March in the Rearview

The month of March went by with a whoosh, right? Whew…  🙂

A quick look back:

What I enjoyed this month: Reading, obviously! But also trips to see my beloved ocean and coffee dates with friends  🙂

Huntington Beach is my favorite local beach and it makes me feel all the feelings when I am there!

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I read Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham which I looooved!! If you are a Gilmore Girls fan, than this book is for you! Lauren talks about her life and of course, behind the scenes stuff about the BEST SHOW EVER!!!

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I also drooled over read The Minimalist Baker’s cookbook Everyday Cooking. I want to eat everything in this book, especially her recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oat Bread. Yup. You read that right  😉

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What I am absolutely over: Choices for White House appointments/jobs who have absolutely no qualifications for said job, but get said job anyway. I can’t even…

On the healthy living front: I did really well exercising this month until the last week of March. Ugh, so annoying. But the good thing is, is that I recognize that it has been a week since I worked up a sweat and I am getting back into my routine. Older = wiser, right?  😉

On the minimalism/decluttering front: If you remember, I mentioned that for the month of March I was going to declutter 3 separate areas of my home: the kitchen, electronic stuff (my computer), and the bathroom. Suffice to say, I accomplished my tasks! Guys, I actually have ONE EMPTY DRAWER in my kitchen!!!! *cue squealing* I love that one empty drawer. I refuse to let anything get in its recesses again!

I also unsubscribed from emails that I no longer want to receive, and blogs that I no longer want to read. Mission accomplished.

And as for the bathroom, icky nail polish, expired medication, and make-up that has probably seen better days, has all gone in the rubbish bin.

All in all, March was a very productive month and I am looking forward to getting some more things accomplished. I’ve got momentum, y’all!!!

By the way, all my pictures in this post are from my Instagram account. Come say hi!  🙂

How was the month of March for you? Did you get in any decluttering?

Living a Life That Is True To You

Along with several other words in today’s lexicon, the word “values” has sprung up in more conversations and blog posts over the past few months. “What are my values?” and “What do I value in life?” seem to be the springboards onto which fraught conversations are run.

Value can be what you esteem to be worth relative merit or importance; what you consider to be essential or important. What you won’t back down on.

But are you backing down? Are your values taking a back seat to the monotony of life or the frenzied clamor of life and its draining entities?

Are you living a life that is true to you?

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“I’ve started asking myself: What type of person do I want to be? How do I express my interests and values? Am I living a life that’s true to myself and not the life others expect of me? By spending more time dreaming about what I want for the future, I’ve started to form a better idea of who I want to be and where I want to go”. -Sarah Moss

I am utterly enamored of this quotation by Sarah Moss because it causes one to step back from the hustle and bustle of daily life and really examine what is adding value to our lives and what is not. It causes one to think about the things that they are doing and wondering introspectively if these things are being done for someone else because it is what is expected or are they being done because we want them to be?

You are never too old to re-imagine the direction of your life and decide that things aren’t going quite the way you expected. It is also okay to feel a certain way about things and not feel guilty about them.

For example, I value my time with my daughter as sacred. If something is going to impinge on that time with her, I say no to other requests of my time. My child is only young once; there will be a point where as she gets older, Mom is no longer “cool” and friends will become her end-all, be-all. Children grow so fast; before you know it, they are out of the house and on their way to college. So for me, my daughter and our quality time come first. I place a high value on that.

While not related per se, minimalism helps me in this capacity. If I had to spend my time constantly arranging, organizing, and taking care of all of our things, I would have less time to spend with my daughter. Instead of snuggling together and watching a Charlie Brown cartoon, or baking cookies together, I would be cleaning, organizing, and taking care of our stuff.

And that is just not okay with me.

My life is a simple one, because I have made it so. That is not to say that I don’t experience heartache or have difficulties that I continue to overcome, it means that I choose a simple life because it aligns with my values. I strive for a minimalist lifestyle because spending time with loved ones is important to me and spending time taking care of stuff, is not. A simpler life helps keep me on my way to having more fullness in my life.

