Tuesday, January 3, 2017

How to make an Animal Lover's Happiness Jar

I do love Liz Gilbert. 

I love her honesty and the down to earth vibe she exudes. I also think she’s wise, and heavens knows, we need wise woman to follow right here, right now. 

I love the fact that as a bestselling author, she’s approachable and friendly. 

Mostly I love her good, simple advice. 

Last year I read her post on creating a Happiness Jar. The idea being, that you scribble a note about the happiest moment of your day and pop it in a jar, where your collection of happy notes grows though the year. At the end of it, you tip out the contents and read a year’s worth of happy memories. 

I loved the idea. So I found a jar and some post-its and added a new happy memory every day.

It only lasted until February.

When I opened the jar and read some of those notes, it brought back the memories of how I felt a year ago. 

My Joe dog was sick. I knew he was dying. We were having a hot, dry summer in Johannesburg, it hadn’t rained in weeks and the heat was making me as cranky as hell. I wasn’t having a fun time. As 2016 (not surprising it wasn’t a great year, right) got underway, the idea of feeling happy, or capturing happy moments that I wasn’t really feeling, started to feel like a burden. I was irritated that I couldn’t feel happy, no matter how hard I tried.

The under tow of grief had already begun and I knew that at some point Joe was going to leave his body and I wasn’t ready for that. 

The point of this post is not to speak you out of creating a Happiness Jar, but to encourage you to get cracking on yours now.

Here’s why.

Joe died on the Easter weekend and I spent the rest of the year sliding down the slippery slope of sadness and depression. I finally had a turning point in November and felt like I could let him go, along with the tired, heavy grief.

So when I tipped out my Happiness Jar notes, the one that made me burst into tears, read:

4 January
Watching Joe run down the driveway towards me. 
I love that dog SO MUCH!

Two lines. Some words. Strung together on a small piece of paper. 

It was my happiest memory in eight weeks worth of notes. 

You see, I’d blanketed the entire year in gloom and sadness. I didn’t expect that sudden spark of happiness attached to a memory of him, especially one that wasn’t sad. 

Although the note is short and doesn’t detail anything else around that moment, I can see him in my mind’s eye, how his ears flapped along with each joy-filled bound. Because he only ever bounded along, joyfully. I can see his usual expression, his smile, while he exuded his pure dog happiness. 

And while that memory made me cry for a good half-hour, I was also flooded with happiness when I read it. It was like his essence was captured on that small piece of paper. 

That is the single reason why I think we should all keep a Happiness Jar.

Because we forget the small things. I remember the time Joe ate my Flower Essences for Animals book, the strap off my riding hat and chewed the side of my riding boot. His teeth marks are still visible, eight years later. I remember how he ran towards me with a rotting fish in this mouth! You can read that here. There are a ton of other memories, but it’s those small, insignificant moments from everyday life that we’ll want to hang on to and remember. 

 Make your Happiness Jar now, you’ll be glad you did!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The first time I experienced pet loss...

The first time I experienced pet loss I was eight. My dog died. 

He was only about six months old, and he was my first dog. 

As the oldest child, I was given a puppy. My dad brought him home one Friday night in the middle of winter. The first time I saw him, my dad was carrying him past the kitchen window, holding him at arms length because he’s vomited all over himself in the car.

He was christened Digger when we saw him digging his first hole in the garden.

I don’t remember much of our relationship. I guess we would have become better friends if time had allowed. I only have one or two photos of him and none where you can see his face.

He contracted what in those days was called “galloping biliary.” We discovered later that it was Parvo, but back then, there wasn’t an inoculation for it. He was sick so he’d been taken to the vet. Instead of coming home, he had to stay overnight. The vet called my folks the next day and told them that  he’d died.

They told me that night when they got home from work.

“Coll. Digger died while he was at the vet today.”

I remember feeling like I should have been more sad. But I can’t remember feeling any strong emotions. He was the first dog who had died in our family. We had two other dogs: Pépe and Crumpet and both of them lived well into old age. So the idea of having a young dog die was quite shocking. I don’t think my parents even knew what to make of that. 

What I do remember was going to school the next day. 

When I think about it now, the strongest memory from that event was the feeling of isolation. I was different to the other kids. My dog had died. I had changed. 

I doubt I could articulate those emotions then, but the feeling that something had changed was strong. I have a vivid memory of standing alone under the monkey apple trees and watching the other kids playing. I felt separate from them because of my experience. 

Of course, I looked the same on the outside. No visible signs of distress. No crying. We belonged to a farming community and animals died all the time. It was the early 80s. 

I don’t remember anyone crying because their pet had died.

Feeling isolated

The feeling of isolation that we experience after our animal friend has died is an aspect of grief that is often overlooked. It’s caused by the shock we are feeling, as our minds are trying to integrate our experience and make sense of it. 

