I awaken. I arise each morning. We all do. At first seeing, what is not seen — is the blank page. Upon it are wisps, remnants of elusive, felt dreams from sleeping. They haunt the unseen blank page like vivid watercolor drops that fade as they dry. Each new day, when we arise, pages have already been written… in dreaming, and other days, and then we awaken again upon a new page where we write our lives by living, breathing and being.
Blinking eyes, happily taunt-stretched limbs, the loud yawn of awakening, the guttural bellow of the flexed stomach releasing…
we may wake up with expectations and a schedule. We may be woken up by interruptions and demands. We may arise alone or crowded, or something in between… and we may want it, or not want it. We may wake up peaceful and content, afraid and worried, or neutral, or excited, or confused.
Still we wake up living and so we write upon the blank page of morning. Each blank page becomes filled with feelings, thoughts, actions, words — the seen and the unseen, and by choice and by no-choice — consciously and unconsciously.
For me, in the past year and three months, ever since a kitten was unexpectedly adopted… every morning, my blank page begins with the most persistent shower of warmth and affection — a cuddle like no other on my tip-top upper area of the chest with a complete nuzzling-in of a little face deep into my neck, where he purrs… and then sleeps, if I let him there long enough. He is soft as a marshmallow and just as sweet. He is a being who comes to me like a patiently timed magnet instantly attracted — upon my awakening. I do not write this on my page exactly, it is a repeating miracle shining upon me by a little mysterious being of love, brought here by my life partner. So, our pages can change in certain ways that are beyond us alone.
This young cat’s constancy, his persevering affection and gratitude changes my page of awakening. He softens and warms my voice and has been applying a medicine to my heart each morning that it has not known in this way and sorely needed at this time. The unseen blank page and what I write upon it is up to me… because it is me… living and breathing. No one else can actually write it. Though others may influence and affect it. A life partner doesn’t write my pages for me but he writes beside me, and I with him. We fall asleep holding hands, waking up we are next to or near each other. Yet, everyone too… because everything and everyone are connected to all that is. We are all connected. If I forget that… my page can lose its strength. And if I forget that I am writing my own life by living it and that no one else can… then my page can lose its magic. That has happened before. That was something I wrote on pages of my life at one time. And… it is not happening anymore. Today I am writing a poem, as the silence holds my breath, writing, and being in spaciousness. That, for now, is all there is in this moment upon the page.
There is one more thing to say about all of this… shining sunshine upon others may not write upon their pages exactly, because it is our own pages we write on. Yet, what it does, is it uplifts and warms, it comforts, relaxes, and inspires, and can help to welcome in all kinds of goodness and healing.
It reminds me of what happens when we let go of illusion, yet maintain the magic in life, while also taking responsibility for ourselves. It can be beautiful…in the midst of everything, a rising up, and a rooted stance is taken. And the glow from the resulting blossom inspires, simply by existing.
The blossom opens each day to the world, and closes each night to dream.
Looking out my home office window today, the sun is shining, despite a thin blanket of clouds. Little buds have started on the old lilac bush, and in the distance, above a neighbor’s roof, there are distinct blossoms forming on tall upward tree branches. I peer down at the ground, slightly astonished, despite knowing better, to see the ground again. We had a severe stretch of winter weather that bogged us down well into March. There were, not only mounds of snow, but inches-thick layers of the most unruly, bumpy ice underneath it. It had been impossible to have a decent walk for weeks because of the treacherous ice being everywhere, unmanageable to snow plows even. The melting process from that extended period has resulted in flooding in some areas, and loads of dangerous potholes — more than can be remembered from recent years.
With the slow progression of Spring beginning now, the most heartening days are the ones filled with sunshine, bird song, and enough warmth to facilitate a lengthy walk — either at the lunch-hour, in the evening, or both. Yet, not all is sunshine and warmth…oh well.
Astrologically, the influence of the Pisces season and the Neptunian Mercury retrograde are at a close. How was your mystic, mythic journey this March? Having gone through it now, I would say there have been opportunities for confusion, misunderstanding, illusion, and the possibility of becoming stuck down a proverbial rabbit hole. There were also plenty of possibilities for snags, delays, and untended wounds that want to heal — interrupting and disturbing the already emotionally flooded scene. The trick to the Neptunian-type journey may be to apply the medicine of other perspectives, creativity, and a spirituality that centers — along with the healing detachment of meditating — and critical thinking, as balance. Equally important: to seek and ask for support, help, and wise counsel .
