Here’s an excerpt from Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, for your Monday Mindfulness. Have an amazing week!
When my cats have been ill and at the end of their lives, it’s an extremely bittersweet time. It’s sweet because some of our deepest bonds are formed with our animals at this time. It’s “bitter” because we know they are leaving and there’s nothing we can do about it. And guilt can creep in, too. Guilt that maybe we feel closer to the animal since we know they are leaving. Guilt that we may not have paid them enough attention when they were healthier. But to me, when I look at it honestly, the guilt doesn’t seem as pure as the bitter or the sweet. It seems smaller, and not as genuine. And I think this is true. Again, what’s its purpose? Instead of letting guilt pull us down, let’s celebrate the wonderful. Instead of feeling guilty about things in the past we can’t change, let’s celebrate each moment with our cats, our animals, our relationships, our life. Love your cat now, even if the time is bitter or sweet. As one of my yoga teachers said, go to the joy instead of the guilt in a situation. Let your cats help you.
Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time makes a great holiday gift for the cat lovers, deep thinkers, and lovers of life you know. Order it at www.catherineholm.com or at bookstores online or in the real world, everywhere.
I have a light-colored orange cat named Chester. In doing some cat-related reading lately, I came across an article that talked about light colored cats and their risk of sunburn. I have to admit, I learned a lot of new things. I have two light colored cats in the household who spend a lot of time sun bathing. Here’s my article on the subject:
Where do I get lessons in thankfulness and gratitude? From my cats, of course. I write about it at catster.com.
Read the full article here:
Do you love to travel but hate to leave your cats behind? I really miss my cats when I travel. And the cats make sure they let me know that they’re pleased, or displeased, when I return. Here’s how:
There’s a lot on the plate as usual. Here’s a little taste!
- I’m signing this Sunday at Barnes and Noble in Duluth, MN, at 1 pm. What’s really cool about this event is that from 10-8 pm that day, any books you purchase will have a percentage of proceeds donated to Animal Allies Humane Society in Duluth. There’s an online coupon too, with a bigger time window of opportunity. Go here and click for the printable voucher for purchasing. Or Visit BN.COM/bookfairs for info about how to participate online.
- I’ve been blogging steadily at catster.com, 3 times a week. Start at my Catster author page and scroll down — you’ll see all my articles, starting with the most recent ones.
- Well, this has suffered a little lately. I’m trying to find the balance between writing and promotion. Tricky. I did get my edits back to the publisher for the first proof of Voice Lessons, my short story collection that will come out in March 2014.
- The Great Purr (cat fantasy novel) is on schedule for publication in June 2014.
- I’m ready to start writing Driving with Cats 2 (working title only) and I’m ready to revise The Vast Land (novel).
- Although she has a mass in her jaw, she is doing very well at the moment. She has a terrific appetite and appears not to be in pain; she’s acting normally. I’m using a variety of holistic treatments to keep her comfortable. The other cats are really jumping in to take care of her, which is very cool and touching.
Fear/ No Fear:
- There’s some big change coming, good change, but involving some risk. I was having dinner with a friend the other night and I told her that I wasn’t feeling afraid. She wisely looked at me and shrugged and said, “Nothing to be afraid of.” It’s an interesting place to be.
~Have a great weekend, folks.
I have volunteered at humane societies and shelters for many years. At a local humane society, I met Vivian, who made a big impact on my life and who passed on recently. Here is my tribute to Vivian at catster.com:
I am never sure what or what not is proper to post in a blog, but this is what’s on my mind. Once again I am living one moment at a time. My cat has a (likely) terminal condition. I am caring for her. Meanwhile life goes on.
We are in the early stages of this (an oral tumor) and she is acting quite normal. My cat is eating and drinking on her own, has a good appetite, trilling, and cuddling with the others. In short, she is acting normal. Normal makes me insanely happy. I’ve been down this road before, but I am [trying] not to anticipate. I can’t know anything. I can only know now.
Listening to my mind-chatter this morning, I was reminded of a great teacher of mine. He once demonstrated that it is impossible to “try” to do something. You can only do it, or not. So I will not say to myself that I am “trying” to live in the moment. I will say to myself that I am living in the moment. And that’s what I’m doing.
If you’re like me, you hate to leave your pets behind, even if you love to travel. Here are some things to think about so that the pet sitting experience goes as smoothly as possible, both for you and your cats. Read it here at catster.com:
These guys have a pretty nice life, and I try to make it as seamless as possible if I have to leave.
