So, why exactly DOES this blog exist?
This blog began as a journal for my On The Road journey originally scheduled for 2009. Because I am following my intuition the development of the why and where has needed time to formulate.
Much has happened since I set out on this path and clarity is forming powerfully now.
My journey began with the purging of my belongings and the apartment and vehicle that represented my being tied to the world in a fashion that no longer served me.
One 21' RV and One 6.2L Diesel Chevy Superban later I am down to about 15-20 boxes of living and creative supplies as where I am going comes into sharper focus.
I have mentioned early on the choice to make this trip was due to the loss of my dear buddy Attah. (the blonde shepherd at the top of the blog.) It is outside the box a bit to change one's life because of a dog. Certainly not the average life choice.. people have been put in padded rooms for less. But, if you lived my life you might understand how one dog could change so much for me.
Certainly, it was not just one dog. This dog in particular was a remarkable being.. and, the clincher is, she spoke to me. I could not tell you what her voice sounds like within me.. but I can tell you, that feeling of KNOWING someone other than yourself is speaking within you is an undeniable feeling.
People who live closely with their dogs experience such things often with a softer nuance.. they just know when their dog needs to potty, eat, play, cuddle, walk, drink, etc. This little nuance is the very thing that initiated this trip... and for that reason this blog.
Attah reached into me the last day we had together.. and made it clear to me she needed me to "let her go".
It all happened when I finally had proof that her hind quarters were so riddled with cancer, they were literally translucent. There were options of surgery.. but I hesitated.. did she want this? Was it worth it? Was she up for the daily phsyical therapy and the drastic change in her body structure? And, knowing her mother AND father died of cancer.. what really were her chances of survival?
I was devastated to have to consider forcing the death of this most gentle friend and intelligent soul so filled with grace. But, I had to choose what was best for her. She made it clear to me she was in horrific pain. She refused to lay down or sit for over 11 hours. She was exhausted. I was terrified and horribly sad.
I did what I do when I am forced to make a decision before I feel I am ready.. I reach out to those closest to me. With regard to the dogs in my life, I am fortunate to have a large, remarkable circle of people to reach into when I am at a loss. I needed those closest to my Attah experience ..
Nancy, Sandi and Christi were fortunately near their phones.. and able to make time to speak with me while pressed into panic with the force of this terribly difficult decision weighing on me.
Nancy knew my deeper spirit, the way I lived with the animals in my intimate and larger world. She understood my particular spirit path which involves a deep, intuitive connection with nature in general. Nancy breeds Shilohs in her home and is responsible for Yona's dad and uncle Cody, (whom I foster for a short time).
Sandi is another kindred soul who knows my spirit path from a slightly different, though deeply related, perspective and hovers in and out of my world as a sort of healer. Sandi is the happy owner of a shiloh named Bella who happens to be the aunt of my "puppy" Yona.
Christi, the first shiloh breeder I met and still one of the most impressive breeders I've met. She hand rears her pups.. taking 6 weeks off to be with them in their early development.. exposing them to new sounds, smells, experiences.. offering them the most remarkable, sound base to begin from. Christi was basically Attah's human Grandma. It is because of Christi that Attah found her way into my world.
I reached out to these remarkable women on the last day of Attah's life.. searching for the discernment and strength to make the decision that was best for this dear friend of mine who was suffering so severely.
It is in time such as these that people's true colors show.. and these women were able to be so very present.. their genuine concern and support could not have come to me more fully than it did that day.
I recall Sandi mentioning, "Did you ask Attah what she wants?".
This might sound odd to some.. but, for me.. I was almost embarrassed.. how could I overlook such a simple thing? Me, who has spoken to animals since childhood.. who has had more hawks, foxes, birds and other animals speak to me, guide me in such profound ways. How could I overlook this simple, natural question?
I did just that. I sat with my dear friend. I wrapped my arms around her.. trying to support her.. and asked her.. "what would you have me do?" I explained to Attah the procedure the doctor recommended. I told her I'd find the money.. and that I would be with her through her recovery.. and we'd figure it out together. I would be there every day with her.. doing her exercises.. preparing for a new way of dealing with the physical world. I told her, "if you want to do that, I promise you, I can do that and we will find healing through the process." But, if you are not up to that.. that is ok too. But I need you to make it utterly clear to me. I can not bear the thought of making this decision without being utterly clear about what you want."
