Acceptance and Healing

This past December 2013 I experienced a profound healing. For almost all of 2013 I had been struggling to breathe.  My inability to breathe well was impacting every part of my life.  I’d been diagnosed with asthma many years earlier.  The diagnosis didn’t concern me at all at the time I received it, I was certain I would find a way to deal with it and heal it.  Asthma was something that irritated me but it didn’t stop me from living my life. 

With each passing month during 2013 my breathing became worse. Nothing I did during that year truly worked.   I tried all my usual go to’s including homeopathy, herbs, steam rooms, massage, more meditation and escalated to all things allopathic such as steroids, inhalers and pretty much any remedy anyone suggested.   In the course of 12 months my life had been reduced to the bare minimum to get by.  My ability to function and take care of my ranch was becoming less and less possible and having any energy left over for fun stuff, like riding my horse, was simply gone.  In the last few months of 2013 I was becoming a little despondent about my situation. 

In December of that year my sister Kristen had invited me to her graduation from a program that meant allot to her. On the day of the graduation I felt awful, my breathing was at an all time low and my energy level matched that low but I was determined to go.  I arrived at the site of Kristen’s graduation and saw that the building was on a hill.  There were lots of stairs to go up to get into the building.  I was paralyzed with fear at first and thought there’s no way I can get to the top of those stairs with out passing out.  But I knew how important this graduation was for her and intuitively I knew it was as important for me, although at the time I didn’t fully understand why it was so important for me. 

I made my way up the stairs outside the building. I reached the landing, at the top of the stairs and I stood there struggling to breathe. I thought to myself, I did it, now I will just rest a while and then go in.  Sounded easy enough but when I entered the building and saw several more flights of stairs, I had to hold back the tears.  I wanted to turn around and leave but knew I could not do that.  I would be betraying my sister, my word and most importantly I would betray myself as I knew intuitively that I had do this.  I headed up the stairs, slowly.  Not that slow made any difference, I simply could not get enough air into my lungs.  When I reached the top of the staircase, I entered a narrow hallway with only two choices of direction.  One direction would take me toward a group of people waiting for the graduation to begin and the other direction would take me toward the restrooms.  There was a part of me that wanted to go toward that restroom and hide until I could breathe again, but to go the direction to get to the restrooms I would need to go up one more flight of stairs. 

Honestly if the direction of the restrooms did not have the hurdle of another flight of stairs I might have chosen to go hide until I could breathe again. I intuitively knew that the correct choice for me was to go toward the people and own the space and condition I was currently in.  I knew how I looked and I knew how I sounded and understood that the people would see me in a very vulnerable state and they did.  One woman immediately approached me and asked me if I was ok? I told her yes and no.  She asked me specifically what was wrong with me.  I told her, in between involuntary muscle induced gasps for air, that I had asthma and it was worse on this day than it had ever been in my life.  She was calm, not to alarmed and said her sister grew up with asthma and she knew how scary and miserable it could be.  She stood with me as I sucked on my inhaler and prayed for my lungs to open, for my muscles to relax and for me not to panic. 

When my breathing finally slowed to a dull roar I knew I would be ok. It was in that moment that I became highly aware of the people waiting in the hallway for the graduation to begin.  I noticed that some of the people couldn’t stop looking at me and some of the people went to great lengths to not look at me. It was such an interesting experience, in so many ways and despite the severity of it I knew it was an important experience that I was destined to have.   Although it would be a few more days until I fully understand why that experience was so important.  

At the beginning of the week following my sister’s graduation my breathing was still way out of control. None of my inhalers made any difference and I thought if this continues to escalate I am going to end up in the hospital.  During that week several of my ranch workers were unable to work so I filled in as I normally do.  But this time it was almost impossible to do the job.  Feeding the horses normally takes me an hour but with my breathing as it was it took me almost 3 hours.  And the aftermath of exhaustion was debilitating.  I also had to cancel my mediation appointments that week as I couldn’t breathe and talk at the same time.   I was unable to do my work.  Work I had done and loved for a huge part of my life.  I felt like my life as I knew it was coming to an end.  It scared me.

By the middle of that week I was beside myself with fear, with pain and with the uncertainty of what my future held. I was at a loss as to what to do next.

