One of the things I enjoy very much is going for a walk. It’s a peaceful way to quiet my mind and nurture my energy while taking in the subtle changes around me that each day brings.



One of the things I enjoy very much is going for a walk. It’s a peaceful way to quiet my mind and nurture my energy while taking in the subtle changes around me that each day brings. I frequently stroll along a large irrigation ditch snuggled against the edge of a mesa and overlooking the landscape below. Both sides of the ditch are lined with a fringe of weeds and dense plants; safe hiding places for the animals who live there.

By contrast, it’s easy to spot muskrats swimming through the open water. Their brown, scruffy bodies float on the surface while their swift little legs make running motions that propel them forward, leaving a wide wake behind. Usually they duck under the water with a splash when they see me, but sometimes I’m lucky enough to walk along the bank while one glides through the water. We enjoy a lovely companionable stroll in our different elements. Air and water. The muskrat communicates relaxed acceptance of my presence as we calmly move together. Connected.

Mostly my walks are a time for easy, fluid exercise and a slowing down of thoughts and concerns. I guess you could say they are like meditation in motion. How jarring then to suddenly have a skunk pop out of the green into the path in front of me! My fluid forward momentum recoiled into a wary stop about ten feet away from the skunk who was now arching it’s body up like a Halloween cat; the hair on its rigid tail standing on end. The not-so-subtle curve of his rear end in my direction made it clear I would be the target of something very unpleasant if I dared to move. 

I waited, holding my breath. The skunk, satisfied with my response, relaxed completely and continued across my path with it’s tail softly waving. I almost burst out laughing when another skunk bounded out of the weeds to follow the first one! I thought of the school crossing guards who stop traffic so the children can safely cross the street. The first skunk had clearly asked me to stop, using very obvious body language. Some forms of animal communication are just plain common sense and some forms of meditation are best with awareness of one’s surroundings!

Missy and Her Bone

Missy and Her Bone

Missy and Her Bone

Missy was a diminutive but mighty character whose personality betrayed her size. A sleek little Dachshund, she had a silky red coat, soft, dark eyes and strong but very short legs. You would imagine that in a household of larger dogs, she would find herself playing a submissive role in the social order. In fact, she had the most dominant personality of all the dogs. Though Spanky, Raisin and Alfie were built in increments of increasingly larger size, each steadfastly avoided any challenge to her self-proclaimed authority. Her favorite place from which to survey her domain was the arm of the plush couch.

She was mostly content to nap there from her elevated position, but one day she had been given a bone. Gnawing it vigorously and eventually to her satisfaction, she decided to bury it in the couch cushions. She had no problem with this plan, as her compact but robust shape allowed her to crumple the edge of the cushion towards her with her front paws, while at the same time scooting the bone into place with her nose.

Kneading the cushion back into it’s groove to hide the bone, she resumed her position of the arm of the couch. But she couldn’t relax. It was obvious where she had hidden the bone by her furtive, nervous glances towards the buried treasure. Her soft eyes took on an intense, glistening quality. Her floppy ears slapped against the sides of her face as she shot glances in all directions, alert for intruders. It wasn’t long before Eliot the cat sauntered into the room, slowly padding his way towards the couch. This elderly, toothless-but-dignified feline didn’t see or hear very well, but as he rounded the side of the couch, it was clear he had a destination in mind.

The tension in Missy’s body was unbearable. She was quivering with fury. Unable to contain herself, she exploded off the arm of the couch, growling ferociously at Eliot. He didn’t even notice as she skidded across the tile floor behind him, a look of shock and surprise washing over her face- her grandiosity completely deflated by a mere cat.

Back on the arm of the couch, humbly resting her head on her paws, she hoped no one else had noticed either.

Lexi and the Bothersome Itch

Lexi and the Bothersome Itch

Lexi and the Bothersome Itch

Lexi is a tall mare who lives in a quiet stable near Santa Fe, NM. Her person contacted me to see how Lexi was feeling and to receive support in making a decision about whether to move her to a new place to live. When I connected with Lexi I sensed that the energy around the stable was very calm and peaceful due to the presence of a horse with a white mane and tail. The horse had passed on, but her ephemeral and benevolent energy was still there, creating a beautiful wash of peace and harmony over the stable. Donna confirmed that indeed this horse had lived there and was buried on the property.

