Category Archives: Friends

Chasing Bliss

"Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option." -Maya Angelou

“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”
-Maya Angelou

She’d been in the back of the truck outside the bar for hours. He would come out at some point, drunk. It smelled like snow was on the way, and Dahlia was cold. She had always waited in the truck; her job was to guard the truck.

It was not a loving relationship with her master. He loved his truck and beer, not her–she could be any dog.

Dahlia felt uncertain about her future as she stood in the bed of the truck, shivering. She was getting older; the situation was very predictable and never going to get better. She could have felt hopeless and full of despair, but Dahlia’s imagination was her best friend. Suddenly she was gripped by an unexpected urge that excited her so much, she almost couldn’t contain herself. So she didn’t. Dahlia looked around. The path was clear. She jumped out of the truck and ran. Dahlia felt there was a better life waiting for her, somewhere.

When her master had brought her home after picking her from the litter seven years earlier, she felt so special. She got bored when he was at work and began to chew on some things to pass the time. He was angry when he got home and found the dissected TV remote control. Then he saw the barely recognizable cowboy boot in the middle of the living room rug. He yelled at her and kicked her until she yelped in pain, before throwing her outside, forever. He didn’t understand her new teeth hurt and she was bored. Dahlia never saw the inside of the house again. He was always mean to her, even though her chewing days were long gone. He paid no attention to her other than giving her some dry food and water. He considered “play” to be taking her with him to watch the truck while he drank with his buddies. She wasn’t going to wait for him to be happy with her.

Being outside had its benefits. She heard all the dog gossip in the neighborhood. She got to chatting with the other neighborhood dogs while he was at work. Everyone had a story to tell. Walks, road trips, naps on the couch, toys and table scraps—especially the food the kids didn’t like. She discovered she had not lucked out in the lifestyle lottery. She had grown to enjoy the outdoors but would have liked to have a choice to go inside when the weather was bad. She was happy for the others—it gave her hope. She wanted to feel loved and appreciated for who she was too. She had a lot of love to offer in return.

After traveling for hours, she was thirsty, hungry, cold and exhausted. Even a bit afraid. It was getting dark. Dahlia found a nice soft place to sleep under a large bush that barely sheltered her from the chilly wind. Before she closed her eyes, she looked up at the moon. She asked that she be shown the way to a joyful life—one meant just for her.

Dahlia awoke to a light dusting of snow surrounding her. It was beautiful and very cold. Her immediate goals were water and something to eat. She walked until she reached a bay where the calm water had frozen over. She ventured out onto the smooth surface and licked the ice. She surveyed the scene, still full of exhilaration over the adventure that awaited her, but worried about food.

A small black thing bouncing through the ice distracted her. What was that little thing? She watched it bounce up, each time a cracking sound. Then, down it went. It moved rhythmically up and down through the ice again, now several yards away. She wanted to chase it, catch it and perhaps eat it! Chasing it was great fun! She never knew where it would pop up, and she became happily lost in the challenge of it all. She did not remember when she felt so blissful.

At the edge of the bay she was confused as the little black thing sped out to deeper water. She was mesmerized as it rose up, exploding out of the water in a spectacular display of power and grace. A whale! She had been chasing a whale! It crashed down into the choppy water and swam back to where she was pacing excitedly on the frozen bay. A gigantic head poked through the water.
“Hey, that was a lot of fun. I bet you weren’t expecting that! What’s your name?”
“Dahlia. I was having so much fun I lost all track of time chasing you! I even forgot how hungry I was,” she said, a little dismayed he was not food.
The whale blinked his enormous eye at Dahlia.
“Wait here,” he said.

The big head was gone. Ripples of icy water sloshed at her paws as she stood on the edge of the frozen bay. She watched the spot where he’d disappeared, having no idea what she was waiting for. Up he came with a burst, spewing a mountain of wiggling fish onto the ice for her to feast on! And feast she did, until she could hold no more. She burped.

“I’m so sorry; you have been so thoughtful and kind! Thank you for the fish. I don’t even know your name.” Dahlia hung her head in embarrassment.
“Tahi. The pleasure has all been mine. I hope we can play again soon!”

