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Monthly Archives: November 2015

A lesson in Human-ness

Every year, the Sun-Tues before Thanksgiving, my family goes to volunteer at a food bank hosted by a local church. We do not attend church, but we began going there 9 years ago as a community service project of our 4-H group. Though we are no longer with this 4-H club, we still go as a family, one day my husband takes the kids (on his only day off), and I take them the other days.

Every year, just like this morning. I drag myself out of bed and consider if “I really have to go…or can I just drop you off?”. I know, it sounds terrible, but it is the truth.

Yet, every year when I am done with this 5 hours shift, my heart is full and I am grateful that I went.  The people who host this food bank are above kind, they treat everyone that comes with such kindness & dignity, I am honored to be part of this.

It is the people that I meet, the people who are so thankful & interesting. The stories I hear touch my heart, and sometimes bring tears to my eyes. I get hugs, and am blessed several times a day.

Today I worked as a personal shopper in the boutique. This is where people can browse for warm coats and clothes. This morning, it actually cooled off and began to rain, so people came looking for warm covers. A few hours in an elderly couple handed me their slip. As I escorted them in and explained our procedure, they were speaking a foreign language, but I could not pinpoint it. When I asked the man, who was very well dressed, he said: “I am from Iraq.”
Me: “How long  have you been here?”
“One year and 3 weeks.”
He looks at me, and says:”We had to flee Iraq. I am a doctor….” and with that he began telling me his family’s story. One day, “they” broke into his house and almost beat his wife (who was standing next to me) to death. A neighbor heard her screams and intervened while they called him to come home. The intruders eventually left. He said they packed their things and left 48 hours later. Forever.
“I had to leave everything. My clinic, my equipment, my EKG machine…just everything. Our house & belongings, car…”

I could see the tears well up in his eyes. Then  he began telling me of his sons. One went to Australia as a refugee, and was studying there. The rest of the family applied for Australia, but was not accepted. He told me how he could not work here in the U.S., since his credentials do not count, and he would have to get his licenses, etc. I could see how all this pained him.

I looked at him and began telling him a bit of my story. My grandparents came to the U.S. as refugees, from an area called Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, a piece of country that has swayed between Poland, Russia, and Germany over its existance.  They too had to leave their possessions, properties, etc, to be seized by the government. But they survived here, and built a very comfortable life in L.A.

Everything I had on credentials and expertise was pretty much useless when I moved here. All those years of schooling, all those diplomas & certificates, were nothing but mere pieces of paper. I started working for $5 something an hour….

There were many more stories today,  but I wanted to share this one. I wanted to put a human behind “those refugees” you are hearing about every day. My family were refugees.

Please do not let the extremists kill the one thing they do not have, and want to attack: Our human kindness & compassion.

Death sucks

Death sucks.

Death means something is taken away, and you can never get it back. Physically, anyways. My saving grace in dealing with death is that I still get to “feel” my loved ones periodically. Not on my schedule, of course.

It has been three weeks since my dog, and spirit animal, Rex was mysteriously and quickly taken from me. He was not ill, or old (he was 9), and this happened in a matter of hours. It left a huge hole in my heart. It also left a huge empty space in our house (he was well over 100lbs) and our everyday lives. I was just looking for some pictures of furniture we are selling and came across the many pictures of Rex I took. He was a gorgeous animal, with so much spirit in his eyes. It just takes someone mentioning him, or me seeing pictures, and the tear gate is open. It still makes me so sad.

With that said, I did not want another dog right away. My kids, who feel this loss as much as I do, just in a different way, did. My daughter is in Europe now, the child was not able to say good-bye to her dog. She said she knew, and is dealing with it in her own, almost grown up way. My son was so sad, Rex took his last breaths in our arms.

I tried to cope by donating our food, etc to a Shepard Rescue. The first time I went on there to get their contact info, I saw Valor. A few  minutes later, my daughter sends me a picture of: Valor.  We were all drawn to him.  After a week, my son and I decided to go meet him at his foster home. He sent his sister pictures and videos, they already knew he was ours.

The next day, Valor was brought to our house.

He came with a packet of undisclosed medical history, as well as “I was just informed that the vomits every time he eats so they gave him Pepcid”. No wonder he looked so skinny to me.

To make a long story short, to chagrin of my husband, we kept him…on a two to three week trial. It may sound harsh, but I was not in the emotional, or financial position to take on a sick dog.

I immediately put him on what I felt was the right diet for him, which included quality food without grain, coconut oil, probiotics, and tuna fish. I threw the Pepcid in the trash.  He has not thrown up once.

The first day was hard, but when I woke up to licks on the second morning, I knew we made the right choice.  He is the sweetest dog. Even though he has had major surgery, and was mauled by another dog (that is why he is so scarred and his ears are serrated), and all this other stuff, he is strangely balanced. Don’t get me wrong, start running outside, and you get a two year old wild shepherd. He balances out my son’s wild energy by matching it with his own. He checks in with me periodically, and jumps into my lap when he feels me being sad. Every once in a while, he sneaks into my daugther’s bed, waiting for her to come home.

Our dogs have always come to us for certain reasons, every one has left a mark and taught us something.

Valor has come to heal, and to heal our hearts.

P.S. Please look into a shelter or rescue if you are looking for a dog! The Shepherd Rescues have so many great dogs, 2-3 years old. That is when the cute little puppy turns into a beligerent teen who needs a strong Alpha to guide them. Just like humans. If you get a puppy, please choose your breed wisely.