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Email Terri Steuben or call 714-875-7194.



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About these stories…

My stories here are all true—and some contain messages from the animal world that we humans need to know. There is something special about each story, whether it happened in my neighborhood, with a client or during one of my disaster-response deployments.  I hope you find them heartwarming and enriching.


Greta and the Mighty Pelicans

Have you ever touched a pelican, let alone held one? I have—and it was a wonderful experience. When I share with you what happened to me, I think the pelicans will move your heart as much as they moved mine. Enjoy!

My Reiki Master, Ruth, called me one day and asked if I’d like to join her to donate our Reiki skills to help some pelicans that had been shipped to an Irvine, California, shelter. They had all come from the Salton Sea in the Mojave Desert, and they all had botulism. (On an annual basis, the Salton Sea gets extremely hot. The fish ingest bad bacteria in the hot water; the pelicans eat the fish and become sick with the botulism.) I said, “Sure, Ruth” before I could catch it coming out of my mouth. At the time, I had my level two in Reiki and had been practicing for about six months.

I met Ruth on a Friday at her house and off we headed. As we entered the shelter, I could see the beautiful birds. Pelicans are not small. They are about three-and-a-half feet tall and their wings can extend up to six or seven feet. And I was supposed to do Reiki on them? “Oh my!” That’s all that came out of my mouth. But somehow I knew I had to face my fear and help these beautiful birds. I also knew that I really wanted the experience of touching and holding one of these magnificent birds.

We entered the area where the sickest pelicans were kept. It was very sad. Some of the great birds were so sick they were put in an inner tube to help hold them up. The veterinarian still wasn’t sure about the Reiki, but he did know that the ones who got the Reiki were healing much faster than the ones who didn’t.

Ruth touched the veterinarian’s shoulder and informed him that she had brought one of her students (me), which meant more pelicans could be helped. He looked me up and down with that “whatever” expression on his face and left us alone to do our work. Ruth showed me how to hold one of the pelicans, putting one hand on the heart and the other on the top of the back.

I thought it was interesting they were all wild birds, but someone had named each of them as they came in to the shelter. That day I was able to help four different pelicans, but the most interesting story came from Greta.

Greta Shares Her Fears for Her Family

Greta looked like she could be ornery. I could tell she was on the downhill side of her botulism. Greta wanted to know why she was here and what had happened to her. I told her when the lake got hot, there were botulism bugs in the water; the fish ate them, then Greta ate the fish and that’s what made her sick. Greta said, “The lake? The lake! Oh no, my family is at the lake!”

In that moment, it was like I shifted somehow and I was looking through her eyes at the Salton Sea. (You know the Salton Sea when you see it because it is quite desolate. I went there once, though I can’t recall why; maybe it was so I would remember it for just this moment.) Through Greta, I could see other pelicans playing in the water.

Greta was gliding oh so close to the water—if she just dropped her feet, she would crash into it. Then suddenly, Greta wouldn’t move and couldn’t really stand. People came and put her in a cage. It was dark. She was in the darkness for what seemed like forever. Then she was at this place (the shelter), where people poked her with sharp things. “It hurt,” Greta exclaimed. I explained that the people who came and took her from the lake were helping her. Their needles were to help her get well—they had helpful medicine in them. I also told her that as soon as she was better, these people would take her to the ocean—not far from where we were now—and set her free again. Greta seemed fine with that answer until she thought about her family. Then I felt great sadness and an empty feeling come over me that was, and still is, unexplainable. Finally, Greta said, “What about my family? I need to warn them, help them. I must go!” Tears began to run down my cheeks, feeling her sadness and knowing that she wasn’t going to be able to do that.

I told Greta that she had to first heal well enough to travel. Then I shared what I had heard: 800 pelicans had been transported to the shelter and 35 were sent on to Sea World in San Diego. Many pelicans had already crossed over to heaven, and the outlook was not good for most of the others. Hearing this truth, of course, didn’t help her, but I’ve never been one to lie. I told her it was quite possible that her family was already here or had gotten well and been released nearby. She felt hopeful with that thought but I could feel the heaviness in her heart. We both cried a long time that day.

When I separated my Reiki energy from Greta, she thanked me for being honest with her and telling her the truth about what had happened. I tried to show her visually how to get to my house and that there are pelicans very close by. I told her she was welcome at my place any day, and I would look for her to visit when she was well. She said she’d like that. She also said she might go home and tell the others—and tell them they must leave the Salton Sea forever.

Greta was released in Laguna Beach one week later. I hoped she would go warn her family and all the other pelicans and lead them back here to our coastline where their food is safer.

Near my house is a huge park and flood channel where the pelicans fly over looking for food. And yes, when I saw them in the weeks after helping Greta, I couldn’t help wonder where my friend might be and just when she would come for that visit. I had this vision of her flying down the channel with all her friends and family safe and sound, smiling as they make their way toward the ocean. I would often wish her well, thinking: “My friend, Greta, I hope you are safe, healthy, happy and with your family. Yes, I’m still keeping an eye out looking for you! Be safe, my friend, be safe.”

Greta Returns for a Visit

A year and a half later, I was standing in my back yard weeding the herb garden when, all of a sudden, I felt this familiar presence above me. I couldn’t help but look up to see who it was—and I couldn’t believe my eyes! Above me was a flock of beautiful white pelicans…20 of them flying in a V shape. I could feel the familiar presence at the front of the V. “Oh! My God!” I thought. It was my old friend Greta. (Once you’ve talked to the vibration of an animal, you never forget it—especially one like Greta.)

I could hear Greta saying to the others in the flock, “There she is, the lady who helped me and told me to bring you here.” The whole flock circled six times while she told them about the day she and I met. Tears were running down my cheeks as I heard her again say, “My Family is there! I have to go get them!” I waved up at all the beautiful white pelicans as they circled above. What a beautiful sight and what a wonderful feeling in my heart—I now knew for certain that Greta had survived and indeed had gotten back to her flock. I could feel the sincerity from all of them and my heart was just singing with joy. I could hardly believe what I was seeing, but they were really there. On their final circle, they all followed Greta down the concrete riverbed to the ocean. What a wonderful day in my life!

I thought that would be the last time I would see my friend Greta, since the pelicans were safe. I was wrong. Every fall since, her offspring and their flock have come back. The pelicans just seem to know when I’m outside, and at least three of them fly over my house in a V shape and circle six times. It’s as if they still tell the story of how the pelicans got here and how Greta saved them. I find myself looking in the sky when fall begins, waiting for my friends to come say, “Hi.” And I’m so very pleased each and every time they do.

Copyright 2019 Terri Steuben • Site credits