Comforting animals at the end:  a plea for them

Comforting animals at the end: a plea for them

 

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Capturing Snuggles mid-shake, enjoying his walk in the cool mountain air

I would like to ask a favor of you, the reader.  As you read through this, if you feel like it’s touched you in some way, or you think that there is someone out there who can benefit from reading it, I would ask you to share it with them.  Thank you.

I came home from work yesterday and said to my roommate, “I need to go somewhere with Snuggles and feel the sun on my face.”  You see, right before I left work, some folks brought in their 14 year old dog to have her euthanized.  She was a total sweetheart, and I could tell that they loved her.  But when it came time to be with her at the end, they decided they couldn’t be there through the procedure with the doctor.

I brought treats into the visiting room for her, and she eagerly gobbled them up.  (Chicken and yogurt, in case you’re wondering.) When her parents left the room, she tried to scramble after them.  She thought she was leaving too.  But her arthritic legs wouldn’t let her move fast enough. It broke my heart.

I took her into the back to our treatment area, and offered her treats again.  She had no interest in them whatsoever.  She kept staring at the door toward where she had last seen her family.  Why weren’t they with her?  I could see the confusion in her eyes, and knew she was afraid.  I petted her all over her back and hair was just shedding off of her nonstop.  A coworker got her some water in case she was thirsty.  But no, her panting was stress panting.  I kept hugging her and kissing her head on the head.  It’s all I could do.

One of the nurses said it used to bother her when owners wouldn’t be there during the euthanasia procedure with their pets, but she’s gotten used to it.  Me, I NEVER want to get used to that.

I wished I could offer to take over her care and let her live just one day longer.  But I couldn’t, and maybe it was truly her time to cross over.

 

snuggles profile.jpgA few times, when we have not been busy out front at the desk, I’ve asked my coworkers to cover for me so that I can comfort an animal at the end.  I tried to do this for this pup, whispering to her, “it’s okay, it’s okay, shhh, shhh,” but the doctor was having problems with her veins, and finally the pup lost her patience and nipped at her.  So I had to leave as she was muzzled.  If she bit me, my doctor would get into trouble for it.  I’m a receptionist who loves animals, not a veterinary technician.

Imagine at the end of your life, you’re scared, you don’t know who any of these people are with you, but you see a white coat and it scares the crap out of you.  So you lash out and for that, you get a muzzle put on you.

I understand why they had to muzzle her.  I do.  The human part of me does, anyway.  But that inner child that has always felt like I sometimes understand animals better than I do humans — that part grieved for her.   I wanted to be with her, to tell her that she was loved, that she was going to be okay, and wouldn’t feel any more pain as she slowly fell into a very deep, never-ending sleep.

The vet that performed the procedure is amazing when it comes to her love of animals, and that is why she is my vet.  She’s been a vet for many, many years, and I’m sure it doesn’t get any easier.  I’m sure that’s part of why she tries so hard to heal them and keep them alive.

Here is my plea to animal parents out there.  I know it’s hard to say goodbye to your pet.  I know, believe me.  I’ve comforted so many of you in our visiting room as you make that difficult decision.  And each time, it touches another part of my heart.   To many of you, I know they are a member of your family.  Please think of how it would feel to you at the end of your life, to not have one familiar face around you.  You’re not sure why you’re being stuck with needles, and you’re confused.  No one can explain it to you in a language you understand.  Please rethink not being with them at the end.  Your pet has given so much love to you during their (comparatively) short stay here on this earth.  Think of this as your last gift that you can give to them, to be with them at the end.

And if you still cannot bring yourself to do it, then just know that there is at least one person who will love them and hug them and comfort them at the very end.  That person is me and the countless other “me’s” that just wear other faces. We will do the best we can for your baby, but just know it’s not the same as feeling the comforting hands and kisses and words from you, their parent.

Please know, I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty or sound like I am lecturing.  I am simply trying to give a voice to those who can’t speak in our language, but who definitely feel many of the same emotions as we do.

Please enjoy the pictures of my little Snuggles enjoying his “mommy and me” time as well as the beautiful flowers I saw the other day at the ABQ BioPark.   Take time out to savor the little things in life.

Thank you, as always, for reading.  And if you think there is someone out there who should read this, please do share it with them.  Thank you.

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Thank you letters

 

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image from pixabay.com

Remember when you were a kid and your parents had you write out thank you letters after you received a gift for your birthday or a holiday like Hanukkah or Christmas?  Have you ever gotten a thank you note from someone out of the blue for something you did at your job, and you’re like, “I was just doing my job, wow!”

