12 Jan 2018 Time Travelers (chalk drawing) and How to Overcome Stress by Seeing Other People’s Joy (http://www.dailygood.org)

11 Jan 2018 – it’s been very cold and windy here the past couple of days so I haven’t been out chalk drawing as much. The sun is out but it’s not supposed to break 40 degrees today!

Hello to you.  It’s 9:01 am as I write to you.  The sun is shining out back but I know it’s still very cold LOL!  We are watching the in-laws dogs Henry and Suzie….last night was as the dogs say…RUFF!  We were up at midnight cleaning up poop and watching You tube Nuke’s Top 5 Lists lool!  There is always an adjustment period when combining packs!

My prayers go out to all those in California and all other parts of the world today.   Whether you are trying to survive the elements of Mother Nature or those of Humankind’s making, I hope you have what you need to get through it.  I hope you know you aren’t alone in this world even if often it may seem like it.  I decided to visit one of my favorite websites for positive stories and found this one.  I hope something in it will resonate in your heart today.

Learn to make the mediator between what you think and what you do be your heart.  If you feel your heart sink below center at the prospect of a thought or an action, chances are whatever it is isn’t the right thing for you!

“If it ain’t light, it ain’t right!” – Carol Lee


If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal every moment. –Carlos Santana


How to Overcome Stress by Seeing Other People’s Joy

–by Kelly McGonigal , syndicated from Greater Good, Nov 21, 2017

 If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, don’t cut yourself off from other people, says Kelly McGonigal. Instead, double down on your capacity for connection.

One evening when I walked into a classroom to teach my Science of Stress course, I found a newspaper waiting for me on the lectern. A student had brought in an article called “Stress: It’s Contagious.” The report claimed that stress is “as contagious as any airborne pathogen” and compared its toxicity to secondhand smoke.

As an example, the news story described a study showing that participants had an empathic physiological stress response when they observed another person struggling. One of the researchers commented, “It was surprising how easily the stress was transmitted.”

As someone who studies both stress and empathy, I get asked about this research a lot. Does it mean that empathy is a liability, increasing your risk of exhaustion, depression, or burnout? If you are highly empathic, are you doomed to become a reservoir for other people’s pain and suffering?

One solution is to create stronger emotional barriers—to put on a psychological Hazmat suit to protect against the stress and suffering you don’t want to catch. I’ve seen this approach adopted by many people in the helping professions, including health care, social work, and teaching.

If you are feeling similarly overwhelmed by how affected you are by the emotions of others, I’d like to offer another possibility for preserving your well-being: Double down on your capacity for empathy. Instead of trying to become immune to other people’s stress, increase your susceptibility to catch other people’s joy.

The benefits of positive empathy

While modern psychological science has largely focused on empathy for negative states, a new field of research dubbed “positive empathy” shows that it is also possible to catch happiness.

You might have seen studies showing that seeing other people in pain can activate the pain system in your own brain. It turns out your brain will also resonate with positive emotions. For example, when you witness other’s good fortune, it can activate the brain’s reward system. Moreover, this kind of contagious happiness can be an important source of well-being. The tendency to experience positive empathy is linked to greater life satisfaction, peace of mind, and happiness. It is also associated with greater trust, support, and satisfaction in close relationships.

Those around you may benefit from your empathic joy, as well. One study examined the experience of empathic joy in teachers in fourteen different U.S. states. The teachers who had more frequent experiences of positive empathy toward their students felt more connected to them. This positive attitude led to more positive interactions with students, as observed by classroom evaluators, and higher academic achievement by their students.

Importantly, positive empathy doesn’t just make you feel good; it can also inspire you to do good. The tendency to feel empathic joy is associated with a stronger desire to help others thrive, and a greater willingness to take action to do so. Positive empathy also enhances the warm glow you feel from helping others—making compassion much more sustainable.

Search for small moments of joy

Joy is a big-sounding word, and so we tend to look for classic expressions of “big” joy—huge smiles, exclamations of delight, hugs and cheers. The kind of joy associated with winning the lottery and marriage proposals.

