So here is something I have thought about doing over the years. If I ever get my big girl pants on and decide to travel in an RV or some other form around the US, I would like to see a bunch of national parks. BUT what I ALSO want to do is visit a ton of animal sanctuaries, especially wildlife sanctuaries/rehab facilities. I really enjoyed the time i spent with the Peace River Wildlife Center, and one of the things that i have really liked about living in Florida is the wildlife. It is freaking amazing!!
One of my favorite things to do here at the beach is to watch the pelicans dive bomb for their food from the sky, or fly so low and close to the water that I’m amazed that they don’t get their wings wet while doing it. If you have ever seen a pelican dive, or even if you haven’t, then you will want to check out this video on YouTube: Pelicans Dive Bombing Once they enter the water, they open up their throat pouch, which can hold as much as three GALLONS of water, and catch fish, which they then turn around in their pouch, if need be, to swallow the fish whole, face first.
I watch the sandpipers run up and down the sand, in and out of the path of the waves. I watch the willets near the shoreline. If I’m lucky, I get to see a great egret or snowy egret stalk some prey (ahem, fish). And on the really awesome days, i get to see dolphins. Of all the days I have spent mornings or sunsets at the beach, I have only been lucky to see some jumping out of the water. (I used to think they were playing but have since found out that they do that to be able to see the fish better, or to cover more “ground” than just by swimming.)
The pelicans closest to me (the camera) are juveniles, which you can tell by their coloring on their heads and necks (gray). Toward the middle of the photo and at the back, you will see two with white necks. Those are adults. They don’t get their adult coloring until they reach the age of three.
Anyway, I digress. Anyone who has worked in animal welfare knows it doesn’t pay well. It is a true “labor of love.” One of the last things those folks do have is time to market themselves or publicize their work. Many depend on volunteer labor to get everything done. What I would like to do is travel to these sanctuaries, volunteer if possible, talk to the folks who work there or run them, and then write about them or get their good deeds known to others. Still brainstorming the best ways to do that. TRANSLATION: Anyone have any good ideas about that? (Instagram, YouTube, podcast?) Please comment below!
Hand in hand with this idea is another one that occurred to me while on a recent run. There don’t seem to be a searchable database of these types of organizations/wildlife sanctuaries. I can find some for animal shelters but not wildlife rehabilitation centers or sanctuaries.
The librarian in me will never die — I would love to create something like that for others like me who care about the animals of the world and how we can protect them, donate to help them, or volunteer our labor as well. While I do think I am adept at learning new things, a software engineer or database creator I am not. However I am sure there is someone out there who could help or at least point me in the right direction to get this idea cracking. So if you are reading this blog and know of someone who can assist, even in some small way, with info, ideas etc., PLEASE share this post with them! I know I can create a web page that organizes that info in possibly a table format, etc., but there has to be a better way!
Information I’d like to include about the sanctuaries/rehab facilities would be:
Name of sanctuary
Populations/Species of animals cared for
Information on donating to the sanctuary (via links, posssibly)
Information on volunteering at the sanctuary (via links, possibly)
Information on the mission or vision statement of that sanctuary
Thoughts on the sanctuaries that I do visit as well as links to my writeup/podcast/video, etc., on that sanctuary
Any other ideas any of you might have out there? I know I am not the only person in the world who loves and appreciates wildlife and wants to do whatever they can to help them in these times of climate change and shrinking habitats. I would like to use my talents and skills to do my part. And, I feel like this suits my me more than pursuing a marine biology degree because science and math are truly not my strong suits. I felt like for those few months of school just recently, I was pounding my head against a wall, trying to do something which I am just not naturally suited for. Writing, educating, organizing and speaking are where I excel much more.
What do you think? A worthwhile idea, or am I just crazy??
Clearly, it would take time to develop but over time, little things add up. My thinking is that this adventure of traveling to the sanctuaries could start late 2021.
That is a very good and very loaded question. As you know, I’m back in Florida because the cold in the northeast was too much for me to handle after being away from it for a few years. Apologies in advance if this post seems a bit disjointed but I hope you like the pictures. I’m trying to work through some things that keep bouncing around in my mind. Writing helps to clarify them sometimes. So here goes….
