Awakening

Four of my inspirations...Bonkers, Osito, HoneyBun, and Callie in the back.

Four of my inspirations…Bonkers, Osito, HoneyBun, and Callie in the back.

When I look back to my life almost 5 years ago, what I see in myself makes me sad. I was sleep walking through life. The only time I think I felt alive is when I was running. And that’s because I was running from a lot of problems, or maybe the better word to use is doubts. Doubts about myself. Doubts about my marriage. About whether or not I wanted to have kids. About whether what I had then was all that there is to be in life. Continue reading

Things and People That Inspire Me

Osito. She inspires me to be a better person.

Osito. She inspires me to be a better person. I just realized I posted this pic in my last blog post too. Clearly, I love it (and her!)

Some days, I just get the urge to write. Like today. Yesterday, I felt the inspiration to get rid of crap in my apartment. So today, I thought I might share with you some of the videos, stories, etc., that inspire me, and hopefully you can take away at least one good thing from this post. And if you like this type of post, let me know. Maybe it’ll become a regular thing? :-)

I don’t have TV so I only catch up on TV shows on netflix or the internet. I do watch a lot of youtube videos, though, because I feel like I can always learn from other people, whether it be in terms of my attitude, or skills such as fixing the chain on my bike), how to eat better, or how to save money and be better disciplined while doing it. The ways to learn are just endless. And of course, there are the cute animal videos that we all like to see. (If you don’t, well, personally, you might want to go to the doctor because it’s quite possible “you’re dead inside.” LOL)

This morning when I got up and was puttering around the apartment, I went to my Favorites list on youtube, and started listening to some of them and really thinking about why they inspire me. I’ve listed a few below.

Minimalists: Living with Less (from The Feed channel) 

Exploring Alternatives: Going against the Grain Can Be Hard. They also have a blog you can see here. They are a young married couple that have a van all set up to live in full time. They are super down to earth, and the first time I saw this video, I really needed that encouragement. 

Carrie LeighAnna, What I Eat and How I Meal Plan. She used to overeat, and I have found myself doing that over the past year. No more!  She has inspired me to eat better. 

Becky Schade, who writes the blog Interstellar Orchard. This video really hit home for me. She realized something was wrong in her life and did something about it. And now, she’s written a book which launches in just two days!!  

A friend of mine posted the following story on Facebook earlier today: The Radioactive Man Who Returned to Fukushima to Feed the Animals that Everyone Else Left Behind. How amazing is he?

And sometimes the inspiration comes from an image a friend sends to me:

This is from the Story of Stuff Project page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/storyofstuff.

This is from the Story of Stuff Project page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/storyofstuff.

I hope that these inspire you today – please share your thoughts about what inspires you in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

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Little Things for Which I am Thankful

All bundled up for the first walk of spring -a sweater, a jacket and a scarf! I <3 Osito.

All bundled up for the first walk of spring -a sweater, a jacket and a scarf! I <3 Osito.

My friend Kelvin, over at Going Uncomplicated, recently wrote a post about his trip to Haiti last year. Even though he didn’t write it as a minimalism post, it really made me think. We live in such a world of abundance, and there are so many people out there that have barely anything to their name. Some of them are happy, some aren’t. But I will be that more of us in the “first world” with our “first world problems” are unhappy, even with all of our stuff.

After I read Kelvin’s post, I thought to myself, and here I am – my goal is to pare down my clothes so I only have one dresser, and some in my closet. God, we don’t know how lucky we have it! Anyway….

