Tag Archives: Native American

Grateful, in spite of….

Grateful, In Spite Of…

stairway-to-the-heavens

In spite of everything that has occurred this past year, I believe that we can build that stairway….together.

It has been a year now since a man and the Republican political party in the United States committed treason and colluded with Russia dictator, Putin, and stole the right to live in the White House. Many of the things we feared have come to pass.

–The stamp of approval in the form of an executive order has been given to businesses and government offices to openly and legally discriminate against LGBTQ people. Anyone in this once-great nation can openly refuse service and sales to us. My wife of nearly 29 years and I can be refused services by anyone from a waiter at a restaurant to a doctor during an emergency simply by them saying it is against their beliefs that she and I should love each other or should even exist. We could die, literally, from lack of emergency service if someone invokes their “religious liberty” to refuse us aid in the time of need.

The right to have a wedding cake baked at the place of our choice was analogous to the right of a black man or woman to sit in the front of the bus or to eat in a diner of their choice. Right now this loss of freedom, of legal protection against discrimination is only aimed at the LGBTQ community, but like in Hitler Germany it can and will be applied to any and all “undesirables” at a future time.

rights-vs-fears

–Women’s rights have suffered greatly. We are now facing back alley abortions and lack of birth control for millions of working women and poor women. Such lack of services will result in unwanted and unplanned pregnancies—even pregnancies from forcible rape where the father of the child, the rapist, can demand access to his victim via their child. Women, unable to control their reproductive abilities, will find it difficult and sometimes impossible to gain better paying jobs, complete their education, or even to recover from forcible rape and incest.

Employers will be able to keep a pool of underpaid female workers in the lowest positions by simply refusing birth control coverage through their insurance because those who don’t have supportive families will be saddled with children they cannot afford in any sense of the word. College and the ability to find a better paying job will become an impossible dream for many women and girls.

–Violence against minorities based on religion, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, and sexual identity, is being openly supported by the highest office in the land. Statements such as “rape doesn’t exist because a woman’s body won’t allow it” to “all immigrants are terrorists” and “all Hispanics are rapists” have resurfaced and are being given credibility by those in power. When violence is acted upon against minorities, the highest office in America gives statements such as “there are two sides to (this violent incident)”.

–Something I never thought would occur did indeed occur last November. A child predator and a self-acknowledged predator of women of all ages sits in the highest office in the land. A man who proclaimed “grab ‘em by the pussy” has initiated a regime of terror and chaos that our nation has not seen since the days before and during the Civil War. He has divided this country sister against sister; brother against brother. I fear for our nation, more each day.

–Never in all of Nixon’s dark days, did he ever utter a plan to pardon his own crimes against America. Yet, this traitor in the White House has boldly spoken out that he will pardon himself from any crimes that are proven against him. And what is even more frightening is this: some people are saying there is nothing in the law that will prevent this from occurring. Just as there was nothing in the law that prevented him from keeping his taxes secret and therefore, the illegal source of his money, hidden from the scrutiny of the people, though for the past forty years every president has been, at least, this transparent for the good of the nation.

–No other occupant of the highest seat of our nation has acted against the best interests of this nation and hidden his collusion with enemy powers beneath such secrecy and lies. Even to the point of hiding the Visitor’s Log to the White House from the public. Again, no law existed that kept him from hiding his interactions and secret meetings with Putin and other enemies of the United States from public knowledge; even from the knowledge of all of the members of Congress who are sworn to represent and protect the best interests of the citizens of this once-great nation.

–It has been many years since any occupant of the highest seat of government has so blatantly supported tax laws that took money from school programs, from programs for the elderly, from programs for the disabled, from Medicare, from Social Security–which is not a gift but is paid for by employers and employees throughout an employee’s working life—in order to give that money to the very wealthy. A reverse of Robin Hood—steal from the working person and give to the rich.

