I always felt so small. An outsider. I’ve been teased and laughed at. I was the ugly duckling. The shy wallflower nerd.
I was “too smart” at my schools so they’d single me out to tell me, point blank, that I AM NOT SPECIAL. HOW DARE I EVER think I’m special.
I spent my younger years trying to fit in, but no matter how hard I tried, I was just setting up the scene for a play. It wasn’t the real me, but a vanilla version working so hard to show the world what I was “supposed to.” My well-meaning parents expressed the importance of fitting in at any cost. The importance of putting others’ feelings above my own.
I’m an empath, which means I feel EVERYTHING. To the point of laughter or tears. It’s intense, and part of why I care. SO much. About everyone I meet. I already love you with my whole heart, and I don’t even know you.
I've been repeatedly rejected and abandoned and left to wonder how anyone could turn down my gift. Why no one would want it.
Maybe it's too intense. Too REAL. Maybe people can feel the power of my heart and they don't know how to cope.
But the animals do. It’s part of my connection. I don’t need words to communicate with the animals. I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not, because THEY SEE. THEY SEE right through everyone. To the very core of your being. Of MY being. THEY KNOW WHO I AM. They see my light. They see my gifts. They see the flame of my true innocence that keeps burning brightly despite heartbreak and struggle.
The animals know how intensely I feel emotion. They know how much I care. How full of love my heart has always been, and how much love I have to share. They can feel it, and I don’t even need to explain. They accept it when so many humans have not.
Animals SEE ME. And I’ve felt unseen for almost all of my life. In school, even though I got really good grades, I wasn’t the best. I stopped doing art - something I loved - in high school because I was told I wasn’t good enough to be an artist. I stopped dancing- something I loved - after my first year in college because I was told I wasn’t thin enough to be a dancer. I stopped playing rugby because no matter how hard I trained or how much passion I put into my game, I was consistently overlooked. I've been fired because I CAN SEE THROUGH THE BULLSHIT and I won't play. It's uncomfortable for people to sense what I know when they're not ready to face their truth.
I’ve always loved animals. As a kid I was obsessed with horses. And I mean OBSESSED. I had Breyers horses and My Little Pony figures. I drew them constantly. I read books about them. I wrote stories about them. I had imaginary horses who each had a name, a grooming schedule and an exercise schedule. I’d literally gallop across the fields, pretending I was riding them. I’d talk to these imaginary creatures as if they were real.
It’s a connection thing.
We didn’t really have pets growing up. I had a hamster at one point, but he died in his cage. We had a cat until he got out of the house and ran away after a rabbit. My parents got us a puppy, but took him back to the shelter when no one knew how to take care of him. That still makes me cry to this day.
When I moved in with my girlfriend, we started out with cats. Then we adopted a dog. And then another. I found the joy of having my own fur babies and I haven’t looked back.
I’ve gone through a lot of hardship, and they’ve always been there. They love me as much as I love them. They love my pure self. I don’t always let people close because I’m so sensitive to others’ feelings. It’s not always easy for me to tell when I’m feeling an emotion because of me or because of someone I’m close to.
I also prefer simplicity, and animals embody the simplicity of expression. Because they don’t hide, and they don’t expect us to. In fact, they don’t trust people who are hiding.
Over the years, I’ve learned about animal communication. I’ve followed Lynn McKenzie and Penelope Smith and I’ve taken courses with Bridget Pilloud. Bridget even wrote a blog post about communicating with my dog Sherman after she’d passed.
Sherman was my baby, and after I put her to rest, I cried for months. I still cry when I think about her because I miss her so much.
Another part of my journey has been learning how to respond to dogs with issues. I’ve had dogs with aggression issues and each time I’ve learned how to help them the best I can while also accepting them as they are. It’s not about humans forcing animals to do their bidding. It’s about a conscious connection with each animal, and honoring who they are and what they’ve come to teach us.
Because animals are teachers. They know what we need to learn and have contracts with us to teach us those lessons. Even after they’re gone, they continue to guide us.
I honor their spirits when I paint. When I draw their eyes. I FEEL each pet’s soul and I paint from that place. My work is infused with the angel dust of pets who’ve passed.
I want to pass on their gift of unconditional love. I want to AMPLIFY IT. And that’s why I paint. That’s why I GIVE. Because everyone deserves to experience this kind of unconditional love. To feel accepted and included and loved for WHO YOU ARE.
Not for who you’re pretending to be, but for your beautiful, innocent soul. For that inner child who just wants a hug and to be told it’s all going to be okay. Because animals do that. They take our hearts into their furry embrace and they KNOW. They can give us comfort that few humans are capable of.
I am here to GIFT YOU with their presence. To GIFT YOU with a physical expression of your beloved’s soul. To AMPLIFY that energy so that you can FEEL it. Whenever you need it, it envelops you and holds you as tightly as you need to feel that love and comfort again.
This is my soul song. My gift. And I’m sharing it with you. Because I love you, and they do too.