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My dog and I met with an animal psychic.

So today I met with an animal communicator named Lilly Ludwig of Animal Intuitive. Basically, she’s an animal psychic medium. So not only is she able to communicate with living animals, but also those who have passed on (as well as humans).

I booked a short 30-minute session with her so I could connect with my pup Odie and get some insight into some of the random pains he’s been having lately. Before you go there- I have already consulted his vet, multiple times, and even paid for an expensive x-ray that showed nothing but a little constipation. Lilly is not a replacement for a vet or a diagnosis, and also this wasn’t the sole purpose of our meeting either. I also wanted to know how he’s been coping with the move back to Sacramento, as well as the recent breakup between me and his pup daddy.

As for his pain, she was able to ascertain that he’s experiencing daily bloating and gas and that he suspects, yes HE suspects that it might be something like IBS. He also told us that beef does not agree with his tummy and he absolutely hates vegetables. Good to know, pup, noted.

As for the breakup, I won’t go into many details as to respect my ex’s privacy, but she did say that my pup was happy that things are settled between us and that he wants to help me process everything. So sweet. It also explains why when I was down the other day he spent all day by my side despite being bored as hell (he’s still got that puppy energy).

Lilly also mentioned that Odie is still processing a lot of his own trauma from being a rescue dog (she picked up on that I never mentioned a word about it before) and that he just needed a lot of words of affirmation that he’s ok and safe now. She also mentioned how he wants me to do the same for myself. (Ok universe, I am listening ok!) I asked how I can better support him during his healing and she advised me to just hold space for both of us to process our traumas and reassure him he’s ok and not invalidate his feelings. He also wants me to work on being more alpha in our relationship by modeling the behaviors I want to see out of him – less reactive. My sweet sensitive pup is so insightful.

He also expressed how much he likes when I talk to him and to try to make more of an effort to do that. She also recommended that we unplug for a few minutes a day and just spend time with each other kind of like meditating to allow emotions and feelings to transfer through.

Overall I really enjoyed the experience, I felt like it was a really accurate reading of our relationship and bond as dog and caregiver. Lilly’s insights were really authentic and not at all gimmicky (for those skeptics). I would highly recommend booking a session with her if there’s a pet you want to connect with, living or otherwise. I’m really looking forward to bonding better with my pup by providing him with what he needs emotionally and checking back in with her later on to see how that makes him feel.

So what do you think? Would you pay someone to speak to your pet or a passed pet?
Let me know in the comments below!

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To hell and back in a year

Where do I even begin? Like most, 2020 has been a doozy. 2019 really kicked it off for me though, so we’ll start there.

In the later half of 2019 we uprooted and moved to East Oakland so I could be closer to my new job in SF. The apartment was fantastic, but the neighborhood was rough as expected, our cars were broken into, people shot in the street in front of us, the whole stereotypical East Oakland experience. Then around thanksgiving my boyfriends mom died suddenly, and I was laid off by my job (with severance thankfully). New Years Eve 2019-2020 I found myself wishing that 2020 would bring in a new year for my personal growth.

Be careful what you wish for.

By the end of Feb I finally was hired on at a new exciting startup changing the lives of many. Finally, a company with a soul and a clean purpose. Two weeks into enjoying a reason to put on pants and makeup again the pandemic hit and the first major lockdown happened. I was working from home suddenly so I did what every normal millennial does and stocked up on office supplies and a printer for the first time in years.

2 more weeks into that and I get the devastating news that in order to preserve our startup runway funding, we’re all taking pay cuts instead of being laid off. My pay was reduced by 75% and I no longer could afford living in the bay area. So we started making plans to move back to Sacramento with my family until we could get financially stable again. $3600 later and less a couch, we were back in Sacramento squeezing our king sized bed, two humans, and a dog into my parent’s spare bedroom.

To say this felt like a low point would be an understatement. But don’t worry it gets lower. After months, possibly years of deliberation, my bf and I called it quits on our relationship of 4 years. Initially it was mutual and amicable, but as these things go on hurt is uncovered. I’m not sure if we’ll ever be friends again which is unfortunate but I understand the hurt and the why.

So here I am again, single dog mom at 35 living at home with my parents while I am saving to buy my first home because the idea of paying $3600 ever again to a landlord is absurd.

I can’t leave you like this though. There is a huge upside to all of this. Moving back home changed something in me, maybe the pressure of being here without privacy 247 or the pressure of the pandemic which is affecting us all. I discovered a new side to myself. I have spent the last 6 months undergoing the most intense spiritual awakening of my life and for that, I am so grateful for. More on that later.

Also, I’m happy to report my salary has stabilized a bit and I’ve been saving money like crazy for a down payment on a house.

So there you have it. A quick recap on the fuckery that has been my last 12 months. I have no expectations for 2021 at this point.

