Kitten ruminations

I have to admit— I’m exhausted. I’ve been cleaning up after and playing with kittens for probably 3 hours this morning while spending another hour on laundry and 30 minutes on the kitchen and 15 minutes on the birds. (Though they cockatoo spent at least an hour on my shoulder.)

It’s cold and rainy and I just ate breakfast at 11:30. The teens are due home from school around 1 pm, at which point we are taking Zeus and Apollo, two of the three remaining foster kittens from the Greek Pride, to Chaar pet supply in Forks Township to live in one of their habitats for a while. And hopefully find a home.

Hermes and Apollo are both still skittish, but Apollo is definitely braver than Hermes. Apollo will sit with you— just don’t touch him! He won’t lash out on you but he will leave. And look at you like you are a presumptuous monster.

Hermes and Apollo

According to our foster godmother, Hades is doing well but still retains her feral instincts so transitioning her out of domestic life was the right call. We may get to see her in our cat-themed travels today.

The Greek Pride taught me a lot about the classic “nature vs nurture” debate. The Greek Pride has five members— Artemus, Hades, Zeus, Apollo and Hermes.

Artemus (then Artemis) came to us fully socialized. He found a wonderful family and became Artemus Gordon sidekick for a real life Jim West.

Zeus was the runt, but learned to play and frolick very quickly. Apollo and Hermes want to trust people but both became very sick and needed medicine to heal. They have bad associations with human hands and won’t let you touch them.

And then Hades… she’s the one that bit me and would walk right up as if interested in me and then run. Her behavior got increasingly aggressive instead of calmer.

Five very different cats, from the same litter, that were wired very differently. They had the same life circumstances but different outcomes.

Reminds me of some human families, including my own.

Barometer of mood

Earlier this week and late last week I was struggling emotionally— my financial status growing more precarious and my friends feeling distant, etc. Nothing any more serious than what many other people are going through.

And then Tuesday happened.

That was yesterday I think.

I had Zoom meetings, Google Meets, programs and in person meetings from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. After a coffee meet with a marketing client, I accompanied an ASPIRE peer to our new office space in downtown Easton. I’m not sure it’s official official yet so I can’t provide details.

But I went to use the restroom.

And I forgot I had car keys in my pocket and they fell into the flushing toilet. Whooooop— right down the hole.

Well.

My first thought was, “What do I do????”

And then I realized I have the only electronic key fob currently in existence for my car.

So I stuck my hand into the toilet. Thank heavens they were there. Pulled them out, covered a paper towel with some sanitizer, wiped it down and popped the fob apart to try and dry it.

And I laughed at the situation. A few days earlier I would have cried.

In other silly news, my crew had some fun with musical instruments. YouTube videos here:

Low brass and bass drummer playing without the whole band (teenagers 1 & 2)

Recorder lesson from a blind lady and euphonium in background

Seven Nation Army

A quiet Memorial Day, reframing Monday

I noticed I was oddly content and relaxed last night and that got me thinking.

I had a great weekend.

Did I have a great weekend because it was my birthday?

Because it was a three-day weekend?

Because I’m starting my vacation and sharing the teenager’s first week of summer vacation?

Or…

Did I have a good weekend because I didn’t waste time worrying about Monday?

I’m not even sure what I did Friday, but I think it involved visiting with neighbors, watched The Call of the Wild with the teenager and ate potato chips and cheese dip for dinner.

On Saturday, I went to Tucker and got a coffee and our burger kit. (Another Trip to Tucker) I had a great time at my Dad’s just seeing the teenager gather treasures from the woods and shooting her bow and arrow. (Vacation Day 1; Birthday day 4)

Yesterday my mom and I cleaned the downstairs, I ate too much pizza and organized my closet.

So I went to bed relaxed.

And now today I worked with my friend Nan, typing her latest essay and submitting it to Pennsylvania Council for the Blind’s newsletter.

The teenager’s father stopped by with a work friend to get some furniture from my garage. Imagine my surprise when the two of them couldn’t move the hutch. My great-grandmother’s hutch. He wants to use it for storage in his small kitchen. I’d rather see it used than sitting in my garage.

So, I asked him— how did it get there if you can’t lift it?

Apparently, the teenager did it.

The teenager was sleeping. So instead of waking her up, he and his friend went to the office and got a hand truck.

She woke up when they returned and found the whole situation amusing.

While they took the hutch to the teenager’s father’s apartment, she asked me to help her move her favorite recliner outside so they didn’t have to struggle.

We did.

She went with her dad for a while so I stared scrubbing the upstairs bathroom.

I also gave Nala a shower.

When the teenager got home, she did a load of blankets and we hung them on the line.

Then we went to the Family Dollar so she could get a new planner now that the school year has ended.

And we stopped at Dunkin Donuts for iced coffee.

Here is a clip of Nala’s tantrum before her shower: Nala having a tantrum.

TV Psychotherapy

My mind has experienced a lot of shifts recently. I have changed the way I communicate thanks to some insights of the teenager, some stress at work, and a variety of great support from friends and family.

In the midst of all this, there is the Coronavirus pandemic which allows a lot of introspection for those of us who try to be self-aware.

