Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Little Things

This year holiday time is tight. We usually end up celebrating a number of holidays in December because we have friends and families from different religions. This usually means that there are gifts to be purchased for all, gifts to be wrapped, cookies to bake and dinners to make.

However, this year, with the economy being so poor it became very apparent to me how much everything was costing. Sugar cookies and frosting cost almost $20.00 in butter and other ingredients, a tree costs $40.00, Turkey's cost $20.00, the meal costs about $45.00. Gingerbread houses cost $35.00, gifts, even at $5.00 a person were going to add up fast. And that was not even counting at least one gift for each child.

I had to cut somewhere. First we decided we would make gifts for everyone we knew this year. They would actually be much nicer than something we could buy anyway. Some family members are now getting gifts that would be posted on ETSY for about $75.00, which is a lot better than a cheap $5.00 gift from China that does not even support the economy. The kids have all agreed to accept the fact they will only get one small additional gift (not made by me) this year and we made sure to re-gift/deliver a lot of things we didn't want to Goodwill and other charities before the holidays so things we did not use so other people would be able to enjoy. Altogether we delivered 26 boxes of things - most of them in great or new condition.

It is interesting, because when you give away things your space and your house seems new - things around you that were buried reveal themselves and it almost seems like you received a gift yourself :)

Of course just being together is the best gift a person can have this holiday season. And the time we are spending together decorating and making things and baking is the main thing that makes this holiday special. However, gift giving is such a big part of the holidays, so that part was a challenge.

Gift giving can turn into a really big commercial me-athon. But gift giving can also be a lesson in giving and what role and function that has in a society. It can be a lesson in patience (waiting to open boxes) and can be a lesson in hope (hoping for things as gifts). Gifting is a sacred cultural practice (can you tell I majored in Anthropology) that needs to be

But the big lesson I learned this holiday season with gifts is that it is the little things that count. When I looked at our budget I had to fit a lot of things into a little money. The decision to let each child have only one small gift, was made because I realized, as I tried to cut other things from the budget that it is actually the "little things" that count more than the big gifts.

The most interesting item we decided to spend money on was wrapping paper. I have old bits of leftover wrapping paper from last year and I even have some that are in solid colors that will work for any holiday. I have tissue paper and we can always make wrapping paper. For me, I figured that was an easy $10-$15.00 I could save. Don't buy wrapping paper.

I was wrong. The children were crushed at the idea of not wrapping things in pretty paper they had chosen themselves. They found such joy in the idea of unwrapping things that Sunii even said he was going to wrap some old cereal boxes so it looked like we had more gifts under the tree and that he "really liked unwrapping things". Really. He was not just "being nice". The kids were really excited about the wrapping paper. So we went out shopping and each child was able to choose two kinds of wrapping paper - big tubes of sparkly decorated holiday themed paper-soon-to-be-recycled. I also chose one tube myself.

When I told them they would only each get one gift this year they seemed to understand "how things were" and were "ok". When I mentioned not getting wrapping paper they were very upset.

So we arrived home. Five tubes of wrapping paper. We wrapped the gifts we had, Sunii wrapped his cereal boxes, we wrapped some of the items we had made for people and there was such JOY in the house - just because of the colors and excitement of the wrapping paper (and thank goodness I had an entire package of bows from last year :).

It was a lesson to me. Sometimes when we think things are bad it only takes a small thing to change it. I thought that making things better would be impossible and that we would just be "making do". But my kids taught me that even a small gesture can make us feel special.

And we decided to do gingerbread houses instead of sugar cookies this year. Shhhh...don't tell anyone but I was sort of tired of sugar cookies anyway - whew! Glad I had an excuse not to make any this year :)

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Don't Judge People

I don't judge people.

yah....riiiiiight ;)

I think we all wish we could be capable of saying that statement. But nobody I know is. Including myself. It is a constant struggle within all of us. We dislike being judged by others. It often feels unfair and we know it is unfair to judge others. So why can't we stop? Why do we continually find ourselves judging others? While at the same time we complain about being judged ourselves?

I see many reasons within myself that may be common to others as well...

