Sunday, January 28, 2007


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Don't you just love her fuzzy little toes!

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Crashed out after an afternoon of fetch at the park

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Bless her she's so cute!

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Mocha and Kobie, I can't seem to get a decent pic of these two.

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Thurston is the most photogenic cat in the world, I'm convinced of it!

I love my kiddos!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Every Ruffdog has his day

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Today is Ruffdogs Blog day. Ruffdogs is an online community of global dog lovers. This is the friendliest place on the internet. I spend at least one hour on ruffdogs every day, just chatting with friends, learning new things, bragging about my dog, and even shopping! Ruffdogs is my safe place, my little virtual haven where I can retreat each day for a little while and just relax with friends. Ruffdog members are of all races, ages and genders and hale from exotic places all over the world. Ruffdogs members are kind, friendly, knowlegable, supportive and helpful. I'm a member of several other forums, lists, bloggroups and sites but Ruffdogs, hands down, has the best people on the internet.

It also has the most extensive array of topics I've seen on any forum. Any given day, there are between 80 and 100 topics to read on Ruffdogs. From Health, to behavior to rescue, to dogs in the news and general dog chat, if it pertains to dogs, you can find it on ruffdogs. Beyond that, Ruffdogs even has a place where you can talk about your others pets (because how many of us just have dogs?) and a lounge area where you can talk about just about anything! Ruffdogs has an extensive rescue section, where numerous rescue groups from all over the world, post about their adotable dogs. Every month, Ruffdogs hold auctions to benefit one or more of these rescue groups. Ruffdogs members donate items, then bid on them online. Its really fun, and there is always some really neat stuff! Ruffdogs newest section, dedicated to BSL is fast becoming one of my favorites. Though I have to say, the photocontests are truly the best. I love looking at all the great pictures our members post of their beautiful pets.

Long story short, Ruffdogs is a fun, safe, family friendly place for dog lovers of all ages, creeds and colors. Go on over and say hello! You'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Looking up

"If you don't like the outlook, try the uplook, it's always good." - unknown.

So I met with my boss/mentor/friend this morning and I'm feeling alot better about things. We talked about my frustrations and came to some conclusions. I'm so confident that this is what I am supposed to be doing with my life that it didn't take much to console me. Thats one problem down, anyway.

In other news, I am addicted to My Space I've only had an account for five days. I think this is some kind of record.

Today I just want to take all those people around me who are hurting and wrap them in a big warm hug, tell them they are loved, and they are worth something...maybe give them all cookies. I don't know. I just wish I could take their pain away and makes things right in the world. Sometimes it seems like the world is such a mess, that finding answers amidst the chaos is an impossible task. I must be careful not to get caught up in the myth of no effect. One person can make a difference.

Now about those cookies.....

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More tough decisions

I'm back in the states for a few days for a doctors appointment. The night before I left to come back, I ran into a few of my students in the streets. "Whatever you do, PLEASE come back!" she pleaded. I wouldn't dream of abandoning these kids, but hard times breed harder questions. I am living with a level of stress and poverty that are taking a bigger toll every day on my health, my family, and my future ability to continue with this work. Bottom line, I can't keep going like this. Something has to change and very very soon or I will be forced to make that decision, to be yet another person who walked out of their lives, leaving them empty handed.

I don't want to think it. Its hurts too bad, but I've got to face all eventualities. If things don't change, this is one of them. I talked with my Mom for a good long time tonight, and she made a valid point. For every child that throws their arms around me on the streets of Mazamitla, and begs me not to leave them, there are a hundred more someplace else in this world, that need me just as much. There is a school in Peru that "would give their right arm for someone like me" or so I'm told. But I don't want to think it.

I can't just walk away. I can't. My heart and soul belong to these kids on that mountain. Do I want to help elsewhere in the world, absolutely! But right now, it's these kids, these families and communities. I can't walk away and I can't keep living like this.

I don't know what to do. Why must my souls needs and my physical needs be at such odds? Why would God allow me to invest all of my heart and soul into a place and a people that I would only have to leave? So much doesn't make sense. It doens't feel right to leave, it doesn't sit well with any part of my being. There must be another answer. What is it?

