Focus, Leap, and Do Good “Stuffs”

As of today, the plural of stuff is stuffs! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. ūüôā

 

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FOCUS!

 

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.

 

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LEAP! 

 

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, Thanks¬†in 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. ūüôā

 

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DO GOOD STUFFS! (Picture from the ABQ BioPark where lots of good stuffs are happening!)

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?

Dream Killers (and how to stop them)

 

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image from pixabay.com

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:

Ramble: Don’t Buy into the Fear of Isolation

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.

 

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A scene from the Bosque, one of my favorite places to go for a run!

 

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.

As always, thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

Running and Thinking, Staying Positive

 

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Something I’ve begun doing – laying on the grass and taking pictures of the trees and sky above.

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.

 

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Taken from the Sandia Crest – altitude of 10,678 feet.

 

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. ūüôā

 

 

 

My Money Mindset

 

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Totally unrelated to the subject of this blog entry. ¬†Cochiti “Lake” (really more of a reservoir) but just exemplifies the vast open spaces and views of the southwest.¬†

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. ūüôā ¬†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. ‚̧

As always, thank you for reading.

 

 

Hopes. Tears. Stronger.

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The Rio Grande at sunset

I hope that each of you out there has a place that they can go to that acts as an aid to help you breathe more deeply and feel more settled. ¬†For me, that is the bosque (woods) near Tingley Beach in Albuquerque. ¬†It’s right along the Rio Grande River. ¬†Whenever I go there, there is a sense of the familiar, which is comforting, but also there’s always something new that I see or observe, and that’s also comforting in its own way. ¬†Usually, I’m there with Morgan, but occasionally, it’s just me. ¬†I love to hear the sounds of the birds calling to one another, or the wind in the trees above me. ¬†On very windy days, I get to see the tumbleweeds blow across the trail in front of me. ¬†And it’s on those days that there seems to be a certain urgency in the air, and I can see it in Morgan’s face when she walks in front of me. ¬†She occasionally looks back to make sure I’m still there with her and I always assure her that yes, Mommy’s right here.

I’m feeling something here in Albuquerque that I haven’t felt in a long time. ¬†I’m not sure i can put the right word(s) to it, but I’ll try. ¬†I feel more like myself. ¬†Running in the woods, it reminds me of how I used to run along the shores of the Charles River in Boston, and how I would run through the trails of the trees and relish the feel of the packed earth below my feet, watching the flow of the water so close to me. ¬†I remember the instant boost of energy I used to feel when I would see the crew teams out practicing on the river, and I would think, “if they can keep going, then so can I.” ¬† Here, along the Rio Grande, there are no such crew teams, but there is the current of the river, and the call of birds flying overhead, and on the river’s surface. ¬†It’s a different boost of energy that I get. ¬†The same, but yet different.

I see runners in front of and behind me, and feel like I’m slowly finding my tribe again. ¬†I’ll never be at the same speed I used to, but that’s no longer the most important thing to me. ¬†Now it’s the ability to get out there, and run for myself, and for my dog, Morgan, who is my usual running partner these days. ¬†We get to share in the beauty of being outdoors, and getting exercise, and running the “crazy” out of ourselves. ¬†I’ve realized she is a great companion to me. ¬†Just like her mom, she’s always wanting to get out there and explore, and I talk with her about our adventures that we go on every day. ¬†I feel less scared to explore things when I’m with her. ¬†I know she has my back, just as I do, hers.

I’ve met a friend in town who I feel like I can talk to easily, as if we’ve known each other for years. ¬†I can’t tell you how much that means to me after having felt unsettled for the past 16 months or so. ¬†Knowing I was meeting people that I sometimes connected really well with, but just feeling like I hadn’t found my “place” yet that I was searching for. ¬† No one will ever replace my best friend Sarita back in Boston, of course (she’s my little sis that I never had), but it feels really good to connect with a kindred spirit again. ¬†Someone who just seems to “get” you. ¬†Someone who accepts you for what you are and bring to the table.

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Sitting near one of the duck ponds at Tingley Beach, which is across the street from a beautiful golf course. ¬†I just thought to myself, “yeah, this is where I need to be in my life right now.”

