Lose the capture, receiving is believing

I fell into photography by accident. I didn’t really ever mean for it to get serious. At first it was a tool one winter to keep me enjoying the moorland when it was too cold for me to do my landscape drawings outside. I’d spent many months on the moors, working for hours on oil pastel landscape pieces, refusing to create them inside. I loved the atmosphere that came through when they were generated in the place itself, but when it got to the winter I hit a stumbling block. My hands just wouldn’t work for long enough in that cold! So I bought my first little point and shoot digital camera. Very basic, but really great for keeping up my momentum to be out in the elements in all weathers.

The first time I took my little camera up on the moors, I came across a group of three wild ponies walked up to where they were, standing right in front of them. I fully jan-feb2012 036expected them to move but they didn’t, they stood neatly in a row and let me take my time as I played around with the camera. It was an amazing experience, one that I look back on as formative – not just for photography in future, but also as the beginnings of my passion connecting much more deeply with animals. That passion has lead me to becoming an Animal Communicator. The more work I do connecting with animals, the more that fuels my passion for photography and vice versa. It’s something I never could have predicted happening but it’s the source of massive joy. It’s that joy that I dearly wish I could share with others. I work often with domesticated animals which is wonderful, but there is something magical about spending time in wild nature and learning how to get closer to wild animals too. The lessons for me are incredible and teach me a huge amount about patience and releasing all expectations of what may happen. I often go out with the bit between my teeth, itching to be on the land and with my camera, but I never, ever know what’s going to happen. I’ve rarely returned without something wonderful occurring, whether or not the photographs have turned out. I’m learning so much about not worrying if things don’t happen. In a culture where we are often so focussed on getting ‘results’ that are tangible and physical, I’m all for easing that pressure and enjoying experiences – whatever they bring. Sometimes all I have is a story. I can’t record everything, I don’t always have the camera ready and even if I do, some things are sacred and never can be ‘captured’.

It’s a funny expression to ‘capture’ or to ‘take’ photographs. I don’t’ really feel like I take anything at all. One of the great things that I continue to learn as an Animal Communicator is that moving towards an animal with an agenda, or too many questions, or just with too much intention, can be really counter-productive. Animals definitely know what we’re up to and if I walk towards a band of horses with an attitude to take something from them or get what I want, I’m sure they’d just play me for a while. They may even get really cross and shoo me off aggressively, disliking my energy coming towards them. Or they may run off before I get anywhere near them! I’ve definitely had it happen and it’s made me think a lot about my intentions when I’m hoping that I’ll come home with some lovely photographs. The thoughts I’ve come to have been to switch my approach so I never feel that I’m taking, rather that I’m receiving. That’s been the turnaround for me in all my work and it’s such a link between them all.

IMG_6402 - CopyMy relationship with domestic and wild animals has altered significantly – there’s been a lot of magic unfolding, more than I’ve actively noticed before anyway. I relish spending time out in nature and with all the creatures that turn up along the way. There have been many occasions where I’ve gone out hoping for something to happen and only when I give up on the idea of that and start my drive home, something really wonderful happens! Suddenly a herd of horses appear or I catch sight of some incredible flowers, or the grasses against the horizon line look particularly beautiful. I feel that when we are more deeply connecting and connected with nature, the world can look very different. As we work more and more with that connection, something develops – nature and animals love us to notice them – they love to be appreciated and greeted, to be respected and cherished. For me, that’s when photography comes alive, because it is about coming from the heart. It becomes filled with spontaneity and that is the essence of the natural world. It’s not a way of escaping from the world as some may think – but a way of more deeply engaging with all that is around us. Sometimes that’s beautiful, sometimes it’s brutal. Nature is, of course – all things. One of my dearest wishes would be to share how it feels to connect more with nature and our animals and how transformational that can be.

I’ve had a deep love of nature since I was very young but it’s been in the last few years that it has taken on another level. There is no doubt in my mind that the way I’ve learnt (and continue to learn) to listen to animals has changed me on every level. It’s this way of listening and slowing myself down when I’m engaging with the natural world that allows things to happen. All the meditation I did over the years didn’t quite get me to this place in myself. When I’m out in nature I feel absolutely free, I’m not trying to still my mind or quieten my senses, it tends to happen all on its own. This is what nature and the animals teach me. How to be still and how to be utterly in the moment. When a wild foal approaches me, there is nothing I can do other than to be completely in that interaction. When I see a flower that I can’t pass without photographing, that brings me into another kind of present moment. I’m totally engaged with that plant, with observing it’s beauty in new ways, seeing details and personality that I may not have noticed if I hadn’t stopped for a while. It’s amazing what can happen when we’re looking at the world with fresh eyes and senses.

Today I was on the moor with my camera. I came across a set of wild ponies I met a few weeks ago. There seemed to be two new foals amongst them which was beautiful to witness and one couldn’t have been more than a few days old. IMG_6392.JPGKeeping my energies very gentle, I approached the herd slowly, greeting them and acknowledging their new arrivals. Quite exquisite! They were so generous with me and let me in closer and closer, at first letting me in at a distance with the babies. Then within a short while, one of the young foals edged closer and closer, started sniffing my hand, then my shoulder and eventually he touched his head on my forehead, resting it there for a while. He even nuzzled in as if grooming. My heart filled with delight – a fullness that is hard to describe. These are wild ponies – it’s their rules, not mine so it’s always humbling if they let me near. It was a moment I wished someone else could have photographed, because I’d love to have shared that image or seen it for myself! I was so caught up in what was happening I have no idea how long I was there with him or that herd. Somehow time seemed to stand still. It could have been ancient or modern times, it’s that same connection that as inhabitants of planet Earth we have shared for aeons.