 

When I was at Harvard, I kept all of the thank you notes I received, even via email, and posted them on my wall near my desk.  I liked to think of it as my wall of positivity. When I was having a very bad day, I’d look at the wall and remind myself, “THIS is why I do what I do.” Sometimes students would see the notes and remark on them, and tell me that it made them feel even more comfortable meeting and talking with me.

I had a great Zoom meeting with my faculty advisor this morning and felt really inspired afterward.  We talked about how I can use my writing skills in humane education and she gave me lots of ideas and suggestions.  I remember a comment she made on one of my assignments – had I ever thanked the Creative Writing teacher I had in college?  And I thought of my work study job I had in college, where a true gentleman by the name of Carl G. Martin was my supervisor and ran the Office of Student Services.  I’ve thought of writing to him and thanking him for the influence he had on me in my college years.  But I’ve not done it. So, that ends today.

There are many people I want to thank for how they have positively changed my life.  But today, I’m going to start with just one, and I would like to encourage any of you to send me your thank you letters and I will gladly post them here.   Maybe you want to thank someone who is no longer with us, or someone you have no idea how to find or reach.  You will receive all the credit, of course.  I won’t edit them, I promise.

So here it goes, my first thank you letter, to my friend David B.   

Dear David,  

Thank you for having been my friend for the past 12 years.  Thank you for always being such a calming, positive influence (even when you didn’t think you were.)  Thank you for always be willing to sit and listen and then answer probing, thought-provoking questions in a non-judgmental way.  Thank you for being “that poor bastard who had to deal with you for more than eight hours a day for two years, sharing an office with you!” (That’s what my now ex-hb said at one point, and I remember telling you, and laughing about it.)   

Thank you for being that friend who was willing to sit across a table from me the night before I left my marriage.  You held my hand as I sobbed, hysterically at times, not being able to catch my breath.  I remember you giving me a key to your apartment in case I needed a place to stay.  You didn’t say much that night, and I suspect you knew you didn’t need to.  I just needed to know I wasn’t alone.  I needed to know I wasn’t a horrible person, and that I was loved, even though what I was contemplating doing was ripping me up inside. And you let me know that I would be okay.  It might take time, but I would be okay.

Thank you for watching me grow these past several years and for supporting my newest quest to start a master’s program at the young old age of 44, and not calling me insane for doing so.  Thank you for understanding that like you, I need to constantly be learning to be happy with my life.  Thank you for writing one of my recommendation letters for that program and for talking with me for quite a while beforehand, again, asking those great questions you always do.  

Thank you for being that type of friend, who, when we talk, it’s like we just saw each other yesterday.  Thank you for loving me as only a friend like that would. 

Love, Terri

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If you would like to email me a letter or write one as a guest post, you can email me at chasingsimpledreams AT gmail.com.  Or, please feel free to drop a comment on the blog with your email (the email is not shared or shown publicly), and I will gladly post it for you. 

It’s my hope to get an atmosphere of gratitude flowing around those of us interacting here or reading the blog.  When you’re grateful, it colors your whole world in a very positive light.

Thank you for reading.

 

Hey there, is this thing on??

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from the botanical garden, taken by lil ‘ol me 

Hi everyone! Just wanted to let you know I’m alive and well, and the truth is, I’ve missed writing here.  So I’m back with an update.

I wrote in July (I think it was then) that I was considering getting a Master’s of Arts in Humane Education. It’s something my heart has wanted to do but the wallet kept screaming “Are you insane?? Hell NO!”  Can  you guess which one won that battle??

Yep, the heart.  And I’m very glad it did.  I have two wonderful friends, David and Claudia, who also know me from my professional life, who agreed to write letters of recommendation for me. At first, I had trouble starting the personal statement, so I did what I do with this blog when the writing just isn’t flowing.  I put it away, knowing the right thoughts would come to me if I didn’t rush them.  And they did.  I then had an interview with the Director of the program and she very quickly put me at ease, saying that based on my application, my letters of recommendation, and my personal statement, which she loved, she was recommending my admission to the program, and then we had a nice conversation during which I asked lots of questions about the program and she asked me some probing ones as well.

Right now, I’m taking Introduction to Humane Education, which is taught by the Director of the Program, who coincidentally, is also my faculty advisor, and who seems like an incredibly warm and supportive person.  I’m also taking Environmental Ethics (EE).  Next semester, I’ll be taking Animal Protection, and you can all bet that I’m sitting on pins and needles, waiting for that class to start.

My program is entirely online except for a week long residence in Maine that I will either do this coming summer or the following one.  The teachers are very good at keeping the class involved, and in my EE, the cohort of students is very active and supportive, and I think I have found at least a few possibly kindred spirits among them.  While the writing assignments are shorter than I’m used to, I’m finding them to be a good challenge in learning how to say what I want to say as concisely, and really thinking about which words to cut out, and what kind of message am I actually conveying.

