How To Stay Healthy During Flu and Cold Season

sneezing cat

With flu season upon us, we’re all looking for ways to stay healthy.  This year, many of us are particularly worried because of the H1N1 swine flu.  It’s hard to know which information is simply media hype, and which information is based on fact and can be trusted.  I offer the following tips to help you navigate the flu season with your health, and your sanity, intact.

Vaccinate or Not?

First of all, don’t panic, no matter what the media tells you.  Humanity has dealt with the flu for thousands of years.  Flu viruses change from season to season, and while a flu vaccine may be necessary and even effective for some people, keep in mind that this season’s flu vaccine is based on last year’s virus and may not offer complete protection.  Additionally, the new H1N1 vaccine was brought to market much faster than vaccines of the past, and there is, as of yet, no information on potential long term side effects.  The decision on whether to get vaccinated should be an individual decision and take your health history as well as your risk of exposure into consideration.  While your physician should always be your ultimate source for health information, keep in mind that not all physicians take a holistic view when it comes to preventive health care.  Do your homework, and get educated.

Common Sense

Common sense precautions against the flu have not changed over the years. Frequent hand washing is still the best precautionary measure against the flu as well as colds.  But don’t waste your money on antimicrobial and antibacterial soaps – they don’t work against viruses and provide no added value over soap and water.  In fact, they may contribute to the spread of resistant bacteria.  Don’t touch your face unless you’ve just washed your hands – that’s a direct route for viruses to get into your respiratory tract.  So far, the common wisdom is that the H1N1 virus is airborne, so listen to what you mother taught you:  cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing, and throw the used tissues away – don’t leave them for someone else to deal with.

Boost your Immune System

  • Take a good multi-vitamin.  Do your research and make sure the brand you take has good bio-availability.  Most grocery store brands do not meet this requirement.
  • Take extra vitamin C.  I regularly take 1000mg a day, and I double or triple this when I’ve been exposed to someone who is sick.
  • Sip warm fluids.  Sipping hot tea can make your mouth unfriendly to microbes and reduces your risk of getting sick even after you’ve been exposed.  Gargling with warm salt water can have the same effect.
    Use a Neti Pot (nasal saline rinse) regularly to flush your sinuses before microbes have a chance to get a hold in your system.
  • Avoid inflammation promoters such as sugar, alcohol and tobacco.
  • Optimize your vitamin D levels.  Generally, the more optimal your vitamin D levels, the less your chances of getting the flu or a cold.  Ideally, you should have your vitamin D levels tested, but if you live in the Northern hemisphere and don’t want to pursue testing, experts feel that it’s safe to take at least 1000-2000 IU’s of vitamin D during the winter months.
  • Support your intestinal flora with probiotics.  It may seem odd that your intestinal tract’s health has anything to do with flu and cold prevention, but most inflammation begins in the gut, which in turn, affects your immune system.
  • Get enough sleep.  This is one of the best ways to keep your immune system rested and healthy.
  • Exercise regularly.  Better yet, exercise outside.  
  • Listen to your body.  We all get early warning signs when we’re about to catch a cold or come down with the flu.  For some, it may be a tickle in the throat, for others, a mild stomach ache, nausea, or simple that “just ain’t right” feeling.  Gargle with warm salt water, use your Neti pot, increase your vitamin C and D supplementation, and get some rest.  Sometimes something as simple as slowing down can boost our immune system enough to ward off a cold or the flu in the early stages.
  • Maintain a positive attitude.  If you constantly worry about getting sick, chances are, you will get sick.  Picture yourself healthy with a strong immune system, and don’t stay glued to the news reports of flu outbreaks and pandemics.

H1N1 and Your Pets

Most pet owners are worried about whether their pets can contract the H1N1 swine flu.  Since this is an evolving story, it’s not possible at this stage to have a yes or no answer to this question.  So far, there have been reports of ferrets and birds as well as several cats who contracted the virus.  It’s important to know that in all the cases of the cats, the virus was transmitted from humans in the households who were sick with the virus to the cats, and not the other way around.  There has been one report of a dog being infected with H1N1 in China.  It appears as though in this case, too, the virus was passed from human to dog and not the other way around. 