  1. It snowed this morning. NO, I am not thankful for that, but I have to admit, it makes it seem all the better when the sun shines around here. I’m sincerely hoping it is the end of it, but who knows?
  2. I took Osito out for her first walk of spring. Although we didn’t go that far (she is 14 and we have to build her endurance back up again for our summertime walks/carries), I could tell she was happy and relieved to be outside. Even little ones like to feel the sun on their face, you know?
  3. I’m going to be seeing my best friend and her husband tonight for dinner. I don’t usually go out to dinner, and I don’t get to see her or them often enough, so it’s a definite treat for me. Something to look forward to and motivate me to get some stuff done, like this post.
  4. Some of you are friends with me on facebook so you already know this, but I am thankful that my surgery to have my fibroids removed (and other body parts) has been scheduled. April 21st, I go under the knife. I am happy that it is the day AFTER the Boston Marathon, as I live on the route, and I love to cheer the runners on, elite runners, complete strangers and friends. Also, I’m lucky to have a few people offering to help me out with rides, pet duty, etc.

    Speaking of the Boston Marathon, Jill of Jill Will Run will be staying with me this year. This is HUGE. We have known each other online for 7 years now and we have never met face to face, before now!  I’m really looking forward to taking her around to see the sights of Boston.

  5. I paid my taxes this week. NO, I’m not thankful for the fact that I owed (due to my 1099 work last year), but I am grateful that I had the money saved to pay them.
  6. The snow is melting. Finally! I can even see some of the soft dirt on the path around the reservoir behind my building. I’m hoping to go for a run myself this coming week, as my cold is just about gone. I think will do immeasurable things for my outlook and self-esteem.

Anyway, folks, just a short post today, which Kelvin’s post inspired me to write. (By the way, if you haven’t checked out his blog, you definitely should. He’s a great writer.)

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Little Things for Which I am Thankful

Max, my diva....sleeps

Max, my diva….sleeps

I know, it’s been a long time since I wrote one of these posts. But there are a few things I would like to talk about, briefly.

  1. Had a doc appointment with the surgeon who will be removing my fibroids, via hysterectomy. Before I left, he said “that bulk you are talking about in your abdomen, that will go away when you have the surgery.” Thank God. I don’t think of myself as a vain person but I (usually) work out a lot, and I push myself to lift heavier, sweat more with cardio, do more miles, etc. So when someone asked me if I was “expecting” about a month or two ago, I was devastated. I was like “my god, has it gotten that bad?!” I called a colleague and asked her to please shoot me. I used to  have a very flat stomach and a six pack, and that’s what I WILL have again. I worked too hard for it the first damn time.

    So why such a drastic step in surgery? Well, fibroids can have side effects, and they will keep coming back until you hit that certain stage in a female’s life where you no longer have to worry about kids. I already know I don’t want kids and hell, I’m 42, so in my opinion, “go ahead, take it all!” In case  you are worried, they will leave my ovaries so I won’t go through all the crap that would otherwise occur, just about immediately. (Sorry, men, if that’s TMI. I know women will totally understand why I mention this.)The surgeon was extremely nice, and I don’t know why, but I was surprised. He is the head of the practice, and he said he himself will do my surgery. He was recommended to me by two doctors I trust, so I feel like I’m in good hands. It still has to be scheduled, but I know I will be out of work for 4-6 weeks. Since I’m in good shape, I’m hoping my recovery won’t be too bad. I already know what to expect in the pain department, so that is an improvement over the first time. I know that it will hurt like hell when I shift from sitting or laying down to standing, and that walking will help a ton. I know it’ll hurt like hell when I cry and when I laugh. But that’s ok, I know it will eventually go away. Fear of the unknown is always worse than the reality. 

My Sebastian....when he sits like that, it's everything I can do to not reach over and poke him in the belly!

My Sebastian….when he sits like that, it’s everything I can do to not reach over and poke him in the belly!

2. Uber and my smart phone. Since the weather has absolutely sucked here in Boston for the past several weeks,  (no exaggeration), I have begun to use Uber via my iphone to get home from work at the gym on Thursday evenings. It just feels so nice to be able to be picked up and make it home within 5-8 minutes, rather than waiting for the bus, which may, or (more likely) not be on time, in the freezing cold, after I’ve worked an 11ish hour day. I know it costs money but I figure it’s worth it to keep my sanity, and it gets me home to the furballs a bit earlier so I can enjoy hanging out with them before I fall asleep for the night. The app is pretty cool because it shows you where “your” car is on a map relative to where you are, and gives you information about what car you will be in, who will be driving and license plate info. I don’t know why, but having that info makes me feel safer.

