Coloured portrait

Coloured portrait

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Law of Attraction or Personal Development?

Why I don't think about what I want to attract, the law of attraction etc:
When I want to attract something, I seek to attract an "it", an object, and by placing my intention on a separate object I make myself ineffective because the world is filled with objects outside of my control. Very annoying, isn't it. All those pesky objects with a life of their own within and without my directed magnetism!
Instead, I focus my intention on myself, the subject "I": what I intend to experience, embody, express, create, generate and accomplish. I have greater leverage placing my intentions, thought and actions on the qualities I seek to cultivate, the relationships I seek to create and nurture, the circumstances I seek to create or at least influence. This way the subject "I" is in the driver's seat, not some separate object. That's how I improve myself, how I develop skills and mastery. 
It is possible to influence other people and the unfolding of events. That takes qualities to cultivate, skills to develop, resources to generate, identify, manage and utilize, opportunities to seize, all of which depends on the self, the subject "I".
You are made of energy, and resonate with objects that you attract, and you're more effective when you focus on improving your self rather than chasing an other.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

100 Danish Kroner - a story from Behind the Iron Curtain

“Jeg kan ikke tale dansk”

Early 1980’s Eforie Nord, a Black Sea shore resort

The Europa restaurant is as spacious as a wedding hall, brimming with foreign tourists, the tables covered with white table cloth and boasting the colours, aromas and textures of the finest Romanian cuisine. 

I am a tourist guide for the summer, a Commerce student at the Academy of Economic Studies, doing my practicum and having the time of my life. I am twenty years old, and the summer spent on the seashore, living in a hotel room and eating in restaurants is a dream. I have trained the whole year for this job, each Thursday - the Army day. The only women recruited to do the obligatory military service were university students - the young men had served before university, right after high school. Thursdays were assigned as women’s Army Day, and I had managed to get a medical excuse from the army, not having one bone in my body as a soldier. I did have to wear the khaki uniform for a few weeks before that, and learned to salute all officers I’d meet on the street, bringing my hand to the hat and saying: “Sa traiti tovarase (gradul)!” - May you live, comrade (rank), to which the answer would most often come as: “Sarut-manusitele, Domnisoara” - kiss your little hands, Missie”. Once my Thursdays were freed up, I signed up for the Tourism Guid course, which promised a summer of fun and legal contact with foreigners, a treat for any citizen behind the Iron Curtain who wanted to hear stories of life on the other side, the West. 

I am assigned to work with Danish tourists, and part of my job is to welcome them at the airport, bring them to the coach that takes them to their hotel, get each tourist a room, then accompany them during meals and supervise the restaurant’s service, and take any sick tourist to the doctor. I share a hotel room with another guide, and eat my meals at the restaurant - a different menu than the tourists, a lesser quality and portion - unless I charm the waiter, which I do, to sneak a better morsel to my plate. 

The Romanian sea shore is a dream for Westerners on a budget: it has miles of wide, fine sand beaches, great entertainment with lively discotheques and bars, and the hotels and restaurants cost close to nothing due to currency exchange. The Romanian leu is worth a tiny fraction of the US Dollar, or Deutsche Mark, and the seaside attracts both retirees and the younger folks, some of them travelling on their unemployment assistance income. My current life’s purpose is to pack as much fun into my life as possible, and wearing trendy clothes and a permed hair, I hang out with the young tourists and speak only English in order to pass for a foreigner and sneak into the Dollar-only discotheques to dance the night away. Romanian law forbids Romanian citizens from owning foreign currency, and implicitly from entering the exclusive discos where entrance fee is charged in foreign money only.  The only place I do not dare enter is the Dollar Stores - no, not the North American style cheap stores where everything costs a dollar. These are exclusive stores which operate on foreign currency alone and are reserved for foreign citizens, stores where all the goods are imported treats and small luxuries from French perfumes, fragrant deodorants and soaps to trendy sunglasses, makeup, Swiss Toblerone chocolates, Danish Tuborg beer, Wrigley’s chewing gum and Mentos to fancy alcohol and - mark of the time-, high-end cigarettes showcasing the Kent brand, a local grey market currency and bribe. None of those treats and luxuries are anywhere to be found on the local market for Romanians, and as citizens we are banned from entering since we’re banned to own foreign money, but staring at the shop’s window and drooling over the goodies is not regulated by law, so I do quite a bit of that. 

