life lessons

Conscious Cat Sunday: Lesson from a Maple Tree (and My Cats)

Ruby cat maple tree fall

You will find something more in woods than in books.
Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters. – St. Bernard

I previously introduced you to the maple tree outside my bedroom and explained its significance in my life in My Cats and The Maple Tree.  Each fall, it’s one of the last trees to turn, and when it does, it turns the most incredibly bright, vibrant red. When the light is just right, my entire bedroom is infused with a red glow from the tree. The glory only lasts for a few days, and each year, I look forward to it.Continue Reading

The cat who changed my life

Buckley relaxing

Five years ago today, a small tortoiseshell cat came into my home, and my heart, and changed my life in ways I never could have imagined.

Those of you who read Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher already know that bringing her home was not smooth sailing for us. For those of you who haven’t, I’d like to share this excerpt about the day she finally became a full time member of our family:

It finally came down to one phone call from the animal hospital about a week later. A client had inquired about adopting Buckley. That was all I had needed to hear to make up my mind. On October 9, 2006, Buckley came home for good.Continue Reading

Conscious Cat Sunday: embrace change

cat using facebook

Let go of fear, embrace change, and move toward joy. – Buckley

How do you feel about change? I have a love/hate relationship with it. I often think that one of the many reasons why I love cats is that they are creatures of habit who don’t like having their routines disrupted. I like my life, and I like my routines. At the same time, most, if not all, change in my life has always been for the better.

The reality is that, as the saying goes, the only constant in life is change. Ironically, most of us don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about change, but we sure react to it.Continue Reading

Conscious Cat Sunday: Creating balance

Creating Balance

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance,
order, rhythm and harmony. – Thomas Merton

Do you struggle to find balance in your life?  Many of us lead lives that are anything but balanced. In fact, at times, we often feel like a cat trying to balance on a tree branch, ready to tumble off at any moment. Some of us will manage to right ourselves, others will try to balance by flailing about, and the rest of us will fall off and try to get back on again. But eventually, no matter how hard we try, we’ll all fall off if we don’t create balance in our lives.

Balance is an essential ingredient for a happy life. When your life is in balance, your body, mind and spirit are in harmony. Everything just feels right.

But how do you achieve that balance in these hectic times we live in?

The definition of balance will vary from person to person, but the following tips can help create balance in anyone’s life:

  • Make time for yourself. You can’t be there for everyone else unless you take care of yourself.
  • Exercise regularly and eat healthy. This goes right along with taking care of yourself.
  • Integrate your passion with your work. Most of us spend up to a third of our lives at work. Doing work you’re passionate about rather than work that’s “just a job” will go a long way toward creating balance in your life. If you haven’t found a way yet to combine the two, leave your work at the office. Nobody ever looks back on their life and wishes they had spent more time at the office!
  • Spend time with family and friends.
  • Live within your means. Stress over finances is one of the biggest obstacles to creating balance in your life.
  • Don’t multi-task. You may think you’re getting more done that way, but you’re really not. By putting your full focus and energy on one task at a time, you will work more efficiently and you won’t feel like you’re just spinning your wheels.
  • Spend time with your cats! Spending time with cats is one of the best ways I know to come back into balance instantly.

What one thing will you do this week to create more balance in your life?

Conscious Cat Sunday: stop and smell the flowers

One of the most important lessons animals teach us is to live in the moment. Our cats don’t waste time analyzing the past, and they don’t worry about the future. They’ve truly mastered the art of stopping to smell the flowers, as Odin so aptly demonstrates in the photo above.

On this Sunday, take a moment and let your cat show you how to stop and smell the flowers. Perhaps she’s trying to entice you to a vigorous play session? Or maybe she’d like you to join her for a Sunday afternoon nap?

What are you doing today to stop and smell the flowers?

Photo of Odin by Layla Morgan Wilde

Life Lessons from Our Pets

I have always believed that animals come into our lives to teach us. First and foremost, they teach us about unconditional love. But they also teach us to stretch and grow, to reach beyond our self-imposed limits, and to expand our consciousness. They take us to places we did not think were possible for us to go. I’ve been fortunate to have a number of these animals in my life. 

There was my soul mate kitty, Feebee, who was instrumental in guiding me from an unsatisfactory corporate job to a fulfilling career in the veterinary profession.  For the first time in my life, I discovered what loving what you do for a living feels like.  There was my office cat Virginia, who made my dream of a fulfilling career complete. Whenever I had visualized my perfect job, that dream had always included a cat sleeping in a sunny spot on my desk. One of Virginia’s favorite sleeping places was the spot right next to my computer on my desk at the animal hospital, in front of a sunny window.  There was Buckley, who changed my life in ways I never could have imagined by helping me discover my true passion.  Her lessons were profound enough to inspire an entire book.  And there is Amber, who I share my life with now.  Her gentle, wise presence brings love and affection into my life every day, and she inspired this site, which is dedicated to sharing information about health, happiness and conscious living for pets and their people. 

I’ve found that there are three main lessons that all animals teach us, if only we are willing to listen.  

  1. The teach us to live in the moment.  Our pets don’t spend time analyzing the past, and they don’t worry about the future.  They are fully focused on whatever it is they are doing in the present moment, whether it’s enjoying a meal, playing with a favorite toy, or napping in the sunny spot on the rug.
  2. They help us to slow down.  We get so caught up in the business of our daily lives, and we rarely take enough time to relax.  Spending time with our pets is the best stress relief I know of.  Research has shown that simply petting a dog or cat can lower your blood pressure.
  3. They help us connect with our spiritual core.  As humans, we have an innate need to get in touch with something greater than ourselves.  For some people, this connection comes through religion, for others, it comes from being in nature.  For me, it has always come from being around animals.    

Listen to the animals in your life – you might be surprised at the lessons they have to teach you.

What have you learned from your pets?