Thursday, October 22, 2015


My Dear Son:

If your friend say, shop lifts, and asks you not to tell anyone, do you honor his request because you know how bad it feels to get caught? The Golden Rule at first appears to contradict itself in this situation.

And while your friend may have become quite comfortable with shoplifting and pickpocketing, you wouldn't dream of taking something you didn't buy. How then, is your friend you in disguise? What do you have in common with him? You are not about to shop lift, are you?

As your friend in disguise, you may be able to understand some of the motivation behind his shop lifting. It's the latest, greatest video game you've been watching ads about for months. You may also relate to him having to spend a large part of his allowance to repair his gaming device, which for him was an unforeseen disaster. So there are elements of his choices where you can identify with him. Seeking to understand your friend's behavior is important, but, as I've experienced, understanding isn't the final application of The Golden Rule. More to come!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


My Dear Son:

Rules or laws about how we treat other people, as you will learn, are necessary in society for maintaining order, and, inevitably, peace. When I say The Golden Rule misses a lot of groundwork in between, I am not saying it is a faulty or insignificant rule. On the contrary, it is most significant of all. The Golden Rule, however, sometimes appears not to provide the answer to the complexity and variety of relationships you will have.

But, as I believe you will see with many apparently simple statements, you'll have to dig deeper for the ultimate meaning. The Golden Rule was intended to widen the circle, to make you and me think in larger terms, far beyond any one circumstance, person, or event. To walk a mile in someone's moccasins is a similar idea, but one that challenges you to join in order to more fully understand.

There are some situations where you may not want to put those moccasins on (for your own self-preservation) but you may choose to understand certain elements or ideas about those moccasins from a distance. I think I have an example you'll understand, but let's save that one for tomorrow. Love always!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Golden Rule

My Dear Son:

As far as friendship goes, I also pulled out The Golden Rule, directing you to share your toys in the name of treating others like you would like to be treated. At the time, this seemed to be the most obvious rule or basic idea I could communicate in teaching you how to be a friend. You look out for the other guy's feelings, sometimes even at the expense of your own self-centered wishes.

The other half of the Golden Rule is what goes around comes around.

The idea being, that, if you continue to behave in such a manner, whether cruel or kind, the behavior you employ will boomerang back to meet you head-on. A repeated courtesy or offense will inevitably meet its match, because behavior always reaps consequences.
The Golden Rule as applied above, however, is missing a lot of groundwork in between. Certainly, it's a good start, and, in the course of daily living, an ever-present reminder to live less selfishly.

But why should you need a reminder to be kind to someone you are calling a friend? It seems to me that a genuine friendship needs no rule in the first place, for it maintains its inherent and understood honor, trust, loyalty, and respect from the very beginning.

There's more on friendship, but for now, I would suggest that The Golden Rule might be reworded: Do unto others as they are you in disguise.

Monday, October 19, 2015


My Dear Son:

As I said, not all milestones are sad. The happy journeys we have as children, we long to repeat for our children. Then as parents, we come to realize that our children are not always carbon copies of ourselves. They will inevitably find their own milestones, their own passages through life. These are defining moments that really can't be repeated, anyway.

Technological advancements alone have shaped your generation and mine with milestones that wouldn't exist apart from the technology, for example. So, if anything, while we understand and share those joys and disappointments, we each find our own unique experiences around them. We each face our own milestones.

My dad told me when I was much older about one of his first great disappointments. His grandfather had prepared a stall and promised him a pony, and as it turned out, in his opting to bid low and wait, came home with no pony. I could only imagine the little boy's sagging shoulders when he saw his grandfather arriving home empty-handed. And somehow, his grandfather never got around to getting him a pony after that.

My grandfather, on the other hand, showered me with ponies and later, horses. My dad watched, I think, with some satisfaction that that disappointment had not been repeated. And, I did the same with you with your pony Blaze. Certain milestones make their indelible marks on us, ones that we don't want our children to face. And sometimes, by sharing what our children have that we could not, this shaves away the rough edges of our own disappointments. It's almost an element of correcting something gone wrong in the world, and the satisfaction of seeing the joy that blooms out of it when errors even long past are reversed.

