Better to Give than to Receive!

My husband Michael had surgery on his hand and Callie is doing her best to help him heal. It is important to her that she stay in his lap and keep him warm and dry and offer him comfort if he is in pain. What a cat!  She never ceases to amaze me at how far she has come. Even after Michael came home from the Surgical Center yesterday late afternoon, and I had gone to bed that evening, she has stayed by his side. I believe that the patience and kindnes that I have shown Callie, now that I have seen the light, has helped her to mature into a well adjusted and very affectionate adult cat. She was not always this way and was actually very neurotic when I first adopted her, and I wasn’t always as patient and kind to her. Our friendship has blossomed over the years.

I wrote in a much earlier post that Callie needed frozen kibble and that I had to get up several times in the night to stir her food. I also wrote about her choosing to sleep on the roof of her adorable house shaped bed instead of sleeping inside of it. So much has changed in the past 4 months that I thought to myself that I just have to share our latest stories. For one thing I have placed her bowl of food on the floor by my side of the bed, and when Callie informs me that she would like a midnight snack, all I have to do is reassure her that it is ok to eat, and then deposit her by her bowl. I no longer have to serve it frozen, which is her way of compromising, and I don’t even have to get out of bed anymore.  She loudly crunches on about 6 nuggets and when satisfied, hops back up on the bed to cuddle and sleep. I have no idea why she needs permission to eat because I don’t know anything about her formative days as a kitten, but she insists on asking me if it is ok to eat, and I have agreed to participate in this little dance of give and take. I use to be so much stricter with her, and was actually mean at times, but she has shown me the joy of, “in giving you shall receive,” approach to life and we are both much happier for it. She also abandoned her house shaped  bed about a month ago when the weather became cooler. She hasn’t figured out how to wrap herself up in a blanket without my assistance and has decided that sleeping right next to hot, little old me, is a fabulous solution. Five years ago I would not have allowed it. Now I wouldn’t feel right about kicking her out of bed, and would be overwhelmed with guilt if I did. She has taught me the art of sharing my bed and pillow with her and I feel better for being generous and kind hearted. She is so appreciative and affectionate that once you get over the feeling that you are being manipulated, the idea of sleeping with a cat isn’t so bad after all. Why was I so adamant about her sleeping in her own bed? What harm is there in letting her sleep with me?  In return for the favor, she has agreed to eat her midnight snacks without making me get up and walk across the room to stir her food. Dropping her off on the side of the bed in front of her bowl is far more convienient than having to get up. So, allowing Callie to sleep with me has turned into a win-win situation for both of us. I get to stay in bed and Callie has permission to sleep with me and have her meals provided with minimal effort on my part.  I am being somewhat tongue and cheek about all of this, but really, when you stop to think about it, isn’t it better to give than to receive?

And it isn’t all receive on Callie’s part and give on my part. She is taking her job of comforting Michael very seriously and in that regard, she is giving back to both of us. Michael is comforted by her warm little body next to his injured arm and I am provided with stories in which to write about. I personally feel that having Callie come into my life has been one of the best things that has every happened to me. And in these very troubled times, just having someone and anything to love and be loved, is a comfort and joy.  There is way to much suffering in the world. So on that note, may there be peace and joy on earth and love and kindness shown to all of you! Happy New Year 2017.

