Tag Archives: Personal Life Story

The Story of Brutus, King of the Guinea Pigs

So I feel like it’s time to share the story of Brutus the pig. Why? Because it’s an interesting story. It doesn’t have anything do with writing or minimalism. It’s story time.

So I had a guinea pig for a pet. I had never owned a guinea pig before. Instead I was raised with cats, dogs, fish, a rabbit, turtles, hamsters and gerbils… but never a guinea pig. I got him because we’re not allowed to have dogs and cats in our apartment but I really wanted something that would sit on my lap and chill when I watch TV. Apparently guinea pigs are as popular in England as dogs are in America.

The Adoption

I got the number of a local Guinea Pig Rescue (yes, they exist- apparently people leave the little guys in boxes on the sides of the road!) from my sister-in-law who had adopted a guinea pig for my niece and nephew. The owner was a British lady who immediately started talking to me about what kind of pig I wanted. I really didn’t know the answer, being unaware that they had different personalities just like dogs.

She started asking me questions about my lifestyle and I mentioned that it was a quiet home with no children or other pets. She said, “I just got two boys in today. I haven’t had time to see if they’re ready for adoption and I’m at the vet right now with one of our rabbits. When I get back home, I will check them out and see if one of them is ready. If not, it may take a few weeks.” I agreed and we ended the call.

For your entertainment, here is a two day old guinea pig in a champagne glass.
Meeting Brutus

Within a few hours she called me back and said, “One of them is definitely not ready for adoption. He’s super hyper and he’s not going to work but his brother, Brutus, is borderline comatose.” She laughed. “He is super chill. He moves around a little bit but not much and the boys are usually quieter than the girls so it’ll be a boy for you.”

“Sounds great!”

This is the little guy, Brutus.
Brutus’s Rescue

As it turns out, a Brazilian family had brought him in earlier. They  had originally purchased him from a Peruvian lady in Florida. When the Peruvian lady sold them the pigs, she asked if they wanted any recipes…

The Brazilian family said, “What do you mean?” and the Peruvian informed them that she sold her pigs for meat.

Up until this point, I had no idea that people ate guinea pigs but they are actually quite popular in South America.

The Brazilian family denied any recipes and took the pigs in as pets. However, when they moved up to Virginia, the mother was put on full oxygen and they had to get rid of all of their animals. They had dogs, cats, birds, and the guinea pigs. Luckily, they were brought to Carrie’s rescue the very day I called.

He was my writing buddy. As an animal lover, I miss him and I don’t expect those who have never owned a guinea pig to understand.
Talk about perfect timing! Brutus is one lucky pig.

No, I didn’t name him. Brutus was the name given to him by his previous family. His brother, Pop-Eye was eventually adopted as well and became a certified therapy Pig at the Chesapeake General Hospital. They were both about two when they were adopted. Unfortunately, Pop-Eye had problems eating and eventually he had to be put down.

Brutus had a life of luxury. He was very quiet, loved being pet between his eyes, around top of his nose.  He was particularly fond of parsley and when I made a “juice” I would sometimes feed him the pulp from the fruit and vegetables…which apparently is like guinea pig crack.

He was an awesome little pig and unlike most guinea pigs or any kind of rodent he actually had a butt crack.  Both he and his brother had butt-cracks and I wish I had a picture to show all of you!

He was two years old when I adopted him and lived another two years before I had to sadly lay him to rest. It may sound silly to some to have a guinea pig cremated but he was the first pet that I adopted as an adult and that meant a lot to me.

Will I get another one?

Probably not.

We’ve tossed around the idea of getting another pet. Even though I really want a dog, we’d have to move elsewhere in order to have one. We’ve talked about moving for the sole reason of getting a dog believe it or not, but we can’t justify it. Right now, between work and travel, it wouldn’t be fair to the dog to keep it locked up and alone all day, inside. So with no other options, we are forgoing pets for the time being.

I can only hope that one day in the future we will move (hopefully somewhere far away) and a big fluffy dog can join us on our journey together.

Thank you for reading.

-RB

 

 

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

How To Cope With Imposter Syndrome

First of all, I want to take some time to elaborate on how difficult it was for me to find the right cover art for this blog. What exactly does an imposter look like? What does someone with imposter syndrome look like? As most of you know, I use Canva to create a lot of my blog art. At first I searched for “imposter” but nothing relevant came up in the results. After that, I searched for things like “thief,” “poser,” “wannabe,” “disguise,” “fake,” “uncomfortable,” and “outsider.” None of these terms were giving me exactly what I was looking for and eventually I stumbled upon the current cover art when I searched for “outcast.”

