Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Prophetic Miracle Dog - River

Let's just say that uncanny is not appropriate here.

Let's just say that wonders do exist.

Let's just say that animals save lives.

A week after my last blog, my retired therapy dog, River, was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer in her rear left leg. In June, I noticed that she was limping on that leg. And, what do we do when our dogs have a slight limp? We ignore it, of course - hoping that it's muscle soreness from jumping in and out of the car, or a pulled tendon or ligament from running like a banshee on heroin to get the squirrel in the back of the yard. I was waiting for it to heal on its own. Another month went by...then another. I was lazy. I didn't see the signs. Finally, I took her for her annual shots and the vet, an old friend, believed it might be her knee. We put her on some medication and restricted her walks. She also suggested River lose some weight. I put her on a diet and she lost ten pounds in two months. A bit too fast.

When she lost weight, we all noticed the mass on her leg and I took her back to the vet for the third time. This time, we believed it was a benign lypoma. But, cytology could not figure it out. Finally, after radiographs, new pain medication, we are sent to the surgical center here in Richmond to get a CT scan. Everything was clear except that tumor was (as we just found out) soft tissue carcinoma. The doctor whapped me over the head when he said he would have to remove her entire leg, part of her pelvis, and put kevlar mesh in her abdominal wall to build it up. If successful, we could buy her a year, possibly three.

I put my truck up for sale. I'm do what you have to do.

River had three hour surgery on December 14th, 2010. The doctor removed her leg and when he called late that afternoon to tell me she had made it through like a trooper, I burst into tears. My mother had stayed with me all day as I was in a waking coma - hoping, praying, pleading that my sweet dog who I've written two books about would make it through the surgery. She's been there for me for all three of mine, lying next to me, helping me in her sweet, dog ways. Then my mom, bless her heart, had to play a John Denver CD and we he began singing "Sunshine on My Shoulders," Jesus, I thought I would lay down on the floor and snot all over myself.

My girlfriend and I brought her home the next was, I can't help but say, difficult to see such massive, dramatic surgery. Her leg was gone. Completely. I kept yelling at Heather to "slow down!" I was holding on to her in the back and Heather yelled back, "I'm only going five!"

We had to laugh. Cancer affects everyone...but you have to keep the humor.

When I wrote a book called Piper's Someday three years ago...about a three-legged dog who saves a twelve year old's life (and doesn't die), I can barely believe that now, the dog I modeled the books after has lost her leg.

She is still saving my life in the mysterious ways dogs do. They listen. They love. They wag. And, when I had a bleating, nauseating migraine on the Friday night after we brought her home, she hopped all the way from her bed in the living room to my darkened bedroom and she did what she always does.

She laid by my side.

I sent out all kinds of statuses on Facebook and e-mails to friends from all over. I have been whispering the prayers and thoughts to River as I get them and she listens. As I type this blog out, I can't even scoot my chair back because she's behind me, lying on her side, ear up like an elf, her only rear leg out. She's sleeping and breathing.

Peace on Earth she seems to say. Good will toward all. Thank you for the energy of love.

Yesterday, the doctor said he got it all - all of it.

My greatest gift this season is River. She has helped people all over Richmond - children with autism, the people at the Virginia Home who are wheelchair bound, and everyone she touches with her wet nose, her sweet kisses, and her spirit.

There's nothing - nothing like our furry friends! Go home today and watch them more, talk to them more, and listen and notice what they say with their bodies and hearts.

Thanks to my sixteen followers of this blog....thanks to the Facebookers. Thanks to my family for keeping me sane.

The truck sold yesterday. A young couple who needed it. She was toting her young kitten...

Click here to Learn more about Canine Cancer

Monday, November 29, 2010

Meditation - The Voice Inside

Since my body has been through the "I can't believe this is happening to me" mill in the last year. I have recently decided to start meditating to get some answers.  I have always been committed to prayer, like the Lord's Prayer, the Oh My God prayer, Help Me Now prayer, and if you Get Me Out of This One God prayer (the one asking for quick divine intervention so you don't go to know, that one). I typically pray aloud in my truck so no one thinks I'm crazy. Any bipolar who has been to the psychiatric ward knows that you cannot pray aloud close to anyone and remain out of the white coat palace. So, I drive around with my pooch and pray to God. I have prayed all of those prayers and have asked God for the mortgage payment, a lesson on love, and even insight into why all of the crazy crap happens to me.

