What Cats Teach Us About Life: How to find the ‘I’ in Serval…

Number 23 out of 28: This piece is part a Blog Challenge to write and publish a post, every day of the 28 days of February 2015, from Coach and Writer Sandra Peachey – the author of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’.

Serval

I am blending and blurring the lines of my life… Linking the disparate and disciplined, making a whole picture out of all the multi coloured jigsaw pieces of my creation – born and made. And by doing so, I am bringing more of me into who I am and what I do, in everything, so that life is more natural and more easy… Blissful sigh… Smug pause…

Whilst I am practising the art of being more of myself, being more ‘natural and easy’, cats of course, are just getting on with it.  And the elements of my life that I shall be drawing together today, are the observation and interaction of (human) personality theories, as applied to cats…

As a qualified Occupational Tester, one of the tools I use most often is a psychometric inventory based on the DISC personality assessment system.  The letters stand for what are regarded as the four main personality traits – Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance.  I shall now gently develop this in DISCC – ‘DISC for Cats’, since, as well as personality assessment, I also have extensive experience in the field of cat guardianship (not ownership – you never own a cat) and so I shall be combining the personality and the puss.

The trait I shall be investigating with my cats today is the ‘I’ of the DISC model, which stands for Influence.   And my four legged muse to assist me in this exploration, is the youngest member of The Pride – my kitten-cat Sophia.

I know a lot about this particular trait since I, most definitely am a ‘High I’, so far be it from me to chastise Sophia for displaying all its’ inherent aspects – really loudly and really intensely.  Now, aside from the delivery, the ‘I’ is about influencing, so Sophia always wants me to be on her side and therefore keeps up a constant barrage of conversational mews, meows, trills, chirrups, and squeaks. These linguistic gambits play on a constant, incessant communication – of what she wants, how she feels, and where she is.

In the wild cat world, this would make her a Serval, a creature which lives in the savannahs and grasslands of Africa. Servals are show off cats, being the only wild feline that has both spots and stripes, allowing them to camouflage perfectly in to their grassy habitat. This helps them to be both an efficient hunter and a hider – ensuring that they are not seen by larger predators.  And just in case they then happen to be happened upon, the Serval also has markings on the back of its ears that look like big, scary, ‘leave me alone’ eyes.

Servals fit into the ‘I’ trait in that they are very well adapted to their environment. Most I’s have a quick paced flexibility to react to and fit into their surroundings; and also with their peers.  They will also have a tendency to hide from trouble rather than meet it head on. Servals have very large ears, enabling them to hear prey from up to 20 feet away, just as Sophia can hear the opening of a cat food pouch through walls, doors and fields away.

After the Cheetah, the Serval is the fastest of the wild cats, reaching running speeds of up to 30 miles an hour.   Any one who has met Sophia will know that she displays the typical High I characteristics of being incredibly fast paced, virtually all of the time.  These adaptations serve the Serval well and so this cat catches nearly half the prey that it goes after, in comparison to the lion, which only catches about 30 percent.  Sophia too is speedily adept at being the first to the food bowl, to the lap and out of the cat flat, all three achieved, usually within the space of speedy seconds.

If you were to ask an ‘I’ how to go about doing – just about anything, you would invariably find them carrying it out in the most fun, sociable or brightest way.   Servals and Sophia alike, want to get to the bottom of things and so as a type, are typified by the question ‘why’, and as arch socialisers, will want to know ‘who’ too. Sophia is always whizzing around, focussing on the next best thing, paws flying definitively towards the future.  She loves to be acknowledged and praised and will squeak back her undisguised pleasure at your ministrations, be they physical or verbal.

She is, most definitely an ‘I’ in that she is like quick silver – sensitive, reactive and intuitive, blowing with the wind or racing like a Serval across the Savannah (of the garden).  Her mission is to entertain and amuse you; but put her under stress or cross her, and the claws will (literally) be out and she will hiss out her (rare) displeasure.

The Serval type is a natural motivator, coercing you firmly and positively towards the end goal – usually of food or love.   This can all become all too much when a salvo of deliberate posing, posturing and purrs can just amount to manipulative attention seeking tactics, with  desperate striving to get to something or some one, regardless of whether the object of all that forced attention, wishes for the same thing.

Usually though you are on the same page, and visitors are enchanted by her obvious charms.  I had a recent guest who had not met my I-type cat before and wondered where she was. I explained with a twinkle that one thing is for certain – you will never miss Miss Sophia’s entrance into any room; and sure enough, in she soon flashed, meowing her little head off, demanding every one’s attention and then enthusiastically checking them all out.

