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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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 🙂
As a veterinary receptionist, or as my official title says, “client service representative,” I take many phone calls every day from owners who have pets with major health problems, yet have limited funds with which to care for them. I would also count myself in their numbers, but luckily, I work for the animal hospital so I do get many services at a hefty discount and I am allowed to carry a balance. (However, they do charge 18% on an unpaid balance, so it’s not such a huge benefit in that sense.)
Many times per day, I refer callers to low-cost animal clinics, who, I am sure, get overrun with walk-ins or appointment requests. A lot of times, I think the problems can be easily prevented. Take, for example, vaccinations.
Many times, people don’t bother to get their animals vaccinated after they adopt them. It may be ignorance – they just assume that the dogs or cats have received everything that they will ever need to get, by the time they are adopted. (We definitely hear that from some.) Or, it may be that they think the vaccines are too costly, and they might not take the time to actually call around and get pricing info on them. If they did, they might find some low-cost vaccination clinics, or as is the case with my animal hospital, certain days of the week when the vaccines are given at half price. Yes, HALF PRICE! There are also places like Vet-Co where you can go to get vaccinations. Sure, they might not spend as much one-on-one time with your pet as they do at my hospital, but you are getting the bare bones care that is really NEEDED for your pets to stay healthy.
For dogs, these are the vaccines we generally suggest:
Distemper/Parvo (2 boosters and a third one that lasts for a year) starting when the animal is about 6-8 weeks of age. Boosters should be given about 3-4 weeks apart.
Bordatella (commonly known as the vax for “kennel cough”). Again, get boosters, and a third one that lasts for a year. (Some places may say it’s only good for a year – check with the vet to see how long the one lasts that your pet is receiving.)
Rabies!! Your pet can get a yearly vax as soon as they are 16 weeks of age. Once they have had the one year vax, when they come back the next year, you can get a three year vax.
If you are going to take your dog to a dog park, or the groomer, please please PLEASE get them vaccinated. I can’t tell you how many calls we get about dogs who have come down with kennel cough after they go to a grooming appointment.
Also, if you have a puppy, please don’t take them to a dog park or walk them on the sidewalks where a lot of other dogs venture, before they have had all their boosters. This is something i never knew growing up. Then again, as a kid, I never heard of parvo. Parvo is one of those disesases that is very easy for a young pup to contract and which can be SUPER expensive to treat if you have your pet hospitalized. Parvo is an illness that can be noticed by signs such as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea (usually with blood in it) and many times, it can be fatal. Pups with parvo end up not wanting to eat or drink, and if they do, they can’t keep it down, or inside them. (i.e., the diarrhea). Oh, and when they have the diarrhea, trust me, it smells something AWFUL. Parvo is something you want to catch early, because for young pups, it can be FATAL.
For cats, these are the vaccines we usually suggest (and require to board at our facility):
Rabies (once they are 16 weeks of age)
Many times, people think that if cats don’t get outside, they can’t contract something contagious from other cats, or contract rabies. Well, have you ever had a bat fly into your house? Because I have. And while I don’t intend to make people afraid of bats (because they are actually kind of cute in their own way), they are known for being carriers of rabies. Or, if your dog gets into a fight with another dog that has not been properly vaccinated, (and, especially if yours has not been also), it might be at risk of contracting rabies, and therefore, passing it onto your cats. So, at the very least, get them vaccinated for rabies.
Another good preventive health care step to take for your pets:
SPAY AND NEUTER!!!
I cannot stress this enough, and I KNOW my friends who volunteer at shelters or sanctuaries will back me up on this — there are SO MANY unwanted pets out there in the shelters. So many shelters, whether it be for lack of funds and/or lack of space, euthanize dogs and cats on a daily basis. And SO MUCH of it could be prevented!! It really could!! Spaying or neutering is also good for their health! It can prevent a lot of problems such as a higher risk of cancer and plyometria (which requires surgery, pronto), just to name a few.
While people may be shocked to hear what some hospitals charge for spaying and neutering, they should ask some questions when they are calling around for pricing:
Do you have any wellness plans that can bring down the overall cost to me or provide me with additional services that I can utilize all year long? (We do!)
Do you know of any low cost spay or neuter clinics when I can have my pet fixed (or “altered” as we call it) for a fraction of the full price?
Are there any shelters or sanctuaries that provide spay or neuter services to low-income individuals?
Do you base your pricing for services on the income of the pet owner? (While it’s rare, some do.)
Keep in mind, also, that some cities, such as Albuquerque, charge pet owners more per year to have an intact pet than a spayed or neutered pet. It’s part of the city’s way of encouraging owners to be responsible owners. So in addition to preventing a lot of unwanted animals and health problems for your pet, why not save yourself some bucks, and do the responsible thing by getting your pet spayed or neutered? 🙂
If you do end up having a health emergency, ask the hospital if they do take payment plans, but be prepared to hear them say “no.” Many don’t. But many may take something called Care Credit, which is a credit card you can use for your own health or that of your pet. While it is a lifeline to some, and can give them some breathing room because the hospital can offer to input certain promotion codes depending on the charge applied (for us, it’s 0 percent for 6 months if the charge is over $200), keep in mind the interest rate that kicks in after that promotional period is pretty hefty. As in 26.99 percent. Let me write that again. 26.99%. To anyone who applies for it or uses it at my hospital, I tell them to make sure that they either get it paid off or make sure that balance is transferred off the card by the time the promotional period ends to avoid that hit. Because it’s huge and who can afford to pay interest at that rate??!! I certainly can’t! (And please don’t think I am endorsing Care Credit, I just mention it because like I said, for some, it is a lifeline when they can’t bear to say goodbye to their pet, but can’t afford the hefty vet bill all at once and don’t have other means to pay for it, credit card or otherwise.)
