Saturday, March 16, 2013



~ By Russell Bishop ~

Anger Is Not a Primary Response
Have you ever been upset with someone and told them off - in your mind? You know the drill - you imagine talking to the person, perhaps rehearsing what you might say were you to actually talk to them, and you wind up filling in the blanks for what they might say as well. That, in turn, leads to how you would respond to what you just made up for them to say. And on it goes.
How often do we start with something that has some basis in fact, and then add elements to the story that we just make up? If you rehearse the scene enough, it will begin to take on its own element of truth. If you tell the story with enough conviction, you can wind up with very real feelings, both emotionally based and even physically based. You can scare yourself by what you tell yourself, and you can become angry by what you tell yourself.
What makes this practice so difficult is that by the time you have added emotional and physical feelings to the story, they actually begin to take on an element of reality - after all, you are feeling these feelings, aren't you. For some, the presence of the feelings suffices for proof that the situation and their response is, in fact real. The Truth, as it were.
When we started a series on the differences between positive thinking, positive focus, and positive action, we suggested that a positive focus (not wishful thinking, but focus on a realistic, positive outcome) can help you discover choices you can make that can help lead you forward. That's a form of telling yourself a story, albeit a story that might prove useful in terms of encouraging you to move forward.
Many of us know the opposite version of this kind of storytelling. Have you ever imagined yourself about to embark on a new experience and started to tell yourself all the things that might go wrong? That could be anywhere from the time you were on a high diving platform and scared yourself thinking about all the things that could go wrong, over to imagining a conversation with your boss and imagining how badly that might go. Instead of a raise, they might fire you.
If you're like most people, you have engaged in this kind of negative storytelling, either about someone else, or about your own self. The latter is the most interesting. As my mentor used to say to me when I would give voice to my negative thinking: "Russell, if you're going to indulge in a fantasy, why would you choose to lose in it? After all, it's your fantasy!" The great thing is that everyone's right! If you find this approach to self-awareness useful, then it's useful! If you don't, then it's not.
One reader shared an interesting
awareness about anger:
"Russell, Looking at the comments, your article got some people thinking. The part on fantasy conversations reminded me a recent occurrence. Perhaps you'll find this interesting. I'm not at all good at putting things behind me. Often I'll engage in fantasy conversations, reliving and revising events from the past, or inserting events into the past. Usually they're negative, instances where I felt mistreated or dismissed. And emotions get stirred up, often anger.
"The other day I was having such an adventure, and feeling angry, and I thought "as if being angry will change anything." Then there was a brief glimpse, with the sense that this was a glimpse into something that was really there, that at some lower level I really think this way - that being angry will change it. Or that the fantasy conversations will change what has occurred. An insight, and like I said, I trust that I was seeing something that's really there.
"It makes me wonder how much we operate on the basis of something irrational, that we know is irrational. This one - that I can change the past by replaying it or emoting on it - doesn't come from upbringing or past experience; it's something I conjured up myself. Creating my own little world which is preferable to the real one, and refusing to accept, on some lower level, that the real world isn't going to be changed. I'm pretty sure this is far from unique to me; I'd guess we all do something like this. But it's very difficult to notice. Those little glimpses don't happen very often." --Chip
Nice awareness, to be sure. I know I have found myself trying to change the world, the situation or someone else by being angry. I have tried expressing the anger to get someone or something else to change, I have tried keeping it bottled up, I have tried seething inside, telling myself stories about how unfair life is, or how the other person should be different. I've tried all kinds of approaches with anger. Not terribly effective in my experience.

Have you ever been angry about
something you don't care about?
Careful, now - this could be a trick question. I have posed this question to thousands of people. Most, after considering the question for a few moments, realize that indeed, the only things they get angry about are things they care about. After all, if you don't care, you simply do not care. As in, no caring. Doesn't matter. Zip.
I have learned that the often unspoken message in the anger has to do with how much something matters. For many, the underlying message in the anger goes something like this: if you cared about (me, others, the situation), you would be different (do it my way, not do it your way, etc). It's as though the anger is supposed to make the situation change, or the other person behave differently. Sometimes it appears to work, at least in terms of intimidating someone else. Then there are all the other times.
While far from easy, I do my best these days to look past the anger and inquire into the caring. I try to approach the situation with this internal thought process: Clearly, this is upsetting to you and it matters deeply. What is it that is important to you here? Is there something that I'm doing that goes against what you care about?
Obviously, these pretend words are a bit clinical, but perhaps you get the idea. I'm trying to understand what's behind the anger. It's pretty difficult to deal with the emotion of anger in any meaningful way, yet if I can understand the underlying message of caring, there just may be something that I can address.
Have you ever been upset with your husband/wife/lover or other stranger, and then gone about your day "showing them" just how upset you are by remaining angry? Even when they're no longer present? That's just great isn't it? They're supposed to be different because you're angry? Or at least they should feel punished by us staying angry? We've all heard the old saying about "stewing in your own juices." This is one version of stewing.

 One of my favorite quotes, attributed to many,
ranging from St. Augustine to Nelson
Mandela, goes something like this:
"Resentment is like drinking poison
and hoping the other person dies."
I've previously shared a turning point in my life, on a strike line at UC Berkeley many years ago. I was hit by a tear gas canister, picked it up to throw it back (no one told me how hot a canister can be), and had a brief moment seemingly outside my body where I could see and hear myself. I was clearly very angry, and I heard myself screaming, "why don't you a**holes love us?" Then, boom, right back in the old body. This time, with wave after wave of awareness washing over me: my message was one of peace, love and caring while my strategy was to yell, scream and throw things.

