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Know & Grow Monthly Magazine
“Animals are not brethren, they are not underlings;
They are other nations, caught with
ourselves in the net of life and time."

~ Henry Beston... Daily Inspirational Quotes

March 30, 2009


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THIS WEEK'S ISSUE


From the Inside Out...
Brave Dog Franklin


Fascinating Facts...
I'm @ This
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Words from the Wise...
The Riddle of Here


Yes You Can!...
Shift Your Focus
of Attention


Far Horizons...
Halong:
The Land of Mists


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For 16 years I was blessed with the companionship of "Ms. Mopsey of Mohave" ... a remarkable little wire-haired dachshund. Mopsey was a wise old "leprechaun" who could and would intuitively reach into the heart of anyone she met.

Chelle Thompson
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From the Inside OutFranklin Finds a Happy Home
BRAVE DOG FRANKLIN
FINDS HAPPINESS

Found lying on the side of the road in the snow, it was amazing that this little dog was alive. The car that hit him apparently did not care enough to stop and take care of him.

However, when a college student saw him, she picked him up and called Because You Care, Inc. (BYC), the local animal rescue organization that I volunteer for. When I received the call, the description I got of the Beagle's injuries convinced me that he needed to be euthanized.

Sadly, I agreed to authorize payment of the vet bill and sent the woman and the dog to a local veterinarian. Less than an hour later, I received a call from the vet telling me that both of the Beagle's back legs were broken, as well as his pelvis. What hope would there be for a dog with injuries like that?

But the vet surprised me by telling me that he would like to get X-rays to see if the breaks could be fixed. I agreed to the X-rays and got a call later telling me that the vet was certain he could fix this dog. The catch -- it would cost over $1000. How could our small nonprofit organization spare that much of our hard-earned donations on one animal?

I turned that question over to the other BYC members. The overwhelming response: How can you place a price on a life? Nearly everyone I spoke to agreed that as long as this dog could have a good quality of life after rehabilitation, his life should be spared.

The vet called me immediately after surgery to tell me how well the Beagle, now dubbed Franklin, had fared. The following day, Franklin was sitting up -- something he had not been able to do before surgery. He was ready to go to his foster home to begin recuperation. Judy, one of our volunteers, had agreed to foster him during this critical care stage since she has experience in this area.

We were optimistic that Franklin would be able to stand on his own one month after the surgery and that he would be walking and starting to run another month later. Now it was time to pay for the surgery. We decided to take it to the community. The story was aired on several local newscasts and articles were written in two local newspapers. Soon, nearly everybody knew the story of this remarkable little Beagle and his strong will to live.

Not knowing what kind of response we would get, we were amazed when the donations started rolling in. Our little nonprofit group created the Franklin Fund and the community was generous. We were soon able to pay the $1400 vet bill with money left over! (The fund will remain in place for future badly injured animals, and we now know that we won't have to face the difficult decision of euthanizing an animal because of lack of funds.)

Interestingly, some local middle school students heard about Franklin's story and decided to donate their lunch money for a day, saying, "We can live without lunch for one day but Franklin cannot live without surgery."

Assurances were given that the surgery would mend his legs and he could live to a ripe old age — that was all BYC needed to hear! Surgery was performed and he began what would be a long recovery in his new foster home. He was placed in his own cage with very soft padding. Even though he was on very strong pain medication, Franklin still had a good appetite. Finally, he had to give in to sleep and was covered up to keep warm where he could dream of the day when he would walk again like other dogs.

Franklin's first trip back to the vet went well. Dr. Randy Sliker said that his bones were mending nicely but that he must still be kept quiet with little movement. While Franklin still had a very long recuperation, he was making progress. He was notable to use his back legs for some time, but a special harness was created to help him walk.

Eventually Franklin had the external pin removed from his back leg. Once he came home from surgery, he was allowed to sleep a lot and was given pain medication, not to mention a lot of tender loving care and favorite snacks! At this point, Franklin's appetite is returned in full and he became acquainted with the other dogs in his foster home and with his new foster mom, Rebecca.

It just could be that Franklin was the most spoiled dog in Erie. Even though he was very slow getting around without the support of the outer pin, he found his favorite spot on the sofa, his place in the family bed and decided that he liked the kennel belonging to one of the other dogs better than his own and moved right in! Sometimes Franklin would get so happy that his wagging tail caused him to topple over.

Later Brave Franklin had a set-back. After having the final pin removed and starting to walk without support in that leg, the leg broke again. Rebecca heard him give a cry of pain, and upon taking him to the emergency clinic, the vet found that the bone had indeed broken again. He was sent home with a splint and more pain medication.

