If you think you can’t, you won’t. So, just do it.

That's me in the grey t-shirt. Wow, I'm short. But I'm surrounded by some amazing people at the MA Humane Lobby Day.

That’s me in the grey t-shirt. Wow, I’m short. But I’m surrounded by some amazing people at the MA Humane Lobby Day.

When people ask me why I’m vegan, one of the main reasons I give is because I don’t want to play any role, no matter how small, in the suffering of living, feeling, and loving creatures. Inevitably, some people say something like “well, they’re still going to continue making beef for us to eat, you know?” Or “chickens are still going to continue laying eggs, so what are you stopping, really?” Um, a lot. And I’m sure it means a lot to every animal that doesn’t have to die just so I can eat it.

Here’s the thing. One person can make a difference. The guy who made the Cowspiracy movie – from his own research, he went vegan and thereby saved (and continues to save) some animals from being sent to slaughter as he’s not consuming them anymore. And by making the movie, he changed my mind into becoming a vegan. And I’m sure he’s changed more minds than just mine. So, he did do something.

During my medical leave, I finished reading a book by Gene Baur called Farm Sanctuary. Again, a man who started small, but who has changed many, many lives, both human and animal, over the past thirty years. It really inspired me to want to do more. So I reached out to them after reviewing their website. I saw that their pages on pending state and federal legislation were from the last congressional and legislative sessions. I asked if I could help them update that information, since I’ve got the skills to look up that sort of thing. They graciously took me up on my offer.

So, as they suggested, I reviewed the information on a few of the major animal welfare organizations and then did some additional searches on my own, for federal legislation. And I found out this week that the information I sent to them was used to update a newsletter being sent out to about 100,000 members and it would even highlight an act that they didn’t know about before I found it, called the SAFE Act. SAFE stands for Safeguard American Foods Act, and if passed, this bill would prevent health hazards posed by consuming horses raised in the U.S., by prohibiting, via interstate or foreign commerce, the sale of horses to be be used for human consumption. I feel good, knowing my efforts made a difference to them, and I hope, down the line, to the people reading their newsletter. (And I hope it will make a huge difference to the lives of horses in this country also.)

So, YES, people, you can do something. The only way to ensure your failure at making a difference is to sit there and bemoan how little you can do, and not even try.  I refuse to do that anymore, especially after having read Best Friends: The True Story of the World’s Most Beloved Sanctuary.   They saved the lives of so many animals who had been abused, or neglected, or just dropped without any emotional thought on the part of their “owners.”  As I was reading through it (in just two days’ time), I just kept thinking to myself, I would LOVE to work there and help the animals!! Imagine being around a lot of other people who feel the same way about animals as I do. Plus, it sounds simply gorgeous, as I know many parts of the southwestern United States are. (FYI, in their recent edition of Best Friends Magazine, they discuss how important it is to contact your state legislatures about animal welfare issues.  See page 16.)

Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend the MA Humane Lobby Day.  One of the speakers talked about a bill that had been introduced this session called “A Bill to Protect Puppies and Kittens.”  Think of that title. As she said (and I paraphrase), “who in their right mind can vote against a bill that aims to protect puppies and kittens??”” Well played, ma’am, well played. :-)

And if you still think that you can’t do something, well, look at what the power of people in some of our state legislatures can do. Don’t take my word for it – check out this clip of John Oliver from his show Last Week Tonight.

And finally, I’ll point you back to a post I wrote last year about a movie called Opening Our Eyes.  It’s about what individuals have done in various parts of the world and how their efforts have changed the lives of so many over time.  You just have to MAKE the decision that, YES, YOU CAN make a difference in this world. Things may seem depressing some days – I’m not immune to it. Some days, after seeing the news, I wonder “what in the hell is wrong with this world??!!” But then, I think, if we all just give up, then it will all go to hell. So, we can’t let that happen. Don’t let other people’s fears project onto you and keep you from doing something. I’m not.  It’s why I am willing to take the steps I’m taking to change the course of my life and make the world a better place for animals. Because every little bit helps. (And if ever I forget that or doubt myself, I look around at my furballs and know better.)

As much as I like to think I'm making a change in Osito's life, I know she's making a HUGE difference in my life.

As much as I like to think I’m making a change in Osito’s life, I know she’s making a HUGE difference in my life.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend, everyone! If you’ve liked this post, please hit like or subscribe, or drop me a line below in the comments. Thanks for reading, as always!

