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There is more than one way to skin a cat or fix a mailbox

My father said, “There is more than one way to skin a cat.” And, he was right. There is. You could pull off the skin like a sock, or you could cut down the center line on the stomach with a sharp knife and take off the skin like a coat.

There is always more than one way to solve a problem.

Now, I don’t plan on skinning any of my four cats. Even when Pooh died, I wouldn’t have skinned him for his fur. We cremated the cat and his ashes are in a cedar box on my desk.

What does skinning a cat have to do with anything?

There is more than one way to skin a cat, and there is more than one way to solve a problem. Sometimes, when you are in the middle of a problem, you might think there is only one way to fix the problem — the way it was done before.

Would my father’s wisdom help me fix my broken mailbox? Was there more than one way to repair the mailbox? Would I have  to reattach my mailbox to the post the exact same way it was attached before?

And now for: (cue dramatic music here)

The Case of the Broken Mailbox


The screws holding my mailbox to the post had rusted. My mailbox was falling off the base. It was a sad day last winter when I noticed it was loose. It was too cold outside to properly repair the mailbox, however black duct tape worked very well. Stylish and strong.

The snow melted, the sun came out, and it was time to fix the mailbox.


The bottom of the mailbox with the rotten wood.

The piece of wood under the mailbox had rotted and the screws holding it together had rusted. I took the mailbox off of the stand and took off the piece of rotted wood it was attached to.

I took the rotten piece of wood that was under the mailbox and used it as a template  to cut out another piece the exact same size.

This is a lightbulb moment. Here it comes. 

As I was about to cut the lumber — the jigsaw was plugged in, I turned it on, and started cutting.

The lightbulb in my brain turned on.

Hey, I can use a bigger piece of wood. I don’t have to do what someone else has done. I can make my own decisions.

Just because someone else has chosen to solve a problem a certain way doesn’t mean we have to do it the same way.


The bottom of the mailbox with the new piece of wood.

This lightbulb moment applies to everything we face every day. We don’t have to do what someone else has done. We can make our own decisions.

1. We don’t have to write like someone else.
 2. We don’t have to sound like someone else.
3. We don’t have to dress like someone else.
4. We don’t have to eat like everyone else.
5. We don’t have to paint like everyone else.
6. We don’t have to put cheese whiz on our celery the same way our Aunt did.
7. We can find our own way.

What would your life look like if you designed your day to look like you, and not like someone else?


The old piece of wood and the new piece of wood.

The old piece of wood and the new piece of wood.

We can go through life following what others have done, or we can create our own path.

There is nothing really wrong with the small piece of pine, it would have held down the mailbox, and you can’t see how large the support is under the mailbox once it’s attached.

The Case of the Broken Mailbox helped me see that I follow what others have done even if it isn’t what I really want.

I hadn’t written here in several weeks because I had read other blogs who told me I needed to write a certain way. They told me I needed to cut out a small piece of lumber just like they had done.   But I wanted to cut out a piece of lumber in a different size.

The repaired mailbox with a new coat of paint.

The repaired mailbox with a new coat of paint.


When you end up with a broken mailbox in your life — please consider looking at your problem in a different way.  You don’t have to approach life the same way as everyone else.

Do you think there is more than one way to skin a cat? Please let me know in the comments. I always love to hear from you.

p.s. Does anyone know where I put the screws for the red flag for the mailbox? They are in a safe spot in the garage because I didn’t want to lose them.

p.s. My father taught me how to skin animals when I was twelve.

About Pamela Hodges

I write slice of life stories to help you know you are loved, valuable and worthy just as you are. I am a writer, an artist, and a cleaner of seven litter boxes. I live in Pennsylvania with one husband, four cats, one dog and two birds.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • La McCoy

    Very impressive. and i hope you are not hurting any cats. EDel would have to dig though to see you.

  • Absolutely loved this. Did you know that this is what my children’s book about Sonny is about? He is a little blues guitar who keeps hearing from others what he should do. He should play other kinds of music, he should go on vacation. Sonny gets confused. But he finally finds the answer. Feel free to download Sonny Follows His Heart for free today. You would relate to Sonny. I am in the process of trying to find my own different way, so this post resonated with me. And Im glad you are writing again. We need your writing.

  • Berdeane Bodley

    That’s my daughter, the best fixer – upper since time began, the girl that can do anything, bar none. As for the missing screws, many years ago, before I had left home even, I had put some money I had saved, away for safe keeping & to this day I have never found that “safe place”…….hmmmm!!

  • Great message, Pamela. I think we’re often better off listening to our own voice!

    • Hello John,
      Thank you. I wonder why it is hard at times to hear our own voice? Have we not listened for so many years it is only a whisper now?

  • Robn Patrick

    My brother and I were always the ones to skin the rabbits and squirrels. I did not like that job! Fish were even worse. I found a better way – I don’t eat rabbits or squirrels anymore. See, I do have lightbulb moments! Actually I have to have conversations with myself because trying things a new way is never my first thought so there’s usually many tries and trials as I try to fix something the same old way again. And again. And again.

    • Hello Robin,
      You had a similar childhood to mine. Except I didn’t have to eat what I skinned. And what a great lightbulb moment to hot eat them anymore!
      Trying to fix a problem in a new way is not my usual first thought either. But, I am trying to be more me as I approach life. Hard at first, but I am trying.
      I wonder what would happen if we tried a new way sooner than later?

      • Robn Patrick

        I was thinking about why I don’t try new approaches to things sooner and I realized that I work so hard to get a routine or to be able to manage something that I’m afraid to get out of that groove. I think in the future it would be good to ask myself if the old ways are still valid and if not why am I still doing it that way!

  • DA Schuhow

    Are you saying that you put the screws in a safe place and now cannot remember where that safe place is? I’ve done that before! My husband does it more than I do, but he’s older than me. 🙂

    • Hello DA Schuhow,
      Yes, that is what I am saying. Oh dear, I really do need to find them. Perhaps I shouldn’t put them away in safe places, but out in the open.