Total Eclipse of Heart, Mind and Spirit

I have been “outed” by this solar eclipse, spanning the United States. The intense thrill, joy, excitement and global connection of a cosmic event is my first experience, as the last eclipse was 38 years ago.

I was away and in hiding for the last several months. This has been such a “trial by fire” for a lot of Americans, so shocking and unexpected that it’s difficult to believe that’s it’s really happening. The easy thing to do is retreat, sink into avoidance mode. I did that for awhile, hoping I’d wake up from this nightmare. But then I open my eyes, and lo and behold the red-headed POTUS is still there!

All this time’s gone by, and I’ve been involved with the Resistance Movement and town hall meetings in my community. There is one coming up with Ro Khanna, who replaced Mike Honda as Representative from California. Because of what’s been going on in our country, I’ve seen people who are boldly expressing themselves and joining in solidarity. I envision this monumental event as a catalyst for moving forward in our determination to honor our country and the world. And like the Bonnie Tyler song, “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, the Great American Eclipse 2017 is a sensory experience of such huge proportions that you can’t help but be swept up by the grand ceremony, even if you’re just watching TV coverage. Commentary by astrophysicists, incredible views of the moon passing over the sun, throngs of delighted onlookers gazing upward – whoa! What a rush!!!  It really makes you feel humble and respectful of the Universe.

No matter what troubles are wrought in the name of “progress”, the forces of Nature will always prevail. This is what I take away from my own experience of this cosmic spectacle. And it has definitely registered in my heart, mind and spirit, as I’m sure it has in yours as well.

 

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Wisdom Wednesday: A Humane Nation After All

Dearest All,
Now that it’s said and done, we can still lift our hearts and rejoice in some good that came of this election. What encouragement Wayne Pacelle provides here!! People coming together to support protection of animals.  He is president of HSUS, Humane Society of the United States: http://blog.humanesociety.org/wayne/2016/11/voters-say-no-factory-farming-wildlife-trafficking.html

These states voted against factory farming and wildlife trafficking — YEA! Massachusetts (78-22%!), Oregon (70%-30%), Oklahoma (60.3 percent “no” vote). I think it’s pretty neat this spells the acronym M.O.O.! – Thank you for your sensitivity to factory farm animals’ plight and commitment to protect wildlife. Your voices were heard, loud and clear!

We need to speak up for other sentient beings who cannot, at least not in a language we humans can understand!

I don’t mean to gloss over the injustice of an overly ambitious yet under qualified person being elected President of the United States, I simply want to focus on the compassionate outcome of a burgeoning Humane Nation. Yes, to be human is to be “humane”. Louie Schwartzberg said it best in his interview on Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday”:
“ We are hard-wired to protect that which we love.” And the natural world has so much to offer us — incredible beauty and  miraculous transformations (like from caterpillar to butterfly). Here’s a video of this cinematographer’s highly-acclaimed TED talk, “Gratitude”. Indeed, his audience fell in love with what they saw. Enjoy watching in awe and wonder!

Peace & Love to All,

Jacqueline

This just in — Breaking News!! — November 23, 2016 @ 11:32am

Friend,

We have exceeded our $10,000 goal for Kiko’s Fund, and your generous support helped put us over the top.

Thank you!

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, the Nonhuman Rights Project is thankful for your support for Kiko, Tommy, Hercules, Leo and all of our future nonhuman plaintiffs.

We have many significant, groundbreaking legal battles ahead. Thanks to you, we’re closer than ever to securing freedom for—and bringing unprecedented rights to—these great apes and other self-aware, autonomous nonhuman animals living in captivity all over the world.

On behalf of Kiko, Tommy, Hercules, Leo, and all of the NhRP’s future plaintiffs, thank you for making it all possible.

We’ll see you in court!

Steven M. Wise
President
The Nonhuman Rights Project

Chancey Baby – In Memoriam

Last Friday, I posted my thoughts and feelings about the loss of my faithful companion, our beloved Chance. I don’t think I did him justice, with my ranting about the unfortunate timing. I loved him with all my heart, and that bittersweet, intense devotional love wasn’t there in my message. Please forgive me. I work from home, so I am constantly reminded of his not being here.