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Wikipedia (I know, not the most reputable source but it’ll suffice for the sake of this post) defines Imposter Syndrome as follows:

“Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments, and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.[1] Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism attribute their success to luck, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be.[2] While early research focused on the prevalence among high-achieving women, impostor syndrome has been recognized to affect both men and women equally.”

I just finished reading 52 Pep Talks for Writers by Grant Faulkner. Inside, his 21st “pep talk” is titled “Treating Imposter Syndrome.” Towards the beginning of the piece, he writes, “Authors are especially susceptible to imposter syndrome because writing is such a vexing labyrinth of self-doubt. What does it take to feel like the real thing? Writing every day? Finishing a book? Finding an agent? Publishing a book? Getting reviewed in the New York Times? Appearing on the Tonight Show? Have writer friends? Famous writer friends? Per Maya Angelou, even all of that sometimes doesn’t suffice.

Basically, it boils down to thinking that you’re a fraud, you’re going to be found out, and you’re minimizing your accomplishments.

Why do we have Imposter Syndrome?

It’s so easy for us to talk down to ourselves but we have other people talking down to us all the time. We’re brought down by society, our own friends, and our family.

I never really considered myself as having a low self-esteem. I always felt confident in my ability to write but at the same time I have a lot of moments of self-doubt and I think all writers struggle with that. At least a lot of us talk about it.

In Dr. Abigail Brenner’s post Why Do I Feel Like a Fraud? on Psychology Today, she poses questions to readers on why they might feel this way. Three topics she highlights are personal relationships, profession life and early upbringing.

Personal Relationships

Many who know me understand that I believe in the “private life,” something that people seem to not value these days. Besides my blog and Instagram, I stay away from social media. I don’t need to know who is dating who, who is getting divorced, who everyone is voting for along with their stance on every political issue, who is taking a shit at the dentist… you catch my drift. We live in a world where people no longer respect the bounds of privacy. We are a society that encourages voyeurism and encourages the sharing of too much information.

As such, my close, personal relationships are with three very select people. No one knows me better than those three in what I’d like to call “The Inner Circle.” There is an “Outer Circle” too that consists of perhaps twenty people but they are still held at arms length. Those three individuals in the “Inner Circle” are the only people in the world that I feel I can let go and truly be myself around. But even then, there are times I hesitate to say what I truly feel or mean due to fear of judgement.

It’s silly because they’ve never judged me before. In fact, that is how they go to that “Inner Circle” to begin with. But that fear is still there. Why? Probably my upbringing- done by a highly judgemental family.

Early Upbringing

I don’t feel like I can be myself around my own family. I always feel like I need to have my guard up when I visit them. Which is part of why I hate going to visit them. It’s emotionally and psychologically exhausting. It’s such a waste of time; it drains me and I don’t feel like it adds any meaning, value, or purpose to my life. After all, some of the most hurtful things about who I am, what I’ve done and what I haven’t done (to their standards) is what rings in my head most times. I grew up feeling like nothing I said had any value.

In Rachel Hollis’s bestseller, Girl, Wash Your Face, she mentions that as the youngest of four children, she was mostly ignored unless she did something good. I was also the youngest of four children and most often ignored and left to my own devises… unless I did something wrong.

When I first went to college, I was shocked when people stopped to listen to what I had to say. It took me awhile to get used to because I was so used to being talked over or ignored. Whenever I tell people that I’m not on good terms with my family, they want to know why. There’s no amount of explaining that I can do to articulate 32 years of feeling like you’re not appreciated… feeling that you’re an outsider in a family you were born into. If I truly wanted to patch up the relationship, I would but the problem is I don’t want to – I don’t care to.

To some people, family is everything. Their immediate response is that “you should patch things up.” To me, that is such a close-minded response. Not everyone’s family dynamic is the same. I know that there are shittier people out there. It could have been much worse but that doesn’t mean that bad things didn’t happen or horrible things weren’t said… Things that may affect me for the rest of my life.

Professional Life

No. I am not where I want to be with my career. Sometimes I look at my age and I think to myself, “Why wasn’t I more serious about such-and-such in college?” or “Why didn’t I see how important this one thing was and pursue it when I was younger?” We all have regrets even though we try not to. Even though I hate my current job, I recognize that without it there are many things I wouldn’t have learned… So many great people I wouldn’t have met. Whether I like it or not, it has shaped me into the person I am today.

In short, I work with imposter syndrome almost every day. Rarely, if ever, do I feel like I’m supposed to be right where I am. In Grant Faulkner’s closing remarks to his own Pep Talk he states, “Whatever you tell yourself is the truth.” He’s right there. The trust is what we make of it. That is easier said than done.

