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.

leaves-in-the-wind

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

YouTube

 

The Never Ending (Moving) Story

“When efforts that are wisely executed, the situation and condition don’t affect the performance.” ― A.Patel

road-trip with pets
The long road less traveled on our Big Move with the Animal Menagerie

We have arrived in California!  Finally.  1.1 humans, 3.0 felines, 0.1 canine, 0.0.8 plants, and 0.0.2 vehicles  made it safely from the east coast to the west coast!  It only took us a MONTH to move out of our home in VA, drive across the country, and move into our home here in Cali, but we are here. And everyone is doing very well.

We must have had Falkor with us in spirit on our move out here because we had a lot of luck, magic, and miracles along the road less traveled.  We also had a lot of patience, gratitude, and very successful animal menagerie management tools and techniques at play.

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This is going to be a quick post, because we have been going nonstop since we got here, and we still have much more to do.  But I wanted to at least update my readers because you are dear to me.  Plus with all that is going down in the world, I wanted to share some Love Light.


I Proved Myself Wrong – In the Best Way Possible

I don’t like to prove others (or myself) wrong, but here goes.  Do you remember how scared I was about the move?  Did you read the post about how I was allowing ALL my fears to take over all of my perceptions of what would happen?  Well, that was a huge waste of energy. None of that happened.

But some other major mishaps did happen.

Here’s the abbreviated Bad News from our laborious move out West:

  • The moving company packed up our household goods (everything) out of our home, then moved it all into storage (unbeknownst to us for several weeks).
  • I lost my voice on Day One of The Drive. Then that evening I had full blown flu-like symptoms.
  • Knox Zydeco decided that riding in a car was no longer an option for him anymore. In fact, it was one of the most terrifying experiences of his life (We discovered this within minutes of leaving our temporary hotel in VA and setting out on the road.)
  • Albert managed to escape from a 4 inch gap in my car window and walk around my family’s cemetery while I was paying respects.
  • One of our cars broke down at 10:30 at night while driving through the Texas desert.
  • We lived out of 8 different hotels across the country for 24 days.
  • Once we arrived in Cali the movers took another 8 days to get here so we stayed in another hotel for a week.

Good times.

But that’s not where the seemingly never-ending moving story ends. There’s more. If you have been following this blog, then you know that I always focus on the positive in life and especially with our animal companions.  

So… Here’s the abbreviated GOOD News from our Big Move:

  • Our feline veterinarian was absolutely incredible at immediately responding to and diagnosing Knox’s Full-On-Freak-Out while we were in transit.
  • We now know how incredibly helpful (and safe) the right medications can be for fearful cats. And we learned that these are the same meds that people are prescribed for panic attacks and anxiety! (more to come on this important topic ).
  • I learned why one should never have a deep healing acupuncture session prior to moving across country (hence the flu-like symptoms).
  • Hocus Pocus had zero aggression, frustration or fear reactivity issues. I am so proud of her!
  • Our senior kitty boys were total rock stars; Beaux and Albert both did exceptionally well on the long 11 hour drives each day. And King Albert’s health challenges did not cause him any noticeable duress.
  • I was able to  visit my Cherokee ancestors’ royalty resting grounds (while Albert was busy escaping and roaming around the cemetery).
  • The animals were incredibly tolerant, patient, and calm in the many hotels, long road days, and with me being unwell the entire time.
  • There were no spats or fights (between the people or pets)! Not even a single swat or hiss.
  • There was only one (appropriate) growl from Hocus the ENTIRE time. (I will talk about close-quarter management techniques in another post.)
  • None of the animals became injured, lost, sick, or any other horrible scenario I had imagined. (Although, Albert was a close call).
  • My animal communication skills were put to the test and I passed with flying colors.
  • We all grew closer together during this trial.
  • Everyone did exceptionally well, considering how hard it was on all of us for such a long time.
  • They have all settled into our new home and are far exceeding what I thought they were capable of.
  • Everyone is thriving!

anything is possible_nothing is impossible

 

It’s All Been Worth the Time and Effort!

All of the techniques, tools, and behavior modification methods I have learned over the years of being an animal trainer, pet parent, and animal behavior consultant came into play during this long transition.  The methods I share with you and use with my clients were all put to the test.  Including some I had never tried before!  They were such a huge success.

