Celebration of Life: Ascend and Include (Part 4)

This is the fourth in a series of four posts by our amazingly awesome contributing blogger Dr. Penny Lloyd!

Dr. Penny recently lost her lifelong companion mare “Bangwyn”. By sharing experience and insight around life and death of loved ones, it is her intent to help all of us open to the unfathomable beauty and ultimate connection that is healing.

Celebration of Life – Ascend & Include

I am not here to tell anyone what to believe around death. I am simply sharing my experience. That is what I trust most nowadays. This seems to be the general trend for humanity at this stage in our evolution. It used to be that we would accept without question, information handed from authority figures (parents, doctors, government, police, boss, experts in any field). Now it is rare to take someone else’s advice, or even research, as absolute. When we question for ourselves, we discover there are many layers to everything. That makes life fascinating. It is all about finding our own way to truths and what is real – by sifting life through our own filter. That comes through being present to our own experience. That opening is what I wish to share.

Life is different for everyone because everyone’s perspective is different – built by our unique biological makeup and life experience. Each point of creation is unique. So my way is not the one way, the right way, the only way, the highway…it is just my experience at one point in my own evolution … guaranteed to change. So will yours.

Close to a decade ago, when my 21 year old cat best “Buddy” died in my arms, it was the most pain I had ever felt. The only thing that helped was going outside. When the pain was at its worst, I remember hearing a whispered “promise of connection”. It came while I was in the pasture, and was surprised to see a cat. The cat turned and looked at me – giving pause to my raging internal blizzard for a millisecond – long enough for the message to land. At that time, the word “connection” didn’t mean a thing. I quickly dismissed and forgot it. But it has resurfaced, becoming a focal word in my reality.

One of the things “Buddy” was just starting to do before he passed on was curl up at night in the crook of my arm, right next to my heart. I just loved it, couldn’t get enough of it, and wished he would sleep there always. A couple years after his passing, a little black fuzz ball kitten climbed up my leg one day and adopted me. He sleeps there regularly. And I love it more than ever.

Ten months ago, my sister’s dog “Sharky” passed on. Some time later, she adopted a full grown dog “Mystic” from the humane society. Everyone was shocked at how similar they looked. We have all made an effort to call the new dog “Mystic”, but regularly make the mistake of calling him Sharky. Even though they look the same, there are differences in character. Mystic definitely has traits Sharky never had. But in a surreal yet deeply comforting way, somehow all of Sharky surfaces within Mystic. He no longer seems gone. Somehow he is not all of Mystic, but part of him.

With the connection Bangwyn and I shared while she was in physical form, I could feel her presence with me whenever I thought of her. (This is something she helped teach me, which is another story.) We were never really apart. Even when we were a thousand miles away from each other, I could feel her energy right with me. All I had to do was focus and instantly there she was. It was a particular sensation that I knew to be her.

I assumed it would be the same when she passed over. The first time I checked in after her death, I fully expected her to be there as she had always been. Then I had a brief surge of panic that she had disappeared. But her presence was there. It had changed and felt different. The quality of it was lighter and freer – more wispy, less solid. And it was found in a slightly different place. It was no longer a next to me, side by side, walk together, merging sensation. When I scanned for her presence the way I had always done, I found it deeper and more central, integrated – it had become part of my heart space – at the very core of it. That’s where I found her after she passed on.


Celebration of Life? Healing Our Greatest Fear (Part 3)

This is the third in a series of four contributions by our amazing, compassionate blogger Dr. Penny Lloyd.

Dr. Penny recently lost her lifelong companion mare “Bangwyn”. By sharing experience and insight around life and death of loved ones, it is her intent to help all of us open to the unfathomable beauty and ultimate connection that is healing.

Celebration of Life? Healing our greatest fear

Mention the word death, dying, euthanasia and watch humans pucker up, fidget, sweat, change the subject and scramble for the nearest exit. Death is our greatest fear. The day my mare passed had an expansive peace, warmth, and beauty to it. It was so normal, so natural. How could such a huge day feel normal? How could such a day not have been the most horrible day of my life? How could “euthanasia day” be another series of moments shared… a normal natural extension of life as it had always been together – with rich new discoveries and joy created together? I couldn’t have done it without her. Animals can help humans transform our biggest fear. They do not fear death like we do.

Years ago I remember driving my vet truck and seeing yet another gorgeous black squirrel with tufted ears lifeless in the middle of the road. It was one of those emotional days, where I couldn’t bear it. It tore me up. Tears didn’t help. Neither did saying a blessing prayer. What did help was this thought. “Consider this. Maybe it is a game. Could it be squirrels dart across the road on purpose? Perhaps the thrill of going to the light is the best game of all. From a squirrel’s perspective, an exciting game of dodge dash, followed by a quick painless exit – may be the best of all days. Then “pop” back into another body, to do it again. Like a carnival ride.”

It is hard to wrap your head around how it can all be in one day. How can there be the best of times at the worst of times? How can a day of immense sorrow also be playful, carefree, and adventurous? Is that allowed? How is that even possible? All I know is that my mare was clearly having a party. Her enthusiasm was contagious. If you took her lead, today, every day, was a celebration. Every moment was a party. Not a false front drunken desperate attempt to escape reality party. A fully enter and embrace reality party.

Whatever there was to enjoy, she enjoyed fresh and full – like she had always done. Today was no different, only perhaps more so. For all around there was a higher vibration than usual. This gave each experience even more rich full joy. Who knew that on your last day you could discover the taste of carrots and succulent greens – with salt for the first time? Who knew that humans could be so delightfully present, instead of busy? How could a simple walk feel so carefree incredible? Who knew that a needle could give such freedom?

And so because I was more present, I came to glimpse a truth behind the “Celebration of Life” phrase, not as used in the past remembrance tense, but now. Always in the now, as animals always are, enjoying what is, without judgment, preconceived notion, concepts, or fear of death. Past and future do not even exist, when you fully enter the moment. From this vantage, life is celebration and celebration is life. They are one and the same.


Celebration of Life? Surviving the Day (Part 2)

This is the second in a series of four posts by our amazing, compassionate blog contributor Dr. Penny Lloyd.  Dr. Penny recently lost her lifelong companion mare “Bangwyn”. By sharing experience and insight around life and death of loved ones, it is her intent to help all of us open to the unfathomable beauty and ultimate connection that is healing.

Celebration of Life?  Surviving the day

Forget the “transforming pain to beauty” part!%*! How can you suffer such incredible pain and simply survive? When your heart is ripped out, and the pain is coming thro in waves so strong it takes your breath away – what do you do? Shouldn’t there be a friggin’ manual on that one?!?? Not sure I have the manual, but this helps me:

Don’t try to do it alone. Say a prayer. Ask for help. Allow the support of friends & family. It is natural to want to hide to lick your wounds, but there is nothing like sharing a meaningful experience openly. It releases tension. It opens your heart. An open heart is the only way to truly feel better – to heal – to enjoy.

When the pain comes, breathe. Try going outside. For me, nature offers relief.
Let yourself feel what you feel. If you let yourself feel, it comes in waves and passes through. It may come again, but it doesn’t get stuck.
Observe your thoughts. Watch how adding to certain streams of thought adds to your pain. Notice that you can choose to stop – and just be – a still oasis. Notice how easy it is to whip up guilt, regret, doubt…tons of extras to dump on top to add to your agony. Notice you can stop – even an avalanche – but it is easiest early on, just as a thought trickles in. Some thoughts will come that actually make you feel a little better. Even at a time like this, you can choose.

Be gentle, true and nice to you. Take the easiest, gentlest path. Chances are you won’t have the energy to control much. Conserve energy. No right way to act. Just show up, moment to moment. Let it unfold. Give yourself room to feel how you feel…whatever surfaces. You may be surprised. And you may want to take this “roomy compassion mother self hug” way of being with you into the future.
Deal with only one moment at a time. Forget past, future, and what ifs. Focus only on the step in front of you. Barebones stripped away, blank slate – just be there to notice. Show up and ride on through, step by step – the way animals live. No preplanning. Take action when necessary. Watch moment to moment. Be open and observe. You can experience more in one hour of presence, than a lifetime of busy. Animals love people who are present.

