I learned two important lessons with my first companion, a budgie named Charlie. Charlie was a gift through my Dad. Mom wasn't too keen on the idea of a bird in her new home. But Dad looked into my adorable 11 year old eyes and melted like butter. Which was one of my best skills back then. Charlie lived in my bedroom with me. Ground rules were set upon arrival. The first ground rule never made it to practice though. Charlie was to stay in his cage. I believed that ground rule was made simply because Mom didn't understand the magic of a Charlie.
I would help her understand the magic.
And so for 6 and some years she and I danced around issues with her biting her tongue and me not paying attention. Charlie and I built a fast and wonderful relationship. I let him out every day after school to be Charlie as Charlie saw fit. Eventually Charlie would stop perching on curtains and running around on my bed to be with me at my desk or art table. I just loved Charlie for Charlie. I never expected him to be anything more than himself.
My bedroom had 3 inch orange shag carpeting. And that carpeting had millet seed. And that was my very first lesson taught to me through Mom. Unreasonable Expectations. You had to expect millet seed in the shag carpeting. Mom did not.
Charlie taught me a language. A deep path of communication that created a language highway based on trust. Not the word trust, but the acronym. You see, trust as defined in the dictionary isn't a real thing. It's a nice idea, but impossible for humans to practice sincerely. We aren't built for it. We think we trust, but we always have reservations to it. And when you make something conditional, even in your heart privately, then you aren't trusting at all.
I'm talking about the acronym T.R.U.S.T. Which when applied to your companion relationship will create a deeper communication that results in a powerful language highway.
T. stands for TIME.
I get one question more than any other during my day; How long will it take for my bird to "XYZ"? I always answer, "I don't know, have you asked your bird?"
Parrot Time is not Human Time. Parrots live in the now. They are here, right now, doing that which they can and want to do, now. There's no later, tomorrow or next week. There's only now.
Humans qualify, store, section, collect, label, and spend time through measurements. We use seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years to store our time. We section off time through work, goals, projects and people. We view time in sections, and most of the time we aren't looking at the section we are in, we are worrying about a section that isn't here yet.
Somewhere we humans forgot the real value of time. In some cultures the elders of family and community were revered and respected simply for being old and full of wisdom. Now we put old people in buildings so they can live out the rest of their days quietly. We revered master craftsmen, scholars, teachers, preachers and those that spend a lifetime to become deep and wide in their knowledge and experiences.
The best relationships require time. Celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary means so much. You don't marry the first person you date, and you don't hand your house keys to a person you meet on the street.
We can only do three different actions with time. We can invest it, waste it or save it. That's it. Investing our time pays off in more time or a better life quality. Wasting time is never to be seen again and brings no value add. Saved time creates more time to invest or save. The term "spending time" expresses no real action for your time. Looking at time in this manner it's easy to decide where our time went. By investing time with our companion parrots we will create understanding and communication.
Parrots are simple. They are yes/no, up/down, yin/yang. So you are either investing or wasting in their eyes.
Consider your time, and invest it wisely with your flock and family to create clear communication and understanding. Those are the bedrocks of your personal language highway.
R. is for RESPECT
Not just respect for your parrot, but for the sincere truth inside your lifestyle and it's communication. It is imperative we respect the truth that time will need to be invested sincerely with no expectations to create a personal language highway.
Easier said than done for a human. The world has become an impatient place. Our days are filled with impatient people and work demands. We want what we want when we want it. And we are so busy wanting we forget why we really wanted in the first place. Expediency has wiped out our realities. That's why I rarely fix parrots. I'm always fixing humans.
The real question we need to ask every morning is this; What do we want WITH our parrot, not FROM our parrot.
When we share our world with a companion parrot, they are not bystanders. They are participants. They need and want to be part of all we do as a flock. We need to respect the truth of this matter.
