Just sixteen days ago, on June 3rd., Pharaoh turned fourteen. He was born on June 3rd, 2003.
I didn’t mention in that birthday post that Pharaoh’s rear hips and legs were very weak indeed and it was clear that he was living out the last few weeks of his wonderful, glorious life.
Yesterday, Jean and I came to the sad conclusion that Pharaoh had deteriorated rapidly in these last couple of weeks and that it would be cruel to prolong what cannot now be pleasant for him.
We spoke to good friend and neighbour, Jim Goodbrod, who is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and he agreed.
So this Monday morning, Oregon (PDT) time, I shall drive Jim to our local veterinary clinic on Lincoln Road and Jim will pick up the necessary drugs.
We will then return home and Jean and I will cradle Pharaoh until he takes his last breath. My guess is that will be around 11am PDT.
I spoke to my daughter, Maija, and son, Alex, yesterday as they have fond memories of Pharaoh from his very earliest days. Alex’s long-term partner, Lisa, then sent me the following email:
Dear Paul and Jean,
I was very sorry to hear about Pharaoh and understand how you are feeling. I had to say goodbye to my 19 year old cat Molly last month.
My parents have had German shepherds and when they had to have their last one put to sleep a friend of theirs sent them the following poem. It gave them a great deal of comfort and I thought it would be nice to type it out and send it to both of you. You may already know it.
I will be thinking of you all tomorrow,
Lots of love,
Here is that poem.
When the time comes
If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then will you do what must be done,
For this, the last battle, can’t be won.
You will be sad I understand,
But don’t let grief then stay your hand,
For on this day, more than the rest,
Your love and friendship must stand the test.
We have had so many happy years,
You wouldn’t want me to suffer so.
When the time comes, please let me go.
Take me to where my needs they’ll tend,
Only, stay with me till the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.
I know in time you will agree
It is a kindness you do to me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I have been saved.
Don’t grieve that it must be you
Who had to decide this thing to do;
We’ve been so close, we two, these years,
Don’t let your heart hold any tears.
Dear friends of this blog, it means so much to share this sad news with you all and I know that your sadness for this day will be carried on the wings of countless thoughts across the air waves in Pharaoh’s direction.
You will understand if I close by saying that just now, this Sunday afternoon, Pharaoh’s last day with Jean and me and our furry family, I’m uncertain as to how I will approach writing posts for the next few days. I may go silent or I may share some treasured memories of my time with Pharaoh.
Almost immediately upon our arrival at 1pm we saw a gentleman in his wheel chair accompanied by his service dog. That gentleman soon identified himself as Ken Schiff and his wonderful service dog was named Lacey. It was clear within moments how beautifully behaved was Lacey and, by implication, how well trained he had been to perform his role as a service dog to Ken.
That took me way back to my days of working with Pharaoh back in Devon; before Jean and I met. Living in a very rural part of England with, reputedly, there being more sheep than people, one of the early requirements was to train Pharaoh to behave properly in the vicinity of sheep. Here are a couple of pictures from that training day in Devon.
Needless to say, Pharaoh also received professional training for his general behaviours.
So treat all of the above as my introduction to a guest post by Robert Michael. On dog training. So who is Robert Michael?
Robert is professional dog trainer having an experience of almost 8 years now. And he loves to contribute to the pets blogs to enjoy his passion. Plus, I write free of cost for those pets blogs: do you have one? Contact me email@example.com
A Comprehensive Visual Guide on Dog Training Schedule to Get 100% Outcomes
by Robert Michael. April 26th. 2017
There are a number of acts to follow on time, when your dog is on a training with you! So, if it is said that, you can get no any effective outcomes of the dog training, without making a proper schedule; it would not be wrong at all.
So, you must be aware of the fact that:
Making an appropriate dog training scheduleis necessary for a super effective output. Now you might be thinking that:
How to make a dog training schedule?
So, it is not a tough task to do so! You just can make a schedule by following the tips given below:
Take a pen and diary specified in writing and following the schedule.
Save notes in your mobile phone, and set the reminders.
Make an Excel sheet containing the schedule.
Make an MS Word document to file the training schedule.
Make a training schedule chart and attach to one of the walls of your home.
So, these are the super easy ways, you can make and follow the training schedule of your dogs.
You will be habituated by the training schedule.
Your dog will get habituated by the schedule timings.
You will get a punctual routine.
Your training sessions will prove to be more effective.
You will be able to train your dog by an organized manner.
What can you include in the schedule?
The feeding timings.
The playing timings.
The walk timings.
The toilet timings.
The training sessions’ timings.
The exercise timings.
The sleeping and waking up timings.
You can see the Legit Review Machine infographic to better understand the dog training schedule ways and steps.
And here is that infographic that Robert included as a separate image in his email to me.
I’m sure many of you will have found this very useful and I do hope there will be more guest posts from Robert.
A skipping Jack Russell and her owner have set a new world record.
Eight-year-old Jessica and her owner Rachael Grylls, from Lewdown in Devon, clocked up 59 skips in one minute.
The owner of a skipping Jack Russell dog says she is “really, really, really pleased” she and her pet have set a new world record.