How do we cope with Imposter Syndrome?
Hold on to positive things.

I used to keep a word document filled with positive reviews of my writing. I called it “My Wall of Vanity.” The title itself suggests that I was ashamed at receiving praise for my writing… that I was being “vain” in rereading good reviews. Keeping a positive document like that is nothing to frown upon though. Those were real, organic reviews, written by people who didn’t know me from Timbuktu. I hope I still have it saved somewhere.

Stop the comparison trap

Another way to treat Imposter Syndrome is to stop comparing yourself to others. When I was on Facebook, that was all I did. I was part of many “writing” groups and often compared myself and my work to what others had done. If anything, that made me feel like more of a fraud. I kept thinking, “Why am I in a group with someone who has published 8 books?” or “Why am I with people who write 3,000 words a day on top of working a full-time job and being a parent?” Stop comparing yourself! Everyone does things differently and that’s OK.

Add value

For a few weeks now I’ve been thinking of writing a blog about Going Viral vs Adding Value. We’ve got too many people in this world seeking their 15 seconds of fame instead of trying to help others. As long as you as genuinely interested in adding value to others’ lives as opposed to seeking self gain, you’re not a fraud.

We all make mistakes. No one is perfect.

Making an error or being wrong about something doesn’t make you a “fraud.” Everyone is wrong several times in their life. Hell, I’m wrong about something at least 5 times a day… at least. And I’m far from perfect. Stop trying to do what others expect you to do and instead, do what you feel is right. Do what you feel is what you’re meant to do. No one can live your life but you.

What about you? Have you ever felt like a fake? An imposter? Please comment below with your experiences.

-RB

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

Organization: Writer’s Block’s Biggest Enemy

A recent incident at my day job inspired this post. You may have heard about the importance of being organized from teachers, parents or bosses in the past. If you’re like me, in went in one ear and out of the other. I’ve always been  a supporter of organization. I suppose it’s in my blood but I never realized just how important it was until I suddenly didn’t have it! Organization is a key component to staying productive and on target with your goals. What caused me to finally realize this?  Here’s what happened.

The Day Job

My day job consists of a lot of paperwork among a few other things. As an Administrative Generalist, I do a lot of what no one else has time for. So my responsibilities cover the span of several different departments. One of my biggest responsibilities is that of the hourly employees’ Probationary Reviews. Basically, it’s a form that every new hire receives on their 30, 60, 90 and 110 day anniversary in order to be evaluated by their boss to ensure whether they are proficient enough in their job to remain employed.

I lay my hands on these forms every day for one department. There are over 200 that are sent out each month and as we are hiring every week, as one group finishes their last review, another group begins.

Keeping these forms on track and up-to-date requires a steady eye. They are returned to me through the mail every day. And every day they must be signed by management, scanned back into the computer system, logged as received and scheduled for their next review. It isn’t difficult but very tedious and time consuming. Keeping a color coded spreadsheet helps.

The Transition

There used to be two of us in the office who handled these forms. I distributed them for one department while the second person did it for another. However, that person recently acquired a new job and due to budget constraints, wasn’t being replaced. This meant that their monthly Probationary Reviews fell to me. It is now safe to say that I spend over 30 hours a week on these reviews alone while I have other responsibilities at work. My days of refusing overtime are gone.

In picking up this new task, it quickly became apparent that the previous individual did not keep up with their filing and organization. Compile that with the fact that none of their forms had been introduced into the computer system and I had my work cut out for me.

Suddenly, my downtime at work was nil. The first day the transition took place I worked a twelve hour shift and skipped the lunch break. So many forms were delinquent or missing in action, it was hard to fathom how things had gotten so bad.

The Solution

Phone calls were made. Emails were sent out. Files were sifted through and alphabetized for easy navigation. A week later and I still don’t have that department’s forms where they all need to be. Though I’ve made substantial progress, I think of all the time I’ve spent organizing when that should have been done from the start.

Being that the first department I had sole coverage of is so organized, I’m better able to help them and not rip my hair out while fixing the other department’s mess.

How to Apply this to Writing

During this process, I’ve been thinking on how I can use it as a lesson to better my productivity at home.

Here is one of the biggest folders I keep in my filing cabinet and it’s filled with all sorts of half-developed ideas and writing prompts. I know exactly where to go when I’m lacking inspiration.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen pictures of my desk. I’d like to think my organization skills are on point and being a minimalist helps with cleanliness. Staying organized not only gives me no excuse to put off writing… [Sorry, I don’t have time to write, I need to organize by thoughts first...] but it also promotes peace of mind.