As you grow older, you will begin to understand that a big part of feeling disappointed is when your expectations are not met. Mostly now, yours revolve around something you'd like to do but can't, like going swimming during a thunderstorm. I think you will begin to see over time that life will meet you with less disappointments when you cherish no expectations. This is yet another subject, for another letter. So, I think it helps as you make your own milestones to always remember that you are loved.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


My Dear Son:

I'd like to talk to you a little about milestones, or defining moments. These are events in our lives that somehow become burned in our memories more vividly than others. Milestones were originally rocks set up beside roads to mark distances. 

Later we came to understand them emotionally as actions or events that marked beginnings and endings in our lives. At one time, we believed these events remained in our memories over all the rest because they were more dramatic or traumatic. Now we know that isn't necessarily always true.

Milestones or defining moments don't have to be sad or tragic events. They can be remembered as extremely happy or satisfying ones, as well. Sometimes milestones occur when we are taken out of our context, or out of our daily routines such as going on vacation, like the one you recently took with Dad to Virginia. 

As you recall, what began as a very upsetting and unsettling set of circumstances at the airport turned out to be a very memorable trip, as you and Dad weathered the bad times and persisted to find the good moments.

I think you will find much of life can be this way. Sometimes we just wake up and know the day isn't going to be our best one. We inch our way along, feeling good about some of it, perhaps not so good about the rest. We do some things we really want to do, and then we have to perform some daily tasks we really don't like that much. Many of us push through the more difficult times to arrive at the ones we really enjoy.

It rips at my heartstrings to see a child sob with disappointment, and you! It is almost more than I can bear. So the times I have witnessed this, or even simply heard about it from your dad, is almost my undoing. Perhaps these moments ring too close to home with my own disappointments, or, simply remind me of how powerless I am to correct those errors that brought the disappointments in the first place. If there were anything I could offer to eliminate those disappointments altogether, I would capture the moon for you, you can rest assured.

As much as I would enjoy having such power, and given I probably won't obtain it, I will pass on some of my own ideas about milestones. Milestones, as I said, are defining moments. They catch you in the time frame, sort of like taking a photo, of where you are at the moment. They are, in fact, all about where you are. 

If you could pluck yourself up from the milestone you're facing now and set yourself twenty years forward, you might find yourself even laughing at how important it seemed to you then. Or, you might find that it had shaped and sharpened you into the personality you are twenty years later. Either way, milestones become all about marking who you are.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


My Dear Son:

It’s been over a year since I wrote you last, which tells me it’s been a busy year. I’m really glad things are finally changing, though, so I can spend more time with you again.

Although I’ve gotten great satisfaction from being able to help Dad earn money, I’ve also felt very burned-out lately, too.

Burnout is a unique emotional and physical condition. As you’ve probably heard about it while gaming, it’s particularly common in battlefield environments.

You will probably encounter burnout at least once in your lifetime. Different people react different ways, but the most common feature of burnout is beginning to hate something you once loved. It becomes hard to separate out where things went wrong, but usually the difficulty begins with too many hours at the task and being unable to leave the task mentally behind when you walk away from it. There’s also usually some time period of urgency or deadline involved, say, like managing a new business trying to make a profit in its early years, or a test coming up.

Sometimes burnout happens to college students in their third or fourth year of college. They’re pushing hard to pass exams, missing sleep, and trying to play varsity sports. Suddenly they realize they’re staying sick a lot, and they’re not really sure they even want to finish their degree.

These are only a few examples. Many of us go through some short periods of burnout in our lifetimes, get a few days rest, and feel good as new. Usually it's more about how we feel emotionally about what we're doing that makes us feel so tired.

It goes without saying that there are many seminars and help centers devoted to burnout alone. Some of the key features in recovering from burnout are: the ability to delegate tasks to others, the willingness to accept that others will take responsibility, and the ability to say “no.”

I had a client several years ago who followed a very simple message, but one so completely full of guidance, I still think about it today. It said: “Do something different every day.”

I think you will see as you grow older that people thrive on a fine mixture of routine and adventure. Routine, the same grind, the beaten path all run the risk of boring us to death while offering sameness, which for the most part, gives us a feeling of security. Adventure and the unknown have a way of setting us on guard, on edge, just enough to break through the tedium of day-to-day routine. Some people need more of one and less of the other. We all, I think, differ only by degrees here.

I only talk about this with you now, because, at some time or another, you'll encounter burnout. It very often happens to people who are passionate about what they do, based upon the idea that more means better or more perfect or some other nonsense. I'm here to tell you, the ability to walk away from a passion is very often your best friend. If I were to make it into a motto, I would say, “Live richly. Love deeply. Coffee break frequently.”

