Feeling Down? Get UP!

 

I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.

― Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Hocus Pocus patiently waiting while I take her pic during our afternoon walk

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.

Especially now. 

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.

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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” by Concrete Blonde

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?

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What do you think Hocus is asking me here, while I am working in my office?

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?

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Mr. Beaux at my desk … What do you think he’s asking me?

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.

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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


New Perspective

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.

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Atreyu doing all he can do pull Artax, his beloved horse, out of the Swamps of Sadness

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.
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my husband and I might have had this exact conservation

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
  • Hypersomnia
  • Overeating
  • 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?!

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Hocus Pocus hibernating in our bed on a cold morning

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”.

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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:

  • Medication
  • Light therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • 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.

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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.

I promise.

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.

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soaking up the sun with my best girl pal

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
Only you

-Yaz


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

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Exploring the Redwood National and State Park with Hocus

 

“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


Recommended Reading:


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Explore More At Our Website!


And in the infamous words of George Michael …

What’s there to think about, baby? … Gotta get up to get down

Living A Life That’s Golden

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I’m taking my freedom

Pulling it off the shelf

I’m taking my freedom

Wherever I choose to go

It will take me far

I’m livin’ my life like it’s golden

Livin’ my life like it’s golden, golden

I’m taking my own freedom

Putting it in my song

Singing loud and strong

Grooving all day long

I’m taking my freedom

Putting it in my stroll

I’ll be high-steppin’ y’all

Letting the joy unfold

“Golden”, by Jill Scott


Do you know that song from the goddess Jill Scott?  It’s really good.  I first saw Jill at Jazz Fest in New Orleans nearly a decade ago with a soul sister and she blew my mind; such powerful positive energy!  I shared the lyrics to her song  “Golden” because that is how someone I love very much lived his life, and it’s also how others have,too.  But before we go there, I would like to ask you some questions.

Who came into your life unexpectedly?

Who holds a key to your heart?

Who has made an impact on your life in ways you never expected?

Who has given you gifts that you can never repay?

Who has taught you some of your greatest life lessons?

Who would you do anything for?

For me, one soul that fits all of these is the focus of this post’s discussion.  His name is King Albert the Grey.

I wish you knew him.  In fact, I wish the world knew him the way I do.  He is a king. A badass.  A warrior.  He is a friend to few, a lover of fewer, and a Great Love of mine.

Please allow me to share why he is the King of our wee kingdom.

Note:  Below is an excerpt (and a very abbreviated version) of a chapter from my book about caring for senior cats.  This is one of my longer posts, so get comfy with your critters and settle in.  Oh, and you might need a tissue, too.


During the spring of 2005 a rather intimidating stray cat the size of a bobcat began sneaking into our house, via the cat window that my zookeeper boyfriend had designed. Our cats Mr. Beaux (a melanistic Siamese, and Samantha, a semi-feral cat) were free-roaming cats at the time; oh how things have changed!  

My roommate, the head Sea Lion trainer at work, would come home nearly every evening and find one of the neighborhood strays in our house.  As soon as she opened the front door this huge cat would come hauling butt out of our house!  We named this brute “Big Fat Grey Cat” (BFGC) because he was big, fat, and grey.  Not a clever name, I know. But we didn’t care. We just wanted him gone.  This shamelessly bold stray cat had a habit of creeping into our home, eating the cats’ food, playing with their toys, and pooping in their litter boxes!   I was livid.  And our cats were really starting to freak out.   So, one day I decided to put an end to the shenanigans.  I was going to catch this creepy cat in the act.

On my next day off I pretended to go take a nap on my bed, right next to the cat window where we assumed he was entering.  My plan was to scare the crap out of this cat so he would never come back.  As I laid there on my bed, I soon heard the chair below the cat window on the porch move (I knew he had hopped into the chair at this point).  I laid as still as a could with one eye open.  Within moments a huge grey head peaked through the rubber window flaps.  His long grey whiskers and ears were pushed forward fearlessly.  His bright yellow eyes were as wide as saucers, scanning the room.  I quickly closed mine, pretending to be asleep.   At this point, the only way this cat could enter the house was to literally walk over my legs.  That’s when I would pounce like a panther, forcing him to retreat and never come back!

I waited for him to step over my legs.  My heart was racing.  His must have been too.  I laid there for what seemed like forever, waiting for him to step between my legs.  To my utter shock and surprise this ballsy stray cat carefully began to lay himself down on my bed just inches away from my feet.

 “What in the world was happening here?!?!”, I thought to myself.

Both appalled and amazed, I opened my eyes and looked right at him, thinking my direct stare would surely scare him off.  As he continued to gingerly settle into the bed, he slowly glanced at me, gave me a slow blink, then turned his head slightly away from me, still maintaining his posture of confidence, but keeping his full awareness on me.

 “This cat had some nerve!”, I thought. “Who the hell does he think he is?!?”

 He knew who he was.  He was a King.  And he had just claimed my bed.  

And clearly this house.

Something came over me.  The plan of executing an angry attack on this creepy cat had changed.  I had gone from a human hunter waiting for her prey, to a curious cat lover wanting to understand what was happening in my home.  I took the bait. 

I looked at him.  He looked right at me, but with a gentle energy.  His eyes were softer.  He truly felt as if he was politely asking permission to just be there, on my bed with me, in our loving home.   I could feel and sense that he had no malice or ill intent.   He was asking for my permission to stay.  So, I took a deep breath, opened my heart to him, and said, “Well hello there.”

 For nearly six months after that, Big Fat Grey Cat stayed near our home.  It was all still very odd and a bit unsettling to me.  He was, as everyone knew, the neighborhood bully.  He was a brutal fighter and killer.  He literally captured and killed every prey animal he came across and consumed it in plain sight.  He fought every dog he saw, and every cat that was careless enough to come close to him.

 I vividly remember one examples of his fearless ferocity.  One afternoon while cleaning dishes, I looked out the kitchen window to discover BFGC standing in our driveway with a huge snake in his mouth!  I hollered at him, pounding on the window, hoping he would drop it (I am a HUGE lover of snakes!).  BFGC barely glanced over at me, intent on keeping his prey secure in his mouth.  I raced outside to rescue the snake from the jaws of death.  Big Fat Grey Cat stood his ground with the snake wrapped around his neck and head …


The rest of that story will be shared at a later date.  The point is, being a fearless hunter, an endless explorer, and an unapologetic badass was in Big Fat Grey Cat’s DNA.  Do you remember the infamous scene in Pulp Fiction at the end, with “the wallet”? (you only need to watch it until 1:05 to get the point.)  If this cat carried a wallet, that’s the kind that King Albert the Grey would have had.  It’s who he was.  He had no fear.  None.  Not for the 17 years of life that I knew him.  He lived for a thrill.  He took risks.  He never stopped exploring.  He was a badass.

But here’s what really captured my heart:  He followed sensitive, scaredy pants Mr. Beaux everywhere (which really freaked Beaux out), but he was always kind to Beaux; he never raised a paw and he let him lead.  He gave Samantha the extra space she required, and he knew when to keep his distance from our guests.  And he never came back inside through the cat window; he always asked to come in through the front door.  He even welcomed me home when my truck pulled into the driveway.

He adopted us as his family.

But I still wanted to know where he came from, and why he chose us, so I did some investigating.  It turned out, his owner was an elderly man that had become too weak to care for him and his brother, so BFGC and his sibling were left homeless.  He was truly looking for a new home, and he chose us.  I also know now that my grandmother In Spirit sent him our way (more on that later).   Eventually we embraced him fully into our family but that came much later, during and after Hurricane Katrina, and our evacuation adventures together.   I talk all about this much more in the book.   All you need to know now is that he was discarded onto the streets and became king of the streets.  He was once unwelcome, but we welcomed him.   He once intimidated us but we learned to see his softer side.

He ruled the streets with a grey iron paw, but wanted a loving home with us.  He was a ruthless hunter, but had a heart of gold for his companions.   He ruled his world with confidence, bravery, determination, focus, and strength.  He was unapologetic in every decision he made.  He understood the importance of healthy boundaries.  He was respected by all who encountered him.  He was both feared and admired, yet he could care less of what others thought of him.  He was loved by those who knew him, yet he loved only a few.  He was choosy with affection, in charge of his kingdom, and capable of attaining anything we wanted.  He truly was a great king.

