Learning from our pets



We can learn a lot from nature, and from our pets. Many of the lessons taught by our pets are about the capacity for forgiveness and love, but there’s more we can learn if we pay attention.



I have 2 long-haired, domestic black cat roommates: “Ganny” & “Calli”. They came into my home at a time when I also had 2 dogs. The dogs have since crossed over the rainbow bridge, and the cats reign supreme as the non-humans in my home.

My grown children both have dogs, and on occasion, I dog-sit for them. When I first began to watch the dogs, I didn’t think the cats would have any issues since they were raised with dogs. But something interesting unfolded once Ganny & Calli were introduced to their canine “cousins”.


When Lucie comes over, Ganny & Calli head upstairs and take up residence under my bed. They remain there until Lucie leaves with an occasional trepidation-filled tiptoe down the stairs to view her from behind the gates that separate the downstairs from their safe haven upstairs.

It is much different when Krypto and Saturn come to my house. While Ganny & Calli are initially annoyed, they are not afraid of Krypto and Saturn. True, Lucie is bigger than Krypto and Saturn combined, but all 3 dogs live in loving homes, and are spoiled members of my children’s families.  The difference, I believe, is in the energy that is put off by each dog.

Krypto & Saturn

Krypto & Saturn

All 3 dogs cohabitate with multiple cats, but something about Lucie’s energy scares my cats into avoiding her, while they are nonplussed by Krypto and Saturn. Lucie is not coming into my home and telling them she means to play rough. Similarly, Krypto and Saturn don’t come in and announce that they don’t plan to howl and chase them (which is what Lucie does if I don’t keep the gates up!). Ganny & Calli can sense, or pick up the energy emitted by these different-tempered dogs that indicates what action is in their best interest.

People have these same abilities, but unlike Ganny & Calli, we often second guess ourselves when we get the “Lucie’s coming over” vibe – especially if we are on a spiritual journey of self-improvement.

We have all met people who caused the hair on the back of our necks to stand up, or who seemed really nice and friendly, but whom we never felt comfortable around. Sometimes this happens at work; other times in social settings where friends and others extol the wondrous qualities of Ms. Charming or Mr. Wonderful, making it harder for us to figure out what our higher self is communicating through the feeling of unease.

And the more self-aware/spiritually evolved that we are, the more likely it is that we will look inward to find some fault in ourselves when we don’t just love the Ms. Charmings or Mr. Wonderfuls that come along.

We may tell ourselves, “I must be jealous of her” or “Maybe I’m intimidated by his success” After all, look how much everyone else loves them – I must be wrong/bad/flawed.

It’s always a good idea to self-check our immediate reactions to people. As humans we do react in ways that can be attributed to jealousy, fear of not measuring up or other things that we can control and correct in ourselves.

When we do the self-work and we uncover opportunities for growth, the physical reactions we initially experienced around that person should diminish. If they do not, we should continue doing our self-work to clear out the issues we are being shown by these life teachers. But let me be clear on something here: if we’re doing the work, and this issue is all ours, the physical reactions to people will begin to diminish and with the work, over time will evaporate.

However; if we have worked, prayed, meditated and worked some more on ourselves – making good progress in similar situations with others – and yet some people still elicit the negative physical reactions when we are around them; it’s time to consider that it’s not us – it’s them.

Many years ago I worked with a group of people that I enjoyed very much. We had fun at work, and joined in activities outside of work. This was a place where people came and went a lot, so it was not unusual for our group to grow and one week a new employee came on board.

Everyone loved this person, and by all outward appearances, they were a nice person. They were polite, kind, had similar life experiences to the rest of us – one of the gang, if you will. Except that they made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

I could see that this person was well-liked by all of my friends, so I played along. I said nothing, but the gut feeling never subsided. I was earlier on my spiritual journey than I am today, but I had enough self-awareness on board that I was checking my own “issues” regularly to see what I could possibly be adding to this. Yet even with all of that self-work, I was still uncomfortable with this person.

Long story short, after about 8 months in, it was discovered that this person was stealing from the employer and doing so in such a way that some others who were NOT stealing were in danger of getting swept up in the punishment.

In this case, my gut instincts were clearly spot on and I avoided getting caught up in a legal mess by listening to my gut and keeping my distance from that person. The reasons for a sustained wariness about someone may never rise to the level of theft or other crimes, but this does not mean we should discount what our higher intelligence is telling us.

