Category Archives: art

Always A Race Horse

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”
-Mark Twain

Savannah was beginning to feel the gloom of her surroundings. Only a week ago she was living on a preschool playground with lots of friends. That was until the gang member kidnapped her as part of his initiation. Only no ransom would be demanded. It was over—everyone laughed at how clever he’d been.

Life in the “cave,” as they called the long since abandoned building, was depressing. They came there in the evening to do drugs and put out their cigarettes on her. They strutted around displaying various acts of bravado fueled by lots of liquid courage. Then, the grand crescendo, smashing their bottles against the back wall. Mostly they got into fights with each other and tagged the walls.

She missed the playground with its lush trees and laughing children. The children had called her the Race Horse. It made her feel invincible. Obviously, there was more to being invincible, Savannah decided. She had to keep believing that was still who she was, even if nothing else around her indicated that.

As she looked around at the graffiti, she began to appreciate some of it as being quite artistic. Some with very vibrant colors and 3D effects. But the messages all of it sent were the same, some more blunt than others. Hatred, fear, despair, jealousy, insecurity, lots of anger, blame, hopelessness and no love for themselves or the world. Some she didn’t understand at all. Surely they had once been just like the children at the preschool. Full of joy, excitement and the wonder of life. Somewhere they had gotten abandoned, or worse—just like the building they gravitated to. Here they were, all of them together. They had found each other, like magnets, drawn to one another. All wanting from the others what they couldn’t give themselves—unconditional love. She felt compassion for all of them. The garbage smelled.

If she closed her eyes, she could imagine herself back on the playground. She could hear peals of laughter as the kids bantered over whose turn it was to ride the Race Horse. She imagined herself, a white Arabian horse, galloping on the beach, kicking up sand in the ocean air. She did not have to be her environment. Savannah realized she was the same inside, no matter where she was. She was still the Race Horse, because that’s what made her happiest.

The night stretched into the wee hours. It degenerated into gunfire into the desert sky as they all moved outside to shoot beer bottles. A typical raucous night with her new family. All had gone quiet as the gang dissipated, going their separate ways. A few hours later, Savannah heard a large vehicle just outside. Its headlights shining into the little windowless hole in the wall. It was very early morning, still dark. Something was up.

Three men with hard hats and flashlights entered the cave. Three beams of light painted the walls every which way.
“We might be able to salvage the bricks and resell them,” the tallest one said, looking around. “This will come down pretty fast, and I do think we could get something for the bricks. The paint might even make them sell better to some ‘artsy fartsy’ people.” They laughed.

Savannah felt panic shoot through her as she realized they were talking about tearing down the building! Just when she didn’t think her life could get more challenging, it did.
“Hey, check this out! Pretty cool—I’m going to take it home for the kids and clean it up,” the youngest one said. It took Savannah a minute before she realized she had been saved. “Help me get her on the truck, will you?”

Savannah felt herself being hoisted up and out into the dizzying fresh air. She gulped fresh air deeply, breathing out, ahhh… no garbage. They set her down on the bed of the truck and secured her with straps so she would be safe. Yes, they knew how to take care of a Race Horse, she giggled to herself. She sat in the back of the truck for another hour as they surveyed the rest of the building. She grew anxious waiting. Finally they all came out and piled into the truck.
After a bumpy ride, they stopped abruptly and the engine went quiet. A cloud of dust from the dirt road enveloped her. She couldn’t see a thing but she could hear.

“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy! Is that a horse? Is that for us?”
Several young voices were all talking excitedly over each other. As the dust settled, she could see three young girls and one quiet, overwhelmed little boy. Eyes transfixed on Savannah. They all gathered around as the men lifted her down off the truck and carried her to the garage.

Savannah sat there in the garage for the rest of the day with an occasional visit from one of the children. That evening they watched their Daddy as he carefully cleaned the dust off Savannah. He filled her cigarette holes with putty. He sanded and applied matching white paint to the wounds. Just for fun, he grabbed some tar paper and crafted little blinders for the side of each eye. One little girl said in hushed amazement, “Daddy, she looks just like a race horse!”
Savannah knew she was home.

                                                                                      Be as you wish to seem. – Socrates

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Hearing Without Listening

"I need to listen well so that I hear what is not said." -Thuli Madonsela

“I need to listen well so that I hear what is not said.”
-Thuli Madonsela

Her captor looked on as Annabel became more and more fatigued from her struggle. He laughed and looked at one of his eight watches.
“I can wait.” He grinned.
Annabel saw her mistake so clearly now. He lured her in by appealing to her desire, milkweed. The promise of revealing a secret location where milkweed grew so huge and lush, it was like a forest. He’d lied.