I have been working hard at the legal transcription, working for a few different companies as a 1099. They pay better than the one I have been working with the past year or so. When you type as much as I do, 25 cents/page more can really add up in terms of how much you make every week. So I work hard and I make my deadlines and in so doing, create a good reputation for myself with those folks.
To put it bluntly, they haven’t been great since I left my job at Harvard. Toward the end of my time in Boston, I didn’t have credit cards. When I decided to move to Utah, I got myself one, “just in case.” Dumb move on my part. I now have two cards that are almost maxed out (one only got to that point a month or two ago when my Sophie cost me $3K at the vet when she had to get an MRI.) I owe my roommate about $1K from when we moved in (we owed first, last and security deposit plus an un-refundable pet deposit which really added up.) The credit cards are at 20% and 15%. They are just killing me with the interest.
So I know that some may disagree with this decision, but I have decided to take money out of my retirement to pay it all off. Yes, I know it has long-term consequences. I hate myself for taking from my future self. But with the rate of interest I am paying now, I see this as the best thing to do. My retirement funds aren’t earning 20% per month.
We are also withholding money to handle the tax bill when it comes — borrowing from myself before I’m 59 1/2 means the amount distributed gets imputed to me as income for the year and I also pay a 10% penalty on the amount withdrawn. I have about $212K in retirement right now and am taking a distribution of about $19,900 in total. Living in Florida, I only pay federal income tax, thankfully. So that will help for sure, come tax time. My plan is to then close out the credit cards, one by one. (They’ve been in the freezer for about 6 weeks now.) I will probably keep my Care Credit card just for pet emergencies and even then, I’d rather stab a fork in my eye than have to use it.
Once the cards are paid off, I am going to focus on building up my savings for a few months and then start paying extra on either my car or my private student loan. The car loan is below $2K at this point, and I have a very good interest rate of about 3.9%. My payment is roughly $142/month. The private loan is down to about $8900 and because the rate is variable, it is up to about 5.25% right now. My payment is about $97/month.
My federal loan payments are based on my income, so I pay about $10/month for each one (two total). Yes, the payments are strung out for years and years, but I’m fine with that trade-off because it allows me to live my life. And when I look at how much I have paid back over the years, trust me, the federal government has gotten a lot of money paid back from me — the principal amount borrowed and then A LOT in addition.
I am also starting up a Roth IRA because all of my other retirement savings are what we call tax-deferred, so when I do start taking money out on a regular basis, I’ll get hit with the taxes at that point. With a Roth, I’ve already paid the taxes so distributions later on will be tax free. (If you’re reading this from outside the US, I realize this may not make sense at all. My country is screwed up, what can I say?)
I really don’t spend much money at all, other than on food for myself, my animals, and to put gas in my car. The other day I did buy a yearly parking sticker for Lee County which cost $60, but now I can park at many nature preserves and some beaches and not have to worry about feeding meters. Knowing how much I plan to use these spaces in the upcoming year, I know it’s a good choice for me. I really do love my time spent outside in nature, hearing the birds sing or listening to the wind ruffle through the trees around me, hearing the waves crash onto the shore.
I go to the library a lot to work (when I want to be around people), and to check out books (yes, I still like the hard copy feel in my hands.) So that’s free and doesn’t cost me anything other than the cost of gas to get there. And I don’t go every day because I have my own home office at this duplex and the animals all tend to congregate with me anyway, and that is a super calming feeling.
Living plans for next year:
I do have a roommate and for reasons I won’t go into on here, I know we will be going our separate ways next year when the lease is up. So I’m planning ahead and considering my options. Do I move someplace cheaper and smaller with my animals? Perhaps. Do I somehow buy a trailer and finally pull the cord and do the nomadic thing? Working remotely as a transcriptionist will allow me to do that. But I would likely need to get another vehicle if I do that — one that can tow even a small trailer or a Class B type vehicle.
If it were just me and I didn’t have my furballs to feed and care for, I would be happy with just a small teardrop trailer, honestly. But it’s not just me. There are three, albeit senior, cats to worry about as well as my two small pups. I want them to be comfortable. The cats are approximately 14, 13 and somewhere between 12-15 in age. (With Honey Bun, we’re not totally sure of her age.) Snuggles is roughly 10-12ish and I was told Sophie was 7 last year, but I have my doubts as to the accuracy of that. I think she’s younger.
