Autumn paths of healing

THIS being pretty much my absolute favorite time of year in NJ for getting outside, I”m including a few photos from my walks in this newsletter.
Autumn is a great time to reflect and reevaluate what you are doing and where you are going in life. 
I find over and over again that our animals, whether cat, dog, horse or one of the more unusual ones, often can hold a part of the key to what the next most important thing to learn is. Being that our animals are sometimes closer than any of the human beings in our lives, they can sometimes reflect our deepest issues, needs and desires. If there is an issue that comes up in your life with your animal friend, have you tried asking yourself what gift this problem has in it’s hand for you? It’s a valuable tool to use.

MANY times when a client calls, distraught over an ongoing issue, and we have a consultation about it, an “aha” moment ensues. All of the sudden it all makes sense. Why there is an issue with this particular thing and how the solution is often part of their own healing journey. What a relief!

WE all have things we have been hurt by, and hopefully are healing from, each day. Life has a way of bringing up our pain so that we can clear it out and live a more vibrant life. If you realized that you have a code breaker living with you in your life, showing you how to heal some of your deepest issues, wouldn’t you take the time to listen and heed the call? Yes!

PLEASE take time today to look, listen and learn from what your animal friends are showing you. Just stop talking and listen, relaxing your body, and opening your mind. It could make all the difference to enjoying the rest of your life, instead of just living day in and out. Tap into the code of your best friend’s love and concern to see how you can improve both your lives.

SEE if you can find the young deer in the photo below. I was so proud of my doggo that he simply gave this little one a passing glance, then kept going at my side! This is a huge step forward for us from the day when he first came from the shelter to live with us, and I can’t express how grateful and thrilled I am with his progress. Training with empathy and kindness is a gift for both the animals and the people in their lives, never underestimate clear two way communication between people and their animals. 🙂

Experiences

As I sit here days away from taking off to Thailand by way of Tokyo (I just love the sound of those history enriched names) I contemplate, as ever, Life.

I’m sitting in my kitchen, looking out on the backyard, where I just hung out my laundry to dry. The bath towels and one sundress I unpacked from the attic and washed to take with me are whipping in the brisk Spring breeze, and the resulting flurry of colors and shapes has me mesmerized. I love it when the ordinary can transport me to reverie on the vibrancy of  life. Image

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m perfectly content – for this one moment in time- sitting here in my NJ kitchen on an April Fools Day, enjoying the fluttering of fabric and the play on my senses. I feel healthy and have been able to help out my aging parents in some small ways and that feels great. I had my family, animals and humans, nearby for Easter and still now I feel valued by all of them. That is pricelessly nourishing.

So, why am I going? It’s a short long time to be gone. Short time to actually experience all I want to experience. Long to be away from my animals. I know I have to, need to, experience other perspectives, other views and especially other cultures. To see options. Most of all, to be close to the elephants, on their terms. Whereas a few months ago I would have thrilled to see an image of “elephant trekking” I know now how sad and disturbing a sight that is. What the baby elephants have had to endure to grow up to be “trained”. To take a creature of such intelligence, beauty and sensitivity and subject it to the tactics regularly used in a ritual called the phajeen is beyond my understanding. I can’t bear to write about it quite yet, but here is a link to two fine travelers who explain more about it. http://imranandamber.blogspot.com/search?q=elephant+nature+park

All I can say about it at this point is that is an abhorrent practice and it reeks of slavery and subjugation of the spirit, which will always result in diminished human capacity. When we as a species allow such practices to go unnoticed and unopposed, we become smaller and meaner and it will always come back to haunt us in one way or another.

I will know more once I return. At least a little more. More about the culture, the ancient and wise culture that somehow allowed this practice to be born and to still exist. More about what an elephant feels like, smells like and thinks about all this. I won’t be an expert by any measure, but there is something so tangible and priceless about direct experience. Something, if done with enough authenticity and conviction, that can change your life and is, at the very least, worth more than volumes of book learning. And I love book reading!

Maybe I’ll come back a different person, forever changed by my experiences. Most likely I’ll come back a richer person, still the same but enhanced with a street (or jungle forest) wisdom that is only gained in one way.

Experience!

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Choices

As I prepare for my journey around the world, again, this time to Thailand to volunteer at an elephant rescue place, I reflect on why I am going.

Because it feels good to do so.

