Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day 2: An Animal

Day 2: What's your favorite animal? Use it as your inspiration today...

I've always hated the favorite animal question. As an avid animal lover, I don't want to pick just one. I've been through phases where I thought I was strictly a cat person, then strictly a dog person, and now I'm back to a cat person, but like some dogs (as long as I am not responsible for them). I think owls are possibly the cutest animals, and I'd love to have one some day, but my dream animal to own (one that I don't think would be as likely as my having a cat) would be a horse. So so far, I'm up to dog, cat, owl, and horse. Not to mention how great I think half the other creatures belonging to the animal kingdom are. But, for the purpose of this post, I am going to choose the cat, very specifically, my favorite is Ellie, though I may be biased.

I am also choosing our feline friend because I just read a wonderful book called Cleo, which can be found here if you like my review so much that you just have to read it (look at that I made another working link! And, once again all links open in a new tab so you don't have to interrupt the reading of my super exciting writing.)
I have to admit that I've always had a soft spot for animal biographies, and this book had pretty much everything I could ask for of a book. It had a strong story line with well developed characters (so you actually give a shit what happens to them), quotes at the beginning of each chapter (yes, this is a selling point for me), a love story with a strong female character (we're talking superhero strong), and very few editing mistakes.
Without giving too much away, this is a story of a woman and her family who face unimaginable tragedy and a cat who saves them all. Cleo (star of the book and the title's namesake) shows up in the wake of devastation and stays with her family (or her slaves depending on how she's feeling that day) until she feels they are healed enough for her to move on. She moves cities and later continents with her family, watches over a total of 3 children, though she has a special bond with just one, and helps Helen (the author) interview for all important roles in her life. She teaches the family how to take each day at a time and how to live again, even better than before. Helen writes about the ways that Cleo specifically helped her heal emotionally, but also touches on the scientific benefits of a cat as a healer. Maybe I could have read a science book about this so that I could see references and studies that prove this idea, but it was much more touching, and even more believable to read first hand experience of how one cat helped one family. She also discusses a cat's philosophy on how to deal with life, which teaches some valuable lessons about how to live life to the fullest.
The front of this book has a quote saying "The next Marley and Me," but honestly, I've read that one too and this one was far better. Don't get me wrong, I loved the dog book, too, but Cleo is one of those books that, if allowed, will literally touch your heart in a way that only a story of heartache and healing can, and teach you along the way.
So I said that it taught me important lessons. I was reminded that my cat is not the only one who seems to be out of her mind sometimes, running around and tearing up anything she is capable of in the process. I learned that a cat's purr reduces stress. Seriously, try holding a {loving, purring} cat for a few minutes the next time you're worried about the bills or homework or whatever you're worried about (trust me, Helen's problems were very likely at least as serious). I practiced this for the past week or so since I've been reading the book, and I have to admit that it honestly calms my nerves better than anything else I have tried. And, of course, since it's a memoir, that does mean that it has an ending similar to Marley and Me, I'm not giving anything away. But it made me hold Ellie a little closer and just hope upon hope that I'll have her around for the next 23  years. There's no animal, that I've found, that has such personality like a cat. As the book states, it's for any cat lover, and those who say they're not, but deep down know they love cats, too. Have a box of tissues ready, but be ready to learn, to laugh, and to either want to hold your own cat close or start hoping one finds its way to you.
Next up on my animal biographies are going to be Wesley, the Owl and Dewey.

Have a super, fantastic, great day!

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