The cat that changed my mind

 

(This blog-post is not part of the series on Pumpkins’ life. That series will be continued soon!)

Pumpkins has disappeared.

He’s gone. Disappeared. Just like that. We went to bed like normal one night, and the next morning he wasn’t there when I woke up. Normally when I get out of bed, he will be sitting on my deck or pop up from underneath, but this time he didn’t.

I went about my morning as normal, thinking he would walk in a little later, that he had just fallen asleep in a cozy spot and hadn’t realised it was morning. After a night of prowling, he usually sleeps his deepest sleep in the mornings, on the doormat or on my lap. So maybe he was just zonked out somewhere else.

But he never walked in that day, heading for his food bowl, as he normally would.

I spent the day hoping that he would pop up in the evening, that maybe he had been wandering off too far in the night and decided to hide out somewhere safe during the day before he would walk back under the protection of the darkness at night.

I hadn’t woken up during the night from screeching cat fights or barking dogs in combination with cat screams, which could indicate that he got in trouble. None of my neighbours had heard anything alarming either. So I didn’t think he was lying somewhere half-crippled and bleeding from a dog-attack, the way we first found him, several years ago. Or maybe I was just hoping he wasn’t.

 

Where was I? Or better, where were you? Oh, right: still on my neighbour’s back porch, recovering from another attack. Crazy cat. 

Every once in a while there will be a vet coming to the island, so when that was the case, they tried to get you fixed. But my neighbours totally underestimated your opposition to being put in a carrier, so ten steps on their way to the vet you were out and away. Good for you!

Pumpkins the cat that changed his mindNext time they asked my help, and together we got you into a cage, and to the vet. It was amazing to see how you relaxed into the idea of sitting in a cage for hours inside an unknown space full of strangers and dogs, waiting your turn. You just went to sleep. You really seem to know when to surrender, don’t you? (you should write a book about it, make it into a workshop, it will sell very well). When it finally was your turn, the vet sedated you through the slits in the side of the cage, to prevent you from attacking her. Once you were out, you looked so harmless and sweet. But lo and behold: you had never been operated in your life, but you had no balls. Well, you have balls for sure, but no testicles in your little ball-sacks. They had never dropped in. So you didn’t get fixed. All that trouble for nothing. You were of course very pleased with yourself, I assume.

A few months later, time was coming for my neighbours to leave the island again. Their house would be occupied by a watchman, and he was ordered to feed you and give you fresh water every day on that back porch. They left a big sack of cat food, which should be enough for the time they were gone. You were in good shape by then, with only some minor scratches now and then, but no gaping holes, festering puncture wounds or other parts missing. You were basically living your independent cat life, apart from that bowl of kibble every day. I was only asked to report back on you every now and then, nothing else. 

The night before their departure, you disappeared, like most house cats would do. It’s that old trick of making us humans extra worried, so that we feel guilty about leaving you behind, even though there is not one hair in your fur that wishes to travel with us.

So as expected, they worried, came over and asked me to keep an eye out for you and let them know if I found you, if you were alright, etc. So suddenly I had cat duties……

 

If you want to read episodes 1-5 of Pumpkins’ story, click here.

(a major case of procrastination)

healthy habits - procrastinationYou may wonder about the picture featuring a bag of Diatomaceous Earth (DE), a brush and a lemon press? Well, the DE became today’s prompt for me to write this post. That bag, no kidding, has been sitting on my counter top in that exact spot for about 2 months now, without ever having been opened. Looking at it this morning it all of a sudden became a very obvious symbol of my personal procrastination…..and that called for some honest writing.

Before I moved it to the counter top, this same bag had been sitting on a shelf for another 4 months at least, again, without being opened. And it isn’t just your ordinary bag of diatomaceous earth (a natural food supplement) that I bought around the corner in the nearest health food store (because there is no such thing as a health food store within a few hundred miles from here). No, this is a Very Special Bag of Diatomaceous Earth because it has been flown in from Canada on my request, and is most likely The Only Bag of Diatomaceous Earth on the whole of Little Corn Island or maybe even in Nicaragua (well, I may have a few healthy friends here and there that might have their own very special bag of DE). 