1. Sometimes we don't realize we are judging others. The other day I was talking with my children about how it would be better if people who owned big companies would share their money more and pay their employees more money. I was judging their choices in how they run their business. A few days later my son started telling me how movie stars should not live in such big houses. I recognized the "judging" then and also realized where he had learned it from. So we decided to do a little practice in understanding. We started with the premise that not all move stars are hoarding their money. Many are very generous with it. We talked about how if you are famous it would be hard to actually be able to attend a gym or go to a public pool and how it might actually be more necessary to have one in your home. I shared my experience living in a protected community overseas - how we had all the luxury items we needed, but we still felt a bit imprisoned at times. My son and I led ourselves through the spectrum...from judging to compassion. And I was reminded - just because it seems like "fair game" does not mean that it is. Even famous people and Hollywood stars have a right to be understood and not judged.

2. Everyone is doing it. Have you watched the news lately? Back in the "old days" when I studied journalism at Northwestern there was a mantra of "objectivity". That seems to have changed a lot since I was in college. Now, it seems, every news station has an opinion and a lot of the newscasting is spent judging a person's actions, The presidential election was a great example. It became so commonplace to judge the candidates that we all started doing it: "He should not have said that", "why did he do that?" etc...etc...It is hard to get a perspective on judging others when you are surrounded by television, media and other people who are doing it. Without even realizing it we become used to the "culture of judging" and have a hard time realizing we are even doing it anymore.

3. We have a need to validate ourselves. One of the most common reason I see for people judging others is that they feel more validated themselves by saying it. So by saying "My neighbor is making really bad parenting decisions" we can make ourselves feel like better parents. By saying, "why does she eat that junk food?" we make ourselves feel like we are eating better food.

Every time we are questioning someone else's behaviour we are judging them. It is hard to stop. I know. I am stopping myself quite frequently and then, after I stop myself I think, "wow, why does my mind keep doing this?"

The short answer is "because our minds are programmed to do this". However, there are practices you can create in your own life to reduce the frequency of the times you find yourself judging others. If you have any practices you use please post them to the comments section and share with others. Here are some of the things that I do:

1. Realize that I am not objective. We often think we are being objective or fair in our judgment. We say things and assume that because we are being "objective" or "fair" that it is OK to judge. When we really take a look at how nonobjective we are we tend to judge people less. I will give you an example from my own life...

Last week I was busy all day packing things for charity and spending time on the phone coordinating pick-ups, etc...I don't always do this so it was unusual for me to spend 100% of my time in giving-mode. Later in the day I asked my roommate to do me a favor that would have taken ten minutes. When they refused I felt upset and I asked them (in a judging manner) 'Why don't you feel you have ten minutes to help out?" Later, upon apologizing and discussing it I realized that on any other day of the week I would not have thought twice about it but because I had spent all day in "giving mode", someone who didn't want to give ten minutes seemed very stingy to me that day! Realizing I over-reacted because of my own circumstances that day was helpful.

2. Realize that I am not qualified. We often make the mistake of thinking we are "qualified" to judge others. You would think that people like single mothers would understand each other and stick together or that people who lost their jobs would understand each other and stick together, etc..However, it constantly amazes me that it is those that are LIKE US in some way that we judge the most harshly. My favorite example is the "sleep scenario". We have all experienced this at some time, especially if we are the primary caregiver.

Someone will approach us (husband, coworker, etc..) and will complain that they didn't get enough sleep. Logically, they are thinking we might have some sympathy for them or they are seeking compassion. It is more likely they will get a glare from us as we quietly (or not) think to ourselves "geesh...I survived the past five years with a toddler and baby on no sleep...and YOU are complaining about not getting one night of sleep?" It took me a few years to realize that there are actually some people who need more sleep than I do - LOL! I can be "tired" and not get enough sleep but it does not effect me as deeply as it does other people. It is not healthy for me and I try to avoid skimping on sleep, but if it does happen I can still make it through the day and function pretty well and get beyond it. However, there are actually people who cannot function at all, feel ill, become disoriented and have major health problems if they miss out on just one hour of sleep. Some people even develop sleep apnea.

So...realizing that I am not really qualified to judge someone else helped me to be more compassionate when someone complained, for example, about not getting enough sleep.

