Indecision . . . questioning . . . what is the “most good?”

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Image from pixabay.com 

Hi everyone!!

In case you didn’t know, I was out of town for about 11 days, from March 1st to the 11th.  Went to Boston for my dad’s memorial on March 3, and then went to Florida for a conference and to spend some time there on my own.  Since returning home, I’ve been pretty busy!!

Florida:

I LOVED Florida!! I met a lot of really nice people (one guy even gave me a big piece of finger coral which I now have sitting on my desk to remind me of my time there.)  I visited two animal sanctuaries while I was there and individual  posts will be forthcoming about those.  One was Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary in Punta Gorda, Florida (Gulf Coast side), and the other was Journey’s End Animal Sanctuary in Deland, Florida (Atlantic Coast side).  I met friends in Sarasota who I first met online via Twitter so many years ago! They were super supportive to me during my going through a divorce, so it was so nice to finally meet them and give them big hugs, and meet their kids and their dogs.

Always value the friends you make online.  For me, I think I have made some lifelong friendships that way.

I also went to a humane education conference, which was enlightening for me.  Many of the traditional humane education positions include working at an animal shelter, and with groups of kids, running things like camps and birthday parties.  I think I’ve been pretty honest on here before about my wanting to work with kids, as in, not so much.  So I need to rethink what I want to do with my humane education part of my life, going forward.  There are so many ways to use a humane education background so I’m not worried that it won’t get put to good use.

Indecision:

Many of you know I took a HUGE pay cut when I left Harvard Law Library.  HUGE.  60K HUGE. In addition to taking that cut, I can no longer put as much into retirement (of course, I no longer will need as much since my priorities as to what I need to be comfortable have changed). I also get much less time off, and the health benefits through my current company are not great.

I’ve been struggling with the notion of discontinuing the formal schooling of humane education and trying to get positions just based on what I already know and my background of experiences.  I’ve been told by a few people that I don’t need to do anymore school.  So, most likely, this semester is my last.

No education is ever wasted.  I have learned so much during these past two semesters, especially regarding how I communicate about certain issues, and my word choices.   My teachers have asked us to respond to tough questions, and they are so supportive.  I wish I had had them earlier on in my life, because I think my career path would have taken a much different path.  But….you can’t change or shape the past, only your future, so onward and forward!!

You can’t change or shape the past, only your future, so onward and forward!

Determining “most good”

I’ve been struggling with the idea of how I can do the most good for animals.  Is it by working with them directly?  Or by working at a job that  pays more but might not be necessarily working with them in a hands-on manner, or with an organization specifically dedicated to improving the rights and lives of animals?  I know, only I can know the answer to these questions.

I have seen law library jobs posted (including one at my former employer, Harvard) which I know I am qualified for.  Obviously, they pay more than one that has me working directly with animals.  Working at a job like that again would help to engage the intellectual part of my brain during those hours when I am working for my paycheck and can make a positive impact on my bank account balance.  I could help to donate more  money to causes about which I care.  All of those details are positives.

I think you know when you are doing the “most good” when you are excited to do something every day.  A lot of people say that you don’t have to change the world for all animals, as long as you change the world of a few.  Well, I think I’ve done that for some, but I also don’t feel like I’m way near the completion of improving the lives of many, many animals.

Quandaries:

There is this difficult psychological hurdle to get over when considering returning to a former type of career.  While I know that all life experiences are learning opportunities, a small part of me thinks that by returning to such a life, I’m giving up on my dreams.  Admitting defeat.

The rational side of my brain knows that if I were to go back to being a librarian, I’m not giving up on my dreams.  I’m just making a trade-off.  I might be able to help a larger number of animals if I can donate more, financially, to the cause of animal welfare.  And I will still be able to volunteer on my days off.

But, will I be happy?  Read on, below. 🙂

Trusting my Intuition and Making Decisions:

I have spent some time talking to good friends and a trusted teacher.  She asked me a question that really helped me think.  She told me to imagine that I had interviewed for my old job, gotten it, and was getting ready to return to Boston.  How did I feel?

I hesitated for a bit.  My intuition knew the answer.  My brain just felt hesitant in saying it.  But once I said my answer aloud, it was like I was giving myself permission to say good bye to a portion of my life.  The answer was “I feel like I have a pit in my stomach.  That’s how it makes me feel.”

