Author: Pam



Declan 3

I have always been one to be open minded and try different methods of keeping my horse healthy and happy, and why not—he is my partner after all.

My friend Marcia sent me to websites of the names of two exceptional women.  (Pam Sourelis) and Patricia Holman

After viewing both websites I decided to have neuromuscular retraining for my horse Declan and I would visit Patricia and have Feldenkrais work done to myself.

The first visit with Pam was awesome, just by very light and gentle touch she released a huge knot in Declan’s back. After the lesson Declan was walking more relaxed, his head stretched down and forward.

The second lesson was from a distance. Yes I was a little hesitant at first, but when I rode Declan the next time I felt that his rib cage had expanded, and he moved more freely through his shoulders and back.

I could hardly wait for my session with Patricia.

My session with Patricia was amazing. I never knew how really heavy and tight the left side of my body was, hence putting more weight on the left side of my body in the saddle was hindering Declan from using his left inside hind. I too had issues with my rib cage and tightness in my shoulders. After my Feldenkrais session with Pat I could hardly wait to ride again; what a difference it made! I was able to shift my balance point to the right and keep my right leg on the side of my horse! Yea! I have signed up for 3 more sessions with Patricia.

After the final session with Pam I felt a horse that I hadn’t felt in a long time. He moved much more fluently and relaxed.

I must admit that I have done chiropractic, message and acupuncture both to my horse and with myself; these methods of Pam and Patricia are so much more relaxing and helpful. I am totally hooked.

  – Mary Ann Collins, Caledonia, WI


Pam’s note: The Neuromuscular Retraining sessions that I do with animals are based on the principles of the Feldenkrais Method for humans. I received two years of training from a certified Feldenkrais practitioner who developed a method for four-legged creatures. I am always thrilled when the human rider is working with a Feldenkrais practitioner at the same time I am working with the horse.



Reiki & Chemotherapy: Mia’s Story

Reiki & Chemotherapy: Mia’s Story

Mia1In March of 2014, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I began chemotherapy treatments in April of 2014 and received regular Reiki sessions from Pam, from a distance, throughout and alongside my drug therapy.

We experimented with how to time the sessions in relation to when I received the chemo. In most instances, I received a Reiki session that same evening. But when I went from bi-weekly AC meds to weekly Taxol meds, the side effects—primarily fatigue and body aches–intensified. Pam suggested we add a session the night before the chemo. That meant I was receiving a session the night before and the night of the chemotherapy.
This was tremendously helpful in alleviating the side effects!

At one point, we had some scheduling conflicts and I was not able to receive Reiki the night before chemo. Pam texted me while I was in the chemo chair asking if I wanted to have a session then. Having the session while I was in the chair made a huge difference! There was a vast reduction in my side effects and no need for a session that night. I even fell asleep in the chair, I was so relaxed! We continued with this method and timing for the remainder of my treatments.

I suffered from anxiety and depression throughout treatment, but I always felt calmer and more centered after Reiki.

Mia, Minneapolis


Pam’s Note: I also shared Reiki sessions with Mia after her surgery (which followed chemotherapy) and occasionally during her six-week course of radiation. But the bulk of our sessions were concentrated around her chemotherapy treatment, which is when she expressed the most need and found the sessions most helpful.

How Can We Protect Them?

How Can We Protect Them?



[While the occasion for this post is horse-related, these comments relate to all of the animals in our care.]


Here in Northern Illinois, a barn has been quarantined because of an outbreak of the Equine Herpes Virus (EHV), which is highly contagious and can be fatal. Two of the horses have already been put down.


Whenever disease sweeps through these large, commercial barns, my heart breaks a little.


While there is no vaccine for the herpes virus, more than one large veterinary practice in the area has urged horse caregivers to be sure to stay current on all shots (and they recommend a boatload of them) in order to strengthen their horses’ immune systems. When I read this advice, my head nearly exploded.


How does vaccination for other diseases boost your immunity against a disease for which there is no vaccine? This makes no sense. Further, much has been written by holistic veterinarians and researchers to support the view that vaccination, especially over-vaccination, can actually damage the immune system.