Sometimes the energy we are picking up isn’t that the person has criminal tendencies, but that their agenda is all about them, and not aligned with our best interests. Like Ganny & Calli, who don’t mind playing with the gentler, smaller Krypto & Saturn but who are frightened of what might happen with the more excitable and much larger Lucie; our higher self knows when people are using us for their own gain.

Our gut tells us when someone’s intent is to use us for their own advancement. Our higher self can see through words, fake smiles and phony niceness to an agenda that says “this is all about me“. And while the ramifications of being manipulated into doing all the work so someone else can reap the benefits are much less dangerous than being caught up in criminal activity; why would we ever spend precious time and talent to advance someone else’s life goals instead of our own?

Lucie the dog would never seriously hurt my cats. She would bark, howl and chase them all through the house eventually pouncing on them, nipping at their paws and slobbering all over them. The chase would be the highlight of her weekend and she would dream of the fun for weeks afterward. She wants them to be a part of her plan, but the question is: what’s in it for Ganny & Calli?

The answer is “not much”.

They hide when Lucie visits because they know that cooperating with Lucie means that they serve as toys for her – not equal partners. They could play along and help her achieve her goal of having fun, and while they’d not be seriously hurt by it – it sure isn’t high on their list of the way to spend a weekend. They’d be exhausted from all the running, hissing, and hiding, and covered in dog slobber. Plus, I’ve never met a dog that can leave cat food alone, so they’d also have to fight her for their own food.

Ganny & Calli instinctively know that Lucie’s goals are not on par with theirs, and so they have made the decision not to submit their time to her agenda. When we experience sustained negative, physical reactions to someone (or several someones) that cannot be tied to overt negative (criminal) activities, we may be deciding that we don’t care to spend a lot of our time and talent to entertain them and wind up exhausted while they walk away with their goals met.

I think my cats are tuned into a higher wisdom that I can learn from. If I’m going to work hard, have to fight for what’s rightfully mine, and end up with someone else’s slobber all over me; I’m going to make sure that I’m pursuing my dreams and desires – not making a way for someone else’s. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

(C) 2017 Practitioner's Path

Divine Right

When we teach the use of the Golden Thread to find lost items, we remind people that when something is ours by right of divine consciousness; it must return to us as that is the spiritual law.

Something that is not often discussed in this context is how this principle applies to more than lost money, jewelry or keys. It also applies to ideas, businesses and other forms of intellectual property.

I discovered this in an unintentional way a couple years ago. I had been asked to present to a local business group at the last minute, and decided to share Will Bowen’s Complaint Free World concept. It was instantly popular and for the next 2 years I was invited to speak at local, state and national conferences to share the Complaint Free concept.

I always presented it as Will Bowen’s idea, and described how I had seen it work in healthcare and other workplaces. Still, as popular as the talks became, it never felt “right” and it always ended up costing more money than I ever received for the talks. Even though I was being open about whose idea it was; sharing his website and encouraging people to get the Complaint Free World purple bracelets, the “energetic fit” was not there because the Complaint Free World energetically belongs to Will Bowen. It is his by right of divine consciousness.

I finally put it all together when I presented a new topic at another conference – a topic I developed in its entirety. It earned great accolades and an invitation to be a keynote speaker the following year. I realized that as wonderful as the Complaint Free World concept is, and as generous as I was in giving Will Bowen the credit; it was not my topic. There was an energetic mismatch between that idea and my success as a speaker, so while I could continue to go around and present Will’s topic; I would never succeed as I had done when I presented content, ideas – intellectual property – that was my own by divine right.

We are watching something similar happen “bigly” on the national scene. A person now inhabits 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and it is becoming clearer every day that he used questionable means to secure that address for himself. It is obvious to everyone with any kind of spiritual knowledge that the position he holds is most certainly NOT his by divine right because things would be going much differently for him if it were.

When we take something that very clearly belongs to someone else and we try to make it ours – even if we are being upfront about it – it’s like trying to pull off wearing someone else’s tailored suit. It’s either going to fit sloppily – like a child wearing his father’s suit – or we’re going to pop buttons and bust out the seams.

The pattern that guided the creation of that clothing was not made for us, so the fit will never be there. We can pin the suit, get it hemmed, or take it to a tailor to let out the seams but it will never really be our suit. It will be someone else’s suit that we are wearing.

