Musings with Morgan: God-ZILLA!!!

So many of you were so nice to me after my mommy let me write a post last week that I decided to tell you about something really scary that happened to us last week. But before I get into that, I want you to know that even on a scary day like we had, it was still MY BEST DAY EVER!! Because I got to spend time with mommy, and I got outside and we took a drive in the car!

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My mommy says one of the drawings reminded her of a kangaroo.  Um, what’s a kangaroo?

My mommy took me to some place called National Petroglyph National Monument so I could sniff out a lot of smells and she could look at pictures drawn on rocks with rocks. Or, at least that’s what she said had been used to make the pictures. Who knows? All I know is there were LOTS of smells, and I was on the constant lookout for bunnies or road runners or snakes. (Shhh…don’t tell my mommy I was looking out for snakes, because that would totally FREAK her out!) I was doing my best to protect her, which is my job and something I do well. Usually, I protect her from cars driving by, by lunging at them, or from outdoors cats, who I also try to lunge at, or hot air balloons in the sky. Even though they may be miles away, they can still HURT us, you know?! I have to protect my mom!

So, anyway…we went to the visitor center first to find out about the trails, and luckily, they have two trails on which you can take dogs like me. I waited in the car while she went in and it felt like seven years til she came back, but eventually she did. It’s always the BEST THING ever  to see my mom again when she leaves me. I don’t ever want her to leave me. It’s why i sit right in front of her most nights when she is home from work and working on her computer or playing on her phone.

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Mommy thinks some of these drawings look like aliens. Um, what’s an alien? 

So yeah, where was I? Ok, a nice lady at the visit center drew on a map for mommy so she knew where to drive to. The national monument has something like 35,000 petroglyphs in it, and mommy said it’s like 17 miles long. She said some of the pictures are from back around 1300 and she kept saying “can you imagine, Morgan?? So long ago, people were HERE!!??” Um, do I have to point out to her that I’m a dog, and I have no concept of time? All I know is that every time she leaves me, I feel like it’s FOREVER until she comes back!

As is my usual custom, I decided to take a poop soon after we started walking. I say soon, but it was far enough from the beginning of our walk that my mommy then had to carry it in a bag for the rest of the way. Hee hee hee. I always laugh when she gets stuck doing that. I think it’s super funny. But she just sighs….Btw, did I mention how proud I am of how badly my poop stinks?! Because I am.

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Finally, a picture of me!! I’m trying to cozy up to Baby O. How come she has such a large bed for such a small body and the bed I had to sleep on was so small??! Not fair!

My mommy took lots of pictures, but she decided to only show a few to you with my writing. She told me some are drawings of animals, some are of other people, some are of what look like alien faces, some are what she calls geometric shapes, and some of them, well, no one really knows what they are. But she thought that they were cool. As long as mommy was happy, I was happy.

My mommy had decided for us to start back on the second half of our walk when I heard IT. I mean, I HEARD IT! Mommy said something like “Morgan, why are you pulling all of a sudden?!” Couldn’t she see it?? Couldn’t she hear it?!?? It was plain as day! I could hear it come from at least 7 miles away! There it was – GodZilla!!! And it was coming closer and closer and closer to us! I decided right then and there that we were gonna make a break for it, and started RUNNING! I mean, RUNNING! My mommy had no choice to follow me! But it kept on coming! And coming! Faster and faster! My mommy was trying to keep me on a path, but I was not gonna have any of that – we had to get out of there and FAST! GodZilla was coming for us and it was gonna KILL US!

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Me and Baby O are expert sleepers. I’m just so glad to be able to sleep every night in a home. I love my mommy for giving me a home, so much. ❤

I ran into some bushes and my mommy saw that I had even come partly out of my harness. She basically dove on top of me at one point to get it back on, and kept saying “Morgan, it’s ok…it’s ok….” and I was still a bit freaked out, but GodZilla seemed to be floating away from us. It went over what my mommy calls a “crest” in the hill near us and then I didn’t see it anymore. That’s the only time I let myself relax, just a little. GodZilla was gone and I had saved us. Mommy just didn’t understand what I had done.

