Tuesday, November 27, 2018


Hope you enjoy this story. It started with the single prompt word: 


“Torino’s,” came the almost-barked answer.

I could hear the bustle of the kitchen crew working around him and the murmur of customers’ voices chatting, laughing, blending with the pulse of Bob Marley’s music.

“We just got a call from the Humane Society. Someone’s turned in a golden, and we’re first on the request list," I jumped right in. "He’s an owner surrender, so there’s no four-day hold before he can be adopted. I have him reserved and can be there at 4:30. Can you meet me?”

“Won’t be able to make it ‘til 5, but yes!” There was a pause. “Call me if he’s not the right one, okay?”

“Will do.”

“Gotta run. Crazy lunch rush today. See you soon!”

Walking between the cages at the pound was always heart wrenching. The Green Mile flitted through my mind. Some of these dogs, I knew, would be euthanized within days of my visit, their time having run out. It was the only reason I would never volunteer there. I would probably exceed the city's pet limit before the end of my first shift.

Stopping in front of the second to last pen, the shelter assistant turned to me. “He’s pretty scared, so you'll want to take it slowly.”

Peering into the narrow cell, I saw a cowering, thin, gold dog tucked into the far corner. He sat up as we stood at the door, continuing to press his back into the wall, keeping his gaze down, only glancing briefly at us and then quickly away. I read the paper clipped to the metal board that was attached to the wire wall:

Max. Male Golden Retriever. Neutered. Approx. 1.5 years. Owner surrender. There was a sad-looking polaroid stapled to the corner and a huge white expanse beneath the section titled “Notes:”

 I dropped to my knees, shifted my gaze away from him, and softly called, “Hey, Max. Come on, pup." There was a slight shift as he heard his name. "Promise I won’t hurt you.”

I looked up at the woman beside me. “Do you know his story? Why is he here?” 

“Sounds like this guy’s been passed around a lot already in his short life. The girl who brought him in was his third owner, as far as she knew. She got him from her little brother. Kept him secret from her landlord for the past couple weeks, but a neighbour ratted her out. Landlord told her it was either the dog went or she did. Kinda tough hiding an 80-pound dog.”

We chuckled together.

“Anyway, it seems her brother stole the dog from some guy who had a junkyard, selling parts from crashed cars. He’d somehow gotten ahold of Max here… and was trying to turn him into a guard dog. Throwin’ rocks at him. Tryin’ to make him mean. Imagine… a golden. The kid couldn’t stand seeing that jerk damaging this beautiful dog and one night borrowed his dad’s wire snips and broke him out. When his dad heard the story the following morning, he didn’t make his son take Max back, but also wouldn’t let him keep him. So, the boy reached out to his sister.

“What a story,” I said, gazing back into the pen. He hadn't moved. “It’s okay, Max. Come on, bud.”

The assistant reached into her pocket and handed me a small Milk Bone.

“Here you go, Max. Want a treat?” I’d never known a golden who could resist food, and true to his breed, he lifted his twitching nose and slowly began to follow it forward. Just before reaching the door, he slunk to his belly. Stretching his neck as far toward the cookie as he could, he eventually pulled himself within reach of the treat that I held through the wire. 

There was no snapping. He looked up at me with those big brown eyes that seemed to be overflowing with gratitude, as he gently took it and stepped back to crunch it down. 

In the greeting room, it took a good ten minutes before he eased out from behind my legs to meet Wayne. Once he did though, the bond was instant. He was safe. An hour later, we signed the paperwork, wrote a check, and the healing began.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Marianne Williamson for POTUS??

Over the past couple of days a few friends have shared the news that Marianne Williamson, an author and teacher whose work I have read for years, is considering running for President of the United States. (You can click those last few words to read her announcement.)

Perhaps you have read Marianne's most famous quote at some point:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us....

As an almost-dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, I would love to see Marianne Williamson leading the U.S., not only for my friends and family in the states, but because of the country’s international clout. (Even though, as I just learned, the U.S. holds only 4.4% of the world's population, its wealth and firepower influences so many countries' policies.)

My thoughts may be unpopular – and totally un-IPpie-like – but they come from my gut and hours of thinking and discussion with wise, insightful people…. 

I honestly don't believe America is anywhere NEAR mature enough to elect as President someone as evolved as Marianne Williamson. I would absolutely LOVE to be wrong about this. I sincerely hope she runs for office (though I’m not convinced that President is the place to start.) I believe she has the potential to begin opening more people's minds -- those who don't judge and mock her, that is. She could get the political ship heading in a wiser, more compassionate direction. 

We who work with clients know that it takes time (and baby steps) to help shift even the most willing people from their fears. There are millions of people in the states – nearly half of the voting population – committed to the status quo, insisting that being tough and kicking a** on the world stage is “great” – people who don't seem to be interested in win-win collaboration or inclusion, let alone creating a loving, empowered world family.

It’s my belief that, in order to overthrow Trump in 2020, we U.S. voters will need to support the candidate who has the best chance of ousting him. Many of us know and love Marianne Williamson; however, most of my friends have never heard of her – or perhaps have heard her quote above and nothing more. 

We need someone that can actually be heard by a larger population than just their “base.”  Over the years I’ve seen many liberal, compassionate voters split their votes between two or three candidates, hoping to elect somone with awesome values, and lose to the regimented conservatives by doing so. 

