I’m Back – Still Finding My Way

I got a text message from my friend Heather back in ABQ yesterday, saying “Terri, we miss your blog!”  And I wrote her back saying I did too.  I have missed writing here.  So, I am back.  I’m not sure how often I will write in the future – I was writing twice a week at one point, maybe once a week is more realistic.  That will be my goal anyway.

As with all big changes in life, there has been a bit of an adjustment period, and it’s still ongoing now.  The drive from ABQ to southwest Florida took 4 days and 3 nights.  There is a limit as to how many hours I can drive in a day, and how many hours my cats could stay in their carriers before we would all collectively start to lose it.

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I have started numerous drafts over the past three months, always intending to finish them, but something else came up, or I just wasn’t “feeling” like the post was really “me.”  I need to stop always searching for the perfect words, or the perfect tone, and just put it out there.

It was freeing to move with only what I could fit into my car and the car-top carrier.  I miss Morgan though, a whole lot.  I know she is happy with my old roommate, and he sends me pictures of her.  She is getting along better with other dogs, and his new living situation includes another dog and they have become best friends.  I am glad to hear all that, and I know she wouldn’t be happy here in this small apartment, but still, I miss her and all of her goofiness.

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I see pictures that friends post of ABQ, and I remember how beautiful the surrounding areas were.  I see pictures friends have posted of Lake Powell and the awe-dropping, inspiring beauty of the expansive vistas in that part of Arizona and Utah. I miss those scenes but I think back and remember how when I was living there, I just didn’t feel completely like I belonged there.  So, I remind myself, I can always visit.

I have been busy doing lots of side transcription jobs, partly out of necessity.  It’s expensive to live in this part of Florida.  Just a few miles away from me, there is a Bentley dealership.  Right next to the Maserati dealership.  Yes, you heard me right.  A Maserati dealership.  On my way to work, I pass by the Porsche dealership.  There are lots of people in this town with LOTS of money.  Many are retired.

Food is more expensive here, for sure.  But some things are free, or close to free.  I have an annual pass to the state parks, and once I change my license and tags over to Florida, I will be able to get a free beach parking permit.  (Until then, I pay for the meters close to the beaches, but since the sun is so strong, I only go for a couple hours at a time anyway, and even then, I seek out shade whenever possible.)

 

My credit card balance has risen more than I would like it to have.  That’s another reason for the extra transcription jobs. At some times, I feel hopeless about getting them back to zero.  But I remind myself that they were before, I can do it again.  It will just take hard work and discipline.  But then there is that little voice in my brain that reminds me, I can’t live to work.  It’s better to just live, so sometimes on my days off, I push the work aside and go to the beach or just take time off to hold Snuggles in my lap and love on him, or do the same with my kitties.  Because I can’t control the future.  No one can, and I don’t want to spend every moment of every day working.  If something were to happen to me and today were to be my last, I don’t want my epitaph to say, “Well, she worked really hard.”

You may be wondering if I am going to continue school.  For this fall semester at least, no.  I need time to really adjust to my new life here, and I honestly don’t think I can stomach taking out more student loans.  I have read through the Public Service  Loan Forgiveness program and think I may actually qualify.  (I think I misread some of the details in the past.)  So, I’m in the process of filling out the paperwork and figuring out how to contact my past non-profit employers such as Harvard and Best Friends so I can determine how many payments I have made toward that 120 payment requirement since 2007.  (Payments made during times of forbearance or deferment don’t count.)  I believe my present employer also qualifies.  Pray for me that my federal loan nightmare will end soon!!!

I promise to not wait another three months before posting again, I really do.  And for those of you whose blogs I have subscribed to through email, I’ve been getting the updates and reading them.  Sorry for not commenting.  Just, some nights, I have been so exhausted when I get home, I fall asleep on the couch, wake up around midnight, take Snuggles out, and then crash into bed for the next few hours. (Oh and my couch was free, as was a lot of the stuff you see in my new apartment, thanks to some very generous folks.)

I  know it’s all a matter of balance.  I just have to continue looking for it. Thanks for your patience, if you’re still a faithful reader.  I do appreciate the support.

