September 2021 Hope has a Cold Nose Update

One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

“My dear one, the battle between two ‘wolves’ is inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a moment and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee replied, “The one you feed.”

-Cherokee Legend

If you have read other monthly Hope Has a Cold Nose updates, you have “listened’ to me talk about our dance of grace between opposites.  I was in one of those dances yesterday, the 20th anniversary of 911.   Prior to yesterday, I had set the intention I would write this month’s HHCN update the day after.  Though many of the extraordinary co-authors of HHCN have an incredible story to share because of the impact of 911, at least in part, there was more within me that felt there was a sacredness to September 11 in which I should hold a silent space.  I felt I should hold the space for others to share their perspectives and their memories as they travel their own healing journeys with a moment in history in which life became before and no longer the same. 

After all, as you read in HHCN when I quote Cheryl Richardson’s wise words, people start to heal the moment they feel heard.

Throughout yesterday I started to dance.  Perhaps I should write and post this month’s update on September 11.   As people shared in their social media posts and stories over and time again let us not forget, I didn’t want anyone to perceive I was forgetting how much 911 created the puzzle pieces that now make up Hope Has a Cold Nose.  As I danced with my heart that was whispering wait for the 12th, my mind was speaking hurry and write, the day is nearing night. 

And then a special friend wrote these words at the exact moment I needed a messenger. 

9/11/2001. About 6AM PST. I pulled into the base gas station, and someone goes turn on your radio, the Twin Towers have been attacked. It was acquisition excellence day, we all sat and watched it on a giant screen TV until my commander looks at me and goes, “I forgot my speech notes. Can you run back to the office and get them.”? The 5 mins it took me to get back we had gone to the highest Threat Condition. I’m now “in charge” of about 100 civilians and a young Captain. Thankfully I had a retired Master Sergeant in the office who walked me through most of the day, I’ll never forget John. I’ll also never forget the anguish on mother’s faces as all they wanted to do was leave the office and get kids from the base day care. I told them leave and security forces is going to stop you. I said I don’t care what you do but you need to stay until we are released. It was hard for everyone that day.

You know what wasn’t hard 9/12. I wish today on the 20th we focus more on what made America less hard on 9/12. We need 9/12 America more now than maybe then!

You know what wasn’t hard 09/12. 

We need 09/12 America more now than maybe then!

A special friend who read my heart, for I already knew the message I wanted to write for September.  My dance was which day to write it.  

September 12, 2021.   Twenty years and a day after.

I was reminded of the Cherokee legend a few days ago when I was watching Kutana as my deer whisperer.  Kutana, my head-strong, fiercely determined, diligent in fixating on that which has caught her attention, bold in her attitude when she knows what she wants girl becomes gentle, sweet, almost reverent in her sitting as she watches when a deer crosses the yard.    Ginger, on the other hand, my compassionate, tender, beautiful smile of adoring love when she looks at you girl, becomes my stern, vociferous, ready to rumble – or at least chase – a deer she is certain is invading her domain.    

The wolf within both Kutana and Ginger.  Their dance between gentle and bold, quiet and loud, share with others and draw boundaries.  

I started reflecting on us as human beings.  How I believe is similar to the Cherokee legend.  We are in this lifetime to learn.   We spend our lives experiencing things that cause us anger, and those same experiences create opportunity to understand and forgive.  We spend our lives experiencing doubt and worry, and from these experiences we create opportunity to develop trust and hope.    I like to think of a diamond that is getting its shine.   A diamond in the rough that through polishing begins to glisten its brilliance. 

All elements like those shared in the Cherokee legend are necessary for a human experience.   After all, anger was one of the things that brought us together September 12, 2001.

The challenge comes in when we feed one element and starve the rest. 

Judgment, for example, keeps us safe and aids our decision making.   We use judgment when we decide not to walk alone down a dark alley, for example.   We use judgment when we are making life decisions such as to rent or buy a home and where to live or what school to attend.   Feeding the element of judgment is not a negative thing to do, though we can perceive the action of judgment as negative.   (Perhaps now you have an image in your mind of someone sitting at the front of a courtroom deciding guilt or innocence, judging each case being heard.)   

Where we are at risk in the dance of opposites is when we start feeding hate along side judgment, and we stop feeding such things as curiosity, humility, empathy, and intuition. 

Yes, intuition.   Seems like an odd word to write, doesn’t it?   And yet. 

Each of us have an inner knowing that becomes hard to hear in a very noisy world of perspectives and opinions.   Each of us has a collection.  A collection of values, of experiences, of passions and interests, and of what we believe to be facts.  We also have a collection of elements such as sorrow, regret, compassion, and peace.   All of these combines to give us a starting place each and every time we listen, read, hear, and see something shared from another person’s collection. 

Where are we starting from?   Are we starting from the mind only where often certain elements are fed more than others? 

Or are we also starting from that inner knowing?  A place where, when it is quiet, reflects on all elements and then begins to dance with an awareness that a balance is trying to be reached between two opposing foundations. This inner knowing understands well that it depends on which one gets fed.

And a decision is made accordingly based on what experience wants to be had as a human being and what opportunities this experience will teach. 

As shared in HHCN, pain, trauma, sorrow, despair, and grief are something that all of us know at least one of in our lives at least once.    These elements brought us together twenty years ago.  

Maybe we took on the depths of pain, trauma, sorrow, despair, and grief more than we realized, and now too much is present for us, too much is on each person’s shoulders, to help bare the weight for others.   Maybe many stopped feeding innocence.   Maybe like what they say about how in order to love others, one first must love themselves; perhaps people who struggle to hear others’ who differ in perspective as someone worth listening to are first trying to find a way to feel heard and worth be listened to themselves.

You know what wasn’t hard?   09/12. 

Nor 09/13.

Nor December 2021 for I can still remember my first trip to New York City, walking past fences with pictures of extraordinary people their loved ones were now mourning the loss of.  Not a large city girl by nature, I fell in love with NYC on that trip.   Not just because it was a city in unity because of a life changing traumatic event.   It was a city in unity because it was a diverse population of humanity.  

And the joy of diversity was being fed most of all.

We don’t need to go back to 09/12/12, for that would be a large amount of pain, trauma, sorrow, and despair to reexperience – more than some already do with their memories.   But perhaps we can go forward finding a way to equally feed all the elements that make us human.

Together.

You don’t have a soul.  You are a soul.  You have a body.   – C.S. Lewis

Sincerely,

-Christine

P.S.

Stay tuned for future updates regarding the translation of Hope Has a Cold Nose into its first of what I hope are many languages.   Initial steps have been taken to translate HHCN into Hebrew.  My deep gratitude to a commander of the Israeli Army and his direct team for their time they have given in studying HHCN and the exploration they are now doing in how the messages of the book can be proactively used.   I am deeply appreciative of the seed you have now planted!  I look forward to how our paths may intersect further!   

Two stories now make up the beginning of Book 3!  Continue to stay tuned! Hope in the form of a Moose and other Inspiring Stories….

Also be watching for October’s update.  I have had a very sacred honor of writing life stories for an exceptional organization called Resilience.   I will share more about their mission and a link to learn more next month! 

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.      

In addition, if you, or someone you know would like to learn how to write your / their own life story, visit www.christinehassing.com for more details.

Namaste.’ 

HOPE

August 2021 Hope has a Cold Nose

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise

Just like moons and suns,

With the certainty of tides

Just like hope springing high

Still, I rise

Excerpt From Maya Angelou poem, Still, I Rise

First, I wish to share the recent honor I received to be a guest on this wonderful podcast Dog Save the People, hosted by John Bartlett with support from a great team that includes, Jack, Maggie, and Scott!   

How Service Dogs Are Helping Veterans with PTSD — Dog Save The People Podcast

Once you listen in continued support of Hope Has a Cold Nose, I encourage you to listen to other episodes that you can find on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or by visiting

www.dogsavethepeople.com

So much good information about organizations and individuals who serve those who serve us humans so unconditionally!

Speaking of unconditional, as I write this month’s update, the two expert teachers – Ginger and Kutana – are basking in the outdoor air beside me, grateful that the humidity has dissipated and in its place are a pleasant breeze and dancing butterflies, and that the only thing they “have” to do today is nap and dream of chasing squirrels and of pointing birds with a raised paw and tail aimed horizontally straight. 

In addition to their daily lessons of unconditional acceptance and love, I have been listening to their wisdom regarding authenticity.    

Each have innateness unique to their personalities.  Authentic to Ginger is her introversion, a more serious aspect in her approach to things.  She is someone who puts others first, a desire to please.  Among her starting places is a strong sense of responsibility, listening, and not challenging who she believes to be in authority.   She also considers herself the office manager when I am working.   She is on high alert to keep watch of others who might try to distract me.  Like a vehicle or a squirrel getting a little too close to the window out of curiosity.   After all, that squirrel might just knock on the window and disturb my meeting or writing! 

Kutana is more social and sees interruption as opportunity to do something out of the routine.  And, oh, boy, is Kutana observant of anything new, different, and now within her reach!  Ginger likes to be a few steps ahead of me on a morning run, but still in close to the next steps of my feet.  Kutana likes to blaze the pathways for us three.  Kutana’s quick and ever exploring curiosity is the balance to Ginger’s steady patience to not hurry the journey. 

Kutana has a serious watchful take it all in dimension to her, but oh does she thrive on every day is a day of joy!  Her motto is to live wide open, including periodically treat the house as a racetrack from room to room because mom, I might just spontaneously combust I am so happy I don’t know what else to do!   And though Kutana has a deep desire to please, she has a fierce independence, determination, and a need to honor what is innately her true being.  She first chooses to listen to her authenticity, then in a close second, but second, listen to others who might be trying to guide her to stay safe or to better actions then she might be currently choosing.