Rachael said: “It’s quite hard to keep jumping, talking and rewarding her at the same time. I think I’m more unfit than Jessica!”
Lovely to see this news item from my old County of Devon.
You see, I used to live just a few miles out of Totnes in Devon; in the village of Harberton. Lewdown is also in Devon, as the news item reported, but it is the other side of Dartmoor. In other words, North-West of Dartmoor as opposed to Totnes being to the South-East of Dartmoor.
But if any of you dear readers fancy a vacation in the UK you should make a point of going to see Dartmoor. It’s a very beautiful place. (Sue, you have probably been to Dartmoor? Yes?)
Yes, December 20th., 1956. Just five days before Christmas Day.
I had turned 12 on November 8th that year and my dear sister, Elizabeth, was then 7-years-old.
Ten years ago this very day, in other words on the fiftieth anniversary of my father’s death, something happened to me when I was living in the small South Devon village of Harberton; just three miles from Totnes. That ‘something’ started a chain of events that led to me meeting Jeannie in Mexico and us becoming married in Arizona on November 20th, 2010.
I accept that this is of little interest to you, dear reader, but I wanted to put the following ‘out there’.
December 20th will always be a poignant day, until I take my last breath.
But it will also be the most precious day in the year for, again, until I take my last breath December 20th. will always mark the start of my journey to meeting Jean.
Loving Jean and being loved so much in return is as much an immovable marker in my life as was my father’s death.
Yesterday, Val published a post over on her blog Find Your Middle Ground that really ‘spoke’ to me. That’s not to imply, by the way, that her other posts don’t very often reach out to me and, undoubtedly, to many others.
Instinctively most people would regard us humans as far more complex than our animal companions. As the old Devon (South-West England) expression goes, “There’s now’t so queer as folk.”
Yet, once we have really got to know a dog there will be many who will see behind those fabulous eyes a sense of a depth of character, a soul comes to mind, that suggests that the brain of the dog offers a canine psychological complexity most of us don’t allow for.
To support that proposition just look at the eyes of Pharaoh in this photograph going back to June, 2007.
However, today I am republishing Val’s recent post and I do so with great pleasure.
I read an interesting article some time ago by coach Michael Neill on how there are different levels in our relationships with others. I’m not talking about literal closeness, for example a brother is closer than a colleague at work, but more about our ability to truly connect in an authentic way with another person.
Have you noticed that you can feel a deep connection almost immediately with a stranger? Or feel like a member of your family is hiding behind a mask and being superficial? … That’s what I am talking about.
Surface Level – How we pretend to be
On the surface, people present themselves to the world in whatever ways they would like to be seen. They may be clever or cynical, light and cheerful or intellectual and deep. This is our persona or the “mask” of our personality, often revealing our fears, judgments, and insecurities in the very attempt to hide them.
Whether we enjoy or dislike someone’s personality is fairly arbitrary – an accidental coming together of our own innocently acquired preferences and prejudices from a young age.
But like it or not, at some point the mask slips and we see through to…
One Level Deep – The selfish self
Underneath the masks of personality, we’re continually navigating the world through a swirl of thought. Because we feel that thinking is coming at us from the outside world, we tend to see our actions, as one of my clients once put it, as being ‘the only sane response to an insane world’.
This is how we justify our ambition and ruthlessness; our cruelty to ourselves and others. After all, if it wasn’t a dog eat dog world out there, who would ever want to eat a dog?
When we see through someone’s “nice person” or “tough guy” mask, we often see only as far as this level. And it’s difficult for most of us to feel warmly towards someone who is seemingly only out for their own self-aggrandizement or self-preservation.
Until, that is, we see through to…
Two Levels Deep – Doing the best we can as we’re all in this together
There is a quote often attributed to Philo of Alexandria that we should “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” This is not only true in the physical world, where our bodies begin to decay long before our thoughts are ready to let go, but also in our innate psychology.
Every human being I know wants to love and be loved; to be happy more and suffer less; and to feel like in some way their life had meaning and value. How they go about achieving these aims is a product of their level of understanding and experience of the world.
It’s easy to love people “two levels deep”, because we see ourselves reflected in them. We all have a natural compassion for the suffering of others and an abiding conscience which ensures that while we may at times act in ways that are harmful to ourselves and others, we do it in spite of and not because of who we are at core.
Loving people at this level doesn’t mean we have to live with them or let them get away with murder, literally or figuratively. It just means that we don’t get so upset by their humanness or carried away by our own delusions that we can escape the human condition.
While seeing through to people’s innate humanity makes for richer and more wholesome relationships, there is a level beyond even that which takes us past the illusion of separation which allows us to play judge and jury to our fellow humans…
Three Levels Deep – Who we are before the fact of thought
Who are you before thought comes into the equation? Mystics throughout time have described our essential nature as being made of spirit – a name for the invisible life force that makes up the visible world of form.
It’s difficult to even talk about “loving someone” at this level because rather than two or seven or even seven billion separate people, there is simply the presence of Love with a capital “L” – and as we dissolve and surrender into that Love, we fulfill the age-old proverb that “we are that which we seek”.
