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The Present of Presence

Yesterday our kitty Calla and I were playing her favorite game: I move a toy mouse on a string under crinkly paper, and she dive-bombs it and rips the paper to shreds. And even though her claws are out and attacking with razor-sharp response time, usually no one gets harmed in the process. Yesterday, however, I found myself being overly cautious and kept thinking about what those claws could do. And then she pounced out of nowhere on what she thought was the toy under the paper, but in reality is was my hand. I let out a loud, dramatic, sharp yelp.

cat's paw and gift

I expected to see the worst as I drew my hand out from under the paper, but it turns out I just had a small scratch and the pain went away super fast. I immediately realized I’d been expecting the worst and overreacted with my outcry. When I happily went right back into play mode, focusing on our connection and the joy of the moment, Calla made an outrageously fast pounce again, landing once more on my hand beneath the paper, but this time there were no claws—It was all soft paws. Her claws are always out when she plays this game (any game, really), but she adjusted her instincts in that moment and it kind of blew me away.

A few years ago when I worked with the horse Mr. Big in a Costa Rican workshop, I did an exercise where, without holding reins or having any physical contact, I was supposed to get him to walk behind me and follow me around the arena. The secret to it was to embody the energy of a leader, with kindness but firm intention. While struggling to get Mr. Big to follow me, I’d been thinking a whole lot of things like, why won’t he do what I want? Why am I so bad at this? And, this is so freaking hard! I was walking ahead of him with great poise and posture, but my mind was elsewhere. As soon as I realized this and focused on being 100% in the moment, thinking of nothing else but the lovely invitation for Mr. Big to join me on a walk, I heard his footsteps behind me. I can’t tell you how incredible the feeling is when a beautiful horse who can do anything he wants chooses to walk with you.

Think about the feedback you get from the universe when you’re not present as opposed to when you are present. Being in the moment with someone and moving away from the what ifs, worries, and doubts allows us to fall in sync, understand, and deeply connect with each other. It’s the best thing we can offer ourselves and others. My animals ask me for it all the time, not just at the holidays. Presence is the present that just keeps on giving. 🎁✨

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