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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Just Be...Like a Cat

One of the things I have learned from my cat Sophie is the way she chooses to just 'be.' Cats have a reputation for napping all day long, curled up in a tight ball of fur, often with their paws over their nose or face as if to block out light and distractions from their kitty sleep.

I love to watch Sophie, after she's been curled up for a while, when she takes a moment to stretch, letting out tension and kinks, and repositions herself for another session of just 'being.'

Of course, I've never seen Sophie question whether or not she should nap, thinking, oh, I really should just go chase a mouse or play with that toy that has that thing on the end I like to chew or chase that thing that runs across the floor, or better yet, check out the latest squirrel I noticed in the back yard the other day.

No, when Sophie wants to nap, she just does.
She chooses to rest her body to prepare for the next phase in her day or night, whatever that may entail.

I often comment to my husband that the cat's life seems to entail such bliss.

Now, of course, when Sophie is napping, it is only on occasion that she deeply sleeps, and even when she does that, it doesn't take much to wake her. When she's in the curled up position, resting, her ears are always on the alert, ready to pick up the slightest sound, which may clue her into to something she just can't miss.

Sometimes, she'll jump immediately from her place of pause to investigate where that noise came from: was it a squirrel making a scratching noise in the wall? Was it a stray cat in the neighborhood stopping by to say 'Meow'? Or was it someone in the kitchen just waiting to hand out a tasty morsel for her to sniff and nibble on?

Sophie knows there is a time and place for rest or to just 'be' and a time to investigate and be alert to her surroundings.

Our days are always filled with those things that need to be investigated, aren't they? Have you ever noticed that there is always a 'to do' list that can be written? Between our jobs, our homes, our families, and our community, every day contains something, even things pertinent, to occupy us.

So, how do we know when it's time to just 'be?'

Just like Sophie, we have to take time. We need to make our rest and being time a priority. Whatever we choose that refreshes us, whether it be a nap, time to journal, to pray or meditate, or just sit in our recliners, resting our weary bones and cluttered minds, that's what we need to do.

And there's no need for guilt or wondering if we should go wash the dishes or put on another load of laundry or finish writing checks to mail or fix that repair. Because, when you are finished with your 'being' time, all of those tasks will still be there waiting for you.

When you prioritize your being time, you will have more energy to take care of all those other things. Sometimes all it takes is ten minutes to refresh and recharge. And the benefits of just being are enormous.

When was the last time you refreshed yourself and took time to just be? Do it today. Do it every day. Make it a habit.

Now, that's a resolution worth keeping.

© by Dawn Herring

15 comments:

ficwriter said...

This is exactly what I needed to read today. I may have to print this blog post out and tape it next to my coffee pot. Instead of drinking a fifth cup of joe (as I often do in a day) I'll find the cat and take a nap. Sounds like a fine resolution. Thanks, Dawn.

mariblaser said...

Great post Dawn!

I did this today, actually, heh. I knew it'd be an unproductive day anyway, so I just relaxed. ;)

Dawn Herring said...

Ficwriter, Glad the post was timely for you! Enjoy that nap and your feline!
Dawn

Dawn Herring said...

Mari,
Relaxing has its important place. Thanks for stopping by. :)
Dawn

Donna Carrick said...

Another terrific and timely post, Dawn. I was thinking about this subject the other day, in fact, though I confess I'm not good at just "being". It's something I want to invest some time in teaching myself. Thanks for the reminder.
Donna

Dawn Herring said...

Donna, Many of us don't think about having 'being' time, since we are often do busy 'doing.'
Thanks for taking the time to stop and comment; glad this was a positive reminder for you. :)
Dawn

JenKnox said...

If we don't take 'being' time, life often makes us take it, it seems. This is an excellent post.

Elisabeth Black said...

Good post. Madeleine L'Engle talked about the importance of time to "just be", too.

Nikole Hahn said...

I think I did that last Saturday--the cat curled up in his favorite spot to sleep. The rain plunked against the window panes. The dog slept at the base of the door. I just sat there wrapped in an afghan with the remote control and a big plate of french toast.

Dawn Herring said...

Jen,
I know what you mean; that's why it's all important to take the time to just 'be' while we are in a good place, and not wait until we are close to exhaustion.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)
Dawn

Dawn Herring said...

Elizabeth,
I'm also a fan of Madeleine L'Engle; glad you enjoyed the post. :)
Thanks for stopping by.

Dawn

Dawn Herring said...

Nikole,
Sounds wonderful and peaceful and relaxing. Thanks for sharing and commenting. :)
Dawn

Dawn Herring said...

Elisabeth,
I wanted to post a correction on the spelling of your name. Sorry about that!
Dawn

caren gittleman said...

Dawn this is sooo true and such wonderful advice!

It was truly beautiful and I know I need to learn to "just be"

Thanks so much for this beautiful post!

Dawn Herring said...

Caren,
Glad this post resonated with you; I love using my cat Sophie as a source for many of my posts.
So glad you enjoyed.
Dawn

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Three Steps Toward Accountability...to Yourself (as published in SFC Newsletter, Dec 08 edition)

Accountability: to give a reckoning or explanation for one’s actions, responsible.

When most people think of accountability, they often negatively associate it with answering to others, such as a spouse, a friend, a mentor, or, in most cases, a boss. As a writer, you are your own boss, which is one of the reasons that you need to be accountable to yourself. And it can be a positive experience rather than a negative one.

The first step in being accountable to yourself as a writer is setting goals for your writing and keeping track of projects you want to finish. Incurring a deadline for yourself can help
motivate you in this area. This step can also include daily writing goals. Some authors plan how many words or pages per day they will write.
I’ve set goals for myself as a writer by making them reachable and attainable. This year I have set a goal to write at least one scene for my novel per week and at least one other piece,
whether it be memoir or essay, per week. That can mean just making notes, writing a first draft, or revising a draft.
As long as your goals keep you moving forward and you’re making progress, then you know you’re headed in the right direction.

Once you have your goals set, the next step in accountability to yourself is writing down what you accomplish each day. You can use a daily calendar just for writing or keep track of your
daily accomplishments on your computer. I designed a custom monthly writing calendar. It helps me track what I write daily, whether or not I’ve met my goal for the week, and it has
space for ideas for future writing pieces. I also have a spot to keep track of books I’m reading for that month. I use abbreviations to keep the daily writing easier and to save space. As I review each completed month, I can go back to see what I’ve accomplished and keep track of when I wrote each piece.
Whether you use something pre-made or customize something for yourself, use whatever works for you and helps you stay accountable to yourself.

A third, and perhaps most important, aspect in accountability in your writing is taking care of yourself as a writer. Than can mean giving yourself space and not being hard on yourself if
you don’t reach your goals each day or each week.
Flexibility and refreshment are paramount to your health as a writer. It also frees up your creativity and can actually help you produce more quality writing in the long run.
I enjoy writing in my journal, reading fiction or memoir, and watching a good movie with my family. Taking a walk, listening to music, talking with your family members, and just taking time to sit and enjoy life are all ways you can be good to
yourself—and ultimately accountable—as a writer.

Learn to celebrate your accomplishments and your uniqueness as a writer. That’s one of the best ways to be accountable—to yourself!