The pattern that guides the creation of a tailored suit is like the energy someone puts into a project, a business or an idea. It is unique. And when we take someone else’s idea, business or concept and we try to make it our own – the results are the same. We look like we’re wearing someone else’s clothes – maybe not terrible, but not terrific either.

Apple (rainbow)There is an energy to ideas. There is power in the excitement that is generated as plans are made and things are built. So if we take someone else’s ideas and try to run with them as our own, the results never pan out.

There is no better example of this than the ouster of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who was fired by the Apple board in 1985. He was brash, unpredictable, and they didn’t like his style. They thought they knew better.

But by 1997 Apple was losing the race to Microsoft and operating at a loss. The board realized that as unconventional as Jobs was in the corporate sense, they were on the fast track to failure without him. They re-hired him in August of that year, and the rest, they say, is history (you can read about that here).

If you know anything about Steve Jobs and Apple, you know that it was his energy that inspired the original computer that was built in a garage; his energy that brought the company forward, made it great, and ultimately saved it from becoming a footnote in history. Apple made great products; but they were unable to be successful without Steve Jobs, because the ideas were his by divine right.

When we find ourselves struggling with a project, a business idea or other endeavor and by all outward appearances, things should be working much more smoothly; the first thing we should do is an energetic assessment. If it’s ours by divine right of consciousness,…we can’t fail. And if we’re failing, we’ve taken ownership of something that wasn’t ours in the first place.

(C) 2017 Practitioners Path


A Light in the World

“Science of Mind in its broadest and truest sense includes all there is in science, religion and philosophy. It is the result of the best thought of the ages.” [SOM Archives]

The teachings of New Thought are based upon much of what traditional religions have already put forth across the centuries. It is well-documented that Ernest Holmes relied heavily on the teachings of Jesus and the Christian Bible, as he compiled what would become his life work and the “textbook” of a movement: The Science of Mind. It’s important to remember that those texts mirror teachings across many cultures and continents.

And so it is not only instructive to return to these ancient holy books to reconsider various points of curiosity; it is required of all who claim the mantle of spiritual teacher. In fact, it is inconceivable in the truest definition of teaching that anyone would cling to a handful of teachings in a tradition built on such an intricate and deep tapestry as is the spiritual inheritance of Science of Mind, without regularly spending time in the source literature.

Therefore, it remains important to review, revisit, reconsider and re-read biblical texts (Christian, Hebrew and Gnostic), the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao te Tzing and more to remain informed, responsive and reliable as a spiritual leader and teacher.

This topic came to me this week as I was listening to a particular Michael Gott song, A Light in the World. The words are simple and as is always the case with Michael Gott, the music deeply inspiring.

“I am a light in the world,…”

The refrain is repeated throughout, with a couple minor variations.

To shine our “light” the farthest, we must have many facets, like a diamond. A diamond’s brilliance is added by its facets, which are “smooth surface areas of a diamond which have been cut, polished and positioned at different angles which allow light to enter and reflect back from the stone. The …facets control the brilliance and the durability of a diamond. The quality of the facets of a diamond are the major determining factor in enhancing the diamond’s ability to sparkle or reflect light and play a large part in the resulting brilliance of the stone.”

flawless-diamondLike facets on a diamond; the depth of the knowledge, and the quality of the foundation in any teaching ministry determine the ability of the message to reach across a community, and to touch people meaningfully; to shine.

As spiritual teachers, the facets we “cut” into our brilliant diamond (messages) come from continued and in-depth study of the various wisdom texts that form the foundation of New Thought. If we choose only to teach from the New Thought interpretations of these resources, we are a flat stone without any reflecting facets.

When we take the inspirational perspectives of any number of New Thought teachers, and we go deep to read (re-read) and study the parallel lessons from the ancient teachings and texts, we add facets – letting the light in from another angle that we can reflect back outward. Our message gains greater depth and brilliance that will resonate longer and more deeply than if we just repeat or rephrase the New Thought interpretation.

Here’s an example of the lesson of “consciousness” (New Thought) or “faith” (traditional Christian) from the book of James in the New Testament of the Christian Bible.

Count it all joy… when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you lacks wisdom, … ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given. But … ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that they will receive anything from the Lord; 8 they are double-minded, unstable in all ways.

This counsel from James highlights the importance of faith at all times, even when we “meet trial of various kinds” and goes on to coach readers that we must ask in faith “with no doubting,…”. It also opens the chapter saying that we are to “count it all joy” – good AND bad.