I had my arms supporting her exhausted frame.. holding her there.. smelling her coat.. feeling the presence of this angel of a dog... and quickly from deep within I felt a vibration rise in me.. it shook me deeply... rattled me.. in pulses gathered together sharply I heard within me... "you have to let me go. I need you to let me go." She was crying it to me... for a moment, a flash in time.. I could feel this remarkable being resonating within me.. echoing within me with a force I had not experienced before.
I tried not to lose it completely.. which took some doing.. but I nodded silently as the tears ran like a torrent down my face.. "ok" I softened her. "I do hear you.. I love you so very much.. if this is what you want.. I will make it happen." The moment I told her that I felt as if a burden was lifted from her.. one that now I was prepared to carry.
Without carrying on this story to its fullest.. I will tell you, she spoke to me again as we approached the vet's office. My vet was unable to come to the house and do what we must. I had no choice but to head to him. I explained all this to Attah as we got in the vehicle and drove to the vet. As we got closer to the vet.. I watched my magnificent friend in the rear view mirror. As I told her what we were going to do.. I told her, "you are going to fly into bliss my friend... all your pain will be gone.. you will no longer be confined by the limits of this beautiful body you inhabit... and you will be immersed with the infinite. I will miss you so terribly.. but I am so grateful for the time we have had together."
As I spoke with her I watched her stance change. She lifted her head, for the first time in two days. By the time we arrived at the vet, she was standing as if she were the healthiest she has ever been. It was puzzling at the time, but I've come to understand the experience from a new vantage point.
When it was time to get her out of the vehicle.. I heard within me.. "please.. don't pick me up. Please, just step back, I can do this." I looked at her surprised.. knowing this amazing dog had been standing for so terrbly long and knowing what I knew about the condition of her bones.. I hesitated.. "honey, I can help." She stared at me, not moving forward... staring me in the eyes.. "I can do this, please let me." I nodded.. and apologized.. stepped back.. and she jumped out of the truck and landed as if she were absolutely, perfectly sound.
Had I known no better, I'd think there was absolutely nothing wrong with this vital, sparkling animal.
As I moved toward her to leash her.. (she was a very well behaved dog.. who could be utterly trusted to walk with me.. and stay with me.. but i always leashed her near streets.. to keep her safe.. just in case. But on this occasion, as I went to leash her.. she turned and looked at me.. and again.. her essence reached within me and I knew she did not want or need the leash. I nodded.. and said to her, "as you wish dear".
We walked, with Attah about 6 or 7 feet ahead of me.. walking calmly up the block. She led me to the sidewalk that makes its way directly to the vet's door. When she reached that path.. she stopped.. looked up the sidewalk at the door and turned to look at me. As she did this.. I began to cry. She stared at me for a brief moment.. and dropped her head, her shoulders and her tail, at which point I heard within me, "You are not ready. You must get yourself ready." I nodded silently, through my tears.. as she walked up the sidewalk away from the vet.
I thanked her for understanding.. and we walked a bit into the neighborhood around the vet's office.
It was a most beautiful summer day. We walked and I watched her every move.. she walked on ahead of me just slightly.. she took her time.. and watched all the life around her. Where every day prior she could barely lift her head.. now she was watching all the world around her.
At one point, she stopped and scanned the yards ahead of her and her gaze stopped on a single red flower in a neighboring yard. I watched her walk a half block or so up to this singular flower. She gazed at it up close.. then buried her nose deep within it.. sniffing it for the longest time. Not once had i ever seen her notice a flower.. let alone.. bury her nose for a sniff. She was never nose-centric. We worked a garden for 5 years.. and not once do i recall her showing any interest in flowers.
Once satisfied.. she lifted her head.. still standing there.. and then gazed all around her.. she watched a group of birds fly over head.. and watched intently as they trailed off into the distance.. then she slowly turned her gaze upon me.. and stood there staring deep into me.. and that is when she gave me the biggest gift any animal has ever bestowed upon me. It was at that moment that I felt a swelling within me.. as she said, "LOOK at what you have here .. LOOK where you live.. EVERY day you have access to this. EVERY day.. it is always here for you. LOOK at this!" Then she gazed off again.. and I walked up to her.. put my arm and hand across her strong back.. and thanked her.. "you are so right.. I need to remember this more and more... I promise.. I will remember to look.. remember to listen. I promise. Thank you!"
