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Archive for the ‘cats’ Category

When Cats Rule the Roost

The Cats’ View From My Office

There’s a murder of crows/ravens doing their own unique dance on my front lawn. They land in a cluster on the ground, pecking at the dirt since what little grass there is has been burnt to a crisp by days of heat and no rain. Without warning, they swoop back into the air, dividing their time between my yard and the two across the street. Doves perch on the power lines at a safe distance from their oversized brethren, preferring a lazy glide to the frantic dance.

It makes for a special edition of what I like to call “Cat TV”. I have a large tree in my front yard which conveniently shades my office and the guest room, but also serves as a jungle gym for the birds and squirrels, and as a result, constant entertainment for my house cats. With tails twitching, they chitter and chirp as if they’d catch one of the massive creatures should I risk their delicate constitutions out in the hard, cold (OK, maybe not so cold right now) world outside my window.

Strangely enough, my outside cats show no interest in the aerial show, preferring to find a shady spot to lounge. They do most of their hunting at night, and bring me gifts of creatures who also choose to eschew the sun’s unforgiving rays. Under cover of darkness, or at most, a full moon, rats, mice, and gophers roam the neighborhood hoping to avoid the claws and jaws of hunters like my garage kitties. There seems to be little competition between the owls and other night hunters, and the local cats as there’s an abundance of prey. Though my house and yard are no longer a hospitable environment for four-footed pests, the hunting grounds within a house or two still seem to be abundant.

Sometimes I Have to Mourn

My best hunter, Hailey disappeared a month ago, and I’ve seen or heard no trace of her, though I’ve searched the neighborhood near my house. I didn’t wander far, as I know she stuck to a 4 or 5 house radius. While it’s possible someone or something carried her off, nothing but the odd behavior of the other two a few days after she disappeared gives me reason to believe I’ll find any evidence of foul play (or, perhaps, fowl play). Since she left, I’ve had no presents. Max seems to have put a moratorium on his own hunting. Maybe it’s his way of mourning his hunting buddy and friend.

Sadly, I never took any pictures of Hailey, even after she went from semi-feral to her more recent demanding self who liked meowing at the door late at night to get her share of pets. Oddly, I don’t feel like she’s dead. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, or maybe it’s accurate. I have no real way of knowing unless she reappears. Max and Cinders, the other two garage cats did stick closer to home for the first week or two after Hailey failed to show up. I wish I could understand them so I’d know for sure. But animal communication isn’t my strong suit despite the many years I’ve shared my home with cats.

Communication is Mostly a One-Way Street

My cats understand me a whole lot better than I do them. They know when I’m feeling sad or ill. A couple of them even know exactly where I’m aching, and will lay across the offending spot, purring to ease they pain. Still, they follow the age-old feline custom of hiding their own discomfort from me, often until it’s too far along to fix. I promise myself I’ll be more observant, and sometimes I even succeed. Unfortunately for the cats I’ve lost both recently and further in the past, I’m less observant than I’d like to believe; or wish I could be.

Sometimes I get lucky. A few months ago, Dylan was quite overt about showing me something wasn’t right. He threw up sometimes multiple times a day, and almost always on my comforter. After 2 days of washing as many as 6 loads of bedding a day, I knew he needed help. Though it’s meant a daily regimen of steroids and a mild antibiotic combined with daily fish oil and l-lysine vitamins, we seem to be controlling the issue, if not curing it (I’m told it isn’t really something they can cure).

We’ve had a bit of trial and error trying to cut back on the meds, but managed to find a combination that works without having to resort to anything stronger, or with a higher risk of side-effects. He’s put back the weight he lost and then some (not uncommon with steroids), and is keeping his food down quite nicely. He isn’t fond of the daily pills, but stopped running away from me. He knows they make him feel better, and that missing a dose or two has unpleasant consequences. Again, I think he’s smarter than me more often than not.

Loosening My Heartstrings Before I’m Ready

Though many cats have come and gone from my household over the years, there are always those who grab hold of my heart tighter than others. Dylan has, without a doubt, grabbed on tighter than anyone, but only a little bit tighter than Toby who I lost in 2017 at the tender age of 11. Even Munchkin who left me in December of 2018, and who was one of the few I got as a kitten wrenched my heart for a little while when I had to make the decision to let her rest easily. But she wasn’t as hard to get over as Toby, and neither will compare to the enormous hole Dylan will leave when his time comes (hopefully later rather than sooner).

I was a complete mess when he got sick the last time, and though he’s doing well now, I can tell he’s slowing down. 14 is old for a cat, though many do live longer. He is one of the longer-lived cats I’ve had the honor of sharing my own home with. Patches and Missy both lived past their 17th birthday.

Cherishing Them for the Short Time We’re Given

Lately, for reasons that could be explained by food, environment, or simply bad luck, many haven’t seen their 12th birthday. It tears me up to lose them that young but at the same time, I’m grateful for the years of unconditional love they give me, and the trust they put in me to do right by them.

