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. 🙂

 

 

 

Decisions, and other words that start with D

I started writing this post about a month or so ago. It’s funny how some blog posts seem to pour right out of me like a thunderstorm, and others are like so many of the storm clouds I see around where I’m living right now. They hang around and you think something’s going to happen, and you get excited thinking about it all day long (that is, if you like storms like I do), and then at the end of the day, nothing, nada, zip. Just a bunch of dark clouds.

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Dark clouds like this are common during monsoon season.

So… I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. About what I really value in life and what I think is wrong now and what can be fixed, etc.  I think for a bit there, I was fighting a relapse into depression.  I was avoiding going to see a doctor because I was worried the visit would cost me several hundred dollars since I have a $750 deductible with my insurance plan. I’d been rationing my prozac supply so it could last as long as possible. But the 20 mg is just not enough, I know that now. I was beginning to feel more like when I was first officially diagnosed, right after my husband and I split. It was not as severe, but it definitely didn’t feel right, or good. So I started taking 40 mg.

I also decided to go to a nurse practitioner, thinking the office visit would be less than seeing the doc in charge. I also asked for a new prescription for Wellbutrin. Using the two in combination worked for me in the past. I remembered how I used to feel confident about myself, and even happy.  It’s been a few weeks now since I’ve been on the 40 mg and the wellbutrin, and the combo seems to be working well. A few days ago, on a drive home from Flagstaff with a friend, I looked out the window at the nighttime landscape and remembered, “this is what it used to feel like. When I was confident and felt at peace about stuff.” It’s just that it’s different now. Now I’m living that part of my life I was only thinking about doing, then. 

If you’ve never experienced clinical depression, you might wonder how I knew. What were the warning signs? Well, I knew I was relapsing because I’d been starting to feel stressed about one item, and then my mind would let loose and start stressing about other things. It would start what I can only describe as a spiraling effect. Anti-depressants like Prozac help in that they help your mind to take a moment to say “wait, stop, think about what is really going here…think logically, not emotionally.”  The Wellbutrin works with another part of your brain, because sometimes Prozac, in helping you to calm down and think, can also make you feel kind of blah. (At least for some people.) So Wellbutrin helps to counteract that. You can feel more pleasure in your life. It’s not a happy pill, though. You still have to do the work on yourself. I was also finding that I wanted to just go to sleep at night, or I was having problems getting up in the morning. The idea of working out in the am just sounded exhausting. I didn’t see any point in doing anything.

So that is one decision I made. I acknowledged what was going on with me, inside, and decided to do something about it.

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I try to enjoy this view as much as possible. There is an overlook at my apt complex – that’s the southern end of Lake Powell below.

Debt. Well, yes, I have it again. A credit card balance. I did have two – I decided to take some money out of savings and pay off one of them – the one that was accruing interest. And that credit card has gone into the freezer. It is encased in a HUGE block of ice in a mason jar. The other card has a zero percent interest rate for 21 months, so now it’s time to chip away at it. I’ve also put a savings thermometer on my wall so I can track my progress. It’s posted right near the door so I see it everytime I leave for work.

Other decisions have not been so cut and dry and not so much set in stone. Yes, I know I want to leave this area by the time my lease is up, if not before. But as to where I’m going, thas been in flux. When I first started writing this post, I had decided, “that’s it, I’m moving back east.” I was so decided that I even posted about it on facebook. Because, you see, that’s how I hold myself accountable (usually.) I put it out there and then feel like I have to follow through with it. But here’s the thing. That’s the kind of thinking that got me into a lot of trouble with certain decisions in my life. The idea that because I had started law school, I had to finish it, no matter  how miserable it made me. The idea that I needed to stick it out in my marriage when I was so unhappy, because that’s what was expected of me, and what I expected of myself, because that’s what you do. You stick things out and make them work. 

I’m realizing now in life, though, that things don’t have to be set in stone. Decisions can be made and decisions can be changed. I don’t have to have everything always figured out and planned ahead of time.  And just because I decide to change up on things doesn’t mean I am a quitter or a failure. I don’t know why I have always been so hard on myself. I just have.