Best case scenario, during the course of March, we took the rose-colored glasses off — or they were taken off for us — and a somewhat painful realization came to light…maybe about how we’ve been fooling and short-changing ourselves in some way. And, how others have been fooling us as well….but not anymore. This opportunity may be coated in emotional pain, and an ebb and flow of confusion. This is partly due to ignoring our own emotional and spiritual needs, perhaps in an attempt to preserve or “save” something that is no longer working. This cycle has been calling for us to move on, and adjust with new wisdom.
It is important that we face our own part in glossing over serious issues (related to loss, self-respect, health, boundaries, responsibility, and inappropriate choices) in a desperate attempt to abate natural, needed change. It is important that we face the painful realization(s), like we may have been betraying or kidding ourselves on some level, and/or allowing others to do so. Once we do, then we can begin to address things more honestly. That will make room for us to process some of the more difficult feelings that accompany new understanding, which we may have been hiding from.
When darker, painful, and less popular emotions emerge, it can be overwhelming. Hopefully we can find expression for them consciously, carefully, and responsibly. It may be good to treat it like an infection that must be cared for daily. Also, it will help to mindfully, gingerly channel the visceral, raw energy of adrenaline, which may be released when facing and feeling the harder emotions.
Constructive, cathartic, and practical activities work best. For me, this often means: cleaning, editing, organizing, writing, drawing, dancing, and/or a bit of exercise. Notice, those are all concrete actions — this is important. A physical aspect needs to be incorporated when channeling formerly exiled and recently emerged emotions.
A Piscean lesson within March’s Mercury retrograde is to remember our boundaries and our lessons learned. Whether this is when we are in service to others, via creative expression and exploration, or with ritual and spirituality — knowing what is us, and what is someone or something else — is super essential to operating day-to-day, and remaining healthy and honest. This awareness of boundaries for health, benefits others, and gives us important information about the nature of the various wounds we may experience and encounter each day, and how to respond to or refrain from responding.
Truly knowing our limits is part of what defines healthy boundaries and allows us to discern at an essential level of reality and experience. This helps us to answer more quickly and accurately: Who does this feeling, thought belong to? What do I need right now? Where is my voice in this? Is this my real need or my wound speaking? Is this fear mine or someone else’s? Is this thought distorted, or accurate? Is this expectation mine or someone else’s? Is this real or an assumption?
I release needless fear and replace it with trust and knowing — with my breath, words, and actions.
I release other people’s needs and judgements and replace it with my true self, honoring my needs, and trusting who I am.
~ CS Sherin, WildClover.org
Lastly, we overrule hasty impulses and stubborn delays by trusting our own inner timing and intuition. That is the compass of trust we need to implement now. Then, we can begin to re-harmonize, uplift, re-balance, spring clean, and re-direct our own path forward — more effectively and truer to self — now that the rose-colored glasses are off, and responsibility for our selves is in motion. Dreaming, creating, and diving into a mythical and/or mystic journey (like March potentially was) can result in concrete, realistic new conclusions that can propel positive actions aimed in a more accurate direction, for each of us.
Since yesterday and through April 4th, the Neptunian thought and emotion waves of lessons decrease. We will arrive, then, in a cycle of concrete action and wiser seeds to be planted. We will need to tend them accordingly, so that they can grow into honest, consistent, and inspired forms of self-expression, action, and being.
By April Fool’s Day, Mercury will be moving forward again. On April 5th, the New Moon is in Aries. This is where the concrete actions, wiser lessons-learned, and the inner wound’s ongoing healing are all seeds planted and to tend come into play.
The energy of Aries on a New Moon translates into the following key words: independence, self-expression, action, childlike enthusiasm, unique way of being, physical activity and exercise, creation, novelty, willpower, fire, and new beginnings.
Two people whom I like to think of, when envisioning Aries energy, are: Jonathan Van Ness and Conan O’Brien. They are both Sun in Aries, and express the Aries energy in dynamic, unique, and entrancing ways. Their individuality and Aries-type expression is far from the possible war-like, aggressive side of Aries and its ruler, Mars.
