Hope Is A cold Nose and Other Inspirational Stories January 2022

Let me first say that I trust this email finds your 2022 is starting out well for you!

So, if you are familiar with December’s Hope Has a Cold Nose update, you will understand when I say

the quest has begun!

My search for what

Hope Is.

Before you begin following the trail markers I have left below, let me offer ideas for how you might want to follow the map of Hope Is.   You could certainly follow the map all in one sitting (i.e., read below all at once).   Or you could visit each trail marker one week at a time, as I have (translation, visit a coordinate location each week).   Or perhaps you would enjoy the daily visit of a trail marker, and then walk the path a second or third time until February’s Hope Is message is sent. (This is something I anticipate I will do, too. {smile}) 

In whichever way you decide to follow my quest, may you find joy, inspiration, and meaning

As I am. 

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The first week of my hope-full adventure began with a dear soul reaching out to share with me what hope is for him.  Hope could not wait for the new calendar year.  His gracious words reaching me as 2021 prepared to whisper see you in your memories.  His heart-full sharing the gentle breeze to open the map that said here is where we begin.

Hope exists on a cure for a disease without a cure

Alzheimer’s is the disease for which this dear soul hopes one day there will be a cure, as his heart grieves the inner knowing that there will be no available ransom great enough to bring his stolen wife back to him.  

When Guilt outstretches its arms and wraps this dear soul in a bear hug in how he is no longer able to be the sole caregiver, he finds hope in the deep breath he musters to take as Gratitude unfolds the tight squeeze of Guilt, and whispers she is doing well at Vicinia Gardens.   Gratitude also gently says thank you for the resources available to support me physically and mentally.  Hope in each breath to keep stepping forward as his heart the basin of tears trying not to waterlog the fifty-two years of memories that he holds on to for them both. 

I am reminded of a life story I wrote for someone who was beginning her journey with the early stages of Alzheimer’s.   One of her two children joined our conversation so that he could fill in pieces of her story she might no longer remember.   I can still see the smile on her face and hear her sweet voice when she said honey, can I show you something?  To my instant and eager Yes, she got up and went to her TV stand and grabbed a family portrait of her children and their families.   As she handed me the framed picture with a bright twinkle in her eyes and a light-heartedness to her voice, she proceeded to say he can tell you who they all are

In that moment I was caught between her joy and her son’s brave-faced smile that masked his sadness.  Like the dear soul above who feels the pain of his wife slipping away, I could feel this person’s son hurting that his mother was also losing her foothold on names and faces.   One by one, he pointed out each name and once he was done, his mom placed the framed picture back where she had first grabbed it. 

After sharing other pieces of her story with me for the next few minutes, with her beautiful smile and her equally beautifully sounding voice, she then said honey, can I show you something?  To my yes, please, she got up and went to her TV stand and grabbed the family portrait of her children and their families.   As she handed me the framed picture with the same bright twinkle in her eyes and a voice unapologetic, happy, and innocent, she proceeded to say he can tell you who they all are

After meeting with this dear storyteller and her son, he walked me out to the lobby expressing his appreciation that I never said to his mom you already shared that with me.  He appreciated the dignity I handed to her each time she repeated something she had said only moments before.  I then shared with him something writing life stories taught me.

We each experience 86,400 moments to every day.   If we were blessed to have lived many years like this dear storyteller now in her 80’s, we would fill up bookshelves, if not libraries with the story of our life.  But we tend not to remember every moment.  Think back to last week.  Or last month.  Or five years ago.  If I were to ask you to share with me the story of your life over the past five years, I anticipate you would provide me several key memories – good and perhaps not always good – but you wouldn’t provide me 157,680,000 memories. 

We remember what matters most to us.  We hold on to the good.  And the not always good that we consider the most important things to hold on to.  I didn’t see this storyteller’s loss of names and faces.   I saw that what this storyteller continued to show me was one of her most precious valuables – her family.   Even if names, words, memories, and faces were starting to retreat, her heart was not.   In what she couldn’t say, she could show.  In the twinkle of her eyes, in her joyful voice, in her radiant smile was a person who was happy having been a mother and a grandmother and a great grandmother.

Hope Is

The heart that doesn’t forget even when a thief comes along to rob the mind of treasured memories.