Friday, October 16, 2015


My Dear Son:

Here's a little bit more about Balanced Order, or Balance:

* Having things in balanced order and being able to quickly find things saves you time, and gives you more time to do things you enjoy.

* Having things in balanced order makes you healthier. It is a proven fact that people manifest or show their sadness or depression by things left undone and out of order (mayhem) or too much order (obsessive order).

* Having things in balanced order makes you more money. Keeping up with bills and money that is rightfully yours, rightfully earned, is a big part of taking care of yourself.

* Having things in balanced order could save your life. For example, hoarders are at great risk for fire by stockpiling inflammable objects alongside objects that ignite, like acetone, gasoline, etc.

* Having things in balanced order is kinder and safer. Presenting an eyesore to your friends or family, having them stumble over objects you've mislaid, is not a kind thing to do.

* Having things in balanced order sends out a molecular code to the universe that attracts more of the same. If you want things to continually go wrong in your life, then make no attempt to put things in order. The consequences will then continue to send disorder and mayhem your way. Life always copies what you've already created.

* It's been long held in various lore that angels are messengers about direction or order. Fairies are forms of lower angels that thrive on mischief and misplacing objects. Angels help people find things, while fairies help people lose things. It's also possible that angels are deliverers of emotions, which, if you notice, take on the nature of how things are playing out in the order or the disorder of the moment.

Now, you have the opportunity to put balanced order into practice and clean up your room :)

Thursday, October 15, 2015


My Dear Son:

There's an old saying, "A neat desk comes with a sick mind." It's actually a joke, but it piggy-backs on a truth: if a person spends so much time arranging and rearranging things so that it interferes with completing other simple tasks, or in other words, a person is so focused on neatness, nothing else matters, then that is out of balance. We call it obsessive.

The polar opposite, or mayhem, can be equally as destructive.

There is a place for order, and many good reasons, for us to put order into our lives, the kind of order that is balanced between obsession and mayhem.

So from the extremes to somewhere in the middle looks like this:

Balanced Order
Obsessive Order

It's a safer, happier place to stay somewhere in the middle around Balanced Order, or Balance.

I will give you some reasons next post, but remember, the reasons that really stay with you are the ones that, by living them, become self-evident.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


My Dear Son:

Another subject I talk to you about late in the night is about friendships. I think it's safe to say that for the most part, it's nearly every mother's worry that her son or daughter find good friendships, and know the difference between a true friend and an acquaintance. You will meet many acquaintances in life. Those are the people that, for one reason or the other, destiny has you meet. 

You may never see them again! Or you may see them regularly, but not really have much in common. Or, those people may live their lives so differently and do things that you don't really like, or that you believe is harmful. So, I've learned you just trust that there's a reason you met them, but you don't have to feel obligated to do anything more if destiny seems to pull you away.
Then there are those people who are true friends. It doesn't mean you'll always agree on everything, and you may even occasionally have a fight. But it does mean that this person would never do anything to intentionally harm you. This person might even like you first for your toys or your things, but somewhere along the line it goes deeper than that. They also enjoy your personality, they have certain things in common with you, and they understand you. They enjoy being around you, and you, around them. No matter how bad things seem, they're there to cheer you up. When the chips are down, when it seems that you couldn't have made a bigger mistake, they choose to forgive you and remain by your side.

Then there's that part of you that has to be a friend, also. To have a friend you have to be a friend, and treat your friends as you want to be treated.

There's a lot more about friendship, but I'll save that for another letter.

Just know that I love you, and that's what these letters are all about. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


My Dear Son:

Here's another thing: I've been meaning to say this for a long time. I think it's sad, and it occurs to me every time someone or something dies, that we often don't express to each other how very important we are to each other.

In other words, we often run our separate ways doing our adult things and our kid things, and we don't really communicate how we feel.

I want you to understand that, as adults, we don't really plan on being so busy that we ignore our children. I think about all the things I've done while you've been growing up, things that pulled me away from spending an extra few minutes playing a video game with you, or the times I've said, "We'll do that later..."

Now, this is a hard one to explain. It really is something you probably won't understand until you're an adult yourself. As adults, we often forget what it's like to be a kid, or what it's like to want to play. We get very busy doing our adult things, like trying to run our businesses or study for our licenses or cook dinner or whatever.