So I contacted my western med. doctor – again. I told her that my breathing was still awful and definitely not improving.  She prescribed yet another type of inhaler and suggested another visit to the pulmonologist.  I felt so defeated at that moment not by her answers but by my own body’s refusal to shift.  The following day I headed out to pick up the new inhaler and stop by the grocery store.  When I finished those errands and returned home, I got out of my car and stood next to the door for a minute to catch my breath.  As I was standing there my friend came walking by. She stopped and said hello to me.  I don’t remember exactly what I was trying to say to her but I do remember that I started crying the minute I opened my mouth to speak.  I told her of my weekend and my week and how I was feeling and that I was scared.  She listened with love and relayed her own feelings of frustration and pain over her life’s struggles. 

After our conversation I felt a little better, a little less alone. I headed toward the feed barn.  I didn’t have any more tears left by the time I arrived at the barn.  I saw my other friend, who also works at the ranch during the week; she was preparing the evening feeding for the horses.  We chatted for a few minutes and I told her about my sister’s graduation and my experience there.  Again the words that were said were a blur but the gist of our conversation was exposure of the state I was in, the limitations I was now facing and the acceptance of my new reality.  The reality of where my life going forward would be different now.  Not being able to breathe would change my future in a way I had not anticipated.

I realized as we spoke how badly my chest and rib cage hurt from the struggle to breathe. During the last few months this had become a norm, feeling so much physical pain from the struggle to breathe.  I asked her if she would mind putting some comfrey oil on my back.  I could not reach my back and I felt kind of desperate for relief.  The minute the words came out of my mouth asking my friend for help, I felt a tiny bit of embarrassment for needing help and feeling so vulnerable about asking for help.  I stopped that thought as quickly as I could.  I reminded myself that this is where I am at today; I need to ask for help and accept the help.  She was happy to do it, I pulled up the back of my shirt while standing outside in the barn and in that moment I simply didn’t care if anyone saw me.  I finally felt a sense of total acceptance for me and the state I was now living in. I was grateful for the help my friend was giving to me.   

I noticed as she applied the oil to my back that my pain began to subside and my breathing had become slightly better. The easing up of my breathing was so subtle that at first I barely noticed it.  I thanked her for the help and headed back toward the house to unpack the groceries.  As I walked past the horse paddocks, my mare Lotta whinnied at me.  It was the same whinny and same request Lotta had made of me many times in the last few months.  She was asking me to take her out of the paddock.  I had been so low on energy that she hadn’t been out more than a few times each week in the past months. 

I could not ignore her plea. I got her out and we headed to the arena where we stood next to each other for a while.  She didn’t walk off or ask to roll she just stood there with me.  I felt like it was her way of silently accepting me and reflecting my state of being back at me in that moment.  As we stood there together, I thought to myself I can breathe a little better right now so maybe we can try walking.  Together, side by side, we walked around the arena twice.  I was tired but not breathing super hard.  There was definite improvement in my breathing.  I was surprised. It was incredible!  Improvement after movement – not something I was used to feeling anymore.  I was overjoyed and extremely confused as to how I could suddenly breathe so much better.  We walked around the arena a bit more and then I decided I could breathe well enough that we left the arena and headed up the road.  As we finished our walk and headed back toward the ranch I found myself crying tears of relief and confusion.  In that moment my breathing was as close to normal as it had ever been.  In just one hour it seemed that everything had changed.

After putting Lotta back in her paddock, I headed toward my house. I understood that something incredible had just happened to me.  As I thought about this new ability to breathe, I got a little scared.  I thought how interesting, I was scared when I couldn’t breathe and now I am scared because I can breathe.  I emptied the grocery bags and saw the new brand of inhaler that the doctor had ordered for me.  Despite what had just happened outside with my dramatic increase in ability to breathe, I ripped open the box that held the new inhaler, took it out and took 2 big puffs.  In that moment my actions felt desperate fast and with no thought.  I used the inhaler everyday for the next few days.  During those days my actions were robotic in nature, no thought, just pick up inhaler, put in mouth, and breathe in. 

I realized by the end of the week that I was making quite the effort to not think about why I made the choice to grab that inhaler despite my breathing improving with out it. As I looked at my self and my motives honestly it all became clear.