Having experienced that feeling of isolation each time I’ve lost an animal friend, it no longer surprises me. I’m quite familiar with it... 
  • I know it will pass in time. 
  • I know that it could resurface when I’m in a social situation when I experience a sudden pang of grief. 
  • I know that I’ll only feel it when I’m around certain people –– those who either don’t know that my animal companion has died, or those who don’t understand the depth of my connection and relationship with that animal. 
  • I know that I’m experiencing this emotion because I’m seeing myself in relation to other people. 
  • I know that when I feel safe and understood I can let my guard down and that feeling of isolation dissipates. 

This sense of isolation is therefore quite useful. 

It’s a way of helping us feel safe in situations where a careless comment about pet loss could cause us distress. 
It creates a bubble around us –– it’s like invisible padding. We can focus inwards, and notice how we feel and tune into what we need to feel comforted.

I call it The Bubble.

I used it a lot after my mare died. The shock was so extreme that the bubble stayed in place for almost a year. My mouth would work and respond to questions from people, I could have a conversation, but I was detached from reality. I could retreat into my bubble when I was sad and my bubble provided some cushioning for my broken heart. 

It didn’t dissipate any of my grief, but it was comforting to know that it was there and doing it’s job.

Do you remember losing your childhood animal friend? Do you remember how you felt? Are there any emotions from that time that you still need to process? Perhaps you can now, as an adult. You could give yourself the gift of gentle healing if that wasn’t available to you as a youngster. 

Leave a comment below of share on the Animal Empath's Facebook page.

Still struggling with unresolved grief? Book a session with me now. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Energy healing for animals worldwide

Animal Empaths offered free energy healing to the followers of their facebook page in the days preceding October 4th – World Animal Day.

This is how it went

It’s the start of summer in South Africa. Sunday was hot, but the day started off with a cool breeze. Even though I live in suburbia, I’m lucky to be surrounded by so many trees  which are sporting their season’s new greenery. The birds contributed to the soundtrack of the morning and complimented the whale sounds I chose to play.

I chose two oracle decks and pulled a card from each. Aren't these perfect?

Once I’d set  up our sacred space, I drew the reiki symbols and set my intention: 

My intention is to use this opportunity to connect with animal lovers around the world and send love and healing light to all the animals in need, around our beautiful planet. 

I started our ceremony with the sound of the Tibetan singing bowl. I use this to mark the beginning and the end of my rituals. 

I invited in my guides and those high vibrating beings of the energetic realms to join us.

Taking a deep breath, I gave thanks for all my animals who I’ve had the  privilege of knowing and sharing my life with... 

... For all the wonderful, warm people who asked for healing for their animal friends, and the fact that these beings are loved and cherished.

I put my hands on my heart and focused on the love that connects all of us to each other, regardless of where we are. 

I imagined it expanding outwards, amplified by our hearts, as it spread around the world. Touching people, influencing lives as it was felt by all those who needed to experience some extra love in their lives. 

I started connecting with the animals whose plights I’m aware of. This is what came through:

I saw our planet’s largest animals and their energetic connection to each other... Whales to elephants, to polar bears; and then surprisingly, to crocodiles!

I don’t stop to question the information or guidance I’m receiving. I continued to expand the feeling of love and energy as it flowed from me. I trust that the information that's come through will be clear and make sense when I reflect on it later.


I had an aerial view of earth, quite close to the surface, so that I could see people and animals, but from above. The visual was quite bland in colour, with browns and beiges. As I watched, I saw the colour change on the earth’s surface and then start seeping upwards. Into the plants and up through the legs of the animals and people. The colour changed from a dark magenta to a lightness that eventually radiated everywhere.

The image faded to whiteness as I continued to sit and feel the connection and the energy flowing. 

I picked up the pages I’d printed out containing all the messages. As I read the name of each person and their animal friends, I imagined each of you, held in a ball of white, healing light.

With my hand on my heart I gave thanks again. 
I ended our beautiful ceremony by sounding the Tibetan singing bowl again.

When I reflected on the messages I’d received, the following information came through:

I saw our planet’s largest animals and their energetic connection to each other... Whales to elephants, to polar bears; and then surprisingly, to crocodiles!

In my mind’s eye, the first animal I saw was a whale, with a pink line that travelled straight to an elephant, then a polar bear and then to a crocodile.

The feeling associated with this was one of connection. I also go the word ‘grid’.

I took this to mean that the collective of each of these species is holding an energetic grid between them. This grid has multiple purposes. In a sense it felt like they are holding the blueprint for the energetic potential of our planet. 

Their wisdom, higher knowledge and compassion are all contained within this grid, and this energy is available to all of us at any time. All we need to do is sit quietly and intend to connect to this grid. This is one way to receive healing energy from the animals, but also a way to contribute energy back into an existing grid of compassion and healing which encompasses our planet. 

I wasn’t surprised when I saw Whale, Elephant and Polar Bear show up, but I was surprised to see Crocodile there. When I asked about that, I got the sense that Crocodile is teaching us to remain grounded, being so close to the ground themselves. This is a reminder to be grounded at all times. Even when we are hooked and then triggered by the harsh stories  of cruelty that we’re exposed to in the media and that we hear about in our communities. When we are grounded we are plugged in. Plugged into the earth, we experience a feeling of being present and aware of our body.

