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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Massachusetts Humane Lobby Day, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, and decisions on dreams

I feel blessed when I see something like this.
I feel blessed when I see something like this.

Tomorrow is Massachusetts’ Humane Lobby Day. The day that a lot of animal lovers and activists descend onto the Massachusetts State House, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston is one of the organizations that will be represented. I was there last year and remember that there were some awesome speakers who totally galvanized the crowd. I remember looking around and feeling like “this is my tribe. These are a lot of people who are like me. People who love animals.”  Last year, I had taken the day off from work to go. It was really heartening to see so many others had done the same. And of course, the adoptable pets that were brought that day were super adorable. There will be more again tomorrow. If you’ve never heard of Humane Lobby Days, and might be interested in taking part in one, check out this link, because they are held all over the country.

I am planning on going tomorrow since I’ve taken it easy the past few days after my mistake of walking so many miles on Saturday. My body let me know on Sunday that it would prefer I take it a bit easier still so soon after my surgery. I should be ok to sit, stand and walk around the statehouse and talk to people. After all, walking is the best thing you can do after you have abdominal surgery like I did.

I saw my surgeon last week for a two week follow up and he said I’m doing really well. He actually thought i was healing faster than he expected so I guess that means my incision site looks good. He said that I could doing more than just walking within another ten days to two weeks, so needless to say, I’m chomping the bit to get out there and join the ranks of the runners around the reservoir! (And to my defense, he did say that he thought I could ramp up my walking a bit after I saw him. I guess I took him too much at his word.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)

In other news I have decided to take a vacation trip to the southwest. I am going to volunteer with the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary while I am out there and visit Bryce National Park while I am out there.  (I have already been to Zion.) So far I have signed up for three days of volunteering with them, in various parts of the sanctuary so I get a good taste of it. I’ve found a place to stay and am just waiting for confirmation on the dates I’ve asked about, and am hoping to take little Baby O with me on the trip. The good thing about a town whose largest employer is an animal sanctuary? It’s super animal and pet friendly! If Osito doesn’t go with me, I will likely volunteer to take a shelter dog home with me for a night (the place I want to stay allows that.) Oh, and another thing? Best Friends has an on-site cafe that serves vegetarian food!!

I’ve also decided to not pursue the tiny house in North Carolina anymore. I was starting to get very stressed about how much it was going to cost between the down payment and closing costs, and wondered if I would have enough of a cash cushion to pursue my dreams there. And a small part of me felt like moving someplace south, but still on the east coast, was somehow “safe” in that it was still somewhat similar to where I am now. Yes, NC is a bit different culture wise, but it still kind of looks the same as this part of the East Coast.  And while I had met some very nice people down there, including the builder and the project manager who I have been thinking of as a friend, I was worried I might not find a lot of people who would be willing to understand my vegan lifestyle, etc.

So now it’s part of why I want to go to Best Friends. I’ve been thinking more and more that what I want to do, what my heart truly wants to do, is work at an animal sanctuary. I’m good with animals and I’m good with people, and both are really important abilities or skills to have. They have several job openings, some of which I think I’m qualified for, and they also offer internships that you can apply for (unpaid, if for five weeks.) So I’m seriously considering that route too. So wish me luck – I’m going to apply.  It’s also completely different – geography wise and more – from what I have grown up with, but it’s a topography that always makes me feel like I can just “breathe.”  I’m totally jumping outside of my comfort zone and I couldn’t be more excited! This is how you grow, right?!

I think you know something is your calling when thinking about something brings tears to your eyes but they are tears of joy. That’s how I felt tonight when I walked around the reservoir thinking about all of this, and it’s when I snapped the photo you see above. (The reservoir never fails to provide good photo opportunities.) I’ve saved my butt off for the past year and before that, paid off a lot of bills, so now I can take this leap with a bit of a cushion underneath me.

As always, thanks for reading and for your support. If you’ve liked this post, please drop me a line in the comments section, or hit like or subscribe, or share it with someone you think would like to read my drivel and musings. 🙂

Little Things for Which I am Thankful

Max, my diva....sleeps
Max, my diva….sleeps

I know, it’s been a long time since I wrote one of these posts. But there are a few things I would like to talk about, briefly.

