Category: Connecting with Oneself


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.
lemon balm

My girls' gifts to the world

Eggs are a miracle of creation

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I’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 can 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!

Here’s a challenge to write a poem a day in April – bring in Spring with your creativity!

The WordPress.com Blog

Calling all poets! April is National Poetry Writing Month — NaPoWriMo for short. Modeled after National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), NaPoWriMo is an annual project encouraging poets to write one poem each day in April.

NaPoWriMo

We love discovering poetry in the Reader and are proud of the poets who call WordPress.com their online home, like Pushcart-nominated poet Kellie Elmore. If you’re an established or aspiring poet, or want to dabble in free verse, lyric essays, and more experimental prose, we encourage you to participate this month.

A poem a day

First time participating in a post-a-day project like this? We asked poet and publisher Maureen Thorson, the founder of this project, for advice:

Be open to the possibilities. The point isn’t to turn out a fully formed sonnet each day — although if anyone wants to try, I’m not going to discourage them! The point is to just…

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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 trunksThis is Lek Chailert, the founder of Elephant Nature Park. Make a choice to support her work at www.elephantnaturepark.org

Hello all you friendly followers!

If you want to keep up with what I’m writing currently, come to my new page at listentotheanimalsblog.wordpress.com

I will be focusing on posting actual communications from the wisdom of Nature, starting with the really neat ones from the whales of Panama in the last week.

Who knows what will be next?!
It’s all one big adventure now, isn’t it?

killer whale and girl

This is a second communication from the Whales of Panama who were there for me, when I woke up worrying in the wee hours of the morning, in New Jersey.

beluga white whale

“When you worry, you create circles that ensnare you and form tension in your body.  Why go there? We are here in solidarity, happiness and bliss, why not be with us?

When you feel sick at heart, turn your beating beautiful heart over to us. Let us nurture and cherish your heart-song and your soul-songs, let us sing your songs while you are too weak to sing them.  We will always sing these heart-songs, always while we still have breath in us and in the Beyond. We keep the rhythm of the Universe going. The tempo and the beat, we feel them and we keep them going. Feel the beat and keep dancing, swimming in the Sea of Life.  There is always a heartbeat and a rhythm to your life, and you decide what it is.

You can choose fast or slow, frenetic or peaceful, happy or sad, and we would say, choose the happy rhythm.  Choose the beat that makes your heart sing, over and over again. Feel for it, close your eyes and feel the heartbeat of rhythm that is your Breath. Relax into it. Let it pull you in the direction of Happiness, Contentment, Joy.

Relax into Life.

We want you to try this simple exercise and see if it connects you more with your Soul, your Happiness and your true Spirit.

Follow the Breath home to us.whale tail underwater

 

Full Moon Energy breaching humpback

“We have helped in the decision to plan the trip on the full moon week for a reason. Living in the water puts us in touch with with the flow of life and the full moon is a time of great activity and removing inertia, increasing life activities. Many babies are born near this time, and we are waiting to birth you each into a better way of living.

For those of you who feel ready to make a change of significance in your life, this is the week to come visit.  We don’t have the human names of astrological signs and planets and so on that will be in alignment during this time, but there will be a facilitation of great awakening and the adjusting of what is no longer working in your life. This adjustment may also be for what is working already, but that you aren’t quite fully aware of or fully appreciating.

This is one example of a situation where people’s tendency to “kick themselves” (we don’t do that :))because they “didn’t move fast enough” on a decision to “snag it”, or whatever the drama of failure is,  is once again wholly inappropriate. In fact, it is all perfect just as it all is. This will be be but one of the lessons we will be teaching on this 5 day journey- that situations where you think you’ve made the “wrong” decision, where you return to regret in your memory, are in actuality exactly perfect. We will help you to really feel that “rightness” inside you, that ease of knowing that all is right with your world.

The flow of water is universal and most powerful in the light of the full moon. We will be applying  for the permision to help you apply that flow to your life. 🙂  We repeat: Those of you who live in the past, or wish for futures that never seem to happen- this is the trip for you.  We will be using the power of this particular full moon to teach manifesting. To see the conclusive Beauty of each and every decision that “happened to you” in your life as just right. Perfect. Just so.”

This is the first of a number of messages from the Whales and Dolphins of Panama in regards to the 5 day visit planned for Sept 15-20, 2013.

ImageVisit http://www.listentotheanimals.com for more information

I don’t have pictures for this blog. You’ll understand why later.

The other day, after a glorious summer’s day of hot, sweaty, herb gathering and chicken tending, followed by a relaxing evening watching a favorite show with hubby, I decided to take a delicious shower before finally settling into a well deserved rest late at night.

