Sunday, March 25, 2018

The March + PTSD and Ellie + The Convent Memoir

Just a brief posting today because I’m a little under the weather. Three things:

Yesterday my niece and I went to Lee’s Summit, Missouri, for the March for Our Lives. The group couldn’t get a permit to march, so we stood in front of City Hall and lent our energy to the speakers, who inspired me with their youthful fervor.

Lee’s Summit is a relatively small town, but there must have been about 200-250 of us there, equally divided between the young and the old. All of us were clapping for the articulate and passionate words of the high-school students who spoke.

I’ve marched to protest the Vietnam War in Minneapolis in May 1970, to raise awareness of animal rights in Washington, D.C., in 1990, and now to chivvy our Congress and President to cease being indentured to the NRA and to pass gun laws that outlaw assault rifles, raise the age to buy guns, and do stringent background checks.

The wind chill yesterday was in the low thirties, and I wasn’t dressed for the rally, but I felt as if I were in my mid-thirties again, marching with the college students to protest the war. Only this time, it’s the high-school students leading us!

The tiff between Ellie and Maggie that I shared last Sunday has ceased. Maggie thought Ellie had bumped into her when in reality it was I in my stocking feet. Maggie cornered Ellie and threatened her with claw and teeth. Ellie, who’d been declawed before we met, mostly just hissed when attacked.

I kept Ellie in my office with the door closed for three days—just the computer on the desk, the kitty litter box, her cat bedding, her food and water, and the chair I’m sitting in now. After three days, Maggie had gone on to other concerns, and Ellie wanted out. So now they’ve entered a truce, except that Ellie continues to pee in her bedding, which I’m washing every day. I hope that she gets over her PTSD and that Maggie ceases her unrelenting stare campaign that so traumatizes Ellie.

 One of the bloggers whom I follow, Melissa Ann Goodwin, posted a review of the convent memoir, Prayer Wasn’t Enough, on her blog. If you’d like to read it, click here. Her blog is about her yoga classes, and it’s well worth reading.

Melissa knows about publishing because she’s had two books published: The Christmas Village and Return to Canterbury. I enjoyed them both when they were first published and gave them as gifts to young friends of mine. Click here to go to her author website where you can read about and listen to her excerpts from her books.

Now back to bed with some Earl Grey Tea and a cat for warmth. This general malaise is, I think, an aftermath of yesterday’s chill.

But I don’t want to end this post without thanking all of you who have e-mailed me about the memoir and purchased it and in general given me the support that has become one of the great gifts of blogging.

Thank you. Peace to you, pressed down and overflowing.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Prayer Wasn’t Enough

Today, my convent memoir—Prayer Wasn’t Enough—becomes available on Amazon. My eldest niece has worked hard to ensure that this happens for me, and I am deeply grateful. She is, as you will appreciate, a blessing in my life. I'm also excited; my stomach continues to somersault!  I’m hoping that this book will enjoy the kind of success that will enable me to self-publish other books in the next few years.
Here’s an introduction to the memoir: Despite years of Catholic education, I never once considered becoming a nun. I grew up on a farm with a creek running through it and with the whisper of wind playing the fields. Nuns didn’t go barefoot, pick blackberries, or weed vegetable gardens. I thought their life had to be boring.

Then in college, a transcendent experience changed everything for me. After graduation, eager to pray, I entered a Benedictine convent certain that there I’d become a saint. Except for meals, evening recreation, and communal prayer, I lived in silence. That didn’t faze me: Life was new; perfection seemed possible.

For the eighteen months of the novitiate, during which I was given the name Sister Innocence, I studied The Rule of Saint Benedict, a document nearly 1,500 years old. Daily I gathered with other nuns for prayer and performed the tasks that demanded obedience. Laughter, good will, and a sense of purpose permeated my life as a postulant and then as a novice.

On January 1, 1960, I made first vows and went out on mission to teach. Five months later, I returned to the motherhouse on the verge of a physical and emotional breakdown. As the years passed, I taught, studied, and prayed, but dwelt in confusion as the vow of obedience became increasingly difficult. I wanted all nuns to be perfect; they weren’t. More importantly, I realized I couldn’t will myself into perfection.

In Prayer Wasn’t Enough, I describe my crippling hunger for perfection, my flawed misconception of sanctity, and my emotional immaturity. I also describe my deep love of prayer and how it became a thread that held me to the convent.

That’s the story in a nutshell. I think it will appeal to four groups of readers: those curious about why young women enter the convent; those who have endured their own struggles with perfection; those who have embraced a life committed to someone or something beyond themselves; and those whose dreams for the future have been shaken or derailed.

I hope you will want to read Prayer Wasn't Enough, and if you enjoy it, that you'll tell others about it. Click here to view the paper book. Click here to view the ebook.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Cats: Bullying, Intimidating, Traumatizing

In the Ready household, I feed the cats, scoop their litter, hold them while I read, run my hand over their furry backs, scratch beneath their chins, make sure their water bowls are refreshed daily, and talk to them about our lives together. They rule; I serve.


Ellie, Maggie, and Matthew live not only with me but with each other. From the beginning of our sojourn together, when I brought them home from the animal shelter in December 2009, Matthew and Maggie have often ostracized and bullied Ellie. It all began with Matthew, who traumatized Ellie. She displayed this in the nervous habit she developed of pulling out her fur and hiding in every dark place she could find.


That went on for three years. By then Matthew had gotten over the abuse of his own early life and had accepted Ellie. Occasionally, the two played together, but mostly they simply ignored one another. Meanwhile, Maggie watched the two of them, biding her time.


During their fourth year together, Maggie began her reign of terror. Like a CIA agent—which I’m sure she was in a former life—she spied on Ellie, stalked her through the house, cornered her, kept track of everything Ellie did. Meanwhile, Ellie tugged at her fur, leaving tufts of it all over the house.

Ultimately, I don’t know why, Maggie ceased her intimidation.

It took five years for Ellie, who’d been left at the shelter when her human went into a nursing home, to trust that I would protect her. Slowly—ever so slowly—she permitted me to scratch her back and brush her fur. She never wanted to lie in my lap, but she wanted to be near. For this, I felt deep gratitude. The cats seemed to have accepted one another. Peace reigned in our kingdom.

However, Ellie continued to avoid Maggie, the CIA agent who cast a wary eye on her. I never knew how Maggie treated Ellie when I was away from home or even at night when I was asleep. How often did CIA threaten her? This week I’ve experienced the result of just how tenuous their relationship is for there’s been a falling out between them, and I may have been the cause.

The story of how Maggie has recently traumatized Ellie is too long for this posting, but I hope next week to share it with you. I’m also hoping that by next Sunday, the issue will have resolved itself: no more misplaced poop; no more pee on furniture and bedding.

Now for a detour: This week I was going to write more about self-publishing, but none of the comments indicated interest in that. So I’ll simply say that my niece has completed the process for getting a paper book and an ebook published through Amazon’s two subsidiaries: CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing. Just three days remain until Prayer Wasn’t Enough is available. The e-book is now ready for pre-ordering.

If this memoir is successful, I’ll be able to publish another book this summer. And what does success mean for me? It means I earn enough to pay my niece for all she does to produce the books during her spare time. If what I write is for my good and the good of the Universe, I trust it will be published. Peace.
If you’d like to see my tweets and Facebook postings about the cats, the convent, and my writing, here are the “addresses.”


Twitter: @dee_ready36