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  • Laguna Sunset sent in by Katelyn South

Laguna Sunset

I love sunsets but don't often have the time to simply enjoy them. I took this photo on a recent trip to Laguna Beach, CA. Special moments like these are so easily missed because of the business consuming our lives. This photo reminds me to stop every now and then to appreciate the natural beauty in the world. Katelyn South, Calgary, AB

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  • Best Buds.

Our Love Affair With Dogs

“Dogs have a way of finding people who need them…and filling an emptiness we didn't even know we had.” ~ Unknown Dogs love and accept us unconditionally. We are the center of their universe. All we have to do is show up and they’re ecstatic. Our family and friends, they may be happy to see us, but never that happy. Being adored so completely probably fills us up more than we realize. Dogs give so much and expect so little. And they buffer us from loneliness. Research has found that when humans and dogs look into each other’s eyes they both get a boost of oxytocin, the ‘feel good’ hormone, also known as the ‘love’ or ‘cuddle’ hormone. No wonder why we’re so bonded to each other! Dogs can bring out our playful side. Have us rolling in the grass, laughing our heads off. Acting silly and forgetting to make dinner. They can immerse in the present moment easier and quicker than any meditation class can. By just being their own silly selves we can be silly, too, and feel the tension of the world fall away. Our beautiful boy Leo who brought the "Leoshine" into our lives. He's been gone for seven years but we still miss him so much♡ Like so many of you, the love I have for my dog is immense and I can’t imagine life without her. What is it about our precious companions that make them so special to us? Extensive research only confirms what we already know firsthand. Dogs calm us down and being around them and petting them relaxes us. Their companionship brings us comfort and a sense of security. Walking them and taking them to the dog park makes us move more (which is good for our bodies), get outdoors more (which is good for our soul) and interact more with other people (which is good for our spirit). Perhaps it's the simplicity of it that binds us to them so strongly. Unlike many of our personal and professional relationships, we know exactly what it takes to make our canine companions happy, and it isn’t much - love, attention, food and exercise. Dogs are easy to please. I’ve always loved hearing stories from clients whose well-being is enhanced significantly by their pets. Sometimes I joke that the world needs more dogs and fewer human therapists but there’s definitely a part of me that believes this, too. Approximately 37% of Canadian households have at least one dog and about 30% have at least one cat. Homes all over the globe have furry friends, of course, but millions of companion animals still enter shelters each year and millions more are out on the street as strays. To the shelter care workers and advocates who dedicate so much time and love to animals, we are deeply grateful for the tremendous work you do! Holly lounging on the porch. Aside from being awesome companions, how about all the hard working dogs out there dedicated to helping humans in need? We’ve always relied on dogs to be our protectors but we call on them to do so much more, too. Their loyalty and work ethic is remarkable. There are guide dogs, hearing dogs, and service dogs specifically trained to assist people with autism, seizures, severe allergies, diabetes and mobility issues. Many dogs specialize in mental health support and help veterans recover from post-traumatic stress disorder, calm people with anxiety disorders, and remind others to take medication on time. There are police dogs, search and rescue dogs and military dogs, too. And finally, we have therapy dogs that provide comfort and affection to people in hospitals, retirement and nursing homes, schools, and disaster zones. What on earth would we do without dogs? A transformation takes place in people when a dog enters the room. Just watch the smile it brings as the joy bubbles over. There's a reason they're called man's best friend and we're so lucky to have them in our lives. Are you a dog lover, too? This month’s theme at Hope Café is dedicated to our furry friends and we welcome you to share your comments, stories and photos with us by: 1.     Commenting below. 2.     Following and commenting on our brand new Instagram page.   www.instagram.com/_hopecafe 3.     Liking and commenting on Facebook.   https://www.facebook.com/HopeCafeFix/ 4.     Submitting a photo. Email me at donna@hopecafe.net 5.     Submitting a story. Email me at donna@hopecafe.net Share this link with other dog lovers, too, by choosing your platform below! Yours, as always, in hope, Donna September, 2016 For more posts from the Inspiration Station click here.          Donna Sales is a Registered Psychologist and writer living in Calgary, Canada. Her website is www.donnasales.ca. She is the founder of Hope Café.