Maybe many of us seem far away from that now, but deep down I think we do feel that connection still, even if it’s buried away. Watching how many people get their phones out to snap away at the ponies or the Dartmoor landscape, it’s plain to see that our connection is not lost but merely dormant. Most of us delight in seeing wild horses run across the land, or lambs on the hills, our hearts flutter when we see puppies or kittens, we can’t help but admire the birds if we’re out walking. Most of us will feel upset if we see landscapes destroyed or creatures injured. When we deepen our bonds with all kinds of animals it is much more difficult to accept the horrors that they often endure because they are at our mercy. My dearest wish is that we choose to awaken our senses again and remember the beauty of connecting with many, many more species. It could be the key to drastic changes on our planet, changes that we so desperately need to make. Not just for ourselves, but for the welfare of our animals, the preservation of the natural world and the future of generations to come. I will say this time and time again through these blog pieces because every moment I spend in nature and with animals convinces me of how vital it is. And quite simply, because I hope in some way to share the joy and help to be part of the legacy for our amazing planet.

With gratitude and love,

Fi x

The whittling of a forest’s tears

A couple of years ago I came across a set of beautiful reservoirs right in the moor. I remembered them vividly in that romantic and nostalgic way. Driving out there again, filled with anticipation for the gorgeous forest around the waters edge, I turned the corner and my heart sank. What I hadn’t bargained for when I turned up was the sight that greeted me. What I hadn’t considered, was destruction.

A mass of felled trees, mostly pines were stacked up – part of the forest now barren and bare. The remnants of bark, branches and leaves were now dying back. Severed, rough and torn branches, sawdust, sharp cuts, tree trunks. IMG_3382The stacked tree-spines were numbered with spray-paint. It’s a sight that’s not unfamiliar, but often it’s removed from my daily life. But it has to happen somewhere right? So why not here. We need fuel and resources to survive, but coming across it first hand felt a shock. Much of the process that brings us resources, food and energy are far from sight. They often happen somewhere ‘else’. In many ways, I’m sheltered from that, especially living close to such natural beauty. On some level, I was being brought back to the truth – we do take an awful lot from our Earth. Simply that. 

I felt uncomfortable. But I wanted to sit with that feeling and dig a little deeper.  For such a lover of wood and wood fires – I wondered if I had the right to be upset? So I owned my part in all of this. I stayed with the trees, I walked further in and got a real sense of what was going on. Then I realised that it was something about the manner of the destruction didn’t sit well with me. I simply just didn’t like the feeling of the place. Getting close to the sawn trunks, I saw the sap oozing from them, like blood from a wound, the area around them felt like it had been trampled on without respect. This, I realised was the discomfort, rather than the harvesting. How could I honour the lives of these majestic beings that had been felled in their prime? 

As a long-term gardener I’ve spent so much time around plants and over the years my attitude to them has significantly changed. Since becoming an Animal Communicator, my connection has deepened and broadened not only with animals but with all living things – I experience our Earth as a whole being, understanding much more of my connection and inter-connection with all beings. IMG_3413Trees, plants, animals, humans, mountains, oceans, elements, earth, everything – it’s all part of one and the same. It’s all part of me and part of us all – we are inextricably linked. I wondered how different that place might have felt if the felling of the trees had been done with love, gratitude and respect? My experience of working with plants over the years has shown me some massive changes that can happen quite simply when love and respect is present. I’ve noticed how plants can thrive, I’ve also noticed how they decline. Our energy and our intentions count – they do and we do, affect those around us. I mused on that day about how differently we could do things.

When a storm happens and rips and tears things, that’s an act of nature. When we destroy landscapes and resources to get what to what we want, that is taking. And taking can’t happen endlessly without giving in return. How we approach nature, our needs, our desires, our survival – it is all set with intentions. Intentions can be fuelled with respect or lack of it. IMG_3533As a human living on this planet, just by being here I will use the resources that are around me – that is part and parcel of being alive. The animals do it, the plants do it, the oceans do it. We are all in co-creation with each other. The animals understand their part on Earth and know that that it is all an intrinsic balance. Balance is a moveable feast and goes on and off and must be re-dressed. So what was I going to do about that? On that day, what was I going to do about it? I looked around at that scene, the destruction, the desolation – knowing it was a drop in the ocean of what occurs. Then I saw a wren standing on the branches of a felled tree, I saw it dive into the undergrowth. I knew that there was hope. I stood by a tree stump and vowed to create something of beauty from that destruction and to bring it back to the site and photograph it there. Carefully selecting a couple of pieces of wood I returned home.

Having been recently inspired by several friends taking up wood carving, I decided it was time to start. I took out my unused tools and began to make a spoon. I whittled away at that piece of wood, I carved and carved. My hands got cut, my hands got blistered – I saw this as part and parcel, and the sacrifice I was making for the creation. It was nothing on the tree’s sacrifice. I felt my gratitude growing. At points I wanted to give up – this was seriously hard work! But the desire to finish, to feel that I had honoured my part of the bargain took over – on I went. Sitting amongst a pile of wood-shavings, I found myself going back into my roots, to some deeper part of myself that intrinsically knows that this is the thing to do – to create my own vessels and utensils, my own beautiful and functional objects to have around my home. No machine can do this, even buying from someone else cannot do this in the same way. However weird and wonderful the result, the satisfaction levels reached in creating something of our own are immense.

I’ve been an artist for many years, so I’m all too aware of the pitfalls along the way – much can be lost in the making. Some things break, right before fruition, some things just don’t work, some things look great and that’s it! I can see why we have little time or inclination to begin at times, but there is so much to be found in the making. I could never put into words the satisfaction that can happen. So I finished my spoon and oiled it with walnut oil and returned it to the forest, placing it on the tree-trunk. My heart began to balance and I filled with respect and gratitude. I had been able to honour that tree in my own very small way. From that destruction a new path of creation had begun. When I turned up that day and felt my heart fall to the floor, I never imagined the way things could turn around. 

IMG_3965

I urge us to face that which makes us uncomfortable and see just what we may be able to do to redress the balance. It may just surprise you, it may even fill you with hope and optimism about what is possible. It may fire you up to create changes of your own, however small. We can, together, move mountains. The direction is up to us. Please don’t let the desolation render you powerless, let it fuel your passion, let it be a catalyst for positive change. Let it fuel your power for creating the kind of world we wish to leave for the generations to come.  

With gratitude and love for the unexpected inspiration that happened that day in the forest. And for my very first spoon, carved from a forgotten piece of a pine tree….

Fi x

 

Listening through the bones

I would like to talk about death. Plain and simple, there it is. Hang on in there with me a moment and let’s get through that beginning – there is a story to be told. If you look closely, the natural world is a place where the battle of life and death plays out at every given moment. In previous posts I touch on this time and time again because I’m faced with it in my work – time and time again. Whatever the form life takes, all is in a constant state of change and flux. It is simply the way of things.

Driving over the moor today I saw the unfamiliar sight of an animal skeleton by the roadside. It’s not often that I see one and my inquisitive nature meant that we had to stop and walk over to take a closer look. I wanted to know if it was a wild pony as I expected it was. There was virtually nothing left on those bones but a solitary black hoof, a bizarre confirmation of the life that had been there before. img_2921-copyPart of the skeleton had gone, the remaining coat and mane dotted about in the grass. It was an eerie scene. As the skeleton highlighted the barren landscape further, my thoughts were drawn right back to base level – survival. There is something about being faced with this reality as part of life that always shocks me into the present moment. This knowing was brought to me by the presence of this pony, and I didn’t want it to go unnoticed. Or her. My work leads me to deepening my understanding with animals that have passed over or who are close to death. Listening to what they have to say at this point is extremely powerful. Animal communication is not limited to animals who are physically alive, but works also with those who are in spirit. Honouring that essential part of life rather than shying away from it is very dear to my heart, so I knew that coming across this skeleton was no accident.

I love the symbolism that is brought to us through the natural world, it is never lost on me. Why had we found her today? Only a week ago I’d mingled with the herd and it had been entirely different. As I looked over the remains I asked myself where was this mirroring my own life? I remembered that not all death is physical. As areas of my own life die back and fall away, I am stripped back to my bare bones – the bare bones of who I am. In some ways, I too feel exposed – almost skeletal. Yet I still live. Part of me feels like it has gone, but the essence of my being remains. That which has been let go has had it’s purpose, I can no longer carry all of me forward. Some things do have to be left behind to experience new life. As I observed the remains of this pony and let the reality of this sink in, I recognised that this was her gift to me. For this mare, her new beginning was to return to the Earth, to nourish the land and to be released from her body. Nothing in nature is wasted. The manner of her death was fully present – which by the roadside left little to the imagination. Broken bones and all. I felt saddened by how disposable life can be for our animals (and us). A vast amount of deaths happen each day but we are often shielded from that reality. I often photograph the very essence of life with the wild ponies, and it is fitting that the opposite should be given attention too. Balance must remain. We are all – bones.

Today’s parting gift was the message I felt from this mare which I am honour-bound to share. For me it remains a reminder to always embrace the beauty that life itself – is.

Calling from these bones, I ask you to remember the truth of who you are. You are just a dot upon this land and all of us have our allotted time. Do not fear death, do not fear life! It is but a snippet of time before all has passed and this physical reality is gone. Revel in it, celebrate it, dance with it and enjoy the companionship of all those around you – be they your blood kin or the kin of all life. See how my bones return to the land as yours will too some day? Does this make you uncomfortable? How do you feel as you look upon me now, dishevelled, bare and exposed upon the ground? We are no different you and I, not at this level – we all return to the Earth. What is important is how well you live upon the Earth whilst you are here. Can you make it count? Feel the harmony of your being, see the beauty in death and understand that in life all things must come to an end. Death is but a part of the cycle – it is the inevitability of change. In every moment of life there is death and re-birth. You are not immune – no being can escape this, no matter how advanced. This is the truth that binds us all together. We are but one and the same. We all want to live and there is value to all life. Yet day in day out life is born and life ends, life is born again. There is no greater truth than this.”

With gratitude and love, for this beautiful mare and her teachings….

Fi x

Dear Dairy, we’re dying to be herd

Last night I had the most beautiful dream. It is what I have been waiting for. It is more than two years now since the herd first came to me and asked me to tell their story. When I woke, I knew that now was the moment, there was no more time to waste. I couldn’t wait to get writing.

