Love At First Sight

We have been cat owners (owned by cats) for 20 years.  The joy they have brought to our life is immeasurable. As I think back on the story of how each cat became part of our family, I feel as though we were meant to be together.  With each cat it was love at first sight…attraction that leads to an long-term relationship.

They each have distinct personalities of charisma and charm.  Words that describe charismatic are confident, exuberant, optimistic, expressive body language, and a passionate voice.  In some ways I have become bilingual by learning the language of each of our cats. Each has private language developed with me.  They provide just as much nurturing to us as we do to them.  Our cats need us BUT there is a balance of these relationships: we need them.

Pets are humanizing.  They remind us we have an obligation
and responsibility
to preserve and nuture and care for all life.   
 James Cromwell

Einstein (10/21/01-10/9/14) and Reggie (10/21/01-2/1/19) are brother and sister pixie bob cats and were our first two cats.  The name Einstein was chosen because he was particularly smart and intelligent.  He immediately came to me, rolled over and asked for a tummy rub so he had to be mine.  Reggie (Regina – Queen in Italian) was our kitten for life…never weighing over 7 pounds.  Reggie was our queen.  She had an independence about her that required respect while exuding love and contentment.

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.  **Anatole France
May the memories of our friends be with us forever.

They motivate us to play,
be affectionate,
seek adventure, and
be loyal.  
Tom Hayden

Until last Friday we had 3 cats Percy, Chester, and DJ.

Percy (named after a town from my early childhood) is a rescue cat and joined our family in 2012. She is a solitary cat who likes her alone time.  She kisses me with her eyes, likes to be near us but at a distance, and always shows contentment with her “hooked” tail.

Chester (named after the town where I was born) is a pixie bob and joined our family in 2014.  He is a cuddle cat who demands attention.  We share a favorite chair, he knows where the treat drawer is and “asks” for treats regularly.  He has a demanding voice only a mom could love.  

DJ  (named after my Dad) is a rescue cat and joined our family last year.  I have shared his story in a blog earlier this year.  He is best buddies with Chester and loves to have his lap time.

Buddy (named after a nickname for my grandfather) is a pixie bob and joined our family this past weekend.   We are looking forward to integrating Buddy into the group.  I am confident he will find his place and be a great asset to our family.

How can you not love this face?

Our cats had/have a power of immense, non-judgemental love…that is completely reciprocated. From the moment our eyes locked there is no going back. Our lives will forever revolve around each other.  Percy, Chester, DJ and Buddy are loved every day and we never take them for granted.

DJ Finds His Forever Home & Best Friend

We have been cat owners since 2001.  Well, we have been “owned” by cats since 2001.  If you are a cat owner or if you know a cat owner…either way you would more likely agree the cat is the true owner. The most recent addition to our family is DJ. Just over a year ago, on September 25, 2018, he sauntered up to my Dad and seemed to have decided he had found his way to his forever home. 

The Story of DJ:

Dad says…I found him late at night on the sidewalk. He seemed nervous and upset.  I meowed at him (my Dad talks to all my cats) and he relaxed so I could pet him.  When I got ready to go home, he insisted on coming with me. As I walked, he kept getting between my legs all the way home. He would not come into the entryway to the front door…he had gone far enough on that first day. The following night, I found him sprawled out asleep on the sidewalk and he followed me home again.  He came on into the entryway where he enjoyed a snack.  Your sister said she had someone who would take him if we could catch him.  The third night, he was again on the sidewalk and he again followed me home.  We were able to get him to come into the house.  He was nervous but ate and drank warm milk.  Then he checked out the house by roaming around, even into dark rooms.  Afterwards, even though it was pouring rain, he wanted out.  We opened the door and he left. The next morning, we found him laying as close as he could get to the front door.   We coaxed him in with food and “entertained” him until your sister came to get him to take him to the vet.  

Over the next few days a neighbor friend of my parents fostered DJ. After receiving pictures and pictures of DJ from my sister (who lives near my parents) and told over and over “what a good cat he is” we decided he needed to be a member of our family.  It was difficult to resist DJ.  He is cute, well behaved, and has a soft “squeaky” voice.  Ten days later, October 5, 2018, DJ came to our house for a weekend visit and introduction to our cats. This was the day DJ found his forever home AND his best friend.

DJ sitting on my lap the first day.

We have often wondered about what life was like for DJ on the streets.  He seemed self-sufficient and was in good physical condition when he found Dad but life on the street is no way for a cat to live.  DJ was in search for his forever home.

As expected, DJ’s transition into our home, with our other cats, had a bit of a learning curve.  Initially, DJ and Chester were leery of each other and competed over their “ownership” of me.  With some planning and some patience from all of us after a couple of weeks it was amazing to see how close they were becoming.  Over the next several months they have formed a close bond and are often inseparable.  I have always thought cats were independent and solitary, but DJ and Chester have become pals.

DJ knew he was in a safe and loving place…being with us was the second chance he was looking for when he approached my Dad. I could talk a bit about the wellness benefits of rescuing an animal (for us and for DJ), but I think the poem below really tells the story.  DJ enriches our lives.  I am so glad we made room in our home and hearts for DJ. He is a great addition to our family.  

