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Cat’s Not Dead

Carlos-PrettyBoy

It was an ordinary Saturday. Having had a busy week at work, I decided that I would sleep late and wake up when I was ready. My husband left for work early and I was stretched out across the entire bed with all of the blankets wrapped around me. Snug as a bug in a rug, you might say. I heard the door close as Mister Potts walked out and then all I heard was the hum of the circulating fan moving the cool air around while I lay bundled up. I had barely drifted off to sleep again when it started. Carlos the cat strutted into the room and around the corner of the bed. It was on! He had gotten the dog’s attention and she ran out of the room snarling and barking after him. She came bouncing back into the bedroom as if to say, “and stay out”, which he did not. I swear he stood around the corner listening for my breathing pattern to resume to a relaxed mode so he could start all over again. Two more times this animal nonsense happened and then I had given up.

I started my day cussing.  Damn these animals!  Most days we would have to pry the dog’s furry backside out of her kennel to get her outside before work because she likes to sleep in.  She is not a morning pup. As for the cat, typically in the morning nothing phases him except that he likes to watch us fill his food bowls, yes I said bowls as in plural.  He has his little morning snack, then off to sleep he goes.  He sleeps by day so that in the night he can work on his agenda.  That agenda, by the way, is finding ways in which to irritate me.  Some mornings it’s a complete roll of toilet paper unraveled into the toilet.  It may even be a roll of paper towels that rose up against him in the night making it necessary for him to shred every bit of its Brawny dignity.  It may be about pushing things off the dining room table that he feels are in the way of his 18 pound, fur covered, feline derriere.

Because I had started my day in a less than delightful way, I headed off to the music cave, which I share with Carlos; his pedestal that lets him see out the window is there along with his food.  On approaching my keyboard, Carlos was quickly reduced to “that damn cat!” That damn cat has been thinking outside his litter box!  He had relieved his bladder near my music equipment, making sure to give each cable that connected my keyboard to the amplifier a good strong dose of Carlos.  As I began to pull cables from the back of my keyboard, tossing them into the middle of the floor, El Gato Diablo (cat of the devil) strutted into the room as if to say, what’s up?

At 212 degrees, water boils and I learned on that day that I boil at 98.6 degrees when provoked by the cat.  It had been building all morning when suddenly I threw a handful of cables, shouting at the top of my voice, “get the hell out of here!  I’ll take your furry butt to the first animal shelter that will have you!”  That felt kind of good, I thought.  It felt so good, in fact, that I think this world would be a less violent place if people would open their mouths to yell more often. It certainly helped me!

I went to run errands away from home, away from the cat, away from the dog, away from civilization. I say away from civilization because my next chore was grocery shopping. The grocery store is as far away from civilized humans (or pets) as any one could be, in my opinion. I hate the grocery store on a slow day and this was far from a slow day at the store so… I gritted my teeth and wandered through the aisles. As I wandered I wondered what the animals were wrecking while I was away. I began to feel it, it being a smoldering anger that I walked away from moments ago. The more that I thought about my morning, the more the grocery store seemed like an oasis or even a sanctuary. By the time I reached the checkout lane, which was very long, I was nice to people. I even let a stranger cut in line in front of me without shoving my cart into them. (accidentally of course) Grocery shopping was somewhat therapeutic that day.

My husband called sometime later to ask how my day was going. My response was simple. My response was calm as I said through gritted teeth,

“well, the cat’s not dead”

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Thanks for stopping by!

Amy L. Potts

 

 

 

 

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You’re Beautiful!

 

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While making a quick stop at the grocery store one evening, I decided to stay in the car while my husband went in to pick up what we needed. The windows on our car are slightly tinted and I was sitting quietly with the window opened an inch or so. As my thoughts began to wander I began to hear someone singing in the car next to me. It was a young girl who was singing along with the radio, “You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful, you’re beautiful it’s true”. Each time the chorus came around, she sang it with more confidence than the time before. There came a point when I was no longer hearing the radio at all. I heard her voice and her voice alone. She had now progressed from singing “you’re beautiful” to singing at the top of her voice, “I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, it’s true”! I chuckled that night because I doubt that she knew she had an audience. Or did she? Every now and again I remember her and smile to myself.

