Passion Revisited

Andrea Chilcote, Second Home Pet Resort, Husky Rescue

by Andrea Chilcote

UPDATE: Andrea is happy to announce that Emmalee did find her forever home over the weekend. We hope her story of passion revisited inspires you.

Two weeks ago, with the help of many animal welfare angels, I rescued a young female husky from the county shelter. She was picked up as a stray after a passer-by tried to strangle her with his belt. Undaunted that she was malnourished, had tick fever, ear infections and a mass nearly blocking her left ear canal, I made a commitment to her care and named her Emmalee.

The kind owners and staff at Second Home Pet Resort allowed me to board her there at a much reduced fee, as my home is full with my three dogs. Shortly after arriving, Emmalee had surgery to remove the mass. She did very well, and the mass was benign, likely a result of untreated ear infections. She is being treated for tick fever, is symptom free, and will recover fully. And, she is enthusiastically eating healthy food and gaining weight. She is returning to her husky self – active, curious and fun-loving. Now, we wait for her perfect forever home to surface. And act of faith in action.

Déjà vu. I am reminded of my feelings the last time I embarked on a journey like this one, and the words from my 2013 post seem fitting.

It’s been said that we cannot think or act in love or in harm toward another without affecting, in some small way, all others including ourselves. This truth becomes more evident to me each and every day. We are all connected. What we think, say and do to members of our planet – people and animals, as well as our earth itself – has profound and far-reaching impact.

Despite a full work schedule and many demands on my time, I am consumed by passion – compassion actually – for this sweet pup. And I know that many of you are equally consumed by passions of your own. Most all of us have some cause or mission that evokes a strong desire to contribute, make something better, or right a perceived wrong. We cannot help but be affected by circumstances that surround because we are in relationship to one another. We are connected.

I love words, and writing gives me an opportunity to study them. The word “passion,” describes the drive to action I have felt, and the deeper feeling underneath is “compassion.”  I was surprised to learn that the Latin root of the word passion is “suffering.” Compassion’s root is “to suffer with.” Ah, the addition of the word “with”… connection.

My drive to help this one dog could easily be snuffed out if I allowed myself to become overwhelmed by the great need beyond her’s. I’m reminded of the well-known starfish story in which a young girl’s refusal to be discouraged by the limitations of her own small efforts inspired others to join in and help. This is how connection works. We inspire one another.

What is your passion at this very moment? You need only to step out your own world for a mere minute and you’ll be able to feel it. Make a choice to meet suffering with love, whether through a simple kind thought or an action. You’ll inspire the same in others even if it’s invisible to you. It’s how it works.

Emmalee is a very special soul who will make a mark in some human’s life. Do you need the sweetness of a grateful friend and the antics of a husky personality? Our girl needs needs a forever home with a husky-savvy family. Can you help by sharing this message?

Is Your Creativity Constrained?

Andrea Chilcoteby Andrea Chilcote

Have you ever uttered the phrase “I’m not creative?”  I know many women who have, and I may have found a possible solution.

On the eve of The Spirited Woman’s 2014 Sharefest theme, “I Am Creative Bliss,” I ran across an article extolling the many virtues of caffeine, as well as one big downside – it seems there’s scientific evidence that it cramps creativity. Caffeine apparently stifles the thing on which creativity depends: a wandering, unfocused mind.

While I don’t generally overdo caffeine, this “four cities in four days” week is putting me to the test. My usual two cups of coffee in the morning have expanded to an afternoon pick-me-up, and then some.

This is a week for focus and clarity, so it’s reassuring to know that caffeine is a support, not a hindrance. But here’s the interesting thing. This week, and in similar busy times, I long for a creative respite. While I’m doing the work I love, today I was looking forward to finishing my “real” work to write this post, even though I had no idea what I would write about. And now I believe that was the very thing I longed for – the opportunity to let my mind meander among the possibilities.

In his article, How to be Creative, Jonas Lehrer says creativity is not magic bestowed on us by angels, but rather a skill all can learn. He outlines many methods, including play, “with the abandon of a child.”

Those of you who know how much I enjoy hiking with my dogs, present to the sights and sounds of the outdoors, can appreciate that these walks provide me the opportunity to think and feel in an unstructured and playful way.

