Angels, Animals, and Agendas
There has been a recurring theme recently in my animal communication practice, and it is something that has also been reflected in my own animal family. (This kind of synchronicity happens more often than you might think. We are really all connected.)
At the risk of feeling vulnerable, transparent, and admitting imperfection (OH NO!), I want to share a very personal story with you about my animal family, because it’s important, because it’s challenging, and because there is magic in the mayhem.
People come to me for help with problems with their animal friends. It’s the nature of my job, and lots of times, my work helps to resolve problems and misunderstandings. The problem is discussed, the animal’s needs, feelings, and perspective is understood, the human’s perspective is understood, compromises are reached, solutions appear, or problems disappear through clear communication and understanding. Some “problems” require additional work with energy healing, training, good veterinary care, changes in exercise, diet, etc.
I love it when problems resolve. I love using my gifts to be helpful and create more harmony. I love having happy people and animals telling me how much I helped them. It feels really good.
And here is the really, really tough truth for my ego/persona/little self to accept:
Solving problems is not always possible. Some problems are not solvable.
Some problems are not solvable in the way that people want them to be solved.
And, an even tougher truth…
Solving problems is not my job.
My job is to communicate clearly, truthfully, and honestly; to be a translator for the animals and their people, without an agenda for an outcome, for either the animal or the human. That’s the job. Anything else is extra, a bonus or icing on the cake at best, a damaging and hurtful overlay of expectation at worst.
My job is to stay neutral, and to be a compassionate presence for both human and animal. It is NOT my job to take sides with either the human or animal, have a bias or agenda as to the outcome of the consultation, or to win a popularity contest with the person or the animal.
This is sometimes tough for my Libra “Let’s All Get Along” and People-Pleasing-Co-Dependent-Midwestern Persona to take. (I’ve done a lot of work with her, but she still makes her appearance from time to time.) “People are paying you good money to help them and fix things for them”, Keep-Everyone-Happy-Girl says.
“It’s not your job to fix anything,” Stay-Sane-and-Present-Wise-Self retorts. She speaks the truth.
There is a misperception that I sometimes hear from people. It’s often expressed in language such as, “Can you tell my dog to stop barking?” or “Doesn’t my cat understand how worried I am about him when he doesn’t come in at night? Doesn’t he care about my feelings? Doesn’t he love me?”
This misperception rests on a subtle, but dangerous assumption: that animals are here to please humans, to do what we ask of them, and to meet OUR needs first. The assumption is that if they only clearly understood what we are asking–and that perhaps if we get a professional animal communicator to “tell” them in a way that they may finally be able to understand–they will suddenly shift and willingly do our bidding.
This way of thinking is human-centric. We humans are all guilty of this at one time or another. We are conditioned to believe in our species’ superiority. Even if we don’t consciously believe this, it runs deep in our culture, in our conditioning, in our patterns of response as humans.
I can’t make an animal change her behavior. I can understand what is motivating the behavior from the animals perspective, facilitate a discussion between the animal and her human about possible solutions, offer healing energy to the situation, all of which may very well help to shift the unwanted behavior and create more harmony. But I can’t make it happen.
(If I could do that, I would be more rich and famous than the guy on TV with all the dogs.)
And here is my personal truth: I have issues in my own animal family that I have not been able to “fix”, with all of my tools, understanding, and experience.
(I hope to dispel once and for all the oft-repeated myth…”Oh, you’re an animal communicator…your animals must be perfect!” My colleagues and I laugh uproariously at this notion when we get together…and if you’ve ever wondered what animal communicators talk about when we socialize….well, we talk about our animals. We are the people who were created to do this work because we can be endlessly entertained for hours talking about the minute details of our animals’ lives, toilet habits, health, quirks, charms, and profound wisdom…)
But I digress.
I have lived in a multi-cat and multi-dog household for the better part of two decades. All of my animals have co-existed peacefully with one another. They have not always been best friends, but they have lived together in peace and harmony, given each other space, and worked it out.
