Am I a Cockatoo or a Sloth

By: Peggy Willms

(7 min read)

What animal do you love? Are your character traits similar to that type of animal? Maybe the animal you are most attracted to represents a time you are going through or has characteristics you should adopt or improve. Let’s test these theories.

I have been attracted to a gamut of animals throughout my years. Some peeps have been attracted to one species of animals their whole life, such as those who adore butterflies. Those fluttery, gentle souls have had their hearts for decades. Then some are attracted to lions or penguins. And what about those infamous cat lovers? No judgment if you have only been attracted to or related to one species. This is me saying you are NOT boring.

Perhaps my array of animals symbolizes that I evolve or switch things up. Let’s go with that.

When I was a teen, my bedroom was filled with heartthrobs. Oh boy, you will soon know my age, fosho! Shaun Cassidy, Leif Garrett, and Andy Gibb. Scott Baio was my favorite. I had his Teen Beat pictures stapled to every inch of my ceiling. Luckily, I had a mom who said it’s your room, do what you want, just keep it clean. During these years, I had other collections. I was also into monkeys, mostly chimpanzees. I had posters, plaster statues, plastic figurines, key chains, and more. My senior yearbook states (Oh, God), my dream was to have a red Ferrari and teach a chimpanzee to drive it. What aspirations.

Monkeys were kind of my gig until they weren’t. I don’t remember just when our relationship ended. I was into whales and then dolphins and then koala bears. I think I am onto something. My attraction to certain animals correlates with my personal evolution. Chimpanzees: busy, running from tree to tree, eating the same things, rather obnoxious…yes, that sums up my teens.

I progressed to water animals. I have known since before I could walk – I swear – I wanted to live near the ocean, therefore, an affinity for whales or dolphins made sense. I had a vision way back then. I first spread my wings towards the sea when the U.S. Army took me to Ft. Ord (Monterey and Salinas) area in California for a few years. My oldest son was actually born there. Okay…there is a connection to how those aquatic beasts aligned with my earthly path. I have pics of me laying with my pregnant belly buried in the sand on a beach in Carmel. No self-shaming, but “beached whale” does come to mind.

When I was in my early 20s, we had a long-haired dachshund named Barkley. We got him from a friend who was being stationed overseas, and he couldn’t go. AND we figured out why he was named such. Bark, he did. Living on an Army base stopped that stint early on. We adopted him out to a good home. How did I relate to Barkley back then…I had a mullet and was the go-getter Army wife. This female Billy Ray Cyrus was Barkley.

Right about the same time, I was into parakeets. Not only did I have one in California, but down the road, seven years later, in Colorado. I let them roam about, chatted with them, and gave them sprinkle baths. Then one day, when I came home, my son saw Hogan hanging upside down on his perch; I thought, “Hurry, let’s get him to the vet.” I am not kidding. I boxed up my parakeet and drove his little baby rigor-mortised feather head down the road. I know that sounds terrible, but I tell it like it is.

It wasn’t until the vet said without a care in the world, “He’s dead, and most parakeets live about five to ten years. However, he must have died from pneumonia. So what do you want me to do with him?” What did I hear, “THEY DIE?” No more parakeets. I was back to just loving animals I couldn’t touch, I guess. OOOOOH, this is deep. If I cannot see or touch something, then it isn’t real and won’t leave me. Wow, today is like therapy…thanks for listening, guys.

Let’s figure out the koala bear thing. First, sidebar…I hadn’t figured this shit out before I started this blog – all I wanted to do was share that I love cockatoos and I want to be a sloth, but now I am stuck in my resume of life. 

Now the story progresses to koala bears. I am really seeing the inside scoop on this animal thing now. Into my late 20’s and 30’s, life was truly about everyone else. I worked hard, raised my sons, put them through motorcycle careers, and was a dedicated wife and a hard-working professional. Did I love koalas because I needed a bit of huggy and mushy attention? Who would know. I can probably count on a handful of times I asked for help during those years. I can see now that I am looking back, I needed coddling. I was always sick, injured, having surgery, and yet I never missed a beat being there for everyone else. This koala bear, still mullet-wearing chica, just needed a hug. I told you I was getting deep here.

PS: dolphins never left the back of my mind – and let’s be clear, neither did the ocean. Now let’s move on…whoops, I just remembered there was a stint with a goldfish. I babysat my best friend’s fish. Goldie I think was her name. Genius. When she went on vacation, I took over. I dreamt it died, woke up, and it was dead. Intuitive in the making.

We did have five dogs between 1992 and 2005. I was never really connected to any of them except Rowdy, our 147-pound Rottweiler who lived ten years. Then came along Lily Scarlet, my Shih Tzu. She was my joy and even went to work with me. She had several outfits. I know. It was a thing. The other pups either wouldn’t stop jumping fences or eating our sheetrock walls so they were put up for adoption. Within these “dog years,” there were a few cats, but I am not a cat lady. It just is what it is.

Whoa, I just realized I didn’t think I was an animal person, and I still don’t, but I think I might have been, so does that mean maybe I am? Oh, Lawd. Perhaps I’m in denial, but they have always been around me. I am regressing now – bouncing back to the few dogs and cats we had as kids in the ‘70s and ’80s of which one was a cat named Kamala, who died and came back to life. Skipped right over that, didn’t I?!