Rebecca was horrified that this should happen after he had been through so much! The bone had not quite healed and was not as strong as it was thought. So dear Franklin had to have a cast for six weeks. He quickly discovered how to maneuver with the cast so that he could lay down and have his belly rubbed and stretch his other three legs.

UPDATE: After his long recovery, Franklin was finally completely healed and ready for adoption. Two wonderful long-time friends of Because You Care welcomed Franklin into their home where he lives happily today. Franklin is doing just fine — in fact, he has a whole webpage with his pictures and story. These pages are dedicated to the progress of Franklin, and other severely injured pets like him, as a source describing the Franklin Fund. You can scroll through the names of a few of the many pets the Franklin Fund has helped save and learn about the bravery of these wonderful cats and dogs. Please check them out at: Because You Care: Franklin Fund

~By Kris Steiner, Because You Care, Inc.


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Words from the Wise
THE RIDDLE OF HERE...

'‘Extraordinary People through a Unique Lens’'
(Soul Biographies — From Filmmaker Nic Askew)
STARRING CHARANANAND: We’re looking. For something so simple. So simple, that we can’t hold it in our hands. Or in our heads. So we look to them. To there. We look to everywhere but here. To when. To then. But not to now...
Charananand

It’s hidden just beyond our cleverness. So we presume it’s out there. But perhaps it’s in here. With eyes closed, a baby that's only a few days old smiles a big smile — what made that child smile and feel so happy and good? How can we get in touch with that place?
I hope you catch what Charananand has. It is quietly infectious. ~Nic Askew

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Ye
s You Can!

SHIFT YOUR FOCUS OF ATTENTION

On December 26, 2004, a massive earthquake in the Indian Ocean near the island of Sumatra triggered one of the worst natural disasters in memory, known around the world as the Asian Tsunami. Walls of water smashed into the coasts of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and other neighboring countries, taking the lives of some 280,000 people with them. Many of those who were able to cling to life sustained massive bodily injuries and lost family members and their possessions in the swift-moving waves. The Province of Aceh, Indonesia, which was closest to the epicenter of the quake, was the area hit hardest by the monster waves.

By chance, the newly-published, hardcover edition of my book, Prisoners of Our Thoughts, found its way into the hands of a Jakarta-based professional services firm that was developing a "readiness" program to prepare volunteers to respond quickly and effectively to the vast devastation and suffering that they would encounter in Aceh. This program, I'm both humbled and proud to say, included my book as a training resource, and it enrolled a wide variety of aid organizations, including local government bodies and non-governmental organizations, such as UNESCO and UNICEF, involved in the relief effort.

The decision to use Prisoners of Our Thoughts was made because of the coping skills it teaches and its focus on the human search for meaning in all situations. The book was viewed as a primer for volunteers to learn how to confront the catastrophe while, at the same time, deal with their own psychological reactions to the trauma. The seven core principles described in the book were viewed as part of the "core competencies" (that is, the essential knowledge, skills, and attitudes) required by the volunteer aid workers participating in this capacity-building program effort. This practical application of the principles, in and of itself, made the book's publication worthwhile (and, yes, meaningful) to me in ways that I still am unable to describe adequately. This said, I know in my heart and soul that I learned a great deal and grew significantly from the experience, even though I pray that it never happens again and that the survivors, as well as the thousands of volunteer aid workers, continue to heal from the deep wounds that have undoubtedly scarred them, in one way or another, forever.

Of the seven meaning-centered principles that were used in the Province of Aceh after the tsunami, I would like to focus on one, in particular, for the remainder of this post. In my book, it is introduced as Principle 6, "Shift Your Focus of Attention". Put differently, this principle can be stated in the following way: Deflect your attention from the problem situation to something else and build your coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and change. As you can imagine, this principle was put to frequent use by the volunteer aid workers in Aceh, as it was, albeit unconsciously, by the survivors of the tsunami.

As a case in point, the photo below shows some children playing in what was left of downtown Banda Aceh, the capital city of Aceh Province, shortly after the tsunami. The boat, by the way, is not supposed to be in the street or in front of the hotel! These young boys, now known as members of the "Tsunami Generation" are playing in the street in spite of all of the devastation and anguish around them.

