Sterling the Cat

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?