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The "Wu Word" Blog

February 2017


“I want to take him home with me,” he confessed to me. 
One of the fellow volunteers was sitting cross-legged on a mat full of felines lounging lazily or pawing playfully at toys.  Only one sole cat was curled up in a ball in the volunteer’s lap.  He was a black and white swirled cat that resembled an oreo cookie or yodel sweet dessert.  His eyes were half-closed as he soaked up all the love that he could in that lap that he saw as a cushioned bed.  His name was Jay. 
“So, why don’t you?” I asked staring lovingly at Jay.  I had been a recipient of Jay’s lap loving ways that made you feel so in the moment and so loved that you forgot any and all cares and troubles.       
He paused, “Because he’s old.”
It has been a month since I’ve been volunteering at the animal shelter.  Out of all the cats that I have come to love and care for, Jay was at the top of the list.  However, everyone has told me not to foster or adopt Jay because he is old.   They say to me, “He’s old.  You’re going to have lots of costly medical bills,” or “That’s very admirable, but he will break your heart when he dies sooner than all the other cats.  You should get a kitten—you will have more time with them.”  And, I think to myself when I hear these words, “Geez, how freely these people say these words about a cat…but how would anyone feel to be called and considered old and useless?  How do people feel to be unwanted and rejected as though the world to turned its back on you?” 
In this past month, I’ve seen how cat lovers are drawn and prefer the young kittens with their wide and innocent eyes and playful and outgoing demeanors.  Me?  I am drawn to the adult cats and particularly the ones that are hidden in corners, high up where you can’t find them, or the ones sullen and silent making me wonder how they wound up in the animal shelter.    
I said to the animal shelter staff, “I don’t understand how Jay hasn’t been adopted yet.  He is the only affectionate cat that crawls in your lap.   He is so laidback and loving.   I understand he is old, but what if the quality of time is more treasured and worth more than anything you could have experienced in comparison to a long quantity span of time that held no meaning?  Isn’t that worth it then?” 
“I understand what you are saying, Mary.  I agree with you on everything you said here.  But, that’s not the reality of the situation.  The reality is that he is old and while people say they want to adopt him, they won’t out of fear of having a short amount of time with him or all the hefty medical bills involved.”
One of my fellow feline loving friends said to me, “If you take Jay, you have to be aware that your time with him will be more limited than if you take a younger cat.”
My response, “I learned long ago about the limits of time with any living thing.  Nothing and no one lasts forever.” 
One of my friends had been rooting for me to adopt Jay.  My Father surprised me, too, when he said that I should take on Jay.  I told them about my intent to foster Jay down the line, “I know how Jay feels when the world and people just focus on your negatives and reject you making it that your best isn’t good enough or you will never be better.  I get the feeling when you are unwanted, taken for granted, and eventually discarded or always considered a second best rather than first prize winner.  I think we can learn a lot from Jay…he is generally relaxed and chilled, gives love without any prerequisites, eats and exercises enough, sleeps a lot, and goes with the ebbs and flows of life and takes people as they come and especially go in his life.  If I can give him a home for even a short amount of quantity time so he won’t grow old and alone in the shelter and be loved for him just being him then it will be worth all the quality that life and living can bring to him.”    
None of us are perfect and all of us have experienced being ‘unwanted’ at some point in our lives for our weaknesses, our realities, and our ‘stuff.’   We all need support and for others to try to believe in us and see the best in us when life knocks us down.  How challenging it is for us to believe in ourselves and be the best version of ourselves when others cannot or will not.  It simply sucks when people are always rejecting you or pointing out and focusing on your negatives rather than your positives.
Do you think that focusing on the negatives can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of become these negatives and feeling like you can never do better or that you best is just not good enough?  When have people knocked you down, rejected you, and did not believe in you that you started believed in the worst of yourself rather than the best version of yourself?  When have you felt ‘unwanted’? 
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,
Mary ;-)



