Hammy was very gracious with me, allowing me in his home without whining or trying to push me out the door (as pigs sometimes do!) I learned SO MUCH about my new porcine neighbour, and I hope you will too!
Hammy was very gracious with me, allowing me in his home without whining or trying to push me out the door (as pigs sometimes do!) I learned SO MUCH about my new porcine neighbour, and I hope you will too!
I’ve just come back from a week vacation. When possible, I do try to give myself a week in February to do nothing but the things I *want* to do. In this case, I spent a day getting taxes organized, but the other 6 days were pretty much mine to do with what I pleased, so I planned a little mini-break with Sweetie, and I planned to spend a few days in Campbell River helping my friend Ellie move. You may remember Ellie from this podcast episode.
Speaking of the podcast, I had a *great* conversation with a new animal friend of mine! Hamilton the pot belly pig!
I’ll add a photo of him to his post later on today. I just love his grunting. Pigs are awesome. The Hamilton Interview will come out on Tuesday, with part 2 coming out a week from Tuesday. I know you’re going to love this one!
Sweetie and I had a little mini-break, where we stayed overnight in a hotel and then watched “Rogue One” in an actual movie theatre! When you live in a tiny town, you can go years without seeing a movie in a theatre. Man is it ever a fun experience when you haven’t seen one in a while! That’s a big difference right there between my life now, and my life ten years ago when I was living in Toronto.
One thing I had really been looking forward to is helping my friend Ellie move.
Well, as it happened, there was a big snow storm on our way home from watching Rogue One. We have to drive through a mountain pass to get home, and since we watched the later show, we reached the foot of the mountain at midnight. In a snow storm. We opted to stay a second night in Port Alberni.
I was supposed to go visit Ellie the following day, but this was just going to be too much driving. It may not look like Vancouver Island is a big place, but it takes four hours in good conditions to drive from my home to Nanaimo, and an additional two hours to get to Victoria (south) or to Campbell River (north) which is where Ellie used to live.
In case you’re curious, it takes 8 hours to drive from Victoria to Port McNeil, even with the speed limit being 120 km / hr through most of it.
Anyway, I am a driver who needs a break every few hours, so driving from Port Alberni, to Ucluelet, then back to Campbell River – way too much in a day.
And the next day, Sweetie fell down the stairs and broke her foot. So the way I see it, things have worked out to conspire to keep me home for my vacation and help Sweetie through the first few days of her injury. She’s coping really well now, but for a while there she was in a lot of pain and pretty much stuck in bed. She’s not weight-bearing on that foot yet, but she’s definitely feeling better.
Now I can hear her crutching around the house, sometimes cursing a bit under her breath, or exasperatedly scolding Mikey for laying down directly in front of her again. He will not move if she pokes him with her crutch, he just rolls over. Mikey just wants to be with her, and doesn’t really understand the concept of being “in the way”.
I’m also feeling quite a bit better pelvic-pain wise. I’m experimenting with this product: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00EEEGEGM/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 and it really seems to be helping. I haven’t needed the pyridium (a pain medication directed at the bladder) for a couple of months now. *I am not endorsing or recommending any products for medical conditions* I am just sharing my story here. The bottom line is, when you have a chronic condition, especially if you suspect is has a complex cause, you may need to build a team of people to help you figure out what things work and what things don’t work. Ideally we will find ourselves in front of that magic person who has all of the answers, but more often we need to educate ourselves and make our own decisions based on our knowledge and experience of our own body, and the input from trusted health care professionals.
Do you remember all of my “the weight of it” posts? This has been quite an ongoing story. Kudos to Andrea (I think it was you, over a year ago?) who suggested I may have a hormone imbalance. I’ve been working along that theory, and I now suspect I might have endometriosis, which would explain a LOT, including much of my weight gain despite being on a diet prescribed by a nutritionist. Stress > adrenal fatigue > insulin resistance > weight gain > estrogen increase > weight gain > estrogen increase > flaring of pelvic pain > stress & pain > more adrenal fatigue and around it all goes. The killer is the cravings I’ve had for crap food are crazy intense now, so I will not pretend I’ve been eating perfectly well this whole time. I haven’t been doing terribly, but there have been potato chips. That’s all I’m sayin’!
I do want to take this moment to count my very many blessings, as I have dear people in my life who are supporting me with so much love and understanding, and I have access to a variety of health care professionals who will eventually help me figure all of this out.
The great news is, not only do I have a supplement that seems to have gotten me off of pain meds, but this very supplement is often helpful in correcting an estrogen-dominant state in the body. I’m not quoting medical studies here, I’m reading personal blogs of people with parallel issues and how they have managed or reversed their symptoms. “Estrogen dominant” is getting to be a bit of a buzz word, but it’s also interesting that it’s a phrase the naturopathic doctor used when reading the very same rest results which the family physician had pronounced “normal”. I *know* that something is going on, hormone-wise, so I’m going to go with the doctor who has a theory on that front, and whose first line of treatment is *not* surgery or prescribing birth control pills – both of these are things I’m expecting from the pelvic pain specialist.
This is what you do when you’re waiting five months for your next specialist appointment. Anyway, if I do have Endo, this next specialist in pelvic pain is exactly the doctor to be in front of, but meanwhile, I’m just going to make the dietary changes that are helpful in managing endo and hormonal imbalance. These changes are also in line with the starting changes recommended by my naturopathic doctor, who I haven’t seen yet but have spoken to over the phone. We are still waiting for my urologist to forward the reports to the ND’s office before I actually go down to see her, but as a naturopathic doctor, she specializes in – and this is her quote – “healthy menstruating females”. In fact she refers to her patients as “MY healthy menstruating females” which was strange but oddly comforting at the same time! Her whole thing is utilizing naturpathic and integrated practices to facilitate hormone balance and fertility.
This is quite the journey I have been on. Meanwhile, the progress I’m making with the supplements and the early diet changes have enabled me to go for beach walks again! That’s a big plus when you live in such a beautiful place as Tofino, British Columbia!
I’ve gotten back in touch with my lovely nutritionist from last year, who is off on maternity leave at the moment but is happy to help me figure out a six-week endo diet, which will again keep me within a gradual weight loss category of calorie intake. Personally, I can’t really make a lasting diet change unless I have a six week meal plan, including snacks, and recipes provided. I just can’t do that on my own. I’ve tried. But once I’ve gotten through six weeks, I am in a much better place to make better food choices again. I’m super-grateful for the help. It will just help me fully implement the changes the naturopathic doctor recommended a while ago…
And here’s the extra-big challenge for me. I think I’m going to give up coffee.
That is huge for me. But coffee, as much as I enjoy it, is bad for the hormones, *especially* if you have an issue like mine.
I’m going to start experimenting with matcha green tea. If I can make a matcha green tea latte that I like, I think I will be able to give up the coffee forever.
We shall see, my friends.
Keep your eyes peeled for that Hamilton the Pig interview, coming Tuesday!!!
I will share with you, my observed phases of moving:
Part 1. Packing.
1. “All my stuff is precious” – starts a month in advance of moving. Stuff is wrapped individually, placed lovingly in a box, labelled exhaustively. Some items are zen-ishly purged. Many of us believe the entire packing process will go like this.
2. “Anxiety” – practicality meets social responsibility as you attempt to give away and donate things you will not want or need in the new home.
3. “Time Crunch” – starts one to two weeks before move date. Stuff is more quickly packed, layered between sheets, towels and other textiles believing “it’ll probably be fine”. Boxes labelled with the room in which the stuff belongs.
4. “How do I keep finding things to pack?” Decision fatigue kicks in. You have become incapable of deciding whether or not you will need this thing in the new home, so you throw it into a box labelled “random crap” thinking it’s okay if you have just one box of random crap. By the time the truck arrives, you have 10 boxes labelled “random crap”.
5. “It’s go time”. You have run out of boxes. Anything left unpacked goes into black garbage bags. It may get broken or thrown out, but you don’t even care.