All of my efforts have paid off.  What I thought was impossible was possible.  I didn’t believe the cats or canine were capable of coping.  I had anticipated the worst, but each of them found their way to SHINE during a very difficult and long process.  Each of them adjusted, adapted, and   They proved all of us wrong.  They were total champs.  At times they even seemed to understand that we were all in this together.

I am still in awe of them.  Conscious Companion 2016 Road trip

But that’s all I am going to write about for now.  In the near future I will be sharing with you how I was able to create and maintain safety, peace, and harmony during the Long Haul with each of the animals. I will also share how we have been able to help each of them to settle into our new dojo with flying colors (and with no flying fur!).  I can’t wait to tell you all about everything that’s working, and the new tools I have discovered. These tips and techniques will make such a huge difference for you and your companion animals.


Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.-Robert Collier


In Other News

I hope those of you in the U.S. and Canada enjoyed (and survived) the recent independence holidays. We are still experiencing bomb-like-fireworks nightly here, so we are continuing to help the animals cope with that.  If you need some suggestions to help your pets with post-Independence day celebrations, check out this post and this one as well.

If you were affected by the tragic events in Orlando (my hometown), my heart goes out to you.  Our friends and family still live there, so this really hit home for us. My mother was able to send her team of therapy dogs to help the first responders from that event. You can read about that here.   Now they are visiting with the Orlando community as their team is able, helping so many to heal.

Also, if you or anyone you know are either a HSP or an Empath, this Instagram page might be helpful.  As we move forward in the world, and as I continue to share here, I will spread as much love and light as I can.  With all of the drama, anger, and sadness we are witnessing unfolding in the world right now, we need more love.  We must uplift and love one another. When the world appears dark, we need to be The Light.  Remember that our animal companions are such perfect teachers for this.  They are pure unconditional love.

“There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.” ― Bram Stoker, Dracula


OH! Before I go, I wanted to share one more inspiring thing with you.  Here’s the view from our new backyard.  Gah! Can you smell the salt air and feel the sand between your toes??

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Well, I am off the watch tonight’s sunset. So Much love to you and yours!


“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Ben and Denali – Companionship That Transcends Time

When someone you love walks through the door, even if it happens five times a day, you should go totally insane with joy.

Denali

I came across something today that moved me to tears within minutes. I am a sensitive woman, but few things move me to tears that easily.  This did.

Maybe it’s because I can relate to saying goodbye.  Or maybe it’s because I know what it’s like to love another soul deeply, with every fiber of my being, that I would do anything to help them.

Regardless of why it moved me, I would like to share it with you.

Normally I wait until the end of the week, for my Soulful Sunday posts, but I couldn’t wait. It’s too amazing.  Please take a moment to turn inward, and set aside all of life’s distractions to watch something truly beautiful. You’ll be glad you did.


This is a filmmaker’s tribute to his beloved and loyal canine companion.  The video, Denali, is told from the point of view of the dog. – quite hilariously at times.  It’s so well done.  And other artists have recognized it’s brilliance: The film premiered at 5Point Film Festival, winning both Best of Festival and People’s Choice, and was an official selection at Telluride Mountainfilm.

This short film is a gorgeous and poignant expression of friendship, gratitude, honoring a beloved companion, and unconditional love.

This film is a celebration of life.

It’s a celebration of real friendship.

It’s a glimpse into how powerful a bond can become between a person and their beloved animal companion.

It’s something that I hope you can experience one day.


As I have written about before, friendships come in all shapes and sizes.  And this film shows us just that; an illumination of the resilience we can create together with the help of true friends.   But as many of you know, these friendships have to end sometimes.  That’s just the crappy part of this life.

And as Ben shows us in his deeply moving film …  

There’s no easy way to say goodbye to a friend, especially when they’ve supported you through your darkest times.


Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Whatever we were to each, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be the household word it always was.
Let it be spoken without effort.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was;
There is absolutely unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of your mind because I am out of your sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near just around the corner…
All is well. Nothing is past, nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before,
Only better and infinitely happier,
And forever we will be one together.

~ Henry Scott Holland


Denali on beach

Love Transcends Time and Space.  

All of the souls you loved are never lost.  They are merely a thought away. 

Keep them close to you in your heart. 


