My Environmental Ethics requires us to go on four field trips in our neck of the woods. The goal is to remain in the present for at least 30 minutes. No cell phones. No thoughts of what happened earlier today or what can happen tonight. When you find your thoughts drifting away from the present, you do your best to bring them back to the here and now. Try and use all of your senses: sight, smell, touch, hear, etc. Our assignment limits us to the number of words, and I’m finding I’m embracing those limits rather than fighting them. One of my fellow students said I should publish them somehow and he would want to read one of them every day to reconnect himself to nature. So, I thought I would do so here, in the hope that it can have some beneficial effect to those of you reading it.
Our assignment limits us to the number of words, and I’m finding I’m embracing those limits rather than fighting them. So without further adieu, here goes nothing, er, my first field trip.
Yesterday, I took a field trip to the section of the Bosque knowns as Tingley Beach. The Bosque is a wooded area located along the banks of the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It stretches for miles with lots of dirt paths for walkers, runners, bikers, and nature enthusiasts. Usually, I run there. But yesterday, I decided I would just sit and observe.
I wonder – what made me choose this spot? Because it’s familiar? But, I’ve never sat here on a log and just looked and listened while not moving. There are so many wild sunflowers growing here, some out of what appears to be dead, inhospitable wood accumulated on the ground. How did all these dead tree branches come to be here on the ground? Were they cut down? No, they’re too randomly placed. Did they break off in the wind? That seems more likely, given the winds we have here in Albuquerque, a high desert city.
The breeze blows through the green leaves of the tall cottonwoods above me. I’m comforted by it, even though I can tell by its ferocity that a rainstorm might be coming. I welcome that. To the south are dark clouds. To the north are white puffy clouds that seem to be speeding effortlessly through the sky because of that strong wind. The sun keeps peeking in and out from among the dark clouds, alternately warming and cooling my body.
Sitting quietly, I start to hear the sounds of birds chirping. I hear one chirp, then another, and then a third, all from different locations. They are of different types; each chirp is unique. And are those crickets or cicadas I hear? I love the sound of them, but seeing them in person freaks me out. I’m not a fan of big bugs.
I hear the sounds of civilization off in the distance: traffic noise, a plane flying overhead, the sounds of humans along the dirt path. The humans are close enough that we could both see each other, but they’re too engrossed in their conversations or own thoughts to notice me sitting amongst the cottonwoods. And I am grateful because I want to be left alone to observe, to feel, to hear, to smell. I’m irritated by the intrusion.
I realize I haven’t seen a single bug crawling along the log on which I sit. Surprising, because I usually see them everywhere on the path when I run. And this is the woods! As if I willed it into existence, one appears, and it’s time for me to shift positions. I take a seat on the ground near the sunflowers. I can see the honeybees darting from one flower to the next. But I don’t hear them making a sound. Funny, I thought this was grass, but it feels more like straw. Looking closer, I notice it covers the dead branches and twigs found below it. It’s uncomfortable, and it’s time for me to go, so I walk toward the river.
If this post touches you somehow, please share it. And thank you for reading.
Remember when you were a kid and your parents had you write out thank you letters after you received a gift for your birthday or a holiday like Hanukkah or Christmas? Have you ever gotten a thank you note from someone out of the blue for something you did at your job, and you’re like, “I was just doing my job, wow!”
When I was at Harvard, I kept all of the thank you notes I received, even via email, and posted them on my wall near my desk. I liked to think of it as my wall of positivity. When I was having a very bad day, I’d look at the wall and remind myself, “THIS is why I do what I do.” Sometimes students would see the notes and remark on them, and tell me that it made them feel even more comfortable meeting and talking with me.
I had a great Zoom meeting with my faculty advisor this morning and felt really inspired afterward. We talked about how I can use my writing skills in humane education and she gave me lots of ideas and suggestions. I remember a comment she made on one of my assignments – had I ever thanked the Creative Writing teacher I had in college? And I thought of my work study job I had in college, where a true gentleman by the name of Carl G. Martin was my supervisor and ran the Office of Student Services. I’ve thought of writing to him and thanking him for the influence he had on me in my college years. But I’ve not done it. So, that ends today.
