A family of cat philanthropists

From tattered Medieval rags, Tudor ruffs and codpieces, to Victorian corsets and parasols, the kindred blood of my ancestors all have one common trend…..  Beside them is a cat… Probably secretly planning their demise.

A lot of behavioural footprints left by parents are filled with the steps of their children.

Children who see their parents smoke are more likely to smoke themselves. Fact.

Children who see their parents acting as cat philanthropists are more likely to become cat philanthropists themselves. Also fact.

I’m a cat philanthropist, and you can blame my parents, parents, parents, parents, parents, parents, parents, parents, parents, parents for it…..

There is a saying that a home without a cat is just a house.

I don’t believe this to be true. I’ve been in plenty of cat free homes and they feel just as homely as those with cats.

The only difference is, in a cat free home, the wafer thin ham in the fridge is for human consumption, and there is no ’emergency’ tin of tuna in the cupboard.

I do believe though that a cat lovers home without a cat is just a house. My parents home, the home where I spent my childhood is testament to that. My first cat was called Jaffa. He was the first family pet if you ignore Adam & the Ants, the collection of goldfish won at a fairground… They weren’t really pets and Adam ate all the Ants after a few days anyway, so basically it was just Adam the goldfish. Not much fun.

Jaffa was a beefy ginger tom.  Strong, obstinate, belligerent, cantankerous and intimidating…. All the qualities of a good cat. Quite late in Jaffa’s life, not long after his retirement, after he’d hung up the chain of his professional duties as Mayor of the cat council on our street, we had an addition to the family. Sox. My Sox.

The story of how Sox came to live with us is a remarkable example of fate working at it’s best. Sox was mine. And I was hers. I loved Jaffa whole heartedly, but Sox was the first cat I formed a profound beautiful bond with. No better illustrated than what happened the day she passed away.

Jaffa had taught me the basics of understanding the complexities of the feline mind, but Sox polished my skills to a level of expertise.

I always got the impression that Jaffa just tolerated my brother and I most of the time because we just happened to be already living in the house before his arrival.  He could see my parents were quite fond of us, so trying to rid them of us was probably quite futile.

Sox on the other hand was genuinely affectionate. A lady. We could sense each other’s mood  instantly. We knew when a tickle under the chin or a rub against the legs would make it all better,  or whether to stay the hell out of each other’s way.  I could tell from her meiow, her brrrt and her purr exactly what she wanted and needed, and she could tell from my tone exactly what I wanted and needed.

Some advice… never laugh at a cat. Cats have the amazing ability of knowing exactly when you are talking about them and in what context. It’s usually when they are fake sleeping. One ear is tilted in your direction, one of their eyes is ever so slightly open and the tail is delicately swishing at the tip. Classic neuron receptor pose.

Don’t be fooled, as to the untrained eye, this looks like a normal sleeping cat. Behind the scenes though, there is a hive of activity. Their brain is processing everything you are saying and filtering anything they can use at any given date in the future into a long-term memory bank. It’s the part of a cats brain called the “Infinite recall lobe”.

Think twice before you regale the amusing story of when the cat stretched and fell off the back of the chair.. If it’s in earshot, it will know you’ve told. By earshot, I mean if your cat is within a ten mile radius of you, it will know you’ve told.

This is why a content purring cat will suddenly lunge at your unsuspecting hand as if someone has just screamed “Chaaaaarge” in it’s ear.. She’s just remembered that November last year you stepped on her tail accidentally when you went to the toilet in the middle of the night. She saw it as no accident.

A cat wouldn’t tell you if your skirt was tucked in your knickers, or you had toilet paper stuck to your shoe, but would surprise you with a bunch of flowers and a bottle of wine when you’ve had a bad day.

A cat won’t text or return your calls for weeks, but will then turn up at your house unannounced for a coffee and a gossip….. and not mention the 17 missed calls and 36 texts she’s ignored of yours.

A cat keeps you guessing.

A cat is the best pet in the world.

I like. I don’t. I am. Me. Who?

I like the morning. I dislike the afternoon.  I like to wake up early in the mornings, even on weekends.

I like sleeping with the curtains open so I can see outside when I wake up. I like the first full body stretch of the day. I dislike lights on in the house in the daytime. I like the moon and a clear night sky.