Being able to work from home, I see what they do all day. They sleep, eat, drink water and poop. Sophie plays with Steel (my roommate’s German Shepherd, on whom I think she has developed a crush; it’s so cute), but even then there’s a whole lot of sleeping going on. Even so, I want them to have enough space to feel comfortable.
However, I don’t want something that is built like crap and gets terrible gas mileage. And let’s be honest, most RVs are built like crap. And I am not a handy person, to say the least. So whatever I go with, I want it to be pretty simple, because let’s face it, I’m a simple person when it comes down to it. I’m considering the Wee Roll campers which are made in Florida, among others. They are lightweight, would allow me to stand up, can have an AC built in (necessary with animals), aluminum, and over-constructed from what I have read about them. I like the sound of all of that.
I have been considering trying to see a lot of national parks. Living in the southwest, although I was far from the ocean, I was able to see some amazing ones, and lived super close to Zion National Park. (It blows my mind to this day how close by I was, and yes, I did take advantage of it.) I have been reading different books about them, and want to really see more of this beautiful country. I’ve never seen the Grand Tetons, or Olympic National Park and the forests near there. I’ve never seen the Badlands. So many different mountain ranges in this country that I’ve never seen, or only seen from the window of a plane.
I want to live simply. I want to see things before I die. I am happy being with myself as my own company. Yes, I sometimes feel lonely, but that happens with everyone. I like my freedom, not having to respond to an invitation to hang out (when it rarely does happen, lol) by saying I have to check with my partner’s schedule first. (Maybe this just means I haven’t met that perfect person for me yet. Who knows?)
And honestly, I feel like I was put on this earth to make an impact, in some way, shape or form. I want to improve at my writing and taking photographs of the landscapes I see around me. I want to share that with others. After having read the book, Before They’re Gone, I want to see different parts of this beautiful country I call home and share it with others, be it through my writing or photography. (The book is about an outdoor writer who takes his family to several national parks over the course of a year and interweaves his thoughts and research about global climate change and its effects on the parks throughout. I highly recommend it.) Mandy Lea Photo has been very inspiring to me in that vein as well. I’ve followed her on YouTube for a long time now.
But I also want to be environmentally conscious, and is my traipsing around everywhere pulling a trailer or driving a Class B or van responsible in that vein? That’s also led me to thinking about living in an intentional community type situation. It’s something I have thought about a lot over the years. Dancing Rabbit is an example of one. However, then I would have to stay in one place, and I need to do some soul searching to see if that’s really the right thing for me to do at this point in my life. Many of them allow visitors (Dancing Rabbit even has a visitor program or internship program set up), to allow people to see if it really is a good fit for them or not.
So I hope that will happen next year, but if I need a bit more time to do it in a financially stable way, I will take that time if needed. I’ve made some rash decisions these past few years and they have cost me financially.
I’m still trying to find my way, folks. I wish I had all the answers. But then, I wouldn’t have challenges or self-discovery to work through and life would be boring, right?
It’s all about the journey, right? Thanks for reading, and especially for sticking with me if you are a longtime reader. I’m working back to writing more regularly.
*Disclosure: some of the links in this post may be affiliate links.
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.
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!
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.)
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.
Guess what? I’m going to Florida!!!! After my post the other day in which I mentioned the APHE (Association of Professional Humane Educators) conference in Orlando, a good friend of mine who shall remain anonymous offered to buy my plane ticket with airline miles he couldn’t use and that were set to expire soon. So I’m going!!
I choose to take this offer as a sign of good karma and accepted his help. It’s hard for me to accept help, but I know this conference can help me help others — the furry ones who can’t talk in the same language we all use. I had already asked off for the time at work, just in case I could figure out a way to afford all of it. So I’m going!! (And yes, I know that is like the third time I’ve said that so far, LOL.)
I am hoping to meet a lot of people at the conference and also check out some of the sanctuaries and shelters, of which there are many. I have some friends in Sarasota I am going to reach out to and see if we can finally meet in person after having been online friends for over 7 years. (Seriously, it’s amazing the friends you can meet via blogging or twitter, etc.) And if time permits, maybe check out some locations where I might consider moving to if things work out.