There are many people I want to thank for how they have positively changed my life. But today, I’m going to start with just one, and I would like to encourage any of you to send me your thank you letters and I will gladly post them here. Maybe you want to thank someone who is no longer with us, or someone you have no idea how to find or reach. You will receive all the credit, of course. I won’t edit them, I promise.
So here it goes, my first thank you letter, to my friend David B.
Thank you for having been my friend for the past 12 years. Thank you for always being such a calming, positive influence (even when you didn’t think you were.) Thank you for always be willing to sit and listen and then answer probing, thought-provoking questions in a non-judgmental way. Thank you for being “that poor bastard who had to deal with you for more than eight hours a day for two years, sharing an office with you!” (That’s what my now ex-hb said at one point, and I remember telling you, and laughing about it.)
Thank you for being that friend who was willing to sit across a table from me the night before I left my marriage. You held my hand as I sobbed, hysterically at times, not being able to catch my breath. I remember you giving me a key to your apartment in case I needed a place to stay. You didn’t say much that night, and I suspect you knew you didn’t need to. I just needed to know I wasn’t alone. I needed to know I wasn’t a horrible person, and that I was loved, even though what I was contemplating doing was ripping me up inside.And you let me know that I would be okay. It might take time, but I would be okay.
Thank you for watching me grow these past several years and for supporting my newest quest to start a master’s program at the young old age of 44, and not calling me insane for doing so. Thank you for understanding that like you, I need to constantly be learning to be happy with my life. Thank you for writing one of my recommendation letters for that program and for talking with me for quite a while beforehand, again, asking those great questions you always do.
Thank you for being that type of friend, who, when we talk, it’s like we just saw each other yesterday. Thank you for loving me as only a friend like that would.
If you would like to email me a letter or write one as a guest post, you can email me at chasingsimpledreams AT gmail.com. Or, please feel free to drop a comment on the blog with your email (the email is not shared or shown publicly), and I will gladly post it for you.
It’s my hope to get an atmosphere of gratitude flowing around those of us interacting here or reading the blog. When you’re grateful, it colors your whole world in a very positive light.
Hi everyone! Just wanted to let you know I’m alive and well, and the truth is, I’ve missed writing here. So I’m back with an update.
I wrote in July (I think it was then) that I was considering getting a Master’s of Arts in Humane Education. It’s something my heart has wanted to do but the wallet kept screaming “Are you insane?? Hell NO!” Can you guess which one won that battle??
Yep, the heart. And I’m very glad it did. I have two wonderful friends, David and Claudia, who also know me from my professional life, who agreed to write letters of recommendation for me. At first, I had trouble starting the personal statement, so I did what I do with this blog when the writing just isn’t flowing. I put it away, knowing the right thoughts would come to me if I didn’t rush them. And they did. I then had an interview with the Director of the program and she very quickly put me at ease, saying that based on my application, my letters of recommendation, and my personal statement, which she loved, she was recommending my admission to the program, and then we had a nice conversation during which I asked lots of questions about the program and she asked me some probing ones as well.
Right now, I’m taking Introduction to Humane Education, which is taught by the Director of the Program, who coincidentally, is also my faculty advisor, and who seems like an incredibly warm and supportive person. I’m also taking Environmental Ethics (EE). Next semester, I’ll be taking Animal Protection, and you can all bet that I’m sitting on pins and needles, waiting for that class to start.
My program is entirely online except for a week long residence in Maine that I will either do this coming summer or the following one. The teachers are very good at keeping the class involved, and in my EE, the cohort of students is very active and supportive, and I think I have found at least a few possibly kindred spirits among them. While the writing assignments are shorter than I’m used to, I’m finding them to be a good challenge in learning how to say what I want to say as concisely, and really thinking about which words to cut out, and what kind of message am I actually conveying.
I’ve also been somewhat busy with transcribing projects for my friend Elaine over the past couple of months. They’ve made for some very busy days when combined with applying to school, and then starting classes. I’ve been working out pretty regularly (mainly running) except for the past two weeks when I sensed my body needed a break and also I had a lot going on. My roommate has taken over a lot of (okay, pretty much all) of the dog walking responsibilities with Morgan and has been training her on some great obedience skills. Snuggles has become quite protective of me and claimed me as HIS, so Morgan has claimed my roomie as hers. They’re best buds and it’s very heartwarming to see her go over and give him a hug several times a day.