****updated to say

Through the miracle of myspace I have a rare glimpse into the heart of the teenage soul. These kids have been through so much, they are hurting so deeply. I can't leave them, not for any reason.

A note to parents. I'm not a parent myself. I've never brought life into this world. I've never had the pressures of clothing and feeding and housing and educating a child. But I have been a child. I know the crushing pain of feeling rejected, unloved and unwanted by my parent. I see children, everyday, who feel the same way. So a word of advice to you. What your kids need from you, more than anything, is your time. Tell your kids you love them. Let them know you care. Get to know them, they are growing up, becoming fascinating, wonderful, inspiring individuals. They didn't ask to be born. Whatever stresses that have been brought into your life is not their fault. The way you treat your children affects them for the rest of their life. Where are your kids? What are they doing? How are they feeling? Find out, care, love them. Every child is a blessing from God. The parents of my students are so amazingly blessed, and they don't even KNOW IT!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Night in Mazamitla

Well the first week back after winter break was wonderful. It's amazing how much I missed this place and the kids, they're just amazing.

We are fortunate to have three visiting teachers here on loan from our site in Zacatecas for a couple of weeks. Anne and Nadja are Social Work students from the University of Basel, Switzerland. They are teaching our students intensive German. The kids LOVE it! They are just eating up knowing a third language. The classes are two hours long, but the students are just glued to their seats, soaking up every drop of the German tongue. Jeremy, is a UNT Alum in international studies and Economics, and he is teaching our kids Economics. It's AWESOME because they need this credit to graduate and now they get to learn from the expert. Also, Jeremy's focus is on Eco-Economics, which is right in line with the "green theme" our school is developing. He took the class to the park today and we drew Supply/Demand graphs in the dirt with sticks. These kids are so smart, they are picking up on this stuff really fast. I am daily amazed by their progress and their level of understanding. Think about it, these kids are being taught a third language, in their second language that they are still learning. They just eat it up. Its motivating as a teacher to see the kind of thirst for knowlege these students have. They learn with zeal, asking questions, testing the bounds of their new found knowlege, ever eager to know more, more more about the world they live in!

We are also bless with two additional teachers who will be with us all semester. Niko from New Jersey, was just looking for some meaning, and a way to make a difference in the world. Niko is a really cool guy, the best way I guess I could describe him is "on fire". I think I'm lucky to know this guy, he is going to do alot of good in this world. The other is a Social Work Graduate student from UT Austin doing her final practicum placement here at our Mazamitla site. She will be working mostly with our sustainable development programs, but being a native of Monterrey, she has agreed to teach Mexican History and Spanish literature for us this semester. I am very excited about these two. They are going to make a huge impact on this community.

Moxie came with us to the park for Economics today. She trampled on our line graph when Jeremy stood up with the stick he was drawing with and started gesturing with it. I think she thought he was going to throw it for her. It was funny, but I guess you had to be there. The kids played with her for over an hour. I think she's a little tired, she's been crashed out on the bed since we got home.

Well, happy weekend to you all.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

An odd walk

Moxie and I took our ususal walk along our usual wooded path today when we encountered something unusual.

A burro.

All by its self wandering loose on the road. She approached us ears pricked and stopped right in front of me letting me pet and stroke her. She wasn't wearing a pack or a rope or anything. Lots of farmland nearby but I had never seen her before, just cows and the odd horse.

Hmm, I thought. Nice burro. I petted her for a minute then started off on my walk again.

She followed me. Right behind me. If I stopped suddenly she would bump into me. This continued for a bit. I kept my eye out for farmers or open gates or anything but had no idea where this girl came from.

So I thought, what the heck. I wouldn't mind a nice ride through the woods this after noon. But as I walked with her to a stump where I could mount up, I noticed that she was lame on her front leg. Her hooves were badly damaged and her knees knocked into each other when she walked. One of them was obviously painful to her, she would hold it when we stopped. She stood quietly while I picked up each of her feet and examined each leg. Asside from the swelling, I couldn't find anything wrong.