I still have dreams that I can’t wait to bring to fruition. Approaching a new decade in my life has brought home to me so many things, and I still continue to learn and grow and remind myself to stay true to the essence of who I am.

Are you living a life that is true to you?

When Organizing Stops Working

The season of warmer weather is starting to beckon us fragile souls, in need of some Vitamin D and a yearning for shoes other than boots. With this need, also comes the need to clean, organize, declutter, and/or purge. I too, am minimizing parts of my space and have already rid our home of needless things.

But there is a difference between tackling a few spaces that have become unruly, and organizing the same things over and over.

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If you feel like a hamster in a hamster wheel, just spinning and spinning, and organizing and organizing and feeling like it is Groundhog Day and you are sorting out the same space/things over and over again, well maybe this quote might help you:

“If organizing your stuff worked, you’d be organized by now”. -Courtney Carver

Courtney dropped the mic, amiright?  🙂

But seriously, think about that sentence for a quick moment. If organizing your stuff worked, you would be organized by now. Wow. Is organizing all of your stuff working for you? Do you feel overwhelmed? Does the thought of going to the Container Store to purchase containers to hold your stuff, send you into the panic zone?

Well maybe, just maybe, there might be too much stuff for you to deal with. Maybe all that organizing and re-organizing is sending you a clear signal that minimizing might be in your future.

Speaking from experience, it is no fun to spend an entire weekend, every few months or so, organizing all the things. Having less frees up your space, but most importantly, it frees up your time! More time to do what you really want instead of cleaning out a garage full of items that you can’t even remember putting in there. More time in the day is something we would all love to have, right?

If you had less stuff to clean/keep track of/maintain, and you now had a windfall of time, time to do what you really wanted to do, what would you do? Take a painting class? Learn to bake? Finish that book that has been sitting on your nightstand? Finally getting around to planting a vegetable garden?

Are your things preventing you from living the life you really want to lead?

If you need help answering this question, no problem! We’ve all been there!  🙂 These books might help:

The More of Less by Joshua Becker

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

The Joy of Less by Francine Jay

Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by The Minimalists

Don’t let the things you own, end up owning you! Live the life you really want to live

 

 

 

 

Minimizing in March

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Happy March friends! 🙂 Spring is on its way, can you feel it?

Although I am a person who is not a fan of clutter and excess stuff, sometimes life and its baggage creep into the living abode. Whether it is paperwork, a junk drawer that has long exceeded its usefulness, or countertops that are not being used ideally because there are ill-placed items on them, clutter has a way of making its presence known. Well I see you clutter and it is time for you to go!

I feel like March is the ideal month to do a bit of spring cleaning, don’t you? Want to join me in minimizing your living space these next few weeks? Okay! So here is what I am focusing on this month. It’ll be easy-peasy, lemon-squeazy!

Kitchen

Junk drawers are the worst, aren’t they? Ugh… A “catch-all” is one thing, but junk drawers have a way of spilling over to other drawers and pretty soon, you have several of them filled with sheer nonsense. So I am tackling these junk drawers along with my cooking utensil ones as well.

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Countertops are not for unopened mail with postmarks of over a week prior. It’s not for random pens and paper that somehow are not placed back where they should be. Keys have their place as do sunglasses. I am taking back my countertops!!!!!!

Electronic

Friends, how many emails do you get in your inbox a day? How many of them are for things you are no longer interested in? Yup, me too. Time to do a little unsubscribing. For example:

(*) Blogs you are no longer interested in. There are some mom blogs that I used to read back when my daughter was a toddler, you know around the 2 to 3 year age range. Well, these mom blogs no longer interest me and many of them are for families with several children whereas I only have one child, so they are just no longer applicable to my life.

(*) Advertising emails you inadvertently signed up for. I purchased a hat for my husband for Christmas which bears the logo of his favorite football team. Well since then, every day in my inbox are emails from this company letting me know all the glorious sales that they are constantly having. Um, no thanks…

Bathroom

I am going to do a thorough sorting of my medicine cabinet. Expired medicine has no business being there and make-up that is past its prime has got to go as well.

