Looking for Eco-friendly gifts

If you follow my blog and/or social media, you’ll know that I’m passionate about Nature.  For me, part of this is looking for ways to be more eco-conscious in my purchases.

I previously posted about looking for ways to use less plastic and shortly after this, I was contacted by a company called Life Before Plastik who wondered if I would consider writing about them and their products.  Having taken a look at their website, I was very happy to do so.

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They might not be the largest company selling eco-friendly products but they’re still young (as I write this on 11 November they’re celebrating their 1st birthday) and they’re  continuing to add new products to their collection.  Not only that, but they also have videos and other useful information, such as using ecobricks and how to use bar shampoos.

Their product categories include:

  • Bathroom
  • Beauty
  • Skincare
  • Haircare
  • Home
  • Kids & Baby
  • Pets

and a couple of others.  They also have a particular section for Festive Ideas and they include a gift wrapping service.

I’ve had some correspondence with them, and they have been responsive, helpful and accommodating.

Even so, I wouldn’t be entirely comfortable making a recommendation without actually trying them out – a good excuse for some gift shopping, including some things for myself!

In my first order I bought:

  • A sisal soap pouch (a great way of using up those little slivers of soap at the end of the bar – put them in the pouch and use like an exfoliating rub in the bath or shower)
  • Shea butter soap (for my face)
  • Argan and oatmilk shampoo bar (not my first choice but this was sold out so obviously popular)
  • And Sea Salt and Moss soap-on-a-rope (which will be a Christmas present for my uncle)

My order arrived within a couple of days, very neatly wrapped in brown paper.  When I opened the parcel, I could see that they’d used recycled packaging – an old chocolate box and newspaper – along with ‘wood wool’.  I love it when a company extends their ethical ethos to include how they send out the products!  They’ve told me that this includes their gift wrapping too:

“It comes with products packaged in a recycled cardboard box filled with wood wool, before being wrapped with twine and a choice of a reindeer or santa post gift tag.”

This is an image from their website:

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When it comes to wrapping your own presents and parcels, they also sell paper tape, a plastic -free alternative to Selotape.

Another couple of points that I like about this company are that:

  • they stock a range of vegan products
  • they are UK based and therefore there’s less of a carbon footprint in terms of shipping for me, compared to ordering from the US and other countries.

Of course, there are also other companies offering great eco-friendly products.  Another that I used recently is Plastic Freedom.  I ordered some products from them also:

  • vegan lip balm
  • cocoa butter solid moisturiser
  • an olive wood soap dish
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They, too, have a Christmas range and also stock makeup, clothing and food.

Again, I was very pleased with the products and service.

A couple of other sites that I’ve noticed, but not yet used are Beauty Kitchen (who have a festive range of products) and BYBI.

Whatever and however you’re celebrating this month, I send warmest wishes to you and yours.

See you in the 2020!

Coming Home to the Self

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about why I do what I do, and why I love working with the people who come to me.  Basically, it’s because I was that person

Rewind a few years and I was very unhappy.  Initially I tried to tell myself that I was ‘fine’, or at least that I was ‘coping’ and that “many other people have things much worse than me”, but I was experiencing health problems which were leaving me feeling low, exhausted and overwhelmed.

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At the time I thought that if this or that thing changed, or if this or that person would just do things differently, then ‘everything would be ok’.  In short, I was looking for answers outside of myself.  I tried various options, including counselling, but they just weren’t helping to make the changes I so desperately craved.  I wanted someone who would really listen, and give me the advice, support and tools I felt I needed for things to feel better.

I continued searching, which led me to an online course entitled Integral Enlightenment , run by Craig Hamilton.  This course encouraged the participants to view life from both a relative/duality perspective (our daily experience) and also an absolute perspective, ie the perspective that is outside of Time and Space.  This helped me to develop a deeper self-awareness and a consciousness of my responsibility for my own actions, thoughts, beliefs and feelings, while also knowing where this responsibility ends; that is, to discern the things that are not mine to take on board.  (Having been a first-born child, a ‘fixer’, a ‘control freak’ and a ‘perfectionist’, this was a big step for me!) 

