Remembering War, but Learning Peace, Acceptance and Identity through Animals

I just read a post- what is the one thing, moment.. that you will never forget. Do you remember any life-altering points you can look back to, either momentous, or maybe seemingly tiny ( at the time)? I probably have a few, but the one that came to mind is the time when I was about 17, in boarding-school/camp. I always wanted to work with horses, loved horses, related better to horses and animals than I ever had to people. It was my niche, where I felt understood, accepted and belonging. But I struggled with my parents’ refusal to support who I was, and what I wanted to do with my life. My then mentor and hero,  Ehren, whispered words that would change my life, or at least if not change it… changed my perspective. She said, with compassion and not any sense of goading: You don’t need your parents’ permission to do what you want with your life.” That was a novel, and freeing, concept.

I had spent so much of my life in pain and sadness and frustration. I hoped every day, that my parents would wake up and see me for who I was. NOT the champion swimmer, or the merit-scholar/ honour student. BE like someone else, was the daily chanted mantra. Along with that, was the echo of disappointment and rejection that reverberated through my life. My life was the daily war of attrition between hope and despair. Hope that the world would just stop pummeling me with expectations, and despair that I could ever BE what that upscale preppy world of affluence and ambition dictated as karma/destiny.

I looked the same, and as per private school- dressed the same, and yet.. was never the same. My peers knew this intuitively- uncanny creatures that kids are. and cruel. I was ignored, shunned, pushed away by my “peers.” And those were the better days. In the less-lucky days, I was called names, taunted and targeted. and to this day… ironically, perhaps.. none of those people who made my daily life such an unceasing misery.. even remember me.

And I am okay with that. These people shaped me. I can thank them, for showing me with direct experience– all of the things I do NOT… EVER,… want to be. The things that should NOT be perpetuated. I understand, NOW.. what I have learned from animals, about what we, as humans, all too often, are not.

All of those people have gone on, with varying degrees of their successes and failures. Where any of them ended up, I really do not know. And I am fine with that. When I say that they shaped who I am, I mean that I learn to find who I am. It took me a while, and a wandering path, literally and metaphorically, to find the firm footing of identity and acceptance that comes with awareness.

I don’t know that I ever tried to BE like other people. I often floated, fleetingly, through the peripheries of social cliques- like a foreigner, looking for the hint of native tongue- someone who spoke a language that was comprehensive.. someone who was ” like me.”

I have found it, a few times, over the years, in varying degrees. A few good friends, for whom I would do most anything… and have done a few hair-brained things… with never a regret.

But through all those turbulent years of “growing up,” animals, and horses, were my tether- to identity, to direction, to sanity, and Soul. They taught me more than anything else– what is important, what matters and what is needed. We don’t need more Latte’s or designer coffee. Our kids don’t need more after school activities and structured conformity-inducing “enrichment.”

We all need the compassion that animals freely offer us. The acceptance of who we are NOW, that has nothing to do with expensive cars, successful careers, money, affluent friends and snobbery. whether it is a teeny furry ball of kitten-fur, or a 1500 pound horse, and all things in between, They don’t WANT… anything… FROM us ( other than at feeding time:) They become the mirrors, or our own best ( and sometimes worst) selves.

Do we come home from a long day, too tired to see that they are HAPPY we are there, both in this moment, and in this world. Do we push them aside, in our hurry to race through the minutiae of expected modern living? Or do we stop, see them, and the love that flows out of them, overflows, radiating vital heart-energy that they GIVE to replenish the vital heart-energy that our lives suck from our soul?

I never got the approval of my parents, and my siblings hold little regard for who or where I am. and for certain, my peers were never going to ” get it.”.. But that isn’t what it’s all about. I.. got it. I know that I followed the path that I knew was in front of me– even when I couldn’t see it, or understand the concept of ”a path.”…

So- while we remember those who have given their lives for the things we ” hold dear.,” and I believe we need to be politically questioning a lot of things in this world– we need to remember the ones that have been here all along, giving their lives in service to us. Shaping us, sometimes silently, along the way.  The ones who have been trying to help us each find our own best selves. and also, those who have set us on the path and held the space around us. Yes- many have shaped our lives, both personally and as a country. What we do with it, who we choose to become– and that IS a choice… what we do, moving forward… is how we remember and honour… those who have touched our lives, sparking that inner flame, creating a potential that previously didn’t exist.

And as an end note– to those who gave their lives, in past and present wars- they stood their ground for a belief in something. We owe those people no less, than to stand firm in whatever belief we hold, whatever line in our own inner-wars. And- we all need to ask, collectively… for all those who gave their lives in War: do we not owe them the legacy of Peace? Perpetuating WAR, does no honour to those who laid down their lives. Maybe we need to look to the animals, and learn those lessons of Peace, acceptance, and compassion.  Look to the animals and the children.  What lesson is there, that they have not forgotten– and are trying so desperately to instill back into each of us?



I am an Education Specialist, Health Coach and Author. I work with aspects of the teachings I have learned from Andean shamanic and cosmology, to health, nutrition and education.  Everything is energy. Energy must flow. Like water, when it does not flow, it stagnates and is not healthy. These techniques help your life to flow. I have been initiated into many of the ancient lineages and learned ceremonies, rites of passage and healing techniques.  I have worked as a healer and done workshops and taught some of these aspects – passing the teachings on.

Author of:
Dancing in Your Bubble : ancient teaching, modern healing
Natural Support for Alzheimer’s
Getting a Handle on Happy : find and fix causes of stress and depression
The Naturally Smarter Kid : a parent’s guide to helping kids succeed in school and life
Cafe of the Hungry Ghosts : behind the veil of ordinary – a paranormal-ish fiction book