Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Walking Out of the Mountain

This is a cool story. This guy is making positive changes happen in his life by doing something most of us won't do. I know I don't even walk around the block, much less across the country. Here I sit in front of the computer. Before that, I was asleep in bed.

(I told myself, before returning from NC on July 12, that I would eat only fresh fruits and vegetables and drink water after I got back. I have not had one day yet that I've lived up to that goal. I have, however, increased my fresh produce intake, and I've increased my water consumption. I do not work out every day, either, but I did exercise in the pool at the hotel for 15 minutes on Friday morning and for 30 minutes on Sunday morning when I was in Kansas City for Bunnyvention. That was great, because I love being in the water.)

I'd like to do a walk doing photographs. There is so much to see in the world that we miss every day. I love to take pictures. I like to find the photos in everyday life. I look for where the frame is around the subjects all around.

It would be cool to do a walk like he's doing and just SEE everything there is to see when the speed is only 15 miles a day.


Here's the AOL article that led me to his website:

The Walking Man

At 400 pounds, Steve Vaught is taking the biggest leap of his life. He's walking across the country to lose weight. Averaging 15 miles per day along Route 66, the self-titled "Fat Man Walking" has traveled 300 miles on foot -- and along the way, he's lost 50 pounds.

Obesity Hits Men Hardest

Vaught is in for an uphill climb. Severely obese men digest carbs poorly and have less endurance than women, making it difficult to lose weight. But studies show that a slow walking routine may help the heavyset burn more calories.Could you walk in his shoes?

See his route: thefatmanwalking.com.


ps - I just left a message in his online guestbook.

Thefatmanwalking.com Guestbook
Sign my Guestbook
Shows: 89528. Inputs: 3572. Last show: Tue Jul 26 16:02:43 2005 .

Last input: Tue Jul 26 16:02:49 2005 .
Name: Deb in Tulsa (
Country: USA
Date: Tue Jul 26 16:02:49 2005


This is so very cool! :) What you are doing is excellent! :)

You are a walking reminder to "Have A Dream. Set A Goal. Make It Happen. "

Thanks for sharing your inspirational journey with the rest of us. :)

Deb in Tulsa, www.cbunnyrep.com/7733

Monday, July 25, 2005

Bunnyvention 2005 Kansas City, Missouri

I went to Bunnyvention. I was hoping it would be a happy (or at least interesting) diversion from some of the stresses in my life. It was.

(Recent potential stresses - end of job at group home where I've worked for the past two years, goodbye to the last person I took care of during that time, diagnosis-dying-death of my kitty, approaching final week of 11 months in paramedic class with all that entails, internships coming up soon, fall semster to pay for, RN classes beginning soon).

I did not know what to expect. I knew I didn't want to share a bed with a stranger (the friend I had hoped to share a double room with canceled about a week before). I was hesitant to be around a lot of people who were probably either too squeaky-clean (or appeared to be) or people who were just a little too ga-ga over Country Bunny.

I've been kind of a skeptic for the past couple of months. I sold a lot of product my first month and a half. Then, I began to think, "Why should I be doing all this work and someone else is getting paid for it?" I said this to one of the women at the Hutch (main office) when I called last week. She said, "Have you ever done direct marketing before?"

I wasn't sure if she was about to tell me that's what direct marketing involves (in part), or if she was gently teasing me. I said, "Yes, but I've always just signed up, bought a lot of stuff, and quit." And, here I was about to do the same thing again.
It's not surprising that the skepticism was creeping in.

I signed up for Bunnyvention (the yearly convention) months ago when the price was the very lowest. I told myself I'd go this first time for one of two reasons (to be discovered while there). I would either 1) realize what a fabulous company it is, and I'd be sold on it completely, or I would 2) see what joke it was and be glad I was able to observe and find out the truth early, so I could get out and cut my losses.

Did I say I'd been a bit skeptical?

I don't know that my skepticism was for this company as much as for direct marketing in general. I've had a lot of years to watch direct marketing companies and not be very impressed with them. I guess that doesn't say much. I've had a lot of years to watch other companies, too, those of the 'corporate America' variety, and not be very impressed.

I had heard from lots of people that the owners of Country Bunny Bath and Body, Nancy and Ron, were really nice people who care a lot about people, want the best for others, and are doing all they can to make their company a road to success for all who want to take that road. They look so 'nice' in their photos. I just didn't know what to think.

Did I say I'd been a bit skeptical?

