When I think of the term ‘bleeding heart’, I simply look at one of our Ponderosa pines we planted over 25 years ago in an environment which they weren’t meant to thrive in. The prolonged drought which ended about three years ago almost killed all of them. Today, many bleed sap. Sap covering trunk bark is usually a sign of a tree defending itself against invasive insects and fungus’s. Pruning also causes sap to occur to cover the wounded trunk and branches. Since these pines are mature and were weakened by the lack of water and extremely hot summer temperatures, they are unhealthy. At this stage in their lives, there is little that can be done to make them thrive again. They have already exceeded their life expectancy for our temperate zone. They are not native to Kansas and are more vibrant when located in cooler and higher altitude climates. Yet, they have survived. Speaking of survival, pine tree sap is an excellent wound salve and has other beneficial medicinal uses.

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It is wonderful how nature protects herself. From a strictly vision perspective, the bleeding sap looks like an abstract painting of sorts. All of this gooey, slowly dripping sap gives the pine a fighting chance to survive another year. Although their branches aren’t as full as when younger, and the ability to withstand drought and pestilence aren’t as good as they used to be, these out-of-place trees know a thing or two about life and stress. They adapt. The sap is like liquid artwork to me-gradually changing color and shape as time marches on. Although I know something is wrong, I can’t help but admire the ever changing covering of bark. Strange, perhaps, but also encouraging.


So, why talk about sap? Because it reminds me of people…of me. The bark of a tree provides an outer protective shield much like people do with their words and actions. Get too close and the bark may scratch. If one could peel off or bore into the bark then the tree (person) becomes vulnerable to a host of problems. Since sap is created to protect the tree when the bark has been damaged (much like people respond to pain and injury as they reveal their emotions in a myriad of ways)  a protective balm is produced. People  will do almost anything to protect their souls from being injured further.

Often, we lash out against those who have injured us-and in the process create more harm to ourselves by striving to keep them away. Sometimes we curl-up emotionally and drive away those who care for us by simply closing them out. If we understand our condition and desire healing we are usually clueless as to where to find it. So, rather than produce sap, we humans look to other methods to bring about wholeness. Occasionally, we get it right and bounce back, but this is not easy and usually requires the aid from others.

There is something magnificent about the human spirit…each unique spirit God has given to mankind. We so much desire to be vibrant. We desperately want to be noticed. We vie for attention and when we don’t get it from where it should come from we do all sorts of silly things. We want to be understood, and appreciated simply for who we are. It doesn’t matter if we are fifteen, twenty-two, forty something, sixty or eighty-eight. We all crave the same thing-to be acknowledged…to be appreciated…to be recognized (with or without fanfare). Validation. We simply want to be acknowledged and valued.

So, we instinctively protect ourselves when our egos have been walked on or our ambition has been perceived as arrogance. Whether we are hurt, belittled, misunderstood, have been treated unjustly or are ignored we struggle to deal positively with what has been done to us (or perceived to have been done to us). Hence, sap. Just like these pine trees striving to live-we humans go through all sorts of mental, emotional and physical exercises to survive, as well. Being very complex beings, most of the time our self-protective actions are misunderstood or self-destructive. Quite often, our defense mechanisms return to a default position that only ourselves or a few others are even aware of. How sad. How true.

So, rather than end this post on a negative note, I choose to flip the record over and play a happier song. Sap is a good thing. Period. If God didn’t give each human the ability to produce ‘sap’ then we would be doomed to a life of pity…often self-pity. This statement is not to imply that some injuries are beyond our control to heal. However, each of us experiences a suppository of defensive mechanisms to deal with the pain; whether they be crushed egos, betrayals, personal attacks, mockery, physical deformities or a myriad of other conditions. We are resilient.

My God has stated that we are the Apple of His eye. In other words, the most vulnerable place in the human body is valued by the Creator in such a way that He loves us and desires to protect us. I admit that I am not an expert in this area. I know His love, yet fight to make things better by my  own will. The result is usually not so good. However, when I release all to Him, the result is one of inner healing which, in turn, results in outer blessings for others. To be human means to be a family. It doesn’t matter what one’s philosophy is, nor what religion, nor what influence one may have achieved. I wish there was equality among all people everywhere, but such is not the case. We all know this.

Let us become the Sap for the sake of others. Practice applying the balm of forgiveness, of understanding, of empathy, and sacrifice when it is called for. Go the extra mile as Jesus preached and surrender yourselves to the greater good…mankind. I speak to myself most of all. Do not despair, my friends, for there is a power far greater than our own which governs all things. In particular, this Power loves humans more than trees or sap. He loves each one of us simply because He chose to. You are wonderful.


