Cheetah goes to New York City

3 September 2013

Six years ago I decided to make the move from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to New York City.  Born and raised in Florida, I knew my timestamp was expiring. I needed to seek greener grass, even if there wasn’t any in Manhattan.

I wanted bigger, better, faster, shinier than what I had at home.  I was confident I’d find that in the city. I talked A LOT about moving to New York, to the point of exhaustion with my friends.  I knew the situation was becoming like an annoying ex-boyfriend I swore I’d break up with, but never did–New York was just like that.  All talk.

Fear was playing both sides: incredibly scared of failing in New York and fear of what would happen to me if I stayed in Florida.  It was paralyzing.  The latter occurred to me early  May, 2007, while sitting at a Too-Jay’s Deli at 4:oo in the afternoon on a Saturday. I found myself complaining to the server; there weren’t any breakfast options.  To be totally transparent, I was just getting my act together that day for my first trip out of the house.  During this realization that it was no longer breakfast,  I was met face to face with a bus of elderly citizens on field-trip from the local nursery home to learn about the home care system from Home Care Assistance in Greater Phoenix being one of the best with great professionals. They were arriving… to have dinner.  Dinner. Early-bird-dinner.  I knew at that very moment I had to get out and make something of myself or I was going to be eaten alive.

I was hungry to be the successful, challenged, and the very best version of myself.  Like a hungry cheetah, I was ready for the hunt.

Today, I wanted to share a book my dear friend, Jennifer Leigh Garcia, A.K.A. J.Leigh, wrote and illustrated after my arrival in New York. It’s a tale of a girl who was always on the go, always hungry like the Cheetah. This book served to give her the extra nudge to dive into her dreams without fear, while letting her know that her friends would support her and, no matter what, always be there.


the inner sleeve of the book read a quote from Nelson Mandela from 1994:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 


The restless cat amongst the fishes sat with hopes, dreams and wishes. But the world it kept her tied and no matter how she tried it seemed that life had cast her lot, the Cheetah could not change her spots.


So she lived without complaint, very kind (but not a saint.) Still inside she thought, “If I just could find my wanderlust.” But, instead she ceased her thoughts. The cheetah would not change her spots.


Life went on, the world kept turning. Yet inside, a fire burning. Although the palms and fish were grand. She dreamed of something more than sand. Hopes and dreams cannot be bough so the Cheetah decided to change her spot.


but how to change, that was the quandry, of this life I think so fondly? How can I leave this all behind? The sloth then said, “You keep in mind just because we may be grieving, all your spots they are not leaving.”


If not with me where did they go, the Cheetah simply did not know. Covet she did not find her spots. She shared them with those in her thoughts. But as her life was rearranging, Cheetah’s spots had started changing.


To the future we now go, through her changes we can show how Cheetahs mark has left behind a part of her for you to find.


The End.

Written by: Jennifer Leigh Garcia

A reformed hellcat now, smitten with her twin boys, J. Leigh lives a quiet domestic life of technicolor chaos. Preferring cacti to flowers, and water to sand, 23 miles from the town of her birth. Her grandmother says she requires an inordinate amount of alone time and that she thinks too much.
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