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!!

No Matter How Old You Are, You’re Still Someone’s Baby

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These two will always be my babies, even though they are 14. (Bonkers and Osito)

I talked to my mom last night on the phone. As usual, she worried about me “freezing to death” in this RV of mine. No matter how many times I have told her I am ok, I have lots of warm blankets, and the animals to curl up with at night, plus two space heaters, she still worries. She worries about the heat and the money situation. She’s a mom. I’m 43, and she’s turning 77 this year, but I’m still her middle child.

After I hung up the phone, I realized I should have said to her, “Mom, don’t worry about me. You taught me right.” We didn’t have a lot growing up, and she ended up cleaning houses after my parents split, to make ends meet and also to be home when we got home from school. But what she taught me is that there is always a way to make things work. I may not make a lot of money right now, and it does seem frustrating when I figure out my bills for the next pay period and see “wow, I’ve got like 120 to make it through including my food and gas” but then I remind myself, it’s doable. I don’t need a lot. And I only have that small amount because I am insisting on putting some money into savings every month. I refuse to live, as they say “paycheck to paycheck.” It is very, very important to me to have a cushion. If there’s one thing I have learned over the past several years, it’s that I never EVER want to go back to that feeling of having pretty much nothing in the bank and a maxed out credit card to boot.

When I tell people that I think my fifth wheel is too big for me and my fur family, you should see the looks I get from some people. It’s quite clear that they think I’m insane. But what I see is a big trailer that has high ceilings, which, while I love their sense of openness, cost more to heat, and cool. What I see is that in the evenings, after I eat my dinner, we all hang out together in the bedroom portion of the fifth wheel (in my case, it’s a front bedroom so it would be the part of the trailer that would be hanging over the bed of the truck, if there was one attached.) We all hang out on my cozy bed, with a space heater cranking away, and either a good book or a TV show or something on netflix to keep us comfy. They tend to gather close to me, and I feel very loved. When I wake up in the morning, they are usually all still there.

So, we don’t need all this space. I don’t need the big closet that spans the width of my trailer. I have two dresses I brought with me from Boston, and have yet to wear them. None of my clothes need to be ironed. (In fact, I don’t even own one and plan on never needing one again.) I could fold them all and put them in bins and be just fine, which would most likely be the case in a smaller RV.)  My animals are all seniors (two turn 15 this year) so they don’t have all the crazy energy of young kittens and puppies. They like to be warm and to rest. (As I write this, one is sitting on my lap with his head on the table – if he could reach the computer keyboard to rest it there, trust me, he would.)

Making a lot less money than I ever have before in my life, I realize now what is important to me. The beauty of the natural world around me, good friends, the love of my animals, a great book to keep me company (currently reading Man’s Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl, which was  a gift from someone and I highly recommend it). Food that allows me to retain my health. Exercise to keep myself strong. Having my priorities straight for my life and trying to evade the negativity of others and the world when it rears its ugly head. Making sure I have enough food to feed myself and my animals. Knowing I will see family in just less than two weeks when my brother embarks on yes, another 100 mile race, and when my sister will be coming to visit in February. It’s these things I have been trying to focus on, rather than what I don’t have.

And yes, Mom, not freezing to death in the winter. 🙂

What do you focus on to ground yourself in this life?

As always, thank you for reading.

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Alone…. But Surrounded by Beauty

Have you ever felt alone, while you’re in a crowd? I have, and I’m sure I’m not alone (no pun intended), in this.

Last weekend, I just felt the need to get out of town. I knew on Sunday the weather would be fine, but on Monday (my second weekend day), the weather would turn to crap with a mix of snow and rain. So, if I was going to get out of Dodge, I had to do it that day.

I have really missed being around a decent-sized body of water. Back east, I had a reservoir out back behind my apartment building, and even while I was there, I knew how much it could ground me, being able to walk near it or see it every day. There were days I was very stressed out when I came home from work, and a short walk outside with little Osito, watching the waves while she did her business and sniffed every leaf she could find on the ground, and I would feel a lot better.