Are you trying to create a better life, experience or world through your anger? If so, what is it you care about so deeply that you would take that poison into yourself? What would you like to have change or be different? How could you work more directly or effectively to produce that kind of change? Some good advice might be found from Alexander Solschenizyn who said something to the effect of: if you would put the world to rights, with whom would you begin? Yourself or others?
A great question, to be sure. Of course, you could always come to the realization that the other person or situation will not change. Then you get a choice: accept what's present, change your reaction, or perhaps just leave. Winston Churchill had an interesting thought on the subject. I'm pretty sure this will not pass the muster of historical context, but it's revelatory in some ways, with a twisted sense of humor:
Lady Nancy Astor to Churchill:
"Winston, if you were my husband,
I'd poison your tea."

Churchill's reply:
"Nancy, if I were your husband, I'd drink it."
Russell Bishop is an Educational Psychologist,
professional life coach and management consultant,
based in Santa Barbara California. You can find out
more about Russell at

Reprinted from

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Let Your Heart
Talk to Your Brain

~ By Sara Childre ~

Did you know that the heart contains a brain in its own right? What do researchers mean when they talk about heart-brain interactions? Why is it important to you? Researchers at the Institute of HeartMath and other organizations have shown that the human heart, in addition to its other functions, actually possesses the equivalent of its own brain, called the 'heart brain,' which interacts and communicates with the 'head brain.'
When I first heard about this, it intuitively made sense. Then as I delved into the research, it really confirmed what I have felt for a long time: that the heart has its own way of KNOWING. Until recently, scientists assumed and most of us were taught that it was only the brain that sent information and issued commands to the heart, but now we know that it works both ways. The heart and head communicate via a number of pathways. Between them they continually exchange critical information that influences how the body functions.
Dr. J. Andrew Armour first introduced the term 'heart brain' in 1991. Armour showed that the heart's complex intrinsic nervous system qualified as a "little brain." This heart brain, explains Science of the Heart, published by Institute of HeartMath, "is an intricate network of several types of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells, like those found in the brain proper.
Research has shown that the heart communicates to the brain in four major ways: neurologically (through the transmission of nerve impulses), biochemically (via hormones and neurotransmitters), biophysically (through pressure waves) and energetically (through electromagnetic field interactions)." Its elaborate circuitry enables it to act independently of the cranial brain — to learn, remember, and even feel and sense.
Heart-Brain Communication Pathways Diagram

The diagram above shows the neural communication pathways between the heart and the brain. The heart's intrinsic nervous system consists of ganglia, which contain local circuit neurons of several types, and sensory neurites, which are distributed throughout the heart.
The intrinsic ganglia process and integrate inflowing information from the extrinsic nervous system and from the sensory neurites within the heart. The extrinsic cardiac ganglia, located in the thoracic cavity, have direct connections to organs such as the lungs and esophagus and are also indirectly connected via the spinal cord to many other organs, including the skin and arteries.
The "afferent" (flowing to the brain) parasympathetic information travels from the heart to the brain through the vagus nerve to the medulla, after passing through the nodose ganglion. The sympathetic afferent nerves first connect to the extrinsic cardiac ganglia (also a processing center), then to the dorsal root ganglion and the spinal cord. Once afferent signals reach the medulla, they travel to the subcortical areas (thalamus, amygdala, etc.) and then to the cortical areas.
"Communication along all these conduits significantly affects the brain's activity," Science of the Heart says. "Moreover, research shows that messages the heart sends the brain can also affect performance."

One important way the heart can speak to and influence the brain is when the heart is coherent - generating a stable, sine-wavelike pattern in its rhythms. When the heart is coherent, the body, including the brain, begins to experience all sorts of benefits, among them greater mental clarity and intuitive ability, including better decision-making.
Although the heart and brain are in constant communication, each of us also has the capacity to consciously and intentionally direct our heart to communicate to the brain and body in beneficial ways.
When we intentionally experience sincere positive emotions, such as caring, compassion or appreciation for someone or something, the heart processes these emotions and the heart's rhythm becomes more coherent and harmonious. The heart then sends this harmonious information throughout the entire body via the processes mentioned above — neurologically, biochemically, biophysically and energetically.
We've all had the experience of feeling the uplifting and harmonizing effects of sincere positive emotions. Now that we understand why, we can create those experiences more of the time. I often use one simple tool, called the Quick Coherence® technique, to shift into a positive feeling and coherent heart rhythm in less than a minute. It can take a little practice, but it gets easier and quicker the more you do it.


Heart Focus: Shift your attention to the area of the heart and breathe slowly and deeply.

Heart Breathing: Keep your focus in the heart by gently breathing — five seconds in and five seconds out — through your heart. Do this two or three times.

Heart Feeling: Activate and sustain a genuine feeling of appreciation or care for someone or something in your life. Focus on the good heart feeling as you continue to breathe through the area of your heart.
By Sara Childre, President and CEO of the non-profit Institute of HeartMath. Since 1991, Sara has helped oversee and develop HeartMath trainings, educational products and scientific programs. She was appointed vice president and CFO of the
institute in 1992, then president and CEO in 1998.
Reprinted from


Sunday, January 20, 2013


... By  Debbie Gisonni ...

