Yep, it’s been a while. So long that I am having to orient myself to all the WordPress changes since I last blogged. Good Lord.
The world certainly has changed since the last time I wrote on this blog. Covid-19. Enough said.
I have stopped and started a few drafts over the past several months. The longer you go without posting, the easier it gets to NOT post. You can talk yourself into thinking no one cares anymore or follows your blog anymore. Kind of becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I’ve moved back to Naples, Florida. My oldest cat, Callie, passed away in July. In August, I started school through FSW (Florida Southwestern State College), taking some prerequisite classes for a marine science (or eventual marine policy, etc.) type of degree. I was taking bio and chem (bleck, ugh) with labs. I say bleck because it was all about electrons and atoms at that stage. Things that just bore me to tears, quite honestly.
So yeah, you may have noticed I used the past tense in that previous paragraph. If you did, thanks for reading so closely. I stopped taking the classes. Faced the reality that I would be graduating with another bachelor’s or master’s degree at the age of 54 or 55 and then competing with 24 year olds for work at entry level salaries. So I stopped. Yes, another start and another stop. My own inner voice echoes back to me something my mom said to me last year when I was back in Boston and decided to come back to Florida and that is “Do you have any idea what you are doing or what you want?” No. I guess not.
I keep living my life thinking about the future, and I realize that that prevents me from living in the present. I’m always trying to figure out why I was put on this earth. How I can leave it in a better place than how it was when I came into it. And while I’m doing that, I am missing out on the present.
When I sat down to write this post today, I discovered a comment someone had left on m blog back in June. IN JUNE! When I went to their site today to check them out, I saw this post and it sums up some thoughts I have had so many times and which for some reason are so hard for me to articulate clearly. It is Karma: The Purpose of Life.
Some days, I have felt like my purpose on this earth was to save a bunch of sea urchins and starfish that had washed up on shore. Or to throw back that fish that had washed up (or possibly been dropped by a bird) on the shore, still breathing. I have a neighbor right now who had surgery on his ankle and is pretty much housebound, so I’ve been helping him out with his dog and such. Maybe that’s my purpose for right now.
I don’t need to have all the answers. In fact, I don’t think I ever will. I change my mind so much as to what i think I am supposed to be doing on this earth and have pivoted so many times in the past five years that I no longer get upset when someone kids me that I will probably change my mind next week or even in the next few days. Because it’s true. I might.
I won’t get upset when I tell others I’m thinking about moving when my lease is up in July. (My sis expressed some frustration when I mentioned looking into Pensacola as an option. She asked why i moved back to Naples when i did. Well, when my lease was up, lockdowns were upon us and I couldn’t really drive around and check out other potential places. I’m back in the same apt building I was in before. At least here, I knew what to expect and I’m only 10 mins from the beach, if that. When i explained that, she was like, “I see your point.”) My brother is in Naples now (left NYC as so many have done over the past few months) but there is no guarantee that he and his wife may stay here long term since for her, there isn’t a ton of job prospects.)
So, yes, as with so many people in life, right now, the future is up in the air. Come July, will i move? Probably. Will i move into an RV and travel around and see my family and friends I’ve made over the years, for extended periods of time? Possibly. Will I move into a tiny apartment somewhere and continue walking or running the beach often? (I have a half-started post about that in the works — the beach part, anyway.) And why have i been missing my friends and the beauty of the southwest so often lately?? Should I take a trip back out there? Perhaps. (Already had Covid and I’m not averse to wearing a mask on a plane if need be. )
It has occurred to me I should set a schedule of when posts go up on this blog, and maybe incorporate this space more into my why, my purpose in life. Take it more seriously. So, I will try. For the two of you out there maybe even still reading this blog or intermittently checking it for updates, I at least owe you that.
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.
No, the blog isn’t dead. It’s just been on ….. life support, I guess you could say these past several months. I am so sorry everyone. Let me just catch you up on what has gone on in my life, as succintly as I can, over the last (gulp) 10 months. Read more →
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.
Do you feel inspired when you see a blank sheet of paper like in this photo above? Or does it stress you out?
I don’t know about a lot of you but I journal just about every day. A blank page in a notebook is actually exciting to me because writing helps me to stay grounded and focus on what is going on in this befuddled brain of mine and put things in some semblance of order. Below is the abbreviated version of the thoughts rumbling around in my head for the past week or so.
