Monday, 31 December 2012

New Year’s Resolutions that Work with Your Brain.

Not sure about these but hope your own work out well


Traditional New Years’ Resolutions fall into the category of behavior that I call “control mechanisms.”

Resolutions like going to the gym more often or losing 20 pounds are based on trying to control the feeling that “there’s something wrong with me being just as I am.” This feeling, called Learned Distress, is what your brain uses to automatically generate the negative moments of your life.
Learned Distress doesn’t take kindly to being controlled.
Sometimes the control mechanism out and out fails. You just can’t get out of bed early enough to make it to the gym before work. Oh, well.
Or, if you’re particularly good at controlling it, Learned Distress also can be sneaky and find another way “out.” Maybe you’re three weeks into your gym routine when you slip on the ice and injure your back. There goes your resolution!
Or, your learned distress might even find an entirely different aspect of your life within which to express itself. If the feeling is “there’s something wrong with how I look,” you might have something go wrong with some other aspect of your appearance or your significant other might start complaining that you don’t know how to dress well.
You might guess correctly, then, that New Years’ resolutions are not something I recommend to my clients. However, there is a type of resolution you could craft based on an element of Quanta Change that will work with your brain’s automatic generating force, instead of trying to control it.
First, you should know that the part of your brain that stores Learned Distress only deals with how you feel about being yourself. It isn’t capable of rational thought. And, this part of your brain, your sense of self, deals only with two simple kinds of feeling—”It’s good being me exactly as I am,” and, “There’s something wrong with me being exactly as I am.” Every feeling you have and every moment of your life, positive or negative, can be traced back to one of these two basic kinds of feelings.

So, when you craft a control-style resolution, you’re really reinforcing the “something wrong with me” feeling.

Your brain recharges while you sleep with the feelings you experience every day. When you resolve to go to the gym more often to keep this negative feeling under control, your brain actually recharges with it at night, and you wake up the next day with just a tad bit more of the feeling that “there’s really something wrong with my body”—the exact opposite of what you were going for!

So, if you’re going to make a New Year’s resolution, I recommend making one that reinforces the positive way you would like to feel.

Maybe something like, “I feel good in my own skin for the first time in my life.” Or, if the change you want to see has to do with relationships, “When I’m with others, I feel so comfortable being just who I am and I really know that I matter.” Or, if it has to do with finding bigger ways to serve others, “It feels so good to have found my unique way of making the world a better place and to see the good rippling outward!” You might visualize these outcomes as if they had already happened, letting yourself feel the joy of how different it is to be you in this new way. This helps your brain experience the feeling you want it to recharge with when you’re asleep.
I hope you’ll give this a try and report back to let me know how it worked for you. Wishing you a joyous new year!

10 Predictions for 2013

This past year, 2012, was an eventful year. We had another Olympics, a U.S. presidential election, the warmest year on record, and lived through the Mayan apocalypse. However, many things did not occur that many of the trend seers predicted, especially dramatic events that made the boldest predictions.
As we enter 2013, time itself seems to be speeding up or condensing to make the potential for dramatic events more likely. Tipping points appear to have been breached on many fronts, and what waits on the other side is difficult to know.
But let’s break out the crystal ball here and make some bold predictions for 2013.
These predictions weren’t acquired by some esoteric powers to see the future; rather they’re derived from riding the current wave of information and guessing where that flow may lead. They may seem bold to some, while the most aware readers may recognize them as foregone conclusions.
So without further ado, here are our top 10 predictions for 2013:

1. Stock market decline: Many economic forecasters have been predicting a stock market crash every year since the financial crisis of 2008. Yet, it has remained strong and even hit a 3-year high in September, 2012. There are many false reasons for this strength that don’t have to do with real economic growth; devalued dollars, cheap money for Wall Street banks, corporations hoarding cash and investments, etc. It’s a false bull market. That is why we feel comfortable predicting a significant decline in the stock market during 2013.
The real economy has been papered over for decades, but the numbers in the false economy can no longer dam the wave of reality. Endless quantitative easing, a quadrillion in world derivatives, over-extended personal debt, lowest ever percentage of the population working, and increased social burden of record food stamps and other programs will finally burst the dam in 2013.
The Baltic Dry index, which is believed to be the best indicator of our consumer economy, suffered a dramatic loss in December. Some say a new recession is already here and the stock market will soon reflect that with a crash in 2013.  Look for the Dow Jones to dip below the 10K mark (around 30% or more) next year.
2. Precious metals rise over 50%: Using the same data points as the previous prediction, we predict gold and silver to rise at least 50%.
As the mass exodus from the stock market and other paper investments takes place, individual and institutional investors will start a new gold rush. Indeed, this is already happening.
Central banks around the world are snatching up new gold and moving to secure their foreign gold, while investment titans like George Soros have been increasing their positions where they previously denounced gold as a viable investment.
3. Schools start to install body scanners: Since these recent shootings actually resulted in horrific deaths of innocent people including children, the public is scared enough to accept just about anything. So we predict naked body scanners will begin to appear in schools and other public venues in 2013.  There are several reasons for this prediction. The public is clamoring for protection and many inner-city schools already have metal detectors, so the upgrade will be acceptable if not preferred in suburban areas.
Next, the body scanner companies who lobby the government need more customers, and they usually get what they want. And, finally, the authorities love to remove our rights in the name of security, making this move a no-brainer.
4. European Union announces central Treasury: The Eurozone debt crisis will once again flare up particularly within the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain), as well as in new countries. Instead of resorting to constantly increasing their “rescue fund” to bail out ailing European nations, the European Central Bank announced unlimited bond purchasing of any member state in need this September. This action of issuing new debt-based money for the sole purpose of buying debt has become known as quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve. The EU has repeatedly stated the need to form a central Treasury that has the power to collect direct taxes from member states, essentially turning the Eurozone into the United States of Europe. Look for this to come into reality in 2013 with possibly the first EU president elected as well.
5. Marijuana legalization sweeps America and the world: After Colorado and Washington voters proved it can be done, marijuana legalization is an idea whose time has finally come. No amount of fear mongering or lies will stop its liberation now. Although 15 states have decriminalized marijuana possession, along with 18 states with legal medical cannabis, this past election will be viewed as the tipping point in the full-scale legalization of weed. The ripple effects are already traveling quickly as at least 7 more states are considering legalization. Meanwhile, Mexico is reconsidering its war on weed and Uruguay is already designing its regulatory rules for legalization, which will make it the first country with full legalization.  Expect 2013 and beyond for marijuana legalization to be a foregone conclusion with anyone standing in the way looking extremely foolish.
6. Major cyber attack hits America: All governments and many large corporations want to put more controls on the Internet. However, the general population does not want to see their beloved Internet change, so there must be an event that sways the public to believe that Internet “security” is a priority. This can’t just be some minor attack that hits a small business sector. It would have to be something that inflicts pain on the public; perhaps an extended Internet outage or electric grid crash that’s blamed on cyber terrorists would do the trick.
Many officials have been predicting a cyber 9/11 or “Pearl Harbor” event for some time, claiming it’s not a matter of if but when. That “when” will be 2013. Major antivirus companies such as McAfee are also warning of just such an event in 2013, labeled Project Blitzkrieg. And just like prior to 9/11, there is freedom-crushing legislation sitting on the shelf just waiting to be enacted if a cyber version of 9/11 were to take place.
The level playing field of information on the Internet poses a huge threat to all regimes and their puppet media corporations around the world. They can’t wait much longer before putting a stop to the free flow of information; therefore, this attack will be a classic false flag operation. Mark it down, this will happen in 2013.
7. Syria’s Assad is toppled: Many pundits predicted this would have happened already, but without a NATO no-fly zone (aka massive air strikes on Assad in a Libya-style destruction) the ragtag rebels have proven to be no match for the Syrian government thus far.
However, we have seen that when there is full-scale commitment by NATO, as with Libya, it’s virtually guaranteed. Since the West has increased their support of the Jihadist rebels with training, arms, money, and Patriot missiles in Turkey, their commitment is clear.
Furthermore, the UN has warned of sectarian genocide, and U.S. officials have clearly stated the ultimate line in the sand: Assad’s use of chemical weapons. As if on cue, PressTV and Fars News are reporting that militants have indeed used chemical weapons. Whether or not this particular event is confirmed, expect it to happen at some point in 2013 to be spun as justification to take out the Assad regime — it’s been in the cards for years.
8. West attacks Iran, starts WW3: The toppling of Syria will leave Iran as the only nation in the Middle East not controlled by the West. Besides having vast oil reserves, Iran also has the last strategic public central bank not run by the international banking cartel – and they want it. It is the endgame written about by many think tanks.
The war with Iran has been years in the making and has already technically begun with crippling economic sanctions and strategic military bases surrounding it. Indeed, World War 3 already began as well when America invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, but this decade-plus-long war is about to get much more intense. Additionally, the establishment will need a distraction from the economic crisis of 2013, and only a large new war will effectively serve that purpose.
The West has been goading Iran into an attack for years to justify further aggression. Iran, to their credit, has failed to take the bait. But once Syria falls, the full force of pressure will become too much for Iran to bear and they’ll be forced to defend themselves. The West will portray it as aggression against them and launch their attack. The question will be how other super powers like China and Russia react to this aggression against their ally?
9. Food and oil prices break records, again: This might have the highest guarantee of coming true, since it is mathematically impossible for it not to in an era of unlimited money creation, expanding conflicts in oil regions, and record demand but unstable climates for food production. Some food and commodity prices set new record highs in 2012, while oil is still chasing its 2008 high of $147/bbl.
First, let’s look at oil since it is also a major contributor to the price of food. Oil will have conflicting price pressures in 2013. There will be reduced demand due to a sharp economic downturn, but that will be more than offset by the devalued petrodollar and the fallout of regional conflicts. We predict oil will soar past its previous high to over $150/bbl.
This high price of oil will cause food prices to rise significantly since industrial agriculture is utterly dependent on oil from plowing, fertilizing, pesticides, harvesting, processing, to transport. Couple this very real cost to the rush away from stocks into more tangible assets like commodities that are also traded in rapidly devaluing dollars. This speculation will lead to much higher food prices. Throw in more extreme weather, and we have a recipe for a major food crisis. Food will hit new all-time highs in 2013.
Average citizens will spend a much higher percentage of their salaries on food in 2013 which will put further pressure on the rest of economic output. Most extremely, a large portion of the population may realize starvation for the first time in their lives. Certainly, we can expect food stamp usage to explode even faster than it has in the last five years.
On the upside, bulk food will be one of the best investments for 2013.
10. More extreme weather and earth changes: Extreme weather appears to be the new norm. In 2012 we saw the warmest year on record, record droughts in America’s bread basket, and an odd super storm Hurricane Sandy which still has thousands without power more than two months later. However, the jury is still out on what’s causing our extreme weather. Since the climates appear to be changing on all of the celestial bodies in our solar system, it seems unlikely that increased CO2 is the primary cause of climate change.
Many experts point to the rapidly shifting North Pole and the sun’s awakening to a new solar maximum as major contributors to our changing climate. And speaking of celestial weather, two great comets will appear in 2013 close to Earth whose impact on our weather, if any, is impossible to predict. Additionally, it appears that the Ring of Fire is awakening with increased earthquake and volcanic activity.
For 2013, we predict more super storms starting with winter storms that will now be named for the first time, and an even bigger increase in earthquake activity, and more devastating crop damage.
Many of these predictions seem negative and scary, but with awareness of their possible outcomes, one can prepare and position themselves to survive and even thrive under conditions which might seem horrific. It is also never to late to reach out to your local community by sharing information in a positive way, and encourage discussion of strategies for enhancing local resistance to larger global events.

X-Men star dismisses photoshopping speculation...

On Graham Norton tonight, really lovely man.
 14:48, Monday, 31 December 2012
Hugh Jackman has dismissed speculation that he was photoshopped for an official image from The Wolverine.
Rumours had begun to spread that the picture was digitally altered to make the Aussie actor look buffer.
But Hugh insists his impressive physique was down to hard work and nothing else.
Hugh Jackman Wolverine poster
Appearing on The Jeff Probst Show, Jackman said: "That's all me, man."
The X-Men star said he was peeved at the suggestion it was a fake, saying: "Because it was brutal getting there. And by the way, I asked the company if they could just... you're spending millions on special effects, just help me out. I want to eat pizza and drink beer. And they said no."
He added: "For that kind of body, I had to go up in weight, big, lift big and heavy, then strip down."
Hugh recently revealed that The Wolverine - which is scheduled for release on 26 July 2013 - will feature a cameo by one of his former co-stars.

