Some of you may know that I was off last week to attend a writing conference. This is no ordinary conference. It’s a retreat, a chance to re-connect with nature, make new friends, and re-connect with old friends.
The Bear River Writers’ Conference first entered my life in 2015, and I was blown away by the wonderful feeling of being surrounded by like-minded, friendly people for five days. The conference takes place at the University of Michigan Alumni Association’s Camp Michigania on Walloon Lake. During the summer, Camp Michigania is host to Michigan Alums for weeks of family camp. The week before family camp starts, 100 writers and 10 authors/instructors invade the camp for several days of writing and camaraderie. After my first year at Bear River I would say, “It’s time for writing camp!”
This was my third year attending the Bear River Writers’ Conference. For the third year in a row I had a magical time and realized how much I missed the setting as soon as I drove around the bend and saw Walloon Lake. I love everything about it – the intense hours of writing, working hard with your fellow group members, the wonderful food in the dining hall (and soft serve ice cream), staying in a cabin, being disconnected from TV and internet most of the day, being in nature, and the list goes on. For the third year, I felt a little bit of pain in my heart as I left because I didn’t want to leave.
Upon my return home after the 6-hour drive, my cats greeted me with a lot of purring and meowing. I kept saying, “Did you guys miss me?” When they meowed in reply I was thinking they either said, “Yes! We missed you!” or “Hmm…not really…we just want you to feed us.” Well, even though I love going on little trips (and I absolutely love going to the Bear River Writers’ Conference), I also miss my cats when I’m away.
At this point, I’m carrying my positive energy I gained at Bear River this year with plans to return in 2018. It will probably hit me some time in April of 2018 how much I miss Bear River and I’ll start doing the countdown once again. I love the peace and serenity of Camp Michigania, and connecting with so many amazing writers. I’m sure all of my “cuddlers” have a place they love, too! Hopefully, this post has brought you to the place you love.
Good morning, Cuddlers!
It has been a bit cold and dreary in Chicago the last couple of weeks. In fact, this January was the second least sunny January on record. The lack of sun has a lot of people feeling this rough patch of winter blahs. So, last week I decided to take a walk with a friend to the Lincoln Park Zoo!
For those who don’t know, Lincoln Park Zoo is a free zoo about two miles north of Chicago’s famed Magnificent Mile. It’s in the heart of Lincoln Park and right near Lake Michigan.
My friend wanted to see what the new polar bear was up to since the last time she went, the polar bear was inside the whole time. We were lucky enough to see this gorgeous creature having a blast playing with his blue tub. He was splashing in the water and playing with his tub for a good 15 minutes. Whenever he would come up to the glass to push off, it made me want to pet him. Can you imagine giving a polar bear a hug? (Of course, without the threat of dying.)
Then, we ventured over to see what the family of Japanese Macaque’s were doing on this cloudy and cold Chicago day. They are snow monkeys after all, so I imagined they were enjoying this weather. Soon after we walked to their enclosure we saw the cutest thing happen. One of the moms, with baby on her back, ran over to the male (perhaps the dad) that was sitting near the glass. As soon as she reached the male they embraced with the baby snow monkey in the middle of them. They were hugging for a good 3-4 minutes with the baby cuddling in between them the whole time. The mom and baby were alternating grabbing the dad in an affectionate manner, as if to offer a calming-type of massage. It was the cutest thing I’ve seen, especially because the baby was nestled in between them. My friend and I couldn’t get enough of how adorable it was that they were hugging for so long. We were sure it was to stay warm, but it also seemed to be very much a sign of affection. (To be honest, we also thought they were about to get intimate.)
When we were walking away from the monkeys we both said that their hugging reminded us of when someone you care about gives you the best hug ever. Or, those moments when someone you care about gives you a hug because you must have that “I need a hug” look on your face. Aren’t those the best?! After seeing the polar bear “hugging” his giant blue tub and the snow monkeys giving each other the most adorable hug, I couldn’t stop thinking about just how sweet a hug can be from those you love. Maybe we can all claim this as “give a hug week.”
Doors. Cats and dogs alike seem to always want to be on the other side of them. A door can be open for the cat or dog to walk through and they may decide not to go, or they might, or they may not…in the mean time you hear their human saying, “Are you in or out? In or out? Okay…in…out?!” It’s the never-ending battle of wanting to be on the other side of that door, or staying on this side of the door.
Don’t ask a cat or human about the real reason behind the very stressful bathroom door situation. It seems like dogs might be okay with bathroom doors being closed. Wait, I take that back. Belle, my parents’ Boxer, was not a fan of any human in her presence using the bathroom with a closed door. But, cats seem to have it the worst. Something in their very core tells them that their human will not make it out of the bathroom alive, that the human is having a non-cat party, or something unimaginable is happening inside that darn bathroom and the cat wants to be a part of it.
The past week Reggie has been meowing constantly at the top of his “meowing voice” to go in the hall. I’ve actually appeased him a few times. We’ll stay in the hall for a few minutes, come back in the apartment, and he’s right back at the door again. His meow is absolutely desperate, yet there is nothing in the hall to show me what he thinks is out there.
This is certainly a deeper conversation on the human side of this, right? The metaphor of doors in our own lives can get pretty deep (especially for a cuddle-conversation). Just for this week, I’m going to think about a door I should walk through, or stay on this side, or walk through, or….you get the idea! I think I’m going to try to figure out my hesitation for taking that walk through a door that perhaps may be open in my life. If there is an open door, it sure seems like a good time of the year to walk through it. Now, if we could only convince our cats and dogs to make decisions…in or out?