This beloved King left our home for a new kingdom on the night of March 31, 2017.

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There are souls who come into this world to be the catalyst for change, healing, and growth.  And even fewer who can be fully understood for what they offer, what they embody, and who they truly Are.  King Albert the Grey was all of this and more to me.  He was my friend, my muse, my feline companion, my teacher, and my guide.

And he still is.

The death of his body has not caused any of that to change.  He is still all of this and more.  Those subjects will be shared in much greater detail at a later date.  For now, I want to focus on the manner in which he lived his life, instead of how his physical life ended.

My intent today is to focus on how he chose to live before he became the king of our household; back in the distant days when he had the freedom to choose absolutely anything.  King Albert’s former feline life played a key role in what occurred in the days, weeks, and months before he left our world for a new one.  After 17 years, King Albert The Grey’s feline life came full circle.

My intent is to share why it’s important to recognize the life he once lived.  How he lived his life as King of New Orleans’ streets (prior to becoming an indoor house cat) affected how King Albert was invited to live his life before he left this world.

This is how his Golden Years came to be.


Hocus and albert puzzle feeder senior cats

I have written about Albert before, and also about how we shouldn’t wait until it’s too late.  I’ve shown why I.E.P.s are a vital part of helping cats to age with grace and ease, and how senior and geriatric cats can greatly benefit from gentle novel foraging activities. But what I haven’t shared with you, is the transformational  Life Force behind one’s Love of Life.   King Albert’s love of life was one of the driving forces that fueled him; not only in his youth, but well into his senior and geriatric years.

This is what I offered him in his last life chapter.

He didn’t want, or ask for our pity, our worry, or our sadness for his health challenges and complications.  He never did in his youth, and he certainly didn’t as he aged.  He saw and felt beyond all of that.   He wanted to FEEL ALIVE, no matter the age.  He wanted to experience all that he could, despite his age.  He wanted the kind of life challenges he had in his youth.

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King Albert in 2005

Albert lived with vigor and fearlessness in his younger years.  Challenging himself and trying new things set his feline soul on fire.  King Albert was most alive when he could choose to go, be, and do, anything!   But even as his body began to fail him, he never let go of his love for life.  Albert embraced this vigor, well into his geriatric years.  I was in awe of him every day.  Truly in awe.  No matter what was going on in his body, he was at peace in his mind and his heart.  He didn’t let discomfort bring him down.  He was always ready for more.   Even on days when he could barely get up, he got up.

He never gave up.

And I never gave up on him.  Not for one moment.   Albert overlooked the body.   He taught me how to do this.  I learned to see beyond his aging, struggling body to the young, vibrant soul who was within.  I learned to trust him.  I let go of trying to control everything.  I learned to let him lead me.

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Look at your animal companions right now.   How would you describe their Love for Life?  What makes their heart sing?  What makes their soul soar?  Who were they in their younger years?  Who, what, when, and where did they enjoy most?  Do you have images of them from back then?  Find them.  Look at them with your animal companion and your family.  Find and SEE that young spirit that is alive within them now.  Ask your beloved what they want.   How would they want to spend their last days, weeks, months, or years?  What would their Golden Years become if they could choose?  What would they want to have, be, see, or do if you would allow it?  Who are they at heart?? Can you see their vibrant soul within their aging body??

It’s still there.

This is some of what Albert taught me when his body began to fail.  Recognizing his vibrant youth within a geriatric body and constantly seeing beyond his body was one of the greatest gifts I could give him every moment of our days together.  Recognizing his innate feline needs, acknowledging his heart’s desires, and how much he LOVED life was what I needed to see, feel, and know.  Once I finally recognized these, I was able to give him what he needed.

I gave him a life that was golden.

I knew who King Albert was and what he wanted in his golden years.   I knew because I knew him back in his youth.  All of those adventures and escapades he had never left him; he still wanted to have those even as he aged.  He still wanted to try new things.  He wanted to live bravely and fiercely, even at 17+ years of age.  Albert wanted to be able to relish everything that life had to offer him.  The scents on the breeze;   The grass, soil, and sand between his paw pads;  The Earth’s healing energy under his body;  The warm sun on his face;  The wind in his whiskers.  These were some of his favorite things.  These are what Albert wanted every day of his life.

This is what I gave to him during his last days on Earth.

Below is a short film that I created as a tribute to our King Albert The Grey.  I hope it inspires you to give your aging animal companion a life that’s Golden.


Living a Life That’s Golden from Conscious Companion



My husband and I are both Make A Wish Granters; we have been serving in this role since 2009.  This role has been life changing for me. The incredible and unique wishes that are granted to children and their families during their most challenging times change all of their lives forever.   What we gave to our King Albert during his life threatening illness is very similar to what families of children with life threatening illnesses are able to experience through The Make A Wish Foundation.  When these amazing children are faced with constant medical procedures, daily/hourly medical care, and the stress of illness, they need a release from the emotional and physical discomfort! So Make A Wish gives them their One True Wish.  Not only is the child able to participate in their deepest heart’s desire, and receive a reprieve from the medical monotony, but so does their family.  The child, parents, and siblings are One throughout the entire process; everyone needs a break, and a chance to celebrate life together!

This is very similar to what people go through with their pets when they are going through a life-threatening illness, or when they are living their last days on Earth.  Round the clock medical care at home can be mentally and physically exhausting for everyone in the home.  Both people and all the animals need a break from the constant focus of sickness; we need a time of celebration. We need to let them Live Their Life, even in the  midst of sickness.

We have the power to grant our beloved their One True Wish.

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“ I’ve learned to heed the call of the heart.  I’ve learned that the safest path is not always the best path. I’ve learned that the voice of fear is not always to be trusted.” ― Steve Goodier


Think about this. When your dearest friend or family member is leaving for a better opportunity, or the time has come for them to move on because of life circumstances, do you beg, cry, and plead for them to stay?  Or do you celebrate the time you had together and the time you still have left, by relishing every moment, every smile, every laugh?  Do you celebrate where they are headed?

Celebration and support is what our aging animal companions need from us.

Consider what you could create together when it’s time for your beloved to move on.  Rather than putting your energy and emotions into defeat, consider putting your energy into creating a celebration of the last days you have together!  What adventures and memories you will have! What a gift you will give them!

Please know that I am not being flippant about death by any means.  For goodness sake, I am an Empath; animals are my life and the emotions that come with them are not for the faint of heart.  Animals are my best friends and my family.  They are my heart.  But I have been in the depths of depression too many times to count when I had to suddenly say goodbye to my beloved in the past.

I finally know better.

Now I put all of my energy into loving and celebrating every moment with them.  Now I am focused on creating love and joy with them, instead of drowning in sorrow.  And I can promise you this: If you saw, felt, and knew where they were headed, you would throw one helluva party every damn day with them.  Wherever you are in this process, there is no time to waste while they are still with us.

Celebrate their life while they are still here!

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Not only did I give Albert every adventure he asked for near the end, I also gave him my unconditional love, endless support, and patience.  This love came in many forms.  From Hospice care at home, including force-free medical care multiple times a day (voluntary injections, fluids, and oral medicine).  And not once was he forced to participate; we were a team from the get-go.  This love also came in the form of finding the best holistic vet, to working in collaboration with the best feline medical hospital and their amazing team who let Albert set the pace.   This love came in the form of alternative, holistic medicines and energy healing.   This love came in the form of me consciously managing my energy, removing my fears, and learning to let go of control and trust him.  This love came in the form of creating a deeper connection and soulful communication with him every day.   This love and patience came in the form of allowing him to choose in every circumstance.

This love led us together into our best last days together.  This love allowed him to live his golden years with grace and ease.  We gave it our all with love.  We never gave up on each other.   Love led us to each other, and Love helped us all to lead him Home.

This love lead him Home to The Light.

