Friday, February 21, 2014

Just Exploring...


Just Exploring…

Today is a windy, cold snowy day, a Friday in Michigan.  I sit here thinking about many topics, not sure which one to write about but feeling the need to write something as a form of expression and release.  The message from Spirit today is about words, exploring and release.  Perhaps, with my words I should explore how to release negative emotions, fears and expectations while anticipating the possibilities of the future. 

This week has been a week of release.  Letting go of the past and the negative emotions that join it, letting go of fears about the future, letting go of expectations on how things should be.

On the anniversary of Max’s (my cat) passing I marvel at how fast a year transpired.  I miss Max but see his reflection in our little Pearl who looks and often acts like him.  Although Max is no longer physically present here with me I feel and sense his spirit.  Moving forward through the storm as the wind blows I intuit change.     

Life is moving.  If you are stagnant, life moves anyways.  If you fear the change, the wind blows harder.  Life will tell you when it’s time to move with the wind and not struggle against it.  Recently, I released an expectation of a dream that needed to be set free.   I had high hopes at the beginning, but the Universe wasn’t responding as I had deemed necessary.  There is a reason.  I don’t know what it is and I may never know, but I need to honor myself, listen, and act.    

Pushing through the emotions, past the fear and beyond the expectations I simply explore potentials, whether through words or deeds.  We need to explore just to explore not only ourselves but life. 

While watching the Olympic coverage I heard about the skier Sarah Burke who was an innovator in her field of skiing especially for women, pushing beyond fear and expectations, she explored potential.  Sarah was instrumental and insistent on the women’s half pipe being an Olympic event in 2014.  Sarah died in a skiing accident, but her dream was realized this year.        

As the winds of winter hopefully come to a close in the next few weeks and they release the cold and snow along with it the emotions, fears and expectations.  I dream of the budding spring and anticipate the joy of exploring.    

Love, “with a heart of peace,”

February 2014

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A One Cat Master

A One Cat Master

I have a cat.  His name is Max.  He is 20 years old.  He is my first born.  He is my best friend. 

Max came home to live with us after we had been married a year.  We already had one cat, a girl named Silver.  Now I love cats, really love cats, but Silver and I didn’t see eye to eye.  First of all she loved my husband and was jealous of me.  She would hiss, bat and generally ignore me.  But I love cats, so I loved her.  We decided to get another cat to help.  We figured the reason she was ornery was because she was lonely as my husband and I were working all night and most evenings.  So we headed out to the nearest pet store and found the cutest little boy kitten.  He was tiny, a brown short haired tabby and the sweetest little thing.  He was challenged.  He couldn’t retrieve his claws.  We chose him.  Well, truth told he was the only boy available and I wanted a boy cat this time.  So we brought him home, but we needed a name?  We went to dinner (I do not remember where) but I remember the conversation.  What should we name him?  I am sure there was a litany of choices, but somehow we decided on Maxwell P.  Smart, due to his shall we say, mental challenges.  We called him Max for short.

Now, we lived in a trailer, not a mobile home as that would be too generous.  It was a thirty year old trailer in a trailer park.  We had a couch from Value City.  My husband had gutted it out to attempt to make it a decent living environment.  Max and I would play on the couch and then all of a sudden he would be asleep. Funny thing is, now that he is 20 years old, the situation is similar. 

Over the years as we lead busy lives yet Max is always there.  He is a simple, happy boy.  He doesn’t have many needs.  He is shy. He loves to eat.  He loves the outside.

Max is shy.  He loves his Momma.  My Dad had a deep sometimes loud voice and Max would hide from him as a kitten.  Whenever people came to our house Max could never be found.  Guests didn’t believe we even had another cat.  Nick would greet them at the door.  Hang out in the same room.   Allow the children to chase him, but not Max.  He would hide.  In later years because of hearing loss he is visible to anyone in the house because he can’t hear them.  He evens jump on a few strange laps now and then, but for the most part he hangs out with his Momma.   Every night while reading in bed Max will join me for a good book.  He will crawl up on my chest and paw the back of the book.  He either wants to read with me or doesn’t like the attention I am giving this strange animal.

Max loves to eat.  At one time he was overweight and we were concerned about his health.  At dinner time we had a rule, “two paw limit” so Max wouldn’t jump on the time with all fours.  As he grew older he developed a challenge with his thyroid.  At 20, he is losing weight.  He still cries for food, especially since he is deaf and doesn’t know he is actually yelling.  We feed him canned food now so he can chew easier.  I end up throwing away as much as I put in the bowl.  I think he licks most of it but actually eats little.    