We are one in shared consciousness and spirit.”
p.s. This makes me think about how that pesky neighbor, or annoying colleague and Donald Trump appear one level deep for many of us.
Val concluded her post with the proverb “we are that which we seek”. I used a very similar idea as the title to today’s post, “We are what we think of most!“. I am clear in my own mind that those two sayings are opposite sides of the same coin.
All of which reinforces in spades the benefits that flow from open and honest self-awareness.
If only for the wonderful quality of a deep sleep that results from that self-awareness.
Sometimes, one just has to hold one’s head in shame ….
… at the madness that we humans are capable of.
I included this sub-heading in the draft of this post last Thursday intending to make it Friday’s post then changed my mind. Hence the reason behind me writing in Friday’s post:
I was looking at a recent George Monbiot essay and getting myself all wound up about it, thinking that it should be today’s post. Then I thought, “Come on, Paul, end the week on a gentle tone.”
In the light of events in Paris last Friday, I had no idea how pertinent my sub-heading was!
What wound me up, so to speak, was a recent essay from George Monbiot about the damage being done to a Devon river; the River Culm. This river was known to me in the days that I lived in South Devon and had my Piper Super Cub based at Dunkeswell Airfield that was not far from the Culm.
The agencies supposed to protect the living world have been neutered, and polluters and wildlife destroyers now have a free hand.
By George Monbiot, published on the Guardian’s website 12th November 2015
It could scarcely have been a starker case. The river I came across in Devon six weeks ago, and described in the Guardian, was so polluted that I could smell it from 50 metres away. Farm slurry pouring into the water, from a pipe that I traced back to a dairy farm, had wiped out almost all the life in the stretch of River Culm I explored.
All that now grew on the riverbed were long, feathery growths of sewage fungus. An expert on freshwater pollution I consulted told me that the extent of these growths showed the poisoning of the river was “chronic and severe”.
Here, as a reminder of what I saw, are some of the pictures I took:
Slurry pouring from a pipe cut into the riverbank:
And mingling with the clear water of the river:
I reported the pollution to the Environment Agency’s hotline. It told me it was taking the matter seriously. So when I received its report on the outcome of its investigation, I nearly fell off my chair.
It had decided to take no action against the farmer, as “the long term ecological impacts on the environment were fortunately low”. How did it know? Because there was “no evidence of a fish kill”.
Why in the name of all that’s holy should there be evidence of a fish kill? This is a chronic pollution case, not an acute one. Fish kills are what you see when a sudden poisoning occurs, as pollutants are flushed into a healthy living system. Chronic pollution deprives fish of their habitats and prey, but no investigator in their right mind would expect to see them floating belly up in the river as a result. They are simply absent from places where you would otherwise have found them.
And if a riverbed covered in nothing but sewage fungus suggests a “low” ecological impact, I dread to think what a high one looks like.
The same inability to distinguish between an acute event and a chronic one was revealed by another of the agency’s statements: the pollution “had a short term impact”. The slurry had plainly been pouring out of the pipe for months, as the luxuriant growths of sewage fungus show. It would doubtless have continued, had I not reported it.
The Environment Agency also told me that it had inspected the farm, and found no problems with the infrastructure, as there was plenty of space for slurry storage under the floor of the barn where the cows were kept. But, the problem, as I had explained to them, had nothing to do with slurry storage in the barn. It was caused by leakage from the outdoor slurry lagoons, where I found cow manure pouring down the hill.
They could scarcely have made a bigger mess of their investigation if they had tried. The mistakes the agency made are so fundamental and so obvious that it makes me wonder whether they are mistakes at all. What does a farmer have to do to get prosecuted these days, detonate an atom bomb?
If this were an isolated case, you could put it down to ineptitude, albeit ineptitude raised to the status of an Olympic sport. But responses like this are now the norm at the Environment Agency. It has been so brutally disciplined by cuts and by ministers’ demands that it leave farms and other businesses alone that it is now almost incapable of enforcement.
Even when the fish kills it appears to see as the only real proof of pollution do occur, in the great majority of cases it doesn’t even bother to assess them, let alone investigate and prosecute. Freedom of information requests by the environmental group Fish Legal reveal that the agency sent its investigators to visit just 16% of reported fish kills.
There was massive regional variation. While in the Anglian Central region, covering parts of Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and surrounding counties, the agency inspected 61% of these events, in Devon they investigated only 3%. (I suspect that it was only because I’m a journalist for a national newspaper that they came out at all in the case I reported). In the fishery areas on either side of it – Cornwall and Wessex – the inspection rate was, er, 0%. If you want to pollute rivers in these regions, there’s nothing stopping you.
The Environment Agency no longer prosecutes even some of the most extreme pollution events. In 2013, a farmer in Somerset released what the agency called a “tsunami of slurry” into the Wellow Brook. One inspector said it was the worst pollution she had seen in 17 years. But the agency dithered for a year before striking a private agreement with the farmer, allowing him to avoid prosecution, a criminal record, a massive fine and court costs, by giving £5000 to a local charity.
