I Am a retired zoologist, professional animal behavior consultant, and published author. Enhancing the human-animal bond and supporting conservation are two of my greatest passions. I am also an Intuitive Empath and an Energy Healing Practitioner who utilizes Light Language for healing. Through blending science and spiritual truths, I enjoy inspiring, uplifting educating and unifying others. As my Cherokee heritage teaches, We Are One!
There is no world apart from what you wish, and herein lies your ultimate release. Change but your mind on what you want to see, and all the world must change accordingly. Ideas leave not their source.
How are you, bright Light?
I truly hope you and yours are doing well in all ways. I have been better. The past week or so has been hellahard. I don’t normally say life is hard; usually I find a more helpful way to describing what I am feeling, but it’s tough love time. Let’s cut through the crap shall we?
I have been creating hell on earth for myself.
I could blame circumstances, people, places, or events, but that is being a victim, of which I no longer see myself or anyone else these days. I am not a victim of the world I see. No one is. I have learned, through much trial and error, (and surprising success) that even as an Empath and Intuitive, there is nothing outside of myself that can cause me pain. Nothing. It is only my thoughts, beliefs, and emotions that can do this.
The present now remains the only time. Here in the present is the world set free. For as you let the past be lifted and release the future from your ancient fears, you find escape and give it to the world.
In every moment we are co-creating. With every thought we build our beliefs. With every feeling and emotion, we become convinced. We are constantly creating. But what are we consciously and subconsciously creating? What are we convincing ourselves? And from which part of our mind?
“Your thoughts determine what you see.” —ACIM
This is no trite statement; the Truth of this returns all power to the perceiver/thinker/observer. It brings the power back to us, and removes it from where we thought it was; outside of us.
Nothing outside ourselves can “save” us. This has been a huge lesson for me lately; something my Team has been trying to teach me for a long time. But now, through the triggers, I See. I am willing to change my thoughts, which have created false beliefs about so many things.
Most importantly, I am remembering that peace begins within.
Nothing outside of ourselves can truly give us lasting peace. This also means nothing outside of ourselves can disturb our peace of mind , unless we agree to it. Embracing this Truth, places you in charge of your universe. You have the power. Now.
What we are experiencing is not at cause of how we feel; thoughts are the source of what we experience. Continual Thoughts lead to beliefs. Emotions follow. Then with which teacher in the mind we choose to See will be reflected in our experience.
How we choose to See affects All.
I created the vlog (video below) a couple of months ago, mainly to remind myself. Then I forgot about it. Then, quite unexpectedly, ugly crud came up for me to clear. So the shadow work began. Again. As you probably know, there is no lightwork with out shadowwork. As we are ALL moving through these powerful, transformative energies, shining Light onto the shadows dispels the darkness. We see that there was nothing to fear.
Diving Deep Within Is a Game Changer.
Now that we are full swing into Pisces Season (lawd, help us all) many sensitives are experiencing the far-reaching effects in the collective energies at play. -Especially Empaths. We are also smack-dab in the middle of Mercury Retrograde (which I personally enjoy), giving us an opportunity to review, reset, and rewrite conditions all across our landscape.
Here’s a bit of astro backstory: Basically, the Sun visits a new zodiac sign every thirty days or so. During each “season” everyone feels the influence of the prevailing astrological energy. Those who are more sensitive to these shifts, such as Empaths and intuitives, can have a wild ride. The Pisces cycle lasts until March 20, assisting us to cultivate compassion and move forward with our most creative ideas. Pisces also governs the things we need to release.
If these concepts are new to you, they once were unfamiliar to me, too! But it’s not woo. I promise, you. The patterns within the universe, planets, and our star, the sun, are all at play in a major way. These energies affect All life – people, plants, pets, and every population on the planet.
So, I Am hoping this is helpful. May we all embrace the power of our Loving Mind, and become grateful and respectful for the Oneness of All.
We Are Truly All In This Together.
Love or Fear, Dear?
We have two core emotions that come in a myriad of forms: Love & Fear. One we made and one was Given. Each emotion we experience becomes a way of experiencing life and Seeing; two very different worlds arise from these two different sights.
Love or Fear are the voices/teachers/guides we all have the choice of listening to in our mind. We will know which one we have chosen, based on our attitude, feeling, thoughts, and subsequent behavior.
“Fear and love make or create, depending on whether the ego or The Spirit begets or inspires them, but they will return to the mind of the thinker and they will affect his/her total perception.”
This perception includes our concept of our Creator and our
We cannot appreciate any of Them if we regard Them
But we will appreciate all of Them if we regard Them All with
In Truth, we can love All only as One, but we can perceive it as fragmented. We see individual people, plants, and pets, but this conditioned perception of fragmentation is inaccurate. Perception is a mirror; not a fact. What we look upon is our current state of mind reflected outward. But here’s the empowering part: Anyone is free to change their mind, and all thoughts, emotions, and beliefs change with it. You have the power. Always, in all ways, beloved.
“To change our mind means we have changed the source of all ideas we think or ever thought or yet will think. We free ourselves from the past of what we thought before. We free the future from all ancient thoughts of seeking what we do not want to find. Your ability to direct your thinking as you choose is part of its power. If you do not believe you can do this you have denied the power of your thought.”
P.S. Don’t forget about the little ways we can change our perspective … Self Care is at the root of this. Something as seemingly simple as taking a catnap can give our mind and body the break it needs during a hectic day. Just ask any cat around the world. They know 😉
Hello friends! And Happy Almost March! Seriously, how are we nearly in March already?? Time really does fly when you are having fun, feeling love, and when you are in gratitude! I hope you are enjoying February and are ready for more amazing things to come in March.