Then I started to realize how unqualified I was on many other fronts as well. Just because I was a single mom didn't mean that I had the same experience that everyone else did. Just because I was divorced did not mean that I had the same experience that someone else did in their divorce...the list can go on and on.

So any time you find yourself saying "Well I did that! Why can't they deal with it?" - stop and think...did you really do that? Look at their life exactly as it is...the number of kids they have, their childhood and life history, their education, their experience in the work force, their age, their past traumas, their current financial situation, how much help they get from friends, how many friends they have, your situation REALLY similar to theirs or does it just appear that way?

3. I don't have all the information. This is the biggest thing missing when we judge people. We judge them based on the information we have. But what about the information we don't have? Here are some examples:

Perhaps you are wondering why "Dolly" is going to the movies so often but she does not have enough money to feed her children? Perhaps you don't know that she received a gift book of movie tickets from her aunt.

Perhaps you are wondering why someone is spending time going out when they didn't yet return your phone call. Perhaps they didn't have any time to spend with their family that week and they are putting their family first (as they should...he he he I am judging here).

Perhaps you are wondering why someone didn't respond to your e-mail. Perhaps they had an illness or the e-mail never arrived.

I try to make an effort before I judge or get upset, to get all of the information. When my kids appear to be doing something "wrong" I ask them about it first:

"What is happening? Tell me about it."

When someone upsets me or makes me angry I ask about what they said first,

"Can you repeat what you said or explain it to me? I understood ____________ and want to make sure I understand correctly."

When someone ignores me, does not answer e-mails or phone messages I first of all realize that they may be very overwhelmed or busy but I also send them a note saying , "Hi...I am in no hurry...but I just wanted to make sure you got my message?"

4. We do not have that person's world view. I have a "friend" who often "takes advantage of people" - at least from my world viewpoint she does. However, after years of knowing her I have come to realize that she does not realize what she is doing. She is following the examples that she was raised with and thinks that these are acceptable ways to deal with people. In fact, she has an entire circle of friends that function in the same way. I do not agree and thus our friendship has become more of an aquaintance. However, at the same time I don't go out of my way to talk about her to others or to judge her and make an issue about it. I just choose to see that her view of the world is different and for some mysterious reason that works in "her world". Sometimes we get angry or talk about people or judge them harshly because we percieve them doing "bad" things on purpose. However, sometimes they are just being themselves and that is the way they are. So one step in helping us reach a more compassionate place is to realize that not everything that is done is "personally against us" or "done with awareness". It is a lot easier for me to feel compassion for someone when I realize that what they are doing is part of who they are and it is what makes their contribution to this earth different than mine. I may not agree and I may not "get it" but I am certainly not qualified to judge if their contribution is less valuable than mine.

5. There are two sides to every issue. I used to get upset with a friend of mine who was starting his own business because it seemed like he was playing a lot and not really taking it seriously. I felt he was just "goofing off'. Then when he complained about not having work I was not very sympathetic. Months later I realized that his business skills were just different than mine. While I have a lot of energy and am able to provide people with information and inspiration very quickly and on a regular basis - sometimes my work may have spelling or grammar errors or a video clip may have a blip in in. People who appreciate the other unique qualities in my work and the low prices don't mind. However, there are other people who would appreciate my friend's skills more. His skill is one of meticulousness. He has 100 ideas and many of them may never see the light of day (which still makes me sad) but when one of those ideas comes to light it is done with such perfection that people enjoy, not only his work, but the smooth and professional quality it has. This is a perfect example of where I judged someone way too harshly. In reality they could have come back and judged my inspired, budget-wise and energetic way of working as "sloppy".

This brings me to the last point...

6. Change the words we use. My friend is not slow and lazy in his work he is METICULOUS and CAREFUL. I am not sloppy and careless. I am INSPIRED and FOCUSED ON COMMUNICATION and HELPING and being there for people when they need me instead of making them wait for weeks. I also don't have enough money to hire an editor and would have to double or triple my prices if I did. My daughter is not SPOILED - she simply knows what she wants and knows how to ask for it. My son is not BORING he simply has the skill to focus on one activity (rather than a lot of them) for a long period of time. We could go on and on...but the point is, when we choose to see the positive side of what someone is doing rather than the negative side, it helps us relate better. For there IS a positive side to everything. If we can teach ourselves to focus on that we can also understand better what each person's skills are and what they can contribute to our lives.