The beautiful photos on this page were taken by my friend
 Laurie Sutherland  (
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"Each of the transformational steps below miraculously 
'appeared' in the early stages of my own spiritual path. Starting in 1986, I suddenly learned to laugh at my mother's cruel words — because it dawned on me that her caustic comments were ridiculous enough to make them more hilarious than hurtful.  Later, I was drawn to Develop My Intuition, Slow Down, Surrender to Life, and to discover the other tips shown here, long before this article was written. The process completely changed who I thought I was, and led me to take a huge Leap of Faith into a new and infinitely more rewarding life." ~Chelle Thompson  

If I asked you what you wanted most out of life, either for yourself or your family, you'd probably say "happiness." You might say "money," but only because you think money will make you happy, which we all know doesn't. In the 24/7 technology-centric environment in which we live and work, true happiness seems to be less attainable than ever before, yet it's the one thing everyone seeks. Here are 10 ways that can help you bring more happiness into your life:
1. FIND THE HUMOR:  Don't you love being around someone who makes you laugh? There is humor to be found in just about anything that happens, even if it's just isolated moments within a grim situation. Put your comedian hat on and allow yourself to laugh. Laughter helps lighten the darkest of days, and as an added bonus, studies show that it helps boost the immune system. If you're healthier, you'll naturally be happier.
2. ACCEPT YOURSELF AND YOUR LIFE: Accept yourself, with all your imperfections, and accept your life with all its ups and downs. Imperfections are what make you interesting. Life's ups and downs are what make it exciting. Wouldn't it be boring if we were all the same and nothing ever changed? Next time you're down, find something positive for which to be grateful and focus on that.

3. PRACTICE NEUTRALITY:  Neutrality keeps stress to a minimum and happiness to a maximum. It enables you to allow others to have completely different beliefs and opinions than yours without your judgment. You never have to be right, correct a wrong, control another person or prove a point. What others do and think or how they live their lives is really no business of yours, so just let it be.
4. TAKE TIME TO PLAY: There are 24 hours in a day. If you spend 18 of them working and the remaining six sleeping, like many people do, you can't possibly be happy. Be sure to schedule some play time every day. That could be spending quality time with your family, a spa treatment, a hobby, a vacation, a sport or even sex! Play gives you a much-needed break so that when you do return to work, you're more refreshed and productive.
5. DEVELOP YOUR INTUITION:  Believe it or not, tapping into your natural insight and intuition will make life much easier and happier. It can save you lots of time agonizing over decisions, and in some cases, it can even save your life. The best way to develop your intuition is through some kind of meditative practice. That could be as simple as taking a mindful walk, a yoga class, or practicing a few deep breaths every day. It's anything that helps clear your mind so you can connect within for a few moments.

6. NURTURE YOURSELF: You must remember to nurture all of you — the physical, emotional and spiritual you. On the spiritual side, this means giving yourself time to connect with your higher self to create inner peace and awareness. On the emotional side, it means doing things that make you feel good as long as you're not harming another person — quality time with loved ones, eating chocolate, gardening. The physical side is about honoring your body with nutritious food and exercise.
7. SLOW DOWN:  Let's face it. We're all in a big fat rush all the time. When you move quickly, you push aside all the things that give your life meaning, like being generous, thankful or kind to people. At the end of your life, it doesn't matter how much you got done in record time. What matters most is how many people you impacted positively and how much of your time was spent lovingly.
8. LIVE IN THE PRESENT: In order to enjoy life, you must live in the present. We spend a lot of time in regret about what has already happened or in fear about what might happen, rather than enjoying what's happening right now. The past is done and therefore cannot be changed. The future is unknown, so why worry about it? The present is now and the only time in which you can truly participate.

9. SURRENDER TO LIFE:  We are so hard-wired to control — to make things happen with our will. Surrendering doesn't mean giving up your power, but rather empowering the spirit within you to take over the controls once in a while. It means going with the flow, even though you don't know the outcome. It means taking a different turn even though it wasn't part of your plan. It means accepting that sometimes you don't have all the answers.
10. MAKE SOMEONE ELSE HAPPY: Think about how many ways you can make someone happy. It could be a pleasant smile, a compliment, a gift, a favor or anything else that brings joy to another. When you live your life with compassion and kindness for others, it gives you a natural "high" on happiness. Try it today. I guarantee you'll like it.

By Debbie Gisonni, author, speaker and business leader. After a series of family tragedies that occurred while she was an executive in the high tech industry, Debbie embarked on a mission to help others navigate the ups and downs of life through her books, articles and talks. Debbie is the  President and CEO of Stillheart Institute, an educational retreat center and sanctuary in Woodside, CA, where organizations conduct programs for personal, professional or spiritual growth and development.  Her clients range from spiritual gurus to corporate leaders. Reprinted from

