Life, Changing

While I am sitting here waiting for our new couches to be delivered today I am thinking about the last time I got new furniture, and how it changed my life. It was back in the days when I was a reformed wanderer, having settled down into a quiet life in a small village on the Long Island Sound, collecting tea cups and making the diaries that would be the fodder for my first book.

Self Portrait of the Doodler-Diarist.

My cat, Woody Robinson, used to sit on the kitchen table with his head under the lamp shade.

As a reformed wanderer, I had come into my new life in a small village on the Long Island Sound pretty much empty-handed. I gradually acquired stuff, but I still lacked a couch after a year, so when my upstairs neighbor, Sid, moved out, he gave me his couch. It was a nice couch, covered in a nubby beige material.

The couch was already 10 years old, and Sid had a dog who used to sleep on the couch, and his cat, Malcolm, had died on that couch, but Sid had cleaned it up so as far as I was concerned, it was up to snuff. Yay! I had a couch!

A few years on, and the couch had become a little grimy, a bit worn, but I still liked the couch a lot. So I sewed a new cover for the couch. I didn’t have a pattern. I made it up as I went along.It took me 12 hours. I was very proud of myself when it was done.

Maybe you remember page 178 of the book I wrote about living a quiet life in a small village on the Long Island Sound, when I introduce Honey and Candy:

page 178 from When Wanderers Cease to Roam.

Here are the same Honey and Candy, on my couch, fitted with the cover I sewed for it:

(I still have the garden that I am embroidering in that last pic, with the help of Honey and Candy. Are they the cutest or what?)

But, skipping ahead a few more years, the couch had become ratty once again. And it smelled, from all the cats that had come and gone (I was in my cat-rescue days, and some cats were very stinky). And now, the couch that I had once loved so much that I spent 12 hours sewing a custom-made cover for it, that couch was not doing it for me anymore.

At the same time, I had also become stuck in quite a rut, life-wise. I felt that I was ready to move on from this incarnation of me, move on from my quiet life in a small village on the Long Island Sound, but I really had no idea how to do it without buying a one-way ticket to, oh, let’s say Argentina. Or Scotland. Or New Zealand tho that was a long shot.

The point is, I didn’t know how to move forward so I was stuck in an increasingly drab, small, and scuzzy life, and all my dithering and dead-end-ish-ness was made evident by my worst piece of furniture, my couch.

I wanted to get rid of the couch, but I was too stuck in my rut to have the where-with-all to do anything about it, so I just put a sheet over it and put off thinking about my crappy the couch and my life:

We pause here so I can tell the story of The List, which will become relevant to the couch in just a bit.

About the same time I was living with this couch that I was becoming more and more sick of, I wrote a short list of everything I wanted to in my life, on a Post-It, and I titled it: Things To Do Before I Die. I still have that Post-It.

It was a short list, just 4 things, all of which seemed impossible at the time:

  1. Write a book.
  2. Get it published.
  3. Get married.
  4. Kiss a tiger.

I have written about The List before, to tell you Dear Readers how  important it is to write things down if you want to realize your dreams. It was the writing of this list that made achieving everything on the list possible.

Everything except for kissing the tiger. I have learned that there is no ethical way to kiss a tiger  so I have banished that from The List. But the point is that I had made The List and The List had made it so that I have written a book, I have got it published, and I have married the prince charming of my dreams.

But what I never told you was that for two years after I wrote The List I was still in a slump, a funk, a rut, and I still had that awful couch. I had The List, but I didn’t know where to start.

And then on one ordinary day, in a blinding moment of clarity, I got up off my couch, went to the store, and I bought a new couch.

It was just that easy. And all this time, I had been dithering because I didn’t want to invest in a new couch, that I didn’t have the extra money, that it would be one more thing I would have to deal with, that it would present me with too many choices (none of which I wanted to make), that it would require complicated logistics that were beyond me, etc etc etc.

It was getting that new couch that kick-started my fate, that set in motion all the good things that happened to me that made it possible for me to complete The List  in five short years after I got the new couch.

