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#100 The Art Of Listening




Hello, my fantastic listeners and kindred spirits.

You have no idea how grateful I am to be invited into your life again. 

Whether this is your first or hundredth time tuning in to Let's Have a Chat, I'm so happy you are here because so the animals that inspire this podcast are seen and heard.

It’s # 100! Yes. #100. Amazing. 

So, let’s dive into this episode’s topic: the finer art of listening.

Being genuinely heard means that the one listening is mindful of receiving it.

What does that mean? 

Let's take Tabby, an 18-year-old cat who had started peeing on her owner's bed and was increasingly turning up the volume, meowing at her people. The owner had taken the cat to the vet, but the kitty had a clean bill of health. 

When I asked the cat to step on the imaginary stage and pick up the microphone to chat with me, she had a few things to say about the family dog. The dog was in the way of her doing her work. She had energy fields to attend to, and the dog was constantly milling around, denying her direct access to the people who needed her. 

She showed me a visual: lately, when her people came through the front door, she saw their energy was in need of support. They seemed drained, and the energy fabric surrounding their bodies had holes. She knew how to mend the fabric, but to do so, the dog needed to get out of the way.   

This cat was clear and had a gift her people needed to receive. She needed them to hear her so she could do what she was meant to do on this earth: offer healing. To be heard, she meowed. When that didn't change her access to her people, she peed on the bed to get their attention. 

There is always a reason behind an unexpected or undesired behavior.

Always. 

Turns out the solution was simple. Her people needed to become accessible. When the kitty came to the door, they needed to greet her, keeping the dog off to the side. 

If the cat approached them while sitting in the living room, they had to ensure the dog didn't get in the way. The cat wanted to be seen and heard when she approached so she could do her purposeful work.

It's incredible when you think about it. Because the cat couldn't do her work on the people, she exhibited undesired behaviors: meowing loudly and peeing on the bed. Then I learned that one of her people recently had surgery and was now recovering at home. No wonder the cat had shown me she had to nurse and heal.  

This cat's undesired behavior was her cry for help to be allowed to help. 

See what I mean? 

It was not about her.

It was about her wanting to be in service. 

Listening is critical. It can change a life—in this case, two lives—of the cat and the person who needs healing.

The Art of Listening is such a rich subject.

Every day, I challenge myself to listen more deeply to my clients and also to my own animals. The secret to deep listening is being present. 

When I am present and meet my animals in the now, I become more aware of my senses. I can gather information by seeing, hearing, feeling, and intuiting what my animal is communicating. 

Like us, animals constantly communicate with body, mind, and spirit. 

They share their contentment or unease, their opinions, and their insights.  

Recently, I bought some herbs and other free-choice supplements for my horses. Among them was a bag of kelp, a form of seaweed. I took a small handful out and offered it to each of my three horses, explaining that this was something new to try and see if they liked it or needed it. Shana, my mare, dove right in. Cutter and Monarch both nibbled around the edges of the shredded seaweed, licked their lips, and then made faces. They were not enthusiastic. I walked back to Shana and offered her another small handful. She licked it off my hand, and watching her chew, and eyes soften, I felt contentment washing over her. So I said, "I'll put some of it in your feed bucket for later." And as I turned away from the fence, I heard Shana say, "A little goes a long way." 

I turned back to her and saw she looked rather satisfied. She had enough for the day. 

How did I catch that little phrase she shared, her feedback?

I realized it was because I had been so present.

I had communicated with my horses through body, mind, and intuition. 

I had started using my mind to explain in words why I was offering kelp.

I used my senses to observe and feel how their bodies felt in my body as they tried the kelp. And, I caught Shana's feedback, "A little goes a long way," because I was present and embodied. 

Turning away from Shana, my mind started to drift toward finding the food bucket and putting some kelp into it, but before my mind drifted too far, Shana caught me to give me her feedback.

Moments later, I would be less present with her and more present with something else and potentially miss the message. 

Now here is a sidebar:

If I had missed Shana's feedback, then later that day, with more kelp in her grain bucket, Shana would probably have pushed the food bowl around, eaten around the kelp, or shown me in some other way that she didn't need it. 

Let's take this one step further. Let's say I put the feed bowls out and didn't watch Shana eat her food; Cutter would have come over, dumped the bowl over, and eaten the parts that had no kelp. Later, I would go into the pasture, thinking Shana had eaten it and that giving her more kelp was a good thing, while in reality, I was wasting it. 

See how important it is to be present?  

Now, animals can also make themselves known more unexpectedly.

You might remember the horse Topaz who tapped on my shoulder during a massage treatment, telling me I had to make sure that at our next barn call, he wanted to teach his person a few hands-on techniques I was to translate for him. The podcast and YouTube video links

More recently, Topaz reached out to me again. I was doing something mundane, like the dishes, when I felt a tap on my left shoulder and Topaz's presence coming into my mind. 

"What about the rib?" he asked me.

Topaz and his person had been on the phone a week prior with me. Topaz was worried about going into the wash stall. And when I tuned in to him he told me, "Slippery, slippery!"

Due to an old injury, he was concerned about slipping. During that call, Topaz also pointed out that a rib on his left side was out of alignment. His person, a veterinarian and chiropractor, said she would check it and fix it. 

So, I was surprised to hear from Topaz asking about his rib while I was doing the dishes a week later. I knew his person would have checked it right away, but Topaz insisted, "What about the rib?"

