Story by Bekah Porter Sandy
Haley growled and lunged.
In the space of mere seconds, the white lab/terrier mix transformed from a sweet dog to a vicious attacker.
Her prey — a placid puppy who had offered no provocation — was injured, and the discussion of where to place Haley shifted to a conversation about if she could find a home.
“It was so severe,” said Gigi Graves, founder of Our Pals Place, an animal rescue organization in Marietta. “It was so unfortunate.”
So the work began. Graves arranged for Haley to see a veterinarian, and the medical professional ruled out any physical causes for the aggressiveness.
“We really thought there was no way that she’d ever be able to be placed in a home with other dogs,” Graves said.
But then Tammy Billups got involved.
The storm before the calm
Before her mother died, before she became a published author, before she started physically seeing energy in and around everything as colors and shapes and re-enactments of past events, Tammy Billups was another corporate success story, bringing in the big bucks and assuming the extent of her joy correlated with the size of her bank account.
“I was career-oriented, and I believed that the more money I had, the happier I’d be,” she said. “I had a great income and title, but it clearly wasn’t working out so well. I wasn’t happy. And I was always sick. Cancer. Asthma. Endometriosis. Chronic sinus infections. Gallstones. You name it, I had it.”
The Woodstock resident watched her mother pass away, as well as her three beloved pets. Then in a moment that changed everything about her life, Billups experienced something that shook her sense of the world.
“It was like waking up from having amnesia,” she said.
She said she began to see and feel and sense energy.
“And I didn’t know what to do with that,” she said. “I had just gone through all of these deaths of my loved ones, and then all of these memories from my childhood came rushing back up into my consciousness, memories that were quite horrific, including abuse, that I had suppressed. The energy around me was showing me, trying to tell me, what I had gone through, and I was scared.”
Seeking relief, Billups scheduled a bioenergetic healing session, telling the therapist that she was “open to trying anything.” Within moments of the session starting, Billups said she felt like she was “home.”
“I sat up afterward, and I said, ‘I don’t know what just happened here, but I feel great. I want to do what you do.”
Since that first bioenergetic healing, Billups has racked up an impressive resume, leaving her corporate career to become a certified interface therapist, author, speaker, founder of the Unity North Spiritual Community’s animal ministry, and editorial board member of the Conscious Life Journal where she pens a column called “Animals as Guides.”
She has appeared everywhere from CNN to “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” She has earned ordination as an interfaith minister, and she donates weekly sessions to animal rescue centers.
What’s more, she found her own happiness in the process. When she first sought training at The Center for Integrative Therapy, she realized that she had to fix her own problems before she could attempt to mend others.
“I had to heal from the inside out,” she said. And in turn, her physical ailments completely healed and she no longer needed the eight daily medications she thought she’d be on her entire life.
Her new career first focused only on people. Individuals would seek treatment for various ailments, be it physical or psychological, and Billups would work to clear what she calls energetic congestion.
“If you came in for a session, we would sit and talk about what is weighing on you that day, both emotionally and physically, and you would state your intentions for what you want to work on. I am not the orchestrator of the session; I am the conduit,” she said.
The client then lays on a healing table, and Billups goes through a process she describes as connecting to “the source of our good.” Then for 30 or so minutes, she observes the person’s energy.
“I might see that your energy is out of balance, and that stuck energy, which are more fear-based emotions, are releasing and is being replaced with the energy of love, joy, compassion or the like. It’s really different for each session,” she said.
The goal is to improve the client’s quality of life by helping their energy levels reach optimal levels and heal deeper emotional wounding that might be causing physical issues, dependencies, addictions, depression or unhappiness.
Billups is aware not everybody understands or believes in her methods, but she does not have time to doubt her practice. When she experienced what she calls her awakening, she had no choice but to believe.
“Most people simply have to have faith that there are something more, that we are souls first, but I am blessed that I have proof through experiencing energy more intimately than most,” she said.
Billups says that she sees individuals’ energy in various forms, whether it be colors or beams of lights. But it’s not just people.
‘I need to do this’
Billups always considered herself a lover of animals.
“We let animals in where we wouldn’t let people,” she said. “We love animals with our whole hearts because they’re safe and they accept us just as we are. We don’t have any past issues to heal with them so we get more emotionally connected to them than we let people.”
So when her friend told her that a horse had been diagnosed with a condition that would prevent it from running or becoming pregnant, Billups figured she should at least see if the animal received any relief from the healing techniques she used on humans.
“After the first session, you could see an improvement in (the horse’s) gait,” Billups said. “And after the second sessions, she took off running. It was the most beautiful thing.”
A year later, the horse produced a foal and did not encounter any more issues with the leg.
“When I saw that, I thought, ‘I need to do this work with animals, too,’” Billups said.
Since then, she has used her organization, Sundance Healing Center, to treat thousands of clients “both two- and-four-legged.” Both humans and animals receive her treatments, and Billups has become a pioneer in the field of animal energy healing, recently releasing the book, “Beyond the Fur: Discover the Hidden Keys to Understanding Your Animals’ Behaviors and Physical Issues.”
A universal emotion
Gigi Graves was distraught when Haley bit the other dog in the rescue organization. This attack upset her for many reasons. Not only was it unfortunate for the dog who had been bitten, but it also clearly conveyed that Hailey was not happy. Furthermore, it reduced the number of potential residences that Hailey could make her forever home, as she could not be housed with other dogs.
“It was upsetting,” Graves said.
Then Graves met Billups at their spiritual community, and Billups offered to volunteer her services to the rescue animals.
“I immediately noticed that (Billups) was just a very real person, and by that, I mean she is who she is,” Graves said. “She’s sincere and open and centered and down-to-earth. And she just has a phenomenal connection with the animals. As you can imagine, the energy level in our facility can be outrageous at times, with all those animals, and when she does the session, she always brings this calmness and stillness that the animals respond to.”
Billups sat with Haley and Graves, who watched the dog fall into a deep, sleep-like trance. After a few sessions, Graves noticed Hailey was a different animal.
“We ended up putting Haley into a home with another dog, and those two dogs are just the best of friends,” Graves said. “I run into those dogs frequently, and to this day, they’ve never had an altercation. It’s something I thought would never, ever be able to happen, but it did.”