All I want (Read: Inner Conflict)


It hit me tonight.  I want two diametrically opposed things out of life.  I want to live a very simple life, just me and my animals in our one-room house, with a small garden and a body of water located not too far away.  Oh, and warm weather all year round.

But I also want to go out of this world having left it in a better place than it was when I first entered it, way back in the ’70s.  Specifically, where animals are concerned, I want to make it better.

I took the dogs for a walk yesterday in the Bosque and asked the two of them that very question.  I said, “Guys, how can I make the world a better place for you, and for all the animals?  Just tell me how.”

If Snuggles or Morgan knew the answer to my question, they weren’t going to provide it.  They were too busy enjoying themselves.  Smelling all the smells on the path, leaving some smells of their own, getting tangled up in their leashes.  You know, the usual.  (Lazy Bums, the one time I ask them for something in return for all the food I feed them….geesh!) (j/k)

While a part of me hungers for stability where finances are concerned, I’ve been thinking of what it would like to be able to support myself through a combination of transcribing, proofreading or copy editing, and writing.  Would I then able to help animals more?  Or does it make more sense to try to get a job working with a sanctuary or other animal-related organization somewhere?  (Note, I’m looking a few years ahead into the future.)

When I get thinking like this, I get frustrated.  I can’t come up with an answer that feels right.  I feel adrift.  It ramps up my anxiety.  I need to be able to focus on just one thing at a time.  I need to feel control.  Or rather, in control.

That’s when I usually sit there and try to figure out my financial situation, depressing as it may be.  I try to start with the positives:  my retirement fund and itty-bitty savings:

Retirement:  $209,230
+  Regular Savings: $2141
Grand total:  $211,371

And then, of course, there are the liabilities.  (Luckily, my savings as noted above is larger than the liabilities.)  I just received my student loan refund check today and I decided to wipe out my credit card debt with it.  Six percent interest vs. 18 percent interest, that’s why I made that move.  And the credit cards are in the freezer.

I plan to pay off my overdraft on my checking account and then call them and have them deactivate it.  The credit line is only for $500 but it’s $500 I don’t want to have hanging over my head, at 11%.  No more revolving line of credit for me after the overdraft is taken care of.

I think that the second student loan refund from yesterday is what is stressing me out at the moment.  The idea that I am taking on even more debt.  I know, I know, many of you commented on this last summer when I considered going for the degree in humane education.  And believe me, I was aware of the numbers.  And I am now as well.  I wonder to myself, should I continue on past this semester?  I finally feel like I’ve met some members of my tribe, but at what financial cost?

My friend Dan says that instead of concentrating on changing the world, I should concentrate on changing my neighborhood.  That’s his way of being like my grandma when she used to counsel and calm me — trying to get me to not think of everything all at one time.

I think what he is saying is I need to remember the ripple effect.  When you make one small change, that has an effect on other things, and they in turn, have an effect on other things, and before long, the total effect is huge.

I need to work on one thing at a time.  Work through my day one hour at a time, much like I did when I was recovering from my divorce.

But what I really need to do is figure out what is my gift to this world.

If you’re wondering what I mean by “my gift,” you might want to watch this video below, by Sustainable Human.  He starts talking about your gift, or life energy around the halfway point.


Simply put, I NEED to figure out why I’m here on this earth.  And how to give it back.  Until then, I don’t think I will always feel comfortable in my own skin.

What do you think is your gift to this world?  Please share your comments in the thoughts below.   And if you’ve liked anything about this post, please share it with someone else.

As always, thanks for reading.





20 thoughts on “All I want (Read: Inner Conflict)

  • Another interesting and honest post! I have a few thoughts about what you wrote.

    -I don’t think living simply and changing the world are diametrically opposed AT ALL.
    -Your friend Dan is right. Starting with your own neighborhood is probably the only way to change the world!
    -I believe in the value of education, but I really don’t believe in borrowing for it. Perhaps if you are trying to get your first degree, but even then, there are community colleges.
    -Don’t you have a law degree? Perhaps there is an animal welfare organization that could use a good legal mind?