A tiger in a Thailand wildlife sanctuary.
The Indochinese tiger (pictured) is a subspecies growing in number.
Photograph by Steve Winter, National Geographic
Ker Than
Published December 28, 2012
Tigers are making a comeback, thanks to strong government initiatives in India, Thailand, and Russia, scientists announced this week.
Joe Walston, executive director for Asia Programs at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), praised the three countries for taking action to protect their tiger populations. The animals are endangered globally. (See tiger pictures.)
There are six remaining subspecies of tiger that live in 13 Asian countries—a habitat that's reduced by 93 percent from their historic range.
"There are a number of factors that are necessary for tigers to come back, but without true government commitment, there will not be any success," Walston said.
Taking Steps to Save Tigers
In India's Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks, for example, a combination of strict antipoaching patrols, surveillance, voluntary relocation of people away from tiger habitats, and scientific monitoring have helped the big cats rebound to the point where they have saturated the two national parks.
This success is only possible because the Indian state of Karnataka is dedicated to conserving tigers, Walston said. (Learn about National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative.)
In Russia, government officials are drafting a new law that makes the transport, sale, and possession of endangered animals a criminal offense rather than just a civil crime. This closes a loophole that currently allows poachers to claim they found endangered species like tigers already dead.
Russia also recently announced that it was creating a new corridor for safe tiger passage called the Central Ussuri Wildlife Refuge, which would link tiger breeding strongholds in Russia and China. (Related blog: "Protecting Russia's Last Siberian Tigers.")
Corridors "allow tigers to move between different areas to breed and connect up," Walston explained. "This makes for larger, more robust, and genetically healthy populations."
In Thailand, enforcement and antipoaching patrols have been beefed up in the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary. In 2011 the government busted a notorious poaching ring, and this year the gang leaders were given prison sentences of up to five years—the most severe prison sentences for wildlife poaching in Thailand's history. Since the gang's capture, there have been no known tiger or elephant poaching incidents in the park. (Read about a live tiger cub that was found in luggage in Thailand.)
What's more, "Thailand last year had a poaching problem, and instead of ignoring it, the government recognized the problem and hired 60 new rangers," Walston said.
Tigers Can Bounce Back
But these three success stories are rare bright spots for the endangered species, whose numbers continue to hover at all-time lows worldwide due to the combined threats of poaching, loss of prey, and habitat destruction.
Conservationists estimate that only 3,200 tigers exist in the wild. (See a National Geographic magazine interactive of big cats in danger.)
Even so, Walston said the successes in India, Thailand, and Russia prove that tigers are not doomed—and he hopes other countries will take notice.
"This is not a species that is on an inevitable decline ... They are coming back in some places," he said.
Walston also pointed out that saving tigers has other benefits.
"When we conserve tigers, we're actually conserving a whole host of species that are maybe not as charismatic or iconic but are equally valuable—and equally threatened," he said.

10 Quotes You Must Read Before 2013 (or at least early into it).


We are leaping over a random chasm.

Let’s look before that. Let’s look at time, love, the human condition and God. But quickly, no fluff.
  Time is not a straight line, but more like a labyrinth.
~ Tomas Transtromer
Yet, we will persist in looking at the rascal as a straight line. Love with each other, with any given situation, sometimes starts with simply accepting this premise, with dropping our expectations for what’s next and being available to the flood of life force in the present moment. Infinity is here, but I tend to look away toward one minute from now.
Life happens too fast for you to ever think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.
~ Kurt Vonnegut
Heresy! What about the unexamined life? Yeah yeah, but what about a freedom inside the idea that we will never figure it out? Vonnegut is no stranger to the breakthrough idea. In Slaughterhouse Five, he kindly offers us a view of human beings from fourth-dimensional life forms. He claims they see us as a long thin thing, with an infant at one end, and an old crone at the other. How do you like that one?
Time is but a stream I go a-fishing in.
~ Thoreau
I see in this a note to take it easy, go lightly and enjoy. It reminds me to stay on the lookout for moments that really shine, but to look with ease, like going fishing (before that became an act of cruelty) or seeing an evening sky with my woman. The moments that might mean nada to my agenda-driven pattern brain today might be the moments I wind up writing to you about tomorrow.
Love knows not what time is.
~ Source Unknown
I love that, it makes me want to not know. Sometimes I’m over-enslaved, if that’s the word I’m after, to this brain, to thinking, to forming opinions. Meditation helps that, maybe I need to sit more.
Just because I’m so horribly conditioned to accept everybody else’s values, and just because I like applause and people to rave about me, doesn’t make it right. I’m ashamed of it. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.
~ J.D. Salinger, “Franny and Zooey”
I was listening to Esther Hicks this morning and she was talking about letting the opinions of others drive us. It is really the water I swim in sometimes. I want to be free of that, free from the tyranny of the peanut gallery, this coming year. If you never read another book, read Franny and Zooey. In fact, even if you do read other books. I’m serious.
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.
~J.R.R. Tolkien
This seems so appropriate right now: we have these choices. We have our intersections of available actions. What more could we ask of life? It is ours to choose, and every action defines us, right? Tolkein created one of the finest pieces of writing out there, and even as he gave each of his characters the gift of their individual choices, to us he bestowed the joy and sorrow of watching, and learning, from the consequences.
Now is the time to know that all that you do is sacred… Now is the time for you to deeply compute the impossibility that there is anything but grace.
~ Hafiz
God I love Hafiz.  If his life’s work were condensed in this quote, nothing would be lost. Hafiz is truly a distiller of divine energy, and there is no comment from me that could improve this sentiment. All we need do is bask in the grace. Hafiz will heal you. The Gift is the best poetry book ever for people like me, who hurt with wanting a life closer to the divine.
Not a month went by without the building of a new bowling alley; they were building them on every vacant lot, so many bowling alleys that it was horrible to ponder the meaning of it.
~Hunter S Thompson, “The Rum Diary
No justification exists for including this except that this happens to be the book I’m reading right now, and it simply made me laugh out loud. Maybe this: read. Read and then read another one. There’s something magic that happens when we stop and read—and it heals, really. Comment on this one if you read it, it is such a gem. Don’t worry, I know you won’t comment.
There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life.
~ Federico Fellini
That is the crux of it, isn’t it? We either love and rush into what life offers at any given moment, or we quake in fear, and cower. Passion, when applied, obfuscates all error. (That one is mine! I like it!)
Passion, when applied, obfuscates all error.
~ Karl Saliter
What I think Saliter is trying to say here is that all is forgiven, you are so beautiful, this incarnation is an unthinkably vast gift, and there is nothing wrong.  Let’s wear it like a loose cozy shirt this year, and throw that love all over the place.
Ed: Lynn H.

