That Thing Won’t Make It Better

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Go ahead, you deserve it. That message is pervasive in advertising in a litany of various incantations. Want to look and feel younger? Get the sports car. Want to feel attractive? Buy this dress. Bad day at work? You deserve ice cream. Good news? Time to treat yourself.

We all fall prey at some point or another to the allure that we deserve this thing or that buying an item is a reward. However, once the item is bought, the excitement wears off and we are on to find the next quick fix. This is how our homes become cluttered and our wallets become empty.

I admit that I fall prey to this phenomenon myself. It’s even harder now that I am a homeowner. It is challenging to differentiate sometimes between buying something “for the house” and buying something for me. 

For example, this past winter, I bought a new comforter for the spare bedroom. Was that for the house or for me? I put comforter for the spare bedroom under the category of “house” because I do not personally use that room. However, this Christmas, I am looking to purchase a new comforter for my bed to replace my 22 year old comforter, and I put that under the category of “for me” as opposed to for the house. I also have a tendency to prioritize house things over items that are just for me.

The bottom line is, that thing won’t make it better.

I currently have a perfectly fine 22 year old comforter. It does not need to be replaced. I take it to the laundry-mat every so often to wash it in the big machines and sew places where it needs mending. I may want a new comforter, but I do not need one. The only thing that a new comforter is going to do is temporarily increase my level of happiness and make my wallet a little lighter.

I actually want to buy a new comforter right now. I don’t want to wait for Christmas. The summer colors and patterns are available, and I like them more than the winter colors and patterns. I’m sure I can work up reasons inside my head to justify the purchase. I deprive myself of even small pleasures to focus all my resources on the house. I have had some majorly bad news. The comforter I want is currently on sale. I can come up with reasons to buy it now.

The thing is, buying it now won’t make anything better. Instead of spending money on a comforter, I need to take that money and buy paint to paint the woodwork around my house windows. I have work that needs to be done on the car. I should get more money into my savings account before making a major purchase. I struggle with grocery money with multiple food allergies.

I have plenty of reasons why it is better to wait to buy a comforter sometime in the future instead of buying it now. In fact, buying the comforter now will not only NOT make things better, it would make things worse. I would be behind on other items I need to purchase for home maintenance this summer. 

Many times I think we purchase items based on emotion. I deserve a treat. In the long run, a thing won’t help. Treats are nice occasionally. However, in today’s society it seems treats have become an every day thing.

Maybe if we want to treat ourselves, we should choose treats that aren’t things. Go for a walk. Meet a friend for coffee. Take a child to the movies. Those are the types of things that will make it better. You will have the memories of spending quality time with someone to keep coming back to over and over again.

One of my new goals for this summer is to practice saying “yes” more. As a minimalist, I have gotten really good at saying “no” in an effort to slow down my life and make it more manageable. While I still do not want to be overbooked, over-scheduled, or worn out, I think that saying yes to more experiences will make life better for me in a way that things just can’t.

You deserve time with friends. You deserve time with family. You deserve to see the sunset over the lake. You deserve to see the sunrise on the hood of a car parked near a beach. These are experiences we typically do not see advertised in the media, but are the treats that really will make it better. 

That thing won’t make it better because things come and go. People come and go too, which is why we need to spend time with them while we are here on this Earth. The next time you think “go ahead, you deserve it,” think about what you are saying yes to. Ignore the car, the dress, or the perfume. Say yes to the birthday party, the bonfire, the hike through the woods. That thing won’t make it better. Time with people will. 

Where We Left Off

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One of the joys of life are those friendships that you have for a decade or more, maybe several decades, where the depth is so strong that no matter what happens in life or how long its been since you have spoke, you always have the ability to pick right back up with that person where you left off. Maybe its your best friend from college that you rarely see because they live in a different state. Yet every time you get together, whether its once a year or even less frequent, things just naturally pick right back up again.

These are the friends that you know you can call in the middle of the night. They are the first number you’re dialing when anything major happens – a new baby, a death, a promotion. You want them to hear your news. You want their input for major decisions. They may not see you everyday, but you still think “omg, what would they think of my hair?” when you get a new do.

These are the people that you would drop everything to help. All those sappy country music songs about hopping into your car and taking off on an hours long road trip to help someone out when they call – those kind of ties are real. They may be a rarity, but they exist.

Sometimes you do all that to help someone with the big stuff. Sometimes you drop everything to rush to their side just to silently hold their hand. Silence in person is more comforting than silence by phone. You know that this person would not have called unless they really need something. You know that since they called, you really do need to drop everything to be there.

These are the people who sometimes know you better than you know yourself.

I have the privilege of having this type of relationship with a select handful of people in my life. Perhaps one of the most treasured is someone who I have known for over 30 years. Yes, I know, I’m showing my age. I recently tried describing this relationship into the 21st century by saying it’s my “ride or die.” While there are boundaries in this relationship, I will say that those boundaries are pretty much – I will – unless I absolutely can’t (physically, financially, emotionally, etc.)

I’m not saying that the word door mat should be on your forehead and it’s not on mine. This type of relationship goes two ways.

Life takes you different places and through different situations. Yet somehow, you keep coming back to this one person. It may have been years since you have spoken, and yet when you reconnect, everything is the same.

Some of these relationships can be unhealthy. Some are healthy relationships, yet simply a casualty of geography and circumstance. There have been moments when this particular relationship has been unhealthy for me, but as we have gotten older and life circumstances have changed, it is once again healthy. Sometimes you have to figure out if its toxic or just a phase of life.

Every time we pick up where we left off, I’m ecstatic. I don’t know how long it will last. That is the unhealthy part. The part when it ends and we have to go our seperate ways breaks my heart every time. But I also know that we will come together again and pick up where we left off. That part brings me hope. I also have hope that at some point geography won’t be an issue, and we won’t have to pick up where we left off anymore because we will just be fixtures in each other’s lives again.

Years go by and people change, but at the core, we’re still the same. It’s this consistency that keeps me going. No matter the circumstance, you know the person is the same. You know that’s the same person you fell in love with or first made friends with.

We never say goodbye because it never is goodbye. You may see someone only once every few years, but you still have other ways to communicate – by phone, by letter. It could be months between correspondence and yet you always just continue the conversation.

The relationship keeps going … from where we left off …

A few months ago, my local newspaper had a poetry page. I submitted two entries to the poetry page, one short and one long. The rules for the poetry page was that it had to be original work and that it had to be poems that had never been published. The work I submitted met the requirements; I had not even posted the poems ever to this blog, so they were truly unpublished pieces.