So what can we do?


While we cannot protect our beloved equines from all harm, we need to be more mindful of their natures, what they require for both physical and emotional health.


We need to feed our horses clean, healthy feed with properly balanced nutrients; make sure their water is free from contaminants; carefully detox their systems with professional guidance; allow them to experience the seasons and the rhythms of day and night–to walk and run in the sunshine and the snow, in the light and in the dark; to share the company of other horses; and to reduce the stress-producing practice of confining them to stalls.


With equines as with humans, immune system health begins in the gut. And so, perhaps most importantly, we need to reduce and manage gut acidity, which contributes hugely to ill health. This acidity is caused by the nitrates, heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, and countless other pollutants in our air, water, and soil; by overly processed and sugar-laden feeds; by feeding large, concentrated meals instead of small amounts throughout the day and night; and by the stress caused by confinement.


While these are just some of the ways we can boost the immune systems of our beloved equines, I think they all boil down to one core principle: We must allow our horses to be horses by honoring their natures and their needs, and we must assist them with overcoming the environmental degradation that humans have allowed the greedy few among us to perpetuate.


I hope you will be moved to share your thoughts.

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The “I Love You” Project

The “I Love You” Project



My last post ended this way:

I wasn’t able to comfortably say “I love you” to myself today, to recognize the Divine light that is me, partly because I haven’t heard it said to me enough in my life, especially as a child, when it mattered most. I imagine I am not alone in this.

I am going to practice. I am going to try to say “I love you” to others more often. Maybe this will help to heal a broken place in someone else, help others to see the Divine light that is them. Maybe it will help me to recognize the Divine light in myself as well.

Ha! My mind is already giving me a list of reasons why this is not a good idea. But I am going to try it anyway.

(If you would like to read the post, you can find it here.)


I am happy to report that I not only tried it but that it becomes easier and more rewarding each day. My challenge began on December 20. Since it was so close to Christmas, which many of my friends and family members celebrate, it was the perfect time to make some phone calls to people who, for various reasons, I had lost contact with.

I called one of my stepbrothers, someone I haven’t heard from for about three years. He never answers his phone, so I left a message. I told him I missed him. I said that it would be great if he called but that if he chose not to, that was OK. I wished him a Merry Christmas. I told him I loved him. He didn’t call me back, but that’s OK. He knows that I love him. And it felt good to tell him.

I also called a second cousin who lost her husband two years ago. I called her after her loss, of course, but we have never been close and haven’t spoken since. I called to wish her a Merry Christmas (I usually just send a card) and to tell her I love her. I left a message. She didn’t call back, but that didn’t bother me. She knows that I love her. And it felt good to tell her.

I called a friend who is going through a difficult time and walked away from our 20-year friendship a year ago. We send email greetings at holidays and birthdays, but that’s all. I called to wish her a Merry Christmas and to tell her that I love her. I called when I knew she’d be at work so as not to make her uncomfortable. She didn’t call back, but she sent a beautiful e-card and acknowledged the call. She didn’t say “I love you.” But that’s OK. She knows that I love her. And somehow I felt that my telling her may have brought her a moment of peace.

I realize that at this point, my summary may not be too inspiring, but just the act of saying “I love you” to people who I love brought me both energy and a deep sense of well-being. And, never fear, I did connect with quite a few people.

I called a friend I’d lost touch with over the past year, also to wish her and her family a Merry Christmas and to tell her I love her. She called back; we caught up a bit and set a date to get together.

I emailed another stepbrother, a young man who I’d fallen out of touch with but had recently reconnected with. (My father married five times; I have siblings all over the country, some who prefer not to be found.) I wished my brother a Merry Christmas and much luck in the new year with his job search. I told him that I love him. I was gifted with a silly, sweet response.

A hug and an “I love you” from a newer friend prompted me to return the “I love you,” without hesitation or embarrassment and has opened the way for a deeper relationship.

And I began saying “I love you” to my horses as I leave the barn each night. I’ve always said, “Goodbye, sweeties; see you tomorrow.” But I’ve added, “I love you,” just for the practice. It is difficult to explain the feeling of standing in the winter cold, under a dark sky, and sending my quiet “I love you” out into the paddock where my horses are munching their hay. While it does not seem to have an effect on them, the practice is deeply satisfying to me.