But she was clearly in pain...and clearly belonged to somebody. She was so sweet. And she had none of the saddle sores and abraded area on her back or legs or neck to show that she was actively being used as a beast of burden. (So many of the burros I see down here look just pitiful.) She was a lush chodolate brown with a velvety soft cream colored muzzle and big rich black eyes, and long inquisitive ears. She was so lovely. I would have taken her home with me in an instant but for the impossible task of loading a burro into the back seat of my Saturn ion.

So I sat on a log and watched her graze for a while. Not a sould passed by. Moxie whined, "could we get on with our walk already mom! I mean if you won't let me chase it, what good is that donkey anyway!" So off we went.

We passed by her again on our way and she looked up from her patch of clover and seemed to wave at us as we passed. All in all, it was a strange encounter. Perhaps tomorrow, we will go back up on the mountain and find it was all just a dream. Or maybe, she was there to tell me something.

I think that God speaks to us in different ways. More than once I belive he has sent me an animal messenger. But what was this burros message for me?

I've thought about for a long time, and I think, maybe she was trying to tell me that its okay sometimes, to be lame, to be hurt, to allow others to walk on their own, rather than carry them as you always do. Even a beast of burden deserves a day spent in the cool of a shade tree in a patch of clover.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007


May I be the first to blog my congratulations to Jamie and Wade on their recent engagement. It really couldn't have happened to a nicer couple. I wish you nothing but love, happyiness and success all the rest of your lives together. (A diamond ring beats a Golden Retriever puppy any day!) Jamie has been a dear friend for many years and I have known her through several boyfriends, and believe me when I say that Jamie and Wade are a match made in heaven!

While I'm sending out congratulations, let me add a few that I have missed in my abscence from the real world.

Congratulations to Marie and Kyle on their engagement! I promise to be there for the wedding. I wish you both all the happiness!

Congratulations Sarah and Kevin on your marriage! I'm sorry I missed the grand event. If I had it to do again, I wouldn't. I wish you both the very best in your lives together.

Congratulations Kim and John(I think) on your marriage! I am sorry too, to have missed your big day. I hope to see you soon and catch up. I still have your wedding gift all wrapped up and ready to give to you. I hope for happiness and peace in your lives (and a cat-pee free sofa)

Congratulations to Brandie and Matt on the birth of their first child, Joseph. He is the most amazing little child I have ever seen. He is also the luckiest, he has the best parents he could ever hope for. Love to all three of you.

I'm so happy that the people in my life have found so much joy!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Future Without Poverty - Poverty Has No Borders (English)

So it's been a rough couple of days. I've been pretty stressed out, overwhelmed and depressed. Even being back in Mazamitla has done little to lift my spirits. I was feeling pretty worthless, until, someone asked me, "what are you doing in Mexico?"

I went to our website to find a video link. I sat and watched this video five or six time and just cried and thanked God for bringing me here to do this work. Its not hopeless. Its a big job, but it can be done. One person CAN make a difference.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I don't like people who don't like dogs

I don't understand people who look at animals like, "ew, gross" These are not people I want to spend time with, but I don't have a choice. Hopefully they won't look at the poor people I work with and think, "ew, gross". One can only hope.

You know what else I don't understand. Drama. Human drama, the kind created by people who obviously have nothing better to do with their time that go around telling lies and starting rumors and spreading hatred. People like that are simple minded and a drain on society. Why don't you go do something productive, eh? Let someone who actually cares about others, do her job and make a difference in the world.

I'm having a bad day, can you tell?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Post from Moxie

I caught Moxie on the computer and found this post in her Dogster diary. I thought it was cute.

"So Mom wrote all about her new years resolutions in her blog, so I thought I would make some resolutions and write about them here.

