Self Care Sunday

I protect my free time on Sundays the same way a mama bear protects her cubs. If I agree to do something on a Sunday, it must be really important or I must really like the person who invited me.

The phrase “self care” sounds self indulgent but I’m not lazing around in a bubble bath all day. Instead, this day is reserved for certain household chores, laundry and preparing for the week as well as for more traditional self care efforts.

I respond well to structure and planning. I also respond well to rest and relaxation and to the sense of accomplishment that comes with a well spent Sunday.

This is what I seek on an average Sunday:

Wake up naturally. The is the only day out of seven that I am not ripped from my sleep by an alarm and then forced to leave the house. This simple act feels decadent.

Eat well. Breakfast is normally a really good smoothie with peanut butter on toast. This is my normal daily breakfast but on Sunday there’s time to actually enjoy it. I aim for healthful foods on this day because there are no excuses when there’s time to cook.

Be enlightened. I typically watch CBS Sunday Morning, a magazine show that covers lifestyle, history, current affairs, entertainers and almost anything else the folks at CBS can dream up. Sometimes I kick up my feet and watch but some weeks just listen while doing chores. Much of what they cover doesn’t sound at all interesting in advance but I nearly always enjoy the stories and learn something.

Do laundry. Starting the week with an empty hamper ensures that whatever I want to wear is clean and there are plenty of clean towels. I typically put together some outfits to choose from including scarves and other accessories to save time on work mornings. Also, the bed sheets are always changed on Sunday because there is nothing more decadent than clean sheets.

Meal prep. Grocery shopping usually happens on Saturday or maybe Friday after work. On Sunday, I cook a few things to make weekday meals easier. This is the ideal day to experiment with new recipes or to make things that require more time. Soups that need time to simmer or beans that take hours to cook are good candidates. Homemade granola always happens on Sunday too.

Sweat. At some point, I like to break a sweat. This typically happens on the treadmill or maybe with an exercise dvd. This is followed by a hot shower and clean pjs. That’s right, I wear pajamas all day. Judge me all you like but it makes me happy.

Work the brain. This means that I kick up my feet and curl up with Scout to read, journal, do crosswords or catch up on other things that give my brain opportunity to stretch.

Embrace the quiet. Soft music, smart stuff on tv and plain old silence are important to this introvert. It allows me opportunity to calm my mind and mentally prepare for the week ahead.

Whatever I please. Real work always comes first so that the last half of the day can be devoted to whatever I feel like doing. Sometimes this means decluttering a drawer because this makes me happy. Sometimes I process pictures, write a blog post or watch a movie. If I’ve been too busy to keep up with housekeeping it often makes me happy to do some chores. It really just depends on what I’m in the mood to do.

Rest. Going to bed early on Sunday sets a good tone for the rest of the week. I love to take a book to bed early and then wake up feeling good on Monday.

In short, everything I do on Sunday is aimed toward improving quality of life during the work week and making myself healthy and well.

It’s not a bad way to live.

Do I feel like I’m missing out on something by basically hibernating one day a week? Not on your life. I feel stronger and happier for it.

The weeks when I skip my routine are harder weeks. The simple acts of staying fed and clothed take longer and eat up valuable time that could be used for fun, rest, exercise or basically anything else.

It’s not that I can’t function without my Sunday routine, it simply makes life more pleasant and easier.

Clearly, this wouldn’t work so well for someone with kids or a significant other. This is one benefit of being on my own and I am milking it for all it’s worth.

Scout and the Christmas Tree

Having a rambunctious little cat has changed my life in ways I cannot begin to describe. But one thing I can describe is how it has changed Christmas. Years past saw a tree in nearly every room but that won’t be happening with an eight month old kitten.

He’s a good little cat and doesn’t get into a lot. Yet he’s still a kitten and all those fun things hanging off it would be tempting.

I plotted for weeks to design a tree situation he couldn’t knock down while climbing and swinging. Just when I thought I was ready for anything, he threw a curveball.

Turns out, he’s not interested in climbing so much as chewing on the pine.