Do you know what that’s like? All those years of having our beautiful boy ready, willing and eager to be with us. Simply being around us made him happy, whatever we were doing, watching TV, getting dinner in the kitchen, working at the computer. And then, he’s gone. And the house is so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. I complained about his barking before, and longed for peace and quiet. Well, I have plenty of that now. Be careful what you wish for…

Chance would lay right by the desk. He would be here with me now. Sometimes he’d try to get under the desk, but he was too big to fit there! I’d look at him and he’d be so happy, looking up at me with his big brown eyes. Oh my God, Chance’s eyes were filled with such unconditional love and devotion… Eyes really are the windows to the soul – that’s not just an expression. Chance lived his love and affection with gusto throughout his life.

When my husband and I came home from dinner that first night, and didn’t hear Chance barking, we were so sad and it seemed strange. We might as well have been in someone else’s home. Such a weird feeling. Chance always greeted us with a smile and a wag, and many times he howled like a wolf – Awooo! Auwooo!! He would lick my hands, my face, ’cause that’s how dogs kiss us… arggh – doggie slobber! Our baby was ecstatic every time we came home… We joked about how it always seemed to him like we were gone forever, even if it was just a couple of hours. Ah yes, guess that’s how it is with dogs. 🙂

Here’s some pics of our baby. Oh boy, did he look forward to his walks!

Jacqueline 049

We replaced the collar with a harness, which he liked much better! Since he and his brother Lucky were rescued from abuse and neglect, Chance had abandonment issues when he came to us. They were never really socialized, so we couldn’t take our dogs to the park, like other pet parents. All we could do was walk them around the neighborhood. Chance used to pull on his leash, and it was all I could do to keep up with him! I’d say, “Here’s Chance, sporting the latest in canine high fashion. You look so handsome in your halter top!” He walked proudly and many times ran along the sidewalk (keeping off our neighbor’s lawns), the wind in his face… I didn’t really want to “control” him. I’m glad now that he ran as free as he could — while he still could. Arthritis and hip dysplasia brought him down physically, but never quashed his spirit…

Chance is romping about healthy, happy and whole with his pal Lucky at a place in the celestial realm called “Rainbow Bridge”, where our beloved pets go when they die. There’s no pain, no disease or disability in this beautiful field of eternity, only happiness and contentment. He is in God’s hands and at peace. Bless you, my brown-eyed beloved.

Jacqueline 052

Faithful Friday

It’s been over two weeks, and I still feel the pangs of loss, remorse, guilt and regret. It’s happened before, losing a loved one, but the timing this time was uncanny.

The 27th of July was our Wedding Anniversary, and it happened to fall in the middle of week. My husband couldn’t take that day off, so we planned to celebrate over the weekend. Doggone it, our 25th anniversary!  We had to do something really special. David’s brother and sister-in-law went on a cruise to Alaska for theirs, and friends of ours are right now on a cruise to Alaska, celebrating their 30th! Sounds like I’m being a petulant brat here, given the crisis we were grappling with in our family, but it’s really just exasperation.

A cruise is an expensive trip we can’t afford. And we didn’t have a pet sitter who could take care of 3 cats and a very sick dog… Good grief, how could we go anywhere when one of our fur babies needed us?

Before I went to bed, I looked over bouquets of flowers online to send to my husband’s office the next day. I had a strange sensation of “What’s the point?” I didn’t order anything.

During the night, I got up to go potty and so carefully walked around our dog, Chance, so as not to disturb him. He always lay at the foot of our bed. His legs were stretched out, and he sometimes stretched in his sleep. In the faint glow of the nightlight I could barely see him, so I didn’t know yet.

I’ve been through this before, and the intense sadness and foreboding are palpable. Why am I so afraid of what might happen? I kept thinking, “I know my Chancy Baby is very ill, but he’s getting better with the medicine – isn’t he?” Pitiful… denying the inevitable.