Is that such a foreign idea to most people? Is it just New Jerseyans?  I don’t think so. When I stopped at the bank yesterday to withdraw money, somehow I mentioned to the teller/manager at this tiny adjunct bank in a supermarket),that I was going to need this money because I’d had some hard knocks recently The look in her eyes changed immediately, and I suppose expecting I would sympathize, she began to tell me the long story of her life, a tale of struggles and past triumph, but always coming back to the present – now – the one where she hated her job and was completely miserable. I began to wonder why anyone would continue in a situation where they were so clearly miserable. So I asked her – “what are your choices here?” She stopped and looked at me in confusion. Why wasn’t I feeling sorry for her? Where were the pity phrases we utter automatically, condolences for her losing her vice presidential position that landed her here, in a job that paid her a quarter of what she had been making.  Didn’t I understand that she had no choice?

“We all have a choice” I found myself saying. She kept staring at me as if I was holding up the bank about to ask her to empty the safe. “If you are so miserable, why not make a change?” I said. This is particularly telling to me because I have been that woman at other times in my life, and I’m not going back. Not going to put energy into justifying my misery anymore. You can all hold me to this! As soon as I realize I’m doing it, I’m making a new choice – to what feels good now. This has been a lifelong endeavor, and so it’s particularly painful to see others still caught in the sticky grasp of  this demon.

Well, this woman was not going to give me my money until I commented on how awful her life was. I felt sorry for her, but mostly I felt repulsed about having to hear her insist she was a victim of life. Not because of her situation – I’ve been there myself too many times, but because of her disbelief in the idea that she had a choice, that she could make a new choice and create a better life- one where she loved it. In reality, the repulsion and how it bothered me after I finally left her window was from the recognition that I have made the choice to be like her at times, and how deeply painful – like self inflicted torture- it was. I reminded myself to let this serve as a cautionary tale for me, to send good wishes of change for the better her way, and to be grateful for once again returning from the dark side of pessimism to the joy of finding my bliss and leading it forward into a new life that feels good.

What really made me notice this dynamic was that this same scenario had been played out earlier at a swim class I had been a part of that morning. One of the students had monopolized the instructor’s ear with unrelated complaining chatter for most of the 45 minute class. It was my first class and I could have used more of the attention of the instructor, who granted, did an admirable job of throwing some instruction my way, in-between polite listening to this housewife brewing over storms in her teacup. Near the end of our time, I mentioned that I wouldn’t be attending soon because I would be away for awhile.

“Where? “ they inquired.

“Thailand, to volunteer at an elephant rescue facility.  I’ve always loved elephants and I’m really excited about this opportunity to be close to them and learn more about their life and their world”

The chatty woman who had spent the class intent on describing every problem in her life in detail, glared at me. “Boy I wish I could do that.” She seemed more angry with me, than happy for me.  I said “You could go.”  She did a double take and whirled on me, immediately listing all the reasons why she most certainly couldn’t go. I said, “Well, it is a choice. We all make choices and all these choices have effects on our lives. “

There’s nothing wrong with deciding to stay at home and be a mom and a wife in New Jersey, but it is such a downer when people start railing on how “lucky” you are when, in actuality, you made a choice and then another, and more choices,  because these choices are the most life giving, joy filled, exciting and eager-to-get-up-in-the-morning-for-things you could possibly create at this moment in time. I don’t want to be stuck justifying my choices to anyone, I want to be free to live, to enjoy, to find my passions and live them fully down to the very last day I have on this earth. There is a saying going around on the internet about rather than carefully creeping up to one’s old age, another choice is to come careening in, holding a spilled beer in one hand, and a winning hand of poker in the other, while cursing up a storm and laughing hysterically, with a bunch of friends at your side.  Somehow I like the latter image, returning to my Tomboy roots as I age, being like Idgie in Fried Green Tomatoes, aged in her 80’s selling honey at a warm southern hospitality roadside stand with her compatriots. And of course the honey is from the wildest of bees, which she still hand gathers on misty mornings, using her special bee-charming ways.  All in a place where wild bees still thrive and fulfill their place in Nature.  Although I did give up cursing on all except the worst of days quite awhile ago, I do like the image of a winning poker hand – implying that I am finally winning at this game we call life.

Yes, it really is all about choices. I am choosing to do what feels good and I’ve been doing it for awhile. I don’t always get it right, but that’s ok because as soon as you make one choice, if that was a mistake, there are 20 more choices waiting for your attentions. If I can only make the smallest increment that day toward feeling better, I take it. And if I can make a super leap into the trip of a lifetime, and it feels good to do so, then I do it. After that first decision, more choices come up at almost every moment to decide again to do what feels good.  I’ll keep making those decisions toward moving in the direction of my happinesses, making more real friends and finding freedom of spirit, for a start.

You can too.

lek with trunks

This is a picture of Lek Chailert, the founder of Elephant Nature Park in Thailand. Life can feel good while we are doing what we love! Make a choice to support her work  at www.elephantnaturepark.org