Holding Hands with Gale

Life Quirks: Coping with Change – Meet My Cat Gale

Disclaimer: this is a place of learning, safety, and hope. Take what you want from the post and forget the rest. Maybe this will help you. Maybe it won’t.

The Beginning

It happened so fast that I still feel unprepared.

I’ve been trying for over 4 months to adopt a cat through the Oregon Humane Society, but it’s been a challenge because of COVID-19-related changes to the adoption process. But on the busiest, most challenging week post-COVID, Gale came into my life.

I applied Wednesday. Talked to the counselor on Thursday. Met and brought Gale home on Friday – completely unprepared.

Gale's profile photo
Gale’s profile photo

The counselor told me about the attitude on the phone; and that she loves food and catnip. That was good because I love food and catnip too. That’s how we bonded at the shelter. I brought fresh and dried herbal quality catnip as a bribe.

2 years old, slightly under weight, doesn’t like being handled and will make it known (growls and hisses anyone?). She was pissed when the counselor put her in the cardboard carrier, so we agreed it was best not to move her again for the ride home. The counselors were awesome! They helped me bring her and her “new owner kit” plus a few extras to the car.

We took a Lyft back and luckily had a patient, kind driver who liked cats. Lucky because Gale decided she didn’t like the cardboard carrier and told us so. Then she got feisty and started poking her claws out; scratching the holes open; biting the holes; and rolling in the carrier to rock it.

Home Introductions and Respecting Boundaries

It started with her wanting to be with me all the time. Have some scratches on the bedroom door and molding because I didn’t always leave the door open when I left the bedroom. She wanted to explore on Saturday and made her way through the whole apartment.

Then she decided to start scratching inappropriate items while watching me for a reaction. Yup, testing me. So I didn’t know what to do. The literature says keep cats confined to one room for a week. That cat’s won’t be very affectionate or interested in being near their humans for a while or eat a lot the first week.

We had our first “scare” this morning when she had trouble with hair balls and eating something she wasn’t supposed to eat, but got out on her own. That was interesting times at 3:30 this morning with me calling a 24 hr vet for advice and doing my best to check out a cat who is suspicious of everything and doesn’t like being touched unless it’s on her terms.

I got to listen to lots of coughing, throat clearing, sneezing, whistling, and other cat-trying-to-get-a-hairball or something else out noises until about 7 this morning. We slept late, and I fed her around 8:30 like Saturday. Between the hospital operator and the clinic receptionist, I felt like Gale would be okay after she spit out a small piece of something she wasn’t supposed to eat.

And me panicking because Gale is not doing what the literature said she’d be doing

Mistakes, Underestimating Cats, and Emergency purchases

So, I’ve been talking people’s ears off with my nervous chatter and questions because Gale bonded fast and started exploring the apartment yesterday. Not a week after living with me. Nope. Not my girl with her attitude and STRONG boundaries.

My mistakes: underestimating how fast delivery services would be, Gale’s appetite, and her need for appropriate scratching posts, not understanding the depth of her suspicious nature, and not scheduling a vet appointment on Saturday.

A call to the animal shelter Saturday calmed me down and reassured me it’s better to let Gale set the pace and follow literature instructions exactly. The email from our adoption counselor reassured me that Gale was acting like a normal Siamese cat – minus the attitude. The phone person connected me with a local store that sold Gale’s food, litter, scratch posts and other cat necessities.

The bus was delayed, so I used Lyft again. And again grateful for great drivers who helped me cope with my anxiety and get all Gale’s stuff into the apartment building. The store people at (Mud Bay) were amazing and helped calm me down some more while working with me to fill my list: 2 scratching posts, a carrier, food, litter, hair ball treats, dental treats, and a bed to start.

Delayed…Everything

Gale’s arrival changes all my timelines for the foreseeable future. It’s an interesting balancing act to help her feel comfortable with the whole apartment while trying to get my work done and needs met.

I’m lucky she’s not a clingy cat – as long as I am in eye sight or jump-to range, Gale is fine – or a destructive one.

Her boundaries are clear, and she’s so smart that she learned mine fast too. Now we’re working out how to live peacefully together.

So, If I’m not active or blogging for the next week or two, it’s because my schedule and routine are in flux.

Right now, my goals are:

  1. remember to eat regular meals and hydrate often
  2. remember it’s okay to leave Gale alone sometimes
  3. remember to clean up more and do my chores around work
  4. Make space for Gale’s stuff
  5. Shower, brush teeth, go to bed at my normal time
  6. Try to follow my sleep hygiene routine
  7. Use DBT, aromatherapy, and other tools in my toolbox to cope with feeling overwhelmed and triggered into nightmares

Thanks for reading!