In the dream I was with friends. We wandered into a cafe for coffee and as this happened I noticed that there was a beautiful dairy cow standing outside. Then I realised that part of this cafe was also a shop, a butchers counter stood in full view. In came the cow and she sat down on the tiled floor, beautiful and majestic. Internally I gasped wondering what may be next. The sheer size of her was staggering. Her udder wasn’t over swollen, she just looked naturally as she should be. Next, in came her calf. He too sat down on the floor calmly. By this point I was over there standing with them, stroking and cuddling the calf – he had attracted quite a crowd. In this moment, the love between us was huge and this youngster was incredibly friendly and trusting, I knew it was unusual. In walked the farmer with fire in his eyes. I smiled at him and asked what this young calf’s name was. “oh no, we don’t name them” he said as I saw him choke back the tears “because, you know….” I looked at this man, puzzled as I still experienced the bubble of harmony and said “but… what?” I was baffled. Seeing this man’s hard exterior, the walls he’d put up to deal with his work, with the emotion behind those eyes – that look will stay with me. I’ve seen it before. I felt myself extend compassion to him, seeing his knowing. A young boy was also now stroking the calf, his parents taking photos. I noted the irony. Both these young males – one with virtually no life to live, the other with it all ahead of him. One born to captivity, the other ‘free’, probably not yet knowing anything of the realities for this gorgeous animal he felt nothing but love for. Further inside the room, another young calf had come in, this was one of those gorgeous tan-coloured cattle that I have recently been so captivated by on the moors. He too had settled on the floor, right by the meat counter. Even more irony. I sat down by him, gesturing to my friend to take photos, I knew that there was magic present that would never come again. Never with this chap. I wanted to record this, to share it with the world, so that people could see the possibilities. He placed his head in my lap and I cradled it in my arms. The weight of it was incredible, and he closed his eyes in a sublime expression as I stoked and cuddled him. I closed my eyes too and felt the love, the trust, the divinity of this animal. I merged and melted into his energy. I have never felt that calm. It was incredible. He was smiling, as was I. There was a crowd of humans at this point, all taking photos. Even in the dream, I noted the irony of what was happening. Yet these animals were teaching us all in that place. Their presence created both discomfort and love. Their presence begged questions to be asked of all who were there observing.

img_9703I woke with such a smile on my face, a knowing that I had been helped by the herd to write this. The love that was brought with their message has overwhelmed me, but it has not surprised me. This piece, more than any has taken a very long time to write and form, probably because of the complexities involved. It is no easy subject. I read recently that we are all free to do as we please, but we must be ready to face the consequences of our actions. The more I have learnt about the dairy industry, the more this statement won’t leave me. Our behaviour towards animals sometimes staggers me and leaves me more uncomfortable than I can say. I have to admit that I wish we could go back to a world where we experienced much more balance with our animals, where we knew that to have some milk from a cow was a privilege, one that she bestowed upon us if we were lucky. After-all, it really is hers for her child, not ours to take. In my ideal world, we would have many animals around us that we are in relationship with, and we would respect them dearly. If they chose to give us milk, or their life, it would be with enormous gratitude that we would have this exchange. For me, this is where the balance has gone completely off kilter – we are very distant from what is needed to create the food that arrives at our tables. In our need to feed ourselves, which is pressing and all-encompassing, the how’s and what’s can be lost in the middle somewhere. We simply can’t engage with that. To not think about it is, a lot easier on the heart. I’ll admit that.

Last night I saw a post on social media about a young calf, a baby boy who had been at an animal sanctuary. He had been rescued and then, so sadly, despite massive efforts, had died. He was born to a mother who was a dairy cow and there was no use for him. He had been cast aside like a waste product and some kind souls had taken him to love and care for him. He had had less than three hours with his mother. No bonding for either of them. He is one of hundreds of thousands. The thought of that if we relate it into human terms is excruciating – imagine this for a moment and just sit with it. So why does it happen? And why do we consume so much? I can only think, with compassion in my heart, that most of us simply don’t know, and we don’t know what the alternatives are. It took me a very long time to understand, but there is no going back from knowing. There are alternatives. With rising dairy ‘intolerance’, the range of plant-based milks has multiplied, and now we do have choice. I read also that New York’s last dairy farm closed down recently, a real marker that people were changing. That filled my heart with hope. I do think it is made pretty difficult for us to find alternatives and whilst the demand continues, the supply will too. If our demands change, the supplies do – I live in hope that these small indicators of change will create much greater ripples. If alternatives can be made affordable, so that it doesn’t always become a question of economics, then changes really can become reality and quickly. I cannot remain silent to the disposable approach to animals, nature or Earth. Aside from the issue of money and many of us being on tight budgets, the costs for us, our animals and the planet are – huge.

I have spent a lot of time around cattle recently. They roam relatively freely up on the moor. There are many varieties and they are hardy souls. I have been humbled completely by them. I’ve spent hours photographing them. Watching the herd, seeing each individual face, their behaviour, you begin to notice how different they all are, if you spend longer, the connection can be quite extraordinary. I have felt the energy of those young pregnant females, so vulnerable yet curious. I have engaged with a highland cow with an intensity between us that blew me away. I have learnt so very much from them. On the other end of the scale, in the summer I stood with a herd of dairy cattle at a field gate. They gathered around in curiosity, taking a long time to trust coming over from the hillside. One cow in particular repeatedly nudged the gate, becoming more and more agitated. I felt her frustration, her anger – more than anything I felt her sadness. That sadness swelled inside me, in an incredible frustration, a knowing that I (she) had no choice. (I use the word ‘I’ because in that moment I was merged with her energy and felt it as mine, the knowing ran through my body). I simply couldn’t release the emotion, it was too much to bare. As I looked up at her again, I saw that tears were falling from her eyes. I was staggered. There was nothing I could do to stop my own as they ran in torrents. I could give those cows no solace, no explanation, I could only apologise. “When are you going to tell our story? she said. And here it is, from their point of view.