Why have this stuff brought to me from so far? Because for months I had been regularly reading about all the health benefits and healing properties of it, and how I should take it on a regular basis (see below for relevant links). As if I didn’t have enough healthy habits yet, I felt the need to add the daily ritual of a glass of juice or water with DE to the long list. It was going to change my life for the better. I was going to be even healthier! Yeah, right.

I have literally drank one (1!) glass of it since I got that stuff 6 or 7 months ago, when I prepared it for my cat Pumpkins, to help him with his intestinal parasites (yes, good for pets too!). He had been bloating like a blimp, and the stuff actually helped. But I never took it again.

So how does that work then, creating a new healthy habit? 

Not by just buying the necessary ingredients or equipment (running shoes is another good example) and putting them on your shelf. Even putting them smack in your own face in the middle of the kitchen counter doesn’t seem to do the job. That much is very obvious.

So why does it not work, then?

Because there is more to it. There is a mind you have to deal with. A very resisting mind. Let’s call it ego. Ego doesn’t like change (hmm, where did I hear that before?). So first we have to convince Ego that this new habit is really going to make us feel better. In our argumentation we may have to dwell extensively on all the discomforts that we experience due to NOT having the new healthy habit yet (bloating, digestive issues, etc.). Really convince ego that you’d like to put an end to all that ‘suffering’. Get the main motivation in place. Well, that’s probably where it went wrong for me, because I didn’t feel that bad. So I didn’t have a lot of convincing arguments to win my case against ego and motivate myself. 

healthy habitsOn top of that, I (or was it lazy ego?) managed to come up with a bunch of reasons that made it even more viable not to start that habit of taking DE on a daily basis. For example: I don’t drink milk or factory made fruit juice, so I would have to mix it with water or tea which doesn’t taste too good, or make my own juice. Making my own juice is not only a lot of work, it also would involve electricity, which we don’t have until 1pm, so there was another lovely procrastination argument, because I only take fresh fruits in the morning, before I eat any other foods. So I would have to change a decades-old habit to create this new habit…..ahh, that resistance is taking on unknown dimensions by now……Also, the price of fresh fruits on this little tropical island is ridiculously high because they have to come from far, so taking a glass of fresh juice with DE would become quite an expensive daily habit. And because I have only a small fridge, I would have to go to the village more often and lug all that heavy fruit home several times a week, instead of my regular 1 trip. Whoa, taking DE as a daily supplement had grown into an insurmountable obstacle of hardships, physical and monetary discomfort and a major investment of time (which I could otherwise spend in my hammock, or on the beach). Ego won the case…..I think. I can sit back and relax and not feel guilty.

Well, actually, no. Because there is a very simple solution to wipe all these very strong arguments against the habit off the table in one swipe: just drink it with some water. The taste isn’t that appalling, just a little chalky, something I’m not used to (resistance to change, right?). I bet if I drink it a few days in a row, I won’t even notice it anymore. And hey, by drinking it with water I am saving myself tons of money and time…that’s a win:-)

What it really melts down to is this: how much importance do I want to give to all the arguments against my new healthy habit, and how much am I willing to admit that it is just another example of that infamous resistance to change, fear of something new, having to come just half an inch outside of my comfort zone….(recognize any of this?)

Now let’s look at the actual implementation of this healthy habit-intention. The most important part is remembering to do it every day (our resisting ego is very good in forgetting stuff!). The trick is to use another routine that you already have firmly in place as your daily cue. You just tack the new habit to the existing one. I chose this one:  Every day I take some supplements with some water around lunch time….now it will be: take some supplements with some DE-water around lunch time. The difference between procrastination and starting a new healthy habit can be as small as two capitals and healthy habits - procrastinationa hyphen. Sometimes it’s that simple. I’ll report back to you in a week from now…

 
The other two items in the picture at the top have gone through identical periods of sitting unused on shelves for months…but I am proud to tell you that for at least a year now I have the healthy (and very pleasant) habit of dry-brushing every morning and drinking a glass of lemon water right after I get up and have cleaned my mouth and teeth. I believe there is still hope for my Diatomaceous Earth!

