FurCats – A Shop. For Cats. Day 79

Miscellany of Mindfulness

Stillness of the Trees

I’ve always been a faffer, dawdler, slow-coach, whatever your choice of term might be. Timed, I can get changed in under a minute, have breakfast in under 3,  shower in 4. But I don’t. I end up taking an hour to do these things, sometimes a little bit longer – very rarely less.

I have a Mondaine watch. It’s a Swiss Railway watch; the face is used on the Apple clock. It’s simple, with clear lines. I really like it; in fact it’s actually my second one. You get free entry to the London Museum of Design with a Mondaine too. (Although I’ve never actually tested this freebie – but The Watch Lab guy, in The Arndale, who has a penchant for Mondaines, told me). Mine stops telling the time properly if I don’t wear it consistently; this is deliberate I’m sure. An apparent downfall of the Mondaine, is that you have to physically change the date on it – the dates go up to 39 and the days can go all funny too, if you’re not careful. I quite like the extra bit of work you need to put into it though – think I enjoy the hassle.

I stopped wearing my watch when I was breaking up with Time. I didn’t find it helpful being reminded of Him constantly – so I blocked Him and refused to have any reminders; think that’s why my watch decided to get back at me. I needed to clear my head before I could be on friendlier terms with Time again; a cleansing. So I’ve been walking to work; a kind of mindfulness. It’s 1.7 miles there (and 1.7 miles back, obviously) and takes 30 mins to walk, when I’m not faffing and in ‘bossy walk’ mode (as it was once called). But, because I enjoy faffing, I get a bit lost in my thoughts, so it takes longer for me to get to work and back. Being ‘on time’ isn’t a priority for me – and yet ironically, I often am!

Walking = Mindfulness

I enjoy walking to work. It’s a straight road, more or less and it’s the Mindfulness that suits me. When I know I’m walking to work, it’s proving to be a great motivator to get me out of bed! I focus on my breathing; my constant, as well as the stillness of nature around me (there genuinely are some trees on the way). I also like to do a daily count of  Mobikes – numbers are definitely dwindling – but I got 8 in 1 day. Imagined conversations with people I know, don’t know, would like to know, wish I didn’t, are played out. I enjoy playing with car registration numbers to see what words I can make with the letters (reminiscent of Paul Coia’s Catchword (4mins 18secs in) from years gone by).  I’m also coveting dogs at the minute – not in a sinister way – but, I like to think of the walk as part of my imagined dog’s imagined routine. (I know, you’re sensing I have a lot of fun on the way)!

Before we had external invigilators at school, we used to invigilate exams in the Sports Hall for mocks and GCSE exams. In the silence, I’d imagine doing cartwheels down the aisles. (I’ve never been able to do a cartwheel, but I enjoyed the rebellion of an imagined one). I would count the number of headscarves, girls with a tan, similar haircuts, afros, long/ short hair, plaits, kids with nose rings. I’d then delve into races, languages, parents I’ve met/ not met, names I knew, siblings I’d known etc. etc. etc.

It would go on for the duration of the exam, and if it wasn’t for my left knee choosing to click only ever in the silence of an exam hall, I would have loved the exam to have gone on and on until I tired of the game. In some ways, this was a kind of mindfulness; compartmentalising, creating lists, a focus on something other than a worry or a fear of time (that ol’ beast again).

Mindfulness was part of my healing-prescription.  I was advised to buy the Mindfulness book and in particular, to listen to the CD enclosed (Finding Peace in a Frantic World). It definitely helped clear my mind and helped me gain some control of my thoughts and as a result, my feelings. It’s a bit like having a clear desk at work, a place for everything (rather than everything thrown into a drawer, like mine often was). It gave my thoughts structure. A few minutes of stillness and peace helps rejuvenate; a boost that can begin to empower. My walks to work are beginning to do just that and by the time I arrive, my world has been (ever so slightly) realigned.


FurCats – A Shop. For Cats. Day 74

***Written on Sunday 17th September 2017***

Christmas has come early.

Topping Up My Vit D

We’re in September. It’s autumn outside – although admittedly, it’s been autumn all year round! But, the sun’s out at the minute and it feels glorious!

This is what a real summer would have felt like! It’s a Sunday – a day of rest. And yet, Chorlton seems busy today and there’s a sunny vibe; t-shirts, caps, (despite some folk with their coats on). Music blaring out of cars, windows wound down. There are a few people sporting Ray Bans and dads pushing prams topping up their Vitamin D. Chorlton is colourful today and it’s feeling good.

Saturday was a busy day and already people seem to be Christmas shopping! I had a few in last week crossing people off their Christmas gift list! “Do you think my mum would like this?” Already?! I know I wrote about fluidity of time a bit ago, but this is happening quicker than I’d expected. I guess it will just happen. One of my customers pointed out we’re 15 Mondays away from Christmas. I had to check. She was right. Gulp!

I never knew the countdown to Christmas would start so early! Already some of the shopkeepers on my strip are talking about preparing window displays. One of them has been tszujing up some wooden lettering used for a previous one! I thought thinking ahead to Halloween was pretty impressive. Nope – not impressive at all apparently – think I was supposed to have done that a couple of months ago! Double gulp!!

But I’ve still got my other head on – the one who anticipates the next mock, or the next essay, or the next set of books, or the next holiday. Christmas, at this time of year, is ludicrous a thought; it’s still in the distance, as it were. It’s not the next event; certainly not round the corner! It all seems too premature!

I didn’t expect to be thinking so far ahead. I was never a great planner; I was always in that queue at school, getting some last minute photocopying done, accompanied by a desperate plea. There was a sign up in the Print Room that read: “A lack of planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on mine.” It was on an A6 piece of card, stuck on the left hand side of the room as you went in. Although (thankfully) no one pointed it out to me, I often ended up reading it. Whilst I was waiting. A bit like locking eyes with someone you’re trying to avoid.