Of course, that stuff's important. But what I want you to realize is, especially if you feel ignored by us, that's not what we want you to feel. You are always much more important to us than that other stuff. You are always much more valuable to us than that other stuff. If we act like it's the other way around, then shame on us. You have to remember that while we are here on this earth in bodies, we sometimes limit ourselves in the way we think and act. We believe certain things about ourselves, only to find out later that those things were incorrect or limiting.

So we make mistakes, even as adults. And one of those mistakes is believing we don't have enough time to play anymore.

And of course, there's nothing wrong with each of us having different things we enjoy doing, and going our separate ways at times. I just want you to understand that, if I appear to ignore you, it's because at that moment, I'm probably feeling very challenged by the task I have before me. I haven't forgotten about you, nor will I ever forget about you! You are an unforgettable soul. 

Monday, October 12, 2015


My Dear Son:

Then there are times when school is just boring. Or the subject, like math, is just hard or boring. We all feel that way about some things, somewhere, sometimes. But I can say this: we have no idea how anything might come up later in life, or how important or unimportant it might become. So, I think it's a good idea to pay attention to everything.

It's sort of like trusting the universe, that destiny has placed this lesson in front of you, and there's a purpose for it showing up. So you go ahead and study it, learn it, and believe that if you weren't supposed to learn it, it would've never come your way.

And that even goes for math!

Sunday, October 11, 2015


My Dear Son:

I had an idea this morning when I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep. Sometimes when I do that, I come sit by you while you sleep and talk to you with my mind. It's been called several things, but this is how I describe it: there have been times we've been driving along, and I'm thinking about something that happened that day, and you'll make a comment about it. When you were little I used to think about nursery rhymes, and you would start singing the tunes out loud!

So, that said, it occurred to me that, you might enjoy some letters, and on those mornings when I sometimes can't sleep, that would be the time to write them. Now lately, I've been sending you messages about how much I love you and how very proud of you I am. You're teaching yourself, and that's a big part of learning. There's nothing wrong with that, and you will find as you get older, that is actually what we all do, is teach ourselves. Sure, you will have certified teachers and instructors who direct you, and teach you, but in the end, it's really up to you to decide how much you will learn, and what you will learn, and how you will use it.

I've been sending you lots of messages about how capable you are, because you are! When I give you lectures or those disappointed looks, it's because I fully understand how trying learning can be at times. I frankly hated school myself! But as I got older, when school was no longer required, I really began to enjoy learning. There are really so many things to explore in life. So I think it helps to imagine that you are going on an exploration every day instead of just going to school. You can even imagine you are blasting off on Starship Voyager to look at a new galaxy!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Clarification of Cycles

My Dear Son:

With our responsibilities and efforts in school this year, I decided to allow myself some time away from the keyboard, or the day-to-day manufacture of these words. It's taken me awhile, but I've learned from living life that sometimes I have to place boundaries around my expectations;that I cannot go full-fledged in multiple directions and perform them all well. At the same time, I realize that at least five letters from last summer promised “more to come” without delivery.

This was two-fold in purpose. I knew keeping the material short was essential, particularly due to its content. And, very few of us are inspired when we become bored. The shorter letters also gave me some breathing room of my own, allowing me to take this huge project and focus it down to one brick at a time.

Nonetheless I left you hanging onto Peace, Introspection, Blindsided, Predicting, and Cycles, promising at the end of each to deliver more than I did. The others where I promised more, I believe I followed through in the next letter.

Part of my reasoning in not immediately answering the questions posed in these letters was because of the extensive nature of the material itself. How can we, for instance, truly know if peace can be disseminated to the collective through the demonstrations of one peaceful soul?

For clarity's sake I will answer them in order, starting with Cycles.

We finished that letter with two questions: Is this living? What happens here? We culminated with this point after observing briefly how living organisms are a mixture of life and death at any given moment. As you grow older, it seems, you become more keenly and acutely aware of how many cycles affect and have affected your daily routine. Life itself seems to pare down to one simple theme: going in circles.

So, in contemplating the existence of life after death, or how that will demonstrate itself, humans for eons have looked toward common cycles in everyday life. We make comparisons using the embryonic stage, birth, babyhood, adolescence, adulthood, aging, and death, and the recycling of posthumous matter. But this begs to question: does existence outside a body follow the same rules? How can we know? As we observe these physical cycles in up to 8.7 million species and counting begs the question: if we observe similar life-bearing cycles in this many living things, can we infer similarly predictable afterlife cycles? Can this many generations of consciousness possibly be wrong in believing there is consciousness after physical death?

