This is Bear, sitting on the stairs. This picture is actually kind of a miracle.
One week before we got him, my husband and I burned the last of the medicines we had used for Starfish's bundle, like the little bits of plants and stems we had cut off that ended up on the floor after we were finished his ceremony.
(I wrote the story of Starfish's passing here)
We were going to burn them in the fire we had a month after his passing on the new moon to feast him. But we forgot to add them to that fire and it kind of felt like we were holding on, not quite ready for that last goodbye.
When we were ready, we burned them and told Starfish how much we missed him and how grateful we were for his presence in our lives and asked him to send us a nice cat when we were ready.
Six days later, my husband suddenly fell in love with a cat in a shelter while he was looking for a puppy for a client. I said no. Absolutely not. We're not ready. We should wait until we've moved. And we wanted to get a mellow, older cat.
But my husband wouldn't let up, he knew this was our cat.
That night I dreamed about this cat, so the next morning I agreed to to see him.
Of course, as soon as I laid eyes on him it was all over.
This was our cat. We brought him home.
Bear was born in a shelter and had lived there for 1.5 years, he never knew a life outside of being in a cage. He didn't know what a home was and he was pretty freaked out to be here.
For the first few days he hid in random places and then one day we came home and couldn't find him anywhere. His food and cat box were un-used and Bear was nowhere to be seen for over 24 hours. We were so scared.
And then the next morning I heard a small meow.
We had already done this, but I decided to try again. Behind our fridge is a fridge-sized storage area, and beside that is our hot water tank and furnace - this is behind the kitchen wall and under the stairs. You have to pull out the fridge to get in there. So I pulled out the fridge and went in there and looked around and this time I saw him.
He was all the way in the back under the first stair I just saw his little eyes peeking out. I moved the fridge out and to the side so we could walk into this space. I put his cat box where the fridge had been (still kind of blocked by the fridge so it was quite private) and put his food and water on the furnace.
I told him that under the stairs could be his little apartment for as long as he needed. Now - we can't get around the furnace, we can only access it from one side so there is no way to vacuum in there. It was a horribly dusty dirty place. Bear stayed in there like that for over a week.
Every night before bed my husband and I would stop at this first stair, put our hand on it and say "Goodnight Bear I'm so glad you're here I hope you come out and live with us soon"
It just got sadder as the week went on.
I would go back there and talk to him and he would look back at me, but he stayed tucked into that bottom stair...
Until one night when he woke me up meowing loudly in the middle of the night. I went downstairs and he was standing right on the furnace, right at the edge of his little apartment behind the fridge.
It was like he wanted permission to come out.
So I encouraged him, and he came out and explored. This continued for many more nights as I started to worry that I would never sleep through the night again. And now?
He actually naps like that - on his back with his paws in the air.
He plays with everything - he loves to run round chasing cat toys or a ball of paper or whatever he can find to play with. He loves sitting in the huge windows and watching rabbits, squirrels and birds.
He sleeps with us in the bed every night. He wakes us up meowing for wet food every morning.
He even goes on top of the fridge and into the basket of cat stuff and gnawed through the thick plastic bag so he can help himself to cat treats when he wants them.
I'm writing this sitting on my couch with my legs stretched out. Bear is snuggled up with my feet and kind of petting my leg with his tail.
He learned how to live in a home and he's thriving.
He even looks different!
His fur was rough when we first got him and now it's silky soft. And it's easy to forget how there was a time when he didn't eat for 48 hours.
But when I saw him sitting on the stairs I took that photo because I was remembering how I would stop and put my hand on that stair every night to try to send him some love.
We adapt to the circumstances of our lives. Like Bear was used to living in a cage and so when he came here he found that smallest space - under that bottom stair - and made it his home. It took time before we was able to adapt to be able to spread out into the whole home.
But now, you can just see, he is being more who is really is. He's thriving.
We are the same. We can shrink into spaces that are too small for our actual potential and start to call that home.
And, when given the opportunity, we can expand.
And, this is how we're different from cats of course, we can create new circumstances for ourselves. In fact we do this all the time - we are continually growing into who we really are.
Because this process of growing and adapting can be so uncomfortable at times (I mean I'm pretty sure Bear would have run right back to his cage in the shelter if given a chance on those first few days here) it's so important to engage in a regular practice that helps us stay grounded in our true nature.
This is why I do Creative Dream Alchemy: using my dreams as a north star, or as a shortcut towards my true self, my purpose, my most meaningful and magical life, and engaging in the work of alchemy as a regular practice.
Transforming the places where I want to stay small.
Healing the places where I feel not good enough.
Releasing what is no longer needed.
Exploring what's going on inside me so I can know more fully where I'm being called to grow towards next.
This is ongoing work, so I need to be engaged in an ongoing practice with it. And this is where I'm going with my work with the Creative Dream Incubator.
New programs and tools to make it easier to do that ongoing transformative work - just one baby step at a time - to make it fit into your current life so you can grow your current life into your dream life. Because the delight and freedom that Bear has found here - I think we all deserve that.