Easter 2021 Your New Beginnings, How to Identify if You Are Pushing Yourself too Hard and Fix It

Easter 2021, wow a great time to focus on new beginnings. For myself and many of my clients, last year presented the opportunity to focus on health and wellness. The other thing that had a big focus was distractions. Staying busy to stay distracted. If you found yourself in one or both of these camps, a big driver was just how overwhelming the world had become. That kind of pressure can push you in ways that could harm your health. And any decision you make can be challenging to identify if the decision is in your best interest. So, here are some thoughts on why you may be pushing yourself too hard today, a great cheat sheet to identify when you push yourself too hard, and how to fix it to ensure you are building your health and wellness.

The big thing that happened last year was the pandemic. The pandemic may have allowed you to take the time to get back in shape. What else were you going to do? Streaming television hadn’t released a new movie in over a year. You blew threw everything on Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, HBO, etc., etc. somewhere in the first four months of the shutdown. Restaurants, theatres, and other halls of the festive gatherings were closed. Pretty much it was you and your home. 

So, off to the fitness races, many people went, including me. I have an episode “Consciously Helping Your Heart Stay Healthy (Ep. 2 of Heart Health)“, which talks about some of the fitness challenges you face over 50. 

It’s weird. Everything is fine, then you hit 50, and the world does a 180. It’s that vitality thing – the glass is half full or half empty. What is interesting about that analogy isn’t whether it’s half full or half empty. The interesting point is you are at the halfway point, and every step will either take you above half-full or below half-empty.

So, let’s make your steps take over the half-full mark.

You know life is so interesting. When you were younger, it was about figuring out what your body could do. Pushing yourself to your outer limits, challenging your previous goals, go-go-go. You may pick up that same frame of reference when you start getting fit. 

In Chinese Medicine, that is the exact right attitude in the Spring of your life. Spring, our teenage years and early twenties, is about reaching out, pushing for greater heights. 

Summer, on the other hand, is about enjoying your vitality and finishing your best growth. 

The Fall of your life is different. Here, the focus becomes more inward. This is the time for you to get to know yourself. Fall is filled with more patience, more soul searching, more acceptance. 

The flavor becomes different. You are no longer demanding your body push for peak performance as you did in Spring. Nor are you relaxing into all your strengths as you did in Summer. In the Fall, you are taking all your learnings and integrating everything. You and your body are learning to work together in a way you never had to in the past. 

In Classical Chinese Medicine, you come into this life with a curriculum. A curriculum is something you want to learn, improve on, release…something you want to do with this life. To complete the curriculum, the seasons are guideposts to what you need to learn at different stages. Most of Chinese Medicine is a guidepost on how you can best live your life.

And here is where I start to wonder about life and people and me. The energetics of Fall is so different from previous seasons. This is a season of integrating your mind and body. What happens if you fail to change your focus? Do you die? Not always. But failing to change course for the Fall season usually does harm your health.

O.k., so what’s the point. In Chinese Medicine, approaching the Fall of your life in the same manner as you did the Spring of your life means you will miss a meaningful part of being alive. You will miss one of your life lessons. 

When you approach Fall, like say, Spring, you are basically failing to adjust to your new reality which could mean you accidentally do more than your body can handle. And here’s the thing, you’re busy. You’ve been crushing it, working out, managing your eating, changing your life. All that energy one short year ago was distributed over so many noisy activities: parties, restaurants, work, movies, theatre, travel. Now, that energy is focused on you. With nothing else to do, the level of intensity you can focus on yourself is surprising. 

Couple that self-focus with the pressure of the world today, and you can push yourself past your limits without notice. That is why I like my episode on “Consciously Helping Your Heart Stay Healthy (Ep. 2 of Heart Health).” It talks about one of the most significant ways you may harm yourself by pushing too far. This type of effort can overtax the heart leading to some type of cardiovascular event. The episode goes into depth on what to think about when you’re working out. 