When we got back to the car, I was still a bit freaked out. I climbed into the front with mommy and sat down on the floor in the front on what she calls the “passenger’s side.” I didn’t even want to drink any water- all I could think about was our getting out of that place and being safe with my mommy again. She told me that what we had seen was not GodZilla (I think she’s wrong) but really just what she calls a hot air balloon. All I know is, it was evil and it MUST BE DESTROYED.  What would my mommy have done if I hadn’t been there to save her?!

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Mommy got super excited when she saw this one – why? I don’t know. All I know is, God-Zilla showed up after she took it!

My mommy insists on including some pictures of me and my brothers and sisters in this post – please try to forgive her as she just can’t help herself. But I gotta say, writing this post has been exhausting and I need my beauty sleep so I’m gonna fall asleep now, right at my mommy’s feet which is my rightful place in this house. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Thank you to everyone for being so nice to me about my last post. I’m really liking this dictation thing! Until next time, slobbers and kisses!!!

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Mommy calls this “cuteness overload.”

 

 

 

 

 

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. 🙂 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. 

 

 

 

 

Torn….part two

I had a few other things I wanted to talk about in my last post, but as I was writing it the other day I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and just really wanted to get what I had written out there, and published. There are a few other things that have pushing and pulling at me lately, too.

But first, I do want to say thank you to everyone who read my last post and especially, thank you to those of you who left your thoughts, both on the blog and on facebook and in text messages. They really help and give me new perspectives to think about, and a couple even brought tears to my eyes, so thank you. I really mean it.

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Mother Nature does some amazing work. This photo doesn’t even do the sunset from this evening, justice.

One of the things I love about where I live are the amazing vistas. Vistas that you don’t see the likes of on the east coast because the topography is just so different. But you also get those vistas because towns are few and far in between. National park areas or recreational areas are kind of spread out, out here. And for me, I have to admit, it’s taking some adjusting, and not necessarily in a good way. I lived on the east coast for my entire life, and there, you don’t have to drive 75 miles to get from one small town to another small town. I have to travel about 120 miles to get to the nearest decent-sized city. In Massachusetts, where I lived until last year, that kind of drive would have taken you almost completely from the easternmost side of the state to the western side of the state. Seriously. It would have. I remember well driving the MA turnpike and seeing the signs saying about “Boston – 156 miles.”

Can I be honest? I love the desert vistas, but I miss trees. When I wrote an earlier post on reflection about my time driving to home from my family in Clarkdale, AZ, I posted a picture of a gorgeous spot I found on the drive through Oak Creek. I felt comfortable there because it reminded of the woods you see back east. A friend commented that in my list of spontaneous words that came to mind as I sat there was the word “green.” She might have been onto something.

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the amazing sky over Lone Rock (picture unedited to show true colors)

At times when I lived back east, I wished for more quiet. Now that I have that quiet, in spades, I wish for more stuff to be going on, or at least, for the opportunity to have  more stuff going on. I like the simplicity of a small town – I don’t have lots of options for entertainment, so that saves me money, but god, it would be nice to have that option at the same time to go see a museum or an event or even a farmer’s market!! Really! It would be nice to have more than one option for Thai food, or more places where I could get vegan friendly food (we have two supermarkets and one of them is found in the Super Walmart.)

Things were definitely, DEFINITELY more expensive in Boston. Rent was more expensive (although the town where I live might surprise you – ahem, my apartment is $800/month), but then again the salaries were higher, or at least mine was. Vet bills were more expensive, but then again, I had the comfort of knowing that if something happened suddenly with the furballs, it was a quick uber ride or zip car rental to get me to the emergency vet. It didn’t take over two hours to drive there if the local vet’s office was closed. And that, trust me, is super scary. Taking Bonkers to the vet about 3 weeks before he died because he couldn’t poop was super scary. I had flashbacks of the night I drove Sebastian to that same vet, all the way in St. George (only 75 miles away at that time), only to arrive there and find out he had died on the way. I never want to go through something like that, again. Any parent, fur or otherwise hates to see their kid not feeling well. The fact that my kid just happened to meow to me instead of speak English, and that he had fur didn’t make it any less stressful. Parents and kids come in all shapes and sizes.

For the past few days, I’ve had this yearning to simplify my life again. Go through the clothes and really break them down even further to what is only necessary. If I was living in a Class B or a van, what would I then find to be necessary? Would I only keep about two weeks worth of clothes, or even less?

