In Remembrance of a Tree

Ages have I stood towering over this small hilltop gazing upon the ever changing scenery. Long before the first humans settled here did I first stretch my roots through the rich soil. I stood proud through the summers, my green leafy branches outstretched toward the midday sun. Through each fall did I shed my leaves upon this ground into a fresh patchwork blanket of reds and oranges, yellows and browns. My barren branches reached into the grey heavens of winter, carrying the burden of pounds of freshly fallen snow. Yet every spring was I reborn anew with buds of green and beautiful flowers that only emerge but once a year.

Long did I watch as the landscape changed around me. I saw the first people settle next to where I had laid root and under my shade did they blossom through the years. I watched as many different families came and went. I saw children mature into adults, and adults mature into the elderly. With a heavy heart, I also watched as each generation laid to rest the last.

Most recently and perhaps the longest of my residents; did I watch over the Clark family. I saw and bore shade for many years to these humans. I watched as they cared for the animals and loved one another. I was ever present as the young Clark boys blossomed into young Clark men. I watched the father toil away at the landscape in an attempt to make a better home for his children. I saw the young Clark mother bloom into a wondrous matron.

I came to know these small beings as my family, and through the years I observed their lives. I saw them come and go many times, but always they returned to call this land home once more. I lived through the years vicariously through the experiences of the ones for whom I’d grown to care. I experienced love, and heartache, loss and gain, happiness and sorrow. It is my one regret that I had to be the ever present watcher and never could I comfort my family any more than providing shade on hot summer day.

Today was the last day of my life. The day was normal, and I was standing tall. Proudly was I preparing to bud again this year. Sadly, after so many long years of standing above this hillside, my roots had become weak and weathered. With a might gust of the great North Wind, I fell with a mighty CRACK to the ground below. Though my life may be over, through my wood shall I warm my family in the cool of winter and provide the warmth of love that I had only wished I could bestow in life.

-In remembrance of a tree

 

Supergirl Super Sucks

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a… dud? Last year when CBS announced that it would begin airing a television show based on the girl of steel, I was ecstatic! I love female superheroes. Then, over the summer, the pilot episode leaked online and I scoured the darkest reaches of the internet to find it. I never expect too much from a pilot episode, because it takes time to become emotionally invested in characters and plotlines.

However, over the course of the premier episode, I began to grow less and less excited. I found the show to be cheesy, boring and with the exception of the main cast, the acting was terrible. By the time that fall arrived, I was more than ready to give the show another chance. I watched the first and second episodes when they aired on TV and still couldn’t get over the disappointment. So with sadness I left the show and hoped that it would find its footing over the course of the season and I would tune in at a later date to check it out again.

Then a couple of weeks ago, CBS announced that Supergirl would be crossing over with CW’s The Flash. To say that I was excited was an understatement, as not only do I love The Flash, but I also love the idea of a shared TV universe for these superheroes. So, Monday night I tuned in once more to give the budding new show a chance.

The episode started off with an introduction to a new villain, but I really didn’t care about the character because the actress was terrible. Over the course of the episode the scarlet speedster and the girl of steel are pitted against two foes. During the final standoff, the villains defeat both Supergirl and The Flash. In a cheesy anticlimactic turn of events the citizens begin to stand up to the villainesses. I’m sure this scene was meant to be an inspiring moment, but what we’re treated to instead was the cheesiest scene I’ve ever watched on television. The acting and delivery of the script was so terrible that it almost literally hurt to watch.

Finally, the two bad girls are taken down by a little squirt with the fire hose. REALLY? These two women take out two super powered heroes and then are taken down by a little water? Not only do I not buy this, I also think it was just a waste of time and only proved that Supergirl is too weak to stand up on her own. After this, we’re treated to a race between the two heroes that ends with Barry getting sent home.

Now, what could the show do better if it hopes to make it past this season? The writers need to take a different approach to the characters. Look at Marvel’s Jessica Jones as an example of how to deliver a female superhero show. Show how strong and capable Supergirl can be, show more emotion and dig deeper into your characters. The characters on the show now are too flat with no storyline to grow into.

Next, and this goes for the entire DC comics universe, start connecting your universes. If Marvel can connect every single franchise they own into one shared collective universe, then so can you. Instead, we’re given Gotham and Supergirl as having their own separate universe (the crossover between the Arrowverse and Supergirl explained that the two stories unfold in different dimensions. So in essence, it doesn’t count as a connection.) To top that off, DC is setting up a shared movie universe that has nothing to do with the characters on TV.

