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Shedding Fur: What We Can Learn from Cats

It’s the season when cats take off their winter coats—all over the place. Being the humble slave of two black cats, I have particular reasons to notice the results of the shedding process.

I notice two things about shedding. The first is that it’s messy for me. The second is that the cats, once having shed their fur, ignore it. They have truly shed it, and it no longer belongs to them.

We humans don’t have the same ease with our own shedding of beliefs and habits. If you’ve ever tried to release a habit, you will have noticed that it doesn’t fall away as readily as cats’ fur. It seems to have a stickiness about it.

Cats know that when the weather gets warmer, they need to get rid of excess fur so that they’ll feel comfortable. Humans, however, even though they may intellectually know that the release of a negative physical, mental, or emotional habit will ultimately make their lives for comfortable, emotionally feel that they need the comfort they’ve come to associate with that repeated pattern.

We can also make the shedding process more difficult when we blame ourselves for not being able to do it. You’ll notice that cats never blame themselves for anything (even when we think they should). Remember, they’re thinking about how great it will be to get rid of that fur. If we can shift our thoughts and feelings to the reward of feeling better, we can more easily shed.

The reluctance to shed can take many forms. I am currently in the process of revising a novel I initially wrote a number of years ago. I know it needs some major—and drastic—changes, but I read so many words that I really like. I hate to push the delete button, but I must if I ultimately want to write a better book.

So, up until now, the process of revising and editing has been emotionally messy. I’ve resisted it and tried countless ways to change it and still hold onto the words I like. It hasn’t worked and let me to a massive writer’s block yesterday.

Instead, I cleaned the house, going after those clumps of fur. Today I have decided to write like a cat. I will look at those words, appreciate them, and know that there are a lot more where they came from. I will shed.

Is Blogging Harmful to the Brain?

I was at an event with friends last night. One said that too much immersion in social media lowers intelligence. Judging by some of the posts that come onto my Facebook feed, I would say the damage has been done.

Here, though, is the irony for a writer. Long gone are the days when you could submit your book to an agent or publishing house and sit back and let them do all the publicity work. (It is quite possible that those days never were.) Even traditionally published authors are now expected to put on their big-girl or big-boy pants and engage with social media.

Some of this engagement is downright soul-sucking, for example decoding Amazon algorithms. What, you might ask, is an algorithm? In its simplest terms, it’s the secret formula that enables readers to find your book among the millions of books on Amazon. For me, though, the word “algorithm” conjures up memories of struggling with math, and that makes me want to curl up into a ball and read the nice book I found at the library.

I have no doubt that trying to master algorithms harms the brain, but I will conquer them. Maybe.

Other forms of social media are somewhat less frightening in the math department but still challenge me. One must always avoid saying “Buy my book” in either a shout or a whimper. One must think of entertaining things to say. This is difficult to do on demand—which brings me back to blogging.

I abandoned this blog in November, 2016, around when I first stepped into algorithmic territory. Having finally figured out how to link my blog to my site, I have returned. I don’t know how often I’ll post here, but I’m aiming for once a week. My aim is not that good.

Still, I’m excited to be writing my first Word Press blog entry, so for me that’s a win.

Post-Election Stress Relief

So many people are stressed out, frightened, and angry. Brain biology teaches us that when the primitive brain, which controls the fight-flight-freeze reaction, is activated, it draws blood from the frontal lobes, which control the ability to think and act with the gifts of intuition, reason, and logic.

With that in mind, I’m offering a list of things you can do right now to reduce stress in your life.

1. Breathe. Stress and anxiety can lead to shallow breathing, which in turn increases these feelings. We need oxygen, and we need to relax the solar plexus muscles. When you feel yourself getting stressed and anxious, stop and take several long, deep breaths.

2. Drink water. This goes along with breathing. Fear and anxiety can create toxic emotions that turn into physical toxins.