Please understand, I have not been grabbing strangers in the grocery store and proclaiming my love for them. I have not, in other words, lost my mind. I am just telling people who I love that I love them. A very small thing. A very big thing.

After just a few days of making sure I said “I love you” to a human at least once, I was able to say “I love you” to myself with no pain, no embarrassment, no feeling of inadequacy. Each day, it gets easier, and I have even been able to add my name to the end: “I love you, Pam,” a practice that seems to be grounding me in ways I hadn’t expected, seems to be slowing me down just a little bit and helping me to feel a stronger, and lovely, connection with others. A small internal shift, subtle yet profound.

I feel more loved. I can only hope that others do as well. There is no downside to this practice, so I’ve decided to make it permanent.

Would you be willing to begin an I Love You Project of your own? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  If you have received this post as an email, just click on the title to reply.





Loving Yourself

Loving Yourself




December 19 – “Say ‘I love  you’ to yourself and mean it.”


The Calendar of Care was created by the minister of my faith community, who shared it with the congregation on the first day of December with the reminder that December can be a hectic time, both joyful and sad, filled with expectation, some realistic, some not, and that we, all of us, need to take good care of ourselves during this month.

I recognized that I do many of the daily suggestions routinely, others from time to time, and others not nearly often enough.

Overall, I’ve enjoyed the daily challenges:

  • Notice something beautiful and pay close attention to it.
  • Make a date with someone you’ve been meaning to spend time with.
  • Stop at least twice today and just breathe deeply.
  • Reflect for a moment on your greatest joy.
  • Write down three things for which you feel grateful.

But “Say I love you to yourself and mean it”? I had a feeling that this one would be tough.

I waited to give it a try until my daily Reiki self-healing practice. With my hands lightly on my chest, I began to think the words, but hesitated. My intellect kicked in, allowing me to tell myself that I’m a good person, an often kind person, a generous person, a compassionate person more often than not. I could list these traits, but could not for the life of me take that leap into love.

I continued with my hands-on self-healing. When I had finished, I insisted that I say the words aloud: “I love you, Pam.”

Ugh. Who knew it would be this hard? Overcome with emotion, a feeling of unworthiness, I grabbed a warm blanket and took a nap.


Our nation is grieving. The latest massacre. Twenty-six people gunned down in the blink of an eye, the beat of a heart. Babies.

Our babies massacred every day, across our beloved country, in cities and suburbs and rural towns.


I open my Reiki classes with a welcome that ends with these words:

The world is in great need of healing. Let us begin with ourselves.

We, all of us, know that the road to healing is love, that love is the only way forward. There are those who are so twisted with anger and fear that they have lost sight of this truth, but in their hearts, they know it, too.

We are all children of the Divine. All of us: two-legged, four-legged, winged, scaled. We need to recognize the Divine in each other. This is not easy in a culture that preaches division. It takes practice, but it can be done. Healing is possible. When we recognize the Divine in each other, we can take action as a community to protect each other, support each other, care for each other.

I wasn’t able to comfortably say “I love you” to myself today, to recognize the Divine light that is me, partly because I haven’t heard it said to me enough in my life, especially as a child, when it mattered most. I imagine I am not alone in this.

I am going to practice. I am going to try to say “I love you” to others more often. Maybe this will help to heal a broken place in someone else, help others to see the Divine light that is them. Maybe it will help me to recognize the Divine light in myself as well.

Ha! My mind is already giving me a list of reasons why this is not a good idea. But I am going to try it anyway.


I hope you will be moved to share your thoughts.

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Thank You, Denise

Thank You, Denise



Many years ago, when I was in my twenties and living in San Francisco, holiday meals were always at Denise’s. Fifteen or 20 of us would pile into her apartment with appetizers and side dishes and wine and sweets–or, if we couldn’t afford it, just our hungry selves– to accompany whatever gorgeous main dish she had prepared. None of us, including Denise, were from California. All of us had made the pilgrimage to the West Coast, has left families back East. Holidays could have been a lonely time. But because of her generosity and joyful light, they never were.