I tease them when they act sad about me leaving the house, even for a couple of hours. Yet I understand. Their lifetimes are at best 1/4 of mine, so hours to me seems like forever to them. When I’m gone for days, it’s easy for them to feel like I’ve abandoned them, despite the fact I return each and every time. They have no way of knowing where or why I went, much less if and when I’ll return to them.

I love working from home where my office is often their hangout. Some will sleep on the desk or behind the computer monitors while others sit on the bookshelf under the window watching the world go by, and the birds and squirrels playing. Having me home so much in the last few years definitely suits them fine. Like me, they can’t regain the 8-10 hours a day they used to lose me but we’re making the most of whatever time we have left. Isn’t that really the best we can ask for whether it’s with our pets, our friends, or our family?

Grateful for Every Moment

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’ve been able to work from home and spend more time with my shorter-lived friends.
  2. I’m grateful for a home that’s filled with love any time of the day or night, even when there’s no other human in sight.
  3. I’m grateful for a community which understands the bonds we have with our pets, and supports each other through the difficult times.
  4. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to share my life and home with some amazing animals, and look forward to sharing it with them for as long as I’m alive. They make my life worth living, even during the toughest of times.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, companionship, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, laughter and tears, inspiration, motivation, health, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Cats Perspective of the Perfect Life

Cats Do Not Believe in Waiting

I start each morning the same way. I get out of bed and head to my desk to write 3 pages longhand aka “Morning Pages”. It wasn’t always this way. Though I’ve been writing every morning for over 2 years, it wasn’t until recently it took first place in my morning routine. Before that, feeding the cats was my first priority.

Though they’ve had to adjust to a 30-minute delay between rising and feeding, some are quite happy with the new arrangement. Dylan usually beats me to my office, settling himself comfortably on the corner of the desk to purr and await skritches when I pause to gather my thoughts. Though he has no trouble telling me if those pauses are less frequent than he’d like.

Recognizing Who’s the King in My Household

Sometimes, it’s a casual flick of his fluffy tail across the page. Others, he’ll walk across it forcing me to stop until he moves, willingly or not. But there are times when he feels particularly neglected. He’ll stand on top of my spiral notebook, shove my pen aside, and head bonk my glasses right off my face. You can be sure he always gets what he wants; skritches and maybe a head bonk in return.

When I stop and glance his way, he’ll roll over, giving me easy access to his fluffy white belly. I start giving him the belly rubs he loves and he grabs my hand between his paws, applying gentle pressure with his claws so I can’t pull away. It’s his way of saying hang for awhile. Give me some love and I’ll give you some back. At which point he begins licking my hand.

Time is Relative to a Cat

Being with my cats is one of my favorite de-stressers. Their soft purrs, their snuffly snores, even the weird chittering sound they make when birds or squirrels land in the tree outside my office window. All are comfort food for my soul. But more, they’re reminders to stop and be for even just a moment. We humans forget to do that more often than not.

To a cat, there’s a time to nap, a time to eat, a time to bathe—you get the picture. They know how to break their day down into pockets of time where everything has its place. Humans lose sight of this. All too often, we’re “go, go, go” and we forget to stop and catch our breath. There’s always too much to do and too little time. Or is there?

Trading in the Rat Race for the Cat Nap

Part of this mentality is due to the 9 to 5 (or in reality 8 to whenever) lifestyle of employees with jobs.https://www.flickr.com/photos/158790927@N08/25811269728/in/photolist-FjRveS-9bdN4K-dKT3m8-anLPS8-G2jGGP-666Dfo-9m3HTB-2ybGf6-9iiWLY-25XfULY-7a6uQa-U9eETw-7DiPVT-p9S65F-e2GNW6-vQhq-4X1zBQ-21j28Rw-aThcrK-RtCD8e-JQymgD-4tNbf5-pHEbRM-6Spn3F-q6BKxR-dFUcvG-pRv5H1-a83xB-3BDEC4-51zVdg-qDXFZQ-ZxzHMW-5QUcWa-sRkDaA-nwfiJe-D2A2dy-6mzNAb-51EaCE-dH2iC3-51zW7R-qy8Bsg-2fiQNc-4rnFvK-cGPQZG-jKU2zx-rpgXY4-oUjEqW-6AiPdn-8GTCLG-9VrnVK You’re expected to be in a certain place at a certain time, and stay there for a requisite number of hours in order to collect a paycheck which may or may not go up every year or so. That doesn’t even consider the bigger and bigger chunk the government feels justified to take out before you get the rest.

One of the best things I ever did was get away from living by someone else’s schedule. It was never natural nor comfortable for me, and often the worst part was being forced to interact with people every day. Though I’m still playing with my own schedule and routine, it will always be a much looser structure than any employer could offer.

Living a Healthier Lifestyle

My schedule these days allows for regular trips to the gym without having to join the masses either before or after regular work hours when I’d have to fight for time in the various stations. I can workout for 30 minutes or 90, or whatever feels comfortable to me.

It allows for a day mid-week to run errands, and opportunities to go to the movies with friends when it’s not only cheaper, but less crowded. Best of all, it allows me to work during the hours I’m most productive, and that depends a lot on what I’m doing. I’ve learned through experience, trial, and error that my optimum times for writing are far different than those for doing accounting or other analytical work, at least most of the time. I typically work at least a few hours on the weekend, but as it’s all my time, it doesn’t really feel like work.