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) maintains an information page on their website with the most recent information on H1N1 and how it affects pets.

Until we know more about how H1N1 affects pet, take the same common sense precautions you would with a human family member if you do get sick:  follow proper hygiene and sanitation measures to prevent the spread of the disease.  Try to isolate the sick family member from others as much as possible, wash your hands frequently and wipe down common surfaces with a good cleaner or sanitizer.

I hope these common sense precautions put your mind at ease and help protect you and your family members, both human and furry, from flu and cold viruses.

Holiday Safety Tips for Your Pets

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It’s that time of year again!  As you get ready to celebrate the holidays, keep in mind that some of our most cherished holiday traditions can be hazardous for our pets.  The ASPCA offers the following holiday safety tips:

Try to keep your pet’s eating and exercise habits as close to their normal routine as possible. And be sure to steer them clear of the following unhealthy treats, toxic plants and dangerous decorations:

O Christmas Tree

Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water-which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset-from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe.

Tinsel-less Town

Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching “toy” that’s easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It’s best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.

No Feasting for the Furries

By now you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol, but do you know the lengths to which an enterprising fur kid will go to chomp on something yummy? Make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.

Toy Joy

Looking to stuff your pet’s stockings? Choose gifts that are safe.  Dogs have been known to tear their toys apart and swallowing the pieces, which can then become lodged in the esophagus, stomach or intestines. Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible, Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible. 

Long, stringy things are a feline’s dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that’s too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer-and tons of play sessions together.

Forget the Mistletoe & Holly

Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. And many varieties of lilies, can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.

Leave the LeftoversFatty, spicy and no-no human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends. Pets can join the festivities in other fun ways that won’t lead to costly medical bills. 

That Holiday Glow

Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface. And if you leave the room, put the candle out!

Wired Up

Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws’ reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet’s mouth.

House RulesIf your animal-loving guests would like to give your pets a little extra attention and exercise while you’re busy tending to the party, ask them to feel free to start a nice play or petting session.

 Put the Meds AwayMake sure all of your medications are locked behind secure doors, and be sure to tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too. 

Careful with Cocktails

If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

A Room of Their Own

Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to-complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or in a separate room away from the hubbub.

New Year’s Noise

As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat’s intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears.

The Conscious Cat
wishes you and your furry family members
a  happy and safe holiday season!

Book Review: Cat Tales by Dr. Sharon Eisen and Linda Francese

Cat Tales book

Cat Tales is a heartwarming and inspirational collection of stories about cats that will make you smile, laugh and cry, sometimes all at the same time.  The stories will most certainly bring fond memories of all the cats that have graced your life, and they will make you love and appreciate your current feline companions even more.  These cats that come and go from our lives leave indelible pawprints on our hearts, and the authors have captured many of these special cats in the tales they share in their book.

There’s TiVo, the shy orange cat who tended to avoid human contact, and who broke through an autistic boy’s seemingly impenetrable shell of silence and showed him that it’s not so bad to be a little different, and in the process, taught the boy’s mother to be a little more patient and have a little more faith in the future.  There’s Chloe, the cat who saved her human’s life who was going through cancer treatments.  There’s Bentley, an international winning show cat whose beauty and huge spirit touched everyone he came into contact with and who turned his human from a die-hard dog lover into a cat-loving, cat-fancying addict.  There are many more stories like these, and they all touch the heart.

The book is interspersed with fascinating and entertaining facts about cats, and the photos that accompany each story enhance the tales being told.  Cat Tales celebrates cats in all their wonderful variety and glory, and it illustrates how much these wonderful creatures impact their humans’ lives in often unexpected ways.  A must read and a wonderful gift for any cat lover.

Dr. Sharon Eisen has been a practicing veterinarian since 1984.  In 1991, she realized her dream and opened a feline-only practice in Brookfield, CT.  The Complete Cat Clinic was the very first cat only hospital in the state.  In addition to devoting her career to the care and well-being of cats, Dr. Eisen has an abiding interest in the human-animal connection.  She has conducted programs in elementary schools to teach students about pet care.  She has led pet bereavement groups, and has brought cats and dogs to nursing homes to serve as pet therapists.

