Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I think they are hummingbirds, little brown ones who sing a lot. Ten days after putting out a bird feeder they finally showed up this morning. I was beginning to wonder about the whole bird feeder thing. How do they figure it out? Do they run surveillance for a little while to make sure that it’s not a trap run by ingenious felines? Were my sunflower seeds too stale after day one? Too soggy after the weekend rain? Had some bitchy food critic trashed us on opening day? Were there trendy dieters here in Hollywood for whom sunflower seeds were the new carbs?

No. For whatever reason they discovered it today. Then they started texting their friends, because all day long lots of them kept dropping by to munch. I’m pretty sure I even heard one say “Mira” as his three friends quickly swooped in for the spread. He would only give his first name as Paco and asked not to be photographed.

The past few months have been rough. The Veterinarian says that that my cat Boris has a swollen lymph node and IBD. Last night was another long one. The prescription food that he had been able to absorb only two weeks ago passed right through his thinning body. The formerly affectionately dubbed “Chubbers” did his best to make it to the box at least three times. I filled his bowl with fresh water afterwards so he could replenish his lost fluid. Sometime in the small hours I had an overdue cry as I wondered if this morning would be the one I’d have to bring him back to the Vet’s office for good.

I’m doing my best to prepare myself and being frank about the matter. I won’t use euphemisms like “putting him to sleep.” I’m clear that he won’t “wake up.” “Putting him to death” is a little harsh and “putting him down” isn’t really right either. It will come. I’m working up “Amazing Grace” with the simple hope that I’ll be able to play him from this world into the next with the sweetness of my harp. That theory assumes that I won’t be a total blubbering basket case when his time comes.

Fate spared him today. Dr. G. had jury duty. Not knowing what to feed him, I went to Whole Foods for the cleanest turkey I could find. My thinking is that if these are his last days, he’s not going to have to eat health cat food, something that I can only imagine to taste like cardboard if it’s anything like health people food. And with the sober awareness that he may not be here when it arrives next week, I placed a small order for venison. Research shows that it helps in some cases of IBD.

With the hummingbirds to visit on this mild sunny day, he and his brother Nicholas, who can’t figure out why they’re getting Christmas food at the end of May, seemed to have had a good time. Boris blew off his morning nap entirely, opting to spend the time excitedly watching the birds through the screen door, making that funny sound cats make when they see flying prey. For me, it was a gift to see him happy and lively and the two of them together and alive. Instead of retreating to my bedroom as has been his custom of late, he took his afternoon nap on the papasan chair in the brightly lit den where he could be close to those birds. It was good to see him in his usual napping spot. I can’t recall how many days or weeks it’s been since I saw him there. And this evening he rests on the new cable box. I think that he likes the heat from it. And while the thought of a round of his diarrhea into the Time Warner gadget concerns me a little, I don’t really care. He doesn’t like the heating pad and I just want him to be comfortable. We’re taking it one thing at a time. Thanks to whoever sent the hummingbirds.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sun Moving into Gemini: Time to Rethink Our Thinking

The power of our thoughts to effect our experience and the outcomes we attain in life is such a popular topic these days that we may think we can skip any more of the “thoughts become things” discussion. But this year the Sun, Mercury (ruler of thinking) and Venus (ruler of love and beauty) will be in Gemini at the same time, and in fact Mercury will be retrograde for most of the Sun’s journey through this air sign. With Neptune and Jupiter also retrograde at this time, we have a golden opportunity to analyze our thought patterns, and moreover to revise the ones that are not supporting us. Whether it’s how we deal with our day to day reality or how we are doing with our larger life plans, rethinking our thinking during this cycle of Gemini can truly change the course of our lives.

Thinking runs you or you run your thinking. Your thoughts are either undermining your success and happiness or they are supporting you. So, observing your thoughts is the ideal place to start. The awareness that flourishes from this practice is your key to a better life, really. To get started, simply notice what you’re thinking about throughout the day or what thoughts come up when you consider a major life issue. What kinds of feelings are those thoughts producing? What actions might your take based on those thoughts and feelings? And most importantly, do those actions and thoughts serve your goals and well-being?

“I’ve had thousands of problems in my life, most of which never actually happened.” Mark Twain

One way of becoming clearer on how strongly your thoughts are shaping your experience is to work backwards when you find yourself in a negative state of mind. The next time that you end up in a bad mood, let your thought policeman or woman inspect the crime scene to figure out how you got there. What thoughts were your ruminating on? Were any of them reflecting a real situation that you needed to address? Or did you just get on the wrong train of thought? Actively practicing awareness of your mind’s busyness will not only break unhelpful mental patterns, it will put you in the conductor's seat. From there you can consciously choose which thoughts are best left at the station, at baggage claim perhaps, and which ones are helpful and maybe even inspiring.

This is not however a pitch for happy talk or wishful thinking. As much as I respect the work of Louise Hay, I’m not much of a fan of affirmations about things that don’t exist or are not present in our current reality. For me they trigger a mental backlash of sorts. For example affirming that “I am healthy and whole” when I am in bed with the flu only exacerbates the situation. My mind says, “Bullshit, you have a fever, can barely make it to the kitchen and need to go back to sleep.” In my experience thinking it does not necessarily make it so. Thinking is only a start and a tool. What I am an advocate of are empowering thoughts that bring clarity and acceptance to the present moment and point the mind, body and spirit in a constructive direction. In the above scenario thoughts that I would find useful would go along the lines of “I accept that I have the flu, and now give my body the rest it is asking for to process this illness, knowing that the body’s natural course is to heal.”

“I believe you could change your mind and change our lives” John Mellencamp Your Life Is Now

With four planets in Virgo (also ruled by Mercury) this is really fun stuff for me. But it can benefit anyone. So I invite you to work with the upcoming Sun cycle in one of the following ways. On Tuesday, May 20th, when the Sun enters Mercury, start thinking and perhaps writing about where you are in any aspect of your life and where you wish to be. The space in between is what we are going to work on next. Then from the 26th of May through June 19th, when Mercury is retrograde, we can analyze the thoughts we repeat most frequently surrounding these issues, and begin to re-pattern and reprogram the detrimental ones. The other method is simply to practice mindfulness during this time with whatever comes up on any given day and revise when appropriate. It’s pretty heady stuff, but no match for a soul dedicated to profound and positive change. Remember that loving Venus will be gently guiding us through this process. By Summer Solstice, on June 20th, we can emerge from this Gemini journey rewired for much richer and more rewarding lives. The shifts we make now will then go on to effect the collective of all around and ahead of us, and that’s pretty powerful. Think about it!

If you need any help, feel free to check in with me for a reading.

With love,