The longer poem that I submitted and was published was one that I had written about my “ride or die” person with whom I have this “where we left off” relationship. Since it was published in the newspaper’s poetry page a few months ago, this will be the second time it’s been published. I’m just going to leave you with this piece of original poetry here:

Innocence Lost

We were 8 years old

Out on the playground.

You asked me out.

I laughed and ran away.

 

10 years later,

I’m in college

And you’re fighting a war.

It’s like we don’t

Know each other anymore.

I’m still dreaming

While every boot print you’re leaving

Takes you further away

From the boy you once were.

 

10 years after that

And I’m not surprised

At the man you’ve become.

I always knew you would

Be someone great.

Too bad the hand of fate

Took the best of you

And left it in some cave

When you were off in that war.

 

We try again. And again.

I know you’re in there,

But things you’ve lived

And things you’ve seen

Well, the Army took

More from you

Than anyone would believe.

 

If life were simple

I would go back to

8 years old

On that playground

Waiting to be found.

Water

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One of my favorite reggae tunes is “Bread” by John Brown’s Body. This group is made up of band members from both Boston, MA and Ithaca, NY which combines two of my favorite places and makes it even better. When I hear this tune, it reminds me to be thankful for everything that we have.

Do we ever think to be thankful for water? We hear about people in other countries who do not have access to clean drinking water. We have heard the stories from Flint, MI and from areas in California that are still trying to recover from the fires and do not have access to clean drinking water.

The concept of water struck home for me, when, for a period of four months, I did not have it. Sometimes, you do not appreciate something until you have to go without.

As you may remember, last summer I was in the throes of my housing crisis. Part of that crisis was the fact that the new owner who bought my apartment building hired this company who was clueless about wells. To make a long story short, our well water got completely screwed up.

This 12-unit apartment building with 1-2 people and 1-2 cats per unit was on a well for 20 years. Everything went fine. We always had water, and it was good water. The water tested well and tasted good.

Then, this water management company came in and the water was completely messed up the last four months I was in the apartment. The water was not drinkable. It sometimes came out a blue-purple color. You could no longer do laundry on-site because clothes would be stained with the blue-purple color. I only used the water for washing dishes and for bathing. Yet even using the water to shower only, all of my bath towels ended up dyed that funky color just from toweling off after a shower.

I had to buy new towels when I moved into the house.

You can imagine, then, when I first moved into the house, all I wanted was a shower. I wanted to shower in clean water. I delighted in turning on the tap in my kitchen sink and drawing a glass of water to drink. I am fortunate in that the area where my house is located has the water that tests the best and tastes the best in the entire county. According to our village newsletter, our water even won some award. I love the water at the house.

Not only am I able to shower at the house, but I can drink water whenever I want. So can the cats. The last four months in the apartment, I was constantly buying gallons of water for us all to drink, which only added to my expenses when I was trying to scrimp to get into the house.

In the house, I am also able to do laundry on-site. I can do laundry whenever I need to do it. It doesn’t matter the day, the weather, or the time. This is truly a luxury and a privilege.

I was thinking lately about how privileged I am to have water.

Being a home owner has been a struggle for me. I call myself a reluctant home owner because I never wanted to buy a house. I bought this house because it was the only way to keep my family together. Everyone around me seems to think I have some problem because I hate being a home owner.

However, on the news recently, a study shows that as much as 60% of home owners in this country have regret or remorse over the fact that we bought a house. We all bought for the same reason – it was cheaper to buy than to rent. We all are depressed and resentful about our home purchases for the same reason too. We hate the responsibility and maintenance.

I am again fortunate in that I have people who have been helping me with the house. I am so appreciative of the help. However, there is a difference between having people who lend you a hand with things and then having a life partner to shoulder the responsibility, joy, and anxiety with you.

Reading the studies and knowing that there are people out there who feel the same way I do helps.

Being thankful for my water helps me appreciate the house even more and also be less resentful.

Out of the 12 apartments in the building in which I lived for 14 years, I have kept in touch with a person who is still there. I had lunch with that person a few weeks ago.

I had seen in the newspaper that the person who bought the building decided to add on more apartments. More apartments means more people means more stress on that well.

I have also heard that instead of 1-2 people in each apartment, there are now 4-6 people in each apartment. Seeing as how the rent more than doubled, I am not surprised. You need 4-6 working adults in each unit now to be able to afford the rent.

So with more units and more people, I asked my friend if the water situation was ever remedied from the mess it was last year.

It has not. Not only is the water still contaminated and coming out that blue-purple color, but apparently there has been no hot water for weeks even though each unit has its own hot water heater. They are essentially all cold water flats. My friends says that she has not said anything because she does not like to deal with the new landlord.

Hearing this situation makes me very thankful for my house. I was so stressed those last four months in the apartment. I had to take all my laundry to the laundry mat, and I was spending exorbitant amounts of money on gallons of water for me and the cats.

I still resent buying a house. I find it overwhelming. But I am thankful that we have a place to live that has working, clean water. We have both hot and cold water. We can drink water right out of the tap.

I have been trying to find ways to be positive about the house to try to decrease my stress levels. Being thankful for water is one way to be thankful for this house.

Even though owning a home is hard – it is damn hard – it is the hardest thing I have ever done – at least we have clean drinking water.

I listen to the song “Bread,” and all I can think is that I have water to make bread. Owning a home is hard, stressful, and not a responsibility that I want. But I am so thankful that this home gives me clean water and that my little family is together.

Thank you for clean water.

 

The Great Milk Conspiracy

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People with food allergies, particularly people with multiple food allergies, are food insecure. When you have multiple allergens to avoid, that means you have to buy a lot of specialty items. Specialty items are not only hard to find, but also more expensive. People with multiple food allergies are typically unable to use traditional food pantries unless the food pantry somehow caters to people with food allergies.

I have 5 of the Top 8 most common food allergens. My reactions are severe. My last year of teaching, one of the kids spilled their milk in my lap. It’s a simple spill, right? No big deal.

It was a big deal. The milk soaked through my pants. I absorbed it through my skin. I stopped breathing. I began to have a seizure. By the time I made it to the hospital, my kidneys and liver had started shutting down. I spent several weeks in ICU.

One of my friends recently said that they heard a newscast that food allergies are all in your head. If that was true, I would have wished that away and not spent so much time in the hospital followed by several long months of recovery.

My food allergies are nothing to joke about.

No, I cannot have “just a little bit.” No, I cannot “pick it out.” I cannot have any contact by any means, period. This includes no cross contamination.

I am like this with peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, egg and wheat. Of the five, my worst reactions are to almonds and dairy. No, I do not have celiac disease. I have an actual allergy to wheat, which is something completely different.