I knew that the inhaler was a test. I also knew that after a big step forward the universe always provides a test. A test to see if you really have faith in yourself and what ever it was that you just learned from your experience.  I was afraid to loose what healing I had found earlier in that week and thought if I use the inhaler everyday this will ensure that I don’t go back to being unable to breathe.  My test was – Did I believe and have faith in the healing I had experienced or did I not?

It was almost as if the tease of breathing and then possibly loosing it again might send me over the cliff into the abyss. I knew this was a moment of choice. To have faith in what healing had occurred or to hang on to fear, the fear of going back to being unable to breathe.  I knew choosing fear was the wrong thing to do and it went against what I believe and what I try to practice on a daily basis.  So I took a deep breath and decided to stop using the inhaler.  There was no shift in breathing ability the next day or any day during the next week.  At the end of that week I moved the inhaler off the counter and put it away inside the cabinet.  .  

I have thought about those days & events in December for months now, wondering why the healing hadn’t occurred earlier in that year. What was the catalyst that had pushed everything into place on that one day in order for a healing to occur?? 

The missing piece of the puzzle fell into place for me during a conversation.   I was talking with a friend who is struggling with some challenges.  When I asked if she could accept herself and her situation so healing change could occur, she was very clear in her answer.  Her answer was no, she could not accept herself or her situation.  

It all clicked for me when I heard her answer. I realized in that moment of our conversation what had shifted for me in December and allowed my healing to proceed.  It was all about my acceptance of myself and my situation.

My acceptance began when I decided to walk toward the people at my to sisters graduation rather than go the other direction and hide. I felt no shame and invited everyone to see me for who I was and what I was struggling with.   The next level of my acceptance occurred a few days later as I stood in the barn with my friend.  I came to terms with the state of my being.  I quit fighting my body, resisting what was and I just accepted that this was my life now.  It was a peaceful moment when I accepted myself.  That’s when the healing manifested in a dramatically noticeable way.  It took about an hour for my breathing to be almost normal.   The final step of my healing came the day I put the inhaler away and chose faith over fear.

The combination of whole heartedly accepting where I was at and sharing it openly with those around me created the opening for the healing I had so desperately wanted. Choosing faith over fear seemed to cement the healing into place.

It’s April now and I have been able to breathe for months. I still have the occasional day where my body reacts to the elements and my breathing can be challenged but it’s nothing like I experienced during the year of 2013.  The year of not being able to breath is becoming a faint memory.

See him for who you are

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I was visiting with a friend the other day and we were discussing human nature and the irony of the way people see one and other.

It’s so clear to me that every situation and human we encounter is an opportunity to personally grow and get closer to our authentic selves or to grow further away from our authentic selves – the choice is ours.

In my describing to my friend my take on human nature I said – See him for who you are. – It struck her quite funny she laughed and said that’s just like the saying but opposite.  I didn’t understand what saying she was referring too so she reminded me that many a drama filled conversation between girlfriends over coffee at the local starbucks starts something like this – See him for who he is.

It’s so true; the “See him for who he is” statement is rarely a positive one, its generally about seeing the flaws of another and separating yourself from that person.  That person is judged for who he is.

If we could just turn that saying around to seeing him (or her) for who we are, the world would truly be a very different place.

My personal way of moving thru life is to look at those around me and be aware of how I feel about them or how I feel when I am with them.  The instant I feel judgment I know that I am seeing myself in them and I do not like what I see.

I recently had an opportunity to really use my belief to stretch myself and see another for who I am.

I work with sick horses and this means I also work with very stressed owners.  All the owners I come into contact with have some level of anxiety, either stemming from their past traumatic experiences or their fear of the future unknowns – and of course they real issue will their horse get better??

I expect this, it doesn’t bother me I am able to support, understand, listen and help in just about any way they need to help them feel more at ease.  The anxiety usually subsides relatively quickly and we move onto the active part of the healing process for the horse and the human.

So when I began working with this owner and she had allot of anxiety, it was no problem, it was almost expected,  I felt for her and did what I could to help her and her horse feel comfortable.

What came next did surprise me.   The height of her anxiety and the duration was not something I had seen before.  It appeared as though there was never a second with out anxiety for her.  It appeared as though having the anxiety had become as important a part of her life as breathing was to her body.

