Working with Animals to Expand Your Gifts

Working with animals

Working in a healing capacity with animals can be a wonderful way to get started expanding your gifts. A Facebook friend, Natalie, told me that the day her beloved dog died, a small, skinny cat walked up the street and came directly to her and her children, as if he knew they needed him. She said the name “George” popped into her head. That night, as the family members were still crying about the sudden death of their dear dog, George purred loudly and rubbed Natalie’s face, clearly telling her that it would be okay. Their new pet made it so much easier for everyone to adjust to the loss of their old one. Animals always know what we need and how to help us – the least we can do is try to heal them when they need our assistance.

I’ve always had lots of pets. When I was a child we had Goldie, a cocker spaniel; a boxer named Teddy; and a whole series of cats. When I went off to college, I even tried to take my beagle puppy with me, but the dorm supervisor made me turn around and drive it back home. What was I thinking?! After I got married, I also had dogs. For example, there was Dolly, our black Lab who would squeeze herself into the smallest space in the car so she fit in with all of the climbing and camping gear. She would then reinflate herself when we reached the campground. And I always had cats, as many as eight at one time.

When I finally accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to have children, I started to collect animals in earnest and lived close to them on a remote ranch in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I began with llamas, which I bred. Llamas are amazing animals! They meditate every day, kneeling and facing the rising and setting sun. The mothers are so devoted to their young and do all of their training with gentle admonitions and little nips, never with anger or violence.

One day I was standing in a field, looking at a possible llama for purchase, when the owner’s horse suddenly galloped up. I was so startled by such a large animal that I quickly climbed a nearby fence for safety; I’d never actually seen a horse up close before! Afterward, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. A few days later, I asked a neighbor if I could ride hers, and the rest was history. I wound up taking a whole year off from my day job as an attorney to immerse myself in what I called “the university of the horse.” Today, I still have my very first horse, named Influence. He is a flashy, black Dutch warmblood, just like the horse in National Velvet. He now lives right outside my kitchen window in well-deserved retired bliss.

Thanks to Influence, I learned to talk to animals and heal them. It began one day after I’d had him for about a month. I was riding through the desert chaparral when I heard him say, “It’s too hot, and my back hurts.” I was so surprised that I almost fell off. I jumped down and looked him in the eye and could see him laughing. He has quite a sense of humor! From that day on, I started listening very carefully and discovered that you can actually hear animals communicate if you simply quiet your mind and use your intention. Those are the same steps I take when I’m getting ready to do healing work with people: I form an intention to listen to them very deeply, way below the level of speech.

I wanted Influence to be familiar with all kinds of animals so he would be less likely to spook. My goal was to avoid a situation where I could easily violate the cardinal rule of always keeping the horse between myself and the ground. That was a great excuse to start a collection: I acquired a dairy calf, a billy goat, chickens, ducks, and a pig, as well as peacocks and ostriches. While I was adjusting Influence to every creature, including the herd of llamas he lived with, I was getting a pretty good education in how to talk to them. I took classes in using healing touch on animals, which is actually quite a solid foundation for doing the same practice on humans, since animals (especially horses) are much more sensitive to touch than people are.

The first step is listening to hear what the animals have to say. They will always tell you what their problem is if you just tune in and listen.

~ From Be Your Own Shaman, by Deborah King


Tips for True Friendship

“The language of friendship is not words but meanings.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

In today’s busy world, supporting and feeding a healthy friendship is not always as easy as it sounds, but it is important that you take the time to make friends, to keep friends, and to be a good friend. As the Beatles song goes, we all get by with a little help from our friends, and that could not be truer! We all need help sometimes and other times, we are needed to help others. Knowing how to be a good friend is the best way to keep a good friend!

Here are some ways you can give and receive the gift of true friendship and nurture your higher self:

  • Make the time.
    We are all busy and have a gazillion things on our ‘to do’ plate. It’s not quantity of friends, but quality that defines true friendship, so instead of having two seconds for thirty “casual” friends, why not invest real time with a select group of close friends who are willing to carve out the time for you too? Plan activities in advance and when you really don’t have the time, consider sending a quick email or text to let your friend know you are thinking of them. You will find when you are on the receiving end of this gesture, it can go a long way in brightening your stressful day!
  • Don’t keep score.
    True friendship is a two-way street. Don’t be a taker and only call your friend for favors – that kind of behavior will lead to an abusive relationship. Be a giver and do favors for your friends before they even think to ask. Giving truly does feel so much better than receiving. Your soul and higher self will thank you for it.
  • Be present, honest and real.
    When you are with your friend, be in the moment. Don’t check your iPhone or blackberry every five minutes over dinner, don’t fall into the habit of not listening (you know that reply of “uh huh” that comes out automatically when you aren’t paying attention….), and don’t hide your feelings from your friend. One of the benefits of true friendship is being able to share feelings and validate each other’s feelings. Open your heart chakra and your higher self and let those feelings in!
  • Don’t let your ego control you.
    The ego is very powerful. Make sure you are grounded (daily meditation and journaling can help you) and try to keep your chakras balanced. Take care of yourself emotionally, physically and spiritually, and you will be better able to help others take care of themselves as well. Don’t let all your own issues get in the way of true friendship.
  • Support your friend, even if you don’t support their situation.
    This is one of the most valuable and useful tips I can offer you. There are several instances when you may disagree with choices your friend has made, relationships in their life, or situations they are in. Supporting your friend does not mean you need to back up their choice or be in agreement with every situation they are in – but it does mean you can still give and receive true friendship. You can still love and appreciate your friend and offer support in the form of “I don’t love the situation you are in, but I still love you and am here for you.” Forcing your friend to choose when they may already be in a compromised or difficult situation will not help your friend or your friendship with this friend. And try to avoid saying “I told you so” after the fact…
  • Don’t ditch out when the going gets rough.
    Everyone has rough patches and tough times in their lives. Maybe you haven’t had a really bad year yet, but you cannot plan when things will go south. Having a true friend by your side can make all the difference in the world as to how you emerge on the other end of your ordeal. So why not be that friend as well? Help your friend conquer their demons and trials and let them know they are not alone.
  • Accept the whole person.
    No one is perfect – not even you! Listen to your higher self and get rid of those unrealistic expectations you have of perfection. Realize that your friend is going to have some flaws. Accept your friend for who they are –the good and the bad – and allow them to see your whole you – the good and the bad. Only then can you have the real truth of who you each are, and be able to experience, appreciate and love true friendship openly and honestly.

Promoting Women’s Wellness

Women's Health Week

It’s that time of year again for Women’s Health Week and it’s about time! This year’s theme, “It’s Your Time,” could not be more appropriately titled. Now, more than ever before, it is vital to acknowledge Women’s Health Week and work to empower women today to take charge of their health and take great care of themselves. In the past several months alone, women and their health choices have been under attack and used by politicians as part of a political game more than ever before. There is a war on women going on, and women’s wellness and health issues are at stake. It is high time women take back their power, and both men and women unite together to promote women’s wellness. Let’s make women’s health a top priority in our everyday life! Not just this week, but every week and every year!

Defining Women’s Wellness

Women’s wellness embodies everything in women’s health – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Women tend to put themselves last as many of them try to balance work and family and do it all. Oftentimes, their physical, spiritual and emotional health needs are put last in the long list of daily to-do’s. Women are so focused on taking care of everyone and everything else that they forget to even think about who is taking care of them. It is perplexing to me that so many women aren’t on their own list of priorities, as I believe it is imperative that in order to take care of anyone else’s needs, they really need to be able to handle their own selves first.

So to jumpstart your plan of action, here are some starter tips on ways you can celebrate Women’s Health Week and take better care of yourself and the women in your life today:

Physical Wellness: Taking Care of our Bodies!

  • Visit your healthcare professional/encourage the women in your life to visit their healthcare professional for regular checkups and preventative screenings.
  • Adopt an active lifestyle – make it a point to take walks, exercise, try yoga or Pilates or other mind-body workouts that will not only make you feel better physically, but will also ground you and improve your emotional health.
  • Eat healthy! Proper nutrition and drinking lots of water will go a long way in taking good care of your body.
  • Avoid unhealthy and risky behaviors and habits such as smoking, drinking excessively, and not wearing seatbelts or bike helmets.

Emotional Health: Taking Care of our Minds!

  • Make daily meditations a part of your everyday routine! Twice a day for twenty minutes will go a long way in helping you calm your mind and find your inner peace and sense of self. If you don’t know how to meditate or would like to learn an amazing meditation technique that will take your meditation to a higher level of consciousness, please check out my meditation download available online at:
  • Get plenty of Zzz’s! Sleep is important to keeping your stress down and taking care of women’s wellness. You may notice if you fall asleep often during your daily meditations that you may be lacking in the sleep department. Make sure you give your body and mind time to rest and recuperate before you start conquering the next day’s list of to-do’s!
  • Manage your stress better by learning to say ‘no’, making boundaries for yourself and keep them! No one can look out for you better than yourself, so be sure to set some limits so you aren’t overworked and overstressed!
  • Find something that brings you joy in your life – whether it’s an activity or hobby you love to do, or people you love to see who make you feel happy – and make a point to find the time to do it/see them.

Spiritual Calm: Taking Care of our Higher Self and Connecting to Source!