Lone Rock in the distance. My friend Jason tells me that the water is a few hundred feet deep out there.
Lone Rock in the distance. My friend Jason tells me that the water is a few hundred feet deep out there.

So, I decided to go to Page, AZ – specifically, Lake Powell. I’ve posted pics of Lone Rock Beach before, but every time you go, it  looks a bit different. The changing light makes the lake look new  each time I go, and as the minutes tick by during the day, it changes as well. It’s one of those places I can breathe. And the other day, it was just so amazingly quiet. It’s colder here now, so there were no boats out on the water (other than in the marina). I had said to my friend Dan that day, I needed to hear some waves. There were no waves that day, as you can tell from the photos. The water was completely still.

While I was at Lone Rock, there were only a few other vehicles there. It was weird to be there and not see any RVs parked along the shore. (You can dry camp overnight there, I guess, however, only during certain times of the year. You need to pay for a camping permit with the NPS, if you are going to be there between the hours of 8 pm and 6 am.)  It’s weird, the things that you associate at times like that. I saw a couple with their dogs playing on the beach, running around and sniffing everywhere. It brought me back in my mind to a weekend trip I had taken once to Cape Cod when I was married. I remember watching my (then) husband play on the beach with our yellow lab, Ruthie, and remembered taking  a photo of him while he was taking a photo of the sunset. It’s at times like these that I have missed having someone in my life. Someone to share quiet moments with. Don’t get me wrong – I’m ok with being single, and having the freedom that comes with that. But sometimes it would be nice to have someone again.

Wahweap Marina at Lake Powell
Wahweap Marina at Lake Powell

I sat near the marina that day for a while and just marveled at all the boats still in the water, in January. Back east, that would not have been the case, as many times even parts of the Boston Harbor would freeze up. I just listened to what I thought were generators humming – not sure. It was so quiet there, that the sound of just two people walking on the dock could be heard quite far away. I saw a boat named “My Viagra” and it really cracked me up. I remember thinking “Compensate much, dude?” 🙂   Being near the marina reminded me of many trips I’ve taken with my mom on vacations over the years. Anytime we were near a place with a marina, we liked to go and sit and watch the boats come in and out. We used to look at the bigger boats/yachts and think of what those people did for work to be able to afford them. (I know, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it, lol.) There was something with this visit that I noticed, though, that I had not seen at a lot of other marinas back east. So many of the boats had water slides coming off of the back end. I guess that’s just one difference between the northeast and the southwest. The water is usually so cold in the northeast (especially if we are talking the Atlantic Ocean) that you don’t really spend a ton of time in the water. It’s refreshing to go into it once, but you get in and get out. At least I did!

Before I hit the marina, though, I tried (again, unsuccessfully) to take a tour of the Glen Canyon Dam. I had looked online and seen that tours were given at 9, 11, 1 and 3. But when I got there, at 12:40 pm, the guy said the 12:30 tour had just gone down. I told him that’s not the time I had seen online. Clearly, there’s an outdated web page up there. Next time, I will call to make sure what I’m seeing is up to date.

I didn’t feel like waiting around until 2:30 to take the next tour so I walked around the dam’s visitor center for a bit and saw pictures of Horseshoe Bend on a big digital display they have inside. I know that  walk to it can be pretty hot in the summer, so I decided to go look at it that day instead. I’m so glad I went.

Horseshoe Bend - this site is pretty famous
Horseshoe Bend – this site is pretty famous

It’s amazing how many people from different countries I saw there that day. And I realized I have missed being around people from many different cultures and walks of life. At my last job, I was exposed to students from all around the world, every day.  I saw couples taking pictures of themselves, standing close to the edge of the cliffs (you could tell who was afraid of heights by the tentative steps they would take toward the edge, and I admit, I was one of those folks.) I saw groups taking “action” shots and people posing as if they were “climbing” up the edges, yelling to one another “use your trying hard face!” It was funny, and I found myself laughing at some of the jokes.

