The Second Time Around

November 7, 2011

Just to recap, in my last blog article, I noted that I had to give a cat rescue back as she had a biting problem. This scenario occurred at just about the six month marker of my darling Hercules’ passing. I totally believe in synchronicity and when I got the itch to get another cat as a fur pal for his sister Judas, I went with the feeling. Ok, so the first try didn’t work out for her, but it did work out for the foster lady and for my coaching her. All wasn’t for naught. It just wasn’t the right situation for Judas.

My initial reaction after this mean cat was out of the house was, whew, I’m so glad it was gone. However, the itch to get another cat as a companion for Judas didn’t stop. Perhaps it was Hercules in spirit letting me know it was time since I really felt him guiding me to another cat that coincidentally looked a lot like him. Initially, I didn’t like the idea of getting another cat that reminded me of my precious angel, but I went with what I sensed would be best for Judas.

How did I pick this new rescue cat? I did a thorough search of the available rescues within 50 miles for about 2 weeks, looking at what must have been hundreds of photos and even talking to some people about the best gender and type for a fur pal for my 17 year old female. I was advised to look for a male about 5-7 years old, since a younger cat might be too rambunctious for an older cat, and a female, as I had found out before would be too competitive. Whereas before I had looked at the outside beauty of the animal, this time, I looked at the face to determine how sweet and sensitive I felt the creature would be. After all, beauty is only skin deep. My prior experience with Athena taught me that although she was a gorgeous Tortoise shell, she had a really mean disposition. This time, I looked at the temperament first and that he should just be healthy.

Out of so many, one became a clear choice. His name was Spike and he is a brown tabby with a white blaze down his face. He just looked so cute and sweet. Somehow I knew he was the one. Next, I contacted his foster and began the process to meet him. The rest went well. His foster family had him with two other males for the last three years. This was both good and bad news. He had never lived with a female but he had shared a 10×8 cat house with two other male cats. Ok, so he knew how to share. I was willing to take a chance on him. He’s a sweetie, but all didn’t go well right away!

More on how he adjusted in the next article.


Blog: Why Act Like a Neanderthal?

August 22, 2011

Where does hostile behavior come from?

In ancient times, man (as in human beings which includes both men and women), had to defend him or herself from predators and so when he/she felt threatened would growl, show teeth, bite, hit or otherwise lash out. This aggressive behavior was a defensive mechanism meant to protect the individual from harm. Not having an aggressive personality would have put the individual in a very bad or weak position in this type of hostile environment. Thus aggressive behavior was a learned and appropriate trait for hostile environments. However, these learned traits have come down through the ages as part of our DNA. That said, even big black bears don’t attack unless provoked and can be calmed with a little honey. Wow! So something sweet can tame the savage beast? What a concept! And, it works on humans too. Try offering a treat rather than a stick and you might find more pleasant behavior waiting for you.

Are we all basically a more modern Neanderthal?

Sometimes I think so; but as a species, we have learned to moderate our behavior – that’s what being civilized is all about. Being a member of a society means we’re not feral anymore, not most of us anyway. Ever try to tame a feral dog or cat? I was told that after about 8 weeks, a kitten would be too far into being feral that they couldn’t be tamed. Well, I proved the status quo wrong. I adopted two kittens that were most probably at least 10 weeks old and with a great deal of patience, love and understanding, guided them into being household pets. (One just died after 17 years of being the most loving creature and taught me much about unconditional love. The other one, his sister is still with me. ) The same can be said of children. If we mistreat our children, even to the extent of not paying enough attention to them, overly criticizing them or in the extreme, actual abuse, it is entirely likely that they will grow up to be dysfunctional adults, totally over reacting at every potentially threatening situation.

How can we correct the unacceptable behavior?

If wild animals can be taught to behave, use the cat post for scratching rather than the curtains, and know which furniture is for them to use, then certainly with love and understanding we can teach our children to be productive members of society. This is certainly true for adults as well since children grow into adults. Thus I feel that the issue with out of control adults really starts in childhood. No, I’m not totally blaming parents for all the ills of adults – we all have to take responsibility for our own behavior at some point – but there are many situations where looking to childhood and the messages we received there have a huge impact on our current lives.