I started to see – and accept – that the only thing I could change in my situation was me!  I had been trying to ‘fit in’, and to go along with others in order to ‘keep the peace’, thinking that this was my only option, but each time I said ‘Yes’ to something that didn’t feel right to me – either verbally or through my actions – I was effectively saying ‘No’ to myself.  This was causing me high levels of stress and deep unhappiness.  It was part of a pattern that I had learnt as a child, but it was no longer serving me.  Something needed to shift in me for me to feel better.  The answers had to come from within, not without. 

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Far from making me feel helpless, I suddenly felt that I had the power to choose which direction I would go from there.

For me, this naturally led on to exploring:

  • Who am I, and what do I want in my life?
  • What are my values, and how can I be more aligned with these?

I began to understand that when I am honest with myself about my feelings, reactions and responses – and I take responsibility for these – then life is simpler, and feels more authentic and less overwhelming.

Also, when I was able to get clearer on my values and I how I could express these with integrity, I felt empowered and recharged.

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I came to realise that when my thoughts, values, beliefs and actions are congruent, it’s a very peaceful– and also powerful – place to be.  It brings new clarity, insight and energy, and allows me to feel comfortable in my Self.  That is, I feel ‘at home’ in my own skin.  And, isn’t this sense of knowing who we really are, and feeling safe and able to fully Be that Self, isn’t this what we really want from Life?

I came to realise that although I had thought I needed advice, support and ‘tools’ in order to change my life, what I really needed was a safe space to explore who I really am and how to Be that more fully.  I worked with a couple of therapists along the way who helped me to do this exploration.  They mostly just held that safe space and walked alongside of me, sometimes asking me questions or helping to shine a light for me to find my own steps.  I discovered that this was actually what I wanted and needed, rather than advice.  Their support was gentle, encouraging and offered with a ‘light touch’, mostly just allowing me to see that the wisdom and resources that I needed were already within me, all I needed was a way to connect with them. 

I’m sharing a little of what my journey looked like, not to say that anyone else should take these same steps, but to give hope to anyone who is struggling right now.  I know that everyone is an individual and so their journey will be unique to them.  There is no ‘one size fits all’, but that is the wonder and beauty of Life in all its richness, variety and colour.   That’s why I don’t have a fixed programme for people to follow and my work is always tailor-made to the person and their situation.

I am now honoured to share parts of the  journeys of some amazing people, holding space and shining light for them as they find their own path and reconnect with their inner power and beauty.  Each one of them is an inspiration and a joy to me, and I love to watch as they find their feet and step into their ability to continue on without me, or to return periodically for a bit of self-care.

If you’d like to know more about this process, please see my website:

            equenergy.com

And if you were wondering about how my health is now:

  • I haven’t had a migraine in years
  • My eczema has cleared
  • I haven’t had an episode of IBS either
  • We now live on a Welsh hillside and I care for 2 horses which means that I’m pushing barrow-loads of hay up and down to the fields and poo-picking a couple of times a day, so my energy and fitness levels are also much improved!

Having reached a vey low point myself, I know how despair can suck all the Life and fun out of everything.  But having found my way back I can tell you that the sun shines even brighter now, because I appreciate it all the more 😊

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Equenergy blog is back!

Hello again! I’m back – a week later than planned, but I’m here now, and I thought I’d give you a bit of an update on what’s been happening here at Equenergy.

The original plan was to take time off from posting here and to use it instead for reflection and for focusing on some other things that I’d been wanting to do for a while.

Well, as is often the way of things, this didn’t entirely to to plan! Life got in the way, as it tends to do, and the month seemed to pass much faster than I’d expected.

One of the big things I noticed in slowing down a bit and giving myself a little more ‘space; was something that I’ve felt brewing for a while was able to come to the surface…

Today is the 1 year anniversary of our move to Wales. The seasons have gone through a full cycle and we’re once again approaching winter with its shorter days and change in the weather. (I’m partly welcoming the cooler temperatures of Autumn, particularly as I’m currently in the throes of ‘power surges’ – aka hot flushes!) I also love the light, colours and fruitfulness of this season and the fact that the recent rains have restored the spring and the stream.

We’ve done a lot of work on the place over the last 12 months (mostly my wonderful husband, without whom none of this would have been possible) and we’ve learnt a lot about what it’s like to live here ‘on the mountain’.

Although I love living here – and have such a sense of space and connection with Nature and ‘wildness’ – I freely admit that it hasn’t been easy at times.

