Since starting her blog in 2003, Paws and Effect: Advice by cats, for cats and their people, JaneA Kelley has achieved great recognition and success. “Until about two weeks ago, I would have said that my biggest success has been the opportunity to meet an amazing community of cat writers and cat bloggers, and that I never thought I’d have managed to write a column every single week for nine-plus years without repeating myself relentlessly. I sensed that I’d made a difference for some of my readers — I’d gotten thank-you notes for the advice I’d shared and my Facebook fans seemed to be enjoying Thomas, Siouxsie and Dahlia’s posts. But I didn’t fully realize until my cat, Dahlia, got terribly sick just after I moved to my new home, just how many people love the Paws and Effect kitties and feel a really personal bond with them. An overnight stay at the emergency vet clinic followed by another night at a vet specialty clinic had me $2,500 in the hole (and counting), and I had no idea what the future held. I started a Chip-in, thinking maybe I’d get a few hundred dollars.” Kelley continued, “By the time I had to make the compassionate decision to release Dahlia from her suffering, just over a week after her e-vet visit, I’d raised the $3,000 and change I needed to pay for her care. People literally all over the world were praying for Dahlia and the rest of us, sending Reiki, making gifts — and whatever other kinds of good mojo they could send. I honestly had no idea there were so many people who read Paws and Effect, who followed us on Facebook … and who cared! I’m sorry it took my baby girl’s death for me to get a clue about that, but I’m grateful I know now. I’m tremendously humbled.”
Paws and Effect is based on answering letters from readers. JaneA shared, “At the beginning, the audience was so small that there were times I didn’t have any letters to answer, so I created a few, based on cat questions I’d gotten in other times and places. At the time, I was also suffering from episodes of crippling depression that lasted for months at a time, and it was so hard to keep writing when my brain kept on telling me the whole thing was pointless and nobody cared — and sometimes I could barely even think straight enough to string a sentence together. But somehow I gutted it out (and got treatment for my depression) and made it through the other side. Honest to God, I think my cats got me through; if it hadn’t been for them, I don’t know what would have happened.”
One of JaneA’s favorite memories has been, “The most incredible lesson I ever learned from an animal was from my cat Iris, who took me for a walk through the woods to find a turkey nesting area. It’s a pretty long story, but you can find it here: http://www.paws-and-effect.com/book-list/mamas-corner/iris-my-first-animal-teacher/ From that incident, I learned that animals do know what you’re thinking and they will (if they’re so inclined) help you find out what you need to know — as long as you’re willing to listen.”
JaneA is not only the Webmaster and Chief Cat Slave for Paws and Effect, but also volunteers her time and efforts to help animals in need. “My work with the SPCA has been primarily in the area of fundraising, and if it weren’t for people doing that work, there would be no way the SPCA could continue to rescue and care for animals in need. Every time I’m part of a successful event or campaign, I’m grateful that I’m able to contribute my skills and energy for the benefit of an organization that does such great work. The thing that motivated me to get involved in animal welfare work, and volunteer work in general, is my desire to leave the world a better place than I found it. What inspires me to continue is the volunteers and SPCA staff with whom I work: they’re an amazing group of people — passionate, dedicated, intelligent and creative — and it’s a privilege to work with them.” Kelley continued, “My life in the nonprofit and volunteer universe started on a summer day in 1999, when I quit a well-paying job as a web and courseware developer for a software company whose work was primarily government contracts in order to serve a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer [note: AmeriCorps VISTA is the official name] at a youth center whose activities were based around non-electronic games. During that year, I not only learned a lot about grant writing and schmoozing and what it’s like to work for a nonprofit, but I felt a sense of magic and wonder return to my life for the first time in many years. It changed my life and went a long way toward making me the woman I am today. Right now I work as a communications officer for a community foundation, and my primary responsibilities revolve around maintaining and expanding our web and social media presence. I also volunteer to conduct workshops on website development and social media outreach for other nonprofits; I love to be able to share my knowledge and help other organizations fulfill their missions.”
“I myself have never been able to find out what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.” ~ Rebecca West
“I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of supportive people in my life, and a lot of role models in various aspects of my life, but there’s one person who will always be my core role model, and that’s my mother. It’s because of her that I am the woman I am today. She taught me to read when I was a tiny little girl, made some incredibly courageous choices in her life, encouraged me to pursue my education, and vehemently refused to accept the notion that being a woman makes you somehow less capable of doing whatever you want to do. She’s a creative and compassionate person who’s always loved animals, and she passed those characteristics on to me, too.” Kelley explained.
Using that network of strong support, JaneA Kelley also contributes to Catster Magazine. “Writing for Catster gives me a chance to use my own voice instead of my cats’ voices, and I really appreciate having the chance to be known for being JaneA Kelley as well as for being the chief cat slave for Paws and Effect. The interaction on Catster’s website and Facebook page are completely different from the kind of conversation I have through Paws and Effect. Not only that, but my fellow Catster bloggers and the staff at Catster HQ are pretty awesome, too.”
“I was on a panel at BlogPaws. It was the first time I’d spoken at a conference, so I felt a little bit intimidated. The funny thing about speaking at conferences, for me, is that no matter how much I prepare and no matter how confident I am that I know my stuff, I can’t help but feel like I’m doing a lousy job while I’m in the process of giving the presentation. It’s a real relief when people come up to me afterwards and tell me that they liked my talk or that they learned something.” JaneA explained. “I spoke at the 2011 CWA (Cat Writers Association) conference. My workshop was called WordPress 101, and it was for people who were interested in starting a blog or a website but didn’t quite know where to begin. I’ll be giving my WordPress 101 workshop at the 2012 CWA conference, as well as a follow-up, WordPress 102, to answer questions from people who have some experience but want to know about some of the more advanced stuff I couldn’t talk about in the 101 workshop.”
“I’d really love to be able to make a living as a professional cat writer-blogger-teacher-workshop giver-whatever. Paws and Effect has been a labor of love since day 1, and I’ll keep writing Paws and Effect as long as I’m able to do so, whether or not I earn a living through it. But if I could focus all the energy I give to my day job to being a cat writer and cat advocate, I’d feel like the most fortunate woman alive.” Kelley also has dreams of opening a hospice/sanctuary for special needs felines. “I was inspired to do this through the memory of my first cat, who died from complications of FIV. My recent experience with Dahlia’s illness and death helped me to see that I am emotionally and spiritually equipped to do this kind of work, and I believe that just as everyone deserves to be lovingly midwifed from the womb into the world, everyone deserves to be lovingly “midwifed” through the transition from life to death. This goes for our beloved animal friends, too. It’s a spiritual thing for me, and I’d love to see that dream come true.”
JaneA Kelley’s writing is a labor of love. JaneA shared, “I believe there’s a lot more to life than what we can perceive with our five basic senses. My intuition and/or openness to that possibility has been an incredible asset in my work with animals — and in my relationships with people, too.”
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