Go On…Have A Bad Day

Source: shinyfortheshow

Source: shinyfortheshow

I’m feeling down today. I don’t want to do anything. I don’t have any energy or motivation. I don’t want to sit in front of my computer. And I’m having a hard time being okay with that.

I’ve been reading other people’s Facebook posts and emails about planning and goal setting and making big changes in 2013 and I’m comparing myself. The ‘shoulds’ are out in full force:

  • I should work on my coaching business
  • I should get to my To Do’s
  • I should be encouraging others
  • I should feel fine
  • I should make plans before the week gets away from me
  • I should get dressed (at the very least)

Yesterday I gave myself a day to do nothing. I was tired from all the holiday hubbub and needed to rest. My system is so run down, I have to be extra careful how I expend my energy. So I laid on the couch all day watching TV. It was lovely! And I thought if I gave myself permission to do that, I would be raring to go today.

But I’m not.

Last night as it got dark out, I plugged in the lights on the Christmas tree. I love how they twinkle and sparkle. It feels so magical. But for whatever reason, the lights didn’t work. I’m not sure what happened since they had worked every day up to this point. And it sort of feels like a metaphor for how I’m feeling. For some reason, my internal lights won’t turn on right now either.

This morning as I sat drinking my coffee and looking out the window, I felt a deep sadness. Tears welled up in my eyes and I let them fall. I didn’t realize until that moment I needed to cry. And even as I write this the tears start to come again.

As I think about what message I want to share with you today, it’s the message I most need to hear myself. That it’s okay to feel bad…even when things are going well. You can have a good life and still miss the pieces and parts that didn’t work out the way you’d hoped. You can have a wonderful holiday with friends and family and still miss the one who left a hole in your heart.

I know the more I resist this, the more of a hold it will have on me. And judging myself is just another way of resisting. So I’m letting myself have a ‘bad’ day, knowing it won’t last forever. I’m learning to accept whatever this moment brings me.

For me and for you…sometimes there’s a reason we feel down and sometimes there isn’t one. You don’t need to figure it out. You just need to feel what you feel.

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

Breaking the Hurry Habit

white-rabbitDo you find yourself rushing through your life? Hurrying through dinner so you can get the dishes done so you can fold the laundry so you can go to bed? Always in a rush to get from one thing to the next? You are not alone.

I recently got laid off from my job. If you’re thinking, “Didn’t you give notice at that job a long time ago?”, you’re right. I gave notice in June and my last day was supposed to be August 31st. But I hadn’t found a new position and my company still needed the help so I stayed on.  And on. And on.

My real last day was November 30th.  So I haven’t worked for over a week and I’ve noticed something interesting.

I’m still rushing.

I thought I would be able to relax now that I don’t have the pressure and the timelines and the deadlines to meet. How relaxing it would be for the first time in two years not to have to be on a conference call at 6am ready to talk about my goals for the day. How nice not to have to report in at the end of the day on where I was with each project. I thought the job was the problem.

I was wrong.

It seems I have this habit of rushing. I first noticed it in the shower the other day when I was vigorously washing my hair. As if I didn’t have the time to enjoy a leisurely shower. I had nowhere to be. I could’ve slowed down and taken my time.

Even right now I’m tightening my stomach and holding my breath.

For the longest time I’ve wanted to do a yoga video I have that’s supposed to help with back pain. I’ve been in alot of pain as a result of forcing myself to sit at my desk for long periods of time without a break. The video takes a whopping 20 minutes. But I couldn’t get myself to do it until yesterday because in my mind ‘I don’t have enough time.’ Seriously? I don’t have 20 minutes a day to take care of myself?

This is actually not new for me. Rushing seems to be my MO. I remember being shown this very clearly when I got together with Cyrus, my former boyfriend. His whole being is definitely in stark contrast to my own. He tends to move more slowly, more deliberately. He has a very calming presence, which is one of the things that attracted me to him in the first place. But calm can be annoying when you move through life as if everything is an emergency…or a race.