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and I was thinking of this. This time I began to think of it in a different way. Perhaps she did know I was listening. Maybe she wanted the entire universe to hear her proclaim how beautiful she is. How wonderfully freeing it is to have that moment when you realize that you are beautiful. So many of us look to define beauty by the models we see in magazines. We want their skin tone, hair styles and body shape. We want people to notice us when we walk into a room because of our beauty. My confession is that I want Tina Turner’s long beautiful legs and wild hair. While at any given moment my hair can be untamable, my legs no matter how hard I try will never be long. Shapely? Shapely they are; I was told recently that I have “athletic legs”. Although meant as a compliment, I quickly flashed through all of the things I would have rather heard.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not”.

Is this not so true? I believe that resting inside each of us is a beauty that is waiting to be released. It’s a beauty that only you possess. It’s in the smile you give a stranger. It’s the warm hello you offer to a coworker in passing. It’s the acts of kindness that you perform even when you feel anything but kind. Deep inside you there is something wonderful, something beautiful. That something is YOU!

When you begin to realize that what it is that makes you beautiful, below the surface you have already begun singing, “I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, it’s true”. Take a look inside, reach deep and start belting it out sister! You ARE beautiful, it’s true!

Thanks for stopping by,

 

Amy L. Potts

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Got Gratitude?

I was asked again recently how and when I began listing my gratitude statements. I decided to dust off this old blog post for those who may not know the history of the “thankful posts”.

I walked into a counselor’s office several years ago and waited for her to tell me something wise, comforting; ultimately waiting for her to tell me what to do. I had lost my husband to cancer a few years prior and my best friend a couple years after that. As far as I could tell there was only one way and that way was up. I sat in her office for what seemed like an eternity hoping for those life-giving words. In one session I was determined to find out all I needed to know to move on, to move up and to step out with my new attitude. It didn’t happen that way. It took several months of questioning and trying to make sense of it all. The counselor didn’t give me any answers. In fact, she made me answer my own questions. She was only a sounding board and a very good one at that. But there was one session that was pivotal for me. The holidays were nearing and the intensity of my pain and loneliness was suddenly overwhelming. I walked in to her office that day and said, “I hate the holidays”. She grinned and said, “what did the holidays do to make you hate them so much?” That was it, I knew my counselor had not one ounce of mercy or compassion. And for the first time I became angry; verbally and visibly angry. It turns out that is just what I needed to do.

She asked me that day, for the rest of the hour, to begin naming things that I was thankful for. For several minutes the only thing heard in that room were the faint voices of people from down the hall and the occasional squeaking gears of the printer. Finally I began, with tear-filled eyes, to whisper one by one things for which I was thankful. I started with naming my little dog and continued to name things for the next ten minutes or so. I stopped and looked up as the counselor placed in my hand a piece of paper with a list of all the things I had mentioned. She told me to take that with me wherever I went and when I started to feel sorry for myself I was to keep adding to that list. This seemed like a crazy idea but it is the single thing that I have carried with me all these years. It seems as though gratitude was just what the doctor ordered. My sadness didn’t end overnight and it wasn’t an easy climb out. Giving thanks, though, changed my perspective and gave me a reason to keep moving forward.

Sometimes, still, I get caught up in thinking about the things I have lost, the friendships that have faded with time and distance and those things that I wish I had. When I do, it takes less time to get back on track than it did back then.

When I wake up in the morning, I am ultimately focused on finding at least one thing that I will be able to give thanks for at the end of the day.

This, my friends, is why and when I began my gratitude lists…

So how about you?

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The Long Road

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There is just something that keeps calling me back. Maybe it’s a fear that the good memories will fade with time unless I trace over and again the path to all I have become. Driving familiar roads making note of the things that remain; only older, warn and broken down. Grieving, in a small way, the things that are no longer there; houses, grocery stores, barns. Time seems the robber of memories. But what we do remember must be met with the reality that someone remembers those things differently, if at all. We remember events, people and places according to the effect that they had on our lives. Perhaps we remember them as obstacles in our path while someone remembers them as the challenge they needed to push them to achieve more. No matter how we remember those things, they are etched in our minds somewhere. Whether we choose to remember or not, they can creep to the front of our mind.

