7 Life Lessons I learned from Halvan the Cat
It is Christmas Eve at the Holm household in Skateholm. Although it is not a white Christmas at 8 degrees, it certainly is a cozy one. Everything is in place as I am sipping on Glogg and writing with Halvan sitting by my side. Across the house, the rest of the family is cuddling on the sofa in front of a fire, enjoying Christmas specials; resting after round one of food from the morning in preparation for dinner this evening and of course – Santa’s visit!
With the mild weather and being just meters from the ocean, I ceased the opportunity to practice bare foot running. Equipped with my flipper swimming shoes and a snazzy 80’s blue vest compliments of Kristians father – I squeezed in 30 min of running focusing on proper form and fresh air – I needed to build up an appetite before the feast this evening!
It is Tues now, last Friday – four days ago, my boyfriend & I had the pleasure of babysitting Halvan, the cat. Who then joined us for Christmas on the Swedish countryside. Growing up I always had dogs around providing me with so much joy. Since living on my own I’ve been pet free and seemed to let the life lessons I had learned from my furry friends slip my mind! My Chrsitmas gift to you is sharing the reminder I received from Halvan!
1. Change environment once in a while! It’s fun & makes you appreciate home!
- About this time last year, Halvan also stayed with us – for a few months. It took a while to adjust to, but in no time she felt at home! Upon her visit this time, once she got to know the environment; checking that her food/water, toilet, chilling spots was in place then she calmed down pretty quickly.
- This is a useful reminder to us all! It’s good to take small breaks once in a while from your comfort zone. Whether it’s checking out a new café or going on a vacation to that distant land you’ve always dreamed of. Chances are, you’ll have everything you need. Things will be just fine – you may even make new friends! Plus, nothing is better than sleeping in your own bed after being away for a while!
2. Live everyday as if it is new! Be curious. – Turn off your GPS
- Although Halvan had been here before. I couldn’t help but notice how fascinated she seemed by everything. To me, it was the same old apartment that I’ve selfishly grown bored of over the years. Meanwhile, she’d embraced it with new eyes and was curious to check out every nook & cranny. It is easy to get used to our homes, jobs, friends, family, cities, etc. but try switching up the perspective sometimes to stay grateful!
- This reminds me of the other week when I needed to pick up something from Träningsvärket (where I studied my personal trainer course). Normally I would have taken the bus, which takes 35 min including going back & fourth to the bus stop & waiting. Considering it was a nice day and I was in no rush I figured I would bike instead. I quickly took a peek on google and “sort of” knew how to get to Limhamn, without writing down the directions and being assured from my boyfriend I would get lost – I headed on my way (I am still living in the historic age of owning a cell phone with the sole purpose of calling & sms). Although I got lost, when I stopped and looked at a map on a bus stop, a sweet old lady pointed me in the right direction. I made it to the gym in 25 min, got to see a charming piece of town, plus on the way home instead of circling the city, I biked past the fresh market to pick up some fruits & veggies! Not to mention got some fresh air & exercise! All of which I missed previously by sitting on bus.
3. Have a routine! – Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!
- In the fast times we are living in during this technology age. It is often hard to fit in eight glasses of water a day, exercise regularly, keep in touch with friends & family, cook, work & maintain composure while juggling all of the above. Although Halvan’s ’to do’ list may not be as detailed as the average Joe (or Sue) – she rises with the sun, starts the day off with hearty breakfast and goes about her cat business for the day.
- We’ve all heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day – but a reminder never hurt! By packing up with energy first thing we avoid mid afternoon crashes and reaching for a high sugar fix & over eating later in the day. Keep in mind, we should have about 60% of our daily calorie intake before the evening dinner.
- Having a routine makes what seems to be the never ending list of responsibilities less overwhelming. If you make things like home cooking, training, coffee dates with friends a regular part of your schedule after a while fitting everything in will feel like a natural habit instead of a chore!
4. It is ok to ask for snuggles – affection.
- I read recently that 3 of the hardest things for people to say is ”I love you”, ”I am sorry” and ”I need help”. I am certainly guilty of having difficulty expressing all of the above. Halvan had been with us for a few hours and just got used to the place. Then she hopped up on the sofa with her back turned to us and meowed a pathetic meow. She was just asking for affection, and upon reaching out my hand, within seconds she was snuggled contently on my lap. It is not always easy, but we need to reach out to our loved ones and let them know we are there. Despite our solid brick walls. I know I can be sour & the best cure is a hug! Whether it is keeping in touch with friends or devoting time to that special someone
5. Be angry! Yet, forgive & forget!
- Like the old saying goes ”Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”. It just so happens being human and all, we get angry from time to time. What Halvan has taught me, is to allow myself to be angry, have a fit & then get over it. I remember during her last visit, not sure why, but Halvan had a grumpy spell and ’attacked’ me. I had no idea where it was coming from, I went around a little paranoid for a while, but after fifteen minutes she had completely forgotten it and was again looking for snuggles. It takes work, but learning to forgive & forget quickly will save you energy & your sanity in the long run.
6. Appreciate the finer things – find joy in the mundane.
- On Christmas Halvan won’t turn down a piece of salmon that I ’might’ have slipped under the table – or delight in a dark ale in moderation. But when push comes to shove it is the same boring food day in and day out. A little reminder to us to appreciate the finer things when we have a chance and accept the not so glamours parts of life. We can’t always have what we want, so when a snooze morning, bonus on the pay check or surprise dinner from your loved one comes out of the blue, it makes it all the more special!
- Another point relating to technology & curiosity. Turn off the phone, facebook, the television. Halvan can sit on the window ledge for hours on end and be completely submersed in the people passing, birds chirping and quite frankly just living in the moment. He’ll take a peak at Family Guy for a second, realize it is ridiculous and move on to better things! Read or take a cat nap instead, sleeping is a fantastic way to restore the system and keep the mind & body fresh!
7. Take risks – Play!
- ”Sometimes your only transportation is a leap of faith – Margaret Shepard
- Even though Halvan could be sitting two meters high on the top of my book shelf and there is plenty of obstacles in the way – that doesn’t bother her one bit! She cares not about how absurd she looks sometimes & knows she’ll always land on her feet. Another weakness of being human is that our rational thoughts often get in the way of taking leaps to unknown territory in life. Maybe you’re afraid to change job, relationship, move, cut your hair! Whatever it is, don’t be a scaredy-cat, you’ll land on your feet!
- Why so serious? Another reason which may have contributed to her grumpy mood, was lack of play! We need to put our guards down. unwind & just enjoy life! Her favorite game, like most cats, is chasing an invisible light. She doesn’t mind at all that she looks silly while climbing the wall in attempt to get that bloody light! But even though she doesn’t ever catch that silly light, she keeps trying and has fun while doing it! So chase your dreams, if you catch that light or not, just make sure as hell to have fun while doing it!