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Although it has been just over a week since he left his kingdom here for his new Kingdom in the heavens, the grieving process is still occurring.   I am remembering to be gentle with myself, to be conscious of managing my energy, who I interact with, what I allow into my awareness, and the manner in which I continue to fully accept this hand of fate.  Although I have not written here in a few months, I felt it was important to share this with you now, especially while I am still processing his passing and honoring his incredible, full life and the lessons he taught me.

These lessons are now being shared with you.

If you, or someone you know is struggling with an aging animal companion, take heart.  Do not forget for one moment that you and your beloved are connected in heart and mind.  When we are faced with the certain (or uncertain) fate of our beloved animal companion we have two choices.  Listen well, and remember this.  We can choose to fall into fear, or we can choose to lift ourselves and our beloveds in Love.

In every moment, we have a choice.

No one else can make this choice for us.  It is ours and ours alone.  We can cry over the circumstances or we can embrace them fearlessly.  We can choose to stay angry and resentful about what’s in front of us or we can choose to celebrate their last days on Earth with them.  We can find creative solutions, or we can give up.  We can choose to accept defeat, or we can choose to proceed ahead together with an open heart of acceptance.   We can sink into the swamps of sadness that steal our joy, or we can stand tall, walk with our beloved joyfully, and celebrate every breath together.  We can choose to stare into the face of their declining mental and physical health and become burdened with despair, or we can keep searching for solutions.  We can choose to see sickness and death, or we can choose to see beyond their body; we can see, feel, sense, and know their vibrant soul within.  We can give up or we can give them a life that’s Golden.

We get to choose.

When we choose to let go of fear (anger, sadness, control, etc.) we let them (and fearless Love) lead.  When we find peace, we give them permission to live their last days in peace.  When we see beyond their body we are giving them the greatest gift; we are recognizing and remembering who they really are.  When we learn to listen to their needs, their requests, and their wishes, we are honoring them and respecting them.  When we honor and love ourselves through these challenges we are also honoring them, for We Are One.

Ea Nigada Qusdi Idadadvhn 

(Cherokee for “All my relations in creation”)

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One of the promises I made to King Albert the Grey before and during his transition was to live my life the way he did:  To be brave and fearless, to set clear and firm boundaries, to love unconditionally, to embrace each day, to never waste a moment in sadness, to remember our True Home, to love and appreciate family, to never put things off for later; to seize the day, and to relish every moment, to be focused and determined, to collect memories not things, and to celebrate the gift of life.  One of his clearest messages is to never put off what I can give to myself and others today and to have amazing adventures every damn day!!!  This is what I have been doing every day since he left this world.

It has already begun to change my life.

The all-too-familiar soul crushing sadness has not been my constant companion, like it has been countless times in the past.  Depression, stagnation, and sadness have been replaced with gratitude, celebration, and joy!  I feel unconditional love when I see him in The Light.  I feel gratitude when I celebrate his new Home in his new Kingdom.  I find joy when I remember where he is and what he gave to our family.  I feel overwhelmed with humble appreciation when I recognize that he is now my constant guardian.   And I feel alive, as Albert did, when I get up every morning and seize the day.


 

“We must be able to look forward in old age to the next day and to look forward to the great adventure that is  ahead.” -Dr. Carl Jung


I love you, King Albert.  You ruled our kingdom with strength, grace, and dignity through your very last breath here on Earth.  I know you are doing this now, in your new world.  When your fierce and brave Spirit was released from your body you were in my arms at home.  It was an honor, but it broke my heart.   The grief was almost to much to bear again.  But then my heart began to heal when I remembered:  Who you are cannot die.

You are now in a state of grace forever.  You are now a warrior of Light. And every moment that I honor you and the Truth of who you Are, all of our hearts and minds are healed.

Be well, brother.  May you never stop expanding, and may your adventures never end!

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There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. -J. Nehru

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This post is only one aspect of our journey together before he transitioned.  I will share more about these pieces in the future.  These topics include:

• Cat Harness Training – safe walks without fear and frustration for everyone

• Getting Real Consent (force-free medicine, medical procedures, and end of life choices)

• Hospice for Animal Companions

• Natural Death – Assisting with Their Transition at Home

• Utilizing Soul Speak for Life’s Challenges

• Death – The Great Divide or Daring Adventure?