Need To Be Ready For It!

Whether I embrace it or not, it’s happening! I need to pull my finger out! I need to think and feel Christmas before I miss the prep work that goes into it! I need to think about Christmas opening times and themed gifts and food, as well as Christmas stockings for FurBabies and stocking fillers for ailurophiles.

I’m going to get ready for this one – that sign might have a bit more prominence in this world!




FurCats – A Shop. For Cats. Day 62

It Might As Well Rain Until September.  (And Boy, It Totally Did)!

Story Time

Mrs Wright, my primary school teacher, sat us down on a hard wooden floor and read Aesop’s Fable of the ‘North Wind and the Sun’ to us. I think I was about 6 years old and it was Story Time. It’s the one where the Sun challenges the Wind to make a passing traveller take off his coat. Of course, the Sun wins. But the fable explores the power of manipulation. It comes about because the sun is, for want of a better word, a bit jellybags of the power the wind has. I remember thinking even then, that the wind should have reminded the sun of what he was capable of.

When I realised I had a Summer moving-in date for the shop, I was properly excited; like, dead giddy. I imagined the huge shop window haemorrhaging heat, completing the happy, warm look (and feel) I was aiming for with my shop. In my head, it was going to be those childhood summers; long, scorching, eternal. The streets would be littered with laughter and joy, folk buying stuff for kids and kitties; carefree.

Quick! Quick! The Rain

I was wrong…  I don’t mean to exaggerate the length of our summer, but it lasted approximately 4 hours (OK, I’m rounding up). And when the sun wasn’t shining – which was more often than not – then it was raining. I have already praised the rain in a previous blog (no, really, well done rain :|fabulous work), but I think seeing as this August has been the wettest August we’ve ever had, ever (I’m not sure if that’s meteorologically true, so don’t check…), I thought it warranted another mention.

It’s that first droplet of water that acts like an air raid – warning everyone to run for shelter and run to safety.  “Quick! Quick (boys)! An ecstasy of fumbling…” all desperately trying to get away from the unrelenting rain, waiting for this weather-war to halt, at least temporarily. That first raindrop is the one everyone dreads, because we all know what’s about to be unleashed. Miserable, moan-y weather.

I would definitely say the wind was stronger than the sun. Teamed up with the rain, it is an unshakeable force. The rain, in fact, I would say is the most powerful. If there was a challenge I would set all three, it would be ‘Who can clear the streets the quickest…?’ The rain would win hands down.

FurCats – A Shop. For Cats. Day 57

When The Lights Go Out.

Do you know the story of Tantalus? He was a Greek mythological figure, punished for trying to trick the Gods. After being killed by Zeus, he had to stand in a pool of water, with a fruit branch hanging over him. Whenever he was hungry or thirsty, the branch would lift up and the water drained away – each taunting him. Hence the word ‘tantalise’ – to torment with something desired but out of reach. For me, depression and trying to clamber my way out of it, felt like Tantalus’ punishment. It was the inability to touch joy or happiness, despite them being seemingly within reach.

For some time, I’ve struggled with saying the word ‘depression.’ De-pre-shun. I guess it’s not the word so much as the implication. I wasn’t able to even tag it on Instagram or Twitter until I tricked myself into doing it recently.

A euphemism I was therefore fond of using was ‘sick.’ I was pretty casual in explaining my somewhat unconventional move leaving a career to open a cat shop (of course it wasn’t quite as simple as that). ‘I was sick’  I would say. The difficulty arose when every now and then, someone would tentatively ask, ‘in what way were you sick…?’  And then I would stutter and stumble and my autistic reflexes would kick in, as I dismissively threw into the air; ‘Oh, I was, you know, depressed..?’  My voice would peter out. That’s a much harder phrase to churn out.

When I had weekly meetings with my line manager at school, I would tell the story of how I was the Food Lady for MyBoy. I’d read somewhere how cats need their feeders, so I certainly wasn’t going to risk my cat loving my partner more. That was the role I’d carved for myself. I explained how, when my cat needed to be fed, I’d dutifully wake up to feed him and then, as I was up anyway, I’d come to school.

She said, ‘I think you might be depressed…’

I said, ‘Urmmm, I don’t think I am…’

I denied it. I felt insulted by it! Although in hindsight, it was more a case of not articulating it to myself first, more than it was a denial. I’d figured it was a weakness at work. And then I went home and thought about it. You know when someone points something out to you and you feel stupid that you didn’t notice yourself? Like a pun you hadn’t worked out in time, or a joke, or something dead obvious…? That.

Lights Out
When the Lights Go Out

And then as soon as I’d acknowledged it, it somehow became stronger; it fought harder.  Saying something aloud often gives words their power; their life. You see the words floating in front of you, as clear as Macbeth’s dagger, and no matter how much you claw at them, you can’t quite grab them to draw them back in.

It was like being left alone in an unfamiliar room when the lights go out. I’d scramble around in the darkness – screaming whilst desperately fumbling for the switch. I was still in there, but to my world, I was long gone.

I was in bed a lot too. And like quicksand, it seemed as though I was sinking deeper and deeper without noticing or even caring (apathy was pretty high on my agenda at the time). Occasionally I’d get a glimpse of real life; as if the light had been switched on temporarily. But like Tantalus, it seemed just out of reach.

It was useful knowing at the time that kittens sleep for 20 hours. So me and MyBoy did just that. And that’s how I mainly spent the next three or four months. MyBoy was my companion; my reason to get up. He was my therapy and unwittingly he became a switch to my new life.