You are about to pass the 80-day mark of the 100-day journey that I challenged you to on February 5th. How are you feeling? Do you need to keep doing what you are doing? Do you need to make some shifts or changes? Whatever it is, I encourage you to continue this journey through the end. There are 20 days left, you can do it. Let’s go.
Here is my Chicken Soup for the Soul submission….what do you think?
He sat alone in his cage. Another day. Another meal. How had he ended up in a small cage surrounded by loud, strange cats and nice but strange people called volunteers?
She sat alone 600 miles away, looking at her computer. Time to move again. She didn’t know much about Buffalo, New York, but she knew there would be snow, lots of it. After 7 years in Washington, D.C. without a pet, she longed for one. She missed cuddling with her previous cats – Samantha and Sassafras. Samantha passed while she was in Kentucky, and Sassafras passed in California. The DC job had too much travel to be fair to a pet, but the new position wouldn’t have as much travel, so it was time. She looked on the Buffalo Animal Shelter’s website to see who needed her.
Knowing the stories about how black cats were mistreated, she stated that she would be happy with a black, adult cat. There was one available said the kind lady volunteer. However, the kind lady told her about another cat that had been with the shelter for 6 months. He was getting anxious, and the volunteer was afraid that he would soon become unadoptable. Would she consider a gray tabby cat instead? So, on her first Friday in Buffalo, she drove to pick up the gray tabby cat.
The gray tabby cat, named Cory by the volunteers, was 16 pounds and didn’t like all the cats and noise around him. When the lady looked in on him, he turned his back on her. She said, “Dude, it’s you and me. I’m all you got, so you better learn to like me.” He looked back over his shoulder and stared at her. And that is how Cory the Cat adopted me.
I paid for him, drove him to my new loft, and unloaded him and all the cat supplies. He walked out of the carrier, sniffed around for a bit, and then settled down on my best couch, the one with the beautiful Italian linen. I looked at the two cat beds that I just purchased and questioned if they would ever be used. They wouldn’t. At bedtime, I told Cory T. Cat, “It’s time for bed.” He looked at me, got down off the couch, and walked to the bedroom. He jumped on the bed, where he slept that night and many more on my right shoulder, purring pleasantly in my ear.
His first weekend in the new loft was exciting. As I unloaded moving boxes, he played hide and seek with the mounds of wrapping paper, and jumped in and out of the boxes. He enjoyed living in the loft. The 12-foot windows gave him great ‘cat television’ as he watched the birds flying around him. The long hallway was his soccer field where he ran jingle balls up and down it. The living area with the couches, footstools, and tables served as a great obstacle course when he played with flying toys. In no time at all, he was down to 12 pounds, a weight he has kept since.
At Christmas, I put up a small tree on the breakfast table. Cory T. Cat immediately assumed the tree was for him so I chose wooden ornaments. Twelve of the ornaments I placed on the tree were Olive Wood ones that I picked up in Bethlehem many years before. Cory became obsessed with two of these – one showing the Baby Jesus, and one showing the Holy Family in the familiar crèche/manger scene. No matter how many times I put them on the tree, he would pull them off, roll over them, love them with his face, and then lay on them. He never bothered any other ornaments or the garland or lights, but he would not leave those two ornaments on the tree. So, I left them loose under the tree. Each evening, he would roll on them and then lay on them and sleep.
Our companionship grew. We played together, watched television together, watched the snow and sites from the window together, and got to know each other. He ‘helped’ me read my books, and ‘helped’ me type on my laptop. When the Buffalo winters were at their worst and all the birds were gone for the season, I would play YouTube videos of birds on my laptop for him. He would enjoy them while I read books, as we waited for spring.
Two years later I received word that I was moving again, this time to Honolulu. I was worried about the move for Cory T. Cat. He hated loud noises and being crated up in his carrier to go for his regular nail clippings. How would he survive a long plane trip? Also, there was a 4-month quarantine before he could join me. How would he do in foster care after having been abandoned once before? Would he think I was abandoning him?
I moved to Honolulu in November. Cory T. Cat joined me in February. After twelve hours in a crate, he walked out as if he hadn’t just flown all the way across the country and halfway across the Pacific Ocean. He wandered around and found the bed. I joined him there, and he quickly settled down on my right shoulder and started purring as if no time had passed at all.
The Honolulu condo is very different from the New York loft. Along with bedroom windows, complete with a cat tree to watch the birds and the neighbors, and kitchen windows complete with a counter for soaking up the sun and watching the children play in the pool below, there is a screened-in lanai. It looks over palm trees where doves and other birds sit and daily ‘talk’ with Cory T. Cat, who ‘talks’ back to them. Cory T. Cat is kept busy socializing with the birds, the children, and all the neighbors.
This Christmas I took out my decorations and sat up a small tree on the kitchen counter for Cory T. Cat. As I rediscovered my Olive Wood ornaments again, I wondered, would Cory T Cat remember them? As a test, I put them on the back of the tree, and then pushed the back of the tree against the window.
When Cory T. Cat got up from his nap, he walked over to the tree and sniffed it out. Almost immediately, he started head butting the tree away from the window until he could get behind the tree. Once there, he found his two favorite ornaments – Baby Jesus, and the Holy Family crèche/manger scene. He pulled them off the tree and nudged them around until they were at the front of the tree. Then he rolled over them again and again. Soon, he had settled down for a nap on them. Cory T. Cat may now be a Hawaiian cat, one that loves watching kids in the pool and talking with birds on his lanai, but, he has never forgotten his special ornaments on his tree that signaled his Christmas season.
