Volunteering Like It’s My Job

I can’t believe I waited THIS long to start volunteering at the Humane Society. I love animals, especially dogs, so damn much that giving my time to my local shelter seemed like the natural thing to do.

I took my New Volunteer Orientation at the Humane Society of Huron Valley in February of 2015. After accumulating 20 hours of volunteering (mostly through picking up donations from a location Walmart), I was allowed to take training to walk the dogs.

In late July 2015, I took “Dog Walking Level 1.” I was so incredibly nervous to take the training, I wanted to learn everything I could and not miss one piece of information. There was SO much to take in (surprisingly, it’s not just picking up a leash and going on a walk) over the 3 hour class, I was worried I wasn’t cut out to walk these adoptable dogs.

I’ve been dog walking since August, having raked up about 45 hours of dog walking since, and I *still* get nervous before I go. It’s not because I’m scared of the dogs (I was a little timid with the pit bulls at first due to misunderstandings about the breed), I just want to do everything RIGHT.

I thought I’d share the names of some the dogs I’ve walked… I tend to hang on to “important documents” for longer than needed and have kept all of my notes on the dogs :)

1. Tess – I don’t remember Tess, I think she was a small dog.
2. Zoei Raye – wonderful pit bill mix, a volunteer favourite.
3. Chutney – timid hound dog who was more content in his kennel.
4. Charity – sweet pit bull mix.
5. Mr Biggs
6. Tyler
8. Witherspoon
9. Grace – another hound dog AND another volunteer favourite. Grace was with a few families before finding her forever home :)
10. Nora – I *loved* Nora, what a gentle lady.
11. Paisley
12. Lucy
13. Smokey Bones (funny little dog)
14. Ruby
15. Clyde
16. Sunflower – I loved her too. She was a boxer mix I believe.
17. Bacon! Big ol’ Bacon. He’s about 100 lbs and still available for adoption. CLICK HERE.
18. Capone – Super cool dog who looked like a fox. He was adopted very quickly.
19. Little Bit – lil’ cutie.
20. Chubby – Little bit’s brother.
21. Perla
22. Ike
23. Mocha – I really liked Mocha, a lab mix. We had a lot of fun playing fetch in the play yard.
21. Merlin – an older pit bull mix who was a little fearful at first, but is very lovely. Merlin is one of the dogs approved to interact with the Junior volunteers.
22. Ozai
23. Roo
24. Phoenix – an older gentleman (10 yrs) who I walked a couple of times :)
25. King – another gem! King is a Pharaoh Hound mix who was adopted.
26. Twiggy
27. Oreo
28. Benji
29. Blossom – I loved Blossom the TV show (Whoa!) and the dog. She was a small mix, black/white, long hair… a senior dog. But it didn’t take long for her to find a home.
30. Oreh
31. Howie
32. Teddy
33. Baylee – my notes on Baylee “didn’t poo”
34. Rooney – a puppy!!!
35. Watson
36. Coco – who I noted was “sweet”
37. Habley
38. Squirt
39. Jasmine
40. Sid
41. Izzy

***For a complete list of all the available animals ready for adoption at the Humane Society of Huron Valley CLICK HERE***

2016! Let’s Go!

Hello, 2016! Hello, WordPress!

What’s making me happy right now? My girl Aparna is back in the blogging world! I love reading Aparna’s blog posts. You must remember we became friends after talking on Twitter for a couple of months, so for her to have her blog back is a big deal. I love online, blogging Aparna as much (if not more… jk jk jk) as real life Aparna. Hopefully we can encourage each other to keep writing.

I am definitely one of “those” people who feel renewed when the calendar changes over. It’s really meaningless though. As Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted on December 31:

Neil

 

INSIGNIFICANT, HE SAYS. But whatever, it may not mean anything in the greater scheme but I’m feeling good.

If you hadn’t caught on this is my annual resolution post. Usually I resolve to blog more, only to follow up with not blogging for the rest of the year. Whatever, I accept me as I am so you should too. I had some big goals last year… namely read 55 books, which I didn’t accomplish. That’s okay though, my time in the late summer was spent watching the Blue Jays make the postseason for the first time since 1999 or something ridiculous.

What’s on the agenda for 2016:

1. Read 55 books (Unless the Blue Jays make another run…)

2. Reach 100 hours of volunteering. I volunteered 60 hours of my time in 2015, with a late start and not as much commitment to a regular schedule, so I GOT THIS..