I also told my professor that as I see jobs listed for animal sanctuaries or shelters, I get excited about applying and the possibilities that are out there for me to explore.  And that tells me something about myself.  I just can’t go back to a job that I once held, without knowing I have exhausted all avenues of finding the right place for me, first. Does that make any sense?

The long and short of it is that I will never be  a rich person, not in the monetary sense.  And I think I have finally made peace with that.  I just spent the past 6 1/2 hours today volunteering at a spay and neuter clinic along with so many other people who had given up their free time to provide a much-needed service in New Mexico and so many other places. It felt amazing.

You know something else?  I didn’t feel like what I did today at the spay and neuter clinic was work.  The time flew.  To me, that’s how I know I was doing what I needed to be doing and what I am meant to be doing.

I didn’t want to leave but knew I had to, as I have homework and freelance work to do today, and maybe get a visit in at the gym or a run at the Bosque.  (I’ve begun work with another transcription company as a legal transcriptionist.  It’s a small company, which I like.  The CEO even called me last week to welcome me aboard as a contractor and in his words, to collaborate on projects.)  I like that when I am working on a new transcription project, I’m always learning about a new topic.

Looking forward:

I have an interview this week via Skype for a position I think I am well suited for, and for an organization that is rapidly growing, so I like the idea of the potential growth something like that can include.  I’m not one of those people who needs to feel like they are always moving upward in a job to feel like they are successful.  But I do like the idea of being able to contribute a lot.  So WISH ME LUCK!  (And if it doesn’t come through, then I know the right place and job is still out there, waiting.  The right place is out there.   I just have to have hope that we will find each other.)

And thanks for reading as always, and being patient these past few weeks since I last posted.  Now that I am back in ABQ, for now, anyway, I will try to get back on track with more regular posting.

Have you ever had to make a decision between taking the safe route or finding your way to a destination unknown? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep paddling, keep paddling, keep paddling, don’t stop.

Ever feel like you’re treading water or like you’re one of those ducks you see swimming on the pond?  You know, looking all graceful and put together, but underneath the surface, there’s a whole lot of stuff going on?

School and Freelance Work:

That about sums things up for me these past few days.  Been getting up at 5 or 5:30, drink coffee, eat a bagel or something else for breakfast and then get started on whatever project needs to be done that day, or on which I think I can make the most headway.  Busy reading not one but two books for my classes at the same time.

Doing some transcribing for my friend Elaine.  Readying myself to work with another company on a weekly basis so I will still have freelance work when Elaine shuts down her company in the upcoming months. (In case you’re wondering from my last post – I decided to only apply to one outside transcribing company, not the three that I was considering.  I was just getting way too stressed thinking about getting all of that work done and finishing my school assignments.  Oh yes, and sleep – sleep is important!!)

Self-Care:

Trying to work out about 3-4 times per week.  I reward myself with 10 minutes on the hydro massage beds that Planet Fitness has for Black Card members afterwards.

Writing:

Writing about who I am as a writer for one of my classes, and trying to not freeze while I’m doing it.   I feel a bit like a fraud.  I just throw words down on the paper, thinking I can go back and edit it afterwards, or if something else comes to me, I can add it then.  There is shortage of ideas or topics I would like to explore with my writing, but who am I as a writer?? That halts the flow of ideas and thoughts.

I don’t know why I feel this way about my writing sometimes.  Maybe it’s because I don’t feel like I can define myself in just one or two terms.

“I’ve been finding it easier to write in the essay about what I want to be as a writer rather than what I am now.”

I want to be a fiction writer.  I want to write a memoir — everybody keeps telling me I should write a book about my life since my path has been so unusual.  But who would want to read about my life??

Reviewing Books:

I am so flattered to have been contacted by Ashland Creek Press, located in Ashland, Oregon.  They’ve asked me if I would like to receive some review copies of their books.  Wow!  This is how they describe themselves on their “About Us” page:

Changing the world one book at a time

Ashland Creek Press is a vegan-owned boutique publisher dedicated to publishing books with a world view. We’re passionate about the environment, animal protection, ecology, and wildlife, and our goal is to publish books that combine these themes with compelling stories.

