Amber’s Mewsings: After the Snowstorm

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks here!  We got a lot of snow, and I mean a lot!  The photo above shows you what we woke up to Saturday morning – and that was less than half of what we got altogether that day.  Mom was really stressed about things on Saturday.  She woke up at 3am and realized that our power had gone out.  I don’t know what she was so worried about, we were snuggled in bed together and it was nice and toasty, but I could feel her energy going all weird on me and I knew she was scared.    After a while, I realized what she was worried about – it got a little colder than I like to it be in our house.  I guess this power she was so worried about is what makes our house warm.  I wasn’t worried, though – I knew Mom wouldn’t let me get cold.  She put out lots of blankets for me to snuggle in.  I just wished she’d stayed inside to snuggle with me, but instead, she kept going outside to do what she called shoveling.  It looked to me like she was just moving the white stuff around, and I don’t understand why she didn’t just leave it in place, but that’s humans for you.  Whenever Mom came back inside, we snuggled under the blankets together, so I thought it was a pretty decent way to spend a Saturday.

Thankfully, this mysterious power came back on Saturday afternoon and Mom started to relax, not to mention warm up!   Sunday was a gorgeous day, the picture on the left shows you the view out of our living room window on Sunday morning.  Mom says it’s called winter wonderland.  All I can say is it was blinding to look outside and see all this white stuff, with the sun reflecting off of it.  But I was happy to have my sunny spots back and spent the day soaking up warmth and snuggling with Mom.

On Tuesday, Mom started getting worried again – apparently, they were calling for more of that white stuff.  I think Mom was scared that we’d lose the power again.  I hate when Mom worries, and I knew I needed to find a way to help her.  I was getting a little frustrated with Mom, it was like she was forgetting all the lessons my sister Buckley had taught her about not getting caught up in fear and worry.  So I made sure to remind Mom that Buckley wouldn’t like it that she’s already forgotten the lessons, and I think it really  helped Mom.  She even blogged about it (Letting Go of Fear and Worry During the Storm).

So when round two of this snow stuff started, Mom was calm, which made things much more pleasant.  It helped that the power stayed on.  I got a little scared when the wind kicked up big time (Mom said it’s called a blizzard when it does that), but Mom reassured me that everything was going to be fine.  I like how we help each other.  The storm made for some great bird watching.  I have to respect these little birdies, they’re made of tougher stuff than I am.  I’d hate to have to be out in this kind of weather.  I’m so grateful I’m an indoor kitty.

Things are back to normal as far as I’m concerned.  And anything that keeps Mom home with me even more than usual is fine by me.  I do wish they made kitty sunglasses though – it’s just so bright out there!  I think I’ll just take a nap in the sun.

Amber’s Mewsings: Amber and the Laptop

It’s about time that I get some computer time!  I tell you, it can be tough being a writer’s cat.  Not only do I have to be my mom’s mewse, but since she’s on the computer on her desk practically all day long most days, it’s hard to get a paw in edgewise.  And when she leaves the house for a while, she turns the computer off!  I haven’t been able to figure out how to open what she calls her laptop, and I hate that thing anyway.  When it’s in her lap, there’s not enough room for me, too, and that’s just wrong.  You can see me giving the thing the evil eye above.  She recently got something she calls a BlackBerry, even though it looks nothing like a berry to me.  I got all excited at first, because I thought maybe I could use that to write on, but I tried typing on it and realized that my paws are too big to work the tiny keys.

But I digress.   What I really wanted to talk about is that, despite the frustrations mentioned above, being a writer’s cat is really a very cool job.  For starters, it means that my mom is home with me a lot, and I really like that.  I just like knowing that she’s nearby, even when I’m sleeping.  And she says I’m her mewse, which I guess means that I inspire her writing, which is really nice to know.  I know how happy it makes her to be a writer, and I’m glad that I can contribute to that happiness.  It’s also kind of nice to have her at my beck and call all day long – and I have her so well-trained that she doesn’t even realize that that’s what’s happening.  She thinks it’s her own idea to get up and give me a treat occasionally, and to feed me my dinner in the afternoon rather than making me wait until dinner time.  Okay, so maybe the staring holes in the back of her head approach, whining and weaving myself around her legs, and generally making a pest out of myself after a certain time in the afternoon is a bit obnoxious, but it never fails to work, so why should I stop?!