If you have enjoyed this post, or think someone can benefit from it, please do share it and pass it on! And please drop me a line if you have a comment or suggestion.
And please note that all the opinions expressed herein are my own and not that of my hospital. I only speak for myself in my posts.
As of today, the plural of stuff is stuffs! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂
I had a conversation on Facebook over the weekend with someone who was in the first class of law students with whom I worked as a professional law librarian, while at Boston University Law School. That was a long 12 years ago, but he still remembers me and when I was typing back and forth with him, I could still hear that accent of his and see his big smile on his face. I remember thinking back then that he was so, so, so incredibly smart, and how in the world did I think I could help someone like him?!
Anyway, the point of this walk down my memory lane is this – he reminded me of how much I enjoyed teaching others and teaching them to teach themselves how to do things. How sometimes when a patron would come up to me, completely lost and not exactly know what they were looking for, and sometimes it was a subject I didn’t know much about myself, how I would fumble through with them until we’d finally hit on some piece of knowledge or thought and then we’d both run with it! (Not all interactions were like this, of course, but it was these types that made me glad to do my job.) He told me that I was so devoted to helping them learn, and a few other nice things, and said he thought it had been the opinion of many of his classmates as well. He also told me that time and kindness are two of the most precious resources you can give. I certainly gave them a lot of my time, and especially in the beginning of my career as a librarian, when I was learning so much myself every day, I remember thinking to myself how confused the foreign students must be, and how different it all must seem to them to learn about this whole other country’s set of laws. And how scary it can seem. So if they saw my manner towards them as kind, well, I am glad, because I wanted to treat them the same way I would have wanted to be treated if in their shoes.
One thing I don’t get to do much of these days is teach people. Also, because it’s a for-profit business, sometimes, I feel like I have to really hold my tongue from expressing my opinions to customers, such as on issues of declawing cats, docking tails or ears of dogs such as Doberman’s, breeding in general, and failing to spay/neuter your pets. Sometimes, I just want to scream at people, “What are you?? Stupid??!! Don’t you know all the various health issues with not spaying or neutering? And do you really think the world needs MORE unwanted animals? WHY in the hell are you going to a breeder when the shelters are FULL of homeless pets?!” (Anybody who works in animal issues that says that they never say these things or even think them to themselves is lying, trust me.) I also see the animals that come in that are being fostered after being removed from bad situations. It sickens me. Days like that, you catch yourself saying things like “I hate people” to yourself or under your breath.
However, there was one random day that a lady came in and asked about where she could get a German Shepherd dog, and we started talking. The librarian in me took over, and before I knew it, I had turned the computer monitor towards her and started showing her how to do some searches on sites like Petfinder.com, how to navigate the ABQ city website, and started asking her some more questions about what it was she was really looking for in a dog. As with some of my favorite interactions at the reference desk in the past, she took out a pen and paper and started writing stuff down so she could look on her own later on.
I’ve been doing some soul searching and thinking about what it is that makes me tick. What kind of movies or videos I like to watch, or podcasts I like to listen to, or blog posts I like to read, and then share with others because I find them inspiring. I have tried to figure out a common thread between them. In the past, I wrote this post about the movie called Opening Our Eyes. I think I need to go back and watch the movie again. I also wrote this post about the movie, I’m Fine, Thanksin which the filmmaker travels around the country and interviews people who want to make a change in their life, and then DO IT.
I may have talked about this on the blog before, and I thought about applying in the past, but of course, the issue of money is one that has stopped me from applying. But I’m starting to really feel this pull inside like this is the right thing to do. There is a Master’s degree program in Humane Education offered by the Institute for Humane Education. The degree is taught online and has a week long residency requirement in a beautiful part of Maine, not far from Acadia National Park. The program is accredited through Valapraiso University, and the program I would look to finish is a Masters in Arts in Humane Education, because if I’m going to educate, I would rather it be outside of a traditional classroom, and have it be through my daily work, either with a non-profit, or a civic engagement, or an animal shelter, etc. (They describe the MA in Humane Education as “designed for educators who wish to work outside of school settings, such as through community work, non-profits, arts activism, social services, law, and many other professions.“) I like the idea of being able to use the education in many fields.
Part of the program involves a master’s thesis. It can be creative, professional, and/or research-based. All of those sound right up my alley. If I could find a way to marry research with a realistic plan of how to bring my ideas into reality, I will feel successful. And hey, maybe it could even become that book I have been wanting to publish. 🙂
I am grateful to have friends to bounce these ideas off of. I swear to God, my friend Dan is kind of my grandmother reincarnated in the way that he kindly asks me probing questions to get me to think, and he reminds me that I’m always “go, go, GO!!” when I set my mind to something. He wants me to sit back and breathe and really think about things, and for that, I love him to death. I need someone like that in my life. Especially when I’m 44 and considering putting yet even more money into education without the 100% guarantee it will get me a job that will pay that tuition money back, and again, I’m 44! Putting myself through school again? Didn’t I just consider this with the vet tech program at CNM? These are all questions I really need to think about.
