TRAINING CATS TO DRINK WATER

To achieve new heights, we have to acquire new habits and tell ourselves a different story.

Stay with me, there’s a point to this drinking water thing.

We’ve always had cats. If you have cats, you know what happens.

Cats train you to do some really funny things. They get us to act in ludicrous ways, irrational ways. And we end up believing in the idiocy, too. We even believe it’s natural. “Cats are like that–they’re finicky!” we say.

It starts out very innocently. Maybe the cat starts playing with water coming out of the kitchen tap. Soon, every time you turn on the tap, the cat is there to play some more, and maybe take a few sips.

After a while, you begin to notice that the water level in his official water dish, stays the same. “Oh, no!”, you think. “The cat isn’t getting enough water!” So you turn on the tap. He jumps up and gratefully starts drinking.

Before you can say, Holy Catfish! you have a cat who will only drink out of the faucet.

Eventually, you even have to adjust the flow of water to just the right speed–not too fast, or he’ll be frightened. Not to slow, or he’ll walk away in impatience.

It will seem very normal to you, too. You will simply accept the process as what you have to do to get him to drink.

Until you see someone else doing this in their house, with their cat. And then you see how ridiculous the situation is.

For us, it was when we visited a friend with a cat. He had half a dozen caps from cans of shaving cream arranged around his bathroom floor, each cap filled with water. He told us (in total seriousness) he had to do this so his cat would drink water.

I burst out laughing. Because, you know, I know, and Pete knows….

No cat dies of thirst because his water is in the wrong-sized container.

No cat starves to death because his food is not the right brand.

Your teenager isn’t going to starve because you don’t make his sandwich the right way, with the right bread.

“Finicky” goes out the window when you’re hungry enough, when you’re thirsty enough.

“Finicky” goes out the window when you want something badly enough.

I was thinking about this today. Oh, all right, I admit, because I now have a cat who will only drink water who has trained me to think she will only drink out of the bathtub faucet.

As I watched her drink this morning, it suddenly occurred to me…

I wondered what have I trained myself to do….
What story have I told myself….What story do I ‘know’…
That’s getting in the way of getting what I really want in my life?

I’ve been fearful of “not doing it right” with an upcoming workshop I’m teaching–to the extent that I wanted to cancel it. I want to do it badly. But I think I can’t do it unless I do it perfectly.

I have a project dear to my heart, something I’ve been dreaming about for six years. I have a million reasons ‘why it won’t work’. Today I wrote in my journal all the excuses I’ve made up for why I shouldn’t do it: ‘I know’ there’s no way to exhibit it. ‘I know’ there’s no one who would buy it. ‘I know’ I shouldn’t start it til I have the whole concept figured out perfectly.

Well, duh, who cares??!!

I want to do it.

And the only thing holding me back is the story I’ve been telling myself, and all the ridiculous reasons I’ve made up about why it won’t work.

So giggle a little at the thought of Tomcat Toes drinking daintily out of a lovely assortment of plastic cups. Smile at the thought of chubby Chai shlurping heartily from the bathtub faucet. Let’s tease my sister not wanting her son to go to California years ago because he would never make himself a sandwich and so he would go hungry….

But the next time you have a project, an idea, a glimmering of something that makes your heart beat a little faster….

Listen hard for the imaginary can’t/shouldn’t/no-way thinking that could have you drinking out of a shaving cream cap within a few weeks.

Won’t that look silly?

Now go to your studio. Write that song. Start that video. Get out your brushes.

Me? I’m gonna go dust off my sewing machine.

And yes, I will share my big project when it firms up a little more. Just keep those cups of water outta my sight for awhile, okay?

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14 Comments

Filed under action steps, art, business, courage, craft, creativity, fear of failing, inspiration, life with pets, mental attitude

14 responses to “TRAINING CATS TO DRINK WATER

  1. Pingback: What are you looking for? | Work hard, eat right, enjoy life!

  2. I like this article, and the cat analogy!..about flexible minds and examining our habits and fears!

  3. Great article Luann!

    Putting aside the fact that one of our mentally unbalanced cats will only drink out of the faucet when we’re brushing our teeth, I really like your analogy about how we unconsciously train our own minds to believe stupid stuff over time (not that I would know anything about that ;)

    You’re absolutely right when you say that “Finicky goes out the window when you want something badly enough.” That need to have everything perfect before getting started is only another excuse not to get started at all. After all, if we can’t get started there’s no way we can fail right?!. . . oh wait

    Now where did I put those shaving cream cups. . .

    • Yep, Drew, I’m hoping I have more success with MY retraining than my cat’s. Just this morning, I obligingly turned on the bathtub faucet for her. Oh heck, she has so much fun, why not?

      :^D

  4. Great article. Thank you. There is a project I started, only to abandon it several times. I am now going into my studio to drag it out from wherever it is and stick with it until it’s finished. It will be glorious!

  5. Why is it so hard to keep inspired as artists? I think the cat drinking water is a great illustration of how we get stifled in our thinking. I am now putting away all shaving cream lids and going to the fountain of living waters for inspiration! Thanks for a great article!

  6. Wow Luann,
    Now I have no more excuses….. and so many started projects and ideas. I have decided that I want to do 1 new design a week this year……….at least until Sunapee. So far it is working. It is making me take out those half baked ideas and keep baking them……….and then I put the new design on my blog.
    By the way, we have the finicky dog, a Sheltie, not a cat, but they are cousins I am sure.

  7. Hey Sandy, glad to hear this article got you churning out new idea! Can’t wait to stop by at Sunapee & take a peek.

    Re: My cat & your Sheltie, oooh yeah, sounds like they were separated at birth!

  8. Pingback: All Things Metal Clay » Blog Archive » How I manage deadlines for shows II

  9. I tried to deny your article was about me and my habits, and instead insisted it was about Gizmo’s addiction to faucet water, but you got me. It applies to us BOTH. Thank you!
    Murrah Noble

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