An undiagnosed medical condition looms over Talli like her own personal dark cloud. The passing of her grandfather momentarily takes her breath away, but years of suffocating anxiety have taught Talli two things: there is power in stilness and nature, and there’s always something good around the corner – this last corner being a birding trip to Scotland.
Talli is sitting on a log in the middle of a woodland, her eyes closed, her hands shaking. She focuses her senses. Her heart is beating too fast. Her mind is full of images of a person she misses dearly; her grandfather.
“I try to get over my anxiety by doing these things I call ‘Talli moments’. I know it sounds really weird but anytime I feel incredibly overwhelmed – when my chest is heavy and my heart palpitates so much that I struggle to breathe – I say to myself, ‘You’re okay. Everything’s fine,’ I then close my eyes and try really hard to be present and you know what, it works.
Talli tries hard to disguise her teary eyes by looking at the wall. But she laughs as she says, “He didn’t know what he was getting into when he married my Grandma. He was just this lovely Englishman who decided to marry a Spanish woman. He did a fantastic job in adapting to the craziness.
“I did a reading at his funeral and it was terrifying. I was wearing trainers, something that my family still makes a point of reminding me. I was super anxious, but I couldn’t find time to have one of my ‘Talli Moments’. When we got to the crematorium, we stood outside. Suddenly, as I was looking at his flowers a Robin came and landed beside them.
“And you know what they say, ‘When a Robin is here, then it means your loved ones are near’ and that to me was special. I felt my chest just clear as soon as I saw the Robin. Since then, when I sit down in nature for a ‘Talli moment’, usually the first thing I hear is a Robin and then I know my Grandpa is nearby. The weirdest thing is that, not long after that day at the crematorium, I ended up seeing another Robin at a really important time in my life.
The mountain and the car park...
“My partner, Jack and I had gone to Scotland to see Eagles. Building up to this trip there were some pretty obvious signs, looking back. For example, we would be sitting on the sofa at home and he would be holding his phone away from me. Later I understood that he had been browsing engagement rings and I had been completely oblivious.
Talli beams with joy.
“So, we decided to go somewhere on a walk – as you do in Scotland because you can’t not walk. It’s amazing! And we were basically at the top of a mountain birdwatching. There were Long-tailed Tits and Treecreepers everywhere. I kept using my binoculars and taking photos. On a couple of occasions while we were meandering through these beautiful spots I just kept looking through our binoculars; meanwhile my other half, his palms really clammy, was thinking ‘okay, this is gonna be the moment’. Then I would turn around and be like, ‘Did you see that bird Jack!?’ Basically, I just kept pushing him off because I was so excited.
“This went on for hours as we came down the mountain and by now we were back at the car park. There was a park bench and I was setting up to take a photo of us. All of a sudden a Robin and a Chaffinch came down and sat on the park bench next to us. That was when Jack got down on one knee – for about 0.5 seconds because the ground was so wet – and finally proposed. I just started sobbing my eyes out. I was so happy and excited. Then loads of people, worried that I was not well, all just bee-lined towards us and we didn’t get an opportunity to have the moment together. We had to reassure them that this was a happy occasion.
“Having had a Robin sitting on a picnic bench overlooking the proposal, I was like, ‘Oh my God. Grandpa just watched that’.”
“I have some pretty bad health issues. I’ve been to so many doctors and got no answers, I have an undiagnosed chronic stomach condition. I’ve always found that something that made me feel better was to literally stand outside and look at the sky and watch for birds! Whenever I saw birds, I’d watch them fly and try to imagine feeling as free as they are. The wind flowing through their feathers, the ground rolling by below them.
How to try a 'Talli Moment':
1) Take a moment to sit down.
2) Close your eyes and loosen my hands. (I sometimes have my hands palms up, sometimes down.
3) Start by trying to isolate every sense. What can you feel on your fingers, the wind? The cold? The sun?
4) Then move up to your ears. What do you hear? Listen to your breathing, take in any semblance of sound you can.
5) Then take a few deep breaths and open your eyes. What can you see? Is the sun shining? Is the thunder rumbling? Are the birds flying?