When the Doubts Creep In

 

This song speaks to me a lot – read on and you will see why.

I was just at my brother’s wedding in Florida this past weekend.  So many of his friends, many of which I know from his being in grade school and college, said to me that they were impressed at how I did something that most people just talk or think about doing, and don’t actually go through with it, and that is, a major change in life.  While this made me feel good, it doesn’t banish all doubts from my mind.  Sitting there and seeing so many people who seem to have it all together, many younger than me, and making MUCH more money than me.  People able to afford to go on vacation when they want.  And remembering, I used to be one of them.  It does make you question whether some of your choices have been the right ones.  Just because I made such a huge  life decision a few years ago, doesn’t change the questions that even I ask myself sometimes.

When people found out I worked at a veterinary hospital, many assumed I was either a veterinarian or a vet tech.  And even though I am not ashamed of what I do, because I think I’m very good at bridging the gap between animal skills and social skills, I felt like once I told them I was a veterinary receptionist, that was the end of the conversation, or like they didn’t know how to respond to that.  Like I’m not living up to what my schooling would allow me to do.  I got the impression that it didn’t really impress that many people.  But I also found that regarding many of those people, I didn’t really care what they thought. If I had listened to all the naysayers a few years ago, all those who tried to project their fees upon me, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  I’d still be at Harvard, still doing the same job I had done for years, maybe learning a little bit more.  But always wondering, “what if?  What if I wasn’t too scared to go out and try something new?”  I had already had those feelings about other decisions, like “what if I hadn’t gone to law school?  What if I had tried to get a career as a writer or in publishing back when I was just out of college?  Why did I think my only choices were lawyer or teacher?”

I made these changes  over the past few years, because I was sick and tired of looking back and wondering “what if?”   I didn’t want to live for many more years and still have all those regrets.

So maybe yes, I’m not using all that schooling that I am STILL paying for (and WILL be FOREVER), but when I talk to people going through the tough decision to euthanize their pet, and I can get them to smile as they reminisce about them, or just help that situation be a smidgen less painful, I feel like right now, I’m doing what i need to be doing.  I don’t want to do it forever, though.  But I do know that right now, my resume will benefit from my being in one place for at least a year.  (I can’t believe I’ve been there for almost 6 months already!)  I’ll figure out my next step. I just have to trust that I will know what’s the right decision for me to make, when the time presents itself.

The good thing about my company is that it does have hospitals all across the country and in six provinces of Canada. And my job  is one that I can “shut off” when I go home for the day.   That gives me time to work on other projects.  My mom brought an article ripped out of a magazine for me to read (she’s a mom, it’s what they do.  Technology is not her thing.)  It was about puppy mills.  Although I already know a lot about them, it still struck me.  Maybe I am not doing all I can do to further my passion.  Maybe I should take some of my God-given talents or skills and use them in other ways than what I currently do.  Find other ways to help out animals, like through writing.

Now, I put this thought into words here on this blog, but I can tell you that in the past, reading about how freelance writers get their jobs, it scared the crap out of me. I might feel like I can write well enough on my blog, but no one is paying me to write here.  And if there is only one thing that I learned from working at the Big Red H, it’s that there is a wealth of information out there and it can be hard to sift through and get to the point where you truly feel like you have exhausted all the resources at your disposal.

When I thought of becoming a writer a few years ago, I remember how I started to subscribe to all of these magazines that taught you how to write.  And then I read through all these books that talked about how to “hone your craft.”  By the time you’re done reading through all of it, it can be pretty damn scary.  You can feel like a total failure before you even get started. I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt or feels that way.

And that’s not the only thing that I have doubts about sometimes.  I wonder if I am doing the best by my animals.  One of my cats (my diva, Max) can’t stand Morgan, and with Morgan claiming the bed every night, his affection for her won’t grow.  Callie seems afraid of her a lot but is getting better.  HoneyBun tolerates her but lately not as much.  Thank God for Snuggles, who entertains her and plays with her a lot.   I’m just worried she is not getting enough exercise for her breed, and like I’m not challenging her brain enough.  Cattle dogs/heelers are working dogs and high energy.  I do try to take her on regular walks, but sometimes that doesn’t happen, and then she’s running around in the backyard like a dog with a serious case of ADHD, barking at every single bird she sees, tongue hanging out of her mouth, as she cocks her head up at them.  (I have to admit, she does look like she’s smiling.)