As I stepped out, clean and wet with just a towel on, I noticed the bathroom door wide open and my nearby bedroom door was shut. Unusual. We have not closed the bedroom door in 17 years due to roaming German Shepherds who like to sleep with us, and in the past, a kid who might come and go in the night. I figured the door was open because of aforementioned Shepherds who like to check on my safety while I’m showering. However, the closed bedroom door was definitely odd.

“Why is the door closed?” I called out as I toweled off,  to my husband, thinking he was inside.

“There’s a Bat in there.” I heard from downstairs.

“Oh. My pajamas are in there.” I said.

“So is the Bat” he deadpanned.

As most of my friends know, I love bats. For many years while I earned my living as an Environmental Educator, I taught classes on the many benefits of living in harmony with them, and their documented social intelligence, economic and environmental boons.

However, late at night, naked, and half asleep is still not the ideal way to renew acquaintances.

Sigh.  I slipped into the bedroom, speaking softly to the still invisible Little Brown Bat. I knew s/he would probably have found a quiet little nook to re-evaluate this unfortunate turn of events. He didn’t want to be there any more than I wanted him to be there. I also knew it was likely a juvenile who was confused and most certainly this bat was more worried about me than i was about it. Important to remember when having to interact with another species is how dangerous that other species thinks you are. Hence, the quiet talk. The slow easy breathing and thoughts of how my only wish was to gather him up and gently escort him outside to the night.

Bats are vital – economically  and environmentally world-wide.  In 1994 (publication of the nearest book on Bats that I reached for off my bookshelf) more than 300 economically important plant species, producing over 450 commercial  products, were known to depend on bats for pollination in the Old World alone. For example, the Durian fruit contributes $120 million each year to the economy of Southeast Asia. (1994 data from my Golden Guide to Bats of the World).  This estimate has surely gone up since then. I invite you to look up current facts on Bats and all they do for us, and the current challenge they are facing. In our part of the world, bats are insectivorous and indispensable to maintaining insect balance for our crops and comfort.  Even the Vampire Bat (who only lives in South America) benefits humans by  having a component of their saliva that prevents blood clotting that may be used to prevent heart attacks in humans. Guano is not only a valued fertilizer but has bacteria in it that is used to treat  chemical wastes and in the production of gasahol and detergents.

I remembered that the Little Brown Bat doesn’t have a mouth big enough to bite me very easily with. Still, I don’t take chances, and I use common sense when forced into a situation of interaction. Having handled many of these while assisting Bat Conservation International with an Autumn Species Count many years ago, I still vividly remember late one dark cool night, being surrounded by hundreds or thousands of various species of bats as they darkened the stars behind them with their sheer numbers. They were having their last night or two of “partying” before hibernating. Swarming in a dense cloud, feeding on bugs to store up fat reserves for hibernation, making love, being social, and doing as yet not understood activities as they prepared for the long winter ahead, I was in complete awe of them. This time is important as the prepare themselves to make it all the way to Springtime without eating again or moving much.

We stretched a net nearby to interrupt the flight of what we hoped would be a representative count. All of us Naturalists then set to work gently extricating tiny bat feet and claws from the net, then sexing and identifying the species in our hands before setting them free. I started out with big leather gloves because I was a newbie then, and was a bit nervous. It soon became apparent that gloves were extremely awkward and just frightened the bats, as you really had to manhandle them to extradite them. So, off came the gloves. What I soon realized was that if I was calm and moved slowly and gently, the bats of whatever species would be placid and almost appeared tame. If I appeared nervous or hurrying, they would also often become agitated and sometimes even try to defend themselves from the giantess who was interrupting the party/shopping trip.  In a cloud that darkened  the moonlit sky considerably, as I stood among them, I marveled at how not even one ever bumped into me, though they swooped all around and close to me, catching bugs and doing who-knew-what.

Back to the present. Once I  had on some clothing, I evaluated my options. Having 35 years as a trained Naturalist and Wildlife Rehabilitator, a deep appreciation for the scientific order of Chiroptera, and being inoculated against Rabies, gives me a real advantage in such situations. I still do not handle bats (or any wild animal) with my bare hands. This is called common sense. My most used options are a box and stiff cardboard to sidle him into and carry her outside, or a towel to place over her and gently pick him up with wings pinned while carrying to the open window.

Once I found the little guy, at one point  he dropped down and landed on the back of my calves, as I was kneeling on a wooden chest. The  furry little microchiroptera looked very uncomfortable and as I twisted to try to pick her up, she crawled over to my other calf. It tickled.  Bats can’t take off from the ground like birds can. Totally different wing, bone and body structure make it so they need to drop down and take off from a height. The resulting swooping around a room that happened when my first pick up attempt failed, is the result of how awkward it is to fly in a tight space where you have to land up high enough to drop down for your next take off. The myth about bats becoming entangled in your hair is just that – a myth. When I was surrounded in the darkest night at the bat hibernaculum, while they swooped around and above me, not one ever touched me in any way. I was the only one who broke the polite and real distance bats prefer between us. If you’ve ever tried to swoop around a 15 foot square room with webbed wings, well then you’ll know why it appears that bats are coming at you  – it’s almost impossible to navigate gracefully that small a space while flying, even if you do have better radio radar capabilities than our military’s best.