I knew that stepping back from some things and giving myself some extra time, would bring me face-to-face with some of the feelings that I’d been too busy to deal with before. It’s felt like a kind of ‘deconstruction’ – taking myself and my hopes and dreams for this place apart, re-examining them and then seeing if I could put them together again in a way that ‘fits’, both for me and for this place.

In parallel with this, I’ve been looking at how I work, and what I offer, and I decided to make some changes. Partly these are to streamline things for greater clarity, and partly to be more effective and to make better use of my time – with less procrastination or doing things that are not bringing me closer to my joy.

As a result of all this I’ve merged my 2 Facebook pages into 1, and done the same with the groups. Originally I’d separated them into the work that I do with people, and my work with animals, but this ended up feeling more confusing due to all the overlap and duplication, so I’ve brought them together. I will be doing the same with my newsletters.

If you’d like to see, and perhaps follow, my Facebook page you can find it at: https://www.facebook.com/Equenergy/

The connected group is ‘Closed’, but if you’d like to join, the link is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1745719752397794/

If you’d like to sign up for my newsletter please click here: Equenergy newsletter

In addition, my website has been updated and revamped, courtesy of Swarm ICT. I’d love to hear what you think, and any feedback you might like to share. Click on this link to see the new site: https://equenergy.com/

Another change is that I’ve decided to post to my blog on a monthly basis, rather than weekly as before. This is in order to allow time for other projects. I’m considering exploring podcasts and video posts, so we’ll see how it goes…

One of the things I’d hoped to do over the last month was to finish a course / workshop that I’d been working on. (I’m not quite sure what format it will take, and it could potentially be run in a range of different ways.) It builds on the concept of ‘mindfulness’ to look at how we can be more ‘mind-body-spirit-conscious’ in order to live with deeper authenticity and congruence. When we are able to do this, we experience less stress and also greater ease and wellbeing in our lives. If this is something that would be of interest to you, please get in touch.

I wish you a happy and healthy October. For those of us in the UK it’s going to be a month of change as Autumn sees the leaves turn all the colours of the rainbow, the temperatures dropping and shorter, wetter days. The clocks will be changing soon and of course we have the upcoming Brexit. All of this can take a toll on our energy levels, so don’t forget to include lots of self-care in your plans for the weeks ahead. If possible, include time outdoors too, as sunshine and fresh air are so important for our wellbeing as we approach winter.

See you in November!

Taking a break

I came across a great blog post the other day by ‘The Flying Witch’, Gabriella Guglielminotti Trivel entitled Time for Wholeness.  Ms Tivel’s blog carries the subheading ‘Flying with the feminine’ and in this particular article she writes about her experiences of going through perimenopause and needing to observe and honour the changes going on within her body.

This made me think about my own situation.  I, too, am at this stage in my life, while also going through a lot of other changes – home, location, work, animals, friends, etc.  It’s been an exciting, stressful, wonderful, and exhausting 12 months, and so I felt it was time to take a look at where I am, currently, and assess how I’m doing with all that’s been going on.

The answer is that I’m feeling rather drained, and a little bit lacking in ‘mojo’.

I’ve therefore decided to take a step back from writing this blog for a while.  While I love writing and sharing with you – and would love to engage more with you all – it’s time to take a short break.  Instead I’ll be using the time to focus on resting, recharging and reassessing where I want to go next.  I also have some other writing that I want to make time for, such as the mindfulness course that I’ve had sitting on the back burner for a while.  It’ll be good to get this done rather than having it sitting, staring accusingly at me from my To Do list! 😉

Also, I have a VIP guest coming to visit next month – my Mum is coming over from Ireland to see our new home for the first time.  I’m so excited and can hardly wait to share this magical space with her.  It’ll be her first time meeting Dax and Rika too!

So, I wish you all a wonderful September with whatever you have planned, and see you again in October.

Is your summer feeling like a bit of a wash-out?

How is your summer going?  I hope you’re getting at least some sunshine, though the UK has been experiencing some very unseasonable weather this August!  This can make such a difference to our mood and motivation levels, particularly when we’ve been holding on for our summer holidays and counting on warm sunshine, only to find that it’s cold, damp and grey outside.