Well, in the light of day on Wednesday, the 27th, I reached over to hug my husband (I still didn’t know) to wish him “Happy Anniversary, darling.” But the words didn’t come and I had an odd feeling of gloom and doom. David groaned (he already knew) and got up to take his shower…

I peeked over to Chance’s water bowl. One side effect of his medicine is increased thirst, and Chance drank water constantly, day and night. Damn! The bowl was full. Still under the covers, I looked over the end of the bed and saw Chance laying on his left side, legs stretched out and his right ear flopped back . I thought, “Ah, he’s relaxed and sleeping soundly.” But I didn’t see any sign of breathing. I finally got up and moved closer to him.

I hated saying it, “Honey, Chance has passed away.” I was crying but couldn’t bring myself to touch him. Death scares me, though I’ve seen it enough times with our pets. Doesn’t matter, it always hits you like a punch in the stomach. You feel sick and helpless.

David had to go to work. His company’s audit started that day. There I was, with a deceased pet, who had to remain in our bedroom until my sister-in-law and her boyfriend could help transport him to the clinic that afternoon. Chance was a rescue dog, a 14yr. old German Shepherd/Queenshound mix. He weighed 65 pounds, and I sure couldn’t lift and carry him myself.

Before they came, I said a prayer which I always do for any beloved family member who passes. We had bought for Chance an all natural holistic mouth spray from TruDog, but hadn’t started using it. His dental care paled in comparison to the cancer just diagnosed that was ravaging his body… Too little, too late.

He did outlive his brother, Lucky, who died of a heart attack just over two years ago. So sudden, we didn’t arrange for private cremation for Lucky at that time. At least Chance is getting an urn with a lovely sentiment engraved, from Bubbling Well in Napa, CA. We are also arranging for a “symbolic” urn for Lucky, so we have something more than his collar to remember him by.

Lucky and Chance were both rescue dogs – loyal, faithful companions right to the end. Animals don’t judge you, or question your motives. They simply accept you are you are – “warts and all” – a refreshing change of pace, compared to most people I know! What’s more, it’s worth remembering that DOG backwards spells GOD. I embrace this because I believe God loves us unconditionally, and without reservation. We all know dogs love their pet parents that way too! You know it when they plant a big wet one on your cheek… Arghh, doggie slobber! 🙂

Right now at my desk, I’m looking at a beautiful dedication on the back of the catalog from TruPet, by Lori R. Taylor, Founder & CEO. I’m not promoting this company. I simply like their message, and want to share it with you:

“Dedicated to the dogs who heal our hearts and make us whole.

May your legacy be the light that saves the world.”

Truer words were never spoken – or written. God Bless our faithful friends!

Serene Sunday: Awaken Your Senses to Nature’s Wonders!

I have just finished watching the DVD on Findhorn Retreat with Eckhart Tolle, which was recorded in 2004 in Scotland. Wish I had been there! A beautiful location in a serene environment that is the perfect setting for its theme: “Stillness Amidst The World”, and good reason for this encore presentation of one of my most popular posts, from November, 2014. Eckhart Tolle speaks of being in the present moment, and seeing the miracles inherent in Nature, without the filter of labeling or identifying what we see in front of us. It’s like merging with the formless (which is spirit), and recognizing that we are part of everything around us. The following quotes beautifully embrace the sacred within the ordinary… Enjoy!

“Connection with gardens, even small ones, even potted plants, can become windows to the inner life. The simple act of stopping and looking at the beauty around us can be prayer.”
– Patricia R. Barrett, The Sacred Garden

“The first act of awe, when man was struck with the beauty or wonder of Nature, was the first spiritual experience.”
– Henryk Skolimowski