I have been busy doing some transcribing for my friend Elaine, and finished up testing with one company called Transcribe for Everyone, based out of Israel. They seem pretty well-organized, even send out a newsletter to their contractors on a weekly basis. I now need to go through their online training and then I can start getting some paid work. I will be part of their legal team.
I might have mentioned I paid for a course on freelance writing with Kristin Wong. Well, she asked me to do some transcribing for her last week, which I gladly accepted. Also, I’m in the assessment process with two other companies, so will be working on that this weekend, along with some schoolwork. So hopefully soon, my money situation will really improve.
By the way, transcribing is about more than just being able to type fast. You have to have the right tools, and you need to be able to concentrate very well, and follow guidelines for consistency and to please the client. You have to be willing to look up terms you’ve never heard before. Finally, it’s a great way to learn about new topics to which you might not otherwise be introduced.
Engaging in self-care
After my last post, a lot of folks mentioned self-care to me, both here on the blog and on facebook. So I made sure to go to the gym the past two days, where I have been riding the exercise bike, doing about 12-13 miles on high resistance. Takes me about 45-46 minutes and I am a sweaty mess afterward, but it feels good. I am also reading The Year of Less by Cait Flanders, which just came out (I pre-ordered it.) She is one of my favorite bloggers and podcasters, and now authors!!
Pushing myself, but why?
A friend of mine who wanted me to come over and hang out last night (which I couldn’t because I was exhausted) commented that I want to have a minimalistic life but I seem to hustle a lot. At first, I thought he was criticizing me. My response was that “Well, I’m not happy with my life, and I don’t want to be one of those people who moans and groans about it, but doesn’t change any habits, and expects things to change.”
I realize I am fortunate enough to be able to make changes to my life when I feel the need. Yes, a lot of people do complain about their lives. A lot of them have families to worry about. I don’t. But I feel like, if you’re unhappy, to the extent you can make changes, you should.
“Nothing in your life is going to change just by wishing it to be so.”
And in case you’re wondering, no, I don’t like working all the time. I mean, really, does anyone?? But I don’t see this as happening forever. Transcribing work can be up and down, so when you get it, and have the time, you take it. Developing my writing will be a lifelong pursuit. Educating myself about humane education issues will be too.
“Once you open your eyes to a lot of what is happening around you, be it with environmental issues, or animal welfare issues, it’s impossible to shut them again.”
I would like to thank everyone, especially my friend who generously donated his airline miles to me, for caring about me and writing me words of encouragement over the past few days. Some of your notes and comments brought tears to my eyes when I read them. Thoughts like those keep me going on the days when I really question myself, when the doubts creep in. In fact, the title of this post came from a good friend who commented that it seemed like I was in a dark tunnel, but I would soon find my way out. It’s kind of like when you are having a crappy run that you keep pushing yourself through, because you know a good one is soon to come.
And now, I’m getting ready to head to the gym for a bit this am. As always, thank you for reading, and please share this post if you think someone can benefit from reading it.
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.
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.
Last night, I came home from work with two six-packs of beer in my hands. My roommate took one look at them and my face and said “One of those days, huh?” (For the record, I only had two. He drank three.)
I try to be positive on this blog, I really do. But sometimes, you just have one of those crappy ass days where you think to yourself, “WHY am i doing this?” Also, “that’s it, I’m GOING to change my life and my work.”
It is not abnormal for my hospital to get phone calls with questions such as:
“Is this something I should bring my pet in for? It was in dog fight and now it’s eye is sticking out from its socket.”
“My dog has been vomiting and has had diarrhea for the past seven days. Do you think I should be worried or bring it in?”
These are the calls that make me want to bang my head against a wall or go outside and do a (not) silent scream in frustration. I want to say to these people, “Well, gee, if you had your eyeball sticking out of its socket, would YOU want to seek medical attention?! or If you had it coming out of both ends for a week, would YOU want to go to a doctor and get something for it??!! Then why would you think it would be any different for your pet?!”
Usually with these calls, we then get the story of how they can’t afford to have their pet treated. We give out the phone numbers to the low-income clinics. Or we get told that we are selfish money grubbers who only care about money, not if their pet lives or dies. And sometimes they hang up on us. One day, it happened to me three times. Because, you know, it’s MY fault that they can’t afford to take care of their pet.