I’ve also been somewhat busy with transcribing projects for my friend Elaine over the past couple of months.  They’ve made for some very busy days when combined with applying to school, and then starting classes. I’ve been working out pretty regularly (mainly running) except for the past two weeks when I sensed my body needed a break and also I had a lot going on. My roommate has taken over a lot of (okay, pretty much all) of the dog walking responsibilities with Morgan and has been training her on some great obedience skills.  Snuggles has become quite protective of me and claimed me as HIS, so Morgan has claimed my roomie as hers.  They’re best buds and it’s very heartwarming to see her go over and give him a hug several times a day.

In my personal statement to the IHE, I stated that I wanted to use my writing in combination with the degree.  I haven’t yet figured out what exact form that will take, but I do believe more writing on this blog is a part of it.  I just have to make it a priority, and return to that, I shall.  I need to get on a regular  posting schedule, and I’ve thought about doing a series of inspiring links on a regular (possibly, weekly) basis.   They could highlight positive, affirming websites that detail good deeds being done in this world, great podcast episodes that have had an effect on me, or videos, etc.  There is just so much negativity in this world that I feel like we need something like that to be able to count on, don’t you?!

And finally, I’m heading to Canada for 5 days next weekend and I absolutely cannot wait, for so many reasons! (You’ll just have to wait and see about that….)

Anyway, for the few of you out there hanging in there with me and still reading this blog, I thank you.  It ain’t over yet. 🙂

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from the botanical garden, no filter added

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

As a veterinary receptionist, or as my official title says, “client service representative,”  I take many phone calls every day from owners who have pets with major health problems, yet have limited funds with which to care for them.  I would also count myself in their numbers, but luckily, I work for the animal hospital so I do get many services at a hefty discount and I am allowed to carry a balance.  (However, they do charge 18% on an unpaid balance, so it’s not such a huge benefit in that sense.)

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Many times per day, I refer callers to low-cost animal clinics, who, I am sure, get overrun with walk-ins or appointment requests.  A lot of times, I think the problems can be easily prevented.  Take, for example, vaccinations.

Many times, people don’t bother to get their animals vaccinated after they adopt them.  It may be ignorance – they just assume that the dogs or cats have received everything that they will ever need to get, by the time they are adopted.  (We definitely hear that from some.)  Or, it may be that they think the vaccines are too costly, and they might not take the time to actually call around and get pricing info on them.  If they did, they might find some low-cost vaccination clinics, or as is the case with my animal hospital, certain days of the week when the vaccines are given at half price.  Yes, HALF PRICE! There are also places like Vet-Co where you can go to get vaccinations.  Sure, they might not spend as much one-on-one time with your pet as they do at my hospital, but you are getting the bare bones care that is really NEEDED for your pets to stay healthy.

For dogs, these are the vaccines we generally suggest:

  • Distemper/Parvo (2 boosters and a third one that lasts for a year) starting when the animal is about 6-8 weeks of age.  Boosters should be given about 3-4 weeks apart.
  • Bordatella (commonly known as the vax for “kennel cough”).  Again, get boosters, and a third one that lasts for a year.  (Some places may say it’s only good for a year – check with the vet to see how long the one lasts that your pet is receiving.)
  • Rabies!!  Your pet can get a yearly vax as soon as they are 16 weeks of age.   Once they have had the one year vax, when they come back the next year, you can get a three year vax.

If you are going to take your dog to a dog park, or the groomer, please please PLEASE get them vaccinated.  I can’t tell you how many calls we get about dogs who have come down with kennel cough after they go to a grooming appointment.

Also, if you have a puppy, please don’t take them to a dog park or walk them on the sidewalks where a lot of other dogs venture, before they have had all their boosters.  This is something i never knew growing up.  Then again, as a kid, I never heard of parvo.  Parvo is one of those disesases that is very easy for a young pup to contract and which can be SUPER expensive to treat if you have your pet hospitalized.   Parvo is an illness that can be noticed by signs such as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea (usually with blood in it) and many times, it can be fatal.  Pups with parvo end up not wanting to eat or drink, and if they do, they can’t keep it down, or inside them. (i.e., the diarrhea).  Oh, and when they have the diarrhea, trust me, it smells something AWFUL.  Parvo is something you want to catch early, because for young pups, it can be FATAL.

