I took care of my neighbor’s cats while they are away. I shoveled their front porch and stairs to the front porch. Put some food and unfrozen water for the potential outdoors stray cats, in the back, by the rear door. They are caring that way. Simple things.

As I do these things, I look at my life caring for some people who are disabled, or older, or helping with yoga classes and psychotherapy, and getting a sense of satisfaction with what I do. I find I am letting go of the burden of fearing there is something more I need to do that I can’t put my finger on… the burden that I am supposed to be doing more. I did not know I was carrying that feeling around dutifully.

Before coming home to my neighbor’s cats, I had spent the night at a lady’s home because she needs 24/7 presence and care. As I was helping her get ready for the day, I helped her sit up on her bed, I noticed that, as usual, she couldn’t hold herself up. Her back is very stiff as though she is trying to push away from something. That stiffness prevents her from being able to sit up on her own and stay seated. She needs someone’s support.

This time instead of just working with her being that way, trying to help her dress up in all her stiffness… I thought of giving her a hug while rubbing her back like a gentle massage. She embraced me back. She started to relax. I felt her body melt in my arms. She breathed better. After 30 seconds or so, I started taking her pajama shirt off and started dressing her and I noticed she was holding herself sitting up as if it was normal for her. She was relaxed. What a glorious morning!

It is like the Zen teachings: carrying water, chopping wood. It is OK to live simply, smiling at the chance to breathe another breath and to smile at people and at life, smiling with people and with life.