She Sights A Bird From Emily Dickinson
She sights a bird – she chuckles.
She flattens, then she crawls.
She runs without the look of feet.
Her eyes increase to balls.
Her jaws stir, twitching, hungry.
Her teeth can hardly stand.
She leaps, but Robin leaped the first
Ah pussy of the sand.
The hopes so juicy ripening
You almost bathed your tongue
When bliss disclosed a hundred toes
And fled with everyone.
Cite: The Sophisticated Cat by Joyce Carol Oates and Daniel Halpern
This week’s writing assignment for me will be writing an article about Cory T Cat to see if I can come up with anything for Chicken Soul. Samantha Cat and Sassafras’ stories have been published, so I think I should try to publish a Cory T Cat story too. Any favorites that you have?
Last Sunday’s writing exercise was to ‘write your eulogy exercise.’ The idea behind the exercise was to 1) write the eulogy, 2) review it, 3) find the gaps and think about what you wished it said, and 4) change your life to fit it. The idea behind the exercise is to decide how you want to ‘live your dash.’ Several years ago, the poem, “The Dash” was written. The idea was your tombstone will have at least 3 things on it: date of birth – date of death. Your life, and how you chose to spend it will be lived within the dash in the middle.
While I’m great at creating, implementing, and completing plans, strategies, GNATS, timelines, etc. for projects, programs, and problems in my professional life, my personal life is ruled by opportunities that present themselves seemingly serendipitously. I wouldn’t have it any other way. However, it makes it difficult to create personal plans more than a few months or a couple of years out. Because of that, this project was an interesting one to complete. What do you think of my results?
Dr. Sheila Embry was born in 1959, a time when the country was in transition – out of the post-World War II rebuilding and family boon, into the cultural unrest of the 1960s, and the women’s movement of the 1970s. She was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and attended J. B. Atkinson Elementary School, Western Junior High School, and graduated with honors from Ahrens Vocational and Technical High School.
After high school, she began her own transition, moving to Southern California, attending Chaffey Community College in Rancho Cucamonga for a year, attending Riverside Scientology for a year where she graduated with State of Clear. Then she settled into getting business degrees (BA from McKendree, MA from Webster, DM from University of Phoenix), marrying, divorcing, losing a soulmate, caring for family, and enjoying decades of adventures along the way. Her professional life included working for Hilton Hotels in her early years, and the federal government in her middle and later years where she worked for U. S. House of Representatives, U. S. Department of Justice, and U. S. Department of Homeland Security. Along the way, she lived in Kentucky, California, Virginia, New York, and Hawaii, while also living temporarily in Texas, Florida, Colorado, Utah, and Jamaica. Additionally, she enjoyed her travels to Alaska, Israel, and too many Bahamas and Caribbean islands to list here.
Sheila chose to live a long life, because, as she said once, “if I had to work for 40 years, I wanted to enjoy the same amount of healthy time in retirement.” She liked to boil things down as simply as possible, once describing her life as
- in my 10s, I survived
- in my 20s, I married
- in my 30s, I loved
- in my 40s, I developed
- in my 50s, I wrote
- in my 60s, I danced
- in my 70s,
- in my 80s,
- in my 90s,
- in my 100s,
Her life ended on her birthday reuniting her with over 100 family and friends who had traveled before and served as her personal cloud of witnesses throughout her lifetime. When asked how she wished to be remembered, she stated, ‘if my life hasn’t already answered that question, there is nothing I can add now.” She was xxx years old.
In the past, I’ve written about making resolutions, setting goals, making plans, and setting your sights higher. Over the years, I’ve kept most of the resolutions, made many goals, changed many plans, and obtained sights I never expected. This New Year’s Day though, I’m feeling…reflective.
So many celebrity deaths that felt personal even though I may not have met the person; so much….change and not all for the better, got me to thinking about an old writing exercise. The exercise is to write your eulogy. Another exercise is to write you tombstone. I’ve always tried the second exercise. One year I wrote, ‘She lived, she laughed, she lasted.’ Another year I wrote, ‘She really tried.’
So for this week, I think I’ll try the ‘write your eulogy’ exercise. The idea behind the exercise is to
- write the eulogy
- review it
- find the gaps or think about what you wished it said
- change your life to fit it
What do you think? Are you interested in trying this with me?
Once I finished my doctoral program, I started this blog. It wasn’t meant to meet any standard or be professional. It was meant to serve as a storage container for my stream of consciousness thoughts and for notes from books I’ve read and enjoyed. It started weekly, then moved to random posts, then moved to postings every other day (2013), then every day but Sundays (2014), then only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays (2015), and every day (2016). The posts have been self-published through Create Space as annual yearbooks:
- Sheila Says 2015: Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays
- Sheila Says 2014: No Blogs on Sunday
- Sheila Says 2013: Odd Facts
- Sheila Says 2012: Random Thoughts
- Sheila Says 2011: A Myriad of Musings
- Sheila Says 2010: From Doctor to Author
- Sheila Says 2009: From ABD to Success
My thinking about this blog is if I’m thinking about things, others may be as well; or if I’m reading books, others may want to know about them too. This year, I spent a lot of time writing about Hawaii and the South Pacific, my new home. Over the years, I’ve heard from several of you when certain posts resonated. What I’ve discovered is I never know what subject will create emails, facebook comments or blog comments. However, I’m grateful for each of them.
As I close out another year, I want to say thank you to all who take a moment to read a post, to like it, to comment on it, or to mention it to me when we chat. Hugs to you all and here’s to a great 2017!
Enjoy this great youtube video of the song from which I took the title: