a little touch can make all the difference

Olivia making herself at home next to me

Olivia next to me

Yesterday morning, I went for a walk on the beach and came back to my room leaving the door open. As I sat on the bed trying to write, Olivia (the owner’s cat) wandered in and made herself at home beside me. It almost brought me to tears.

I am not a great traveler. I always feel a little disoriented, especially during the first few days that I’m away from home. It is an odd, empty, lonely, feeling and it is there whether I am with people who I love or not,… and it’s compounded by the fact that I tend to forget this happens to me until I’m in the middle of it, so I’ll often think, “What is wrong with me? I feel terrible!” It reminds me of how I felt when I was 8 years old went to summer camp….and that first night when I just wanted to go home and be in familiar surroundings.

When Olivia walked into the room, I felt myself come to life. All negative thoughts vanished and were replaced with one which was, “I hope that she stays a while.” She did.

It it a mystery how such a small act of affection can bring me home again, to my heart. Sometimes it is a word from a stranger, a phone call, an email, or in this case, it was a cat snuggling up to me. ….life can at times feel lonely.

If you are feeling a little off, and would like to, please leave a comment.  Maybe we can’t snuggle up to you or give you a hug, but we can send one “through the ethers”…and I bet you will feel it!

“I’ve always thought a hotel ought to offer optional small animals. I mean a cat to sleep on your bed at night, or a dog of some kind to act pleased when you come in. You ever notice how a hotel room feels so lifeless?” Anne Tyler

39 thoughts on “a little touch can make all the difference

  1. Oh dear, Mary, I confess that I feel the same way as you do when I’m traveling somewhere. In fact, the older I get, the less I want to leave my home and my AussieDogs. It’s the thought also of having to get through airports and do something I don’t like doing, flying. On the other hand, my husband who traveled his whole working life, says getting on a plane is like getting on a bus; in fact, he used to say that he was just a truck driver in the sky (he was a commercial pilot).. He adjusts to wherever he is; I envy him. And then there is the breaking point, I adjust and don’t want to return home. Doesn’t make much sense to me.
    I’m glad you have a furry friend with you. They can be so comforting.

  2. I totally agree with the animal/hotel idea. Several years ago a friend & I were vacationing on one of the BVI islands. A local cat followed us to our room, slept with us every night and charmed & comforted us that week. We both had cats back in the States & missed their company. I’m always awed by the intuition animals possess. I’m always soothed by their presence. I send love & light to you, dear one. I so enjoy your blog & anticipate reading it w/a smile. You touch a special part of me.

  3. Sweet Olivia, she knew a kitty lover when she saw one.
    I have had a bit of an off week. My husband had a stroke 2 1/2 months ago, and while he’s making astounding progress, life has changed a lot. The crying spigot got turned on last week, there seemed to be too much pressure behind it to stay contained. It was a needed release, and I know again that “all will be well.” There was a period in my life when I wouldn’t cry, thought it indicated weakness. I no longer believe that. It’s releasing and cleansing and an acknowledgment of caring deeply. And sometimes there is just nothing like an all out nose honking bawl fest.

    • Yes, there is nothing like crying sometimes. I did my share this last coup,e of weeks and am starting to feel almost human again. Ill husbands are not a small thing. I will hold good thoughts 🙂

  4. Mary, I felt so disconnected in Sea World once when I was there by myself and going through a hard time. I was surrounded by thousands of people, but felt a pit of loneliness. I learned at that moment that loneliness is a state of mind. Leaving home can bring it on for me too, even if I’m not traveling alone.

    Sending you thoughts of comfort and wellness, surrounded by lights and love. Diane

  5. In my younger years, I would go out to party with my friends, and even though there was a room full people, I would feel so lonely. For me, there is no place like home here with my husband and our two kitties. Sending warm thoughts your way, Mary, enjoy your trip and home is waiting for you.