I’m realizing maybe the southwest isn’t so bad after all – maybe it’s just the location where I am now, or the fact that it’s such a small town and such an extremely different from where I spent so much of my life, that has made me feel like a fish out of water. I said to a friend recently, I feel like in this town, I’m just a visitor. I don’t feel like I really, and truly, belong here. So I’m going to try out other places in the southwest, even if it’s just with a few trips. I’m going to road trip to Albuquerque when the season is over (at least that’s the current plan) to check it out. It looks like a city where the cost of living is a lot less expensive, the food is amazing, the winters are a lot milder than back east, the city is surrounded by beautiful mountains, lots of running and hiking trails, there are universities and colleges (and therefore, more options for jobs should I go that route) and a lot of diversity. I know not everyone likes it there (Jen, are you reading this?!) but that doesn’t mean that I won’t.

I’ll be honest, folks. I am SICK and TIRED of living in expensive places where I spend so much time worrying and working to pay rent.  Yes, I know there will be shitty areas of town wherever I look, as there are shitty areas of town in any city in this country. As long as I can afford to not live in a horrible section, and feel safe when I sleep at night, I consider that a positive. In fact, I will look for the smallest place possible, because as you know, I don’t like a bunch of extra crap in my life. If I question getting something, I just ask myself, “Do I want to move this in the future?” That kind of question really helps you to prioritize possessions.

I’ve decided to get back into working out regularly. A friend and I individually used to work out 5-6 days per week, and neither one of us can stand how we feel. I’ve begun running again, and just the other day, bought myself some new Hoka One One Running Shoes (the Clayton model, to be exact.)  And I made sure I could afford them since I’ve worked so much overtime lately. I’m headed to the gym this morning to run on the treadmill a bit, and then do some weights. Tomorrow, I’ve been invited to go canyoneering which is exciting and terrifying at the same time since it involves rappeling and I do have a fear of heights. But I’ve pushed through that kind of fear before when I learned how to do top roping, and I remember the feeling of confidence it gave me afterward. I need to continue pushing myself out of my comfort zone. And I really do want to see other parts of this area where I live. It’s not safe to go hiking by yourself in the desert, which is why I’ve felt constrained and unhappy, not being able to do it before now. So, I’m glad to have the opportunity to do it tomorrow. If you see another blog post from me, you’ll know I’ve survived. 🙂

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I leave you with this pic of Max, one of the loves of my life. He’s a bit of a drama queen, as you can see from this photo. ❤

Anyway, again, sorry for the long delay in posts. I hope I haven’t worried some of you with my silence.

 

 

 

Fighting Loneliness & Homesickness – Lee’s Ferry pics

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One of many HUGE boulders seen alongside a large hill along the route to Lee’s Ferry from Bitter Springs.  Note all the boulders in the background. 

Some astute folks have left comments on my blog lately that have really made me think about them for a long time afterward and marvel at how some people can see things inside of you that you might have trouble facing yourself. I apologize in advance if this post seems kind of all over the place, but as usual, writing it down helps me to confront the turmoil going on in my mind. Thank God for my pets who always seem to know or sense when something is going on with me. As I’ve been writing this post, HoneyBun has stuck like glue to my side.

Please enjoy the pics I took last week on my trip to Lee’s Ferry, which is about 50 miles from me, and still part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. I had a separate post I was writing about the day trip, but decided I needed to get this one published instead, and thought some of you might enjoy these at the same time.

Someone mentioned to me that maybe I should move back to where I am within a day’s drive from my mom. And I have to admit, I’ve not mentioned this aloud to many, but I will be traveling back east next May for my brother’s wedding. My lease ends on April 30th of next year, so there have been parts of me that have thought about combining that trip with a move back east at the same time. It would cut down on costs (i.e. already spending the money for the wedding, it would just be driving instead of flying).  I’m not sure to where I would move yet – I still hate the very cold winters of the northeast and I wouldn’t say I would want to live in Boston again – to do so without the same kind of job would be pretty hard financially as it’s an expensive city to live in if you don’t make good money. I think I would want to move somewhere where I had a simpler pace of life, and could do more with animals or the environment and actually be able to survive financially. So maybe someplace further south, like the Carolinas, etc. I’m just not sure yet.