Dan has asked me to think about why I would want to do such a program, and here is my long-winded answer. Many of you who have read my blog for a long time, or who were gluttons for punishment, and decided to go back to the beginning and start and catch yourselves up (and I LOVE all of you!), know that I have these big dreams, or big ideas, and I want to do so much, both in every ordinary day of my life, and with my life as a whole! But one of the problems I know I suffer from is being able to focus. I can be like a raccoon that you throw something shiny in front of, and I’m already distracted.
My point is this:I need the structure and guidance of someone else who has felt the same way and knows how to narrow down the wish list, how to take all the grandiose ideas and ACTUALLY put them into concrete action. And I want to meet with others, both virtually, and in person, through the online class tools and at a practicum where I live, who feel the same way, who I can be made accountable to, and who can encourage me when I get discouraged along the way. And I can learn how to integrate some of my ideas, because really, a lot of my concerns are interconnected: animal protection, environmental protection, etc. You can’t really look at things in a vacuum anymore. I look back at these earlier posts of mine and know now that figuring out how to focus my energies and integrate my ideas, has been my problem.
I also want to be like some of the students you see profiled on this page. Some of the students who really caught my eye were involved in issues related to animals:
When I die, I don’t need to have been known for winning a Nobel Prize or having been someone like Bill Gates, or Mother Theresa. I just want to have left this world in a little bit better place than it was when I entered it, and for some people to think of me and think “You know? Terri was all right. She did some good stuffs!”
What kind of good stuffs have you seen being done around you or do you want to achieve in your life?
Okay, so as soon as you read this post, I want you to RUN, and I mean RUN, not walk, over to my friend Becky’s blog, Interstellar Orchard. She is an amazing writer, (and person too!), and she recently wrote a post on What Kills Dreams. As I read it, I was nodding my head like yep, yep, yep, and yep!! All so true! Becky is a wonderful example of what determination and guts and practical planning can combine to create – a life whereby she lives the way she wants to, the hell with what everyone else thinks!
The thing that I hear the most from people is about fear. When I first shared my dream with folks about leaving my librarian job at Harvard, it was a lot of their own fears projected onto me in the form of their worrying about me and whether I could make it. Would it be too big of a change? Could I handle it financially? Why would I want to leave something so stable? Something so high paying and that I went to school for, for MANY years and spent so much money on?? (Yeah, I’ll be real and admit that that last part still weighs on me some days, more than I’d like.)
Another fear I had (and still have, although to a lesser extent) is the fear of isolation when taking such a big step away from a life that you have taken years to cultivate. It was actually this fear of mine that prompted this video by my good friend Dan of the Wander Dano channel on YouTube:
I admit to still thinking of wanting to do the nomadic life like he does for part of each year, but part of what keeps me from doing it is the fear of isolation or loneliness. Even though I’m usually an outgoing person, to still always be on your own, without a set of good friends physically close by, always at the ready to catch you and lift you up, it can still seem a bit scary to me.
One thing I heard a lot from my mom while growing up was “you can do anything you put your mind to.” From my grandmother, I would hear my name repeated, “Terri, Terri, Terri….. don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. One step at a time. ” Meaning: CALM DOWN and BREATHE. (I had a tendency back then to sometimes take a small problem and get myself all worked up.) These days, when I can see myself starting to act that way, I try to ask myself if it would be a problem I would be concerned with a year into the future. More often than not, the answer is “no.”
I am very grateful today to have had two women in my life that were strong and showed me that I could be the same. Neither ever felt like they were successful, but they were good at raising grandchildren and children. None of us ended up on drugs or addicted to alcohol and I think we’re contributing members of society in one way or another. My brother with his music and innate running and coaching abilities, my sister with her abilities to educate kids and overall be a great mom, and me, well, I guess with my love of animals and the ones whose lives I have saved either by adopting them myself, or helping them to get adopted.
I used to be so afraid of what others thought of me. I really did. Then I grew up. (I just wish it had happened before I hit my mid-30s.) I used to always think everyone was smarter than me (a lot of people still are, but I don’t take what everyone else tries to tell me as the gospel truth to which I should always adhere, and I try to keep my own mind’s opinion on things, while still realizing there is stuff out there for me to learn.
Realize that if you chase your dreams, you ARE going to make mistakes. You WILL. But it’s how you react to them and learn from them that is important. Looking back, I see lots of mistakes I’ve even made over the past two years, whether it be through dating, or choosing to live in an RV thinking it would be long term, and only lasting for 8 months, or thinking living in a small town would be the antidote to the stresses of big city life for so many years. I made mistakes by moving into an apartment in AZ that was too expensive for me to sustain, which kept me locked into a position at work that I didn’t feel suited for, but the salary was enough to keep me going.
Realize (and I know this is a cliche, but it’s very true) that it really IS the JOURNEY and not always the destination that matters. When I first thought of moving out of Boston, I was so focused on the WHERE (ask my long-suffering friend Dan — he’ll start bobbing his head up and down like crazy.) Having now lived in three towns/cities in 2 years, and in 6 locations over that short period of time (if you include the trailer park in Kanab, the employee campground at Lake Powell, the two studios in Greenehaven, the studio I moved to in ABQ, and the house/apartment I find myself in now in ABQ), I can now say that the location isn’t as important as I thought it once was. Granted, location is somewhat important as it can determine the type of climate you live in. I now think it’s a combination of what you are doing with your life in that location. I may not be solving world peace every day here in ABQ, but I like to think I am enriching the lives of at least a few others I come into contact with every day.