  6. Good day, Mary – you are in good hands, oooops, l mean paws…
    amazing how animals can zoom in on a person who needs comforting. We were staying at a hotel in Graz, Austria, and inside the hotel entrance was a huge cage (the door was open) that belonged to Joko, a grey parrot who welcomed guests before they even stepped up to the check-in desk. It was such an unexpected pleasure to meet Joko every time you stepped through the door, that the hotel became our favorite stopover. I have never really been exposed to these birds before and was a bit apprehensive, but he jumped on my hand and rubbed his beak on my nose (big beak, bigger nose!) and l slowly dared open my eyes to look at this magical being. We repeated the procedure several times during our stay.

    It sounds like you are in some sort of liminal space. Give yourself time, your home soul is still trying to catch up with your traveling body…patience (sigh)!

  7. Thank you for connecting the feeling to your summer camp experience. It made me look at the source of my discomfort. I was sent to boarding school starting in second grade before I turned Seven years old. I too find comfort with my cat.

  8. I have been feeling “off” so it’s nice to know that I just got some hugs and cuddles from the group – just “hearing” your voice via the blog brings me to a more centered, calm place. Hugs to all!

  9. I know how you feel Mary. I used to feel that way a lot of the time when I traveled for work. I’d stop sometimes and think ‘what am I doing here’? I love the excitement and adventure of travel, all of it…but it always feels so very good to get home. I guess we need that contrast…the comfort and routine and fitting in of home versus the adventure and the different rhythms of travel. Just remember Mary, you are loved from far and near regardless of where you lay your head tonight! Sending snuggles in pj’s…XOXO

  10. Dear Mary, I understand your feelings , it happens to me , I think it’s separation anxiety . Once I get used to new surroundings it’s better . I don’t have to be traveling these feelings can creep up on me at home . I think it’s a ” wave ” of realizing we are alone . I take it as a sign that I have strayed from my spirtual connection , because in that place I feel that I am not alone. I feel that your adventure is already physical and spirtual in nature, and that you are getting what you need. . Enjoy the wonders seen and unseen ! Xxo

  11. Mary,
    So many times when I am feeling off in anyway one of your blogs shows up in my email. I then know you and the Spirit working through you are coming to comfort me. I am hoping a huge THANK YOU for all you do, gives you the same comfort I have received so many times from you. Have an AMAZING adventure in NOLA!!!
    Blessing Jenn

  12. I love these comments! Thank you so much everyone for taking the time to write…I can feel your loving support and a very deep sense of connection to this loving community. Blessings to you all and hugs. I am imagining right now that I’m being tucked into my little bed with a kiss on the cheek. Love, Mary

  13. I haven’t been able to comment as often as I would like to for awhile, but oh this post touched my heart so deeply – the power of animals, our beloved pets and those we don’t even know but walk into our lives. I have been going back and forth 28 miles each way last five days to my younger son’s house to spend the night with his two dogs, as he is out of town, has been for over five weeks, but these last five days, his girlfriend is joining him on tour, and his female dog is too hyper to stay in Camp Bow Wow (yes, that’s really the name!) so I go back and forth leaving my own two dogs with my husband to dip into doggie depression! the minute I leave the door, to enter my son’s house where his two are ecstatic to see me. I treasure the quiet peace when I am at my son’s house and yet I know how much my own two are affected by my absence. We can’t even begin to know how much we mean to our animals and they to us. They are THE BEST! As to loneliness, I cherish the word solitude over loneliness, and hope that your time, Mary, in moments of solitude, with that precious entrance of a kitty unannounced, buoys your soul. As to feeling a little off, oh, I sure have felt that way sitting with my son’s dogs as the sun sets, thinking about my own. Feeling as a human, so tiny in the scheme of things, but knowing it was important to me and to my son and to these four dogs to trek back and forth, and in the middle of the night, Frankie, his male, puts his head on my heart and sleeps ’til dawn, – you know something you are doing, somewhere you are, it matters.

