As you can tell from the title of my post, there is a new family member. His name is Snuggles, and I think little Osito had a hand in his making his way to me. Allow me to explain.
You know from reading my last post that I lost my little Osito a few weeks ago. Well, the following day, my friend Elaine’s dog, Annie, was crying and crying at the front window in her house, and wouldn’t stop until Elaine went to see what was amiss. She looked outside and saw this little brown dog on her front lawn and he was running from one neighbor’s house to another. A lady was walking by and helped her to catch him.
Upon closer look, Elaine could see that he had some sort of injury to the right side of his face. His jaw was misaligned, and one of his eyes appeared to be much smaller than the other, or maybe that’s just because it was more sunk into his head than the left side. So basically, it looked like he suffered a major trauma to that side of his face at one point. Then she looked down to his feet and saw that his toenails were so long, they had curled under his feet and he was essentially walking on them. That couldn’t have been comfortable for him.
She took him to her vet, located nearby and asked them to see if he had a microchip. He didn’t. They suggested she take him to AWD (Animal Welfare Department) but also said that he would likely be put down there. So she called me and asked if my hospital could do that kind of work that he might need. We do. So she brought him down to me, and I had a doc examine him, who surmised that he had had a broken jaw at one point. However, it wasn’t causing him any pain at this point, you could touch it and he would never cry out. So clearly, it was an old injury, and one that he had learned to deal with. I told some of my coworkers that I would take him home that night and see how he did with the herd, and see what I thought to do in the morning.
Well, you all know where this is leading. The following morning, I was like “no way in hell am I taking this little guy to a shelter. I don’t know how i will afford to pay for his care, but he’s staying with me.”
Flash forward to last week. He has all of his vaccinations, and he IS microchipped. He has a collar with his and my names on it, and my phone number. He has now been neutered. He had a dental surgery that removed three of his smaller teeth and a canine tooth that was hanging out of his mouth like a snaggle tooth. This way, when he eats, he doesn’t have a tooth pushing up into the roof of his mouth, since it is so misaligned.
The dental vet thought that he might be 9 to 11 years old. That’s older than was initially thought, but it makes sense based on his energy level and the grey hair I see under his chin.
He has fit into the family quite easily. Morgan loves to play with him, and he pays no mind to the cats. He weighs about 12 pounds, so he’s what we call a chi-weenie (part Chihuahua and part mini-Dachsund (or weiner dogs as I like to call them.)
He loves loves loves to be snuggled, as his name suggests. He doesn’t bark much and has a great demeanor. Very loving. When he wants to be picked up, he gets up on his hind legs and rests his front paws on knee. He loves to sleep on the bed and on one of my living room chairs. And usually, it’s with all four feet up in the air while he lies on his back. You can tell by that pose, he’s happy and comfortable where he is.
What’s unusual about this story is that Elaine’s dog, Annie, doesn’t usually whine and cry like she did that day. She usually barks, if anything, at people passing by.
Also, his temperment is so much like Osito’s, I definitely think that he was a gift she sent to me. He loves to sleep under the covers just like she did. He is perfectly content to just sit beside me on the chair while I’m reading or doing some transcription. And the fact that he is another senior makes me love him all the more.
I may not have been planning on getting another animal so soon, but I’m glad he found me. Thank you, Baby O, and Annie for being the conduit that day and getting your mom involved. ❤ Osito can never be replaced, but I’m finding a different part of my heart for this little one to occupy.
Have a great day everyone!! And as always, thanks for reading!
It’s been a while since I’ve written, sorry about that. I’ve moved to a new apartment that has a yard, and I’ve had a lot of transcription work to do in my free time, so there hasn’t ‘been much time to write.
Also, as the title of my post shows, I lost my little Osito. Last week, it was a “shit show” as we call it sometimes at work – three euthanasias all pretty much at the same time. My hospital only has two visiting rooms, set up to look like a living room of sorts, where parents can say a final goodbye to their loved furballs. Then I came home. I went outside with Morgan for a few minutes, to the back yard, as I always do. When I came in, I said aloud, “Okay, where’s little Osito?” It’s normal for her to sometimes sleep through my initial entrance, but usually she wakes up by the time Morgan and I come back in. I looked at all of her various beds spread out around the kitchen and the bedroom and didn’t see her, which started to get me worried. I then went over to her favorite bed area, and that’s when I saw her. She was clearly dead.
