My Blog

An avocado love story

I could never pick one favorite food.  When that question is posed it strikes me as absurd.  There are so many options when it comes to eating, it’s impossible to say any food is better than all the rest.  What I can say is that one of my great pleasures in life is simply the avocado.

Since I was a child the allure of guacamole was strong.  I wanted it all of the time, and would beg my mother when we went out to eat to take me to a Mexican restaurant.  I liked the other food on the plate, but none of it would have meant anything without a big dollop of green on top.  I gravitated towards that color, but really, only in food.  I would actually get excited if I was going somewhere and knew that guacamole and chips were being served.  You would think all these years later the excitement would die down or at least not be as inviting, but nope, I am in love with avocados all the time, every day, still.  Not a day goes by where I don’t think of slicing one open and incorporating it into a meal.  I eat them with almost everything: salads, soups, pasta, sandwiches, vegetables, grains, etc… They never bore me or disappoint.

I have even come to exhibit what I refer to as avocado anxiety.  Sometimes, like a bad apple that’s bruised, an avocado can look intact and perfect from the outside, but when cut open it’s black.  Those are some of the worst moments food wise when what’s usually a home run is instantly turned into a strike out.  The few times I had a piece of black avocado in my mouth the taste was vile, like garbage that had been sitting out in a heatwave.  Sickening.  Nauseating.  I have become somewhat of an expert when picking them out over the years.  I feel them and examine their skin, looking for any possible blemish that could cause this awful syndrome.  But, it’s never foolproof.  Nine out of ten times they’re perfect, and their creamy goodness is present waiting for me to appreciate it like it’s a great work of art, which to me it is.

Avocados only start to ripen when they’re picked from a tree.  Knowing when it’s in it’s prime and ready to be consumed necessitates attention.  I like to buy them hard so I can monitor their progress closely.  I don’t mess around with this.  When I have several ripe ones at the same time, I immediately refrigerate them to stave off future decay.  I hate losing one, they’re all so precious.

Avocados are always going up and down in cost.  Most come from California and Mexico.  Because of climate change and droughts, shortages can occur with not much warning.  When I come across an article admonishing avocado lovers beware: there’s gonna be a scarcity soon and prices will skyrocket, I start to panic.  Just the idea that there won’t be an ample supply is enough to drive me to a melancholic state.

The good news:  my animals have never been interested in them, so I’ve never had to share.

Gray Hair

My hair is turning gray.  Currently I have way more dark brown than gray, but, slowly and surely this change is happening.   A lot of women dye their hair not ever entertaining the idea of letting nature take its course.  They think it would make them look old, or even worse, undesirable, and it is simply not an option.   More and more when I look in the mirror, especially on a bright sunny day, I notice the silver strands scattered all around, and I can’t help but, in some way still be surprised to see them.  At these moments they really stand out, and, my mortality hits me; I am aging.  At 35 years old I don’t feel old old, but I can’t say I feel particularly young either.  Time is flying by, and the gray shouts that out to me loud and clear.

The thing is…I don’t want to color my hair.  I’m worried about putting such toxic chemicals right into my skin.  They are cancer causing, yet many people who care about environmental toxins seem to make an exception when it comes to their hair.  They buy organic food, drink filtered water, exercise, but risk their health in this common, ubiquitous way.   Besides that, there’s the maintenance of it, not to mention the cost.  To me, sitting in some salon every 5-6 weeks for hours makes me feel imprisoned and obligated in a way that stresses me out.   I’m definitely not looking forward to losing all of my dark hair (I love the color), but I also don’t mind the amount of gray I currently have.  I don’t think it makes me look unattractive, but I’m noticing how others (always women) sometimes react by the way they look at it or make a comment.  I’ve heard things like “you know you’re gonna end up dyeing it”, or, “your face is too pretty to age yourself before your time”.

I see women all the time who have beautiful uncolored hair.  I think, depending on the shade, it can be striking, alluring, interesting.  There’s something about someone, woman or man, who accepts the trajectory of natural aging that moves me.  I respect and find appealing the absence of vanity and self-consciousness and admire the positive acceptance of those not trying so hard to look younger than they are.  I definitely don’t find a man unattractive who’s a silver fox.  It’s such a double standard in this culture when it comes to our beauty.  Men are found to be distinguished, and women, invisible, and over the hill.