With that, he turned and disappeared under the water. Dahlia smiled as she wandered off with her bulging belly. What a difference a simple act of kindness made, she thought as she felt her spirits buoyed. Now she needed to find better shelter than the bush she’d slept under.
She spotted a grouping of rocks a short distance away and walked with new energy to investigate. As she walked around the huge, grey boulders she saw nothing that could be considered shelter. She spied a small opening near the bottom of one of the rocks. It looked barely big enough to fit her and her full tummy. She squeezed herself under it, burying her claws into the ground to pull herself inside. Dahlia was amazed to see that once inside the rocks, there was a cavern. A perfectly sheltered, hollow area where she could stand up easily and walk around. An ideal new home. She promptly turned three times, laid down and took a long nap.

Tahi and Dahlia grew very close over the months; they were inseparable. Tahi would take Dahlia for exciting rides on his back and bring her bounty from the sea. Dahlia would lick his salty face with loving kisses of gratitude. She’d run in circles on the beach, barking while he frolicked in the waves, putting on a show for her.

One night, nestled in her cavern, she was struck with how easily things started to go right, months ago. It was only when she decided she deserved better that she found better. When she followed her happiness, it grew into something unimaginable. Her happiness was her guide; it pointed where she needed to go next. All of her needs that she had worried over had been fulfilled in the most remarkable ways. She’d put forth effort, but it was enjoyable. She couldn’t explain it. She laid her head down to sleep as Tahi wished her a soulful good night off in the distance.

Respond to every call that excites your spirit.

-Rumi

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The Forest Cats

"When the solution is simple, God is answering." -Albert Einstein

“When the solution is simple, God is answering.”
-Albert Einstein

As Lulu stared into the stars, she knew her life would never be the same.

The day started out with the other forest cats in Lulu’s tribe arguing amongst themselves.
Who was the best looking? Who had the best lair? Who had the best stash of dead mice and birds for the coming winter?

In truth, they were all fearful of sickness or a storm that could destroy it all. Lulu quickly tired of the bickering and boasting. She wondered why she could not muster the interest to join in. They always had more than enough to feast on every winter. Everyone was unique-looking, as was their skill set at hunting and lair building. It was quite pointless. Why was the tribe always trying to be separate from each other? They were never satisfied. Their strength was in working together, using all their different talents.

“Is there more to existence than this?” Lulu asked.
Nobody heard her. She felt she was having something akin to a dark night of the soul.

Lulu became restless and started to wander off for some solitude. A pale blue flash caught her eye. It looked like a rabbit. It ran like a rabbit. It stopped and watched her with the most unusual and penetrating sapphire blue eyes. Unlike any rabbit she’d ever seen. She took off after it. The rabbit hop-skipped a narrow rutted path ahead of her. Every so often he would stop and turn back to look at her, teasing, to make sure she was following. She was, and felt a little silly with her head low, crouching, moving slowly and deliberately. He was in charge, not her. He wanted her to follow him. Lulu had every intention of doing just that.

As he ran into the nearby open field he took off at an unworldly pace. Effortlessly, he floated through the field. She tried her best to keep up, with the tall, dry field grass whipping her face. She never took her eyes off him. Then he suddenly stopped. He turned back to look at her with those magnetic eyes. She stopped in her tracks as she watched him become a tiny tornado of swirling blue light. Moments later, he dissolved from the bottom up.

She rushed to the spot only to find a typical rabbit hole. She wasn’t sure what just happened, but she was sure it happened.

She moved closer to the hole and cautiously peeked down into it. She felt a vastness drift through her—as though she were pure energy, her body gone. She stared in amazement as the entire universe stared back, drawing her further into its eternity.

“Everything is upside down.”

Words tumbled into her consciousness, as if they were not her own—but yet they were. Lulu listened, purring with excitement and anticipation. It was as if some other consciousness was downloading information into her mind, yet it was familiar.

“The others are living from the outside in. Perceiving they never have enough. Looking for happiness in more of the same, which keeps them in a state of lack. Their egos are never satisfied. There is never, ever, going to be enough to fill the emptiness inside. The only thing that fills the emptiness is my love. Through my love, you learn to love yourself—your uniqueness and the uniqueness of everyone around you. Look inside—not outside—for a love like no other. No matter how many mice and birds you have, no matter what you look like, or where you live…I will always love you.”

Silence.

