Mac, Hmandu, And Ridley Too

After the hissing subsided and Hmandu figured out that he was not being replaced, he decided that, “the kid is ok”. Just as we had hoped, Mac and Hmandu are best buds.

We decided to get a Kitten for our Kitten when our two older Cats insisted that something had to be done. Also known as ‘the ‘ladies who nap’, seventeen year old Rhiannon and fifteen year old Astarte are no longer amused by getting chased, swatted at or being put in a random headlock by an adolescent male Cat with a testosterone problem. There was much growling, hissing and ear flattening, not to mention that the ladies’ stress level was at the point that I was going to ask the vet for Xanax…for them and for me.

Mac’s arrival was greatly anticipated and did not fail to live up to our expectations of producing a high level of fun. Exploring the house, playing with a large assortment of toys and the joy of discovering the never empty food dishes had him bouncing around like a furry super ball. Hmandu watched all of this with a mixture displeasure and caution that, when thrown to the wind, would result in a Gorilla Glue kind of bond.

Mac had no reservations what so ever. He was used to being accepted solely on his masterful skill of being adorable. Encountering not only one, but three ‘tough sells’ was a totally new experience for him. The ladies made attempts at filling a tandem mothering role of keeping him in line and spit taming any tufts of unruly fur as most mothers do. Hmandu soon dispensed with his posturing and allowed his inner frat boy free reign. That was when the real fun began and I had to make peace with having a few cherished possessions smashed beyond repair. Boys will, indeed, be boys. Everything was just as we had anticipated and expected. What we didn’t plan on was Ridley.

I had actually wanted a polydactyl. We would have had one when we began the adoption process for Mac if we had not lost Millie to pneumonia. Lauren, who runs Underdog Rescue, and I tearfully dealt with her loss. It was unexpected, painful and fast. One day we were making plans to pick her up and the next, things were delayed due to Millie having pneumonia and then the phone call to say that the measures that were taken to save her had failed. However, when Lauren sent me a picture of a male poly, who was considerably older than the ‘Kitten’ we were looking for, we decided to take Ridley too. After all, how could I say, “he’s too old and not the right color.” We wanted a very young black Kitten, but orange and white six year old Ridley needed a home.

He had to get neutered and had a few dental issues and excessive ear wax, but after seeing the rescue’s vet for all of those things, he was ready to come home. I, again, had an image of everyone settling in without mishap. Introducing an adult male Cat into a household that already had one, was not going to be without issues I know, but I wanted so desperately for Ridley to be happy. He had been through a lot between coming from a distant humane society and a foster home and I was eager to assure him that he had found his ‘forever home’.

For the first two days Ridley hid under the bed in the guest room and any amount of coaxing him out resulted in his being bullied by Hmandu. This really upset me. I can’t handle seeing any animal cower in fear and it broke my heart. By the third day, he came out and sprawled on the sofa demanding, “what’s for dinner?”.  Hmandu found himself on the receiving end of a number of well placed swats and, even though they still have that macho dominance thing from time to time, there is peace in the valley.

In the midst of the chaos and frenetic energy that bounces off the walls most days, we celebrate what has become life in this house of joy. My husband and I agree that a house is only a home to us when it is shared with multiple felines. When we had lost four of the six we had, some for twenty something years, there was a void. The pain of grieving runs deep and sometimes, you just don’t feel that you can go through it again so you think, ‘no more’. Having animal companions, except when you adopt those who will outlive you, comes with a knowing that at some point they will leave you. However, the attempt to protect your heart from pain by denying that which brings you joy is no way to live.

So, we are owned by five Cats and for the most part, they keep us in line, spit tame any stubborn tufts of ‘fur’ on us and each other, and allow us to spoil them rotten. We laugh and smile a lot and pretty much fashion our lives around their needs. Rhiannon was recently diagnosed with diabetes so she needs injections twice a day, but considering that a month ago she was badly dehydrated and near death due to a bladder infection, it’s what we have to do to keep her healthy and alive. We nursed her back with IV fluids and antibiotics and celebrated every bit of food or water she’d take in. Now, at seventeen years old, she looks great and is thriving.

When you open your home to animals it requires that you also open your heart. Then the love flows in and out. Somehow, we always find room for one more.

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Thank Goodness, It’s Pride Day

What is it that we never hear often enough, but seldom do? “I’m so proud of you!!!”.  Take the time to say it to yourself. “I’m proud of myself for….” If you get the chance, say it out loud, but if that’s uncomfortable, saying it mentally will be just as wonderful as long as you mean it. You can’t over do it, especially if it’s long over due.

Stop, Love, and Listen

Recently, I had the occasion to be upset. I mean really upset. Under the same circumstances, if someone else had a similar experience and shared it with me, it would be my natural inclination to encourage them to move past it. You see, I am a mentor and motivator so the aspect of allowing the pain to linger is not something I ordinarily would foster.

However, when a friend called me after the event that both shocked and hurt me, I was in no position to follow what would usually be my own advice. What I did need was to be allowed to grieve and heal in my own time. To some, the situation could have been trivial, since it involved the destruction of a beloved object as opposed to the loss of a life, but it was an heirloom that cannot be replaced. I am searching for something similar, now that I have moved past the pain of the reality that the original is gone. It represented memories of the celebrations that had my mother getting it out of the china hutch and using it because she always felt that precious things were meant to be used and to be enjoyed, even if only for special occasions.

