The Things We Fear That Probably Won’t EVER Happen

If you are a life-long worrier like I am, you may be up nights tossing and turning, trying to keep the “what if this happens?” out of your head. Myself, I have a long and scary list of things that might happen. My fears at one point became so strong that I often made up excuses to stay home.

So what are some of the common fears? Here are some of mine:

  • That we come home to find that the house has burned to the ground.
  • That we get some serious straight line winds that causes our big maple tree (which has been close to the house and minding its own business for decades) to uproot and crash through the roof.
  • That thieves find a way to break into our house and, in taking off with our stuff, leave the doors open and all our cats get out! (This is the scariest one for me.)
  • That there will be a *terrorist attack near us, causing us to have to move down to the basement for weeks at a time.
  • That the Crankee Yankee and I die in a car accident, and no one will be there to take care of our cats (no, THIS is the scariest one for me!!)
  • That one of those tremendous spiders (from Australia; the kind that are large enough to easily cover the side of a house) is smuggled in to the country and it ends up in our neighborhood.
  • That someone will go on a shooting rampage in our neighborhood. (This of course would have to be a stranger since we have very nice neighbors.)
  • That I get up in the night and step bare-footed in fresh cat vomit (this has actually happened).
  • That I get up in the night and step on a giant fiddler crab. Or a lobster. Or a giant jellyfish.

And so it goes; from the ‘could happen’ to ‘might happen’ to ‘oh, stop it—you KNOW that this isn’t ever going to happen!’ I’m sure that lots of people have these random crazy fears, too. So—how do we get over these scary “what if” fears? First of all, I have read over and over again that our worst fears rarely come to pass.

Second, I am a big believer in angels, and I feel that we all have one or two that watch over us. When I get so worried that I can’t sleep, I call upon the Big Guy, the Heavenly Bouncer, the Kicking Butt and Taking Names angel; Archangel Michael. This is the angel you want when you need results. I picture him keeping watch over me and my over-active imagination, and painlessly but thoroughly sqeegeeing all those ridiculous fears and worries out of my head until there isn’t a trace of them left.

And, as he finishes up, he would probably say: “C’mon now, you know better than this; NONE of this stuff is going to happen. Relax.” And somehow, I feel better.

Whatever works, I say.

*However, we have loads of bottles of water, easy-to-open cans of food (both human and feline), chairs, books, a deck of cards, a battery-operated radio, flashlights, etc. Just in case.

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Being Happy in Our Own Skin

I am very happy to see so many “body positive” people these days. Perhaps we can finally take a deep breath and love ourselves for who and what we are. When we can look at ourselves and see beauty, knowledge, grace, kindness and love for ourselves, we will have set ourselves free. We can be our worst critics or our loudest cheerleaders.

We women especially are so hard on ourselves. It is all too easy to bemoan the fact that we aren’t the cute young things we used to be. Well, so what? How about celebrating the amazing women that we are now? Wise women do not start off that way in their youth; wisdom is learned by mistakes and experiences.

How wonderful it is to see women of all ages relax into themselves, and be who they are meant to be. Short, tall, large, small, black, white, educated, uneducated, married, single, mothers and grandmothers and aunts and women of a certain age—we all are amazing in our own ways.

I could look at myself at my age and bemoan the fact that I am no longer young and pretty. Or, I could look at myself at my age and celebrate all that I am, all that I have learned and am learning, and be happy and content. Being older is a wonderful thing; no longer do I feel any competition with anyone anymore.

Recently I bought a lovely purple summer sleeveless dress. I actually look pretty good in it, too. Of course my upper arms aren’t what they used to be, but it’s not like I’m growing wings, either. I’m pretty sure that no one is going to run off screaming because they looked at my upper arms.

In the end, who really cares? A very smart woman once told me this: “If you fall down, get right back up again, smiling. People will look at you and think, ‘she fell, but she doesn’t look like she did; did she really?’ Nothing is more beautiful than confidence, and we “wise women” have plenty of it.

Let’s own who we are and let our freak flags fly!

 

Grace

Grace, like hope, is ‘a thing with feathers’

That floats into our lives when we need it most—

When things happen that are beyond our control,

Grace is there, waiting in the wings.

When we are at our lowest point,

And fear our darkest fears,

When our worries render us helpless—

Grace is there, waiting to soothe.

Grace is as big as the ocean and as small as a ladybug.

Grace comes to us unbidden,

But always when we need it.

 

Cat Exercises

No, I am not speaking about exercises for cats, but the exercises we do because of the cats. Years ago we started with one cat, Nala, a female torti-tiger cat who had come from a home with a kitten and a dog, neither of which she got on with. She spent most of her life hiding down in the basement, nervous and scared.

So when we took brought her home, she slowly acclimated to the house and our routines. She was happy, healthy, and best of all; comfortable. A year or two went by, and I happened to read online about one shelter’s “desperate house cats.” These were cats that had been in the shelter for six months or more, and badly needed homes.

There was a picture of all the volunteers, each holding a “desperate house cat.” One all-black cat caught my eye. In the picture, he was looking straight at the camera as if to say, “you’re the one; please come get me!”

So I took my best friend with me, and I brought Pookie home. Surprisingly, he and Nala got along quite well. It wasn’t long before the Crankee Yankee and I started feeding the stray cats we saw every day. During the winter time, we put up shelters for them all, and fed them daily.