So let’s see — do they seem like a perfect company for me with which to stay in contact??!!  Hell yes!!!

Vegan-owned? Check!
Publishes books with a world view? Check!
Passionate about animals, environment, wildlife and ecology? Check!

So I’ve asked them to send copies of two books to me and I will let you know as soon as I’m done with them, my thoughts.  I would have asked them for more but didn’t want to seem piggish. 🙂

Take a look at their page if you share any of these same interests with me! (And no, they are not compensating me to mention them.)  I’m so excited to see that there are publishers out there who are focused on such markets and topics!

Keeping it all together:

You could say I’m busy, but if you know me, you know that’s the way I am and like to be.  I like to be productive.  I believe my friend Dan would call my hyper-focused at times, or the Energizer Bunny.  I find that using a paper planner and setting a few goals for myself each day helps me keep organized and on track.

“I’ve also been reminding myself to breathe.  I’m a human.  I can’t do it all.  Just focus on what I can get done every day.”

As I’ve said in a recent post, if I want to make changes to my life, I have to do the work.  You can’t just sit around and complain or wish for your life to change, magically, without any effort.

Have you ever felt like there is a bit of pandemonium in your life?   How have you kept things under control? 

As always, thank you for reading!! Please share if this post has helped you or if you know someone that could benefit from it.

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Chasing your dreams, even simple ones, can be difficult sometimes

 

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Image via pixabay.com

I just found out the other day via LinkedIn that a former coworker of mine just left Harvard Law to take a new position at another university, and from the sound of her title, it sounds pretty high up there.  I’m sure the salary corresponds to it well.  This person is a very smart cookie and knows how to negotiate.  (It was only after she got hired there several years ago that myself and another coworker were then given substantial raises in salary (ahem, readjustments.))

Why do I even mention this?  Because it made me feel kind of crappy.  I mean, I was happy for her.  She has always been a very hard worker and an excellent librarian.  She manages working full time with twins and has since had another baby.  And now she has this big-time sounding job. And here I am, scrimping to get by on just under $25K per year, not counting in my freelance work.  It made me question myself.

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Image via pixabay.com

Experiencing Compassion Fatigue and Feeling Burnt Out:

I think I have begun experiencing what they refer to as compassion fatigue.  Receiving multiple calls, day after day, from people who have just adopted a pet but can’t afford to take care of them, can really get to you.  Getting a call in which someone says “my pet just got hit by a car, but I don’t get paid until next week,” is really rough.  I’d love to say to them, “I can help you pay for that,” but the reality is that on $12.50/hour, it’s just not possible.  I have my own bills to take care of.

I’m taking a class in Animal Protection this semester.  I’m going to have some hard emotions to work through.  I already know that.  When I read about factory farmed animals, I experience physiological changes.  I feel it in my heart and in my throat.  I want to yell, scream, or hit something. (Not my pets, of course.  They actually help calm me down.)

The film Earthlings is assigned for us at one point.  (That link goes to the Wikipedia description of the film.)  The teacher has made it clear in the syllabus that we have the option to not watch it.  I haven’t yet figured out if I will or not.  I don’t want to have nightmares as a result, but in learning to be a humane educator, a part of me feels it’s necessary to bear witness to what is going on in this world so I can better advocate and educate humans for those who can’t speak.

Did I also mention that I have been trying to find extra side work with a few transcribing companies?  I have, and going through the assessment process can be somewhat stressful.  But the good news is, this morning I found out from one that they would like to work with me.

Stressing about finding a job in my field or determining what that field is:

In addition to feeling a bit burn out, I’ve been starting to feel a bit down about finding a job that really makes me feel like I’m making a difference and having the funds to make a move sooner rather than later.  (I’d like it to be in the next year or two.)  I spent some time talking/texting with my friend Dan, and applied to be a member of the APHE (Association of Professional Humane Educators) so that I could start networking with others in the field.  My application is currently pending.

They (the APHE) are hosting a conference this March in Orlando, Florida so I’m considering going, but it would be a substantial financial investment for someone at my income level.  And while I like meeting people, and can be extroverted at times, I hate the idea of schmoozing.  I’m just not a schmoozer.  Makes me nauseous when I see others doing it, and my past experiences at conferences showed me that a lot of that goes on.  I hope this field is different, though. So I will let you know if I decide to go.