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challenge yourself

I’m not normally a competitive person, but for some reason I seem to thrive when pressured or challenged. I like to rise to the occasion I guess. Some of my best work in my personal, school, or professional life has been accomplished when I’ve been challenged. Yes, some of it has been out of spite, but if I turned that spite into a positive result, whats the difference really?

it all started with a personal manifesto...tying those loose ends into beautiful bows...

Anyway. This last year I got into the habit of challenging myself to try out new things, including new ways of thinking. Most of the positive changes I’ve made in my life this past year have all started out as experiments/challenges just to see if it worked for me. I feel like I’m kind of on a roll here folks, I’m starting to compile a list of the things I’ve accomplished through the power of challenging myself to do something new.

1. Positivity. I’m a natural pessimist (pessimists call this realism, but lets be honest the REAL and practical choice is to choose optimism) but for a few months I went hardcore on the optimist bandwagon and it totally made a difference. You know how they say that if you smile all the time eventually you will be in a good mood? Well those happy jerks were totally right. Damn. Not only did I smile, but I made it a point to laugh and make sure to put my own bad situations into perspective. There is always someone worse off than me, I should really be grateful that its not worse for me. In fact that’s one thing I’ve put into my personal manifesto I wrote for myself last year (more on that later). This positive out, positive in approach I took to previously negative things (like myself and work) have totally paid off, everyone at work who was previously scared/intimidated by me are now coming up to me and asking what I’ve been doing differently because I seem happier than before. My manager has even commented on it and shes usually the one that’s most critical of me. If those aren’t results, I don’t know what are. Yes I have days or stretches of days where I’m stuck focusing on the negative of everything, but usually its nothing a good nap, cry, or reality check can’t fix. Usually at those times I remind myself of what I have to be grateful for and how far I’ve come.

its amazing the confidence you can gain when you attempt something and achieve it, or even take a closer step to getting there

2. Fake it til you make it. So I wouldn’t say I ‘made it’ but it definitely took me farther than if I hadn’t tried this mentality on. It was all about confidence, in myself, in my abilities. It forced me to get out and try new things in new scenes which previously made me 200% uncomfortable- to the point that I would back out of certain social situations because I felt like I wouldn’t fit in. It forced me to go on dates with people I never would have never attracted in the first place had I not acted confidently. It pushed me to pursue my art hobbies, which although I haven’t gone far- I’ve gone way farther than I ever have before. The confidence thing is scary, it totally works, and its kind of funny how easily men are manipulated by it by the way (ladies take note confidence IS SEXY AS HELL).

unhealthy lazy valerie would have never agreed to go up a 10k mountain just to see whats up there, new valerie couldnt wait to go...

3. Trying out the whole ‘healthy diet & exercise’ thing to see if it really does work. As a cheeseburger, burrito and carb-aholic, this one took me the longest to attempt. Like many things I’ve always said I’d do it and stick to it but I’d drop out after the first couple days of soreness and then forget all about healthy eating until it was time to go jeans or bathing suit shopping. WELL, I’m 4ish weeks into this new lifestyle and 2 inches slimmer, I’d say its working so far. I told myself I’d try out this Ripped in 30 and if I saw results, I’d keep it up and exercise normally- like I probably should but never did cause I was lazy. Well now it looks like this is gonna become part of my lifestyle because to be brutally honest, although working out sucks and hurts sometimes, I don’t like NOT working out regularly, it makes me feel good about myself, and it makes me feel good to know that I’m keeping myself healthy so when I’m older I’ll look younger than I should. Yes, I’m that vain.

So I would like to challenge you all out there.

If there is something in your life you have been meaning to change/work on/do…do it. Challenge yourself to try it out, see if it works for you. I pretty much guarantee that if you put as much effort into that positive change in your life as you do the negative habits holding you back, you will see a positive outcome. You get out of it what you put in.

So please, give it a try, call it a social experiment, whatever.

Do it.

Be the person you want to be, no one can stop you except yourself.

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Summer 2011 Wine&Cheese Night

my wonderful wine vases!

So last weekend I held my 3rd Wine & Cheese party here in my tiny little studio. Really, its just an excuse to bring all my friends out and snack on food while getting our wine on. I feel like with every party they get better, this time I feel like I really outdid myself, I’m pretty proud!

rocked my late grandma's accessories with my LBD for good hostess luck!

Prepare for bragging/virgo moment. This time instead of trying to cram everything on my kitchen table I actually invested in (totally not ecofriendly) paper plates and re-purposed some empty old wine bottles I have saved (cause they were super special/delicious wines) into vases and lined my windowsill. I also managed to expand my seating area by rearranging my apartment (again), and borrowing an ottoman and drink/food tray from my momma, and voila an extra seat plus somewhere to set your drink while you sit on the bed! I even classed it up a notch and borrowed some crystal serve ware from mom of course.