  1. Had a doc appointment with the surgeon who will be removing my fibroids, via hysterectomy. Before I left, he said “that bulk you are talking about in your abdomen, that will go away when you have the surgery.” Thank God. I don’t think of myself as a vain person but I (usually) work out a lot, and I push myself to lift heavier, sweat more with cardio, do more miles, etc. So when someone asked me if I was “expecting” about a month or two ago, I was devastated. I was like “my god, has it gotten that bad?!” I called a colleague and asked her to please shoot me. I used to  have a very flat stomach and a six pack, and that’s what I WILL have again. I worked too hard for it the first damn time.

    So why such a drastic step in surgery? Well, fibroids can have side effects, and they will keep coming back until you hit that certain stage in a female’s life where you no longer have to worry about kids. I already know I don’t want kids and hell, I’m 42, so in my opinion, “go ahead, take it all!” In case  you are worried, they will leave my ovaries so I won’t go through all the crap that would otherwise occur, just about immediately. (Sorry, men, if that’s TMI. I know women will totally understand why I mention this.)The surgeon was extremely nice, and I don’t know why, but I was surprised. He is the head of the practice, and he said he himself will do my surgery. He was recommended to me by two doctors I trust, so I feel like I’m in good hands. It still has to be scheduled, but I know I will be out of work for 4-6 weeks. Since I’m in good shape, I’m hoping my recovery won’t be too bad. I already know what to expect in the pain department, so that is an improvement over the first time. I know that it will hurt like hell when I shift from sitting or laying down to standing, and that walking will help a ton. I know it’ll hurt like hell when I cry and when I laugh. But that’s ok, I know it will eventually go away. Fear of the unknown is always worse than the reality. 

My Sebastian....when he sits like that, it's everything I can do to not reach over and poke him in the belly!
My Sebastian….when he sits like that, it’s everything I can do to not reach over and poke him in the belly!

2. Uber and my smart phone. Since the weather has absolutely sucked here in Boston for the past several weeks,  (no exaggeration), I have begun to use Uber via my iphone to get home from work at the gym on Thursday evenings. It just feels so nice to be able to be picked up and make it home within 5-8 minutes, rather than waiting for the bus, which may, or (more likely) not be on time, in the freezing cold, after I’ve worked an 11ish hour day. I know it costs money but I figure it’s worth it to keep my sanity, and it gets me home to the furballs a bit earlier so I can enjoy hanging out with them before I fall asleep for the night. The app is pretty cool because it shows you where “your” car is on a map relative to where you are, and gives you information about what car you will be in, who will be driving and license plate info. I don’t know why, but having that info makes me feel safer.

3. Zipcar, so I can enjoy my Sunday mornings at the shelter in Dedham, working with the farm animals. There is a pair of goats at the shelter who have been very skiddish the entire time that they have been there. But today, while I was cleaning out their pen and leaning over, I realized the male goat had leaned in close to me, and was sniffing around my ear, checking me out. He must have liked what he found because he did it a few more times. That means progress. He knows I’m not there to hurt him. I felt like I had scored a major victory.  I know I have a good way with animals – I think they can sense I mean them no harm, so it just cemented further into my mind the idea of working with animals in some shape or capacity, whether it be at a shelter or on a farm, or at a sanctuary. I’m going to try to keep an open mind about the opportunities out there. I do know I have a lot to learn, and I look forward to that.

My ladies, in their girly pink princess beds. <3
My ladies, in their girly pink princess beds. ❤

4.  I was sick this week, and am still fighting the last stages of my cold. The other morning, I woke up to having five animals in the bed with me. Yes, 5 of 6! (For some reason, I can’t get them all in it at the same time, lol.) Four cats, and of course, Osito, squeezed right next to me. I felt very loved. It may not be the situation I expected to be in at this stage of my life, but it’s one that makes me happy, so it’s alright. Yes, I do get lonely sometimes, not having dated or cared to date in a while, but I have hope that I will find the right person for me at the right time. And one thing I know is that they will LOVE animals. Because, well, these furballs are staying whether or not anyone else likes it.