All of these reasons are why I haven’t posted in about a week.  I just didn’t feel I had anything positive to say, and you know what they say – if you don’t have anything good to say, best to say nothing at all.  It could be the cold weather we have here in ABQ, or the fact that it’s winter, or the fact that payday is still two days away, but I’ve been feeling a bit down.  I’m working through it the best I can.  And trying to get enough sleep.  But nothing is a miracle cure.

Change in my personal life:

Oh, and I broke up with the Canadian boyfriend a few weeks ago.  I’m sure that having that in the background of my mind doesn’t help.  We still talk occasionally.   I know it’s for the better but I think subconsciously, it brings back some feelings I experienced when I left my marriage.  That fear of being alone for the rest of your life and wondering if there’s something wrong with you.  However, truth is, I think I’m not in the right head space or life space to be in a relationship right now.  Not when I’m trying to figure out a lot of things.

I hope you are all doing well, despite the cold and heavy snowfall a lot of the country has been experiencing lately.  Please drop me a line and let me know how things are going for you, or if you’ve felt down at times, and what you’ve done to pull yourself out of it.  Or share this post with someone you think would appreciate or benefit from it.  And as always, thanks for reading.

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If you need to shop online, I’d greatly appreciate it if you use my Amazon affiliate links or Ebates referral link! Every little bit helps, and it costs you nothing to do so. Thank you!

Just being brutally honest

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Image from pixabay.com

Since taking a good hard look at my finances the other day, and seeing that my money is so tight, I’ve highly felt the need to earn some extra income.   And cut my expenses even more, if that’s even possible.

I won’t lie to  you. I felt moments of sheer panic.  Moments when I could feel my breath becoming shallow.  And wondering if I would ever be able to move someplace near the water and even afford $600/month again for rent, or even a tiny house mortgage?

I also felt anger at myself for not being able to afford a simple one bedroom apartment on my own.  Me, the one with the law degree and the master’s in library science now working on yet another degree.  How is it I’m only making $24,000??? What is WRONG with me and why did I throw so much away?? WHAT WAS I THINKING?

So, I’m here to tell  you that while yes, it’s important to follow or “chase” your dreams,  it is not always easy.  My life and apartment look nothing like those Instagram photos that people like to share where they always wake up near a gorgeous sunrise and everything is all hunky-dory.

I’m still using those plastic drawers for my clothes I had in my RV.  I have book crates that I use as book cases and as the base for my bed which has a mattress on it from Walmart that I bought for a whopping $129 and because it could be easily shipped to my house, and unrolled from the box and voila, a bed is born!  Oh, have I mentioned my bed is in the living room which is now mainly my bedroom? (By the way, the mattress works just fine.  No need for me to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars.)

I’m 45. This is definitely NOT how I thought I would be living my life 20 years ago.  Not even 10 years ago, or even when my marriage ended.  But then again, back then, I was anything but honest with myself.

So, back to those moments of panic I was feeling.  They were combined with feelings of anxiousness at wanting to do so many things at one time to get myself into a better financial position.  Should I apply to all the transcription companies I can find? Should I apply to be a transcription editor?  (So far I’ve heard back from the three I applied to, and they’re interested in going further through the process of me.)   Should I spend the $199 for the freelance writing course I just heard about from one of my favorite YouTubers, Kristin Wong, as an investment in my future goals of wanting to create income through my writing?  (Here is her YouTube channel.)

And if I do get multiple positions for transcribing, and I start writing and submitting to places, and I’m still going through the humane education program, HOW CAN I POSSIBLY DO IT ALL? Will I have time to sleep?

And what if I’m just kidding myself?  What if I never get published anywhere, and my writing actually sucks?  Oh, sure, I can talk a good game sometimes about how I want to derive more of my income from writing and transcription jobs, when push comes to shove, and I sit down and try to write for anything other than this blog, I get scared and all that negative self-talk finds its way to occupy center stage in my mind?  I know some REALLY GOOD writers who struggle to make ends meet.  How could I dare to think I might have any better luck than them?