3. Zipcar, so I can enjoy my Sunday mornings at the shelter in Dedham, working with the farm animals. There is a pair of goats at the shelter who have been very skiddish the entire time that they have been there. But today, while I was cleaning out their pen and leaning over, I realized the male goat had leaned in close to me, and was sniffing around my ear, checking me out. He must have liked what he found because he did it a few more times. That means progress. He knows I’m not there to hurt him. I felt like I had scored a major victory.  I know I have a good way with animals – I think they can sense I mean them no harm, so it just cemented further into my mind the idea of working with animals in some shape or capacity, whether it be at a shelter or on a farm, or at a sanctuary. I’m going to try to keep an open mind about the opportunities out there. I do know I have a lot to learn, and I look forward to that.

My ladies, in their girly pink princess beds. <3

My ladies, in their girly pink princess beds. <3

4.  I was sick this week, and am still fighting the last stages of my cold. The other morning, I woke up to having five animals in the bed with me. Yes, 5 of 6! (For some reason, I can’t get them all in it at the same time, lol.) Four cats, and of course, Osito, squeezed right next to me. I felt very loved. It may not be the situation I expected to be in at this stage of my life, but it’s one that makes me happy, so it’s alright. Yes, I do get lonely sometimes, not having dated or cared to date in a while, but I have hope that I will find the right person for me at the right time. And one thing I know is that they will LOVE animals. Because, well, these furballs are staying whether or not anyone else likes it.

5. Received some information on the house last week and I think I am going to likely go with the smaller model to keep costs down. I’ve watched and re-watched some of my favorite tiny house videos and it’s reaffirmed in me that I really don’t need that much. Plus, I think back to when I was considering moving all of us into an RV. It’s reminded me to focus on what is truly important and when you do that, it’s very easy to let stuff go.

6. Daylight Savings Time. It may make it harder to get up in the morning but seeing the sunset at night over the Charles again while on my way home, it’s just absolutely beautiful. I know it’s only a matter of time until it’s very bright early in the morning. I know that very soon, (if the snow melts a bit more and stays gone) I will be able to go for my morning runs on the Charles, and I can’t wait.  There is no better feeling than being out there, running along, feeling like nothing can stop you, one foot landing in front of the other, and seeing the sun rise, turning the water a beautiful shade of lavender. Put the crew teams on the water at the same time, and it’s so inspiring. Best way to start the day, in my opinion.

My BonkMan (aka Bonkers) and the diva, Max. They fight when awake, so this picture was particularly endearing to me to capture.

My BonkMan (aka Bonkers) and the diva, Max. They fight when awake, so this picture was particularly endearing to me to capture.

7. Last but not least, while I was home sick last week, I decided to give up coffee. I felt like I was depending on it too much to get going in the mornings, and also, because I don’t like drinking it black, I realized how much extra sugar I was putting into my body. So now, every morning when I wake up, I have a cold glass or two of water with lemon juice. It helps my congestion and also gives me some energy.

Oh, and did I mention it’s snowing AGAIN? Probably not going to amount to much, but the ability to be warm and safe inside, looking out at it, while knowing these furballs are safe and cozy warm with me, well, it’s a good feeling.

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Never Stop Being Amazed

My grandmother died back in 2002, and she was definitely my best friend and soul mate. I don’t think your soul mate is necessarily the person you find to be with, but can be someone who you just feel a certain connection with, that you can’t put in words. That’s how it was with us.

