Meet Princess Tiger Lily

This beautiful Bengal Mix cat needs help. A very smart cat, she showed up on the doorstep of one of the biggest cat lovers I know on the cold rainy night last week and we decided we needed to help her any way we can.  Unfortunately neither one of us are in a position to add a third cat to our little feline/human ecosystems right now, so we are looking for some help.

We’re calling her Princess Tiger Lily and doing our best to help find her at least find a foster home,  preferably someone who is good with helping cats transition from street to indoors. She might need to be spayed. She’s healthy. We’ve run blood tests and are having her vaccinnated. We’re taking her back to the vet as soon as we can. She is affectionate and confident. We think she must have been someone’s cat once, as she is definitely not feral. At the very least she certainly needs some love and attention to remind her that it’s good to be an inside cat.

She has beautiful penetrating green eyes and a very loud scratchy meow that she seems to be using  A LOT right now, especially in the wee hours of the morning. We can’t tell for sure why. The vet originally said she was spayed but she is behaving as though she is in heat. This is the main reason we need some help. We can get her spayed if need be, but not while she is in heat obviously.

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A wonderful friend took her in for a couple of days, she settled right in after a bit of exlporing the room and was totally fine being stared at and petted by six humans.

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She is affectionate and loves being petted. Her fur is very soft and downy. She has a few mats and is underweight, and has obviously been on the streets for a bit. We can’t bear to put her back there.

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I just love this cool ink blot pattern on the back of her head!

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She gets this very zen expression when she is petted.

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But she is also quite an explorer! Tried to climb into cupboards at the vet office.

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Can you help us help this sweet lady?

I figure, there is only so much any cat and animal lover can do in any moment. There are only so many animals we can each take in and give them the quality food and health care they deserve. But, when one shows up on your doorstep, how do you turn it away?

You don’t. You can’t. You do your best and you cry for help when you need it. And that’s what we’re doing now. Thanks for reading.

Please forward to anyone you think might be able to help.

XOXOXOXO

Jess

The Sunflower, and Other Musings

I’m not one to subscribe to the idea that everything happens for a reason, or that there is some pre-ordained plan that the universe or God or what have you has set in motion.

I think it’s pretty clear that we are here imbued with free will, which supersedes the idea that no matter what our choices, we are rooted in and routed through a pre-set path of experiences.

I believe what we do have, is a beautiful and profound ability to walk through the experiences, the joys and the pain of this life and to absorb them and react to them in ways that help us evolve spiritually. To identify patterns and shapes and ideas that inspire more empathy for others, more understanding of ourselves and more ownership of our responsibility to one another.

While I believe in karmic responsibility, I don’t believe, for example, that the struggles my little Bean is having are a result or punishment for the mistakes I’ve made in the past, or the karmic debt I most certainly owe for them. I don’t believe in a state of being that would exact retribution for my flaws and mistakes from such a pure shiny soul.

I think my struggle here is to understand the things about which I feel guilty and how I choose to forgive myself for them. That is somewhat painful work that needs to be done within me, and this situation has inspired much of that for me.

I also believe that God, whatever he or she may really be, is probably more benign and beautifully detached from the individual nuances of every sentient life than organized religion would have us consider, because whatever God is, he or she or it is something with a greater and more perfect understanding of free will and all its ramifications–it’s atrocities as well as its possibilities for greatness.

I also believe that a day will come for all of us, when our spirits will outgrow the physical matter that confines them. One day for all of us, these bodies we enjoy, will no longer have the strength or capacity to animate our souls. And frankly, I believe our souls will one day have better and bigger things to do than to cling desperately to a configuration of cells and tissue, however much we have grown attached to them and grateful for them.

I’ve come to this belief system mostly by viewing it up close. First, when I said goodbye to my sweet brother, who at 20 years old, decided one day that his spirit had much better things to do than to stay in a body that tried very hard for a very long time to tether him to this world. He was very calm the day he died. He was very accepting of it, and was ready to stop struggling for physical form. We were all with him, he was surrounded by love. We said goodbye.

We’re attached to the physical presence of those we love because that is the means by which we first get to experience their spirit and soul. But it is not the only means. I haven’t seen or touched my brother in 15 years and I never will again with these eyes or hands. But I still love him as deeply and literally as if he were sitting right next to me.

A few years ago, I lost a close friend. The first female friend I made in California, she was my neighbor, my sister; a wonderful mother, a prolific gardener and a profoundly empathetic human who taught me so much by example about how I want to walk through this life.

She died at home, surrounded by love and friends and family. She was not calm and did struggle. While the last few days and weeks leading up to her death, she took steps toward accepting it, I absolutely respect her desire to battle to the last possible moment. Her three young sons were with her and I know how hard it was for her to leave them.

A week or so after she died, I was visiting and hanging out with the boys. Her two-year-old son crawled into my lap to read a book, but first looked up at me and said: “Where’s my mom?”

Of course I had no answer. I don’t know for sure where she is. But I do know she was here, and like my brother before her, she left her mark on many many people.

A week or so before she died, I was visiting and lay in bed with her talking. She was drifting off into sleep after a massage from her sister and a potent painkiller. The room smelled of lavender oil and clean sheets.

We talked a lot about a lot of things in those last few weeks, my experience with my brother, my thoughts about what might come next for us all. At the time I was a little more skeptical about things like faith, especially the ways in which my own sense of spirituality did not conform or overlap with traditional religious beliefs about the afterlife.