So what could be your procrastination symbol? Take a picture of it, and post it in the comments or maybe just on your own social media as a confession and a commitment at the same time!

 

 

PS: A week after writing this…..I have dropped out of this midday habit, because I don’t want to drink a whole glass of water right before or after lunch. Now I’ve changed the habit to the morning. My first cup of tea has become the victim: I pour it before yoga class and let it sit on the counter getting cold. I put a tea spoon across the cup to remind myself to add the DE before drinking it. By the time I come out of class, I am thirsty, ready to drink a hole cup of lukewarm tea, with its DE! 

So with some trial and error I have found the best way to integrate this habit into my life, finding the way of the least resistance. It is all about taking away the obstacles that we like to blow up to enormous proportions in our imagination, but are actually quite manageable in reality. Go for it! Just do it!

Learn more about Diatomaceous Earth here.

Learn more about dry brushing and its health benefits here.

Learn more about the impact of drinking lemon water every morning here.

 

 

This episode finds you at your new home. You instantly made the big mistake of flagging your territory inside the house as well. That definitely made you a little less welcome, and my neighbours banned you to the porch for good, but you seemed alright with that anyway. Your legs were getting stronger, and you were venturing into the garden every day, and stayed away a little longer every time. You were slowly getting back to being a proper bush cat, always outside. But you had changed your mind about one thing: it was very convenient that you had a plate of food on that porch waiting for you every day, plus some treats whenever they had some tasty leftovers from their dinner. Life wasn’t too bad for you, a couple of months after you dragged yourself near-dead into that hotel-kitchen. It had been worth the humiliating effort of asking for help. 

Pumpkins the cat gets chased by dogsHaving said that, you got into trouble again. Somehow two dogs got you cornered when you had ventured off the deck. My neighbours caught them in the act of tearing you apart, literally. One had hold of your hind legs, the other of your head, and they were pulling in opposite directions. You “looked three feet long” as my neighbour described it agitatedly after they had bravely rescued you from the bloody chops of these ferocious canines. Result: re-traumatised cat with several puncture wounds and cuts. Where had we seen that before? 

Anyway, back on the porch you licked your wounds, stayed low and just recovered again, like you did before. A little more skittish for a bit, but after a while you were just back to your “normal” self. Did I ever tell you that we have a dog on this island that’s called Trouble? I don’t think she gets into a whole lot of trouble herself, but jeez, that name would fit you well, Pumpkins! 

So after this incident my questions were: how do you get yourself into so much trouble…..do you not see the danger coming because you’re partially blind or deaf or otherwise impaired? Or do you not consider it danger? Did the Creator not fit you out with a healthy sense of danger-assessing abilities, the way they usually come with a complete cat-kit? Do you just have no concept of danger at all? Are you a total dare-devil? Or do you have such a big ego that you think that you can handle everything, and no cat or dog or even two or three dogs can bring you down?  Maybe you are just plain suicidal but not very successful at it? I am not sure what is the answer to these speculations. Let’s keep it on a mixture of all of them. Although, on second thought, if you were suicidal you wouldn’t have dragged yourself into that kitchen. So fair enough, we’ll scratch that option. 

Life goes on even if you're woundedRecently I was reading a book by Wayne Dyer, such a wise man. Illustrating the concept of living in the moment he described how he had once been on a safari where he watched a zebra peacefully grazing and chewing her food. She seemed very graceful and calm, notwithstanding the fact that one of her legs had been chewed off by lions the night before, but she had somehow escaped. Since there was nothing she could do to change the situation of her probable near-death, she just went on with what she would always do in the morning: have breakfast, and then go for a drink at the watering hole. When I read that story, I couldn’t help but think of you, Pumpkins. Even though you are severely damaged at times, you just go on with life, as normal as possible. 

We humans could learn a lesson or two from animals here, couldn’t we? Whenever we get “severely damaged”, we curl up in bed and cry and whine and feel very sorry for ourselves and hope that everybody else also feels very sorry for us, and how are we ever going to get over this misery? Often we need counselling to get over all our traumatic experiences, or store it at cell level in our bodies which then start aching or develop chronic diseases……Right? Well, as the zebra and Pumpkins have been illustrating, there are other ways to deal with trauma…… Just saying.

