Lessons I Learned from My Cat #writing #cats

Hi, friends. Mae here with a post about patience, that elusive quality which frequently slips through our fingers. If you’re scratching your head, wondering who has time to be patient when a writer’s life is so demanding, slow down and have a seat.

Yes, we’re often flying in several different directions. Writing, editing, critiquing, engaging in promo, Tweeting, Facebooking…you get the picture. Multi-tasking isn’t a function, it’s a way of life.

With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to Onyx, my beautiful black domestic shorthair. Sadly, I had to say goodbye to him early in 2012 when he passed away from cancer, but we had thirteen wonderful years together. During that time he taught me several things, foremost among them patience.  Cats have an endless supply of that all-elusive, mystical quality.

A cat can outwait time.

black cat lying in sunlight on carpeted floor with back to camera

Onyx, a master at relaxing. And looking good while doing it!

Onyx had two favorite diversions (aside from the cat-popular sunbathing and sleeping):  chasing shadows and stalking whatever colorful trinket I dangled in front of him. Crouched behind a piece of furniture, he’d wait with tail swishing for the precise moment to spring. And, trust me, there are only so many ways to make a neon green “twirly stick” festooned with feathers seem like enticing prey. I swear there were times when he must have waited for the planets to align!

I always thought I was patient, but Onyx showed me I’m reactionary at heart.  Like most people I’m used to instant results. Whether I’m Googling information, nuking veggies in the microwave, or 1-clicking my Kindle for an e-book download, I rarely have to wait more than a few seconds. Technology is great, but it’s made me into a fidgety wreck when the world slows down. God forbid I have stand in line for a teller at the bank rather than use the MAC machine or my mobile app; get stuck with a slow internet connection, or be restricted from fast forwarding through commercials when using On Demand (who made that taboo anyway?). I remember when nuking a potato for eight minutes seemed like a godsend. Now it’s eight minutes too long.  When did that happen?

I need to be more like Onyx. Slow down. Pause. Study. Appreciate.

I do it with writing, choosing just the right word for a snippet of dialogue or a passage of descriptive prose. I take my time. I listen to the music of the sentences and how they flow together. I don’t rush. I savor.

We live in a fast-forward world, and that makes it easy to get derailed. Sometimes we need to press stop and be the feline in the grass. My cat, the sage. He had it together.

We can be our most creative, even our most productive, when we’re not in a rush. Slow down, enjoy the day, and take a moment to savor all you’ve accomplished.

a flexible pink cube with a pink feather play toy

Raven, in play mode

By the way, a month ago, I welcomed a new kitten into my home. Raven has boundless amounts of energy, and she’s proving to be a teacher too. She’s already taught me to take breaks when writing. Because as every good author with a cat knows, play breaks are mandatory.  🙂

When you need a break from writing, what do you do to unwind?

42 thoughts on “Lessons I Learned from My Cat #writing #cats

  1. Pingback: Writing Links in the 3s and 5…11/14/16 – Where Genres Collide

  2. Great reminder we need to take breaks, and that this business often moves at snail speed. Still miss our poor Socks, who vanished without a trace. Our remaining Zoey just isn’t as cuddly, because of course it’s always on her terms. Some days I’d like to be a cat so I could just curl up and sleep without worrying about anything else. The kids still beg for a kitten to replace our missing cat, but Zoey isn’t exactly the welcoming type. 😀 Your little Raven is beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Poor Socks. I know that had to be horrible for all of you. And I know it’s hard to introduce a new kitten into a house with an established cat. Hopefully, Zoey will turn a leaf and become the cuddly sort 🙂

      I often think that same thing about cats…how wonderful it must be to just curl up and snooze as much as you want with no worries!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wise words, Mae. Raven (love the name, btw) looks like Onyx re-incarnated. I had my Sparky (they could be twins) for almost 17 years. When he passed I cried so much my tear ducts literally dried up. Imagine? I didn’t know that was even possible. So I get it, I really do. Sorry about Onyx. {{{hugs}}}

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sue. And I’m so sorry about Sparky, though I know you enriched Sparky’s life for 17 wonderful years and vice versa. I’m so thankful God gave us pets. Thanks for the hugs, and sending them back your way! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We have always had cats too, three of them were black. Now we have a dog and she is a lot of fun and teaches us stuff too. She reminds me to shit off the computer every now and then and take her for a walk.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, for that feline ability to sleep anywhere, in any container, no matter how small. 🙂 Good teachers! And good points, too.

    Five years with no cat is beyond my ken, I’m afraid.. I don’t believe I’ve ever lived in a house without at least two. We’ve always practiced the overlap principle of cat acquisition. When our oldest ones reach the age of 4 or 5, we bring in kittens, and they grow up and take over when the seniors head to that big litterbox in the sky. Never a gap between. 😀 And I have a solid black cat, too. Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. He’s completely solid black. Well. Except for the white marks on his face and his pink nose, of course. And four white feet. And a little splash of white on his tummy. But other than that, completely solid black. 😀

    Fun post, Mae. Shared with all sundry! 😀

    Liked by 3 people

      • Yes, I tell you. Harry is solid black. SOLID. BLACK. Sort of. A bit. Okay, not really. But he’s bee-yootiful, anyway. 🙂 We will always have a cat or two, until that day when we can’t take care of them anymore. We have four now, along with the two dachshunds. I love my sausages, but you’ll notice I’m NOT saying we’ll always have dogs. Nuh-uh. There comes a time when the extra work dogs create is not a lot of fun. So when these two are gone, we will be loving on OPD’s. (Other People’s Dogs.) 😀

        Our cats do, indeed, have it made. And they KNOW it. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m an OPD girl. I must remember that term 🙂 And when it comes to cats, I now frequently quote a line you shared on your blog…having dogs is like having kids, but having cats is like having a roommate. It’s so true, Marcia! Cats require so little work and give so much in return. Although I have to say your sausages can melt hearts 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:

    Busy? Running this way and that? Stressing over the latest WIP deadline? Today, over at Story Empire, I’m sharing a post about lessons for slowing down that I learned from my cat. Yes, cat, LOL. I thought a few of you might be interested in checking it out.


  7. I really needed this post today. I’m trying to get my life organized, and I’m finding that it doesn’t help to be in too big of a hurry. Things are more likely to go wrong. As an owner of a solid black cat (see how much alike we are?), I should understand that. Watching him slink around slowly, biding his time, I should learn patience. He’s HUGE, by the way, as is his tabby colored sister. 🙂

    Thanks for reminding me to slow down and enjoy life!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love that you have a black cat! 🙂 And, of course, that he has a tabby companion. I’m sure they are both special.

      I think it’s easy to fast-forward along, never stopping to take a breather, then suddenly realizing–whoa!–there’s got to be a better way of doing this. There’s a lot to be said for slow and steady. I remember a day when “multi-task” wasn’t even a word. Wow, how things have changed!

      Thanks for dropping by and reading with me, Onyx and Raven today, LauraLynn! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I, too, am impatient. And I hate it. I really need to learn to slow down.

    When I need a break, I turn to Casey and Max, my two puppies. I’m laughing as I read what I just wrote. We call them puppers and/or doglings, but they’re around 100 pounds each and are 6 and 5 years old, respectively. Not really puppies. (Kind of like our kids will always be our babies, even when they’re adults. Another lesson I’m painfully learning.) Must be something about animals, though, that soothe the soul and put things in perspective.

    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You definitely do a lot of juggling, Staci, so I know you can relate! And, OMG, I love the terms “puppers” and “doglings.” I’m going to have to remember those. I call every canine I see a “puppy,” it doesn’t matter how old or how big they get. Yours sound special. And yes, animals, are so good for soothing the soul. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for the reminder Mae. Beautiful cats, by the way. They are a great excuse for a little down time. We haven’t had a cat in our home for a while now, but when he was here, Spike used to climb onto my lap and nuzzle my chin, demanding that I slow down for a bit.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This is a lovely post, Mae, and wonderful pictures 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing. It is so true that life and the world is so full of busy. And the advent of the world wide web has encouraged us to have an ‘on demand’ approach to life. At the click of a button, we can have instantaneous results (or nearly so). I try my best to take frequent pause-breaks throughout my day, and my computer sits in front of a window with views of the fields. That way, I can rest my eyes on the greenery many times while working. When I’m not writing, I’m usually found reading books and listening to music, lols. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I like the idea of those views you have while working, Harmony. Too much instant gratification makes us appreciate less, I think. Pause-breaks are needed to put things back in perspective, especially after a wall-to-wall of stimulus.

      I often listen to instrumental music when I write (I can work to anything with lyrics) and when I’m not writing, my nose is often buried in a book, too. LOL! Music, books, and cats–fabulous pastimes!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Great post, Mae! As a cat lover, I’ve learned several lessons from my two little darlings. I confess I hadn’t thought about them teaching me to be patient. Maybe each time Little Bit crawls in my lap while I’m busy at the writing desk, he’s really telling me to slow down and be patients.

    Liked by 2 people

    • From one cat lover to another, I think Little Bit is pretty wise 🙂 Raven generally curls up in a small bed beside my computer screen when I’m working, but even then there is stretching, mews, paw taps and the occasional stroll across the keyboard, LOL. I think cats have an innate ability to know when we need a break! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. So true your statement, I mean, “Slow down, enjoy the day, and take a moment to savor all you’ve accomplished.”
    Your cats are wise creatures of the Universe.
    Mine also share with us their joy and patience and contentment. Sometimes they are a handful but, at the same time, also a blessing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah, they are indeed a blessing, Carmen. I am so grateful for Raven, and I know that you are for yours as well.
      Now I just need to heed my own advice (learned from Raven) about slowing down and appreciating the moment! 🙂


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