Linda Francese is a well-known radio personality for over 20 years, fulfilled a lifelong dream in 2004 and began working with cats as the head technician at the Complete Cat Clinic in Brookfield, CT.  A year later, she joined Dr. Eisen as co-owner of the Plaid Plus Cattery, breeding British Shorthair cats.  Mrs. Francese’s serious interest in the healing powers of the human-animal connection inspired her to co-author this book.

Animals as a Pathway to Source

Amber, contemplating

We all have different ways of connecting with our spiritual core.  For some of us, it may be through structured religious observations, often shared in the community of a church or other spiritual gathering.  For others, this connection may happen during meditation.  Others still may connect with Source in nature.  Watching a beautiful sunset or sunrise, walking in a deep green forest, or hiking in a striking desert landscape – all of these can help open a portal for a connection to Spirit.

What do I mean by connecting with our spiritual core?  I believe that all humans have an innate need to be a part of something greater than ourselves.  Whether we call it God, Source, Spirit, or soul, we all long for that connection.  We know it when we have it.  Sometimes, it may just be for a brief, almost fleeting moment.  Other times, we may be able to bask in it for an extended period of time.  Regardless of how it comes about and how long it lasts, the feeling that comes with it is one of utter peace, joy, and love.  It’s that feeling we get when we’re completely absorbed in doing something we love.  We loose track of all sense of time.  We are living in this present moment, to the exclusion of everything else.  Anything is possible, and magic can and will happen.

For me, animals have always been an easy way to help me connect with Source.  Animals are so much closer to nature then we are, and as such, are much more closely connected with Spirit than most humans.  Simply observing an animal can instantly transport me into a state of alignment.  Is there anything more peaceful than a sleeping cat?  More joyful than a dog playing with his toys?  Animals teach us to slow down.  It’s during those quiet times when it’s usually easier to connect with our spiritual core.  Animals facilitate finding those times for us.  They force us to take a break from our busy schedules.  Taking a dog for a walk, playing with a cat, these are times when we are forced to step back from our endless to do lists and for a little while, we can allow ourselves to just enjoy the moment.  And it’s during those moments that we are reminded of who we really are.

Book Review: Dear Sparkle – Advice from One Cat to Another by Sparkle, the Designer Cat

DearSparkleMedRes300

There are lots of books on the market that give advice on how to care for cats, provide information on cat behavior, and address other aspects of living with a cat.  Dear Sparkle:  Advice from One Cat to Another, authored by Sparkle The Designer Cat and edited by Janiss Garza, is unique in this genre.  It combines solid advice with humor, and gives us an insider’s look into what and how cats think.  Sparkle  is a seven-year-old pedigreed Somali who speaks out on anything from how to address trouble with family members (both human and feline) to hairballs to culinary delights and disappointments.  A significant portion of the book is devoted to addressing questions about human foibles.  Writes Sparkle:  “Humans are complicated beings, and very hard to train.”

Sparkle, the internet’s premier cat-to-cat advice columnist, brings her feline point of view to help her fellow cats figure out human behavior and deal with the day-to-day frustrations that living with humans can bring for a cat.

Some samples of the kinds of questions Sparkle answers are:

My human used to give me treats at dinnertime, but the vet put me on a diet and now I’m starving!  How do I get these treats back?

A tom cat invaded my backyard and now my roommate hates my guts!  What happened, and what do I do about it?

My human brought home a snotty new kitten – how do I show him who’s boss?

This is a thoroughly enjoyable, often laugh out loud funny book filled with practical information presented in a unique style.

And if you can’t get enough of Sparkle’s advice from the book, you can visit her on her website at http://www.sparklecat.com.

Sparkle is a kind-hearted and generous cat and wants to help kitties who are less fortunate than she is.  For the rest of the year, she will donate $1 for every book sold through her website to Tabby’s Place, a cat sanctuary in Ringoes, NJ.  For more information about Sparkle’s mission to help Tabby’s Place, click here.

