Bear

Bear

Guest Author – Jonna Rae Bartges is a creative catalyst, published author, college lecturer, business consultant and Emmy and Addy award-winning producer. When she is not writing as an ordained minister Jonna Rae strives to unite science and spirituality.


I’m not a dog person – I’ve always been more of the feline persuasion. So it was with more than a bit of trepidation back in February 2006 that I volunteered to foster a beat-up rescued old black lab “for a few nights, until we find him a home.”

Bear, as the elderly gent wanted to be known, immediately wrapped me around his paw, and patiently waited for me to figure out that he WAS home. The vet estimated his age as around 8 or 9, and said the dog had endured a tough life. From the moment he entered my world, Bear was my teacher, protector, guide and rock.

On a trip to Petsmart one time, a young woman confined to a wheelchair saw us come walking in, and her face lit up. Although she couldn’t speak, it was obvious she wanted to connect with Bear. My gentle giant walked up to her and rested his head on her knee. The woman shrieked in glee, and tried to pat his ebony forehead. Complete lack of muscular control turned her pats into rather hard strikes, but Bear didn’t budge – he just shut his eyes and let her hit him. Her joy brought tears to everyone watching the moving scene.

Bear usually rushed up to other dogs to lick their faces and socialize, until a particular time he stopped in his tracks when we encountered a woman with a Golden Retriever. Bear didn’t move a muscle, and the Golden walked over to him, sniffed him nose to tail, then licked his face. That was Bear’s signal to enthusiastically greet the other dog. Her owner was amazed, and said, “That’s the first time Goldie has let another dog near her since she went blind!” Bear KNEW. Gandhi Dog for sure.

Despite his huge appetite for life…and anything vaguely smelling edible…Bear was starting to slow down. A lab’s average lifespan is 12 years, and my guy was approaching 15. It was as if Bear knew I was going to need him with me through the soul-searing challenges of 2011 – a disastrous relationship, my father’s death, my mother’s terminal illness.

Bear’s hips periodically gave out on walks, and severe arthritis crippled his front legs. On occasion I’d have to lift him up stairs, or even into a standing position – no small feat with an 85-pound puppy.

In September he stopped eating for several days. When I lifted him up and took him outside to relieve himself, Bear would furiously dig “nests” under shrubs and painfully ease himself down into them. My vet said Bear was letting me know he was ready to go. Miraculously, he held in there for three more months, but by mid-December, there was no denying it was his time.

At the vet’s office, a dear friend held me while I held Bear. My beautiful boy gave a contented sigh, then gently entered into his final sleep. I sobbed all the way home, and went into the living room to pray. Suddenly I stopped crying to listen – I distinctly heard the jingle of his collar coming down the hallway towards me. I jumped up and ran to look. Of course, there was “nothing” there – but I was thrilled at this contact. Bear wasn’t done connecting just yet.

I turned to walk into the kitchen, and out of the corner of my eye I noticed something different on the refrigerator door. My fridge is my “art gallery,” with strands of magnetized beads holding up an ever changing array of cards and pictures. A beautiful sympathy card a friend sent when my little brother died a few years ago had a strand of beads circling the Native American proverb on the front: “They are not gone who live in our hearts.” Those beads had NOT been like that earlier that morning!

May your New Year be filled with the joy of knowing that love is forever, there are no barriers between realms, and nothing is too wonderful to be true.

horses

The Gift of the Animal Human Bond

I am honored to have this moving blog post by Laura Hickman. Be sure to have some kleenex close by as she opens a door and invites you in to her childhood. A childhood filled with some very painful memories, and how an abandoned horse galloped through Laura’s life, giving her confidence, courage, and passion – Laura Hickman lives in Linden, VA and is a home school mom of 4 children, aged 6-12. She is an aspiring Equine Specialist and hopes to have her own farm in the near future.

Laura and Poppins

I loved my Dad.  We did a lot together while my mom studied to become a nurse.  He would pick me up from childcare, make my special bread so I wouldn’t be embarrassed at school (I had severe allergies), and take me fishing.  We’d watch TV together while I put lotion on his forearms where the Marine Corp tattoos had been removed.  We even had a stash of Pringles secreted away under the front seat of his VW Bug.  We were inseparable!

Unfortunately, by the time I was 7, my parents were battling their way through a not-so-nice divorce when my father, instead of taking me to school as planned, kidnapped me.  His hope was that my mother would become so distraught that she would commit suicide.  The only details I remember of the days I was in hiding are the fact that I had a stuffed Snoopy toy, and that my mother swooped in to rescue me as I was making mud pies in the backyard.  It was then that fear entered my heart.  Fear of being left, and fear of being kidnapped again.