Related Links

What Our Dogs Teach Us About Aging by David Dudley

Ben Moon

In ‘Denali,’ Remembering a Man and His Dog

Don’t Wait. It may be too late.

There Is No Death

A Thousand Winds That Blow (Wordless Wednesday)

starry night_pet loss_I did not die

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awake in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star-shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there. I did not die.

Rethinking Success

“Permanent success – real success – is found within YOU.  It’s restoring Who You Are; not something you have to achieve out in the world” – Patrick Darling‏

 

success_sacred geomerty

2015

SUCCESS.
What is “success” to you?
I invite you to really think about this.

What does it look like?  What does it feel like?  How do you recognize it when it comes into your life? How do you feel when you believe you don’t have it?  

What do you consider “success”?

If you’re also an animal trainer or an animal behaviorist, is success training a new behavior or modifying an animal’s fear or anxiety disorder? If you are an academic is it getting more credentials? If you are on a health kick does success mean losing weight or lifting more weights?  Is it landing a new client?  A new book deal?  A new relationship?  Is it finding a great job, a new home, or getting pregnant?  Are your successes found in helping a stranger or a neighbor? Is it healing a plant or pet?  Is it rescuing something or someone?  

Are your successes big or little?  Are they an every day occurrence or something few and far between?  Are they a standard in which you judge your accomplishments or failures?  Do your successes define you?

I ask, because I have learned to ask myself these questions. 
And how we answer them will determine how we define success in life.


compassion-quotes

I used to measure all of the successes and failures in my life on whether or not I gained something, taught something, understood something, completed something, or received something.

But all this time, a thought kept coming into my awareness: Maybe there’s more to success than the usual definition society assumes it to be.

Maybe we have it all backward.  
Maybe the world’s idea of success is leading us further from true success.
Maybe what the world teaches us to be success is not based in Truth.


“What you think you are is a belief to be undone.”
A Course in Miracles


Thankfully, after much suffering and beating myself up for what I labeled to be failures or lack of successes, I learned to listen to new Thoughts that showed me a different way of defining success.  These thoughts were kind, uplifting,  supportive, and loving.  These thoughts taught me how to See success in a new light.

These days, I tend to measure success on a different scale.  I see the success of myself and of others differently.  Not only do I see my success as the same as another’s success (and vice versa), but I see that what the world values as success is not always the most successful accomplishment.   

Thanks to a conscious and deliberate shift in my perception now I experience many successes every day.   I’ve started to see successes in every day life occurrences.  I now see success in people, places, events, and gifts that we often take for granted.  I now see what true “success” is.

It’s the little things that are really the Big Things. 
It’s appreciating the stuff we take for granted that are the big leaps forward.  It’s rethinking what we consider success.  

success in the little things
Smelling the sweet, intoxicating scent of honeysuckle is a “success” for me.

Success for me these days includes:  

Being brave; trusting life; not judging someone or myself;  setting aside self criticism; not comparing myself to another; getting enough sleep; staying hydrated; staying grounded; waking up rested; being without physical or emotional pain (or having pain but remembering to see beyond the pain with compassion); remembering to laugh (especially at myself); seeing a smile from a stranger; teaching a child something that excites their mind and opens their heart;  keeping my heart open even when others are cruel; being fully present; listening to a loved one; being kind to myself; extending this kindness to others; releasing judgement; practicing true forgiveness; being the observer; practicing Self Care; watching the wag of a happy dog; feeling the purr of a content cat; hearing the song of a bird; being in joy; enjoying shade from a tree; feeling the sun on my skin; and smelling the scent of a flower; letting my mind become still.

These are seemingly small successes by the world’s standards, but they are True Successes to me.

passion flower

first bloom from our passion vine that I planted from a seedling!


Letting go and Flowing

Success happens when we stop trying so hard.  Success occurs easily when we allow.

I experience success in just being with the things that I love and appreciate.

I find success in the events of life that bring me joy.

I feel success when I see, feel, or experience things that make my heart swell.

I Am “successful” when I give my presence, my friendship, my time, and my love to others.

I am “success” when I can find peace in the midst of turmoil.

I am successful when I allow Kindness and Love to Rule my world.

I Am success when I extend this kindness, compassion, and love to everyone and every being.

This kind of success is shared. And by sharing this kind of success we change the world.  For we are One.

cc

Friends, Never Forget This:

There are countless successes happening in our lives every day.  

