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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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

Why Self-Love is Not Only Important, but Necessary

The other night I was scrolling through Instagram, as I too often do, and a stranger had left a comment on a recent selfie I posted. The comment read:

“I aspire to your level of shameless self love” With a laughing emoji.

When I read this comment my first instinct was to feel embarrassment. Had I posted one too many selfies? Did people think I was full of myself? I debated about deleting the comment for over 20 minutes, I wouldn’t want anyone else to read it and think negatively of me like he did!

But, then I thought about it. What is so wrong about loving yourself? What is wrong with looking in the mirror and thinking  to yourself “You’re killing it today.“? You know what is wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. 

I have fought long and hard battles for years to even reach a place where when I looked in the mirror, and I wasn’t disgusted. I built myself from the ground up, from a lonely 17yr old girl to the confident, beautiful and successful woman I am today.

We all need to get into this mentality that we are enough.

I have lived a life full of self hate and discouragement, I have hurt myself and others because I thought I wasn’t worth anything.  I have let peers negative thoughts of me cloud my view of myself. Many times people think of it as selfish to put yourself first, but if you don’t care for yourself, how can you care for others?

Think of the longest, most stressful shift you have ever worked in your life. The feeling of exhaustion and defeat. Your head is heavy as you realize you have to do it again the next day. In that moment, how well do you think you could care for others? After those days we all just need some TLC and that is not only okay but necessary. 

There is nothing bad about self-love and about celebrating the skin you’re in. We only have this one life, we might as well all strive to be the best people that we can be and live it to the best of our abilities. As corny as that is, its true. Say sorry when you’re wrong, and stand by yourself when you’re right. Tell those that you care about that you love them, but most of all, never forget to tell yourself.

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

Instagram: coffeecatsandcusswords