If you haven’t seen it yet, Unconditional Love was the epicenter of our February Newsletter. I wish this story made the cut, but it just occurred so you’re getting the scoop here first. Although this post is also centered on love, we will switch gears a bit. This is a look into how we overcame a stressful situation by coming together as a team. It was fun to make. I hope you enjoy it. And I hope it’s helpful.
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ― Leo Buscaglia
Ok, let’s get to the nitty gritty of today’s post!
But first, I have some questions for you:
How do you feel about going to the veterinarian with your pets? How do your pets feel about going to the veterinarian? Do you dread it? Do you avoid going at all because it kind of sucks for everyone? Are your pets terrified at the sight of a cat kennel? Or do they dread seeing the door to the vet’s office? Where is your stress level when they are stressed?
Going to the veterinarian does not need to be a stressful experience. In fact, it should not be. Not only can going to the veterinarian be a positive experience for your pets, it should also be a positive experience for you as their guardian. Health challenges, routine checkups, and emergencies can be challenging to say the least, but they don’t have to be terrifying for anyone involved.
Both you and your pets can feel empowered together, in any situation.
The experience that each of you will have in any of these circumstances is directly linked to one another. Not only will your stress levels affect each other, but your attitude, responses and reactions are inexplicably linked. You may have separate physical bodies, but the emotions and energy between you are connected.
You are a team.
Today I was reminded of this in a very powerful way. I am incredibly grateful and inspired after what happened, which is why I’m sharing this with you! For the first time in what feels like forever, our family had a wonderful experience at the vet. I am not exaggerating when I say that it was by far the most positive experience I’ve ever had at a veterinarian’s office. I wish for everyone to have these kinds of experiences. And I wish that every animal companion had access to this kind of care.
Our companion animals are deserving of this and more.
I created a video describing a couple of aspects concerning this subject. I guess you could call it a Vlog (a video blog). But before you watch the video, it would be helpful if I gave you a bit of history about each of the animals that you will see in the video. It’s important to explain these aspects because with any animal companion in question, their individual history, individual temperaments, preferences, and personalities are all very important aspects to consider when it comes to creating conditions for compassionate animal care.
For the sake of time and to keep this short I will be brief about each of them.
Hocus Pocus is a 7-year-old Black-mouth cur with a history of reactivity towards very specific unfamiliar dogs and familiar cats who “creep into her canine space.” Over a year ago she was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism, and was immediately put on medication. Hocus’ reactivity to unfamiliar dogs, and the cats with whom she shares her home dramatically decreased. We have not had an indecent in reactivity in well over 8 months. With regards to people, Hocus’ trust and love of humans (of all ages and physical stages) knows no bounds. She is a true love bug when she is at her best.
“Mood swings and unexplained aggression can be caused by low thyroid.” – Shannon Wilkinson
Hocus’ overall experiences with veterinary offices (from my observation of her behavior) have been very positive over the past 6 years. During her first year of life she had one very aversive experience with an old school vet, concerning her ears. But thankfully, we have not had a repeat of that unkindness. I invest a lot of time and effort to build up Hocus’ confidence and to create lasting positive associations with the staff, the machinery, and the sight and scent of veterinary clinics everywhere we move.
The positive associations pay off profoundly.
Bred to Hunt!
Hocus‘ breed was designed to chase, hunt, and kill small mammals. Despite this inherent genetic predisposition, she became very bonded to our beloved King Albert the Grey. She remained by his side until his soul left his Earthly vessel. Since King Albert’s passing, Hocus has become very bonded to Beaux. She keeps a close eye on him on his walks, body blocking other dogs if they come closer than she would prefer 😉 She has now become exquisitely attuned to Mr. Beaux since the beginning of his seizures. She races to him when she hears any sudden noises that sound like the start of a seizure, and she alerts us whenever he appears to need help.
Hocus Pocus has become Beaux’s Guardian.
Mr. Beaux is a 19+ year old cat. He is considered geriatric at this age. Mr. Beaux has a history of extreme aggression that only manifests in a veterinarian clinic. This aggressive behavior stems from extreme fear.
Fear is the apprehension of a stimulus, object or event. Fear is a highly adaptive response, which is essential for survival. Fear manifests itself in many forms in all species. It’s not something, as their guardians, we are to judge, make wrong, or be embarrassed by. It’s quite natural. More importantly, as this post poignantly pointed out, the appropriate response to any fearful reaction should be compassionate, kind, and unconditionally loving.
Thankfully, the fear response can be changed in all species.
If you have read this past post, then you are aware of 4 common patterns of behavior in fearful animals: The four F’s (Flight, Fight, Freeze, Fiddle About). If you have not read it, I highly recommend it. As the article explains, the choice to F,F,F or F depends on the situation, but the tendency to choose one over the other also varies greatly with breed and species. Cats tend to choose to escape as their first response to fear. If they are unable to leave the situation, they often resort to fighting (becoming aggressive) as a means to escape.
When people, pets, and even plants, respond to stimuli in
their environment, there is a very complex range of potential reactions. The response is both specific to the stimulus
encountered, and to the situation. This will
depend on two very important factors:
The genetic influence on behavior. This influences the species and breed-specific behavioral responses that have become established over generations.
The individual aspect of behavior. This has been established through the process of learning and which reflects not only the individual’s innate response to specific stimuli, but also its unique experience.
Beaux, when given a choice, will flee in the presence of danger or a perceived threat. In the past, at veterinary offices who did not practice force free medical care, Mr. Beaux did not have the choice of fleeing. So being the incredible House Panther than he is, his next and most natural innate feline response was to fight.