If we have learned anything from hard science, that is, experimental results that can be predictably repeated, it is this: the human perceptual fields―visual, auditory, tactile―are limited. There are realities beyond which we can sense and know, and recent technological advancements can show us just how limited we are. So, with that in mind, I would like to gently suggest that the unknowns about the afterlife experience may very well correspond to our present limitations in perception; that this thing called faith is more about accepting what we probably are missing and therefore misinterpreting, that which we cannot hear or see; and that there are gifted ones among us who can somehow slip beyond those boundaries in human perception, even if only briefly, to remind us that there are realities around us we have not yet begun to know.

Friday, October 9, 2015


My Dear Son:

If it be at all possible, maintain peace among yourselves. This has been a watchword handed down by many masters. If you study them one by one, I think you'll find a smattering of conditions concerning just how this peace is acquired and maintained. It's safe to say that it could very well be the ultimate universal ideal with numerous watchwords. So, let's begin.

Peace is a state of harmony characterized by the lack of violent conflict and the freedom from fear of violence. This is outer peace.

Peace is also freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts and emotions. This is inner peace.

Outer peace takes two. Inner peace takes one. But this begs the paradox: can outer peace begin with one and inner peace require the collective? More later!

Thursday, October 8, 2015


My Dear Son:

When you walk into any situation with your viewpoint, you walk into that with not only how you see the world, but how you think the world sees you. Both are subject to misrepresentation and misinterpretation.

You may think, for instance, that a friend is mad at you when he is simply having a bad day, and you just happened to come along. This would be projecting your idea that he is mad at you onto him, when in fact, he is feeling frustrated with how his day is going in general.

If this same person were to ignore you when you said “hi,” you might think to yourself, he's a senior. He doesn't want to have anything to do with a sophomore. Though your introspection about how he views you could be correct, there's also a chance your assessment may be wrong. You have just inferred or assumed that certain behavior results from certain thoughts, when in fact, this person's failure to respond could be something entirely different.

If while you live life you can, for the most part, sense, as for how you have conducted yourself, you remain at peace with most people you know and meet, this is a blessed state indeed. I think you will see as you go that some people live in more or less constant turmoil with the thoughts running between their ears, too often spilling over from problems with their relationships with others. More later!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


My Dear Son:

I titled this blog Camera-Ready because the idea is, even in the thick of the moment when you are feeling blindsided, you have a built-in snapshot of yourself already in the making. Part of being camera-ready, as you know, is having your camera turned on, aimed and focused to take the shot.

Now I want you to imagine that the camera you carry is at the ready to take the shot, not only of yourself, but the entire situation you surprisingly find yourself in.

If you were to begin snapping frames at the moment the event occurred, then work backward over a period of days or weeks, you would see not just one event, but a series of events leading up to it. You would see that the single blindsided event was actually encircled or encapsulated many times with other events.

Now imagine that it's only some of these lead-in events from your perspective. If you have, say, three other people involved in this blindsided circumstance, then you also have to include their presets—their perspectives leading up to this blindsided event.

So, as you can see, a terrible misunderstanding or blindsided event is really the convergence of not only several people and their different perspectives, but also their personal histories. If you only see the snapshot of the blindsided moment from your perspective, the embarrassment can be pretty painful.

But if you broaden your view to include not only the multiple Venn diagrams leading into the event, but also the ones leading out of it, you will begin to see there is really so much more at stake here besides your own personal pain or discomfort. And in doing so, you may come to see that you have just been part of an amazing event. More later!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


My Dear Son:

Difference of personal perspective goes back to the Golden Rule again. Alas, your own perspective on how someone else would like to be treated may not match yours. There are general guidelines or value points that hold true for most people: most of us don't like feeling lonely, vulnerable, or abandoned, for instance, but differences in perspective will often determine what events or circumstances make us feel such ways.

If you find yourself in an unexpected situation that frightens, saddens, or embarrasses you, you have just been blindsided. But the difference between being completely prepared for the situation versus finding yourself in a surprise can involve a few simple steps.

Chances are the circumstance may still lend itself to discomfort, but being clued into yourself in such a way that you accept it as it comes can make all the difference in the world. More later!

