Persist-a-cat (...And Other Lessons In Moving Through Hard Times)

Some years ago, while walking through a deep inner darkness, I found this flower escaping her bounds. Day after day, I watched her steady march over that wall. And that is when I learned in my bones that victory doesn't require force or pushing; only the willingness to climb steadily up towards the light.

OBSTACLE, not Obstacle

Sometimes in life, you hit a big, fat, unyielding OBSTACLE. More than a passing annoyance, like a fender bender or a nasty flu, an OBSTACLE is a l-o-n-g life challenge that pins you down and requires you to transform from the inside out. It's a situation where you don’t get to give up, you can’t change the circumstance, and you can't move forward easily.

Mine was years of severe, intractable insomnia that responded to nothing.

The Feeling of Trapped

We sink into hopeless when we perceive that we have no control over pain that feels unceasing.  This is the place of despondency or panic. This is the place of suffering.

And yet, even here, we do have choices:

  • Give Up,
  • Get Bloodied (comes with the banging of the head against the wall in futility), or
  • Grace Up.

Grace Up

Can't control anything? What a perfect place for surrender. If you just cringed at that word, then choose different words. Choose “let go of things I can’t change.” Chose “stop trying to push the river upstream.” Choose “allow invisible grace the opportunity to flow into my life because I’ve stopped fighting.” Just don’t choose “resignation,” because that DOES NOT mean the same thing.

Shift your BE-ing Before Your DO-ing

To Grace Up is to choose to deliberately align - over and over - to the Light, whatever that is for you. God. Scripture. Holy words. Nature. Love. Silence. As long as it is a force or power bigger than the little, rigid box of your head. 

Aligning with the Light allows you to focus away from the internal entanglement of darkness - beliefs, fears, overwhelm, rage, numbness - all the flotsam of the OBSTACLE. You see, the solution you seek isn't going to be found within the tangle. More DO-ing from within the confused mass just tightens the knots.  No, when you're that stuck, the solution has to come from possibilities that exist beyond the edges of your control. 

Channel Your Inner Persist-a-Cat

This requires patience. It means you have to consciously choose Light again and again. Do what it takes to persevere towards what is good. When your chatterbox mind tries to argue for the darkness, just acknowledge it, and turn towards the Light once more.

This is when it's good to tap into your inner Persist-a-Cat.



That's the nickname we once gave one of our cats because of her indomitable persistence. Undeterred by scolding, water spritzes, or physical removal, she was relentless in climbing onto a particular countertop. I could remove her 50 times; she would return 51. She would not be stopped.

It's like she had all day and nothing else to do. 

I endured several years of having to realign myself daily (really multiple times a day) around my big OBSTACLE.  No medical or energetic intervention was working. I was exhausted and infuriated. Then one day, I decided I would stop all the DO-ing of franticly searching for solution, and instead just choose Light until something changed.  I mean, anger was not working. Giving up was not an option.  I realigned to the Light over and over and over.

At that point, I had all day, and nothing else to do.

Don't Limit the Outcome

This one's tough at first, but get this, and you get the keys to the kingdom. What you think "the outcome" MUST be is actually only one possibility out of any number of potential outcomes. When you lock your sights into "I can only be happy if ____ happens," you create a mental rigidity that's bound to create suffering. 

Instead of demanding a particular outcome, focus on the feeling you desireIn my entanglement, the only acceptable solution was to be able to sleep at night more than 90 minutes at a time, more than 1-5 hours a night. But what I really desired was to feel hope, to feel productive, to feel ease, to feel rested. As hard as it was, I stopped focusing on my outcome, and instead persist-a-catted towards the Light. My Light started with mindfulness meditation and walking in nature (feeling like a zombie, to be sure, but I did it anyway).

One day, at a yoga retreat, I discovered yoga nidra, and I started incorporating that meditation mid-day. Amazingly, no matter how awful the previous night, that 20 minutes could bring me a tiny bit of ease, a little more hope, and a few hours of being productive. That small breath of fresh air opened the way, and my adrenals could finally calm down. Finally, healing had a space to enter. And amazingly, I found moments of hope, productive, ease, and some of the time, even rested.

Grace Up. Take a leap of faith and believe there may be many paths towards the feeling you desire. Allow the Universe / the Divine to do its job; yours is to persistently return, over and over, to the Light. 

Perseverance + Persistence + Patience = Eventual Victory.

You've got this...