Unconditional Love is a love that’s not limited by any conditions or in any way at all.  It is Absolute.  It is True.  And… it sure makes you happy when you give or receive it, doesn’t it?

For 13 years, I received the Unconditional Love of two very sweet animals — Shakespeare & Spencer — my precious persian cats.  Because I lost both of them this year, I am writing this article about them.  They truly did give me their Unconditional Love every day.

I grew up with dogs as family pets.  We never had a cat.  And, until the age of 36, I never had a pet in my adult life (except for fish in an aquarium).  I told myself I was not going to have any pets.  And, I certainly did not see myself with a cat.

One day, I was on an appointment to place a house on the market for sale.  As we were sitting at the kitchen table going over the required paperwork, a Mother Cat came walking out of the laundry room with two, tiny kittens trailing behind.  One of the kittens walked right up to me so I had to pick him up to pet him!  He was the cutest thing I had ever seen, especially when he snuggled up tightly on my chest.  The owner of the home told me she was selling the kittens and that they were peke-faced Persians.  The one I was holding onto had a crooked tail, so he would never be able to be a “show cat”, I was told.

I said good-bye and left there with no intention other than selling the home as quickly as possible.  But, for the next few days, I could not get that kitty-with-the-crooked-tail out of my head.  He was the first thing I thought of when I woke up each morning.

So, I found myself driving back to my listing with a check in hand… to buy the kitty with the crooked tail.  I named him Shakespeare.  He was 3 months old.  He followed me every where I went and slept at the foot of the bed, touching my feet. I was smitten.

Because I had never had a cat before, I bought a book that would tell me everything I ever wanted or needed to know about having a feline as a pet.  It informed me that indoor cats need the companionship of other cats, especially if you’re not often home.

When I had called the owner just to inquire whether or not she still had the other kitty (because I wasn’t sure I wanted two), she said “I can’t believe you called me today!  We just found out that the people who had taken that kitty are abusing him.  So, we rescued him but now we are leaving for vacation and weren’t sure what to do with him.”

So, I found myself driving back to my listing with a check in hand… to buy Shakespeare’s brother.  I named him Spencer.  He was all matted, dirty, and very clingy.  I just knew that seeing his brother again would cheer him right up.  Boy, was I wrong!!!

For three weeks, the two hissed at each other and steered clear of the other’s path.  I would cry “But, you’re brothers!  You’re supposed to love each other!”  I would call my girlfriends saying “What have I done?  They hate each other!”  One day, I came home and found the two of them licking each other!  From that day on, they were best buddies.  We were now a happy, little family.

Over the next 13 years, they were with me through three moves, four company changes, three relationship break-ups, and the birth of a baby.  And, they always loved me Unconditionally.  Shakespeare always slept at the foot of my bed, touching my feet.  Spencer and I cuddled on the couch for the last hour of every night, before I’d go to bed.  They were not your typical cats — they were very friendly.  If there were people around, they were right there!  Spencer would even play catch with a toy mouse!!

They both died from a fast growing tumor in their mouth.  Thankfully, they didn’t suffer for long.  It broke my heart to say good-bye to them on their final day.  And, it is very strange to not have them here.  I still find myself looking around for them sometimes and making sure I close the door so they don’t get out!

I’m so grateful to have experienced their Unconditional Love.  I’ll carry that lesson with me the next time I’m in a relationship.

Who knows?  Maybe there is another furry baby in my future.  For right now, though, I am content to remember the purrs and meows of my precious Persians — Shakespeare & Spencer.

In Memory Of…

Shakespeare – 8/9/96 ~ 5/21/09 and Spencer – 8/9/96 ~ 10/29/09

Lately, I have really been working on my own personal self-development.  I’ve been blessed with the responsibility of raising a child and I am on a new journey of coaching others, so I have to hold myself to a higher standard.

One very important attribute I’ve been concentrating on is the act of forgiveness.  One of the hardest things to do is to forgive someone who has caused you pain.  However, as I’ve recently discovered, it is extremely liberating to “get over it.” When you do, the hurt no longer dominates your mind.  When someone hurts me, I generally become consumed with thinking about it over and over and over.  Therefore, I would never forget the incident! How exhausting!

Recently, I was feeling very hurt by someone who I am close to.  As the incident started playing over and over again in my head, I realized I had to stop and forgive … truly forgive.  That decision allowed me to stop and look at things from their perspective.  It was amazing how I could physically feel the hurt going out of me and how I was crystal clear on the fact that I did not want to lose or mess up this valuable friendship.  I shudder to think of what might have happened if I were not in this period of working on myself!  Things are back to normal and, when we discussed the topic again, it was in a really casual & relaxing way. And, I’ve not thought of it since. This forgiveness stuff really works!

Sadly, there are sometimes instances where someone hurts you to the point where you know the relationship has to be over.  But, you still must practice forgiveness of that person. Otherwise, the incident/action continues to cause you pain and discomfort — even after the person is out of your life.

Even if you do not contact that person, because you simply cannot invite them back into your life, it is still crucial that you forgive them. That’s the only way you’ll be able to move on from the negative thoughts.  And, it actually makes you feel at peace whenever you ask God to bless the person who was hurtful.  It also helps to realize that some people are put into your life for a reason, but were not meant to stay in it forever.  As you reflect back on your relationship with that person, in a relaxed state, you will find there were lessons to be learned. You may even find yourself feeling gratitude towards that person for giving you those lessons.

It’s also important to forgive yourself.  That has been a bit of a struggle for me lately.  My whole life I have lived with the motto that “regret is a wasted emotion.” But, this year, I have been kicking myself for some of the mistakes I have made.  I finally realized that the time & energy I’m spending on beating myself up could be spent on taking positive steps toward a bright, new future.

Now, if something hurtful happens or I make a mistake, I strive to work on the forgiveness aspect of it as quickly as possible.  That way, I can move on toward my bright future.  And, I always stop to count my blessings, which helps me truly forgive so I can finally forget!

This blog is a part of my new beginning.  I have reached the point in my life where I am ready to make a change — not only in my life, but in the life of everyone I meet, know, and love.

I’ve always felt (and have been told by others) that I was supposed to take a leadership role and help others to overcome obstacles and hardships & to guide them to live a life filled with happiness, peace, and success … no matter what circumstances come along.  I learned first-hand, at a very young age, about staying positive in the midst of crisis.  Yet — somehow — a half-century has gone by (almost) and I have not stepped up to the plate.

Well, I am now being driven by a powerful force to finally become what I am destined to be and to live a life of purpose … something I know we can all achieve.  I have a responsibility to my precious child, and to everyone around me, to finally reach for the stars and leave a lasting legacy.

Life is too short to hold back, to struggle, and to feel guilty about the mistakes we inevitably make during our lifetime.  So, I am committed to going forth with faith, confidence, and courage to fulfill my life-long dreams (of writing and coaching) & to guide others to a life of purpose, growth, and prosperity.

I am exceedingly grateful for those who have been by my side through some very challenging times; for those who have encouraged me to “go for it;”  for those who will love me and support me as I take this leap of faith on my new journey; and for those who will not laugh at my dreams but will applaud my successes.  May God shine on you and bring you peace, joy, and abundance.

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