Amber’s Mewsings: Amber Gets a Check Up

Amber

You may remember that I’ve managed to keep the dreaded check up at bay for quite some time, but – even a powerful creator cat like me can only do so much when she has a caring mom who wants to be sure I’m healthy and stay healthy.  So Wednesday, Fern, our vet, came to the house, and this time, I knew it wasn’t just for a visit with Mom.  I knew immediately what was up when Fern didn’t even come upstairs, but headed straight for Mom’s Reiki room.  That’s where they do my check ups.  Go figure – I guess Mom thinks the energy there is good so it’ll make it less stressful for me.  Yeah, nice try.  So Fern heads downstairs, and Mom grabs me and carries me downstairs – never a good sign.  I made my displeasure known, but did she let me go?  Of course not.  She kept telling me “it’s okay, sweetie.”  Sure it is – do YOU think it’s okay when someone comes at you uninvited and pokes and prods you, and then sticks sharp needles into you and steals your blood???

Anyway.  Mom puts me on the Reiki table, and Fern pretends she’s petting me.  I know petting from what she was doing!  She squeezed and poked at all my organs.  Then she took this weird metal disk and put it against my heart.  The disk had rubber tubes attached that went into Fern’s ears.  Humans are so weird.  And then she had the audacity to look into my mouth!  Apparently she didn’t like what she saw there, because she said I have to have what they call a dental – an innocent little word for me being put in my carrier, having to ride in Mom’s car to the cat hospital, and being poked, prodded and stuck with needles while I’m there.  Granted, then I get to take a nice long nap, but when I wake up, my mouth feels icky and I feel out of sorts and groggy and just really weird.  It always takes the rest of the day for me to feel normal again.  But I know Mom stays with me through the whole thing and she holds me while I wake up, and she takes me home as soon as she can.  Mom has explained to me before how important it is that we keep my teeth and gums healthy, and I understand it – but I don’t have to like it!

But back to the check up – even after checking out my teeth, Fern still wasn’t done, sigh.  I knew the worst part was yet to come.  Mom kept hugging me and telling me it was okay.  I growled and grumbled – I know Mom meant well, but I’m not an idiot!  So then Mom put me into this seriously uncomfortable position and held on to my front leg, hard, and Fern came at me with a needle.  I tried to be good, but it really hurt, and I let loose with a loud scream.  I didn’t want to, because I know it upsets Mom when I cry, but yowza!  After what seemed like an eternity, while I was watching my precious blood trickle into two small tubes, Fern said the magic words.  “We’re done!”.  Mom held on to me for a little bit longer – I know it was to make sure that my leg wouldn’t continue to bleed where they stuck the needle in me, but I was so ready to just get out of that room and away from them!  I know why it’s important that they get my blood, Mom wrote an article about it a while back, but I sure wish it didn’t hurt so much.  And of course the results were all perfect, just like I am.  I could have told them that they would be without having to endure all that poking and prodding and being stuck with needles.  Humans!

In Mom’s defense, once Fern left, I got lots of treats, and I know she felt really bad that she had to put me through this.  And I do understand that it’s important to make sure that I’m healthy.

Anyway – that’s all I have to say for now.  That dental thing is supposed to happen in two weeks.   You can be sure I’ll have a thing or two to say about that!

Bentley Wins Best In Show

Bentley

Guest post by Sharon Eisen, DVM

I’m not supposed to like showing cats.  I’m supposed to tend to the needy, the homeless, and the ailing and sick cats of the world.  That’s what my conscience tells me.  But my ego tells me otherwise.  I want to have the most beautiful cat of them all.  My pride wants everyone to ooh and ahh over my cat; the cat that I brought into the world by carefully selecting sire and dam, putting them together to make a most beautiful kitten and then, cat.  I apologize to all the unwanted cats in the world and I swear, I love them too.