So, suddenly, I’m in a certain situation again. And I’m tired. This morning I found out that my 16 year old cat Karma has a large mass in her jaw area. I don’t know how much time she has. She is eating and drinking and seeking attention. All I want to do is be with her. It’s hard to work; it’s hard to want to do anything else but be with her and watch her and touch her and talk to her.
I have been through this enough — I would think it would get easier or smoother. I certainly can write about it, but every time, it brings me to my knees. I will sleep like the dead tonight, because emotional exhaustion is the biggest kind of tiredness that I know. I may sleep with Karma.
Karma is a sweet and gentle cat. She came to us at 6 months, a stray that wandered into our yard and seemed fearful of the changing weather (in November) but not quite feral. No one near me claimed her so we kept her. She has always been the “nurse” when other cats were ill; now, I am seeing the other cats attend to her. It really is amazing.
I’m trying to find the beauty. I don’t like to put out bad news. I’ll be doing my best for her, I hope. Life.
Book promotion through November 25 — Order Driving with Cats and get a free cat fantasy short story gift book!
Take advantage of this great offer for a limited time, now! You must use the special promotion page to place your order, but you can read more about all three of the books at the other hyperlinks above.
I’m being tested again, and I’m hoping it’s nothing. I want to bury my head in the sand but I can’t. Yesterday I noticed moisture around Karma’s mouth. Upon closer inspection, I realized the bottom of Karma’s chin is slightly swollen. We go into the vet this week, where I will hopefully find out what’s going on. I’m hoping it’s not serious. I always want to hope that. I’m trying not to “awfulize” or “borrow trouble” or however that saying goes.
In the meantime, Karma is sitting right by my wrists as I type this. She is purring and seeking attention. She is eating well. About two weeks ago, she started getting fussy about food and would not eat dry kibble. Canned food is fine and she has a very good appetite. She is drinking. I am so hoping this is only a bad tooth, or something relatively minor.
In Driving with Cats, I write about trusting and surrendering control. Here I am again. It seems this lesson keeps coming up, and I keep relearning. Now, I need to breathe. Long deep breaths. Over and over. And love Karma for who she is — right now.
Are you liable if your cat bites or scratches someone? It can depend upon what kind of insurance you have, what the insurance cover, and even where you live. Here’s what I found out in an article for catster.com. Read it here: http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-pet-homeowners-renters-auto-liability-insurance-damages-injury
Always take time to celebrate the sweetness. ~Jamie Bluebell.
It’s C’s birthday (yay!). Jamie Bluebell is head over heels for C., so it only makes sense that she’d pose prettily next to the gifts. Happy B Day, dear C (a writer’s best friend and partner).
My husband wrote this in an attempt to get inside my head and portray my thoughts. He did a good job. It made me laugh out loud.
Enjoy — I did…
Here I go, off traveling again. I’m an author and as those of you who write for a living know, we travel a lot doing promotional events, attending workshops, doing book signings and the like. Today I’m on the road to Minneapolis, 4 hours distant, to catch a plane to Dallas for the annual Cat Writers’ Association meeting.
I love traveling. I don’t like leaving my cats. Yes, I’m a cat-lover. I miss them when I go, of course, and I don’t worry about their care. I have an excellent attendant. He is called Husband. What I worry about is the cat party results I return to.
As I said, attendant does an excellent job taking care of the cats. Maybe a bit too excellent. But the cats love it. I just know it’s a free-for-all cat party when attendant is in charge.
Attendant tries to restore order for when I return. But I see the signs of the week-long feline fiesta that’s been going on. When I get back, of course I pick them each up for a hug. Yup, everyone weighs at least 10 pounds more than when I left. “Did you overfeed again?” Straight face, no emotion — he’s way too good at that — “No, course not, just gave them what you said to feed.” Yeah, right. “And what’s this? Empty cans from cheap cat food in the garbage?” “I thought they needed a treat — they missed you and were acting up.” Oh sure. Lay the guilt on me! That explains the wild-eyed, sugar-high-hanging-off-the-overhead-light-fixtures fun I see upon walking in the door.