    As for finding your purpose, I don’t think that one is ever easy. I suppose there are some rare individuals that know exactly why they were put on this earth, but I’m not one of them. 🙂 I am a believer in Jesus, so that gives me peace. That’s not to say I feel at peace all of the time, in fact, quite the opposite. It is a grounding though. It helps remind me that I was put on this earth for a purpose, even if I’m not sure what it is. I think knowing and caring that you were put here for a reason beyond yourself is what matters.

    You have a lot of energy and passion, which is awesome. I’m not sure you need another degree at this point. It seems like you might be better putting that energy into helping animals right now and then putting any extra money you would have spent on tuition/books into your savings. Plus, then you are not taking on any more debt.

    I hesitated even writing these comments, because I don’t know you and you don’t know me, so who cares what I have to say?! 🙂 But for some reason, after reading your post, I couldn’t just ignore it. So there it is.

    • Most of us will never even ask ourselves these things. I am not smart enough to give anyone advice but remember to also try to be kind to YOURSELF!

    • Michelle, never hesitate to leave your comments and share your thoughts. That’s one of my favorite parts of this blog, hearing from others. Because sometimes you can go a little too far “into your own head,” you know what I mean? That’s why I always try to bounce things off of my friend Dan, because he doesn’t always tell me what I want to hear.

      And no, I don’t need another degree. Got the bachelor’s in English, the master’s in library science and the law degree. Yes, I would love to help out an org with some of my legal skills, but not as a lawyer. I’m more the researcher and writer type of lawyer than the litigator and one who loves to argue.

      And I have missed helping animals like I used to at the shelter back in Boston. I wasn’t getting paid to do it, but I definitely felt like I was making a difference when I would help one get adopted.

      And I’m glad to know I’m not the only one still questioning why I’m here on this planet. I’m not particularly religious, more spiritual, but I respect you for finding your faith and how it helps ground you.

      Thank you so much for all of your comments, Michelle. Greatly appreciate all of them.

  • Hi Terri,

    I think you and I are spirit twins 😉

    I filled in the email thingy at the bottom of your post (near the Tumbler, FB, etc stuff)

    Feel free to email me if you’d like a ‘conversation’ that isn’t all over your comments page.

    • nope…that was to send your post to another email address. well, i’m not savvy enough to know how to exchange email information without it being public…do you?

      • I will figure it out for us! (I think when I comment on your blog, that gives you my chasing simple dreams email address, doesn’t it?)

  • I understand how you feel. Because I’m not an extrovert who loves to be in front of groups and do things like public speaking I’ve realized my overall impact in the world will be small (if any). However I do have pets that I’ve “saved” and some I’ve “adopted” at The Wild Animal Sanctuary here in Colorado to help regularly support such a great organization. In the end I keep telling myself (as The Wild Animal Sanctuary says regularly) “Saving one animal may not change the world. . . . But surely, for that one animal. . . . The world will change forever”. Even though you don’t feel you’re doing “enough” and that it’s not on a grand enough scale, your “herd” would probably disagree. Don’t sell yourself short, you ARE helping animals. Hugs!

    • Hi Vickie,

      Very good point about changing the world of one animal (and I guess in my case now, five!) And Vickie, you don’t need to be an extrovert to make a difference. You can also do it with your writing! That’s very cool you adopted some pets at the sanctuary. Which ones? 🙂

      And thank you for the hug!!

      • Hi Terri! Over the years I have adopted Hondo and Jessica – at different times, both wolves who have now sadly passed over the Rainbow Bridge. Right now I adopt Tiny – a grizzly bear, Rocky – a kit fox, and Joker – an arctic fox. If I had more money to send their way each month I’d adopt a lot more!

      • Vickie, I understand the wanting to do more! But that is super cool you were and are able to help with those animals the way you do.