Ever have crazy crap happen to you?

This past year, I endured incomprehensible pain due to a detached retina (no narcotics...); then I crushed my ankle on December 21st, is still bruised today as I look at it. I have 12 pins in it and the top part of my ankle is bone on bone, so when I walk it feels funny. I had some female surgery that took out a Kiwi sized benign tumor; and now I am getting eye injections of Avastin in my left eye so I won't go blind in it. My right eye is completely compromised.

Alas, I digress. The post here is about meditation. So, here is what I've been doing.

1. Go Slow(ly)
2. Find Joy
3. Stay Grounded (see the previous blog)

I sit in the Archie Bunker chair and close my eyes. I concentrate on just breathing'll read all kinds of ways to breathe. Jesus. Just breathe. Stop holding your breath. I am constantly reminding myself to inhale and exhale during all parts of my day. I've forgotten that breathing is key to living. I've been holding my breath for about 44 years. Now, I'm elated to say, I can do it.

Make sure your feet are flat on the ground and your arms are not crossing your body. They are relaxed next to you with your palms up. You can even do the Hindu way and make the "okay sign" with your hands. I guess it channels energy better that way.

Next, let your mind stay on your breathing. Yes. Remember the hard part. In and out. Then center your body on that and that only. You are going to get a gazillion interruptions, like I need to call my sister. I need to lose 20 pounds. I need to get gas in the car. I wonder if my dog needs to go outside. You know. That tedious stuff that interrupts the meat of life.

Here's the meat. Once you get to your happy place. You can request a simple prayer if you like. I say either out loud or internally things like, "God/Creator/Sacred Woman/Jesus/Buddha/Oprah, will you please give me information on my next phase, my next step?"

Today, here's what I got. need to heal your body (DUH)...breathe. Your body is tired. Your arms and hands are tired from typing and writing books. You need to thank your body and be gentle with it. Thank your heart for all it does. Thank your hands for all they write and do for you...thank the body. It is your one and only TEMPLE...treat it gratefully and with respect.

I found myself rubbing my hands during my meditation. Then I went to my eyes and covered them with my hands and literally thanked them for all they have seen and witnessed; otherwise, there would be no books, no characters, not even this blog. I have them today - my eyes - witness all that you can.

So, find an old chair. A comfy one. Try breathing however feels best to you. Spill out a request or thought and see what happens on the inside. It is your INSIDE voice that will give you all the answers. This I hear.

Loud and clear.

Amen. I mean Awomen.

Love to you all...


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Slow. Joy. Grounded.

How many of you go about your day at lightning speeds? You know who you are. Constantly checking e-mail, facebook, twitter. Texting your friend or family member about where you are and what you are doing. Oh, let's check our bank balance for the third time today. That's a good one. Or, how about just getting up and going to work. It's a hustle to pull the thoughts together after a bad night's sleep on Lunesta or Ambien (quit eating and putting that thong on backwards at three a.m.). You're in the shower, you're figuring out clothes, you're getting the dog out in the yard, fed, and then back in before your blasting a bagel in the, that's too slow...and, cereal, who eats a slow bowl of Cheerios in the a.m. It's Gogurt or a power bar in the car where you race to work and then race to do all the crap they want you to do in a window of eight hours...then it's home to rewind and figure out why there's a bagel on the floor, the *coffee maker is half full (or empty) and there are three pair of shoes on the floor and the bed still unmade from Monday morning. I'm tired just typing about it. Go. Go. Go. It has to become Slow. Slow. Slow. Or just stop for a second.

I'm jobless. And, I find that I'm still behind on all the crap I have to do. You have your list, too. Don't you. Come on.

Yesterday, I decided I would create my own new mantra. Much like Eckhart Tolle. He says we should live our lives with "no inner resistance" and to live in a state of "grace, ease, and lightness." Does Tolle have children? Does Tolle have a blackberry? No he just eats them. Just kidding, Tolle. I love you.

