I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.
― Nathaniel Hawthorne
Note: This blog post is available as a podcast. You can 🎙 listen to it here. 🎙
That’s my girl. My sunshine. My Smile. My whole heaping heart.
When I am down, she lifts me. When I am frustrated she waits for me to become clear. When I am sad she feels it. When my boundaries are out of bounds, she reflects this back to me. When I need space, she gives it. When I grieve, she is near. When I need a nudge to get out of my own way, she gently pushes. When I am stuck in the muck of my mind she pulls me out of it.
We walk. We run. We explore. We laugh. We play. We let go.
She is a light in the dark. She is a rock when I need rest. She is unconditional love when I am forgetting to love. She is an angel disguised as a dog.
But most of all, she is my Joy.
I share this with you because we all need someone or something in our life who gives us these gifts. We all need moments of levity, laughter, and love … 24/7.
We need to remember there are beloveds by our side who are always holding space for our well-being. These beloveds – if we let them – can help our mental, emotional, and physical health, especially during these trying times.
The little conversation, well is over very soon
And I watch in admiration from my corner of the room
And they shine on you with starry eyes and they rain a friendly storm
Little Conversations and Invitations
It’s time we pay closer attention. If health concerns can be ruled out, there could be other conversations at hand. That persistent nudge; the constant chuffing; the incessant meowing; that annoying winning; the gentle tugging; those pleading soulful eyes … are all an invitation.
We often dismiss these behaviors or label them as irritating, annoying or distracting, but what if these behaviors attempting to get your attention are more than what they appear to be? What if sometimes they are an invitation to get up, move about, rethink, readjust, reevaluate, shift our energy, or get out of our own way? What if these behaviors were reflecting back to you, what you need in that very moment?
Sure, it could just be a singular desire or need our animal family members are exhibiting: Maybe he has to pee. Maybe she’s bored. Maybe he’s frustrated. Maybe she’s hungry. Maybe he wants the cake you left on the kitchen counter. Of course, these are all perfectly logical explanations for various behaviors. And if you read this post, then you know that pain is a very common medical issue that can create or exacerbate behavior problems in our animal companions.
But what if sometimes, it’s also you, their guardian?
What if our furry, feathered, and scaly friends and family members are more in tune with us than we can possibly imagine? What if they can read us like an open book? What if our behavior, emotions, and energy are a beacon to them? What if our sh*tty mood is a shout-out? What if they instinctively and intuitively knew what we need in that moment? What if they truly wanted the best for us always?
If you knew this was true, how would you respond? What would you do? Would your choices be influenced? Would your behavior change? Would your emotions change?
It’s worth considering.
And it’s worth questioning everything. –Every thought. Every belief. Every emotion.
My Cherokee heritage teaches (much like some of the eastern philosophies) that nothing outside of us is separate from us. They believe that the world which appears to be outside is merely a mirror, reflecting back to us. It’s taken me years to even consider this as a possibility, but I am starting to see. I am questioning everything, and staying open with a curious mind. I invite you to stay open and stay curious too, especially when it comes to your critters. 😉
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. Never lose a holy curiosity.”
― Albert Einstein
All philosophy set aside, we have incredible beings by our side who are ready, willing, and able to pull us out of the swamps of sadness. We have loved ones who may annoy the crap out of us sometimes, but there is a method in the madness. The only thing we need to do is open the invitation we’ve been given. Just being willing to look at something from a different perspective can change our worlds. Our furry family members (and Mother Nature) have helped me to better recognize when I need to shift my mood, my mind, my thoughts, and my behavior. Sometimes I have to get pulled hard by them, dragging and screaming, but eventually I see clearly.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Other than the incredible colors of Autumn, like many people, I really dislike the time change. As the days get shorter and the long, dark nights of late fall and winter settle in, many folks find their mood getting darker, too. As someone who dealt with depression for two thirds of my life, I have incredible empathy for souls who get sad. And at this time of year we see more of it.
Did you know ….?
- Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
- Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide
- It’s a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
- More women are affected by depression than men.
- Over 16 million people in the U.S. (6.7 percent of the pop) experience more than one episode of major depression during a year.
- A further 5 percent live with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or seasonal depression.
The symptoms of SAD are so similar to those of depression that it can sometimes be hard to distinguish between the two. SAD, also known as winter blues, typically affects women. In fact, 4 in 5 people with the condition are women, and the reasons for this predisposition are likely to be genetic. However, while some people are genetically prone to the condition, they resist the environmental factors that might trigger it.