We just have to be willing to see them and celebrate them!



One new perception, one fresh thought, one act of surrender, one change of heart, one leap of faith, can change your life forever.

― Robert Holden


ConsciousCompanion.com

Don’t Wait. It may be too late.

 Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.― Voltaire

Suneset shoreline

Two of our friends died suddenly and tragically on Mother’s Day.  It has been a shock to everyone who knew them.  They left behind countless friends and family, and their beloved rescued canine companion.

We are all mourning in our own way. We are all feeling the effects of this tragedy differently; some inwardly and some outwardly.  My grief comes and goes in waves.  My husband on the other hand, shares it all, bares it all, and makes no apologies or excuse for what he’s feeling.  He laughs when he needs to, and cries when he’s moved.

He is the one who brought something to light for me during all of this.

We had both been gone when we heard the horrible news.  When we returned home we went out for a bite to eat, to get some perspective and discuss the details of what we knew about the tragedy.  Something he said at dinner resonated with me, and keeps coming back into my awareness:  “You know, when I first heard the news, all I could think was NO NO NO NO NO that’s impossible. Then my mind quickly switched to feeling an overwhelming sadness at the fact that I can never tell him all of the things I want to tell him.  All of the things I should have said.  I have so much I want to tell him.”

That hit me hard.  My husband was right.  That chance is gone.  Game over.  They are both gone.

You may be wondering, Why are you sharing this with me?  How does this have to do with our companion animals? 

 I am sharing this with you because life is precious, and the ones we love could be gone in an instant.

Life is dear and too short to put off sharing our thoughts, feelings, and gratitude for the ones we love, the ones that make us laugh, and even the ones that push our buttons.   This includes the animals we have in our lives; the ones we care for at a facility, shelter, or in our home.

Those annoying behaviors or frustrating personality traits (whether friend, family, or pet) instantly disappear when their life is extinguished.  All we see is their beauty and their light.  All we remember is the best of them.

So why aren’t we seeing the best in the animals and people we love that are still alive?

It’s easy to complain or become annoyed with the people we love, the family and friends that drive us nuts, and the coworkers that we could do without.  But understand this: no matter who they are, or what they represent to you, they are in your life for a reason, and their presence matters.  The animals that we care for at home or work are in our life are also there for a reason.  Even when they make things more difficult or frustrating at times, they still add value to our lives.  Look for that value.  Look for a reason, for each of them.  I promise you, if you look hard enough, you’ll see their value and their individual worth.

Every soul in our lives is a gift.  They are either a teacher, a mentor, or someone you are teaching and mentoring. Every person, animal, and circumstance in our lives can be a great teacher.  There are countless lessons to be learned by all of them.

I am grateful beyond words for every teacher in my life.  Many of them came in forms that I would not have chosen, but lessons were learned because of them.  Two of my animal companions are currently teaching me lessons that I would rather not learn at the moment, but I have to remind myself to thank them for being in my life. Their presence is invaluable.

Who we love, and who we care about need to hear it.   Every day.  Tell the ones you love how much you appreciate them, how much you value their presence in your life, and how their life has affected yours.  Look past those annoying traits, and the buttons they seem to push in you.  Laugh at it.  Blow it off.  See them for who they really are. Look beyond the surface to see the best in them.

Appreciate them. Thank them.  Spend time with them.  Shower them with love.  Tell them how you feel, even if it’s a tough truth to be told; be humbly and graciously honest.  Be kind.

That’s love.  That’s living life to the fullest. That’s how we make life meaningful.  That’s how life becomes a miracle.  Don’t wait.  Show them, and tell them now.

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 At the end of the day, let there be no excuses, no explanations, no regrets. ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

How Much Does Your Dog Love You?

We’ve always known our dogs are good for us, but here’s a biological explanation for it beyond the fact that they make us feel good. – Patricia McConnell, Ph.D.

Bonding with your dog_Conscious Companion_Love hormone_Oxytocin

How much do you love your dog? Does your dog love you just as much?

We don’t have kids.  We have a dog.  And we love our dog.  Saying “I love my dog” doesn’t come close to describing how I feel when I think about her.  Just looking at her makes my heart swell. I feel good just being around her, and I know she feels good being around me.

