Category: Animal Companions

Being Present with the Wind

Being Present with the Wind

photo 7I was standing in front of the mirror completing the process of getting ready to leave when I glanced down the hallway. Ollie and Burton sat side-by-side looking at me. Their eyes were intensely focused, watching every move I made. They looked concerned and anxious.

A few tears moistened my eyes as I stopped drying my hair and connected with them. “I’ll miss you guys, too.” While I enjoyed my visit with my daughter and her husband immensely, the interactions between the furry boys with Em and Kev, with each other and with me enriched my visit immeasurably.

Earlier that morning, after their ‘parents’ left for work, I put Burton’s harness on and took him for a long walk…three laps around the neighborhood. During my stay I took him in the back yard just to stand and smell the interesting smells from the woods across the road, the wet ditch smells and the infinite variety of scents wafting from far away places. It wasn’t a potty break for him…we connected through our desire to simply stand in the breeze and feel it, smell its richness. With no agenda except being present with the wind. Ollie and I had another way of connecting.

photo 8Ollie is the elder of their home and the years are showing on his body. So this orange tabby boy and I would sit together as I laid my hands on his soft fur and offered Reiki (a form of energy healing) to him. We sat for long periods of time, connected by love and deep calm. Aging animal companions hold a special place in my heart so being with this star-player-of-epic-midnight-soccer-games-with-unseen-opponents was very precious.

photo 3It’s so easy to be with animals, to form friendships and offer love. What’s more difficult, at times, is to discern what they want or need and how we can provide it for them. I see them look at us with bewilderment that we cannot decipher what they are clearly communicating. We are not a species aware of nuances and non-verbal communication. Much of our instinctual abilities have faded as language developed.

photo 5For a treat, take a moment to see the world…to experience the world…through the eyes or nose of your animal companion. Feel the world open as your instincts and senses awaken. Allow everything else to fade and simply be present with your friend, be present with the wind.

 

Wille Fay

Wille Fay

photoMeet Willie Fay. Her story touched my heart and I couldn’t help but invite her into my home.

Over three months ago Willie and two other cats were tied together using plastic zip ties and secured to a veterinary clinic’s door. Two survived this strange ordeal. Supposedly the owner’s wife had died and he couldn’t keep the cats. Seemed a drastic way to find help for them but regardless, the vet clinic had them for three months when my mother stopped by to purchase meds for her aging labrador, Sambo.

She told me of meeting the sweetest, cutest cat and related the story. The next day she and I stopped by the clinic. I didn’t need another cat but I felt compelled to meet the little one. She was sweet-natured with colors that were wild and oddly placed…probably the reason she wasn’t already adopted.

I had another appointment that day but asked them to get her ready (shots, check-up, etc) and I’d be back later that afternoon to take her home.

photo 3The cat friends that live with me were not over-joyed at their new sister but then cats rarely like change–especially when it involves sharing with other cats. Stanley warmed up to her very quickly with minimal hissing and now, three weeks later, they are best friends. They create general chaos and mayhem as a team. Gracie has just now realized she doesn’t have to hiss to claim her place on the porch or in the doorway. So things are good in our home now.

Willie got her name from a great super-group of musicians called Willie Sugarcapps. For a couple of days I didn’t know what to call her. She was still very anxious but super-friendly with me. I was working at my desk and listening to the Willie Sugarcapps album and my new buddy climbed up on the recliner and fell asleep…blissfully, soundly asleep. She was so relaxed and so at-peace for the first time since coming to live with me I decided her name was Willie. Her middle name is for my mom, for finding her. It’s my mother’s middle name (don’t tell mom I told you).

photo 4Willie Fay is a wonderful companion. She follows me, talks to me, enjoys time on the screened porch and always appears grateful, sweet, kind…and wild. Please join me in welcoming her to a home of love, a home where she will be treasured and appreciated as a valuable friend.

If you can, please share love today…with an animal, child, adult, elder, place. There is always room for more love to be given.

 

 

 

I Choose Love

I Choose Love

simonelipscombThe past week’s meditations have been about connecting with animals…wildlife and domesticated. It has been challenging. Once we determine to be aware of what is happening in our world, we can never go back and forget. I discovered this while documenting the oil spill in 2010.

simonelipscomb (1)
Necropsy of young dolphin whose tail had been entangled in fishing line.

Ignoring news was my way to deal with the multitude of sins humanity commits against the planet. But when the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill occurred, I felt called to action. Ignoring was no longer an option. But it came with a cost. My life was changed and not in a good way. Once the blinders are off, there’s no going back into forgetfulness. No returning to blissful ignorance.

Fishing line discarded with hook...now embedded in sea gull's mouth/throat
Fishing line discarded with hook…now embedded in sea gull’s mouth/throat

So this week of meditating on animals has only served to remind me (as IF I needed reminding) of how humans perpetuate such darkness by our actions. Lack of compassion when killing for food, using fishing practices that harm sea turtles and marine mammals, not recognizing the spark of Spirit within all life….how can we do this and think it’s okay?