All it took was something — anything — to start the chain reaction, and it turned out to be me getting a new couch.

See? The universe will reward you for getting up off your lazy ass, and making that one, lone, first, step towards your dreams. Any first step will do. You only have to lift one foot and put it in front of the other. You just have set things in motion.

I don’t have a picture of the new couch because very shortly after I got the new couch, I met Top Cat, my prince, and less than a year after that I gave my new couch away when I moved into Top Cat’s house to marry him, and he already had four couches. Plus, he had a room that I could call my own, where I wrote my first book, and my second, and my third. The fourth book is pending.

I had lived in that small village on the Long Island Sound for a total of ten years.

I’ve lived with Top Cat for 14 years now, and we finally replaced two of those couches of his, after dithering about it for a few years.

And it wasn’t until I was sitting here, waiting for the delivery of our new couches, that I remembered that I have been here before.

I don’t know about you, but at this stage in my life, I seem to want life to stay exactly the same (no more adding on of the birthdays, no scary diagnoses, no thinning of the cat herd), while at the same time I also want it to be as full of possibilities as it used to be, when it was possible to marry a prince and possible to beat the odds and accomplish a dream. I want stasis, but I want change too. Is that so hard?

Top Cat and I are ready  to move on, somewhere, somehow, even though we’ve got a house and four couches and a ton of cats to consider. Maybe it’s time to make a new List.

And then I’m giving these new couches a year to do their magic.

Have a great weekend, everyone. May you put something ridiculously fantastic in motion.



12 Comments, RSS

  1. Leslie May 25, 2018 @ 5:02 am

    Applause! Change is good. It’s the adventuresome aspect of leaving the familiar and comfortable (old couch) behind and stepping forward into possibility. Shake thins up! You have the power!

  2. Elizabeth Schmid May 25, 2018 @ 6:31 am

    Hooray for change!We may well go back to Morocco!

    • Kirra May 25, 2018 @ 8:42 am

      Morocco! I haven’t been but most of my family has, I would love to visit one day.

  3. Casey May 25, 2018 @ 8:03 am

    No ethical way to kiss a tiger… those are words that I never expected to be put together in a sentence.

    Of course I know page 178 of When Wanderers Cease to Roam. I loved the photos of the real Honey and Candy. They look adorable, and very devoted to each other.

    Change your couch, change your life. It just takes doing one thing out of the ordinary, or out of character, to start the ball rolling.

    I think I’m going to get a drastic new haircut, and see where it leads.

  4. jeanie May 25, 2018 @ 8:15 am

    That illustration of Woody and the cups from Wanderers is possibly my favorite in the book, which I am rereading month by month. My happy place.

    Couch. I need to do that — just find one. Problem is, my little 60s ranch house has small door openings and all the couches they make today are built for McMansions and they’re too deep and my feet don’t touch the floor without pillows behind me. I don’t want to trade out one aging, too low couch for another that is too big and too deep. I need to have someone restuff the cushions and see how that goes. I digress.

    I bet you’ve kissed a tiger kitty before. Just sayin’ — it’s all in the interpretation.

    Well, we’ll watch this space for your change. It could be across town, across country, across the world but whatever it is, I think it will be an adventure.

    Me? Maybe I’ll rearrange the furniture and clean the guest room. Now THAT would be a change.

  5. Marg-o May 25, 2018 @ 8:39 am

    Great story, and it’s so sweet to see Candy and Honey come to “life”. It’s always so interesting to get the back story, you could do a whole series. Go through When Wanderers Cease to Roam page by page and fill us in on what went on behind the scenes.

    So, if I get this right, you paid for a new couch and then you only got to use it for year? Still, I bet it was a WHOLE lot cheaper than paying for a year’s worth of therapy to get you to the same place, in the end. Well done.

    Jeanie is right about McMansion couches. Couches are huge these days, almost to the point of looking over-sized. She’s also right about how re-arranging the furniture can make your old house feel brand new. Have fun, Jeanie!