He’d kept telling her to come closer, he couldn’t hear her. Raised to be polite and agreeable, Annabel found herself impossibly stuck now in his web of lies.
After so much useless struggle, she stopped struggling. “Why didn’t I listen to my gut? I knew it sounded too good to be true. If I ever get out of here, I will teach the flock to trust their intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, that’s enough—don’t hang around to figure out why.”  She was chattering aloud, nervously. He smirked and laughed some more, rubbing several legs together. She looked around at her surroundings and took it all in. So this is where it ends, she thought.

To blame him for her predicament was useless. He was just doing all he knows how to do. He really was quite good at it, she admitted—he told her exactly what she wanted to hear. A small part of her prepared to die.

Movement. Out of the corner of her eye, a huge rat blinked at her.
“I can reach you from here,” he said, very matter-of-fact. “I can detach the tethers that hold you in place and destroy the web, but why should I?”

Annabel was shocked at his bluntness as well as his callous attitude. “Uh, because it would make you feel good to be of service to another living being?” she replied, with a hint of sarcasm. She decided to take the friendly route.

“I’m Annabel. What do you like to be called?”
“Sam. But I have never actually helped anybody. I like to figure out ways that I could, but I don’t,” he said, scratching his belly and leaning on the roof gutter.
Annabel seized the moment. “Oh, you need to carry it a step further! Nothing feels as good as helping someone out of a jam. I would be so grateful—and please, I don’t have much time.”

“Stay out of this, you ugly rodent!” said the spider.
Sam took offense at being called a rodent. “I’m not afraid of you, Sedgwick! Your deceitful conning and pretentious nature are legendary around here!”
The spider watched as Sam took a swoop through three strands of web, partially freeing Annabel.
“Apologize,” demanded Sam, as he poised an arm over more of the web that held the now very excited Annabel. She struggled to free herself as Sedgwick said, “Never apologize. It’s a sign of weakness. How you deal with my insults doesn’t concern me—you’re hypersensitive. I am doing what I do.”

“As am I.” Sam took another swoop through the remaining strands of web that still held Annabel.
Annabel flapped awkwardly as she freed herself. Filled with the joy of freedom once again, she fluttered over to Sam and kissed the top of his head. “Thank you! Bless you, Sam—and may good fortune soon come your way for your random act of kindness!”

He smiled as he watched her flutter away and thought that it did feel good to help someone so beautiful out of a jam. He turned his attention back to Sedgwick. Sitting, all legs crossed, very angry, not as bold, in the center of his partially-destroyed, now empty empire. Gently tugging on a strand of web, Sam slowly reeled in the spider, like a fish on a line.

“She was mine, rodent! You had no business interfering with my affairs. I lured her by offering what I knew she desired—what’s wrong with…” On and on Sedgwick’s tirade went, up until Sam opened his mouth wide and ate him.

Annabel never could have imagined such a wildly orchestrated outcome to her seemingly hopeless predicament. She realized that she not only had to hear her little inner voice, but listen to it as well.

A Burden, A Gift, A Purpose

“Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” -Golda Meir

Daisy stretched and turned to the skin she’d just left behind. As she let out a little cough, a tiny spark escaped, much to her surprise. She watched as her exuvia shriveled and burned, fell off the stem and onto the surface of the murky swamp.
What an interesting thing to be able to do, Daisy thought. She wondered if all the dragonflies could spark. She quickly discovered they could not, and she wondered why she could. I enjoy it, but of what good is it? I don’t see that the other dragonflies can spark; I don’t like to be different. They might not like me if they knew, she lamented to herself. Daisy decided things were not off to a good start. Best to keep it to herself so she would fit in. It wasn’t long before she discovered she actually loved to spark! She started to make excuses to go off alone so she could singe small things.