I cannot go into a Dunkin Donuts unless I have a death wish. Seriously. If I ever decide to attempt suicide, I am just going to walk into a Dunkin Donuts. A few years ago, Dunkin Donuts added almond milk. It is quite prolific. I cannot even enter into a Dunkin Donuts to use a bathroom at a thruway rest stop. Who knows how thoroughly the surfaces were cleaned? If I come into any contact with almond milk/almond oil, I react.

I cannot have “normal” cow’s milk (or goat milk or sheep milk or any other animal milk). I cannot have almond milk. I cannot have soy milk, because all soy milks have an almond warning on them.

I typically have  rice milk, coconut milk or hemp milk. Coconut is a misnomer. Coconut is not a nut, it is a drupe fruit and a member of the seed family, and is safe for those with nut allergies. Hemp nut is a misnomer. Hemp is actually a seed, and is safe for those with nut allergies.

These specialty milks are quite expensive. I typically get a half gallon (2 litres) at Aldi for $1.69. This week, Aldi was all out of my milk.

I like milk so that I can have cereal in the morning. I eat allergy-friendly cereal, of course. My medication requires me to take it with food. Mornings are a hard time for me to eat because I don’t feel like eating, and cereal is the easiest thing for me to gag down in the morning to take with my medication.

The past few mornings, I had to get creative with breakfast so that I could take my medication. It was not fun.

Today, I went to 6 different stores looking for milk.

At all 6 stores, there were walls and rows of “regular” cows milk. There were walls and rows of almond milk.

Was there rice milk or hemp milk?

Nope.

It was only at the 7th store that I found what I needed. Now, keep in mind, I typically pay $1.69 for a half gallon (2 litres). Today, at the 7th store, when I found what I needed, I paid $4.69 for 1 litre.

Now, that is quite expensive.

If I have to do this on a regular basis, then that means that half of my monthly food budget is going to be allotted just to milk.

This is partially why people with multiple food allergies are food insecure.

I am one of the privileged ones. I have a vehicle, so I was able to drive to 7 different stores trying to find what I needed. Imagine if you have to ride the bus, take a cab, ride a bike or walk to a store. What would someone in my situation do then?

Food is extremely challenging to find when you have multiple food allergies. This is why I always tell everyone I am not picky about what I eat. I will literally eat anything that won’t kill me. With so many food allergies and reactions so severe, I cannot afford to be picky or to partake in some sort of alternative diet such as vegetarian, vegan, keto, etc.

The rules are simple. Will this kill me if I eat it? No? Then eat it. If it will kill me if I eat it, then don’t touch it. I have actually not had a reaction to something I have eaten in almost 15 years. The 10+ reactions I have had in the past 15 years have all come from touch, or skin absorption.

If I did not have food allergies, then it would be very easy to live on a $30 per week grocery budget. I’d be having macaroni and cheese, sandwiches of all kinds, pizza, ice cream, you name it. I look at grocery store ads and fantasize about all the things I would love to eat if I did not have food allergies.

With multiple food allergies, $30 per week does not go far. I just spent $14.07 on “milk” for the week, which was about ¾ of a gallon. If I want a loaf of bread, it is $10.79. Allergy-friendly bread loaves are smaller than regular loaves of bread. I typically get 3 or 4 sandwiches out of an allergy friendly loaf of bread.

I have to pre-plan my days and be sure to pack enough food for where ever I may be. I cannot go out to eat – hardly anywhere in this area. It’s not like I can just pick up food on the fly or go to a convenience store and get a snickers bar if I’m hungry.

Maybe for my last meal. If I was on death row, I have a milkshake and macaroni and cheese on the list for my last meal, maybe I should add a snickers bar to that.

The great milk conspiracy comes from the fact that I went into 6 stores and found walls of regular milk and almond milk, but no milk for me. Do stores and manufacturers just not think about all the people who are allergic to both dairy and almonds? I did not even see soy milk at some of these places, not that I can have that either.

What is with this trend in almond milk? It is my worst nightmare. This is why I wear a warning label like a Gremlin.

You want to see how fast I can run, whip out a carton of almond milk. I’ll be gone in a flash. I don’t have a death wish today. No thank you.

Maybe I should just give up on specialty items. I mean, I’m sure if I was on food stamps that people would judge me for checking out with a 1 litre carton of hemp milk for $4.69 when I could get a half gallon of regular milk for $1.29.

More importantly, when did milk become a specialty item?

The dairy industry has such a hold on our food system that they are advocating for alternative milks to be called something different. The dairy industry argues that something like rice milk isn’t real milk and should not be called milk.

There are times when I think “I don’t care what you call it as long as I can put it in my cereal and it doesn’t kill me.”

There are other times when I think “Why is my milk less than your milk? I should have access to milk too, whatever form that may take.”

Who would have ever guessed that trying to buy milk would create such drama?

This is the first time I have had this experience with trying to find milk. I do have this experience with allergy friendly pasta and allergy friendly flour on a regular basis. Whenever I do find allergy friendly pasta or allergy friendly flour, I buy them in bulk. I consider them treats because they are so expensive and so hard to find.

Part of me thinks that things like milk, bread, pasta and flour should not have to be considered treats. They should not be hard to find. They should not be expensive. Those items should be staples. I should not have to drive to 7 stores to find what I need. Don’t most people go to 1 or 2 grocery stores? Why do I have to go to multiple stores looking for “specialty” items?

Maybe my thinking is all out of whack. But when you have a large industry like the dairy industry saying you can’t call rice milk “milk” because it doesn’t come from a cow, and it takes me 7 stores to find something to put on my cereal in the morning, we have a problem.

For now, the Great Milk Conspiracy can take a rest. I have enough hemp milk for my cereal for the rest of the week. I can tell you right now, that breakfast tomorrow morning is going to be amazing. I may have completely blown my food budget, but I can have cereal again. At least, until the milk runs out.

How to Train Your Human: A Guide for Cats

 

WP_20190203_13_15_31_Pro (1)Disclaimer: If you lack a sense of humor, you should stop reading now.

Double Disclaimer: If you lack creativity, you should probably stop reading now too. This will be either the most brilliant or the most stupid thing you have read. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Today’s Guest Post is provided by Jude Anderson AKA one of the cats with whom I live AKA the man of the house that is really in charge here.

Hi, my name is Jude Anderson. After 7 years, I have finally figured out how to train my human and wanted to share it with you today for all the other felines who want to take more control over their household than they already have. After all, the purpose in human staff is to get them to meet our needs.

We all know how to manipulate our humans. Lay on the computer/newspaper/book when they are using it. Look cute and bat things. Chase sunbeams. This past year, I finally figured out how to train my human to overfeed me.