On holidays, Denise, who was no older than the rest of us, was our Earth Mother. She created a space for us to enjoy some of the best holidays I ever had—before or since. I remember sitting in her kitchen eating Ritz crackers and cream cheese (something my organic-eating self would never have eaten at home, but loving every single mouthful of) while she cooked and told stories and laughed. Denise was from Guatemala, had had a tough childhood, had lived in grinding poverty, but it was some time before she shared that with me, and I would have never guessed.


My beautiful white dog, Shambalah, was always invited. She was the only four-legged who was. Denise lived by the park where I walked Shambalah, and on weekends we would sometimes stop in to visit with Denise, who would always coo and fuss over Shambalah for minutes before looking up with her brilliant smile and asking me how I was. Once, only once, I stopped by Denise’s without Shambalah. I never made that mistake again.


We were friends in the days before Facebook, before the Internet, before personal computers. I moved from San Francisco, to New Mexico, to New Jersey, and finally back home to Chicago. Somewhere on that trip back home, I lost my address book. I lost all of my school buddies, all of my work buddies. I lost everyone. Including Denise.


I think of Denise from time to time, especially at holidays. Much of my young, and even not-so-young, adult life was spent in turmoil, in sadness, in depression. Holidays could be a dark time. And so I thank Denise for the beautiful memories, for her kindness, her generosity. And I thank her for showing all of us, for showing me, the true meaning of the holidays, the true meaning of family.


I am a happy person now, but I know many are not. Many are lonely and afraid, hungry, ill, homeless. This holiday season, and throughout the year, I will do my best to share the little piece of Denise that will always live in my heart.



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Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks



Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, but today, on the suggestion of a dear friend, I got a head start. I began a gratitude list.

As I do my daily Reiki self-healing, I recite the five precepts, often pausing at the third—“Just for today, I will give thanks for my many blessings”—and listing the people, things, and circumstances I am thankful for: good health, a roof over my head, my beautiful animal companions, my vibrant and loving faith community.

But creating a list, sitting in the barn with my horses and a note pad and just writing, writing, writing, was a new experience. As the list grew, the smile in my heart grew.

Last week was brutal. The loss of daylight coupled with the low, low, low barometric pressure that accompanied Sandy (yes, even here in the Midwest), the connection to the fear and grief so many were experiencing hundreds of miles away on the East Coast,  plus the resurgence of a few personal demons I thought I had shown the door made for a week scarred by tears and even, at times, an empty sense of despair.

But here I was writing a list of things I am grateful for, and the list just kept growing, item after item after item: a safe barn; my horses, Tara and Fuersti; my beloved dog, Elika; my generous mother who has helped me through some troubled times; my sister, Dian; my Reiki teacher, Diane Stammer, who passed some years ago; high school and college friends I have reunited with on Facebook (Maria and Sammie and David and Teri); my writing classes; a barn full of hay; avocados in winter; the right to vote; healthy food; my computer; the Internet.

And I even dared to be grateful for the positive qualities that make me, me: my questioning mind; my creativity; my resourcefulness; my ability to forgive; my ability to hear.

Old friends, new friends, cell phones, the glorious diversity of nature, good music, good books, the spirit world, black beans and rice.


Just a fraction of what I wrote sitting on a bench in the barn, the night air chilled, the sweet breath of my horses, the promise of another day.


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Sitting in the passenger seat of my neighbor’s truck as it crawled down the road, hazard lights flashing, I was starting to hyperventilate. The barn door had blown open in the fierce wind, and my two horses, Tara and Fuersti, had run the length of the barn aisle and out the front door. I called to them, but they didn’t stop. As they headed for the neighbor’s yard, I grabbed my phone, a halter and lead rope.


They didn’t stop in the neighbors’ yard. They took off across an adjoining corn field that had just been harvested, nothing left but pale yellow stubble. An endless field, acre upon acre upon acre bordering a busy road. It was dusk; very soon it would be dark.


