Category Archives: Birthdays

How to Influence a Life

One year ago today, my husband and I made a decision that changed the course of two lives. We went to the Lynnwood, Washington chapter of the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

We had been without a pet dog for two years, and it was time to welcome that special spirit back into our home – that spirit that only a dog can bring.

From the PAWS website we found Newan and Babies – a bonded pair of dogs who had been either taken from a neglectful environment, or surrendered to authorities. They were both listed as Australian Shepherd mixes; Newan, a male of six years old; and Babies, a female of seven years old. Both breed and age were guesses, since there was really no way to know their entire history.

We were told that Newan and Babies had been so neglected that their extremely matted fur contained nails and other construction materials stuck in the mats. We had to wait a few days to finalize the adoption because they had both suffered from bordetella pertussis (kennel cough), they were underweight, and their health would need to be cleared by a veterinarian on staff.

When the day came (one year ago) that they were ready to come home with us, we were very excited.

2015-2-18 Newman and Paisley adoption
Meeting Newan and Babies at PAWS in Lynnwood 2-18-15

We didn’t know how long Newan and Babies had had their names. They had come to Washington from California. Had they been given these names from birth? Did the original California rescuers give them their names? Did PAWS give them these names? Our inquiries were not answered, so we decided to change their names to something that sounded close to Newan and Babies to avoid traumatizing their identity on top of everything else.

Newan became NEWMAN, and Babies became PAISLEY. My husband and I are big fans of Paul Newman and Brad Paisley, so it made sense.

2015-2-18 Newman and Paisley come home
Newman and Paisley on their first day in our home 2-18-15

From day one, we noticed evidence of abuse with Newman and Paisley. They did not know how to play. Let me repeat: THEY DID NOT KNOW HOW TO PLAY. In fact, both dogs seemed afraid of toys, as if balls and stuffed, squeaky objects had been used to hurt them.

Both Newman and Paisley disliked being touched on the behind. Pet his or her tail, and they would run away. It seemed as though their tails had been pulled often, and probably violently. Not to mention that Paisley would run with her rear-end down. This suggested that she’d been kicked often.

I also believe, as evidence would suggest, that Newman and Paisley had been trapped or tricked prior to an abusive human encounter. They would not, and still do not, go into a room that has no exit. It was even difficult for them to walk in front of us because I think they feared they’d be kicked.

It is sad to think about the past abuse they’ve experienced. On the other hand, it feels so good to know that we’ve given Newman and Paisley a better life.

2015 Newman content boy          2015 Paisley content girl

The biggest test Newman and Paisley had to face was our grandchildren. We worried the dogs would be frightened or aggressive toward smaller humans (let face it, we’ve all been a little uneasy with smaller humans from time to time). Our fears were quickly forgotten, because Newman and Paisley are FABULOUS with our grandchildren!

2015-5-10 Sam walking Paisley

“Paisley is just so sweet”, says Sam, our 6-year old grandson.

Sam is right. Both dogs are very sweet. Even though they don’t play with toys, and still haven’t overcome all of their trust issues, they are so much happier than they were on that day one year ago. I think they feel settled in our home, and are so happy to be cuddled, petted and loved.

2015-3-7 Newman and mom

I recommend adopting a rescue dog. We love the Australian Shepherd breed, and looked for one in our search to adopt. We didn’t get full-bred animals, but we see the best characteristics of the breed in Newman and Paisley. We are so happy with our choice.

Happy anniversary, Newman and Paisley!

My first 50 years

Today, November 29, 2013 is my 50th
  I tend to be a liberal user
of the exclamation point, but it didn’t feel appropriate after that first
sentence.  I don’t feel excitement today,
nor am I feeling depressed.  (This,
despite the fact that my 50th birthday falls on Black Friday)  Today is just another day, albeit a day that
marks a certain milestone in my life.