Nothing could be further from the truth and it pisses me off so much. I want to say, “Trust me. I make $12.50/hour so I’m certainly NOT making money off of your pet.” But I can’t. I have to try and be as nice as possible with them.
Public Service Announcement: Please, please, please, people, if you can’t afford to take care of a pet when it gets sick, DON’T adopt it. Or find a way to save for its health needs. Or take out pet insurance. Or hell, get a job at an animal clinic so you get a huge discount on their pet care. Or call the low-income clinics and find out when or if they have special clinics for certain health needs like vaccination clinics or spay and neuter clinics. I could go on and on. The point is — DO SOMETHING.
Don’t expect the person answering the phone at the animal hospital to be a miracle worker or the receptacle for all of your problems and frustrations. Because WE are people too. We really are. We have feelings. We are scraping to get by just as you are. (In fact, many of us joke that we work there so that we can afford to take care of our pets or pay our vet bill. Unfortunately, it’s also kind of true.) And also, if you’re there with us in person, don’t treat us as if we are stupid because we are standing behind that desk. I have advanced degrees. I have CHOSEN to work with animals because I love them so much.
One thing my mom taught me, and I wish other people had learned as well – never assume that the person assisting you is beneath you or doesn’t deserve your respect. You NEVER know who you are talking to. And believe me, it’s true. And you never know if that person could be the one to help you out when you need it. I mean, truly need it.
The point of all this is that yesterday was one of those days where I became even more resolved to change my life from its present circumstances. Tonight, I will take a transcription test or a remote researcher test (another option for me to make extra cash) so I can start earning more side hustle income, and make one of my dreams more of a reality – being able to do freelance work to support myself. I want to have multiple streams of income so that if my writing can’t support me or I just plain fail miserably at it, there are still options that I can rely upon.
Today is a new day. I’m going to try to remind myself to not let my emotions get caught up in what is going on around me and which I cannot control. Easier said than done, for sure. I need to take a deep breath. Or three. Or four. Or ten, as the case may be.
If you’ve ever felt this way about your job or your life, please share below or feel free to share this post with someone who has. I’d love for us to be able to talk about it.
As always, thank you for reading, and thank you so much to those of you who have commented on or messaged me about my last couple of posts about being brutally honest or my talk about money, either here or on Facebook. They have really helped to keep me inspired.
And why am I bringing this up? Well, I looked to see what the stats were on some of my blog posts over the years, and lo and behold, it seems like the ones where I talk about money or some other personal finance topic, tend to get the most views. Is it because we have this voyeuristic impulse to find out what others are doing when it comes to money? Do we think someone else has the secret key to unlocking all the answers to the problems we’ve experienced or hesitations we feel about money?
I know I’m always willing to talk about money and I’m fine with discussing some of my details on here. But I know people who would rather have hot lava poured onto them than to do so. Hell, I’m even related to some people like that. They’ve just never felt comfortable discussing it, and I think it’s partly in the way that they were brought up. That’s okay, I won’t judge them and I know they don’t judge me.
I was brought up by a single mom that was pretty open when it came to money. We didn’t have a lot of it, and we didn’t pretend we did. In fact, I remember ducking down to the floor of the car on several occasions as I was mortified to have anyone I knew possibly drive by and see my car pulled over to the curb so my mom could check out what someone else was getting rid of. Nowadays, I think doing that is cool, because you never know what you might find! As they say, one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure….
So here’s some numbers from me. When I was a librarian, living in a big city, I made over $84K/year. These days, I live in another city but make roughly $24K per year, not counting my freelance work. Back in Boston, I paid $1100 in rent for a studio. Here, my roomie and I split $550/month for a one bedroom apartment with a fenced in yard and half of a two car garage. Oh, and I am saving 7% of my meager salary into a 401(k) and $100/paycheck divided among a few accounts.
Here’s a look at my average monthly expenses, with a disclaimer that our gas bill will definitely be higher this month due to heating costs, and our last electric bill was around $140 since we erroneously thought using two space heaters would be cheaper than paying for heat via the furnace. D’oh!