I remember the year Cyrus came to visit for Thanksgiving. He wanted to go to the store to pick up a few things. Having worked at a grocery store during the holidays in my past life, I was not thrilled with this idea. So when we got there, I asked him, hurriedly of course, what he needed so I could point him in the right direction and we could get in and out as quickly as possible. The funny thing was we weren’t on a time crunch. I was just in my normal mode of rushing. He wouldn’t tell me what he needed and proceeded to wander somewhat aimlessly up and down the aisles. Looking at this, picking up that. It was infuriating at the time. But it forced me to slow down. To wander. To see there is another way of moving through life.

When I look at my family I can see I have come by this naturally. My dad in particular seems to always be in a hurry. I remember my mom describing his driving. He speeds until he catches up with other cars. Then passes those cars so he can speed to catch up with the next group so he can pass them…and so on. He doesn’t drive to enjoy the drive. He drives to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible.

And I learned that.

As frustrating as this has been, awareness is the upside. I can shift this habit. I can pay attention. I have a choice. I can take a deep breath whenever I feel myself tightening. I can slow down when I realize I’m in a hurry. I can relax my shoulders when I notice them making their way to my ears. And my guess is, this will exponentially increase my enjoyment of my life (or at least my ability to breathe).

I love this quote by Thich Nhat Hanh…

“When we walk like [we are] rushing, we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth.
We have to walk in a way that we only print Peace and Serenity on the earth…
Be aware of the contact between your feet and the Earth. 
Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
 

Kissing the earth with your feet…I like that. It feels like a completely different energy, doesn’t it? One of softness and love. I know it will take some practice to shift this old habit, but I know it can be done. I plan to take it slowly…one soft step at a time.

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

Goofing Off Is A Moral Imperative

Yes, you read that right. I am encouraging you to goof off. To not get things done. To let go of your schedule, your have to’s, your shoulds. I’m not only encouraging you…I dare you!

If that thought makes you all queasy, sweaty and light-headed, hear me out.

Because that’s how I used to operate, so I know the compulsion. The not feeling good enough if you don’t do enough. The drive to get it all done so you can finally relax and enjoy your life.

It is exhausting. And it’s a lie. You will never get everything done. Ever.

The more I focus on letting myself off the hook, the better I get at doing what feels good to me. It still doesn’t come easily. Even though I enjoyed my lazy weekend, I notice I’m feeling that ‘morning after’ regret. As I sit here contemplating the week ahead, my mind chatter shifts into overdrive.

“You didn’t get anything done. What a waste of time. You had all this time off work and you didn’t cross one thing off your To Do list. What were you thinking?”

Good lord! Enough already!

So today, instead of focusing on everything I ‘should’ have done, I made a list of everything I did that I enjoyed:

  • Read an entire book cover to cover
  • Watched sappy, heartwarming Christmas movies on Lifetime and Hallmark channels
  • Slept in
  • Sat on my couch, wrapped in a blanket, enjoying my morning coffee
  • Baked a chocolate cake…just for me
  • Had two great coaching calls
  • Daydreamed
  • Looked at all the cool stuff you guys have posted on Facebook recently
  • Watched a video of Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk at O Magazine’s 10th anniversary
  • Listened to some of John Mayer’s new songs
  • Watched an inspiring video about a roadtrip taken by two brothers after their mom passed away
  • Napped
  • Read several blogs

No, I didn’t get my Christmas decorations put up, or my weekly grocery shopping done. I didn’t do the laundry, pay the bills, or clean the house. And that’s okay. I’ve discovered that everything gets done that needs to get done.

I’m learning to strike a balance between planning for the future and living for today. Tomorrow I can get back to my To Do list if I choose. But for now I’m headed back to my couch with the remote in hand and a big piece of chocolate cake. I’m sure there are some sappy Christmas movies that need my immediate attention.