Look to Marvel as the example of how to handle your franchises DC. I could really get behind a shared united DC universe, but until then I will probably ignore anything that’s not on the CW right now. I would be willing to watch Supergirl if they connected it better with the other shows and made a few changes before the next season, but for now, it’s just a poorly executed, cheesy, stereotypical mess.

Creative Imagery

Imagine yourself running down an endless hallway with rows upon rows of doors. Now, imagine that your only source of light in this hallways is the dim glow that resonates from the cracks at the bottom of those doors. You try the first door you see, grasping the knob with both hands, you cry out in pain as the locked doorknob singes the tender flesh of your palms. After nursing your burnt hand, you try the next door, which yields similar results.

As you run through the halls repeating your fruitless efforts to open one of these infernal doors the floor behind you begins to disappear. Terror fills your very soul as you run quickly ahead to avoid the crumbling ground. For hours you sprint down the never ending hall, fruitlessly turning each door’s locked handle, burning your hands and repeating the process all while avoiding the falling floor.

After such a long and tireless effort to escape, the hall ahead begins to warp. You become disoriented as you try door after locked door. Suddenly, shrill shrieks of desperation and anguish can be heard from below. The longer you run down this evil hall, the worse things seem to become. The cries below you, you begin to realize, are the cries of those who became trapped in this ceaseless corridor, only to have failed and fallen into obscurity below.

The voices of these lost souls become clearer and clearer the more you run. You begin to hear them telling you that it’s useless to keep going. They say that there is no use in resisting the inevitable abyss that eventually devours us all. You begin to feel weak and tired; your thoughts begin to wonder if the ghosts below are right. You ponder giving up and falling into the void below.

Then suddenly in the distant reaches of the back of your mind comes a tiny barely audible voice. Every time the miniscule voice begins to speak, the spirits below scream louder to obscure it. Slowly, you begin to understand what the small voice is trying to tell you. It’s pleading with you not to give up; to keep running. The voice becomes louder and more discernable above the screams of anguish under you.

You begin to hear it more and more clearly. It tells you that you that your efforts are not in vain. The voice resonates into every inch of the infinite hall. In every darkness there is a speck of light, no matter what, you must push forward, it urges. As you begin to listen more to this once meek and powerless voice, you start to feel more energized.

Suddenly you realize that the handles are no longer burning your hands. You press ever forward, and the floor behind ceases its crumbling. The cries from below ring out louder than ever, trying to silence the other voice. Ahead of you a small light is beginning to become visible. The source of the voice urges you forward, and you realize it’s coming from the light.

Your cheeks begin to warm as the light splashes across your face. The echoing cries of those below have since disappeared into obscurity. The hallway ultimately culminates in a beautifully ornate glass door. You hear the voice beyond beckoning you to step through the threshold. Grasping the beautiful golden handles with both hands, you excitedly burst through the doorway with certainty that you have finally overcome the darkness.

Running at full force through across the threshold your feet stumble for a footing. You realize that the vast sun covered field you’d seen through the glass door was an illusion. You falter to find you balance before falling into the dark pit that lay below. As you begin your freefalling descent into the abyss below, you hear the once bright and encouraging voice now cackling darkly at your plight. With nothing else to do, you’re finally forced to give in to this eternal darkness and accept your fate as you fall helplessly into oblivion.

For some, this is nothing but a hellish nightmare from which they will easily awaken; usually after trying the first door. For others however, this nightmare is an all too real representation of reality. This is what it feels like to millions of people suffering from anxiety. For those of us who are forced to live with this excruciating scenario on a daily basis, life can become unbearable and many are forced to let the void devour them.

The worst aspect of anxiety is that just when you think you’ve overcome one obstacle, three more will appear to replace it. The catch to all of this is, however, that none of the obstacles in your path can actually hurt you physically. Everything that you face is completely trapped within the confines of your mind. For this reason, many who suffer from anxiety are overlooked as lazy or crazy, or both. The truth is, many people with anxiety have just become frozen in terror, and won’t be able to overcome this crippling fear alone.

For those who love someone whom is fighting this battle, don’t let them fight alone. For those who are suffering from anxiety, the hallway does end, the glass door is not always an illusion. You just have to keep trying no matter what, because eventually you will find the strength to overcome.

Happy Easter!