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Inspiration Line - Holiday BluesHoliday Blues - Inspiration Line Online Magazine
A case of the holiday blues probably has as many causes as there are sufferers. Your personal experience dictates what you find stressful, as well as how you handle anxiety.
Understanding the basic reasons people can feel sad during this "happy time" will help you see that you're not alone!
If you are suffering from a bah-humbug attitude, try to incorporate these spirit-generating ideas into your season:
1. Banish resentment. If it is an obligation, reconsider your need to do it.
Will Aunt Sue really perish without your chocolate meringues?
2. Avoid common stressors.
Do parties make you panic? Skip them altogether or be selective about where you go to deck the halls.
3. No competition.
Why does this year need to be better than that great Celebration of '87? Try not to get into the pattern of outdoing yourself every year.
4. Shop online.
There are no long lines to contend with in the virtual malls of the world, and fewer sights, smells, and sounds to overwhelm the senses!
5. Shop ahead of time.
For those overwhelmed by tasks, shopping all year round can help alleviate last minute stress. Of course, it may be too late for this year, but take this tip with you into the new year.
6. Lasso the credit cards.
What is a reasonable amount to spend on the holidays this year? Now divide by the number of gifts you must buy. That's your dollar limit: Stick to it. Unfortunately, spend-aholics are likely to use the holidays as an excuse to buy. Remember: Credit card bills can lead to post-holiday blues.
7. Rejuvenate your spirit.
Reacquaint yourself with the church or synagogue; or shine up your spirituality with a class on visualization or meditation. Get out of your own 'little world' and contribute your time or money to those in need. Make a donation in someone's name to an organization you know he or she would like to support.
8. Avoid commercialism.
Take the kids to a free Hanukkah menorah lighting or Christmas caroling in the park. Or meet new friends by joining up with the neighborhood carolers.
9. Make 'yourself' the gift.
Have the children gather unused toys for donation. Or do something with those years of piano practice by organizing a holiday concert at a nursing home.
10. Ban martyrdom.
Why not take others up on their offer to help? You are not a bad hostess if you let Aunt Mary bring the dessert, have your brother-in-law scrub the casserole dish, or put the teenagers in charge of wrapping presents.
11. Find time for you.
Pamper yourself with a half-hour pedicure or get a massage. Does painting give you pleasure? Then make the time to do it!
12. Declare victory over vices.
There is no harm in a little fudge or an occasional glass of champagne, but think moderation. Too much alcohol or sugar can alter moods and disrupt sleep patterns.
13. Avoid weighty issues.
Guilt is a likely byproduct of overindulgence. Give away extra treats that arrive as gifts and don't make three batches of peanut brittle. Holiday salads anyone? Three well-balanced meals will help keep your moods at an even keel. If you have a momentary lapse of judgment, don't sweat it. That's what those nasty New Year resolutions are for.
14. Keep it moving.
It's easy to shelve plans to work out during the hectic season. But resigning yourself to the couch will only make you feel worse. Twenty minutes, three times per week, should continue to be your goal. Get out and do! Activity, either social or physical, will do more for the spirit than watching the Brady Family Special.
15. Surround yourself with love.
Avoid inviting people to your home out of obligation. It may be difficult to turn away a relative, but it is worth your sanity. Make the holidays special for the kids. By reinventing the season, you escape your own childhood issues and you won't transfer the blues to your children.
16. Expand your support system.
Friends may be busy with their own families, but that doesn't prevent you from making new friends. Take a class or join an online chat group. Post on message boards when it's convenient for you to talk!
17. Laugh often!
Rent funny movies or surround yourself with those who make you laugh. It's not easy to laugh and be depressed at the same time.
~By Lisa Allan,

Saturday, November 17, 2012

ANSWERS & ENCOURAGEMENT: Appreciation Season

The Science of
Thanksgiving Gratitude:

Thanksgiving Day in the United States and — did you know? — in Brazil is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November as a day of gratitude for the nations’ harvests. The holiday dates back nearly four centuries to the pilgrims in America, and just four decades in Brazil, where in 1949 the Brazilian ambassador in Washington D.C., so liked the holiday that he took the idea home, where it was promptly adopted.

Thanksgiving was celebrated in Canada on the second Monday of October this year, as it has been since 1957, to offer thanks at the end of the harvest season. Chung Ch’ui in China and Chuseok in Korea are major three-day national thanksgiving harvest festivals whose date of celebration varies slightly each year during the nations’ harvest seasons. Among other countries that celebrate a national day of thanks are Australia, part of India, Japan, Liberia and Malaysia. Many other nations hold a variety of events to express gratitude for their nations’ harvests.

Measuring someone’s gratitude is quite literally possible with today’s cutting-edge science and technology. So how exactly do you measure gratitude — scientifically?


Offering some food for thought this Thanksgiving, the Institute of HeartMath® (IHM), a recognized leader in researching the physiology of emotions, is serving up a belt-buster when it comes to the latest understanding of gratitude. The institute has been studying human emotions for nearly 20 years — among them gratitude and appreciation — emotions that are at the heart of an American holiday whose roots date back to 1621.

According to research at IHM, true feelings of gratitude, appreciation and other positive emotions can synchronize brain and heart rhythms, creating a bodywide shift to a scientifically measurable state called coherence. In this optimal state, the body’s systems function more efficiently, generating a greater balance of emotions and increased mental clarity and brain function.

The level of coherence you experience during feelings of appreciation can be measured by sensitive instruments. Coherence also can be measured using heart-rate variability (HRV) “the naturally occurring beat-to-beat changes in heart rate, which can be see in an electrocardiogram (ECG).

 This method of measuring appreciation is much more precise than attempting to guess by observing how much someone is smiling. Measuring coherence can accurately show heart, brain and nervous-system interactions that are sensitive to changes in emotions.

While an individual — smiling or not — is experiencing coherence, the heart rhythm appears as a smooth wavelike pattern on an HRV graph. Contrast coherence with incoherence, created by negative emotions such as frustration and anger, which can often disrupt the synchronization of the body’s systems and create jagged or chaotic patterns on a graph.


Advanced research at the Institute of HeartMath and elsewhere has provided evidence that gratitude is not simply a nice sentiment or feeling. Sustained feelings of gratitude have real benefits, including the following 4 benefits:

• Biochemical changes - Favorable changes in the body’s biochemistry include improved hormonal balance and an increase in production of DHEA, the “anti-aging hormone.”

