Tag Archives: Cats

What I’ve Learned From Daddy’s Kitty

The cat on my front porch looks like death. Often, my husband and I stop as we pass to make sure he is still alive. His bobble head sits atop a decaying body. We are certain he has picked our home to die.

A couple weeks ago, my husband stopped a few houses down from ours and pet him for a moment on our evening walk. Since then, the cat has not left our front porch for more than a couple hours, earning the name Daddy’s Kitty.

He stays for the thirty seconds of love he gets a few times a day. We found out an old lady down the street feeds him. However, he hasn’t gone away, day after day, and we have realized maybe he isn’t going to her for food anymore. Now two small plastic dishes sit on our porch, as well as an old dog bed where he keeps watch over our home at night.

We did not want a cat. We have two dogs who bark whenever they realize he is out front. We have a small baby who probably should not be exposed to whatever Daddy’s Kitty carries on his matted fur. At first I was afraid to even touch him. He cannot come inside our house. Still, somehow, he adopted us, not the other way around.

So, each time I step outside, I look death in the face. Daddy’s Kitty is hard to look at without contemplating suffering and mortality. No one seems to want him anymore, yet all he wants is love, his old purr box still sputters to a start at the slightest caress.

Daddy's Kitty

I wish I could get a better picture of him, but he is so desperate for love that he won't hold still long enough to snap one.

I wish I could get a better picture of him, but he is so desperate for love that he won’t hold still.

Daddy’s kitty is old, forgotten, and ugly. Yet he craves love and is not afraid to show it. Last night I lay awake and felt empathy for all the creatures on this planet, human and otherwise, who are like Daddy’s Kitty. Lonely and suffering. The thought was overwhelming.

Some neighbors regard him as a pest or parasite, a metaphor for how many see the dying in our culture. Death is uncomfortable to be around. It is easier to ignore or make it disappear. But Daddy’s Kitty is still here, still living, still wanting to be acknowledged, loved, and kept company.

And, who am I to end his suffering if it is part of his journey, part of the life we all live and the end we will eventually face? I was thinking about how there is suffering in birth yet how hard we fight the suffering that comes with death. I get it, but I also wonder if somehow we are trying to avoid an essential element of existence.

For now, Daddy’s Kitty is still purring and I do not feel it is my job to make him stop. I just wish I could ease his suffering by giving him a bit more love, but my hands are literally full. I am still fantasizing about some sweet old lady who will come and rescue him to a life of air conditioned Fancy Feast.

If nothing else, I am grateful to Daddy’s Kitty. He has reminded me of life’s duality and the importance of finding peace in the uncomfortable. He has shown me that even when we feel like we have nothing else to give, the smallest act of kindness does not go unnoticed. After all, Daddy’s Kitty is still sitting on my front porch because my husband stopped for thirty seconds to acknowledge him.

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The Secret to Forgiveness is Love.

The March Bloggers for Peace challenge is to write about forgiveness. Instead of writing about any one instance of forgiveness, I offer a simple idea. The secret to forgiveness is love, and love is a choice. If you decide to love, then you can also decide to forgive.

The beauty of this secret is that it does not apply to just lovers, or family, or friends. It applies to anyone. Strangers even. Have you ever imagined love for a person who is pissing you off? I swear, it changes the mood. Suddenly you start to see the person a little differently, to imagine what brought him or her to this moment where your paths have crossed so tumultuously. If there is an opportunity to hold a grudge or judge another person, there is also an opportunity to love.

I kid you not. In the most basic expression of this, I forgive my students all the time. In the middle of a really good tantrum, they often say terrible things. I am hated, threatened, you name it. Children or not, it is often tempting to feel angry. When I force myself to focus on my love for them, any inkling of anger is diffused, (in fact, these thoughts usually make me smile, which in turn just confuses the hell out of them and sometimes results in smiles on their faces too). Love conquers all.

Of course, some things in life may feel too terrible to forgive, but I still believe this is a choice. You choose whether to hold on or let go. It’s funny. As I sit here and type now, I realize that the hardest person to forgive very well may be yourself. So, for tonight at least, I’ll forgive myself for my own imperfections. Thanks Bloggers for Peace for helping to spread the love (and forgiveness).