Two years ago the herd first came to me. I was meditating in the mornings with the purpose of tuning into the energy of the Animal Kingdom as a whole, asking for any guidance, any wisdom, any messages they had to share. I would sit in silence and wait. For a week or so, the cattle came. They joined me in a barren dust-bowl of a desert, the soil exhausted. They came from as far as the eye could see, stretching out to the horizon line as the sun was setting. I sat down amongst them and they circled me calmly and sat down themselves. As I was amongst the herd, they spoke to me of industrial farming, and the drastic effects that they were having as a species on the planet. They were so frustrated, they had no choice. As far as I could see in my mind’s eye, they stretched out to the horizon line. They were aware of their fate. One after the other they dropped away. I can only imagine they were trying to show me the velocity of their numbers being born and dying – it was so quick. I felt that they didn’t want to be a part of this huge imbalance on Earth, that they simply were prisoners of a system, one that has got so out of hand. Yet they sat in that desert with me, so calmly and so full of love. My resounding feeling from them was they just want us to realise what is going on, to wake ourselves up enough to understand. The weight they are carrying for us is huge. They urge us to change.

It doesn’t matter how nice dairy tastes, or how much we want it, or how we may want to eat quantities of meat – it’s the balance that is way off. It’s not our right to continuously take without gratitude, to endlessly drain the Earth of her resources. To take what we need is so very different to fulfilling our greed. Nature and the animals call us back to balance, they cry out to us. For those that are able to make choices and changes, to not eat so much meat or animal products, for those that can reduce that – it will and does, make a difference. Deep connection with nature can teach us the beauty of interconnection, bringing us back to the knowing that we all matter. We are in this together, all species, all life. This is one big relationship we are in on Earth. I hope we make it through the bad patch, right now, it is messy.

Everything that we receive, which sustains us, is a blessing. For every piece of food, every animal born, every vegetable grown, there is sacrifice.  To be able to sustain our lives is a blessing. I don’t ever want to forget that balance between sacrifice and life. My dream this morning woke me to the wisdom of the herd, loud and clear. At last I have honoured my part of the bargain and  shared their story. It is a weight off my mind, but not my heart.

img_9533

For the herd and all your teachings, your wisdom is immense, your sacrifice – greater. I live in hope that we may change.

With gratitude and love

Fi x

The bearable lightness of bee-ing

A surprise visitor flew into the kitchen tonight while I was making crumble. Minding my own business amongst the chopped apples, pears and sultanas, a bee wound its way through the fruit-laden airwaves and settled down on the chopping board. I watched it moving around and thought to myself that it was probably best if I could get it outside again. So I put my hand down, letting it climb on, attempting to burrow in between the creases between my thumb and forefinger. While it was probing about for moisture, I took it to the door, opened my hand and gestured it to go. Off it went, back I went to the cooking. Within five seconds, my visitor had returned. This time much more adamant to stay amongst the activities, resting once more amongst the ingredients. So I poured some sugar and water into a spoon and dribbled that onto the apple it was seeking moisture from. A good few minutes were spent like that, me with a smile on my face thinking that a few years ago, even as a nature lover, I didn’t have this understanding of communion, conversation and relationship that is possible (and perfectly natural) with our fellow living beings. Obviously, if you are allergic to bees then that is an entirely different scenario! But luckily for me, I am not. So the bee hung out in the kitchen for a while, supping water and enjoying apples. Eventually I got it onto my hand again, from which it flew up around my face, moving in-front of my eyes, finally hovering right between them, suspended in the air, it waited. With no fear, I stood there, feeling the magic of the moment,if a little cross-eyed. Finally the bee rested  down again and I took it outside where it reluctantly sat on the wall. I really did think it might come in again for round three….

I love bees. If you have read my very first post here, you’ll know that my earliest memory was of a bee stinging me as I carried it cupped between my hands to show my mother. It’s taken a long time to stop this fear of being stung that developed so early and my guilt about that bee dying as a result. To come that far has been pretty exciting for me and invites a great deal more joy when various creatures turn up. Instead of madly swatting them away or feeling fearful, being still and centred is a lovely way to interact. It’s got me thinking to various experiences with bees recently. Last week I had several fly around me in this way – hovering for quite a while, making a point of announcing their presence. My knowing tells me that they are really urging me to share some of their magic with you, and their stories. I asked this lovely young bee in the kitchen tonight why it had visited? Open to any insights, I felt that it was a very definite reminder of industriousness. I was told to remember that about myself and to share that… Industriousness can be effortless and need not be a chore! Working together is also very important and remembering that we are individuals gathering together as a collective, not living in isolation. Everything we do has a ripple effect on others, just like the bees in their hives and every single plant they pollinate – growth comes from action. Bees really are incredible helpers and powerful too, as I have been learning repeatedly, recently.

