Do you believe in Signs?

IMAG1040

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

IMAG0948

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.

IMAG0942

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.)

IMAG0955.jpg

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….

IMAG0957.jpg

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.

IMAG0953

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.

IMAG0935.jpg

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.

IMAG0918.jpg

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…

IMAG0873.jpg

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.

Inspirations and Internal Changes

Cactuses are starting to bloom near where I live. After visiting the botanical garden, I'm more aware of them.

Cactuses are starting to bloom near where I live. After visiting the botanical garden, I’m more aware of them and the desert’s beauty. Amazing that something can live and thrive with so little water.

While I was in Phoenix, I visited the Desert Botanical Garden and the Butterfly Wonderland. Both were a bit pricey (the botanical garden was just over $17 with the AAA discount and the butterfly garden cost about $21 with another discount given to me), but very worth it in my eyes. When I was at the botanical garden, I saw so many volunteers and you could tell they were very happy to contribute to the beauty of the place as well as connect with visitors. When I was with the butterflies, I just thought of all the changes that these creatures go through, and how many we go through in our own lives. They showed a video on the lives of monarchs and all the challenges they go through on their several hundred mile long migrations. Then I spent a lot of time in the butterfly room afterward, and even had the luck of having a butterfly land on me – I’ve never had that happen before!! Ever! (And I’ve been to a few butterfly museums/sanctuaries in my life!)

When it landed on me, it really tickled!

When it landed on me, it really tickled!

Both places reinvigorated me to remember things that really make me happy and I decided to take the plunge and go ahead and buy the Tower Garden for my apartment after all.  (It’s something I have mulled over off and on for the past year or so, but when I was in the RV, I just didn’t have the available space.) I have a friend back home in Boston who has one, so I know the claims that they make of producing so much produce in such a short time are legitimate. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and tasted the produce her garden made! I know it is a bit expensive to start off with, but my goal is to eat primarily what I grow myself. I feel much better when I am eating a lot of greens and fruits, and the tower garden will even allow me to grow strawberries! Yay, I can’t wait! And just knowing it is coming, I have not had the inclination to eat a lot of sweets and junk this week. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I feel like I want to detox, detox, detox!! Get all the crap out of me and out of my apartment!

When I spent that hour along Oak Creek Drive just north of Sedona, I think it transformed me. I can’t put it completely into words but it seemed to have a profound effect on me. Since then, I just feel, well, different. It made me want to slow down and listen to the birds more and figure out why that is. Why I feel so drawn to now learning about nature and holistic health and detoxing my body, and my life, etc.

View from the scenic view pullout at the top of the Oak Creek drive. This photo only shows two of the many switchbacks you have to navigate to get there.

View from the scenic view pullout at the top of the Oak Creek drive. This photo only shows two of the many switchbacks you have to navigate to get there.

On Monday, I just had this major urge to clean out stuff in my closet, so I took about 5 bags of stuff to the local animal shelter for the animals there to use. My pets don’t need all the extra blankets I had in my closet, and they don’t need all the extra rugs and pet beds. However, the animals there do. Not all of them have a soft surface to sit on – mine do. It felt AWESOME to take all that stuff in, because I knew I didn’t need it, they did. I also realized, when I tend to hang on to more stuff, it’s coming from a place of insecurity inside myself. Like when I first moved out of my marriage, I took all these extra things like towels, and blankets, etc. I was scared at the time that I wouldn’t be able to afford even the basics so I took everything that I could that he didn’t want. I felt like more stuff equaled more security. I know now that it’s just the opposite. When I have less stuff, I feel happier and more secure because the stuff I do have is the stuff I want and love. And it’s all that I need, no more.

Look close - do you see the butterfly hiding among the leaves?

Look close – do you see the butterfly hiding among the leaves?

I know Sedona is one of those new-agey kind of places, where people believe in vortexes and crystals and what a lot of people might think is a bunch of junk. But I want to open my eyes to some of it – I got a few books out from the library about crystals and their healing powers and am going to educate myself about them. Maybe there is nothing to any of it, and maybe it really is a bunch of “hooey,” but maybe I will find them helpful, and in this life, I think we need to each find our own way. If there is anything I have learned these past few years, it’s that there is no one RIGHT choice of life for any of us. Trying to pigeon-hole myself into the box or boxes that I thought were right for me only ended up hurting myself in the long run. Or, maybe, they didn’t. Maybe they were all leading me to where I am meant to be, and what I am meant to be. After all, I wouldn’t be who I am today without those experiences. I wouldn’t  know how strong I can be alone if I hadn’t gone through the pain of a divorce. I wouldn’t know how empowering it feels  to be true to yourself if I hadn’t not been true to myself at one point in my life. Does that make any sense?  I hope so.

Blue butterflies always catch my attention.

Blue butterflies always catch my attention.

I’ve just finished reading a book called Most Good Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and A Meaningful Life, by Zoe Weil.  And I’ve recently begun reading another book called Living Forward: a Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want, by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy. Both of these books provide you with some questions to really focus on and think about your answers. The second asks three questions at the beginning:

  1. How do I want to be remembered?
  2. What matters most?
  3. How can I get from here to where I want to be?

I will let you know what I think of the Living Forward book when I finish it. It’s also available through Audible.com.  I’ve started formulating my answer to question number 1, though, and here is what I have so far.  I want to be remembered as someone who was good to animals and to others, as someone who was positive and who made a good contribution to this world. I want to have been a happy person, someone who was in touch with herself. Someone who always  liked learning. Someone who wasn’t wasteful. Someone who had a good handle on her financial situation and wasn’t a mess when it came to saving money or having debt. Someone who didn’t have a bunch of extra crap in their life!

I went for my first run in several weeks yesterday. A “run” might be a bit of an exaggeration. It was more like a slow jog. But it got my heart rate going, and I even broke a sweat, and I reminded myself of why I liked to exercise before. I told myself it would only be two loops around the neighborhood and that’s all I did. I also told myself that it was ok to walk, and I did. I don’t know why I just stopped several weeks ago, I just did. I was finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning and the idea of getting up even earlier. I just couldn’t stomach the idea of getting up early to exercise, even though that had been a mainstay of my life for many years now. It’s only been the last few days where I have even woken up BEFORE my alarm, and felt excited enough to get out of bed. I’m not sure what’s going on, with these changes, but I will let you know when I figure it out, if I do.

Navajo Mountain off in the distance. I see this every day from my neighborhood and on my way to work. A very sacred place for the Navajo Nation.

Navajo Mountain off in the distance. I see this every day from my neighborhood and on my way to work. A very sacred place for the Navajo Nation.

A friend of mine from back east left a great comment on my blog last week and has inspired me very much with many of her thoughts she has shared with me. She reminded me that it’s ok to not be the person you once were. It’s ok to change. It’s ok to not feel comfortable when you are somewhere new, and that you can invent or create who you are, NOW.  Who you are now can be different from who you once were. 

Ok, that’s enough of my musings and babblings for now – I’m going to get out there and go for my run, ahem, slow jog, and sweat out some more toxins. Until next time… thanks, as always, for reading!

 

Reflection

IMAG0780.jpgI drove home earlier today from the Clarkdale, AZ area. It’s south of Sedona and Flagstaff. Everyone told me to be sure I didn’t drive on the major highway, but to instead take the drive along Oak Creek. And I’m so glad I did. The drive reminded me more of the east coast types of woods I am used to. I saw the creek flowing and was able to sit under the trees and listen to the breeze rustle their leaves, the way the breeze used to ruffle the leaves of the trees near the reservoir back in Boston.  I remembered what it felt like to lay down on my back under the trees and see them swaying above me, and then how it felt to take a picture of them with my cell phone pointed up toward the sky.

Today’s drive was about more than taking the scenic way home. It was about remembering and realizing anew what makes me happy. Being one with nature, and using as many of my senses as I can to appreciate it. I looked, really looked, at the greenness of the leaves around me. I listened to the creek babbling as the water fell and flowed downward past me. I smelled the air around me and the freshness and slight dampness to it that you just don’t get in the Lake Powell area (unless a storm has just moved through, which is rare.)  While I sat there, I finished my organic green superfood drink I had just bought at the natural grocers store – a brand I had never had before but would like to get again. I felt good about consuming it, knowing it will only do good for my insides.

I took a small notebook down with me to the side of the creek. I wanted to write whatever just came to me, and here’s what I wrote.

Three questions: 

  1. What do I need?
  2. What makes me happy?
  3. What gives me peace?

Then I just started writing thoughts as they came to me, and in no particular order. I didn’t want to censor myself. I’ve put brackets around a few of them just to give you some context.

  • being in a health food store like I just was, with so many vegan choices so I could be more true to my principles
  • eating green again
  • feeling whole
  • hearing the birds outside
  • hearing the water rush downstream
  • being able to write again
  • remembering this feeling when I am no longer here [i knew i would want to recreate it for myself]
  • having these trees provide shade to me, and so much more.
  • lots and lots of trees.
  • beauty
  • sound of wind through the trees
  • freedom
  • feeling after a really good run, when you feel like you could go on forever [thinking of what used to make me happy and wondering if it could, again]
  • familiar [the comfort you can sometimes draw from the familiar, whether it’s people, or surroundings, etc.]
  • learning
  • growth
  • freedom
  • nature
  • beauty in the simple
  • being alone to learn about myself and not feel like i am lacking
  • [being or feeling] centered
  • having a goal
  • having something to focus on
  • peace
  • calm
  • feeling like no one else is around
  • water
  • ginger
  • organic
  • feeling that i never want to leave
  • positivity
  • being true to myself
  • the smell of the woods
  • the smell in the air right before a storm
  • my animals and how excited they get to see me
  • seeing my family and reconnecting with them again
  • taste of ginger
  • eating well
  • taste of real food (and yes, I even underlined it at that time when I wrote it)
  • idea that i could come back here again so easily
  • the color green, from leaves
  • living frugally
  • living simply
  • not having waste
  • eating raw, but also pasta [they had so many good raw vegan foods in the natural grocers store, but i realize i really, really love pasta! and that is ok!]
  • fresh food
  • fresh produce
  • knowing i needed to stop [on the road]
  • taking the time to stop [following my feelings]
  • the beauty of a spring day
  • hope
  • anticipation
  • love
  • rebirth
  • can do whatever you want to do and set your heart to

So there you have it – my stream of consciouness. I may not have been in what is known as one of the four vortexes that are in Sedona but I feel like sitting by that stream, the place just called to me. I could have stopped anywhere along the road, but I decided to stop there. And then I heard the water, and then I knew I had to go sit by the stream  or creek. I knew i would also know when I was ready to move on, and I did.

I hope that each and every one of you can have an experience like this, or have some time to be introspective, if it helps you. I didn’t originally want three days off in a row but now I am so grateful to have had them. It allowed me to spend more time with my oldest brother and his wife than just quickly at the wedding, and it gave me the time to drive home slowly today, to see the beauty around me and really take it all in.

And today, I am feeling better about things and myself. And I’m really thinking about what I want to be the NEW Me.  As someone said in a comment to my last post, sometimes it’s not about going back to who you were, but becoming who you are now. And embracing it.

Thank you as always for reading, especially since this makes two posts two days in a row!!

Getting Back to Being Me

IMAG0732

I call this photo “Agave Gone Wild!”

“Being me.” That’s a phrase I have been struggling to figure out since I moved away from the east coast. Away from my family. Away from my adopted MA family, and my best friend who I think of as the younger sister I never had. Away from the familiar. Away from the comfortable job that paid me oh, so well. (And looking back, wow, it really, really did, I just didn’t feel like it did for the longest time, until I realized how I was wasting so much money on every day things.)  Now that I survive on so much less, it blows my mind to think about that paycheck. (Of course, I was paying a lot more on my student loans at the time.)

So when I think about what does it mean to be me, I sometimes think of what that meant in the past. And what it means now.

IMAG0743

Pretty amazing how close the butterflies would let you get to take a photo!

What it used to mean – 

Pre-divorce – living the conventional “good” life:  the marriage, two cars, a house, and pets.

After-divorce, still in Boston: Reminding myself that yes, I was still a desirable woman who wouldn’t be alone for the entire rest of her life. Realizing that it’s ok to be on my own, and yes, I can make it on my own. Realizing that yes, I could re-create a life for myself, and to know that it is more important to me to have a few very, very good friends than a huge gaggle or group. Working out and running a lot, finding  my own community in the exercise world.

What it means now

Now, in the southwest. I’m still figuring this one out, having changed jobs twice in six months. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I have a credit card balance again. Changing jobs from one low paying job to a better paying job (but still way less than half of what I used to make in Boston) and paying $800 in rent to be back in an apartment has taken its toll on my finances. I’ve also spent at least $750 on vet bills in the last month or so. Not that I regret any of those dollars being spent on Bonkers, I’d do it again in a heartbeat, but it does take its toll when you are trying to dig out of a hole.

IMAG0753

Check out the legs – I learned that butterflies taste things through their feet!

So, in terms of finances, I feel like I have taken steps backward. Right now, I am hoping for as much overtime as possible this summer so I can pay off the credit card and start making inroads into my car loan, which sits just below $7K right now. And I’m not sure if my job will be permanent through the full year, now that I won’t be the supervisor for the full time I am there. I’m worried about not having enough in savings to make it through a winter if I am not still working at the resort all year long. My credit card balances are split between one card (where the brunt of it is) that has 0% interest for 21 months, and another small balance on a card that is earning interest on anything unpaid. Needless to say that is where my focus is and I want to get it paid off within the next month to six weeks. The overtime will go straight to that one, so that I can then cancel out the card.

So, as before, money (or what I perceive as a lack thereof) takes its hold on me. I feel this need to build up the emergency savings again. I’m down to about 1K, which is less than I have had now in the past few years. But then, of course,  I used to make a lot more, so I try to remind myself to take that into account.

IMAG0735

I love how the agave is growing out of the mass of flowers! This was near the herb garden at the botanical garden in Phoenix.

I’m torn between loving the beauty of the area where I am, and wanting more social interaction, or wondering if maybe I just need to find a new hobby. I spend my working hours around lots of people, but when not at work, I spend most of that time on my own or with the furry ones. I sometimes crave conversation with someone other than my co-workers, or the furballs. Back when I was in Boston, I could have called up my best friend and asked if she wanted to get together. These days, I don’t have that option. We can talk on the phone, and that is certainly awesome, but I can’t see her or my loved ones in person. It’s days like these where I wonder if I should move back toward the east coast. I could be on the same time zone as them again. But to do that, it kind of feels like I am giving up, and way too soon, on this adventure in life I’m on now. I know it’s not time.

Consequently, when I think like that, I wonder if it’s also the “physical closeness” of communities on the east coast that I am missing. By “physical closeness” I mean the fact that on the east coast, you don’t have to drive for 75 miles to get from one community to another. And it’s normal to have a store like a CVS or Walgreen’s as a pharmacy, rather than having to go to a grocery store like a Walmart. So, is it just a bigger city that I want, I wonder? 

Or is it a sense of community that I miss? Is that it? Back in Boston, I had my “library” community, and my “gym” community, and my “friend” community, not to mention my family (my brother and sister in law) and my younger brother just a quick trip away (he lives  in NYC and used to come up for visits a fair amount.)

If you’ve ever been single and moved to a new place while single, you know what it’s like. It’s different when you are part of a couple. You always have that built-in support if you are part of a duo. As a single, you don’t have that. You have to really put yourself out there to meet people. I’ve started to volunteer at the animal shelter but that’s not a huge place like the Animal Rescue League was in Boston, where there were tons of people coming in every weekend to volunteer and adopt animals. The times I’ve been there, it’s just been the animals and two volunteers or so. But I’ve enjoyed my walks with the very energetic doggies I’ve accompanied and who were clearly happy to have someone paying attention to them.

I was just in Phoenix last night for a wedding and went to the Desert Botanical Garden and the Butterfly Wonderland earlier today. (I will write up separate posts about them so I can really share a lot of the pictures.) There were lots of people working there and volunteering. Living in a much more remote area, we don’t have those types of places to go to, or volunteer. I was talking to folks at the wedding last night about the differences between living in a city like Boston vs. where I am now, and I said “you know, it’s not like I went to museums all the time when I was there, either, but I always knew I could if I wanted to. That was the difference.”  The thought of this got me to thinking. Is the grass always greener on the other side? Will I always want something I don’t have? Or is it just the conveniences of having many choices that I miss sometimes?

However, driving to these places today, I spent time on the freeways of Phoenix as well as the crowded city streets, and then I realized there is definitely one thing I don’t miss about living in a city and that is, wait for it… traffic. And then I drove out of the city and into the country and once again saw the wide open expanses that I am now so used to. I remembered a statement from a friend at the wedding who has lived out in the southwest now for many years – she said that when she travels back to upstate NY or the east coast, she feels claustrophobic. Everything is so close together, she said, and it feels like she can’t breathe. I haven’t been back east yet to test this theory, but we shall see if the same applies to me. With my finances, it doesn’t look like that will happen until next year when my brother is getting married in Naples, Florida!

IMAG0765

The difference in colors (and in some butterflies, translucence or lack of color) is so striking. This doesn’t do this butterfly justice.

This has been a long, rambling post, for which I apologize. But it’s helpful to get my thoughts on “paper” and I am liking writing more again. It’s part of the process of once again, getting back to Being Me.

As always, thank you for reading and commenting. I really do enjoy comments and responding back to them, so thank you.