This I Believe

Erika - West Point, Mississippi
Entered on February 26, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I once had a boyfriend who told me everyone in France has a motto. His was ‘Become who you are.’ He used it to explain everything… from the food we ate to an eventual affair. I’m just becoming who I am! It was maddening!

Then one day he forgot for a moment that the world revolved around him and asked ‘don’t you have a motto?’ Some kind of phrase that you live by?

I started to object. But then it occurred to me, I do. ‘There’s more than one way to skin a cat!’ Cat lovers—this has nothing to do with the harming of your furry friends. The actual saying refers to cleaning catfish.

My mother says I’ve always been like this- eager to find my way around any roadblock. But one of my best cat skinnings came in college, when my professor did a 40 man, one woman show. Determined to get a role, I tried out as a man-and not only landed that part, but also the female role!

When I had a 3 acre farm and no time or lawn mower, I bought a goat to do the job! When I couldn’t find the curtains I’d been dreaming of, I simply made them myself.

More than one way to skin a cat!

For the past several years I’ve been a journalist. I’ve literally climbed mountains, witnessed historical events and held the hand of a dying person, because I was not afraid to approach a subject a little differently.

Various codes tell us, that journalists are supposed to be objective reporters, conveying only the events. But I’ve found the best journalists step in just far enough to experience life. That’s what adds the heart and soul. That’s what makes someone listen, watch or read.

I’ve literally stood in the remains of a victim splattered on the highway, while trying to help save a second person, because we beat the paramedics to the scene. I lost the story. But in the end, I got a better one, when the family invited me to the hospital. When it comes to cat skinning-sometimes it comes down to being a better human, not just an ace journalist.

And sometimes the cat will claw at your convictions. It takes every ounce of courage to fight for your values. I’ve had to stand up to bosses who bullied and sexually harassed me and my co-workers; and I’ve had to legally fight employers trying to stifle my first amendment rights.

Skinning a cat also involves outside the box thinking…Because I have been willing to walk the sewers, hang out in dark cemeteries, and bungee jump off a bridge, national and international radio networks now use me as a stringer. Because I will work weekends, evenings and drive ridiculously long distances, magazines offer me writing assignments.

So, the minute someone tells me it can’t be done. I ask, why? The answer usually is: they haven’t thought of another way to skin the cat!