What Can We Learn from Cats about Routine?

Laurie in her fancy woven sunhat smiles under trees in the park.
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I’m feeling quite happy walking around the park. I’m just walking because it feels good to walk. The weather is mild, and I’m enjoying some music. Then I did something I’ve never done before, I actually walked around listening to one of my own episodes, picked at random. I think it was day 60. It was a lot of fun. I felt I was hearing the show for the first time and it made me quite happy with the body of work Compulsive Overeating Diary has become.

Slog Revisited

Last Friday I hiked up the mountain in front of a storm and thought about SLOG. The term I use for all of the boring and routine details that even the MOST exciting of processes and things become once they are integrated into life. Speaking for me, I can’t help but be more attracted to bright and shiny new things. New people, new books, new recipes, new clothes, new trips, new, new, new. I think that ‘newness’ comes chock full of sparkling expectation and dreams that known items, people, and events just can’t match. Especially, if you are trying to distract yourself.

Let’s take writing for example. You get a story idea. It seems SO compelling. Bright, wondrous – full of possibility. Brimming with high hope and excitement, you sit down to write your scene and sprinkle in dialog. You’re on a roll! It’s thrilling. You write or type until you can’t go anymore. THEN you take a break to read your progess. OMG, this is stilted – dry – not at ALL what I imagined. Let me give it another go. You try again. You cross out, or backspace or edit yourself into perfection, until FINALLY a bit of writing gold shines through. This is TERRIBLE work. To polish this draft into something readable. It feels sooooo very different from the first wave of creation where you leapt on for the ride of your life.

Ok, I admit I’m generalizing here about MY writing experience. I love the first bit, and don’t love the last bit. That last bit is the slog. In art, it is the technique vs. the muse. The perspiration vs. the inspiration. The actuality vs. the possibility.

Slog is changing the cute baby’s diaper for the 100th time, fixing a meal when you just want to sit and take it easy, taking out the trash because it is trash day. It’s going to work because you need to pay bills. It’s mending buttons, feeding cats, exercising because you need to burn calories. It is the autopilot chores. The joke your friend, spouse, or family member tells for the 20th time. It’s the stuff we do, but don’t relish.

Life can’t be ALL Sunshine – unless you are California Cats

Tiger a marmalade cat, and his mama Gracie, a tortoise tabby, sun themselves on a tile floor near a window

Tiger and Gracie take advantage of the sun-warmed tile. They have their routine where and when it feels best to lay or play or eat. I could learn a lot by how they are in the cat-moment, responding to their instinct.

Tiger and Gracie have very little beef with slog. For them, they enjoy their routines and actually DISLIKE any symbol of newness – such as knocks on the door, new people entering their space, and ESPECIALLY strange cats peeking in their windows. They HATE new flavors of cat food, dislike when we try out a cheaper litter, and can’t abide when I wash their nap blankets.

Tiger and Gracie relish their daily expectations. They find extreme comfort and joy in them. But I’ve noticed that they also are flexible. If it’s sunnier by the side window than by garden window during their usual sunning time, off to the side they go. If I’m not available to sing Gracie her milk song, PLOP onto Mark’s chest with meaningful meowing glances at her milk plate. (Mark has his own song for this ritual). Tiger and Gracie are well loved. We pet them, we feed them, we talk to them and throw toys during playtime. They have very happy cat lives. I often wonder, ‘Would chips have had the same draw on me if *I* had been a California cat like them?’

Fantasies about Greener Grass can Tell You A Lot

Hmm, a strange plot à la Freaky Friday, but with cats. Now would I REALLY enjoy my new found rest time? If I were a cat with my own brain, would I even be ABLE to appreciate the sunny lassitude? Maybe for about five minutes. I do think the leaping about would be fun for bit. And I DO love watching lizards – though, I must say, I’ve never wanted to hunt them and pull their tails off, as seems to give Tiger satisfaction.

I think in MY brain, I would be quite bored and would probably be squirted quite often with the ‘bad cat’ water bottle.

Even on vacation in beautiful Hawaii, I can only lay about on the sandy beach, reading novels and drinking parasol drinks for maybe, half of a day. Then my brain will actively seek out some ‘new thing’.

