We recently had a very uncomfortable occurrence in our home. I attempt not to mention anyone that I know in these posts, but my cats have served up their identities to me as part of their room and board.

Let me put it this way, Furbz (she is named after the Furby toy due to the noises she made when I got her, as well as the passive aggressive behavior) put her paw in the fire. I wish I didn’t have to add, “literally.”

The cat and human members of my household (meaning my two cats and myself) recently stayed in someone else’s home. In that home, there are not coils on the burners of the stove. Instead, it is a very smooth, very solid glass cooktop. Furbz was on the precipice of discovering the manner in which a glass cooktop operates as I was distracted by scraping a runny, yet simultaneously wadded mass of dough from a boxed protein pancake mix into the trash can. I was quite frustrated with my ruined breakfast. I was not aware of Furbz’ location until I turned around from my post and saw her perched on the edge of the counter, facing me. I freaked out because I knew the stove was still hot. She was wedged up on a very small section of counter between the far edge of the stove and the wall.

I instinctively yelled something like “No!” As soon as it was out of my mouth, she hopped onto the hot glass. When one paw clearly realized the temperature, she sped across the whole burner instead of turning back. As a result, she got a nasty burn on one paw and lightly toasted the rest. She had obviously been spooked. I felt terrible. I hadn’t been able to stop myself from yelling when I realized how close to the heat she was, but I felt like I’d made it worse by yelling in fear.

I took her to the vet as soon as was possible. She blistered one paw so that the top layer of skin came off, but it didn’t get to the tissue below. I’m so grateful that it was only a superficial layer. The other paws were okay. Treatment came in the form of antibiotics twice a day, pain medicine once a day, and once her initial bandage from the vet came off, non stick gauze pads wiped with Neosporin and taped on with the aid of baby stocks.

Baby socks, indeed. I bought her a pack with little kitties on them, which seems a tad ironic. She kept the bandage from the vet on for two days until I removed it (with the aid of scissors). I then made her a baby sock bandage, but didn’t tape tightly enough. I was afraid of squeezing her too hard. I tried again immediately. That baby sock bandage stayed on for the day. After that, every bandage I tried to make was shaken off as soon as I finished. I compensated by soaking her paw in Epsom salts.

She is starting to feel better now. She has since been to the vet for a previously scheduled appointment (because she has issues with her butt). Her paw was looked at and deemed a fair amount better. Now all I can do is wait and attempt to offer comfort as she continues to feel even better. I am so glad that she is out of the woods.

For a few days, she was three-pawing-it. She kept her paw tucked up as she walked. If you’ve ever had an injured pet, you probably know that combination of tenderness, commiseration, and desire to “laugh at a funeral” about the awkwardness of their behavior while healing. Your heart breaks that your pet looks so pitiful, yet so comical. It makes a sad, barely amused “Oh!” issue forth from just about anyone’s mouth. Throw in the mix the overwhelming slash of gratitude that your pet is feeling just a little bit better today, and you have a cat (or dog) mom.


Winter Birthmark

Winter Birthmark

In the morning,
I stretch into
horizontal mountain pose

in the warmth nesting
about the dip of the mattress
which holds my body heat.

My fingers and toes stretch
over the edges of the indented map
of myself, meeting with cold currents
as they poke forth.

I curl my spines back in like a hedgehog.
The alarm buzzes into morning.
I tilt up onto my side,
a snail toppled into the wrong lane.

My eyes pull open,
escaping from a chrysalis.
They buzz in the chilled sunlight.
As life wakes,
I focus stupidly on the light brown mark
on the underside of your thin, pale arm.

I should not be so attached.
I root for it with my sucking jaw
before I have even washed the white smoke of sleep
from my freshly birthed scalp.

Poetry Process: Sometimes you just have to enjoy the raw, messy guts (first draft) of a poem amoeba as it floats easily to you

like sticking your hand into a box of grapes and spaghetti at an elementary school haunted house.

The gore of the unknown gleams inside the constricting bat wings encasing your brain like grape leaves wrapping themselves around rice. You struggle to let the word chunks come out. You bend a monarch wing to discover –

the chunks of words twisting out for you.

