Sputnik 2.0

Let me be perfectly clear about this:  I believe my cat, Chai, is the reincarnation of my former cat, Sputnik.

I am completely serious.  I believe in the recycling of souls, also known as reincarnation.  Of course, billions of other people also believe this, but I suspect a significant number of these folks are Hindu or Buddhist.  I, on the other hand, was raised in a church-going Lutheran family.  I started questioning things pretty early on, however, and have not been a Lutheran–or even a Christian–for the majority of my life.  Though I believe very firmly in a higher power, I choose not to refer to it as “god,” since I associate this word with Christianity.  And pretty much everything about Christianity makes me intensely uncomfortable.  Instead, I think of it as Source, or Source Energy, the term used by the teachings of Abraham-Hicks.

The biggest shift in my worldview began in 2003 when I began attending classes at Creative Living Institute at the recommendation of a friend.  Mary Graham’s lessons opened up a whole new world for me that made more sense than anything I’d ever been exposed to before.  I learned about numerology, tarot cards, astrology, auras, chakras and meditation, among other things.  I knew what reincarnation was, of course, but Mary talked about it in a way I hadn’t considered before:  that souls travel together through time and have “contracts” with each other, and that everything comes from the same source energy and is thus connected.

With this abbreviated background in place, let me tell you about The Man.

Sputnik was my soulmate, my familiar.  We found each other at the Dumb Friends League in Denver, Colorado, in February 1991 when he was about six months old.  He was the first cat I adopted on my own, and for whom I was the sole caregiver.  I loved him with every fiber of my being.

photo of kitten in a window
Sputty in our Denver apartment, 1991

From the first moment I saw him in his kennel, I knew.  An adoption counselor placed him on my lap in a visiting room, and he immediately rolled over on his back, waving his paws in the air.  I named him Sputnik because I liked the sound of it, and because I liked the band Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

My friend David almost immediately dubbed him “Little Man,” and that nickname–along with several variations like “Little B” or “The Man”–stuck till the end of his life in 2010.  He was extremely naughty, with a penchant for blueberry muffins left out overnight on the stovetop.  He tipped the trashcan over and dug through the contents almost every day until I wised up and bungeed it shut.  One day I returned from work to find every piece of jewellry I owned strewn from one end of the apartment to the other.  Oh yes, he was naughty.  And I adored him.  He particularly loved playing stalk and chase, and being held above my head to be “flown” around the house, complete with airplane sounds.  David tied a rubber cockroach to a long piece of dental floss, creating a cat toy for Sput second only to “Mr. Purse Strap,” which we finally just threw out a few years ago.

photo of two cats curled up together
The Boys in 2008, age 17 and 18

I adopted a brown tabby kitten from the Dumb Friends League in 1993 and named him Biscuit.  “The Boys,” as they were known, provided my husband and I with many years of love and entertainment.  They left this world within a year of each other at the ripe old age of 19.

photo of two cats laying on blue carpeted stairs
Nemo & Sidra, 2012

We moved from South Dakota to Oregon in early 2012, and, though we had Sidra and Nemo, two female cats we’d adopted in Rapid City, I knew I had to find another male Himalayan mix like Sputnik.  In May 2013, I found him on Petfinder.com.  Actually, I found a brother-sister pair who had been rescued from the shoulder of Interstate 5 near Springfield, their mother having been killed on the highway.  I made a phone call, loaded a pet carrier in the car, and off we went.

photo of a kitten in a cat carrier
Chai, 5/26/2013

Though we were prepared to adopt both kittens, the rescue assured us that, based on their young age and personalities, they wouldn’t be the least bit traumatized by being separated.  So Chai came home with us on May 26, 2013.

Chai is very self-entertaining, as are many cats.  One day I noticed him playing alone in our guest room, and watched as he pawed at the rug (like he was digging a hole), then put his head down and did a front roll into the spot where he’d been “digging.”  Sputnik used to do the exact same thing.  I’ve never seen either of our girl cats do it.

photo of a cat in a sink
Chai 2015

Last week, I was in the bathroom flossing my teeth, and Chai joined me on the counter.  Then he did something he’d never done before:  he got into the sink and began pawing at the sides, curling himself up in the round space and looking up at me.  Nemo will sometimes get on the bathroom counter, but she has never once gotten into the sink.