Part 2. Unpacking.
1. “Optimism and Resolutions.” Look at all the space we have! We will have so much room! What a great opportunity to get completely organized as I put things away! New life! This will be great!
2. Where the heck is the can opener? *buys new can opener*
3. “Ominous foreshadowing.” Why are the kitchen cupboards full, but the boxes labelled “kitchen” only half-unpacked?
4. “I can fix this.” *buys organizational items*
5. “Why did I pack this!?” The discovery of carefully packed items from “all my stuff is precious” phase, but which appear valueless in light of the new home. The stunning realization that your pre-moving purge got rid of only half the stuff you should have purged.
6. “The Over-Purge”. The closets and cupboards are full. The new storage solutions are full. You decide to randomly stuff the remaining items into closets and cupboards making them over-full, or throw out items as you unpack them.
7. “Apathy”. With no enthusiasm to unpack the remaining 2 – 6 boxes, they are relegated to the corner of a room, or a basement / storage space for a year.
8. One year later: “There’s the can opener.”
Well folks, it’s about time for a blog entry, isn’t it? SO MUCH has happened in the past month that I can’t possibly write it all down and do it real justice… so do you know what that means?
I talk about the union convention I attended at the end of January, I talk about the course which Sweetie and I have joined, which is a feminine, energetic approach to the practical matters of managing money (Biggie gives the energetic message of “whatever gets you there” – it’s perhaps a little too woo-woo for him but Sweetie and I find it very powerful!)
I also talk about trauma, and how I was surprised that my memories of a childhood medical procedure have actually been producing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress for *decades*. It’s really no coincidence that the universe pushed Carl & I together last month, is it??? It’s wonderful how that happens.
I assure you, I’m fine by the way. It’s just been a revelation for me – how what I thought were persistent memories of something I should have “let go” a long time ago, are actually indicators of trauma – and even though this medical procedure was nothing when you compare it to the potential for trauma in the human experience, dismissing it hasn’t worked in allowing my brain to actually “let it go”. That’s because trauma is a specific mechanical process in our brain, and the amazing part is there are techniques we can use to move that trauma through and completely change our relationship with that experience.
I decided to talk about it, after learning how very common it is for children to be actually traumatized by a medical procedure, and for the real effects of that trauma to echo out over our whole lifetime – and how exciting it is that being “traumatized” by something is not a permanent state, contrary to how trauma is commonly approached and treated as permanent damage by many therapists and medical professionals.
Listen and learn my friends, I hope you enjoy it!
We’re back! You guys, the first part of my conversation with Carl went live on the feed today, you can listen to it here, or search for my name in iTunes or Stitcher on your mobile device (cough and SUBSCRIBE cough).
Part two is locked and loaded for this time next week (I will be out of town, but my fabulous podcast support Jen Edds has already scheduled it.)
Jen sent me this wonderful little note about the second installment:
Carl part 2 is uploaded and scheduled to release next Tuesday.
I don’t normally include time stamps in the show notes, but I thought the lobster analogy about growth, and the conversation about PTSD and meditation were super powerful, so I felt compelled to include the time stamp in the show notes.
I also don’t normally cry while editing podcasts, but I cried like a little baby when Carl was sharing the story about the older – That one just crushed me. You guys had a really powerful conversation on so many levels.
Hah! I’m not going to spoil it for you! You’ll have to listen and find out!
You can see the detailed description of what Carl & I discussed in this week’s episode right here, or on your mobile device!
I hope you enjoy it!
(image came from here, a lovely read by the way.)
I’ve been thinking about this post for a while. You guys, I had a *super-fun* phone call yesterday with a new podcast guest! His name is Carl and he’s a firefighter. The first installment will be posted on Tuesday (the 10th) and the second part a week later, on the 17th. Watch Joyfultelepathy.com for the release or better yet, subscribe through itunes or stitcher on your smart phone to get it automatically on your device the second it releases J
Carl wrapped a little bow on a blog post idea I’ve been mulling over for a few weeks, and I’ll get to that. First, a little context:
December notwithstanding, I’ve been eating pretty well. I’ve still been gaining weight. It’s ridiculous. I’m probably going to lock it down again and just go mostly vegan except for lean protein, because while my body seems to be in wolly-mammoth-in-wintertime mode, it can only do so much with healthy veggies, lean protein, flax / avocado, and no flour, sugar or dairy. I always miss dairy. But as much as I love it, it does seem to be a part of the problem Every. Darn. Time.
Meanwhile, having seen my urologist in January I’m being passed along to another specialist in pelvic pain in Vancouver. Having completed the ultrasound and the bladder scope, now I can finally follow up with my naturopathic doctor in Victoria, who I’m feeling optimistic about. She specializes in women’s health and hormones, and I suspect there’s a cortisol / estrogen / progesterone factor in here that isn’t being flagged in the regular blood work.
Before anyone out there gets excited and tells me I should do the elimination diet before seeing this next specialist, relax. I have. Diet is the first place I go to heal myself. Of course it is. Alas, despite all the messaging out there, there truly is not a cure-all that works for everyone, and I haven’t (so far) found a diet that’s sustainable long-term without causing some sort of imbalance, leaving some need unmet. Not yet. One day I will, I’ll just keep working on it. I admit, I’ve been feeling a tad sorry for myself, and the December exception to my dietary efforts to heal myself has, of course, not made me feel any better in the long run!
But here’s the thing I’ve been telling myself, all through this particular health-challenge. It’s all okay as long as I work every day to make myself a little bit better. Every day I do my exercises. I think about what I can do to replace the vigorous walking I used to enjoy and can’t tolerate right now – so I replace it with yoga core-building exercise, and I’ve added some weights into the mix. Maybe I can’t power walk, but I can certainly lift. And I can ABSOLUTELY eat the best diet possible, and track it, so I have something to tell the doctors when they give me dietary suggestions.
For me, visualizing my ideal self doesn’t motivate me as it seems to motivate others – it’s discouraging. I work best when I focus on getting a little bit better every day – doing something EVERY DAY that is positive and will put energy into the healing track, rather than the illness / victim story. I have to do this *regardless of the outcome*, because honestly, all I can control is what I do today.
I’m writing about this because you guys *know* I love to buck the trends in the new age world, and the messaging out there is if you find an affirming mantra, if you do the intention-setting and the visualization, you *will* get there. Or you must at least *believe* you will get there, because if you don’t keep the faith you will SURELY fail, and in that case, you have only yourself to blame.
Does anyone else get that message, or is it just me?
Well, personally, I don’t find this strategy to be helpful in the long run. My Sweetie finds it helpful, and I can appreciate that. It does work for her. For her, she can do the “right things” and see actual encouraging change! For me, it’s a bit soul-crushing. If my motivation for positive action is dependent on a time-sensitive outcome, when that deadline comes and goes without the outcome I was hoping for (like 8 weeks of following the nutritionist’s plan ending in a “sorry I can’t help you” conclusion) what my brain does with that information is spiral into a hopeless and helpless puddle of self-pity. And that doesn’t help, does it?! Brains are funny. It’s not a logical conclusion that this thing didn’t work so I feel like giving up (I didn’t give up, of course, but I FELT like giving up) but for some of us, that’s what our brain does with this intention setting agenda. It’s too great a risk when you have a brain that likes to self-flagellate.
Carl said something awesome to me yesterday. He said, “Pain is a benchmark for greatness.” I’ve heard this before, in different forms. I have a friend who gets supremely excited when she hears from a new client in spiritual crisis. She *loves* working with people experiencing a “dark night of the soul” because she has seen the amazing transformations that can happen in dark places.
The key, the vital key to it all, is to never give up.
You don’t *have to* be attached to the final outcome. In fact, if we want to get Buddhist about it, attachment to a *specific* outcome could enhance your sense of suffering. But the embrace of the struggle, the affirmation that pain is just a benchmark – this is a sign post on an amazing journey of triumph – a triumph you may not yet fully understand, but a plan and a path that has purpose in this world – well that shifts everything.
