How are we doing?!

Fred taking an afternoon nap

I am very glad that I wrote a post, several days ago, about staying calm, peaceful, and enjoying holiday preparations, because it has given Jack the opportunity to say (multiple times), “Remember, you talked about doing this year differently Mary, and having a good time instead of getting stressed out.”

I was headed upstairs to vacuum and mop the hallway (where the kitty beds are) yesterday and saw Fred sleeping with his head sticking out of one of the cubes. It stopped me in my tracks. I love this cat. He is the epitome of flexibility; if the cube is too small, sleep in part of it. No big deal. I decided to take a picture of him to share with you today, instead of mopping that hallway.

Sending you all blessings of peace and happiness and fun…and if you get a little nutty, we here at White Feather Farm will love you anyway!

A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same“. Elbert Hubbard

44 thoughts on “How are we doing?!”

  1. That picture actually brings tears to my eyes, along with your decision to not mop the hallway. Your cats are so wonderful because you and Jack love and honor them in their full beingness. I wish for you Ease of Fred for this weekend, Mary.

  2. Dearest Mary,
    Thank you again and again for your wise, inspiring, enlightening, enriching, and often humorous posts!

    Right now I’m thinking that Luke and Fred absolutely have the right take on life. Enjoy and relish the moment! which I will try mightily to emulate, especially during the next few days!

    I and my two kitties are greatly enjoying rhe beautiful cashmere quilt you made, (and I won), and I haven’t forgotten about sending a picture–I have a bit of a plan to accomplish that early into the New Year.

    Best, best wishes for a lovely Merry Christmas to your family and all of your White Feather Farm blog followers.

    Much love,
    From Fran

  3. I love the photo Mary!! I am having a “Fred” Christmas this year! I am celebrating the un-perfect this year and my limitations. I have done what I can and will do what is possible to have a reflective and meaningful time with my family. So what if my head is hanging out of the box? oxox

    1. An addendum: Last night, I was sitting peacefully writing Christmas cards, when getting ready for bed, noticed our much beloved cat Willow was not in the house – I called her and called her – with no response. Mustering up all within me to practice imagining the best possible scenario as opposed to the (default) worst scenario, I went to bed – woke around 3 am – still no sign of her….
      This morning when she still had not shown up, dark imaginings began to override my former attitude of trust…I called and called her, looked everywhere…. I told my daughter (who had been away over night) and she suggested checking her closet – which I did – no sign of her there, either. Just then, something told me to look in the drawer next to the closet- which was mostly closed. There was her sweet serene face. She was there all the time…..

      1. Thank you so much for your comments and story Lynne…you brought a smile to my heart, and reminded me of the stories of old that end with the conclusion that what we have been so frantically seeking has been in us all along.

  4. I’ve often gone up to make the bed and have found our two happily ensconced among the covers.I take a minute to rub their ears and then exit with the bed unmade. Life is good!

  5. You have a beautiful heart Mary! Thanks for sharing it! You may even open my door to the cat world w/ your sweet photos and explanations of their behavior. Your way of seeing Fred as the epitome of flexibility was such an ah ha to me this morning.. I so love it when I (or anyone for that matter), all of a sudden, see(s) things through a different light! This is all such a shift in perception..sort of like after shocks..
    I just have to share a cat story and more with you! Yesterday Lily (my Labrador) and I went to our Palliative visit where there are 2 cats. The black one decided it was going to announce “I am here” and jumped in my lap purring. Lily (who is not around cats!) was at the feet of her friend watching w/ me saying, “leave it” in a quiet..sort of stern voice.(yikes! in my heart!). I did place the cat on the floor..thinking this is really too much for Lily to take..Shame on me..Lily handled it all beautifully! The cat just moved to the bed and curled up. (just as you said about Fred..flexibility) Lily kept an eye on the bed….We love our visits! Such a loving, inspirational, and appreciative family. Her friend even had a big bone for her and chocolates for me and his son-in-law had applesauce from their trees, and his daughter had an embroidered dish towel for me… all with saying, “We so appreciate what you are doing.”.. My gracious…”I” appreciate what they are doing for Lily and for me! The BEST Christmas present!!

  6. Thanks Mary….

    doing less …being more….

    these new paths are not easy for me either…
    allowing the wisdom to trickle in …somedays one drop at a time…

  7. This is so sweeeet. So glad too that you took the time to capture the photo and enjoy the moment instead of mopping the hallway. 😉 And what a great name for a cat- love the name Fred! Merry Christmas, Mary!

  8. Mary, my goal is to be like Fred over the next couple of days as we travel from house to house! Our animals really do remind us to just slow down and…who really cares if you don’t fit in the cube, take a nap anyway! Merry Christmas to you Mary and to all the white feather farm bloggers as well.

  9. What a perfect picture to sum up your posts on “going with the flow,” Mary. Obviously, Fred has nailed it and is showing us how it’s done.

    For 2012, may we make all our various cubes comfortable, even if they don’t quite fit.
    God bless us, everyone!

  10. Love the pic and the fact that you didn’t wake him up to mop. Blessings and peace to you and yours. Many thanks to Jon Katz for suggesting your blog. It’s great!

  11. Good morning, Mary. What a great reminder to relax, breathe, and let it go. There is often so much emotional “baggage” surrounding the holidays that many of us get caught up in that and forget what’s important.

    My wishes to all who meet here for peace, joy, love, and laughter during this beautiful season.

    Merry Christmas!

  12. A cat picture is always better than a mopped floor. I work on the same system.

    Enjoy your Christmas season and thanks for all the inspiration and encouragement,


  13. Love this!!! Fred’s a real pro at acceptance and joy… like so many animals are!. When I grow up I want to be just like him.
    Merry Merry.

  14. I have to tell you something Mary, one of my kittens, our Bootsey was sleeping in one of the dome cat beds here the same way, so cute and that was just the other day. These little instances to me bring through the special times that make our day. Just leave it to a kitten or cat to do something cute to touch our hearts, God is so good to us in this way, many times it takes our minds off other things in our life that might be bothering us. Hope I explained myself right here. God bless you, Jack, your hubby, family and your dear furry kids during this Blessed Season.

  15. Fred knows how to enjoy life! I got my friend Gerry’s cat, Percival Pennington Cat, one of those cubes and he loves it. I have seen him sleeping with his head out (Percival not Gerry) just like Fred does. Cats are amazing. Thanks for the photo Mary. Sending you blessings of peace and happiness back!

  16. It’s unanimous, then: Sleeping pets trump mopped floors. And, of course, if they’re sleeping in your lap, you can’t get up to answer the phone. Or, really, do anything else. Except read. Or take a nap yourself.

    I just got up. Why I am suddenly so sleepy?

  17. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the pictures of your animals…you’ve got the “eye,” snapping away at just the right moment. Merry Christmas…I hope you have a lovely holiday with your family. You’ve enriched my life. XO

  18. Wow, 24 responses and it’s barely 9 a.m. in Arizona. I think Fred’s got a Fan Club going! He certainly is the Poster Boy for Peace on Earth and an inspiration to us all to put down the mop, light a candle, sip some tea, and enjoy these coming days. I wish every one of you a blessed Christmas Eve, Day and love in all the days to come. White Feather Farm shines bright in my heart. Thank you Mary for the light you have lit in us all. What a special year this has been gathering here in the morning, one and all.

  19. There is nothing like our animal friends to help us keep our priorities straight! Fred is one lucky cat but then Luke and all the rest also have a very comfortable life. The love we show to our animals can only make us better people. Thank you for all your insightful essays throughout the year. You make me a better person. Have a blessed Christmas and new year.

  20. You have such a loving and open heart and I thought you would enjoy the following: (a little long and well worth the read.)

    Cheyenne – Story by Catherine Moore

    “Watch out! You nearly broadsided that car!”
    My father yelled at me. “Can’t you do anything right?”

    Those words hurt worse than blows. I turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn’t prepared for another battle.
    “I saw the car, Dad. Please don’t yell at me when I’m driving.”
    My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than
    I really felt.
    Dad glared at me, then turned away and settled back. At home I left Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect my thoughts…. dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil. What could I do about him?
    Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon . He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions, and had placed often. The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that attested to his prowess.

    The years marched on relentlessly. The first time he couldn’t lift a heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day I saw him outside alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever anyone teased him about his advancing age, or when he couldn’t do something he had done as a younger man.

    Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. An ambulance sped him to the hospital while a paramedic administered CPR to keep blood and oxygen flowing.