Part of me knows that to live in something so small would end up being difficult, and it would remove a lot of the creature comforts that I like about living in an apartment. Since I moved out of the RV and into the studio, I have absolutely loved being able to step into a normal size bathroom, with a normal sized shower and if I want to stand in there and let the water splash over me for a few seconds after I have washed and shampooed myself, I can do so. I know that I won’t run out of hot water within a matter of seconds. In the RV, I worried about using up too much propane in the process, and to do that meant wasting money. (Don’t get me wrong, I still take quick showers, but there is a certain luxury to knowing you could stay in there for a bit longer if you wanted to.)   RVs are notoriously poorly insulated and so I really do appreciate the thickness of the apartment walls, and how well they keep this place cool even in 100 degree heat as we have experienced the past few days. Rvs are much smaller, and thus, my animals would have much less room to roam. And I think you all know how important my furballs and their happiness and safety is to me.  Having had two of them get out from my apartment scared me shitless while they were gone and  I couldn’t find them, or get them back. Living in an RV or a Class B, I might be terrified of their escaping every time I opened the door. I couldn’t have a baby gate right inside the door as an added barrier to escaping, as I do now in the apartment.

Living in an RV again – it would force me to live even more simply, but then again, it comes with its own challenges, not to mention the fear of something breaking down and then my responsibility of having to repair it. It allows one to travel and see more sights, but it also means having to start over a lot. Starting over in new places and meeting new places, hoping again to find a community of like minded people and possibly facing the disappointment of not finding it.  My sister in law said to me the other day something to the effect that maybe there is no “one” place for me, but a lot of “this will do for now” places. She’s pretty intuitive, so maybe she’s right. I don’t know, time will tell.  But I think, for now, the RV idea is out. It’s tempting because of the romantic simplicity aspect that comes with it, but I also know it’s definitely not an easy life in the way of creature comforts.

One last thing that has me torn some days, and I have written about this a lot in the past, is whether or not to take an anti-depressant to help my anxiety. I know that it definitely helps to “level” things out, but I also want to just free my body of artificial materials like medications, as much as I can. I do take an allergy medication, and that I pretty much know I need to take (it’s over the counter so it isn’t expensive), because of the pets and pollen (yes, we get some in the desert) and dust, and well, basically fresh air, lol. I don’t want to feel like I need a crutch, and in truth, most days, I don’t. I don’t want to second guess my reactions to stressful situations. So  I seesaw back and forth. Currently, I’ve not taken it in a few weeks.

Have you ever noticed how many commercials there are on tv for various drugs, including ones that are for combating side effects of chemotherapy? Why is that, don’t you think? Is it because the pharmaceutical field wants to have us buy medications we might not need? Don’t get me wrong, I definitely needed to take prozac at one point in my life, and for that, I consider it a miracle drug, but now I question if I still need it. Many days, I ask that question and find myself saying, “nope, you don’t.”

A friend shared the following with me the other day and it was like the author was talking to me, or in my mind! I thought a lot of you might find it helpful too: What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do (by Emma While).

I’m going to leave you with a link to a post I just read titled, “If you Don’t Know What to Do With Your Life, Read This” of which the final two lines are so perfect (wish I could have come up with them, but the author, Michelle Kennedy Hogan, deserves all the credit.

“At the end of your life, you won’t regret trying things and failing, but you will regret not ever trying at all.

Close that laptop and go get your life.”

And with that,  I thank you for reading, as always. Hope you enjoyed the sunset pictures – they don’t do that actual sky justice.

 

Getting Back to Being Me

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I call this photo “Agave Gone Wild!”

“Being me.” That’s a phrase I have been struggling to figure out since I moved away from the east coast. Away from my family. Away from my adopted MA family, and my best friend who I think of as the younger sister I never had. Away from the familiar. Away from the comfortable job that paid me oh, so well. (And looking back, wow, it really, really did, I just didn’t feel like it did for the longest time, until I realized how I was wasting so much money on every day things.)  Now that I survive on so much less, it blows my mind to think about that paycheck. (Of course, I was paying a lot more on my student loans at the time.)

So when I think about what does it mean to be me, I sometimes think of what that meant in the past. And what it means now.

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Pretty amazing how close the butterflies would let you get to take a photo!

What it used to mean – 

Pre-divorce – living the conventional “good” life:  the marriage, two cars, a house, and pets.

