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.

My Tattoos Define me, But Not The Way You Think

” Did you think about what you will look like 50 years from now when you got those tattoos?”

Yeah…I’ll look 75 years old, just like you. There is this natural, unstoppable process in life that we all go through (Except Jennifer Aniston) called aging. We’re all going to get old, that’s the way it goes. So please refrain from implying that your wrinkles will look so much more divine than mine due to my tattoos.

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I am not here to sway your opinions of tattoos but, I am here to try and show some perspective. Growing up tattoos were often perceived as “trashy” and NSFW. Tattoos were only for burly bikers or soldiers. Tattoos to a women’s back were labeled a “tramp stamp ,” implying she was now of lesser value than before.

Often people seem to have the view that tattoos are ruining your body or tainting you. My most recent experience with this was having a modeling agency director tell me “It’s a shame you have those (meaning my tattoo’s) because you have such an angelic face, and your tattoo’s ruin it.” I felt so small and belittled in that moment.

What she doesn’t know is my tattoos all have a story and give me strength.

“Qualis mater, Talis filia” is scrawled across my right shoulder stating “Like mother, also like daughter” in Latin within my mothers Sagittarius constellation. My mother has been a pillar of strength, love and loyalty and I strive to be the same. But that woman would never know that, because she was too busy judging the ink rather than reading it.

I have a large Phoenix rising on my back because I rose from the ashes of a dark and helpless place and carried myself out. But she wouldn’t know my struggles nor see I am a warrior. She just see’s blurred color on a “ruined” canvas.

She wouldn’t know the flowers on my ribs, I drew myself. Or that my Dad and I both have the solar system on our skin. She would never know the anatomical heart on my arm represents the science and intelligence of my nursing career with poppies throughout to remind me nursing is about nurturing and growing as well. She wouldn’t know anything about me because she didn’t care about me as a person, she cared about my appearance. Unfortunately, a lot of people think that way regarding tattoos; that tattoos define you.

And in a way, they do define me. My tattoo’s define me because they describe my struggles, my victories and some are there because they’re beautiful pieces of art. But no matter the reason,  there is so much more to me that I wish people would be willing to see. People don’t have to like tattoos or want them but I really wish they would respect me despite me having them. See me for who I am and not what I decorate my body with.

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

Instagram: coffeecatsandcusswords

It’s not JUST Three Days a Week: The Schedule of a Nurse

Aloha, and my apologies for being MIA from the blogging and social media world. I have just finished a stretch of working 84 hours in 8 days.  I realize that it doesn’t sound like a lot. And for some, it’s not. But for a nurse, it’s a nightmare.

Often people say to me “Oh that’s such a nice schedule only working three days a week!” And in my head I’m going “only?!” and then imagining myself hitting the person who said that with a frying pan.

I frequently have to remind myself that most people do not know what I know, see what I see or do what I do for a living. They don’t realize that for the upwards of 13 hours I am on my toes, literally and figuratively. That when the clock strikes 7pm I may not sit back down again until 1am. I may not get the chance to pee or eat for 8 hours, until I literally beg an equally busy nurse to watch my patients so I can use the restroom.

We don’t rest because for 13 hours our patients, your families, are in our hands. Nurses minds are constantly thinking, analyzing and problem solving. With every medication we administer we stop and think of the outcome, is this the correct dose ect. We are on the front lines and in the trenches with our patients.

When a patient loses their pulse and goes into cardiac arrest we are the ones pounding on their chest, breaking their bones to save them. We’re holding their hands while painful procedures are being performed. We hold loved ones as they say goodbye to their wife/husband/mother/father. We help patients keep their dignity by shielding them from their families while they vomit, cry and appear weak.

We also do the amazing things; we help you learn to walk again. We wean patients from life saving drugs and ventilators. We get you up for the first time after open heart surgery. We can help give people a second chance at life.

And after these 12 hour shifts I drop my vomit/pee/blood covered scrubs to the bathroom floor after being away for 14+ hours, slip my throbbing feet out of my clogs and take a scalding hot shower to wash away any microbes I came into contact with. If I am lucky I will have 6 hours to sleep before getting up, putting new scrubs on and doing it again.

Would I change my career? Never. It’s the patients who thank me for holding their hand and not their doctor who performed the procedure. It’s the patients who have breathing tubes and write on a piece of paper “hold my hand please.” It’s the patients who wake up from sedation and thank you for visiting them in the ICU, they could hear your voice when they were under. They are all worth it.

It’s not just three days of work a week.

With that I say Good Afternoon 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