  • Reconnect with your higher self by reconnecting with Mother Nature – take walks through parks, on hiking trails, by the ocean. Appreciate all that our beautiful nature has to offer and feel closer to Source. Or try what I do, sleep outside to get a big dose of nature every night!
  • Journal your thoughts and emotions daily. Writing in a journal daily is one of the most powerful and uplifting tools both women and men can use to find our inner truths. If we can be 100% honest with ourselves, we can be honest with the world and we can connect closer to Source and each other.
  • Empower your Chakras! Daily meditations, taking a bath with sea salt and baking soda, hugging a tree, loving our pets, and tapping into our creativity are just some of the ways we can improve our chakra balance and thus, connect closer to Source. For tips on buffing up your chakras, you can read more in my blog on the Secret Seven at:

These tips are a springboard towards better health for both men and women, but I urge all of you this week especially to please make a point to help the women in your lives as well as yourself to better nurture their spiritual, physical and emotional health. Too often, we move at such a fast pace in our society that women’s most basic needs get forgotten or left behind. Instead of pushing women’s wellness to the backburner this year, let us make a point of promoting and living it!


The Mother Relationship

Your connection to your mother serves as a major factor in your life today, whether you were adopted or abandoned, whether your mother is still with you or not, no matter how close or distant your relationship was with her growing up. Mother relationships are pivotal in forming a part of who we are now. This Mother’s Day, I encourage you to take a close look at your relationship with your mother through fresh eyes. Ask yourself some deep questions and examine how she helped to form the individual you have become.

Take some time to review your relationship with your mother and thank her for, at a minimum, bringing you into this world.  And please come on over to read my blog which explores the tie that binds us to mom at the Huffington Post here. And if you’ll share the story of your relationship with your mom there, we can all learn from one another.


Connect to Source: Make Prayer Work for You

This week, we celebrate a National Day of Prayer. While you may have an image of getting down on your knees with your hands clasped like the woman in this photo, prayer can take on many various forms that are as equally valid and spiritual as going to church. What makes something a prayer is its ability to carry what we are trying to say at a deep level, but cannot voice directly.

Here are some ideas for ways you can better voice your deepest thoughts and prayers this week and connect to Source:

Read or write a poem.
Reading and writing poetry is a great way to access Spirit and can be a very prayerful experience. I have been a big fan of poetry since I was a teenager and used to listen to old vinyl records of poems like Robert Frost’s “Stopping by the Woods”. Often, poetry can express what you are feeling without having the words to say your feelings out loud. Poems can ground you closer to our Mother Earth and help you connect to Source, all at the same time. Their beauty can lift you to a higher spiritual place.

Get in touch with your artistic inner self.
Doing art as an act of prayer is an embodied, active prayer. If you undertake art with spiritual awareness, it will have a spiritual effect. In this light, creating art is the channel through which an artist’s prayers are manifested. Art as prayer is a conscious connection to the Creator, a true way to connect to Source. So pick up some paper and paints, or even markers, and draw what comes to your mind when you are thinking of your deepest thoughts and wishes.

Listen or create music.
Everyone can get in touch with their inner musical self and create prayer through music, whether it is listening to your favorite songs or singing and chanting your own music. Music can also be used as an introduction to prayer time or to complete the end of prayer. Kirtan chanting is one form of music that can bring you closer to your spiritual self. But even just putting in your favorite CD and listening to beautiful music you love can help you awaken your larger self and your sense of awe, beauty, longing, pain and joy. You can let music act as a vehicle to connect you to Source.

Move yourself into a place of prayer.
Movement itself, whether it is running or doing yoga, dance, pilates, or martial arts, can take you to a higher zone where you feel more connected to Spirit. Movement itself can serve as a form of prayer for you as it can help you transport your feelings and raise your consciousness. Not only will you feel more grounded and healthier in your body itself, but you will be able to put your mind into a place where you can express clearly your innermost thoughts and feelings to your higher Source. Dance especially can lift you and help you express what you are not putting directly into words.

Visit a calming place.
There are places, besides churches, where you are able to feel closer to Spirit and connect to Source through the power of prayer. Often, these are places close to Mother Nature, such as the beach or a park or the mountains. Take a walk and visit one of these places that help put the serenity back into your mind and thoughts and help you feel that closeness with Source. The thoughts and closeness you feel in these places can function as prayer and serve well to lift your soul higher.

Try not to think of prayer as a rigid, rules-based religious obligation. Instead, look at prayer in its most organic and creative light – through poetry, music, dance, and nature. Prayer is a powerful and beautiful tool that can help you achieve your highest consciousness and enlighten your soul, and everyone should feel invited to participate in prayer.

If you would like to become more adept at prayer and learn to coach others to do the same, please click here for information on my enlightening online certification course in the Power of Prayer.