As Lulu stepped back from the hole, she was purring at a deafening volume. She was suddenly aware of her surroundings, the soft dirt under her paws. She inhaled the gentle breeze, gazing up at the beautiful white clouds drifting overhead. She felt awash with a sense of comfort, a joy on a level she had never experienced. She could not wait to get back to the tribe to tell them of her adventure and bring them all to see and experience the hole!

“Come quick, everyone!” Lulu shouted as she got within earshot, closing in on the still bickering tribe. “I have to show you, everything is going to be okay, I can’t even explain it, but it will change everything!”

All being curious, they jumped up and followed her out to the field. She stood over the hole and said, “Go ahead; you have to look inside.” She waited for someone to step forward. Nobody seemed to want to look inside.

One by one the forest cats started laughing. Pretty soon they were all joined in laughing and rolling on the ground. “Look inside!” someone would shout and they’d all laugh again hysterically. Lulu didn’t understand they couldn’t see the hole.

They all wandered back to camp, enjoying the joke. Lulu tagged behind while they chanted “Look inside, look inside,” laughing anew, and never tiring of the ridicule. Finally one forest cat turned to her and said, “You’ve gone mad. I sincerely hope you do not become a burden and drain our resources.”

Lulu felt an unwavering security within herself that whatever happened, she would be fine. She didn’t understand the reaction of the tribe at all; she thought they’d be excited.

Bebe was a quiet forest cat, older—and mostly she kept to herself. Even during the recent commotion she steered clear. Lulu watched as Bebe sauntered up to her.
“I was wondering when someone else would discover the hole,” she said purring loudly and smiling at Lulu. “The others can’t see it Lulu. I’m sorry.”
“Why?” Lulu asked. The thought never occurred to her.

“Because they purr at such a low vibration, always living from the outside in. They don’t want change—even though they are never satisfied, they believe it’s as good as it gets. What you are seeing in the hole is the universe inside yourself. When I look in the hole, I see the universe inside myself. The point being, we are seeing the same universe because we are both a part of it. As are the others. We are all One. All connected by a knowingness inside. The others strive because they resist the knowingness, but it will be there if they ask. You must have asked if there was more to life. It always answers. Eventually. If you remain open for the answer.”

Lulu thought about how this changed everything for her. She couldn’t condemn the other forest cats for something they couldn’t see. She felt compassion for the others but knew she could never go back to life before following the strange rabbit to the hole.

Winter came in like a bull. The storm destroyed everything in its path. All the lairs and food supplies were gone. The forest cats were getting sick and weak, losing patches of fur and feeling very scared. Lulu marveled at the strength of the storm and what it had done. She couldn’t help thinking some good would come from it all. Even though the suffering of the tribe was terrible and she was feeling very weak herself.

She and Bebe decided to go to the hole to meditate, without telling the others. Relieved it was still there, unchanged by the storm, they both peeked inside at the glorious universe. Then they sat back, closed their eyes and synchronized their purring. They desperately needed guidance.
Bebe whispered, “What now?”

It wasn’t long before the words flowed to them: “The storm was isolated. About 200 yards north from your camp it is untouched by the storm. It is near a stream loaded with fish for food and surrounded by a bank of trees that will provide shelter. Move the tribe there now.”

Bebe and Lulu rushed back to the camp and told everyone to follow them. The forest cats were too tired to argue or make fun of following crazy Lulu anywhere. The new camp was just as expected—only better. Fish jumped from the stream as the forest cats caught them in their paws. It was better than anything they had ever imagined. The shelter provided by the trees was natural, providing strength by having grown through many storms. The cats surrounded Bebe and Lulu, dancing in a circle and celebrating their genius.

“How did you know this was here Lulu?” asked one scraggly forest cat.
“A blue rabbit told me it would be purrrrrrfect for us.” She winked at Bebe. Confused, he walked away saying, “Lulu, you’re as crazy as you ever were.”

“As the saying goes,” said Bebe, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” She and Lulu lay down, stretching out in the sun.

“To understand the true nature of the Universe,

one must think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”

-Nikola Tesla

Castle Of Love

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab life by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”
-Maya Angelou

Sophia watched as he kicked over the spire she had just carefully crafted for her sand castle of love. Bradley was getting her back for telling him he wasn’t doing it the way she wanted it to be done. He’d asked if she would teach him to build by letting him help her. Then, as soon as he got a shovel in his hand, he was directing the whole project without a clue on how to do it.
“I wish I could push you off a cliff!” Bradley said. He folded his arms and stuck out his bottom lip.
“I’m firing you from my Castle of Love Club,” Sophia said glumly. She watched as Bradley threw down his shovel and trundled down the beach, his pants full of sand and falling down. She found the whole thing ironic.

