The Cowardly Lion

Cat projecting like a lion

“This is probably the only opportunity you’ll have in your life to jump off a cliff into water in total darkness. We call it the Leap of Faith.” My adrenaline is pumping from hours of adventure inside this cave, as I’m listening to our guide, Rossano, explain the next obstacle ahead of us. I’m having so much fun that I don’t even realize I’m second in line for this “Leap of Faith.” The guy in front of me points to where he is jumping, lights out, and we hear a splash below. Rossano’s light comes back on, and it’s suddenly my turn.

“Point to where you’re jumping.” I point, and the panic sets in as Rossano is about to turn out the light.

“I don’t think I can do this.”

“Yes you can. It’s too late. You’re this far. Now point again and go.”

I point, lights go out, and I jump. Fear dissipates and is replaced by exhilaration as I get a nose full of water and paddle up to the top. This was the only part of our Puerto Rico caving adventure where I wavered and I needed Rossano’s words to help screw up the courage to go. Somehow, courage is something so easily found when faced with a physical challenge like this one, but Rossano’s words ring true in nearly every situation where courage is needed to go for it.

“Yes you can. It’s too late. You’re this far.” Even the idea of pointing in the direction where we were jumping is metaphoric for the path of life. If I pick a direction, I point, and go, it may take some courage but fear will be replaced by something else soon enough. Whether it’s accomplishment or the lesson learned to do things differently the next time, finding the courage to just go is always better than allowing the paralysis of fear to set in.

After I contemplated inspiration and how I was struggling to find it lately, I turned my attention to thoughts of courage. Why could I jump off a cliff inside a pitch black cave, yet I succumb to fear, in the form of complacency, in everyday life? Courage is that which helps us conquer fear. Does this make courage akin to love? I say yes and it’s rooted in the cultivation of self love. Having courage to do what scares you most is an act of great self love. I was using meditation and yoga to take the inward journey to find what makes my heart sing. I stepped away from both, and I told myself the comfortable excuse that I didn’t have time. It does me no good to just stand on the edge of the cliff in the dark cave. It’s too late. I’ve gone too far. It’s time to jump in.


Insert Inspirational Quote Here

I started contemplating inspiration today, or rather, the current lack I am experiencing. Inspiration can be made into a grandiose (& sometimes fickle) ideal, but the reality is that daily inspiration is necessary. That’s why lacking inspiration can be so frustrating. Inspiration brings productivity, fulfillment, and innovation. Without it, the proverbial rut materializes turning thoughtful, creative people into zombies who have forgotten why they do what they do. Routine is normal and has its benefits but how do I marry inspired living with routine? Spoiler alert, I know the answer but knowing and doing are far from the same.
As I walked to lunch, I ruminated on the keys to keeping inspiration alive and well in my daily life. Be present. Value and nurture connection. Always be learning. Be grateful (seriously, not the BS style but the gratitude that reminds you how awesome it is to be alive and experiencing something new every day). I’m defining what each of these things mean and what I need to do to (re)spark my inspiration when I arrive at my lunch destination, Chipotle. I never intended anyone to know of my lunching at Chipotle today and then this whole thought process started and that sneaky and elusive bitch, inspiration, had to teach me a lesson. Apparently lack of inspiration isn’t my problem so much as my (temporary) blindness to inspiration. Chipotle puts stuff on the bags to read. My bag was a lesson in alchemy from Paulo Coehlo. I’ve read Paulo Coehlo before, and I find him very inspirational, so I settled in with my sofritas bowl and started reading.


Yep, I spilled sofritas on it while reading

First I smiled than I wanted to cry but I held the tears because, you know, I’m in Chipotle during the lunch rush in center city Philadelphia. So, yeah, all those things I know just sort of happened to remind me that inspiration lurks everywhere. Chipotle and Paulo Coehlo reminded me that I have new and inspired ways of living life that come with age and experience. Now, as long as I keep learning, I’ll be just fine.

Sometimes the best friends in life are fluffy

When I was 19, I told everyone it was time for me to get my own cat. I grew up with cats and, clearly, 2 years into college is the time to take on the responsibility of a living thing. My roommate and boyfriend at the time took my declaration to heart and gifted me this fluffball with eyes on my 20th birthday.


At first, I was unsure. I would have never chosen a long haired kitten. She was flea and ear mite infested and her ears were way too big for her body.


But, that little kitten was never unsure. She was the most certain creature I ever met, and on that first meeting, she knew I was her human. She claimed me as her own, conquering a portion of my heart just for her. Because the bf at the time had gifted her, naming was an ordeal. Finally, we settled on Haley. Though, it’s also quite possible that was always her name, and it took us that long to discover it.


This is the face I got for our 18th anniversary

My birthday in July marked 18 years together for me and Haley. In the very early hours of this morning, I said my last goodbye to one of the best friends I’ve ever had. Haley was a tiny cat with huge presence. Few people possess the kind of self assurance Haley exuded so easily. She lived through my worst years, and she was still my best pal. She expected more pampering in her later years, but she earned it. This little kitty lived a full life completely on her terms. She may have used up her 9 lives in the process, but she still made it to 18.