Life Quirks: Integrating Changes & Cats

Disclaimer: this is a place of learning, safety, and hope. Take what you want from the post and forget the rest. Maybe this will help you. Maybe it won’t.

I am a perpetually messy person. The more I try to clean, the more mess I make. It’s almost like the mess feels safer than clean spaces – sometimes. But not always. And then I expend more effort into cleaning up only to find the mess back again days or weeks later.

So I think to myself, how can I possibly be responsible for another living being if I am a perpetual mess with stuff everywhere? Can a messy person be responsible for a pet and keep things clean enough for everyone?

Or are my triggers getting in the way again? Maybe both?

But that’s my goal for this year: adopt a cat and become a pet parent.

So now that I’ve committed to doing this, I’ve been researching the cost for a basic set up – all the items I need in the house BEFORE the cat arrives – like litter boxes/scoops, litter, box liners, food/water bowls, bed, scratching posts & toys, mess cleaner, and storage. The carrier and food I can get at the same time as the cat – adoption center on my list has an in-house store.

But then I worry how old should the cat be? What about my garden? Not all the plants are cat friendly.

And then I visit the adoption website and start applying for cats – the new COVID guidelines are strict and require filling out an online questionnaire first. Then receiving a phone call for the next interview. If I’m not #1 and do not answer the first time, they move on to the next person on the list…

Yet again I ask myself, when will be the RIGHT time if not now? Will there ever be a RIGHT time?

But the idea of a cat at home brings out all my warm and fuzzy feelings…intuition says YES now is the right time.

Because if I can join an inclusion and diversity council at work, have video meetings with new-to-me coworkers, talk politely to customer service people on the phone after LONG wait times, and work on a business when the flashbacks are peaking, I can handle a cat too. Right?

Well, I hope so. I don’t want to be doing so much that I exhaust myself. But at the same time, I want to have meaningful downtime. And that’s not happening right now.

“Ants in your pants” is the phrase that applies to me. Some parts of me are revved while the other parts are dragging themselves.

How do you know when you’re ready to integrate a big change? Or do you not know and just go for it?

That’s my quandary right now, so not much available in the way of strategies and advice this week. But if you’re interested in some aromatherapy or tea recipes, check out my other blog here.

thanks for reading.

Sensory Movement Challenge Day 7: Dance Like No One's Watching; Sing Like No One's Listening; Laugh Like You Mean It; Stay Safe Wherever You Are

Disclaimer: this is a place of learning, safety, and hope. Take what you want from the post and forget the rest. Maybe this will help you. Maybe it won’t.

This is the last day of the challenge. Tomorrow, I will be on Facebook live at 1PM pacific time as promised to do a sensory movement/healing meditation. You can also ask me questions if you feel like dropping in.

Dance like no one is watching

I’ve been dancing just for fun. In my chair. In the living room. Around the kitchen and hall. Unfortunately, my bedroom doesn’t have enough space for dancing; tried it and have the bruises too. But the best times are when I dance in the living room/garden area with my plants.

Yea, I’m not graceful anymore. And I’m definitely not coordinated. At home wearing leggings, a plaid shirt, and a vest, barefoot on the carpet with the blinds up – not the most interesting picture for anyone outside to want to watch. And for anyone looking in? They can always look away.

But they will not take away the fun of dancing. Not this time.

And as I danced, I listened to the music, felt the carpet move under my feet and the air swirl around me, smelled the mint and other herbs, and watched the leaves and stems perk up as the music changed. We all laughed for the sheer joy of dancing together.

Sing Like No One’s Listening

Once in a while, especially when listening to my favorite songs, I sing out loud. My voice isn’t terrible or great. It’s not loud. And I’ve gotten lots of grief over singing in public (by accident) or at home, etc. in the past. So I didn’t sing often.

But I learned to enjoy singing just because I feel like it. And not always songs. Sometimes I sing nonsense words and sounds just because I like the way they rhyme or make rhythm in my head and want to hear it out loud.

Another reason to sing out loud like no one’s listening? It annoys and confuses the crap out of people who might be watching or casing you when you are walking home alone at night. Especially if you walk confident, don’t wear headphones or earbuds, and pay attention to your surroundings when you walk.

I used to do that often when I walked home from the train station. It was one mile through down town and the police station and often quiet. Less often in the daylight because I didn’t want to risk running into someone by accident. Though most people in the neighborhood knew my route and left me alone.

