Big Hearts Offer Second Chances

Often we believe that to find our spiritual purpose in life, we must leave our worldly belongings behind and live like a disciple or monk. But, I have come across two women, a pottery sculptress and a restaurant owner, who have had a profound influence in their communities.

Annabella, current resident

This weekend, I visited the Goathouse Refuge, a non-profit, no-kill cat sanctuary in Pittsboro, North Carolina. The refuge is part of a 16-acre farm with a 3.5-acre fenced, wooded area where the cats roam free. A small red barn serves as the entrance to the cat sanctuary, and on the other side, goats graze and live.

When my family and I went for a visit, a volunteer who was eating her lunch in the small garden with a fishpond greeted us. She gladly closed her lunch and offered to give us a tour. She first showed us the special-needs room which had cages for cats that require extra attention or isolation. The next room was a screened play area, although the cats appeared to be lounging rather than playing.

Then, we went to the open area. Cats came out to greet us, and some followed us as we walked along the paths under the trees. I was impressed at how well the cats got along. For cats that don’t have a home, this refuge was certainly the next best thing!

Siglinda Scarpa

Siglinda Scarpa, an Italian pottery sculptress, started the Goathouse Refuge. It’s obvious that an artist owns this farm by the way the old branch fences are artistically placed and how nature is so beautifully incorporated with the living spaces. She has a gallery on-site as well.

When Siglinda Scarpa walked over to welcome me, I asked if she was the owner. She smiled and said, “I prefer to think of myself as the benefactor.”

The refuge has volunteer opportunities and welcomes people to visit the cats to keep them social and happy. If a cat happens to win someone’s heart, then of course, adoption is a welcomed celebration. I liked the fact that the Goathouse Refuge has an application process that includes a home visit before the cats are given a new home.

Another woman, Mildred Council, owner of Mama Dip’s restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina was featured in my local newspaper. For the past 30 years, she has hired inmates from the Orange Correctional Center, and more recently began hiring from the Durham Correctional. For some of these men, this is their first real job. These days it is difficult for most people to find a job, but for these inmates, it’s almost impossible.

Mildred Council is giving these inmates a second chance at life. One inmate that was interviewed, Leroy Rodgers said, “I love working here. It’s a good way of getting back into society and getting used to being around people. People here don’t look at you like an inmate; they look at you like you’re another person.”

I admire these women for giving back. They have shown that living a meaningful life can be found as a sculptress founding a cat refuge or a big-hearted restaurateur offering inmates a new beginning. Two ordinary lives that became bigger than life, because they let love guide their hearts.

“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.”
— from
The Alchemist

Blessed journeys!

Stepping Out of Time

Today, I read an article about Joey Shelton and his brother who stopped an attempted kidnapping of a young woman who was jogging. When Joey saw a man dragging a woman into a car during broad daylight, he thought to himself, “This is not going to happen!”

Then he and his brother selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to prevent what would have been a tragic outcome otherwise. Unfortunately, his selfless act resulted in a fractured and compressed discs in his back. But, perhaps even this has a purpose. Joey has been unemployed and uninsured for months. Perhaps a job offer is forthcoming? [Update: The hospital has agreed to waive the medical fees and help him apply for assistance, and the RBC bank fund has received a substantial amount of donations. In addition, Joey was given a key to the city!]


I also had an experience when I thought the same words: “This is not going to happen!” I was in my yard and believed my dog, Brownie, was with my husband and vice versa. When I saw my husband alone in the garage, we urgently began to look for him and spotted Brownie in the middle of the road. Two cars were speeding from both directions and neither seemed to have time to stop – even if they slammed on their brakes! I let out a primal scream and my mind raged, “No! This is not going to happen!”

In the midst of my anguish, time stood still. The cars that were approaching coasted, slowly, without struggle or the sound of slamming brakes to a complete stop as though they were riding on pillows. By the time the cars stopped, I had reached the road, although it was not physically possible to cover that distance in that amount of “time.” With the cars stopped and waiting, time resumed and I scooted Brownie out of the road.

I learned a lot from that episode. I learned that when we are truly in the moment and in touch with our higher selves, we have the power to control our lives. I learned that time is an illusion that can be stepped in and out of.

I know that when we are able to let go of this body and connect with our higher selves, we react and create perfectly. With no limitations — not even time and space can hold us back.

Blessed journeys!

What a difference a day makes

I am watching our new cat clean himself on my work desk. Only a few weeks ago, he was homeless, skinny and had an infected cat bite on his back. The first time we saw him, he was sitting in the rain by our front door. He greeted my kids and I as we arrived home just before dark.

Being given a home was a miracle for this cat. It made me think about the aspects of life that seem out of my reach. Aspects that could change instantaneously, tomorrow or next week.

My husband asked me a few weeks ago, “What’s your plan?” My answer of “I don’t have one,” didn’t go over well. But, frankly my plans haven’t been working so well these last few years. It really is time to let the Divine take control. It’s time for an effortless life that is in-sync with the universe, that involves having faith, being present in the moment and living fearlessly.

I look at the cat, who is now sleeping in the sun, and think “What a difference a day makes.”

Blessed journeys!

Ask and you shall receive (but will you accept it?)

PumpkinThe stray cat has officially been adopted by my family. We named him Pumpkin, in honor of the season and his orange coat. The abscess on his back has healed nicely, and he learned to use the litter box and is comfortable sleeping on the stairs.

There is a lesson in everything – even in a stray cat appearing. I had asked for a cat to appear the week before Pumpkin showed up at our doorstep, but when he appeared I wasn’t sure what to do with him. I feared cat urine on my carpets (which has not happened) and I feared my husband’s response at adding a third animal to our household. But mostly, I was disappointed that I let fear take away from what was really a beautiful occasion… a stray cat received a home, his wound was healed, my kids enjoyed showering him with love and attention, and I had a wish granted.

Blessed journeys!

‘The Cove’ exposes dolphin hunting

Well, it seems that I can’t even enjoy my lunch these days. I was reading the entertainment section of the newspaper when I read a movie review about the documentary, ‘The Cove.’  This movie exposes Japan’s practice of killing 23,000 dolphins each year by strategically maneuvering them into a cove to hide the killing. The director and crew placed secret cameras, some in the shape of rocks, to film the killing and offer proof.

I admired the courage of this movie crew and can only imagine the heartache at having to film and edit this footage. If you want more information, visit their website at

For those of you who read my post “Our Natural State,” you know that I will NOT be watching this movie. I just can’t take the heartache.