Today I lead an Animal Experience to the Heron Rookery. This is an opportunity to observe animals in their natural habitat while holding an intention or a curiosity of learning about life from them.
While researching Herons as a totem I listened to my body to feel what resonated with me and then formulated it into an intention - a curiosity to learn from the Herons. Here is what resonated:
Heron symbolism is asking you to follow your path and not those of your peers.
In other words, heron meaning is asking you to find unconventional ways
to be self-reliant and productive.
xThe Heron Rookery overlooks the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. Boat traffic is going in and out all day long from the Puget Sound to the fresh water of Lake Union and Lake Washington. There are 25 heron nests high up in alder trees swaying with the wind in various stages of construction . Holding my intention of wanting to learn self-reliance I observed a pair of herons who were adding new twigs to their nest. The gatherer heron would stand on the edge of the nest open his wings and glide forty feet down and over to the same tree to gather twigs. For his return he launched himself into a graceful half circle to alight on the branch of the nest and tight walk over to his mate. Usually there would be an elaborate welcome of necks extending and beaks raised to the sky before the twig was exchanged and tucked into the nest. They would be with eachother looking at the nest and then off he would go again.
The gathering Heron taught me about how self-reliance can be effortless and easy. It does not need to be hard and exhausting. The receiving Heron taught me about celebrating and acknowledging the effort. As well as accepting the resource and putting it to use. The pair taught me about being, pausing and being. Then letting the moment inform the next action needed. And then effortlessly letting the energy flow into the next self-reliant action.
What a delightful way to start the morning and allowing the teaching to ripple through me day. Thank you Herons! The web of life is always engaging with us for we are all interconnected.
The web of life is always engaging with us.
Why do we share our lives with animals?
What do they add to our lives that has us so devoted to them?
Humans express their love to their animal companions in so many ways. Getting the best food possible, walking them, playing with them, brushing them, taking them to the vet, snuggling with them, training them, cleaning up after them, making sure they have enough mental stimulation and the list goes on and on. Why do we put so much time, effort, attention and love into these furry beings?
I believe its the unconditional loving presence that they hold for us.
No matter which way you show up they are there to just be with you. You! You just as you are! They meet you where you are at:
They are not asking you to shake it off or change your attitude and yet being around them your energy may shift. Scientifically this is because they are releasing oxytocin the bonding hormone.
Animals are excellent teachers of being present.
They are present in the moment not thinking about the squirrel at the park that outsmarted them, or the hiss the neighbor cat threw their way. They are in the moment. Seeing you, being with you, loving your for being you in whichever way you show up. Gifting you with a great template to love and accept yourself.
Since animals are teachers of being present and embodied. I invite you to take a moment to allow your sweet one to show you how much he/she loves you. Pause... breathe.... settle into you body... taking a few deep breaths to connect with your heart. Then gently imagine a beautiful river of love flowing from your heart to their heart and then ask them how much they love you? Animal communication happens really quickly so be open and aware of the first feeling, thought, sensation, smell, image or emotion that appears. Allow that to be the answer without much thought. Sit with the sensation for a few breathes. Acknowledge your body for the great job listening and then you can send love back to them.
Enjoy being present and allowing in the expressions of unconditional love.
I have been pondering gratitude and the expression of it on my long walks that Prince, my dog, invites me on. When we are in the woods and he is running with other dogs and chasing balls I can feel the gratitude radiating off him with his big smile on his face and his responsiveness. As well as in the evening after he and I have had a session of tug of war or wrestling he settles down with a happy sigh. Then as the evening progresses he will check in on what I am doing throughout the evening with more of a “Hey, now what’s going on?” attitude compared to an exasperated “When are we going to play?” sighing attitude.