SAD is defined as a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter. Symptoms of the “Winter Pattern” of SAD include:
- Low energy
- Weight gain
- Craving for carbohydrates
- Social withdrawal (feel like “hibernating”)
I laughed out loud when I read those symptoms, because who doesn’t feel like that in the winter?!? Hell, I feel like that when the temp drops below 60! 😀 I mean, come on. Who wants to eat a carrot stick or bowl of broccoli when it’s cold and rainy?! And who doesn’t love to hibernate in the winter?!
All creatures want comfort when we are cold. We all want to feel good when we feel bad. And everyone has various methods for curing their ailments. The point is, it’s important to recognize when we are feeling down, and then do something about it. We gotta address the “down”.
Don’t Stay Stuck!
Wildfires, geopolitical insanity, and the fear-mongering the media sells, are all testing our resilience. But so can seasonal changes. Whether or not you’re affected by the weather, many are. So if we become aware of these seasonal challenges we can help others. There are four medical types of treatment for SAD:
- Light therapy
- Vitamin D
Those are the medical treatments, but there are other tools, too! I used to take meds (which helped), but I weaned myself off of it many years ago. Instead of the meds, I replaced big pharma by meditating twice a day, began to question my thoughts, went to Energy Medicine school, got into acupuncture, discovered tools for Empaths, began taking Clearing Baths, practiced more self care, discovered why alcohol made my depression worse, increased my exercise, played more, created art, laughed more, became kinder to myself, and made sure my “tribe” was tight.
Empaths feel things first, then think, which is the opposite of how most people function in our over-intellectualized society. – Dr. Judith Orloff
Even if you, your family member, coworkers, neighbors, or friends are not a HSP or an Empath, we all have emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental challenges. But we also have fabulously effective tools to Get Up and Get Out of our funk! If each person began practicing just one of those tools I listed above we’d feel better.
Here’s a helpful fact … Seasonal depression is caused by insufficient daylight, making the condition more widespread in countries that are farther from the Equator. A new study in Copenhagen, Denmark,has discovered the power of daylight as a natural antidepressant. (You can read the details in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology.)
Daylight is effectively a natural antidepressant. Like many drugs currently used against depression, more daylight prevents serotonin from being removed from the brain.
So what does that research quote tell you? To me, it says that one of the most powerful (free) tools/resources we have to feel better, stay healthy, and increase our mental and emotional health is something we have access to every day … the sun. We all need to be outside more. We all need to play more. We all need to soak up the sun’s healing rays.
I wish we all would. Everyone. Every day.
Thankfully, our beloved Hocus Pocus and Mr. Beaux don’t let a single day go by without going outside. -Even when it’s the last thing I want to do But after I do go outside and have an adventure with them (even when it’s cold-as-all-get-out), I am so damn happy that I did. I am so unbelievably grateful they pulled me away from work, or out of my comfort zone to get outside and play. My energy and mood shifts completely.
And because We Are One, so does theirs 😉
Below is a video I was inspired to create after I had been in a heavy funk. Hocus, as always, (and unlike no other) once again, pulled me out of the muck of my mind with her puppy-like persuasive ways and means …
All I needed was the love you gave
All I needed for another day
And all I ever knew
From Suffering to Joy
We all have natural healing tools available around the world. It’s quite true that “Nature Heals”. Our animal friends know this. Our bodies and brains crave daylight; this energy not only allows the body to release the “feel-good hormone”, serotonin, but walking outside during the day (even when it’s cold) will give you vital sun exposure.
And on an energetic level, it’s important to recognize that nature exists in a constant state of nonresistance. Mother Nature feels like home to many of us because her vibration is pure. 🌊 Our energy is most aligned to its highest and pure essence when we are immersed in nature. We are most grounded in nature. So are our animal friends.
They know this. They feel it, too.
But have you noticed that we also feel this way when we are in the presence of our animal companions? They are the embodiment of Unconditional Love!
Joy is our true state of being; all else is an illusion we’ve bought into. There’s nothing inherently “wrong” with this illusion, but is it how we really want to feel? Do we want to live life feeling down every day or do we want to be free?
I choose freedom.
I choose to remember that my beloveds want this for me, too. The ones we often take for granted are doing their best to help us. We can wake up from our funk when we start to realize that feeling joy, gratitude, and love, and being playful is our inherent nature. We can choose a new way of being every moment of the day.
We can get up and get outside. Right Now 😉
Be well. Be Kind. And be Good to each other. Stay open to miracles in the mind and remember to laugh and play, friends!
“She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.”
― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
“The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.” ― Alan Wilson Watts
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And in the infamous words of George Michael …
What’s there to think about, baby? … Gotta get up to get down