And maybe, just maybe, I’m inspiring a few others to make small, incremental changes every day in order to help them chase their dreams. Even if it’s just inspiring someone to write their dreams down on paper. Or to go volunteer at an animal shelter one day, or to walk some dogs that desperately need the attention. Or to wake up that little bit earlier every morning to get up and do a workout or go for a run. Or to just pull out their computer and do a little bit of research every day into other locations, or jobs that could make them feel happier with their life.
If you’re feeling “stuck” in the life you currently lead (as I hear from a lot of people), then just try one thing, one small thing, every day. Nothing is worse than feeling stuck in your life but not doing anything to change it.
For me, what kept (and still does keep) my dreams alive is when I get out of my head and write them down. Seeing them in black and white, on real paper, or writing here on this blog. It’s a practice of admitting things, putting them out there in the universe, for just yourself (or in my case, a few others), to see.
And again, as I said, check out Becky’s blog post on what kills dreams. She decided her life in Wisconsin and then South Carolina wasn’t exactly right, so she set out to change that. She bought a Casita and a truck to pull it with, and then she traveled and did seasonal work. Now, she’s a writer, and only does seasonal work for part of the year. The rest of her time, she’s inspiring others to live their lives the way THEY want to, not by the way that conventional society would probably prefer.
What kind of dreams do you have? What keeps you from fulfilling them? What little action could you take today to move one step closer to chasing them? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Yesterday was July 4th, Independence Day! I know a few more active duty folks this year, and living so close to an air force base, I am reminded of the sacrifices that a lot of folks do every day so that the rest of us can live our lives out the way we want to. (Even if for some of us, that means living the “American dream” even if it makes them unhappy. The point is we get to choose what our lives look like.) So to those of you currently serving, or who have served, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
After working an 11 hour day on Monday and facing a 10+ hour today, I decided to do something for myself yesterday morning, and go for a run in the Bosque. Being at such a high altitude, and an arid climate, ABQ can have some wide temperature fluctuations every day. I try to do my runs around 6 or 7 because usually the temps are in the 60s, but it’s a dry air, so it’s perfect running weather in my opinion. And yesterday was no exception.
The road near the Bosque was closed for an “event” and it turns out it was a road race!! It’s funny but part of me misses running races, and part of me doesn’t. For one thing, they can really add up financially, and I am definitely not the speedster I used to be. It could be the altitude slowing me down, or my age, or just that my focus has shifted from always wanting to go faster, faster, faster, to now focusing on how I feel when I’m out there on a run. It used to be about competition with others and myself. It’s not anymore (and in fact, I find that running with my Garmin now stresses me out as I’m looking at the distance run, and the pace is so much slower than it used to be that I start to feel down on myself, and it takes the joy out of it.)
When I found myself breathing too heavily yesterday and stopped for a quick walk to catch my breath, I caught myself from going down that negative pathway I used to go, whereby I would berate myself or feel discouraged for having to “stop” and walk. Instead, I said aloud (I really did, and yes, I can be such a dork at times), “That’s not what today’s run is about. Today is about feeling good, enjoying nature, and having this time to myself.” And you know what? Talking aloud to yourself can really help sometimes. I found myself smiling. And then I picked up the running again.
Yesterday was unique in that normally I run with music (my phone strapped to my arm but no headphones, so I can hear if bikers come up behind me.) Well, yesterday, I mistakenly left the armband at home. So it was running with just the thoughts in my head and the sounds of the breeze rippling through the trees around me, and birds flying in the air, with the occasional greeting of “good morning” or “Happy Fourth of July” when I infrequently saw someone else on the trails. I understood what others have meant when they’ve said that sometimes running without music can be a meditative experience. It’s just you, your body and your thoughts.
Yesterday, I thought of all the times I’ve said I WANT to do something. Like, I WANT to write more. Or I WANT to do more transcription work and have more money to pay off bills at the end of the month. Or I WANT to simplify my life even more.
You know what? You can WANT or desire things all you want, but until you put your money where your mouth is, that’s all IT is, a THOUGHT. I’ve always been so afraid to write and try to get paid for it. I look at other published works (either self-published or traditional) and think “THIS someone got paid for?” or “this person decided to do something and did it, and here I’m paying money for it.” I COULD DO THAT if only I could get over myself and my self-doubt. I need to stop THINKING and start DOING.
I was also thinking, I like my job, but it’s not something I want to do forever. There are certain parts of it that I love – getting to see some of the cute dogs and cats, (and yes, even avians or funny reptiles like bearded dragons), but some of it can be really monotonous too, like running credit cards through the machine over and over again. I do feel like I’m good in the euthanasia situations that we face just about every day, and think I do a good job with comforting the owners, or at the very least, making the situation at least a little less horrible for them. And yes, I’m seeing animals hands-on.
But I’m also seeing that so much of it is a business. So many times I answer the phone and hear someone in tears or close to it, about their pet, and hear them say that they can’t afford the treatment that they know their pet needs. Or I’m ringing up credit cards for several hundred dollars or even more. And after a while, it’s like when I worked at a bank, you don’t see the numbers as real money. It’s just another figure. And then I think to myself, if I didn’t work here and didn’t get the huge employee discount I do have, I would be one of those people on the phone, in tears, wondering how to pay for their care and still afford rent and food for that month. In a city like ABQ, where people don’t make a lot, it’s a call I hear way too often.
I have a brain and I want to use it more. Many of you might remember that I first moved to ABQ because I wanted to be a vet tech. After working in an animal hospital now for about 7 months or so, I don’t think so, anymore. I think the pace at my hospital is very stressful for a lot of the techs and employees (we see emergency cases all day and all night long), and I’ve heard some of the animals crying back in treatment or in ICU and the techs have to deal with that much more up close and personal than I do. They’re the ones restraining the animal who is scared or confused or hurt, or holding the oxygen hose over its mouth to try and stabilize it. I see the stress on their faces and the toll it takes.
It could just be that it’s the “hospital” side of things that has made me change my mind on being a tech. Working on the sanctuary side of things is a very different aspect to animal care. You have a different mission in mind. I’m still figuring these differences out in my mind and learning what makes me tick when it comes to animals and creating my life (financial and otherwise) around them.
I always have so many plans each day as to what I want to get done – I want to exercise, and write, and do more freelance work, and some days I’m super motivated, and then some nights I get home, and am so mentally exhausted that I just sit and stare at the wall. Or pet my own babies and then go to sleep.
Being in a hospital setting, even one with animals, can be very stressful. People can be short with one another, and I try to remind myself on a daily basis, and sometimes several times during the day, not to take the shortness or abruptness of others’ attitudes personally. But I’ll be honest. I am human, and sometimes I get pissed off. Luckily, I now have a roommate who I came home and vented to the other night. (Yep, I’ve got an air mattress in the living room and things seem to be working out well so far. I’ve set up the mattress so it doubles as a couch.) It is a guy roommate and he could tell just by the way I walked in the door that I needed some down time and quite frankly, needed to bitch about some things.
So today when I go into work, the day after the Fourth of July, when I am sure we will be slammed with folks picking up their fur babies from boarding, or folks calling to see if someone has found their pet who escaped last night, freaked out from fireworks, and having our busiest vet on the schedule, and just the usual amount of walk-ins, I will try to remind myself to take a moment and breathe. Don’t take the stress that others are pouring out and onto me, personally. Realize that not everyone has the same coping skills that I have tried to hone over the past few years. Realize it’s a job. And that yes, I did give up my past life to take on these new roles willingly, and realize it’s not going to be where I spend the rest of my life. And as one of my coworkers once said to me, “be like a duck, and let it all wash over you.”
And remember, I can come home. I do have a roof over my head. I can hug my furballs. I can pull out this laptop and write here or in my personal journal. I can take control of my finances and look for second and third jobs (the paper route didn’t work out, I will discuss that in a later post). And use my skills and smarts to change my life if I don’t like the direction in which it’s going. If I’ve learned nothing else over the past few years, it’s that I CAN make changes, I don’t have to stay stuck in one place, or in one job, or in a role that I think others perceive I should be doing.
I realize this post might seem to have been quite a ramble, but it’s also been quite the therapeutic one for me. Hopefully, there’s a point in it that can provide someone else reading it, with some clarity. For me, I’m glad to have gotten up early to complete it, and to now still have time to get some transcription done, or to complete my profile on flexjobs so I can look for some more side work to fill in the gaps.
I hope that you will have a good day after the fourth, and as always, to the very few of you out there still reading, thank you for doing so. 🙂
I love a particular podcast called Budgets and Cents. One of their recent episodes talked about their money mindsets, and it was interesting to hear how their mindsets had reversed over the past year.
One mindset that a lot of us have is one of scarcity. It’s one that I have fallen victim to off and on in my life. Recently, I found myself going down that road, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it at all. I’m one of those individuals who feel that whatever energy you put out into the universe will affect the situations and individuals who come into your life. So I knew I needed to make a change. I really think you can change your life or your circumstances if you put your mind to it.
When I was first separated from my marriage, there was a day that it became very clear to me that my outlook on life was hugely important to my everyday life. I could choose to be sad and miserable and hate myself every day or I could choose to wake up in the morning and say to myself, “Today is going to be better than yesterday. Even if it’s just one small thing, that counts.”
So, when I found myself feeling very stressed about my financials recently, I decided to take a deep breath. Then I started to ask myself what I could do to change that. I thought of the transcription work I’ve already done over the past several months and started to look into other companies that are hiring, to supplement the income I make from my first priority company. (It’s also run by a friend, so I can’t and won’t let her down.)
I also looked into Flexjobs, and just signed up today for a membership. It costs $49.95 for the year, but they also offer promo codes, so I got 30% off of my first-year membership with them. I like that the jobs and employers are vetted by real, live humans and not a computer! At the very least, I will know that the jobs I am applying to are real and not scams. The way I look at it, paying $3-4/month in order to have the opportunity to obtain flexible side-hustle work is a very low fee to pay. Even if I only get one job off of there, I think it will pay for itself. That’s my attitude and I’m sticking to it!
As soon as I changed my attitude, I heard good news from my friend who asks me to do transcription jobs. It looks like there will be a good amount of work coming my way, very soon, and I can’t wait. I like being needed and knowing that my efforts are helping someone else out. Plus, the work is generally pretty interesting.