 

photo of cat in a sink
Sputnik 1992

I took an almost identical photo of Spunik in our apartment sink in 1992.  I spent a lot more time in front of the mirror in those days, and he was right there with me, most of the time.  I think he even supervised the night I tried to pierce my own nose with a sewing needle.  (That didn’t end well.  I had to have it done professionally.)

photo of kitten meowing
Chai, 2013

 

If it’s true that souls can choose to travel through time together, it’s entirely plausible that the Little Man bided his time out there in the Nonphysical from 2010-2013, saw an opportunity to come back to me and took it.  This probably sounds pretty crazy to someone who doesn’t subscribe to this particular worldview, but that’s OK.  I don’t really care, because the truth of it resonates within my higher self.

photo of cat yawning
Sputnik 2006

It was only within the past five years or so I actually looked up the word “Sputnik” and discovered its literal meaning is “fellow traveller” or “travelling companion,” depending on which website you use.

There are so many reasons to feel connected to Source.

It’s Halloween month . . . and, for the first time, I don’t care.

I’ve been away from my online mat space for too long.  Now it feels good to satisfy my urge to write.

I had started a post about a month ago about how I believe the Incredible Hulk’s character is based on a perimenopausal woman, but I’ll save that one for a later date.

It’s incredibly disturbing to me that we’re ten days into Halloween month (also known as October), and I haven’t begun decorating.  See, Halloween is my favorite holiday.  In fact, I don’t understand why it’s not a national holiday.  I’d rather have Halloween off than, say, Labor Day or Presidents Day.

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I’m one of those people who shops for decorations every year.  I mean, there’s always something new and fabulous, like flashing LED skulls, motion-activated ghouls that jitter and shriek, or a Jack Skellington bobble-head.  At the same time, though, I have decorations lovingly carried forward from my childhood.  I hate throwing the old stuff away–but cardboard doesn’t last forever.  And let’s face it:  it’s not nearly as exciting as things that light up, flash, make scary noises, or shake.

Husband and I go all-out with the outdoor decorations.  We have a pumpkin-carving kit, and choose a different design for our jack-o-lantern every year.

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We have a fog machine, a strobe light, luminaries, strings and strings of LEDs, giant spiders . . . the list goes on.  We even hook up outdoor speakers and broadcast scary sounds for trick-or-treat.  Then, later in the evening, we usually broadcast It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or The Nightmare Before Christmas.

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One year we dressed our blind pug as anatomically correct Yoda.

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Yes, I do love Halloween.  But here it is, October 10th, and I haven’t even brought the bins in from the shed.  This is unprecedented.  I’m usually counting down the last week of September, because I won’t allow decorations to go up before October 1.  The first weekend in October is ordinarily allocated for the sole purpose of decorating indoors and out.

So what’s the problem this year?  I’ve asked myself that too.  Ladies and gentlemen, I’m depressed.  It’s that simple.  It’s the same reason I can’t bring myself to walk Happy Dog every day

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or plant bulbs or weed my flower beds or clean up the dog shit in the backyard or keep the house clean or attend yoga practice.  I’m. Just. Fucking. Depressed.

On top of that, I’m even starting to feel mildly agoraphobic.  Although I’m an introvert, I’m highly skilled at what I call “professional extroversion.”  I used to be eloquent, confident and persuasive.  Now I find myself making sure there’s no one around before I bring in the mail or take the trash and recyclables out to the curb.  Job interviews have become excruciating.  Even the thought of interacting with anyone at yoga practice makes me uncomfortable.

Three months of not working, at home alone every day with two cats (sleep all day) and one über-ehthusiastic puppy (wants constant attention), applying for job after job after job, and wondering if the bills are going to be paid has turned me into a perimenopausal, reclusive hag.  Wait, I was already perimenopausal.  And a hag.  But now I’m a recluse as well.  (I think I just had an idea for this year’s Halloween costume.)

Valerie

Yup.  That looks about right.

I haven’t been depressed for a long, long time.  And now I seem to be wallowing in it.  Yes, I know it’s a choice.  I know I could be unemployed and happy just as easily.  That’s what Abraham says, anyway.  But for some reason, I choose to feel like this.  I must be getting something out of it, or I’d choose to feel different–right?

Right?

Maybe husband will take matters into his own hands and fetch the bins from the shed this weekend.  All I need is a little push.