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View from the pedestrian bridge of the Colorado River below – this is Navajo Bridge, which is on the eastern rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s along the route to Lee’s Ferry.

I told my sis (in law) Geneva last week that when I picture my ideal living situation, it’s in a small cabin or cottage near some woods. It’s a place where I can have a garden, live quietly and take my dog (or dogs if we are seeing far into the future) for a walk. A place where I can have quiet time but not feel isolated at the same time. A place that isn’t too far from a small city that has amenities for myself and my animals like a vet or emergency vet, and things to do. She said “where you have woods, you will have snow.” So I’m realizing that might be a trade off I need to make. Now, more than ever, the statement that life is about compromises makes more sense than ever.

I’d love to hear suggestions from folks about places that might have  a decent cost of living, where someone like me could make a difference, find a community of like-minded folks – people who respect animals or don’t look at me like I’m a freak for not wanting to eat meat, etc. (It’s just not the norm where I am now.)   And I MISS grass. I miss the color green. I really do. It’s made me think about moving to the mountains of Colorado – places like Grand Junction where the winters do get some snow but not a crazy amount because it’s on the western slope of the Rockies. But again, if I did that, I’m still a long way away from friends and family, for the most part.

Moving west was always something I wanted to do for quite a long time. And to experience something new and push myself. But it’s hard, I mean, really really hard to do all of this on your own. If I had a partner, it might be different. There is always that other person to lean on. Without that, I lean on friends, ones that I know will always tell it to me like it is and who don’t have a vested interest in seeing me act one way or another. My brother and sister in law who are nomads but recently have been in AZ for a while have given me frank thoughts and Geneva can always be counted on to tell it like it is, whether or not I want to hear it. My friend Dan is also very patient and listens to each of my cockamamy ideas and as I get excited about one thing, he knows it is usually just a matter of days til I am on to something else in my mind – something else to research and look into. Poor Dan – I know he doesn’t sleep much so even though there is a three hour time difference, he gets the brunt of my texting, etc. (Both he and my friend Anne, who recently commented on here, think I need to give myself time to think before pondering next moves and I know they are right. It’s just the stress about my finances, which I get into below, that has me thinking about it already.)

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I’ve not edited this pic at all – the sky was really that color that day. 

One person mentioned in the comments that it sounded like if I made a decision to change things or give up on what I am doing now (something to that effect, I’m paraphrasing) that I might view what I am doing now as having been a failure. And I think, in some regards, that is very true.  It’s like I will have viewed this past year or two as one big expensive mistake – giving up everything I owned back east other than what would fit in my car, just to replace some of it here, and put it in an RV, which I ultimately sold within 8 months, to getting an apartment that costs too much for the area, to changing jobs from something that fulfilled my soul to something that pays better to allow me to care for my fur family. I feel like I have spent a lot of money over the past year and now I second guess myself a lot. Was i wrong to move from Boston? Was I wrong to leave the comfort of my friends and family far away? Was it all for nothing if I move back? And even if I don’t find it all to be a failure, “Jesus, Terri, did you have to spend so much doing it??”  Part of me (irrationally) worries about those who thought I was insane to leave last year will look at me and go (even if only in their minds)….hm, I told you so….

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Loved the shadows of the clouds above on the sandstone formations below.

I’m feeling stressed right now because I am not sure what is going to go on with my job this winter. I found out the pay for what i thought I would be doing was going to be a LOT less than what I had expected, so that super stressed me out. As in, it would be a bit more than half of what I am making now, and with my rent, what I am making now allows me to pay my bills and make a bit of a payment on my credit cards, but not much. To go down to almost half of that was pretty much going to force me to stop saving for my car insurance, my brother’s wedding, get deferments or forebearances on my student loans and still leave me with about $100 to eat for the month and prayers that nothing would go wrong. In short, it would pretty much be next to impossible. Or get a second job and work a whole bunch of hours just to keep the lights on and food on the table (or couch, in the case of HoneyBun and Callie who move to their self-assigned positions at meal time.)  I understand my boss and her boss have come up with another alternative for me but I just don’t know what that is yet. Trying to not dwell or stress about it but I’ve never dealt well with a lot of uncertainty. Hoping to discuss that with my boss soon so at least I can figure out some plans.

