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I’m sure I’ve got you wondering what kind of New-Age nut job could possibly weave together a story about Zen, Mary Poppins, and a kitty litter box. You are not alone! When I approached my wonderful and patient husband with yet another completely random idea for a story, he lacked his usual subtlety in his eye-rolling.

But … I have an unusual, probably-not-very-interesting story to tell you to explain how I found the strange and random relativity among these three things … kind of like a multi-colored, mismatched, patchwork quilt made from the fabric of 10 different households. And I hope at least one person reading this will end up nodding their head with a peculiar sense of camaraderie (and maybe a little more peace in your own life) towards the end.

It all started with this quote: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and - SNAP - the job's a game!”  Mary Poppins said this, and I wish I had said it myself. It has been incredibly motivating to me. I heard this Mary Poppins quote about a year ago, and since then I have been able to adapt her philosophy to most of the jobs I hate, making them more bearable to get through by thinking of them as games.

Everyone has chores they hate doing. For me, it is scooping the litter box. We have two cats, and I am quite anal about making sure they have a clean and comfortable restroom. So, the litter box is a daily duty in our house. Ms. Poppins’ philosophy just didn’t work for the dreaded litter box duty, though – I still hated it.

Let’s take a left turn in the story here for a moment here. In a semi-related turn of events, I have been on a quest to find more peace in my life. Less drama, more peace. That’s kind of been my motto lately, following some big happenings in my life that made me realize my personal short list of those things that truly matter (and my list does include cat ownership – minus the litter box duty). So, during my quest for peace, I stumbled upon something called a Zen Garden, and everything changed after that.

A Zen Garden is basically a small box without a top. You fill the box with sand, add some pretty (and perhaps polished), rocks, and buy a small rake. It is believed that raking your sand and organizing your rocks in an aesthetically-pleasing way will relieve your stress and help you find peace. Eureka! I have my own Zen Gardens at home – in my basement, filled with litter and … not rocks. But, you get the point.
After my Zen Garden discovery, I started treating my three litter boxes as my own personal Zen Gardens – carefully leveling the “sand” (litter) after they were scooped and clean and fresh. It was very odd to realize how calming it really is to use a “rake” (scoop) to carve through the litter and create a nice, flat surface after I am through. Don’t believe me? I want all of you cat owners out there to try it, and see if it makes a difference in your hatred of litter box duty.

I realize how strange (and gross) this story is, but in the end, I found my own little way to deal with the never-ending chore of litter-box scooping.

But, it worked for me. And my life has become more “Zen” in the process.


Andrea Busche - Freelance WriterAndrea Busche is a twenty-something writer who works for an electric company by day.

In addition to writing, her interests include reading, hiking, snowshoeing, personal finance, and wine. She and her husband live 3 blocks away from Lake Superior in Duluth, MN in a very old house with their two cats.

Andrea is available for freelance writing opportunities; she specializes in informational magazine articles (any topic – she has covered everything from adoption to zoos), and satirical essays. To contact her with a writing request, please call (218) 391-9568.

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