Children of tsunami in Indonesia

Unlike many adult survivors who suffered from a form of "survivor syndrome" (referred to today as "post-traumatic stress disorder") and felt guilty that they had survived the disaster whereas others — such as family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues — had not, these youth display a miraculous level of resiliency and a capacity to "move on" under what can only be described as a horrific, inescapable situation. Indeed, I learned that it was the Acehnese youth, because of their innate ability to find something positive in the face of immense suffering, who became the inspiration and role models for their adult peers!

Of course, you don't have to experience a tsunami or other kind of natural disaster (let's not forget Hurricane Katrina) to practice the meaning-centered principle, "Shift Your Focus of Attention." My mentor, Viktor Frankl, who frequently relied upon this logotherapeutic principle — labeled it dereflection — when he was imprisoned in the Nazi death camps, emphasized that it is also particularly useful when you are faced with a difficult situation or decision to make, be it in your personal life or your work life. The principle of dereflection, Dr. Frankl would say, helps us to ignore those aspects of our life and work that should be ignored. It also helps to turn us away from being self-absorbed with our problems and directs us toward the true meanings that beg to be discovered by us. In effect, dereflection encourages us to perceive something new in a situation so that we may let go of our old perceptions and ways of doing.

"Dereflection can only be attained to the degree to which...awareness is directed toward positive aspects."
Viktor Frankl, The Doctor and the Soul

The current economic crisis, to be sure, is taking its toll on people, not only in the USA but around the world. It is also testing, in no uncertain terms, our resiliency as individuals and as a "people." Although it may at first seem difficult to imagine, the same competencies that helped the volunteer aid workers and survivors in Indonesia after the tsunami can help us on the job and in our personal lives to deal with difficult people, situations, or decisions.

We all know complainers. At one time or another, we've all been one. When we get locked into our own complaining shadow (i.e., become "prisoners of our thoughts") and focus on all the bad stuff, we immediately lose sight of the good stuff. When we can learn to "dereflect" — that is, shift our focus of attention — from what is bothering us to a more positive target, we get a different insight into solving the problem or challenge before us. So, how about you? How resilient are you? Think of a time when you've been able to "dereflect" the reality in your life and see a more positive side to it all. Recall a situation in your work or personal life from which you felt the need to shift your attention in order to deal with it effectively. Consider situations like: you were faced with a critical business or family decision; you were thrust into an emergency situation requiring swift action; you found yourself in the middle of a personal crisis. Now ponder the following questions:

• How did you shift your focus of attention from the situation to something else?
• What, if anything, did you do as a result of your shift of focus?
• What did you imagine or fantasize?
• What did you learn about your capacity for shifting the focus of your attention?
• Looking back, what did you learn, and how did you grow, from the process?

Prisoner of Our Thoughts — Seven Core Principles

1. Exercise the freedom to choose your attitude—in all situations, no matter how desperate they may appear or actually be, you always have the ultimate freedom to choose your attitude.
2. Realize your will to meaning—commit authentically to meaningful values and goals that only you can actualize and fulfill.
3. Detect the meaning of life's moments—only you can answer for your own life by detecting the meaning at any given moment and assuming responsibility for weaving your unique tapestry of existence.
4. Don't work against yourself—avoid becoming so obsessed with or fixated on an intent or outcome that you actually work against the desired result.
5. Look at yourself from a distance—only human beings possess the capacity to look at themselves out of some perspective or distance, including the uniquely human trait known as your "sense of humor".
6. Shift your focus of attention—deflect your attention from the problem situation to something else and build your coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and change.
7. Extend beyond yourself—manifest the human spirit at work by relating and being directed to something more than yourself.

To read all seven principles beginning with Exercise the Freedom to Choose Your Attitude, visit Inspiration Line's Blogboard HERE.

~Alex Pattakos, Ph.D., affectionately nicknamed "Dr. Meaning," is the founder of the Center for Meaning, based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and author of the international best-selling book, Prisoners of Our Thoughts (below). The "Dr. Meaning" Channel on YouTube: www.youtube.com/DrMeaning is dedicated to the search for meaning in everyday life and work. For more information, please visit: www.PrisonersOfOurThoughts.com.

PRISONERS OF OUR THOUGHTS:
Viktor Frankl's Principles for Discovering Meaning in Life and Work [Illustrated]

The late Viktor Frankl's hopeful Man's Search for Meaning emerged from his experience in a Nazi concentration camp. Logotherapy, Frankl's therapeutic approach, says we are free to respond to all aspects of our destiny; Pattakos argues that if we all have a will to meaning, then even if we work for unenlightened companies, we can still "connect meaningfully with others" within the workplace. Finding your sense of humor, giving to others and forgiving, and "de-reflecting" or shifting your focus of attention are all strategies for connection; one should consider "ten positive things" when losing a job or taking a pay cut. Pattakos's book is a humane approach that allows for purpose in even the most purposeless-seeming environments, which is surely soothing balm—if not a cure—for work ruts.