As winter turned to spring, we noticed that our “frequent fliers,” a stout long-haired black and white “tuxedo” cat, and a large orange tiger cat, showed no signs of having homes. Eventually Plumpy and Tinker became part of our family.

My parents had a cat named Bailey (the only beige cat I’ve ever seen), and I promised them that we would take him when the time came. Mom died December 16, 2015, and Dad took over Bailey’s care. Two years later, he could no longer take care of Bailey, so we took him home with us. Just a few months later, Dad moved in with us. He died peacefully on April 22, 2017.

So where does the cat exercise come into play? Here’s how it goes: we feed them at certain times and they are used to the routine. (In fact they start giving us dirty looks when feeding time starts to come round.) Each cat has their own bowl, and they know which bowl is which.

Since we know the cats and their habits so well, we are aware of the ones who gobble up their own food, and try to eat the other cats’ leftovers. So that means we are up and down, checking on who ate what and when. If one cat is playfully chasing another, and the chasee is not in the mood to play, we break it up. If one cat wants to sleep where another cat is already sleeping, we get him interested in something else.

Bailey loves the sound of his own voice, and has decided that while we are all sound asleep, it’s the perfect time to start howling for no good reason. Seriously, there is never anything wrong, he just loves the sound of his own voice. So that means one of us has to get out of bed, bleary-eyed, and tell him to shut it.

Pookie had a nocturnal habit on a semi-regular basis: he locates a catnip mouse, carries it to his favorite corner, and then meows about it. He won’t stop until I get up, pat him on the head and tell him what a mighty hunter he is. (Seriously—he won’t lay off until I tell him this.)

And so it goes. Sometimes, not often, we actually get to sleep through the night. More often, we don’t. Cats being crepuscular (meaning ‘active at night’), they realy enjoy these nighttime pranks. We’ve gotten so used to it by now that we actually can get up, do what the cats want us to do, and then drop back into bed and fall asleep.

Let’s just say that they are giving us an active retirement….

 

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a whole lot harder than you would think. Forgiving and forgetting is even harder. When we are wounded by someone, it’s hurtful. Once we get over the hurt, we get angry. At this point, it’s really easy to slide into a sludge of resentfulness, self-pity, and righteous anger—and stay there.

It’s easy to hold a grudge because essentially we believe that we have been wronged, and how could that person say or do what they did to us? How do we forgive someone who has hurt us deeply?

It’s not easy, and it takes time. It means calling on our better angels to weigh what matters and what doesn’t. There are many I’ve known who will say, “I can forgive, but I can’t forget.” This is actually pretty common. Even when we don’t say these words, it’s hard to forgive—and forget.

I find that, the older I get, it’s just is a waste of time to not forgive. It creates a burden I don’t want or need, and righteous indignation only lasts so long. Case in point: my first marriage was a disaster. These days I fully recognize that I was every bit at fault as my ex-husband was. I used to hope that bad things would happen to him; thinking this way only made my anger and resentment worse.

Someone once said that hating someone is like drinking poison and hoping that it will kill the hated person. Hatred is a pretty corresive thing, and it can, given enough time, eat you alive. Who needs that?

These days when I think of my ex-husband, I see him as he really was: a fallible person, just like most of us. These days I wish for peace for him and hope that he has found a way to live that works for him. It’s been said that, once you have absolutely no feelings for someone who has hurt you, it’s over. Just like that; it’s over.

Forgiveness can set us free to live the kind of life we want and need. Forgiveness may be the hardest thing we’ve ever done, but it’s worth it. Forgiveness sets us free.

And let me end with this, just so you don’t think I’m some kind of saint who forgives and forgets all the time: karma is a bitch.

 

How About a Nice Glass of Shut-the-Hell-Up?

Years ago when my best friend came to visit me in Texas, we were walking through San Antonio’s River Walk, enjoying the sights and the people. We stopped to look at graphic t-shirts in a shop window, and were laughing about the one that read “Don’t Make Me Open Up a Can of Whup Ass on You!”

There had been a small gaggle of talkative women walking near us, and the lead talker never seemed to even take a breath. She just nattered on and on and on. My friend leaned close to me and whispered “she needs a nice glass of shut-the-hell-up!” I nearly wet my pants laughing, and those ladies never did stop talking. We both agreed that “How about a nice glass of shut-the-hell up?” would make a great t-shirt.

I’ve met people who can’t seem to stop talking, and you wonder how they can keep it up for so long. In my family, there was an uncle who could talk for hours. Just when you thought he was winding down, he would jump right into a new subject, and on he’d go. I used to wish that I could offer him a peanut butter and crazy glue sandwich.

I was once watching a documentary on small children all over the world and how they communicate with each other. What was most fascinating was that nearly every culture has know-it-alls, constant yappers, people who never seem to run out of breath, and so on.

However, most of the children established a sort of “wait your turn” mentality. I was watching a group of little British kids, and a few began talking over the others. One little boy seemed to have established himself as the master of ceremonies.

“One at a time!” he said in his little British voice. When they did not stop, he spoke louder: “Please! One at a time!” And believe it or not, they all stopped, and did take turns.

If only we adults could do the same!