 

If you missed earlier episodes of Pumpkins’ story, you can read them here.

 

 

 

The Karma Shack blogGratitude is a much used word these days. In this new age of spiritual change that seems to spread slowly but steadily, you hear people talk about gratitude left, right and centre. Every third quote on Facebook seems to be about gratitude. Gratitude is being quoted as the secret to happiness. If you just start being grateful, happiness will find you easily. Is it really that easy? Or is everybody just talking after each other, without really knowing what they are saying? How many of them practice gratitude on a daily basis? Is gratitude becoming a platitude? I’d like to explore that idea here…..

Those of you who have ever been to one of my yoga classes in the Karma Shack know that I always end the session with a little gratitude contemplation. I express amongst other things how extremely grateful I am for everything that the Karma Shack has brought into my life: growth, depth, joy and fulfilment, and the fact that I can share all that with others in my classes and treatments. The first time I said this out loud in class, it was a spontaneous act. As if the thoughts had been put in my head and my mouth just worded them, without much conscious input from yours truly. I had goose bumps and tears in my eyes. Because it sounded so totally true. I felt that gratitude deep inside, in every cell of my body, and it made me very happy. It was real.
I realised that by saying it out loud every day I confirmed that happiness over and over again, and I started adding this little gratitude prayer to the end of each yoga session. Every day it feels true. I am thankful for the Karma Shack in so many ways, and I even believe that that little building keeps handing me more good stuff because I thank it out loud in front of everybody every day.

 

Apart from that daily public expression of gratitude, I do another little private round in the evening, the moment I lay my head on my pillow. I run quietly through my day and name all the things, events and people that I feel grateful for: an inspired yoga session, a pile of clean laundry, a super-satisfied massage client, a hummingbird visiting the Karma Shack garden while I am at work there, a visit with a friend where one cup of tea leads to another and to a very intimate conversation, my cat Pumpkins joining us in a Karma Shack yoga session or sitting on my lap all afternoon while I am writing, a beautiful meal with veggies and herbs from my own garden, the fact that I can go to bed at eight without feeling that I am missing out on anything. Then I fall asleep with a peaceful mind in less than 5 minutes, usually. 

Another cat had gotten air of you, Pumpkins, the new cat on the block, and had started marking its territory outside my house, in the garden, and even on my doorpost and porch bench. That freaked you out. You had to do something. So you actually ventured down the steps into the yard, and spritzed your best scent all over the place. In the mean time I scrubbed the doorpost and the porch bench. It had been another cat 

pumpkins the cat that changed his mindand a challenging situation that had made you brave enough to come out of the house and get back into the big world. Go Pumpkins! We all need a little push now and then to get out of our comfort zone, or out of our funk.

But this other tom cat wouldn’t put up with the unknown invader that was hidden in my house. At night he would come to piss all over the place again, and actually start a fight with you, through the crack under the front door. Growling, scratching and full on screeching was taking place in the middle of the night. Hmmm, not so much fun anymore to take care of you, Pumpkins, since this was costing me my precious sleep. Luckily my neighbours were coming back soon!

A few days after their arrival we transferred you to their house. I thought I was just going to carry you up there, but I had totally overrated our relationship that was barely a week old. Maybe I thought that picking you up was an OK thing to do by then, but you definitely didn’t agree. Ten metres away from my house you put up a fight and I had to let you go. Mission aborted.

 

Pumpkins the cat that changed his mind

So I had to find a box and fix it in such a way that I could put you in and close it in one smooth move, before you would find your way out. Only then we could move you to your new home. You were not pleased at all with that box-manoeuvre. All cats like boxes, but only if they can play with them in their own time. The moment you put them in there when it is not playing time, they are highly offended. As they always are when they are not being treated like the queens and kings they all think they are, you included, my dear damaged Pumpkins.