Words can’t describe very well how I felt. This little girl has been a major love in my life for the past four years. I adopted her when she was 12, thinking I might have only 2 years or so left with her, and then I learned chihuahuas can live til about 18 or 20, sometimes. I hoped she would be one of those rare exceptions and make it to 20, or hey, even live forever. One can dream, right? She was turning 16 this year.
During the past few weeks, I had noticed she was squatting a lot more and it seemed like not much urine was coming out. I also noticed she was having less control of her bladder. Whereas before she might have tried to wake me up at night to put her down from the bed onto her pee pads, it seemed like she was just peeing in her sleep, and then I’d wake up to find both of us lying in it. Yep, eew. Not good.
So I took her to my vet and she diagnosed a urinary tract infection, and did some blood work. Her kidney numbers were a bit elevated, and so were her white blood cell counts. I expected the higher level of white blood cells, since her body was fighting an infection. But we weren’t sure if the kidney disease was recent, or something that had been underlying for a while. My vet prescribed Clavamox, an antibiotic that I could give in liquid form, since her teeth are pretty much, well, she had one. I think.
Osito normally loved her sleep, but I’d been noticing lately that she seemed to sleep even more. I ascribed some of it to her lack of appetite from the antibiotics. So we tried to give her an appetite stimulant. It was only 1/4 of what was already a very small tablet, but when your dog has basically no teeth, it can be hard for her to “gum” a pill pocket and get the pill that way, and if i just put it into her food, she would lick around it.
So I started giving her Royal Canin’s Recovery food on Friday night, heated up. She seemed to really like it, and it probably helped that she hadn’t had a pill in about 24 hours. My vet also gave me Covenia, which I could give to Osito in injection form, having learned how to do Sub Q stuff when I was an animal caregiver at Best Friends. That would eliminate the need for oral meds, or so we hoped.
Earlier last week, I had taken Morgan for a walk to one of the Open Spaces that is located close to the Rio Grande. I carried Osito in my “Outward Hound” pouch and she seemed to enjoy the walk. Well, until the wind kicked up, and it started to drizzle a bit, and then I was partly running back toward the car, so she was jostled around a bit.
Last weekend, on Saturday, we had a really sunny day. So I took her along with me and Morgan on our walk, again in her carry pouch. She had so much sun on her face, which I know she always loved. She was content to be carried around. I remember wondering how many other walks like this I would be able to have with her. Maybe a part of me suspected what was coming.
The next morning, she ate ravenously from the heated up food, and then she fell asleep on my lap, her belly full with good food. I’ve always loved those moments, looking down at her and knowing she trusts me enough to allow herself to be at her most vulnerable around me. One of the best feelings I’ve been fortunate to have in my life is to look around the room, see all of my animals with one glance, and know that they feel safe and content. Maybe that’s how human parents feel. I’ll never know for sure, but for me, it’s enough. Some of us just weren’t meant to be parents to humans, only pets.
I just always wish I had been able to be with her at the end. To hold her and kiss her and let her know how much she was loved, and still is. But some suspect that she may have waited for me to not be around, and spared me that pain. All I know is, it still hurt. And does now.
I ran Osito back to the hospital where I work, and she will be privately cremated, which means I will have her ashes back shortly. I picked out an urn that is in the shape of a heart, and have paid to have her paws impressed into clay. The words “My Little Baby O” will also be on that plaque.
Osito will join Bonkers and Sebastian, Chloe, and my paw print of Daisy (my foster dog from Best Friends), and my picture of Clara in their place of honor. (Clara was buried out behind the house I used to share with my now ex-husband. My parakeet was also buried out back.) They are always close by me that way, physically, and in spirit. I don’t think your animals ever leave you, honestly. For Osito, I know that is especially true, as I will explain in my next post.
Osito, before you, I never understood why people could love little dogs like they do. Now, I totally get it. You were the main inspiration behind my leaving my job in Harvard to work with animals. You changed my life.
You are missed, more than you could ever know. I love you, baby girl.