I look forward to hearing ways in which you are all dealing with this same issue.

My goal is to have more compassion and less "judging". I have experienced people judging me harshly so many times. I know how badly it feels. Since I am in the public eye and so much information is online about me, people often think they have enough information to say, "Wow! Why did she do (or say) THAT???" My wish is that people would write to me and say "why" if they have a problem instead of assuming they know why or thinking something bad. I am a good person with good intentions and make great efforts to do what I think is best for everyone in every action I take.

The more we see this in the rest of the world, the more compassionate we can be towards everyone.

Blessings & Health,

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Heal Someone to Heal Yourself

The other day I was feeling "invisible". You know that feeling you get when you post to an e-mail list and nobody answers you or when you offer something to someone and they don't say thank you or you just cooked a big meal and everyone ate but didn't really notice the effort you put into it? I don't "require" that everyone thank me for everything - LOL! However, I find that there are "vortex days" when nobody responds to anything. On those days a person can feel very invisible. Sometimes even one thank you can make everything a person did that day seem significant - even if the thank you was for only one of those things. I have talked about this with a number of people and it seems this is a world-wide phenomenon and many people experience this same issue.

Of course there is the whole issue of ego. That is the first thing that comes up in these conversations. "Oh, it is just my ego needing to be petted. I shouldn't cater to my ego so much." This angle is valid in many ways. If we were all able to tame that ego we would not even need validation. So one angle to work on is to increase our faith and lessen our need to feed our ego - the ego that demands we get validation for our worth - the ego that needs to feel worthy. Instead, focus on the being within us that knows we are worthy because we have faith that we are useful and siginficant in some way.

However, a second way to view this is "WHY?"

After having a few of these conversations and realizing how universal the problem was it occured to me that perhaps there was a reason we all felt like that from time to time. Perhaps it was not because we always need to tame our ego, perhaps it was not all about "me" at all...perhaps it was a gentle reminder that I also have a responsibility to give this acknowledgement and feedback to other people on this earth.

Of course, I try to do this on a daily basis. When someone sends something to a list that I enjoy I respond, but sometimes I am busy and I can't. When someone writes to me on Facebook I write a thank you back. But sometimes I forget. And so on...

So last week when this "invisible vortex" hit me, instead of looking inward, I looked outward. I was powerless to heal myself. Beyond trying to do "ego meditations" I could not do much about the lack of "attention" my poor deprived ego (LOL) was getting. But I could help someone else who was perhaps feeling the same way. So I went through my inbox and responded to all those waiting messages. Some only needed a "thank you" or a "wow that was great" one-word response. It seemed like such an endless task when I set them aside for "later" a week ago. But sitting there, I realized that if I were to receive just one e-mail of that sort that evening, it would have the power to change my mood. Suddenly an "endless task" was transformed into a number of significant actions.

After responding to those e-mails I sent out some notes to friends I had been "meaning to write to" for a while. Then I took out my "To Do" list and looked at some of the things I had been planning to do...send a donated CD to someone who was waiting, upload a document for a friend (who was not waiting, but I did tell her that when I ran across it I would upload it), respond to a client who's appointment was not for three more days...but thought she might appreciate an early letter...and so on...I even called some friends. I am not much of a phone person (I don't use the phone unless I have to) so they usually end up calling me (and I do the e-mailing) but I thought they might be surprised if I actually made the effort to call them for once instead of writing to them.

By the end of four hours I felt so wonderful! I didn't need someone to thank me to know I had made a difference that evening. I simply KNEW. I knew, because I knew how I was feeling at that moment and I knew that someone else would be needing the same thing I did right now.

Then I took the thought a bit father...what if every time we were sad or ill or feeling deprived we tried to focus on healing someone else instead of ourselves? As a healer I am already aware of the power that healing has - it goes both ways - but it never occured to me to use that "power" for my benefit. I always saw it as a "nice side effect of healing work." So what if one was to start using that power, not only for others but for themselves...on purpose?

