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 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.

Sensory Movement Challenge Day 5: An Energy Healing Circle and Jars

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.

Energy Healing Circles

As an empath and a sensitive person in general, I tend to get overwhelmed with energy and emotions coming from others. It’s not something easy for me to discuss or open up about outside my circle of people who also experience and work with energy on different levels.

Yeah, I still get made fun of and harassed for being like that. But the truth is energy work is a foundational part of my life and recovery journey. So when I find mentors and healers who can teach me how to cope with the influx of energy coming towards me (and often gets stuck inside me) more effectively, I do that.

And when said instructors offer community healing circles and sessions via live stream at an affordable price, I join in and participate. It’s my way of being part of a community of people without having to physically share space or interact with people. We interact on an energetic level with the mentor/host acting as a conduit and connection for us all to share energy and healing and support as a mini community for the time we meditate together.

During the 1 hour healing session, we worked on 2 healing meditations to receive energy and messages from the Source (what our mentor calls God/Goddess, etc.). I cried during the meditation. And also felt a weight lifting off of me as I let go of energy that didn’t belong in my body.

Breathing in and out, I followed the air as it traveled down my lungs, into my sides and back, down through my abdomen and hips, finally back up and out my nose and mouth. Along the path, I felt buzzing inside my body and heard motorcycles driving by outside. It felt like the motorcycles left a trail for the energy that didn’t belong to follow as it left me.

As we moved into the next part of the meditation, I got messages from my dead baby. If you want to know more about that, you will have to search through past posts on Untangled Connections. It’s not something I can write about here and still share on Scent Reflections. But the gist of it is that one of my rapists got me pregnant when I was 15 years old. Three months later said rapist and colleagues aborted the baby. Details about that part of my life are locked away in a trauma amnesia vault.

I didn’t even remember being pregnant or having an abortion until 2014/2015 and have been through the shame and guilt of not remembering before then + flashbacks, etc. ever since. Hearing my baby talk to me was one of many messages that came during the session. Even now, as I write this, other messages are coming to my consciousness.

Is this too “out there” for you? If it is, feel free to ignore anything about energy work and move on to the next section.

Exercise 2: Opening Jars

Have you ever considered what muscle groups are required to open jars? Or how much a person can move when opening and closing jars? Especially when those jar lids don’t want to open?

Well, I mentioned yesterday or the day before about “breaking out the herbs and honey” to make tea. All my herbs and honeys are in jars with twist lids. Mason jars, glass jars reused and re-purposed after the original contents were used up. And original jars the honey came in.

The mason jars are relatively easy to open dry. But add hot water over herbs, and things get tricky. Use jars or thermoses with silicone rings to minimize spills, and suction or air-tight closures make opening the lids a challenge too. But the dried honey in a twist cap jar + air-tight seal is most difficult to open.

I am mostly left handed and use my right hand/arm to hold jars steady while the left one twists. But not always. Sometimes, the right hand grip works better, so the left side holds jars steady. You’d think I only use hand and arm, but that’s not true. Being a short person, I use all the leverage I can get to open jars. That includes shoulders and torso to twist and open the lids. Often with help from a jar opener. But even the jar opener is manual and requires me to grip and twist to open the lids.

The sensory grounding part?

  1. Sound of me cussing as I listen to the lid scraping against the jar, but not moving or opening. Sound of jar opener scraping against the lid.
  2. Sound of hot water being poured into a bowl and splashes as I put the honey jar in the water to warm it up.
  3. Texture of the metal lid, plastic/silicone jar opener, glass and paper label in my hands.
  4. Texture of the oven mitts and towels I used to get a better grip on the jar
  5. Sound and feel of my palm hitting the bottom of the jar to pop the lid’s seal
  6. Smell of ginger infused honey when I finally get the jar open

And yes, I practice hard to be and stay present while opening jars because sometimes, rarely, but often enough opening a jar triggers flashbacks.

So would you consider the process of opening, closing, and moving jars a worthy exercise for the movement challenge?

Reflection

This morning’s healing circle helped me understand the purpose of this challenge and the purpose of being vulnerable and putting myself out there for the Facebook live session on Sunday.

I am open about not being a “people” person. And that’s true to an extent. I have many difficulties physically being around people. That makes helping and supporting people difficult too. So I created my business and my volunteer work around helping people through indirect interactions like blog posts and images.

But new responsibilities at work have helped me feel more comfortable interacting with others over the phone and via video streaming. So, while I am often abrupt and honest to the point of rudeness, I am willing to make time to offer healing and support to my guests at both websites via Facebook live.

You don’t have to respond early. You can just show up if you want to do so.

I admit to being terrible at social media and how to get likes and follows, etc. I admit to not knowing how to get people to comment on posts either. In my mind, any and all of that is completely voluntary and an extremely personal and private choice. I am more of a lurker than a commenter and very rarely comment on my favorite author and website blogs either. So I will not pressure others to do something that I refuse to do on a regular basis.

Plus that’s never been my goal. The fact that you like my blog and visit here means more than you can imagine. And sure, it’s bad business to not promote my blog and try to get lots of “likes” and “follows”, etc. Same with not joining affiliate programs and letting others advertise on my sites. And also with commenting on and following other bloggers and websites, etc.

But that’s not why I joined Facebook or started any of those things. I’m just trying to figure out low cost solutions to communication issues. If people want to write to me safely, I want them to be able to do that. Then I want to be able to respond to them too. Not 1 week later. Not 1 month or more later because their comments got caught in the spam filter. But within 1-3 days.

FACEBOOK LIVE – Sensory Grounding and Healing meditation in my garden

And so I am listening to the messages from Source and trying to find ways to follow them.

One message is offer more support to my guests. Offer them healing meditations and videos.

Give them a chance to ask questions and comment.

Let them feel connected to a community and open it to more than just a blog post or website.

Self Care is more than making sure the practical parts of basic needs are met during this scary time. It’s about staying connected, feeling hope, experiencing laughter and joy, moving even when we feel stuck, and remembering that we are resilient people.

In Sunday’s Facebook live, I will be sitting in my indoor garden with a piece of chocolate, some crystals in a bowl, and other fruit as I talk you through some of the sensory grounding meditations that I’ve written about here on Untangled Connections. Maybe on Scent Reflections too. You don’t need to bring anything except yourself and a grounding object.

You are welcome to join me during the live 1 hour presentation or watch it on your own time later.

Thanks for reading.

Sensory Movement Challenge Day 4: Working from the Inside Out (aka energy work/internal body movement) — Scent Reflections LLC

This post discusses movement from a meditative or internal perspective. If you saw me doing this, you would think I was sleeping or meditating or both because the parts of my body you can see weren’t moving. This type of movement exercise requires an open mind, body awareness, resilience, and trust or faith in self and a higher power for guidance/support. Read if you like, but skip otherwise. This blog is about offering practical options and resources, not causing stress or problems or anything else.

Sensory Movement Challenge Day 4: Working from the Inside Out (aka energy work/internal body movement) — Scent Reflections LLC