I have been meaning to blog for the last few days; I’ve been feeling inspired to write. But I’ve also been extremely motivated to work on a side project, doing legal transcription. There is a time deadline to it, and it’s something that I find quite interesting, so most of my free time has gone to that in the last week and a half. Listening to lawyers talk, well, it reminds me why I walked away from that career field, and I’m SO GLAD I did, even though it was a choice that has stuck around with me for my financial life ever since. I used to beat myself up over that and the financial choices I made, but now I just try to move forward.
I promised you a post on my budget, and I think I’ve got my new payroll stuff calculated pretty well. I’ve received a few paychecks and have determined that I am losing about 18% of my pay to taxes. (Pisses me off that I make so little and pay such a percentage while people like Trump make billions and then pay nothing, but that’s a topic I won’t go further on in this post because I’ll just end up jumping up and down on my soapbox.)
I have figured out what my fixed expenses are every month, so I’ll write those down first. Some things, like my renter’s and car insurance, I pay on a semi-annual and annual basis, so the amounts you see below are what I need to save every month (and have taken out of my paycheck via direct deposit) to have that payment ready.
Auto loan: $141.42 (let’s call it $142)
Rent (includes utilities): $525
Tower Garden (only until April 2017, unless paid off earlier): $81.54 (or $82)
Cell phone (unlimited data): $95.45 (or $96)
Car Insurance: $58.33 (let’s call it $60)
Amazon Prime: $8.25
Renter’s Insurance: $17.33 (let’s call it $18)
Citibank Credit Card: $58 (minimum payment)
CapitalOne Credit Card: $59 (minimum payment)
Private LAL loan: $167.11 (let’s talk about that a little more below)
The total of all of these comes out to, with some of the figures rounded as noted above: $1215.36.
Some of these amounts might seem scarily high for someone in my income bracket, but here are a few details. The LAL loan has been paid way in advance, and I’m talking years ahead of schedule from when I was making a lot more $ in Boston and paid off several thousand of it before I decided I was going to make a crazy life change and move to the southwest. So there is flexibility with that loan. I could literally call up every month for the next four to five years and tell them to not make the automatic withdrawal payment, and I would not be in default. However, interest would accrue and accrue and accrue, so I am not doing that. I am, however, not paying the full $167.11. Instead, every two weeks, when I get paid, I pay $20 on the loan. It’s enough to cover the interest and make a small payment of about $15 in principal every month. The total amount on that loan is still over $10K so it’s further down my debt snowball than the credit cards.
When I take out the $167.11 number and add in $40, that makes my fixed expenses a little less scary. The number is $1088.25. Now I can eat, and so can my pets! (Of course, if you have read my blog for a while, you already know I will go hungry first before they will.)
You might also think my cell phone bill is high. It is, but I have unlimited data through T-mobile and the way I access the internet at home is by using my phone as a mobile hot spot. I don’t have a wifi provider, router, etc.
So what’s my income? Well, I usually get about 37-38 hours per week, so I will budget myself based on what I would make per paycheck if I only worked 37 hours. I will have $45.01 taken out, pre-tax , of every paycheck for my health, dental, and vision insurance through work. Yes, I realize that seems incredibly low for all of them, but it’s a high deductible plan. The deductible is $4500. The choices at work were not great – even the lowest deductible plan of $1850 was going to cost me $152 per paycheck, and I definitely couldn’t afford that. I usually only go to the doctor anyway for preventive care and for routine things like eye exams, dental cleanings, and to get my prescriptions rewritten.
Oh yeah, my income. If I average myself out to 37 hours per week, I have a salary of $23,088 before taxes. We get paid every two weeks, so I budget based on two paychecks per month. (Yes, there are two months of each year where I then get an extra paycheck. It will go straight to debt and/or savings when I get to that point.) I have decided to put 3% of each paycheck into the 401(k) they have at work which is through Prudential. That comes out to about $53.20/month going into the 401(k). After subtracting my before-tax benefits, I am at about $1632.70. Then I pay taxes of 18% or $293.87. Also, I am paying $2.80 per each paycheck for long term disability. I have calculated my take home pay to be roughly $1,338.87.
I elected to not get coverage for short term disability because it was going to cost me at least $15/paycheck. I definitely had to make some tough choices when it came time to enroll in benefits, which I am happy to say I am now ELIGIBLE for!