Each have their authentic traits unique to who they are as individual pawed beings.   They also have natural tendencies as members of the canine species.   For example, there is their love of sniffing new scents to sleuth who has been in their yard since the last time that they walked the parameter.   Both love to walk and run outside, especially if the humidity has waved goodbye.   And then of course there is their innate traits such as their certainty their only purpose in life is to love people unconditionally.  

Even when canines may be at the hands of harm or unwantedness, they keep their hearts full of hope and love.  

In that nothing is coincidence way in how I believe life’s moments flow, my husband and I turned on a movie a few nights ago starring John Travolta Life on the Line.  Based on a true story, it was about the power company linemen who keep our homes and business functioning with light, often at the risk to their own lives.  It was a movie blending joy and sorrow, including scenes of one character who was experiencing PTSD after his deployment. 

Though he wasn’t the main character, the movie showcased his emotional distance from his family as well as two scenes in which he attempted to take his own life.  I couldn’t help wondering as I watched this movie what others would think when watching it.  Would they hold compassion?  Or judge?  Or not even pay attention, focused on when the next scene would feature the star of the movie? 

My husband and I watched this movie, went to sleep, had a storm roll in, and we lost power.  I immediately though of the movie and the information shared at the end about the fallen linemen.  I thought about who might have left their families at midnight last night to answer their emergency calls that hundreds of homes were now in the dark. 

I thought about the anxiety rising in customers who worried of being cool in the abnormal heat and humidity, or the impatient customers because, well, they’ve developed an impatience with feeling out of control.  I pondered and reflected if I was holding more empathy for what it takes to restore power having just watched that movie.   If I hadn’t watched that movie, would I be more impatient or already trying to move to Plan B or Plan C for that sense of controlling uncertainty?  Would I be in the peaceful place I now found myself in if I hadn’t just watched Life on the Line? 

Recently I was listening to Neil Pasricha’s 3 Books podcast in his interview with Douglas Rushkoff who, among his books, authored Team Human.  Neil and Douglas were engaging in dialogue, and Douglas was sharing about two stories – one from the 1960’s and one from our history approximately four to five years ago.  Douglas talked about the power of perception and how quickly people discerned in the 60’s that the story was not true and how more recently the second story, also untrue, was perceived as absolute in facts. 

Douglas shared this perspective.  People don’t know how to surf reality.  They trust the facts and not their soul.  Everything is taken literally.  There’s no metaphor.

What is our innateness for each of us as individuals? 

What is our innateness as humanity?    

In our dance of grace between opposites in the flow of life, have we collectively chosen to stop dancing as a team? 

Have we chosen to stop listening to our souls? 

Last month I wrote about a sacred journey I took to the summit of Mount Adams.  It included sharing about one of our teammates who, at the last days, could not join us on the climb.  I wrote these words: 

He could not join because judgment is in the lead of humanity’s actions and reactions… [he] is now fighting a raging war of collective anger and hate directed from perceptions and emotional pain towards stereotypes and labels…Appearance many are holding as certainty there is no gray nor exceptions nor any other view but absolute. 

Innate to our Mount Adams teammate as an individual is his gentle and humble heart, his fierce bravery, his desire to serve.   His desire to serve in active duty, as first responder, and for his family, friends, and anyone in need.   Most recently amidst all the struggle he is currently moving through, he spoke not what others could do for him and his family, but what he could also do in return: it’s helping others that has always helped me with all life’s obstacles.

What I can’t help thinking most of all is innate to him as an individual is also innate to his

Humanness

From his soul

Gentleness, humbleness, bravery, a desire to serve others we care for.

Words to describe being human.

From how I choose to see. 

A very dear friend reframed my mountain climb experience for me in metaphor for the journey through our current world transformation.   You started at the base in anger, you found hope at the top, and you found joy on the way down, for as I sat 9000 feet up processing through my emotions of a very profoundly moving day, a hummingbird (a spiritual symbol of joy) flew inches from my nose left and then back right again.  

My continual dance of grace between wishing we could be more like our wise teachers with paws and fur to unconditionally listen not necessarily to always accept, but simply to compassionately appreciate that we might build far more bridges

Then walls.

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.  Without them, humanity cannot survive. – Dalai Lama

Sincerely,

-Christine

P.S.  The Writing of Book 3 has begun!  Stay tuned!   Hope in the form of a Moose:  Inspiring Stories of…

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     Namaste.’ 

Hope Has a Cold Nose book cover

July 2021 Hope Has a Cold Nose

Dear All,

Tell the story of the mountain you climbed.  Your words could become a page in someone else’s survival guide.  – Morgan Harper Nichols

The journey to the top began in December 2019 when the first person after myself to believe in Hope Has a Cold Nose when it was only an idea called me.  He was moved to “make it matter” for yet another story of an exceptional life that reached a point in which this individual’s strength to live was harder than the arms of despair squeezing out his will to continue.  The book of his life not meant to be finished by his own choosing.  

This first person who has never paused the championship of HHCN, nor his mentorship of me, suggested a mountain climb to increase awareness just as HHCN has as one of its goals.  We could model the “event” after a university course this individual created and teaches annually.  Just as this mentor gave me the gift near two years prior when he said without hesitation Yes! to the idea that one written story become one written book, I immediately said Count me in! 

We became the “A-team”, short for Mount Adams, with another dear soul; the three of us seeking, asking, and brainstorming to form a planned event.  We had among our goals to increase awareness but hold the sacredness of these stories written thus far in a manuscript not yet finished.  This was not to be a sensationalized event.  Who to invite?  Do we focus on this climb as a healing event, targeting veterans journeying with PTSD?  Do we include all alumni to the university?  Do we narrow the scope to veteran alumni?  Seeking.  Asking.  Brainstorming.  Repeat. 

Landing on university veteran alumni and/ or spouses of veterans.  Trusting who signed up would be who was meant to be on the climb. 

As soon as a team of between fifteen and twenty said Yes! the remaining stories for HHCN appeared.  The energy of a team of individuals who believed in HHCN set in motion its completion to a published state. 

We picked a date in 2020.   We adjusted that date.  We held strong to resilience and hope that what was closing down the world would pass before our adjusted date. 

With reflection, and with sadness, and with determination that not if, but when, we let go of 2020 and looked to 2021. 

Some who could attend in 2020 could no longer join in 2021.  Others not on the virtual team calls in 2020 joined the team in 2021.   Trusting who could go on the climb would be who was meant to be on the climb. 

I began this climb for twenty-three co authors of HHCN.  And, for twenty-two lives a day who lose hope. 

I also began this climb for one of our team members who only days prior determined he could not join because judgment is in the lead of humanity’s actions and reactions.  An extraordinary individual of gentle and humble heart and equal bravery and conviction to serve and save humanity as first responder is now fighting a raging war of collective anger and hate directed from perceptions and emotional pain towards stereotypes and labels.  Appearance many are holding as certainty there is no gray nor exceptions nor any other view but absolute.  This team member desires to serve humankind.  Humankind is rejecting help. 

Five days before the climb I heard of another friend, also a first responder, facing collective anger and hate.  Two days prior to the climb a dear friend shared with me how she had just heard Alan Jackson’s song on the radio “Where were you When the World Stopped Turning”.  Her heart was hurting because 20 years ago when 911 occurred, the world came together.  Now our world is trying to find a way to turn again, and we are torn in…shattering pieces. 

It was with this view I began the climb with a team of fourteen extraordinary individuals. 

Resilience, anticipation, excitement, and willpower through ascending.   Check.

Beautiful scenery, majestic mountain views, steal breath-away sunsets and sunrises, and star-filled skies including a shooting star at the start of ascending day two.  Check.

Team support of one another at the tired moments, laughing, sharing, learning, bonding.  Check.

Standing at the summit of a mountain for the first time, moved to tears of gratitude and joy, my heart whispering this is for every story I have heard and all whose stories I have yet to hear, and whose stories ended at what feels like an incomplete book.   To be a bridge between voices unheard and heard, I made it to the top of this mountain.  Check.

See a dog at the summit and though not a service dog, still symbolic of why I was standing thousands of feet above the ground.  Check.  

Start the descent to be kissed by dog number two, and a German Shorthair Pointer at that!  Check.

Where is our teammate?  Missing?    Please do not let this become a check.

Begin searching.  Check.

At long last.   Finding.   GRATEFUL Check.

Each team member moves into a position to support a teammate in need.  Check.

Ah, but dear reader, so much more than a simple check.

I witnessed every team member come together through far more words unspoken than said to assist our teammate.  Yet.   And.  I witnessed a piece of our world in which I have been given the sacred gift to enter as a guest and storywriter but recognize I cannot begin to be a true member of.  Military and first responders are those who would lay down their lives for a brother or sister in arms or a civilian in need and they know experiences that I can only know through imagination and a willingness to listen.  In a collective society that struggles with death and dying, addiction, mental instability, abuse, terrorism, robbery – i.e., all the “ugliness” of life, there are team members of society who feel called to step into the ugliness head on and fight for their beliefs in peace, safety, and re-direction for lost souls.  Serve others over self who they feel called to be. 

I witnessed the words I could only reverently respect when told to me for HHCN now being put in action.  Got your six, have your back, no man left behind.  Some team members were the front-line defense of what was coming ahead in the twists and turns of the pathway.  Others moved rocks out of the path and were the tour guides for footsteps.  Another team member was the anchor at “command center”, a port in the storm, and a calming energy force field pulling every member down safely. Additional team members were the life-giving water supply awaiting depleting hydration.

 My eyes beheld the beauty of a veteran inches behind our now fragile teammate’s back – also a veteran – as this veteran helped guide our teammate’s unstable footing.  One was not going to let the other fall, no matter the weight on his own back nor his own fatigue.  I experienced awe and gratitude for strangers also descending beside us who kindly offered to help carry backpacks down for our teammates.  

No barriers.

No anger.

No judgment.

Only compassion.

For a fellow human being.