One day her anxiety was at melt down level, so I suggested we sit down in her horses paddock and observe how her horse was actually doing.  We watched her horse move about the paddock, from my perspective the horse was doing very well.  From her perspective the horse was dying.

I have talked many an owner thru traumatic transitions of all kinds, from shoe removal to letting them pass from this earth so in that way this situation was no different.  What was different was that each time she would have a ‘moment’ of relief from the anxiety, she would start to exhale, but before the exhalation could even be completed she would be gripped with terror.  She would suck in a quick breath with almost a level of violence toward her body and begin shallow short breathing that was hyperventilation worthy at times.    Her body would tighten, her posture would shorten and we would be right back at “the horse is dying”

This went on for hours that day.  At the end of the day I was aware that she didn’t feel any better or any different.  This level of anxiety went on for weeks with no shift.  The horse this entire period of time was doing ok.  Definitely not dying.

As the weeks progressed I started to feel some pretty uncomfortable feelings myself.  I started to have judgment about her level of anxiety and what that level of constant anxiety was doing to her body.  The instant I realized the judgment was there I knew that on some level I did in my own life, exactly what she was doing in hers.  But I could not see it clearly.  I kept telling myself, reminding myself to see her for who I am.  But the clarity wasn’t coming.

At one point I actually began to feel some anger with her while watching her hang on to this anxiety.   That s when I knew I must carry the same level of anxiety as her and in a really big way, so why could I not see it?  It was driving me crazy, I was meditating on it, talking to peers about how I felt, I was looking intently at myself and still no clear answers came.

One day I was feeling incredibly frustrated about the whole thing and said audibly to the universe please help me see where I am the same! And it hit me, like a ton of bricks; I fell back into my seat hard as the realization of where I do this in my own life flooded my body like a drug.  I was dizzy with clarity.

For the past 12 years  I have had cysts all over my body internally, they appeared after a radiation treatment I had to stop an over active thyroid.   When the cysts first appeared of course I thought cancer.  Because in my mind lumps = cancer.  All kinds of tests were performed and it was concluded that the cysts weren’t cancer they were just fatty cysts brought on by the radiation treatment.  The cysts were my body’s way of reacting too and dealing with the toxic substance that was now inside my body.  Knowing that they weren’t cancerous was good but the fact that the cysts existed with in my body was a struggle

My mind was so programmed to interpret a lump in the body as cancer that I would be on a daily basis reminded that cancer is a possibility.  With that said I didn’t feel constant or debilitating anxiety as I had been watching but I was on a daily basis triggered by these lumps in my body.

I would feel a lump then feel a moment of fear.  I would have to remind myself all of the time that I am healthy and to take a deep breath in and let the fear go.  It was truly no different than her being triggered by her horses healing process.

To look at our situations on the outside it would be easy to say we handle things differently and our responses are different.  But to look at the root of what drives us, there was no difference.  It was about fear of loss.  In her case a fear of losing her horse, her closest family member who she loved very much and in my case fear of losing my life, which I love very much.

Her expression of the fear was all on top for all the world to see and my expression of fear was deeply buried under my skin.  I didn’t express the fear externally as she had, but that didn’t stop me from being aware of it almost constantly which in and of itself is relentless and could even be classified as a form of violence against myself.

Once the realization that we were truly the same settled into my body a calmness also settled in.  I felt no more judgment just compassion – compassion for her and compassion for me.  I could finally see her for who I am.

Full Circle Moment

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I have come to love full circle moments. They are a cleaning up of sorts, a karmic completion an ending to a story. Full circle moments usually begin with a significant life experience and generally end with a quieter and almost mundane quality. Full circle moments tend to sneak up on me when I least expect them. I had a full circle moment the other day.

One of the newer horses at my ranch needed to be seen by her vet. So the owner made an appointment for the vet to come out. The owner could not be here for the appointment so I offered to stand in for her. The owner informed me of the time the vet would be here and then she mentioned the vet’s name.

I lost my breath for a moment when I heard clearly who it was that was coming here. I had met him some years ago during a very traumatic and tragic experience. I instantly understood that our coming together again on this day would be our opportunity to complete things: to come full circle.