What the Body Dictates

Watching my cats, I learn to follow my natural rhythm. I eat when I’m hungry, sleep when I’m tired (often only about 5 hours at night), meditate when I’m ready to stop and go within for an hour, and do chores in the midst of it all. Keeping up with laundry is easy when you can throw a load in, then go into your office and get some work done.

Even better, and more cat-like is the ability to work shoe-less and in comfortable clothes. I don’t need makeup. My hair is usually in a messy bun on top of my head. I wear a bra in the house only if I had to put one on to leave it. Even then, it’s usually off within an hour after I get home.

Sure, there are days when I get almost nothing done, but there are others where I’ll work 12-14 hours and never feel like I’ve worked at all. Still, the old adage applies: “if you want something done, ask a busy person” and the busier my schedule gets, the more efficiently I use my time. Words flow easier, topics fall into my lap, offers of further work come from unexpected but greatly appreciated sources. I rise earlier in the morning (the one thing the cats don’t appreciate) and stay up later.

Making Time to Be

Yet throughout the day, my cats remind me to stop, take a moment to give and receive love. They remind me life isn’t a long, continuous stream of doing. Sometimes you have to stop doing and listen, or feel, or breathe. Those reminders, those little breaks in my day make all the difference in the world. If something I’m doing isn’t flowing as easily as it should, the example I’m set let’s me know it’s OK to stop and walk away for a little while. The task will be there when I get back, and I’m not on a set schedule which says I have to be finished by 5.

As the days grow shorter, I find, more and more that I’ll be working away in my office and look up to find it’s grown dark while I’ve been immersed in my writing, editing, or accounting, and I need to go turn on some lights so I can navigate the hallway without tripping over someone. Though it surprises me to see it happening more and more lately, it’s also gratifying to be able to settle into that flow effortlessly and without fear of interruption or disruption.

Living and Loving the Non-Office

Life and work on a cat’s schedule may not be practical for many, but for some of us, it’s the only way we can do our job to the very best of our capabilities, and remain sane and grounded at the same time. Unlike some, I don’t function well on a strict schedule. I need the flexibility to stand up and stretch, meditate, get out of the “office” for a walk, or simply do a long, slow stretch inspired by my cats.

What’s your best work environment? How do you accomplish the most and feel like your most productive, least stressed self? Share in the comments. You never know who might gain something from your experiences.

Grateful for My Near-Perfect Life

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the slower, more natural pace my life takes these days.
  2. I’m grateful for unexpected projects.
  3. I’m grateful for setting my own deadlines and honoring them.
  4. I’m grateful for my cats from whom I learn so much.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance: love, joy, friendship, companionship, unconditional feline love, morning pages, lessons, new information, change, progress, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.

Things Our Pets Tell Us

The Pet Emergency Warning System

Animals can be great predictors, but too often, we fail to understand what they’re trying to tell us. Many times I’ve wished I could understand my pets more clearly. I might realize they’re warning me of something, but have no clue what it might be. The only exception was during the aftershock period following the Northridge Earthquake.

The Lynx Point Siamese cat I had at the time would start freaking out a good 2 to 4 hours before one of the larger aftershocks. But since my daughter and I would get queasy about the same time, it was easy to read what Missy was trying to tell us.

Behavior Changes Mean Something

Lately, my clowder have eschewed their usual practice of napping on beds or couches between mid-morning and late afternoon before looking for attention. Instead, Dylan and at least one of the other boys are on my desk the entire day, leaving only when I move to another room, and then, only to follow me. Even my former foster, Tiana who won’t even let me pet her yet is following me, but keeping a safe distance.

I could attribute their behavior to changes in my schedule which put my out of the house more often, but I like to think I’m pretty good at recognizing changes in cat behavior for what it is. I don’t think I’d be as curious if it was only Dylan, and maybe Munchkin who felt the need to keep me in sight whenever I’m home, but it’s pretty much everyone.

You may have noticed Scrappy Doo on the end of my desk for at least part of every Facebook Live (once, he fell off the desk in the middle and was quickly replaced by Dylan). He never used to care, and only came around when he wanted to sit in my lap while I played a game which didn’t require the keyboard. I’ve woken the last few mornings with him right beside me too. He typically prefers the foot of the bed.

If It Was Only Mine, I’d Believe They Miss Me

I asked my daughter if her dog and cats were being especially clingy, and it turns out, hers are behaving similarly to mine. Yes, she is gone a lot these days with all her activities, but even her two skittish ones like to be in the same room with her more than before.

Cats have been used to predict earthquakes for a number of years now, and quite successfully. Heaven knows we’re overdue for another big shaker somewhere in California, though frankly, it could be anywhere. And it’s possible some of the monsoon weather they get in Arizona this time of year could be starting to charge our own air. Cats definitely react to an increased ozone level if only because they can smell it (I’ll smell it myself, though not as early as they do, for obvious reasons. Yet, I’ve gotten a weird look or two when I’ve announced an impending storm on a day when the skies are a clear, cloudless blue).