And I wished I had someone with me. Even if it was just a friend, someone to say “oh hey, look at that little building down there near the rock in Horseshoe Bend – what do you think it is?” Just someone to share the experience with, you know?

Anyway, the picture below is from out back behind the Lake Powell Resort. As I stood near the one bench and looked at all the empty patios at the waterfront views, I marveled at the difference between now, which is their low season and what the place will be like in just a few months when the crowds return. I can’t wait to return there at that time.

view from sitting out back near the Lake Powell Resort - if you can go there, I highly suggest it. Imagine having this view outside of your hotel room!
view from sitting out back near the Lake Powell Resort – if you can go there, I highly suggest it. Imagine having this view outside of your hotel room!

Anyway, I just wanted to share some images of the beauty that is within a very short drive from me – just 75 miles away. If you’ve never been to Lake Powell, I suggest going. And the resort of the same name is the only one with property that has rooms on the lake, just an fyi.

Have you ever felt the same way, alone but not alone? Luckily for me, it was fleeting and I comforted myself with knowing I was surrounded by beauty.

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Zion National Park’s Pa’Rus Trail

My lunchtime view - close to the Visitor Center at Zion. I *think* that rock formation is called The Watchman because it overlooks the Watchman Campground.
My lunchtime view – close to the Visitor Center at Zion. I *think* that rock formation is called The Watchman because it overlooks the Watchman Campground.

I asked my friend Dan the other night, “does it make me pathetic that I go to Zion almost every week these days?” And he said “no!” I don’t know what it is, but I just don’t feel comfortable sitting at home on my days off. Maybe because I know that during the week, there pretty much is no other option after work, since it gets dark at 5:30ish.  Living in a small town is one thing in the summertime when the sun only sets around 9 p.m. (we’re so far west in the mountain time zone, that’s why) and you can go hiking after work. But now, it gets very cold here after the sun sets. The difference in temps between daytime and nighttime can be about 30 degrees. I’m sure those ranges will get even larger as we get more into winter. And no, I’m not looking forward to it, not one bit. I think the only thing that will save me this winter from sinking into an abyss (yes, I’m being a bit dramatic) is the fact that we get more sun here than we did back east. I remember sitting and looking out the small window of my office last January. The sky always seemed to be a foreboding gray and on a really gloomy day it could be almost dark by 3:30 p.m. Read more

Observations and Thoughts While Hiking Zion National Park’s Observation Point Trail

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This pic was taken toward the beginning of the hike, when I stopped to eat my pb&j sandwich. You find the trailhead for the Observation Point Trail at the Weeping Rock shuttle stop.

One of the good things about where I live is that one of the most amazing national parks is pretty much in my backyard. Just a quick forty minute drive or so to the Visitor Center where on weekends through the end of November, they are running a shuttle service through the scenic road of the park. Yesterday, I felt like challenging myself so I set out to do the Observation Point Trail, which is described by Zionnational-park.com as “[t]he path is steep and gains elevation quickly, making it one of the most strenuous of the classic hikes in the park. If you have poor fitting shoes it can be quite painful on your toes on the return hike.” (I found the description to be accurate, btw.) Read more

Have You Ever?

Zion National Park, river after the storm.
Zion National Park, river after the storm.

Have you ever….

  1. Had one of those days where you can’t stop smiling?

    Zion National Park, before the storm.
    Zion National Park, before the storm.
  2. Been so happy you find yourself hugging your knees to your chest, and thinking, now THIS….this is what life is all about?
  3. Been so excited to accomplish so many things and dreams and goals that you don’t know where to even start, or which to focus on first?
  4. Found yourself looking at such gorgeous scenery around you and wondering how it is you are so lucky to be able to experience it?
  5. Had so many ideas flowing from your brain you wonder how to go about writing them all down without missing one?
  6. Wanted to share every beautiful image you’ve come across in one day with another or others, but been afraid to overwhelm them?
  7. Been so thankful to be alive?
View of the incoming storm from the Lower Pool, of the Emerald Pools Trail at Zion National Park.
View of the incoming storm from the Lower Pool, of the Emerald Pools Trail at Zion National Park.

