Animals do say ‘hello’ from the other side

The following is a letter I wrote to a local artist last January after my horse died unexpectedly. Eight months earlier I lost my first horse, and three months before that, my best ever dog. 

Dear Debi, I wanted to tell you about how much your painting of a white horse in moonlight, Dancing Moon, affected me when I saw it in a gallery the other day. I had to make the decision to have my white horse put down the day of the Blue Moon on Tuesday.

I believe animals give us the ‘all okay’ after they are gone. Yesterday I went to the vet to see my ‘sleeping’ Silver before he was taken. On the way back my friend and I were spent after two emotionally hard days. Since we had not eaten yet, we stopped at the Range Cafe. After the meal my friend wandered into the attached art gallery. He said “Hey Patty, look at what’s on the wall!” It was a painting of a gorgeous white horse in motion, neck arched and mane flying, blood red ribbon in his mane. He looked almost exactly like Silver would have in his prime. Same shape of the face and nose. We admired the painting, were a little amazed at it, and went home to get some rest as we felt like zombies after the two-day ordeal. 

It’s Wednesday morning 5:40 am and I am standing in my yard watching the full lunar eclipse with deep red moon. I have the image of a beautiful white horse jumping over a blood red moon. Your painting touched me very deeply. I thank you for painting it. I know it was a sign from my horse. Respectfully, Patty.

Three months after Silver left me during a blood red moon, a baby foal was born at my riding partner’s home four houses down. We had teased him about how fat his horse was getting, little knowing she was pregnant. Niña Surprise was born the day of a blood red sun! My heart rejoices! This is Niña on her birthday and she is only an hour old. Today she is a young lady, growing like a weed at six months old. Heart still rejoicing!

IMG-2740

 

Losing a horse helped heal my heart

My horse Silver left the morning after a blood red moon this past January. I had to make the difficult decision to have him put down after two days of pain, confusion, and chaos. His leaving had me totally spent physically and emotionally. I was gutted. My goofy, silly, drama queen horse and loving friend was gone. He was 22 years old and I only had him for four and a half years. I expected him to live to see 30 and be a gentle old bag of bones wandering around my property keeping me company in my upcoming retirement. My soul dog Google died in March 2017 and my first horse, Scar, died three months after that. Only seven months had gone by. This was heavy. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.

door

Horse people will tell you that they cannot imagine a day will come when they lose a horse, much less don’t have any horses. It does not seem conceivable. It is a way of life that gets into every pore. My horse dream was not realized until I was in my mid 50s. This was so rich and beautiful a life! I recall every morning before the sun was up I would walk out of my home in the darkness with the yard light on. My two large horses would be standing at the bottom of the steps waiting for me. I’d throw my coat on and walk down the four steps and reach out my arms and run each hand along the side of my horses tracing a line all the way to their rumps. I would think, and sometimes say out loud, “I am such a lucky lucky girl!” I could not believe my luck and my life, with these two huge galoots as partners in crime. Scar, the 1400 lb. overly muscled quarter horse who I referred to as an old war horse, and Silver the 900 lb. skinny but fast off-the-track thoroughbred. They had spent much time together before they came to me. Scar always protecting Silver. They were without a doubt brothers from another mother. Horses are the best of companions! I can tell you, it’s not about the riding, it’s about the companionship and the horse soul you get to share.

A week after Silver died, I was still in shock. Walking to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee I heard myself say out loud, to no one, “I feel like I was slammed to the ground again. Unexpected loss can hit hard. I started writing this post in January and needed until October until I could even look at it again. In fact I quit blogging altogether. The feeling of abandonment over losing him is there, but muted with some distance now. Time is your ally when it comes to loss. When I think of him I still feel a stab of pain. I wish I didn’t feel so vulnerable. So hurt. There are friends of mine that have lost people, and all I lost was a horse. Who am I to grieve so much? So deeply? Why am I so hurt at being left here, feeling abandoned? That is sometimes how the mind thinks, trying to minimize the loss of a pet. No, not a pet, a companion, a kindred soul. Matters not if it be clothed in fur or skin.

This reminds me of a chant to honor the animal kingdom. Citing: Sable Taylor in her interview in Ellen Evert Hopman’s “Being A Pagan”. You can listen to a lovely rendition of it here. 

Fur and feather and scale and skin,
Different without but the same within,
Many of body but one of soul,
Through all creatures are the gods made whole.

When I lost my dog Soul Dog Google, I knew he was leaving for many months. Over time his aged body would freeze up with arthritis. He wore neoprene hock braces and took pain meds. He would not eat unless I cooked him something soft and hand fed it to him. He gingerly took the offering and politely nibbled it. Then that look of “Gosh I sure do appreciate the home cooking darlin’ but I just can’t do it no more.” Since his decline was natural and slow, there was time to plan his last days. I would snuggle with him in his den outside, a 10×10 enclosure filled with straw under my porch. On his last day many friends came over to say their goodbyes. I had him from almost day one, to the last day—his entire life! Losing him was a natural part of his life, and our time together. Everything about it felt good.

cup

My heart and body have been bombarded with physical challenges, losses and change for many months. It is a time of great personal change. Constant pressure is part of making stiff leather into something soft and pliable. Another example is a caterpillar in its cocoon magically transforming from a worm to a beautiful winged creature, resembling nothing of its former self. Humans and science still marvel at these transformations shrouded in mystery and magic. We don’t know what is going on inside that cocoon. This time of personal change is a time of transformation and opening for me.