Massachusetts Humane Lobby Day, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, and decisions on dreams

I feel blessed when I see something like this.

I feel blessed when I see something like this.

Tomorrow is Massachusetts’ Humane Lobby Day. The day that a lot of animal lovers and activists descend onto the Massachusetts State House, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston is one of the organizations that will be represented. I was there last year and remember that there were some awesome speakers who totally galvanized the crowd. I remember looking around and feeling like “this is my tribe. These are a lot of people who are like me. People who love animals.”  Last year, I had taken the day off from work to go. It was really heartening to see so many others had done the same. And of course, the adoptable pets that were brought that day were super adorable. There will be more again tomorrow. If you’ve never heard of Humane Lobby Days, and might be interested in taking part in one, check out this link, because they are held all over the country.

I am planning on going tomorrow since I’ve taken it easy the past few days after my mistake of walking so many miles on Saturday. My body let me know on Sunday that it would prefer I take it a bit easier still so soon after my surgery. I should be ok to sit, stand and walk around the statehouse and talk to people. After all, walking is the best thing you can do after you have abdominal surgery like I did.

I saw my surgeon last week for a two week follow up and he said I’m doing really well. He actually thought i was healing faster than he expected so I guess that means my incision site looks good. He said that I could doing more than just walking within another ten days to two weeks, so needless to say, I’m chomping the bit to get out there and join the ranks of the runners around the reservoir! (And to my defense, he did say that he thought I could ramp up my walking a bit after I saw him. I guess I took him too much at his word.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)

In other news I have decided to take a vacation trip to the southwest. I am going to volunteer with the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary while I am out there and visit Bryce National Park while I am out there.  (I have already been to Zion.) So far I have signed up for three days of volunteering with them, in various parts of the sanctuary so I get a good taste of it. I’ve found a place to stay and am just waiting for confirmation on the dates I’ve asked about, and am hoping to take little Baby O with me on the trip. The good thing about a town whose largest employer is an animal sanctuary? It’s super animal and pet friendly! If Osito doesn’t go with me, I will likely volunteer to take a shelter dog home with me for a night (the place I want to stay allows that.) Oh, and another thing? Best Friends has an on-site cafe that serves vegetarian food!!

I’ve also decided to not pursue the tiny house in North Carolina anymore. I was starting to get very stressed about how much it was going to cost between the down payment and closing costs, and wondered if I would have enough of a cash cushion to pursue my dreams there. And a small part of me felt like moving someplace south, but still on the east coast, was somehow “safe” in that it was still somewhat similar to where I am now. Yes, NC is a bit different culture wise, but it still kind of looks the same as this part of the East Coast.  And while I had met some very nice people down there, including the builder and the project manager who I have been thinking of as a friend, I was worried I might not find a lot of people who would be willing to understand my vegan lifestyle, etc.

So now it’s part of why I want to go to Best Friends. I’ve been thinking more and more that what I want to do, what my heart truly wants to do, is work at an animal sanctuary. I’m good with animals and I’m good with people, and both are really important abilities or skills to have. They have several job openings, some of which I think I’m qualified for, and they also offer internships that you can apply for (unpaid, if for five weeks.) So I’m seriously considering that route too. So wish me luck – I’m going to apply.  It’s also completely different – geography wise and more – from what I have grown up with, but it’s a topography that always makes me feel like I can just “breathe.”  I’m totally jumping outside of my comfort zone and I couldn’t be more excited! This is how you grow, right?!

I think you know something is your calling when thinking about something brings tears to your eyes but they are tears of joy. That’s how I felt tonight when I walked around the reservoir thinking about all of this, and it’s when I snapped the photo you see above. (The reservoir never fails to provide good photo opportunities.) I’ve saved my butt off for the past year and before that, paid off a lot of bills, so now I can take this leap with a bit of a cushion underneath me.

As always, thanks for reading and for your support. If you’ve liked this post, please drop me a line in the comments section, or hit like or subscribe, or share it with someone you think would like to read my drivel and musings. :-)

Allow Me to Explain

For the longest time, this guy was v. Reminded me, it's ok to just sit and be still.

For the longest time, this guy was v. Reminded me, it’s ok to just sit and be still.