Okay, now I am 40, and in comes the red-eared turtle, Diego. Back to the water animals I go. He was great. He loved baths, his tummy scratched, and would stroll over under the couch to hide from me. He loved it under there. And then in came the huge fish tank – and out went the huge fish tank. JESUS, the fish. Now Jesus knew what to do with fish; you know what I am sayn sayn. Perhaps this was a sign. Peggy will become a Pescatarian. And then out went Diego. It was a sad day. And I refused to give him back to the Pet Store. And I know you are dying to know what we did with our quirky, hard-shelled friend. I drove him down to the Colorado River, and we had a goodbye ceremony. I thought, go live your 60 years in nature, bud. During this stint with the turtle and fish…were those signs of just “Keep going, girl?” Turtles can live over 100 years old. You got this.

Because soon after, in comes a divorce (beware of the country song about to follow)… I lost my house, my truck, and my dog. I am not shitting you. And, yeah, he was another Shih Tzu. This one a male. His name was Duncan. He was the only thing I missed in that chunk of my life. What happened to Lily Scarlet my first Shih Tzu, you ask? My friend took her, and she lived well into her teens.

N-E-Wayz. I was now animal-less and have been since. Thirteen years animal-less. But along the way, I have been, of course, still a dolphin lover and guess where I am? I moved from Colorado to Florida in 2016. Whoops again – forgot another chunk. During 2014-2016 I had a relationship with Hello Kitty, but she isn’t real, is she?

I bring you to the now. I love Kristen Bell. Kristen loves sloths. Several years ago, right along with her, I began adoring these hairy slow pokes. My fascination grew in 2017. Shucks. The epitome train just showed up. I had a mini-little breakdown back then. This is so good. Sloth – a “slow down message?” Like r..e..a..l..l..y slow down? I was forced to. Was the Universe making me sloth-like? The start-up and daily operation of a new business took a toll on me. I went from a turtle to a sloth. The message: if you think turtles are slow, Peggy, try being a sloth. If you go too fast, your mind and body will make you slow down. Way down. Amen!

About a year later, my boyfriend – bless his li’l heart, shares he has always wanted a pug. I am like, “I want a sloth!” (I would never take a sloth out of his environment-no hate mail please). There are peeps that say your animal looks like you. OMG don’t get me started. Do pugs look like my guy? I will stop right there. Do I look like a sloth? Actually minus the hairy back, yeah! Mohawk bedhead. HAAAAAA. Anyway, WE ARE NOT HAVING A PUG NAMED PEYTON (yes, after Peyton Manning). Ain’t happening, my love. Wonder what I would name my sloth. Sugar comes to mind.

Let’s fast forward to 2021. In comes the bird thing again. Are you dizzy yet? I am. Guess what? I want a cockatoo – macaws don’t seem as loving. Why do I want a cockatoo, you ask? I want someone to talk to, to sit on my desk, to laugh with and at. And, at night, he will go in his cage, and I will put his blankie over his metal castle, and on command, he will shut to hell up. And last year I was a cockatoo. Working on my radio show, hosting a docuseries, writing a book, and managing about 15 clients. Fast fast. And I am a learner. And those damn birds are smart learners. Any hoo hoo.

But then there is still the sloth. I am in love with both of them. My cockatoo and my sloth. The bi-polar representation of my personality and behavior. Oh, snap, I just remembered something else, ping. Of about the 20 animals I have had, only three were females. This, too, makes sense. I have more of a masculine energy and also feel alignment with such. Yup, I suspect that is why I wanted male animals. I am about to piss a bunch of people off, and I am sorry #notsorry. Is what it is, but I would rather have masculine energy friends, co-workers, collaborators, and family members. Say it, Sista.

Back to the cockatoo and the sloth. I have really stumbled on to something, and I think this is brilliant. This is workshop worthy. Grab your pen and paper. Look back on your animals whether you owned them or were connected to them, and write down the year and type of animal. Then write down how you felt during those times in your life or what you were doing during that time or right after. Any correlations?

I mean like whooooa on my sitch right now. I want a cockatoo and a sloth because I am living a somewhat bipolar life. I am in the public eye with writing, videos, radio, collaborations, and more, and I am simultaneously working diligently on my self-care to counter that madness. I am working on “slowing” down parts of my day – “slothing” down. BAHAHA.

A cockatoo to have fun with and be active with, and a sloth to mosey on across the mattress to grab my silk pillow and take a nap with for a few hours. Then I will jump up before dawn, and my cockatoo buddy and I will holler cuss words to the new neighbors across the harbor who are blaring Michael Jackson’s Dirty Diana at 7 a.m. (PS: I love it, but he plays it every single morning).

I know you are dying to know what I will name my new pals. Well, the jury is still out. Maybe I will have a contest, and you will get to pick. It won’t be Frankie and Grace. Perhaps Laurel and Hardy. Or Sugar and Spice. That’s it.

Truly the only hope of me being a full-time sloth is utilizing it as an acronym. If you know me, you know I love me some acronyms. Let’s see…S.L.O.T.H. = Simply Love Others To Happiness. Got It!

Peggy Willms
                                                                     All Things Wellness, LLC
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