Don’t Wait. It may be too late.

 Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.― Voltaire

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Two of our friends died suddenly and tragically on Mother’s Day.  It has been a shock to everyone who knew them.  They left behind countless friends and family, and their beloved rescued canine companion.

We are all mourning in our own way. We are all feeling the effects of this tragedy differently; some inwardly and some outwardly.  My grief comes and goes in waves.  My husband on the other hand, shares it all, bares it all, and makes no apologies or excuse for what he’s feeling.  He laughs when he needs to, and cries when he’s moved.

He is the one who brought something to light for me during all of this.

We had both been gone when we heard the horrible news.  When we returned home we went out for a bite to eat, to get some perspective and discuss the details of what we knew about the tragedy.  Something he said at dinner resonated with me, and keeps coming back into my awareness:  “You know, when I first heard the news, all I could think was NO NO NO NO NO that’s impossible. Then my mind quickly switched to feeling an overwhelming sadness at the fact that I can never tell him all of the things I want to tell him.  All of the things I should have said.  I have so much I want to tell him.”

That hit me hard.  My husband was right.  That chance is gone.  Game over.  They are both gone.

You may be wondering, Why are you sharing this with me?  How does this have to do with our companion animals? 

 I am sharing this with you because life is precious, and the ones we love could be gone in an instant.

Life is dear and too short to put off sharing our thoughts, feelings, and gratitude for the ones we love, the ones that make us laugh, and even the ones that push our buttons.   This includes the animals we have in our lives; the ones we care for at a facility, shelter, or in our home.

Those annoying behaviors or frustrating personality traits (whether friend, family, or pet) instantly disappear when their life is extinguished.  All we see is their beauty and their light.  All we remember is the best of them.

So why aren’t we seeing the best in the animals and people we love that are still alive?

It’s easy to complain or become annoyed with the people we love, the family and friends that drive us nuts, and the coworkers that we could do without.  But understand this: no matter who they are, or what they represent to you, they are in your life for a reason, and their presence matters.  The animals that we care for at home or work are in our life are also there for a reason.  Even when they make things more difficult or frustrating at times, they still add value to our lives.  Look for that value.  Look for a reason, for each of them.  I promise you, if you look hard enough, you’ll see their value and their individual worth.

Every soul in our lives is a gift.  They are either a teacher, a mentor, or someone you are teaching and mentoring. Every person, animal, and circumstance in our lives can be a great teacher.  There are countless lessons to be learned by all of them.

I am grateful beyond words for every teacher in my life.  Many of them came in forms that I would not have chosen, but lessons were learned because of them.  Two of my animal companions are currently teaching me lessons that I would rather not learn at the moment, but I have to remind myself to thank them for being in my life. Their presence is invaluable.

Who we love, and who we care about need to hear it.   Every day.  Tell the ones you love how much you appreciate them, how much you value their presence in your life, and how their life has affected yours.  Look past those annoying traits, and the buttons they seem to push in you.  Laugh at it.  Blow it off.  See them for who they really are. Look beyond the surface to see the best in them.

Appreciate them. Thank them.  Spend time with them.  Shower them with love.  Tell them how you feel, even if it’s a tough truth to be told; be humbly and graciously honest.  Be kind.

That’s love.  That’s living life to the fullest. That’s how we make life meaningful.  That’s how life becomes a miracle.  Don’t wait.  Show them, and tell them now.

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 At the end of the day, let there be no excuses, no explanations, no regrets. ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

In Gratitude

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Thanksgiving has come and gone.  This American holiday is the one day of the year that people consciously choose to reflect on what they are grateful for in their lives.  It is a time for reflection.  Our hearts are open to giving thanks for the many blessings we have, the family and friends that we share our lives with, and the variety of gifts that life has provided for us.  But this doesn’t have to be a once-a-year occurrence; we can live in gratitude every day.

As the world shows its more chaotic side these days, I have become infinitely grateful for gifts that I took for granted for most of my life.  These gifts are my animal companions.  Some are no longer with me, but thankfully, some are still by my side.  Every day I make a point to thank them for being in my life.  I have come to realize that many of my life lessons have come from them.  Each animal – past and present – reptile, bird, mammal, and amphibian, each taught me valuable lessons over the years; I could not have learned some of my greatest lessons without them.

They show me how to be fully present.  How to not fear or worry about the future, and how to not dwell on the past.  The here-and-now is their only time zone.  If I had the courage to live every moment as they do, I would enjoy and appreciate every second of this life.

From observing them, I have learned how to enjoy a sunset, a sunrise, a cool breeze, or a warm ray of sun on my face without having to discuss it, or capture it on film.

They taught me to take risks and be bold.  They have shown me how to look ahead and see life as an adventure.  They taught me to travel far and reach for what your heart desires.

They remind me that material things are meaningless.  So what if a glass or dish breaks?  So what if my favorite book was destroyed?  It’s only stuff.  It can be replaced.  The ones we love cannot be replaced.

They have made me a better human.  They have made me more understanding, and more compassionate.  I may even be a better mother to a human one day because of them.  They teach me patience.  They teach me true forgiveness.  They teach me to take time to grieve, then to move forward and not look back.  They teach me how to celebrate the passing of a loved one, and to not mourn the loss.  They teach me how to love unconditionally, and how to accept love.

They have taught me that being unapologetically myself is the only way to be.  They taught me to never shrink or hide who I really am to make others feel comfortable. They teach me to love and accept everything about myself.  They have shown me that guilt and suffering are wasted emotions.

They are never in a bad mood, even when they have every right to be.  They are always ready to move on and seize the next adventure.  When my life seems to be in a rough patch, I can shift my attention to my animal companions and see the joy, cheer and Light within them.  They are continuous examples of how to forgive, how to move on, and how to shake it off.  Their very nature is love.  Their presence alone is reassuring and comforting.  I am never truly alone with my animal companion by my side.

How can we repay someone who gives us these invaluable gifts every day?  With gratitude. Every day.

I encourage you to take a few minutes each day and give your animal companion something meaningful.  You can give your time, your undivided attention, or your affection.  After everything they bring into our lives, shouldn’t we find a way to show our gratitude to them?  They chose you.  You may have “found” them but they were always meant to be with you.  Just you.

 

They will always be there for you.  Thank them for that.

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The animal shall not be measured by man.  In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.  They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.

~ Henry Beston



Take a moment to watch this touching short film to see how one man created a marvelous way to show gratitude for his feline buddy.