His attitude of gratitude invokes more engagement with me. Curiously I wanted to explore the feeling of gratitude which leads me to a blog post about “What is Gratitude?” which explained
Gratitude is both a feeling and an attitude, thankfulness is the demonstrative expression of it, whether extended to ourselves or others. We can express thanks in words—spoken or written—or in deeds, by extending time, resources, or gifts to support people in unexpected ways or to help those in need. Appreciation is the recognition of that which makes us feel grateful, and can also be expressed internally or externally. Gratitude often ignites acts of generosity; we are moved to offer ourselves to others without expecting anything in return. Buddhists refer to generous acts that are freely given as “royal generosity.” These are just a few of the qualities related to gratitude. The expression of gratitude creates an opening that invites many other positive states and experiences into our lives.
Prince’s clear expression of gratitude does create an opening that is inviting more bonding moments even if it is just an ear rub and a kiss. His embodiment of gratitude is teaching me to be present in the moment of the expression of energy I am radiating out. Am I clearly communicating energetically and verbally my gratitude in the moment? And what does that feel like? Each situation may be different and I am starting to track the moments I feel most alive and full of gratitude. The times that are the easiest for me to track this feeling is during a conversation with the animals, healings, teaching or leading ceremonies and I am grateful in those moments because I am so present.
Now can I cross train myself to feel the gratitude and the aliveness when chopping vegetables for dinner? Or when I am in conversation with a person who has opposing views? Can I be present and not get lost in distraction and thoughts?
According to ANGELES ARRIEN From her book Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life
When people in great numbers choose to practice, integrate, and embody gratitude, the cumulative force that is generated can help create the kind of world we all hope for and desire, for ourselves and for future generations.
I am thankful that I share my life with Prince, who can teach me about being present and embodying gratitude and exuding it with great clarity in the moment. I can then help create the world based on gratitude, kindness, compassion, and equality.
So this brings me to my gratitude for my clients, students and teachers and their animal companions and for the opportunity to be part of such deep and heartfelt conversations, healings, teachings, and ceremonies. Each conversation heightens my awareness of the depth of compassion and love that our animals have for us. Since the animals live in the present and are so attuned with the flow of energy they are skilled guides of balance and guiding us to the road back home to the heart, self, being here now and expressing ourselves in the moment. I often think of their role in the family as the family system therapist knowing when to demand attention to get their people off the computer, knowing who needs a snuggle or a long, long walk to help their person reconnect with nature and themselves.
To echo the animals in the advice I have heard repeatedly throughout the year
“Tend to yourself as well as you tend to your animals!”
Take yourself out on a walk, lay down and snuggle when you are tired, close the computer and look at the beauty that surrounds you may it be a ball at your feet with an eager dog to catch it or a demanding cat on your desk. Be present with the moments of life.
Originally posted Nov. 23,2016
I went for a walk at the beginning of the new year and pondered the question, “What can we expect in the coming year and how can the animal's guide us?” As I asked this question I felt the wise counsel of spirit animals that are my frequent helpers join me.
According to the animals, the theme for us humans in 2016 is being physically present in the moment.
They acknowledge the brain as a fabulous tool and encourage us to take breaks from being thought driven and let the brain rest for long periods. During these breaks, they invite us to tune into the body’s innate wisdom by exploring the different ways the body listens, gathers information and sends signals. It is through this exploration that we will gain an awareness of the complexity of the human body. According to the animals, listening to and honoring the information received from the body strengthens and helps to build the intuitive muscle and opens us up to being more present in the moment.
The animals then reflected on the inner turmoil of humans that comes from denying our wildness, which is the very essence of who we are as individuals. They encourage us to embrace our unique gifts, whatever they may be, with loving self-acceptance. The wise animals want us to understand that once there is peace within, the outside world will come more easily into balance and alignment.
It is the hope of the animals that we can become aware of the support and teachings they have to offer and that we are open to their help. A simple way to begin is by observing our companion animals for lessons in how to be present and more balanced in life.
They also want us to consider that when animals present themselves to us in dreams or in the physical world in unexpected ways it is a message to look more deeply into what that animal represents. The internet is a great resource for information about animal totems. Once you have some information you can start asking that animal totem for help and guidance in your life, letting it lead you to a new way of being.
