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Author Archives: Harmony

Dreaming Big in Harmonyland: A State of the Human Address

Dreaming Big in Harmonyland: A State of the Human Address

 

 

self-portrait framed

Self-Portrait, Good Hair Day

 

Picture it: A human being, waking up to her own life. There would be much rubbing-of-sleep from eyes, and many moments of caffeinated affection (chocolate, anyone?). Perhaps there would be stretching, and the kind of indelicate yawns done when one is assured that there are no cameras or phones in the vicinity. Then, at the end, with much yowling and knocking-of-things-off-shelves, comes the life-shaking realization that the cats really want to be fed.

In some ways, I feel like this person, even though my cats’ stomachs are currently full. (They would like to be fed again, though; half an hour has gone by since breakfast.) As the new year gets underway, inching its taproot deep into the ground, and as we feed cat after endless cat, I am waking up again to my dreams.

It’s ironic to think of waking up to something that is commonly experienced during REM sleep, but there’s the English language for you: charmingly inconsistent, possibly deranged, but lovable, not unlike us public library users.

 

Trauma-lama-ding-dong

Now, this next bit is for trauma survivors. If you are not a trauma survivor, don’t read it. (But if you are alive as you read this, and I do hope you are, you’ve survived your share of inner zombie apocalypses, so go right ahead.)

There is something about a trauma – the loss of a loved one, a car accident, the death of an animal, even just hearing heartbreaking news, and more, much more – that causes us to let go of our creative dreams. It is as though dreams were held in place by follicles. After trauma, the follicles retract in fear, letting our dreams fall out and shed all over our Aubusson rugs.

Not that this accounts for the thick frosting of cat fur on my carpets. Perhaps nothing does.

I’ve experienced my fair share of the Big T in both childhood and adulthood, so much that a dear friend said recently, “It’s a wonder you lived through it.” I just laughed, but it set my noodle’s motor running, and I started to think.

Nowadays, my life is beautiful – I can say that with all honesty, with a deep, felt-in-my-muscles-and-bones gratitude for the beauty and love and curiosities that surround me (even though I still dance the odd pas de deux with my roommates, anxiety and depression). It’s taken a lot of work to reach this place of acceptance and appreciation. It’s taken a lot of love and caring from several key people – animals and non-animals alike – to help me find my sense of true safety.

 

fat cat

 

But late last summer, I was once more plunged into the high-powered Vitamix of fear after an incident, which shall remain nameless, that reawakened decades-old trauma.

I’ve mentioned this incident, sans detail, in former blog posts. The content of the trauma, in the big scheme of things (and I do like scheming), doesn’t matter. But the result was a stomach-lurching case of insomnia-laced PTSD — followed by vast quantities of healing. I’m not fully back yet, but I’m ninety-percent there, and climbing.

I have shmeditated (which is meditation with a cat on your lap, generally an orange one; cat, that is, not lap). I’ve done deep work in body-based emotional awareness (often still with cat-on-lap, purring preferred). I’ve sought therapy with an entirely incompetent therapist (note: un-recommended). And, with support and laughter from beloved friends (R, S, J, D & W: I’m looking at you), not to mention the (occasionally) peaceful presence of the cats and dogs, minus twelve million episodes of interspecies woofing, I’ve whispered my dream-holding follicles awake and stopped shedding all over my imported carpets.

So to speak.

 

These, then, are my dreams:

  1. To write personal essays that might, now and then, cause just one brain cell in one reader to laugh, or at least give a compassionate snort.
  2. To publish said pieces in professional markets, which may just mean my wobbly little blog. (A good motto: “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down!”)
  3. To collect the aforementioned essays into very, very, very good books (or very, very, very terrible books, depending on your point of view, but if that’s the case you might want to point your view elsewhere, sweetheart).
  4. To ramp up my art-making (using my as-of-yet unrevealed new painting mediums) as well as my art-sharing here on Harmony with Animals and elsewhere. I’m starting today, with this post. And I have many more paintings which will soon see the light of the Internet (and the light of your eyes, I hope).
  5. To sell my art (which I accidentally typed as “sell my heart”; good thing I’m not Freudian). Two days ago, I had my first nibble for my first-ever art sale, the thought of which is knocking every single sock I’ve ever worn off my feet. More on that soon.

These dreams may not seem that big. But they are. They are.

Sometimes, I cast my gaze like a searchlight through the dark corners of my life. When I’m in the right mood, which is increasingly often, all that’s revealed is beauty – plus a few dust bunnies, fed by copious cat fur, and the occasional corgi nosing near the baseboards for crumbs.