–Never in the history of our government has anyone appointed so many people who have openly vowed to destroy the offices to which they had been appointed. Betsy DeVoss—a great example–openly stated that she wanted to dismantle the Department of Education by 2018. She has made a lot of progress in that direction. She has gutted programs against rape on campuses across the nation. Once again women and girls cannot concentrate on their studies, but must be afraid for their safety and even their lives.

–Never in the history of the occupants of the White House and the highest office of the nation has anyone ever so openly spent taxpayer’s money for their personal benefit and the benefit of their own businesses and their own family and friends as this administration has done. Literally millions of dollars that could have easily funded Medicare, programs for school children, programs for the disabled, programs for research into medical cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease, have been drained from the taxpayer’s coffers to pay for vacations for family and friends of this wannabe-dictator! A man who berated others who held that office before him for taking vacations, has spent nearly every weekend on vacation and spending taxpayer’s money in his own resorts.

And never has any political party kept its silence  while America suffers; while their constituents lose their healthcare and many will lose their homes due to catastrophic illness.

Even during military crisis, we heard no condemnation from the Republican party when the man they put into the White House was too busy vacationing to attend to national business.He played golf while American soldiers died. And then, dared to disrespect the memories of those soldiers, saying “he knew what he signed up for.”

And with the blessing of the man in the White House, the Republican party has thrown away healthcare for millions of Americans so that they could fund tax breaks for themselves and their wealthy friends and families.

No person has blatantly used taxpayer money to build a helicopter pad on his privately-owned resort.

–Never has anyone in that office embarrassed the American people when meeting with foreign dignitaries as much as this person. America, once looked upon as a leader in the world, is now officially the laughingstock of the world.

America has weathered many power-mad and power-hungry meglomaniacs in its past.

Elder Many Horses on Power

A responsibility not to the wealthy, but to all Americans. Can we unite and stop this wannabe-dictator from destroying our nation?

aDarkTime

I don’t know. And that is the saddest statement I have ever made.

light in darkness

In all the turmoil and the violence; the death and the destruction of the civil rights era, I clung to hope. Our nation clung to hope like a life raft in an angry sea. We bled and we wept and we buried heroes and heroines. And we got back up and we fought, side-by-side, until we won freedoms we had never before known.

From that point on, though it was often two steps forward and three steps back, our nation progressed to a level of diversity and acceptance that won applaud the world over. We forged new pathways in human rights and in saving our planet. We put aside national treasures to be protected and enjoyed by all Americans; not just a privileged few. Our national parks drew millions upon millions of visitors per year; enriched our economy and shone as a beacon of beauty in a world that was sometimes very harsh and barren.

 

Now those parks are being given away to oil companies to destroy. Freedoms are being rolled back to the bad-old-days.

Once the contracts are signed with those oil companies they will scream “in good faith” to cling to the ability to destroy our national treasures even after we unseat this regime of destruction and chaos. And, like all “law abiding” people, we will hesitate to act against their “good faith” claims. And they know it. This is why so much is being given away and destroyed now. Because we, who believe in the rule of law, will be hamstrung to reverse the destruction and to re-institute protections for those national treasures, for the freedoms being destroyed even as we read and write these lines.

Have so many fought and bled and died for nothing? Can we not see that we must unseat those who would destroy our nation and that we must reverse all of their doings, cancel all of their contracts, and remove those they have been illegally placed in power positions–whether that position is the highest court in the land or the Department of Education–if we hope to save our nation?

aliciaDoSomethingGood

Can our nation grow beyond where this regime of hate and divisiveness and violence has brought us?

During this month of gratitude, this month of thanksgiving, I fear for our nation. I weep for what we have lost. I ache for the destruction of those things of beauty that we thought generations of Americans would be able to see and to marvel at.

image quote open your heart...

There are things, however, for which I am eternally grateful:

–I am grateful that I have stood up and continue to stand up for what is right; for what is beautiful in our nation. I continue to fight in the only way I know how—with these words.