Sophia resolved to build her castle of love by herself to herself. Dressed in her pink party dress now wet and covered with sand, she got to work. She worked tirelessly, hoping to finish it before the tide came in. As she went for more water to fill her bucket she began to worry that the tide would wash it away before she could finish. If only she hadn’t wasted so much time trying to train Bradley…but everything happens for a reason, she supposed. Poor Bradley, she thought. He just didn’t get it. Maybe someday he will build his own castle of love.

As the water inched up the beach, she found herself deeper and deeper. At first she didn’t believe she saw what she saw. She dismissed it as a sort of choppy water shadow. But then there was no mistaking it. It was a big, slick bald head, with whiskers and dark soulful eyes, looking right at her. Sophia’s first reaction was to scream.
“Please, don’t be frightened! I’m so sorry; there is no other way to come up for air other than to just pop up!”
Sophia shook her head in agreement, not taking her eyes off the seal.
“Hey, nice castle. My name is Lilo. Yours?”
“Thanks Lilo. I’m Sophia. I’m sorry for screaming.”
“Can I help you finish this before the tide comes in? You will need to train me, but I’m a good student.”
Sophia took a few minutes to show Lilo what he needed to do, and placed Bradley’s little blue shovel in his mouth. He proved to be invaluable and had such a supportive attitude. He worked fast and was able to pat down the sand quickly with his strong foreflippers. They had built a magnificent castle of love—it was even more beautiful than she’d imagined it.

Lilo was so excited to be involved in the project that he wanted to do it again. They agreed to meet again, and again, and again. Within a short time, they were a team. Hotels advertised them as a “must see” attraction. Soon beach walkers came from all around to see the amazing castles built by Sophia and Lilo. They threw money in their little red bucket which she’d then split, buying fish for Lilo with his half.

The two built castles daily for the tourists to enjoy, and they grew very close. Each inspired the other to try new and more imaginative challenges. Sophia felt her life was very full, and she cherished her friendship with Lilo. Lilo was very protective of Sophia and once chased Bradley down the beach. Bradley discovered them one day building the most ambitious castle yet. It had motes and a drawbridge, and was very, very tall. Bradley told them the castle was ugly and they would die dumb from building dumb, ugly castles. That was enough for Lilo, who barked while chasing after Bradley as he cried in fear, running down the beach, and peeing his pants.

Sophia lay in an almost overflowing bath of bubbles. It had been a particularly profitable day. She thought about how determined she had been to build her castle of love, by herself. Not until then did she attract others who were supportive and wanted to help.

So, for now, young Sophia found it was easier to train a seal to help build her castle of love, than it was to train a boy.

Arabian Dreams

"I've come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that's as unique as a fingerprint- and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the Universe to lead you." -Oprah Winfrey

“I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint- and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the Universe to lead you.”
-Oprah Winfrey

She felt the ice cream melting through her mane. The little boy incessantly kicked her ribs and shouted, “Giddy-up stupid!” Another child pulled on her tail repeatedly with a sticky, blue candy hand.
Tourists.
The Arabian Dreams Ranch was a tourist trap. A miserable life. Walking in the hot sun, carrying overweight, beer-soaked tourists and their screaming, unruly children. Seven days a week. Piper was far from her dream life, a life of meaning.

One evening, after all the tourists had returned to their hotels, Piper did as she usually did. She watched the ranch hand shut things down. She watched as he swigged his beer covertly from a brown bag, getting a jump on the Friday night festivities. She watched him drop his keys in the dirt as he was going to lock the gate. As he picked up his keys, his cell phone rang and he quickly broke into a smile. He spoke in a very suggestive and lovie-dovie tone with the person calling. Piper looked on as he anxiously headed off to his truck. He tossed the empty beer and bag into the truck bed, got in barely closing the door, and drove off. He’d left the gate unlocked.