Then, we walked a little longer.. silently now.. and then, she turned .. and headed back to the vet.
By the time we got a block away.. I was doubting this seemingly sound dog would have to be put down. I called Nancy one last time. We stood just across the street katy corner from the vet. "How do you do it? How do you let go of an animal that looks like the picture of health?" My dear friend softly replied.. you know she is not healthy. You know she is in pain. Allow her to go with the dignity that is so much of who she is. This is the time to do it. Don't wait until she is lost to the pain of her body." ... "YES", I said. "You are right... Thank you".
As I hung up my cell phone.. I looked at Attah.. she glanced up at me and began stepping into the road.. I took her collar so she didn't step into traffic. As the the road cleared.. she walked ahead of me.. and lead me directly into the vets office.. when I opened the door, without a leash, she stepped right up to the counter... and waited patiently.
The vet knew us well and knew we were coming.. the girls behind the counter all came around to speak with Attah.. and all eyes were brimming over. They had known her since she was young.. and everyone would marvel at Attah.. she was so calm, so gentle.. a real ambassador for her kind. It was touching to know this office was so impacted by her life.. that same scene would repeat itself for many months to come as my path would cross with others who knew her and who heard the sad news.
In time I wrote a tribute to her which happened to get printed in the Chestnut Hill Local. I received calls and notes from people whom I'd known some time, or either met in passing or never met at all but who saw the article and remembered seeing Attah waiting patiently for me outside a shop in Chestnut Hill.. all billowing with remarks about Attah's powerful presence. To know she touched so many lives is a comfort.. to know I had 6 fortunate years with her as my closest, daily companion was a great blessing.
In the months that followed her departure from this plane.. much about my path with her came into sharper focus. I realized a year and a half prior to her death, either she influenced my dreams or my intuition was tapped. Thanks to a terrible dream we discovered her kidneys were going toxic. Had I not insisted they do blood work.. based on my dream.. who knows what could have happened.
Revisiting those memories.. I remembered a promise I made to her that I did not follow through on. I promised I'd listen better to my intuition... and create a space in our life for travel to the National Parks.. I bought a pop up camper with that in mind.. and did a little bit of camping with her.. but not nearly as much as I would have liked. I was still clinging to old ideas of limitation.
By the end of August I was pressed by my landlord to sign a years lease. The idea did not sit well with me for many reasons.. but mostly.. it was the feeling I was left with.. and then.. it happened.. I realized everything was exactly as it needed to be. I needed to change my life.. to focus my life on my intuition.. and learn to develop it more fully... learn to trust it again.. I could see now so many ways my walk with Attah was assisting that process and that process culminated with the conversation she and I had on that fateful day.
So what was that picture of my life? What needed refining?
I realized I had always wanted to travel cross country. I always dreamed of seeing the National Parks... dreamed of traveling ruggedly .. just me and my dog... doing art.. submerging in nature.. writing... hiking.... living quietly. I remembered around the time I bought the camper I had a powerful urge to purge my belongings.. and I did little bit by little bit, yard sale by yard sale.. but was still clinging to things.. and ideas that I was now ready to shed.
And so, that is how this was all born.
That is why the trip exists.. that is it must be solo.. that is why it is exactly what it is. I have listened to my heart since.. the journey continues to surprise me... and baffle others. Why am I not already in TX or NM or CA? Because.. I felt led to an inner journey first.. Lee was part of that.. and much of that is fully realized now.. and I am moving powerfully toward the road again.
So now.. funding for the trip is well under way. The mobile business is well under way... the design for the Superban conversion is well under way... much is in process.. and I am very excited.. and all this.. because of one furry life that intertwined with mine .. and I hers..
That seems like a good reason to blog... I have a growing feeling of rightness about all this.. I have felt good about it all along.. but I am feeling even more aware of the abundance it is creating for me.. and i hope for others as well. It seems all too often we set our dreams aside.. or assume they are silly.. or childish... and set them aside or poo poo them altogether.
Remembering we have choices we might not realize.. we are in a more powerful position than we might realize.. choices.. visualizing.. listening.. has brought about a new, magical life for me.. what will it do for you?