All of these topics will be included in detail in the book, but I will do my best to share them here as time allows.




The picture gallery below is a beautiful reminder that we have the power to create miracles and magic during trying times. We CAN give our animal companions a Golden Life, no matter where they are on their journey.  An aging body and life-threatening illness doesn’t have to be the end of their days.  These circumstances can be the beginning!

We can grant their One True Wish (and a hundred more)!

The animals pictured in this gallery have passed on (some very recently), but but the grief of their passing is surpassed by the love and adventures their people gave them during their last days on Earth.  The gifts these souls were given will remain in their hearts and minds for all time.  Their people knew what they needed, wanted, and wished for; they gave it to their beloved animal companion.  During their last days on Earth they all lived a Golden Life.

Click on the images to read how these superstar souls spent their last days on Earth.


If you would like to share how you gave your beloved a Golden Life before they passed on, you are welcome to contact me.  I will be adding more pictures as the stories of love and celebration come in, so feel free to share their story.


Be well, friends.  Love each other.  Appreciate and celebrate every moment with your beloveds.  Don’t waste a moment.  Create adventures and memories now.  These will be part of the love they bring with them into their next life!  The time for celebration is NOW!

Conscious Companion

Their World of Gratitude

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There is always Light behind the darkness.

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.

 

Hello.  I hope this finds you and yours doing very well and at peace.  I hope wherever you are in the world you are enjoying the holidays and the changing seasons of life.

You may have noticed that I have been absent in sharing with you for many weeks.  Things on our end have been nonstop and challenging, to say the least.  I haven’t had time to share here, continue writing my books, or working with clients.  I have made a few videos, but in general, all professional work has been on hold.

Since I last shared with you we have had many successes and a few scares.  We’ve had three birthdays in the house (woot!), four surgeries, one near-death experience (on a birthday), one reactive rover who trusts again (hallelujah!), funerals for fallen Marines, family and friends visiting, awards ceremonies, best friends battling cancer, and a multitude of other experiences.

But today I am allowing myself to take a break. Today I am choosing to channel my energy into this post in hopes that it will inspire and uplift you. Today I am focusing on something we often forget to focus on: gratitude.


Ever since we moved to California there has been one challenge after another. One struggle after the next. One illness after another. Pain. Heartache. Frustration. Exhaustion.

But that’s not the full story. That’s only part of the picture. There has been much more at play. There is another side to all the stress and strife.  The other side of the struggles are at the heart of this post.

Between the physical and emotional struggles there have been miracles and wonder.  There’s been growth, expansion, hope, strength, endurance, and bonding.  There have been life lessons learned, friendships forged, soul contracts at play, inspiration gained, and new horizons seen.  There have been unimaginable success, hard-fought healings, and life-changing growth on every level possible.

And through it all, somehow we have remained in gratitude. We come back to gratitude. And we remain there. Looking above it all, I am in awe.


Each one of the struggles and successes deserve a post in itself.  In fact, there will be several chapters dedicated to each of them in the books I am writing.  But for now, I will summarize a few of them because not only is there too much to cover in one post, but some stories are not ready to be shared with the world just yet. But they will be one day. I look forward to sharing that with you when the time is right.

Today I want to keep it simple.  I want to uplift and inspire.  My goal is to redirect our focus. And to see life from a new perspective. Even if it’s merely a glimpse.

Today I will be sharing something from the animal’s perspective.

I took the liberty to share not only what they have shared with me over the years, and what I have learned from them lately, but also what I perceive their truths to be.  All of this is centered on their idea of “Gratitude.”


“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson


 

Thanks and Giving Beyond November

I have discussed the idea of making room for gratitude before.  I have discussed why it’s so powerful, why we need it now, and why you deserve thanks.   But this post takes a new spin on a familiar topic.  And it curtails the many thanks and giving that some have been enjoying lately.

