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Writing about what really matters

Tag: path

The power of acceptance

Nurturer cropped

Often, it seems, when I’m told I’ve done something well, it’s not the thing I’ve struggled over and really worked on. No, many times it’s something I’ve taken for granted, barely given a second thought to. This happened most recently when I spoke with my animal communicator a couple of weeks ago.

A little background on animal communication … it doesn’t require the physical presence of the animal, or even for the animal to be in physical form. Once, when I was a foster for my breed rescue, I contacted my animal communicator to let her know I’d recommended her to help with a lost dog. I was surprised to hear that she doesn’t work with lost dogs! The reason is that she has difficulty distinguishing between an animal that’s here, and one on the other side that is what she calls “very present” (as she says my dog Cherry is right now). So a lost animal might truthfully report that it’s fine, and actually be on the other side–which its people may regard as far from fine.

In my experience, though, there’s always a significant difference in an animal’s perspective when she’s here, and when she’s not. After Honeycomb’s death, when I asked what she was doing, she said she was speaking with the Wise Ones. (Hey, just what we do over there! I thought.) She also gave me some advice about my own life–something she’d never done during our sessions when she was still alive.

In those sessions, typically I get very useful, practical information, like that a foster dog I haven’t gotten yet has bad teeth, including which quadrant of the mouth (I asked for the vet to do a dental if needed along with the spay or neuter–it was), or that a dog’s skin is itchy due to the dry air (I got a humidifier), or that a dog wants to take more walks so that she can smell some new smells!

With Cherry, the main theme was again something she’d never mentioned in our sessions when she was alive–how grateful she was for how well I’d understood her, how I’d accepted her and allowed her to be just who she was.

This took me aback at first, because it’s not something I’d ever tried to do, or put any effort into. It just made sense to accept her as she was, value the contributions she made, and not try to make her into something she wasn’t.

I do remember being a little disappointed when I realized she was never going to make a therapy dog. That had been my original dream, but my first dog, Honeycomb, was an unsocialized breeder’s dog, so when she came to me, my complete focus was on overcoming her terror so that she could function and have something approaching a normal life. She also (until she started to lose her hearing) always startled at the slightest sound, like a loud light switch or a clicker. Being able to tolerate loud sounds is required for a therapy dog, but attempting to acclimate her to something she hated seemed cruel to me. At the end of her life she was tremendously loving, and I think would have been a great therapy dog–especially if people could have come to visit her, rather than the other way around!

Cherry, whose original person or people had been elderly, absolutely hated wheelchairs and walkers, and barked in their presence! She was very friendly, happy, cheerful, outgoing, affectionate, loving, and loyal, but she was also fairly empathy-free. She admired strength, but didn’t understand that those who appear weak are often the strongest of all. (Granted, a lot of people haven’t figured this out yet, either.) The ability to tolerate medical equipment is an absolute requirement for a therapy dog, but while it may not be on the test, so is having a heart for those who are struggling in one way or another. So I let go of my dream … and perhaps one day it will come back around.

Cherry was always with me at home, and two of her favorite things to do were to watch me work in the kitchen–especially loading and unloading the dishwasher, because she loved how fast I moved–and watching me get ready to go out, because she loved being beautiful and valued beauty rituals.

If you’re thinking that these are not old-soul values, of course you are right. This was just one waystation on Cherry’s journey, one that we’ve nearly all experienced in some way, and no doubt she will eventually choose other, more challenging lives where she is not gorgeous, strong, and dominant.

These are some of my notes from our last conversation …

She says you got her like no one else. She is so grateful that she got to be who she was. Thank you for honoring who she was. She has a true sense of completion.

“I was gorgeous and I knew it! … Thank you for everything. … We were the steady ones, Heather and I. We were a team. … Without a doubt, I’m not done protecting her. … I love her so, and it was a great, great life.”     —Terri O’Hara, animal communicator, communicating with Cherry

Afterwards, I thought of how truly wonderful it would have been to be accepted for who I was and what I came to accomplish by everyone along the way in my journey. Whenever I’ve had that experience, it really has been wonderful and validating.