I recently helped a flock when the mom contacted me in a very frustrated mood. She began simply; she was thoroughly frustrated and had been for weeks, and it had been building for months. I asked her to explain. She put together a grocery list of wants from her bird. A grocery list of reasons why she wanted what she wanted, and a third list as to why her bird just could not be tolerated one more minute in her life. This was the last stand. Which caught me completely off guard. This flock had been together for years. This flock had grown and prospered and been shared with friends and family for years. This flock, I thought, was one of the most stable I had ever met. But then, aren't we all very good at showing others what we want them to see, rather than what is the daily truth of it all?
I asked her to tell me what the most pressing problem to her, and to tell me what she wanted most.
"I want my bird to stop screaming", she said so very frustrated. I asked why. That did not help her frustration. But, it had to be answered.
"I want my bird to stop screaming so I can think!"
I asked why. That didn't help her frustration either. But, it had to be answered.
"I want my bird to stop screaming, so I can think and work!"
I asked why. Again, this had to be answered no matter her growling.
"I want my bird to stop screaming, so I can think and work because I have an electric bill I didn't expect!"
And THAT was the real why. Her frustration has nothing to do with her bird. It had everything to do with money. I suggested calling the Electric Company and working out a payment plan. She recommended I do something with my head that sounded uncomfortable.
I reminded her we couldn't work on her bird, until she could think. She agreed to try. She called the Electric Company and then called me back after about 40 minutes. Her stress and frustration was totally missing. I could here a smile in her voice. I couldn't hear her bird screaming.
"Where's Pickles?" I asked directly.
"Oh, he's eating his 4 o'clock grapes." she explained.
Not having to work late, she was able to go back to her normal routines rather than going straight back into working after getting home. Because she handled the real problem she returned to the routines of communication her companion had missed so much. Their personal language highway once broken, had been restored.
We must respect the core truths of our motivations or we will waste time on the wrong problem. And wasted time can not contribute to communication and our language highway. Identify the real stressor. Then stop. Disconnect.
Unless you are standing in the middle of a burning building, you can stop and disconnect to reconnect to the real problem. I also suggest seeking medical help. You've a great caregiver in your home. You have a parrot. Consider your companion a house call. Play with a parrot and try to stay stressed. It's not possible.
Respect their gift of being the reminder that life isn't that complicated. By simply doing that we are allowing our companion to participate in our solution. And they will identify with that roll! That is a powerful communication moment. Have you ever offered comfort to a friend or family member in need. Just hugging them and being with them during a hard time. Do you remember feeling them relax in your arms and "let go" for that moment? That release between the two of you was powerful. Your parrot can feel that same powerful moment offering you comfort. Companions affect biology positively. They lower blood pressure, respiration and heart rate. They raise endorphins and calming brain waves. They are powerful medicine. I self-medicate with my parrots every day!
Inclusion is a form of language. It tells our companion they belong, they are part of a flock and they are integral.
U. is for UNDERSTANDING
They are exotic parrots. They can not be trained out of that truth. We have to wipe away unreasonable expectations. We are the humans, they are the exotics, but we are both intelligent, emotional, empathetic and cognitive. There is middle ground to be sown with language and understanding.
A parrot will always act like a parrot first. A reasonable expectation for a parrot is generally unreasonable for a human. Understand that truth.
When our parrots are behaving well to our expectations, they have chosen to modify natural instincts. Creating a language highway offers an active and constant communication, as parrots prefer. Inside a parrot flock communication is a constant item. Unlike a human, parrots communication is never ending. By building that busy and consistent language we have created a Flock Mechanism.
Once inside a strong and communicating flock a parrot will choose to meet the flock's (your) expectations before their own, for the benefit of the flock's health and happiness. That truth is a natural instinct. By creating an active, participating, respectful flock we literally build in a natural instinct to choose our expected behaviors over their own instinctive ideas.
That truth is the core to communication and a Successful Companion Parrot Lifestyle. A flock driven by a strong language highway. Your communication creates the need for your companion to do what's best for the flock's health and happiness, which tends toward the human's needs inside a human dynamic. We forget, by joining a parrot with a human we have created a hybrid flocking mechanism. It is still a flock mechanism and our companions will look within it for truths.
