I’ve moved!!

I know I’ve said a thousand times how I wanted to simplify everything, but I also want to plant as many seeds for my work as I can…
and so I bought a domain and moved the entire content of this blog here

at cat cottage

Update your readers and see you on the other side!!

This roller coaster called life.

Ever since I came to live here at the cottage I have rescued a great number of cats. I actually lost count of how many. While I found good families for most of them, a little number had to stay here at the cottage. Some became strictly indoor cats due to health reasons, others were fit for a life with a bit more freedom, and went to live in my garden, sleeping in their little cat houses under my patio or in the barn, at their own pleasure. Lately, I had six cats living under my patio, five girls and one big boy.

Last week I lost, in the space of 24 hours, two of the girls. Penelope, called Penny, and Pippi.

This just after losing my dog Pammy, last month.

I was particularly fond of Penny and Pippi, so this loss is hurting me deeply. They were abandoned here as kittens along with their six brothers and sisters, all severely ill. I lost two of them in the space of a month, no matter how many emergency vet visits I made, while the others slowly became stronger and stronger. To make the story short, they couldn’t be vaccinated due to their still low immune system and when they were eight months old they all got Parvo. All of them died, but Penny and Pippi, who fought the disease for a week before getting through it. Losing all those kitties, after all I had done to save them, was one of the hardest things I had to go through, in my entire life. And when the vet told me that Penny and Pippi had made it, I clung to them. And they clung to me.

They would follow me everywhere. They didn’t like living strictly indoor, and after all that they had gone through I thought they deserved to choose the life they wanted. So when they wanted to come inside I let them, and when they wanted to sleep on the grass, especially during summer, that’s where they slept.

All was great until last week when Penny seemed to have come down with a bad cold. It was the second time in a few months, and the temperature was still warm, so I thought her low immune system was making its tricks again. I kept her inside and gave her antibiotics. The vet told me to take her to the clinic if she didn’t improve in three days. By the third day, after she was stable but had not improved, I took her to the vet where we found out she had lung cancer. There was nothing else to do but to put her to sleep, as cancer had already spread widely.

I came home heartbroken. I took Pippi in my arms and kissed her. I thought she looked strange, but I decided I was being anxious because of what had just happened. I gave everyone dinner and saw Pippi eating with appetite.

But the next morning Pippi was dead. Naturally, in her sleep. I don’t know what happened to her. I just know that Pippi and Penny were inseparable. So inseparable that they died together.

When you decide to help animals you are perfectly aware of the fact that you are going to face so many heartbreaks. You do it because not helping them makes you suffer even more. Everyone’s life is a roller coaster, but the life of a rescuer is even more so. One minute you fly high because one pet fought successfully a disease or have found a wonderful adoption, the next you’re in hell because another one died suddenly.

This time hell burns big time for me.

I know they had a great life, I know they don’t care about how short it was: that’s my judgment, and it’s a very short-sighted one. Time doesn’t exist for pets. They measure time only in good or bad, not in length, and Penny and Pippi’s time was freakingly good.

And I know death doesn’t really exist. Nothing really dies, ever.

But I miss them.

A simple list of goals.

At the end of 2018, I wrote a list of goals for 2019. It’s something I always do, I’m a listaholic, I make lists for everything: movies I want to see, music I want to buy, places to go etc,. Everything that interests me ends up in a categorized list. It calms me, it makes me feel like everything is under control (even if I know NOTHING is under control), and it helps me to clear my mind. I also find it very funny to read lists after a few months and discover stuff I used to be obsessed with but that I have completely forgotten of in the meantime! I’m kind of mercurial.

Researches evidenced how writing down a list of goals and reading them every day is the secret of the highest achievers in the world. I can’t add anything to this researches with my experience, because I’m good at setting the goals and writing them down, but I have no consistency in reading them often, much less every day.

This year, or the past two…or also the past seven or eight, have been quite strange. Things have changed so much and I still have to adjust and digest a few issues. I have gone through many changes in my life but none of them have been so transformative as the one I’ve been going through lately. It’s very very hard, but I know I’m going in the right direction, so I keep going. This to say that the goals that I’ve set for in the last years have seen no materialization as everything kept changing and I had to adjust my goals to the situation too often. I’ve often lost focus and felt demotivated, but I’m happy to say that I found a way to manage and juggle all this madness. It’s material for some other post, though.

Sorry for the very blurred picture. I took this a few days ago, but the sky hasn’t improved mhttps://quotefancy.com/quote/1563030/Adi-Da-Relax-Nothing-is-under-controluch. Weather like this is made for meditation and goal setting, I think. I woke up this morning, looked out the window and felt like it was a good time to sit with my thoughts and think about how I want to end this year.

There are 74 days left. I want to use them well. I want to set the base for a great 2020. I’ve trashed the list I wrote at the beginning of this year, I want to start afresh. Self-care and my business are top of my list now, everything comes as a consequence. So my list is very easy.

I just want to draw every day and publish a new video on my YouTube Channel every week.

I want to carve out an hour every day and read, meditate, do yoga. My yoga practice has been lacking and so did my meditation routine. Self-care is so important. Balance is everything.

And yes, this list can look extremely simple, but drawing can take long hours, editing a video can be a long task too, so it’s easy to forget to have some time for yourself. I used to make such ambitious, complicated plans but I’m all about simplicity now, I’m all about flowing with life.

74 days left. Let’s go.

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Getting back into the swing of things.

O tendinitis, tendinitis, wherefore art thou tendinitis?

I’ve been in pain, not able to draw, for the past three weeks or so. Now, I’m better, and so I’m here at my desk. I really, really feel uninspired. I have to do something every day and keep swinging, keep a rhythm to keep my creative juices going. Which is not uncommon. Pablo Picasso once said

“Inspiration exists but it has to find you working”

and nothing is more true to me. Do something every day, no matter how horrible or wrong.

Today I am going to finish this one. It’s been sitting on my table for more than a month, collecting cat hair and stains. I’m going to finish it no matter how much I don’t like it.

Stillness kills me. My brain works extra hours if not engaged in anything else, and starts making up impossible plans, impossible dreams, impossible ideas, impossible – and deleterious – thoughts.

So let me get back to my watercolors.

I’m also filming the second YouTube video for my channel. Let’s see if the second will be less horrible than the first!! 🙂

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Birthdays are strange, plans don’t work, and making YouTube videos is fun.

the cat tree | cute cats playing on a tree

The day after my Pammy passed, I turned 48.

Birthdays are strange. Personally, they make me feel good and bad at the same time. I don’t have a family to celebrate them with, but I have friends from all over the world who make me feel loved and blessed. Especially my best-friend Sacha, who lives in London but seems to be able to read my mind and get me what I need – whether it’s a book, chocolates, or just a message – right when I need it. So I always have a feel-good moment during my birthdays. But then I’m alone and…I think.

Thinking is something you should really avoid doing, sometimes.

On my birthdays I always ponder about my life, my age, what I’ve accomplished and what I have not. This year was no exception. I should have just got drunk like normal people do instead no, I began writing down the pros and cons of my current situation and how I can improve it. Whoa, pro-active attitude, you could say, good for you. Actually, haha, no it’s not. The time I spend analyzing my life with the pros and cons turns out always to be a moment of self-beating and depression.

You have to know that in my family hitting a hundred years old and surpassing it is not uncommon. I come from a long line of centenaries and people who beaten all kinds of odds – for example, my great-grandmother had eight children, the last one at age 54! And we are talking about the beginning of ‘900, when in vitro fertilization and stuff like that wasn’t even in the dreams of scientists. Given my good genes, I could easily have another 50 years of life ahead of me. Which is a lot. But then I think that I have already left behind me almost another 50 years of life, and what did I make with it? I always feel like I did very little of all the things I wanted to do.

But this year I decided to cut the self-blaming part of this pros and cons routine and get down to write a plan.

Which I didn’t write.

The thing is this: plans are evil. You write them down in excitement, you visualize yourself finally having the life of your dreams and you really go for it in the first few days. But then life gets in the way and you fall behind your plan. And what it’s just a day of being behind, rapidly becomes a month, then a year. And that is when your plan, which in the meantime hid in a dark corner like the monster you had under the bed as a child, jumps out and bites you, making you feel like a miserable loser.

Repeat after me: plans don’t work, fuck plans.

Don’t get me wrong: you have to have a direction, a specific idea of what you want to do. But your plan should not see further than next week. A month at maximum. Life is now, the moment is now. Planning too far ahead makes you feel like you are far from getting what you want, therefore it’s easy to get demotivated. And there’s the other side of the coin which is that you feel like you have so much time to do all that you need to do because your plan stretches so much. And no, you don’t have all that time. The time is now, today.

So I decided to pick one thing in my super long list of things I didn’t do and do it.

I took up YouTube. I wanted to start my own channel for a long time but I was waiting to have a good camera, good lights, good this, good that…I completely forgot my favorite motto which is ‘start where you are, do what you can with what you have’.

What I have is a cheap LG Phone that I paid about 79.99 Euros, a computer which is not exactly suited to edit movies and a desk lamp that is about 35 years old. But the motto talks clear. Do the cheap phone film HD movies? yeah. Does the computer work, even if slowly? Yeah! Does the desk lamp make light? Yes. Kind of yellowish but it does.

And that was the day I finally decided to let my perfectionist side drawn in its own self-hatred and turn myself into a Spielberg wannabe putting together what it’s probably the ugliest video in YouTube history, shamelessly and with a grin on my face because I had SO. MUCH. FUN.

I filmed myself painting the illustration on top of this post – which is already available on Redbubble and soon on all the other shops too – and then edited it on Adobe Premiere Pro, which I don’t really know how to use… But I learned a little as I went and I was able to put together a video in one day.

On the other side of your comfort zone, there are a lot of curse words and a lot of fun did you know it? Go for it. How the video looks have very little importance since ‘done’ it’s better than ‘perfect’ .

Fuck it.

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Pammy.

This is how I want to remember her. Smiling and happy and with a scarf on her head.

Last Monday, September 9, Pammy has left me. It happened suddenly, with very little suffering which was a blessing, but I still have to recover from the shock. She was such a happy, lively funny dog. Noisy, chatty, demanding. It was like having five big dogs in one for how much she was a presence in this house. Wherever you turned, there she was. you couldn’t be alone for a moment with her around. Not a day – actually not even four of five hours – passed without having her doing something so fun that would get us cracking up laughing. She was a real blessing through this very hard past few years.

Last year she underwent mastectomy for a small tumor, and the recovery was incredibly fast, A few hours after surgery it was like nothing happened to her, she wanted to eat, she jumped on the stairs even if she had stitches running through her belly from top to end, and she even played. She was an elderly dog – we don’t know exactly how old she was, but 15 or 16 – who didn’t look one day older than three and still acted like a puppy. She was so strong and looked so good, we felt she was immortal.

But no one is. And an elderly dog, even with younger looks, is still an elderly dog. With elderly organs.

We noticed she had lost a bit of weight, but her energy was always the same, as was her appetite. We thought it was the first sign of her getting old combined with hot temperatures and the fact that she just never stood still.

Sunday evening she went out in the garden before bed, and as she came back in she asked for cookies, as always. She ate two big cookies and then we headed upstairs, to go to bed. Immediately she began to be restless. She wouldn’t sit down, going back and forth in the room. Then she began vomiting and we thought that what it was, she needed to empty her stomach. Maybe she ate something bad in the garden. But the vomit didn’t stop and she started to have a fever.

In the morning I rushed her to the vets where she was put under fluids and antibiotics. And then she had a seizure. The vet gave her something to sleep, to stop the seizures, then she ran a blood test and gave her an ultrasound. Her kidneys were shutting down, her liver was enlarged. There was nothing we could do. Nothing.

So, while she was still asleep, I held her and I did the only possible thing: I accompanied her on the other side. kissing her, telling her how much I loved her, asking her to come back if she wants because I’ll be here waiting for her.

And she went. Painlessly, surrounded by love.

My Pammy.

A little video preview…and why Instagram sucks.

My love-hate relationship with social media goes on.

I am setting up stores on different print on demand sites, but naturally, they all need to be promoted. The web is saturated and you have very little chances to be seen if you don’t get into action. So, I gave a second try to Instagram…even if I find it utterly boring and totally unstable. Is it me, my phone, or does it really crash continuously?

I am preparing a video to add on my brand new Youtube channel, and I made a little preview of it to share on social media for promotion. I’m still learning Adobe Premiere as I never used it before but I could get together a short clip, with background music that was said to be copyright free and free to use that I downloaded from Soundcloud. I uploaded the whole thing to Instagram and…

The video was blocked.

Apparently, some brand requested to have every video uploaded with that specific piece of music to be blocked, as they want to have the exclusivity. Which would be totally fine with me if it wasn’t that the music is still free from copyright and therefore free to use. For everyone. Only it’s not. And Instagram allows brands to make these kinds of requests. Social media would be great if they were really democratic, with the same kind of opportunity for everyone, but it’s not. The power is in the hands of who has more money, once again.

That is why I’ll keep on blogging like it’s 2002. This is my space…if something happens to WordPress, my entire content is saved on a hard disk and I can republish it somewhere else. Facebook has degenerated, and so has Instagram, in my opinion. The quality is getting lower and lower. Pinterest, since it has allowed ads, has totally lost meaning. Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe they are pointing a gun at their temples.

Anyway, enjoy the small video!! Hopefully the final version will be ready soon.

Have a great week end!!

Goals for this week.

Hello and welcome to another week at Cat Cottage. The mess is everywhere as are cats and dogs. The stuff to do is piling up and it looks as ominous as an avalanche and feels like a tsunami. To say that I feel overwhelmed, hahaha! It’s a lot worse than that. I feel like there is no way out, as the mess and the pile of things to do are swallowing me up and I am drowning in my own s**t.

Do you ever feel like this?

Now, I hate the concept of being productive, but it seems like I am struggling to find a balance here. I would like to flow effortlessly with life, being on top of things at least most of the time, having a relaxed approach to everything. Instead, I’m struggling. The thing is, when you share your life – or mostly, your house – with someone who doesn’t take life the way you do, who doesn’t share the same points of view, goals, and lifestyle, finding a balance is hard. Being the person in question my mother – she came to live here with me five years ago – it’s even harder.

Instead of beating myself up as always though, I’ll try to do something different.

Usually, when I have a lot of things to do and to figure out, I always write down a to-do list in order of priorities. It works until a certain point, then I get lost. I have never got through an entire list, and not only because there is always so much to do around here, but because I end up being exhausted and overwhelmed way, in complete burn out. It takes me a few days to regain strength and focus and usually the mess has piled up again in the meantime. It’s like a dog chasing its tail to no end.

So, this is the different, rebellious thing I will do to cope with my infinite to-do list this time:

I’LL IGNORE IT.

The most important thing, the only way to go through things – whatever that is – is self-care. As I said a million times before, I was brought up in a family where I was taught a lot of things but not exactly how to love myself – I was actually taught the opposite – and it’s hard for me to let go of this habit of thinking that I count zero. That I come after everyone and everything else. I’m learning how to be selfish in a healthy way and it’s a lot of fun. I’m getting there.

Me, first.

