Christmas Cheer From A Slightly Different Viewpoint

My assignment began as many others had in the past: make an announcement to the appropriate people at the appropriate time. While the recipients were simple, ordinary kinsman, this was no ordinary assignment, and this was no ordinary time. The enemy was near.

I never doubted the plan, but as I drew my sword and looked toward the Special One, I wondered, “Why him?”

I tenderly held him and nuzzled his nose. It was strange to see such form for the Creator of the Universe. How would the world understand this? Yet the plan was to go forth, and it was my responsibility to see that nothing stood in the way.

I enveloped my massive arms around the small baby and wielded my mighty sword.

“Not just yet,” were the words from the Father.

As I lowered my arm a bit, I watched the young couple slowly, cautiously travel across the miles. The emptiness of the journey seemed unfitting for my King. This young woman, to whom I appeared months earlier, carried a heaviness that echoed throughout the land. Oh, her need for release wailed as the couple settled into the dingy, smelly stable.

“Now!” commanded the Father.

I raised my fiery sword–for the battle would be intense as the enemy held nothing back in order to thwart the plan of God.

Through the intense pain of the final moments of our journey, we arrived. I knelt on one knee as I gently placed the Special One in the arms of young Joseph. When I released the small child, my heart cried out as I sensed what heaven would be like without his presence. As the stench of the surroundings filled the air, I remembered the stench of the world and its need for this Special One, this Savior.

I rose from my knee. In one swift movement, I towered over the quiet town of Bethlehem. With a thunderous clap, I summoned the heavenly host, and we swept through the town singing and shouting joyous praise.

“Hallelujah! The Savior is here!”

We reached across the sky, touching every star in the universe, haloing the brightest one of all. The display of lights danced in jubilant celebration for the world to see. Our voices carried throughout the tiny town of Bethlehem for all its residents to hear.

Then, my ear leaned toward the earth, waiting, and in a flash I shouted, “Halt!”

The length of my arms spread from one end of town to the other. Yet, the world was strangely silent, dark. No citizen stirred in Bethlehem. No one listened or heard. No one noticed the heavenly display.

I peered through the night. In the moonlit meadow and on the hillside I saw lowly shepherds still and on their knees. They looked up and questioned the wondrous sight they had just witnessed. I knew they had received the message. I moved closer as they cried out in fear and held their hands to their faces.

“Do not fear,” I proclaimed. “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the rest of the host became visible to the shepherds as we praised God and said, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

A streak of lightning flashed across the sky, and the angels departed. I stayed to watch from afar.

The shepherds turned to one another, “Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Their faithful obedience gave me hope for this plan, which mysteriously unfolded in a dark, apathetic world—a world whose inhabitants waited for a King to ride in with pomp and circumstance.

But the shepherds looked for hope in God’s special baby. They stood at the edge of the stable, amazed that it was as we had declared it would be. They saw the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, and they recognized him: My King, their King.

I nodded toward the Special One, a wee baby, and knew my assignment was complete. It was time for me to return to my post. For I am Gabriel who stands in the presence of God!

 

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We wish you a very merry and blessed Christmas!

Hit PAWS; Louie’s joy and gratitude

I wish I could capture the look on Louie’s face and his body language as we walk. I know I can snap a picture or even take a video, but neither would do his joy justice. You see, a picture, while it paints a thousand words, still does not truly capture the moment of pure bliss for my pup. He loves to walk and it is obvious. He loves to dig in the dirt, to greet people along the way, and breathe in new smells. I can tell it fills his heart with joy.

Other than a bit of time, it doesn’t cost me a cent to provide this joyful experience for Louie. I know he appreciates our walks just by his enthusiastic reaction to my picking up his leash.

Louie’s joy and gratitude cause me to hit the PAWS button and ask, how thankful am I for the simple pleasures in life? I am blessed with an awesome family that I love and who loves me. I live in a great country, and have wonderful friends, and can use the gifts God has given me. Rather than focusing on negative issues and problems, I choose to focus on joy! The first step in choosing happiness is to be thankful.

