It's been a long summer and as I face the summer's end I've begun additional research on dolphins, the focus animal of the Lowcountry Summer Trilogy. I'm hoping to spark new inspiration as I push through the end of the storyline, The Summer's End.  Writing is a lonely, confined, indoor activity.  For the past several months I've cut out activities and have been spending way too much time locked inside while outside my windows the seasons change.  I feel tense, uneasy, like a balloon about to pop.
I miss walking the beach.  I long to go out and stand on the Hunley bridge over Breach Inlet seeking out dolphins.  I miss my sea turtles that have left my island on their solitary journeys in the great sea. My only escape lately is to go out to my butterfly garden.  I rush outside multiple times a day, just long enough to steal a moment from my computer to search milkweed leaves for monarch eggs, feed the growing caterpillars and, perhaps, release a newly emerged butterfly to the garden.  Sometimes I just stand quietly and watch the sweet new monarch join the other butterflies to dance on the flowers, feeling the sun on my face. 

Yet, most of the time I'm  trapped indoors.  And it has been raining...a lot.  I feel a disconnect with nature--with the infinite vast and wild that takes my breath away and fills my soul.  Too much confinement makes me feel uneasy and agitated.  I'm out of sorts.  But... my deadline looms over my head (and I know y'all want the next book!) so I dutifully persevere.   

Which brings me to this morning.

In this grumpy frame of mind, I began prowling my library, digging through tomes for some new inspiration for this trilogy that is set against the adorably intelligent and compassionate dolphins.  I didn't know exactly what I was searching for but knew what I sought would be found in a spiritual realm rather than factual.  My hand fell on Ted Andrew's book Animal Speak. I paused.  Joseph Campbell stated that artists were the shamans of today and I believe this is true.  We must trust our intuition.  

I pulled out this book that is a dictionary of animal symbolism and the spiritual powers in all creatures, great and small.  These symbols are sometimes called totems. Since prehistoric times images have helped us transcend the physical to ascertain the spiritual.  To honor nature and to embody its wisdom in our lives.  Shamans believed that every species, every aspect of our natural world had the power to remind us of what we should manifest in our own lives.  They often dressed in animal costume to elicit the sense of wonder, even magic.  Shamans performed rituals that were tied into the rhythms of the seasons to bridge the natural world to the supernatural and offer richer, deeper meaning to their lives.

I can't say I fully understand how this connection to the spiritual power of nature works.  I do believe, however, that one can gain insights into one's life's journey and purpose by simply paying attention to the powers that surround us in Nature.

I realize some people think this kind of thinking is just silly.  Or "woo woo."  I, too, have second-guessed the messages I've heard, or ignored my intuition and the instincts that flared in my gut.  Too many times I've regretted not paying attention to the signals.  Never, however, have I regretted listening. 

Over the past twenty five years I've worked with many different species and I am confident that our connections with nature--both physical and spiritual--are essential to our well being.  And that they are just as powerful today in our modern era as they were in ancient times, if we only open our minds and hearts to what is possible.  We need this inclusive wisdom, perhaps even more today than ever before. 

So, this morning I grabbed the book Animal Speak for no apparent reason.  Just an intuitive hunch.  I searched for the totem dolphin because I thought surely the dolphin would be my current messenger.  Here is what the passage said:

"If dolphin has shown up as a totem, ask yourself some important questions.  What are your words and thoughts creating for you?  If unsure, when dolphin arises you will soon discover. Are you getting outside and enjoying fresh air? Are you holding in tensions? Are others? When dolphin shows up it is time to breathe some new life into yourself. Get out, play, explore, and most of all breathe."

 Just breathe!

I had to smile, even laugh!  I believe this is no mere coincidence.  Yes, I could easily explain it as such.  But to do so would be to deny the intuitive power that I believe lies within myself.  And within each of us if we open ourselves to possibility and listen.

As Andrews states, "humanity has lost that instinctive tie to the rhythms and patterns of Nature."  I wonder if we are so caught up in our technology that we have lost--even deny and ridicule-- our ancient connection to the natural world?

I am listening. Today I will take a long walk in the fresh air. I will find time to laugh and play.  I will take deep breaths.  And in the quiet I will open my mind to creative ideas.  I smile, because I know the words will flow.


  1. Dolphins have always been my favorite, in part because they are so intelligent, but in recent years I have come to love the sea turtles as well, especially after experiencing their bubble up hatching on Edisto Island one August.

    1. The turtles will always hold a special place in my heart.

  2. I believe God created Nature, its patterns and rhythms, as a story for us to read. Every day illuminated colors and shapes, rhymes and narratives whittle a passage...if only we took the time to embrace the story. Through your words, Mary Alice, you have helped me take time to breathe in Nature's stories. Thank you.

  3. Enjoyed reading your blog. Thank you. I truly believe it is possible to gain insight into our lives by paying attention to the powers of nature. I also have the Animal Speak book and refer to it on a regular basis.


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All the best,
Mary Alice