Like most people, my life has been fraught with both
challenges and joyous moments. 
I have
wished for death, and I have celebrated life.  I have felt hate, and I have experienced
love.  I have held grudges, and I have
given forgiveness.  Physical pain has
been my daily partner, and I have faced it daily, and conquered it more often
than not.  That makes me pretty typical,
I think.

I’m a twin, did you know? 
My twin brother, John and I were born one week after the assassination
of President John F. Kennedy.  Thus, the
obvious name choices.  Since this story
of my birth has been told many, many times by my mother, I have always felt
pride for being named for such a classy, beautiful person like Jacqueline Kennedy.  However, I have somewhat failed
in my mission to be like her.

I’ve admired many women in my fifty years.  The list includes many you may know, and
others you may not.

Being married to a musician lo these many years, I have met some famous musicians, namely Alan White of the band “Yes”; Roger Fisher and
Steve Fossen from “Heart”.  From the band
STYX, Tommy Shaw, Todd Sucherman (who has allowed me to share some of his story
in my upcoming book), James JY Young, and Lawrence GowanDon Wilson of “The Ventures” has also shaken
my hand.

I’ve met a few movie/TV stars like Zach Levi (I drive a car he bought for his step father) and Jim Belushi.

I even met some famous athletes, like Bart ConnorRosalynn Sumners, and Mark Eaton.

I have been able to meet some of my heroes, too (In truth, some of them became heroes after I
met them) Brad Paisley, Russell M Nelson, Steve Tyrell (who I have been on bed with), John Maxwell, Lance Miller, Ryan Avery, Rory Vaden, Darren LaCroix, Albert Mensah, and Kathy Ireland.

Yes, I have met many wonderful people — and they have met

Someday I’d like to meet Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly, Phil Collins, Mel Gibson, Glenn Beck, George W. Bush, Oliver North, Dierks Bentley, Donny Osmond and
Brad Paisley—again.  (I actually tried
to meet Donny Osmond when I was 14 years old. 
While in Salt Lake City, I went to his brother’s home, knocked on the
door and asked for a picture of Donny.  His
brother, Tom would not grant my request. 

There are a few days in the last 50 years that I don’t ever
want to relive
The day I confronted my
childhood abuser; the day my father died; the day my son suffered a skull
fracture/brain injury; the 3 days in my life when I said goodbye to precious
family dogs; the day my car was repossessed; and the day we moved out of our
home from foreclosure.

On the bright side, there are some days that I would relive
over and over.
  The days that my children
were born; the day that my daughter got married; the day following my son’s
accident when we found him awake upon entering his hospital room; the day my 1st
grandson was born; the day I met my second grandson; each of the days when a
new puppy joined the family, and the day when I gave my first professional
speech.  After these events, everything
other day has been gravy.

I’m so grateful for friends who have mentored me, stood by
me, and gave so much of themselves. 
Like, the dear friend who sat next to me simply for support that day I
confronted my abuser; and the prayers from friends and strangers that ascended
to heaven when my son had his accident. 
I’m so in awe that a friend would give me a car when mine was
repossessed, and friends who let us live in their home when our house was
relinquished.   Loans have been given by
friends and family—loans that may never be repaid.  Toys, cash, food, and blankets left on our
doorstep by anonymous strangers over the years still amazes me.

Yes, life has sucked at times.  Life has attempted to suck joy and hope and
faith from my life.  But it has not
succeeded.  I have what I need, and I
have had what I wanted (see “the days I would live over” above).  I will keep keeping on.

My husband and I have
survived many things in almost 31 years together
, and I am confident that even
harder things are still to come our way. 
But I made it to 50.  I had
trouble envisioning this day when I was 20, or 30, or even 40.  There have been days that I thought were
surely my last.  But I’m still here.

I have been in room with a Prophet of God, and I have heard
him speak
I felt the Spirit of God in
that room, and in that man. I testify that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the
World, and my elder brother.   I look forward to being with my Heavenly
Father and Heavenly Mother again.  I
don’t know if I will get another 50 years out of this run, but with a bright
future on the other side, I guess it doesn’t really matter.