3. Take flower essences. Dr. Edward Bach began his work following the horror of World War I and the influenza epidemic. As a world-wide economic depression deepened and fascism began to rise in Europe, he developed the Bach Flower Remedies, which helped countless people restore emotional balance.

They are as helpful today as they were then. I will provide a future post about this and for today will list a few that can help immediately.

Rescue Remedy is one of the world’s most popular Remedies. Combining 5 Bach Flower Remedies, it can help with shock, trauma, terror, numbness, and other emotions.

Sweet Chestnut is valuable for despair. Mustard helps with gloom. Star of Bethlehem helps with shock and trauma.

4. Tap. If you aren’t familiar with EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or other forms of tapping, this is a great time to learn. EFT Down Under is one of my favorite sites for learning.

5. Be cautious about social media. I see lots of inspiring posts on Facebook, for example, but there’s a lot of negativity, too. I’m not condemning the people who post negative articles, but I’m avoiding the self-destructive urge to click on those links.

6. Reach out to friends. For many of us, this is a time to connect to others for mutual support.

7. Be active. If you belong to groups working for social justice, increase your participation.

8. Practice mindfulness. This may mean meditation, yoga, chi kung, or any discipline that returns your focus to the Now.

9. Cherish the present moment. Mindfulness also means remembering that what we create in the present becomes our future. And fear of the future poisons the present moment.

10. Don’t hate. It’s so easy to do at present. I’m reminding myself that it takes two sides to make a divided country (or world). I may vigorously disagree with people, but to deny their humanity diminishes my own.

Finally, I’m sharing links to two poems that are guiding me through the present moment.

This links to St. Francis’s poem that begins, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”

The second is Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Please Call Me by my True Names.” This is a beautiful plea for compassion.

Books

All four books in A Dragon’s Guide to Destiny are now available to read for free in KindleUnlimited, a lending library program through which you can borrow up to ten books at a time and pay only a monthly fee of $9.99. The first trial month is free.Learn more about Kindle Unlimited here.

Get Gone to Flowers here.

Latest Publication: Book of Sorrows:
Book 4 of A Dragon’s Guide to Destiny

Book 1
big dragons

A cunning opportunist incites the people of Oasis to kill the local dragon so that he can convert Druid’s swamp into suburban housing. The would-be dragonslayer also plans to have the Guardian of Oasis assassinated and assume power. Unless the dragon joins a kitten with attitude and a human with suspicious psychic gifts, Oasis is finished.Read more here.

Buy here

Book 2
sky

For centuries, a priestess cult has ruled the land of Dolocairn. Now drug lords seek to take control. As part of their campaign to broaden their power, they use drugs that induce amnesia and death to attack the land of Oasis. Serazina, the Heroine of Oasis, must go to Dolocairn to stop them. Tara, a fearless kitten, and Druid, a melancholy dragon, accompany her. They may not get out alive.Read more here.

Buy here.

Book 3
house of  moon
In the deep desert of Etrenzia, a young scientist is kidnapped. Her sister, Serazina, Heroine of Oasis, braves giant snakes, sandstorms, and invisible enemies to try to rescue her. Phileas, Guardian of Oasis, who has fallen in love with her, shares her ordeals. Neither of them knows they are being lured to the desert for a purpose far more sinister than their worst fears.Read more here.

Buy here.

Book 4
cats in charge

The four stars of the series-a dragon, a cat, and two humans-go to the land of Tamaras to investigate a series of earthquakes. They travel through layers of mystery and deceit to an underground world, where a dragon queen appears to hold total power. Here they discover that invisible forces control the populations both above and belowground through a mysterious force called The Book of Sorrows.Read more about the book here.

Buy here.

More Fiction

cats in charge Written by Tara, a main character in the Dragon’s Guide to Destiny series and a cat who has devoted her life to training humans, this book brings her expertise to answer cats’ urgent questions about choosing the right humans, taking control of the household, getting the best food, toys, treats, and pouncing on a life where cats are truly in charge. Read more here and see your buying choices. gone to flowers Time-travel to the 1960s and enter the lives of four young people living with others in a rural commune. This novel will take you beyond sex, drugs, and rock n ‘roll to their challenges with love, loyalty, and self-discovery.See the top of this page to learn how to read this book for free.