A good friend wrote to me after my last post and was worried I would be upset with his response to my last post – that he just finds it hard to picture me as being depressed. Far from being upset with him, I felt very touched by his words, and supported, and it just proved to me how far I’ve come. That’s also how I felt when reading people’s comments on my last post, either here on the blog or in messages sent to me. I think when you share parts of yourself, people know when you’re being real and when you’re not. I hope to be able to do that here on this blog as I wean myself off my anti-depressants. Btw, I take two – Wellbutrin and Prozac. I also take Prozac for anxiety, so that will be the second one I will try to go off of. I’m too scared to try both of them at the same time, and they do different things for you, anyway. So, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who reached out. It means a lot to me.

I currently take 60 mg of Prozac, which I understand is on the higher end. I used to take 80 mg but that dosage had the effect of making me feel very “blah.” I really didn’t care about much. Enter Wellbutrin, as we chopped the Prozac back to 60 mg. It took us a little while to get the dosage right, so I’ve been taking 100 mg of the extended release (or so I thought. I just looked at my prescription tonight and I think it’s actually Sustained Release, which I consider to be a positive.)

So here is what has happened to me in the past when I tried to stop taking Prozac. I was seeing a psychiatrist, who, while she was very smart, didn’t always have the best, shall we say, bedside manner? We tried cutting down my medication to 40 mg, and after a few days, I felt as depressed as I did before I started taking them. I was dating someone long distance then, and remember having a difficult time trying to describe to him how I felt. I was afraid I was going to go back to the person I was a few years before then, and of course wondered, would he still love me?

Sounds irrational, right? You see, this is how coming off of anti-depressants can feel to some. You can feel just as depressed as you were originally, if not more so. Your thoughts start to run together all in a jumble, and it’s very hard to put a stop to them. Everything I ever felt insecure about, well, it all came rushing in at me. When I tried to talk to the psychiatrist about how I was feeling, I remember her saying, in a very snappish sort of tone, “well, Prozac has a long shelf life so if you’re already feeling that way, then no, you’re not ready to come off of them!” I remember feeling like I was a failure. Yes, I was still damaged goods in my mind, I thought. I’m a weak person that can’t be happy without a little help of medication.

Earlier this year, I tried to cut down on my wellbutrin and asthma medication at the same time. I was and am worried about what these medications will cost when the time may come that I don’t have great health insurance. I called my pharmacy to ask what these would each cost if I didn’t have health insurance. Well, Wellbutrin was around $50/month, Prozac was about $15/month, and I forget how much Singulaire is, but I know it was steep. Great, I thought, just one more stress or monthly bill to worry about. So I tried. Unfortunately, I then caught a cold and if you’ve ever taken asthma medication or have been diagnosed, you know how quickly an innocent cold can go into your chest, and how hard it can then be to get rid of it.

Did I also mention that when I tried decreasing my medications, Boston was also have its worst winter, as in EVER?? And that I also suffer from SAD (you know, seasonal affective disorder which a lot of folks get in northern climates where we are always vitamin D deficient.)  Yep, not a smart time to try coming off of any mood-changing medications. I just didn’t like how I was feeling. And that made me feel, again, that there was something wrong about me, something was lacking, because I couldn’t seem to steer past these feelings.  Now, I do understand that if  you have had two or more depressive episodes in your  life, you are that much more likely to suffer a third, or that sometimes you stay on them as maintenance medication. So I gave in to thinking that, that they would be to me as high blood pressure medication is to others. And who knows, maybe I do need them as maintenance medication, but then again, maybe I’ve not tried hard enough in the past. Maybe I really wasn’t ready then, but am ready now.

I’ve been reading up a lot about what to expect as potential withdrawal symptoms, I found this article to be helpful in laying it all out there where coming off of Prozac is concerned. This article about coming off of Wellbutrin was also helpful.

Why do I think this time might be different, you ask? Well, it’s summer, and I always get a mood boost when the days are longer.  I’m starting to read a lot about how the foods you eat can really affect how you feel both inside and out. My diet is cleaner now than it was in the past, with no dairy or meat. I have these several weeks off for recovery from my surgery, and I know that part of that healing is physical but there’s also a mental component to it.  This gives me time to really get in tune with myself and my feelings, and I’m able to spend all day with my furballs, who always make me feel better. I’ve got the reservoir out back that I can go sit at when I need to think, or just be around people (one reason I’ve loved my evening walks lately.)