For more great Peace Cats, check out:

And, thanks for sharing your peace cats, Rarasaur! (Check out other hilarious/inspiring/poignant ones here…)

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Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, It’s Back to Work I Go!

I know as a teacher I should be the last person to complain to go back to work. I get breaks and I mostly like my job. Not such a bad life. Still, each time a break comes to a close, I go through a brief funk. It’s hard to let go of the time to write, to do yoga, to sleep, to see friends and family… It requires a shift in my brain to my other self.

Today I went back to work, the kids follow tomorrow. This evening I continued my longest consecutive string of yoga ever. I have been doing yoga everyday for a couple weeks and I am finally beginning to see why instructors encourage this– I feel amazing and am able to do more than I ever have been in the past, (even when I was doing 3-4 days of yoga/week). I share this now in hopes it helps to keep me dedicated. A little reminder to my future self.

I could never bring myself to invest the time or money to go to a yoga studio daily, (especially since most classes are 90 minutes and just getting there/home adds another 30 minutes to my day). However, I recently discovered that watching yoga on Hulu Plus is actually pretty productive, (even if the ads and cheese factor can be annoying). It is the missing piece I needed to break up my studio visits and a nice change of pace from the routines in books.

Coming home to yoga this evening, I realized there really are ways to make life feel more balanced and better after work. Now it’s time for a little tech-free quiet as the last ingredient to my evening… Tomorrow, kiddos, day one of my peace project, and some more yoga!

Student #8 has a happy note waiting on her desk for her day as my secret student.

Student #8 has a happy note waiting on her desk for her day as my secret student.

My room is ready for a new year and 30 happy kiddos.

My room is ready for a new year and 30 energetic kiddos.

And, you get to see my cat play with a toy whale because she's cute...

And, you get to see my cat play with a toy whale because she’s cute and we know she loves yoga too… yes, still.

Happy balanced Monday!

Happy balanced Monday!

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I should be… But I’m not.

I should be working on NaNoWriMo, but instead I’m blogging. I think I might be a blog addict. There is something about the instant gratification of an audience. Plus, blogging allows me to write about the here and now, instead of the somewhere made up in my brain. Not that that place isn’t fun…

At least my students kicked some NaNoWriMo butt this year– read their stories this afternoon, amazing. Many of them wrote thousands of words. Talking dogs, romantic rendezvous, magical kingdoms…

So, here I am, typing away. I have only written half of what I wrote last year for NaNoWriMo. If I spent the time I worked on my blog writing that story, I would probably have at least double the words, if not more. But, it’s hard not to start here when I write each night. It’s like my warm-up space… Except now that I am only giving myself an hour each night to write, I don’t know how I am going to do both. My husband suggested scheduled blog nights, but I’m not sure I work like that. When I want to write, I want to write.

How do you balance your blogging versus other creative work? Do you start here, like I do? Or do you force yourself away?

Look at that, a fifteen minute post. I may actually have time for some other writing yet! Okay, I lied, now that I’ve reread it all and added pictures more like twenty-five minutes… Really leaving this time… I hope…

The upside of less writing time, I stuck to my yoga/spiritual practice goal this evening, (even though it ended up taking me almost two hours). And, here’s some proof yoga cat was not just a one-week aberration. In fact, she’s still in there right now. Didn’t take the hint when I rolled up the mat on top of her…

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Yoga Cat & Other Obstacles

Despite my best intentions, life has felt challenging lately. Even home yoga. I would like to introduce you to yoga cat. She is nothing like yoga dog, who stops by, stretches, wags his tail, and then moves on. Yoga cat likes to be in the way, the entire time. Every day since I decided to take my home yoga practice more seriously, she has been on my mat from start to finish. I have done locust poses at odd angles, tree balanced precariously over an outstretched cat, warrior with my hand a dangling invitation for her to take a good swat, and seated meditation with a purring ball of fur pressed against my legs.