He loves to chew on artificial pine. While it seems that he’s just chewing and not eating it, I don’t trust that he won’t try. And this is a chance I’m not prepared to take.

So there’s just one tree in my house this year (behind a closed door) and it’s devoted to my adventures. It’s my travel tree. I wrote all about it last year but, in a nut shell, I collect ornaments from my adventures. Each ornament is hung with a postcard that relates a trip memory.

Most of my ornaments aren’t real Christmas ornaments and I like it that way. There’s a stuffed jackalope bank from Douglas, Wyoming and a small metal airplane to mark my first biplane ride this year.

There’s a vintage snowman found at an Indiana antique store during last year’s antiquing adventures across the National Road. I even have a pennant from the Ernest Tubb Record Store in Nashville and a small handmade quilted piece from Ocracoke Island.

The list goes on and on and each ornament evokes countless memories – both happy and bittersweet. One new ornament represents the daily adventure of having Scout in my life.

The tree is now up and Scout gets supervised playtime in that room. So far he has only tried to chew and has batted at a couple of low hanging ornaments. I’m hoping he will outgrow that chewing thing and that next Christmas will be back to normal.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested, Click here to read last year’s description of the travel tree. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to start a new tradition of your own!

Scout and the Art of Compromise

Scout and I are working on our relationship.

He likes to chew on artificial pine, climb to the highest point in any room and knock off of every surface anything not nailed down. I like going home to find things where I left them and love the idea of not having a cat that swings from light fixtures like a little monkey.

So we’re going to compromise. We’ll do things his way.

For real guys, there is no compromise with a cat, especially an eight month old kitten with the playfulness of a baby and the strength of a small tiger.

He’s my little panther.

I lost him the other night. Searched the entire house until making it to the laundry room where I heard a faint jingle. And then up popped his little head!

Like a jack–in-the-box!

He’s cute, right? Of course, I didn’t think he was so cute the previous night when he was knocking vintage items off the top of my kitchen cabinets like a little maniac.

But he is a cat and cats weren’t designed to be down low. They are tiny little killing machines meant to climb high, hide stealthily, sharpen their claws and do as they please.

So instead of trying to stop what I call bad behavior, the new goal is to provide alternate opportunities.

Can you tell I work in marketing? I’m pretty good with a positive spin if you give me a minute to think it through.

So he wants to be up high? I’ve made the top of the linen closet comfortable for him. It’s the highest structure in the bathroom so he can survey his kingdom any time he likes.

If I’m foolish enough to leave a remote control or book on the coffee table, there’s no reason to believe it will be there when I come home. That’s just silly on my part as it is a cat’s duty to knock these things on the floor.

Those top shelf red containers in the laundry room will never have anything inside then because they provide a comfortable, warm and high place for a catnap and this seems to prevent him from trying to wiggle into an old wardrobe in that room or from climbing onto the clean towels in the linen closet. If he wants to roll around in my dirty clothes basket, who am I to argue? He’s not hurting anything.

However, we do have real and serious issues. For example, he chews on and tries to eat every bit of artificial pine in the house and most of the silk vines and flowers. All along, I’ve been scheming to design a Christmas tree situation that he can’t destroy but there’s little I can do about him trying to eat something he cannot digest.

Goodbye Christmas tree! Maybe we can revisit this next year…..

Anyway, the compromising seems to be going well. As long as Scout continues to get everything he wants, we should be fine!

Have a cat story to share? I would love to hear! Have you ever tried giving them a pot of fresh grass to distract them from eating artificial pine? This is my last resort.

Leaving Scout For Adventure

Scout did better while I was gone this last trip. He suffered severe separation anxiety during my late summer western vacation and I wasn’t sure how he would do with being left again but was pleasantly surprised with the results.

This time, he was nice to my mother for the first couple of days and turned a bit mean toward the end.

He isn’t a bad cat but clearly was worried I wasn’t coming back and maybe just a little impatient from all the waiting.

He was the sweetest little boy when I came home. He greeted me at the door, happy to be held, and purring while nuzzling up against my neck and face. This lasted approximately ninety seconds before he turned angry and started biting my hands.