Cardiovascular events are more common over 50 and much more common when you push yourself too hard. It doesn’t just have to be working out. It can be working too hard or anything else that moves you too hard.

So, here you are in Fall, and I want you to complete this season successfully. So, I’m going to give you a cheat sheet. It’s my cheatsheet too. I am just as prone to slipping up in the Fall season as some of my clients. So, here it is:

  1. First, start to acknowledge your strengths. Strengths change as you age because you learn more about life. A couple strengths can be:
    1. You actually have a lot of patience. So much more than you did even a decade ago. 
    2. You have more flexibility today and can find resources to help you.
  2. Begin to use your strengths on yourself.
    1.  Allow yourself to be patient with yourself. The minute you feel yourself “pushing for more” (this comes in so many flavors), let go. So, if you’re saying each workout has to be THIS MUCH BETTER, you’re pushing yourself. You want to get better but think about non-linear goals. In my episode, “Lose the Impossible Weight in 5 Minutes a Day – Breaking up Phlegm,”, I start talking about goals that are not linear.
    2. You are finally at a point where you can focus on yourself in a way you never could earlier in life. You have the flexibility and the knowledge to find resources that can help you attain your goals. Take some time to figure out what you want to work on over the next six months to a year and find a professional who can safely help you attain your goals.
  3. Use technology
    1. In my “Gadgets to Help You Stay Healthy” playlist, you’ll find gadgets I use that can help you reach your targets, whether it’s weight loss, eating better, learning to relax, getting in better shape. 
  4. Realize you are important and act on it.
    1. I thought I was doing this, but I wasn’t. This is where you do things for yourself. And you know what? I’ve always found that I value something more if it was a bit of a stretch for me to get it. So here are two significant changes I made in my life around this item. First, I started investing in technology gadgets that could help me obtain or maintain my health because they could reduce time spent and improve health. Second, I started investing in other professionals who could help me get to my goals. You don’t have to be a one-person show, and when you start valuing yourself enough to invest in yourself, you’ll find your path there is much smoother and quicker.

O.k., so there it is, a simple four-step cheat sheet to help you identify when you are pushing yourself too hard and how to fix it by changing your mindset so you are in stride with the Fall season. Hopefully, this will help you stay healthier, happier, and active!

My Second COVID 19 Vaccine – the Health Improvements I Experienced

If you’ve watched my Youtube episode on my first Moderna shot, I mentioned that there were some weird positive things that happened with the first shot. But, I wanted to wait until after the second shot to verify it wasn’t a figment of my imagination.

Well, it’s been over a month since my second vaccine shot, and by now, you’ve probably heard about the positive side effects of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine. Well, for my clients who have been able to obtain one of these shots and me, it seems to be true.

Getting the vaccine is a personal decision. Yet, if you got sick over the last year and a half, you may want to assess if getting one of the mRNA vaccines might be an option for you. Most importantly, the Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA technologies. The Johnson and Johnson and the AstraZeneca vaccine are different technologies and use an adenovirus to transport the vaccine into the body. The positive effects I experienced with the mRNA vaccines may not be experienced with the adenovirus vaccines. In fact, there is no guarantee you’ll get any positive effects with any of the vaccines. But, here is my anecdotal story of how the Moderna mRNA vaccine impacted my life.

If you want to understand why I chose the mRNA over any of the other technologies, check out my Youtube “Genetically Engineering Vaccines to Fight COVID-19

So, I’m going to go over three things. First, did I have COVID last year, and did you have COVID? There wasn’t any testing available. Well, the second part talks about long-haulers. If you think you had COVID, long-haulers syndrome is a very real complication of COVID. Lastly, the impact of the vaccine on me. I’ve got each section labeled so you can pick any section.

DID I HAVE COVID LAST YEAR?