Please drop me a comment below and let me and other readers know! Thank you for reading, as always!  Hope you enjoy the pictures, all taken with my phone at Zion National Park!

Settling In, and Coming to Terms with My New Life

Um, yeah... The Grand Canyon is 78 miles from where i live.
Um, yeah… The Grand Canyon is 78 miles from where i live.

So I’ve just started my third week at my new job. I have to say, it’s some weird feelings that I go through sometimes.  A little bit of shock and disbelief.  Happiness. Some scared moments when I think ” how am I gonna do this on this new salary?”  The excitement of seeing new and amazingly beautiful places, the feel of trying out some new hiking shoes, meeting the ladies who work out in the morning at my gym and realizing, wow, they lift heavier than me!  (I still need to find my local “tribe” but I’m working on it.)  It’s just very hard to put into words. I mean, I went from living in a studio that cost me $1100/month in rent to an RV lot that costs $215 plus an RV payment of $82. How does this reconcile in your head?? Ever??

Another shot from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  i can go as often as I like!!!
Another shot from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. i can go as often as I like!!!

I got my first paycheck yesterday. Only for one week of work because of the way the pay periods fall. Needless to say, it’s less than I have ever earned.  I think, like, EVER. Yesterday, at work, as usual, I found myself cleaning a bunny’s butt. Yes, I have a law degree and a masters in library science, and there I was, pulling poop out of a bunny’s butt. (Have you ever heard someone make that statement before?? If so, WHO was it, and HOW can I meet them??!!) And then later on, I found myself cleaning the bathroom. It’s one of our weekly chores to do – no maid service for us. Again, I was wondering, um, is this really my life??!! (Not in a bad way, mind you. Just….it’s….. how do I put this? Surreal? After all this time and planning and thinking of making such huge changes, I’ve actually DONE it.)   But you know what? It’s all good. I knew coming out here my life was going to change in every aspect possible. And I take a look at my surroundings every day, even just the drive to work, and I cannot honestly believe such beauty exists. But don’t take my word for it. Just take a look at some of my pics. That is all.

This is from my walk the other day. Yes, my walk!!
This is from my walk the other day. Yes, my walk!!
A larger shot of the image that is my header on the blog now.
A larger shot of the image that is my header on the blog now.

A good friend of mine said he hoped I would still continue blogging after moving out here, as he said I had inspired him. (He’s even going meatless some days of the week and considering changing to vegetarian!!) Oh hell yeah, I’m going to keep blogging! (I wasn’t so sure about the inspiring part – I just write what makes me feel good to write and on topics that I think resonate with some folks.)

So yes, folks, I will keep talking about getting out of debt (just a different kind now) and chasing simple dreams, and all that good stuff. Please stay with me! Thank you for reading!

Just Take It One Step at a Time

First, I’ll admit my iPod Nano’s playlist terribly needs updating, but that’s a story for another day. What matters is a song I heard the other day while running – “One Step at a Time” by Jordin Sparks. (No mocking please, and hey, I told you the playlist is outdated!!)

As I’ve been working steadily on achieving my dreams these past several months, I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they find me inspiring. That I’ve been gotten them to thinking to follow their dreams too, to not just let them go. While I find this very flattering, I have to admit, it blows my mind in a way.