It also occurred to me how karmic debt is incurred–by doing something that throws someone else off their intended path. The most definitive way to do this, of course, is to end the person’s life prematurely–war must have huge karmic implications, especially for those making significant decisions–but it can also happen in much subtler ways. No doubt failure to accept and honor the other person and their intended mission is always part of the problem.

So conversely, I saw that accepting another being, their place on their path, and what they came to do and be is really a profound expression of support for their soul’s intention–and, by extension, for the purpose of the whole Universe, our collective growth and expansion. I’m remembering this as I go about my business and observe others being and doing differently than I would.

That’s what I learned from my dog Cherry.

This post is illustrated with my SoulCollage card The Nurturer, made at last weekend’s SoulCollage Archetypes retreat to represent the Mother archetype.

SoulCollage® cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

What might have been

path

… Look for the road that everyone’s on, and don’t follow. –Robert Downie

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear Nicole,

Earlier this week I read your blog for the first time, with pleasure, and the next morning when I woke, I wanted to respond to your post about what might have been.

Perhaps most of us have had those moments in our lives when we look back, and realize that the choices we’ve made, and those that seem to have been made for us, the things that worked out, and all those that didn’t, have carved out the path of our lives, and left many other possibilities behind in the dust.

I love old houses, and I like to think of lives as being like them. I can’t have every feature I love in one old house. I can’t have an English cottage-style house (which I do have) with a red tile roof (which I don’t). In the same way, we can’t cram everything into a single life … we can’t have every experience every time out of the gate. That’s what I tell myself when I think about the experiences I haven’t had this time around–yet. Some doors are now closed–but of course, so many possibilities remain open.

When I read your story, what came to my mind is this … as a new chapter of your life beautifully opens, its blank page ready for you to write it … what if what you and your soulmate have accomplished thus far is exactly what you came here to do? If you could see the plans you both laid out right now–and I assume you did lay them together–what if you’ve passed every test with flying colors? Done exactly what your souls intended?

Now I don’t know, of course, what your souls intended–there’s a lot I don’t know about what my very own soul intended. But to me, this seems like a real possibility. What seems like futility to our finite eyes may not be at all. Sometimes we choose to build the muscles of the soul in unexpected ways. I do know this–what we do with love is never wasted.

I think it’s so important to look back at key junctures, and mourn what might have been, but isn’t. It seems to me a crucial part of being able to freely move forward into the future, leaving the past right where it belongs.

As you close this chapter, though, it seems to me that it might be fair to write at the bottom of the last page–Unqualified success.

This post is illustrated with the SoulCollage card I made this past New Year’s Eve, My path (2014).

The hare grows tortoise feet

hare

When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time. –Creighton Abrams

When I was younger, I hopped on rabbit feet. Certain things came easily to me, and I generally did those things. In college, I’d write my papers overnight, usually starting around midnight when the dorm got quiet, and finishing around 5 am or so. I’d meet my roommate, a nursing student off to the early shift, as I went to bed.

I’m not sure if it’s a hare, a tortoise, or something else altogether that takes the path of least resistance. I remember being advised in my 20s that I should direct my passion toward work worth being passionate about. My view then was that there was no way I could abandon my investment in my career (a handful of years at that point) and start over–no way! Back then, making a decision out of fear seemed a wise and prudent thing to do. Or so, at any rate, I told myself.

In those days, I’d never have wanted to identify with the slow, steady tortoise of the fable. The hare had its issues, very true–but how much better to be quick! How fatal to be slow! I’m not sure I ever stopped to examine the finish line I was leaping towards, or the path I was on.

Lately I find myself taking comfort in the slow and steady accretion of my efforts. I may not be able to give hare-like, flat-out, all-or-nothing effort to everything I want to accomplish. (In fact, I’m not willing to give that kind of effort to anything nowadays, as that way lies burnout.) But a bit at a time, steadily and without fail, offered with unwavering commitment, will indeed get me where I want to go.

I wear my tortoise shell proudly.

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