There is a brilliant colored blue and orange parrot that sits on my right shoulder.  We have recently become, well, for lack of a better word, friends. I have given him a name, Perry (cute, right?).  Actually, to be honest, I had no idea he was there; but he has been with me since I was a little girl, lurking in the shadows of my mind.  This vibrant colored bird with its grasping claws and raucous voice mindlessly repeats the words, “You can’t; Don’t bother; You’re not good enough.”  This damn parrot has gotten in my way more often than I’d like to admit.  “Perry, stop being mean,” I think to myself.  “Don’t say those things to me!”  But, the bird just repeats thoughts that prevent me from moving forward or moving at all.  Perry pokes at me with his beak.  I say again, “stop it, do you hear me?”  Perry seems to thrive on this internal conflict; me, well I wish this bird would fly away.

So, I can’t help but wonder about my parrot.  Why does he repeat these hurtful words that prevent me from taking chances?  Is he right?  Can I blame my insecurities on this 50 something-year-old bird?  Desperately, I want to believe that I am enough.  This battle with Perry has gone on far too long!  “Perry, get off my shoulder,” I finally shout, irritated, annoyed and completely exhausted by the turmoil he has caused me.  

Standing in the mirror staring at my reflection, it occurs to me that parrots are birds that mimic human speech.  Did I somehow, unknowingly teach my bird to say the awful words that would damage my core, leaving me feeling defeated, worthless, useless?  I don’t know.  I don’t even like birds so why in the world would I even allow him to wrap his claws around my shoulder for so long?  Has it been “Perry” who has prevented me from being all that I have wanted to be?  

How could I not even notice that Perry was there doing damage to my soul?  And, why would I teach words to my parrot that I would never dare say to my children? Whose words are Perry parroting?  I guess, in the end, it doesn’t really matter how he got there or who put the words in his mouth.  Perry is here and from what I understand, parrots can live a long, long time.  

Yes, now that I am so acutely aware that Perry is alive and well with me, clawing at my shoulder, I suddenly realize that I am the one who is the teacher.  As much and as easy as Perry learned words to shame me, I can now teach Perry new words that will bring light and energy to my soul.  So, I begin to repeat to Perry, “You can; Just try; Why not?”  I ask my parrot, “Did you hear what I have said?”  I hope Perry is paying attention.  “You are enough,” I repeat out loud.  My life depends on him listening to new ideas about myself and words that launch my spirit. “You can; Just try; Why not?” I repeat these words over and over and over to my parrot, praying he will finally forget the old words and echo the new ones.  And, what I realize is, it’s all about reconditioning my bird.  I can teach him to praise me and treat me with kindness or I can train him to hurt me and keep me in my cage.  Now, why would I want to do that?  There is a great big world out there and I am going to fly!

So, lately, I have been giving Perry all the lines to build me up rather than beat me down and like a good parrot, he now repeats them to me.  And, after all this time, my hostile little bird is now my soothing supporter.  “You go, girl,” Perry’s raucous voice says to me.  “You go girl; You can do it!”

Now, it’s Perry and me to the end. 


  • Stacey Dorenfeld of Los Angeles is living a life that she loves as a result of the people and experiences that she has been blessed with. A Life Member of Hadassah, Stacey was selected to represent Hadassah Southern California by attending the Jewish Public Affairs Committee (JPAC) Conference in Sacramento in 2015. There she met with various state Representatives and lobbied for human rights issues, which Hadassah has taken a stand on. Stacey has returned to Sacramento on behalf of Hadassah numerous times since that first experience and has also represented Hadassah several times on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., meeting with both federal and state legislators. In addition, Stacey is a sought-after trainer and speaker, and often leads workshops on the ins-and-outs of domestic advocacy. In recognition of her leadership she was elected as the Advocacy Chair serving on the 2019 Board of Hadassah Southern California, representing issues of importance to 20,000 Hadassah members throughout Los Angeles and the surrounding areas.