Valerie photo courtesy Act III Communications

So many thoughts, so little time

Life is seemingly boring after the events of Blog Week 1.  However, I remind myself (and you) that I didn’t start MyTrueNorth2013 with the intention of a Bill Bryson-esque romp through Europe or a Stephen King-esque novel about a killer bat that invades peoples’ homes and flies off with their pets.  I started it to write about things that make me think–which, with any luck, lead to big ah-hah moments (at best) or opportunities to enjoy feeling another small piece of the puzzle click into place (at the very least).

Which is why, despite an action-packed weekend into which my husband and I tried to fit a few too many events, including

• dinner, wine and two-fifths of the Brian Copeland Band at Emerson Vineyards (another perfect Willamette Valley evening)
• a dawn hot air balloon launch (sounds corny, but watching thirty or so hot air balloons launch makes my heart soar)
• more dinner, wine, live music and camping at Airlie Winery (it’s definitely not about the sleep)
• a three-hour nap (is three hours still considered a “nap?”) while husband  worked Sunday afternoon

I’m choosing to write today about a guided meditation practice I attended at Love Yoga last night.

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Meditation is one of those “talk the talk” things I mentioned last week, as in “How was your meditation, honey?” “Ooooh, I felt so centered.  I  think I really had a breakthrough.”  I love the idea of meditation, and I love the insights it can and does bring when I do practice it.  But I don’t do it nearly enough.

I have come to believe that meditation is one of the most valuable tools –if not the most valuable–we can have in our self-work toolbox.  Though I can count the number of times I’ve done it on my fingers and toes, I can also say that I’ve had a pretty good-sized ah-hah moment just about every single time.

If this is truly the case, then, the next logical question would have to be, “Why in god’s name don’t you meditate every single day?  Or three or five or ten times a day, for that matter?”

In a word, laziness.  Also, admittedly, a sense of entitlement–by which I mean I think I should just have an amazing, joyful, happy, peaceful, prosperous, healthy life without working at it.  In fact, I think we all should.  I think every single person deserves to have a wonderful, happy, prosperous life, and it makes me sad that so few do.

Anyway, last night Melissa led us through four 15-minute meditations, during which we were free to be comfortable on our mats any way we chose.  Guided meditation works much better for me, as I’m one of those people whose completely undisciplined mind needs that gentle direction and constant redirection from the never-ending hodgepodge of thoughts that I just can’t seem to stop.

procession

Less than 24 hours later, I can’t remember exactly what she said, or how she led us through the meditations.  However, more importantly, I do remember the ah-hah moment that resulted.

Louise Hay tells us in You Can Heal Your Life (Hay House, 1984) that

“We create every so-called illness in our body.”

Now, this may be hard to swallow.  I know I find it hard to swallow.  The personal responsibility placed on us by people like Louise Hay (not to mention non-physical entities like Abraham) seems patently unfair to me sometimes.  OK, most of the time.  But I guess I don’t have to like it for it to be true.

Hay’s book Heal Your Body (Hay House, 1984) contains a pretty comprehensive list of dis-eases and physical and emotional complaints along with their corresponding probable causes.  I use this list frequently to try and figure out what the hell’s going on with me.  The weird thing is, every single probable cause she lists for my physical or mental gripes is spot on.

During last night’s meditation, I found myself–as I very often do–thinking about the past and being saddened by my thoughts.  (See last week’s post Will Someone Please Invent Time Travel, Already?)  On the way home, I started wondering–as I also very often do–why my thoughts always seem to be so overwhelmingly focused on what has been, instead of on righthererightnow or what’s yet to come.  And then I started thinking about what Louise Hay says about foot problems.

Without going into too much detail, I can tell you that one of the several physical ailments I suffer from (read “cause myself to suffer from”) is plantar fasciitis.  I also have osteoarthritis in one of my big toes.  Guess what Hay’s probably cause of foot problems is?

. . . . .

(I’m giving you time to guess.)

. . . . .

(Did you guess it?)

. . . . .

(Drum roll)

. . . . .

“Fear of the future and of not stepping forward in life.”

Didn’t I say she was spot on?

So I kept my train of thought chugging along its proverbial track and asked myself, “Couldn’t my obsession with the past and how I seem to miss the Good Old Days and all the houses I’ve lived in and and things I’ve done and enjoying time with my family and all my dead relatives and friends and pets and vacations I’ve been on and being a kid and riding my bike around the neighborhood and not having any of these hateful adult responsibilities more than I enjoy being righthererightnow and anticipating all the wonderful times still to come be construed as ‘fear of the future and of not stepping forward in life?'”

