Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I've been volunteering pretty much all of my life. My parents used to take us to homeless shelters to feed the poor, orphanages to give presents to kids at Christmas, food drives, toys for tots and I'm sure many other things that were volunteer experiences, but we didn't know it at the time. Growing up, my parents didn't spend a lot of time explaining our acts of kindness. We just did it.  I'll admit, as a kid, it wasn't exactly the most selfless act when we didn't really have a choice. Ashamedly, I remember envying some of the toys that we collected and wrapped for Toys for tots, until my mother explained about the children who had nothing and no one to spend the holidays with.

As an adult, I have gained even more respect and admiration for my parents, as well as the intention of volunteering. Thinking back to how much they struggled themselves, and how willing they were to give to others, while raising an active family, really humbles me at times. I hear other people say they would LOVE to volunteer somewhere, they just don't have the time. Then I think of my mom, with three young kids, a daycare and various other projects she had on her plate, finding the time to volunteer at least a few times a year, and I call Bullshit to those who "don't have the time"!

I've found a way to volunteer in quite a diverse group of organizations over the years, and my family still volunteers together every year on Christmas day. Currently, due to my life of leisure (aka unemployment) I've been able to volunteer at a local animal shelter/wildlife rehabilitation center, and love it. It's been nice to have somewhere to go and something to do...well, I guess just to feel useful in a time that I feel absolutely useless. I don't plan on quitting volunteering now that I have a job because the place that I volunteer really allows for an education about all the different animals and treatments involved in their care. They give me freedom and trust with feeding and cleaning up after the animals and really encourage my involvement in many different facets of the organization. Not to mention I get to play with baby animals (not really, but I send them messages of love telepathically).

Recently, I've had a few scheduling conflicts with my volunteer days, and a friend of mine has made a few comments that have really just boggled my mind. Her attitude is that there is no conflict. That I shouldn't even consider the volunteer job because, after all, "it's volunteering...what are they gonna do to you?".

This makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. I keep trying to explain to her that just because they aren't paying me, doesn't mean it's not a job. The reasons for having to request time off at a paying job are the same as at a non-paying job...to make sure there are enough people to cover the shift. Just because they aren't paying me, doesn't mean I can just screw them over whenever I want. And why would I want to? Do other people feel this way? Am I crazy to think that this line of thinking is absolutely absurd?

This volunteer job means so much to me. Aside from the fulfillment I get from donating my time to an organization that is dedicated to saving lost, abandoned, sick and hurt animals, they appreciate me. During a time that I was getting no response from the hundreds of resumes I was sending out, they responded. They spent about a month training me and trusted in my competence. They spend time at the beginning of every shift educating me on the different animals, illnesses, treatments, etc. They are taking a huge gamble on spending so much of their time and resources on me. Because apparently, as a volunteer, I could take advantage of them and just up and abandon them, leaving them shorthanded, in an instant.

If volunteering is something you've always wanted to do, DO IT! Contact an organization that you'd want to be involved with and just start with getting some information. But if you really want to do it, YOU WILL! We find the time to watch a million TV shows, and masquerade it as "relaxing", why not get out in the community and interact with other volunteers and actually do something you've always wanted to do! Do it once a year, or once a month or even once a week, no matter what, you can make a difference!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

By the skin of my bank account

So first of all, let me update you on my juice cleanse. The first few days were a little rough, but I know it's because I didn't prepare my body for it. But the rest of the week was great. I did 7 days juicing, 7 days soup and salad and this week has been back to normal-ish eating. I feel great. My attitude changed immensely, my skin is doing better and I dropped a few lbs (7 to be exact). And I keep losing, which is the great thing.

Now, onto the BIG news! I got a job!!!!! I've been unemployed for almost a year now (not counting the volunteering in Hawaii and here). The search has been miserable to say the least. I'm not sure if it's the West Coast, or if job hunting has just changed that much, but man, the applications are rigorous (and you no one really reads all the apps they get), the interviews have been mildly absurd, and come in multiples, and of course there's no follow up with most of them.

But after 6 months in Washington state, I have finally found a job and I couldn't be more thrilled! I start in two weeks and I will be working downtown Seattle, which will be a lot of fun. Now, I can start moving forward in other areas of my life, which is a little daunting, but also absolutely exciting. And it couldn't have come at a better time, well...yes it could have, because I am at the end of my financial rope. I will barely squeek by these next two weeks and the two weeks of work before getting paid, but I will figure out a way. As long as there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I am A-ok. 

Woohoo! Onto the next chapter in my life!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Juicing Days #1 & 2

Juicing Day #1, which was yesterday. I did pretty well except for the fact that I had a screaming headache, was cranky as hell and by bedtime was STARVING!

But, I had a headache because I hadn't weaned myself off of coffee prior to juicing, so I was going cold turkey, and I was hungry because again, I hadn't weaned myself to the right foods before juicing so my body was probably in a little shock. As far as the cranky...I'm sure it had to do with the two previous issues.

Day #2: Went great. Low grade headache, but nothing too bothersome. Hungry a little, but I just kept drinking little bits of my juice and a ton of water every time I felt hungry. So tonight I will be going to bed with a satisfied belly.

I just can't believe how good I feel. I mean, I know it makes me feel good, but I let way too much time go by between juicing and somehow I forget. It's not just physically either. Mentally, all of a sudden I'm seeing just how much things like cheese, wheat and coffee have contributed to the whole slowdown effect. Tonight, at the grocery store, I walked right past the bakery and dairy case without even giving it a second glance. That's on Day 2. Now, do I miss these things terribly? Yes. But I also miss ex-boyfriends. I'm remembering only the good things I want to remember and not the bad effect they had on me.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Update on the Raw Vegan, Gluten free, dairy free, caffeine free, alcohol free, juice experience...