And finally, a friend of mine has had a delivery route with the Albuquerque Journal for several years. I’m going to ride along on a route tomorrow and see what I think, if I can handle it. It would involve getting up early every morning (usually papers have to be delivered by 6 a.m. during the week), but Hello! That’s something I already do, get up early! At least this way, I could get paid for it. I would be paid as a 1099 contractor, so I know I would need to hold money back for taxes. But it would still allow me to pay off my debts very quickly and then start putting money aside for things like travel, etc.
A good friend of mine was concerned I was losing sight of my goals by entertaining this idea. But I’m not. Rather, it will help me stay on board with those goals. My day job really just covers the day to day expenses. If I want to get ahead, I have to sacrifice in some places, and in this case, the sacrifice will be in time. But it will be worth it. I will pay off my credit cards, then pay off my vet bill at my employer, and then pay off my car. I really want the car paid off before I reach 100K miles. And the best part about it? I will be able to do that work and be productive before most people even get up in the morning and have their first cup of coffee. And you know what? A lot of people are in the same boat as me, having to work more than one job. I know some of you readers have done this before.
One thing my mom taught me is a good work ethic. She taught me to do whatever you need to do to get things done and take care of yourself. And that’s what I am going to do. By the way, if you like to listen to podcasts like I do, there is a good one called His and Her Money. They had a recent episode called 3 Words That Will Help You Get Out of Debt Faster. And those words are Whatever. It. Takes.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go take a few skills tests for Flexjobs to add to my skills already listed on my resume. 🙂 And snuggle with a few furry ones, because, as you know, they are the reason for the changes in my life I’ve undertaken over the past few years. ❤
This song speaks to me a lot – read on and you will see why.
I was just at my brother’s wedding in Florida this past weekend. So many of his friends, many of which I know from his being in grade school and college, said to me that they were impressed at how I did something that most people just talk or think about doing, and don’t actually go through with it, and that is, a major change in life. While this made me feel good, it doesn’t banish all doubts from my mind. Sitting there and seeing so many people who seem to have it all together, many younger than me, and making MUCH more money than me. People able to afford to go on vacation when they want. And remembering, I used to be one of them. It does make you question whether some of your choices have been the right ones. Just because I made such a huge life decision a few years ago, doesn’t change the questions that even I ask myself sometimes.
When people found out I worked at a veterinary hospital, many assumed I was either a veterinarian or a vet tech. And even though I am not ashamed of what I do, because I think I’m very good at bridging the gap between animal skills and social skills, I felt like once I told them I was a veterinary receptionist, that was the end of the conversation, or like they didn’t know how to respond to that. Like I’m not living up to what my schooling would allow me to do. I got the impression that it didn’t really impress that many people. But I also found that regarding many of those people, I didn’t really care what they thought. If I had listened to all the naysayers a few years ago, all those who tried to project their fees upon me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’d still be at Harvard, still doing the same job I had done for years, maybe learning a little bit more. But always wondering, “what if? What if I wasn’t too scared to go out and try something new?” I had already had those feelings about other decisions, like “what if I hadn’t gone to law school? What if I had tried to get a career as a writer or in publishing back when I was just out of college? Why did I think my only choices were lawyer or teacher?”
I made these changes over the past few years, because I was sick and tired of looking back and wondering “what if?” I didn’t want to live for many more years and still have all those regrets.
So maybe yes, I’m not using all that schooling that I am STILL paying for (and WILL be FOREVER), but when I talk to people going through the tough decision to euthanize their pet, and I can get them to smile as they reminisce about them, or just help that situation be a smidgen less painful, I feel like right now, I’m doing what i need to be doing. I don’t want to do it forever, though. But I do know that right now, my resume will benefit from my being in one place for at least a year. (I can’t believe I’ve been there for almost 6 months already!) I’ll figure out my next step. I just have to trust that I will know what’s the right decision for me to make, when the time presents itself.
The good thing about my company is that it does have hospitals all across the country and in six provinces of Canada. And my job is one that I can “shut off” when I go home for the day. That gives me time to work on other projects. My mom brought an article ripped out of a magazine for me to read (she’s a mom, it’s what they do. Technology is not her thing.) It was about puppy mills. Although I already know a lot about them, it still struck me. Maybe I am not doing all I can do to further my passion. Maybe I should take some of my God-given talents or skills and use them in other ways than what I currently do. Find other ways to help out animals, like through writing.
Now, I put this thought into words here on this blog, but I can tell you that in the past, reading about how freelance writers get their jobs, it scared the crap out of me. I might feel like I can write well enough on my blog, but no one is paying me to write here. And if there is only one thing that I learned from working at the Big Red H, it’s that there is a wealth of information out there and it can be hard to sift through and get to the point where you truly feel like you have exhausted all the resources at your disposal.
When I thought of becoming a writer a few years ago, I remember how I started to subscribe to all of these magazines that taught you how to write. And then I read through all these books that talked about how to “hone your craft.” By the time you’re done reading through all of it, it can be pretty damn scary. You can feel like a total failure before you even get started. I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt or feels that way.
