The Origin Stories of All my Animals

“Those who teach the most about humanity aren’t always human”

Pets are often looked at as gifts, spontaneous decisions or something to have “for fun.”  But in reality they are expensive, hard work and not something to be taken lightly. It often breaks my heart and fills me with rage when I see people leaving pets behind because they are moving, going through a break up or find pets are more work than they anticipated. (disclaimer: I understand some situations are necessary for people to surrender their animals, and I applaud people who are honest enough to realize this and find their pets a better suited home) Over the past 7 years I have accumulated 2 cat’s and a dog, from 2 states and over seas. I have spent thousands of dollars for their health, well-being and travel to and from the Hawaiian Islands, because pet’s are not just pets; they are family and they are forever.

Starting in High School I volunteered at cat shelters cleaning cages and scooping litter boxes. In this time I found a special love for the harder to adopt cats; FIV+, older cats and black cat’s. I would spend hours with them, giving them the love and comfort I knew they deserved, but probably wouldn’t get outside of the shelter. Then came Mogely.

It was 2012, I was a full time student in college studying nursing, living in a shitty apartment with  two roommates, working  as a waitress and patient assistant to pay my rent.  I still made time to volunteer because I needed the companionship from those cats just as much as they needed it from me.  I sat down in the middle of the “Main Cat Room” and a large, black cat came out of the wood work, curled up in my lap and fell asleep purring. I looked at him and thought ‘I can give him what he deserves.’ I paid $50 for him and took him home in a box. I remember calling my mother to tell her how excited I was and she cautioned me ” Pet’s are expensive Shelby, what if he get’s sick?” I rolled my eyes and thought she’s just being a mom.

6 Months later I called her sobbing, begging for a loan to pay for his emergency vet visit. I had awoken to the worst sound I had heard in my life, he was screeching in pain and peeing blood everywhere, except where he should, in his litter box. I waited for my friend (who is now my husband) to get out of work and drive with me to the emergency vet hospital an hour away because I was so hysterical. Mogely had such a large kidney stone it was blocking his bladder to the point it was over-distended and could burst. He needed an emergency procedure and to stay overnight. I spent the next year working extra shifts to pay my mother back, and Mogely is currently laying happily in my lap as I write this.

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I always joke that Mogely is the most well traveled cat. When I married my husband I had no clue where his military career would take us, and it ended up taking us to Hawaii. So I packed one suitcase and one crate and I moved my cat and I over the pacific ocean.

Once in Hawaii I started my career as a nurse, I was working long hours multiple days a week, as was my husband. We decided to add another animal to our family to keep Mogely company during the nights we worked. And in August 2014 came Rahj, our little spit fire of a cat.

Rahj was found with her litter mates abandoned on a beach with no sign of their mother.  A fellow military spouse was fostering them and adopting them out. The kitten’s were so young, and quite the mismatched bunch. Some were black, some were tabby’s. Some had full tails, half tails or bob tails. Rahj took to my husband immediately. She was the tiniest of the bunch with a little bobtail and pink nose.  As we syringe fed her and litter box trained her, she quickly grew into the aloof and spicy cat we know and (mostly) love today.

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Rahj is a perfect example of just how much effort kitten’s can be. Kitten food is expensive, syringe feeding takes time and litter box training takes patience. There were more than a few accident’s on the way, including when she peed on my husband while he slept. As Rahj grew, her personality became clear: I want what I want, when I want it.  She was not the snuggly type of cat I was so used to with Mogely. But, despite their personality differences, Rahj and Mogely took to eachother. Although, it took Mogely a few weeks longer to warm up to this tiny, but mighty bobtailed creature.

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Up until 2015 if you had asked me if I was a dog or cat person I would have interrupted you to state I am a cat lady.  In May 2015 that all changed when my husband and I walked through PETCO and saw the tiny, malnourished and terrified spotted puppy.  Her name given to her at the shelter was Cookies and Cream, she was underweight, shaking and had crust covering her ears. The shelter woman told us she had been left in a dumpster with her brother, to die. Two innocent lives literally thrown away. That day we drove home with her asleep in my lap and our lives were never the same.