Yet other forms of joy exist all around us. As you begin to look for joy, you will notice more and more of them. There is the joy of pleasures, simple or sublime, such as enjoying a delicious meal, listening to music, or savoring how it feels to hold a baby in your arms. There is the joy of purpose, and how it feels to contribute, work hard, learn, and grow. There is the joy of being connected to something bigger than yourself, be it nature, family, or faith. There is the joy of wonder—being curious, experiencing new things, and feeling awe or surprise.

There is the joy of being acknowledged and appreciated by others—sensing what you have to offer, and knowing that you matter. There is the joy of being your best self—how good it feels to use your strengths in service of something you care about, or to express your most deeply held values. There is the joy of having your needs met—being helped, listened to, or held in a comforting embrace. There is the joy of laughter, and especially shared laughter, and especially shared laughter when everything seems to be falling apart.

These are just a few of the possible joys you can witness. When you keep your eyes open for them, you learn a lot about how much possibility there is for joy for ordinary moments, and even difficult circumstances.

Ultimately, this is how I think of empathic joy: as a resource that allows you to stay engaged with life not just when things go well, but also when they are difficult. It’s not just a practice of celebrating and amplifying the good; it also allows us to sustain hope when we face the reality of suffering unrelieved and needs yet unmet.

How to catch joy

What if right now, your empathy radar seems tuned in only to stress, unable to resonate with other people’s happiness? Maybe you even feel the opposite of contagious joy: envy at other people’s success, isolated by others’ happiness, reminded by their good fortune of what you long for, or lack.

If so, you aren’t alone. Philosophers and psychologists have observed that, for many people, empathy for negative emotions is more instinctive than for positive states.

Fortunately, you don’t have to rely only on instincts; empathic joy can be cultivated. In Buddhist psychology, empathic joy is considered one of the four brahmavihāras (sublime attitudes), alongside equanimity, loving kindness, and compassion. Like other mindsets, empathic joy can be deliberately trained as a way to deepen your wisdom and well-being. With practice, you can strengthen your capacity to notice, resonate with, and celebrate the happiness of others.

Here are five of my favorite everyday practices for catching joy. As you strengthen your intention to notice joy, you will surely discover your own favorite ways to witness and share in the happiness of others.

1. Watch a child or animal play. Delight in their joy, energy, and wonder. Let yourself smile or laugh as their playfulness awakens a similar spirit in you.

2. Watch an athletic, artistic, or other kind of competition without taking sides. Appreciate the effort, skill, or artistry of all competitors—and celebrate the joy of whoever wins. Feel glad for their success, and watch how they celebrate it with others. See if you can extend your empathic joy to how they share the moment with friends, family, coaches, or teammates.

3. Help someone else celebrate their happiness. If someone shares good news, ask them to tell you more, and listen whole-heartedly. If you become aware of an accomplishment or milestone in a person’s life, write them a congratulatory email or Facebook post. Go beyond “pro forma” congratulations and really feel the joy of helping someone savor something positive.

4. Witness the good in others. Set the goal to notice when others display character strengths like kindness, honesty, courage, or perseverance. Take joy in seeing the good. Feel heart-glad about what you observe. Let yourself feel inspired by their actions to do good yourself.

5. Let someone else do something nice for you. This might not seem like a practice of empathic joy, but it becomes one when you begin to pay attention to how happy it makes the other person. Sometimes our own discomfort with receiving kindness, or fear of being a burden to others, gets in the way of seeing that joy.

As Pema Chodron writes in The Places that Scare You:

“Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world. We can do this even at the most difficult moments. Everything we see, hear, taste, and smell has the power to strengthen and uplift us.”

From this point of view, it becomes possible to open your heart to what can feel, at first, like a vulnerability. To let your natural capacity for empathy connect you to both the pain and joy of others, and to trust that this capacity is a blessing, not a liability.