Elemental Awareness in Animals

Everyone has an affinity for at least one element, whether they realize it or not. My daughter is very connected to Earth, but has more than a little Fire in her as well. I tend to connect to Fire and Water, though I’ve been known to key into Earth changes too. I believe the same is true of animals, though most, if not all are sensitive to Earth.

Which brings up another question: if we’re sensitive to Earth, does that mean only our planet, or can we, if the change is powerful enough to cross the miles, pick up changes on other planets as well? And if we’re able to, can animals with their more sensitive natures be picking up signals from Mars or Jupiter, maybe even Pluto?

Of course, by the time this post publishes, since I’m writing and scheduling things ahead of time these days, I may have had to revise it to encompass whatever change the cats and other animals have been trying to tell us was coming. Now more than ever, I wish I was an animal communicator and could understand what my cats are trying so hard to tell me with body language, unusual meows, and their insistence on being close to me at all times.

Blind to the Obvious Signs

I feel like, without the ability to understand more than my animals’ basic needs, I’m stumbling around half blind. It’s like looking at a picture in which all the details are blurred.

Even the little things are starting to make me ask questions. Dylan typically sits on the end of my desk while I write my morning pages, purring or snoring softly, but letting me have the 30 minutes or so it takes to write my 3 pages undisturbed. Lately, he’ll do things like walk across the page, or rub his cheek on my pen, or waft his tail across the page so I can’t write. He’s also pushed my mouse off the desk repeatedly, when ordinarily it’s an infrequent pastime. His bids for attention these days are as far from subtle as they can be.

When a child demands our attention more frequently than normal, we start asking questions, feeling their forehead, or otherwise trying to figure out why they’re suddenly so needy. I think we need to give the same attention to our fur children when they make it clear they want more of our attention, but especially when it isn’t just one, but all of them.

Whether it’s About the Weather

Thunderstorms, earthquakes, fires, floods: animals know. I’m convinced it’s true, but there are only a few areas where there’s definitive proof. Yet when there’s a forest fire, animals panic. They may run into it, but their goal is to get away. The smell of burning wood is not normal in their world so they react. The same with thunderstorms. The scent in the air is something they’ve learned either through their own experience or from their parents means they could be in danger. Their natural instincts and the lessons they’ve learned lead them to seek shelter.

In the case of house pets, shelter or escape means seeking out their caregivers as we are the ones who are charged with keeping them safe, warm, and dry. When my own start seeking me out more frequently, I have to believe it’s because they know something is coming from which they’ll need protection, comfort, or shelter, or perhaps all of the above. In such cases, I may not understand what they’re trying to tell me, but my spidey senses go on high alert until the danger arrives or the animals return to normal. How about you?

Grateful For All My Little Blessings

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the animals who have come into my care. The care and protection I give them is returned a thousand-fold in the love, affection, and de-stressing they give me.
  2. I am grateful for the little bit I’ve learned about animal behavior. I may not understand the words, but the melody is clear.
  3. I am grateful for friendships with animal people who don’t think I’m a complete nut case for looking for patterns in our animals’ behavior.
  4. I am grateful for waking up in the morning to purrs and cuddles after falling asleep to them too. My cats end up in my dreams a lot because there are always at least a couple of them by my side. (another perk of working from home)
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, trust, hope, kitty love, inspiration, motivation, writing, sharing, support, encouragement, joy, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Everything I Know About People I Learned From My Cats

Warm and Cozy With My Cats

It’s a wet, rainy night but all the kitties are snug and warm inside, whether that happens to be the house or the garage. Flynn is gone, but other than not needing to do a load of laundry every day, nothing has really changed. Flynn’s sister Tiana is a bit less skittish, though a long way from accepting attention. I talk to her every day, and hold out my hand so she can sniff it and decide whether to run and hide or stay where she is. Each day, she runs away less. A far cry from their other sister, Mulan who is as spoiled a Siamese as ever walked, or perhaps I should say, pranced the earth.

Like Toby before her, she’ll often meow loudly from the other end of the house until I stop what I’m doing to see what she wants. (and yes, I have been known to yell out “what do you want, Mulan?” on more than one occasion). Once she has my attention, she milks it, flinging all 9 pounds of herself against me in her not-so-subtle way of informing me it’s time to drop whatever I’m doing and pay homage to her royal self.

Giving Myself a Day to Disconnect so I Could Reconnect

I had a lovely day at the beach on Monday, sitting in my beach chair with the crashing of waves my only music. Teenagers were playing nearby, but their antics amused me rather than annoying me if for no other reason than they might be invading my bubble of calm. I managed to complete two writing prompts from A Writer’s Book of Days with a nice, long walk in between. The weather was especially nice, and one of the local whales came by to frolic in the waves or perhaps scrape the barnacles off her belly in the shallower water.

Being at the beach left me suddenly calmer, more accepting, and less judgemental. Between the two writing prompts and an hour-long walk, I didn’t leave until 5. Rather than getting stuck in rush hour traffic, I decided to try out a restaurant a friend had recommended. Even though it’s only a few miles, I’ve gotten quite spoiled. I no longer have to make the morning commute or be in someone else’s office during certain hours. I choose which people I’m around, and rarely have to be around anyone whose energy doesn’t mesh with mine.