At your new home you were getting the back room and adjoining porch as your domain. There was a litter box inside, and corners to hide, and during the day the door to the porch was open, so you could be on the balcony, safe from dog attacks, because there was a dense railing all around. You could see the world, and you could squeeze through if you wanted, but no dog could come in and get you, and that was the main goal: keeping you safe from mauling dogs, that had done such terrible damage to your body and to your mind, while you were recovering.

You didn’t start off too friendly with your new caretakers, and they may have been a little impatient for you to become a sweet and cuddly house kitty, who knows. You lashed out at either one of them every once in a while, and bit them several times, so they started calling you psycho kitty, which probably wasn’t helping the situation. When we repeatedly say or hear something, it becomes a belief and then gets confirmed time and again, because we start to manifest more of it. The Universe (or God, if you want to call it that) will always provide us with what we put our energy to. So my neighbours got more unexpected scratches and bites, thanks to the fact that they called you Psycho Kitty. This is my belief. Because after enough time for you to get used to me, you hardly ever lash out to me anymore. And I have never called you psycho kitty. So there you go, theory proven right, right? Life can be so simple.

Missed the first 3 episodes of Pumpkins’ story? You can find them

here.

 

 

Read more about cat behaviour:

 

We’re slowly advancing into your story, probably as slow as you were recovering. 

The cat that changed his mindKaren was going to leave the island and wanted to take you with her, but you were still in no shape to travel. Even though we have learned here on the island that it is easier for a Nicaraguan cat or dog to get into the US than for a Nicaraguan human, for sure no vet would give you a clean bill of health, mandatory to travel. So we looked at other options. My landlord was not particularly fond of cats, so I couldn’t adopt you. I asked my neighbours, who had once told me they were cat people, although they were forever taking care of dogs. They agreed to take you in, when they would arrive on the island for the season. But between Karen’s departure and my neighbour’s arrival was a 10-day gap. So there I came in. Since it was only for 10 days my landlord was willing to give me an OK on having a cat around. You were still so injured it was unlikely that you were really going to go around and make a mess everywhere and get into fights with other cats (we thought…). Under your loud protests we stuck you in a cat carrier and wheelbarrowed you to my house, into strange territory. It must have been another terrifying experience.

 

Once we arrived and let you out, you scooted under the bed, and stayed there for the rest of the day. For the next few days, the far end corner of the bed was where you ensconced yourself. Hardly visible for the outside world, but you could just peek around the corner and keep a lookout through the open door. Then, a couple of days later, you posted yourself on the far corner of the mat that Karen had given me,  it must have smelled familiar, I guess. You still did not want to go outside. The big world had really given you a good scare, apparently, and on top of that you must have felt that your weak legs were a major handicap when it would come to confronting whatever danger was lurking out there. You were happy to use a litter box, since that relieved you from the need to go outside, but your stiff legs that still prevented a proper squat sometimes made you miss the box, so I was mopping every day, sometimes a couple of times a day. My little house smelled of you, Pumpkins, and it was OK. 

The way you were taking your time to recover from your fears AND wounds was an eye-opener for me. You were constantly sitting with your fears balancing on the edge of your confidence, nudging the limits of your comfort zone. Shifting them a little bit every day, moving a little closer to that open door. You weren’t wallowing in you misery and fears, but gave them time to calm down and subside. You weren’t going to be traumatised forever, that wouldn’t work for a bush cat, would it? You had to get back out there, but only when you were ready. In the right time it would happen. An amazing process.The cat that changed his mind

Then you moved to the door mat.

And then trouble came around. 

To be continued….

 

(This story takes place on Little Corn Island, Nicaragua. You can read parts 1 and 2 of Pumpkins’ story here)

 

So there you were: a wreck.

At first sight I had even had thoughts about how we could help you out of your misery in the most humane way by ourselves, since there was no veterinarian on the island, and you looked beyond repair with your snapped spine and dragging hind legs. Karen had the same thoughts, but she also felt that she could at least try and make you feel comfortable and safe, until you perished or would be “destroyed” as she would say. (I found that the most horrible expression ever for putting you down. But then I am not American, and maybe this is a common word for it in the US?)

Anyway.  You did’t get destroyed, nor did you perish….you started to improve….. 

