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Gifts Beyond the List

This time of year, I always experience a moment of frenzied gift shopping, trying to brainstorm, search, and find presents by a deadline. Despite the frenzy, it always makes me more aware of the “random” gifts that come to us naturally all the time.



A couple of days ago, my sister-in-law found a snowman Beanie Baby among their Christmas decorations. It was the first toy that their dog Gizmo had ever loved. He’d carry it gingerly around the house and never caused it any harm. As my sister-in-law held the snowman in her hands, she told Gizmo out loud that she missed him since he’d crossed over earlier this year. Under an hour later, she received a text from a former dog-sitter filled with pictures of Gizmo she had taken in the past. What a gift—a clear response from Gizmo, saying he was still there, no doubt having nudged the dog-sitter to send the text at that moment.


As my birthday approached this past September, my heart ached as I missed my friend Diana who crossed over last year. I’d usually take my annual trip to see her in Milwaukee over my birthday and we’d have a mind-blowingly good time. A few days before my birthday this year, I “randomly” saw a post from an artist I follow on social media whom I’d discovered with Diana when we stopped into an art gallery during my last Milwaukee trip. The post announced how the artist was showing her work again at that same gallery Diana and I had loved visiting. When I looked closer, I saw that a piece shown in the post was of a cardinal, one of the specific signs I receive from Diana. It felt in my heart like that was a birthday gift from Diana, so I reached out to the artist and purchased the cardinal artwork. What a gift to look at it every day and feel even closer than ever to my friend.


Loved ones on the other side have gift-giving down—they know how, when, and what to give us to help us feel their love just as vibrantly as we had in the past. But that’s not the only place gifts can come from.


One day three years ago as I sat at my desk with our cats Calla and Faro nearby, a large pigeon landed on my windowsill. Instantly I felt that the bird, from his safe vantage point on the other side of the glass, was calmly amused by the two cats, who tensed up and swished their tales like crazy. Then somehow Calla and Faro’s excitement turned into a tussle, and they started smacking each other. (We had recently adopted Calla, and her introduction to Faro wasn’t going super smoothly.) As was usual for me at the time, I immediately stressed out and wanted more than anything to break up the fight. I knew that never helped the situation, so I turned to the pigeon (who was giving me wise-owl vibes), connected in, and asked for any insight into my cats. He responded by telling me to let my cats work it out themselves— that my intervention would only prolong this natural process of getting to know each other and establishing a dynamic.


With that, I immediately shifted my energy to neutral and detached, giving it all up to Calla and Faro, trusting the natural process. The moment I shifted, they both relaxed their bodies, looked at each other with the energetic equivalent of a kitty shrug, and walked away from each other.


The gift that day was multifaceted—I experienced how centering and grounding myself worked miracles, how precisely in tune with my energy my cats were, and how very useful wisdom can come from the most unexpected places.


The biggest gifts of all? That this world made of energy makes anything possible. That it all comes back to love, faith, and trust every time. That when we give the universe our awareness, authenticity, and allowing, everything from “random” cardinals and snowmen to all-knowing pigeons can show up bearing the deepest gifts of the heart. 💜

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