I plan on continuing to work out, and will be starting to run again. I’ve been getting the bug to do so, outside. Morgan and I walk on what they call the Bosque Trail and yesterday I saw lots of runners out there, and I really wanted to join them. So, I’m going to. Why just wish or dream when you can DO? [update since I started writing this post, I did it yesterday!! It felt freaking awesome even though I’m slow as molasses fighting gravity to go uphill.]
So, let’s do the math. $1,338.87 minus $1,088.25 leaves me with $250.62 to feed myself, my pets, and put gas in my car. Luckily, gas here is cheap, and there is a lot to do for free. It’s part of why I moved to a city again, to take advantage of what it has to offer. Also, I tend to eat pretty cheaply and hardly ever eat out. And my pets, I know where to get the best deals for their food and litter, toys, etc. I’ve been budgeting about $55 per month for gas, and so far I’m doing it.
Those of you who know about Dave Ramsey know that he preaches that we shouldn’t save for retirement until we are out of Baby Step 2 (paying off debt.) Well, here’s the thing. I’m 44. I can’t wait until I get it all paid off. I need to be saving NOW. If there is one thing I know, it’s that when you save for retirement, having more time can make a huge difference. I hear the stories about how little many people have saved by my age, and I’m glad to say I’m ahead of the game at least in that respect. But I can’t just forget about it, and rely only what I saved when I had a higher income. I don’t have kids, so there is no one to look to, to take care of me when I get older. I need to worry about me.
Looking at these numbers, one might feel a bit constrained, and you might wonder just how I can feel abundant in the face of it. The way I’m feeling abundant about things is by reminding myself that I am following my heart and refusing to live by what others think I should do. One of my current coworkers thinks I’m insane to have left a good paying job at Harvard, and a small bit of me occasionally agrees with her.
But, then I think of how I’ve grown over these past 17 months or so. I’ve faced my fears in a way that a lot of people wouldn’t. I drove cross country all by myself with just my car, and my pets. I found an RV for us to live in and a place to put it. When that town didn’t work out, I found another place for us and was able to sell the RV for almost the same amount as my loan on it. When I knew that Lake Powell wasn’t for me, long term, I moved myself to Albuquerque, and then faced the scariest thing I’ve ever done. (Well, besides leaving my marriage.) I moved without already having a certain job waiting in the wings. Those of you who know my fear (actually, more like a phobia) of being homeless, know how much anxiety and stress that caused me. A LOT.
I’ve realized what are the actual necessities that I have in my life and for the most part, what are wants. I need a car to get me back and forth to work. I need a roof over my head and that of my animals. Nothing makes me feel more accomplished than being able to provide that for them. Seeing all of them dozing, knowing even in their subconscious, that they are safe and warm, is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. Yes, the place where we are now is temporary, but I’m working on figuring out what neighborhood(s) would be better suited for us and in which my budget will work. (And I think I might have found one!) And having the transcription work, even if this is the one and only time I get it, will allow me to chunk away at those credit cards. I need to take everything from that project and put it on the credit cards because eventually my federal loans will have to be repaid again (I’m on deferment because of my in-school status.)
I just finished reading a book titled Money, a Memoir, by Liz Perle. In it, she talks about the emotions that women attach to money, how what we’ve seen as money habits of our parents as children affects us in how we deal with money in our own lives, how women can fight an inner battle between wanting to be independent and wanting to be taken care of, at the same time. It made me think of the time when I was married. My ex-husband made good money and my salary (looking back) was actually pretty decent. I was able to save 14% of my salary into a 403(b) at one point. Life was definitely more comfortable, financially speaking, but I didn’t feel like I was truly alive. Today, I do. It’s not always comfortable, and not always a happy feeling, but I feel like I am being more true to myself, and that is something that money can’t buy.
And with that, I’ll end this post which I’ve wanted to publish for several days now! How do you feel about your budget? Do you feel like you’re living a life of scarcity, or a life of abundance, or do you feel like you are somewhere in between?