“Even before I could speak, I remember crawling through blueberry patches in the wild meadows on our hillsides. I quickly discovered Nature was filled with Spirit; I never saw any separation between Spirit and Nature. Much later I discovered our culture taught there was supposed to be some kind of separation – that God, Spirit and Nature were supposed to be divided and different. However, at my early age it seemed absolutely obvious that the church of the Earth was the greatest church of all; that the temple of the forest was the supreme temple. When I went to the sanctuary of the mountain, I found Earth’s natural altar – Great Spirit’s real shrine. Years later I discovered that this path of going into Nature, bonding deeply with it, and seeing Spirit within Nature – God, Goddess, and Great Spirit – was humanity’s most ancient, most primordial path of spiritual cultivation and realization.”
– John P. Milton, Sky Above, Earth Below

“In all things of Nature there is something marvellous.”
– Aristotle

Awakening

“In the assemblies of the enlightened ones there have been many cases of mastering the Way bringing forth the heart of plants and trees; this is what awakening the mind for enlightenment is like. The fifth patriarch of Zen was once a pine-planting wayfarer; Rinzai worked on planting cedars and pines on Mount Obaku. … Working with plants, trees, fences and walls, if they practice sincerely they will attain enlightenment.”

– Dogen Zenji, Japanese Zen Buddhist Grand Master, Awakening the Unsurpassed Mind, #31

“Scent is the most potent and bewitching substance in the
gardener’s repertory and yet it is the most neglected and
least understood. The faintest waft is sometimes enough
to induce feelings of hunger or anticipation, or to transport
you back through time and space to a long-forgotten moment
in your childhood. It can overwhelm you in an instant or simply
tease you, creeping into your consciousness slowly and
evaporating almost the moment it is detected. Each fragrance,
whether sweet or spicy, light or heavy, comes upon you
in its own way and evokes its own emotional response.”
– Stephen Lacey, Scent in Your Garden, 1991

“To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat.”
– Beverly Nichols

“I go to Nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”
– John Burroughs

My lilac trees are old and tall;
I cannot reach their bloom at all.
They send their perfume over trees
And roof and streets, to find the bees.
– Lousie Driscoll, 1875 – 1957, My Garden Is a Pleasant Place

“Perfumes are the feelings of flowers.”
– Heinrich Heine

And so it is, ever was and ever shall be. Praise God and all of Mother Nature! May you have a happy “Leap Year”, and be grateful for the extra day to love and appreciate all that the natural world has to offer. 🙂

Feel Good Friday :-)

I’m starting a regular column today on a simple topic: Feeling Good. I have experienced so many moments of joy and even bliss that I got to the point where I just have to share. Otherwise, I feel like I’m somehow being selfish! But I’ve been told that sharing is caring and each time we experience a good feeling, it’s natural and desirable to “spread it around”, like delicious homemade jam on freshly baked bread. 🙂

And while you’re basking in this yummy metaphor, keep in mind that enjoying food though really nice is but a temporary “high”. I believe that now more than ever we need – no I should say we “crave” – a real, a genuine connection to the natural world. Appreciating the beauty of God’s creations yields more “feel good” moments that have a lasting effect for me (and most people), and they’re blissfully therapeutic!!

Here’s an excerpt from Louie Schwartzberg’s “Moving Art” blog. He’s the filmmaker and photographer whose “Gratitude” documentary film went viral on YouTube this year:

“When you’ve felt depressed or stressed out, have you ever decided to go for a walk among the trees or visit a beach to watch the waves roll in? How did you feel after you spent time in Nature? Experience has shown us that Nature is one of the best natural healers we have available to us… Going on a long walk and taking time to experience the awe of Nature has shown that it can lower levels of cytokines; according to the article, “chronically high levels of cytokines have been linked to a number of health problems, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression and autoimmune conditions.”

There’s a name for this kind of dis-ease, and it’s Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD) and the worst example is our sedentary kids. Children used to run, laugh, play outdoors, skin their knees and jump in piles of leaves. These days, they spend most of their time with iPhones, iPads, and read e-books on Kindle or other devices. But that’s another angle of this story, and I want to continue feeling good and sharing moments of peace, love and happiness, so there!

Speaking of which, check out Louie’s time-lapse photography, which is what’s made him famous:  http://movingart.com/magicflowers/

And while this app is only available now on Mac and all the Apple contingents, that is changing and they are in the process of creating a cross platform. I just got off the phone with Elise at the company, so no worries!

