All work and no play?

Everyday I come to work and I think of how lucky I am to be employed at the university that has provided insurance for the past couple of years for my family. It came at a very good time and in particular when my husband was in the midst of being in nursing school. It was the first job that I actually worked the standard full-time 40 hours per week that came with health benefits. I felt very grown up…mostly because for the past decade I was in school and working various part-time jobs, and delving further into the world of river guiding. And then I began work on the Native American River Guide Training Program, which I toiled on night and day (most of the time) and worked more hours than I was paid for. I worked very hard on making the program a big success especially in recruiting and raising funds for the participant fees. It was a program I was and still am very passionate about, but back then I was very deeply involved in all aspects. I was doing most of the planning and managing of the program, instructors and participants but I had amazing folks to work with, and most of whom I still work with today. Back then I don’t think I “played” very much because I felt my work was my play, too. Little did I know that outlook was taking a toll on me. You know what? My version of all work and some play was to work 60+ hours per week and play at the local bars or wherever there was a together involving the presence of a keg or six pack of beer. You see, I was an alcoholic without realizing I was or else I was in serious denial.

Plain and simple, I was drinking too much and I didn’t know it. I loved the feeling of drinking good beer (and bad beer as the evening went on) but then I got carried away. I thought this was how it was done. I didn’t know that some people stopped drinking at a certain point and I kept going. Then an event happened that changed my life. I almost had my life taken away. I was traumatized. To stuff that pain elsewhere I drank but even that wasn’t working anymore. I began attending counseling sessions and this woman helped me very much through this negative time in my life. At her insistence I began attending AA sessions which were also very helpful. Four years ago in November, I have been sober and so glad I am. Life is much easier. No more awful hangovers. No more purchases of unnecessary 30 packs of beer or pints at the bar. Waking up was more enjoyable.

So now I try to have a healthy balance of work and play time. If there is an unbalance, I am cranky and spacey. I cannot afford to be unreliable because of my daughter and husband who need me. These days I much prefer to be sober and happy. I pity all the college students I see staggering in and out of the bars and onto the city sidewalks every week and weekend beginning on Thursdays and especially on our city’s terrible allowance of Tequilla Sunrise. Alcohol in moderation and safe places is much better then in places where someone may get hurt or left behind.

Now when I “play”, I spend time with my family, read a book, care for my chickens and garden, and began DIY projects. I love my life!



I had two very good reasons for not posting last Thursday and Friday. My husband graduated from nursing school on Thursday evening and my sister graduated with her Masters degree in Climate Science and Solutions on Friday afternoon. On Thursday, my husband and I worked out at Crossfit Flagstaff and did half of “Murph” which consisted of an 800 meter run then 50 pullups, 100 pushups and 150 air squats followed by a final 800 meter run. Even though it was half a Murph it was still a very tough workout but we felt very good afterwards. We then ran some errands in town and then went home to eat breakfast/lunch and then we tidied up the house for the impending arrival of family later that evening, and for the reception the next day. We got our outfits ready including our daughter’s outfit, for my husband’s graduation ceremony. After we got ready, we had do some things before the ceremony, we went to drop my daughter’s clothes off with my sister, and  then pick up some pizzas for the high school students I work with. These are Native American students who reside at Kinlani Dorm while they attend the local high school, and we learn about climate change effects and solutions in their individual communities. Great students! I’ll have to tell you more about them later.

After we left the dorm, we went to a brief reception at a local Mexican restaurant where I met some of his classmates. He had such a good crop of students to work alongside with during the last two years of nursing school. After an hour, we headed to the school before the reception to save 10 seats for my family. To make a long story short, my daughter and I stood alongside my husband as he received his ribbon of completion and we watched as he received his outstanding student award. It was an amazing experience because my parents and other family members saw and heard what a great experience my husband had in school, and watched him be awarded for his hard work. It was amazing!

The next day we all got up early to start prepping food for my husband and sister’s graduation reception at noon. Now mind you, it snowed a 6+ inches the evening before but we were forth steadfast. Mainly because we were all hungry for my mother’s corn and mutton stew, which is made from her homegrown corn and organically raised churro sheep. When the time came, my father said a beautiful Navajo prayer blessing the food and the family who came to celebrate with us. It was really neat! Then around 2 and 3pm, people started heading towards town for the graduation. My husband and I left around 3:00pm because our daughter begin fussing and so the car ride lulled her to sleep. Whew! A grumpy and tired toddler is not very fun for anyone especially the toddler herself.