Only later did I come to understand that you are not an ordinary cat with 9 lives. You have probably 58 or more. 

So under Karen’s nursing love and patience, you showed signs of getting better. You started to be able to use your legs again, which was amazing, after the way your spine had been twisted. On your own, without surgery, without pain killers, without physiotherapy, crutches or braces, you just started to use those skinny legs again, bit by bit. It made me wonder why an animal can do that, and we (Western?) humans think we are incapable of it. Then I realised that you can, because you have no other options. You don’t know about doctors and operations and pain killers, and that is why you don’t need them. You either get better and survive, or you die. That is nature in all its simplicity and beauty, God at work. In nature you don’t have prescription drugs that you will have to take every single day, thinking that otherwise you will be sick and suffering for the rest of your life. We humans do that, because we cling on to life, with all our might (which is in fact not so mighty at all), and the pharmaceutical industry makes sure that we believe that we need all their medicine to be able to survive. We cannot deal with discomfort, and most certainly not with the idea that life might be short. We are unwilling to accept life as it comes to us, with disease and injuries, that either heal or not. Basically, with medicine and operations, we are just trying to play God, aren’t we?

Oh well, I got side-tracked here. Back to you, Pumpkins. You slowly managed to stand on your own feet again, and walk, albeit awkwardly. Jumping was still out of the question, and so was sitting. It was funny to see you trying, but literally not being able to bend your knees enough to sit on your haunches. It reminded me of some of my less flexible yoga students (usually guys, sorry, men!), trying to do the Garland Pose or Malasana. Garland Pose is a beautiful name for a wide-footed hip-opening squat where you push your knees outwards with your elbows, while your

hands are folded against each other in a praying gesture in front of your chest. The idea is to have the feet flat on the ground, but with short leg muscles and more than anything with tight hips, you cannot squat very deeply without lifting your heels off the ground. But since most people always want to go as deep as everybody else in yoga class (what do you mean, shutting up that little ego-voice in our heads and just be on our own mats without constantly comparing ourselves with others?), those heels will come off the ground and the not-so-flexible yoga student will be squatting on his toes, which will make him lose the stretch in the hips. But as a cat you don’t have a concept of squatting as deep as everybody else; you have no need to be as good as everybody else. So when your heels started to come off the ground, you just stayed there and didn’t squat any deeper. It looked very awkward, and it probably was, because you never sat for long. It taught me that when I have such a tight student in class I maybe should not make them stay in this pose for too long, because they are most likely feeling very awkward. Bummer, because I love to hang out in Garland Pose forever! So guys, be grateful for Pumpkins teaching me this lesson!

(This story takes place on Little Corn Island, Nicaragua. Read part 1 of Pumpkins’ story here)

 

To be continued…. 

The first time I met you, you were completely broken, severely damaged. Both physically and emotionally, it seemed. When you dragged yourself into that hotel kitchen, you looked more dead than alive, but at the same time you seemed determined to get in there, exposing yourself to all these people you’d never met before. It was probably the last thing you wanted to do in that miserable and vulnerable state you were in, but it was also the last thing that you could do, since you had decided that you didn’t want to die yet.
The amazing thing was, that in all your squalor and brokenness, you still radiated a certain stoic arrogance and fearlessness, as if it was the most common thing to do for a wild cat: scramble into unknown human territory while you were skin over bones with festering puncture wounds and your hindquarters dragging behind you. You were probably scared to death, but at the same time you didn’t care anymore. You were at the end of your rope.

And the moment I saw you, I could feel exactly that: you had surrendered to God, to get help in any way imaginable, and in this case you were imagining that these humans were going to take care of you, even though they had never met you before. I call that Faith with a capital F. And you had it. 

The fact that the girls in the kitchen didn’t throw you out and just let you be there was a first sign that you were right. The fact that Karen, the manager of that place and a friend of mine decided to take care of you proved you right even more. Basically you had asked for help…..and received it! Life can be so simple. It was a brave thing to do, and probably not easy for you at all. ( Like it is for most of us humans. Why do we find it so difficult to ask for help? Is that just because it shows our vulnerability?)