Rent = $550 (split by two) so $275
Electric = $33 (split by two), so $16.50
Gas (household) = $27 (split by two), so $13.50
Private student loan = 162.11
Car loan = $141.42
Internet = $47.23 (but my roommate is paying for all of it via his going back to school through the GI Bill), so $0 for me after reimbursement
Gas (auto) = $50 (only tend to gas up 2-3 times/month)
Food = $200 – ish (this has definitely fluctuated)
Entertainment (eating out, etc., and yes, it includes coloring books and materials) = $40
Car Insurance = $60
Renter’s Insurance = $20
Savings for Travel = $50
Savings for Emergency Fund = $70
Two Credit Cards = $120
Cell Phone (Cricket Wireless) = $35
TOTAL = $1253.53
Take Home Pay for One Month (we get paid bi-weekly) = $1356.78 (after taxes, 401(k) and insurance deductions)
Full disclosure: These expense numbers don’t include my vet bill at work which is about $1200 at this time because I plan on paying it off I get my student loan money for the semester. My work charges 18% interest (ridiculous since we work there), and the student loan will be at 6%. I will also use some of the excess to pay off the credit cards, because again, the interest rate is much lower. Then I’ll pay the accruing interest on the student loan and not use the credit cards. Into the freezer they will go!
Looking at the nunbers, you will notice that there is a bit of wiggle room. That wiggle room will help me when it comes time to pay our heat bill. And when it’s not working to pay bills, into the savings it goes! And two months per year, we get that bonus third paycheck which I will use to pay down debt (or go into the tiny home/condo fund.) Editor’s note — oh wait!! I forgot my pet food expenses!! They barely have me breaking even!! Yep, not so much wiggle room left over. So that tells me that I need to keep a better handle on where my money is going. I’ve started writing in my planner at night what I spent during the day.
In case you are wondering, my other federal loans are currently in deferment while I’m in the master’s program and when I start paying on them again, it’ll be at the IBR (Income Based Repayment) rate, since I know I will never be able to pay them completely off unless I were to go back to my same job at Harvard as I had in 2015. Yes, I will end up paying them for 25 more years, but the amount of my monthly payment will vary depending on my income, and at the end of that time period, the amount unpaid will be written off.
WARNING — SIDE TANGENT: Some of you might get upset at the idea of my loans eventually being written off. But here’s the thing. I have paid back those federal loans’ principal balance AND THEN SOME over the past two or so years. I really have. And the balance has barely moved. Paying again for the next twenty five or so years – trust me — they WILL get THOUSANDS more out of me before then! So, in my mind, I will have paid and paid and paid them some more when it’s all over and done. I just don’t want to be paying and receiving social security at the same time. (Of course, assuming social security still exists by the time I get to that ripe old age.)
OKAY, SIDE TANGENT/RANT OVER.
My roommate is in the process of paying me back for a few months over the past year when I was carrying the expenses for both of us. So, as he pays me, I’m paying off my debts or putting the money into savings where/when I can. (And no, I don’t feel comfortable sharing that amount on here because it’s a debt of someone else’s, not mine. I don’t think he’d be comfortable with my sharing that.)
My roomie and I live pretty frugally. Mainly our entertainment is watching movies/YouTube videos or taking the dogs for walks in the Bosque, and in my case, reading and coloring. And writing here (and soon, again, for school), or in my journal or elsewhere. Things that don’t cost much in terms of money.
I wish I had known when I made so much more money, what I know now. I speak for a lot of us when I say that, don’t I?
I can’t beat myself up for the money mistakes I’ve made. All I can do is learn from them, listen to my heart and follow my priorities. I share my mistakes and financial numbers on this blog so that hopefully they can help someone else in some way. Maybe you’ll feel better about your salary when you see how low mine is. Maybe it will help you to see areas where you can cut out expenses you really don’t need.
Or, maybe you will feel sorry for me or disgusted at the thought that I could have thrown away such a good paying job. I hope that last sentence isn’t the case. I don’t want pity. And if you are disgusted by it, maybe take a look inward and try to figure out why you are having that reaction. My experience as a librarian at Harvard Law will always have value for me in so many ways. I just no longer felt that it and Boston were right for me. (And seeing the winter blizzard and freezing cold that they have right now, well, I just shudder at the thought of experiencing that again!)
This post has been a lot longer than some others, so if you’ve stuck with me to the end, thanks for reading. Please feel free to hit like, share, comment or even subscribe to my blog if the feeling so moves you!