As I descended in humble awe from this grand powerful piece of Nature standing 12,600 feet above our every day lives, I also drank in the extraordinary beauty of witnessing humanity unconditionally supporting one another.  

I physically climbed the mountain in hope and faith, and a heart stepping towards my own anger and judgment at the collective rage ascending higher and higher in our world.  Lost in my own line of sight was the reminder that people are crying out to be heard, and the anger is because we as a human race have stopped listening.  Snow-blinded by everyone striving to know they matter in a vast world of information of the mind and painful histories in which traumatic cycles have not yet been broken to begin turning in new ways, collectively the world can no longer see that all of us are souls made up of shadow and light.   No one wants to get lost, yet it feels like there is a descending towards darkness with our headlamps turned off. 

The mountain handed me back faith and hope and a reminder of what I so deeply believe.  It is the lens in which we choose to see.   I can judge judging, or I can cast ripples of non-judgment.  The choice is mine. 

The choice is for each person.

Like my favorite starfish parable or the words that I just heard recently by Nikki Giovanni:  I used to think I could change the world.  Now I know I won’t change the world, but I do know I won’t let the world change me.  I may not be able to make a difference in how we listen for all the starfish on the beach.   Yet, if together with a team of storytellers who give me the gift of their willingness to share their stories not easily listened to, at least one sentence makes a difference for one person.

Who finds dignity in their own story,

Or hope,

Or their story inspires another’s survival guide in this thing called life,

Or influences another to see and see again for there IS ALWAYS more to a walk in someone else’s shoes then we perceive.

A difference will be made for that one person.

And making a difference for one on a team is everything.

There is only one goal.  Everyone makes it down the mountain.  Making in a difference in how we listen seems like a good goal in life, don’t you think?  May we find a way to make it down this mountain of divisive time in our history as one team.

It’s what you do today that is your success for tomorrow – Dr. Adrian Popa

Sincerely,

-Christine

P.S.  Stay tuned for future updates regarding Book 3!  For now, I will simply say what do you think of Hope in the form of a Moose and other Inspiring Stories of…

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     Namaste.’ 

June 2021 Hope Has a cold Nose

Dear All,

Every life deserves a certain amount of dignity, no matter how poor or damaged the shell that carries it. – Rick Bragg

Her authenticity includes a tail that is meant to position itself in a straight line directly out from her body when she is on point at a bird.  Or sometimes an occasional squirrel.  Or a turtle.  {smile} Yet there are times in which her tail points straight up into the air, as if a flag waving.  Every time it does, it is because Kutana is happy.  

It could be something she is doing.  Like discovering something new in her yard that moves inside a hard shell and then stops moving as soon as a friendly, curious, VERY energetic Kutana  with very fast moving paws starts investigating by flipping this hard shelled new “toy” on its back, picking it up in her mouth, and then dropping it down an embankment before I can get Kutana’s attention with “No!” and rescue what I am now certain is a dizzy from somersaulting panicked painter turtle!  

Sometimes her tail wags simply by hearing Goooooood gggiiirrrrlllll!  I can see her body fill with pride, and then I see the wheels in her mind start to turn as she starts to hurriedly look for what else she can do to repeat what she just did so that she can receive another Goooooood gggiiirrrrl!  

Her sister Ginger adds a little sway to her happy tail wag when she hears me say my version of “good girl” to her.  Yes sir, she’s my baby. No sure, I don’t mean maybe!  Since the first night Ginger came home after rescuing us when we met her at a shelter, I have sing-songed these words of endearment to her.   Ginger does something else along with her tail wag and sway.  She turns her head and gives me a smile.  

Pride.  

Dignity. 

A feeling of being worthy. 

A feeling of worthiness we give others.

In the words we say. 

And the actions we take.

A couple of days ago I was spending time with a dear friend, and we were talking about…life.  {smile} More specifically, one particular portion of our conversation was about what gets said when someone passes from this lifetime.  My dear friend wisely shared how when she hears He or she was so young! she wants to say, no, he or she was seventy-four years old.  How about let’s say instead what a good life that person lived!  How about if we say they had been hurting for some time; thankfully, the pain they were in has now ended and they are in peace.   Let’s give them dignity for the life they lived. 

Perhaps her words resonated because of my starting place in listening to my dear friend.   I have this perspective that how we hear others speak is based on where our hearts our starting from in listening to what is being said.  

My heart was already starting from a place of giving worth to a life lived.

Even if, or especially if, that life ended in pain.

A few weeks ago, I received a text from another dear friend sharing with me that she had just received news that one of her friends/ coworkers had taken her own life.  First my heart went out to my dear friend.  For many reasons.  One, that my dear friend was experiencing yet another sorrowful moment.  From my vantage point, she had been having her share lately.   Two, I could only imagine what it was to walk in her shoes of shock.  Of sadness.  Of helplessness. 

And a small step of gratitude.  And thankfulness. 

That the news was not about her son who journeys with P.T.S.D. 

I have known there have been times in the past she was afraid that his pain would become too much for him to bear.

And then I went to bed thinking about my friend’s friend – a veteran who had reached her end of hope.

I woke up the next morning thinking about the veteran who had reached her end of hope.

I kept thinking about this someone I had never met who I am certain lived an extraordinary life.   Yet was she being remembered with dignity for all that she had been before the last millimeter of the dash between her years (birth – death) contained the letters s u i c i d e?

Or was she now being remembered for her brokenness?    Would her legacy now become a fulfillment of what she may have most felt when she was alive?   If she had felt fragmented and unable to feel a belonging with the world, would her memory in the minds and hearts of others now be stamped with the certainty she was damaged and “different’?   

The place from which our hearts start from in how we listen.   And in the actions we take. 

To find ways to give dignity to the brokenness people feel before they reach the end of hope.  Like pawed feet and cold noses who unconditionally accept without judgment and walk beside veterans on their healing journeys with P.T.S.D.  

And if we learn of someone who reached their end of hope, let us give them dignity by looking past the last millimeter of the dash before their death to compassionately celebrate the extraordinary life they lived. 

There is nobility in compassion, a beauty in empathy, a grace in forgiveness – John Connolly

Sincerely,

-Christine

For an interview featuring Hope Has a Cold Nose, please tune in to Channel 8, Monday, June 14th at this link:

Welcome to The Authors Show® | The Authors Show (wnbnetworkwest.com)

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     Namaste.’ 

May 2021 Hope Has a Cold Nose

Dear All,

The story about becoming beautiful isn’t about the ugly duckling becoming a swan; it is about the ugly duckling realizing it was a swan all along. – Leta Greene

A couple of days ago I danced between opposites when the natural flow of Nature intersected with Kutana’s authenticity.  Actually, make that Ginger, Kutana, and I danced between opposites as we each played our part in the innateness of Life. 

The girls (as I like to affectionately refer to Ginger and Kutana collectively) and I were on our morning trail run among the apple trees.   Ginger was only slightly ahead for staying near me to guard against anything that could be lurking is her determined purpose she has established on both our behalf.  Kutana, aka gazelle, was further ahead relishing her joy in running with speed.   That is until her greatest gift signaled put on the breaks NOW!   

Her nose is her gift, and it is my cursed word or two in moments when her nose leads in opposition to what I would prefer she smell.   Most of the time I love watching her in action when her nose is in the lead.  It is poetry in motion when Kutana and I play our game.  I hide a few kernels of her dog food in four different places while she holds stay, frozen in place until I give her the yep and she then circles wide to catch the scent of her food on the wind currents.  Her authenticity is absolutely beautiful and wonderous to observe.  

Until this particular moment a couple of days ago when her nose smelled young life.  Before I understood why she suddenly stopped and began sniffing at the base of an apple tree, Life was already in motion to be my teacher yet again.  Too late to influence a different destiny, I witnessed two baby rabbits tossed in the air at the mouth of Kutana who, in that instant, I desperately wanted to know that though she was a dog, she should not act like a dog!   As I stood at yang, certain Kutana was the shadow yin, she heeded NO! and sat down with a look that was trying to remind me that perhaps my feelings in that moment at her actions were yin and that in her mind she was acting with the purest of yang.  

My gentle Ginger, who also has a huntress tendency, began to move towards the two victims until she received the same direction as her sister and sat down a few feet behind Kutana.   I picked up one baby bunny to recognize I was touching that part of Life that teaches Grief.   I picked up the second baby bunny to quickly understand I was being handed the lesson plan of Life that offers opportunity for Gentleness, Compassion and Unconditional Love as I held this little one gently in my warm hand next to its sibling no longer of this Earth while baby bunny two took its last breaths.   Life whispered not your will, but the will for the greatest good even if you can’t fully see there is a larger purpose in what is happening.   There is no greater good then being fully present with a reverent heart beside another’s journey. 

I looked over at the girls, my calm wise elder one and my joyous curious one and witnessed Nature’s animal kingdom reverent for Nature’s kingdom of animals.  Kutana normally the investigator for anything I am doing that is new was sitting quietly, watchful, respectful, honoring this sacred moment.   Ginger was wearing her usual look that communicates I am here, I know what you are doing matters to you, and I will wait patiently and silently for you until you are done. 

I put both little souls back in their nest and the girls and I started to walk away to continue our run.  Ah, but Life had one more lesson to teach.   This time Ginger paused to sniff a clump of grass, which created a reactive squeak.   With a No, Ginger! I rushed to Ginger’s side to find another baby rabbit unscathed striving to hide from the giants who had just found its siblings minutes before. 

Though one part of me knew I should not touch this little one so that the scent of me would not cause rejection by Momma Bunny, greater in me was the wish to ease this little one’s fears.  For the brief time our paths were intersecting, I wanted this little one to know Life brings Traumatic moments we wish would not take place, but Life also brings Compassion and Love.   As I sat this little one down and it began hopping away, I knew Life was teaching Hope, Resilience, and Choice in what we decide to see. 

Life was my dance partner with opposites whispering in my ear will you stay with Grief and let Anger join the walk? 