He fought hard.
Fast forward to today: I don’t allow that bullshizzill to happen anymore, with any of our animal family members, in any situation.
I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better. ― Maya Angelou
I have learned to love my failures and mistakes. They have become my greatest learning opportunities. Miracles come from mastering the lessons of our mistakes. Now I teach others how to prevent these kinds of situations, how to be proactive with their pets, and how to create conditions that help everyone involved to feel safe, secure, and as peaceful as possible. We won’t go into all of those today. We will just focus on a couple of conditions that were very helpful for our family in this particular situation.
Recently, Mr. Beaux had a seizure. Thankfully, he hasn’t had one of these in many months prior to this recent event. The last time it occurred was when we were living in California. At that time, he was under the care of a feline only health practitioner who practiced fear free techniques. This incredible veterinarian was assisting all of our cats with various medical challenges at the time. Because of the techniques that this certified fear free clinic was providing our feline family members, Mr. Beaux was learning to trust veterinarians and technicians for the first time in a long time. And considering he and King Albert were senior cats, they were being seen every six months. It was all going splendidly.
But then we moved. Again.
So, the search for a new qualified kitty vet began. Again.
Wanting to maintain Mr. Beaux’s level of trust, (for not only me, but for strangers who provide medical care to him), I researched, interviewed, and scouted out the best possible medical care facility in the area we now live. They say the third times a charm. And well, that was certainly the case with this cat. Mr. Beaux was seen by two other veterinary clinics before I “broke up” with them and began taking our feline family members to this new veterinarian clinic.
We hit the jackpot.
At first, I was incredibly disappointed that there was no certified fear free all feline (cat only) veterinarians in this new area. Going to a mixed species clinic has not worked out for our family in the past, so we usually avoid them when we can. But this new mixed species clinic did not disappoint. It was a calm and respectful experience for both Mr. Beaux, and myself. The staff were absolutely amazing. They did not push him, and they let him set the pace. I knew we’d be returning, and happy to do so when the time came to do so.
Six months later it was time to return.
To my great delight and amused surprise, taking Mr. Beaux to a mixed species vet worked out in our favor again. This time, our dog, Hocus Pocus, was invited to come along with us, and it was a smashing success.
Life with your animal companion, Improved.™
Of course, every situation is unique. Each person and pet bring both their individual and collective history, fears, preferences, emotions, beliefs, and energy into each challenging situation. And of course, who we choose to come along as our trusted companion will have consequences. This is true for both people and pets! I would not bring along a friend who asks a million annoying questions while I am trying to stay focused and centered. I would not bring along a friend who has the slightest aversion to medical offices or who has a history of panic attacks. I am going to bring the most grounded, calm, and secure person.
Bonus points: Someone who can make me laugh 😉
The two images below are examples of beautiful souls who can not only make me laugh when I am mad or sad, but they are giant oak trees who help me to stay grounded. Kathleen and Hocus are two strong souls I call on anytime I need support.
Get yourself grounded and you can navigate even the stormiest roads in peace. ― S. Goodier
Personality and energy set aside, there are also important puzzle pieces at play that we need to know about to stay empowered, together as a team. Below this post are a few links that go into this, including why we use food as a tool. The point is, there are countless ways to empower each other. There are tried and true science-based methods. And there are trials by fire. But to stay empowered takes time, compassionate effort, and a bit of creativity.
That’s what we did today. And it worked.
Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things. –Thomas Merton
Questions to Consider
As the video alludes to, when it comes to creating empowering conditions, we want to consider:
What will be helpful?
What will be a hindrance?
What will empower?
What will be compassionate choices?
What will create more fear or frustration?
What will reduce fear?
What will enhance everyone’s confidence, peace of mind, and sense of security.
Asking these questions is critical if we want to create a Life with Our Animal companion, Improved.
Sometimes it’s helpful when we step back, reevaluate, take carefully calculated risks, and think outside of the proverbial pet box.
Canines In Kahootz
As we all know, there are no coincidences in life.
No less than an hour after we returned home from the vet,
our lovely mail person popped onto our porch, and began to share a similar
story. While petting Hocus she explained
how and why her family now brings her dog’s “BFF” with them to the vet, to help
her senior dog feel more secure. Before trying this unusual technique, she
could never get her whopping 100-pound Labrador through the front door, even
with food, compassion, and a lot of patience.
It took an entire team to force the dog into the vet, and the entire
time the dog was terrified, the people were stressed, and the staff were
strained. But when her best pup pal is
by her side, she struts right through the door, feeling confident and more
And the best part: Her pup chose to participate. No force needed.
Compassion is the wish to see others free from suffering. – The Dalai Lama
The Power of Choice
I am passionate about allowing all species of animals to have the power to choose in every circumstance. The ability to choose to participate or choose to walk away are choices that all living beings deserve the right to exercise. But what about our power to make choices as their guardians? We have the power to choose as well. And the choices we make affect their lives. Even the choices we make in our mind can have a powerful effect.
When a stressful event is on the horizon and you know that it’s going to affect your pets, you have choices to make. We have the power to choose to be in fear or to release those fears. Whether you choose to stay stressed, anxious, or worried is your choice. But what you choose will affect the experience and the outcome for all involved.
The success of your family and your animal companions during times of change depends upon you and how you choose to prepare, address, view, and react during, after, and before the event.
What has been your experience with taking your pets to the vet? How do you manage their stress levels? How do you manage yours? Do your pets go to a certified fear free clinic? Have you ever brought a friend or family member along with you? Was this helpful or not? Do you have a good relationship with your pets’ veterinarian? Do you trust the staff? Do your pets? If you could wave a magic wand concerning your pets medical care, what would you change? What would you create? What would they change? What would they choose?
