Community//

Christine Hassing: “You do not have to paddle the oars so hard”

Certainly, one impact is in increasing awareness and understanding about the holistic healing impact service dogs have for those journeying with pain, trauma, sorrow, or despair (P.T.S.D). Another inspiration is that readers can find hope and resilience from the stories the twenty-three co-authors have graciously shared. Many years ago, a friend said to me that […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Certainly, one impact is in increasing awareness and understanding about the holistic healing impact service dogs have for those journeying with pain, trauma, sorrow, or despair (P.T.S.D). Another inspiration is that readers can find hope and resilience from the stories the twenty-three co-authors have graciously shared. Many years ago, a friend said to me that if I made a change in my life for the better based on a sorrowful story I had heard about, I was giving purpose to why that traumatic event had happened. He planted seeds of purpose and resilience in me; he inspired me to live a hope-filled life. I have not been able to look at the sufferings of life since with any eye other than how I can make it matter that it took place. The third impact is to foster a greater sense of listening. Pain, trauma, sorrow, despair, and grief are not topics we are comfortable talking about. The more we are not able to talk about them, the larger they grow. One of the hardest things to do is unconditionally listen without trying to fix and without our own perspectives and experiences entering conversations. Many of the co-authors share how their service dogs have given them what no human has been able to give. Unconditional acceptance of their stories. I think we can all learn from fur and cold noses how to grow in our ability to hear.


As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Christine Hassing, an author, mentor and inspirational speaker. She received her MA in Organization Leadership from Gonzaga University. She published “To the Moon and Back to Me: What I learned from Four Running Feet” in 2016 and “Hope Has a Cold Nose” in 2020. Hassing is a passionate advocate for holistic well-being, animals as healers, and the integration of pain, trauma, sorrow, despair, and grief into living a “hope-full” life. In addition to her healing life story writing, Hassing is also a self-employed mentor of transformational leadership tools and techniques for organizations and individuals. As a compassionate mentor, she is teaching individuals to find a centeredness in life, in their leadership, and within themselves. She resides with her husband in Bloomingdale, MI.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?

I can still remember being in my bedroom reading the last pages of Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. It was the first book I remember that moved me to tears in a way that my soul felt at home. At the age of ten or eleven, I did not yet have the wisdom of knowing that this book was opening my heart to hear an inner whisper calling this way. As Hope Has a Cold Nose (HHCN) was reaching its published state, I reflected on where it all began and thought perhaps it did not begin in a master’s course but actually began amidst the painted yellow walls of an adolescent bedroom forty-two years ago.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Oh gosh, given one of my many personal mantras is we only learn when it is a challenge, which mistake shall I highlight? (Said with a smile and a chuckle!) Perhaps you know the adage “haste makes waste”. I also like my personal mantra that there is always more than we initially see. To see and see again is applicable before a mistake is about to occur and is definitely applicable after in how you choose to respond once a mistake has been made.

I was in the final publication steps of Hope Has a Cold Nose when I attended a webinar on the power of endorsements to add credibility to one’s book. Though I was already fortunate to have one endorsement, I was fueled by the thought of finding another “famous” person who would whole-heartedly support the healing power of service dogs for those who journey with P.T.S.D. Within a short amount of time, I remembered a veteran — service dog story I had read and recounted that the story had contained names of individuals who supported service dogs as a healing modality. I had a limited amount of time to obtain an endorsement, and since eagerness sometimes sits in my driver’s seat over my patience, I hurriedly found three names. I went to the web sites of the three individuals to discern if my instinct said to contact all three or only one or two. I selected two. I crafted my heartfelt emails to each, focused on ensuring my message was sincere and respectful, and where I felt it was appropriate, empathetic. I tried to imagine what it might be like being in the other person’s shoes. I made sure my message included a few sentences acknowledging how difficult it must be for this person in their role given our current times. My mouse triumphantly clicked on Send.