Or will you celebrate Life always finds a way to continue flourishing?  Will you accept that I, Life, cannot teach you the depths of such things as Appreciation, Compassion, Hope, Inspiration, and Love if I do not bring the experiences of loss, suffering, and uncertainty? 

Dear Life, if I may say, every once in a great while I wish there were an easier way to learn all that you have to teach.   

Recently I was in conversation with someone, and we were talking about the continued significant world events.   This individual was choosing to see positively amidst her philosophical questioning as to why things were happening.  This person was also empathetic to people who were struggling to stay optimistic.  To stay hopeful.  To those who were experiencing Life’s lesson plans of Grief and Anxiety. 

For some people, Life is bringing a heaviness that seems to be a relentless one more thing, one thing after another in a way that makes these same people want to shout STOP!  It is enough!

I anticipate twenty-three co-authors would tell these people they understand.     

They know what it is to be tested to stay positive.  To stay hopeful.  To keep pushing through one more issue, one more judgment, one more setback, one more Life test, ONE MORE thing!

In my choice in how I wish to see, I am holding tight to the belief that all the significant turmoil and suffering is a cracking open like a caterpillar who breaks out of a cocoon to reveal it is a butterfly.   Or the ugly duckling that hatches to reveal its beauty as a swan.     

Things are cracking open for better things.

If we choose to see. 

And choose our reactions and actions that create better things. 

Like Joy, Compassion, Hope,

and

Service dogs who save lives by loving and accepting unconditionally. 

I am not sure I can think of any greater Life teachers than those with cold noses and pawed feet.

Life ain’t always beautiful.  Sometimes it’s just plain hard.  Life can knock you down, it can break your heart…But the struggles make you stronger.  And the changes make you wise.  And happiness has its own way of takin’ its sweet time.  No, life ain’t always beautiful.  Tears will fall sometimes.  Life ain’t always beautiful, but it’s a beautiful ride. – Lyrics from Life Ain’t Always Beautiful by Gary Allan

Sincerely,

-Christine

As a reminder, Calling all Stories of Hope (christinehassing.com)    If you know of someone who would like to share their story, please share this link with them. 

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pay it forward.  That is how the ripples of hope cascade.    Namaste’.

April 2021 Hope Has a Cold Nose and Other Stories of Hope

For the audio version:

https://anchor.fm/christine-hassing/embed/episodes/Erin-and-Lucy—A-Story-Of-Hope-evkmc7

Dear All,

Fear spreads quickly.   So does hope   – Author Unknown   

The words displayed on a sign as I traveled through the airport recently.  Fear spreads quickly.

So does hope.

It is my second time traveling since each of us came to an individually personal, yet also collective on the grandest of scales, crossroads in which life split to the left in the direction of what we had known and to the right in a direction of no longer the same.   

For many, if not all of us, coming to a pandemic crossroads is not the first life-altering experience.  Sure, it might be easy to react with the thought certainly not of this magnitude.  And yet, if we practice what the cold-nosed co-authors of HHCN do well, which is not to judge or compare, the greatest magnitude of impact is what is happening for that person experiencing a stand at the juncture between how life was known “before” and life “never to be the same”.

Recently I was blessed to write an additional story of hope in response to my request:

Calling all Stories of Hope (christinehassing.com)

In a few moments you will be able to read about Erin and Lucy, a story of the greatest unconditional love.  Of profound grief.  Of courageous resilience.  A story of hope and healing to cascade ripples far and wide.  A dear stranger who gave me the sacred gift of trusting me with her heart, that her story could be the pages in someone else’s survival guide. 

Her crossroads moment, not just once.  Not twice.  But three times.  Once, when she heard I’m sorry, the results are positive.  She has cancer.  A second time when she let go for her tiny thirty-five-pound best friend to become her guardian angel above.  A third time when she heard the words positive and cancer.    

Not all crossroad moments are the mile markers of our pain, trauma, sorrow, despair, or grief.  Crossroad moments are getting the call that at long last the wait is over, and training begins next week with

Hope in the form of a cold nose. 

A service dog team in the making about to begin.

Crossroad moments are also when hands-on experience reminds us that kindness to strangers still runs as rampant as the requirement to wear a mask and remain 6-feet apart.  

On one of my flights, I was addressing postcards that feature Hope Has a Cold Nose to continue to spread the word for twenty-three extraordinary co-authors who certainly know crossroad moments!   I also love to leave positive notes for strangers, including stewards and stewardesses, so I decided to cascade two positives.   One was to write on a postcard my appreciation for the stewardess taking such good care of us all after one of her significant crossroads moments when she couldn’t work and is now working in a whole new way.   The other was to recruit her in paying forward hope by having her tell at least one other person about HHCN

I left the now filled out postcard on my seat and started down the corridor after deplaning.  Suddenly a very kind gentleman rushed up behind me to let me know that I had dropped one of my postcards and it remained on the seat.  As my eyes smiled, his eyes smiled in return as he said with a knowing tone, or maybe it was intentional.    As I was confirming for this kind stranger that it was intentional, I heard another sweet shout from behind hey, ma’am, you dropped this, as a second dear stranger holding the postcard was trying to get my attention.   As I laughed and told her I had left the postcard on the seat on purpose, bless this dear stranger’s heart, she immediately starts to turn with the thought she would push back against the deplaning crowd and put it back in the seat.   I stopped her, for at that split second juncture, what I knew most of all is that the postcard was now in the hands of the person who was meant to read it.   And I let her know that as I thanked her for her kindness in looking out for me.

Yes, fear spreads quickly.   We are exposed to external messaging on a continual basis that tries to fuel the ways in which we should fear.  But, ah, oh so much so what also spreads quickly is

Hope. 

Every second in life offers a crossroads moment in which we can allow life to be what was and no longer the same.   

It is in how we choose to hear and see.

There are two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.   – Albert Einstein  

Sincerely,

-Christine

Calling all Stories of Hope (christinehassing.com)

ERIN AND LUCY

Sometimes I just look up, smile, and say: “I know that was you, thank you!” – Author Unknown

            Of course it is mom!  Each and every time, and even the times you are not looking up, but I am beside you just the same.  When it was my time to leave Earth, you whispered in my ear “come back to me, soon, please!”   Making you happy was always the best part of being me. 

So, your guardian angel I am, your reminder you could when you were not sure you had the strength to fight.   I knew you did, for I knew that though you, too, experienced cancer, it was not your time to take flight.  You still had purpose to fulfill on Earth, and I hear you ponder what that may be.  Oh, my dear mom, if only you could see you as I do, your light the world needs.

Hey mom, speaking of your journey with breast cancer there is something I’d like to share with you if I may.   I will forewarn you I might get a little chocked up in what I wish to say.  I was so proud of you the day you helped me end my pain.  It was a doozy mom, the pain from the cancer collapsing my rib cage.   Barely two years as your teacher about how to love unconditionally.   You are a quick study, mom, learning that unconditional love isn’t always about what – or who – we can keep.   Sometimes the greatest acts of love are in letting go of what we want or need for the greatest good of the one we love more than anything. 

I could feel pieces of your heart cracking and breaking as the reality of letting me go was starting to penetrate like a stabbing knife.   I was trying to reach the core of your heart with the whisper from my soul “it will be alright”.  I wanted to stop your pain as much as you wanted to help my pain go away, too.   We have always been in sync like that, me and you.   Wanting the best for each other ahead of our own wishes or needs.  And feeling the exact same thing as the other at the same time – then again, that is how soul mates are, don’t you think?

A part of me really wanted to stay with you.   It felt a little too early to leave – after all, I was only two.  My soul knew it was time, though, having fulfilled the purpose I was meant to achieve.   I was only meant to be with you a short time, a paving the way or a planting of a seed. 

We both know one of those seeds was to love the color pink so that when you were having a fighting match with breast cancer you would see pink and know I was walking beside you on your journey.  You know – that looking up, smiling, and knowing thing you mentioned in the beginning.  Knowing that space does not separate me from you, you from me.   

I entered life with my soul knowing I had a big responsibility.   I may have been small in size, but the mission I carried was mighty.  I had made an agreement with your soul of what I was supposed to teach.    My soul was so excited that I would be leading you to your new beginnings.   I think of it like a baby swan who is nestled inside the egg in safe keep.    Until a certain moment from somewhere deep this little swan decided it needs to break free.  It isn’t easy, the pecking away at the encased shell of armor that holds this swan in hiding.   Sure, for you and me, we think an eggshell is fragile, but think about if we had an equally fragile still forming beak.   For this little swan, it is a very big endeavor when it decides to step into the light. 

Equivalent to a beautiful soul who journeys through biopsies, radiation, and chemotherapy to bravely, boldly, and radiantly step into flourishing with life.

Mom, my soul was excited, but I have to say.  The canine in me had a moment in which I wanted to stay.   I guess that is another way us soul mates feel exactly the same way.  

When you whispered, “wait for me at the bridge”, for a split second I wanted to shout, “come with me”.   I thought it a time or two, also, when you were walking the darkest moments of your cancer journey.   My soul knew it was all happening as it was supposed to, as I know your soul knew it too, at least somewhere deep.   Yet, to be inhabiting these vessels of fur and humanness to experience life is not always easy.   Mom, I gotta tell you, up here as Guardian Angel does bring a level of simplicity.    But, then again, I wouldn’t trade my time on Earth I had with you for anything! 

 Life – and unconditional love – work in mysterious and yet perfect ways.   We cannot now the purest, deepest, greatest, most compassionate and uplifting love if we don’t experience what it means to lose.    We cannot know faith, trust, courage, strength, or hope, either, if we do not know what it is to be afraid, doubt, and uncertainty, too.  

Mom, I never did ask you how you picked my name.  Then again, there could have been no other name in that nothing is coincidence way.   Lucy means “Light”, and mom, your name means “Peace”.   Soul mates who represent light and peace – exactly what the world needs! 