–I am grateful for all of those from Whoopi Goldberg and J.K. Rowlings to the women and men I met at various Resist meetings who stand with me; who speak out loudly and plainly; people who continue to fight and to hope in the face of terror and chaos. Those who refuse to quit; who refuse to give up on our nation; who believe we can once again rise to the greatness we were building into our laws and our society. Those who believe in diversity and tolerance and helping those who are less fortunate. Who believe that an investment in our children is an investment in our future. Who believe that even though they may never see a polar bear, or stand in awe staring up at the redwood forests, that these things make our world a better and more beautiful place by simply existing and that they are worthy of protection. That the call of wild wolves is more important than a corporate-owned farm being allowed to graze public lands for mere pennies per acre.

And I am grateful for these beliefs that I hold in spite of all that I have seen and all that is occurring in our nation today:

gratitude

–I believe in the American people, in the goodness of our hearts and the strength of our purpose in protecting freedom for all of us.

–I believe that we can and we will unite to take over our nation once again and begin the healing of America.

–I believe that we can and we will open our arms to welcome those huddled masses who yearn for freedom, once again. I believe that not only will we return to our past greatness, but we will go beyond it. We will embrace diversity.

diversity (2)

–I believe that we can and we will prevail and return our nation to its once-great state of progress and humanity. We will, finally, extend equal justice to all citizens regardless of color, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, culture, or any other artificial category  that divides us.

–I believe that we can make a better world, and that we will. Together. United. By concern, by tolerance, by understanding, by caring. By love for our country.

Hate destroys; but, love can heal.

ChooseToBe

 

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WIN FREE E-BOOK!

Guess which of my novels these headlines apply to and win a free copy of my latest Special Crimes Team novel, Twisted Minds!

PaperCover

–Woman eats people!

–Terrorists take over White House!

–After 30 years woman discovers true identity!

–Runaway kid battles pedophile!

–2 women battle racists in small town!

–Women expose police corruption!

–Renegade cops bust serial killer!

–Psychic tracks kidnapped children!

–Raid saves 40 puppies!

–85-year old woman outwits killer!

–20-year old secret rips family apart!

–Women warriors save humanity!

–Girl saves horse from slaughter!

The first ten to send the correct answers–or the most correct answers–to ayawalksfar@gmail.com win a pdf of my latest book, Twisted Minds, Special Crimes Team. Winners will be announced on my blog on Labor Day Weekend! Winners will be determined by time and date stamps on emails. ALL decisions final.

HINT: You can find my books at https://www.amazon.com/Aya-Walksfar/e/B00CMVAKKK

 

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8 Methods for Self-care During Stressful Times

There is no doubt that we have entered a highly stressful point in our national history. Such extreme stress–especially when added to everyday stressors we all face such as jobs, family, and time constraints–affects all of us and causes a number of physical and cognitive issues from headaches to stomachaches to sleepless nights and depression to mention only a few.
Regardless whether you have girded up to resist the current administration or if you simply want to survive the insanity of it, there are things you need to know.

Signs of Stress:
–Overeating/undereating/loss of appetite/nausea/diarrhea/constipation
–Inability to sleep/change of sleep patterns/restless sleep
–Feeling hopeless/helpless/defeated/being pessimistic
–Restlessness and irritability/snapping at people/losing your temper more easily
–Low energy/that blah feeling
–Headaches/body aches, pains and tense muscles
–Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
–Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
–Nervousness/shaking/ringing in the ear/cold or sweaty hands and feet
–Clenched jaw/grinding of teeth
–Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
–Constant worrying/racing thoughts
–Forgetfulness and disorganization/inability to focus/poor judgment
–Procrastinating/avoiding responsibilities/wanting to ‘hide under the bed’/wanting to ‘hide in the bed’
–Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
–Increased nail biting/fidgeting/pacing/restlessness

If you, or anyone you know, are exhibiting any or all of these symptoms they may be warning signs that stress levels have reached unmanageable proportions. The more symptoms or the more severe the symptoms, the higher the degree of stress.

