Animal Kingdom

When I was a little girl I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up…  Some children said “fireman!”  Some said “my mom!”  Others said “ballerina,” or “hockey player.”

I said I wanted to be a watersnake.

Yes, you read that correctly… A watersnake

I was born a dancer . . . a child who loved movement so much that it became the predominate “language” by which I could express myself.  Watching the deliberate and dodgy flight of a bird, the calculated gaze of a feline, or the way a snake would gracefully…silently…maneuver through a sylvan stream…was, to me, as a flat screen would be to a child today.  You couldn’t pull me away.

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I was born and Empath and an intuitive . . . a child who saw the World through a broader, infinitely magical lens, behind which the nuances of the animal kingdom were felt…not only seen.  I wouldn’t only see a mother feeding her babies…but I’d feel a sense of devoted nurturing.  I wouldn’t see two animals fight over territory or food, but feel a sense of power, and final sovereignty and submission.  Those things were palpable.

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I was positively captivated.  

Paralyzed by the beauty, inspired by the strength and perseverance, I was born with unmeditated love for animals as far back as I remember.

One of my dearest friends – truly a sister – manages a beautiful farm in Aiken, South Carolina.  Avalo Farm and Cat Sanctuary are home to at least 100 felines, several German Shepards (and, at one time, eight puppies!), a dozen horses, chickens, hens…and rather a lot of aquatic life! 

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Michelle deserves her own post altogether (and I have mentioned her in the past) – she touched my heart from the first moment we exchanged words, and now cares for my gorgeous baby girl, Kemisi, an F1 Chausie.  Michelle is the epitome of an “animal person.”  Every aspect of her Life is shaped by these beautiful creatures…the reward for which is only their love.  For her, that is enough.  

The love of an animal, ANY animal, and particularly one who is feral, is a gift beyond words.  

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If an animal has a “tiff” with you…you have a few moments of working it out and then it’s over.  (Kemisi and I had countless staredowns!  I’d not recommend it, particularly with a Chausie, but communication for us was an artform! Her averted eyes let me know that we could move on.) 

If an animal is hungry, it will let you know, and it will eat as it needs to.  

If an animal doesn’t feel well, it will often remain stouthearted…even heroic.  It will manage itself and do what it has to.  

If one of the clan is threatened, the others will rise up in its stead. Mankind could learn a great deal, the way I see it…myself very much included!  

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After going through quite a bit of trauma in my early 20’s, I had the opportunity to become the guardians of two extraordinary wild felines – Kemisi and Khonsu were only a few weeks when they came to me, and we were inseparable – loves of my Life. ❤ The gifts I received from the blessing of their love and friendship is well beyond measure… 

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The devotion, the compassion, the lessons about my own nature, and about theirs…these two impacted my Life far more than I’d have ever dreamed.

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My two precious rescues, whom I currently have the fortune to love, have been a beacon of hope and light in their own ways.  In truth, I’m not sure how I lived so long without animals in my home – it was a difficult few years…and lonely in such a way that only an animal’s presence could alter it. 

I’d find myself talking walks, periodically…listening to the songs in the trees above me, the silly, playful pants of dogs running in the park…even the symphony of crickets in the Night.  Anything to be around Nature…and to be exposed to the Life it bears, meant so much.

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There’s something about the animal kingdom that flares my alexithymia… I literally have no words to describe the majesty of what it offers humankind.  Even if owning a pet isn’t possible...being outside and truly noticing the sounds, perceiving the movements, basking in the splendor of the creatures around you…and really FEELING all surrounding it…will enrich Life like you cannot imagine.  

 

My Ninjas and My Samurai…

So I was going through a LOT last year.  A. LOT.  It tore me apart and broke me down and I was, frankly, a total mess.  Couldn’t leave my apartment without having a total, bawling-mess meltdown!  In somewhat a desperation, I went to visit a dear friend of mine – truly, like a sister – who I hadn’t seen in FAR, FAR too long.  Her home was, and always will be, a home-away-from-home…something I’ve never found elsewhere in my Life.  I get there and it is instantaneous PEACE.