Anyhow, another long story short, we got to the graduation in time to see my sister receive her master’s degree and it was a beautiful sight. She graduated with distinction with means she was one of the top students in her class, and she should be because she worked so very hard during the past year and half. After she went up on stage, we shamelessly tired to get her to leave early so we could go celebrate at a local restaurant, but she wanted to stay through whole ceremony and then get photographed with her classmates. Then around 6pm, we met a diner on the east side of town (the west side was inundated with graduates and their families) where we had a great dinner. We ate very well and laughed to our hearts content. Afterwards, my husband and I said it was such an awesome dinner and a good way to end the a wonderful two days.

Of course, sleep was much welcomed and came easily that evening. I would have slept in the next morning but I had to go and volunteer at my gym’s competition that was also a fundraiser for a local foundation. To say the least, it was a very long day on my feet and talking with people and dealing with two very awful impatient men. So yesterday, I was still very exhausted and I felt very off. I was not happy. I was so tired but I struggled through it to spend an awesome day with my baby girl.

Celebrations are wonderful but oh so very tiring especially if you are the host or family of the honored ones. It is worth every minute of sweat and stress but it is also easier when you have a lovely husband and awesome family by your side to help you through the whole thing.

I am fortunate

I wake up every day knowing that I am very fortunate to have a good job that comes with lots of benefits such as good supervisors and educational perks. I learn amazing stuff that I would not otherwise have the opportunity to. Whenever I read or hear the news and learn of unfortunate events or circumstances people are suffering all over the world, I pray and thank the Holy People for my good fortune.

My current job is to work with teachers, students, scientists and community activists. I am fortunate. One of the hardest jobs I believe people have is to work with the less fortunate in less fortunate circumstances whether it is due to environmental disasters, poverty stricken areas, etc. To see people suffering everyday is something that is very hard for me to even think about. I am feel the pain of others on a metaphysical level, if that is the correct term, and I get very much depressed. I feel for people who are less fortunate. I don’t if what I am saying is selfish but I don’t know how else to say it.

Loss of Family

Lefty!A day and one night ago, our beloved dog, Lefty, left this earth for doggie heaven. It was a sudden departure my family and I were not ready for. I was not ready for him to pass on because I was convinced he was going to live forever. I was convinced I would have the time to say my final words of love and loyalty to him as I did with our other dog, Ca$h, who passed on earlier this year. To put it simply, I am devastated. I am heartbroken. I am grieving for one of my best friends who protected me night and day. He was always so happy to see my family and I when we returned home from work or a visit to the family on the Navajo Nation. Let me tell you how we met and fell in love with Lefty.

When my husband and I began dating, he already lived with a blue-heeler mix named Ca$h who he had adopted from a local animal shelter, Second Chance Center for Animals when he was a wee pup. After two years, my husband and I tired daily of keeping Ca$h entertained because he had so much energy even after 2 hour walks in the forest near our home. We decided to get him a buddy to play with because he needed someone to be with during the day and just to keep him company. So off we went to Second Chance and visited all the dogs available for adoption in the outdoor kennels. As we came into the yard, the dogs erupted with barks of excitement and we were a little overwhelmed. As we read the biography of each dog, I noticed one particular golden fur ball sitting quietly in his kennel. He had these small cute ears that folded over when at attention, and that he was round all over. He also had a lame right leg from when a vehicle hit him on the Hopi rez, and a kind passerby took him into Second Chance. I approached the kennel and the dog sat down near the gate and looked at me with his huge puppy eyes and licked my fingers. It was that moment that he chose us. I said to my husband, “He is the one. Let’s visit with him and adopt him. He is the one!” Naturally, my husband was less inclined to make a seemingly rash decision and said let’s sleep on it and come back the next day with Ca$h. Even then I was reluctant to leave him and I promised him we would come back to visit. The next day couldn’t have come sooner. We learned that another couple of hours, he would’ve been adopted by another couple who were trying to get permission from their apartment’s landlord. We came back to Second Chance and initiated a private visit with Ca$h and Lefty. They immediately got along well and no one growled. Just lots of butt sniffing. That was it! Lefty came home with us. We learned that Lefty was very timid when it came to be leashed and tried to duck out of it, and he did successfully a few times. On immediate arrival at our home, we took both dogs out to the forest for a walk. We placed a new collar on Lefty which he immediately wiggled out of. He was timid and would duck every time we approached to pet him or place a leash or collar on him. He was very skittish and jumped at loud unexpected noises, leading us to believe that he probably was physically abused at one point. He had every right to be untrusting of any human. We were willing to be patient and loving. That was over five years ago and Lefty came love and trust us. Eventually, he stopped being so timid and skittish, and loved his daily walks. He loved doggie treats and would use his big puppy eyes to his advantage to get more treats. Worked every time!