New rules imposed by the government means that such under-the-counter deals, which now have a name of their own – enforcement undertakings – are likely to become more common. They are a parody of justice: arbitrary, opaque and wide open to influence-peddling, special pleading and corruption.
I see the agency’s farcical investigation of the pollution incident I reported as strategic incompetence, designed to avoid conflict with powerful landowners. Were it to follow any other strategy, it would run into trouble with the government.
These problems are likely to become even more severe, when the new cuts the environment department (Defra) has just agreed with the Treasury take effect. An analysis by the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts reveals that, once the new reductions bite, the government’s spending on wildlife conservation, air quality and water pollution will have declined by nearly 80% in real terms since 2009/10.
It’s all up for grabs now: if you want to wreck the living world, the government is not going to stop you. Those who have power, agency, money or land can – metaphorically and literally – dump their crap on the rest of us.
Never mind that the government is now breaking European law left right and centre, spectacularly failing, for example, to ensure that all aquatic ecosystems are in good health by the end of this year, as it is supposed to do under the water framework directive. It no longer seems to care. It would rather use your tax money to pay fines to the European Commission than enforce the law against polluters.
I’ve heard the same description of Liz Truss, the secretary of state for environment, who oversees the work of the Environment Agency, from several people over the past few months. “Worse than Owen Paterson”. At first, I refused to take it seriously. It’s the kind of statement that is usually employed as hyperbole, such as “somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan”, or “more deluded than Tony Blair”. But in this case, they aren’t joking. Preposterous as the notion of any environment secretary being worse than Mr Paterson might seem, they mean it.
Nowhere, as far as I can discover, in Liz Truss’s speeches or writing before she was appointed, is there any sign of prior interest in the natural world or its protection. What we see instead is perhaps the most extreme manifestation of market fundamentalism on this side of the Atlantic. She founded the Conservative Free Enterprise Group, and was co-author of the book Britannia Unchained, that laid out a terrifying vision of a nation run by raw economic power, without effective social or environmental protection. Now she has a chance to put that vision into practice.
Those who have tried to engage with her describe her as indissolubly wedded to a set of theories about how the world should be, that are impervious to argument, facts or experience. She was among the first ministers to put her own department on the block in the latest spending review, volunteering massive cuts. She seems determined to dismantle the protections that secure our quality of life: the rules and agencies defending the places and wildlife we love.
Bureaucracy and regulation are concepts we have been taught to hate, through relentless propaganda in the media. But they are essential pillars of civilisation. They make the difference between a decent society and a barbarous one.
While this essay from Monbiot clearly concerns a river in the South-West of England and may therefore not relate to readers in other parts of the UK or the world, those closing sentences [my emphasis] do relate to all of us wherever we are on this planet.
Bureaucracy and regulation are concepts we have been taught to hate, through relentless propaganda in the media. But they are essential pillars of civilisation. They make the difference between a decent society and a barbarous one.
Tomorrow, I will return to Piper Cubs flying out of Dunkeswell!
That website is full of great information and any readers living in the UK who have not come across them before are highly recommended to have a good browse. One item that caught my eye was the Precious Memories link.
The loss of a pet is always a devastating and traumatic experience but even more so for the owner of a PAT dog or cat who has brought much love and companionship to many people, as well as to their owners.
This page contains lasting memorials to some PAT dogs and PAT cats who have given much to society by regularly visiting in Hospitals, Hospices, Residential homes or Day Care Centres.
Baggy was a Finnish Lapphund and a wonderful and loving companion. She enjoyed taking part in many canine events including passing the KCGC Bronze, Silver & Gold awards, agility, showing and heel work to music, Baggy loved to go on a camping trip in the caravan or a trip down the river in our boat.
Baggy had two litters of puppies and two sons one from each litter are PAT dogs and her grand daughter is also a PAT dog. Baggy was my first PAT dog and she loved to go visiting in our local Residential home bringing joy and love to many people.
We love and miss Baggy so much our special sweet little friend.
The last aspect of the Pets As Therapy site that I want to refer to is their blog: Dog Dog Dog. Do drop in there and read some of the wonderful stories of those caring dogs.
That very nicely leads on to two videos that I quickly came across.
The first is described, thus:
Published on Dec 19, 2013
Follow Fraser, a black lab-golden mix, who has been a part of HCA Virginia’s unique Pet Therapy program since 2007. For several years, Fraser has spread comfort, compassionate care and joy to the faces of countless patients and staff at Chippenham and Johnston-Willis Hospitals from Tucker Pavilion and the Thomas Johns Cancer Hospital to many other areas. Catch a glimpse of how pet therapy is a source of alternative care for those in need.
While the second is about the therapy dog test.
Published on Dec 16, 2012
Achilles, my German Shepherd Dog, taking the Therapy Dog International test for certification.
Having this certification will allow Achilles and I to visit people in the hospital and other health care facilities.
Achilles is an AKC Obedience trained competitor and was able to pass the TDI test using that training and experience rather than special training for the test.
If you are interested in making your dog a TDI Therapy Dog go to their web site for information on how to accomplish that.