• Increased positivity Daily gratitude exercises can bring about a greater level of positive feelings, according to researchers from the University of Miami and the University of California, Davis who studied this process in 157 individuals over 13 days.

• Boost to the immune system The IgA antibody, which serves as the first line of defense against pathogens, increases in the body.

• Emotional “compound interest”The accumulated effect of sustained appreciation and gratitude is that these feelings, and coherence, are easier to recreate with continued practice. This is because experiencing an emotion reinforces the neural pathways of that particular emotion as it excites the brain, heart and nervous system. The downside is that you also can reinforce negative emotions.

This figure shows the significant reduction in the stress hormone cortisol and significantly increased levels of DHEA after practicing the HeartMath techniques for 30 days.

Thankfully, gratitude and appreciation can create their own positive psycho-physiological holiday in your body — without the necessity of a feast.

For some on this holiday, the appreciation equation might be something like gobble + gobble = thank you and naptime. Sincere self-evoked feelings of gratitude and appreciation, however, are the only ingredients needed, as explained by IHM founder Doc Childre and Director of Research Dr. Rollin McCraty in their e-book, The Appreciative Heart: the Psychophysiology of Positive Emotions and Optimal Functioning.


The Institute of HeartMath is helping more people experience the benefits of the sincere feelings that Thanksgiving celebrates by providing the following helpful Appreciation Exercise:

• Instructions: Take a few short appreciation breaks during the day. During each break take one or two minutes to breathe deeply through the area of the heart. While doing so, try to hold a sincere feeling of appreciation in your heart area. This can be appreciation for a family member, friend who helped you with something or even a wonderful vacation, etc.

• Why it works: The exercise of activating a positive feeling like appreciation literally shifts our physiology, helping to balance our heart rhythms and nervous system, and creates more coherence between the heart, brain and rest of the body.

Gratitude is a simple and effective practice and the benefits are real and attainable. Many of us know this in our hearts, but now it's proven by modern science. Gratitude creates a healthier, happier and more fulfilling state of being for anyone who takes a few moments to feel and reflect on it.

Here in America, where the nation prepares to celebrate its 124th “official” Thanksgiving Day, co-writer of the Nourishing the Heart, Deborah Rozman, and I would like to wish you and your families a happy Thanksgiving — wherever, whenever and however you celebrate your bounty.

"The Appreciative Heart," which can be downloaded by clicking this special link and liking IHM's Facebook fan page, explains how emotions are reflected in heart rhythms, and how creating a change in those rhythms can result in quick and substantial changes in whatever emotional state you may be experiencing. If you are not on Facebook, simply e-mail us at: and say “Send me a free copy of The Appreciative Heart.”

By Sara Childre, President and CEO of the non-profit Institute of HeartMath. Since 1991, Sara has helped oversee and develop HeartMath trainings, educational products and scientific programs. She was appointed vice president and CFO of the institute in 1992, then president and CEO in 1998.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: "His Tail's Wagging Again!"

Ailing Dog's Life Saved By
Donations After Viral Photo
of John Unger & Schoep
Touches Millions

Last month, the above photo of John Unger cradling his loyal dog, Schoep, in Michigan's Lake Superior melted hearts across the world. Unger had take Schoep into the lake so that the water could soothe the arthritic 19-year-old dog to sleep.   Empathetic readers felt compelled to send cards, dog treats, messages of support, and money to Unger and his ailing pet, resulting in over $25,000 in donations.  

Only two months ago, Schoep was facing euthanasia because Unger could not afford his medical bills; the worldwide reaction to their relationship, however, has given him a second chance at life.  Schoep is now receiving weekly laser therapy, pain medication and glucosamine — all with encouraging results.


That stunning photograph of John lulling his arthritic dog to sleep in Lake Superior has touched so many people that John Unger, 49, and his dog Schoep,  have started a foundation to help other dogs in need. The Schoep Legacy Foundation has raised more than $25,000 to help low-income families care for their aging dogs thanks to donations from people as far away as Saudi Arabia and Japan, all inspired by that gorgeous image.

Unger's good friend Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, who is a professional photographer, captured the heartbreaking moment between the man and his aging rescue dog in Wisconsin when Unger thought his best friend was at the end of his life.

Thanks to the generosity of strangers, Schoep has been receiving top-notch care and is wagging his tail more than ever before, allowing Unger and his dog more time together. 'Schoep is doing incredible right now,' Unger said to MailOnline. 'The therapies that the people have donated — it's like turning back the clock a year and a half.'

Dr. Erik Haukass, Schoep's veterinarian, said that the 19-year-old dog is doing very well and that they are optimistic the treatments will allow Unger and Schoep many more months. 'Without treatment, John and I were talking about euthanasia at the end of July,' Dr. Haukass said.

Dr. Haukass was on the front line when the donations to Schoep's care came in, shocked by their magnitude. 'I've never seen anything like this before,' he said. 'We realized we had received more money than we would reasonably spend on Schoep's care.' Together with Unger and Mrs. Hudson, the three formed Schoep's Legacy Foundation.

'The idea is to pay it forward; give it to other organizations, to help out other animals in the area and use the money in the spirit it was given,' Dr. Haukass said. The $25,000 will be used in a variety of ways to help low-income families care for their animals, both in the care of older pets and the spaying and neutering of new pets. 'It could help another 30 or 40 Schoeps,' Dr. Haukass said. 'It's incredible to be in a position to help others,' Unger said.