This sunny summer mid-day meal is busy, and I walk among the restaurant tables, greeting my tourists, and asking them how they are doing, if they are happy with their meal. All of the young ones speak English, but less so of the older folk, so we communicate relying mostly on facial expressions and gestures. It’s summer vacation, the atmosphere is light, fun is in the air, there’s laughter and a care-free time and place. This group of older Danish women seem to be happy with my presence, in spite of the language barrier, and one of them reaches into her purse and offers me a 100 kroner bill as a tip - worth about 18 US dollars. 

I panic.

If she pointed a gun at me, I wouldn’t be as afraid as I am of the crisp paper bill that this woman waves at me. The restaurant is crowded and the paranoia kicks in: somewhere in the crowd there must be at least one Securitate officer who watches me like a hawk, waiting for me to touch foreign money so he can quickly send me to prison. 

I refuse the money and say no, but I lack the vocabulary to say why not. All I can say in Danish is “Jeg kan ikke tale dansk” - I can’t speak Danish, which only makes things worse, because I apparently say that with such an impeccable accent that it sounds like I’m lying. 

The tourist wins, the Danish money bill is in my hand, and it burns me like fire. I hide it in a pocket and run to see Berit.

Berit is my new Swedish friend and confidant, a fun-loving woman and the only summer friend I get to keep throughout the years. I knock at her door flustered, and hand her the 100 kroner bill: “Here, take that!”

“Why?” Berit asks, puzzled.

“I can’t be seen or found with this money on me!” I exclaim. I can’t hide the money in my room -rumours have it that the hotel staff work in collaboration with the Securitate, and while they clean the rooms, they also go through suitcases and drawers.

“What do you want me to do with this money?” Berit asks.

“Go to the Dollar store and buy me some things with it” I whisper.

“Let’s go together so you can choose what you want” she suggests.

“No!” I exclaim in panic. “I can’t set foot in there”.

Berit goes to the store and brings me a shiny, colourful plastic bag (in itself a small luxury for that time and place) filled with chocolate, Mentos, soap and deodorant. I sneak my illegal treasure into my room, and place it on the lap of the first person who travels to Bucharest, to send it to my parents. I keep the mentos and chocolate, and get rid of the evidence in no time. 

Nobody wants to go to jail for being caught in the possession of Mentos. 

And Berit returns to Sweden after her holiday, and mails me a care package with colourful Swedish socks and a cornucopia of goodies. I die and go to heaven. 

Monday, January 20, 2020

A Short Date with Mario - Stories behind the Iron Curtain

A Short Date with Mario

Bucharest, early 1980’s

I could have walked to school this sunny afternoon. The twenty minutes city stretch from home to the Academy of Economic Studies - ASE - flows through a dance of golden sun rays and the long shadows cast by the buildings which guard the sides of Calea Dorobanti. I walk with ease and pleasure, even when wearing stiletto heels - I wear them when I dance, and walking is mere balancing practice for the dance floor. 

When Mario offered to drive me, I accepted, too embarrassed to decline in spite of the fears to be seen in a 12B licence plate car. 

I had met Mario in the college disco and was delighted to date him. He was a tall, handsome, poised and confident American Jewish medical school student of Romanian descent, and a nice catch for a single Jewish Romanian girl. This school day afternoon he dropped in for a visit to my parents’ apartment, together with a girlfriend from out of town, Marta, and her cousin who lived a few streets away from me. We shared a chat, some snacks and tea and coffee, and then Mario offered to drop all of us girls wherever we needed, first drop the cousin, then Marta and me at ASE. 

During the communist regime and Ceausescu’s dictatorship there was a law forbidding Romanian citizens from having contact with foreigners. If we did talk with a foreign citizen, even briefly, were were required by law to report it to the Militia - the Romanian police - within 24 hours from the contact. Or else. Nobody knew what exactly would happen, but rumours circulated, whispers about people imprisoned on all sorts of accounts. Any society needs rules to function: rules are the boundaries that glue societies together. Free, democratic societies have clear rules, with clear consequences of breaking those rules. Oppressive societies are vague about their boundaries, and breed paranoid fears, as nobody knows for sure what is permitted and what is forbidden, so everything scares you. 

12B was the license plate series assigned to foreign residents. Car keys dangling in his hand, jingling with each swaying of his long and muscular arm, Mario led us girls to his red BMW parked down the street. Mouth dry with fear I sat in the passenger’s seat, keenly aware of my high visibility, in a street filled with muted colours Dacias, the national car, I was riding a bright red 12B BMW. Marta and her cousin sat on the back bench, and Mario took off on Calea Dorobanti, and made an illegal left-turn on Bulevardul Dacia, to drop the cousin off.  

