For as long as I can remember, there have been two constants in my life – my love of cats and my love of books. I was an extremely quiet and reserved being who much preferred to live vicariously through the endless mountains of books I owned than draw attention to myself. My cats were content to leave me in peace — as long as I provided a soft voice and warm lap, prying me out of my shell was not of importance to them.
The adults in my life, of course, did not have the same courtesy or intelligence as these creatures and always persisted in extracting a conversation out of me. I had to hear the ridiculous “cat got your tongue” more times than I care to admit, but in all truthfulness, it was not that I had nothing to say, it was that I preferred not to say it to them. The cats were far better listeners and judges of character in my young opinion.
Now, officially “middle-aged,” I have become a much more social and contemplative being and my internal clock was ticking away. I began to wonder what my purpose was. I had a career as an executive assistant for more than 25 years. Was that it? I just felt something was missing – an elusive connection that I could feel within my reach, but I just did not know what it was.
I am a strong believer in the synchronicity of Past, Present, and Future in one’s journey, but as we live the snapshots of life in “real time,” we don’t always understand the message in front of us until sometime later down the road. For example, I had always toyed with the idea of writing a book, but never pursued the dream in any serious format. Then, fate intervened in the form of two major events:
- Zee, my male Maine Coon cat, and Zoey, my female Bengal cat, fell madly in love and subsequently had a litter of kittens together.
- I was laid off in my late forties in an unstable economy and no longer had a steady paycheck.
It seemed the answer to my elusive search for my greater purpose was closer to my reach than I had realized; the subject matter was right in front of me. After the birth of the kittens, I began to send out a weekly series of emails to various people documenting the growth process of them with a humorous narrative that was complimented by photographs taken by my fiancé, Dan, who also was laid off on the same day from the same company.
These emails were sent out every Friday morning, and soon became a sensation, with many recipients suggesting I write a book. I was honored by the compliments, but I still was not seriously contemplating a career change. That was until “Week 7″ of the life of the kittens when the lay-off happened, and I had A LOT more free time….
The process that followed was a long and difficult road for me, filled with uncertainty and severe depression. I now had the time to write a book, but emotionally I was not capable of being an author with any authority or talent. Getting through the endless day was my main goal, and being that I couldn’t even muster the energy to smile, writing a sweet story filled with adorable kittens and humorous antidotes was a task too large for me to tackle.
As it turns out, my felines were far wiser than me and were about to teach me some invaluable life lessons.
It was through them that I began to see life through their mind’s eye and my mental healing began. Cats live in the moment. They do not dwell on circumstances, and, as long as they are loved, fed, have clean litter and a lap to nap on, then life is good. They always seemed to find a silver-lining moment in everything they encountered — and it was then that I realized I had a story to tell and an inspiring message to teach. I wanted to use my cats as more than a cute story about kittens climbing up a curtain. That is how my book, The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey – A Journey of the Extraordinarily Ordinary, came into being.
There is no doubt because of them that I am who I am today — a published writer who dared to follow a dream.
Copyright © 2012 Deborah Barnes. All Rights Reserved.