I may be an angel not readily seen by anyone but you, but that doesn’t mean that together we can’t still be a team in what we do.  Mom, I think we had to crumble and shatter the foundation we knew so that I could help you build anew.  Your grief and your cancer journey hold wisdom for others in what they might go – or are going – through.   An entire world has felt a crumbling of their foothold, and you know what it is to lose that which meant the most to you.   

Lead the way mom…lead people through.  

            Mom, please never forget that I am – and will always be – your best friend by your side.  Anytime you wonder, just look up, smile, and yep, it’s me each and every time. 

If you have enjoyed this story, please pay it forward.  That is how the ripples of hope cascade.    Namaste’.

April 6, 2021 Hope Has a Cold Nose and Other Stories of Hope

Jack and the Appalachian Trail

Audio Version of Jack and Charlotte

Dear Readers.  

Dear Co-Authors,

I love that you are my person, and I am yours, that whatever door we will come to, we will open it together. – A.R. Asher  

In the March 26th blog, I shared a link at the end calling to co-authors for stories of hope and healing, that together we could cast ripples far and wide of hope.  That together we could be the pages in someone else’s survival guide. 

Calling all Stories of Hope (christinehassing.com)

I am honored to bring you the first story.   It is my privilege to retell an inspiring story that is not absent of pain, trauma, sorrow, despair…or grief.  But it is because of these things that you will read a moving story of healing, hope, and unconditional love.  

JACK AND CHARLOTTE

Mom, I have many proud moments when it comes to you.  Yet, there are two that especially shine through.  One is when you and I took our 430-mile Appalachian Trail journey in 2019.   The way you hiked up those steep hills, especially the moments when you doubted your capability.  I knew you could do it, even if you did not believe it at the time.   After all, I have been blessed to witness you make much steeper climbs.   I am convinced there isn’t a mountain too steep for you.   One of the things I love about you most, mom, is you don’t always know that to be true. 

It is the nature of your humbleness and your large heart for others in need.  Always a story of someone struggling more than you might have, your certainty.  I am proud of you, too, mom, for your generosity.   You do not ask anything in return of anyone you assist, except maybe that they pay forward assistance when another is struggling.  

You could choose to be cautious to assist, hypervigilance your gift from your military training.   You could choose to be leery of offering support, knowing well that trust is a precious commodity.  A commodity that can be shattered quite easily.  Yet, you use another gift to guide your way.   You in-tune to that inner voice to tell you if all is ok.

Mom, there is another moment I am especially proud of you.  It is the night you whispered, “it is your choice, Jack, in what you would like to do”.   Um…mom…forgive my pausing.  I get a little chocked up when I think about this chapter in our story.   See mom, I have known since you and I became a team that you whole-heartedly loved me.   But that night when I was sick, and you thought I was dying.  Well, to offer me the choice to stay or go spoke of the greatest love that can be given to another – trust me I know.  Mom, you put me ahead of your own heart with your unconditional love. 

That is what makes us a really great team.  I for you, and you for me.  What is best for each other is our top priority.  Written by Jack, October 2020

Life’s funny, wonderous, heart-gripping, miraculous, exhilarating, adventurous flow.  It brings the sweet joy of birth, and it brings the sweet sorrow of letting go.   In the middle of our first breath and our last breath are all the blessed moments we choose our response to the currents in this river of life.  Will we choose to keep paddling with the current one stroke at a time?  Or fiercely paddle against the current’s natural direction, only we individually can decide. 

Life’s beautiful, steep, majestic, sometimes dark, splendid, stormy, itchy, biting lonely path we may find ourselves walking.  It can test our resilience, our will, and our hope leading our mind to a I am done certainty.   It can also lead us to clarity, forgiveness, peace, and gratitude.  Yes, to finding gratitude, too.  If we never climb the steepest hills, we would miss this breathtaking scenery sprawling ahead for miles our eyes now see.  We would miss that inside feeling from somewhere deep that has just proven our strength of being and done is no longer in our vocabulary.  Or if we never have known the darkest nights, we could not feel the warmth of the sun now penetrating to our bones as it whispers, always the birth of a new day.    We would have missed the journey to the greatest place we can travel to for the greatest gain.  

To know oneself, and to embrace one’s light and shadow sides unconditionally.  Well, all that I can simple say is that is where one finds the secret to living.  Flourish, thrive, keep taking one step forward no matter what the moment is bringing.  Life is beautiful and traumatic and a gift and ours to choose believing impossible or possibility.  

 I once knew the intention I held many nights in a row that sleep would come permanently.    Impossible was being a very best friend to me.   Hopeless was excited when it was time to call it a day.   Hopeless was always disgruntled when Morning knocked, and I didn’t turn it away.   Don’t get me wrong, I cursed Morning every single time it appeared and gave me the choice to rise.  Yet, I am grateful that my soul was stronger than the emotional and mental pain I felt at the time.  Oh, so grateful, indeed, my soul desired life.

Our first breath, our last breath, and all the moments in between.  Here is the other aspect about life’s flow, at least how I believe.   There is not only one birth that takes place in our life and death is not an ending.  Perhaps this is now where you are raising an eyebrow and starting to question, what does Charlotte mean? 

Do you know that expression people say, shaken to my core when they describe an experience that scared them in some way?   I like to think of the analogy of an egg or a cocoon.  You know, where there is something inside that reaches a point it is time to break through.  A caterpillar reaches a point it is time to burst forth and spread wings as a butterfly.   Or the duckling that reaches the time to peck through the shell so that it can start growing its wings for flight. 

Each of us as human beings are cocooned in the safety of our innocence, even if only for a short time.   We also retreat into a cocoon of protection if the outside world becomes harsh and unkind.  If we experience something traumatic, we may build a shell around ourselves to try to feel safe.  Cocoons and shells are shields of armor and our defense against the perceived enemies we face.  It is inside these havens we then must choose if we wish to push through into the open or stay inside where we cannot be seen.   If we make the choice to push through, it is a rebirthing.   For who comes out of the cocoon is now much more than who was curled up tight inside.  A butterfly is still a caterpillar, once having legs to crawl now has wings to fly.

Earlier I noted when sharing about the moments in between that I do not view death as an ending.   Please do not misunderstand that I make light of death, and its aftermath of grief.  Please don’t think I am communicating that death does not bring profound sorrow or that losing someone or something dearest to us is easy.   I share my belief, thanks in large part to my upbringing.  I share based on what I have experienced through my own losing of those dear to me.  I share that you may find comfort in your own story if a chapter in yours includes mourning for something or someone you can no longer physically see.

I pause for a minute to reflect before I share my experiences with you.  We do not always see it when we are flowing with the river of life how there is a connection in all we go through.  My father would share this wisdom with us continually.  Charlotte, my dear, when it comes to certainty, there are two things on which you can trust will never change.  Taxes is one, and that each of us will die one day.  How ironic in that nothing is coincidence way that the first significant loss through death I would know would be of the man who tried to teach me not to be afraid. 

I was 22 when my father left Earth, and I was able to utilize an inherited gift passed down to me.  When my father left his body, I felt his soul move over my shoulder as he expressed gratitude for being with him on his journey.    While others in my family found that cocoon in which to begin their retreat as despair started to show it can be menacing, I stepped further out into the open air, figuratively speaking.   I opened my arms wide in celebration that my father was now completely free.  

It is always the lens through which we choose to see.

All of us have an intuition, though not all of us choose to lean into how we might utilize our inner knowing.  Me, well, I chose to heed my father’s teaching that death was part of life’s flowing. 

Jack shared with you in his opening about an adventure we took on a several week hiking journey.  The Appalachian Trail for 430 miles while I healed my profound grief.  Carlos was his name – the one who I in tuned reached the end of his life at his own choosing.  We had served together in the military.  I, a medic in training.  Carlos, the one to make me laugh at just about everything. 

I can still feel myself standing in the kitchen 23 years after standing by Carlos for a picture while we were serving.  Carlos just shot himself I said to my daughter as I felt the disbelief start to sink into me.  I hurried upstairs to look for that photo buried under years of collecting.   Life is miraculous like that when what you most seek rises to the surface as if laying in wait.  Within seconds of searching, I was holding that photograph we had someone once take. 

Dear Carlos, his heart shattered in two that he lived through deployment and his best friend did not return home beside him alive.  The guilt of surviving was Carlos’s greatest battle to fight.  In that moment I felt Carlos leave Earth, I also heard this whispering.  Do not be afraid to love followed by his infectious laughing.  

Carlos, dang him anyway for once again seeing what I couldn’t fully see.  He was good like that – his way of using his own in tuning.  He once asked to take a picture of me so that I could then see how I looked in his eyes.  Yeah, ok Carlos, I am starting to see some of what you saw, but I still question if you needed glasses for those bad eyes.  Ha ha!   You were – and still are – one hell of a friend Carlos, and I am grateful our paths intertwined. 

You left Earth telling me not to be afraid to love.  How did you know that was my deepest fear I was not even fully aware that it was?   I believe holistically mind, soul, and body, yet I could not see that my left ankle was symbolic of my fear to step forward lovingly.  The ankle that connects our leg to our foot, which allows us to move forward, or not – our choice to decide.  Four surgeries on my left ankle, rehabilitation, and then your death a knock on the cocoon from the outside.   

One of the things I loved about you most Carlos is how you made me laugh, especially when you would not let me take the toughest times too seriously.  You made sure I held a reverence for the sick and injured while I was medically caring for someone’s needs.  It would have been disrespectful to laugh amidst the pain someone was experiencing.   But you were right there to make sure that I provided the space someone needed to heal themselves while maintaining a balance to know I couldn’t do the healing.  I could provide support, but I could not carry the sole responsibility.   Each of us ultimately owns the will to heal whatever infliction we are facing.