For cats, these are the vaccines we usually suggest (and require to board at our facility):

  • Feline panleukopenia
  • FVRCP
  • Rabies (once they are 16 weeks of age)

Many times, people think that if cats don’t get outside, they can’t contract something contagious from other cats, or contract rabies.  Well, have you ever had a bat fly into your house?  Because I have.  And while I don’t intend to make people afraid of bats (because they are actually kind of cute in their own way), they are known for being carriers of rabies.  Or, if your dog gets into a fight with another dog that has not been properly vaccinated, (and, especially if yours has not been also), it might be at risk of contracting rabies, and therefore, passing it onto your cats.  So, at the very least, get them vaccinated for rabies.

Another good preventive health care step to take for your pets:

SPAY AND NEUTER!!!

I cannot stress this enough, and I KNOW my friends who volunteer at shelters or sanctuaries will back me up on this — there are SO MANY unwanted pets out there in the shelters.  So many shelters, whether it be for lack of funds and/or lack of space, euthanize dogs and cats on a daily basis.  And SO MUCH of it could be prevented!! It really could!! Spaying or neutering is also good for their health! It can prevent a lot of problems such as a higher risk of cancer and plyometria (which requires surgery, pronto), just to name a few.

While people may be shocked to hear what some hospitals charge for spaying and neutering, they should ask some questions when they are calling around for pricing:

  • Do you have any wellness plans that can bring down the overall cost to me or provide me with additional services that I can utilize all year long? (We do!)
  • Do you know of any low cost spay or neuter clinics when I can have my pet fixed (or “altered” as we call it) for a fraction of the full price?
  • Are there any shelters or sanctuaries that provide spay or neuter services to low-income individuals?
  • Do you base your pricing for services on the income of the pet owner? (While it’s rare, some do.)

Keep in mind, also, that some cities, such as Albuquerque, charge pet owners more per year to have an intact pet than a spayed or neutered pet.  It’s part of the city’s way of encouraging owners to be responsible owners.  So in addition to preventing a lot of unwanted animals and health problems for your pet, why not save yourself some bucks, and do the responsible thing by getting your pet spayed or neutered? 🙂

If you do end up having a health emergency, ask the hospital if they do take payment plans, but be prepared to hear them say “no.”  Many don’t.  But many may take something called Care Credit, which is a credit card you can use for your own health or that of your pet. While it is a lifeline to some, and can give them some breathing room because the hospital can offer to input certain promotion codes depending on the charge applied (for us, it’s 0 percent for 6 months if the charge is over $200), keep in mind the interest rate that kicks in after that promotional period is pretty hefty.  As in 26.99 percent. Let me write that again.  26.99%.  To anyone who applies for it or uses it at my hospital, I tell them to make sure that they either get it paid off or make sure that balance is transferred off the card by the time the promotional period ends to avoid that hit.  Because it’s huge and who can afford to pay interest at that rate??!!  I certainly can’t! (And please don’t think I am endorsing Care Credit, I just mention it because like I said, for some, it is a lifeline when they can’t bear to say goodbye to their pet, but can’t afford the hefty vet bill all at once and don’t have other means to pay for it, credit card or otherwise.)

If you have enjoyed this post, or think someone can benefit from it, please do share it and pass it on! And please drop me a line if you have a comment or suggestion.

And please note that all the opinions expressed herein are my own and not that of my hospital. I only speak for myself in my posts.

Finally, if you do shop on Amazon, please use this or the link on the right side of this page.  I’ve become part of their affiliate program, so if you buy something from Amazon, I will get a fee equal to a small percentage of the sale, but it costs you absolutely nothing!! Thank you!!

Focus, Leap, and Do Good “Stuffs”

As of today, the plural of stuff is stuffs! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

 

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FOCUS!

 

I had a conversation on Facebook over the weekend with someone who was in the first class of law students with whom I worked as a professional law librarian, while at Boston University Law School. That was a long 12 years ago, but he still remembers me and when I was typing back and forth with him, I could still hear that accent of his and see his big smile on his face. I remember thinking back then that he was so, so, so incredibly smart, and how in the world did I think I could help someone like him?!

Anyway, the point of this walk down my memory lane is this – he reminded me of how much I enjoyed teaching others and teaching them to teach themselves how to do things.  How sometimes when a patron would come up to me, completely lost and not exactly know what they were looking for, and sometimes it was a subject I didn’t know much about myself, how I would fumble through with them until we’d finally hit on some piece of knowledge or thought and then we’d both run with it! (Not all interactions were like this, of course, but it was these types that made me glad to do my job.)   He told me that I was so devoted to helping them learn, and a few other nice things, and said he thought it had been the opinion of many of his classmates as well.   He also told me that time and kindness are two of the most precious resources you can give.   I certainly gave them a lot of my time, and especially in the beginning of my career as a librarian, when I was learning so much myself every day, I remember thinking to myself how confused the foreign students must be, and how different it all must seem to them to learn about this whole other country’s set of  laws.  And how scary it can seem.  So if they saw my manner towards them as kind, well, I am glad, because I wanted to treat them the same way I would have wanted to be treated if in their shoes.

