Day 220/366 days Towards Self-Mastery.
Can there be any more reassuring companion than our 4-legged family members?
So many thoughts and memories as I sit here and recall the mayhem and magic of the 4 legged and furry friends whose company stretch back to my childhood, into parenting years to now as I live comfortably with my kitty.
One rather difficult Christmas, a Christmas that followed a particularly difficult year financially for my parents, our Christmas tree was rather devoid of the usual pile of Christmas presents. My parents had warned us that this year the presents would be sacrificed to enable us to enjoy the usual Christmas feast that graced our kitchen table each year.
My little heart couldn't bear the thought of everyone not receiving a gift. With 7 siblings and mum and dad, I had to work out a way to make sure that didn't happen.
Ferreting away every cent of my pocket money and stealing away to the shops on my own without being noticed (a major feat in itself), I made sure that I had a gift for everyone. My heart swelled with pride and joy.
That was of course, until Christmas morning, as Dad began to give out the few gifts under the tree.
As he discovered the multiple gifts that weren't expected to be there, he carefully read out each label. Merry Christmas to ... from Josie, Merry Christmas to ... from Josie, Merry Christmas to .... from Josie. It didn't take long for the air to fill shame and my joyful gift giving turned on its end into a major Christmas disaster.
As I wandered outside because my little heart simply couldn't hold space for their grief, a beautiful tabby cat appeared out of no where and curled her tail at me as I reach down to pat her. No doubt an unwanted Christmas present, she must have been dumped close by.
It didn't take much begging and pulling the old "poor me" card to gain permission to keep that beautiful kitty. I called her Mitzi.
For the next few months, Mitzi became my constant companion. She would greet me and leap onto my shoulders as I arrived home from school, and enjoy the elevated walk home from the bus stop. Each morning she would be at the back door waiting for a snack and a welcoming pat. On weekends she would steal moments of play with me as she diligently kept watch out for her safety.
Her visit with me was brief. We were a dog family and our dogs relentlessly tormented her. She would know to come home after they were kennelled for the night, and that was often after my bedtime. It didn't take long for her to go look for a more suitable home, and break my heart even though my heart knew that she had to do what she had to do.
When I found myself parenting solo we welcomed a beautiful rescue Kitty, Finn, into our family. He was blotchy with big patches of white and grey, with a lively spirit and a big heart. My son and Finn fell in love with each at first sight. As I was busy looking for the the perfect designer cat amongst the many at the rescue shelter, the pair of them were totally engaged with each other in a game in the middle of the room. The choice was made. There was absolutely no question about that!
Finn gave us his best during the 11 years that he was with us, caring for my son as his own. Soaking up my tears of exhaustion and despair from time to time, a constant companion, he remains with us, interned at the foot of my beautiful magnolia tree. She holds him with care.
Tabasca came into our lives about 5 years after Finn. She was another rescue of sorts. We agreed to care for her when her owner went for a prolonged trip overseas, and we fell in love with her. So delighted were we that she was offered to us for keeps on their return. She is a beautiful calico cat with splotches of ginger and brown and white and a most precious personality.
She and Finn became close companions, sharing most everything together.
For years I cared for these beautiful kitties with food and bedding and very little attention. The result of the fear and anxiety that separates us from each other and developing deeply impossibly loving relationships.
Yesterday's post was about toning up my heart, a heart that has been absent as it coped with the many re-traumatising experiences that life threw at me. Pet's offer us a safe and unconditional path to begin to heal physically and emotionally. They don't ask questions, make no judgements, have no opinions. They reciprocate precisely what they receive and give even more. They are a deep well of affection and devoted love and attention. For this I am so very grateful for my lovely companion.
Fear of losing her has held me back from truly loving her, and yet logic tells me that I'm going to be upset anyway one day when she does inevitably leave, so why not make that upset worth it and commit 100% to loving her as deeply as she and I together are able to manage.
If you have furry companions to share your life with you are privileged that they have chosen to share their precious life with you. Give them everything you've got and let them teach you just how very simple it is to live joyfully.
And know that you heart will break when they leave you, and that's okay. I am learning that to know love and to know loss is to have lived.
366 days Towards Self-Mastery
When I considered my New Year's intentions for 2020 I had just one: To allow my heart to love what it loved...and let it lead me. (If not now, then when?)
I've spent months working on integrating my life. To live life more fully with my home life, my interests, my work, my responsibilities, all coming together, all connected. I want to give each the attention that they desire and need, and still have time and energy for the others. That means living and working from the heart.
As I was clearing out my bookshelf over the Christmas break I discovered Simple Abundance. I set it aside to explore it on New Year's Day as I lazed through another delicious day of nothingness. Sarah, the author, says this book is about living in grace. Living in grace I realised, is about Self-Mastery.
My thirst for understanding the human condition has driven me all my life, and hand-in-hand with self-mastery it has been a life-long goal. And seeing as I love to write, that living in grace is about self-mastery, and I love a bit of a challenge, then if I am truly going to let my heart lead, I really don't have any other choice. So scary as it feels, I'm starting out on a daily mission of leaning into the suggestions of this daybook and making a daily post to keep me accountable. If not now, then when?
I'm Josie. You can find out a little more about me here.
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy: by Sarah Ban Breathnach.
This book is written for the Australian and NZ market because it refers to seasonal changes. It's available on Amazon here if you'd like to follow along.