Know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you. ― Neil deGrasse Tyson
So, this will be a new take on Love with a cool twist. This post is something I Am really passionate about. It’s empowering. And I promise, if you let it in, it will change your lives.
So grab your tea, water, or wine, invite your best fur friend for a cuddle sesh, and get comfy. It’s about to get Real.
🎙(Oh, if you are not a big reader, and if you’d prefer to listen to the written portion of this post as a podcast, you can listen here.)🎙
As an avid student of both philosophy and positive behavior modification, I understand and appreciate how challenging it can be to change the way we believe and think. As Empath and Intuitive, I also appreciate that how we feel is directly linked to what we are thinking and believing. It’s all connected. But sometimes, it’s a big annoying wheel of feels.
If you want to change your life, you must change your mind and change your brain … on purpose. -Bill Crawford
Change and the Three Brains
There is much more at play, beyond our emotions, when it comes to change. Neuroscience research has shown that we have three fully functioning “brains”. Check out this quote below:
Our head (cephalic) brain is best suited for creativity, logic, and problem solving. Our heart (cardiac) brain serves us best when accessed for passion and compassion. And our gut (enteric) brain is the source of courage and self-protection. The vagus nerve is the communication channel between the three brains. 90% of the brain signals traveling through the vagus nerve are traveling up; only 10% travel down!
How our thoughts and brain influence our lives is overlooked and greatly underappreciated. More importantly, how we can become more aware and influential of this process is essential if we want anything to be different.
It begins within.
The quote above sums up where we can start. All we need is a little willingness to change our mind about things. Regardless of the form: a reactive rover, a frustrating feline, a careless coworker, a nosy neighbor, a sassy sister, or bothersome brother – we can change how we perceive their behavior, and how we respond to them in every circumstance.
“For what you see, feel, hear and experience depends a good deal on where you are standing and also where your mind is.”
-C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew, Chronicles of Narnia
Years ago, I discovered both people and pets fall into one or two elemental groups: Fire, Earth, Air, Water, and Metal. Holistic health practitioners (for both people and pets) classify patients according to the five-element theory. This includes:
positive and negative behaviors
These can all be viewed in relation to the five elements. Usually there are one or two elements that are predominant in a pet or person. (There are links at the end of this post that go into this in detail.)
Our big grey bear of a cat was a Wood personality. Our dog is a combo of Earth and Wood, and I can be a combo of both wood and Fire. The emotion associated with the Wood element is anger. When anger predominates, one becomes easily upset and is unable to appropriately restrain their feelings. “Wood” get angry easily and are prone to physical reactions and shouting. These unstable emotions result in the uneven circulation of Qi (energy) and Blood, creating a generalized state of tension and stress.
The combination of combustible cats and canines created very heated moments in our house.
Compassion is a choice.
Some days I was less than unhelpful when it got heated. Being both a triple Sagittarius and a Fire Personality within the 5 Chinese elements, I tend to get “heated” quickly. When I am stressed, I can become overwhelmed wicked fast. When I am on my last nerve I can get triggered quickly. When I am at my worst, my temper could rival a volcano.
But on my best days, I am calm, collected, and can cruise through any crisis.
Thankfully, my best days are the majority these days. But I wasn’t always at my best. Before I began practicing what I call mind training, and keeping an open heart, I was reactive. My world was often overwhelming. My default was reacting.
Fear ran the show.
But as I promised in an earlier post, I have to be honest. Here’s the truth: My pendulum can swing wildly from unconditional love to oh-hell-no. On the days when I am maxed out emotionally and physically, I need my space. And I need peace and quiet. Period.
But I also need love.
Just like our animal companions, when we are at our worst, this is when we need kindness, unconditional love, self-care, and compassion. But in the moment – when we are feeling drained, pulled at, and impinged upon — we can become reactive to the ones we love most.
That’s when WE need LOVE the most.
When I say “we need love”, I am referring to bringing love into our awareness, and letting the Voice for Love run the show. – not the fearful ego. I call the ego “Drop Dead Fred”. Do you remember that character from the movie? He’s beyond obnoxious. And so is the monkey mind that tries to take over when we are tired.
Regardless of how much we are struggling in the moment, however fearful, frustrated, drained, strained, or upset we are, we have a choice. We don’t have to allow the ego to take the wheel and drive. We don’t have to become overwhelmed, upset, angry, irritated, or reactive to anyone or anything, including inanimate objects, strangers, or the ones we truly love.
We Can Choose Love.
Being An Extension of Love
There’s an empowering saying that I live by these days: We are either extending love or we are calling for love.
This is not limited to people. This goes for every living being and their behavior. I will talk more about this in the book, but for now, think of extending love as BEING an extension of what you consider LOVE to be. For me, it’s as simple as being kind and compassionate. Think of “calling for love” as anything other than that. A “Call for Love” can come in a myriad of forms; some of which are downright ugly and scary.
But here’s the kicker that’s easier said than done: Regardless of either form (calling for love, or extending love) the response should be love.
Now, clearly, I do not always remember this. And even sometimes when I do remember this, I still react. BADLY. In fact, there is one particular family member who I have the toughest time NOT reacting to … on. the. reg.
He is what I would call my greatest lesson in love. I call him that because he is teaching me, through all the ways I am triggered, that regardless of the form of his behavior, my response can be love.
When I choose to respond with love, it changes everything.
As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself. As you think of him you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.