Milo came to me in early 2011. I had been feeling an orange cat “on the fringes”, waiting to come into my life. One day, on a routine visit to Petsmart to purchase supplies, I “happened” to wander by the area where one of our local shelters had cats available for adoption. (The truth is, I was pulled like a magnet.)
In the cattery, behind the glass, looking up at me with round, open eyes, was Milo. “Hey you!” he telepathically shouted at me, “I’m your cat! You’re my person! Spring me from this joint!” And so…(there is more to the story but I will abbreviate it lest I lose your attention)… I did.
It was love from the get-go. Milo is wonderful, charming, hilariously funny, full of sweetness and love, and terribly smart. He has an angelic energy that inspired a friend to nickname him:
Milo Smilo from on Hilo with Lots of Stylo.
He got along with the dogs instantly. And he quickly adapted to two of my other cats, Maraya (his half sister…another story for another time) and Maddy.
However, with Louie, my darling three-legged brown tabby, it was a completely different story.
Despite all of my good slow-cat-introduction-protocol, my years of rescue experience, my animal communication skills….Milo wanted to do nothing but attack Louie. Louie was deathly afraid of Milo. They fought. Blood flowed. I cried. I communicated. I prayed. I cried some more. I started over from the beginning. I reintroduced them carefully. Nothing changed. Milo’s position on Louie was intractable: “He walks funny. He smells funny. He is a ‘foreigner’. I must get him.”
I understood completely through my communication with Milo how he felt. I could feel the trauma from his early life as an unneutered outdoor cat, defending his territory…his grief at losing at least 3 homes before he came to me….his bold, “take no prisoners” approach to life. I understood completely. And I could not change his behavior.
And I understood Louie’s perspective. Louie is sensitive. Louie felt vulnerable. Louie was PISSED (quite literally) that Milo was in our home. Louie’s solution to this problem has been the same from day one and has not ever changed: “Get Rid of Milo.” And secondarily, “I Will Pee on Everything.”
I love Louie. He is my special sweetheart. He has been with me longer than anyone in my family except Gypsy. Seeing him hurt was more than I could take.
I considered Louie’s solution. I considered re-homing Milo. Each time I did, I dissolved into a puddle of tears and grief. I couldn’t do it. My love for Milo–and his for me–was cemented deep. And I knew that what Milo said from the beginning was the truth: he was meant to be with me, and I was meant to be his person. We have things to teach each other and deep love to share, and he is meant to be here, with his sister Maraya and the rest of our family.
I offered Reiki. I used flower essences. I called colleagues for help. I did everything that I would advise a client to try. Nothing worked. Nothing helped. Or, rather, nothing helped in the way that I wanted it to.
I had an agenda. My agenda was clear, and to me, very reasonable. I wanted the cats to co-exist together peacefully. “You don’t have to like each other,” I
cried whined said, “You just have to not hurt each other.”
My agenda was largely irrelevant to the cats. They ignored it.
In the meantime, we moved to a new house…which was custom-manifested for a multi-cat household in Imperfect Harmony: two separate enclosed cat-safe yards, separate entrances, lots of doors.
The era of Cat Shuffling began in earnest.
I decided to start accepting What Is, rather than holding out for What I Prefer.
I keep Milo and Louie separate. It’s how it is. On the occasions of human error when doors are opened at the wrong time, they fight. They hurt each other. They end up at the vet. I end up in tears, but not so much anymore. Accepting what is, right now, here in this moment, is the spiritual lesson for me.
Milo and Louie have taught me that my agenda of “peace must prevail” is really my deal, not theirs. They want to be safe, they want to be loved, and mostly, they want to avoid each other. They are just fine with the separate cat arrangements. It’s me who has the problem, not them.
And here is another truth that I have learned to accept:
Milo really doesn’t care that his attacks on Louie upset me.
The good news is this means that my human emotional upset, hysteria, and tantrums did not damage him in the slightest. Does this mean he doesn’t love me? Not at all, a fact that he demonstrates daily by sitting on my lap, and purring so passionately and with such great love pouring from his little orange heart that his drool soaks my shirt.
