Category Archives: death

What Tick’s You Off?🕷Death and BS in the Circle of Life  

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Hiya Radiant Renegades

💙💚💙 I arrive at Green Diva Meg’s magical home, ready for a delightful stint of dog sitting. 10 days in the woods. 10 days of quiet. Daily walks around a beautiful lake with her devoted dog, Gracie. I get to hang with the heron and gab with the geese. A sapphire sky sprawls out before us. It’s heaven on earth. 🌳💦 🌊

Until. 

The cool camouflaged snake

A sign appears on my first walk. A snake!🐍 I feel so excited to have noticed her, wonderfully camouflaged along the trail. So much exciting life in these woods! 

Ten minutes later, my mood plummets. I see half of a mutilated snake, jaws gapping open in wide-eyed shock. Did it suffer? It’s just the circle of life, I say, trying to soothe my heart. I’ve always loved animals. But I’m pained by predators and not at home with the ways of the wild. 

The next morning, I notice one of the unique brown squirrels… and an adorable baby bouncing behind her! AW! 🐿 I watch them closely, totally enjoying their twitchy athletics. Later that day, I feel a sudden nudge to grab the binoculars and look out the front window (which I’ve never done – it’s partially blocked.) As I’m peering out across the lawn, a fox runs right into view! WHOA! 🦊 I follow the fox with my lens, feeling SO happy that I listened to the nudge. Then I notice a soft bundle in her mouth. Oh. No. As she’s running, she drops it! What the?   

Sunset on Meg’s lake

 The fox zips out of view and I swing my lens back to the motionless furball. What is it? Please not a baby bunny. Please. My heart is dipping into sadness & shock, once again. I wait awhile, but the fox does not return for the meal. I feel horribly compelled to go look. But I can’t look. But it’s right on the path where we walk. Crap. I have to look. No I don’t want to look. 

I’m gonna go look. 

I walk out across the expansive green lawn with Gracie, for comfort and courage. My eyes are glued to the spot where the sweet bundle lies. I’m braced for the bunny. 

But it’s a baby red squirrel. 

What. The. Hell! 

The circle of life… again!?!

I stare bleakly, as Gracie sniffs the adorable baby. Death makes me droop. Is the mama squirrel distraut? Why can’t I accept that death follows life?

The universe is being very loud. What’s the message? 

A few hours later, the lil body is still there. I’m hoping it won’t go to waste. 

Vulture perched above us

As Gracie and I head into the woods, there is a a loud flurry of flapping. A huge vulture lifts off the path and perches above our heads. 

All this LIFE in the woods, and Death will NOT shut up.

I text my hubby the eerie deets of the day. He sends a photo of a ginormous feather he found in our yard and writes, “it’s from a deep doo-doo bird.”

OMG vultures are circling.

Live snake. Dead snake. Live squirrel. Dead squirrel. Vulture. Vulture. Is someone gonna die??

Vulture feather (deep doo-doo bird)

I wake up the next day and find a deer tick embedded in my side 🕷 Nooooo! And there’s a bloody bull’s eye, already! ACKKKKKK! Invaded! After some pulling, pain and panic, I finally remove the beastie, but it’s black grappling hooks are left in my side. 

This is NOT fair! Nature is where I feel at home, in awe, connected, but now the glory of the Great outdoors is circling the drain! Why would the Earth attack me?

As I drive to the health food store, and talk to the naturopath, I resist the answer.

Mother Nature isn’t betraying me. My BS (belief system) is. My fears already had me circling the drain. I’m a wilderness wannabe, but I continually worry that my dwarfed body isn’t safe in this world. Vulnerable. Victim. Ah ha. I’ve become the prey I feared. My BS is confirmed! (BS would rather be right than happy.) 

Bonus BS – I have a deep distrust of the medical world, even though it’s come to my aid in the past. I DO NOT WANT antibiotics! But I know I can’t fool around with Lyme disease. I worship (and cling) to natural remedies. But I’m working to blend the two worlds, of medicine and metaphysics, without judgment.

I’m still terrified. And totally ticked. This tiny pain in my side brings old issues to the surface… and it feels like everything’s all WRONG… but maybe it’s to help me see that in the bigger picture, I’m always alright. 

Magical pond at Meg’s, early morning

At the doctor’s office, the nurse tells me she’s had Lyme’s for 28 years. As she’s leaving the room, she turns back, as if nudged from beyond, and says tenderly, “you know, ticks are a part of the circle of life.” 