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Next involved a life story, a book, a podcast, and a mourning dove  

He sits beside his brother on the plane, and lies on the ground beside Shay…” I used to have this crazy idea…” He pauses.  “It’ll keep flying on its normal route to Los Angeles, and I’m its counterweight.  They’re all alive up there, as long as I’m alive down here” …Moonlight beams through his eyelids and he can see, as if it’s the lake in front of him, the pain and loss he’s been swimming in for years.  In the moonlight, though, the pain is revealed to be love.  The emotions are entwined; they are the two sides of the same gleaming coin.  – From the book Dear Edward, written by Ann Napolitano, a fictional book about a sole survivor of a plane crash

While in dialogue with someone recently, she shared with me a chapter in the life story of her mother, grandmother, daughter, and herself.    Her mother survived the Holocaust by being given away to a nun’s convent when she was a small child.   This particular convent had as its mission to provide adoptive homes to children they would rescue from the risk of deportation to concentration camps.  Or worse. 

At one point in this compelling life story, the storyteller struggled to find her voice.   This storyteller, a mother, imagining in this moment of the narrative how she would feel if she stood in the same pair of shoes as her grandmother had.   If she had to give up her own daughter, handing over her own flesh and blood to a stranger, knowing that last time she felt this child in her arms may be the last time she felt her child again.   All for

Hope

That this child would live. 

As the story-listener the one thing I kept thinking was there is no greater act of unconditional love.  

And then, as an once historian while in college studying the Holocaust era, once a researcher completing an independent study of this indescribable time in world history, twenty-two plus years later I was that young student again.  In the moment of listening now to this life story, I was in the past, reading stories and looking at pictures, seeking the ways in which meaning was found as a result of all the ways meaning attempted to be destroyed.    

Hope is

The story-teller’s daughter.  The granddaughter of the holocaust survivor.  The great granddaughter of a dear soul who handed her child to a nun, holding back her inner screams of No!, striving to keep her body upright despite the twisting and turning insider that nearly doubled her over with the agony of letting go.  For in letting go, not just this dear soul’s daughter lived. 

Two more generations were born. 

And live on.

A life story, a book, a podcast, and a mourning dove.   In that way that I was meant to deepen my sense of hope not as optimism, but that there is meaning, regardless of how it turns out, in the same week I listened to episode 94 of 3 Books by Neil Pasricha.   Neil quoted from the book The Americans, by Robert Frank.   Black and white are colors of photography.  To me they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected.   

That dance of grace between opposites.   In the deepest loss is also found the greatest love. 

Hope is

The circle of life.  

This past weekend found my home state with a near zero wind chill.  Harsh conditions for Nature’s winged inhabitants.   As I was walking out our door, nestled against the door frame was a mourning dove.   Cupped hands, a towel lined box, and a towel as blanket the attempts to assist this fragile soul in regaining its body heat.  

Hope is

Compassion

Unfortunately, as dusk started to knock, it revealed that the bitterness of the cold had already done irreversible damage for this winged friend.  In the moonlight, though, the pain is revealed to be love.  The emotions are entwined; they are the two sides of the same gleaming coin

Hope is

Having lived a life in which one experienced love

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Week three found the power of choice.  And unconditional acceptance.

Hope to me is really living this life in however we choose to.

These words shared with me by another dear soul who reached out narrating a chapter of her and her children’s life stories.   

Approximately eight months prior this dear soul had accepted, with a heavy heart, her oldest child’s wishes to not return to their home abroad when she and his younger brother would.  An adult, old enough to make this choice, at least defined in part by what we say when a child has reached eighteen or nineteen years of age.  And yet, a child, at least defined in part by a parent’s ability to wisely see what could be missed in the naivety and innocence that youth still hold strong at that age.   They parted with him choosing to see freedom, play, and experimentation while she boarded the plane dancing between worry, grief, and trust in the returning after letting someone spread their own wings.

Fast forward to January, nestled back home abroad again after a return trip to her domestic home to celebrate the holidays with her oldest son and extended family.  She is writing to me what Hope Is as she glances periodically at her surroundings.   Her living room with its cozy antique decor, her furred housemates, her youngest son.  And her oldest son sitting a few feet away from her physically.   

After his few months of exploration through uncertainty – also part of being nineteen – he has decided that spreading his wings is best closer to his mother, his need for independence integrated with the wisdom he knows that the person who can best guide his winged flights is the one who has learned for herself how to fly beautifully between uncertainty and the urge to travel to sights not yet experienced or seen.   