 

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LEAP! 

 

One thing I don’t get to do much of these days is teach people.   Also, because it’s a for-profit business, sometimes, I feel like I have to really hold my tongue from expressing my opinions to customers, such as on issues of declawing cats, docking tails or ears of dogs such as Doberman’s, breeding in general, and failing to spay/neuter your pets.  Sometimes, I just want to scream at people, “What are you?? Stupid??!! Don’t you know all the various health issues with not spaying or neutering? And do you really think the world needs MORE unwanted animals?  WHY in the hell are you going to a breeder when the shelters are FULL of homeless pets?!” (Anybody who works in animal issues that says that they never say these things or even think them to themselves is lying, trust me.)  I also see the animals that come in that are being fostered after being removed from bad situations.  It sickens me.  Days like that, you catch yourself saying things like “I hate people” to yourself or under your breath.

However, there was one random day that a lady came in and asked about where she could get a German Shepherd dog, and we started talking.  The librarian in me took over, and before I knew it, I had turned the computer monitor towards her and started showing her how to do some searches on sites like Petfinder.com, how to navigate the ABQ city website, and started asking her some more questions about what it was she was really looking for in a dog.  As with some of my favorite interactions at the reference desk in the past, she took out a pen and paper and started writing stuff down so she could look on her own later on.

I’ve been doing some soul searching and thinking about what it is that makes me tick.  What kind of movies or videos I like to watch, or podcasts I like to listen to, or blog posts I like to read, and then share with others because I find them inspiring. I have tried to figure out a common thread between them.  In the past, I wrote this post about the movie called Opening Our Eyes.  I think I need to go back and watch the movie again.  I also wrote this post about the movie, I’m Fine, Thanks in which the filmmaker travels around the country and interviews people who want to make a change in their life, and then DO IT.

I may have talked about this on the blog before, and I thought about applying in the past, but of course, the issue of money is one that has stopped me from applying.  But I’m starting to really feel this pull inside like this is the right thing to do.  There is a Master’s degree program in Humane Education offered by the Institute for Humane Education.  The degree is taught online and has a week long residency requirement in a beautiful part of Maine, not far from Acadia National Park. The program is accredited through Valapraiso University, and the program I would look to finish is a Masters in Arts in Humane Education, because if I’m going to educate, I would rather it be outside of a traditional classroom, and have it be through my daily work, either with a non-profit, or a civic engagement, or an animal shelter, etc.  (They describe the MA in Humane Education as “designed for educators who wish to work outside of school settings, such as through community work, non-profits, arts activism, social services, law, and many other professions.“)  I like the idea of being able to use the education in many fields.

Part of the program involves a master’s thesis. It can be creative, professional, and/or research-based. All of those sound right up my alley.  If I could find a way to marry research with a realistic plan of how to bring my ideas into reality, I will feel successful.  And hey, maybe it could even become that book I have been wanting to publish. 🙂

 

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DO GOOD STUFFS! (Picture from the ABQ BioPark where lots of good stuffs are happening!)

I am grateful to have friends to bounce these ideas off of.  I swear to God, my friend Dan is kind of my grandmother reincarnated in the way that he kindly asks me probing questions to get me to think, and he reminds me that I’m always “go, go, GO!!” when I set my mind to something.  He wants me to sit back and breathe and really think about things, and for that, I love him to death.  I need someone like that in my life.  Especially when I’m 44 and considering putting yet even more money into education without the 100% guarantee it will get me a job that will pay that tuition money back, and again, I’m 44!   Putting myself through school again?  Didn’t I just consider this with the vet tech program at CNM? These are all questions I really need to think about. 

 

Dan has asked me to think about why I would want to do such a program, and here is my long-winded answer.  Many of you who have read my blog for a long time, or who were gluttons for punishment, and decided to go back to the beginning and start and catch yourselves up (and I LOVE all of you!), know that I have these big dreams, or big ideas, and I want to do so much, both in every ordinary day of my life, and with my life as a whole! But one of the problems I know I suffer from is being able to focus.  I can be like a raccoon that you throw something shiny in front of, and I’m already distracted.

My point is this:  I need the structure and guidance of someone else who has felt the same way and knows how to narrow down the wish list, how to take all the grandiose ideas and ACTUALLY put them into concrete action.  And I want to meet with others, both virtually, and in person, through the online class tools and at a practicum where I live, who feel the same way, who I can be made accountable to, and who can encourage me when I get discouraged along the way.  And I can learn how to integrate some of my ideas, because really, a lot of my concerns are interconnected:  animal protection, environmental protection, etc. You can’t really look at things in a vacuum anymore.  I look back at these earlier posts of mine and know now that figuring out how to focus my energies and integrate my ideas, has been my problem.