In my personal statement to the IHE, I stated that I wanted to use my writing in combination with the degree. I haven’t yet figured out what exact form that will take, but I do believe more writing on this blog is a part of it. I just have to make it a priority, and return to that, I shall. I need to get on a regular posting schedule, and I’ve thought about doing a series of inspiring links on a regular (possibly, weekly) basis. They could highlight positive, affirming websites that detail good deeds being done in this world, great podcast episodes that have had an effect on me, or videos, etc. There is just so much negativity in this world that I feel like we need something like that to be able to count on, don’t you?!
And finally, I’m heading to Canada for 5 days next weekend and I absolutely cannot wait, for so many reasons! (You’ll just have to wait and see about that….)
Anyway, for the few of you out there hanging in there with me and still reading this blog, I thank you. It ain’t over yet. 🙂
By the way, if you’re shopping on Amazon, please do me a favor and click on my Amazon Affiliate link on the right hand side of this page. It costs nothing to you, but I might make a few pennies for your having done so 🙂
Yesterday was July 4th, Independence Day! I know a few more active duty folks this year, and living so close to an air force base, I am reminded of the sacrifices that a lot of folks do every day so that the rest of us can live our lives out the way we want to. (Even if for some of us, that means living the “American dream” even if it makes them unhappy. The point is we get to choose what our lives look like.) So to those of you currently serving, or who have served, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
After working an 11 hour day on Monday and facing a 10+ hour today, I decided to do something for myself yesterday morning, and go for a run in the Bosque. Being at such a high altitude, and an arid climate, ABQ can have some wide temperature fluctuations every day. I try to do my runs around 6 or 7 because usually the temps are in the 60s, but it’s a dry air, so it’s perfect running weather in my opinion. And yesterday was no exception.
The road near the Bosque was closed for an “event” and it turns out it was a road race!! It’s funny but part of me misses running races, and part of me doesn’t. For one thing, they can really add up financially, and I am definitely not the speedster I used to be. It could be the altitude slowing me down, or my age, or just that my focus has shifted from always wanting to go faster, faster, faster, to now focusing on how I feel when I’m out there on a run. It used to be about competition with others and myself. It’s not anymore (and in fact, I find that running with my Garmin now stresses me out as I’m looking at the distance run, and the pace is so much slower than it used to be that I start to feel down on myself, and it takes the joy out of it.)
When I found myself breathing too heavily yesterday and stopped for a quick walk to catch my breath, I caught myself from going down that negative pathway I used to go, whereby I would berate myself or feel discouraged for having to “stop” and walk. Instead, I said aloud (I really did, and yes, I can be such a dork at times), “That’s not what today’s run is about. Today is about feeling good, enjoying nature, and having this time to myself.” And you know what? Talking aloud to yourself can really help sometimes. I found myself smiling. And then I picked up the running again.
Yesterday was unique in that normally I run with music (my phone strapped to my arm but no headphones, so I can hear if bikers come up behind me.) Well, yesterday, I mistakenly left the armband at home. So it was running with just the thoughts in my head and the sounds of the breeze rippling through the trees around me, and birds flying in the air, with the occasional greeting of “good morning” or “Happy Fourth of July” when I infrequently saw someone else on the trails. I understood what others have meant when they’ve said that sometimes running without music can be a meditative experience. It’s just you, your body and your thoughts.
Yesterday, I thought of all the times I’ve said I WANT to do something. Like, I WANT to write more. Or I WANT to do more transcription work and have more money to pay off bills at the end of the month. Or I WANT to simplify my life even more.
You know what? You can WANT or desire things all you want, but until you put your money where your mouth is, that’s all IT is, a THOUGHT. I’ve always been so afraid to write and try to get paid for it. I look at other published works (either self-published or traditional) and think “THIS someone got paid for?” or “this person decided to do something and did it, and here I’m paying money for it.” I COULD DO THAT if only I could get over myself and my self-doubt. I need to stop THINKING and start DOING.
I was also thinking, I like my job, but it’s not something I want to do forever. There are certain parts of it that I love – getting to see some of the cute dogs and cats, (and yes, even avians or funny reptiles like bearded dragons), but some of it can be really monotonous too, like running credit cards through the machine over and over again. I do feel like I’m good in the euthanasia situations that we face just about every day, and think I do a good job with comforting the owners, or at the very least, making the situation at least a little less horrible for them. And yes, I’m seeing animals hands-on.
