Reconnecting to Nature: Take (another) field trip

IMG_20171001_145040.jpgToward the end of last month, I took a trip up to Edmonton, Alberta, where I spent some time with my now boyfriend! (Yes, it finally happened.  I met someone and am happy in that part of my life.)  The area around there reminds me of parts of western Massachusetts as well as upstate NY.

One day, he had to work, so I decided to take another field trip for my Environmental Ethics class.  Being so much further north, the leaves were starting to turn already and there was a definite nip in the air. Only the end of September, the air felt as cold as I remember it used to feel in November while growing up in central NY.  I guess that’s the difference a few hundred miles of latitude will get you.

You’ll notice the post below is much shorter than the first. Sometimes there is peace in brevity.

Mill Creek Ravine, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 9/30/17

Cold and very windy, the ravine flows below me. The wind whips through the tops of the aspens and evergreen trees towering above me as I sit on the cold, black metal bench.  The leaves that have fallen to the ground then crunching beneath my feet as I walk to warm myself.  At some places, the water in the ravine flows quickly; in others, not.  The flowing water is peaceful, not turbulent.  The still water smells sour, almost a bit like sewage, so I move away.

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The earth is moist and damp.  Who knows how long some of these leaves may have lain here?  The sky is grey above me.  I wonder – will it rain? Or even snow?

I see trees uprooted, yet with golden and red leaves still on their branches.  Fallen trees create natural bridges over the narrow parts of the ravine.  I hear the occasional voice or see bounding feet of a dog who stops and lays down before me for a belly rub, sharing his joy after taking a dip in the stream.  Grateful for this little slice of nature in the midst of a city.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please let me know by dropping a comment below or sharing it with someone you think might benefit from it. And as always, thanks for reading.

 

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Thought it was interesting that this almost completely uprooted tree, hanging on by seemingly just a thread, had fall covered leaves on it.

 

Thank you letters, Take Two!

thank u card butterflyI was running on Thursday morning and listening to another favorite podcast of mine, Martinis and Your Money.  The host’s name is Shannon McLay and she was talking about how her choices in life led her to creating the Financial Gym.  She used to work for Merrill Lynch where the financial advisors wouldn’t take you on as a client unless you had something like $250,000 in savings. Um, I’m 44, and I STILL don’t have that in savings, and I know I’m ahead of a lot of other folks my age! (Sad, isn’t it? But that’s a story or a post for another day.)

Anyway, she said that after she spent an hour with a young couple who had over $1,000,000 saved and who each made six figures, and they were complaining about their portfolio being down by 3%, she just felt like she had sold her soul, and she knew she couldn’t get that hour of her life back.  And a few weeks later, she was working with one of her pro bono clients, and at the end of their session together, the lady said to her, “You know you’re saving my life, right?”

This made me think of the person who took me and my former husband on as clients when we didn’t have much in savings (he had a little, and I had pretty much nothing), but we had a lot of debt (mainly, my student loans).  So today, my thank you letter is written for Jessica C., or “Jess” as I sometimes called her.

Dear Jess,

I think what I’m most grateful for is that you never laughed at me and my dreams, no matter how silly or ludicrous they must have sounded to you.  So many people tried to instill fear in me (or was it their projection of their own fears?) but you never did. Instead, you said, “Let’s make a plan.”  And you’d put all of my figures in your spreadsheets so I could see how things might be possible, at least financially-speaking. 

You’d meet with me as often as I asked just so I could have someone to be accountable to, and you were like a cheerleader of sorts, encouraging me, and reminding me of how I had turned my life around in a few years since my divorce.  How I’d gone from having to take a loan out on my 403(b) to pay off my credit cards, and having zero in savings to having a good nest egg to buffer my fall when I made a life-changing move. 

There are two other things for which I need to thank you.  After my divorce, you didn’t just drop me as a client.  I’d already been “dropped” suddenly by so many people, I just kind of assumed that might be the case with you too, as you moved on to bigger and better clients who had way more in assets than me.  One of the scariest things when considering a divorce is how much your life will change after.  How people may just drop you from their lives (and they do, as they did.) 

The final thing for which I say thanks is for your helping me when you knew eventually I wouldn’t be able to afford your services. You were basically working your way out of a job with me as a client.  You knew I’d be taking such a huge pay cut I wouldn’t be able to keep working with you.  But you kept cheering me on. 

Yet, you still answer my emails, even when it’s to mention I need to change my address (again), and I know you still monitor the funds I transferred over to you. I know you will say you’re just doing your job and you have a duty to do so, and maybe you do.  But it doesn’t mean I can’t thank you for helping me to ensure I have a nest egg and won’t have to work until the day I die.  

Thank you for giving me that small peace of mind. And thank you for being a decent human being.  

Terri

So that’s my thank you letter for today.  If you’d like to thank someone and write up a guest post, please let me know. I’d be extremely happy to spread that positive feeling around. You never know what life will bring you, so don’t wait to thank someone who’s made a positive influence on you or your life.

Thanks for reading. And if you want Jess’ contact info, just drop me a comment below and I’ll gladly send it to you.

 

Low-Cost Animal Healthcare Options

If you find this post helpful, or know someone who it can help, please share it because as they say, “Sharing is caring!” 🙂

 

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Morgan, giving the puppy dog eyes as only she can do!

 

As a veterinary receptionist, I get so many calls every day from people who tell me about a pet that needs help, or that needs to be spayed or neutered, and when they hear what my hospital charges, they say “Well, I can’t afford that.”