I was already doing this in my shopping (my motto - "My business may go through hard times now and then but if I use my sparse money to buy from other small businesses perhaps I can help save THEM at least") but what about taking it farther?

So I looked around at what I needed to heal in my life. I was feeling financially stressed so I decided to heal that I would give away a lot of things I did not need. I was feeling tired so I decided to make some chamomile tea for my daughter...and we had a tea party. Even today I am still finding things I can do. And these actions are having incredible healing effects on me - even more than I imagined.

And discovering...that in focusing my healing outward, I can heal, not only myself, but someone else too.

As a healer I have spent my entire life healing people in different ways, but when I did that it was all about THEM. My focus was on healing and nurturing them. I have noticed and appreciated that I also benefit from my healing work. However, this idea I am "trying out" now is something new. It involves the same actions I have always done (healing, giving, saying thank you , etc...) but for a different reason.

Sometimes when we are the healer, the parent, the mother, the nurturer - we feel like we "need a break" from all the healing or giving we do. Realizing that we can focus this healing in a different way from time to time gives us permission to take care of ourselves, but to still keep on giving.

The practice then, is not to turn all of a person's giving into a way to heal themselves, or to turn all self-healing into giving, but just to present a different idea, that you can perhaps use from time to time. There is no "law" that says all giving must be self-less and the way to heal yourself is not always to focus on yourself.

Happy healing!

Friday, September 12, 2008

I Wish I Had...

Do you ever wish you had something you don't have?

Gottcha! That was a rhetorical question! Of course. We all do.

I wanted to share with you how I sometimes find those things in my life. Because sometimes we actually HAVE what we wished for and we just don't know it. Sound unbelievable? How could I be so dense that I am not seeing I have what I wish for? Read on...

I have been envying every playhouse I saw since the kids were 3 (they are 9-13 right now). When they had a drawing for playhouses at the local mall I put our names in. I talked to a friend about helping me build one, I shopped around for playhouses to purchase and I even purchased a book on how to build your own playhouse. Then one day I looked out of my window and I saw my child and her friend - 9 and 10 years old - playing in our Gazebo which they have made into a playhouse and I realized - I have something better! The Gazebo allows them to be outdoors AND in their house, they can't grow out of it because it fits adults as well as children, I can visit them in their playhouse and when they say "look at the great house we made today" I can actually step in and visit. I am just realizing that my obsession with having a playhouse has blinded me to the joy and wonder of the gazebo I have. It took the creative energies of a 9-year-old girl and her friend to open my eyes up to the possibilities.

I wish I had a large garden to feed our family. I could have one but I didn't take the time to create a large garden this year. So it WAS a choice I made. But I still wish I had one. However, the past month we have been busy wildcrafting in our yard and on the nature trail near our house and I realized that the amount of harvest we have readily available to us is quite large and what makes it even better is that we didn't have to do any work at all to get it - we didn't plant anything or weed any garden or make any effort at all. All we did was let our yard grow wild, and take walks on the nature trail and so far our harvest this year has included: grapes, blackberries, mint, garlic, apples, elderberries (for cooking into syrup), raspberries, echinacea, various decorative flowers, burr oak acorns for crafting and much more. As I looked at this abundance of harvest on our kitchen counter this week I realized that we DO have a garden to feed our family. It just came in a different costume.

That happens frequently. Often I will wish for something and wonder why my wishes are not coming true...only to realize later that they HAVE come true...I just didn't SEE them because I had an image in my head instead of an idea.

Take a few moments to look at your "wish" list right now. How many things on that list do you already have? To figure this out look to the IDEA and the REASONS behind your wish list instead of the image.

Why did I want a playhouse? So the kids can have a space of their own to play "house" and to have clubs and club meetings and invite friends over to. I did not really want the IMAGE of the pink-painted custom-roof ruffly-curtains playhouse I was dreaming of. I wanted the idea.

Why did I want a garden? Because I love the idea of the children being connected to nature in that way and seeing how nature can nurture us and we can live off the land and to be able to enjoy natural foods from around us. I did not really want the IMAGE of a square garden with a fence and nice rows of carrots. I wanted the idea.

