All my cats have ever known is love. 

That’s my explanation for every endearing thing they do.  Day in and night out, they are cuddly creatures.  They lazily follow me and any guest in my home from room to room and patiently wait until everyone is settled to plop down right beside the “hoo-mans”.

“They wanna be where the people are,” is my quick response anytime someone new laughs at how my two girls compromise the stereotypical independent, solitude-inclined, picture of “how cats behave.”

A former roommate and I rescued them from the animal shelter when they were just kittens. After arriving at the shelter, we knew immediately we wanted Bing; however, Darce was standoffish and didn’t seem to like us too much in the beginning.  However, after placing Bingley back in her cage, decidedly confident in our decision that she was the one, Bing immediately rushed to Darcy and kissed her on the nose. Our hearts melted and our minds were made up. 

There was no way in hell we could separate the two after seeing such a display of sisterly love! 

From there, all my cats have ever known is love.  Countless hours have been spent on the couch together, cozied up underneath a heated blanket, with Netflix shows playing in the background as they purred, content in their space. 

And, when something has only ever known love…. The only way they know how to behave is lovingly.  

A side of the face pressed against someone’s leg anytime they pass by, “making biscuits” (i.e, kneading) on bellies of guests that are lounging around with me, slow blinks to their Mama anytime there is a shared glance… the list goes on and on.  My girls are five years old now and never have they ever scratched, bit (other than play nips), or hissed at myself or any guest that I have had over. 

When something has only ever known love, the only way they know how to behave is lovingly. 

This was the thought I had today when doing some house chores.  I had finished vacuuming my room, and marveled at how sweetly Bing and Darce were lying next to one another on my bed.  Upping the ante for them a bit, I turned on the heated blanket they were cuddled atop of and relished in the “slow blink” (cat language for “I love you”) that I received from both of them.  Turning to walk out the room and finish the chores, I was hit with an alarmingly simple, radically obvious, and completely foreign idea: what would happen if I only ever showed myself love? The same way I did towards the cats?

How would my behavior change?

How would my life change?

What would be possible there?

Could my version of “making biscuits” be repeated words of affirmation towards myself? How about embodying the philosophy of cheek nestled to the human leg by smiling at my reflection, rather receiving it with a furrowed brow? Sweet meows in the morning symbolized by trusting myself?

The love that I’ve shown towards them has been pure, unconditional, easy love.  It was natural. And I never had to fake it. 

The love I’ve shown myself in the past, though… well, it wasn’t that. 

It’s been twisted, hinged upon my own assessment of productivity; love that has been hard at times, and insincere at others. 

When something has only ever known love, the only way they know how to behave is lovingly. 

Now, I know that is not entirely possible for people.  As a normal human, I’ve known a lot of unlovable experiences.  The cats aren’t contending with the world that we, friend, interact with.  Their world has consisted of one tiny apartment at the base of North Carolina mountains and another, slightly bigger, home in a very similar location.  The world they know has been completely designed by me, so there is a variable of control that is unreasonable to expect I could give for myself.

However, the common thread between these two spheres is myself

Is it possible to pour that same love into “me” the way I have into the cats? Purely, unconditionally, naturally, and with ease? 

As I sit typing this, Bing is perched to my right hand side.  We are watching the sunset over the screened-in porch and she is content in sharing her attention with her sister.  Darcy is finding new hiding spots underneath the outside seating.  Occasionally, they’ll interrupt my typing hand and expect a behind the ear scratch. Pleased with my (fairly) quick response, they go on to a new seat.  And I continue typing words on a screen.

Could it be, that’s the answer?

There are often times that my body will require my attention. Whether it be a headache, a tired yawn, or a shaky breath, there’s a signal- much like the cats’ quick desire for a pet.  What if, instead of ignoring the signal, I listened to it? Rubbing temples, sleeping for a full eight hours, slowing down just for a moment… essentially, just responding with love.  Pausing for a moment from the daily to-do’s to honor my own body’s need for a reminder of the love I can pour into it.  And then, I simply go on.  

Tell me, friends.  Do you live your life like this? Showing yourself, your body, only love? Not only when it is convenient, but when it (seems) to be inconvenient too?  Would you like to try? 

I would.  

When something has only ever known love, the only way they know how to behave is lovingly. 

What is one way you can pour love into yourself today?  How can you shape your world so that the filter you view it through is colored with love and appreciation towards self.  Can you try on your rose-colored glasses, not as a false bravado, but in a way that reflects your own ability to love yourself?  Why would it be important today, in this moment, to honor your body as it signals what it needs? Dare you radically love yourself to the point that you respond when you need… you? Share your experience below.

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