Ah, and then there was that tiny — but annoyingly loud — inner voice a few hours later. Research more. Ok. Sure. Why not look for other articles or speeches in which these individuals provided endorsement. Wait, what is this? Uh oh! One of these individuals is not in the role I so empathetically acknowledged. Oh nooooo! It looks like there is much press about it, too. What do I do? What do I do? Oh, Christine, you should have researched more! Do I send a message explaining or apologizing? UGH!!! After my moment of reprimanding my haste, I decided to laugh it off and move on. After all, it was a sincere mistake. Granted, a hasty sincere one, but a sincere one none-the-less.

Which, speaking of sincerity. Lesson number three. Sincerity has a way of speaking volumes even if a couple of sentences show naivety. From my sincere, respectful, and empathetic email, I received a very gracious response from this individual’s assistant, and a few weeks later I received kind words endorsing HHCN.

Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?

Certainly, one impact is in increasing awareness and understanding about the holistic healing impact service dogs have for those journeying with pain, trauma, sorrow, or despair (P.T.S.D). Another inspiration is that readers can find hope and resilience from the stories the twenty-three co-authors have graciously shared. Many years ago, a friend said to me that if I made a change in my life for the better based on a sorrowful story I had heard about, I was giving purpose to why that traumatic event had happened. He planted seeds of purpose and resilience in me; he inspired me to live a hope-filled life. I have not been able to look at the sufferings of life since with any eye other than how I can make it matter that it took place. The third impact is to foster a greater sense of listening. Pain, trauma, sorrow, despair, and grief are not topics we are comfortable talking about. The more we are not able to talk about them, the larger they grow. One of the hardest things to do is unconditionally listen without trying to fix and without our own perspectives and experiences entering conversations. Many of the co-authors share how their service dogs have given them what no human has been able to give. Unconditional acceptance of their stories. I think we can all learn from fur and cold noses how to grow in our ability to hear.

Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

At the risk you will think I am giving a canned response if I say all of them, I am not able to single out a story. Each profoundly touched my heart and taught me something about myself and or about living life. Each for different reasons. I believe that what may move or inspire one reader will be different for another reader. I also believe that even if a reader is not a military veteran, there is an opportunity to read a story and see a mirror reflection, to be touched in a way that a reader thinks wow, me too. I know I did.

What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?

At the beginning of the book, I share how my path crossed with the first veteran service dog story for an assignment in a master’s program course called “Imagine, Create, and Lead”. The assignment was to create something we had not done before. Writing life stories was not new to me, for I had been volunteering at a local hospice writing end of life stories. What was new was writing a life story for someone who was not knowingly dying. This same individual had brothers and sisters who were dying. Twenty-two a day to suicide. That gripped me tightly to learn that twenty-two individuals felt the deepest sense of hopelessness when I feel the deepest sense of hope. We make it matter when… From there I think it is like the Rumi quote “What you seek is seeking you”. Fast forward to my capstone for graduation in which I needed to select a project that would demonstrate a compilation of all I had learned in the program and my plans for taking my leadership forward into the greater world. I listened to that inner voice that said Write a book.

Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

I have a dear friend who shared with me a saying they have in Hebrew that translated says “to save a life is to save the world”. Though I believe this book will touch many lives for the better, if I received no other feedback than the following words, the purpose of Hope Has a Cold Nose would be achieved. You have actually made a huge difference for me. There are things that I told you that I made myself not think of for way too long. Bringing them to the forefront in my mind has helped me to get through the day, each and every day. Your effort to bring PTSD to the front of people’s minds is so welcomed by all of us.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Recognizing and creating laws and regulations that see service dogs as a credible healing modality for those journeying with P.T.S.D. Skepticism still abounds and people are working hard on fact-based research to provide proof. Yet, time is of the essence given that the suicide rate is not decreasing and there are lengthy waiting lists for veterans to be able to receive trained service dogs. Funding for service dogs as a healing modality. I learned much from co-authors on their decreased need for or elimination of prescription medications once they received a service dog. My wish is that the funding put into traditional healing could be rerouted to support service dogs as an effective healing method. How is it said? We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect different results. If we continue to keep pain, trauma, sorrow, and despair from being listened to. If we continue to see that the only way to address pain, trauma, sorrow, and despair is through medications or other traditional well-meaning therapies. If we continue to hold on to how we have always historically thought about what it takes to help people heal emotionally, mentally, and physically. We may not only miss out on the opportunity to redirect our resources to where they can best meet the needs. We may not achieve the goal of reducing a loss of twenty-two lives per day to zero.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

