Hello friends, and welcome to my Animal Heart page.
I would like to share a few words about why working with animals and their inner lives matters so much to me.
I was born 'horse crazy' and grew up with a passion for horses. I was never happier than when I was with horses and to some extent, any animal.
I was a shy, sensitive kid who really struggled when my family moved us from the town I was born in to a very different area when I was 5 years old. We were not warmly welcomed into this new area (to say the least!) and a lot of bullying and unkindness awaited us all in our new town.
As a result, I instinctively turned more and more to the animals around me for love, connection and a feeling of safety and acceptance.
And, I found it with them. They were my friends, my loves and my 'soft place to fall' while going through such a difficult time with the humans in my experience. I felt loved by the animals around me, and I loved them. I learned early on as a child that the power of their unconditional love was very, very healing.
I also felt that I understood them somehow; what it was like to be utterly dependent upon the environment one was in - whether that environment was healthy, or not.
What it was like to be sensitive to and aware of things that you were unable to communicate about to those around you.
What it was like to be just plain confused by the behavior of the human world around you, and at times, at the mercy of it.
These were all some of the first seeds of compassion and empathy for me as such a young girl, and my time with animals was the garden in which these seeds would initially grow.
As the years went on and I entered adolescence, I became disillusioned with the environments I turned to for this mutual love and connection with animals. Being around horses in particular became less about the fun, connection and love and more about a rigid, outwardly- defined idea of how we were to 'be' with the animal, and how the animal was to 'be' with us.
We were expected to perform, not connect.
To look a certain way and present a certain way, rather than be in a real, healthy, mutually-respectful relationship with one another.
Feelings and love mattered less; achievement and competition mattered more.
These were some of the messages we were given - horse and human - as we tried to continue our relationship together. What was once a natural place of love, connection and understanding was becoming altered by some very strange and uncomfortable human ideas, values and perceptions.
These messages began taking us away from one another in ways I couldn't explain but felt like a hole in my heart; a painful disconnection and loss for both of us in the human-animal relationship.
As a result, I walked away from horses as a teen-ager and, without realizing it, began a very long walk away from a core piece of myself.
I didn't fully realize the impact of this disconnection until I was nearly 50 years old, when the unexpected return to the heart-based connection with animals would save me and bring me out of a very difficult time in a way that no human could.
More soon in Part 2...stay tuned.