 

 

 

 

 

Moving to Florida!!

beach 1.jpgThat’s right, I’m moving again!!

My last day at work will be May 15th, and my plan is to start driving eastward on May 17th.  I am so excited to be near a large body of water again, you have no idea!

I won’t keep you in suspense — I am going to be working at a humane society in southern Florida, on the Gulf side, or as they call it there, the “West Coast.” I’m going to be providing animal care to the animals directly, which includes bunnies!! I am also going to be working in adoption, which I have really missed doing since my time with the Animal Rescue League of Boston when I volunteered in cat adoption.

No, I don’t have experience living through hurricanes, but I’ve seen my fair share of blizzards, and well, at least you don’t have to shovel rain. 🙂

Why move back east?  Well, I have now fulfilled a bucket list item of mine, which is to have lived in the west. I used to think I had to live on the west coast, California, to be exact.  That didn’t happen but I have  lived in the southwest now for just under three years.  The landscapes out here are amazing.  Such a feeling of openness.  I have met some AMAZING people everywhere I have lived in the past three years, people that I will always call my friends, and thanks to Facebook, I can keep up with them and what’s happening in their lives.

Living in the desert or very arid climates takes some getting used to.  I have found I really miss cloudy days and days of rain, because you appreciate the good weather days all the more.  I also really miss green.  It’s part of the reason why I have tried to go to the Bosque so often while living in ABQ.  The woods reminded me of back east. And of course, there was the Rio Grande, the only large body of water around.

School is finishing up over the next few weeks, and there is no shortage of transcribing work, so I’ve had some long days over the past few weeks.  While the new humane society is giving me a stipend to move, I won’t get it until I receive my first paycheck, so I’ve been trying to save as much as I can, and work as much as I can right now.  The animal hospital is quite busy (it’s parvo season in an area of the country where it doesn’t get cold enough for that nasty virus to freeze and die.)

Once again, I plan on moving with just my car and the car top carrier.  While you look online and see smart cars towing trailers, etc., they’re really not meant for that.  A Mazda2, technically speaking, could have a trailer put on it, but I don’t want to pay for a hitch and trailer and then have something happen to my car as a result.  While it is a stick shift, it’s a 4-cylinder car and you can tell when it’s loaded down with possessions or lots of people.    It slows down.  And nothing I own really has much monetary value.  My most important items I want to move with are my pets and the urns from my pets who have already gone to heaven.  And pictures of my grandmother.

Morgan is going to stay with my roommate, who she adores.  When he’s around, I cease to have so much importance in her life, and she follows him around like, well, a lovesick puppy.  It’s actually very sweet to see.  And he clearly loves her.   I know it’s for the best where she is concerned — he can give her so much more attention than I can.   And they are calming influences on each other, but still I’m going to really miss her.

So it will be me and the cats and Snuggles making the 4 to 5 day trip.   I suspect Snuggles will spend most of the trip on my lap as Osito did a few years ago.  (Now if only he didn’t weigh about four times as much as she did!)

I’m excited at the idea of living in the same state again as my best friend and her husband, my “movie theatre husband.” 🙂   In August, they are moving to the eastern side of Florida but will only be about 120 miles away from me.  An easy drive!

I’m excited to start fresh again.  To purge what I don’t need and move with only the essentials. I suspect all my sweaters will not be making the trip with me, as will many other items.

So, I will do my best to keep blogging over the next few weeks, but during the move, I suspect this blog will stay pretty quiet.  Driving by myself, I can only handle 400 miles a day or so.  Anything more, and I start to get very sleepy while driving and that’s not safe.  I’ve built in a cushion of time for me to arrive in Florida and get what little furniture I need from neighboring thrift stores.

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In case you are wondering, the photos above are from one of the beaches only a few miles from where I will be living.  On the day I was there, the water temperature was like bath water. 🙂

More updates to come! Until then, thanks, as always, for reading!

Quick update!

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Image from pixabay.com

Hi everyone!

I know it’s been a few weeks since I last posted.  It’s been a crazy three weeks, so I just wanted to take a minute to let you know I’m still alive, and yes, this blog still matters a lot to me.