My jaw drops open like the wide-eyed snake. 

“I canNOT believe you just said that,” I tell her. “That’s been going through my mind for two days!” 

“I couldn’t understand why God created ticks,” she said, “so I read up and found that ticks help clean up the environment. Like vultures. 

“No. Way.” I stared at her, gobsmacked. I feel a profound awe and relief. 

The lake where I stayed

We live in a dynamic, interactive ecosystem. It breathes through us and speaks to us, as us. Animals, water, sky, nurses and even ticks. Life and death are divine dance partners. We came here to take the crazy, complicated, courageous steps. To walk in each other’s moccasins. To dive into the dark and remember our own reflection of light. And to lovingly @#$% embrace our belligerent BS.

When we’re in deep doo-doo… it isn’t the circumstances that cause the lasting pain, it’s our beliefs about them. Fear tells us we’re alone, wounded, and the vultures are circling. The truth says we’re One with it all. We draw to our side (or embedded IN our side) whatever will bring up our BS so we can return to wholeness… and let go of the grappling hooks.

FYI I learned that ticks are a major food source for birds, reptiles etc. If we erased them (or mosquitoes, fleas, poison ivy etc…) we’d further mess with the balance of nature.☯

We already live off the Earth quiet mindlessly, and yet she’s a forgiving host. We complain about insects and inconvenience… and yet our collective footprint melts glaciers. Kills bees and trees. We’re the predators. In my tiny tick-attack, the tables were turned. Circle of dark and light.

What ticks you off?
What’s sucking the life out of you?
What fear needs to die, so something better can be reborn in you?

Meg’s dog, Gracie & the setting sun

Fighting our troubles is a form of violence against ourselves. We add to our suffering by insisting that life be other than “what it is.” When we reject what the foxy universe presents, we miss the hidden bundles that heal our inner wild. 

When the old BS is circling, our prayers are bringing unexpected answers. Take that leap of faith. Accept life with an open heart. Trust your soul’s nudges. And smile across the mysterious wilderness.
With a deep bow.

💞✨ Sending lotsa love and light,
☀💚 in the circle that moves us all,

P.S. The oldest known fossilized tick was discovered in a piece of amber in NJ (where I am, lol.) It’s 90 million years old! They must be doing something right. So let’s keep on ticking… just like they do.

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Photo from my favorite park and pond

The Doggy Lama: Do Animals Reincarnate?

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 When my hubby Bill and I met, he had a very special dog named Fred. I fell in love with both of them.

Fred had so many endearing qualities – his yellow lab enthusiasm, his bloodhound flop-on-top-of-you adoration, his snugglyness (think eighty pound lap dog) and his adorable nibbles on Bill’s beard.

One of Freddy’s unfortunate habits was when he buried his bone (from the butcher) in the bed. If we forgot to close the bedroom door, he would take that messy bone and shove it down into the corner of the mattress frame.

Then, trying to thoroughly ‘hide’ it, he’d push his snout so hard that the tip of his nose would start to bleed. As he dragged his bloody nose from every angle, he left a dramatic red sunburst pattern across the white sheet, at the corner of the bed. A bloody artist.

And then there was the time he stole the plastic bag of stinky sour-bread starter and dragged it (leaking) around the entire apartment. That stuff dries like cement.

Through it all, Freddy helped us lighten up, laugh, and feel loved, as only our fur-family can do. Such deep and mysterious attachments are soulmate kinda material.

It makes their loss incredibly profound.

It was a week before Christmas, when Fred was hit by a car, and killed instantly. Bill and I were devastated. Heartbroken. Unhinged.

My one source of hope was believing and praying that someday, somehow, Freddy’s jubilant spirit would come back to us. My hubby wasn’t so sure.

That would change.

A year later, we were ready to adopt again. We searched around for weeks until we finally found a yellow Lab/Shepherd mix at a local shelter. By the time we got there, another woman had the puppy on her lap. Bill started pacing. I chewed my nails.

The woman asked the shelter volunteer, “Does this puppy play at all? He’s awfully lazy.” The volunteer answered, “He was very frisky with his sister not long ago.” (The sister had been adopted just before we arrived.) “Well, he has zero personality now. Is he going to be big? I live in a small apartment,” the woman whined. Bill jumped in: “Take a look at those paws. He’s gonna be BIG.”

Fifteen agonizing minutes tick-tocked by. The puppy was oddly placid.

