Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holiday Gifts

The mass-media holidays are upon us. The powerful presence of the consumer driven society we live in can be a bit much at times. I find when I slow down it is easier for me to hear the living presence or the pulse of nature and the spirit that is its core. When I do this I am able to find my balance and remember the importance of hearth and home. This is especially helpful for me this time of the year when we are seduced into a different understanding about physical package and giving by the date on the calendar and not the pattern of our own knowing.

The Gift of Animals:
Having animals in my life help me to return to that quiet center repeatedly. Their "wild" eyes remind me of my own roaming spirit and their presence brings me back to the body in joy.

The animal companions that I have joined on my journey are the teachers I gravitate towards for their grounded nature, their fluid connection to source and the gravitas they express daily.

This holiday season I carry special appreciation for the animal lives that have gone on beyond the veil and into the mystery as well as the special boy who lies just a few feet from me as I type this. He is now my solo canine companion, (for the time being).

The Mystical Gift
I am speaking of Yona (Bear), (aka: Yodohi/ Peaceful Bear). He was born February 2, 2009. He joined our pack after an extraordinary series of events that made in clear to me he was being presented to me. It was my choice whether or not to bring him in.

Spring was opening its door to abundance. The light was warming all it touched and business was picking up when I was struck by an other worldly experience that pointed toward a new life coming to join us.

By then, Attah, Cricket and I were getting settled after our challenging winter. It was a very cold and emotional fall and winter with powerful lessons to learn, but with it came a deeper awareness and a kind of cleansing or purifying of my life focus and spiritual practice.

Spring was a welcomed guest that brought with it a new, clearer vision and a kind of opening I have not experienced in many years.

This powerful shift began one bright sunny, productive day. I was reclining as I wrote out notes for my next day. The TV was running, light was pouring in, the colors of my sun porch offered a subtle glow that was the backdrop for my light hearted contemplation of the next day's business that needed tending. I was relaxed as my thought flowed in a restful, productive manner. Attah laid near the bed, relaxed also. As I wrote I was stopped by an unexpected image that presented itself for my review.

Interconnectedness and the Flow of Wisdom
Over the years, I have considered that we all are a kind of conduit, when we get ourselves aligned with the stream of consciousness... information just flows. Those of us who live outside the box a bit more then others.. have an added plus that helps to remove the barriers that bind us to a notion of what life is. In the release of expectation that life fits any particular nature we allow it to flow to us in uncommon ways. This is the best, brief explanation I might offer those of you who have not yet experienced such a thing. But, I am not a special being, I am not a psychic, I am not a person striving to or accomplishing anything of a supernatural fashion. But things happen that we do not always fully understand. Things of this nature have happened to me since I was 12 years old. I have learned to trust them. They have not once proven false and have, in every instance but one been verified.

The way I have come to understand these experiences is this; I am a person who, from time to time, accidentally falls upon a kind of open place within me that allows for information and inspiration to flow in startling ways. Although I will say, at 44 years of age, it no longer startles me, it might startle others who have not yet experienced this.

These experiences do however invigorate me. They remind me again that we are all connected to one another and to our source energy. (Give that term whatever name feels appropriate to you. What I reference has been called stream of consciousness. Some call this the "The Creative Force". There are endless names for this infinite source of energy and wisdom that moves beyond the confines of our time/ space reality. I consider it the source of all of life, the energy that binds all things together. Many call it God, Allah, Yaweh, Creator.

It stands to reason that if we are all created from the same source and of the same "stuff" then we are indeed unified. And, it follows that there is no reason to believe we would ever be separate from that source since every fiber of our environment, our form, and the living things that make up our universe are all, every single bit of it made of energy that is interconnected. Einstein proved this to us many years ago with his theory of relativity. All things in our cosmos are made of energy.

My experience has taught me that we all have access to this endless source of knowledge and because it unifies all of us in one body, all of humanity and all living things including the most minute aspects of nature are intertwined in a living dance. (Science supports this idea when we look at life from the vantage point of the subatomic level. We are all made of energy that moves with a mystery that the greatest minds are attempting to unravel. Reference the films "What the Bleep Do We Know", "Mind Walk" to expand on this.) When we look at life through this lens we are better able to remove the barriers that restrict the flow of this abundant source that is our (and all of life's) heritage.