We were thoroughly spoilt with hot dry days last year so the contrast can add to our disappointment.  All those plans we’d made for a ‘staycation’ or day trips with the kids during the holidays, might have ended up being a bit of a wash-out. 

Many of us work hard during the winter months, thinking that we’ll be able to take some ‘down-time’ in the summer: images of sitting on a beach, or park, or just in the garden, sipping a cool drink, and soaking up those warming rays, are what keep us going during those cold months…

We can end up running our batteries down, promising ourselves that we’ll top them up again in the warmer months…

At least, that’s how I’ve been feeling.  We moved here in October of last year on the day that storm Callum arrived and ended the 5 glorious months of sunshine.  We then spent the winter working hard to fix leaks and get the place set up for ourselves and the horses.  I know that I, for one, was hoping for a nice long summer to recharge and have more time just to enjoy being here, before the challenging weather returned.

But these things don’t always go to plan, do they!

So, what can you do if you’re finding that you’re sitting indoors feeling depressed at the wet, grey view from your window?

This can actually be an opportunity to go within and to rest deeply.  Sitting in the sunshine obviously feels amazing, and does great things for our wellbeing, but cooler, greyer weather can call us to a kind of ‘hibernation’ and it can good to take advantage of this, listen to our bodies and relax into that deep state of rest.

Also, if we’re not careful, sunny days can draw us into a different kind of busy-ness, with parties, weddings, barbeques, gardening, outdoor repairs, and so on.  All of these can be fun but it’s important to balance them out by taking a break every now and then.

And rainy weather is the perfect opportunity / excuse!

In my work I meet so many people who are frazzled and run-down.  They have an endless To Do list that just seems to get longer and their holiday, or time off, is a distant dream that keeps getting put off to another day.

But remember that:

And…

So, on those ‘not very summery’ summer days, don’t despair!  Try not to feel frustrated or upset at the weather, because after all it’s not something we can change.  Instead, use the time for some self-care:

  • book a massage, or some Bowen or aromatherapy
  • have a session in a jacuzzi or float tank
  • do some yoga, mindfulness or meditation
  • read a good book
  • or just have a lovely, indulgent afternoon nap!

And remember:

I’m sure you can come up with lots of other things to do!  Please feel free to share your suggestions in the comments below.

If you struggle with taking this time out for yourself, and some little inner voice is driving you to keep going even though you’re exhausted, then I can help.  Together we can explore where that little voice comes from and how to address it, so that it can let go and give you the peace and permission you need in order to fully rest and recharge.  After all, this will mean that you can function much more effectively and enjoy greater wellbeing.  You’ll also have the energy to include those fun things in your life that you’ve just been too tired / busy for previously.

If you’d like to have a chat, you can contact me by phone, email or through my website:

What is guilt? Is it healthy? Does it serve any useful purpose?

According to some, having been raised an Irish Catholic, I should practically have a PhD in guilt!  Seriously though, seeing the effect that it has on people’s lives, I do ponder this feeling, and its consequences, from time to time.

Recently I’ve been thinking about how strongly it relates to shame.  For most of us, this is something that we learn at a very early age.  This means that it’s acquired during the phase of our lives (0 – approximately 6 years of age) when we accept things without question, and without the ability to judge their validity or helpfulness.  As a result, shame is something that is very longstanding, deep rooted and can have a profound impact on our lives.  It is also – as alluded to in my, slightly flippant, comment above – often embedded into our culture, helping to perpetuate and strengthen its hold on us.

So, is it healthy, and does it serve any useful purpose?

If I can address the second part of that question first, I believe that guilt is only useful in as much as it alerts us to discomfort.  It shows that there is an issue that needs addressing.

When we experience discomfort in this way, it indicates that our thoughts are out of line with our Higher Self’s views on the subject.  For example, if I do something that makes me feel guilty, my inner critic is telling me all those self-shaming thoughts, such as:

  • You’re a bad person!
  • You never get anything right!
  • You’ve failed again!
  • What a stupid mistake that was!

In contrast, our Higher Self never judges us, and certainly would never address us in less than loving terms.

So, our discomfort makes us aware that we’re out of alignment.  We’re not being true to our Higher Self.

If we drill deeper, we’ll probably find it’s not just the shaming thoughts that are off balance, they’re most likely coming from our deeper awareness that we’re not living as our Best Self – we’ve allowed ourselves to be distracted by other things.

