Archives for posts with tag: spiritual growth

Like most children, when I was a little girl, I trusted that my parents would take care of me and that all was well in my world.  It isn’t something that children even think about, they just open their hearts and place their trust in others – their parents, their siblings, their teachers and their friends.  Thankfully, I’m one of the lucky ones whose trust was unbroken as a young child.

Although this post is not about dogs (for a change!), I love this photo as it beautifully illustrates the trust between my sweet Daisy and one of her kitties, Salem.  Animals have so much to teach us about so many things - including trusting one another!

Although this post is not about dogs (for a change!), I love this photo as it beautifully illustrates the trust between my sweet Daisy and one of her kitties, Salem. Like young children, most animals seem to have that innate ability to trust with an open heart!

Lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to trust – the elusive, intangible that is often an unspoken promise.  In many aspects the glue that holds a relationship together.  Whether it be a friendship, a marriage or even a business relationship.  I’ve been going back in my mind, trying to pinpoint at what age I first experienced the pain of placing my trust in another, only to have it broken.  And we use the term ‘broken’ when referring to trust as it can be shattered into tiny fragments, destroying a once healthy relationship.  When we place our trust in someone and they disappoint or betray us, it’s almost impossible for that relationship to be made whole again.

I honestly can’t remember the first time my trust was broken.  But I do know that I’ve experienced the pain many times over the years.   I’ve been told by those closest to me that I’m ‘too trusting’ – but how can you have a deep connection with anyone while guarding your heart and holding back the trust?  I don’t believe in hedging my bets when it comes to relationships – I’m an ‘all in’ kind of gal.  I also don’t believe that trust needs to be earned, I believe it’s something that is given freely with an open heart. And yes, this often results in having my trust broken.  Sometimes it’s a slow erosion, little seemingly inconsequential events that eventually lead to broken trust and the end of a relationship.  Other times, there is a major deal breaker such as infidelity that has broken my trust in another.

Which leads me to the point of this blog.  I recently experienced a very painful ‘break up’ of sorts – not with my husband but with a trusted friend and business associate.  Over the past five years, this person was someone that I trusted above all others in many times of crisis. I don’t want to go into detail, as this is not a ‘smear’, but suffice it to say that we had what I thought was a symbiotic relationship, both personally and professionally.  I went out of my way to show my appreciation and gratitude for everything this person brought to my life, and yes, I trusted them completely.

Things began to shift in the past few months.   At first I overlooked the unreturned phone calls and texts, making excuses for the other person – they were busy, lots going on in their life, etc.  But as this progressed, I began to get angry – and yes hurt.  I was busy, too and quite honestly, I was no longer getting what I needed from this relationship – mostly on a professional level, but also personally.  When you mix business with friendship, the lines sometimes get blurred and this is where things get sticky.  And so I had two choices, walk away or confront. If you know me, you know that I will avoid confrontation at all costs, but this was an important relationship to me and I decided to take the chance and ask point blank, “what the heck is going on?”  I reached out several times via email – only to be put off repeatedly.  As time went on, I vacillated between confusion – “what did I do to cause this person to turn their back on me?”, anger, “how dare they, I have been a loyal and faithful client and friend!”, and ultimately to a deep sadness.

And finally, I reached out one more time – hoping that I was just being overly sensitive and there was a perfectly logical explanation for what was a simple misunderstanding. Turns out there was no misunderstanding.  For no apparent reason, this person no longer wished to continue our relationship – professionally or personally.  Although these were not the exact words, the intent of the message was crystal clear.  I have been summarily dismissed and my trust has been shattered.

At this point, I have several choices – push for further explanation, the ever popular ‘don’t get mad, get even’ or simply walk away.  Often in these situations, our first instinct is to want to inflict emotional pain on the other person, so they will feel as badly as we do.  And trust me, this was tempting.  As I cried tears of frustration and sorrow mixed with anger, my husband gave me the best advice of all – do nothing, it’s OVER.  At first I thought that was the typical male response, just ignore the feelings – but then after calming down and much soul searching, I realized he was right.  There is nothing I can do or say in this situation that is going to change the outcome.  Lashing out at the other person will not make me feel better.  I know in my heart that I have been a good friend and client, and that is the best I can do.  I gave my trust freely and it was broken, but this will not break me nor cause me to guard my heart in the future.  I’m not quite evolved enough to truly wish this person well, but I can say Namaste (loosely translated meaning ‘the soul within me bows to the soul within you’) and walk away with grace and dignity.