But beyond helping other animals, Unger said that he's found himself counseling people who have had to deal with a devastating loss in their lives. Along with donations, people have been sending Unger their personal stories of woe. 'They're going through some depression of their own. They're very deep and emotional letters. Those are the ones that hit home a lot,' Unger said. 'But they look at the picture that Hannah took and it helps them have a better time with it. That's pretty extraordinary.'

Unger knows firsthand about love and loss. He and his ex-fiancée adopted Schoep 19 years ago, but when the relationship ended, Unger was on the brink of suicide. 'To be honest with you, I don’t think I’d be here if I didn’t have Schoep with me (that night). He just snapped me out of it. I don’t know how to explain it. He just snapped me out of it. … I just want to do whatever I can for this dog because he basically saved my ass,' he said.


John Unger, 49, adopted Schoep, who is named after a famous brand of Wisconsin ice cream, when he was just a puppy and it was love at first sight. He and his ex-fiancée had been searching for a rescue dog for a year, going to dozens of humane societies. 'We wanted every single dog,' Unger said to the MailOnline. 'We just hadn't found the right one.'

His then-fiancée spotted the pup at the Ozaukee Animal Shelter 19 years ago. 'We fell in love with him immediately.' Schoep was in a cage with another dog, possibly his mother, crouched in the back quietly staring at the corner with his back to Unger. 'I knew — that's him,' Unger said.

At the time Schoep was named Tramp by the shelter staff and showed signs of abuse. 'He didn't even know what toys were,' Unger said. 'I really wanted this dog because I wanted him to enjoy life.'  The couple worked hard to establish the trust of the dog and eventually brought out its 'full potential'.

Now, 19 years later when Schoep was in so much pain, it was Unger's time to return the favor. Suffering from excruciating arthritis, the animal was not sleeping through the night and could barely walk.

‘Schoep falls asleep every night when he is carried into the lake. The buoyancy of the water soothes his arthritic bones. Lake Superior is very warm right now, so the temp of the water is perfect,' Mrs. Hudson explained.

Unger could not afford the costly treatments, which at $200 dollars a session, would ease Schoep's pain. But after Mrs. Hudson's photograph traveled across the world, thousands of dollars came pouring in.

Schoep has been getting joint laser treatments, which reduce pain and swelling while healing the animal's limbs, as well as pain medication from the Bay Area Animal Hospital.

'He's walking so much faster,' Mr Unger said. 'His stride, his gait, is longer. It's unbelievable.'

Dr. Haukass has also seen a change in the animal. 'He sleeps through the night. He's interested in going for more walks during the day,' Dr. Haukass said. 'He walks with less of a limp. His ears are standing up and his tail is wagging better.'


 Inspired: This image has touched thousands After professional photographer Hannah Stonehouse Hudson took this photo of her friend John Unger and his 19-year-old  rescue dog, Shoep, taking one of their therapeutic evening swims in Lake Superior, she posted it on Facebook and it went viral. 
Courtesy of Hannah Stonehouse


 'I took Schoep in for a check up because he was limping,' Unger said. The doctor recommend pain medication, but said that it may be temporary or not help at all. Then, Unger said, the doctor told him, ' "If there isn't any improvement, we should probably..." a good vet won't say "put him down," but he said at that point I may start to want to think about it.'

Faced with the possibility of losing his best friend, he called up Mrs. Hudson for an impromptu session. She met the pair at sunset on Lake Superior, because Schoep's cataracts prevent him from seeing in sunlight.

'She couldn't believe he fell asleep in my arms,' Unger said. Mrs. Hudson watched the man and his dog float around the lake for maybe five minutes before Schoep began to get cold and shake. Unger said he had to take him out of the water to let him warm up and was worried she hadn't had the chance to snap an image. 'I didn't think she even took one picture,' he said. 'But then she told me she got what she wanted.'

Schoep Today 

"It's our turn to give back," Unger told Yahoo News. To honor the outpouring of support that they received, Unger began the Schoep Legacy Foundation for other struggling pet owners.


Saturday, September 8, 2012


Travelers Find Warmth in the
Frozen North on 9.11.2001

GANDER, Newfoundland — It could have been a short, sweet story: planes get diverted, local people pitch in to help stranded passengers. Polite thank-you letters and gifts follow.

What happened in Newfoundland in one terrifying week in September was all that. But in the months that followed, the story continued to grow. Here and in scattered hamlets for miles around, everyone has a part of it to tell — how half a dozen or so isolated communities had been embraced by strangers who dropped from the sky and changed their lives.

Greg King was there when it started. As an air traffic controller, he was on duty on Sept. 11 at Gander, once the hub of North Atlantic air travel, but now an airport that sees few commercial aircraft on the ground while still directing them overhead. Late that morning, when he was preparing for the daily ''wall of airplanes'' from Europe heading for arrivals in New York and other cities, Mr. King suddenly received an order to shut down the sky.

DIVERTED: Planes line up on the runway of the
Gander, Newfoundland, Canada airport on September 12, 2001

Thirty-eight planes were told to land immediately, and for a couple of hours Mr. King barely had time to call his wife and say he would be bringing strangers home for the night. At some point, he recalls, he also registered a fleeting image of an Air France Boeing 747 ''bigger than the airport terminal.''

Gander, a town of 10,000 people with 550 hotel rooms, had to find beds and food for 6,579 passengers and crew members. Other airstrip towns in Newfoundland and Labrador also had unexpected company, but not on this scale.