After-divorce, still in Boston: Reminding myself that yes, I was still a desirable woman who wouldn’t be alone for the entire rest of her life. Realizing that it’s ok to be on my own, and yes, I can make it on my own. Realizing that yes, I could re-create a life for myself, and to know that it is more important to me to have a few very, very good friends than a huge gaggle or group. Working out and running a lot, finding  my own community in the exercise world.

What it means now

Now, in the southwest. I’m still figuring this one out, having changed jobs twice in six months. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I have a credit card balance again. Changing jobs from one low paying job to a better paying job (but still way less than half of what I used to make in Boston) and paying $800 in rent to be back in an apartment has taken its toll on my finances. I’ve also spent at least $750 on vet bills in the last month or so. Not that I regret any of those dollars being spent on Bonkers, I’d do it again in a heartbeat, but it does take its toll when you are trying to dig out of a hole.

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Check out the legs – I learned that butterflies taste things through their feet!

So, in terms of finances, I feel like I have taken steps backward. Right now, I am hoping for as much overtime as possible this summer so I can pay off the credit card and start making inroads into my car loan, which sits just below $7K right now. And I’m not sure if my job will be permanent through the full year, now that I won’t be the supervisor for the full time I am there. I’m worried about not having enough in savings to make it through a winter if I am not still working at the resort all year long. My credit card balances are split between one card (where the brunt of it is) that has 0% interest for 21 months, and another small balance on a card that is earning interest on anything unpaid. Needless to say that is where my focus is and I want to get it paid off within the next month to six weeks. The overtime will go straight to that one, so that I can then cancel out the card.

So, as before, money (or what I perceive as a lack thereof) takes its hold on me. I feel this need to build up the emergency savings again. I’m down to about 1K, which is less than I have had now in the past few years. But then, of course,  I used to make a lot more, so I try to remind myself to take that into account.

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I love how the agave is growing out of the mass of flowers! This was near the herb garden at the botanical garden in Phoenix.

I’m torn between loving the beauty of the area where I am, and wanting more social interaction, or wondering if maybe I just need to find a new hobby. I spend my working hours around lots of people, but when not at work, I spend most of that time on my own or with the furry ones. I sometimes crave conversation with someone other than my co-workers, or the furballs. Back when I was in Boston, I could have called up my best friend and asked if she wanted to get together. These days, I don’t have that option. We can talk on the phone, and that is certainly awesome, but I can’t see her or my loved ones in person. It’s days like these where I wonder if I should move back toward the east coast. I could be on the same time zone as them again. But to do that, it kind of feels like I am giving up, and way too soon, on this adventure in life I’m on now. I know it’s not time.

Consequently, when I think like that, I wonder if it’s also the “physical closeness” of communities on the east coast that I am missing. By “physical closeness” I mean the fact that on the east coast, you don’t have to drive for 75 miles to get from one community to another. And it’s normal to have a store like a CVS or Walgreen’s as a pharmacy, rather than having to go to a grocery store like a Walmart. So, is it just a bigger city that I want, I wonder? 

Or is it a sense of community that I miss? Is that it? Back in Boston, I had my “library” community, and my “gym” community, and my “friend” community, not to mention my family (my brother and sister in law) and my younger brother just a quick trip away (he lives  in NYC and used to come up for visits a fair amount.)

If you’ve ever been single and moved to a new place while single, you know what it’s like. It’s different when you are part of a couple. You always have that built-in support if you are part of a duo. As a single, you don’t have that. You have to really put yourself out there to meet people. I’ve started to volunteer at the animal shelter but that’s not a huge place like the Animal Rescue League was in Boston, where there were tons of people coming in every weekend to volunteer and adopt animals. The times I’ve been there, it’s just been the animals and two volunteers or so. But I’ve enjoyed my walks with the very energetic doggies I’ve accompanied and who were clearly happy to have someone paying attention to them.

I was just in Phoenix last night for a wedding and went to the Desert Botanical Garden and the Butterfly Wonderland earlier today. (I will write up separate posts about them so I can really share a lot of the pictures.) There were lots of people working there and volunteering. Living in a much more remote area, we don’t have those types of places to go to, or volunteer. I was talking to folks at the wedding last night about the differences between living in a city like Boston vs. where I am now, and I said “you know, it’s not like I went to museums all the time when I was there, either, but I always knew I could if I wanted to. That was the difference.”  The thought of this got me to thinking. Is the grass always greener on the other side? Will I always want something I don’t have? Or is it just the conveniences of having many choices that I miss sometimes?