So, think back to 2002. The internet was not nearly as developed as it is today. I remember trying to explain the concept of email to my grandmother. I think I failed horribly, btw. But it’s pretty amazing to think of all she saw in her lifetime. Born in 1908, she lived through two world wars and a horrible great depression that shaped the way she thought about possessions and money, as well as my mom’s thoughts on the matter, and in turn, mine. During her lifetime, she saw something other than birds take flight for the very first time. She saw a man land on the moon. She saw the Berlin wall come down. She saw this new “thing” called the internet. It makes me wonder what else can be invented by the time I leave this earth. And yes, I cut her a little slack for not understanding my “post office in the air/sky” kind of description to how email works. She had already taken in enough.

Flash forward to today. I think of the internet and I am amazed at how it has changed my life. I’ve met many people online – some through my previous blog, who I still talk to today and have met in person, and hopefully will host a third online friend for the Boston Marathon (Jill Will Run). I’ve met people in online classes via facebook (KEB) and also in person at tiny house workshops (BH) that have introduced me to others (ahem, BSG) (I also wouldn’t have known about the workshop without the internet.) Some online friends have really been helpful in giving me advice about my diet, and simple living. (DBN and JWT) I can’t thank them enough. I’m a total sponge – ready and willing to soak it all up. I will never get to that point in my life where I think I know everything (um, did that when I was a stupid teenager), and if I do ever get to that point, you all have permission to call me on it and kick my butt!

Most recently, I joined an online facebook group of people who live in NC and like tiny houses. Amazing how it has changed my life – through one of them, I found out about a builder in a small town outside of Charlotte, and now that tiny house dream I have been harboring for some time, is finally going to be a reality. In fact, when I was talking to the project manager (LB) over lunch, I found myself thinking “I could be friends with her if I just met her on the street, too.” I really liked her forthrightness.  Another person (QD) introduced herself to me in that group, saying she is from about 45 minutes away from where I live now.  And when I met her in person, I tell you, it seemed like I had known her forever. That’s rare. And a third made a trip to meet me in person to tell me how proud she was of me for what I was doing, making such a big change in my life. (BLL)

I met one person (DO) on youtube, with whom once I started talking, I felt very comfortable.  He always gives me candid advice, as he has no motive to do otherwise or blow sunshine up my butt. And that’s what I really like about him. His honesty. I would never have “met” him without the internet. Hard to believe.

Of course, there are those of you who I have “met” on here, on this blog, and some of those relationships have translated over to things like facebook or email. (JN, CL, RG).  I learn from all of you and I appreciate all the comments and support. I find writing on here to be cathartic. Some days, I start writing in my journal and then I think, no, this is something I need to share with others. I’m not alone in feeling this way.    

This is not to say that I think online friends of mine will replace my in-person friends. To the contrary, I think they just add to my world and I hope I contribute back half as much as I receive. In fact, when I think about moving from this area, I think first of my best friend. She is so much like a sister to me. I knew she felt the same way when her husband said to me “you can’t move…you’re going to be an Auntie this summer!”  (I already knew she did, intuitively, but it still felt good to hear that.)  Her dad asked me the other day how I would feel about leaving the life that I have created for myself in Boston, and she and her family are a HUGE part of that world. But I will always have them in my heart. And I just know, this is what I need to do now, for me. At one point, even the baby bird has to take that first step and see if it can fly.

So, I’m not sure where I am going with this post, but I felt the need to write it. If I have left anyone out, it’s completely not intentional. I will blame my foggy-headiness to my being sick and congested.

How has the internet changed your life? Are there people in it that never would have been without it? 

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Getting Past Fear of Change

I'm not the best photographer, but this is the size of the house I am hoping to get. No loft, everything is on a single level. Kitchen to the right of the door and living space and bathroom to the left.

I’m not the best photographer, but this is the size of the house I am hoping to get. No loft, everything is on a single level. Kitchen to the right of the door and living space and bathroom to the left.

A friend wrote to me last evening, as I was writing up this post: “Your life path seems so logical to anyone who knows you and has seen your progression but sounds like such a jolt to anyone who doesn’t!” I was like, “are you sitting right next to me, invisible, right now??”