When and where would you sing like no one is listening?

Laugh Like You Mean It

Laughter is not always polite or quiet or (insert word here). Sometimes it’s honest, loud, scratchy, giggly, high- or low-pitched, quiet, annoying, cheerful, sad, fake, authentic, infectious, and accompanied with tears or physical movement.

How do you laugh when no one is listening? Have you ever considered it might be different?

Mine is loud. Giggly sometimes. High-pitched other times. If my alters are laughing, low-pitched and deep. Manic when laced with anxiety. Gross when mixed with sneezes. (and for the record, I’m laughing and sneezing as I write this). I haven’t had to fake laughter in a while, so I can’t remember if it sounds different or not.

But laughter is “the best medicine” and movement. Think about it – chest, lungs, shoulders, breathing, mouth opening and closing, smiles, eyes crinkling, maybe bent forward? – and consider how your body moves, what you feel, smell, see/or not, taste (tears for me sometimes), as you laugh. When I laugh in the rain, I taste and smell rain drops. Same with snow.

So maybe that explains why laughter can be so healing when inspired by joy or peace or humor?

Stay Safe Wherever You Are

Here’s the thing. Times like this make life difficult for everyone. Fear can bring out the best or the worst in people.

Compassion, love, and hope.

Prejudice, racism, and reckless bravado.

And more that I can’t name, did not think of in the moment, or never experienced.

But the COVID-19 threat is real. And people are scared. Some people go to extremes. Others rebel believing it won’t happen to them.

I’ve experienced the prejudice of people giving me dirty looks and moving away from me because I am Asian and walking around without a face mask or gloves. This happened at pubic transit platforms, in restaurants, and walking in my building.

I experienced the same kind of fear and prejudice yesterday afternoon when I left my apartment wearing gloves because I wanted to take out trash and recycling before going down to the lobby to get mail and packages. A group of 20-somethings and a few others were walking in as I picked up my mail and saw the gloves on my hands. What happened next was awkward with the group of people in a huddle trying to avoid me and not look while talking to the two people who came in alone.

Unfortunately we all wanted to go to the same place – elevator banks (them) and package pickup lockers (me) across from the elevators. Being me, I stared them down; then walked away and stayed around the corner until they went up the elevator. The other two people were not as rude, but they were uncomfortable. So I stayed out of the way until only one person was left.

Too bad it was another young person, and he was standing in the way of the keypad. We had some awkward exchanges as he pretended to type or read on his phone while also keeping an eye on me.

What was I doing? Making a show of taking off my gloves and using the exterior to key in the passcode. Then open the door and grab my package. He scooted around trying to stay away from me, but still within sight of the elevators until I spoke to him. Told him he was fine, and I’m just being careful – not sick.

Then I grabbed my package and used the stairs to get to my apartment.

Normally, I don’t go out during busy times of the day. Between being an empath and already struggling with triggers, going during the quiet hours makes more sense and causes less trouble all around. But I decided to listen to my intuition and Spirit’s (yes I use that personally even though I try to be more politically correct here) messages from the healing circle and went during a busy time.

The purpose? To show some of these people that the threat is real, and they may want to be more cautious. Or to be blunt – try to scare some sense into them by seeing an asian person in their building wearing gloves to get mail. Bonus that the girl who walked in with a group of people knew of me from somewhere and was already scared of me. No, I don’t remember the details. Yes, she and her friends have made my life uneasy a few times since I moved in here. That’s why I did what I did. No conversations. NO interaction. They saw me. I saw them. They watched me. I ignored them.

The point being: be careful. Take this seriously. Old people and people with existing conditions are not the only ones at risk. And even if you don’t get sick, you may be a carrier and spreading the virus without even realizing it.

So, as hard as it is, please be careful. Not everyone can or will stay inside. Not everyone has to stay inside.

But if you go out, please use logic and intuition + common sense and take precautions. Maybe you are not at risk, but what about your family or loved ones?

And if you stay home, remember to be cautious there too. The virus can travel in many ways. There are constant updates that provide tips and resources to stay safe wherever you are.

I’m lucky in that my family sends me emails and texts with the latest updates. Same with my friends and loved ones.

Remember to that there are many ways to socialize and connect with people even if we can’t physically be near each other. Technology and I have a love/hate relationship, but I feel grateful it exists to help people at times like this.

Finally:

It’s okay to feel a variety of emotions at the same time. It’s okay to express these emotions and react to what’s happening now. We get to choose how to act and react, how to respond to this new world. I choose, unconditional love, resilience, acceptance, compassion, and kindness. What do you choose?