In today’s world we’re spoilt for choice on ‘distractions’:

  • Social media
  • ‘Will we / won’t we’ Brexit?
  • And, whichever way it goes, what impact will this have on the economy?
  • Has environmental damage gone beyond repair?

Then, of course, there’re also the ‘minutiae’ of our everyday lives:

  • What to have for dinner
  • Who will get together with whom on Love Island?
  • What are people thinking of me / of what I said / of how I look?

All of these things can occupy our thoughts, meaning that we’re not fully present much of the time. 

As a result, we often act, or make decisions, on a largely subconscious level.  We can end up going through our days on autopilot, reacting rather than consciously responding to situations, allowing the nervous, anxious, fearful part of our mind to make our decisions for us.  This can result in things like:

  • Over eating
  • Over spending
  • Not stepping out of our comfort zone – eg trying something new
  • Avoiding situations that we find challenging – eg meeting new people
  • Self sabotage

When we notice that we’ve made decisions that were unwise, and maybe got us into trouble, we then feel guilty.  This isn’t ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ – no feelings are, and it’s impossible to turn them off anyway – it’s what we do with this feeling that’s important. 

Do we get ‘stuck’, listening to, and engaging with those shaming thoughts?  

Or do we explore the feelings and learn from them, seeing what changes we can make to move closer into alignment with Who We Really Are, in order to live a life where we make conscious choices that serve us, and that feel authentic and honest, and where we can be responsible and accountable rather than feeling guilt and shame?

This can be challenging, and will require us to look deeply at conditioning that we’ve carried since childhood.  Others have referred to this as ‘un-domestication’ or ‘rewilding’.  It’s a visceral process and requires deconstruction and reconstruction, but you don’t have to do it alone, and the rewards feel amazing: self awareness, autonomy and freedom.

I think that this is the only value of guilt and therefore I don’t feel that it’s a place where we should spend any more time than absolutely necessary.  In fact, to return to the question of ‘is it healthy?’, generally, beyond the initial recognition and finding the issues to be addressed, I would say that the answer to this is ‘No’.

On the contrary, guilt is often very restricting and deeply uncomfortable.  It keeps us small and can be very stressful which, as we know, impacts on our wellbeing.  That inner voice also isn’t content with just criticising our current choices.  If we are prepared to listen, it has a nasty habit of dragging up every perceived failing and every ‘mistake’ we’ve ever made.  It also projects its beliefs onto others, telling us that they, too, see us as not good / clever / skilled enough.

So, what can we do? 

Start by taking a step back and observe the things that your mind is telling you, without engaging with them, knowing that they are merely the product of your conditioning and your natural negative bias.  Don’t try to fight your mind, it’s just doing its job, and it’s not really open to persuasion anyway!  Observe, without judging, and accept that this is what the mind does – not just yours, but everyone’s.

You can then make a conscious decision about whether to go along with what your mind says, or choose a different option.  You don’t have to push yourself too far out of your comfort zone.  Small steps and small challenges will help you to build your ‘consciousness muscles’ allowing you to stretch and grow.

As you become more self-aware you will be able to identify the things you really want in your life, the things that light you up and fill you with excitement and joy.  These are your guide in creating the fulfilling life that you long for.  These are where you discover your ‘purpose’.  You aren’t here for the ‘should’s, ‘have to’s or ‘ought to’s.  You’re here to Be Who You Really Are and to let that light shine out.  You’re here to experience and grow and en-joy the journey.

My animal is showing anxious and defensive behaviours – what can I do?

How to recognise the escalation steps and know the appropriate response at each level

In another role, I recently attended a 1-day refresher course in MAPA® (Management of Actual and Perceived Aggression) run by CPI (the Crisis Prevention Institute).  This course looks at what happens when an individual’s tension starts to rise, and how we can respond – rather than react – in order to hopefully diffuse the tension before it escalates further and possibly turns into aggression.

MAPA® teaches that there are 4 stages in this process:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Defensiveness
  3. Risky behaviour
  4. Tension reduction

When we can respond appropriately at each stage, it allows us to address the level of tension in the ‘least restrictive’ manner.

