spirit animals

Message from Hippo. Welcome Home to Who You Are.

Message from Hippo. Welcome Home to Who You Are.

For over three years I’ve been giving thought to forming a women’s circle, which I’m in the process of preparing for, and gearing up to do, in the new year. I’m also collaborating with another young woman to offer a workshop on a Native American tradition about Talking Sticks. It will be December 21st, on the Winter Solstice.

As I move into this new space in my life I’ve been asking for guidance from the deck of Animal Wisdom Tarot cards and also from my deck of SoulCollage(r) cards I’ve created the past two years.

My question is simple as I shuffle the animal cards and my SoulCollage(r) deck: Please provide guidance for me around facilitating workshops for women.

Shivers ran up down and my spine when Hippo is the card that has revealed itself on three separate occasions in the past seven days when I’ve posed my question and Hippos wise message of Welcome home to who you are. Each time I think of this message it just makes me so happy.

And the SoulCollage(r) cards I’ve been drawing which have not been the same, but they have revolved around what I feel are reminders to follow my heart and are about the lessons I’ve learned around keeping myself grounded, going within often, and trusting in my intuition.

The first time I posed my question for guidance around doing workshops, the SoulCollage(r) card that came up was one of my spirit animals – the animal that came to me during a guided meditation in 2014 – Wolf.  The message I received at that time was to continue to open my heart and follow the fire within.

The other two cards that surfaced during two different occasions are reminders for me that no matter what I may do going forward, it is important to take time each day to refill my own well with time for reflection and meditation in some form.

And so it is. And I’m recalling when I decided to write my first children’s book – how I had feelings of fear and excitement all at the same time – and not sure where it would take me. And how I went on to write another children’s book and now two memoirs. I can’t say as I ever saw that coming or really ever planned it – but followed what felt right.  And oh, what a journey it has been!

And in many ways, I feel like it has led me to where I am today – venturing into somewhat new territory as I give thought to doing more workshops in my studio, Joyful Pause. I don’t know how it will all unfold, but trusting that if it is meant to be, I will continue to be guided.

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Guest Post with Author Erica Tucci: Spirit Animal Messages

standing up for yourself
First book in Sarah’s Gift series

Today I’m taking part in a blog tour for author Erica Tucci who has written many books. Her most recent venture has been the Sarah’s Gift series, chapter books for 7-12 year olds – about a young girl with psychic abilities, which speak to the children with special gifts, helping them deal with different life situations.

What especially piqued my interest is that her books each have an animal friend that helps guide Sarah through challenges and accepting her gift. You can read my review of her first book, pictured above, on Amazon.

saras gift
Second book in Sarah’s Gift series

Spirit Animal Messages by Erica Tucci

ericaSince I was invited by Barbara to write a guest post for her wonderful blog Joyful Paws, I found it very appropriate to talk about the inspiration behind my children’s book series Sarah’s GIft, which is about a young girl with psychic abilities and how she uses them harmlessly to deal with different life situations. My inspiration was Dr. Steven Farmer’s Children’s Spirit Animal Cards, which is a set of 24 oracle cards, each one of an animal and its special message for children.

In each of my books in the series, a spirit animal comes to Sarah as a guide to help her with whatever predicament she is in. For example, my second book that was just released July 18th is Believing In the Magic, which is the message that Crow conveys to Sarah when she meets another young girl who has telekinetic powers. Crow teaches the girls that their thoughts are powerful and that they should believe in the magic of their thoughts.

In the back of each book, I include activities to reinforce the story and its associated messages. One of the activities is a full description of the spirit animal messages in the story. I am also developing a guide/journal for each book that takes the spirit animal messages and fleshes them out to provide further guidance on how a child might use them in his/her life in appropriate ways.

Animals are a part of nature, and their symbolism and messages can have a very profound effect on our lives. They can bring meaning into our lives. A butterfly crossed my path recently, which was a very rare sight where I live. Butterflies to me mean freedom and transformation. I took the presence of the butterfly to indicate that I would be breaking out the chrysalis I have been confined to for a very long time, and spreading my wings. You see, I had a stroke five years ago that changed my life completely, as you might imagine. And in the past few months, the metamorphosis that I have been going through has been propelling me back into the world at a very fast pace. I have made some major breakthroughs, just like breaking through the chrysalis and becoming a butterfly.

It’s important to connect with animals in some way and pay attention to the messages they may be giving you. If an animal appears to you, either in reality, during meditation, in a dream or a vision, ask yourself what the messages might be that it is trying to give to you. If you aren’t sure, look up the symbolism of the animal for insights. You may be surprised at the synchronicity of its appearance with what may be happening in your life, and how its message may guide you through the circumstance, just as the animals in Sarah’s Gift guide Sarah.