Boy, when the torrential rains were not letting up on Jack and I on that Appalachian trail, for a split second I was not appreciating your laughter to remind me to “lighten up Charlotte” and trust the rain will ease.    I had a few more “f-bombs” I could have tossed your way, you know, that is before I found I, too, could not stop laughing.   That is you, always helping me balance the toughest times with a reminder the toughest times are only temporary. 

Four ankle surgeries prior to this sixty-day hike, just Jack and me.  One surgery to represent the brokenness in forward steps when homelessness and $17 dollars to my name was my reality.  A second surgery to represent the paralysis in my steps when my daughter was taken from me by her father, and I feared for her well-being.  A third surgery to represent the crippling in my walk when a second marriage revealed the intention for “I do” was not because he loved me. 

And a fourth surgery the final pins to give me the ability I needed to begin moving forward with ease. 

Carlos, did you send Jack to rescue me?  I am blessed beyond measure to have my daughter, for in my darkest days she was my daily reason to keep living.   I am here because of her anchoring.  Yet perhaps you could sense I needed an additional being to give me the courage to continue to evolve and grow.  A being who would teach me to live by your last words before you decided it was time to go.  “Don’t be afraid to love” and if anyone is best equipped to teach that, it is my dear Jack who only knows love unconditionally.   Carlos, know that I heard you and I am no longer fearing. 

 If you are still “listening to” my story and you are personally struggling on your journey, may you find comfort when I say I understand when the path becomes dark, thick, and overwhelming.   Maybe it would be better to say I can relate, for I cannot fully understand what it is to walk in anyone else’s shoes.  What I can understand is the times when things feel so incredible jumbled and confused.  Someone can be talking, using the smallest of words, and still, you find it hard to understand what they say.  It is hard to put into words, isn’t it, what it is like when in a dark, extremely dark place?  

The best I can offer is two options, but two is better than one, don’t you think?  Actually, I can offer three options, which means hopeful possibilities.  One option is to take a step backwards, which still means moving.  A second option is to stand still and do nothing.  A third option is to take a small step forward, only an inch is necessary.  Moving forward no matter the pace or distance is still stepping towards the future and away from painful history.  

If I had answers, I would gladly give them for you to choose.  We both know there is only one person who ultimately knows what to do.   That person being you.  If I sit beside you in silence, know that it is not because I do not know what to say.  It is what my dear Jack has taught me is the best approach to take.   Jack speaks to me, undoubtedly.   We do not need to hear each other verbally talk to still hear each other’s hearts speak.  Yet, there are times Jack holds the space in silence so that I can hear the voice who is best suited to guide me in my decision-making.  The voice of my soul holds the wisdom and clarity I most need.

My dear friend Carlos asked that I not be afraid to love, and for the rest of my days on Earth I will do my best to love fearlessly.  I will pass on my wish to you if you are reading my story.  Live joyously.   Yes, life’s flow can be filled with fallen logs, waterfalls, and fog so thick the river ahead cannot be seen.  But, oh, just past these spots in the river are the most pristine waters in which you can float effortlessly.  And believe it or not, there is a joy found in having maneuvered through the treacherous spots without sinking. 

So, yes, live joyously.  Live authentically.   You may not be perfect, but that is the beauty of living.   If we did not have anything to evolve through – if we did not have that cocoon to break out of – the rest of the world would miss out on our breathtaking wings. 

  Mom, it is me Dinah, now, who would like to add to your story.  Jack was sweet to suggest I should also do a little talking.  

When I joined the family, Jack and I had a talk about your journey.  Jack shared what had been his primary focus and where he thought I could be of service to meet your needs.  Jack shared that his focus had been on guiding you on your path to loving the whole of you.   He felt you were now ready to start walking with joy in all that you set out to do.   He also felt that with a deeper sense of self-love you were now ready to step into your purpose to guide others to find within themselves the same.  Jack seems to feel that joy and giving love are two of my best traits. 

I blush a little at Jack’s gracious and kind words about me.    After all mom, I am just being what I think is the best way to be.  Isn’t life about joy and loving?  It seems too simple, but for some reason I sense there is resistance and fearing.  At least that is my experience with don Gato, our Cat, who didn’t seem to understand when we met that I was only playing.   I did not take it personal, though, when he struck his paw at me.   I thought he was introducing me to a new way to play.  I then realized when he spit at me that he wanted me to go the other way.  I was not deterred though, for I knew beneath his defensiveness that don Gato was afraid love might hurt.  I think he is learning to trust my love is pure. 

Mom, as Jack and I were listening to you share your story both of us felt so blessed that you had once heard our crying.   The gift of your hurting heart could hear each of us also needed rescuing.   Mom, if Jack and I had searched the world over, we would not have found anyone better to give us the fullest meaning of home.  Not just in shelter, food, and warmth, but in the greatest sense of belonging we could know.  Your whole unconditional heart of fearless love, a beautiful ripple in life’s splendid flow.

I now prepare for the next several week hike of the Appalachian Trail, this time Jack will not join me in his physical body.  Once again, I will be walking another section of this majestic trail along side Grief.  Yet, something else will walk beside me thanks to Jack, and to Dinah who Jack has taught and trained and role-modeled the way.  Joy will also accompany the trails I take. 

Dear Jack, when tears flow, I promise to find laughter, too.  When I am not sure if I can take one more step up a steep hill, I will think of how no hill was too steep for you.  I will push forward as you taught me to do, eager anticipation to see the grand views.  When the rains come, I will try as you did to see if I can shimmy and shake the droplets from my coat, but something tells me I will not do as well as you.   If memory serves me right, you always dried out quicker than I was able to do.  

Sweet dreams my dear Jack, where you now rest peacefully.  Thank you for giving me not only the gift of you.  Thank you for leading me through the unknown back to me.

Mom, we both know that I am not meant to join you on your next Appalachian Trail several hundred miles hike.  We both know that we have reached “that time”.  

There is something I would like us to do before I turn North, and you turn East.  Before I become an angel above and you step into new beginnings.  

Grab your keys and let’s go for a car ride.   I know, it is hard to believe, isn’t it mom, that I am eager to get in that box car of yours while you drive.  You know I have something special in mind if I am insistent not to go back inside.   I will have plenty of time to rest in our home; now it’s trail time. 

Thanks mom, for bringing me to my favorite place to be.  You and I, these mountains, these single foot paths, the smell of pine trees.   Mom, hey wait, I will be right back to lead the way.  That squirrel is calling me to come play.   Ok, I’m back now that the squirrel is back in his tree.  I think he enjoys the exercise when I run at the heels of his feet.  

We do not need to turn around yet mom; we can complete this circle we are walking.  Don’t worry, you will not have to carry me back to the vehicle; I have got the needed energy to complete this loop we are traveling. 

This way now mom, trust me.  Let’s meander, let’s explore, trust what you cannot see.  I know you are looking out for me, worried that my body may not be up for this hike.  This is a special day mom; it will be alright.  Ah, there is nothing better than the great outdoors and the ability to drink from this cold stream.   No better moment than right now, right here, you and me.

My body is growing tired, yes, yet it is my soul that is in the lead.  I would continue to keep my body going if I felt that my work on earth was not yet complete.   Dinah is ready now as your next guardian in fur, and mom, so are you.  I would stay as your Earth angel a little bit longer if I thought becoming your angel above was too soon.   We both know, I will never not be beside every step you take.  You are my heart, and I am yours, no matter distance or space. 

Before we go back to the vehicle, back home, and I then begin my walk across the bridge, I would like to tell you this.   You know how to walk the paths in which you can’t see what awaits.  You have within you all that you need to step forward in trust and faith.   You have strength, you have courage, you have fierce determination, and you have something more that is the key to everything.  You have the ability to love again – yourself and others – unconditionally.  You had thought your worth was nothing, and that joy was no longer what you should receive.  Then, mom, you meet me! 

Well, joking aside mom, though bless your heart, I know that is how you think.  The teacher does not appear until the student is ready.   You were ready for love, and I heard your heart through space.   If I could hear your heart before we met, crossing that bridge will not hinder me from doing the same.

Ok mom let us head home so that I can see Dinah and don Gato and Teneera and Peg, too.  I will whisper my “see you laters” to my favorite postal worker and the one who introduced me to you.  One thing mom, that I ask of you please.  Let Dinah step into the space beside you on Earth when you begin your journey with grief.  She has her purpose to fulfill, too, and she is ready to teach you new things.  She is ready to keep you stepping forward in joy, loving the pathways in which what lies ahead is unseen. 

I love you mom, and I thank you with all my heart and soul.  If I had traveled the world over, I would have found no better friend, no better mom, no better person to serve, than you.   Every trail you walk, listen, and look closely.  I promise, mom, there I will always be. Written by Jack March 30, 2021  

I came to you late last night, to be with you while you slept.  I lay my head on your pillow, while next to me you wept.  A gentle smile kissed your lips as I licked away a tear.  Until your time to join me, I’ll be waiting through the years.   – Author Unknown

Sincerely,

-Christine

For more inspirational stories of hope and how twenty-three co-authors have found the ability to integrate pain, trauma, sorrow, despair, and grief into living hope-filled lives, be sure and get your copy of Hope Has a Cold Nose if you haven’t already.    www.amazon.com, www.balboapress.com, or www.barnesandnoble.com

If you know of someone who would appreciate this blog you have just read, please share it with them.  Someone once told me that when we touch another life positively, the impact is exponential times four.  The person positively impacted tells four people who tell four people who.  Well, I think you understand the impact.     We cannot always change the ebbs of life, but we can choose to respond by cascading ripples of

hope.

March 2021 Hope Has a Cold Nose

Dear All,

There are two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.   – Albert Einstein  

His name means “one not afraid to express his opinion”. 

Once again, I am reminded of the power of word definitions and how there is more than one way to perceive a meaning of every moment we live.

For this gracious, humble, grateful, wise soul had opinions he welcomed sharing.  He was open to any questions I wanted to ask.  An open book.  But only if I wished to listen, respectful of me if I wanted silence, or if I wanted to engage in dialogue.  He was taking his cue from me. 