In the wild a parrot can do anything. Anything they choose in flight or perch or ground. They have superpowers and with those powers they have full choice. Choices made are communication. One way to build your personal language highway with your companion is by offering Immersive Choice. Creating multiple options that offer multiple choice answers will give them the opportunity to communicate with you through choice patterns. Because every action choice is communication inside a flock.
Immersive Communication requires inclusion, participation and your involvement. You are part of the hybrid flock.
By utilizing immersive choice and communication we offer a wider format of options that meet our parrot halfway between human need and parrot expectation.
S. is for SINCERITY
Sincerity is the only state of mind for a companion parrot. They are in the here and now and sincerely mean everything they do. Humans, not so much. We tend to slide a few steps back from sincere. Sincerity requires full attention and participation. That's what gets a human off track. To sincerely communicate and build a personal language path and understanding with our companions this requires our full attention while we are investing that time. Sincerity is being fully aware. Fully focused in the moment and participating. We should focus on them because they are focused on you.
Consider the sincerity of that invested time and remember we are creating a memory for us AND them. They build on sincerity, they will seek our soft, kind voice. They will appreciate slower movements with new ideas and a patient approach during new flock transitions.
Two ways to offer sincere invested time with our companions is through Layering Interactions and Observing Interactions.
Layering interactions will make a short amount of available time, a high quality moment. Parrots don't judge time by quantity, but by quality. When interacting with your companion bring more than one activity to the moment. For example, when I share a meal with Snickers our macaw I also bring a spoon, small cup, a bowl of water and a block of wood in his favorite shape. He'll eat, play with his spoon, try to use the spoon on the food, dip his cup in the water to drink, and use the wood as an anvil when eating. That last bit has been a Snickers signature move all his life. I've layered a 30 minute experience with so much depth and conversation there wasn't a moment left to idleness.
Observing interactions is simply waiting for our parrots to decide what the game is and how they want to spend time together. By following rather than leading we can pick up on body language and the nuances we may have never noticed had we not allowed our parrots to lead the way in play and invested time together. A parrot's body language is a powerful language path. Learn theirs, they are always learning yours.
T. stands for TRUTH
Sincerity and Truth are mutually exclusive. But you need them both to create communication that builds your language path. You can be sincere and not truthful. I can ask what color the sky is and your reply will be, blue. Which is a sincere answer, but not telling me of the impending black clouds of storm there lacked truth. Truth is tricky for humans as we rationalize ourselves into corners. Building your language path needs a truth established between you and your bird. The simplest of all truths. Unconditional love.
That dedicated heart and mind where a promise is made and always kept no matter the challenges. A state of being that stands solid in flock commitment and promise. When we make our marriage vows we state "till death do us part". It's a serious lifelong commitment. No one is leaving until they are dead. Living inside a relationship with that unspoken truth creates a safe haven for mistakes, apologies, trying, failing and trying again.
And if we have built that strong Hybrid Flock Mechanism, your flock as a whole can survive the hardest of times to come out the other side stronger and still intact. That's the whole point of creating a constant language highway with your parrot inside a strong flock. To get through, together. Parrots are amazingly resilient inside a strong and loving flock.
It's important not to judge another's flock too harshly. You do not know what they have or are going through at that moment. You can't judge their dedication inside their love. You can not weigh their current context and deem it "not good enough". You can ask if everything is okay though. You can offer help as well.
I have seen the most challenging and painful experiences happen around very strong flocks. Situations that do not need explanation other than to say, they were shocking to watch, and an honor to help them go through. And when the storm passed, that flock stood strong, and still together.
And isn't that what we all seek in our lives? A bond inside a family/flock unit that helps us navigate this confusing thing we call life?
Unconditional Love is the truth of the core that will yield an immovable force called Your Flock.
The truth is, no matter how long all this takes, this is a forever companionship. The other truth is, if we see each other in that light and help when the forever gets harder, all flocks benefit. Which is simply us, together, giving every parrot, everywhere, a happy home.