That experience with him years ago left an indelible mark on my being and my soul. It was a turning point for me personally. It was a situation where intuitively I knew the outcome of the experience if a certain route was taken. For much of my life I had been somewhat uncomfortable sharing intuitive information with people. Sharing intuitive information would sometimes leave me feeling responsible if they didn’t go the route I had seen. Sometimes I would feel embarrassed about what I had just shared but most often I just felt like they thought I was crazy since the information came from intuition and not proof.

Several days prior to meeting the vet for the first time I shared the intuitive information I had with the owner about the horse’s condition and the safest route to be taken in dealing with it. The owner of the horse shared that information with the vet. The vet insisted that the route he believed to be correct was the route I had seen as deadly for the horse. The vet and owner decided to follow the route he prescribed. Sadly the outcome of the appointment on that day was as I had seen. The horse did not survive the appointment.

I felt so many emotions about what had occurred. To some degree I felt responsible because there was a small part of me that thought I should have just put my foot down and said I won’t allow that appointment to occur here at my ranch. I knew at the time that was the wrong thing to do so I didn’t do it and to this day I know in my heart it was the right choice. After the horses tragic end, I spent days, weeks and months processing what had happened. I came to the only conclusion there could be for me – that it had all worked out how it was supposed to for every being who participated in the experience. The horse, the owner, the vet and myself. There are no wrong turns or accidents in life, just choices of which path you will choose on any given day. All paths lead to the lessons that need to be learned.

On that tragic day I learned that I can not be responsible for other people’s paths and I can not hold myself responsible for anything more than sharing the information that is given to me. What the recipient of that information chooses to do with it is up to them. People learn in the way that works for them. Some need it to be a very physical experience with many outside forces coming in too influence the path and guide the learner to the lesson and others prefer to learn in a less physical manner by following the intuitive path requiring large amounts of faith and courage up front with few outside forces coming in to guide the path. That day was a grouping of both, intuitive learners and physical learners. To judge someone else’s learning process is pointless & damaging to all.

Fast forward to the present day. The vet arrived exactly on time to see my client’s horse. As I approached his truck he held out his hand and introduced himself. I smiled and said we’ve met before. He looked away from me and then said yes, we met on a very tragic day. I agreed with him, our eyes met for just a second and then headed off to the see the horse. As we passed by the barn, he looked toward it and said that’s the stall where it happened. I nodded in silent agreement.

As we continued our walk to the horse that was to be seen on this day, we crossed the ranches bridge in silence, which felt like quite a metaphor at the time – Crossing over to complete something. As he examined the horse I wondered to myself if we would talk about what happened here on that day so many years ago. As I watched him work and listened to him speak I realized that this was as far as it would go for he and I. While we as humans & souls are working on the same issues, the vet and I had clearly chosen to work on them via different paths.

My preferred path for learning is more intuitive than physical and his preferred path for learning is more physical than intuitive. Both viable path choices and both work in the end. As we completed our appointment with the horse I could feel that we had completed our involvement with one and other.

I saw him as a fellow human and soul just doing his best to do his work and learn his lessons. I walked away feeling nothing but compassion and completion.

Over the years I have thought of that day, the horse, the owner, the vet, and the people who tried to help. The loss and pain suffered on that tragic day have helped me and many other horses since. I am more able than ever to share what needs to be shared and then to stand back and not feel overly responsible or insecure with how the other players need to learn. I am truly grateful for the gifts of that experience and the opportunity to complete the circle.

Princess and the Path

princess and her paintingThis morning, as I sit in my mediation chair, my attention was drawn to my kitten, Princess. She was sitting in the middle of a clean pile of clothes on my bedroom floor, staring at me with her “love eyes”. As I sit and ground my body she comes over and sits beneath me, rubbing her head and chin along the small coffee table in front of my chair. As she rubs her head along the edge she moves my Tarot cards. I think, I should pull a card for the nature of my relationship with my Princess kitten. Of course the card I pull is the Chariot, which couldn’t be a more perfect fit in terms of its title, its meaning or its picture.

The title of the Chariot card is “Victory through Adversity”. Its keyword meanings are success; victory after hardship; Stamina and good health; perseverance to maintain focus; and inner strength to achieve the desired success. In the picture on the card, a prince stands between two sphinxes, one black and white, one white and black, representing the negative and positive energies in the world. (Princess is of course a black and white cat.) The chariot has no reins; the prince steers it with only his intuition, stamina and the focus on his goal at hand.

