A cat, a cage and a feeding bowl have inspired this post, and my cat in particular.
Our cat, Bailey is 19 years old. For 4 years, due to our greedy cocker spaniel, we had to put her food in a large cage on the floor. At the end of the cage was a small feline sized gap so that she could access her food without canine interruption!
Unfortunately, a week before Christmas last year, our young dog had to be unexpectedly put to sleep after a sudden and shock diagnosis of widespread cancer. It was a very difficult time as you can imagine and continues to be so as we adapt to life without her.
Shortly after her passing, recognising that we no longer needed the cage surrounding the cat food we took it away. The cat feeding bowl sat in the same place as usual, but more easily accessible.
A couple of days later, I heard hoots of laughter coming from the porch in which her food sat. A family member was obviously particularly amused by our cat’s behaviour. And so were we.
What became apparent was, that although the cage was no longer present, the cat still walked a metre out of her way, alongside an imaginary cage before turning back on herself to find her food. Five weeks later, she continues to do the same.
Our feline’s external surroundings had changed, yet she continued with previous behaviours. As human beings, we often make the same mistake.
Life changes. External circumstances change. But what happens if we don’t change?
Having pondered this and reflected on my own life experiences, I do believe that without changing ourselves, we may be missing out.
An example many of you many resonate with, is that of being a parent. For years, as parents of young children we spent Sunday nights ensuring school uniforms were ready for Monday mornings. Week nights were spent helping our children with reading and spelling and preparing P.E kits and packed lunches for the next day.
Our children grew and eventually became very independent young adults, no longer needing these things. They soon began to spend more time out than in, as young people do. One evening, feeling bored whilst sat in front of the television I experienced a huge epiphany. Our life had changed. But we hadn’t! In that moment, it suddenly dawned on me that we no longer had to be at home on a ‘school night’.
As a result, we began changing. Our first mid-week night out was at the local cinema. Initially going out on a ‘school night’ felt strange and slightly rebellious. Strange turned to enjoyable and enjoyable turned to exciting! We started going out for mid-week meals and invited friends to join us too. As a result of ‘breaking free from imaginary boundaries’, our social life, fun, and joy is no longer dictated by days of the week. (And we have a lot more fun and joy).
I’m hoping that my words may encourage you to reflect on your own life.
It may be that you find yourself in a similar situation with children that spend more time out with friends than they do with you.
You could have paid off your mortgage so have less outgoings. You may have your own ‘imaginary cage’ and still be working 5 or 6 days a week, without realising that you could cut your working hours and experience more time with those that you love, or prioritise more fun and adventure. Or, as my husband said, “It may simply be that people are failing to change with the seasons”. You may drive to work on wet and windy winter mornings, yet as the seasons change you may fail to change your behaviours. Cycling to work in the morning sun can bring much joy. Choosing to sit away from a computer and out in the fresh air during a lunch break can both relieve stress and relax the mind.
My question to you is “What is your imaginary cage?” What is no longer necessary, that you continue to do, oblivious to what you may be missing out on?
Here is a simple process to help you identify your self-imposed boundaries, so that you can break free and live a more fulfilling life!
What external significant changes have you experienced over the last 5 years? What has changed in your life?
Ask yourself, “Am I making the most of my life as a result of these changes?”
If the answer to step 2 is “NO”, then ask yourself, “What changes can I now personally make to ‘catch up’ with the external changes to ensure that I do make the most of my life?” Write down a list of all possible changes.
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