Stress is not only unpleasant, but it can cause or exacerbate such things as heart ailments, skin disorders, sexual dysfunctions, mental health problems, and gastrointestinal problems such as heartburn, indigestion, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

As an author, I am deeply involved in a career that is, during the best of times, stressful. Because of the current political climate, as an author I have certain responsibilities to use words to keep people informed and to do my part to protect the freedoms that we in the United States enjoy; freedoms that are facing unparalleled challenges during this administration. Here are some ways that I manage the stress that is inherent in my life:

8 Methods for self-care during stressful times:
1.The first and best defense against stress is someone to talk to. This person needs to be non-judgmental, accepting, and someone you can trust not to repeat what you said. If you don’t have a family member or friend to whom to turn, I would recommend seeking professional counseling services or speaking with your doctor.

2.Eating regular meals, preferably eaten with people you like–can fuel your body to fight off stress. During meals, avoid discussing upsetting issues. Let that occur after you eat and have had a little bit of time to digest your food. If you don’t have time to sit down and eat, carry healthy snacks with you such as cheese and apples. This will give you the extra boost of energy while also supplying protein for repair of the body.

3.Exercise not only allows you to blow off steam, but it strengthens the body, and releases internal chemicals that lift our moods. Exercise does not have to be complicated. Depending on your physical condition is the level to begin exercising. You can take a brisk walk outside, go jogging along the street in your neighborhood, use a treadmill, do sit-ups/push-ups/ running up and down stairs or stretches at home.

4.Baths/showers can help overcome stress. A long, warm/hot bath or a long shower can wash away not only the grime of day-to-day living, but it will relax muscles and give you a time to quietly decompress. The sound of showers can be very soothing to some people while a decadence of a long bath will relax others.

5.Sitting down with a cup of tea or decaf coffee or a cool glass of water will also aid in managing stress. The water actually assists in washing toxins from the body. The warmth of tea or decaf coffee can be very soothing. Peppermint tea is good for digestive upsets; chamomile tea is good for restlessness and sleeping problems. Ginger root (made from real ginger root brought to a boil and then simmered for 15 minutes and then left to steep until it reaches the potency you wish) is great for infections, colds, sore throats, and upset digestion.

6.Sometimes, you have to simply leave the current reality. Find a good movie or book to take you on an adventure that transports you from everyday reality. Put on soothing music and sit back and immerse yourself in the notes and the tones of the instruments.

7.Attitude of Gratitude List is remarkably helpful in managing stress as it pulls us away from the feeling of helplessness and reminds us of the beauty and joy in our lives.
butterfly

8.Resist.
HumansSaveSelves
Join a group or organization that is fighting for the issue you are most invested in. Sign online petitions from reputable organizations (FYI: do NOT donate money to any organization you have not researched. Now is a great time for SCAM artists to rip people off!),email your senators and representatives about issues that are important to you, handwrite letters to your senators and representatives about issues or to simply thank them for their stands on different issues (since emails are easily done and senators and representatives get tons of them a day, a handwritten note of no more than one page will often catch their attention faster. Also, this gives them physical evidence of their constituents concerns to wave under the noses of the opposing senators or representatives), phone your senators and representatives and leave short messages of concern or thank you.
Volunteer on the campaign of people who are running for governmental positions. Tweet to your senators and representatives.
And don’t be hesitant to contact senators and representatives to let them know that once they hit Capitol Hill, they represent all the people of the nation, not just their narrow constituency. Be polite, state your concern, be brief.

Remember that stress can make us feel that we have done nothing of any worth, that we are failures. Stress lies.

creators-child

If you have other stress relief methods, feel free to share them in the comments section.