My recent personal exploration of this has made it clear to me that when we find ourselves, or work ourselves toward a better feeling place, where we are able to be optimistic, clear, aligned with this abundant source of peace, creativity and abundance we become open to the natural flow of this energy and wisdom. We then allow the natural conduit quality of our awareness to give way to a free flow of those around us and those that might be similarly aligned. If we are especially creative in the process, these seemingly mystical, although completely natural elements present themselves in a manner that can be downright playful. This makes sense to me when I think about joy being our reason for existing. This has been my long held childhood belief that we are here to live in the joy of creation, creating our daily lives and our larger lives as we go.

How Yona Found Us
This particular sunny day was just one of those moments. I was pleasantly surprised by a vision that presented itself as I laid there writing my to do list for the next day. Lying there, as clear as day I saw a long haired black shepherd. He was not jet black, but rather, had fawn colored legs with black on his toes and fawn eye brows. Being an artist and a human deeply embedded to the visual world with a particular focus on animals, I stopped what I was doing to gather up this image with as much clarity as possible. I studied his form, he was panting, I knew he was male. He laid there relaxed and resting. He was calm and pleasant, someone's good companion.

I was allowed an enormous pocket of time to gather his image into my mind's eye before it finally grew faint and my day returned to the normal "concrete" reality we all ordinarily reside in. I had a substantial opportunity to study his form fully and listened to my heart to discern why this dog was presented to me.

At the time, I had no intention of getting a second dog. Although, when Rumi, Attah and I moved to that apartment, the thought did come to me. It was, after all an enormous yard and Attah had made it clear to me, she might like a special, particular male companion. But, between the winter we just endured and the fact that there were already 4 dogs in that yard and 3 of them were not my dogs, it seemed prudent to wait to bring a puppy into our world. My concern had been the other dogs might offer an influence that was counter productive. But, I was intrigued by this "vision" and wanted to learn more about this animal and why it was presented to me.

That evening I jumped on the internet and googled "long haired, black shepherd" just out of curiosity. Although I had little confidence this is how we track the mystery of life... it seemed a logical place to explore the possibilities. My search led me to thousands upon thousands of sites, of course... and I laughed at myself as I looked at the numbers of hits this query presented. The first of which was a TV interview with a dog handler who was responsible for finding a 12 year old boyscout who had been lost in the woods for 4 days. The rescue dog's name was Gandolf. I was touched by the story and the dog was strikingly alike the dog that visited me earlier that day. I laughed to myself though really when I looked again at the thousands of hits I had to explore.

As I dug into the list of sites I kept returning to my first hit about Gandolf. I could not stop thinking about him. And he was the closest in feeling and in image when I closely considered this dog that magically appeared to me. The last time I reviewed the article about his rescue, I noticed there was a website for his handler, Misha at the bottom of the article. In a moment of relaxed exploration, I clicked on the link and up popped Misha's website. As the home page loaded, there I saw Gandolf in the upper left corner of the site, lying in exactly the same pose as the dog that visited me hours before. It was startling to go over all of the subtle details in his coat and body structure to realize this was indeed the same dog... or in the very least this dog had the exact same physical appearance as the mystic dog of my vision.

As I settled into the website it was an added to treat to learn that Gandolf was a Shiloh Shepherd. They are not all that common, they are part of the rare breed association and if I were to get a second dog, it would be a shiloh. My girl, Attah was a shiloh shepherd after all and she was my dream dog. It seemed only fitting for her companion, if she was to have one, to be of her own kind.

My interest began to build.

Contemplating my next move led me to writing a note to Misha about my uncommon story. I have found these things come through best when all my cards are on the table. So, I wrote a quick, frank note with this woman about the uncommon path that led me to her site. I began by writing, " This may seem odd but...." Her prompt reply was, "That does not sound odd at all. I am accustomed to life presenting itself this way." This began our month long dialog that ultimately led to an additional interesting unfolding.

After a brief conversation, Misha suggested I fill out a puppy application to begin our dialog. I was under no obligation but it might offer us a better framework in which to explore the possibilities. I agreed. With that application I included two references to two other shiloh breeders I had relationships with. One had grown to be a very dear friend of mine who is down in Maryland, with Mt Airy Shilohs.

