There’s Cardinals in Them There Trees

As a child I had a grandmother who was immensely in tune with what was happening with the birds and the flowers and nature in general.  She would take me on car rides, just to ride around and look at the poppy fields in California when they were in full bloom and we’d stop and examine interesting bird scenes.  I remember feeding the birds in her back yard, mixing up the sugar, water and food coloring for the humming birds and then waiting to see who might show up.

When I realized I was alcoholic and began my recovery journey, among the first I reached out to was this same grandmother and her husband. As I shared my pain and shame with them, they cared for me in a way only one who has been there can.  I heard many stories in that time, chief of which was the role the birds played in my grandmother’s own survivor process.

To this day every time I see a blue jay, a red headed woodpecker, a shiny black bird or even a tiny “tweety bird’ as my son calls them, I think of my grandmother and I smile at the many sweet memories I have of her letters, her stories and our experiences with the birds.

I live in an apartment that looks out into some trees. Whether I peer out my large sliding glass doors or open my front door on my way somewhere, I see trees bursting with wildlife.  Every single morning there is a male and female cardinal pair that greets us.  This same pair flits through the trees in the back, land on our balcony and have been a presence since we made the move from suburbia to apartment dwelling.

They have been a part of my support system – they landed on the balcony the first day I took possession of my apartment and just looked in at me.  Just looked and let me know I was okay.

In one month I will be moving to an apartment closer to my studio.  The trees are not there. The birds have no habitat there to hang out in.  Cardinals as an animal energy in support of all I have experienced in the last few years may be transitioning.

My heart is heavy with acceptance.

Systems, totems and support form when we need them and transition when we need to move on.  The next phase is beginning; it is time to move on.

Pay attention to these signs in your own life. What you need to feel rooted will show up and be present.  What you need to allow your transition will arrive and support you.  Be awake an aware enough to choose presence and be the co-creator of your experience, not the hapless victim.

Jennifer Murphy spends her time investigating and sharing the art of living dangerously through her work as an artist, writer and coach as she creates her own path not meeting society’s expectations, but her own.  Learn more at

When Change makes you Want to Pass Out

Times change, people change, habits change. Our reactions to change can vary and we handle them alternatingly with grace and dignity and with a foolishness befitting a pig on ice. 

Once in a while though, something will happen that will shift your energies so intensely that you will want to simply curl into a ball, shutdown and just pass out. 

But it will be there when you return. The change and the shift will be in place. 

I think what happens is that we intuitively knew it would happen, the spiritual and the physical collide and our awareness is forced to deal so the ego fights for a time. It fights the change because that is its job – to protect us from what it perceives to be harm. 

Today when I had this happen, the phrase “you knew this was coming, it was only a matter of time” just looped through my head over and over as my spiritual and mental awareness fought for a new center. I wanted to resist but also knew it was simply a change, neither bad nor good unless I assigned such energy. 

I was reminded my thoughts create my emotions and my actions and it pays to pause and get in touch with my response, not just my reaction. 

The change did flow in and become integrated. I responded rather than reacted. 

Your power lies in your thoughts. Be aware of them and you can reclaim ownership of your life one thought, emotion and action at a time. 

Jennifer Murphy is an expert on The Art of Living Dangerously: small ideas for big impact. She is a writer, artist, speaker and coach. Learn more at