I thought about all of this a lot tonight as I sat on a bench at the reservoir and just watched the daytime slip away and darkness’ approach. I listened to the wind in the trees, and the water lapping up on the shore, with the occasional runner or walker passing by me. I felt more at peace than I have in a while. I know I’m NOT damaged goods anymore. I know I’m in a better place. I know that I’ve got dreams now and am not just sleepwalking my way through life. And I know I’ve got people who love and support me and care for me, both online and off. I know that some of you reading this may have gone through this before, or something similar and I know that some of you will understand. It’s ok if you don’t comment, as it just helps me to get these things out there. And I now know that some of what I might eventually feel is just my brain and body resetting itself. I know now that it will be temporary and not a statement about who I am, and will be, permanently.

Those of you who are runners will understand that it’s like when you’re a runner, and the weather suddenly starts to get disgustingly hot or humid and all of a sudden, your runs all turn to complete crap. You know it’s only temporary and that it’ll suck while you are slogging through it, but eventually your body and mind adjusts and you push through it. You know that eventually the cooler temps will return, and then you’re simply gonna FLY!

A complete stranger told me the other day (as I helped her get a baby turtle off the running path and to the safety of a rock near the water) that I had good energy around me. I choose to take that as a sign.

As always, thank you for reading and if this has helped you out, or you think it might help someone else, please feel free to share it. Thank you, and have a great start to the work week.

One of my favorite spots on earth.

One of my favorite spots on earth.

Yes, I Can (fight my way out of depression). No More A Victim.

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First off, I am finding this break to be such a  blessing. It’s allowing me to get more in touch with myself and find out why I let some things bother me and the ways I’ve coped with them in the past, vs. ways I can cope with them in the future. It’s allowing me time away from a job that, quite honestly, I was feeling really burnt out on. I was finding myself falling into negativity pretty easily, letting the thoughts of others sometimes overcome my own and shape the way I looked at some things. I I hadn’t taken time off in a long time because I’m trying to save up as much vacation time as possible for later this summer. Needless to say, I’m hoping my attitude changes when I go back.

Still not allowed to run yet, so this morning, I listened to the Rich Roll Podcast while doing my three loops around the reservoir (for a bit over 4.7 miles in total!) (By the way, I just saw a few minutes ago that he interviewed Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary!) He now has a book out called the Plant Power Way, which I plan on reading. Eight years ago, he was overweight and didn’t have much motivation or enthusiasm for life. Now he’s an elite ultra runner and athlete. So much of his change is due to a change in attitude and also his diet. His podcasts tend to run a bit long but I found the one from this morning really, really inspiring.

I’ve been talking with a friend lately about how I would like to wean myself off of my antidepressants, but that a part of me is scared. I’m worried about the withdrawal symptoms that can come with that. How will I know what is a withdrawal or discontinuance symptom and what is not? I’m very happy with my life right now and how I feel about myself for the most part, so a small part of me questions, is that really the true new me, or is the meds creating that feeling of goodness?

Here’s what hit me this morning. I think I’ve been allowing myself to think about the whole weaning off of antidepressants, in a victim type of way. In the past when I’ve tried to do so, I’ve really paid close attention to any supposed “withdrawal/discontinuance symptoms.” Maybe too close. Who says I have to be one of those folks who suffers from them? Not everyone does. Maybe it’s literally mind over matter that I need to use. Isn’t all of it or a large portion of how you heal from any illness or medical (or otherwise) problem how you face it? With a positive attitude?  I mean, I was able to give up coffee cold turkey and I always felt like that was a drug that I absolutely needed.  I was able to change to vegetarian overnight. And I was able to, once I finally put my mind to it, turn vegan, pretty quickly as well. (I was able to come home one night and just get rid of all of my clothes that included wool without a second thought.)  So why not this, as well?  I definitely didn’t think I would be up to walking almost five miles at a pop after just two and a half weeks after major abdominal surgery! 

When I was walking this morning, this hit me like a lightning bolt. I found myself smiling at a lot of people (some were returned, others not), and i found myself feeling as excited as the day when I decided to go vegan. I’ll be honest, though, it’s excitement mixed with fear. But if there’s one thing I have learned over the past few years, it’s that I need to push myself beyond my comfort zone if I’m going to continue growing. If I just settle for what feels safe, I’ll look back at my life (much) later on and wonder where it all went. I’m not willing to do that. Not anymore. And that is totally within my power.

