advisory board

the wise ones who guide me

For as long as I can remember, my most impactful, connected, and accessible teachers and mentors have been animals. I can count on them to be honest and observant.

When I feel stuck with something, I ask them for guidance. When I have something to celebrate, I tell them about it. When I need a pep talk, they are there to tell me what they love about me and why.

Each of them has contributed to today's version of me, and it makes sense that getting to know me involves getting to know them. And so here they are, in the order they entered my life.

Moira (1999-2016)

The stories about toritude exist because of cats like Moira. She liked things how she liked them, and she made sure that the rest of us knew about it.

She didn't apologize for doing something other than what was expected, and she lived by her intuition - she decided in the first moments whether she liked someone or something and there was no changing her opinion because she just knew. Mo reminds me to trust my gut.

Vaughn (1999-2007)

He was gentle, benevolent, wise, patient, gregarious, kind, magnanimous, and gracious. Vaughn demonstrated that the strongest leaders are often the ones in the back of the crowd, quietly supporting those doing the work. His influence encourages me to invite others to come along rather than to try to motivate them or flat out tell them what to do.

Arden (2001-2018)

Teeny meow, teeny cat, enormous heart. Arden existed to love and be loved, It seemed she saw only the good in others, and she was the first to show up with her heartfelt purr during difficult days. With her I remember that kindness is always possible.

Angus (2002-2012)

Angus presumed to own every room he entered, even if he didn't. He was rough, demanding, tenacious, and absolutely had to feel like he was in charge of stuff. Vaughn humored him. I call on Angus when I feel like I need a confidence boost and imagine him strutting into a room like he was the king of the world.

Wean (2002-2021)

Wean unabashedly sought comfort. He was the cat's cat, chasing down moving sunbeams, warm laps, and cozy blankets for his napping spots. His interest was in doing what felt most satisfying to him at the time, and he didn't give a rat's butt who disagreed. He was affable and approachable, and he hoped that anyone who visited our home for any length of time could spare a moment or several to show him love. He showed me that doing what feels good is a delicious way to live.

Conan (2004-2014)

Coney did this bouncy happy dance when he was excited and full of joy (which was often) that was ridiculously adorable from such an enormous beast. He lived with curiosity and delight (and a lot of fear of things) and once received an award for having the longest tongue. Coney taught me that joy is contagious and necessary.

Rhys (2007-2018)

Of everyone in our family, Rhys changed the most as he aged. At his core, he was eager, concerned, compassionate, and reliable. After Conan died, Rhyslet encouraged me to create beyond photography. It is because of him that I have the courage to do play with art. With him I had the very best death experience, even though I was sure it wasn't what I wanted. I call on Rhys when I want to look at something differently at find a new way of doing things.

Sophie (1982-2013)

Goodness, she could take up space, hold it, and defend it. Her space was her space, and there were no two ways about it. She had a quiet, fiery resolve and stood up for what mattered to her, and she was compassionate and firm in defense of her boundaries. Sophie showed me that boundaries are necessary and that maintaining them is a gift of freedom for both parties.

Max (2017-present)

Max walks the feral line hard. There is a wildness in him that refused to be tamed and was stressed by indoor living. Max needs to be free of confinement and expectations to feel like himself, and as inconvenient as that sometimes is for me, I admire his gumption. Daily he invites me to come outside, cuddle him, and breathe in the tree sap on his fur; I remember that wildness can be a very good thing, indeed.

Greer (2019-present)

Greer is dedicated, intuitive, driven, clever, and ready to spring into action at a moment's notice. She adores tasks, solving problems, and being part of a team, and she gently pushes me to learn how to be the partner she needs.

Ciara (2021-present)

I admit that I'm not certain what Ciara brings to the advisory board just yet. He skills at present include finding at least three ways to break something that I had previously thought was unbreakable, insisting that she is moments away from starvation, and complaining loudly about others.

Maizie (2019-present)

Maizie came to us as a blind kitten with these interesting eyeballs, which we had surgically removed in 2022 to prevent future complications and pain. I call her the "cute brute" because she's kawaii adorable and spectacularly ferocious. She reminds me that it's possible to hold two contrasting qualities at once and that gumption can remove a lot of barriers.