My Faith kitty came to me while I was still pretty much seen (and behaved) as “non-verbal”. Over the years, she was by my side to witness me emerging from the silence. First, as I found my voice online with blogging and subsequent social networking platforms. She slept on the couch too many late nights, patiently waiting for me to go to bed, while I was exploring, learning and experimenting in this new world title was opening up to me.
Next, she was patient with me as my husband Darrell and I experimented and mashed together various technologies so that I could give presentations. She gave me “the look” every time I packed my bag to go on a trip.
She was with me when I finally decided (and declared to myself) that I wanted to be a motivational speaker; apparently many other people already saw me as such but I hadn’t yet caught up with myself.
Faith was with me through negotiating my first gig as a motivational speaker, which the fee turned out being an honorarium – it’s a start!
Sadly, she was not with me, in the physical sense, when I gave my first official motivational speech two weeks ago.
But I did wear my “Faith socks” – black socks with a cat appliqué that I had received in my Christmas stocking several years and that I have worn while delivering nearly every presentation. At some point while I was presenting “Go Beyond: Stare Your Fear in the Face and Go for It!” the word FAITH in white text briefly flashed in my mind’s eye.
This also happened a few days earlier while I was dancing in the Kickstart Festival’s Final Procession.
As I was about to head out the doors at the Roadhouse, totally in the moment and focused on what I was doing, the word FAITH in large white text, in a font slightly fancier than Times New Roman, quickly appeared in my mind. I was startled and somewhat perplexed. What? Now? I can’t really let the tears flow in this moment. I guess it was the little monkey’s way of letting me know she was with me.
For the last few weeks I had been itching to wheel down a few extra blocks to the pet supply store – where I used to buy Faith’s litter and food – to see if there were any notices of available kitties posted in the window. I finally felt brave enough to make the trek last Wednesday afternoon, which appears to be Faith’s time
. I discovered the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue
(VOKRA) and I rushed home to check out the website. They are a no-kill rescue and all of the kitties are fostered in homes, which really appeals to me. I don’t think I have it within me, at least not right now, to deal with the drama and trauma of adopting from a shelter.
After exploring the gallery of adorable kitties available for adoption and pondering it overnight, I realized that a new kitty would be Faith’s successor, NOT her replacement! It seems fitting that my honorarium from my first official motivational speech goes toward the adoption fee (and perhaps one bag of food) for her successor who will, hopefully, see me through the next stages of my speaking career and the next chapters in my life.
But. first, I had to finish something; something that I was scared to finish because it might make losing Faith feel all too final – that something was my tribute to her. I had drafted and chosen the photos a few weeks earlier, but I couldn’t bear to do the final edits. Not until Saturday night when I finished editing and then sent it off to Eve at Until We Meet Again.
I was then drawn back to the VOKRA gallery of kitties and lured to tentatively start completing the adoption application. I hit the submit at 12:05am on the 22nd, the four-month mark of Faith’s leaving. The guilt.
Not expecting a response over the weekend, particularly since Sunday was VOKRA’s fundraiser, I was surprisingly excited and antsy to hear back regarding the next step in the adoption process: the interview. Do the feelings mean I am ready? I am not sure. It is what it is.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, my business friend Becky McCray forwarded me an email that reminded me about Business Leadership Networks (BLNs) – networks of corporations committed to hiring people with disabilities. Since they hire employees with disabilities, they might also be amenable to booking a motivational speaker with a disability. It was worth exploring.
While doing some online research on Tuesday afternoon, one thing led to another – as they often do while online – and I discovered Dameon Brooks Associates: “the only speaker and performing arts bureau that represents those with a disability.” Scrolling through the list of speakers, one name jumped off the screen. I had seen him at the Kicksart Festival at the Roundhouse two weeks earlier; however I hadn’t been brave enough to introduce myself.
Finding his Facebook page, I discovered we have six mutual friends, including my good friend Avril Orloff. What are the chances! I had no hesitation in emailing Avril to request an introduction this seasoned speaker with a disability.
I start composing an email to her when I get a notification from Dropbox that the raw video from my presentation from two week ago is ready for download AND an email with possible interview times for the kitty adoption process. In the time it took me to begin downloading the video and reply to the VOKRA Applications Manager, I receive a response from Eve – Faith’s tribute would up be up on their memorial site the following day, which perhaps not so coincidentally, ended up being late Wednesday afternoon: Faith’s time.
I finally get back to emailing Avril, who has kindly introduced me to her friend.
Everything IS connected! Business, personal, excitement, sadness and a tinge of guilt are all mashed together. That is life! This is my life; I am living and experiencing it the best I can because it is the only one I get.
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