5. Received some information on the house last week and I think I am going to likely go with the smaller model to keep costs down. I’ve watched and re-watched some of my favorite tiny house videos and it’s reaffirmed in me that I really don’t need that much. Plus, I think back to when I was considering moving all of us into an RV. It’s reminded me to focus on what is truly important and when you do that, it’s very easy to let stuff go.

6. Daylight Savings Time. It may make it harder to get up in the morning but seeing the sunset at night over the Charles again while on my way home, it’s just absolutely beautiful. I know it’s only a matter of time until it’s very bright early in the morning. I know that very soon, (if the snow melts a bit more and stays gone) I will be able to go for my morning runs on the Charles, and I can’t wait.  There is no better feeling than being out there, running along, feeling like nothing can stop you, one foot landing in front of the other, and seeing the sun rise, turning the water a beautiful shade of lavender. Put the crew teams on the water at the same time, and it’s so inspiring. Best way to start the day, in my opinion.

My BonkMan (aka Bonkers) and the diva, Max. They fight when awake, so this picture was particularly endearing to me to capture.
My BonkMan (aka Bonkers) and the diva, Max. They fight when awake, so this picture was particularly endearing to me to capture.

7. Last but not least, while I was home sick last week, I decided to give up coffee. I felt like I was depending on it too much to get going in the mornings, and also, because I don’t like drinking it black, I realized how much extra sugar I was putting into my body. So now, every morning when I wake up, I have a cold glass or two of water with lemon juice. It helps my congestion and also gives me some energy.

Oh, and did I mention it’s snowing AGAIN? Probably not going to amount to much, but the ability to be warm and safe inside, looking out at it, while knowing these furballs are safe and cozy warm with me, well, it’s a good feeling.

If you have liked this post, please hit like or subscribe, or drop me a line below. Thanks for reading!

Little Things for Which I am Thankful

Some days, you just don't want to get out of bed. I <3 my diva, Max.
Some days, you just don’t want to get out of bed. 

Just so you know, my cat Max didn’t crawl in under the pillows in the above pic. Rather, he refused to get out of bed or from under the covers so I made my best attempt at making the bed around His Highness. I’d say this past Thursday, many of us felt the same way.

I know I haven’t written this type of post in a while but I have not been in the mood to do so.  Not sure why, but when I’ve thought about writing the post at the end of the night, I’ve just felt way too tired. I know I should always be thankful for what I’ve got, so I’ll try to get back into the routine again.

  1. As of the time I’m starting this post, they’ve caught three of the four suspected terrorists in France. Well, killed three of four of them. I’m just thankful they have caught them, and hope they find the fourth.  With all the news reports making comparisons to the Boston Marathon Bombings, which are still fresh in a lot of our minds, it’s a bit depressing, going back to that day in my mind, when my friend Lisa, Mom2Marathon, was running and got stopped just before the 26 mile marker. I remember her saying she was having a crappy run that day, but that crappy run probably saved her life, so I’m thankful she had an off day.
  2. So thankful the heat is included in my rent, especially when it gets so bitterly cold as it did for most of the country this week. Thursday morning, the temp was -2F and it felt like -22F. In a word, it felt brutal.
  3. My cat Bonkers has a heart murmur so the vet suggested he get an echocardiogram before we give him a dental procedure in February. His results? All good, as I thought they would be. Speaking of pets, my friend Penny from PlanetYnnep Photography has a Australian cattle dog who had a procedure done earlier this week to remove a mass. So far, she seems to be recovering from surgery very well. I don’t know her prognosis as of yet, but it seems like she is recuperating very well, and I’m not surprised as Penny is one of the kindest people I know, and also such a great fur mom.
  4. I went to my mailbox at work the other day and was so surprised to see a gift card in my mail from a professor with whom I’ve worked a bit over the past several years and worked on a somewhat lengthy project. It was totally unexpected and the amount of it made my mouth fall to the floor, quite literally. I was speechless. Still am when I think about it, as it’s been put to good use already and there’s still a good portion of the balance left! Since I had found out earlier that day that I have an unexpected medical bill, it kind of evened things out.
  5. I was able to connect via phone with the vet who handles the large animals for the ARL and she was completely awesome! We talked for over an hour on the phone and I am definitely going to shadow her one day, or if she doesn’t have calls, she said she could show me how she takes care of her horses and other animals. Yay!!! We talked about where I was thinking of moving to and she said something that supported what one of my friends was saying the other day. My friend said when she thinks of horses, she thinks of VA and NC first before Kentucky. The vet said most of her clients who have horses move south to NC.