For me, a glass of wine helps too, though not while hiking of course. Lehrer also suggests that caffeine has a counter effect on creativity, preferring a beer to a Red Bull. His advice reminded me of an adage a writer friend shared some years ago, “Write drunk but edit sober.”

Humor aside, the insight I received from these articles is not about avoiding caffeine or consuming alcohol, but rather about the requirement for creativity – unstructured time.

I know you’re busy. You have significant responsibilities and people depend upon you. But can you give your mind a respite, even for a bit? There can be a beautiful payoff.

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The following post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a blogger. Enjoy it!

Be in Joy (2014)

Andrea Chilcote

by Andrea Chilcote

Please join Andrea, as she reflects back to her 2012 holiday season experience sharing her timeless suggestion to simply step into the moment at hand and enjoy it! 

This is a season to celebrate love and compassion for all. It’s the time we pause to notice the simple joys of connecting with one another. Isn’t it?

Everywhere I go, people say “It’s such a busy time.” But why are we busy to the point of being stressed out?  I think it’s because our lives have no room for error – (consider the impact of a head cold or a flat tire) – and then the “holidays” come along, with gatherings to attend, gifts to prepare and greetings to write, and we’re over the top.

I don’t have any answers about how to make day-to-day life more manageable. (At least not today). But one thing I do know is this. It’s up to you to either enjoy this time or suffer through it. My suggestion? Enjoy. Be in joy.

Today was one of those busy days for me. When at last I was free to relax on the hiking trail with my friend and two dogs, I felt just a bit of guilt, knowing how many things I had to do. But if there’s one place I can quickly focus on the moment at hand and enjoy it, it’s my desert trails.

We had been walking for some time, letting the dogs choose the path. Suddenly my friend, who was ahead of me, said, “I’ll give you that hug now.” Earlier, I had sent her today’s “Note From The Universe,” which had advised me that one of the secrets to peace and joy is to give more hugs. I’ve never been one to hug a lot, so I don’t know what possessed me. The season perhaps?

Before I could reach my friend, my dog Kairos jumped up, embracing her in a hug around her waist. Kairos is a hugger, though I did not know his vocabulary was this advanced. I am proud of his obedience accomplishments, but had no idea he would respond to a hug request this quickly. It was an unexpected joy. The whole thing made me pause and try to experience the moment with all my senses. The desert sunset, the chill in the air and the spirit of the season. Enjoyment.

So, here’s my lesson, and one I’ll offer you. In these next days, when you make a choice to spend your time visiting, shopping, decorating or something else, do it with passion and presence. Step into the experience at hand and enjoy it. Be in joy.


This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a blogger.

Safety Latch

Safety Latch-01

Have you ever had an experience that left you feeling unsafe in an environment that you count on for security? I did, early this week.

Early on a hot and unusually humid Monday morning, Arthur and I took the dogs for a walk. Neither of us really wanted to be out in the August desert after having spent the last 10 days in idyllic coastal California climate. Yet we made an obligatory trek down our road, uneventful until we were three driveways from returning home.

Arthur was ahead of me with Whisper, our large Malamute. I was connected to both Huskies by trekking lines, bringing up the rear, when I noticed the yips and screams of a coyote pack. It’s a common sound, and spotting a relatively close coyote or two is not unexpected. But something felt – and sounded – different on this morning.

Looking ahead, I saw one, two…then six coyotes cross the road, very close. Arthur slowed in front of me, and the dogs began to get agitated, pulling in their harnesses. The coyotes began to race back and forth, yet the noise was coming from my left. Looking to my side, I saw several more running among the scrub bushes. There were perhaps 20 total.

Arthur held Whisper’s leash tightly, and straddled her for extra strength. It was all I could do to stabilize my body enough to hold onto Kairos and Heather, but somehow I managed to do that and fish my pepper spray out of my pack. I removed the orange safety latch from the container, and quickly realized I was unsure how to operate it. I put it into my pocket, and took out my phone.

By now, the coyote packs had joined and were closer, several of them fighting in the driveway to our left. Our dogs were beside themselves, tethered to us, their guardians. I felt as if we had parachuted into a wild animal park.