Fantasy in general can Tell You A Lot

Whenever I am in the midst of SLOG, I find myself pretending my situation is other than it is. I imagine I’m single, or young, or rich, or have others to do my SLOG for me. I am bright and shiny and totally OPPOSITE of myself in these dreams. I am attractive to ALL, funny, compelling, sit easily in all chairs, witty and wise in every situation, I have a chauffeur, the studios are BEGGING for my voice talent, I pick and choose which chef will cook for me ALL of my favorite dishes – calorie free – and for a moment — I smile.

I’m imagining a life where all is well AND I am the sun and moon and stars of it. I am the first priority. I am all that anyone could ever want!

But No, I don’t think I’m God

Alas, not being a true narcissist, I think I would find my ‘little dream world’ a BIG nightmare if it actually came to pass. These feelings of unease often point to underlying feelings of rejection. Maybe Mark has been busy or not feeling well and is not available for what I would like to do. Maybe you BCs are busy or tired or have other priorities than participating here, on this blog. Maybe the cats would rather sun than sit in my lap for pets when I would love the comfort of petting them. In times of wanting attention and comfort, slog is not fun.

But slog is what is needed to keep on keeping on. For me, I still need to clean the house or suffer the slings and arrows of my mortifying Dusty House of Horrors. I still need to practice my scales if I really want to sing. I still need to practice my voice work and build a better diaphragm if I want to get work as a voice actor. I still need to think about a topic to blog on, if I’d like YOU, the BCs to comment.

In many ways, the cats have got it right. Boring or not, slog is what you do for yourself to make YOURSELF happy. Slog is how we progress to experience our dreams one step at a time. If we view slog as an opportunity to be in the moment, then it isn’t routine. It’s an experience of learning and appreciating what is truly important to us.

Oh well, Gracie is rubbing my legs. Time to sing the Milk Song.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Comments box:

6 thoughts on “What Can We Learn from Cats about Routine?

  1. Dave

    Our two cats Qwilleran and Temperance teach us to love ourselves. Our cats give lots of love especially when we are down or sick. They will snuggle on our laps and purr for us, and if you are grumpy and push them away, they come right back, they don’t let us wallow.

    Reply
    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      Hi Dave, I agree, our cats are a big part of our lives and great teachers of unconditional love. They love us just because we are and I find we treat the cats, often better than we treat one another, or ourselves. 😉
      Thanks for writing, I hope things are progressing for you and Kathleen and you are finding opportunities for joy, acceptance and adventure!
      xoxoxox

      Reply
  2. Cheryl

    That was one terrific blog post, Laurie! I REALLY need to hear that today. Bran is working day shift (which NEVER happens) and i thought, Oh yay! I can turn my music up loud and get the laundry sorted, and the kitchen cleaned, the vacuuming done… It’ll be great! Instead I’m sitting her on the computer. Guess I should take your advice and get off my rear and do something! (Btw, I didn’t know you spoke Cat-ish! <3 )

    Reply
    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      LOL, I was BORN speaking Cat-ish! I am the Cat-Whisperer…or Tiger is the LAURIS Whisperer maybe 😉 Hope your day went well and you had fun at least. My dining room table is ONCE again piled high with my hiking gear, bills, recording stuff etc. etc. I have been putting clearing it on my ToDo list for days now. Hopefully, when I’m done answering comments, I WILL do it….or cute cat videos may tempt me away….

      Reply
      1. Cheryl

        In regards to what you said in the other answer, I hear your voice in your writing loud and clear! Whatever difficulties you had, I’m just not seeing them in your typed entries. I really love them, I think, because I’m more into the written word. Your words flow effortlessly (at least in your finished product on here) and your sense of humor comes shining through. Yep, it might actually be time to start thinking about that book!

        Reply
        1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

          Thanks GF, I’m starting to consider it. But as you can tell, I still love the spoken word more so than written, so it will take a bit more discipline to get back my book mojo, and the learning of how to make the audio version of it to excite me. xoxoxox

          Reply

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