I like afternoon naps. I like being so tired that I can’t keep my eyes open. As long as it’s at a time when sleep is appropriate. And not dangerous.

I like running in the rain. I like pushing myself further each time. I like the dull ache of my muscles in the days after exercise. I like showers. Not baths.

I like it when my cats purr, and the little “brrrrt” noise they make when I’ve disturbed them from their sleep.

I like whisky. Neat. Always neat. Single Malt. I like red wine over white. I like it when I go to the bar of a pub and my drink is poured without the need to ask for it. That’s familiarity.

I like it when friends know how I take my coffee without needing to ask me. That’s also familiarity. I know that I make this awkward for my friends because I alternate between black coffee, and white coffee. Sometimes with sugar, sometimes without.

I like black tea, but I’ll only ever drink tea with milk in if I’m ill. Then I like sweet weak tea. Not milky. Weak. There’s a difference.

I like it when friends text me for no other reason than just to say hello, or how are you?. I like that they’re thinking of me when they don’t have to. I dislike it when I don’t get replies to texts I’ve sent. Especially if I’ve asked a question. Although I know I’m guilty of that myself.

I like a plan as long as it’s not a definite plan.  I like last-minute decisions. Usually made by someone else. I don’t make bad decisions, but I’m not good at making any decisions. I can’t make lists, but I admire people who can. I can be on time when I need to be, but more often than not, I’m late. Sometimes through choice. Maybe always through choice.

I like that I still have strong friendships from school in my adult life. I now understand the depth of childhood friendships. I know I didn’t appreciate that when they were formed all those years ago.

I like mashed parsnip. Ridiculous considering I loathe potatoes cooked that way. I detest them so much, that I can’t bring myself to write the words together. I like that people who know this about me avoid saying it. The thought of it repulses me. Maybe it’s a phobia. Either way it’s weird.

One of my favourite childhood books is ‘The Clown of God’. Truly amazing book, but clowns now unnerve me. The film ‘IT’ is to blame for that. Or rather Pennywise is to blame for that. Ultimately Stephen King is to blame for that.

I like black & white films. Especially ‘Goodbye Mr Chips’. I dislike horror films. I still re-read all my Roald Dahl books. I like reading books I read as a child. I like reading new books.

I like the smell of petrol but I dislike putting petrol in my car. I like the smell of a pipe and the noise of a drink being poured. I like the noise of gravel crunching. I dislike whistling and the noise of metal scraping against metal. I like open fires especially when they crack and pop.

I like playing with the magnetic poetry words my friends have on their fridge in their house. I like that those friends feel like my family.

I like Thursday night tea with my parents, and Sunday dinners at their house when everyone is there. Especially in the summer. I like playing in the garden afterwards with my niece and nephew. I like watching them grow up. I dislike the speed at which that is happening.

I like coincidences. I like serendipity. I like things I can’t explain. I dislike not being able to explain them. If only to myself. I like instinct. Gut instinct. I’m learning to trust mine more.

I like it when I solve a problem I had, or someone else’s for them. I like learning something new. I like trying something new. I like creating. I like creating memories and then cherishing them.

I like history. I like looking at really old photos of my family despite not knowing who most of them are. I like hearing stories about them. I like trying to imagine the world they lived in, and what they’d think of mine.

I like that I can usually acknowledge my faults. But I dislike them. All of them. I dislike that I don’t always see my strengths. I like the fact that those close to me can see them when I can’t.

Stop Thinking!!!!

OK.

I’m in the first chapter of The Master System. A chapter devoted to thoughts, improvements through the quality of your thoughts. Understanding the natural power of your thoughts…and I failed.

Two days in to a 24 week goal and I failed.

Details aren’t important now, but suffice to say by 6pm yesterday, I was frustrated, irate, irked, vexed, and you can probably drop a little anger into the mix too..

So.. What to do? Think positively?.. I tried.. I really tried. I couldn’t.

My frustration grew. I knew this was no good. It wasn’t constructive but I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. Then came guilt over failing to stop thinking about it. Then came more frustration from feeling guilty. Then more guilt…Classic pink elephant syndrome.. Don’t think about a pink elephant….Ah bugger…

My thoughts were raging. My thoughts were feral, they hissed and spat at me every time I approached them in an attempt to tame them.

