Rachel Curry

When it is freely given, it is so sweet


Nov 17


We got her from a neighbor who was leaving and couldn’t keep her. She was quiet. She didn’t bite.

Three weeks pass. She settles into our space and our patterns. When we take her out of her cage, she tentatively finds a comfortable spot behind a pillow or under a blanket.

Guinea pig peeking out of a towel

Two months in. She is very vocal about when she wants to eat – which is whenever she hears the fridge open or a bag crinkle! She starts to move around the house we made her, putting it where she wants it. She curiously explores when taken out of her cage. Once in awhile, she even purrs when we pet her.

Three months in. She has a habit of putting her feet on the edge of the cage and singing “feed me!” at 4:30am and again at 6am when we each start our work days. Her preference for baby carrots over regular ones has been made very clear. She has eaten a third of the cardboard house we made her. She purrs more regularly and her teeth chatter less.

As a prey animal, fear seems to drive Penny’s whole existence. It makes sense to always be aware of potential threats. Her jumpiness and wide eyes reminded me that living from fear does not need to be my reality. That instead, I can choose love and trust, that I am safe.


Penny is now in her forever home, with one of our neighbors who loves animals. I imagine that our four months with her was something akin to being a foster home for a child. You don’t know exactly where they come from or what they’ve been through, but you meet them where they are and be consistent in your love and care. This is is without expectation that they will change their behavior. You give love even when they return distrust or distance. You can’t expect them to return love in any specific way. They need the freedom to decide what they want to give. And when it is freely given, it is so sweet.

Thinking about becoming a forever or foster home for a guinea pig?

  1. Spray the wood shavings with water after you first put them in the cage so the dust from the shavings settles and the pig doesn’t inhale it.
  2. Guinea pigs determine their diet from very young. Your pig may already have determined its food preferences before even getting to you!
  3. Give them time to get used to your voice and your routine before trying to hold them.



Live one day when you don’t expect any specific response from the loved ones around you. Be consistent in your love and care, no matter how they show up.

Do you have pets? If so, what do they teach you?

4 Responses to “When it is freely given, it is so sweet”

  1. Abbey Bowman

    I appreciate your ability to find life lessons in daily experiences. Giving LOVE without the expectation to change someone has been an important lesson for me and I feel like I am still learning nuances. I give LOVE readily and found that I often have expectations that go with it. Often put myself in a rescuer role. What I am finding to be most true in this regard is that if we can heal our stuff then we genuinely don’t need to be getting it from the other and we can then LOVE freely. Thank you for the beautiful words Rachel.

    • Rachel

      Abbey! Yes! What kind of relationships could we have in our lives if we could love without expectations? Talk about the possibilities, the expansion, the freedom! You used the word nuance, which I love. This process is nuanced, isn’t it? Unpacking our own stuff takes layers and sometimes it feels too hard, but then I think – what better use of my time than to heal my own heart? Because from this full place, I can give and see and do anything. Thank you so much for sharing your insight and experience. And thank you for reading. 😉

  2. Brynn

    Abbey is so right–when we heal ourselves, we don’t need so much from others, and take care of ourselves instead of putting our baggage on others. I have many thoughts about your beautifully written story on love, but I wanted to leave a comment to say I so enjoyed reading this and gives me a lot to consider in my own life.

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