9/11 Photo Memories 12 Years Later: Look for the Helpers

It’s a bright, clear afternoon outside my window as I write. No big terrifying surprise today like there was 12 years ago. But enough memories to keep me aware, grateful, and humble. I just viewed Time Magazine’s article “9/11: The Photographs That Moved Them the Most.”  The industry’s leading photo editors, photographers, authors, educators and bloggers were interviewed on which images from 9/11 moved them most and why. I wonder what your answer would be? Here’s mine:

As I was going through the photos and reading these people’s memories, every image was more emotional than the next. I remember feeling again what all of these photographers described – shock and horror at the incredible human loss and destruction, anger and sadness that there is so much misunderstanding and violence in the world, gratitude for all who ran in when everyone was running out, and…

I remember all the people whom I knew who were in the area at that time who were safe.

I remember the email I received from a colleague three days after 9/11 in honor of one who didn’t make it home.

I remember speaking in New York and visiting Ground Zero three weeks after 9/11. I remember the wet ash-filled streets and acrid smell still in the air, the tower’s steel beams that looked like overcooked spaghetti laying on the ground and the blocks and blocks of photos and mementos of missing family members pinned to security fences along the street.

And now, twelve years later, I also remember what keeps my heart open —  the simple words of Mr. Rogers to parents when they asked him what to tell their children: “Look for the helpers.”

I did. Here’s a photo I took. Helpers everywhere.

9/11 Ground Zero Three Weeks Later

9/11 Ground Zero Three Weeks Later

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Buddy (2000-2013) "Dogs are miracles with paws."

The Wisdom of Dogs: 10 Lessons I Learned From Buddy


My sister said her forever good bye to her 13 year old Lab Buddy yesterday while I was at a conference for local non-profit volunteers and caregivers who do grief and hospice work. I wish I could make it easier for her and everyone who loses someone they love. As I’ve thought about this I’m reminded of how death has this way of crystallizing loving memories and wisdom and carrying these gifts into the present moment for the heart to hold onto when the waves of stress, grief and pain come crashing down.

Christmast_1963_colorWhen we were kids and one of our pets died, my mother told me that the animals went to “Happy Hunting Ground” and St. Francis of Assisi helped them find their way. I always wondered how to get to Happy Hunting Ground and if it was in Santa’s backyard because my first puppy “Sammy” came from Santa and that gift made me the happiest I’d ever felt.

Fast forward to today and Happy Hunting Ground, St. Francis, Santa, and every beloved pet and human who have died now reside in my heart and my computer. Since I live 2500 miles away from my sister, the first place I went after I got off the phone with her so I could stay emotionally connected to her was to my photo and video file folders.

What a treasure trove. I found photographs and videos of Eileen and Buddy I’d taken two years earlier when we were at Family Camp. Buddy’s spirit and his devotion to Eileen (and her to him and her other Lab Flora) inspired me to make a short 45 second movie that is posted above. This Buddha dog was a great teacher. Here are 10 lessons I learned from Buddy that morning on Lake Michigan:

    1. Keep your eye on the ball.
    2. Learn to entertain yourself.
    3. Play more.
    4. Shake off what annoys you.
    5. Persist. If you can’t find it, keep digging.
    6. Trust.
    7. And dance a little while you’re at it.
    8. Jump for joy when you find what you’re looking for.
    9. Celebrate with others.
    10. Do it again, please.

If you’ve ever had to let go of a dog or other pet you loved, aging or otherwise, I know you’ll identify with Eileen’s thoughts on loss and gratitude that she shared on her Facebook page:

“I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of thoughts and virtual hugs after the loss of Buddy. The emotion from the loss of a pet feels the same as the loss of a human, we just don’t have as many rituals with pets or pet loss bereavement leave ? so the process seems to go faster, not sure it is better. I am glad I was brave enough to have Buddy put down in his own backyard, under the sun, in the outdoors. It was peaceful. I am lucky for my family & friends who were with me.

“I was actually Buddy’s second owner as I adopted him after a neighbor passed away. In his previous life, Buddy was an accomplished hunter with an incredibly muscular body. I let him get soft & spoiled. He was a goof of a dog as most labs are. I will miss his idiosyncrasies…needing to be nearby, laying on the rug right outside the shower, needing to sleep with his butt in my face, and barking in my face til I would take him out for a walk.

“Thanks again everyone from the bottom of my heart!”

Buddy (2000-2013) "Dogs are miracles with paws."

What pets have touched your heart? What have you learned from your animals? Please share in the comment box below.

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Inspired Action: Life is Always Guiding You. Are You Listening?

I am always amazed – although I shouldn’t be because it happens often enough to know it exists – when Life intuitively provides for the continuation of our joy, well-being and safety if we take the time to listen. And actually, even when we don’t listen, given the number of accidents and unexpected deaths around the world on a daily basis that don’t happen to us.

Life’s guidance shows up in so many unique, wonderful and surprising ways as I discovered again in a news report from Good News Network that is so good it’s worth repeating.

Tami Akanuma, 83-years-old, who lives in Miyako, Japan, saved her own life by following her dog Babu’s insistence on going out for a walk and taking a different route minutes after the big earthquake in Japan struck. Instead of going toward the beach as they usually did, the dog pulled her in the opposite direction up a steep hill and wouldn’t stop pulling, as if to rush her along.

Tami was surprised because the dog never wanted to go that way in the past. But she relented, flashing in the moment on a memory of an earthquake and subsequent tsunami 78 years earlier (78 years!) that destroyed the town in which she lived. Imagine! She was only five years old back then! Her intuition – her inner GPS that tapped into her life experience, along with her dog’s natural instinct for survival – and possibly even love for Tami – offered her information and guidance. Fortunately for Tami and Babu, she listened, took inspired action and started walking up the hill.

As Tami got to the top of the hill just minutes later, where an evacuation center just happened to be located, the woman turned around and saw a tsunami roar through the neighborhood below and wash away her home. According to Wikipedia, 339 lives were lost in this small city and only 30 of the 1000 fishing boats that support the livelihood of 57,000 people remain.

Every time I read one of these stories that shows the powerful guidance system that Life provides us for free, I feel excited, relieved, more confident, and determined to pay closer attention to my own inner voice, now lovingly referred to as Life’s IV – the energetic intravenous therapy that keeps me alive and well – when I listen and take inspired action.

One technique to connect to my inner GPS that I’ve found really helpful when I’m reading information, especially news information, is to notice the thoughts, memories, or messages that my mind gives me about my own life while I’m reading. These insights often come quickly – in less than a second – and disappear as quickly, but their impact registers in my body, usually from the area around my heart and up to the top of my head (also believed by some to be energetic communication centers, also known as chakras). Occasionally, they’ll show up in other areas of my body – my gut, my feet, an old injury, triggering cellular or muscle memories.

Some people dismiss this information as frivolous. Others are afraid of it so push it away. Some are so outer focused, they miss their inner guidance altogether. I’ve done all, but when I listen and take inspired action, I am always amazed by the results. What about you?

Life is always talking to you. Are you listening?

Read the story about Tami and Babu on Good News Network.

Share your thoughts in the comment box below. Thanks for connecting.

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