Then it comes. Casually, “Oh by the way, Chester got outside one day. But I caught him.” WHAT! I never let these guys out. The wolves and coyotes and foxes practically lay on the doorstep around here waiting for tasty morsels of prime-fed cats. “Well, I was hauling in rutabagas and the doors were open and later on (at OVER-feeding time, no doubt) I came up short on the count.” WHAT! “How long was he gone?” “Not too long, a day or two.” “WHAT! Was it ONE DAY OR TWO DAYS?” I’m trying to maintain control, but my voice is cracking. He, hopeful: “He chased a pine marten out of the garage and caught a chipmunk! That’s good!” I glare. Attendant spidey-senses imminent danger. Employs the well-rehearsed bait and switch routine, and changes the subject. “Kieran’s eye’s been runny. He needs lysine again.” I know the game. But I can’t help going to check on Kieran. He’s FINE. Attendant seizes upon the opportunity, escapes outside in to the garage.
I walk across the wood flooring of the kitchen to look at Kieran. The crunching noise under my feet like walking on the gravel road outside the house alerts me. There it is. Cat litter. Pieces of tiny clay balls strewn happily about by gleeful little cat feet. “Look Mom, I feel ten pounds lighter now!” Little cat jump and a little dance to celebrate and-Flick! it’s airborne across the room. Sigh. I get out the broom. Attendant peeks in the door. “I cleaned up for you,” he cheerily announces. “Thank you Dear, it’s lovely here,” I respond as I dump the second whisk-pan full of litter pieces retrieved from under the appliances in to the garbage can. He reads me, knowing what’s next. “And I cleaned the boxes,” he proudly announces. “Ohh no.” Worst fears realized. I drop the broom, stalk to the boxes. Attendant vanishes…to be continued…
Winter is long where I live. We all have to take care of ourselves to stay warm and not let the lack of light get us down. Cats need attention during the winter, too. Here’s what I do to ensure that my cats stay happy and safe during a long winter:
Read the full article here:
Back home – Yea!
As of last night, I am back home from the @Cat Writers’ Association Conference in Dallas.
I didn’t get much of a “sense” of Dallas — the hotel was out in an airport industrial area. I DID take long long walks outside when needed, and that helped me take the recharge time I needed.
I got home yesterday after a long day or travel. Amazingly, even though I had been up since three in the morning, I got a burst of energy last night and went to bed at 11 p.m. And I feel good now. All after a cold that I was getting over as I traveled to the conference.
Some takeaways from the conference:
- New friends come in the most unexpected places.
- Wins or successes also come in surprising places.
- Good karma (your actions, or others’ actions) can make you feel better if you’re discouraged about something.
- I have LOTS to do, especially regarding online promotion. (But that’s not new…).
- There are amazing, smart, and hard-working people in this organization.
- I LOVE the new CWA logo. Join this organization if you write about cats and/or are passionate about the welfare of cats.
- I am eternally grateful for the help that CWA members gave me when I was helping Kali (my cat) during the last three months of her life earlier this year. People reached out and supported me when I felt very very alone and scared. I was re-reminded of this at the conference. This is the value of good relationships with peers, and of an organization like this.
- I am more excited about social media possibilities, AND I want to approach it smartly and without angst (so to speak) so that the rest of the stuff (original writing, yoga, cats, husband…life) continues to happen and happen well.
And…ta da (the best yet)…
- I flew Spirit airlines, and I fell in love with a blind cat named Spirit, at the conference. I just made this connection this morning! Foggy brain, no doubt, but I think this is very cool. There are no accidents!! (Love you, Spirit.)
Bonus — I was a little nervous about flying Spirit. I had never flown them before and they have all kinds of add on fees in order to keep fares low. But everything went so smoothly. I met nice people on the plane and even sold a copy of Driving with Cats. The airlines very nicely got me on a direct flight yesterday morning (no charge), which got me home two hours earlier. It’s all good.
Sometimes, the solution to a cat’s happiness is simple. My cats are enjoying two new (fairly inexpensive, yet sturdy) cat beds that just came into the household. Why didn’t I think of this years ago? These can be made, if you’re handy with a sewing machine. In the meantime, I’m loving watching my cats enjoy their new cat beds. They share freely.
As part of a grant I won recently, I hired an established author to critique the first draft of my novel-in-progress (The Vast Land). This, as it turns out, was worth way more than I paid this person.