Of course, most people are not totally representative of their Sun sign, because many other signs collaborate to form a layered and complex personality. I can never recommend limiting anyone to their Sun sign. However, it is helpful to look for certain Sun sign characteristics, in self and others, in order to understand the influence and the dynamics within it for all of us. We all have Aries somewhere in our chart. For me, I have Mars in Aries, so that Aries energy is strong in my life and being, despite it not being via my Sun, Moon or Rising sign. This is something important to keep in mind.
So, with that all in context, both Jonathan and Conan could be considered aggressive in a certain way via enthusiasm and raw willpower, yet it is really a harmless, creative aggression, which is a part of their charm. Both can be blunt, but again, the pure joy of witnessing each of them being so transparently honest in who they are — it comes off as real, funny, and a part of the true-to-life, yet larger-than-life package of who they are as individuals.
Sure, if you don’t have your humor, or if you are feeling a need for rigid control, this type of energy will burn you up, with its free-wheeling wildness, irreverence, dominating interjections, and innocent child-like truth-telling.Both Jonathan and Conan seem to have deep self-awareness and self-knowing. They both appear to be fearless when it comes to being who they are, and acting on it. That can be pure magic, for sure!
This is because they have done the hard work, or it seems they have. This means, they know their weaknesses like: being impulsive, hasty, impatient, pushy, and blunt. And they know how those weaknesses can be wielded as their strengths as well. In order to do that, it has to be faced and made conscious. That is the inner work done. It is ongoing work.
So, JVN and Conan are two great muses for you to ponder and observe this New Moon, and for Aries season. For more Aries Sun-type energy inspiration, you may also want to look to: Emma Watson, Diana Ross, Jackie Chan, Eddie Murphy, and Maya Angelou.
Right now the Sun and Neptune are as one in the sign of Pisces. It is Pisces season for sure. At the same time, Mercury is also in Pisces, and will be in retrograde mode until the 28th of March. This combination of big influences in the territory of Pisces and Neptune symbolism has an affect on all of us this month. So, let’s break this down into parts that are easier to digest. We’ll start with the sign of Pisces, then Neptune, and then how Mercury re-mixes it all. Then, I will give you some friendly advice.
It doesn’t matter if your Sun, Moon, or Rising signs are in Pisces or not. We all have all of the signs and planets somewhere in our birth charts. Collectively, we all deal with these energies and influences.
The sign of Pisces is symbolized by two groovy fish swimming in opposite directions, swimming along, letting go and moving on. Often, our greatest talents are the metaphorical “double-edged sword”. This means that what we are best at can also be the source of our greatest weakness and blind-spot(s).
Gentle, paradoxical Pisces is able to harmonize and swim with ease between worlds — even between those with conflicting purposes and ways of being. This is an ongoing gift and growing edge for Pisces. Pisces can become adept at utilizing the insight, creative skills, and knowing they bring back with them from deep journeying into the imagination and sacred dream realms. At the same time, they are mostly able to find ways to work in the mundane world in efficient, routine, and practical ways. They seek to be of real use and service to humanity, and to uplift their fellow beings (human and other living beings — they don’t discriminate). This is an immense talent. Pisces energy fills the following archetypal roles naturally: healer/shaman/psychic, teacher, priest/ess, musician, artist, magician, and rebel-champion for the underdogs.
The challenge and weaknesses, the other side of the Pisces gifts are clear: both porous and poor personal and psychic boundaries — which often lead to unhealthy relationships patterns — internally harsh self-punishment, and martyrdom. There is also the habitual reaction to escape painful and harsh realities via escapism: fantasy, drama, and any and every kind of addiction. Side effects may include a tendency towards self-pity, depression, and going to extremes when trying to find balance. In addition to this, when the Pisces energy has trouble balancing and navigating between non-ordinary and ordinary realities, they will also find that they become more easily confused, disorganized, and display confusing behavior towards others.
After looking at the main gifts, strengths, potential, and pitfalls of Pisces energy, it is important to also grasp the general qualities of this symbolic Zodiac sign: claircognizance, versatility, and emotional fluidity that changes often — carrying a huge range, from impossibly shallow to the deepest of depths — ebb and flow, finding and letting go. A Pisces is potentially courageous too, with an innate instinct and desire to help, heal, inspire, explore realities, affect realities, and create.