One day Daisy was on the swamp practicing burning little leaves, giggling with delight. She heard someone say, “My, what a gift!” She detected a smile in the voice. She looked around and saw nobody.
“Where are you? Who are you?” Daisy asked, looking up into the trees and scanning the swamp. “And why is this a gift?” she added.
A giant scaly and bumpy head arose from the swamp.
“I’m Adora.”
Adora was a most captivating, white crocodile.
“It’s a gift because I see it gives you so much joy. Everyone has a gift, but some go through their entire lives never knowing what it is.”
“What am I supposed to do with it?” Daisy asked.
“Like any gift, you share it to give others joy as well.”
Daisy thought about it.
“But I’m afraid to show the other dragonflies. I won’t fit in anymore.”
“I’m sorry, but you don’t have a choice if you want to have a happy life. Have gratitude for your unique gift. It is part of the puzzle that will help lead you to what your life purpose is.”
Adora smiled sympathetically.
“But who cares about a spark? I mean, it’s pretty cool and everything…” Daisy trailed off, confused.
Adora rolled her eyes and said, “You nurture it. You see what makes it flourish and thrive. You may combine it with other talents, desires or life experiences, and when you’re ready, you share it with the world! No need to be afraid—everyone has a gift. Be grateful for yours. Some will appreciate your gift and some won’t. It doesn’t matter as long as it makes you happy and gives you great joy. Now, go practice and don’t worry about how it will work out. If you get all caught up figuring out the details, you won’t do anything, which you will deeply regret.”

Adora’s big smiling head was gone, sinking under the soupy, green water.
Inspired, Daisy went off to a private area of the swamp to practice. She ate a variety of swamp delicacies to see if they made any difference, but no, still just a little spark. She found when she was tired or frustrated she just couldn’t spark at all.
After much trial and error, she’d hit upon the magic formula.

First, she needed to be really excited about what she was going to burn. She found if she vibrated her wings to create heat, the spark became a torch! She discovered a talent for architecture. She gathered small twigs and built elaborate floating castles which she then sent into a spectacular blaze of glory.
“Now, this is a wonderful gift!” she said.

She went off to find Adora and show her.
“Bravo!” cheered Adora, as she gave Daisy a big, toothy grin. “Now how will you be of service to others with your special gift?”
Daisy was proud of how hard she’d worked and persevered…but also a little dismayed that she wasn’t quite there yet.
“What if I fill the castle with something? I assume I’ll have a group watching. What if I have everyone write down something they want out of their lives on a scrap of paper? Maybe they put down relationships, situations or just something that pisses them off. Whatever they think no longer serves a purpose in their life. Then they drop it into the castle, and I torch it! How cathartic that would be! But how do I share it with the world?”
Daisy’s mind was racing.

Adora had many contacts in the entertainment industry from before her retirement to the swamp. She winked at Daisy, “Baby bug, you’re ready for Vegas!”

The Stuff

"You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen." -Paulo Coelho

“You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.” -Paulo Coelho

Georgina worried. She worried about her friend Frank. Frank was a blackbird with a very cavalier attitude toward life. Frank didn’t even have a five-year plan for his life. “Life loves you!” Frank always said.

Georgina grew up under the constant threat of, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” As a result, Georgina actually had a 30-year plan for her life. Her life would not be a failure. But that was before the tsunami.

Georgina sat on a Styrofoam board and watched her ruined belongings drift by her, one by one, taunting her presumed control over every aspect of her life. In truth, not one year ever went according to the 30-year plan. Something always interfered, and her control over her life seemed to mostly be limited to damage control. This year was no exception, and she figured it set her back at least 10 years.

She looked up at the sky and watched Frank soaring high then low. He was having a great time looking at all the debris. Each a valued possession of his good friend Georgina, only a day before.

She needed to replace her stuff. All of it had taken years to accumulate. She was wearing her beloved red cowboy boots when the wave hit, and she was grateful to still have them. She was mostly grateful both she and Frank were okay. She would start anew, yes, a plan to replace her stuff! But then she was gripped with an uneasy feeling. She looked at the items that identified her life, floating by, mocking her. She realized all her planning and controlling made her so attached to the outcome of everything and how it would come to be, that she actually felt like a failure when it didn’t work out as she had planned. Her life was a failure.

Frank took a playful swoop by her.
“It’s just stuff!” he shouted as he climbed high into the sky.

Georgina spent so much time trying to control Frank, trying to get him to worry enough to make a five-year plan. She wanted him to live more like her and stop living moment-to-moment. Until now, she had never realized that Frank had never wanted for a thing. He looked at it all as a great series of events, meant to happen. He never worried about anything, and worry was her middle name. There was always something to worry about. Frank saw everything that happened as a game to find the hidden gift in it all. He always enjoyed Georgina’s friendship and company—he never gave advice. As far as he was concerned, nothing had changed. They were now sharing this great adventure together.

