Set an Intention and Watch What Happens. You Will Likely Be Quite Surprised.

IMG_2137In the past few weeks I’ve set the intention to be more aware and open to the messages of animals. I shouldn’t be surprised at the ways in which the messages are appearing, but yet, I am.

Yesterday, I walked once again at mid-day with Kylie and Gidget along the wooded trail we walked the day before. I came upon this tree with a turkey feather stuck in a piece of the bark.

I let out a little laugh and wondered how the feather got there?  I suspect someone placed it there. But who knows, right? I don’t recall seeing it the day before. It brought a huge smile to my face as I pondered how it got there.

I didn’t know what type of feather it was at first. When I got home I shared the photo it on my facebook page and asked if someone knew what type of feather this is.  The resounding choice everyone said was that it is a turkey feather.

So I got out “Animal Spirit Guides” to see what Turkey has to offer me for a teaching.

It’s important to transcend the focus on your own needs to consider the greater needs of the whole, such as your family, community or world. (okay, so this absolutely applied for me in regards to family).

You’re about to receive a gift of some sort—material, spiritual, or intellectual—that could be anything from winning the lottery or a simple gift, such as witnessing a beautiful sunset. (today I had tea with my friend Marie and marveled even more what a gift of wisdom she is for me. Her gifts of spiritual and intellectual really spoke to me today).

Perform some act that honors the earth, whether a sacred ceremony or simply picking up trash. (This for me speaks to walking in the woods the last few days with my dogs and taking in the blessings of nature and being thankful for all it has to offer me.  Seeing the turkey feather which was likely tucked into the bark, was a ceremony in its own way by the person who placed it there).

Volunteer your time in selfless service with some organization that you want to support. (cool! I’ve offered two hours of my time to judge at dog Halloween costume this Saturday at one of my favorite places, Bookworm Gardens).

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it utterly fascinating how these messages from our animal friends are so aligned with where I am at in my life – small, beautiful confirmations of living from the authentic place of who I am.

…and the winner of the book “Saving Simon” is Vicki Wienrich!  Congratulations!  Thank you everyone for leaving a comment on the blog post. I always enjoy so much hearing from you.

Walking (Dog) Meditation

IMG_2130Being in nature is healing medicine for whatever may be troubling your mind — I’m convinced of that. This is what ran through my mind as I took Kylie and Gidget walking in the small woods near our home yesterday.

It really is like a walking meditation soaking in the crisp air, hearing the crunch of leaves below my feet and their paws, and the many smells that float on the wind.

I try to get the girls out for a walk around mid-day as often as possible because I know it is good for them. But how often I’m reminded it is just as good for me.

Just being with these two beings who don’t have an agenda, but to walk with me and enjoy the outdoors, is such a calming meditation. The spirits of animals that help you to slow down. Take in what is important and weave it into our days filled with many to-do’s.

These walks with my two favorite creatures is a gift. A gift of the here and now. A reminder to stay open to their wisdom as a guide to how I wish to live my life.

These four paws, two snouts, and deeply soulful eyes ground me time and time again.

REMINDER:  I’m giving away a copy of Jon Katz’s new book, “Saving Simon: How a Donkey Taught Me the Meaning of Compassion.” All you have to do to be eligible is leave a comment by midnight cst on yesterdays blog post here. I’ll be picking a winner Thursday using random.org (US residents only).

Book Review & Giveaway! Saving Simon: How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me the Meaning of Compassion.

simon bookAs many of you likely know, Jon Katz is my all-time favorite author. Whenever he announces he is working on a new book, I find myself on the edge of my sofa, eagerly waiting to curl up with a new book of his.

I have to say that I felt an extra bit of eager anticipation waiting for Saving Simon, as I’ve come to love and understand donkeys more because of Jon writing about them on his blog for many years.

I want to begin with my favorite passage from Saving Simon:

“When an animal guides you, emotionally and spiritually, it is not an obvious thing. Rather, they open doors indirectly, and then a domino effect sets in. They open up one part, and then that experience opens up another.”

As someone whose life has been positively changed for the better and enriched in ways I never saw coming because of caring for a dachshund that was paralyzed, I can closely relate to how the experience opens many facets of deepening in our understanding of love and compassion.

It was difficult to begin the story and read of the conditions in which Simon lived, so close to death when he was found and Jon, and his wife, Maria brought him to their farm. It brought me to tears and I had to set the book down for a moment.

But Simon was now in a place where he could heal and begin to live again. And in the process, as animals often do, they heal the humans around them, oftentimes without us even suspecting what is happening to us.

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Another passage from the book that touched me was this one:

And again, there was Simon’s spirit in my head. I can’t speak for what’s inside of his genial consciousness, but I can speak to what was inside of mine. From the first, I was struck by what I saw as the great trait of acceptance in Simon. People always spoke of him as being abused, rescued or neglected, but I saw no sign that Simon thought of himself in that way. Simon immediately got down to the basics of life—eating, walking, pursuing the girls, getting his ration of carrots and apples, getting brushed and fussed over.

This is what I’ve come to love deeply about animals. Their adversity to getting on with life despite what they’ve been through. Their ability to love again also speaks volumes.

Jon beautifully shares how Simon opened up a new world for him of understanding compassion in a way I’ve thought the same way in caring for special needs dogs.

He describes Simon as a magical helper, a spirit guide to help him on his hero journey. His helper appeared in the form of a donkey. Who’d of thunk, right?

But I believe our animal friends are calling out to us to be open to these important lessons to help heal our planet. Simon was just what Jon’s heart needed in opening to a new way of understanding. And when we open our hearts, we also open ourselves more deeply to understanding our fellow humankind.

Jon’s honesty in sharing how he wished to understand the farmer that had Simon before him, I found, to be extraordinary. In one aspect he wanted the farmer, who was so far down into despair after all he endured the past years of hardship, to snap out of it, he realized the farmer was beyond reach.

If we don’t feel for the human being who is so far into this dark place, how can we care for, and be open to the animals and planet around us?

To feel compassion for all living beings is what helps each of us to heal, just as Jon so beautifully shares through his story of Simon.

Simon, as I believe all animals are, are the definition of compassion. To now know Simon through the written word of Jon has opened another part in me that I welcome and am forever changed for the experience. Thank you, Simon….and Jon.

GIVEAWAY!  Leave a comment below by midnight cst, Oct. 22nd to be eligible for a copy of Saving Simon that I will be giving away. I will be using random.org to pick the winner and will announce on my blog on Thursday, Oct. 23rd (US residents only).