Many blessings,

Melissa

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When I first started this blog, I thought writing about various aspects of my life would help me achieve balance.  As time goes by, I realize that I’m most compelled to write about my experiences with the precious grey muzzles known as Daisy Dogs (Daisy’s Place Retriever Rescue).  These amazing creatures have taught me so much about life, love, and yes, all too often these days, loss.

While I prefer to focus on the joy they bring to my life – and so many others – there is also the flip side of the coin, knowing they will be gone much too soon.  These furry treasures often come to us with broken bodies and yet their spirits are usually strong and their incredible capacity to love and live in the moment is a gift beyond compare.  We know when we take a grey muzzle into our heart and home they may not be with us for many years, but the amount of joy they bring to each and every moment is priceless.

And yet, there are days like today that I wonder how much more loss my heart can bear.  Yesterday I learned that yet another precious Daisy Dog will be leaving this earth much too soon.  Mercury is one of the sweetest, most loving dogs I’ve ever met.  His gentle manner and soulful eyes captured my heart the minute I met him.  He’s the very picture of what you expect from a Lab – loyal and loving, and yet his family dumped him in a kill shelter when he became inconvenient.   Perhaps it was his age – 10 years old – or maybe their lives changed and they no longer had time for him, I’ll never know  – and even if I did know the reasons I probably wouldn’t comprehend how anyone could abandon such a sweet soul.

Earlier last year my heart soared when Mercury was adopted by a wonderful young couple, Amber and Jason.  I knew instantly that they would give Mercury the loving home he deserved and that he, in turn, would love them with all his heart for the rest of his days.

Mercury hanging out in my studio waiting for his forever mommy, Amber, to pick him up so he can start his new life!  April 27, 2013

Mercury hanging out in my studio patiently waiting for his forever mommy, Amber, to pick him up so he can start his new life! April 27, 2012

Mercury has had the very best life with Amber and Jason – he’s become their cherished fur child.  Late last year Mercury was diagnosed with cancer and after many consultations with vets and specialists, they decided to have his leg amputated.  His recovery was slow and often painful, but through it all there was one constant – Mercury’s love for Amber and Jason and their love for him.  I met Jason at the vet one day not long after the surgery.   As Mercury struggled to stand up on three legs, I saw the love in his eyes as he looked at his dad.  Watching Jason gently lift Mercury into the car and knowing how much he was loved, touched me deeply and I thanked God for people like Amber and her husband.

Mercury surrounded by his favorite duckies (post surgery) - Christmas 2012

Mercury surrounded by his favorite duckies (post surgery) – Christmas 2012

And now, sadly, the cancer has spread to Mercury’s spleen and liver.  I got the word yesterday and it hit me so hard I could barely catch my breath.  Sadly, I know all too well, the pain and anguish that Amber and Jason are feeling.  I want so badly to help them but I know that there is nothing I can do or say that will make this any easier.  I’m heartbroken for them – and for dear, sweet Mercury.  To make matters even worse, they’re expecting their first baby next month.  This should be one of the happiest times in their lives and yet I know they are devastated at the thought of losing Mercury so soon.

And so, in my long roundabout way, I have finally gotten to the point of this post.  I’m often asked “how do I know when it’s time to say goodbye to my beloved fur child?”  There is no easy answer to this question.  I don’t think that anyone, not me or even a vet, can tell someone when it’s time to say goodbye.  The best advice I can give is to listen with your heart – your precious fur child will tell you when it’s time.

Sadly, I didn’t know this when my own sweet Sophie was diagnosed with cancer.  Many reading this blog never knew my beautiful black chowbador – she was pre-Daisy’s Place and in some aspects, the reason I got into rescue.  After she went to the rainbow bridge I was so lost that I needed to ‘do’ something and that’s when I attended my first rescue event – but that’s a story for another post.