Revealed - the 'alien space cathedral' built in New Mexico desert by Tom Cruise’s Scientology church

  • Secret New Mexico base is built to withstand a nuclear attack
  • It reportedly holds the original texts of Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard
  • Scientologists reportedly believe in sinister extraterrestrial emperor Xenu
  • But church leaders routinely deny this or any talk of aliens
  • BBC reporter John Sweeney investigated site for new book 
By Daniel Miller

These giant symbols etched into the desert are a welcoming message to aliens from Tom Cruise's deeply secretive church of Scientology.
The religion, which believes a sinister extraterrestrial being called Xenu brought billions of people to earth in spaceships similar to DC8 airliners, operates a giant underground base hidden deep within the New Mexico desert.
BBC reporter John Sweeney, who famously clashed with Scientologists during a Panorama report in 2007, travelled to the site dubbed Scientology's 'alien space cathedral', to research a new book.
Welcome to earth: The huge symbol etched into the desert in New Mexico above the Scientology base dubbed the Alien Space Cathedral'
Welcome to earth: The huge symbol etched into the desert in New Mexico next to the Scientology base dubbed the 'alien space cathedral'
The strange symbols sit on top of a mountain in New Mexico where the church of Scientology has built an enormous underground bunker
The strange symbols sit on top of a rock formation in New Mexico where the church of Scientology has built an enormous underground bunker
Hidden some 30 miles from the nearest town, the base is reportedly home to a huge underground bunker, built in the 1980's and strong enough to withstand a nuclear holocaust.

Deep inside its vaults sealed within titanium caskets, are the original texts of founder L Ron Hubbard on gold discs - the religion's most sacred scriptures.
A report in the Sun newspaper tells how Sweeney visited the site, known as Trementina Base, and interviewed former members of the church of Scientology for the new book Church of Fear.
Mr Sweeney,who the church has previously described as 'a bigot, a liar and psychotic' said: 'I'd alway wanted to visit Trementina because when you go to the church they always deny this talk of Xenu and space aliens.
'When I spoke to Kirsty Alley and Juliette Lewis in 2007 and asked them 'who is Xenu?' they'd say "John, you're crazy".
'But if I'm wrong about the church believing in aliens, then why have they built these giant symbols in the middle of the desert that can only be seen from outer space?
'I think there is something very strange about a church which builds an enormous cathedral but then hides it away from everyone.
'What concerns me is that Scientology says it wants religious status in the UK. But our rules state religions must be open and honest about their beliefs and I think these are good rules.
'This place is physical proof that they do believe in aliens. I'd like to see Tom Cruise and John Travolta explain why they hide this from people.'
The symbols, which consist of two interlinking circles with diamonds in the centre, are reportedly there to guide Scientologists returning to earth after fleeing to outer space to escape armageddon.
Follower: Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise has been a Scientologist since the early 1990s
Scientology leader David Miscavige addresses the crowd during the opening of the Church of Scientology's new church in the City of London
Follower: Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise, left,  has been a Scientologist since the early 1990s and, right, Scientology leader David Miscavige,  addresses the crowd during the opening of  a new church in London
Mr Sweeney was accompanied by a former Scientologist Marc Headley, who claims to have been 'audited' by Cruise and then beaten up by the church’s leader David Miscavige - incidents which the church strongly deny.
After travelling many miles along a dirt road, the pair made it as far as a set of huge steel gates guarded by two security cameras, where they were turned away.
He writes: 'I press an intercom button. A voice says “Hello” in what sounds like a Scandinavian accent. I announce that I’m John Sweeney and ask nicely for a tour.
'We are not invited in and the intercom simply spouts white noise. We drive back to civilisation, wondering what kind of religion builds a space alien cathedral underground.'
The reporter claims he received two mysterious phone calls to his hotel room at 1am that night for which he believes Scientologists were responsible.
Mr Headley, who was brought up inside the church from the age of six, has written the book Blown For Good: Inside the Dark Curtain of Scientology.
In it he reveals how the church's E-meter devices, which are used to measure the static electric field around a person, cost just $40 to make but are sold for $4,000 (£2,400). And church leaders reccomend everyone should have two in case one breaks.
In a piece published in the Mail earlier this year Mr Sweeney recounted the incident in 2007 when he lost his temper at two Scientologists who had been trailing him across America.
BBC reporter John Sweeney famously clashed with Scientologists during a Panorama report in 2007
BBC reporter John Sweeney, who famously clashed with Scientologists during a Panorama report in 2007, travelled to the Trementina while researching a new book
He said: 'Five years ago, I spent weeks at the centre of the church’s attention. Private investigators who, I believe, were working for the church chased me around the streets of Los Angeles, invaded my hotel at midnight and put me under surveillance. Strangers spied on my wedding and knocked on the doors of my neighbours.
'In the end, I lost it on camera, doing a good impression of an exploding tomato.
'In the 21st century, everyone has a right to believe in anything, or nothing. But not everything that claims to be a religion is a religion. It could be, for example, a brain-washing cult.
'For a start, a religion must be honest about what it believes in. Scientologists believe in a space alien satan called Xenu — but if you ask them, their spokesmen deny it.'
Mailonline has contacted the church of Scientology's headquarters in London but they have so far declined to comment.
John Sweeney's book, The Church of Fear — Inside the Weird World of Scientology, is published on January 7 by Silvertail Books, paperback £12.99 and ebook £3.99.