In keeping with the holiday spirit, an article about Easter seemed like the right fit. Easter is, perhaps, one of the most complicated holidays to follow, as it has no set schedule. Easter can fall anywhere from the end of March until the end of April. This ever changing date, along with the odd assortment of quirky traditions used to celebrate it, also makes Easter one of the most intriguing holidays.

The date set for Easter fluctuates from year to year. This is because it follows a lunar schedule. In the year 325 the ancient council of Nicaea set the convoluted date. Easter falls on the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the spring equinox. The actual date of Easter can be any Sunday between March 22nd all the way until April 25th. This incredibly complicated schedule is derived to coincide with the pagan Spring festivals.

In pagan tradition, Spring is considered a time of rebirth and life. Spring is when plans begin to bloom anew and days become longer as well as warmer. It’s in these pagan roots that we find the answer as to where some of these queer little traditions such as decorating and hiding the Easter egg, the idea of the Easter rabbit, even the name of the holiday itself came into being.

When Easter was first declared a holiday, the name was taken from the pagan goddess “Easter”. According to pagans, Easter is the goddess of Fertility. She was often seen with a rabbit at her side. Rabbits, in pagan belief, are symbols of fertility as well… go figure. So now, just from analyzing the name alone, we can see where the Easter Rabbit’s origins lie as well.

Although, the Easter hare, or rabbit, depending on your country of origin, did not begin distributing baskets of eggs until the seventeenth century and because of this, scholars are not certain how this tradition got started. Some speculate that the Easter rabbit is descended from folktales about the antics of hares, whose breeding season begins in March and who have been documented as performing crazy antics during this time… and what’s crazier than a magical egg laying bunny?

So why is it customary to color and hide eggs? During the celebration of the vernal equinox, people would make offerings of eggs colored to match the light of spring to the goddess Easter. The egg is a pagan symbol for rebirth, and many early pagans would lay these colored eggs at the site of a grave. Scholars believe this may have been some sort of charm for rebirth of loved ones, but it kind of also puts a damper on the whole hiding of the eggs tradition.

The traditional Easter Basket finds its roots hand in hand with those of the Easter Eggs. The initial baskets were filled with eggs to be presented during the festivals. The addition of candy to Easter baskets didn’t come until the 1870’s when the candy business introduced new lines of Easter themed goodies, thank goodness for that!

Easter is also associated with wearing new clothes. Since Easter is a holiday of rebirth and new life, it makes sense that it is customary to wear new clothing during the holiday. New clothes used to be harder to come by than just going for a quick trip to the mall. In early traditions, Easter would’ve probably been one of the few times a year that a person received a new outfit. Therefore, these new clothes could easily be thought to represent a new beginning.

Easter also marks the end of Lent, a forty-night period associated with fasting. As such each year many people settle in for the traditional Easter dinner or feast, here it’s usually baked ham and potato salad, deviled eggs and the like. However, some customs dictate that lamb should be consumed while others associate lung soup as the primary meal. As you can see, the customary feast varies from culture to culture, but the feast itself is the same throughout traditions.

Alright, so that’s the Easter bunny, the Easter egg and the name Easter itself, all derived from pagan traditions dating back long before Jesus walked the earth. Please don’t take that as a jab at Jesus or the Christian faith. It would be difficult to convert a mass amount of people from one way of thinking to another without finding a middle ground. It just so happened that pagans had a holiday that had been celebrated for centuries, and the story of Jesus fit the celebrations perfectly. What better way to celebrate the rebirth of a savior, than traditions of life and rebirth that had already been established?

Modern Easter traditions may be modeled after ancient pagan customs, but Easter is now mostly associated with the death and resurrection of the Christian savior Jesus Christ. Therefore, it makes sense that these symbols carried over during the religious conversion. Whatever your spiritual beliefs, I’m sure that we can all agree that the whole concept of the Easter holiday is not only complicated, but also extremely fascinating!

 

Source of information:

 

Yoder, Don. “Easter.Encyclopedia of Food and Culture. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Mar. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

The Walking Dead: Top 10 Character differences between screen and print

Walking Dead

Disclaimer: I’m still new to the WordPress format, so this article won’t look as good on the website as it did in Microsoft Word. Therefore, I am attaching the original word document complete with pictures and set up in a nice table.

One of the most popular shows on television right now is AMC’s The Walking Dead. What many people may not know is that the hit show started from the humble beginnings of a comic book. The comic book quickly gained a cult following and it’s easy to see why. The comics have just as much shock value and great writing as the television show, and in many ways it is even more shocking. Since so many people are not familiar with the content of the comic book Walking Dead universe; I have decided to count down the top 10 most notable differences between comic book and TV show. This article will contain spoilers for both sources of material, so if you’re not caught up and don’t want to have any surprises ruined, then I suggest that you stop reading right now.