(Please note that this is a long post that potentially may be upsetting for some readers. Please trust me when I say there is no intention to upset anyone. I should add that the motivation for writing The Pen is from reading Sue Dreamwalker’s recent post Cracking our Inner Shells.)
Yesterday, I wrote about the circumstances of my father’s death on December, 20th 1956. I wrote:
I became twelve-years-old in November, 1956. Just six weeks after my twelfth birthday, on the evening of December 19th, 1956, my mother, as normal, came into my bedroom to kiss me goodnight. However, what transpired was very far from normal.
For she sat down on the edge of the bed and told me that my father was not well and may not live for much longer. To this day, I can still see her sitting on the edge of the bed, adjacent to my knees covered by the sheet and bedcover, a very drawn look on her face.
I had been aware of my father being at home in bed for a while but had no notion whatsoever, prior to this moment, that he was seriously unwell. In hindsight, it was more than I could emotionally embrace for not only did I not go back into my parent’s bedroom and again say goodnight to my father, I went off to sleep without any problem.
During that night, in the early hours of December 20th, my father died, the family doctor attended and my father’s body was removed; I slept through it all and awoke in the morning to find my father gone.
It’s also relevant to reveal that it was deemed potentially too upsetting for my sister, Elizabeth, my junior by four years, and me to attend my father’s cremation.
OK! Fast forward to 2006. I was happily married to Julie, my third wife, and had been since the year 2000. Her daughter from a previous marriage, Amy, was also part of the family. We were living in a three-bedroomed converted stone barn known as Upper Barn in the village of Harberton, a few miles west of Totnes, Devon, South-West England. A lovely tranquil home in a very tranquil village; population 300 persons.
I had my two wonderful sisters, Corinne and Rhona, from my father’s first marriage, living within short distances. My work, home-based, involved offering entrepreneurial mentoring to local business owners, and my wife and I had a wonderful local network of good friends. Indeed, in the last months of 2006 I had been working with a professional psychotherapist, Jon, as he was expanding his client base from individuals to working within companies. And Pharaoh had been in the family since 2003! It seemed about as perfect as it could be for me.
December 20th, 2006 was the fiftieth anniversary of my father’s death. I could never settle into the pre-Christmas mood until after the 20th December each year and this anniversary day seemed more poignant than ever. I had missed my father since the day he had died in 1956.
As it happened, that same day Julie seemed off-colour. She was frequently in the bathroom during the day and, naturally, I was concerned. Towards the end of the day I asked what was troubling her. Julie replied that she had had a miscarriage earlier that afternoon. A year after my son and daughter had been born to my first wife in 1972/1973, I had opted to have a vasectomy! Julie’s miscarriage was not of my making.
I won’t go into the details of how my life exploded but will just say that it was traumatic in every way imaginable.
In desperation, a few weeks into the New Year of 2007, I called my psychotherapist business client, Jon, and begged him to take me on as his client. He was initially uncertain, stating that we already had a relationship, but agreed on the understanding that if he thought the counselling relationship wasn’t properly established then he would ask me not to continue working with him. Of course, I agreed.
I want to offer what has been written elsewhere by me, explaining what happened in my fourth counselling session with Jon back in 2007. Clearly my memory of what was said can’t be word perfect but the essence of the dialogue is accurate.
“Paul, when we had our first session and I asked you to relate the key life events that came to you, the first event you spoke of was the death of your father. Tell me more about that time of your life.”
“I don’t have clear memories of my father much before he died that year. He was a lot older than my mother, some eighteen years, and I had been the product of a liaison between them; my father being married at the time. They met when they were both members of an amateur orchestra in London during the height of the Second World War. My father had had two daughters with his wife and longed for a son. I came along just six months before the end of the war.”
I paused for a few moments, sensing how dipping back to that December in 1956 was making me feel uncomfortable.
“I had turned twelve-years-old in early November 1956. Just finished my first term at Grammar School. To be honest, I can’t recall when my father became ill and how long he had been bed-ridden. But on the evening of December 19th, after I had kissed my father goodnight and jumped into my bed next door, my mother came in, closed my bedroom door, sat on the edge of my bed and told me that my father was very ill and that he may not live for much longer.
It clearly didn’t register with me at any significant emotional level because I went off to sleep without any problem. But when I awoke in the morning, Mum told me that my father had died during the night, the family doctor had attended and my father’s body had been removed from the house.”
Jon looked at me and quietly asked, “What feelings do you have about that night and that morning?”
“To be honest, Jon, I have an almost complete absence of feelings. I’ve often tried to discover what I truly felt at the time or, indeed, what I feel all these years later. But the best I have ever been able to come up with is that I was never able to say goodbye. In fact, because it was decided that it would be too upsetting for me, I wasn’t even present at the funeral and cremation, thus reinforcing my sense of not saying goodbye to my father.”
There was a pause before Jon asked his next question. “So, Paul, you have a son and a daughter. What are their ages?”
“My son, Alex, is now thirty-five and my daughter, Maija, thirty-four.”
Jon put his hands together fingers-to-fingers and lent his chin against them. “So your son would have been twelve in 1984. That was when you were very busy running your own business, if I recall.”
I nodded in reply.