I’m writing this for the folks reading who have chronic illness (physical or mental), or just undiagnosed chronic pain. People, you’re so not alone! I was listening to a podcast recently where the author of “Kicking Sick” was saying as many as one in three adults in the US suffer from a chronic illness. By the way, I think it’s a great book. It does of course have a focus on diet, but the information in there is also key to organizing your own care, and building a team of support people to help you. I’ve solved mystery health issues in the past using these strategies. I takes patience and persistence. It is tough when you don’t know how long it will be before your team finally clicks, and you start making some serious headway.
Now that I think of it, maybe I’m ready to try another nutritionist. Sometimes it’s about getting in front of the right people.
So that’s my mantra for this New Year, and my resolution. Every day, I promise myself, I’m going to be a little bit better. At 10 am every morning, I’m going to think about what I am going to do that day to improve my health, including what I’m going to eat to affirm my health, where I am in my exercise plan to improve my body, and where I am this month in my business goals.
I encourage my friends to do this too. If the grand New Year goals are motivating for you, AWESOME. Do it. But if you’re starting off the year feeling discouraged, and the emails I’ve been getting are telling this is a pretty common sentiment at the moment, just affirm to yourself that you will make a plan today. Every day, you are going to embrace the benchmark of resistance and pain – and welcome it not as a sign of futility, as your tricky mind might be tempted to frame it, but as a sign post. And promise yourself that you will read that sign post and answer it with a fighting spirit!
For me, that fighting spirit was a missing piece. I’m not a fighter. I’m a watcher. I’m a listener. I’m a comforter. I’m a helper. I’m a healer. But I’ve never identified with the feeling of fighting. I can be competitive, sure, but it’s always non-confrontational.
Talking to Carl, a guy whose job has “fighter” in the title, I realized that I *need* that firefighter spirit in my emotional toolbox. I like to be chill about things. I like to accept people where they are, and I practice kindness and self-care. I practice compassion to myself and to others. But I don’t really fight. I’ve been taught *not* to fight, actually.
But sometimes, you’ve GOT to fight. I don’t know how I missed this, but fighting, I realize, is a fundamental state of being! We don’t want to be fighting all the time, sure, let me explain:
I think there are fundamental states of being we agree to / sign up to experience when we incarnate on earth. These fundamental states are the universal experience, experienced not just by humans, but by all life forms on earth (and on other planets, I’m sure!)
There are also fundamental lessons in incarnation as a human and experiencing a deep deprivation of one or more of these states, and a part of our spiritual goals may become to learn HOW to experience these states later on in life.
Love, for example. Everyone should experience love in some form or another. Not everyone does, sadly, and sometimes people learn how to love, or accept love in adulthood. Some people *struggle* with love, being loved, loving others. But whether one has experienced it or struggles with it, love is a defining state of being on earth. Your relationship with this state of being becomes pivotal in your life review (your total incorporation of you life’s choices and experiences into your lasting spirit consciousness.)
Anger. Again, we all experience it. We grapple with it. We learn from it.
Fear. Fear motivates, fear can paralyze and imprison. Fear can define entire lifetimes, whole generations, and great chunks of history.
Joy / Euphoria. Different from love. Some people chase euphoria their whole lives, and they find it in different places. I think that “god moments” fall under this category.
Compassion. Nurturance. We all experience it, and we are all faced with a lack of it in some way or another. It can define who we are and how we face life.
So far, these may look like simple emotional states, but emotion plays a more important role than I think is generally accepted. Extreme experiences can make us feel vulnerable, and so extreme emotions can be conflated with weakness. Which brings me to the next state:
Strength and Weakness. Nothing makes us feel our mortality more than weakness, regardless of the form. In our moments of great strength, we can feel indomitable! Nothing can stop us! Until it does. Then we feel weak again. If a guy like Carl can come on my podcast and talk about his moments of weakness – despite that weakness being during a time of recovery from an injury gained ON THE JOB, for him, it’s still weakness. That can still spark a downward spiral, a dark night of the soul.
What’s great though, is, Carl knows how to fight. So does his little dog, by the way. You guys are going to love Mr. President. Carl credits his little dog for helping him on his road to recovery, but I also think there’s a part in all of us that has to engage or give up. Sometimes if you’re going to engage, you *have to* fight. It feels like fighting. You have to dig, embrace that you don’t want to do this thing, and then do it anyway – whether it’s lift those weights for one more set, or fight against a mental illness, addiction, or cancer.
And this is not to disparage anyone who has fought and lost. We have all lost fights. That’s why they’re called fights – the stakes are high! You could lose. It’s part of life to fight and sometimes lose.
That’s what make me realize that Fighting is something we come here to do. We all have to. We grapple with it. We have to engage in fights sometimes. So embrace your fights. Channel the adrenaline that our bodies and brains give us for fights. If you get knocked down, or lose a fight, just raise your head enough to wink at that sign post on the road – that benchmark to greatness, because even in losing a fight, you’ve made it further along the road that you ever would have if you’d never tried.
And that, my friends, is the whole point, isn’t it? We’re not here for stasis. We’re here for change. For challenge. So let’s help each other as much as we can along the way, because everyone has to fight sometimes. Let us be thankful for our struggles; for each struggle is a teacher in our practice.
My Wonderful Blog Friends – Here’s to a good end for 2016, and to hope, energy, and unity in 2017!
Happy new year, darling! We appreciate that some years deserve the bum!
(“deserve the bum” has a few dirty meanings)
I know it’s been a rough year for so many. What would you like to say about it?
You must never give up hope. We’re going through the cycle again – (shows me the current culture is reviving a lot of the sentiment and ideals from mid 1950s, which was a time most people considered modern and progressive.) Yet it’s so backwards, people see what they want to see. They don’t see others or themselves for how they are, they see what they idealize. That’s wonderful, in many ways. Dreaming is important.
Action is just as important.
Not more important than dreaming?
Without dreams, how can you imagine all possible action? Art is important. Thought is important. This is why we thought LSD was such a revolution at the time – it created thoughts and “expanded the mind” in ways that would never have been possible. We didn’t have the internet, you’ll remember. (He’s teasing.) We (back in the 70s) believed in the magic of imagination. If you could dream it, you could create it – if your thoughts were limited by everything you’d been taught and seen in your lifetime, your dreams would be limited. It was sad, at times; alarming as well.
We believed – foolishly – that if everyone could just experience the psychological and imaginative power of LSD, it would free the mind, free the imagination, to never-before-dreamed-of possibilities! It’s was part of the revolution.
Of course, it didn’t work like that!
Yeah, I can appreciate the line of thinking through. We still see that. Imagine, visualize the life you want, the world you want, and you can create it.
Well, you’re one step closer to creating it. (Shows me shoveling dirt from a trench.)
What do you mean?
It’s like excavating new channels for the mind. Creating new shapes for the thoughts to flow! Canals for the imagination! (Big grin.)
Digging holes in the brain? Are we talking about LSD again?
(laughs, takes a deep drag on a cigarette he suddenly has, and I smell the sharp smoke. Now John has solidified in my mind, he’s lazing back on a chaise lounge, it’s white, with a battered, worn feeling, but perfectly clean. It’s in a loft apartment with wide industrial windows nearly to the ceiling. It’s a large room but feels intimate. There’s a plush red patterned carpet under the chase longue, and I worried for a moment about the ash burning it as John ashes into a ridiculously massive crystal ash tray on the floor. The room is somehow opulent and sparse; stark and cozy at the same time.)
No, love, we aren’t talking of LSD at the moment. I thought we were talking of imagination! Imagining things is hard work – don’t underestimate it. There is heavy lifting in the excavation of the mind! Just ask any artist!
(Thinking of Sweetie) I know. What do you think the role of artists is right now? In the year 2017, in the context of the future’s history? Can you see that?