And that’s not the only thing that I have doubts about sometimes. I wonder if I am doing the best by my animals. One of my cats (my diva, Max) can’t stand Morgan, and with Morgan claiming the bed every night, his affection for her won’t grow. Callie seems afraid of her a lot but is getting better. HoneyBun tolerates her but lately not as much. Thank God for Snuggles, who entertains her and plays with her a lot. I’m just worried she is not getting enough exercise for her breed, and like I’m not challenging her brain enough. Cattle dogs/heelers are working dogs and high energy. I do try to take her on regular walks, but sometimes that doesn’t happen, and then she’s running around in the backyard like a dog with a serious case of ADHD, barking at every single bird she sees, tongue hanging out of her mouth, as she cocks her head up at them. (I have to admit, she does look like she’s smiling.)
Am I arrogant to think that only I can give them the lives they deserve? A man came into my hospital last week, and after a few days, he had to euthanize his dog, one that you could see he clearly loved very much. When he was leaving, he said, “if you know someone with a heeler, let me know.” And I talked to him about Morgan, wondering if maybe she would be better off with him. He’s retired. He has the funds to take care of her (his dog’s stay in our ICU wasn’t cheap.) He also has a yard, and she wouldn’t be in a crate all day. Would she be better off? I know she loves me. And I know how much I love to sleep at night feeling her next to me. She makes me feel safe. I know that no one will break into this house without her alerting me to their presence. (Have I mentioned the high crime rate in ABQ on this blog before?)
If I were to give up Morgan to someone else, I think of how guilty I would feel. How I would feel like I was breaking a promise to Morgan. You see, when I adopted her, I told her she had a home with me. I’ve always adopted animals with the eye to keeping them for the rest of their lives. So maybe I just need to spend some more time working with her, challenging her brain, and make sure I spend enough time with each of them.
But I also want to keep up with my own workouts and running. They help me to push the doubts away. My runs give me some of my best thinking moments. So then I tell myself, I just need to prioritize differently and ensure I have enough time for everything I want and need to do in a day. Maybe sleep a little less. And then I wonder if it’s possible to do all that. Again, doubts.
But you know what? Doubts get you nowhere. They keep you locked in place. And God knows, I felt locked in one place for so many years. Trapped by my own insecurities and the need for stability. Trapped by the fear of failing.
“Don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled on.” Really listen to the words of that song. Because it won’t be easy. And it won’t be boring. But you will find out a lot of things about yourself. And hope that you never stop doing so.
As always, thanks for reading. Please drop me a comment below if you have ever had doubts that you’ve had to face, and how you did so. And thank you.
As you can tell from the title of my post, there is a new family member. His name is Snuggles, and I think little Osito had a hand in his making his way to me. Allow me to explain.
You know from reading my last post that I lost my little Osito a few weeks ago. Well, the following day, my friend Elaine’s dog, Annie, was crying and crying at the front window in her house, and wouldn’t stop until Elaine went to see what was amiss. She looked outside and saw this little brown dog on her front lawn and he was running from one neighbor’s house to another. A lady was walking by and helped her to catch him.
Upon closer look, Elaine could see that he had some sort of injury to the right side of his face. His jaw was misaligned, and one of his eyes appeared to be much smaller than the other, or maybe that’s just because it was more sunk into his head than the left side. So basically, it looked like he suffered a major trauma to that side of his face at one point. Then she looked down to his feet and saw that his toenails were so long, they had curled under his feet and he was essentially walking on them. That couldn’t have been comfortable for him.
She took him to her vet, located nearby and asked them to see if he had a microchip. He didn’t. They suggested she take him to AWD (Animal Welfare Department) but also said that he would likely be put down there. So she called me and asked if my hospital could do that kind of work that he might need. We do. So she brought him down to me, and I had a doc examine him, who surmised that he had had a broken jaw at one point. However, it wasn’t causing him any pain at this point, you could touch it and he would never cry out. So clearly, it was an old injury, and one that he had learned to deal with. I told some of my coworkers that I would take him home that night and see how he did with the herd, and see what I thought to do in the morning.
Well, you all know where this is leading. The following morning, I was like “no way in hell am I taking this little guy to a shelter. I don’t know how i will afford to pay for his care, but he’s staying with me.”
Flash forward to last week. He has all of his vaccinations, and he IS microchipped. He has a collar with his and my names on it, and my phone number. He has now been neutered. He had a dental surgery that removed three of his smaller teeth and a canine tooth that was hanging out of his mouth like a snaggle tooth. This way, when he eats, he doesn’t have a tooth pushing up into the roof of his mouth, since it is so misaligned.
The dental vet thought that he might be 9 to 11 years old. That’s older than was initially thought, but it makes sense based on his energy level and the grey hair I see under his chin.
He has fit into the family quite easily. Morgan loves to play with him, and he pays no mind to the cats. He weighs about 12 pounds, so he’s what we call a chi-weenie (part Chihuahua and part mini-Dachsund (or weiner dogs as I like to call them.)
He loves loves loves to be snuggled, as his name suggests. He doesn’t bark much and has a great demeanor. Very loving. When he wants to be picked up, he gets up on his hind legs and rests his front paws on knee. He loves to sleep on the bed and on one of my living room chairs. And usually, it’s with all four feet up in the air while he lies on his back. You can tell by that pose, he’s happy and comfortable where he is.
What’s unusual about this story is that Elaine’s dog, Annie, doesn’t usually whine and cry like she did that day. She usually barks, if anything, at people passing by.
