And just two days ago listening live on Facebook as life coach, Cheryl Richardson shared the news of Louise Hay, founder of Hay House Publishing, who passed away at the age of 90 on the very same day that Dr. Wayne Dyer passed away two years ago. As Cheryl talked about Louise and her dedication to helping people heal, a hummingbird landed right outside her window…
and it just sat, and sat, and sat as Cheryl talked so lovingly about Louise.
And this is the thing…life is truly magical. Hummingbird showing up just then as Cheryl talked about Louise reminding us that joy is our birthright…
in life… and in transition.
And while the title of this post is ‘trapped inside my writing cottage’ because when I wanted to walk back in the house after my yoga practice, this little fellow had returned again to sit upon the birch branch.
And he sat, and sat and sat.
His message to me that life is to be savored and enjoyed. That there is no need to rush, but to take in all the joy that abounds.
And so I waited, and waited and waited until he decided it was ready to move on with the day. And then I too opened the door and made my way into the house.
And taking with me the lesson that I am only trapped when I make that choice. But when we make the choice to pause and capture what is right in front of us that the real magic happens and with it comes so much joy.
So much joy.
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It’s been an interesting summer so far. I’ve been taking part in a 22-week online course called The Magic of You with transformational coach, Jocelyn Mercado which began mid-June.
In part, because I want to expand my reach and offer more of the SoulCollage workshops I facilitate, online. I’m also taking the course because I want to offer oracle card readings, incorporating the wisdom of animals, as a way to help guide others through life’s bigger questions.
The hardest part for me, and what the course helped me greatly with, was deciding whether or not to let go of the name of my website, Joyful Paws.
As many of you know who have followed me since 2007, I’ve been gradually expanding from my work with my wheelchair dog, Frankie. And while I don’t believe I’m done writing books and there will be at least one more book I’ll write, I’ve decided to set writing in that capacity to the side for now.
When I sat with my feelings about letting go of Joyful Paws, I just couldn’t do it and honestly, I didn’t want to. But I was so torn because I really want to expand my reach and help more women live fulfilling and meaningful lives. Could I do that with the same domain name? While I’ve talked about this before on my blog, the course has really helped me to finally see that it is a part of me and always will be. That made my heart sing!
Joyful Paws, which began as an outlet to share my writing, which expanded to my books and my advocacy for dogs in wheelchairs, then expanded into my wanting to teach workshops. And for many years, I’ve also dreamed about offering oracle readings to others because of my love for them as a tool I use in my own life that has helped me greatly.
Joyful Paws….at the heart of the name is how my dogs taught me to appreciate so much about life…the simple things…that we only have this moment…that it’s our birthright to experience joy. All pauseful moments of reflection that I came to see as vital to living a meaningful life. In a world that glorifies hurry and material things, my dogs have, and continue to help me see what is truly important.
All those teachings expanded to really tuning into, and appreciating the healing energies of nature, observing other animals in the world, and exploring all the many parts of myself to step into the authenticity of who I am.
Joyful Paws is so much a part of who I am…which Jocelyn helped me to fully embrace and know that I didn’t need to let go. I realized I was resisting letting go of Joyful Paws in part because I didn’t want to buy into how things “should” be done in the world of how marketing can instruct us to do. And more than anything I wanted to trust my intuition.
And so it is…Joyful Paws will stay!
Which leads me to the other part of the story to this post today…
Last week, John and I took the plunge and bought a 2018 Chevrolet Exquinox. Well, we actually leased after weighing out all the options. Our GMC Envoy is seventeen years old and she treated us well. But it was time.
In preparing to sell the Envoy, I cleaned it out yesterday. I also knew I had to remove the website decals and the “in memory of” Frankie and Joie decals off the back which I saved until last. It was bittersweet.
The Envoy, for over five years, had become what I had dubbed as “The Frankie Mobile” when Frankie and I traveled to schools and libraries in Wisconsin sharing the message to “Always be positive, make a difference and keep on rolling!” We were also so fortunate to have a few local TV interviews, too.
As many of you also know, on June 21st, the five year of Frankie’s passing, I scattered her ashes around my writing cottage. I will do the same for Joie’s ashes on August 22nd – the day she passed four years ago.
Two things I’ve really come to understand: grief is something one always carries with them and it becomes a part of who you are. And there are moments when you are called to take another healing step in that journey. This is how it has been with expanding Joyful Paws from what it was, to what it now is, and what it will be as I continue to move forward.
And so it was with removing the decals off the back of my car. While the decals are gone, the memories of my dear wheelie dogs are not. They will always be a part of me – without them I wouldn’t be who I am today.
Just like Joyful Paws – it lights me up – it is so much of who I am – and always will be.