Good Tuesday to all of you! This week, I’m thankful for the Patriots having won against the Cardinals on Sunday night’s football game. I admit, without Tom Brady, I was a bit worried about how we would do, but I have a lot of faith in Bill Belichek. To watch the game with some Arizona Cardinals fans, and have the right to talk some smack was just awesome! LOL. They knew it was all in good fun.
As I announced last week, in my post called What the Heart Wants, I’ve decided to go back to school to become a vet tech, with an eye to possibly working with wildlife in the future, or hospice care for animals. (We’ll see what happens!) Being older and wiser than the first (or second or third) time I achieved a degree, I’m determined to find as many options for scholarships and free money to go to school. Last week, I mentioned FastWeb. Today, I came across an app called Scholly. They charge $2.99 to join and that’s the only charge, and the app itself is free to download for iPhone and Android. I don’t watch the show Shark Tank, but I understand his app was featured on that show! Another website I’ve just come across is Scholarships.com – it’s a free database that you can use to look for scholarships, and supposedly is updated every day. I’ll be testing it out this week.
Now, I know not everyone reading this is thinking of going back to school, so I’d like to share another website that I’ve come across recently, and it’s about intentional living (and in part, minimalism, which usually goes hand in hand with intentional living.) It’s called Break the Twitch. In case you prefer to watch videos over reading text, he makes a lot of videos that you can see on YouTube at this channel.
And with this, I need to get off the computer and get ready to go down to the local animal shelter so I can walk some doggies!! Then it’s off to the gym again to try to push myself and sweat a lot! I hope you will all have a wonderful Tuesday! Please feel free to drop me a line below and let me know if there are any amazing links you want to share or think I should highlight in a later post, or what you are feeling thankful for this week!
Also, let me know if you think these posts should come later in the week – would Thursday or Friday be better?
Sorry I’ve been silent the past few weeks but wow, it has been quite the whirlwind!
I couldn’t say things publicly but I was in the midst of making some big changes. You may have remembered my musing at times about finding some workamping gigs and my planning on doing Amazon Camperforce in the fall months. Well, I interviewed for three different workamping gigs and was offered positions at all three! (For the curious, they were at Yellowstone National Park, Cedar Pass Lodge in the Badlands, and also Lake Powell Resort in AZ.)
I couldn’t believe that three different people so quickly wanted to hire me! I was extremely flattered, and I made sure to tell the two employers with whom I decided to not pursue employment that I was going to be taking a job elsewhere and my reasons why. I decided to go with Lake Powell for many reasons.
Lake Powell is only 75 miles from where I am currently located, and the weather would be nicest. I’ve been there many times, and I love the area (did I mention there is a huge, huge, HUGE lake there?) Plus, the pay was pretty good, the housing was very, very inexpensive, and last but not least, I already knew people who lived in the area, both in Page, and also my friends here in Kanab. I thought it would be a good way of easing myself into the workamping lifestyle, and it gave me a lot of options, RV-wise. I could easily move my current RV there (the big fifth wheel) by having someone transport it for me, and not have it cost an arm and a leg. To move the fifth wheel to either of the other locations would be HUGELY expensive. Or, I could sell my fifth wheel and look into buying a smaller rig, with a different tow vehicle, before I would move in a few months.
So flash forward to a few weeks ago. A friend asked me if I might be interested in pursuing a full-time position as a campground supervisor at Lake Powell! So I went and interviewed with who will be my future boss, and spent a few hours there, meeting some of the employees and the outgoing supervisor. They wanted me to think about it over the weekend and I did (a lot) and then we talked that following Monday, and they wanted me to take the job! There are three permanent employees, who are all in what they call Lead positions, and then the rest are temporary, seasonal workers, and I understand that some of them are returning. Hearing that makes me feel better – if you keep coming back year after year, there must be something good going on there.
I should mention – during that weekend while I thought about the job, I was also able to see a lot of family members that I haven’t seen a ton of over the years. My younger brother, (who long time readers will remember is an amazing runner who has done several marathons and (now) four ultra marathons!) traveled out to the Phoenix area to run another 100 mile trail race. I am so proud of him for having completed it in 21 hours, 27 minutes, and 32 seconds!! He was pretty amazing, as always. The course was a 20 mile loop that they ran 5 times. He led the race in first place for the first 80 miles (and that includes his first 20 mile lap at a pace of about 8:30/mile.) He was only overtaken at about mile 85. He came in third overall and set a PR for himself at this distance, beating his first two races by about 7 hours!!