Quote & Pic of the Day, No. 15 of 24

” If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written upon our hearts. ”    President James Garfield       IMG_0081This post is inspired by a rather unusual person by the name of Edna. I don’t have a photograph of her so I substituted a rose which fits her well. Edna lives in the same assisted living facility where Cheryl’s father resides. She just celebrated her eighty-fourth birthday with her family. They went out to eat at a local restaurant-all but Edna, that is. She developed a swallowing disorder several years ago which caused her to aspirate. She almost died of pneumonia a year ago. As a result of her condition she now has a feeding tube. She mixes her pureed food together at mealtime and pours it into her feeding tube without ever tasting what she just mixed up. She doesn’t complain, but simply accepts this is how she has to live. Edna uses a wheelchair quite often because she is unstable while standing, but this doesn’t prevent her from leading exercise class for some of the residents! She is a joy to talk with as she is always positive. She is a simple person without pretense. She takes pride in working most of her life as a maid…and she loved it. She is intelligent and vibrant and a pleasure to be around. She may have wrinkles on her brow, but her soul is young.

Carson’s Conundrum

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My name is Carson. Carson Doran to be exact. I am a West Highland Terrier, often referred to as a Westie. I am a bit larger than most of my breed, weighing in at a little more than 22 pounds. I am about five and a half years old, but not totally sure of my birthdate. You see, I was a breeder dog in a puppy mill for a while and accurate records are not a certainty. I eventually escaped, was found and then adopted by this most awesome couple in December of 2010. So much for the history lesson. By the way, I hi-jacked this blog site from Michael because I am bored stiff and wanted to complain about my situation (it seems that a lot of people like to complain, too). I have a bit of a problem; a conundrum to be more precise. I find myself very weak, can’t walk on my own very well, and have a bunch of hair shaved off my left hind leg and a couple other places on my body. I even have a bunch of staples over my knee. Odd, but I don’t recall putting those in and I don’t know how to use a razor. As to the weakness and bad limp, I can only assume they are related to the missing hair and staples. Sharp, aren’t I?12-26-13 016Here’s the puzzle: one day about two weeks ago, I was playing in the snow-chasing wind-blown leaves of all things when my body went one way and one leg didn’t. I wasn’t too concerned at the time because I wanted to chase more leaves. I can’t help it; I chase leaves as much as I chase squirrels! It’s crazy, this behavior. I guess it’s the Terrier in me, or so I’ve been told. The next thing I know  my parents started babying me; you know, carrying me up and down stairs and not letting me run. It was weird. Then I went to several doctors. I don’t like doctors or their offices. Then, it happened…the mystery. I awoke in a strange place-in a cage that reminded me of the old days back at the mill. I hurt and noticed the missing hair and then the staples. I thought staples were for paper so I almost freaked out, but was too tired so I just layed there. Good news, the next day my folks picked me up. They were so kind and gentle and treated me like a China Doll or some foo foo pet. I didn’t get it and still don’t, but hey, I’m at home which is what counts. As a matter of record, my folks treat me pretty darn good most of the time, but that’s between us. Okay? I can’t afford them getting big heads, if you know what I mean. Too many big heads these days.2-24-13dSpeaking of home, I like laying on a soft carpet or bed soaking up the sun’s rays. It appears I will be doing this for a while so I better make the most of it cause who knows when this show will end? If you’re interested, I can tell you a little bit about what happened to my leg; actually my left hind knee. My dad told me after I bugged him a lot. It seems I have the same injury as many elite athletes get; a torn ACL, except on dogs it’s called a CCL for Cranial Cruciate Ligament. It appears to be the most common injury among canines, and the most common surgery…duh. There are three ways to fix a totally torn set of ligaments. My folks chose the ‘gold standard’ method called a TPLO which is probably Latin for Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy. It seems that through selective breeding, exceptional dogs like my kind, have knee bones that don’t quite fit together as they should so the knee slips out of socket more easily than it otherwise would, and voila, a rupture. Larger dogs are more prone to this injury, but us active smaller pooches rupture these ligaments because, well, we’re active a lot. Remember the leaves! I can’t help it. Checkout this next photograph.Carson's X-Rays 2-21-14 001This is a photo of an x-ray (radiography, as my doctor calls it) before the surgery. The knee (actually called a stifle in dogs) is just to the left of my…male part that protrudes from my body (I was going to say man part, but that didn’t make sense). I don’t have an after-surgery photo as yet, but this is what you would see: a metal plate, six screws and four pins of some sort attached to the lower bone which has been shaved a bit so this injury won’t occur again. That’s the theory, anyway. Oh, and let’s not forget those staples which itch like mad. I am supposed to take it super easy for six weeks. Aaaahhhh, I don’t think I can manage that. Guess what? That’s exactly what my folks said, too. They have to do all the heavy lifting and make sure I don’t run or jump or chew my staples off. I have to Not be a terrier for a while which is going to be a real challenge. I like being me. Really. Here’s another photo of my body: Caution, it’s x-rated.Carson's X-Rays 2-21-14 004Pretty cool, huh? The actual x-ray reveals my tail bone much more than this picture, but you get the point (ha, I crack myself up!). Well, I won’t be doing anymore of this for a while (see photos below) so I better get off this computer before dad catches me playing blogger. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for Spring. These snows and constant frigid temps are getting old. Not to mention the fact that they can be a dangerous combination. I’m lucky that my folks love me and care for me enough to baby me and pay for this surgery…I overheard them saying something about my college fund being significantly reduced. Can’t be worrying about things I can’t control, so I won’t. Don’t worry. Be happy.12-26-13 008Or this………………………………………………………………………………………………..1-22-14 013