All of life's answers can be found in Twix and Snickers.
No, not the chocolate bars. I’m talking about the feline Twix and Snickers, the two cats we adopted in December who are now just over a year old. Lately, I’ve been thinking, as I watch them go about their feline lives, that I should aspire to be more like them.
In fact, I’ve been thinking how much wisdom they have to share with all the women I know.
(Yes, yes, and probably the men too. Right now I’m talking to the women, but if you’re male and you want to keep reading, please do. There may be some nuggets in here that apply to you too.)
So here, I present to you for your Friday enjoyment, eight life principles I have learned from my cats.
SHED THE WEIGHT OF SOCIETAL EXPECTATIONS.
Did the late great Tardar Sauce, a.k.a. Grumpy Cat, care if people thought she’d be prettier if she smiled more? Did the scraggly scrawny stray we adopted when I was a kid feel compelled to apologize for being a less than perfect specimen of feline beauty? Is this giant viral sensation of a cat at Morris Animal Shelter in Pennsylvania sensitive about its size?
No. Cats are cats are cats, and they’re all full of purr and bundles of cuddle.
Well, maybe not the hairless ones. They’re just freaky. But you know what, they’re cool with it. And you should be fine with you too. So quit apologizing for the wrinkles or the less-than-perfect skin or the grey roots or the cellulite or the extra 20 pounds or the clothes that don’t conform to someone’s idea of what you “should” wear for your age or your shape or your body size.
Be you. Rock you.
If you own a cat, you know how much it sleeps. Statistically, apparently, it’s anywhere from 12 to 20 hours in a 24-hour period. A lot, in other words.
Cats have it figured out. Sleep is good for you. Hell, sleep is great for you. Sleep is practically a magical potion that cures all, soothes all, improves all. As the National Sleep Foundation informs me, sleep helps you retain information and perform better on memory tasks. It helps your body rejuvenate, grow muscle, repair tissue and synthesize hormones.
Also, it prevents you from killing your young (or your spouse, or your co-workers) when they’re making you crazy.
Plus, sleep makes you happy. Ever seen a cat look unhappy while curled up in a sunny patch snoozing?
Me neither. Case closed.
EMBRACE YOUR PLAYFUL SIDE.
Set aside the seriousness of the adult world for at least a small amount of time every day and embrace your inner kitten. Be silly. Be playful. Be running-in-circles-after-a-ball-of-yarn kooky.
However you interpret that is up to you. Play tag with your kids. Destroy your partner in a no-holds-barred game of Settlers of Catan. Draw. Colour. Sing. Dance. Twirl. Just try, every day, to channel your inner cat in a cardboard box, or your inner kitten who’s discovered the little plastic casings that held your daughter’s LOL Surprise dolls.
Don’t forget to laugh. At everything. At nothing. When it comes to magic potions, laughter is almost as good as sleep. It releases endorphins, boosts your immune system, burns calories, protects your heart and may even help you to live longer.
Just go have fun. Now.
PURRRRSUE YOUR PASSIONS.
Ever seen a cat watching a squirrel? Channel that feeling. Take that same laser focus and use it to throw yourself with abandon into something you love. Doesn’t matter what it is. Yoga, choir, knitting, painting, soccer, running, weaving, cooking. Write a novel. Build a treehouse. Hell, decide to take on Ironman Canada for your 50th birthday present to yourself if that’s what makes you happy.
Just remember that look in your cat’s eyes when she’s watching the bird feeder, and you won’t go wrong.
Climb the high fence. Scale the big tree.
Figuratively, I mean. Or literally, if that’s what you want to do. But if there’s something you’ve been thinking about doing and just haven’t because you can’t, or you’re not sure if it’s too much for you, or you think you’ll look silly, or worse yet because you might fail? Take a lesson from the cat climbing that gigantic cedar tree in your back yard and realize that some things are worth the risk.
Sure, you might look totally inelegant on the climb. And yeah, you might get stuck. But just think about the view from the top when you get there.
Plus, if you do get stuck, the firefighters might have to come to get you down, so there’s that.
EAT WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY.
You know the way your cat looks when she feasts on the remnants of your barbecued chicken or steals a lick of sour cream off your plate? Be like that when you eat.
Yes, yes, absolutely, try to eat sensibly and with good health in mind. But don’t get so mired in counting calories and watching carbs that you forget that food is actually supposed to be enjoyed. Every now and then, give yourself permission to forget about the waistband size of the jeans hanging in the closet waiting for you to fit into them and just give in to indulgence.
Sit down for a good meal – and a glass of wine, if that’s your thing – and enjoy the company of family and friends and just remember: Food. Is. Awesome.
MAKE SPACE FOR YOURSELF.
Next time you feel compelled to apologize for taking “me time,” think about your cat. Think about the way she climbs onto your lap all ready to snuggle and purr, then just walks away when she’s done. She doesn’t take on the burden of your needs; she recognizes her own boundaries and takes herself away when she’s finished with a particular situation.
Channel that. Make space for yourself – whoever that happens to be. Whether you’re a people-loving extrovert who’s happiest in the middle of the party crowd, or an introvert whose energy gets sucked up by social situations and who’d rather curl up with a good book, just own it.
Own it like a cat who meets you at the door demanding attention and who winds incessantly around your legs. Own it like a cat who turns her back on you and sticks her butt in her face while she stalks off to hide under the bed. Own it like an anxious cat who climbs into your lap mewing pitifully for attention because a loud noise scared her.
Be all of those cats. Or none of those cats. Or whichever cat is your spirit animal in the space you’re in right now.
And don’t apologize for taking care of yourself.
Have you ever seen a cat apologize?
FIND YOUR PEOPLE.
Here’s the thing. Life can be hard sometimes. And even if you do all those other things mentioned above, it can still grind you down. Family, parenting, work, friends, social commitments, kids’ schedules, housework, car maintenance … the list goes on and on.
There’s a lot going on in your life – and in your brain – at any given moment.
So don’t try to do it alone. Find your people. Embrace the ones who help make your life better in one way or another – the spouses and partners and friends and siblings and parents and children and co-workers and neighbours and teammates who make your life brighter.
Find them and stick to them like Snickers sticks to my husband. (And while you’re at it, find someone who looks at you the way she looks at him.)
Build your tribe. And keep them close. Because we all need a solid tribe.
Oh hey, men, if you’re still reading and thinking: Gee, this post would have been better if she didn’t say it was for women. Why did she say it was for women anyway? What kind of discrimination is that?
I’d have a chat about stuff like patriarchy and systems of oppression and how women carry the weight of societal expectations very differently than men, but that would be a total buzz kill on the Friday before a long weekend.
So instead, I’ll wish you a happy Labour Day weekend. And if that’s not good enough, well, here's what I have to say about that.