Right after the turn, two militia men stopped him, and ordered everybody out of the car. The main officer asked for identity papers, then he released everyone but me. 

“You’re coming with us, Comrade” the officer announced me. 

“Wherever she’s going, I’m coming with her, sir” Mario replied, to protect me. 

“No sir, you’re free to go” replied the officer.

“I came with her, I’m staying with her” replied Mario.
“Sir, she will be fine. You can go in peace, and call her tonight, she’ll be at home. Nothing to worry, go now.” The militia man reassured Mario, who left reluctantly. 

I followed the officer to a room at the back of a grocery store - “Alimentara”. An empty room with a bare wooden table and two chairs. I was ordered to sit and empty the content of my purse on the table. Chewing gum, pen, phone book, personal care products, the pill, hair band, lipstick. The pill. He’s going to see my contraceptive pills. I panic. 

“You know why I kept you with me and not the other girls, comrade?” Asks the officer.

“I don’t know, comrade.”

“You were seated in the passenger’s seat. You must be the girlfriend”.

The officer looks at me like I’m a slut, yet another girl who gives her body to a foreigner for a nice restaurant meal or gifts from abroad. 

“Are you going to marry him?”

I’m mute. Don’t know what to answer. This was my first date with Mario. Am I going to marry him?

“ Hai, mie poti sa-mi spui “ - “Come on, you can tell me” says the officer, putting on a voice that’s meant to reassure me, but has the opposite effect.

“No, comrade, I am just dating him” I barely whisper. I don’t know what’s going to happen with me. Nobody knows where I am, this is the time long before mobile phones, I can’t scream for help, will I disappear in a prison cell? I imagine the worst. My mouth is dry and my belly is tight as if in a thousand knots. 

“How did you meet this man?” The militia man asks.

I lie.

I had heard rumours that if militia men stops you for engaging with foreign citizens, and they learn that you’re Jewish, they let you be. Far better than forty-fifty years ago, this is a good time to be Jewish, if there’s one: there are some advantageous unwritten agreements between the regime and the Jewish communities. All the hard currency donations coming in from Western Jewish organizations sent to support a Jewish life in Romania, are pocketed by Ceausescu’s regime. The local laws forbids Romanian citizens from owning foreign currency, so all the dollars are poured into the state’s funds and in return, the Jewish communities receive Romanian money, food, some clothing items and some benefits, the main one being the right and safety of conducting Jewish religious services, unlike other Jews behind the Iron Curtain, like the Soviet Jews, who had to hide and whisper behind shut curtains in order to practice. Also, as documented by Radu Ioanid in his “Ransom of the Jews” book, Ceausescu was exporting his Jews to Israel for a hefty price, according to age, education, and marital status. Jews are of better benefit to the state being sold to Israel than imprisoned. 

So I lie: “I met him at the Jewish community”. I breathe with hope. I don’t want to imagine what I would have said and done if Mario wasn’t Jewish. 

The officer flips through the pages of my phone book, looking at names. He says:

“Is that so? I see you have quite a lot of Romanian friends in your phone book, look, right here, and here”.

The conversation goes on and on for what feels to me like the longest time. I am reassured that I won’t be imprisoned. I am somewhat relieved.

“You know what’s going to happen?” The officer asks.

“I wish” I think to myself. I nod “No”, eyes down, instinctively trying not to provoke him with eye contact. 

“Your faculty dean will receive a letter from us. And your father will receive a letter from us at his workplace.”

All threats complete, he lets me go. 

Too late to make it to my classes, I go home, shaking. I tell my parents the whole story, and they call a family member who used to work for the Securitate, the Romanian secret services years ago, when they still employed Jews. “What can we do about this matter” my parents ask. 

“Nothing. What do you want to do? Complain about abuse of power? To whom? Who’s going to believe your daughter? Who do you think anyone will rather believe, a Jewish university student with relatives in the West, or a militia officer on the job? Just let it rest”.

And I let it rest. No letters were written, and I successfully completed my university studies, then got sold for a hefty fee to the state of Israel, where I migrated to. 