Monday, October 5, 2015


My Dear Son:

If we were perfect in our anticipations, accidents wouldn't happen. But again, the nature of accidents are very often our inability to see them coming. Other times our inner barometers for this kind of stuff are tuned in, lock-and-load.

Very often while we are distracted by our own thoughts, life seems to deliver an accident. I preface it this way because that's often how it looks. But as you are learning, things aren't always what they seem.

Here's at least one of the reasons why: you can invite say, five of your friends over to watch a movie. At the end, put each of them in five different rooms and ask them three simple questions about the movie.

What was the movie about?

What was your favorite part?

Did you like the ending, and why?

I guarantee that you will not get exactly the same answer from each of those five friends. They might be similar, but not the same. Each one of your friends views the movie from his or her unique perspective, or self-talk.

And, if you invited five random people of all ages from around the world, the perspectives would vary even more.

Now you have ten people, five friends of yours who share more things in common, or they wouldn't be your friends. And we have five more people you've never met until now.

So this adds up to eleven minds each with his or her individual perspective and internal self dialogue. This variation of perspective alone is the inception, or beginning of, being blindsided. More next time.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


My Dear Son:

We speak of ourselves as being blindsided when we do not anticipate or see an event coming. This nature of this event may be a physical accident. Or it can be an unexpected, unpleasant encounter with another person.

Most cars have blind spots, or areas where we are unable to see oncoming traffic. Before cars, mule- or horse-driven wagons would often outfit the beast of burden with blinders, or tack that would keep the animal from being distracted or frightened by oncoming traffic.

All of these examples have one idea in common: the inability to see an upcoming or oncoming event. At first glance, being prevented or unable to anticipate upcoming events goes counter to our instincts for survival and our attempts to avoid potentially physically dangerous or painful stimuli. But it's been my experience that these blindsided encounters can also deliver a hefty amount of emotional agony, as well.

Part of the problem is, situations like this may make us feel inadequate, gullible, or just plain stupid. And most of us, whether we claim it or not, have a certain affinity toward maintaining our personal pride and dignity. So when you run up against circumstances that challenge you with ya didn't see it coming, did ya? a fair lot of us will run screaming the opposite direction white-knuckling our wounded pride. That's really not necessary, given there are ways not only to see it coming, but to accept with inner graciousness why we never saw it coming. More later.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


My Dear Son:

Another aspect of, or way of understanding our ability to judge, is that we are unable to make an evaluation of something we cannot understand, identify, or with which we are not familiar. So the idea is, you are not able to observe that someone is cheating on his test unless you understand the concept of cheating yourself.

In the above example, you may have cheated on an exam before yourself, and that is how you understand it. Or, if you've never had that experience yourself, you nonetheless have developed a framework for understanding it, or you could not identify it, name it, or call it as it is.

Although, say, you may never have cheated on an exam, you may have had the experience of getting something that you felt you didn't deserve, or you felt was a little unfair to someone else. Our minds can make associations with experiences we have had or felt to decipher ones we haven't.

And, there are those times where we walk into an event just frankly not seeing it coming. Those are sometimes painful events that, as a mother, I would wish to spare you from. But life inevitably offers its blind spots. More thoughts on blind spots coming up.

Friday, October 2, 2015


My Dear Son:

Part of our ability to survive and live long on this earth is our ability to evaluate and discern whether or not we are surrounded by a safe, life-giving environment. This not only includes whether our basic needs (food, water, shelter) are met, but also whether or not we are in contact with other life forms (human, animal, etc.) that have everyone's best interests at heart.

So, one of the abilities we develop early on is the ability to judge. Some people are better at judging human disposition and motivation than others. But it all comes down to: we spend a huge section of our lives judging whether or not it is safe and/or expedient to go on within the environment we are.So spiritual masters like the Christ have been quoted as saying to judge not, to take first the log from your own eye. A common interpretation is, you cannot recognize something in another person or being unless you can first observe it in yourself. So in your judging another, you are identifying the same quality or problem in yourself.