Studies have shown that people are happier and more joyful when they are grateful. The benefits of being grateful are nearly endless. People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. This week, take time to PAWS and remember all there is to be thankful for, especially the relationships and the simple things.

I am thankful for you! Thank you for being a faithful follower of my pup, Louie. As we wind down the year, we are hitting the pause button as we rebrand Louie’s Leadership Lesson. There will be more information after the first of the year.

God bless you and your family as you celebrate Thanksgiving. 

Contact me: danise@di-advisors.com

 

Love Like Louie Arrives in Style

Louie made his TV debut sharing the essential message of love, which is foundational in leadership. The characteristics of love are important for 8-12-year-olds to learn early. If children (and adults) could learn how to be loving people and not see others as objects–how different our world would be today. We believe this message is very powerful and necessary, now more than ever.

Click HERE  to view the interview and HERE to purchase Love Like Louie.

Thank you to everyone who has been so incredibly supportive during this journey! We are blessed! Now, let’s go impact the world and spread the message of love!

Love,

Danise, Evi, and Louie

The Green Room.

Everyone Could Use a Little Love Right Now…

And we believe Louie has just the LOVE the world needs.
What are we excited about? Take a look:
  1. Tuesday, Oct. 23, Love Like Louie makes its official debut. To kick off this exciting news, we are scheduled that morning (10/23) for an interview with WXIX, Channel 19 at approximately 10:10 AM. And YES! Louie will be there with me.
  2. The Love Like Louie paperback and kindle version will be available on Amazon!
  3. A press release announcing the news of Love Like Louie went out Monday (10/15) of this week. Click here to read the press release.
  4. You’re invited to our first book signing (see details below). We hope you can attend and celebrate with us.

Thank you for your continued love and support. We are excited to share this journey with you.

Danise, Evi, and Louie!  

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BOOK SIGNING EVENT
Meet The Authors

 

Where: Wyoming Fine Arts Center
322 Wyoming Avenue, Wyoming, OH 45215
The Paul Bartel Ballroom

When: Tuesday, October 30 from 5:30 – 7:00 PM (Come and go as you please or stay a while).

Why: Because we love you!

Details: The grandmother and granddaughter duo, Danise DiStasi and Evi Sobb, will be sharing the story behind the book Love Like Louie. Middle-grade children will relate to Emi, the main character, as Danise and Evi unfold the heartwarming tale of a girl and a lost dog and the character-do-over they both experience thanks to the power of love.

Light hors d’oeuvres will be served and books will be available to purchase.

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In the midst of joy…there is grief!

I could not let this blog go out without a tribute to a dear friend. Louie’s best friend, Mick, passed this weekend due to complications with a heart condition. Our hearts are broken and his mom is still processing life without Mick.

We have many fond memories but one, in particular, stands out. Mick, who had enough of Louie nipping at his legs, gave Lou a quick roll over on his back. Louie promptly turned to stand upright on all four but was clearly miffed. He snarled and pranced off, putting an end to playtime. By the next time he saw Mick, all was forgiven and they were quickly buddies again. Oh, that we would be so quick to forgive.

I could always tell when Louie saw “Mickers” outside. Louie would give several short quick barks in a row, reserved only for his friend, Mick, and it was their own sort of communication. I’d looked out and sure enough, Mick was outside. Often Mick would stand in our front yard looking for his pal, Louie.

Mick will be missed in our neighborhood, more than words could ever depict, and I am glad we had the time we did with him.  One thing is sure, Louie will forever miss his pal as he stares out the window wishing for one last romp in the backyard, and saddened he didn’t have a chance to say goodbye.

 

 

Are You a Safe Leader? Or Person For That Matter?

Yesterday, September 15, marked the fifth anniversary of my adoption of Louie, my rescue pup. While it feels like just yesterday he pranced into my life, many times I feel as though he has been with me for a lifetime. We both have experienced many lessons along the way.