So, when Bentley, my most beloved British Shorthair cat won a best in show at the Westchester cat show, I found myself crying and feeling an almost embarrassed joy.  The judge held Bentley way up in the air so everyone could see him.  She turned him sideways, stretched him out and described the attributes that made this lilac colored cat the best cat of the show.  I stood in the crowd with all the others, admiring his beauty, proud and swelling inside, knowing he was mine.  And then, he looked at me with his Cheshire grin and what I saw in his eyes was, “Look mom, we did it!”

Bentley kittenThat was in 1999.  Bentley went on to become a supreme grand champion cat, the highest level of achievement in the cat fancy.  He was an international winning cat, appeared in print ads, TV commercials and even had a gig on animal planet.  He loved every second of his life.  He was the only cat I ever knew that posed for the camera.  He delighted being in the limelight and loved attention he received. 

When I reflect back on the day that Bentley won Best In Show, I feel what I felt at that moment all over again. Sometimes it makes me cry from both sadness and joy.  That day is a gift, a treasure that I will always have.  Bentley taught me that’s it is okay to enjoy the guilty pleasures of life. 

Bentley died at the age of seven, succumbing to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease I didn’t know he had until he went in to congestive heart failure at the age of two.  He lived five and a half more good years.  And that was his other life lesson to me.  Live in the moment; make memories and love with abandon.

I miss you. 

Your greatest admirer,

Sharon Eisen D.V.M.

Dr. Sharon Eisen has been a practicing veterinarian since 1984. In 1991 she realized her dream of opening a feline-only practice in Brookfield, Connecticut. The Complete Cat Clinic was the very first cats-only hospital in the state. While owning and operating the clinic, Dr. Eisen has also been breeding cats for the past 15 years.  Some of her cats have appeared on television and have been top-ranking show cats with many ribbons to their credit; and others have simply been beautiful and treasured companions.  In addition to devoting her career to the care and wellbeing of cats, Dr. Eisen has an abiding interest in the human/animal connection. She has conducted programs in elementary schools to teach students about pet care.  She has led pet bereavement groups and she has brought cats and dogs into nursing homes to serve as pet therapists.

Cat Tales bookFor many years, Dr. Eisen has wanted to share the wonderful and compelling storiesof the cats she’s encountered. The time has finally come.  Her book Cat Tales – True Love Stories will take you on a journey of the heart and mind. 

Dr. Eisen lives in Danbury, Connecticut with her husband and four cats: Paco, Hershey, and Rosie and Pawlie Newman.

For more information about the book, please visit: http://www.cattalesbook.com

Winter Health Tips for Your Pets

let-it-snow

Do you enjoy winter and love to play in the snow, or would you rather curl up in front of a warm fireplace with your favorite feline?  Regardless of your preferences for this cold season, being aware of the challenges this time of year can bring for your pets can help keep them safe all winter long.

1. Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed. Cats who are allowed to stray are exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other cats, dogs and wildlife.

2.  During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.

3. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm – dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.

4. Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.

5. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.

6. Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

7. Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.

8.  Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him in tip-top shape.

9. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Poison Control Center for more information.

Amber’s Mewsings: Thanksgiving Reflections

Amber and Buckley

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and got their fill of turkey!  I got a special yummy Thanksgiving meal yesterday, and for once, Mom didn’t spend most of the day on the computer, so it was a really good day.  I’m so thankful for my mom –  she’s the best.

I also know that this holiday weekend is difficult for her this year.  It was this time last year that my sister Buckley passed away.  The actual anniversary is tomorrow, but I know Mom has been thinking about this time last year for the past few days, remembering Buckley’s last days with us in physical form, and I know that it makes her a little bit sad.  Humans make such a big deal out of this death thing.  I miss my sister’s physical presence, but I still talk to her all the time.  She never left us, and she comes and visits all the time.  She and I have a lot to talk about.  We talk about what it’s like for her to be in the non-physical realm, about how happy we are that Mom’s book about Buckley is so well-received, and about how we can help Mom.  Mostly, what we want Mom, and all other humans, to know is that nobody ever really dies.  We just change form.  The connection that we had while we were together in physical form continues beyond this lifetime.  The love never dies.  It’s just that when humans are so sad about not having a loved one with them in physical form, they tend to disconnect from that part of themselves that allows them to feel their connection with something greater than themselves.  Humans have different terms for that – some call it Source, some call it Spirit, some call it God.  Cats don’t really think about what the right word for it is.  We *are* it.  And it’s through that close connection that we are able to communicate with those who’ve passed over into the non-physical dimension.  We cats know, and have always known, that the bond that exists between us and our humans is unbreakable.

