May 2022 Hope Is a Cold Nose and Other Inspiring Stories

42.38337° N, -85.95741° E 

One evening I was in between stops on our quest for hope.  I pulled the map out of my backpack to look at the X’s made thus far.  Sitting under the stars, hearing an occasional nocturnal sound in the distance, soothed by them – even by the occasional howl of a pack – I heard a voice whisper go back. 

At first, I thought it was whispering the map.  I looked at where the X’s had not yet been placed thinking where I should hike next.   There is this location over there a little North of where I am.  Or how about down there to the South?   I pulled out my small notebook and pen and started writing down next coordinates.

Go back.

I paused. 

Go back?   To what? 

Go back to where you began.

Back to?   The last X?  To December when I decided to initiate the quest?  To what prompted the first email message to a list of subscribers? 

Go back to WHERE?

Go back to where you began.

My mind continued to race through memories and milestone moments.  I thought of when my path crossed with the first veteran and service dog in Hope Has a Cold Nose.  How I didn’t know when I asked if I could write his life story that it would lead me to writing twenty-two more for publication. 

I turned back to the map, back to where I was sitting under the stars only to race back through each X on the map laying in front of me.  What could I “see and see again” that might help me solve what now felt like a riddle?  Go back to where you began.

I thought of the journey in writing my first book, To the Moon and Back to Me:  What I Learned from Four Running Feet.   I thought of the journey in earning my MA, in which every course was transforming.   Said another way.  Life changing.  I pulled my computer out of my backpack, opening saved course papers I had written, mining them for what my intentions were then.  Was I living them out loud now?

I remembered talking with a veteran as I was seeking life stories for Hope Has a Cold Nose.  He was now in a peer support specialist role to aid other veterans journeying with pain, trauma, sorrow, and despair.  He shared with me about a study that was conducted evaluating what may influence some veterans to not experience as much hopelessness as other veterans may.  He shared that the study identified two significant contributors.  One is that the veteran had a “perfect” life in which everything came “easy” and then experienced significant trauma during their service.  Or a veteran had experienced trauma as a child and did not have a way of reframing their story differently, to turn the trauma into such things as resilience, dignity, worthiness, and.  Hope.  Their experiences in the service were like a final shattering of the fragile eggshell in which the core of each of us reside.   Life had taught some veterans early on that suffering holds the same space as wonder, joy, and innocence and may even act as a thief to these things.  The experiences in the military only compounding these feelings. 

Go back to where you began.

Was I not going back far enough?  

I started stepping through memories of my childhood.  I remembered the baby duck that I tried to save who had somehow broken its neck.  I was wrapping gauze around it thinking that would create a neck brace.   I remembered the special childhood I had when it came time for Easter.  In addition to a basket of sweet treats, I would get a live baby bunny.  One of the perks of living on a farm.   I remembered my pony, Sugar.  And I remembered finding her on her side in the pasture, her body now an empty vessel and her soul somewhere else grazing on grasses and enjoying apples.  I believe she was my first experience with physical death.  At least that I remember. 

I remembered a lot of stories of my childhood.

And I recalled the journey I have traveled through the years to look at those stories to see and see again.  To reframe some of the chapters.  To put other chapters in a treasure chest for safe keep. 

As I sat under the stars, looking in front of me at the maps of all the other trails I had hiked up to now, I started to see that the path I was now hiking was following a very faint trail of footsteps that had walked before me.  Were these on this faint trail ancestor steps I was following, those guiding my way?  No, those were the footsteps I could see to my left and to my right on the paths I had traveled.  Always beside every step I chose – and will choose – to make.  And then I heard another whisper.  Instead, I needed to heed the wisdom of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

I needed to take the reoccurring whispers I had recorded on strips of paper, placed in this tiny travel case tucked in a pocket of my backpack, pull them out, and see that the next steps on my journey are not on the map in front of me.  The compass points are in these pieces of paper now in my hand.   These that read:

People just want to be seen and heard. 

Foster unconditional listening, which begets unconditional acceptance. 

Identify, and then gently show through words the purpose in the ebbs of life stories

Compassionately look pain, trauma, sorrow, despair, and grief in the eye

Teach how to reframe a story that may be causing mere survival; a new narrative can lead to thriving with life

Inspire the graceful dance between life’s opposition lessons

Teach grace is in our choice in how we hear and see

Intune, speak and write words that offer beauty, wisdom, dignity, worth, and unconditional acceptance.  Within, with others, with life. 