Read more here. Read the first chapter.

Nonfiction: Energy Psychology and More

swamp NEW! Previously taken as a course by people all over the world, this book provides a practical and literally hands-on approach to chakra balancing using crystals and essences. Each chakra is related to a key area of life, such as grounding, sexuality, abundance, love, creativity and communication, intuition, and oneness.Read more here, including a sample chapter. Here you can also see your buying choices. catsanddogs This book incorporates what I’ve learned since becoming a Bach Flower Remedies practitioner in 1990. Much of my practice has been devoted to counseling for companion animals.

Read more here, including a sample chapter.

Available at amazon.com and other bookstores.

Links

Links

ShastaConnect.com: Mt Shasta area businesses and lightworkers community directory, including a community calendar and Mt Shasta Resource Book.

Celtic Guitar Music Glenn Weiser has written several volumes of Celtic music arranged for fingerstyle guitar. His site contains reviews of his books, Celtic discogaphies, and magazine articles he has written on Celtic guitar.

Woodstock School of Art is where I’ve been learning to paint since 1994. I am still learning. Classes are available in oil, watercolor, pastels, drawing, printwork, and more. This is a very friendly place to learn painting.

Woodstock Artists Association and Museum (WAAM) I am a member of WAAM, which has monthly exhibitions, classes, and lectures about art.

Writing Links
Query Shark Watch your toes. The Shark takes no prisoners. Here is some of the best advice you’ll ever find about writing a query letter.

Nathan Bransford’s Blog To the regret of many, Nathan Bransford is no longer a literary agent, but he still knows a lot. This site also has a number of active discussion boards. If you want to meet fellow writers, this is the place.

National Writers Union If you don’t think writers need a union, visit this site, and you might change your mind. I am a member.

Official Website of J.R. Turner Jenny is an old friend and a terrific and prolific writer. Check out her books.

Antellus – Books and Ebooks by Theresa M. Moore

Discover New Books and Authors
At These Blogs and Web Sites
Indiebooks features independently published books. They were kind enough to feature mine.

Indie Book Lounge Pull up a chair, relax, and discover new writing talent.

 

A Mindfulness Meditation

Because today it is almost too hot to think (whenever I try, I feel brain cells melting), I am doing a very short post, a poem I wrote an introduction to a seminar I led on mindfulness. Re-reading it has reminded me to be mindful and to look for those aspects of the present moment that I can enjoy.

I have an appointment with life.

It is here,

It is now.

I free myself from the stale air of the past.

I smile at the imaginary darkness of the future.

Breathing in,

Breathing out,

I open my heart to the miracle of the present moment.

6 Mindful Ways To Survive the Electoral Season

Although this post is specifically directed to U.S. readers, the suggestions can help in any potentially confrontational situation.

After the Republican and Democratic conventions, I realized that I wasn’t looking forward to the coming three months. Some very sharp divisions had emerged, and I had feelings about the candidates that differed from those of close friends.

I didn’t want to argue. I didn’t want to prove that I was right. With peace in mind, I set out to determine how I could survive August, September, and October. Here’s my list of tools.

1. My Friends are More Important Than My Opinions.

I treasure my friendships. I do not treasure my political opinions. In the end, no matter who wins the election, I will need my friends.

2. I Don’t Want My Ego to Be Running This Show.

In the final analysis, my political opinions are no more than an extension of my ego. My ego is the one who has to be right and who has to have agreement that it’s right. I want to live outside that constricting space.

3. Kindness is More Important Than Correctness.

I may disagree with people, but it’s more important to care about them.

4. It’s Helpful to Spend Less Time on Facebook.

There are many, many opinions on Facebook. I am tempted to respond to the absolutely ridiculous things that some people are saying. Such temptations should be resisted. One way to avoid temptation is to listen to a guided meditation instead of reading an idiotic post.

