Dogs Have Been Special to Me

My entire life, dogs have been special to me. Do you find their pure energy  attractive too? Or are you frightened by them?

I’ve Had Scary Encounters Too

When I was young, there were a pair of German Shepherds on the corner of our street. It was possible to avoid them walking home from school, but not always easy. Their snarling, barking and rushing to the fence made my heart race. Consequently, I was always extra affectionate to our family dog, a one-eyed Pekingese named Mitzi, when I got home.

Once, I was even bitten by a police dog, though not a German Shepherd. Rather, he was a docile looking bloodhound named Beau. At that time, the comedic variety show, Hee Haw was popular. I thought the bloodhound on the credits looked sleepy and harmless.

My neighbor’s husband was an Orange County Deputy Sheriff who kept Beau in a kennel on their property. I volunteered to water the plants on their back patio while they went away a few days. Someone else was taking care of Beau, but I didn’t know who. My son was not yet two and I had him secured in my backpack. As we strolled into the enclosed patio, guess who was laying in the middle of the bromeliads? Yep, there was Beau, lounging amongst the plants, copious amounts of saliva dripping off his large head.

I didn’t want to accidentally spray Beau with the hose, so I bent down, grabbed his collar and put him back in his kennel. After I finished watering some hanging plants, I returned to the patio. There he was again.. in the same place. Once again, I went to retrieve him in the exact same manner. Only this time, he wrapped his mouth around my upper arm and clamped down enough to get my attention. Then he let go. Still not getting the message, I started, once again, to grab his collar when he emitted a low growl that stopped me cold. I kept my gaze on the ground and slowly backed away, willing my fear to drop beneath his radar.

The Aftermath

As I walked the two blocks home, I lifted my sleeve to get a look at the damage. There were small bruises forming in each place a tooth had pressed into my flesh. Thankfully there was no blood.

Once inside the house, I called 911. Who else would know how to get a police dog back in his cage? The dispatcher asked all the questions about my safety and my condition, advising me to get a tetanus shot and that an officer would be over to take my statement.

Behind the scenes, they contacted a Deputy Sheriff dog handler named Jeff, who was familiar with Beau. He knew that once Beau got riled, he was uncontrollable. Jeff arrived and suited up in full attack dog training fashion. Beau almost completely ripped up Jeff’s arm protection, before he successfully returned him to his kennel. Then Jeff secured the gate so Beau couldn’t get out again.

Lessons Learned

First and foremost, I learned you can’t forget the power that resides inside any animal that feels cornered or intimidated.

Second, I realized I could handle a potentially dangerous situation with calmness, protecting myself and my son.

Third, my instinct took over and everything I’ve ever read about dog behavior kept us free from serious harm.

Some Parting Sweetness

Dogs have been special to me regardless of my difficult encounter. Here are a few of my favorite photos of my three-year-old Brittany, Sugar. Click on a picture to view full-size in a gallery.

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Sugar’s Human Mom,

Say Goodbye To 2020 With Ease

Are you ready to say, “Goodbye 2020” with ease? It has certainly been a year to remember, or is it a year to forget?

A Dual Focus

As we near the end of 2020, there will be a bombardment of the highlights of the year. It seems there was both good and bad in past reviews in the media. Will that be true for 2020?

I’m proposing a different perspective to say “Goodbye 2020” with ease.

Rather than look at the headlines, consider looking inward to your personal experience. The duality of any year retrospective might be:

  1. What are you grateful for?
  2. What do you want to release?

I’ve done this before with Connie Chapman’s 21-day end of the year journaling class, but this time was so different.

Intention Within Ritual

Let’s get started:

  • Find a quiet place to be alone
  • Gather paper and pencil
  • Sit upright with your feet firmly planted on the floor
  • Close your eyes and place your hands atop your heart
  • Take 3 deep breaths in through your nose, out through your mouth
  • Say, “I am ready to remember all the good and release all the pain of 2020.”

Open your eyes. Now we begin the actual process by writing a love letter to 2020.

  • Start your letter with “Dear 2020,”
  • Now write out everything you give thanks for during 2020
  • Next express everything you want to let go of from 2020
  • Include anything you wish to complete before 2021
  • Sign your letter as you would any other love letter

Take your time with this exercise. Close your eyes and wait for the words to come.