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Happy New Year to one and all. 

Wishing everyone health, wealth and happiness this coming year.

Does Your Dog Always Make Everything Better No Matter What? {Photos} ~ Jennifer Spesia


I have gone through some seriously awful life “stuff” this year, and most of it has been over the last four months.

There have been days I haven’t wanted to get out of bed, let alone leave the house. There have been days I have honestly wondered if I’m even going to survive all of this.
But when I walk in the door and my dogs come charging at me, with toys in their mouths (gifts for my super exciting arrival!), tails wagging enthusiastically and kisses and love galore, it is absolutely impossible to be sad any longer.
When I walk in the door, they make me feel like my being there is, without a doubt, the very best thing that’s ever happened to them. The unconditional love only dogs (and kids, according to Mark Twain) can provide has the most magical healing powers.
In those moments when my heart is breaking and I wonder if it’s ever going to be okay again…my dogs are there, and they make everything better in a mere instant.

Do your dogs always make your day better too?

“Dogs never bite me. Just humans.” ~ Marilyn Monroe

Source: via Angel on Pinterest

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.” ~ Mark Twain

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” ~ Will Rogers

“I believe in integrity. Dogs have it. Humans are sometimes lacking it.” ~ Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer

“All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed.
For after all, he was only human. He wasn’t a dog.” ~ Charles Schulz

Source: via Tiffany on Pinterest

“If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” ~ Woodrow Wilson

Source: via KD on Pinterest

“Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made. ” ~ Roger Caras

“Some of our greatest historical and artistic treasures we place with curators in museums; others we take for walks.” ~ Roger Caras

Jennifer SpesiaJennifer Spesia will complete her PhD in Psychology in 2013 and currently lives and works in beautiful Fort Myers, Florida. Jennifer is a long-time student of Eastern spiritual traditions, a meditator, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa), a yoga-teacher-in-training, a human companion to two amazing dogs, a world traveler, a philosopher, a seeker and an eternal student.

‎"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain..." -Roy Batty
One of my favourite films of all time, must have seen it at least 8 times.
"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain..." -Roy Batty

2013: the first year of the rest of my life

by Paulo Coelho on December 31, 2012

No one can go back, but everyone can go forward.
And tomorrow, when the sun rises, all you have to say to yourselves is:
I am going to think of this day as the first day of my life.
I will look on the members of my family with surprise and amazement, glad to discover that they are by my side, silently sharing tha little understood thing called love.
I will pass a beggar, who will ask me for money.
I might give it to him or I might walk past thinking that he will only spend it on drink, and as I do, I will hear his insults and know that it is simply his way of communicating with me.
I will pass someone trying to destroy a bridge.
I might try to stop him or I might realise that he is doing it because he has no one waiting for him on the other side and this is his way of trying to fend off his own loneliness.
Instead of noting down things I’m unlikely to forget, I will write a poem.
Even if I have never written one before and even if I never do so again, I will at least know that I once had the courage to put my feelings into words.
I will keep smiling, because it pleases me to know that people think I am mad. My smile is my way of saying: ‘You can destroy my body, but not my soul.’
If it’s sunny tomorrow, I want to look at the sun properly for the first time.
If it’s cloudy, I want to watch to see in which direction the clouds are going. I always think that I don’t have time or don’t pay enough attention. Tomorrow, though, I will concentrate on the direction taken by the clouds or on the sun’s rays and the shadows they create.
Above my head exists a sky about which all humanity, over thousands of years, has woven a series of reasonable explanations.
Well, I will forget everything I learned about the stars and they will be transformed once more into angels or children or whatever I feel like believing at that moment.
For the first time, I will smile without feeling guilty, because joy is not a sin.
For the first time, I will avoid anything that makes me suffer, because suffering is not a virtue.
I am living this day as if it were my first and, while it lasts, I will discover things that I did not even know were there.
Even though I have walked past the same places countless times before and said ‘Good morning’ to the same people, today’s ‘Good morning’ will be different. It will not be a mere polite formula, but a form of blessing.
And if I’m alone when the night falls, I will go over to window, look up at the sky and feel certain that loneliness is a lie, because the Universe is there to keep me company.
And then I will have lived each hour of my day as if it were a constant surprise to me, to this ‘I’, who was not created by my father or my mother or by school, but by everything I have experienced up until now, and which I suddenly forgot in order to discover it all anew.
And even if this is to be my last day on Earth, I will enjoy it to the full, because I will live it with the innocence of a child, as if I were doing everything for the first time.

Interesting information

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Full Moon 28th December 2012, last of the year

January 2013 Horoscope for Food Lovers

Astrologer Rebecca Gordon offers monthly readings—and recipes for results
Food Horoscopes

Capricorn Horoscope Sign


(December 22–January 19)
A grand lineup of stars in Capricorn suggests it's time to reevaluate the old M.O.'s in favor of new and more purposeful routines. The theme now is restructuring, and your sun sign, Capricorn, rules the bones and teeth (body structure). Indulge in calcium-rich foods such as fish, bok choy, and turnip greens to strengthen your body as well as reinforce your inner purpose as you rebuild from a place of integrity. As your planetary ruler, Saturn sends a helping hand near January 17. Dinner with an old pal or mentor will bring sound insight to your ears, so take time to reconnect and listen.
Recipe to try: Salmon Bulgogi with Bok Choy and Mushrooms

Aquarius Horoscope Sign


(January 20–February 18)
A full moon on January 27 will shine a bright light on your most intimate relationships as clarity and conviction replace any past uncertainties. Lucidity can be yours with a clean diet rich in manganese, a mineral that supports the brain and nervous system. Hazelnuts, pecans, and pine nuts are great sources. If your relationship seems to break down on this full moon, parting ways will ultimately be the best step for moving forward. An already-strong partnership will step through this threshold and become that much more. Single? Conversation will quickly turn to flirtation, so get out and mingle!
Recipe to try: Toasted Hazelnut Salad with Dried Cranberries and Hazelnut Vinaigrette