Am I arrogant to think that only I can give them the lives they deserve?  A man came into my hospital last week, and after a few days, he had to euthanize his dog, one that you could see he clearly loved very much.  When he was leaving, he said, “if you know someone with a heeler, let me know.”  And I talked to him about Morgan, wondering if maybe she would be better off with him.  He’s retired.  He has the funds to take care of her (his dog’s stay in our ICU wasn’t cheap.)  He also has a yard, and she wouldn’t be in a crate all day.  Would she be better off? I know she loves me.  And I know how much I love to sleep at night feeling her next to me.  She makes me feel safe.  I know that no one will break into this house without her alerting me to their presence. (Have I mentioned the high crime rate in ABQ on this blog before?)

If I were to give up Morgan to someone else, I think of how guilty I would feel. How I would feel like I was breaking a promise to Morgan.  You see, when I adopted her, I told her she had a home with me.  I’ve always adopted animals with the eye to keeping them for the rest of their lives.  So maybe I just need to spend some more time working with her, challenging her brain, and make sure I spend enough time with each of them.

But I also want to keep up with my own workouts and running. They help me to push the doubts away.  My runs give me some of my best thinking moments.  So then I tell myself, I just need to prioritize differently and ensure I have enough time for everything I want and need to do in a day.  Maybe sleep a little less.  And then I wonder if it’s possible to do all that.  Again, doubts.

But you know what?  Doubts get you nowhere.  They keep you locked in place.  And God knows, I felt locked in one place for so many years.  Trapped by my own insecurities and the need for stability.  Trapped by the fear of failing.

“Don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled on.” Really listen to the words of that song.  Because it won’t be easy.  And it won’t be boring.  But you will find out a lot of things about yourself.  And hope that you never stop doing so. 

As always, thanks for reading. Please drop me a comment below if you have ever had doubts that you’ve had to face, and how you did so.  And thank you.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

What the Heart Wants

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The night I took this photo, it had poured rain, so the sun was peeking through the clouds, shining on the large rock formations at Lake Powell.

What the heart wants and what the mind thinks it can do are sometimes two totally different things. Allow me to tell you a short episode from the other night. If you’re friends with me on facebook, you may already have seen this, so I apologize to those of you in that category.

The other night, I was driving home from having dinner with a friend in town. As soon as you drive out of town, it’s quite dark. The national recreation area is what they call a dark sky area, so there are no street lights and such like you would find in a city. It can sometimes make things feel pretty desolate, honestly. But, that night, I saw an animal in the middle of the road. It looked like it was just sitting there, but it was a jack rabbit. They don’t sit in the middle of the road and wait for cars to come by. They get the hell out of dodge and fast! So I knew that it must have been at the very least, injured. I quickly pulled over and turned around to try to take a look at it. Cars were coming along and I somewhat hoped that if it was injured, that someone might strike it so it would die quickly and not feel any pain. You see, out here, it’s not like there is an emergency vet I can take it to within a few minutes. The local vet isn’t open on weekends and the closest vet (even for domestic animals) is in Flagstaff, which is about 132 miles away. I don’t even know if they take wild animals. Best Friends is about an hour away, but I doubted that someone was there after 10 pm at night. (Actually, it would be even later them as Utah follows daylight savings time and Arizona does not.) Continue reading

“Change Your Money, Change Your Life”

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The view outside of the public library, where I’m taking advantage of the free, amazing wifi!

The line above is one that is used a lot in one of my new favorite podcasts to listen to, called  Budgets and Cents. The “budgets” part is from Cait Flanders (formerly known as Blonde on a Budget) and Carrie is from Careful Cents. Cait got herself out of about $28,000 in debt in 2 years. Carrie and Cait are both freelancers in the financial writing field (and they do other things as well.) Their podcast is relatively new – in its second “season” as they call it. A lot of the topics relate to their freelance work, but there are also episodes that talk about how they did find life after debt, and how they take care of themselves with self-care, etc. I just find them extremely down to earth and it’s like I’m listening to friends. I get inspired listening to them. So, let’s talk about how I’m “changing my money” these days.

I have good news. I found someone to sublet my apartment, and a place where I can move to on a month to month basis starting in September. The person who will be taking my current place is only taking it until December, but there is a possibility it could be for longer, so I’m crossing my fingers the new tenant like the area and decides to stay. Because then, I can move to a larger city, sooner. Oh, so excited!!