Last year, the veterinarian was concerned about my weight. Something called obesity and diabetes. We all know those things can be fixed with treats, right? Well, somehow, my human thought that this vet person was in charge and started actually measuring my food for both breakfast and dinner.

Can you imagine it? My human was measuring my food.

Sure, I tried all the typical tricks to get extra food. I meowed. I batted my eyelashes. I purred and rubbed up against my human. The food cupboard is impossible to open because it has a magnet on it, so I started pawing at the food cupboard. I made my human feel guilty by giving her pitiful looks while she was cooking dinner. I even stole pieces of my human’s food.

I ate a piece of raw hot dog! Can you believe it! If you want to get your human’s attention, run as fast as you can, grab a piece of hot dog as they are cutting it up, and take that piece of hot dog into hiding. That really gets you attention! I also ate a brussel sprout, but that did not get as much attention as stealing a piece of hot dog.

The typical tricks worked a little. My human started giving me treats. I love treats. It was great. I continued to beg for food even after I had eaten my dinner.

The key to this whole process is begging after dinner. Humans are really busy in the mornings after breakfast. Then they leave to go to this place called “work.” My human says its to pay for cat food, so I guess the whole work thing is okay. I still don’t like it. So, the optimal time for food begging is after dinner.

After dinner is when your human is most vulnerable. Apparently, this thing called “work” makes them tired. Who knew humans needed naps? Cats are the superior ones here. I nap all the time. Anyways, after dinner is when humans are easy to train.

I had this pretty great routine down that was getting me extra treats. Except when my human gave me treats, she also played with me. All this running around works up an appetite!

I decided I needed a partner in crime. I can’t believe my human was measuring my food because the veterinarian told her to do that. Who is in charge of this house? I am!

I have this annoying little brother named Simon. I mean, really, aren’t all little brothers annoying? Well, my little brother is really annoying. My human likes to say his name a lot. Although, I think Simon might be a nickname. Sometimes my human calls him “Simon! I should have named you Alvin.” That’s probably his real name and we use Simon for short.

I got Simon to help me amp up the begging so we could train my human. If you have an annoying little brother, then you can implement the same routine to train your human too.

First, I would start with my begging routine after dinner. The slave – I mean human – always feeds us first, as it should be. Then, the human prepares its own dinner. As the human is preparing dinner, I started my begging to make the human feel guilty like I was being left out. Even though I already ate, it was not fair for the human to be eating and me to not be. Am I right?

I would annoy the human while cooking. You should specifically rub up against your human when they are cooking. They will start screeching about something “hot” and give you treats. It works really well.

Then, after the human ate (and we got treats), I called on Simon to wear my human down.

Simon likes to chew things. I like to chew things too. I chew my toys. We have these stuffed mice that are fun to bite. But anyways, Simon likes to chew things like cords. This makes humans angry – something about being electrocuted – whatever that means. So anyways, get your annoying little brother to chew cords. Your human will stand up to shoo him away so he doesn’t get electrocuted.

Simon would chew cords repeatedly. If you do this often enough, the humans wear down and will do absolutely anything to get you to stop. This means that you will be fed.

Now, this process is not automatic. Training your human takes time. Keep in mind that the human may act out, no matter how well you plan this. When Simon and I first started to train our human, the human would try to do things to counteract Simon.

First, the human put tin foil on the cords for Simon. Boy, was that fun! We ripped the tin foil off and batted it around! Then, the human tried to cover the cords with plastic. That was fun too! The human even started rearranging furniture to try to hide the cords. This was absolutely great because the human made us an amazing obstacle course!

Finally after all these different responses to Simon chewing cords, we wore out our human, and she fed us more food! Our human even made it fun by having us chase kibble!

This was a great game and the best outcome ever! We trained our human to give us a second dinner and play a game of catch with us at the same time!

Keep in mind that it took us quite a few months to train our human. You have to be really persistent to get your human to do what you want. Well, we can’t expect them all to be easily trained, can we?

To summarize how to train your human:

  1. Beg. Use all your typical tricks to get your human to pay attention to you. As cats, we are the center of the universe after all.
  2. If your human does not respond to begging, wait until after dinner when the human is tired.
  3. Enlist your little brother to wear the human down.
  4. Your little brother should come up with a trick that makes your human say his name repeatedly. Getting your human to say your name repeatedly is key to training them.
  5. Be patient. Depending on the human, they can take months to train.
  6. If it’s food you are looking for, be sure to paw at the food cupboard to clearly show the human that they should be feeding you.
  7. Once you get a routine down to train your human, stick with it!

Next, Simon and I are working on getting our human to take us outside. Our human keeps saying things like “leash” and “indoor only.” Once we figure out how to get around these phrases, I’ll let you know how we are doing with training our human.

Until then, happy eating and training!

 

Dog Gone Down

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April is turning out to be an eventful month. Did you know that when people turn 40, that automatically means you are depressed? According to my primary physician it does.

There was an article out of the UK recently that concludes the age at which people are the most unhappy in life is 44. Must be that mid-life crisis setting in. This is a follow-up to the study that was done a few years ago about the happiest age. I’ve written about it before somewhere on this blog… The happiness study concludes that the happiest age is 33. I definitely agree with that. Some pretty awesome things happened in my life when I was 33.

I do not think that just because a person turns 40 automatically means you are depressed. I was so ecstatic (honestly) to turn 40 last month. I have now officially outlived over half of the females in my family. Each decade I keep getting better. Plus, I am able to change age group for running.

My primary physician spent the bulk of my appointment a few weeks ago talking to me about mood disorders, specifically depression. They gave me the depression screening twice – once at the beginning of my appointment and once at the end. I was negative both times. I am not depressed.

This is a great time in my life. Life is not perfect. I’m lacking my dream job. But I’ve already ridden that unicorn, so things right now are pretty awesome. What do I have to be depressed about? I gave it some serious thought. I could not come up with anything.

I figured if my doctor is lecturing me about depression and I don’t feel depressed, that there must be something wrong with me. I’m 40 now, apparently I’m supposed to be depressed. What is up with all the happiness? I should be feeling down.

That lead me to create me own crisis. I’m 40 now, so, according to my doctor, it’s not normal for everything to be good.

Is it just me, or does this entire situation sound messed up?

This leads to Dog Gone Down.

I called one of my therapist friends from when I was in social work and explained the entire situation to her. I said, well, my doctor seems to think I have a mood disorder all of a sudden since I turned 40, so maybe I need therapy. She laughed. Once the laughter subsided, she screened me for depression again. Again, I scored completely negative with no symptoms. Then she asked me what I would talk about in therapy.

