I try to embrace each season for its special gifts, but I’m a summer girl at heart. I thrive on warm weather and sun light. Come to think of it, I’m much like a cat in that respect! I don’t like cold weather, and I definitely don’t like snow. As a result, this time of year is challenging for me: the winter doldrums have definitely set in for me. Even though the days are already starting to get longer, spring still seems a long way off. And while I don’t have a true case of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), I still struggle with the lack of light, especially on grey, gloomy days.
People who suffer from SAD may sleep too much, have little energy, and crave sweets and starchy foods during this time. They may also feel Continue Reading
There is no doubt in my mind that cats have the power to change lives. I’ve experienced it in my own life more than once. Feebee, my first cat, was responsible for me leaving my soulless corporate job and embarking on a career in veterinary medicine. Buckley changed my life in more ways than I ever could have imagined. It took an entire book to tell her story! Amber, of course, inspired this website, and Allegra and Ruby are continuing the tradition of feline change catalysts in my life.
The word “catalyst” refers to a substance or force that accelerates change at a faster rate than is otherwise possible. Catalysts help others achieve their goals in a more positive way. And how purrfect is it that the word “cat” is at the root of the word “catalyst!”Continue Reading
Ah, the New Year. A clean slate, the promise of a fresh start. It’s like the ultimate Monday. Did you have a bad weekend? No worries, it’s a new week. Did you go through some challenging times last year? It’s January. You can start over.
Unfortunately, for many of us, this “fresh start effect” doesn’t last. The trouble with the concept of a fresh start is that it takes us away from living in the moment. It makes us look back over what was, and forward to what we want to be. This is not where life happens. Life happens in the present moment – and that’s where the real promise for lasting change lies.Continue Reading
When I asked Allegra and Ruby about their New Year’s Resolutions, they gave me a funny look. Allegra said New Year’s Resolutions are a silly human invention. She said cats live in the moment and don’t worry about what they should be doing next, so they don’t need resolutions. Ruby said she resolves to get more treats this year.
I stopped making New Year’s resolutions several years ago. Since I still like the idea of the “fresh start” a new year offers, I set New Year’s intentions instead. I think New Year’s resolutions are destined to fail, because there’s an inherent flaw in the term “resolution.” According to Merriam Webster, the definition of resolution is “the act of determining.” There’s nothing there that says we’re actually going to do something. This is why I prefer to set New Year’s intentions. The definition of intention is “a determination to act in a certain way.” The difference is subtle, but one (intention) implies that we are actually determined to do something differently, whereas the other (resolution) simply states that we’ve decided to change something.Continue Reading
Christmas Eve has always been a day of reflection for me.
I consider myself a deeply spiritual person, but I don’t feel affiliated with any particular brand of religion. My parents were Catholic, and I grew up in that faith, but during my adult life, I’ve chosen to take what I call a “cafeteria approach” to spirituality, picking and choosing what resonates, and discarding the rest. I celebrate Christmas, because for me, the holiday is ultimately about love, generosity, and giving. But even more than that, for me, it’s a time to slow down.
We live in an incredibly fast-paced world, and it’s rare that a large number of people take the time to slow down at the same time. Continue Reading
Five years ago, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, I had to say good bye to my precious little Buckley. Even though I still miss her every day, after five years, the sadness is tempered by appreciation and gratitude for the amazing changes she has brought to my life, and, through her book, to the lives of so many others.
I had never lost a cat during the holidays, and that first holiday season without her was very difficult for me. I love the holidays, and my cats have always been an integral part of the celebrations. The year Buckley died, all I wanted to do was hole up in my house, and pretend that the holiday season wasn’t happening all around me. Thankfully, I had put up my Christmas tree the day before she died. I already knew then that she wouldn’t be with me at Christmas that year, and I needed to see her with the tree one last time. Otherwise, there probably wouldn’t have been a tree that year.Continue Reading
When I think about what contentment looks like, I think of a purring cat. If there’s anything that illustrates happiness better, I don’t know what that would be. And it doesn’t take much for cats to be content: a sunny spot on the floor, a full tummy, a lap to curl up on – those are the ingredients for contentment when you’re a cat.
Why is it so hard for humans to reach that same state of contentment? Why do so many of us always look for the next best thing? For some people, the mindset for happiness is a never-ending cycle of always wanting more. Perhaps we’d do well to learn from our cats when it comes to mastering contentment.Continue Reading
Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it,
we are in harmony with reality. – Pema Chodron
The two photos in the collage above were taken five years apart. On the left is Ruby, looking out of our living room window one day last week. On the right is Buckley, enjoying the fall sunshine in the very same spot, in late 2008, about a month before she died. Looking at these two photos made me realize that accepting impermanence is a fact of life when you love cats. The beautiful fall colors in the photo remind us that nature is also all about impermanence, and the inevitability of change. Nothing lives forever.
Impermanence is a cornerstone of Buddhist teachings and practice. All that exists is impermanent, nothing lasts. When we don’t fully accept this tenet, we suffer. When we do accept it, we find peace. If we can accept that suffering, which can encompass anything from unhappiness and stress to anxiety and anguish, is one of the facts of human existence, we can then also appreciate the sweeter side of life: the genuine joy of living with an open heart. Accepting that nothing is permanent makes the present moment more precious.Continue Reading
I never forget how fortunate I am that I found the courage to take the risks that were necessary along my journey. It wasn’t always easy, there were (and still are) moments of worry and doubt along the way, but I wouldn’t want my life to be anything but what it is.
I love sharing my own experience, and I also love cheering on others who embark on a similar journey.Continue Reading
I have a love hate relationship with fall: I enjoy the beautiful colors of autumn all around me,but I also can’t help but think about what comes afterwards. I’m a summer girl; I thrive on warm weather and sun light. Come to think of it, I’m much like a cat in that respect! I don’t like cold weather, and I definitely don’t like snow.
However, in the spirit of living in the moment – something my cats remind me to do each and every day – I try to embrace fall in all its glory. I’m making it a point to pay attention to the slow changes in the leaves in my backyard, and on my daily walks. I’m focusing on appreciating the beauty of the season, rather than on dreading the inevitable journey toward falling leaves and winter.Continue Reading
I feel tremendously grateful that I get to work from home as a freelance writer. I do what I love and am able to manage my day with some flexibility. My cats are constantly with me while I work. They lie on my lap, on my desk and at my feet. I even placed a basket on the corner of my desk so they could have their own special spot.
I believe I do a pretty great job managing my time and staying organized, but there are always ways I can improve my methods and the way I handle work-related situations. I recently realized just how much my cats help me in this area — especially with staying relaxed and focused.Continue Reading