But I’m also seeing that so much of it is a business. So many times I answer the phone and hear someone in tears or close to it, about their pet, and hear them say that they can’t afford the treatment that they know their pet needs. Or I’m ringing up credit cards for several hundred dollars or even more. And after a while, it’s like when I worked at a bank, you don’t see the numbers as real money. It’s just another figure. And then I think to myself, if I didn’t work here and didn’t get the huge employee discount I do have, I would be one of those people on the phone, in tears, wondering how to pay for their care and still afford rent and food for that month. In a city like ABQ, where people don’t make a lot, it’s a call I hear way too often.
I have a brain and I want to use it more. Many of you might remember that I first moved to ABQ because I wanted to be a vet tech. After working in an animal hospital now for about 7 months or so, I don’t think so, anymore. I think the pace at my hospital is very stressful for a lot of the techs and employees (we see emergency cases all day and all night long), and I’ve heard some of the animals crying back in treatment or in ICU and the techs have to deal with that much more up close and personal than I do. They’re the ones restraining the animal who is scared or confused or hurt, or holding the oxygen hose over its mouth to try and stabilize it. I see the stress on their faces and the toll it takes.
It could just be that it’s the “hospital” side of things that has made me change my mind on being a tech. Working on the sanctuary side of things is a very different aspect to animal care. You have a different mission in mind. I’m still figuring these differences out in my mind and learning what makes me tick when it comes to animals and creating my life (financial and otherwise) around them.
I always have so many plans each day as to what I want to get done – I want to exercise, and write, and do more freelance work, and some days I’m super motivated, and then some nights I get home, and am so mentally exhausted that I just sit and stare at the wall. Or pet my own babies and then go to sleep.
Being in a hospital setting, even one with animals, can be very stressful. People can be short with one another, and I try to remind myself on a daily basis, and sometimes several times during the day, not to take the shortness or abruptness of others’ attitudes personally. But I’ll be honest. I am human, and sometimes I get pissed off. Luckily, I now have a roommate who I came home and vented to the other night. (Yep, I’ve got an air mattress in the living room and things seem to be working out well so far. I’ve set up the mattress so it doubles as a couch.) It is a guy roommate and he could tell just by the way I walked in the door that I needed some down time and quite frankly, needed to bitch about some things.
So today when I go into work, the day after the Fourth of July, when I am sure we will be slammed with folks picking up their fur babies from boarding, or folks calling to see if someone has found their pet who escaped last night, freaked out from fireworks, and having our busiest vet on the schedule, and just the usual amount of walk-ins, I will try to remind myself to take a moment and breathe. Don’t take the stress that others are pouring out and onto me, personally. Realize that not everyone has the same coping skills that I have tried to hone over the past few years. Realize it’s a job. And that yes, I did give up my past life to take on these new roles willingly, and realize it’s not going to be where I spend the rest of my life. And as one of my coworkers once said to me, “be like a duck, and let it all wash over you.”
And remember, I can come home. I do have a roof over my head. I can hug my furballs. I can pull out this laptop and write here or in my personal journal. I can take control of my finances and look for second and third jobs (the paper route didn’t work out, I will discuss that in a later post). And use my skills and smarts to change my life if I don’t like the direction in which it’s going. If I’ve learned nothing else over the past few years, it’s that I CAN make changes, I don’t have to stay stuck in one place, or in one job, or in a role that I think others perceive I should be doing.
I realize this post might seem to have been quite a ramble, but it’s also been quite the therapeutic one for me. Hopefully, there’s a point in it that can provide someone else reading it, with some clarity. For me, I’m glad to have gotten up early to complete it, and to now still have time to get some transcription done, or to complete my profile on flexjobs so I can look for some more side work to fill in the gaps.
I hope that you will have a good day after the fourth, and as always, to the very few of you out there still reading, thank you for doing so. 🙂
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.
Why Tuesdays? Well, I know on Monday we all have to get back to work. By Tuesday, we’ve caught up and if we work in an office, we might have some time to take a few moments and check out blogs or whatever else we like to surf on the net. So, I hope that this post will be a good distraction for you and if you’re reading it in the morning, help you get your day started on a good note. And I promise to keep them short!