“Well if you aren’t sure,” the volunteer told the woman, “let these folks hold him – they came specifically to see that puppy.” HIGH FIVE!

As the volunteer handed the puppy to Bill, the pup sprang to life, wriggling, waggling and then nibbling on Bill’s beard. Aw! When Bill put him on the floor, he scampered away and then circled back and sat right between Bill’s legs. The volunteer was very impressed. “Sometimes the animals pick the owners. He sure picked you.”

We named him Norman. He turned into a 95 lb. blond shepherd, with cute speckled tan polka dots on his white paws.

About six months later, Bill brought home a butcher bone and gave it to Norm. As we were cooking dinner, I put his dog food down. When he didn’t appear, I went looking. I peeked into our bedroom.

“Bill! Come quick!”

There, in the corner of our bed, was Freddy’s bloody sunburst pattern. We stared in astonishment.

Bill laughed out loud, “I guess dogs do get recycled!” 

Time flew by. When our sons joined the family, Norm was their devoted gentle giant, a daily cornerstone of unconditional love.

When he passed away of old age, our hearts were demolished, once again. Bill believed he would never get over the loss.

That would change.

A few months after Norm left our world, we began the search. I showed Bill all kinds of online puppy pictures at local shelters – Bill wasn’t moved by any. Until.

      This one photo (below) creamed our hearts. 

The shelter was two hours away, but there was something about this puppy, in a litter of nine, that felt like Norm. But how will we know?

The adoption day was so big that we had to stand in line. We watched as, one by one, that litter of nine yellow Lab/Rottweiler pups dwindled down to one. By the time it was our turn to look, there was one puppy left and he was the dude in the photo. Yahoo!

As Bill held him, I saw it – one white paw with speckled tan polka dots. Norm!? As my older son and I stood in line with the new pup, waiting to buy some toys, I was still unsure.

I silently asked my guardian angels for another sign that this puppy was the one.

An older woman, ahead of us in line, was talking to the cashier when all of the sudden she yells out into the store, “Norman?! Did you find the birdseed?”

My son and I did a double take at the woman and then stared wide-eyed at each other.

Welcome Home Norm!

Merlin, aka Fred/Norm, is now 7 years old. I like to believe that, in one form or another, he is family forever. He’ll go on giving his daily dose of love. Happy to be alive. Reminding us of the purity and power of living in the present. When we can enjoy the ‘simple’ NOW, then the next moment starts looking pretty awesome, too. And we end up taking a brief, but vital, vacay from our worries.

And while we have responsibilities to tend to, there’s no reason we can’t pause for a moment, and live by their example. Unfettered by the future. Unattached to the past. Following our next breathe to a deeper peace and appreciation of everyday life. That sunny spot on the carpet. Those tasty tootsie rolls in the cat litter.

Montana photo by Joslin Fields

These fur-balls forgive us our sins (as we forgive theirs.) They pay no mind to our superficial distractions, fears and flaws. They don’t long to be leaner, stronger or prettier. They don’t need the coolest device, car, cash or perfect mate. They don’t judge gender, religion, race, appearance or smelly pits (that may even be a bonus.)

They accept what is, without regret, and they feel ecstatic just to be alive. Sniff the breeze. Go for a walk. Or rest in your holy presence.

Compared to us, they need very little, and they appreciate a whole lot. They save us from ourselves with their depth of love, loyalty, life, and uninhibited being-ness. If we mess-up, they don’t love us any less. They never question if we’re good enough.

And when they stare into our eyes – the love hormone, oxytocin – is released into our blood stream. And theirs. Fur free.

So go totally insane with joy. Over anything. Be your own oxytocin dispenser. We may not have everything we think we need, but we can be happy anyway, just like they are.

This earth is filled with creatures who increase our capacity for connection. Wonder. Joy. Just have a laugh at an animal video. Cuddle your cat. “Wag more Bark less.” Be pawsitive. Smile at an ordinary day. It all lets the love stream in. And out. Right where you are. Just as you are.  

It’s easy peasy doggy sneezy.

with lotsa love & thanks (to fur friends, far and wide,)

and to us, their hilarious, hapless humans,

XO Julie

Signs from Dad: Finding Blessings in the Broken Places

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%22To these memories I will hold. I bid you all a very fond farewell. Billy BoydI’ve been wanting to write to you about my Dad ever since he slipped into the great beyond last year. Sitting here at the keyboard, biting my lip, I’m intimidated and perplexed as to how to tackle something so big. A whole lifetime. A sudden loss.

