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BIG LOVE. Happy First Birthday to HUDSON RILEY

July 6, 2016

You guys. Yesterday, my baby angel Hudson Riley turned ONE.

It quite literally seems like just yesterday I fell in love with him at the NKLA animal shelter and brought him home. The pic below is his first day with me… playing with necklaces, BEFORE getting stuck under the dishwasher. (So help me God.)

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I wanted to write this post today in celebration of Huddy boo for many reasons. Not necessarily just because it’s his first birthday and all I can think about is showering him with love, but because he changed me. Big time. And I haven’t written much about that on the blog at all.

But it’s true.

I don’t know if you can relate, but some things are so incredibly dear to your heart that it’s almost scary to write about them because it feels, well… too vulnerable.

Right? You never thought you’d hear me say that, after my eating disorder memoir, my posts about post-workout vagina wipes (lol), or my long-winded Instagram captions and blog posts about heartbreak, betrayal, getting cyber bullied, insecurity, and more.

But sometimes writing about Hudson is just that. Too vulnerable. I love him so much it splits my heart into millions of pieces and makes it ACHE.

And yes, I know he’s a cat. A cat! He’s not a human, not a child, not a being that can communicate with words or even a being that’s really supposed to leave the house. But let me tell you a little bit about how and why this little cat has stolen my heart.

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Story time.

I grew up in a household with no animals. My three siblings were a lot older than me, and I spent most of my time playing and having a blast — but I knew something was MISSING.

From my earliest memories, ALL I wanted was an animal. It was mainly a dog that I begged for, but I felt that any animal would do. I also wanted my parents to have another child but that never happened either. 😉

The closest thing I ever got to having an animal was having a few fish. And even though they were in their bowl, in water, kinda hard to connect with, I felt deeply connected to them. I loved having them but I knew I wanted and needed more. A deeper connection.

Fast forward to 2015.

I was 24, living alone for the first time, and still desperately wanting an animal. Only this time, I was terrified to get one because I had never even lived in the same house as an animal. I was awkward around dogs and cats, semi-terrified of large animals, and basically didn’t trust myself to take care of my OWN needs — let alone a small, living, breathing, furry creature’s needs.

Also, I was traveling all the time, writing a book, running a business, recovering from an eating disorder, going through a breakup, regretting moving out of New York City, and trying to keep my head above water.

But regardless of the obstacles, certain signs kept popping up and pointing in the direction of me getting an animal. Every day that passed by my desire got stronger and stronger. I moved into a new building, and while dogs were against the rules, cats were welcome.

joked about getting a cat when I first signed my lease… Full knowing that even if it was a cute idea, it wasn’t going to happen.

Shortly after, an Indian energy worker who was in LA visiting a friend told me that I needed to have a cat around me in order to tap into my full creative potential, find success, and fully be myself.

Again, I cracked up. A cat?! Where was that coming from?

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Planting the Seeds…

But I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. Come July, I was manically researching animal shelters and cat adoption options online. After one failed attempt of driving to a horrifically unorganized (and unclean) Petco in the dead center of Hollywood, I was sort of discouraged.

The next day I was having lunch and a work date with my friend Nile at Coral Tree, and when we got our laptops out to start working I immediately started searching cat adoption centers again. I was OBSESSING, and for no apparent reason. It didn’t even feel in my control… It was just happening, and there was nothing I could really do about it but go along with it.

At that point, I was desperate to find an adoption center that would allow me to adopt ONE cat instead of two. The “failed attempt” from the previous day had to do with the fact that they wanted me to adopt two cats at once… And I just didn’t feel ready for that.

No Kill LA popped up as an option nearby, and I called them to see whether I could adopt just one cat. They laughed at me like “Ummm yeah, obviously,” and my heart started beating a little faster. I knew. I just KNEW it was going to be the day.

I basically said to Nile: “I’m going to this adoption center right now if you want to join me, I’m leaving NOW, I’m obsessing hardcore and this needs to happen,” and she came along for the ride. (She rocks.)

Meeting the Hudderson.

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When we got there, we waited a solid two hours to meet any of the cats. There were about 20 cats, 2 kittens, and a LONG line of people in front of us. But before we got to meet the cats, we walked around and checked them all out in their little cat “condos” (a.k.a little boxes in the wall where they’re kept until they are adopted).

I saw Hudson through the glass and my heart melted. I mean MELTED. #MELTED.

He was cute as F*CK. He was basically a miniature one pound ball of white and grey fluff. And he was sleeping curled up with his brother Cooper. SNORING.

The rest of the cats were cute and sweet too, but I knew. I knew, knew, knew, knew, knew. He was my boy.

While we were waiting, I was nervous as all hell. I was panicked that someone would adopt one or both of the kittens. I knew I wanted to raise a kitty from the beginning of its life to establish that bond, and I was freaked out that everyone else adopting that day would feel the same way.