If this is you, what are your options?

First, look at your life now. Is it all it can be? Could your aggressive behavior be causing you issue? If so, take a look at what you can do to correct it. Anger management classes may be appropriate in some cases, more formal therapy may be required in others. If you’re the type of person that can be reflective, spend a weekend with a book that helps you to walk through your childhood, answer questions and meditate on the specific memories that are of real issue for you. What pushes your buttons? Often, this type of inner awareness work will reveal certain patterns that will help you to moderate your behavior into a more balanced stream and move from aggression to assertiveness. In the end, you will be a much happier person and no longer a Neanderthal.


Sleeping Into Oblivion

July 28, 2011

Ever feel like sleeping all day? Sometimes it’s just a matter of being tired and needing more sleep. Other times we may really be sick and our bodies may actually need rest to rejuvenate. These are all possibilities. Another one is that you’re depressed.

When you don’t feel quite like yourself, (who else could you feel like?), you might well want to avoid contact with other people and prefer to stay by yourself. I see this behavior in my cat Judas when she’s upset about something. A cat, you say, well, yes. Cats are very sensitive creatures and my Judas is particularly so. When her brother Hercules crossed over in April, Judas’ behavior changed dramatically. Whereas before, she wandered around the house, sat on different chairs in different rooms or in the sun by the front door, she would hide in the closet or just sleep in her little bed. Mostly she started to just sleep. This has been the beginning of what I’d call her grieving stage for her brother Hercules. She’s depressed over his loss. I can really tell. For her, sleeping is a way of getting away from the world as she knows it and simply checking out. Sometimes she stands in the middle of the living room floor and just screams at the top of her lungs. I find this her way of asking, “So where is my buddy Hercules?” How many of us would like to do the same thing when stuff happens in our lives or when someone dear to us departs? It all seems so unfair. One reaction is to try to unhook from our daily activities.      

Honestly, there are lots of events besides the loss of a loved one that can cause situational depression. This is a term that captures the symptoms of depression a person exhibits due to circumstances occurring within their world or environment; a caveat to this is that the behavior is not normal for them otherwise. Thus, the situation causes them to feel depressed rather than actually being depressed.  I’m not a psychologist so I don’t diagnose, nor treat depression, but I can certainly tell when my friends that are normally pretty happy get upset about something in their lives; they may even need to take medication for awhile, but this doesn’t label them as depressed people.

Then there are people who have given up on life and are in assisted living. These people really are depressed AND they sleep all day. When I visit my hospice clients as a volunteer, they all take lots of naps. In addition, when they’re not sleeping, they have a tendency to be physically present, but appear to be mentally checked out. Thus even when they are awake, it’s not the kind of awake that you or I are used to. Sometimes I chat with them, but little gets through to their comprehension. And, in return, they will tell me something like it’s important but the words formed from their mouths are garbled versions of what their brain has conceptualized. It’s all quite sad.

So, when I look at all this sleeping going on, is it just a momentary depression or a real depression? For Judas, she got up a little while ago and came to visit me! So there’s hope for her. She seems to be coming out of her depression. I tell her that I miss Hercules too and we can help each other. Having friends provides companionship and a sense of community. Pets need people and people need other people. That’s why I visit depressed people in the hospice. It’s so that they aren’t alone for that period of time. Perhaps it will help them to not be so depressed.


The Importance of Helping Hands (Reaching the Top Of Machu Pichu)

July 15, 2011

Peru was an amazing trip for lots of reasons. First, I had wanted to go for years but was concerned about the altitude, the local conditions (how poor the country is with the resultant possibility of crime), and pre-conceptions about my physical limitations. The website played down the amount of walking and the fact that the one mile treks were up, up, up! Granted I had been doing walks around the lake near where I live, but 45-minute casual strolls don’t compare to climbing knee-high steps at Machu Pichu for an hour to reach the top summit in time for a sunrise ceremony! So in addition to strenuous hiking on the edge of a mountain, we were doing it before day-break in dim light. On June 20, the day before the June Solstice, I made it to the top fairly well. It was a spectacular sunrise.

