Tag: loss

Shaking it off like a stunned squirrel.

Whimsical Squirrel wildlife contemporary painting by BZTAT
“Squirrel” Painting by BZTAT

Around my home, there are a number of trees that are a playground for a family of squirrels. These squirrels are amazingly busy little acrobats, scampering up and down the trees and jumping from limb to limb all day long. 

One day, as I was coming out my back door, one of the smaller squirrels fell from a high branch right in front of me. The poor thing lay motionless in the dirt, blinking but not moving. I gasped, frightened that it would not get back up. Selfishly, I thought, “I don’t want to watch it die.” It felt wrong to leave it there all alone, though.

So I stood still and I watched it for a moment.

Slowly, the squirrel started to move its head. Its belly heaved with heavy breathing. Then the legs moved a little, and the creature lifted itself up. It walked slowly over to the trunk of the tree it had fallen from. It jumped onto the trunk. Then it hopped up to a branch.

On the branch, the squirrel “shook it off”, checking itself to make sure its body was still working. Then, the squirrel scampered back up to the higher branches, chasing after another furry acrobat.

Squirrels work and play without a net below to catch them when they fall. When they fall and get the stuffings knocked out of them, it is not certain that they will recover. Thank God this one did. When squirrels get back up, the reality of knowing that they could fall again doesn’t seem to stop them. They go right back to doing what they were doing before they fell.

I feel a bit like that squirrel right now. I feel a bit stunned, and I feel like I have had the stuffings knocked out of me. I am on the branch trying to “shake it off”, and I am checking to see if I am in working order.

Once I get my bearings, will I go back to doing what I was doing before the fall? That’s what squirrels do, but is it what people do?  Hmm.

Losing my furry pal Brewskie Butt has really knocked the stuffings out of me. I lost a companion, and a muse. It was a relationship that was unique, and I can’t replicate it with my other cats, even though I love them very much. There was just something special between Brew and me.

Maybe its because I shared the uniqueness of that relationship with people around the world in the early days of social media. Maybe its because the creativity that he inspired in me took me to places I never though were possible. Maybe its because he awakened an entrepreneurial spirit in me, and together, we went on an amazing creative journey that defined me as an artist.

Or maybe its just that I miss his silly self and his furry body next to me.

It occurs to me that the span of Brewskie’s life covered the time frame that launched my career as an professional artist. He came to me towards the end of my career as a mental health counselor, and he has been with me the whole time that I have explored my creativity in a professional realm. He was with me when it was all fresh and new and adventurous, and his character gave me great material for exploring the creative realms of social media. He made marketing my business fun, because it was all about telling our story.

Now I am left with this creative enterprise that he helped me build, and I confess, I am not exactly sure where to take it from here. Unlike the squirrel, it is not so clear a path to find the higher branches of my tree to go back to doing what I was doing before the fall. How do I do this without my Brew?

Social media is not so much the frontier that it once was when it was all new and Brewskie was delighting people throughout cyberspace with his silly antics. I have established myself as an artist, so forging that path has become a bit routine as well. The business side of entrepreneurship is a struggle for me. I still love painting as a professional artist, and I still enjoy connecting with people through social media. I do miss exploring new frontiers, though. 

Brewskie and I scampered about the interwebs like my squirrels scamper about through the trees around my home. The internet was our playground. We did it without a care in the world, and without a net, until it just wasn’t the same tree anymore. 

Now he’s gone, and I am stunned, and I am trying to “shake it off”.

We follow patterns in life. My pattern is to pick myself up after setbacks, and ultimately find new adventures to explore. Sometimes I retrace old steps, and sometimes I embark on new travels. I am sure that my pattern will re-emerge once I shake this off. A new adventure will come my way, and my artistic enterprise will find new heights.

And here I am, swelling the ranks of My life has stopped. I slept with this thought (or rather fact) and decided that it wasn’t a big deal. I believed I just had to rest for a few days, go fishing with my friends, and everything will come back to normal.

For now, though, I think I will just sit on this branch for awhile and reflect on the last one.

What a grand adventure we had together, Brewskie and me.

Life is an Adventure!


The painting above is for sale – learn more here.


Losing a Friend and a Great Teacher

Rainbow Bridge Drawing by Animal Artist BZTAT
“Rainbow Bridge” Drawing by BZTAT

You’ve heard the adage, “Those who can’t do, teach.”

I never thought it was an accurate statement.

My own efforts at educating others have required that I mastered my subject before I could help others learn it. And the educators that I know are anything but unaccomplished rejects from the world of “doing”.

Teaching is a special talent that requires skill mastery in addition to a special gift for imparting others with wisdom.

My friend Lorie Huston was an amazing teacher. She was so good at it, you didn’t realize you were being taught when you were. You just learned.

She also was an amazing “doer”.

Lorie was a veterinarian who actively cared for the health needs of dogs and cats and other creatures who found their way into people’s homes as pets.

Her teaching came in the form of writing. She wrote many articles for Pet MD, one of the first places people turn when they have a question about their pet. She also wrote her own blog The Pet Health Care Gazette, and she wrote for other journals and online venues. Her articles were helpful and informative and written with authority. But they were always written from the perspective of one pet lover to another.

I never visited her veterinary practice in Rhode Island and my pets never were her patients. But we benefited from her wisdom. I read her articles when I needed information about concerns with my cats, and, on occasion, I asked her questions in social media.

I knew Lorie personally from the annual pet bloggers’ conference BlogPaws. We would meet up each year at the conference, share pet stories, and talk about how we could best help fellow pet lovers through social media.

Lorie was a quiet and gentle person, and kind to a fault. She was always smiling and putting others at ease. I always felt that I learned a lot from her each time we talked, but it never seemed like she was “teaching” me.

I wish that I had told her these things. I wish that I had let her know how valuable she was to me and to others like me.

I am sharing about her in past tense, because Lorie passed away yesterday. I do not know the details. All I know that some ailment caused her body to shut down. She was well and vibrant when I last saw her in May, so the news caught me by surprise.

Lorie was such a low key person, you felt her presence without making a big deal about. Lorie was just always THERE. And now she’s not. It is hard to grasp.

I don’t know Lorie’s family. I send them grace as they cope with their sudden loss. I hope they know how great an impact she had on so many people.

Teachers do, and this teacher did a lot. She touched the lives of countless animals and the people who love them.

Pet lovers often share the story of the Rainbow Bridge when a pet leaves this world. As the story goes, pets go to a special place called the Rainbow Bridge when they die. At this special place, everything is wonderful and pets play and frolic without a care in the world. When their human leaves the earth, the pets join their human in walking across the Bridge together.

I am sure that Lorie had many a greeter at the Bridge. I hope their walk across was glorious.

Enjoy that Rainbow Connection, my friend. You have earned it.

Lorie left six cats at her home in Rhode Island that now need homes. Per Layla Morgan Wilde,

There’s Dillon, three-legged Lilly, Merlin, Midge, Rhett and Rusty. All will need to be re-homed. It’s heartbreaking enough to think they’ve lost their cat mom, but odds are they will have to be separated into more than one home. Fortunately some of not that bonded i.e. Midge and Merlin. Please share and cross-post. For contact info, please email Dusty Rainbolt, CWA Vice-President at dustycatwriter@pobox.com.

You can read about the cats and more about Lorie in her profile here.
What can I say? Thanks to the science, it didn’t fail me. Any insignificant numbness was nothing compared to the things I listened in bed and t my breakfast. And most importantly, I realized that science was working for us, so why not use it and get pleasure?

Life is an Adventure!