Also, his temperment is so much like Osito’s, I definitely think that he was a gift she sent to me. He loves to sleep under the covers just like she did. He is perfectly content to just sit beside me on the chair while I’m reading or doing some transcription. And the fact that he is another senior makes me love him all the more.
I may not have been planning on getting another animal so soon, but I’m glad he found me. Thank you, Baby O, and Annie for being the conduit that day and getting your mom involved. ❤ Osito can never be replaced, but I’m finding a different part of my heart for this little one to occupy.
Have a great day everyone!! And as always, thanks for reading!
It’s been a while since I’ve written, sorry about that. I’ve moved to a new apartment that has a yard, and I’ve had a lot of transcription work to do in my free time, so there hasn’t ‘been much time to write.
Also, as the title of my post shows, I lost my little Osito. Last week, it was a “shit show” as we call it sometimes at work – three euthanasias all pretty much at the same time. My hospital only has two visiting rooms, set up to look like a living room of sorts, where parents can say a final goodbye to their loved furballs. Then I came home. I went outside with Morgan for a few minutes, to the back yard, as I always do. When I came in, I said aloud, “Okay, where’s little Osito?” It’s normal for her to sometimes sleep through my initial entrance, but usually she wakes up by the time Morgan and I come back in. I looked at all of her various beds spread out around the kitchen and the bedroom and didn’t see her, which started to get me worried. I then went over to her favorite bed area, and that’s when I saw her. She was clearly dead.
Words can’t describe very well how I felt. This little girl has been a major love in my life for the past four years. I adopted her when she was 12, thinking I might have only 2 years or so left with her, and then I learned chihuahuas can live til about 18 or 20, sometimes. I hoped she would be one of those rare exceptions and make it to 20, or hey, even live forever. One can dream, right? She was turning 16 this year.
During the past few weeks, I had noticed she was squatting a lot more and it seemed like not much urine was coming out. I also noticed she was having less control of her bladder. Whereas before she might have tried to wake me up at night to put her down from the bed onto her pee pads, it seemed like she was just peeing in her sleep, and then I’d wake up to find both of us lying in it. Yep, eew. Not good.
So I took her to my vet and she diagnosed a urinary tract infection, and did some blood work. Her kidney numbers were a bit elevated, and so were her white blood cell counts. I expected the higher level of white blood cells, since her body was fighting an infection. But we weren’t sure if the kidney disease was recent, or something that had been underlying for a while. My vet prescribed Clavamox, an antibiotic that I could give in liquid form, since her teeth are pretty much, well, she had one. I think.
Osito normally loved her sleep, but I’d been noticing lately that she seemed to sleep even more. I ascribed some of it to her lack of appetite from the antibiotics. So we tried to give her an appetite stimulant. It was only 1/4 of what was already a very small tablet, but when your dog has basically no teeth, it can be hard for her to “gum” a pill pocket and get the pill that way, and if i just put it into her food, she would lick around it.
So I started giving her Royal Canin’s Recovery food on Friday night, heated up. She seemed to really like it, and it probably helped that she hadn’t had a pill in about 24 hours. My vet also gave me Covenia, which I could give to Osito in injection form, having learned how to do Sub Q stuff when I was an animal caregiver at Best Friends. That would eliminate the need for oral meds, or so we hoped.
Earlier last week, I had taken Morgan for a walk to one of the Open Spaces that is located close to the Rio Grande. I carried Osito in my “Outward Hound” pouch and she seemed to enjoy the walk. Well, until the wind kicked up, and it started to drizzle a bit, and then I was partly running back toward the car, so she was jostled around a bit.
Last weekend, on Saturday, we had a really sunny day. So I took her along with me and Morgan on our walk, again in her carry pouch. She had so much sun on her face, which I know she always loved. She was content to be carried around. I remember wondering how many other walks like this I would be able to have with her. Maybe a part of me suspected what was coming.
The next morning, she ate ravenously from the heated up food, and then she fell asleep on my lap, her belly full with good food. I’ve always loved those moments, looking down at her and knowing she trusts me enough to allow herself to be at her most vulnerable around me. One of the best feelings I’ve been fortunate to have in my life is to look around the room, see all of my animals with one glance, and know that they feel safe and content. Maybe that’s how human parents feel. I’ll never know for sure, but for me, it’s enough. Some of us just weren’t meant to be parents to humans, only pets.
I just always wish I had been able to be with her at the end. To hold her and kiss her and let her know how much she was loved, and still is. But some suspect that she may have waited for me to not be around, and spared me that pain. All I know is, it still hurt. And does now.
I ran Osito back to the hospital where I work, and she will be privately cremated, which means I will have her ashes back shortly. I picked out an urn that is in the shape of a heart, and have paid to have her paws impressed into clay. The words “My Little Baby O” will also be on that plaque.
Osito will join Bonkers and Sebastian, Chloe, and my paw print of Daisy (my foster dog from Best Friends), and my picture of Clara in their place of honor. (Clara was buried out behind the house I used to share with my now ex-husband. My parakeet was also buried out back.) They are always close by me that way, physically, and in spirit. I don’t think your animals ever leave you, honestly. For Osito, I know that is especially true, as I will explain in my next post.
Osito, before you, I never understood why people could love little dogs like they do. Now, I totally get it. You were the main inspiration behind my leaving my job in Harvard to work with animals. You changed my life.
You are missed, more than you could ever know. I love you, baby girl.