(Laughs and takes another drag.) That’s quite a creative question! (He gives me a rhyme / limerick that I don’t quite get – something like “… all the fun, an artist’s work is never done!”) Art will always serve the same purpose – art never dies, it never disappears, though it may have to go underground. You can’t stop it, can’t eliminate it – which is why art is so useful in protesting the established regimen! (significant look.) Remember I was alive during Nixon.
Apparently I need to do more research about Nixon. I don’t know too much about him, I haven’t been that interested.
Well let’s put it this way, darling. It would behoove all of you to become VERY interested in former President Nixon. He’s playing all the tricks from the same hat. (President Trump’s leadership will mirror Nixon’s in many ways.)
(John stands up on a podium, as though speaking over the heads of a large crowd, points his finger directly up in the air and projects his words:) An educated mind is not easily led!
Oh! And art can be used to educate others, obviously.
It’s just communication, another form of speaking to your fellow human. Art is a way of whispering to people who don’t wish to listen. Who would rather deny. If you can’t get them through the ears, get them through the eyes, or the heart! Most people have a heart. Most people!
Is art – (before I even finish typing the question he breaks in with a very forceful statement-)
YES art is the ESSENTIAL form of resistance. It’s the IDEAL form of resistance! What are concerts without songs? What are marches without signs? What is a movement without art? Just a bunch of people, milling about like cattle! (He laughs kindly.) The best / most exciting thing about art is that *everyone* can participate. Must participate. SHOULD participate! With love, remember. With Hope.
And Happy New Year, darling Kate. (He’s giving me a flirty little eye twinkle.)
Thank you for popping in John. Happy New Year to you. And Happy New Year to all my beautiful blog friends!
For some of you, this title will be a bit of an exaggeration of your state of mind or where you are in your life. For others, life is in such a rapid swing of change that you’re self-editing the word “dumpster fire” into the sentence.
Wherever you are on the “How am I supposed to live my life’s purpose while all of this is going on?!” spectrum, this post is for you.
Y’all know I like to question commonly-held truths in the new age community. One of those truths is, if you’re living your life’s purpose, if you’re on track, you have a sense of peace and satiety most of the time. Many believe that if you’re feeling frustrated, limited, hampered, or sidelined in life, it’s because you are doing something wrong. That you’re not living your life’s purpose.
That’s a super-scary thought. It’s another way of saying you’re *wasting your life*.
Okay, sometimes when I’m cleaning house for the millionth time, I may mutter to myself, “I cannot be meant to be scrubbing this toilet right now.”
We all have that relationship with chores. If you enjoy scrubbing your toilet, please email me with your toilet-scrubbing mantra, so that I too can enjoy the zen bliss of a creating a fresh and sanitary vessel for my family’s bodily waste. I have *tried* toilet scrubbing meditations – I do not, thus far, recommend folding spiritual practice into a dirty chore. I have also yet to see an online course on self-hypnosis to love daily drudgeries. There’s a market niche for you there! Go for it! I will learn from you!!!
More than the daily maintenance of our physical bodies – the feeding and caring of these vessels that can be enjoyable, but can also feel burdensome, life sometimes throws us events that completely separate us from the track we have laid out for ourselves. Or maybe we’ve had to abandon that path because we have family to care for, or bills to pay, or medical mysteries to investigate.
When life throws us a curve ball, we want to ask “What the HELL is that all about!?” and we want to ground that event in a deep spiritual meaning for our overall life.
We want to incorporate it into our Life’s Purpose.
Here’s the thing.
Incarnation is complex. We are given these marvellous bodies, created from organic elements of the earth, and occupied by our spiritual consciousness, our energetic selves. When we take the leap into a lifetime, when we (re)incarnate into a body, most of us have SOME idea of what we want to accomplish.
As I discussed in the podcast episode on Planners, Wingers and Rafters, that life plans can vary from a detailed script of life events, to a loose outline or checklist that leaves a lot of room for exploring and adaptation, or a single line, motto or word.
What we can’t plan for is what is going to actually happen once we’re locked into these fabulous biological miracles we call bodies.
Everyone, no matter how detailed the life plan, is subject to the random and rapid change that happens here on earth. We can’t just snap ourselves out of it, either, like we can in spirit. That’s actually WHY we incarnate, because the stakes are so high here. We’re invested. We *have to* live through it.
Honestly, that’s why incarnating here on earth isn’t a popular choice. There are many other planets and life forms out there – my conversation with Pinky is one of my favourites. I only have to *glance* at that blog post to remember the vividness of that conversation – the largeness of Pinky’s hands, the slow deliberation of his/her movements, the communion s/he experiences with other life on the planet, the sheer massiveness and density of life on that planet compared to here.
There are life forms where incarnation does not feel as isolating, where we don’t forget as much about our spiritual selves and our past lives. Earth is one of the few crazy planets where we can actually *forget* who we are.
So those of us incarnated here, now, who have an awareness that we go on after life, and who, like me, spend time thinking about, focusing upon, and working towards fulfillment of their life plan, it’s beyond frustrating when life throws you a curve ball that restricts your abilities! But it happens to ALL of us, and it happens in different ways to different people. Accidents, misfortune, bad luck.
We can feel “held back”. It can inspire anxiety if you start thinking, “Oh my god, am I just treading water here? Am I wasting my life?”
No you’re not. Here’s the thing:
The problem with life plans is we can never fully plan or anticipate the random effects of incarnation. I’m not just talking about free will, which does have a huge impact – I’m talking about the random life events that can delay, distract or even endanger us.
This is the whole reason we have Spirit Guides, and spirit helpers / teachers through our lifetime. We cannot make it through our lives on luck alone. We need some angels, some spirit friends pulling for us – especially while we are children!
Sometimes, something will happen in life that creates a timeline we didn’t intend to create. I see this most often with an unintended / unplanned death. This happens. We can’t control for all the random factors. When something feels so wrong, wrong on a fundamental level, wrong in a way that inspires feelings of betrayal and anger at god, well, you feel that way for a reason.
Maybe it wasn’t a part of the deal.
Life plans are often talked about as “contracts with god”. I first read about this term in one of Sylvia Browne’s books, but I’m not sure if she coined that idea. I don’t think she did, actually, but she did make it a popular idea. It’s a very useful idea, too. You’ve agreed to take on these duties and challenges in your life, and to do your best, and you can’t change your contract with god, nor can god renege on providing the support you need to cope with these challenges.
There is a reason why, in the wake of a health crisis, or a great loss, we may find ourselves wrestling with anger, or an overwhelming *knowing* that this is wrong.
Sometimes things happen that weren’t planned. Sometimes it feels wrong because it is wrong.
And we have to make the best of it. They, our spirit friends, our family in spirit, and “god” helps us to move forward, when something unexpected and unplanned derails our Life Plan.
So what about our life’s purpose then?
Did you notice that “Life Plan” is different from “Life Purpose”?
We see this in the wake of a tragic, unplanned death. A few years after a high school friend of mine died in a motorcycle accident, he came to visit Sweetie and I on Christmas day. We had a lovely conversation with him. He showed me his spirit standing over his body where it had been thrown after his bike hit an oncoming truck – because he’d fallen asleep. His spirit, standing over his dead body, was expressing “Oh no! Oh shit! What happened! I’m dead! Oh no!!!”
All those who knew him felt the wrong-ness of his death. It was wrong. It was an accident.
Well, our friend’s spirit grandmother took him by the hand, let him have his processing time, and then helped guide him into his next incarnation – on a spiritual level, his own sister – her higher self – agreed to have one additional child. She would raise two children, instead of one. And the one child who was waiting to incarnate as the sister’s first and only child, agreed to wait another couple of years so that our friend could step in and become the first child, so he could take his life plan into a new lifetime, as his own nephew.
This is how we adapt, spiritually. Maybe things aren’t meant to happen, but they do happen, and retroactively, our spirit friends and the universe at large, helps us to form a new timeline, helps us to make it “meant to be” retroactively.
Bearing that in mind…
I think that ALL of us run into unexpected and unplanned challenges in life. We hit against restrictions our higher self, our spirit self, could not conceive of as being a problem. This is *why* we incarnate, because as spirits, we love to forget how random life can be!
In spirit, we simply create what we need, instantly. That’s why a lot of us call it Heaven. Want to visit your great aunt Ruth? BANG! You’re there! And you’ve gone back in time to visit ancient Rome, just because it’s a fun spirit vacation!
What we can’t create in spirit is exactly this – the things we struggle with and against in physical bodies. Our limitations, our vulnerability, our very mortality.
This very struggle is an important part of our Life’s Purpose.
It may not be what you planned, but it is in the user agreement.
If we have expansive spirits, if we have enthusiastic and ambitious spirits, we tend to set up and PLAN very challenging lives! We sometimes forget to allow for the limitations that come with mortality!
That’s why we can feel so impatient with ourselves. Sometimes our life plans, our ambitious ideas of what we wanted to accomplish while we are incarnated, are not always lived out exactly in the way we planned or intended. I think that the more ambitious we are in spirit – the more likely we are to bump up against our restrictions!
Sometimes – if our spirit is truly masochistic (not in a self-hating way, in a shoot for the stars deal with the consequences as we go kind of way) we will come in programmed for *incredible* ambition that is *constantly* driving us! Remember that ambition may not be specific! You might just have planned to travel as far / fast as possible in whichever direction you choose! You may be a Winger who is insanely enthusiastic and optimistic in spirit!
And that’s good! It can bite you in the butt sometimes, but it’s still good!
That’s also why we feel so deeply, spiritually, conflicted when it seems our reality has thrown a wrench into our plans!
But, I’m supposed to be doing deep huge massive changing helping transformative work! Why the heck am I stuck here? What good is this? What is the point of this? What am I supposed to be learning that I’m not getting? How can I move PAST this already!? Why am I cleaning this toilet AGAIN!?
Do you understand what I’m saying here?
Did you ever have a conversation with your own higher self, or with god, that went something like this:
WHAT THE HECK WERE YOU THINKING!!!??? WWWWHHYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!??????? ADRIAAAAAANNNN!!! (Erik popped in for that Rocky quote – I had to go read the context of it and WOW is it appropriate! Thanks E!)
Yeah, me too! And maybe, like me, you like to try and create elaborate plans for your future – because planning helps to control the crazy randomness of this incarnation ride!
Here’s the thing: Even if you are not exactly where you thought you’d be in the map of your life plan, you can still, and you can *always* live your Life’s Purpose.
After all, part of the whole point of life, part of our very purpose in incarnation is to actually figure out HOW to cope with physical life as we live it!
Never forget, especially if you feel life is especially hard in this moment, that not only is life supposed to be hard sometimes, and we signed up to deal with the unexpected, but we are supposed to adapt, refocus and get creative with our resources where we are – wherever we find ourselves. Whatever hardship, whatever pain, whatever frustration – we still have purpose, we always have something to offer.
So how do you re-center yourself when you feel like you’ve been knocked off track?
First, and most importantly: forgiveness.
This is not easy. It can take years! Don’t worry, you can work on forgiveness *while* you work on the next steps too. Just understand that forgiveness is often done in stages, over many years, sometimes over lifetimes. You may need to forgive someone who betrayed or hurt you, you may even need to forgive yourself! Anger and grief can be all-consuming – they can steal far too much of your energy – energy you could be directing at something positive, something that will make you happier, something that will uplift others and yourself. Don’t let judgement, or a grudge, occupy any more of your life than is reasonable. Feel your feelings like crazy – and then gently, over time, work on forgiving.
Here’s another sneaky thing that happens: if you have a lot of emotion that’s racketing around your body like a squirrel in a cage, that emotion will find outlets in anger, resentment, judgment and frustration. If there’s some forgiving you need to be doing, avoiding looking at those issues that require your attention and forgiveness will cause your emotions to lash out in other parts of your like. Family stress could turn into anger towards coworkers. Judgment against yourself might lead to resentment of your own friends!
For so many of us, we need to forgive ourselves our own mortality. Our own physical limitations. Do you know how many times over the years I’ve heard from people – blog friends, clients, friends and family members – that if only they could – if only they needed less sleep, if only they could resolve this chronic illness, if only this injury would heal, if only this PTSD would relent – if only we weren’t so darn HUMAN we could finally go about our life plan full-throttle!
Mortality is not easy. The stakes are very high, and our world is hazardous. Coping with reality is part of our work! We get injuries and illnesses which *we did not plan for*. Yeah, that’s a controversial statement in the new age / spiritualist community. I’m saying it, though! A lot of things happen for a reason, but not *everything* happens for a reason. I just don’t think so. I’m open to discussion on this point, though, if you’d like to comment.
Our bodies are beautiful, fragile, and prone to error! Our genes carry the memories and traumas of our ancestors. Our food carries the chemical and energetic signature of our culture. All this adds up – we need rest, we get injured – or we just get *tired*.
I burned out three times before I was 30 years old. I get *tired*, man! I drive myself! My spirit is ambitious, I am blessed with the support of loving friends and family. But yeah, I struggle. I’m always trying to be better, to do more.
That is part of the point!
If you scroll back through the blog entries since I started writing here in 2012, you’ll see me chronical all sorts of challenges, and you’ll see me document all the ways I hit up against my limits. Financial limits. Physical limits.
There is only so much we are capable of doing, our limits are unique to ourselves, and how we calibrate ourselves physically is not *entirely* within our own control.
If I had complete control over the physical manifestation of my body, there are a few choice physical things I’d change – but mostly I would change my energy, my need for rest. My spirit just wants to be *doing something spiritually productive* all the time!
But my physical body needs a clean toilet. It needs to be fed and rested. Sheets need changing, food needs cooking, and I my soul needs downtime to connect with my Sweetie and my friends here in town. My consciousness needs respite from my physical body too – honestly, I think that’s why I sleep so much! (And by “so much” I mean an average of 9 hours a night, more than the average adult, but consistent since my teens. If I could choose, I’d sleep maybe an hour a day. A nap.)
I find that on my personal forgiveness list, I have to consistently work on the judgments I make of myself. It’s a side-effect of having high expectations of yourself.
You know that phrase, “Shoot for the moon – if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”? Well some of us keep on rocketing frantically around the cosmic map of our life plans, forever striving to thread the needle of hitting that one tiny moon amidst this whole glorious wonder of a universe!
And so many of us try to do it alone.
There’s where our Life’s Purpose comes in.
We may have life plans – whether that plan is a 50lb atlas of a mission, a page-long manifesto, or a single motto of spiritual truth, we all have something we’re trying to do here.
And we all have opportunities around us to adapt and shift. We aren’t alone, spazzing around in the stars. Take a look around you. Take a look at your internet community, (I love you guys!) and your physical community (I love my home!) You will find ENDLESS opportunities to adapt your life plan.
Sometimes, your opportunity is to simply face your challenges with as much determination and grace as you can muster. Sometimes, you’re meant to reach out for help, to build connections you will understand better as the years pass. Sometimes, you’re meant to answer a call for help – you’ll feel that impulse.
Sometimes, you’re meant to be brave, and live through something you never thought you’d have to deal with.
Your life plan sometimes ends up in your back pocket – and that’s okay – because your life’s PURPOSE is all around you, it’s just outside, it’s in your friendships – current and future – it’s in your community – it’s in that day job – it’s even found at the bottom of a clean toilet. In the dirty dish you managed to wash. In the eyes of your pet. In the words of a text sent to a friend or stranger.