Here in the United States we just wrapped up Thanksgiving.  It’s a lovely time of year if you create the time to slow down and enjoy it.  I love seeing people smiling, sharing, and caring more this time of year.  I love seeing and hearing the words, “grateful”, “gratitude” and “thankful” tossed around like autumn leaves on the breeze.  An attitude of gratitude seems to permeate people.  It’s really quite beautiful.

But then it leaves.

Just as the vibrantly colored leaves float to the ground, briefly rest on the Earth and quickly dance off into the horizon, so too goes our gratitude.

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But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Gratitude can be an attitude that we embody during the most challenging times. Gratitude can be a cloak in which we cover a tired body.  Gratitude can be the breeze we choose to ride.  It can be the wind we set our sails to while riding the rocky seas.  Gratitude can sooth the most exhausted mind.  It can heal a broken heart.  It can change your world.  And it can radically change the world of our animal family members.

But we have to choose it.

Gratitude is not a gift. It is not reserved for the elite, the special, or the few.  It is who we are.  It is who you are without all of the other thoughts, beliefs and judgments.  Gratitude, like Love is always only a thought away.

I am reminded of this during every struggle.  In fact, I am reminded of Gratitude when I look at how the animals move through their lives.  I am reminded of the power of gratitude when I see them shine; when their light is brightest even when there is a dark cloud above them.  I am reminded of gratitude when they outshine me.

It’s as if all the world could be falling apart, but they somehow remain grateful in their heart.  They rise above it.  They see beyond temporary, fleeting circumstances. They know that this too, shall pass.  They know more than we realize and gratitude is their guide.


“Just an observation: it is impossible to be both grateful and depressed. Those with a grateful mindset tend to see the message in the mess. And even though life may knock them down, the grateful find reasons, if even small ones, to get up.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free


Gratitude as a Gift

I started thinking about how gratitude has pulled me out of my darkest depressions and my most intense anxieties over the years.  Gratitude has transformed boredom, frustration, fear, and anger into hope, trust, and joy.  I thought about how much there is to be grateful for, even during the darkest hour.  I thought about how gratitude has been a driving force pushing me through the past few months.

Then I thought about our animal family members.  I wondered what they might be grateful for this year.  I wondered how gratitude played into their perspective.  I wanted to really look into what they were thankful for, without stepping into the quicksand of anthropomorphism.  I wondered what they would say “Thank you” for every day.

What I discovered wasn’t a surprise; these aspects are all part of their journey and the story of their lives.  If the animals were to say “thanks” for the circumstances and gifts in their lives, their lists might include these:

  • Unconditional Love
  • The ability to let go
  • Hide and seek games
  • Seeing the world through innocence
  • Fireside snuggles
  • Seeing our people become stronger and fearless
  • Meals tailored to our individual needs
  • Foraging and hunting opportunities
  • Being unattached
  • Sharing our people’s bed
  • Play time
  • Knowing this world is temporary; a place away from our real Home.
  • Being unapologetic
  • Energy healing sessions
  • Holistic care
  • Animal communication
  • Living a force-free way of life
  • Being silly and goofy
  • Food used as a tool
  • Soul contracts being honored
  • Unexpected car rides in the Adventure Box
  • The ability to choose
  • Meeting nice people out and about
  • Healthy boundaries
  • Seeing my people happy and healthy
  • Getting permission to roll in smelly goodness
  • Overcoming illness
  • Watching our person learning to let go
  • Warm beds
  • Communicating on a new level
  • Smelling the scents on the breeze
  • Our person learning how hidden emotions affect us
  • Excellent boxes
  • Teaching our people new life lessons
  • Meditation moments
  • Knowing that our people are doing the best they can
  • Watching each other grow
  • Feeling the sun on our fur and face
  • Aging with dignity and grace
  • Soul mates
  • Unlikely friendships forged through trust
  • Just Being
  • Force-free medical care at home
  • Bonds that never break
  • Being seen as an individual
  • Polite play dates
  • Being listened to and heard
  • A loving home
  • Being near the one you love
  • Adventures
  • Being loved for who I Am

 

…Those were just a few of their “thanks” that came to mind.  These are a merely a snippet of what I have been honored to learn from them.  I am grateful.  I am humbled. I am honored.  And I am grateful for each of them.