I personally like the reversal method introduced by Eckhart Tolle. He says in summary, do not be concerned about how others may judge you. For when they judge you, they are limiting themselves. The idea is, if we hold too fast to one certain opinion about a person or circumstance, we are limiting our expectations to that judgment we formed. And who really wants to limit themselves? And yet we do it when we form a judgment and are not willing to question it, or even let it go.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Bill of Health

My Dear Son:

And so the bill of health called “normal” is not signed until the doctor's checklist is complete:

The veterinarian is trained to feel the organs in the abdomen and sense if the animal has any painful areas. Just like us, your pet has a stomach, liver, pancreas, intestines, and kidneys, to name a few.

Any animal that experiences excessive itching or hair loss—well, just like we are, health can truly be skin deep. The skin reveals how internally healthy we are in general.

It's a mouthful, but the musculoskeletal system is a huge part of health. It determines whether or not we can move without pain, and, as your dad was trained, the placement of the bones means everything in terms of blood, lymph, and organ health. So the veterinarian obviously considers the animal's gait and usage of limbs. Particularly in Sukie's case, since she had quite a near miss and a tall tumble.

Lymph nodes and mucous membranes are the final consideration. Just as with humans, flow, hydration, and color are all strong indicators of health or disease.

I smiled to watch you really read the 101 Essential Tips to Cat Care, because it showed me, after all, that you truly care about educating yourself in the latest research on caring for cats. It saddens me that, with so much information now available to us, humans still remain grossly undereducated about caring for their most loyal companions.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


My Dear Son:
Other features the veterinarian looks for are:

Healthy ears, including flap formation, a normal amount of ear wax, and canals free of ear mites and other foreign objects.

The mouth includes a healthy set of teeth with little accumulation of tarter, which also includes for kittens and puppies losing their baby teeth and cutting permanent ones. If you remember Sydne, my Chihuahua, did not lose her baby teeth and developed a double row. The veterinarian removed these to allow her permanent teeth to come in normally.

The veterinarian uses a stethoscope just like a doctor to listen to your pet's heart and lung sounds. He's judging whether your kitty respires deeply enough, the normal rate of inspiration and expiration, and whether the lungs sound clear of wheezing, which could occur with, say, asthma or pneumonia.

He also listens to your pet's heart, determining whether it has regular rate and rhythm, just like your dad does with humans. It's always a good sign when the valve sounds are normal and there are no murmurs, which indicate the heart has lost its efficiency in transporting blood throughout the body.

We are two-thirds through the veterinarian's checklist for your pet's exam! More to come!

Monday, September 28, 2015


My Dear Son:

Sukie's first trip to the veterinarian was, as with many cats, filled with small reassurances and terror. She'd rather ride in a lap than in a crate, but we didn't test that theory. The ten-minute car ride was filled with mewling. In the exam room, she settled down, stopped shivering, and purred loudly for a few minutes. The exam, culture, and shots seemed no big deal to her. The trip back home in the crate was punctuated once again by louder and accelerated mewling.

Sukie checked out generally very healthy except for Coccidia, a parasite that infects the intestinal lining of many young animals, treatable with ten days of sulfadimethoxine, an antibiotic that kills single-cell organisms. Otherwise, she proved her health with an abundance of playfulness, voracious eating, remarkable adaptation, and rapid responses.

I thought you might want to know what a veterinarian looks for in our pets. It's a long list, so I'll start with a few and finish next letter:

The veterinarian looks first at your pet's appearance, weight, and temperature. He considers whether your pet has enough muscle mass or too much adipose (fatty) tissue, which also changes with age. He also considers whether the pet is well-hydrated or dehydrated, because, as you have experienced recently, inadequate fluid in the tissues can cause all sorts of problems, among them pain.

The veterinarian looks at your pet's disposition, considering its breed. It's sort of like considering how the animal is doing emotionally, and whether its personality is developing as we would expect it.

The veterinarian looks for age-specific concerns, which, at this time would be parasites or diseases that might easily overtake a young animal while its immune system is still developing.

The veterinarian looks at the eyes, which are huge portals to understanding disease processes. If the eyes are bright and clear, the animal stands a strong chance of being healthy, at least for the next few weeks. When the eyes or eyelids (cats have three) are draining or otherwise damaged, it's very likely some disease process has already started.

More next time on health!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Small Things

My Dear Son:

This week made demands upon all of us, housekeeper included, in assuring our new house guest felt welcome and safe. I've always been amazed how something so small can make huge changes in one's life (and daily routine). So, you had an imposition of sorts with your first experiences babysitting while we were at work. The crate, as I explained to you, was an option for nighttime, as it is fifty times her size and stocked with bed, litter, toys, food, and water. But I also wanted her to have plenty of floor time especially the first week as she acclimated to her new home.