Pisces is mutable in approach — a yin energy, and water element. This means that Pisces, the psychedelic and practical fishes, are: flexible, adaptable, and compromise (to a fault). The qualities of yin and water make them: indirect, passive, receptive, secretive, intuitive, sensitive, empathic, creative, humorous, efficient, and seemingly irrational and subjective.
Pisces wants to deal with what is hidden and unseen by most everyone, and they don’t need to talk about it. They want to be of service to others without a need to be in the spotlight (even though they naturally do get the spotlight due to their talents). The big-hearted zaniness, humor, and passion of a Pisces is enchanting, despite their maddening self-sabotage that can creep in from time to time.
Neptune rules Pisces, and so, some of their main qualities are shared. Neptune is an outer planet, and so spends time in one Zodiac sign for the long-term, for years. Any interpretation of Neptune and other outer planets (like Pluto) in a birth chart needs to take into account that, no matter how big their influences are, the process is deep and over a long period of time. Neptune is in Pisces until around 2025, and has been there since 2012. The symbolic and archetypal themes and influences of Neptune have a wide spectrum and different octaves — from inspiring to nefarious. Since we have a wide range of diversity among humans, in regards to ethics, values, qualities, personality, and choice — so too is there a wide range of possibility in each planet and signs symbolic meaning, patterns, cycles, and dynamics.
Neptune’s symbolic strengths reflect a choice and ability for: endless, enduring holistic altruistic thought. This occurs most often as creativity, invention, expression, and actions — in the realm of: art, music, dreams, sound, vision, ethics, spirituality, other realities, and energy. Neptune archetypes may include: the mystic, ascended being, genius, priest/ess, transformation, transfiguration, visionary, shaman/healer, transcendent/empowering music, art, creativity, spiritual care and modalities of energy work. It also includes values and actions that are inclusive and based on equality/equity — transcending duality, reactivity, and polarization.
Neptune’s shadow or blind-spots and weaknesses include: fanaticism, dogma, negative/predatory/parasitic cult-type behaviors and leadership, addiction/drug abuse, deception/con, illusion, confusion/mental fog, manipulation, and becoming stuck — in illusion, deception, manipulation, wounds, and/or confusion. Neptune is one of the giant gas planets. Gases can be far-out groovy, toxic, life-giving, stinky, light, or heavy. It’s all there.
The potential is great over this stretch of time from now into 2025. Yet, the dangers we face are clear as well. Much is on the line. Much is in crises. And the deceptions and illusions have been revealing themselves at great length for some time. Yet something more and better is going on than it seems. The unseen matters. Pisces and Neptune energies do need containers, grounding, and light in order to be made tangible for us. We need to deal with these energies and influences in ways that use equal parts common sense, logic, and intuitive creativity. Otherwise what needs to be built upon will get lost and forgotten.
What is not to be missed here is the impact the Mercury retrograde of this month has on this Pisces/Neptune energy, given a spotlight by the Sun.
Mercury Retrograde With Pisces/Neptune Vibes
Mercury retrograde is usually a time to expect the unexpected, to prepare for obstacles, delays, roadblocks, and inconveniences. When we accept, and even expect and make time for, possible issues/problems/delays, we create an energy of adaptability that plays well with the Universe’s ebbs and flows. The Universe likes us to be specific about what we want, but it also wants us to be loose and flexible with how things may happen (not according to our plans). Welcoming a delay or perceived problem as an opportunity for new awareness and opportunities may seem radical or weird, but it is true wisdom that gains respect from the Universe at large.
Usually mercury retrogrades are not times to begin something completely and utterly new, or to sign contracts that are completely new and unexpected. It is not usually a time to get a new contractor, seek a new service, or find a new doctor. Yet, life isn’t neat and tidy, and we can’t live our lives dictated by the symbolic and archetypal information from astrology. So, what I have found is that when we must engage in and trust something completely new during a mercury retrograde, it is helpful to accept and prepare for anything and everything going wrong. When it doesn’t, we can be jubilant and thankful. When it does, we can be relaxed and open to inspiration, having prepared for the unknown and unforeseen best we could.
However, this mercury retrograde (March 5th — March 28 2019) isn’t quite a usual one. This Neptune/Pisces influence defines it, and it will last until the end of this month. A lot can happen in a month. Since the flavor of this month is deep, tender, magical, and paradoxical Pisces — as well as, the vast and confusing mystical potentials of Neptune — we are in for a lot of inner emotional, psychic, creative, and spiritual content that keeps changing and fluxing about. Don’t believe everything you think, hear, or see this month. And don’t forget it either.