I had an aerial view of earth, quite close to the surface, so that I could see people and animals, but from above. The visual was quite bland in colour, with browns and beiges. As I watched, I saw the colour change on the earth’s surface and then start seeping upwards. Into the plants and up through the legs of the animals and people. The colour changed from a dark magenta to a lightness that eventually radiated everywhere.

This felt like it was a continuation from the first images I saw. When I enquired about the meaning of what I was seeing, I understood this visual to represent the raising of consciousness on our planet. The change of the colour, from magenta (dark pink) to lighter pink and then complete light, tells me that we are all part of the energetic change on the planet. 

Again, we can help this process by being present and grounded. As we raise our consciousness, so we will influence the environment around us and this will have an energetic knock-on effect as more and more people are influenced.

I felt blessed and so connected to all of you who joined us. 

Thank you, and thank you from all the animals too.

Friday, October 2, 2015

World Animal Day – How you can help without leaving home


To mark World Animal Day on 4 October this year, we would like to invite animal lovers around the world to join us in sending love and healing energy to animals in need on our planet.

Myself and my mom, Reiki Master Carol Mulrooney, will be conducting a healing ritual for animals worldwide in celebration of St Francis day. We would like to include you and your animal friends. 

How you can participate

To receive healing

Pop over to this post on our facebook page and leave your name and the names of your animal companions in the comments and we'll include all of you in our Reiki healing circle.

To send healing

We’ll be holding our ceremony at 8am standard South African time on Sunday morning. You can join us at the same time in your time zone. The time of day isn’t as important as your intention to send love and healing out into the world.

A simple healing ritual you can follow if you choose

What you’ll need
  • Table cloth
  • A candle and matches
  • Some incense
  • Crystals
  • Vase of fresh flowers
  • Animal totem cards
  • Pictures, photos and statues of animals – including your companion animals
  • Pen and paper
  • Your written intention
  • A prayer that you’ve chosen
  • A list of things that you’re grateful for in your own life
  • A fireproof container

This is a general list, you can include any items that are sacred to you. 

How to conduct your ritual

Start off by creating your sacred space

  • Set your altar or area: arrange your items on your tablecloth in a semi circle around your photos, which you’ll place in the centre.
  • Light your candle and incense. 
  • Smudge the air around you and your space – the smoke will cleanse the air.

Set your intention. Something simple will do:

My intention is to use this opportunity to connect with animal lovers around the world, and send love and healing light to all the animals in need around out beautiful planet. 

You could list the animals that you know of who live in dire circumstances.
Some examples might be:

  • Those in puppy mills
  • Those used in circuses and for human entertainment everywhere
  • Rhinos in Africa who are being poached for their horns
  • Lions trapped in the canned hunting industry
  • Dogs who are used for fighting
  • Animals in shelters who are waiting for their forever homes
  • Animals who are lost or have been abandoned
  • Those whose habitats are under threat
You get the idea.

The trick here, though, dear empaths...
is not to allow this depressing list to trigger thoughts and feelings of anger in you. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to keep your heart’s vibration high. 

By that I mean, keep taking deep breaths and put your hands over your own heart space and focus on the LOVE you feel for animals. All animals. And expand THAT feeling out into the air around you.

If your thoughts keep turning to the pain and suffering, turn your attention back to your written intention:

My intention is to use this opportunity to connect with animal lovers around the world and send love and healing light to all the animals in need around out beautiful planet. 

Use your imagination
Imagine that we are all connected to one another (which we are); imagine your energy expanding and touching the energy of another person, just like you, see your expanding energy as a pink light connecting and growing in a cloud of love that eventually circles our planet. Focus on that. On the vibration of love that you are adding to. And keep breathing that love into your body and out again in the world. 

Once you feel comfortable with this energy, read your list out loud. Focus on that healing energy and put your hand on your heart to support yourself emotionally.

If you have experience using reiki, remember to use the reiki symbols to reinforce your intention. 

Read your prayer out loud and imagine that it’s heard by those whose hearts are softened and opened where they most need to be.

Ending with gratitude

Read your gratitude list. Notice how peaceful you feel, and how a feeling of gratitude helps to ground our energy and intention. Give thanks for the safety of your own companion animals. For the love they share unconditionally with us. 

Give thanks for all those animals who have found forever homes, for the open-hearted among us who provide shelter and food for animals where they can. 

Give thanks and send love to all the shelter workers, park rangers and individuals who save, care for, protect and rescue animals where they can.

Sit quietly a while and give thanks for all the good in the world.

If you choose, you can burn your written intentions and prayers and gratitude list. If they’re something you want to keep, take a photo with your phone or scan them first. 

Traditionally, smoke is considered to have carried prayers to heaven. Burn your papers and trust that your prayers and healing requests will travel to where they are most needed.

Thank you so much for sharing your uplifting energy with all of us!

This is how we can help change old patterns and transform old ways of thinking. By sending our love into the world. Our collective, ongoing energetic focus will help shift the old and transmute those energies into higher vibrating ones.