See how easy this is going to be? Three simple things to focus on that anybody can do and it doesn’t require giving up several weekends to do it  🙂

So let’s get started! Who’s with me?

Essentialism: A Book Review

This book my friends…this book gave me all the feels ♥

Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less is an absolutely outstanding book. Absolutely. Outstanding.

I know this book and the brilliance of it, has been floating around in the personal finance and minimalism blogospheres. I personally first heard of it through The Minimalists and they mention this book quite a lot in their podcasts, so I thought I would give it a go and see what all the hype is about. There must have been quite the hype because I had to wait three weeks to be able to check it out at the library as there were already a queue full of eager readers also waiting to get their hands on McKeown’s book.

“Essentialism isn’t about getting more done in less time. It is about getting only the right things done”.

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Basically, we as human beings need to filter out what is not essential in our lives and stop trying to do everything because guess what? We cannot do everything. I repeat. We. Cannot. Do. Everything.

Burnout and running on the hamster wheel, constantly juggling this that and the other. Overwhelmed. No time to do what we would really like to do. Multi-tasking until we collapse in a heap at the end of the day.

Sound familiar?

McKeown espouses that “by forcing us to apply more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less, empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy- instead of giving others implicit permission to choose for us”.

Control our own choices sounds amazing doesn’t it? It may seem like we control what we think or do, but how many times have you made a decision out of guilt? *raises hand slowly*

Guilt is a powerful emotion. We give in and say yes to something we really, really don’t want to do, because we feel guilty. We want to avoid conflict or avoid tension. Maybe we felt timid in saying no. Whether it is to a family member, a colleague, a friend, your child, etc… It can be difficult to discern what we should be saying yes to, and what we should be saying no to as well.

“The very though of saying no literally brings us physical discomfort. We feel guilty. We don’t want to let someone down. We are worried about damaging the relationship. But these emotions muddle our clarity. They distract us from the reality of the fact that either we can say no and regret it for a few minutes, or we can say yes and regret it for days, weeks, months, even years”.

Let that sink in for a minute.

We say no, we regret it for a few minutes. We say yes, and regret for days, weeks, months, or even years.

How many times have you felt like this? The guilt? The relationship with the person that you are thinking about saying no to?

I have been there many times. You see, I am an introvert but I am also a mother. So I feel guilty when there are things that other moms ask me to join or help out with or can I do this one thing, and my first inclination is to say no. But then I feel guilty because I know these moms and our kids are friends, and then…I have suddenly spiraled into feelings of antipathy, guilt, and awkwardness. And many times, I give in and do the thing that is being asked of me even though the introvert in me is wondering why we aren’t at home basking in our aloneness.

And when I do give in, I feel regret. As McKeown states in his book, this is totally normal.

“After the rush comes the pang of regret. They know they will soon feel bullied and resentful-both at the other person and at themselves.”

Yes! I have totally felt that. And then to make the downward spiral even more unappealing, I feel bad for feeling that way, and I just end up a mess.

McKeown says to pause for five seconds before agreeing to something which can “greatly reduce the possibility of making a commitment you’ll regret”.

You want to know something interesting? Soon after I read this book, a friend asked me to work on a project with some other people and it was not something that I felt absolutely comfortable with. I took a moment and paused gracefully, and I said…

No.

I said no, I couldn’t believe it! Me, the guilt-ridden introvert, said no! I was proud of myself and realized later, that what McKeown said was absolutely spot-on: I regretted for a few minutes that I was unable to help said friend with their project, but that feeling soon dissipated and I knew that if I had agreed to said project, I would have truly regretted it in the long run.

I could wax poetic about this book for several more paragraphs but I believe you get the gist of what Essentialism is all about  🙂

Some tidbits to keep you going:

*Cut out the non-essential so you can focus on what is essential.

*Filter out what is important and what is not. Don’t get caught in the cycle of “decision fatigue” (the more choices we are forced to make, the more the quality of our decisions deteriorates).