3. Get to work on time (If you’ve worked with me, or have ever needed me on time anywhere, this is a lifelong resolution to be punctual. I’m doing pretty good so far! I’ve only been 10 minutes late once this week and have mostly arrived around 8am. No one really cares if I arrive on time, people usually arrive anywhere between

4. Cook dinner once a week. I’m so spoiled by having a personal chef (Richard) that it’s only fair I give back and I figured once a week was reasonable. I’m 1/52!

5. Make a new friend. Not sure how to accomplish this one, other than continuing to meet up with people I’ve talked with on Twitter! Shout out to all of you!

6.  Less negativity and stress. I have a pretty stress life when you look at it objectively, so what I really need to work on is just being more ‘chill’ about stuff that usually gets me riled up (I’m looking at you, Ann Arbor drivers!)

7. Make more memories with Richard and ‘the boys.’

All of my goals are measurable and attainable. We’re 1 week into January and I still feel the momentum I felt on NYE . Here’s to a happy, healthy, and productive 2016.

Reluctant Yogi

Well, friends… I am in a lot of pain. I went to a yoga class for the first time in 4 months and I am FEELING the effects. Over the summer I was a regular yoga student. I was committed to becoming totally adept at yoga and practicing on the regular. I was slowly making gains and noticing my strength was increasing (no more modified poses for me!). Then, I stopped going. Just stopped. I needed some money to pay off my credit card and didn’t renew my membership. I figured my money would be better served in a retirement account and I could just continue practicing on my own at home.

I set up my mat in our spare room, updated my yoga app with my favourite classes, and proceeded to never get back on my mat. To be fair, it’s not entirely my fault! The Blue Jays were killing it, and made it to post-season baseball for the first time since 1999 or something. My life was consumed with watching baseball 3-4 times a week, which took up time I was planning to use for OTHER things… Like yoga. Basically, what I’m saying is it’s Jose “#BatFlip” Bautista’s fault. That’s right, Jose – I’m calling you out.

My friend Aparna has been practicing on the reg, and told me about a Groupon for a local studio, and the teacher was my VERY FIRST yoga teacher – so I kind of HAD to go, right? Fast forward 16 hours later and I am so freaking sore. My arms, chest and core are almost immobile. I didn’t have the best class. Yogis will tell you that every time you practice, you should just accept your body and your practice where it is, at that moment. Don’t force anything. Every day is a new day to be better. It’s extremely hard to subscribe to that line of thinking when it’s been months and downward dog is making you sweat.

I wasn’t in the best place, mentally, during the class. I was annoyed with myself for being out of shape, losing all the progress I made over the summer, and wanted to just lay there, and practice “laying on your back,” until class was over. The teacher, Dominique, had some important words for the class – and I loved it “The biggest adjustment of any pose, is the adjustment of your mind.” I was really ruining the class for myself by being so negative and grumpy.

I have 4 more classes to take as apart of my Groupon and I hope to take the full benefit from the classes. I can’t let my grumpy, I suck attitude, ruin my burgeoning yoga practice. Dominique is right, adjusting your mind really is the biggest battle.

For my next class, which I think will be tomorrow with Dominique, I’m going to focus on accepting where I’m at, and if I struggle, tell myself to readjust my mind. I’m going to step onto my yoga mat the same way Jose Bautista executes an at-bat… with patience and the knowledge that I’ll make something of it.

Namaste.

Volunteer MORE.

One of my recent goals has been to volunteer more… When I made the decision, I was hating my work-life and needed to feel useful. I started volunteering at Washtenaw Literacy, working with people who need one-on-one help with native English speakers just needing some extra help. Washtenaw Literacy is such a fantastic organization and I was SO excited to be a literacy tutor, but unfortunately it required more time than I thought :( 2-3 hours per week. Because I was working one-on-one with a high school student with special needs, I didn’t want to half ass it. I spent hours preparing for our lessons and we always had difficulty meeting up with one another, it just wasn’t working out.. then my hours at work increased so I can to call it quits. I hated giving up on my student who was so sweet and seemed to enjoy the stupid games I came up with. I felt like such a failure.

Two years ago I left that company and started working at a local company that had a better work/life balance. Two years later I made the decision to start volunteering again. What better place to begin my new life as a volunteer than the humane society!


The Humane Society of Huron Valley holds such a special place in my heart because we adopted Andy there. And if you know me you know how much my dogs mean to me. The HSHV has new volunteer orientations every month. I made the decision, paid the $40 orientation fee (you get hooked up with a sweet volunteer shirt), and I was READY to be a do-gooder.