By being organized, I can quickly pick a folder, grab my laptop and head to Starbucks for an early morning writing session. I don’t have to worry about leaving anything behind because all of my notes are neatly tucked away. This means no more, “Where is that napkin I jotted that random piece of dialogue on that I wanted to use for this scene?”

I’m a big fan of “floating storage,” which means “off of the floor!” Keeping all of my notepads in one place means I always know where a spare bit of paper is. Keeping it off of the floor means I’m less likely to throw other things into the basket. Notice that the folders are also labeled with working titles and numbered.

Whenever I want to switch things up and work on another project, I just grab the respective folder. If an idea for one project pops into my head while I’m working on another, I write the idea down quickly and throw it into that project’s folder. If the idea doesn’t have a big story line yet, it goes into the filing cabinet with other “random ideas.”

Promote Good Habits

What organization really is, is setting yourself up for success. Ever notice how your mornings run a little more smoothly when you’ve laid out your clothes for the day, the night before? Or how stress free your week is when you fill your car up with gas when the tank has dropped to half instead of riding on it until it’s nearly empty? What about paying your rent the day you get the bill as opposed to waiting until the last day they’ll accept payment without a late fee?

I splurged on some clearance isle Post-Its. The different colors make it super easy to form an editing system. Or a blog idea system. Or whatever you want!

Self-published author and self-made millionaire, Amanda Hocking, frequently states, “There is No Magic Hand.” Since the first time I saw her blog post stating that, it also became a mantra of mine. She’s right. There is no magic hand that is going to swoop into your life and makes your dreams come true for you. You must put in the work. So why not make it easier on yourself and set yourself up for success? Stay organized, my friends!

In Summation…

Perhaps I should have titled this blog 3 Reasons Your Lack of Organization is Promoting Your Writer’s Block.

  1. Gives you an excuse not to write.
  2. A cluttered space is a cluttered mind…which promotes anxiety.
  3. Writing is much more difficult when you don’t set yourself up for success… Lay things out, categorize them and put them within arm’s reach, and you’re golden.

I hope this helps your endeavors!

Happy Writing!

-RB

 

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

Minimalism and the Death of a Loved One

I debated about telling the sad story behind my grandparents’ death in the summer and fall of 2016. As an introduction to what is looking to be a rather long post that is in essence about minimalism, I figured I’d go ahead and spill the beans. After all, whenever a death occurs in the family, the living are left to decide on what to do with all of the stuff that is left behind. This was the first time that I had to deal with it since I started down the path of minimalism.

To begin at the beginning…

My mother’s parents have never been in good health. At least not since I can remember. My grandfather had diabetes. He was legally blind. He had open heart surgery twice, and was pretty much deaf, not to mention grumpy. General grumpiness seems to be very common among old men. My Nana survived breast cancer, colon cancer, open heart surgery, and a stroke that left her left side fairly unusable. They had both survived a lot.

Born a few months apart, he was born in July of 1930 and she was born that November, they ended up passing away a few months apart. He passed two weeks shy of his 86th birthday and she passed two months shy of hers.

Even though they had been in poor health for decades, things suddenly went downhill fast. My grandfather went to the hospital because gangrene had set in on one of his toes. From what I understand of diabetes, the feet usually go first because of poor blood circulation.

Once admitted into the hospital for the gangrene, the doctors removed one of his toes. He swore that he must have cut his foot on something and didn’t feel it. The infection set in rapidly. Unfortunately, removing the single toe wasn’t enough as the infection spread. It spread to a second toe which they also amputated only to realize that they still didn’t get it all and the infection continued to spread throughout his foot.

It became more apparent that the entire foot was going to have to be amputated in order to stop the spread of the infection. My grandfather didn’t want to do it and I can understand why. He hated that he had to rely on other people. He knew that he was getting older and I think it greatly upset him that he was getting to a point where he wouldn’t be able to do things by himself. Being legally blind hadn’t stopped him but being unable to walk would.

Meanwhile, while he’s in the hospital my grandparents have agreed to have work done on their home. They have recently discovered a termite infestation. You see my grandfather was so distrusting of people – under the impression that everyone was out to scam him –  and as a believer in “your thoughts create your reality,” I can see why he constantly attracted those types of people into his life because he always thought the worst of people.

Years ago he stopped inspecting the house for termites. And guess what? The termites came. When the inspector came to the house, they found extensive damage. The inspector explained that termite tunnels are normally as big around as a spaghetti noodle but the ones he had found were as large as his forearm.

Just before repairs are to begin on my grandparents’ home, my Nana was alone one night and fell. She fractured her wrist, broke her pelvis and part of her spine. She was hospitalized. Shortly after that, my grandfather was informed that gangrene had been found in the heel of the opposite foot. They would amputate again.

Once out of the hospital, they arrived at the same Rehab Center across the hall from one another. He called for her often and she hobbled across the hallway with her cane, disregarding any pain she may have felt, to go take care of a man who she’s known for 70 years. One night she heard a commotion in the hallway and stood up only to see him wheeled past her. The nurses told her, “It’s after midnight. Go back to bed.” My grandfather died that night.

When I went to visit her afterwards, she cried and said, “I wasn’t there with him.” I told her that wasn’t true. I said, “had you not fallen and injured yourself, you would have been at home, asleep, miles away when he passed. Because you’re here, you were right across the hall and you were with him everyday until the end.”

She seemed to feel a little better after that explanation. After her release from rehab, she stayed with my parents while the work started on her home. The construction company said it would only take a week or two. They ended up taking over a month. During that month my grandmother was doing very well until one night she took a turn for the worse. She threw up bile all night and the next day my mother called an ambulance. She spent the next two weeks in the hospital. For 7-8 of those days she didn’t eat anything and she dropped down to 87 pounds. Is was very hard seeing her that way and it’s not how I choose to remember her. Just like my grandfather without feet is not how I choose to remember him.

She never came back home after that visit in the hospital. She died there and in October we had a joint service for both of them at St. Joan of Arc Church.

The Aftermath, a Minimalism Nightmare

I had been through the loss of both of my dad’s parents but my mom’s parents lived two doors down the whole time I was growing up there. There were often visits after school for milk and cookies. And it was especially difficult that we lost them both so close together. So next became the difficult task of cleaning out their house. And this is where the minimalism kicks in.

Because they had a reverse mortgage on their home, they did not own the home and therefore we could not sell it. The home went back to the bank and the bank gave us one month to clear it out. For two people who never had friends over, they certainly had a lot of stuff. Perhaps it was because they grew up with the mentality of the Depression era where you held on to everything you had. They owned sets of China which hadn’t been used in years. Five different sets of silverware, closets filled with bed sheets and rarely worn clothes. They kept everything. Antique furniture became a point of contention as no one had room for it but no one wanted it to leave the family.

The money that my grandparents had saved for their children was spent on hospital bills and house repairs. We inherited stuff that had accumulated over decades. It was a grueling process to go through everything and know all of the memories attached to each item. However, I think it helped my mother realize what a burden her house would be on her children when my parents pass away.

Seeing the brighter side of minimalism

Like my grandparents’ house, my parents’ house is filled with decades of memories. Items such as old batons and dancing costumes set abandoned in a back room. The attic is overflowing with toys that my older brothers had as toddlers. A filing cabinet in my parents’ closet holds drawings from our elementary school years. Why do we hold onto these things? Happiness never lies in the past. To keep a favorite drawing is one thing but to keep all of them? We certainly didn’t want them.

I once cleaned out my parents’ closet. It was overflowing with clothing that was sometimes in my mother’s case, not age appropriate. Many of the items she hadn’t worn in years or had never worn at all by the evidence of the price tag still hanging from them.

Things to take away…

The point of this story is that holding onto things isn’t the answer. You’ll find that with most material objects, once they are gone, you won’t miss them. Holding on to stuff creates more grief for your loved ones once you pass from this world. I will admit, I took some small furniture and items from my grandparents’ house. Now, two years have passed and I’ve since turned around and re-donated all of those items except 6. What did I keep?

  1. My grandfather’s rocking chair/recliner. We got rid of our loveseat and replaced it with this recliner.
  2. A small glass which I often drank milk out of as a child when I would venture up after school for cookies and milk.
  3. An old, standing rotary phone. It still looks pretty damn cool and works if you have a land line. Will I keep it forever? It’s doubtful.
  4. An incense burner that used to sit on top of their piano. My two oldest brothers would often get to light a cone of incense as a treat if they were good when they visited as boys. I will keep this above all the other items. I cleaned it with vinegar.
  5. A mirror.
  6. A washer and dryer. I suppose that’s two items but they go hand in hand. Previously, we didn’t have one and were using quarters at the apartments local facility down the street.

Try not to get too caught up in the memory of objects. Even if you’ve been a minimalist for a while, it can be tempting. Don’t let your brother guilt you into taking several sets of glassware because “they look cool” or “should stay in the family.”

In hindsight, I ended up re-cluttering my home only to re-donate. Holding on to their things can hinder people from letting go of the grieving process. It’s easier to move on when you don’t have the past holding you down. It doesn’t matter if the memories are good or bad either. Now is the time to make new memories by living your life to the fullest today.

Let go.

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.