– ACIM, Chapter 8: The Journey Back
Remembering this powerful Truth brings me into a state of higher awareness, compassion, and kindness. Remembering this allows me to step back and become the observer of what is occurring within my environment, rather than reacting. Remembering this brings me peace. When I am at peace, I can be peaceful and extend this peace outward. When I am at peace, I am kind with myself and others. The videos below describes what I am talking about.
When we really understand and appreciate the power of neural pathways and how they are created in the brain, we take our power back. We learn how to truly let go of unhelpful habitual behaviors, thoughts, and beliefs. When we appreciate the power of perception, we empower ourselves.
Thanks to neuroplasticity, the brain’s ever-changing potentials, anything is possible.
We can become conscious of what we focus on. We can become mindful of what we are mindful of. We can replace the negative with something positive. We can choose to re-frame it in our Mind.
When we are faced with everyday life situations, we have an opportunity to notice. There is always a very revealing way that we can begin to monitor our minds. We can do this with practical matters we find difficult or challenging.
What would happen if you could say, “I love you.” when someone is behaving completely bonkers. What if they were out of their mind and you could still think it silently. Imagine if, while your dog was reacting to something in his/her environment, you didn’t react, too. Imagine calmly saying to your canine companion, “I love you.”
Imagine the possibilities.
Imagine the miracles.
We can begin to watch how we respond when our family, ourselves, partner, friends, strangers, coworkers, or animal companions are stressed, stressing us out, or going through a crisis. During these trying times, our unconscious feelings will surface. When they do, we often project those fears out, unfortunately, onto everyone from strangers to the ones who love us with all that they are.
It’s important to never underestimate the depth of our unconscious fear of returning to the mind. It’s also important to become aware of our attraction to blaming outside circumstances (in whatever form they may be) for our inner condition. Regardless of their reactivity, or their behavior, we get to choose.
We always have the power to choose how we respond.
We can choose to react, or to observe. We can choose to listen to the voice for love, or the voice for fear. We can choose kindness and compassion, or we can choose to be critical. We can choose to extend love, or call for love.
Let’s consider choosing Love.
“The only path wide enough for us all is love.” ― Kamand Kojouri
But first, let’s begin by being loving and kind to ourselves; we cannot give to others what we do not have. It begins within. Our hearts and minds are One. If we want to give to others, in challenging times, we have to start with kindness and compassion with ourselves.
Over the decades, I have been down, broken, and fragmented by every pain imaginable. I have been at my lowest of lows and at my worst. But eventually I left the storm and shadows and returned to the light. I remembered that We Are One, and that at our core, we are Love.
Then the rainstorm came over me And I felt my spirit break I had lost all of my belief, you see And realized my mistake But time threw a prayer to me And all around me became still
I need love, love’s divine Please forgive me, now I see that I’ve been blind Give me love, love is what I need to help me know my name
Oh I, don’t bend, don’t break Show me how to live and promise me you won’t forsake ‘Cause love can help me know my name
Note: These videos were created during a very challenging time in our lives. Not only was a family member going through constant chemo, but in addition to my career, I was the primary caretaker for a geriatric feline family member who was struggling physically. He was a wood personality, and was on hospice care at home. All of these circumstances were emotionally and physically challenging for everyone in our family.
Choosing Love, kindness, and compassion was essential.
When it comes to being the guardian of an aging animal companion or family member with health complications, even the most loving people have their limits. The daily stresses and struggles our beloveds go through as they are aging can weigh on their caretakers, too. Acknowledging this is essential.
Have compassion for yourself. Practice Self Care while you are caring.
But Never forget this: No matter the challenge you are facing, there is always another way of seeing your circumstances. We are never a victim of circumstances. Life is flowing through us. We are One.
So then, the relationship of self to other is the complete realization that loving yourself is impossible without loving everything defined as other than yourself. ― Alan Wilson Watts
Oh, and before you go, take a listen to this oldie but goodie… “Just The Way You Are” by Billy Joel . It’s a beautiful reminder that we don’t need the ones we love to be anything but just the way they are. We shouldn’t need conditions to change to love them better. Loving them for all that they are is True Love. This is a love that is unconditional.
I ran from her initially; fearful of the love that called. Terrified of losing a timeless love again. Unable to let love in again. Blind. Unable to See.
Eventually I surrendered. I let Love in. I let love lead.
I couldn’t see I couldn’t hear Shut me off when you were near Like a cloud A dusty mirror Disappear, you disappear All of a sudden All alone I’m calling out I’m calling love’s gonna let me know –“Let Me Know”, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
She’s shown me worlds I never could have imagined. She’s challenged me in ways I never knew possible. She reflects back to me what I have yet to see within.
I am forever grateful.💝
Hocus is not unique in what she offers our family and the countless souls she encounters while she is here on Earth. Every one of our animal companions is a compassionate teacher in furry, feathered, or scaly suits. Every moment we have with them is a gift. Every emotion they invoke within us is a message.
But are we listening? Are we open to learning from them? Are we willing to go within? Are we willing to SEE clearly?
Yesterday was the anniversary of our beloved Hocus Pocus’ “Gotcha Day.” Coincidentally, it was also my Aunt’s birthday and the date of when her mother (my grandmother) was tortured and killed, then dumped on the side of the road for a small boy and his dog to later find.
A myriad of emotions. Among them, Joy and Gratitude Reigned. 👑
My grandmother is still with us. She is our guardian angel. Her tragic transition out of this world was only the beginning; a new life for her … for all of us. And I honestly believe that our grandmother, Dolores, had a divine hand in directing Hocus Pocus to us. There are no coincidences.