Your life plan is *waiting for you to adapt*. If you’re in a boat and you’ve been blown off course, you have to keep moving forward anyway. Even in uncharted waters, you have the choice to float or to direct your motion. Your spirit friends will help you figure it out – but you have to get on with living your life’s purpose – which is to live your life! Your precious, limited, fragile, mortal life!
We spiritualists, us new age-y folks, we can get so focused upon our life plan that we find ourselves questioning the spiritual value of activities which truly fill our lives with joy. Family traditions. Entertainment (like the choir Sweetie and I attended! HOLY COW it was amazing!) Doctor’s appointments. (My own went fine, thanks to those who have asked. No answers yet, I’ve been referred to the next specialist down the line.)
We re-discover our life’s purpose in this: Happiness.
Allow yourself to be gently guided by happiness. Question the urgency offered to you by others. Question spiritual ultimatums which ask for payment (in work or money) in exchange for fulfillment – unless the payment truly brings you happiness.
We can’t do *everything* because, you know, we’re incarnated. We have freaking limits! That is part of the point! So we *have to make choices.*
Spiritually, every choice we make ripples outward. It affects other people. We get to see those affects in our life review! But you don’t have to spend too much time worrying about that right now. Your life review is not *only* about your contribution to a worldwide momentum. Generally, it’s about incorporation of the entire experience into our energetic / spiritual consciousness. Often, it’s used as motivation for your NEXT life plan! Incarnation can be quite a rabbit-hole.
There is a reason our life includes paying bills, sleeping, and scrubbing toilets. All of those activities are just as much a part of your life, whether you’re in survival mode – or thrive mode.
I’m totally in thrive mode, you guys. I’m doing this psychic thing, and I’m also working at the hospital doing a good job there. I’m also helping people as much as I can through the union. I’m also visiting with friends pretty regularly, and calling my Dad as often as possible.
If I were to pick just one thing to focus on in my life, if I quit my job and my union, if I hired a housekeeper and stopped scrubbing my toilets, if I did *nothing else* but blog and teach and provide sessions and promote myself – well my business would grow for sure, but I don’t think I’d be living my life’s purpose any more.
I actually think I’d be living it a bit less. I’d be narrowing my life, limiting my routine. I don’t think I’d be taking advantage of the full spectrum of my life.
Even if you’re a planner, you have to learn to wing it a bit.
Here are some Foundations for Living your Life’s Purpose, regardless of the flaming tatters your life plan may be in:
1. Stabilize yourself with routine. It’s grounding! I have so much to say about routines. This might seem counter-intuitive, but hear me out.
Your routine can be flexible, but the idea is to make some decisions about daily activities just once, and then stick to that, instead of using energy to make the same decisions every day. Even people at war can find strength and comfort in the routine of meals, of comradeship, of letters from home. If you have a waking up and going to bed routine, a cleaning routine, a socialization routine, an annual routine of traditions that brings you opportunities to look forward to life, hold on to and nurture the routines that serve you. Routine helps you to cope with adversity, and help you to conserve energy that might be better employed directed at your life’s purpose, rather than solving the myriad of little life logistics that pop up and need managing. The *idea* of routines may seem restrictive, but really, routines let you be proactive about your needs, which frees up a lot of energy. It’s the energetic equivalent of “a stitch in time, saves nine.”
Personally, I try to do an evening cleaning routine, lay out my clothes for the next day, set my coffee in the evening, and set reminders for tasks I need to do in the morning, which I’m likely to forget in the fog of waking up. All these little things bring me peace of mind, conserves my energy, and ultimately gives me more opportunities to help others because my routine actually gives me freedom. I don’t run out of food because I food prep routine makes sure I have some meal flexibility, so I am able to impulsively help a friend without sacrificing healthy eating for the week.
So much of my routine includes the background beauty of where I life, and the people I work with. My commute to the hospital is through a freaking national park! My gardening routine involves regular encounters with deer. This is so very different from my Toronto routine that involved a lot of stress, long hours, and crowds.
If you *hate* your current routine, like I did in Toronto, then focus your energy on your long-term goals. More on that later. I really need to do a blog post about how moving can shift your whole life, I’ll make a quick mention of it now: You don’t even have to move out of town to get the shift you need. If you feel stuck, consider how moving house, moving in with a roommate or out on your own, to a new town or a new country – how moving can bring the changes you need to your routine. This is rooted in energy work and I’m actually covering a lot of it in the class / course material I’ve been working on for three years (sheesh!)
2. Explore new things. Even if you love every aspect of your life, we have a fundamental need to learn and explore. Growth brings ENDLESS opportunities to live your life’s purpose. No matter what is going on, there is nearly always an opportunity to learn something new. New things bring you in contact with new people, too! One of the most enjoyable things about my routine, aside from the sanity and comfort it brings to my life, is the opportunity to break with routine once in a while, which is invigorating!
3. Take care of your body. This folds into your routine. If you neglect yourself, if you regularly wear the same washed-out hoodie that you slept in the night before, if you never change your sheets, scrub your toilet or prepare nourishing food, you simply cannot live your life’s purpose. At the very least you’ll put a ticking clock on your abilities to do so, before you burn out just like I did! Do everything you reasonably can to take care of yourself. Be honest about and accepting of your body’s needs.
4. Take care of your spirit and your state of mind. Pessimism is a warning sign. We feel pessimistic about our future and other people when we’re burnt out, or we have neglected our spiritual or emotional needs. Sometimes we’re in survival mode, but even then we can try to take care of our spirits. I often think of Nelson Mandela. If he could take care of his own spirit and state of mind for THIRTY YEARS, I can cultivate my own optimism and strength of spirit too, no matter what. I almost made this point #1, however I’ve found that if I address my routine, my need for new experiences and my the needs of my physical body, my spiritual care and my state of mind becomes a LOT easier.
5. Set goals. Nothing will help you ground into your life’s purpose than setting a series of goals. Some goals may be lofty and long-term, but be sure you set some that are enjoyable and easy to achieve. My short-term goals have been as simple reviewing a list of things I want to accomplish in the week, and mentally going over a day’s to do list in the morning as I wake up. This helps ground me into the fulfillment of living my actual day to day life! I like to use a bullet journal to keep tabs on all the moving parts of my routine (ensuring I go to the dentist, the optometrist – and that Sweetie goes as well!) as well as my long-term goals. My short-term goals may be easy, but tracking them allows me to *feel* the accomplishment.
The Bullet Journal also helps me to plan out my life up to a year in advance, so I can make progress on the book / class I’ve been writing, and so that I actually get to take time off to visit with friends, family, and enjoy the summer. I *love* the bullet journal method for helping me make decisions on how I’m going to spend my time, while managing my responsibilities. It helps me to pull all the threads into one place and decide how and when I’m going to put energy into what is important to me, where I am in life. I find that I almost never accomplish a goal within my ambitious timelines, but as long as I continue to track it, I DO get things done!
6. Enjoy yourself. As much as I’m a fan of self-discipline and routine, I like to take advantage of impulse too. Maybe I drop in on a friend for a visit instead of cooking that dinner I planned. Maybe Sweetie and I decide to go to Nanaimo for a change of scene instead of cleaning the house. Maybe I choose to enjoy my food, instead of worrying or judging myself if I don’t eat “clean” all the time. One year, I stuck to a diet so restrictive I achieved an “off the rack” body – meaning I could literally look fantastic in almost anything for sale in stores. I remember it as the year of endless compliments that felt strange and unfamiliar, but mostly I remember it as the year I had no chocolate around Christmas, no Turkey for thanksgiving, and no ice cream that summer. Life is short. I could do a lot more sessions in a year if I never took time off to enjoy myself. I could accomplish a lot more for the hospital and the union if I didn’t prioritize time with my Sweetie, or commit to my self-care routine. But these are the things which revitalize me.
7. Release perfection.
My goodness, I do go on, don’t I? Thank you for sticking with it. I truly hope this has been helpful to you.
I thought you guys would appreciate this.