Well, Simon’s new trick is knocking the phone off the hook so that it rings busy. I’m trying to get money back in my savings account for house maintenance. I’m planning a half marathon for the fall. Nothing deep. My friend kept giggling and suggested maybe I need a new primary care physician, not a therapist. But to be honest, I’m pretty sure this 40 equals depression thing is pretty pervasive in the medical community here.

This weekend I took a box of towels and blankets to the animal shelter to donate. There are about three animal shelters in a 30 mile radius of me, so I try to rotate which shelter I am donating to so that I am not showing love to just one of the area animal shelters.

I dropped off the box, and, as usual when I make a donation, I walked around the shelter visiting with the animals. I have absolutely no desire to adopt another cat. I already live with two. Jude and Simon run this household, and there is no way I can handle a third boss in charge of my life. But, I enjoy showing the shelter cats some love for an hour or so when I drop something off.

Then, I walked into the dog room. I immediately turned around to walk out because it was just too LOUD. When six or seven dogs are barking at once, it is loud. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move up high. There was a dog on the end who was jumping to see who was there. It was the only dog not barking.

So, I went down to visit him. He looked really lonely. He is one of the longest dogs there. People don’t visit with him because he is so shy. He lays in the cage and just looks at people. I have spent close to 3 hours with this dog and never heard him bark once. When people visit animal shelters to adopt, it is quite common that shy or elderly animals get overlooked. This one is very shy.

And then I thought. This is it! Maybe the doctor was right. Maybe I’m depressed and I NEED A DOG!

Or, rather, a dog would be the perfect crisis to inject into my life right now to totally screw up the little utopia I have going on with my family life at home. Totally acceptable. I can tell the doctor I’m stressed because I have a dog, it will confirm her idea of mood disorder and I’ll be good to go.

This dog really did tug at my heart strings. I have been wanting a dog. If I had the house a year earlier, Simon would have been a dog and not a cat. However, since buying the house, I just figured I would wait until both Jude & Simon pass away and then get a dog. I was not thinking of getting a dog right now. But this dog was so polite. He is trained and has manners. I just fell in love.

The shelter rule is that you have to fill out an adoption application to visit with a dog. I filled one out so I could visit with him and pet him. He was so well behaved and trained that I was seriously considering adoption, but needed more time and visits. I let the shelter know I was interested.

This morning they called and said my adoption application had been approved and wanted to know when I was picking him up?

What?

I am not sure if I am ready for a dog. I need more visits and to see what he is like outside and on a leash. I have never even walked a dog on a leash before. I have walked cats on a leash plenty of times, but never a dog.

The dog is scheduled to be neutered tomorrow and will need time to recover from surgery, so I took the afternoon off to visit him again so I could see him outside and try him on the leash.

That was the worst experience of my life. I am never getting a dog. I grew up with dogs, but I have been living with cats for the past 20 years. Apparently, with a dog, the human has to be in charge. I don’t have the personality for it. In my house, my cat is in charge.

Walking a dog on a leash was the worst experience of my life. I may possibly be injured.

The shelter does not allow people to walk dogs on their own, so he was doubled leashed. I am so thankful for this rule.

I was dragged.

I think I blew out my knee again. No exaggeration. My leg from my ankle up through my hip and back hurt. My arm hurts from my wrist to my shoulder. I am really worried about my knee. It’s also the knee that had a serious injury a few years ago.

The shelter told me that this dog is the easiest one to walk in the kennel. They have an 80 year old volunteer who loves walking this dog because he is so easy to walk. Well, that’s great, but I was still dragged. If I cannot handle this dog with a shelter staff helping me, there is no way I will be able to handle him on my own.

The shelter staff tried explaining “well, he can be trained …” I get that, but at the same time, I will not be able to train him. I will be injured and none of us will be going anywhere. Plus, I was really worried about how Jude and Simon would take the sudden appearance of a dog in our lives.

So, lesson learned. The dog is gone. Well, not really. I never had the dog to begin with. He is still in the shelter. My heart still breaks for him because he is the sweetest dog. No one looks at him because he is so shy. I’m sure if an experienced dog owner could overlook the shyness, they would be able to handle him on a leash and he would be an amazing companion. For EXPERIENCED dog walkers, he is great on a leash. As a 100-pound person who has never walked a dog before, I cannot handle being dragged by a 50 pound dog.

When Kip was alive, he walked on a leash quite frequently. He loved it. Sometimes, he would take off and chase a leaf or something. Being dragged by a 14 pound cat is way different. I can handle that. I would like to leash train Jude and Simon, but they want nothing to do with it.

Don’t tell me to try for a smaller dog. I don’t want a smaller dog. I would just have a cat. I don’t think I’m meant to have a dog. It was just this one that stole my heart.

So, maybe I can be down because the dog is gone. It is very sad that such a great pet is in a shelter. Or, maybe I will continue to argue with my primary care physician that not only am I not depressed, but I am very happy because my life is pretty good right now.

When I go to sleep tonight, I have two amazing cats who love me and snuggle me in bed every night. Really, it doesn’t get much better than that.

I could tell her how stressful it is living in the house because it is so LOUD here. I miss my apartment because it was quiet. But, I don’t think that makes me depressed. I am more annoyed at the noise and unruliness of the neighborhood where the house is compared to the apartment.

Bottom line, I’ve tried dog gone down, and it just doesn’t work.

This 40-year old lives with two cats and is happy.

Inquiring Minds

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Ever notice that your library has a “theme?” Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a library connoisseur, but I have noticed that libraries have themes. In my life, I have visited numerous libraries, but more on that later. In my geographic area, I have physically used five libraries with some sort of relative frequency and noticed distinct differences among them.

Library I is about 90% non-fiction. You want to learn something, as in actually learn something, you can find it in this library. Dewey Decimal in his Heaven must be so proud. This is the largest library in a multi-county area. It has one little room of fiction novels, and the rest of the entire library is non-fiction. If you want to write anything from a paragraph to a thesis to a book, you can practically do all of your background research here. This library has everything from the mainstream to the most obscure of titles in non-fiction.

Library G has the best selection of science fiction DVDs. Whether you want to watch The Highlander, The X-Files, Earth 2, The 4400, Star Wars, or Star Trek, this library has the most extensive collection in this area. Why? Are the people who live near Library G really into science fiction? Is that where all the Trekkies live? If so, I want a Convention. I was seriously contemplating ordering a pin that looks just like a Star Trek The Next Generation communicator for my birthday. The only thing that stopped me … well, I was trying to act like a responsible **cough, cough** 40-year-old adult. So, I didn’t.