Even in tragedy there are miracles in the making. Rebirth. Life Reborn. Beginnings. Alchemy. Forgiveness. Awareness. Transformation. Insight. Healing. Spiritual Sight. Awakening. Love Waiting. ♾
No matter the illusion of form: birth, death, celebration, suffering; they are all invitations to remove the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence. They are calling you Home to Love. 🧡🖤💛💖 Love Is. ✨♾✨
For you could not control your joyous response to the call of love if you heard it, and the whole world you thought you made would vanish. —ACIM, chapter 13
As I mentioned above, yesterday was Hocus Pocus’ “Gotcha Day”, and we are still celebrating!!! If you haven’t heard of a Gotcha Day, it’s basically an adoption day/ the day your animal companion came into your life. So, for those of y’all who love cheesy videos, here ya go 😉
Love’s gonna let me know Like the day you took me home We counted every minute left to go My love’s gonna let you know – Let Me Know, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
And if you’d like to read an excerpt of a current book in the works, you can view “Love At First Sight … Not Quite” in the link below. It’s a short story about how Hocus Pocus found our family, and more importantly who really invited Hocus into our lives. I am forever grateful.
Hello Friends, and happy weekend! I hope this finds you and yours well in all ways as we are in full swing of winter. Here in the northeast we are preparing for a major winter storm, so this will be a (relatively) short post.
Let’s get to it! It’s Caturday! So let’s talk cats.
If you are fortunate to be the guardian of a feline, then you are blessed beyond measure. Being “owned” by a cat does have its benefits; albeit frustrations and confusions, too. But any confusion and frustrations are easily mitigated when we understand the WHY behind behaviors.
If you have been flowing with this blog for a while now, you know that house cats are:
If you have been paying attention, then you now know that all house cats need:
Proper, positive socialization to a variety of sights, sounds, and scents
Daily mental stimulation
Ability to exercise their natural instinct to hunt
Acceptable outlets for their natural behaviors
To feel safe in and around your home
Litter boxes that are spacious, clean, and the right fit for each feline’s lifestage
Appropriate and species-specific nutrition
Regular, species-specific veterinary care
Basic positive (fun) training time
Knowing all of this is only part of the pussycat puzzle. Innate Behaviors are often at the heart of these needs.
‘People have forgotten this truth,’ the fox said. ‘But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.’ ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
All in the Instincts!
Many of the behaviors we observe our feline family members displaying are closely controlled by genes. These behaviors are called innate behaviors. They are behaviors that are inborn; naturally occurring in all members of a species. Within each species, Innate behaviors are predictable. These behaviors can be performed in response to a cue (changing of the seasons, daylight, etc.) without prior experience /exposure to a particular cue.
Think of them as reflex responses/actions. Unlike behaviors such as learning to ride a bike, tie your shoe, or brush your teeth, Innate behaviors do not have to be learned or practiced.
Innate behaviors are instinctive.
They are controlled by genes and always occur in the same way.
Innate behaviors do not have to be learned or practiced.
Innate behaviors generally involve basic life functions, so it’s important that they be performed correctly.
These kinds of behaviors are also called instinctive behaviors. An instinct is the ability of an animal to perform a behavior the first time it is exposed to something that causes a response, within their body.
Our cat committee is currently creating a book for families that will discuss more of this in detail. But that’s the basics of what you need to now about today’s topic.
There is one innate behavior I would like to talk about today that really fascinates me about felines. And I really think you’ll enjoy it. It’s called Caching.
Have you ever noticed your cat trying to cover his/her food? All of our cats do it after they have finished eating if there is leftover food. Well, let’s be honest: Knox never leaves any food. -Pretty sure he’s a direct descent of Garfield.
Cats who cover their food are not unusual critters. Many more species do this behavior than most realize!
Critters Who Cache
Many animals practice the behavior of caching. Here are a few examples:
Caching behavior is the storage of food in locations hidden from the sight of both conspecifics (animals of the same or closely related species) and members of other species. For some species, the function of caching is to store food in times of surplus for times when food is less plentiful. However, there is evidence that some caching behavior is done to ripen the food. Foxes and squirrels tend to spread out their food in small caches (“scatter hoard”) so that, although one may be discovered by another animal, enough will remain.
Why Cats Cache
Cats are predators and prey. Cats who live in the wild, (feral cats, cougars, panthers, etc.) often attempt to bury uneaten food or cover a recently killed carcass. It’s believed wildcats do this to:
avoid attracting any predators to the area
attempt to not alert potential prey that a feline hunter is in the vicinity
Once the wildcat has eaten his/her fill of their prey, the cougar will cover their prey with substrate (grass, leaves, or other ground material) to protect it from spoiling or from being eaten by other animals. The cougar will usually remain in the area near his/her cache for several days, occasionally returning to feed on the carcass.
Bobcats will cover the remains of a large kill with debris such as snow, leaves, twigs or grass. The bobcat will revisit the carcass and eat again. Panthers will rake leaves and twigs over a carcass to hide the carcass from scavengers. This behavior is very common and is part of a natural and healthy wildcat. Check out these fascinating felines caching their food in the wild!