Do you see the spiraling that was occurring in my mind? I do, looking at it now.  And I started to feel it then, and caught myself staring off into space, trying to figure it all out.  The good thing is, I recognized it for what it was.  Panic.  And I forced myself to breathe.  And then I pulled out my journal.

To calm myself, I forced myself to write down three questions, all having the word FOCUS being written in all caps.

  1.  FOCUS – What  am I good at?
  2.  FOCUS – What do I like to do?
  3.  FOCUS – What am I unhappy about with my life right now?

Yes, that third question can quite possibly grow out of control if I let it.  But I felt like the first two were more positive and might help me figure out my way of dealing with what gets listed under the third.  Below is what I came up with at that time.

What am I good at? 

Writing, proofreading, transcribing, research

What do I like to do? 

Write, color, be outside in nature, exercise, spend time with my animals, read/edit other people’s work, research, read, teach others

I noticed that the word write/writing was in both categories, as was the word “research.”  It shouldn’t have come as a surprise considering it’s what I loved about being an English major in college – writing.  It is what got me through law school – writing for and getting published by the Environmental Law Journal, and all that research that went along with it.  It’s what kept me in my job as a librarian for so many years – my love of research.  The hunt and the thrill of finding something you thought might just be impossible to uncover.  (And it’s what I miss now.)

And that’s when I thought to myself, “You’ve always been a hard worker.  When push comes to shove, you get out there and work your ass off, just like your mom.  You CAN and WILL change your life, your location.  It might not happen overnight.  But you WILL find a way.”

So, I’m trying.  I’m trying to get that extra work.  I did sign up for the writing course because I’d like to learn from someone who has been successful in the world of freelance writing.  I am going through the assessment process for a few transcription companies and I’m going to apply for a proofreading (independent contractor) position this week.  And when school starts, I will do my best to keep it all together.  And I WILL make enough money to live on like a normal person! 🙂

Eventually, I WILL live near the coast in a warmer climate than Boston!

So when you start to feel overwhelmed, like I did, just take a moment and stop yourself. Start writing down things that are going through your mind. FOCUS.  And see the commonalities.  And then, instead of just moaning and groaning about how you don’t like your present situation, take one step.  Just start doing SOMETHING to change your situation.  YOU will have taken control.  Not your anxiety or your fears.  YOU.

I hope this post can help someone else as it’s been cathartic for me to write it. Please hit the like button, or subscribe to my blog, comment below or share it with someone it might help.  And, thank you, as always, for reading!

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If you need to shop online, I’d greatly appreciate it if you use my Amazon affiliate links or Ebates referral link! Every little bit helps, and it costs you nothing to do so. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do I value and why do I save?

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image courtesy of pixabay.com

I feel like these two questions are interrelated (at least for me) so I’m going to try to tackle them in one post.  When I thought about my long term goals, these questions inevitably rose up in my mind.  And because I love that feeling of opening a journal and finding a blank page and then covering it in ink, I started writing a few lists.

What do I value? (not in any specific order)

  • independence and me-time (to create, to think, to just be content)
  • time in nature
  • exercise/physical fitness
  • eating food that is good for me
  • family
  • my animals (and all the other animals out there)
  • writing and being able to express myself creatively
  • reading

I just noticed something – money doesn’t show up in that list.   Hmmmmm

But now here is the list of why I save:

  • so I can buy a tiny house to provide shelter for myself and my furbabies
  • so I can buy some land on which to put my tiny house
  • to be able to write more often and eventually be able to be more of my own boss
  • so I never have to face my phobia of being homeless
  • so I won’t have to work for the rest of my life and can eventually retire

Yes, I have a phobia (or very strong fear) of being homeless.  And living in Albuquerque, there are reminders of this possibility at so many intersections, with people holding signs asking for money or food.   I think the fear goes back to my early childhood, when my parents got divorced and our income was so drastically reduced at the drop of a hat.  It’s a fear that came back full-force when I thought of leaving my husband back in 2010, and ultimately did.  I think it’s a fear I will always have somewhere in the back of my mind. But it’s a fear that also helps to reinforce to me what I do value and why I save money with every paycheck.

What do you value?  And why do you save?  Do  you see the two as being interrelated? 

Please drop me a line below and share your thoughts.  And if you know someone who might enjoy this post, please share it! Thanks, as always, for reading.