The most important lesson has been about love—about being a loving person, not seeing others as objects, and walking out the characteristics of love: patience, kindness, trustworthiness…

Hand in hand with love is the need for safety. Louie needed to believe I was safe. And very much like love, safety is tough to get your arms around. But I dare say everyone reading this and those in your circle of influence need to feel love and to feel safe.

Many times in the quietness of the night, I will hear Louie in his bed having some sort of dream. Not his usual running, playing and jumping dream. These are disturbing, as though he is scared and he is whining. I know he is still sleeping, but I will whisper, “Lou, it’s OK! Mama’s here!”

Now he may not know what I am saying but the very sound of my voice calms him, and he is able to relax and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

While taking a long stroll and Louie prances along, he will look up at me and touch his mouth to my hand. I don’t profess to know what he is thinking, but I imagine it is his way of “holding hands” as we walk, just to be near and to know he is safe.

My oldest granddaughter, Evi, would be playing just a few feet from where I might have been working and rather than look up, she would call, “Nonna.” I learned after a few times that she didn’t want to show me anything, she didn’t really want anything in particular. She just wanted to know I was near which guaranteed her safety.

Many times I’ve thought of a very early childhood memory. I remember quietly walking into my parents’ bedroom while everyone in the home was fast asleep. Next to my mom’s side of the bed on the wooden floor was a little throw rug. I would lie down on the rug just to be close to her. Often my mom would turn on her side and her hand would drop over the edge of the bed. I took that as a sign it was time for us to hold hands, so I would reach up and hold her hand. Never mind that my father was a police officer and knew how to keep a community safe. Holding my mom’s hand brought immediate comfort and satisfied my need to feel safe. I cherish the memories of holding her hand as she grew older and it was my turn to make her feel safe.

Thinking through the many times I’ve kept Louie safe from harm gave me PAWS. How safe am I as a person? A leader? A friend? A parent? How safe are you? Are you someone that, when trouble arises, others know they can approach you and share from their heart without judgment or criticism or lessons? Is love your first response? Is listening with a sincere heart to really hear the other person your natural inclination? Perhaps not, but we can be intentional about how we listen. Being a safe person and providing an environment where others are able to be vulnerable and share from their heart takes discipline and wisdom. But we can all strive to be that safe person others need in times of crises and when life feels stuck.

Louie’s life has been transformed because I am a safe leader. My life has been transformed because safe people surround me. Be intentional this week to be that safe leader, and you will see lives impacted for the greater good.

 

 

 

Stay tuned for a very important announcement about our latest book,  Love Like Louie


Contact us

The Remnants of Bad Behavior

My granddaughter always corrects me when I say Louie is a bad dog. She says he is not a bad dog; he just has a few bad behaviors.

OK, I understand the change in wording. But honestly, Louie is making my life somewhat difficult.

Louie is a superstar when we walk around the neighborhood, when I take him to visit clients, or when he accompanies me to speeches and workshops. And those of you who have had him visit your business will be shocked by what I am about to say.

Louie still reacts strongly when people come into my home. Even though he is only 40 pounds, he is all muscle, and he has a huge mouth. His bark is very deep, and his growl is deeper, and he acts like he wants to kill you. Let’s be clear: Louie does not want you in my house. Don’t bring a dog into my house or even onto my driveway, because the hackles go up and the teeth come out. Yes, I am describing Louie, the same dog many of you believe is so sweet, the one with big brown eyes and an adorable face.

Now I know Louie well enough to know he’s not being mean but has some misguided notions that I need protection from friends of mine who come to visit. I appreciate that, but it can be quite a hassle to make him settle when I have company. And it would not be helpful to let his bad behavior continue and just ignore him.

Those friends brave enough to risk Louie’s wrath have learned to allow the time and needed discipline, knowing eventually he will settle down.

