Last winter, I often felt scattered and anxious before starting my day, overwhelmed by all there was to do. I needed a way to center myself for the tasks ahead. While I’ve occasionally meditated in the afternoons to reconnect with my creative self, I tended to overlook it in the morning. So I promised myself I’d set aside fifteen minutes a day to meditate. Just fifteen minutes with closed eyes, breathing. Through this technique, I found my mind calmed nicely down and I sorted out my main priorities. I was able to organize my day and felt more grounded heading into it.
A Gorgeous Garden to Focus on
Nowadays when I feel particularly scattered, I don’t close my eyes but rather focus my attention on a favorite scene from nature. Because scientists tell us that gazing at flowers and plants calms our nervous system, I thought I’d give this a try. So I started sitting in front of a favorite poster. I found it years ago at a craft store. I love this poster so much that when the original had faded, I bought a new one online.
It’s a photo of a little black cat in the aisle of a lush garden. The little guy or gal simply sits there, dwarfed by the colorful perennials and lone tree at the path’s end. He or she seems content with the day. Its tiny dark body mirrors the dark tree trunk before it. This moment, this snippet of grace, somehow allows me to believe that everything in my life will be okay. It’s a miniature escape from the real world, and gosh, with all the sadness of the real world, do I need it.
The photo is by Greg Gawlowski, who I unfortunately don’t know much about. His website seems to be offline. Here’s his instagram (I think) in case you’re interested in exploring his work. I wish I knew where he’d taken this photo, whose garden it was and where that little kitty lived. Regardless, it’s given me a huge gift: not just immense pleasure, but a regular dose of much needed relaxation and health.
Do you have a favorite green scene you like to rest your attention on? Let me know!
I’m writing this post so my cat doesn’t die. I’m superstitious. She’s been ill. She’s old. Her eating is spotty and she’s losing weight. If you’ve read any earlier posts, you know that she’s already been a miracle kitty, having died and then been revived on the exam table at the vet. I even wrote a short book inspired by the experience. Now in May, it’s been a year and a half since that incident. Every day with her has been a gift. But just recently she started refusing food and has declined in strength. So, as the day nears when my first traditionally published novel comes out, I fear she’s hanging on for me until this milestone.
You know how pets sometimes do that? They’re so loyal and loving, they instinctively know you need them and will hold on for you as long as they can. I can think of two stories off the top of my head when this happened to people I knew. And I’m afraid my dear cat Maddie is doing the same.
A Long Journey Together
I don’t want Maddie to die — ever. She’s a good-natured beauty who came to us as a six-month-old stray when my dog Arrow cornered her. She’s lived a life of luxury and happiness since. She knows she’s beautiful and has used it to her advantage in the past. In fact, her nickname is Khaleesi. But she’s also provided us with unwavering affection over the years as my husband went through cancer treatment and we suddenly brought home three adopted children. She’s tolerated living with four dogs over the course of a decade too. And one very grumpy cat who she never liked much. At night, she snuggles by my head in bed and during the day, curls up in my arms.
So, as she loses weight and I call the vet every few days, please pray or think good thoughts for us. She has a thyroid condition and mild kidney disease. She’s weak but sometimes attentive. I know she can’t live forever, but I hope the stars don’t align in a way that breaks my heart. It’s hard not to think only about myself here but at the same time, she’s a mere fourteen, which seems too young for such a sweet and otherwise healthy kitty to leave this earth. And so I write this post, thinking if I do write it, she’ll live through the summer and if I don’t, she won’t. We’ll see how the stars arrange themselves.
In Part One of this series, I wrote about how my affection for trees and the idea of plants making vibrations inspired me to write Song of the Tree Hollow. Today I’ll address the other piece of the puzzle: the sudden experience of my cat dying and coming back to life.
My daughter is reading The Alchemist, a classic by Brazilian writer Paul Coehlo, which tells the tale of an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago. It’s a mystic story about his adventures that will help you follow your true path. Since our cat Maddie had her spotlight, my daughter read the book beside our other cat Aleksy. He likes to hang out in her bedroom. Our little gray boy seemed to be interested. He may finish reading it before she does!
My cat Maddie snuggled up to a book I left behind this morning. She’s apparently interested in reading Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees. It’s a wonderful little book that posits stands of trees are like human families. They protect each other, communicate through roots, send nutrients to the ill, and a bunch of other amazing things. If you read this, you’ll be seeing beeches and birches and all trees in a whole different light. Have a great Saturday!
For more book recommendations, click here.