I mentioned that Lefty had a right lame leg, and when it came time to name him we went through a few names; Duece, Johnny, etc. Ca$h was named after Mr. Johnny Cash so we wanted to go with the same name theme. We already had a human friend named Waylon so that was out of the question. My husband also worked as a river guide and as a paddle boat captain so he thought of all the commands he would yell at people like “Left Paddle!” The name Lefty was perfect! It tied in with our other dog’s name Ca$h and from the Willie Nelson song, “Pancho and Lefty” and not to mention, when he sat down he would favor his “left” side. Isn’t that perfect?

He had a lot quirks too. See Ca$h was way more energetic and loved to play his version of fetch GE DIGITAL CAMERAwhich is when we’d throw the stick or ball, he’d run toward it and pick up with his mouth and then stand or run off with it and drop it off in a distance. So I figured it’d be only fair to throw Lefty a stick too, which I did, and boy did he run after it like he was going to beat Ca$h to it. Then he skidded to a sudden halt and stopped to smell some purple flowers. No joke! He literally stopped to smell the flowers! And he never attempted to run after any stick or ball that was thrown. He was happier to smell every flower and plant he came upon.

When I learned of Lefty’s passing, I lost my breath and just about fainted. I miss him terribly. We miss him terribly. The house is a little empty without the two dogs but our third dog, Willie (yes after Mr. Nelson) remains and he will be spoiled rotten. Perhaps we will adopt another friend for him but for now we will continue to celebrate Lefty and Ca$h lives. They gave us so much love and loyalty. My husband says to think of the good times, and the fact that they had such a good life compared to the alternate if they were still abandoned and homeless. I love them so much and will miss them! For now we will bask in the love of Willie, our dog, and Juno, our formerly obese cat (she was very fat when we adopted her).

Best job in the world

I have the best job in the world and it is always the hardest job, and that is being a mother. I really think it is the best job because you have someone who loves you back unconditionally and wants to learn and do everything you know and do. Of course, this is my personal perspective because I know that not everyone feels the same way or has the same experience. Motherhood is very hard and it has taught me immense patience and discipline. I did not realize I was so selfish. I thought I was not that selfish but when my daughter was born, I quickly learned that I had to put my personal wants aside and focus only on the needs when it was absolutely necessary such as personal hygiene and food nourishment. The days of sleeping in and going to an impromptu movie were gone. Gradually, I learned that having my daughter on a routine helped me rest and get some necessary things done. Now as she grows older I find that I can do a lot of stuff with her so she feels like she is helping instead me making her feel like she is in the way.

I do admit that it is nice to get time away from my daughter so she can be with her playmates, and her father and I can work and get necessary chores and errands completed. I currently have a wonderful job where I work with some amazing educators, students, scientists, and activists.

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

If I could have any job in the world, I would love to live on the Navajo reservation in my hometown, DSCN1261and I would love to work as a combination of farmer, sheepherder, and run my non-profit, Fifth World Discoveries teaching and sharing traditional and cultural knowledge with youth and adults from all over the nation. I want and need to be near my home on the Navajo Nation. When I was born part of my umbilical cord was still attached, and so when it finally broke off, my parents buried it in the ground so as to keep me connected to the earth and my homeland. So that is where I am connected; physically and spiritually. I really do not have the desire to live elsewhere in the world because home is home, and I want to stay there.