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#NewYear–New Challenges

this-moment
January 1, 2017—the birth of a new year. Each year is an opportunity to live up to our aspirations, our hopes, our dreams. Looking back on the past year we can evaluate what did we do right; what did we do wrong; what can we improve upon?
It’s not a time to judge; but a time to contemplate. It’s not a time to regret; but a time to plan.
All of us face many challenges in this coming year—personal, political, business. In order to be effective, we need to focus and to strategize.
For me, I will be attending to the political climate much more closely than in past years. (To find out more: https://www.facebook.com/TogetherWomenCan )It’s not to say that I ignored the bones of our country before, but I impacted it more with my work than with my direct involvement. I truly thought my days of protests, marches, and petitions had been passed to the younger generation; and they were doing fairly well with it. I can no longer absent myself from more direct involvement; however that might manifest.
My novels will continue to reflect the issues that women and girls face on a daily basis while entertaining women with great stories of action, adventure, and mystery with a touch of romance. In some ways, my politics intersect with my writing seamlessly as both are based on enlightening, encouraging, and empowering women and girls. I have spent a lifetime in this struggle; and, it’s a good struggle—one of which I am proud.
The schedule for publishing this year is a bit more lax; instead of putting out four books as I have done for the past few years, I will be releasing three books during 2017.
–The first book will be Attack! I have re-titled this book and it is now Attack on Freedom! In many ways, this is a timely novel; a political thriller with a scary premise—a president that intends to become a dictator.
President Anne Marie Xavier faces the most critical challenge of any president since the beginning of the nation. She must stop rampant terrorism while protecting the citizens from a power-hungry adversary who will stop at nothing.
–The second book is the long awaited Ariel Ascending, Book 3, Vampire War trilogy, the final book in this series.
Serena Longer must take the murdered Matriarch Belora’s position as the Matriarch of the North America Region while her daughter, not-quite-13-year-old Ariel, has to ascend to the position of First Councilwoman of the North America Region. Not since the Time of Hunting has such a young huvam held such a difficult position among the vampires.
While Ariel attempts to adjust to her exponentially growing Powers and deal with Serena’s overprotectiveness of her only biological child, Matriarch Helena Outerridge increases her guerilla attacks on Ariel’s People.
As bodies pile up, Ariel becomes increasingly determined to stop the aggressors—ancient vampires with incredible Power and their allies, Weres and witches. In a desperate attempt to crush her foes, Ariel takes four other young women with developing Powers to search for the perpetrators. Unless they find a way to overcome their enemies, they may not survive to return home.
–The third book on my 2017 schedule is Twisted Minds, Special Crimes Team series. This is the sixth book in this series—all books in the Special Crimes Team series can be read in any order or as stand-alones
Sergeant Nita Slowater and the Special Crimes Team face a series of rapidly escalating crimes that begin with the vandalism of a Muslim women’s center. At the scene of each crime a Manifesto is left. Other than the Manifesto and the obvious signs of hate, the victims of the crimes appear to be randomly chosen.
Was this the work of a hate group or a single perpetrator? As the victim pool ripples larger, Sergeant Slowater and her team desperately race time before more victims are claimed.
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No one can tell the future. Though we may carefully plan our days, we cannot control all of the variables and will often wind up in places we never dreamed of being. As I face this year, I find that both scary and exhilarating.
rene-somewhere-different
During this time of upheaval and change—both good and bad and neither–we are all presented with the opportunity to become more than what we are; to step beyond our own limitations; to be the person we’ve always wanted to become. I’m ready to learn and grow. Are you?
Remember, courage is not the absence of fear; it is the going ahead in the face of fear. Whether you fears are of the personal, political, or business variety, forge ahead. You can’t start a fire, if you don’t light a match.
Best wishes for a year of growth.
Aya

My literary novels focus on personal growth.
Good Intentions: Bev Ransom has a secret. Her mother has one too. No secret can remain in the dark forever. Their lives are about to be shattered by the secrets they harbor.
https://www.amazon.com/Good-Intentions-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00OLZYKPQ

Hard Road Home: The Story of a Young Girl’s Triumph: Cas Redner lost her beloved grandfather. Shortly afterwards, she lost her mother to addiction and bad men. Caught in the broken child welfare system, Cas opts for life on her own. But for young girls, freedom comes with a high price. Ultimately, the only things holding Cas together are the teachings of her Native American grandmother.
https://www.amazon.com/Hard-Road-Home-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00TLCRUFQ

Beyond the Silence: A Woman’s Journey to Freedom: In order to find herself, Barb Hensen must sacrifice everything in her life, including her child. But, she doesn’t have much choice. If she doesn’t leave, someone will die.
https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Silence-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B01ADRQ0K8

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2 Important Truths About This Season

solstice

Every year I celebrate Winter #Solstice quietly; contemplating what this time of year means to me. One of the things I have learned from Winter Solstice is that sunrise will always come, if we hang on. If we keep putting one foot in front of the other; if we refuse to give up, we will see that glorious sunrise. I learned from my biological mother and my grandmother to “never quit”.
One friend of mine years ago commented that I was much like a bulldozer–I would go around, over, under, or through any obstacle in my path. Sometimes, tenacity is the only thing between failure and success.