My job is challenging in some ways, but I feel like I’m in the right place for myself to be right now. ¬†It’s challenging to see animals suffering, and also the suffering of their parents, whether it be for financial reasons, or just health problems that can’t be solved. ¬†As I sit in the visiting room with folks preparing to say their final goodbyes to their loved furry ones, I’m often told “I don’t know how you folks do this every day.” ¬†Truth be told, I don’t know either. ¬†I just know that if there is a way that I can try to ease the pain of those moments for someone, I will do my best. ¬†It’s hard to know when someone might appreciate a hug, or when you should ask them a question to make them smile or remember ¬†a happier time in their pet’s life, but I do my best. ¬†And more than one has made me shed a tear. ¬†Last week was the hardest. ¬†Several DOAs, and some very tough euthanasias. ¬†It was a Sunday shift that I thought would never end. ¬†Thankfully, it finally did. ¬†Maybe I won’t end up becoming a vet tech after all. ¬†I’m not sure. ¬†I just know I’m good with people and with animals, and for right now, I’m not second guessing what it is I’m doing with my life. ¬†If other people think I’m wasting my potential, so be it. ¬†I will decide what is right for me, not someone else.

My life here is a humble existence, and a simple one. ¬†I have a small apartment, but a lot of furry love surrounds me every day. ¬†As I sit and type this, Callie sits behind me on the chair, purring away. ¬†I look at the others, and see them all sleeping soundly away and that makes me feel at peace. ¬†I’m able to provide the basic necessities for all of us, and that’s good for me. ¬†I don’t need a lot to feel happy, or at least content.

At times, I do wish I had someone to share my life with again. ¬†If you’re on facebook, you know how it likes to show you “memories” of posts from the past. ¬†I was reminded yesterday that it had been about three years since I last spoke to my ex-boyfriend, six months after he had unexpectedly and very suddenly broken up with me on a trans-atlantic phone call from the Middle East. ¬†That call brought some much needed closure to me, but I now realize it’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way about someone, and part of me wonders if I ever will again. ¬†Am I broken if I don’t feel that way again? ¬†Am I just hiding from the potential of being judged by someone, and found lacking? ¬†Is this a mode of self-protection, or is it fear holding me back from growing in that way again? ¬†I’m not sure, honestly. ¬†I’m still trying to figure that one out.

This is the post I wrote about that relationship, three years ago. ¬†I just read it over to myself, and I’m glad to say that yes, I’m still getting a little bit stronger every day. ¬†Learning about myself and realizing I may never achieve all my goals and dreams, but the journey really is in the time spent figuring them out. ¬†It’s the growing that takes place along that path, that journey. ¬†Because I know myself well enough now to know that whenever I achieve one dream, I’ll always be looking for another dream to latch onto. ¬† Three years ago, I thought once I figured out a dream to chase, I had to do it NOW, NOW, NOW, and my friend Dan knows how often I used to obsess about and change my dreams on an almost day to day basis. ¬†(That he is still friends with me now shows me that I have been blessed since I decided to go on life on my own, leaving what everyone has been taught should be their dream: ¬†the marriage, the house, the good paying job, etc.)

If I were to die tomorrow, would I feel like some things were unfinished? ¬†Yes. ¬†Definitely. ¬†But would I be able to die more satisfied, knowing that I had finally started to open up to my fears and hopes, ¬†and acknowledge that I’ve been truer to myself in the past seven years or so, than I ever was before then, in my life. ¬†Life isn’t about being comfortable. ¬†For me, it’s about growing, and learning, and loving.

I’m not sure where this post came from, honestly, but it’s one that I feel has been trying to make its way out of me over the past few days. ¬†I’m not sure I’ve even expressed all my thoughts the way that I really want to, but I now know it’s better to have tried than not to have tried at all.

Thanks for reading. And I’ll close with the video that I included in my post three years ago: ¬†A Little Bit Stronger, by Sara Evans. ¬†Still true, today.