Milo loves me. I love Milo. Milo inspires a veritable plethora of dessert-inspired, sweet little nicknames to pour from my mouth: “…peanut butter fudge, butterscotch brownie, toffee cupcake…” Milo has his own cat-language endearments for me. We adore each other completely.
But…I am not the center of Milo’s Universe.
Milo has his own life. He has his own journey. He has his own spiritual mission as an orange cat at the turning of the age. He has his own purpose, which on the physical level largely involves food, sleeping, hunting small creatures, and drooling on me, and on the spiritual level involves saving the planet and awakening the humans through the sheer force of his gigantic love.
I am definitely a Star in Milo’s Galaxy, but he does not orbit around me. He operates in his own Magical Milo Solar System, as far as I can tell.
My agenda is of very little concern to Milo.
Is this just because he is a cat, some might ask? After all, cats have a reputation for independence and doing their own thing. I don’t think so. For Milo’s sister, Maraya, I am the center of the universe. She has made it clear from the beginning that she is here to be with me, and only me, and the rest of the world is inconsequential.
(However, in the interest of full disclosure and honesty: I have never had to test the center of the universe theory with a behavioral issue with Maraya…because we don’t have any problems. Maraya is such a goody-goody that she reports on the other cats’ mischief, and her worst “crime” is swatting the screens in pursuit of her beloved “buggies”…not even worth discussing, in my world. )
Is this lack of concern for human agendas a general trait of animals? Again, no. Contrast my relationship with Milo with my relationship with my Afghan hound, Tara.
I am not just the center of Tara’s universe, I am her Whole Universe. And she is mine. Truth be told, Tara’s soul and my soul have been so inexorably intertwined since what feels like the dawn of no-time that we create our own Universe, into which others are occasionally–and temporarily–invited.
If Tara feels she has upset me, she is wounded to the core. I feel the same way if I hurt or upset her in any way. We recently had a behavior issue come up to be handled between us…once she understood how much her behavior was irritating me, and once I understood more deeply from her perspective what was motivating the behavior, the behavior stopped in a matter of moments. Tara felt bad. I felt bad. We worked it out. We hugged and kissed. It’s a different relationship. Tara is a different being. Our relationship is something else entirely.
Each animal, and each human, is an individual. Each situation is unique. Each animal has their own journey, their own path, which may or may not have anything to do with us.
And it is my job as an animal communicator, working with my animal and human clients, to remember this.
If I have an agenda that I must be able to solve a problem, I won’t be able to listen with full presence to either the animal or human’s perspective.
I only really have one job. To listen. To translate as accurately as I can. To help where I can, and to get out of the way when I can’t.
We never can truly know the mystery, the journey, the beauty of another soul. We can catch glimpses, and in these moments we see eternity. And for me, this is the golden nugget, the lure that brings me back, again and again, to presence, to my open heart, to the reason that I do this work that is my soul’s greatest joy.
Loving Milo, and navigating this situation with him, Louie, and the rest of our family, has taught me huge lessons about love, acceptance, presence, and commitment. I would not trade these lessons for the world–even for a peaceful, everyone-gets-along household. The lessons are too deep, too precious, too important.
The animals are with us. Sometimes they are our partners, sometimes our teachers, sometimes our adversaries, sometimes our friends. They challenge us in our deepest, most wounded, most vulnerable places. They heal us in those same places. And we challenge them…and heal them…it’s a beautiful circle.
When we learn to share our love…without agenda…without requirement…without needing or wanting things to be any different than they are, right here, right now, we know that each of us is the shining star. Each of us is the brilliant galaxy.
As we travel together, we see this light in each other… sometimes we come together for a short time, sometimes for lifetimes….sometimes for forever. This is the practice. This is the journey. This is the light that pulls us on. And this is the magical Universe that we create together.
Turns out, the Magical Milo Solar System is a pretty cool place to be.