I had a problem with all the words, too. I LOVE THE PRODUCTS. I've not found anything better. The Country Bunny Bath and Body products are as good as it gets. But, I thought, "Bunnies?" (sales reps) and "The Hutch?" (main office) and "Bunnyvention?" (the company convention each year) and customer service reps who sign their email correspondence "Have a Hoppy Day!"? I couldn't find words for it. It just all seemed so weird.

May I say this now? I LOVED BUNNYVENTION!

I had a great time. I was SO impressed with Nancy and Ron. They DO care about people. They DO want people to succeed.

And, all that 'Bunny' stuff, all those 'bunny' words, all the 'bunny' themed everything was FUN. I really, really enjoyed it. It's actually kind of neat, because how can you take yourself too seriously when you're talking about bunny rabbits?

There was so much good that happened there. There were so many good speakers. There was so much good information given out through talks, demonstrations, Q and A sessions, and presentations. I heard and saw a lot of good things. On the way back to Tulsa, I told the person I rode with that it wouldn't even have been bad to have had a 12-hour drive home (instead of our 5 hour drive), because there was so much to process and so much to think about and sort out.

I took in more than I could absorb. I saw and heard a lot of things that will help me make this work as a personal business. There are so many good people, smart people, creative people, imaginative people, caring people who work for Country Bunny Bath and Body (either as employees or as independent representatives).

But, what really clinched it for me and made it all okay (and better), was that I was able to see the owners of the company in person (Nancy and Ron). I heard them speak. I met them. I talked with them. I took pictures of them (and with them). I watched them.

They are hard-working. They're innovative. They're passionate about what they're doing. They care about people. They're humble. They are not just in it for themselves. They really do want other people to succeed along with them.

Did I say I'm a bit of a skeptic?

I am. I really am. I rarely believe that people at the top in businesses care about the people who do the grunt work. Nancy and Ron do. This business is their baby, but instead of selling the products to a major distributor, they chose to sell it person-to-person.

Now I can believe in Country Bunny Bath and Body wholeheartedly. Up to this past weekend, I did not yet know if it was just another direct sales company. I did not know if the people who are at the top were just in it for the money, or if they were in it because they care about doing something good in this world.

I really was impressed with Nancy and Ron and with the message they have given to those who sell the products. I heard over and over, from many of the speakers, about how important it is to listen to the customer and find a way to meet the customer's needs. I realize this is a classic sales techinique. what's different here is that I actually believe that those who are super-successful with this company have a 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you' attitude. I know they are in it because they can (potentially) earn a lot of money. But, they are also in this because they care about people and they want to make good connections with people, and they want to help people. I think that's really cool.

For much of my life, I've looked for people in business who act with integrity. I'm sure there are many. But, there are also many who act only for themselves. I've started work in departments or in companies, believing that people want the best for others, only to learn that people only want the best for themselves.

I may find myself disillusioned at some point, if I find that my original skeptical attitudes turned out to be pointing to truth. But, for now, I am very happy to set aside my skepticism.

I believe this company is different. I believe in the two people who own this company. I saw enough this weekend to know that this is a company I can be proud to represent, confident that the 'upper management' really does want good things to happen for those who sell their products. They actually listen. They actually care. That's very cool.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Diagnosis to Departure in 24 Hours

She's gone. It was an intensely sad 24 hours.

A good friend here who loves animals and flowers said I could bury my Astral kitty in her back yard. She even helped dig the hole before I went to have Astral put to sleep, and she helped fill it up and put flowers on top after I returned from the vet's office.

I told the vet. He said, "That's a nice friend to let you bury your pet in her yard." I agree.

I wrapped Astral's body in part of a sheet I slept on in my weekend job and kept the rest of the sheet. My friend and I dug the hole and filled it after I placed Astral's body in it. I put flat stones on top (to keep the dogs out). My friend's daughter cut some flowers and my friend put them on top of the stones.

Telling myself that Grandmomma was always interested in Tulsa, and she always felt connected to Tulsa b/c of her uncle (or great uncle), and that I would be letting her be in Tulsa somehow by leaving her kitty here, was the only way I could bring myself to just bury my little kitty's body instead of cremating.

Burying her in my friend's back yard was the only place I was comfortable leaving her. So, I'm glad my friend's mom offered, and I'm glad she willingly got out of bed sooner than she'd planned (works overnight) and told me it was okay and picked a spot and helped me dig the hole. She was really nice about it and hugged me and my little kitty while I cried before going to have her put to sleep.

