Monday, June 13, 2005

Losing a Beloved Pet

Within the past 24 hours, I've heard of a friend whose beloved pet bird died, and one whose beloved cat died. Both of them are grieving deeply. With each story, I look again at my darling buddy, my 17 year old cat, Puff. Seventeen cat years equals about 100 human years.

When my former cat Frankie died, our aged beagle was devastated. I had to get another cat soon to keep the dog from dying of a broken heart. I went two weeks later to the Humane Society to rescue a needy kitten. There were dozens to choose from that day. Rows of cages contained cute, pretty kittens all sleeping or sitting and watching for a new family.

The last cage on the top row housed a little orange-and-white medium-hair kitten who was wide awake. When she saw me, she started jumping and doing somersaults, trying to entice me to play. A little white paw reached out to flag me down. I approached, and she stopped jumping and started purring loudly, rubbing against the bars. I turned to look at the rest of the kittens. "Mew! Mew!" Her petite little meows objected to my leaving. When I turned back, she purred again, and batted at me. I stayed to play, watching her somersaulting antics. If I looked away toward the other dozing kittens, she became outraged. "MEW! MEW!!!" If I looked back at her: “PURRR!!!” It turns out that I am an obedient slave to adorable balls of fluff.

Puff and the dog bonded instantly. Our new little kitten gave a tongue bath to that smelly, fat, old ecstatic dog that night and every night for the rest of the dog’s life.

Puff has been a bundle of love all along. I offer as proof the orange spot on her back that is in the shape of a perfect heart. Whenever we have people over, she takes turns sitting in each person’s lap, purring. If somebody is sick, she sits on their lap, purring until they get better. The few times I’ve had a devastating case of the flu, she stays with me on the couch for the week or two until I’m well. One time Gary and I had a fight and I felt terrible. She lay on my chest all night, one paw on each side of my face, purring into my heart. That’s the only time she’s slept on me at night.

Her taste in people and hobbies is impeccable. After nursing me through my divorce with plenty of walks together and lots of purring, she accompanied me to Colorado. Eventually I met Gary Immediately she fell in love with him and became Gary’s cat. I call her his other wife. When we married, I got a piano, and Puff took up playing. In the middle of the night, she’d jump up on the keyboard and start walking around. She still does that when things become too boring for her. If I start playing, she will also hop up and share in the music. She loves to sniff flowers too.

These days she is too arthritic to accompany us on walks. Instead, on nice summer evenings Gary and I pack up the dog and cat and drive to the ice cream shop. Puff and Gypsy share a little dish of vanilla ice cream. We all sit in the back of the car with the hatch up, enjoying our peaceful treat time together.

It’s heartbreaking to see her looking so skeletal and ragged. She’s deaf now, always in pain, and gets confused a lot. But she's still purring! It can be harder in some ways to lose a beloved pet, an inter-species friendship, than to lose a person. Animals see the best in you, and love unconditionally. People relationships take work. Pet relationships are a sharing of love and contentment. Losing an animal is losing a being of purity and innocence, one who gave only joy in their life. Something hurts terribly when we lose a person, but something different hurts terribly when we lose an animal friend. I am trying to prepare myself, but I don’t look forward to losing Puff.
* * * * * *

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Last year at this time, we sold our gallery and started churning up the complacency in our lives. The goal was to find a new way to live, a simpler, more sustainable, less toxic, more harmonious way to live. We wanted a way to live as our truest selves, rather than just working as hard as possible to pay our mortgage. Gary quit his job, determined to find a way to do what he loved for a living. I established a professional practice of holistic healing, which was my part-time work already.

During those heady days of determination to beat the system, we met neighbors we'd never seen before. Other like-minded people, individuals and couples, jumped off the merry-go-round at the same time we did. The synchronicity of humans can be startling. What influence suddenly entered the collective consciousness and propelled some of us off the carousel and over the cliff?

