Tuesday, 30 August 2011

book launch

Durban book launch for "Touching Animal Souls" - Thursday evening 17h30 at Musgrave Centre - Adams bookstore,  Customized playing unplugged.  You welcome to attend.  Just let us know

Friday, 26 August 2011

in the moment

Dolphins literally live in the moment.  They are conscious breathers.  They think about it everytime they breathe.  Any yogi or guru will constantly remind you to come to your breath.  If we are thinking about our breathing, we are conscious about our feelings, and when we are feeling our feelings, without labelling them, we are in the moment.

It is amazing however that I often find myself caught up in the moment, and unable to see the trees for the wood.  I think this is when I loose myself in the feelings, rather than staying with my breath.  Giving myself away to the emotion, and at the same time looking for excuses - so necessarily out of the moment so that I can find someone to blame.

Here's to staying conscious, even when I sleep.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

what is stress

There is a theory that when looking after wild animals, a certain amount of stress is potentially not a bad thing.  An expert in animal care was relating a story to me today about a man who was breeding birds as part of a conservation project.  Over time his breeding program was perfected, and then, there was suddenly a lack of success.  The optimal conditions were looked at.  Nothing could improve what was occuring.  So, a decision was taken to try and "stress" the birds a little.  The man rigged up a bird of prey dummy to swoop over the nesting areas once a day, making scary noises.  Enough to scare the breeding pairs.  It was not long before breeding improved.  The conclusion to the exercise was that a little stress is not a bad thing.

I think there may be a different way to relate this conclusion.  In solitary confinment, people do not thrive.  Babies that are not held and comforted don't grow as fast as those who are.  Same is true for animals.  We are on this planet to experience ourselves.  The most effective way of doing this is to experience ourselves in relation to another. 

In optimal conditions, the birds were physically cared for and nurtured, and essentially in a solitary confimenent situation.  When the predator thought threatened them, they huddled together, formed safety in numbers, and related more to each other.  They were using their natural senses and instincts.  They felt alive.  And that inspired breeding.

It is a common fact that people who survive trauma together are closer.  And it does not even have to be trauma.  Anything that makes us feel alive.  Like galloping on horseback.  When we are relating to our world with our natural given senses, we are thriving. 

Sunday, 21 August 2011

glorious summer days, animals and an attitude shift.

I arrived home this afternoon from work and a function feeling drained and tired.  A little headachy, nauseous and ready to pamper myself.  But before I could do that I needed to muck out some stables, fill up the dog and cats water bowl, pick some lettuce for the pig and give the horses some hay.  Before I knew it, I was embroiled in another feeling altogether.  It is the first real spring summer day we have had in a while, and being outside surrounded by affectionate horses, bounding loving dogs and a pig looking for a kiss on the snout, I began to feel alive.  I suddenly noticed birds chirping louder than I have in a long time (when I was feeling low and miserable I had not heard them).  To top it all, the first yellow billed kite of the season swooped over our home.  Now I sit typing out my joy, with a kitten purring at my feet and a daschund curled up next to me.  And we wonder why animals are therapeutic.  Attitude shift.

Friday, 19 August 2011

self awareness and then some

I probably have a martyr persona.  I have noticed in the past that the attention I have received from working really hard or similar has been a pay off of sorts.  This type of self-awareness has been described as personal growth.  I find it easier and easier to have this consciosness about myself,  for the most part that is.

Then there are parts of me that hit over-drive and angst faster than the speed of light.  Buttons in me that are so hot that just a breath of air on them makes them ignite a fire of passion and emotional tremblings inside me.  There are two very distinct buttons
- when you mess with or upset my children
- when you are mean to animals.
What is it that turns me into a blind maniac?  Is it a Jungian super hero complex, or is it a natural maternal instinct?
With these questions burning inside me, I notice that there are instinct triggers in animals too - not messing with their young is a trigger for sure - survival of the species.  And with my dogs, even though they are not attack trained, I know for sure they will take anyone out who tries to harm any of our family members - so they are securing their pack.