Sometimes you have to relish the solitude of being alone with your own unlikely-to-ever-be-published writing. Then you realize it’s okay because your writing will always belong to you. It will serve you in your struggles with mental health. It will help you define and organize yourself. It’s okay that you won’t be highly revered. You gave birth to something. You birthed your own thoughts, your own solitary mind. Do you understand what a miracle that is in and of itself? What you have gathered is beautiful, even if no one reads it. Your child is yours. Yours.

P.S.- Agree, or my cat and I will creepily watch you from this photo.

Mindfulness & Meditation (and how they can possibly be integrated into a plan of self care for mental illness)

Note: I am not a doctor, professional, or anything of the sort. I am just someone with an opinion.

The therapist I’m seeing suggested I start practicing meditation and mindfulness. I’ve watched some YouTube videos to research this, and attempted to begin practicing with my limited knowledge (which from what I’ve learned is totally okay).

I started with mindfulness. It apparently has to do with paying attention to your surroundings and emotions without judgement or reaction. I’ve watched several videos, so I don’t remember which one suggested what, per say. However, one video suggested that you check in with your 5 senses during the day. You’re apparently supposed to pay attention to that because it will anchor you in the present moment. Please keep in mind that this is not professional advice. I am very new to this. My therapist described mindfulness towards emotions as viewing them through a waterfall. I tried that and it really helped me during a particular stressful situation in which I was very angry. It helped keep my emotions from escalating. I really dig the strategy. The problem with mindfulness is that it’s really easy to forget to do. You get caught up in the whirlwind of the day, and realize a few days later that you haven’t been doing it. I’ve been really lax about it. I need to find a way to help myself remember and integrate it into my life.

For me, meditation is much easier to remember. I’ve been somewhat more consistent with that. I’m not sure if I’m doing it right, but it must be working a little because I feel calmer and more relaxed afterwards. Meditation apparently has mostly to do with focusing attention on breathing and letting thoughts/environmental stimuli roll off of you. I usually only do about 10 minutes, but when I open my eyes, the world seems brighter. I’m sure that’s a trick of the eye, but it also feels a little more positive.

I want to bring this into the routine of my life. It seems useless when people talk about it, but when I tried it, I started to see some benefits. I would definitely suggest it. I have a lot of anxiety, and it is at least making a tiny dent for me (when I remember to do it).

I’ve been using guided meditations from a youtuber called Bex Life. I’m certain there are more, but this is the one I found that I initially felt most comfortable with.

I liked her enough to check out her book too.

These are a few helpful YouTube videos about mindfulness and meditation that I really liked:

Photos: I even meditated on a stone hippo at the nature park near my dwelling place! (It’s cold.)

Mr. Ducky

This is Mr. Ducky. He is browning due to the effects of vigorous play. His bottom is missing, having been gnawed off, and his fluffy innards are constantly in danger of escaping.

Mr. Ducky is a favorite toy for my two cats. His little plastic wad of vocal chords no longer screech because he suffered the misfortune of being chewed open to the point that removal was necessary. Mr. Ducky now floats about with his entrails hanging out. He is no longer played with as much. It is reminiscent of a child’s favorite stuffed animal in that my cats always respond to being confronted with Mr. Ducky as a plaything, but do not seek him out. They leave him alone in his place as a fondly loved toy, but are still always up to chase him when he is offered up for that purpose.

We all respond to comforting old stimuli. Perhaps we don’t seek it out (like my cats), but maybe we should. When we are depressed, we sometimes stop doing things we like to do.

Is there a favorite (positive) thing that you wish you had the energy to get back into? Perhaps we should try little steps at a time. For me, reading small chunks of books and exercising several days a week really helps. Small steps. Don’t make it overwhelming. There is so much pressure out there. Take it easy, and gravitate back towards your Mr. Ducky slowly (unlike my somewhat disdainful cats). Your progress is your own. It is more than okay to take small steps. Do what works for you. You do deserve it. Wade past the grit (much like the filth on Mr. Ducky’s bright yellow fuzz) at your own pace. Just don’t rip out voice boxes. People tend to not care for that.