It didn’t take Piper long to realize she had an opportunity. She wandered over to the gate, nudged it with her nose until she could fit through. She ran like she had 20 zombie tourist children chasing her. Freedom was sweet. She ran into the woods where she would have some cover from being seen.

Piper spent the night under a big, twisted tree near a stream. In the morning, once the sun was on the stream, she waded into the water. She washed all the sticky mess from her mane and tail, and she felt rejuvenated with excitement for her future. She knew deep down it would have to lead to her dream—a meaningful life. She followed the stream the better part of the day. Until it flowed under a wall of jagged rocks and into the ocean. As she hiked the treacherous rocks, doubt that she could continue crept into her thoughts. She worried as she stared at a huge hole in the rocks where the waves crashed through with enormous power. She admitted to herself she was trapped. Piper wondered if looking for a life of meaning wasn’t possibly the most stupid thing she’d ever done.

She closed her eyes and let the powerful spray cool her down, as she slowly started to panic. “What am I going to do? How will I ever get out of here?” She was exhausted, and talking to herself seemed a logical next step. She closed her eyes. An unusual flapping sound made her open them. She marveled at what must have been a five-foot wingspan, belonging to a most exotic looking bird.

“You look very forlorn. Can I help? By the way, I’m Lourdes.” She circled around Piper and waited.
“I’m afraid I’m lost and worse yet, trapped. I don’t know how to get out of here. The sea and rocks are too rough for me now, and I don’t know where to go.” Piper babbled on in her exhaustion, telling Lourdes all about the Arabian Dreams nightmare. She told her how she was looking for a life of meaning. Lourdes listened patiently, occasionally nodding understandingly. Piper watched Lourdes take a spiral path upwards, then widen her circle back down to where Piper was stuck.

“No worries. Follow me. But it’s going to get harder before it gets easier…”
Piper followed Lourdes, one step at a time over the uneven, slick terrain. She did a slight backtrack over the rocks, taking a sharp turn and going down to the left. Finally, she hovered over a narrow opening, a cave in the rocks. “I’ll wait for you on the other end. Be careful!” The giant wings effortlessly lifted her up, and Lourdes was gone.

Piper struggled to fit herself through the narrow opening. She walked over the smoother but slippery rocks inside the cave. The damp smell filled her nostrils as she could hear the muffled crashing of the relentless sea. She was very focused as she slowly navigated her way through the darkness. It seemed like it would never end, until finally, she could see light. She stayed focused on the light, and as she exited the cave she found herself on a sandy beach. A choppy shoreline lapped at her hooves. There was Lourdes circling around, waiting for her.

“I can’t begin to thank you enough, I don’t know what …” Piper quit talking as she watched Lourdes fly away. She swooped up and went high into the sky and was gone. Piper looked out over the beach at the small structures dotting the shoreline. She spotted a very pale little girl with a scarf on her head. She was walking towards her. She was carrying something. A woman all dressed in green followed behind, carrying their shoes. Piper’s gut told her to stay put. As the little girl approached, Piper could see she had a plastic bag with slices of apples and carrot sticks. As she reached Piper, she attempted to gently pet Piper’s neck. But the woman shouted to her, warning her not to touch the horse. She ignored her and opened the bag, giving Piper a carrot stick. Piper forgot how hungry she was and happily accepted. The little girl seemed to not have much energy. When the woman reached them, she told the girl to rest on a nearby rock. Piper followed the apples and carrots to the rock. The girl smiled at her as she pushed another carrot stick to her muzzle.

“I bet the other kids would like to pet her too. She seems nice. Maybe we can keep her!” said the girl.
“I’m sure she belongs to someone who is missing her. She’s so pretty,” said the woman.
Piper continued to eat from the girls palm as she giggled and kept a steady stream of carrots and apples coming. Piper thought this was the sweetest child in the world. The woman stroked Piper’s neck as she told the girl they needed to get back to the hospital. She agreed to take her back and said they would take care of her while they tried to find the owner.

Piper followed them up the beach to the building. There were several children sitting outside on the patio, also wearing scarves. They all smiled at once, and rushed onto the beach to see the horse.

As the weeks went on Piper gave rides to the sick children and made them laugh. They adored her, and she loved making them happy. The woman was unable to get any response on her efforts to find the owner of Piper. After two months, she finally gave up. Much to Piper’s relief.