Sophie, or Sophie Bear as we lovingly called her because of her thick beautiful fur, was my constant companion and shadow for almost ten years.  She was abandoned as a young pup and Micheal found her while on a jobsite – he brought her home to me as a surprise.  When we were renovating our building downtown, Sophie came with me every day and stayed by my side as I painted what would be our new home.  Sophie never wandered far from me and I never had to worry about her getting out the door for she would always stay within eyesight.  I could park on the street and open the car door and tell her to ‘go home’ and she’d walked down the sidewalk and sit patiently on the front steps while I unloaded.

Sophie Bear 'on the job' during renovation - July 2007

“Did somebody say lunch???” Sophie Bear ‘on the job’ during renovation – July 2007

In October of 2007, we finally moved into our new home after a three year renovation.  Sophie loved living downtown and enjoyed our long walks through the city.  Two days before the new year, Sophie didn’t eat breakfast – this was highly unusual as she was strongly food motivated or pardon the pun, a chow hound!  Given that it was Saturday and a holiday weekend, I rushed her to our vet who immediately referred us to the specialty clinic.  After several long hours we were told that she would need to spend the night as there was some sort of mass on her xrays and they needed to do more tests.  Long story short, we got the call the next day – New Year’s Eve – Sophie had hemangiomasarcoma and it had spread to her spleen.  The vet at the specialty clinic said she most likely only had days to live and asked if I wanted to have her put to sleep – “NO,” I screamed into the phone, “I’m coming to pick her up right now!”

My beautiful yoga companion - January 2008

My beautiful yoga companion, her tail would softly wag whenever I chanted “om” – January 2008

And so began what were the most bittersweet two months of my life.  I read up on everything I could about canine cancer.  We made an appointment with a canine oncologist hoping she would affirm what we prayed for – a miracle that would save Sophie’s life.  When she told us that the cancer was too advanced, we thanked her and brought Sophie home refusing to believe her diagnosis.  I began cooking special food for Sophie, we continued our long therapeutic walks and I started bringing her into my yoga room while I practiced, believing that the quiet, peaceful energy would help heal her body.  I also had a sacred prayer circle of dear friends – we lit candles and surrounded Sophie with love, each praying silently for her recovery.

Micheal and me with our sweet girl after her tummy was shaved for the ultrasound - she loved going to Red's for a burger!

Micheal and me with our sweet girl after her tummy was shaved for the ultrasound – she loved going to Red’s for a burger!

During this time, Sophie showed no signs of illness – her appetite and energy level were good and we began to believe that perhaps we were being granted a miracle.  Until one beautiful Sunday, Sophie and I were out on our morning walk and I noticed she had slowed down … a shiver ran down my spine as I stopped to check her gums.  As I feared, they were pale – the dreaded sign of internal bleeding.  I called Micheal and told him to get the car ready – we needed to get to the emergency clinic immediately.  As we waited for the vet, I kept praying and still refused to believe that I would lose my beautiful girl.

Me and Sophie Bear just days before she went to the rainbow bridge – February 2008

This part is all a bit of a blur, so I honestly don’t remember all the technical terms or exact words from the vet – the upshot is that we were able to bring Sophie back home and the emergency room vet advised us to call the oncologist in the morning.  I spent one last night with my precious girl – she had stopped eating and as I begged her to take some ice chips from me, I still refused to give up.  I slept on the floor next to her as she didn’t want to be on our bed where she had slept by my side for almost a decade.  In the middle of the night she moved away from me and by the next morning she was lethargic and in pain.

We rushed her to the specialty clinic in the morning – her oncologist was not available and we were referred to another specialist.  As we sat in the exam room trying to comprehend our options, everything seemed surreal … I could barely understand what the vet was telling us and finally I asked, “what would you do if it was your dog?”   The response I got was not helpful, something about not being able to give us that opinion – and so, believing we were doing the best thing for our girl, Micheal and I told them to go ahead with a blood transfusion.  At this point, we were frantically grasping at straws to save our Sophie Bear.

This is the critical point in this post – and I can barely write it as tears blur my eyes  – if I could go back and do it all again, I would have lovingly let her go in that exam room.  At the time, I believed with all my heart, that we were doing the best thing for Sophie.  In retrospect, that was not the case.

They told us that Sophie would be transferred to the emergency clinic after the transfusion that evening and we could come back and visit her.  We anxiously counted the minutes and hours and then later that night we were finally able to see Sophie.  I was not prepared for what awaited us – Sophie was in the back, in a cold steel cage, her mid-section was bandaged and she was obviously in extreme pain.  As I sat on the concrete floor stroking her soft fur, I struggled to hold back the tears.   Micheal and I stayed with Sophie as long as we could – far into the night – and finally I knew – it was time to let go.  I looked at Micheal and we both knew our sweet girl was holding on for us, she would continue to fight and struggle as long as we were there, but she was in so much pain we had to say goodbye for her sake.  And so I whispered a quite “ommm” one last time to my beloved Sophie Bear.  It was barely 20 minutes after we got home that the phone call came – Sophie had gone into cardiac arrest shortly after we left and she had gone to the rainbow bridge.

Over five years later, just the thought of Sophie lying there alone in that sterile emergency clinic brings a flood of tears – and it remains one of the biggest regrets of my life.  If I had it to do over, I would have sat with Sophie in the vet’s office and lovingly said goodbye and I would not have put her through that painful and unnecessary blood transfusion.

Of course, I can’t go back and change things.  But hopefully my experience might help others who are facing the difficult decision of when to let go and say goodbye.  As I replay that awful day and night in my mind, I realize now that Sophie was trying to tell me she was ready to go – as they walked her down the hall for the blood transfusion, she looked over her shoulder at me … I should have known by the look in her eyes that she needed me to be strong, but all I could think of was my own desperate need to do everything I could to keep her with me.  Sometimes the most loving thing we can do for our precious fur children is to say goodbye.  It’s not giving up – for it takes great strength to know when to let go with love.

Many blessings,

Melissa

Note:  Thankfully Mercury and his parents have the tremendous support and guidance – and best medical care –  of what many of us (myself included!) now refer to as, the veterinary dream team – Dr. Doug Berger at All Creatures and Dr. Kerry Rissetto, canine oncologist at Charleston Veterinary Referral Center.  Sadly I didn’t know these two incredibly dedicated vets when Sophie was diagnosed, but I’m very grateful to have them in my life now!

Tonight is the second meeting of the newly formed spiritual growth book club (facilitated by Rev Deb, www.positivezenergy.com ) – and I can’t wait! We’ve been reading and discussing The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and what started me thinking about the content for today’s blog is the fact that I read this book many years ago. As I re-read it, I keep thinking to myself – “wow, if I’d only retained what I learned when I first read this book, I would be so much further on my spiritual path, and leading a much more balanced life!”

Why is it that we tend to veer off our path and how can we stay the course when life gets crazy? It seems that my life goes in cycles – I get centered, focus on my spiritual growth, practice yoga regularly and do all the things that make me feel balanced and then little by little ‘life’ gets chaotic and before I know it, I’m completely lost and have to fumble through the dark to find my way back ‘home’ again!

I recently came across, ‘The Hymn of the Pearl’, a classic Gnostic myth, which beautifully illustrates the symbolism of pearls in reclaiming our true self and returning to our spiritual center. It is the story of a boy, ‘the son of the king of kings’, who is sent to Egypt to retrieve a pearl from a serpent. During the quest, he is seduced by Egyptians and forgets his origin and his family. However, a letter is sent from the king of kings to remind him of his past. When the boy receives the letter, he remembers his mission and his true identity, allowing him to retrieve the pearl and return ‘home’.

No matter our religious or spiritual beliefs, on some level we all yearn to be our true selves and to be at ‘home’. Like many young girls, my first pair of earrings were pearl studs. I’ve always been drawn to pearls and I tend to instinctually incorporate them into most of my jewelry designs, but never really gave any thought as to why. After discovering The Hymn of the Pearl, I began to really think about their origin and I had one of those light bulb moments – in a burst of understanding, I realized that on some deep unconscious level I was resonating with these small miracles of nature. Beginning as a tiny grain of sand and over time slowly growing into an object of pure beauty, pearls remind us of our own unique power to overcome obstacles, transform our lives and allow our inner beauty to shine keeping us on our true path – in other words following our bliss!

Freshwater Coin Pearl Earrings with Vintage Leaves

Today I’ll be wearing my favorite pearl earrings as I continue the quest to remain on my spiritual path and find my way ‘home’. Wishing you all a beautiful and balanced week!

Blessings,
Melissa