In 2011, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2013, I had a recurrence. The past 7+ years have been a long, difficult journey back to healing. Besides going through several surgeries and radiation, just last month I completed my course of daily medications, and I am in the process of coming off the meds (and their terrible side effects) and realizing that I am healed and that it’s time to put this chapter behind me. Whew! I am so grateful to be well this Christmas, and I wake up every day with a deep sense of thankfulness.
Leah D’Ambrosio (VP of The Shelter Animal Reiki Association (SARA)), Kelly McDermott (Director of SARA’s East Coast Projects) and I just returned from a wonderful trip to Glasgow, Scotland, where I had the honor of speaking on “Reiki for Dogs” at the Natural Canine Care Convention, alongside other amazing speakers such as Dr. Karen Becker and Dr. Isla Fishburn. I learned so much about caring for dogs holistically! What I didn’t realize when I arrived in Glasgow, was that I was about to embark upon a journey of culinary yumminess that rivals any trip I’ve ever taken! It’s sometimes a bit tricky, trying to eat gluten free/vegan while traveling, but not this time 🙂
Probably never? Well, here’s a reason to celebrate: The bison was recently named the national mammal of the United States by President Obama! The law he signed—the National Bison Legacy Act—doesn’t offer any new protections to bison (also known as buffalo), but it does raise their status to that of an official symbol of America, similar to the bald eagle.
This is a long-overdue and important recognition for the bison, an icon of America and revered symbol of Native Americans that once roamed in the millions but then was nearly decimated by the end of the 1800s. But thanks to early conservationists, including President Teddy Roosevelt, bison bounced back—and today they’re even off the endangered species list! In case you missed it, National Bison Day this year fell on November 5 (the first Saturday of November).
Have I mentioned how much I love sloths? One of my dreams, in fact, is one day to share Reiki with a sloth. (If only I could be so lucky!)
I have sloths on the mind because October 20, my dear friends, is International Sloth Day. Woo! This special day was created six years ago by the AIUNAU Foundation in Colombia, which helps sloths and other animals that are either injured or the victims of illegal wildlife trafficking—with the goal of rehabilitating the animals and then releasing them back into the wild.
Though a majority of scientists today agree that animals are sentient, that hasn’t stopped outmoded beliefs from persisting. This editorial published by Psychology Today claimed (in basic terms) that animals don’t speak, laugh, cry, think, get depressed, fall in love or have spiritual experiences. (We’ve all met people like this; the essayist isn’t alone in his beliefs.) Luckily, a few weeks later, Mark Beckoff—author, scientist and behavioral ecologist—followed up with his own essay, knocking down each one of these misguided statements.
Why do so many people continue to discount the worth of an animal’s life? Perhaps because “going there”—where your food come from, where your makeup, handbags and fancy leather couches originate—is too painful and awkward to face. But the truth about animal sentience is out there for those who will listen: