You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2012.

Realized this morning that if people are actually going to read this, I should probably update the “About” section to something more current than 3 years ago. Check.

I’ve long joked that my sole purpose in life is to provide God with some comic relief. I don’t say this to be hard on myself or make others feel bad for me — I consider it quite an honor to be the one that God can occasionally laugh at. Thee are just some things that happen in my life that I can only think occurred because God needed a laugh. Not a mean-spirited laugh, mind you; I don’t believe that God is some sort of cosmic bully who needs to hurt people to have a good time. But when I think about the things He has to endure, looking out on the world and seeing all of the people He loves who aren’t going for their dreams, who aren’t loving as they are loved, who are hurting themselves, I can’t even imagine the pain He must feel, the sadness of watching us destroy ourselves. He has to find delight in something, and if He creates people for that reason, I’m delighted to be a part of that.

Because seriously, who is allergic to cockatiels? Really?

*cosmic snickering*

The other day, I saw a photo of Marilyn Monroe with the following caption: “Proof that millions of men can adore you, even when your thighs touch.”. It’s a touching sentiment, one that is much needed in a society that thinks beauty is measured by the size of a woman’s waist. Still, there is a little nagging thought in the back of my mind: would Marilyn Monroe have been considered “beautiful” in today’s society? In other words, do we consider her beautiful because of how she was viewed in her time, or because she actually truly is amazingly gorgeous?

I’ve never been a skinny girl, so I can appreciate the plight of girls today growing up in a world where skinny is beautiful, curvy is ugly and disgusting, and guys will only love you if you wear skimpy clothes and tons of makeup. Women are socially forbidden to have hips, shoulders, or actual breasts (if you don’t believe me, go to Victoria’s Secret and compare design variety for a 36C vs a 38DD). Most models are a stunning size 2, and plus size models are usually anything above a 10. What’s scary is, there are plus size models out there that are smaller than I am. And the worst part is that it is hardly a fair cross section of women today.

I remember one day going to the mall with my mom and lamenting the fact that I couldn’t find any cute clothes in my size. The first thought that went through my head was, “I’m too fat to wear cute clothes.” Thankfully, my mom (aka “The Voice of Reason”) stepped in and pointed out the truth: the reason the stores didn’t have cute clothes in my size wasn’t because they weren’t made for me, but because those were the sizes to be sold out first. Because those sizes are more “average” than the smaller sizes. Contrary to what you find on the runways, the average woman isn’t a size 2 or 4, she is more likely a 10 or 12. But how sad is it that, rather than realize that fact at the start, my first thought was that my size 12 was “too fat?”

There is a flip side, one that is scarcely recognized but is no less dangerous. There are plenty of beautiful women out there who are naturally just that skinny. Being a size 2 may be unrealistic for many women, but it doesn’t automatically mean that she is anorexic or unhealthy. These women face just as much scrutiny as bigger girls do. They may feel more pressured to stay at that size, or they may feel pressured to gain weight. As much as the fashion industry promotes tiny waists, it’s bound to create an extreme reaction in the opposite direction. Those naturally small women may face backlash from those opposed to the modeling industry, accused of creating false standards of beauty when, in reality, that is who they are. They are guilty of nothing except being themselves, and society lashes out in anger because they fit into a stereotype that has been deemed unacceptable.

As a society, we need to be less focused on defining beauty by numbers and more on the soul of a woman. A girl isn’t beautiful because she is a size 2, she is beautiful because she a unique creation. A girl isn’t beautiful because she wears revealing clothing and massive quantities of makeup, she is beautiful because she has an inner light. When we spend time building women up, giving them self confidence, and teaching them that beauty comes from simply being, then there won’t be “plus size models” vs “too skinny models,” there will simply be women being beautiful, just for being them.

Wow, I can’t believe that January is almost over. It seems like just a few days ago we were celebrating the new year and now the first month has gone by so fast. I, like many, find myself asking where the time went, what happened to the full year ahead, wondering what I forgot to do or never got around to doing. I frequently find myself wishing that I could do more outside of work, go more places, spend more time doing things with my family, but at the end of the day/week/month, I still find myself doing the same things, following the same patterns, almost like my life is on “repeat” to an extent.