O.k., why do I say, “If you got sick over the last year and a half, you may want to consider getting the vaccine.” Well, because the flu hasn’t been around. The flu season from Oct 2020 to Jan 2021 has had 132 hospitalizations and 292 deaths. The 2019 flu season had 35 million people getting influenza. There were 404,646 hospitalizations and 21,909 deaths. So, if you ever wanted to know what you could do to reduce your chances of the flu, wash your hands and wear a mask.

So, if the flu hasn’t been around and you got sick, you got to wonder what it was? That was the question I was asking myself when my husband and I got so deathly sick beginning of last year – before the pandemic was called.

At that time, there wasn’t any testing available. And by the time the COVID antibody test became available, it was five months after I was sick. With the lack of available science, I resorted to logic to determine if I had COVID-19.

I know my immune system. I don’t get the flu unless there has been a mutation in the flu virus – not a drift. A drift is a minor change in the virus. A mutation is a significant change making it a different virus. This was the H1N1, and I already went through that party and wasn’t expecting to be sick. So, I can’t tell you the surprise I experienced when I did get sick. It made no sense, and I had a hard time believing it was just H1N1.

But that wasn’t enough. I needed more information. I watched that mutated strain of the U.K. COVID-19 virus. It took that virus three weeks to transmit to 22 U.S. states even though the U.S. had travel restrictions.

Well, the first documented case of COVID-19 was something like December 1, 2019. The first ban on travel from China came eight weeks later, on the last day of January 2020. So, it had a much easier time transmitting.

And, in the middle of December 2019 the second wave of the flu started hitting the U.S. It was a very virulent, highly contagious H1N1 strain that hung on for weeks or months and had people flat on their backs. Now, COVID-19 likes other coronaviruses and the flu is a coronavirus.

And I’ve always wondered about the death rates. Well, this is just a hypothesis that myself and some of my Western medical friends have been kicking around. It could be that COVID-19 is dose dependant. The larger the dose, the more virulent the virus. And population matters when it comes to dose. China commonly has large cities of over 11 million. Bejing has 20 million people. New York is our largest city with a population of 8 million. In these cities, the virus can quickly shoot out of control. In our more spacious regions, the virus can get out of control, it seems to take more effort.

O.k., based on all that, it may be reasonable to assume if you got sick last year, it was COVID.

LONG-HAULERS

Wow, all the stories on long-haulers, right? Creepy, yet distant from you. Long haulers have debilitating, lasting effects of COVID that seem to be progressive and can end in death. It’s like it turns on an aging switch consuming your resources until you pass away. If your normal life expectancy is 80 years, COVID will help shave off 10 to 20 years.

The focus on long-haulers has been on those who have debilitating symptoms, and it started with those who had post COVID heart issues and died months later from some significant heart event. But, what if long-haulers is for everyone? My clients, including myself, have mentioned that they never got back to their pre-illness health.

My husband and I were on Chinese formulas for eight months. Our immune system was weak. Something out of thin air would attack us. It always felt like allergies where the sinuses would plug up, the head would feel heavy, and we felt tired. Overall, we would get tired easier. Our digestive issues became much worse. The body aches increased and begin to seem unmanageable.

My clients, my friends, and my colleagues, all were saying the same thing. No one had returned to their peak, pre-illness, health, and everyone was feeling just a little off or a little tired or a little something. And it had a progressive nature to it. Given more time, it would get worse.

I got the COVID testing. I got the antibody test, and everything came back negative. Yet, something didn’t seem right…

This was when I started to hypothesize that many people received some form of long-haulers.

THE VACCINE

So, with that background, my husband and I rumbled on down to the nearest vaccine administration site that would let us get the vaccine and got our shots.

The day I was headed down to get my first vaccine my body aches were going into overdrive. I could feel knots in my back forming. Getting the shot was easy, and I just remember the indifference of the person administering my shot. It wasn’t like she was for or against the shot. I knew she got the shot. But she had an interesting detachment to whether or not I got the shot.