The suggested responses are:

  1. Be supportive
  2. Be directive
  3. Use (minimal and proportionate) physical intervention
  4. Engage in therapeutic rapport

Listening to the trainer, I began to realise that this makes a lot of sense for our interactions with our animal friends too! 

I like simplicity (as you might have seen in my recent post) and so MAPA®’s 4-step process resonated with me and I thought I would share, in case it might prove helpful for others too.

The first step we need to take is to observe, and become familiar with, our animal’s baseline behaviours:

  • How do they appear in a variety of situations and settings?
  • What does their ‘happy’ look like?
  • What does their ‘slightly uneasy’ look like?
  • What does their ‘worried’ or ‘anxious’ look like?
  • If they have a disagreement with another horse, what behaviours do they show and how do they behave afterwards? (ie during the tension reduction phase)
  • What do they enjoy? What are they good at?

When we know the answers to these questions, then we can start to gauge where our animal is on their scale of tension, and how we might begin to support them at each level.

Sometimes however, we don’t notice / recognise the subtle signals an animal displays to say that they’re beginning to feel anxious.  These might be a tension around the eyes, mouth and ears, or behavioural clues such as yawning or looking away.

Most – if not all – animals would prefer to keep their tension levels as low as possible, therefore their early signals are an invitation to us to offer support in some way.  If we aren’t able to at least attempt to offer this – and animals are generally very forgiving, tolerant and accepting of our sometimes stumbling and clumsy attempts – then their anxiety will probably move up to defensive behaviour.

At this level we could see things like threats to kick or bite in horses, or bared teeth and growling in dogs.  Unfortunately, particularly with animals who have been punished for giving these signals, we might perceive that they ‘suddenly jump’ into the risky behaviour of charging or biting.  However, if we are able to spot defensive signals, then the MAPA® suggested response is to be directive.  With animals, since we don’t have a shared verbal language, this will need to be in the form of body language or movement on our part.

You could, of course, use a verbal command such as ‘No!’, but I believe that if this was successful it could have the same outcome as punishment, in that it might restrict the animal’s choices in communicating their feelings.  Over time they might stop showing the lower level signals all together, meaning that we no longer have the opportunity to step in and respond to help them release / channel their tension.

Our animals can’t learn to speak, however with a bit of effort and practice we can learn to read their body language and facial expression (see more about this in my blog series) and work together to create a set of signals that have meaning for both participants.

At this level we can use ‘re-direction’, that is shifting the focus to something else.  The ‘something’ would depend on the individual, but you could use things like movement, play, touch or breath.  Obviously, this should be something that you know the animal likes, or already knows how to do, and so can feel the reassurance of doing something that is ‘easy’ for them and at which they can be ‘successful’.

When the animal has reached defensive behaviour, they are beginning to lose the ability to think rationally which is why the response is to make the decisions and direct the activity at this point.

However, if we miss this opportunity for the animal to release their tension, the next step is risky behaviour.  This is when their behaviour becomes much more dangerous, that is, the animal attacks in some way.  At this point they have completely lost the power of rational thought and their entire focus is self-preservation. They have lost the ability to be conscious of our vulnerability!  The training from CPI – which I highly recommend – covers a range of disengagements from various holds, but with animals, unless you’re trained and have the necessary protective gear, the best response at this point is to get out!  Move away and get to a place of safety.

No animal, including ourselves, can hold this level of tension for a sustained period.  It takes a lot of energy and is exhausting.  When they run out of steam, they need to be allowed a period of tension reduction.  For some this will mean being allowed to have some quiet time by themselves, whereas others might want contact and reassurance. This allows the individual to recover their sense of balance and can give us a chance to re-establish bonds of friendship and trust that might be feeling a little frayed.

We too might need support after being the target of an animal’s risky behaviour, to help us recover and not lose our confidence

It’s important to point out here that these steps don’t necessarily progress only in a linear fashion. An individual who has started to ‘de-escalate’ in tension, could be re-triggered back up the scale at any point, if they haven’t yet reached full tension reduction, so be aware of possible triggers and of any signs that their arousal level is increasing again.

I hope this simple set of steps helps to provide a useful way of approaching tension in your animals, but please remember that your safety must come first at all times.  If you feel that you need support, I recommend calling on the services of a good behaviourist to help you build a deeper – and safer – connection.

(Images courtesy of Google Images and Canva)