I’ve been working full time at the animal hospital, as you know.  I’ve also been doing a lot of legal transcription work which is always good for the checking account balance.  School has taken some of my time as well.

Oh, and looking to move to another part of the country – that does take some time too!  So all I will say at this point is that I am going out of town for the next few days for, wait for it…. a job interview!!

It’s been hard to concentrate on much more than my excitement about this trip and this potential job.  If I get it, I will be in a place that is warm year round, lush with greenness all around me! But best of all, I will get to work with homeless animals.  I will get to care for them directly and work at getting them adopted!  I seriously can’t wait!!

It is definitely more expensive to live in this other location, so I’ve been busy looking online, trying to figure out what I could afford if they do like me enough to offer me the job.  An RV is not out of the question, so of course I’ve been researching that a ton.  A studio would be the least complicated way to go, but of course, there is the question of my pets.  It would be me, Snuggles, and the three cats.  Morgan is going to stay with my roommate because they are a match made in heaven and he can give her more attention than I can. Plus, she just simply ADORES him.

So stay with me folks, even though I have not posted much the past few weeks.  I promise, I have not forgotten about this blog.  In fact, I’ve been reading through some of my old posts and trying to figure out how to work with some of the underlying themes of those posts and kind of shape them into chapters for my memoir that I’m working on for my writing course.  🙂

And, wish me luck!!!!! I get a good feeling about these folks.  By the way, the photo above is my hint to you as to an area close to where I will be this week.

 

Indecision . . . questioning . . . what is the “most good?”

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Image from pixabay.com 

Hi everyone!!

In case you didn’t know, I was out of town for about 11 days, from March 1st to the 11th.  Went to Boston for my dad’s memorial on March 3, and then went to Florida for a conference and to spend some time there on my own.  Since returning home, I’ve been pretty busy!!

Florida:

I LOVED Florida!! I met a lot of really nice people (one guy even gave me a big piece of finger coral which I now have sitting on my desk to remind me of my time there.)  I visited two animal sanctuaries while I was there and individual  posts will be forthcoming about those.  One was Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary in Punta Gorda, Florida (Gulf Coast side), and the other was Journey’s End Animal Sanctuary in Deland, Florida (Atlantic Coast side).  I met friends in Sarasota who I first met online via Twitter so many years ago! They were super supportive to me during my going through a divorce, so it was so nice to finally meet them and give them big hugs, and meet their kids and their dogs.

Always value the friends you make online.  For me, I think I have made some lifelong friendships that way.

I also went to a humane education conference, which was enlightening for me.  Many of the traditional humane education positions include working at an animal shelter, and with groups of kids, running things like camps and birthday parties.  I think I’ve been pretty honest on here before about my wanting to work with kids, as in, not so much.  So I need to rethink what I want to do with my humane education part of my life, going forward.  There are so many ways to use a humane education background so I’m not worried that it won’t get put to good use.

Indecision:

Many of you know I took a HUGE pay cut when I left Harvard Law Library.  HUGE.  60K HUGE. In addition to taking that cut, I can no longer put as much into retirement (of course, I no longer will need as much since my priorities as to what I need to be comfortable have changed). I also get much less time off, and the health benefits through my current company are not great.

I’ve been struggling with the notion of discontinuing the formal schooling of humane education and trying to get positions just based on what I already know and my background of experiences.  I’ve been told by a few people that I don’t need to do anymore school.  So, most likely, this semester is my last.

No education is ever wasted.  I have learned so much during these past two semesters, especially regarding how I communicate about certain issues, and my word choices.   My teachers have asked us to respond to tough questions, and they are so supportive.  I wish I had had them earlier on in my life, because I think my career path would have taken a much different path.  But….you can’t change or shape the past, only your future, so onward and forward!!

You can’t change or shape the past, only your future, so onward and forward!

Determining “most good”

I’ve been struggling with the idea of how I can do the most good for animals.  Is it by working with them directly?  Or by working at a job that  pays more but might not be necessarily working with them in a hands-on manner, or with an organization specifically dedicated to improving the rights and lives of animals?  I know, only I can know the answer to these questions.

