Branching Out – 5 Acts of Kindness in 5 WeeksPosted: January 15, 2011
As part of my goal of practicing yoga every single day for a year, I’ve decided to attempt 5 acts of charity or kindness in 5 weeks. My job at a nonprofit organization (and my vegetarianism) keep me in pretty good karma, but I want to do more. I’m challenging myself to be kinder and gentler – with intention toward 5 specific acts over 5 weeks.
I’ve already completed Act One. A nice and easy start, I made a donation to my favorite cause – Tabby’s Place. Tabby’s Place is a cage-free sanctuary for cats rescued from hopeless situations. Ornery cats who are continually overlooked for adoption. Older cats when families just want kittens. Chronically diseased cats when their owners can’t pay for their upkeep. Abused cats rescued from their tormentors. Tabby’s Place takes them in and gives them what they need – medical attention, hospice/palliative care, and love until they are either adopted or pass away.
I have two cats, one of whom is a “special needs” cat. With his chronic asthma, Maori is on daily steroids and we never know when we’ll have to rush him to the hospital to receive oxygen. It blows my mind to think of the thousands of dollars we’ve poured into this incredibly loving, loyal little animal, while others take their pets for granted – or even abuse them. When I first learned about Tabby’s Place, I knew I had to visit and meet all their “resident patients”. I made a new friend right away in Hillary. She was a gray and white tabby, a big friendly girl, sitting next to a gigantic picture window and thoughtfully monitoring the parking lot.
Hillary was missing her ears. Just a furry square head without the pointy triangles which identify all cat silhouettes. When I inquired, I found out that she developed skin cancer from exposure to the sun. Because the skin and tissue in cats’ ears is so thin and delicate, they are especially susceptible to skin cancer. Window-sitting and parking lot monitoring caught up to Hillary. A regular shelter would have put her down, but because Tabby’s Place is dedicated to preserving the quality of life of all cats, their vets knew that a simple operation would rid Hillary of the cancer. After the surgery, Hillary had to get used to losing one of the most precious gifts a cat has – super sensitive hearing. You might think that would make her less likely to, say, walk up to a stranger and beg for head pets. Not so. Hillary still sought love wherever she could find it, but she still wanted to look out the window.
The next time I went to visit Tabby’s Place, of course, I sought out Hillary. To my astonishment, I found her sitting in front of her favorite picture window, basking in the sunlight that almost killed her. To combat the effects of the harmful sunlight, Tabby’s Place staff put a reflective coating on the window Hillary most often sat by. I couldn’t believe it. I was humbled by the kindness shown to one small animal, an animal no one wanted because she had skin cancer. And humbled further by Hillary’s courage, and big open heart. Maybe it was her way of giving thanks.
Anyone who has ever loved a cat knows their mystery, their loyalty, their desire to be independent while also receiving love. They walk the line perfectly. They’re attached to nothing, and they make the best of everything. Cats are actually pretty yogic creatures. So, I made a contribution towards the efforts to protect and nurture them.
Here’s a photo of my “special needs” yogic master, playing in a paper bag.
Stay tuned for more on my second act of kindness: after being estranged from her for 8 years, I called my grandmother and told her I loved her.