When I’m in the wrong mood, though, you probably don’t want to hang around. Good thing that’s rare.

These days, I am waking up more and more. More and more the searchlight finds not just the storied past, but possibilities: dreams and (dare I say it?) goals, a word to which I was violently allergic in the past, but now can tolerate in very small doses.

If you’re waking up to your own dreams, too, let’s rub the sleep out of our eyes together. Tell me your vision, and I’ll tell you mine. I’ll buy you a drink (hot cocoa, anyone?) and we’ll pass the long, slow morning together, spreading the beauties of our futures like cards on the table before us.

These cards will be sat upon by cats, guaranteed.

 

 

 

It’s 2015, and (After a Brief Hiatus) the Stars are Back in My Eyes (Ooh, Project Light Year!)

It’s 2015, and (After a Brief Hiatus) the Stars are Back in My Eyes (Ooh, Project Light Year!)

 

Here we are again, at a new year, with all new groups to join. There are the groups of power treadmillers, which bring to mind bevies of bewheeled hamsters, not your best dress-for-success imagery, but it’ll do.

Then there are the groups of health hackers, analyzing and tracking every aspect of the body that can possibly be enumerated. But these barely work for me; if I’m going to compete for the best cholesterol levels, there had better be a chocolate cake at the finish line.

 

starry-eyed harmony

(Did someone say cake?)

 

There are also groups of artists lighting up like a string of firecrackers in the sky. Groups of writers, too — though maybe more cynical than the artists, they are still flush with beginning-of-the-year optimism, in slightly infectious ways.

Perhaps it’s just my friendly roommate, also known as my anxiety disorder, but I have a little bit of difficulty with starry-eyed beginnings. This may be because few have led to starry-eyed conclusions. In the same way that many people have been hurt by past loves, I have been hurt by past projects that, somehow, through no fault of my own of course, remain incomplete.

But I love all these groups, all this freshness, these bubbling cauldrons of possibility. I might even join a few of them someday. I’ve bookmarked several for the beginning of 2016, at which point I’ll rebookmark them for 2017, fulfilling my motto: Don’t get’er done. (Note: this motto may or may not contribute to my incomplete projects; you decide.)

But there is one group I did join, surprising myself all the while. It’s a group that can’t be defined, a group built on untamed optimism and rollicking courage. When I read about it in December, I felt the word Yes ricochet from rib to rib. I felt my fingers sting with the need to sign up.

The group is called Project Light Year, led by the loveable Liv Lane.

 

 

Daisy Project Nose Year

(Daisy, though, signed up for Project Nose Year.)

 

Let’s talk Liv.

In the fall of 2013, when I had only just recovered from a long-term illness and was still shaky on my feet, I walked through the wet autumn grass at the side of my home. Our dogs, Gloria and Daisy, no doubt frolicked nearby, frolicking being among their core competencies.

When you’ve been sick awhile, you tend to think about your life. You tend to find the great, yawning chasms where your dreams had once been. I had stared deep into these chasms and come up with a doozy: I needed to write, and I needed to write now.

Fueled by this sense of urgency, I trompled through the grass and flicked my attention heavenward. “Okay, dudes,” I thought, addressing the otherworldly ambassadors assigned to my case, “I need a group of writing friends, and I need them now.”

Half an hour later, I went indoors and dove into the current of the Internet, where I accidentally found myself staring at an ad for a blogging class led by a bright and shining stranger.

I hadn’t googled writing groups, blogging classes, or anything else vocabulary-related. I’d just been reading an online magazine, and bam.

Like most people, I’ve grown a thick, scaly armor of cynicism at the sight of advertisements. But this one was different. Immediately, I felt a shimmer grow in my gut. I felt my bones leap in my flesh. I’d done enough intuitive readings for others in my past to know that I should not dismiss this.

The class was slated to start in twenty-four hours. One credit card number later, and I was in.

Liv’s class was incredible. She promised that blogging would be life-changing, if we stuck with it, and for the past year-and-a-quarter, I have: through thick and thin, illness and health, spaciness and clarity. My posting schedule has been erratic, but my passion has never waned.

And don’t even get my started on the friendships I’ve developed: Best. Thing. Ever.

Life-changing? Yesh. Oh Yesh. The answer to my “Okay, dudes” prayer.

I owe this, in part, to something special in Liv, an unnamable quality that draws together bright souls, fixes us all up with hot chocolate, and lets us get on with our dreams — together.

It works.

So here I am, in Liv’s group, Project Light Year. No analysis of cholesterol levels. Waist-to-height ratios are left at the door. Resolutions, we’ve discovered, are water-soluble: we’ve tossed them out to sea.

So far, we come as we are. We bring words and art, cracked veneers and failures, and hopes and dreams that are gasping for light. We bring ourselves — we are enough, and then some.

We also bring the light. It’s a BYOL affair. Who knew?

 

Gloria Project Treat Year

(It’s BYO dog treats, too.)

 

Just yesterday, I introduced myself to the group via our Facebook page. Encapsulating oneself in a Facebook introduction is not easy. Cue my roommate, the anxiety disorder, and the task could have been postponed indefinitely (“Don’t get’er done!”).

But I mustered up my courage, gave my roommate a lollipop, and started like this: “Hello, hello! My name is Harmony. I’m a writer, artist, and animal communicator.” Then, I dove into my long-term challenge with illness.

Minutes later, another woman chimed in: “I’m an animal communicator with a long-term illness, too!”

In that moment, sparkles might just have floated before my eyes. Starry-eyed once again? Oh yes. I am.

Here’s to a clear and bright 2015 for all of us — animals and humans alike. BYOL, y’all, and I’ll bring mine, too.

 


 

P.S. Liv has no clue I’m totally promoting her program. (Surprise!) There are no affiliate links in this post.

P.P.S. If your heart is doing the shimmy-shimmy two-step at the thought of this group, I believe that registration is still open for a few more days, and I’d love to see you there.

 

 

Merry Merry All Around: A Peek Beneath our Cats’ and Dogs’ Christmas Tree

Merry Merry All Around: A Peek Beneath our Cats’ and Dogs’ Christmas Tree

kitty christmas.

 

 

In mere days, the gift-giving occasion will be upon us. Luckily for me, I’ve mostly recovered from my six weeks of dread disease and am able to enjoy the festivities.

We don’t exchange many gifts. For us, the greatest gift a person can give is an opt-out of the crazy, plus a good hug and a sneak-attack chocolate bar.

But we do have a few furry souls in our house who clamor for Christmas cheer. Or would, if they weren’t so busy sleeping and/or chasing balls. (Together, those two activities make up a hectic schedule.)

Because none of them can log onto the Internet, I feel free to list the gifts that Santa will attempt to bring them.

Here, for your holiday pleasure, is a glimpse of what could be beneath our tree.

 

 

For Shnoodle:

Shnoodle circle

A big rubber gasket!

 

Five out of five vets agree that rubber bands are bad for cats. But Shnoodle has a thing for them. She loves to hunt them and bite them to death, which terrifies me.

If she were to actually eat one, which she’s never done to my knowledge (even though she has it written on her to-do list), much nastiness could ensue in her small intestine.

As soon as we see a rubber band, we whisk it away before Shnoodle can frisk toward it. The last second rubber-band snatches are harrowing.

But our little girl loves rubber, and who are we to deny her?

So, this year for Christmas, we’re going to the hardware store to buy her a rubber gasket that she can’t bite through.

Now, I don’t know what a gasket is. I barely even know what a hardware store is. I know they don’t sell software, and that there are entire aisles filled with hammers, but that’s where my knowledge ends.

So, imagine me waltzing into our local hardware store and asking, “Do you have the kind of rubber things that my cat will try to kill?”

The store employees will look at me with big, blank eyes and ask if I want a light-up rubber life-size Santa, which probably actually exists.

I’ll say, “No, I want a thing my cat can kill but not bite. You know. For Christmas.”

After which the employees will be forced to find their manager, who may or may not approach me with handcuffs.

This is my noble task between now and the upcoming holiday.

 

 

For Addie:

addie circle

A piece of tissue paper!

 

There is no greater prey than tissue paper. Miss Addie leaps on its back, chomps on its throat, and tears out its papery heart.

Which is what Christmas is all about, really.

In all our years of loving Miss Addie, we had only seen her go crazy over two things: a strain of locally-grown catnip which has only just been legalized in our state, and crinkly packing sheets that come in shipping boxes.

Until now.

Due to my forgetfulness in the Christmas wrap department, I recently discovered that she goes gaga for tissue paper, too.

It’s been days since she attacked, and bits of the paper are still floating through the air. Every now and then, she dislodges a scrap from her whiskers and preens with pride.

