Chasing your dreams, even simple ones, can be difficult sometimes


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I just found out the other day via LinkedIn that a former coworker of mine just left Harvard Law to take a new position at another university, and from the sound of her title, it sounds pretty high up there.  I’m sure the salary corresponds to it well.  This person is a very smart cookie and knows how to negotiate.  (It was only after she got hired there several years ago that myself and another coworker were then given substantial raises in salary (ahem, readjustments.))

Why do I even mention this?  Because it made me feel kind of crappy.  I mean, I was happy for her.  She has always been a very hard worker and an excellent librarian.  She manages working full time with twins and has since had another baby.  And now she has this big-time sounding job. And here I am, scrimping to get by on just under $25K per year, not counting in my freelance work.  It made me question myself.

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Experiencing Compassion Fatigue and Feeling Burnt Out:

I think I have begun experiencing what they refer to as compassion fatigue.  Receiving multiple calls, day after day, from people who have just adopted a pet but can’t afford to take care of them, can really get to you.  Getting a call in which someone says “my pet just got hit by a car, but I don’t get paid until next week,” is really rough.  I’d love to say to them, “I can help you pay for that,” but the reality is that on $12.50/hour, it’s just not possible.  I have my own bills to take care of.

I’m taking a class in Animal Protection this semester.  I’m going to have some hard emotions to work through.  I already know that.  When I read about factory farmed animals, I experience physiological changes.  I feel it in my heart and in my throat.  I want to yell, scream, or hit something. (Not my pets, of course.  They actually help calm me down.)

The film Earthlings is assigned for us at one point.  (That link goes to the Wikipedia description of the film.)  The teacher has made it clear in the syllabus that we have the option to not watch it.  I haven’t yet figured out if I will or not.  I don’t want to have nightmares as a result, but in learning to be a humane educator, a part of me feels it’s necessary to bear witness to what is going on in this world so I can better advocate and educate humans for those who can’t speak.

Did I also mention that I have been trying to find extra side work with a few transcribing companies?  I have, and going through the assessment process can be somewhat stressful.  But the good news is, this morning I found out from one that they would like to work with me.

Stressing about finding a job in my field or determining what that field is:

In addition to feeling a bit burn out, I’ve been starting to feel a bit down about finding a job that really makes me feel like I’m making a difference and having the funds to make a move sooner rather than later.  (I’d like it to be in the next year or two.)  I spent some time talking/texting with my friend Dan, and applied to be a member of the APHE (Association of Professional Humane Educators) so that I could start networking with others in the field.  My application is currently pending.

They (the APHE) are hosting a conference this March in Orlando, Florida so I’m considering going, but it would be a substantial financial investment for someone at my income level.  And while I like meeting people, and can be extroverted at times, I hate the idea of schmoozing.  I’m just not a schmoozer.  Makes me nauseous when I see others doing it, and my past experiences at conferences showed me that a lot of that goes on.  I hope this field is different, though. So I will let you know if I decide to go.

All of these reasons are why I haven’t posted in about a week.  I just didn’t feel I had anything positive to say, and you know what they say – if you don’t have anything good to say, best to say nothing at all.  It could be the cold weather we have here in ABQ, or the fact that it’s winter, or the fact that payday is still two days away, but I’ve been feeling a bit down.  I’m working through it the best I can.  And trying to get enough sleep.  But nothing is a miracle cure.

Change in my personal life:

Oh, and I broke up with the Canadian boyfriend a few weeks ago.  I’m sure that having that in the background of my mind doesn’t help.  We still talk occasionally.   I know it’s for the better but I think subconsciously, it brings back some feelings I experienced when I left my marriage.  That fear of being alone for the rest of your life and wondering if there’s something wrong with you.  However, truth is, I think I’m not in the right head space or life space to be in a relationship right now.  Not when I’m trying to figure out a lot of things.

I hope you are all doing well, despite the cold and heavy snowfall a lot of the country has been experiencing lately.  Please drop me a line and let me know how things are going for you, or if you’ve felt down at times, and what you’ve done to pull yourself out of it.  Or share this post with someone you think would appreciate or benefit from it.  And as always, thanks for reading.


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12 thoughts on “Chasing your dreams, even simple ones, can be difficult sometimes

  • Hi Terri!

    Long time, no talk but I do try to keep up with your blog, as I’m always interested to hear how you’re doing! One of the things that often strikes me is that we both sort of made a choice to switch to working with/for animals, but our paths have gone very differently. Even with a steady job, a husband, and no major money woes I’ve struggled through some compassion fatigue and the ovewhelming nature of trying to save animals that you have limited control over. So I can only imagine that on your end that feeling is magnified. I don’t necessarily have any answers for you, but you definitely need to put yourself first. If you aren’t thriving, it makes it a million times harder to help animals thrive. Your mental health matters 100000%. So focus on what your strengths are and what you have the power to change. You can write, you can research. You’re brilliantly creative. Maybe you can start by working on some educational materials for the vet clinic you work at that might help pet owners become better pet owners. Maybe you can organize a pet food drive in your community and get a local business to sponser the cost of flyers, etc. I know you have limited time with all that you’re doing already, so whatever you do, only pick one thing at a time. Smaller projects that have a more immediate impact can be a huge confidence booster and get the problem-solving juices flowing. Anyway, that’s just my two cents 🙂 Wishing you all the best!! ❤

    • Liz, I was thinking about you the other day, how funny!