I haven’t been blogging as much over the past week or so because I’ve been doing a lot of transcribing for my friend Elaine. Have to do the side hustle work when you can get it! None of that time is wasted as I am continuing to learn about topics of which I knew almost nothing about beforehand. The day I stop learning is a day I never want to experience!
I am continuing to do the Proofread Anywhere class with the goal of eventually being able to do that as freelance income. It’s actually helping me to become a better writer. I’m re-learning a lot of grammar rules that I forgot so long ago. So while it may appear that by going through those exercises, I’m digressing from my other goals, I don’t see it that way. I see them all melding together in a beneficial way.
Changes to finance goals:
With the new tax bill providing me with a whole $15 per pay check (note the sarcasm), I decided to increase my 401(k) contribution to 8% of my paycheck. An additional $9 per paycheck, but as anyone knows when saving for long term goals, every little bit helps. Plus, the government gets $1 less per paycheck this way if my calculations are correct. Every extra dollar for me is a dollar less for them, so I’m okay with that!
I’ve learned that many of my coworkers (including my boss) don’t have a 401(k) set up yet and the thought of that scares the bejesus out of me, to be my age (45) and not have anything saved up. That was the situation with my mom – never had a 401(k) and I REFUSE to let that become me.
I am starting to plan on paper for what I want to happen over the next 12 months, monetarily-wise. That involves making some good headway on my auto loan, of which the balance is currently $4,079.12. My monthly payment has been $141.42. I plan on increasing that to about $155/month. That way, I have made at least one extra payment on it by the end of the year.
I’m revamping my budget to see where things can be cut and how I can save more money on things like groceries. Becoming a full vegan will help, as a lot of the junk foods that I used to eat would contain things like cheese or milk chocolate, so I will be eating better as well. I’ve taken my lunch to work for years, but now it involves a salad pretty much every day and I’m learning ways to make the salad more filling (using tofu, adding peanuts, etc.) so I’m less likely to snack during the day or crave something that isn’t good for me. And really – veggies and other produce don’t have to be expensive if you are careful.
I have decided I really need to live by a budget if I am going to get ahead. A future post will lay it all out. I need accountability partners for it!
Due tomorrow for my Writing for Social Change class is a plan regarding what project I want to work on for the semester, with the goal of having something to publish. I’ve decided to write a memoir, and I’m learning that it’s definitely different than writing your autobiography. (That’s a good thing because my autobiography could probably be used by people who suffer from insomnia. They wouldn’t need any sleep aid after that! LOL).
From all the memoirs I’ve read, I’ve learned something. Also, I have realized that writing this blog is kind of like writing my memoir in a way. With each of my posts, I hope to touch someone’s heart or soul and inspire. That’s why I share as much as I do in my posts. I want to give words or comfort to someone else who might have experienced the same as me or had the same thoughts as me, but who just can’t put those into words.
By tomorrow, I need to and shall have a schedule prepared for just how I plan to accomplish that over the next few months. It is going to involve a lot of my telling my inner editor to Shut the F Up! 🙂 I am not sure yet how it will all unfold but I do know that animals will probably play a prominent role in my writing of it. My pets and my love for animals are behind so many of my decisions.
I have already asked my friend Dan if he would like to be a reader of mine for my memoir. He knows me very well and will be able to tell if what I’ve written just doesn’t sound like something I would say, or if something is coming across to the reader in one way but is meant to be understood in a different way. He’s always been blunt with me about things, and sometimes I even ask him to play devil’s advocate. He’s the one who tells me to “Focus, focus, focus!!” when I start telling him about all of my goals and thoughts and they seem to be bouncing all over the place. I need that, trust me! By the way, if you want to follow him on youtube, he is known as Wander Dano. After watching his recent video on why he chose his Class B, I have to say, he really has me thinking about saving up for one.
I wanted to thank those of you who have written comments or sent me messages about my dad. He died on Sunday morning, ten years to the day that his younger brother died from early-onset Alzheimers. It is for the best, and all of my siblings and I will be converging at Boston in the very beginning of March for his wake service. He is being cremated so it can be pushed back until then. Although the circumstances suck, it will be really good to see my friends again and to have all five of us together again.
Below is a picture of all of us at my brother’s wedding this past May. In case you’re wondering, I’m the short girl standing next to the really tall guy in the suit!!
