“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul has been unawakened.”  Anatole France

“What do our animals want us to know in 2016?” I ask my cat. Sami tells me their wish is that we focus on self-care. She explains our animals help us the best they can by supporting us energetically, healing us, and helping to alleviate our stress. She shows me images of the beach; then laughs as we watch large, powerful dogs leap into the waters of Puget Sound with great exuberance only to return with a treasured stick. People laugh and shriek in surprise, jumping out of the way to avoid water and sand heading their way, as these wet, playful dogs roll around in beach sand!  Sami and I are amused by their spontaneity and the ensuing chaos and laughter. Next, we chuckle at the image of a squirrel circling my dog at a local park, taunting her. She looks forward to this every day. “Dogs!”  Sami exclaims with a pleased smile. We see our energy fields light up and expand in these simple moments.

With holiday treats and schedules askew, our focus for the New Year returns to one of a healthy mind, body and spirit. Our desire is shared by our animals. It’s not uncommon to learn they have merged with our energy to reduce or remove anything that isn’t helpful. They take on our symptoms and show us where we are out of balance. When we become aware of our impact on the animals we live with, we also gain an awareness of our responsibility to do something about it. When I notice a change or new behavior in my dog, I ask myself is this mine, his, or a combination? It’s most often both. Next, I look at what I can do to change it. I ask myself, do I need more time in nature for better sleep, focus, and to lift my spirit?

Sami reminds us that taking care of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs sends messages of love to our cells, energy fields and every aspect of us, seen and unseen. The laughter and love we experience playing with animals or petting them raise our serotonin and dopamine, the nerve transmitters that calm us and increase our pleasure. I feel refreshed and more grounded after walking my dogs. Even a short walk can boost your mood and help with depression by making us feel connected and loved. Sami reminds me animals were dubbed “man’s best friend” for a reason.

Veterinarians often comment that animals have the same issues as their people. I recall a story of a veterinarian discussing side effects of a heart medication for a dog. The family responded they were very familiar with the medication. Every person in the family was on the same medication. The interesting thing is the dog lived with the brother’s family for many years and was very healthy. If you are dealing with a problem and have ruled out medical issues, look at what’s going on in your life or home.

Please tell your cat or dog if you’re struggling with an issue that it’s not related to them. They don’t have barriers to our thoughts. Assure them you’ve got this! Show them images in your mind of steps you intend to take.

My cat, Sami, crossed over six months ago at the age of 14. While here, she honored herself by making sure her needs were met. Over the years, she often sat on my lap, purring, and making it clear when she desired Reiki’s healing energy. When she had enough, she would simply get up and leave. I admired that she asked for what she needed. She was a great role model for self-care.

Our animals ask us to put ourselves higher on our priority list and make time to relax and do the things that make our hearts sing. Paint, create beauty in your garden or try something entirely new; find a creative outlet and open up a whole new world. You are more than you think. That’s the point, they say. Stop thinking so much! We are here to experience all that we desire. Find joy in the moment.

If your self-care includes bringing a new animal into your life this year, consider visiting a shelter. A couple recently relayed they were looking at two dogs at a shelter when the husband felt a tug on his pants leg. He found himself looking into the eyes of a dog they hadn’t noticed; he seemed to be saying “It’s me you’re looking for!” They are now “over the moon” with their new companion. Whether you live with an animal or volunteer in any way, giving back is another way to “feed the soul” and increase our sense of satisfaction and purpose. There are plenty of ways to share our love with every living being on the planet. It’s “the circle of life” Sami exclaims.

When I ask Sami for any finals words, she asks that we take the time necessary to get to really know our animals and include them. Learn why they are with you. Tell others who they are and what they mean to you. Animals remind us of what’s important. Let them teach you. They are our mirrors. Your life will be enriched in more ways than you realize. Take care of yourself and find that “attitude of gratitude” she concludes.

Wise words.