One of my biggest loves is swimming.  This was not an immediate love, but a love that grew out of fear.  Fear is from the unknown and not in our control.  Love grows with learning and living. 
Throughout my late bloomer swim career, I’ve gone through many swimsuits that have stretched and sagged from chlorine and goggles that have fogged up and cracked.  One item that I had for as long as I could remember when learning and loving swimming was my pastel pink swim robe that had squares of blue and yellow on the front.  I do not remember where I got this robe.  I just knew that I had it from the beginning of my newfound fear-turned-to-love affair with swimming.  It was a sort of ‘security blanket’ for me that was always in my swim bag.  I wrapped myself in it in warmth after the blast of frigid air hit me from a rejuvenated swim.
As I grew up and minimally taller, I failed to see that the robe was falling apart.  The colors were disappearing.  The fabric was fading.  The pockets were coming undone.  It was even starting to get a bit rough after being washed so many times.  Someone once saw me folding the tattered and pitiful old thing after it came out of the wash, and asked me: “Why do you keep that thing?  It is so old and worn out.  You’ve outgrown it.” 
I clutched the fabric to my cheek to inhale the earthy and fresh laundry scent.  Memories of all my happy aquatic times came back to me from when I was 10-years-old first learning to swim after fears that came from two drowning episodes.  Never in a million years would I think that a fear of swimming would turn into the ultimate love and therapy for me. 
I remember looking at the sad swim robe.  A wave of melancholy hit me because I knew this person was right that I had, indeed, outgrown the robe and I eventually had to part ways with it.  So, why was it so hard for me to let go of something that I had clearly outgrown?  That was truly a part of my childhood and not a part of my adulthood?   With great difficulty and attachment issues, I eventually and despondently threw away this robe that had always comforted me and made me feel like a champion on the pool deck.  Since then, I have never found a swim robe as good, sturdy, colorful, and simply me to wrap me in warmth after a great gift of a swim session. 
There comes a time we need to live by ‘out with the old and in with the new,’ but the burning questions become when is that time?  We all eventually outgrow certain parts of our past that were soothing and must let go of them to make way for our futures.  While we embrace and love being ‘creatures of habits,’ being stagnant and same is impossible and suppressing for us in the long-term and in the big picture of ourselves and of so much that life is and offers to us.  As my father says, we all eventually lead and live our own lives and our circle becomes increasingly smaller as we become older.  Whether we reach a point where we have no choice or we are faced with difficult crossroads choices, it is inevitable that we eventually must leave the parts of us (whether it is things or people) that hold us back and prevent us from propelling forward and helping us into new.   Never put your life on hold for anyone or anything that holds you back
We eventually outgrow certain people and things from our past in order to make way and go forward with our futures.  Have you ever had a ‘security blanket’?   What was it and when and how did you let go of it?  When have you had to bid farewell to something that represented your youth to adulthood?  Who or what have you put yourself and your life on hold for? Do you feel like you are in the same place as you have always been and are unable to let go of the past for your future? 
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,
Mary ;-)


A Room Full of Lonely

The disco ball was spinning again.  I was starting to feel sick.
I was in my mid-20’s.  I was just starting to work in the blinking and bright lights world of New York City.  It was the first time I discovered and learned about Happy Hours and other drinks besides ‘The Shirley Temple’ I loved and always ordered.
My body sank into a cushioned seat to watch the scenes unfold and play out before me.  Hands up in the air.  Drinks in hands.  Dancing freely without inhibitions.  Screaming words over deep conversations.  Everyone looked like they were having fun.  Yet, no one seemed really connected to one another. In an overly crowded room with bodies melting into one another and names and cares forgotten, I thought in the midst of my muddled mind from the overwhelming amount of people and not any alcoholic beverage because I never really needed that to give me a boost in the joy of life (I am already naturally high on life):  “Such a room full of lonely.” 
My red-haired colleague friend who dragged me to this club scene saw me glazed over.  He must have thought it was from alcohol rather than this revelation because he asked: “Are you OK?  Are you drunk?”
I suddenly felt very sad and small and lonely and lonesome in such a packed room than I ever did when I was physically alone, and said, “No, I just want to go home.”
He huffed and said, “What’s wrong with you?  You are in your 20’s and need to live it up and party a more instead of working all the time!”
I stood up and straightened myself to try to make myself as tall as possible (this was actually an impossible feat).  “Nothing is wrong with me.  This just isn’t my scene.  I’m heading home.”
That was the last time I went to a club.  It was also the first time I realized how people think if they are in a room full of people that they will feel connected, understood, and fill a void of loneliness and alone-ness that is perceived as weak and weird.  There is a judgment and stigmatism that for those who are alone must be lonely.   The club was just one extreme place of a room full of lonely.  However, there are plenty more rooms full of lonely from as basic as a Starbucks or the million other coffee shops and bars where the individual sits alone ‘connected’ to their technological device and attempts to ‘connect’ with humans only to feel more disconnected and out of place than ever before.  