Let me explain. When we’re kids, we have all these dreams of what we want to do. I have a few nephews that at various times of growing up, have wanted to be a tractor trailer driver. They were totally into cars and trucks at that stage of their life, and I loved seeing the excitement on their faces, and that 100% confidence in what they were saying that it seems only kids have these days. As adults, we are sometimes (ok, oftentimes) afraid to admit what we really want to do with our lives. We’re so worried about what others will think. What others will then say to us – “are you crazy? why would you do that? what about all the degrees you’ve worked for? can you really afford to live on that kind of money?” And the list goes on. You have to remember the source of those words and determine for yourself if you want to give them credence. You have to remember the motivation for those questions – is that person projecting their own fear onto you? Are they simply concerned? Are they completely out of touch with who this new “you” is?

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with all the changes you see yourself having to make. Remember, they don’t need to be done all at once. Just take it one step at a time. Just do one small action every day. Maybe it’s that you start web searching about different careers or find someone’s blog talking about what you want to do. Maybe you look into what air fares cost to the part of the country you want to move to. Maybe  you look up academic programs to investigate what other careers are out there that might suit you better than the one in which you currently find yourself. The point is, DO SOMETHING.  The easiest way to make something feel less overwhelming is to make a decision to do more than just think about it. Get some stuff out of your head.  Write it down and put it somewhere you will be forced to look at it consistently. Don’t let yourself get stuck in that trap known as Paralysis by Analysis.

And, while I know this is easier for me to say than for you to necessarily do, ignore the haters and the doubters. You know how many times it’s been suggested to me to be a lawyer for PETA or some other animal-welfare type of organization? You know how much I HATED being a lawyer?? Let the people who love being a lawyer and who also love animals do that. I am perfectly happy to let them.

If the life you want to lead requires you to live on a smaller salary, then start taking steps to live on less. Everyone’s financial situation is different, of course, but just because you get paid X dollars per paycheck doesn’t mean  you have to spend all X of those dollars. Just try saving $5-10 per week. It might not seem like a lot in the beginning but if left to grow, it will. Name the account into which you put it your “Freedom Fund.” Because that’s what it is – your freedom in the future. And by putting every small cent into it, you bring that future closer to your present. Just DO SOMETHING. Because if you don’t, well then, you’re still in the same place. I can’t tell you how long I let myself be stuck in that place. Many, many years. Many years when I just shoved that part of my gut down to a place where it was so muffled I couldn’t understand what it was trying to say.  It ended up with me having crying jags almost every day, and to sessions with a therapist where I was in tears that were so painful they were the type that made me feel like I couldn’t breathe afterward, as if I was a little kid. Please, don’t do that to yourself.

I admit, all of this is scary at first. But it’s also exciting. Focus on that, rather than the scariness. That’s what I am doing about my trip to Utah in a few weeks. I’ll be spending two weeks at Best Friends, working with bunnies. I don’t know a ton about bunnies, but guess what? I’m going to learn. I’m going to go there with an open, observing mind, ask questions, and show what I’m made of. I’m not stupid and I’m a hard worker so I aim to make those two qualities show!  And yes, it will be hot, but it’s a dry heat, and I figure if I can get through those two weeks’ temps, I should be good in the future. (And believe me, if you had told me that this is what I would be doing, even two years ago, I would not have believed you.)

Ever since I started taking the steps to listen to myself and turn my thoughts into actions, I have felt so much happier with my life. That’s what I wish for you. Just take it one step at a time. And remember, breathe. Because breathing is a good thing! 🙂

If you’ve liked this post, please hit like or subscribe or drop me a line! Oh, and read this book: Dream It, Do It: Inspiring Stories of Dreams Come True, by Sharon Cook and Graciela Sholander. (Just skip over the section on Lance Armstrong because the book was published before the truth came out about him.)

If you think you can’t, you won’t. So, just do it.

That's me in the grey t-shirt. Wow, I'm short. But I'm surrounded by some amazing people at the MA Humane Lobby Day.
That’s me in the grey t-shirt. Wow, I’m short. But I’m surrounded by some amazing people at the MA Humane Lobby Day.