A part of me would describe periods of my life as victory through adversity but, at the same time, I am so grateful for the whole of my life that it seems almost a betrayal to describe it that way, since I wouldn’t change anything that has happened in my life. Looking at Princess this morning as I contemplate all of this, I realize just what a perfect example of that she is.

A few years ago Princes got sick. It was during one of the most financially trying times my husband and I have ever faced. During that period we were struggling to hang on to our ranch and the life we had created. In some of the darkest of moments I remember thinking and saying aloud too many that I would do anything to save our ranch. Understanding that the universal energy often takes these statements to heart, I would quickly qualify the statement with, “Well of course if a family member got sick or something of that importance happened, we would help them and let the house go.” So what happens? My Princess gets sick; very, very sick. I had very little money in the bank account but I knew I had to take her to the vet. The diagnosis was liver, pancreas and kidney failure, and an inflamed intestinal tract. The vet wanted to hospitalize her and put her on 24-hour IV fluids.

Immediately I knew I had to do what ever it took to help her. I would never euthanize her because of money. I realized that what I had been talking about for the past few weeks had just occurred. A family member had gotten sick. A leveling a reminder of what really matters in life – Not houses or stuff but beings, beings of all kinds. The fact that she was a cat drove home what matters. Had any of my human family members or human friends become sick it would have been a no-brainer to do all I possibly could to save them, including letting go of house and life we had created, if necessary. To do this for a cat, a pet, seemed crazy to some. To me it was the only choice – Do all I can to save the life the kitten who had meant so much to me.

At the time I had no idea just how big a lesson this would be. At the time I thought the only lesson I was dealing with was, what really matters in life?

Princess spent days at the hospital getting only incrementally better, being kept alive mostly on fluids and syringed liquid food. After about a week the vet announced that she was as good as she would get and I could take her home. I was thrilled but also kind of horrified because she was still quite unwell. Once home I monitored everything. I barely took an eye off of her to sleep. She required around-the-clock care. She slowly came out of her illness and began eating little bits of food and drinking water on her own. She was very thin but mostly content. As the weeks progressed she continued to get better. Our financial and home troubles continued but we were hanging in there by a thread.

About 2 months after the first episode of illness Princess had a second episode. This time I wasn’t really worried because I knew what was wrong and I knew what to do. I thought, I will just take her to the vet for subcutaneous fluids. Well, when we got there, the vet wanted to do an x-ray and blood work. The blood work came back better than when Princess was sick the first time but it was still a little off, which was somewhat expected as she was still recovering. What was not expected was that the x-ray showed a possible blockage in the intestinal tract. This was horrifying. The vet said Princess needed surgery and would have to go to the hospital immediately. The vet also said she had just lost a small dog to an intestinal blockage and she didn’t want that to ever happen again. The vets own pain and fear was palpable as she spoke. Her pain and fear was all that I needed to awaken my own pain and fear. What I knew to be true when I walked in the door was now thrown out the window. I was afraid and no longer thinking clearly.

I went to the hospital immediately and I met with the surgeon on duty that Saturday. He examined the x-ray and explained that she would need surgery, but it would have to wait until Monday morning, as the main surgeon was off and they felt her condition would be stable if she stayed at the hospital. The instant he said they wouldn’t be able to operate until Monday, I understood that this window of time meant something – It was an opportunity for a different outcome, an opportunity for a different path to be taken. I was still so caught up in pain and fear that I pushed it away.

The girls at the front desk told me that the cost of the surgery would be at least $5000 and possibly a bit more. I left her at the hospital, crying all the way home. I had just sold my horse trailer to make that month’s house payment. There was nothing left in savings and there was no other way to make the house payment except with that $5000. It was not lost on me that the surgery dollar amount and the amount I needed for the house payment were the same.

When I arrived home I found my husband out working on the tractor. I cried and told him what was going on and what the cost of surgery was. He said “You do whatever you need to do. I support whatever choice you make.” I cried harder. Of course there was no choice to make – I would never choose money over the possibility of life. I would use the mortgage payment money for Princess’ surgery.

I visited my kitten many times over the course of the weekend. She was so unhappy in the hospital, bordering on what I can only describe as being uphappy with me. I brought in a variety of baby food and wet cat food to encourage her to eat. She ate small amounts and I kept thinking, if she has a serious blockage why is she eating, drinking and pooping at all? Granted they were all small amounts but things were moving.