So, do I use this information to justify my responses? 

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Touching Animal Souls: ego paying me back

Touching Animal Souls: ego paying me back: "I walked Sasha my dobermann cross on the weekend. She is a delight to walk. I walk with her often, and both of us relish the fresh air. I..."

ego paying me back

I walked Sasha my dobermann cross on the weekend.  She is a delight to walk.  I walk with her often, and both of us relish the fresh air.  I enjoy her enthusiasm and responsiveness.  If I call her she is next to me in a flash.  We live on country dust roads, and she dashes around smelling all the information.  I was so proud of her for heeling past a rotweiller that was barking at a fence.  I felt all puffed up for a moment, imagining what a good trainer I was.  I don't think that particular thought has crossed my mind on our walks in the past.  She was obviously having none of it because no sooner had the thought been enjoyed, she dashed off into the bushes, out of sight and hearing range, and left me in a cold sweat on the verge.  There were no monkeys or other distractions.  I called and called and she did not respond.  Panic began to rise in me.  I felt fury for a moment too, and began working off, the was overtaken by guilt and doubled back to mourn on the side of the road again.  I felt devastated, and many thoughts of loss began to take over my brain.  Then I looked up and saw her trotting towards me from the road ahead.  It took all my conscious training mind and spirit not to yell obscenities at her.

We walked home quietly, me deliberating.  My ego was disappointed.  I remembered a woman I know, who is 85.  She related a story to me earlier in this week, something that happened to her, which could have left her ego disappointed.  She noted how the cause of the potential disappointment was something that had occurred to her in her childhood, and rather than being miserable, she took the opportunity to celebrate the consciousness she achieved as a result of the exercise.  I was amazed at her humility, in her sharing of her story, and her excitement at the outcome of her feelings.  I wondered how I could apply her insight to my moment with Sasha.

I am still not sure why I so badly need to feel like a good trainer, but I do recognise that I cannot let my identify be ruled by the need to be a trainer.  Because this gets in the way of my relating to Sasha.  And I would much rather be in a true relationship with her than be a good trainer.  Recognising that I still need to have some insight into the training in order to ensure that I stay in a fulfilling relationship with her - For example, I dont want to shout at her for coming back to me, else she will not want to come back to me, and that recall is an imperative part of our relationship.  We are all so much more than the labels we give ourselves.  Trainer, doctor, mother, accountant, policeman, teacher, husband, son.  When we let the labels go, we will unwrap so much more potential.  Not necessarily to accomplish, but most certainly, to experience. 

A lable can take the fun out of life.  It is all about living.  Playing.  Being.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

when is it enough

This beautiful picture is of a friend of mine, Dumile, who was a field assistant on Marion Island.  A true conservationist who would go to the ends of the to do true work to ensure the survival of our planet and her creatures.

Those of us who work closely with animals often become embroiled in the work, sometimes caring too much about the individual, and then losing our perspective as a result.  We so want the creatures to know that we care that we feel we have to pet them or feed them or similar to let them know.

Sometimes it is just enough to love them, even from a distance.  Spend moments just being in their presence, even from a far and simply appreciating them.  In moments like this I have probably experienced my most profound insights.  Sitting in a paddock loving a horse from afar and he comes over and nuzzles me. 

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Touching Animal Souls: ego-less relationship

Touching Animal Souls: ego-less relationship: "Every now and then, these moments happen in relationship with animals. Some days we just think that the animal (or person for that matter) ..."

ego-less relationship

Every now and then, these moments happen in relationship with animals.  Some days we just think that the animal (or person for that matter) has their own agenda.  Our victim persona's or dominatrix alter egoes take over, and we believe that we are the target, and that nobody is responding to us as we wish.  With animals, I feel safe enough to look closer.  To imagine that perhaps whatever the animal is doing is a response to some poor communication on my part.  What I have found, is that most times, the animal is simply doing what it thinks it should be doing.  In my being reactive, I confuse the situation further, and the animal becomes more "wayward" as far as my judgement is concerned.  Here is an example.  A young dog playing with a person is intrigued when the person squeals when the dogs mouths them in its play.  The dog is rewarded by the squeal - it is exciting energy, something that the dog finds rewarding.  So, he tries it again, and when he gets less of a response, tries harder, and it hurts - and then we have an aggressive dog.  One that people will label as aggressive.  When it was simply poor communication. 