When people ask me why I’m vegan, one of the main reasons I give is because I don’t want to play any role, no matter how small, in the suffering of living, feeling, and loving creatures. Inevitably, some people say something like “well, they’re still going to continue making beef for us to eat, you know?” Or “chickens are still going to continue laying eggs, so what are you stopping, really?” Um, a lot. And I’m sure it means a lot to every animal that doesn’t have to die just so I can eat it.

Here’s the thing. One person can make a difference. The guy who made the Cowspiracy movie – from his own research, he went vegan and thereby saved (and continues to save) some animals from being sent to slaughter as he’s not consuming them anymore. And by making the movie, he changed my mind into becoming a vegan. And I’m sure he’s changed more minds than just mine. So, he did do something.

During my medical leave, I finished reading a book by Gene Baur called Farm Sanctuary. Again, a man who started small, but who has changed many, many lives, both human and animal, over the past thirty years. It really inspired me to want to do more. So I reached out to them after reviewing their website. I saw that their pages on pending state and federal legislation were from the last congressional and legislative sessions. I asked if I could help them update that information, since I’ve got the skills to look up that sort of thing. They graciously took me up on my offer.

So, as they suggested, I reviewed the information on a few of the major animal welfare organizations and then did some additional searches on my own, for federal legislation. And I found out this week that the information I sent to them was used to update a newsletter being sent out to about 100,000 members and it would even highlight an act that they didn’t know about before I found it, called the SAFE Act. SAFE stands for Safeguard American Foods Act, and if passed, this bill would prevent health hazards posed by consuming horses raised in the U.S., by prohibiting, via interstate or foreign commerce, the sale of horses to be be used for human consumption. I feel good, knowing my efforts made a difference to them, and I hope, down the line, to the people reading their newsletter. (And I hope it will make a huge difference to the lives of horses in this country also.)

So, YES, people, you can do something. The only way to ensure your failure at making a difference is to sit there and bemoan how little you can do, and not even try.  I refuse to do that anymore, especially after having read Best Friends: The True Story of the World’s Most Beloved Sanctuary.   They saved the lives of so many animals who had been abused, or neglected, or just dropped without any emotional thought on the part of their “owners.”  As I was reading through it (in just two days’ time), I just kept thinking to myself, I would LOVE to work there and help the animals!! Imagine being around a lot of other people who feel the same way about animals as I do. Plus, it sounds simply gorgeous, as I know many parts of the southwestern United States are. (FYI, in their recent edition of Best Friends Magazine, they discuss how important it is to contact your state legislatures about animal welfare issues.  See page 16.)

Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend the MA Humane Lobby Day.  One of the speakers talked about a bill that had been introduced this session called “A Bill to Protect Puppies and Kittens.”  Think of that title. As she said (and I paraphrase), “who in their right mind can vote against a bill that aims to protect puppies and kittens??”” Well played, ma’am, well played. 🙂

And if you still think that you can’t do something, well, look at what the power of people in some of our state legislatures can do. Don’t take my word for it – check out this clip of John Oliver from his show Last Week Tonight.

And finally, I’ll point you back to a post I wrote last year about a movie called Opening Our Eyes.  It’s about what individuals have done in various parts of the world and how their efforts have changed the lives of so many over time.  You just have to MAKE the decision that, YES, YOU CAN make a difference in this world. Things may seem depressing some days – I’m not immune to it. Some days, after seeing the news, I wonder “what in the hell is wrong with this world??!!” But then, I think, if we all just give up, then it will all go to hell. So, we can’t let that happen. Don’t let other people’s fears project onto you and keep you from doing something. I’m not.  It’s why I am willing to take the steps I’m taking to change the course of my life and make the world a better place for animals. Because every little bit helps. (And if ever I forget that or doubt myself, I look around at my furballs and know better.)

As much as I like to think I'm making a change in Osito's life, I know she's making a HUGE difference in my life.
As much as I like to think I’m making a change in Osito’s life, I know she’s making a HUGE difference in my life.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend, everyone! If you’ve liked this post, please hit like or subscribe, or drop me a line below in the comments. Thanks for reading, as always!