Another thing I like about being a writer’s cat is that I force my mom to take breaks.  Even though she loves what she does, it’s not healthy for her to do it 24/7 (what an odd expression – how did humans come up with that?  I only have four paws, so I can’t count much beyond four.)  So I make sure that she takes breaks throughout the day by asking for cuddle time, looking so cute that she can’t resist taking my photo, or showing her where my dinner plate is (because , some days, I swear, she forgets what she’s supposed to do with it!).  And after a certain point in the evening, I think she needs to get off her computer and come to bed, so sometimes, I have to lead the way and wait for her in the bedroom.

As you can see, being a writer’s cat is not for the faint-hearted among us felines.  It takes a special cat to be a writer’s companion, but it’s also very rewarding (and I don’t just mean food rewards!).

Amber’s Story

One of the questions most frequently asked of me since the release of Buckley’s Story has been why Buckley?  What was so special about this particular cat, rather than any of the other cats who have been part of my life, that inspired me to write a book about her?  You’ll have to read the book to find out how she changed my life in ways I never could have imagined by teaching me universal lessons about opening my heart and living a joyful life.  As the old saying goes, when the student is ready, the teacher appears.  In my case, the teacher came in a seven pound feline body.

Inevitably, the second most frequently asked question I get is will you write a book about Amber?  Who knows, some day, she may get her own book.  Those of you who’ve visited this site have gotten to know her in her occasional Mewsings, but not all of you know her story.  So – even though it’s not a book (yet – you never know!), here is her story:

Amber and her five kittens were brought to the Middleburg Animal Hospital in the spring of 2000 by a client who had found the little family in her barn.  Despite being emaciated and scrawny-looking, Amber’s eventual beauty was evident even then.  She is a dark Tortoiseshell color, with an amber-colored heart-shaped spot on top of her head, which became the reason for her name.  Her kittens found new homes in fairly rapid succession.

However, nobody was interested in the beautiful mommy cat.  She spent her days in the big adoption cage in the hospital’s waiting area, but with the constant inflow of homeless kittens that is typical for spring and summer, nobody wanted to adopt an adult cat.  I had recently lost my almost sixteen-year-old soul mate cat Feebee, and the grief over his loss was still very fresh.  I did not think I was ready for another cat, but coming home to an empty house was becoming increasingly difficult.

One weekend in July, I decided to take Amber home, “just for the weekend”.  I wanted to give her a break from the abandoned feral kitten we had placed with her after her own kittens had all found homes.  The kitten was a rambunctious six-week old grey tabby, and Amber was becoming increasingly exasperated with his constant need for attention.  As far as she was concerned, she had done her mommy duty with her own kittens.

After living in a cage for all these months, Amber was initially a little overwhelmed by having access to an entire house, and she spent most of that first weekend near or under my bed.  By Sunday evening, she had relaxed a little and started exploring her new environment.  I liked having her gentle and peaceful energy around the house, and I decided that she could stay a little longer.  Not quite ready to acknowledge that she was home with me to stay, I told everyone that I was “just fostering her”.

Somehow, the flyers advertising that she was available for adoption never got distributed, and she only returned to the animal hospital for regular check ups.

Amber is a gentle, loving cat with a wise old soul.  For the past nine years, her peaceful and solid presence, not to mention her almost constant purr, have been bringing love and affection into my life every day.  She enjoys sleeping in our sunny living room, curling up with me when I sit down to read or to watch television, and watching the birds at the feeder on our deck.

She is a teacher to the core of her being, and she is my writing muse.  There are days when I sit down in front of the computer and stare at the blank screen with no idea of what I’m going to be writing about, but as soon as she comes into the room and curls up on the window perch next to my desk for a long nap, I feel inspired, and the words start flowing.

Animals come into our lives for many reasons.  Some very special animals touch our souls and change us forever.  Amber is one of these special animals.

Sadly, Amber passed away on May 13, 2010, after a sudden, brief illness. I will always miss her.

Buckley’s First Christmas

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In memory of Buckley’s first Christmas with Amber and me:
An excerpt from Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher

Soon, it was time to get ready for Buckley’s first holiday season with Amber and me. I traditionally put up my Christmas tree during Thanksgiving weekend. It is a small, four-foot high artificial tree that I have had for close to twenty years. While I like the idea and especially the wonderful pine scent of a real tree, I also find it too much of a hassle to deal with having someone bring the tree into the house for me and then to remove it again at the end of the season, so I have been quite content with my artificial tree over the years. And since having a fake tree has even become the environmentally conscious thing to do in recent years, rather than feeling like I should be making apologies for it, I am now politically correct. The tree sits on a small table next to the dining room cabinet. The table is draped with a red tablecloth that reaches all the way to the floor, creating a perfect little cat tent underneath. Amber always enjoyed hiding underneath the tree during Christmases past, and now Buckley got to share in the fun. It provided endless entertainment for both cats, and it was a new experience for Amber to be stalked by Buckley from underneath the tree.

In addition to playtime, the tree also provided lovely moments of quiet contemplation for all three of us. Most evenings before going to bed, I turned off all the lights in the living room except for those on the tree and put on some soft Christmas music. With both cats curled up on my lap, we simply sat by the tree and enjoyed the lights, ornaments, and the profound sense of peace these moments brought. This experience has always had a meditative quality for me that was greatly enhanced by the shared energy of the two cats.

Amber had never been all that interested in the ornaments on the tree. I decorate the tree with ornaments I have collected over the years, many of them cat-themed, which should come as no surprise. Some of the ornaments have great sentimental value, such as the silver bell that I brought home after cleaning out my father’s condominium after he passed away. As far back as I can remember, that silver bell was on the Christmas trees of my childhood. Other ornaments were gifts from friends or items I had picked up while traveling. I always hung the breakable ornaments on the side of the tree furthest from the dining room table. In the past, Amber had occasionally jumped up on the table and batted at the ornaments she could reach from there. Thankfully, she had never tried to jump up on the table the tree was sitting on. I was not sure what to expect from Buckley, but she turned out to be far more interested in the tent underneath the tree than the actual tree or ornaments. I never once even saw her on the dining room table trying to bat at ornaments she could have reached from there.

Buckley’s first Christmas was a special time for all of us. This little cat had never gotten presents before in her life. Needless to say, I completely overdid it that year, and I was not the only one. Many of my friends also showered Buckley, as well as Amber, with toys and treats that Christmas. Buckley had a difficult time deciding what was more fun—the actual toys and treats or helping me tear them out of their colorful wrappings and ribbons.  She had a wonderful time that first Christmas, playing with abandon and giving herself up to total joy.

Amber’s Mewsings: Amber Gets Her Teeth Cleaned

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You may remember that a couple of weeks ago, I had to undergo the dreaded bi-annual exam (you can read all about that ordeal here), and Fern, my vet, decided that I needed to have my teeth cleaned.  That finally happened last week.  Let me tell you, it was not a fun day.

I politely waited for Mom to get up like I do every other morning, and I led the way to the kitchen.  At first I thought Mom was just really tired that morning, because instead of feeding me, she just gave me fresh water.  Then she made her coffee.  Hello!  My food always comes before her coffee!  She kept saying “I’m sorry, Amber, I can’t feed you this morning.”  Well, sorry didn’t quite cut it, we were talking about breakfast here, and I made my displeasure known in no uncertain terms.  When that didn’t get the desired result, I tried flattery and rubbed against Mom’s legs and purred.  Still no breakfast.  When she took her coffee into her office and started doing her computer stuff, I knew we had a serious problem.  I kept trying to remind her that she was forgetting something, but no breakfast appeared.  After about an hour of this, I gave up and curled up for a nap.  Maybe this was just a bad dream and I’d wake up and breakfast would be served.

Well, things only went downhill from there.  Mom woke me up from my nap – and I immediately knew it wasn’t for breakfast.  She grabbed me off the nice and soft window perch I’d been sleeping on and stuck me into my carrier.  I knew resistance would be futile, but I still complained at the top of my voice.  I know it upsets Mom when I cry, but I was spitting mad!  Before I knew it, I was in the car and we were on the way to what I knew by now would be to the dreaded cat hospital.  I could have cried all the way there, but I decided to go easy on Mom and just grumbled occasionally.

Once we got there, I refused to come out of my carrier, knowing full well that they have ways to get me out, but I wasn’t about to make it easy for them.  Fern was there, and two other women who, okay, I’ll admit it, had good kitty vibes, but I wasn’t feeling too friendly, so I ignored their pathetic attempts to make nice with me.  Mom dragged me out of the carrier while one of the women was holding on to it, and then Mom put me on the scale.  She was happy with what she saw there, so at least that was good.  Apparently, the measly rations that have passed for breakfast and dinner around here are working and I’ve lost a couple of pounds since my last visit to the cat hospital.  After being weighed, Mom put me on a table with a soft towel on top that was really nice and warm.  I have to admit, that felt pretty good, but I also knew it was supposed to give me a false sense of security.  Sure enough, seconds later, I felt a needle being stuck in my hip, and something cold and burning was injected into me.  A few seconds after that, I started feeling really weird – fuzzy and kind of tired.  I don’t remember much after that.

When I woke up, Mom was holding me in her arms.  My mouth felt strange – a little sore, and there was this odd flavor coating all my teeth, nothing a cat should ever have to taste.  It smelled like what Mom’s mouth smells like after she brushes her teeth.  I shudder to think they used that paste stuff I’ve seen her use on me while I was asleep.  Mom says it’s called a fluoride treatment, but I say it tastes and smells nasty.  My throat was sore, like something had been shoved down it and then pulled out again.  Mom told me it was a breathing tube, but I don’t really know what that means, nor do I care to!  I felt really weird – I wanted to wake up but I couldn’t really control how to move my head or the rest of me.  But at least Mom was holding me, and that really helped.  Eventually, I felt a little better. I was able to lift my head and look around a little bit.  I can’t say that I cared much for what I saw.  Fern and the two women who were responsible for everything that was done to me were still there.  They were now torturing another cat on the table I had been on earlier.

After what seemed like forever, Mom put me back in the carrier.  This time, I wasn’t putting up any fuss about going in there – I’ve been through this enough to know it meant we were going home!  Once we got home, I still felt pretty crummy – just out of sorts, restless, tired, but yet not able to relax.  My eyes felt strange, and I couldn’t see all that clearly.  The things I did see don’t normally exist in my house, so I’m not sure what that was all about.   Mom says it’s the drugs they gave me.  Finally, after a few hours of tripping like this, I was able to relax enough to take a nice long nap.

I know how important it is to keep my teeth nice and clean, but I sure am glad that this is over with for hopefully at least another six months.  And in all fairness, I know this is just as stressful for Mom as it is for me –she worries about me, and I love her for that.

Amber’s Mewsings: Amber Gets a Check Up

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You may remember that I’ve managed to keep the dreaded check up at bay for quite some time, but – even a powerful creator cat like me can only do so much when she has a caring mom who wants to be sure I’m healthy and stay healthy.  So Wednesday, Fern, our vet, came to the house, and this time, I knew it wasn’t just for a visit with Mom.  I knew immediately what was up when Fern didn’t even come upstairs, but headed straight for Mom’s Reiki room.  That’s where they do my check ups.  Go figure – I guess Mom thinks the energy there is good so it’ll make it less stressful for me.  Yeah, nice try.  So Fern heads downstairs, and Mom grabs me and carries me downstairs – never a good sign.  I made my displeasure known, but did she let me go?  Of course not.  She kept telling me “it’s okay, sweetie.”  Sure it is – do YOU think it’s okay when someone comes at you uninvited and pokes and prods you, and then sticks sharp needles into you and steals your blood???

Anyway.  Mom puts me on the Reiki table, and Fern pretends she’s petting me.  I know petting from what she was doing!  She squeezed and poked at all my organs.  Then she took this weird metal disk and put it against my heart.  The disk had rubber tubes attached that went into Fern’s ears.  Humans are so weird.  And then she had the audacity to look into my mouth!  Apparently she didn’t like what she saw there, because she said I have to have what they call a dental – an innocent little word for me being put in my carrier, having to ride in Mom’s car to the cat hospital, and being poked, prodded and stuck with needles while I’m there.  Granted, then I get to take a nice long nap, but when I wake up, my mouth feels icky and I feel out of sorts and groggy and just really weird.  It always takes the rest of the day for me to feel normal again.  But I know Mom stays with me through the whole thing and she holds me while I wake up, and she takes me home as soon as she can.  Mom has explained to me before how important it is that we keep my teeth and gums healthy, and I understand it – but I don’t have to like it!

But back to the check up – even after checking out my teeth, Fern still wasn’t done, sigh.  I knew the worst part was yet to come.  Mom kept hugging me and telling me it was okay.  I growled and grumbled – I know Mom meant well, but I’m not an idiot!  So then Mom put me into this seriously uncomfortable position and held on to my front leg, hard, and Fern came at me with a needle.  I tried to be good, but it really hurt, and I let loose with a loud scream.  I didn’t want to, because I know it upsets Mom when I cry, but yowza!  After what seemed like an eternity, while I was watching my precious blood trickle into two small tubes, Fern said the magic words.  “We’re done!”.  Mom held on to me for a little bit longer – I know it was to make sure that my leg wouldn’t continue to bleed where they stuck the needle in me, but I was so ready to just get out of that room and away from them!  I know why it’s important that they get my blood, Mom wrote an article about it a while back, but I sure wish it didn’t hurt so much.  And of course the results were all perfect, just like I am.  I could have told them that they would be without having to endure all that poking and prodding and being stuck with needles.  Humans!

In Mom’s defense, once Fern left, I got lots of treats, and I know she felt really bad that she had to put me through this.  And I do understand that it’s important to make sure that I’m healthy.

Anyway – that’s all I have to say for now.  That dental thing is supposed to happen in two weeks.   You can be sure I’ll have a thing or two to say about that!

Amber’s Mewsings: Thanksgiving Reflections

Amber and Buckley

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and got their fill of turkey!  I got a special yummy Thanksgiving meal yesterday, and for once, Mom didn’t spend most of the day on the computer, so it was a really good day.  I’m so thankful for my mom –  she’s the best.

I also know that this holiday weekend is difficult for her this year.  It was this time last year that my sister Buckley passed away.  The actual anniversary is tomorrow, but I know Mom has been thinking about this time last year for the past few days, remembering Buckley’s last days with us in physical form, and I know that it makes her a little bit sad.  Humans make such a big deal out of this death thing.  I miss my sister’s physical presence, but I still talk to her all the time.  She never left us, and she comes and visits all the time.  She and I have a lot to talk about.  We talk about what it’s like for her to be in the non-physical realm, about how happy we are that Mom’s book about Buckley is so well-received, and about how we can help Mom.  Mostly, what we want Mom, and all other humans, to know is that nobody ever really dies.  We just change form.  The connection that we had while we were together in physical form continues beyond this lifetime.  The love never dies.  It’s just that when humans are so sad about not having a loved one with them in physical form, they tend to disconnect from that part of themselves that allows them to feel their connection with something greater than themselves.  Humans have different terms for that – some call it Source, some call it Spirit, some call it God.  Cats don’t really think about what the right word for it is.  We *are* it.  And it’s through that close connection that we are able to communicate with those who’ve passed over into the non-physical dimension.  We cats know, and have always known, that the bond that exists between us and our humans is unbreakable.