I like to think that some how I am more soothing and subtle to be around, yet appreciate that this I-trait, is after all, all about the ‘I’… And in that respect Sophia and I are most definitely twin attention seeking souls…

PS: The source of the Serval information was: georginadp6.weebly.com/characteristics.html

PPS: Did you know that a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, cats and all?  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a purrfect present, whether you be a cat lover or no.  All of human life is in this gorgeous book – all the fear, light, dark, and of course love, for any one who wants to be entertained and to know that they are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you, even if it isn’t all about cats… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

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What Cats Teach Us About Life: How to be a LION…

Number 21 out of 28: This piece is part a Blog Challenge to write and publish a post, every day of the 28 days of February 2015, from Coach and Writer Sandra Peachey – the author of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’.

lion 1

I commenced this blogging challenge with the intention of playing around with some concepts for a potential book and then, how like me… I start getting ahead of myself…  My blog posts are splurges of various themes, concepts and embryonic ideas.  And having already published a book, I now know that for me to write the next tome, demands that I grab all these disparate elements and turn them into some sort of sensible structure.  The (not yet) book is cat and coaching themed and has gone by various working titles… For the longest time it had the vanity title of ‘Peachey Cats: Lessons in Love Life and Litter’; then the simpler ‘Coaching with Cats’ and most recently, the ‘does what it says on the tin’ title of ‘What Cats Teach Us About Life’.

The (not yet) book is a constantly evolving concept, with various possibilities and opportunities to explore.  Today, three quarters of the way through my 28 day blog writing challenge, an idea for a structure, struck me, like these often do, like a soft thunderbolt…

It has arisen out of one of the recurring themes that has come up during this spate of writing, which is that whereas the various aspects of my life (work, dreams, hobbies, interests, etc and so on) used to be compartmentalised; now increasingly they have merged… So it happens that I am currently writing a book about cats, being a coach and about me, weaving in anecdotal strands about my cats, my clients and myself.

The structure will reveal itself all in good time and for today, I will start to add in some of the more major structural elements, even though as yet, they will still lay scattered about, rather like a jigsaw waiting patiently to be pieced together, to create the whole picture…

So the elements of my life that I shall draw together today are personality theories and cats.  I doubt very much whether I shall be either the first or last writer ever to do this, but I know I shall be the only one ever (I trust), to include four particular cats called George, Sophia, Taz and Whiskers as my muses and (four pawed) metaphors.

I shall now start on the Personality Piece:  I am a qualified Occupational Tester, which means that I have been trained in and practised, for an incessantly long time, a number of inventories that assess a number of things, including personality traits, aptitudes and emotional intelligence.  Much as I love to think that I intrinsically know people and can quickly get their measure, I have found the use of such tools invaluable, not least because they provide a model for measurement, comparison and discussion that can be used in many and various ways, not least as a coach.

One of the tools I use most often is the DISC personality assessment system.  The letters stand for what are regarded as the four main personality traits – Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance.  I shall now be promulgating ‘DISCC’ – or DISC for Cats, since, as well as personality assessment, I also have extensive experience in the field of cat guardianship (not ownership – you never own a cat) and I now shall be combining the personality and the puss.

The first trait in the DISC model is Dominance and the first cat in The Pride is George, so it is natural that one should signify the other.  In the cat world this trait is firmly and fairly represented by The Lion.

So how does George demonstrate the facets of being the Dominant Lion?  Firstly, despite his fluffy, charming exterior, he clearly regards himself as both the Head and Alpha Male of the Pride.  Lions easily can turn on their strong directed charm, if it gets them what they want. Of all the cats in the Cave, George has the most dog like, ‘standing in his own power’ characteristics.  The phrase that most fits him is, ‘I want it my way’ – not yours, not theirs’, but my way and mine alone. George is very exacting in his wants – he wants the best sleeping spot (next to me), he expects to lead, never to follow and even it if is dinner time – that or the mere fact that the other cats are starving, is of no consequence – he will demand to be fed, when he wants to be fed, not led by minor dinner dictates set by the rest of us in The Pride.

George is a ‘what?’ cat.  He always wants to know what is going on – and always insinuating himself into my coaching sessions, or my reading, or writing and what ever else is going on in the Cave and basically taking charge, just like any lion.

His focus is always about ‘now’.  He wants what ever he wants right here and now.  I may have a fourteen inch screen laptop perched squarely on my lap, but such an obstacle will never stop him if he has decided he wants to lay across my legs.  Rebuffals will be met with a persistent nonchalance and an utter determination to get to his goal.

It is not about the anticipation with the leonine George, he is instead, motivated by getting things done / completed / sorted – all as they should be, which is always as he decrees.

When it comes to decisions, he is all about the impulse – what ever is the quickest thing that will get him to where he wants to be.  And the timing for that destination, will always be now. Lock him out of the bedroom where I and the sweetest sleeping spot is, and he will loudly yowl his right to have that door opened for and to him.  Like the lion he is, he will keep on yowling, until he gets his result. Put him under stress or duress, and suddenly the Cave becomes an Autocracy – and George will take charge and deal with the situation.  He will ensure that he gets the result he wants – even if that means that he has to be aggressive in pursuing his point – as any unwarranted human or feline who breaches the confines of the cave will attest.  He will doggedly pursue any intruders and see off the cat sized ones in an instant.  The human sized ones will be swiftly sussed out and then quickly either accepted or rejected – placed in their Pride order and so acknowledged or dismissed.

So that is the DISC personality theory according to George.  And George being the lion that he is, knows exactly what he needs to know about all that…  The Lion has roared…

PS: Did you know that a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, cats and all?  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a purrfect present, whether you be a cat lover or no.  All of human life is in this gorgeous book – all the fear, light, dark, and of course love, for any one who wants to be entertained and to know that they are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you, even if it isn’t all about cats… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

What Cats Teach Us About Life – How to find the Gift in Good Bye

Number 20 out of 28: This piece is part a Blog Challenge to write and publish a post, every day of the 28 days of February 2015, from Coach and Writer Sandra Peachey – the author of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’.

cat ribbon 2

Beyond The Peachey Pride of three cats and my human self, there is a continuum of and connection to many other cats… There are the cats who are a part of friend’s lives; there are the many images I see on Social media; and there are the memories of many cats, living and passed on that I have known over a life time shared with them.

And amongst the many memories I have, are some stored away about a delicious little she cat called ‘Peanut’.  She lived with my ex boy friend Cliff and she was a true gem of gorgeous girl.  Peanut’s major trait was her sweet stupidity – hence her name, since her brain was as small as the proverbial nut…  She never seemed to understand commands, tried to walk through (rather than over or round) objects and generally / happily seemed to have a low cat IQ.  And no one ever minded this, since she was so sweet tempered and good natured, that what ever she may have lost in cat-like cleverness, she always absolutely gained in childish charm.

When I moved in with Cliff I knew that Peanut had a limited time to live.  She was an old lady by then and her kidneys were gradually failing her.  We charted her decline with sad hearts and then one day, came the awful day when she left – us and life, aided by the vet who came to our home.  Quickly and quietly she died in the arms of two people she loved.  I reflected at the time that it was a good way to go, but still I remember that it was a few years before I could think of that furry little friend of mine without feeling tearful.

That first horrible shock of loss has now slowly transmogrified over time into warm and happy memories… And Peanut is not the first cat lost from my life and she probably will not be the last, so I wanted to write a love letter to her and all the other feline companions from my past and future, for myself and my friends and for any one who will read this, who has ever lost a beloved pet in recent or long lived ago time.

Dear Loved One

You are gone.  No more here in flesh and fur.  Never to be by my side, ever again.  Never to rub against my legs, to meow for food or love, nor to purr and gently paw at me.

It is time, greatly to grieve, and to let out my tears, allowing my sorrow its’ way out of my soul.  Time to be sad.  Time to just feel loss and lost.

It is a sweet, deep, natural thing, the love for an animal, for not tied by human complications or obligations, it fills a special sweet part of the heart with it’s own best kind of pureness and simplicity.  With it gone, there is a sudden breach of sense and place as there is with all types of loss.

Along with loss, it is time too to celebrate you – to give thanks for knowing you and to thank you for being in my life.

So what was so special about you?  Let me remember the myriad ways.

You my friend, were a gift from and a creature of, God.  All of you magnificent creatures, in what ever pet form you take (cat, dog, rabbit, goldfish, mouse, etc, etc) are on loan to us lucky humans.  That you were on loan for what feels like too short time feels hard to bear.

But what a gift you were and are my friend!  I learnt so much from you, got so many purrs and rubs, got so much laughter and pleasure and so now I want to choose your loving legacy.

So… you were a gorgeous gift tied up with proverbial red ribbon (and you being you, the ribbon wouldn’t stay on for long…).

You were a kitten gift to me – a fluffy ball of wonder and laughter, of teases and scratches, off mewing and purring.

As a gift from God, you were on life loan to me and such a gorgeous present in so many feline ways, showing me how to live life constantly in glorious cat techni-colour, matching the colours and tones of your fascinating fur.

You were so many things to me – so giving, loving and deliciously capricious.  You padded along the lanes of life with me, leaping and sleeping through it with your easy grace and soothing purrs.