And Mario - yes, Mario called that evening. And afraid to say anything over the phone in case it was bugged, I met with him for one last brief date, in a coffee shop, where I told him what happened, shaking with fear. I told him that I was sorry, I could’t date him anymore, it was too risky for me. Mario smirked in disbelief, unable to relate to this paranoia. Just like you, my friend, who have been born and raised in a free democracy, with clear, easy to follow rules and well-known consequences for breaking them. 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Grandpa Mendel

“Where is your father from?” 

Gideon, an elderly man with a wide, open face, looks at my application form and reads my last name out loud. Then he fixes his gaze upon my eyes from across his desk and asks: “Where is your father from? Do you have relatives in Bacau?”

If you only met me since I live in Canada, you most likely think that my last name is Saler, pronounced something like ‘sales’. But in my native Romanian, there is a little sign which resembles a comma, a ‘sedila’, under the letter ’s’ which turns it into a ‘sh’. A Jewish Ashkenazi name, my last name must have been once written Schaller, the changed its spelling and kept the Germanic pronunciation. And in the whole of Romania, there has been only one family with this last name - my father’s family. 

“My father is from Bacau” I tell Gideon.

“Who is your grandfather?” He raises his eyebrows in expectation.

“Doctor Mendel Saler, the obstetritian” 

Gideon throws his arms into the air in excited revelation: “I knew your grandfather! I’m from Bacau, and I lived a couple of streets away from your grandfather’s home!”

I came to the Embassy to register my application to migrate. Gideon works for the Embassy, and still speaks Romanian. I never met my grandfather, he died when Dad was only twelve, and all I have of him are old sepia-coloured photographs, and family stories. Gideon, visibly moved, opens his drawer and offers me a blue translucent mint hard candy, reward for being the doctor’s granddaughter. 

Shaking his head, eyes pointing down to drown in memories of long-gone times, Gideon whispers: “What a man your grandpa was - a mench! What a kind, generous, extraordinary man. You don’t know the kind of person your grandfather was”

I then hear stories of how all the Jewish babies in the shtetl - the little town - were born with Dr. Mendel Saler’s help. How he was nicknamed the Doctor of the Poor, how he treated people who couldn’t afford medicine, so he would gift the medicine from his own briefcase. I heard from my father that grandpa was not a great business man - while he lived and worked, my grandmother as his assistant in his home-based practice, the family made do, but were never wealthy. I wonder if my own struggles with money and business is somehow inherited. My grandfather had two sons, my father, who became an engineer, and his older brother who became an obstetrician himself, stepping in his father’s footsteps. My uncle was as famous in Bucharest as my grandfather was in Bacau, and I heard a number of people say that the came into this world brought by my uncle. I, too, came into this world brought by my uncle. And I was asked many times if I were a relative of Doctor Saler - my uncle - and only once was I asked if I was related to the engineer Saler, my dad. The person who asked was my Latin teacher in school, and Dad had been her technology teacher some years before. I prayed he had treated her well…

Grandpa Mendel lived through war and antisemitic persecution. He was insulted by some of his colleagues for being Jewish, and he was dearly loved by his numerous patients. When he died of a stroke, he left behind a beloved memory of his kindness, and a family and household without an income. My father was twelve, and took on hard labour jobs to provide for his family, losing his father, his childhood, his health and his mood at a too young an age. I often look at personal history beginning long before conception: all that which shaped my family system and imprinted in my own psyche. I pray that I carry with me some of my grandfather’s kindness which etched so vividly in Gideon’s memory, as well as many others’.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Lessons from a Bad Marriage