Working From Home Allows Me Plenty of Cat Breaks

I work or perform my daily tasks with a cat or two on the desk, getting up every so often just to walk around the bed and give everyone a little attention. (anyone who is owned by a cat or three knows their bed is the preferred napping spot those 20 out of 24 hours of the day the little furballs aren’t eating, using the sandbox, or demanding attention.

Perhaps it’s our scent lingering on the linens, or maybe it’s just a warm, soft spot to rest their weary bones. Even with a bed in my guest room, I’m still most likely to find my crew on the one in my room, which leads me to believe scent is a large part of their choice. Even Tiana, the shy former foster chooses to sleep on my bed most of the day, even when I happen to be in it!

I Failed Spectacularly as a Foster Mom

I guess I should explain why Tiana is now a former foster, whereas I’ve been calling Mulan my foster fail for a while now. What I thought was a urinary tract infection turned out to be a serious blockage, and by the time I took Flynn to the vet, it was too late to save him. It hurts in a lot of ways as I feel I failed him, but up until the last couple of weeks, I saw real promise towards being able to take him to adoptions soon. I held off as I didn’t want to take him until Tiana was ready as I felt she’d do better if she was adopted with her brother.

As that is no longer an option, I made the decision to keep her here as she’s had enough trauma in her life already. She’s used to me, or at least tolerates me. Her sister is here, and she’s grown pretty attached to the rest of my brood. In time, I know she’ll learn to trust me more and will even ask for attention now and then. I’ve proven it with the two semi-ferals I adopted for rat control.

Once Feral, Now Spoiled Rotten

Hailey and Cinders have lived in my garage with a door out to the yard for 7 years now. It took them about 2 to start getting friendly, and now, they’re downright demanding. Hailey just loves to meow loudly at my front door, especially on nights when the temperature is well below what I consider comfortable. She even follows instructions, but only when it suits her. If I tell her to go into the garage where it’s a bit warmer, I’ll often find her there by the time I go back into the house and out the garage door, waiting impatiently for the promised attention.

Then there’s Mulan who escaped shortly after she, Flynn, and Tiana came to live here. I wasn’t overly worried as she had Cinders and Hailey to look after her, places to sleep in my garage, and a cat door that leads to the back yard. I’d often see her up in the rafters, and would stop to talk to her. That is, until the weather got cold and rainy. Suddenly, she didn’t want to be outside any more, but didn’t trust me enough to just walk in when I opened the door.

We spent about a week playing cat and mouse. I’d leave the living room door open a crack so she could squeeze in if she wanted to, and often did. But I wasn’t able to lure her far enough inside to be able to get up and close the door. Until the night Munchkin squeezed out and I jumped up suddenly to retrieve my little escape artist. It was just the excuse Mulan needed to stay inside forevermore…and become the spoiled little princess she is today. So I have hope Tiana will settle in too. But like many of us, she has trust issues, and needs to work those out for herself.

Seeing the Similarities in Feline and Human Behavior

I actually learn a lot about people by watching cats. Some, like Dylan are friendly and confident. They’ve never met an unfriendly person. He knows he’s the Alpha cat, and though he chews on his brothers and sisters from time to time to reinforce his sovereignty, most of the time, he’s kind, loving and ready to give or receive some grooming or be part of a cat pile on the bed.

Others are like Tiana, shy, timid, and wary of anyone until she’s completely satisfied they mean her no harm. She follows the premise, guilty until proven innocent, and it takes a lot to convince her of anyone’s innocence.

Most are somewhere in between; selectively trusting, open and friendly in some situations, withdrawn and shy in others. With these, it’s best to be friendly but non-threatening; respect their personal space and make no sudden movements. Let them approach when they feel comfortable doing so, then make them feel welcome.

For Every Rule There’s an Exception

There are always a few contradictions too. They seem aggressive and self-contained but they’re really hiding a shy, easily damaged psyche so they go on the offensive in order to establish their boundaries from the very start. In some ways, I think that’s me, though I like to believe I’ve mellowed over the years. I’ve also learned to pay attention to my instincts when it comes to opening up to people. Most of the time, in true feline fashion, those instincts are spot on and save me a lot of trouble in the long-run.

Whatever you’re nature, I’ve learned the best thing you can do is accept it and listen to those instincts. When we fail to listen, one setback can send us back into our hermit hole where we miss out on a whole lot of life’s wonderful times because we’re too busy trying to protect ourselves from the might-have-beens.

I’ve taken that route enough times to have finally learned it makes more sense to simply listen to your gut when it tells you the person in front of you won’t be considerate with your softer side, so it’s best to limit what you share. There are plenty of others who will treat whatever you share with the gentleness they’d show a newborn kitten. Finding those people is truly worth the stumbles and setbacks it takes to learn to recognize them and allow them to find you.

