Running and Thinking, Staying Positive

 

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Something I’ve begun doing – laying on the grass and taking pictures of the trees and sky above.

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.

 

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Taken from the Sandia Crest – altitude of 10,678 feet.

 

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. 🙂

 

 

 

Adjusting….again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feeling blessed

Reservoir unfrozen!

Reservoir unfrozen!

Sometimes it’s the simple things that set you up for having a good day and a good mood. For me, this morning, it was running before sunrise. My beloved reservoir has finally completely unfrozen, and if you start running early enough, you can have it all to yourself. On Saturday mornings, I need to open the gym by 8 a.m. so if I’m going to work out before then, it’s going to have to be pretty early! So this morning, I got my butt up and got running by around 5:45. Sunrise was set for about 6:13 a.m. There is just something about being able to run while the moon is still out and the sun is starting to come up.

I run to music but I kept my loudness level down for the first loop around, just so I could hear the geese calling to each other, and also for safety reasons, in case anyone was to sneak up  on me. Right now, the vegetation around the reservoir has yet to fill in (our spring explosion of color has not happened yet, but I suspect it might start this week as the temperatures are slowly starting to creep upward.) It was just a short run – probably about 3.3 or 3.5 miles in total but it was all I knew I had time for and it was just enough to wake me up and feel blessed for being able to run.

I know that after my surgery, I won’t be able to run for about 6 weeks. I’ll only be able to ride a stationary bike or walk which is going to be hard for someone as active as me. I also can’t lift any weights more than 8 pounds for 6 weeks. I usually dumbbell press 30 pounds in each hand right now, so I hope to not lose too much of my fitness. I know this surgery is necessary if I want to get rid of these fibroids and start feeling more like myself when I look in the mirror.

To explain what I mean about my stomach — the doc told me the other day that my uterus is about the size of a woman who is 20 weeks into her pregnancy. So you can imagine how depressing and disheartening it has been for someone who normally works out 4-5 times per week to look in the mirror and see that. However, in the last month as I have changed my diet, I’ve seen the stomach I used to know come back, slowly. Parts of my abs are becoming more defined as I’ve been trying to work them hard in advance of the surgery. The middle bulge is still there, but I know its days are limited and that makes me extremely happy.

Again, I’m not a vain person but I do pride myself on being able to push myself harder than a lot of folks who are my age. I like being the girl dressed in pink at the gym, standing next to the guys in the free weights section and being able to use some of the same size weights as them for some exercises! The hard work pays off as most people think I’m a lot younger than I really am. And the change in my diet to being vegan has also done a great deal for my self-esteem or morale. I used to think of how little will power I had when I would walk by cookies or cakes, etc., and now I can look at something and if it has “milk” or dairy in it, I just think of the animals that have suffered for it, and it’s amazing how that urge goes away.

The sun has started to shine a lot more in the northeast after several days of drizzle and rain. It is so freeing to no longer be a slave to the bus schedule! When I’m riding along in the rain and beginning to feel miserable about the weather, I just think to myself how much money I’m saving by using  my own two legs to get back and forth to places, rather than driving a car. That, and the fact that my rain jacket and rain pants were SO worth the money I spent on them. 🙂

The weather really does affect how I feel about my day to day life, and so I am glad I am going to be someplace warmer by next year. You can see the differences in Bostonian’s faces as the weather warms – we’re still “tough” on the outside, but you can tell people are feeling better with the warmth. During that period of February when we got almost 9 feet of snow, I cannot tell you how miserable and exhausted everyone was, but I’m sure your imagination can fill in the gaps. I’ve never heard so many car horns with so much frequency, and that’s saying something in this town, known for its rude drivers!

I was also able to see a good friend yesterday that I had not seen in a while. She’s part of our animal loving “tribe.” She said that when she came into my apartment she felt like she was looking at one of those pictures that asks “how many cats do you count in this picture?!” She held Osito for a little while and Osito worked her usual magic, licking her hands as her way of giving kisses. It’s impossible to not love that little girl when she does that or plays “hard to catch” and runs back and forth in the living room with me. (I’m telling you, for an almost completely blind dog, she gets around pretty well!)

Anyway, this is all my long-winded way of saying how blessed and grateful I feel on days like today. I know in my heart that I’m on the right path. As I found myself picking out kitchen cabinets the other day, I thought to myself, “wow, this is so surreal.” After so many months of planning, things are starting to fall into place. I watched another movie the other day that had profound effects on me – I’ll write more about it in a separate post, and started reading a book called Farm Sanctuary by Gene Baur. With every page I read, I think my future is becoming clearer and clearer. It’s a great feeling, one I wish for all of you.

Have a great weekend! If you’ve liked this post, please hit like or subscribe or drop me a line below and let me know for what reasons you feel blessed some days!