I had a "lesson-resourceful" marriage and this is what I learned:
  1. Trauma. We marry our unresolved issues. We marry our shadow. We must address and heal trauma so that we don’t repeat it. We must understand trauma so that we recognize it in ourselves and in others. What to look for. What is fixable. What to avoid. 
  2. Gut feelings. Instincts. How to read the signs of your body’s warnings. To listen to the head, the heart, and the guts. This is so hugely important, it’s one topic that I feel I must must must teach, and I teach as much as I can to my clients: how to listen to the body’s information when making decisions.
  3. A good map for relationships. A good map for navigating life and relationships, which is what I’ve got with Ken Wilber’s Integral Model and the AQAL map. Crappy maps make crappy journeys. A good map is paramount. A good map shows what must be different in a relationship (the polarity, the opposites which attract) and what must be the same (values, world views, personality type).
  4. Power balance. This has been the missing lessons for many years, until I met Paul Linden, a martial artist, founder of Being in Movement, who taught me about power balance in relationships. What are the variables of personal power. What are the dynamics of relational power. How the power balance in a marriage makes the difference between dysfunction and abuse. This is a topic that I have never heard a psychotherapist utter, and I don’t know if anyone masters this topic better than martial artists, which is why Paul Linden uses his Aikido experience and skills in working with survivors of trauma and abuse. 
  5. Shadow Work - “Cleaning Up”. Identifying, addressing and cleaning up that which has caused me to choose this man and marriage from all the men in the world. I don’t believe in random luck. This inquiry has become part of my life during the marriage and while recovering from its aftermath: What’s going on inside myself that I chose this? This is an everyday endeavour: showering, brushing your teeth, vacuuming the floors, and doing shadow work. Every. Single. Day.
  6. Self improvement. The problem created at one level of personal development cannot be solved from the same level, but from a better, more comprehensive view. A college student is better equipped at resolving conflict than a kindergartener fighting over the teddy bear. Also, relationships require skills and aptitudes that those of us who didn’t have role models to learn from in our childhood are best served to learn them as adults, or else. Really, or else.
  7. Appreciation. Nobody wants to be taken for granted - nothing is more exhausting and disheartening than giving your all only to be discarded, belittled, or treated with entitlement. Appreciation must be cultivated, expressed and granted all the time, every day, for everything small and big. 
  8. Embodied presence. This is the ultimate gift in an intimate relationship. Seeing and being seen, listening deeply to each other, witnessing each other - this is the medicine and the glue that holds people together. I found out through my own body that anxiety arises when disconnected, not seen, not heard. “I’m not interested in hearing you and your story” and “I don’t want to talk about it” hurts like a bullet passing slowly through your heart, taking its time in killing you. I fell in love with my husband’s stories from his years in the wild Canadian North, and fell in love with his asking me questions and listening to my own stories during our courtship. We were a long distance relationship and started out spending hours and hours on the phone, listening to each other. When that died, our marriage died, long before separation. 
  9. Boundaries. Boundaries are rules which, like walls, are bound to protect and preserve an individual and a relationship. When I cried in pain and protest, why marriages don’t come with instructions manuals, and after hearing several well-intended people exclaim: “Boundaries!”, I had no idea what “Boundaries!” meant. I sensed it was something necessary and in my (our) case lacking, but what? How? Now I now and honestly, still learning. 
  10. Intention. Clarity of intention in creating anything, including and especially a marriage. What do you seek to accomplish by marrying this person? What needs do you have which you hope and intend for this marriage to fulfill? Why are we clear about the kind of house or car we want, but not about the kind of marriage we want? Number 10 should very likely be listed here as number 1.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Blood Sugar Health

A comprehensive view looks at health from several angles. For example, here are a few influencing factors in blood sugar health:
- Diet. You already knew that: glycemic index foods and insulin responseT, carbs, alcohol intake etc. 
- Climate. Organisms raise sugar content to prevent freezing in extreme cold weather. It's a trade-off: you get diabetes a few years down the road, but for now your blood doesn't freeze. See Sharon Moalem's book: "Survival of the Sickest". The Canadian North has a high incidence of type 2 diabetes.
- Radiation. Spend many hours daily in front of a computer or devices and chances are your body's energy will be affected. Dr. Mercola calls radiation-induced diabetes "Type 3 diabetes". 
- Personal Power and the Solar Plexus Chakra. The Solar Plexus governs the pancreas, which produces insulin. Solar Plexus is dubbed the Power Chakra, as it has to do with personal power, its healthy aspects of ability, self-regulation / self-control, and healthy influence, its negative aspects of helplessness, dysregulation, weaker relational position. When a person is chronically in a weaker relational position, oppressed, victimized and / or locked in a victim's helpless perspective, or trying hard to control others through dominance, the Solar Plexus Chakra becomes imbalanced, leaks vital force, and eventually affects the function of its governed organs and glands, including the pancreas.
If you want to address a health problem from its root cause for sustained results, you need to expand your views and take as many factors into consideration, applying Tana's Self Healing Principles of: 1) Start with the most available factors to change (easier to eliminate sugar than migrate to Costa Rica) 2) Change the heaviest-weighing factors (loving relationships where you are strong takes your health farther than your keto berries)

Friday, December 13, 2019

Anxiety and Dogs

Anxiety and Dogs

I had the first full-blown panic attack when I was eighteen. I had no name for my experience. 