I have seen law library jobs posted (including one at my former employer, Harvard) which I know I am qualified for.  Obviously, they pay more than one that has me working directly with animals.  Working at a job like that again would help to engage the intellectual part of my brain during those hours when I am working for my paycheck and can make a positive impact on my bank account balance.  I could help to donate more  money to causes about which I care.  All of those details are positives.

I think you know when you are doing the “most good” when you are excited to do something every day.  A lot of people say that you don’t have to change the world for all animals, as long as you change the world of a few.  Well, I think I’ve done that for some, but I also don’t feel like I’m way near the completion of improving the lives of many, many animals.

Quandaries:

There is this difficult psychological hurdle to get over when considering returning to a former type of career.  While I know that all life experiences are learning opportunities, a small part of me thinks that by returning to such a life, I’m giving up on my dreams.  Admitting defeat.

The rational side of my brain knows that if I were to go back to being a librarian, I’m not giving up on my dreams.  I’m just making a trade-off.  I might be able to help a larger number of animals if I can donate more, financially, to the cause of animal welfare.  And I will still be able to volunteer on my days off.

But, will I be happy?  Read on, below. 🙂

Trusting my Intuition and Making Decisions:

I have spent some time talking to good friends and a trusted teacher.  She asked me a question that really helped me think.  She told me to imagine that I had interviewed for my old job, gotten it, and was getting ready to return to Boston.  How did I feel?

I hesitated for a bit.  My intuition knew the answer.  My brain just felt hesitant in saying it.  But once I said my answer aloud, it was like I was giving myself permission to say good bye to a portion of my life.  The answer was “I feel like I have a pit in my stomach.  That’s how it makes me feel.”

I also told my professor that as I see jobs listed for animal sanctuaries or shelters, I get excited about applying and the possibilities that are out there for me to explore.  And that tells me something about myself.  I just can’t go back to a job that I once held, without knowing I have exhausted all avenues of finding the right place for me, first. Does that make any sense?

The long and short of it is that I will never be  a rich person, not in the monetary sense.  And I think I have finally made peace with that.  I just spent the past 6 1/2 hours today volunteering at a spay and neuter clinic along with so many other people who had given up their free time to provide a much-needed service in New Mexico and so many other places. It felt amazing.

You know something else?  I didn’t feel like what I did today at the spay and neuter clinic was work.  The time flew.  To me, that’s how I know I was doing what I needed to be doing and what I am meant to be doing.

I didn’t want to leave but knew I had to, as I have homework and freelance work to do today, and maybe get a visit in at the gym or a run at the Bosque.  (I’ve begun work with another transcription company as a legal transcriptionist.  It’s a small company, which I like.  The CEO even called me last week to welcome me aboard as a contractor and in his words, to collaborate on projects.)  I like that when I am working on a new transcription project, I’m always learning about a new topic.

Looking forward:

I have an interview this week via Skype for a position I think I am well suited for, and for an organization that is rapidly growing, so I like the idea of the potential growth something like that can include.  I’m not one of those people who needs to feel like they are always moving upward in a job to feel like they are successful.  But I do like the idea of being able to contribute a lot.  So WISH ME LUCK!  (And if it doesn’t come through, then I know the right place and job is still out there, waiting.  The right place is out there.   I just have to have hope that we will find each other.)

And thanks for reading as always, and being patient these past few weeks since I last posted.  Now that I am back in ABQ, for now, anyway, I will try to get back on track with more regular posting.

Have you ever had to make a decision between taking the safe route or finding your way to a destination unknown? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Sharing, Being Awake, and Vegan Dog Food

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Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

When I interviewed for the Humane Education program, the director asked me how I would deal with coping with some of the information I would learn about.  How would I keep my spirits up when some of what I will read and see is the sort of thing that most people would turn their eyes away from, like the ASPCA commercial that has Sarah McLachlan’s song, “Angel” playing in the background?

To be honest, it’s been hard sometimes. Luckily, one of my coworkers went completely vegan at the beginning of the year so I have someone else to talk to about the whole factory farming thing and why we have both gone vegan. With her, I don’t have to hear “I’ll never be able to NOT eat meat,” or “Why don’t you eat dairy?  The cow has to give milk and it’s not like they’re killing her for the milk.” She “gets it” when I say that I don’t want to be part of causing any animal pain, and she doesn’t look at me like I’m nuts when I say that I’m considering feeding my dogs a vegan diet such as V-Dog.

It can be kind of depressing (or maybe disheartening is a better word) to see what is happening to so many animals every day and know you can’t stop all of it.  Add to that the quandaries you find yourself in, trying to figure out how to best spread the message about becoming vegan or vegetarian, or how our climate is changing every day, or why it’s better to adopt an animal or rescue one off of the streets instead of buying one from a breeder, thereby encouraging the use of puppy mills or the existence of backyard breeders.  Some days, you wish you could still be ignorant of a lot of the pain and suffering that animals go through for humans.  But deep down, you know it’s better to be awake and aware, than to not know what really goes on behind slaughterhouse walls.

So, you push through things and you watch or see images that hurt your heart.  But you do it because the animals need someone to be their witness.  Someone to be their mouthpiece.  I also tell myself that my brief suffering of watching the event is nothing compared to having actually gone through it.

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Image courtesy of pixabay.com

I’ve found that I have needed to spend some time out in the sun and a lot of time holding Snuggles close to me, especially when watching documentary films like The Witness or Earthlings.  I’ve also found writing in my journal to be so helpful in guiding me through the crazy maze of my thoughts.  Posting on here has been cathartic too.

I try to not beat myself up for having eaten animals and related products in the past, or for having worn wool and used products that involved animal testing. That was when I didn’t know better.  All I can do is help the animals now, going forward, both by my own actions and lifestyle choices and by writing posts like this one from January.  (In case you want to see more animal issues awareness posts of mine, look here.  And for other posts about my love for animals, look here.  Of course, there is some overlap.)  In case you are wondering, yes, I still have plans to make lots of updates to this website and making changes to incorporate suggestions that some of you generously offered in response to my post of last December when I requested input from you, my readers!

Last night, I came across a job board called VeganJobs.com.  You have no idea how excited that made me!  These past few weeks, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been spinning circles, trying to figure out how to earn a living wage while still working in an animal-related job.  Unless you are the executive director of a shelter or sanctuary, the jobs are usually very low-paying and as I have my student loans, I can’t afford to take a job at any less than what I am now.  It’s hard enough at my current salary level.

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Image courtesy of pixabay.com

It was on VeganJobs.com that I came across the website, Bite Size Vegan and her corresponding YouTube channel.  She has so many educational videos on her channel, and many can be shown to kids or young adults. I want to help spread the word about the incredible work she is doing so I am sharing it here.  Please go give her some love!

My last few posts have been longer than normal, so I’ll stop this one here today.  Today, I’m feeling more upbeat and hopeful about things.  I may not be chosen for the jobs I’ve  applied for but now I know there are jobs out there that I would love to do and for which I feel qualified.  There is light out there at the end of the tunnel.

As always, thank you for reading.  Please share if you know someone who you think can benefit from reading it.  And as always, comment if you have any thoughts!

 

 

On making decisions: learning, writing and living

Image from pixabay.com

I have definitely been decision-impaired at times in my life.  Paralysis by analysis is one term with which I have been intimately familiar.  I’ve also been known to research and research and research, thinking that if I have that one last strand of information, I can make a decision and feel confident about it. But I know what that is — it’s another form of procrastination, in disguise.  Because the thing is, sometimes you just have to make decisions in life and then go with it, dealing with the results or consequences as they may fall.

On Learning:

One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and I think I may have mentioned it in an earlier post, is to cease school after this semester.  I have loved the classes I have taken so far feel like I’ve learned a lot, and met some people with whom I’ve really connected, but it is a matter of $$$.   (I hate that money can have such an effect on our lives but feel it is inescapable sometimes.)

On Writing:

The courses I’ve taken over the past two semesters have taught me the value of language.  I am so much more cognizant of the words and tone I use now.  Through the animal protection classes, I have again experienced such physiological effects as I read through some assignments, that I know in my heart, I am meant to do something in my life where animals are concerned.