There are some people who always need to be with people—in one ‘relationship’ after another, one person after another as though people are not people with feelings and are just expendable objects, and just simply cannot be alone to fill a ‘void’ or due to the lack of awareness to fill societal and majority expectations or love deprivation as the ultimate root.  There is me—I like being alone, need my alone time, and, most of all, conclude that ‘alone’ does not mean ‘lonely’ or ‘lonesome’ just as a room full of the quantity of people is not equivalent to and does not compensate for the quality and meaning of time spent by yourself or with a certain person(s).  How can we expect happiness to come from another when we cannot be happy, love, value, or respect ourselves?  Can you be alone?  Do you need your alone time?  Or, do you always need to be with someone? Do you actually prefer to be alone?  Have you somewhat achieved a balance of alone time and people time? 
Alone does not necessarily mean lonely, lonesome, or loneliness.  I have actually felt the loneliest in company that does not possess the truest and deepest companionship of a meaningful person and relationship.  Have you ever been in a crowded room and never felt so alone, disconnected, and un-belonging?  Do you prefer big groups or individual encounters with people?  Maybe it depends on who is in the group dynamics?  Are you ever alone and do not feel lonely?  Isn’t it intriguing how we will be in a room of so many people that is full of loneliness as opposed to a room where we are all alone yet not feel lonely in the slightest?  What is this ‘void’ that we all have and why do we try to fill it? 
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,
Mary ;-)


Conversations with Happy

As a child of about 6 or 7-years-old, I sat outside on the porch to have conversations with Happy.
Happy was a cat.  She had almond-shaped bright green eyes with golden fleck and a fluffy golden beige coat with a white tummy.  I cannot recall if she was ‘our’ cat, but I certainly felt like she was ‘my’ cat when she hobbled over me to stick her tiny pink tongue to lick my hands when I fed her American cheese.    Happy had a special place in my heart because she had physical limitations just like me.  Her right hind leg was shorter than all her other legs and so limped when she walked.  Yet, she was the happiest kitty cat that let me stroke her soft fur, give her a neck nuzzle, and let my fingers traipse on her rounded and roly poly body. 
Happy was lovable and listened very well.  After my first kidney transplant and before my parents divorced, I remember Conversations with Happy where she would crawl into my lap and let me pet her and talk to her about anything and everything.  Then, she would look up at me with her understanding green eyes and stick her tongue out to gently lick my fingers as if to say, “Hey, it’s ok, I’m here for you.”    I would bury my face in her fur and say, “I love you, Happy.” 
I do not remember what happened to Happy, but I remember over the years that I had aquatic pets after Happy.  I had a pet turtle that brought me peace of mind as it swam serenely in the water and would march slowly and steadily when out of the water.  I had two goldfish in my time: Bubbles and Hugo.  Bubbles death was very traumatic to me as he was burying himself under the pebbles before he died on Christmas day.  I was in tears when I sputtered to my Dad, “Bubbles is dead.”  My longest lasting and most memorable fish for a whopping almost three years was a beta fighting fish by the name of Sushi.  He had fancy and flared red and blue fins, and he moved in with me in its portable blue covered tank into my very first apartment.  When all my fish died, people said to me: “Why are you so upset?  They are only fish.”   Needless to say, words hurt and my response is: “Every life –human, animal, plant, etc.,--is precious and serves a purpose.”
Now, I am volunteering at an animal rescue shelter in the cat care program where I socialize and play with the kitty cats.  This idea came to me in a dream and after a conversation with my transplant nephrologist who said to me that I could have a pet cat, but just had to be extra careful by wearing gloves and a mask when cleaning kitty litter due to me being immunosuppressed.  These cats’ stories are all too familiar that I feel fully and I am sure that all of us can relate to in human form: abandoned and anti-social, anxious and misunderstood, depressed and withdrawn, unloved and love deprived, and unadoptable or disregarded due to old age or health issues. To me, it was a win=win situation for me to familiarize myself with the cat world as well as for them to have human contact and some extra and needed loving.   Don’t we all need some loving anyhow? 
In all my minimal experiences with pets from a cat named Happy to a fish named Sushi and now at the animal shelter, I see and understand why humans love animals because animals are genuinely happy with the littlest things: food, water, some play time, a roof over their head, and a place to go to the bathroom.  I see and understand how humans can have conversations with animals that are essentially “Conversations with Happy.”  You give them a little bit of loving and just the basics of life and they give you unconditional love.  How often do we experience unconditional love?  Or, love without any expectations and only hopes? 
Animals and pets bring us therapy, joy, happiness, and peace during the most troubling and challenging of times.  Their unconditional love and enthusiasm for the simplest as basic as food, water, and a pet on the head or a neck nuzzle bring us a smile, a chuckle, and loud laugh.  Have you ever had a pet and who/what was your first pet?  Do you not like pets and why?  When have you had ‘conversations with Happy’ and have you ever experienced that unconditional love?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,

Mary ;-) 
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