Library D has the most extensive and prolific collection of biographies. Whether you want to read about a baseball player, a political figure or the front man of a popular 90s heavy metal band, this library has it. They get in new biographies all the time. They even have an entire room with a window seat in it devoted to biographies. After being tortured throughout grade school with book reports and reading about dead people, I never even knew biographies could be exciting, engaging and downright interesting until I discovered this library. In fact, I am actually on the waiting list for a new biography just released in February 2019 to get on inter-library loan from this library.

Library C has the largest collection of large print books I have ever seen anywhere. They’re not just dusty afterthoughts. They keep up the collection and are constantly ordering new books in large print all the time. Sometimes, a new popular book will be all checked out with a waiting list for the “regular print,” yet I am able to find it on the shelf at this library in large print. Look, I’ve worn glasses and/or contacts since the age of 8. We all know I am not getting any younger. I so so so love me some large print. In fact, I often prefer it. This library has it, and it isn’t just your grandmother’s dirty little secret. The large print section is front, center, and large in more ways than just font.

Library M has a very distinct collection of Christian fiction. This library dedicates about half of an entire room to Christian fiction. In all other libraries, I have seen occasional Christian fiction novels mixed in with “general fiction.” This is the first library I have seen that actually gives the genre it’s own distinct space. Not only do they give the genre it’s own area, but this is another library that pays special attention to its particular section. New titles are often ordered in this genre. Not only can you find older, traditional titles, but also newer volumes and series.

Do libraries do this on purpose? Do they notice that a lot of people check out Star Wars and then start ordering more sci-fi movies? Is there some sort of library plot going on? Like, hey, let’s make all the biography readers go to Library D, but if you need it in large print, then you can only find it at Library C. I’m sure there must be some rhyme or reason to this. Either that, or I am the only person who notices this “phenomenon” and am slowly losing my mind.

Not only in my geographic area, but in others, I have noticed “themes” in libraries. When I was growing up, there was Library N that has a large collection of science fiction books. There was Library W (in a completely different state!) that had also had a large section of science fiction books.

I have been in libraries in both rural and urban areas and noticed themes. Do you notice a theme in your library? Any particular genre that seems more prolific than others?

For me, libraries are comfortable. Reading a favorite book can feel like coming home. At the same time, I absolutely love reading something new. I read voraciously.

At various times when I was homeless both as a child and as an adult, libraries are places of refuge. You know you can go into a library to be safe and warm. Library I even allows people to use their library card to check out umbrellas when it was raining.

When I was homeless in a large city as an adult, I would sleep in libraries. It’s a common thing. Quiet, safe place. As long as we weren’t bothering anyone and were in a relatively non-traffic area, the librarians kind of looked the other way. I remember one time when I feel asleep on a library couch and had purposely set a watch alarm to wake me 15 minutes prior to library closing so that I could wake and leave on my own to save the embarrassment of being woke by the librarian.

Unfortunately, I was really tired that day. The alarm went off – and continued to go off – for five minutes until I finally woke up with a librarian and one other very concerned looking individual standing over me. Talk about embarrassing. That library in particular, by the way, had a theme of children. We will call it Library H. The children’s section in that library was huge. It has the largest selection of children’s literature I have ever seen. That library even loans out children’s toys.

I found out about four years ago that that particular library has now closed. It’s collection was donated to Library U on the opposite side of the city. I have not been to visit Library U since it “acquired” Library H. I wonder if Library U now has a children’s theme since it acquired Library H, or if Library U has retained it’s original theme of theology texts.

If library themes are on purpose, I would like to know how and why they are planned. If they are accidental, then it must be some sort of Mayan crop circle concept going on. Or, it could all just be in my mind. We see what we want to see.

Inquiring minds want to know. Does your library have a theme?

My Best Decade

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Today is my 40th birthday. Birthdays are my favorite holiday. They are proof I’m still here and survived another year of what life threw at me. 40 is great because I get to move up another age group in running. 40 is significant because I have now outlived my paternal grandmother, who passed away from a stroke at age 39. Each decade I’m alive keeps getting better, so here’s hoping that 40 is awesome.

Looking back on my 30s, they were pretty amazing. My 30s were definitely better than my 20s.

The three major challenges I had in my 30s were the heartache of Kip’s death, the heartache of Kitty’s death, and my stroke at age 37. There were other really bad things too, but these three were the worst.

With those notable exceptions, my 30s were (so far) my best decade.

In random, but somewhat chronological order, here are 10 things that made my 30s the best decade ever:

  1. I completed my bachelor’s degree.

It took 15 years to do so. In those 15 years, I did get an associate’s degree, live in at least 4 different states, battle homelessness, and work 3 jobs 60-70 hours per week, but I got it done. My bachelor’s degree was the only degree for which I was not valedictorian, and it was the only graduation ceremony I attended. Out of all my degrees, finishing my bachelor’s was definitely not only the most challenging, but also the most fun.

  1. I ran marathons.

More than one. I’ve ran in Philly, Boston, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Scranton, and a few other cities. Each one is precious. I ran a marathon down the longest street in the world (true story). I ran my first point-to-point (city-to-city) marathon. I represented Team USA internationally. I had the opportunity to run into an Olympic Stadium (not during an actual Olympics). I’ve gotten a high five at the finish line from the Mayor of a major American city.  I’ve had limo service to my pre-race dinner as a “visiting athlete.” My medals actually mean more than my degrees.

  1. I got to see my MLB team play on home turf.

Every baseball fan should have this experience at least once in their life. It doesn’t matter how old you are, it is completely magical to be at the stadium on game day, to watch the maintenance people prep the lawn, and then finally see your heroes take the field to play the best game on Earth. If you have not yet had this experience, it should definitely be on your bucket list. Pro sports tickets are extremely expensive, but try to save to go just once. It’s one of my favorite memories of all time.

  1. I got to see my MLB team win the World Series (on TV, not in person).

This is another experience that everyone should have at least once in their life. I’ve seen road wins and I’ve seen home wins. The home win is just something everyone should be able to experience once. No one should have to die without having seen their team win the World Series.

  1. I fell in love.

You hear this all the time. In my 20s, the remark was almost flippant. In my 30s, this phrase took on meaning. I don’t mean the lightning strike love-at-first-sight moment that is a complete whirlwind and then all of a sudden fizzles. I’m talking about the kind of love where you have known a person for decades through good and bad and are 100% supportive of that person, even when they are doing things that are not necessarily great. I’m not talking about being a door mat. I’m talking about actually being someone’s partner and having the ability to love a person so much that you are always there for them even if their life choices take them away from you. The kind of love that you know that is your person and there is no one else you click with like that, who knows you so well.