Now matter how long we were together, it feels like you were taken from life too soon.  Too soon for us, any way.  Is that fair for any one?  That is what I have felt, but not what I know, when I think with love of where we are.  For me, the most comforting knowing is that you had your time.  That was the thing about you my friend, it was always YOUR time and so thank you, so much for giving it to me. That is indeed a very rare gift.

I am allowing myself time to grieve and be sad, for that honours what I felt for you, my furry friend.  Because you gave me so much, I feel so much now.  Yet I shall celebrate you too.  To rejoice in the distinct spark of living light that you were.

And, my Little One, what ever any one thinks about what is next, nothing changes that I knew you, that you will stay in me and with me for ever, and that you made such a marvellous difference to me.  Yes you, sweet friend, were and are a true giving gift.

I miss you so much and constantly think that you are near, but the body was just one part of you, so farewell to that one physical element of you, my little lion… the gorgeous, perfect gift from God that you are, were and will always will be, to me.

With love, strokes and scritches…

From me xx

PS: Some time later Cliff and I parted company, yet I am always grateful for the gift of Peanut the cat in my life and I can never thank him enough for the fact that he also gave me the present of my perfect puss, the lucky black cat that is Taz, too.

PPS: Did you know that a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, cats and all?  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a purrfect present, whether you be a cat lover or no.  All of human life is in this gorgeous book – all the fear, light, dark, and of course love, for any one who wants to be entertained and to know that they are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you, even if it isn’t all about cats… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

How to Love Like a Cat

Number 19 out of 28: This piece is part a Blog Challenge to write and publish a post, every day of the 28 days of February 2015, from Coach and Writer Sandra Peachey – the author of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’.

Geo Laptop 2

George, as ever, is helping me to blog…

Real Time Writing: I was just settling down to write this latest blog at my office / come sofa, when I was interrupted by the attentions and ministrations of my cat George. He has decided that right now is the absolutely perfect time for lashings of affection and that my lap is the only place in this world that he wants to occupy.  He wishes to lay upon my legs, purr loudly and look adoringly into my eyes.  And given the theme of this blog, I didn’t really feel that I could refuse – so instead of rebuffing George’s advances and occupying my lap with a laptop, I have perched my IPad (other tablets are available) on the sofa arm instead; and am now precariously typing away with one hand, whilst loving and fussing my demanding feline friend with the other.

And so George has left my lap, so now it is time to continue on my laptop and start the blog ‘proper’… The title of this piece ‘How to Love Like a Cat’ does not refer to the biting, yowling act of procreation promulgated by that species to increase their species.  What I will be exploring here, is what we can learn from cats when it comes to feeling, giving and receiving the bounty of love.  My cats here will act as a prolonged metaphor to both understand them and the concept of love more deeply, and to learn more about both.

Before we get into the whole romance of life and love with cats, let’s clear up the whole ‘cupboard love’ scenario.  Every one needs a cynic in their life and mine is my brother Aidan… I can hear him now: “It’s cupboard love – if some one else fed them, they would love someone else”…

I understand his point and actually I see the truth in it, yet my whole truth is that the provision of food is the starting point of my relationship with the members of The Peachey Pride.  They also get shelter.  They also receive and give affection.  Finally, they have the freedom to leave and still they choose to stay.

And is it really any different in the human world? Why do we love some one?  Is it because fate has randomly thrown them in our path?  Or because they pay us more attention and spend more time with us than the rest of the world? Is it because we share our similarities and possibly even celebrate our differences?  Or because they are attracted to us and we to them? Could it be because they feed us in any number of ways – in the cupboard love way, or in a nurturing or stimulating way?  These are just some of the many sweet little mysteries of the whole feeling phenomena of love.

So what can we learn from my four legged metaphors?  The first thing I really appreciate is that when any of my cats are ‘feeling the love’, they express the emotion unreservedly – they let you know in no uncertain terms just how they are feeling.  They meow, they knead away at you (like a kitten does its’ birth mother), and they want to be completely up close and personal.  And then they purr out their rampant and uninhibited pleasure that you are having a gorgeous loving moment with them.