Pisces Horoscope Sign


(February 19–March 20)
You are known for your deep compassion and selfless giving, but you sometimes find yourself running on empty. Keep your body's immune system functioning smoothly with zinc-rich foods such as pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and salmon. As a new moon enlivens the social sector of your chart, you may consider connecting more with like-minded people—maybe through a humanitarian organization or a meet-up that will enrich and inspire you. New and dear friends will emerge from such a genuine experience. While Jupiter warms up the home sector of your chart, take advantage of these good vibes with cheer, candles, and good company.
Recipe to try: Pan-Seared Salmon with Pumpkin Seed-Cilantro Pesto

Aries Horoscope Sign


(March 21–April 19)
A mighty lineup of stars will crown your chart this month as all eyes turn to you and your bustling career. Out of work? Not for long, though you must refine your direction as well as your nutritional regimen. This kind of focus will be vital as you are on the precipice of a more expansive future, and foods high in folic acid such as asparagus and nuts are especially important. A new Moon on January 11 will swing open the doors to your professional dreams, although first you must crystallize your intentions. Business talks will go exceptionally well on January 4 as lucky Jupiter expands your scope of vision and action Mars propels you forward like a rocket.
Recipe to try: Roasted Asparagus with Brazil Nuts

Taurus Horoscope Sign


(April 20–May 20)
Being ruled by Venus, you are a natural-born connoisseur of gourmet delicacies, wine, music, and perfume. Mid-month, Venus will cozy up to an intense Pluto and Saturn, setting the stage for a serious wintery romance or even an exotic vacation. If staying local, dinner parties will be divine the weekend of January 18 while the moon passes through sensuous Taurus. Stimulate your sensual side (and digestive tract) with foods such as ginger and cayenne that are arousing as well as healthy.
Recipe to try: Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Gemini Horoscope Sign


(May 21–June 20)
Thanks to lucky Jupiter brightening up Gemini, you can strike gold with your mere optimism and intentionality. Since you're an air sign, it will be essential to stay down-to-earth, and root vegetables—especially those high in vitamins A and C, like carrots and parsnips—will help you stay grounded in reality and maintain perspective. The world is beginning to take you more seriously because you have begun to see yourself that way. Whether it's meeting a potential investor, going for a job, or applying for a grant, resources are nearby, so inquire with poise. The new moon of January 11 will swing open the doors of opportunity and by January 27, you will seal the deal. January 22 will be a prime day for meetings and innovations.
Recipe to try: Caramelized Spiced Carrots

Cancer Horoscope Sign


(June 21–July 22)
Life will sweeten as the planetary holding pattern that tied up home, relationship, and career will finally begin to dissolve. Although you have been through a lot, you have also become much wiser and stronger over the past few years. Cleansing, diuretic foods like parsley and celery will be a good complement to your current life station as you move forward, namely in the relationship sector. A new moon on January 11 heralds a new era of love for you. You have done much self-reflection and are more emotionally prepared than ever before. Sparks will fly January 19, a stellar date night. Already committed? Renew your vows with splendor.
Recipe to try: Apple and Celery Salad with Peanuts

Leo Horoscope Sign


(July 23–August 22)
Health and body will come first this month as the planets seem to be gathering restlessly in the daily routine sector of your chart. They are ready to move, so leap onto the mat, bicycle, or dance floor and enjoy it wholeheartedly. Begin a new nutritional regimen with healthy servings of seeds and citrus fruits to provide a fresh burst of energy. Wait until the new moon of January 11 to initiate your health resolutions, and witness your new healthy routine transform not only your body but your entire life.
Recipe to try: Clementine Jicama Salad

Virgo Horoscope Sign


(August 23–September 22)
You are by nature diligent and hardworking—you have no qualms about putting in the extra hours to ensure excellence. January, though, shouldn't be business as usual. In fact, there is an area of your chart that is blossoming: the love sector. Romance—even just the possibility of it—makes grownups giddy, so play up your youthfulness with foods high in monounsaturated fats and iron, such as Marcona almonds and avocados. Allow the heart to lead the way with the new moon on January 11. Attached? A romantic weekend getaway mid-month looks divine. Conversations will flow seamlessly and deeper connections can be made on January 6, 16, 17, and 25.
Recipe to try: Spiced Marcona Almonds

Libra Horoscope Sign


(September 23–October 22)
The foundations of your life—namely, your home and work space—may be in need of a little TLC or even a total 180. Luckily, Venus will sweep through the home sector of your chart to help you with all the right finishing touches and new additions. Whether you have outgrown your current place or are in need of a renovation that reflects the new and improved you, know that environmental upgrades bring professional growth. Incorporating root vegetables—sunchoke, turnip, and particularly burdock with its purifying and healing properties—into your diet will help you consider your foundations more thoughtfully. If you're on the lookout for a new home or addition, lucky days will be January 16 and 17.
Recipe to try: Sunchoke Soup with Pumpkin Seeds

Scorpio Horoscope Sign


(October 23–November 21)
You've garnered a few vital lessons on organization and authority—namely, how to yield power wisely—as your planetary ruler Pluto has picked up a few tricks from structured Saturn. The transition probably hasn't been easy and it's likely that you've taken on challenging responsibilities and are working many late nights. Eating fibrous foods such as kale, lentils, and sweet potatoes, drinking plenty of fresh water, and taking long walks will help you process all of life's monumental changes. All of your hard work will pay off with the promise of future rewards—a handshake, a contract, important meeting—by the full moon on January 27. You've certainly earned it!
Recipe to try: Red Lentils and Kale with Miso

Sagittarius Horoscope Sign


(November 22–December 21)
Your big ideas have been brewing for quite a while now and the time has come to give them wings to fly. Strengthening minerals found in sea veggies—kombu, kelp, wakame, arame—will help you power up for take-off this month. With a new moon illuminating your house of income and manifestation, you will now hold the power to transform a hobby into a small business or step up to a more lofty position at work. The stars indicate increased earnings along with a greater sense of fulfillment at the end of the day. Ask yourself what you really want, and define your true vision with clear intention the week of January 11.
Recipe to try: Seaweed Salad

Rebecca Gordon Astrologer
Rebecca Gordon is a Manhattan-based astrologer, columnist, and national presenter. As founder of the My Path Astrology School, she has practiced astrology for the past 15 years after an ongoing mentorship with world-renowned astrologist Susan Miller. Gordon is an active member and columnist for ISAR (International Society for Astrological Research). Her astrological services have been retained for events by Condé Nast Traveler, Diane Von Furstenberg, Sonia Rykiel, Laura Mercier, Benefit Cosmetics, Elle magazine, and ABC Television Network. Her practice in sharing astrology is mainly to connect people with their true essence of character and provide multi-dimensional life path guidance. For a list of upcoming events, visit Facebook.