  1. I finished my Master’s degree.

If my bachelor’s degree seemed an impossibility, then grad school was a pipe dream. I actually think I was in the final year of my bachelor’s when I started asking people to explain grad school to me. No one in my family had ever even gone to college and the only people I knew with graduate degrees were my professors. It was like some hidden Holy Grail that I was finally able to unlock. I am now a Jill of all trades and master of ONE!

  1. I rode the unicorn into extinction.

By this I mean that I had that elusive experience of all adulthood – I had my dream job. I had a job I loved so much that it didn’t feel like work. I just showed up to do what I wanted to do – what I had spent 20 years of my life preparing to do – and happened to get paid to do that every day. I would have been so happy to do that every single day until I died or retired. How many people in this country have the privilege of being able to say “I love what I do” and actually mean it? Or should I say, how many people can actually say “I love what I do” and are getting paid to do it at a level that meets all their living expenses. All dreams must come to an end, and the company I worked for decided to pull out of New York State. So I rode the unicorn to the end of the rainbow not to find a pot of gold like I had expected, but just an empty void that I still have not figured out how to fill. Once you’ve had your dream job, nothing else will ever live up to that experience. Especially when the job you find to replace the dream doesn’t even respect you. Now, this is extinction.

  1. I bought a house.

If my masters degree was a pipe dream, well, I’ll tell you right now that buying a home was never on my radar. At all. I have never lived in a house. I have spent a chunk of my life being homeless. I never figured a “person like me” would even own a home. I never entertained the idea or even saved for one. Owning a home was a joke. My back-up plan for housing was – well, if things go bad, I’ll just move back to Massachusetts or buy a house, insert excessive laughter literally rolling on the floor laughing here. Buying a house is one of the scariest things I have ever done in life. So far, it’s also been one of the best choices I have ever made. I kept my family together and the cats are so much happier here than they were in the apartment. Funny, I never thought they were unhappy in the apartment, it’s just a contrast to see how well they are doing in the house.

  1. Anything less than 110% is … okay?

I spent almost 25 years of my life burning the candle at both ends. I slept 4 hours a day. I worked 3 jobs to make ends meet because really, who can survive on minimum wage? I worked 60-70 hours per week while going to school full-time working on my degrees. I excelled in school. Some call me an overachiever. So, when my stroke completely knocked me down a few years ago, it is quite a shock to only operate at abut 86%. Which, by the way, is considered my “level of functioning.” I am also considered “fully recovered.” Even though the doctors consider me fully functional, it is hard for me to accept that this is all I can do now. I’m used to doing so much more. What my stroke has taught me, is that it is okay to slow down. I can rest and still get things done. I’m pretty grateful to have learned this lesson now and be at 86% than to have just worked myself into the ground – it could have been worse. Listen to your body is the greatest lesson I have learned in my 30s.

  1. Family First

Family first has been carrying me through life since Kitty, as a 4-month old kitten, first climbed up onto my shoulders at the animal shelter and would not get down when I was 19. He picked me out. I took him home. We were together until he passed away from cancer just before his 19th birthday. Every major life choice I have made has centered around keeping my family together. Through everything that has happened with work, school, running, and health, at the end of the day, I come home to my furkids. They are always here, happy to see me with unconditional love. Family first is the tenant that will carry me into my 40s. As long as we are all together, everything is okay. My primary job is keeping us all together, loving my cats and being loved by them.

Of course, none of this would be possible without God. That’s the bottom line. God has done great things in my life through my 30s. I can’t wait to see what’s next for 40. Thanks for making my 30s my best decade so far.

My life verses:

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NLT)

Three Years After Facebook

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One of my friends whom I have known for almost twenty years lost her house in a fire a few weeks ago. This is someone with whom I also worked at two different places of employment. At one job, she was my supervisor, at another job, I was her’s. Even though we no longer work together, we have remained friends through the years and many different life events.

My friend was fortunate in that she, her husband, and all three of their dogs were able to escape the fire safely. The house, however, is a complete loss taking multiple fire departments over 12 hours to battle the blaze. The fire made both local and regional news channels at stations 60 miles away.

I spent some time over the weekend talking with my friend trying to figure out how to best help her. I can’t imagine what it is like to lose absolutely everything. Many people think that minimalism is some cold-hearted philosophy that centers around getting rid of everything and having empty rooms.

While I do have empty rooms, minimalism is not about getting rid of everything. Minimalism is about surrounding yourself with what you truly love and focusing on who matters in life. I simply cannot imagine losing everything like that. What I have in my house is only what I love and what brings me happiness.

During this conversation with my friend, one of the comments she made stuck with me.

She said that she was glad I had reached out to her because she had been thinking about how my Christmas card and letters were next to her chair.

Since deleting my Facebook account three years ago come the first week of February, I have been focusing more on being present in my relationships. I want the people in my life to know that they matter to me by receiving my complete attention when I am with them. I don’t want to miss out on the important moments in life because I am too busy scrolling through a social media feed or trying to get the right photo to post online.

This blog is my only form of social media. I have no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, no LinkedIn, nothing.

Three years after deleting my Facebook account, I still have no regrets. I could not be happier with my choice.

Back to my friend … this person is one that I try to send a card to either monthly or every few months. There are a few people in my life that I write to on a regular basis to keep in touch since I am no longer on Facebook.

I do not often get a response from the people I write. That’s fine. Life is busy between work, kids, and life. I totally get that.

What really touched me about my friend’s comment was the knowledge that she actually reads my cards I send every so often. Not only that, but she seems to look forward to them.

She lost absolutely everything in her home and one of her (I’m sure many) thoughts was, “oh, your letters were right next to my chair.” I’m sure her thought stemmed more from remembering her house and the familiarity of it than from my actual letters.

I told her I would send her another card. I did. I tried to keep it light with little to no house stuff. I’m pretty sure one of my last cards was full of first-time homeowner news (like my lawn mower adventures last fall) and I’m sure that’s the last thing she wants to hear about right now.

Now, if I had been on Facebook, I would have known about the fire a lot sooner than I did. Apparently, she posted it to Facebook about an hour into the blaze.

I truly don’t understand how people can have the emotional strength to not only live their life, but actively report on their own personal tragedy while it is happening. It’s not a judgement, it’s just an observation of something that I no longer understand.

When I had a Facebook, I remember doing the same thing. Every inane thought and one-liner to major life events was documented online. For me, social media made everything become more dramatic that it needed to be. It’s like jumping up and down in the middle of the street screaming “look at me!”

I, personally, am so happy to have the drama removed from my life. I have enough drama at work. I don’t need drama in the virtual realm as well.