Unlike my cats, for a long time I found it really difficult to even say ‘I love you’ to any one, let alone demonstrate it in any other way.  I would play games and pretend that love was something that I never felt; all as a protection over the soft creamy centre of my heart.  The odd thing is that I found that I never really could mitigate against that same heart being hurt, by either covering it up or leaving it open to the elements.  Yet what I also discovered is that, just like my cats, I have a never ending well of love that I can draw up on.  I even wrote and published an entire book about the subject of love and how you can see it in any one and any happening – no matter how happy or horrible; and still I could write another library full of such books, for love is long

As well as demanding love – cats are clever at giving and receiving it too.  All the members of The Pride will seek me out, at different times of the day… Sophia loves her love and cuddles in the morning time (and in real time writing, on cue as I write this, she has just leapt up onto the sofa and is now at my side, placing a front paw on my leg and purring out her pleasure). Taz, of long kittenish habit, loves a fuss and a purring hug just before bed time; and George will pursue me at all hours, devouring my attention, feeling my presence and showing me his constant devotion.

All my cats give love beautifully and they receive it gorgeously as well.  Reach out to them at any time of day, and they will graciously and joyously receive your adoring attention, your affection, and your soft words of worship.  This is something that I have learnt well too.  Where for so long I rejected and rebuffed, now I receive; and allowing myself to receive means that I receive even more love back and more often, when ever I make a loving connection – easier, both on myself and on those I form a bond with – be that for a second or an eternity…

There has long been an urban legend that the cat is a lonesome, independent creature and I know that I thought that of myself in history, too.  The reality is, that most cat species in the wild live in family groups.  They hunt together, take care of young, form bonds and favourites.  Their thriving therefore has an instinctual centre in a Pride mentality and most perfectly, this manifests itself in ritual and deliberate acts of love.  And as always I could stray into anthropomorphic territory here, so suffice to say, that cats will love in their way, not in some poetically ascribed version or twist that I could put on to their behaviours and favours towards me.

And still I will analyse what makes this human / feline combination of love so special… For me, because they are loving animals, the complexities that colour so many human relationships are stripped away and what we have together is a more primordial bond, some thing as deep as nature, something that is pure, easy, and endless.

Because of all this I used to joke that I was planning to become a mad old cat lady, who would die one day surrounded by her 22 cat soul mate.  It seemed easier some how to laugh my way to a future that I could populate and control, and make full of feline love.

It’s an old joke now.  I don’t intend to be an old maid, made just for the company of cats.  I’m creating my own alternate loving reality for now and then, because that is another lesson I have learnt from my feline friends – how to live and love life to the full.

Well… that and the fact that I have discovered that a Pride of just three cats is truly enough for this loving woman…

PS: Did you know that a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, cats and all?  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a purrfect present, whether you be a cat lover or no.  All of human life is in this gorgeous book – all the fear, light, dark, and of course love, for any one who wants to be entertained and to know that they are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you, even if it isn’t all about cats… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

Taz the Teddy Bear Cat, teaches the life skill of Flexibility…

Number 16 out of 28; this piece is part a Blog Challenge to write and publish a post, every day of the 28 days of February 2015, from Sandra Peachey – the author of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’.

It is Day 16 of my February Blog Challenge and despite the fact that we are now over half way through, I promised several days ago to effect some introductions… So far I have just (formally anyway) introduced you to my Number One Cat – George. Now it is the turn of my next feline friend, and whilst I would also claim to have a poor memory (since it seems that I am forgetting my manners), let me start to put that social faux pas straight and introduce you to Number Two Cat – Taz.

Taz 1

Now the Numbers denote only the order into which my marvellous moggies came into my life; they in no way delineate their ranking or the degree to which any of them is loved. I couldn’t actually love any of the cats of The Pride any more or less – for one of the many splendours of love, is that you love differently, every time, with every one…

And so to Number Two Cat: Ladies and Gentlemen, please say hello to Taz, a beautiful boy, covered by a coat of long black fur, but definitely not black or bleak in personality.

He is, in the furry flesh – a living, loving, breathing teddy bear of a cat. So when a Polish friend of mine told me that the word for teddy bear in her native language is ‘Misiu’ (pronounced ‘me-shoo’), then this naturally became Taz’s nick name. It also means a cute and cuddly personage, and my Taz-zy boy is all that too.

When ever I return to the Cave, love and social decorum dictates that all my cats are greeted in turn with a hello and a humo-feline hug. When it is Taz’s turn, I pick him up, and this despite the fact that he weighs a proverbial ton. To hold him is like draping a soft, furry hod of bricks over your right shoulder. But that heaviness melts into a solid hunk of love, as he stretches out in purring, nuzzling pleasure, and we are lost, for a few seconds, in an adoring connection of female and feline affection. Then reality and gravity weigh back in, the loving burden becomes too heavy and so I put him back down on the ground, with all four paws on the floor again.

Down at ground level Taz then leaves me in no doubt as to where he wants this relationship to go next. He demands to be fed. So after the formalities are over, what ever the time of day (or night) he tries to guide me to the area of the kitchen where the feeding bowls reside (since he knows I have a bad memory and that I may have forgotten).