I had never owned a dog, my parents got a dog the year I went to college for their “empty nest syndrome” but I wasn’t around to care for her as she grew. I didn’t know the first thing about raising a puppy, let alone one that needed as much as our new mutt, who we named Scout.  She was terrified of everything, including her own clumsy body. She played Hot Lava and would only walk on grass, too afraid to step on cement. The moment you put a leash on her she would cower and not move an inch. I don’t know what happened to her in her first 5 months of  her life, but it took years to undo the damage done to her. I took her every where with me, she became my shadow. She hiked the ridges of Hawaii with me and ran aside me on the beach. With patience and unconditional love she blossomed into this kind, loyal and gentle dog. Although she is gentle, she is my protector. While hiking she is always 4 steps ahead of me, but always looking over her shoulder to make sure I am still there. She once stood her ground to a group of drunk young men who approached me in a park , after dark. She growled, circling me and never leaving my side until they stopped hassling me. It is hard to believe she was one the helpless puppy I spent hours cleaning ear crust from.

Scout the day we got her:

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Scout now:

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All of my animals have a story and I believe they all came into my life a time I needed them, just as much as they needed me. Animals are such devoted and loving creatures and truly deserve equal loyalty and protection from us. With that being said, please if you are in a financial and emotionally stable place- please adopt. Our shelters are filled with animals, just like mine, that need homes. Puppies and kittens are cute, but require so much more care- please consider older animals too, they have just as much love to give and require much less training and initial frustrations.

With that I say Good afternoon and may you have a wonderful day filled with Coffee, Cats and Cusswords

Instagram: @BluntRedhead

 

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Happy Father’s Day to The Unconventional Father

This blog post is for all the Fathers, Step-Fathers, Uncles, Brothers, Grandfathers, Friends and all the mothers out there who had to step up and play both roles; Happy Father’s Day.

This post is especially for the man that I have called dad for 22 years of my existence.

Every year on Father’s Day I reflect on my life and how truly lucky I am to have had you step in where someone else ran out.

No, you didn’t have a part in my genetic creation but, you had EVERY other part in creating me into who I am. You stepped up and chose to be my dad, to raise a child that wasn’t yours. To raise the child another man had thrown away.  And that will always mean 1000x more to me.

In all honesty, I consider my self one of the lucky ones. My biological father leaving opened the door for someone stronger, kinder and a better fit to come into me and my mother’s lives. Not only have you raised me into the strong, independent and vocal (sometimes too much so) woman that I am but, I have watched you help my mother grow into the full warrior that she is today. You were the strength that helped us both come into our own and into the bad ass women we are today.

To me, a Father is some one who shows up, who makes you feel safe and makes you never doubt that you are loved. And you did just that, and so much more.

You were the one who came to every play, choir recital and sports event, no matter how small. You were even in attendance for my acting debut as Flower #4 in The Nut Cracker when I was in the 1st grade. You built a wooden ambulance with(for) me for a Pinewood derby, it sure as hell wasn’t the fastest but it was by far the best. You physically and mentally pulled me out of my depression when I failed the NCLEX the first time around, and made sure as hell I passed the second time.

To this day you are who I call when I need guidance or when my job breaks my heart.  I called you when I inserted my first IV successfully and when I was devastated after performing CPR for the first time. Ever since I was a little girl I have looked up to you as a hero. You saved lives on the streets as a paramedic, and you saved mine as a fragile little girl.

All of these memories may seem small individually but, looked at as a whole, being adopted by you has lead me to this wonderful life I have.

You loved me at my worst and to this day, still celebrate me at my best.

I could write this post for days but I will sum it up with this: As I get older I realize more and more that this “Blood is thicker than water” mentality is bullshit. It isn’t genetics that makes you family but it’s simpler than that; It’s those who don’t walk away when it gets hard. It’s those who love you and who choose you everyday.

I’ts OKAY to not be Okay.