A few weeks ago I took a walk along the river with a dear friend of mine. I wanted to show her a particular wild-swimming spot. We had the company of Roxy too, a gorgeous welsh collie that accompanied us for the day. She was very excited to have some ‘girls time’ and this long, luxurious walk. It takes quite a while to get to this particular spot, but when you do, it is well worth that magic. A long stretch of water awaits, but as it was the summer holidays, it was a little less quiet than usual. Never mind….. As we sat there and observed a few others swimming and catching sun like lizards I noticed a small bumble bee on the ground. I didn’t want it to get trampled so asked it to step on my hand for safety (you’ll get used to me ‘asking’ creatures things over time). On it walked and stayed surprisingly relaxed. I took it to various plants and flowers, suggesting comfortable places to go but it wouldn’t budge. I sat down with the bee on my hand and resigned myself to stillness. It washed itself, it moved its wings and walked around a little bit. I noticed that it seemed tired and offered water with no interest shown. Several minutes later there it remained, becoming very calm. I relished this moment and suddenly had the feeling that it was dying.

My heart felt heavy, but I watched and observed this beautiful creature as it went through moving and fidgeting – feeling it trying to let go but not being able to. Having experienced the death of my father, it was so humbling watching this bee going through rhythms and processes that I recognised from being with our Dad. It may seem odd to consider that these tiny lives and consciousnesses have a similar connection to their lives and not wanting to go. It’s easy to think that because they are smaller than us and do not communicate in the verbal way that we do that they do not feel an attachment to life and death. But, through my experiences, I know that this is not the truth, it is just different. All life matters, no matter how small and the connection to life is powerful. As this bee was trying to let go of life, it was clear that it didn’t want to go (and I did not want it to go). Again, reflecting on my father’s own struggle at that last point of his life, I remembered that it feels important to thank an honour every life, especially at this incredibly vulnerable and final point of earthly reality. It’s also worth pointing out that this interaction was also deeply healing for me, bringing up various aspects of my own experience and grief. So my personal belief is that animals turn up to help us with our own healing too – a reminder again, that we are in relationship with each other, not separate.

Slowly this bee slipped away, but as my friend commented – it was doing a really good job of hanging on for longer, it’s threads of connection to life were strong. Eventually it let go and died. I realised I wished to thank it for all that it had done and to honour its purpose. So, very gently, I touched it on its back and thanked it for everything it had done and for its life’s work, saying how deeply grateful I was, and we all are, for what they do. I felt it’s life force, the strength of purpose in that tiny body, I felt all of that leave and peace washed over me. A tiny, yet mighty life.

There are maternal instincts that are present in us all, whether they are dormant or awake or not even known. My belief is that they are there. Even with a tiny bee or ant or whatever, there can be a connection, a relationship, a feeling to protect. When approached with love and compassion, our world and interactions with other species really do take on another form. All that aside, I’ll admit I’m still fairly scared of hornets, although even that I have challenged within myself. It’s taken me a while to be able to sit with wild creatures, (sometimes injured) and do nothing other than to ‘be’ with them. Sometimes, all there is to do, is to wait whilst they pass over. Sometimes they have given me the shock of my life and had their second-wind and disappeared with great speed back off into the wilds!!! There isn’t always a way of knowing. Because animals are so in the moment, I’m learning that an injured bird can think it is going to die and be very convinced of it, only to somehow call back its life-force into that body and fly away. As an animal communicator, everything is about being in the moment. It’s a continuous learning about how to be present and to ignore the ‘rational’ mind, to let that deep knowing and deep listening – in.

When a bee flies into the kitchen and doesn’t want to go out again, all there is to do is to remain firmly present and to relish the magic of spending time with a creature that clearly does not want to leave until it is good and ready. Oh how I love unexpected visitors….

img_7788

In gratitude and with love, and for the Newbridge bee, above…

Fi x

Twice bitten, once stirred – a rabbits tale

I fall in love easily. Every day. Often more than several times a day. Just the brush of a tail, a whisper of feathers overhead, a pair of eyes staring at me from the undergrowth, a sliver of sunlight through the trees. Animals and nature capture my heart in a multitude of ways and Earth has got me hooked. I have cried many tears over the years for all kinds of relationships, but the tears I have cried for animals and nature is a different thing entirely. When I cry tears for animals that I have bonded with yet have to leave, or wild creatures that have appeared and humbled me with their magic, those tears come from a deep place. Many of the animals I’ve bonded with have not been ‘mine’, yet they have extended so much and friendship, teaching a multitude of lessons along the way. If I was to choose only one of those lessons, it would be about the scale of love our hearts can feel. There simply is no limit to love – when, where and how it is felt. I’ve stumbled across baby frogs in the garden and found myself surging with every maternal instinct, wanting to make sure they reach home safely. In our wild creatures I have learnt an entirely different side of life and heard my own jaw drop to the floor with a loud thud in amazement.

Many of these emotions in relation to our animals stem from a feeling of knowing what we once had, and shared as humans with our natural world – the day in, day out connection we experienced many, many years ago. Perhaps we don’t need nature in the same way as such, yet still that bond is there. I believe the shrapnel and the fragments of who we once were in connection to nature run within our veins, and remain deeply coded within our cells. We can uncover it again, we can recover it, we can remember it. No matter the quantity of time I spend in nature and around our amazing creatures, I never tire of it. Yet I find myself in the paradox of being a human and loving people as I love our animals – I need both. This is not about separating one from the other. I think if I’d known how much my world would change as a result of learning how to listen to animals I may never have begun. My mind still struggles with some of the things that have happened over the past few years and can’t quite download them as possible. I know full well about doubts and disbelief and those are only natural. It’s time to take a risk and jump in at the metaphorical deep end with a story. Here is something that happened to me in the first few months that left me entirely – changed. Here goes…splash!

