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Ah, the cat days of summer ...

Lazy, sun-filled days on the beach. Long, warm evenings in the garden, your faithful flea-treated dog lying by your side. Blue jays disrupting your peaceful mornings. You eat breakfast near the open window, savoring the smell of new-mown grass. You can go anywhere in shorts and a tee and feel dressed up.

Well, that was February in South Florida, Arizona and similar places. For everyone else, welcome to summer.

Summer should bring dog days, but I think they're more feline than canine. Cats are warm and fuzzy and, after a nap, even a little moist. A peaceful cat, purring sunnily on the edge of the sofa, can be deceptive, like the summer sky before a storm.

With no warning, you'll hear menacing growls and electric hisses. Minutes later, she's offering her tummy to be rubbed and you'll wonder if you imagined the whole thing.

Summer is about sleeping and cats are the experts. I spend an hour walking Keesha, my forty-pound chow mix We walk downtown and we run part of the way. A tired dog, everyone says, is a well-behaved dog. It's probably true.

By the end of our walk, I'm the one who's too tired to think of causing trouble. Keesha slows down too -- until we see a squirrel. Now she's ready to start over.

We can compare her to Loretta, a skinny calico cat who was named after the Coal Miner's Daughter because of her perseverance, inner strength and voice for whiny "done me wrong" songs.

Loretta spends a tough day moving from sofa to windowsill to chair. Twice a day she leaps to the top of the refrigerator for her dinner.

Loretta sleeps seriously and long, crooking a paw over one eye to shut out the world. She's exhausted.

You can observe more serious feline sleeping action on nearby roads and windowsills.

In my old neighborhood, five or six cats would be stretched full-length on the hot pavement. They couldn't be bothered to wake up when a dog walks by. We could conquer the world, they say. But why bother when life is so good?

Dogs demand action. A walk to the river. A game of chase-the-tail with a doggy friend from the park. A chance to lick the face of a human friend who pulls his car over to say hello. A session of humoring the owner's cries: "Sit! Down! Stay! No! NO!"

Cats experience life as a series of non-events: a nap, a meal, a trek to the closet shelf that fails to uncover hidden treasure. People experience summer the same way.

Somehow you feel like you've wandered by on a whim, no matter how much you paid for your tickets or how far ahead you had to reserve. The dress code is anti-success and you're closer to nature than you'd really like to be.

I suspect we can't teach people to think of cat days instead of dog days, any more than we can get dog people to become cat people or vice versa. But you can spend many hours pondering this topic, alone or with friends. And then you'll have created a new non-event all your very own, your own personal contribution to a long hot summer.

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D. is an author, career coach, and speaker. She works with mid-career professionals who want to make a fast move to career freedom. Visit her site http://www.movinglady.com or call 505-534-4294.


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