This article is syndicated from Greater Good, the online magazine of the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC). Based at UC Berkeley, the GGSC studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society. Author Kelly McGonigal, PhD, is a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University, and a leading expert in the new field of “science-help.” She is the author of The Willpower Instinct and The Upside of Stress.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
Lao Tzu

The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it
Marcus Aurelius

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
Albert Einstein


19 March 2017 Active Hope (Daily Good, Joanna Macy) and the tragic story of Edward Daniel Dowd (Vet dies in detox center lobby – Greenfield MA)

Hello to you today. I hope this finds you well. I have been enjoying doing drawings of faces in chalk lately and have been meditating and praying a lot about things going on in our country and world at the moment. I hope something here will resonate with you. I am focusing on what I want in this world and having a clear understanding of the “why” of what I don’t.  Something else I’ve been doing is more lately is fact checking things I read – especially on Facebook.  It’s not always easy to fact check things, even the credibility of Snopes.com has come into question in recent years but it is still possible to do.  It is important that if you are going to form an opinion or belief about something that it is founded in as much truth as you can find!  Anyhew – much love to you!

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
C.S. Lewis

Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.
Mohsin Hamid

You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.
Albert Einstein

The welfare of each is bound up in the welfare of all.
Helen Keller


Mar 19, 2017— Shifting our world toward a life-sustaining society takes active hope. We need to counter the voices that say we’re not up to the task, that we’re not good enough, strong enough, or wise enough to make any difference. If we fear that the mess we’re in is too awful to look at or that we won’t be able to cope with the distress it brings up, we need to find a way through that fear. This piece, co-authored by Joanna Macy, describes three threads we can follow that help us stand tall and not shrink away when facing the immensity of what’s happening to our world.

“I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.” George S. McGovern

*Update 5:21 pm

I looked and found this obituary for Mr. Dan Dowd this afternoon and felt I should share it.  He looked like a very kind person and I am sad his life ended the way it did!


Dan Dowd
November 17, 1953 – February 8, 2017
Greenfield, Massachusetts

REENFIELD: Daniel Dowd, 63, of Greenfield, MA, passed away February 8, 2017. He was born in Holyoke, MA and is the beloved son of the late James J. Dowd, Jr. and Mary Louise Teahan Dowd, and his step-mother Cynthia Clark Dowd Rowell. Dan graduated from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. He was a disabled veteran who proudly served in the US Navy at Guantanamo Bay Cuba. Dan was a lover of music, poetry and laughter. Always a musician, his passion for music was at the heart of his band – The Crybabies. www.thecrybabies.com. He is survived by his three brothers James J. Dowd, III (Dawn Chamberlain) of Conway, MA, David E. Dowd of Westbrook, CT and Timothy W. Dowd (Maggie Sullivan) of Orange, CT and his nieces and nephews James M. Dowd (Sheri) of Santa Monica, CA, Michael D. Dowd of Tampa, FL, Mark A. Nelson of Weare, NH, David J. Dowd (Gwen) of Webster, NY, Mary L. Dowd Stopka (Nicholas), Thomas J. Dowd, and Kathleen S. Dowd all of Orange, CT. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday, February 17, 2017, at 10:00 AM in the Chapel of St. Jerome Church, 169 Hampden St, Holyoke, MA. Friends and family are invited to call on Thursday, February 16, 2017, from 4:00 to 7:00 PM at the Barry J. Farrell Funeral Home, 2049 Northampton St, Holyoke, MA. In lieu of flowers, it is requested that a memorial contribution be made to The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, P.O. Box 160, 97 N. Hatfield Road, Hatfield, MA 01028 (www.foodbankwma.org), telephone (413)247-9738,

Sending men and women to fight in war is an expensive.  I believe when our Government sends soldiers to war they incur a life-long obligation to those soldiers, which includes men like Mr. Dowd.

Recorder Staff/Tom Relihan
The main entrance to Behavioral Health Network’s new detox facility at the former Lunt Silversmith property in Greenfield.



Monday, February 13, 2017

Vet dies in detox center lobby

GREENFIELD — Police are investigating an apparent suicide involving a gun in the lobby of the Franklin Recovery Center.

Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh confirmed a report that Edward Daniel Dowd, a Greenfield man in his 60s, died of a late-night gunshot wound to the head inside the lobby of the drug treatment center at 298 Federal St.

“Everything is still under investigation,” Haigh said of the Feb. 8 shooting, which occurred around 11 p.m. He said the shooting occurred in the lobby and “appears to be self-inflicted.”

He said no one else was injured and that he couldn’t give any other details. He declined to say whether there were any witnesses.

Dowd is listed as a disabled veteran, according to the Greenfield Street List, and was born in 1953.

Katherine Wilson, chief executive officer of the Behavioral Health Network, which runs the Franklin Recovery Center, said the agency is “conducting an internal investigation of events leading up to the incident.

“We are deeply saddened by the recent incident at the Franklin Recovery Program site in Greenfield. We offer our condolences for the loss of a community member, as an organization and as individuals working in the field of recovery.”

Wilson said the agency has counselors who are assisting “those traumatized by this tragedy.”

She said all appropriate state authorities have been notified, but that health care privacy laws prevent Behavioral Health Network and its program staff from sharing any information or any details about the incident or care for the individual involved.


Suicide spotlights intersection between insurance and recovery

Recorder Staff

Friday, February 17, 2017

GREENFIELD — The 7-month-old Franklin Recovery Center got caught in the glare of social media this week following the suicide in its lobby of a distraught 63-year-old veteran, an alcoholic in crisis.

The longtime county resident, Daniel Dowd, who identified himself as suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism, left behind an angry and anguished note, spread on Facebook. His core complaint focused on the center’s apparent inability or, in his mind, unwillingness to take him into its detoxification program.

Since the death a week ago, members of the recovery community in Greenfield, specifically members of the Behavioral Health Network, which oversees and runs the recovery center on Federal Street, have spoken out to address issues raised by the suicide, while declining to discuss specifics of this case citing federal confidentiality rules.

Police Chief Robert H. Haigh Jr. said the shooting death was in fact a suicide and that the detective on the case found a note on the body of Dowd that corroborated the authenticity of the “suicide note” that circulated online.

“When someone does something in this manner, in a very public manner, you certainly don’t want to ignore the situation,” Haigh said. “You don’t want to shortchange it.”

 In addition to the police investigation, a state Department of Public Health probe is underway. A state spokesman would only say, “We are aware and are actively investigating the circumstances of this tragic death, and cannot comment further until our review is complete.”

The Franklin Recovery Center has been licensed to provide detoxification services by DPH’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services since May 2016.


In light of the suicide, leaders at Behavioral Health Network, the Regional Opioid Task Force and The Recovery Project all noted the importance of finding immediate care for addicts who decide they want help. But finding that help with or without insurance has never been easy, one of the reasons that the state supported creation of the 64-bed recovery center in Greenfield. County residents seeking help in residential programs for themselves or others before last summer had to work the phones, scouring facilities in Springfield, Worcester or Boston to find a bed.

Within 48 hours of opening last summer, the Greenfield center was full — though with constant turnover. Currently there are 32 beds for the short-term detoxification and 32 beds for the second-step care, which if used, typically lasts the state-required 14 days.

“Some days I walk in and I’m like, ‘homeless shelter, psych unit, detox.’ That’s what we’re running,” Dr. Ruth Potee, medical director of the Franklin Recovery Center, said of her experience so far. “I didn’t know that’s what it was going to be like.”

Just how the center operates and who it can accept has been a prominent point of confusion following the suicide. It isn’t a state-funded facility but relies on private insurance and Medicaid money to keep its doors open.