The more I thought about the energy of the illness and the more I looked at her, the more confused I got. With each visit I heard louder and louder, from that little neutral voice in my head, “You know what to do; you knew what to do the day you took her to the vet.” I had simply allowed the vets fears to infiltrate my own knowing. With each passing minute the urgency to do the right thing was becoming overwhelming, as was the awareness that I had allowed someone’s else’s pain and fear to override my own knowing.

There are always different paths presented to us to learn the lessons we are meant to learn. Either we learn the lessons through courage, putting the pain and fear at the fore front of the situation, or we choose perceived comfort by putting the pain & fear of the lesson at the end of the situation. The universal truth is that either way we learn our lessons, the only control we have in the situation is which path do we choose to go down.

There came a moment on Sunday night where I knew if I left Princess at the hospital to have surgery on Monday, the outcome would most likely be painful for some time to come. I would feel less pain up front by allowing other people to make the decisions but that comfort would come at a price and the price would be great – A long recovery from a surgery that wasn’t needed and potential long-term pain from scar tissue in her intestinal tract, which I knew was inflamed. And of course, we would probably lose the ranch we all loved. Even Princess loved living there.

If I took her out of the hospital I knew the lesson would be equally painful but in a different way – I would feel the pain and fear up front from going against medical advice. I would have to say aloud to the vets that I simply “knew” what was going on and knew what was best for her. I would also have to find the courage to potentially be wrong about all of this, which would mean Princess might die or need to go back to the vet in worse shape than when she left. What I had going for me was many years of living, and watching this lesson pattern, and knowing that my inner voice always steers me in the direction I need to go.

The truth was, I knew all along what to do but I was afraid. I knew that either route – going home with me now or staying and having surgery – would create what I needed to learn and each situation had an outcome tied to it. I was aware that the choice which caused me the most pain and fear up front was also the right choice. This whole situation was an opportunity to learn. I could either grab it in courage or run from it in fear.

I grabbed it in courage. When the nighttime attending vet arrived, I told him that I wanted to take Princess off the IV and take her home. I was canceling the surgery. I didn’t believe she had a blockage, I believed she was simply still suffering from the same illness as before and I believed her intestines were inflamed, making it look like there might be a blockage on the x-ray. I stated this was something I simply “knew”. It was clear that my absolute confidence and conviction shook the young attending vet, and I saw his own fear come up. Maybe his fear was about her dying or maybe he feared repercussions from his superiors, who knows?

He said that he strongly advised against me taking her but, if I insisted, he would unhook the IV and prepare the paperwork. I told him to please do that. Then I asked if there was anything he would recommend that I do when I got her home. I felt him really think about the question and he said, yes, I would get her some Pepcid and give her a quarter tablet twice a day; if it really is only inflammation, like you think it is, that will help.

Princess and I went home that night. Her relief to be home this time was obvious. She was content, purring and spent hours resting. Whenever I sat in my mediation chair, she sat right in the middle of my chest. She received constant hands-on healings. It seemed like there was a direct line from me to her for days.

About the third day home it was clear she was doing better but she was still somewhat dehydrated. I decided it was time for something different, something more in line with what I believe, so I contacted a local holistic veterinarian. I took Princess in for acupuncture and subcutaneous fluids. At the end of the appointment the vet said, if your cat gets a fever you need to take her to the hospital immediately. I thought, oh God, here we go again. I could just feel the next phase of the lesson beginning, the test to see if I really believed what I knew to be true and if I had the courage to follow that path.

Within several hours of leaving the vet’s office Princess’ fever had begun. This time I was scared but did not panic. I meditated and asked for insight and direction. What came up next was so simple. I heard that little voice say, “Fevers are the body’s way of healing an illness.”

Ok, the choice was now very clear: Listen to the verbal warning given by the vet – the authority – or listen to the little voice inside my head, the voice that I know well, the voice that has never steered me wrong. It’s not that the voice directs me toward painless experiences but it always directs me toward the path that I am meant to take in order to learn the lesson.