Starting and Ending My Day With Gratitude

My life is so filled with blessings, it’s hard to choose which ones to share, but as always, I close with 5 gratitudes:

  1. I am grateful for the opportunity to love the cats who have come into my life as well as those who have left. Each comes with a lesson, and leaves with a piece of my heart.
  2. I am grateful for friends who trust me enough to share the most delicate parts of themselves.
  3. I am grateful for rainy nights in my warm, cozy house surrounded by my cats.
  4. I am grateful for opportunities to learn new things. It keeps my mind sharp and my body young.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, sharing, compassion, beach days, sunshine and rain, the ability to unfollow without unfriending, peace, harmony, prosperity, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

For Pet’s Sake: Making Choices on Their Behalf

Being Our Very Best Selves for Our Pet’s Sake

I’ve had a lot of time to think this week. I’ve spent several hours at the vet. I’ve waited a few days for lab results. I’ve wallowed in self-pity over possibly losing another cat way too young.

When all is said and done, things don’t look as bleak as they could, but then, the results are also inconclusive. The worst didn’t show up, but the vet tells me that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Meanwhile, as I wallowed and cried and moaned, Toby got sadder and lost his will to purr. Only when I kicked myself in the butt and ordered an end to the wallowing did he come out of the closet, climb into my lap and share that purr I’d thought I’d lost for good for nearly an hour. He’s back to climbing on me when I go to bed, and again when I wake in the middle of the night. He no longer feels the need to spend the entire day hiding in the closet, and is instead, hanging out in whichever room I’m in. He’s letting me know when he’s hungry, and consuming 2-3 jars of baby food a day.

I learned some really important lessons over the last week.

Our Mood Affects Theirs

I learned that no matter how lousy our pets might feel, they make our mood a priority. It’s all well and fine to tell ourselves to think about a positive outcome, but unless we actually act like we believe it, our pet will suffer with us. Since we want them to keep their strength up to fight off whatever ails them, we’re not doing them any favors.

Put Their Needs First

The idea of losing a cherished pet is devastating. But going to extremes to keep them alive a little longer has to be done for the right reasons. Our unhappiness is not the right reason. If those extremes can save both their life and their quality of life, it’s worth considering. If they’ll only result in a few more months or even years of pain and discomfort, think really hard. Would you want someone to put you through a long run of pain and life as an invalid simply because they couldn’t handle losing you? Probably not.

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Express Your Love

Pet's SakeDo you give your pet attention every day? Do you remind them by word and deed how important they are to you? This might be as simple as cuddles in the morning and before bed, a clean litter box, fresh water and treats now and then. When they give you that look of love and trust, do you acknowledge it? Do you show them your gratitude? Do they know you love them just as wholeheartedly? In my house, we have a regular bed time ritual. Each cat has their own special part in this ritual (although Mulan, the Siamese thinks she has to be part of everyone’s ritual. Such is the belief of the born Princess). Toby’s part has always been to climb on top of me and purr for a few minutes after the girls have had their pets. Other members of the pack take turns guarding my head or just curling up in various places on the bed. And I miss each one if for some reason they fail to make their usual appearance.

Be Sensitive to Their Moods

Animals, and especially cats can’t tell you when something hurts or their tummy is upset. Aside from vomiting, they have no way to communicate with us unless we’re one of the fortunate few who can communicate with animals. I have wished I was on many occasions, if only to spare one of my own the pain they couldn’t express. But they do show us in subtle ways; changes in behavior, disinterest in food, lethargy, hiding. If we’re paying attention to them every day, we have a better chance of noticing when they’re a little off.

Know When Letting Go is What’s Best for Them

Giving up on someone we love is never easy. Whether it’s a child who insists on going down their own destructive path, or a pet whose quality of life is gone forever. It’s just not in our nature to give up on them. I’ve been guilty of dragging things on for too long because I didn’t want an animal to have such a short life. But the truth is, if they could have talked, they’d have told me to please let them go and be out of pain. Going to extremes to keep them alive isn’t doing them any favors, nor is it really helping us. It merely prolongs a decision which will eventually have to be made one way or another.

A few years ago, I had a cat named Loki who developed kidney issues at a fairly young age. We almost lost her on more than one occasion because of it. Eventually, we were giving her sub-cutaneous fluids twice a day, and the doctor had just prescribed an injectable medication that cost over $200 for a couple of doses. The last straw was the vet who suggested a kidney transplant which would have cost a “mere” $50,000 and came with no guarantees. Still, I persisted until the day Loki was in really bad shape. I ran her to the vet, still not ready to give up on her. I held her in my arms, crying and trying to make the best decision for her. Suddenly, she began to convulse. That was her way of telling me it was OK to stop trying so hard to keep her alive. She was done and was telling me so in no uncertain terms. I still question whether I did her any favors keeping her going that long. In all honesty, I kept her going more for my own sake than hers, and that’s a pretty lousy reason. She still lives on in my memories, but she is no longer in pain.

What I learned from the experience is that in a lot of cases, especially chronic illness, more is not necessarily better. When the cat is barely eating and is down to skin and bones, it’s time to consider what’s best for them and put our own feelings aside.