 

My Debt….Journey out of Hell

I know there’s a saying that says if you find yourself in hell, just keep walking, because eventually you will get yourself out of it. The other day, I did something scary, but necessary. Except for my federal loans, I added up all of my debt. (The federal loans are just too overwhelming to grasp.) And here’s what the picture looks like (avert your eyes if you don’t want to be scared, or is it scarred, for life?!)

Tower Garden: $407.70
Capital One credit card: $2,651.65
Citibank credit card: $3,929.69
Auto Loan (through a credit union): $6,005.16
AES Loan (private student loan): $10,567.09

Grand Total (again, avert your eyes if you need to): $23,561.29

My gross income is just barely above that. As Dave Ramsey¬†would say, I don’t have a debt problem, but an income problem. So I plan on trying to find a second job if I can. Or, finding a way to make money online. Some of you have given me good ideas in the past.

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Rio Grande River, as seen from the Tingley Beach open space area

I’ve also listened a lot to a podcast called Budgets and Cents. The “Budgets” part of the podcast is Cait Flanders, and she went on a shopping ban for one year. After the first year, she decided to continue it for a second year. During that time, she only bought essentials like food.She had a pair of jeans that ripped and she eventually had to replace them. When her one hoodie just got completely gross, she got another one, but only after months of looking for the perfect hoodie. It might seem a bit extreme, but it did help her to really appreciate the stuff she did have. I know it will help me too, even as I continue to get rid of stuff I have accumulated over the past year, but realize I really don’t need. Every dollar I save by not shopping for stuff, will go to the debt.

So, I’ve decided to do something similar. I’m not going to shop for things I don’t need. Just groceries for myself and for the furry ones, pretty much. And I am going to start checking out all the free things to do in Albuquerque. There are actually quite a few free museums that I can take a look at, ranging from the atomic bomb to meteorites! After all, part of the reason I moved to a city was to take advantage of amenities a city has, that a smaller town does not. I’ve already been checking out a lot of the free open public spaces and am really enjoying checking them all out with Morgan. We both get the fresh air and exercise we need. ¬†So, occasionally, I may pay to go into a museum or some place like the Botanical Garden that does have an entrance fee. But I will space those out accordingly. I know if I don’t treat myself occasionally, this won’t work. I just have to remember, it’s ok to treat yourself, but in moderation.

I am going to keep my gym membership to Planet Fitness. It’s only $21/month and working out is once again, very important to me. ¬†It all works together. ¬†It’s helping my morale improve, and I am liking the way I look in the mirror, more. ¬†Same thing with my running sneakers – if they wear out, I’m going to replace them. One thing I do know that it is worth spending money on is good sneakers if you want to run. Since my health insurance at my new job (once it kicks in, in January) has a high deductible, I need to focus on eating well, and staying healthy. Luckily, those are two things I already realize the importance of.

So, you will notice that up above, the debts are arranged in order from smallest to largest. I plan on paying off the tower garden first. I plan on taking a couple hundred out of savings, and then paying the rest out of my paychecks. (I’m not using it in this apartment since I heard that roaches like water, and well, it’s a hydroponic system. So I may try to sell it online.) ¬†Then, the money I was paying to that every month (about $81) will go toward the Capital One card. I’ve found that gas here is cheaper than it was in Lake Powell (it was a tourist destination, so no surprise there), so whatever I budget for but don’t use per month, is going to go the debt payoff. I get paid $10 every month from ¬†my credit union for having my checking account with them, having money directly deposited, and using my debit card a certain number of times. So, guess where that is going?!

I am paid way ahead (about 5 years) on that AES student loan, so I plan on making smaller than the full payments every month of $167. ¬†It accrues about $27 in interest every month, so I plan on paying more than $27, but also paying it every two weeks, when I get paid. You see, student loans are different than other types of loans. The interest accrues daily. So while it may not seem like a lot, every little bit can help. It’s kind of like paying off your mortgage twice a month instead of just once a month. It shortens the loan time. ¬†(I just paid $20 on it this morning.) The money that I am not paying toward the AES loan will go toward the Capital One card. That should help ¬†a lot since the Capital One card has a higher interest rate.