What if You Get Stuck?

If closing your eyes doesn’t help, perhaps you need a few hours or a few days of self care. Yes… you are worth it. You can refer to my article on self care for some ideas.

Don’t give up on this. Remember that small steps result in big change over time. If you can come up with only one thing to give thanks for during 2020, that is your first step.  It’s okay. Then go to the next step. Perhaps you’ll find ten things to let go of from 2020. It’s okay.

How Did That Feel?

For me, writing the thank you list felt like I was filling my body with sweet gratitude. Then writing the releasing portion, I felt the energy of each declaration physically leave my body. Some were much more intense than others.

There is a ritual I added to say goodbye to 2020 with ease. I tore the letter up, cleansed my area with sage and burned the pieces of my letter safely in a flameproof bowl. To prevent burning my fingers, I used a long butane lighter. Sitting at the breakfast bar didn’t seem right at first. Quickly, I turned away thoughts and focused on feelings. The burning ritual felt peaceful; no anxiety, no joy, just neutral.

Although not optimal, the breakfast bar was good enough.
I am good enough.
You are good enough.

What About 2021?

As you might have guessed, there is another ritual to help prepare for the new year, 2021. Rather than start a second ritual right now, let’s sit with this one a few days.

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Preparing for a new year,

From a Suicide Survivor to PTSD Diagnosis

When I wrote my suicide survivor article a few weeks ago, I had no idea I would go from a suicide survivor to PTSD diagnosis so easily. Although the likelihood you or a loved one will develop PTSD from any traumatic event is small (6.8% according to a 2020 Psychology Today blog), it is important to recognize the symptoms.


The acronym stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It was first brought to light in 1980. Yet, some World War I survivors in the early 20th century were known as suffering from “shell shock”. Today, we realize it was PTSD.

Although the trauma typically associated with PTSD is extreme, as in combat, it can also occur from many other types of trauma, such as long term abuse. This Psychology Today article covers the basic information about PTSD in much more detail.


Complex disorders like PTSD have a long list of possible short term and long term effects. The full list is included in another article.


As you might imagine, my therapist (I’m using her first name, Mary) asked me questions, allowed me to ‘tell my story’, took notes, and led me down the path of discovery.

When I used trigger words, like shame, she asked me where I thought that came from. I’ve been on my own path of self-discovery, so sometimes her questions were easy to answer.

“Shame was instilled in childhood by my parent,” I replied.


I continued my stories, clearly illustrating my PTSD symptoms with flashbacks followed by sudden emotional outbursts that I quickly quashed. There were many more nuances of my illness that Mary picked up on.

Near the end of the session, she took out a small book, which was a pocket handbook of PTSD symptoms. Reading each one, she noted her observations that matched my exhibited behavior. Thankfully, I didn’t exhibit every single symptom.


A huge sigh of relief escaped my body.

I had found the right therapist, there is a name for my suffering, and we will work together on a solution.


Unlike some therapists I’ve had in the past, Mary got to the root of the cause quickly. As I pondered the session this week, I believe there are a few clues about why this therapy session was more useful vs. past less useful sessions.

  1. I understood I had a problem.
    • I’ve allowed my intuition to guide me when I faced my sudden teary outbursts over the last few weeks rather than stuff down my emotion.
  2. I acted on my perceived problem.
    • Writing about the teary outbursts in an earlier blog resulted in research, which brought me to a suicide survivor group. The facilitators recognized my PTSD symptoms and recommended I seek out a therapist who specializes in trauma therapy.
    • A search on Psychology Today led me to a local therapist who specializes in trauma and PTSD.
  3. Finally, I was ready to acknowledge my true condition in order to grieve and come out of this.
    • My openness, honesty, and choice to not hold back during the session have developed over many small steps of journaling, seeking holistic and spiritually based avenues to peel away layers of self protection.

This list illustrates, in the bullet points, how small steps are truly the key to developing a life of fulfillment.


This opportunity to share parts of my mental health journey is too precious to ignore. I invite you to join me as I move beyond viewing this week’s reality from a suicide survivor to PTSD diagnosis. In contrast I want to also share the many everyday discoveries that make us smile and keep us moving forward in difficult times.

By signing up for my newsletter, you will always receive the information in my blogs along with glimpses into more joyful moments of my life.

Hanging in there,