Short Lives Filled With Love

Most of our pets have much shorter lifetimes than humans. We have to accept that whenever we adopt. There have been a lot of beloved cats in my life and losing each and every one took a piece of my heart. Most of those cats shared a deep, abiding love with me that’s hard to find in humans. They don’t care what I look like in the morning or if I don’t shower or dress up nice. They simply want my company, some cuddles and pets, regular feedings, clean litterboxes, and fresh water. Their needs and their expectations are simple. What they give back is immeasurable. That kind of unconditional love deserves no less in return. I know I must not only ensure they live with dignity, but die that way as well. It’s the least I can do for their lifetime of devotion.

Gratitude Reminds Us

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the unconditional love of my animals.
  2. I am grateful for continued improvement in Toby’s health, energy, and appetite.
  3. I am grateful for supportive friends who understand the love and devotion I give my animals.
  4. I am grateful for the ability to spend as much time as necessary with a sick pet.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; work, love, inspiration, motivation, health, harmony, peace, friendship, clients, writing, reading, learning, playing, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.

Rainy Day Thoughts

Looking out my window at the rain-drenched street, the late-afternoon sun casts a glow making the neighborhood appear almost magical. Though the drenching we’ve received in the last two days will make but a small dent in our drought-ravaged state, the parched earth, nonetheless, offers it’s own words of gratitude to the dark, looming clouds.

It was easy today to read or study or meditate; a cat or two always nearby. The rain beat a staccato rhythm on my roof, punctuated periodically by thunderclaps, resounding like tympani, emphasizing the downbeat. Yet the almost non-stop downpour elevates my mood. Not because we so desperately need it but because I’ve always found the sound of rain soothing. It’s a sound we humans cannot duplicate via faucet or fountain; its arrhythmic rhythm following its own beat; playing its surreal tune.

Can you hear the music in the raindrops? Can you feel the beat as they bounce off the sidewalk or tap on your window? Do you heed their call when they tap out “Come out and play!”? Or are you more focused on getting the kids to school relatively dry or making what you know will be a challenging commute? Are you too busy, too stressed to stop and just listen to the rhythm of the rain?

One of the many things I gained when I slowed my life down was the luxury of listening to the rain and even heeding its call. Even a downpour while I’m loading groceries into my car just makes me laugh. I turn my face upwards, lapping up a drop or two, then stomp purposefully in the puddles just because I can.

I believe growing old, at least mentally, is a choice. It happens when we choose to let go of our childlike enjoyment of the little things because we feel the need to be responsible. Yet in reality, we can be selectively responsible and still retain that childlike enjoyment.

Maybe that’s why cat and dog videos are so popular these days. You can, for the few moments the video plays, revel in that devil-may-care attitude. But why not take it a step further? Embrace it. Be it. Dance in the rain or sing a happy song. Cut loose and realize what others might think of your behavior is really not your concern. They’re going to react as they do regardless of your behavior. So you might as well make yourself happy, right?

Back when I did have to commute, I taught myself to embrace the delays. They gave me a few more minutes of alone time when I could sip my coffee and smile at my fellow commuters. For those few extra minutes, I was disconnected from phones and computers and people who needed something from me. Those were moments of pure bliss. But those were also days when I worked in a job that was sucking my soul so periods of disconnectedness were golden.

Though I’m rarely stuck in traffic these days, on the rare occasions when I do find myself crawling along the Southern California freeways, I use the time to imagine or create or just sing along with the radio or CD. I’m still learning to release the things I can’t control, but for the most part, traffic jams are no longer a cause for stress. But then again, I can choose to stay home when the roads are a mess.

Someone asked me recently if I could continue to survive financially if it took me a little longer to get a few writing or VA gigs. I was pleasantly surprised to admit that the simplifications I’ve made in my life in the last couple of years along with some fortuitous reductions in outflow mean I’d actually be OK for quite some time.

As I felt some of the pressure flow out of my system, I felt confidence flow in. Thanks to an ever-increasing network of positive, supportive people, I’m gaining much-needed skills for promoting not only the work I’m doing now, but the books I will be publishing over the next couple of years. These things took time to build. Relationships have been a process. This isn’t something I could have accomplished in less time than it’s taken. There’s a lot to be said for being a work in progress.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the people I’ve met, the challenges I’ve taken, and the growth I’ve enjoyed.
2. I am grateful that I’ve simplified and downsized my life. It’s a much better fit now; like a comfy pair of well-washed jeans or loose-fitting sweats.
3. I am grateful for each and every opportunity I’m being given to learn, grow and give back.
4. I am grateful for my own personal forums on which to share my thoughts, lessons and ideas, and for the people who read them and offer feedback.
5. I am grateful for abundance; friends, fellow travelers, lessons, challenges, successes and failures, laughter and tears, dancing, love, joy, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity (and that piece of property overlooking the beach where I’ll live, love, thrive and offer other artists a place to retreat and follow their own passion.)

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

June 7, 2015 Unmitigated Joy

Experiencing Joy for no Particular Reason

The drive to my daughter’s house on Thursday night and the subsequent drive home today shared a single unusual trait. In both cases, I had a feeling of euphoria and happiness for no other reason than just being happy. Today, in particular, I found myself smiling broadly as I drove, admiring the view and accepting delays due to slow traffic without losing my euphoric state (although my bladder would have preferred a little less delay as it was cursing quite colorfully by the time I pulled into my driveway!). Even now, I’m experiencing a lightness which comes into my life infrequently.