So, whenever there is a lot to do, the first thing I do is asking myself: what do I need? What do I want? I discovered that if I start form myself all comes quite naturally and even the most boring tasks don’t feel as horrible anymore. Yeah, I know. I just invented the wheel.

This is what I need.

Swimming in the open air.

Reading in the garden.

Gardening (it’s my therapy, folks!)

Yoga. Slow, long and relaxed sessions.

Some decluttering.

And this is what I want to accomplish this week. ( what I want, not what I have to )

Finish the book I’m reading.

Film and upload my first real painting video on Youtube.

Paint at least two new drawings.

Me first. Me. Nothing gets done if I don’t feel well. Ahhh, breathe.

Monday motivation.

This is the worst summer of my life. Nice way to start a post, huh? Read on, is not as sad as it seems.

This is the worst summer of my life because I live for summer, I wait for summer all year round, and I usually set such high expectations for it that I am aware it becomes impossible to be satisfied. Every summer of my life I’ve had something to complain about. It’s too short, it goes too fast, the weather is bad, not enough beach time, and so on.

But this year it’s a totally different story and I think I have all the rights to whine like a baby.

It’s August 5, and I still haven’t gone to the beach once. NOT ONCE!! In my brain, this is totally unacceptable. Also because I live 30 minutes away from the lake, it’s not like I have to travel far and take a few days off to reach a beach. A few hours in the afternoon it’s all iI need.

The thing is this. I have gone through a rough time. A very rough time. As I think I’ve mentioned many times before, I suffer from depression and anxiety, and I have been sharing my life with them for as long as I can remember. I have never taken medication for it, I have never gone into therapy and I’ve never searched for help that it wasn’t coming from the book store.

The reasons why I never searched for professional help are many. For instance, I really didn’t know I was depressed and anxious. I just thought I was stupid, slow, unmotivated. That’s what my parents told me I was. I realized late, probably around my twenties, that the fog I felt I had in my brain was called depression. And that the fear I had of pretty much everything was called anxiety. Also because I had to be what is called a ‘high functioning depressed’. No matter how bad I felt, I had to get up in the morning, feed the cat, shower and go to work. And somehow this made the brain fog and the fear to come and go several times during the day. I thought it was just part of my personality, the way that I was made.

I dragged these symptoms for years until I realized – I don’t remember how – that I had a problem and that I had to do something about it. That I could have felt better, that I could have had a better life. My mom suffered from depression too as also did a few of my friends’ moms or family members. They all took medications prescripted by psychologists but to say that I saw an improvement in their mental state would be a lie. I had the feeling like they weren’t facing and solving the problem, just covering it up and suffocating the symptoms with the pills.

I knew exactly where my pain was coming from. My pain had a name, a face, a date, everything. There was nothing to understand or untangled, there were only things to accept as facts and move on. I didn’t believe that the way or the strength to accept what happened to me could have come from a pill. Not even a dozen. I was aware that the way to accept all the mess that my life had been was inside of me. And I was the person who knew me better. I knew exactly what happened and I didn’t know many other people who went through what I went through, so I couldnì’t see how a therapist could have helped me.

Maybe I was wrong, but I am here to tell the story 25 years later, so it worked.

  • But please, if you suffer from depression or any other mental disorder and don’t feel as strong as I felt, please DO seek for professional help.

Long story short, I found a way to cross the road and start walking on the sunny side of the street. But I can’t erase my past, and I can’t take my guard off. When I do, the monsters from the past come back to bite me hard. It happens every now and then, and lately, with a general worsening of my living conditions, the monsters threw a party in my brain.

This is why I still haven’t gone to the beach and didn’t enjoy my summer.

But it’s not already August 5.

It’s only August 5.

Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.

I’m lucky to live in Italy, where summers are long no matter how I perceive them, and I live 30 minutes away from the lake.

There are still almost 2 entire months of good weather, and I declare that this is going to be a great summer.

Remembering the time THIS duckie ate an entire pack of vegan cookies.