So for Christmas this year, Miss Addie is going to get Christmas wrapping. Which, as any cat or creative child knows, is the best kind of gift you could give.

(She might get a rubber gasket, too, if she’s been good.)

 

 

For Gloria and Daisy:

gloria circle thumbnail

Daisy Circle

BONES!
(Need I say more?)

 

 

bones for Christmas

 

 

 

For Tucker:

Tucker circle

A Whole-House Head-Bump-Activated Cat Heating System
(from Skymall)

 

The world’s top feline engineers have been spearheading this project for years.

Based on the information they’ve carefully leaked, it will instantly heat an entire house to ninety-five degrees Fahrenheit, all at the bump of a single cat head.

Future plans include acoustic purr activation.

Unfortunately, the product is still under development, perhaps because feline engineers spend eighty percent of their time napping. (For all I know, Tucker could be one of them, working in his sleep.)

So this year we will get Tucker something close to it, something he can’t get anywhere else, because he is not allowed to go into anyone else’s house:

A hot fire in the woodstove, a wool blanket on the hearth, and the freedom to snore all night if he pleases.

It will be a very merry, very snorey, very happy Christmas.

 

 

Merry Everything to everyone here
and to every single one of your cats, dogs,
and various family members.

 

 

 

Nap in the Now, plus a plea for your napping magic from a dear, sick friend (that’s me)

Nap in the Now, plus a plea for your napping magic from a dear, sick friend (that’s me)

  I’ve been slammed down with a whopper of a flu in the past three-point-five weeks. I thought I was better, but I tanked again. Which explains my radio silence around here — I haven’t even replied to many of the comments that you’ve so graciously left on my last two posts. Mea culpa, andContinue Reading

I Thank My Lucky Stars for You: Giving thanks for a very good year of blogging

I Thank My Lucky Stars for You: Giving thanks for a very good year of blogging

        Something special slipped by more than a month ago, without my notice: the first birthday of this blog at Harmony with Animals. I published my first post here, The Cows of Grief, on October 9, 2013. The thirteen months since have been an explosion of color, of joyous animal art, and now, a gentleContinue Reading

The Great Wave, the Stark Blue Sky, and All the Eyes of the Animals: In which we discover one less thing that we owe to the world

The Great Wave, the Stark Blue Sky, and All the Eyes of the Animals: In which we discover one less thing that we owe to the world

      Outside, I may look the same: a woman held beloved by some, indifferently by most, and maybe hated for all I know, writing and painting and tutoring college students with my days. My home is stable, even serene when the three cats and two dogs are napping, though not when their twenty legs gallopContinue Reading

Courage! Coming Soon to a Blog Near You!

Courage! Coming Soon to a Blog Near You!

    So. How long ago was it that I got sick from my acrylics? I know: A billion years. And all this time I have been promising you panting hounds the long, cool drink of knowledge: Just what the heck is Harmony painting with these days? What is this masked mystery medium she’s referredContinue Reading

Happy St. Francis Day! An itsy bitsy watercolor celebrating the celebration of animals

Happy St. Francis Day! An itsy bitsy watercolor celebrating the celebration of animals

    Once upon a time, back in the 13th century, back before the 21st century was even a glimmer in our ancestors’ eyes, there lived a monk who loved animals. His nickname was Francis.         Let’s follow his lead and celebrate our spiritual connection with animals — the animals we love, theContinue Reading

Miss Addie’s Sunbeam: A Furry Photo Festival

Miss Addie’s Sunbeam: A Furry Photo Festival

    It’s time for celebration. Luckily, Miss Addie got the memo. So did the sun. Yesterday afternoon, a serendipitous sunbeam shot across my office, catching this beautiful cat in its glow.       I grabbed my camera, swiftly swapped out memory cards, and started clicking away, as Miss Addie purred in the sunlight. She droolsContinue Reading

Come, Autumn. Come, Harvest. Come, Joy.

Come, Autumn. Come, Harvest. Come, Joy.

  The truth is, I don’t want to write this. Or anything. The truth behind that? I really do want to write and share. It’s just hard right now. It’s been a very hard summer. All of the stress is catching up with me, and I have been shrinking back into my shell.   Beginning It hasContinue Reading

 
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The Beginner's Guide to
Animal Wisdom

is a little ebook that will help you listen to your animal pals.
Want the book & occasional newsletter? Sign up below.

(Or visit this cute little page to hear me fizz about why this book is fabulous!)

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