As a gardener, I experience many hours spent outside. I also often end up around animals that are at home for the day as their owners are out at work. They like to come and hang out whilst I dig and work about the place and I never quite know what they may get up to next. One particular garden I tended had two cats, one who was a supreme hunter and was often terrorising various things whilst I was there. After tuning in with him once about what he felt when he was hunting, I understood the urge in cats much more than ever before, it is quite something. I try to respect what they need to do, but all that said, there was one day where I could hear this cat around in the house chasing something and I really didn’t like it. I went inside and saw a cornered and terrified field mouse staring up at me. Oh dear…. Now, I didn’t want to spoil the fun for the cat so I ‘said’ to him “look, you can only kill him if you’re going to eat him, ok?” To which he nonchalantly looked at me and suddenly an expression of disinterest filled his face. The fun was over and he stepped away. Still the mouse was terrified. So, with all my will I tried my newly learned skills of communicating and let the mouse know I was going to scoop it into my hands and take it outside to safety. Amazingly it didn’t flinch and let me put my hands down beside it and stepped in. I released it into the hedgerow without any trouble. My delight was palpable and I felt so excited to have had this happen. I went back to work feeling thoroughly happy.

It wasn’t long before the same cat came tearing through the hedge chasing something much bigger. I looked over and in the distance could see something curled in a ball-shape, greyish colouring – a hedgehog I thought. What on earth would a cat chase a hedgehog for? I approached and on getting closer saw that it was a wild rabbit. Oh no. By this point I was pretty annoyed with the cat as again he was being nonchalant and I shooed him away. For some reason I couldn’t stop myself even though I was trying really hard not to get involved. Ah heck, the rabbit took off at high speed with the cat behind it and me screaming at the cat to stop. Not good animal communication skills! Anyway, as I got closer, somehow I managed to get in the middle of the cat and the rabbit. The rabbit still looking scared out of its wits now had me to contend with. All of us were nudged up against a wall, the rabbit about two metres away, the cat behind me. With all my will I told that rabbit it was safe and ‘asked’ it to come towards me. I really do mean that about ALL my will, it was the most powerful energy I could muster. I kept asking it to walk towards me. After a few seconds I was flabbergasted as it began to walk towards me, it got to about forty centimetres away and then got scared, half-heartedly lolloping away. I smiled and said “hey, I told you you’re safe, come on, climb on”. Putting my hands on the ground the rabbit walked towards me and allowed me to lift it up into my arms where it promptly hid its head up my sleeve and there it stayed for a good few minutes. I was able to stroke and reassure a wild rabbit for the first time ever. I could NOT believe it. Tears rolled down my face as I cuddled this wild-thing, the love abounding. Never, in all my dreams imagined this possible, I couldn’t take it in.

Remembering that I needed to hold myself together so as not to overwhelm this beautiful creature with my own emotions, I said that I would take him all the way to the other end of the garden where he’d be safe. By the time we got there I removed him from my sleeve and he looked up at me, admittedly scared. I could see the teeth marks from the cat and some small blood spots, recognising that maybe he was dying and that was why there had been so much stillness. I decided I’d stay with him, whatever and then thought “what the heck, let’s not give up yet”. I stretched my arms over the fence getting him as near to the ground as possible without garotting myself – he shook his head, looked up at me and leapt out of my arms with gusto, and I ‘heard’ and felt the loudest “thank you” I have ever known. Simultaneously, I said “thank you”, my heart feeling love and sadness all at once as off for freedom he went. Our moment had passed, but what a moment.

That day was life-changing for me. I had gone beyond the realms of what I had known before and there was no coming back from that. Don’t get me wrong, these things don’t happen to me all the time, but they do happen. I know I am not the only one that these things happen to either. I felt that nature and the animals had opened me up to a whole new world. Part of honouring that world is a purpose to share what occurs, to hopefully intrigue others to seek more connection with our beautiful creatures. It’s not something that can be forced, but gently let go into and often when you are thinking of it least – hey presto something extraordinary can happen right before your disbelieving eyes. Sometimes it can be brutal, at other times, beautiful but either way, our worlds can change.

animals 009

With gratitude and love to all, and to the master teacher-cat above…. Pie

Fi x

Stop, go smell the coffee said the cat…

This morning I woke up with a burning question that wouldn’t leave me alone. It was ringing through me like a whistling kettle – “what more can I do for the animals?” It hit me with a dampened thud, because of course I know that there is always more I could do and I am not alone on that one. On some level, I will never be able to do as much as I want to do and that fills me with such mixed emotion. After that weighted response came the inevitable “what is it that I need to do?” Double-thud….. No answers. I thought of a hundred things but nothing felt clear, so I decided on the next best thing, which was going for a Saturday morning coffee. What on Earth could that have to do with answering anything I thought? Getting the distinct feeling to wander down into our little town and catch some sunshine along the way.