They will include some new links of possible interest to you, thoughts about things for which I am thankful (it used to be its own series on this blog, so this is my way of bringing those back to life), and possibly different perspectives to help you get through the day. Hope you like this new series!
By the way, if you need some cuteness overload, check out my new blog page:The Herd. Yep, there you will find pics of my awesome furballs.
If you’re sitting at your desk, and not loving your job, think of it this way – you are earning a paycheck, and outside of work, you can work on changing our work situation. Spend some time updating the resume, or take time to research into other options, even if it’s only on your lunch break. If you feel stuck, take at least one small step today to make yourself unstuck. It’s empowering. Trust me. For me, I’m grateful to at least have money coming into my life that allows me to put a roof over my head and that of my pets. I just need to stay disciplined, and it can help me to save money for my new future that I’m envisioning right now.
I’m very thankful that my family (my older brother and his family) have been able to travel to the southwest for a week. They are spending a few days in Lake Powell, and then heading to Flagstaff on Tuesday. I’ll be hanging out with them for the day! It has been over a year since I saw them.
As I’ve been trying to gain control of my financial life, I’ve started seeking out others who write about this field and came across some awesome podcasts: Budgets and Cents, and Martinis and Your Money. Both make me feel like I’m listening to a conversation between friends, and I’ve definitely been binge listening! The latter had an amazing episode called Frugality for Depressives. Having struggled with depression, it really hit home and the lady she interviewed had some really insightful comments.
Sometimes you need a little inspiration or to see beautiful things to help you get through your day – I hope you enjoy these two photography blogs that I’ve just added to my links (can’t believe I didn’t do it before): Adventures of Dorrie Ann and Joyfully Green.
Like I said above, check out the newest page on this blog, The Herd!!
As I said, I want to keep these posts brief, so I hope you will all have a good Tuesday! If you have anything you are thankful for in your life right now, please feel free to drop a line below and let me know what it is! And if there are some good links you want to share with others, please do that too!
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.
This 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?
By the way, I’ve made a few small changes to the appearance of the page – what do you think?
Even this post has been like pulling teeth, trying to think of how to put into words what I have been feeling lately…
I started writing it a few weeks ago. One morning, I decided to not go for a run, but opted for a good walk to a “sit and just be” spot off the beaten path about a five minute drive from where I live. I did not take my phone with me, because I didn’t want to be torn from the present moment while I was there. But I didn’t go so far that I couldn’t get back to my car on my own volition if something happened. And therein lies one of the things I am torn about in life right now.
I think a lot of us feel these internal pushings and pullings inside ourselves but don’t feel like we can talk about them. If you’re unhappy about something, you don’t always feel like you can complain or vocalize it, especially if from all outward signs, it looks like everything in your life is going all so swimmingly well. So, I hope this post can help some of you out there who might feel the same. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know I’m not afraid to share uncomfortable things sometimes. Even if no one ever reads that post, it helps me to get it out there.
A friend of mine asked me last night if I was doing ok – he thought I sounded like I was feeling down a bit lately. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my life, what really drives me. I’m trying to figure out what is going on in the present, and trying to be present in the moment, but also working on what could make me happier in the future. Looking back, I feel like I may have made some rash decisions, or had tunnel vision, but then when i look at those decisions in a different light, then I think, “well maybe not so much. It did take me over a year to figure out where to move when I finally decided Boston was not the place for me.”
I’m torn about a few things lately:
1.I found out I am able to work full time at the resort through the winter. I’m thrilled about that for financial reasons – I know it will allow me to keep earning a salary and be able to save a bit of $ right now while also paying down my credit card debt (yes, I have a balance now I can’t pay off within a month, I’ll write about it in a separate post.) While I like working in a place that is absolutely gorgeous and a place that some folks only get to spend their vacation at, it’s not a job which I see as being the one I would want to do for the rest of my days on this earth.