This year, I will not chase horses and I will stay off of balconies. I will swim in the lake and run with my friends every chance I get. I will fetch my tennis balls and squeak my toys with joy. I will go outside and go potty when mommy says, even if it's raining. I will love my humans with all the love in my little puppy heart. I will give kisses when they are sad, and I will play with them when they are happy. I will never let food go to waste. I will act as both referee and keeper of the rule book for the cats. I will nap in the sunshine, and I won't be scared of thunderstorms. I will live every day to the fullest.

You know, I don't know why you humans have to resolve to do things. With the exception of the not chasing horses part, I do all of those things everyday anyway. Its just part of being a dog."

I would do well to be more like my dog.

Monday, January 08, 2007


A tribute to my cats. The players are Kobie the orange tabby, Mocha the brown Tabby, and Thurston the Black and White, with appearances by Tyler, brown tabby and Puzzles, Black and white, now in kitty heaven.

No dog for me

Well after a long night of soul searching, I decided its not a good time to bring a dog into my life, for the same reasons its not a good time to bring a child into my life, it's too unsettled.

When I decided to pursue this work in Mexico, I knew that I was going to have to make alot of personal sacrifices. First, I've had to all but abandon my two cats, Mocha and Kobie, with my elderly Mother. Driving back and forth is great with Moxie, the easy going, car ride lovin dog, but the cats aren't so interested in Marathon travel. It isn't really safe for them in Mexico either. If they were to get out (which, with the way the kids are ALWAYS leaving the door open is really a matter of when) they wouldn't make it ten minutes. Plus there is the ever present threat of no real vet care available in Mazamitla. So personal sacrifice number one was giving up my babies, something I would never have done under ordinary circumstances. Pets are for life, I firmly believe that. I still support them financially, and I spend time with them when I am home, but they are essentially abandoned. They certiantly remind me of it everytime I see them. Anyone who says animals aren't spiteful, never owned cats.

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So aside from losing my cats, which some might not see as a sacrifice, I've lost alot of other things. In many ways, I've lost my friends. Even my friendship with Syl has suffered from the lengthy separations. Its just hard to keep up with someone who lives in another country, and is so insanely busy, that odd email is all that keeps you connected. People have lives, they move on, and I end up alone. Granted, the depression went a long way to putting my friendships in terminal status, but the long distance divide just put the nails in the coffin. I come home for a few weeks, we go out, we have dinner, we see a movie, we catch up, and I'm gone again. Something I've always prided myself on, was the kind of friend that I am. The kind that is available. The kind that will drop anything to be there for a friend in need. Hard to do when you are 1500 miles away. I can't even talk to my friends when they need me. All I have is email. Not too personal. Not the best way to be a friend.

What about new friends, in Mexico, you may ask? Well, the language barrier is a real problem, so is the fact that I work 80 hour weeks, literally. I am always teaching, planning or researching. I try to sleep sometimes too. It's very easy for me to stay in the house all week long, never leave, and never talk to anyone my own age, about anything but the school. Moxie really helps with that, because she needs to get out, and she needs someone to take her out. Moxie gets me out of the house. My thinking was that, another dog, might get me out of the house more, and help stave off the oppressive lonelyness. And it is lonely. Easy to get lost in your thoughts, your anxieties, your pressing questions and deadlines, with no one to help talk things through with. Human interaction is so important. Its something I never understood until I was deprived of it. Isolation is a dangerous and terrible thing.

My lifestyle itself is a sacrifice. I have no time to take care of me. I recently vowed to make time to excercise because both I and my dog really need it every day. Last semester, I would go all day without eating. I just didn't have time. When I would eat, it would be rice, or beans, or vegetables. I'm sure diet along with lack of sleep and being overworked, are what contribute to my constantly feeling tired. I have to force myself through everyday things. Getting up, taking a shower, getting dressed, teaching, reading, planning, working, walking. Every little thing is a huge chore. When I am home on break I will often stay in bed all day, partly because I'm so tired, and partly because often I can't think of any good reason to get up. Maybe I'm sick, and thats why I'm so tired. Maybe, but I would never know. I had to sacrifice health care for this work. I sacrificed insurance. I sacrificed the peace of mind that comes with a regular pay check, with knowing you can pay your bills, and afford your medicine.