Let yourself let go. Surrender the last threads of control. Let go of tension by relaxing your grip. A situation like this primes us for surrender. To have no energy to fight, can be the greatest gift. It may be the first time you can receive.
Watch the impulse to “run or hide” to avoid pain. Both are resistance. The resistance is what hurts the most. If you turn and face the pain, let the pain be there, you will come to know the fullness of grief as love. Love is all there is.
Alcohol. When big stuff is going on, I avoid numbing out with alcohol. But I also know alcohol can work as a heart opener. This time, at the close of the day, I experimented consciously. I took a sip and tuned into how I felt. I was surprised when the heavy physical sensation of pain gradually lifted from my heart – and I had a lovely real heart to heart conversation with my sister, before going to sleep.


Celebration of Life? (Part 1)

This is a contribution by Dr. Penny Lloyd:
Dr. Penny recently lost her lifelong companion mare “Bangwyn”. By sharing experience and insight around life and death of loved ones, it is her intent to help all of us open to the unfathomable beauty and ultimate connection that is healing.

Cat's EyeCelebration of Life?

Several years ago a good friend and her 7 year old daughter were killed in a head on car crash. It was the first time I went to a funeral that was called “Celebration of Life”. At the time, I was grief stricken and trying hard to control it. To me the phrase “Celebration of Life” was not something I was up to at a time like that. The last thing I felt like doing was joining in a celebration. I could see how it was a positive way to honor a life well lived, but that was as deep as my understanding went. The phrase seemed like an overly bright smile masking a huge gaping wound. Now, I understand better. When you really go into it and follow it to the root, these are great words to describe a deeper truth.

What I remember most about my first “Celebration of Life” are 3 things:

Permission to be real. It was the first time in my life I experienced a group of people who had room for it all. It was okay to cry or laugh, crack a stupid joke, talk or not. It did not matter. Everyone had room for everything. In a strange way it was a group of people as it should be. Everyone had a larger capacity that day. I didn’t understand the window that death provides. I only knew that it actually felt good. Feeling good at a funeral?!? It was my first glimpse into compassion. It was the potential of the human race in a compassionate state – an evolved state of being – and it was beautiful indeed.

Crying. That was not something I allowed freely at that time in my life. What a powerful release. It is like taking the lid off a pressure cooker to let go of the resistance of trying not to cry. It is the first step to feel better – to stop the fight – to give yourself permission to feel what you feel. To let whatever you feel move through you and not get stuck.
The radiance in her husband/father’s eyes. He had the most captivating eyes that day. I had never noticed his eyes before, but that day you couldn’t help but fall deep into the bottomless blue. Like they weren’t really eyes, but a compelling force. They say the eyes are the window to the soul. At the time I had little understanding. Now I know it was presence shining through a human – stronger than I had ever witnessed before – absolute mesmerizing beauty.

I felt that radiance again the day my mare passed. There was a moment where she was more beautiful than I had ever seen. This was followed quickly by a second of panic where I desperately wanted to run and get my camera, do something, to try to capture…a lifetime. But some wise part of me knew to just let that thought go, be there, sit, breathe, let the panic subside, sink into the moment and enjoy it more. We were just doing something we had done thousands of times. I was biting off pieces of carrot and she was munching away. But the splendor of the moment was profound. There was magnificence in her face – the shape, how her forelock tumbled and rested between those incredible soft, kind eyes – eyes that held so much and understood everything. With zero energy for expectations that day – I witnessed perfection.


Animal Companions offer Psychological Benefits: Of Course!

