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. 🙂