"This never happened before in the history of aviation,'' said Terry Parsons, chairman of the Gander International Airport Authority. Fortunately, Gander -- created as a military airfield and a trans-Atlantic refueling point in the 1930's -- has a long runway, and a disaster plan. It also has churches, service clubs, doctors and shop owners with small-town, good-neighbor values long out of date in many places, including other parts of Canada. 

 The people of Gander also opened their homes and
welcomed strangers the way they welcome, well, everyone. 

''We're used to helping people,'' said Mayor Claude Elliott, speaking of a region that lives with rough seas, harsh weather and an uncertain economy. ''I guess our biggest problem was trying to explain to people where they were.''

 Jake Turner, the town manager, went into action as soon as the planes started landing. Des Dillon of the Canadian Red Cross was asked to round up beds, along with Maj. Ron Stuckless of the Salvation Army, who also became the coordinator of a mass collection of food that emptied refrigerators for miles around.

Employees from the local co-op supermarket arrived with a refrigerated truck full of meat and other provisions. At St. Martin's Anglican Church, Hilda Goodyear spent 48 mostly sleepless hours organizing bedding and priming the parish hall's kitchen for a Lufthansa flight.

 When 6700 passengers arrived in Gander, townspeople
 immediately brought food to the Community Center to feed them.

People from as far away as Twillingate, an island off the Kittiwake Coast of Newfoundland, prepared enough sandwiches and soup for at least 200 people and drove an hour and a half to Gander to deliver it to dazed and frightened passengers being herded off planes without luggage and under intense scrutiny.

Responding to radio announcements, the residents and businesses of Gander and other towns supplied toothbrushes, deodorant, soap, blankets and even spare underwear, along with offers of hot showers and guest rooms.

There were some with special needs. Carl and Ethna Smith found kosher food through an airport caterer and a new set of kitchenware for an orthodox Jewish family from New York. At the Gander Baptist Church, Gary and Donna House dealt with the needs of four Moldovan refugee families, members of a religious sect who spoke no English and were bewildered by events. 

 The local Gander phone company set up banks of free telephones so stranded passengers could stay in touch with loved ones back home following the 9/11 tragedy.

Newtel Communications, the telephone company, set up phone banks for passengers to call home. Local television cable companies wired schools and church halls, where passengers watched events unfolding in New York and realized how lucky they were.

The passengers, who left with tears and hugs, have responded with their own astonishing acts of generosity. Lewisporte, a seaside town where 4,000 people made room for 773 unexpected guests, received new lighting for the Anglican church and a scholarship fund worth $19,000 ''and still growing'' said the mayor, Bill Hooper. 

Those five days in September, and the stream of e-mail messages, gifts, photographs and invitations that still pour in, have given an incalculable lift to the Newfoundlanders. ''It gave the people a sense of self-worth,'' said Mr. House, a retired teacher and school librarian. ''Newfoundlanders have often felt put down. They speak funny. There are all those 'goofy Newfie' jokes.

Other towns in Newfoundland and Labrador (and across Canada) also took in temporarily displaced passengers with hospitality that day and are equally deserving of our gratitude.


Plenty of grateful Americans who passed through Gander that day took the opportunity to pen appreciative letters similar to the one quoted above when they returned home, such as the following letter to the editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

We were flying home from a wonderful vacation in Paris and were about an hour from Newark when an announcement was made that terrorists had attacked New York and Washington and our flight was being diverted to Gander, Newfoundland.

We were the fourth of 38 planes to land in Gander and were kept on the plane for seven hours. Then we proceeded to immigration, where many compassionate people met us. An unidentified woman approached and put her arm around us and wanted to know if there was anything she could do to help us. At this point we were greatly concerned about our two sons who work in Manhattan. She took us to a phone, where we called our oldest son, who assured us that he and his brother were safe. 

 Schools, fire stations and even church halls were converted 
into temporary dormitories when 6700 passengers were 
stranded in Gander by September 11th.

From there we were put on school buses and taken to the College of the North Atlantic. Many ordinary, caring people met us and made all 300 passengers feel welcome. We were given blankets and pillows from their homes. We stayed for two nights and three days. We slept on the floor, as cots could not be rounded up fast enough. We shared our classroom with 18 others and a dog.

Everyone was extraordinarily thoughtful of each other. One woman must have put her life on hold and was constantly checking on us. She even came to the airport when we finally left to make sure we all were fine. I never saw her without a smile. 

The lady who ran the cafeteria along with many neighbors made hot meals and brought in casseroles each day. Students helped us to use e-mail, and we were able to use the phone to call our family. No organization with financial backing was behind this — this was a call to neighbors and friends to come and help those of us in need.

We will never be able to think of Gander, Newfoundland, without remembering all the goodness and kindness that was showered upon us by our neighbors and friends from Canada.


Here's a letter written by Nazim, a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15, written after 9-11:

We were about 5 hours out of Frankfurt flying over the North Atlantic and I was in my crew rest seat taking my scheduled rest break. All of a sudden the curtains parted violently and I was told to go to the cockpit, right now, to see the captain. As soon as I got there I noticed the crew had one of those "All Business" looks on their faces. The captain handed me a printed message. I quickly read the message and realized the importance of it. The message was from Atlanta, addressed to our flight, and simply said, "All airways over the Continental US are closed. Land ASAP at the nearest airport, advise your destination."

