What feeling state will you do just about anything to avoid?

How can I ever thank you dear doggies, for the warmth I feel welling up in my heart and body, for the peace that descends into every cell of my being, as I say yes to this invitation to spend time here together without demand, without expectation, without names. You permit me to be here in shared space with you and I invite myself to just 'be', to not rush in to connection with you with my affection or demands, but to allow you to connect with me, if and when you would like to and permit myself to do the same. To allow you to somehow let me know if you would like a rub or a pet or a few words or just the quickest of glances and acknowledgement of your beauty and mine. I do feel beautiful here with you, full of beauty, my persona drops away and brings relief, a presence of non judgment. A deepening mood of contentment.

I sense that what you like most is for me to breathe and receive life and offer life. Looking at these photos now I am in direct bodily memory of this time together so the gift continues to flow for me weeks later. I have met other dogs since this day and cows and pigs and I offer them this same accompaniment, and receive theirs. It's as if my body is plumped up with water and love.

Don't just DO something, SIT THERE!

I have been blessed to be surrounded by teachers in one form or another to support me to breathe into and embrace the things I don't want to feel, the things that I fear I will never return from 'sane' if I feel them. Just want to say this is the most direct 'method' I have found so far. A place of 'not doing anything' and allowing myself to be in the presence of animals, insects and plants and mosses and rivers. I believe that through the path I have taken with the embodiment of compassion a portal has opened and softened the walls that have kept me from this interconnectedness that has been waiting to embrace me fully, all this time. I was embraced and held by all of this as a child, I am coming home again.

So, my friends, if this touches you, if some cells in your own body are sparkling with a yes to what you are reading. I am here offering my work in different ways, choose one and come and join me.

With so much love in my heart today and a visceral experience of gratitude in my body for this 'resilience' whatever that is, whatever my ancestors have bequeathed me, that I am growing capacity to feel my feelings and access my life force and creativity and my 'product' of service for the world.

"When we compress the terrain of grief we also compress the terrain of joy." Francis Weller

I want to talk about grief.. I want to understand. I want to trust it's powerful force. I feel it intensely, often. It has been part of my life since childhood through the absence of a father's love, that visceral and terrible yearning to run into his arms and be scooped up. And recently through the loss of my home and the shedding of more of my belongings. In these recent years of walking towards it's aliveness in my body I sense subtle beginnings of understanding of it's fierce grip.

Wild horses try to pull me away from speaking openly about it though. It's difficult to share these words with you because our culture has no room for it, wants it to go away and 'be healed' and 'pass with time'. With thoughts like 'other people have suffered far worse things than me'. It's especially difficult to meet understanding in our culture when the grief is borne

from an ending or absence and not a dying. Oh how I wish it was so that the grief would go away, but my body tells a different story.

I am sitting on a bench where me and my husband used to sit and our doggies used to spend time. Our 23 years together ended 3 years ago. We spread the ashes of our dog Badger here and as I sit I realise it's akin to visiting a grave. The loss of what was my 'family'. I connect to the felt memory of Badger (my oldest dog who has passed on) to join me if she would like to. I see her sniffling the ground nearby, her presence and companionship fill me with warmth and light.

My other dog Tayto visits with me too. He is walking along, he does that little skip with his back leg that he always used to do. With Tayto's visit comes a sense of fun and adventure (I found a new home for Tayto). Their visit comforts me and brings many tears.

In interspecies communication I experience the possibility to connect with the essence of beings whether present or passed on or somewhere else, it has long arms to reach out. I sit and allow the force of the grief and loss to arrive if it needs to, it does. It grips my body tightly and clasps my throat. How I wish this feeling would go away, I'm fed up with it, exhausted, and shouldn't it be gone by now? Just move on, just let it go. These thoughts might quiet the sensations for a while, but I find that this 'grip' awaits my attention and capacity for love. I have no idea how long it will last nor have I any sense of purpose other than 'being here'. I have spent most of my life disassociated from myself and the flowers and the bees, I want to come home. In past times I would numb the feelings with chocolate and TV, I thank god it wasn't alcohol. Now, I am present with the pain without expectation, just a welcoming and allowing and a trusting in it's visit. A restorative present moment practice. I call it restorative, because often this seems to allow some kind of spaciousness for the vastness and the beauty and wonder in the present moment to enter my experience. Present grief and present beauty. I experience grief as something to move through, when needed.

I am watching the most magnificent sunset (that's why I parked up for a wee walk), and the wind is blowing through the trees behind me, these are the four things that call me home and support me to trust living in the present, the grief, the sun the wind the trees. Is the grief once again visiting me to show me something? I will never know and will never have any answers about this for me or for you, only a willingness to be shown the tender beginnings of some kind of path on which it becomes possible to hold the fullness of all experience without judgment. The sky seems closer to me now and more magnificent, the sunlight and clouds more precious and the copse of trees behind me, ground me and fill my body with their 'holding' presence. I end my visit, walking away filled with tears and grace and a glimmer of hope that if I can hold grief for myself in this way, perhaps I may continue to grow capacity to create a container where others can hold theirs. A life's practice that no formal education or training could ever give me.

