To quote Brené Brown, I had fully armored up my heart.
It took 5 years to build this armor.
Five years of a viciously divisive political environment followed by a health crisis of proportions we never could have imagined. Five years of emotional, psychological and physical stress, while fighting to maintain the focus required for my business.
It came on gradually, this armoring. A little emotional distancing, a few blocked friendships, forced physical distancing, binge-watching Netflix.
Then Smokey came along.
Through this difficult adopted cat and the deep conversations he necessitated, I finally woke up to how locked in my head (and out of my heart) I’d become.
The transformation came when I chose a new name for the cat. Here’s how I explained it to a friend:
“I decided to name the cat Maitri (pronounced “my-tree”), which is Sanskrit for “compassionate friendship” or “unconditional friendliness.” Not so much because he is unconditionally friendly all the time, but because it’s what I need as a reminder about how to treat myself. I’d like him to help remind me.”
If you read Part 2 of this series, you already know that I ended up bringing Smokey/Maitri back to the shelter and adopted another cat. As counter intuitive as it may seem, doing so was a powerful act of maitri… for myself. An act that sweetly cracked my heart wide open (I’m breaking into tender tears as I write this).
Why am I sharing this story?
Because the successful people I admire most are the ones who reveal their flaws and vulnerability. When they do, I get to see their delightfully imperfect humanity, which makes what they’ve accomplished feel a little more attainable for me.
This experience opened me up to receive a whole new world of possibilities. My hope is that by sharing it, it will open-up possibilities for you, too.