And here’s another feel good moment to leave with you, from one of my poet friends:

      View on Twitter       

Beauty opens our heart. . . Indeed, so very true!!

Please share with me your own “feel good” moments that you recall. Who knows? I may even make a movie about them! 🙂

Francis Friday: Welcoming the Pope!

Pope Francis is visiting the United States for the first time! I could hardly believe my ears when I tuned in to the 5:00 news (which I seldom watch, as most news is negative) on Tuesday, to discover that His Holiness had just stepped off the plane a few hours before in Washington, D.C. What an auspicious occasion for President Obama, Michelle Obama and their daughters to meet and greet the Pope! One cardinal on the plane joked about trading his “zucchetto” with the Pope’s, and I had no idea what he meant. So I looked up that word on Wikipedia, and found out it’s the skull cap worn by high officials in the Roman Catholic Church. Apparently, Pope Francis had a difficult time keeping his zucchetto on, as it was very windy and it kept blowing off. 🙂 Cardinals wear a scarlet red zucchetto, and the white is exclusively reserved for the Bishop of Rome (other name for Pope).

From Wikipedia: The zucchetto originated as the Greek pilos and is related to the beret (which itself was originally a large zucchetto). It was adopted circa the Early Middle Ages, if not earlier, to keep clerics’ heads warm. Its name derives from its resemblance to half a pumpkin. Its appearance is almost identical to the Jewish kippah (yarmulke), though its significance is quite different.[4][5]

I think it’s great that Pope Francis is referred to as “The People’s Pope”, and reminds me of Princess Diana (Queen of People’s Hearts). His approval rating in our country is close to 90% and he’s venturing into areas of discussion and debate that most Popes have never considered before. Pope Francis is humble, modest, charming, merciful and accessible, which the public loves! Although I’m not a Roman Catholic, I am certainly grateful for what Pope Francis represents, which is the Unconditional Love of Christ, mercy, forgiveness and charity. His generosity is clearly evident in his behavior toward the “common people”.

Pope Francis even embraced a handicapped man who had a disfigured face. This picture brings tears to my eyes, as an example of genuine compassion. Reminds me of Princess Diana and her volunteer work with lepers in the hospital:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/07/world/europe/pope-francis-embrace/

Our Pope is living up to the legacy of St. Francis of Assisi, as he’s stated that He’s very proud to be named after this compassionate saint, who loved ALL of God’s creatures, and was a champion of the poor and destitute. The Pope is building bridges and healing wounds on a grand scale, such as the work he’s been doing in Cuba.

I’m very encouraged by Pope Francis’s “Encyclical Letter”. What a tremendous Wake Up Call about despoiling the environment and exploitation/abuse of wildlife, careless disregard of the sacredness of biodiversity. Hunting God’s creatures to extinction is an abomination and a SIN against Nature, when we should consider them our Spiritual Brothers and Sisters. That belief comes across very strongly in Pope Francis’s Chapter IV and pays tribute to St. Francis with Verse 87 which is the Canticle of the Sun, St. Francis’s heartwarming hymn to God’s Creations.

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

And here’s Pope Francis’s stance on Animal Protection:

http://blog.humanesociety.org/wayne/2015/06/pope-encyclical-embraces-animal-protection.html

Even the Pope’s dietary regimen is influenced by his respect for animals, and his repulsion for  industrialized factory farming, which is the prime contributor of Greenhouse Gases – the cause of global warming. He is essentially a Vegetarian, and eats mostly organically grown produce, following a simple Jesuit tradition.

Here’s the latest itinerary for the Pontiff’s travels:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/09/22/pope-visit-washington-new-york-philadelphia-united-states/72073294/

I only wish that Pope Francis would come to the west coast, specifically the San Francisco Bay Area. After all, like the Pope himself, the city was named after Saint Francis of Assisi!

What are your views on the Pope’s historic visit?  I would love to hear your thoughts. 🙂