      Thank you – I know you also know what it’s like to be in that area of compassion fatigue. And yes, our lives have definitely gone in different directions. I wish mine would have been as solid as yours over the past few years. But i think I’m finally finding my way through the Humane Education degree I’m pursuing. It’s funny because that class wakes you up to even more than what you knew about before in terms of animal protection, climate change, human rights etc. And once your eyes are opened even more, it’s very hard to not start feeling overwhelmed. In fact, the director of the program, who is also my advisor, asked me about how i would handle such a situation when it would inevitably happen. Now I see what it really feels like.

      I have never been called brilliantly creative before, so thank you. Guess I need to start believing in myself the way others do.

      You’re right, focus on small projects. And try to not be like “Squirrel!!!”

  • The feeling down at times and how do I pull out of it? I’ve learned to keep my head down and just keep moving forward. There are so many distractions, which is just how life is, but allowing myself to get pulled into the negativity of others, and even sometimes the world, does no good and only holds me back and down. I’m sorry to read you’re going through such a challenging time. I hope the new year gives you more financial stability and freedom. Keeping pushing. I’m rooting for you!

    • Stacie, thank you so much for commenting and letting me know I’m not alone. I mean, I know I’m not, but it can feel that way at times. What I’ve been trying to do these last few days to not feel overwhelmed is just plan what I can get done in the next few hours or so, before or after my full time job. I’m trying to ignore what is going on in Trump Land, other than what I see with some of the late night talk hosts because at least they make me laugh.

      And God yes, I hope this new year gives me more financial stability!! And freedom!! Thank you!!

  • A lot is happening in your life right now and I feel you are taking the steps needed to find your true path. I have a few people I went to school with who are making crazy amounts of money. They are lawyers and are partners in their firms. I think they work hard, but you always have in the back of you r mind why not me? I have learned that I cannot focus on that. I have to make my life the best it can be and set my own goals. Taking care of yourself is the number one priority.

    It does not help that winter is here. We all need a little sunshine. Hang in there. I truly feel you are going to change the world.

    • Eddie, it really doesn’t help, the winter time. That’s why I am considering moving to Florida or someplace where it’s always warm. When it’s January and you’re outside in shorts or with just a fleece jacket, it’s hard to feel as down as if you’re stuck inside your house, listening to the wind blow with wind chills below zero!

      I do have friends who are still lawyers, all this time after law school. I think some of them genuinely like the work that they do. But no, it’s not the most amazing job ever. And I do know before I left Harvard, the colleague I mentioned in my last post, was quite miserable on many days. Thanks for reminding me to not compare myself to others. And your last comment about changing the world brought tears to my eyes. Because that is my goal in this life and what drives me onward these days.

  • Hi Terri,
    It has been a long time since we have visited, and I am so happy that you are still “fighting the good fights” when it comes to saving animals and pursuing your dreams. We all question ourselves and the decisions we have made at times, especially when we compare ourselves with others. Looking through the “window” at others’ lives, they can seem so perfect, spot on. However, the cool thing to me is that the lives we are leading are founded on decisions that we have consciously made. That aspect, to me, is wonderful beyond compare. We know we can have all those material things if we so desire. We choose to live our lives differently and with a passion that without, would leave us empty inside. You are making a difference in this world. If you haven’t watched, No Arms, No Legs, No Problem and Gary Yourofsky’s, The Best Speech Ever, on YouTube, please check them out. The first will have you smiling, crying, and being grateful for all we have been blessed with, and Gary makes the best argument for choosing to be vegan. Nobody can argue against his valid reasoning unless brainwashed or insentient. Your writing inspires me and makes me think. My highest regards to you and your efforts. Take care.

    • David!! I am so glad to hear from you again. I have been wondering if you were still reading my blog, and am so glad you are back! I haven’t seen those videos, so I’m going to be sure to watch them this weekend along with the “film festival” I am already watching for my Animal Protection class.

      I am glad I can still inspire you. And thanks for saying I’m making a difference, because many days, it doesn’t feel that way. 🙂

  • Good evening Terri. Hope you are feeling better😃. I can relate to being down in spirit. But my mom used to remind me, that we are never in any situation by ourselves, that others have been there and survived. In fact it made them stronger! And that I just needed to step back, and reflect on all my accomplisments…..and Just hang in there and take it one day at a time!💓💓💓Better days are ahead💓💓💓 Love you💓💓💓

    • Carmen, I’m so sorry to not have responded to you sooner! Your mom sounds like a very wise woman. Someone like my grandma, who I really wish was still here to talk to and ask for advice, and just plain, love. I’m trying to take it one day at a time so I don’t get too overwhelmed and stressed. I am so glad to have people like you in my life. You hold me up when I feel like I’m falling, or am about to fall. Thank you.

  • Hi Terri ~
    I don’t know how I didn’t see this post in my Reader. I love the opening ‘media’ photo!!!
    I sympathize with your emotional fatigue – especially when it is due to animals; they are so helpless and deserving of better caretakers than ignorant humans. I honestly don’t know how you do it ~ you are to be commended to the Moon for what you are doing.
    Sorry to hear about the BF (I didn’t know you had one) but I have to agree with your thought that it’s not the time for it – what little I know about you, you are busy and focused.
    Take care of yourself ~ you have a lot of support here I see.

    • No worries, Karyn! Glad you like the photo – I get most of mine through And yeah, the emotional fatigue can really get to you sometimes. Thank you for saying you’re glad I do it – sometimes I wonder how much longer I can. but then I think to myself, the animals need us and our help. And about the bf, thanks. Definitely the right choice for me to have made.

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