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one of the few moments in which I could get Morgan to sit still on  our walk at Tingley Beach

The Citibank card is currently on a 0% interest rate, and I need to check to see when it ends. It was 21 months when I signed up, so I think I have another year or so. If that time comes up, and it’s not paid off (the likely scenario), then I will transfer it to another credit card which is giving 0% interest for a certain number of months. Then I will snowball what I had been paying on the Capital One card into the minimum payment on the Citibank card, and then on to the car, and then on to the AES loan at the end. The car loan has a low interest rate so a lot of my $142 monthly payment goes to paying off principal.

So yes, this is the snowball method. It’s different from picking the debt with the highest interest rate, but it does provide you with more “wins” and let’s face it, handling money is an emotional thing. If it wasn’t, we would all be millionaires, right?!

I’ve updated my direct deposit with my work – luckily, they allow you to put your paycheck into 5 different accounts! So from every paycheck, I will be saving for the annual or semi-annual bills that come up, like renter’s insurance, car insurance, etc. That way, when the bill comes due, the money is there. And I am also continuing to save to go to my brother’s wedding in Florida in May.

I watched this video earlier today via the His and Her Money youtube channel, and I was definitely inspired. This girl started out making $15K per year and she owed $25K on her student loans. She paid it off in about 3.5 years. I don’t know that she had some of the expenses I have, but if she can do ¬†it, then I have no excuse to not even try on my end.

I will talk about the budget I have planned in a later post because this one has already gotten way too long!  But I wanted to get this post out there so that the few of you who read this blog regularly can be my accountability partners. I need people to know what is going on. (And thanks to those of you who do read it regularly, even though my posts have been somewhat sporadic lately.)

Finally, I will leave you with a picture of Baby O doing what she does best: sleeping. ūüôā Well, she snuggles pretty well too. LOL (She and Max are both snuggling up to me as I type away. There could be worse things in life than having two animals trying to love you at the same time.)

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my adorable baby girl, Baby O

As always, thanks for reading and please feel free to leave a comment or suggestion below. 

 

 

 

 

Wow…Just Wow… (Or, did that just happen?)

One of the ponds near the Rio Grande River - at the Alameda open space area.

One of the ponds near the Rio Grande River – at the Alameda open space area.

Those titles could apply to so much in my life lately. The election, where I just couldn’t believe my eyes as the map filled up more and more with red (I think it’s fair to say it’s pretty obvious I’m a liberal.) But more than that… about 3 weeks ago, I packed up a U-Haul and loaded my car onto a transport trailer and drove it 450 miles from Page, AZ to Albuquerque. Had I ever driven a U-Haul truck before? NO! Was it the smallest one they have? NO! (The smallest one can’t handle the auto transport, I found out.) Had I ever towed anything before? NO! Sure, why the hell not learn how to do both all at once and drive all day with two dogs and a cat inside it? What could possibly go wrong?!

[For the record, I’ve used U-Haul before – it was always just another family member who drove it while I drove a jammed-to-the-gills car in front of them. ¬†Also, in case you were wondering where two of the other cats were, they were with my friend Jordan who drove ahead of us with his car. To ensure he stayed my friend afterward, I gave him the two least likely to cry the entire way – Callie and HoneyBun. Max the Diva rode with me and yep, he was pretty talkative for about half of the trip. Sigh.]

So, um…yeah. I moved to a new city without having a job lined up. Had I ever done something I felt to be so risky in my life before? NO! Stability is very important to me – a phobia of mine is ending up being homeless. And in Albuquerque, there are quite a few homeless folks. So at a lot of intersections, I would see the signs they were holding up and thought, oh my God, what happens if I can’t get a job? Now I have all these animals to feed and I can’t let them down. I’ve promised them that they will always have a roof over their heads.

The first night, I saw a roach in the apartment. And then a few more. Um…yeah….I super freaked out. ¬†I am a pretty clean person and have been neurotic about making sure my food has been cleaned up and put in plastic bags or jars ever since. No dirty dishes for me. I’m told that they are common in these parts, and especially in the southern end of town where I live because it’s a student section. ¬†My friend Jordan said I will just have to get used to them. Say what?! No matter how clean you are, if your neighbors have them, you likely have them.

