— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — “When you open your heart to an animal and you just allow that awareness to spread out from your heart to that other being, we become irresistible.” —Linda Bender DVM Sometimes a conversation is so good, so inspiring, so healing, that you want to share it with everyone. In the rich, calming, hopeful conversation I share with world-renowned wildlife veterinarian Linda Bender, she speaks of what she has learned from working with animals. It is a beautiful, calming, fascinating conversation, inviting our imagination to soar to what is and could be. When insights are really important, we need to hear them more than once to begin to digest and be able...

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — For more than 100 years it grew, gracing the home of the people who planted and gave life to it. It added a note of beauty and peace to the center of the small town, heralding spring with the fresh green of bursting buds, town crier for the renewal of life. It gave shade and coolness in the summer, bent with limber limbs in the winds, turned a golden yellow in the fall, glowing in the late afternoon light. It watched over births, triumphs, tragedies and deaths; over generations of humans each locked into the perspectives of their own short lives. The willow was there, greening, gracing and growing. Times changed. The town grew. The willow just grew...

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — Speaking with Jill Robinson of the Animals Asia Foundation makes me want to sell everything I own, give her all my money and live naked in a hut eating beans so she can continue with her work. She is a beacon of hope and inspiration to what humans can be, and can do. Her story begins in 1993 when she was visiting a basement bear bile farm in southern China with two friends in which the farmer kept moon-bears for their entire life in “crush cages,” so their bile could be extracted for use in traditional Chinese medicine. The practice still exists in China*. Surrounded by bears in horrible conditions, Jill suddenly felt a gentle touch on her shoulder....

There is an organic feel to the development of our conversations. Organic in the sense of a magical natural unfolding leading to you-know-not-where-but-somewhere-wonderful. In creative fields there is a common phrase, “trust the process,” meaning just let the work unfold naturally and see where it leads. Not always easy to do when we want to direct things, or are nervous about what we may discover. But that is where real change lies. By letting things unfold, we may find ourselves guided somehow, through threads and currents too subtle for us to see, into what will become a beautiful or profound tapestry of meaning. This is even more true in a group conversation such as this, the...

— by Wendy Francis — I spend a lot of time exploring and enjoying the natural world. So it’s not unusual for me to have an intimate encounter with a wild animal. Each of these is special and enjoyable, and reminds me that every creature and I share something very fundamental. We have in common the basic building blocks of life in our cells and also a common heritage in the process of evolution. We also share the mysterious element of consciousness or spirit that exists in all living things. While each observation of or interaction with a wild creature is thrilling, some are extra special. I remember the first time I saw a wolverine close up in the wild. I was so excited I was...

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