By Bernadette Bowman, Comedienne and LuxEco Advocate who writes the LIFE GOES RETROGRADE series.

My apologies for being a few days late with my third installment.

Last week was a doozy. I was told that my precious eighteen-year-old cat, Harry, was most likely suffering from multiple myeloma – in non-veterinary terms: a rare strain of cancer affecting his blood. Leave it to me to be blessed with an overachieving feline who has to be in the two percentile of the cats that actually get this disease.

After three days of completely morphing into Shirley McLaine in Terms of Endearment (stopping short only when I found myself trying to crawl into Harry’s carrier to make sure he was still breathing), visiting a very expen$ive oncologi$t who administered several undignified tests on my boy, and then getting the results of said undignified tests, I am happy to share with anyone who has a pulse and who can still hear that Harry does NOT have multiple myeloma.


(And thanks, Mercury in Retrograde for holding true to your promise of things not being said and heard the way were intended)

So, what does Harry have?

Who knows….but I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that it might  have to do with the fact that my cat is nearly one hundred in cat years.  As my father so aptly put it when I called him crying about Harry being stand-off-ish and cranky: “That cat is ninety-five years old!  Leave him alone. I’m only eighty-three and I wish everyone would leave me alone!”

(Thanks, Pop)

This week we begin an “all raw” diet for Prince Harry and I’m sure I’ll have plenty to write about it since, get a load of this, I’m a vegetarian and I just ordered a MEAT GRINDER from a place somewhere in Wisconsin called “The One Stop Jerky Shop” and will be using it to grind the carcasses, bones, and organs of free-range birds for my precious child’s meals.  As I said….I’m sure there will much to share about this experience.

And please feel free to sing a (chicken) heartfelt chorus of “What I Did for Love” here.

So, after all of last week’s drama, fear, and sleepless nights (which are never a girl’s best friend) this seems like the perfect way to segue into the second part of my thoughts about gratitude, and the rest of the lessons I’ve come to understand from the past year of having the abundance of time to really think about all of it.

Here goes….again:

1.) Life isn’t fair.  Sorry, but it’s true. Sometimes it is SO not fair but as one of my very wise therapists told me back in 1987, “Life is not fair. And as soon as you can accept this fact, your life will be so much better.”

Once again, I fought and fought this one (please refer back to Blog #1 and the Disney movie issue). Ironically, Alanis, it just didn’t seem fair. You mean, there won’t be a “happily ever after?”  Nope. Sorry. No guarantee of this.  But what you can do is live your life and stay in present time so that you are able to have a “happily ever RIGHT NOW.”  And a lot of these “right now’s” can add up to a pretty great life.

2.) The poem “Footprints” is so much more than a Hallmark car wash gift shop magnet (or a tacky 1975 junior high decoupage art project).

I learned that there was definitely Someone Smarter and Stronger running the show when I lost my beloved cat, William, back in October. The decisions I had to make and the strength and focus required to get me through that sad, sad day did not come from me. I was definitely being carried through it. All I had to do was ASK. Try it sometime

3.) Don’t take it personally if you can’t get hired at Starbucks.

4.) Don’t take it personally if the people who interview you for jobs are a lot younger than you.

5.) Don’t take it personally if you want to shove a Number 2 pencil into your right eye after an interview with someone who was a lot younger and whose eyes went completely into a blank and distant stare when you made a Brady Bunch reference.

6.) It’s okay to hate everybody. But not more than three times a week. You get four times if you have to be in the car driving on the freeway. But no longer than a minute at a time, and never while merging.

7.) Shop at Trader Joe’s and eat at home. You’ll save money, lose weight, your skin will look great, and your ankles won’t swell. Plus, they give away free samples. So does Costco. Bring a big purse.  Kidding.

8.) You’ve got time – get out and give back.  Now is the perfect time and wake up call to see that you aren’t as unlucky as you may think you are and that there are so many who have it worse than you do. Volunteering at a hospice or soup kitchen will prove this to you….it will change your life and really put just how abundant your life is in great perspective. And it won’t affect your unemployment benefits… me, they don’t ask about random acts of kindness on the Continued Claim forms….but maybe they should.

9.) You will find out who your real and truly invested friends are during this uncertain and precarious time in your life. For some, you might fall off of their radar completely due to lack of tangible “face time” at an office or after work activities. It’s okay. Choose quality over quantity….and speaking of which……

10.) You will be amazed and speechless and grateful when you see how people will come through for you when you’re not working and when you’re honest about it. Both old and new alliances. I can’t begin to express my gratitude for the generosity and flexibility of the wonderful people who have gone out of their way to help me still be able to look (Arnold for my roots and split ends; Cindee for those bikini waxes) and feel well (my amazing chiropractor, Dr. Steve) on my limited income, and I thank God every day for their huge compassionate hearts. Anne Frank was right. “People are basically good.”

And finally….

You may not be able to buy presents, but you will be present. (Thanks to by best friend Hillary for this one)

Because, to quote another Hallmark car wash gift shop magnet, “Today is a gift….that’s why we call it the PRESENT.”

I’ve always had a thing for car wash magnets…….

All contents copyright © Life Goes Retrograde by Bernadette Bowman. All rights reserved. No part of this column or the related blogs may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the author.


  1. I needed to read this today. I too, am struggling to find a job and keep things financially sound. A very wise woman told me yesterday, that being stripped of my possessions, (don’t even have a car), doesn’t mean being stripped of my identity. It’s a time of re-evaluating and coming up with my new and improved, identity for the next half of my life. This is a very hard concept. I am a person who takes care of things and makes everything better, NOW. I simply can no longer do this and I am learning a very hard lesson in patience. I trust that the Universe will provide, everything I need, when the time is right. I just wish the time was “right now.”
    Thank you for this, Bernadette. You’re a very wise soul.

  2. Your random acts of kindness picked me up this morning. Please grind some raw meat for me while you’re at it. You’re a good mommy. -d

  3. WOW…What a week you have had…thanks for sharing your amazing perspective on it. Nothing can grow and flourish endlessly unless its fully grounded in the Earth. I think your “grounded” way of thinking and perspective are the precursors to your own amazing growth and enlightenment! I will look forward to hearing about how they all enfold in future blogs!

    PS..Much love to your Harry! He is an angel on earth!

  4. Glad to hear that your old, cranky Harry is just showing his age. Yes, you must love him *very* much to be a vegetarian and grind his raw meat in a grinder from “The One Stop Jerky Shop”! He is blessed to have you.

    Bernadette, thanks for your insightful and funny words. You are hilarious.
    On todays menu: “Tofu pork chops and applesauccceee”!

  5. okay so happy to hear about harry. i am sure stanleys will be happy to hear too because having 3 weeping females on their bar stools is probably bad for business.


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