    So I started looking into NC again as an option. I looked at LocalRanchVets.com, and found that there is an insanely high number of vets or vet practices in or around Greensboro, NC. that work with large animals. It’s a bit over an hour from the Raleigh area and in the area that most people refer to as the Triad, rather than the Triangle. (It’s near Winston-Salem, and High Point, etc.) I started looking at job postings on craigslist for vet assistants/receptionists/technicians and wow, there are a ton!  And even better, the cost of living appears to be doable!

    Needless to say, I will do more research but am excited. When I found myself thinking of Kentucky, I was feeling this little nagging feeling in the back of my mind as I saw how many houses were available in a very low price range and was worried it also meant that the job market was extremely bad. I could be wrong. Hell, I could be wrong about a lot of things!  But I plan on making at least one trip pretty soon, maybe even in February to check out areas. Even if it’s only for a long weekend, it’s better to see something in person and do your own research than to rely on other’s opinions.

  6. Earlier this week, I paid my tuition for my prereq classes – thank you to all of you who have supported and encouraged me as I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up! 🙂

If you’ve liked this post, please hit like or subscribe, and if you’re thankful for something this week and feel like sharing, drop me a line below!

Location, location, location

Fancy, who has changed my life's course. Quite literally.
Fancy, who has changed my life’s course. Quite literally.

I hope everyone had a great holiday – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, whatever you celebrate! I also hope everyone will have a great new year. My friends and I are in the mood for a mellow NYE this year, so we’re just hanging out at a friend’s house and will have a game night.  Last year was fun, just a bit expensive. Every New Year’s Eve is super expensive in the Boston area.

Melissa, the barn cat (aka "the creeper" because she is skiddish around humans but creeps around to keep an eye on what we are doing in the barn. Super cute.)
Melissa, the barn cat (aka “the creeper” because she is skiddish around humans but creeps around to keep an eye on what we are doing in the barn. Super cute.)

So, before the Christmas break from work (I work in academia so I’m off this week from the full-time job) I was talking with some good friends at work. I was telling them about my plans to move to NC. They were worried that I might not fit in there, and because they consider me super high-energy (to put it nicely, others might think I’m hyper), things might not move quickly enough for me. LOL.  I’m also pretty liberal so they worry I might not feel completely comfortable there – I’ve been told that a lot of the NC coast could be considered to have voted “red.” They asked me about working in other states since I want to try working with large animals, and the subject of Kentucky came up. They also mentioned some southwestern states, and places like the Dakotas, Wyoming, etc. Most of these states, I would love love love to visit. But to spend a winter in Wyoming? No thanks.

Kentucky had already crossed my radar a little while back, for the fact that it is known to be quite beautiful in certain parts, like in horse country. And living somewhere beautiful is definitely high on my list of priorities. I’ve lived in ugly places in the past (sorry, Northeast Philly, but I’m looking at you) and while the living was cheap, I don’t want to do that again if I don’t have to. Then, I spent a few mornings with Fancy, the horse at the ARL in Dedham – see her pics at the beginning and ending of this post. (By the way, she is available for adoption!!! And she’s a thoroughbred.)   And it just hit me. I need to work with animals like her!