With any change, I see opportunity. Yes, I’m only moving literally next door, but I see the opportunity to get rid of some of my stuff. Yes, get rid of some of my crap! When I moved last year, I fit everything I had into my car and a car carrier that rode on top. The only thing I originally mailed from Boston was a large painting, and then my friend Dan helped me free up some room in  my car by mailing some boxes for me. But you know what? I don’t need all the stuff I’ve accumulated, and I certainly don’t need all the clothes I’ve been holding onto. And the idea of lightening the load of crap in my life is exhilarating!

With the decrease in rent I will be paying (the new place is unfurnished and not professionally managed like the place I have now), I will plan on saving some of it and putting some of it toward my credit card bill which is currently sitting just below $4,000. I can’t WAIT to see that balance come down! To remind myself of it, I set up an alert with my account. Every day, I get a text message reminding me of the balance, as well as the fact that the balance is over $3900. When I get it below $3900, I will then change the alert to let me know when it’s over $3800, and so on. And every time I open up that freezer and see that other credit card literally encased in ice, I feel more confident and strong, and in control of my life and finances.

I’m going to start tracking my spending, and actually stick to it for more than 3 days this time. I need to know exactly how much I am spending on groceries, etc., because since I don’t do many activities that cost a lot of money, that’s really my biggest ticket item, I’m pretty certain of it. And I already know one area where my spending has got to stop. It’s going to be pretty hard though. It’s spending on junk food or munchies food at the campground store where I work. We get 20% off as an employee, but the prices are still too high in my opinion (you pay for the convenience of not having to go into town to get your food and other items.) And I can definitely find more healthy alternatives to the food offered there. (Example, eat fresh broccoli dipped in ranch dressing, rather than potato chips.) I’m trying to come up with an incentive for myself to keep that up –  I will start up another bank account and every day that I don’t buy something there, transfer $2.35 into it (that’s my cost for a large can of Pringles with my discount), or I do buy something, if it costs less than that dollar amount, transfer the difference into that savings account. And at the end of a certain period of time, decide what to do with that cash that has accumulated.

In fact, I just opened an account with CapitalOne360, and it’s called No Junk Food (you can give your accounts nicknames.)  So this morning, I transferred $1.35 to that account, since I bought two things of crackers that totaled $1.00 yesterday. And I also just went through my checking account statement and wrote everything down in a small notebook I plan on carrying around with me, and wrote down next to all the expenses what they were for. That is definitely eye-opening, but I think it will be even more so when I write down the number at the same time I’ve just spent it. I’ll let you know regularly how the money is adding up. (Yes, I plan on being more regular with posting onto the blog.)

I think I know why I hadn’t posted on this blog so much this past summer. I was feeling pretty frustrated and out of control or lost about a lot of things.

  1. Financially, I felt very constrained, and will, for a while, but now I feel like I’m taking steps to get in control.  I will write more about that in a separate post, in addition to what I’ve already mentioned here.
  2. Job-wise, I was unhappy and felt directionless. Now, even though I’m not exactly sure when I will be leaving my current place of employment, I know I am starting to make plans to do so. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why I made this drastic move in my life, why it hasn’t come out exactly the way I planned, and what I can do to rectify that.
  3. I’ve realized small town living is not for me, so I’m taking steps to be more financially fit and be able to make a move to a larger city. I’m talking to folks about that new prospective city of Albuquerque and am researching into it a lot before I even go for my first visit. I’m remembering that it’s important for me to live in a lower cost of living area than where I am right now, and that that is a big priority for me in looking into prospective places to move to. Living where it’s less expensive gives me more freedom to explore work that makes me feel happy about being on this earth and contributing to society, not just punching a time clock every day for a paycheck. And I know in my heart that that kind of work will involve animals, in some way, shape, or form.
  4. Finally, I’m turning my attentions to things that make me happy. Some of them are activities that I used to do regularly and had fallen away from – like going to the gym or exercising. I’m still not at that regular pace I used to be when I worked in an office and had a very routine daily schedule, but I’m allowing myself time to get back to that gradually.  I’m not gonna make myself feel guilty about it. I know it’s gonna be rough and my body will definitely feel sore some days.
  5. Writing is another thing that makes me happy and I’m thinking up ideas for regular series of posts. Ideas about things that will remind me of what it’s like to live in a way that makes me feel like I’m grateful to be alive, and living a life of abundance, and not just deprivation. I think I’ve been spending too much time lately thinking about what I don’t have, rather than what I do have.  I’m hoping the ideas that are percolating in my brain will be helpful to others.
  6. I’m spending more time reading and learning (currently reading The Book of the Navajo by  Raymond Friday Locke and loving it because it teaches me about some of the history and culture of the folks I work with and live around every day.) I never want to stop learning and I want to be respectful of them and their history.