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Why I’ve Chosen to be Vegan

Before I get into the topic of today’s post, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who wished me luck with my surgery two weeks ago. I’m proud to say that last night, I walked a bit over three miles and I feel good today. I feel like my abs got a bit of a workout, yes, but that’s a good thing in my book.  I am utterly convinced that by being in shape before the surgery and eating a plant-based diet, I am healing by leaps and bounds every single day. I had a similar type of surgery 9 years ago, and I don’t remember feeling this good, this soon after the surgery. I also ate meat and dairy at the time and hardly ever worked out.

In case you need to see how much animals are like us, please see this video on three horses that were reunited after being separated for several years and watch their reactions.

When I mention to people that I’m vegan, there are a range of responses I get, sometimes depending on how well I know the person. “Do you eat fish, though?” is one question. “How much percentage vegan are you?” is another. “What does that mean?” is a third question. And the most commonly asked are “Why? Don’t you miss meat? or dairy?”  Now I’m not always able to express myself easily verbally, but with writing, I seem to do alright, so I thought I would write a post about it, and if I educate some folks in the reading of this, well, I will feel it has served a purpose.   Because some folks are more comfortable  and fluid when talking about this issue, I’ve included some of their videos or links in this post.

Chase Avior, What the World Needs Now (a talk on veganism) [Ladies, note that the man giving the talk is vegan. You don’t need to eat meat to have a good body. :-)]

I’m a vegan because I love animals. Plain and simple. I LOVE ANIMALS. Notice I didn’t say just domesticated animals, but “animals,” period (or “full stop” for those of you in other countries that use different terminology.) Do I occasionally miss the smell of or taste of meat? Occasionally, if it smells particularly good. But here’s the thing. It stops there. I get this image in my mind of a cow being slaughtered, or a pig being slaughtered at just 6 months of age, or a chicken being scalded alive because the assembly line just goes too fast for the slaughterhouse workers to keep up, and any kind of desire to eat that meat vanishes.   (I feel the same way with milk chocolate and cookies made with eggs, because of the reasons discussed below. And that’s saying something because I have a HUGE sweet tooth!)

I was vegetarian for about two years before making the switch. I thought to myself “well, the chickens laying the eggs aren’t being harmed, and besides it says “free range” on the label.” I also thought “well, the cow normally has to produce milk so I’m not doing anything that isn’t necessary.” That is, until I started reading up more about the dairy industry and the poultry industry. That was before I took an Intro to Animal Science class, and learned that while it used to take turkeys 25 weeks to grow to full maturity of 18 pounds, nowadays, they grow to full maturity (in the industry’s eyes) in 16 weeks and are 25 pounds.  And you know what? Cows aren’t supposed to be pregnant for the majority of their lives (and they need to be impregnated by the industry in order for them to produce milk, as the lactation is meant for baby calves. Not humans, but baby calves.)  Cows are supposed to live for 20 years, not 6 or 7.  As humans, we wouldn’t want to be taking antibiotics every day, even when we’re not sick. So why would we want to put something into our bodies that was fed antibiotics almost every day of its life? It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

I remember my professor stating these figures in his powerpoint lecture with what sounded like a lot of pride.  He was proud of the agribusiness industry for having been so smart and learning how to make products so much more efficiently (the amount of feed that had to be consumed per turkey to reach maturity was half of what it used to be.) The agribusiness folks had been so smart when it came to increasing the efficiency.  He said it with pride, yet I heard it with disgust. In nature, an animal doesn’t change the way it grows so rapidly over a period of 40 years. In nature, a bird doesn’t grow its breasts so large that it can’t even support its own weight and topples over and dies.

I’ve decided I just don’t want to be related in any part to misery or pain to animals. People say to me, well, just because you decide to not eat meat, doesn’t mean that the agricultural business will stop producing meat. But here’s the thing. There is one thing that came across loud and clear during my professor’s powerpoints. Consumer preference is very important to agribusiness. It is one of the main factors that determines the path of their industry.  Lamb is no longer a preferred meat source, so less lambs are produced now than before in the United States.  Imagine, then, if consumers, one by one, or group by group, started to eat less meat and animal products.  Just think about what could happen! (And if you doubt that consumer preferences make a difference over the long run, well, just read this article on McDonalds and how they are closing hundreds of stores this year, and why.)

