What Animals Can Teach Us

     Yesterday, my cat, Johnny Bear, got outside. Now, he is an indoor cat and has been his entire one year of life. He went out of my apartment door, down half a flight of steps, through the posts on a railing, and out onto a slanted, black metal roof. Have you ever heard a cat scream in terror and pain? It is an awful sound. And I keep reliving that moment over and over again. My poor cat was basically stuck in a rain gutter and then trying to climb up a hot metal roof. He tried twice, and that’s when I ran inside to get a blanket. What I was going to do with that blanket hadn’t been figured out yet, but it seemed like a reasonable action at the time. When I ran back outside, he was gone!

     Don’t worry, he somehow managed to get off the roof and was trying to get in a neighbor’s apartment on the floor below me. When I finally brought him inside, he was still making some horrible sounds. I felt terrible! He didn’t want me to even look at his paws. But they were different variations of red, wrinkled, and blistered.

     The point of me sharing this horrible event is that I think I was more emotionally damaged than my cat. He is usually very active, but he spent most of the day sleeping. He did get up a few times to eat, so I have to believe he is feeling ok despite what happened, and that he is in pain. Me on the other hand. I was anxious and wanted to cry all day. I kept wanting to cuddle with him, but he couldn’t care less about cuddling, he just wanted to do his own cat things.

     One time, I cut my dog’s nail too short and she started bleeding. I had the same reaction then too. What I’ve learned from both of these occasions, after much sulking and feeling sorry for my pets, is that they aren’t mad or sad or emotionally hurt. They understand that what happened was an accident, and they forgive and let it go.

     I think we can learn a lot from this animal trait. I believe it has something to do with how animals just live in the moment. If they feel hungry, they eat; if they feel tired, they sleep. If they are stuck on a roof, they try to get to a place of safety. When their paws are blistered, they lick them and get the dead skin off. They aren’t mad at themselves or anyone else. They just deal with the situation in front of them. When that is dealt with, they move on to the next thing.

     My animals have the best life. They get to sleep whenever they want, which is usually most of the time. They always have food available. They get to exercise and play. Sometimes though, they have to stay home alone for an extended period of time. They have to get bloodwork done and teeth cleanings at the vet’s office, and believe me, my animals believe the vet’s office is the worst place in the entire world!  But when we get home, everything is fine again. We go on our walks and watch tv and play, and the world is great again.

     So why do I spend so much of my day thinking about the past and what I could’ve or should’ve done differently? Why do I worry about the future so much? When I spend all of my time worrying or ruminating, I can’t enjoy today for what it is. I might miss out on an experience that would make me happy.  What if Johnny Bear might cuddle with me, but I miss that moment because I’m so stressed and he doesn’t want to bother with me?

     From today on out, I’m going to try to be more like my animals. I’m going to try to forgive myself for anything I am anxious about. I’m going to try to forgive other people since I can’t control what they do. I’m going to forgive my dog, Jodi, when she goes in the garbage and trails it all over my apartment. I’m going to forgive Johnny Bear for waking me up at 4 am because he wants some attention. After I forgive, I’m going to make myself present for focusing on what needs to be done next. I will do things that make me happy, help others any way I can, give Johnny Bear the attention he wants, and clean up the trash and play with Jodi. After I do that, who knows! I’ll just do what I need to do to make myself feel satisfied with life. I’m curious to see what happens.

Her dream job is to be a princess, but for now, she sticks with being a scientist who has a big imagination. Melissa is from Scranton, Pennsylvania and currently calls Nashville, Tennessee her home. Her family is her life. She loves her dog, Jodi, and her cat, Johnny Bear. Oh, and she is reading the Harry Potter books for the first time, and she thinks they are amazing!

Love Yourself First

“Make sure you secure your oxygen mask before assisting others.”

We’ve all heard these words before, but they don’t just apply to oxygen masks on airplanes.

My version is “Make sure you love yourself before helping others.”