His bad behavior was front and center this past weekend when my sister-in-law came to Cincinnati for a reunion and stayed with us in our home. She came in Friday evening, texted me to let me know she had arrived, then knocked softly on the door. Complete mayhem broke out. I kept Louie in the kitchen behind a gate and paid little to no attention to him while we said our hellos. I did my usual routine of discipline and he settled pretty quickly. Then we let him join us. He sat right at my feet as Agnes and I visited, but the minute she moved, the loud barking began, and he tried to make her stay in her place. He must have some basset hound in him because his bark is so deep. His Corgi side tries to herd everyone in my house. And the beagle side? Well, let’s just say thank goodness for that silly funny beagle side of him.

By the next morning, he was sitting by her door, waiting patiently for her to come out. They had become fast friends, and by the time she left on Monday, he was very sad to see her go. I reflected on their relationship as compared to a human relationship.

Most people would write off Louie as a nuisance or would be fearful of him. They wouldn’t give him much hope of ever developing a relationship because, well, he’s just a bit abrasive. And when he startles my company with a very quick reaction to them, he is stepping out of line, and who needs that?

But Agnes persevered and overlooked Louie’s many quirky behaviors. She talked sweetly to him, and his low growls and loud basset barks subsided. The rest of my family has learned to love on him as well, making it a bit easier to have an Italian family who loves to get together—crazy dog and all.

How many people do we write off as a nuisance or are we fearful of because of their “bark”? Many times people may have a quirky behavior that’s different than what we’re used to, and yet, given time and love, they may be as warm and loving as Louie under his tough bravado act.

Is it easy to love people who seem unlovable at first? No, of course not. It’s hard to do and it takes time. But if someone is in your life, they have come across your path for a reason. Don’t waste time judging their quirkiness. Loving others is not an option; it is why you are on this
earth.

Now that Louie and Ag are BFFs, maybe he’ll be nicer to people coming into my home. I won’t count on it, though!

 

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Louie and I are taking a break over the summer to finish our work on a very special project. Click on the link below for a sneak peek and let us know what you think!

 

For more information on Love Like Louie email us at info@louieloves.me

 

 

The Cone of Shame and the Need to Adapt

In the last Louie’s Leadership blog, I shared the episode of Louie, my adopted pup, having surgery to remove a growth on his paw. It was a pretty quick decision, with some uncertainty about what the growth was and how he would handle the recuperation period.

He survived the surgery well, and the growth was a papilloma, a wart. The biggest issue we had was keeping him away from the stitches. Louie is like Houdini; he can get out of any bandage or covering that I put on him to prevent him from chewing on his paw. I was amazed at how many times I found his bandage on the floor somewhere.

LIFE’S ADJUSTMENTS

We came home with a very nice, pliable, see-through cone that was to be placed over his head to keep him from chewing his stitches. I was hesitant to use it because of the look he gave me when I tried to put it on him. First, it was a look of defiance (gee, I’ve never seen that one before), and then he’d look as though I was trying to kill him. And finally, I’d get the puppy dog big brown eyes that captured my heart the very first time I met him.

I attached his collar and slid the cone over his head, stating in a serious, parental tone, “This is for your own good, buddy.” He hated it! And he was mad at me. He decided the best thing he could do was trot out of the room and go to his happy place to look out the window and be away from me. Except he ran into the doorframe and stopped. He looked back at me with a look of “Are you kidding me?” Then he set himself back on track, maneuvered the cone to clear the doorframe, and walked out of the room.

Next, he hit the doorframe going into the room with a view. Again, he stopped, looked back at me, and shook his head. Again, he set himself back on track and maneuvered the cone so he could walk into the room, clearing the doorframe. I could hear him trying to jump up on the seat to look out the window, but because the cone got in the way, he fell back down. He tried again, missed again, and fell back down.

I resisted the urge to jump in and help. I knew he could do it; he just needed to adjust himself a bit to clear the seat. And so he did, finally, and then positioned himself as close to the window as possible so that everyone could see him and would feel sorry for him. And they did.