Volunteer orientation was easy. We listened to information about the shelter and its mission, took a tour, talked with other volunteers about what brought us to the HSHV. I might have made up a little story about wanting to get over my fear of cats…. It’s true I am afraid of cats but I don’t want to get over my fear. Cats and me have an understanding and we both like it that way.

When you first start, you’re “Paw 1” level – which meant I couldn’t walk the dogs! Boo! I spent 20 hours doing easy shelter work – mostly driving to a Walmart in Canton, picking up donations from the store, and dropping it back off at the shelter. 20 hours of doing that and I finally made it to “Paw 2,” hell yeah!

Paw 2 = dog walking! Bring on those pups. After I completed an orientation, I was ready to start walking dogs. I was so nervous at my first shift, you could say I had a LOT of anxiety. What if I picked a dog I couldn’t handle? What if the dog ran out of it’s kennel before I could get it’s leash on? What if I missed an important behaviour note about the dog?

I wasn’t perfect my first few shifts. I was just too excited to get in there and walking dogs. You’d think it’d be easy-peasy, but the HSHV does a great job about making sure each dog is treated as an individual. Some dogs can’t go on longer walks, other dogs need a harness, some dogs LOVE the play yard, others are shy and need coaxing out of their kennels… It’s a lot to take in.


I’ve put in about 18 hours of dog walking so far and I’m loving it. I’ve been signing up for the Sunday morning shift, 730-930am. When I arrive the shelter is quiet (except for all the barking dogs, natch) and I get to take my time walking each dog, giving them lots of attention, and making sure they start their day off right.

The best feeling I get is when a dog I’ve really enjoyed walking has been adopted. I feel like I’ve helped that animal, and in some way the family that will get to enjoy that dog, on their way to a better life.

I encourage everyone to try and find time to volunteer, it’s more than worth your time

Amber

Countdown to 30.

I am a little over a month away from my 30th birthday… time to check in on the goals I wrote for myself almost 5 years ago!

Ten Things I’d Like To Do Before My 30th Birthday

1 ) Get my Masters Degree in Public Relations. I have a B.A. in Sociology and although I loved studying sociology I feel like I need to expand my skill set in order to get where I want to be career wise. Plus, going back to school is always a great option for folks like me who have no real direction in life.

Update –Still no direction in life but I did get a promotion at work, so I’m learning something new and got a little pay bump! I don’t think I’ll ever want to be a student again. I’m too comfortable with my 9-5 and VERY comfortable with not having any debt (other than our mortgage!)

2 ) Start a family with my husband. This is pretty self explanatory! I don’t see myself having a baybeh until I’m closer to 28 or 29 but it’s something we should start planning now because kids are hella expensive.

Update  – I love how I thought I’d be ready for a baby “closer to 28 or 29.” Kids are STILL hella expensive and I don’t think any amount of planning will make us ready; however, Richard is still in school so it’s REALLY not a good time for us. I’d have to take care of the kid 24/7 while he writes papers and muses over events from WWII.

3 ) Volunteer more. I’ve recently started volunteering with Washtenaw Literacy and after only one lesson with my student I already feel like I’m making a difference. I’m going to try my darndest to make volunteering an even bigger part of my life in the years to come.

Update – Oh yeah! Killing this goal.  My volunteering with Washtenaw Literacy fizzled out due to my work schedule at the time, which was disappointing.  In March of this year, I started volunteering for the Humane Society of Huron Valley and it’s so rewarding. Since March I’ve put in 40 hours of volunteering – 20 hours of which has been walking the animals. I’ll be blogging about this later to share how happy I am!

4 ) Get a hot body. I’m happy with my body now but really want to start some sort of exercise program that gives me the body I know I can have if I put in the effort. Achieving this goal will mean I have to stop being a lazy arse, so it may take some time to accomplish.

Update  – Richard says I look pretty good but yeah I still don’t have the body I imagined I’d have. I’m sipping red wine as I write this, so that won’t help the cause… I really want to commit to doing yoga mixed with walking and possibly weights. I gave up alcohol in September and I lost 6 lbs, so it’s all about balance.

5 ) Start my career. After accomplishing Goal #1, naturally. I’m working full-time now but it’s only a job and not want I want to be doing in one year, let alone 5.

Update – It’s time to realize what I’ve been doing is my career, even though it’s not what I imagined for myself, I have good pay and don’t have to lift heavy things. So let’s consider this goal ACCOMPLISHED.