Finally, I was able to very gently pry him from the stone wall where he was clinging, and quickly open the towel outside the previously opened window and watch him fly into the night. A healthy, grateful bat was gone, relieved to be far away from me, and most likely wiser for the experience.

FOOT NOTE
Most bats are clean, healthy and non-aggressive to humans. Precautions should be taken as with any wild animal, and people must avoid handling or unnecessary interactions (which most are). Rabies is present in less than 0.5 % of the population, a percentage no higher than what is observed in most other mammals. Like other mammals, bats cannot carry the virus without becoming sick and dying. Rabies does not spread extensively among bats and is only extremely rarely transmitted to humans. Fewer people have died from bat rabies in the last 50 years than have died from dog bites and bee stings in one year alone. That being said, if a bat appears sick, common sense must be used and greater care taken. Anyone being bitten by any wild animal should wash the wound well with soap and water and seek medical care immediately.

As I typed this title thinking of one idea, instead the movie by the same name came to mind. One of my old favorites. A vision of a life where old age becomes full of joy and contentment, with a new adventure to boot. That’s my vision for Old Age.

However, the reason I originally wrote this title was because of something I saw yesterday.

“What is this?”, you might ask. When I first saw it yesterday, it was  a mere net, a gossamer sheet of threads over a florescent green, bulbous and  huge caterpillar.  There were ants busily moving in, through and around the space being created as this net was spun, seemingly a happy part of the green worm’s creation.

I didn’t take a picture then because I wasn’t sure which way it was going. Somehow it appeared that perhaps this worm was on its way out. I remember thinking – how does a caterpillar come out of the cocoon, as a caterpillar? Am I missing something?

Yes, I was. When I approached the area I found it in this morning, I realized it was almost done building a very firm abode to rest in while it transformed into its next stage.

Wow.

Talk about creating your own safety. It seems like a perfect metaphor for the necessary times of introspection, meditation, rest, retreat and inner nourishment. Winter always seems like a natural time for this, but I realize that perhaps we need mini-cocoons – shorter periods of withdrawal, more frequently. Momentary retreats where we nourish and transform ourselves. Take an unkind word and change it in our heart into a more thoughtful one so that it doesn’t fester and burn. Keeping our inner Self clear and full of Light to support this vision of an old age filled with Joy and Contentment. I love that thought.

I looked again at the safety net and saw how common, ordinary bits of the surrounding environment had been utilized to form this shining gossamer fortress. A tiny piece of leather, a withering leaf, stems of leaves long gone. This is part of the way of thinking that permaculture comes out of.  To use whatever surrounds us naturally, is already present in our local surroundings, and utilize it to help create or reinforce the cycle of  life and make it better. Or in the case of this one, protect us from the environment while we sense and change and meld with our deepest desires.  There is a sense of completeness that comes from noticing local availability, and what is literally in our own back yard,  before having something shipped across the country or the world.

I am watching this Cocoon each day to see what miraculous creature will unfold from its time of introspection, or perhaps it’s just resting and nourishing its Self with beautiful thoughts and visions of radiant mirth. More to come.

Yesterday, as I watched the honeybees buzzing in my pumpkin patch, I marveled at them. It’s always exciting for me to see honeybees after they have been so painfully absent from our gardens, struggling with diseases I believe were brought on by persistent pesticides and a resulting weakened immune system.

Covered in golden pollen so heavy they can barely fly, they appeared drunk and immersed in revelry, a perpetual party of seeking out what they love and then immersing themselves fully in it.

What nourishes each of us? Conversely, what is it that slowly poisons us and therefore we need to avoid or protect ourselves from being exposed to?  What is it that we are inherently drawn to, and what attracts us because it is feeds the Core of our Being? What do we allow ourselves to get wrapped up in fully, before bringing it back home to nourish our family and friends with?

It’s becoming more and more important to me, no matter what,  to let my Inner Wisdom draw me to that which I know to be best for my Soul, no matter how it looks to a casual observer or critic who is on the outside looking in.

Can anyone else ever really know what nourishes each one of us us, and are they ever in a position to take it away from us simply with their disapproval? No.

My loved ones benefit when I am following the wild call of my Wild Heart. The critics will never be happy or smile at me, no matter how much I sing to them.

I know it’s time to pay more attention to what nourishes me, less time worrying about why people hurt each other, and then fill myself up with the nectar of life until the pollen is dripping off my sides.

Honeybees have the right idea.

Relax

In repose, our creativity is nourished. 
In relaxing, our bodies are nurtured and healed. 
In stilling our minds, we find peace.