Now, just as with everything, people try to get their message across in different ways. Below is a video shot this past weekend by a friend of mine, BSG, at an event where lambs were being shown/exhibited, and at the same time, eaten by others.  If even one person heard the message, then that’s one less person who eats meat. It’s hard to look at the live animal in front of you and then look at what you’re eating and not make the connection between the two.  My personality is more of the way that Chase Avior speaks, but everyone has their own way of dealing with issues that they believe in passionately.

If you’re more into movies or books, a few I suggest are Peaceable Kingdom: Journey Home, and Milk? (available through Amazon Prime Instant Video), or Cowspiracy.  I’m going to go see the Maple Farm Sanctuary in MA that is featured in Peaceable Kingdom, in a few weeks, and can’t wait. I’ve been told I should watch Earthlings but I have also heard that it makes Food, Inc. (I believe I saw it through Netflix) look like a Disney movie on the agriculture industry, so forewarned is fair-warned.

If you have liked this post, please hit like or subscribe, or drop me a line below, and above all, please share it with others. Thank you for reading.

What a difference a week makes, and other things

This face...how can you NOT love this face??!! I took this last night as she was getting ready for bed. She sleeps right next to me.

This face…how can you NOT love this face??!! I took this last night as she was getting ready for bed. She sleeps right next to me.

Wow. I had my surgery one week ago today. I remember waking up in the recovery room and being like “yep, this is what I remember the pain to be from the last time.”  They gave me one of those handheld control things where you can click on the button to give yourself a dose of pain medication when you want it. Seeing as I was in pain, every time it lit up, I pressed it. Later on, they told me “we couldn’t believe how much morphine you gave yourself. How are you awake right now?” and the best line from one of the nurses (and I think she was serious) was “do you do street drugs?” (I think my answer was obvious when it was clear I had no idea what she was asking. I was like “um, I’m a runner?!” once another nurse clarified the question for me. I admit, I was a bit insulted. It was taking everything I had to just stay awake and answer her questions, and now she’s insulting me for it? I got the impression she was very bothered at having to take care of me. (Luckily she was only there for one shift, of which most of it, I slept, due to the effects of the aforesaid morphine.) Everyone else was much nicer.

After a week of percocet (yay, I love percocet, and no, it doesn’t bother my stomach at all, as many people have asked), and ibuprofen, I’m almost out of the percocet but definitely feeling more like myself. I want to get out there and run and I look at the runners around the reservoir with envy, but i know i have to take it easy. Not walking up stairs seems to be key. When I do, it seems like my incision tightens up or something, and I’m reminded “um, you just had surgery last week, you know.” Anywho, it does appear that the swelling in my stomach is starting to go down. I’m still hoping for that flat tummy, and I will have it, only a matter of time.  (Yes, I am determined.) I am utterly convinced that my being in shape BEFORE the surgery is totally helping with my recovery AFTER the surgery.  As long as I don’t sneeze (as I did the other day and burst a blood vessel in my leg, wow, that hurt!) or laugh too much, the healing will continue.

My mom has been visiting since last Thursday and has been a huge help. She gets bored just sitting around so she already cleaned my entire kitchen so it looks like it’s completely brand new, much better than I could have done.  Makes me inspired to look inside my fridge now – it’s super clean and organized!  Of course, having my furballs around me 24/7 is also a huge help on my mental outlook. It’s going to be so hard to go back to work when my healing time is over!

This week I will attend a training session so I can start doing independent contract work as a bar essay review grader – basically what it means is that people who are studying for the bar can do practice essays to prepare for the real thing. Then I get to grade them, and I get paid for my work. I passed the bar in three states, so these three I will start with (and was glad to see they are some of the more high paying states) and then I will see if I have time to do grading for other states. Just have to get myself certified for each state in which I want to grade. Looking forward to making some extra cash and putting it toward my savings. Granted, a lot of the work for that won’t start to hit until after the middle of May when bar review actually starts, but by then, I”l be done with classes (by next week actually!) and then I’ll still be off work. Since I don’t plan on taking more than one class this summer (medical terminology), I figure I can use the time wisely. That and to sell off stuff I don’t use anymore, or donate.