We range in age from 44 (the groom) to 58 – if you ask me, I think we look pretty damn good for our ages!! My oldest brother, Mike, is on the right, and is currently overlanding through South America with his wife, Geneva. (And yes, “overlanding” is a real word.) You can read about their adventures at It’s Not a Slow Car, It’s a Fast House. He will be flying to Boston from Nicaragua. His wife, Geneva, writes most of the posts and she is a great writer, so please check out their blog. You’ll learn a lot! Living an unconventional life appears to agree with him, wouldn’t you say?
What kinds of activities do you do to ground yourself? How do you make plans or do you make plans on a yearly basis, or longer or shorter? Anyone out there willing to be an accountability partner with me about any of my goals? Especially my financial ones?? Please comment below!!
This post has already become much longer than I planned, so as always, I thank you for reading. Please share it if you think it will help someone else out, or resonate with someone.
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.
Ever feel like you’re treading water or like you’re one of those ducks you see swimming on the pond? You know, looking all graceful and put together, but underneath the surface, there’s a whole lot of stuff going on?
School and Freelance Work:
That about sums things up for me these past few days. Been getting up at 5 or 5:30, drink coffee, eat a bagel or something else for breakfast and then get started on whatever project needs to be done that day, or on which I think I can make the most headway. Busy reading not one but two books for my classes at the same time.
Doing some transcribing for my friend Elaine. Readying myself to work with another company on a weekly basis so I will still have freelance work when Elaine shuts down her company in the upcoming months. (In case you’re wondering from my last post – I decided to only apply to one outside transcribing company, not the three that I was considering. I was just getting way too stressed thinking about getting all of that work done and finishing my school assignments. Oh yes, and sleep – sleep is important!!)
Trying to work out about 3-4 times per week. I reward myself with 10 minutes on the hydro massage beds that Planet Fitness has for Black Card members afterwards.
Writing about who I am as a writer for one of my classes, and trying to not freeze while I’m doing it. I feel a bit like a fraud. I just throw words down on the paper, thinking I can go back and edit it afterwards, or if something else comes to me, I can add it then. There is shortage of ideas or topics I would like to explore with my writing, but who am I as a writer?? That halts the flow of ideas and thoughts.
I don’t know why I feel this way about my writing sometimes. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel like I can define myself in just one or two terms.
“I’ve been finding it easier to write in the essay about what I want to be as a writer rather than what I am now.”
I want to be a fiction writer. I want to write a memoir — everybody keeps telling me I should write a book about my life since my path has been so unusual. But who would want to read about my life??
I am so flattered to have been contacted by Ashland Creek Press, located in Ashland, Oregon. They’ve asked me if I would like to receive some review copies of their books. Wow! This is how they describe themselves on their “About Us” page:
Changing the world one book at a time
Ashland Creek Press is a vegan-owned boutique publisher dedicated to publishing books with a world view. We’re passionate about the environment, animal protection, ecology, and wildlife, and our goal is to publish books that combine these themes with compelling stories.
So let’s see — do they seem like a perfect company for me with which to stay in contact??!! Hell yes!!!
Publishes books with a world view? Check!
Passionate about animals, environment, wildlife and ecology? Check!
So I’ve asked them to send copies of two books to me and I will let you know as soon as I’m done with them, my thoughts. I would have asked them for more but didn’t want to seem piggish. 🙂
Take a look at their page if you share any of these same interests with me! (And no, they are not compensating me to mention them.) I’m so excited to see that there are publishers out there who are focused on such markets and topics!
Keeping it all together:
You could say I’m busy, but if you know me, you know that’s the way I am and like to be. I like to be productive. I believe my friend Dan would call my hyper-focused at times, or the Energizer Bunny. I find that using a paper planner and setting a few goals for myself each day helps me keep organized and on track.
“I’ve also been reminding myself to breathe. I’m a human. I can’t do it all. Just focus on what I can get done every day.”
As I’ve said in a recent post, if I want to make changes to my life, I have to do the work. You can’t just sit around and complain or wish for your life to change, magically, without any effort.
Have you ever felt like there is a bit of pandemonium in your life? How have you kept things under control?
As always, thank you for reading!! Please share if this post has helped you or if you know someone that could benefit from it.
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.
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.
Since taking a good hard look at my finances the other day, and seeing that my money is so tight, I’ve highly felt the need to earn some extra income. And cut my expenses even more, if that’s even possible.
I won’t lie to you. I felt moments of sheer panic. Moments when I could feel my breath becoming shallow. And wondering if I would ever be able to move someplace near the water and even afford $600/month again for rent, or even a tiny house mortgage?