Please take time to share if you discover anything in your own life.

And take time every few weeks to go through this exercise. Learning to LOOK for these things has helped me immensely in my life.

Blessings & Health,


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Loons across the Universe

The wonderful thing about connections between people is they do not have a mileage limit, and you don't have to pay for the gasoline either! I am sure a lot of military families are feeling this "connection" right now. If there is someone far away that you are missing - know that this connection IS there, you may just need to be silent for a moment and listen for it, or look for the little signs. This is a funny story that illustrates those connections...

Four weeks ago I picked up my daughter from the Science Center where her friend had a birthday party. As usual, she wanted to visit the science store and see what her closely guarded $5.00 could buy. I didn't mind. The Science store often had fun items to look at. So we browsed around. There were many items for under $5.00 so I started to get bored way before Sofi did and started looking at everything I had not looked at during my first run through. Then I felt a pull towards this rack of Audubon Society bird-call birds. It could have just been the sale sign that "pulled" me, you never know :) But what happened after that was very interesting.

I started looking at the birds and thinking how I should purchase some of them for our family. I love toys and items that involve bird calls - I enjoy walking through the nature trails and being able to identify the birds by their calls. We have a large book at home that has 123 bird calls in it but I was thinking to have such a wonderful visual would be nice as well. So I started to sift through the birds but I was not inspired until I came upon a baby loon.

All of a sudden it was like my mind completely shifted and was "taken over" by a new idea. I don't know where the idea came from. I thought "Emily and Josh would like these baby loons. I will buy them and send them to Emily and Josh. They probably miss their loons at the lake."

Emily and Josh are kids who used to be students in my Waldorf Enrichment School when we lived overseas. We are friends with their family and we visit their cabin every year in Michigan and enjoy their company and the loons on the lake. My daughter, who is overseas living with her dad right now, goes to school again with Emily again this year.

So the loons were purchased with me still shaking my head thinking why am I doing this? I don't have extra money to spend on every little gift I want to buy for everyone. They are dear to my heart but I don't usually send gifts overseas and why didn't I buy the birds I wanted? And Emily and Josh probably have so many loon things already! Why would they even want loons? I am so silly!

The loons were shipped off in a box a few days later to my daughter.

Three weeks later I heard the following story:

One morning Emily and Mosi were talking in school. The big news for Emily that day was that "her" loons at the lake had had babies! She was very excited and spoke as if she wished she were there and could see them.

Two hours later Mosi went home for lunch, found the package I had sent and brought the gift for Emily and Josh to her. When she opened up imagine the surprise! Wasn't she just wishing she could see "her" baby loons?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Expectations and Energies

One of the most useful things I learned as a mother was when a Waldorf teacher said to me, "a lot of our anger or frustration towards our children comes from false expectations of what they are capable of" Over the years this knowledge helped me to become a better mother. But it has also helped me realize how, in life itself, expectations can often be our "downfall".

We are often well-equipped to deal with expected traumas and trials but when we are hit by something "unexpected" we lash out and ask the world "why?" - Why am I being treated this way? Why did this person do this to me? Why is this person acting like this???

Last week I had to laugh at myself when I was caught in a situation where I exposed my weakness to this principle. A month ago I contacted someone with the best intentions, as the moderator of an e-mail list, suggesting that they modify their post. I was trying to prevent someone else from being hurt by their words and I felt my e-mail to them was very diplomatic.

However, their response was very negative. They questioned many things about me and my e-mail and it upset me very much that they responded to me in that way. I spoke to my friends about it and my reaction was filled with phrases like, "Why didn't she take my e-mail in a more positive way?" , "How could she attack me like that?" and "I am so hurt".

What made me laugh was that a few days ago I posted a video to the Internet that I was almost sure would contain something to offend some people. I did not intend to offend anyone but I did realize that the topic I had "tackled" was a bit of a touchy subject for some people so I was open to my e-mail box being filled the next day with angry mail. I would not have minded if fifty people wrote to me and said I was awful. As it was, nobody wrote any mean letters to me.