They disappeared. Vanished. I simply could not see them, had no idea where they had gone. I dialed 911, got a recorded message that my call could not go through as dialed. What?


I ran to the neighbors’ house, knocked on the patio door. Carolyn was washing dinner dishes, just finishing up, and she smiled and opened the back door. We had only met once before. I live in town; these are my horses’ neighbors. And my horses have only lived here for a few months.


“My horses got out,” I said, breathless.” I don’t know where they are. I can’t get 911 on my phone. They could be headed for the road.” My terror was so thick, I couldn’t even feel the fear. It was reduced to a piercing thought: They could be killed on that road.


Carolyn handed me her home phone, and I dialed 911. The operator connected me to the Sheriff’s department. I said, “My horses are out; they could be headed for McGuire Road.”


A busy road at rush hour.  And even when it isn’t so busy, the speed limit is 55. Traffic speeds by at 60. Easy.


The operator said, annoyed, “I don’t know what we can do for you.” I wanted to reach through the phone and slap sense into her frozen brain. I said, “What you can do is send an officer out here to help me find them. They could be on McGuire Road!” What was wrong with this woman? What on earth was wrong with her? Did she not understand that not only were my horses at risk but that a human could die in a collision with a 1200-pound animal?


Carolyn’s husband, Ron, grabbed his coat and said he would drive me around in his truck, help me find them. Carolyn stood sentry in the driveway the two properties share. Before we got into the truck, Ron and I walked to the edge of their yard and looked into the corn field, in the direction Fuersti and Tara had run. There was still a little bit of light, not much. We didn’t see them.


And so we drove slowly, slowly up and down the busy road, my mind tripping over itself. What if they are on the road? What if they’ve already been hit? What if they just kept running? “They could be anywhere,” I said, field after field after empty field.


We pulled into a neighbor’s yard, and I ran to the door, knocked. The woman peered through the glass, didn’t want to open the door—did I look that scary?—but she finally did. She had horses, said she would check out back and see if mine were hanging out there. I gave her my cell number, asked her to call if she saw them.


I jumped back in the truck, and Ron and I drove back down the driveway to McGuire Road, spotted the Sheriff’s police car and pulled up next to it, its searchlight piercing the darkening fields. I told the officer they were my horses we were looking for. She seemed bored. She said she had my number. A minute or so later, she was gone.


“These horses are my life,” I said. Ron nodded.


We circled back to our shared driveway. Carolyn had not seen them. We headed back onto the road. I didn’t know what do to. I did not know what to do. I started to hyperventilate.


Then I caught myself. I said to Ron, “You know, I’m an animal communicator.” Had it slipped my mind? Had I forgotten who I was?


Oh? he said. I sensed he didn’t know what to make of that.


I calmed my breath, my heart. I found my still center. “Fuersti,” I said, “where are you?”


He said, “Oh, we’re not far.” And then he showed me where they were.


I said to Ron, “They didn’t cross the road. They’re not far.” I pointed. “They’re over there.”


He pulled onto a dirt road that ran through the corn field adjacent to his house. As soon as we pulled in, I saw Tara and Fuersti in the headlights.


They were jazzed up from the wind and the run, full of adrenaline— but I was finally able to get a rope around Tara’s neck and begin to walk her out of the field. Fuersti followed. It was completely dark now. Ron kindly led me back across the field, through his yard, and to the barn and then held Tara in the front yard while I got a rope for Fuersti. Then he led Tara inside, waited until they were both safely in the arena, the gate latched.


I offered him a ride back to his truck, but he said, “No, stay with your horses; I’m fine.” I threw my arms around him. “Thank you. Thank you. You are the best neighbors I have ever had.”


Tara and Fuersti looked at me impatiently, like, OK, we’re here now, so where’s our food? As though nothing had happened. Nothing.


“Jerk,” I said to Fuersti, the instigator. Tara would never have done this on her own.


“You’re a jerk, Fuersti,” I said, my heart swelling with relief, with love.


Not 10 minutes latter, as they were munching their dinner in the arena and I had finished spreading their nighttime hay in the paddock, a cold rain began to fall. It was pitch black now. No moon, no stars. Dark and cold and wet. And we, all of us, were safe.




