Sterling the Cat

Monday, April 18, 2011

My cat has taught me a better way to start the day.

My cat has taught me a better way to start the day.

        Calli has many rituals. One could be very irritating if I let it be.  When I wake I'm ready to get started. Calli has other plans, and now we combine our needs. First thing in the morning I turn on the bed light and call “Good Morning Calli Cat.” That is Calli’s signal to come from wherever she is and jump back in bed. If only I could train her not to land on my tummy. Her paws have the force of high heels! Then she settles down on my chest with her face inches from mine and starts to purr. That is because I am stroking her, back from her face over her head to her neck, around the neck, and back from under the whiskers. I repeat these strokes over and over. She lets me do this as long as I choose. In the beginning I let it bother me because I wanted to get started on my day, as I told you before.
Now I use this petting time to silently list my blessings, followed by another list of what I am looking forward to in my day. Then I stop the strokes because Calli and I are both in a good mood to actually face her day and my day.

How do you start your day?

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Cat Teaches Me to Get Out of the Rut

My cat teaches me to get out of the rut.
        Just when I think I have Calli figured out and can predict her behavior she changes the rules. For weeks we have been playing a ball game, last thing before going up to bed at night. Little soft balls are collected in a basket. I sit about half way down the stairs and throw one ball at a time at the front door. The ball bounces down the hallway where Calli is waiting to chase it. We both get exercise, my throwing and in the mornings when I do deep knee bends to pick up the scattered balls. Now Calli goes up to bed before me, so no bouncing-the-balls-off-the-door game. Does she just need a break, and will she return to the ball game?
        Are there some routines in my life that could be varied and add some spice? Maybe I could have soup and sandwich for breakfast and my healthy cereal at noon or in the evening. Related to eating, I could definitely find some more interesting places to eat in my home, using a tray table I keep folded. Why don’t I add restful music to my bedtime routine? I may return to some of my old routines, just as I suspect Calli will want to chase the balls again. But life does need spice.
How have you added spice to your life?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Cat Teaches Me How to Ignore

My cat teaches me how to ignore.
I’m at my computer and I hear “Meow, Meow, Meow.” “Calli, it is not time for your food.” “Meow, Meow, Meow,” she replies. each “Meow” louder than the one before. Of course I hear her; the whole world hears her, but I pretend I don’t. Actually I have learned this technique from none other than Calli. If words don’t work absolute I-don’t-hear-you does. It helps me to have something to do that appears to be very important and I proceed as if my life depends on in.
Mealtime comes and I sneak up on Calli with “It’s time to eat.” Must admit there is a little part of me that feels triumphant, and another part somewhat guilty.
Help! What works for you when your cat, or a person, is pesky?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What My Cats Taught Me

My Cats Taught Me to Believe in Miracles
One thing I am not is a fighter. Neither was Cali One. Sterling had been my only cat for several years. Maybe I should listen to my friends after most of them said “Sterling needs a cat companion. He must be lonely.” How could he be lonely when he spent so much time with me? At the Shelter I listed everything I wanted in a cat knowing I would not be faced with a cat who would meet all my requirements. “There she is, looking through the window at you. She is the Perfect Cat. We call her Cali.” And she was, a sweet and beautiful calico cat. “She gets along with all the other cats, and we love her.” So did I, but Sterling hated her.
Of course I followed the book and kept them apart in the early weeks. Sterling was a holy terror, knowing of her existence. In the short trial introductions he tried to rip her apart. He made her life on earth hell! I was busy trying to find a good home for Cali. He heard me on the phone making final arrangements for someone to take her, in one week. Believe it or not, from that moment on he began to soften toward Cali. It took quite a while, but they did become bosom buddies, playing and sleeping together and grooming each other. A miracle!
Would you like to share a cat or personal miracle?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Cat Teaches Me to Choose Where I Walk

My Cat Teaches Me to Choose Where I Walk
        The most important place to watch for Calli is at the top of the stairs as I start to descend. I do use the handrail but, if Calli does her zigzag in front of me, I have a vision of both of us tumbling down the stairs. Who breaks a hip? The kitchen area is the second most threatening place. Calli cuts in front of me to get to her food bowl and I am concentrating on a new recipe. Who wins? Number three danger zone might be after Calli has used her litter box and is barreling out of the upstairs bathroom when I am crossing the landing. There is nothing to grab if she crashes into me. My mantra is “Watch out for Calli!”
        Where are the danger zones in my personal life, and where do I choose to walk? Not getting enough sleep is close to the top and I am working on this. Beside my bed is my Sleep Journal, with daily recordings. A soothing music CD is playing in my boom box. My “Attitude of Gratitude Journal” gets three things from the day for which I am thankful, no matter how small. This is followed by a daily devotional guide, “These Days.” Next comes relaxing into a favorite light reading book until my eyes become heavy. It’s back to the book when I awake during the night. I’m still not getting enough hours of sleep, but more than I did before the plan was put into action.
Would you like to share a danger zone and how you are coping where you walk? 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Cat Teaches Me Patience

My Cat Teaches Me Patience
       Calli is my current cat. She does not replace Sterling. No cat can take the place of another. If you have ever lived with a cat you know each cat is an individual. Calli chooses when she will be impatient. At four o’clock on my clock and on her clock, she finds me and announces that it is time for her evening meal.
       She does have endless patience, however, when it comes to waiting for birds to eat at the bird feeder outside the bedroom window. She sits on the little stool that she owns without moving a cat muscle and watches for hours. She pays no attention to my coming and going behind her. Nothing matters except waiting, then watching the birds. Somehow she knows she can’t get to the birds. She chooses daily to be an observer, sometimes even after the sun goes down.
Yes, I like to feed the birds, especially in the winter. But I must confess I invest in bird feed equally to provide the Cat TV for Calli. In addition Calli is teaching me patience. What do I value in my life enough to watch and wait and never give up, even when the sun goes down?

