StormyKat's Training Journal

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Katie (StormyKat) replied the topic: StormyKat's Training Journal

For my PLP, here is the essay I wrote on volunteering, what it taught me and how I can use that in my Jedi path.

I volunteered with two different cat rescue groups-Tree House Humane Society and Chicago Cat Rescue. I was a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) volunteer for Tree House, which means I would go out and catch feral cats, get them spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and return them to their colonies. With Chicago Cat Rescue I was on the “board” as it were. I did a number of things including helping to plan and run the CatVidFest in Chicago, writing their blog and managing social media.

Volunteering has been one of the most rewarding things I have done; Knowing that I made a positive impact on lives—feline and human—is a wonderful feeling. Volunteering has also been one of the most exhausting things I have ever done, because there was always more to do. There were always more cats to save, more people to educate and more resources to find. There was always more work to be done than people to do it or resources to dedicate to it. I found myself in the difficult position of needing to balancing volunteer responsibilities with the rest of my life. Volunteering had taken over. I had *ahem* have to learn to say no when asked to go help trap feral cats or do educational outreach. I had to say no to taking on more responsibilities with a small, understaffed, volunteer based rescue group.
Saying no has been nearly impossible in some cases because it literally means life and death for a cat or two or five. Fostering means more room in shelters to rescue at risk animals. The more cats I am able to trap with TNR, the fewer kittens born, the fewer cats killed either on the streets or at animal control. It took over my life. Dealing with the guilt of saying no has been the hardest part. Even writing this, I have a huge pang of guilt for distancing myself from rescue work and volunteer work. I took a step back for mental health reasons and to try to move my life forward.
Volunteering taught me that being part of something bigger than yourself is so rewarding. Knowing that I helped to plan an event that gave people enjoyment and helped raise funds for organizations I care about was one of the most exhilarating feelings in the world. Seeing something from an idea to a completed event made me feel proud and accomplished. That first time a kitten who wouldn’t come out to eat around you lets you touch him sends me over the moon. Seeing a feral cat return to her colony and her friends, and knowing that she was safe and not going to continue the cycle of breeding…there really isn’t any way to describe it other than it was a rush. It was this rush that kept me coming back. It was an addiction. It made me feel like I was a valuable player in the world. These few moments of adrenalin, joy, chemicals flooding my brain saying “YAY! HAPPY!” were my payment for months of stress and frustration. It was an abusive relationship. I gave and gave, then got just a little which made me forget all the giving I did. It took more and more out of me while giving less and less. It told me I couldn’t leave because there was no one else.
Looking back on my volunteering, what I have learned that applies towards my Jedi training is that being part of something larger is amazing. Being connected to the world beyond your own little circle is pretty damned awesome. The best experiences are those where you give something and get something back. It also taught me so much about myself, which is important as I move forward in my Jedi journey. They also taught me how easy it is for good things to turn negative if not taken in moderation. It taught me just how important it is to put yourself first sometimes. I can’t focus my attention solely on myself (have to remember the connection to the rest of the world) but I also can’t neglect myself (if am in bad shape, I can’t really make others better!) I can’t save the world alone. I can however work with a group of others who share similar skills and passions to improve a corner of the world. I still have not quite determined what I have learned about the guilt…I still feel like an awful human being for not doing more.
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Katie (StormyKat) replied the topic: StormyKat's Training Journal

I believe I am supposed to post this in my training journal and in the Creed 101 forum...?

Initial Thoughts on the Jedi Creed.

I have been thinking about it for months actually; even before I started the Creed 101 class. To me the creed is grounding. When I look at it, it reminds me that I am working towards being a Jedi. Which, in turn, means I am working to expand and grow beyond myself. Beyond that I am not sure I feel much of anything. When I contemplate it, I try focusing on the last word of each line-- peace, knowledge, serenity, the Force--to help bring me back to the now.

Responding line by line was hard for me. I am not sure if this is what I WANT the lines to mean, or what I actually think they mean. If that makes any sense.

There is no emotion, there is peace. I take this to mean we are more than emotions. We need to find peace within-or perhaps beyond, our emotions. We can chose how to respond to our emotions. When someone cuts me off in traffic after a long, difficult day at work my emotional response might be to honk and curse at that person, calling them a jerk. or I might just say "jerk" or "ass" outloud. I have a choice how I am going to respond. I also have a choice how to proceed from there. Maybe I have the more emotional response, afterwards I have the choice to hold on to those emotions, to get angry and aggressive in my driving, cursing at everyone. Or I can let it go. I can acknowledge my emotions and move on.

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. Every opportunity is a chance for learning. Don't know something, ask! Someone else doesn't know something? Try to teach them. Educate, learn, grow, expand your mind and your horizon.

There is no passion, there is serenity. Try not to act in moments of passion. Try to find a calm, peaceful place before acting. It relates back to the first line, about emotions, we need to try to think beyond our emotions.

There is no death, there is the Force. This was perhaps the easiest one for me. Since we are all part of the Force and the Force is part of every living thing, there is no death. We may die in a physical sense but our essence, our spirit and our essence will live on. Maybe it will take different forms---I will nourish the grass if I am buried. My body will feed other life forms, etc. But I will live on. My spirit will live in another form too.
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Atticus replied the topic: Re:StormyKat's Training Journal

The reference to posting in your training journal could be an artifact from the days when we kept off-site blogs for training journals and coursework.

"Right speech is about establishing productive and honest communication that is beneficial to both the speaker and the hearer. . . . Right speech requires the use of truthful, loving words intended to inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope in others." -- The Dharma of Star Wars
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Jax replied the topic: Re:StormyKat's Training Journal

Actually, I think when I went through it I left it in so people had a record of their work outside of the class as well. I have a vague memory of that at least. lol
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Katie (StormyKat) replied the topic: StormyKat's Training Journal

It has been a rough day, and tomorrow promises to be just as difficult if not slightly worse. Around 7 am this morning Crash started vomiting. He produced quite a bit of vomit, then just sat over it. He eventually went and sat in a weird place sorta crouched down and uncomfortable. He didn't eat breakfast, even though he had just been begging me an hour before hand. I gave him some of his at home treatments, thinking he was having another bought of kitty pancreatitis (of which he has a history of.) He growled when I picked him up so off to the kitty ER we went. The last time I was at the kitty ER was on New Year's Even when I euthanized Crash's sister. Nothing like unintended exposure therapy! (Thankfully the stars aliened so I did not have to go in the same exam room this time. I appreciated that.)

After an hour or so of waiting, mind you the place was mostly empty, we finally saw a doctor. Doctor felt my baby boy and said he was very painful in the abdomen. He felt him gently, then stopped and said my boy needs an abdominal ultrasound. Not a surprise. Doctor then said he thought he felt an abdominal mass in Crash. That was a surprise. Set up an ultrasound for tomorrow. Came home and cried hysterically. I have been a mess all day. I have been numb all day too. I am really hoping my darling boy just has pancreatitis and not an abdominal mass, though a mass would explain a lot of things. A mass would have come out of nowhere though, and I know this is possible just usually there is SOME sign of it before it gets this bad.

Anyways my boy was stoned on pain meds today, running around paranoid and nauseated. I feel so helpless. I also feel guilty because as much as I can't imagine living without Crash, a part of me kinda hopes it is his time. It would be so much less stress for me. So much less worry. We have had so many scares like this over the last few years, I keep thinking he is finally on his "9th life" and freak, then he gets better. I just can't take it. However, I know I will do everything I can for my sweet old man. I'm torn between being not ready and just wanting to "get it over with"--which makes me feel horrible. Tomorrow he goes to work with me for one of his regular doctors to look at, see if she can make anything new out. Then we leave work to go to the kitty ER for ultrasound and get the news. Then, sadly, back to work. :S

Crash is 19 years old. His sister died on New Year's Eve 2013, after a month of cancer that either was very aggressive and suddenly appeared, or that she had been battling without medications for 2 years. I adopted Crash, his sister Muffin and their brother Sam when they were 8 weeks old. Sam died unexpectedly in 2009. Crash is the last of his litter and this is sad in itself. When I was a teenager and horribly depressed Crash saved my life. I wanted to die. There were nights I laid on my floor crying hysterically, the pain was so intense I wasn't making a noise, and I wanted nothing more than the pain to end. Crash would always, always appear at my door scratching and demanding to be let in. He broke the cycle of pain enough for me to breath. He saved me. He was my reason to live for so many years. The thought of being without him scares me. I know sometime soon I will have to face that reality. I was just hoping it wouldn't be within 8 months of losing his sister.

Please keep my boy in your thoughts and meditations. And me. Give me the energy and strength to make the right decision for him, whatever that might be.
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Jax replied the topic: Re:StormyKat's Training Journal

Please be kind to yourself. Your deepest desire stems from kindness and love for him. If you didn't you wouldn't keep taking care of him. Just because it's also a release for you when he goes doesn't change that. There's nothing wrong with these feelings.

"I ask any and all beings to bring Crash relief soon, in whatever form is most benevolent. Thank you."


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk - Please forgive typos
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Katie (StormyKat) replied the topic: StormyKat's Training Journal

Well, today was so much better than I expected! Thanks for the kind words and support.

Crash and I went to the Kitty ER/Specialty Center for his ultrasound. By this point he was back to acting like his old self. And by old self, I mean like five years younger; he was running around the vet's office, looking out the window, hopping in and out of his carrier. I was like who is this cat? He was definitely a different cat that I took there yesterday. The doctor, who ended up being an oncologist, said he felt Crash would be better served by seeing the internist. He did a very basic ultrasound today to make sure there were no masses. There were none. Yay! It is possible he has lymphoma or IBD, we will find out on Thursday. At this point, I am just grateful for no masses. I can deal with IBD. I have already "done" lymphoma so I at least have some idea what to expect if that's it.







Running from work to the ER and back to work wasn't too bad either. Traffic cooperated for me, which is a big thing in Chicago. I had lots of co-workers asking about Crash and how he was doing when I got back. There were lots of people wishing him luck on our way out. I told him that there were lots of people who cared about him. Somewhere along the line it dawned on me that there might be lots of people who care about me too. That was a nice thought.

There are some feral cats that I have been watching over. The garage some of them lived in was boarded up over the weekend. I finally got a chance to go round and check for cats. It looks like they got out. I saw one of the cats, but not the other. I think the two of them stick together, so hopeful that the other got out. When I saw the owner of the garage I panicked though and refused to go up and talk to him. *sigh* Glad to know the cats are probably not stuck in the garage though.

Now, it's time to pick the pieces up and get my calm back together. I feel exhausted physically, but mostly emotionally/spiritually. I feel like I have been in a thousand places at once while supporting everyone else. There are not enough hours in the day, but I will do my best to carve some time out for myself and my own sanity the next few days.
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Jax replied the topic: StormyKat's Training Journal

That's good news!
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Katie (StormyKat) replied the topic: StormyKat's Training Journal

I have been feeling a lot of anger lately and would love to know how everyone else copes with their anger.

My anger has not been directed at anything or anyone in particular until last night when I got into it a bit with the neighbors. They had their boat blocking the alley so I couldn't get through to my garage. I asked them to move and they were rude and entitled and just very unpleasant. Something in my just went off on them. Or, it would have if I hadn't had Crash in the car. Once again my little dude saved me from doing something stupid. Darling guardian cat. Anyhoo I was so angry at them. I never get into it with people, especially my neighbors. I usually just shrug it off. I called the police on their illegally parked trailer that is taking up four parking spots. When I left for work this morning I was thinking of ways I could "get back at them" since they hadn't gotten a ticket yet. I thinking of vandalism and other awful things. I am not proud of these thoughts; I also don't know where they came from.

I have been crazy stressed the last month. Work has been stupid; our schedules change week to week and we have been super busy most days. I come home super stressed and possibly have not been unwinding as well as I should be. My body has been protesting--everything was tight and knotted. I have had a lot of days when I felt I was losing control...days when I felt I was so behind with everything I had to do. Days I was so tired I couldn't do more then get through the work day. So I got really behind on life. Finances have gotten worse as of late, which is not helping things. I have so much stress right now--physical, emotional, mental. I can feel my body protesting. I was super agitated the other day as well. Just too many things 'hanging over my head' or on the back burner. I assume all these things are adding up to some unhealthy habits and attitudes.

I have not had anger issues like this in many years. Not since I got my depression and anxiety under control. Even now I am not nearly as angry as I was a few years ago. This morning as I was going to work, thinking my angry thoughts I just took some deep breaths and reminded myself there are no emotions, there is peace. It helped a bit. I still have those angry thoughts hanging around the back of my head. Would love to know how everyone else deals or has dealt with anger.
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Kol Drake replied the topic: StormyKat's Training Journal

There are nice people and then there are people who don't have the common sense God gave a rock... and even then, rocks come out better in my opinion.

Being angry is a choice. It happens. But it is still a choice.
It can be due to feeling stressed or frustrated or someone just pushing the wrong button on the wrong day... but it happens.
Being the proper Jedi person that you are working to be, you know to not lash out 'in the heat of the moment' but to take that short second or two (or counting to ten) to remember --- Emotion, yet Peace. Passion, yet Serenity.