After waiting what felt like an eternity, the Asian couple in line before us came down the stairs with Cooper, and I basically flipped. “Why did you choose Cooper? Why not both kittens? What is his demeanor like? Do you really want to separate them? Why not Hudson? What’s his personality like?”

They legit did not speak English so that conversation ended quickly.

When we went upstairs, the volunteer told us that Hudson, Cooper, and their other brother (who had been adopted that morning) had JUST been brought to the shelter that day. They had barely been there for 6 hours by the time we arrived.

Then I started to realize why I was so manic about getting to the shelter that day, even though I thought there had been no apparent reason — right in the middle of my work day, right before I was leaving for my cousin’s wedding for the weekend, right after moving into my own apartment and barely having furniture yet, hadn’t even showered after my workout that day, etc., etc.

Hudson was the reason. He was there, and somehow his energy pulled me there. To that shelter. On a Wednesday afternoon in the middle of West LA. 

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Huddy was the only kitten left that day. Both of his brothers had been adopted, and all the other cats available were at least one year old. Even Hud’s biological mom was there, and SHE had just been adopted too. He was a solo kitty cat by the time I scooped him up.

When we took him out of his little cat condo to be held and play on the cat tower, it was game over. HE FELL ASLEEP IN MY HANDS.

The moment I held him in my arms I knew. He exuded this extremely calming, sweet, wise, loving, kind energy. It radiated off of his body with literal HEAT.

When he was with me, I felt this strange but very poignant wholeness. I wholeness I hadn’t felt in so long… Since probably I was a little girl, and even then I don’t know where I would have gotten it from.

I told the volunteer that he was mine, I was sure of it, and when we went downstairs to sign the paperwork I started missing him terribly.

It was ODD. A girl who had never had an animal in her life, impulsively committing to adopting a kitten, and missing him ALREADY after holding him for five minutes and deciding to bring him home.

But it was reality. I was already hooked.

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How he’s changed me…

See, here’s the hard part. This is the part that makes me feel vulnerable to the point of being afraid to even share this… Because I know he’s an animal, and whether you do or do not have an animal, I think it depends on many, many circumstances as to whether you’ll be bonded to your animal in the insanely close kind of way I feel with Hud.

Here are the factors that add to my major closeness with Hudson:

a) we live in an apartment just the two of us, so immediately our bond was intensified because it’s JUST us. 50/50. He’s half of our household, and he knows it! (Although he knows he is the total one and only king.) I don’t have a boyfriend, my family doesn’t live in LA, and while I have people here a lot — it’s us two here for the vast majority of the time. He KNOWS he is hugely important to me in that way.

b) he is SMART AS A WHIP. Smarter than me, no doubt. He knows how to push my buttons but he also knows how to exude that loving, insanely deep energy and give so much love exactly when I need it most

c) i spent an inordinate amount of time with him for the first 6ish months of his life… so we became bonded like crazy, developed a routine, ate meals at the same time, fell asleep at the same time, etc.

d) i started treating him like a human from day one. Probably because I had never had an animal before… I didn’t know there were any other options. When other people are over, Huddy is one of the crew. He sits in a circle with my girlfriends. He falls asleep on people’s laps, and gives kisses on the mouth like an actual human

e) his personality & my personality were somehow meant to be, and it’s WEIRD how much understanding can go down between our four little eyes

f) he has turned me into a far more selfless person… now i feel far more equipped to have patience when emergencies happen / when things don’t go my way / when something with him “gets in the way” of my schedule. I guess you can say I’ve grown up a lot because of him. 🙂

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I get the hugest kick out of him. He is beyond smart, hilarious, playful, and also can be intensely serious (which is also hilarious).

Also, I was never a homebody before. Ever. I was actually never, ever home much at all before Hudson. He has changed my entire routine in the best way… He helps me enjoy life more, slow down, and reminds me what’s really important in life.

When I am anxious, all I need to do is think about him and I feel calm. When I’m overwhelmed when I am working from home, all I need to do is get down in his little sunny spot by the window with him, pet him for a few, and instantly be reminded that life is about being happy and loved — not being stressed.

He has also made me a mama, and I’m realizing more and more every day that my “maternal instinct” if you will is very strong, and that I love SO deeply it takes over my life in a crazy good way.

Huddy reminds me on the daily what’s important in life. And he also is CRAZYYYYY intuitive and all he needs to do is glance at someone and I can tell whether he likes them or not.

ANYWAY. I could go on and on forever and ever. Today Huddy turns one. My little angel, love nut, snuggle bug, everything. I will deal with white fur all over my yoga clothes until the end of time as long as it means I have my Huddy boo. 

Do you guys have animals?! Cats, dogs, fish, horses?! Would love to hear about your bonds with them and if you can relate to my crazy closeness with my little boy.

ALSO… If you’re thinking about adopting… DO IT. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made in my entire, entire, entire life.

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