So now, every time I get up in the morning I do the check to see if there are any I can squish, or stomp. And yes, I am getting used to this new normal, but I still keep saying out loud, “six months til the lease is up and we are out of here!” By the way, it’s not like there is an infestation of them like you hear of in horror stories, but the fact that they are here skeeves me out, so I’m definitely going to find a new place to live come June 1, if not sooner. It’ll just take some hard work and lots of questions to folks I will meet as to where I can move and where I can find someplace that will allow me to have my pets. ¬†I’ve already started asking around and plan to take some drives to other parts of the city, with Morgan in the back seat of course!

Well, a week to the day after I moved here, I had a job offer. Actually, two. And two days later, I had a phone call from the city of Albuquerque about an animal handler position I had applied for. One job only paid minimum and no benefits, but it would have involved working with cats and doing a lot of cat adoptions which really interested me, since it’s something I did a lot of on a volunteer basis back in Boston. But ultimately, the job I took is full time, with benefits, and it’s a closer commute, and the pay is better. I’m still not going to ever become rich working with animals, but it’s a wage that will allow me to support myself and my fur family, and that’s important.

Now, as many of you may recall, part of the reason I moved to Albuquerque is because of a vet technician program at one of the community colleges. I wanted to establish residency in NM as fast as I could so that I would only end up being considered an out-of-state student for the 1st of 5 semesters. Well, here’s the good news…(as if getting a job wasn’t already cause enough for celebration!) ¬†So, my job is working as a vet receptionist at what they call a hybrid hospital. There is the General Practice side, where I will be working, and there is an emergency side, as well as many specialties covered such as oncology, acupuncture, etc. One of the benefits that they provide is a break on the tuition to Penn Foster and its veterinary technician program. Also, because they have partnered with Penn Foster, I can do the externship that is necessary to complement the online school, with the hospital where I am working. And, the cost will be about 1/3 of what it would cost me to attend the local community college, and I can do the course work on my own schedule. ¬†To me, these are all pluses. The program at the community college is small, so when classes are offered, there is usually only one section, so there wouldn’t be so much flexibility in terms of scheduling for classes. With online, I can do it at 4 a.m. if I want to.

Once I knew I had a job, it helped me to relax a bit.With the election results and my not knowing if I had a job or not, I found that my stomach had been clenched for two or three days. It was clenched or tight for ¬†so long that even my back started hurting. So after I knew I had a job, and had a few days until I started, I let myself play a bit of tourist. I went to the Botanical Garden and might be going back after Thanksgiving because they decorate it with a bunch of Christmas lights and I think it’ll look really cool. And you guys know me, where there are animals, I will find them. They have a very small farm at the botanical garden so I spent some time with this beautiful steer, and hung out with him for a bit. I scratched his head and part of his back/shoulders for quite a while, and he didn’t move away so clearly he liked it! I felt so bad for him – he was there all alone. (Sorry for the bad quality of the photo.)

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I’ve also joined a gym – Planet Fitness, so it’s only $10/month and it’s super clean and well taken care of. And yes, there is even some “eye candy” for me to watch while I’m dying of boredom on the treadmill! ūüôā ¬†And they have all these Open Spaces here in Albuquerque, so I’ve taken Morgan on walks at four of them so far. (The Aldo Leopold Forest is my favorite trail so far.) It’s a great way to be out and about, getting fresh air, and some exercise at the same time. Plus, it walks the “crazy” out of Morgan, lol. She gets so tired that I can get some work done when we get home!

So again, sorry for the long silence between blog posts. I have actually had this post written for about a week now but had problems attaching pictures (i’ll explain how I am getting internet for my computer in a later post) and then I had a problem with my chromebook. But it’s up and working now – I’ve jut given up on adding the pics!

I’m going to be writing a post shortly about how I plan on tackling the debt I’ve accrued over the past 17 months after having quit my well-paying job to work for much less money. I love my new job – the people I work with are great, the clients are also for the most part. (You’re never gonna find perfection at the work place.)

As always, if you have a comment or suggestion, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!