This week I carried through on a very difficult decision I made recently.   As I learned years ago from life coach Cheryl Richardson, the quality of our life can often be improved most powerfully by removing things – rather than adding more of what we love.  The mystery is that when we remove what is burdening  us down, new space and energy shows up – sometimes effortlessly – for what we want and love.

And sometimes, there are other discoveries in the process.  That was true for me this week.

On the top of my list of things to remove from my life for several years has been to stop caring for two aging and difficult cats.  They were not terminally ill, but had what the Vet, whom I saw on Tuesday,  called ‘inappropriate urination’ (technical word for peeing in all the wrong places) and there was no alternative home for them.

Here’s a picture of the two of them, Rita and Jessie – the two grey ones – together with our third cat, Meehta – the black one. (Okay, my daughter was very young when we acquired this brood; these are the crazy things parents do for their children sometimes.)  You can see why this was a very difficult decision.

So after long deliberation, I chose to end their lives so that I could reclaim a clear and beautiful home, which despite my best efforts, was severely compromised living with two these two cats.  Part of coaching is to help people to reclaim themselves; this week I was the client doing the reclamation, but I had to say goodbye to two very dear cats in order to do so.

This was when I discovered grace.  First, with the Vet, Dr. Jeanne Gallo, who 100% supported my decision, and give me a big hug and cried with me afterwards and shared my sorrow deeply.

Next another unexpected discovery.  Late that same evening, I ran to the grocery store to pick up a few items, still feeling sad, raw, and very lonely.  As I was checking out my groceries, the man working the register asked me how my day had been.  Barely able to speak, I said “Not easy.  I put two cats down today.”  Any more speaking and I would have burst out in tears again.  So I quietly paid for my groceries and picked up my bags.  At that moment, I felt this large bouquet of flowers being placed in my arms by the checkout man.  Free.  Just because.  I took them and walked out, in tears, again.  But I felt the beginning of a deep healing in this moment of connection.   My loneliness was eased.

As my friend Lauren said, reflecting on it afterwards, it was the power of connection to his humanity – that was his gift to me – arriving as a bouquet.  This is what we do as coaches for our clients – connect and discover; and as people, when we can, for one another.

So the grief, which I had anticipated, but not as strongly as it came, has been with me this week.  My two remaining animals are feeling it, too.

This is a picture of Meehta and my dog, Tingo, today – slowly adjusting to their new life as the only two animals in the household.  Not quite at ease with each other, but this will come, I know.  And the grief will subside, too, in a while.  Naturally.   I don’t have to push it away.  Just feel it and breathe.

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