Lexi felt comfortable and safe in this environment where horses were understood and loved as spiritual beings. It created a depth of connection amongst the horses and the people who rode there. Lexi didn’t need a bigger space, she needed the comfort of these familiar surroundings. This validated Donna’s decision not to move her. As I continued the connection with her, she kept showing me something that was bothering her. I saw her repeatedly turning around and pointing towards her left hip as if trying to reach the spot with her nose. It seemed like an itch or an insect bite. Something with a prickly quality.

Donna had just been with Lexi and hadn’t noticed anything in particular but when she looked closely, there were small cactus spines embedded in the skin right in the spot Lexi had pointed to! Donna had to use tweezers to remove the tiny, irritating pieces. Lexi had clearly communicated with me through pictures and was able to get relief from her physical discomfort and I was able to confirm that her home was a perfect fit on many levels, validating Donna’s desire for Lexi’s happiness and well being.

A Tail of Two Kitties

A Tail of Two Kitties

Cat Communication

Alphie and Freddie are two beautiful female cats who couldn’t be more different. Their person contacted me to receive some help with a new situation in the town where they all live.  Animal control rules had been changed and now any wandering cats would be picked up and taken to the local shelter, where the distraught pet parent would have to pay a fine before being able to take them home. Alphie and Freddie had been indoor/outdoor cats most of their lives and the new dictates were disconcerting for Vaughn, who didn’t want to confine them to the house, but also didn’t want anything traumatic to happen if they strayed outside the fenced yard.

When I connected with each cat individually to describe Vaughn’s concerns, their reactions were so interesting. Freddie, with her striking black mask and blue eyes, immediately said she would fight against and scratch anyone who tried to pick her up. Her indignant attitude was readily apparent, as was her strong will. 

I showed her mental pictures of the house and yard and described it as a “play bubble”, while encircling the space with white light that delineated the boundary.  I explained that Vaughn wanted her to stay inside this play bubble and that she didn’t need to fight or defend herself there. I said that it would help Vaughn feel better if she agreed to stay inside the bubble. She understood and her defensiveness settled into a calm agreement. 

Alphie’s reaction when I explained the situation was completely opposite. This large, plush cat with her delicate pink nose was fearful and worried. She didn’t want to get into any trouble. I showed her the same pictures of the house and yard with the white light as the boundary. I described it to her as a “safety bubble” and told her she would be fine if she stayed inside this boundary. She wouldn’t get into any trouble and nothing bad would happen to her there. She was relieved. 

With the exception of a couple excursions into the adjacent yard by Freddie while Vaughn worked in the garden near the fence, the cats have complied with the request. They are able to retain the freedom to enjoy a roll in the grass, to sun themselves and hang out on the porch with Vaughn, while also preventing a stressful interaction with animal control. A happy solution for everyone! 

Here’s what Vaughn had to say about the sessions with her cats:

 “Shelly was spot on in her description of two very different cats she never met physically.  I am thrilled by the results. If you have any concerns with your animals, she can help. She has an uncanny way of opening to the animals and creating a space in which they can clearly communicate what’s going on and hear what’s needed. I can’t recommend her enough.” 

Willow’s Journey

Willow's Journey

First Moments with Willow

A stray dog showed up this summer on the property where I live. She startled me the first time I saw her little head peering at me above the weeds at the edge of my garden. My disbelieving stare was enough to frighten her and she yipped before running away, her svelte body a rocket across the yard. It took me a couple days to figure out that she was hiding near the end of the driveway under an old wooden cattle ramp that was the perfect shelter; a cool and dark place away from the relentless heat.

I had driven past this spot repeatedly and never saw her there. After realizing that she wasn’t a neighbor’s wandering dog, I began bringing food and water for her, leaving the metal bowls of kibble and fresh water several feet away from where she was curled up in the soft dirt. She was very thin and as I sat a good distance away to avoid scaring
her, I could see that she was a young dog and a little female.

Some kind of hound mix by the looks of her folded over ears, long tail and lanky body. I decided to call her Willow. Hoping to win her trust so that I could help her, I bought special treats from the pet store and offered
them to her on a flat rock outside her lair. She was highly attuned to my movements and body language and even my voice was disturbing to her. I had to be aware of my intentions, gestures and gaze to avoid scaring her.

I sat on the ground about 20’ away to gently watch and allow her to become comfortable with my presence. I began returning during random times of
day, placing treats on the rock and retreating to my usual sitting spot. I didn’t expect anything from her and offered simple, unobtrusive company and the chance to know me as a safe person. After a few days of leaving food for her, she felt comfortable coming towards me to take treats from the flat rock that I had now moved to a place halfway between us.