So I texted his person: 

Topaz is nudging me. I wonder if you checked out his left rib cage and if you noticed anything.

She answered:  

Yes, I did and it was ok. I can check him again tomorrow.

I answered: 

He keeps pointing to his left side and I wonder if there is anything stuck. Just keep an eye on it.

The next day, I received a text. 

Guess who had a rib out, left-hand side

Being genuinely heard means that the one listening is mindful of receiving it.

My animal clients don't just reach out to me like that. 

I have good boundaries around that. I am present with the animal during our phone session. After that, I am present with something or someone else. 

I am not an open channel. Can you imagine? I would lose my mind if I heard animals coming in left and right. Animals wouldn't do that out of respect. 

But Topaz knew his person could help, so he was persistent. In that case, I will listen—closely—because listening builds trust.

Ahhh, trust is another good segue into one more story, one more example of the art of listening.  

The other day, I headed to the ceramic studio, where I created my carved animal coasters and mugs. Driving beside the West River, I thought about deep listening and what examples to share in this podcast. Topaz had already made clear he needed to be mentioned, but I wished for another example to share more about the finer art of listening.

When I got to the studio, my friend Natalie, the owner, was in the garden. As usual, we caught up on each other's lives, and I told her I was developing an App. 

"For what?" she asked.

"Oh, there is so much I want to share with people, and by creating an App, I finally have a place where I can organize it all and make it accessible."

Watching Natalie's face, I sensed it would help if I gave her an example.

I said, "Well, let's just say you have a cat."

Sidebar: Let me take you into my mind for a moment. I had planned to say let's say you have a dog. Natalie didn't have one, and somehow, instead of a dog, the word cat came into my mind and out of my mouth. At the same time, I also faintly remembered that a stray cat had found a home with Natalie a few years back.

So, after saying, "Well, let's just say you have a cat," I continued, "Now let's say your cat needs a flower essence. Let's say it's the essence of Outburst from Green Hope Farm. Right now, I would pull the links together after the call and send you an email when I have a minute. Once I have the App, it will be so much easier. If you're on the phone with me, I'll direct you to the App, click on resources, see Green Hope Farm, and find the essence Outburst for your kitty."

Natalie looked intrigued.

For some reason, though I had made my point, I continued. 

"Let's say your cat is in dispute with another cat; you'd put a dropper full of the essence in a water bowl and offer it to the cats … so Bossy Pants can drink it." 

At this point, I was confused because I was not sure who Bossy Pants was.   

But Natalie did. 

She said, "Geez, Nicole, you are speaking about what is happening at our house literally right now. You're talking to my cat Shredder, and Bossy Pants is the new cat that showed up a few months ago. Ironically, we called him Love Dove because he is so sweet with people. But the two cats are not getting along, and Shredder is losing weight and seems to have lost his edge. He gets beaten up."

Unexpectedly, as I listened to Natalie, I realized that her cat, Shredder, was the one who had snuck into the conversation. This twist in the story added a layer of intrigue and made the example more relatable.

While my idea was to provide a random example of using the App, Shredder jumped in and shaped the example to what he needed. He gave me words that made Natalie aware I was talking with her cats. 

Whaaat? That was a first for me.    

Important to notice: I didn't let my mind get stuck on a dog example but switched fluidly to the cat example, and from there, the story unfolded. 

As you can imagine, Natalie ordered the essence. In a couple of weeks, we will have a follow-up communication session with the cats to see if they need anything else to live together more harmoniously.  

As Natalie and I said goodbye, Shredder again entered our conversation. He said to me, "Earlier, you were looking for another example for your podcast." After a pause, he said, "You're welcome." 

Natalie and I cracked up as I translated it. 

But Shredder was not done. He pointed out that I had yet to learn how to be more precise in my requests. While driving to the ceramic studio, I wished for more examples to show the subtlety of listening. Shedder pointed out that I can be more direct.

I can directly ask, "Hi animals, out there in the world, does anyone want to help me show our listeners how to become aware of an animal reaching out? How to be a better listener?" This direct communication empowers us to connect with animals on a deeper level, enhancing our understanding and empathy.

I always ask for the animals' support and guidance before speaking with a client. But I forgot to ask them directly for support for this podcast.

As you can see, the opportunities to tune in more, listen mindfully, and see and hear others are endless. 

This podcast is not just a part of my life, it is the core. The one hundred episodes have shaped me into my next.0 version. Sharing with you the teachings and guidance of animals has not only taught me but also guided me. Your presence in this journey is invaluable. 

As the podcast and I evolve into our next version together, I am thrilled to unveil more insights on communicating and connecting with your animals in mindful and meaningful ways. 

As future podcasts, I will connect you not only with animals but also people I feel are worth seeing and hearing. You will meet people like Adrien, Topaz's person. Adrien will chat with us about Topaz, her work as a holistic vet, her trips to Costa Rica to volunteer at spay and neuter clinics, her work with exotics and the Standardbreds at the racepark.  

I will leave you with this: 

The art of listening goes beyond simply hearing words. It involves immersing oneself fully in the present moment, opening up to receive and perceive with your body, your senses, and your intuition to catch the underlying emotions, intentions, and unspoken nuances conveyed by the animal.

I hope you are inspired to listen closely to your furry and feathery companions.

Until next time, Goodbye and Auf Wiedersehen! 


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