Often, when a person is in emotional pain, we are at a loss as to how we can help. It’s an uncomfortable situation because even though we can try to empathize, we cannot feel the depth of the emotions involved. The desire to distance ourselves from those emotions can have us reacting in a way that does more to maintain our own comfort level than to support the person who is hurting. We say the expected words and make the acceptable gestures, but after that, we just want to separate ourselves from the awkward attempt to fix the irreparably broken.

Don’t even think about telling someone that you feel that they are overreacting. Rating some one else’s level of pain and passing judgment as to how you think they should be dealing with it makes you totally unworthy of the honor of having someone trust you enough to share it with you.

How does a person help someone transition from the place of pain to the land of hope and not risk appearing to diminish what they’re feeling? To be ready to once again pursue their dreams, reset goals, and move past the desperation and temptation to quit. Having been through this on many occasions, for many different reasons, I have come to see that allowing a person to grieve is a necessary part of the healing process. This can’t be hurried, buried, or injected with guilt. Neither can it be eliminated by some over zealous motivator attempting to verbally drag someone up by their bootstraps, shove them back in the saddle and slap the horse on the ass, forcing them to rejoin the race.

Many times, in my effort to be a good ‘coach, I dust off the wounded player, encourage them to get back in the game and shake my pompons from the sidelines. But, I have to keep in mind that sometimes they just want to sit on the bench a while longer and cry. Empathy involves the ability to just shut up and listen to someone, provide a shoulder to cry on, and a hand up when they’re ready to stand. The best way to know what they need is to pay attention to what you needed when you needed it and didn’t get it.

Weekend Warriors

Many of us have weekends off and often don’t think of those who don’t. Without people who work in service professions who are willing to work weekends such as clerks, restaurant staff, medical personnel , police, fire fighters, security guards and those who work in radio, TV and hospitality services are just an example of the many people who give up leisure time when a lot of us get to enjoy it. Without them we would not be able to take advantage of the many front line and behind the scenes services they provide that enable us to shop, eat, travel and be entertained.

I would like to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ for your loyalty and sacrifice because, having been one of you, I know that you also work on many holidays as well and can’t be with your families. I’m grateful for your ‘service with a smile’, your patience with less than kind people and your willingness to take your days off during the week when most of the events and parties you would like to attend are not scheduled.

As you travel, shop and dine out on weekends, please be courteous and mindful of those who assist you. Take comfort in the fact that in case of an emergency there will be people who can help and come to your aid. Take the time to notice how many people work to serve and take pride in their jobs as much as you do yours. Treat them with the respect and dignity they’re entitled to because there is nothing ‘lowly’ or ‘menial’ about providing excellent service…it is a highly developed skill and an art, especially when having to deal with those who are rude and condescending and they do so with grace.

How can you show your appreciation?

Loyal Subjects

In my family, if you didn’t buy a Ford, you didn’t buy a car. No one would have even considered getting anything else. The last one I had was a mid 80’s Escort,  the name, which I discovered, was code for ‘escort the tow truck’. It spent more time on the side of the road than driving on it. Did I mention it was the last one I had?

Being loyal to a brand was quite common when I was growing up. Everything from appliances to laundry detergent. There were plenty of commercials for other brands, but once something was considered tried and true, you stuck with it. This often spanned generations and was seemingly handed down like grandma’s china. If someone was wooed into purchasing anything different that didn’t measure up, there would be wordless, sidelong glances from the ‘loyals’ that conveyed an “I told you so” kind of satisfied smugness.

Now, it seems that trying something new is expected. Friends and family advise when asked, but checking the internet for reviews is the standard prerequisite for making a purchase whether it be a new car or Cat food. There is no lack of information which takes the guess work out of it…and maybe a little of  the adventure.

Then, there is the matter of having what you bought yesterday being obsolete by today. Disposal of used items gets to be an issue as fees are charged to have them hauled away and some are classified as biohazards. Yet, getting new things often is pretty common place and the life expectancy of most of them is short. This is commerce. This keeps people working in all areas that involve a product. Everything  from being a part of the development, the manufacturing process and the sales.

Friendship is one area, that although gets tested at times, often remains steadfast. This is encouraging because sometimes friendships are hard won. Once tested and proven trust worthy, a real friend can be counted on as being true and loyal. Friendships that are the result of facebook pages and blog posts are those that may never become something beyond this thing called cyber space and yet, are as familiar as those in which we interact in person.

The time and effort put into a post is one thing, but allowing ‘strangers’, perfect and imperfect, into that realm that allows one to display the creation of heart and soul is something to treasure. Connections made with those who live in far reaching places is something that could only be done if you found a ‘pen pal’ when I was growing up.  How exciting it was to get letters with their exotic postage stamps and hold the hand written pages that had been touched by someone living in places that I’d studied in geography books.

The excitement is still there every time I see who has taken the time to read posts such as this one. It’s wonderful to share thoughts and words, in the hope that it will be rewarding in some way to the reader.  I want to thank you for your loyalty and friendship, that is something I truly cherish.

There Is A Door Before You

Will you open it? Today when you shop, dine, or travel, open a door and hold it for someone else. What seems like a small thing and a gesture of simple, common kindness and consideration can be one that paves the way for more. The person who benefitted from your courtesy is more likely to follow your lead. Can you see how this has the potential to spread? Start an epidemic of viral kindness today. It begins by opening a door.