Dear Panda Bear Readers,

At Gabriel’s new school, he has skateboard for P.E. this semester. Surfing and beach days are next semester.

We went to McGill’s Skate Shop to buy a skateboard. I suggested a few but realized he ultimately was making the decision. And he chose a panda bear skateboard. Hmm. I got to thinking of panda bears. And what I discovered was so right on!!!

In Ted Andrews, Animal-Speak Pocket Guide, animals have messages from the divine. Panda bear means sensitivity. Andrews elaborates, “Combines gentleness with strength for success. A quiet unassuming presence brings success. Focus and follow efforts through to completion.”

Wikipedia describes a totem as “a being, object, or symbol representing an animal or plant that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, group, lineage, or tribe, reminding them of their ancestry (or mythic past).”

I learned of the meaning of a panda bear animal spirit in spiritual animal totem. The qualities that resonate are:

A symbol of strength and gentleness. Gabriel is a symbol of strength. He endured 13 major surgeries for removal of Giant Pigmented Nevus starting September 2002 through June 2007. I’ve watched this child endure so much pain and uncomfortableness that I cried every day for those five years. I’ve watched him lose his home and toys during Hurricane Katrina at the age of 3 ½. Never to see his home again. But what he didn’t lose… his strength and gentleness.

As the nurse changed his bloody draining tubes, he squirmed in pain and yelled, “It hurts.” The nurse comforted him. She went to get more morphine. But as she exited the room, Gabriel comforted her. In a quiet, scratchy voice, Gabriel interjected, “Nurse, nurse.” She stopped and looked around as she held the door open. Gabriel encouraged “I just want to thank you. Thank you for changing my draining tubes.” The look on the nurse’s face was pure astonishment. Gentleness, yes gentleness in my son.

And for strength. Gabriel can enter a new group of people and open up conversation. He can hang out with adults since he is such an old soul. This past summer, he wanted to go to away camp again. And indeed he did. But the strength to go. He made new friends. He wears his bathing suit and feels comfortable in his body. The strength to enroll on a Missions Trip to Mexico. The only child by himself. His strength astonishes me.

A symbol of peace. The opposite of peace is conflict. So, I declared my house as a home of peace and love. Pierre and I initiated the boys into that reality. We cracked an egg on their head as they stood in the shower. And I enthusiastically shouted, “A house of peace and love.” Breaking cycles, patterns, beliefs, generational ways. It’s a new way. No longer shouting and yelling to find someone in the home. But actually getting up and walking to the person. Finding their face and talking to them directly. Eyes meet with eyes. Connection is made. Peace, oh my. Peace.

Encompassing spiritual qualities of a heart-centered, nurturing ability. As a child, Gabriel said, “Mom, I can look into someone’s eyes and see their soul. I see the pain on their face.” Gabriel discovered that quality of being heart centered.

Gabriel found a lump in his testicle. He explained it as grain of sand rubbing against him. During the ultrasound exam, he asked the nurse, “If you lose your job tomorrow, do you have a plan?” Amazed, she looked at me with a lump in her throat. She kindly offered, “No one has asked me that before. I guess I would stay home. Watch Oprah. Cook. Play with my grandchildren.” She intently looked at me. She said, “You have a special boy.” Gabriel said, “And if I lose this testicle, it’s okay. I have the other one to get my wife pregnant.”

At the age of five, Gabriel was maturing into this spiritual and nurturing ability. In fact, while Gabriel got dress, the nurse stood outside the door. Ear to door. I opened the door; she fell into the room. She didn’t want to miss a word he said. She wanted to be his presence. She wanted to experience more of a heart centered quality. Don’t we all?

Importance of emotions. Our emotions are our internal navigation system. When we are aligned with source, we feel good. Love, joy, peace enter effortlessly into our experience. When we are not aligned with source, we are off kilter. We feel overwhelm, frustration, doubt, fear, guilt, and more.

Gabriel said, “Mom, I want to make you happy. I’m getting good grades.” I responded, “It’s not about making me happy. It’s about making yourself happy.” His eyes widened by my response. See I don’t want Gabriel to find his worth and value by performance. How he measures up or doesn’t measure up by some arbitrary way. I want him to discover his worth by who he is, not what he does. I want him to check in with his emotions and allow them to guide him through life. I just discovered the difference and found my self-worth. Not based on getting someone’s attention, approval, and affection by what they do but by who they are. This distinction is so freaking powerful that I cry as I type these words. Because to understand that distinction is freedom.

To allow emotions to be his guide will carry him. He said, “Mom, I made a 90 on my social studies test. The grade is equivalent to an exam grade.” I asked. “How do you feel?” He replied, “I feel great. And I don’t have any homework. I can have fun now.” Exactly!!!

Calm determination. We get off balance when we want to do something, and we can’t. Or when we want to rush to something and feel static. We get off balance by other’s reactions and criticism. But when we stay aligned to who we are we discover the calm determination within us. The focus. The energy. The sheer joy.

Gabriel is in 7th grade. This is the first year that we haven’t assisted him with homework or checked on his work. The school encourages a no homework policy! How cool is that? A revolution in schooling! I love it. So, you do your work at school and come home to fun, family, and relaxation. What we need more of! However, if you haven’t completed the homework at school, wrap it up at home. And Gabriel occasionally does it. Typing a paper. But the real freedom is he is doing it. He walks upstairs every day with a clear determination to finish anything due. He sits on the computer and goes for it. I never say a word. It’s all him. He is empowering himself with calm determination. What a gift and skill to learn and apply!

Importance of private space and personal boundaries. Gabriel needs his private time to unwind. He loves to read for hours. He reads Popular Science magazine and the writing of Walter Isaacson on Steve Jobs. He can read a few books a night. Now, he is unwinding with music. He shared, “I’m moving into my teenage years. I’m changing mom.” And so he is. Learning personal boundaries that he wants to be heard. Oh, dear. That sounds so much like me. Knowing when his attitude isn’t in check to go find a place to unwind. We all need private time to read, learn meditate, go for a walk in nature. To recenter. Align with source. Align our nonphysical form into physical form.

The journey of a panda bear. Who would have ever thought? When an animal speaks, divine messages are revealed. Miracles of discovery and exploration are around us on a daily basis. If we would just open our heart, eyes, and ears to discover the adventure and mystery of this magnificent life.

To totems! To animals! To the panda bear!

Discovering More,