I love some of my coworkers and the people we take care of, who, for the most part, are really good and appreciative of our efforts. However, occasionally, I hear someone complaining and I find myself wanting to smack them upside the head and say to them “don’t you realize you have such a BLESSED life? You’re not dying of some terminal disease, you’re able to afford your vacation, so stop complaining that the person’s camper next to you is too close, or you don’t have enough seclusion or enough shade in just the right few square inches of space where you want it, or the wifi isn’t strong enough!!! You’re on vacation! You’re getting to do something not everyone gets to do, and you’re in a campground, not out in the wilderness, for god’s sake!!!” (Phew, that felt good to get out!! But then I feel guilty for having judged them in such a way because I wonder, is it our society turning people into ingrates?) On the other hand, I just finished reading When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi, about a neursurgeon who ended up with lung cancer that spread to his brain and died within 22 months. I really want to recommend that book to everyone, and especially those who seem to complain about the smallest, most minute problems. It gives you an entirely new perspective on how lucky so many of us are in life.
In our store, we sell lots of prepackaged items. As I read more about our environment and global climate change, and conscious consumerism, the effects of garbage on all of these issues, it kills me a little bit inside every time I sell something that is contributing to those problems. I realize those problems are not gonna go away overnight, but how can I start doing something to slow down or reduce those problems? It’s a huge company so I don’t think they would take kindly to one of their employees telling people “you know, you really shouldn’t be eating meat for this, that and another reason….” So, I shut my mouth on those issues and sell them what they want and thank them for their business. But I think I am going to talk to the person who is in charge of the retail side and see if we can work with more vendors willing to provide different alternatives that are more healthy. Right now, I think there’s only one that has some healthy alternatives, so I’ve been steadily trying to buy from her for our merchandise.
I spent a few hours online yesterday morning, looking into certificate programs and other programs related to fields where I could see myself genuinely invested – natural resource policy and management (my love of trees and the outdoors, so then I got thinking about forestry related degrees), sustainability, as well as animal welfare and of course, voluntary simplicity or minimalism. I get excited at the thought of learning about these areas, but then I get frustrated when I see how much they will cost in terms of money (my big concern) and time investment (I’m already 43, how much more schooling can I truly handle, if any?) I can’t really afford to take out more loans (huge understatement) so then I think of looking at internships, etc., but those can be costly in that I would need to (1) relocate at least temporarily and (2) be able to live on a very small stipend, if there is any. With pets of my own to care for, and my student loans and car payment to worry about, it is very hard to make those numbers work. But I’m gonna keep trying and looking and thinking of solutions.
So here is what I have come up with so far. I know this blog doesn’t have a lot of readers (the stats don’t lie) but I plan to start writing on a variety of issues that are near and dear to me. I will have to start networking (at least online) somehow, connecting with others who feel the same way, and maybe get the word out that way. Every minute I’m online, I am using up precious cell data to connect to the internet via my chromebook, so it makes me use my time online in a more concerted manner.
The same friend who asked me if I was ok (he’s so awesome, please show him some love by checking out his youtube channel: Wander Dano) said he thought maybe I taken the step forcing myself to find myself, by all the changes I have made, rather than just staying in one place and being “meh” about my life. I know he meant it as a compliment, and I think he is right. I have definitely done that, and many days, I wish it was easier to deal with, but then again, I think by the rough times or times when I doubt myself, that is when I learn the most. Right?
If you’ve been a faithful reader of my blog, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and hope you will stick with me. And if you are new, well, welcome, and I hope you will stick around as I continue searching for what makes me happy, what makes me feel like I’m here on this earth for a reason, and what that reason is. In other words, “what is my why?”
I just wish I had a better handle sometimes on what are my simple dreams.
Any thoughts and comments on this post are greatly appreciated, as with all the others.
I drove home earlier today from the Clarkdale, AZ area. It’s south of Sedona and Flagstaff. Everyone told me to be sure I didn’t drive on the major highway, but to instead take the drive along Oak Creek. And I’m so glad I did. The drive reminded me more of the east coast types of woods I am used to. I saw the creek flowing and was able to sit under the trees and listen to the breeze rustle their leaves, the way the breeze used to ruffle the leaves of the trees near the reservoir back in Boston. I remembered what it felt like to lay down on my back under the trees and see them swaying above me, and then how it felt to take a picture of them with my cell phone pointed up toward the sky.
