May 8, 2022
12 min read
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3 Lessons from a Bird Named Charlie

What wisdom have you gleaned from a wild animal?

What Animals Teach Us...Meet Charlie

Last spring this adorable gray and white bird started showing up in our yard.

At first I didn't think much of this little guy, but then I started noticing patterns.

He would visit me every afternoon, and it seemed as if he was doing just that.


Most birds I encounter don't pay much attention to me, but this one was different. He would flutter in close circles, landing on different branches and chirp as if he was telling me all about his day. He was incredibly friendly and kept me company as I mulched the fruit trees or weeded the garden.

Since he was willing to get so close, one day I grabbed my camera and started taking photos, and before I knew it, he became Charlie.

Over the course of a month or so, I took dozens of photos of Charlie.

He was genuinely good company, and he inspired me to research and learn more about this bird type, the Eastern Phoebe.

Guess what Eastern Phoebe birds are known for?

Being social. DING DING DING! The phoebe is also said to represents hidden knowledge & wisdom.

At this point we were still deep in the pandemic and lockdown. I started to reflect on what Charlie was trying to teach me. This also could have been my brain desperately looking for interaction and my imagination running wild after too many months on lockdown, but either way I surfaced with 3 different lessons that Charlie taught me, and how I could apply them to my life.

Three Lessons Charlie Taught Me That You Can Apply to Your Life Too:

  1. Consistency matters, just show up! 
  2. Being social is important
  3. There is wisdom in everything around us

1. Consistency Matters, Just Show Up! 

Have you ever bailed on something you committed to? 

A social gathering, a birthday party, a family event? Being on the receiving end of someone who bails last minute sucks, so if I commit, I really try and follow through.

Now that being said, I used to be a YES woman, and I've been practicing boundaries over the years and have delivered a lot of (polite) no thank yous..

The philosophy I now live by is:

"If it's not a HELL YES, it's a no."

I don't commit to things just to say yes or make someone else happy, especially if I want to bail before I even get here. Consistency matters so if you say you're going to be somewhere or do something, just do it, but commit for the right reasons.

People pleasing doesn't serve anyone in the long run.

More on the note of consistency, if you are building an audience online; a brand, a business and you say you're going to do something, it's really important to follow through. For example, if I say I'm going to mail you a weekly newsletter every Friday, but I miss two weeks and I don't get it out until Monday, my accountability goes down and you're likely going to invest your time with someone else.

Charlie taught me that by showing up every afternoon, consistency matters. Just show up, and let those you love know they can count on you.

Charlie posing on the birds of paradise in our backyard.

2. Socialize Baby! 

During the pandemic we all got a little weird, obviously for the right reasons as we had to stay safe and avoid the spread of this insane virus. But as we emerged, many of us stayed a little weird.

And truthfully, I think many of us are still struggling with how to fit back in and feel normal around strangers again.

This morning I went surfing and started chatting it up with the guy next to me.

Originally from Mexico, Jose has lived in the states for 10 years, rescues Mexican street dogs and brings them over the border to give them a great home. He surfs around the world, lived in Indo for a year and has his own carpentry business. We talked about farming and so much more in just a brief 20 minute conversation.

When he walked away I thought to myself, man, I really miss talking to strangers! 

For some people reading this, talking to complete strangers might freak you out. Pandemic or not, talking to strangers has always fueled me.

I LOVE asking questions and getting to know people. I suppose that's why I had a podcast and published 80 episodes in my former life.

You have to be comfortable showing up, finding the balance between small talk and meaningful dialogue, consider it one big salsa dance.

If you're looking to get social but don't know where to start, below are three things I've practiced in the past that have helped me:

  1. If you work from home, go to a coffee shop instead, even for 1-2 hours of your workday.
  2. Join a local meet-up or volunteer group (this changed my life, thank you Surfrider Foundation!)
  3. Join a local community garden

After Charlie had paid me several visits and I finally hopped on Google to research the Eastern Phoebe, the social aspect was staring me right in the face. I forced myself to make some 'safe' social dates with friends I hadn't seen in two years, and I always walk away from those dates filled up.

3. There is Wisdom in Everything Around Us:

You may be wondering what happened to Charlie bird. I can give you one guess?

Being social and getting close was a risk, specifically for my cat Onyx. I always worried Charlie would be an easy target for Onxy, and of course one day that was the case. Even though this was 'just' a wild bird, I cried for days.

It was a weird experience, developing rapport with a wild animal and then having to say goodbye.

Many of you may have seen the movie 'My Octopus Teacher,' Charlie was my own version of this story.

I also can't fault Onyx because when we rescued him off the streets of LA, he was skinny and beat up, doing his best to survive every day after likely being dumped. His diligent hunting is what kept him alive before we took him in and gave him a home.

I learned so many lessons in the short time I spent with Charlie, and I'm so grateful I captured some photos of him. We've had Eastern Phoebes visit our yard over the last year, but none of them have been like Charlie, which reinforces how unique he was.

Since we starting building Teaquila Farm, I have definitely slowed down and paid more attention to the widsom that is around me, in the plants, the animals, the soil, the water and more.

I'd love to hear where or how you have found wisdom over the past year, and what that has looked like for you. Leave a comment here and let me know!

Thanks for reading,

Stacie & Chad

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