*The real question is not how can we do it all, it is who will get to choose what we do and don’t do. When we forfeit our right to choose, someone will choose for us.

Have you read Essentialism? What did you think of it?

Make Room For Things That Matter

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“Make room for things that matter by removing everything that doesn’t”. -Brian Gardner

As I have mentioned previously, my word for 2017 is Well. Wellness applies not only to the physical and emotional but also to the mental. So in addition to eating right, working out, and my introduction to meditation, I am also working on sorting out what I need and want in my life and what I don’t.

This fantastic quote from Brian Gardner really resonated with me because I feel that minimizing or getting rid of completely what has no business being a part of my life, has been in a word… refreshing.

Doing things or being a part of things that are not good for my soul are just not going to cut it anymore. Lighter and freer are two beautiful adjectives that I feel are working their way into my heart. Although I continue to work on what makes me happy, that work… it’s a good thing.

Make room for things that matter by removing everything that doesn’t.

Here is how I am applying this to my life:

♦ I make time to work out in the mornings. This is important not only for my physical health but my mental health as well. Studies point to exercise helping with forms of depression and anxiety.

♦ I eat what makes me feel good. I have a gluten intolerance and when I inadvertently eat it, I pay for it big time. I drink my green juices, try to eat as many vegetables as I can, and I recently started drinking kombucha which has probiotics which is good for my gut.

♦ I have started meditating. You can read more about that here.

♦ I have minimized my wardrobe. I have found that there are only a few colors that I really enjoy wearing and it is much easier to get dressed and mix and match items. My daily attire usually consists of a t-shirt and jeans or pants, and a cardigan. Some days, I am wearing Converse. Other days it’s boots. When it warms up, shorts and flip-flops will be added back in. This is what I wear literally every day. There is truly something to be said for not owning a ton of clothing that needs to be sorted through every morning. Whew!  🙂

♦ I watch less television. I do enjoy my favorite shows like Sherlock, Elementary, old episodes of Murder She Wrote, Victoria on PBS, and sports games like football and hockey. Luckily they don’t all come on at the same time! However, the endless scrolling through a zillion channels trying to find something to watch? No, I do not do that anymore. If I am watching television, it is for a specific show like Jeopardy. My daughter and I watch this every night without fail  🙂 I read more books now (if that is indeed possible) or read blogs about health, wellness, and/or minimalism. So the television is still here. It is just not a supreme focus.

♦ I have cut out the negativity. Whether that is in the form of people (energy vampires), certain people online, certain blogs, or certain time-wasting endeavors, I have let it go. I want more of the good and less of the bad. If I feel like something is not adding value to how I live my life, I eliminate it from my every day.

♦ I am continuing to de-clutter. I live in a very small apartment and if one is not careful, it can feel like the walls are closing in. I make an effort to really examine items and ask if they truly have a purpose in our modest abode.

♦ I am making the present moment more important. We all get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae and it is easy to keep our face focused on what lies ahead. But I am working on being more mindful of my surroundings and noticing all the little things that may have escaped my vision before. The deep green on the leaves of a tree. The beauty of a 72 degree day in February. The first sip of coffee on a really cold morning. You get the picture. The present is important and it is up to us to be intentional with it.

Are you making room for what truly matters in your life? Let me know in the comments!  🙂

When The Floodgates Have To Break

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Stuck.

Trapped.

Where to go.

What to do.

The floodgates are about to burst.

What are you going to do?

Stand there and let the waves of immobility wash over you?

Plant your feet firmly in the ground only to notice that you are actually sinking in sand?

What are you going to do?

Change direction.

Change your path.

Change your life.

The floodgates are breaking.

The word is now.

The time is here.

A step forward will change your life.

The floodgates are broken.

What will you do?

January in the Rearview

Oh January… you have been a head-scratcher for sure. Let’s dive in, shall we?

What I enjoyed this month: Sherlock coming back on my television. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Because I have cut back on how much of the glowing screen I actually watch, it was a real treat to watch Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock on my screen  😉

What I am absolutely over: Any bloody news story having to do with the current person who is occupying the White House. I can’t. I seriously can’t. This blog is not a political blog by any stretch of the imagination and I am not about to start down that slippery slope. However, I am deeply disturbed by what is going on in our country and it breaks my heart. Whatever side of the aisle you are on, we are all human beings with a genuine interest in the lives of our countrymen and this divide…it’s more than I can take.

Apparently this sign I saw at a store, tells us what we should be doing:

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On the healthy living front: Mama has been exercising! And meditating! And drinking green juices! Okay, I’ll stop with exclamation points  🙂 But I truly am happy that January was good for me health-wise. I feel better and I have to say meditating has helped me TREMENDOUSLY. Seriously. I am now at the point where if it is the evening and I have not meditated yet that day, I get cranky. Ask my husband, he’ll tell you. Love you honey!

On the decluttering and minimalism front: I sorted out all of my books and went through them and asked myself honest questions about whether the book was actually important to me and would I really and truly read said book again.

Well here is the pile of books that I gave to my husband to sell on eBay:

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Can I just tell you something about this picture? I gave these books to my husband sometime in the first week of this month and I couldn’t tell you for the life of me, what the titles of these books are. Really. Now don’t get me wrong, I loooooove to read. Reading = breathing. #bookwormsunite But having books on my shelves that I know that I am not going to read doesn’t make much sense either. Now someone new will love and cherish these books and give them a proper home  🙂

How was your January? Are you keeping calm and eating cupcakes?  🙂

The Joy of Less: A Book Review

Less, less, less. 2017 is all about less. Less clutter, less nonsense, less of what no longer serves a purpose.

The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify by Francine Jay was a book that I was super excited to delve into because I had heard quite a bit about her in the minimalist circles and her book lived up to the hype!  🙂

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Can we just pause and give thanks for libraries? Because seriously, without them I would be lost! ♥

So back to the book… the author Francine Jay runs the popular website missminimalist.com and her book is chock full of awesome tidbits. I really love how she opens the book with the term “philosophy”. We have to change our mindset and change our relationship with stuff in order for this whole minimalism thing and life without excess to work. Our stuff exists to serve us, not the other way around.

“A container is most valuable when it is empty. We can’t enjoy fresh coffee when old grounds are in our cup and we can’t showcase our garden’s blooms when wilted flowers fill the vase. Similarly, when our homes -the containers of our daily lives- are overflowing with clutter, our souls take a backseat to our stuff”. – Francine Jay

Ms. Jay had an interesting passage in the book about “aspirational stuff”. Basically these are items that we bought to impress others or indulge in our “fantasy selves”. You know, the one who is 20 pounds thinner, the one who has fabulous cocktail parties, the one who, well…you get it. Human beings have a tendency to acquire many of their possessions in order to project a certain image. Clothes, cars, etc… Ready for some minimalistic truth?

Products will never make us into something we are not.

High-five, Ms. Jay. High-five.

Less stuff equals less stress and I completely agree. In the book, it is pointed out that:

  • We stress about not having stuff.
  • We stress about how to acquire the thing we want.
  • We buy the thing and now have to be responsible for it and take care of it.
  • Then the item inevitably breaks and now we are stressed about our broken item and now… THE WHOLE PROCESS STARTS ALL OVER AGAIN.

Ugh, what a cycle!

Less stuff equals more freedom. Things can be anchors and tie us down. They keep us from exploring new interests and developing new talents. They can drain our energy and sense of adventure.

“Too much clutter can weigh on our spirits. It is like all those items have their own gravitational field and are constantly pulling us down and holding us back. We can literally feel heavy and lethargic in a cluttered room, too tired and lazy to get up and accomplish anything”. – Francine Jay

We want to be able to actually enjoy and live our life, right? Living simply, buying only what we truly need, and learn the joy of having enough.