Reaching the centre, I saw someone gesturing me over “Oh Fi, I was needing to bump into you, I’ve just been speaking about you and recommended you to someone, I don’t know if it would be your thing, but there’s a lady looking for someone to look after her dogs and I said you would be the perfect person!” Interesting, here we go… After hearing some details, off I went to see the woman who was wanting help with her beloved dogs. And what a lovely woman she was. No coffee yet it would seem. We spoke for a while and when I heard about her dogs I felt really strongly that I had been called to the situation in some way, knowing that I had to say ‘yes’. It rang all the way through me in an answer to my first question of the day – “this is what you can do”. I spoke with her for quite a time, feeling a lot of warmth and positivity about the meeting. Standing in her gorgeous shop, I commented on a large old enamelware washing tub she’d just sold, expressing my love for enamelware – to hear her to reply that it was Hungarian and she had ceramics from the country too. Being half-Hungarian, my ears seriously pricked up in recognition of the synchronicity – earlier that morning I had been speaking of Hungary. This was no ordinary meeting. If I needed any confirmation that I was being sent some strong messages, then this was it. I left feeling very happy and with a sense of support and love in the air. I’d asked my question this morning and events were showing that it had been heard, more than that – I was getting a reply.

Off I went to get some coffee and lost track of how many lovely dogs I met along the way with their owners, how many animals I stroked. They were everywhere it seemed and it was a very social affair. Toying with the idea of getting on a bus and going to the next town along I mused that if the bus was coming soon I would get on it and go, it would be a ‘sign’. Of course, just as I looked up the street, there it was coming down the hill. Ok, I’ll go then I thought, smiling silently. Yet again I was wondering how it may help my quest to be of more service to the animals? The question rang around my head. On the bus I got, time to see where the day would lead. Straight into a conversation with a woman about animals and animal communication it would seem!

This particular lady was recruiting volunteers for a charity working with people and we ended up talking about animals. She shared stories about animals she had met, people she knew and how they doted on their animals and about a particular dog who had taken it upon himself to be a guardian for an elderly chicken. Although he was impatient around children and would herd cattle or sheep in a nano-second, he had endless time for this ancient chicken – even its owners didn’t know how old it was. But this dog would protect her from everything. We delighted in exchanging stories and she talked about her fascination for horses, her wanting to have a dog of her own in her life. We spoke of the intelligence of animals and the amazing and fascinating bond that can happen inter-species and the relationships that form amongst very unlikely animal companions. This conversation covered a lot of topics and it was a delight to meet her. We both said that it is so amazing hearing about people’s lives and that you never do know what people do for work, commenting on the amazing diversity of life. I felt massively grateful to find someone so open to talk to and thanked her for all the work her charity does: it is a huge support for people here and invaluable. Gratitude was palpable. Off I went on my way again, feeling more and more wonder about how my morning’s question was being answered in these meetings and conversations. My heart was full of joy.

Winding my way through the town I saw a stall for Guide Dogs and many, many beautiful dogs having a rest on the warm stones, lounging in the sun. After already donating to one charity recently, I moved on by, not engaging with this one for some reason. Onwards I went and then looked to see another stall, this one for the cats and dogs of Asia, and other animals such as bears. I looked at the volunteers and that was it. Over I went…. I couldn’t get my legs to move fast enough it seemed. I found myself at this stand, with no previous notion to volunteer or get involved, talking away so much about the cause. I have signed umpteen petitions on-line about this issue, it gets to my core. I find myself horrified what happens to animals all across the world in a variety of scenarios. I wouldn’t have enough time to write about it all if I had years to do so. And if I spent all my time writing, then I wouldn’t be working on actively being part of the change that I wish to see for our world and our amazing animals. So when these women said to me did I want to join their team and sometimes just come along and run a stall, I found the cogs whirring in my mind. When they said it could be as little as 2 days a year, that it was no more than that unless I want it to be – how could I refuse? I work so much with our domestic cats and dogs, hear so much from them as our companions. I learn all the time from them about their thoughts, feelings and LOVE for us and I am humbled. Looking at that poster by the stall of multiple cats in cages – one image in particular grabbed me strongly. This cat’s eyes looking straight into the camera. He reminded me of our beloved cat Sammy, our beautiful boy. His majestic nature, his amazing way with us – no different to that cat in the cage but such a different fate.

I said yes to helping out this charity and yes to speaking with those women about their work and I felt so grateful to meet them. It was a joyous experience and I could have talked with them all day. Yet again I found myself thanking them for what they do. And they thanked me! They thanked me for talking with them about animal communication – they could understand that it was another angle completely, one that they didn’t know much about but they were open to. And openness is the key. I don’t feel that we need to know that we believe in something completely, but merely to keep that door slightly ajar in our hearts and minds so that there is room for possibility. After-all if I hadn’t had that door open in me three years ago I may never be at this point now and that doesn’t bare thinking about, life has change unimaginably for the better. Sometimes a leap of faith is really all that is needed, even if that is a little bit of blind faith.

I woke up this morning with a burning question to answer and I didn’t know how I might find that answer. I couldn’t really see how. So it remained unanswered and went for a walk. And as it turned out, I didn’t need to look for them after all – the answers came to find me. The animals stepped forward and they said “go help that lady with her two dogs”, “chat with all those folk about how their animals came to them”, “go talk to the woman about animals and how connected we can be – share each other’s stories”, “remember all the times we have spoken with you, the magic that happens”, “say yes to helping our brothers and sisters in Asia” and of course they reminded me (and all of us) “this is how you can help us, in every little thing. This is how you help – you do make a difference.” And so do you. And so can you. Little steps, all the time just little steps. Multiplied, they can be mighty – there are countless examples of that in our animal kingdom. I do feel that we can and do make a difference, every unique one of us – especially when we find the causes that make our hearts beat harder. And the beginnings can happen anywhere.

I sure am glad I went out for that coffee…..

With gratitude and love, Fi x