No matter how much self-work you have done, if you are not dealing with and facing your inner pain, passions, longings, dreams, and activated wounds — Neptune working with Mercury in retrograde will get you — they will get the better of you. It has already started.
A virtual Neptune fog is in place right now, set to place us all on a mystical journey that will be ample in emotional ups and downs, illusions, delusions, inspirations, and the promise of healing and transformation — if we don’t get stuck. The kick to it is that, the fog makes everything confusing and confused. Things are not what they seem, and what you think and feel one minute may be contradicted by your own self in the next. Be sure to ask for help when you need it, and take breaks from whatever is really intense. Balance the ordinary with the non-ordinary as needed.
When we cannot handle all the pain and harsh reality of this broken world, we may seek to escape a bit, and maybe we even do it productively and constructively. That is impressive.
Maybe we know how to honor and respect our dreams, inner worlds, and sacred imagination. Perhaps we know how to balance the two worlds. Yet, what we are processing collectively is too much — for one generation or two to process, let alone an individual. So, the call is to face our own inner wounds that are activated right now, and apply all the reasonable and wise self-care we can to it. Even while we feel confused, dizzy, cloudy, and spun about — know that the mist of this fog will disperse and lessen. But for a time, this month, we will all get a bit lost.
Lost, wandering, and confused are all real locations, and even religious-type experiences. Watch out for the cult-like responses to it though — that trap of becoming addict to the spiritual highs, and master of the power that comes with it — without ethics or care.
Better to apply the medicine of nature, water, breath, creativity, friendship, and healthy boundaries to all and everything.
Remember to treat water, in particular, with great care, respect, and honor. Consider water as our true/symbolic self and true god at this time. How are we treating, interacting with, using, caring for it? Water is essential to Pisces. Water is life. Pisces needs baths, showers, drinks of water to regenerate. At the same time, water is at the center of many of our crises environmentally, and related to class and privilege. Something to sit with, and see what messages from other worlds and in between worlds that may arise this month.
Needless to say, this is a special time to tend to our dreams, keep a dream journal, create and respond to what our dreaming selves are doing.
Dreams speak to us in many ways. Sometimes dreams bring to our awareness meaning and messages via symbols and archetypes. Other times, the dreams we have can be an actual journey of consciousness and spirit. At times, dreams are layers and mixtures of many things. Paying attention to and responding to our dreams is beneficial and deeply nourishing, and quite evident over time. Dreams mostly seek to help us to process, heal, and grow. They are a key to greater fulfillment.
I have been deeply invested in paying attention to, recording, and responding to my own dreams for the last 30+ years. I have found that the other part of our lives, spent in dream states, is just as meaningful and important as the wakeful state. Not only that, the one constant within both states is that the journey of our consciousness is present in both — something that anchors us beyond death and our current bodies, and on into new and different life and/or lives. Deepening our present moment consciousness via dream work (and meditation) is a priceless practice that supports and enhances the mundane, yet also goes far beyond it.
I am going to provide you with a concrete example of a dream from the past that I have worked with, which was profound and pivotal for my evolving spiritual and emotional development, at that time, through and beyond wounds and personality weaknesses. The following dream is from work I did back in the Spring of 2011:
Title: She Is Monumental
I am in a house we have just purchased. We are happy with it. Until someone who used to live here comes to the door. She comes in with a key she kept, and wants something. I am exasperated, and a bit angry at the intrusion. She leaves quickly though. I am near the door. I see an impossibly tall woman who is led around the house by an angel-type-being. I feel fear when I see this impossibly tall woman. With great effort, I look up at her face — way, way up. She has no mouth. I feel fear, which fades into compassion instead. I reach out my hand to her in friendship as she passes.
CS Sherin, Dream Journal Entry, “She Is Monumental”, May 2011
After so many decades of keeping dream journals, I have learned what most of my personal dream symbols represent. This is one of many important reasons for committing to a dream journal. Dreams really are cheated and mistreated when we use dream dictionaries, accept the general definition, and leave it at that. Tracking dreams and our own personal messages via journals reveals context, meaning, and timing that no dream dictionary can ever reveal. Just like a dictionary definition for a cat or dog could never come close to defining and expressing the who, what, why, where, and how of your specific animal companion. Dreams have life of their own, and some of it is indefinable.