I chose an author whose work I admired, who I had met in person, who had academic experience as well as publication in the fiction and creative nonfiction genres, and who had been through rigorous editorial processes himself. I chose an author who I believed understood the importance of place, as place is a large part of this novel. I was very excited about turning my draft over to this person, and scared, too. What if the draft was complete crap? (It felt like crap.) What if I couldn’t get him the draft by the promised deadline? (It was a demanding year with the illness and death of one cat, and ongoing and very busy promotion of Driving with Cats and my other books. There was lots of traveling, for fun, and for business.) It felt like one of the hardest things I’ve done to get this draft to the mentor by the end of August. I pushed.
I turned it in to my mentor during the first few days of September. He agreed to have it back to me with substantive edits and comments by the end of September. I did fret. I was sure it WAS crap, and I had been too close to it for too long (years) to understand how to take the next step. The Vast Land is my first draft of a literary novel. I have completed a cat fantasy novel (The Great Purr, due out June 2014) but the cat fantasy novel came quickly. I struggled with Vast Land.
Of course, I left the mentor alone, and didn’t bother him, but he emailed me sometime in September, told me he was about 1/3 of the way through, and that I had “something of worth.” What a great relief, and what a gift. I began to breathe and give attention to the rest of the stuff on my plate.
At the end of September, I had a substantive editorial letter, and substantive comments throughout the manuscript. I feel like the recipient of a huge gift. I have an understanding of how to proceed. I feel like I can start to fully understand this thing I’ve created, or at least understand how to move forward. I love learning!
Think your cats cost you money? Think again! Flip this picture on its side, and you will see that cats really save you money! Yes, true. Here’s how.
Read the full article here:
I love walking on paths through the woods. A network of paths, even in a small wooded area, can give me the sense of privacy, of meditative time, and of more possibilities than I thought possible in that small area. I love that feeling of finding possibilities, and new roads, everywhere. When I’m feeling limited, or needing to reconnect with my quiet self (probably my true self)…I take a walk in the woods.
If you observe your cat, and make the experience work for them, claw clipping can be a pleasant or okay experience for your cat. Here are my tips at catster.com. Read the comments, too, for some good suggestions. Read the article here:
Very recently, I’ve twice been in situations where I’ve been selling books next to another author. I shared a table with Angie Holland Bailey at a recent cat show, and I sold books next to Margo Hansen at an area craft show.
The very cool thing is, we chatted all day and we promoted each others’ books. It sure felt better than inner competitiveness. Yes, selling books is not always an easy path! But it sure feels better to have fun and to promote each other. Did we sell more books because we were actively promoting each other? I don’t know. I know that we created good energy around our tables, and that is always a good thing. People pick up on it whether they know it or not.
The act of writing is solitary, but I am finding that promotion is a great opportunity to share ideas, create new ones, and support each other. I like it. I want to keep behaving in this way!
What do you do when a cat shows up, and the cat is tame enough to be interested in coming in….maybe? Here’s the story of how I tempted almost-feral Karma into the house, and how she turned into the sweetest and best house cat.
Go with the good Karma — it always wins.
Read the story of Karma, and tips for incorporating a stray who has chosen you — here:
My beautiful Karma! Completely happy inside now, and fully integrated into the household.
The books are ready to go. Am I ready?
Ready as I’ll ever be.
Feelings? Excitement. Dread, Internal high standards that nobody probably knows about except me.
Will I sell books? A lot of books? Does it matter? Well, yes, it matters to me. It’s part of my income and livelihood, but it’s part of my wiring, too. I’m wired to get my expression out there…like any artist. I’m wired to want to succeed. I thank my mother’s side of the family for that — a strong workaholic strain that has crossed through generations. In ayurveda, this is the Pitta quality.
Does it all matter? Perhaps not. I have to be careful I don’t let my world get too small. There are things in the world that matter more than if I sell books today.
Does it matter? I’ve done many of these things now. It’s interesting to me that it’s just as rewarding to actually talk to a person about a book, or writing, whether they buy or not. And many of these conversations happen. It reinforces for me: Yes, this is part of my path. Yes, I am walking a true path for me.
So I try to be authentic. I’m being honest in admitting my feelings before such events. It’s a weird mix of excitement, nervousness, vulnerability, and the strangest kind of stretching I’ve ever done. I want to keep walking this path with authenticity.
Thank goodness for my cats, who keep me grounded and keep me laughing!!
One thing I’ve learned — this journey takes strength. We need to find the things that work for us in sustaining ourselves so we can keep walking that true path.