Tag Archives: pet

Would I Volunteer When I Retire?

Ever since I turned 50, not a day passes that I don’t consider what I might want to do in retirement.

It is kind of funny because for the first half of my career, it was all about mentally preparing for the next work assignment and the next career step, hoping to strike to right balance between something I can be good at, something lucrative and sustainable, and something that will keep me happy.

At this stage in life, the hunt is still on, but not so much about the next career step as it is for activities I may be interested in pursuing in my next chapter.

Of course, there is no rush. As I suggested in my post about my retirement “gap year”, sleeping, recharging my batteries and writing for the fun of it will be my top activities in that first year. But at the same time, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking note of the activities that make me happy and which hold particular meaning to me.

Volunteering is one of those activities.

Much like with one’s career, I think it is very important to pitch in not only where the need exists but also to volunteer for causes that are close to one’s heart. In doing so, the time spent volunteering should be more fun and energizing rather than draining.

This is what I tried to explain to my dad many moons ago, when he objected to my volunteering just as I was launching my career. In retrospect, I certainly understand his point of view in that it was important to focus my full energy to my burgeoning career. But early on, there were days that I felt that my job was not tapping into my full potential, especially from a creative perspective.
That is why I was looking for other outlets. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Cats, Inspiring

How the Feline Barricade Saved Me from Myself

Shortly after the arrival of Ivy the Wonder Cat, when she started dropping her guard with me, it was a wonderful thing.

Those first few times that I was quietly watching TV only to find Ivy inconspicuously walking into my lap, plopping herself down and making herself comfortable, were heartwarming moments.

When trust and comfort conspired to become her naptime, I knew that I had succeeded in creating the right environment, that she was comfortable with me, and that we had truly bonded.

The only pitfall of that was getting locked into a couch or armchair and not being able to get up. I hated the risk of disturbing her peaceful sleep.

Fortunately, I caught on early and made sure that if I was sitting down with plans to watch TV for a while, to make sure I had gone to the bathroom first, had a beverage next to me, my remotes by my side and a pen and note paper, in case moments of creative inspiration should happen to strike me during my immobilization. Continue reading

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How the Cat Opened My Heart

I think it would be fair to say that I have always been a sensitive guy. Some might even say that is a bit of an understatement given that I have been known to cry at previews at the movies. It might be a bit inconvenient and a tad embarrassing, but I am quite comfortable being the guy for whom sympathy, empathy, compassion and joy run close to the surface.

To me, feelings remind us that we have blood coursing through our veins and that we are part of the human experience. It’s a wonderful thing.

But is it possible to become even more sensitive than that? You bet! And I have the cat to thank.

When I was planning and preparing for the adoption of my cat Ivy, almost two years ago, no one mentioned the many ways a pet can alter one’s range of emotions. What an unexpected epiphany!

I have accepted the fact that when she is waiting for me at the door when I get home from work, it’s likely not because she missed me, it is because it is feeding time. No delusions there.

But after she has filled her belly with her favourite catch of the day and starts following me around as I prepare dinner, that’s when I start sensing that she missed me. And of course, the feeling is mutual.

On a cognitive level, I have always understood the attachment between pets and their owners. Now, as a new pet owner, I also understand it with every fibre of my being.

It’s not like my heart needed much melting to begin with, but with Miss Ivy, it melts a little more each day with everything she “says” and does. She is a ten pound bundle of cuteness. Continue reading

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The Cat I Didn’t Take Home

It has been almost one year since I took home my beautiful cat Ivy and as you can see by the picture, she has made herself quite at home. Frankly, she is just about as perfect as she looks in the picture and I could not have asked for a better little friend.Ivy_Cat_May2016

Yet, I still feel bad when I think about the other cats I met during the “Cat Auditions” last spring. It feels so wrong to be thinking about other cats when I am petting Ivy, but I think it is natural to hope that they all found good forever homes.

One in particular has been on my mind a great deal, I met one day after work at a pet store near my office that carried pets for the Ottawa Humane Society. Just for a point of reference, let’s call her Gloria, even though that was not her real name.

When I got to the store, there was a dog and a dog owner in the store chatting with the two clerks, inquiring about a furniture “investment piece”. From my vantage point, the dog appeared to be a happy and friendly puppy, joyfully playing for her audience and soaking up all of the attention. But from that same vantage point, Gloria’s cage looked empty.

When the dog and his owner left, I asked the clerks where Gloria was. They walked me to the cage saying she was probably just hiding because the dog likely made her nervous.

Sure enough, once we got to the cage, a little head peeped out of the cardboard box in the cage, revealing gorgeous Gloria… but incredibly stressed Gloria as well.

Gloria was an older cat, 7 years old, with a story that tugged at my heartstrings. Continue reading

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Just Like Mom

Ivy_May2016This past year brought the arrival of Ivy the Wondercat into my life and whether I was aware of it or not, in becoming a first time pet owner I would also get my first taste at parenting. Also, whether I knew it or not, I was probably destined to take after one parent more than the other in terms of parenting style.

The first new months I think we can disregard as unrepresentative, as both Ivy and I were all over the map. Ivy was just getting used to her new fur-ever home and her new life as an indoor cat after being a stray, living a hard life on the streets for 9 months.

In return, I was overthinking and reading too much into her every action, and interrogating my friends and colleagues wondering if any slight misstep were potential signs of behavioural problems. Thank heavens for good friends to point out the obvious: that she was a cat, curious about her new surroundings, and just adjusting to her new life.

Just the same, whenever Ivy would jump on counters or the dining room table, I thought action was required on my part or else risk being stuck for 20 years with a cat with bad habits. I tried products and tricks to try to keep her off the counters including aluminum foil, a drop or two of lemon juice, shaking a can of coins. Nothing that would hurt her of course, but just to act as a deterrent. Yet she seemed relentless.

One day, she jumped on the dining room table while I was busy doing dishes. Without really thinking about it, I just slowly walked up to her on the dining room table, gently stroked behind her ears and sweetly asked, “What is it Sweetie? Is something wrong?” She immediately jumped off the table, ran downstairs and sat down by her little exercise ball. It ran out of kibble. Once I added more kibble to the ball, she was fine. That is all it took.

Hmmm…

The next time she was up on a kitchen counter, Continue reading

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