Most would not know about a little town in Iowa called Clarion. But when I hear mention of this community, I smile and my thoughts are quickly turned to Highway 3 and the straight route to Aunt Lois and Uncle Bob’s house. Turn left, cross the railroad tracks, go past the elevator and turn left once more. There on the left still stands memories that have been with me since I was a little girl. It is where Bob and Lois helped me to understand the Christ in Christmas. It was there that I rode ponies with my cousin Kevin and learned to ride a go-cart. Because of the distance between my home and theirs, I wasn’t able to go there as often as I would have liked but I was determined to stay in touch. I didn’t want them to forget me and I didn’t want to ever forget them. I wrote letters to my aunt and uncle and waited anxiously to receive a returned letter in the mail from them. When I would receive one of their letters, I would read them over and over again until the next one arrived. I would write about school and family and anything that I wished I could tell them in person. They encouraged me to keep writing and to keep working on my music. Lois and Bob were my cheerleaders and just what I needed at that time in my life. I have never lost contact with this dear family and as often as I can, I turn my car toward central Iowa and Highway 3 just to receive the warm hugs and to enjoy times of reminiscing. We talk about family, friends and faith. We talk about dreams and ideas and grandkids and anything that happened between visits.

I drove that same old route last week, not just for a visit, but to lay my Uncle Bob to rest. On my way into town I stopped my car and walked a few paces in to where I had stood in May of 2006 as we laid my dear Aunt Lois to rest. I stood there for a few minutes to thank God for her influence on my life. I recalled her laugh and how much I loved to hear it, wishing that I could hear it once more. I didn’t stay there for too long because it was cold and windy. I was on my way to meet with my cousins. It was the night of the visitation that is customary the evening before the final goodbyes are said. My uncle Bob, who inspired me with his zest for life at 95 years old was now gone. I immediately sought out Judy and my cousins to offer my condolences and to observe as what seemed to be the entire community coming to pay their respects. I heard people saying how much they loved Bob and Lois and the impact that they had made on so many lives. I was proud in that moment to be a part of this family. We spent lots of time together this weekend reminiscing. We laughed and we shared tears. So many memories and so much love in one family. I am so glad that I made this trip to remember and to learn more about the family that has been so kind to me and to so many.

The road back to Iowa changes with time. Barns that once were bright red and standing tall are faded and peeling if not completely gone. Houses that once were full of life stand empty and dilapidated with weeds so tall that it’s no longer possible to see the path that leading to the door. People and places that were my reason to travel are slowly disappearing.

Somehow, though, I am able to replay the laughter over and over again. I can retrace each step taken and each mile driven to keep those memories alive. I hope never to forget and selfishly…never to be forgotten.

I don’t know the roads that you have traveled in life. But I hope that as you read this, you are taken to a place in your mind that brings you fond memories. I hope that no matter where you’ve been that you have found a peace that passes all understanding and that you have found God in the midst of it all

This post was written by Amy L. Potts. Amy is a motivational speaker for church services and special events. She is passionate about empowering people to be all that they have been designed to be. Combined with humor, scripture and a dose of real life, she will encourage your congregation or event participants to get up and out into the community to encourage others.

You may contact Amy at 913-205-0301 or amylpotts@outlook.com

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Snap That Picture

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Stormy Weather

One summer day I was on my way home and noticed a bank of dark clouds rolling in from the west. I was thinking that I needed to hurry home to let the dog out before the storm. She is afraid of storms and at the first rumble of thunder she runs for cover under the bed. But as I turned the last corner toward home, I noticed how dramatically beautiful the clouds were.