While Canada has a reputation for “free universal healthcare”, every actual Canadian will want to explain to you how it’s not actually free. We pay for it with our income taxes (in some provinces we even get a separate bill for healthcare, though, it’s not nearly as high as what I’ve seen insurance rates cost in the US), there’s a lot that isn’t covered (medication, dental, and eye care) and for what is covered, if it’s not a dying-right-now screaming-in-pain emergency, you have to wait for it. It can take a long time to get a test, or an appointment with a specialist. It’s a better system, but it’s not a perfect health care utopia.
I think I have bladder angels, helping me to navigate this process. The last time the urologist was in town, (he comes here four times per year) even though I was told it would be a three-month wait, he had a cancellation and was able to get me in on the one day in three months he was going to be in town. Cool, right?
He then fired off requests for more diagnostic tests, and the waiting would begin again. The wait for one test, happening tomorrow, was *four months long*. The plus side though, is my need for this test isn’t considered “urgent”.
It does take a whole day, and I might need another day for recovery, depending on how well I tolerate the process. What’s really cool is what just happened:
The urologists’ office called and they had *another* cancellation. I can get a second procedure completed just before I get the first test! I get a two for one tomorrow, which is great, because each appointment is a whole day’s project – a trip into town, time at the hospital, and the time spent trying not to worry about it.
In talking with the urologist’s receptionist, she said, “Wow, that never happens! People ask for it all the time! We’ll be sure to have you out in time for your second appointment.”
Lucky me. I must have bladder angels… and really nice people sending me lots of love. Through sheer luck and providence, I think I’ve already had my wait time reduced by six months.
Thank you for that.
I thought I’d give you folks a kitten break, and an update on the Boys. For those who are new readers, first of all, WELCOME J and here’s the background on the kittens:
Back in 2013, I said goodbye to my Very Special Boy, Leo. I found Leo at the North Bay Humane Society in 1999, as a 1 year old stray (who was either lost or abandoned after a move – he was always incredibly stressed by boxes and cars. He was the only cat I ever met who didn’t like boxes.) Leo was with me through relationships, through cross-province and cross-country moves, all through my 20s and into my 30s.
We love all of our animals, of course. That’s a given. But there are *very special ones* who seem to connect with us on a deeper level. Leo was that for me. When he died, I felt like I’d lost a limb, and I also felt like I immediately wanted him to come back… But Leo would have to wait. Sweetie and I needed to sort ourselves out, move to better, more stable housing, and stabilize our income. I kept the possibility open for Leo, and I half-expected to see him being given away on a street corner one day. I would see pregnant cats in the neighbourhood and my heart would leap – maybe Leo will be there!
But I held back in actively pursuing it. If Leo really wanted to come back *before* I had all my ducks in a row, he’d have to put himself right in my path. I wasn’t going to go kitten shopping. So I waited.
Meanwhile, ever since 2012, we’d been awaiting the arrival of another special kitten: my Sweetie’s childhood cat Snowball.
Snowball was a white cat. During a conversation with Sunshine, our beloved female white cat who lived with us from 2007 until her passing last year, Sunshine talked a lot about needing a backup / replacement white cat who would take over *her* duties as a white cat in our house, and to Sweetie. This was the conversation when Sunshine said that Sweetie had made it a *condition of her incarnation* that she would have a white cat companion at all times.
It was then that Sweetie realized she had *indeed* had a white cat in her life for all of her life, except when she went to university and was unable to take Snowball with her. (He promptly died after she left home so he could be with her in spirit, until he could come back to her in body. Sweetie always felt grief thinking Snowball died of a broken heart when she left home, but he simply, and cheerfully, transitioned so he could go with her.)
After that conversation in 2012, when Sunshine let us know there was a white kitten in waiting for us (with blue eyes, and I kept hearing the name “Mikey”, and I wondered at the time if this would be the name of a human involved.)
Sunshine was often strongly visual in her communication. She would share images and feelings, and sometimes words, more often than she would share human language or human-style thoughts. It’s what I love about animal communication, actually. It’s more usual for them to share the straight concepts, than translate it into human words – having said that, I HAVE encountered a rare few pets who have a near-complete grasp of the English language! We underestimate cats and dogs, I think.
So when Sunshine was communicating about this future white kitten, I would see a fluffy white kitten with blue eyes – like he had rolled right out of a Royale commercial. I would simultaneously hear the name “Mikey”, I would see a star-like dot of light, and I would also know with certainty this kitten was male. Then she would connect this kitten with Sweetie, (he is coming for her).
I know that when the timing is right, things happen very easily. This white kitten would have to wait, because at the time of this conversation with Sunshine, we still had four pets: Leo was still with us, we had both dogs, Mocha and Happy, and Sunny herself, of course. We were starting our coffee business and taking on a FIFTH pet seemed insane. So we waited.
YEARS later, it was finally time. While I’d kept an eye open for likely kittens falling into my path, what I really wanted for my Leo boy was a safe place for him to be born, where he would get the best possible treatment from Day 1. All of my pets had been rescued – which meant that although they were loving and wonderful, they all had memories of their lives before they came to us. For most of them, these memories didn’t affect their day to day life, but it impacted them when it came to vet visits, travel, moving, it even affected their dreams. Mocha had PTSD nightmares of being left tied outside the SPCA for years after I adopted her.
I didn’t want my Leo boy to have any traumatic experiences on his second journey to me. I wanted to *at least* know the owners of the mom cat. I wanted to mom cat to feel safe and be healthy, too, because mom cats teach their kittens how to feel about the world.
And, honestly, I wanted it to be easy. Sunshine was the only truly *easy* rescue I ever did. The day we brought her home, she waltzed out of that kennel like she had *arrived*. Mocha took six months to settle, and Happy – well, we did our very best for him and he never truly relaxed, ever, in his whole life.
In 2015, I said goodbye to my Mom, and I just didn’t have the *energy* to rescue. The thing I love about adopting rescued animals is it’s so satisfying and gratifying to watch their transformation. Leo unwound from a desperate-to-snuggle, muscles-atrophied-after-months-in-kennels klutz, to a relaxed, happy, goofy, incredibly affectionate companion. Mocha went from a tied-in-the-yard, didn’t even know how to sit, abandoned dog to the *very best* most impressively obedient in the dog park. I still miss Mocha. I’m not sure I’ll ever be blessed with a dog like her again. We’ll see.
Even Happy was a physical victory if not complete psychological success story. Happy was so emaciated when I got him, when I bathed him he looked like those horses look when the SPCA steps in and confiscates them.
Happy was also anorexic, so it was a challenge to even get him to eat.
With Mocha’s help, I had Happy in glowing, physical perfection within six months. He’s my most extreme physical rehab to date.
But all of them were a *lot* of work.
And after losing my mother in 2015, I just wasn’t up for it. I needed kittens. I needed to be cheered up. I needed the comic relief! (I still do!) And so it was finally, finally time to get serious about getting kittens.
You can read about our journey to Mikey and Rupert’s first mom, Tamsin, here. (Check out the previous entries too.)
It was glorious, and easy. I never had Leo as a kitten, and now that he is a year old, I’m recognizing a lot of his behaviours now that he’s a year old. A lot of his recognizable behaviour is because he is, once again, a big male cat with a body that gives him a laid-back temperament.
So much of an animal’s temperament is the result of the signals their body gives to them. Some animals are *super sensitive*. Happy was hyper-sensitive to all stimuli, and instantly reacted reflexively to sight, sound and touch stimulus. He almost couldn’t help it. Through the years, we were able to modify *much* of his reaction, but the cause never went away.
Leo was a big, Maine Coon cross, and now Mikey is a big Ragdoll. Surprisingly though, Mikey really doesn’t remember being Leo. He doesn’t talk about it. He doesn’t ask about Sunshine or Mocha. He knows me as “Mom” – a human who felt familiar and comforting when I picked him up from Tamsins, and with whom he bonded easily and deeply. He’s just as bonded to Sweetie this time around, and he *still* tries to nurse off her ear once in a while.