My stress level has definitely gone down since last week or the last day of work, about ten days ago. I’ve been able to get caught up on schoolwork, and even finish everything for one class, although admittedly, the workload for that class was negligible. I think it’s being home so much with my animals who have such a calming influence has something to do with it. I wish I could always spend this much time with them!  I’ve also been able to watch a lot of youtube videos of financial vloggers and am getting inspired at their progress at paying off debt and also saving at the same time. I’m an information junkie and admit it, I’m always ready to learn about new things, tips or tricks, and especially when it comes to finances and animals. I’ll add links to some of their channels on this blog in case you are curious.

I’m putting together ideas for more posts on this blog – since I have the time, I’d like to be more productive with it, and also use it to discuss causes and topics that really mean a lot to me.

One other thing I did – as you can see below, I’ve been collecting change for a bit of time now. Added it up and had $36.31 in total, so tonight my mom and I rolled coins together. I put everything that’s rolled up in my little fire-proof safe. And from now on, I’m going to be more vigilant about picking up change I see – in just the past two days, I found 26 cents! (Hey, mock if you will, but every little bit does add up eventually. There are even blogs out there of people who update their tally every day of found change.)

Total = 36.30. Not bad for just being loose spare change. Always keep your eyes to the ground, you never know what you might find.

Total = 36.30. Not bad for just being loose spare change. Always keep your eyes to the ground, you never know what you might find.

Farm Sanctuary: An Inspiration

I started reading a book last week by the same title as this post, Farm Sanctuary, by Gene Baur. I left some of it to be read after my surgery as I knew I would have a lot of down time and didn’t want to take too many things of value into the hospital. So no ipad traveled to the hospital with me. It’s a book I cannot put down.

The man is impressive with how steadfast he has been in his principles, and it all started with one animals who was considered “downed” at the Lancaster Stockyards. In case you are unfamiliar with this term, it means the animals who are brought to the stockyards and are usually too sick or weak to even get out of the container they’ve been trucked in on. Sometimes it’s a day or days old calf. Sometimes it’s an animal that the food industry considers “past its prime.” Basically, ti’s an animal that no one cares about and thinks it’s too expensive to put out of its misery – you see, the farmer can get more money for an animal that is still alive (even just barely) than one that is dead. And it costs money to euthanize an animal and put it out of its misery. God forbid, right? Wouldn’t want to treat a living creature with any sense of decency…. (Yes, you can tell that that attitude really angers me.)

Gene Baur just kept at what he felt was right.  He used common sense too. He got a degree from Cornell because he knew it would give him more credibility when talking to those in the agribusiness sectors. And it did. When he realized that there was a gentleman who lived close by to their sanctuary who worked in a business that involved the killing of animals, he invited him over for a meal (meatless, of course)  and everyone treated the man with respect. That gentleman didn’t feel threatened at the meal and he saw that they weren’t all a bunch of folks who were not willing to meet someone different from themselves. The man later ended up getting rid of his business.

If you don’t want to take my word for it that he’s a pretty cool guy, then just check out this video of him being interviewed by Jon Stewart. (Hat tip to my good friend DB who alerted me to it.)

If you notice in the interview, Jon Stewart mentions that a lot of vegans can be very rough on others who don’t eat the same way they do. I feel like if I were to preach to everyone, oh you should eat this, or don’t eat this, that will just push the person to do the opposite. No one likes to be told what to do after they’ve reached the age of what, 5? But you will also notice that Gene Baur doesn’t act all sanctimonious. (And he actually makes Jon’s day when he tells him that Baco Bits are vegan!)

Gene Baur will now be one of my inspirations for following my dreams and helping out animals. If he could start with basically nothing and persevere, then I can too. I can’t wait to go back to volunteering at the animal shelter once I am allowed to lift more than 8 pounds. That’s why I hope to recover quickly. (I’d like to go back and just socialize with the animals or take care of the chickens. In fact, I think I will do that as long as the shelter staff or my fellow volunteer, Janice, is ok with it.)  There is a lot of work to be done. Like Gene, I know I can’t save them all, but to save even one nor make even one’s life better for the rest of its days on this planet is to do right. As my mom and grandma used to say to me a lot while growing up, you never know if you don’t even try. (And with that, I’m off to continue working on my research paper of how to start a farm sanctuary in NC.)

Is there something you would like to do with your life but have been afraid to take the first steps toward doing?  Has any part of this post touched you? Have you read this book by Gene Baur? (Btw, he has a new book out which I can’t wait to read – it’s called Living the Farm Sanctuary Life.)

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