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

What Does Your Fear Masquerade As?

Fear is a tricky little bugger. Sometimes it shows itself outright. As in the screams of terror that would come from being chased by a wild animal or a knife-wielding psycho. If your life were actually in real, physical danger it’s likely fear would show it’s true colors.

But more often fear disguises itself in ways you may not even recognize.

Lately I’ve noticed my fear wearing the disguise of frustration…or impatience. I was sitting at the dinner table with my 15-year-old son, Kyle. He was telling me something…I don’t even recall what it was. All I remember was feeling annoyed and like I just wanted him to go away.

What was really going on?  I had an unexpected change in my income and that produced some serious money fear. I was so afraid in that moment I couldn’t even hear what he was saying. But to him, I’m sure it appeared as if I just didn’t care.

In the past, my fear wore anger’s clothes. I didn’t realize that at the time, but I can remember two specific incidents where my older son, Mitch, brought it to my attention. Gotta love your kids for not letting you get away with anything!

Here’s what happened. Mitch and I were at The Art Institute of Seattle where he was enrolling in a program for audio production. The young woman in the admissions office was very nice and helpful. When we left Mitch asked me, “Why were you so mean to that girl?” I was confused. I didn’t remember being mean. He said, “She was just trying to help us and you were being kinda bitchy. “

And then it hit me.

Towards the end of our appointment, I had to complete paperwork to apply for financial aid. I remember feeling terrified. All I could think was, “How am I ever going to pay this back?” Little did I know by not trying to show that fear, I was actually coming across as a complete bitch.

The other incident was when Mitch wrecked his car. I had no idea there had been an accident. He left the house with his friend Alan and rear-ended someone at the stoplight only a few minutes away. He didn’t call to tell me what had happened. He decided to handle it himself.

The next thing I knew, a tow-truck pulled up in front of my house with my son’s smashed car on the back. Even though Mitch was in the cab of the tow-truck, I couldn’t see him. Immediately fear set in.

Thankfully Mitch was okay. But later he told me when the tow-truck driver first saw me she said, “Your mom looks really mad!”

So that’s how I’ve covered my fear. Instead of just being honest about it, I’ve worn the masks of frustration or anger, impatience or bitchiness. But what if I could be more open about fear? What if, instead of automatically putting on one of those masks, I could admit, “I’m feeling really afraid right now.” How authentic and real would that be?

It’s vulnerable and feels like a risk. But the alternative hasn’t really worked out all that well so far. So I’m getting honest about fear. Care to join me? You know what they say…the truth will set you free!

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

Worrying Won’t Fix the Furnace

I come from a long line of worriers. Generation after generation fretting about what might happen. Afraid of how terrible it will be when that inevitable ‘bad’ thing shows up

I call it future tripping.

Those of you who know me well know I have played the victim once or twice (or alot) in my life. I often thought “bad things happened TO me. It was just my luck. There was nothing I could do.” But that wasn’t the truth at all.

The truth is, consciously or unconsciously, I was choosing those things.

Here’s an example. A couple weeks ago my Monday got off to a rocky start. I report to my home office for work at 6am. I am not a morning person. My boss is usually raring to go on Monday. She likes to “hit the ground running.” I have never in my life hit the ground running. My mother can attest to that. I felt like I’d been shot out of a cannon. So after three and a half hours straight on various phone calls for work, I needed a break.

I left the room and noticed it felt kind of cold in the hallway. I use a space heater during the day in my office so it was pretty toasty in there. I went downstairs and checked the thermostat. 56 degrees. In my house. That’s a little chilly. The thermostat is set to 60 so I knew the furnace had stopped working.

Before I even had time to think, automatic pilot kicked in. Panic! Oh my god! What am I going to do? Who will I get to fix this? How will I pay for it? It was a complete and utter ‘Chicken Little, the sky is falling’ moment. For those of you who tend to panic and fear the worst, you know what I mean. But as that familiar feeling started to set in, I heard another voice in my head. (Yes, I hear voices. Don’t judge me.) The voice said, “What if you just didn’t worry about this?”