I posted a couple of days ago about how much I love my job, and this is so true. Unfortunately, the nature of my job and my devotion to it mean that all to often I find I am putting it ahead of my family and myself. By the time I get home at night, even on the nights I’m not on call for emergencies, I’m exhausted, drained, and have no energy to do much of anything. The nights that I am on call, I am hesitant to make any plans for fear of missing a call. (There are times that even showering or dinner put me on edge because I might be unavailable for 30 minutes.) I limit myself so much when I am on call, especially on weekends, for fear of missing the call or having to stop a family event to go in for an emergency. (On a side note, I would like to make it clear that, even when on call, I do not actually live at the clinic. I go home, even occasionally go the the grocery store, and through the miracle of call forwarding I am able to answer the phone when you call the clinic without actually spending every living second there.) I do love my job, but I often give more of myself to it than I have to give because this is what is expected of me.

I fully believe that this is why so many New Year’s Resolutions don’t last long. People start out with good intentions of making a big life change and throw themselves into it with full force. But after awhile, demands placed on us by others start to become more important, and taking care of ourselves becomes a side project. Soon, we are so immersed in pleasing everyone around us that we forget to please ourselves. Our physical, mental, and spiritual health begin to weaken as we try to take care of others before taking care of ourselves. On the rare occasion we remember to be kind to ourselves, we are accused of being selfish or lazy, and the guilt drives us back into the madness of the world. This is why I cannot take a day off for the sake of taking a day off, why I can’t relax even on vacation, because there is always the nagging guilt that I should be at work. This, probably more than any other factor, is what drives people to become workaholics.

The bitter truth is that, we live in a repeating cycle while time moves in a linear fashion. It is only once time has moved far ahead of us that we notice how out of sync we are, creating the feeling that time is moving fast. Children don’t notice this as much as adults because they are not yet caught up in the cycle. They live in a world where it’s acceptable to play, acceptable to pretend, acceptable to dream. As they grow up, they will soon be told that play isn’t allowed, pretending is behind them, dreams are just a frivolous waste of time. Time begins to have the illusion of moving faster, and soon, adults find themselves lamenting the days of childhood and cursing the lack of time to do all the things they want to do. Time is not moving faster, we simply lose the ability to appreciate every moment.

We have “lofty” goals of fulfilling our dreams, but soon bosses demand that the project is finished tomorrow, that the client is cared for above all else, that working late is expected and going home on time is unacceptable when something isn’t completely finished. Other people expect that businesses stay open later and later to accommodate their own schedules of being expected to stay later and later. We have 24 hour businesses because it is no longer expected that people sleep at night, and cell phones ensure that the boss can reach us at all times, even on days off and vacations. We begin to expect that others work as hard as we feel we are expected to work and become resentful when we see people who actually take care of themselves. And then we work harder to prove how hardworking we are, how devoted we are to our jobs, how important it is for us to put others above ourselves, and leave with a sense of resentful arrogance that is nothing short of poison to our souls.

It is not only okay to take care of ourselves first, it is necessary to be healthy in body, spirit, and mind. When we give ourselves away without taking time to replenish it, we soon run out of self to give, and we become living robots, doing the same thing every day out of habit and routine. We lose passion in our work, sometimes even becoming resentful of our jobs. We plan and look forward to retirement, because that is when society has told us it’s finally okay to be ourselves, to do what we want, without worrying about schedules and deadlines. Until then, we are expected to be cogs in a machine that never turns off. But cogs wear out. Machinery breaks down as the parts become overused and overworked. Human beings are no different. We wear out when overused and overworked, and soon we cease to be useful as we run on burnout, and frequently we are tossed aside and replaced. We feel resentment and regret; resentment for working so hard and sacrificing so much just to be replaced, and regret for not taking better care of ourselves, not following our hearts, not replenishing our souls.

I am just as guilty of putting the job first ahead of my own needs, so I am as much in need of my own advice as anyone. We need to take time for ourselves. We need to be able to step away from the job and take a break, appreciate the moment, live in a linear timeline rather than a vicious circular rut. The more we do this, the more we will have to give back to the world. I’m not talking about a series of 6 week vacations every 3 months. Find the little things. Join a club for an activity you love to do. Take a class over something you have always wanted to learn. Take that day off and go to the zoo. Find the things that make you appreciate the moment, that allow you to refill your soul and refresh your mind. We can’t be everything to everyone, and this is not something to feel guilty about. But if we are nothing to ourselves, we cannot be anything to anyone. Step back. Take a break. Be in the moment. Be in sync with time.

We spend such a large amount of time and energy worrying about what others think about us. It’s hard not to: so much of our lives unfortunately depends on how people view us. As a result, we work so hard to make ourselves memorable, to make sure that we make such an impression that people won’t forget us. This isn’t always a good thing — people frequently are remembered for things they probably wouldn’t want to be remembered for — but there are some that feel that being forgotten is worse than being infamous.