I also know in my heart that I am meant to use my writing skills for good.  I was born with them for some reason, and have realized I can really move people sometimes by the words I choose and subsequent images I create in their mind.  I’ve recently pictured myself traveling around to animal sanctuaries around the country, talking to their founders or workers in an effort to spread the word about their good deeds.

Having worked at an animal sanctuary for even only six months, I know how how much work it involves, and how exhausting it can be.  There is precious time available at the end of the day to self-promote or market or attempt to raise funds in order to continue doing such beneficial work.

Consequently, I’ve been thinking of ways to help those sanctuaries in a way that can be sustainable for myself, i.e., help to ultimately create an income. One thing I’ve mentioned in the past is grant writing and recently, conversations with my sister-in-law, Geneva (writer extraordinaire behind It’s Not a Slow Car, It’s a Fast House) have reminded me of that as an option.  In a way, grant writing is one form of marketing the positive qualities of an organization.

As with anything, every choice involves compromises. 

Grant proposals require the power of persuasion, writing and research skills.  One thing law school teaches you is how to construct an argument and to see situations from multiple angles, how to acknowledge your weaknesses but in the best, most positive light.  Being a reference librarian requires kick-ass research skills and a thirst for knowledge and learning.  Humane education also teaches you these similar skills but also provides you with a base of knowledge that law school and library work don’t encompass.

I’ve also thought of creating a directory of sorts for animal sanctuaries in the country as part of my dream of visiting and talking with many of them. (I need to see if something of the type already exists, and if so, what hasn’t been covered by such a resource.)

One reason why these ideas appeal to me is because they would allow me to spend more time with my animals.  It pains me to leave them every day that I have to go to work for 7-8 hours at a time.  They are my world!

On Living Choices:

Any occupation involving animals usually doesn’t pay well.  I’ve known this and have changed many of my habits and routines to accommodate this.   Moving forward, if I were to support myself with my writing, I would need to keep my living costs as low as possible.

My friend Dan has had conversations with me ad nauseum about what it’s like to live out of a small abode and with cats.  (Bless him, he’s still my friend!)  Geneva has also had many of those conversations with me.  I’ve gone back and forth between loving the small travel trailers like Scamps and Casitas, versus motorhomes such as a small Class C or a Class B like his Pleasureway or even a van that has been converted into a tiny mobile home.  I’ve also been considering what it would be like to buy something like a shuttle bus (14 passenger or so) and convert that into a mobile home.

I’ve decided that if I eventually turn nomadic in my living situation, a travel trailer won’t work.  Cats are creatures of routine and habit and really don’t like change.  To have to put them in carriers every time I go somewhere is not a great life for them. And if I am going to be a solo female traveling, a mobile living vehicle makes the most sense, both in terms of money as well as safety and convenience.  If a situation or location doesn’t feel right to me, being able to jump quickly into the driver’s seat will be important.  Having a space for the animals to call their own and have a cat tree of sorts will be necessary.

If I end up in a stationary setting for whatever occupation I ultimately find myself in, it will involve living tiny and simply.  Of that much, I am sure.   Until then, I find myself saving as much money as I can.

So what does this all mean and involve?

It means I will need to, again, embrace my fears and push through them.  It means I need to really focus myself on continuing to build skills and have the confidence in myself to start promoting them.  It means talking to a lot of people in Florida at the upcoming APHE Conference and finding out if my ideas are viable options to pursue. It means I need to put myself out there and quite possibly, face a lot of rejection.

But I also might find out a lot about myself in those processes and meet some really great people doing some highly valuable and beneficial work.

The saying, “Life is a journey” can be very overused, but in my case, it is certainly true.

Question for you, the reader:

thank you to those who have made it this far in my post!  Here is my question to you:

Do you know of animal organizations or sanctuaries that might benefit from having someone like me reach out to them and see if partnering up on a grant proposal or other form of marketing might be beneficial? 

A few readily spring to mind for me already but I am always interested in learning of others.

Thanks, as always, for reading. And remember, it’s good to share if you think someone can benefit from reading this post and/or connecting with me.