For now, I’m going to attribute this blissful state to the epiphany Thursday night. It definitely lightened the weight on my mind and perhaps that was all it took to release a bubble of happiness which the world will be hard-pressed to break. The busy week ahead will leave me little time to attract weighty issues to replace the ones I’ve released, and that is a wonderful thing. Instead, I can focus on actually revising and editing, and I’ve already been rewriting the beginning of Sasha’s Journey in my head. I want to allow it to percolate in my head a bit more and maybe sleep on it tonight before I start getting it down on computer screen, and reading the 7th Harry Potter book for the first time is certainly inspirational.

I’ve been seeing a lot of very positive comments about J.K. Rowling’s writing style, but when I picked up the book last night and began to read in what has become my typical critical fashion, my world literally exploded with wonder. She throws the reader right into the middle of things and keeps the story rolling even when the action, as all action does, winds down for a few beats. That ability to keep the reader on the edge of their seat, turning page after page wanting to know what happens next is exactly what I’m looking for in my own writing (and which I know I lack right now). Over the next few days, my plan is to read and study, then try my hand at achieving the things she has.

Although I’ve barely scratched the surface of Elements of Style, I can see how J.K. Rowling, either consciously or not, removed extraneous words, and how much better the story flows as a result. Which means I will, as is my wont, be reading at least three books at a time this week: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Elements of Style and Stephen King-On Writing. These should make a nice addition to both my writing and continued efforts to complete the Holly Lisle How to Think Sideways course. Good thing I have plenty of coffee and tea in the house, and a fairly full freezer!

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, the Hermit’s Life for Me

I like to say that I live alone and it suits me fine, but that isn’t entirely true. Arriving home after three days at my daughter’s (or a trip of any length, even if it’s only an hour at the gym), I’m greeted by several of my cats before I get more than a couple of feet in the door. They’re favorite times are when I’m sitting on the couch either reading or paying homage to the one-eyed monster, or working at my desk. As soon as I sat at the desk and fired up the computer this afternoon, my two biggest boys, Toby and Dylan, took pride of place on the top of my desk. (thankfully, the computer has a built in desk of its own leaving the oversized brown monstrosity I inherited from my father free for them to spread themselves across. That is not to say that anything I might leave on the desk top won’t eventually end up on the floor when it gets in the way of their sprawls, but I’ve learned to keep that to a minimum most of the time.

Now that I’ve been home for several hours and Toby has received his share of cuddling, he’s left his perch free for Munchkin and Pyewacket to join Dylan in supervising whatever I might be doing. For once, Pyewacket isn’t trying to clear off the cork board on the wall behind the desk, but it’s only a matter of time before I’m rescuing another push pin from his curious jaws. Dylan, on the other hand, never seems to reach the satiation point, attention-wise, and makes this known by laying on top of my mouse with his belly in the air; a not-so-subtle hint that whatever I might be doing is far less important than his daily dose of attention.

Thinking even for a nanosecond that I live alone is a serious misconception. I have to consider the needs of my roommates before my own, no matter what I might be planning. Even the midnight trip to San Diego when my daughter had an emergency appendectomy was undertaken only after I received an affirmative answer to the text I sent my cat sitter. I shudder to imagine the reception I’d get if they were left completely alone over night! It would surely be rather more disturbing than the cat litter I found scattered across the bathroom floor this afternoon.

Even those of us who consider ourselves hermits succumb to loneliness from time to time, but my furry roommates keep that loneliness from ever really gathering steam and turning into depression. Curling up every night with a bed full of warm bodies snuggling and purring is the best anti-depressant I know. So when I come home happy and silly and full of joy, their presence amplifies it to a level which just might overflow and positively charge the Human Energy Field a little. As I think about that, I give it a little boost with some more loving energy. While more and more I hide posts about hate and war and death and abuse, I do so while sending loving energy. Maybe that’s why I’m filling with joy for no apparent reason. The love and light I’m sending to those who seem to need it most is starting to overflow too, and coming back to me so I can overflow and send even more of it out to the Universe in general.

Whether you believe in the process I describe or not, can it really hurt to send those positive thoughts out there as often as possible? The power of prayer or focused meditation or whatever we choose to call it is full of possibilities. If we can use it to help heal a seriously ill friend, imagine what focused effort on the part of many can do for the ills of the world. <ok, stepping off my soapbox now>

Before I go off on another tangent, here are my gratitudes for tonight?
1. I am grateful for joy with no reason.
2. I am grateful for beautiful weekends with my kids.
3. I am grateful for the welcome I receive when I return home, and the love my pets bring into my life.
4. I am grateful for the people who are supporting my writing by reading, commenting or just sending positive thoughts. I hear you, I feel you and I appreciate you. With your help, I will achieve the lofty goals I’ve set.
5. I am grateful for abundance: understanding, love, joy, happiness, compassion, health, harmony, peace, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

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