One Way to Shrink Our Problems

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

As many of you know, I had to put my sweet kitty to sleep this past summer. I didn't think I would take it quite as hard as I did. But for some reason, the loss really hit me when we came home from our family vacation to an empty home.

I walked through the door, waiting for the usual excited meows and leg-rubbings. But without my kitty to greet me, my heart felt as empty as my home.

Even though I was missing my kitty, I didn't want to rush out and try to replace the loving pet that I'd had for nine years. And I wasn't planning to . . . until, a few days later when I was listening to the radio as I took my youngest daughter to the dentist.

The radio announcers were sitting outside the local humane society. And they were discussing the towers and towers of kittens inside that desperately needed homes.

Of course, right then and there I wanted to step on the gas and steer the van directly to the front door of the humane society. Instead, I made myself be a good mommy, and I took my daughter to her dentist appointment first.

But the minute she was done, we zipped over to visit the kittens. "Just to look" I told my husband on the cell phone.

Okay, so you know the end of the story. I didn't just look. I ended up taking home a six week old calico that had been taken from her mother way too soon. She had worms and fleas and needed a bath. But she was just what I needed to warm my heart. I named her Petunia, sweet little Petunia.

But that's not quite the end of my kitten story. While we were looking at the cages and cages of cats, I discovered a five month old kitten that I knew my husband would fall in love with—a friendly, main-coon-mix, that had the makings of becoming a large cat (just the kind my husband likes).

So you guessed it. We adopted him too. Only he was incredibly sick at the time with a severe upper respiratory infection. The day we brought him home, he could hardly breathe, he wasn't eating or drinking, and he was coughing and sneezing. He too was dirty, skinny, and flea-infested.

I didn't think the poor kitty would make it through the first night. But the next morning, he was still alive . . . but barely. For three days, we worked hard to save his life, syringe-feeding him and coaxing every tiny sip of water we could into him.

Finally, he began to perk up. And when he ate a dish of watered-down canned cat food, we cheered.

Patriot, named after my husband's favorite football team!
It's been an uphill battle nursing him back to health. He's still coughing. But slowly he's adjusting to our home and his new family—who obviously loves him a LOT to go to such great lengths to care for him.

As I told my children on the day we adopted our new kittens, "They don't know how lucky they are to be coming to live with us."

So what have I learned through all this crazy kitten business?

One lesson is that we all need to have someone or something to think about outside ourselves, especially in such a "me first" culture. I'm the first to admit that I think about myself, my likes, dislikes, comfort, or lack of it quite a bit.

But when we give ourselves the opportunity to look beyond ourselves, to see the problems of others, we come away with fresh perspective, perhaps realizing our issues aren't quite as overwhelming as we once believed. We learn to be just a little more grateful for what we've been given, instead of focusing so much on what we don't have.

Adopting sick and homeless kittens may not be a big thing. But it's a step in the right direction. It's helping me and my family focus a little less upon ourselves.

So, next time your problems feel overwhelming, find someone or something worse off than you and help them. Reaching outside ourselves to the needs of others definitely puts life back into perspective. It helps shrink our problems.

(And by the way, if you'd like to learn more about how you can help someone worse off, check out my Reader Page for some of the sites I'm helping with proceeds from Unending Devotion in an effort to bring awareness to the continuing problem of sexual exploitation of women.)

 So what about you? Have you ever gone crazy over any of your pets? :-) And how are you working on shrinking your problems?


During the month of September, I'm sharing secrets about myself during my "Fun Secrets" Blog Tour. On each blog stop, I'll also be giving away a signed copy of my newest release, Unending Devotion:

Monday, Sept. 10: Secret #5: One huge way my husband supports me. Caroline Flory’s blog

Tuesday, Sept. 11: Secret #6: What I wanted to be when I grew up. Julie Musil’s blog

Wednesday, Sept. 12: Secret #7: Where I do most of my writing. Brooke M.’s blog

For a list of all my secrets, check out my Events Page!

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