Once you knew you could stay in this safe place, you let your trauma come out, and all of a sudden you were scared of everything. Nobody could come close to you except Karen, every little sound or movement startled you and made you scoot into a corner or under a couch as fast as your malfunctioning legs would let you. You were filthy and smelly , because you would pee yourself since you couldn’t squat properly. Your tomcat pride must have received a big blow by that attack that you had to fight off out there in the bush, but it was still being hurt time and again while you were recovering all these weeks and couldn’t show off your strong and proud tomcat image yet. 

In all your wounded vulnerability you were small, very small. In physical size and weight (when you dragged yourself in you probably weighed less than 4 pounds), but also in your severely damaged ego. There was not much left of it, it seemed. Totally subdued and afraid of everything. You were a total wreck.

 

To be continued…

How I got to start this blog….

For my very first blog post I have chosen to do a bit of a free writing exercise and just let the words flow. I have spent a good two months preparing the website, and now I am ready to publish it and start writing and posting the stuff that I am passionate about. That is a lot, so this blog might end up covering a lot of ground over time. From meditation and yoga posts to nutrition, skin care and healthy habits. I will explore the phenomenon “comfort zone” and invite you to check in with yours. There will be posts about fear and what it does to us, about karma and how we can use that as a tool in our lives. I will talk about creative living, trash and doing something different, about patience and compassion, self-love and mindfulness AND I will write with regular intervals about Pumpkins the cat.

 

Pumpkins

It’s all his fault. Blame it on the cat. When he walked into my life and I reluctantly let him stay, so many things happened and fell into place for me that I felt a compelling urge to start writing about it and create this website. I had been playing with several ideas for blogs in the last couple of years, but never got the guts to start one. A case of major laziness and procrastination, of not wanting to get out of my Karma Shack comfort zone (that is 4 blog topics in one sentence). 

 

I love writing, always have. Already as a little kid I would write 8 pages for an essay assignment in the time that other kids barely managed to squeeze out 4 sentences. I used to have pen pals (yes I grew up in an era of snail mail, and it was so much more exciting to come home from school and find a letter on the doormat, than getting non-stop notifications popping up on your phone!). I journaled for years as a teenager (and burned those diaries years later when I found it too embarrassing to even finish reading through them again) and never procrastinated writing a paper for a school assignment. All of my ex-boyfriends would receive one or more long letters after we broke up, in which I would explain exactly how I felt and what I thought about them (I wonder if any one of these guys has kept one?). 

 

alice

My father was an art critic for a major Dutch newspaper, my uncle director of the Royal Library in The Hague (and he co-wrote a Dutch translation of Alice in Wonderland, how awesome is that?), my brother has had his own advertising and publicity agency where he has been doing all the copywriting himself for probably 25 years now. So I guess the writing runs in my blood. And even though I am making  a living as a yoga instructor and body and energy worker right now, it seems that writing has edged itself sideways into my life after all, in a similar way as the cat has. It snuck into my life so subtly that there was no one point where I could say no! And now it has become a heartfelt YES for writing (and for Pumpkins the cat)!

 

I tell you all this, because it is actually quite significant. This blog is the living proof that every now and then you have to open your mind to new and scary things (a cat!, taking a 30-day writing challenge!, starting a blog!), to give your innate passion a chance to come out and express itself.

If I would not have let that cat edge himself into my life I would not have started to contemplate on myself and life in general the way I did when I was observing him and commenting to him (well, to myself, basically) on his process of domestication. His evolution from wild bush cat into loving and loveable house cat seemed to mirror and relate my own process of learning to love myself and be loved.

The longer Pumpkins hang around and the closer he got to me, the more I caught myself thinking that between him and me we had some serious write-worthy material going on…… Then a friend visited. A musician, poet, song-writer and singer. I told him about Pumpkins and about my personal parallel journey. He said: “Girl, you got a book there!”.  And that’s when I knew I wasn’t making things up. It was a story worth writing, and I started the very next morning. Soon I realised that this cat story could consist of a whole series of short chapters, each with their own theme, which is perfect for a blog. And having to keep up a blog would be the ultimate accountability trick to keep me writing and not let the whole project end in a writer’s block or the lame excuse of not having enough time. With a blog, you have an obligation to your readers to show up regularly. Now I cannot avoid writing that book, one blog post at a time. So yes, Grant Peeples, you are another cat-alyst that made me start this blog by telling me I should write that book.

