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. 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:
- I’m grateful for the slower, more natural pace my life takes these days.
- I’m grateful for unexpected projects.
- I’m grateful for setting my own deadlines and honoring them.
- I’m grateful for my cats from whom I learn so much.
- 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.