One evening as Piper was watching the sun set over the ocean, she thought about the significant events in her life. About how she had gotten her sense of adventure and courage from the herd of wild horses she ran with. That was before getting separated and ending up at Arabian Dreams. She thought about how her life had tracked in a way she never could have imagined. She needed to be captured and have the horrible experiences with the tourists. While both were dreadful experiences, now she was grateful for them. She would not have known how to give rides to the sick kids. As she connected the dots of her life, she realized how everything led to her ultimate happiness, a meaningful life.

And Lourdes…she showed up out of nowhere to help, with eerily perfect timing. Perhaps she was somehow being prepped for this by something larger than herself? She wondered.

Can I Help? Wait, Never Mind

"If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing." -Margaret Thatcher

“If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.”
-Margaret Thatcher

Norma had scheduled herself to be in three places at once again. She couldn’t say no. She was afraid nobody would like her—or worse yet get mad and think she was selfish or uncaring. But this time it was worse, so much worse.

She’d tried on the headgear she was to wear as a chaperone for her nephew’s comic book party. Now it was impossibly stuck on her head. But first, she was trying on the dress to wear to the cocktail party her boss expected her to attend. Now it had a jammed zipper that wouldn’t budge. Somehow between those two events she was supposed to take her neighbor’s daughter to ride the ponies. At the stable, an hour away.

She was dizzy with stress and terrified of disappointing anyone and everyone. She didn’t want to get a reputation for not being dependable. She started to feel disconnected from everything, sort of a floating sensation. Something had just snapped.

She left the house with no plan, leaving the front door wide open as she wandered down the quiet street. It was late afternoon when she poked her metal clad head in the door of the restaurant. Too early, good, no maitre d’ on duty to greet her yet. A flight of stairs to the right caught her attention. She navigated the climb awkwardly in one cowboy boot and one sexy, ostrich feather slide. She scanned the empty room feeling like R2D2 in drag, and plopped down at the first table. Warm, salty frustration spilled involuntarily down her cheeks. Her life was out of control—one steaming, hot mess.

Why did she always say yes? It was like the word “no” wasn’t in her vocabulary. Saying yes is what a loving and compassionate person does for others, right? She was not that bothered by the fact that she never really felt like others appreciated her efforts. That wasn’t the point. What was the point? She just never felt she could do enough. She felt guilty, even when she helped.

Norma continued her muffled rant to the Universe until she noticed her outstretched, gesticulating hand, warmly being licked. She maneuvered her head to look down and met the very understanding face of a Dalmatian sporting a red scarf.
“How do you do?” said the dog.
Norma sat in stunned silence. Surely this was not happening. A talking dog? Seriously? Finally Norma decided to participate in the surreal moment—what did she have to lose?
“What’s your name?”
“Helen Dalmatian,” she replied.
“Perfect. I’m Norma.”
“You know, Norma, I’ve been listening to you for the last five minutes, weeping, ranting, raving, flailing your arms about. Lots of anger really. I’d like to give you some advice if you would permit me to.”
“Go for it,” said Norma, somewhat amused.
“Well, a life of love and compassion does not mean you take on the burdens of others. Those are their burdens, their life—just as yours has your burdens. You are not to interfere with their burdens. Those are where their life lessons come from; how else will they learn if you take them away? They will eventually be seen as a gift for them. At least, that is how it is supposed to go…but you know, everyone has free will. Your challenge Norma, is to love yourself, faults and all. It’s part of being a human—it makes you whole. Next, embrace every traveler you meet on your path with love and compassion for their unique perspective and challenges. Just accept them, regardless. You don’t know what their story is. You can agree or disagree, help or choose not to—but only with their load, not their burden. Love yourself for whatever choice you make, regardless of how they react—that’s their choice. Radiate love from within yourself for them and their situation. Inspire them. If someone is capable of doing something for themselves, let them. But always radiate love for them, like a dog.”

Norma pondered the advice. It would make life so much easier if she didn’t have to please everyone to be a good person. She could love others without pleasing them—what a concept!
“By the way, very cool dress, Norma!”

After discerning Norma had no treats on her, Helen Dalmatian padded softly down the staircase.

An intermittent beeping woke Norma as her faithful companion, Cleo, a three-year-old pharaoh hound, was incessantly licking her hand.
“Wow, I don’t even have a nephew,” Norma said.

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