    • Susan, there are people who are not animal lovers and I can’t imagine how they manage. I take my two AussieGirls with me wherever I go, in the car, they have two crates (as Annie put the back window down and jumped out of the car one day…I was going slowly thank heavens). They are my best buds. So I know how you and others feel leaving the comforts of our home and furry friends who depend upon us for most everything in their lives. Psychologically, it might make a good study, but PFFFTT ! I love my dogs, they love me…that’s enough. I’m glad Mary found comfort in a small, warm furry cat.
      SandyP in still icy cold Ontario, Canada

  14. I have felt exactly as you described many times when away from home. . .(and, at times, also when at home). When you described Olivia’s effect on how you were feeling, it was palpably familiar. . .yes, such a mystery. . such a gift. Just want to send you my love, from my heart to yours. . .hope you feel it! Veronica

  15. I too feel indescribably lonely and isolated at times, so much so- that I’ve taken to long walks in the backcountry. . For some reason I feel better alone in nature, with my ever present companion dog , River with me. I trust him to let me know of danger, to hear for me, to help me find my way back. He loves running free and is a very obedient and smart little Aussie. I love to photograph the back country roads. You see, being home alone is what is hard for me. But I am comforted by your writing today , Mary. In that I don’t feel like the only one who experiences this feeling of loneliness and disorientation. I do work hard at trying to be comfortable and confident of myself in my aloneness . Susan Alcantara, thank you for the thoughtful use of the word solitude. It will help me to temper the feeling of aloneness . The next time I look into the Rocky Mountain spring sky, so full of fluffy white cumulus clouds this time of year, I’ll take a deep breath and think of the whitefeather friends . I’ll call River to me , he’ll come running as fast as he can, he’ll even jump into my arms for the sport of it, and I’ll be happy once again. Animals and nature and your postings, Mary -help so much …

    • Mary, – I came back to read today and there are 31 posts! I think you really touched a nerve in a good way, getting us to open up about feelings of loneliness that happen to all of us at some time or another. Bobbie, bless you and River! I have recently discovered the incredibly beautiful but rocky trails that go up into the Mc Dowell Mountain reserve where I live – recently discovered, even though I’ve lived here over ten years! I have always been an avid walker with my dogs, but stuck to easier routes for them (my male Dobie is now 14!) – these mountain trails are much harder – once I get up and into the canyon, there is not ONE sign that I am in the year 2014 but for the sound of airplane engines in the air. I am treading on rock thousands, millions! of years old. Instead of feeling tiny and insignificant, I just feel a timelessness that helps to put whatever may be troubling me into the perspective. It feels so good to simply move, one step at a time, like a walking prayer or meditation. It is the best time of day, and all free for the taking. I find great comfort if I am blue, just sitting on a rock, watching lizards scurry by on their lizard errands, – watching out of course for rattlers! one certainly noticed me too the other day and gave his warning all curled up ready to strike! Today I saw a Gila monster – don’t know why I’m rambling on and on. I’m just so grateful for this blog, and for all the dear souls that share here. Cheryl b.! that is awesome about the P.U.P.’s in airports! Hugs to all from Arizona.

  16. Mary, I have been thinking of you lately as we have adopted a stray kitten that was living in our wood shed. I remember when you rescued Eleanor and your story of holding her on your chest, as you coaxed her back to health. Tiger was not as bad off as Eleanor, but I still held him as much as I could the first couple of weeks. We have fallen asleep with his head nestled under my chin, and his little body close to my heart. It is so amazing to feel his loud purring vibrating, and see his sweet little face with such a peaceful expression. Peace and blessings, love, Robin

    • Victoria, I’m sorry you’re going through this sad time and sending you a cyber hug. Take it one day at a time, you never know what is just around the corner The best is yet to come. Deb.

  17. This is so wonderful Mary…i totally agree…i get the heebiejebbies the first few days of going anywhere…i am planning a trip next year after I have my knee surgery this summer…i hope it involves cats 🙂

  18. A virtual hug to all, especially to Victoria for whom I’ll bet something more wonderful is in store. I love to travel, but I have the period of adjustment where it seems as if everything is off. Mary, you put it so well. Sometimes I look back and think of the time I’ve wasted holding back (unlike my husband, currently trekking in Morocco, who jumps in 100%) and not feeling in the flow of the trip. But it is a process – like so much of life – and needs its own pace to feel right. Have a wonderful trip and enjoy Olivia (as she is clearly enjoying you).