By Dr. Alex Pattakos

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Far Horizons

HALONG: THE LAND OF MISTS



MAGICAL ART IN NATURE: VIETNAM'S HALONG BAY

Vietnam is a fascinating country of traditional charm and stunning beauty, with a highly cultured and friendly people. From the glistening iridescent green rice paddies that stretch from north to south, to the jutting rock formations of Halong Bay in the east, from the waterways of the Mekong Delta to the peak of the "Mountain Citadel" on the northern border, Vietnam offers more than most people can hope to see in one vacation. There are some divine beaches along the coast, while inland there are soaring mountains, some of which are cloaked by dense, misty forests.

Situated in the northeast region of Vietnam, Halong Bay is a bay in the Gulf of Tonkin comprised of 1,969 islands of various sizes, 989 of which have been given names. Viewed from above, Halong Bay resembles a geographic work of art. It looks like a giant triangle with Dau Go Island (in the west), Ba Ham Lake (in the south) and Cong Tay Island (in the east) as its three angle points. The nearby area is the buffer area and areas classified as national beauty spots in 1962 by the Ministry of Culture and Information. This densely concentrated zone of stone islands, world famous for its spectacular scenery of grottoes and caves, forms the central zone of Halong Bay, which has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site of worldwide importance. Included in this region, on the southeast side of Halong Bay, lies Cong Do Island which features many lagoons with numerous species of sea-life, such as shrimp, crab, fish, squid and aquatic plants. On the southwest side of the island, there is a wide coral reef displaying a myriad of colors.

Halong Bay has many links to the history of Vietnam. For example, there are such famous geographical sites as Van Don (site of an ancient commercial port), Bai Tho / Poem Mountain (with engravings of many poems about emperors and other famous historical figures), and Bach Dang River (the location of two fierce naval battles fought against foreign aggressors). It has been proven by scientists that Halong was one of the first cradles of human existence in the area at such archeological sites as Dong Mang, Xich Tho, Soi Nhu, and Thoi Gieng. It is also a region of highly-concentrated biological diversity with many ecosystems of salt water-flooded forests, coral reefs, and tropical forests featuring thousands of species of animal and plant life.

According to legend, Halong Bay was formed when a dragon descended into the sea. What better way to explore this magical landscape than aboard a romantic junk? Many tourists take boat tours around these islands, sleep on the boat and watch the stars at night. The Bay is rich with many kinds of fish, coral and anemones, some which glow in the night waters. When you are sleeping on a boat it is so peaceful and you feel you are in a very special place. Huong Hai Junk Company operates wooden junks (photo below) in Chinese emperors' style, made by the best shipwrights in Asia. They use the finest materials and traditional secrets, which comply with the stringent standards of government approval on each vessel. Huong Hai has pride in their ability to keep price levels down way below the other competitors in Asia, while having the highest workmanship.


WOODEN JUNK OVERNIGHT CRUISE UNDER THE STARS

While exploring the bay, you feel lost in a legendary world of caves, grottoes and stone islands. The Tam Cung Grotto or Three-palace Grotto is situated in the center of Halong Bay in May Den, a luxuriant island nearly isolated from other islands. May Den’s cliffs are extremely vertical, while its forest is flourishing. Sung Sot Grotto or Surprise Grotto is on Bo Hon Island, and is one of the finest and widest grottoes of Halong Bay. Ascending to the grotto, the way is covered by trees and foliage, and consists of great paved stone blocks.

Some 2-3 km southeast of Trong Mai Islet lies Bo Nau Cave or Pelican Cave (see photo below and HERE which has lots more of Halong). This vaulted grotto covers 200 m2. The floor of the grotto is wide and flat, but not deep, and its wall features lots of stalactites and stalagmites. At the entrance are three stones, looking like three fairies with their heads close to one another. Two men appear to be playing chess, with the third serving as a referee. The name Bo Nau or Bo Nong is associated with the fact that pelicans often take shelter here. Stalactites fall down from the roof of the grotto in clusters. Meanwhile stalagmites grow up in different shapes and layers. Is this that the life out there is so noisy that the three fairies have to choose this tranquil place to play chess? Turning southward, Bo Nau Cave enjoys cool wind. Standing there, one can hear the murmur of the sea all year round.


BO NAU CAVE LOOKING OUT ON HALONG BAY

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