 

A few days after I had decided to write the book, I received an email announcing a 30-day online creative writing challenge. The timing seemed significant and it wasn’t too expensive, so I signed up for ‘Write Yourself Alive’. And boy, did I write myself alive! It was so much fun, at times liberating or very challenging, going deep into myself or just making it all up in the spur of the moment. It was a month of being totally immersed in bringing out my true self, in writing. The connection with other participants was encouraging, and I felt inspired and motivated every day, just by the act of sitting down and writing for a couple of hours. I learned that some creative action every day actually creates inspiration for your whole day, for all the other things you have to do that don’t seem very inspiring, like laundry, shopping and working to pay the bills. Although I have been a creative throughout my life, I had never consciously learned to use creativity as the motivation-tool that it totally is.

So after the cat and my poet-friend, this 30-day writing challenge became the 3rd and decisive cat-alyst to start this blog. Now I had a peer-group that encouraged me and which could hold me accountable, since I wrote on the group-page that I was starting a blog. There was no way back, I was going to be a blogger…

 

Starting a blog involves creating a website, which you can make as simple or as complicated as you want. I had never done such a thing before, and identify myself as a total digital dinosaur. (I always explain how I left the Western world in ‘the last millennium’ which sounds so awesomely ancient. People had just started to use hotmail accounts then, e-commerce had still not really taken off and less than a third of our population had a cell phone (I bought my first one a year ago). Just to give you an idea).

computercrash

I have always nurtured quite a bit of fear for computers and other digital gadgets, because they tend to shut down on me, freeze in my hands or even die when I just look at them (I was glad when I found out a couple of years ago that there is a scientific explanation for this phenomenon, and that I am not a witch again, as I apparently was in a former lifetime). My last computer outlived its one-year warranty by nineteen(!) days before it passed away from one day to the next. Beyond repair.
So yes, the digital world has me somewhat daunted. Which meant that wanting to start a blog/website was quite a bold decision, which definitely got me Out Of My Comfort Zone big time. I googled “How to start a blog”, found a helpful website written for dummies, and got a tip for a web host that has user-friendly templates. They said that creating your website would be as easy as drop-and-drag……..well, kind of, but not completely. Being the writer-formerly-trained-as-designer I will of course not settle for the simple bloggers template. I need more personal input, AND I have a business, that I might as well put on that website now that I am making one. Add to that all the interesting stuff related to the Karma Shack and everything that I learned through it….This should be much more than a cat blog. The project started to take on serious proportions.

Scary digital design for a good-sized website….and I was still not giving up? Wow, where did I find that motivation I hear you ask? I know, I was quite surprised and amazed myself.

 

Of course it went wrong many times, and I got quite intimate with several of the chat help desk assistants of the web host. Most of them are quite patient. Only a couple of them started throwing code at me, which I just whacked back at them immediately. There is going to be no code in my life! Thank you.

At a certain point I had been messing up so much, that I decided to start all over again. Mind you, we’re talking days of work here…. and somehow I was still motivated to keep going. At one point I gave a friend a little preview. She said she was impressed and I realised only at that moment that I was as impressed by myself as she was. Which made me laugh, proud and determined to finish!

 

steep-learning-curve-ahead-1

The learning curve so far has been steeper than your average Nicaraguan volcano hike, and will continue to go up for quite a while longer (note to self: learning as a blog topic). But for now I am just happy that this website is up, and that I am blogging. A new phase in my life has just begun, and I am very excited about it!

 

I hope you will get a little enthusiastic for me as well, that would be very helpful, thank you so much. Some cheering on, some constructive feedback, a little pep talk, some appreciating comments,…you know, the small stuff that makes or breaks a person’s ego and related motivation……Go on, you spent probably about 8 minutes reading all this, you might as well take another two minutes to write a little comment……I dare you to do some creative writing yourselves, it’s very refreshing!