The thought of replacing her stuff was tiring. As she drifted, her eyelids heavy, her red boots full of water—turbulence was suddenly everywhere! She sat up on her board and watched in amazement as a stunning, chocolate brown horse galloped across the surface of the water. She had a saddle made from the shell of a sea turtle and an ornate harness of butterflies and branches. She trotted in a circle, eyeing Georgina on her Styrofoam float. Frank watched from above in awe and zoomed in to hear the conversation.

“Well, as I see it, you have two choices. Stay here, or hop on my back,” the horse said in a sweet and calm voice.
“But where will you take me? All my stuff is here. I can’t just leave—this is my life,” Georgina said, infuriated at the suggestion she leave her stuff.

In a not-so-sweet voice, the horse said, “Okay, Georgina. You can stay here with all your stuff and watch it deteriorate. Or you can learn how to really live. You never actually own anything in life, except what is inside your heart, of course. We tried to get you to see how it’s done by giving you your good friend Frank. Unfortunately your ego decided since he lacked his own stuff, he had nothing important to share. You needed to make him more like you. Thereby creating more stuff. The way you have been living life leaves no room for serendipity, the spice of life. Planning is fine, if you leave it at that. Controlling, worrying, manipulating others simply blocks life from happening as it should. Now, are you ready to hop on before your toes shrivel?”

Georgina was a little miffed at being called out but knew it was absolutely true. Frank took a swoop by her head. “Life loves you!” he laughed, as he perched between the horse’s ears.
The Horse spoke again, this time with compassion.

“Ask the Universe for what you need. It will always answer, but only when asked. What you need is not always what you want, so don’t be attached to the outcome. Always ask to be led to your next step. Take steps you feel compelled to take toward what you want, and surrender yourself to the serendipity of life. If you don’t think the outcome is a gift, then it isn’t over. It is beyond your imagination and is constantly unfolding. If you look back later, you will see the perfection of it all. How the events of your life have been woven into an absolutely perfect tapestry. Now please, it will be dark soon—hop on!”

Georgina paddled over to the horse. The horse got down low so she could climb on her back. They were immediately back on the surface of the water for the most extraordinary ride, galloping faster than Georgina thought possible. Frank kept up easily and thoroughly enjoyed the situation. Georgina leaned over to the horse’s ear.

“I’d really love to have this cool saddle of yours.”
To which the horse replied, “Georgina, this is a process. The stuff you seek is inside you, not outside. When you no longer want the saddle, we’ll talk.”

With that, she galloped with Georgina and Frank into the hazy horizon.

 

“If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more.  If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” -Oprah Winfrey

"Technological progress is like an ax in the hands of a pathological criminal." -Albert Einstein

“Technological progress is like an ax in the hands of a pathological criminal.”
-Albert Einstein

Celeste did it to make a point. She actually wondered if anyone would notice.

She had entered her favorite restaurant wearing her favorite boots and carrying her current favorite book. She was greeted and seated at her favorite table on the patio.

Even though the sky looked a bit threatening, she had insisted. She loved the fresh air and natural surroundings.

The place was packed, and she enjoyed all the activity. After receiving her wine, she surveyed the patrons to see if there was anyone she knew. She could not escape the realization that nobody was talking to each other. Heads down, texting, watching movies, playing games, checking emails, and snapping selfies while holding up various fancy drinks. Chunky children sat, mimicking their parents, staring at their video games while their parents stared at their phones. A voice shouted to no one, “I have 52 likes!” Another exclaimed, “I have 2,000 friends now!”

Before Celeste discovered the joys of dining alone with her thoughts, she dined with her friend, Theo. They always had the most interesting conversations about life. But that was before his untimely demise. She was sad that the other diners were not loving and enjoying one another’s company. She thought it would be better to dine alone than to rudely ignore each other, not caring about each other’s lives.

She seemed to be the only one bothered. No wonder there is so much loneliness in the midst of all this connectivity, she thought. She wondered how many “likes” and how many “friends” were enough? What number would make them put down their phones and appreciate the friends and family sitting in front of them? Was it the insatiable ego driving all this madness? She missed the laughter and conversations with her friend. She wondered how many would miss the disembodied online world of friends if it was suddenly gone. What memories would be cherished?

She was curious if they even noticed anything around them. Perhaps they all were stuck in a cyber, self-important, fantasy world. The social deterioration was making her angry. Her anger quickly ignited uncontrollably within her like a volcano. This was not the experience she wanted to have when she went out to eat!