And so it began. In mid afternoon I laid down on the couch and my kitten laid down in the crook of my left side. We laid there for hours. I knew we would be there for the duration. Her little body was so hot. The vet’s words of caution kept coming into my awareness. Each time I heard them I would counter with what I knew to be true: Fevers are the body’s way of healing an illness. I had to remind myself over and over that bodies are not made wrong. Fevers are not bad but rather the body’s way of dealing with an invader. I had to check-in with my gut over and over to make sure we were still on the right path. It was an incredibly long afternoon and evening. I had to breathe through the panic that kept rising and find the courage to stay the course as I waited for Princess’ body to do its healing work.

At about 10 o’clock that night, I opened the window behind me and let some cool spring air flow in. I felt Princess’ body vibrating lightly. It wasn’t a shaking but really just a vibrating, a vibration I have felt in my own body on numerous occasions when big shifts were occurring in my life and in my body. Not long after I opened the window I felt the shift, a big one, a release, and with that Princess stood up and shook her body as if to rid herself of something stuck to her. She then hopped down off of me and headed to the kitchen for a snack. Her fever had broken and her appetite had returned. We had come through it. I understood my lesson well – I had ‘known” what to do all along.

Princess is my Chariot card. To this day Princess has remained very healthy.

Lotta and the Chickens

A few years ago I received a letter from the Veterinary Medical Board that said I had to stop doing nutrition work with horses. At the time of the letter, I was well aware of the current political climate between the VMB and alternative practitioners within California and the other states. The VMB was working on passing a senate bill that would make some alternative practices illegal if not performed or over seen by a licensed veterinarian. I knew I was not the only alternative practitioner to receive such a letter, from that perspective I didn’t take it personally.

The part of all of this that was hard for me not to take personally, was that some vet in my small horse community had obviously decided I should be one of the many practictioners to be targeted by the VMB. The idea that a member of my horse community (my other family) would have looked at me in this way was upsetting. This whole situation disrupted my reality and confused me. It left me feeling as though all I had known to be familiar was now somehow unfamiliar.

To look at me on the outside during that period in my life, you could see that I was doing fine. I understood why the letter had come and what the gift was in the lesson of the letter. But that didn’t change how my inner energy was moving. Inside I was in turmoil.

I know that when I feel that uncomfortable and disrupted that hopping on the back of a horse is probably not the best idea. But a few days after the letter arrived, all I really wanted to do was go for a ride. It just felt like riding would help to move the paralyzing feelings I was now having. So I made the decision to ride, I saddled up my mare and off we went. I was acutely aware a couple of minutes into our ride, that no amount of deep breathing or grounding was going to shift what was happening deep inside my body – my inner energy was weird! So I decided that rather than get off, which is what I would normally do, I would stay on and just let my energy be and see where this takes us.

On this day, Lotta had no interest in walking, only trotting or faster would do. Being confined to the arena seemed like agony to us, so off we went out the gate of the arena to explore. She sped up and down the road that flanks our property and finally around our property investigating every familiar but now seemingly scary corner with a snort and the occasional cartoon spook until finally she had a little explosion.

The catalyst for the explosion came from behind us, we both heard it. It sounded like a crowd of people running toward us as fast as they could thru a pile of crispy fallen tree leaves. The sound terrified her, her body tensed & her spine coiled and then she spun like a whirlwind, so fast it was hard to catch my breath. In the next moment, with one big crow hop, all four hooves lifted off the ground, there was nothing underneath us but air. When she landed she landed hard, legs slightly splayed and limbs now locked straight as if no more movement would ever be possible.

As we stood together, breathing heavily and facing the fear that had come up quickly behind us, we both saw that it was our family of friendly chickens. As Lotta & I settled back into our bodies we watched the chickens continue their enthusiastic pilgrimage around the property. It was really quite a poetic end to our exhilarating ride. She had perfectly reflected exactly how I had been personally feeling – the familiar had become unfamiliar and the truth inside me was that I found this new feeling of unfamiliarity to be somewhat terrifying.

Lotta being afraid of the chickens on this day, something she was more than familiar with, was really no different than me now feeling somewhat afraid of the veterinarians in my area.

It was clear that I could continue to allow the new found feeling of unfamiliarity to frighten me or I could just turn around and face it head on. She helped to remind me that the experiences we have only hold the energy we give to them. Her gift to me that day was amusing and healing and so very clear.