Happy Holidays everyone!

I first shared this column with you in December of 2007. This has been a very challenging year for all of us, and I wanted to share it again.

The season of gift-giving is upon us. Some of us will frantically search for just the right gift, the gift that says just the right thing, expresses just the right emotion, the gift that shows us off in just the right light. We will plan and shop and prepare. We will spend far too much money and far too much energy and will end up feeling depleted and sad.

Others of us will give as little thought as possible to the chore of gift-buying and will speed down department store aisles mere days before our family gathering or our office gathering or the gathering at our place of worship, grabbing at whatever—they can always return it if they don’t like it—and paying extra for gift-wrapping. We will spend far too much money and far too much energy and will end up feeling depleted and sad.

Several years ago, a woman in one of my Reiki classes shared this story. The year before, she had been on vacation in Costa Rica and had been swept off the beach by a riptide. Her neck was broken in two places. She was told she might never walk again.

The woman, a successful groomer and dog sitter, always had a house full of dogs. She told of coming home from the hospital and being immobilized for weeks, her bed surrounded by dogs, both hers and other people’s. When her husband would come to check on her, he had to pick his way over and between the pack because they refused to move. She told us, her voice heavy with emotion, that she was certain it was the energy and love of these creatures that made it possible for her to walk again.

Later, with the aid of a walker, she was able to take daily walks to the corner. She would take several dogs with her. “They only needed one walk,” she said, laughing. “It took all day.” She took four at a time, two leashes in each hand, inching her way down the sidewalk. She said, “I would take a step, and they would take a step. I would stop to rest, and they would sit and wait. I would take another step, and they would take another step. I would stop, and they would sit.” The woman who was told she might never walk again told us she was soon able to walk on her own. What greater gift than this?

Giving is second nature to the creatures in our lives: the dog who teaches us about loyalty and unconditional love, the cat who teaches us about independence. Giving is second nature to the horse who hears our confessions and our prayers, who lets us bury our face in his strong, sweet neck, who nibbles our hair, who carries us on her strong back down a snowy trail, who looks us in the eye with fierce pride.

I think the animals have much to teach us about giving.

Perhaps this gift-giving season some of us will strike a better balance than we have in the past, taking our cue from the creatures in our lives. Perhaps we will fret less, enjoy each other more, give freely from our hearts.

Until next year . . .

Be well,


P.S. I have begun a Facebook group called Healing is Possible. All are welcome to join to share stories about healing (and they don’t need to be about Reiki). I hope to see you there.

*This column originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in October, 2009.

© 2009 by Pamela Sourelis