PLEASE NOTE: While you may have an interpretation in mind when you hear someone else’s dream, the only person who can reveal the true meaning of a dream is the person who had the dream. Any meaning or interpretation that comes to your mind while listening to someone else’s dream can most accurately and respectfully be expressed as: what the dream would mean if it were your dream. This delineation and practice is essential.
I will translate this dream. Translation is the best word for it, as my dream is in the language of my unconscious mind and my consciousness/soul. It is personal and specific. As I provide a translation for my dream, keep in mind that my translation and definitions for things in the dream are not in any way static. This is my official translation for this very specific dream. This specific dream is, indeed, a symbolic dream, yet, not all dreams are. For other dreams, these symbols may carry completely different meanings, or may not be symbols at all!
For me, in this particular dream, a new house is a new way of being. The new way of being is good. The previous owner intruding briefly represents some unwelcome old habits coming back into my new way of being. But, they only intrude briefly and are gone, let go. The woman who is being guided through the house by an angel-type-being is tall — taller than tall. She is graceful and silent. Her presence is like a walking monument. She is monumental. My fear turns to compassion as I see her missing mouth as a disability. This monumental “she” is the divine self linked to soul or authentic being. It took me “great effort” to become conscious of the alarming symbol of the missing mouth. The missing mouth is symbolic of my ego’s distorted belief of separation from divine love that took shape in the personality by age three. The missing mouth is ongoing silence, separation, even disability related to relationship and listening to/hearing the authentic self — who has never been separated from the sacred.
CS Sherin, May 2011, dream entry translation for “She Is Monumental”
As a child and young adult I was so busy tracking everyone else’s feelings, needs, and expectations that I had no idea what my own were most of the time. The pain of the separation-illusion from my own being surfaced in other dreams in my youth — via dreams of being blind, which had morphed in recent years into being mute. These dreams were telling me that my distorted ego beliefs and fears had created some serious fall-out for my inner being.
A myth re-told in a new way for healing effects, is what came to mind as possible medicine for me, relating to this dream. Our culture enforces the belief of valuing the external over the internal (and the visible over the unseen) with glaring manic force, in advertising, news, via experts, and in storytelling. When the movie Shrek came out, I deeply appreciated the radical re-telling of old fairy tale stories that had before accentuated external and unrealistic importance. Shrek transformed that distortion in our culture, thankfully. The ugly, disgusting ogres possess inner beauty, truth, and authenticity, and are hero and heroine. The old external-value archetypes of the past are seen with human flaws and distortions laid bare. The deeper inner being is valued.
C. J. Jung believed that seeing archetypes revealed in a story (like Shrek), even if we are not consciously aware of the deeper meaning, helps bring healing to the personal and collective unconscious. Knowing that, Shrek was a deeply needed re-telling for the personal and the collective. Part of my dream work response to this dream, back in 2011, was to re-watch Shrek.
In this dream, I know that as I overcame fear and reached out in compassion to connect with the monumental self — I initiated a vital change of pattern, which released personality/ego-based distortion about relationship to my inner core/being. This was an important dream, a turning point for healing and consciousness.
My dream also reminded me that a lot of the younger ages of my life were spent neglecting my own needs and voice. The dream told me that there is much yet to learn and connect to that is real and monumental, really. This is what I wrote about back in 2011, in conclusion:
That bright, silent, tall being of my dream may seek to be a voice for the voiceless, my poetry, and my compass. I know she has much to say and show. I know she has a mouth and a voice. My awareness and compassion for myself is the doorway to deepening that relationship, and it has already begun. It has already come to the point that even this personality and ego of mine have learned enough to yearn, and yearn again, for her voice, leadership, and presence. This is a reward for walking through all the pain so far and doing the work. The ego wishes to serve the soul…and joy, abundance, and love begin to overflow.
CS Sherin, May 2011, reflection on dream entry, “She Is Monumental” (above)
I wrote the narrative below, Give Up, at the end of September in 2014. It is about a dark night I went through that I will never forget. It wasn’t the first hard time I have faced, but it was a pivotal one, different from other times.