I must say, I don’t take this job switch lightly, and a few people very close to me have expressed guilt in thinking that they were, in some way, partly to blame for my looking to move on from my current situation. Here’s the thing. Yes, I do take their opinions seriously. I also consider these folks to be very close to me and always have my best interests at heart. However, no one forced me to make the decision to uproot myself and move from a big northeastern city to a small town in Utah. That was my decision to make. And it’s not one that I regret. That’s because I think the decision to come here was one that I was meant to make. Every decision has moved me closer to where I am supposed to be, and who I am supposed to be, and what I am supposed to be in this world. I have faith in that being true. It’s been a learning experience and those are not always easy and comfortable. Unfortunately, learning can sometimes be painful, in the moment, anyway.
I realized this town is too small for me, and it doesn’t have enough going on to keep me happy. The town I am moving to is not a huge city like Boston but it does have more amenities than where I am now, relying so much on the tourism industry. Not that I love what Walmart stands for, but it is a huge advantage to have a store like Walmart so that if something breaks past 6 p.m., I will know that there is a place where I can likely buy a replacement part. Or, if I need a prescription filled on a weekend sometime after 12 noon on a Saturday, I have a hope of getting it filled. To me, small things like that give me a measure of comfort. It’s not that I want to be spending all of my time at the local Walmart, but the fact that I won’t have to drive for 75 miles to get there, gives me comfort.
I’ve also realized I need to have some body of water near me. Back in Boston, my building had a beautiful reservoir out back. Even if I wasn’t going for a run around it, it was there if I wanted to just sit and “be.” To be able to sit and listen to the lap of waves on the shore is a huge comfort to me, even if I can see land on the other side. (In fact, I think seeing land on the other side actually makes me feel more comforted than sitting by the ocean and realizing the closest land mass is thousands of miles away.)
However, I feel guilt when I think of the fact that now the people with whom I work at the sanctuary have to look again for another staff member, leaving them short staffed again. And I also feel guilt when I think of leaving the amazing animals at the sanctuary behind. I know they are extremely well cared for, but caring for animals is what made me move 2600 miles. It’s what made me take such a huge cut in salary. I can’t ever give up on animals.
I really, really thought that when I made this big move, that this was IT. I really did. So, yes, I’m disappointed. But I’ve also made a very good friend or two over the past six months, and these are people I really feel like I was meant to meet and have in my life. They’ve taught me a lot about the goodness in people, and for that I am thankful. Sometimes I hear about such wickedness and crap going on in the world and wonder what makes some people the way they are.
So, I’ve already contacted the animal shelter in the town where I will be, and I plan on volunteering there as much as possible once I’m settled in. I stopped in this past weekend and immediately several cats came right up to me for attention. I didn’t let myself go visit with the dogs as I didn’t want to get them all excited and then not be able to take them on walks. As it was, I wanted to take home so many of the cats!! It is a small shelter but it does incredible work with the resources it has.
So now I’m thinking…maybe this is the reason I moved to this part of the US. To help share the beauty of this part of the country with visitors through my job. To have a living situation that will allow me to be able to make some headway on paying off my RV and my car (and yes, that pesky private student loan), while also providing some comfort to shelter animals that can really use it.
Anyway, enough of my rambling. I’m sorry that I worried a few of you who wrote to me after not hearing from me on here for so long. I just had to focus my energies on things like job searching and stuff at certain times, so the blog had to step aside for a bit. Thanks for reading, as always.
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?
Last month, I really cursed out this town. I know I wrote a comical post about how I live in a small town, but this one night, it really pissed me off. My Sebastian died. He was the youngest of all my cats, and the one I worried least about, health-wise, other than the fact that he was overweight. (He’d been homeless at one time and that fear of where and when his next meal would come, seemed to always be with him.) I cursed this town because the only fully staffed emergency vet care is through the sanctuary but they have been short staffed, and even if they weren’t, the policy is that sanctuary animals get preference over employees’ animals for medical care. I understand this, as there are over 1700 animals at the sanctuary and they are the clinic’s first priority. There is a local vet and they have been amazing with the care of my Bonkers, simply amazing. But there are only two of them, and well, they have to go home sometime, so the closest 24 hour emergency animal clinic is in St. George, which is about 75-80 miles away. While I understand all of this logically, when you are holding an unresponsive animal in your arms, all logic goes out the window. Read more →
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.)
