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This Will Make You Pay Attention

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It was a day like any day. The sun was shining, the birds chirping (very Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), with the sound of construction off in the distance as I glanced out of my balcony window drinking my morning coffee. I often wake before everyone else and like to sit quietly by myself, often reading. I begin to hear the sounds of pitter-pattering feet on the floor and some rustling in the bedroom. It seems my husband and puppy dogs, Mr Anderson and Mr Oliver, are getting up. Mr Oliver comes walking out of the bedroom and then stops to stretch and yawn before he heads over for his routine bark with excitement to get me to go to the kitchen and cut him a piece of apple. Oliver, the younger of our two ‘puppies’, as I like to call them, is an 11-year-old miniature pinscher that I swear is my soul twin. It fills me with great joy and laughter as I watch his little personality and am constantly reminded of myself. My little heart chakra on legs (credit goes to my friend, author and leading personal development personality, Arielle Ford for this perfect phrase). After I’ve handed over the apple, Mr Anderson and my husband Timm come out from the bedroom and Mr Anderson stretches and yawns. However, for some reason, he likes to do it on my Yoga mat. The Downward Dog. He’s the older of the two at 12 so his stretches seem to be a little longer and a little deeper and he, like my husband, is not as food-driven as Mr Oliver and I, so he just comes in for the snuggles.

Oh, how I love my mornings with my boys. They’re so peaceful and often involve me reading to my husband over a few coffees before he heads off to his studio. But today was his day off and it was a beautiful sunny mild spring day. Perfect for a walk. Walks in my neighbourhood, though, had become a source of anxiety for me. But I went because I am aware how important it is for me and my puppies to move our bodies, especially because the majority of the time I am sitting behind my computer. The reason I have lost interest in walking in my neighbourhood is because, like people, Mr Anderson and Mr Oliver are sensitive to our environment and other people. And because there are so many other dogs and people in my neighbourhood we have a few run-ins which are less than peaceful. Maybe it’s a little-dog thing, but they seem to turn into monster dogs when we meet other dogs and people. We even took them to dog school at which they were gold star dogs until we got home! So walking them posed a consistent challenge for us and it was something that I did just to get it over with, making sure I took them to the same poles and spots where they liked to do their business as quick as I possibly could. I was never really present, enjoying the act or giving them the opportunity to either – always, almost literally sometimes, dragging them home as soon as I saw another dog coming our way. But this day turns out to be a little different. I take Oliver and of course Timm takes Mr Anderson, our familiars. And as we are walking something peculiar happens, or at least peculiar to me. My husband yells, ‘Watch out, look at your feet!’ And of course I automatically think ‘snake’, and that it’s going to bite me or Oliver, and one of us is going to die. (There’s that monkey mind again.) However, it wasn’t a snake or anything that could harm us at all. In fact, they were tiny and fragile and for the entire nine years that I had lived here I had never seen them before, but I was about to be made aware that they had been there all along.

Tiny beautiful snails on the sidewalk were trying to cross over from one sanctuary of grass to another before the sun got too hot and dried them all up. But how strange. All these years I had never even noticed them. And there I stood watching my husband picking them up one by one and putting them on the other side of the grass. There were dozens and watching him help them all along was probably one of the most expanding things I have ever witnessed. Like the Grinch who stole Christmas, my heart grew two sizes that day. And because I, and so many others that had been walking that path, had been so disconnected and concerned with ‘getting something done’ as opposed to really being present and enjoying the walk, not only did we do it with less presence but what we hadn’t noticed was that we were walking on and killing dozens of tiny little creatures along the way. This temporarily broke my heart and I felt a deep sense of guilt and shame that my lack of awareness cut short the lives of these innocent little creatures, who in themselves are a reminder to take things slow and steady with awareness. When I returned home, I looked up the spiritual meaning of a snail to see if, besides the obvious lesson of awareness, there was another message this experience and these little creatures had for me. And lo and behold, they did. The spiritual symbology of snails begins with the fact that they are spiritually known to bridge the gap of awareness between the physical and spiritual world (wisdom), and they carry their home, or one could say their innate spiritual wisdom, with them wherever they go. They also symbolize taking our time and enjoying the process.

AHA! There it is again. Every time we stop, take it slow and live our life with presence, the truth of our awareness is right there for us to discover. That is – if we pay attention. If not, just like me with the snails on the sidewalk, we go through life never knowing what kind of impact we’ve had on our environment and most importantly ourselves. Living disconnected from ourselves, without presence, we never really quite enjoy life or even understand its purpose as we are far too busy trying to ‘get it done’ and miss out on the little creatures with big messages along the way. A few days after, while I am enjoying my morning coffee outside on my balcony, I look down at my feet and there is a snail. Perhaps a little reminder from the universe of the lesson I had learned only days before, and to remember to live each day with that state of awareness. Not only on a walk with my dogs but in each and everything that I do, whether it’s my morning shower, a conversation with a friend or even just watching a movie. In this age of technology we seem to be distracted by everything, constantly with our faces in our phones. Perhaps, if we lift our heads for just a minute, we’ll see that the life around us is constantly pointing to the wisdom within us.

An Excerpt from Your Vivid Life, An Invitation to Live a Radically Authentic Life

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