Animals don’t judge our looks or give a damn about any of this.  They could care less whether their human is gray.  It is that attitude and their enlightened countenance that makes our furry friends all the more loveable.

 

Coffee Shop

I am a non-conformist, an outsider.  I have always been drawn to weirdness, oddities, and esoteric ideas.  I love coming across a book or movie that blows my mind and gives me a new way to look at the world.  Many of the best moments of my life come from those discoveries that shake me to my core and fill me with excitement about being alive, despite the always present pain of being a sensitive human existing in an often ugly, terrifying world.   I tend to shy away from what’s popular or what’s “in” at any given moment.  No matter how many people get excited about the latest cinematic superhero offering, I am never interested in seeing it, and the few times I have I’ve been miserable trying to get through it.  I like this aspect of myself, take pride in my taste, and am glad to know when I like something and when I don’t.  The way I’m certain that I’m into something, be it a film or a person, is simply interest.  If I’m digging it I pay attention and become absorbed.  When I don’t care, I zone out even when I’m really trying to focus. This is a blessing and a curse.  There are parts of life that require attention even if they’re super boring, and I don’t “get” things that are important, things that require a fundamental understanding.

I often beat myself up for not retaining what I’m told I need to know.  When an explanation is given, I pretend I understand because of my fear of being thought of as stupid.  That’s my worst worry, that someone will think of me as stupid and/or boring.  The irony is that my experiences have taught me that people who might think that of me are the very people that I generally experience as stupid and/or boring themselves.  I see it now, as I continue to develop more and more confidence in my intuitive skills as a positive thing; to get someone out of the way before any more of my time is spent.

I once got a job at a cute, trendy café in downtown Manhattan.  I was nervous about taking on this responsibility but intrigued at the same time.  I walked around the neighborhood, getting excited about where I would soon be spending my time, imagining the funky bookstore I would frequent after a long day of making cappuccinos and serving fancy croissants to all the cool city folk.  The morning came for my first day, where I would be trained do whatever it is that it takes to run a coffee shop.  A man took me over to the machine that made the coffee: espressos, cappuccinos, macchiatos, etc.  He ran through it a couple of times then asked me to do it.  I froze.  I didn’t know where to begin.  I asked him to please show me again.  He was nice and repeated the process.  I felt his frustration (as well as my own) but assumed it would fade as the day went on.  He gave up and told me to help with something else in the meantime.  A couple of hours later the lunchtime crowd came in, and the place was swarmed.  The manager came over to me and said, in the midst of this influx of energy, “wrap the sandwiches in wax paper and aluminum foil after they’re made by the guy who makes the sandwiches fresh to order”.  She handed me one, and when I wrapped it she said “no, not like that, let me show you.”  After two more attempts she glared at me with disgust and anger and fired me.  Just like that.  I saw it in her face: I was too much of an imbecile to wrap a sandwich properly.

I left the place and burst into tears.  I was hysterical.  I couldn’t contain my self-loathing, not being able to accomplish this simple task.  An animal would never fire me for this.  An animal would never condemn so quickly and easily, ever.  This event took place about 15 years ago, and now I can laugh at it.  I was so negatively impacted at the time, but now it’s a memory of little importance other than it being so memorable.

The Power of Connection

I spent time the other day with a new friend, someone I met not too long ago, but instantly felt a connection with; a strong familiarity.  We spoke about many things: family, politics, books, travel, etc.  There wasn’t an awkward silence or an uncomfortable moment; a most pleasant way to spend an afternoon.  Many aspects of this conversation struck me, and when it was over, and we said goodbye, I couldn’t stop thinking about myself and my place in this world through the eyes of this human being.

I grew up alone in many ways.  I am an only child with divorced parents with whom I was and am deeply involved, but my other family members, beside the grandparents I lived with for six years in a hellish home, were scarcely in my life.  I never had the closeness I craved: no loving circle of aunts, uncles, or cousins, or close family friends.  I would always look at people I knew who had places to go and people to spend holidays with, the ones with abundant camaraderie and warmth centered around their bloodline.  That would lead me to feeling unwanted and unlucky.

As I grew up, I desperately needed to be noticed and seen.  I pretended that I didn’t need anyone, that I had an independence and didn’t need validation from the outside world, but that was not true; it was a way for me to try and mask the emotional pain that festered within me.  The hurt was so pervasive that I became extremely self-deprecating and lived permanently in a dark night of the soul.  I desired guidance, mentorship and direction, someone to lead me through this abyss of alienation.

What I’m getting at is how crucial it is to feel the interest of others, to know that your life is being seen by people who have an authentic curiosity and investment in how your life progresses.  I had a glimpse of that feeling while sitting with this wonderful, insightful, brilliant person who gets me, who looked at me deeply, not just my appearance or my resume, and sees through the surface to the unique person I am.  To feel appreciated is priceless, and how different our world would be if everyone received recognition for the creation they are.  So much pain from feelings and experiences of being unloved, of being treated as insignificant and deemed worthless, leads to devastation and destruction of mass proportions that denies so many of us the beautiful, fulfilling lives that we deserve to live.

Animals, on the other hand, are always paying close attention.  My cat Bubby stops right in front of me and stares every time she walks in the room.  Even when I’m immersed watching T.V or reading a book, she waits with her penetrating gaze until I acknowledge her and touch her body.  She is teaching me many things, but this particular lesson is that I am worth stopping for and being paid attention to.  I appreciate her appreciation and, no matter what’s going on, I let her know that I’m thankful for this most important reminder.

I’m honest about my needs even if they come across as selfish to others.  I want to be loved.

 

I love doing nothing

I love doing nothing.   That doesn’t mean I love having nothing to do.  I need action to a point, but nothingness to me means having the freedom to decide what I want to do and allow how I feel to shape my day.    I live in New York City and have always marveled at the hectic pace many people choose to live in.  I used to stare out the window during morning rush hour and actually, physically feel stressed and overwhelmed when watching others going to work.   These feelings I’ve lived with often made me feel idle and inferior to how I was told the proper way to live was.  As feelings of insignificance and worthlessness took hold of me for not being consciously motivated to create an existence where the greater number of my hours were accounted for, I shut down and pulled away from my surroundings even more.  I felt judgment when asked “what do you do, and how do you spend your time?” I wanted to scream out, “I want to spend days lying in bed reading books, watching movies, and just allowing my imagination to roam”.

I am challenged daily with technology.   I am a learner in progress when it comes to all things computers.  My aversion is such that it could take 20 demonstrations of a simple procedure to retain what I need to know.  I often feel embarrassed to ask others for help because I know these are things that they’ve been doing for years and are as automatic as breathing.

Since I started on my current path in animal and human intuition, I have come to understand slowly but surely that how I felt and still feel is more than okay.  I don’t have financial riches, but I am wealthy in ways that are precious and fulfilling.  I know why I do what I do in a way that I never quite pinpointed before.  I am a hypersensitive empath who gets overstimulated easily whether it’s noise, sunlight or someone in my face who’s invading my personal space and draining me.

An antidote to all of this is my cat Bubby.  Whenever she walks into a room, I immediately either smile or feel enormous love.  I refer to her as my furry ball of love and consciousness who always soothes and calms the anxious energy I so often feel.  Unlike humans, I never get tired or bored of her.  Everything she does is adorable and interesting, and it never, ever, gets old.   When I’m in the darkest of moods, just laying with her and having that physical contact, especially touching her warm belly, makes me realize how transient all my worries are.  She provides me with a depth of knowledge that can transform the hurt that comes up in this world filled with so much sadness and lack of progress.  Bubby saves me all the time, and because of her, it’s impossible to really do nothing when I’m connecting to her.

 

Why I love seniors

Every animal I’ve had has been two things: rescued and a senior.  We live in a society that is solely focused on youth, and that even extends to pets.  So many people who decide to bring an animal into their home want puppies and kittens.  Of course, small, tiny animals are cute, but in my opinion, there’s nothing like adopting a dog or cat that already has a formed personality.  You also don’t have to deal with training them, having them climbing up walls, knocking stuff down, and bringing so much hectic, chaotic energy that can be stressful to all.  I understand that some people love the idea of having their child grow up with a dog to have 15 years with, but overall I wish age wasn’t such a deal breaker for so many.  In my perfect world, seniors would adopt seniors always.

The market of youth is so touted and catered to by every corporation that exists, whether it’s Hollywood, fashion, teachers, salespeople etc.  Growing old can be such an interesting, enlightening process of growth, depth, and beauty.  Unfortunately, our world tends to overlook all that can be offered from a person who’s lived longer and had more time to experience, just like animals.  When I found my cat Moish out in the street on a bitter cold Manhattan evening, I thought from looking at him that he couldn’t have been more than a couple of years old.  Boy, was I wrong!  The three different veterinarians that examined him all had different assessments of his age.  One said 8, another said 13, and the last one who was there when Moish was euthanized said 18.   In the end it didn’t matter; Moish was in my life for a year and eight months, but what a time we had.  He was the best possible cat I could have wanted.  Even though I ended up not having nearly as much time with him as I would’ve liked, I couldn’t be prouder that he found me when he did.

It’s often said that when a woman gets to a certain age she becomes invisible.  Same with animals.  They sit there in their cages waiting to love and be loved.  I for one know how important it is for all animals to live in a great home with people who love and care for them no matter if they’re a day old or 15 years old.  I just wish more humans felt the same way.

Sensitive child vs insensitive teacher

I recently came across a letter that my 5th grade teacher wrote to my mother.  I was stunned by the force of negativity lying inside.  In it she wrote how there were severe gaps in my knowledge and how my answers in class were extremely bizarre, incomprehensible and irrelevant to the topic at hand.  She then expressed how I never seemed to remember whatever it was she taught the day before.  Then, while lamenting her “concern” for my intellectual deficiencies, she explained that she was trying to help me but didn’t sound too hopeful for a positive outcome.

My experience of this teacher had been terrible.  She was stern, cold, and lacking in empathy for the children in front of her, using her power on earth to discourage rather than encourage a child with a mind capable of critical thinking.  She failed to nurture a sense of uniqueness and therefore discouraged any sense of the value of a positive self-image.    Rereading this diatribe from her brought up so many emotions from that time in my life.  What struck me more than anything was how strongly I had internalized the belief that I was stupid, incapable, worthless, insignificant, and most of all a loser.

When one is a child, and adults are telling you who and how you should be, the wheels are set in motion of feeling immense pressure that has no way of being put in perspective. This incident, among many, culminated in such powerful feelings of self-loathing that it inevitably formed how I operated and navigated the world in front of me.

All these years later, as an adult in my mid-thirties, I still question my own value.  I think of myself as a very self-aware person who lives and breathes honesty and authenticity about my life; however, it’s incredible how being a sensitive empath who feels the emotional pain of others when confronted with it can send me back to being that scared, wounded child who had no control over how I was being treated.  If I knew then what I know now I would have stood up to this teacher who cruelly, but probably unintentionally, had no clue how her words would be absorbed by a ten year old kid just trying to survive and make it into adolescence with as much ease as possible.

We’re all hurt as we walk along on our journey, and even though time doesn’t stop for us, we must stop for it.  Really realizing that whatever I spurned in this woman had little to do with me, and more to do with her, is understandable, yet, the hurt becomes lodged in the psyche until hopefully, one day, it ceases to have the same powerful effect it once had.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My Cats” by Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski is my favorite poet.  I love Charles Bukowski.  Charles Bukowski loved cats.  He wrote many poems about cats; there is even a book of his collected poems about cats.  His poem “My Cats” is about what I believe and what I have been studying.  Cats are my teachers.

Bukowski On Cats Book Cover

 

 

Bukowski with ginger

 

My Cats

I know. I know.
they are limited, have different
needs and
concerns.

but I watch and learn from them.
I like the little they know,
which is so
much.

they complain but never
worry,
they walk with a surprising dignity.
they sleep with a direct simplicity that
humans just can’t
understand.

their eyes are more
beautiful than our eyes.
and they can sleep 20 hours
a day
without
hesitation or
remorse.

when I am feeling
low
all I have to do is
watch my cats
and my
courage
returns.

I study these
creatures.

they are my
teachers.

– Charles Bukowski

 

 

 

 

 

Bubby’s Choice

It was time to adopt a cat.   It had been a few months since my cat Moish passed and Archie was lonesome.  I went on the Humane Society’s website, something I did begrudgingly as I get so upset seeing so many homeless creatures, and quickly stopped when I saw the most beautiful face imaginable.  She was perfect, a senior cat who was waiting for a good home.  I made an appointment to meet her.  The drive to the shelter took about 45 minutes.    The woman in charge asked me a lot of questions and said that Bubby couldn’t be adopted yet because she needed to have surgery; she had never been spayed.  She also told me that Bubby didn’t want to live with other cats; my home really wasn’t suitable.  I left feeling dejected, thinking I would never see this cat again.  I was upset, but hoped she wouldn’t remain on my mind (or in the shelter) for long.

A few days later I got a call telling me that the surgery went well, but the veterinarian said she had never seen a cat with such a propensity for obesity.  I was again strongly discouraged by the shelter director, reasoning Bubby would greedily eat all of the food set out for two cats.  I was resigned; this really wasn’t meant to be.

About a month later I was at home, in a bad mood, having one of those days where unhappiness reigns supreme.  In an effort to cheer myself up I decided to drag myself out of bed and drive to the local outpost of the Humane Society in our town, a little boutique shelter called Purradise.  I walked in and who’s right there?  Bubby!!  She had been transferred just a couple of days before!  I wanted to know why.  The director explained that people come in to adopt kittens; senior cats are not as desired.  Bubby had been at the main shelter for a month and it was thought that she might fare better in a new setting.  The director said she would love for Bubby to be adopted by me.  Since I wasn’t expecting this turn of events, I still wasn’t convinced.  There was another cat there, a male, who I had my eye on.  He was staring at me with such a soulful gaze I decided he might be the one.  When he was removed from his “condo” to hang with me, he ran away quickly, wanting nothing to do with me whatsoever. The director kept telling me how wonderful Bubby was, and that I should really just take her.

I went back home to think about it, not wanting to succumb to any pressure right then and there.  An hour later I made my decision…. I was going to bring Bubby home.  And the rest is history.  She was waiting for me to return, and when I didn’t, she made the long trip to make sure she would see me again.  I am grateful to my angel for orchestrating this remarkable turn of events.

Meeting Moish

My cat Moish came into my life as unexpectedly as possible.  It was a bitter cold March evening while walking home from dinner that fate came into play.  For some reason I took a different route than normal.  I was tipsy from wine.  A woman walked past with a little girl carrying a cat carrier.  As I was crossing the street, she said in broken English: “miss, miss, you want cat? I found just down street, take please.”  I told her to take the cat to the ASPCA which she didn’t understand.  It was dark out and I couldn’t see a thing.  On a whim I said “fine, give it to me!”  My imbibed state quickly thought “what the hell am I doing? I can’t deal with this.”  Up to my apartment I went, weirded out by the situation.
I put the carrier down, took off my coat, and prepared for whatever creature was about to walk out.  Thoughts of disaster arose, what if it’s a skunk? or a raccoon?  I opened the door and out came the most beautiful, soulful, confused cat imaginable.  I was stunned.  He wore a collar with an address and phone number on it, and I knew I was now going to have to track his owner down.  I went to the store, bought a foil roasting pan, litter, and food, and decided it was too late to do anything.  This male feline paced around my apartment, obviously agitated.  When I got into bed a couple of hours later he came in, jumped up, and fell into my arms like a needy baby. This little guy who craved warmth, touch, affection was now with me. I was hesitant about cuddling with him because he had what I thought could be a tumor, or worse, an infected cyst with maggots inside.
The next day I called the number on his collar, and the woman who answered said she had no idea why her number was on the collar.  She swore she didn’t have a cat and sounded sincere.  I next walked over to the address a few blocks from me and rang the buzzer.  A woman who answered started screaming out the window psychotically to get the hell away.  She was insane, and no way was I going to try to reason with her.  When I returned home it hit me:  I have a cat, like it or not.
I ended up spending the next year and eight months with Moish.  Unbeknownst to me he was way older than I thought and turned out to be quite sick.  The time I spent with him was remarkable.  Our bond was so tight and I loved him as much as humanly possible.  His destiny was to pass away with me, and as painful as that was, I wouldn’t change knowing Moish Hoffman for the world.