This meant remembering to close certain doors, confining her run of the house for several reasons, including gradual introduction to our queen dame Petal, our neurotic rat-terrier mix Mina, and litter box training. You stepped through your kitty assignment feeling at first a little put upon, but then I think I also observed you enjoying her playtime antics a little more each day.

There's an old saying that small things come with large packages. As you saw, this little one-pounder had us rearranging furniture, sitting on the floor, kid proofing, getting up earlier, coming home for lunch, making runs for supplies, rearranging our schedules, and running to the veterinarian's. It's similar in many ways to what happened when you were born!

Saturday, September 26, 2015


My Dear Son:

Since it's been at least eight years from the time we last had baby animals, I'd forgotten how incredibly fun and exasperating babies can be. When I volunteered for our local shelters, part of the educational process was preparing potential adopters for the benefits and challenges of purebreds versus mixed breeds, young versus old. 

In an animal rescue circumstance, there's always first concern, of course, about the general health of the animal. Also of concern is how much training the animal was able to obtain before separation from its mother, which can make a difference in house training, adaptability, and general instincts.

I think Sukie had probably not been separated from her mother for very long, but she was still around the six-week mark. More than likely she'd been dumped after an unsuccessful give-away attempt at our Wal-mart Superstore, and even more than likely her brothers went instead of her, because of the misnomer that we're okay if we slide on neutering our males.

Worthwhile to us at this time with Sukie: that you are at home for the summer, able to give her some monitored floor time; a huge crate my dad donated for her at nighttime; a bargain-bin chew-toy just her size to sleep beside; aluminum cake baking pans, which make great disposable litter boxes for small kittens; kitty-safe wipes for cleaning faces and paws; that kittens love batting eggshells and yarn over manufactured jingle toys.

With all the helpers in place, we could watch with joy as she acclimatized and discovered her environment, graduated from running from us to running to us, bathed and groomed our fingers, stalked us, leapt out from dark corners, and purred like there was no tomorrow.

And once again, as with Petal, we watched out for electrical cords, foreign objects, falls, and all those unexpected dangers for the little tike. And it was all worth it.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Cat Names

My Dear Son:

I always thought it was important for you to have an understanding and respect for creatures of all kinds, so from a very young age, you've shared lives with numerous critters, including dogs, cats, a horse, goldfish, guinea pigs, mice, hummingbirds, and a water turtle. When you were younger, the major idea was, if one was good, more was better.

Currently we have of course, three dogs and a very spoiled house cat. Until about two years ago, you consistently asked for another kitten or puppy, since all of our pets are approaching the eight to twelve-year mark. And, as we explained, let's take care of the ones we have, and if the time comes for a new pet, it will be an undeniable event.

And so, on Saturday, I would say that qualified as an amazing set of circumstances where timing defined the life or death of one of these little creatures. Both dad and I couldn't deny it. She was supposed to come home with us, no question.

When I set her on your bed, you looked over from your video games with a raised eyebrow, “Mom, really? What are we going to do with her?” Suddenly you were the adult, running through all the practical reasons we were too busy or challenged or otherwise unable to care for a kitten.

And of course, we all were concerned how your first cat would react, who you, then five, deftly and instantaneously named Pedal, later to be amended by Mom at the veterinarian's as Petal. And she reacted in predictable old-cat fashion: long looks of wide-eyed utter disgust at the little alien bouncing about the family room. So we began, among enjoying the kitten antics, introducing them slowly and safely to one another, hopeful that, within a few weeks, the two would find lasting companionship. And of course, we tried to make sure we gave Petal plenty of hugs and reassurance that she was still queen dame of the house.

Then came the naming. Dad wanted to name her something that had to do with the Olympics, considering the grand tumble we'd just observed. You had the idea to name her Leaf until I reminded you it was a girl. So then, you did what all teenagers would do and Googled best female cat names. And presto, we had over two-hundred fifty names. Then all we had to do was look up the meanings behind half those names. But it came down to Sukie, meaning lily, which after all, is a flower—and Olympia, to fit in with dad's wish that she be more firmly connected to her tumbling roots. And, of course, my dad reminded me to think about how that would sound as I yelled the name out the back door.

But Sukie, amazingly uninjured, healthy, and excited to be a part of our motley crew, was here to stay.