Using the candle at the table, she set the empty chair at her table on fire. She then flung it onto the nearby rocks. She perched herself on the edge of her table to watch. The smell of smoke made a few diners look up. Some turned their backs to her and snapped selfies. Photos of themselves with Celeste posed on the edge of her table, wine in hand, and the chair burning in the background. Someone was making a video of the scene, “Oh baby, this is gonna go viral!”

Pretty soon everyone was talking to each other about the lunatic who burned the chair. Parents were balancing kids on their shoulders so they could see over the commotion. The burning chair turned into a party! There was laughter as they all shared the experience, high-fived each other, and toasted to the burning chair! What a wonderful time everyone was having together!

“That’s better!” Celeste said smiling, as she sat down, opened her book and took a sip of wine.

Bernice post card

“We’re our own dragons as well as our own heroes, and we have to rescue ourselves from ourselves.” -Tom Robbins

Bernice wanted to be the one who would get up and dance with crazy abandon when the music moved her. No matter who was watching or disapproving.

She didn’t know when she’d become so afraid to live. She’d done everything the others told her she should do to be happy.

Yet it all fell painfully short of making her happy. She could stand on one leg for hours, but so could everyone else. She lived in what the others called the “Safe Zone.” A place where nothing new happened, every day.

She always did exactly as she should, for fear she’d lose the love of the others if she didn’t. She didn’t want to be ostracized. Those were the conditions for maintaining her position. She worried she’d say the wrong thing and offend someone, so she stayed quiet. She stuck to safe conversations about the weather and food.

 

One day, while members of the colony were all pecking for invertebrates, Bernice thought she could hear music. Kettle drums to be exact. She wandered off to see where the music was coming from. Once away from the others, her solitude—combined with the beautiful music—inspired her to strut her stuff.

She did a head flag move stretching her head as high as she could. She turned it from side to side, in rhythm to the distant music. Then she performed a majestic wing salute, spreading her wings and enjoying the feeling of empowerment in the pose.  As she made a savvy move into a twist preen, she closed her eyes, lost in the music. Then she heard the roar.

She stood paralyzed with fear, eyes closed, head buried. The music drummed on cheerfully in the distance. She opened her eyes and watched the lion lick his lips. This was bad. Very, very bad.

They locked eyes. She could smell his breath. Her thoughts raced, and she felt she would burst from the trembling and her beating heart. As she felt the fear, acknowledging it and that it was not going to help her, something came over her. The music played on, and she thought about how she had felt a few minutes ago, dancing to a power that moved her. Her power.
With all the calm she could muster, she said to the lion,

“Would you like to dance?”
“I thought you’d never ask!” he said excitedly.

“You are quite a beautiful and graceful dancer. Maybe you could teach me to do that thing you do with your neck?” he suggested.

They danced under the Banyan trees late into the evening when the music stopped. They thanked one another and parted ways, promising to do it again soon. The lion was a very charismatic partner, Bernice thought to herself. Not what she expected at all.

As she headed back to the lagoon and the colony, it struck her that all of her fears were an illusion. They were based on the preconceived idea that anyone outside the colony was bad news—no exceptions. The others had put that idea in her head because it’s how they were raised too. The lion—Russell was his name—was lovely. The others would definitely not approve, so she definitely planned to tell them all about it!

Bernice decided from then on she was going to live her life fearlessly, no matter what. That’s where she was going to find happiness, in loving her life and approving of her own way to live it.

Illusions

"Drag your thoughts away from your troubles...by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it." -Mark Twain

“Drag your thoughts away from your troubles…by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.” -Mark Twain

Maisie tasted the dirt coating her tongue as she tore away at the earth beneath her twitching paws. Rocks, twigs and roots were hurled aside as she pulled the earth up like flimsy wall-to-wall carpet.

Maisie was lost in her dream world where she was in charge. Again in foster care, again ignored and given minimal attention. Food, water and a pat on the head. She was left to her own imagination during the frequent naps she took to entertain herself.

People always said, “Oh, is she a pit bull? That’s scary,” blah, blah, blah… She had been adopted three times by someone wanting her to fight other dogs. She had become a very adept escape artist, but her survival skills fell short. Here she was in foster care again. It was the same movie. She wasn’t mean. The mean people wanted her to be mean, to fight with other dogs for money. She couldn’t do it—she was a lover.