As it turns out, science has a hand in this love connection.

Have you heard of the “Love Hormone?” That’s how some people refer to oxytocin, which acts as a chemical messenger in the brain.  It’s produced in the hypothalamus and is responsible for feel-good human behaviors such as sexual arousal, recognition, trust, anxiety, and the mother-infant bond.  It also serves to counteract the stress response and reduce adrenalin, which results in less anxiety and less immune suppression.

Oxytocin, a neuropeptide synthetized by the hypothalamus in mammals, regulates many complex forms of social behavior and cognition in both human and nonhuman animals.

That’s why people refer to oxytocin as the ‘love hormone’, ‘cuddle chemical’, or ‘trust hormone’. They even discovered that people are more trusting of strangers if oxytocin is sprayed into their nose.  Science now has evidence that oxytocin is directly involved in the bond between people dogs. (Details here)


Oxytocin Even Helps Dogs Bond with Playmates

Does your dog have a favorite doggie pal?  Science and chemicals may play a role in their friendship as well!   A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences discovered that a whiff of oxytocin made the dogs friendlier toward their dog pals.  The researchers also determined that oxytocin is key to forming and maintaining close social relationships—even when those are with unrelated individuals or different species.  This could explain why many dogs form close bonds with others species of animals. (Details here)

That animals of different species induce oxytocin release in each other suggests that they, like us, may be capable of love. It is quite possible that Fido and Boots may feel the same way about you as you do about them. You can even call it love. -Neuroeconomist Paul Zak

bonded dogs_oxytocin_Conscious Companion


Researchers found the hormone oxytocin spikes in both human and canine brains when a dog gazes calmly into his/her person’s eyes!

Oxytocin_bond with dog_love hormone

“Oxytocin enables the bond between dog and human.” – Jessica Oliva, PhD

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A study published in the journal Animal Cognition discovered that oxytocin:

  • promotes the connection between humans and companion dogs
  • lowers blood pressure and other indications of physiological stress
  • is involved in a dog’s ability to use human cues
  • in extra doses helped dogs to performing simple tasks better

The researchers theorized that since both humans and dogs usually produce more oxytocin when they interact, the presence of the oxytocin hormone indicated that dogs evolved into being “the perfect human companion” because that chemical bond allowed them to better read their person’s commands.  (No cats were available to comment on these findings.)

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Hocus and Rich having Quality Time watching the world do by – Copyright Conscious Companion

“Our relationship with dogs are very much like parent child relationships. We respond to our dogs quite a bit like human children. Brain imaging studies have shown that brain networks of mothers respond in the same way to pictures of their own dog to their own children.”

“Dogs may have found a way to ‘hijack’ these parenting responses and dogs over time may have taken on more childlike and juvenile characteristics to further embed themselves into our lives.”

Humans may feel affection for their companion dogs similar to that felt toward human family members.

-Dr Miho Nagasawa


Feeling Blue? Play with Your Dog!
When you are feeling down, be glad your dog is around.  Science proved that dog guardians experience a burst in oxytocin after playing with their canine companions.

These studies also found that:

  • Petting and talking to a dog for three minutes increases oxytocin levels in the blood stream of both human and dog.
  • Actively playing with your dog boosts oxytocin levels.
  • There’s a correlation between the level of a dog owner’s oxytocin level and how much their dog tended to gaze directly at them.
  • Relaxed eye contact with your dog increases oxytocin.
  • The closer a person feels to their dog, the more oxytocin the person will release.

—> Details here!

hormone oxytocin_bonding with your dog

“The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.”
―M.K. Clinton (author, The Returns)


This was originally posted on 4Knines’ website earlier this month. You can read my full article on their website.

Want to read more about the science of Oxytocin? Check out Did Dogs Hack the Oxytocin Love Circuit?Comparing Dogs to Wolves Doesn’t Necessarily Inform About Domestication.

Every Day Is the 14th!

 
This fire that we call loving is too strong for human minds, but just right for souls.  ― Aberjhani, Elemental: The Power of Illuminated Love 

One of my soulmates, Magma, a wise and gentle Aldabra Tortoise who is nearly 100 years of age

 


 

Are You All About The Valentine?

Valentine’s Day is one of those days that people seem to either love or loathe.  Every February 14, across the United States and in other places around the world, gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of Love and St. Valentine.  The history of this centuries-old holiday stems from ancient Roman rituals, but today February the 14th  has been taken over by the chocolate, flower, lingerie, and greeting card companies.

Valentine’s Day has morphed into a world wide day of obligatory gift giving.  Many of us forget that the day is coming, then at the last minute we scramble to find something love-worthy for our new lover or life partner.  After the last minute shopping is done, we often realize that our V-day gift for our Valentine is awkwardly over-the-top or given with very little thought.   I have been (and have had) both of those types of Valentine’s over the years.   And considering the true history of the date, I don’t really honor the whole gig.

Personally, I could honestly care less about the day itself.  Years ago it took on a whole new meaning for me when I had to suddenly say goodbye to three of my furry valentines on Valentine’s weekend (on three separate occasions!).  I was single each time, so each of their deaths were a whopper of a heartbreak.  After several life changing losses around Valentine’s Day, I started to look at February 14th  very differently.


 A Day of Despondence?

If you are one of the fortunate few who are cerebrating with someone who plans ahead and gives with their whole heart, you are blessed indeed.   But not everyone is so fortunate.  Valentine’s Day can be a depressing day for many.  Some are sad to be single.  Some are miserable in a relationship.  Some have tragically lost their life partner.  Valentine’s Day can be a brutal reminder of circumstances in life that some would rather not admit.

But Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a day of despondence.

This post is my way of suggesting another way of looking at Valentine’s Day.  And if you are able to see February 14th in a new light, you might look at the other 364 days differently, too!


 If I know what love is, it is because of you. – Hermann Hesse

Great Loves

I would like to ask you a few questions, and I hope that you will at least consider answering them.  Here goes:

Have you loved before?

Have you been loved by another?

What did each of those loves feel like?

How often do you say I love you?

Who do you say it to?

Have you experienced unconditional love?

How many souls have you loved in this life?

Who has been/is your true love in this life?

When I asked myself those questions and answered  honestly I laughed and smiled at the highly varied memories and images that come to my mind.  Some are painful.  Some are hilarious.  Some are breathtakingly beautiful.  But they all have one thing in common:   Love was at the center of it all.

Reflecting on those questions above helped me to really see the truth about Love in my life.  I have to admit: I have been blessed.  If I had experienced just one great love in this life, I could gladly pass in peace.

But I didn’t have just one great love.

I have had countless great loves in this lifetime.  Some were my family, my friends, my romantic partners, my husband, and my soul sisters.  But since childhood, most of my Great Loves were not human; they were from the animal kingdom.

“You don’t need to justify your love. You don’t need to explain your love. You just need to practice your love.  Practice creates the master.” – Miguel Ruiz

Last Day At Zoo cockatoos
Great loves aren’t limited to people.

What’s Love Anyway?

At some point in our lives we will have a quick crush, a fleeting fling, a rocky romance, or a soulful, fiery, and passionate love affair.  But not everyone has known true love.   True love is life-changing.  It’s Real.  It breaks your heart wide open.  It allows you to feel peace, clarity, and compassion far beyond what you have known before.  It can cut through to your deepest core.  It allows you to experience what it means to be whole, healed, and who you really are.  It is all encompassing.  It is unconditional.

This is love.

Love is intended to be a circle.   Love is intended to be endless. Infinite.  Unconditional.  Love is not a one way flow.  Love gives, and love receives.   Love allows us to be raw and open.  Love allows us to be exactly who we are, flaws and all.  Love heals the broken. Love heals the heart.  Love allows us to grow and heal each other.  Love Gives Unconditionally.

This is love.

True Love dives deep.  It’s never ending.  It’s the kind of love that makes your heart feel at peace, but also race with joy when you think about your beloved.  It’s the kind of love that you would do anything for.  It’s selfless love.  It’s the kind of love that reminds you what it’s like to really feel alive.  It’s the kind of love that we all desperately hope never ends.  And it’s also the kind of love that breaks your heart in half when it ends abruptly.  But true Love will also immediately enter into any mind and heart  that truly wants it.  Real love is incapable of asking for anything.

This is true, real love.

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“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,  And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”  ― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Looking Through Love Lenses

When we talk about “love” and the idea of what Valentine’s Day represents, we usually think about a lover, a spouse, our mother, father, sibling, or maybe a soul sister.  But what about the other soul family in our lives?