LESSONS LEARNED

I learned a few valuable leadership lessons thanks to the cone of shame:

  • As tough as it was for him to wear, it helped in the healing process.
  • In order to achieve a goal (look out the window), he had to make several adjustments and think outside the “cone.”
  • As a leader, you can’t always jump in to rescue someone. They have to learn things for themselves, as tough as it is to watch them fall.
  • Louie learned a few new things; like how to eat his food with the cone, even though he looked like a vacuum cleaner as he leaned over his bowl and inhaled.
  • He figured out pretty quickly that he was good at tipping the water bowl over.
  • There was no need for me to walk around calling the contraption on his head the cone of shame. Well, actually, that’s a lie—he hated it and no doubt, was ashamed to wear it!
  • The less opportunity he had to bother his stitches, the faster he healed and the longer the cone stayed off. For Louie, this meant that he felt better, and was back to taking walks and playing with his pals.

Louie soaked in the attention for as long as he could. As time passed and his stitches were removed, I realized the overarching lesson of this entire experience. While we must take time to heal from some of life’s tough lessons, deep down inside, we know we can adjust and adapt. And in that perseverance, we may actually learn to enjoy life more.

 

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Thank you, Eastside Rotary, for inviting us to speak to your fabulous members!

 

Every year, March 20, we celebrate Louie! While we’re not sure of his actual birthday, we decided the first day of spring was a perfect day to celebrate his new life! Louie is somewhere between 5-6 years of age. Celebrate with us and wish this little guy a happy birthday! Thank you!

 

 

Pause (PAWS) and Reflect

I envy my dog Louie’s ability to just be. As I watch him looking out the window, I often wonder whether he is looking for something in particular. Is he remembering the mole he dug out of the dirt in the backyard and thrashed it about until it was lifeless (witnessed by my granddaughter Evi)? Is he thinking of the many raccoons he has run up the tree? Or is he waiting for the deer to cross his path? They would be wise to choose another route! No matter what he may be thinking, he is perfectly content to hit the pause (PAWS) button on life and just be.

While Christmas is already upon us and soon we’ll be ringing in the New Year, I have to look back over 2017 and ask with astonishment, “What happened?” It’s not my typical thought, “Wow, this year went fast.” That is because this year was different.

On December 18, 2016, I had an accident and had to have surgery to repair a femur that was broken in two places and a full hip replacement. “Give yourself a year,” the surgeon said during a follow-up exam in which the details were extremely fuzzy. His prediction of a year to recover seemed to hit a nerve for me. No sooner were the words out of the surgeon’s mouth than I boldly shrugged and said, “Who needs a year? I’ll be fine!”

The process of recovery was grueling and I barely remember Christmas last year other than spending it at the home of my daughter and son-in-law with the two cutest nurses ever. But I did recover and was pleased with how well I was able to move around. It helped that it was a pretty mild winter last year so that I was able to get outside and walk.

Many were amazed at how well I recovered physically, including me. But I have to be honest; the incident literally and figuratively knocked me off my feet and knocked the wind out of me for almost the entire year. The surgeon was right: it would take every bit of a year. And over the months, I stopped to pause many times.

There’s a word in the Old Testament that I’ve grown to cherish over this past year: Selah. Although some debate the meaning, I’ve learned that its definition is “Pause and reflect on this.” While it may have been written centuries ago, it is still a good reminder for our world today to pause every now and then and reflect. Yet sometimes, we may need a little help hitting the pause button. I would say that my accident certainly helped me to pause and reflect on my life.

Of course, I would never wish such an injury on anyone, but I will admit that I am a better person for having gone through it. I enjoy life more, love more deeply, listen more emphatically, notice people in need more often, laugh more heartily, and celebrate more joyously.

And I am not the only one who has changed. I have seen a complete transformation in Louie over the past year. Because he’s had to slow down with me, he is more patient. I can tell he is more trusting of friends, he is more engaging when we visit schools and nursing homes. And he is even more loving and playful with Evi and Mea and houseguests.