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Yes, this is the Colorado River! Even in the heat of June, the water was still (and I understand, always) very cold to the touch. It was very refreshing that day as I stood in it, up to my shins.

Starting tomorrow, on the days where I don’t have to go into work until noon (I usually work 3 closing shifts per week which means 12-8:30 or so), I’m going to start going into town to the animal shelter to work with the animals there. My friend that runs it said that at that point, it’s not too hot to walk the dogs. That would give me a reason to get up early in the morning like I used to (lately, I feel like I’ve been sleeping too much and have no ambition to get up and exercise early.) In fact, I feel like I have not had much ambition to do much lately. My friend Liz from back east remarked to me that it’s so NOT like me to not get up and exercise every day, and she’s right. Although she didn’t say it at the time, I think she’s worried about me in that regard, and I am too. I feel like I’m kind of just existing and I hate feeling like this. I need goals and reasons to exist. I just feel like I am floundering right now. Other than going to work and taking care of my animals and the occasional trip to Lone Rock Beach, I don’t feel like I have much direction. 

So I guess that’s it – I just needed to get this post out there. Thanks, as always, for reading. I would love to hear any of your thoughts on this.

 

 

 

 

 

Torn….part two

I had a few other things I wanted to talk about in my last post, but as I was writing it the other day I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and just really wanted to get what I had written out there, and published. There are a few other things that have pushing and pulling at me lately, too.

But first, I do want to say thank you to everyone who read my last post and especially, thank you to those of you who left your thoughts, both on the blog and on facebook and in text messages. They really help and give me new perspectives to think about, and a couple even brought tears to my eyes, so thank you. I really mean it.

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Mother Nature does some amazing work. This photo doesn’t even do the sunset from this evening, justice.

One of the things I love about where I live are the amazing vistas. Vistas that you don’t see the likes of on the east coast because the topography is just so different. But you also get those vistas because towns are few and far in between. National park areas or recreational areas are kind of spread out, out here. And for me, I have to admit, it’s taking some adjusting, and not necessarily in a good way. I lived on the east coast for my entire life, and there, you don’t have to drive 75 miles to get from one small town to another small town. I have to travel about 120 miles to get to the nearest decent-sized city. In Massachusetts, where I lived until last year, that kind of drive would have taken you almost completely from the easternmost side of the state to the western side of the state. Seriously. It would have. I remember well driving the MA turnpike and seeing the signs saying about “Boston – 156 miles.”

Can I be honest? I love the desert vistas, but I miss trees. When I wrote an earlier post on reflection about my time driving to home from my family in Clarkdale, AZ, I posted a picture of a gorgeous spot I found on the drive through Oak Creek. I felt comfortable there because it reminded of the woods you see back east. A friend commented that in my list of spontaneous words that came to mind as I sat there was the word “green.” She might have been onto something.

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the amazing sky over Lone Rock (picture unedited to show true colors)

At times when I lived back east, I wished for more quiet. Now that I have that quiet, in spades, I wish for more stuff to be going on, or at least, for the opportunity to have  more stuff going on. I like the simplicity of a small town – I don’t have lots of options for entertainment, so that saves me money, but god, it would be nice to have that option at the same time to go see a museum or an event or even a farmer’s market!! Really! It would be nice to have more than one option for Thai food, or more places where I could get vegan friendly food (we have two supermarkets and one of them is found in the Super Walmart.)

Things were definitely, DEFINITELY more expensive in Boston. Rent was more expensive (although the town where I live might surprise you – ahem, my apartment is $800/month), but then again the salaries were higher, or at least mine was. Vet bills were more expensive, but then again, I had the comfort of knowing that if something happened suddenly with the furballs, it was a quick uber ride or zip car rental to get me to the emergency vet. It didn’t take over two hours to drive there if the local vet’s office was closed. And that, trust me, is super scary. Taking Bonkers to the vet about 3 weeks before he died because he couldn’t poop was super scary. I had flashbacks of the night I drove Sebastian to that same vet, all the way in St. George (only 75 miles away at that time), only to arrive there and find out he had died on the way. I never want to go through something like that, again. Any parent, fur or otherwise hates to see their kid not feeling well. The fact that my kid just happened to meow to me instead of speak English, and that he had fur didn’t make it any less stressful. Parents and kids come in all shapes and sizes.