This is something she had been pondering and exploring as her cancer progressed. It brought her peace.

She whispered to me:, softly, near to sleep “I know you don’t believe, don’t know what to believe. But I want you to know, when I am gone, I will show you….I will do something…..put some color in the sky…something.”

I kissed her forehead and said: “I would like that very much.

She died in June, just before her 40th birthday. As had been my ritual since meeting her and her family, I spent fourth of july with them in Huntington Beach.

As I approached her yard that day, I was accosted by her garden. It seemed every blossom she had recently touched, every seed she had every lovingly tended had decided to burst into its most perfect and vibrant possibility. Lining the front gate were her sunflowers, standing sentry like an soldiers of welcome and beauty.
As I got closer and reached for the gate to open it, marveling at the sight, a breeze lifted the sunflower nearest me, and it turned to look directly at me with the brightest, biggest most glorious face I have ever seen in a sunflower not in a picture or for sale in a store.

It took my breath away. I was speechless.

I looked at her husband who was standing in the yard smiling and said: “Whoah, this garden.”

“I know, right?” he replied. “It’s Dani.”

I’ve never forgotten that moment. I call it up often actually.

I think part of our job here is to figure out how to share so much of ourselves while we can that there is something of us left around for our loved ones to encounter when we’re inevitably gone.

I feel like animals have an innate ability to do this. For the most part, they don’t withhold themselves from us. The more open we are to them, the more they will meet us in that shared space of connection, and the more of them we will have in our hearts when they leave us behind.

I am grateful for having learned more about this of late. I cherish every moment of this experience, including the pain, it comes with it’s own sort of inherent cleansing power.

Rambling thoughts (a.k.a. I should be doing laundry)…

You are alive.

If you are reading this, you are alive.

And, as is the nature of existence, you had no say in the manner of your birth.

You were not consulted in the matter of who your parents would be, what nationality or country would be your home, what your genetic predisposition to intelligence or otherwise would be, or what your genetic predisposition to illness or otherwise would be.

And, perhaps you imagine that somewhere, sometime, someway before you came to be in this body you actually did have some say in the matter. Perhaps that’s so. But if it’s so, the rationale, the deliberation has not been granted to you to recall, to incorporate into your consciousness, so what real role can that potential predestinational imagining play with regard to your awareness of self, your concious decision-making process?

And so, you simply are, as you are.

And one day, it is more than likely, you will also have no say in the manner of your death.

For most of us, I think it will come sooner than our preparedness for it.

But hopefully  just in time for our acceptance of it.

And you will die.

And so will I.

And so, in between, what do we do?

Between these two moments of birth and death is life. Is being alive.

We have needs to fulfill if we want to remain alive. We must eat, we must breathe so we must must occupy ourselves with trades that allow us to remain fed and healthy.

We have desires to fulfill as beings with an evolved cerebral cortex and so we pursue dreams of intelligence, of inspiration…we seek to create and experience art and ideas and material things, which add texture and color and context to this impermanent state of aliveness.

We are, I believe souls, in bodies, rather than bodies that have souls. We are made up of spiritual stuff as much as we are physiological stuff. And that spiritual stuff is made of love.

And so we love.

We live. We dream. We love.

In short,

We are.

I am.

And we try. We try to make sense of our state, our place in this world, how the world that surrounds affects us and how we inhabit it and how we make those three things happen for as long as we possibly can.

Where you were born, the state of the world, your luck perhaps, like mine, in being born in a free country, in a time period where women’s rights had evolved, has little to do with your own choice. I often wonder about those who are born, who live and who die elsewhere. Those who face struggles and pain and disasters I will never encounter.

Who I cannot ever fully understand and yet who I cannot fully live without.
Who I can never forget.

They try.

We try.

Is there purpose to it all? If you think so, there is.

Does that mean anything? If you think so, it does.

I try.

Wolf Needs Fox Companion

I may be a wolf, but I’m lucky enough to have a fox for a boyfriend. Now he just needs the hood to match.

He’s superfoxy on his own, but we discovered his inner Spirit fox when he rocked this hood that belongs to a friend of ours. Now he just needs one of his own so we can be the canine power couple we are meant to be!

Quirks

Everyone has random quirks right?

Here are some of mine….

I hate taking my vitamins…I have to negotiate/cajole myself into it every morning. My internal dialogue sounds awfully similar to my sister negotiating with her 7 year old.

Honestly– a lot of my inner life is spent negotiating with myself, mostly about food….i.e. “well jessica, if you eat XX, then you have to do XX later. Or if you eat XX now, you can’t eat XX later.” There are so many myriad combinations of this mental discussion with myself, it makes me too tired to even come up with a specific example.

I can go to a donut shop every morning and get only coffee, never buying a donut, i purchase no sweets whatsoever at the grocery store…ever. In that sense I have great willpower. but if someone brings cookies of any kind to the office I will eat at least two, sometimes three. If they are tiny, double that number.

I love watching fitness infomercials. They mesmerize me. Must be all those years as an aerobics instructor and then later covering the home video fitness industry. Although, I do confess I will also watch the Magic Bullet infomercial every time I run across it. Seriously. I think I’ve seen that 1,000 times. I’ve never bought any infomercial product though.

I have lived in West Los Angeles for 6.5 years almost….in the same damn apartment. And still, STILL if I am driving west on the 10 it is a 50/50 crapshoot that I will go the right direction onto the 405 to get home.