He was upset and this was the only way he knew how to express his anger, fear and sadness. So I let him go at it for a minute before offering my him a toy in exchange for my hands.

Afterward, he had a little snack and, belly full, curled up in his chair by the window for a nap while I did chores.

All was right with the world.

When he woke up, life went on and neither of us spoke another word of my irresponsible disappearance.

I’m hoping it continues to get easier for him and suspect that it will. It has to be hard to be a little animal, a creature of habit who doesn’t understand why his human mom disappears.

I wish there was a way to tell him that, no matter what, I will always come back for him. Since there isn’t a way to tell him, I’ll just have to keep showing him.

Want to read about how Scout did when I took my western adventure? Click here.

This Face

Cute boy.JPG

Who could say no to this face? We humans like to say that we rescue animals but sometimes I wonder just who did the rescuing. I gave Scout a place to live and hopefully a good life – but he has repaid me twofold with more companionship and laughter than you can imagine.

If you have a chance to rescue an animal in need, I suggest you do it. You’ll undoubtedly change both your lives forever.

Recovering From Surgery

Scout was neutered this week. It’s a pretty simple process these days- I dropped him off at the vet before work and he was awake and playing with the staff before I came back at lunch.

I hated leaving him with strangers and felt guilty for having the procedure done in the first place (even though it’s in everyone’s best interest). I was pretty sure he would punish me for abandoning him there and allowing them to do something so terrible to him.

When he came home, he was clearly tired but couldn’t settle down enough to sleep. So I cuddled him on the couch while he napped all afternoon. Well, ok, I napped some too despite the fact I never take naps.

He slept well, purring and snoring, occasionally waking up to gaze adoringly at me. And I realized that he wasn’t mad at me for taking him there but he loved me more for coming back to get him.

It was a sweet moment.

That sweet moment has been followed by two days of worry and trouble. How do you keep a kitten calm?

He’s not supposed to jump or run around a lot. Keep him calm, the vet said.

Attempts to keep him calm or to remove temptation to jump have the opposite effect. He is willful, to put it kindly and shows no sign of slowing down.

At this point, I’m just hoping he doesn’t hurt himself.

Wearing the cone does slow him down but he keeps finding ways out of that thing and I’m afraid he’ll hurt himself in the process if I continue forcing him to wear it.

Have a tip for keeping a wild child… ahem…. an active little cat…. calm? I would love to hear it.

Pets, Travel and Separation Anxiety

Scout is about seven months old now and seems comfortable in his role as King of the House. When I planned my summer vacation and arranged for Scout’s care, I thought he would struggle but it never occurred to me that he would be crippled by my absence.

But that’s exactly what happened.

I arranged for my aunt to stay with him for a few days and for my mother to take care of him the remainder of the time. Despite having company and care, Scout was terrified and acted out.

Actually, he was just mean. Viciously mean, in a way that only a terrified pet can be.

When I found Scout, he was about ten weeks old and living on the street. A tiny tyke, he weighed two pounds and had terrible food insecurity issues but was an absolute doll.

Almost immediately, I became his human. He’s nice to other people and happy to play but he’s very quick to come back to me and is even a bit clingy at times. He seems to remember being on his own and to understand that I was his rescuer; he rewards me every day with affection and gratitude.

However, he still gets mad when he’s hungry, scared or feeling somehow insecure so I was apprehensive about leaving.

Turns out I had good reason to be and I feel terrible for the pain he experienced that week and for how mean he was to my family.

Poor little guy. He just missed his mom and didn’t understand.

When I came home he was thrilled to see me, purring and sweet for about ninety seconds. Then he remembered himself and became angry. Another week passed, alternating between being angry and ignoring me before life returned to normal.

I stayed at a friend’s house Monday night and Scout came through like a champ with me being gone for just an overnight. So I’m hopeful that he has figured out that I’ll come home when I leave.

Is it possible future vacations won’t be so scary for him?

Want to read more about Scout? Here’s the story of how I found him and a more recent story about his temperament.