In a couple days I got a note from Mt Airy Shilohs. My friend Nancy was surprised by the note about the puppy possibilities. She expressed her surprise by stating, "I did not know you were looking for a puppy." I assured her I was not looking, but then explained to her this uncommon situation, knowing she'd understand this, her sensibility and mind on such issues are much aligned. She told me, "Well, that sounds very important. And I'd hate to confuse such a valuable process with this thought. But, I have been thinking of you and awful lot these past few months and have wanted to call you. There is a litter from one of Mt Airy Shiloh progeny in Michigan and I am due the pick of the litter. I really want a boy but, am just not able to take one into my home right now and have been trying to imagine where that boy might be raised. This is an important litter that will contribute some serious changes to the lines and I want very much to bring one of those pups home but need to find a good home for him and I keep thinking of you."

It was touching Nancy would consider our home as the right one for her pup. But, I restated I really wasn't LOOKING .. but that this just presented itself and I felt I really needed to pay attention to the dog I was drawn to and not follow my ego pursuits. She understood and gently added, if you have time, just take a peek at the site where you can see the litter's father.

Around the same time I was still in dialog with Misha Dayspring Shiloh Shepherds (out of TN). By then Misha had suggested I explore the dogs on her list. She offered me a link, which I checked out with some reservation. I wanted to be certain I did not stray from Gandolf since he seemed to be the dog that "came" to me. "But", I thought, "what harm is there in just looking at these beautiful dogs". As I reviewed the dozen or so males on her list I felt no spark for any of them except one particular male that utterly captivated me. I was in a silly dialog with myself about the ego draw of package and the seduction of the physical form. It was easy to want to claim a dog that might be the product of such gorgeous form and color and presence. But I reminded myself that I thought I wanted a dark sable dog when I found Attah and although she was nothing at all like the physical form of her mother, she was an animal I'd be hard pressed to top when it came to intelligence, gentleness and connection.

I'd find myself return to that big dog's image over and over as I contemplated what it might be in him that held my gaze. About the 4th or 5th visit to that lovely face and a few days later Nancy with Mt Airy wrote me again, inquiring if I took a look a the male she wanted me to see. I had not, and I told her I would. So, dutifully, I followed her link and was stunned silent as the page opened. Here before me was the specific male I had been so captivated by over and over again. This was the precisely the dog that has held my gaze for days, perhaps longer.

The dog I was entranced by was "Carter". He's living in his home in Cananda. To this day I am not sure what site Misha led me to.. but am grateful she followed her intuition and had the clarity of wisdom to speak freely with this crazy woman and her dog vision. So these are the odd specifics broken down:

The Process Broken Down
1. I had a vision of a long haired black shepherd.

2. The first site uncovered on my google search was that of Gandolf having rescued a 12 yr old boy.
3. The bottom of the article offered a link to the handler's dog website.
4. The website posted (at the time) the main picture immediately visible on the home page, a dog that appeared to be the exact dog in precisely the exact pose as presented in the vision.
5. I filled out an application for puppies to speak in depth with Misha and included references to Mt Airy Shilohs.
6. Nancy, from Mt Airy Shilohs contacted me, remarking I have been on her mind with regard to a pup she was expecting from a litter in Michigan.
7. She asked me to see the father of the litter. I did not at the time follow through.
8. I was similarly led by Misha to look at a list of dogs that were responsible for litters at that time.
9. After reviewing the long list of lovely dogs, the ONLY one that caught my eye was a large male up in Canada.
10. After finally following Nancy's request, I found that the male she wanted me to see and the one I was captivated by, thanks to Misha's contribution, were indeed one in the same dog.

At that time I considered the alignment and the likelihood of my bringing a new life into our living space. There was little question at that point.. but I remained with my reservations because I knew I was not as grounded as I would need to be to offer a puppy the best of me. I was still carrying some hesitation on the heels of Rumi's death and had the other dogs and neighbors to consider. The yard we shared was an expansive open space. No fences divided us, so when my neighbors dogs or my dog(s) were out they all had free access to one another and to everyone's portion of the yard. Not ideal. Also, cash was slow moving at the time, so there was the concern of coming up with the cash for purchase as well as the cash for the necessary early vet bills to secure the pup's health as well as upkeep in daily maintenance. I just was not convinced I was ready to take it all on.

