Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Take Your Pick

We’ve never had a shortage of cats.  Our place isn’t quite the Caboodle Ranch, but we’ve fed our share of felines through the years…

Thanks to Emmy, who shows up on our steps one fine day.  Tell me this:  who can resist such a darling wee one, fuzzy and gray with green eyes wide as saucers staring back at you? 

Her first litter of kittens is born in my daughter Abi’s lap while she’s watching cartoons on a Saturday morning.  Others make their debut in the upstairs bathtub in the dead of winter. 

When people ask why we don’t get her “fixed,” I tell them Emmy is Catholic – as are all our cats.  And they don’t say another word.   She was born to be fruitful and multiply.         

We’ve always been lucky enough to find good homes for each and every litter (except for the ones we’ve kept).   Don’t ask how many we’ve kept.  I’ve lost count. 

Trick or Treat!

On a Halloween night my daughter and I go out to a carnival.  We dress up as dancers; Hannah is a princess ballerina and I’m a sassy flapper. 

Dad stays home to mind the treat-or-treaters and hand out candy.  He sits on the dark front porch by the glowing jack-o-lantern, kittens purring at his feet.  Then a bright idea strikes him. 

He remembers a birthday party from whence his daughter came home, bearing a strange kitten.  Her friend Erin had distributed these little critters for party favors.   Hey, not a bad idea after all…

Tonight he will delight a few trick-or-treaters with a prize kitten and a bag of Tender Vittles dropped in their pumpkin totes: a little something to get them started. 

When we come home from the carnival and ask where the kittens might be, he looks just like the proverbial cat that swallowed the canary. 

Now it’s your turn to share a Halloween memory of your own.   What did you wear?   Who were you with?   Where did you go?   I look forward to seeing you in costume.  

Saturday, October 15, 2011


They’ve always known they were different.  Rare birds.

They want to make the world a better place and the people in it happier.

Polite folks just say they “march to the beat of a different drummer.”  Others call them “peculiar” because, for whatever reason, they aren’t apt to play the reindeer games. 

What do they have in common?  They are all creative and love, most of all, coloring outside the lines.  And while everyone else’s reindeer looks “normal,” theirs has to have a glowing red nose. 

Do you know about this famous doctor named Patch Adams from West Virginia?  

He wears a shiny red nose to make sick children snicker.  Because laughter is sometimes the best medicine of all.  Patch doesn’t just treat disease like most doctors.  He treats people.  

What else do these rare birds have in common besides coloring outside the lines?  They twirl with abandon and jump in puddles just for fun.  And sing high-pitched songs to backyard cats regardless of what the neighbors think. 

Sometimes they create things that make the world say, “You’re just weird.”  But Picasso and Stravinsky didn’t care; they liked their art, regardless. 

Emily Dickinson secreted over 1700 poems in trunks and pouches, and wore only white dresses after her father died.  The “Belle of Amherst” was one of a kind.  No carbon copies to be found.    

Besides creativity, another common trait in eccentrics is collecting (and sometimes hoarding). The strangest case I know is the man who was evicted from his house for adopting too many strays.  And so he bought land and built a village for his homeless cats, Caboodle Ranch

Then there are those who wear whatever strikes their fancy.  They’ve invented a style of their own, and have no desire to “fit in” fashion wise.   

You might be an eccentric if you have any of these traits:

A creative nature…

Childlike spontaneity…

A spiritual penchant…

Idealism (a desire to make the world a better place and the people in it happier)…

An obsession with one or more hobbies…

A propensity to think outside the box…

If you are “one of them,” please elaborate in the comments.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Season of Reflection

“Listen” said the White Spirit.  “Once you were a child.  Once you knew what inquiry was for.  There was a time when you asked questions because you wanted answers, and were glad when you found them.  Become that child again; even now.”

~ C.S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)

 “No one has ever, or will ever, come into this world with the exact same mission as yours.   The light you are meant to shine into the world is yours alone, as individual as your fingerprint, as personal as your voiceprint.” 

~ Sara Yoheved Rigler

We don't ask "What is the meaning of life?" but "What is the meaning of my life?"

 ~   Gregg Levoy (Callings)

Last week, in contemplating the meaning of Rosh Hashanah, I made a few discoveries.  Far more than just a New Year - with resolutions (not often kept) - it’s a time of deeper reflection and evaluation…and a time to identify our life’s mission. 

Rabbi Nivin suggests that we ask ourselves (and write down): What were the five or ten most pleasurable moments of my life?   Be more specific than “Seeing Niagara Falls.”  No universal, transcendent moments such as enjoying nature or music.  Think callings.    

Some time ago at a spiritual retreat, speaker Keith Miller asked us the question, “What do you want to do for the rest of your life?”   We were then told to spend the afternoon writing down all the things we loved doing enough to make them our life’s purpose. 

Of course I naturally named “writing” - among other things.  But it’s amazing how all of my dreams – unspoken until that retreat – have been achieved.  From that pivotal moment, I can vouch for the need to list our desires of the heart, to name them one by one…  

Because, most likely, they were God-given from the get-go.  
They just need to be awakened in order to bear fruit. 

Alexander Seinfeld asks 20 questions designed to move us forward toward our life’s purpose.   He suggests that we spend 5 meditative minutes on each question.    

Meanwhile… I’ll ask you that seemingly simple question that Keith Miller asked at the retreat:

“What do you want to do for the rest of your life?”

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