I think it could.

(You may want to go back and reread that paragraph.  It actually does make sense, as well as seeming to be mostly grammatically correct.)

Louise tells us that new thought patterns–or positive affirmations–can heal and relax our body.  For foot problems, her recommended affirmation goes like this:

“I move forward in life with joy and with ease.  I stand in truth.  I have spiritual understanding.”

Her step-by-step method to allow and encourage change is pretty straightforward:

1. Look up the mental cause.  See if this could be true for you.  If not, sit quietly and ask yourself, “What could be the thoughts in me that created this?”

2. Repeat to yourself, “I am willing to release the pattern in my consciousness that has created this condition.”

3. Repeat the new thought pattern to yourself several times.

4. Assume that you are already in the process of healing.

Whenever you think of the condition, repeat the steps.

Easy, right?  It should be.  But this is where Laziness rears its ugly head:  it’s easier to be a mess and wallow in the past and be unhappy and complain and cry than it is to do the hard self-work.  You really, reeeally have to want to change yourself and feel better and know that it’s worthwhile to do the work, or you’re just going to be stuck in that same rut forever.

I vacillate between desperately wanting to change and thinking, “Why bother?”  After all, these patterns of thought have worked for me (more or less) for almost a half-century.  Why should I bother now?

I’ll tell you why:   because I’ve had glimpses of how good it can be.  I know now how it feels to be in what Abraham-Hicks refers to as “the Vortex.”  I recognize when I’m in there–and when I’m not, I want to be.

vortex

The most beautiful (and ironic) thing of all is that I love knowing I’m the only one responsible for all of it:  how I feel, the good and bad things that happen to me–all the love, joy, fun, health, wealth, peace and serenity, or lack thereof, that I experience in my life.  There’s no one and nothing else to blame when things go wrong, and only myself to celebrate when things go right.  That’s not to say that I don’t feel immensely grateful:  the Universe is a kind and generous place that works in concert with me and my thoughts.  My parents have done more for me than I could ever express in words.  And my Non-Physical Posse always has my back.

Today I choose to enjoy the Here and Now.

Namaste.

Procession photo courtesy Institute for Great Lakes Research, Bowling Green State University
Vortex photo courtesy Crestock.com

Will someone please invent time travel, already?

Is it a bad thing that I’ve started to watch the clock and wonder what time is too early to start drinking?  I’m pretty strict about waiting till my husband gets home in the evening so I’m at least not drinking alone.  But lately I find myself wondering if 3:00 is too early?  Maybe a glass of wine or two with my salad at lunch?  That sounds pretty sophisticated–although not as sophisticated as when I’d go for lunch at T.G.I.Friday’s with work colleagues and order a Long Island iced tea.  (Really, that only happened once.  Or twice.)

Sometimes Okay, frequently I find myself wallowing in retrospection and regret.  And if that doesn’t sound unhealthy, I don’t know what does.  It’s like if I just focus long and hard enough on whatever aspect of the past I happen to be obsessing about, I can magically transport myself back there and do things differently.  And then when it doesn’t happen, I get even more regretful and depressed.

Then I have to try and pick myself back up by repeating all the mantras I’ve accumulated over the years, starting with the most recent:

Comparison

Then I move on to:
You are loved.  All is well.  (Abraham)
This too shall pass.  (Unknown)
Leap, and the net will appear.  (John Burroughs)
It’s all a journey.  (????????)
Rub some dirt on it.  (husband’s Little League coach)
There’s no crying in baseball.  (A League of Their Own)
Ball up.  (tactful, loving brother)

Then maybe I’ll listen to my Abraham-Hicks CDs, or, alternately, Rush or Pink Floyd, and things either continue to deteriorate or husband comes home from work and we watch 30 Rock.

I think the real problem is that I’m simply not very good at at being Present.  Oh, I like to talk the talk.  (“How was yoga, honey?”  “Oooh, transcendent.  I was really in the zone tonight.”)  But when it comes to walking the walk, I’m just not There.  And I’ve been aware of There and studying There and trying to be There for almost ten years.

[At this point, I need to overwhelmingly, enthusiastically and lovingly thank my friend Shelly for introducing me to Mary Graham and the Creative Living Institute.