At any rate, here it is. Slow. Joy. Grounded. That is, Go Slow(ly). Find Joy. Stay Grounded. That's my new mantra. So, I went flying to the store with my dog in tow. My sweet shepherd mix named River (she's the Someday in the books I write). Then my mantra came at the first light, symbolic for sure. Slow. Joy. Grounded. Okay, I let go of the accelerator, patted my dog on the head, and listened to my body (that's the grounded part). It said, "You're tired, Ruth. Don't let the cereal aisle at the store make you crazy." Cool, I can do that.

I went to the store to get a bunch of stuff as I found out. My grocery list had six things. I purchased seventy-two items. At the store, I stayed slow and wandered finding the items needed. At the cereal aisle (my nemesis), an old lady yelled at me to help her. She'd dropped coupons all over the floor. I bent down and picked them up. She must have been ninety-two. I wanted to immediately adopt her, drive her home, and help her with her groceries. Slow. Slow. Slow. But, lo, I just picked them up and told her to have a good day. "You, too." She said and smiled gratefully.

At my truck, the lady helped me put the ten bags in the back where River sat patiently waiting. The lady asked to pet her and I said that she was a retired therapy dog. She petted her and then giggled. I giggled at her giggling. What's so funny? I asked River to move forward and the bag lady petted her again and they had a sweet dog/human moment. Then, for some odd reason, this lady from the grocery store began to laugh hysterically at my dog - or, rather, with my dog. Incredible. I laughed, too. River is pretty hysterical and cute.
Joy. Joy. Joy.

I went home and something told me to stay grounded instead of hustling to make the Chili for dinner. I watched a bit of Oprah and saw my favorite. Barbra Streisand. She sang "The Way We Were." I cried as I lay on the couch. I love that movie. I love Oprah. Then, later, I went for a walk with my beautiful girlfriend to smell the leaves, the wind, and to feel the asphalt beneath my leather shoes. Grounded. Grounded. Well, you know the rest.

I'm off to check my e-mail, and to facebook and twitter this to my loyal following. Then I'll do some internet searches on jobs. River and the cat are at my side sleeping.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming. Slow. Joy. Grounded. My new mantra making me feel my life again.


*The best coffee in Richmond.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

California: Paradise in 8 days

If you have never been to California, all I can say is watch that commercial where Betty White is riding a golf cart at the end and BELIEVE her. It is what they say it is and more. I just came back (dragging) last weekend from an eight day whirlwind tour with my girlfriend and am just finding the energy to tap this out and fling it out to all of my eleven respective followers (thanks for reading!).

We started in San Francisco and checked out the Castro where my hero, Harvey Milk, has a Plaza named for him, a restaurant, and other memorabilia all around the district. When I went into a Different Light Bookstore, I saw my buddies Karin Kallmaker, KG MacGregor, and Kenna White showering the shelves. It's always nice to see people you know gracing the bookshelves in a place that's three thousand miles from your home. We ambled along the street looking for food and stumbled upon Harvey Milk's old camera shop where many of us saw Sean Penn do his thing (unless they used a Hollywood set). My girlfriend started snapping and as I stood by the doorway, the threshold where Harvey Milk went over many times in the 1970s, I must say I got a bit ver klempt. I love that man.

After SF, we ended up in Big Sur at the Esalen Institute where we attended a workshop with the renowned energy psychiatrist, Judith Orloff. She's got a lot to say. Read her books. Grow. Share. Help change this sick world of ours. Part of her message...and, I guess, mine. Esalen is paradise if you were wondering where paradise is. Go there. It's worth the time, effort, and money. I got a massage on the cliffs of the Pacific and thought I might float up and away. Thank God for Lithium...I stayed grounded.

Onto Lucia, then the elephant seals...OMG...these guys are hysterical. They snort, fart, spar and are cute at all camera angles.

We got to L.A. on the last leg of the trip and were greeted by my buddy, Norma, who is essential to any California trip. She and her girlfriend, Vicki, took us to two great eateries and to the observatory where you can see L.A. lit up like a "constellation in reverse" as I said with my mouth agape and hair sticking up in the wind. Ten million people, ten million stars, four lanes of traffic.

The Ellen DeGeneres show rocked. We were in the audience for the Portia show...we won the book and a camcorder that is also a projector. My hollywood directorial debut begins now...

At the beach, I picked up a rock and put it in my pocket for luck. My girlfriend found a few, too. Up on the hill of the beach, I spot Meredith Baxter-Birney.