Alright guys, if you’re still with me that means’ that you are either completely caught up with both genres of the story, or that you simply wish to keep reading. Either way, here is my list of the top 10 character differences between The Walking Dead comic and television show. Also, if this post is a hit, I will be sure to do another list, as there is way more than 10 differences to talk about.

Name: Difference:
10) Dale Up first on the list is Dale. You may remember him as the guy on the other side of the fence from the show Home Improvement. (Come on… that hat… and he’s always got sage advice) Both in the comics and in the TV show, Dale was the mack daddy of the Apocalypse. He Spent the beginning of both series shacked up with two young sisters. Dale was a pivotal character in both genres, but in different ways. In the TV show version Dale is killed by walkers at the Greene’s farm. The reason this is significant for the show is not the way that he died. It’s the fact that he died at all. You see, Dale lived much longer in the comic book series. In fact, Dale and Andrea were an item right up until the cannibals showed up. Dale’s early death on the television series represented the first significant shift between the two genres. And set the stage for someone else to suffer that fate. Remember that whole Bob and Sasha heartfelt goodbye scene in the show? That was inspired by the comic book scene where Dale suffers the same fate and Andrea was the one who had to say goodbye.
9) Sophia After an entire season of the show had been dedicated to looking for her, and in perhaps one of the most shocking twist of events in television history; The Walking Dead revealed that poor Sophia had been inside the Greenes’ barn the entire time… dead. This was a HUGE shift from her storyline in the comic books. If the show had stuck with her storyline, she would be living with Glenn and Maggie in Alexandria right now, calling them Mom and Dad. (More on that in a minute.) I have begun to suspect that Enid may be taking her place in the show, as she’s a romantic interest to Carl and due to her connection with Glenn and Maggie.
8) Lori and Judith I believe that most people will agree with me when I say that Lori was just an awful character on the show. However, her demise occurred in two very different ways. One of which, Judith, is effecting the plot of the show to this day. In the television show, her water breaks during an epic scene where they’re hiding from walkers. Due to complications, Maggie has to cut the baby out of her, and this leaves Lori to die during childbirth and Carl having to kill her. Judith lives through the trauma and is still alive and well up to the current episode of the show. This is not so, unfortunately, in the comic book universe. In print, Lori gives birth to baby Judith with no complications. However, the bundle of joy and her mother both met a devastating demise at the hands of The Governor’s people. Attempting to flee an onslaught of bullets, a frantic Lori clings to her newborn and makes a break for the inside of the prison. Sadly, she is hit right in the stomach with a rifle blast and falls down dead… right on top of the baby.
7) The Greene Family I could probably write an entire post concerning the differences between with this family in print and screen. So be prepared for a long one. We’ll start with the general Greene family in the show. Hershel’s family mostly die off in the tragic events that befell the farm. He, Maggie and Beth make it to the prison safely. In the comic books, his entire family make it safely to the prison. Sadly, in the comic book run Hershel and his children are picked off one by one, in many tragic ways, leaving only Maggie alive. Hershel had two younger daughters who were killed horrifically at the hands of one of the prison inmates. Next, his son was shot in the head attempting to flee the same onslaught that killed Lori. Finally, having been trying to save his son and then realizing he had been shot, a broken hearted Hershel gives up and begs The Governor to just kill him already… to which he gladly obliges. Hershel dies at the hands of The Governor on the show as well, only in a different way. He and Michonne are captured by the season’s antagonist while outside the prison walls. Hershel is beheaded with Michonne’s sword. With that all out of the way, there is one huge difference in the screen Greene family and that is Beth Greene. Beth has no comic book counterpart. She’s not the first original character in the show (more on that in a minute too.) But she did play a large part in the series. Living past the attack on the prison, She and Daryl have an adventure and she ends up being taken. She ultimately dies in a tragic twist of fate during a prisoner exchange at the hospital. As a side note, Maggie’s character hasn’t changed much between the two medias. One minor difference in her storyline is that in the comic books, she tries to hang herself after her family is killed.
6) Andrea The character of Andrea should be considered two completely different characters when comparing the two storylines. In the comic books, Andrea is a badass, rifle-toting, sure-shot with a scar across her cheek from having her mouth cut open. She currently resides with Rick and Carl at home in Alexandria. This couldn’t be farther from who we get to see played out on screen. TV show Andrea is weak, gullible, slightly stupid and has a thing for The Governor. This stupidity, despite multiple warnings and pleadings from Michonne, is what gets her killed. Had she still been alive, Sasha and Michonne’s stories would be different; as both characters have received separate parts of her current comic book story.
5) Tyrese Tyrese or Madame Tyrese, as I began to call the television character, is another on the list that could and should be considered two completely different characters. In print, Tyrese was introduced much earlier, along with his teenage daughter and her boyfriend. Neither of those two characters existed on screen, instead we get Sasha and those other people who didn’t last long enough for me to remember their names. During his time in the comics, he begins a romantic fling with Carol, experiences the loss of his daughter, cheats on Carol with Michonne and finally, ends up being beheaded by The Governor. This death, as I’ve mention, played out on TV with the character of Hershel instead. On television, Tyrese survives the attack on the prison and meets up with Lizzie, Mika, Judith and Carol. He is shown to be both strong against walkers and weak against people. He is ultimately killed off by walkers right before the group reaches Alexandria.
4) Lizzie and Mika Lizzie and Mika appear after the Woodberry people join the prison. Their father is killed off after a plague sweeps through the jailhouse. They’re ultimately adopted by Carol, but get separated from her when Carol is exiled. The group meet up again along the road to Terminus. This is where we begin to figure out who Lizzie and Mika’s comic book counterparts are. In the comics they’re younger twin boys by the name of Ben and Billy who are left in the care of Andrea and Dale after their parents are killed. The deaths play out in very similar ways with Lizzie killing Mika on the show then being tragically shot by poor Carol. However, it was Carl that killed the other brother in the comic books.
3) Abraham Abraham’s storyline plays out almost shot for shot in both stories. The first key difference in his story comes only as recently as the last couple of episodes. In the comics, he leaves Rosita for an Alexandria native named Holly. If you don’t remember her from the show, it’s because she was only on one episode. You may remember her as the patient Denise couldn’t save. Anyway, with her out of the way in the show, Abraham falls for Sasha instead. This could potentially be setting Sasha up for Holly’s comic book fate, but I’m not so sure. The reason I believe this might not be the case is thanks to this most recent episode. In the comic books Abraham is shot through the eye with an arrow while out on a run with Eugene… Does this sound familiar yet? If so, it’s because this scene just played out on screen last Sunday. Sadly, it was Denise, not Abraham, who got hit by Daryl’s crossbow. Now, how does this effect Sasha? Well, Holly died because she sacrificed herself against Negan’s forces because of grief caused by the death of Abraham. Since Denise is the one that dies on the show, I’m afraid it may be Tara who sacrifices herself.
2) Daryl Number two on the list and easily one of the biggest key difference in the two stories, is none other than fan-favorite Daryl Dixon. He is a character who is completely original to the television show. He’s had no significant story plots to match with the comic books either. Over the course of the show we see him grow from a younger brother who would do whatever he’s told, into one of the most badass archers you’ll come across in any story. He stole people’s hearts with his ceaseless search for little Sophia. He broke our hearts when he found his dead brother Merle as a walker. We’ve waited for six long seasons for him to declare his  undying love to Carol and for the two to live happily ever after. Every time the two characters are on screen together it’s pure magic. Which leads us to my number one pick….
1) Carol Finally, I round my list off with the biggest difference between the two versions of the story. Carol Peltier, my personal favorite character on the show. She’s another one of the characters who is only loosely based on their comic book counterpart. Her story in the comics is short. After a brief love affair, Tyrese cheats on her with Michonne then leaves her. She attempts suicide and is comforted by Lori. This leads comic Carol to try to pursue a romantic threesome with Lori and Rick. After being turned down, a heartbroken Carol walks out into the prison yard and embraces a walker, asking it if it will love her. She leaves her daughter Sophia without so much as a thought. We already know that in the show it was Sophia, not carol, who met their demise. This leads to extraordinary character development for her. Over the course of the show she has killed sick prisoners to protect her people from the plague, been exiled and survived on her own for an extended period of time, adopted two surrogate daughters losing one and killing the other, blown up a camp of cannibals, protected Alexandria from the Wolves singlehandedly and just recently killed an entire group of people with the help of Maggie.