“I’m not okay”

Who knew 9 letters could make a human feel so vulnerable.

From my experience, saying these three words does not bring the relief it should, but brings feeling of defeat. I have been working on myself and my mental health for years, and this is still one of my biggest struggles. Anxiety, Depression and all other mental health issues present in everyone differently. People on the outside may not even know we are struggling, which is why it is so important to vocalize our weaknesses when we need help.

I’ve decided to delve into this particular blog topic because lately, I have not been okay.

In a previous blog post I briefly mentioned receiving treatment when I was 14 years old for a depressive episode. I didn’t go into grave detail at that time for a few reasons: one being that it was not the main focus of my post and it’s also really hard to voice your very personal struggles on the internet.  But, when I think about it, I think that is where a lot of our problems with the mental health stigma begins. If we don’t talk about it, the taboo nature of this topic will just continue to grow.

I will start by saying I suffer from “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” and “Clinical Depression.” I use quotations because those are the terms my physicians and insurance companies use. These are umbrella terms that manifest so differently person to person and everyone’s experiences are not the same, despite the same diagnosis. I for one, suffer mostly from anxiety, which doesn’t present itself like it is portrayed in the movies.

I am often overwhelmed with feelings of anger and irritability at a moments notice, with no clear cause or reason. I feel as if I am unable to cope, like I need a physical release to feel better. And when you don’t have that ability to let the feeling go it becomes overwhelming, the air feels thick, my hands sweat and I am encompassed with feelings of rage.

A perfect example of this was a few days ago, I was running late for work and my dog was whining to go out, I was trying to make my coffee and I drew one of my eyebrows on too thin. All of these things may seem so insignificant, but my blood started to boil. I was so enraged with my surroundings I had a delayed response to the fact I was accidentally burning my wrist on my curling iron.

By the time I finally got to my car I was fuming, white knuckling the steering wheel. And I just started to scream till my throat was hoarse. I needed to get this anger out, I was desperate to feel better. Instead, the tears started to flow and I just cried, in the parking lot of my work place.

It was there in my car I realized I couldn’t do this alone and I needed help, I needed support. No one should have to feel this way, and absolutely no one should have to feel it alone.

One of the most difficult things about asking for help is realizing it’s okay that you can’t do it alone. And that it doesn’t mean you’ve failed or you’re defeated. I think as humans we all want a sense of control. We want to be in charge of our life and our choices, let alone our feelings, and when we’re not, it can be devastating.

I often surprise people when I open up about my struggles and get responses like “but you’re so happy all the time” or “I would have never known” and that’s because I AM happy, outgoing, compassionate and dedicated. But I also hurt sometimes.

It is okay, to not be okay.

With that I say Good evening and may you have a wonderful day filled with Coffee, Cats and Cusswords

Instagram: coffeecatsandcusswords

I Went Viral, What’s Next?

April 25th, 2018 I was on my weekly overnight shift for the fire department when my phone started vibrating off the table at 2am. When I opened the screen I found hundreds of tweets on Twitter… about me. Half awake I was confused, I rarely used twitter, what could this be about?

The funny (and sometimes unfortunate) thing about the internet is once you post something, it’s out there forever. And that is exactly what was happening to me.

8 months prior, I was driving home from my overnight shift at the hospital when I (stupidly) ran out of gas on the highway. I pulled over to the far right, placed my hazards on and unbuckled my seat belt to reach into my glove box for my insurance information. While on the phone with roadside assistance, a distracted driver hit my car going 55mph and I was launched forward into my steering wheel and dashboard. The flustered, young driver called 911 as I shook and cried in the front seat of my car. The police arrived and instructed me not to move as I had a head laceration and was bleeding. The Paramedics arrived, pulled me from my vehicle and quickly brought me right back to hospital I had just left, as a trauma.

