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A female-appearing human pets a tuxedo cat. The photo is taken from behind the cat.

Tara and me enjoy a petting session some time in early 2023. Photo by JaneA Kelley

*taps microphone*

Hey, is this thing on?

Oh, there we are! Okay.

I’m coming to you after a long session of cleaning up three years’ worth of digital cobwebs to give you some news.

That’s right! Paws and Effect is back! And it’s a new beginning!

What was I doing all that time?

I guess I owe an explanation for the long absence. Or maybe I don’t, but I’m going to give a (brief) one anyway. As you probably recall, one of the last posts I wrote on this site was a huge update post–three thousand words of pandemic-inspired grief song after my lovely gentleman cat, Thomas, and my mother, died a less than a month apart. Then in 2022, my life exploded and I had the worst mental breakdown I’d ever had. I’ve never been the same since that breakdown because it broke my brain, too, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be the same again.

My broken brain got me fired from the job I’d had for almost seven years. They made a great effort to accommodate me–probably more than most companies would have done, if I’m being honest–because I had been a long-term, high-performing employee, and they really liked me. It was fair, but it also knocked me for a loop. I’ve never been fired from a job before, not even as a clueless teenager, so it was a hell of a blow to my self-esteem, too.

I’m still unemployed, eight months later. That’s what happens when you’re over 50 and you work in a tech-adjacent field, I guess.

So, this led me to a place where I started to do some real self-assessment. One of the things that happened during the course of my mental breakdown was that I came to realize I’d been masking ADHD and autism for my entire life, and I had to figure out who I was behind that mask. In the course of that self-assessment, I realized that the only time I’ve ever been happy is when I’ve been working with animals and the people who love them. And the itch to write Paws and Effect returned.

A black cat sits upright in a bright yellow reusable nylon bag with a receipt attached to it.

“I can haz piroshky nao plz?” Bella looks radiant against the yellow shopping bag, and no, she didn’t have any piroshky because they were MINE ALL MINE. Photo by JaneA Kelley

Are you going to change anything?

Well, yes.

The cats and I talked about it, and they said they’re fine with me taking over the mike as long as I let them have a turn once in a while and share lots of pictures and video of them.

I’ll still be offering cat health and behavior advice, but there will be some other content, too. I’ve seen a lot of cat-related news I’ve responded to on social platforms, and I’d like to continue doing that on this blog. If I’m going to spend my energy writing, I’d rather do it in my own sandbox, for me and the people who care about it, thank you very much, and not use that energy on a platform where it ultimately profits people and companies that do not need the money!

In addition to those two things, I’m probably going to post about experiences I have at the cat rescue where I volunteer. In the two years I’ve been a volunteer there, I’ve been amazed about a lot of good things happening in the rescue world, and I’ve met some special cats who inspired me to share their stories on social media, too. And I might share some of my favorite memories of my gone-before cat friends, too.

You’ll get to learn more about me in this new version of Paws and Effect. Since the cats were the authors for many years, my own experiences and opinions kind of took a back seat.

I hope to do medical and/or hospice foster when I have room in my place to do that, so that will certainly inspire some posts.

So, the writing will be in my (JaneA’s) voice rather than the cats’, there will be a wider variety of content, but one thing will never change, and that is I will always lead with compassion. There are pockets of severe judgey-ness in the animal advocacy, welfare, breeding, and rescue world, and I don’t think being moralistic and judgmental about how to care for animals helps anyone.

A tuxedo cat with white feet lies on her back on the top shelf of a cat tree, basking in the sun. Her left front paw is curled up and her right front paw is stretched out to the side.

This is one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken of Tara. Look at her, so relaxed that she’s lying belly up on the top shelf of a cat tree. You’d never know this was the same cat who didn’t come out from under the furniture for months! Photo by JaneA Kelley

Another story of a new beginning

I’m writing a memoir right now! It starts with the day I met Thomas and covers about 20 years of mental health challenges, self-discovery, trauma, and healing … with cats. The title right now is Still Alive, Still Smiling, and if I can get off my butt and keep writing, I might even be able to launch it in 2024!

One of the things they don’t tell you about writing a memoir is that there will be chapters you write with tears streaming down your face. So yes, it’s a slog sometimes, but it’s a happy slog because I finally get to tell my truth. For most of my life I’ve been silent about important interpersonal things and let people assume I’m okay with things that are not okay for far too long.

So that’s the latest dispatch from Paws and Effect HQ! Thank you for not disappearing forever because of my hiatus.