I’m not a big television watcher. I grew up in a rural setting in a valley by the river where we had poor television reception. We didn’t receive access to cable until I was a teenager.

When I left home, my husband and I chose not to pay for cable (and this was Netflix first started and they mailed you discs and prepaid envelopes— streaming was not a thing).

So, Hulu and Netflix on my iPad have allowed me to explore decades of pop culture. And I realize that many of these reality television programs can offer a window as to how we all face our struggles and build our relationships.

While I originally started watching Gordon Ramsay, it was because I love food and he had a reputation that I wanted to understand. I also like big, athletic guys with bad attitudes and exotic accents.

But the more I watched— whether it was Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, Hotel Hell or other Ramsay programs— I saw people of all backgrounds reaching toward goals of increased knowledge and skills, wanting a better life, and working to impress not only a mentor but a larger-than-life icon, a modern God.

And Ramsay pulls talent out of people and sees something in people. It’s amazing to watch.

Inspiring.

Shows like 90-Day Fiancé show how desperately people want to be loved and the lengths they will go to— whether in hope of love or acceptance or, again, that desire for a better life or a Green card.

Now, I’m watching Hoarders. I watched the first episode because I’ve been in a hoarded house and it is mind-blowing. I wanted to understand.

I have learned how our upbringings and traumas intersect and influence how we communicate and relate. That stuff, shopping, accumulating, giving up and other verbs… it’s a manifestation of our emotional walls. I would classify My Secret Addiction (or is it My Unusual Addiction?) in the same realm—how to cope.

And then you take a show like Transitions, where people explore their gender identity, and I suddenly see how much of a struggle they have to live as the person they really are versus the person they feel forced to be by family and society. That’s strength.

And why you really want a good outlook, and to see hope, enthusiasm and change, you watch Queer Eye.

The shifting psychology of chores

As one of the perks of the online writing community, I have had the pleasure to meet Fausta, a life coach and therapist who has a wide range of capacities and wicked sharp writing skills. She has been working on her blog, and her business, Fausta’s Place to Ponder.

People often influence and inspire each other in the most unexpected ways—often without trying—and I’ve admired and respected Fausta for a long time in just that kind of subtle way.

Like most of us, she’s a real and imperfect woman with a quiet vibrancy. She’s touched me with her honesty about life as a woman and the everyday struggles as a mother, building/continuing her career/business, dealing with her own and her family’s health and keeping her heart and emotional state strong and well.

Isn’t that what most of us are trying to do? In a recent blog post (linked below) she talks about our attitudes and how our mental framing of tasks impact how we perform them. I have continued to ponder this.

Mindful Self Compassion Can Help You Get the Dishes Done

I love routine, order and cleanliness. But with 4 cats, 4 birds, 1 teenager, a full-time job, my own physical and emotional issues and a coronavirus pandemic, I can’t always achieve/complete/do everything I want to do.

I have to employ more mindful self compassion, and with the teenager’s help I am growing in this regard. She and I have been discussing the differences in how our brains are wired. This helps me look at my setting from multiple points of view.

My goal, in what used to be Standard American Life, was to workout either at the gym or at home 3-5 times per week and never leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight.

Now, the gyms are closed. I’m eating too much fast food. And my goal is to clean the kitchen every morning— as my energy levels are higher and it reinforces the idea that every day is a clean start.

But I still need to examine my motivations. There’s a flip side to chores.

Today is Sunday. Yesterday, I got up, did a load of laundry and started the dishwasher. I cleaned all the litter boxes— no small chore with four cats, but oh so worth it.

Two kittens and 3-legged Overlord

I did some other odds and ends too but I’ll be darned if I remember them.

And then I attended a business meeting, had coffee with a neighbor, cleaned up after the birds, let the teenager give me a haircut (a rather severe one that doesn’t exactly match the crazy hair I have, but give it two weeks and it will be perfect), split a ginormous, super-sweet cinnamon bun from Cake and Corolla, enjoyed dinner from Dairy Queen, and watched Hell’s Kitchen for the rest of the day.

And I’m not beating myself up over “not doing more.”

But this morning— I got up, washed the pots and pans, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, did two loads of laundry and hung them on the line, fed the menagerie, scrubbed them kitchen counter, took out the compost, emptied the garbage, carried the garbage outside, and vacuumed and washed the kitchen floor.

All before 9:30.

And I feel good about the work I got done. Even if I am still worrying about cutting the grass, working out this week’s budget, and dealing with this week’s groceries and work stress. I dread both. I *don’t* want to do the grocery shopping and I never know what will happen at work on Monday.

So I have a delicate balancing act— what can I do to feel good about myself and my house and what can I do to not exhaust myself?

Because you see, I know I also do chores and scrub the bathtub to avoid facing my fears and emotions in the stillness.

Chores let me use the energy of my angst to achieve something positive, but in the end, that’s not always the best approach to my emotional health and physical self.

PS—

Early on in this pandemic I invested in good old fashioned cleaning products: Pine Sol, Ammonia, Fels Naptha, Borax, etc. I opened up the Pine Sol today. Just felt like my neglected floor needed something extra. I got this at the Grocery Outlet and as you can see it’s not traditional Pine Sol. It’s like super floral. “Fresh Scent” by patooty. Someone just exploded a fake floral bomb in my house.