Like many obstacles, she is part joyous distraction, part menace.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why not just move her? But, that’s the thing. First, she’s not an easy creature to move. My husband and I joke that she’s half ferrel. She does what she pleases unless you’re willing to risk an altercation. Second, I have tried to view her as an added challenge to clearing my mind and focusing inward. If I work hard enough, I can tune her out, even if every once in awhile I receive an unexpected slap of her paw or have to move some of my poses to the carpet.

Luna is perfectly in the way.

I actually think yoga cat is a good metaphor for life. Anything worth doing is going to have obstacles. You can either put in the work anyway or switch your attention elsewhere. I am pretty sure if I pulled out a different mat she would just follow me to a new location. I have to remind myself this as I push through obstacles in other parts of my life. Even if I switched directions, there would be something else. Thankfully, meditation, yoga, blogging, reading all help. And, doing yoga over a cat might just be part of the fun.

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Playing Possum

Let me tell you a little story about the wonderful wild kingdom that is my backyard in Sacramento, California.

Last night, we arrived home after dark, my dog Simon shooting straight through the back door to bark at something in the yard. Given the after dark status, we immediately started calling, “Treat, treat,” his usual cue back into the house. No luck.

Oh no, I thought, please, please don’t be another skunk. See, he always comes for a treat, unless there is something better than a treat to chase in the backyard.

Thankfully, my husband was on call to go after him, returning moments later with an unusual claim.

“Luna killed a possum.”

No way, I thought, our cat is not tough enough to kill a possum.

“Okay, better get out that man card and get to work,” I replied. Selective sexism at its best. I refuse to touch dead or half dead animals, much to Alex’s chagrin.

Moments later, Alex returns.

“Hey, umm, have you ever heard of that expression ‘playing possum’?”

“No.”

My husband then explained to me that possums are known for playing dead. Sure, I thought, wishful thinking, you just don’t want to shovel such a big, nasty creature into the trash.

“Give it some time, I guess,” I replied, doubtful.

Now curious, I peered out the back window, flashlight in hand, hopeful not to see some sort of disgusting dead possum or, worse, two creepy little eyes staring back at me. Alex did warn me its eyes were stuck open.

Instead, nothing.

The possum was gone. Apparently, playing possum is a real thing, not just something my husband made up as not to have to dispose of another carcass brought to our doorstep by Luna. Good thing Alex didn’t try to lift the poor creature into the trash. That would have been a very unpleasant surprise…

Moral of the story, if you see a lifeless possum, give it some time. Like at least fifteen to twenty minutes. You may not have to deal with it after all.

Was pretty sure this ferocious beast was not responsible for a possum death…

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The Cat is in The Bag

I have never been a cat person.  In fact, I have a love-hate relationship with my own cat, so much so that I’ve sworn off ever having another as a pet.  She’s bossy.  She tells me when to feed her.  She swipes at me when she’s not happy.  Her favorite spot to sleep is our dining room table.  The list goes on, I will spare you the gory details.

However, in the past couple weeks, we’ve finally started to bond.  It only took three years.  I’ve gone from ambivalent to finding myself happy to see her.  Suddenly, she is everywhere I am, following me around the house.  It scares me that my urge to post these personified pictures is somehow reflective of me becoming a cat person.  I hope not, although I am not sure why.  Many of the “cat people” I know are among my favorites.  Still, I find myself kicking and screaming at the prospect.

“I’m going with you to see Liz, right?”

“I’m not going with you, I hope you die.”

“Okay, whatever, we can still be friends.”

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bird by cat

“I wanted him to have a regular job where he put on a necktie and went off somewhere with the other fathers and sat in a little office and smoked.  But the idea of spending entire days in someone else’s office doing someone else’s work did not suit my father’s soul.  I think it would have killed him… So I grew up around this man who sat in the study all day and wrote books…” – Anne Lamott, bird by bird

Two pages in and Anne Lamott already has me figured out.  I’m adding this book, recommended by two of my lovely novel readers, to my small pile that I’m reading simultaneously, (Snow Child and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking).  I think I must have a very advanced form of ADHD because I find myself alternating between reading multiple books, working on my novel, and blogging all within the same afternoon.  I’m okay with it though.  I like the writing that is coming out of all of this, even if it’s progressing slowly.

Luna is already loving up on bird by bird too…  And, yes, I appreciate the irony of the cat and title.

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