Today’s drive was about more than taking the scenic way home. It was about remembering and realizing anew what makes me happy. Being one with nature, and using as many of my senses as I can to appreciate it. I looked, really looked, at the greenness of the leaves around me. I listened to the creek babbling as the water fell and flowed downward past me. I smelled the air around me and the freshness and slight dampness to it that you just don’t get in the Lake Powell area (unless a storm has just moved through, which is rare.) While I sat there, I finished my organic green superfood drink I had just bought at the natural grocers store – a brand I had never had before but would like to get again. I felt good about consuming it, knowing it will only do good for my insides.
I took a small notebook down with me to the side of the creek. I wanted to write whatever just came to me, and here’s what I wrote.
What do I need?
What makes me happy?
What gives me peace?
Then I just started writing thoughts as they came to me, and in no particular order. I didn’t want to censor myself. I’ve put brackets around a few of them just to give you some context.
being in a health food store like I just was, with so many vegan choices so I could be more true to my principles
eating green again
hearing the birds outside
hearing the water rush downstream
being able to write again
remembering this feeling when I am no longer here [i knew i would want to recreate it for myself]
having these trees provide shade to me, and so much more.
lots and lots of trees.
sound of wind through the trees
feeling after a really good run, when you feel like you could go on forever [thinking of what used to make me happy and wondering if it could, again]
familiar [the comfort you can sometimes draw from the familiar, whether it’s people, or surroundings, etc.]
beauty in the simple
being alone to learn about myself and not feel like i am lacking
[being or feeling] centered
having a goal
having something to focus on
feeling like no one else is around
feeling that i never want to leave
being true to myself
the smell of the woods
the smell in the air right before a storm
my animals and how excited they get to see me
seeing my family and reconnecting with them again
taste of ginger
taste of real food (and yes, I even underlined it at that time when I wrote it)
idea that i could come back here again so easily
the color green, from leaves
not having waste
eating raw, but also pasta [they had so many good raw vegan foods in the natural grocers store, but i realize i really, really love pasta! and that is ok!]
knowing i needed to stop [on the road]
taking the time to stop [following my feelings]
the beauty of a spring day
can do whatever you want to do and set your heart to
So there you have it – my stream of consciouness. I may not have been in what is known as one of the four vortexes that are in Sedona but I feel like sitting by that stream, the place just called to me. I could have stopped anywhere along the road, but I decided to stop there. And then I heard the water, and then I knew I had to go sit by the stream or creek. I knew i would also know when I was ready to move on, and I did.
I hope that each and every one of you can have an experience like this, or have some time to be introspective, if it helps you. I didn’t originally want three days off in a row but now I am so grateful to have had them. It allowed me to spend more time with my oldest brother and his wife than just quickly at the wedding, and it gave me the time to drive home slowly today, to see the beauty around me and really take it all in.
And today, I am feeling better about things and myself. And I’m really thinking about what I want to be the NEW Me. As someone said in a comment to my last post, sometimes it’s not about going back to who you were, but becoming who you are now. And embracing it.
Thank you as always for reading, especially since this makes two posts two days in a row!!
Hi folks, just wanted to let everyone know I’ve not forgotten about the blog this week, but I’ve been really trying to get my writing going, book-wise. So I’ve been getting up early, like usual, about 4-4:30 a.m., and instead of going to the gym every day, have sat at my chromebook and let whatever thoughts I had in my head come out onto paper. It’s very hard to not edit myself all the time, but that’s a skill I am working on shutting down.
The good news is that I have two different projects going. The first is a non-fiction one, self-help, kind of work. Also, a fiction book. Not sure which one will win out and be my first finished project, but we shall see. I’m finding that the more I write, the more I want to write. However, I still find it more difficult to fill up a blank sheet of paper, or white screen, than with my blog editor. With my blog, I find the words sometimes flow much more freely.
So, stay tuned, as I plan to put up a few posts very shortly about some other hikes I’ve done in the past months at Bryce Canyon National Park and at Zion National Park. Also, I have some great photos of Lake Powell I can’t wait to share with you (above is a teaser). I’m so lucky that these places are so easily photographed, as I don’t have any special talent, that’s for sure. In fact, with my cheap phone, sometimes I can’t even see what I am taking a photo of. 🙂
As always, if you have liked this post, please hit like or subscribe or drop me a line below!