As much as I wish that America was ready for a wise president (female or male), I think there are a lot of tough old white men and their diamond-studded wives (not to mention their middle-aged kids) who are clamped onto their wealth and privilege, wanting someone who looks and thinks like them in the White House. How can we find a win-win in this environment?

Sadly, in our current culture, I don’t believe that a highly-educated woman talking about loving and spiritual awakening can beat a neighborhood bully appealing to people’s base selves. There are too many people looking to blame rather than looking to connect. 

I’m not saying the tide isn’t shifting and there is no hope. Our message of empowerment is strong and miraculous and is spreading. I just don’t think we’re there yet.

The 2020 election is an important stepping-stone one, where moderate-to-liberal U.S. voters will need to choose their candidate carefully, finding someone that the semi-scared, on-the-fence folks AND more open-hearted, inclusive people will elect. Our next candidate has to beat a TV rock star! Our candidate will have to know how to play the current political game, or guaranteed they will lose, and we will have four more years of Trump's bullying, lies and self-serving policies to endure. That person will need to speak the language of the terrified nationalists in order to help ease them into a healthier future. I’m not sure that Marianne Williamson speaks that language.

How about you? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts about M.W. as POTUS or any other ideas sparked by reading this post.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Back to blogging! A Political Fantasy Story for You

Hello dear friends and readers, 

Hope you’ve had a lovely long break from reading these ponderings and life is going well for you. 😊

I’ve been writing away in the background and am this close to completing my first book!! Doing final clean-ups and considering ways in which to publish it now. Any of your thoughts, either here or on FB would be more than welcome.

Until the book’s release, I will share a few short pieces here… prompt stories that I’ve written over the past couple of years. Some ideas were inspired by a Toronto author, Sarah Selecky, who provides daily prompts to order. Some cues came from my beloved writing group partners. And some were random, weird thoughts that came to mind.

I wrote this first one last week – a couple days before the U.S. mid-term elections. My Republican friends and family probably won’t like it, so if you don’t appreciate liberal political fantasy, might I suggest you skip this particular story?

Either way, I will be adding a weekly post this month, so hope to see you again soon!

This idea came from my accountability and writing group partner, Leanna.
"Please write a completely fictional scene or story with the theme of absence and use these words somewhere in your piece:  Karen, pencil, rutabaga."

And here’s what came of that delightfully creative prompt...

Juanita closed her eyes, chewing the horribly bitter bite of boiled rutabaga, doing her best to hide the near-gag from her hostess. Karen’s home was her refuge, after all, her safe place in this loud and unfriendly new city of Houston. She wasn’t in a position to complain about the meals. She was fed and housed and, although her family was thousands of miles away and hopefully still alive, for now, she was safe. 

“Bueno?” Karen asked, glancing down at her own untouched plate.

“Si. Gracias. Thank you,” Juanita answered, swallowing the last cold lump in one go. 

Karen scooped up both plates and dropped them unceremoniously into the sink.
Following her host out into the living room, Juanita settled onto the couch and picked up her notebook and pencil, prepared to scribble down unfamiliar vocabulary words scrolling by under the newscasts. This and the subsequent study time had become their after-dinner ritual over the past three weeks. Already Juanita was beginning to decipher more meaning from the quick blather pouring from the TV. 

Once she was settled, Juanita looked across at her hostess. Rather than her usual blanket-covered, relaxed position on the lounge chair, Karen was sitting on the edge of the seat with one knee bouncing erratically. Her head was thrust toward the screen, eyebrows drawn tight together.

What is going on? Juanita wondered. She strained to understand the newscaster’s words.
The previous Tuesday, she and Karen had used their Spanish-English translation sites to discuss the US mid-term elections. Juanita had watched the Texas-born woman leap in glee from her chair when the blue bar exceeded the red and continued to rise over the final few hours of the evening. 

“We did it! We did it, Juanita! The Democrats have taken Congress!” Karen had cried, pulling her into a shaking hug and spinning her around in dizzying circles.

Last night they had celebrated again with a bottle of sparkling cider, when a man called Bernie Sanders had been named Speaker of the House. Karen had painstakingly helped Juanita understand Bernie’s philosophy – especially when it came to helping immigrants and refugees – and the power that his new position held in the American government. His was the third most powerful position in the nation. Tonight, he was scheduled to give his first address as the Speaker. 

The newscasters seemed to be talking even quicker than usual, and Juanita was unable to keep up. Doing her best to read the ticker and closed-captioned text, the “breaking news” story began to make sense. It seemed that the President (the Orange One, as Karen called him) and his Vice President (with a name sounding disturbingly like Fence) had both been missing for the previous 48 hours. The under-cover red-alert had revealed no sign of the two men. Secret Service and police at every level were frantically searching. 

Moments later, Bernie Sanders’ face filled the television screen. The stress there was obvious, but his voice was pitched to calm, addressing the world. The cameras panned back, and another man stepped into view, holding a black book and a clipboard. Juanita heard Karen’s sharp intake of breath and then saw her tears begin to flow. Back on the TV, Bernie placed his hand on the book and repeated some words, while under his picture, words slowly scrolled by in red: Trump and Pence MISSING. Speaker of the House, Bernie Sanders takes the oath of President of the United States.

Until next week! ~ P