Recently, some friends and I observed a Canada goose standing atop a tall tree stump overlooking a pond. Normally that perch is occupied by a blue heron. We marveled at the oddity of seeing the goose on a stump so high up as if he was overseeing his domain. I whipped out my phone and did a quick Google search on “Goose as Totem”. The wise web revealed to me that Goose medicine is about "Communicating your need to others – no one can help if you don’t speak out." This spoke volumes to me and reminded me throughout the day to communicate more clearly. Thank you, Goose.
The animals ended the conversation with a simple catchphrase for 2016
Become human beings, not human doings. Websites I often refer to when searching for messages from totem animals.
Originally posted Jan. 2016
This blog was posted on July 2, 2015.
My daily morning walks, with my fine companion black lab Prince, are spent in prayer and being present to the gifts of the natural world. Last night was the Capricorn Full moon, which invites us to step out of victim hood and align with the truth that we are a powerful being. As I was walking in the woods I was pondering on this invitation and then looking ahead to what it would be like starting today with me owning my power.
Through a combination of praying and storytelling I was weaving a vision of dreams being fulfilled of working with kids, animals and the natural world in learning how to accept our own individual powerful gifts and magic to serve the world. This prayer dream included that all the arenas in my life that I am responsible being fully resourced and supported: as spiritual being, wife, mom, friend, ceremonialist, animal communicator, daughter, sister, business owner, community member, human being. I dreamed everything flowed with ease and grace and aligned with my dream and there was space – meaning literally space – time, physical space, resources for my dream of working with kids in collaboration with animals.
At that moment, one crow gave out that emergency CAW that signals intruder. As I looked up an owl clutching a dead rat in one talon swooped out of the tree to alight on another branch close by. The crow continued his cry for help and was dive-bombing the owl. I have observed this behavior of crows ambushing an owl often and usually the owl hunkers down close to the trunk and waits out the crows. But not this morning this owl went after the crow. Hopping with one talon as the other talon clutched breakfast defending and fighting back. As more crows arrived to join in the fight the owl did not back down. He finally flew off with crows chasing him to a tree with denser branches to dine. The crows did not let up but the owl ate and defended at the same time.
The message that I loudly received while standing there from the owl was nourish my dreams. No matter the amount of distractions, naysayers, and things that are literally calling out for my attention that the most important thing is to keep focused on what feeds me. For my dreams to manifest I must protect my dreams and keep feeding them. Also, the crow’s message for me was to keep my eyes out for intruders that are taking my resources that feed my dream. And to call out for help loud and clear when I need help staying on track and focused on my dream. I stood there awhile and let the messages sink into my body. As I began to walk on I looked down and there at my feet were both an owl and a crow feather a talisman gift to remind me of this important lesson from these amazing teachers.
Wisdom from a Downy Woodpecker to my question of "Why are you going from small branch (twig size) to small branch getting bugs when you have that incredible beak to drill for bugs?" It replied "I use my imagination when getting food. My beak has many uses and this is easier at the moment." It got me thinking about how I limit myself at times with my tools and gifts thinking life has to go a certain way or this is the only way to go about something. Using my imagination and looking for the most efficient and easier way at the moment is refreshing. This is a blog from 2015
An orb spider offered me some food for thought. As I was standing observing her web bouncing back and forth in the wind. I asked, "Aren't you nervous your web is going to blow down?" She responded "I don't cling to my web. I trust my web. If I clung to my web and tried to control the web it would surely break and I would get hurt." She then sent me an image of her being catapulted through the air after desperately trying to hold it all together. The fluidity and the sense of calm that radiated from her as she rode the web like a surfboard as it was bouncing, jiggled and wobbled was inspiring. So I ask you:
Do you cling to your web and hunker down during windy turbulent times?
Or do you enjoy the ride and trust your web?
Originally posted Sept 23, 2010