Guiding aside, he will also try to stare a meal out of you. He has the hugest pair of green gimlet eyes, which he can widen and intensify at will, turning them on you, to bore into you like two lightening laser beams.

Taz, in common with most cats has a survival instinct which means that he and the others of The Pride will flexibly and happily take food from where ever it is offered, meaning that Taz and all the cats will guzzle their grub from any source in the house, be that a human house mate, friend or whom so ever.

Taz though takes this to a whole new level. Our cave acquired a new human house mate a couple of months ago, called Pia. She is an early riser and offered, almost immediately, to feed the marauding moggies of The Pride when ever I am not around. Not being a morning person, I am almost never around first thing…

As well as being an early riser, Pia tends to go early to bed, and firmly closes her bedroom door against the world. Taz will then almost invariably stand (or I should say sleep) guard – curling up tightly, to snore – by that same door; waiting out the long, dark hours until she rises and is ready to feed him again, or else trip over him on the way to the bath room…

Taz has that flexible feline trait of learning quickly and taking action there on, in abundance. It is a characteristic which has served the domestic cat and their wild forebears well. I once read in fact, that it is this flexibility which has made Felis Catus – the tamed cat we are all familiar with, one of the most adaptable and therefore successful of domesticated creatures.

And it is this flexibility that is one of the fundamental lessons that Taz teaches me. I like to think that in a world full of flux, I can constantly evolve and easily adapt. And when like Taz I accept change, I can then most easily make the necessary changes to cope and then to thrive.

When I am inflexible and entrenched instead, that, so often is when difficulties arise. It is when situations and life get harder. Despite all my life’s work and personal development, there are still times when I bemoan my fate or my choices or what impact some one else’s actions are having on me. It is like having my feet stuck in setting concrete – even though I can shout and wave my arms around, when I refuse to accept and adapt, it means that I am well and truly fixed to one, solid spot.

Flexing my flexibility muscles sometimes takes some effort – I have a life time of pre-disposition and experience at my disposal after all. Yet if I can be flexible in my thoughts and my approaches, then it follows that I will naturally start to have more choices. To ‘think cat’ in this instance is to accept, then flex and adapt and in doing so, learn more deeply and move on more quickly. And then, I will find that the concrete boots holding me painfully down, have started to dissolve and will invariably crumble to dust, and I will find myself free and bare footed – always my favourite way to travel.

And Taz, for all his fine feline intelligence is still a simple, kitten soul, who values, food, independence, and also I am delighted to say – love. He gives and receives of love in its’ most simple, unaffected and affectionate guise.

So Taz really is, in my completely inflexible opinion, the most magnificent of lucky black cats…

PS: Did you know that a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, cats and all?  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a purrfect present, for you or the cat lover in your life… You can buy it from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

What Cats Teach Us About Boundaries, or… ‘what’s yours is mine & what’s mine is mine’

Number 15 out of 28; this piece is part a Blog Challenge to write and publish a post, every day of the 28 days of February 2015, from Sandra Peachey – the author of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’.

George Tickets

“But I was only keeping them warm for you…”

One evening I was dashing around getting ready for a night out. I had been well organised and printed off the tickets I needed well in advance, and now I was ready to leave the house… I raced around looking in all the usual safe spots, but the tickets had seemingly disappeared… Finally I spotted them – they were on the sofa of all places; and in fact were ensconced under my cat George (quite rightly and safely, in his opinion). I grabbed the tickets out from under him, wondering if he was either – being helpful and pointing to them for me; he was trying to prevent me from leaving the cave and going out into the jungle; or he had simply taken possession of them…

Cats can be very possessive creatures… Leave your favourite jumper, or a pile of laundry, or a book, or any number of random objects lying around unattended, and next thing you know, a cat will be draped over it, probably feigning sleep. If you then dare to reclaim that particular possession, the un-felicitous feline will be righteously outraged and shall then invariably shoot you such a look of such distain and reproach, that the fact that you did not want your (own owned) object covered in mud and fur, is now rendered of absolutely no consequence. In short, they have hijacked what was rightfully yours and yet you are the one feeling mildly bad / slightly sad! Cats are clever like that…

That’s my humorous, human take on it of course, but really what I see with cats, is a constantly curious examination of and experimentation with the boundaries that surround them.

In amongst ‘The Pride’ that is composed of 3 cats and myself, there is an invariable pushing and testing of the boundaries that both tie us together, and characterise how we interact. And these interactions naturally happen in the human world too, and often will surface in the coaching work that I undertake with clients.