What do I value most?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My cat teaches me phone time consideration.

 My Cat Teaches Me Phone Time Consideration
Most of my phone calls are made or answered in my office. The chair is ergonomic. Reception is clearer. I enjoy the view from the window. Why use the other phones unless I get caught and have no choice?
What I don’t understand is why Calli never bothers me while I am on the office phone. Now that I think about it, she is not a pest when I use the other phones. There have been times when I have gone an hour past her late afternoon feeding time on the phone. The moment I get off the phone she is there with her special whine that I know so well. Why the consideration? At first I thought it was related to the office phone being corded. But she does not bother me when I am on the other phones, even when I am listening for a long time and she does not hear my voice. I have given up trying to figure out why. Now I simply say “Calli, thank you for being so considerate.”
Am as thoughtful as Calli? Before I make a call do I consider if this would be a convenient time for the person? Do I go on and on without a thought to what that person might have on their agenda? Do I train myself to condense my phone visit into what is really important and then get off, tactfully and with appreciation for their time?

Please share your phone etiquette reminders.

Friday, January 28, 2011

My cat teaches me I have choices.

I must admit, it is a terrible thunderstorm.  But Sterling will not be comforted. He races from window to window and room to room. Why does he not remember that he has survived thunderstorms before? I want to know what happens next in the book I am reading, so I curl up on top the bed, with a pillow at my back and find my place. It is dark and I have to turn on the bed light. I call to Sterling to join me but he is too busy chasing the storm from window to window. For some reason he is choosing to ignore my help and is facing this storm on his own.

        We do have choices, all the time. Sterling knows I am here, and we have faced storms together before. This time he chooses his own plan, and follows it.

What does having choices mean to you?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My cat teaches me to honor names.

First I shorten “Sterling” to “Ling.” It is easier to say, especially when I am in a hurry. Is it my imagination, or does Sterling take a little longer to respond when I call him by the shortened version? “Little Friend” is definitely an endearing name that comes automatically when I want a loving session. He simply endures that name. In my playful mode I add to “Ling” and call him ”Ding-a-ling.” That is a complete failure, and he does not respond. “Ding Dong” does not work either. Due to poor response, I return to “Sterling” most of the time, with “Ling” as a nickname, now and then.

Do I check with friends who have shortened names or nicknames if they really like those names? Or maybe they would like to be called by a name of their own choosing and I can be one person who honors that name when I talk with them.

How do you honor names?

Friday, January 21, 2011

My cat teaches me about overloading my memory.

We started with eight little soft balls, two bags with four each. For months Sterling has been hiding balls, here and there, which the two of us manage to find when we want to play ball. The number of found balls is dwindling and I forget to buy replacements when I am at the pet store. As Sterling and I search for the balls he has hidden we both forget his favorite hiding places until we are down to a paltry few balls. Exasperated, I put “soft balls” on my to buy list.

        If Sterling could talk he might remind me that I often overload my memory bank. Every day I put in more, and it gets all jumbled up together. Instead of chastising myself I need to be more understanding and just make notes of things I need to remember.

How do you deal with memory overload?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My cat teaches me to give positive feedback.

        “That was a great hit!...A little more to the right and you have it made…Wow, you get a home run on that one,” I say to Sterling as we play his favorite ball game. He stretches out on the floor facing me and I roll a ball to him. About half the time he manages to knock the ball back to me with either front or back feet. It may be my imagination but he seems to understand my feedback. At least he wants to play ball this way as long as I provide the rolling ball and comments.
How do I feel when someone gives me specific praise for something I have done in contrast to silent response? What opportunities do I take advantage of to point to the success of my friends, regardless of how small?

How do you give positive feedback to those you care about?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Stretching Does Feel So Good

Stretching does feel so good.
How can it be morning?  I see Sterling stretching on his side of the bed. Slowly I bend my left leg, always my left one first, all the way to my chest, holding it there with the knee. I relax, not wanting to let it go. Next the right one, same thing, until I have done five each. Now I am ready to start my day. Sterling beats me to the kitchen for our breakfast.

It is so easy to lose track of time when I sit at the computer. Sterling has been napping on the only empty chair in the office. He jumps down and starts to stretch, in a way I cannot copy. But I can move my head, very slowly and held upright, all the way to the left, hold, and return, all the way to the right, and hold. It feels so good I lose track of how many turns I make. While I am in the exercising mood I go to the wall, put my hands on it, a shoulder’s distance apart. Then I start walking backwards, as far as I can go, while pushing with my arms. I hold this position and feel the stretch.  Then I do it again. I see Sterling below me. Is he is laughing at me?

What are your favorite stretching exercises?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Retreat can be positive.

        The moment Sterling is placed in the carrier his world changes completely. He hates the confinement of the cage, and the movement of the vehicle. He finds nothing that is familiar once he is released. There are no other cats and kittens. The rooms are big, except the one with his litter box. The food tastes strange. There is no noise, except in the distance. Where is Marta, the friendly woman who chose him? Finally he finds me at my computer. He crawls in the space under my feet, mixes with wires, and goes to sleep, for a long, long time.

        Sometimes my world feels out of control. There are demands I don’t think I can fulfill. There are changes I don’t want to make. If I follow Sterling’s example I would stop fighting it and take a very long and extended cat nap. The world will look different when I awake, and I will find a way.

What withdrawal examples do you have to share?