    At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky; he survived But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone.. He obstinately refused to follow doctor’s orders. Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned, then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone.

    My husband, Dick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would help him adjust.

    Within a week after he moved in, I regretted the invitation. It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated and moody. Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on Dick We began to bicker and argue.

    Alarmed, Dick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appointments for us.. At the close of each session he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad’s troubled mind.
    But the months wore on and God was silent. Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it.
    The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that answered in vain.
    Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, “I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article…”

    I listened as she read. The article described a remarkable study done at a nursing home. All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog.

    I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens. Each contained five to seven dogs Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs all jumped up, trying to reach me.
    I studied each one but rejected one after the other for various reasons: too big, too small, too much hair. As I neared the last pen a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the dog world’s aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed.
    Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray. His hip bones jutted out in lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes that caught and held my attention. Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly.

    I pointed to the dog. “Can you tell me about him?” The officer looked, then shook his head in puzzlement. “He’s a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the gate We brought him in, figuring someone would be right down to claim him. That was two weeks ago and we’ve heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow.” He gestured helplessly.

    As the words sank in I turned to the man in horror. “You mean you’re going to kill him?” “Ma’am,” he said gently, “that’s our policy. We don’t have room for every unclaimed dog.”

    I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited my decision. “I’ll take him,” I said. I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me. When I reached the house I honked the horn twice. I was helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the front porch. “Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!” I said excitedly.

    Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust. “If I had wanted a dog I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don’t want it” Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned back toward the house. Anger rose inside me. It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples. “You’d better get used to him, Dad. He’s staying!”

    Dad ignored me. “Did you hear me, Dad?” I screamed. At those words Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with hate. We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him. Then slowly, carefully, he raised his paw…
    Dad’s lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw. Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently. Then Dad was on his knees hugging the animal.

    It was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. Dad named the pointer Cheyenne . Together he and Cheyenne explored the community. They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on the banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They even started to attend Sunday services together, Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly at his feet.

    Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable throughout the next three years. Dad ‘s bitterness faded, and he and Cheyenne made many friends. Then late one night I was startled to feel Cheyenne ‘s cold nose burrowing through our bed covers. He had never before come into our bedroom at night. I woke Dick, put on my robe and ran into my father’s room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene. But his spirit had left quietly sometime during the night.

    Two days later my shock and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad’s bed.. I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Dick and I buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the help he had given me in restoring Dad’s peace of mind.

    The morning of Dad’s funeral dawned overcast and dreary. This day looks like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the aisle to the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church. The pastor began his eulogy. It was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his life. And then the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”

    “I’ve often thanked God for sending that angel,” he said.

    For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article… Cheyenne ‘s unexpected appearance at the animal shelter… his calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father… and the proximity of their deaths. And suddenly I understood. I knew that God had answered my prayers after all.

    Life is too short for drama or petty things, so laugh hard, love truly and forgive quickly. Live while you are alive. Forgive now those who made you cry. You might not get a second chance.

    And if you don’t send this to anyone — no one will know. But do share this with someone. Lost time can never be found.

    God answers our prayers in His time… not ours…

    1. At 3.30 in the morning this story brought me peace so that I could get back to sleep after worrying a family situation – the message God will send my son an angel came to me and I was able to get back to sleep, and this morning I have a much better perspective. Thank you so much.

    2. Frances, what a beautiful gift this story is to all of us. And in its own way, it gave me an answer to a decision I’ve been plagued with. I can’t thank you enough for sharing this…not to mention the time it took you to type it all in!

      I hope all of the blessings this story brought to whomever needed them, will come back to you tenfold. Today, YOU turned out to be the angel.

  21. Mary,
    Thanks for all the wonderful posts. Luke with the ice cream is so funny my husband and I laughed until we cried. That’s something I would do to him with our dog.
    May a mountain of blessings come your way this Christmas!

    1. Thank you for letting me know that Jeannie! Sending warm and loving Christmas blessings your way!

  22. Mary – Flexible is the word this Christmas! And lucky for me, when I start feeling tense, I rub some of your wonderful Skin Survival Balm on my temples and it restores the balance. Have fun with your kids and Jack and your clever four-legged family members! I opened the freezer to get some ice cream for my husband last night and started laughing. He thought I was nuts until I told him about Luke and Jack. Merry Christmas to you and all the other great friends who share their comments on your blog!

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