A Caching Cougar In
Below is a time-lapse video an adult female mountain lion
who has been followed by Panthera’s Teton Cougar Project. This cougar is in
northwest Wyoming, caching a mule deer she killed:
In winter, it’s common for cougars to lose access to at least half of every elk they kill. Cougars tend to feed on one side of an elk at a time, and by the time they are finished with one side, the other can be wedged beneath a solid layer of compressed snow and ice, and completely inaccessible. -Mark Elbroch, Teton Cougar Project
This is important to realize because it helps us understand the foraging ecology of cougars. Cougars need to kill a specific amount of meat to meet their energetic demands for living, but they kill much more than this. In summer, bears steal their kills, and in winter, cold weather and snow steal their food. Thus, cougars are often unable to consume all of what they kill, and so they must kill again more quickly. -Mark Elbroch
On Nov 2, 2015 a hunter spotted a cougar caching her prey:
Mountain lions typically cache their kills beneath a mound of snow but when temperatures drop precipitously at night, this behavior frequently backfires. Unlike foxes, coyotes, and wolves, cougars lack the strong feet and stout claws for intensive excavation. Thus, when snows become thick ice that hinders their ability to feed, cougars abandon their kills to hunt again.
Habitats Created from
Most people think of beavers as ecological engineers, building
dams, and creating new habitats from their creations, but a new study shows mountain lions modify their
environments in a similar way.
Unlike wolves, mountain lions leave large intact pieces of dead meat on
the landscape that draw lots of species that then distribute those nutrients
far and wide. It is so important to ecosystem health to maintain carrion on the
landscape which supports a huge diversity of wildlife through supplemental
feeding, through maintenance of invertebrate community. It just goes on and on.
– Mark Elbroch, the Director of the Puma Project
I love this video below.
It’s rare footage of a subadult female cougar. In the video she’s just waking from a long
nap, and is slightly disoriented … A bit
later she is caching the elk carcass she discovered and claimed as her own.
House Cats Who Cache
Caching behavior is also quite common in house cats. A lot of folks think this is because their cat doesn’t like the food, but in fact, it’s an innate behavior inherited from their ancestors.
Even the comfy couch cats who have never set paw outside retains this feline instinct. A feline’s natural instinct is to cover food from scavengers or potential threats that might be tracking the scent. Unlike their wild cousins and dogs, House Cats are not scavengers; they are both predator and prey, so they don’t bury their leftover food to consume later; with house cats, it’s for protective purposes. But because all cats are individuals within the species, the degree to which the cat attempts to hide/bury the food depends on the individual cat’s comfort level and concern for exposed uneaten food.
What Caching Behavior Looks Like In House Cats: The cat is burying something. The cat is pawing at the carpet, kitchen tile, or dragging her front paw on the floor around their food mat, puzzle feeder, or bowl. The cat may become so focused on burying the food that he/she pushes the food mat/plate around. Some cats may pull a blanket, tissue paper, or food mat over their leftovers, if these items are nearby.
House Cats Caching Food
In this short video you can see one of our feline family members covering his food, and how similar this behavior is to cougars:
Become the Observer of Behavior.
Frustrating felines, puzzling pussycats, and bewildering behaviors common in homes with house cats. But all behavior has roots. Either it’s learned or innate. Caching is just one example of how we so often misunderstand cats and mislabel cat behavior. We label the behavior, make it wrong, or make fun of it. But this particular caching behavior works for cats; it serves an important purpose. Once we begin to understand that all behavior serves a purpose, we gain a new perspective.
We gain compassion.
We know that wildcats and house cats are learning all the time. We can choose to learn as well. It’s up to us as stewards of Mother Earth, and guardians of house cats to learn how to show respect, better communicate with them, listen better to them, and to learn something new from them every day.
“Reality is always kinder than the stories we tell about it.” – Byron Katie
A Matter of Misperceptions
Cougars, like house cats, are often misunderstood. The video below is a rare and intimate glimpse into the family lives of America’s second-largest cats. The film debunks long-held perceptions of cougars as solitary, anti-social animals and reveals their social and caring side: This footage was gathered by the conservation group Teton Cougar Project, revealing a family who is playful, affectionate, and interdependent. The footage also shows that sometimes, adult female cougars adopt orphaned kittens that would otherwise perish.
It shows how behaviors are passed down from one generation to the next, how young kittens learn from interactions with their mother and siblings, exhibiting behaviors such as stalking, caching and sharing meals.
I invite you to watch this short film, “The Secret Life of Mountain Lions”:
Use your voice for kindness, your ears for compassion, your hands for charity, your mind for truth, and your heart for love.
I hope wherever you are, this finds you and yours at peace in all ways possible. As we release 2018 and welcome 2019 I offer you this blessing:
If I could lay before you the dearest gift this evening
It would be a time of no beginning and no end.
It would be life filled with good health and peace and inner joy that can only come from the Spirit.
You would quietly refine your thoughts and words so that you never draw to you anything but the finest.
You would rest deeply and breathe in sweet peace.
You would know the tremendous difference between the material and the spiritual – turning from anger and frustration to a safe haven of love.
You would always be the most loyal friend – not only to others but to yourSelf.
All the issues of life rise out of the heart – so this is a gift from heart to heart.
– A Cherokee Feast of Days by Joyce Sequichie
Below is a video I created a few years ago with that beautiful Cherokee blessing.
We are All setting aside 2018 and shifting into a New Year. As one chapter in life ends, another begins. Have you taken time out of your hectic holiday schedule to consider what this upcoming year has in store for our precious souls, and how you will create a new chapter???
Below are just a few of the questions that come to mind when I consider the new chapter that’s beginning for us all. In each question I’ve included my favorite inspirational videos or posts from the past few years. I hope you enJOY!
My husband’s stone, reflecting a sunset on the ocean
As we let go of 2018 and glide into 2019 …
Will this be a beautiful new beginning? – An ending to a complex chapter?
Will there be more joy and laughter? – An ending to shedding tears?
Will we know that with every thought and deed we Create ripple effects in unimaginable ways?
Will we lovingly release the past and graciously welcome the new?
I hope so.