I am grateful for a blessed life and—although I am not sure how this could ever be possible—I love God, even more, each day. And I am grateful for you too! Thank you for reading our Louie blog over the years. We are excited about some news we will be sharing in the first quarter of 2018, thanks to the many words of encouragement and feedback we have received from Louie’s followers. You’ll soon be the first to know.

In the meantime, during this wonderful season, do what Louie does—hit the PAWS button. And in doing so, be thankful for all the many things you have to be grateful for.

God bless you and your family! Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.

Is There A Dog In The House?

My adopted pup Louie and I had a phenomenal summer and hope you did as well. We were very busy and enjoyed many wonderful adventures with the alpha pups, Evi and Mea. We’re glad to be back, and while Louie may have been on summer break, we were never short on lessons. We are looking forward to sharing more of Louie’s wisdom (and shenanigans) with you over the next several months.

It has been four years almost to the day since I adopted Louie. The memory of our first few weeks together brings a smile to my face even now! We almost didn’t have a “first few weeks together” because of his challenging behaviors, but we pressed through.

When he first came to live with me, he would roam around my house, sniffing and whining. I wondered if he needed to go outside, so I would take him out, let him do his thing, and then bring him back in. A few minutes later, he would run upstairs and then downstairs, whining. “Again?” I thought to myself. “Does he have to go out again? What’s with this dog?” He whined constantly and seemed to be searching for something, anything, familiar to him.

Louie’s visit to the vet, Dr. Paul, for his first health checkup was interesting. Lou whined and shook with fear, but Dr. Paul compassionately continued. “He’s a pretty healthy pup. Any issues that you notice?”

“Yes! He whines! Incessantly! I’ll be working in my office and Louie will be checking out my home. He’ll pop into my office, look around, whine, and go back through the house, whining, whining, constantly whining.”

“Well,” said Dr. Paul, “don’t let him run loose through your home. When you’re not there, crate him, and when you are there, keep him close to you. But don’t let him run through your home.”

“Okay,” I thought, “that’s simple enough.” Because I work from home, I made a bed for him right under my desk and blocked the stairway to the upstairs level. I kept a close watch on him and interacted with him when I was able to do so. Amazingly, his whining and desire to roam around the house stopped, and the sighs and active dreams of a happy pup filled my office.

All Louie needed was a little watchful supervision. He needed to know I was close by. He needed to understand his boundaries and just how far he could safely explore without wandering too far away or getting lost.

Isn’t this just like those we lead? When they first engage with our organizations, we think we are doing them a favor by letting them “roam.” They spend their time “onboarding,” which is good. Yet, much of their time may be spent looking for anything that seems familiar to them, which could cause frustration. Like Louie, they just need a little watchful supervision. They need to know their leader is close by and available when needed. They need to understand their boundaries and that if they make a mistake, it’s OK because, hopefully, the problem is easy to rectify.

The fourth section of the LOUIE leadership model is “I” for investment. The time that I poured into helping Louie build trust and confidence and making him feel safe was an investment. It took some time, but the investment was worth every minute. Leader, you will never regret investing the necessary time and tools in your team to build trust and help them feel safe and to know they are valued.

As I type our first blog of this season, I have no idea where Louie is. He’s in my house but not under my feet. In fact, he is never under my feet these days. Many times, I stand by my front door, hands on my hips, loudly asking, “Is there a dog in the house?” No answer. “Any dog? Is there any dog in the house?” No answer. “Is there any dog in the house who would like to go for a walk?” With that, I hear the rumblings of four squatty little legs running to the front door from any one of his favorite places. He is either upstairs, looking out at his kingdom through the second story window, downstairs in his crate (voluntarily), or out on the deck, sunning himself.

I don’t recommend developing someone to “disappear” as Louie does. Based on The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Situational Leadership II program, you do want to invest the time to develop them to be a self-reliant achiever or peak performer. Louie has developed and progressed enough that he no longer needs my watchful supervision while we’re at home. He trusts that if anything changes, I’ll inform him. For now, he’s just fine—wherever he is!

DID SOMEONE SAY WALK?

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