CLI logo

Shelly, Mary and CLI expanded my world and became a turning point in my life.]

Maybe this is all okay.  Maybe working towards There is what life’s all about.  Maybe I won’t ever get There.  Maybe I will.  But I do know this:  beating myself up about every decision I can’t change isn’t going to help.  Maybe if there’s one small gift I could give myself, it would be to love myself as much as or more than hummingbirds, flowers, sparkles on the water, moonlight, shooting stars, butterflies, autumn leaves and Carolina wrens.

The Law of Attraction at work.

If, like me, you’re a student of Abraham and the Law of Attraction, the following will make a lot of sense.

Yesterday was not a good day.  Sometimes the smallest thing sets me off.   More often it’s the combination of the smallest thing coupled with perimenopausal hormone levels.  Then, because the Law of Attraction is a real thing (like gravity) and is in effect every day all the time, most times things just deteriorate from there–unless I’m able to reroute my attitude, which doesn’t often happen.

The thing that set me off yesterday was a trip to our local Safeway for my favorite yogurt and discovering they apparently no longer carry it.

Nancy's yogurt

Let me be clear that this kind of thing inexplicably happens to me with disturbing and irritating frequency.  This leads me to believe I either have really bad taste or I belong to a very small, elite minority with such highly evolved taste that the rest of the world simply can’t keep up.

Anyway, the AWOL yogurt was another one of those Final Straws I mentioned in an earlier post.  It prompted an f*bomb-laden text to my darling husband, who is painfully aware that I don’t always respond to these types of personal challenges with my Highest and Best Self.  The text said:

You know what?  Fuck Abraham.  Sometimes I really just want to be able to hate my fucking life without the fear of attracting more shit.

Ew, right?  Right.  Enter the Law of Attraction.  Or, if you prefer, the very similar Threefold Law, as stated in the Wiccan Rede:

“Mind the threefold law ye should, three times bad and three times good.”

In other words, like attracts like.  That which is like is drawn unto itself.  As within, so without.  You get the picture.

Back to the yogurt.  I decided to try the Corvallis Safeway about 15 minutes away.  Guess what?  No Nancy’s yogurt there either.  So I went to Market of Choice, and SUCCESS!  All the Nancy’s yogurt flavors I could ever want and then some.  Hurray for me!

[Insert thoughts of rainbows, butterflies, unicorns, playful kittens.]

At this point, I should let you know that I had brought puppy along for the ride.  Remember happy dog from the other day?

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I thought you might.  She is cute, isn’t she?  Unfortunately, she also gets carsick.  But I naively thought she was over it–with good reason, as she hadn’t gotten carsick for almost a month.

Here’s where things started to get weird.

We were in the Trader Joe’s parking lot, and I was just about to go in when she barfed up copious bright pink vomit containing all manner of yard debris, including grass, plum pits (hence the bright pink hue), scilla bulbs, mulch, and a rather unhealthy amount of colorful string from the rope toy she’d been busily ripping apart for days.

“Hello, friend,” said the Universe.  “This is especially for you.  Thank you for your order.  I am happy to comply.  Please come again.”

Can you see where this is going?

Poor sad puppy.  Poor grossed-out me.  I cleaned up her travel crate as best I could, and we headed straight home.  I then found myself following a garbage truck for the next 15 minutes.

“Hello again, friend,” said the Universe.  “Aren’t I doing a good job giving you exactly what you asked for?  Enjoy your drive home.”

When I got home, I realized I’d forgotten about leaving one of our two cats out on the patio in the kitty cabaña.

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She, of course, had barfed up a large hairball and was meowing at the top of her lungs to be freed from the vomitorium.

“Hello, friend,” said the Universe once again.  “Have you had enough?  I can keep this up all day, if you like.”

I’ll wrap this up.  I apologized to the pets for being the worst mom ever, fed them dinner, cleaned up the car and the patio, threw a load of vomit-splattered towels, blanket and crate pad in the laundry, and thanked the Universe for being so responsive.

Husband came home from work shortly thereafter to find me tear-streaked and sprawled on the couch in front of the stereo listening to Rush loud enough to shake the entire house in a manner akin to the classic Maxell audio tapes commercial, drinking wine straight from the bottle.

“Mind the threefold law ye should, three times bad and three times good.”

Indeed.