Wallace the Wonderful Becomes a Big Brother

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As I write this, Wallace the Wonderful is sitting on the back of the couch, nose pressed to the window. The sun is slowly peaking up and over the rooflines along the street. A murder of crows, roosting somewhere nearby, are cawing up a storm. Wallace’s striped tail twitches; all of this is clearly of interest to him—but so isn’t the small feline sitting at the opposite end of the couch.

Yes, Dear Readers, you read that correctly.

We adopted another fur baby!!!!!

Eh-hem. Sorry. I got a little excited there. Back to the story.

For the last five months, my significant other and I had been discussing the possibility of adding to our fur family. Wallace seemed to be increasingly bored, which meant he was increasingly mischievous. I imagine his thought process looked a little like this:

“Hey, Mom, I see those papers. Are you working on something? Here, let me help with that. Those are some pretty fine bite marks, right? I feel like it really adds to the story.”

And,

“Hey, Dad, you disappeared into the kitchen and left your sandwich on the coffee table. Why are you leaving it? It must not taste good. Here, let me add some seasoning. Voilà, I give you floor sandwich. Do you like it?”

Although Wallace’s hijinks were amusing, we couldn’t help but feel that he was trying to tell us something—that maybe, just maybe, he might need someone to play with. And, so, the discussion began. Should we get a kitten? Should we adopt an older cat? The decision wasn’t an easy one and we became really good at making excuses to delay it. There were autumn weddings that required us to travel, and, while Wallace the Wonderful was more than happy to go to Grandma’s house, would such a move be too disruptive for a new fur baby? Then, of course, there were the holidays to consider. How would the new cat cope with a dinner party? Or interact with a miniature Christmas tree?

Despite all of the activity, and despite all of the indecisiveness on our part, we still found ourselves trolling Petfinder. We made the occasional inquiry; was this cat available? No. What about that one? Still no.

It was then—just when we had given up on the idea of adopting another fur baby—that one of the local shelters listed a rather promising kitten. She was cute. She was spunky. So, as not to waste a moment more, we climbed into the truck and drove to the shelter.

Sometimes, Dear Readers, the best of intentions do not come to fruition. Sometimes, the Universe has a surprise up its cosmic sleeve.

The kitten we were interested in? She wasn’t in the cat colony that afternoon. The little miss was in recovery (she’d just been spayed) and wasn’t seeing any visitors.

We were disappointed, but, at the shelter staff’s suggestion, we went into the cat colony anyways. There was another, slightly older feline that they thought we should meet—a cat named Alderaan.

When we walked into the cat colony that afternoon, Alderaan roused himself from a nap. He looked up at us with big, blue-green eyes, and, as soon as my partner touched him, the little guy began to purr.

We returned to the shelter the next day—when the kitten we had been interested in was set to appear in the colony—but it was Alderaan that stole our hearts. While speaking with the shelter staff about the kitten, Alderaan reached a paw out to my partner. He let it linger on his coat sleeve, as if saying, “Hey, I’m right here. It’s me. I’m your new fur baby.”

So we brought him home.

At three years old, Alderaan is small, weighing only 7 pounds compared to Wallace’s twenty. He wears a slightly bedraggled expression, but every ounce of him is pure love bug. He loves to cuddle. He loves to purr. He loves to sit in one of the living room windows, looking out at the world, while his big brother occupies the other.

And, how has Wallace the Wonderful adapted to the duties of big brotherhood?

Well, like any first child, he’s had some issues sharing his toys (but thoroughly enjoys playing with Alderaan’s toys). He’s hissed a bit. But, by Alderaan’s second morning with us, Wallace and his baby brother were playing together, racing through the kitchen, into the bathroom, and back again. We haven’t caught the pair snuggling just yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

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Second Post, Draft #5

These are the things you should know:

  • As I write this, Sunday afternoon is winding down. The sky is a little darker, a little cloudier. There is a breeze and it speaks of rain.
  • Wallace is curled up in my lap, purring loudly with encouragement. I am only half-joking when I say he is my therapy cat.
  • I’ve rewritten this blog post at least four times…and I still don’t know what I am going to say.

Last week, I began this adventure knowing that my blog wasn’t perfect. Hitting that “update & publish” button was terrifying. It was the kind of rush that pushes your heart up into your throat and makes the sounds and sights all around you a little bit clearer. When my heart finally dropped back down into my chest, it was swollen, grateful, with all the messages and “likes” that you each shared with me. Your encouragement and love carried me through the week. There are not enough words to thank you for that.

This week’s post, though, is a different beast entirely. Whenever I tried to write this post, the words refused to come to me. The ideas were stuck, just out of reach, and entirely unwilling to commit themselves to paper. The writers among you will recognize these symptoms as belonging to a condition called “Writer’s Block”. It’s an acute illness that temporarily paralyzes the writer’s ability—you guessed it—to write. It is characterized by the presence of the dreaded blank page, not knowing what your next step in a story is, or just being plain out of ideas.

But I am not suffering from Writer’s Block. What, then, am I experiencing? Doubt. Terrible, nauseating, doubt. I am:

  • Having doubts that I can write this post.
  • Having doubts that I can write at all.
  • Having doubts that I can write this post without crying and hitting the “backspace” button until the page is clean again.

I am not sure that “doubt” classifies as an emotion or as a thought-process. My gut tells me that it hugs the border between the two with only one main goal: to prevent forward motion. To prevent us from saying, from doing, from feeling, from being. Sure, doubt can be useful too, asking us to reconsider situations which might otherwise be damaging to self or others, but this isn’t one of those situations. This is a situation where doubt can only harm and hinder growth. This is a situation—an adventure—wherein doubt is utterly and completely useless.

What would be useful on an adventure like this one? An unrolled yoga mat to find center amidst fear. A cup of tea to give comfort. The voice of a loved one telling me to stay the course, to keep pushing forward no matter what Doubt whispers in my ear.

Adventures like this one aren’t easy. Putting yourself out there—for the entire world to see and read about—is not easy.

Growth isn’t easy. It hurts to face our fears, our doubts.

But it can be done. One step at a time. One draft at a time.

So, in closing this fifth (and thankfully final) draft, these are the things I hope you know:

  • As I finished writing this post, Sunday afternoon transitioned into Sunday evening. There was still a cool breeze, but it never rained until 3 a.m.
  • Halfway through the writing of this post, Wallace left my lap.
  • I finally figured out what I wanted to say.widget-085816

If Your Best Friend Tells You to Jump…

I feel as though I have written this blog post a thousand times—in my dreams, during my commute to work, on scraps of paper that Wallace the Wonderful is now using as a cat-bed. I never get very far in any of these drafts. I mean, how do you start something like this? What do you say? Do I even have anything to say?

It’s a fairly obvious observation, but bloggers offer something to their readers. Maybe it’s a skill, an experience or a perspective. Maybe it’s a passion. Maybe you’re documenting a new journey—as a first-time mother of twins or as a globetrotter on an overseas trip. Whatever it is, bloggers have a vision, a plan, a sense of direction.

The scary truth? I can envision exactly what I want this blog to be, but I’m afraid to embrace it. I’m afraid of making mistakes. I’m afraid of being less than perfect.

Perfectionism has been my constant companion for the last 29 years. I was the kid that made it a life goal to never get my name on the chalkboard for detention and then cried like a baby—in front of all of my classmates—when it did happen. I also wanted to be the perfect student and if that meant spending my summer vacation curled up with a math textbook so I could answer every question correctly in the fall, then so be it. Later, I wanted the perfect body, which meant my frame needed to melt from 169 to 120 pounds. I am sure you can extrapolate what that particular quest for perfection looked like.

In those early days, I thought of perfectionism as a virtue, an attribute that would propel me closer and closer to my dreams. And, in some sense, it did. I never had detention again. My grades were, although less than ideal to me, very good. My goal weight was achieved and maintained for many years. But at what price? As I wrap up this decade of my life, I’ve begun to view perfectionism not as an admirable characteristic but as a hindrance, a roadblock.

Because I am a perfectionist, I’ve missed out on opportunities to learn new skills. Why? Simply put, I might fail. I might *gasp* be less than perfect.

I’ve missed out on some really delectable, once-in-a-lifetime meals because I was afraid of gaining an ounce or two.

I’ve missed out on making memories with incredible people because I was afraid that I wouldn’t fit in perfectly.

Perfectionism has cost me my peace of mind. It has cost me creativity and spontaneity. It has ultimately limited the breadth and depth of my experiences. It has made writing this first blog post a form of torture.

But, knowing any of this, does it make a difference? Can you change a mode of thinking, a way of life? Can “perfect” evolve into the more forgiving and freeing motto of, “I am going to do my best and that will be good enough”?

“Just,” one of my dearest friends instructed, “begin.”

It’s a simple thing to say—only two little words—but that’s what we do, isn’t it? We just begin our days. We just begin diets and books and classes. We begin projects and gardens and new jobs. Each moment, really, we’re beginning something. Even in finishing tasks, we’re on to the next one, starting something new in the subsequent second. Sometimes those beginnings are seamless like finishing the last refrain of “Happy Birthday” and cutting into the cake. Sometimes they’re a bit messier, like the first day of house-training a puppy. But they’re beginnings. They’re imperfect and perfect, important and insignificant, fleeting and yet ever-present.

So, today, I am going to take my friend’s advice. I am going to begin, knowing that this blog isn’t perfect, that I’m not perfect. And that’s okay. Because I am doing my best. And it’s a beginning.

I am beginning.

Now.

As soon as I hit the “update & publish” button.