A case in point was one of my corporate clients. Several summers ago I was coaching a lady called Carol who had a high powered, professional job in a very male dominated industry. Her manager had suggested that she undertake a programme of coaching, so she had come to me and together we were working through a number of inter-related issues – which, as they do for so many of us, were inter-woven with her emotional history, her personal life and her work life.

Carol would come to my house once a week at 8.00 am, for a two hour coaching session, which would almost invariably be conducted in the garden, (or, as I like to refer to it, my ‘outside office’). As always Carol would be let in, greeted by the cats, select a flavoured tea (from the vast range that I provide) and then settle herself down at my garden table.

I remember how one particular morning we were discussing boundaries… Carol was working through some issues that she had with several work colleagues. It seemed as if there was a blurring of the boundaries in respect of who took charge, who took notice and how every one functioned as part of their team. As a result, there was a lot of verbal jostling and email jousting, as the various parties involved sought to stake a claim and make a point. It made for a stressful scenario, as people patrolled their power borders, trying to either take (or ignore) their own and other’s respective responsibilities.

As Carol and I worked through this, in the morning sun light, I was explaining my thoughts about boundaries and then, with perfect timing, my cats Taz and Sophia came racing through the garden. Taking no notice of the humans, they literarily screeched to a halt, feet away from our feet and started to scrap. The two of them turned in to snarling knot of fur, with paws, torso and tails, toiling and tumbling in their power play.

I was unconcerned – they do this a lot and neither hurts the other. Their tussles are combination of play and questing for dominance; questioning and pursuing who holds what place in the feline order of things. Play fight over, a new order is established, until the time comes to test it all over again.

For us suited and booted humans at work, it is also normal to test our boundaries, but we need a more solid approach, where colleagues understand and accept the boundaries that are set out – both formally in terms of reporting lines and duties, and informally, through daily interaction.

My duelling cats were neatly demonstrating what happens when challenges to other’s boundaries are made… Carol and I then took their skirmish and used it as a metaphor to draw comparisons with her work situation. We talked through being clear about our own boundaries and other’s, which then made dealing with the ‘border skirmishes’ that incurred into our own territories, easier. For Carol, gaining clarity on this became her own soft power, which meant that instead of individual rucks and retaliations, she now found that she could mentally step away and see the whole picture, not just her corner of it. And in doing so, she gained a greater perspective on dealing with each single situation, suddenly allowing them to become more simple and therefore far less consuming – in terms of time and emotional energy.

Corporate life has often been referred to as a ‘jungle’ and I could make many analogies about that here. Suffice to say that such analogies often emanate from animal type behaviour, yet we need to move beyond this, because that is just one dimension of who we are and what we do.

One of the many reasons that coaches have a place in today’s climate is because of the way in which the world of work is set up, in that we learn the nuts and bolts of our professions, the ins and outs of our tasks and we gain experience in our duties. However, so often we are not given a text book education about how to handle relationships (at work or other wise), how to best manage our thoughts and feelings, or indeed how to manage the every day politics of any of the worlds that we walk through.

And so, needless to say, I shall return to my cats. After their scrap, Taz and Sophia were next to be found sprawled out on the garden lawn, enjoying the sunshine and each other’s company. I watched as Taz suddenly grabbed Sophia’s head with his front paws, and instead of giving her a severe ‘licking’, gave her several lavish grooming licks instead. The gesture felt like another, finer, familial form of putting Sophia in her place, and yet she accepted it with delight and by purring out her pleasure in testament. This place in the order, she did not refute or fight.

I know which kind of licking I prefer…

PS: Real time writing… Due to a delicious piece of unconscious serendipity, I happened to bump into Carol just a couple of hours after I posted this blog… She introduced me to the new man in her life and then told him about her ‘coaching with cats’ experience. She said how loving and friendly the Pride are and how, especially at the beginning of our coaching time together, so often she would be feeling sad and that Taz, my fabulous feline teddy bear, would come to her and nudge her and give her a cat cuddle to cheer her up. She then went on to say that the coaching experience with me was “life changing” and that everything in her world had since changed – her job, her relationship, her home. She finished off by thanking me.

Even after all this time of sharing what I do with the world, I’m still a little uncomfortable with such blandishments, yet I have learnt to accept such gorgeous comments in good grace and also acknowledged in return that she was the one who had made the changes and turned her life around. And it was so lovely to see – she looked less tired and stressed; her energy was so much freer and happier. I don’t have a word for how that makes me feel, though the feeling is a curious blend of humble and proud. Proud, for me, and my coaching cats, of course…

PPS: Did you know that a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, cats and all?  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a purrfect present, for you or the cat lover in your life… You can buy it from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

Cats – on Love, Life and Litter

Cat Heart

So here I am writing a month of blogs and so far they have been cat themed – I am testing and trying out ideas for a new book – ideas for content, for tone, and inspiration…

Three years ago I set myself a blog challenge – to write a Love Letter to Life every day of that romantic month. I completed that challenge and my first book Peachey Letters was born. So that was a whole month of Love Letters – to many and varied aspects in my life. This time, I have only one preoccupation and that is a feline one. Just what can cats teach we humans about Love, Life and Litter? And so the calendar has wound round again to the 14th of February – Valentines Day, so here I am, once again, writing about love.