But if I had to dream…perhaps working with Native Hawaiians in Hawaii or aboriginals in New Zealand and Australia on traditional preservation projects.

Is this stability?

I have had the most fun and amazing job since early last year. I applied for the job because I felt I was very much qualified for just about everything on the list especially the preferred qualification of reading and speaking the Navajo language. Why yes, I do know how to read and speak the Navajo language and in fact, I am a fluent speaker, reader and can write some. To say the least, I got the job, which was very exciting because I was not expecting to get a full-time job that encompassed science and working with the Navajo and Hopi tribes. And it happened at the right time because I was looking to move on from my then-current job where I was in turmoil with the some co-workers, and I was not happy. In addition, the job was running out of funds and I was not looking to obtain additional funding to support a place I was not starting to enjoy. So with this new job, little did I know that it was going to be a huge but gradual transition. In short, in my new job I was allowed to move forward and take on responsibilities I was not allowed or rather given the opportunity to do. At my old job, I realized I was stifled and felt very much…stuck. Or perhaps I did not ask for the opportunity to learn these things. Maybe I just felt like the place I was in was where I belonged and someone else would take care of big budget and administrative stuff, and I would do what they told me. You know what? The thing is that I was worth more than that. I was a valuable asset to the organization I was working for and I was severely under appreciated.

Anyhow, my current job is just awesome, and I have learned so much in what seems like a short amount of time. I wish it would last longer but it that is the risk you take when you work in the university world based on soft money. And I am okay with it. I am not panicking nor am I losing that much sleep over what will come after December 31st. But my husband and I have some savings and I have job prospects that might keep some income coming in. I have never been without a job since I was a junior in high school, whether it’s part or full time. It is a scary prospect but then again, I am excited at the idea of having some time to concentrate on some things like do-it-yourself projects or my new non-profit I am starting with a good friend of mine. I like having a full-time job but then again I like being creative and having time for my family and friends, and community projects and events. It is kind of scary going into what seems like the unknown. Well it is the unknown for me because I have never been without a job while having a kid and a few more bills to pay. But then I read Tammy Strobel’s (of the amazing blog Rowdy Kittens) book, You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap)” and she talks about some of the same fears and her journey into self-employment. I really admire how she loves her life and she loves what she is doing for work and enjoyment. I want to feel like that. I want to feel the way her blog and her words make me feel…good, motivated and happy. We shall see where this journey takes me but I’ll be sure to let you know.

Relax or Keep Going?

My relationship with my husband, through dating and now marriage, I have really changed as a person…for the better of course. I did not realize it but I was a very tense person and I didn’t know when to stop…working, partying, playing or socializing. In looking back, I realize that I was a very tired person who was also physically and mentally unhealthy. I was young. Plain and simple. Young and stupid and careless. Of course, I am not saying that everything I did was unhealthy because I made some really great friends and went on some amazing adventures. I learned so much back then that it has made me a better person. That leads to present day where I have been happily married for five years but together for seven years. In the early years, I worked hard at my jobs and often brought work home to the chagrin of my husband. He was very helpful, accommodating and understanding but after a few years he saw the damage I was doing to myself and to our relationship. The damage to myself was more disconcerting than the relationship because it was obvious we were very much in love (and still are) and that we’d work through those issues. I was stressed quite a bit and overwhelmed so often that I would cry or vent so often that I was it pained my husband. That is not fair nor is it respectful.

In the years that followed, I became painfully aware of certain things, people and organizations I had to detach myself from because the effort became one-sided. I felt unappreciated and I was treated very unfairly and disrespectfully be several people I thought were my friends and comrades. My husband helped me tread these dark waters and dark times because I was reluctant to give them up because I felt obligated. I was shamed by these people for doing things the way I did. The point of this story is that I was always on the go and I did not know how to say “no.” I was not very good at relaxing or letting things roll of my shoulders. I let things and people get to me.

It was a long and hard journey to get to where I am now. To relax, I read a book, watch a funny sitcom, feed and care for my daughter’s hens, have a conversation with my husband, clean and tidy up our house and tackle DIY projects. I love my life and I love the fact that I can consciously make myself relax because a stressed and overwhelmed me would not fair or respectful to the people around me especially my husband and daughter.