In a universe that currently has an opinion on everything, I found her response interesting and unexpected.

Well, a half-hour later, I was all shot up and on my way home. I had been noticing since about 15 minutes after the administration of that shot my body aches were reducing. In the car, I turned and looked at my husband and said, “You know, all those body aches and knots I had coming down here…they are reducing.” I could actually palpate the knots and felt they had reduced by about half. My husband’s comment was, “Makes you wonder what you had.”

Sure does…

Over the next week, my body aches subsided and disappeared. That was weird because I had the aging and personal sports abuse body aches. My feet were a problem due to decades of riding Dressage and Jumping. I hadn’t been able to run for years. But, I could now.

My stomach problems reduced significantly and I took that opportunity to wander over to my favorite fast food joint…that I hadn’t visited in three years because of my stomach pains…and get a burger and fries. I could eat more crap again. I started sleeping again and wasn’t so wiped out and fatigued.

Of course, I wasn’t going to skip the second shot. The first shot was such a surprising shot of vitality both my husband and I raced to our second shot. The second shot reaffirmed the first shot. It wasn’t near as amazing because I wasn’t near as messed up.

O.k., in Chinese Medicine, if you have a physical change, you have to have an emotional or mental change, and I did. It wasn’t even a subtle change. It was just a change. I saw things differently. The world became less black and white and more shades of grey.

Remember the health care worker who administered my first shot? I was interested in her expression. I was interested in her indifference to whether I got the shot or not. I think that is part of the shades of grey because I feel her indifference. This shot really worked for me, but I don’t really have a buy-in to whether you get the shot or not. I think that indifference is why it’s taken me so long to even talk about my second experience with the mRNA vaccines. I wouldn’t have talked about it at all except in my episode, “My First Covid Shot,” I promised to talk about it.

So, there it is – my second COVID vaccine. What a wild ride! Good-luck to you and your decisions.

“I’m Not Done,” Tucker 21

I have this handsome orange kitty named Tucker. He’s 21 years old. You know, in Chinese Medicine, they talk about the Fall of your life where you get to reap the rewards of the life you lived. I was watching Tucker the other day, sleeping in the window. He was passed out and very content. This was his life, and he was finally letting himself enjoy the Fall of his life.

I bring this up because it hasn’t been easy getting to 21. Tucker has cashed in on his nine lives. It started when he was 18 years old, and he started losing weight. Then he refused to eat, became constipated, and I just thought everything was done. As humans, we hear this from our doctor’s enough, “Oh, you’re getting older. These things happen.”

I have clients who refuse to go to their doctor because their doctor will tell them. “Oh, you know, you get knee pain when you’re older. Don’t be so active.” “You’re getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Yes, that is what happens when you get older.”

You know, in Chinese Medicine, these are not normal signs of aging. Because I’m talking about Tucker, if you want to get more input on how Chinese Medicine sees aging, check out my blog:

Anyways, that was what I was telling Tucker. Then my husband told me I had to do something because Tucker’s constipation was so bad. O.k., it’s always a little tricky figuring out what to do with animals because they don’t talk to you. They just look uncomfortable.

I looked at everything and thought about IBS and constipation and was able to pull something out of Chinese Medicine. The neat thing about animals is they respond so much faster than we do. It’s like they have these bodies that lack all the toxicity we are carrying around.

Sure enough, within one day, he responded and was feeling better. This meant that since I was treating him for IBS, he was sensitive to his food. I spent the next month testing out different foods to see which ones he could eat. Over the last couple of years, every once in a while, something would happen, and Tucker would look like he would pass, and my husband would ask me to do something, and I would.

The thing is, you can’t believe how stressful that is. I mean, I really feel obligated to fix Tucker. So, you know, I try something, and I obsess over it and micro-manage his responses and change things up based on what happened. It’s exhausting.