Speaking of things I have in my life, I have some amazing coworkers. The below photo is what a coworker and friend did as a surprise for me. She’s always playing practical jokes on me, and they just make me laugh and feel loved. I wouldn’t want her to change a thing. I hope she is reading this, because she knows who she is!  🙂

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Dreams…A Constant Evolution

I have a friend who seems to be at a bit of a crossroads in his life. In his twenties, not sure exactly of where he wants to be, but knows what he wants to do. And I started asking him some hard questions that a guidance counselor or career advisor would – in other words, questions I wish someone had put to me back in my twenties before I went to law school. It reminded me of many, many conversations I had with students over the years and how some of those conversations led to our being friends, which we still are today. Yes, I’m thinking of you, Claudia. :-))

And then it hit me – I’ve got to answer those questions for myself as well. I’ve got to be blunt and honest with myself, my financial situation, my living situation, what it is now and what it can become. Where I want to end up, and what I want to do with my time here on this earth. I still feel like I’m in my twenties a lot of days, and can’t believe I’m turning 44 this year. I guess age truly is what you make of it. It’s just a number, if you ask me. Your attitude defines you.

14080001_10154173687084930_8639474599137396149_nThis morning, I was thinking these thoughts and I remembered when I was taking prerequisite classes for a vet technology degree. At the time, Harvard was helping with the tuition payments through its tuition assistance program. That of course ended when I left its employment. And then I turned to my left and saw this little brown bird on the ground. It appeared to want to be able to fly but it just couldn’t. Its breathing was a bit labored. At first, I didn’t want to touch it, thinking, it’s just injured, and will eventually fly away and I don’t want my human scent to be on it because then if it’s a young bird, its mommy won’t want to be around it again.

However, I did reach out to help it, and realized it must be really hurt because it didn’t even attempt to fly away from me. I tried to give it some water but that only ended up getting the little guy wet which made me feel even worse. Soon after, he took his last labored breath. I petted him and told him I would take care of him, and shortly afterward, found a place to bury him outside of my apartment. That’s the second bird I’ve now buried since I live here. And it reminded me of the post that I wrote about a month ago on listening to  and watching for the signs that are presented in front of you.

I then spent a good part of today looking into the possibility of again attending vet tech school. And this evening, I spent some time looking up grant opportunities for the local animal shelter to apply to (Page Animal Adoption Agency.)  I realized how much I love the thrill of the chase of looking for information, and finding it, then evaluating it, and figuring out if it’s relevant or not. From having worked with a large number of students over the years, I have realized that it’s a skill that not everyone has. I need to have confidence in these abilities of mine and use them to accomplish my dreams. For some reason, it made me think of a conversation I had with my mom just a few days ago.

The other day I had a conversation with my mom during which she asked about my job and soul searching and what I was thinking of doing. I told her about the phone interview I had a little while ago with a farm animal sanctuary. And we talked about what would keep me interested in a job and use my skills, and as she said “You’re not stupid. You’re very smart and can use that intelligence and skills. Eventually you will have to find a job that will pay enough so that you’re not starving.” [My mom can make things seem much worse than they really are. It’s not that bad in the world of animal welfare, it’s just a huge pay decrease.)

The animal shelter and rescue had a team meeting last week and we spent some time talking about applying for grants, and finding someone who can do that type of work. I’ve only worked on a few very small grant applications, but one thing I know I can do is research the hell out of something like that! I feel like my writing skills are strong, and I know that one thing that those who run animal shelters and rescues never have enough of is time.  In addition to money, there NEVER seems to be enough time to do everything you need to keep the shelter running. It’s not just a 9-5 job that ends on Friday night and picks up where it left off, the following Monday morning. Animals need to eat and be walked, and they poop every day. They don’t know if it’s a Monday or a Saturday.

So, now I’m wondering …. can I somehow use my research skills to help shelters find and apply for grants? Is this something I could start to do on a freelance basis? How does one even get started on something like this?  And then, of course, I started looking into the possibility of attending grant writing classes or workshops. It’s my natural inclination to think this way – come up with an idea and then look to see who I can learn from, someone who already knows how to do it well, and then I will feel more qualified to offer my own services in that field. (Possibly, it’s having worked in academia for so many years that has me thinking that way. Or, maybe it’s because it provides a structured way of working on a goal. There’s still that part of me that likes the comfort of something that is structured and pre-established. It’s that fear of the unknown creeping in.)