I have been thinking of working with large animals already, and when I did some further research, I saw that being an equine vet tech is actually considered a specialty subset of being a vet tech. So that’s my plan as of now. I know I will try to work in a companion-animal vet’s practice during school, and who knows? We’ll see what happens.   As I said to my mom the other day when telling her of my decision, I can’t adopt a horse and bring it home with me, whereas when I am around cats and dogs, I just want to save them all and bring them home with me. 🙂  Needless to say, she was relieved to hear that since I already have five cats and a dog! She was also a little surprised though, as she said “you never learned to ride as a kid” and I said, well I’ve always loved horses (she must not have remembered.) And well, I knew we couldn’t afford riding lessons or anything like that so I never asked for them. No use making my mom feel bad about something she had not much control over, which was our finances.

So…Lexington, Kentucky is located within Fayette County, where there are 150 horse farms out of the total of 450 that exist in the state of Kentucky at large. I’ve done some preliminary research and the standard of living is WAY cheaper than in the Boston area. No big surprise there, of course. I was astounded to see what $500 will get you for a rental unit. Then, just for fits and giggles, I decided to look at prices of condos and they blew me away even more! You can buy a condo in Lexington, KY for what would simply amount to your down payment for a condo in this area. It’s completely insane!

Yes, Kentucky does get a tiny amount of snow but it is nothing compared to Boston in winter. So I can handle that. My plan is to go out there at least once beforehand, and spend some time there, observing neighborhoods at multiple times of days, and probably go back out again another time to meet with a realtor and firm something up. My mom has offered to go with me which could definitely help, having another person’s opinions. (Just gotta remember they are my mom’s…)

Close-up of Fancy in the barn.
Close-up of Fancy in the barn.

I hope you will all have a great and safe New Year’s!

As always, if you have liked this post, please hit like, subscribe or drop me a comment below! And thanks for reading!

Little Things for Which I am Thankful

Friday, people. It’s Friday. Thank freaking god.

My office mate is now officially gone to her new job on the other side of the country. Although I love having an office space all to myself, it’s just not the same. We shared an office for five years. You get used to the other person’s habits and quirks and we used to bounce ideas and questions off of each other pretty regularly. She knew all the business stuff and she knew the foreign and international treaty stuff so it worked well. I would hear the words “securities, equities, stocks” and start to hear “wa wa … wa wa wa” (those of you old enough to remember the Peanuts comics, just think of the voice you would hear every time a parent was talking) and she felt the same way every time mentioned “treaty” so like I said, it worked. So I’ve been kind of bummed this week, but now it’s the weekend.

Remember how I said I thought I had lost my wallet for good at the Animal Rescue League and I feared it might be in the manure pile?? Well, someone found it, thank God. I finally got my replacement zipcard so now I can actually go to the ARL and retrieve my wallet. And that means I can go and volunteer this weekend again, so yay, back to picking up poop and petting animals!

Not sure why, but two nights ago, I rode my bike home from work around the same time I usually do. I feel like lately it’s been pitch black at night every time, like I feel like it’s midnight, it’s so dark. That night, however, there was a gorgeous sunset and I was able to see it reflecting off of/over the Charles River. Just beautiful.

My list is short and sweet this week – I’ll be very honest, I’m just glad this week is about to come to an end because I’m just super tired.

But, if you have liked this post, please hit like or subscribe or drop me a line letting me know if there’s anything you feel thankful for in your life this week!

Little Things for Which I am Thankful: Weekend Edition!

Mr. Billy Goat and his shy female friend. She's just beautiful up close.
Mr. Billy Goat and his shy female friend. She’s just beautiful up close.

I’m not going to put this in list order like I usually do, because, well, I’m just not in the mood and I feel like sometimes that breaks up the flow of my thoughts.

I have had a great weekend so far! Yesterday started out bright and early, about 5:30. I spent the morning with the barn animals at the Animal Rescue League from about 7:40-9:30 a.m. I learned how they take care of the pigs, pigeons, chickens and the outside animals too (goats, sheep, and horse.) And yes, I honestly had no problem dealing with animal poop! Maybe having the herd of my own to look after at home, it doesn’t phase me anymore. (Now, ask me to change a baby’s diaper and the thought terrifies me! LOL). When we were all done, I had about 45 minutes during which I could spend a little time socializing with the animals. This is exactly what it sounds like – getting them to feel more comfortable around humans. Read more