“Change Your Money, Change Your Life”

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The view outside of the public library, where I’m taking advantage of the free, amazing wifi!

The line above is one that is used a lot in one of my new favorite podcasts to listen to, called  Budgets and Cents. The “budgets” part is from Cait Flanders (formerly known as Blonde on a Budget) and Carrie is from Careful Cents. Cait got herself out of about $28,000 in debt in 2 years. Carrie and Cait are both freelancers in the financial writing field (and they do other things as well.) Their podcast is relatively new – in its second “season” as they call it. A lot of the topics relate to their freelance work, but there are also episodes that talk about how they did find life after debt, and how they take care of themselves with self-care, etc. I just find them extremely down to earth and it’s like I’m listening to friends. I get inspired listening to them. So, let’s talk about how I’m “changing my money” these days.

I have good news. I found someone to sublet my apartment, and a place where I can move to on a month to month basis starting in September. The person who will be taking my current place is only taking it until December, but there is a possibility it could be for longer, so I’m crossing my fingers the new tenant like the area and decides to stay. Because then, I can move to a larger city, sooner. Oh, so excited!!

With any change, I see opportunity. Yes, I’m only moving literally next door, but I see the opportunity to get rid of some of my stuff. Yes, get rid of some of my crap! When I moved last year, I fit everything I had into my car and a car carrier that rode on top. The only thing I originally mailed from Boston was a large painting, and then my friend Dan helped me free up some room in  my car by mailing some boxes for me. But you know what? I don’t need all the stuff I’ve accumulated, and I certainly don’t need all the clothes I’ve been holding onto. And the idea of lightening the load of crap in my life is exhilarating!

With the decrease in rent I will be paying (the new place is unfurnished and not professionally managed like the place I have now), I will plan on saving some of it and putting some of it toward my credit card bill which is currently sitting just below $4,000. I can’t WAIT to see that balance come down! To remind myself of it, I set up an alert with my account. Every day, I get a text message reminding me of the balance, as well as the fact that the balance is over $3900. When I get it below $3900, I will then change the alert to let me know when it’s over $3800, and so on. And every time I open up that freezer and see that other credit card literally encased in ice, I feel more confident and strong, and in control of my life and finances.

I’m going to start tracking my spending, and actually stick to it for more than 3 days this time. I need to know exactly how much I am spending on groceries, etc., because since I don’t do many activities that cost a lot of money, that’s really my biggest ticket item, I’m pretty certain of it. And I already know one area where my spending has got to stop. It’s going to be pretty hard though. It’s spending on junk food or munchies food at the campground store where I work. We get 20% off as an employee, but the prices are still too high in my opinion (you pay for the convenience of not having to go into town to get your food and other items.) And I can definitely find more healthy alternatives to the food offered there. (Example, eat fresh broccoli dipped in ranch dressing, rather than potato chips.) I’m trying to come up with an incentive for myself to keep that up –  I will start up another bank account and every day that I don’t buy something there, transfer $2.35 into it (that’s my cost for a large can of Pringles with my discount), or I do buy something, if it costs less than that dollar amount, transfer the difference into that savings account. And at the end of a certain period of time, decide what to do with that cash that has accumulated.

In fact, I just opened an account with CapitalOne360, and it’s called No Junk Food (you can give your accounts nicknames.)  So this morning, I transferred $1.35 to that account, since I bought two things of crackers that totaled $1.00 yesterday. And I also just went through my checking account statement and wrote everything down in a small notebook I plan on carrying around with me, and wrote down next to all the expenses what they were for. That is definitely eye-opening, but I think it will be even more so when I write down the number at the same time I’ve just spent it. I’ll let you know regularly how the money is adding up. (Yes, I plan on being more regular with posting onto the blog.)

I think I know why I hadn’t posted on this blog so much this past summer. I was feeling pretty frustrated and out of control or lost about a lot of things.

  1. Financially, I felt very constrained, and will, for a while, but now I feel like I’m taking steps to get in control.  I will write more about that in a separate post, in addition to what I’ve already mentioned here.
  2. Job-wise, I was unhappy and felt directionless. Now, even though I’m not exactly sure when I will be leaving my current place of employment, I know I am starting to make plans to do so. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why I made this drastic move in my life, why it hasn’t come out exactly the way I planned, and what I can do to rectify that.
  3. I’ve realized small town living is not for me, so I’m taking steps to be more financially fit and be able to make a move to a larger city. I’m talking to folks about that new prospective city of Albuquerque and am researching into it a lot before I even go for my first visit. I’m remembering that it’s important for me to live in a lower cost of living area than where I am right now, and that that is a big priority for me in looking into prospective places to move to. Living where it’s less expensive gives me more freedom to explore work that makes me feel happy about being on this earth and contributing to society, not just punching a time clock every day for a paycheck. And I know in my heart that that kind of work will involve animals, in some way, shape, or form.
  4. Finally, I’m turning my attentions to things that make me happy. Some of them are activities that I used to do regularly and had fallen away from – like going to the gym or exercising. I’m still not at that regular pace I used to be when I worked in an office and had a very routine daily schedule, but I’m allowing myself time to get back to that gradually.  I’m not gonna make myself feel guilty about it. I know it’s gonna be rough and my body will definitely feel sore some days.
  5. Writing is another thing that makes me happy and I’m thinking up ideas for regular series of posts. Ideas about things that will remind me of what it’s like to live in a way that makes me feel like I’m grateful to be alive, and living a life of abundance, and not just deprivation. I think I’ve been spending too much time lately thinking about what I don’t have, rather than what I do have.  I’m hoping the ideas that are percolating in my brain will be helpful to others.
  6. I’m spending more time reading and learning (currently reading The Book of the Navajo by  Raymond Friday Locke and loving it because it teaches me about some of the history and culture of the folks I work with and live around every day.) I never want to stop learning and I want to be respectful of them and their history.