 

 

 

 

Another Year

trees with path.jpgYesterday was my birthday.  My 45th, to be exact.  In her card, my mom reminded me that it’s only another 5 years until I hit the big 5-0.  Thanks, Mom.  Just what I wanted to hear.  My sister (who is 47) and I have made a pact to not really talk about the numbers anymore at this stage of our lives.  Too depressing.  We try to not think about the fact that our two older brothers are 56 and 57 this year. And our baby brother is 43.

At the risk of sounding like a walking cliche, I really don’t feel my age.  Maybe it’s because I never had kids and therefore didn’t deal with that kind of stress and exhaustion.  (I know having a family is not all bad.  It just wasn’t for me.)  Maybe it’s because I still have vivid memories of my teenage years, my twenties (when I was an idiot like so many of us were), and of course, my thirties, when I really started to wake up and see who I was as a person.  When I started listening to my heart and made big, life-changing decisions.

The boyfriend and I talked the other night and I mentioned how, presently, my outlook on life is to not try to stress out so much over things like overpaying for something by $5-6, because really, it’s not going to matter a year from now.  And I’m certainly not taking my money to the grave with me when I die.  True, I try to be smart about financial decisions, but I don’t let one mistake ruin my day, or try not to, anyway.   I told him, people make decisions based on the information they have available to them at the time, so don’t beat yourself up over what hindsight presently shows you about the past.  Best to just learn from it and move on.

Recently, some people whose opinion I really value have told me that what they admire about me is my ability to express myself and be honest about things. (Hope I’m paraphrasing accurately, Pauline and Josh.)  They’re from two very different parts of my life, yet they see something in common.  So here’s the honest truth about what’s on my mind these days.

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Am I happy with my life?  Yes, and no. Do I wonder if I made the right decision two years ago to just leave everything and everyone I was familiar with to move thousands of miles away? Yes, quite often.  Do I feel like I’ve grown a lot in the past two years in understanding more of what my core values are? A resounding yes. Do I wish I made more money?  Yes! (I’m beginning to think there is some truth to the research that says once you make about $50-55K, any increases over that don’t increase your level of happiness as much as they might have done when increasing your income from say $25K-30K and then to 35K.)

Am I enjoying the academic program I’m taking part in with the Institute for Humane Education?  Yes, because it’s making me think critically about issues that are important to me.  It’s making me look inward and helping me to figure out what direction to take my life in from here.

Notice I said, “what direction to take my life in.”  I am not content to let life happen to me.  It’s a somewhat uncomfortable place to be in, trying to figure out that direction, and knowing that I may never get it right, but that the real value is in the interim, that space in time and location when I’m trying to figure it all out.

Where do I want to be?  Where do I want to end up?  In the mountains or near the coast?  Do I miss being able to educate others and inspire them to expand on their learning or research skills? Do I miss the change of seasons?  Do I like the warmer winters?  Do I miss seeing big bodies of water? YES! Am I grateful for having met so many new people over the past two years? YES!  Do I still think about doing the nomadic thing at one point in my life? Yes! Do I want a tiny house or the stability of being in one place and being able to create beauty there through my words and a garden? Yes!

Do I want to spend more of my days writing? YESSS!!!!  Do I think eventually I can do that?  Yes, I WILL make it happen.  But how? Do I try to find work through the content mills or do I start pitching ideas to editors or just sit down and force that book or books out of me that I’ve been trying to get out of my head and onto paper?

Lots of contradictions and questions to sort out, to be sure.  And I may never get it all truly sorted out.  Accepting that thought as a possibility is difficult.  I may never do so.

Outside, the sky is gray today (very unlike yesterday, when I took the pictures you see in this post, which are from the Bosque.)   I realize I like both types of days, which makes me wonder, maybe parts of me still want to be in the Pacific Northwest (or does it mean I miss the change of seasons, and in effect, my family, or the Northeast?)  So many questions to sort out.

This post has been much longer than normal, so if you have read this far, I appreciate it.  I truly do appreciate all the comments that you leave me here on this blog, and on my facebook pages when I post them.  I learn from each and every one of them. And if I see someone hit the “like” button, I feel grateful for having touched that person in some way. I write for myself, and to help create a community.

Thanks for joining me on this journey. And as always, thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

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. 🙂