This wise mother knows that she needs to hold this time in her delicate embrace.  She has knowledge to make his flights easier.  She has dreams for the flights she hopes he will take.  Yet, her wisdom also knows that she can share her experiences with him of what she has learned on her own flights through life, but it is not for her to tell him what choices she thinks he should make.  She can close her eyes, put her hand to her chest, and hold the deepest intention that if his landing on a branch is wobbly or he crashes into a limb he will still be safe and well; she cannot choose the branch he tries to perch on.   She can Hope that what he will choose most of all Is to live life to the best of

What is best for him

She can watch, listen, and accept without condition that even if he is searching in directions that she might not choose for him, what he seeks is not putting him in harm’s way.  If she can foresee harm, she can offer her wisdom and hope he chooses to listen to the years they have shared thus far in which she has always guided him away from harm into the nest of love.    

Hope Is

Trusting that how each of us chooses to live life is what gives all of us

The gift of living life

With soaring wings

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Week four.

I had already been blessed in 2021 to have my path cross with the founder of this extraordinary organization during a fund-raising event.  

Nicalove.  

As I began my quest for what Hope Is, one of the first people I thought to reach out to was Julie.  From following Nicalove on Instagram and in the routine email communications Julie provides, I knew she would have a powerful perspective.   

On my quest thus far, some of the narratives shared with me has provided me the opportunity to add my own words.  This time, there are no words for me to add. 

It is my privilege and a very sacred honor I have been given to share with you what I learned at this stop of what Hope Is.

Having a positive impact on the outcome of another’s hardship.

Since I was young, I have always found myself drawn to people and animals in need.  I was a “sensitive” child and the suffering and pain of others attracted me like a moth to a flame.  I was keenly attuned to my gifts of healing and being of service to others. In my youth, I constantly found myself wishing I could help others, in any way possible, even if it was just to extend my hope and compassion into their lives.  I felt misunderstood, but as I have come into adulthood, I have begun to use what I now know as my “superpower” and created a life where I can share my idea of HOPE with others in need. 

NicaLove, born from my infinite love of all beings, is my way of offering hope to abandoned and stray animals suffering from the consequences of human errors.  Through my compassion and desire to serve others, I have created a true impact by spreading hope to those in need within my reach. NicaLove began as a “one-woman show” and has grown to a tribe of compassionate animal-lovers who share my beliefs and trusts our impactful animal welfare work in Nicaragua.

Though it may have begun with just me, the idea came to be that If I could draw on the hope and compassion of those around me, collectively, we would be able to expand our impact, and ultimately save more lives. Through harnessing the hope of others our NicaTribe continues to grow, serving others and saving lives.

Hope, to me, is about having a positive impact on the outcome of another’s hardship. It’s about sharing compassion, kindness, love, and inspiration around you. I believe that even the smallest drop of hope can have the largest ripple effect and change someone’s entire world – whether that be human, animal, or even an insect. Hope is having the optimism that our actions have a positive outcome on the circumstances on another’s life.

So much wisdom in this heart-full sharing by Julie!  

I encourage you to visit the link above to learn more about Nicalove.  I also have this link on my website HOPE LINKS – Christine Hassing.  (Be watching…additional links will be added to this page as the Hope Quest continues.)   Each time I witness through a posting another act of compassion and love on the part of Nicalove, I am reminded of the mourning dove I wrote about above.  I am reminded of the starfish parable I love so much (https://brightagain.org/parable-of-the-starfish/).

To make a difference for one.   To give one the feeling of unconditional love.

I can think of no greater ripples to cast to balance the sorrows of this world than the actions of

Hope for… a positive impact on the outcome of another’s hardship

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In case you are wondering about the two cold noses who are often part of these monthly emails, Ginger and Kutana have been enjoying this quest, too.   Of course, they are partial to any stories that are about fur souls like themselves.  And they certainly like curling up next to me as we recap in writing what we have found on our quest.  Most of all, I think they like being a part of spreading

Hope.

The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. – Barbara Kingsolver

Sincerely,

-Christine

P.S.

If you have enjoyed this month’s message, please pay it forward to others.  They can also subscribe to future emails by visiting www.christinehassing.com.   Encourage others to share what Hope Is.   I welcome sharing their input in future messages!   

Namaste.’ 

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