We bonded. Groups of us met for breakfast or for lunch or in our backyards, to discuss how to make this work. All summer and fall we turned ourselves into a community within the community. Various ones of us worked for others of us. A friend jumped ship from her bookkeeping job, and we persuaded her to start her own bookkeeping firm. She did my books and I did healing sessions to help her cope with the death of her sister. Barter is wonderful. Then she started gardening part time for my friend who was starting up an organic gardening business. Gary also gardened with that group, to bring in some income while he found a business that suited him. Another neighbor hired the new gardening group, and the neighborhood community grew. Carpenters, gardeners, electricians worked on one anothers' houses all summer.

Later, Gary helped another neighbor start a business involving natural nontoxic clay paints for interior walls. (shameless plug: They created a website and held classes and did samples of their work, but found that there wasn't enough income for two. Meanwhile, they helped Gary remodel our bathrooms, while he made their website. Barter is wonderful. I did healing work for them as needed, in exchange for referrals of new clients. That worked well for all of us.

I held a Company Party for the Self Employed that Christmas. When you work for yourself, there is no company party to get dressed up for at the holidays. So we had our own Company Party. It was a spectacular success! Everyone within this new community got to meet everyone else, if they hadn't already. Business cards were exchanged and new projects were formed.

As winter wore on, the hardship of being self-employed... or "self un-employed" as we fondly called it, became heavier. Savings were running dry for all of us, and the euphoria had worn off. We were becoming worried about medical care and losing our houses. The joyful gatherings of invention turned into serious discussions of how to get something moving quickly.

Just as Gary and I were contemplating emergency measures to ensure our survival, he was offered a better job back at his previous workplace. They missed him there. Gary jumped on the offer, and our sinking ship was reprieved. He determined that he would take a new attitude into the work this time, bringing more of his heart and soul with him, instead of just a work persona.

Right about that same time, I had a remarkable meeting with my monthly women's group. One woman friend, who had done the same things with her life at the same times, had just returned to her former company. She was delighted to return, feeling that she had a brand new view of the job and a real change of heart. Her husband, who had also left his job last May - all of us only met AFTER quitting our jobs simultaneously - had just taken a regular job as well. Another woman in our group had a husband who quit his job last spring too. He had recently decided to stay in his field and return to work, rather than trying to forge a new path. Yet another woman in our group had just taken a job after a year of retreat and contemplation of her life. None of us knew of these developments until our monthly gathering.

And so on, and so on. As abruptly as we all left our usual worlds, we all returned to our former places with new mindsets and new joy.

What causes these mysterious migrations of humans? We have moved through this year with the beautiful synchrony of dolphins leaping in unison. One day, dozens of strangers within a city made a similar move and met the others on this unusual path. We bonded, worked together, invented and planned together. Then one day we scattered back to where we came from.

I think there is a larger social force at work here, some kind of infusion of invisible energy and guidance, to help kickstart society into a new mode. Some of our group took the exciting new energy back to their weary former co-workers. It has had an effect on those folks. Some of our group succeeded in launching a new business over this past year. Our bookkeeping friend is busier than before, loving her freedom. She and another friend have even started a soap-and-lotion-making business for fun. My holistic health practice is booming, and I am writing a book and offering classes. The clay wall paint business is growing slowly but steadily. Many among our group began teaching their favorite topics last year, and have continued doing that. Teaching adds the meaning to their lives that had eluded them previously.

What causes flocks of birds to suddenly turn in midflight? What causes schools of fish to flit as one into a new direction? I think it's the same force that is affecting people like us. We are willing to be moved by the forces of grace and harmony, so therefore we are. We have loosened ourselves out from our tight fit into society. That makes us freer to be be blown by the winds of grace to a spot where we belong. Freedom is a contagion. The more of us who infect the collective human consciousness with thoughts of freedom, the more it spreads. That feels good to me.

(note: if you're new to this blog, read the previously posted stories for the step-by-step walk through this journey. I'm still building this blog, so it's not at all complete yet. Check back in a week or two, and it will be better.)
* * * * * *

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I have such a way with babies! Little Ethan is so cute when he cries. Posted by Hello

A peony! Posted by Hello