Cat cafes rising in popularity

Hello, friends. I hope the new year is treating you well so far. Here are a few things I’m feeling gratitude for today …

1. Coffeehouses that help out with pet adoptions? Yes! Cat cafes are rising in popularity, with shops cropping up in cities like Oakland, Denver and Seattle. Patrons can grab a cup of jo and then schedule some playtime with shelter cats needing a good home.

2. Random reasons to celebrate, like: Today is Static Electricity Day! Static and cats just don’t mix. These great tips will help rid your cat’s fur of static electricity (and protect your cat from this):

3. Noel Fitzpatrick, rock star vet and star of the BBC series “The Supervet”: His work helping animals extends way beyond the amazing, cutting-edge techniques and “miracles” happening at his veterinary practice. Last year, he launched a nonprofit called Humanimal Trust, which builds stronger scientific and educational connections between vets and physicians for humans—a collaboration that ultimately will benefit our animals. In case you missed them, old “Supervet” episodes are available on Amazon.

4. Promising research that could help to diagnose fatal kidney disease in cats earlier. A test based on a newly developed biomarker could be available to pet owners someday soon, extending their kitties’ lives.

5. Yay! Eddie the Terrible has been adopted following this hilarious ad from the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, which highlighted all of his flaws. You gotta love the Humane Society for using creative ways to draw attention to their animals. (Whatever works!)

What are you thankful for today?

{P.S. My Reiki for Dogs Audio Course starts Monday! Click here for details and to sign up (scroll down to the second class listed).}

Life lessons from our animals

I can’t believe it’s almost 2015! Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year filled with many blessings. In addition to my family, friends and health, here are a few things I’m feeling gratitude for this sparkly evening …

1. I suppose it goes without saying, but I am immensely grateful for the animals I’ve encountered in my life and the ones that have walked gently by my side. Here’s a wonderful article from One Green Planet that lists 10 beautiful life lessons we can learn from animals. I agree with all of these lessons; #1 (compassion) and #3 (live for today), especially, are important elements of my Reiki work with animals. Read the full article here for all 10 life lessons.

2. A reason to celebrate eating vegan: Did you know? January is Veganuary! This global campaign launched in 2013 helps people “take the pledge” to eat vegan for the month of January. The helpful site includes a dining guide, myths debunked, recipes, profiles of vegans from all walks of life and more. And here’s my favorite vegan blog: Oh She Glows. I made the Crispy Smashed Potatoes With Avocado Garlic Aioli the other night and they were absolutely amazing. I also can’t wait to try this (since I love Mexican food): Ultimate Green Taco Wraps With Lentil-Walnut Taco Meat. Who knew eating vegan could be so fun? (What are you waiting for?)

3. Tomorrow’s Tournament of Roses Parade, a yearly tradition in our household! My favorite floats are always the animal floats. There aren’t too many this year, but keep an eye out for La Cañada Flintridge’s float “To the Rescue,” which will be showcasing a message of compassion: a group of sea creatures setting aside their fear of sharks to band together and free a shark trapped in a fishing net and sunken boat.

4. Scientists who make it their life’s work to answer that age-old (and vitally important) question: What do cats do all day? This actually made me smile; what a fun experiment to collaborate with cat owners, outfitting their outdoor house cats with cat trackers. Hm, wouldn’t it be amusing to know what your cat does all day? This study is ongoing, but the early results are pretty interesting. Check out their Cat Tracker website for Google maps detailing each animal participant’s “secret life.”

5. This heartful essay about animals in zoos, which are decorated festively for the holidays and accept donated “gifts” from visitors for the animals. I have to agree with author Jennifer O’Connor, that the animals have “nothing to celebrate” during the holidays. “The greatest gift,” she writes, “would be the one they’ll never receive: life outside a cage.”

As we head into a brand-new year … what are you grateful for today?

This surprising animal is now endangered

Hello, Friday. I can’t believe the holidays are almost here. I’ll be spending the weekend finishing up some shopping and trying out a new gluten-free recipe: Hearty Vegan Minestrone Soup. What about you?

As we head into the weekend, here are five things I’m feeling gratitude for today …

1. I’m really grateful for conservationists and their tireless work. Our world needs more of them, especially when you have so many animals facing extinction, such as polar bears (due to shrinking ice in the Arctic) and the American eel (from overfishing). Those are just two examples of animals vanishing from the wild, but surprisingly, now giraffes need saving, too. According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the numbers of these gentle giants have dropped an alarming 40 percent in just 15 years. Scientists are working on the paperwork now to help giraffes make it onto the official endangered species listings. On a related note, 31 new species of animals recently gained special protection status by the United Nations (including polar bears), and plenty more should (like the beluga whale in Canada).