The second important truth I have learned about this season is—

gifts

Growing up in the midst of poverty, I watched my grandmother literally share her last piece of bread with another. My mother regularly went down to the train yard and gathered up produce from broken crates. She brought it back to our neighborhood and shared it with everyone.
On the other hand, I have lived among those who had more than they needed; those who hoarded material things until they had to create more storage, yet they were unwilling to part with a single item to someone who had nothing. Others who had plenty sometimes grudgingly parted with a pittance to those in need.

giving-freely

Here is a story of a person who gave freely when she had so very little to give.

old dog

THE GIFT

By Aya Walksfar

Sixty-eight-year old Marybelle Brown pushed the rattling grocery cart filled with plastic bags of aluminum cans through the square next to the #Seattle Aquarium. That summer vendors had hawked sparkling necklaces and handmade toys and flamboyant scarves. Now it lay beneath the full moon, deserted except for a few pigeons huddled on a low wall near the water. Moving slowly so she wouldn’t disturb their rest, she made her way over and leaned against the cold concrete. She’d always loved Puget Sound. The gentle lap of the waves soothed her.

After a few minutes, she turned her cart and headed across the empty space. In the center stood a twelve-foot tall #Christmas tree. Red and green lights twinkled amid the plastic ornaments and glittering tinsel. Marybelle gazed up at it, at the star blazing white on the top. At last, she sighed in contentment and moved on.

fuzzy xmas tree

Today had been a wonderful Christmas Eve. She’d found three partially eaten cheeseburgers in one of McDonald’s trashcans. They were stashed in the ragged canvas shoulder bag along with French fries from a dumpster and two, whole pieces of cod from Ivar’s trash. A smile sat lightly on her cracked and chapped lips. Tonight she would feast! She patted the side of the shoulder bag and felt the bottle of Starbucks mocha and the bottle of Arrowhead water that a kind man had given to her with a smile and a Merry Christmas. Yes, tonight she would feast.

She bent her head back and gazed upward. Stars flung across the black heavens. Some people likened the stars to diamonds on black velvet, but she knew better. The stars were all the souls who had gone ahead, smiling down on those they’d left behind. Someday when it was time for her to leave this bent and painful body, she’d fly up there and be with them. Her momma and granny would be waiting. She wondered if the critters she had nursed would be there. Of course, they would! Her granny had told her that the souls of animals always went to the Bright Place because they lived as God intended.

She shuffled along. Time to get to her spot under the viaduct. Thick blackberry bushes hid the hole she’d dug out up against where the concrete met the earth. It had taken her a long time to make a roomy depression in that hard ground with a broken shovel. Hidden at the far back of the hole were all of her most precious belongings, safe from discovery by others, safe from the rain.

She crossed the quiet street and the cart jarred over the trolley tracks. Where cars parked during the day was mostly deserted now and filled with deeper shadows. The fat round concrete pillars that held up the overhead roadway too often hid bad things. She veered away, cornering her eye so she could keep watch while she passed.

As Marybelle came abreast of one spot of darkness a darker shadow moved within it. Her heart leaped into her throat. Her chest constricted with panic and squeezed the breath from her lungs. There! Who’s there? Her feet froze as her mind shouted, “Run!”

Just as her feet started to move, a whimper floated out of that darkness. The loneliness in that small sound dragged at her heart. “Leave, Marybelle. You can’t help whoever it is.”