I told my friend, "Now you can see me, my grandmother, and my kitty every day." (She selected a spot beside her grapevine across the yard from her kitchen window. After the dirt settles, she'll put all the flat stones that are on top flush with the earth, and make a little garden around it.)

It feels like a good connection from Grandmomma to my little Astral kitty to me to one of my first friends here. Leaving some of Grandmomma and myself with my little kitty where my friend can watch over her memory felt like a good way to say goodbye.

Twenty-four hours is really fast to lose someone you love. :(

Thanks for the nice notes and the tears and the good thoughts and the prayers.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Queen Astral Is Dying. Astral Kitty Is Returning to the Galaxy.

The short note:

My little kitty is dying. Kidney failure. She's home with me tonight with an IV drip of saline, mostly so I can say goodbye. I just found out this afternoon about 6pm. I wasn't ready to have her put to sleep.

I'm writing to you, because you knew her. She is my tiny little blonde kitty with the circles on her sides.


The long letter:

My little kitty is dying. She has kidney failure. I found out late this afternoon after the vet sent out blood for bloodwork (a geriatric workup).

You know her as Astral, or Astral Kitty, or Queen Astral. She's my tiny little blonde kitty with the waves and circles on her sides. I once told someone I didn't know well that the circles were where the aliens had taken her up. I don't remember who the person was, but he or she didn't get the humor and looked at me like I was out of my mind. The sides of this little kitty are like golden fields with crop circles in them.

The vet gave my little kitty almost 200mL of saline, because she was so dehydrated. The front-desk person told me that's why she was crying over the weekend, because being dehydrated is painful. The vet didn't say that to me, but I don't think I mentioned that she cried when she wasn't sleeping until later, after the saline, when she was fluffier and seemed more comfortable. She was trying to tell me something with her cries this weekend. I just didn't know what she was saying.

The vet sent her blood to an outside lab that sent someone to pick it up, get it analyzed, and send a report all in a matter of hours. The lab values show that she is very sick. If a person had the same values, the only treatment would be kidney dialysis. I had the option of having her put to sleep this afternoon, or leaving her there alone overnight getting fluids all night (with no one there, only her, and only someone coming back to check on her during the night).

I asked if I could bring her home and give the fluids myself. She's supposed to get another 600mL of saline by morning. (1000mL is about a quart, so she'll have had almost a quart of saline added to her tiny body from midafternoon today until tomorrow early in the morning. It seems like I remember her weighing about 7 pounds a few years ago. She weighed 5 pounds today. She's less than half the size and weight of my other cats.)

The saline is for her comfort, so she'll be properly hydrated, and to try to flush out her kidneys. Having her home with me tonight is for my comfort, so I can say goodbye to my suddenly leaving little kitty.

I'm sending this note to you, because you met her at some point. She was the little runt-of-the-litter kitten whose mom left her under a bush by my maternal grandmother's back steps. She's always been special to me for that reason. She's soooo soft, and she's a connection to my grandmother who was still able to walk and go down the back steps when my little kitty lived by the steps.

I didn't want my grandmother to trip over her, and fall down the steps, and break a hip, and go to a nursing home and die. None of those things happened. My grandmother died anyway about 7 years later, in April of 2002. Now, my kitty who always reminds me of my grandmother is dying, even with a saline drip, even with my desire for her to be my eternal kitty.

I knew when I started this menagerie that I'd hit a few years, at some future point, when I'd be sad a lot, because my cats and dogs would all get sick and die during a short period of time. That time has begun. My first of the animals is dying. My quirky little kitty who never liked any of the others anyway, and would have been happy to have been my one and only kitty all her life, is dying.

I held her in the hammock for awhile with the IV bag hanging on the same hook that held the end of the hammock. Right now, she's lying on the floor between my feet with the IV bag hanging from a nail.

The vet said kidney failure is not painful. He said people who have hemodialysis because of end stage renal failure have said they don't hurt when the toxins build up in their bodies. They just feel muddled and unclear. That may be how she is. She's sleeping. She'll respond if picked up or licked by the dogs (they got one shot at nuzzling and licking her an hour or two ago). But mostly, she's just sleeping. She's ready to die.

We've had the "would you unplug ..." conversation in my family and the "would you want to be unplugged ..." For me, the obvious answer is "Yes, unplug me if I am brain dead and I will not recover." The answer is also, "Yes, I would unplug ..., but I would need time to say goodbye first." That doesn't mean I would need years, but I need a little time to come to terms with the sudden loss of a loved one.

