First, I just wanted to say a big thank you to those of you who commented on my last post, whether it be through here or on my personal Facebook page. I felt a lot of love, knowing some of you were still out there, reading whatever I have to say. So, thank you. Because of you, and how I felt that day after writing, I will continue to write.
I have a friend who is also my personal finance accountability partner, Liz. When we are thinking of making some financial choices, we bounce them off of each other. Our financial situations are very different – she lives in D.C. and makes a very good salary and JUST PAID OFF MORE THAN 100K IN STUDENT LOAN DEBT! But as you can imagine, her living expenses are much higher due to the geographical area. I make peanuts but we realize we have made different decisions about how our lives are going right now. I will say it’s great that she also loves what she does.
Okay. I’ll get to the point. She calculated how much extra I needed to earn these next few months to be able to pay off what I estimate will be owed on my taxes. At first, I said I didn’t think I could do it. Surprisingly, this month, I think I did it. Yay! I had let my own thoughts limit me in the past in what I could achieve. However, I am FREAKING exhausted. So I have given myself today to not do any work at all. Just read, blog, and volunteer at the Peace River Wildlife Center, which has become my happy place on the weekends when I am not traveling to see my boyfriend.
I took a walk through an eco-preserve near me the other day. It’s a place where I normally jog, oh so slowly. Thursday is usually reserved for a spin class at 9 a.m. but my body and mind was just exhausted so I decided to just walk it and I was so happy to pull into the parking area and see that I was all alone, save for the park employee cleaning the bathrooms. I hope you enjoy the pictures scattered throughout this post. These images, seared into my memory, helped me get through the past two days of work. Apologies for not being a better photographer.
Wherever I end up after this lease is up in May, I will find another beautiful place that heals me. I was inspired to take this walk after seeing this YouTube video from Jane Berkel. Her channel is Simple Living Mind Body Home. I find Jane’s voice to be so calming. (Shout out to Double Digit Single Woman or DDSW for short, for turning me onto this lady’s channel. Btw, DDSW has also paid off over $150K in student loans!)
While I was walking, thoughts of work and finances occasionally made their way into my head but I pushed them out of the way. I thought to myself how nature, these trees, these leaves and the birds I could hear in the distance didn’t care about any of that. They existed anyway. Like that moment many years ago when I realized I could choose to be unhappy and feel a lot of pain every day, or I could choose to forgive myself for whatever wrong decisions or mistakes I had made, I realized I had a choice to make that day and every day.
The choice is mine. I can choose to be stressed or I can choose to be in the moment. I chose to just absorb all the beauty around me.
Once again, many moons or months have passed since my last post. I’ve started quite a few since then, only to never finish them. I start writing and then I think, who even cares to read my drivel anymore? And is there anyone even out there still reading anything I write? It’s not like I’ve been consistent lately. (Understatement of the year.)
Since I’ve been doing transcription full-time, it is hard for me to rationalize writing on here and then typing about 70 pages a day. I know I should start the writing before the transcribing, because sometimes my fingers literally hurt at the end of the day. So maybe write posts on the days that I am mainly just audio proofing and therefore not typing so much? Anyway, it’s hard to believe I’ve been self-employed now for over a year. 15 months as of February to be exact.
Well, The Herd has grown by one since my last writing. Her name is Babs and she is a gorgeous calico cat whose previous fur mom died. Her human sister and I had a mutual friend who posted her picture and story on Facebook and one thing led to another. And well, Babs traveled across the country from LA to Jacksonville, Florida, where I picked her up and drove her back down to the Ft. Myers area. You know how I love my senior furballs.
As I mentioned in my last post, I am looking to move in May sometime as our lease is up at the end of that month. Thinking very seriously about the St. Pete/Clearwater area and its environs. Cheaper to live, more liberal and more people around my age. Down here there are a lot of 20-somethings and then there are a bunch of much older folks, like those who have been able to retire and live off of their savings or pensions or what have you. Really hard to make friends when you work at home and aren’t into the bar scene. I do volunteer at a wildlife center on the weekends when I am in town and I love it. But it’s not really a great way to make lasting friends since the volunteers change a lot on the weekends.