I’m worried my words won’t do him justice. My feelings are too fumbled. I keep rereading my straggly sentences – and deleting. Grief is such an uncharted journey. What I thought I understood about saying goodbye, pales in comparison to the reality. The questions. The unknown.

So I hang on to the signs.

The morning after Dad died, feeling shocked and heartbroken, I asked him to please send a sign that he was watching over Mom – that his spirit was alive and well. That we’d all be ok.

As I sent the prayer, I pushed the backdoor open to let our dog out, and there was sudden thunderous honking from a long V of Canadian geese! They were flying very low, the lead goose cresting right over our home – I flinched in surprise, but my heart hit the sky! I cried and I laughed – it felt jubilant! Triumphant! Holy! Dad’s answer was swift, certain and celebratory – a lot like he was. Is. A free bird!

%22We go to the grave saying, ‘A man is dead,’ but angels throng about him saying, ‘A man is born’.Henry Ward Beecher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canadian geese are residents at my favorite pond, and after years of taking personal days there, to sit, write and just be, they feel like friends.

Julie & geese Hedden copy

That’s me and my winged friends at the pond :)

Last year, we even untangled a little gosling caught in fishing line. So on that bleak morning, a raucous and victorious V was the perfect messenger :)

In fact, Dad kind of reminds me of those geese. They can be bold and fierce – they’re not afraid to stand up for themselves or their goslings. They’re protective and proud parents (who are known to be black and white.) They hail from Canada where my mom’s family, and now all our families, have a very special summer cottage.

Since the first day without Dad, and that striking sign, I continue to ask for God’s reassurance that Dad hasn’t really left our lives. And Dad never disappoints. When I’ve asked, he has landed a flaming red dragonfly on my finger, sent sand dollars in ocean waves, perched a hawk right outside my window, and drawn a rainbow hawk in the clouds. (When I was a girl, his name in our Indian Princess tribe was “Thunder Hawk.”)

“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come. ~Tagore

%22fire rainbow hawk

 

 

 

 

 

A few weeks ago, I had four blissful days to myself while cat-sitting at a friend’s. The morning I was leaving, I happened to read a post from Karen Noe’s newsletter ~ she recommended asking our loved ones for *without a doubt* signs that they are still with us.

So as I drove over to kitty-sit, I asked Dad for just that. Later in the day, I walked out into my friend’s beautiful backyard and noticed the woodpile. I thought Dad might send a chipmunk, which I adore. Although I don’t see them that often, I then dismissed them as too common to be *indisputable.*

But as I continued to walk, a chipmunk did pop up by the house… and then ran straight at me! I froze in place half wondering if a shy chippy would zip right over for a cuddle. It came within five feet. Wow. As it ducked under the shed, I laughed to myself… but not so sure that this was my sign.

Within a minute, something caught my eye in a nearby birch tree. I don’t know why I noticed it, really – the soft blush color was well hidden amidst the white and gray. As I walked closer, though, I saw her – the sweetest baby robin seamlessly camouflaged in the birch! See her? So precious, she melted my heart. The fuzzy white tuffs of new feathers were softly blowing in the breeze. Awwwwww! (You can see a quick video of her here, close-up! Sorry the video is sideways, I was too excited to realize!)

baby robin camouflaged

beautifully camouflaged baby robin :)

This is Dad’s work! He knows I’m a sucker for nature’s babies! I marveled and cooed and appreciated and photographed that adorable little robin.

As I turned to walk away, thrilled in my treasured discovery, a shadow from above caused me to look up, and there it was: a majestic great blue heron sailing across the sky! Another one of my heroines from my favorite pond. I could just imagine Dad cheering and laughing along with me!

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. Shakespeare

An old photo of my boys watching a V of geese!

Dad knows what I love, and from his heavenly place of camouflage, he speaks fluent heron, chipmunk & baby bird. He hit a loving triple play that afternoon, speaking *indisputably* to my soul.

Keep ‘em coming, Dad. I love you so much.

%22For all that has been - thanks! To all that shall be - yes! Dag Hammarskjold

wishing you victorious signs, comfort, and lotsa love, 

Julie signature copy

P.S. I wanted to invite you to a free online summit called,

The Intuitive Child, Nurturing The Inner Wisdom Within

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I’ll be one of the 21+ speakers, so I hope you can join us! I’m looking forward to listening to all the interviews myself :)  Please register here. ❤ 

%22how fortunate are you and I who’s home is timelessness we who have wandered down.e.e.cummings