I'm trying to take that time tonight to be with my little kitty and see that as much as I want to keep her with me, her time here is through. I asked if things would have been different if I had seen some kind of signs earlier. The vet said if I'd seen something a month ago, the levels in the blood would have been lower, so maybe I could have kept her alive for a couple of months, rather than having only a couple of days to come to terms with losing her. But, that's all. And, I would have been keeping her alive with an IV drip of saline and with occasional injections of saline under her skin.

The vet said cats hide symptoms very well, so it's hard to know when they are sick. I noticed that her behavior changed a little over a month ago, but I just thought she had a personality change. She didn't seem sick until this weekend. I felt like she was dying, but I told myself she was sick with an infection that an antibiotic would cure. My wishful thinking was only that. Wishful thinking.

So, my little Astral Kitty is dying. My little rejected-by-her-mom kitty, of whom my grandmother said, "I took pity on her and gave her some milk and biscuits" is dying. My little kitty of whom my uncle said, "Drown this cat or take it home," is dying. I am drowning her now. In my tears.

I am very sad.

ps - Now she is sleeping again on my lap. If I did not believe she was dying, I could believe she was simply sleeping peacefully while I type. Rest in peace, my little Astral.

Friday, July 15, 2005

You Can't Go Home Again

That's what they say anyway. I hope it's not true, because that's my plan.

I came to OK with a company because of an outsourcing and downsizing. After I arrived, there were layoffs, another outsourcing, and more layoffs until my number came up.

Since a friend in my department was fired immediately when she turned in her resignation, at the time of the initial outsourcing in this particular thread of outsourcings, I expected it to happen to me some day. After I arrived in OK, I watched people being walked out five times before they did it to me.

Big business is not 'employee-friendly' when it comes to making money for their investors. From the view from the bottom of the ladder, it looks like they are not thinking about the employees at all when they make decisions. I understand the need to save money and increase productivity. What I do not understand is the need to destroy employee morale (for the survivors of these angel of death walks) in the process.

That's not really what I started out to say. I didn't intend to get on my 'evils of corporate America' soapbox. In spite of that view, I don't think anyone owes me anything. I would appreciate it if they didn't treat me like refuse, but I do not expect anyone to make life easy for me or give me anything I don't work for.

I have chosen, over the years of working and living through mergers, outsourcings, and layoffs, to believe that that I am better off after each of these events. I think this is the healthiest way to view my situations, because my other option would be to view myself as a victim. I do not enjoy that role in myself or in anyone around me.

I have chosen to believe that every time I have 'lost' my job (by being rolled into a new company or a new job because of one of these events), I have come out of the situation better off somehow. I even chose to believe that when I was laid off. I told myself it was an opportunity. (This did not mean I was not offended by the corporate freezing out and the indignity of being on the 'receiving end' of such a hostile action.)

Because of the layoff (RIF, they called it, "reduction in force"), I had the opportunity to leave a situation I would not have chosen to leave. Leaving meant I had the opportunity to explore some options I had not taken the time for prior to that. And, leaving meant I was free to find a new direction. It is because of paths not chosen, that I have had the opportunity to choose new paths.

For the past two years, I've been working for less than 1/3 my previous pay. But, I've enjoyed my work (with adults who have developmental disabilities). And, since I've worked the "has no life" shift (weekends), I've had the opportunity to go to school full-time for most of the past two years.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the individuals I have served. Knowing them and working with them has been a wonderful time for me. I don't like politics in business, but I have cared a great deal for the ones I served.

My current job (working in the group home)is now coming to an end. This is happening just as my paramedic program is ending and my RN program is about to begin.

Once again, I am looking for the next opportunity. I am adding in the new options, and taking away the ones that no longer exist, and I'm laying all the cards out on the table and looking at everything yet again to see if my current plan is the right one for me.

I'll either continue with the RN program as planned this fall and look for part-time work in a hospital (or not work and live on borrowed money). Or, I'll defer the start of the RN program until the Spring semester next year, and spend this semester getting settled into a new job (and finishing up my internships and testing for the paramedic program).

Either way, it will be okay.

I just have to step back and let it be for a few days. Step back and take a deep breath and do something else for awhile. And, when I come back to all the options, I'll know which one is the right one to choose.

All of this school is with one functional goal in mind. I will be trained, qualified, and licensed to do work that will provide me the opportunity to go where I want, live where I want, and work where I want. This is all happening with going home as my ultimate goal.

I'd like to think you can go home again.