We don’t like feeling like we are unimportant. We like to feel as though we are making a difference in the world, having such an impact that we will be immortal in name. Being forgettable, overlooked, ignored, all of these create undesirable feelings, feelings of hurt, betrayal, and worse, lack of love. But let’s step back a minute — how do we feel when we try to make ourselves memorable and do not receive the desired outcome? We feel twice as bad because we have poured so much energy into our goal and still did not succeed.

After 28 years of frequently feeling left out, overlooked, forgotten, and ignored, I have finally come to realize the truth of being forgettable — its an incredibly liberating experience! When you are no longer concerned about being remembered, you are free to pursue dreams, desires, random whims of the heart without worrying about what it looks like from the outside. Being memorable is an outer endeavor, with all the focus being on the outer shell. Accepting the beauty of being forgettable allows us to focus inward, to seek out who we truly are deep down, what we truly want out of life, not what others want out of us. We can search our souls and learn a deeper truth about ourselves than we ever could if we aren’t free to dive beneath our exterior disguise. It may sound selfish, but the more we learn about ourselves, about our passions, strengths, desires, the more we will be able to give to the world. We give so much less when we try to be someone we are not, try to pursue dreams that are not ours, passions that we aren’t passionate about. When we learn who we are and let all of ourselves be visible to the world, there is no limit to what we can do. And that will, in the end, set an example that will truly be memorable.

I am almost hesitant to post this, as I don’t want it to come off as unsympathetic or negative, but there is always one aspect of my job that bothers me than others. We frequently get calls from people who need to bring their pet in but “don’t have money.” And I fully accept that there are people out there who, for whatever reason, have fallen on hard times and are struggling to make ends meet, including health care for them and their pets. There are many others who simply feel that pet care should be free and that we exist only to rip people off and cheat them out of their money. (I have had one client make a comment — after a $70 vet bill — that he was “in the wrong profession.”) It’s not uncommon for people to complain about a bill after professing that they “will spend anything” to save their pets, asking to “be billed” of “set up payment plans,” and usually we are lucky to see even 10% of the bill. We have people get upset when we tell them that we must have some form of payment at the time of the visit, most of whom act so indignant that we would even make such a request. And then there is my favorite — the belief that vet bills should be almost nothing because we “aren’t real doctors.”

Allow me to address these. The clients who genuinely can’t afford the vet bills are usually the ones exhausting every last resource to find a way to pay. These people exist, but they are rare. It’s hard for me to accept not having enough money to pay for a $15 vaccine when they have fresh ink on their arms and an iPhone 4. What people fail to understand is that this is how I make my living. This is what I studied for 8 years to do, sacrificing time, money, and a good chunk of my sanity. I don’t do this for the money; I don’t do this because I want to go on lavish vacations, have the latest most expensive car, or spend my lunch breaks on the golf course (which I have actually had a client accuse me of when I wasn’t there on my lunch break to see her as a walk-in). I still drive the same car I had in high school, and I’ll probably be paying on my debt until I die. I do this job because it is my passion, because nothing makes me happier than seeing a pet feel better and watching the owner light up when it happens.

Still, this isn’t free. I still need to eat, make payments on those loans I’ve accumulated, put gas in the 10-year-old car I have, feed my pets, and occasionally put a bit aside for when something goes wrong. There have been months when my bills exceeded our combined income and it was only by the grace of having saved up in the months prior that we made it through. I have taken on additional jobs to bring in even a small amount of extra income. There are costs associated with running the clinic. We have to pay for everything you see us use. Every syringe, every needle, every pill that goes out the door (and the bottles it goes home in) costs us money. There is the cost of the electricity, the water, the heating and cooling units, the cleaning supplies to keep the rooms sanitary, the equipment we use for diagnostics, insurances, the machines to process credit cards, the paper we give receipts on, all of this has to be paid for. Then there is the issue of paying for our time. Sure, you can go get advice from the breeder down the street or the pet store owner, and you can buy some vaccines and medicines at the local feed store. But what about the knowledge needed to use these safely? No matter how many years a pet store employee or breeder has been in business, they do not have the proper training to know the intricacies of medicine. As veterinarians, we are expected to train yearly and further our education regularly or we lose our license. How many breeders are operating on knowledge from 20 years ago? We go through the same amount of school that an MD goes through, and they only have to learn one species. And if you compared our starting salaries, you would probably be shocked at how little veterinarians make in comparison.