Inspiration Station|
  • Spinach Phyllo Rolls

Oven Roasted Lemon Herb Potatoes

These little gems are a real crowd pleaser. I took them to our first annual block party last year and they were back by popular demand again this year. When enjoyed fresh from the oven, they're simply irresistible - slightly crisp on the outside and creamy and steaming hot on the inside. And lucky you because the cook always gets the first one! These potatoes not only make a great accompaniment to any meal but are also terrific served with brunch or as an appetizer. If you don't have baby potatoes, simply cut up big ones and follow the same recipe below. Soft (room temperature) butter for greasing the baking dish One bag of baby red potatoes, about 680 grams or 1.5 lbs ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil ¼ cup lemon juice 1½ tsp salt 1 tsp pepper 2 tsp dried oregano* 2 tsp dried rosemary* 6 garlic cloves (optional). * If you use fresh herbs instead of dried, use a lot more (at least three times as much) and add at the half way point, along with the garlic. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously butter your favourite baking dish. Mix together all ingredients, except for the garlic, and pour into baking dish. Be sure to scrape the bowl so none of the yumminess gets left behind. Loosely lay a piece of aluminum foil over top and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and add the garlic cloves if you are including them. Stir everything together very well, coating the potatoes thoroughly. Return to the oven for another 30 minutes, uncovered. Remove from the oven and turn over the potatoes again, mixing very well. Serve immediately if you can. *meat free *gluten free *dairy free Recipe by Donna Sales from the Hope Café Kitchen. 

  • The Path

I’m learning

I'm learning that the path to greatness is not an easy one. We struggle constantly with the ebb and flow of emotion and willpower, strength and weakness. But in the end it doesn't matter how we get to where we're going. What matters is that we tried. Nicole Cuillierrier of Victoria, B.C.  Photo taken in the Okanagan, B.C.

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  • Boots and Paws

Boots and paws

Hiking on the weekends is my time to decompress and restore. The stress and business of the workweek falls away and the beauty and simplicity of nature fills me up again. This hiking day at Sentinel Pass near Banff, AB was spectacular. I took this shot as I kicked back, enjoying the view of Larch Valley, and my friend's dog Gavin was taking it all in, too. It's times like these that make me feel so fortunate to have the Rocky Mountains in my backyard. In nature I can just be, no pressures or expectations, and these experiences replenish me right to my soul like nothing else can. Natasha

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  • Two Gentlemen of Barcelona

‘Gentle men’ of Barcelona

My daughter and I were visiting Barcelona last fall and on a walk back from Parc Guell I had to stop to take a photo of these two gentlemen. I first noticed them when we descended the stairs you see at the end of the street. The man on the left is taking the man on the right for a walk, the hospital is just around the corner so he is getting him some fresh air and exercise. There was something about his patience and attentiveness that really got me, a tenderness that touched me really deeply. I wonder if it stirs up something inside me with missing my mom who passed away a couple years ago and the fresh air and exercise I tried to get her, too, when she wasn't well. This is a powerful image for me that warms my heart. Donna Sales, Calgary, AB

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  • Butterfly of Hope

Hope Gives Me Strength

What is hope to me? If you had asked me a year and a half ago I wouldn’t have known how to respond exactly, but since then I have been through things I never thought I would go through in a million years. Now I have a better idea what hope means to me. […]

Readers Stories Short|
  • Rose in Bloom

Breaking the Complaining Habit

Do you ever think about what comes out of your mouth and the impact it may have – primarily on yourself ?  I guess I did not when I was in one of my negative phases. I was with a friend on a short ski trip to Montana. On our drive back to Canada, we stopped in Coeur d’Alene.  My friend’s demeanor changed quite a bit and I couldn’t figure out what was going on with him but after the stop at Coeur d’Alene, he got pretty nasty and made some comment about me complaining. […]

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  • Here Comes the Sun

Changed, but not ruined…

“I had been an artist my whole life – spending much of my childhood imagining, drawing and creating art with whatever tools presented themselves to me. But art was not a viable career when I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. Especially not in my small rural town and especially not for a young woman. The only real choices in my world were to be a wife right out of high school, a teacher or a nurse. I chose nursing. […]

Readers Stories Grande|
  • Hope Grows Everywhere

Live for Today, Hope for Tomorrow

We were 28 years old – the age one thinks about getting married, travelling the world or advancing career, when our lives changed. Devon was a healthy, retired pro-athlete who purchased his first home the year prior. We had been dating a year and a half and talking about getting engaged. Life was wonderful and exactly where we both wanted to be […]

Readers Stories Short|