Usually I buy a veggie tray but instead I made my own this time and replaced the usual celery that they come with, with some sliced up cucumbers and hummus instead of ranch. It was pretty tasty. My friend/neighbor even brought us some chocolate covered strawberries, talk about yum.

Our cheese selections for the night ended up being an herb & garlic goat cheese (think spreadable deliciousness), low moisture mozzarella rolled with basil and prosciutto, garlic jack (from my personal favorite brand Sonoma Jack),  and some fresh cheese from Tomales Bay, I can’t remember what kind of cheese it was but it reminded me of fresh goat cheese which tastes lighter and fresher than mozzarella.

Anyway, earlier that day I was texting a friend about what kind of wine to bring and he jokingly said “wouldn’t that be funny if everyone showed up with the same wine?” and lo and behold, EVERYONE except like two brought cabernet, and the exceptions were still red wines. Who am I to complain though, I love wine. We started off with a bottle of the crisp Polka Dot Riesling (my new go-to ries since Barefoot discontinued my favorite), which ended up being the only white wine we had that night, and then started into our cabernets. Our official lineup went like this…lets see if I can remember the order we drank them!

  1. 2008 Polka Dot Crisp Riesling [if you like crisp, dry, and sweet this is the wine for you, this is my new go-to alternative to the old version of Barefoot Riesling]
  2. 2009 Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon [everything gladiator is delicious, and this is just another wine they do well]
  3. 2009 GEN5 Cabernet Sauvignon [a little acidic, a little sweet and delicious, made by 5 generations of the same family]
  4. 2008 Honeywell & Todd Cabernet Sauvignon [I can’t remember anything that stood out about this brand besides it going down way too easily lol]
  5. 2009 REDS Red Wine a blend of zin, carignane, petit sirah [by this bottle I was pretty drunk but I do remember that it reminded me of the delicious house red that Hot Italian uses- yum, plus I love zins]
  6. 2008 Noceto Sangiovese [I’ve never tasted Sangiovese before but this was really tasty, smooth, and medium bodied]
  7. 2007 Louis M Martini Cabernet Sauvignon [I saved this one for last, I had drank an aged bottle of their 97 zin and fell in love with their wine but since then they have stopped producing zin so I was hoping for another delicious wine and it lived up, really smooth, and I’m betting that it would age well like the zin I had before]

To my knowledge all the bottles we drank were under 20 bucks, almost all were under 15 for sure. I like to drink my wine on a budget since I am practically a poor person lol. I definitely recommend all these wines we had at the party for a party of your own, you won’t be disappointed.

Yes, that is a sippy cup. She's a spiller!

My blurry & wonderful friends. (not pictured: Liz)

And on a photo-related note, after going through the pictures from that night, I realized how badly I need a digital camera that isn’t a crappy point and shoot. My pictures of my friends came out blurry!!! Grr, stupid autofocus and flash. I think a DSLR upgrade is in my future, yes. I really just said that. Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. I, Valerie Figueroa, admit that I want a DSLR camera, but I also never plan on giving up my film habit.  :)

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inspiration comes from within

I have this board that I’ve had for a while now, some number of years, I’ve gradually added to it. It started out as something to remind me of who I am (I don’t know why I thought I needed reminding, my personality is pretty strong lol) but has quickly turned into a board of things past, good and bad, but the past none the less. I recently rediscovered this beautiful journal I used to keep, with a polaroid and a journal entry, but all its filled with is stories of my pain and how I’ve tried to overcome it. The truth is I never got over any of the pain written down in there until way after, until I stopped writing about it.

first thing you see in the journal, my favorite spot at Loon Lake

Looking back now I cant imagine why I’d ever want to write it down, to memorialize all the heartache I’ve endured over my short 25 years. I already lived it, why write it down? Its not like I’ll ever forget what I lived through, its ingrained in my memory forever and so are the lessons I’ve learned.

written when I thought I had hit rock bottom, oh boy was I wrong! lol

Lately I’ve really been struggling to go the next step in my life. I have a general idea of where I want to go but I’ve been stuck in the same place for a couple months now, and I don’t like it. Sure I’ve taken baby steps and have been trying new things, but its not enough for me. I need to think bigger, dream bigger. I want to redirect my old journals filled with horrible times in my life I went through and fill those pages with everything I want to do, my hopes, my dreams, and my plans to help get me to them. I want to look into the future, not reflect on the past. I think that’s whats been holding me back for so long, honestly.

The board has got to go. I used to think it was an inspiration board but its the exact opposite. I want to fill it with the things I want to accomplish, motivational things to help me keep at it. Tonight (last night by the time you read this) I started on the board, taking things down and sorting them into 2 piles: Trash the Past and Inspiration.

this is known as back to square one

Now that I’m starting out with a pretty much blank slate, I have to ask myself, what now? Where do I go from here? And how am I going to get there? We shall see. All I know for sure is today, I’m leaving the past where it is and not looking back anymore, its only holding me back.

time to fill the pages of my life with happiness