I sat staring at my e-mail box the next day shaking my head and wondering, "Why are people not over-reacting? Why don't I have any angry e-mails? Will they be coming tomorrow?"

Then I started laughing! This was the same desk and same position I had been in three weeks ago when I asked a different question, "Why is this person over-reacting? Why did she send an angry e-mail?"

Why is it that sometimes, then, we are open for feedback and sometimes we are not? Why are we happy to listen to some feedback and others we are upset by? Why do we feel attacked at times and other times we are happy to "be attacked"? Expectations. It is an awareness that can heal many areas of our life.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Blessing of Abby the Cat

I always chat with my kids a bit before I put them to bed for the night. I sing them a little song and tuck them in. A few nights ago Suni surprised me by sharing "I am glad you didn't let them kill Abby." I didn't know what he was talking about at first. We have had Abby for almost a year. Who was going to kill her?

Then he reminded me, "You know those people who took her to the vet?" And I remembered the story. I am glad too. She has been such a blessing to the family. What happened was a little more than a year ago I took my two kittens to the vet to have them "fixed". As I was waiting to pick them up I spotted this gorgeous persian-looking cat in a cage held by a very sad owner. I couldn't resist asking "What is wrong with her?"

It turns out she was not getting along very well with the dog and she was "peeing" everywhere and they thought it was a medical problem but they had tried everything and they didn't know what to do anymore. It was so horrible and the decision had been so hard but they had finally decided to have her put down. She was to die that day.

As is typical of me, I didn't think before talking, I simply went on the energy of my intuition. "Can I have her?" I said. The owner had a glint of happiness then it quickly faded. They went on to explain to me about all the trouble she would be and did I know what I was getting into?

I said that I did (although I didn't really) and I happily took her home.

Abby started out in my son's room as a way of easing her into the rest of the house but as time went on a few things became obvious in her personality:

1. She prefered to be without other animals.
2. She prefererd to be in small safe places instead of outside or the whole house.
3. She was very territorial and didn't like it when Suni left things on the floor or in her way.

Well, it took her about 7 months to train Suni to keep his door shut, keep the other pets out, and keep the floor clean, but now she is a happy cat and no longer pees anywhere and is the most charming sweet cat you could ever imagine. When you pet her she purrs like no other cat I have ever heard. She is so soft you just want to melt into her when she sits on your lap. Her temperament is sweet with children and adults and even strangers (but not other pets) and every night when Suni goes to bed she follows him up the ladder and snuggles in next to him.

I am as happy that we found her as she is! Abby has taught us that pets have emotional needs as much as humans do and as long as we honor her needs she is the perfect pet!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Being Lonely as an Illusion

I received this in my inbox a week ago from and have been wanting to share it ever since! It is just lovely and inspiring!

An Incomplete Understanding
Feeling Lonely

We all have days when we feel lonely, but the very idea of loneliness comes from the false notion that we are separate and isolated parts in a world filled with other separate, isolated parts. In truth, we can no more be separate from our world than a fish can be separate from the water in which it swims. When we really begin to look at the boundaries we see as so solid, they prove to be, in fact, quite porous. For example, it is not clear exactly where our skin ends and the air begins when we consider how our skin is affected by changes in the quality of the air. When it is dry, our skin becomes dry, and when it is humid, our skin becomes moist and supple.

By the same token, it is difficult sometimes to distinguish the boundary between one person and another, especially when our actions tie us together so inextricably. Every move we make has an effect that touches all the people around us. On an even more subtle level, when we share space with another person, we often pick up on their energy, feeling how they feel and attuning to them, whether we mean to or not. This is what we mean when we say a mood or a feeling is contagious. We cannot help but be part of the realities of the people around us because we take form from the same energetic force, and this force unifies all life. This force is the light that all the great mystics and gurus encourage us to move toward, and it is the light we will dissolve into when we move beyond our individual egos.

If loneliness is a temporary condition based on an incomplete understanding of what we are made of, we can think of its presence as a catalyst for exploring our ideas about reality. We can respond by testing the boundaries we believe separate us from the life within and all around us. If we test them, we will discover that they are not so solid after all and that we can never really be alone.