Finally, I have sacrificed any hope of having a relationship with someone, of falling in love, getting married, having a family. I can't raise kids this way. I can't tend to the needs of a partner in a relationship with this schedule. I can't even adopt another dog.

But its all worth it, I believe. Everytime I get infront of those kids, and watch their eyes light up with wonder. Every day I get to see them one day closer to a future without poverty. I get to be a part of a community on the move, out of poverty, into a sustainable way of life. I get to make a difference in peoples lives. I get to make the world a better place. I get to really do something important with my life.

There can be no progress without sacrifice.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


I've been thinking alot lately about my last resolution; starting a family. I've come to some conclusions.
While I know that I want to have children, there is no rush to do it now. I have 10+ good child bearing years left, and many more years to adopt a child, which I am equally if not more inclined to do.
I don't know that I want to create life, in this world, under these conditions. I mean, do I really want to risk my child inheriting my mental illness? My life is great, for me, but is it ideal for a child? Probably not. I travel too much, I don't have enough free time, I don't make enough money, I don't have healthcare. While the child would no doubt have a loving and stimulating environment, I feel I need a little more to offer before I bring a child into my life. So starting a family this year, is unlikely. I need to relax and enjoy this time, while I continue to build my life into a place fit for children.

Right now, however, is an ideal time to add a dog to my life. :)

Meet Chai and Skip. I have an appointment to meet them tomorrow. Moxie is coming with me to see if she takes a liking to either one. Even this, this small thing, bringing home a dog, scares me. Its a big step, an added responsibility. But in comparison to what I would be facing were I pregnant right now, this is nothing.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Being resolute, means being reasonable

My first resolution for 2007, is to be reasonable with my resolutions. No lofty goals, no pipe dreams, just down to earth honest expectations of myself, that can result in real change for the better.

My first goal this year is to improve my overall health, physical and mental. As with all reasonable expectations, this one comes with a plan of action that I can actually follow.
1) To continue to improve my mental health, I will take my medication, see my doctor and counselor reguarly, and follow their orders. I will take stock of my emotions reguarly. I will be realistic about my strengths and limitations, and ask for help when I need it. I will not isolate myself from others. That last one will be the hardest.
2) To improve my physical health, I am going to put myself on a schedual, for eating, sleeping, working, excercising, and relaxing, and stick to it. I will understand that snacking is inevitable, because I use food to handle stress, BUT I will make an effort to provide myself to sensible snacking choices, such as fruit and raw veggies, rather then salty treats and sweets, and I will remember to stop and ask myself WHY I feel like eating. I will excercise by walking every single day. I understand that some days these walks will be shorter than on others, but I will not let a day go by where I don't take the time out to excercise. I'm not going to set a weight loss goal of any kind, because loosing weight will be secondary to my primary goal is being healthier, with better energy and stable moods. With Moxie as my walking partner I can't fail. :)

Then I have several more resolutions that are less concrete. Things like making the most of every moment, smiling more, laughing, enjoying myself, dancing, celebrating. I also resolve not to take anyone in my life for granted, to appreciate my loved ones, and make sure they know that I love them. I resolve to be a better friend, daughter and sister.

I have some professional goals. I resolve to be the best teacher I can be. I want to bring the most relevent, interesting material into the classroom. I want my students to LOVE learning. I want to promote the school, bring in more students, and have three full-time PAID staff on board by the end of the year. I also want to be more involved with in the community, take a more active role in Future Without Poverty projects and by God, LEARN SPANISH for once and for all.

Finally, I want to take this year to seriously examine the possibility of beginning a family. I want to ask myself all those deep searching questions, find out the answers, look at the mechanics of brining up a child, get my life into order, and my health into order, so that my child has the best possible start in life. I want to look into international adoptions, or the possible of having a child myself. By this time next year, I want to be ready to start my family. (P.S. having a man in my life is completely optional, I'm not going to spend my life waiting for a man.)

Well, I think that about covers it.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2007 brings new beginnings, and joyous occassions to you all.