To learn more about Erica and Sarah’s Gift book series:



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The Last Day… On Really Being with a Pet in Transition


Recently, reading a friend’s blog who will likely soon lose her beloved Lab, Fred, and who wrote a beautiful poem about this time of transition, I decided I wanted to write about this topic today.

While it’s hard to say goodbye and lose our pets who are so much a part of our family, I do think if we can find a way to make that last day as special as possible, in the long run, I believe it can help in our own healing.

At least this has been the case for me. So I wanted to share some insight as to how I did this in hopes it will help others. I also realize some are not able to do this as death can be sudden and there wasn’t time.

I’ve written about my last day with Frankie in my bookThrough Frankie’s Eyes and my experience with saying goodbye to her— the dog who changed me in a profound way.

When I think back on that day verses the day I said goodbye to my chocolate Lab, Cassie Jo, seven years before, I’m so glad I took the approach I did this time around.

That last day with Frankie, while difficult to not get lost in the impending physical loss from my life, as I did with Cassie Jo, I chose to honor the time I had left with her.

I didn’t do this with Cassie Jo, but instead was swallowed up by how devastated I felt that she was leaving soon. All I could do was cry and before I knew it, she was gone. I was left with regret and wishing I had took the time to really be with her on that last day.

While yes, grief is normal and we all have to grieve in our own way, from my experience, I am left feeling better about having really made a conscious choice to be in the present moment with Frankie as she got ready to transition. There was such a huge gift in that for me personally.

Here is what I did–

So much of our time together was spent out in my writing cottage so that is where I chose to be with her.

I played soothing music.

I lit candles.

I sat with her, holding her in my arms.

I inhaled into my consciousness the smell of her.

I told her how much I loved her.

I took photos of her with John. He took photos of me with Frankie.

I thanked her for helping me become a better human being.

I thanked her for all the lives she touched.

I thanked her for choosing me to be her partner in helping spread a positive message about pets diagnosed with disc disease and dogs in wheelchairs.

I sat in silence with her.

I arranged for my vet to come to my home, so she would be in the place she loved best, and in the arms of the one she felt most secure.

I trusted in what I believe – that animals aren’t afraid to die.

I trusted in what I believe and that  I will see her again someday.

I trusted that her spirit would find its way.

I trusted I did all I could for her.

I trusted that her work was done and that I would be okay without her.

I held her in my arms as she was eased from her pain.

I kissed her soft snout one last time and gave thanks for her beautiful life.

There are many ways in which you can be in the moment that last day depending on the health of your pet. Perhaps a walk on their favorite path or playing in a favorite place. Perhaps giving them their favorite treat. Maybe reading them a favorite poem.

For me, it came down to making every effort to be conscious of every single moment left. And to do it in a way that honored all that Frankie was to me. When I think back on it today, I smile, and find peace in it, not sadness. But a gratefulness she was a part of my life.

When I had to say goodbye to Joie it was more sudden as she was in a great deal of pain. But recalling how I had handled things with Frankie, I was able to approach Joie’s end of life in much the same way, just in a shorter amount of time.

As I reflect on this, it is again for me, the conscious choice of being in those present moments, no matter how short or long, that have made a difference as I moved on without them.

I also believe their spirits live on and for that I find a great deal of comfort too. So for me, they are never really gone – just transformed to another realm of where I trust and believe they are well and happy. And that in turn makes me happy and grateful.

For those that the death of a pet is sudden, I believe you can still do something as a way to honor your pet.

-You can create an altar.

-Play soothing music.

-Create a special album of photos.

-Light candles.

-Talk out loud or in your mind thanking your pet, telling them how much they meant to you.

-Sit in silence and meditate.

-Recall fun and happy memories.

-Give thanks for how much they had a positive affect on your life.

-Journal your feelings or write a poem about what they meant to you.

-Talk with an animal communicator (I did this before Frankie passed and since I didn’t have much time with Joie, I did this after Joie passed away. Both times provided helpful insight).

Everyone will be different, but I think finding a way  that feels right to you as you go through this transition is what matters and can help the healing process in the long run.

A book I often recommend to others is by Jon Katz, Going Home, Finding Peace When Pets Die.


From Jon’s book and what our dogs might leave with us as a final thought (just a portion of what he wrote):

By for now, you must know that there is always a goodbye hovering in the shadow of a dog. We are never here for long, or for long enough. We were never meant to share all of your life, only to mark its passages. We come and we go. We come when we are needed. We leave when it is time. Death is necessary. It defines life…

Thank you. It was nothing but a gift. 

And finally I ask these things of you:

Remember me.

Celebrate me.

Grieve for me.

And then, when you can, let me go, freely and in peace.

When you are ready, do me the great honor of bringing another dog into your life, so you can give and receive this gift again.

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