As I take more steps to making such big changes in my life, it’s natural for those around me to worry. It’s natural for them to ask questions to make sure I’ve thought all the scenarios through. And it’s natural for those questions to get into my psyche sometimes and make me doubt myself.

Artist's rendering of what the  inside of my tiny home may look like. The railing is there if you want to have a raised kitchen floor. Because I plan on adopting more disabled animals like Osito in the future, I will have it all one level.

Artist’s rendering of what the inside of my tiny home may look like. The railing is there if you want to have a raised kitchen floor. Because I plan on adopting more disabled animals like Osito in the future, I will have it all one level.

Here’s the thing. I can’t let fear run my life. I can’t let the fear of the unknown run my life. And to be perfectly frank, I feel like that’s how i have lived most of my life up until now. When in high school, I followed the assumed path “well of course you’re going to college.”  I had one parent (Dad) who had gone to college and then pursued a masters degree while working, and another parent (Mom) who had not gone beyond high school. Dad was the breadwinner (until the time that it became my mom when they divorced, along with child support and alimony from my dad.) My idea of someone being successful had been a person who wears a suit to work (or at the very least a shirt and tie) and who made a good salary. You went to work at 9, did your thing, came home at night. Get up the following morning and repeat, until the weekend comes.

A better photo - the bumpout you see will house the hot water heater, so it's easily accessible to repair without having to rip apart the house from the inside.

A better photo – the bumpout you see will house the hot water heater, so it’s easily accessible to repair without having to rip apart the house from the inside.

So I went to college. First the plan was to get a business degree. Then I realized (after struggling through statistics as a freshman) “well, that sucks, I hate math…” and decided to switch majors to one I did like — English. Not exactly the moneymaker, no. So the logical path seemed to be “be a teacher or go to law school.” So on to law school, I did. I pushed back the feelings of “maybe this isn’t right for me,” because I had already sunk a lot of time, effort, and not to mention, CASH, by the time the end of my first year rolled around. Sure, maybe it wasn’t really feeling like something I loved, but what kind of job could I get with an English degree and just one year of law school under my belt?

So, on to the safe route AGAIN. I feel like that’s what my life has been, one safe option after another. So when people bring up the “What ifs?” (which I know they do out of concern and love), it can sometimes really stress me out. And at times, it has, interrupting my sleep or my eating. A good friend asked me yesterday “What if your pets get sick? What if you fall and break your leg? What if you can’t find a job?” But I think I have gotten to the point now where when people raise these questions, I don’t see them as a reflection on or criticism of me for making potentially wrong choices. I know they just want to make sure I have thought everything through. And I know that some of these questions are being projected out of their own fears for themselves. 

I have thought a lot of things through. I have played all those negative scenario “what ifs?” through my mind. But I have also come to the conclusion that if I wait to have it all figured out before I make these big changes, I might as well never even try to chase my simple dreams. And they really are “simple” in so many ways. A tiny house with just the right amount of room for what I love and that doesn’t take forever to clean. A life with lots of pets and unconditional love around me.  A job that leaves me feeling fulfilled. (Believe me, I know there will definitely be some days when I will question myself and my choices when working with animals. People are cruel and do mean and stupid things where animals are concerned.)

This is the interior of the model house. i will not have wood paneling on the walls, the walls won't be orange, and there will be more cabinets, a stove, a fridge, and a stackable washer and dryer. And more windows.

This is the interior of the model house. i will not have wood paneling on the walls, the walls won’t be orange, and there will be more cabinets, a stove, a fridge, and a stackable washer and dryer. And more windows.

As I have said to some friends, I cannot sit and just not do anything to change my circumstances.  If I were to do that, I might as well shut up and go home. The thought of doing that — of not moving forward, even in small steps, depresses the hell out of me. I have to take a leap of faith in myself. Not everything in life can be completely planned out. I know that when push comes to shove, I will make things happen.

