Saturday, June 15, 2013

Naughty and nice

            When my nephew was eight, the whole family was gathered around a table in a fancy restaurant.  John sat next to me and as we traded stories, he leaned over and grinned.  "Say something funny, Aunt Katie....just make sure it's appropriate."
          Yes, I can be a bit naughty sometimes.
          In one of Chuck Spezzano's books, he defines naughty thus: it brings delight in its fun and outrageousness.  It adds humor and life to the party, refreshing and jump-starting the routine in our lives.  Naughtiness is winsome and playful, dancing around the edge of appropriateness, but rarely going as far as an infraction.
          My mother always said she wished I had a child as ornery as I once was, but this time around it came dressed in a fur coat.  Jhoti came into my life nearly five years ago while I was living in Big Sur.  Adopted as Esalen's garden cat, she soon purred and pounced her way into the hearts of many.           
          As a kitten, Jhoti's life was filled with adventure.  She rarely slept through the night and often woke me by nipping my nose or patting my face.  She scratched my bedspread and hung by her claws on the door screen.  Because it looked like fun, she jumped into the muck-covered pond, climbed the highest tree in the rose garden and daily rolled around in the dirt.  She skipped along behind me as I walked through the herbs and scampered up my back to sit in the hood of my jacket as I snipped rosemary and thyme and oregano.  The guys on the crew would carry her around on their shoulders and she would nibble their ears in thanks. 
          Real life doesn't follow any rules and neither did Jhoti. 
          Then or now.

          We traveled back to Ohio together and since then she has rarely left my side.   When I teach yoga classes, more often than not, she's my assistant, weaving her way through my students' legs and plopping down on an inviting mat.  She loves sticky notes, so I'll wad one up and toss it to her as we begin practicing.  Delighted to be the center of attention, Jhoti will play fetch and carry with some lucky person until she tires and lays down to watch the rest of the "yoga show." 
          Sometimes Jhoti's attention seeking and naughtiness distracts me, but one of my students reminds me that part of her yoga experience involves playtime with my middle child.  Just this morning, there were only two students, so I unrolled an extra mat in the hopes that Jhoti would occupy it and leave Melanie and Doris' alone.  True to form, Ms. Naughty sat next to the mat as if to say, "Have we met?  I'll get on that mat when I want to."
          I passed a dish of angel cards to the ladies and they each chose a word on which to focus as we practiced.  Jhoti looked up at me with curiosity, so I randomly chose a card for her as well:  "Birth."
          "You best not have any kittens," I laughed.  "But you're spayed, so no worries there."
          As I went back to my own mat, I mixed up the cards and dipped my hand into the dish.  Naturally, I pulled the identical "Birth" card from the pile. 
          "You better not have any kittens," Doris chided playfully.
          "No worries there, either," I replied. "Jhoti and I will have new beginnings elsewhere."
          Jhoti reminds me that playtime is essential and if I don't stop to drop on the floor and roll around with her, the fires of defiance will soon ignite.   She warns me, though.  First it's a meow, then a body slam, then she'll jump onto the book, the manuscript, or the knitting pattern I'm reading and sit her big bum down until I pay attention.  (All you cat people can relate, right?)  Still, Jhoti has such a big personality and is so much fun, I don't mind a little naughtiness now and then. 
          She knows her limits....and mine.
          Earlier this week I was sleeping in and Jhoti wanted her breakfast.  The aforementioned activities quashed, she enlisted the help of her little brother, Forest, who is too sweet to do anything more than gently lick my face.  True to form, Ms. Naughty proceeded to show Forest how it's done and jumped into my gorgeous new fichus tree, knocking it to the ground and dumping nearly all the dirt.
          That did it.
          I started my day earlier than I had wanted, but Jhoti showed instant remorse by watching my every move as I cleaned up her mess....and she has been an angel ever since, curling up with me while I read, sitting by the window and watching me garden, waiting for me by the side door whenever I come home from running errands.
          I always say to my little friends in yoga class, "A little naughty is all-righty with Katie."  Yes, Jhoti can be mischievous, but she's also very nice to have around. 

Ms. Naughty a.k.a. Jhoti

Naughty Katie, age 4