6 ) Become a homeowner. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I am VERY close to achieving this goal :)

Update – I BOUGHT A HOUSE & STILL OWN IT! CHECK THIS OFF THE LIST!!!!

7 ) Travel to Asia. This may be hard to accomplish as my husband has an aversion to travelling to non-English speaking countries (Boo!) but I’d love to visit Thailand, Bali, Japan… You name it!

Update – We did end up getting to Oregon this year for an awesome time visiting Richard’s family. Oregon is close to Asia.I don’t see myself getting to Asia anytime soon, there are more places in the US and Canada I’d like to see first.

8 ) Adopt another dog. I’ve always been a dog person and at one point imagined myself having upwards of 5 dogs. Adopting another dog would bring our count to 2. I’m on my way, folks!

Update – I still have two dogs and they’re still the sweetest. Being at the humane society so much has made me had the itch for #3, but that would be absolutely insane. I’m going to keep dedicating my time to helping the animals at the shelter and get fulfillment from that.

9 ) Spend a ridiculous amount of money on something. You may say buying a home is very expensive and that’s already on my list, but I’m talking about something totally frivolous. Like, a $1000 on a pair of shoes or purse. This goal may not seem realistic, but if I start my career and start making good money for myself – I think I deserve to splurge.

Update – Last time I updated this I considered buying expensive clothes, but I think I’ll buy myself a new laptop. This old Dell isn’t going to last much longer.

10 ) Get a tattoo. I keep changing my mind on whether or not a tattoo is something I really want…but I think I could handle a small tattoo somewhere hidden. I have five years to get the courage to do this.

Update – I am still tattoo free BUT I have an idea as to what I could get….. Stay tuned.

BRING ON 30!!!!

Elaine

Teetotaling

Today’s blog brought to you  by one of my favourite words:

teetotaler. a person who abstains totally from intoxicating drink

I have no desire to look up the origins of teetotaler, I just enjoy that it is such a strange word for what is essentially being sober. Back in November, I was a teetotaler for an entire month. My coworkers never thought I could do it, they know I enjoy a cocktail every now and then. Plus, work was very stressful that month, so they knew happy hour would be out of the question. They were so convinced I would fail, it was almost comical – I should have put money on it. I guess they didn’t realize they were dealing with an extremely strong willed person. HELLO, I became a vegetarian over night and haven’t had red meat or poultry in about 8 years!  Despite their nay-saying, I did it! An entire month without fun or joy. Just kidding, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be. In fact, Richard and I are both giving up drinking from now until his birthday (about 3 weeks away). We’re both trying to further our fitness goals, save a little money, and for some reason we’re always looking for little challenges we can do together.

Valentine’s Day was on Saturday and since Richard was very busy with school, and needed me out of his hair, I made the decision to just chill out by myself, watch TV, and down a bottle of Pinot Noir #DayDrunk. Naturally, I had a great time. To make up for my imbibing yesterday, I have been drinking a TON of water today. I learned from Doug Benson’s “Doug Loves Movies” podcast that Doug goes one month on/one month off from drinking, maybe I”ll adopt that schedule but for now I feel good and am ready to embrace a whopping 3 weeks of sobriety.

Ten Before Thirty: Update

Hello again. 4 years ago, when I turned 25, I wrote a list of things I’d like to accomplish before my 30th birthday… Well, I’m 29 now and have to get cracking if I plan to check most of these goals off of my list. It’s pretty funny reviewing these because some of them seem way off the mark — a lot has changed in 4 years I suppose.

Let’s review my list and see how I’m doing :)


Ten Things I’d Like To Do Before My 30th Birthday

1 ) Get my Masters Degree in Public Relations. I have a B.A. in Sociology and although I loved studying sociology I feel like I need to expand my skill set in order to get where I want to be career wise. Plus, going back to school is always a great option for folks like me who have no real direction in life.

Update – Hahahahaha. I am not sure I will ever be a student again and I still feel really directionless. I am still doing the same job I had when I wrote this original blog post, which is pretty terrifying actually. I may be getting promoted at work, so that’s good? I think my ultimate goal in life is to be at home, with my dogs, reading and watching movies.

2 ) Start a family with my husband. This is pretty self explanatory! I don’t see myself having a baybeh until I’m closer to 28 or 29 but it’s something we should start planning now because kids are hella expensive.

Update  – To quote Bill Burr “Ohhhhhh Jesus.” I think 25 year old me was pretty adorable. No comment on the baby thing.