His opinions were bold.   And strong.

For they spoke of a longing for unity among divisiveness our world seems to know intimately now.

They spoke of resilience if we could bring ourselves together and not pull ourselves apart.

They spoke of truth, near seventy years of proven wisdom on a journey that knew pain and joy, fear and peace.  And faith. 

Oh yes, bold opinions indeed about a world that once held abundant innocence and now held the wounds of lost naivety.  Or lost hope. 

Now it was a world filled with self-protection against uncertainty manifesting in the forms of frustration, anxiousness, anger, and blame.  This unseen virus has held us all hostage, he proclaimed as he shared his opinion that we can beat the virus if we unite.  Quietly, gently, he shared how the virus has divided us.  Grateful for the life he has lived in the United States since he was twelve years old, his voice conveying a pronounced deep appreciation and pride the United States is the greatest place in the world to live.  Then his voice filled with that sorrowful, wishful yet accepting of what life brings wisdom as he softly said but perhaps, we’ve forgotten.  From his vantage point, brokenness has filled in the hearts where they once held only belief. 

He has known loss over these last twelve months, a unity with every person in the world who was not discriminated against in losing during this pandemic experience.  Every person has been brought to a crossroads of letting go and choosing the individual response of what perspective they allowed to come.  It isn’t his first loss, again, a universal bond that loss is something every human being knows.  He was in celebration of this being day two that he was back to work after several months, and I was blessed to be the one he was taking to my home away from home on my first travel since the world momentarily stopped moving.    

Among what I have loved best when ever I have traveled is the souls I meet.  Those “moments” individuals who temporarily step onto our life path amidst the “seasons” and “lifetime” people who we know for a chapter of our story or for the entire book of our life.  I am often blessed with the richest encounters from these individuals divinely put on my path to message affirmation or clarity I seek. 

There is a childlike joy I feel as I prepare to travel, excited for the stories I might get to hear from a fortuitous encounter in an airport.  

Or a shuttle bus.

Maybe that is what it is like for Ginger and Kutana when we travel to our trail.  For them it is the squirrel, or chipmunk, or rabbit.  Or robin or goose.  Maybe it is the same squirrel that chatters in the tree at the girls as the one they saw the day before, a taunting game the three of them play.  Yet, I like to think it is a different squirrel and the girls are living my joy of that brief encounter with a stranger. 

Perhaps, too, if I choose to see more than I initially see, the girls and the squirrel are not divided in Nature, with the girls as potential predators and the squirrel potential prey.  Perhaps they are communicating let’s play, and it is I who am introducing the division when I call to the girls to leave the squirrel alone.  The girls are following a natural rhythm to life, an unconditional flow with the moments at hand, fully present.   They live life as if every moment is a

Miraculous gift.

Hours before I met this dear soul that would pick me up from the airport on my first trip in thirteen months, I had been creating an idea for implementation.   I desire to continue to co-author stories of hope.  Twenty-three co-authors helped create Hope Has a Cold Nose, and now their stories are inspiring hope and healing to not only other military veterans.  Hope and healing are cascading across the globe through the stories in HHCN.

The integration of pain, trauma, sorrow, despair, and grief into living hope-full lives.  Stories of hope that have risen from pain.  Stories to inspire.   And something more. 

To unite.   For though no person lives a story exactly the same as another, each person knows loss. 

And a rise up.  And perhaps down again before climbing back up.  Each person knows the call of their soul to not give up.   And each person knows a dark night of the soul.

Hours after deciding I was feeling called to begin asking all of you, and all whom you know, and all whom they know to join me in gathering stories of hope that I will then coauthor and share through blogs and podcasts.  And who knows, maybe be led to book three.  (smile).  Hours after deciding, and asking for a sign of affirmation, my path crossed with this dear wise soul who had an inspiring story to share.  

My path intersected again with this dear gentleman three days later.   I asked him if he liked to read, for I had brought with me a copy of Hope Has a Cold Nose with the intention that someone would cross my path to give it to.  He graciously told me that he did not read much, as he preferred to experience life, not read books about how he should live life.  I casually asked if it would make a difference if they were life stories.  He thought it just might.  He could probably give something like that a try.  I didn’t tell him about HHCN, as my heart held the space asking if he was the one to fulfill my intention.  Waiting for that inner voice to whisper yay or nay. 

As he continued driving, he went on to tell me about an Andy Griffith show titled Man in a Hurry.  A businessman breaks down in Mayberry, in a very anxious hurry to get his car fixed, and during the lengthy time Gomer takes to repair it, the man has a realization that life should not be lived in haste.  When Gomer brings back the repaired car, the man insists it has another noise and should be looked at so that he can stay longer.  I cannot begin to write the story in the same eloquence in which it was being told to me.  I can’t find the words to describe the grace nor the tone of voice nor the grandfatherly wisdom of a man as I listened to what wasn’t being said.  How many people in haste he has taken here, and oh please hurry sir to there.  I listened to him not speak what I was certain he had intimate knowledge about through how he had lived and not read about life is precious and should be savored. 

That I then learned he had suffered a heart attack five years earlier affirmed what I felt.

I asked him what was one of the greatest life lessons he had learned?  That God always answers my prayers, he stated.  He then shared with me about a time he was working two jobs, how his family was provided for and they were doing ok, but how he did not have the budget to take his children to Disney World as they so wished to go and do.  As he worked one of his two jobs, he prayed.  A couple of hours later a gentleman he was taking care of offered him tickets for two remaining days to Disney World that this gentleman and his family were now not able to use.  My prayers are always answered he gratefully and humbly said.

I shared with him how I could not remember who said it, but we can Live as if every moment is a miracle.  Or no moment is.  He didn’t disagree as he dropped me at the door and we both said our “wish you wells”. 

A few hours later, as both of us touched each other’s hearts with the gift of him receiving a copy of Hope Has a Cold Nose and a handwritten note from me, and I in return receiving his handwritten thank you note and a surprise room service delivery to enjoy a glass of wine courtesy of the hotel, I knew I had received my sign affirming implement a movement to cascade hope and healing through story sharing. 

In that way that I believe every moment is a miracle.   

If we choose to see. 

Do not underestimate the power of gentleness.  Gentleness is strength wrapped in peace and therein lies the power to change the world.  – L. R. Knost

Sincerely,

-Christine

If you have a story of hope to share, please click on this link:

https://icy-lake-9077.ck.page/87467300d7

If you know of someone who would appreciate this blog you have just read, please share.  Someone once told me that when we touch another life positively, the impact is exponential times four.  The person positively impacted tells four people who tell four people who.  Well, I think you understand the impact.  Let us pay forward the power of

Inspired hope.

March 16, 2021 Hope Has a Cold Nose

For the Audio Version, click play above

Dear readers,

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language.  And next year’s words await another voice. – T.S. Eliot

The power of perception,  

The power of our starting points. 

Perhaps when you read the quote by T.S. Eliot you immediately thought of 2020.  Maybe your first thought was of what many are referring to of this week.  It marks the one-year anniversary in which life became “unprecedented times”, times unlike anything any of us had ever known. 

Or maybe you are still trying to find some sense of certainty amidst a long journey of uncertainty and reading next year’s words await another voice strikes a nerve.  How can you even begin to think of 2022 when I am still trying to find a foothold with 2021 might be the words you would like to mutter to me. 

The power of our starting points.

In how we choose – consciously or subconsciously – to see and hear.

Ginger rescued us in December of 2014.  Ginger came into our lives approximately 3 months after our dear Roo left Earth, and about 9 months earlier than our plan to get another dog.  Roo was not a service dog, but she was my best friend and my soul mate through a significant walk of darkness on my life journey.  Prior to Roo’s cancer diagnosis, my husband and I had thought we would always have a German Shorthair Pointer as part of our home.  When Roo left Earth, I was certain any future fur that decorated our home could not be the German Shorthair kind. 

Roo sent Ginger to us, in all Ginger’s glorious mixture of maybe whippet, maybe retriever, maybe the shelter just didn’t know for sure, but certainly no semblance of Shorthair in Ginger’s wonderful tan and white coat.  My husband and I knew we were gaining a complete home again, but we did not know we had gained a thief.   Ginger stole our hearts and proved to me that we are not just blessed with one lifetime soul mate.  We can be blessed to have more than one, if we choose to open our hearts, see, and allow. 

Fast forward to November 2019 and I find myself driving to Indiana “just” to look at a female puppy with the potential she would come home to be my husband’s pheasant finding partner.   I enter a building and look down into a meet and greet pen containing two puppies.  One is bouncing like Tigger, and the other is sitting watching “Tigger” and watching the kennel owner and me with these most intent, watchful, drink it all in eyes. 

I quickly learn Tigger has a destiny with owners a few states away, and I think oh, good luck dear owners making that long drive home with “Tigger”!   I bend down, reach out my hand palm facing up to the other puppy, who very quietly, gently, puts her chin in my hand and I think she is the one!  She will be perfect as my husband’s bird finding partner. 

After all, that was my starting point.  Finding my husband his bird finding partner. 

Not another Shorthair to steal my heart. 

I am not sure who has been the ringleader in further teaching me what Roo initially started.  There is always more than we initially hear and see.  Actually, I think it might just be a conspiring among all three; a certain Shorthair pointing angel above, Ginger, and a joyful, curious, comical, scatterer of shorthairs throughout our entire house again – aka Kutana – who has not put her quiet, gentle, chin in my hand since that first day we did meet!

Who knew she finds nibbling fingers on a hand as if they are a pacifier much more comforting, Or fun!

Always more than we initially see!  {smile}{laughter}

Recently I was in dialogue with someone who was feeling significantly conflicted with another individual.   As I listened to her share this part of her story, I found myself dancing that dance of grace between opposites as I discerned if I would be demonstrating compassion and understanding by sharing a part of my story or if I would be robbing this person of what was most important in our moments of dialogue – that her story was the only story that mattered.   If I shared, would I be offering a reframing that she might see her story differently?  Or would I be sending a message that I was listening to talk and not listening to listen? 

