Review by Lucy McCarraher, The Real Secret, on LinkedIn
This deceptively simple narrative dextrously weaves a tale of survival and renewal around an introduction to meditation and a conversation with a cat (or feline zen master).
I have to admit this last aspect made me a little wary as I started to read; I’m neither a cat lover nor a fan of literary anthropomorphic cuteness (at least not in adult books). However, what Kat Tansey achieves through this device is to seamlessly embed a discourse on meditative practice within her personal chronicle; to underscore the intense loneliness of the depressive reduced to almost zero human interaction; and to create two likeable, entirely “human” characters who add depth, not cutesiness, to her journey.
This account takes us through (the aptly named) Kat’s passage from high flying career woman to debilitated chronic fatigue syndrome sufferer and depressive. Her suicidal thoughts are presented without drama and the painful monotony of mental and emotional struggle without self-pity. Equally, her heroic and painful steps back to wellness are depicted with self-deprecating and often humorous honesty and the revelatory “conversations” with Poohbear come across as unaffected and authentic.
Choosing To Be (evoking Hamlet’s soliloquy as well as the Buddha’s teachings) is structured around the “lessons” of meditation under the technical headings of Ordinary Mind, The Hindrances and Buddha Mind, which make it an easy-to-follow and inspirational guide book. Tansey has also written an absorbing memoir with the flair of a fiction writer, which draws you effortlessly through her story and makes the learning seem incidental – until you reach the end and realise that the tale of a woman, a cat and a kitten has reminded you that there is a better way to live, and how to do it.
New Age Retailer
(Scroll down to Choosing to Be)
From Andrea Frazer’s column in Good Housekeeping:
In Choosing to Be: Lessons In Living from a Feline Zen Master, Kat Tansey talks about her journey from suicidal depression to enlightenment. She didn’t get there through retail therapy, extra marital affairs, popping out extra babies or moving halfway across the world. She got there by – are you ready for this – sitting still.
Along with her Maine Coon cat, Tansey learned to channel her inner Buddha and find peace within less than perfect circumstances. How? Simple! Everything she needed was in her. Peace wasn’t derived from her job. (Her dream business went bust.) It wasn’t from her health. (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome followed by major depression? Not exactly a recipe for happiness.) It wasn’t from her spouse. (He was awesome and supportive. But guess what? He wasn’t a miracle worker. Neither is mine and neither is yours.)
True peace came from doing the bravest and most painful thing of all: It came from quieting her mind and accessing her true Buddha nature which, as it turns out, is perfect. Good news! So is yours.
Review by Sharon Eden, Whacked Around the Head, on LinkedIn
At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to take to a book about a relationship between a woman and her cat. But this isn’t any woman… and this isn’t any cat. Within the first few pages, I was captivated by Kat’s compelling storytelling plus the wisdom and delicious nonchalance of her feline Zen master.
More-over, this book isn’t just about the relationship between them, although the master/student dynamic is key. It’s also about developing meditation practice… Thanks, Kat, I learned a thing or ten here!… and how Kat journeys from depression to find personal freedom and power. Never a linear progression, the loops, peaks and troughs are beautifully illustrated in Choosing To Be, as are the triumphs, providing a realistic road map for others.
I couldn’t put the book down!