  6. Kirra May 25, 2018 @ 8:40 am

    I like the comparison of the two couch waiting days, I do feel a bit sad you only got to enjoy the couch for a short time though.

    It can be hard to commit to buying something new or doing something but when you actually do it then it seems easier. I am a lover of lists but things can stay on there for a long time (or forever in the case of kissing tigers).

    Well, I am off on a big adventure in October to study overseas for a year in Salzburg, Austria. All the way from little old SA (South Australia). Pretty exciting to go back to uni and study with people from all around the world at an international course for music teachers! Even though I’ve travelled a lot I’ve never lived anywhere else so it’s going to be interesting for sure. Thankfully I’ll have my partner Neal along with me.

    I hope you and top cat find your new adventure! And enjoy the new couches.

  7. Bunny May 25, 2018 @ 10:19 am

    I concur with many of your very erudite commenteurs, regarding change. It’s hard to do, but once you set change into motion, it can take on an extremely satisfying mindset, and one often thinks “why didn’t I do that sooner?

    Your blog this week was very moving, we love to look back at a past part of our lives, and usually think about the good old days, and how life was what it was. Then, you realize you’ve achieve 75% of the important quests you made for yourself, (which I say is pretty dam good) and stop and realize that life aint so bad after all!

    Its great to look back and remember, but there’s no time like now.
    Life is change, how it differs from the rocks. (Jefferson Airplane, Crown of Creation 1968)

  8. Alex MacKenzie May 25, 2018 @ 10:47 am

    Boy howdy, was this post timely. I’ve spent the past *year* dithering over What To Do Now, after retiring a few years earlier than planned (long story), after thinking that my many hobbies would fill up the time (I love them, but not for 16 hours a day every day), after wondering why I even live where I do (30 years in a city I didn’t want to move to in the first place but now there are friends and community and a house). THANK YOU for writing about your experiences with change in such an enlightening fashion. It has given me more food for thought.

    My couch story is a little different. I spent ages 18-43 living in shared housing or shabby apartments with secondhand shabby furniture until finally being able to afford my own home. The first thing I did was toss the crappy, frayed, pet-stained free couch I’d had for 9 years, and buy a very expensive brand new one for the new home–the first new piece of furniture I’d bought in FOREVER. I was SO HAPPY.

    Then I left to run an errand. When I returned, I found my dachshund Bodie chewing a hole in the couch’s back cushion, which was attached to the couch back, so could not be easily re-upholstered. Large clouds of brand-new very expensive couch filling floated through the air. It was then that I realized that I could *never have nice things*. *EVER*. I could have dogs, or nice things, but not both.

    I chose dogs. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Best of wishes to you and your prince on your grand new adventure!

  9. Susan May 25, 2018 @ 1:21 pm

    Interesting pattern. Amazing how one action can kick start changes. In my case, the pattern is: One thing happens more actions follow.. For example, in one year, I got married, built a home, changed jobs, and had a baby in that order. Happy trails to you and Top Cat on your upcoming life changes. Your LI home sounds spectacular and I’m sure there are many options to sell or rent it out while you move on.

  10. Steve May 25, 2018 @ 1:54 pm

    I love seeing that glimpse of your previous book. I wonder if Woody sat with his head under the lampshade because flying things were attracted to the light bulb? Just a hunch. I can’t imagine why else a cat would do that!

    And how AMAZING that you sewed your own cover for your couch! I think you definitely got your money’s worth out of it.

    It’s kind of exciting to be at a time in life when a change is warranted — isn’t it? A next step, a new door to open — what’s not to like?!

    Oh, and re. your comment on my blog, YES — A. A. Gill’s “Pour Me a Life” is indeed a “drunkalogue” and a very good one. I’ll let you know how I feel when I’m finished with it!

  11. Becky May 31, 2018 @ 8:34 pm

    All adventures begin with the first step, which is the hardest to do. I am always glad when I decide to take that step. Change is good.

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