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'I always suffered from OCD but my new dog has cured me': Gok Wan on how a pet changed his life

His condition forced him to select around 20 outfits every Sunday for the week ahead and some days he changed clothes five times
Gok Wan
Ear to ear: Gok and his bulldog Dolly
 Peeling off a looped grey ­cashmere scarf and tightly fitting blackroll neck, Gok Wan logs the details of his fifth outfit ofthe day on his computer.
He then takes out another ensemble from his colour co-ordinated wardrobe, ready for morning.
Tomorrow’s dark grey sheer-knit sweater and black skinny jeans have been selected to match his black Mercedes convertible – he wears mostly dark colours for this reason.
Such was the routine for 38-year-old Gok as he battled with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The condition forced him to select around 20 outfits every Sunday for the week ahead and some days he changed clothes five times.
Until a special lady came into his life – his French bulldog, Dolly Albertine Dishcloth.
Dolly is the unlikely saviour of the style guru, who believes she has helped cure his addiction to order by messing up his plush apartment.
“She’s changed my life,” he says, proudly. “I’ve learnt to relax.
"Dolly has really helped me – it’s amazing what she can do.
"Now there’s dog hair everywhere. I could never have done it years ago, it just wouldn’t have been an option.”
Previously, his disorder was not just a fashion fetish which saw him constantly changing outfits, it also prevented him letting friends visit him in his own home.
Leicester-born Gok says: “I suffered quite severely with it when I was younger.
"It was a labour of love, because even though I hated it, I sort of enjoyed being OCD.
“Hygiene was a massive problem. It was difficult to have people round because of causing mess, sitting on the sofa and stuff like that.
“I was also OCD with work. I’d find it hard to do a piece to camera and not get it right first time.
"I’d beat myself up if I went on a gameshow and I felt like I didn’t do a good job.
“I’ve got better, I have to say, thanks to Dolly.
"I’ve reduced my working hours during the day, and now I don’t feel like I’m letting anyone down if I don’t work as many hours as I possibly can.
“I’ve had to focus on the projects I’m doing. I try not to book ahead, whereas 18 months ago I was booked 18 months down the line.”
Gok Wan
Walkies: Dolly all dressed up
As thanks, he treats his pooch to epic levels of pampering.
He says: “She’s literally the most spoilt canine in the world.
"She’s got a doggy passport, a doggy wardrobe and more toys than I ever could imagine.
“Where I live, there is a dog boutique – every time I go for a walk I lose a few hundred quid.”
Born to English mother Myra, and Chinese father, chef John Tung Shing, Gok has previously credited an eagerness to provide for his parents as a driving force behind his ambitious nature.
The couple helped him through his struggle with obesity as a teenager, when Gok ballooned to 21 stone.
Dad John even joined him on food series Gok Cooks Chinese earlier this year.
And he often takes his parents to celebrity events, including the National Book Awards the evening prior to our chat.
“Can you hear my dad snoring in the background?” he giggles.
“Dolly’s snoring, too. It’s like a retirement home.”
Workaholic Gok releases an underwear line and a Specsavers range every year while producing four fashion collections for Sainsbury’s.
He also has a beauty range for Boots and continues to write books and host TV shows, with his most recent project adding dating advice to his CV.
At one point, he was doing 101 hours most weeks.
Gok Wan
Fashionable kid: Gok Wan in sunglasses aged 4
But his career suffered a setback this year after he slipped a disc while exercising in March.
After the first two discectomy operations, Gok suffered an inflamed nerve canal in his spine, leading to a further seven procedures.
The recovery period gave him a chance to reflect on his plans for the future.
He admits: “I had a few realisations. One, I’m not going to be as agile any more and also I have to take things easier.
"My work addiction has to take a bit of a slide. I can’t do as much as I used to, which is hard because I love working.
“That was why I got Dolly – to come home to something, or someone, and not be so much about work. I had a tendency to say ‘yes’ to everything.”
He has also decided to focus on his next goal – becoming a dad – setting a time limit of seven years to find the right man with whom to start a family.
“I desperately want to be a dad,” he says. “I definitely would like to have children before I’m 45.
"It feels like a good age. For the last four years, I decided I wasn’t going to have children. But over the last 12 months, I’ve had time to think.
“It’s something I want to do, but I’m worried about my fathering skills, being in the right relationship, and could I do it in the world that I’m in? Would it be feasible?”
He adds: “Being gay and having children – I know it would make headlines and people would want to discuss it and have an opinion.
"But it’s something I want to do, it’s just how I’m going to go about it.”
Gok Wan
Growing boy: Gok in 1985
And he believes it will be easier thanks to Elton John and David Furnish having surrogate two-year-old son Zachary.
He says: “What Elton and David did was incredible. It showed it was possible.
"It’s important same sex couples should absolutely have the same rights having children. An equal marriage bill needs to be passed.”
Coy Gok meanwhile, hints that Dolly is the closest thing he has to a partner: “I’ve got no room for a boy, I’ve got a woman in my life!”
Yet he dishes out dating advice in his new show.
In upcoming Channel 4 series, Gok’s Style Secrets, he becomes “wingman”, matchmaker and agony uncle for women in need of a dating overhaul.
But, he admits, he relies on his own friends to bag him a fella.
He says: “When it comes to me dating and flirting, I need my wingman.
"We all do it for our friends. If your friend likes someone in a bar you put in a good word.”
Unfortunately, Gok’s pals have a tough job of vetting his love interests.
“It’s hard when you’re famous – you have a different set of parameters,” he explains.
“Trust is a huge part. It’s a hectic world I live in. If I drag someone into it I want them to come into my world for me.”
Gok Wan's mum and dad
Parents: Gok Wan's mum and dad
And the fashionista is tight lipped about his love life.
He giggles: “It’s been a fun year! The moment I start discussing a person, it stops being so special. It’s just to make sure I keep that spice.
“I can never work it out when I’m in a relationship – let alone if I was trying to discuss it.”
However, he’s a lot better at dissecting other people’s love lives.
In the new series, he coaches women on dating etiquette as well as style.
Inevitably, he finds himself dishing out advice to his celeb pals, too.
He says: “It might be something as small as: ‘Shall I do up the button on my jacket?’ Jack Whitehall asked me that.
Gok Wan
Frock tactics: Model shows off Gok's range for Sainsbury's
“And Jimmy Carr said to me: ‘Do you want to come over for dinner? Or better still, come over and cook?’
"It’s weird, because if you had an accountant friend you wouldn’t meet them for a drink and ask for accountancy advice.”
Not that Gok minds – he chuckles, admitting he relishes the opportunity to swoop in and take over.
He says: “I feel really arrogant saying this, but it’s not difficult to take control of someone else’s life.
“The one thing I’ve learnt is before you entertain the idea of dating, you’ve got to understand who you are and what you want.”
For the moment, though, it’s Dolly who seems closer to finding love – as Gok’s started taking her on “doggy dates”.
“She gets calls from her friends Buffy and Vera,” he chuckles.
“We all go out on dates so the dogs can let off steam. It’s cute!”