With human beings it is even worse.  My children are suffering the trial of trying to keep me happy.  And visa versa.  So often we are not even thinking of how we are coming across in relationship with others.  We are too busy being caught up in our own misery.

Thank God for my moments with animals.  Today was Khethiwe and Frodo.  A mother and calf dolphin pair.  Eager to please, and excited.  I was able to fine tune my training rather than get egotistical.  We were all happy in the session.  Them with their success.  Bounding excitedely, bright eyed and enjoying my easy disposition.  Me, simply being.  In relationship with such unconditional souls.  I am so very very lucky.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Leadership is as clear as black and white

I am a proud mother.  My kids are conscious beings who constantly challenge me.  They are two teenage boys - its their job to challenge me.  I remember when they were little, they were at their most challenging when I would get home from work.  That is when they wanted all my attention, and I was usually spent, so unable to provide adequately in that regard.  It always surprised me.  Then I noted that the animals that I work with are the same.  If my energy is low, that is when they will provide me with the biggest challenge.  I will be thinking, "just do this, make it easy for me, I am too tired", and they will not respond obligingly, and very often do something completely counter-productive - why?
There may be a very simple explanation, and it boils down to leadership.  When our children or animals in our care feel safe, it is because we, their "leaders", are being clear, strong and reliable in their lives.  When our leadership falters - they feel insecure.  In herds of animals, the leader in the group will be the reliable one on whom the followers can rely to get them out of trouble.  If I was the follower, that relied on that leader to look after me, and that leader looks weak, it makes good sense to challenge them.  I would need to ensure that my safety is secure.  If they fail the challenge, I need to find someone to take their place, or fend for myself.  If they pass, my safety is still secured.
So, when I come home and am being challenged, rather than go into a guilty panic about being an inadequate mother, I need to take a deep breath and maintain clear communication.  Just as I would when working with an animal. 
It is not fair to anyone - animal or person - to give mixed messages.  Clarity provides security.  That is what it means when they say - The truth will set you free.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Touching Animal Souls: legendary teacher

Touching Animal Souls: legendary teacher: "This is Frodo. She is around 40 years old. She is an incredible teacher because if you are not completely present with her, she does not c..."

legendary teacher

This is Frodo.  She is around 40 years old.  She is an incredible teacher because if you are not completely present with her, she does not cooperate.  If you are distracted because you are trying to show off in front of others, or if you are miserable because you had a fight with a friend, then your mind is not where it should be - in relationship with her.  In fact, she is not all that mad about just being in relationship with your mind.  She responds to your feelings.  So if you are blissfully aware of her, and loving her the way she deserves to be loved - unconditionally - you make the best progress in her training - and she swims off after, and you walk off after - completely alive and fulfilled
This is how life should be lived

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


Poetic beauty in motion. Perfect amazing boy. Love this picture and this dolphin.
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Tuesday, 2 August 2011

3 precious boys

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Don't stop playing

Kai and Mashatu sharing a moment
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Hermione and Charlie

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See what you feel

Charlie is sitting on my lap. Five month old kitten who arrived in our family as a wild stray. So frightened. He lived under our bed for first few days. Gained confidence daily as we just saw his perfection and loved him. Same thing those two things. Charlie rules the five dogs and two cats that are the other members of our family. His best friend is dominant dobermann cross Sasha. If she hears him miaow she rushes to protect him. She tries to lick Charlie and he clings to her snout with four paws full of claws. He feels fine and confident and all the other animals respond to his bravado with acceptance.
Ancient prayer was knowing that all is perfect rather than asking for something to change.
Just be. Don't have to be anything than the perfection thn we are.
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