If prospective patients have no insurance, they can be admitted to the Recovery Center, and the state covers the cost. If prospective patients have insurance that doesn’t contract with the Recovery Center, or are “underinsured,” commonly by Medicare, then they cannot be admitted to the center. Instead, the center staff tries to find other available options and if the prospective client desired, arrange to transport the person to somewhere with an available bed that takes the insurance or to a hospital emergency room or if the case is relevant, to the Northampton VA Medical Center.

“In fact, having zero insurance is better than having the wrong insurance,” Potee said. “But once you have insurance, you can’t pretend to have zero insurance. That’s fraud.”

Potee and the Senior Vice President of BHN, Candy Darcy, said fewer than 5 percent of their prospective patients have the “wrong” insurance, so that the inability to help is rare.

“We try to contract with every insurance provider out there,” Darcy said. “Some of them just won’t pay for detox services.”

Further, if a prospective patient is not able to walk or maintain their vital signs, the center cannot admit them.

“I’m not running a hospital,” Potee said. “I don’t have 20 nurses. It’s the level of care that is considered the state’s level of care, which is that people have to be functioning, walking, talking and not have such acute medical needs that they need an IV.”

Those patients are offered transport to the ER and a bed kept waiting for them for when they are stabilized, said Potee, who noted that they can’t force anyone to the ER or alternate programs. Hospital ERs are obligated to provide that care with or without insurance, often losing thousands of dollars in uncompensated care.

The VA hospital in Northampton will accept patients regardless of mental or physical circumstances, as long as they are eligible for VA care, Public Affairs Officer Andre Bowser said. Franklin Recovery Center would offer to transmit an eligible veteran there as long as beds were available.

Also, the Recovery Center sometimes has stretched its protocols. Most of its patients arrange admission by telephone, so that when they arrive, insurance issues have already been resolved. But if someone wants help and walked in at night or on the weekend when the center administrative staff isn’t available to check insurance and there happens to be an available bed, the person might be admitted temporarily. When the immediate treatment is concluded, if the insurance does not check out, then the center will refer that patient to somewhere that does take his or her insurance to continue the care.

The Recovery Center does not run a waiting list, but instead emphasizes immediate service.

Reaction from addiction communityMembers of the regional Opioid Task Force, which worked hard behind the scenes to establish the Recovery Center in Greenfield, say this incident points to the need for continual improvement in addiction programs and policies statewide.

“In some ways, we need to go back to our roots, ” said John Merrigan, task force co-chair, about the group’s education outreach objectives.

Sheriff Christopher Donelan, another task force co-founder, said he hopes to work with the task force to push state officials in Boston to consider changing rules.

“Let’s focus on the crisis first and the insurance second,” he said.

Local leaders in recovery have urged members of the community to refrain from particularly negative social media comments like those that swirled around the internet based on Dowd’s note, clearly written in a time of distress and anger, saying it doesn’t help.

“Finger-pointing or hashing out old stuff is not going to help at all. It’s going to take away the focus from this individual who was in a crisis moment,” said Michael Lewis, director of The RECOVER Project, a peer-to-peer participatory program for people in and seeking recovery from all forms of addiction.

Longtime friend Wid Perry said of Dowd, “I choose to remember him as an energetic and proud Shipmate Sailor who served his country well and made a positive difference in my career.”

Perry said Dowd was passionate and sometimes intense about his musical interests and national politics, “but I think for Dan it was our Navy connection that meant the most to him.”

Impact on staffPotee noted that it’s difficult for nurses and her staff at large to feel positively when vitriolic voices fill social media, especially if the comments aren’t necessarily based on facts.

She defended the facility’s staff as hard working professionals who care deeply about their work and their patients.

Since the suicide, the parking lot has had a security officer. The center will re-evaluate safety protocol, but Potee emphasized that this recent incident is a rare situation.

“We don’t consider our clients to be unsafe people,” Potee said. “I’m not running a jail, I’m not running a courthouse. This is a treatment facility. I don’t think that guns in a public setting are very common in this part of the world. I don’t live in fear and most of my staff doesn’t.”

She said her staff has experienced stress of late because of turnover by peers leaving for higher paying jobs at private clinics that have opened in the region lately.