Hands free due to my wonderful trekking belt, I dialed a neighbor. He answered. In a panicked voice I explained the situation, and almost instantly he was walking down the road, carrying what looked like a large oar. The minute he appeared, another neighbor pulled out of his driveway on his way to work, scattering the coyotes. Arthur and I took a breath, and the dogs calmed.

Adrenaline flowing, muscles strained, and exhausted, we walked home quietly. I went straight to work. But I could not shake the unease. Once I had time to really assess what I was feeling, it became clear. My beloved home felt unsafe. While I know well the hazards of desert hiking, could we not walk our dogs down our road without threat?

As the following day unfolded, the lesson revealed itself to me. The meeting was coincidental, nothing more. The coyotes’ hunt location had nothing to do with our walk. The situation presented itself as a lesson to me. When my “safety” latch was removed, I didn’t know how to operate. I let my fear take over, and I know our dogs felt it.

Feeling is what launches energy into creation. We don’t have the luxury of succumbing to a feeling of fear. I know I have the ability to maintain presence and a sense of protection. It is indeed the only thing that will keep me safe. Neither locks on my doors nor pepper spray in my pockets work without the resonance itself. (Oh, and of course I need to learn how to operate the thing!)

What fears can you transform by shifting your feelings and thoughts? What safety latches are preventing you from examining the source of the fears that are overshadowing enjoyment of the things you love?


This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. Enjoy it!

 

Plans as Sand

Plans as Sandby Andrea Chilcote

In the summer months, we rise before 5 am to take the dogs on once-daily hikes before the unforgiving sun comes up, leaving them no choice but to retire indoors to our stone floors and air conditioning. It’s a treat for humans and canines alike, and usually it’s an urgent matter.

On some mornings, the weather is better than on others. If there have been no monsoon rains to add humidity, and if there is even a slight breeze, the pre-dawn is almost pleasant. If the air is laden with moisture from an overnight downpour, the heat is already oppressive at 5. On one such morning, Whisper, our ten-year-old Malamute, decided she wasn’t going.

WhisperMy hiking buddy Beth and I were shocked the first time Whisper stood glued to my husband Arthur’s leg, refusing to go with us and the other dogs. I was concerned that she was ill, but when I got out onto the trail I began to think she had the right idea. She chose to take it easy on a day the environment prescribed ease. The next day, a much more pleasant one, she enthusiastically joined us.

Each day since, Whisper has decided if she wanted a longer, more strenuous walk with us or if she would rather go to the barn for the morning feed, followed by a short and gentle walk with Arthur. She’s very clear, and she decides in the moment after checking the weather from an outdoor deck. One day last week I asked her, “Do you want to go to Spur Cross? (a nearby county park),” and was met with an excited “Woo woo woo.” The very next day her body language told me she was staying close to home, and she did.

Once again, Whisper has sage lessons for us.

I’ve always loved the saying, “Set your goals in stone and your plans in sand.” This summer, Whisper has been a role model for making routine and relatively inconsequential decisions in the moment, based on the circumstances that present themselves. If that sounds like obvious advice, consider this story. The other day, while walking up my driveway with Beth, I was puzzled as to why she had parked her car in a tucked-away space. As it turned out, she planned to do so the day prior, thinking that another friend was joining us. She didn’t want to block her in. While certainly a positive gesture, the problem was that her plan was no longer valid. The other friend’s “plans” had changed. Beth knew this, but still wedged her car in the inconvenient spot. As soon as the words left her mouth, she was reminded of Whisper’s lesson.

Do you ever waste the precious present moment planning things that are best determined in another, future, moment? Do you ever follow through on plans that are no longer justified?

Personally, Whisper’s behavior has reminded me of my goal for self-care. If my plan does not support my goal, perhaps I should change it. A long time ago, Beth offered me this advice: “If you do the right thing for you, it will probably be the right thing for others.” It’s tough for me in practice, but my dog makes it look easy.

Are you doing things out of an unfounded sense of obligation? What if you chose to hang out at the barn instead hiking up a mountain?

The last lesson involves giving another the freedom to change his or her mind. It was tempting to coax and cajole Whisper. After all, what dog would not want to hike? We refrained, honoring her wishes. I’m not sure we could have dragged her out of the house anyway, but we could have gotten ourselves all worked up trying. Isn’t that how it usually goes?