It was August 11th, 2014. I experienced a deep depression that washed over me quite suddenly. I was to find out the next day, that it was the same day that Robin Williams died. He was someone who had been a bright light for me in a rough childhood — him and The Muppets. Finding out the next day about his death, I realized I had probably felt a “disturbance in the force,” so to speak, that had affected me. Robin was such a great presence on Earth, dear to many, and missed. I am sure his death was a real energetic part of what I felt that night. But there were personal dynamics at work too.
Before that night, I had already gone through some devastating loss. My oldest sister had died four months earlier, after a long battle with a cancer that had turned quite brutal. A few months before that, our elderly dog had also gotten a brutal cancer, and had to be euthanized suddenly. Simultaneously, I had come to a point in my self-employment where I knew I had to make a change. I had been doing holistic spiritual care for over a decade, and didn’t quite know where I was headed, if I were to stop and change.
The story you are about to read is about facing inevitable change, loss, past traumas revisited, and grief. It is also about the life-giving transformations we are able to experience while in relationship with other beings, for instance, a cat. Reciprocal positive relationship with animals, and other beings, can be profound and important in so many ways, if we are open to it. I recommend being open to it.
Perhaps one of the reasons that humanity finds itself facing so many crises and ongoing-history-repeating-itself serious problems is because, we are not in active, consistent, real relationships with the countless other living beings we share this planet with — not in a way that is ongoing, respectful and more selfless than self-serving.
The trees, plants, aquatic life of all kinds, rocks/crystals, land animals, creatures of the air, and below ground all have knowing of various kinds in their being. An openness to cultivating conscious, caring relationships with any of those — choosing to be present for it — could be the transformative change we need at this time. It is important to note that any committed relationship within or between other species needs to contain: consistent presence, kindness, honesty, consideration, and mutual respect.
The following story is evidence of the deep, long-resonating, lasting rewards that come from: a balance of giving and receiving, helping and receiving help, listening and sharing, asking and telling – true friendship. I have Boris, the valiant cat, to thank for the real presence and wisdom won during that dark, hard night on August 11, 2014:
There is an escalating pressure mounting around and within me tonight. It presses upon me like an ominous darkness of massive storm clouds, which contain a sharp cold front set against the air — stagnant, oppressive heat, humidity and no wind. A violent storm is looming.
Am I wearing rose-colored glasses, not facing reality? Not usually. I do love being practical and realistic, as much as positive and dreamy. Am I the eternal optimist made of ideals? Yes, that is true. There is a tireless, sleepless affinity in me for honesty and ethics…awake in my heart and mind like an atomic clock.
On my bed this day and evening, a powerful depression intrudes, and disrupts my true nature. I cannot continue. I want to give up, for real.
It is painful, blind, anguish.
It feels like that sucker punch in my solar plexus, from the mean boy in 4th grade. I was taken by surprise, robbed of breath and air, with that sudden punch of pain, that dropped me to my knees — sucking tears out of me without permission. He had walked away without a word.
This swell of sadness tonight is too dark, and overwhelms me beyond reason.
Boris, the cat, is by me now. He is the one who always comes running to see how he can help when it sounds, from somewhere in our house, like someone could be hurt, in trouble, or sick. If he were human, he would be a First Responder, a nurse, counselor, and/or healer. I tell him quietly and despondently that I am giving up. At first I am not sure if I mean my life. The darkness was so overwhelming. I ask myself, and feel deeply: No, not my life. My purpose and work — like a spiritual death, it seems. Boris tells me a surprising thing — with his wise eyes and being, Boris says, “Good. Give up.”
Startled into a sudden alert surprised awareness, that breaks the dark spell, I ask, “What?! Why? Don’t you care? You always care. Why don’t you care, Boris?” He answered with nonchalance, “Give up. I gave up once. After I gave up, good people found me, helped me, and then you found me. And now look at me.” He is beaming strength and love, smiling, eyes happy.