When it comes to cats and love, like everything else, they pretty much have the whole issue sewn up.

So how do cats do love? I guess the very first object of love is the mother and just like humans they are dependent upon a female adult to nourish them and start to teach them life’s lessons. Mother is the source of food and a warm furry belly to cuddle up to and fall asleep securely within those paw walls.

But the first real lesson in love we can divine is how a cat loves itself. Cats have an innate sense of contentment and care in just about every movement and moment of their lives. They are born with self assurance, which is nurtured by their mother, and reinforced by their fellow kittens. See how, from the earliest age a kitten takes care of itself – taking the utmost pleasure in licking, nipping and grooming its’ coat. Witness their closed eyes and concentrated demeanour and feel their satisfaction at a job well done, and their smuggery at being so beautiful.

To see a kitten or cat of any size, who is feeling secure and happy, at rest, is to witness a complete ease with their own body, and the soft sensual delight of stretching and curling in to endless tangles and poses that belie complete contentment.

Cats love their bodies, they enjoy their bodies, they take care of their bodies.

Whereas in a cat you will see a constant pleasure in the physical, with me it is a love hate thing. I glance in the mirror and see both good and bad. I see fat and I see ageing. Sometimes I see ugly looking back and me, and often I will see beautiful. And whilst I do not have the constant uncritical contentment in my body that a cat does, I do like to take care of this earthly temple that holds my soul. I exercise, I eat well, I rest, I prioritise my self care. In this way I really do think cat. Well… sometimes… sometimes I’m a couch potato, sometimes I eat wrongly or too much, but in being the head of the Pride I get to have more choice, I get to try and to push the boundaries, in all areas of my life; whereas my cats take a more tried and tested route – simple self love and contentment. In truth I am love with the blissful ease of simplicity, yet often I over complicate so many things in my life. There is, most definitely, a lesson in that…

So moving on from self love, why and how do cats give love? Now, much as I am a misty eyed lover of my moggies, I am also a realist. I know it all starts with cupboard love. I know that as the purveyor and opener of tins, pouches and packets, I hold the power. But I am not the only one who feeds the Peachey Pride. Whom so ever in that hungry moment feeds them, has their undivided and ravenous attention… And has, for those few gobbling minutes, their gratitude.

Then they’ve eaten and then they move on…

I, perhaps in a romanticised, self important way, like to think that food is just the starting point and that they also love to give and receive love and affection and in fact, demand it from me.

All my cats want to be stroked, petted and fussed, and they leave you in no doubt about what they want from you. You get head butted, kneaded, mewed at, stamped on and nudged. They want affection and are delighted to receive it, showing their pleasure as purrs – the ultimate expression of cat happiness.

As I have grown in age and wisdom I have got so much better at asking for what I want in love, yet always I can do more, think more cat…

I am not so blind as to think that I am the only human my cats will exchange such loving energy with. But it is from me that they demand the most affection, and in the happy repetition of giving and receiving of it, we form a bond, it strengthens our ties – and that is all part and parcel of how to love well.

As humans, I know that we have different ways of expressing, of giving and receiving love, and only some are about touch and affection.   As various as we two legged creatures are, there are different bonds that brings us together; there are different acts of love, and not just the obvious Valentine ones of roses, cards and chocolates. So, to love well, observe what gives pleasure and feedback and give those back, as your acts of love.

All of my cats love differently, all in their characteristic ways and they show me how to best love them – to be scratched just there – ah bliss! To be offered up a soft trusting belly to tickle, to be allowed onto a lap and also, at times to leave them alone, to let them have their own space, so that all in good order, there can be loving shared space.

I am getting better at asking for how I want to be loved. Just like my cats, I gravitate more naturally and spend time with those who see me and love me for who I am and who, in return show me that I am respected, liked and / or loved, in what ever context I will conjoin with them in.

Now in this regard, I am most definitely and most lovingly, thinking cat

♥ Happy Valentines Day, to all two legged and four legged creatures, every where ♥

PS: Did you know that a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, cats and all?  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a purrfect present, for you or the cat lover in your life… You can buy it from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)