It is wonderful to see the studies  mounting up  that continue to further document the health benefits of our animal friends.  This recent study documenting that pets offer psychological benefits seems like a no brainer to me! Duh! Of course they do! The benefit of these studies are that each one continues to accumulate further documentation that the happiest, healthiest future includes humans sharing their lives with animals. The great Harvard entomologist, E.O. Wilson proposed that their is an innate need for humans to share their lives with other living beings, which he called “biophilia”.
This is why we share our lives with them. This is why there are more multi-species households in the U.S. than not. This is what I wrote about in my “Kindred Spirits”. They offer us psychological benefits in prisons, schools for the emotionally challenged, senior citizen homes, orphanages, and wherever people are yearning for unconditional love at very deep levels.
I remember a statement by a colleague of mine, Dr. Larry Dossey that I paraphrase frequently “If there was a pill that had all the documentation on the health benefits of animals for people, it would be the best documented and most desired medication on the market”.
Perhaps we can now develop non-harmful, ethical, humane studies documenting the health benefits of living in a multi-species world that is based on loving kindness and compassion for all beings. Now that would be a great study that could lead to profound, happy outcomes! Perhaps, that is what we can create through the kindred spirits project. If you have ideas on how to create such a study and would like to co-create a study like this, let me know and let’s create it. Perhaps the study would be actually creating such worlds, little microcosms of loving compassionate multi-species communities. Perhaps some exist already. Do you know of one?
Let’s have fun creating one!

Study Shows Pet Ownership Has Psychological Benefits: Huffington Post


Amazing Grace: Kindred Spirits Sharing Music

Bettine Clemen is a true kindred spirit with all animal lovers. She travels worldwide sharing her message of the interconnectedness, magic and love of animals and how so many species respond to the universal language of music. Like many of us, we feel the pain and suffering of all beings as we traverse these challenging times. In the spirit of the kindred spirits project, Bettine chooses to bath weary souls in the beauty and amazing grace of music, animals and love. Join her in these magical moments that she shares with us.
We are so grateful to have Bettine as part of our community and our kindred spirits project.
Bettine has just completed a workshop in Europe on animal communication and documenting it’s results. She is now integrating animal communication at deeper levels with her music. It will be fascinating to see how this evolves. Stay tuned as Bettine will be contributing regularly to the kindred spirits project.
If you enjoy her connection with music and animals, you can view more of her creations at www.joyofmusic.com .
Amazing GraceAmazing Grace


Mayan Elders Share Their View on 2012: Kindred Futures


Mayan Elder Explains 2012
Many clients, friends  and  blog readers often ask me  what my thoughts and insights are about 2012 and all the varied predictions in regards to my mission statement and vision of the Kindred Spirits Project.    You can read so many interesting and bizarre views on the internet on the subject proposing everything from predictions that it is the end of the world, cataclysm, armageddon, solar flare destruction, the blossoming of a new age,  multi-dimensional shifts, consciousness shifts etc. etc.  Often these refer back to the Mayan calendar as the starting point.  Being a free range thinker so to speak, I pondered the question, explored the different perspectives, looked for scientific evidence for any of the theories and danced between skepticism and open minded inquisitive listening.  My tentative view at this moment in time is  “I don’t know”.  “I don’t know”, by the way,   is  one of my favorite quotes from one of my old teachers, Ram Dass, former Harvard Psychology Professor and spiritual teacher, who used to find great freedom and rejoice in saying that.

Recently though, I just came across this personal letter and address by one of the key elders, Wandering Wolf,  in the Mayan Culture.  I found this letter and the information included in it to be more honest than anything else I have seen or heard. There is a new film being created based on the interviews with Wandering Wolf called “Shift of the Ages”. You can watch trailers for it on Youtube. I found this one video offering a brief explanation of the Mayan Elder Explains 2012 quite informative. (more…)


Kindred Visions: Copernicus Institute Supports New Vision

Listen to internet radio with Copernicus Radio on Blog Talk Radio
Bonding with a Parrot