I couldn’t control them… But I was aware of them. My guilt was over my inability to stop them, but then I remembered my awareness of them. I was beating myself up over nothing..Awareness of them is having some control over them… So I made a decision….

I allowed them in…. I welcomed them, I shook hands with them and told them I was pleased to have them and to make themselves comfortable…. I lulled them into a false sense of security. I told them they could stay as long as they wanted…I joked with them, I played games with them, then I told them to go wait in the car and I’d be there in a minute… All of a sudden I fancied a night in…

I can still hear them beeping from time to time, but I can’t quite make out what they are saying.. I’m sure they’ll get the message soon though.

Regardless of the fact it was now 2am and I’d tossed and turned and found the cold side of the pillow 7 times, it had worked.

I hadn’t failed after all… It was a triumph. I was a triumph. I’d just flicked through the brochure of my mind and stopped at the pages I wanted. I’d just controlled my mind! I’m a mind controlling genius… A little optimistic there maybe…. but, I’m going to be good at this…

I’m going to be great…

Charles Haanel – The Master Key System

I don’t remember how I stumbled upon this book, but reading the blurb on the back compelled me to buy it. It read…

The Master Key System is one of the finest studies in self-improvement and higher consciousness ever written…… that not only leaves you feeling good, but also thinking good.  This book was banned by the Church and has been hidden away for seventy years!

I was intrigued, so I had to buy it. It’s sat on my bedside table for 2 months but I picked it up this morning and had a flick through.

Hold that thought for a second whilst I firstly explain some recent events and thoughts….

A very good friend of mine commented on one of my posts yesterday and mentioned my commitment to blogging. It got me thinking about why I am so committed to it. The reason I started blogging was to explore my writing style, to explore what it was like to write publicly rather than just think privately…..It’s become so much more than that. It’s become more important to me than I ever imagined it would.

I read some truly inspiring blogs every day. I speak to some truly inspirational people. I appreciate every hit I get, I’m grateful for every ‘like’ I get, and I’m so very happy with every new comment I get… Subscribing to my blog.. well, that just blows my mind!

I made a conscious decision not to use my blog to rant or to be needlessly negative…. If and when I feel like that, I’ll continue to do it in thought only… and once I’m done thinking about it, I’ll counteract it with a positive blog post. Restore the status quo.

To give you an example… Driving home from work last Thursday, I made a mental ‘to do’ list in my head for the evening. It’s quite unusual for me to do this as I’m not a list kind of girl. I’m envious of those who are.

Anyway, my list was

  • Make Tea
  • Make lunch for tomorrow
  • Change bedding and put pyjamas on before I…
  • Pull pretty much contents of wardrobe out and iron everything

1 – 3 went without a hitch. I then came to point 4. Ironing. I pulled everything out of the wardrobe, and I mean everything. Took it downstairs and made a big pile in the living room floor. I pulled out the ironing board and plugged in the iron….Nothing. I unplugged the iron, shook it about a bit, fiddled with the lead a bit, pressed every button and turned every knob. Plugged it back in… Nothing… I probably did that another 3 or 4 times before a voice in my head said…

Bethan, leave it go.. It’s gone… Time of iron death…8.21pm

I was livid!…Livid that I’d dragged everything downstairs, my plan for the evening had been ruined, I’d have to take everything unironed back upstairs, and the prospect of having to wear unironed clothes to work.

I was so frustrated that I gave the ironing board a little kick….. which instantly buckled and collapsed broken to the floor..

Thank you universe!, lesson learnt!.. I acknowledge the hideous overreaction, and consequences of said overreaction.

I didn’t realise you could feel embarrassment in an empty house when it’s only you who has witnessed the event..  But I did. When I told someone at work the next day about it, they genuinely looked at me in surprise and said “What the hell did you do that for, you’re usually so chilled about everything”

In contrast, today my kitchen light blew and the fitting crumbled when I took it out… Being without light in a room is a little more important than an iron breaking, but today I just thought ‘Oh well, I’ll buy another light fitting and fix it’…

So, my point is, I think my commitment to blogging is as much about my commitment to self exploration, discovery and self-development as much as it is to writing.. I wasn’t expecting that when I started to blog. That has crept in and taken me by surprise.

Looking at my past blog posts, the majority of them relate to having fun, to feeling good and thinking good… which brings me back (finally) to Charles Haanel!

This book is arguably one of the first of its kind to talk about harnessing the power of the subconscious and the law of attraction.