I also want to be like some of the students you see profiled on this page.  Some of the students who really caught my eye were involved in issues related to animals:

When I die, I don’t need to have been known for winning a Nobel Prize or having been someone like Bill Gates, or Mother Theresa.  I just want to have left this world in a little bit better place than it was when I entered it, and for some people to think of me and think “You know?  Terri was all right.  She did some good stuffs!”

What kind of good stuffs have you seen being done around you or do you want to achieve in your life?

Dream Killers (and how to stop them)

 

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image from pixabay.com

Okay, so as soon as you read this post, I want you to RUN, and I mean RUN, not walk, over to my friend Becky’s blog, Interstellar Orchard.  She is an amazing writer, (and person too!), and she recently wrote a post on What Kills Dreams.  As I read it, I was nodding my head like yep, yep, yep, and yep!! All so true!  Becky is a wonderful example of what determination and guts and practical planning can combine to create – a life whereby she lives the way she wants to, the hell with what everyone else thinks!

The thing that I hear the most from people is about fear.  When I first shared my dream with folks about leaving my librarian job at Harvard, it was a lot of their own fears projected onto me in the form of their worrying about me and whether I could make it.  Would it be too big of a change?  Could I handle it financially?  Why would I want to leave something so stable?  Something so high paying and that I went to school for, for MANY years and spent so much money on?? (Yeah, I’ll be real and admit that that last part still weighs on me some days, more than I’d like.)

Another fear I had (and still have, although to a lesser extent) is the fear of isolation when taking such a big step away from a life that you have taken years to cultivate.  It was actually this fear of mine that prompted this video by my good friend Dan of the Wander Dano channel on YouTube:

Ramble: Don’t Buy into the Fear of Isolation

I admit to still thinking of wanting to do the nomadic life like he does for part of each year, but part of what keeps me from doing it is the fear of isolation or loneliness.  Even though I’m usually an outgoing person, to still always be on your own, without a set of good friends physically close by, always at the ready to catch you and lift you up, it can still seem a bit scary to me.

One thing I heard a lot from my mom while growing up was “you can do anything you put your mind to.”  From my grandmother, I would hear my name repeated, “Terri, Terri, Terri….. don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.  One step at a time. ”  Meaning:  CALM DOWN and BREATHE.   (I had a tendency back then to sometimes take a small problem and get myself all worked up.)  These days, when I can see myself starting to act that way, I try to ask myself if it would be a problem I would be concerned with a year into the future.  More often than not, the answer is “no.”

I am very grateful today to have had two women in my life that were strong and showed me that I could be the same.   Neither ever felt like they were successful, but they were good at raising grandchildren and children. None of us ended up on drugs or addicted to alcohol and I think we’re contributing members of society in one way or another.  My brother with his music and innate running and coaching abilities, my sister with her abilities to educate kids and overall be a great mom, and me, well, I guess with my love of animals and the ones whose lives I have saved either by adopting them myself, or helping them to get adopted.

I used to be so afraid of what others thought of me.  I really did.  Then I grew up.  (I just wish it had happened before I hit my mid-30s.)  I used to always think everyone was smarter than me (a lot of people still are, but I don’t take what everyone else tries to tell me as the gospel truth to which I should always adhere, and I try to keep my own mind’s opinion on things, while still realizing there is stuff out there for me to learn.

Realize that if you chase your dreams, you ARE going to make mistakes.  You WILL.  But it’s how you react to them and learn from them that is important.  Looking back, I see lots of mistakes I’ve even made over the past two years, whether it be through dating, or choosing to live in an RV thinking it would be long term, and only lasting for 8 months, or thinking living in a small town would be the antidote to the stresses of big city life for so many years. I made mistakes by moving into an apartment in AZ that was too expensive for me to sustain, which kept me locked into a position at work that I didn’t feel suited for, but the salary was enough to keep me going.

Realize (and I know this is a cliche, but it’s very true) that it really IS the JOURNEY and not always the destination that matters.  When I first thought of moving out of Boston, I was so focused on the WHERE (ask my long-suffering friend Dan — he’ll start bobbing his head up and down like crazy.)  Having now lived in three towns/cities in 2 years, and in 6 locations over that short period of time (if you include the trailer park in Kanab, the employee campground at Lake Powell, the two studios in Greenehaven, the studio I moved to in ABQ, and the house/apartment I find myself in now in ABQ), I can now say that the location isn’t as important as I thought it once was.  Granted, location is somewhat important as it can determine the type of climate you live in.  I now think it’s a combination of what you are doing with your life in that location.   I may not be solving world peace every day here in ABQ, but I like to think I am enriching the lives of at least a few others I come into contact with every day.