Six years later, in 1983, my mom remarried.  We moved to a new house and I, to a new school.  Moving and attending a new school were positive experiences for me, having a step-father was not.

My step-father was a very bright man who had escaped from Hungary, a country behind the Iron Curtain, with nothing but a sandwich in his pocket and the clothes on his back.  Within 10 months of arriving in the United States, he had learned enough English at Georgetown University to be accepted into an Engineering program at the University of Wisconsin.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before it became apparent that he was dealing with severe psychological issues which he was no longer able to suppress successfully.  In 1986, he was diagnosed with depression, and Paranoid Schizophrenia, shortly before taking his own life.  His bursts of anger and the yelling that ensued were frightening.  I didn’t want to be at home, yet I felt that I needed to be home to protect my mom.  His anger was not limited to yelling – on separate occasions he pinned my mom on the floor, threw a drink at her, and disconnected the garage door openers so we couldn’t get in the house.  Another time, he accused me of slamming a door in his face.  In my minds’ eye I can still see him entering his room when I slammed the door, but that didn’t prevent him from breaking down the door and striking me across the face.  He refused to repair the shattered door frame for several months, wanting me to remember my offense, and the subsequent punishment.

It was during this time that Poppins came into my life.  She was a 26-year-old mare that had been abandoned by an owner that could no longer afford to keep her.  She had been fed, but not much else.  Each night was spent in a tiny standing stall with so much manure that she was forced to stand facing downhill.  Despite her discomfort from severe thrush and an unseasonably long coat, she was a gentle teacher who never lost her patience with my ignorance.  She gave me so much more than riding lessons.  Her gifts to me were confidence, courage, and passion.  And she had the best ear of any counselor.   I could pour out my heart to her without fear of what she thought, or that she would report back to my mom.  She wouldn’t leave me and she loved me despite all she knew about me.

Helen Thompson once said, “In riding a horse, we borrow freedom.”  There could not be a truer statement for me.  Riding was my avenue of escape and healing.  It gave me confidence, and made me feel strong, both mentally and physically.

Without Poppins, and the horses that galloped through my life after her, I would not be the person I am today.  There is not a doubt in my mind that horses kept me from the drugs, crime and promiscuity that snare so many others with similar experiences.

Poppins is the very definition of a hero!  She selflessly carried me and shared her friendship, happy only in my companionship and attention, and all despite her pain.  I didn’t know it then, but as my horse knowledge has increased, I see now that she probably suffered from Cushing’s and Chronic Laminitis.

I’ve always known that I loved Poppins, but I never realized until writing this blog just how deep her impact really was.  It has taken me several months to finish these few paragraphs…I had to stop and grieve my loss of her.  I found out this year that the owner of the barn had offered to sell her to my mom and step dad for $100, but they turned her down.  Instead, she went to a girl who thought it was a good idea to call me and brag that Poppins was no longer my friend, but hers.  I have never forgotten that call.

That call was the last I ever heard about Poppins.  I don’t know how much longer she lived, or where they might have buried her.  I wish I could kiss her sweet muzzle just one more time…

kelly teaching

Gratitude and Praise to Teachers – Revisited

As another school year comes to an end, I would like to take a moment to give Praise and Gratitude to all the Teachers that nurtured, guided and provided tough love to our children throughout the past school year.

Our Gratitude is especially important this year as many states education systems are faced with massive funding shortages and one of our nations most precious resources – our teachers – come face to face with job loss, over crowed classrooms, and dwindling resources. Our teachers deserve better and each person CAN make a difference by telling our teachers “Thank you for give of yourself to my child”

I first posted this article at the beginning of the 2010 school year and of all my blog post it has consistently receives hit after hit, so I though it appropriate to re-post it at the close of this school year. And to encourage every person to make a special effort to be sure to say Thank You to our teachers.

All of us know first hand the impact teachers had on us growing up, but few of us know the loving sacrifice teachers freely make daily.

For the past five years, I have had the honor of a “backstage pass” into the real lives of teachers because I’ve watched my daughter, Kelly, serve as an elementary school teacher. Through her experience, I have personally witnessed the joys teaching has brought to her and I also understand the stressful challenges she has to balance in her life.

When I began writing this, I was instantly taken back to the year Kelly’s class had five special needs students she lovingly called “her boys.” When you entered Kelly’s classroom that year, you not only saw and heard 20+ students clamoring for attention, seeking answers to questions and desiring guidance – all of which every teacher faces daily – you also got a glimpse into the very different world of Autism as it walked hand-in-hand with a mainstream classroom. Kelly soon found herself performing a daily dance that combined the needs of her regular students with the poor communication skills, poor social awareness and challenging behavioral characteristics of Autism. The tapestry woven between teacher and students was amazing – but it came at the price of stressful days, emotional exhaustion and tremendous fatigue . . . A price I know Kelly would lovingly pay again.