Northern Gannet being cleaned of oil in 2010. BP Deepwater Horizon spill.
Northern Gannet being cleaned of oil in 2010. BP Deepwater Horizon spill.

There are excuses for all behaviors we practice. Haven’t we heard them all? Sacrifice the land to drill for oil with fracking procedures. Pollute the rivers because it’s cheaper. Deafen dolphins, whales and other sea creatures just to test sonar. Is anyone else just fed up? The grief I carry within is so vast, so deep I truly feel paralyzed at times by it. I look in the mirror and am ashamed that I am human…part of a species bent on destruction and selfish greed…profit at any cost.

simonelipscomb (7)Joanna Macy teaches us to stay with our grief for it will fuel us to make positive changes. Right now…and for the past several months….grief has simply clobbered me. And I’m not writing to generate sympathy for myself…not at all. But it is time to simply be totally truthful  about what it feels like to be a human engaged in the planetary process…at least from my heart and mind.

simonelipscomb (4)I’m tired of pretending it will all be okay or things will magically get better. I am weary of humans ignoring responsibilities we have to clean up our messes and to stop doing destructive practices to our planet, each other…wildlife…domestic life.

simonelipscomb (3)I am crying out for an end to our closed hearts and an opening to love…to spiritual love that binds us to each other and all life. Living like we have been living is fast becoming an obsolete option. We have seen what living with closed hearts does to each other and the planet…ALL life on the planet. I refuse to live like that any longer. At the risk of standing alone I choose love. I choose an open heart!

800_1019I choose love. No matter the consequences. I choose love.

What Happened to Spring?

What Happened to Spring?

Pitcher plant sprinkled with dew.
Pitcher plant sprinkled with dew.

It was 80 degrees yesterday. This morning was warm and in fact, I had the doors open. It started raining and I went upstairs to finish cleaning my home. Then I began cleaning my desk and balancing the checkbook….which took a while. Suddenly I realized I was freezing.

The temperature had dropped and continued to drop as I hurriedly closed the doors and turned on the heat…again. And put on socks and a sweatshirt.

Spring arrived in January when my azaleas began blooming. They were bloomed out when winter arrived here on the Alabama Gulf Coast–somewhere around the beginning of March. Even though spring peeks through for a day or two, it has been very shy this year. The low tonight is near 40 degrees. This is definitely winter weather here.

Stanley Kubrick, my orange tabby companion
Stanley Kubrick, my orange tabby companion

With many of the past several days spent outdoors I really missed the sun, wind, soil….all the elements. However, today I simply wanted to cuddle in the recliner with a blanket made of orange cat boy. And though my productivity was high and the abode is now sparkling, I would like to send out an invitation for spring to return.

For the Love of Animals

For the Love of Animals

Stanley and Simone
Stanley and me

I grew up having tea time with my friend Bridget, a beagle. Our ‘cake’ was Bridget’s biscuits. Milkbone makes a very good tea cake…in case you are wondering.

Stanley Kubrick, my current orange tabby friend
Stanley Kubrick, my current orange tabby friend
Gracie, my darling queen of the manor cat friend
Gracie, my darling queen of the manor cat friend

My best friends have always been four-legged. Their unconditional love, acceptance and loyalty have been, without a doubt, vital to my happiness. It started with Bridget and then there were others…Freckles, Sarge, Inka, Jake, Pete, Ben, Jessie, Uriel, Stacey, Angie…and the cats Hazel, Maya and Maat and others that left too soon. And Yokie, Gracie and Stanley.

Tommy with my three year old daughter and me...1988-ish.
Tommy with my three year old daughter and me…1988-ish.

When I was 13 or so bigger four-leggeds came into my life…’D’ and Tommy (Tomahawk Red). Tommy and I participated in horse shows and my relationship with him was my most important teenage friendship. A short story I wrote about our relationship was published in WNC Woman and it remains one of my favorites.

My manatee friend...our story is in another blog post from January 2013
My manatee friend…our story is in another blog post from January 2013

Over the past several years there have been wild animals that became my friend in a moment, from first contact, and that heart-felt relationship has lasted for years..the memories still precious. Those would be manatees…flippered-ones.

Henry Flager, my salty sister Renee and her husband Hans' wild boy.
Henry Flager, my salty sister Renee and her husband Hans’ wild boy.

People that make room in their hearts for animals are worthy of their love, of that there’s no doubt. When we commit to a relationship with an animal, be it one that lives with us or a wild animal whose cause we champion, we make an expression of love and compassion. You, my friend, are worth caring for. You are worth the energy it takes to keep you well. Why is it so difficult to maintain human relationships when we do this so easily with animals? It remains a mystery to me.

Sambeaux, my mom's lab
Sambeaux, my mom’s lab

To all the animal companions I have known as my own ‘child’ or as friends in the wild or in other’s lives, I say THANK YOU! You make life wonderful!

Abbey, my friend's Phyliss and Bob's companion
Abbey, my friend’s Phyliss and Bob’s companion
Ollie, my daughter's companion
Ollie, my daughter’s and her fiance’s companion
Yokie, my true friend of many years...RIP buddy
Yokie, my true friend of many years…RIP buddy