“So Paul, let’s say that during that year of 1984 you had been diagnosed with some terminal illness, say cancer, as with your father. That you were given a life expectancy of six months or so. What thoughts come to mind?”
“Jon, you mean in the sense of what it would have meant for Alex and Maija?”
“Wow, what a truly terrible thing to reflect upon. But what comes to mind without doubt is that I would have walked away from my business immediately. After all, it very soon wasn’t going to be my business. My kids were still living at home, of course. I would have wanted to share every minute of my life with them. Try to let them understand as much about me, who I was, what I believed in, what made Paul Handover the person he was.”
Jon almost breathed the next question into the air of the room. “Translate the circumstances of the death of your father across to your son. What I mean by that is Alex experiencing the same circumstances from your death. What’s your reaction to that situation, admittedly hypothetical situation, thank goodness?”
I reacted with an immediate passion. “To know that I was terminally ill and to keep that from my son and daughter; that’s terrible, no it’s disgusting. Then to compound it by having everything associated with my death and the disposal of my body denied to Alex and Maija …..,” I left the sentence unfinished before adding, “It’s cruel beyond description. My poor children wouldn’t have a clue as to why they were excluded from what is, whether or not one agrees with it, one of life’s most important moments.”
Jon seemed to hold my anger in the room all about us, as he asked, “How would you reword your last sentences in the manner of a headline; in just a few words?”
I hardly hesitated. “The word that comes to mind is rejection. Alex and Maija, aged twelve and eleven, losing their father in a way that suggested they weren’t important. Yes, that’s it. They would see it as a total rejection of them by their father. Not unreasonably, I might add.”
There was a silence in the room that seemed to go on forever. Then Jon said, “Paul, we are not quite up to the hour but I’m going to suggest you just sit here quietly with Pharaoh and let yourself out when you are confident of being OK to drive home.”
He added, almost as an afterthought, “Just let today settle itself into your consciousness just however it wants to. Don’t force your thoughts either way, neither dwelling on today nor preventing thoughts naturally coming to the surface of your mind. As we have discussed before, pay attention to your dreams. Maybe have a notebook by your bedside so you can jot down what you have been dreaming about. I’ll see you next Friday same time, if that’s alright with you.”
When a crossroads is neither a roadway, nor a choice of pathways, when that crossroads is in our minds, we seldom know it’s there or that we’ve made the choice to take one path and not the other until it’s long past. Sometimes, the best you can do is look for the tiniest clues as to which path one has taken in life and where one is really heading.
I had read that in a book quite recently although, typically, could no longer remember the name of the said book. It had spoken to me in a way that I couldn’t fathom, but of sufficient strength and clarity for me to jot it down on a sheet of paper. I had been sorting papers out on my desk on the Sunday following that last session with Jon when I came across the sheet. The words hammered at me again, but in a way that was now so much more full of meaning than the first time around.
Because, to my very great surprise, my nights’ sleeps on Friday and Saturday had not only been dream free but had taken me to a place of such sweet contentment that it was almost as though I had been reborn. Alright, perhaps reborn was a little over the top, but there was no question that I was in an emotional place quite unlike anything I could ever before recall. Almost as if for the first time in my life I truly liked who I was.
On the Sunday morning, after I had taken Pharaoh over to the woods for our regular walk, I called in on Corinne and shared a cup of tea with her. As I was leaving, Corinne asked me if I was alright. In querying why she had asked, Corinne simply said, “Oh, I don’t know. There’s something different about you today that I can’t put my finger on. A happiness about you that I haven’t seen in ages, possibly never seen in you.”
I gave my sister a long and deep hug and gently said, “I miss our father at times, don’t you?”
She answered, “Oh, I miss him too, miss him so much at times. He was such a wonderful, gentle man who lived for his children. Then to die at such a young age.”
As the week rolled by, I found a truth that had been denied me for the whole of my life. I couldn’t wait to share it with Jon. As I drove across to Torquay, I was full of what I wanted to say.
Jon could tell that I was fit to burst. Indeed, I had hardly sat down on the chair when Jon asked me how my week had gone.
“Jon, It’s been an amazing week. I’ve at last understood some fundamental aspects of my life.”
“That sounds wonderful, Paul, do tell me more.”
“Well, it’s this. I have now realised the emotional consequences of the way my father’s death was handled. In other words, what became hidden deep in my subconscious, far from sight, so to speak, was a belief of having been emotionally rejected. That despite that being so far down in my subconscious world, it clearly explained two conscious ways in which I behave.”
Jon’s demeanour, his wonderful listening demeanour, encouraged me to continue. “The first thing that came to me was the reason why I have been so unfortunate in my relationships with women. Well this is how I figured it out. Whenever a woman took a shine to me, I would do anything and everything to come over as a potentially attractive spouse. In other words, I was being driven by a terrible fear of rejection, rather than rationally wondering if this woman had the potential to be a woman I would love as a wife. Ergo, I oversold myself and, inevitably, made poor long-term relationships; Julie being the classic example.”
I paused and took a sip from the glass of water that was on the small table by my side.