And that’s why I’m the wise one – because I know stuff like this.  It just takes humans a little bit longer to get it.  My mom is pretty evolved as far as humans go (and that’s a high compliment, coming from me!), but even she gets caught up in the sadness of missing Buckley.  Sometimes, Buckley and I feel like we need to hit her over the head with evidence of Buckley’s presence, and we have fun messsing with her head because she doesn’t always get it right away.  But she’s coming around.

So Mom and I are spending this weekend remembering Buckley.  The photo above was taken during one of our morning play sessions.  I do miss those.  But we still play together – it’s just different now.

To all the humans who are missing a feline  or other furry companion this holiday season:  find quiet time, be still, and listen with your heart.  Your departed friend is never far from you.

Thanksgiving ABC’s

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Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends, but it is also a time for reflection on the many things we have in our lives that we are grateful for.  Gratitude is a wonderful way to raise your vibration and shift your energy.  The vibration of gratitude is a powerful force.  It can shift your mood and your thoughts from a place of scarcity to a place of abundance.  

I’ve come up with a whole alphabet of things I’m grateful for this year:

A – Amber, for her loving, wise and gentle presence in my life, for being the inspiration behind The Conscious Cat, and for reminding me to slow down and appreciate each moment.
B – Buckley, for opening my heart and changing my life in ways I never could have imagined, and for inspiring me to write her story so that her lessons can be shared with the world.
C – Cats – I can’t imagine a world without these wonderful creatures.
D – Dogs – my friends’ dogs, my Reiki clients – dogs are so much fun to be with.
E – Eating out – one of the great pleasures of life, especially when shared with good friends.
F – Friends – I am richly blessed in that area.  Since I no longer have any family left, my friends are my family.
G – Google – what did we ever do without it?
H – Health.  The fact that mine is excellent. 
I –  Inner peace – when you have it, life makes sense.
J – Joy – it’s what we all strive for.  There is joy in life’s small moments, as well as in the big ones.  I’ve had both this past year – in spades.
K – Kindness – being kind to others, whether human or animal, is what matters most.
L – Law of Attraction.  It makes everything so simple.
M – Music.  Everything from classical to hard rock.
N – Novels – the best way I know of to escape reality for a little while at a time.
O – Openness – being open to new experiences allows life to grow and expand beyond self-imposed limits.
P – Passion – especially the fact that I finally discovered mine.
Q – Quiet time.  It’s essential for my personal balance and well-being, and I make sure to carve out time for it each and every day.
R – Reading.  I usually have at least two or three books going at the same time. 
S – Social Media – I’ve made so many wonderful new friends, and reconnected with old ones.  What an amazing world we live in where keeping in touch is made so easy.
T – Tea on a cold day.  Current favorites:  Celestial Seasonings Sugar Plum Spice and Mandarin Orange Green Tea.
U – Unlimited possibilities – the fact that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.
V–  The color violet – this should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me!
W – Walking.  It’s the one exercise I’ve stuck with consistently for decades.  I love the combination of exercise and contemplation.
X –  No matter how hard I try, I can’t think of anything starting with X!
Y – You!  My readers, my friends – thank you for all you bring into my life.
Z –  Z-Rock (the tv show) and the real life band ZO2 whose lives the show is based on. 

Writing this blog post and coming up with this list turned out to not only be fun, but a very powerful example of how focusing on gratitude can shift your vibration.  I encourage you to consider making a gratitude list for yourself this Thanksgiving.  What does your Thanksgiving alphabet look like?

Amber and I would like to wish all our readers a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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