Feline Facts

When it comes to writing, I have a multitude of ideas spiraling through my brain like an angry tornado. When tasked with finding a subject to research and write about, those ideas seemed to instantly vanish. My mind went from a notebook full of ideas to a blank canvas. After spending a good portion of time staring at the blank word document, I realized that my inspiration had been staring at me for almost as long as I had been staring at the bare page.

My cat, Lucy watches me with her big yellow eyes, waiting for a scratch on the head or a couple of light pats on the butt. She began to grow impatient as I tried hard not to notice her and stay focused on my work. It wasn’t until she crawled up onto my computer’s keyboard and insisted that I pet her, that I began to wonder what exactly goes through a cat’s mind. After at least an hour or more of writer’s block, I finally had my topic.

So, without further delay, I will begin my journey into the mind of a cat by searching “cat behavior” in Google. I quickly realize that this is not going to be an easy subject on which to find reputable information. The first site that jumps out at me is the Humane Society’s webpage, so that is where I start my research.

The Humane society’s website is extremely informative about the behavior of cats. So finally after quite a long while I can start my list of cat behavior and finish the assignment at hand. Here are a list of ten common actions and behaviors displayed by my cat, and what they’re supposed to indicate.

10) Rubbing: I don’t know about anyone else, but my cat really loves to rub her muzzle on me (and my computer screen…) and pretty much anything with which she interacts. I’ve always associated these nuzzling actions as a sign of affection, but according to The Humane Society, it’s more about claiming what’s hers. A cat will nuzzle people and objects to mark them with her scent. This let’s other cats and animals in the area know that she has laid claim to that person or object. So, while a cat’s nuzzling does indicate affection to an extent, it’s mostly about claiming what’s hers.

9) Kneading: One of the most common behaviors that both of my cats have shown is kneading. At any given time throughout the day, my cats will lay in my lap and eventually begin to knead my clothes with their paws. This behavior is learned when they are kittens. Kittens knead their mother’s breasts to increase milk flow. According to the Humane Society, this is a sign that your cat is extremely happy and content. Although, while she may be content and happy, her claws kneading into the bare skin of my leg has just the opposite effect on me.

8) Yawning: Something my cat does quite frequently is squint her eyes, fold back her ears, open her mouth extremely wide and yawn. Or at least that’s what I’ve always thought she was doing. Apparently, cats have an extra olfactory organ called a Jacobson organ. These scent glands are located inside the cat’s mouth just behind her top teeth. According to the Humane Society, when a cat performs these actions, she is actually gathering more information about the area or objects around her. These Jacobson organs work by intensifying the odor of the object in which the cat is showing interest.

I am beginning to feel like the humane society’s website is not enough for this assignment, so I will be going back to google and taking another look around for a website that is reputable and informative. I am going to change my search terms from “cat behavior” to “How cats communicate” Hopefully I will find more information about a cat’s body language, verbal communication and mannerisms.

7) Blinking: It’s been a long day at work and you’ve finally arrived home. You open the door to find your feline companion waiting patiently, staring intently at the door. As you walk in, the two of you make eye contact and your cat slowly closes her eyes a couple of times. This is not because her eyes are dry or due to normal blinking that may occur. When a cat shuts her eyes around another cat or person, according to WebMD, this indicates a bond of intense trust. In the cat world, maintaining eye contact for too long is a sign of aggression. People who enjoy the company of a feline friend are not afraid to look them in the eyes, and that makes a cat uncomfortable. This is why they seem to be drawn to the people who don’t like cats, because these people usually try to avoid looking at the cat.

6) Tail position: According to the multiple sources, one of the most effective ways to understand what your cat is feeling, is by noting the position of her tail. A cat whose tail is sticking straight up is indicating that she’s in a friendly mood and wouldn’t mind interacting with you. If the cat’s tail is sticking straight up but crooks at the top, she’s still friendly, but is also being cautious. If you’ve ever seen a cat lying down and beating her tail against the floor, then you know this means she’s angry or agitated about something and that you should probably leave her to her thoughts. Finally, if the cat’s tail is bent downward, this is a defensive position and your cat is indicating that she feels threatened.

5) Purring: If you’re anything like me, I always assumed that my cat purred when she was happy, showing affection or content. According to WebMD, this may not be the case in all instances. Cats use their purr to indicate other emotions as well. It’s true that a cat will purr when she’s content or happy, but sometimes cats purr to indicate that they’re hungry, this purr is usually accompanied by a verbal meow. Mother cats purr to let their kittens know they’re with them. Kittens are born deaf and blind and the vibration of the mother’s purr helps the kitten find her and also provides a calming comfort to the kitten. Lastly, a cat may be purring because she’s scared or in pain. Cat’s will purr at these times to try and comfort themselves, the approximate equivalent to a human doing deep breathing exercises. According to WebMD the vibration of a cat’s purr may help lessen swelling and pain, build muscles and may even help heal broken bones.

