6 March 2017

The Power Of Empathy: The Noble Spirit

The Noble Spirit

In the Kabbalah, God gives his people only one commandment: give the weak and the poor hope. Animals speak to empathy, they take us out of ourselves and teach us how to love and connect with other living beings. They remind me that empathy, not power or money or security, are central to our moral universe.

We celebrate empathy as the hallmark of a noble spirit, a pillar of social justice, the pathway to our highest human potential.

Empathy is the foundation of our very humanity, of what it means to be human. At the Mansion, I see the proud and powerful spirits, radiant and present even in their aging bodies and diminished circumstances. Herman is just learning to walk confidently again, bu his heart and spirit are young and pure.

With a baby goat in his arms, Herman reveals empathy, a noble spirit, one filled with love and caring. Empathy fuels connection, it is very different from sympathy,says psychologist Brene Brown, which sets people apart and disconnects them from one another.


I'm proud and happy to report that the Mansion Van drive on gofundme fund has reached $9,660 in just over one week. These contributions – most of them are $10, $$20, and $25, come in one after another, it was miraculous to watch them keep coming in.  We only have $340 to go to reach the goal of $10,000. The remaining $10,000 needed will be provided by the owner of the Mansion, George Scala. It should be here by the end of next week.

The van is the resident's lifeline to the outside world, as well as their medical care and families. The other world is just outside of the Mansion's boundaries, but only accessible via a specially equipped van. Take a look at the gofundme project, we are just about there. Thanks, thanks.

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Peggy’s Smile

Peggy's Smile

It is so important for the Mansion residents to feel close to life, to the young, to something to nurture and love. It opens them up in a very particular way, I can see how good it is for them. Peggy could scarcely wait her turn to hold one of the baby goats, I'm not sure if the black one has been named yet or not.

Peggy's smile comes rushing up out of her whole body. It is radiant and full of life. The goat seemed to like it also. They are smart, these babies, they followed us around all through the Mansion. Treasure kept rushing them outside so they could eliminate there.

This visit was a lot of fun. Treasure and her baby goats are a natural therapy community all their own.

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Connie: Loyal To Red, But Loving The Baby

Loyal To Red

Connie was very happy to cuddle a baby goat, but she was intensely loyal to Red, keeping an eye on him and petting him. Red was unnerved by the baby goats, he kept away from them. He wasn't used to being second fiddle, but he took it in strike and he usually does, and Connie was careful to keep reaching out and petting him. Red was glad to get out of there. He couldn't figure out what the goats were or what to do about them.

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Herman’s Big Heart. He and Screaming Mimi Fall In Love

Herman's Heart

Herman,a former dairy farmer and goat lover and owner, has been struggling in recent months to get out of his former nursing home and onto his feet and into the Mansion. He made it, but it is not simple or easy for him. He lost a great amount of weight and had a number of serious falls.

He is learning to walk confidently.

I know he was a goat lover and asked Treasure if he might come down to the bottom floor and bring her goats to meet this sweet and big-hearted man. The connection  with the week-old Screaming Mimi (Treasure and her partner Donna breed miniature goats) was instant and magical, beyond my expectations. The goat, more than a week old, just fell in love with Herman, it was as if she had known him all of her life.

She was completely at ease lying over his heart. She lay down on his chest and didn't move.

Herman was deeply affected by her, he teared up a bit and every few seconds, kissed her on the forehead. She went to sleep on his chest, she just took to him instantly. An active and curious animal, she did not move.

I could see how wonderful this was for  him, how much it lit him up, touched so many emotions.

Herman shows everyone his mug, with his old cat painted on it. He raised goats for years, he was overjoyed to be with Screaming Mimi, we let them be together for more than a half hour. Treasure has agreed to keep visiting the Mansion and Herman, the staff was thrilled at how much she brought him up and left him so happy.

The goats affected him deeply, even more than Red. Goats were a huge part of his life, it is important for him to have made this connection today.

This is something he can really look forward to, something that connects him to his past and is where his heart obviously was. Dairy farmers are among the most impassioned animal lovers I have ever seen, and it must be an awful loss for them to leave all of that behind them.

From now on, he can look forward to seeing some goats regularly. Get him up and moving.

This was one of the most powerful emotional moments of my therapy work, I was grateful to be there to see it. I am touched by Herman, he has as big a heart as there is.

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Treasure Storms The Mansion With Baby Goats

Treasure Storms The Mansion

Treasure Wilkinson came over the house the other day with a newborn baby goat, and I immediately asked her if she would join me at the Mansion on my next therapy visit with Red. She agreed instantly, and she and her daughter Jessica were a major   sensation.

Treasure knows how to talk to people and her goats followed us around all over the building, visiting animal lovers and some goat lovers. We had a riotous hour there, Treasure is an explosive and loving personality and the residents could not get enough of her and the baby goats.

Treasure has a great gift for connecting with people and for talking openly and sensitively to them. She has a huge heart. More photos to come. She is going to visit the Mansion once a week from now on.

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