And maybe, just maybe, I’m inspiring a few others to make small, incremental changes every day in order to help them chase their dreams.   Even if it’s just inspiring someone to write their dreams down on paper.  Or to go volunteer at an animal shelter one day, or to walk some dogs that desperately need the attention.  Or to wake up that little bit earlier every morning to get up and do a workout or go for a run. Or to just pull out their computer and do a little bit of research every day into other locations, or jobs that could make them feel happier with their life.

 

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A scene from the Bosque, one of my favorite places to go for a run!

 

If you’re feeling “stuck” in the life you currently lead (as I hear from a lot of people), then just try one thing, one small thing, every day.  Nothing is worse than feeling stuck in your life but not doing anything to change it.

For me, what kept (and still does keep) my dreams alive is when I get out of my head and write them down.  Seeing them in black and white, on real paper, or writing here on this blog.  It’s a practice of admitting things, putting them out there in the universe, for just yourself (or in my case, a few others), to see.

And again, as I said, check out Becky’s blog post on what kills dreams.  She decided her life in Wisconsin and then South Carolina wasn’t exactly right, so she set out to change that.  She bought a Casita and a truck to pull it with, and then she traveled and did seasonal work.  Now, she’s a writer, and only does seasonal work for part of the year.  The rest of her time, she’s inspiring others to live their lives the way THEY want to, not by the way that conventional society would probably prefer.

What kind of dreams do you have?  What keeps you from fulfilling them?  What little action could you take today to move one step  closer to chasing them? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

As always, thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

Running and Thinking, Staying Positive

 

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Something I’ve begun doing – laying on the grass and taking pictures of the trees and sky above.

Yesterday was July 4th, Independence Day!  I know a few more active duty folks this year, and living so close to an air force base, I am reminded of the sacrifices that a lot of folks do every day so that the rest of us can live our lives out the way we want to.  (Even if for some of us, that means living the “American dream” even if it makes them unhappy.  The point is we get to choose what our lives look like.)  So to those of you currently serving, or who have served, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

After working an 11 hour day on Monday and facing a 10+ hour today, I decided to do something for myself yesterday morning, and go for a run in the Bosque.  Being at such a high altitude, and an arid climate, ABQ can have some wide temperature fluctuations every day.  I try to do my runs around 6 or 7 because usually the temps are in the 60s, but it’s a dry air, so it’s perfect running weather in my opinion. And yesterday was no exception.

The road near the  Bosque was closed for an “event” and it turns out it was a road race!! It’s funny but part of me misses running races, and part of me doesn’t.  For one thing, they can really add up financially, and I am definitely not the speedster I used to be.  It could be the altitude slowing me down, or my age, or just that my focus has shifted from always wanting to go faster, faster, faster, to now focusing on how I feel when I’m out there on a run.  It used to be about competition with others and myself.  It’s not anymore (and in fact, I find that running with my Garmin now stresses me out as I’m looking at the distance run, and the pace is so much slower than it used to be that I start to feel down on myself, and it takes the joy out of it.)

When I found myself breathing too heavily yesterday and stopped for a quick walk to catch my breath, I caught myself from going down that negative pathway I used to go, whereby I would berate myself or feel discouraged for having to “stop” and walk.   Instead, I said aloud (I really did, and yes, I can be such a dork at times), “That’s not what today’s run is about.  Today is about feeling good, enjoying nature, and having this time to myself.”  And you know what?  Talking aloud to yourself can really help sometimes.  I found myself smiling.  And then I picked up the running again.

Yesterday was unique in that normally I run with music (my phone strapped to my arm but no headphones, so I can hear if bikers come up behind me.) Well, yesterday, I mistakenly left the armband at home.  So it was running with just the thoughts in my head and the sounds of the breeze rippling through the trees around me, and birds flying in the air, with the occasional greeting of “good morning” or “Happy Fourth of July”  when I infrequently saw someone else on the trails.  I understood what others have meant when they’ve said that sometimes running without music can be a meditative experience.  It’s just you, your body and your thoughts.

 

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Taken from the Sandia Crest – altitude of 10,678 feet.

 

Yesterday, I thought of all the times I’ve said I WANT to do something.  Like, I WANT to write more.  Or I WANT to do more transcription work and have more money to pay off bills at the end of the month.  Or I WANT to simplify my life even more.

You know what?  You can WANT or desire things all you want, but until you put your money where your mouth is,  that’s all IT is, a THOUGHT.  I’ve always been so afraid to write and try to get paid for it.  I look at other published works (either self-published or traditional) and think “THIS someone got paid for?”  or “this person decided to do something and did it, and here I’m paying money for it.” I COULD DO THAT if only I could get over myself and my self-doubt. I need to stop THINKING and start DOING.

I was also thinking, I like my job, but it’s not something I want to do forever.  There are certain parts of it that I love – getting to see some of the cute dogs and cats, (and yes, even avians or funny reptiles like bearded dragons), but some of it can be really monotonous too, like running credit cards through the machine over and over again.  I do feel like I’m good in the euthanasia situations that we face just about every day, and think I do a good job with comforting the owners, or at the very least, making the situation at least a little less horrible for them.  And yes, I’m seeing animals hands-on.

But I’m also seeing that so much of it is a business.  So many times I answer the phone and hear someone in tears or close to it, about their pet, and hear them say that they can’t afford the treatment that they know their pet needs.  Or I’m ringing up credit cards for several hundred dollars or even more.  And after a while, it’s like when I worked at a bank, you don’t see the numbers as real money. It’s just another figure.  And then I think to myself, if I didn’t work here and didn’t get the huge employee discount I do have, I would be one of those people on the phone, in tears, wondering how to pay for their care and still afford rent and food for that month.  In a city like ABQ, where people don’t make a lot, it’s a call I hear way too often.

I have a brain and I want to use it more.  Many of you might remember that I first moved to ABQ because I wanted to be a vet tech.  After working in an animal hospital now for about 7 months or so, I don’t think so, anymore.  I think the pace at my hospital is very stressful for a lot of the techs and employees (we see emergency cases all day and all night long), and I’ve heard some of the animals crying back in treatment or in ICU and the techs have to deal with that much more up close and personal than I do.  They’re the ones restraining the animal who is scared or confused or hurt, or holding the oxygen hose over its mouth to try and stabilize it.  I see the stress on their faces and the toll it takes.

It could just be that it’s the “hospital” side of things that has made me change my mind on being a tech.  Working on the sanctuary side of things is a very different aspect to animal care.  You have a different mission in mind.  I’m still figuring these differences out in my mind and learning what makes me tick when it comes to animals and creating my life (financial and otherwise) around them.

I always have so many plans each day as to what I want to get done – I want to exercise, and write, and do more freelance work, and some days I’m super motivated, and then some nights I get home, and am so mentally exhausted that I just sit and stare at the wall. Or pet my own babies and then go to sleep.

Being in a hospital setting, even one with animals, can be very stressful.  People can be short with one another, and I try to remind myself on a daily basis, and sometimes several times during the day, not to take the shortness or abruptness of others’ attitudes personally.  But I’ll be honest.  I am human, and sometimes I get pissed off. Luckily, I now have a roommate who I came home and vented to the other night.  (Yep, I’ve got an air mattress in the living room and things seem to be working out well so far.  I’ve set up the mattress so it doubles as a couch.)  It is a guy roommate and he could tell just by the way I walked in the door that I needed some down time and quite frankly, needed to bitch about some things.

So today when I go into work, the day after the Fourth of July, when I am sure we will be slammed with folks picking up their fur babies from boarding, or folks calling to see if someone has found their pet who escaped last night, freaked out from fireworks, and having our busiest vet on the schedule, and just the usual amount of walk-ins, I will try to remind myself to take a moment and breathe.  Don’t take the stress that others are pouring out and onto me, personally.   Realize that not everyone has the same coping skills that I have tried to hone over the past few years.  Realize it’s a job.  And that yes, I did give up my past life to take on these new roles willingly, and realize it’s not going to be where I spend the rest of my life.    And as one of my coworkers once said to me, “be like a duck, and let it all wash over you.”

And remember, I can come home.  I do have a roof over my head.  I can hug my furballs.  I can pull out this laptop and write here or in my personal journal.  I can take control of my finances and look for second and third jobs (the paper route didn’t work out, I will discuss that in a later post).  And use my skills and smarts to change my life if I don’t like the direction in which it’s going.  If I’ve learned nothing else over the past few years, it’s that I CAN make changes, I don’t have to stay stuck in one place, or in one job, or in a role that I think others perceive I should be doing.

I realize this post might seem to have been quite a ramble, but it’s also been quite the therapeutic one for me.  Hopefully, there’s a point in it that can provide someone else reading it, with some clarity.  For me, I’m glad to have gotten up early to complete it, and to now still have time to get some transcription done, or to complete my profile on flexjobs so I can look for some more side work to fill in the gaps.

I hope that you will have a good day after the fourth, and as always, to the very few of you out there still reading, thank you for doing so. 🙂