For the past few days, I’ve had this yearning to simplify my life again. Go through the clothes and really break them down even further to what is only necessary. If I was living in a Class B or a van, what would I then find to be necessary? Would I only keep about two weeks worth of clothes, or even less?

Part of me knows that to live in something so small would end up being difficult, and it would remove a lot of the creature comforts that I like about living in an apartment. Since I moved out of the RV and into the studio, I have absolutely loved being able to step into a normal size bathroom, with a normal sized shower and if I want to stand in there and let the water splash over me for a few seconds after I have washed and shampooed myself, I can do so. I know that I won’t run out of hot water within a matter of seconds. In the RV, I worried about using up too much propane in the process, and to do that meant wasting money. (Don’t get me wrong, I still take quick showers, but there is a certain luxury to knowing you could stay in there for a bit longer if you wanted to.)   RVs are notoriously poorly insulated and so I really do appreciate the thickness of the apartment walls, and how well they keep this place cool even in 100 degree heat as we have experienced the past few days. Rvs are much smaller, and thus, my animals would have much less room to roam. And I think you all know how important my furballs and their happiness and safety is to me.  Having had two of them get out from my apartment scared me shitless while they were gone and  I couldn’t find them, or get them back. Living in an RV or a Class B, I might be terrified of their escaping every time I opened the door. I couldn’t have a baby gate right inside the door as an added barrier to escaping, as I do now in the apartment.

Living in an RV again – it would force me to live even more simply, but then again, it comes with its own challenges, not to mention the fear of something breaking down and then my responsibility of having to repair it. It allows one to travel and see more sights, but it also means having to start over a lot. Starting over in new places and meeting new places, hoping again to find a community of like minded people and possibly facing the disappointment of not finding it.  My sister in law said to me the other day something to the effect that maybe there is no “one” place for me, but a lot of “this will do for now” places. She’s pretty intuitive, so maybe she’s right. I don’t know, time will tell.  But I think, for now, the RV idea is out. It’s tempting because of the romantic simplicity aspect that comes with it, but I also know it’s definitely not an easy life in the way of creature comforts.

One last thing that has me torn some days, and I have written about this a lot in the past, is whether or not to take an anti-depressant to help my anxiety. I know that it definitely helps to “level” things out, but I also want to just free my body of artificial materials like medications, as much as I can. I do take an allergy medication, and that I pretty much know I need to take (it’s over the counter so it isn’t expensive), because of the pets and pollen (yes, we get some in the desert) and dust, and well, basically fresh air, lol. I don’t want to feel like I need a crutch, and in truth, most days, I don’t. I don’t want to second guess my reactions to stressful situations. So  I seesaw back and forth. Currently, I’ve not taken it in a few weeks.

Have you ever noticed how many commercials there are on tv for various drugs, including ones that are for combating side effects of chemotherapy? Why is that, don’t you think? Is it because the pharmaceutical field wants to have us buy medications we might not need? Don’t get me wrong, I definitely needed to take prozac at one point in my life, and for that, I consider it a miracle drug, but now I question if I still need it. Many days, I ask that question and find myself saying, “nope, you don’t.”

A friend shared the following with me the other day and it was like the author was talking to me, or in my mind! I thought a lot of you might find it helpful too: What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do (by Emma While).

I’m going to leave you with a link to a post I just read titled, “If you Don’t Know What to Do With Your Life, Read This” of which the final two lines are so perfect (wish I could have come up with them, but the author, Michelle Kennedy Hogan, deserves all the credit.

“At the end of your life, you won’t regret trying things and failing, but you will regret not ever trying at all.

Close that laptop and go get your life.”

And with that,  I thank you for reading, as always. Hope you enjoyed the sunset pictures – they don’t do that actual sky justice.

 

Torn…

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I’ve spent a lot of time at the beach lately, contemplating my next steps.