Well, last month his partner of 19 years, Monkey, finally called it quits. Monkey, another boy cat, was done. We wrapped him in a blanket and took him to the vet. Tucker followed us to the door as we left with his companion.

Monkey just laid with me. We stayed with Monkey, holding him and talking to him until he was long gone. Then we came home without Monkey. Tucker was at the door looking for Monkey. I think Tucker thought we would always be able to save them. But, you know that just isn’t real, and Tucker fell into a depression.

My husband and I were giving Tucker extra attention, and it was o.k., but losing Monkey seemed to have changed his desire to live. He slowed down on his eating. And then one day he didn’t eat. He was losing weight and looking haggard. My husband and I talked through this. I didn’t believe I could do anything this time because I couldn’t fix a broken heart.

The second day of not eating came and went. Memories of my mother stopping her eating came to mind. She decided she was done with life, and she stopped eating. I think I learned that, in the end, all the medicine in the world could help, but there is going to come a time when it will only be up to you to decide if you are going to live.

Tucker had made his decision, and my husband and I decided we could honor his wishes and take him to the vet. So, we bundled up the exhausted, emaciated companion of 21 years and headed to the car. I sat down in the car the closed the car door, swaddling Tucker in a soft blanket.

All of a sudden, Tucker woke up. This poor little cat who had been listless and lacking any interest in food woke up, started meowing and fighting to get out of the blanket. Clearly saying, “No.”

Back into the house, we went. I put him down, and he immediately demanded food and started eating. Afterward, he wandered back into the bedroom, jumped on the bed, found his favorite spot, laid down, and fell asleep, completely content.

Tucker decided he wasn’t done. Sure, he was 21, but he wasn’t throwing in the towel. The Fall of life can be the most rewarding and relaxing as you watch everything you’ve done in your life bloom. And that is where I found him that day passed out in front of the window basking in the sunlight, finally letting himself enjoy the life he has and has lived.

Overcoming Self-Interest by Choosing to Acquire Acceptance

I was meditating this morning. I had received a text from my Pastor a few weeks ago asking if I had found my “word” for 2021. His text came through at just the right time.

You know there are times in this world where I just feel disconnected from everyone. Maybe it’s the pandemic because I genuinely am disconnected from everyone. Maybe it’s the stress of wondering what will happen, will another person I know get sick or pass, and all the other stressors going on today.

All of it pulls me away from myself, the world, and my inner calm.

That text came at just the right time. I hadn’t realized how far away from myself I had gotten until I read that text and felt relief and gratitude that someone was thinking about me. And it’s not that people, family, friends are not thinking about me. It was that someone took time to reach out from their place of strength and share that with me.

That simple action pulled me back into me and helped me refocus on essential things, and that was finding my word for 2021.

I found it. It’s not going to be what you think it is. My word for 2021 is “self-interest”.

And you might be thinking, “Heard it, been there, done that, on to new territories.” Well, I’m not looking at this as, “What can I do for myself.” That’s our first lesson in counseling, right? Boundaries. And boundaries are a tricky slope. Boundaries are necessary, but they can also be unjust. So, for me, self-interest is not trying to validate my inner value.

No, when I found this word, “self-interest,” it came from within me. As I sat quietly trying to see the world around me, my thoughts got in the way. I was having a lot of thoughts bringing up a level of anger and feelings of unjust. It’s a crazy confusing time with specific unlying themes that have people frustrated.

The problem is, I can’t find a different answer if the only world I see is the world I’ve created in my head. And it’s not that the world I’ve created lacks reality. It is real. But, it is real in a time and place.

Let’s say it is the middle of the night in Lubbock, Texas, and I don’t like the night. So, I’m angry it is dark out. All the frustration in the world is not going to change from night to day. Only time will make that change. In time, the world turns until, at last, you are in front of the sun again.

That is time and place. Time and place are important in Daoism. It’s fundamental to why some monks can be at peace at a time of turmoil.