Behind Closed Doors

I risk loosing some of my followers but gaining others in disclosing that I have Bipolar Disorder. Should I start another private blog and keep the lightness and fun of Travels with Callie separate?  I have decided that none of us live lives that are free of insult and injury and I am no exception.There are so many of us living with challenges in so many different forms, that it is worth the risk if I can help just one individual. For me, living with Bipolar Disorder is like driving down the road in a car and I am enjoying the beautiful scenery as it flashes by. You are traveling along and admiring the view but the car speeds up and continues to do so until you realize that the accelerator pedal is jammed and you start to panic. How do you stop the car when the brakes have failed and you are going faster and faster?  Where is the runaway truck ramp when you so desperately need it? I have been accident prone since I was a very young girl. My fist major accident was when I was in second grade and I was on a bicycle and crossed a street darting out of an alley, and was hit by an oncoming car. I can still remember the ambulance ride to the hospital and being asked how to spell my name. I spelled it JAON. I in return asked if Doctor Kildare worked at the hospital where I was being taken. I am 61 years old and this was a TV show that I had watched with my older sisters and I had a crush on Richard Chamberlain. I also remember cringing because I knew I didn’t have panties on under my shorts. I suffered a head injury and my mother insisted I be discharged from the hospital because she would be able to take better care of me at home. I required stitches and it was important that I be turned frequently due to the head injury. My mother insisted that she understood the symptoms of a concussion and wanted me home with her. If I took a turn for the worse, she assured the doctor that she would bring me back to the hospital. I have another vivid memory of feeling very special when my sisters saw my head wrapped in bandages and I became the center of attention. I am a middle child with 6 sisters and a brother. Being the center of attention was a novelty to me. This was the start of many serious injuries I have sustained throughout my life, and I am determined now to focus my attention on self preservation and mindfulness.

It’s often said that a traumatic experience early in life marks a person forever, pulls her out of line, saying. “Stay there. Don’t move.”-  Jeffery Eugenides, Middlesex

I had a beautiful childhood that was full of fun and adventure, but somewhere along the way I learned to hurt myself when life sped up or became too difficult to process. I couldn’t find a way to slow down and protect myself and found it easier to be hurt, seriously hurt, so that I had no choice but be forced to recover or die. This has been a life time pattern of mine and I could use some serious therapy, and maybe some day I will seek it out… again. For now, I have Callie. She has been a tremendous help to me. I watch her navigate through life and all that it throws at her, and she does her best to take it day by day and moment by moment.

Strangers seem uncomfortable when you question them about their childhood. But really, what else are you going to talk about in line at the liquor store? Childhood trauma seems like the natural choice, since it’s the reason why most of us are in line there to begin with. -Jenny Lawson

Last week in Borrego Springs, we had a serious storm blow through and we got a lot of wind and rain. Callie kept wanting to go outside so that she could climb her beloved olive trees and I kept telling her no.  Finally, after much pestering, Michael decided he would take her outside for a bit and promised to keep a close eye on her. I watched from inside as the trees danced in circles and the rain came down in big but sporadic drops. They looked so cute in the backyard together with Michael’s hair blowing all over and Callie prancing around in glee. But all of a sudden a huge blast of wind much like a mini tornado slammed into both of them and almost pulled Callie up into the air. When she was able to get her feet down on the ground and found some traction, she made a beeline for me. If I hadn’t opened the sliding door at the last second, she would have hit the glass and knocked herself senseless. It was so funny to see her loose all sense of courage and make a dash for the house as if her life depended on it!  We laughed so hard about the expression on her face and that she didn’t think MIchael was a good enough protector. She had made eye contact with me when the blast of wind had hit her and she raced toward me in a flash.  Now she is no longer quite as enthusiastic about climbing the olive trees when there is a storm brewing. Callie learned a valuable lesson and I trust that she will be a little more careful next time. 

Life is a journey and sharing it with Michael and Callie in my middle years has been a learning curve. Animals are sentient beings and the responsibility of taking care of them can either overwhelm you or add so much to your life. Callie is this tiny little package of emotion and energy and she really does seem to love me. I have always connected with animals and probably enjoy their company more than humans. She is therapeutic and great company for me and I hope to enjoy many more adventures with her. 

Childhood is the barrel they give you / to go over the falls in.  -Linda McCarriston

I am going to enjoy my life and take that barrel over the falls again with Callie and Michael, preferably a road trip, but this time I am going to slow down and write about my adventures and make sure to reflect on them to try to stay mindful, in the moment and safe!

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