I’m sitting here, and I can’t work because I’m weeping at the end of “A League of Their Own”. It doesn’t help that I’m feeling nostalgic and that the aged Geena Davis character resembles my grandmother, who died nearly 20 years ago. It also doesn’t help that I haven’t gone to see my parents this week (they are literally a 10 minute drive away) when I had resolved I was going to stop by more often. This is a bit of an overreaction on my part, but it’s obvious that I needed a good cry. So, let’s go back and see where all this angst is coming from.
I had a meeting with my financial advisers today and as usual, I left feeling that I’m not doing enough (side note: this is NOT their doing, but my own self-pressure). I had a few hours of quiet to get some work done and knocked out a ton of stuff I’d been trying to accomplish. I’m on a tear to stop money bleeding from my practice while increasing my income. I’m working hard to get out and stay out of debt. I’m also trying to live the life I want to live, which is the whole reason I work in the first place.
Seven years ago, I was half a million dollars in debt. Half. A. Million. I made an incredible number of boneheaded decisions in my early adult life. Today, I’m a little under 100K in debt, and it’s all my student loan (the continued existence of which is another result of said boneheaded decisions). In an effort to temper how miraculous that sounds, I should reveal that I lost my house in 2009. That took care of a huge portion of the debt. The rest was eliminated through the generosity of others, hard work, and sacrifice. Now, I’m focused on saving as much as I can. At nearly 42 years old, I finally have a financial plan with goals on a timeline. Better late than never.
Except where donuts are concerned, I’m now pretty good at self-discipline. I am entirely capable of buckling down and Scrooging my finances. However, I’ve also lost two friends my age to cancer recently. I have several more that are fighting the battle. My husband’s best friend died from a brain tumor in his fifties. I’ve lost friends to suicide. My friends are starting to lose their parents. All this, and I’m trying to teach veterinary professionals to care for themselves and never lose sight of why they work so hard.
(Photo credit: Columbia Pictures)
So I’m sitting on the couch, catching up on work that isn’t earning me any money. I feel guilty that I haven’t gone over to Mom and Dad’s. I feel even guiltier because it isn’t a chore to go see my parents – I love hanging out with them – but I feel like I can’t spare the time from work. I’m denying myself something that I really want to do and will almost certainly regret not doing as time goes by.
As much as I preach self-care, I’m not always good at following my advice. Hence the dust in my quilting room. I didn’t exercise today because I stayed up too late last night. I ate a cookie. My office phone isn’t ringing. The avalanche of guilt, doubt and fear rumbled right over me, so I ended up ugly crying at a movie that’s really only sniffle-worthy. So, as much as explaining it to my brain trust is gonna hurt, I’m going to make sure I have some fun while I work toward a better financial future.
I’ve made enormous progress in the last few years, but because I am a type-A veterinarian, the fact that I’m not where I want to be right now feels a little like failure. Thankfully, Tom and CJ showed me my progress in black and white, so I can feel proud that I’ve made it this far. I have to remind myself that rolling around covered in $100 bills means nothing if that’s all you have at the end of your career.
Once I kicked myself in the ass and dried my tears, this article started forming in my head. Basically, I took 900 or so words to tell you (and myself), “It’s OK”. We all have doubt and fear. We all fall off the rah-rah wagon sometimes. There’s this nebulous destination we all want to reach, this thing called “success” or “happiness” or “peace”. Sometimes we’re so caught up getting there, that we miss all the scenery along the way. My Dad always tells me, “Enjoy the ride”. That’s easier said than done most days, but on days like today, it’s super important to remember.
So I’ll leave you with this – be the tortoise instead of the hare. Don’t be in such a hurry to get everything finished. Look back and see what you’ve already accomplished and bask in it for a moment. We all get to the finish line, some sooner than others. Make sure that you look out the window and enjoy the view. Take the time to do nothing every now and then. Cherish the people and pets in your life. Most of all, do some stuff you want to do in between all the stuff you have to do. If you need me, I’ll be visiting my parents.
About the Author
Dr. Cherie Buisson is a veterinarian and lecturer who lives in Largo, FL. She spends her time in feline-only practice, hospice practice and teaching other veterinary professionals about hospice, euthanasia and compassion fatigue. Dr. Buisson is the owner of Helping Hands Pet Hospice in Seminole, FL as well as the founder of A Happy Vet.