5. Life Goes On.

Unless it doesn’t, in which case it was really a waste of time and energy to get aggravated about political issues.

6. The Present Moment Is What Matters.

In the present moment, there are no ballots, political debates, or disagreements. There is only the spacious Now, and how I live it will determine how all following moments unfold.

Mindfulness and Pardoning

This morning I thought about St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer:

“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

It is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”

Each line in this prayer might form the basis for meditation. This one most affected me.

“It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”

I Only Meet Myself

I have been doing a method called shadow work, which involves deeply exploring those aspects of self that we learned as children to name wrong. We bury these thoughts and behaviors deep within ourselves, hidden from even our own awareness.

I, for example, was told that it was wrong to talk about myself by naming either my accomplishments or my problems. I made successful efforts to suppress such temptations.

That doesn’t mean they dissolved. The desire, though concealed, had an energetic charge that attracted lots of people who had no problem talking about themselves. I disliked them for their selfish and WRONG demands to be noticed.

Shadow work revealed that beneath my disapproval lay envy. Why did I have to bury my desire to express myself when they didn’t?

The more honestly I examined this discovery the more fully my judgment released. It took some time, but I learned to forgive those bad people for getting away with it.

Hidden Gold

In the foreword to The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, by Debbie Ford, Neale Donald Walsch speaks of learning that his “faults” were simply assets that he’d exaggerated. His bragging was overamplified confidence. His recklessness was exaggerated spontaneity and enthusiasm. He only needed to practice dialing down the volume of self-expression.

Herein lies the beauty and power of pardoning. If I can hear people going on about themselves without judgment, my act of pardoning them also pardons me for that disowned aspect of myself. I can look at it as a gift to be used wisely.

I am learning to balance talking about myself with thoughtful and caring listening to others. I may say, “I think I know how you feel because I have had this experience” and find other ways to build bridges instead of isolating ego towers.

With this and other suppressed aspects of myself, I am learning to uncover the gifts that have remained hidden for so many years.

Truly, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned—and set free.

Mindfulness and the Bodhisattva

In Mahayana Buddhism (practiced in Tibet, China, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, and Indonesia), a bodhisattva is someone who intends to become awake in order to liberate others. While most of us wake up wondering, “What can I do to make myself happy?”, the bodhisattva begins each day wondering what he or she can do to make others happy.

To do so, they don’t sink into self-hood (or ego), which they recognize as a false creation of the mind. It’s a state of “me-ness” that goes against the natural condition of oneness. Trying to hold the self apart and protected causes tension and pain. When threatened, the “me” gets angry. Observing “me’s who present more successful façades causes envy.

I was sure that this “me” obstacle would disqualify me for even baby bodhisattva status. Like many people working on spiritual awareness, I was always bumping into a stubborn ego. In the midst of wondering, I came across this quote by Thich Nhat Hanh:

“A bodhisattva doesn’t have to be perfect. Anyone who is aware of what is happening and who tries to wake up other people is a bodhisattva. We are all bodhisattvas, doing our best.”

That opened new possibilities. I recognized that being mindful of my habitual negative (ego-driven) thoughts ultimately means accepting them instead of trying to bury them. The way to selflessness is not around the troublesome self but through it.

Developing deeper self-esteem satisfies the need for attention of an entity I have come to see as a lonely and generally unhappy three-year-old who built an ego to clothe her naked needs.

Self-acceptance provides a better wardrobe. The warmly dressed and deeply loved child who has assumed ego form can retreat to become the inner child who supports one’s joy, creativity, and faith. With that foundation, it becomes possible to turn one’s attention to the needs of others.

When we clear out space to accept ourselves as we are, we learn to accept others as they are. That kind of acceptance teaches us kindness and generosity.

We can say, “Just like me, this person suffers, feels guilty, has made mistakes, and wants to experience love.” Every time we recognize ourselves in another, we expand our capacity for mindful compassion.

This is surely the path of a bodhisattva.