The redwood out in front has produced a soft carpet of gorgeously brilliant, golden needles –and the rains have finally come. Everything in CiCi’s Garden looks invitingly fresh with rain-polished leaves glossy after a downpour.
Rain-polished leaves in CiCi's Garden
The past few weeks a squirrel has been conscientiously burying treasures all over CiCi’s Garden, even in the flowerpots lining the window. Outside, CiCi sits nervously on the steps, ready to run tail-half-mast back into the house. Unafraid of a cat, the squirrel flicks her tail and scolds our dear little kitty every time she sees her. It has left CiCi unsettled and compelled to vigilantly watch for this intruder in her peaceful, safe place. I imagine her thinking, Why don’t you stay up in the trees where you belong?
Squirrel in CiCi's Garden
Commonplace events can have a way of disturbing our peace and making us anxious, especially when customary patterns are interrupted. Home (or in CiCi’s case, her Garden) should be the one place where we can go to get away from it all, to settle in and not have to watch our back.
The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. ~ Maya Angelou
Dear Reader, do you have a “squirrel” in your safe place? Someone who is busy doing what comes natural but is making you feel insecure and unsettled? Worse still, in the process are they scolding you?
I am not talking about scolding that often attends situations that are irretrievably damaging or dangerous. Those circumstances must be decisively ended or abandoned without delay. It is appalling how many women are finally killed by a man they refused to leave because they think things are going to get better –that the scolding will end if they can only learn to do things right (meaning his way). According to FBI statistics, 30% of female murder victims in 1990, the last year for which statistics are available, were killed by their husbands or boyfriends. And that was before all the stressors of the housing crisis, rising unemployment, dreadfully negative election ads, and a 10-year war against terrorism dominated our lives.
CiCi’s squirrel is not acting out of character though it is disquieting for CiCi. The scolding comes with the territory, as it were, of stockpiling against bad times (winter). I imagine the squirrel admonishing, Don’t watch where I’m burying my stashes!
Nonetheless, scolding causes us to feel stressed –anxious, frazzled, drained. Cumulative stress makes us operate below par and prone to making mistakes, often triggering self-doubt as a result. And it can age a woman –believe me I know! There have been times I haven’t even recognized the face staring back at me in the mirror. Who is that haggard-looking person, anyway?!
The good news is that we have more emotional capital than we think! When I take a step back, when I observe what is happening rather than jumping right in, I have noticed something: I am still in charge of my life. I can respond rather than react. If need be I can simply walk away knowing this, too, shall pass.
Sweet CiCi, your Garden is still your safe place! You share your special world with many little creatures who, for the most part, add more interest than disturbance. With the rain comes winter, then spring. The cycles and seasons of life will continue to bring you abundant pleasures and opportunities to explore.
Purr, Baby, purr!