So, am I afraid? Of course I am. I’m human. I appreciate the care and concern of those around me. But I just refuse to let them keep me frozen in place and ignore what my heart tells me it really wants me to do. No more. And every time I pick up my baby girl Osito (if you’re not familiar with her, there are tons of pics of her on this blog), I know in my heart I’m following the right path. Animals – helping animals that is, is where it’s at. It’s where I need to go, and need to be.

My siding will look like this - vinyl siding on bottom with cedar shake on top. It reminds me of the Cape with the cedar shake. It will likely be different colors, though.

My siding will look like this – vinyl siding on bottom with cedar shake on top. It reminds me of the Cape with the cedar shake. It will likely be different colors, though.

If you have liked this post, please hit like or subscribe or drop me a line below. How do you get past fear?

I’m Alive!

My Max. You just wanna squeeze him in this photo, don't ya??

My Max. You just wanna squeeze him in this photo, don’t ya??

Sorry if any of you have worried about me over the past few weeks but a lot has taken place. I started school and was taking 11 credits of classes in addition to working about 42 hours per week. In short, it was too much. The five credit BIO class was killing me. It took up literally every single free moment of my time. And I found myself asking “how does my knowing about photosynthesis actually help me help animals?!” So I ended up dropping down to just 6 credits. Well, 7 credits when I start the Intro to Vet Tech class next week.

Winter scene on land I hope to soon take care of (because really, do any of us really own the land we live on?)

Winter scene on land I hope to soon take care of (because really, do any of us really own the land we live on?)

I went to North Carolina last week and think I found a place to live. And a little house in which to live. It will likely be about 396 sq feet and on a 2 acre wooded lot. Some of it will have to be cleared, of course, and I’ll either hook up to city water or dig a well (the lot is up an incline so it may be more expensive in the long run to connect to city water due to the size of the pipe, but we’ll find out about that as time goes on.  It’ll be a little bit outside of a small town outside of Charlotte, and I think it’s what I need right now. When I was down there, I went to the property one time on my own (I let the builder’s property manager know what I was doing) and just kind of wandered around a bit and listened to the breeze in the trees. A car passed, and once it was gone, I realized how quiet it was. And I thought of myself, sitting outside with Osito on my lap about a year in the future, just listening to the breeze and the birds in the trees.  It will be so different from how I live now, in a big city, in an apartment, but I think it’s just what I need.

Um....hello?

Um….hello?

Living in a smaller space will mean giving up or letting go of more stuff from my life, and it’s something I look forward to doing. Every time I let go of something else, it makes me feel lighter and freer.

I also met with two different vet offices when I was down there. One was a companion animal office in a part of town that I learned was not so great, by personal observation and by talking to a new friend (who feels like an old one, I am very glad to say.)  The other was an equine vet practice that I learned was a bit unusual due to its size and the fact that it actually had a vet tech. I guess a lot of equine vets don’t usually have their own vet techs. Usually, they rely on the horse owner and at most, have a receptionist.

<3 my Bonkers

So, my plan will be to try working with companion animals (with which I feel very comfortable right now) and volunteer with larger animals. I also found from talking to different vet techs that the hands-on experience is definitely more needed for me right now than to be taking a ton of classes through a distance-based program. I’m going to continue on with the classes I’m already taking and take a Medical Terminology class this summer, for sure. But I think the regular Bio and Chem can wait until I’m quite certain that formal schooling is the way to go and worth the small bump in pay it would give me as a result.

Just when I wondered whether I should keep my cat condo, this happened.  <3 HoneyBun!

Just when I wondered whether I should keep my cat condo, this happened.

I can’t wait for the next phase of my life to start. Until then, I’m going to save every penny I can to put down on the house and to make sure I have enough savings. I know my salary will likely be a third of what it is now and I’m preparing myself for that mentally. I may have some medical stuff coming up in the next month or so that will require me to spend some time out of work and if I do, I know it will be a good break to keep myself focused and on the positive, right track. (And who knows, maybe I will even have more time to blog?!) :-)

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