But Mikey, solid in his new body and the here-and-now doesn’t remember being Leo. He just acts a *lot* like Leo, and my spirit recognizes him. He *feels* familiar to me, just as I feel familiar to him.
Rupert, on the other hand, knows *exactly* who he is. So much so, his past life memories are so clear, it’s as though there was no separation between the cat he was as Snowball and the cat he is now, as Rupert.
Rupert’s self-awareness continues to amaze me. Once in a while, I fantasize about getting a shih-tzu puppy. (NOT going to happen any time soon, so don’t get excited! I do not have the time or energy for a puppy right now. I would need a *big* chunk of time off my hospital job and my business before I’d introduce a puppy into my life.)
Anyway, this fantasy did lead me so far as to research breeders, and I found one in Calgary who looks very good. (As I learned during the Wild Kitten Chase, just because a breeder has a good reputation doesn’t mean they ARE a “good” breeder… but it does further the fantasy at least!) I brought this breeder up on the laptop in the living room to show Sweetie.
“Hey, look at this breeder, honey. They’ve been breeding for x years, they have them socialized and potty trained before they release them to their homes –“
And I was interrupted by a long, LOUD Rupert howl.
Literally, Rupert shouting “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”
Sweetie and I were shocked – we’d NEVER heard him make a sound like that!
I asked him, “Rupert! What’s wrong?”
He started streaming me a mental visual slideshow. When a shihtzu came home, she had puppies. The dogs took over. Feeling of frustration, helpless, being displaced.
It was true that when Sweetie left home, her mother adopted a female shih-tzu, bred her once before spaying her, and kept one of the puppies. I was pretty sure I knew that already.
But then Rupert showed me himself, as a white cat, smacking the dogs who were getting in his space, and his smacks having no effect. Rupert (then Snowball) was forced to retreat when it should have been the DOG forced to back off. Rupert felt upset and displaced.
Sweetie then remembered, “Oh yeah. Mom got him declawed after she got the dogs. She was worried about him scratching the dogs.”
Bear in mind folks, this was 20 years ago. Declawing was not seen as cruel in that time, and it was often offered fairly standardly in vet clinics as a side-along procedure with the spay / neuter.
For Snowball, the dogs followed by the declaw led to his de-throne-ing. He never forgot it.
Rupert remembers it like it happened to HIM, as though his kitten form as Rupert was just a different-coloured coat he decided to put on. He is very much aware of every detail of his past life – to the point he reminds Sweetie of things she’d forgotten ever happened.
Which is really cool for me, from an animal communication standpoint. Nothing like getting really cool, verifiable, confirmations!
Yesterday, Mikey was laying on his side, dragging himself along the floor using his claws on the back of the couch to propel himself along. When he gets to the edge, he spins around and goes back the other way. This is something Leo used to do. Mikey doesn’t remember doing this, he just thinks it’s fun! Like the same idea occurred to him twice. Leo’s death and reincarnation as Mikey has been separated by a sort of spiritual amnesia. I think that’s what the vast majority of us have.
Mikey’s body has nothing to do with his past life – he is in no way related to himself in a past life. But sometimes pets – and people – *will* reincarnate along the same genetic lines, and in those cases, the animal’s new life behaviour can be influenced by spiritual memory and physical cell memory.
Their personalities can be influenced by an infinite variation of past life memories (or not) cellular / genetic memory and instinct, and the unique voice of the physical body they inhabit in this life.
I think the voice of Rupert’s current body must serve only to amplify his personality. He is such a character!
And Mikey is such a cuddly sweetheart.
So that’s the kitten update. I hope you enjoyed it!
EDIT: Sweetie posted this in the comments below, and it deserves to be part of the official post.
Rupert’s so funny. “It is like he’s the same cat in a different coat”. So true. I knew right away that he was the *right* cat, but it took a few weeks before I was convinced that he was the *same* cat. What convinced me was that one day when I was feeding them, I picked up on Rupert’s observations about the “new” feeding routine: He wondered why we didn’t have an electric can opener (we always had one when I was growing up, it was sort of his “dinner bell”). And he wanted the little white packets of moist kibble, the Tender Vittles. And when I mentioned it to you, you were like, “Oh, so that’s why I keep thinking about buying an electric can opener, even though I don’t want one! Rupert’s putting in an order!”
My mom’s also reminded me of what a dominant force Snowball was in the house. Snowball was actually born in the house, so I’d had him since Day 1. Just like Rupert, he made it clear that he was in charge from the moment he showed up. We had a large collie at the time Snowball was born, and when Snowball was a just a few weeks old he approached the dog, climbed up his mane, and clawed him on the nose with his tiny, white paw. The dog gave him plenty of space after that. I thought about that when Rupert began to explore the enclosure outside — and he promptly scaled his way to the top of it, and he attempted to separate the netted roof, and see if he could escape.
He also went fishing in our fairly large family fish tank (I don’t know gallons, it was probably 3″ long and 2″ deep). It had a glass top on it, but was partly open for air circulation. So he’d jump up on top of it and sit there, dip his paw in, and go fishing. One day he flipped a bunch of mollies out of tank like a bear fishing for salmon, and they were just laying on the carpet in front of the tank when we came home.
My mom’s also kept canaries for years. She had a bird cage on top of the fridge (I think she started keeping it there when we got a cat, for obvious reasons), and one day we came home, and there was Snowball — on top of the fridge — curled around the bird cage.
He used to regularly hunt mice as well, so it was a pretty normal thing to come come from school and find 2 or 3 eviscerated mice lined up on the walkway to the house.
To a large extent I think it’s normal cat behaviour, *but*, having had a few cats now I sort of get why you sometimes say that living with Rupert is like engaging in wildlife rescue. Because in spite of his very gentle personality he’s very willful, has a very active prey drive, and he’s super-smart. Sunshine was also very smart and willful, but even though she had regular access to the outdoors I never saw her *hunt* anything (although she would occasionally stalk and capture mice, birds, butterflies, and insects, she’d always let them go). Rupert is a different sort of cat, and Snowball was the *same* kind of different. I see a lot of behavioural confirmation. I sometimes wish we could let him fulfill his prey drive more because he figures out toys and games so quickly, it’s not always easy to keep him challenged.
Oh — right! So, he’s started making his *own* toys now by systematically tipping over the wicker laundry basket, and breaking little sticks off the basket to play with. He bats them around the floor, and when he gets tired of that he pushes the sticks *under* the closet door, to set up the secondary challenge of opening the closet door with his claws to retrieve them. I mean, how do you keep a cat like this engaged?? If I offer him a toy he’ll play with me for like 2 minutes just to humour me, then look at me like, “I know you’re moving that with your hand”. He’ll pin down the pole toys in 2 seconds, and then try to take the pole from me.
Mikey I’ve noticed always lays on his back, like Leo did, which I always thought was hilarious. And he’s taken to *bolting* out the door whenever he gets the chance, but it’s like a game for him: he runs as fast as he can, then stops when he’s out of reach. He wants to make a big stir, then get scooped up and carried back in the house. I saw Leo stir up the house lots of times too — he’d get his bushy tail on, then run around until Mocha would start barking at him to settle down. Or he’d scratch at the door after being outside for a while, then immediaely run under the deck when we opened the door. And he’d repeat the process until we got tired of listening to the scratching, and eventually put out boots on and went outside to collect him.
One other white cat story my mom told me: I was without a white cat between the ages of about 1 and 8 (when Snowball was born). I didn’t know I was waiting for one, but on some level I must have, because when I was a tiny child, like 2 or 3, I would always cry when the tissue commercials with the white kittens came on. *Every* time. I was like this super-sensitive, sentimental, highly emotionally-reactive little person. I wanted the white cats I ordered! And maybe all those fluffy white clouds made me homesick for Heaven. I don’t know — I don’t remember doing that, but my mom sure does.