Internal bleeding was ruled out, an MRI was run and multiple X-Rays taken. Once all life threatening diagnoses were ruled out, I had my husband call my mother. I sent her a picture of myself to prove I was OK because, knowing my mother she would fly from New England to Hawaii in a heartbeat if I was hurt. She advised me to keep the photo for police evidence, if necessary. I was treated for a closed head injury, cervical strain, head laceration and knee contusion. Overall though, I am one lucky woman. I never thought I would be so happy to have someone tell me I was “hard headed” as most are not as lucky as I am with that hard of an impact.

Fast forward a week: as all millennial’s, I couldn’t not post online about my experience and recovery. Along with my health update I posted the picture I had sent to my mom. With every few “Happy you’re okay!” posts came “How did your make up stay intact?” Until this moment I hadn’t thought about it, why would I? Second glance at the photo though, I notice what they were saying. My mascara was running down my face and yet, my eyeliner was unaffected by the tears and hours of tests in ER. So, I decided to write a review on the eyeliner- any make up that can last through that deserves positive feedback. So I posted the review below, and never thought of it again.

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Well, I never thought about it again until a user on Twitter read the review 8 months later and tweeted it out.

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Within hours hundreds of thousands of people were tweeting me and news outlets were emailing me. Articles were written about me in Buzzfeed, TeenVogue, Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, Perez Hilton and dozens of others. I was even in a segment on CBC Boston News. At the peak 15, 500 people were following me on Instagram.

Slowly my followers have been dwindling and climbing down, probably because they realized I am not some beauty guru and am just an average joe. But I hope to use that as my advantage. We often look to social media influencers for advice on what to buy or where to go, but maybe we need opinions of average, day to day people. If I have learned anything from this crazy experience it is that my opinion matters. I now have this wonderful platform to build off of and hope to continue voicing my thoughts and ideas, whether it be mascara or mental health. I hope that you will all continue to support and follow along in my journey.

With that I say Good Night and may you have a wonderful day filled with Coffee, Cats and Cusswords

Instagram: coffeecatsandcusswords

 

A List of Daily Activities Good For Your Mental Health

Over the many years that I have struggled with depression and anxiety I have truly come to realize that it is the little things in life that we take for granted, and shouldn’t. Below are is a list of  things I do everyday for my personal Mental Health Wellness. Despite if you struggle with any Mental Illness, I think these are things we ALL can benefit from to be our best selves.

 

1, Make your bed- There is something so satisfying to a freshly made bed to come home to at night. I do it when I first wake up because it validates I have gotten up and done SOMETHING productive today.

2. Change your clothes- I don’t care if it’s you changing from one pair of sweats to another, change your clothes! Slipping into something fresh and clean automatically motivates me to move forward with my day and get shit done.

3. Shower- This may seem like a given but for people who suffer from depression, we lack motivation to meet our most basic needs. Listen, I won’t judge you if you throw your hair in a bun and only wash your body (mostly because I do this multiple times a week) but just get in the shower. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. You deserve it.

4. Eat Breakfast- We all grew up hearing “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” And its true. If I have to choose between putting on mascara for work or making an English muffin- The carbs will win every time. Plus I like having those few quiet moments to myself in the morning before work to eat and mentally prepare for the day ahead.

5. Say Please and Thank You- Yes, believe it or not, basic manners can make you feel better! I am a firm believer that what you put out into the world is what you will get back. So Thank your waitress, hold open the door for the person behind you. These actions take an extra 5 seconds and can make the difference in a person’s day.

6. Get outside- Even if it’s just to walk my dog around outside I try to get out once a day. It is all to easy to hole up in your bed with your laptop all day, but I personally feel junky if I do that. Just 5 minutes of fresh air can re-motivate and reset my brain to be productive.

7. Have Hobbies for Yourself- Pick some things that you genuinely enjoy, who cares what others think! I have been playing Sim’s since it first came out and currently still play to decompress. I also love to Bullet Journal and Read(which I need to make more time for)

All though the human experience is different for us all, at the end of the day we all need to make time for ourselves. What are some things you want to make time for everyday? I thoroughly encourage you to do so.

 

With that I say Good Evening and may you have a wonderful day filled with Coffee, Cats and Cusswords

Instagram: coffeecatsandcusswords