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.)
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!
Some days, I just get the urge to write. Like today. Yesterday, I felt the inspiration to get rid of crap in my apartment. So today, I thought I might share with you some of the videos, stories, etc., that inspire me, and hopefully you can take away at least one good thing from this post. And if you like this type of post, let me know. Maybe it’ll become a regular thing? 🙂
I don’t have TV so I only catch up on TV shows on netflix or the internet. I do watch a lot of youtube videos, though, because I feel like I can always learn from other people, whether it be in terms of my attitude, or skills such as fixing the chain on my bike), how to eat better, or how to save money and be better disciplined while doing it. The ways to learn are just endless. And of course, there are the cute animal videos that we all like to see. (If you don’t, well, personally, you might want to go to the doctor because it’s quite possible “you’re dead inside.” LOL)
This morning when I got up and was puttering around the apartment, I went to my Favorites list on youtube, and started listening to some of them and really thinking about why they inspire me. I’ve listed a few below.
Minimalists: Living with Less (from The Feed channel)
Exploring Alternatives: Going against the Grain Can Be Hard. They also have a blog you can see here. They are a young married couple that have a van all set up to live in full time. They are super down to earth, and the first time I saw this video, I really needed that encouragement.
Carrie LeighAnna, What I Eat and How I Meal Plan. She used to overeat, and I have found myself doing that over the past year. No more! She has inspired me to eat better.
Becky Schade, who writes the blog Interstellar Orchard. This video really hit home for me. She realized something was wrong in her life and did something about it. And now, she’s written a book which launches in just two days!!
My friend Kelvin, over at Going Uncomplicated, recently wrote a post about his trip to Haiti last year. Even though he didn’t write it as a minimalism post, it really made me think. We live in such a world of abundance, and there are so many people out there that have barely anything to their name. Some of them are happy, some aren’t. But I will be that more of us in the “first world” with our “first world problems” are unhappy, even with all of our stuff.
After I read Kelvin’s post, I thought to myself, and here I am – my goal is to pare down my clothes so I only have one dresser, and some in my closet. God, we don’t know how lucky we have it! Anyway….
It snowed this morning. NO, I am not thankful for that, but I have to admit, it makes it seem all the better when the sun shines around here. I’m sincerely hoping it is the end of it, but who knows?
I took Osito out for her first walk of spring. Although we didn’t go that far (she is 14 and we have to build her endurance back up again for our summertime walks/carries), I could tell she was happy and relieved to be outside. Even little ones like to feel the sun on their face, you know?
I’m going to be seeing my best friend and her husband tonight for dinner. I don’t usually go out to dinner, and I don’t get to see her or them often enough, so it’s a definite treat for me. Something to look forward to and motivate me to get some stuff done, like this post.
Some of you are friends with me on facebook so you already know this, but I am thankful that my surgery to have my fibroids removed (and other body parts) has been scheduled. April 21st, I go under the knife. I am happy that it is the day AFTER the Boston Marathon, as I live on the route, and I love to cheer the runners on, elite runners, complete strangers and friends. Also, I’m lucky to have a few people offering to help me out with rides, pet duty, etc.
Speaking of the Boston Marathon, Jill of Jill Will Runwill be staying with me this year. This is HUGE. We have known each other online for 7 years now and we have never met face to face, before now! I’m really looking forward to taking her around to see the sights of Boston.
I paid my taxes this week. NO, I’m not thankful for the fact that I owed (due to my 1099 work last year), but I am grateful that I had the money saved to pay them.
The snow is melting. Finally! I can even see some of the soft dirt on the path around the reservoir behind my building. I’m hoping to go for a run myself this coming week, as my cold is just about gone. I think will do immeasurable things for my outlook and self-esteem.
Anyway, folks, just a short post today, which Kelvin’s post inspired me to write. (By the way, if you haven’t checked out his blog, you definitely should. He’s a great writer.)
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