Today, I compared myself to other bloggers. “I’m not as creative. I’m not as good a writer as everyone else. No one is going to care what I have to say.” And my favorite, “I only got 0 comments and 6 likes.”

STOP IT RIGHT NOW, MELISSA.

Phew.

Okay, Melissa, you are a smart, thoughtful, caring and loving person. You have a good job, a loving family and the best pets. You have amazing hair! You are funny and have a big imagination. You influence the people around you in a positive way. You have succeeded in life even though it hasn’t always been easy. You have grown so much over the past few years, and I am proud to call you, ME!

That’s better.

Now I want everyone reading this to try that.

As humble humans, it can feel uncomfortable to praise ourselves. If any of you are like me, I can give out compliments all day. But I usually forget to tell myself that I’m awesome too.

The fact that our society and social media have made it so easy to negatively compare ourselves to others (even though we know nothing about the circumstances behind the photo or video we see online) has changed the way we view ourselves.

You all know what I mean.

You also know it’s unhealthy.

And honestly, who cares about the number of likes. That should not be a defining characteristic of who we are.

So my first piece of advice to me, is to start loving myself. Stop comparing myself to others. That includes negatively and positively. Because everyone has a story, a different story, and they are all unique and awesome.

Go give yourself a hug and a pat on the back. Then go do something that makes you feel good. You deserve it. You are amazing.

And don’t forget to love yourself.

Her dream job is to be a princess, but for now, she sticks with being a scientist who has a big imagination. Melissa is from Scranton, Pennsylvania and currently calls Nashville, Tennessee her home. Her family is her life. She loves her dog, Jodi, and her cat, Johnny Bear. Oh, and she is reading the Harry Potter books for the first time, and she thinks they are amazing!

You might as well enjoy the ride

I believe one of the most difficult things we deal with as human beings is beginning something new. The transition into a new routine from one that is comfortable and relatively stable, can be frightening and nerve wracking on top of being down right hard. We’ve all been through changes like graduating high school and beginning college or a career, moving to a new place, or getting married and starting a family. Some of us have had to learn how to continue living without someone we’ve loved, whether that be due to a break up, a falling apart, a divorce or a passing. Some changes can be small things like learning a new skill, taking on a new hobby, or making a new friend. Regardless of how our life changes, it is good to reflect back on how you got to where you are now. I believe it is the journey through the tough times that defines each of us.

I’ve had a very big transition over the past few years. I moved to a new city so that I could give myself a better future. It was one of the most difficult times of my life. But I never gave up, and I believe the transition is finally over. What I mean by this is I spent five years working as hard as I could to finish school, start a career, get my credit score up, make new friends, and afford a nice apartment. I don’t think I would be who I am today if I didn’t decide to change my life the way I did when I did. The most important thing this journey taught me is that I can do whatever I put my mind to. It’s funny to think about how my mother always told me this, but I needed to prove it to myself before I truly believed her.

I think my next transition is into a phase of life where I concentrate on me. I’ve learned a lot about myself lately, like how my personality affects others and how yoga and meditation affect my body and mind. I’ve also started allowing myself to have fun and enjoy things, and not worry about who’s watching. For example, I started taking ballet classes two weeks ago. I haven’t taken a formal dance class in over twelve years, and I am twenty weeks behind the rest of the class. The me from a few years ago would be mortified at the thought of having no idea what she was doing and twirling around like a preschool ballerina. The me today, however, knows that I will get the hang of it eventually and I am allowed to enjoy myself because there is only one journey to being a ballerina in adulthood, so I might as well enjoy the ride.

Her dream job is to be a princess, but for now, she sticks with being a scientist who has a big imagination. Melissa is from Scranton, Pennsylvania and currently calls Nashville, Tennessee her home. Her family is her life. She loves her dog, Jodi, and her cat, Johnny Bear. Oh, and she is reading the Harry Potter books for the first time, and she thinks they are amazing!
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