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” (Little Gidding) ― T.S. Eliot
I am not one to dwell on the past. I rarely even glance a day behind me, but I do know that we can learn from the lessons that come through us; for the past challenges and future opportunities are lessons we can learn from now.
This year has been a blessing in innumerable ways. Many of these blessings are yet unrecognized, but they are there. It’s also been a challenge. As I look forward in gratitude to the new chapter, I am reminded of so much that family, friends, and countless communities have been moving through. But more importantly, I Am thankful for the tremendous healing and growth that have come from it. I am grateful for kindness, compassion, unity, and forgiveness.
We are All in this together.
We Are One.
On a more personal note, it’s been one helluva rollercoaster. I do love a wild ride, but I deeply miss someone whom we said goodbye to, so this video is near and dear to my heart. Although it highlights 2016, its message is still relevant today for many families with furry ones. I hope this speaks to your mind and heart; a reminder of what gratitude, empowerment, laughter, Joy, and Unconditional Love can bring.
This is a glimpse into what I feel our animal companions are thankful for:
“May Light always surround you; Hope kindle and rebound you. May your Hurts turn to Healing; Your Heart embrace Feeling. May Wounds become Wisdom; Every Kindness a Prism. May Laughter infect you; Your Passion resurrect you. May Goodness inspire your Deepest Desires. Through all that you Reach For, May your arms Never Tire.” ― D. Simone
May every moment of 2019 be filled with inexplicable peace.♥️
Watching the sun as it sets on the ending to 2018 and the beginning of 2019
Thanksgiving is almost here in the U.S. Some dread it; some can’t wait. We keep it low key, so I am grateful for that. Heck, we don’t even have a dining room table since the move, so this year should be interesting. Regardless of the set-up, some families have hectic holidays. That’s why it’s critical to plan and prepare … especially if you share a home with the furry, feathered, or scaly kind.
This short post is dedicated to those of you out there who could use a few tips for Thanksgiving to be less hectic and more harmonic.
In our household, 365 days a year, we do our best to help every animal to feel safe and secure. We continue to counter condition and desensitize animal to their individual perceived threats. We practice energy management. We strive to set them all up for success. We use toolsand techniques to ensure their perceived “threat level” is at zero. We respect boundaries, believe in consent, and factor in FUN!
But these are only pieces of the peaceful puzzle.
Creating safe boundaries is an essential key to creating peace and harmony in your home, especially during and after stressful holiday festivities. If you have children, guide them by showing them how to to respect the animal’s space or enclosure. Teach them to be mindful and respectful of each individual animal’s tolerance for noise and commotion. Ensure that our animal companions have their own safe bubble where they are free from being “loved on” (AKA being pestered). If you have family or friends visiting, remind them to give the animals space.
▪️How do you feel when a friend, family member or stranger touches you without your consent? ▪️How would you react if someone whom you’re sometimes uncomfortable with started stroking or rubbing on you without your permission? ▪️How would you feel if a stranger touched your face, or another area few go near?
🔸Many animal companions experience this daily. They tolerate the uninvited touches, the cuddling without consent, and the petting without permission. Imagine being an animal companion who experiences this multiple times a day every day, for years. Then consider how challenging that could be if you were an animal companion who has a underlying medical conditions, fears, and challenges with close-encounters.
Choice Matters, But There’s More to It.
If the animals choose to be around your guests, remember that the dog or cat may be excited to see newcomers, but in the next instant they very well could be more protective of things they consider “high value” such as bedding, treats, their people, and their food. Remember those stress hormones are in their system!
Also, if the animals in your home are not the best of buds, and they’re merely coexisting with one another, creating safe spaces for each animal and managing your home environment carefully is imperative. Give everyone ample safe space!
Being aware of each animal’s individual threshold, and their need for safe, quiet refuge after any kind of commotion is how we become conscious companions for the animals with which we share a home.
Despite what we often may think, animals are pretty complex creatures. They speak a different language than we do, they have quirks in their personalities that can make them quite unusual sometimes (like us humans) and they often display anxiety and discomfort in ways we don’t.
Over the years we have observed each animal in our home respond with a different type of reactivity to their individual perceived threats. The dog has been known to lunge and bark, freeze and growl, or retreat. Her response depended on what she felt threatened by, and by her individual stress/hormone levels at that moment.
Cortisol is an adrenal hormone with a great number of effects on the body. The level goes up or down quickly in response to stress.
Each of the cats has their own individual response, depending on the trigger at the time, and their individual stress hormone levels. You might recall one of your animals behaving this way when they are stressed. You might even recall doing this yourself!
That’s why we set everyone up for success!
Holiday Tips for Busy Families
Check out the video below (filled with bloopers). I made this video a couple of years ago (2016), but the points are timeless. This will give you some giggles, insight, and ideas on how you can prepare your entire family for a Thanksgiving Feast, and how to enjoy the Family Festivities in Harmony!
Remember to Laugh, But Focus on Prevention!
Although I included some silly bloopers in this video, the points I address are very important. Please consider the needs of everyone in your home. Please plan ahead and prepare. And remember that your energy and attitude is contagious!
P.S. Be sure to check out the articles and videos at the end of this post; all are related to what I discuss in this video!
“I am who I am today because of the mistakes I made yesterday.”
― The Prolific Penman
Becoming a Conscious Companion
If you are reading this, I can assume that you love the animals that you share your life with enough to be inspired or learn more to improve their lives. I encourage you to take that love and funnel it into educating yourself, and your family and friends about the basic behavior of the species that you work with, live with, and adore. Every day I challenge myself to learn something new about the animals I love and live with. I hope you do the same.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.