Still thinking about the dog I headed on up the street toward home. Suddenly I realized that I would never see that same cloud formation again. I needed to stop and snap that picture. I didn’t have my “real camera” with me, but I did have my phone and the 8 megapixel camera takes decent pictures. So I turned my car around and found the perfect place to take that picture. I’m glad I did because only seconds later, the hole where the sun was peeking through was gone. If I had not stopped, I would have missed it altogether.

I have had many opportunities over the course of time when I have said, I should stop and take a picture of “that” someday. One that stands out in my mind the most is an abandoned farm home on the edge of a town called Quimby in Iowa. Every time I passed that house, I would wonder whose hands built that house. I wondered who prepared meals for the farmhands in that kitchen. I wondered whose laughter could now only be imagined. I wondered whose tears last fell to the floor as they left this home. I wondered all these things every time I passed by but never stopped to snap that picture. One day while driving in the country with my camera in tow, I decided that I was going to go and finally take pictures of this homestead. As I rounded the edge of town, my heart sank and I felt a pit in my stomach. The house was gone. It had finally been torn down and with it the imaginings of a family, a wood-burning stove, the smell of homemade bread from the oven; the image of the American farm family was gone.

I don’t want to wake up someday realizing all that I have missed out on because I didn’t listen to the inner voice prompting me to seize opportunity. I want to live a life that chases after opportunity with a “go for it” mindset. When the biography of my life is written, I want the title to be, “Yes She Did!”.

Yes she did…

try some things that weren’t successful

Yes she did…

stop to photograph stormy skies

Yes she did…

take time to sing the songs in her heart

And yes, I have been given many opportunities in my life; taking advantage of some and ignoring others. The regrets are of opportunities not taken, because I can only wonder “what if”.

So when the next opportunity presents itself, I may still think about “how and when”, but I hope not to look back with regret wondering what could have been “if only”.

I’m going to reflect on that summer day as the day that I decided that every time I get the opportunity, I’m going to stop and snap that picture!

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Write, I Am.

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One day as I was thinking about the people in my life, one person in particular came to mind. The more I thought about her, the more I began to think that I should tell her how much she is appreciated. The battle in my mind ensued. There was a little voice that said, “ah, she knows she is appreciated, she has a million friends and colleagues that affirm her every day”. That voice was replaced with reasons why my words of encouragement would really be insignificant. I won’t bore you with the list of all the reasons I thought I could avoid the thoughts.

After a rather lengthy battle I tossed my thoughts to the wind as if to say, “it probably doesn’t matter much; on with my day now! I headed out to run my daily errands and then headed home. On returning home, I decided to sit outside with the dog at my side and a good book in my lap. I no sooner got set up for comfort outside when the thought returned. It wasn’t like it was this great spiritual awakening or anything. It was more like the tiny nudge had been replaced with a booming voice, telling me to sit down and write a note of encouragement. In my attempt to make it quick and painless I started at the computer, composing an e-mail greeting. But each time I hit the back-space key to start over, the word “personal” began to prick my soul. So finally I gave in to the fact that this unexpected word of encouragement was going to happen, and that it was going to happen in a thoughtful, careful and tangible way. I got out my note cards and my favorite pen. In my best penmanship, which is not so pretty, I wrote a note of encouragement, placed it in the envelope, sealed it and took it to the post office.

The more I thought of it, I was reminded of people who have taken time over the years to write me letters; with their own hand, with their favorite pen touching the paper with each stroke of the hand as unique as the person writing it.

It is nice to get text messages, phone calls and e-mail, but there is just something so personal about receiving a handwritten message from a friend. It, to me, feels like having a part of that person with me and it is undeniable that the words are well thought out and meaningful because it takes more time than the average typist’s 55 words per minute.

Even though my life is more immersed in technology today than ever before, I still try to take time once a month to write a good old fashioned letter. With paper, my favorite pen and my questionable penmanship, I carefully write each word. I hope and pray as I place each letter in the mail that it will arrive in the hands of a person who needed “that word” at just that moment.

As you read this today, take a minute to think about someone who might enjoy receiving something from your heart, hands and home and write! No words will be wrong if you are thoughtful and write!

Thanks for stopping by!

Amy L. Potts