I went from giddy to distraught almost overnight.
We’d adopted a cat, Smokey, and it wasn’t quite working out.
Lesson 1: Be careful about “almost what I want”.
Smokey was almost the cat I wanted, and I felt awful about it.
I was distraught for a week. Judging myself for being too picky, too needy. Whining that Smokey bonded with Adam and not with me.
I wanted a cuddly animal, and Smokey was affectionate but mercurial.
Lesson 2: Ask for help and feedback.
I was reassured by Adam and friends and the humane society that getting the right animal is what is most important, so it’s ok if we decided to bring him back.
And, still exploring what was the right thing to do, I got the advice, “Mary, be open to receive. Let him come to you the way he wants to.”
Okay, there’s that “open to receive” lesson again. I’m paying attention.
So I took a breath and became open to receiving. Giving Smokey space.
The next morning, Smokey and I were enjoying each other’s company, and I decided to play with him – a little tussle. And he attacked and clawed the hell out of my skull.
Lesson 3: Stop asking for feedback and get quiet.
I walked away.
Away from Smokey.
Away from other people’s advice and opinions.
I took a walk into nature, journal in hand, and got quiet.
Lesson 4: Get clear about what you truly want to receive.
As I walked, I looked around for a good place to sit. I wanted a place that was comfortable… and that’s when it hit me.
I want a pet that provides comfort.
An animal who was open to receive love and affection the way I naturally express it. Cuddling, playing, tussling.
THAT was what was most important.
The truth of this flooded through my body.
Then I sat down to journal. I started listing the reasons I should keep Smokey. The majority of the reasons were superficial (he’s so pretty and soft) or having to do with other people’s opinions (my sister will kill me if I bring him back to the shelter, I already posted on social media).
Not a single reason was about comfort.
But what about my lesson? Being open to receive and all that? Was I supposed to keep Smokey and learn some deep lesson?
Or was it OK to desire something that was more perfectly aligned with what I wanted? Or was that selfish and shallow and a cop-out?
Lesson 5: TRUST that what you want is aligned with the greatest good for all involved.
I had to stop second-guessing myself.
I took a deep breath and felt that the lesson Smokey was here to give me had already been provided: being open to receive is one thing, but to receive what I want, I have to be very clear about my desires.
Otherwise, I end up with… close to what I want. Partly what I want. Almost what I want.
In other words: settling. And settling serves no one.
But when you align yourself with what you want, the joy of that alignment has a positive ripple effect for all involved.
Lesson 6: Be willing to get it wrong to discover what is truly right, quickly.
Having Smokey in my home was exhausting emotionally. I felt like I was walking on eggshells.
When I brought Smokey back to the no-kill shelter, it was a full-on ugly cry situation.
I knew in my heart that bringing him back, so we could both find the right situations, was for the best. But I was wracked with guilt nonetheless.
But because the situation was so challenging, so confronting – it quickly forced me to clarify what I wanted. A clarity I could not have gotten as quickly had I not taken action and gotten it “wrong.”
Lesson 7: Glow with gratitude… for the challenges, for the lessons and for receiving what you want.
I am so grateful for Smokey.
He was a catalyst for understanding what I truly wanted.
He reminded me to not be afraid of getting it wrong in order to clarify what I really want.
And to release what isn’t right for me, even when it’s hard.
And they lived happily ever after…
Smokey was adopted less than three days after I tearfully brought him back.
And when I went to find my new cat, I knew what I was looking for. I was willing to walk away and wait until I found an animal that was a match.
I sat with cats and kittens, and just allowed myself to play with them the way I naturally enjoy. Room after room I visited and it was clear that most of the cats were not into my way of expressing affection.
Then, I got to little Inigo.
I played with him with his kitty toys and he was totally into it.
I picked him up and cuddled him and he was totally into it.
I challenged him to hop up the increasingly higher shelves in the room (“I bet you can’t jump up here. WOW good boy, you did it!!! I bet you can’t get to this next one… oh my gosh what a brave boy, you did it!”) and he was totally into it.
Then more cuddles.
Then more play.
I thought about meeting the other kittens, but I just couldn’t tear myself away.
Oooohhh… just one more cuddle.
One more tussle.
And that was it.
Not from scarcity. From clarity. From being open to receive and from honoring my own desires as valid and deserving.
I resisted telling this story because I was afraid of being called superficial or ridiculous for tying myself in knots over a cat. But the truth is…
I’ve been transformed by a single sentence in a fantasy fiction book.
I’ve been transformed by commercials.
I’ve been transformed waiting in line at the supermarket.
I love being open to receive lessons through mundane, everyday experiences, and I hope this blog encourages you to do the same.