If we only read verses 5 and 6, we might be able to draw a straight line to the New Thought teaching that “it’s all consciousness“. It seems to say: ask with strong faith and we will receive; have doubts and all bets are off. This buttresses the claim that anything we experience is consciousness, so if things are not going well – it’s all us! Let’s keep reading, though and see if that holds up.

12 Blessed is the [person] who remains steadfast under trial, for when s/he has stood the test s/he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Aaaaah, there is value in being tested; in experiencing life’s ups and downs for it produces wisdom, resilience or as noted here, “the crown of life“.

The great learning value of failure is gospel in modern day leadership circles. Warren Buffet shares this regularly as do other successful icons. We learn deep and abiding lessons from our own failures and while our mindset and consciousness certainly play a role in how we got into one mess or another (and how we get out); we lose something along the way when we focus only on the consciousness aspect and neglect the ancient truth that struggle and strife are an IMPORTANT part of life’s learning process.

And then there’s the extreme view that takes root in some corners that all we need is consciousness – even to the exclusion of action. No one who has a biblical background can teach that with a straight face.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, s/he is like a person who looks intently at their natural face in a mirror. 24 For they look at themselves and go away and at once forgets what they were like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, they will be blessed in their doing.

Doers will be blessed in their actions. We will all walk circuitous paths, fraught with boulders, detours, pain and sorrow. Along the way we will also encounter many opportunities for success, joy, peace and happiness.

The deep truth that lies beneath the surface lesson of “it’s all consciousness” is that consciousness is but a tool.  We can use it to our benefit, but we must understand that no spiritual hocus pocus can protect us from the trials of physical life on this earth. We become conquerors when we recognize that we will experience challenges; but that we have a choice. We and we alone have to decide whether to allow life’s challenges to defeat us, or to keep getting up, learning the lessons, and moving forward.

And when we choose the 2nd path, we are indeed A Light in the World.


(C) 2017 Practitioner's Path

The power of allowing

Seed pod (floating)

Sometimes wisdom floats by in such a quiet and unassuming way that we risk missing the lesson.

I have the great fortune of being surrounded by winged creatures almost continuously when I walk at work. Butterflies, birds and my favorite: dragonflies.

Last Spring and Summer it seemed as though I had a dedicated dragonfly posse that accompanied me each time I walked. This year the dragonflies are still around, but I’ve noticed that when I am out and about, and even when I look out my large office window from the 2nd floor of the building, I see a “puffy“.

A “puffy” is what I call the rounded, floating seed pods that take flight this time of year. They are quiet, and quite easy to miss in the noise and activity of a typical day. I was watching one such “puffy” the other day outside my window and wondered aloud why I was seeing so many of them this year. I’d always been aware of them but this year I was actively seeing them – almost every time I turned around.

I have learned over the years that when something keeps popping up, I need to pay attention. So I took note of the ever-present puffies and began to ponder their meaning or message for me.

As I watched the different floating messengers, I noticed that their energy is quite passive. They accept any little breeze that blows by and just go with it. They don’t curl their shapes into a resistance stance or cling to their current location. They remain loose and round and just float on the breeze.

In my silent pondering of these gentle seeds, the word “allowing” came to me and I knew that was my message. This message in a different form came to me earlier this year and I shared it in a blog. When multiple messengers come bearing the same counsel, it’s time to pay attention!

When we realize that our plans and goals are not coming to fruition on the timeframe that we had hoped, our human instinct is to “dig in” and push harder. While hard work is certainly a foundation for success, we need to balance our physical efforts with our spiritual ones. The practice of allowing is an important spiritual tool.

No matter what it is that we have “planted” in our lives, we can benefit from learning how to allow as part of the creative process. When we feel the stress of trying to make something happen; taking a break and releasing our grip on whatever it is will help lower our stress, ease our minds, and relax the energy that is surrounding the issue or project we are working on. When we relax that energy we also open the space around us and allow for infinite possibilities to flow in our direction.

Some of my best ideas in life have come when I finally threw my hands up, said “that’s it!” and surrendered to the flow of life. Jobs, relationships and other life decisions have benefitted from me letting go, and allowing Infinite Intelligence to flow and guide my focus and path.

The next time you feel stress around trying to make something happen, practice the puffy stance, and feel the magic, the peace and the perfection of allowing.

(and if you need some help in adopting that “allowing” stance, sit back & let this Karen Drucker song ease you into it!)

(C) 2017 Practitioner's Path