Other brilliant tidbits:

  • Life is the space between our things.
  • We need space for our ideas and thoughts- a cluttered room usually leads to a cluttered mind.
  • By creating space in our homes, we put the focus back where it should be: on what we do, rather than what we own.
  • When we clear our homes of all the excess stuff, we can devote our space, time, and energy to the people we love.

Friends, I really loved this book and I recommend it to anyone looking to start their minimalist/decluttering journey and I also recommend it to those of you already well on your way in your simplifying journey. My point is, this book is for EVERYONE!  🙂

“When we become minimalists, we strip away all the excess to uncover our true selves. We take the time to contemplate who we are, what we find important, and what truly makes us happy”. – Francine Jay

What truly makes us happy…that sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  🙂

Diving Headfirst Into Meditation

Or an alternate title would be: What I have learned after meditating for 10 days straight  🙂

I am not going to say I am some sort of Zen maven now, or that absolutely nothing bothers me, or that I can calm my mind down without even giving it a second thought. Those would be untrue statements and it is nonsense to think that someone can be some sort of mindfulness expert after a mere 10 days.

Meditation is not easy. In fact, there are days when your mind does not want to do what you would like it to do.

But that’s okay because that is what meditating helps you do: notice your thoughts.

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I’d been thinking about meditation as a practice and I kept meaning to get around to actually planting my bottom on a pillow and just doing the darn thing already. It finally got to a point where I just needed to push myself to do it. That push for me to jump in the meditation swimming pool came in the form of Dan Harris’ book 10% Happier. While the book and subject matter are not for everyone, I enjoyed what Harris had to say. Harris is an ABC newscaster who had a panic attack on national television which as you can imagine, was quite devastating for him. He then went on a journey, often hilariously, of finding a way to help him “combat the voice in his head” and found his way to meditation which to this day, he still espouses the virtues of.

Now I am not a newscaster, nor do I have a hankering to be on television, but I do suffer from bouts of anxiety and Harris’ book was the nudge that I needed to start my meditation journey.

“We spend a lot of time judging ourselves harshly for feelings that we had no role in summoning. The only thing you can control is how you handle it” – Dan Harris

Eye-opening, right?

So, I downloaded the app Calm onto my phone which offers free meditations for you to utilize. They also have ones that are more in depth that you can access, but those come with a fee. I utilize the free ones. And as a side note, I have absolutely no affiliation with Calm. It just happens to be the app that I downloaded  🙂

So ten days ago, I did my first 10 minute meditation. My mind wandered as it is want to do, but the point is, I recognized it, and tried to bring it back to the present. I focused on my breathing. I listened to the lady with the soothing voice tell me to let go and notice the inhale and the exhale.

And I continued for the next several days after that, trying to do my meditation around the same time every day because I am a creature of habit. #babyiwasbornthisway

So what have I learned so far?

♦ The weekends are hard for me to do meditation. This past Saturday, my cat jumped on my lap while I was sitting meditating and completely threw me off my game. Then at another point, my daughter interrupted my session to ask me a question about Scooby-Doo. No joke  🙂 I realized it really is easier to meditate when she is at school and the cat is napping, preferably not where he can see my lap and jump on it.

♦ As I stated earlier, I am not in a zone where nothing bothers me (I wish I was though!) But I can say that when I feel a particular emotion bubble up, if I am able to, I notice the thought and ask myself “Is this helpful?” If the thought is not helpful, I try to change my thinking. I am still a novice at this whole mindfulness thing, for reals, but that one phrase “Is this helpful?” has helped me sooooo much. Try it for yourself when a thought that is trying to burrow itself into your brain that you know has no reason being there.

♦ I have realized that I look forward to my meditation sessions. If I can only do 5 minutes, that’s okay. 10 minutes a day is what I aim for and I have hit that goal consistently.

♦ I have noticed that I am much calmer after meditating. Like I said, I am no Zen maven. But I really do feel better after a 10 minute session.

So, bottom line is that I am going to keep going with this whole meditating thing. Now if I could just get my cat to understand that when mommy is sitting on her pillow, now is not the time for kitty snuggles. But when I am done? It’s totally kitty snuggle time!  🙂