The book is split up into 24 parts, and suggests you should focus on them as weekly study courses. That’s what I intend to do. Over the next 24 weeks, I am going to study one per week, and post a weekly update on my progress.

By blogging about it, I’m committing myself to actually doing it, and by actually doing it, I’m committing myself to blogging about it..

It’s a win win situation!

Monster hunting, fast cars and jungle trekking

Wednesday evening I found myself chasing monsters, driving fast cars and trekking through a jungle.

With my trusted sidekick beside me, we hunted the monsters out and stunned them with a Buzz Lightyear gun. There were lots of them. They were on top of cars. On the dangerous road. Down drains. On top of buildings. They were everywhere… There’s one!.. Bzzzz… Stunned him with Buzz’s gun… There’s another one!…. Bzzzzz….

Then we drove cars. Really fast. Performed death-defying stunts. Jumped over other cars. Flipped onto our sides then back again. Wheel spun. Skidded. Dangerous stuff, but we were never in danger.

Then we lived in a jungle and spoke to elephants, lions, giraffes and hippos. We grazed on leaves from tall trees, We sat on rocks. We drank from the river…….

Wednesday, I spent the evening playing with my friend’s 3-year-old little boy.

Play is such an important part of a child’s development, but have us adults forgotten it’s importance? Has adulthood with all it’s pressures, responsibilities and worries stifled the pure enjoyment we used to get from just playing.

I’ll put my hand up right now, and admit that I still enjoy playing. I enjoyed stunning monsters, I enjoyed racing cars and I enjoyed living in the jungle.

I enjoy entering a land of endless creativity. Boundless imagination. Limitless fun. For a short while, its pure escapism. Maybe that’s why I enjoy it?

I’m a normal responsible adult. I do normal responsible adult things.

But….. I do like to daydream.

Maybe that’s why I’ll quite happily sit cross-legged on the floor and play with my niece & nephew, and my friend’s children….. Maybe that’s what has earned me the very honourable title of Godmother to four very beautiful Godchildren.

A lot of my friends now have children. I don’t, but I’m not one of these friends who feels duty bound to interact with their friend’s children. Neither am I one of these friends who has slowly distanced themselves from their friends with children and just surrounds themselves with similar circumstanced friends.

I’m one of these friends who understands that when you are spending time with your friend’s children, you are in the company of the most precious item on Earth to your friend. You are in the presence of something that your friend, the parent, has such natural, immeasurable and sometimes inexplicable love for. Love, stronger than any diamond and worth so much more too.

If you love your friends. You’ll love their children too. And I do.

I take an interest in the lives of my niece and nephew. I’ve never missed a school concert, or a birthday party, and I don’t ever intend to. I help with homework, I babysit, I play shop, I play house, I play board games, I read books, I do jig-saws. I colour in, I cut-out, I play football in the street, I play cricket in the summer, and I’m a legend on Cooking Mama on the Nintendo DS.

My niece and nephew have their own brilliant, wonderful, unique, quirky personalities, but sometimes I catch a glimpse of something familiar. A certain look, a little mannerism, a smile, a frown. It reminds me that something beating inside of them, beats inside of me too…

Doodles – Etchings of the subconscious mind

We all do it. On the phone, in the office, in the classroom…

I’m really interested in what my subconscious mind is telling me, so I want to know what my doodles mean. What subtle messages are being expressed by me when I’m absent-mindedly doodling?

Here is a typical page of my doodles

 

What does it all mean?

After spending 10 minutes Googling doodle analysis, I found out the following…

I’m an introvert, with a practical, methodical mind, but also a free-thinker who is creative and imaginative. I’m flexible, patient, persistent and am able to concentrate. I could have a suspicious nature, a need for harmony, love, security and show feelings of being trapped. I’m nostalgic, have a curious mind and possible self-image issues.

Wow!

Another interesting observation I made, is that I’ve doodled and drawn that same street of houses for years. I found these which date back to when I was in college in 1996. I must have drawn it hundreds of times since.

What does it mean to have drawn the same scene for the past 15 years?

Optimist or Pessimist?

Optimist!…. No… Pessimist!… No… Indecisive to both?

I don’t hi-five and whoop my way through the day, but I don’t clunk my way through, shackled to the woes of despair either.