I took a photo before I removed the decals:
I removed most everything except for this:
It was my way of having a silent moment and quietly saying thank you once again to my wheelie dogs for all the joy they brought to my life before I finished peeling the rest away – a joy they gave me that remains – and always will.
In sharing the photos on Facebook, two ladies offered to make me new decals which I thought was very kind and sweet. Though I won’t be replacing them.
Another said it is “an end of an era.” While in one way, yes it is, I really view it as an expansion of an era. Because in my heart I believe I am carrying on the teachings of what my wheelie dogs taught me.
And I couldn’t help but think as this all unfolded that the Envoy is seventeen years old and Frankie would have been seventeen on August 20th. And for the time I had her I had it stuck in my head that I wanted her to live to be seventeen. In an animal communication reading with her that my friend Dawn did the day before I helped Frankie cross over, Frankie shared with us that she felt seventeen.
Perhaps…just perhaps, this was confirmation from Frankie that buying this new car and letting go of the old was the right time.
And why Joyful Paws as my website will stay the same. And I finally feel very good about this decision.
And to add to the magic of the number seventeen I shared this with my friend Dawn recently who said that seven and one when added is eight, which turned on it’s side is the infinity sign.
Infinity…which symbolizes eternity, empowerment, and everlasting love.
Now that gave me goosebumps!
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While I’ve often talked about transition here on my blog, the transition one goes through when losing a loved one is undoubtedly the most difficult one we will ever endure.
I’m so honored to share with you, and also reminded, that even when the heart endures one of the greatest losses – that of a child – that somehow, someway, one can find their way back to finding joy again.
And so it is with my friend Monica, whose dear daughter, Lena, died unexpectedly from meningitis at the age of twenty-two in 2003.
It was the creative and magical imagination of Lena, that would carry Monica to where she is today to begin to experience joy once again in sharing the story Lena penned at the young age of ten, Hoofen Floofen Island.
The blessing of Lena, her creativity, and the many gifts she left behind for her mom, who misses her everyday, is what helped Monica to know that even when life is really hard and feels so unfair, that the magic of life can be experienced once again with courage and grace.
It was truly an honor to recently sit down with Monica in my writing cottage and talk about the book she co-authored with Lena, and the journey this has been for her which helps her to continue to heal.
Here is the interview. I hope you will enjoy!
Monica and Lena’s book is available on Amazon today with all the proceeds benefiting the Lena Kay Rufus Memorial Scholarship Fund.
InFaith Community Foundation is a national charity with a mission to serve donors, spread joy and change lives. Together with donors, InFaith now grants $16 million annually to charities serving local, national and global communities.
Monica Sword is Lena’s mother. As a writer and artist, she shows others how they can mindfully find their way to a happier and more fulfilling existence.
Her life was not always this way.
Three family members’ deaths at an early age caused her great sadness, especially the death of her only child, Lena. She struggled to balance home life with a challenging career. Several physical manifestations and discontent from this imbalance contributed to losing her way. She yearned to create a deeper connection with nature, the universe, and people.
She tried everything from happy pills to talk therapy. Important life relationships started and ended. Her library was full of self-help books. She tried going “back to school”. She set up a basement studio thinking she would surely make time to be creative. While these activities kept her busy and much was learned, nothing really stuck.
Then she discovered the problem wasn’t with her work ethic or what she thought people expected of her. The problem was how she was applying her conscientious, high-achieving style.
Once she saw that honoring her passions, being mindful of her emotional reactions to life events and focusing on total self-care are applicable to a conscientious and high-achieving lifestyle, she developed a creative mindset that helps her do her best work.
Although her grief experience is on-going, her life now has a wonderful flow of writing, painting, drawing, and connecting with people.
My name is Lena Kay Rufus. Since March 28, 2003, I no longer live on Earth. On that day, quickly and unexpectedly, I passed away from meningitis.
During my childhood, I enjoyed being around farm animals as well as living on the reservation of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Northern Wisconsin. I played Suzuki violin during first grade. I loved going to school and excelled in most subjects.
Although my life was short, my accomplishments were many. I was active at Washburn High School where I studied diligently. I was able to spend most of my senior year enrolled in courses at Northland College. I played the clarinet and after learning French, traveled to Paris. I served as an officer in several high school clubs and associations. I was a Stanford University student at the time of my passing. As you can see, education was crucial to me.
On April 1, 2000, my life celebration ceremony took place on my home reservation. I said goodbye to hundreds of people I loved dearly. There are too many loves to mention except for Mom and Dad, who supported me in all aspects of my life. On this date also, the tribal elders honored me with the Ojibwe name of Ogitchidakwe, warrior woman.
Look for the “Lena Speaks” area on Life is a Pretty Word for selected pieces written throughout my life. Mom thinks I was a good writer although I never thought so.
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