Francis Weller eases my soul when I read his work about grief, 'The Wild Edge Of Sorrow'. I had been holding old teachings about it being a 'process' and having 'stages' and a place to 'go from' and 'get to'. On reading his work the life drained out of that teaching to one of 'portals' and 'moving through' whenever necessary during a life time and a life span. A shift towards the bodily felt truth that unwitnessed, unheld grief suppresses all life including joy. Grief and Joy are intertwined. We are living in a flat line culture which denies grief and relies on stimulants (sugar, alcohol, drugs, work) to give us some sense of being alive. You can view his work and meet him here. Much gratitude to your dear heart Francis 🧡

I finish with this video with the cows waggy tails as they roam together freely grazing over the common which brought me so much joy and connection to life on the walk back to my car.

I want to think my own thoughts! To hear them through some kind of unconditional portal of welcome. I don't want to discount all that I have learned and all that I have been taught through life, but somewhere in a fissure, in the craggy rocks of my life that has been, somewhere among the protective blessing of the repetitive thoughts and how they long to keep me safe, I want to enter the flow of my life essence and find the thread to my cosmic obligation. To find the contract I made with myself that lives through my bones, through brand new and unique thoughts which stem from the world of the 'unknown'. And the 'knowing' that is familiar to me my whole life.

On meeting the shock of my father's pain in childhood I felt a pull, a call, telling me that things are not meant to be this way, that there is choice. I have spent my life wanting to make a difference. I follow that pull now every day and cultivate trust that it connects me to the greater truth of who I am and what I need to be 'up to' in this life.

I am of 'no fixed abode' these days due to the impact of the lockdown on my work. It's a fierce threshold to be standing at, my worldly belongings scattered around Gloucestershire in the loving arms of friends, and in the boot of my car, a threshold stimulating so much bodily held grief and loss. A shock to my nervous system and the placement of my be-longings. And yet there is something 'fresh' in my blood, a part of me that knows this pain and still calls me on with a gentle promise of nourishment through the process and edging ever nearer to being 'myself' fully in this life.

And so, to my own thoughts shared here with you; I was sitting in the life filled garden of a friend in Stroud yesterday. I watched a butterfly go about his/her morning work with vim, joy and freedom on the wing, resting on the grass now and then. During flight she landed in a large cobweb, a spider rushed out to capture her. The process of fight and death was before me. The thought 'it's just natural' (an old thought) doesn't touch the sides of what I experienced witnessing this. So this is what I mean about 'I want to have my own thoughts'. I allowed life to flow and play out for both of these beings, I did not intervene. Earlier I 'rescued' a fly from a cobweb, she flew freely away which was wonderful (for me to see, but in doing so I destroyed a cobweb which was the arduous work of a spider to meet his/her need for food). There was so much shock stimulated in my body as I witnessed the fight (I didn't look on for long as it was too painful for me, but I returned to the spot to see what was happening). By the end there was no trace of the butterfly who was about 3 times the size of the spider. I'm guessing the spider has a place to put what it harvests away for later.

I want to honour the life of that spider who must have spent so many hours and maybe days building its beautiful and intricate web in the hopes of feeding its family. I want to honour the life of the butterfly, her life interrupted, and becoming food for another. Whilst aware of what was happening I opened my heart to her and sent out love as she crossed the threshold from life to death to 'the next'. I wanted to know what was mine and what was hers in terms of the 'feeling' sense and I found I could hold both. I could hold the love and my own personal reactivity.

For me, it went deep. Because I wasn't telling myself to think about what I witnessed through any prepared lens other than witnessing and listening, my broken heart felt my mother's presence. All the times that she was beaten up by my father as I looked on. Wondering if I should intervene. And even as a little girl I did once, pulling my father's jacket. I can still see my hand and the colour of his jacket. Perhaps you can imagine the tears present in me right now. Perhaps you can understand why I am now longing to have my own thoughts about seeing a butterfly be captured and eaten.

drawing by Clare

Here they are: Thank you dear earth for showing me this, thank you for the grief it stimulated, thank you for being alongside me, thank you for holding me, thank you for the healing I experienced by allowing the symbiotic intertwined dance of these events that activated softness and healing in my nervous system and supported me to continue the journey home. When I finished journaling about this event, this journey, I felt such relief in me and so much life, somehow cleansed and made 'ready' for what is coming next towards me in life. This for me is the path of interspecies communication and inter-connectedness.

My hope, in sharing this with you, is that if there are places in you where you are holding sadness, loss and grief, that letting you know about this event might bring hope? That bit by little bit, through unconditional loving presence, our own and that of others, and the presence of all beings in nature, your life force will meet with you and show you the way forward, moment by precious moment.

I want to know what is alive in me, so that I can tend to it with love, so that I can grow understanding for how to care for my reactivity and my nervous system, so that I can play my part in ending the violence in my lineage and so that I can tend to a young and tender garden in me as a portal through which others can find spaciousness and be held also.

Here's a video I made of a busy bee who comforted me on my walk back into the house. Bee, you bless my existence with so much joy and life.

Sending love, Clare