“But the positive aspect of my fear of rejection is that throughout the whole of my business and professional life, I have been successful. Because, I have always put the feelings of the other person above my own as a means of avoiding rejection. Jon, I can’t tell you what a release this has been for me.”
“Paul, that’s a fabulous example of how when we really get to know the person we are, how it then gives us a psychological freedom, a freedom to be the person we truly are, to be happy with ourselves.”
He continued, “One thing I should mention is this. It’s likely that what happened to you back in December 1956 is not necessarily ‘hard-wired’ but certainly is a very deep-rooted emotional aspect of who you are. This new-found awareness will be of huge value to you but that sensitivity to rejection is not going to disappear; probably never will. The difference is that you are now aware of it and quite quickly you will spot the situations, as they are happening, that stir up those ancient feelings. The difference is this new self-awareness will deliver a much deeper emotional understanding of who you are and why you behave in the way you do.”
There was a wonderful sense of peace and calm in the room that ran on for some minutes.
Then Jon just voiced what seemed like the perfect closing thought. “Paul, this mindfulness you have so beautifully revealed is wonderful. You do know you are fine, don’t you!”
I was motivated to reveal these details of my past by what Sue wrote in her recent post Cracking our Inner Shells. She included these words:
Sometimes we have to go within to the silent places we all have in order to find out what is really going on with our emotional bodies. Even knowing all the things I do, we are within our Human form to learn and grow..
I needed to ask myself a few questions as to why I was feeling so lost, depressed and sad… More was going on than just bereavement. Yes the fall I had had,both bruised and shook me, but what else was shaking me to the core?
For those who know a little about my Soul Journey, You will also know that my own Mother and I had not spoken for 10 years prior to her passing some eleven years ago now….Despite many attempts I knew I was only wounding myself more by continually trying to bridge the rift, to be continually rejected.. So this rejection and other issues related to overwork and stress, resulted in a Nervous Breakdown in my mid forties..
So when my Mother died, while I was sad, I guess I never really grieved her loss. Because to me.. I had grieved her long before her death as lost to me.. As I had had to shut down my emotions to cope with her rejection.. I had undergone counselling within my breakdown, and my Mother jumped up at every dark corner of why even in my teens I had suffered from deep depression.
We often go through whole chapters of our lives creating a protective shell around ourselves because we need it in order to heal from some early trauma. I know I had built many such Layers of shell around myself from various experiences over the years..
But more than that, I recommend that if you have any sense of there being hidden parts of your consciousness that would be better brought to the light, then you involve a professional counsellor or psychotherapist. For the reward will be beyond measure.
As mine was.
For on December 14th, 2007 I first met Jean when invited to San Carlos in Mexico for the Christmas period by Suzann and Don Reeves; Suzann being the sister of my very long-term Californian friend Dan Gomez.
Jean and I have now known each other for over seven years and have been married for over four years. I love her beyond imagination. Because I can reveal to Jean the strange, quirky, often fragile person that I am. And I am loved for who I am by Jean.
This is the poem I wrote for Jean for this Valentine’s Day just gone.
What’s in a number?
Numbers spell out so much.
From a year of birth,
To a year of death,
From a chance event,
To a predictable breath.
Numbers spell out so much more.
From the day that we met,
To the year we were joined,
From the day we married,
To this day of love today.
So many days of happiness.
Yet numbers that spill beyond the digits.
For they are reflections of times a past,
And they are beacons of our lives,
Numbers that carry so much meaning,
To places so far beyond their count.
Yet today there is a number,
A number that carries all thoughts of love,
Almost endless thoughts of love from me to you,
Two little figures that say seventy-four.
For seventy-four months ago,
This very day,
I met you,
And you met me.
I loved you so soon,
Loved you so well.
And still do.
If you have read this far then well done! 🙂 If only one person has been touched by my experiences then that is wonderful.
I shall close by publishing a paragraph towards the end of Sue’s blog post.
Only you can know the how’s and why’s of your life. The answers that you seek can be found when you start answering your own questions, Sometimes we have to get a little lost in order to find oneself again.. But the journey in finding oneself is all part of our Earth Journey.
Bronwen is a UKCP-accredited psychotherapist with nine years experience and a practice in Cambridge, Suffolk and Hungary. She is trained in the Karuna Institute in Devon in core process psychotherapy, which was the first mindfulness-based therapy in the UK. She adds to this her unique understanding of western and eastern spiritual traditions, combined with findings in new science – to find ways of helping individuals align with their true destiny. She runs retreats and workshops and group work at different times of the year.
I was vaguely aware of the name. Perhaps unsurprisingly as I was familiar with the work of the Karuna Institute at their beautiful location at Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Dartmoor, Devon, some eighteen miles from where I used to live in Harberton, Devon.
Anyway, back to the theme of today’s post. Back to Jon Lavin’s email with the link. This is how that essay from Dr. Rees opened:
by Bronwen Rees on January 1, 2015
In the face of the on-going and now undeniable social, economic, environmental and political crises, there are plenty of seeds of ‘emergence’ that point to a new way forward. These are flowering in the area of sustainability, spirituality, and the reworking of ancient systems of wisdom. They point to a new way of being and relating where, it is implied, one can manifest at will one’s desires.