Emergencies are another cost. In some big cities, there are clinics that specialize in taking cases after normal business hours. In small towns like here, usually the emergency clinic is “waking your vet up.” Yes, these cost more. We sacrifice sleep, family meals, family events, holidays, all so that we can be available in a time of need. Our families sacrifice these things with us, because it disrupts their lives as well. Again, this isn’t something we do to make money, we do it out of a commitment to providing the best service available to our clients. We do it willingly because it is part of our job, something we knew we would have to do when we started this journey. (Keep in mind that an emergency surgery at 3am will use more electricity, water, etc than what is used during a normal business day, again adding to our costs that we have to pay for).

Please do not think i am complaining. I love what I do and love where I am. We do all of this because this is what we want to do. Of course there are veterinarians out there that DO try to squeeze every last dime out of their clients, but they are the exception to the rule. Veterinary medicine isn’t the latest “get rich quick” scheme, it isn’t an elaborate hoax to use a person’s concern for their pet to swindle money for no reason, it is a passion. So the next time you are tempted to grumble over your vet bill, please keep these things in mind. This is how we make our living, no different than any other person with a job. The thing that separates us from many, however, is the amount of passion we throw into our work. And that isn’t something you can buy.

I’m always impressed by professional bloggers who can keep up with an online blog. Obviously I’m not that great. I guess the main reason is that I always feel like I have nothing worthwhile to say, that my life is so boring that no one really wants to read about it. Then again, most of the blogs I like don’t have anything to do with life but are actually just thoughts and dreams that we are lucky enough to be a part of.

I’ve always been better at keeping an old fashioned journal, pen and paper. Even then my track record is embarrassing. I can look through my old journals and there will be two entries 7 months apart, and that’s just my own personal story! I’ve been doing better recently though. Sometime I just need the proper motivation. I’m currently working through the Book of Awakening, an awesome little daily meditation book that gives me prompts when I am stuck and really don’t want to talk about vaccines anymore. It’s an awesome book, one that explores different aspects of existence that aren’t touched on very much.

Living in the Bible Belt for as long as I have, I’ve seen many of the narrower definitions of Christianity, few of which appeal to me anymore. It’s not that I don’t believe in God — quite the opposite really — just that I don’t accept the examples I’ve been given as a true representation of who He really is. I’m sure that most of my religious views now would shock a good Baptist into a heart attack, and I’d be lying if I said that doesn’t make me smile a little. I have a hard time reconciling the image of a loving God with such a vehement hatred toward other people, and frankly, I’ve just decided that the examples people are setting are not in the true nature of the Divine. I’ve felt closer to God in my yoga studio than any church I’ve ever been to, and if I want to use non-church-approved methods of seeking Him out, then I will and I will no longer feel guilty about it. If one can’t recognize God in everything and everyone around them, they are missing the whole point.

I recently finished reading the entire Chronicles of Narnia (yes, I know I’m a bit behind), and needless to say, if the were a church of C. S. Lewis, I would probably go there. It’s not just the Narnia books, every work I have read by him sums up a lot of what I believe. I hate to spoil the ending for anyone who hasn’t read the books, but I have to share my favorite part. (And if I say that The Last Battle is pretty much the book of Revelations, I won’t be ruining anything.). At the end, Aslan meets a man who belonged to a different religion and sought out a different god (Tash), who essentially represents the devil. Aslan tells him that he counts all of the good works this guy did to be in his service. The guy can’t understand why Aslan hasn’t sent him away and is asking if the rumors were true that Aslan and Tash were one in the same. Aslan tells him that it’s because they are polar opposites that he counts his service to him, saying that a man cannot do good works, even in the name of Tash, and truly be serving him, because Tash is pure evil. Likewise, he also tells the man that he can never accept an act of evil, even if the act is committed in his name, because one cannot do evil and serve him. Deep thoughts, but how powerful is that? That one cannot do good works without serving God, and no evil can be done in service to God, even if it is done in His name. How would living by that principle change how we interact with each other? Instead of worrying about condemning each other to hell and persecuting each other, what would happen if we chose only to do good, to only seek out good, chose to love each other instead of pointing out faults? Sounds more like the truth of the teachings of Christ than what most churches are focused on these days. Hence why I no longer attend. I will choose to seek God in whatever way connects me to all of His creation and attempt to live the example of unconditional love that He set.

I will try to do better at keeping up. I say that every time and fail miserably, but maybe there is someone out there who, like me, is frustrated by the religious extremists and doctrines of hate who just wants to know that God is still out there, still loving them, even if those who claim to hate in His name do not. If that person finds this and is inspired by it, the I consider it to be a good work.

(P.S. I’ve tried to catch all mistakes, but it something doesn’t make sense, it’s because my autocorrect apparently had a little too much coffee this morning. Or something, half of the “corrections” aren’t words in the English language.)