Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happiness Cat

I did a course of group therapy for women who had survived incest. The sessions were two and a half hours every week, with homework in between,for sixteen weeks. It was an intense experience, and when the time came for us to finish, our therapists held a graduation party for us with all sorts of surprises.

One of our activities was a give-away game in which a structured process was used for us all to receive gifts, and then have opportunities to trade with others if desired. [It didn't occur to me at the time, but looking back on the game now, I see it as a lesson in consent and autonomy]. I ended up with a bright yellow ceramic cat-shaped coin bank, painted with daisies and a very happy smile. The bank is one of a large number made for Dollarama (big dollar store chain), but because of the way I received it, it is very special to me and I cherish it. It's a very cheerful object, and I named it Happiness Cat.

Happiness Cat's true role was launched by a friend who, seeing my new acquisition, added a penny from her pocket so that Cat would have something inside. I saw the penny as a contribution to my happiness, from a friend, which seemed appropriate. And so the rule for Happiness Cat was born: contributions to my happiness are accepted from friends, but can also be made by me, with money that I have found on the ground, or in unexpected places, as a twist on the the "lucky penny" ritual. In fact, almost all of Happiness Cat's contents came this way. I am not generally good at keeping up daily rituals, but I have been gathering coins for Happiness Cat for three years now.

I did an inventory of Happiness Cat's contents for this post. Happiness Cat currently contains 59 pennies, 6 dimes, 3 nickels, 2 quarters, the outer ring from a twoonie and a foam happy face. There is no intended goal for the money. Just a happy cat with a bellyful of luck, and an aura of friends, resource and support.

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