In spite of herself, her hands left the cart and her feet shuffled toward the darkness. Her heart galloped like a crazed horse. “ Oh, Lord, I feel like my heart’s gonna bust.”

As she drew closer, a stray beam of moonlight shone against the pillar. Crumpled at the base of that cylinder of concrete lay a black dog. It lifted forlorn eyes to her face. The very tip of its tail tapped the ground twice then stopped like that was all the energy the poor thing had.

In her mind the years fell away and she once again saw her momma open the door of their tiny apartment. “Oh, Marybelle, you can’t help every critter you see,” her momma’s gentle hands tending to Marybelle’s latest rescue belied her words. Momma and granny had always tried to save the animals she dragged home–starved and beaten and broken.

She edged closer and the dog cringed, trying to melt into the ground. She knew the feeling. Carefully, she lowered herself to her achy knees. Never looking directly at the dog, she held out a hand. “It’s alright. I know just how you feel.” The dog’s body relaxed and it stretched its black nose toward her hand. “That’s it, little one. Come on over to Marybelle.”

She slid her shoulder bag to the ground then dug around until her hand touched the wrapping of one of the half-eaten burgers. Eyes still averted, she held a small bite on the palm of her outstretched hand. The dog sniffed the air and gave an anxious whine. “I know. It’s scary, but honestly, this is for you.”

The cold seeped through the three pairs of thin pants and chilled her arthritic knees. Still, she knelt there, hand out in offering. The dog stretched its neck toward the food. It crept one step, two steps. Now Marybelle could see the ribs jutting out under the patchy hide.

“Poor thing,” she crooned.

The dog trembled as it came close enough to snatch the food. It took the rest of the burger for the poor thing to creep close enough for Marybelle to put her arms around it. The dog was big, bigger than her German Shepherd had been. She felt the resistance of its stiff body, but kept humming and stroking one hand down its thin side. At last, the tension drained from it and it nestled against her chest.

After a while, she gave its sharp nose a kiss. “Gotta git up, little girl. My knees don’t like this kneeling.” She pulled a ragged wool scarf from around her neck and made the dog a soft collar and leash.

At her hideaway, Marybelle laid out the sleeping bag that a young, white girl had given her that past fall. She never carried this precious gift for fear of it being taken from her. But every night since early fall she’d blessed that child, and wished her well as she fell asleep. The dog immediately curled up on one side, the shivers wracking its body subsiding.

She sat next to the dog and lit the stub of a candle she’d found and saved for a special occasion. This surely was a most special occasion. “We’re safe here, Dog. With all the blackberry bushes around us and being way up under here, no one wants to crawl this far back.” She draped the two blankets she had scrounged from a Goodwill donation box around her shoulders and over Dog’s back.

From her handbag, she took the food and set it on the sleeping bag in front of them. She filled her dented quart pot with the bottled water and set it in front of Dog. She raised her head and drank deeply as Marybelle opened the bottle of Starbucks Mocha Coffee drink. She tapped the bottle against the pot rim. “Here’s to our friendship, Dog.”

Carefully, she divided the hamburgers, the fries, the fish: half for her, half for dog. Dog quickly ate her half, but sat politely, not begging for Marybelle’s food. She took all but one piece of the fish and laid it in front of the gray muzzle. “Merry Christmas, Dog.”

Dog cocked her head and fixed her clouded eyes on the old woman. “Go on, Dog. An old woman like me don’t need so much food. Probably would make me sick to eat all of that. This piece of fish’ll do me just fine.”

Feast over she stuffed the trash in the paper bag and set it to one side. She lay down and Dog cuddled against her chest. With the blankets spread over the two of them and the sleeping bag zipped she draped a sleep heavy arm over the old dog’s side. “This has been a lovely Christmas Eve, Dog. Thank you.”

Singing woke Marybelle. Beautiful singing that called to her. She opened her eyes and got to her feet. Dog leaned her head against Marybelle’s leg. A bridge lay before them. Dog looked up with cataract whitened eyes and whined. She took a step toward the bridge and twisted her gray muzzle over her shoulder as if to say, “Come on.”