Hold up mirrors for people doubting their worth, that they can find their extraordinary value

Inspire that hope is always in one more (be it moment, step, day)

Advocate holistic healing through the form of a cold nose

Teach holistic wellbeing, mind, body, and soul.

Teach the messages of nature

And that space does not separate hearts no matter the distance, including between those who still walks earth and those who don’t.

Step into the marginalized spaces that hold the most judgment.  Bring dignity to those spaces.  Within the hardest chapters to read are the most extraordinary stories; after all, all souls originate from love without conditions.     

The world is cracking open for new beginnings; teach how to flourish with what wants to be born.

So, I am going back to where I began. 

One place is back with the 3rd grade class who drew the most amazing pictures of what Hope Is to each of them.   Now each of these extraordinary students will be writing their life stories.  I will have the privilege of being their life story writing coach.   Because

Hope Is

In the stories of our life.

That we tell ourselves

From an early age.

48° 22′ 58.88″ N. 31° 10′ 58.33″ E.

Hope Is

The future that will be there for generations to come

By generations starting out now.

Like the message shared in this inspirational TEDx talk by Zoya Lytvyn

42.46056° N, -83.6539° E

Hope Is

For all ages.

It is stories of wisdom from those who have found a graceful dance with resilience, dignity, worth and.  Hope. 

Like in this special place in Michigan, only one of two like it in the United States


War Dog Michigan Memorial

Where hope.  

And worth.

And dignity.

Is in the time lived between the dash.

Hope Is

From elementary age to early adulthood, into the late autumn / early winter season of life.

Hope Is

In the sacred honor of meeting a Vietnam veteran who shared his story of his hope in a cold nose who served beside him in Vietnam.  Chief.  An extraordinary soul who saved this veteran’s life seven times, that this once young soldier could return home, without Chief, to become a husband of forty-two years, a father, a nurse anesthesiologist, and now proud owner of a rescued German Shephard now at his feet when my path crossed with this extraordinary gentleman.

K-9 Vietnam Wall Memorial

We both felt the same thing.  That Chief had led this veteran to this German Shephard.

For Hope is in Chief never having left his watch of this veteran for fifty-one years.

And counting. 

Hope Is in being extremely humbled by a most reverent gift bestowed to me.   As I listened to an extraordinary story of suffering, joy, dignity, and love, and shared in return the sacred privilege I was given to co-author twenty-three extraordinary stories including one that had similar footsteps to this gentleman’s, I was handed this gift I will treasure for the rest of my dash.  This specially made challenge coin symbolizing this veteran and Chief’s lifetime bond. 

Challenge Coin Best Friends Forever

N42.36087° W85.87946°

Go back to where you began.

And then create new pathways.  

I have established a post office box address. 

It is:

P.O. Box 327

Gobles, MI 49055

ATTN:  Hope Is

And now you may be asking, for what? 

After all, it is a traditional mailing method that might feel like it is certainly going back to where we began long ago. 

It is a location in which people can communicate to me anonymously one of two things.

  • What Hope Is to them
  • Where they could use a boost of hope through a reframed view of their story.

How it will work once I receive your mail.  I have updated one of my two web sites to add a page titled “Hope Is.”  HOPE IS | -Hope Ascends (

On this page I will display some of what is sent to me via the post office address.   Anonymously.  If someone has sent a story that they would like reframed, they can note that request, and I will post my reframed version on this web page.   Note, people are welcome to share their name with me.  I offer sending it anonymously, including using this PO box as the return address, for those who may not wish to share their name.   

People just want to be seen and heard

And I am here to listen.  

I also like the thought of the Law of Universal Influence.  we have an influence on everyone around us. That means your family, your friends, and even perfect strangers are impacted by the energy you release. Remember, everyone and everything is connected, so energy has the power to expand into every crevice of the world.

The power to expand into every crevice of the world.

Imagine how much hope we could expand into every crevice of the world by sharing in what feels presently like a vast sea filled with what is not

That there is an even greater sea of what



42.38337° N, -85.95741° E 

Two Cold Noses of Hope

On behalf of Ginger and Kutana, they wish to share the wise words of Helen Keller.  Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.     And, with her raised ear Ginger whispers we are here to listen.

Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it.  Match the frequency of the reality you want and you can’t help but get that reality.  It can be no other way.  This is not philosophy.  This is physics!  – Albert Einstein




If you have enjoyed this month’s message, please pay it forward to others.  They can also subscribe to future emails by visiting   If you know of someone who has a Hope Is message to share, please encourage them to share via the post office address (or via email).  I welcome sharing their input on the Hope Is website or in future blog messages!   


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