A few more days passed and I moved the rock to a spot just two feet away from where I was sitting. I placed a treat out and waited, looking away at the sky and breathing into my belly while feeling myself rooted, quiet and relaxed. I sat perfectly still with my elbows propped on my knees and my head turned away. She approached and took the treat, quickly turning to go back to her soft hole under the cattle ramp. I put another treat on the rock and a second one on the top of my shoe. She came towards me more quickly and ate the first one and then, to my delight, she ate the second one off the top of my shoe! I made no attempt to touch her or even to move, only looking towards her softly when she chose to lay down a few feet away.

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Happy Willow today

She began playfully nibbling at herself, chewing her hind foot gently and then taking the tip of her tail in her mouth and nibbling at that too. I had to chuckle as she looked at me with her head tilted to the side, a playful expression crossing her face for the first time. I connected with her that evening in meditation and did some distance healing with her. I was able to feel the strong fear of humans that she held in her body. As it released out her legs and tail it felt like liquid silver lead. It was dense and heavy. During the meditation I told her that I was waiting for her to come to me when she was ready and that I wouldn’t push her but that I really wanted her to connect with me and that it was safe.

The next morning I went out to feed Willow and my neighbor happened to be walking by with his dog. I rarely see this person and I crouched down to pet
his dog, Asher, while we chatted. Asher is only about a year old but is a large, calm dog who was curious about Willow but didn’t rush towards her or scare her out of her hiding place. He just casually sniffed around, came back for some more pets and then he and his person were off to finish their walk. Right after they left as I started to stand up, Willow came out from under the cattle ramp, walked directly up to me and licked my face, rolled over on her back and let me scratch her belly and rub her ears and face! I was surprised and delighted; elation and relief spreading through my being from this remarkable turnaround! Willow’s happy tongue dangled out of her mouth as she looked up at me eagerly, trotting alongside as we strode back to my house together.

I knew from the beginning that I couldn’t keep her and after about ten days, I took Willow to Second Chance Humane Society in Ridgway, Colorado, a wonderful resource for animals in my area. She was given so much love and attention by the volunteers and staff that after a week when I went to visit, I was told that Willow had become a social butterfly and a bit of a ham. This was such good news! I could see after getting to know Willow a bit more that to truly flourish she would need plenty of social interaction with people and dogs to further develop her confidence and trust in the world. She got just what she needed! She was quickly adopted by a woman with lots of extended family- both people and dogs. When I bumped into this lovely person at the grocery store, she told me Willow was at home, playing in the fenced yard with the other dogs and loving life. My heart glowed with gratitude for her transformation from a fearful pup into a fully blossomed, joyful being!

Thank you to the wonderful staff and volunteers at Second Chance Humane Society! If you would like to make a donation to this worthy organization, here is the link to their web site.


Chico’s Energy Work

Chico's Energy Work

Chico's Energy Work

Chico is one of the more unusual animals I have worked with. He’s actually a handsome little bird. He’s a Fancy Cheek Conure, to be exact, which is a type of small parrot.

I connected with him to help with his feather plucking, but it was clear from the beginning that he had other ideas.  He was more interested in showing me around the house during the reading and sharing some of his favorite things about where he lived; his toys, a favorite place to perch. And he wanted to meet me in person!

Since he and Sharon live in the same town as me, I wrote and explained that I had never had an invitation like this before and wondered if it would be okay to visit the two of them.

When I arrived, it was as though he recognized me, but couldn’t figure out where we had met. He was curious, peeking at me from Sharon’s shoulder, leaning forward slightly and eyeing me. He very much wanted to try sitting on my shoulder, but was a little shy. Sharon coaxed him with a tidbit of waffle, his favorite food.

He had shown me in the reading something that was a reddish color and it looked like he was holding it in his beak as though it was something to eat. It wasn’t food, though, and I couldn’t figure it out. It was clearly something he loved because he wanted me to see it.

Sharon laughed in her email and wrote me that it was the red waffle iron he was showing me! His favorite treat came out of that red thing on the counter and he was trying to tell me about it!  The crumbs of waffle that Sharon had me hold on my shoulder were enough encouragement for Chico to step over onto me for a visit. His little feet tickled as he stood and ate the waffle bits. When he finished, he went back to perching on Sharon, descending the front of her shirt and checking me out some more. What a delightful little character!

 The next time I connected with Chico, the reading was equally unusual. This time he made it clear that he was concerned about Sharon. He said she had some stuckness around her solar plexus and there was a need for her to have some energy work to help. And he wanted to assist.

Since I’m a Craniosacral Therapist, the readings I offer for people’s animals usually include some distance healing as well. It’s particularly helpful in releasing trauma and Sharon had experienced a mishap while riding a horse and that had impacted her abdomen.

When I arrived with my table for the appointment, Sharon brought Chico’s cage into the room with us for the session. She placed it on a cabinet near where we would be working together, but didn’t open the cage door. I clarified that Chico wanted to help with the session by being free to connect with us in any way he chose.

I observed him as I worked quietly with Sharon. He came out of the open cage and slid down the blanket draped over the side like someone rappelling down a cliff. Then he hopped onto the edge of my water glass and leaned in for a sip before turning and pooping in it, which made both Sharon and I laugh. He was owning the space!

As I worked with Sharon over about an hour, Chico eventually made his way to her shoulder where he watched me carefully; looking at me first with one eye then the other; supervising my work. When I began connecting with Sharon’s solar plexus things got very interesting. Chico suddenly bent forward, fluffed up his feathers and shook himself. A fraction of a second later, I felt a strong discharge of energy from Sharon’s body go down my back and out my legs! This happened repeatedly, with Chico sensing what was coming right before I felt the energy release.

After this had happened several times, Chico told us the session was done by flying right back into his cage! I was astonished. Clearly this little being knew exactly what he was doing to help and support Sharon-and I was merely the interpreter. 

(As a side note: Sharon has given me permission to share this story with others who would enjoy hearing it and benefit from knowing about animal communication.) 

May Remembers

May Remembers


I was taking care of my neighbor’s animals for a few days while they were away camping and decided to walk through the pasture to connect with the horses.

The little dog, Firework tagged along. He was a young dog and sometimes wandered while following the distraction of enticing scents amongst the tall grass along the irrigation ditch. I brought a leash, intending to prevent a frustrating search in the event of his disappearance. To my relief, he stayed close enough to assuage my worry and I walked towards the grazing horses with him tagging along.

I greeted each of the two horses in turn, giving them a pat and letting them sniff my hand. However, the third horse, May, didn’t allow me to approach her. She was notoriously hard to catch and usually wouldn’t let someone walk right up to her. Since I was still carrying the leash, she was especially wary of me. She must have assumed I was there to catch her, potentially taking her away from her enjoyable occupation with the lush grass.

As she walked away from my first approach, I veered off in a different direction so I wouldn’t make her feel I was pursuing her. Pausing for a few moments, I saw that she had resumed grazing in a relaxed manner. I tried again, walking towards her a second time. She waited until I was almost close enough to touch her and she moved off, just out of reach.

I decided to take a different approach since all I really wanted to do was connect with her and give her a pat. I wanted her to understand my intention and not feel she had to be wary of me coming close to her for any reason. I stopped and took a deep breath, feeling my body come to a quiet stillness.

I closed my eyes and made a clear picture in my mind of me walking up to her shoulder and scratching the underside of her neck and her chest. After a few moments of visualization, I opened my eyes and looked at her.

She had her head down and was nipping off the grass. I started walking towards her and she kept grazing, allowing me to walk right up to her shoulder as I had imagined.

I scratched her neck and talked to her in a soothing voice, still holding the leash in my hand. She stayed with me while I petted and scratched her all over, not making the slightest attempt to walk away from me. My mental pictures had been stronger than the physical evidence of the leash I held in my hand. After a few minutes of soft connection with her, Firework and I walked back to the house together, the leash now stuffed away in my pocket.

Several years had passed, and after moving away and not interacting with May at all, I went out to the pasture recently to take some photos of her for this blog. There she was, grazing with two new horses. I stood outside the fence and said hello to her out loud, even though she was too far away to hear me.

Noticing my presence, she pricked her ears forward with curiosity and began walking directly towards me. I climbed through the fence and snapped some photos as she approached.

After sniffing my hands, she turned and positioned her body at an angle; a gesture that clearly invited me to put my hands on her shoulder. I then recalled that she had recently cut one of her legs on the fence, but it had mostly healed and she wasn’t limping. I didn’t know which one it was and casually asked out loud if she would show me. To my surprise, she lifted the leg nearest to me and I saw the grayish scab near her hoof!

A tingling discharge of energy suddenly ran down the back of my body as some residual trauma energy from the injury released. That must have been all she wanted because she turned and walked away, standing nearby in the sun; remembering my hands from another gentle encounter. 

Bird Company

Bird Company


I am appreciating the companionship of birds today. They land on the silent branches of the sleeping apricot tree outside my window. They have come to eat the seeds I’ve filled the feeder with; the apparent generosity really a formal invitation for their feathered company. They are House Finches after all.

 The females appear similar in their humble brownness, subtle markings indistinguishable as they flutter about. The males with their flourish of orange are easier to identify in their flashy uniqueness. One has a band of orange above his beak which extends around the sides of his head like a bold racing stripe.

 Another has two thick puffs of orange feathers on his forehead like misplaced eyebrows, since his little round eyes are actually on the sides of his head. A third has a cap of orange covering his head with what appears like a bald spot in his feathered orange hair, brown feathers showing through on the top of his head. Or perhaps his little knit cap is simply in need of mending.

 A Meadowlark suddenly proclaims the brightening day from some unknown perch, the song of it calling out to beckon spring. 

A shiny Red-Winged Blackbird alights at the table of birdseed, joining the other guests. They enjoy the morning feast and then depart to the welcoming depths of the Spruce tree to chatter together and wipe their beaks. Whenever I feel glum in these last clinging days of winter, the cheerful happiness of these song full creatures lifts my spirits and centers me in unquestionable knowing. Spring is near.

Breakfast with Chipmunk


Sipping tea in my car while bundled against the morning cold, I had the perfect vantage point for viewing the chipmunk who came to explore my campsite. After sniffing under the picnic table and finding nothing of interest, she sprang up onto the top where she found the empty container of cashew yogurt I had hastily eaten before retreating to my car. She tipped over the container and stuck her head in, popping it right back out to stare at me, but now with pink splatters of strawberry yogurt dotting her little brown face.

I burst out laughing as she continued to poke her head in and out of the container, aware that I was watching her and always taking a look at me before ducking her head back in.

She had turned the container so the clear bottom was facing my direction. I could see her tiny red tongue deftly flicking the remaining yogurt off the bottom, circling around in increments as if carefully washing a dirty window. When she popped her head out to look at me, she would lick her lips with satisfaction. Finishing the first course in her unusual breakfast, she scampered to the end of the picnic table where she found the bright green and black caterpillar I had put there the night before. It had seemed out of place on the bare ground, it’s colors contrasting with the dark soil instead of camouflaging it’s presence. I had picked it up to avoid stepping on it. Clutching it in her delicate paws, the chipmunk began eating it. I could see it’s goopy moistness stretching from her mouth like melted cheese as she nibbled it.

After enjoying the plumb caterpillar feast, she scampered to a patch of dandelion greens and yanked several large leaves out, folding them over neatly and then methodically stuffing them in her mouth while chewing rapidly. Undoubtedly a bitter aperitif to help digest her rich and unusual meal! By this time I had finished my tea and my heart was warm with the laughter brought by my bold and hungry visitor. And she didn’t seem to mind being my delightful and surprising guest.

My Friend Fillmore


It’s such a delight to encounter my favorite walking companion, Fillmore. He lives about a mile away and I never know if he’ll be in the yard or out on the porch when I walk by. I can’t help but laugh when I see him! He comes running to greet me, his eager brown eyes peering out from under his charming mop of hair and his whole body bouncing with enthusiasm- including his tongue. He leans into me affectionately as I pet him and ruffle up his tangled coat, which hangs in yarn like tendrils from his sides.

He is always in various stages of cleanliness. He had accompanied me home a few times before I met his kind person, who told me that Fillmore routinely visits other neighbors and I needn’t give him a ride home anymore; he knows his way around! So, I simply get to enjoy his endearing messiness and his enthusiastic companionship on my walk home along the ditch.

The tips of the Cottonwood trees lining the ditch path now have gleaming golden leaves and the weeds lining the path have reached their full capacity, creating a tangle along the edges. Fillmore likes to trot alongside me with his nose to the dusty path, sniffing everything and then falling behind my steady strides. I hear his pattering feet thundering to catch up and he passes me, a mess of flying hair and scattering dirt. He always stops not far away, turning to look at me quizzically. He wants to make sure I’m coming, his eyes catching mine under the fringe of bangs. I smile. “Yes I’m coming.” He likes my company too.

I love how the ends of his twirled hair swing back and forth like a dusty skirt as he trots along. He must be impossible to keep clean. Soon he needs a drink and simply pushes himself down through the weeds, alighting in the ditch and doing a little swimming while lapping up the water. Of course, when he gets out he stands right next to me to shake off his sopping wet coat of muddy hair! No matter, he is gleaming with infectious happiness. We wind along together in content silence towards my house, the sun warming us both. It seems like such a simple thing to walk together, but my friend Fillmore gives me a gift every time he accompanies me. It’s the gift of having my heart opened to irresistible joy.