However, driving to these places today, I spent time on the freeways of Phoenix as well as the crowded city streets, and then I realized there is definitely one thing I don’t miss about living in a city and that is, wait for it… traffic. And then I drove out of the city and into the country and once again saw the wide open expanses that I am now so used to. I remembered a statement from a friend at the wedding who has lived out in the southwest now for many years – she said that when she travels back to upstate NY or the east coast, she feels claustrophobic. Everything is so close together, she said, and it feels like she can’t breathe. I haven’t been back east yet to test this theory, but we shall see if the same applies to me. With my finances, it doesn’t look like that will happen until next year when my brother is getting married in Naples, Florida!

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The difference in colors (and in some butterflies, translucence or lack of color) is so striking. This doesn’t do this butterfly justice.

This has been a long, rambling post, for which I apologize. But it’s helpful to get my thoughts on “paper” and I am liking writing more again. It’s part of the process of once again, getting back to Being Me.

As always, thank you for reading and commenting. I really do enjoy comments and responding back to them, so thank you.

 

Adjusting….again

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Can’t remember when this was taken, but I love looking at these rocks/cliffs across the lake.

Six months ago, I didn’t think I’d be in this spot of being the “newbie” all over again, but I am. I got in my car, drove cross country with five cats, and all my stuff, and my dog Osito on my lap (yes, it was INSANE), and thought “this is it, this is THE big move. The one that  changes my life.”

Well, it did. And it was A big move, but not the last one ever. But it got me closer to where I am today, so yes, it did change my life. Just not in all the ways I thought it would.

People ask me why I moved cross country to an area where I pretty much knew no one. People asking sometimes sound like they don’t understand how I could do that, or that they think I’m brave for doing it, or that they think I’m crazy, “Oh, I could NEVER do that…” And I realize when I start telling my story (I’ve tried to abbreviate for folks as much as possible but inevitably, when the words “Harvard Law” come out of my mouth, there’s a bunch more questions that follow), just how crazy it sounds. Leave a job at a premier law school where I was making more money than I had ever made, using both advanced degrees I am still paying for (and likely always will be until I hit retirement age or die), to take care of animals who poop all day (an average of 360 times, to be exact), and then start working at a campground as a supervisor. I now have much more responsibility than I think I ever have in a job before (except for maybe when I was a lawyer and that came with its own sort of craziness.) It does sound a bit insane, doesn’t it? 

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Photo taken at the “bewitching” hour, i.e. right before sunrise. 

So I find myself again not completely sure of what I am doing at work, but as I mentioned to one of my team leads yesterday, I have learned to embrace change more than i ever had before the past year. I used to be afraid to take chances. To make big choices and then deal with the consequences. I was most DEFINITELY afraid of failure.

This is not to say that any of that doesn’t scare me now. It still does. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. It’s just that I can put things in a different sort of perspective. I told my Team Lead that whereas before, something might have super stressed me out, I now try to think to myself as to whether something will still really matter a year from now. Or, I think of the changes I’ve made in my life in the past year and try to compare the change or choice I am about to make, and see how they match up. And, not for nothing, but I’m 43, and I keep hearing about health problems that some of my former high school classmates are going through or have gone through, how many have already died. So, it kind of puts things in perspective.

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My most recent pre-sunrise photo. Made getting up so early so worth it.

 

I will admit I’m a bit nervous about doing a good job at the job I’m at now. There is a ton to remember – everyone keeps telling me eventually it will all make sense. (I hope that’s the case, like how all of a sudden the mental block I had about giving sub-Q fluids and keeping the needles sterile, gave way, and I  “got it.” Now it seems like second nature to me to give fluids to Bonkers.)

Someone will show me how to do something and at the time it’s explained to me, it makes sense and I can do it. But trying to retain it all is a bit daunting. At times, I feel like a brand new reference librarian all over again – like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights, I might freeze when you asked me the simplest question.  Or, how I used to freeze when anyone asking a question would involve business terminology like stocks, equities, securities. You could ask me to find a law or treaty for you in a language I couldn’t read, no problem. But ask me a business-related question and I would sheepishly call for help from my old officemate who was super patient with me all the time. (God, thinking about her now, I really miss her a lot.)  Sorry, tangent there for a minute….