Climbing Machu Pichu, Peru
Machu Pichu at sunrise

But once we had done some ceremony to welcome the sun, gone back down part way to use the bathroom facilities and then gone back up again, my legs were really starting to hurt. By the afternoon, my thighs were almost paralyzed with pain making each step more and more difficult. Then, to my pleasant surprise, I began to see hands in front of my face as my much younger fellow travelers began to turn around to lend a helping hand. With each step, as I struggled to move upward, I suddenly started to feel that I was aided by divine helpers, some present and some not visible. Spirits now uplifted, my steps were lightened as I felt that I not only had physical help but angelic help as well. A smile spread on my face. Positive self talk replaced the menacing thoughts of, “What if I can’t make it, how will I ever get back down alone?” Now my mind was filled with, “Yes, I can do this, with a little help from my friends.”


Are You Planning for Death or for Life?

June 6, 2010

Most of us live our lives day-by-day planning what will happen. We plan to get a job, work, earn a living in order to buy material things that supposedly bring happiness, only to find that in the end, we all die. It seems so futile. Should we live our lives only to plan our death? Or should we live our lives, knowing that we will eventually die and continue living?

I have a friend whose boss worked way into his 60’s thinking that he’d make more money figuring that he and his wife could enjoy a nicer retirement. This manager reached high levels in his government organization, was well-respected and was always exceptionally dressed. Unfortunately, after returning home from one work day he simply dropped dead. No one really knows what happened. He seemed fine, and then he was gone. But let’s take a closer look. He had lots of friends, but precious little time to enjoy them, or his wife for that matter. There are no guarantees on how much life we all get. The old adage that no one wants an epitaph, “He worked so hard at his job” or nearing death to say, “I wished I had spent more time at the office.”

This incident had a profound impact on my friend and convinced him to reconsider his own choice of when to retire. You see, he had been putting off his own retirement for similar reasons. His ego was wrapped up in what he did by day, and he felt it would be difficult to give up that status. Not only did he find it difficult to give up his position, he spent more time planning his death than he did planning his life. Wow! He had all the arrangements for his funeral figured out, written down and conveyed to close friends. The cemetery lot was purchased – alongside his parents with another space reserved for his sister (where would her husband and family be laid, I wondered?) He even had the music decided. It was so clear to me that his energy was focused on “death” and not “life”. Is it easier to just keep working than to slow down and get in touch with one’s inner self? Without the constant demands of a day job, often people don’t know how to define themselves and merely check-out of life.

But if they only appreciated that we need to understand the game plan better. It doesn’t matter if one is a project manager, a systems integrator, a secretary or a fireman. Each position comes with both status and trials. Every event and situation gives us a learning opportunity as we navigate through the twists and turns of this lifetime.

Work, work, workLife is more than work, and once we know our true mission, it gives us a sense of self and a peace as we move through life. The objective is to slow down and listen to self. Then and only then, can we learn our lessons – no matter what we are doing – whether working a traditional job or “retired”, to put forth the effort to “listen” to that still small voice inside guiding us daily. The signs are always there, it’s just a question of whether we are paying attention. Focusing on life means that we are paying attention and not just moving forward one step at a time until death.

For information on Joanne’s forthcoming inspirational memoir, The Circle of Life – A Journey Through Grief to Understanding – which chronicles the clairaudient messages from her father to console her widowed mother and captures her first year of bereavement to understand there was more to live for as the messages foretold – see www.josanpress.com.

JOANNE AARONSON, a former project management professional, is an ordained minister & intuitive life coach bridging corporate and spiritual worlds through her company, Life Transformations, LLC. She fosters use of one’s inner light, known as intuition to help person’s achieve their highest potential. In addition, Joanne publishes the monthly EmpowerChangeNow Newsletter to encourage creativity and intuitive development as well as writes the more spiritual Joanne’s StarTeacher blog. Contact Joanne at life_transformations@verizon.net or joanne@josanpress.com See: www.empowerchangenow.com


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