A young child smiles as she pets a therapy dog in Newtown, Connecticut.
Libby, one of several golden retriever therapy dogs, visits with 2-year-old Lily Willinger of Newtown, Conn.
Photograph by David Goldman, AP
Amanda Fiegl
Published December 21, 2012
One boy confided in the gentle-faced golden retriever about exactly what happened in his classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School that day—which his parents said was more than he'd been able to share with them. A little girl who hadn't spoken since the shootings finally started talking to her mother again after petting one of the "comfort dogs." Groups of teenagers began to open up and discuss their fear and grief with each other as they sat on the floor together, all stroking the same animal.
The dogs are therapy dogs—professional comforters that were brought to Newtown, Connecticut, almost immediately after the horrific shootings on December 14 that left 20 young children and 6 staff members dead.
Tim Hetzner, leader of the Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) K9 Comfort Dogs team, traveled to Newtown with nine specially trained golden retrievers and their volunteer handlers from the Addison, Illinois-based group.
Using a local Lutheran church as their base, the K9 teams have spent the past few days visiting schools, churches, activity centers, and private homes in the community. They only go where they're invited and are careful to let people approach the dogs instead of vice versa, in case anyone is afraid of or allergic to the animals.
Counselors With Fur
The response to the dogs has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Hetzner.
"A lot of times, kids talk directly to the dog," he said. "They're kind of like counselors with fur. They have excellent listening skills, and they demonstrate unconditional love. They don't judge you or talk back."
The dogs are also used to reassure victims of natural disasters—most recently, Superstorm Sandy—and to brighten the days of nursing home patients. Hetzner said he got the idea after seeing how well students responded to therapy dogs in the wake of a 2008 school shooting at Northern Illinois University. Now, in addition to the core of 15 that make up LCC's K9 Comfort Dogs team, the group has deployed about 20 other dogs to be based in schools and churches that apply for them.
The human volunteers' main job is to make sure the dogs don't get burned out, which means taking a break to play ball or nap after about two hours of work. Although some handlers have a background in counseling or pastoral care, "the biggest part of their training is just learning to be quiet," Hetzner said.
"I think that's a common mistake people make in crisis situations—feeling obligated to give some sort of answer or advice, when really, those who are hurting just need to express themselves."
The Human-Canine Bond
Why does petting a dog make us feel better? It's not just because they're cute, says Brian Hare, director of Duke University's Canine Cognition Center.
The human-canine bond goes back thousands of years. Dogs descend from wolves and have been attracted to humans ever since we began living in settlements—a source of tasty garbage. That created an advantage for wolves to live near humans, and since it tended to be the less aggressive wolves that could do this more effectively, they essentially self-domesticated over time, according to Hare.
(Read more about the evolutionary history of dogs in the February 2012 National Geographic magazine cover story, "How To Build a Dog.")
Part of what makes dogs special is that they are one of the only species that does not generally exhibit xenophobia, meaning fear of strangers, says Hare.
"We've done research on this, and what we've found is that not only are most dogs totally not xenophobic, they're actually xenophilic—they love strangers!" Hare said. "That's one way in which you could say dogs are 'better' than people. We're not always that welcoming."
People also benefit from interacting with canines. Simply petting a dog can decrease levels of stress hormones, regulate breathing, and lower blood pressure. Research also has shown that petting releases oxytocin, a hormone associated with bonding and affection, in both the dog and the human.
Do Dogs Have Empathy?
In situations like the Newtown shootings, it makes a lot of sense that dogs would be an effective form of comfort, says psychologist Debbie Custance of Goldsmiths College, University of London.
"Dogs are social creatures that respond to us quite sensitively, and they seem to respond to our emotions," she said.
Custance recently led a study to see whether dogs demonstrated empathy. She asked volunteers to either pretend to cry, or just "hum in a weird way." Would the dogs notice the difference?
"The response was extraordinary," she said. Nearly all of the dogs came over to nuzzle or lick the crying person, whether it was the owner or a stranger, while they paid little attention when people were merely humming.
"We're not saying this is definitive evidence that dogs have empathy—but I can certainly understand why people would think they do, at least," Custance said.
Other animals can also be useful in what's known as "animal-assisted therapy." The national organization Pet Partners has 11,000 registered teams of volunteer handlers and animals that visit nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and victims of tragedy and disaster. Although most of the teams use dogs, some involve horses, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, and even barnyard animals like pigs and chickens.
The presence of an animal can help facilitate a discussion with human counselors or simply provide wordless emotional release, said Rachel Wright, director of Pet Partners' therapy animal program. The group plans to deploy several teams of therapy dogs to Newtown in the near future, working closely with agencies that are already present in the community, she said.
To some, the idea of sending a dog to a grieving person might seem too simplistic. But Custance says that very simplicity is part of what makes the connection between humans and canines so powerful.
"When humans show us affection, it's quite a complicated thing that involves expectations and judgments," she said. "But with a dog, it's a very uncomplicated, nonchallenging interaction with no consequences. And if you've been through a hard time, it's lovely to have that."

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