Astonished and awakened, I remembered what he meant. I thought of Boris’s story. Boris had been abandoned by a previous family, along a freeway, that had a tall fence separating it from the countryside. When he was found, the shelter workers told us, he was dirty. The kind of dirty, they said, that only happens when a cat gives up. A cat giving up is a starkly tragic thing. Cats take pride in their self-care and stealthy ability to survive. He had been brought low by the trauma of being abandoned and then trapped near a highway, with bad weather/storms, and no food. He suffered PTSD for a while after we adopted him. He needed antidepressants for a few months, to remember what normal feels like, the vet said. And he did, he got better after those 3-4 months of medication. (Actually, his example back then with needing medication for a while, helped me to address my own needs during a health crisis, not long after his.) It took us a few years after adopting Boris, to fully earn his trust and full affection. In his elder years now, after 11 years with us so far, he is well and happy, fully loved and loving. We know he is no younger than 17 and could be as old as 19.
I paused, and took this moment in.
Maybe the thought to give up wasn’t as bad as it felt at first. It is simply hard to let go of work that I have given all my heart and effort to, along with sitting with the layers of grief. I am loyal. I am a hard worker. Yet, I need to let go of some big things, and adjust to a changing reality and changing needs. Boris is right. I looked over at him in awe. The four-legged, hairy, mahogany-red with white, tall, thin, elder fellow is right. I didn’t expect that from you just now, Boris. Thank you!
King Boris, or Chewy Bill, as we sometimes call him, gave me a jolt of understanding that allowed me to release the fear and illusion of failure. Boris helped me to boldly take up courage, and be okay with letting go — even if it feels like dropping off a ledge on a tall building with no net or cushion below. Boris has an intimate, expert knowledge of major endings that are like deaths, and how rebirth is on the other side of it, waiting for us — something much better, and really right. A really wise cat, that Boris. What a gorgeous guide! I scratched his cheeks and massaged his head and chest in thanks. He smiled his open-mouthed smile with twinkling eyes, that reminds my husband of Don Knotts. That makes me chuckle. What I see is a cat who blazes and shimmers, a noble being, who commands his new life with joy — a new life, that found him. He knows — he gained all of it after he had given up.
Back to 2019. What I didn’t know yet, when I wrote that story, was that we would yet have to face the death of our elder cats, first Abigail, and then Boris in the following year. Living with, and processing all that grief, led me to shift and channel it, and the love, into practical, tangible work for healthy sustainable living (toxin-free) via Recipe For A Green Life, which took up nearly three years of my life, from start to finish. It was a big leap, and a big risk. It certainly didn’t pay well. Yet, it is and has been important, honors what and how I love, and speaks of our collective, interrelated, priceless connection to all life in totality.
Boris was such a strong presence in our lives — a magnanimous, extraordinary spirit, even for a cat. He always knew that humans are too often so slow to catch on to what animals know, and try to communicate. He was always persistent, and maddeningly so. I actually gained so much respect for his persistence — it can be an endearing, admirable quality. He never gave up on trying to communicate with us; helping us to understand what he needed or wanted, in quite obvious, when his subtle gestures were missed by us.
Pawing At My Heart
For a time before he died, he kept pawing at my upper chest, like he wanted to climb inside my heart. He did it so often. In my distracted, clueless, human way, I thought it was cute, yet strange that he kept doing it. Then, I found out that he was terminally ill. After a while of processing the two things, I finally understood what he was saying to me. He was saying,
“Keep me in your heart.
Don’t forget me.
I love you.
I will always be there.”
When I finally realized what he was saying, it loosed my tears, along with the enormous love grown through a positive, loving relationship with another being over so many years. It still loosens my tears of love, years later.
I picked him up, hugged and assured him that I finally understood. I told him that I would, always. He never did it again, so I know that he knew the message was received. I am so thankful that I was able to drop my human distractions for long enough to truly hear him before he had to leave us.
We are convinced Boris was a mighty spirit that took on cat form for a time, someone we were lucky to know and love. I could tell many stories about Boris’s ways. Like the Easter morning that he jauntily brought in a baby rabbit for me to cook for the holiday. Or, the nap we took beside each other, and the dream that we had — where he taught me to make healing balls of light (it was hard — he was really good at it). Or, how he always came to everyone’s rescue, never once afraid. And, how he wanted a dog so badly, and how he fell in love with her, when we did finally adopt a dog. And, how he had a soul mate, little Abigail (ginger cat) — and how they had an actual impromptu wedding ceremony in our back yard one Spring.
Yet, for today, what I will say is this: The time, love, and presence of Boris, that strong bright being, lives on and is in my heart always. That alone, gives me courage and the warm action of love for this life — no matter what.C