Even this post has been like pulling teeth, trying to think of how to put into words what I have been feeling lately…

I started writing it a few weeks ago. One morning, I decided to not go for a run, but opted for a good walk to a “sit and just be” spot off the beaten path about a five minute drive from where I live. I did not take my phone with me, because I didn’t want to be torn from the present moment while I was there. But I didn’t go so far that I couldn’t get back to my car on my own volition if something happened. And therein lies one of the things I am torn about in life right now.

I think a lot of us feel these internal pushings and pullings inside ourselves but don’t feel like we can talk about them.  If you’re unhappy about something, you don’t always feel like you can complain or vocalize it, especially if from all outward signs, it looks like everything in your life is going all so swimmingly well. So, I hope this post can help some of you out there who might feel the same. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know I’m not afraid to share uncomfortable things sometimes. Even if no one ever reads that post, it helps me to get it out there.

A friend of mine asked me last night if I was doing ok – he thought I sounded like I was feeling down a bit lately. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my life, what really drives me. I’m trying to figure out what is going on in the present, and trying to be present in the moment, but also working on what could make me happier in the future. Looking back, I feel like I may have made some rash decisions, or had tunnel vision, but then when i look at those decisions in a different light, then I think, “well maybe not so much. It did take me over a year to figure out where to move when I  finally decided Boston was not the place for me.”

I’m torn about a few things lately:

1.I found out I am able to work full time at the resort through the winter. I’m thrilled about that for financial reasons – I know it will allow me to keep earning a salary and be able to save a bit of $ right now while also paying down my credit card debt (yes, I have a balance now I can’t pay off within a month, I’ll write about it in a separate post.)  While I like working in a place that is absolutely gorgeous and a place that some folks only get to spend their vacation at, it’s not a job which I see as being the one I would want to do for the rest of my days on this earth.

I  love some of my coworkers and the people we take care of, who, for the most part, are really good and appreciative of our efforts.  However, occasionally, I hear someone complaining and I find myself wanting to smack them upside the head and say to them “don’t you realize you have such a BLESSED life? You’re not dying of some terminal disease, you’re able to afford your vacation, so stop complaining that the person’s camper next to you is too close, or you don’t have enough seclusion or enough shade in just the right few square inches of space where you want it, or the wifi isn’t strong enough!!! You’re on vacation! You’re getting to do something not everyone gets to do, and you’re in a campground, not out in the wilderness, for god’s sake!!!” (Phew, that felt good to get out!! But then I feel guilty for having judged them in such a way because I wonder, is it our society turning people into ingrates?)  On the other hand, I just finished reading When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi, about a neursurgeon who ended up with lung cancer that spread to his brain and died within 22 months. I really want to recommend that book to everyone, and especially those who seem to complain about the smallest, most minute problems.  It gives you an entirely new perspective on how lucky so many of us are in life.

In our store, we sell lots of prepackaged items. As I read more about our environment and global climate change, and conscious consumerism, the effects of garbage on all of these issues, it kills me a little bit inside every time I sell something that is contributing to those problems. I realize those problems are not gonna go away overnight, but how can I start doing something to slow down or reduce those problems? It’s a huge company so I don’t think they would take kindly to one of their employees telling people “you know, you really shouldn’t be eating meat for this, that and another reason….” So, I shut my mouth on those issues and sell them what they want and thank them for their business. But I think I am going to talk to the person who is  in charge of the retail side and see if we can work with more vendors willing to provide different alternatives that are more healthy. Right now, I think there’s only one that has some healthy alternatives, so I’ve been steadily trying to buy from her for our merchandise.

I spent a few hours online yesterday morning, looking into certificate programs and other programs related to fields where I could see myself genuinely invested – natural resource policy and management (my love of trees and the outdoors, so then I got thinking about forestry related degrees), sustainability, as well as animal welfare and of course, voluntary simplicity or minimalism. I get excited at the thought of learning about these areas, but then I get frustrated when I see how much they will cost in terms of money (my big concern) and time investment (I’m already 43, how much more schooling can I truly handle, if any?)  I can’t really afford to take out more loans (huge understatement) so then I think of looking at internships, etc., but those can be costly in that I would need to (1) relocate at least temporarily and (2) be able to live on a very small stipend, if there is any. With pets of my own to care for, and my student loans and car payment to worry about, it is very hard to make those numbers work. But I’m gonna keep trying and looking and thinking of solutions.

So here is what I have come up with so far. I know this blog doesn’t have a lot of readers (the stats don’t lie) but I plan to start writing on a variety of issues that are near and dear to me. I will have to start networking (at least online) somehow, connecting with others who feel the same way, and maybe get the word out that way. Every minute I’m online, I am using up precious cell data to connect to the internet via my chromebook, so it makes me use my time online in a more concerted manner.

The same friend who asked me if I was ok (he’s so awesome, please show him some love by checking out his youtube channel: Wander Dano) said he thought maybe  I taken the step forcing myself to find myself, by all the changes I have made, rather than just staying in one place and being “meh” about my life. I know he meant it as a compliment, and I think he is right. I have definitely done that, and many days, I wish it was easier to deal with, but then again, I think by the rough times or times when I doubt myself, that is when I learn the most. Right?

If you’ve been a faithful reader of my blog, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and hope you will stick with me. And if you are new, well, welcome, and I hope you will stick around as I continue searching for what makes me happy, what makes me feel like I’m here on this earth for a reason, and what that reason is. In other words, “what is my why?”

 

I just wish I had a better handle sometimes on what are my simple dreams.

Any thoughts and comments on this post are greatly appreciated, as with all the others.

Inspirations and Internal Changes

Cactuses are starting to bloom near where I live. After visiting the botanical garden, I'm more aware of them.

Cactuses are starting to bloom near where I live. After visiting the botanical garden, I’m more aware of them and the desert’s beauty. Amazing that something can live and thrive with so little water.

While I was in Phoenix, I visited the Desert Botanical Garden and the Butterfly Wonderland. Both were a bit pricey (the botanical garden was just over $17 with the AAA discount and the butterfly garden cost about $21 with another discount given to me), but very worth it in my eyes. When I was at the botanical garden, I saw so many volunteers and you could tell they were very happy to contribute to the beauty of the place as well as connect with visitors. When I was with the butterflies, I just thought of all the changes that these creatures go through, and how many we go through in our own lives. They showed a video on the lives of monarchs and all the challenges they go through on their several hundred mile long migrations. Then I spent a lot of time in the butterfly room afterward, and even had the luck of having a butterfly land on me – I’ve never had that happen before!! Ever! (And I’ve been to a few butterfly museums/sanctuaries in my life!)

When it landed on me, it really tickled!

When it landed on me, it really tickled!

Both places reinvigorated me to remember things that really make me happy and I decided to take the plunge and go ahead and buy the Tower Garden for my apartment after all.  (It’s something I have mulled over off and on for the past year or so, but when I was in the RV, I just didn’t have the available space.) I have a friend back home in Boston who has one, so I know the claims that they make of producing so much produce in such a short time are legitimate. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and tasted the produce her garden made! I know it is a bit expensive to start off with, but my goal is to eat primarily what I grow myself. I feel much better when I am eating a lot of greens and fruits, and the tower garden will even allow me to grow strawberries! Yay, I can’t wait! And just knowing it is coming, I have not had the inclination to eat a lot of sweets and junk this week. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I feel like I want to detox, detox, detox!! Get all the crap out of me and out of my apartment!

When I spent that hour along Oak Creek Drive just north of Sedona, I think it transformed me. I can’t put it completely into words but it seemed to have a profound effect on me. Since then, I just feel, well, different. It made me want to slow down and listen to the birds more and figure out why that is. Why I feel so drawn to now learning about nature and holistic health and detoxing my body, and my life, etc.

View from the scenic view pullout at the top of the Oak Creek drive. This photo only shows two of the many switchbacks you have to navigate to get there.

View from the scenic view pullout at the top of the Oak Creek drive. This photo only shows two of the many switchbacks you have to navigate to get there.

On Monday, I just had this major urge to clean out stuff in my closet, so I took about 5 bags of stuff to the local animal shelter for the animals there to use. My pets don’t need all the extra blankets I had in my closet, and they don’t need all the extra rugs and pet beds. However, the animals there do. Not all of them have a soft surface to sit on – mine do. It felt AWESOME to take all that stuff in, because I knew I didn’t need it, they did. I also realized, when I tend to hang on to more stuff, it’s coming from a place of insecurity inside myself. Like when I first moved out of my marriage, I took all these extra things like towels, and blankets, etc. I was scared at the time that I wouldn’t be able to afford even the basics so I took everything that I could that he didn’t want. I felt like more stuff equaled more security. I know now that it’s just the opposite. When I have less stuff, I feel happier and more secure because the stuff I do have is the stuff I want and love. And it’s all that I need, no more.

Look close - do you see the butterfly hiding among the leaves?

Look close – do you see the butterfly hiding among the leaves?

I know Sedona is one of those new-agey kind of places, where people believe in vortexes and crystals and what a lot of people might think is a bunch of junk. But I want to open my eyes to some of it – I got a few books out from the library about crystals and their healing powers and am going to educate myself about them. Maybe there is nothing to any of it, and maybe it really is a bunch of “hooey,” but maybe I will find them helpful, and in this life, I think we need to each find our own way. If there is anything I have learned these past few years, it’s that there is no one RIGHT choice of life for any of us. Trying to pigeon-hole myself into the box or boxes that I thought were right for me only ended up hurting myself in the long run. Or, maybe, they didn’t. Maybe they were all leading me to where I am meant to be, and what I am meant to be. After all, I wouldn’t be who I am today without those experiences. I wouldn’t  know how strong I can be alone if I hadn’t gone through the pain of a divorce. I wouldn’t know how empowering it feels  to be true to yourself if I hadn’t not been true to myself at one point in my life. Does that make any sense?  I hope so.

Blue butterflies always catch my attention.

Blue butterflies always catch my attention.

I’ve just finished reading a book called Most Good Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and A Meaningful Life, by Zoe Weil.  And I’ve recently begun reading another book called Living Forward: a Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want, by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy. Both of these books provide you with some questions to really focus on and think about your answers. The second asks three questions at the beginning:

  1. How do I want to be remembered?
  2. What matters most?
  3. How can I get from here to where I want to be?

I will let you know what I think of the Living Forward book when I finish it. It’s also available through Audible.com.  I’ve started formulating my answer to question number 1, though, and here is what I have so far.  I want to be remembered as someone who was good to animals and to others, as someone who was positive and who made a good contribution to this world. I want to have been a happy person, someone who was in touch with herself. Someone who always  liked learning. Someone who wasn’t wasteful. Someone who had a good handle on her financial situation and wasn’t a mess when it came to saving money or having debt. Someone who didn’t have a bunch of extra crap in their life!

I went for my first run in several weeks yesterday. A “run” might be a bit of an exaggeration. It was more like a slow jog. But it got my heart rate going, and I even broke a sweat, and I reminded myself of why I liked to exercise before. I told myself it would only be two loops around the neighborhood and that’s all I did. I also told myself that it was ok to walk, and I did. I don’t know why I just stopped several weeks ago, I just did. I was finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning and the idea of getting up even earlier. I just couldn’t stomach the idea of getting up early to exercise, even though that had been a mainstay of my life for many years now. It’s only been the last few days where I have even woken up BEFORE my alarm, and felt excited enough to get out of bed. I’m not sure what’s going on, with these changes, but I will let you know when I figure it out, if I do.

Navajo Mountain off in the distance. I see this every day from my neighborhood and on my way to work. A very sacred place for the Navajo Nation.

Navajo Mountain off in the distance. I see this every day from my neighborhood and on my way to work. A very sacred place for the Navajo Nation.

A friend of mine from back east left a great comment on my blog last week and has inspired me very much with many of her thoughts she has shared with me. She reminded me that it’s ok to not be the person you once were. It’s ok to change. It’s ok to not feel comfortable when you are somewhere new, and that you can invent or create who you are, NOW.  Who you are now can be different from who you once were. 

Ok, that’s enough of my musings and babblings for now – I’m going to get out there and go for my run, ahem, slow jog, and sweat out some more toxins. Until next time… thanks, as always, for reading!

 

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.