We are storytellers here at A New EverAfter–and we are story listeners. We fall in love with the stories of the people we serve. That love has inspired our Storytellers Series–where we tell the story of someone important to us.
We all have something to impart. Here is the first in our Storytellers’ Series….
Teresa drew a few cards from the conversation topics deck laid out before her. Teresa and Mya have met in the Moon Room to speak, and listen to, Teresa’s story.
Mya writes in her reflection:
We look at other adults. Typically, we can assume they’ve had jobs, they have family, they
have some friends, and they probably have interests. And people often just look like people because people we don’t really know look like people we don’t really know.
But then sometimes you get an intriguing, little thread from them. And it’s the best when it’s
an unexpected thread, and you start to pull it…
HOW ARE YOU MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THIS WORLD?
“I’ve inspired people to connect with nature. People don’t make the connection anymore.”
Teresa was a Park Ranger and a Wildlife Biologist.
Working in state parks in Ohio and California, Teresa educated children and adults about nature, plants and wildlife.
“We come from nature, we are not separate from it.”
Nothing in Teresa (nor myself) can understand not wanting to be outside. We talked about how being sent outside has actually become a punishment for some children. “As kids, we were always outside.”
Me, being entirely fascinated with all that DNA contributes to who we truly are and how we live our lives, wonder how much of Teresa’s beloved connection with nature has to do with her heritage. She is part Eastern Cherokee. It’s as though nature hasn’t been breed out of her yet. Her mother was the native, which also contributes to her upbringing and the structure of her family. She explained that her mother was not only a nurse and counselor but that also her grandmother was educated also, and held a PhD. “The women in Eastern Cherokee tribes had power.” Teresa shared. But the families stayed together, as well. She explained that that was one of the differences between her parents; her father felt that when you were eighteen it was time to leave home and go start your own life, whereas within her mother’s culture, families often stayed together, regardless of age.
At eighteen, Theresa combined the two cultures. Taking the maternal strength and bravery, and the paternal coming of age pioneering spirit, she announced one day while working with her father that in a few days, she’d be moving to Alaska.
And she did.
Eventually finding her way from Alaska to California, Teresa incorporated her second love, theatre, into her love of animals there. While working in state parks in California, she began a TV show called “Coast Critters.”
But my favorite story piece to find out about in Teresa’s life is Talawahya.
Talawahya was a grey wolf whom Teresa raised and lived with for 18 years. I asked, “Are we talking like a dog? In the house, sleeping on the bed, laying on the dog?”
Teresa laughed, “Oh yeah, she slept on the bed!”
She went on to describe life with Talawahya. “Wolves need other dogs, they are pack animals.” So Teresa, the wolf and two other domestic dogs formed a pack. Teresa described life with her wolf being like life with a thirteen year old girl; everything was “constant negotiation,” she laughed, “Wolves are smart!”
What Teresa realized more and more in her life with Talawahya was very simple. Wolves are not pets. They are wild animals and deserve to live as such. She realized that while her wolf had a wonderful home, and while they had a wonderful life together, Talawahya was not able to live the life she was meant to live. Teresa teaches that the best thing we can do for wildlife is to “support them as they are” because they are wild and they deserve to be supported as such.
With our ongoing list of humanity vs the earth problems, Teresa voices her concern for wildlife, nature, and of course, bees. Again, as humans lose touch with nature, as we lose the awe and respect, we forget, as she worded it,
“When they’re gone, we’re gone.”