This topic caught my interest on the daily post today. It’s relevant to me. I would say that at the moment I’m generally an optimist. Because I’m choosing to be. It’s not always very easy, but it’s always possible.

Optimism hasn’t got to where he is today without the help of some of his friends though. Optimism would be nothing without his best drinking buddies by his side, Faith & Belief. They are the ones who keep buying you a full pint at the bar. They don’t want you to ponder over ‘half full or half empty’. They want you to have a full pint.

Determination, focus, nerve, courage, hope and confidence aren’t innocent in this either. In fact, they’re all in it together. A posse. A force to be reckoned with.

The brothers Pessimist and Doubt are usually kicking about in the same pub, along with their motley crew.It’s a free world, they’re allowed to. They’re always willing to buy you a pint too, but they expect to drink half of it first before giving it to you.

Sometimes you’ll let them, because it’s easier than challenging them.

Sometimes it’s OK to do that. Optimism won’t be offended, he knows in the long run, he can offer you more, because deep down you do too. He just hopes you realise it.

I started the year with three very clear personal goals in mind. I’m optimistic that I’ll achieve all three. They won’t fall in my lap. I know that I’ve got a lot of hard work in front of me if I want to achieve them…. And I’m prepared to do it.

  • The wheels are in motion for goal number one
  • The wheels are just being screwed on for goal number two
  • The wheel has not been invented yet for goal number three

I’m not worried though, they’ll all happen, because I’ve got Faith and Belief buying me pints. Full ones.

I won’t set the whole world on fire with them, that’s not my intention. But in the small patch of it that I can call my own, I’ve got the matches…

I got what I deserved

Mirror… Signal… Manoeuvre…  BANG! ….. Shit!

That was last Wednesday night as I was pulling out of a parking space in a supermarket.

I didn’t check my blind spot and I reversed into a parked car behind me.

What do I do? The owner of the car wasn’t there? What would you do?

This is the first time I’ve ever had an incident in the car. In a corner of my brain a little figure who has been sitting in the shadows for the 14 years I’ve been driving, suddenly cleared her throat, stepped out into the spotlight and said loudly “I’ll take control of this – you have two choices”

Ladies & gentleman, here for one night only (hopefully!) my driving conscience…

“Choice A, you can drive away. Say nothing, do nothing. Drive away and go home. Eyes forward, slam it into first and drive off. Don’t look back

“Choice B, you can park up, wait for the owner, apologise, swap details and do the whole Insurance thing”

My driving conscience is very efficient. It processed all this information for me in the blink of an eye, the beat of a heart, the click of a finger…. then said

“Well?, make a decision please. NOW!”

I put my car into first gear and drove…..

THIS IS THE PART WHERE I GET WHAT I DESERVE


I drove around to the space next to the car I’d just hit, parked and got out.

The lady who owned the car was now casually walking back from putting her trolley away. When she saw me standing by her car, her casual walk quickened to a purposeful one. As she approached I said

“I’m so sorry I’ve just reversed into your car”

“Pardon” she said

“I’m so sorry, I’ve just reversed into your car

She looked at me, looked at her broken bumper, looked at me

“Never mind” She said “Don’t worry, nobody is hurt, and these things happen”

It was at this point, I realised that this lady’s behaviour was mirroring my own. I’d got exactly what I deserved. I’d got a pleasant and very understanding individual.

I was calm, and accepting of the fact that I couldn’t change what had just happened. I could however choose how I dealt with it. I wasn’t angry at myself, I wasn’t upset, I wasn’t frustrated. I was calm and rational, and so was the lady I was talking to. The situation had been mollified by both our reactions. Of all the cars in all the car park, I’d reversed into the right one!

Despite feeling a little bit foolish, my pride was still intact, because I’d done the right thing. And because I’d done the right thing, most importantly, my integrity was still intact. Still whole, untarnished and unblemished.

The lady was actually thanking me for not driving away. Although my driving conscience had presented me with that choice, I’d dismissed it instantly. I did the right thing, and I’m proud of myself that I did.

Despite having my first claim, having to get the damage to my car repaired too, and having to pay a hefty excess in the process, I’m happy it happened. It taught me that like attracts like. It reminded me that there are consequences to choices we make, it reassured me that my instinctive reaction and behaviour is well-balanced and most importantly… it taught me to always check my blind spot!