3 ) Volunteer more. I’ve recently started volunteering with Washtenaw Literacy and after only one lesson with my student I already feel like I’m making a difference. I’m going to try my darndest to make volunteering an even bigger part of my life in the years to come.

Update – Yeah, I suck. My volunteering with Washtenaw Literacy fizzled out quickly because unfortunately I was working a 50+ hours at work and my student had difficulty making our appointments. I still want to volunteer and really need to make it a priority.

4 ) Get a hot body. I’m happy with my body now but really want to start some sort of exercise program that gives me the body I know I can have if I put in the effort. Achieving this goal will mean I have to stop being a lazy arse, so it may take some time to accomplish.

Update  – So I haven’t yet achieved the ‘hot body’ I have in mind. It’s hard to do when your husband says he loves you the way you are and cooks you dinner every night. I am starting a cross fit program though work this week, it’s 8 weeks, 2 classes per week. So maybe I will get that ‘hot body’

5 ) Start my career. After accomplishing Goal #1, naturally. I’m working full-time now but it’s only a job and not want I want to be doing in one year, let alone 5.

Update – Yikes. I feel like a total loser! I still have no idea what I want to do, so I guess I’ll keep showing up for work, getting paid, and writing blogs about how I have to figure my shit out.

6 ) Become a homeowner. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I am VERY close to achieving this goal :)

Update – I BOUGHT A HOUSE & STILL OWN IT! CHECK THIS OFF THE LIST!!!!

7 ) Travel to Asia. This may be hard to accomplish as my husband has an aversion to travelling to non-English speaking countries (Boo!) but I’d love to visit Thailand, Bali, Japan… You name it!

Update – We haven’t made it to Asia but we have gone to Mexico a couple times, and Colorado. Our next trip will be to Oregon to visit family, then maybe some travels around Michigan. I really don’t see us going to Asia anytime soon which is a bummer. I think if I asked Richard today to go to Asia he’d say, “Can’t you do that with Aparna?” 

8 ) Adopt another dog. I’ve always been a dog person and at one point imagined myself having upwards of 5 dogs. Adopting another dog would bring our count to 2. I’m on my way, folks!

Update – Sweet Andy is 4 years old and Dexter is still kicking around at 6. After watching the Puppy Bowl yesterday I asked Richard if we should get another dog…. I think my family would kill me.

9 ) Spend a ridiculous amount of money on something. You may say buying a home is very expensive and that’s already on my list, but I’m talking about something totally frivolous. Like, a $1000 on a pair of shoes or purse. This goal may not seem realistic, but if I start my career and start making good money for myself – I think I deserve to splurge.

Update – Looks like I worded this goal as something to do only when I’ve met my career goal. Considering I might be getting promoted soon, maybe I can cross this off the list? I can’t see myself dropping $1000 on a pair of shoes because I have become obsessed with saving for retirement (THANK YOU ZACH ELLIS, UGH YOU RUINED ME), but maybe I’ll splurge on some wine…? Even that sounds lame. Stupid Zach. I don’t know. Leave a comment & help me spend my money.

10 ) Get a tattoo. I keep changing my mind on whether or not a tattoo is something I really want…but I think I could handle a small tattoo somewhere hidden. I have five years to get the courage to do this.

Update – I am still tattoo free and am still unsure what I would get. I have mulled over a few ideas but I think I’d get sick of them. Etsy now sells a bunch of hipster-y temporary tattoos so I think I’ll try some of those first before I get a real one. I feel like out of all of my siblings, I would be the one to get a tattoo, so it has to happen.


There you have it. I’ve completed two things from my list #6 Buy a house and #8 Adopt another dog. Those are pretty decent goals to have accomplished – especially when I crossed them off the list soon after my 25th birthday! I think Richard could argue I’ve also completed #9 because we have totally different opinions on what is considered splurging.

There are probably a couple left that I can actually achieve. #3 Volunteer more (just need to do it!!!) #4 Get a hot body (starts tomorrow night) and #9 Spend a ridiculous amount of money on something (BUT WHAT??)

I don’t even feel entirely bad about how little from this list I have accomplished. Colorado was a fantastic trip and cost way less than going to Asia, I haven’t gone back to school but I also haven’t opened any additional debt, I have been doing my best to advance my career given how hard it is to do in Southeast Michigan, especially in Ann Arbor where everyone and their mother has a Masters degree or knows a guy who knows a guy. So yeah, I feel ok.