The bridge shone like a golden light lit it from within. Marybelle shivered. Fear rose up and wrapped chains around her legs. Dog padded back to her side. She pushed her cold black nose against the palm of Marybelle’s hand and gazed up at her. “Oh, Dog, I know you wanna go that way, but I…I can’t.”

Dog sat next to Marybelle’s leg and sighed. She rubbed the old dog’s grizzled fur and knelt in front of her. Staring into the dog’s dimmed eyes, she cradled the gray muzzle between her knarled and arthritis twisted hands. “I know you want to go that way. And…and it’s probably a good place, Dog. But, I…” she inhaled a deep breath and let it ease from her. “I know it’s a good place, Dog. I can feel it; like I know you can, too. But, I don’t deserve to go there.”

Dog flicked out a warm wet tongue and licked the tears that traced the lines of Marybelle’s weathered face. She pressed her face against Dog’s then kissed her muzzle and stood up. She took a half step away from Dog.

Courage gathered like a tattered garment, she looked into Dog’s eyes. “I can’t go there, Dog. I haven’t been a good person. There’s things…” she glanced away and swallowed the lump in her throat. When she looked back, she blinked away the tears. “There’s things I’ve done; things I’ve said that were wrong. I’ve…I’ve hurt people. Over there,” she raised a thin arm and waved toward the shining bridge. “Over there is for good people, people like you, Dog. Go on. You deserve to be there.” She turned and moved away from the dog.

She’d only gone a few steps before she felt the cold nose against her dangling hand. She squatted next to the dog. “Oh, Dog.” She buried her face in the brittle black fur. When she lifted her face, she hugged the dog and stood. “Looks like you aren’t going to go, if I don’t.” Heart pounding, she gave a slight nod as if confirming her own decision. “I’ll go with you, Dog, because you deserve to be over there.”

Dog pressed tight against her leg as they walked onto the glowing bridge. The golden light enveloped them, warmed them.

Halfway across the bridge Marybelle stopped and gazed over the railing. Below, a broad, placid river flowed. As they drew nearer to the far side, a beautiful meadow ablaze with blue and yellow and orange flowers rolled out as far as she could see. Her eyes rounded.

When they reached the end of the bridge, a melodic voice spoke. “I see you’ve helped her to Cross, Dog. I knew you could. Well done.”

Marybelle raised her eyes and gazed into the milk chocolate face and dark chocolate eyes. “Momma?”

The woman spread her arms and Marybelle ran into them.

The End

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PHOTO CREDITS: Old dog–Anne Lowe    Christmas tree–Anna Langova  (all-free-download.com)

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Don’t Stop Believing

believe

–I am grateful that I believe in the journey and in myself.
–I am grateful that others believe in me and in my work.

light

–I am grateful that I believe where there are shadows and sadness there is also light and joy.
–I am grateful that I have those who walk the pathways with me, whether the path is dark or light.

creator's child

–I am grateful that I am Creator’s child and I believe that I am worthy of laughter and love and hope.
–I am grateful that you are Creator’s child and that you share this journey with me.

aliciaDoSomethingGood

–I am grateful that I believe we all have a chance to do something good with our lives.
–I am grateful that I believe that together we can move beyond where we are right now and go forward to be better than ever.

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10 Inspirational Quotes for Troubling Times

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1.The best way to find gratitude in your life is to help someone less fortunate than you.

2.It is the tears of the sky that nourish the flowers of the earth.
tears-of-the-sky

3.When I reach the end of my life, it is my greatest hope that I will still be able to look into a mirror and look myself in the eyes.

4.Responsibility rests with each individual.
responsibility-dawn

5.Every person makes a difference–for good or for ill.
manydroplets

6.When life gets tough, good memories are warm blankets we wrap around ourselves.
remember

7.Never stop reaching for the stars!
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8.No matter how high, no matter how rugged, no matter how impossible it may seem, every mountain can be climbed.
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9.Never doubt that sunrise will come.
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10.You can’t set the world on fire, if you don’t strike a match.
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