Three years post-Facebook, and I don’t miss it at all. I still get the weird looks and comments of “you should be on Facebook.” I don’t think so. Sure, I may miss out on things by not being online. It takes me a bit longer to learn things when my news sources are the paper (yes, paper) newspaper and the radio. However, I still keep in touch with the important people in my life and know what is going on with them.

I treasure my relationships more because I actually put forth effort into maintaining them. It’s one thing to mindlessly scroll through your phone pushing the “like” button or typing “I’m so sorry” giving virtual support and quite another thing to actually pick up the phone and ask someone “How are you? How can I help?” and then physically, emotionally and spiritually help them.

Community is what happens in real life. Who is going to be there for you when there is no wifi?

Recently, I have heard that some people are choosing to delete Facebook due to the privacy drama going on. Drama is still drama. It has been there since the beginning of Facebook. It’s just a question of what kind of drama you are willing to put up with and how much of it. Apparently, people have a lower tolerance for privacy drama than for emotional drama.

I’ve spoken with some people who rely on social media for information, and no matter what happens will not delete their accounts. That’s fine. To each their own.

There is a certain fear of missing out (FOMO). For some people, FOMO is real. They will not get rid of social media due to FOMO. For me, I can say that when I was on Facebook, there was no FOMO. I did miss out. Big time. I missed out on important things in my life and I missed out on people who were right in front of me due to my preoccupation with social media.

Three years post-Facebook, I don’t feel as though I am missing out on anything. I am present for the important people in my life. For those of you who stay on social media due to FOMO, think about what you may be missing in real life by using social media.

Social media does have it’s merits. As someone who lives in a rural area, I can see how social media would be helpful for people who feel isolated. Just keep in mind are you using social media to connect, or are you isolating the people around you in real life by using social media?

Social media use is a personal decision for everyone. I’m just here to tell you that if you are thinking about deleting social media, you are not alone. I have done it and am much happier for it.

Every so often, you will hear about a social media experiment where someone agrees to go off social media for a year or so, sometimes to get some money. There are articles on the internet about going a year without Facebook. In fact, I did a blog post about it. Part of the reason why I did a follow-up post in year two and now in year three is to show that leaving social media is sustainable.

It is not only sustainable, but my stress levels have decreased and my happiness has increased since leaving social media.

While it may have taken me a little bit longer to find out about my friend’s situation without social media, once I found out, that does not change my reaction to what happened. Without social media occupying my time, I actually have time to respond to my friend in a caring way beyond just a comment on a post. I have time to be there for someone in real life who needs a friend. Isn’t that what life is supposed to be about?

Three years after Facebook. I have no regrets.

 

Home is Where the Cats Are

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Jude in the new house Christmas 2018

Many people get upset and emotional when they move from a place where they lived for a long time. It’s understandable. There was a lot of living done and may memories created when we stay in one place for a long time.

You would think that I would have had an emotional reaction when I moved out of the apartment I had lived in for 14 years. It was the longest I had ever lived in one place and the only place I lived that ever truly felt like home.

The second day I was in the house, I had a single moment of meltdown. I remember sitting on the bed in the new house, tired, dirty, drained, and stressed, crying because I wanted to go home and didn’t know where that was. Ten minutes later the moment passed, and I continued with unpacking boxes and getting settled into the house. That was the only “moment” I’ve had.

When some people move to a new location after living someplace for a long time, they will have a moment of confusion when driving and accidentally drive towards the “old house” before realizing that they have to take a new way home now. I’ve heard of this happening, but have never experienced it myself. From day one of when I moved, it was pretty clear to me where I was supposed to be.

I always return to where ever my cats are. I knew exactly where my cats were, so that’s where I go, no question. Home is where the cats are.

Within two hours of closing on my house, I moved the cats. The cats moved first before anything else.

I know that when moving with pets, this is counter intuitive. You are not supposed to move the pets first. You are supposed to move them last so that they do not get lost. In my case, I had to move them first before I even gave notice to the landlord that I was leaving. I had to be sure that the cats were safe and stably housed, since they were part of the “problem” for a landlord who was going pet-free.

Once the cats were in the house, this is just where I return. Every day. Every time I go out.

I think this is part of why I am NOT emotional over the whole move. Other than my one “moment,” which I think was mostly exhaustion and frustration from the move (who wouldn’t be exhausted and frustrated when moving?), I haven’t had any other break downs over the move.

I moved and did not look back. Yes, the situation was unfortunate. I am mostly mad at the circumstances of the move – that it was a forced move and not something of my own volition. However, the goal in that hellish situation was always to keep my family together. By purchasing a home, I have been able to keep the three of us together. That’s all that really matters.

People ask me if I like the house. I like it well enough. It is taking some time to get used to. It does not feel like “home” yet. That will come in time. I hate the stairs – I never wanted a two story house. I love my kitchen. It’s my favorite kitchen I’ve ever had anyplace I have lived or ever seen anywhere.

What is most important, is that the cats are happy here. They each have their favorite window for optimal bird viewing. I am so happy there are birds here for them to watch, as that was one of their favorite activities in the apartment. They seem to be happy. They both cuddle with me.

Jude has been spending a lot of time rolling around and on his back. He did that a little bit in the apartment, especially when I first adopted him. Jude likes to roll. However, I noticed on Christmas that he was so happy over one of his presents that he laid on his back with all his legs in the air. I’ve seen him do that a few times in the new house. He never did that in the apartment. I’m thinking he must like the new house if he is that comfortable here to expose himself like that.

Over the past 4 months we have been in the house, Jude spends less and less time hiding in the kitchen cupboard. In fact, the only time I see him go in there now is when someone comes to visit. Sometimes, he doesn’t even go in the cupboard, he finds other places to hide. The fact that Jude is so comfortable in the house that he no longer hides in the cupboard on a regular basis speaks volumes.

Simon is happy every place. This is the cat that even purrs at the vet office when getting his rabies vaccine. Nothing seems to phase Simon. Except thunderstorms. We discovered this summer that Simon is terrified of thunderstorms.

We are still getting settled into the house. We are getting into new routines and moving things around. We are all together, and that is what is most important.

I literally could have lived anywhere. Given the situation when the new landlord took over the apartment building last spring, I was fully prepared to be homeless again and was trying to figure out how to live in my car or an RV or someplace with both cats. I’m really glad that it did not come to that, but I was literally prepared to live anywhere with them. We are a family and we have to stay together.

So while it doesn’t really matter where we live as long as we are all together, this house is by far the nicest place we have ever lived. It’s home because this is where my cats are located. I come home to them every night.

As long as Jude and Simon like the house, then I’m happy.

Home is where the cats are.