Speaking of things I have in my life, I have some amazing coworkers. The below photo is what a coworker and friend did as a surprise for me. She’s always playing practical jokes on me, and they just make me laugh and feel loved. I wouldn’t want her to change a thing. I hope she is reading this, because she knows who she is!  :-)

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Dreams…A Constant Evolution

I have a friend who seems to be at a bit of a crossroads in his life. In his twenties, not sure exactly of where he wants to be, but knows what he wants to do. And I started asking him some hard questions that a guidance counselor or career advisor would – in other words, questions I wish someone had put to me back in my twenties before I went to law school. It reminded me of many, many conversations I had with students over the years and how some of those conversations led to our being friends, which we still are today. Yes, I’m thinking of you, Claudia. :-))

And then it hit me – I’ve got to answer those questions for myself as well. I’ve got to be blunt and honest with myself, my financial situation, my living situation, what it is now and what it can become. Where I want to end up, and what I want to do with my time here on this earth. I still feel like I’m in my twenties a lot of days, and can’t believe I’m turning 44 this year. I guess age truly is what you make of it. It’s just a number, if you ask me. Your attitude defines you.

14080001_10154173687084930_8639474599137396149_nThis morning, I was thinking these thoughts and I remembered when I was taking prerequisite classes for a vet technology degree. At the time, Harvard was helping with the tuition payments through its tuition assistance program. That of course ended when I left its employment. And then I turned to my left and saw this little brown bird on the ground. It appeared to want to be able to fly but it just couldn’t. Its breathing was a bit labored. At first, I didn’t want to touch it, thinking, it’s just injured, and will eventually fly away and I don’t want my human scent to be on it because then if it’s a young bird, its mommy won’t want to be around it again.

However, I did reach out to help it, and realized it must be really hurt because it didn’t even attempt to fly away from me. I tried to give it some water but that only ended up getting the little guy wet which made me feel even worse. Soon after, he took his last labored breath. I petted him and told him I would take care of him, and shortly afterward, found a place to bury him outside of my apartment. That’s the second bird I’ve now buried since I live here. And it reminded me of the post that I wrote about a month ago on listening to  and watching for the signs that are presented in front of you.

I then spent a good part of today looking into the possibility of again attending vet tech school. And this evening, I spent some time looking up grant opportunities for the local animal shelter to apply to (Page Animal Adoption Agency.)  I realized how much I love the thrill of the chase of looking for information, and finding it, then evaluating it, and figuring out if it’s relevant or not. From having worked with a large number of students over the years, I have realized that it’s a skill that not everyone has. I need to have confidence in these abilities of mine and use them to accomplish my dreams. For some reason, it made me think of a conversation I had with my mom just a few days ago.

The other day I had a conversation with my mom during which she asked about my job and soul searching and what I was thinking of doing. I told her about the phone interview I had a little while ago with a farm animal sanctuary. And we talked about what would keep me interested in a job and use my skills, and as she said “You’re not stupid. You’re very smart and can use that intelligence and skills. Eventually you will have to find a job that will pay enough so that you’re not starving.” [My mom can make things seem much worse than they really are. It’s not that bad in the world of animal welfare, it’s just a huge pay decrease.)

The animal shelter and rescue had a team meeting last week and we spent some time talking about applying for grants, and finding someone who can do that type of work. I’ve only worked on a few very small grant applications, but one thing I know I can do is research the hell out of something like that! I feel like my writing skills are strong, and I know that one thing that those who run animal shelters and rescues never have enough of is time.  In addition to money, there NEVER seems to be enough time to do everything you need to keep the shelter running. It’s not just a 9-5 job that ends on Friday night and picks up where it left off, the following Monday morning. Animals need to eat and be walked, and they poop every day. They don’t know if it’s a Monday or a Saturday.

So, now I’m wondering …. can I somehow use my research skills to help shelters find and apply for grants? Is this something I could start to do on a freelance basis? How does one even get started on something like this?  And then, of course, I started looking into the possibility of attending grant writing classes or workshops. It’s my natural inclination to think this way – come up with an idea and then look to see who I can learn from, someone who already knows how to do it well, and then I will feel more qualified to offer my own services in that field. (Possibly, it’s having worked in academia for so many years that has me thinking that way. Or, maybe it’s because it provides a structured way of working on a goal. There’s still that part of me that likes the comfort of something that is structured and pre-established. It’s that fear of the unknown creeping in.)

So, yes, this is my long-winded way of saying, I’m still trying to figure out what my simple dreams are and how to achieve them. I have this feeling that they will always be changing, even if it’s just with little tweaks here and there. And slowly but surely, I am becoming more comfortable with that concept. (Oh, but trust me, there are definitely days where this constant questioning is super stressful and I just want to throw my hands up in surrender and just wish that life could be easy and someone could present the answers to me on a platter.)

Have you ever felt like this? I’m curious as to your thoughts on this – am I completely insane to be thinking along this route as a potential career path?

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By the way, I’ve made a few small changes to the appearance of the page – what do you think?

Decisions, and other words that start with D

I started writing this post about a month or so ago. It’s funny how some blog posts seem to pour right out of me like a thunderstorm, and others are like so many of the storm clouds I see around where I’m living right now. They hang around and you think something’s going to happen, and you get excited thinking about it all day long (that is, if you like storms like I do), and then at the end of the day, nothing, nada, zip. Just a bunch of dark clouds.

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Dark clouds like this are common during monsoon season.

So… I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. About what I really value in life and what I think is wrong now and what can be fixed, etc.  I think for a bit there, I was fighting a relapse into depression.  I was avoiding going to see a doctor because I was worried the visit would cost me several hundred dollars since I have a $750 deductible with my insurance plan. I’d been rationing my prozac supply so it could last as long as possible. But the 20 mg is just not enough, I know that now. I was beginning to feel more like when I was first officially diagnosed, right after my husband and I split. It was not as severe, but it definitely didn’t feel right, or good. So I started taking 40 mg.

I also decided to go to a nurse practitioner, thinking the office visit would be less than seeing the doc in charge. I also asked for a new prescription for Wellbutrin. Using the two in combination worked for me in the past. I remembered how I used to feel confident about myself, and even happy.  It’s been a few weeks now since I’ve been on the 40 mg and the wellbutrin, and the combo seems to be working well. A few days ago, on a drive home from Flagstaff with a friend, I looked out the window at the nighttime landscape and remembered, “this is what it used to feel like. When I was confident and felt at peace about stuff.” It’s just that it’s different now. Now I’m living that part of my life I was only thinking about doing, then. 

If you’ve never experienced clinical depression, you might wonder how I knew. What were the warning signs? Well, I knew I was relapsing because I’d been starting to feel stressed about one item, and then my mind would let loose and start stressing about other things. It would start what I can only describe as a spiraling effect. Anti-depressants like Prozac help in that they help your mind to take a moment to say “wait, stop, think about what is really going here…think logically, not emotionally.”  The Wellbutrin works with another part of your brain, because sometimes Prozac, in helping you to calm down and think, can also make you feel kind of blah. (At least for some people.) So Wellbutrin helps to counteract that. You can feel more pleasure in your life. It’s not a happy pill, though. You still have to do the work on yourself. I was also finding that I wanted to just go to sleep at night, or I was having problems getting up in the morning. The idea of working out in the am just sounded exhausting. I didn’t see any point in doing anything.

So that is one decision I made. I acknowledged what was going on with me, inside, and decided to do something about it.

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I try to enjoy this view as much as possible. There is an overlook at my apt complex – that’s the southern end of Lake Powell below.

Debt. Well, yes, I have it again. A credit card balance. I did have two – I decided to take some money out of savings and pay off one of them – the one that was accruing interest. And that credit card has gone into the freezer. It is encased in a HUGE block of ice in a mason jar. The other card has a zero percent interest rate for 21 months, so now it’s time to chip away at it. I’ve also put a savings thermometer on my wall so I can track my progress. It’s posted right near the door so I see it everytime I leave for work.

Other decisions have not been so cut and dry and not so much set in stone. Yes, I know I want to leave this area by the time my lease is up, if not before. But as to where I’m going, thas been in flux. When I first started writing this post, I had decided, “that’s it, I’m moving back east.” I was so decided that I even posted about it on facebook. Because, you see, that’s how I hold myself accountable (usually.) I put it out there and then feel like I have to follow through with it. But here’s the thing. That’s the kind of thinking that got me into a lot of trouble with certain decisions in my life. The idea that because I had started law school, I had to finish it, no matter  how miserable it made me. The idea that I needed to stick it out in my marriage when I was so unhappy, because that’s what was expected of me, and what I expected of myself, because that’s what you do. You stick things out and make them work. 

I’m realizing now in life, though, that things don’t have to be set in stone. Decisions can be made and decisions can be changed. I don’t have to have everything always figured out and planned ahead of time.  And just because I decide to change up on things doesn’t mean I am a quitter or a failure. I don’t know why I have always been so hard on myself. I just have.

I’m realizing maybe the southwest isn’t so bad after all – maybe it’s just the location where I am now, or the fact that it’s such a small town and such an extremely different from where I spent so much of my life, that has made me feel like a fish out of water. I said to a friend recently, I feel like in this town, I’m just a visitor. I don’t feel like I really, and truly, belong here. So I’m going to try out other places in the southwest, even if it’s just with a few trips. I’m going to road trip to Albuquerque when the season is over (at least that’s the current plan) to check it out. It looks like a city where the cost of living is a lot less expensive, the food is amazing, the winters are a lot milder than back east, the city is surrounded by beautiful mountains, lots of running and hiking trails, there are universities and colleges (and therefore, more options for jobs should I go that route) and a lot of diversity. I know not everyone likes it there (Jen, are you reading this?!) but that doesn’t mean that I won’t.

I’ll be honest, folks. I am SICK and TIRED of living in expensive places where I spend so much time worrying and working to pay rent.  Yes, I know there will be shitty areas of town wherever I look, as there are shitty areas of town in any city in this country. As long as I can afford to not live in a horrible section, and feel safe when I sleep at night, I consider that a positive. In fact, I will look for the smallest place possible, because as you know, I don’t like a bunch of extra crap in my life. If I question getting something, I just ask myself, “Do I want to move this in the future?” That kind of question really helps you to prioritize possessions.

I’ve decided to get back into working out regularly. A friend and I individually used to work out 5-6 days per week, and neither one of us can stand how we feel. I’ve begun running again, and just the other day, bought myself some new Hoka One One Running Shoes (the Clayton model, to be exact.)  And I made sure I could afford them since I’ve worked so much overtime lately. I’m headed to the gym this morning to run on the treadmill a bit, and then do some weights. Tomorrow, I’ve been invited to go canyoneering which is exciting and terrifying at the same time since it involves rappeling and I do have a fear of heights. But I’ve pushed through that kind of fear before when I learned how to do top roping, and I remember the feeling of confidence it gave me afterward. I need to continue pushing myself out of my comfort zone. And I really do want to see other parts of this area where I live. It’s not safe to go hiking by yourself in the desert, which is why I’ve felt constrained and unhappy, not being able to do it before now. So, I’m glad to have the opportunity to do it tomorrow. If you see another blog post from me, you’ll know I’ve survived.🙂

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I leave you with this pic of Max, one of the loves of my life. He’s a bit of a drama queen, as you can see from this photo.❤

Anyway, again, sorry for the long delay in posts. I hope I haven’t worried some of you with my silence.

 

 

 

Do you believe in Signs?

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From the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. The place where I met the raven (see the story about him later in this post.)

Sorry for the long delay between posts. I’ve had this one almost done for a while, but I’ve been fighting some feelings here on my own which has cut down my motivation to get some things done. I’ve made some decisions though, which I will talk about in another post. However, I would like to get this out there today, so here goes nothing…

I’m not a religious person, but I do have a spiritual side of me, I guess. I don’t feel like when you die, you completely cease to exist. I think your energy is still out there, in the universe, somehow. And when i feel like I need guidance or a little extra “lift” sometimes, I ask for it. One time, I was out for a run, and I just felt so tired. So much that I just felt like walking and throwing in the towel on that run that day. And I said, aloud, “I think I could use a little help today.” And I swear, I felt a hand at my back. A gentle push. Just a little support. And during the rest of my run, if my energy seemed to wane, I felt it again. It’s very hard to describe or put into words, but I know  I was not alone on that run that day. I know I had angels, or something, looking out for me.

A few weeks ago, when I felt the need to just sit and be still, or “just be” as my friend Dan says, I talked aloud again. Thanked the universe for allowing me to see this beautiful place and hear the birds calling to each other, watch the road runners dart from bush to bush after some unseen-to-me prey, view the jack rabbits hope so quickly from one piece of scrub to another. I was completely alone and I loved it. It was at that time that I felt the need to put my questions out there. Am I supposed to do something with my life involving nature or animals? Should i keep pursuing my love of animals and wanting to make their lives better, to help keep them safe, or to contribute to this world in such a way that is positive, and somehow involves animals? Should it involve natural resource management, as I have been considering lately? Because aren’t the two intertwined? I also let my angels  know, expressly, that I knew I would need some very clear or obvious signs, as I’ve been known to be pretty “black and white” in the past. (I’d even talked to my therapist about it in the past.)

I’m aware that just because I asked these questions, it wasn’t like the next day, boom, there would literally be a sign in front of me like the one you find a few miles from where I live that says “Welcome to Utah” in HUGE letters. Sometimes the signs can take a bit of time to emerge.

A few days after that, I walked outside of my apartment to find what  looked to be a dead baby bird that didn’t even have any feathers on it, it was so little and young when it died. I have buried it in front of my apartment – he (I called him a “he”) deserved to be buried properly. Not sure if he had fallen out of a nest or what, but I felt like he was outside of my apartment for a reason.

A few weeks ago, I was at work. A coworker looked up from her computer screen and asked pleasantly “how may I help you?” and saw two foreign tourists shove what turned out to be a baby bunny in her face! She didn’t know what it was at first and freaked out, the tourists continued to shove it in her face, and of course, the bunny did then what bunnies do – it jumped! This little creature was so small, he fit in the palm of my hand. To make a long story short, I almost drove 75 miles to Utah that day to transport the bunny – I have since found out it was a baby jackrabbit – to an animal sanctuary, but luckily a gentleman from the AZ Game and Fish Department lives in my town and was able to transport the jackrabbit there. I just called the animal sanctuary to check up on him, and found out he is doing better. He started “wilding up” rather than acting calm at feeding time and for a jackrabbit, that is a really good sign. It will be touch and go over the next few months, I am told, but for now, he is doing well. I hung up the phone and cried tears of joy.

If you want to see just adorable this little bunny was – here’s the link to the facebook page of the Wild Friends section of Best Friends Animal Society. Scroll down to the video of the black-tailed jackrabbit giving himself a bath after being fed breakfast by “dreaded” humans. He’s trying to get all the human cooties off of him!🙂 He is absolutely ADORABLE!!!  (Sorry, it may have really moved down on their page right now since it’s taken so long for me to get this post up and going.)

The following day, again at work, a gentleman came into the store to look at our books for sale and kill some time. He explained that his family was out on a boat and he was staying behind to make sure their puppy was safe and sound at the trailer. We got to talking and I learned that he worked for 30 years for the Oregon Dept of Fish and Wildlife. We talked about how both of us would be the type of person who would break open a car’s window to free an animal from dying of the heat trapped inside, and he told me how because of his work, he sometimes helped wildlife recuperate at his home in Oregon. While I was talking to him, I thought to myself “yep, angels, I’m seeing your work, loud and clear,” and I smiled to myself.

Recently, I met a friend in Zion National Park. We made our way to the top of the Emerald Pools trail, where there were some very smart squirrels who stayed close to the humans, but not too close so that they couldn’t get away if needed. As we left the pools, I saw a squirrel close by, watching me. I reached my hand out toward it, not expecting anything, but just wanting to let it know I meant it no harm. I expected it to run away when it saw my outstretched arm, but instead, it jumped down and walked toward me, and then tapped its feet on the front of both of my shoes. I’ve had a squirrel come close to me before, but always for food (outside of Harvard, the squirrels are so tame, they will take a sandwich out of your hands.)  I just felt like he was trying to give me a message.  Then, as we parted ways at the end of the night, I saw something in the middle of the road. As I drove closer, I saw it was a deer that was lying down in the road. I’m not sure what happened, if it was hit or not, but I saw a man come out and wave his arms at it, his face showing an expression of what appeared to be disgust. The poor thing got up as fast as it could and ran off away from him. I couldn’t tell if it was hurt, honestly. All I do know is that I almost broke into tears at the thought of this beautiful animal being in pain and now running in that pain. I can’t bear to see any animals, wild or not, in pain.

Recently, I talked to my mom on the phone and learned that she is feeding about 5 or 6 stray (or more likely, feral) cats in her neighborhood. She said, “I don’t know how the word is spreading, but it seems like it is. There used to be just one or two.” A few years ago, I don’t think my mom would have done something like that. She told me that she worries about their crossing the road to get to her house. By the time we got off the phone, she had decided to call the local animal sanctuary when she gets back from vacation and talk to them about trapping them. (At the beginning of the call, she thought that many of the cats look too old to still go into heat or make little baby cats. At the end of the call, she had changed her mind and become more open to the idea of TNR, or trap-spay/neuter-return.)

About a week ago, I was taking little Osito for our walk/carry, as I call it (she doesn’t walk a ton and gets tired in this heat so I end up carrying her a lot.)  I ended up talking to a guy in my complex who was just arriving home from the beach with his yellow lab. Turns out he had also had an experience with a jackrabbit, but his was one that had been hit by a car and was still alive when he and his dog found it. Took it to the local vet (who is awesome), who only charged him 50% of his regular rate, and then his girlfriend took the jackrabbit to Best Friends where he still resides today, and will if he can’t be returned to the wild in the end run because of his health.

And finally, this past weekend I was at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. There were a lot of people there but I still felt quite alone sometimes. It’s something I have been fighting (more on it in a later post which is itching to pour out of me.) At the end of my time there, I found a spot where I could be alone and just look at the canyon. After a little bit, another couple showed up, so I walked back to my car and found another spot where I could sit and be undisturbed, and write a few thoughts down in my journal to describe how I was feeling and why I felt so alone even when in a crowd.  I was also wondering if I was doing the right thing to start looking for animal-related jobs again.

Then, I saw a raven walking, close to the spot I had just vacated. He could easily have flown, but he decided to walk a few steps. Then he did take flight. I thought to myself how awesome it would be if he decided to come towards me. I went back to writing in my journal and then when I looked up, there he was. Within about 6 feet of me. And here’s the thing. He kept walking closer to me until he was about 3 feet away, just beyond my feet. He would stand there for a bit while I talked to him, and he let the strong winds rustle through his feathers. Occasionally, he would take a small step closer to me. He wasn’t looking for food, but just sat there silently with me. You will have to take my word for it that this happened – my cell phone was in the car and I sensed that sudden movement by me might spook him. And honestly I didn’t want to spoil the moment either.

So what does all this have in common? In a word, animals. Just have to translate it into something I can do or learn how to do – animal rescue or wildlife rescue or animal care (I know some of you may think I’m more qualified than to do something so manual but it’s what makes my heart happy in the long run. Helping creatures that can’t talk for themselves in a way us humans can understand.) I also need to learn or figure out a way to exist financially and get by if I do go back into working full time with animals. It’s really not a field you go into to get rich, at least not in the monetary sense. I don’t want or need a ton of money but just enough to feel stable and be able to take care of my fur family and myself. That’s all I ask for, and sometimes I feel like it’s too much.

I realize some folks may think I saw all these thing as “signs” because now I am looking for them, rather than ust going about my day. Maybe that is the case. Or, maybe it really is the universe or my angels reaching out to me. I choose to believe in the latter.

A friend shared a great link with me: Seven Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose and one of the questions is what makes you forget to eat and poop. I love this guy’s post!  I would say that if I were to be involved in an animal emergency or working with animals, that would be one of the times I would forget to do at least one of those (eat). Another question is what would make your 8 year old self cry? And it might be that I have not kept on writing at the same feverish pace that I did when I was that age. I let myself think that to follow a creative path like that was not going to mean a “success” in today’s world. I was not practical. Didn’t require me to wear a suit to work and work in an office and do “important” things for a big company. You get the idea.

I DO know that I have always loved animals, my entire life. I’ve always felt like I’ve had a connection to them that I know not all of us have. And I know I have always liked the feeling of pen to paper and creating stories from my mind. I find myself reading novels and wondering how the author came up with the ideas they have, and how many rewrites it might have taken to get the book to the point it’s at where I am holding it in my hands. I try to remind myself that the book is a finished product, not something easily come by and to not judge myself so much by what I put onto paper.

I also DO know that what I am doing now is not what I want to do for a career. I’ve gone back to being the supervisor, but will have a new (immediate) boss in another week or so, and because of that new addition in the hierarchy of the company, my pay has been decreased. The Team Lead position was not going to pay me enough to live, quite  literally. So for right now, it’s a means to an end. It’s what I am telling myself every day.

I’ve decided I will be moving when my lease is up, if not before.  (I am hoping to work overtime whenever possible through this season.) I would need to get a subletter if I moved before the end of the lease, and am wondering when to start that process. It’s a small town which helps and hurts me – there isn’t a lot of inventory available, but how many people then want to move here and can afford to do so? So if I stay until next April, I will be just trying to save and live as frugally as humanly possible, or buckle down and get a second job. I have $1200 tied up in security deposits with my apartment that I plan on getting returned back to me.  My tower garden (pictures will be coming in a future post) should hopefully allow me to grow my own produce and thereby save some money.

So this is where I am at right now. Definitely fighting feeling overwhelmed, and scared, and feeling lost. But I’m trying my best to get through all of it.

As always, I love to hear from all of you. Thank you so much for the support on my last post. It has meant so much to me.

 

 

Fighting Loneliness & Homesickness – Lee’s Ferry pics

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One of many HUGE boulders seen alongside a large hill along the route to Lee’s Ferry from Bitter Springs.  Note all the boulders in the background. 

Some astute folks have left comments on my blog lately that have really made me think about them for a long time afterward and marvel at how some people can see things inside of you that you might have trouble facing yourself. I apologize in advance if this post seems kind of all over the place, but as usual, writing it down helps me to confront the turmoil going on in my mind. Thank God for my pets who always seem to know or sense when something is going on with me. As I’ve been writing this post, HoneyBun has stuck like glue to my side.

Please enjoy the pics I took last week on my trip to Lee’s Ferry, which is about 50 miles from me, and still part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. I had a separate post I was writing about the day trip, but decided I needed to get this one published instead, and thought some of you might enjoy these at the same time.

Someone mentioned to me that maybe I should move back to where I am within a day’s drive from my mom. And I have to admit, I’ve not mentioned this aloud to many, but I will be traveling back east next May for my brother’s wedding. My lease ends on April 30th of next year, so there have been parts of me that have thought about combining that trip with a move back east at the same time. It would cut down on costs (i.e. already spending the money for the wedding, it would just be driving instead of flying).  I’m not sure to where I would move yet – I still hate the very cold winters of the northeast and I wouldn’t say I would want to live in Boston again – to do so without the same kind of job would be pretty hard financially as it’s an expensive city to live in if you don’t make good money. I think I would want to move somewhere where I had a simpler pace of life, and could do more with animals or the environment and actually be able to survive financially. So maybe someplace further south, like the Carolinas, etc. I’m just not sure yet.

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View from the pedestrian bridge of the Colorado River below – this is Navajo Bridge, which is on the eastern rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s along the route to Lee’s Ferry.

I told my sis (in law) Geneva last week that when I picture my ideal living situation, it’s in a small cabin or cottage near some woods. It’s a place where I can have a garden, live quietly and take my dog (or dogs if we are seeing far into the future) for a walk. A place where I can have quiet time but not feel isolated at the same time. A place that isn’t too far from a small city that has amenities for myself and my animals like a vet or emergency vet, and things to do. She said “where you have woods, you will have snow.” So I’m realizing that might be a trade off I need to make. Now, more than ever, the statement that life is about compromises makes more sense than ever.

I’d love to hear suggestions from folks about places that might have  a decent cost of living, where someone like me could make a difference, find a community of like-minded folks – people who respect animals or don’t look at me like I’m a freak for not wanting to eat meat, etc. (It’s just not the norm where I am now.)   And I MISS grass. I miss the color green. I really do. It’s made me think about moving to the mountains of Colorado – places like Grand Junction where the winters do get some snow but not a crazy amount because it’s on the western slope of the Rockies. But again, if I did that, I’m still a long way away from friends and family, for the most part.

Moving west was always something I wanted to do for quite a long time. And to experience something new and push myself. But it’s hard, I mean, really really hard to do all of this on your own. If I had a partner, it might be different. There is always that other person to lean on. Without that, I lean on friends, ones that I know will always tell it to me like it is and who don’t have a vested interest in seeing me act one way or another. My brother and sister in law who are nomads but recently have been in AZ for a while have given me frank thoughts and Geneva can always be counted on to tell it like it is, whether or not I want to hear it. My friend Dan is also very patient and listens to each of my cockamamy ideas and as I get excited about one thing, he knows it is usually just a matter of days til I am on to something else in my mind – something else to research and look into. Poor Dan – I know he doesn’t sleep much so even though there is a three hour time difference, he gets the brunt of my texting, etc. (Both he and my friend Anne, who recently commented on here, think I need to give myself time to think before pondering next moves and I know they are right. It’s just the stress about my finances, which I get into below, that has me thinking about it already.)

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I’ve not edited this pic at all – the sky was really that color that day. 

One person mentioned in the comments that it sounded like if I made a decision to change things or give up on what I am doing now (something to that effect, I’m paraphrasing) that I might view what I am doing now as having been a failure. And I think, in some regards, that is very true.  It’s like I will have viewed this past year or two as one big expensive mistake – giving up everything I owned back east other than what would fit in my car, just to replace some of it here, and put it in an RV, which I ultimately sold within 8 months, to getting an apartment that costs too much for the area, to changing jobs from something that fulfilled my soul to something that pays better to allow me to care for my fur family. I feel like I have spent a lot of money over the past year and now I second guess myself a lot. Was i wrong to move from Boston? Was I wrong to leave the comfort of my friends and family far away? Was it all for nothing if I move back? And even if I don’t find it all to be a failure, “Jesus, Terri, did you have to spend so much doing it??”  Part of me (irrationally) worries about those who thought I was insane to leave last year will look at me and go (even if only in their minds)….hm, I told you so….

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Loved the shadows of the clouds above on the sandstone formations below.

I’m feeling stressed right now because I am not sure what is going to go on with my job this winter. I found out the pay for what i thought I would be doing was going to be a LOT less than what I had expected, so that super stressed me out. As in, it would be a bit more than half of what I am making now, and with my rent, what I am making now allows me to pay my bills and make a bit of a payment on my credit cards, but not much. To go down to almost half of that was pretty much going to force me to stop saving for my car insurance, my brother’s wedding, get deferments or forebearances on my student loans and still leave me with about $100 to eat for the month and prayers that nothing would go wrong. In short, it would pretty much be next to impossible. Or get a second job and work a whole bunch of hours just to keep the lights on and food on the table (or couch, in the case of HoneyBun and Callie who move to their self-assigned positions at meal time.)  I understand my boss and her boss have come up with another alternative for me but I just don’t know what that is yet. Trying to not dwell or stress about it but I’ve never dealt well with a lot of uncertainty. Hoping to discuss that with my boss soon so at least I can figure out some plans.

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Yes, this is the Colorado River! Even in the heat of June, the water was still (and I understand, always) very cold to the touch. It was very refreshing that day as I stood in it, up to my shins.

Starting tomorrow, on the days where I don’t have to go into work until noon (I usually work 3 closing shifts per week which means 12-8:30 or so), I’m going to start going into town to the animal shelter to work with the animals there. My friend that runs it said that at that point, it’s not too hot to walk the dogs. That would give me a reason to get up early in the morning like I used to (lately, I feel like I’ve been sleeping too much and have no ambition to get up and exercise early.) In fact, I feel like I have not had much ambition to do much lately. My friend Liz from back east remarked to me that it’s so NOT like me to not get up and exercise every day, and she’s right. Although she didn’t say it at the time, I think she’s worried about me in that regard, and I am too. I feel like I’m kind of just existing and I hate feeling like this. I need goals and reasons to exist. I just feel like I am floundering right now. Other than going to work and taking care of my animals and the occasional trip to Lone Rock Beach, I don’t feel like I have much direction. 

So I guess that’s it – I just needed to get this post out there. Thanks, as always, for reading. I would love to hear any of your thoughts on this.

 

 

 

 

 

Torn….part two

I had a few other things I wanted to talk about in my last post, but as I was writing it the other day I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and just really wanted to get what I had written out there, and published. There are a few other things that have pushing and pulling at me lately, too.

But first, I do want to say thank you to everyone who read my last post and especially, thank you to those of you who left your thoughts, both on the blog and on facebook and in text messages. They really help and give me new perspectives to think about, and a couple even brought tears to my eyes, so thank you. I really mean it.

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Mother Nature does some amazing work. This photo doesn’t even do the sunset from this evening, justice.

One of the things I love about where I live are the amazing vistas. Vistas that you don’t see the likes of on the east coast because the topography is just so different. But you also get those vistas because towns are few and far in between. National park areas or recreational areas are kind of spread out, out here. And for me, I have to admit, it’s taking some adjusting, and not necessarily in a good way. I lived on the east coast for my entire life, and there, you don’t have to drive 75 miles to get from one small town to another small town. I have to travel about 120 miles to get to the nearest decent-sized city. In Massachusetts, where I lived until last year, that kind of drive would have taken you almost completely from the easternmost side of the state to the western side of the state. Seriously. It would have. I remember well driving the MA turnpike and seeing the signs saying about “Boston – 156 miles.”

Can I be honest? I love the desert vistas, but I miss trees. When I wrote an earlier post on reflection about my time driving to home from my family in Clarkdale, AZ, I posted a picture of a gorgeous spot I found on the drive through Oak Creek. I felt comfortable there because it reminded of the woods you see back east. A friend commented that in my list of spontaneous words that came to mind as I sat there was the word “green.” She might have been onto something.

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the amazing sky over Lone Rock (picture unedited to show true colors)

At times when I lived back east, I wished for more quiet. Now that I have that quiet, in spades, I wish for more stuff to be going on, or at least, for the opportunity to have  more stuff going on. I like the simplicity of a small town – I don’t have lots of options for entertainment, so that saves me money, but god, it would be nice to have that option at the same time to go see a museum or an event or even a farmer’s market!! Really! It would be nice to have more than one option for Thai food, or more places where I could get vegan friendly food (we have two supermarkets and one of them is found in the Super Walmart.)

Things were definitely, DEFINITELY more expensive in Boston. Rent was more expensive (although the town where I live might surprise you – ahem, my apartment is $800/month), but then again the salaries were higher, or at least mine was. Vet bills were more expensive, but then again, I had the comfort of knowing that if something happened suddenly with the furballs, it was a quick uber ride or zip car rental to get me to the emergency vet. It didn’t take over two hours to drive there if the local vet’s office was closed. And that, trust me, is super scary. Taking Bonkers to the vet about 3 weeks before he died because he couldn’t poop was super scary. I had flashbacks of the night I drove Sebastian to that same vet, all the way in St. George (only 75 miles away at that time), only to arrive there and find out he had died on the way. I never want to go through something like that, again. Any parent, fur or otherwise hates to see their kid not feeling well. The fact that my kid just happened to meow to me instead of speak English, and that he had fur didn’t make it any less stressful. Parents and kids come in all shapes and sizes.

For the past few days, I’ve had this yearning to simplify my life again. Go through the clothes and really break them down even further to what is only necessary. If I was living in a Class B or a van, what would I then find to be necessary? Would I only keep about two weeks worth of clothes, or even less?

Part of me knows that to live in something so small would end up being difficult, and it would remove a lot of the creature comforts that I like about living in an apartment. Since I moved out of the RV and into the studio, I have absolutely loved being able to step into a normal size bathroom, with a normal sized shower and if I want to stand in there and let the water splash over me for a few seconds after I have washed and shampooed myself, I can do so. I know that I won’t run out of hot water within a matter of seconds. In the RV, I worried about using up too much propane in the process, and to do that meant wasting money. (Don’t get me wrong, I still take quick showers, but there is a certain luxury to knowing you could stay in there for a bit longer if you wanted to.)   RVs are notoriously poorly insulated and so I really do appreciate the thickness of the apartment walls, and how well they keep this place cool even in 100 degree heat as we have experienced the past few days. Rvs are much smaller, and thus, my animals would have much less room to roam. And I think you all know how important my furballs and their happiness and safety is to me.  Having had two of them get out from my apartment scared me shitless while they were gone and  I couldn’t find them, or get them back. Living in an RV or a Class B, I might be terrified of their escaping every time I opened the door. I couldn’t have a baby gate right inside the door as an added barrier to escaping, as I do now in the apartment.

Living in an RV again – it would force me to live even more simply, but then again, it comes with its own challenges, not to mention the fear of something breaking down and then my responsibility of having to repair it. It allows one to travel and see more sights, but it also means having to start over a lot. Starting over in new places and meeting new places, hoping again to find a community of like minded people and possibly facing the disappointment of not finding it.  My sister in law said to me the other day something to the effect that maybe there is no “one” place for me, but a lot of “this will do for now” places. She’s pretty intuitive, so maybe she’s right. I don’t know, time will tell.  But I think, for now, the RV idea is out. It’s tempting because of the romantic simplicity aspect that comes with it, but I also know it’s definitely not an easy life in the way of creature comforts.

One last thing that has me torn some days, and I have written about this a lot in the past, is whether or not to take an anti-depressant to help my anxiety. I know that it definitely helps to “level” things out, but I also want to just free my body of artificial materials like medications, as much as I can. I do take an allergy medication, and that I pretty much know I need to take (it’s over the counter so it isn’t expensive), because of the pets and pollen (yes, we get some in the desert) and dust, and well, basically fresh air, lol. I don’t want to feel like I need a crutch, and in truth, most days, I don’t. I don’t want to second guess my reactions to stressful situations. So  I seesaw back and forth. Currently, I’ve not taken it in a few weeks.

Have you ever noticed how many commercials there are on tv for various drugs, including ones that are for combating side effects of chemotherapy? Why is that, don’t you think? Is it because the pharmaceutical field wants to have us buy medications we might not need? Don’t get me wrong, I definitely needed to take prozac at one point in my life, and for that, I consider it a miracle drug, but now I question if I still need it. Many days, I ask that question and find myself saying, “nope, you don’t.”

A friend shared the following with me the other day and it was like the author was talking to me, or in my mind! I thought a lot of you might find it helpful too: What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do (by Emma While).

I’m going to leave you with a link to a post I just read titled, “If you Don’t Know What to Do With Your Life, Read This” of which the final two lines are so perfect (wish I could have come up with them, but the author, Michelle Kennedy Hogan, deserves all the credit.

“At the end of your life, you won’t regret trying things and failing, but you will regret not ever trying at all.

Close that laptop and go get your life.”

And with that,  I thank you for reading, as always. Hope you enjoyed the sunset pictures – they don’t do that actual sky justice.

 

Torn…

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I’ve spent a lot of time at the beach lately, contemplating my next steps.

Even this post has been like pulling teeth, trying to think of how to put into words what I have been feeling lately…

I started writing it a few weeks ago. One morning, I decided to not go for a run, but opted for a good walk to a “sit and just be” spot off the beaten path about a five minute drive from where I live. I did not take my phone with me, because I didn’t want to be torn from the present moment while I was there. But I didn’t go so far that I couldn’t get back to my car on my own volition if something happened. And therein lies one of the things I am torn about in life right now.

I think a lot of us feel these internal pushings and pullings inside ourselves but don’t feel like we can talk about them.  If you’re unhappy about something, you don’t always feel like you can complain or vocalize it, especially if from all outward signs, it looks like everything in your life is going all so swimmingly well. So, I hope this post can help some of you out there who might feel the same. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know I’m not afraid to share uncomfortable things sometimes. Even if no one ever reads that post, it helps me to get it out there.

A friend of mine asked me last night if I was doing ok – he thought I sounded like I was feeling down a bit lately. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my life, what really drives me. I’m trying to figure out what is going on in the present, and trying to be present in the moment, but also working on what could make me happier in the future. Looking back, I feel like I may have made some rash decisions, or had tunnel vision, but then when i look at those decisions in a different light, then I think, “well maybe not so much. It did take me over a year to figure out where to move when I  finally decided Boston was not the place for me.”

I’m torn about a few things lately:

1.I found out I am able to work full time at the resort through the winter. I’m thrilled about that for financial reasons – I know it will allow me to keep earning a salary and be able to save a bit of $ right now while also paying down my credit card debt (yes, I have a balance now I can’t pay off within a month, I’ll write about it in a separate post.)  While I like working in a place that is absolutely gorgeous and a place that some folks only get to spend their vacation at, it’s not a job which I see as being the one I would want to do for the rest of my days on this earth.

I  love some of my coworkers and the people we take care of, who, for the most part, are really good and appreciative of our efforts.  However, occasionally, I hear someone complaining and I find myself wanting to smack them upside the head and say to them “don’t you realize you have such a BLESSED life? You’re not dying of some terminal disease, you’re able to afford your vacation, so stop complaining that the person’s camper next to you is too close, or you don’t have enough seclusion or enough shade in just the right few square inches of space where you want it, or the wifi isn’t strong enough!!! You’re on vacation! You’re getting to do something not everyone gets to do, and you’re in a campground, not out in the wilderness, for god’s sake!!!” (Phew, that felt good to get out!! But then I feel guilty for having judged them in such a way because I wonder, is it our society turning people into ingrates?)  On the other hand, I just finished reading When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi, about a neursurgeon who ended up with lung cancer that spread to his brain and died within 22 months. I really want to recommend that book to everyone, and especially those who seem to complain about the smallest, most minute problems.  It gives you an entirely new perspective on how lucky so many of us are in life.

In our store, we sell lots of prepackaged items. As I read more about our environment and global climate change, and conscious consumerism, the effects of garbage on all of these issues, it kills me a little bit inside every time I sell something that is contributing to those problems. I realize those problems are not gonna go away overnight, but how can I start doing something to slow down or reduce those problems? It’s a huge company so I don’t think they would take kindly to one of their employees telling people “you know, you really shouldn’t be eating meat for this, that and another reason….” So, I shut my mouth on those issues and sell them what they want and thank them for their business. But I think I am going to talk to the person who is  in charge of the retail side and see if we can work with more vendors willing to provide different alternatives that are more healthy. Right now, I think there’s only one that has some healthy alternatives, so I’ve been steadily trying to buy from her for our merchandise.

I spent a few hours online yesterday morning, looking into certificate programs and other programs related to fields where I could see myself genuinely invested – natural resource policy and management (my love of trees and the outdoors, so then I got thinking about forestry related degrees), sustainability, as well as animal welfare and of course, voluntary simplicity or minimalism. I get excited at the thought of learning about these areas, but then I get frustrated when I see how much they will cost in terms of money (my big concern) and time investment (I’m already 43, how much more schooling can I truly handle, if any?)  I can’t really afford to take out more loans (huge understatement) so then I think of looking at internships, etc., but those can be costly in that I would need to (1) relocate at least temporarily and (2) be able to live on a very small stipend, if there is any. With pets of my own to care for, and my student loans and car payment to worry about, it is very hard to make those numbers work. But I’m gonna keep trying and looking and thinking of solutions.

So here is what I have come up with so far. I know this blog doesn’t have a lot of readers (the stats don’t lie) but I plan to start writing on a variety of issues that are near and dear to me. I will have to start networking (at least online) somehow, connecting with others who feel the same way, and maybe get the word out that way. Every minute I’m online, I am using up precious cell data to connect to the internet via my chromebook, so it makes me use my time online in a more concerted manner.

The same friend who asked me if I was ok (he’s so awesome, please show him some love by checking out his youtube channel: Wander Dano) said he thought maybe  I taken the step forcing myself to find myself, by all the changes I have made, rather than just staying in one place and being “meh” about my life. I know he meant it as a compliment, and I think he is right. I have definitely done that, and many days, I wish it was easier to deal with, but then again, I think by the rough times or times when I doubt myself, that is when I learn the most. Right?

If you’ve been a faithful reader of my blog, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and hope you will stick with me. And if you are new, well, welcome, and I hope you will stick around as I continue searching for what makes me happy, what makes me feel like I’m here on this earth for a reason, and what that reason is. In other words, “what is my why?”

 

I just wish I had a better handle sometimes on what are my simple dreams.

Any thoughts and comments on this post are greatly appreciated, as with all the others.