2. Singing dogs: When the news of the world gets me down, something simple like a funny animal video can make me smile. Check out this adorable Aussie shepherd puppy singing—yes, you read that right—“Let It Go” from the movie Frozen.

3. Gingerbread houses: Every year, my daughter Indigo and I, along with Grandma, construct beautiful, candied gingerbread houses. We’ve already made this year’s, but after seeing this article with construction tips from a pro, I’m excited to make next year’s gingerbread house extra elaborate. And how cool is this: Until January 4, you can dine inside a life-sized gingerbread house at one of the Great Wolf Lodge resorts and help a charity at the same time.

4. Howard Stern’s wife, Beth Stern, does a lot to help homeless animals and is a big supporter of the North Shore Animal League America animal rescue and adoption center in Port Washington, New York. Recently she wrote a children’s picture book about her rescued Persian cat, Yoda, and how his heart healed after taking care of a group of foster kittens. Yoda: The Story of a Cat and His Kittens is on sale now; 100 percent of the proceeds will support a special addition to NSALA: an innovative 14,000-square-foot, cage-free area for cats, kittens, dogs and puppies with outdoor habitats, a 24/7 nursery, grooming facilities, an adoption center and more.

yoda

5. I’m happy anytime I hear of another reason to love chocolate. This time, the decadent confection is apparently linked to improved memory. Bring on the Vosges bars and truffles!

 

Can meditation boost your career?

Friends, what are you up to this weekend? I am excited to be teaching a Reiki III class at Brighthaven over the next three days. As I prepare for my class, here are five things I’m feeling grateful for today …

1. Have you tried meditation? I meditate every single day and feel I would be lost without it. I’ve found that meditation helps me feel centered, connected and energized, not just in business but also with my family. And I’m not the only one: Apparently Jerry Seinfeld swears by twice-daily meditation, and even executives and tech entrepreneurs are starting to turn to meditation to boost their careers, packing increasingly popular meditation classes and conducting “mindful networking.” For some extra inspiration in your meditation practice, here are some helpful apps for meditation and mindfulness.

2. Art that honors animals: If you are lucky enough to live in London, the Here Today … exhibition at The Sorting Office is a must-see. The exhibition, which runs until December 17, explores eight different “chapters” related to environmental challenges, including “Human Footprint,” “Climate Change and Loss of Habitat” and “The Hunted.” Chapter 1 features a stunning series by Andy Warhol called Endangered Species, which he created in 1983 to highlight the plight of endangered animals.

Pop art illustration with colorful butterflies

Pop art butterflies

3. The backyard birds that tough it out through even the coldest of winters. But if you have a feeder, do you know the most nutritious seed to feed them? (Hint: It’s not the cheap bag of “filler seeds” you commonly find at the store.)

4. Innovators who rethink mundane objects in life-changing ways. I never even thought about this before, but imagine an eco-friendly alternative to the tea kettle that saves energy and doesn’t waste water! As designer and sustainability strategist Leyla Acaroglu pointed out in her 2013 TED talk, most people (65 percent of Brits surveyed) boil more water than needed in their teakettles. That wasted energy could literally light the streetlights of England for a night, Acaroglu says. The Miito rectifies that problem and just might replace the kettle someday.

5. The stack of books at my bedside that I can’t wait to read. I just finished Tina Fey’s Bossypants (loved it!). Next on my list: Angry Optimist: The Life and Times of Jon Stewart by Lisa Rogak. Here’s a cool list of 11 other cozy winter reads.

5 ways to give back this Thanksgiving

First, dear friends, I want to wish you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Are you staying close to home this year or traveling? I will be spending a cozy afternoon with my family at my parents’ house. My mom always cooks up an amazing feast.

With Thanksgiving just a day away, I got to thinking about the different ways we can give back and show our thanks this year …

1. Save a turkey. It costs just $30 to sponsor a turkey this Thanksgiving, thanks to Farm Sanctuary’s special Adopt-a-Turkey Project. The photos and bios of the turkeys available for adoption are guaranteed to warm your heart.

2. Visit an animal shelter with your kids, nieces and nephews, or grandchildren. The animals always appreciate visitors, and it’s a great way to encourage giving back at a young age.

3. Write a handwritten letter or card to a parent, friend or other loved one thanking them for something thoughtful and kind they’ve done for you.

4. Offer a free Reiki treatment to your vet or local shelter or sanctuary.

5. Donate to your favorite animal charity, shelter or sanctuary. It doesn’t have to be money (though they love cash!). Other helpful items include gift cards to a pet store, rope toys and chews, laundry detergent and bleach, paper towels, newspaper and hand sanitizer. If you’re not sure, most shelters offer wish lists of needed items.

What about you? I’d love to hear how you’re showing thanks or being thankful this holiday.