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Advice: Human or Animal?


I’ve had wonderful coaches and mentors throughout my career;  their human counsel and humane advice have meant the world to me as they’ve guided me through some tough personal and professional challenges.

Many people are intrigued with the human behaviour of animals:  chimps, gorillas, whales, dolphins…look at all those animal videos on YouTube!

As a dog owner, I think my pup is incredibly bright and empathetic;  she always seems to find the right way to say the right things at the right time!  She’s a standard poodle, one of the smartest breeds in the world although some people are initially misled to think she’s a stereotypical chi-chi fou-fou (i.e. dumb) French poo-delle;  those are the people she’ll out-think (much to their chagrin) every time!

I’m also a James Patterson fan.  One of his more recent books,  ”Zoo”, focuses on “HAC” – Human Animal Conflict.  Oz, a young biologist, believes many species are ”suddenly displaying hyper-aggressive behaviours toward one particular animal” – humans.  It’s a compelling, fast-paced read!

I’m more on the side of Human Animal Connection.  Jamie Sams and David Carson’s “Medicine Cards” continue to give me consistently helpful advice on a day-to-day basis.

 They believe that “Native American medicine is an all encompassing way of life” that can ”heal body, mind and spirit”.  While every living thing has the ability to teach, animals in particular are believed to relay powerful messages to us if we’re ready and willing to listen.

OK, I have to admit I was sceptical when introduced to medicine cards by my Reiki Master!  But, because I was raised in family that was into all things “nature” and I’ve spent time with aboriginal communities, I was willing to give it a go.  That was more than 10 years ago and there is rarely a day when I don’t consult a card. I’ve found it’s one way to set aside time every day to learn  through being silent and present.  I love to learn but I’m still a work-in-progress when it comes to being silent and present!

I start my day by shuffling my deck of 52 cards, each featuring one animal.  Today’s is Alligator in the upright position.  Alligator teaches us about Integration, “thoroughly digesting both the pleasures and pains in life”.   It goes on to say “Gator may have surfaced in the river of your life to tell you digest the situation at hand before making any rash moves.  You could also be dealing with someone who is too serious or rigid.  Embrace your flexibility… avoid getting stuck in the duality and quagmire of the human judgement game“.

Sometimes I’ll pull a card upside-down.  Had I done that, Alligator’s ”contrary” message was to “laugh in the face of conflict in order to survive…don’t fall prey to quick-fix solutions or schemes…integrate stable, long-term solutions and options”.

This message will simmer on the back of my brain for the rest of the day…  Tonight, I’ll go back to my card, review my day and see how being mindful helped me manoeuvre the challenges and opportunities presented to me.  Most days the message is meaningful and timely!

By the way, Dog teaches about Loyalty, service to others.  In contrary position, Dog may be advising that we’ve “become critical or mean due to the company we’re keeping”.  Or it may mean to imply “it’s time to stop cowering with fear and time to begin to tackle the adversaries of our confidence”.

Whether our mentors are human or animal, we can rarely pay them back.  But we can pay it forward!