The Biggest Lesson I've Learned from an Insane Year

Heather Raulerson

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Horses with Heather RaulersonJanet De Acevedo Macdonald

This year has been trying, difficult, challenging, horrible, exhausting, scary, monotonous, and stressful. Being a full-time traveler, having travel denied me had thrown me for a loop. Having to start over and figure out how to make a living scared the crap out of me, and it was something I worried about every day (sometimes still do). Like most people, I have learned how to adapt to the continually changing rules and figure out my new normal. And in doing this, the biggest lesson I’ve learned from this crazy year was from animals to enjoy all the little moments today. Because you never know what will happen tomorrow. Here is a glimpse into my crazy year and how I learned to enjoy life despite the curve balls thrown at it with a little help from my animal friends.

Animals

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DeerHeather Raulerson

This was the year for me to be surrounded by animals - horses, dogs, cats, and deer galore. Spending time with these animals, I found a way to find peace within myself with all the stress going on in my life. And I thank god, that I was allowed to spend this quality time with all of them. Animals have so much unconditional love to share with you!

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Neesa and HeatherJanet De Acevedo Macdonald

With the world being in lockdown, I decided to spend three months this year with my friends, Janet and Ian, working as a horse ranch hand in Arizona. You can’t get more isolated than being on a horse ranch surrounded by nothing but horses and desert. Being a horse ranch hand is a lot of hard work, more than I thought it would be. Our days would start early and would be jammed pack until you crashed early to start it all over the next day. I learned so much about how to take care of horses. You can have fun out here, but you always have to be vigilant. Horses can be temperamental, and if you aren’t careful, wham! You get kicked by one of their powerful hooves. And yes, that did happen to me. I earned my stripes, so to speak, or should I say bruise. As Janet said, I am officially a part of the horse family now.

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Heather with the PoodlesJanet De Acevedo Macdonald

In addition to the horses, I got to spend the rest of my time on the ranch with four adorable little dogs. These dogs are so loveable; you couldn’t help but smile and laugh at their antics. Every night when we sat down to watch some TV, like clockwork, Gidget would jump on my lap for the rest of the evening. She made my lap her official seat for the entire time I was there. I loved my time on the ranch and can’t wait to get back there again.

It was nice to make it back to Michigan to see some friends before everything got locked down again. I spent some time at my good friend, Jen’s home, who happens to foster Huskies and owns a couple of them herself. These are big dogs and are some of my favorite dogs. Of course, coming from Michigan Tech, you have to love the Huskies. I have had a couple of friends that have had Huskies that I have stayed with over the years. And even with them being so big, I find that they are so loveable and affectionate. They are like giant cuddly teddy bears.

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Heather with a HuskyJennifer Shute

This year, I got to house-sit for a gorgeous cat for a couple of weeks, another social distancing activity for me. Pipsqueak is the cutest little thing ever. Pips is such a little diva, always wanting attention and would never let me work to the point that she would walk across my laptop several times a day. How can you get mad at that cute little face? You can’t! And her purr’s made my heart melt. It almost makes me want to get a little kitty cat of my own...almost.

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Heather with PipsHeather Raulerson

While I was housesitting, I had some company in the form of many, and I mean many deer. They came to the back yard every day for their afternoon nap. After a couple of days of seeing me and my camera and having me sit with them for a while, the deer got so used to me that I could walk through the whole group without them scattering away. However, I feel bad for them as hunting season was right around the corner. I think this year, I was unofficially indoctrinated as the animal whisper.

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Deer in the backyardHeather Raulerson

Loss of Two Treasured Pets

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BonnieHeather Raulerson

This was a tricky part of this year, losing pets. To be clear, they weren’t mine. Bonnie and Abigail were part of Janet and Ian’s poodle tribe. But, I spent a lot of time with both of these girls right up to the end. Their little personalities were precious, especially Abigail, who kept trying to stow away in my luggage. Janet adopts these poodles as senior dogs since no one else wants older dogs. And surprisingly, with all the love they get, they live long and happy lives with them. But, it is heartbreaking to have to know that you have to let them go. I was glad that Janet and Ian let me be a part of their last days, and I was able to take some beautiful photos of the girls for mementos for them.

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AbigailHeather Raulerson

Benefits of Owning a Pet

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Watching me WorkHeather Raulerson

There are so many benefits to owning a pet. They can help manage loneliness and depression, which this year, I think we all needed the help there. And that could explain why there was a record number of pets being adopted from shelters at the beginning of the year. Some other benefits of owning a pet are that you get regular exercise by taking your dog out for a walk, which can help decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels.

Spending most of the year surrounded by animals has given me the inkling of wanting a pet. However, I have a few things to work out before I can even contemplate owning a pet. One is having a permanent place to live, and two dealing with me being allergic to animals. The last one I’m not as worried about as I was able to handle this year with hardly any problems on that end. But, if I decide not to own one myself, I might keep borrowing my friends for some animal lovin’ because these guys were the best part of keeping my sanity during 2020.

#nbholidaycheer

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Freelance travel writer and photographer who loves sharing her adventures from around the world. It is never too late to pursue your dream!

Rochester Hills, MI
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