So, yes, this is my long-winded way of saying, I’m still trying to figure out what my simple dreams are and how to achieve them. I have this feeling that they will always be changing, even if it’s just with little tweaks here and there. And slowly but surely, I am becoming more comfortable with that concept. (Oh, but trust me, there are definitely days where this constant questioning is super stressful and I just want to throw my hands up in surrender and just wish that life could be easy and someone could present the answers to me on a platter.)

Have you ever felt like this? I’m curious as to your thoughts on this – am I completely insane to be thinking along this route as a potential career path?

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By the way, I’ve made a few small changes to the appearance of the page – what do you think?

Decisions, and other words that start with D

I started writing this post about a month or so ago. It’s funny how some blog posts seem to pour right out of me like a thunderstorm, and others are like so many of the storm clouds I see around where I’m living right now. They hang around and you think something’s going to happen, and you get excited thinking about it all day long (that is, if you like storms like I do), and then at the end of the day, nothing, nada, zip. Just a bunch of dark clouds.

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Dark clouds like this are common during monsoon season.

So… I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. About what I really value in life and what I think is wrong now and what can be fixed, etc.  I think for a bit there, I was fighting a relapse into depression.  I was avoiding going to see a doctor because I was worried the visit would cost me several hundred dollars since I have a $750 deductible with my insurance plan. I’d been rationing my prozac supply so it could last as long as possible. But the 20 mg is just not enough, I know that now. I was beginning to feel more like when I was first officially diagnosed, right after my husband and I split. It was not as severe, but it definitely didn’t feel right, or good. So I started taking 40 mg.

I also decided to go to a nurse practitioner, thinking the office visit would be less than seeing the doc in charge. I also asked for a new prescription for Wellbutrin. Using the two in combination worked for me in the past. I remembered how I used to feel confident about myself, and even happy.  It’s been a few weeks now since I’ve been on the 40 mg and the wellbutrin, and the combo seems to be working well. A few days ago, on a drive home from Flagstaff with a friend, I looked out the window at the nighttime landscape and remembered, “this is what it used to feel like. When I was confident and felt at peace about stuff.” It’s just that it’s different now. Now I’m living that part of my life I was only thinking about doing, then. 

If you’ve never experienced clinical depression, you might wonder how I knew. What were the warning signs? Well, I knew I was relapsing because I’d been starting to feel stressed about one item, and then my mind would let loose and start stressing about other things. It would start what I can only describe as a spiraling effect. Anti-depressants like Prozac help in that they help your mind to take a moment to say “wait, stop, think about what is really going here…think logically, not emotionally.”  The Wellbutrin works with another part of your brain, because sometimes Prozac, in helping you to calm down and think, can also make you feel kind of blah. (At least for some people.) So Wellbutrin helps to counteract that. You can feel more pleasure in your life. It’s not a happy pill, though. You still have to do the work on yourself. I was also finding that I wanted to just go to sleep at night, or I was having problems getting up in the morning. The idea of working out in the am just sounded exhausting. I didn’t see any point in doing anything.

So that is one decision I made. I acknowledged what was going on with me, inside, and decided to do something about it.

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I try to enjoy this view as much as possible. There is an overlook at my apt complex – that’s the southern end of Lake Powell below.

Debt. Well, yes, I have it again. A credit card balance. I did have two – I decided to take some money out of savings and pay off one of them – the one that was accruing interest. And that credit card has gone into the freezer. It is encased in a HUGE block of ice in a mason jar. The other card has a zero percent interest rate for 21 months, so now it’s time to chip away at it. I’ve also put a savings thermometer on my wall so I can track my progress. It’s posted right near the door so I see it everytime I leave for work.

Other decisions have not been so cut and dry and not so much set in stone. Yes, I know I want to leave this area by the time my lease is up, if not before. But as to where I’m going, thas been in flux. When I first started writing this post, I had decided, “that’s it, I’m moving back east.” I was so decided that I even posted about it on facebook. Because, you see, that’s how I hold myself accountable (usually.) I put it out there and then feel like I have to follow through with it. But here’s the thing. That’s the kind of thinking that got me into a lot of trouble with certain decisions in my life. The idea that because I had started law school, I had to finish it, no matter  how miserable it made me. The idea that I needed to stick it out in my marriage when I was so unhappy, because that’s what was expected of me, and what I expected of myself, because that’s what you do. You stick things out and make them work. 

I’m realizing now in life, though, that things don’t have to be set in stone. Decisions can be made and decisions can be changed. I don’t have to have everything always figured out and planned ahead of time.  And just because I decide to change up on things doesn’t mean I am a quitter or a failure. I don’t know why I have always been so hard on myself. I just have.

I’m realizing maybe the southwest isn’t so bad after all – maybe it’s just the location where I am now, or the fact that it’s such a small town and such an extremely different from where I spent so much of my life, that has made me feel like a fish out of water. I said to a friend recently, I feel like in this town, I’m just a visitor. I don’t feel like I really, and truly, belong here. So I’m going to try out other places in the southwest, even if it’s just with a few trips. I’m going to road trip to Albuquerque when the season is over (at least that’s the current plan) to check it out. It looks like a city where the cost of living is a lot less expensive, the food is amazing, the winters are a lot milder than back east, the city is surrounded by beautiful mountains, lots of running and hiking trails, there are universities and colleges (and therefore, more options for jobs should I go that route) and a lot of diversity. I know not everyone likes it there (Jen, are you reading this?!) but that doesn’t mean that I won’t.

I’ll be honest, folks. I am SICK and TIRED of living in expensive places where I spend so much time worrying and working to pay rent.  Yes, I know there will be shitty areas of town wherever I look, as there are shitty areas of town in any city in this country. As long as I can afford to not live in a horrible section, and feel safe when I sleep at night, I consider that a positive. In fact, I will look for the smallest place possible, because as you know, I don’t like a bunch of extra crap in my life. If I question getting something, I just ask myself, “Do I want to move this in the future?” That kind of question really helps you to prioritize possessions.

I’ve decided to get back into working out regularly. A friend and I individually used to work out 5-6 days per week, and neither one of us can stand how we feel. I’ve begun running again, and just the other day, bought myself some new Hoka One One Running Shoes (the Clayton model, to be exact.)  And I made sure I could afford them since I’ve worked so much overtime lately. I’m headed to the gym this morning to run on the treadmill a bit, and then do some weights. Tomorrow, I’ve been invited to go canyoneering which is exciting and terrifying at the same time since it involves rappeling and I do have a fear of heights. But I’ve pushed through that kind of fear before when I learned how to do top roping, and I remember the feeling of confidence it gave me afterward. I need to continue pushing myself out of my comfort zone. And I really do want to see other parts of this area where I live. It’s not safe to go hiking by yourself in the desert, which is why I’ve felt constrained and unhappy, not being able to do it before now. So, I’m glad to have the opportunity to do it tomorrow. If you see another blog post from me, you’ll know I’ve survived. 🙂

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I leave you with this pic of Max, one of the loves of my life. He’s a bit of a drama queen, as you can see from this photo. ❤

Anyway, again, sorry for the long delay in posts. I hope I haven’t worried some of you with my silence.

 

 

 

Do you believe in Signs?

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From the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. The place where I met the raven (see the story about him later in this post.)

Sorry for the long delay between posts. I’ve had this one almost done for a while, but I’ve been fighting some feelings here on my own which has cut down my motivation to get some things done. I’ve made some decisions though, which I will talk about in another post. However, I would like to get this out there today, so here goes nothing…

I’m not a religious person, but I do have a spiritual side of me, I guess. I don’t feel like when you die, you completely cease to exist. I think your energy is still out there, in the universe, somehow. And when i feel like I need guidance or a little extra “lift” sometimes, I ask for it. One time, I was out for a run, and I just felt so tired. So much that I just felt like walking and throwing in the towel on that run that day. And I said, aloud, “I think I could use a little help today.” And I swear, I felt a hand at my back. A gentle push. Just a little support. And during the rest of my run, if my energy seemed to wane, I felt it again. It’s very hard to describe or put into words, but I know  I was not alone on that run that day. I know I had angels, or something, looking out for me.

A few weeks ago, when I felt the need to just sit and be still, or “just be” as my friend Dan says, I talked aloud again. Thanked the universe for allowing me to see this beautiful place and hear the birds calling to each other, watch the road runners dart from bush to bush after some unseen-to-me prey, view the jack rabbits hope so quickly from one piece of scrub to another. I was completely alone and I loved it. It was at that time that I felt the need to put my questions out there. Am I supposed to do something with my life involving nature or animals? Should i keep pursuing my love of animals and wanting to make their lives better, to help keep them safe, or to contribute to this world in such a way that is positive, and somehow involves animals? Should it involve natural resource management, as I have been considering lately? Because aren’t the two intertwined? I also let my angels  know, expressly, that I knew I would need some very clear or obvious signs, as I’ve been known to be pretty “black and white” in the past. (I’d even talked to my therapist about it in the past.)

I’m aware that just because I asked these questions, it wasn’t like the next day, boom, there would literally be a sign in front of me like the one you find a few miles from where I live that says “Welcome to Utah” in HUGE letters. Sometimes the signs can take a bit of time to emerge.

A few days after that, I walked outside of my apartment to find what  looked to be a dead baby bird that didn’t even have any feathers on it, it was so little and young when it died. I have buried it in front of my apartment – he (I called him a “he”) deserved to be buried properly. Not sure if he had fallen out of a nest or what, but I felt like he was outside of my apartment for a reason.

A few weeks ago, I was at work. A coworker looked up from her computer screen and asked pleasantly “how may I help you?” and saw two foreign tourists shove what turned out to be a baby bunny in her face! She didn’t know what it was at first and freaked out, the tourists continued to shove it in her face, and of course, the bunny did then what bunnies do – it jumped! This little creature was so small, he fit in the palm of my hand. To make a long story short, I almost drove 75 miles to Utah that day to transport the bunny – I have since found out it was a baby jackrabbit – to an animal sanctuary, but luckily a gentleman from the AZ Game and Fish Department lives in my town and was able to transport the jackrabbit there. I just called the animal sanctuary to check up on him, and found out he is doing better. He started “wilding up” rather than acting calm at feeding time and for a jackrabbit, that is a really good sign. It will be touch and go over the next few months, I am told, but for now, he is doing well. I hung up the phone and cried tears of joy.

If you want to see just adorable this little bunny was – here’s the link to the facebook page of the Wild Friends section of Best Friends Animal Society. Scroll down to the video of the black-tailed jackrabbit giving himself a bath after being fed breakfast by “dreaded” humans. He’s trying to get all the human cooties off of him! 🙂 He is absolutely ADORABLE!!!  (Sorry, it may have really moved down on their page right now since it’s taken so long for me to get this post up and going.)

The following day, again at work, a gentleman came into the store to look at our books for sale and kill some time. He explained that his family was out on a boat and he was staying behind to make sure their puppy was safe and sound at the trailer. We got to talking and I learned that he worked for 30 years for the Oregon Dept of Fish and Wildlife. We talked about how both of us would be the type of person who would break open a car’s window to free an animal from dying of the heat trapped inside, and he told me how because of his work, he sometimes helped wildlife recuperate at his home in Oregon. While I was talking to him, I thought to myself “yep, angels, I’m seeing your work, loud and clear,” and I smiled to myself.

Recently, I met a friend in Zion National Park. We made our way to the top of the Emerald Pools trail, where there were some very smart squirrels who stayed close to the humans, but not too close so that they couldn’t get away if needed. As we left the pools, I saw a squirrel close by, watching me. I reached my hand out toward it, not expecting anything, but just wanting to let it know I meant it no harm. I expected it to run away when it saw my outstretched arm, but instead, it jumped down and walked toward me, and then tapped its feet on the front of both of my shoes. I’ve had a squirrel come close to me before, but always for food (outside of Harvard, the squirrels are so tame, they will take a sandwich out of your hands.)  I just felt like he was trying to give me a message.  Then, as we parted ways at the end of the night, I saw something in the middle of the road. As I drove closer, I saw it was a deer that was lying down in the road. I’m not sure what happened, if it was hit or not, but I saw a man come out and wave his arms at it, his face showing an expression of what appeared to be disgust. The poor thing got up as fast as it could and ran off away from him. I couldn’t tell if it was hurt, honestly. All I do know is that I almost broke into tears at the thought of this beautiful animal being in pain and now running in that pain. I can’t bear to see any animals, wild or not, in pain.

Recently, I talked to my mom on the phone and learned that she is feeding about 5 or 6 stray (or more likely, feral) cats in her neighborhood. She said, “I don’t know how the word is spreading, but it seems like it is. There used to be just one or two.” A few years ago, I don’t think my mom would have done something like that. She told me that she worries about their crossing the road to get to her house. By the time we got off the phone, she had decided to call the local animal sanctuary when she gets back from vacation and talk to them about trapping them. (At the beginning of the call, she thought that many of the cats look too old to still go into heat or make little baby cats. At the end of the call, she had changed her mind and become more open to the idea of TNR, or trap-spay/neuter-return.)