I also felt anger at myself for not being able to afford a simple one bedroom apartment on my own. Me, the one with the law degree and the master’s in library science now working on yet another degree. How is it I’m only making $24,000??? What is WRONG with me and why did I throw so much away?? WHAT WAS I THINKING?
So, I’m here to tell you that while yes, it’s important to follow or “chase” your dreams, it is not always easy. My life and apartment look nothing like those Instagram photos that people like to share where they always wake up near a gorgeous sunrise and everything is all hunky-dory.
I’m still using those plastic drawers for my clothes I had in my RV. I have book crates that I use as book cases and as the base for my bed which has a mattress on it from Walmart that I bought for a whopping $129 and because it could be easily shipped to my house, and unrolled from the box and voila, a bed is born! Oh, have I mentioned my bed is in the living room which is now mainly my bedroom? (By the way, the mattress works just fine. No need for me to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars.)
I’m 45. This is definitely NOT how I thought I would be living my life 20 years ago. Not even 10 years ago, or even when my marriage ended. But then again, back then, I was anything but honest with myself.
So, back to those moments of panic I was feeling. They were combined with feelings of anxiousness at wanting to do so many things at one time to get myself into a better financial position. Should I apply to all the transcription companies I can find? Should I apply to be a transcription editor? (So far I’ve heard back from the three I applied to, and they’re interested in going further through the process of me.) Should I spend the $199 for the freelance writing course I just heard about from one of my favorite YouTubers, Kristin Wong, as an investment in my future goals of wanting to create income through my writing? (Here is her YouTube channel.)
And if I do get multiple positions for transcribing, and I start writing and submitting to places, and I’m still going through the humane education program, HOW CAN I POSSIBLY DO IT ALL? Will I have time to sleep?
And what if I’m just kidding myself? What if I never get published anywhere, and my writing actually sucks? Oh, sure, I can talk a good game sometimes about how I want to derive more of my income from writing and transcription jobs, when push comes to shove, and I sit down and try to write for anything other than this blog, I get scared and all that negative self-talk finds its way to occupy center stage in my mind? I know some REALLY GOOD writers who struggle to make ends meet. How could I dare to think I might have any better luck than them?
Do you see the spiraling that was occurring in my mind? I do, looking at it now. And I started to feel it then, and caught myself staring off into space, trying to figure it all out. The good thing is, I recognized it for what it was. Panic. And I forced myself to breathe. And then I pulled out my journal.
To calm myself, I forced myself to write down three questions, all having the word FOCUS being written in all caps.
FOCUS – What am I good at?
FOCUS – What do I like to do?
FOCUS – What am I unhappy about with my life right now?
Yes, that third question can quite possibly grow out of control if I let it. But I felt like the first two were more positive and might help me figure out my way of dealing with what gets listed under the third. Below is what I came up with at that time.
What am I good at?
Writing, proofreading, transcribing, research
What do I like to do?
Write, color, be outside in nature, exercise, spend time with my animals, read/edit other people’s work, research, read, teach others
I noticed that the word write/writing was in both categories, as was the word “research.” It shouldn’t have come as a surprise considering it’s what I loved about being an English major in college – writing. It is what got me through law school – writing for and getting published by the Environmental Law Journal, and all that research that went along with it. It’s what kept me in my job as a librarian for so many years – my love of research. The hunt and the thrill of finding something you thought might just be impossible to uncover. (And it’s what I miss now.)
And that’s when I thought to myself, “You’ve always been a hard worker. When push comes to shove, you get out there and work your ass off, just like your mom. You CAN and WILL change your life, your location. It might not happen overnight. But you WILL find a way.”
So, I’m trying. I’m trying to get that extra work. I did sign up for the writing course because I’d like to learn from someone who has been successful in the world of freelance writing. I am going through the assessment process for a few transcription companies and I’m going to apply for a proofreading (independent contractor) position this week. And when school starts, I will do my best to keep it all together. And I WILL make enough money to live on like a normal person! 🙂
Eventually, I WILL live near the coast in a warmer climate than Boston!
So when you start to feel overwhelmed, like I did, just take a moment and stop yourself. Start writing down things that are going through your mind. FOCUS. And see the commonalities. And then, instead of just moaning and groaning about how you don’t like your present situation, take one step. Just start doing SOMETHING to change your situation. YOU will have taken control. Not your anxiety or your fears. YOU.
I hope this post can help someone else as it’s been cathartic for me to write it. Please hit the like button, or subscribe to my blog, comment below or share it with someone it might help. And, thank you, as always, for reading!