A few years ago I was walking downtown Bucharest with a colleague from the private school where we were both teaching English as a Second Language.
We were taking in the sites and, because it was a very hot summer afternoon, we chose the terrace of a small bistro to sit and have a cool drink.
The conversation was lively, the people interesting and the atmosphere quite lovely.
“Oh, hello, you!” I heard my colleague say all of a sudden, with a cheeky smile.
Her hand reached down under her chair and came back up with… a tail.
A small face, whiskers and two very widely-opened eyes followed.
The poor thing was scared, that much was clear. But she liked my friend, who kept on petting her and caressing her back.
“Oh, you are so cute…” she purred. “What are you doing roaming around by yourself? Your fur is so soft… do you want me to rub your belly?”
I smiled at the scene. I love animals, but I had no idea that my colleague was so good with them.
“I wanted to be a vet when I was in highschool,” she said, as if she could read my thoughts.
“You seem really, really into it! How come you gave it up?” I asked.
“I don’t know… but I still like to look into it once in a while. I can tell you, for example, that this one is a stray – and that she’s not doing very well. Her fur is not very glossy at all.”
“Glossy?” I chuckled. I don’t know why but the word made me laugh, when speaking about the fur of a cat. “Perhaps she is just dirty…”
“No, no,” my friend insisted, “you can see that the bristles are lifeless and dull. Vets call healthy fur glossy. It’s shiny and full of life.”
The really funny thing is, I had thought that about myself on more than one occasion.
I recalled one particular low point in my life, when I was roaming around the world aimless and groundless, at a loss for love, money or safety. I had a moment in the mirror during those times – I remember it exactly: I was in San Francisco, I had just finished getting dressed and I happened to glance at myself. In a fraction of a second, this is how I felt: dusty and tern. My hair and skin seemed lifeless and brittle. On the inside I felt like that too: burnt, low, depressed and hopeless.
Over the years I have learned how important it is to take care of myself and keep my own fur glossy and healthy, so to speak, my hair and skin and emotions radiating.
I do that by paying attention to my needs, resting when I am tired, eating when I am hungry (and eating well – as in healthy food) and nurturing my relationships.
I do that by prioritizing and making sure I don’t bite too much.
I do that by keeping fear in check, because there is nothing that feeds more on your life energy than that.
So tonight, even though I had planned on writing a couple of articles and making a few updates on the website, I choose to take a break and watch a movie.
I have had a long day, taking care of my son. A day well spent. My energy well spent. But now it is time to replenish.
Tomorrow is another day, there are no emergencies and I am well on top of my work.
Pushing myself over the limits would come from fear in this case, a sort of desperation to not fall behind.
But I won’t.
All is well.
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