After a couple weeks of discussing it, it turns out Nancy and I were seeking the same personality, and had many needs that were aligned. Attah needed a particular personality so she would feel safe and not subdued. I wanted a large dog, so did Nancy. She offered him at a highly discounted fee, knowing my life as a canine guide who's spirit life was kept alive thanks to daily visits to the woods. This was looking like a match made in heaven. The rest I just gave up, let go and allowed the powers that be to direct me on this new, exciting path.

The Confirmation That Made it Final
The necessary preparations were made and we began the process. By then the pups were a week or two away from being sent to their new homes. Nancy and I had plans to drive to Michigan together to make the selection. After managing a series of hurdles, I finally found myself at a stand still just days before our departure. My truck died and I had no cash to address it. I needed to stick close to home to repair and gather work for those repairs.

One thing I knew, if I could trust ANYONE to pick out a dog for me, it would be Nancy.

She was up for 4 or 5 days, making the selection. Because she had pick of the litter, she was allowed the time to make her selection after very careful consideration. There was a temperament test to assess the boy's personality. The woman running the test, one of the top in her field was clear the "ONLY" pup to pick, based on Nancy's personality criteria was this one individual boy, out of 9 pups total. Nancy, not unlike myself, set the opinion aside, knowing she had to decide for herself ultimately. After all, this pup was being selected as the best fit for her breeding pool and future progeny. There was body structure and body expression to consider as well as personality.

While all that went on, I remained in Philly visiting the site periodically that showed the pups at 5 weeks. It is hard to know for sure what any dog is going to look like when we are assessing form the vantage point of 5 weeks of age. Coloration changes a great deal and my eye was not skilled in this particular arena. However... one thing I was clear about, one little boy kept getting my attention, but, by the photos he appeared to be much smaller then the others and I really wanted a big for my girl. Well, a big boy would fullfill my life long desire to have a larger then life boy dog to wrestle with, lean on as a pillow and romp with in the woods.

Nancy arrived in Michigan late Tuesday night, and was taking her time selecting, she planned to choose on Saturday. It was Thursday evening, two days since we spoke that I had a second unusual thing occur that I now look back upon fondly with a smile and secret knowing.

I was sitting in my apartment, lost in thought, when I felt my cat, Cricket, brush against my leg. Without looking I reached down to stroke his coat. I noticed there was no cat within reach. As I turned to look, I saw Cricket was not at my side. I was in the room alone with the exception of a small puppy sitting about a foot and a half away, staring at me. He sat perfectly calm and content with his head ever so slightly cocked to one side.

I noticed he was wearing a pink collar made of yarn. His soft face was filled with a gentleness and joy. He just looked at me. He did not come to me in the fashion of a photograph but more like a hologram of a living animal. I knew him to be alive although he was still. It was more akin to a 3D photograph that was slightly misted.. and translucent.

While gazing at him I noticed his pink little collar and recognized him as the little pup I had admired just a day before. I smiled.. and then laughed out loud when I spoke to him, "You are very cute. But you are too small. You can't come." I just shook my head and went about my business.

Saturday late in the day my much awaited call from Nancy came. I asked her, "OK, who'd ya pick?" She said I tried very hard not to pick this boy, after I was led to him by the woman doing the personality test. She told me he was the only pick for our personality needs. But after looking at all the pups with all their "faults" in body structure, (that's a breeder thing.. ) the only option was to pick the "pink boy".

I just smiled warmly.... I guess I'm getting a very special puppy. She agreed and we shared our laughter and amazement at the wonderful world we live in with all its mystery and powerful desire. Attah and I went to pick up Yona in Maryland, March 30, 2008.

As an artist, animal communication specialist and intense observer, I watched closely as Yona and Attah went through their proper introductions. It was clear to me this boy intended to be Attah's superior one day. And she made it clear she was fine with this choice. I thought to myself," this special boy would make her a good companion one day". He walked up to her at 7 weeks, as if he were 130lbs. If he had a step stool, he would have saddled up next to her and draped his head over her shoulder. She did a celebratory dance saved only for the mature males that she sees as apt studs that meet her approval.

The next three months she nurtured that boy with the finest balance of gentleness, boundary and acceptance of his calm, confident growing position within our pack.

We lost that dear dear friend to bone cancer June 2008. But that story is blended with its own mystery and blessings. That will have to wait til the next little novella/ posting. Until then, remember, the best gifts often come in the most unexpected fashions.

Animal Conscious is BORN!

Animal Conscious is BORN!
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