Not bad.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Judith Orloff

Day after tomorrow, my girlfriend and I are leaving to go to Big Sur, California to do a three-day workshop with the renowned energy psychiatrist, Dr. Judith Orloff. My girlfriend turned me onto her writings and I've been hooked ever since. She's a meaty one, that Orloff. In essence, she's the one who termed the words, "energy vampire." You know the people in your family or even some of your friends who can put their sticky invisible suckers on you with their circuitous diatribes on the tornadic activity of their really important lives.

I know, I have been one. I have talked incessantly about why a family member doesn't do what I want them to do. Why can't my brother just show up and help with Grandma's move into assisted living? I mean, Jesus Christ, he's on the golf course every weekend but he can't help with the move. What's he doing on the back nine in that large noodle of his? Where is his awareness? And, my father, what happened to his memory? Should we move him in with grandma, too? Have you ever been around the energy vampire that was drunk and they kept saying the same story over and over. This is an ENERGY vampire! Run. Run, I say...

Orloff also talks about meditating, finding your inner emotional self, and giving the spirit of yourself a break. In fact, she tries, in my opinion to slow everything down a bit and just look at a serene painting, look at that cool tree, or pet your dog.

I'm off to complain about my ills to myself: my enduring weight problem, my bad ankle, my declining vision, my girlfriend's Catholic provinicial mother who can only see herself. At least this way, I won't suck anyone's energy.

I love Judith Orloff. Check out her site:

I've read her book, Positive Energy and am now enjoying the benefits of Emotional Freedom.

So, retract your suckers for a moment and read about who you are and who you don't want to be. She's really helped to change my life.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Joel Burns is a great role model...

I get the Courage Campaign e-mails on a regular basis. And, I usually just peruse them quickly and hit delete. Come on...many of us are like that when you sign up for a gazillion notices on what's happening in the world. Just yesterday, I was drinking coffee, editing my fifth book, and trying, as usual, to find the right word to fit.

I decided to check my e-mail because no words were coming and it was late in the day. I'd looked at the birds, taken the dog for a walk, and viewed the same crap in the fridge for the fifteenth time. Then, another e-mail came in from the Courage Campaign...I scanned, scrolled and saw that there was a video link to Joel Burns. Who's he? I thought. I almost hit delete, but then something told me to take a second and read a bit more. Then I saw it was twelve minutes long. Twelve minutes! That's way too long.

No, it's not.

Just give it a whirl.

Bless you!


Friday, October 8, 2010

Where is God when you need Him/Her/It?

Trust me. It's been one of those years when I thought God was hiding under my bed afraid to come out even when I shouted the loudest of bids, the loudest of prayers. Ever had one of those years when you were sure God was out laughing about with Hollywood celebrities and standing behind one of the judges at Dancing with the Stars? Perhaps She/He/It was kanoodling with Christine O'donnell about wiccanery and spinning a new dervish at round three of Alaskan shenanigans where Todd, Sarah, and their child prodigies are the stars of the biggest farce in history. Ever wonder? I do.

This year, I had a detached retina and had to wake up each day to the Today Show spinning about what new child was abducted, the terrible economic debacle that never ends, and what terrible devastation was hitting Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq...not to mention what wuz up wif Lindsay and her middle finger. I prayed for world peace and ate ice cream and held my eye so it wouldn't move. Then last December, I slipped on ice going to work and my entire Tibia (the big bone down there) came out. I underwent surgery; twelve pins and a plate later, I brought in the new year with Morning Joe and ice and more prayers. The news by then had dulled my senses...more killings, more abuse to sell, sell, sell the media. Oi vay.

I prayed some more. In May I had female surgery to remove a benign tumor and to get general housecleaning "down there." The oil crisis kept me company and I kept peaking under my bed to see if God would come out to help. I mean, really, couldn't He/She/It see what was happening. Doesn't God have a flat screen?

Now I get eye injections so my left eye can heal from several Fuchs Spots that are making it impossible to see. I pray more. But now, I realize why I may be going blind. Television. Internet. Blah. Blah. Blah. I'm going outside to listen to the birds...I think they're called that, right?...and to listen for the's wind, right? Perhaps say an Om and see if it catches the signal of some satellite nearby.

God? You there?