We live such short lifetimes. In a world that has existed over billions of years, my meager existence of 80 or so years isn’t even a statistical notation. How I think is linear because I can only see a very small piece of the whole. From deductive reasoning to fixing a car, thought follows a linear track. If it doesn’t, I become confused. I can’t focus on repairing the alternator and replacing the head gasket at the same time. I have to do them one at a time.

Within linear time, one thing follows another and produces a result. And that result is the culmination of the cycle of one lifetime. Being that humans are so focused on time, every action leads to an end result – kind of like an ultimatum. There is only one outcome.

Yet, within Daoist thought, time and thought is a circle. It is neverending and is represented by the taiji symbol. Within the taiji symbol, one thing follows another, with each cycle influencing the next cycle’s trajectory. There is not one outcome because there is not an end. My role in this life will change the trajectory of the subsequent cycle.

To learn more about Daoism, check out more of my blog under the Daoism category. To learn more about yin and yang theory, check out my Youtube channel and episodes on the “Power of Yin and Yang.”

Yet, how does the Buddhist monk find that place of perfect balance and acceptance. It is not in meditating to perfect peace. Well, it is, but it isn’t. Taking the time to quiet yourself and find a stillness in your soul allows the world to open up.

That is why “self-interest” is my word for 2021. What stops me from allowing the world to open up to me is my self-interest. My focus on my work, my family, my future…all my focus on those things that have a personal advantage to this life. If I can just step around that for a minute, I can start to see the cycles of life, of the world, and recognize the concept of place and time.

I can start to understand that railing against the night at midnight has no purpose because it is time to be dark and quiet and rest. Yet, darkness will not last forever. A cycle always moves through every phase, and the previous phase influences the next phase.

So, I can start to understand that the daylight is coming and can prepare for the daylight. And just understanding your place in time helps free up the pressure of this one life, this one cycle of time. Everything isn’t accomplished right now. In fact, only a piece of your accomplishments will influence the next cycle. In my book, “Caregivers Survival Guide, how to eliminate stress in 30 minutes and other useful tools” I talk more in-depth about how one cycle sets the foundation for the subsequent cycle.

Yet, if I can just lay down the self-interests for a minute and see the world, I can find acceptance of the world with all its warts and blemishes, knowing that my actions will either help the next cycle or hinder the next cycle.

How to Accept People Where They Are

Well, this whole blog didn’t start out here. It started out with the Dolores Claiborne movie and Vera Donovan saying, “…sometimes, you have to be a high-riding bitch to survive. Sometimes, being a bitch is all a woman has to hang onto…” Environment, right? How our environment shapes and molds us.

I ride dressage, and many dressage riders will purchase a large, nice moving horse even though they can’t ride or manage the horse. They buy these great big horses that are called warmbloods. They are athletic. I’ve seen more than one professional rodeo cowboy walk away from breaking a warmblood. As a rider of these beasts, you gain a level of caution to ensure you survive.

Back in the 90’s, I was riding at a dressage barn in Southern California. One of the trainers was riding a big Belgian cross who was just gorgeous and quite nice under saddle. He had that big, poofy, white mane and tail and was a bit darker than a Belgian. Almost a brown. Well, of course, everyone was enamored with him and wanted to pet and ooh and ahh over him.

Even I wanted to do that. So, I walked up to his stall. He saw me coming to his stall, he bared his teeth, charged the door, and slammed his chest up against the door. Ugh, that was intimidating. So, of course, I didn’t pet him.

He wouldn’t stop. As long as I was in front of his stall, he had his head high, teeth bared, swinging back and forth. I was intimidated and confused. He seemed like such a charming little pistol under saddle who loved people.

The trainer came up to the stall door and started petting him. He immediately stopped. And then she told me what the deal was. This guy was raised by humans and learned human signs instead of horse signs. He learned to smile from humans which is positively threatening on a horse. And humans like running up to things they love and hugging them. Well, at 1300 lbs, charging up to hug me was just as threatening as baring your teeth.

And to find out he was actually trying to get you to come up and pet him by mimicking humans was disturbing. Over the years, as this expression backfired on him, he tried harder.

Environment.

I just found a little kitten. She is so tiny, I thought she was maybe 2 months old. She is hilarious. When she plays she is all in. 100% she is going to complete her task from taking down an imaginary bird to standing her ground. It’s amazing. She’ll jump two feet up in the air to catch something, grab it and hold on tight never thinking of trying to right herself before hitting the ground. She hits the ground with a thump on her side and proceeds to try and rip apart whatever it was she caught. She makes a running dash towards my big Spicy cat who is easily 20 lbs and quite fast with the claws, grabs ahold of his neck, swings around, hits the other side, lets go, and takes off.

She’s fast and she likes the all-out attacks. If she gets one of the cats to engage with her, she immediately spins around and faces them, ears pasted back against her head so flat you can’t see them anymore, back arched and front paws ready for action just taunting them to try and take all two pounds of her. They usually back off.

I explain this because she doesn’t play like the house kitties I’ve raised. There is nothing gentle about her playtime. Although, she is really good about not using her claws with me, and I’m really good about not over-stimulating her because I don’t want her to use her claws. But there is just this fierceness to her that I’ve never seen in a house kitty.

And here was the other thing. She is a well-balanced cat. Emotionally, she is bold, but new things frighten her. If you just stand by her, she figures it out. She isn’t needy. She doesn’t have a grudge to pick or a hierarchy to follow. She is indifferent to other cats and just wants someone to play with. She gets a little jealous at times, but not bad. And, as long as I stay even-tempered with clear boundaries, she is o.k. I’ve commented to my husband since the day she showed up in our backyard what a well-balanced smart kitty she is.

Well, and then she went into heat, and I realized that she was not two months old. She was probably four months old, and she was so small because she had been a wild kitty. I also realized she was such a well-balanced cat because she had grown up as a kitty without human interference. And her fierceness was learning to hunt for food to survive. She had that ruthlessness that you see in the eye of a tiger, but never in your everyday house cat.

Environment.

The thing is, these examples are about meeting someone where they are at. Not where you would like them to be. Because the other thing about the environment, you are not going to change it.

That brings me back to Vera Donovan, who wasn’t really the start of the blog, but her statement came to mind when I was thinking about somebody in my life who was doing similar things. This person, their life is pretty good. They have everything they could ever want except their health. Like Vera, they have slowly barred the world from entry.

“…sometimes, you have to be a high-riding bitch to survive. Sometimes, being a bitch is all a woman has to hang onto…”

We do things all the time based on our environment and these things do the exact opposite of what we want. Vera being a bitch. Sammy, the Belgian cross, baring his teeth and charging the door. And then there is George, my girl kitty, who actually grew-up very well balanced and does exactly what she means to do. George grew up in an environment of other caring cats who watched over her and introduced her to the world.

About a week after I let George into my home, I finally saw the mother cat. I knew she had been around. I was waiting to catch her. I came home one day and there was George sitting under the front tree trying to catch birds who were coming to the bird feeders to eat.

She looked exactly like George. Same eyes. Same expression. I couldn’t quite figure out how George had gotten out of the house as she stared at me, unafraid, with that curious look George always has. I told her to wait right there while I put my stuff away, and I’ll bring her in.

She waited until I had gone inside. Then she got up and walked across the street and away. George was inside, and I realized it was the mother cat I had been trying to catch. I ran across the street and asked the neighbors about her. No one knew her.

I spent the next week trying to trap her, but she never came back. I caught the neighbor’s fat cat. Twice. But, I’ve never seen her again. It was almost as if she just wanted to be sure about me, but she didn’t want to be a pet.

Environment.

Funny how accepting who each of them are doesn’t change the desire for a different outcome.