Bonding with a Parrot at a book store

Copernicus Radio is a cutting edge, paradigm busting internet radio show that has become an integral part of the broader vision of creating a more compassion based, healthier, happier world. I was just interviewed on their radio show by one of their visionary creators, Steve Saenz. Copernicus radio program provides members with access to creative and innovative thought leaders from a wide range of professional disciplines.
The mission of the Copernicus Institute is “to help visionary leaders optimize their personal and professional effectiveness by employing creativity and innovation”. I am honored to have just been invited to become a member of the Copernicus Institute. Their mission statement states” We are committed to building meaning in the lives and businesses of our members so they, in turn, can build meaning in the lives of those they serve. We strive to be results-driven and action-oriented because it does not really matter how much knowledge you have; it is what you do with that knowledge that counts.”
In their vision they states that they like to “challenge the conventional wisdom”. That has been my professional journey since graduating from veterinary school. Building upon the excellent education I received at the world renowned Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, my passion was to continually explore new nontoxic, innovative options to help animals heal that did not respond to conventional medicine or surgery. The Copernicus Institute voices similar passions to the kindred spirits project, stating that “It will be known as an incubator for breakthrough thinking; a place where ideas, relationships and adventure flourish”. This is precisely what I envision for all animal lovers to come together and nourish new concepts and relationships based on a trans-species, loving supportive community.
I resonate so much with the Copernicus Institute vision. I am grateful that their stimulating questions in the interview had me reflect back on different stages of my life’s journey. I invite you to their look at their virtual tour of their website, programs and vision. I love their quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the greatest American philosophers. They state that Emerson used to greet old friends and acquaintances whom he had not seen in a while with the salutation, ‘What’s become clear to you since we last met?’ How perfect a question is that? That opens up a door to a much deeper, more intimate discussion and relationship with others. So, dear kindred spirit, What has become clear to you since you have viewed the kindred spirits project and Copernicus radio? How will that impact on what you choose to create on the next steps of your life journey shared with all your animal friends?


Retreat Time

“It is essential sometimes to go into retreat, to stop everything that you have been doing, to stop your experiences completely and look at them anew, not keep on repeating them like machines. You would then let fresh air into your mind. Wouldn’t you? This place must be of great beauty with trees, birds, and quietness, for beauty is truth and truth is goodness and love.” …..Krishnamurti

Ahhhhh….. The word retreat arouses calming thoughts and feelings of silence, peacefulness, serene quiet time in nature, inner joy. We all need some quiet retreat time in our lives. Sometimes it is simply a day off, an hour off, one evening off from the seemingly endless to do list of modern life. Sometimes it is taking a Sabbath day and just being. Sometimes it is even just a moment of awareness. Other times we may choose to create a longer period to reflect, contemplate, ponder, or simply let go and quiet the mind completely. During summer months many take weekend retreats at a stunning array of retreat centers available throughout the world nestled in the natural beauty of nature, whether by an ocean, in the mountains, the desert or a combination thereof. It seems that just being quiet in nature surrounded by wildlife is a salve to the soul.

Some beings even choose to take longer retreats, one week or one month long meditation retreats such as in vippassana silent retreats. Other take Christian based, Jewish based, Sufi based, Hindu or Buddhist quiet meditative, contemplative retreats. The commonality is that they are usually in beautiful, quiet natural settings with wildlife, simple natural meals, and either guided or self-guided quiet time. It is wonderful to not have to think about where or what you will do for each meal or where you will stay each night as that is all taken care of. It is amazing how quieting it is to the mind to just decrease those simple number of decisions one has to make each day. (more…)


TV Interview with Dr. Karen Becker and Dr. Schoen

Dr. Karen Becker, author of “Dr. Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats” and one of my absolute outstanding students interviewed me in a two part heartfelt, candid TV interview for her radio show. I thought you might be interested in watching this interview. The second part of this TV Discussion about the Kindred Spirits Project goes into the background and deeper questions that I pose on the kindred spirits project. I share with Dr. Becker, my personal spiritual journey that I based the creation of the kindred spirits project.
Dr. Becker is an excellent interviewer and brought out my deeper vision of what we are co-creating as part of the kindred spirits project. It is a joy to see younger veterinarians enthusiastically embracing the concepts of holistic integrative veterinary medicine and spreading the word to an ever widening audience. It is even more heartening to see how a new generation of veterinarians is acknowledging my theories of animal field theory, trans-species field theory and the healing power of the human animal bond.
I hope you enjoy these two TV interviews! Till next time…..May all you kindred spirits be blessed with inner peace, joy, health and love!