Hunters and Gatherers

I don’t remember how the habit started. It wasn’t a conscious choice like taking up jogging, but it developed as all do—progressively. One act of pleasure bumps into another until it’s a daily delight. A treat. And my oh my. How can something that brings a smile one day and on the next, seem to be wrong? Another one? Isn’t that excessive? No one else is involved. After all, I’ve got this handled.

At times, I stay up too late browsing the internet. I’m not reading a good book or researching my family tree, just browsing random crap. YouTube videos, current news, or shopping for things I’ll never buy. If I were reading, at least it would be beneficial for my brain cells, right? So down the trail and then turn right. Stop!

—Women who love wine

My one-year-old cat, Dot, is a hunter. He drags his “kills.” He attacks, wrestles, and drags small rugs and blankets around the house. They are gnawed to death. Usually, they are tugged to the food bowl, him growling the entire way. I see it as some instinct he has to bring in a carcass. His version of the gazelle is a brown Mexican blanket that he yanks by its corner. Sometimes he’ll donate his prey to the other cats while they sleep.

Dot has a Q-tip habit. He begs for them, even meowing and waking me at two in the morning when the rest of the world is sleeping. He needs a fix. It is nearly an obsession. Cat games. This cat hunts ear swabs. He hides his skinny, ear swab prey under a rug, then pounces, then discovering it again.

Creatures of nature are instinctive. Humans use instincts but also have developed habits. But we can update old practices. Thankfully we can learn. Whatever it is we want to alter, we can retrain ourselves. It feels odd at first. If it’s essential and we introduce it consistently, we can change. But Dot, the hunter, might forever be addicted to his human ear probes. I might forever be gathering them from odd places, like from my shoes.

Dot, the hunter

I Am Home

Do you get stuck in one gear? Ever wonder about your strange whims? We all have them. Some are more noticeable than others. Many can be hidden or written off as normal behavior, but inside you know there’s a gear that’s broken. A rattling. This isn’t a fracture for a bone doctor to repair. It’s deeper.

I’ve been watching my repetitive behavior for a few years now. I also compared it with my mom’s. It’s similar. Some people drink too much alcohol or smoke cigarettes. Others overeat. I have a name for my continual urge. Nesting. It’s common when you move into a new home or if you have a new baby, but I don’t fit either category. Birds gather feathers and yarn for their nest in the spring. I shop on Amazon. I love my home. Finally, I had to ask myself why I continue decorating?

“I have arrived. I am home in the now. I am solid. I am free. In the ultimate I dwell. What a loving place to be.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

The chaos and uncertainty that most of us experience makes it impossible to feel safe. We struggle with our place in society, in the workforce, with our family. We are like a puppy circling to find a comfy spot to sleep. Only we never relax. Circle. Circle. Keep moving.

I don’t feel safe. When I was a child, my home was chaotic and full of anger, so I grew up frightened. As an adult, unconsciously, I’m making a home for myself. My quilts, books, and pictures are only tokens. They are security blankets. Maybe I need them, perhaps I don’t. I’m trying to be patient with myself.

Bless you on your journey to wholeness.

Painting by Leticia Banegas, taken from The Girl God

Like a New Pair of Glasses

I recently got new glasses. I’ve worn contacts for years, but my eyes itched from allergies, so I decided to update my glasses. As I was driving down a familiar ramp, onto a familiar street, it occurred to me to pay closer attention. Even though the road is familiar and the narrow ramp hasn’t changed, my eyesight had. The ramp sidewall looked closer and if I wasn’t paying attention, I could easily scrape my car on the side. 

If your life has changed

Imagine what it would be like if you made a major change in your lifestyle. I’m not referring to the color of your hair or even in the car you drive. Something more along the lines of a sex change or becoming suddenly rich or suddenly poor. How long would it take to adjust? It seems that becoming suddenly rich would be easy. Take off the brakes and let it rip! Right? It’s not always that easy, even though we’d like to try it. Take something as simple as a new car or borrowing a car of a friends. You’ve never driven this vehicle before. It’s hood is a lot longer. The car is a bit wider. It will make parking it in the normal spot at work or the grocery store more difficult. Maybe you’ll park it farther out in the parking lot. Which will mean walking more to get inside. You should probably leave for work 5 or 10 minutes earlier or else you might be late. If you have to park far away, your feet will hurt.

Dramatic changes, even good ones, can upset your balance. Imagine wearing tight shoes. It hurts to walk and we want to stop. So if your walk and your stamina changes by such a little thing as tight shoes, imagine what it would be like to dramatically change your life, such as a sex change. I realize that there’s probably no one reading this blog that’s thinking of changing their life that much, but if something that big happened to you, how long could you handle it before you would want to revert to your comfortable self?

Maybe the change is something you wanted. Or you had no choice at all as in losing a spouse to cancer. There’s no going back. The shoes that are too tight and that change your walk can come off at the end of the day. Being a widow or widower can’t.

So why am I mentioning this? Because changing your life even for your own health, is difficult. Like too tight shoes, you can easily toss most things to the wind. Why bother? It’s not worth this much effort. The meals the doctor want me to eat cost too much, or they take a long time to prepare. It’s easier to stop at a fast food place for a dollar burger. Am I right?

If we want to upgrade our life, we need to learn how to adapt. If we’re forced by fate to accept a new life, give ourselves some time to adapt. No new thing is comfortable. Discomfort is okay. Learn this new person. Because just like with a new pair of glasses or driving a different car, we have to become familiar with all the newness.

Be kind and forgiving. Sit down. Rest. Then get back up and start again. If you splurged on an extra cookie or two, don’t punish yourself. For the next meal carry on as usual. No punishing by making yourself skip the next dessert.

Most often we sabotage ourselves. People that divorce will remarry quickly and end up with the same situation as before. They didn’t allow themselves to readjust. Discomfort overwhelmed them and they wanted to fix their pain. If they could have given themselves more time to heal and process their emotions, instead of slapping on a quick bandage fix, they could have become a much stronger person. We cheat ourselves and sell ourselves short. We don’t think we are strong enough to make it through the emptiness. The dark cave scares all of us. It’s what we do when we are the most afraid that matters. Can we keep on walking through or do we panic and start slashing our imaginary demons?

Growth can only happen if we let ourselves be uncomfortable. Let ourselves feel the anxiety of a new situation. We avoid anxiety. I do at least, but I also know that if I let myself go through an unfamiliar situation I can transform it into a familiar situation. This new thing becomes an old familiar road once again and I have expanded my territory. Most people, as they get older, cling more and more to the familiar. We retire to a smaller home. Maybe sell all but one car. You have fewer friends since you’re not working. The ever-expanding life you once had is now shrinking. It just happens. Taking on challenges is what the young ones do. There’s not anything forcing us to dare or to try anymore, so we don’t.

I don’t want to become rigid as I grow older. I want to continue taking challenges. Since there’s no one around to force me to try new things, I must continually expose myself to new ideas. I want to keep growing. To not become stale. This will need self-discipline and steadiness on my part to stay with the unfamiliar until it becomes familiar to me.

Aha! Another level beaten! Where’s my prize?