  • Hi Terri,

    Great video! I am also one who wants my security, and have spent 27 years working in a career that didn’t nourish my soul. I thought it would, but when it didn’t I continued because I needed the financial security it provided. I was planning on spending 30 years, but have decided to “throw in the towel” this May. I, too, am asking myself the very questions you are asking. What are my gifts and how can I make a positive difference. I like your friend Dan’s advice. I will continue following your journey, as it is always interesting and helps me answer some of life’s important questions. Thanks!

    P.S. I know that one of your gifts is writing.

    • Oh wow, David, you’ve decided to retire?! Well, congratulations! I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one asking these questions, makes me feel better! And I’m glad you’re back and reading again, I really appreciate the support from a kindred spirit like you. Btw, I need to watch The Witness soon for one of my classes, and I’m a bit nervous. I remember how you described it.

      P.S. Thank you – you made my day with your comment about my writing.

      • Terri,
        I want you to know that I will be sending positive vibes to you while you watch The Witness. That doc. impacted me more than I am able to put into words. I wish everyone had to watch it. Lives, animal and human animal, would be changed. Take care.

      • Thank you. I remember your email after you saw it. That’s why I have been terrified to watch it. But then again, I was terrified to watch Earthlings but felt it was my duty to watch it. A friend of mine who is vegan said that as awful as it is for her to watch it, it’s nothing compared to the animals who were forced to suffer the actual harms. That really puts it into perspective.

  • This was a deep post that I am not sure I have an answer to. I work in a field that allows me to help others realize their dreams. Being an academic advisor/career counselor has been rewarding. It seems like everyday I am helping students stay on track.

    That is really as far as I go when it comes to helping others. I feel like the job allows me to make a difference and the rest of the time is devoted to my wife and son. If you are continuously trying to change the world you might forget to take care of yourself. My boss is always trying to help others. She is a great lady, but is stressed out all the time because of it. I just do not operate that way. More power to her I guess. It all comes back to balance I guess. You and her are definitely special people and we are all better off having you in our lives.

    • Eddie, some times I do forget to take care of myself. My favorite vet does too, so I like to keep an eye on her sometimes and give her moral support, if that’s all I can do.

      Helping students stay on track is HUGE! I wish I had had someone like you when I was in college. I went to a huge state school in upstate NY. You just really had to seek out the help, and I didn’t. My life might have been radically different if I had.

      Thanks for saying that about me and your boss. All I know is, I try.

  • Hi! Lurker here. I was thinking of you this morning because I listened to a new episode of the Death Sex Money podcast about stress and suicide in the veterinary community.
    I struggle with some of the same things as you – I work a corporate job, but I worry that I should be trying to help people directly through some sort of teaching or counseling job. Obviously that would have major financial implications and possibly include student loan debt for additional schooling. My employer matching charitable donations up to $5000 per year and sometimes I think that if I could just donate enough to get the full match, that $10,000 a year ($5,000 from me and $5,000 from the company) would be doing enough – and I could still have my financial security.
    Overall I hate that our country is structured in such a way that student loans and health care are such a burden. Can you imagine the amount of stress that would just evaporate if we actually had a social safety net?
    Anyway, good luck with what you are struggling with! You are not alone.

    • Oh God yes, I can totally picture it!! It would be like almost every other country in the world where education, at least your undergrad, is taken care of!! This country is so screwed up, I could write the longest blog post on what I disagree with on it!

      I understand your quandary. (And that’s great, btw, that your employer matches you as much as they do for your charitable donations, wow!) Please believe me – if you even donated your 5K during the year, that is so much more than many other folks do, it really is. I can’t afford to donate the $ which is why I donate my time instead.

      And yes, the stress and suicide rates in the vet field are pretty high. I don’t know how my one vet does it. She’s been a vet for 30 years and treats so many different kinds of animals. Yet, she keeps going, and going, and going. Simply put, she’s my hero.

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