Through Silver, I learned that I’ve had a closed off heart to protect myself, and I didn’t even know it. Now I understand I no longer need to protect my heart. But you can’t open your heart by wishing—it is a process. Silver knew exactly what he was doing by leaving how and when he did. He timed his exit just right to be part of helping open my heart and my transformation. You can still see the hoof print and cracks on my heart from his dramatic exit. That reminds me of Leonard Cohen’s lyrics,  “… There is a crack, a crack, in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”  

There is much more in this that I would love to explore. Many more paths of healing have opened for me and this excites me greatly! Imagine a lotus with a thousand petals. There is magic yet to come! Silver was a gift I treasure on my path to living much more openly. What a great message and parting gift from my friend Silver. What a lesson! Long may you run!

Moving toward the tipping point, by writing

I have been feeling for some time that I am almost at the tipping point of purging my soul and body of the after effects of an abusive 18 yearlong relationship. I have been out of that relationship for ten years now, and in my mind, I think there is nothing to purge. I’m over it, right? I have a brand-new life I created myself, right? I’m the captain of my own ship co-creating like crazy, right? Everything is peachy keen, right?  But the body is not the mind. It holds onto things for a very long time. To me, that is what PTSD is. Abuse or terror held in the body to protect the whole.

A great purge is coming and I am glad of it. It is so close I can feel every cell in my body quivering in anticipating of dumping what needs to go, and breathing a huge gulp of new, fresh air! But you can’t plan such things now, can you? My Capricorn mind wants to schedule it in along with everything else. Grocery shopping, trip to the hardware store, purge of a lifetime, then a nice massage. Nope, it does not work like that. Spirit does not move in a linear fashion or according to a day planner. Sigh.

IMG-3702In order to help move toward this tipping point, I have promised myself a new writing habit. This is a luxury I owe myself. It’s a tool I should have not ignored for many months. Don’t be scared by the word habit, it’s a good thing. Habits are easy to start and hard to break. That’s good news if you want to start a new habit. If you want to break a habit, put another new habit in place of the old one, right on top of it. It will take some time, but it will happen. Like moving to a new office in the same building. My feet want to travel to the old office every time I walk into the building. But every day I get closer and closer to wiping out the old maps of my neural network of walking to that old office, as I correct my course to the new one.

I have decided to write in the morning because that is when I feel most myself. It is the time I love the most with morning light being so different than any other time of day. My energy is at its peak, and the promise of a new day is at hand. It is the NOW time and I have a few hours before I must honor my obligations of going to my day job. The birds are just waking up, and since I feed them, they are plentiful in my back yard. I see sparrows, little yellow warblers, Towhee’s, large mountain blue jays, and a huge family of Gambles’ quail with the little quivering top knots all dancing, making those funny squeaking noises as they bounce along. My dogs sit at my feet on the back deck as I sip coffee and we watch the birds have their breakfast as the sun rises.

I have not written for many months. Although I don’t consider myself a writer by trade, I am disappointed in myself for missing out on writing about my experiences. Sometimes just the act of writing helps process events. I have had many experiences and insights about life that were good and showed growth and possibly a new way around things. I should have written about those important life changes. But writing to the general public in a transparent way doesn’t always seem to fit the bill when you feel vulnerable. It’s too hard. The flip side is, I regret not getting things down on paper because insights that come from difficult experiences can get lost in the shuffle quickly. I wanted to hold onto those insights a little while longer. I wanted to explore them and share them. I admonish myself for not writing about them, because it could have helped someone else.

You get the lesson or the insight, and instantly you feel jazzed that you got it, and at the same time relieved that life can go on as normal. Getting that normalcy back into your life always feels like another sort of elation. Humans rely so heavily on habit to feel secure, and I’m right there along with everyone else. After the difficulty you were facing ends and the smoke clears—the moment it is all freshest in your mind—you don’t want to sit and write about it because it might break the spell. It’s too close to your heart. You feel like holding your cards close to your chest a little longer because you feel tender. But you feel like you have a great secret and can still feel that lovely glow of having successfully navigated life.

I also think it can wait till later so I make the mistake of not writing about it at the moment. When later comes, the nuances of how those insights came about are lost and it doesn’t seem all that magical a thing to write about or share.  I regret not having written about things when they happen because I cannot get them back. And those things were part of my life’s path. They seemed important at the time. Creating a daily writing habit will help me process what is going on in my life and bring me to another level of understanding about myself and about life. Even if I don’t share what I write, I know it will benefit me. In a way I get to know myself a little bit better.

But writing has one very important quality that is not readily evident. It can change how you think about yourself, in surprisingly good ways! You might realize you had the strength to do something you thought you couldn’t do. You might be able to see the bigger picture. It’s a great way to get to know the nuances of You. When I start writing something and it’s in draft mode, I feel like there is a carbon copy of me saying “I got your back”. Isn’t that worth the effort of creating a new habit?

I may not post every day, or even every week, but you can bet I will be writing every day! I hope this encourages others to write, even if it is a private journal. This is such a good healing and cleansing and even fun thing to be involved in, for yourself, and possibly for sharing with the world. Until next time my friends…