There were four other dogs in the foster pack. Millie, a four year old red Queensland heeler, who was adorable and truly was mean. Mandy, a quiet, sweet mix of shepherd and at least three other breeds. She had a soft, long, golden coat and was afraid of her own shadow. Sadie, a working girl always looking for something to do, was a Catahoula. Maisie had not seen a Catahoula before. Her short coat was covered with different colored spots in all shapes and sizes from head to toe. She was also very bright, fearless, and a smart conversationalist. And lastly, Banjo. A big, handsome mixed guy with one floppy ear and stripes like a tiger. All the dogs loved him, and he loved them. But the problem was people. He snarled a snaggled tooth grin and growled when they came near him—then laughed as they ran away. They never hung around to hear him laugh at his silly game. He meant nothing by it.

Maisie had seen several other dogs get adopted during her stay. She longed to get adopted by someone kind who would love her and make her a member of their family. She didn’t know how to be loved. She always had to figure out how to survive her owners—and escape.

The doorbell sounded. Chimes echoed through the house. She watched as the foster mom distractedly fixed her dark hair in an invisible mirror, and opened the door. She adjusted her tight shirt, pulling it down over her belly as she ushered in the smiling young couple. Maisie didn’t move from her spot in the corner. She had a perfect vantage point to see all the commotion. The others rushed the nice couple, jumping on them, barking and competing for attention.

Except for Mandy. She sat in front of them, quietly, with her deep brown eyes focused like lasers on the woman. She never took her eyes off her. Maisie felt invisible as she watched. The foster mom was extra charming as Millie nipped the woman’s calf. The woman was still smiling but rubbing her calf as she locked eyes with Mandy. Banjo growled, sending mixed messages with his tail wagging. Sadie tugged at the man’s pant leg in an effort to herd him somewhere. The couple seemed to like Mandy’s ladylike demeanor, and soon asked what the next step would be. As they separated Mandy from the pack, she seemed a mix of nerves and excitement. Her tail whipped back and forth as she walked out the front door with all the humans. The others quickly stopped the performance and went back to what they had been doing. Bone chewing, sleeping, grooming. Mandy was brought back in after a few more minutes, and the next day they came to take her home. Score for Mandy!

Maisie pondered how Mandy had created her future by being totally different from the others. She had quietly let her focus do the work. She created a new life for herself with just her thoughts! She focused on what she wanted. Not on what she didn’t want. She acted like it was a done deal. Maisie realized she had been focused on the fear that another mean person would adopt her, and that was what always happened. How could she learn to do what Mandy did? After all, she was still a “scary pit bull.” Maybe she could make herself look “not” scary?

A couple of days went by before another prospect arrived with the chiming of the bell. Maisie felt she was ready as she focused on the life she wanted. An attractive woman in yoga togs, and a similarly attired little girl—about seven years old—with beautiful red curls entered. They seemed nervous as they followed the foster mom into the house. Maisie got up from her corner and slowly walked towards them, letting the others rush them as usual. Suddenly Millie had pummeled the little girl to the floor. The little girl burst into tears, filling the room with high pitched screams of terror and lots of barking at Millie.

Maisie walked over to the little girl with her biggest, goofiest dog grin and started to gently lick her tears. The little girl hesitantly started to giggle, alternating between a pouty mouth and a smile trying to break through. Pretty soon she was laughing. She wrapped her little arms around Maisie’s neck, announcing loudly, “Mommy, this is the one. She’s so sweet!”

Maisie’s grin got even goofier. The girl’s mother watched the bonding episode with a smile on her face. Then, the smile was gone.
“Oh, is that a pit bull? They scare me.”
Maisie kept her grin as she leaned into her new pal and gave her another sweet kiss, watching the girl’s brow furrow with worry.
“Mommy, I love her! She’s not scary—she kissed my tears and made me laugh!”

Maisie watched the mother’s face now as it softened, unable to see fear in the gaping, coast-to-coast grin. She knew she’d won her over!

The woman turned to the foster mom and said, “That dog clearly loves Maggie and Maggie loves her. There’s nothing left to do but take her home!”

Maisie reclined on the overstuffed, buttery soft leather couch in her new home. Her head resting in the lap of her beloved Maggie as she stroked her ears. Maisie thought about what had happened. The journey of her short life up to this point. How it seemed like a series of lessons, each one necessary. Up until the point she realized that as long as she had the same thoughts, she would keep having the same life. What power she had! She had created a whole new life simply by deciding what she wanted, staying focused, and taking action to get there. So it was all an illusion, like her dreams, created by her thoughts and perceptions.

Maggie asked, “Maisie, do you want to go outside and play?”
Maisie rushed the door with her paws dancing on a hot griddle of excitement. And they played with reckless abandon.