Thanks for reading.

Sensory Movement Challenge Day 6: Funny Faces, a sleepless night, and dancing plants

Disclaimer: this is a place of learning, safety, and hope. Take what you want from the post and forget the rest. Maybe this will help you. Maybe it won’t.

Sleepless Night = Thankful for flexible hours

As always, I tend to do things out of order. Or maybe an order that only makes sense in my head?

No matter what, yesterday was overwhelming. Between work and news updates, coping with life feels harder than normal. The healing circle helped a lot, but it also brought up memories and things I am not prepared to work with right now.

So, I took the opportunity of a sleepless night to finish a work project on deadline and have some fun dancing in the dark. My plants were sleeping. The night was quiet. Groceries came late, so I ate late too. But the Internet was going strong, and I was too high on adrenaline to calm down.

So I worked and danced in my work chair. I smiled and laughed at a kindle unlimited book on another screen. Looked at cute cat photos from an adoption agency (yes I plan to adopt a cat this year). And continued the boring work tasks necessary to create client deliverables on deadline while drinking peppermint tea with ginger-infused honey.

The task took less time than I anticipated; wrapped up around 2AM, so I lay down to rest for a few hours before starting the work day.

Funny Faces – Making and Rearranging of Face muscles

Work finished early, and I was tired, but not ready to sleep. It’s one of those sunny, but cold days where the heat doesn’t always work because it’s too warm outside, but cold inside. So I lay down on my comfy chair in the living room with some blankets and decided to do muscle relaxation meditation.

8 out of 10 times, I fall asleep during this meditation. Kid you not. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t talk about it much here. Nothing to say other than a) it works; and b) it puts me to sleep.

But then it got noisy. Guess the upstairs neighbor came home from somewhere and decided to move around?? So I came back to the present with an achy face. Felt like everything from my eyebrows to my chin was stiff. So I started moving my cheeks up and down. The left side felt different from the right side. So I alternated moving one side up and down with the other a few times. And suddenly, my nose wasn’t so stuffy either.

So then I tried to wiggle my nose (or scrunch it up and down) to see how that felt. Again, it was an unexpected sensation – like when you pull your fingers backward to stretch them – and sound inside my nose as I breathed in and out.

Next I tried moving my cheek bones and muscles side to side (like a half smile), alternating that with puckering and lifting my lips in different positions (grimace, smile, open, closed, bared teeth). I never realized how many small muscles, ligaments, and tendons there were in the lower part of my face before this. As I moved my cheeks, lips, and nose, the sensations occurred as far away as my ears (where my jaw connects to the skull), chin, and forehead.

So I got my eyes and forehead and jaw involved too. All this with my eyes closed as I reclined with my head tilted backwards. Because why not? I was comfortable curled up under my covers and half asleep. Then the noise and cold breeze from the windows distracted me. So I entertained myself making funny faces.

And ended up with today’s movement challenge.

Dancing Plants = happy plants

Right, I forgot to mention this all happened in about 1-2 hours while my mobile phone played music from a classic rock playlist. By classic I mean from the 1950’s to 1970’s. Earlier in the day, I had an audiobook on before the work meeting, and the plants perked up. We don’t often listen to music or other stuff during the day because there’s so much noise from people and cars.

But it was (and has been) quieter than normal. So I put the music on for them while I rested. We all like music (in general), but my plants have some favorite genres. Classic Rock being their number 1 favorite. They like jazz, blues, instrumental/new age, classical, and musicals too. But Classic Rock always gets them dancing.

So what happens when you have a bright sunny day, windows are open, everyone gets a drink of water, and the music is playing?

Dancing plants. I kid you not. They perk up their leaves and branches; then start swaying and moving without a wind. If they weren’t so camera shy, I’d make a video to share. But they are camera shy.

And so while I made funny faces and relaxed into meditation, they danced and laughed in the sun.

Reflection

All in all, it was a fun start to what could have been a tired, stressful day. I got an extra nap. The plants danced. We laughed and played. Got energized to do some clean up. And learned that I really need to be mindful of exercising my face and jaw muscles more.

No, that doesn’t mean I’ll talk more. Or less. Eat more/less. Drink/hydrate.

Yes, it does mean I will work harder to be expressive (express emotions), smile, laugh, and make faces just for the fun of it in my private time.

Who knows what will happen…maybe my RBF will morph into an RFF (resting fun face) instead?

No matter what, I hope you all make some time to laugh today.

Thanks for reading.