Max loves the outside. We would put Max on a leash to go outside.  I tried to get him to walk on the leash, but he had no interest in that. Sometimes we would forget he was on the leash outside and go to bed, and then suddenly remember Max is outside.  One of us would jump out of bed and run to rescue him.  As I said, he loved being outside.  Although now at 20 he only goes out for short bits of time, perhaps two or three minutes, but he still loves being outside.

Max is a “one master cat”.  Last weekend, we rented a movie called “Red Dog”, a true story.  It is based in Australia in the 70’s.  At first glance I wasn’t sure it was an appropriate movie for my daughters, age nine and seven, but as the movie continued it focused on the extraordinary life of this dog.  They called him a “one master dog”.  He loved his master, and after his master’s death the dog waited for him and then roamed the countryside to find him.  His loyalty reminded me of Max.  Max loves me unconditionally.  Max is always there for me.  Max likes to sit with me in my sunroom while I pray and meditate.  If I am in the kitchen, he is often by my side hoping for a treat.  While watching T.V. he sits with me trying to find a comfy spot even with his arthritic hips.  Later in the evening while reading, although he cannot jump on the bed, he first hops on the nightstand first, then to the bed to join me for a good book. Then, at bedtime I find him already on his kitty condo or I gently carry him down.  In the morning, he howls to be let out and I carry him up the stairs.  Max is my guardian earth angel.  Besides my mother and my husband no one has journeyed with me longer with such love and devotion.  As we both grow older I cherish the moments we have together never knowing when the last day will come and I will no longer hear him purring by my side.  I think I am a “one cat master”. 

*Max passed away on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 21 years of age after having a stroke no longer able to see. 

He is forever loved and forever missed.             

Love, “with a heart of peace”,

Susan J. McFarland

October 2012  

Revised: February 2014     

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Place Between All and Nothing

The Place Between All and Nothing

The adage says, “give it your all or nothing at all”.  I have lived my life with this philosophy, whether it is in sports, work or life.  Often, in “living” this way, I wasn’t living at all, I was in survival mode. Yet, as I reach a milestone half way between 0-100, I find myself looking for the place between the all and the nothing.  In this place, I can relax, I can breathe and I can be.    

Fifteen years ago, while working a high stressed corporate job I decided to walk a marathon.  Now walking or running a marathon is a beautiful experience not only for the usual health benefits, but also because of the major sense of accomplishment, especially for a non-runner.  This marathon was for a worthy cause, children’s cancer and I was training with friends.  It was a perfect scenario.  Except for the fact that not only was my career in full force, but so was my social life, leaving little room for rest after the extensive marathon training.  I was certainly in the “all” mode.         

As is often the case, when we are over taxed in life, life reacts to balance us out.  I was “giving it my all” and ignoring the nothing part which is just as vital and essential to healthy living.  My body, specifically my back reacted by shutting me down for almost a month, where I could not even walk.  Through rest, which I fought every step of the way, I recovered enough to walk the marathon.  Yet, days before the event my body again reacted by having appendicitis.   I missed the marathon, instead lying in a hospital bed.

My mind was determined, my body and my spirit had another plan.  They wanted balance.  They wanted the place between the all and the nothing.  I didn’t listen.  A month later I had a seizure.  Thankfully the neurosurgeon said my body was over-stressed and its reaction was to shut down.  Learning my lesson¸ at least for the moment, I learned that when giving your all make sure you leave room for the nothing.

Flash forward, five years, after the birth of my daughter (and another seizure the day after her birth) I traveled to Guatemala to visit orphans.  Still in the corporate stressful job, now with a baby daughter to care for and the need to visit Guatemala to pursue an adoption, again I was “giving it my all”.  “Nothing” was nowhere to be found.  After preparing my work and my home for the trip, a full day flying down south and then a night with no sleep I met our sponsor child.  Upon seeing her I was overwhelmed with emotions and seizure three happened.  Lesson learned, for good this time.  This began my journey in finding the “place” between the “all” and the “nothing”, not just one or the other. 

Almost a decade after the first seizure as I waited for my daughter to come home from Guatemala I quit my corporate job in order to pursue “the place between all and nothing”.  I no longer feel driven or obsessed with “having it all”, “doing it all” or even “being all” to everyone.  Today, my life is balanced between prayer and meditation, caring for my family and pursuing my love of writing and humanitarian causes, while spending as much time outside as possible in the beauty and tranquility of Mother Earth.  I have found the “place between all and nothing”.  

Join me here even though it is a quiet place, it is also a healthy place.  Your mind, body and spirit will thank you.

Love, “with a heart of peace”,

Susan J. McFarland
February, 2014