I’d like to ask you another question:  How many of your romantic, family,  or friend relationships included all of those traits listed above?   Which of the love relationships in your life have never failed to give you those kind of experiences?   Who has given you an endless, unconditional love?   Who has loved you ceaselessly?   Who has loved you without conditions or judgement?

I will honestly admit that only one of my romantic relationships has given me those true love LOVE Soul matesexperiences, and only a small handful of friendships have. (Thank you to my husband and to my soul sisters!!)

Although only a few of my personal relationships have been based on selfless, unconditional love, there have been countless others who gave me every one of those “true love” experiences that I had always yearned for.   These souls knew what unconditional love was.  They had a endless supply.  And they gave it freely, without conditions or judgement. 

All of these souls were animals.

Their love was there when I least expected it.   But their love was also there when I needed it most.  They were the ones who taught me how to truly love.  They taught me how to let someone love me.  They taught me that it was safe to be myself.  They taught me that only the courageous ones will love you for all that you are.  They showed me what it means to love unconditionally and without judgement.  Their love healed me.  They have been some of my truest and deepest loves in this life.  They were (and are) my soul mates.



People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, someone who shows you everything that is holding you back. This is someone who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.

A true soul mate is probably the most important soul you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake.  Soul mates come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave. 

A soul mate’s purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master.  ― E. Gilbert


 Great Love Brings Great Gifts.

Loving another and having them love you back is an obvious gift. But opening your heart only to later have it aching in pain can be another gift in strange wrapping paper.  The downside to loving fiercely can be painful, but it does have its gifts.   My animal soulmates have taught me this lesson many times.

During heartache and loss we can receive gifts.  These gifts are immeasurable and life changing if we are willing to see these gifts.  With every one of them that passed, my heart broke, but it healed and grew stronger.  It allowed me to love others more, and to be prepared for their inevitable passing or departure out of my life.

Here are a few other life lessons that my Great Loves have taught me over the years:

  • Soul mates can come in all shapes, sizes, and species.
  • Our love for them never dies, even when their bodies do.
  • Their love for us never fades, even when they leave this earth.
  • The love that you shared never ends; it remains with you forever.
  • The unconditional love they offer us is a gift.
  • We often take this gift for granted.
  • These gifts teaches us how to love ourselves unconditionally.
  • Great loves teach us what it really means to love others unconditionally
  • They teach us how to love and appreciate ourselves every day.
  • Love is right there, waiting for us to see it.

 

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.  I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you.  ― Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets


These souls are just a few of my Great Loves:

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Love doesn’t make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile. -Franklin P. Jones

 


Make Every Day the 14th!

Whether you are sexy and single, miserably married, happily hitched, blissfully bonded, proud and poly, or silently separated, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be something we dread.  February 14th doesn’t have to be limited to cards and candy.  And it certainly shouldn’t be limited to the human loves in our lives.

Just think about all of the love we are missing out on if we only include the people!  Your Valentine could be sitting right next to you now, purring in your lap, or wagging a happy tail as you enter the room.  Your soul mate could be covered in scales, or brightly colored feathers.  He could run like the wind, or she could soar like an eagle.  True Love is not limited to human form.

Expand your horizon.  Look for love in all of the animal relationships in your life.  Your cat is not just a cat.  Your dog is not just a dog.  Your horse, rat, parrot, pig and lizard aren’t just pets.  All of them could be some of your greatest loves.   They can be your Valentine, too!

Learn to see love everywhere.  Look into their eyes and let them reflect love back to you.  Animals can be the bridge to the kind of love we are looking for … if we allow them to be.  Their love is the kind of love that is everlasting.  And it’s right there in front of us.  We just have to recognize it and accept it. Let that love in.  If we learn to shift our perspective to recognize all of the loves in our life, we may learn to look forward to February 14th!

Let’s make every Valentine’s Day about the great loves in our life.  Years ago I adopted the famous phrase in Outkast’s song, “Every day’s the 14th!” , to remind myself to give my love to them every day, to accept their love every day, and to remember the love we shared every day. – Not just on Valentine’s Day.

true Love_conscious companion_valentines day for pets_great loves_soul mates 2

 It seems to me that love is everywhere.  If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around. -Love Actually