Many years ago I was suffering through something almost as painful – a situation that resulted in two eating disorders and severe PTSD – ugly, painful, TERRIFYING…nearly lethal.  Fortunately, through some serious determination, discipline, support around me, and a silver “brass knuckle” that I wore around my neck every day…I fought through it, and came out stronger and healthy. ❤

But I am still firm in that the two cats I adopted were my truest Life-savers…because there was nothing easy about it, and they gave me one more reason to Live and love.  They weren’t “typical” in ANY way, and definitely not for the faint of heart – they were melanistic F1 Chausies…and the most beautiful animals in the World to me (saying a lot because I am a HUGGGE animal lover.) ❤  They also happened to be NINJAS on the HIGHEST level…not just in spying, but doing “ninja things!”  I’d catch glowing eyes in the dark often! 😀

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They grew up with me as “mom”…and it was a love story from day one.  

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But then my Fashion career picked up, and Life got crazier and crazier… Trips to China were longer and more frequent…and my “babies” just weren’t doing well…at ALL.  Deciding to find them a new and permanent home…at 5 years old…was EXTREMELY painful…but I couldn’t bear to leave them for those trips – no one could replace me while I was away on business, and I knew I had to do the best thing…for THEM. Loving an animal is the most extreme exercise in selflessness.

Between searching, and interviewing, and corresponding, and MORE researching…I was beside myself.  I prayed every Night to find them a good and loving home.  I didn’t want money.  I didn’t want ANYTHING.  I wanted them safe and happy.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy…for any of us.

By some great fortune, for which I am still so utterly grateful (there are NO words!), a woman named Michelle caught wind of my scenario.  I was adamant that the new owners had NO pets and NO children.  She sent me an e-mail to say she DID have many pets…  In fact…MANY.  But she took the time to write one of the most loving and thorough and THOUGHTFUL e-mails I have ever gotten. ❤  This was about 4 years ago and I am getting goosebumps as I write this now.  The moment I read her first e-mail, I knew.  I connected with her all that time ago and have loved her, and her husband, and her “family” of animals since.

Michelle manages her farm, teaches Natural Horesmanship, and runs a formal non-profit Cat SanctuaryAvalo Cat Sanctuary – in Wagener, South Carolina.  https://www.facebook.com/AvaloCatSanctuary http://www.avalocatsanctuary.com.  She has about 100 cats, a dozen or so horses, chickens, hens, and about four German Shepards.  The woman is AMAZING.

So she made a beautiful enclosure – indoor and outdoor – for my babies…and they have lived their since.  My male passed away in September of last year – we were both devastated – but my female is there, and as gorgeous as ever.  Going down there gave me time with her, and time to try to pull myself together.

In the meantime…a beautiful black male was rescued – he was as sweet as could be but…as a melanistic feline, everyone assumed he was “bad luck.”  Fortunately a friend of Michelle’s kept him safe!  He was adopted…and then returned…because he was melanistic (can you even IMAGINE?!)  

MY fortune, because Michelle said…amid my tears…“why don’t you get a KITTEN!?!”  I hadn’t even PONDERED it because I was such a wreck over rehoming my babies year before… But I thought about it… And I decided it was a GREAT IDEA.  

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I went home, bought some supplies and was ready to bring home a new baby boy.  In the meantime, a SECOND melanistic domestic male was rescued!  He and the one I was bringing home got along FAMOUSLY.  It was FATE!

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A few short weeks later, I came home with two baby boys – six and seven months old.  I’m not entirely sure what I would do without them – they make me giggle, and bring such joy to my home.  They are the sweetest, most wonderful boys…and they also happen to LOVE Martial Arts.  Musashi (my Samurai) likes to Aikido roll over all the toys, his brother, and even the laser dot.  And Keku (my Ninja) is as sweet as can be, and SUPER stealthy with food.

I feel so blessed.  I would never be where I am had I not brought them home.  Animals are such amazing treasures and I cannot imagine Life without them – everything seems so much brighter when they are around.  EVEN when causing trouble!