The other day I was volunteering at a food pantry, giving out pet food as we do every third Friday of the month, and some ladies told me that they were trying to feed 15 cats that were just dumped on them.  The daughter seemed at her wit’s end, having called a few different organizations and not hearing back, or being told no over and over.  And I was at a loss not knowing of some low-cost spay and neuter clinics, but I did give her the names of some foster care programs if she could trap the cats.  Being a former librarian, that just didn’t sit right with me!!

I went to an outdoor festival on Saturday and met a volunteer with Animal Protection of New Mexico.  Their literature states that there are about 40 different spay/neuter programs in New Mexico alone, so I made a note to find that information and spread it on here.  Please note I’m not intending for these few paragraphs to be all inclusive of every single organization that helps out with low income spay and neuter clinics — that’s impossible to do for the entire globe.

For those of you reading this in New Mexico, click here for a list of spay and neuter programs listed by county, in alphabetical order.  Also, check out the SpayNM spay and neuter program website for another listing of spay and neuter clinics.  SpayNM also provides information on TNR (trap-neuter-return) programs to help deal with feral cat colonies, and PACA (People’s Anti-Cruelty Association) is also helpful in the area of TNR.  And in case those don’t have enough information for you, then check out Love That Cat’s listing by state of spay and neuter programs (note that some only work with pet animals and some only work with feral cats).

Not in New Mexico?  That’s fine.  Here is the link to the ASPCA’s website that has a listing of clinics and programs which you can search for within 50 miles of your zip code.  Not in the US?  That’s ok – go to this listing compiled by the HSUS that includes TNR programs in Canada too!!

If you are reading this from outside of the US or Canada and know of similar type programs in your country, would you kindly drop a comment below so I can share that information on your behalf?  I’m thinking of creating some pages on this blog with helpful resources like this.  It could be a lot of work but the librarian in me will be happy to be kept busy and have her brain engaged. Do you think something like this would be helpful? Please drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.

And enjoy this video below of my two nut job dogs (Morgan and Snuggles) playing!

 

 

 

 

Reconnecting to Nature: Take a Field Trip

 

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The site of my field trip (sunflowers were behind me.)

My Environmental Ethics requires us to go on four field trips in our neck of the woods. The goal is to remain in the present for at least 30 minutes.  No cell phones.  No thoughts of what happened earlier today or what can happen tonight.  When you find your thoughts drifting away from the present, you do your best to bring them back to the here and now.  Try and use all of your senses: sight, smell, touch, hear, etc.  Our assignment limits us to the number of words, and I’m finding I’m embracing those limits rather than fighting them. One of my fellow students said I should publish them somehow and he would want to read one of them every day to reconnect himself to nature. So, I thought I would do so here, in the hope that it can have some beneficial effect to those of you reading it.

Our assignment limits us to the number of words, and I’m finding I’m embracing those limits rather than fighting them. So without further adieu, here goes nothing, er, my first field trip.

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Yesterday, I took a field trip to the section of the Bosque knowns as Tingley Beach.  The Bosque is a wooded area located along the banks of the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  It stretches for miles with lots of dirt paths for walkers, runners, bikers, and nature enthusiasts.  Usually, I run there.  But yesterday, I decided I would just sit and observe.

I wonder – what made me choose this spot?  Because it’s familiar?  But, I’ve never sat here on a log and just looked and listened while not moving.  There are so many wild sunflowers growing here, some out of what appears to be dead, inhospitable wood accumulated on the ground.  How did all these dead tree branches come to be here on the ground?  Were they cut down?  No, they’re too randomly placed.  Did they break off in the wind?  That seems more likely, given the winds we have here in Albuquerque, a high desert city.

The breeze blows through the green leaves of the tall cottonwoods above me.  I’m comforted by it, even though I can tell by its ferocity that a rainstorm might be coming.  I welcome that.  To the south are dark clouds.  To the north are white puffy clouds that seem to be speeding effortlessly through the sky because of that strong wind.  The sun keeps peeking in and out from among the dark clouds, alternately warming and cooling my body.

Sitting quietly, I start to hear the sounds of birds chirping.  I hear one chirp, then another, and then a third, all from different locations.  They are of different types; each chirp is unique.  And are those crickets or cicadas I hear?  I love the sound of them, but seeing them in person freaks me out.  I’m not a fan of big bugs.

I hear the sounds of civilization off in the distance: traffic noise, a plane flying overhead, the sounds of humans along the dirt path.  The humans are close enough that we could both see each other, but they’re too engrossed in their conversations or own thoughts to notice me sitting amongst the cottonwoods.  And I am grateful because I want to be left alone to observe, to feel, to hear, to smell.  I’m irritated by the intrusion.

I realize I haven’t seen a single bug crawling along the log on which I sit.  Surprising, because I usually see them everywhere on the path when I run.  And this is the woods! As if I willed it into existence, one appears, and it’s time for me to shift positions.  I take a seat on the ground near the sunflowers.  I can see the honeybees darting from one flower to the next.  But I don’t hear them making a sound.  Funny, I thought this was grass, but it feels more like straw.  Looking closer, I notice it covers the dead branches and twigs found below it.  It’s uncomfortable, and it’s time for me to go, so I walk toward the river.

If this post touches you somehow, please share it.  And thank you for reading.

 

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Wild sunflowers abound in the Bosque, not too far from where I sat

 

Comforting animals at the end: a plea for them

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thank you letters

 

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image from pixabay.com

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

 

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

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

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

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

Dear David,  

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

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

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

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

Love, Terri

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

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

Thank you for reading.

 

Hey there, is this thing on??

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from the botanical garden, taken by lil ‘ol me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By the way, if you’re shopping on Amazon, please do me a favor and click on my Amazon Affiliate link on the right hand side of this page.  It costs nothing to you, but I might make a few pennies for your having done so 🙂

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from the botanical garden, no filter added