Thursday, April 9, 2009

stop the violence

Please go to and look at my friend Melanie's photography that has captured the injustice going on in Africa. Melanie and I were in journalism school together and I continue to be amazed at HER commitment to using her talent to serve others. Also, if you get a moment watch the trailer for Women in War Zones: Sexual Violence in the Congo. I am passionate about creating awareness for this cause.

Compassion is the basis of morality. -Arnold Schopenhauer

circle of life

"From the day we arrive on the planet; and, blinking, step into the sun; there's more to see than can ever be seen; more to do than can ever be done; there's far too much to take in here; more to find than can ever be found; but the sun rolling high; through the sapphire sky; keeps great and small on the endless round"
-Elton John, The Circle of Life lyrics for the movie The Lion King

When I was young a movie came out called The Lion King. Not that I'm old enough to talk about the good ole days, but let's pretend I am. Because in the days I was young, Disney movie releases were a big deal. I'm talking huge. Elementary school classrooms were always buzzing with chatter about the latest characters, from Beauty to Jasmine to Simba. I remember sporting my Little Mermaid backpack in the first grade. I thought I'd surely be the hottest commodity in my class when I showed up with that thing adorning my back. What girls will do to get noticed, even at the age of 6. As a child, the one movie that I couldn't get enough of though was Cinderella. The whole notion that one shoe could change your life captivated me. Let's be honest, it still does or I wouldn't have an embarrassing amount of gold ballet flats. But as I've grown up, the Disney flick that I've grown fond of is The Lion King. I think so many principles in that film can apply to our lives. The lessons about unwavering friendship, loyalty to family, intrinsic need for purpose, desire to serve your community, and belief that true love always finds a way.

So imagine how I filled with joy when I realized that I had stumbled upon the perfect example of the circle of life. Yesterday I went to the funeral of Dr. Wright aka Buck Wright. I was so grateful that my parents had called to let me know of Dr. Wright's passing. I'd like to really make the story of him delivering of me 26 years ago a unique one (and according to my parents, it is) but this man delivered half of Bowling Green. I am one of thousands. What makes this man unique among thousands of obstetricians? The pastor did a wonderful job explaining how he really was an extraordinary man, and most importantly, incredibly Christ-like. Just as Christ died and delivered us from our sins, Dr. Wright also had a theme of deliverance in his life. He delivered babies, yes. This doesn't need explanation for why it is a truly special gift. But what a lot of people didn't know was that he was very active in the ministry of Alcoholics Anonymous. Through his own personal battle that he had overcome, he was able to save countless people from a lifetime of addiction to alcohol. Some one may know how many babies he delivered into the world, but no one will ever know how many people he kept alive through his ministry with AA. It stuns me to think of the impact he had on people in my community during his lifetime.

I feel so blessed to have been able to say farewell. How amazing that I saw him out of the world he saw me into. The circle of life indeed. The Elton John lyrics "and it moves us all, through despair and hope, through faith and love, till we find our place, on the path unwinding, in the Circle of Life" have never been truer in my life. I was moved to tears in that moment- reciting the Lord's prayer at a service honoring the person who helped me take my first breath. The meaning of life never made more sense. It was a wonderful reminder of how much I admire my elders, of how I really believe everything comes full circle, and how I know that my heavenly Father surely does work in mysterious ways.
"to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; this is to have succeeded." -ralph waldo emerson

Friday, April 3, 2009

the eternal puppy

So this week I have been very pensive. Ok, so I'm always pensive. But this week especially so about my dog Layla. She's about to turn 8 and I've suddenly realized that while she is still so incredibly youthful, she's not really a puppy if we take into account that in dog years, she's 56. So before I went to sleep last night I began to reminisce. I began to think of all the memories I have of Layla, the eternal puppy. And I couldn't resist sharing with you my thoughts about life and love with Layla.

First, a short list of Layla's "adventures"....
Year 1. brought home in police car. wanted an education so tried to hang out in schoolyard.
Year 2. Layla finds her way underground. Goes missing for 3 days. Find her underneath metal grate . Call city to remove grate and lift Layla out of ground.
Year 3.
like her owner, develops expensive taste in footwear. Unlike owner, literally tastes (eats) shoes.Layla gets bored during the day, everyday. Decides to re-format the flower pots. The flower beds become Layla beds, due to flowers being removed to make room for Layla's tush to sit.
Year 4. bunny rabbit found dead in yard. Layla pleads not guilty.
Year 5. Schwanns delivery men and UPS drivers stop wearing hats to keep Layla happy.
Year 6. 3 custom framed Broadplay play posters(i.e.: WICKED) destroyed. Layla again pleads not guilty.
Year 7: Festus, Layla's boyfriend enters the picture. Summer of Layla in Love. Like any smart girl does, lets Festus know who calls the shots in the courtship. Steals Festus' footballs&sticks, eats all of his food, and only allows one kiss (lick) per week. Festus continually forgives Layla and lets her back in his yard.
Year 8. Decides that playtime is 2 am every night.

I am one of those owners who constantly says "my dog is the best dog in the world." But what I think we owners really mean is that "my dog is the best dog in the world- for me." Because for every shocking, inconvenient, ghastly thing she's done, she's made up for it with 1000 wonderful acts that have exhibited her loyalty, sweet spirit, and forgiving heart. These are just a few of the things she does on a regular basis: sits with me by the pond for hours watching sunrises and sunsets, protects my home from intruders, never complains, is the perfect sidekick for afternoon running,
greets me with joy in the morning and helps me to wind down at night every single day without fail.

You'll never understand the phrase "dog is mans best friend" until you have one of your own. No one story, one picture, one explanation can explain it. All I know is that somewhere between hearing those screeching sirens of the police car, burying a bunny, and looking at my watch long after I waved the red flag surrendering to Layla's desire for a 2 am stroll, the puppy that was the last one left in a box at a flea market became my best friend.

"I was aware that maybe he held the secret for a good life. Never slow down, never look back, live each day w/ adolescent verve and spunk and curiosity and playfulness." -John Grogan, "Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog"