All posts by Johnna L White

About Johnna L White

I am a massage therapist for people and their pets, kayaker, motorcyclist, musician and songwriter. I live with one human and seven cats. I also volunteer at a local animal shelter.

The Power of Silence

On the power of silence, I have many praises to sing. I believe my most creative moments are incubated in silence. It helps my mind to focus, and my inner artist to be heard.

When I spend time in silence, I relax. I hear the outside world in ways that I wouldn’t hear otherwise. The sounds of the day are interesting, but also become a sort of background noise that reminds me the day is moving along, and so I must also move with it.

The reason silence is so powerful is that I notice what thoughts I am actually having, instead of being on automatic pilot. I am aware and observant of these thoughts, and I can change them.

I say to myself, in the space of this silence: What are my thoughts about? Do I like what I am thinking? Is it lifting my energy or draining it? Don’t like it? Have another thought. Try this one on for size. What about that one? Ooh, I have had this thought many times, now. Is it worth keeping?

Or, I can also decide just to allow my thoughts to be heard through the silence. Not judging, not trying to stop the stream, but instead allowing the thoughts to ebb and flow.

Then I start getting ideas on what I’d like to write, what stories I’d like to tell. I can even hear music in my head, or poetry. Or no thoughts at all, a sort of emptying out.

Silence is also a powerful tool when faced with other people who are doing all the talking and are convinced that everything they say is correct and irrefutable. Like offering their opinions as if they are facts. I feel that much of the time it’s best to maintain silence when faced with a person who is just talking on and on, with barely a moment to breathe, because that person in front of me wants to feel heard and acknowledged. I know silence is the most powerful tool I can use to help that person to resolve their state and to feel better.

Silence is an indispensable healing tool when working with people who need to stop themselves from getting upset or saying things that they may later regret. It is hard to have an argument when the other half of the party remains silent. Silence allows the space for course correction.

It’s a beautiful thing to have the mighty and powerful silence in my bag of tricks. It can be heavy, or it can be light. It is infinite, and yet it’s infinitesimally small. And it is always available to everyone, anywhere and anytime… Silence is golden.

Living in The Meow. Life Lessons From a Blind Cat.

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Nell, waiting for some lap time.

I want to tell you about Nell. She is a member of my family. Yet, biologically, she is unrelated to me. Nell is not human, but she requires humane treatment at all times. She is a domestic feline. In other words, she’s a cat.

The reason I want to tell you about her, is because she is one of my teachers. Through her actions, she demonstrates her wisdom and insight. Nell shares with me her life’s lessons, which translate beautifully to my own life. I want to honor Nell and her teachings, so I must tell you about her.

Nell came to me blind. She was losing her vision due to a painless eye condition called Progressive Retinal Atrophy. She was likely able to see, in the early days of her existence, but gradually lost her sight because of this genetic twist of fate.

She was found as a stray, so it remains unknown whether she was lost, allowed to roam, or abandoned by her previous owner. Nell was brought to the Monmouth County SPCA, where I volunteer. Feeling a mixture of love and pity for her, I adopted her and brought her home with me.

That’s when I began learning the first of many valuable lessons from Nell.

Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Adapt!

Time after time Nell showed me her complete lack of self-pity. I watched her, intensely, during her first few days roaming around in her new home.

She found everything she needed. At first, with an awkwardness that resembled a drunken sailor, stumbling around. And then, as she navigated her way to her favorite spots, she became more and more certain of every step. Nell began walking about with confidence.

Take responsibility for meeting your own needs.

Nell decided on her favorite cozy spot for nap taking, and retires to that same place, daily. She located the basket filled with cat toys, and sorted through them, finding what became her favorite toy mice to play with. I find these toy mousies scattered on the kitchen floor, every morning.

Nell had no trouble locating the food and water bowls. Or the litter box. She even made friends with members of her new cat-family. And then she learned which way to the bedroom, where her human (me) sleeps, so she knows where I am, if she needs me. For breakfast. At four-in-the-morning. But I digress…

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.

Nell has really good boundaries.

Now that Nell is familiar with the other cats in the home, she’s become selective about which of her feline roomies she will associate with, on a regular basis. She indicates her distaste for those who get in her purrsonal space by giving a low growl and a preemptive swat. If they don’t back away from her, she removes herself from the situation.

Seek those who truly love you, and love them well.

Nell’s best-friend-ever is a cat named Houdini. She especially enjoys play-fighting and mutually grooming with him.

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Nell, lounging next to her furever friend, Houdini.

They also lounge together next to me, on the loveseat. When Nell’s not canoodling with Houdini, I am her second-best-friend. She tells me when she wants my attention and I’ll pick her up, and gently place her on my lap.

She purrs and purrs, so loudly I used to worry that she was having breathing problems. It sounds like she’s under water! She likes to touch her face to mine, as if she is giving a kiss, and sometimes nibbles my fingers, in a soft, appreciative manner. She reminds me, every day, how much I am loved.

Always look on the bright side.

Nell has a great appreciation for the sunny spot on the rug, in front of the sliding glass doors in our home. If the doors are closed because of cold weather, she simply lies on the floor, soaking up the warmth of the sun’s rays. On warmer days, I open the way to the screen door, and she puts her nose right up to it and sits there. Nell listens to all the outdoor sounds, and also sniffs the air for its bountiful aromas.

She has the remarkable senses of hearing and smell, and eagerly absorbs the out-of-doors using these gifts. I don’t know if she gives one single thought to her blindness. Probably not.

Instead, she enjoys all that is.

Only her eyes have gone dark. The rest of her shines brilliantly, like the sun.

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Nell, sitting in the lap of her favorite human.