Tail tucked between your legs,  
Confusion in your eyes –  
I know it’s hard to understand
That someone heard your cries.  
When loneliness is all you know
And pain is all you feel
And no one can be trusted,
And hunger is all too real…
That’s the time the Lord sees you
And lets you know He’s there  
That’s when He sends His messengers
The hearts that love and car.  
Yes, rescuers are angels 
You cannot see their wings,
They keep them neatly folded
As they do their caring things.  
The medicine to make you well
Good food to make you strong.  
And finally to help you learn
That hugs are never wrong.  
The perfect place then must be found   
The home where you can live
Secure and safe and happy
With joy to get and give.  
When you reach your Forever Home,
Your place to feel whole,
The Angels smile, and off they go
To save another soul.  
author unknown

Nature, Wildlife & Well-Being

Photo Source: Maria C Dawson: Stupefied “Connection”

Last week I found a squirrel with a broken back leg on our porch. I was able to (hopefully) save it by taking it to an emergency rescue location near our home. It made me a bit stressed and then a bit hopefully (emotional wellness roller coaster). Since this experience I have been thinking about nature, wildlife, and wellness. 

Personal well-being is a primary focus of Blooms to Blossoms.  One aspect of wellness that I have not discussed yet is environmental wellness.  Environmental wellness includes an awareness of surrounding environment and community and the ability to live in harmony.  Attention on individual well-being leads to a consideration of what is important and beneficial to our personal lives, but it must include what is beneficial to society.

In my May 20 blog, I shared my intent (purpose) to build a community to discuss the meaning of an integrated life. Together, our effort will result in the creation of a well-being legacy to live and to pass on to others. I concluded the blog by asking the question:

How can we live and share our personal well-being legacy?

Our personal well-being legacy has a broader scope reaching beyond ourselves to the larger community.  How do we care for ourselves, others, nature, and wildlife?

University of Minnesota Taking Charge of Your Health and Well-Being Blog series titled Nature and Us explores how nature can impact well-being.

The 4-part series includes:

How Does Nature Impact Our Well-being?
**Nature Heals…decreases stress/anxiety, increases pleasant feelings
**Nature Soothes…trees, plants, openness of outdoors mitigates pain
**Nature Restores…time in nature enhances vitality and mood
**Nature Connects…encourages support person to person and person to the larger world

Enhance Your Well-being in Nature
**Encourages “getting outside”…if nothing more than the breath fresh air and give your mind a break.

Bring Nature Indoors
**Shares ways to “bring small doses of nature into your home” to enhance well-being.

Nuture Nature
**Discusses the influence animals and pets can have on personal wellness.

Brittnei Miller also shares insights about nature and us in her August 2018 blog Why Should You Care (WSYC). She states, “I believe that positive self-care will generate additional positive feelings throughout our lives.  We generally feel more likely to take pride in the world around us (people and animals) when we are also taking care of ourselves.”

Bringing nature and wildlife together as an influencer for wellness, a 2017 WSYC blog post summarizes a 2011 research study published in Tourism Management by Ballantyne, Packer, and Sutherland titled Visitors’ Memories of Wildlife Tourism: Implications for the design of powerful interpretive experiences.

Four main categories emerged:

Much of our neighborhood and our house backs up to a conservation area. Over the past several years I’ve had many encounters with wildlife. Below are 3 collages of pictures I’ve saved.

Pieces of life weaves together in many ways. My blog on July 15, Run for My Body, Run for My Soul , shared my perspective of a lifetime of running. Thinking about the above comments from Miller’s and U of MN blogs another aspect of my running is more clear. I enjoy being outside. Interesting that when I think about places I’ve lived I can still envision my favorite running routes. Most of my runs were alone and with my surroundings.

The level of engagement I have had with the animals visiting my yard is varied and touch on all aspects summarized in the 2011 Memories of Wildlife study.

**I was able to “pet” the calves before Farmer John herded them back home.
**Catching lizards and frogs in the house is a ‘game’ my cats enjoy.
**Being able to watch the bird we rescued fly off into a sanctuary area was fulfilling.
**Providing a nesting blanket and watching the squirrel ‘tuck’ himself in for the ride to the animal rescue location was a bit emotional…felt sorry for the squirrel but happy I was helping.
**Observing ‘mom deer’ jump my fence and retrieve her baby was amazing.

Note about deer: beautiful animals and I enjoy seeing them, however, it would be nice if they would quit eating my landscaping. :- )

Raccoon looking in my office window, Cows broke free from neighboring farm & are heading toward our front yard, ducks and gator on our pond, and sand cranes visiting the front yard.
My recent squirrel rescue, a bird released after rehab (neighbor and I saved), mom deer retrieving baby from backyard after baby napped in my flowers, owl (same neighbor and I) released from a pool enclosure
Osprey maintains residence in wooded area behind our pond, catch and release (thanks to my cats) of a lizard (green anole), catch and release of a frog (thanks to my cat), herd of deer passing through, turtle heading for our pond

I hope you enjoy some of my experiences….I hope you enjoy the video below. Please share a story or two with our readers.

A healthy, diverse and vibrant natural world is essential to human health, happiness and wellbeing.