The Power of Two

I gave this speech in Toastmasters and here’s the short version:

Where is he?!! He was just here on the balcony and now he’s gone! I’m sure he didn’t jump, he’s not in the house. Maybe he fell? Then I looked to the right and saw him, sauntering across the barrel tile roof.

Him, being my 11 year old………cat named Edmund. A cat on the roof is nothing unusual, but this story is different.

Edmund came into my life 11 years ago and I named him after Sir Edmund Hillary. He has lived up to his namesake being the consummate explorer. Inside, no bag or box is left unturned, or cabinet door unexplored. Outside he’s had a crab claw stuck in his head, batted repeatedly at an Indigo snake (non-venomous) till it uncurled and “stood up” to look down at him.

His most famous adventure was early one morning when a bobcat emerged from the preserve and came face to face with Edmund. They had the great cat stare down where each one held his pose and didn’t flinch. Finally after what seemed like an eternity, the bobcat slowly backed up and returned into the preserve, yielding the yard to Edmund.

Combine those experiences and more with 17 pounds of Siamese and you have some serious catitude.  He was big, bad, fearless and I loved it.

Last year Edmund faced his toughest adventure yet. He was diagnosed with diabetes. His 17 pound bruiser, big bad cat frame dwindled to a mere 10 pounds. Those powerful legs and muscles that propelled him everywhere, were eaten away to the point he could barely walk. A few steps was all he could take at a time. He would pee on the floor because he couldn’t make it to the litter box in time. Then he would lay in it because the floor was wet and he couldn’t get up.

Watching him go from the Big E to incontinent and frail was extremely, extremely hard.  At times I wondered if we’d win this fight…….

So what got Edmund well from being incontinent and barely walking to carousing on the roof? Well, the two shots of insulin a day and special diet are a help, but I got Edmund the best medicine…..

A 3 year old cat named Jinx. I immediately changed her name to Joy as that is her role in this family; to bring Joy to Edmund. She is vibrant, climbs up and over everything, and most important was faster than Edmund.

Edmund has always been king of the house and he would attempt to chase her. However, he couldn’t catch her. He would often slip, fall or she would just jump on something tall and look down at him. That would really piss him off!! He would look up at her with a look of disgust and would chuff at her. He was not used to be second best and didn’t like it at all!!

Day after day, month after month, he became better and better to the point now where he is king of the house once again. He easily gets on the bed, the kitchen table, the couch, the coffee table; everywhere Joy used to get away from him.

The roof was always her safe haven though. Till that one day that began this story, when he had enough of watching her go and he too had to go.

And that is the power of two! That someone who inspires you, drives you, motivates you to do the things you need to do, want to do, or just plain wouldn’t do on your own.

It’s that brutally honest friend who will tell you the truth; Phil, that wasn’t your best speech, you can do much better. Or the one who calls you while you’re recovering from foot surgery and tells you the running schedule and which inspires you to work harder in therapy.

History is full of the examples of the power of two: DaVinci and Michelangelo, Microsoft and Apple, Coke and Pepsi, etc. It doesn’t always have to be a polite relationship; competition can be great for innovation.

And of course, the most famous example: “behind every great man is a great woman”.

Whatever you’re up to, whether it’s running a race, giving a speech, going for a promotion, a new job, etc. enlist a coach, a mentor, someone to do it with you or an awesome friend who won’t let you get away with “good enough”.

Whatever  it takes, utilize the power of two and watch your life change exponentially.

 

p.s. You may be wondering about  Edmund and Joy? There’s no question Edmund is king and they still harass each other, just in a playful, great friends manner.

Joy relaxing on the couch.

Attention helps us Thrive

This is an excerpt from my new book Climb that Fence, take that Leap which is a compilation of animal stories and the life insights I observed. I wrote it to encourage people to make positive changes and bring more awareness to the animals. Available on Amazon, I hope you enjoy the stories and I’d love to hear yours, so feel free to drop me a line.

Things Come Alive with Attention:
Ever since I took Keiko (my cat) to the park that day and let her out every evening, she was wired. Every morning she was under foot, walking around the kitchen and living room. I’d be upstairs getting dressed and here would come this spindly, almost wobbly cat blasting up the stairs.

At times, it was really annoying to hear the constant meowing, so I’d pick her up. “What is your problem?” I’d ask. I thought she might be in pain. As soon as I picked her up, all I heard was the familiar sound of contentment: purring.

What had changed with her? I had not given her any different medicine, and she had become skinnier by the day. But something was obviously different.

Let’s see, she went from just hanging around the house and receiving whatever “leftover” attention I had to being the first to receive attention. She received my attention first and foremost, and we spent quality time together.

Even if I had other things I “should have” been doing, I took time to make sure she went outside and had fun. The more time I spent with her, the more alive she became.

Just like a plant that requires water regularly, we all need regular, meaningful attention—validation that we are loved, that someone cares, that we make a difference. Without that knowing, we become lethargic and lost, and we lose hope.

When we think that no one cares, it often shows. It is easy to put on a tough exterior and give the appearance that we don’t care, but deep down it can be pretty lonely on our own.

The basic need to be loved is universal among people and animals. Pets fill that need and do it unconditionally. No matter the day, our relationship, or our status, our pets love us anyway. That’s why we enjoy them so much and why they’re often used in therapy. There’s something soothing about petting a happy fur ball.

Stop and think right now: Where can you show some attention that would make a difference? Where have you taken someone/a pet for granted? Write a thank you note, make a phone call, bring home dinner, turn off the TV, etc. Take a few minutes out of your day and give some love.

Just a few minutes is all it takes. You’ll be surprised how alive someone will feel. Guess what, so will you!!!