When I welcomed Oliver into my life a little over a year ago (remember this?), I knew he would change my life. I knew he would bring me so much joy, make me laugh, annoy me to pieces, and melt my heart. I didn’t know, however, that he would end up being somewhat of a teacher. Cats are divine little creatures, and sometimes I think they know a lot more than they let on.
It’s not my cat has taught me things I’ve never known before. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Just by being him, he reminds me to live out the life I already know I want to be living. To continue to put into practice that which sometimes slips my mind. In the time I’ve known him, my cat has never stopped sending reminders to…
Enjoy simple pleasures. Life is about the little things. Well, that’s how I’ve always felt — and it seems that cats feel just the same. This little dude can spend hours basking in the sun, staring out the window, and rolling around in catnip. Each time I see him doing one of these things, I’m reminded to be present. To stop what I’m doing, silence my mind, let out a deep breath, and focus all my energy on just what I’m experiencing in that very moment.
Be good to your body. The practice of eating for energy is something I’ve always found kind of difficult — choosing food that will make me feel light instead of weighing me down, eating enough to energize me but stopping before I feel sluggish. If you put a plate filled with food in front of me, I’d probably make it my unintentional mission to eat the whole thing. Not Oliver. He eats a few bites, goes to play, comes back for a few more, and repeats. Food is his fuel, and his body is his temple. Every time he gets up from a nap, he stretches. Over and over again do I see this boy stretching out his limbs — just as he should. Just as we should. Never forget to stretch. He’s always sure to clean himself, too, and does so with such care. He’s not rushing to bathe so he can get on with his life. He realizes that bathing is a part of his life, and takes joy in doing it.
Be playful. Whether leaping in the air again and again in an attempt to catch a shadow, chasing his tail, or playing with that crinkly piece of paper that somehow made its way to the floor, my cat never goes a day without playing… and we shouldn’t either. Work is important, but play is, too. Doing something solely for the purpose of having fun — that’s part of what keeps us youthful. Part of what keeps us healthy. Part of what keeps us alive.
Show affection. One of my favorite things about my little buddy: his cuddly little self. There’s no greater feeling than love between two beings — human or not. I often feel overwhelmed with love for my little Oliver, and it reminds me to open myself to love in other aspects of my life, as well. When you love someone, always be sure to show it. Let your guard down. Surrender yourself. Love, be loved.
Be curious yet cautious. The curiosity of a cat is kind of like that of a young child. They’re full of wonder and just want to discover — something that I never want to lose. But the difference between a cat and a child in this aspect… is that the cat always goes about his curiosity with caution. Oftentimes I just do… without thinking or planning. Many times it ends in a mistake — which I’ll always learn from — but sometimes that mistake sets me back. I think I could really stand to be a bit more cautious, and I’m thankful that this little one reminds me to do so every day.
Stand your ground. Sometimes I might want to hold my little cat, but he wants nothing more to be alone at that moment. He’s not afraid to show it. First a wiggle, then an amplified meow, and then maybe the claws come out. How can I blame him? He’s asserting himself. If you feel strongly about something, let it be known. Don’t let yourself be pushed around. You’re your own self, and no one can take that from you. Never let anyone take that from you.
Let yourself rest. Cats may do this more than the average human can handle, but it just offers more of a reminder to let ourselves rest. Our lives are fast-paced and filled with doing, but sometimes what we should be doing… is nothing. Pay attention to your body, as well as your spirit, and give yourself exactly what you feel you need. When we’re burnt out and don’t allow ourselves to rest… that’s often when sickness comes. By giving ourselves the rest we need, we’re creating an atmosphere for ourselves to thrive, inside and out.
Have you found yourself living with an unexpected teacher? Tell us about it!
See more of Oliver’s shenanigans here. :)
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