Stop. Stay. Heal.

Image by Nick_H from Pixabay dog-2655472_1920.jpg

Image by Nick_H from Pixabay

We all do it. Push through illness or injury, or continue on a course of action that doesn’t feel right. We keep going because we have to, or bad things will happen. Right?

Except when we make a different choice and something better happens.

I heal faster when I stop what I’m doing (or what I think I have to do) and allow myself to do nothing but rest and recover. Decisions turn out better when I stop, stay with the questions, and listen long enough to discern the best next step. My animal Reiki practice requires me to be fully present with whatever the moment, and only the moment, requires. Fortunately, the animals I work with teach me how to show up fully in exactly this way.

During the anxiety, restlessness, and melancholy of the coronavirus pandemic, our animal friends are supporting us. They may bug us to pony up a treat or take them for a socially-distanced walk. They may generously help us get our work done at home. In any case, they ask us to stop, stay, and let ourselves heal in their presence.

Most animals will take breaks when needed. Our cat Lucy, a natural healer, has been putting in more lap time recently. Then I’ll find her lounging under the bed, something she hasn’t done in years. Molly the dog, when not on increased alert to delivery vehicles and foot traffic, has been sticking close by. Dusty the calico has kicked the comic relief up a notch, but still pointedly trots up the stairs when she’s ready to retire for the night.

If your animal friends seem anxious or stressed, tell them they do not need to take this on. I’ve been telling my crew and my clients’ animals that smart humans are working on solutions, and we can all help by being patient and courageous. Each in his or her own way, animals offer their prayers and healing intentions. They already know how.

Our world has been pushing through pain. Now much of what we thought we had to do has come to a stop. We are asked to stop the spread of the virus by staying home and, if we have to go out, practicing social distancing. This lets us protect one another, and it  gives our doctors, nurses, and first responders a fighting chance to help people heal.

Now that we’re stopped and staying, what can we do? Ricochet between bored and scared?

We can stay with our animal friends and ourselves. We can pray and send positive energy to those affected by the virus, the medical staff caring for them, and the scientists and health officials who are figuring this out. We can donate to funds set up to help the unemployed, support local businesses, and connect with one another through a variety of non-physical means. (Isn’t this what technology is for? Just sayin’.)

We can nourish our well-being and ask ourselves how we want post-pandemic life to look and feel. What steps can we take right here, right now, to make that happen?

The nudge of a dog’s nose, the rumble of a cat’s purr, or the knowing glance of a horse’s eye could provide the inspiration and connection to bring those intentions to life.

And if you and your animal friend would benefit from a communication session to address behavioral issues or a distant Reiki session to help both of you relax and reset, I am here.

A warrior and her dog

RightSide_FINAL-397x600It would be easy not to like LeAnne Hogan, the principal character in The Right Side (Atria Books, 2017), a marked departure from Spencer Quinn’s popular Chet and Bernie mysteries. The Army sergeant is recovering at Walter Reed Hospital after a disastrous mission in Afghanistan left her without her right eye and with her face and psyche badly scarred.

You want to thank LeAnne, for whom the Army has been her life, for her service. She would lash out at you for that. Various people offer kindness and assistance, and all she can think about is punching them out. Her only connection to a possibly humane world is her hospital roommate, Marci.

That’s when you realize — if, like me, you have no experience with military service, war, or the kind of injury and betrayal LeAnne has experienced — that you have no clue and just need to keep reading. Especially since you already know from the cover and description that there’s a dog in this story.

The dog doesn’t enter the picture until later, after Marci has suddenly died and LeAnne has made a cross-country drive, winding up in Marci’s home town in Washington state. As animals do, the big black canine turns up at a critical moment. Later named Goody, she annoys the hell out of LeAnne, but the two begin to find a way forward.

LeAnne tried running again. The dog helped, partly by pulling her along, but after what must have been a few hundred yards — meaning much farther than her first attempt — LeAnne began to suspect there was more than that to this little resurgence. Something the dog had deep inside was making its way down the leash and sharing itself with her. How was that possible? Did life run on some sort of magic rules that she’d missed the whole time? All LeAnne knew was that strength from the dog had passed into her own legs, and although she didn’t come close to running the way she used to run — and this performance wasn’t even respectable — she was doing better.

Turns out Goody was just getting started, and so was LeAnne.

It’s worth noting that Quinn, in the acknowledgments, thanks two Army veterans for reading and critiquing the manuscript for the novel. Truth may be stranger than fiction, but authenticity never hurt a good story.