I did really well for about two and half months. I lost over 20 lbs, my skin was kind of, clearing up and I had a ton of energy. I was exercising just about every day and feeling really good about everything.

Notice how all of that was past tense? Well, I started reintroducing things slowly into my diet, starting with cooking food, then coffee, then cheese and yogurt, bread and finally beer (occasionally). Almost immediately, I started to lose energy. Next came the screeching halt of losing weight and then my skin started to get worse again. It's probably been a few months now and I've been stuck at the same weight, can't get my skin under control and have ABSOLUTELY NO motivation or energy to keep moving forward! I think that's the hardest part for me right now, the lack of motivation. I have been unemployed since September and desperately need to find work, so I can't afford to be curled up in the fetal position.

And let me add that these reactions I'm experiencing, are not from an overload of the foods I reintroduced. In fact, I don't even eat a moderate amount of them. I use Rice milk and coconut milk for coffee creamer. I've only had yogurt twice and that was awhile ago, and I eat cheese occasionally. I eat bread and pasta once in awhile (meaning every few weeks or so), and I think I had two beers when I first reintroduced the foods. So, imagine if I had gone back in whole hog! The one thing I do have to say that I drink consistently is coffee. I started drinking it every day again and I have a feeling that is contributing to a lot of the lack of energy, ironically enough. Over the last few weeks, I've been getting half decaf, half regular coffee and slowly making it more decaf than regular for an easier transition to no coffee at all.

So, tomorrow I am going back to it. I'm going to move back more towards raw veggies, juices and the elimination of gluten, dairy and caffeine as much as possible. I have a juicing buddy for next week and I'm doing a 7 day juice and raw fruit and veggie cleanse.  I will check back in to update after I have finished.

Here are some of the pictures I've taken recently:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Still here...

So...the excitement of choosing to stay has died down a little. I've gone on quite a few interviews and never hear back. I've sent out my resume and filled out applications numbering in the 100's. I've started my Etsy store, but haven't gotten very much in it yet. And  yesterday, I set my hair on fire! (That part is actually comical to me).

I know I am exactly where I'm supposed to be right now. Every choice I've ever made has led me to this very point in my life, and luckily, I'm not wasting it. I'm sewing A LOT and working on making and selling my bags. I'm drawing a little and talking seriously with my sister about starting our t-shirt business. I'm reading many books about entrepreneurship and talking to people about ideas, business software and designs. I'm also getting outside quite a bit and dabbling in macro photography. And to top it all off, I'm volunteering at a local Wilderness Rehabilitation center and loving it! It's a lot of work, but I absolutely LOVE volunteering my time! Especially where animals are concerned.

All in all, things are going pretty well, for someone who's still unemployed and living with friends. The Summer is here and the Pacific Northwest is absolutely gorgeous!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Stay put? Huh?

I live a very nomadic lifestyle. For the last 2 years, I have been on the half and half plan...half the year in Alaska, half the year wherever else. In 2010/2011 it was Ohio/Connecticut/Massachusetts. 2011/2012 (this winter), it was Hawaii/Connecticut/Seattle.

But before the half and half plan, I had been in Ohio for two and a half years (although I moved 3 times). Before that-Ireland, Greece and Italy. Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Connecticut, Ohio. Massachusetts, Ohio, Michigan, Ohio, and New York City. That is in reverse order going back to Connecticut where I grew up. Even then, my parents moved us three different times and once to Ohio.

I move. This is what I do. I don't know if it's instinctual. I don't know if it's learned behavior from my parents. I don't know if it's boredom, or an unending curiosity and love of adventure. Maybe I was from a nomadic tribe in my past life. Maybe all of the above. What I do know though, is that it has become my career. Somehow, I have created a life where I don't live to work, but work to live. My focus has never really been on a financial career, but a career of self and world exploration. I have found ways to travel with practically nothing, and fully immerse myself in the environment I find myself in. I have met many wonderful people along the way and have such a diverse group of incredibly close friends all over the world. I love it.

But recently I have been craving a home base. A space that is not borrowed or shared with anyone else. A place I can "hang my hat" so to speak, but still keep the freedom of travel and exploration. This is a yearning I have been trying to ignore for a few years now because, quite honestly, I don't have time for it. Well, this week, I have made time.

I have made a decision to stay put. I know, I know...crazy notion, I know! It is actually a first for me, and I have to admit that I am a little bit terrified. I don't know how this will turn out and I can't even pretend to fantasize about what outcome I am looking for, because I don't know how to think outside the suitcase. It's a scary place to be for me, but also thrilling. I have made a decision in the healthy direction I want to be moving and I can't wait to see what comes of it. I had positive premonitions of 2012 and so far, it is turning out to be one of my favorite years.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's not personal...

When did this become the disclaimer for poor behavior? Don't people realize that when they start a sentence like that, we all know that whatever's next is going to hurt? It goes right along with, "I know how this is going to sound, but..." and, "Don't take this the wrong way...". Are you kidding me?

I've been practicing the lesson of not taking anything personally as instructed in The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. But it is a very tough practice. Especially when people are excusing their bad behavior and judgements with disclaimers. I understand that if someone is going out of their way to hurt me, then it most likely has to do with their own issues. But the fact that another person would knowingly hurt me, is a hard pill to swallow even when I know it has nothing to do with me.

And on another subject, stating, "That's just the way I am", should not excuse ignorance. Just because you can admit it, does not mean you're excused. It's one thing to not know any better, it's another to know you SHOULD know better.

Can you tell I've had a good week? Not so much. It's been a painful week, but also a week filled with personal growth. I started a juice cleanse 3 days ago along with meditation and much contemplation, I have made some serious changes towards a healthier me. These changes have helped me realize that standing up for yourself isn't always easy or painless, but it's always necessary.