I’m Alive!!!

Hey everyone, I didn’t forget this blog exists. It’s just been a completely crazy past month or so, and once I explain it, I think you’ll agree.

Hm….so I went to Utah for a two week working interview with Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. I had been asked to come out for such an interview by three departments but I chose to work with bunnies for my two weeks. And good news, I was offered a job last week and gave my notice at my job this week! So in August, guess what I’m doing?? That’s right, driving to Utah with my five cats and my dog!! Woohoo!!! (Does anyone have any sedatives they can give me to take for myself during that drive??) I kid, I kid, it won’t be me that is sedated, if anyone, but the cats, who will otherwise probably drive me insane with non stop crying.

Also, during those two weeks, Bonkers, my elder statesman cat, got sick and was taken to the vet by some amazing ladies on three different occasions, and had surgery last week. I had to take him back to the animal hospital this past Saturday to have a drain removed, and then, guess what? His wound got infected! Oh, did I forget to mention his procedure was for an anal abscess, and that’s like the worst possible area of your body to have to deal with bacteria while healing!  So two nights ago, I took him to the animal hospital again. Yes, the bills have been hefty, to the tune of probably about 5K when tomorrow is all said and done, but I love the little guy to death.

This weekend,I’m going car shopping!! And slowly giving away all of my furniture! The cedar chest and dresser have already been spoken for, and another friend is taking the loveseat, couch and probably a bookcase.  And I’ve offered my bed to a couple who currently live in a furnished apartment but who fear that their landlord may be removing the furniture in a few months! I’m loving getting rid of stuff, it’s so liberating. People do not exaggerate when they talk about how good it makes you feel.

AND, my author has come back with some extra questions for me to work on in flushing out new details for the book.

OH, and I almost forgot! I bought an RV!! I rented a space in a mobile rv park in town about a 12 minute drive from my new job, and it just got delivered to the spot yesterday! It’s a 1999 Fleetwood Prowler 5th wheel – 30 1/2 feet long, and it has two slides. Laminate flooring made to look like wood on the inside and pretty much my color scheme but with wood colored cabinets rather than the white ones I would have preferred. (You can’t have everything you want.)

So, pics will be coming! I just wanted to let you know I’m here and good but going a bit insane with so much to deal with all at the same time.

Oh, and did I forget to mention – my best friend had her baby last weekend and my mom is getting married a week from tomorrow??? (THUS necessitating the need to have a car after this weekend!)

I will share more soon!

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Just Take It One Step at a Time

First, I’ll admit my iPod Nano’s playlist terribly needs updating, but that’s a story for another day. What matters is a song I heard the other day while running – “One Step at a Time” by Jordin Sparks. (No mocking please, and hey, I told you the playlist is outdated!!)

As I’ve been working steadily on achieving my dreams these past several months, I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they find me inspiring. That I’ve been gotten them to thinking to follow their dreams too, to not just let them go. While I find this very flattering, I have to admit, it blows my mind in a way.

Let me explain. When we’re kids, we have all these dreams of what we want to do. I have a few nephews that at various times of growing up, have wanted to be a tractor trailer driver. They were totally into cars and trucks at that stage of their life, and I loved seeing the excitement on their faces, and that 100% confidence in what they were saying that it seems only kids have these days. As adults, we are sometimes (ok, oftentimes) afraid to admit what we really want to do with our lives. We’re so worried about what others will think. What others will then say to us – “are you crazy? why would you do that? what about all the degrees you’ve worked for? can you really afford to live on that kind of money?” And the list goes on. You have to remember the source of those words and determine for yourself if you want to give them credence. You have to remember the motivation for those questions – is that person projecting their own fear onto you? Are they simply concerned? Are they completely out of touch with who this new “you” is?

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with all the changes you see yourself having to make. Remember, they don’t need to be done all at once. Just take it one step at a time. Just do one small action every day. Maybe it’s that you start web searching about different careers or find someone’s blog talking about what you want to do. Maybe you look into what air fares cost to the part of the country you want to move to. Maybe  you look up academic programs to investigate what other careers are out there that might suit you better than the one in which you currently find yourself. The point is, DO SOMETHING.  The easiest way to make something feel less overwhelming is to make a decision to do more than just think about it. Get some stuff out of your head.  Write it down and put it somewhere you will be forced to look at it consistently. Don’t let yourself get stuck in that trap known as Paralysis by Analysis.

And, while I know this is easier for me to say than for you to necessarily do, ignore the haters and the doubters. You know how many times it’s been suggested to me to be a lawyer for PETA or some other animal-welfare type of organization? You know how much I HATED being a lawyer?? Let the people who love being a lawyer and who also love animals do that. I am perfectly happy to let them.

If the life you want to lead requires you to live on a smaller salary, then start taking steps to live on less. Everyone’s financial situation is different, of course, but just because you get paid X dollars per paycheck doesn’t mean  you have to spend all X of those dollars. Just try saving $5-10 per week. It might not seem like a lot in the beginning but if left to grow, it will. Name the account into which you put it your “Freedom Fund.” Because that’s what it is – your freedom in the future. And by putting every small cent into it, you bring that future closer to your present. Just DO SOMETHING. Because if you don’t, well then, you’re still in the same place. I can’t tell you how long I let myself be stuck in that place. Many, many years. Many years when I just shoved that part of my gut down to a place where it was so muffled I couldn’t understand what it was trying to say.  It ended up with me having crying jags almost every day, and to sessions with a therapist where I was in tears that were so painful they were the type that made me feel like I couldn’t breathe afterward, as if I was a little kid. Please, don’t do that to yourself.

I admit, all of this is scary at first. But it’s also exciting. Focus on that, rather than the scariness. That’s what I am doing about my trip to Utah in a few weeks. I’ll be spending two weeks at Best Friends, working with bunnies. I don’t know a ton about bunnies, but guess what? I’m going to learn. I’m going to go there with an open, observing mind, ask questions, and show what I’m made of. I’m not stupid and I’m a hard worker so I aim to make those two qualities show!  And yes, it will be hot, but it’s a dry heat, and I figure if I can get through those two weeks’ temps, I should be good in the future. (And believe me, if you had told me that this is what I would be doing, even two years ago, I would not have believed you.)

Ever since I started taking the steps to listen to myself and turn my thoughts into actions, I have felt so much happier with my life. That’s what I wish for you. Just take it one step at a time. And remember, breathe. Because breathing is a good thing! :-)

If you’ve liked this post, please hit like or subscribe or drop me a line! Oh, and read this book: Dream It, Do It: Inspiring Stories of Dreams Come True, by Sharon Cook and Graciela Sholander. (Just skip over the section on Lance Armstrong because the book was published before the truth came out about him.)

Realizations – Questions, and More Realizations

Marconi Point on Cape Cod - the fog had rolled in, making everything seem other-worldly.  It was a very big drop down to the water.

Marconi Point on Cape Cod – the fog had rolled in, making everything seem other-worldly. It was a very big drop down to the water, which may not actually show on this photo. As in, probably a hundred feet or more.

I realized last night that my ex (as in husband) is remarried. It’s one of those things you know can happen and it shouldn’t be a surprise. That’s not what bothers me. In fact, I’m glad for him that he is remarried and found someone. When I left our marriage, I knew he loved me more than I did him, and I wanted him to find someone who would love him just as much as I knew he loved me. And it seems he found that someone. So now I can really tell myself, “see, you didn’t ruin his life as you once feared you might have when all that negative self-talk played such a large role in your life.”  It just threw me for a loop at first but I think that’s normal. Continue reading

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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