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I took this a few hours before a storm rolled in. Just loved seeing the weirdness of the colors of the sky. I thought it almost looked the color that a sky would look before a tornado hits. Also loved how dark blue the lake appeared. I’ve always been enamored with storms.

I’ve been trying to calm myself down when moments of panic or self-doubt occur, by remembering I used to be a reference librarian, and if I do so say so, a damn good one too. I was  persistent in finding things, even when I had very little to go on sometimes.  I felt confident in my skills. And now, well, it’s just hard being the one asking all the questions again, not having the answers, and knowing that at the same time, I will have people looking to me for answers. I’m going to have people reporting to me who are trying to figure me out, what kind of boss/supervisor I am going to be. Maybe that is the part that stresses me out the most, knowing I will have people looking to me to be a leader, while I’m still trying to figure out just what the hell I am doing, and how to navigate the large organization I’ve just joined. Maybe. Or maybe it’s just not feeling like I have my feet firmly planted underneath me just yet. 

I’ve always been a straight shooter and one thing I’ve never been is the person who plays politics. I don’t kiss up to people, that is just NOT in my nature. But I know that others do, and I know that others will try to stab you in the back. Some friends in the past have faulted me for being too trusting. Maybe I am, but I would hate to be cynical and negative all the time as the alternative.

One thing I am not used to doing is saying “no” to people. When you work at Harvard Law, you don’t say no to professors often. There are always rules and there are always exceptions to the rule that are granted. As a librarian, you always want to do your very best to satisfy the patron. You look and look and look for the answer, or the way to show them how to find the answer him/herself. I know I will sometimes have to say “no” to staff and their requests and/or a customer (although  I will try my best to accommodate as many as I can.)

The girl training me at my job is the outgoing supervisor and a person with whom I wish I had spent more time working. She’s very cool and seems to really have the respect of the people underneath her. She works very hard also. She told me I am doing well and that she thinks I might be placing too much stress on myself right now. But that’s the Type A personality in me that got me through law school. The part of me that always feels like I need to work harder than anyone else, just to stay up there with them. It’s the part of me that always felt, when training for a marathon, like I had to run just one more mile more than anyone else. I really did. Ask my training partner from back then. Some days we would have 14 miles on the training plan and I would tell myself to go home and run just one more.

I know things will eventually calm down. If you’ve read all the way through this, then you’re either on a mission from God, or a glutton for punishment. Either way, I thank you.

I do hope you have enjoyed some of the photos sprinkled throughout this post. I’ve been running a lot more lately, with the gorgeous sunrises that I am treated to almost every morning.

And now, I’m going to take a deep breath and hit “publish.” Some posts are just cathartic for me to write, whether or not they ever get read by anyone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As always, thank you for reading.

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Thankful

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Yep, another pic from Zion. This is from a location that is east of the big tunnel. 

The other day I wrote how I’ve been feeling kind of down lately. It definitely helped to get it out onto paper (or in this case, the screen.) I also decided to write down a list of things that I was thankful for, as I figured that would make me realize how good things really are. You know, look at the glass as hall full, not half empty. So here is what I came up with, and it’s not in a particular order of importance.

  1. my animals and their good health
  2. a roof over my head
  3. a job that pays my bills (barely, but I do live frugally)
  4. warm clothes
  5. warm bed to sleep on
  6. my car runs reliably
  7. neighbors who look out for me
  8. my family is in good health (relatively, anyway)
  9. my best friend, Sarita
  10. my writing ability
  11. the full tank of gas that was in my car at the time
  12. I have friends that care about me
  13. I can choose where I want to be next year
  14. I can walk and breathe fresh air.

In addition to all of this, I had a really good conversation earlier this week with someone who has offered to mentor me with my writing. Out of the goodness of her heart. I’ve had people come out of the blue, just from reading my blog, offering to help me, in various ways. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.

Thank you so much to everyone who read my last post and responded and offered support and encouragement. It helped a ton. Even though I’ve talked about depression and other things on this blog, I was still very afraid to write that post. There is still always this stigma about it. But it always helps me to write about it and get it out. Cathartic, in a way. And also, I got more back into my gym routine this week and it helped. One of the regular ladies there in the mornings reads my blog and we had a good talk.

It’s important to always be thankful, isn’t it?

Thank you for reading, as always.

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