The other half of this 'equation' is finding some outlet for you to use to unwind at the end of the day. Some 15-30 minute 'thing' that lets you 'let it all go'. Some I know do a 'get the dirt of the day off' by jumping into the shower and let it all drain with the water. Others do the 'one sip' before dinner and reading the paper or the 'Net as their unwind time. There will always be 'things to do' around the house but... taking care of YOU is just as important as taking care of the house.

During a walk in a park a few years ago, I noticed a girl swinging as fast, as hard, and as passionately as she could. From my vantage point I could see how she thrust her legs out as she swung up and tucked them hard under her as she swung back. Thrust up, tuck back, thrust up, tuck back. She moved with such strength and energy that you almost felt that she’d just had a huge argument with her playmate and was blowing off some steam. I know when I was a young kid, there were times when I would swing as hard and as high as I could... just because. Sometimes to work off excess energy; sometimes because it felt better than being mad; sometimes to just do it and feel the wind and watch the sky flashing by.

'Life' is hard work and unfortunately, most businesses do not have a swing set available when we feel frustrated, annoyed, or overwhelmed. But, being Jedi (and smart cookies all around) we can come up with some fun 'steam reducing' things to do...

1. Disassociate from the moment
During junior high (still the worst years of my life by the way), I developed the coping strategy of going outside during 'class change over', sitting on a concrete wall and resting my head in my hands while taking deep, calming breaths. I would think about something far removed from that moment. It was my way to “escape”. I still use that coping skill today and I admit that I sometimes miss my private patch of concrete but... have learned to make do where ever I am. Shifting your focus from the current situation energizes your mind so you can return to your everyday life with more focus.

2. Listen to Music
There is something about putting my favorite music on that changes my mood and even whisks me away to a new world entirely. Oftentimes, it inspires me to start what I call 'chair dancing' -- just a lame excuse to wiggle and tap my feet inn a happy manner... totally enjoying the moment musically. Getting my body moving and grooving (I don't dance so chair spazzing is as close I'll ever get!) is so much fun, and a great way to release a lot of tension.

3. Stretch
Sometimes I will stop everything, get in the middle of the floor and start doing stretches and deep breathing. Whether you are an amateur or a yogi, just getting twisted up can release some tension. Not saying you have to drop and do inverted plows in the work space but even standing up and doing some side to side stretches and trunk twists can loosen up those 'frustration' tightening muscles.

4. Nap or Simply be Still
Being a Type Z personality, this is my number one activity! I am guilty of taking regular naps or, at the very least, zoning out for 30 minutes every single day. Getting quiet and allowing room for gaps between your thoughts is a great way to slow down a frantic day. No TV, radio, pets, or any other noise – just silence. It is a relief to NOT have constant demands or noise bombardment.

5. Read a Good Book
My other 'Great Escape'. I would not know what to do with myself if I did not have something to read. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Religion, Self Help (ugh), regular fiction, biographies... it is all interesting. Sometimes I even learn something -- even about myself. But it is also the chance to 'go to another place; another time' and to leave 'Life' for a few minutes... again, to unwind and let the tension float away in a safe manner.

6. Clean House
This sounds like a strange one, I know, but cleanliness and organization can be energizing! That and there IS some satisfaction when it's over and done .... even if the 'initial energy' is due to being pissed off. At times, I had a showcase home even if everyone had to walk on egg shells while I was polishing the chrome. But, seriously, having a mission and following through with tasks so you will feel a sense of accomplishment in just a short amount of time does help 'give a SAFE outlet' for that emotional tempest.

7. Talk to Someone
Journaling is fine but, when you just need to vent, call up that one person you can talk to no matter what the topic. Telephone, instant message, text, get on Facebook, or hop on Twitter. Engage in whatever form of communication that works for you. I have offered my ear and shoulder to more than a few friends and we both know it is kind of a special agreement... nothing said goes further than my ear... ever.

8. Go to the Playground
This is a healthy, positive, and fun way to use that excessive, angry energy. Swing. Walk about a park. But then use that time... to watch the clouds or the grass grow and the trees embracing the area. Do not be afraid to hop on a swing or spin on a merry-go-round. Letting it all go 'like a child' can be pretty freeing!

So, seriously... find an outlet.
Ten minutes or 30 or an hour. Something that connects with you and lets you unwind... or at least take most of the wind out of those billowing sails so you can work through the tension and frustration.
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