About a week ago, I was taking little Osito for our walk/carry, as I call it (she doesn’t walk a ton and gets tired in this heat so I end up carrying her a lot.)  I ended up talking to a guy in my complex who was just arriving home from the beach with his yellow lab. Turns out he had also had an experience with a jackrabbit, but his was one that had been hit by a car and was still alive when he and his dog found it. Took it to the local vet (who is awesome), who only charged him 50% of his regular rate, and then his girlfriend took the jackrabbit to Best Friends where he still resides today, and will if he can’t be returned to the wild in the end run because of his health.

And finally, this past weekend I was at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. There were a lot of people there but I still felt quite alone sometimes. It’s something I have been fighting (more on it in a later post which is itching to pour out of me.) At the end of my time there, I found a spot where I could be alone and just look at the canyon. After a little bit, another couple showed up, so I walked back to my car and found another spot where I could sit and be undisturbed, and write a few thoughts down in my journal to describe how I was feeling and why I felt so alone even when in a crowd.  I was also wondering if I was doing the right thing to start looking for animal-related jobs again.

Then, I saw a raven walking, close to the spot I had just vacated. He could easily have flown, but he decided to walk a few steps. Then he did take flight. I thought to myself how awesome it would be if he decided to come towards me. I went back to writing in my journal and then when I looked up, there he was. Within about 6 feet of me. And here’s the thing. He kept walking closer to me until he was about 3 feet away, just beyond my feet. He would stand there for a bit while I talked to him, and he let the strong winds rustle through his feathers. Occasionally, he would take a small step closer to me. He wasn’t looking for food, but just sat there silently with me. You will have to take my word for it that this happened – my cell phone was in the car and I sensed that sudden movement by me might spook him. And honestly I didn’t want to spoil the moment either.

So what does all this have in common? In a word, animals. Just have to translate it into something I can do or learn how to do – animal rescue or wildlife rescue or animal care (I know some of you may think I’m more qualified than to do something so manual but it’s what makes my heart happy in the long run. Helping creatures that can’t talk for themselves in a way us humans can understand.) I also need to learn or figure out a way to exist financially and get by if I do go back into working full time with animals. It’s really not a field you go into to get rich, at least not in the monetary sense. I don’t want or need a ton of money but just enough to feel stable and be able to take care of my fur family and myself. That’s all I ask for, and sometimes I feel like it’s too much.

I realize some folks may think I saw all these thing as “signs” because now I am looking for them, rather than ust going about my day. Maybe that is the case. Or, maybe it really is the universe or my angels reaching out to me. I choose to believe in the latter.

A friend shared a great link with me: Seven Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose and one of the questions is what makes you forget to eat and poop. I love this guy’s post!  I would say that if I were to be involved in an animal emergency or working with animals, that would be one of the times I would forget to do at least one of those (eat). Another question is what would make your 8 year old self cry? And it might be that I have not kept on writing at the same feverish pace that I did when I was that age. I let myself think that to follow a creative path like that was not going to mean a “success” in today’s world. I was not practical. Didn’t require me to wear a suit to work and work in an office and do “important” things for a big company. You get the idea.

I DO know that I have always loved animals, my entire life. I’ve always felt like I’ve had a connection to them that I know not all of us have. And I know I have always liked the feeling of pen to paper and creating stories from my mind. I find myself reading novels and wondering how the author came up with the ideas they have, and how many rewrites it might have taken to get the book to the point it’s at where I am holding it in my hands. I try to remind myself that the book is a finished product, not something easily come by and to not judge myself so much by what I put onto paper.

I also DO know that what I am doing now is not what I want to do for a career. I’ve gone back to being the supervisor, but will have a new (immediate) boss in another week or so, and because of that new addition in the hierarchy of the company, my pay has been decreased. The Team Lead position was not going to pay me enough to live, quite  literally. So for right now, it’s a means to an end. It’s what I am telling myself every day.

I’ve decided I will be moving when my lease is up, if not before.  (I am hoping to work overtime whenever possible through this season.) I would need to get a subletter if I moved before the end of the lease, and am wondering when to start that process. It’s a small town which helps and hurts me – there isn’t a lot of inventory available, but how many people then want to move here and can afford to do so? So if I stay until next April, I will be just trying to save and live as frugally as humanly possible, or buckle down and get a second job. I have $1200 tied up in security deposits with my apartment that I plan on getting returned back to me.  My tower garden (pictures will be coming in a future post) should hopefully allow me to grow my own produce and thereby save some money.

So this is where I am at right now. Definitely fighting feeling overwhelmed, and scared, and feeling lost. But I’m trying my best to get through all of it.

As always, I love to hear from all of you. Thank you so much for the support on my last post. It has meant so much to me.