Do you honor the wishes of those you care about, or do you try to persuade them to follow the plan that seems right to you?

This next day, consider your and others’ plans as blowing sand. Where might they take shape?


This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. Enjoy it!

Letting Go

Letting GoToday I am reblogging my 2012 post about Letting Go. Do you need to free the spirit of another to travel his or her own path?

by Andrea Chilcote

This past weekend was very special for my family. Our foster Husky dog, Lucky, went to his forever home.

Three weeks ago, late on Saturday night, I got an urgent email from a worker at the county shelter. They had brought in a half-dead Siberian Husky who had been attacked by dogs. He faced a certain death if not claimed, immediately, by a  rescue group. Fortunately, I was able to reach two such angels from Thefetchfoundation.com and they arranged for me to retrieve him to the safety of my home. It turns out his wounds were serious but treatable, and he was a pup, less than a year old.

Happily, through anything-but-coincidental events, the perfect family came along to adopt Lucky. In three short weeks I had bonded with him as he healed, and shed tears as I prepared him for his journey.

That day I was reminded of the fleeting relationships we have with some people (as well as animals) in our lives. Of course, most of us are all blessed with life-long friendships and family bonds. And we also meet and connect with people who come and go. These brief connections offer us gifts in the form of life lessons or a simple helping hand when needed, and they take gifts from us. Have you ever wondered about the purpose of a transitory relationship? They’re easier to release when it seems we gave more than we were given, or when there was more hurt than happiness. But there are others that we try to hang on to, in order to recreate the magic after the magic has faded.

Consider this. There are people who enter our lives in pure synchronicity, for a clear and finite purpose, then exit. The purpose of the relationship may be ours or theirs, and we often don’t ever fully understand the “why” of it all. The important thing is the memory, the life lesson, or the gift exchanged.

In the animal rescue world, there are people called “foster failures.” These kind folks take in animals to foster, but cannot give them up – eventually rendering themselves unable to foster because their kennel is full, so to speak. For many homeless and helpless animals, it’s a blessing there is so much needed compassion. In human relationships, it’s a bit different. Some people need to be allowed to “fly away” and find the right connections for the next leg of their journey. (www.wakeupcloud.com/outgrowing-your-friends/)

I know in my heart that sweet Lucky belongs with his new family, even as I miss his sparkling blues eyes and loving demeanor. And, I know what we both meant to each other’s lives, however brief the interlude. Do you need to free the spirit of another to travel his or her own path?

Home

Andrea Chilcote, Kairos Chilcote, Cave CreekArizona is just beginning to grow hot right now, but it is where I belong. It is where I find peace and refuge. Join me as I reflect back to the beauty of the dwelling I call home (June 2013).

 by Andrea Chilcote

I am on my way home. Heading across the country at 34,000 feet, destined for one of the warmest areas on our continent. Arizona is hot right now, but it is where I belong. It is where I find peace and refuge. There’s nowhere I would rather be tonight, even with tomorrow’s forecast high of 118 degrees. This night, I focus on my relationship with my home.

Often I wonder what makes one connect with a certain environment, culture or terrain. For some, it’s the place where they were born and raised, the mother anchor that, regardless of the journey traveled, feels like the only safe womb on the planet. But there are others who, like me, chose an adopted home.

I grew up in the Midwest, in a small town near (but not a part of) prairie farmlands. As a child I held a strong vision of moving west, even though I never traveled more than 30 miles from home until my late teens. My longing to be in the West was certainly influenced by the dreams of my Dad, who also had not traveled far except while he was a youth in the military. He suffered greatly from arthritis and longed to live where it was warm. The sad irony is that I was able to finally visit Arizona in his last year of life, and I moved there shortly after he passed away. In the many  years since then, I’ve traveled enough to know where I’m most at peace. My desert, my home.

Of course, one’s choice of home has much to do with the people who inhabit it. My beloved husband and dogs are waiting for me tonight, and my friends are surely ready to re-engage in our happy routines. Yet there is more to this. The place itself carries a resonance that is palpable and real.

Where or what is your home? Whether or not you are there right now, feel it’s cocoon, its blanket, or its invitation. Consider your own relationship with the beauty of the dwelling place that calls you, as Arizona’s splendor calls me.

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This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. Enjoy it!