I have fixed the latch, so the barn door can’t blow open again.


I brought flowers to my beautiful neighbors.


And I will try my best to remember this: Enveloped in a cloud of fear, I couldn’t see, couldn’t hear, could barely breathe. But when I found that still, quiet place inside of me, I knew exactly where to go.



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A few days ago a former Reiki student, a beautiful, loving woman who is devoted to the well-being of animals in distress, a woman who I am now honored to call friend, sent me a link to an incredibly moving video: In Memory of Ol’ Boy.

Ol’ Boy was a stray dog who had lived on the streets his whole life. He was found, ill and in pain, on the last day of his life.

The care that he received—not veterinary care, which he also received—but loving care, was exquisite in its tender mercy. Especially moving was the ritual treatment of his body after his passing.


I was so pleased that the services of a communicator had been used and Ol Boy’s wishes followed without question.

In my many years as a communicator, I have learned that the animals have strong opinions about whether they are ready to leave and whether they need assistance. But we need to ask them. And we need to listen to their response.


To me, this gorgeous video is not only about the mercy extended to one dying animal, but raises questions about the ways we can extend mercy to others in our daily lives. Just watching it softened my heart and helped me to walk more softly through the day.

Here’s the link:–1943.html


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A quiet evening in the barn, the air cool, the wind soft in the trees outside the door, I watch with delight as my two horses, Tara and her brother Fuersti, groom each other after dinner.


Fuersti has begun the ritual, as he most often does, approaching his sister and nibbling on her withers. She positions herself so she can nibble back. Eventually, they stand head to tail, nibbling each other’s hips, flanks.



My horses were born outside and have lived outside their whole lives, with free-choice hay, only coming into stalls to eat twice a day. But at the barn we moved to a few months ago, I don’t even bring them into stalls. I just invite them into the arena, lay down two tarps and place their feed dishes on those. It took a few weeks of close monitoring, but now they leave each other’s food alone, each sticking to her or his own space, only coming together after their meal.


While they have groomed each other for much, if not all, of their lives, the after-meal ritual is new. And I am both honored and delighted to witness it.


Make no mistake, while there is tenderness here, there are also teeth, and great concentration. While I have never before interrupted them, on this evening, I approach Fuersti to give him a sizeable glob of food he has dropped. This is a horse who loves his food, who will do just about anything for food. Yet, when I hold my hand out to share the leftovers, he does not even look. He is in another place, gently and intensely tending to his sister’s flank.



Some years ago, when Tara and Fuersti were very young, before they were “mine,” when they were living with their mothers on a small farm that I watched over for a couple of years, I went into the barn late one night to get hay to spread in the paddock and to check on everyone. The horses could freely walk in and out of one end of the barn. Tara’s mother, Kinsale, was there, napping. I greeted her, reached over the gate to rub her head, and then joined her on the other side, scratching her withers and back. Tara soon joined us, and then Willie, Fuersti’s mom.


So here we were, the four female inhabitants of the farm, in a circle, grooming each other. I was scratching and gently rubbing Kinsale, who was grooming Tara, who was grooming Willie. I explained to Willie that I didn’t really want her teeth on me, so she turned and groomed Tara as well.


After a few calm and beautiful minutes, Fuersti, suddenly realizing he was alone outside, came charging into the barn. He never walked in those days; he was always in rapid motion, something akin to a hurricane.


“What are we doing?” he seemed to say. “Oh, we’re grooming?” and then, not wanting to be left out, launched himself into the circle and begin biting—hard—on his mother, which resulted in him getting bitten back, the circle completely falling apart, and me quickly moving myself to the other side of the gate while they worked things out.


Ah, Fuersti.



Watching him now makes my heart sing. He is so tender, so kind. His sister has put up with so much nonsense from him over the years, it is a joy to see her cared for in this way.


The sun is setting, the arena is darkening. I open the gate, and they go out, begin munching hay against the backdrop of the pink sky. A few birds call out on their way home for the night. A coyote howls. My heart is full.



For a moment, I wonder how life would be if humans routinely shared their own after-meal ritual of tenderness.



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