say hello to me.”

I invited her for a cup of coffee. “My treat,” I said.

Over coffee Ruth told me about her life. Her husband died years ago. Her children were grown. “They’re so busy with their lives they don’t have time for an old lady such as me.”

“You’re lonely,” I said, reaching to touch her hand.

“Yes, I suppose you could say so. I live downtown in a retirement village and no one speaks. No one.”

“I did,” I said. 

“You made my day, today. I’ve felt so alone that I wanted to die. I’ve been praying that God would take me because no one cared, and then, out of the blue…you spoke to me.”

Although my day had been planned, I chose to change my plans on that day. I walked Ruth back to her apartment and I hugged her when we parted. From time to time I’ve thought about her, but we did not keep in touch. I’ve never forgotten how touched she was that a complete stranger spoke to her at a time when she needed a friend.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons that I still speak, to total strangers. My dad taught me the habit, telling me that you never know when a simple hello can brighten someone’s day. Just like it did with Ruth! I lost my dad in 1999 after a brutal battle with cancer. Still, he is inside my heart and I fill his presence every day.

“Hello,” I say with a smile.

Today has been a day of self-discovery — a day I’ve actually found the words to write again after a long absence. Perhaps the walking helped me today, or maybe it was the discovery that life must continue, and we must make the efforts to enjoy every breath we are blessed to share with life and those we love. “Hello…How are you today?”



Communicating With My Precious Animals

My silly pups. Prince Midnight Shadow, my cold black giant schnauzer rushes inside to brush against the leashes, hanging near my office. He is telling me he is ready to walk today. “Mommy,” he says, staring into my eyes. “It’s nice outside today. The heat will not burn my paws. Can we go for a walk later?” I smile. Nod at him. Now, he is resting by the leashes. And to think, I’ve actually been told that only a ‘crazy person would believe that dogs communicate and understand what we are saying to them.’ I smile, snickering to those people saying, “Maybe you are the crazy one…I communicate with my animals. They understand what I say, and they love me for communicating and understanding their needs.’ Like earlier this morning, when Hankster the Prankster, my smallest mini-schnauzer, raised up by my legs, wanting me to pick him up. He doesn’t like to be picked up. He’s always afraid that he might get hurt. It is so obvious that he was mistreated by someone. It doesn’t matter who mistreated him. All that matters now is he is not closed inside a crate where he was barking…barking…barking…at the top of his little lungs when I agreed to foster him. It doesn’t matter that someone raised their arms to him, ready to attack him. It doesn’t matter that he was dropped off at a kill shelter, to end his life. What does matter is this little guy has found a home that loves him, regardless of his demeanor, temperament, and personality. He is finally getting more comfortable with us, and he hasn’t snapped at my husband’s hands in a few days. That is an accomplishment for him. Although he is small, he is powerful and quick with his mouth. He defends me from everyone!

Hank is unafraid and will protect his mommy, at all cost. He doesn’t care that something or someone could harm him. He cares about me and his home. That is, now that he has a home that accepts him and is teaching him he doesn’t need to snap at others. All he needs to do is trust. Today, when he raised up on my legs, he scratched his little paw on my leg, as if to say, ‘pick me up, Mommy.’

“What’s the matter, little buddy,” I asked him? “Do you want Mommy to pick you up?” He growled. When he growls it is usually a warning to back off, but I carefully scoop him up in my arms. He grunts, placing his little salt and pepper fur next to me, then he cuddles next to my neck. This is something he has never done before. He rears back, to look into my eyes. “What’s the matter, Hankster? Are you finally saying how much you love me and this home?”

He grunts again. I place him down. Moments later, he returns. He wants me to pick him up again, and so, I do. We talk for a bit without saying words. Our eyes stare into one another. He moans, moves his head close to my chest. He is telling me how much he loves me. My eyes fill with tears.

Today is Wednesday, a day of remembrance for me. On Wednesday, May 2, 2012, I lost my precious Prince Marmaduke Shamus, also known as “Shamey-Pooh.” Wednesdays are still a sad day for me. Words cannot express how deeply my heart ached after losing Shamey-Pooh. A tsunami of grief appeared to wash over me, like a gigantic, rushing, angry tide and for weeks I wasn’t certain if I would survive. I did survive. The sun still rose in the morning, and set at night. Bills still needed to be paid, and Father Time continued to tick, tick, tick the minutes of life by. Still, my heart ache for the loss of Shamus continued, and that is when I decided to foster Hank, until Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas could find a suitable home. Hankster and I bonded, even after he left our home for an adoptive home. I dreamed about him on several occasions, dreaming he wanted to come back to us. That dream came true, like many of my dreams.

Last October, Hankster returned. When I suggested allowing us to pick him up from his adoptive parents, some people were afraid he would not remember us. At first, he seemed aggressive, only to relax inside the car when he heard me singing. Silly dog. I think he remembered that I liked to sing. Arriving home, he rushed inside, to the water bowl, the toy box, and to greet our children. Hankster announced, “Hey guys, I’m back!”

Today, Hankster communicated to me — as if to say — thank you! Snuggling next to me for a few minutes, he grunted, and then he brushed my face with a soft kiss, something he never does! Now, he is resting next to me, along with Shasta, and Sandy Bear. Hankster is home! It is such a beautiful, cooler day outside so I’ve decided a brisk walk with my babies will be more healing to me than a treadmill!