Whilst there is a distinct truth in much of this, and many examples where this can obviously work (vis the outpouring of new technological companies providing ever more zany products), they are very early developments fostering to individual satisfaction rather than being consciously channeled into the benefits of the collective. The scale of change in terms of consciousness has largely not yet been realized. One of the main reasons for this is the as yet imbalance in the relationship between the collective and the individual, and the lack of a conscious ethical foundation.
I sort of understood the central message but the words were getting in the way. Take this later paragraph, for instance:
Humanity is at a bifurcation point – a point of irreversible change – where conscious choice determines the future that is created. Neo-Darwinian theorists would argue that this is merely a point of survival, and given the current scientific data about the material conditions – peak oil, energy, economic chaos, severe mental health issues, the conditions would suggest that we are as a species heading for disaster. Balanced between over-population and yet greater and greater individualization with more and more apparent choice – how can the two perspectives be reconciled on this seemingly increasingly small planet?
Indeed, my email reply to Jon, having struggled through the full essay said: “Good day to you, Jon, Yes, what a fascinating essay albeit written in a manner that makes it a very tough read! Nevertheless, I have no doubt that the good Dr. is spot on in her analysis.”
The very next item opened in my email inbox was notification of a new post from Sue Dreamwalker: My Dream ∼ Translated I just had to share. Let me, in turn, share Sue’s post with you; with her kind permission, I should add.
My Dream ∼ Translated I just had to share
“Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.” ― Ludwig van Beethoven
On Jan 3rd I had a Dream.. Please click on the music video below so you can get a sense of some of my experience.. .. Sunday I tried to capture some of the images I had in the dream… So I painted.. But I saw Oh so so much more………
In the beginning of the dream.. She was Me.. As I began to sing.. but then I became the observer.. This has to be the best Dream experience ever… .. So I had to share.. I heard the Music… Music like I have never heard upon this earth… the video music is about as close as I can get to that feeling of being exalted to a higher place.. I am still so excited I cannot tell you the Love I felt within this experience.. If this is the beginning of 2015.. Whoooooh… Let it roll……..
“She stood in a gown that was a rich golden brown. Its fabric shimmered catching the light that reflected from the crystals of natural quartz that sprang up around her. The gown was long and flowing not only did it reach the floor, but it spiralled out around her in a never ending dance as it became one with the sphere of the Earth.
She took a deep breath; here she stood in the centre of the globe called Gaia.
Her hair was so long the wind picked it up to billow out behind her in long tresses. Birds flew in and amongst her strands of hair, Insects and butterflies danced within making it their home.
With breath still poised, she raised her arms like a conductor of an orchestra. She expanded her lungs and she began to Sing…. Her Soprano voice was pure. The moment her voice vibration raised higher the spiral of her gown buried deeper into the Earth. The Grass became part of her gown. Trees sprang forth from the folds of it swaying to her melody of love; Flowers opened their blooms, each petal giving separate notes in a wonderful exotic dance of harmonic ripples.. Love notes rippled like the keys of the piano. The buds on the trees open their leaves their notes sounded deeper like a million cello’s. Birds sang their flute like songs and the butterflies wings danced lighter than bell chimes.
Water trickled into streams, clear and sparking like the strings of the violin.. They swelled in a crescendo in waves that beat the rocks crashing in like kettle drums smashing like symbols into glistening spray..
The Whales joined in her song a mournful lament, while deep in the jungle the elephants gave a low rumble to acknowledge they had heard.. The roar of the Big Cats were heard above the cries of the orangutan’s
As the Thunderous machines of man cut swaths leaving deep scars that screeched like vultures circling over head, to give way to silence………. as they circled over the corpses of everything left dying in its wake..
She paused……………. ready to continue…….. Her arms raised high above her head, she Sang.. her voice becoming a crescendo with the Earth, her breath became the Spiral.. Her Hair became the Wind.. The notes she sang sprang forth from her mouth forming hearts and stars.. Every living creature now joined in her song…
She knew her Song of love was being joined by so many more.. She was ONE with ALL.. She was part of our Earth Mother..”
I hope you enjoyed reading about this Dream and I hope you enjoyed listening to the wonderful music of the PianoGuys
See you all very soon…
In a very strange way, I read the same messages from Dr. Rees and from Sue but presented in such opposite ways: one way so complex and one way to clear. So strongly reinforced by their respective closing words. Here’s Dr. Rees:
Whilst there is real potential for the expansion of consciousness, this does not by any means suggest that this will arise without individual effort and struggle. All the enlightened masters of the past needed to move through this gateway – the difference between then and now is that the conditions are far riper for more individuals to undergo this – and indeed can be seen as a biological necessity for the survival of the human species. Thus as individuals, we cannot avoid this, but what we can do, and indeed as a biological and spiritual imperative, we can support one another and help organize ourselves in dedication of this purpose, in a mutual recognition of each individual uniqueness yet shared destiny.
Here are Sue’s closing words: “She knew her Song of love was being joined by so many more.. She was ONE with ALL.. She was part of our Earth Mother..”
However, there is one uniting theme I read from both of them: Hope!