“We’re hiring like mad right now, so that will de-stress the amount of stress my staff is under because they’re all working so hard right now.”

Instead of working eight-hour shifts, nurses have been pushed to closer to 12-hour shifts, Potee said.

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

Other Links:

http://www.disabledveterans.org/2017/01/04/veterans-affairs-ptsd-suicide-cover-morally-indefensible/Veterans Affairs PTSD, Suicide Cover-up ‘Morally Indefensible’

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/1181 – Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act (Rep. Roe, David P. [R-TN-1)



These are just a fraction of the unfathomable amount of words used about the topic of War. Many of these I had never read before. Many, many messengers have lived and continue to live amongst us much like canaries taken into the coal mines.

A great war leaves the country with three armies an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves. ~German Proverb


26 Feb 2017 Problems with owning a home built on expansive clay soil, outdoor chalk drawings, Three Ways to Keep Technology From Ruining Your Relationships (Daily Good Christine Carter)

Good morning family, how are you doing?  It’s 9:13 am as I write to you this increasingly cloudy Sunday morning.  May be it will rain, we could use more water here for as I write to you, I just heard another loud pop from the ceiling cracking in our bedroom lol.

Our house is built on a slab directly atop expansive clay soil.  When this kind of soil dries out it expands creating deep cracks and fissures.  Our house, not built with expensive piers or a deep poured foundation with flexible rebarb reinforcements, gets twisted like a pretzel every time we go through a dry spell.  The way most people combat this problem is having sprinkler systems installed around the perimeters of the house or soaker hoses set up.  The only problem with this, city water is so expensive!   We’ve spent a lot of money on interior repairs and exterior repairs (had 13 piers put in under our existing foundation) that get undone just about as soon as they are done because of this condition.  So fair warning to those looking to buy homes that are built on soil like here in North Texas, do your homework first!

http://www.foundation-repair-guide.com/expansive-soil.html – (see link for all info if you are interested)

Getting Control of Expansive Soil

Expansive soil, also called shrink-swell soil, is a very common cause of foundation problems. Depending upon the supply of moisture in the ground, shrink-swell soils will experience changes in volume of up to thirty percent or more. Foundation soils which are expansive will “heave” and can cause lifting of a building or other structure during periods of high moisture. Conversely during periods of falling soil moisture, expansive soil will “collapse” and can result in building settlement. Either way, damage can be extensive.

So I spend a lot of time outside so I don’t focus on this stuff too much lol.  It’s just frustrating for us to spend money that feels like we own a swimming pool or a boat instead of a house.  When we get some money together we will be looking for someone to do the exterior woodwork of the house with hopes that will be a fix that holds up for more than a couple of months!  These are the kinds of things they don’t figure in when they tell you that you qualify to buy a used house.  This is probably why so many people choose to buy new ones if they can afford it.

Anyhew….back to brevity.  Did a lot of chalk drawings outside yesterday and just enjoyed the beautiful day with clear blue skies.  Hope you have a lovely rest of whatever day it is for you as you visit.  Thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it!

From the Daily Good site if your interested:

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Leonardo Da Vinci


The human spirit must prevail over technology.
Albert Einstein

Three Ways to Keep Technology from Ruining Your Relationships

Jan 8, 2017— We all know there’s nothing like a warm smile, loving hug, sympathetic eyes, shared laughter, or long talks. These are the things that make us human and happy, and they are best done in person. Yet sometimes we are too busy to get together. Enter technology, with promises of improving relationships. However tempting, technology needs to be limited. While Facebook, Instagram, and e-mail give us the ability to reach and learn about more people, the parts about the experience that are lacking — vulnerability and intimacy — are the ones that bring us closer. Similarly, smartphones make us available 24/7, but this can mean constant interruptions. These can cause tiny tears in the fabric of our relationships that can eventually add up to real damage to happiness. In this article, learn three ways to prevent the damage that technology can do to our real-life experiences.