Teachers. Gifts. Angels. Lights in the dark.  That is what they are to me.  This is some of what I am grateful for each day.  This is what I will focus on as we move through this life together. This is what I will remember when things get hard. When life is rough. I will remember these things and I will share their gratitude.

Our gratitude won’t end now that Thanksgiving has come and gone.  Our gratitude will last.  It will be within us 365 days a year.  And as we grow gratitude, we will pass it on to others. If you’re interested I made a quick video about this. You can view it here.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/193259849″>An Attitude of Gratitude 365</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user31689127″>Conscious Companion</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>



 

What do you believe your animal companions are grateful for? What are the gifts in their lives? What supports their attitude of gratitude? What would be on their “thankful for” list?



Before I go, I would also like to share that I am grateful for you.  Thank you for being here. Thank you being a part of this community.  Thank you for reading, staying inspired, and for being willing to stay in an attitude of gratitude every moment of the day.

From our family to yours,

Much love and light


“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”
― Meister Eckhart

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Sunset at our home


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The Bridge of Light and Love

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Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way. ~John Muir

 


This week marks the date when the beloved Robin Williams took his own life.  Although I wrote this three years ago, this post still honors his life, another life who touched his deeply, and those who suffer from depression.  Depression has been a darkness I have known all too well for much of my life, like so many others.  But it can end.

And it does end.

There are dark days, but we can find the Light.  I believe animals help us to do just that.

You can read my original post below:


In 2001 Robin Williams and Koko the Gorilla experienced this Light when they met each other.  The video below shows how Koko instantly connected with Robin.

 


Koko, like us, can sense a person’s nature and in this case, she was quickly drawn to Robin’s warm heart. Robin made Koko smile — something she hadn’t done for over six months, ever since her childhood gorilla companion, Michael, passed away.  – Dr. Penny Patterson, president of The Gorilla Foundation

Only Koko and Robin know what was discussed and felt during their brief time together, but we can see in the video that their time together was meaningful and poignant for each of them.

Not only did Robin cheer up Koko, the effect was mutual, and Robin seemed transformed — from a high-energy entertainer, into a mellow, sensitive, empathetic guy, who also happened to be really funny.

The Gorilla Foundation – where Koko lives – released a statement explaining that when Koko was informed of Robin William’s death, she remembered her friend and displayed sadness.  Robin and Koko may have had a brief encounter, but they clearly formed a friendship that touched Koko.  I’d like to believe that Koko touched his heart as well.


Aug 11, 2014:   We salute a beloved man today. A Genie, a teacher, a boy that never grew up, a nanny, an artist who could hug you with that warm smile and make you laugh till you cried.  He voiced many characters and was a voice for those who could not speak.  A family lost a loved one.  Wherever he is, we hope he is at peace and free, just like the Genie he immortalized.  We will miss his sweet laugh and be grateful for all the joy he brought us.  Oh Captain, My Captain.  We will never forget you.  We salute you Robin Williams.    ~ Photo Lab Pet Photography

People all around the world are mourning the death of Robin Williams in their own way.  Many have been deeply saddened by his sudden passing.  But no matter how you feel about the circumstances, we need to honor that we all suffer at times in life.  We understand what it means to hurt, and we understand what it feels like to want the pain to end.  I have been there myself.  It’s a very dark and lonely place.  But we can find the Light.

My prayer is that Robin has found the peace he so longed for and deserved.  May he no longer feel pain, sadness, or despair.  May he be as joyful and as lighthearted as we see him in this video with Koko.  May his soul be at rest.  May he now know the joy, laughter, and Light that he brought to so many people all around the world through his work.

May we all continue to see him as happy and as carefree as he is in this video.

May we remember that our animal companions can help to bring us back to our true state of being, which is love, joy, peace, and happiness.

May you have these kind of powerful, unforgettable moments with the animals in your home during the many stages of life, love, and death.


Robin, thank you for being a fearless and fabulous human.  Thank you for helping us to laugh, and thank you for sharing your gifts with the world.  You will be missed by many.  Namaste.

 You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to.

– Robin Williams 

Inspirational quotes