Objectively, teaching has got to be one of the top 5 most stressful careers in the world.

So many teachers are at school early and stay late, they correct papers and plan instruction on evenings and weekends — working hard to meet the educational needs of students, some of whom struggle to make progress despite the stress of life. Teachers also buy materials with money from their own pockets and volunteer their time to attend school carnivals and sporting events while also attending workshops and training to continually develop their own skills. I assure you they don’t do all this for the money.

They do it because they care about your child.

As another school year comes to an end, now is an appropriate time to remind everyone to continuously thank the effective and dedicated teachers in our schools.

Yes, teachers make all the difference.

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about her counseling practice, you can contact her at: Kay@KayTrotter.com214-499-0396, or visit her web site http://www.KayTrotter.com.

Dr Trotter also post regularly in her FaceBook fan page http://www.facebook.com/DrKaySudekumTrotter.

David Crenshaw

The Song in the Hearts of “Charismatic Adults”

A Tribute to Charismatic Adults in the Lives of Children

Narrative by Dr. David A. Crenshaw, PhD • Music by Micheal Castaldo

If you are a parent, teacher, grandparent, therapist, school counselor, child care worker, coach, minister, who has had a hard day then this video is dedicated to you!

 A “charismatic adult” is one from whom a child or adolescent gathers strength

Guest Blogger—Dr. David A. Crenshaw, is a highly credentialed and respected clinical psychologist who for more than 30 years has dedicated his career, Center, books, videotape, projective techniques, and leadership to helping defiant, oppositional, aggressive children.

Narrative by David A. Crenshaw, Ph.D., ABPP
http://www.childtherapytechniques.com
Music by Micheal Castaldo
http://www.michealCASTALDO.com

tamberly

Gratitude and Praise to Teachers

As everyone heads back to school, I would like to take a moment to give Praise and Gratitude to all the Teachers that parents have entrusted to care for their most precious children.

All of us know first hand the impact teachers had on us growing up, but few of us know the loving sacrifice teachers freely make on a daily basis.

For the past four years, I have had the honor of a “backstage pass” into the real lives of teachers because I’ve watched my daughter, Kelly, serve as an elementary school teacher. Through her experience, I have personally witnessed the joys teaching has brought to her and I also understand the stressful challenges she has to balance in her life.

When I began writing this, I was instantly taken back to the year Kelly’s class had five special needs students she lovingly called “her boys.” When you entered Kelly’s classroom that year, you not only saw and heard 20+ students clamoring for attention, seeking answers to questions and desiring guidance – all of which every teacher faces daily – you also got a glimpse into the very different world of Autism as it walked hand-in-hand with a mainstream classroom. Kelly soon found herself performing a daily dance that combined the needs of her regular students with the poor communication skills, social awareness and behavioral characteristics of Autism. The tapestry woven between teacher and students was amazing – but it came at the price of stressful days, emotional exhaustion and tremendous fatigue . . . A price I know Kelly would lovingly pay again. Objectively, teaching has got to be one of the top 5 most stressful careers in the world.

Comedian Bill Cosby knows the importance of teachers and, in fact, attributes his own phenomenal success to a teacher. As a sixth-grade student in Philadelphia, he was inspired by his teacher, Mary Forchic, to follow his dreams of becoming an entertainer. Recognizing his natural storytelling abilities, she suggested “you should become either a lawyer or an actor because you lie so well.” Forchic has remained one of Cosby’s lifelong friends and Cosby has devoted a great deal of his time to ensure that all children have the opportunity to benefit from teachers like Forchic.  We could all follow Cosby’s lead and express our gratitude for the enormous contributions that dedicated teachers make to our childrens’ lives and to our community.

So many teachers are at school early and stay late, they correct papers and plan instruction on evenings and weekends — working hard to meet the educational needs of students, some of whom struggle to make progress despite the stress of life. Teachers also buy materials with money from their own pockets and volunteer their time to attend school carnivals and sporting events while also attending workshops and training to continually develop their own skills. I assure you they don’t do all this for the money.

They do it because they care about your child.

As another school year gets underway, now is an appropriate time to remind everyone to continuously thank the effective and dedicated teachers in our schools.

Yes, teachers make all the difference.

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about her counseling practice, you can contact her at: Kay@KayTrotter.com214-499-0396, or visit her web site http://www.KayTrotter.com.

Dr Trotter also post regularly in her FaceBook fan page http://www.facebook.com/DrKaySudekumTrotter.