To lead with and for and from the heart. I will use HHCN as my example. I felt called to write this book for a group of individuals who wished to increase awareness, who pray that the way they have communicated their stories will reach their brothers and sisters whose voice is growing fainter and fainter. And that it will find readers who will learn how they can support these brothers and sisters not to give up. I felt called to write HHCN with twenty-three co-authors. My hope is that I have been able to do so with empathy, compassion, dignity, honor, grace, and respect. My hope is I have done so from the heart.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1) Enjoy every step of the journey for you will never have the feelings of your “first” again. You may write other books, but there will only be a “first” time once. Be present with and enjoy each step of the journey you are traveling to what you dream or feel called to do no matter how hard it might get at times. Even if you decide to repeat something you achieved, you never experience again that first time you accomplished something you were not always sure you could do.

2) You do not have to paddle the oars so hard; the river’s current will lead you to the destination you wish to reach. We cannot always control the circumstances that cross our path, but we can always choose our responses. If it feels like we are having to push for something or paddle the oars against the current, it may be our sign to let go of trying to paddle upstream and then trust that we will be guided to where we are meant to be.

3) Listen to the feedback; only take what resonates and leave the rest. Everyone has input and expertise. Learn from, listen, and utilize what is beneficial to help you grow. Yet, you also have an intuition within you that you can trust. Someone else’s knowledge and experiences do not have to mean you are not on the right track if your intuition is telling you differently.

4) There may be many starfish to toss into the ocean; do not lose sight of the ones you were able to pick up and toss in. Perhaps you know the parable “The Starfish Story”. It can be easy to focus on what you need to do “more” of. Do not lose sight of the difference you make and the lives you impact right where you are with what you have right now.

5) If you think you are receiving a “no”, perhaps you need to look again at who is saying no. Often the resistance we perceive we are being met with is how our own eyes and ears are choosing to see and hear. We look for and listen for what we believe. What magnet are we using?

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Maya Angelou wrote: “When we cast our bread upon the waters, we can presume that someone downstream whose face we will never know will benefit from our action, as we who are downstream from another will profit from the grantor’s gift.” I have a perspective that we cast ripples into the world every day. I like this image. We stand on a shoreline with waves rolling against our feet and we see a stone. We pick it up and throw it into a body of water and we see how that stone creates a splash. That splash creates a ripple which creates a wave. That wave may roll across the sea reaching a shoreline on the other side. We cannot see that shore, yet the wave touches the toes of someone walking on that shore. And they smile. We may never know that person on the other shore, but perhaps they had first tossed a stone into the water where they stood and that is the waves that dance across our feet. Someone once told me that when we make a difference in someone else’s life, the impact is exponential times four because the person impacted tells four people, who each tell four people. And well, you get the idea. I like to reflect each day on what ripples are cascading through the world. And what splash have I started.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

If you read the beginning of “Dear Reader” in HHCN, you will recognize this is a hard question for me to answer. How to narrow it to one! {smile} Maria Shriver. Simply stated. She inspires me. She touches the world with her words by leading for, with, and from the heart. She dances gracefully between courage and vulnerability, confidence and humility, being a change agent and holding stillness to observe the change that wants to be born, and she embodies hope.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

If you visit www.ChristineHassing.com, you will find a link to subscribe to monthly communications via email. I can also be found on YouTube with weekly videos titled “Hope’s Spiral Staircase”. If you visit my webpage, you will also find social media links to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!


    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Community//

    “Resilience is a muscle.” With Majet Reyes

    by Penny Bauder, Founder of Green Kid Crafts
    Community//

    Filmmaker Eric Christiansen: “Change starts in the heart; We need society to rise up and tell their mental health stories”

    by Yitzi Weiner at Authority Magazine
    Rodion Kutsaev/Unsplash
    Well-Being//

    How to Live a More Spiritual Life

    by Lucille Zimmerman
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.