Now, when a dispatcher tells you to land immediately without suggesting which airport, one can assume that the dispatcher has reluctantly given up control of the flight to the captain. We knew it was a serious situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. It was quickly decided that the nearest airport was 400 miles away, behind our right shoulder, in Gander, on the island of New Foundland.

A quick request was made to the Canadian traffic controller and a right turn, directly to Gander, was approved immediately. We found out later why there was no hesitation by the Canadian controller approving our request. We, the in-flight crew, were told to get the airplane ready for an immediate landing. While this was going on another message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area. We briefed the in-flight crew about going to Gander and we went about our business 'closing down' the airplane for a landing. 

A few minutes later I went back to the cockpit to find out that some airplanes had been hijacked and were being flown into buildings all over the US. We decided to make an announcement and LIE to the passengers for the time being. We told them that an instrument problem had arisen on the airplane and that we needed to land at Gander, to have it checked. We promised to give more information after landing in Gander. There were many unhappy passengers but that is par for the course.

We landed in Gander about 40 minutes after the start of this episode. There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the world. After we parked on the ramp the captain made the following announcement. "Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have. But the reality is that we are here for a good reason." Then he went on to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the US. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. Local time at Gander was 12:30 pm. (11:00 AM EST)

Gander control told us to stay put. No one was allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come near the aircraft. Only a car from the airport police would come around once in a while, look us over and go on to the next airplane. In the next hour or so all the airways over the North Atlantic were vacated and Gander alone ended up with 53 airplanes from all over the world, out of which 27 were flying US flags. 

We were told that each and every plane was to be offloaded, one at a time, with the foreign carriers given the priority. We were No. 14 in the US category. We were further told that we would be given a tentative time to deplane at 6 pm. Meanwhile bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC.

People were trying to use their cell phones but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in Canada. Some did get through but were only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the US were either blocked or jammed and to try again. Some time late in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash.

Now the passengers were totally bewildered and emotionally exhausted but stayed calm as we kept reminding them to look around to see that we were not the only ones in this predicament. There were 52 other planes with people on them in the same situation. We also told them that the Canadian Government was in charge and we were at their mercy. True to their word, at 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would come at 11 AM, the next morning. That took the last wind out of the passengers and they simply resigned and accepted this news without much noise and really started to get into a mode of spending the night on the airplane.

Fortunately we had no medical situation during the night. We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed without any further complications on our airplane despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements. About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th we were told to get ready to leave the aircraft. 

 A convoy of school buses showed up at the side of the airplane, the stairway was hooked up and the passengers were taken to the terminal for "processing" We, the crew, were taken to the same terminal but were told to go to a different section, where we were processed through Immigration and customs and then had to register with the Red Cross. After that we were isolated from our passengers and were taken in a caravan of vans to a very small hotel in the town of Gander. We had no idea where our passengers were going.

The town of Gander has a population of 10,400 people. Red Cross told us that they were going to process about 10,500 passengers from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander. We were told to just relax at the hotel and wait for a call to go back to the airport, but not to expect that call for a while. We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and turning on the TV,

24 hours after it all started. Meanwhile we enjoyed ourselves going around town discovering things and enjoying the hospitality. The people were so friendly and they just knew that we were the "Plane people". We all had a great time until we got that call, 2 days later, on the 14th at 7 AM. We made it to the airport by 8:30 AM and left for Atlanta at 12:30 PM arriving in Atlanta at about 4:30 PM. (Gander is 1 hour and 30 minutes ahead of EST, yes!, 1 hour and 30 minutes.) But that's not what I wanted to tell you. What passengers told us was so uplifting and incredible and the timing couldn't have been better.

We found out that Gander and the surrounding small communities, within a 75 Kilometer radius, had closed all the high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to a mass lodging area. Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up. ALL the high school students HAD to volunteer taking care of the "GUESTS". 

Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 Kilometers from Gander. There they were put in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women only facility, that was arranged. Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were given no choice and were taken to private homes. Remember that young pregnant lady, she was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24 hour Urgent Care type facility. There were DDS on call and they had both male and female nurses available and stayed with the crowd for the duration. Phone calls and emails to US and Europe were available for every one once a day.

During the days the passengers were given a choice of "Excursion" trips. Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors. Some went to see the local forests. Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests. Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the school for those who elected to stay put. Others were driven to the eatery of their choice and fed. They were given tokens to go to the local Laundromat to wash their clothes, since their luggage was still on the aircraft.

In other words every single need was met for those unfortunate travelers. Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. After all that, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single one missing or late. All because the local Red Cross had all the information about the goings on back at Gander and knew which group needed to leave for the airport at what time. Absolutely incredible.

When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise. Everybody knew everybody else by their name. They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had the better time. It was mind boggling. Our flight back to Atlanta looked like a party flight. We simply stayed out of their way. The passengers had totally bonded and they were calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses. And then a strange thing happened. One of our business class passengers approached me and asked if he could speak over the PA to his fellow passengers. We never, never, allow that. But something told me to get out of his way. I said "of course".

The gentleman picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days. He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers. He further stated that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of the town of Lewisporte.

He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide a scholarship for high school students of Lewisporte to help them go to college. He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, it totaled to $14.5K or about $20K Canadian. The gentleman who started all this turned out to be an MD from Virginia. He promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well.

I just wanted to share this story because we need good stories right now. It gives me a little bit of hope to know that some people in a faraway place were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on them. In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world this story confirms that there are still a lot of good people in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward.


Paz, a dear Inspiration Line reader who lives in the Philippines