A tale of three cats

A tale of three cats

My next book, Living Softly, shares three principles for living a more peaceful and fulfilling life: Mind your Mind, Be Kind, and Make Space for Grace. From time to time, as I work on the book, I want to expand on these three themes in this blog. Below, a reminder of how I can upset myself when I don’t mind my mind…

white cat

So long Bungle. We could have been great together, but sadly we were not meant to be.

Let me explain. It had been almost a year since my last rescue cat, Twiglet, died.

I still missed him: every time I walked in the door to silence instead of a warm rub against my legs, and every time I woke and realised the lump by my feet was scrunched-up covers rather than Twig’s warm purring body.

But  I felt ready to open my home and my heart again to one or more furry companions; perhaps older animals who’d been unwanted for a while and deserved to live out their final years in safety and comfort.

Our beloved pets are, of course, experts in living softly. All day long they remind us to live in the moment, honour our needs – whether that means a plate of food or a roll in a muddy puddle!  – and show up to give and receive love.

Raised hackles

Then I saw a photo of Bungle – a dear old ginger gentleman who was looking for a retirement home. I was straight on the phone to the pet rescue service who’d posted his whiskery profile on Facebook. I knew I could give him a wonderful few final years, and that he’d bring a great deal of love and fun to my life too.

Except the pet rescue volunteer thought otherwise. She asked for my address and then, with a deep sigh, said she’d checked my postcode on Google Earth and I lived too close to a main road to be suitable to adopt Bungle or any other of their animals.

I spent the next hours of the day fuming with anger and hurt, mentally composing emails in which I laid into both the volunteer and the charity’s screening process. I wanted them to know they’d made a HUGE mistake in rejecting me.

Don’t take it personally

Until I caught myself for long enough to ask what all the drama in my head was about?

It turned out to be an old pattern. What she’d said was quite different from what I heard.

What the volunteer actually said was: “I’m so sorry. I’m like a mother hen with my babies. It’s silly, I know.”

What I heard was: “It’s irresponsible of you to think you could keep a cat so close to a main road. You must be a thoughtless person. You and your home are not good enough.”

One of the things I learned from Louise Hay early on was to try NOT to take it personally. So often the things we allow to upset us have nothing to do with us at all.

When words upset us it’s always worth taking a breath and working out whether it actually is about us; or if, just possibly, we are making it about us.

A smile in the tail

That was clearly the case here: an over-protective rescue shelter whose volunteer team didn’t have the time to make home visits and judge people and their home situation’s individually. So were forced to resort to Google to try and do their best for the animals in their care. (Note: it did rather explain why so many of their furry residents had been looking for homes for so long.)

It was never actually about me, and the only person in the conversation who was suggesting I wasn’t good enough was also me!  Living softly means minding our minds well enough to spot  when our own story about something that has happened is simply a fiction, based on deep-rooted beliefs such as not being ‘enough’.

A few weeks later I learned that a neighbour was rescuing cats for the RSPCA, and had taken in six cats from a woman who was moving into care. Within a few days Sapphy and Ruby – one as white and fluffy as a cloud, the other a grizzled and ancient bag of bones – were happily installed in my home – and rather glad it hadn’t worked out with Bungle!