4) Sharpening claws: While many people believe that cats scratch at their scratching posts (or walls, table legs, chairs, sofas or anything else that’s in reach) to sharpen their claws, this isn’t always the case. Yes, in some instances they’re scratching to remove the dead outer layer of their claws making them sharper. However, what you may not know is that cats have scent glands in their paws and may be marking their territory both visually and through smell. Finally, your cat may be scratching at a certain spot for no other reason than that it’s a nice place to stretch her legs after a long nap.

3) Delivering dead animals: One thing that my wonderful feline friend does that I really wish she wouldn’t do, is bring home dead animals. Field mice, moles, birds, rabbits and squirrels, my cat has brought me many of each. Does this mean that my precious Lucy is a cold hearted, blood thirsty killing machine? The answer is an easy, no. Cats are instinctual hunters and it’s in their nature to stalk prey, but why then does she deliver the dead or injured animal to my door (and in some cases my bedroom if she slips in unnoticed)? In the wild, cats regularly bring their kittens dead or injured animals to help them practice eating and hunting. According to LiveScience.com spayed domesticated cats are more likely to bring their human these kinds of gifts. This behavior, though gross to us, is a sure sign that your cat has accepted you as part of her family and these gifts are her way of making sure that you are fed. So the next time your kitty brings you a present, maybe say thank you before disposing of it.

2) Ear position: Another good indication as to what your feline friend may be thinking, is the way she’s holding her ears. A cat’s ear position can tell you quite a bit about how she’s feeling. If a cat’s ears are facing forward, she’s relaxed and maybe feeling playful. If a cat has her ears pinned back against her head… don’t bother her, she’s telling you that she’s either irritated, or feeling threatened. If you see a cat with its ears sticking straight up, this is an indication that she’s found something extremely interesting and it has gotten her full attention.

1) Verbal Cues: A common myth about cats is that they only developed a meow to communicate with their humans. Although this may sound like a really cool and interesting factoid, evidence indicates that this is not necessarily true. While, yes, cats meow at us for many different reasons and in many different ways, they do use meows to communicate with each other as well. Cats meow when they’re hungry, hurt or just because they’re bored. There’s no one right reason that your cat is meowing, but coupling the attention getting meow with her body language is a good indication of what her needs are at the time.

 

Links to the website in which I found my information:

http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/cats/tips/cat_communication.html

http://pets.webmd.com/cats/features/cat-body-language

http://lifewithchcats.com/2013/04/22/understanding-your-cats-body-language-the-tail/

http://pets.webmd.com/why-do-cats-purr

http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/cats/tips/destructive_scratching.html

http://www.livescience.com/34471-cats-dead-animals.html

https://www.petfinder.com/cats/cat-behavior-and-training/why-cats-meow/

Living the Afterlife

What happens to us when we die? If you’re from Kentucky, like me, chances are you believe that you either go to heaven or hell. Which is what I truly and completely believed would happen. That is, until a few years ago. If I take the time to actually reflect on when my views of the afterlife changed; I’d probably be able to pinpoint the exact moment as being when I first experienced the death of a loved one. I don’t mean the first time I went to a funeral; I was too young to understand what was going on at that point in time.

The first time that I was able to understand death, was around the time that I started my first year of college. During my freshmen year of school, I began going to church and was busily making friends and memories. It was a cool spring night during my second semester that I received a call from my parents informing me that my uncle had passed away. It was in this moment that reality came crashing in on me.

You see, it was that very moment in which I began to realize that life ended. I mean, I knew that people died, I wasn’t naïve to that fact. I had just never put it into perspective like this before. I was slowly coming to the horrifying realization that I would die. After this epiphany, it began to become all that I could think about. I was supposed to be comforted by the fact that I would be going to heaven when I died, but I became so obsessed with idea of mortality that I began to question and ponder every single aspect of the thing.

I’ve never been one to take anything on faith, it’s always been my experience that if you take something on faith you end up paying for it in the end. So how was I supposed to NOT question the idea of Heaven or Hell after I died? I began to research the afterlife of other religions. After all, if I could believe in streets of gold and winged cherubs playing music, then why couldn’t I believe the other ideologies?