  19. How did you know?! I have been feeling off because our son just moved 14 hours away and his birthday is this week and it is the first one we haven’t been able to celebrate with him. Hoping to take Jillie, the Dalmatian, and head his way in a couple of weeks, but that makes me feel so stressed because I am not a navigator. I love virtual hugs and it’s nice to know it’s not just me who has these feelings. It’s wonderful how Olivia knew you needed some serious cat attention!! XXX!!!

  20. Mary, your openness and raw honesty with your emotions helps me feel less alone. At times I feel so isolated in my feelings of vulnerability. I am working on accepting all my feelings as welcome guests, but my automatic go-to reaction remains- Why am I feeling this way… How can I make it stop…am now breathing into the fear, trying to stop running away from it. Thank you.

  21. Thanks Charlotte and Mary, although it is cold here in Pennsylvania I can feel the warmth of your thoughts. My cat Nelson is sitting here looking at me saying “what is the matter with you, you have me what else do you need?”

  22. You are getting a big hug from me today! I am so very happy that you were led to the special place with a resident cat. How great is that? You are loved and are just fine. Take care and keep in touch. I am hoping that this trip is going to be a very special one. But of course as Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home”. Vacations make us appreciate home and may be one of the benefits of leaving just to come back!

  23. Mary thank you for your honesty and reminder of the wonderful animal s that come in to our life.I will be traveling to las vegas and Yosemite and Sedona in October on a plane.I have not been on one since 911.I am afraid.Hopefully I can keep my mind centered as you have showed me.

  24. I’m sending you a virtual hug, Mary, although I think by now you’ve probably gotten all you need from Olivia.

    Stay strong and remember….your home and all the loves who live there, are “leavin’ the light on for ya. ” You have all that to go home to when your travels are over. Very sweet.

  25. On a personal level, sending a cyber circle of love and light.

    But on a larger scale, you’ve touched on a topic that receives far too little discussion. Airports in big metropolitan areas now have programs for therapy dogs that spend all day walking the airport terminals, giving all us ‘pet people’ a welcome stroke of fur and a moment of home. Whether it’s the Wag Brigade in San Francisco, wearing vests that read ‘pet me’ or P.U.P. [pets unstressing passengers] in L.A., we hopeless humans are finally realizing how animals bring us comfort deeper than we ever acknowledged.
    A woman who had be stranded for a 20 hour flight delay was visited by one such dog; her response, “Things will be OK, it’s all good now.”

    May a furry beast greet you at every destination!

    • Cheryl, at the risk of repeating myself here, what has struck me so much has been the feelings we all have felt and do feel in being alone even in a crowd of people. Can anyone explain why this is? You’d think after years of living, we’d know how to be best friends and nurture ourselves and yet, even though we may be comfortable within ourselves, we are still ‘pack’ animals…we need people and many of us need the companionship animals offer us. I have had dogs all my life. I would feel incomplete without them. I had not heard about the Wag Brigade or the P.U.P. dogs in LA but what a great idea.
      Sandy P.

    • Thank you so much Cheryl…and what a wonderful idea the Wag Brigade is…just thinking about it makes me feel warm and filled with love.

  26. Great quote at the end of the blog! I noticed as our three kids one by one moved out, how one of our two cats would take over the space and give it life! I really miss a cat on the bed at night when we travel and will sometimes think for a minute, that i feel them there.

    • Not only has this struck a surprising chord but it may be the basis of a book, Mary, looking at why people feel so vulnerable and alone within themselves and sometimes disconnected from those around them. .

  27. Mary, I hope your adventures are leaving no more room for loneliness, I’m sending light and love your way from my hotel room in Chicago.

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