And that’s why I’m the wise one – because I know stuff like this.  It just takes humans a little bit longer to get it.  My mom is pretty evolved as far as humans go (and that’s a high compliment, coming from me!), but even she gets caught up in the sadness of missing Buckley.  Sometimes, Buckley and I feel like we need to hit her over the head with evidence of Buckley’s presence, and we have fun messsing with her head because she doesn’t always get it right away.  But she’s coming around.

So Mom and I are spending this weekend remembering Buckley.  The photo above was taken during one of our morning play sessions.  I do miss those.  But we still play together – it’s just different now.

To all the humans who are missing a feline  or other furry companion this holiday season:  find quiet time, be still, and listen with your heart.  Your departed friend is never far from you.

Thanksgiving ABC’s 2009

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Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends, but it is also a time for reflection on the many things we have in our lives that we are grateful for.  Gratitude is a wonderful way to raise your vibration and shift your energy.  The vibration of gratitude is a powerful force.  It can shift your mood and your thoughts from a place of scarcity to a place of abundance.

I’ve come up with a whole alphabet of things I’m grateful for this year:

A – Amber, for her loving, wise and gentle presence in my life, for being the inspiration behind The Conscious Cat, and for reminding me to slow down and appreciate each moment.
B – Buckley, for opening my heart and changing my life in ways I never could have imagined, and for inspiring me to write her story so that her lessons can be shared with the world.
C – Cats – I can’t imagine a world without these wonderful creatures.
D – Dogs – my friends’ dogs, my Reiki clients – dogs are so much fun to be with.
E – Eating out – one of the great pleasures of life, especially when shared with good friends.
F – Friends – I am richly blessed in that area.  Since I no longer have any family left, my friends are my family.
G – Google – what did we ever do without it?
H – Health.  The fact that mine is excellent.
I –  Inner peace – when you have it, life makes sense.
J – Joy – it’s what we all strive for.  There is joy in life’s small moments, as well as in the big ones.  I’ve had both this past year – in spades.
K – Kindness – being kind to others, whether human or animal, is what matters most.
L – Law of Attraction.  It makes everything so simple.
M – Music.  Everything from classical to hard rock.
N – Novels – the best way I know of to escape reality for a little while at a time.
O – Openness – being open to new experiences allows life to grow and expand beyond self-imposed limits.
P – Passion – especially the fact that I finally discovered mine.
Q – Quiet time.  It’s essential for my personal balance and well-being, and I make sure to carve out time for it each and every day.
R – Reading.  I usually have at least two or three books going at the same time.
S – Social Media – I’ve made so many wonderful new friends, and reconnected with old ones.  What an amazing world we live in where keeping in touch is made so easy.
T – Tea on a cold day.  Current favorites:  Celestial Seasonings Sugar Plum Spice and Mandarin Orange Green Tea.
U – Unlimited possibilities – the fact that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.
V–  The color violet – this should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me!
W – Walking.  It’s the one exercise I’ve stuck with consistently for decades.  I love the combination of exercise and contemplation.
X –  No matter how hard I try, I can’t think of anything starting with X!
Y – You!  My readers, my friends – thank you for all you bring into my life.
Z –  Z-Rock (the tv show) and the real life band ZO2 whose lives the show is based on.

Writing this blog post and coming up with this list turned out to not only be fun, but a very powerful example of how focusing on gratitude can shift your vibration.  I encourage you to consider making a gratitude list for yourself this Thanksgiving.  What does your Thanksgiving alphabet look like?

Amber and I would like to wish all our readers a very Happy Thanksgiving!