I opted to share a part of my story, which was about a person I had been significantly conflicted with in my life.  I shared about how this person was far from being my close friend, yet I had come to view this person as my best teacher – for we learn best through opposites after all, and we learn best when it is a challenge, or so I believe.   I shared how at one point, after this person was no longer in my life, I came to understand that during our relationship, when I was certain I was not good enough to be this person’s best friend, this person had felt during our relationship they were not good enough to be mine.   Though we thought we were on opposite sides of a spectrum, we were both starting from the same place of “not enough”. 

I cannot help thinking that so many of us think we are starting from different places with others, when in actuality, we may both be feeling a fundamental similarity.  

Like.

Worthiness.

Or not.

At the very beginning of the pandemic’s unfolding, I was deeply moved by a post a stranger had shared on social media in which this stranger was struggling with how much attention was being given to what was at the time a very small percentage of deaths related to the pandemic.  Their struggle was because in comparison, the number of deaths at that time did not begin to compare to the twenty-two veteran suicidal deaths per day.   Their starting place was why aren’t more people upset about the level of hopelessness that is stealing life?  

As someone who deeply values hope, whose heart hurts at the thought that people reach a point in which they feel more hope can be found in not living, I can appreciate the starting point for this stranger.  I recently read that every 40 seconds someone in the world dies by suicide.   In the time it has taken me to write what I have thus far, that is 135 lives.  

If you have taken 15 minutes to read this far, that is 22 lives. 

There is always more to hear and see.   What else can we see and hear to bring more hope into the world?

Perhaps new starting places in how we are listening and in what our eyes are looking for.

Each one of us sees in others what we carry in our own hearts – Ralph Waldo Emerson

May wellbeing continue to hold you in its tight embrace.

Sincerely,

-Christine

P.S.  I would like to ask each of you for your help.   Let’s pay it forward.   If you find even one sentence in this update inspiring in some way, please share it with another person who comes to your mind.   In doing so, I cannot help thinking we cascade further ripples of hope into the world.  In advance, thank YOU for sharing! 

Also, I had the sacred privilege of being interviewed by the Doggy Diva Show for a podcast that aired this past Saturday, March 13th – Canine Veteran’s Day!   Thank you to the Doggy Diva Show for featuring Hope Has a Cold Nose!

You can listen by clicking this link below:

https://audioacrobat.com/play/WMJbRv8f

Listening, Empathy, Awareness & Dignity: LEADership Through Storytelling & Companionship

https://www.gonzaga.edu/school-of-leadership-studies/news-events/leadership-through-storytelling-and-companionship

To purchase Hope Has a Cold Nose:

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=christine+hassing&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Barnes and Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hope-has-a-cold-nose-christine-hassing/1137781095?ean=9781982255282

Balboa Press:

https://www.balboapress.com/en/bookstore/bookdetails/811622-hope-has-a-cold-nose

or you can contact me: https://christinehassing.com/contact/

For additional impactful and powerful information regarding the healing impact of service dogs, please visit https://www.northwestbattlebuddies.org/a-vision-of-hope/.    

February 2021 Hope Has a Cold Nose

Dear Hope Has a Cold Nose readers,

“Dog Lessons for People – Be loyal and faithful. Play every day. Drink lots of water. Forgive quickly. Avoid biting when a growl will do. Sit close & listen. Follow your instincts. Give more than you receive. Take naps. Be a best friend. Love unconditionally.” – Author Unknown

If you have read the acknowledgments in the last pages of Hope Has a Cold Nose, then you were able to learn about how, on the journey of co-creating HHCN with twenty-three authors, I was led to many wonderful organizations who are each honoring the call to serve others in need – both human souls and those souls wrapped in fur.  The blessings of my path intersecting with extraordinary organizations has not stopped now that HHCN is published.  Most recently I was interviewed for a podcast by the Doggy Diva Show that will air Saturday, March 13th.   To learn more about what – I should say – who – inspired the creation of the Doggy Diva Show, please visit https://www.thedoggydiva.com.    I will simply say, never underestimate the smallest of beings to cast the biggest ripples of positive change.  Dear Sophia made her story matter when another dear soul heard her cry for help, and together they created a way to give purpose to a story that began in heartache and ended with great unconditional love. 

Recently I saw a visual post on social media that displayed a person holding up a plywood board to display a section of grass beneath it not buried by snow.  The picture further showed a chihuahua standing on the grass and the caption was related to an idea people could create something similar so that their dogs would not hate going outside for their restroom breaks in deep snow.   As I was preparing to scroll past this picture I saw one person’s comment that read I don’t think dogs have hate in their make-up…

I started thinking about Ginger and Kutana over these past couple of weeks as we, like so many others, experienced frigid temperatures, and continual falling snow.  Ginger likes her heat.  Completely covered under a blanket or basking in the warmth of the summer sunshine outside, or, as I am writing this, having her sister lay completely on top of her, is her ideas of heaven.  Well, maybe not the sister laying completely on top of her part, though her eyes closed and her soft snoring tells me she sees it as a gateway to happiness.  

Now Kutana, on the other hand, whose lean body should be the one to signal to her eager spirit um, nope, we don’t need to go outside and bounce into drifted snow head first, can’t wait for the temperature to reach an acceptable level to safely go outside.  Is it time?  Is it time now?  Mom, do you hear that?  Outside wants me to come run, hike, and play?  Outside wants me to dive head first into that snow drift RIGHT OVER THERE!  Can we now, please?!  PRETTY PLEASE!  Unlike her big sister Ginger who demonstrates an impeccable braking system at the doorway when her initial desire to go outside is met with the rush of cold air, Kutana seems to find a renewed energy to that burst of refreshing take your breath away air.

Kutana seems to run to her coat I hold in my hands.  Well, maybe run is a tad exaggeration, but she certainly does not resist.  There is no slight head hang that seems to communicate aww, shucks mom do I have to?   She does not communicate with her body that her pink fluffy coat makes her look silly or that she is too grown up for such frills.   It is her hall pass to outside, and outside matters far more than any risk her mom dresses her funny in front of the birds and squirrels. 

Ginger, on the other hand, is a very good communicator with her body that very clearly lets me know her orange coat makes her look less like the royalty she is certain that she is.  My dear Ginger is a girl after my own heart when it comes to a little bit of stubbornness, and there is no misunderstanding on my part in her decision to show me a little bit of her essence when I reach for that orange coat.  Now, granted, if she has had any preview to what awaits her outside, then in her mind, the orange coat I am holding is a hall pass, straight to the detention room.  And she has no problem deciding to become immovable weight on her ottoman when I am trying to adorn her in her orange attire. 

Yet, to the comment the individual stated on social media, Ginger has always read my heart to know that if I am insisting that she goes outside, it is for her own health and well-being.  She may not appreciate colder weather over her ideals of warmth, but in addition to her essence of a stubborn streak, her very core is unconditional love.  Her heart does not know hate.  Nor does Kutana’s. 

I was in recent dialogue with someone and our conversation turned to this sentiment.  If you start from a good place in your heart, then even if the conversation you need to have with someone else is a tough conversation to have, you will be honoring the reason your paths have intersected.  You will be the messenger the person needed for that individual to then make a choice in how they wish to respond, learn, and potentially grow.

By “good place in the heart”, I think of things like non-judgment, unconditional listening, compassion, empathy, generosity, gratitude, joy, and kindness.  I have this perspective.  We are souls in human form who are giving our lifetimes to grow in our experiences with these “good place in the heart” things.  We are also given the capacity to fear, to feel anxious, to be frustrated, to hurt, to know anger, to grieve, to know unimaginable loss.   We are given lessons in which we learn such tools as bravery, vulnerability, determination, perseverance, resilience.   And in every choice that we make through every experience we have, we choose to step closer towards conditional empathy or conditional kindness, or closer towards unconditional compassion or unconditional love. 

Where are you at in the steps on your journey?

I hope your path finds you closer to unconditional.

As recipient.

And as giver.

What if others could say of us, I don’t think that person has conditional in their make-up…

Together we are all on a journey called life. We are a little broken and a little shattered inside. Each one of us is aspiring to make it to the end. None is deprived of pain here and we have all suffered in our own ways. I think our journey is all about healing ourselves and healing each other in our own special ways. Let’s just help each other put all those pieces back together and make it to the end more beautifully. Let us help each other survive. ~ Ram Dass

I hold the intention that wellbeing keeps you in safekeep.

Sincerely,

-Christine

My gratitude to Connecting Vets for their support of the power of hope!

https://www.radio.com/connectingvets/news/veterans-share-stories-of-how-dogs-provide-hope-in-new-book

My gratitude to We Are the Mighty for their support of the power of hope!

My gratitude to Southern Living for their support of the power of hope! 

https://www.southernliving.com/news/hope-has-a-cold-nose-service-dogs-military-veterans-ptsd

For an engaging webinar facilitated by Dr. Alan Westfield, with sharing by Dr. Adrian Popa, Michael Ortiz, Taylor Rowell, and me, please click on the link below:  

Listening, Empathy, Awareness & Dignity: LEADership Through Storytelling & Companionship

https://www.gonzaga.edu/school-of-leadership-studies/news-events/leadership-through-storytelling-and-companionship

To purchase Hope Has a Cold Nose:

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=christine+hassing&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Barnes and Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hope-has-a-cold-nose-christine-hassing/1137781095?ean=9781982255282

Balboa Press:

https://www.balboapress.com/en/bookstore/bookdetails/811622-hope-has-a-cold-nose

or you can contact me: https://christinehassing.com/contact/

For additional impactful and powerful information regarding the healing impact of service dogs, please visit https://www.northwestbattlebuddies.org/a-vision-of-hope/.