I quickly came to understand that for the most part, it was all the same. Heaven and Hell. Different religions call them different places, but for the most part they state that a good person goes to one place and a bad person goes to another. Then, there were the religions that introduced me to the concept of reincarnation. I liked this concept as it’s loosely supported by science.

Basically the law of conservation of energy states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it just changes forms. If our consciousness is made up of electrical impulses (energy), then it cannot be taken away, just changed into a different form. To me, this sounds like reincarnation. Finally, I had quieted the voice in my head from its constant pestering and torturous repetition.

Exactly one year later; I had just entered the second semester of my sophomore year. Life was going well for me at the time, and I had landed a small role in the school’s production of A Comedy of Errors. It was a week before the show opened and we were having a dress rehearsal. I received a call from my mom, she was sobbing heavily into the phone and I could barely understand what she was trying to tell me. My aunt was dying in the hospital.

It was this news that triggered an outbreak of crippling anxiety for me. The thoughts of death would not go away. Every time I talked to a friend or family member, cuddled with my dogs or even just looked at someone, I saw them dying. Not literally, I wasn’t hallucinating. It was more of a nagging realization that every single person with whom I let share my life; would eventually die and leave me alone.

It was because of these incessant nagging thoughts that I began to withdraw from the world. I stopped going out to see my friends. I didn’t audition for anymore plays. I gave up on school and life in general. At this low point in my life, my view on the afterlife started to shift from being certain that reincarnation had to be the truth to being terrified that there is no afterlife. Now, not only was I afraid to connect with anyone, I was also afraid that one day I would be gone. No more thinking, no more feelings or emotion… just nothing.

I tried everything imaginable, but I couldn’t shake that idea of nothingness. I still can’t even fathom the notion. When I think of nothingness, I picture a blank black background with no sound… like space with no stars. However, this can’t be true because ‘black’ is something that exists, and we’re talking about a void.

I began to grow terrified by the world around me. Death was lurking everywhere, everything was dangerous. I developed an affinity for panic and anxiety attacks along with a terrible fear of interacting with people to go along with the depression from which I’d previously grown accustomed to suffering. Try as I might, I could not stop obsessing over all of these ideas, they even plagued my sleep.

These crippling fears would persist for years running rampant through the disaster area that was my mind. It got so bad, so cripplingly terrible, that I stopped leaving my parents’ house all together. Everything I experienced sent me into a panic. Death, nothing, being alone, dying alone… these ideas and thoughts raced marathons through my brain for so long they became my new normal.

It took a long time for me to come to terms with my fears. But, I think that I finally understand something that never dawned on me during all of this constant thinking and worrying. The most comforting idea of all is the realization that whatever happens after we die… It doesn’t matter.

That’s right, I said it. It absolutely one hundred percent does not matter what the afterlife has in store. Every single person on this planet is born, and then they die. Death is unavoidable and you are not guaranteed a tomorrow. So if there’s nothing that I can do to stop it; why should I worry so much about it? Everyone dies eventually, no amount of hiding away in my room can change that. No matter how much I try, I cannot stop time from moving forward. I can’t stop living just because I’m afraid of dying.

I have resigned to the fact that I don’t know what will happen when I die. I still struggle with the notion that the people about whom I care will eventually die, but I also know that living life without people to love and care about is more like just existing in a space for a finite amount of time. Life is lived through the people with whom you connect. Each person in life experiences different events, makes different memories than everyone else in the world. It is through our shared friendships that we get to experience the true beauty which life has to offer. Through each other, we experience parts of life we might have only dreamt of when we were on our own.

It is my conclusion that, in preparation for whatever comes after this, people should live their lives as best as they can. Help one another, raise each other up to become better versions of themselves. There’s no guarantee that your religion is the right religion, there’s no guarantee of a heaven or hell. There might be, but you shouldn’t let those ideas dictate your actions. You’re not truly being a good person if you’re just acting that way so you don’t go to hell. You’re not truly serving your God if you’re just doing certain things to get into heaven.

To be a good person and serve God, you must want to do right. You do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. Sometimes the line between right and wrong is blurry, and that’s perfectly okay. Follow your heart, be kind to others, help those who can’t help themselves, and just try to make this world a better place. Because no matter what you believe, you never truly know what comes next. The only thing you can know for sure, is what’s going on in this life. So, make the most of this life and seek comfort in your beliefs, but don’t let them stop you from experiencing the beauty and joy that this life has to offer.