My mother, who had died a year before, used to describe episodes of what she said it felt as if she was going to die. Romania of the 1960’s had no psychotherapy, no understanding or mentioning of psychological trauma, or anxiety. Mother had gone through war, lost her father and brother to antisemitic hate crime, feared for her life for being Jewish, and feared for her body for being beautiful. As a child, I felt anxiety like a low-grade simmering fear holding my belly in a tight, cold grip. After my mother’s death and my father’s depression, the low-grade cold grip became my norm, until that day, when I was eighteen.

That day the simmering came up to a boil. My head felt tense, like a balloon filled with a kind of pressure which threatened to blow it up from the inside. The tension held the neck and throat into a tight grip, and then my heart began to race and beat so fast, so loud, that I thought everyone could hear it. I thought I was going to die of a heart attack. And I was scared. This was not simmering anxiety anymore: it was raw fear. 

My father was dating his future second wife, Eliza, and I was at her home. Father called an ambulance and went outside to wait for it. Eliza sat with me, held my hand, and talked to me the whole time. 

The heart racing subsided and gave way to tremors so violent that my teeth were chattering when I tried to talk. My whole body was shaking, the head seemed gripped into a tight, painful band, and the shaking continued for a timeless while, while Eliza was telling me stories and jokes to distract me. 

I tried to respond and remember my own jokes to tell her, and after a while the tremors subsided, and I was surprised to find a sense of deep peace, deeper than I could remember in years, and an exhilaration which found me telling jokes with humour, enthusiasm and passion. By the time my father came upstairs with the paramedics, I was calm, cheerful, and felt like a fraud. 

“It’s a panic attack” - the paramedic said. 

Soon after that night I went to talk to a psychiatrist and ask him what the panic attack was about. He asked me questions about my relationships, my love life, my family life. Later on I noticed something that at the time seemed bizarre: whenever I had panic attacks, they would subside when in the company of a friend or loved one. 

But it’s not bizarre at all: we are a social species. Human beings survive and thrive thanks to cooperation. We have no claws, fangs, scales or wings, and as individuals we are as safe as a dinner for wild beasts. Our strength lies in community and cooperation. Our greatest fear, the fear of death, arises in social isolation, dysfunction and neglect. Most of the human anxiety out there is not because of natural cataclysms, but rooted in relationship dysfunction. 

Anxiety and loneliness are closely related. And social media is not the cure. Depending on the culture and climate - geographic, social and political - where you live, chances are you have a degree of loneliness and disconnect. Big North American cities like the one where I live offer human connection - touch and intimate talk - for a fee. Snuggle salons, closed circle barefoot dance events, healing touch sharing gatherings, and circling evenings are commercial responses to an unmet human need to commune and belong in supportive, caring, nurturing communities. 

As a single immigrant of Eastern European and Middle - Eastern cultural background in North America, I find myself particularly vulnerable to loneliness, and here, in this ultra-conservative town, I have revisited the cold, tight belly grip of anxiety. 

The medicine I take does not come in the form of pills: it’s golden, it’s hairy, and it sheds. Her name is Carmen, a Golden Retriever adopted through a rescue organization after being picked up as a stray dog from an Istanbul forest where she lived in a pack, malnourished and covered in fleas, for who knows how many years. This is a mutual rescue where Carmen gets her own permanent home, bed, food and care, and where I get a companion for walks, a social connector to cold faces which always soften up into smiles at her sight, someone to cuddle with that is safe, welcoming, and reliably mine. 

Dog people are a tribe. If you’ve ever been to a dog park, you know that even in the coldest of climates (weather and cultural), one can always count on a heart-warming chat dog-parent to dog-parent at any time of the day or night. Touching a dog warms up the heart. Watching the dogs greet each other and play touches a primal playful side of our own personality, which keeps us vibrant and engaged with each other. Talking about our dogs with each other is family interaction, and what softens and warms up the heart and the belly without side effects. Walking a dog (or two, or three) gets you out of the house in all seasons, all weather, and keeps you moving while doing something you love. 

You can tell advanced societies by the way they relate to animals. Boulder-based publishing house, Sounds True, allows staff’s dogs in the office. United States has long time allowed Emotional Support Animals (ESA) to accompany their humans in establishments and on travel, and recently Canada is beginning to follow suit. 

Carmen and I are trailblazers in our community and town as I request her company in communities that I belong to. I believe that more ESAs are to follow and in the future our mental health and well-being as a species will heavily rely on our old best friend, the dog.