That stopped me dead in my tracks. Because up to that point, worrying did not feel like a choice. But all of a sudden, in that moment, it was. Worry or don’t worry. Either way the furnace isn’t working.

So I just decided to stop worrying.

I was surprised by how relaxed I felt. When you don’t worry, you’re not all stressed out about something you cannot control. I checked the fuse box, took the cover off the front of the furnace and peered around. Nothing obvious jumped out at me so I put the cover back on and walked away. I had some errands to run so I just left the furnace behind.

I enjoyed being away from my office. I took my time and didn’t allow myself to rush. I stopped at the grocery store in the middle of the day. I didn’t worry.

When I got back home and walked in my house, I was surprised by how warm it felt. I checked the thermostat. 60 degrees. The furnace was working again. Without any help from me.

I wish I could say that was the end of my worrying. That I’d learned my lesson. That my fear was gone forever! But I think we all know it doesn’t work that way. My automatic reaction is still fear most of the time. It will take some time to retrain my brain. But now I catch myself. I stop the panic train before it goes tearing out of the station. I breath.

And then I can choose…worry or not. It’s really up to me.

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

Why Did I Publish That?

When I published my last post, “The Soft Spot Between A Rock and A Hard Place,” I felt good. Relieved even. Instead of faking it and pretending ‘I’m fine,’ I shared how hard things have been lately. I was proud of myself for being that open, that vulnerable, that raw. It wasn’t easy to admit those things, but I thought they needed to be said.

And then it happened. I didn’t get any feedback. No comments, or thoughts, or ‘I can’t believe you just said that’. A few ‘Likes’, but other than that, no feedback at all, really. (For the purpose of clarity, the comment on my previous post came after I’d already written, but not published, the post you’re reading now.)

Suddenly the voices in my head were on a mission and self-doubt was their goal. “You shouldn’t have admitted those things. You should be more positive. No one cares about your problems. Quit whining. You’re just feeling sorry for yourself.” And on and on…until I wondered why I started this blog in the first place.

Here’s how it normally goes down. I think, I write, I pour my heart out on the page, I post…and then that thought creeps in. “What will people think of me?” I want to be honest and open. That is the purpose of this blog, after all. But there’s honest…and then there’s ‘haven’t showered in three days honest.’ And I’m guessing that second one is a little too messy for some people. Who admits that sort of thing, anyway?

I do.

Because sometimes life is hard. I’m not going to deny that. And sometimes I cry and fall apart and feel sorry for myself. And then I pick myself up and keep going. Because giving up is not an option. But pretending I’m fine when I’m not is not okay either. It’s a balance. There are highs and there are lows. You can’t have one without the other. That’s just the natural rhythm of things.

Here’s what I believe. Life is not meant to be happy, up, positive all the time. Especially if those feelings aren’t real. Life is meant to be peaceful. And that peace comes in accepting that sometimes things are hard and they suck and we struggle. Because that’s what helps us grow. And learning to be with the difficult times is what makes those joy-filled moments oh so much sweeter!

As Elizabeth Lesser wrote in her book, Broken Open, “How odd that if we reject what is painful, we find only more pain, but if we embrace what is within us–if we peer fearlessly into the shadows–we stumble upon the light.”

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

The Soft Spot Between A Rock and A Hard Place

Lately I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread. I’m tired. So tired. My house is a mess, we’re running out of clean dishes and counter space to stack the dirty ones, and I haven’t had a shower since Thursday. Thursday!

Often it feels like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.  I’m single so I have to work to support my son and myself. That’s a given. I left my last job after 11 years because it was so stressful. I didn’t enjoy working there. When I got my current job almost two years ago, I thought I’d found the answer. Something I would enjoy doing while I figured out my passion. Three months in I was so exhausted by the end of each day, all I could do was crash on my couch. I hoped it would get better. It didn’t.

The intensity, the pressure, and the long hours finally got the better of me. As many of you know, in May I was diagnosed was diagnosed with Adrenal Exhaustion. The only way to heal myself is to eat better, get more sleep, and lower my stress level. I was on board. Good health is important. And I was so tired of feely lousy.

So in June I announced I’d be leaving my soul-sucking job by the end of the summer. I felt optimistic, as always, that I’d find something better. But it’s October. And I’m still here. I applied for jobs and got no interviews. I put together a website as an online resume and beefed up my LinkedIn profile. I reached out to people I’d like to work with. While I’ve gotten some response and met some really great people, no opportunities have materialized.

So I decided to shift gears. In September I finished the life coach training course I’d been taking since January. I was ready to take on the world! I started put myself out there as a coach. But I have to be honest. Building a business seems daunting on those days when I don’t even have the energy to make my personal hygiene a priority.

This has been vaguely reminiscent of a time in my life when depression was my constant companion. When just getting through the day was the best I could do. And I feel guilty because I’m so exhausted I sometimes take it out on my 15 year old son, Kyle. When I’m feeling really frustrated with my situation, I’m not as patient as I’d like to be. There’s only so much of me to go around and he sometimes gets the short end of the stick. In those moments I feel scared and weak and small.

But the one difference I can see between those early days in the dark cloud of depression and now, is hope. The most devastating part of depression for me was the utter hopelessness that I would never be happy again. And even though I have no idea how this is all going to turn out, I know it my heart something good is on its way.

The soft spot is hope. And that hopefulness keeps me moving forward. As long as I keep moving toward my goals, I have succeeded. I only fail if I give up.

Some days I just fall apart out of sheer frustration. And some days I recognize the smallest thing that holds it all together. The nights I actually do cook dinner instead of getting take out. The days I take a shower and get dressed. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but some days you have to take the small wins. Some days, the small wins are all you’ve got.

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

Leaning Into Pain | Take 2

This is one of the first things I wrote and posted publicly on Facebook in January 2011. I’ve been thinking alot about the lengths we’ll go to in order to avoid anything we perceive as negative. But pain is really not a negative. It’s just the other side of joy. And you can’t have one without the other. So I’m reposting this because I think it’s worth saying again. The pain will not kill you, even though it might seem that way at the time. If you let yourself feel it, really feel it, one day you will discover you had the capacity for it all along.

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I have been experiencing a fair amount of pain these days. Not that occasional out of sorts, down in the dumps kind of feeling. But a gut wrenching, tear your heart out and stomp on it kind of thing. I won’t pretend it’s been easy…it hasn’t. And there are days I don’t know how I’m going to keep moving forward. But I do; and this experience has helped me look at pain in a whole new way.

Up until now, I have had two ways of dealing with the inevitable pain that life throws at us from time to time. One way was to hurtle myself into a deep, dark depression. A place of hopelessness and despair where I feared I would never feel happy again. The other was trying to get rid of the pain by pushing it away, stuffing it down, numbing it, fighting it or running from it. I’ll be honest…neither of these were great options. Because I never allowed myself to feel the pain in a way that could ultimately heal my heart.

This time around I’ve discovered a whole new way of being with pain. Whenever those moments of overwhelming sadness start to wash over me like the waves of the ocean, I simply lean into it. That’s all…just lean in. I don’t try to figure out what its here to teach me; or what I’m supposed to be learning from all this. I don’t try to talk myself out of my pain. I simply move toward it. I lean in and rest my head on its shoulder like a long lost friend. I cry until the tears are gone and the wave moves through me.

This isn’t to say, it doesn’t hurt or it’s not difficult. It’s just a different way of relating to pain. I’m accepting these feelings as a natural part of grieving any kind of loss. And I’m allowing myself to feel what I feel and trying not to judge myself for it. As with everything, it’s a work in progress and is often two steps forward, one step back. As Stephanie St Claire so beautifully put it, ‎”Sometimes you have to take it on blind faith that your heart is healing. It may not feel like the pain is going away. You might still cry just as hard as ever. But strength, confidence, and wisdom grow invisibly and you must trust that it is there. Rock the world Steel Magnolias!”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

Thought for the Day

Life is like a roller coaster. One minute you’re on top of the world, hands in the air, smile on your face…and the next minute you’re screaming at the top of your lungs, holding on for dear life, and just praying you don’t pee your pants.

And yes…you can quote me on that!

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

What Are These Cats Trying to Tell Me?

Having spent yesterday on the water, seeing all kinds of animals and communing with nature, I thought this was the perfect time to write about cats. If you’re confused, bear with me…this will all come together. I promise.

Here is where you get to see exactly how weird I am. I mostly keep this part of me under wraps. Or at least I try. But honestly it is just so exhausting. And I did agree to be more open and authentic in this blog. So here I am. Flying the weirdness flag high and proud!

Napping in my chair

For more than a year my back yard has become the hang out for the neighborhood cats. I don’t have any cats myself. Not that I don’t like cats. I don’t really have any feelings about them one way or the other. But the last year I’ve had a hard enough time taking care of myself so it felt irresponsible to take on the care of another living being. Not counting my teenage son…I have to provide for him no matter what. Thankfully he doesn’t ask for much.

Peaking in the window

Back to the cats. For all of last summer I was perplexed. Why are these cats hanging out in my backyard? Granted, I do have the best climbing trees in the neighborhood. Because I grew up surrounded by trees and I love them, I’m one of the few residents who didn’t cut them down. But it’s not just the trees they like. Mostly they’re hanging out on the deck or the front porch catching a nap in the sun. They could do that anywhere.

I should also mention I am not feeding them. That’s not why they come around. And before you decide

Relaxing on our old trampoline (aka very big kitty bed)

I’m a terrible person for not feeding these poor cats, let me assure you they all look pretty well taken care of. They belong to someone. They have homes. Yet they seem to like it here. Two, three, four…up to six at a time. They’re like teenagers who somehow decided this is the cool house. So they hang out, play, sleep. They’re very similar to teenagers actually. Except they’re not eating my food.

I do believe everything is connected and that there’s always a reason for what happens in our lives. So I started looking up the meaning of cats. There are quite a few, but this one really struck me from http://www.linsdomain.com/totems/pages/cat.htm.

Mystery, Magic and Independence

A cat totem encourages agility in both body and mind.
You will be challenged with new ideas and places.
The cat gives you clearer perception.

This spirit helper is resourceful, strong and fearless.
It will give you courage and confidence.

Examine the colors, character and behaviors of your Cat.
Everything about it will reflect in your own life.

When a Cat becomes predominant in your life,
magic and mystery come alive.

I have to admit, this last year has been pretty magical. Even if I didn’t see it as magic at the time. And I have definitely been challenged with new ideas.

Last fall I was telling my friend Shari about this crazy cat phenomenon and she said, “Have you ever asked the cats why they’re there?” And I realized I hadn’t. I mean, it really hadn’t occurred to me. They’re cats. But when she said that I was curious. So I came home. And asked them. Why not? And I swear one of them looked me right in the eyes and said, “So you’ll know you’re not alone.” I don’t mean out loud. Cats can’t talk. Not in real life anyway. Not in words we understand. It was more of a message I got in my mind, or my heart. Animals do have something to teach us and they come into our life for a reason. We just need ask and then pay attention to their messages.

That was the last time I questioned their presence. I know you don’t believe it. I don’t expect you to. But that’s the way it happened. You may find it weird I get messages from cats. Maybe what’s weird is you don’t.

The cat who ‘spoke’ to me

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