She loved her annual salon visits

Roof climber, rain soaked party crasher, extreme alpha, poison ivy carrier, art model, party cat, lover of humans named Dan, costume contest winner, calendar girl, mad sh!tter, morning alarm, most popular at every vet office, charcuterie connoisseur, my fluffy bff
This list of who Haley was doesn’t even cover all the fictional personas created for this big personality feline: high powered business cat, med school dropout, beer snob, vampire, Satan’s little kitty, the most diva of divas


When Haley was diagnoses with renal failure in 2013, I knew it was the beginning of the end. I also know some cats can live for years in renal failure. I still believed my bff would stay with me through our 20 year anniversary. I’m grateful for 18 years with this exceptional spirit. As Dan & I came to terms with the worst decision ever about Haley, I held her in my arms and couldn’t believe she was that sick. Her eyes were the same eyes that I’d woken up to countless mornings. Her fur was soft and she seemed more comfortable than I had seen her all week, or perhaps several weeks. Haley & I had some agreements though, and she was letting me know. My loud complainer had barely made a peep since we had put her in the car and brought her into the emergency vet clinic. Her weight was down to 3.8 pounds, and her fight was gone. Just one day earlier, she was being her sassy self at the vet’s office. How could this change so suddenly? But it did, and it wasn’t a complete surprise when her blood work showed her “off the charts” for every kidney related indicator. We had to let her go. It was time to say goodbye.

Farewell, sweet Boo. I imagine you and Joni back together in a cat puddle embrace. Perhaps now Comet annoys you less. You, little kitty, big presence, have left an indelible paw print on my heart.



Hello Stranger

I’ve neglected the blog project and in turn neglected the gratitude project. Oh how easily we slip into old habits. In my defense, I haven’t abandoned the attitude of gratitude completely but without my daily recording, it has slipped. I have road rage, I get bitchy on the el and with Dan, and Haley is flabbergasted that I don’t thank her every day for our 18 years together (her insistent pooping on the rug isn’t helping). It’s silly because there’s an abundance of things to be grateful for right now, and I’m focusing on my old lady cat’s poop. So, I’m going to employ the most random and short way of catching up on what I’m grateful for as of late. Listed in no particular order (try to keep up)…
Gardening and Greensgrow, new attempts at making things grow, animals especially wild ones that let me gape at them in the zoo, my own personal zoo date, builder of raised beds, and griller of duck, old lady cat turning 18, drinking beer in beautiful spring weather, watching friends pay bocce in same weather, bike commutes, early morning gym time, freshly prepared at home juice, the increasing quality of produce, a slamming charcuterie CSA, a mother’s day gift that I’m feeling good mom will love, and an impending anniversary weekend in the mountains. There’s more, but all my gratitude is starting to sound a tad braggy. The point is LIFE IS AWESOME, even if my cat poops on the rug once in a while.

Heavenly Body

To most women out there, it won’t come as a surprise when I say that my body and I have had a rocky relationship. Why can’t you be thinner, stronger, shapelier, go longer, faster, and just be perfect, body? We spend so much time cursing our bodies for letting us down that we completely forget how much our bodies do for us. My body is my ultimate partner in crime. My body learned to stay up on skis as a wee child, dance my way through adolescence into the nightclubs, run 13.1 miles multiple times (when it’s built for strength not speed), competed in roller derby for 5+ years, and, now, swing kettlebells and hike mountains (I have not yet attempted both at the same time). Who am I to criticize a body who has allowed me so many amazing life experiences?! But I have, and it’s been that way for most of my life. Until now. It took nearly 38 years, but I have found a deep appreciation for my body. And you know what has happened?  My body is doing more than it could. A little love and appreciation goes a long way, and the one body I get in this life journey deserves it. Thank you, body for taking the abuse and bringing us to where we are today. I look forward to our future adventures.

Equinox rox

I promise that, though I’ve neglected the blog, I am not forgetting to work at living in gratitude. With the official arrival of Spring, gratitude comes easily. Unlike the artificial new year resolution crap, Spring is the natural time for new life. Nature bursts with it and inspires us to find our own fresh starts. We clean, start new projects, and embark on things we just can’t imagine doing under a blanket of snow. For me, some of this is returning to beloved old ways such as the bike commute. I love my biking commute. No other commute earns anything close to love (more colorful words are reserved for other forms of commuting). Soon, I’ll be working on my tiny garden space in my quest to create an urban oasis outside our back door. I’m eager for the al fresco dining season to begin, and I’m certain Dan & I will finally drink more of his homebrew when we can do so on our patio glider. Truly, Spring is synonymous with gratitude.  Thank you Spring for your season of new beginnings, and even your rain is welcome, as I am hopeful for my best gardening year ever.

The wisdom of Yogi Tea


Yogi tea is a favorite of mine, and I make a habit of reading the teabag wisdom as soon as I open a new one. I referred to the “live in your strength” but of wisdom in another post. The Universe has a sense of humor, or so it would appear by my receipt of such meaningful messages…on commercially produced and sold teabags. The point being made is I started to wander away from the daily gratitude practice, and here is this big reminder of why I must not.
I shared this with Dan at dinner, and it prompted me to ask him what he is grateful for. In a nutshell that doesn’t do his words justice whatsoever, he has gratitude for us having the means and living in a country so we’re able to do as we wish. His words on his gratitude helped expand my view on the attitude of gratitude. I am moving to living in gratitude. This is not nearly as easy as stating gratitude on a daily basis, so I’m going to start asking more people about their gratitude. The more gratitude, the more opportunities. So, yeah, tell me what you’re thankful for, or expect me to ask next time we talk. Today, I give thanks to thanks itself.


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