I have been dating someone now for the past few months. Yay! He’s about 5 yrs older than me and is very positive with his mindset. Also into fitness. Another yay! He lives north of Orlando. Boo! But he has two sons in the St. Pete/Clearwater area, so many times we meet halfway for both of us, around St. Pete. Or, I go up his way for a weekend, since I can take my work with me and he usually works 6 days a week due to staff shortages. (He works as a fitness director.) Oh, and he’s liberally minded and open to eating vegan or vegetarian food when he’s with me. Yay! Neither one of us makes a lot of money so it’s good that we like to spend time in parks, going for walks/visiting the beach, etc. We plan to go indoor rock climbing together in Tampa the next time we are up there.
The finances — eh, they’re there. Still working on improving them and increasing my income. Working with several different companies is helping in that I never have a shortage of work. I also learn about different types of proceedings and how they need to be transcribed, as well as from different jurisdictions. I won’t bore you with the details, but it does make my work more interesting as well.
So that’s about all that has changed. I have realized that being a nomad is just too difficult when you have as many furballs as me. I can’t afford nor would I want to drive around a huge Class A at this point. A Class C might work, but I would always be terrified about any of them getting out or being unhappy, and that is no way to live. Plus, living the RV life isn’t always that cheap, and I really do love being near the water. Even if you live somewhere inland like where my boyfriend lives, you are still just an hour away from a huge body of water like the Atlantic. To do the RV thing more cheaply means you live in the desert southwest or where there is a lot of BLM land, and I really need the greenery that I have around me here. I have come to realize that. I do miss the wide open spaces of the southwest though.
There are always compromises, aren’t there?
Anyway, I wanted to write this post while I had the ambition to do so, and while my hands weren’t hurting from typing 15-20,000 words in a day. Yes, you read that right. Not a typo.
Thank you to Dawn from Change is Hard for inspiring me to write this evening, after dropping a comment on my blog letting me know she was thinking about me. I admire her ability to blog so consistently. And if you haven’t read her blog or seen her pictures, well, you’re really missing something.
Again, I do want to write more. It’s just hard when you feel like you don’t have much to say, or you do feel like you have something to say but feel the need to earn an income for your furballs and put a bowl of food on the floor for them. Life, right? I’m not complaining. I love working from home and watching my babies sleep (seemingly all day, lol.)
Sooo much sleeping goes on during the day here. Sometimes I even join them. It cracks me up to go lay down on my bed and then hear the pitter patter of little feet as they wake up from their naps, only to realize that Mom has moved. So they pick their bodies up, stretch, and then come in and lay back down next to me. Sometimes, the bed is very crowded… LOL.
Anyway, I feel like I sound like a broken record when I say that I am sorry for the long lengths of time between posts. Thanks for reading if you made it this far. At least some of the photos were cute, right?
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 got a text message from my friend Heather back in ABQ yesterday, saying “Terri, we miss your blog!” And I wrote her back saying I did too. I have missed writing here. So, I am back. I’m not sure how often I will write in the future – I was writing twice a week at one point, maybe once a week is more realistic. That will be my goal anyway.
As with all big changes in life, there has been a bit of an adjustment period, and it’s still ongoing now. The drive from ABQ to southwest Florida took 4 days and 3 nights. There is a limit as to how many hours I can drive in a day, and how many hours my cats could stay in their carriers before we would all collectively start to lose it.
I have started numerous drafts over the past three months, always intending to finish them, but something else came up, or I just wasn’t “feeling” like the post was really “me.” I need to stop always searching for the perfect words, or the perfect tone, and just put it out there.
It was freeing to move with only what I could fit into my car and the car-top carrier. I miss Morgan though, a whole lot. I know she is happy with my old roommate, and he sends me pictures of her. She is getting along better with other dogs, and his new living situation includes another dog and they have become best friends. I am glad to hear all that, and I know she wouldn’t be happy here in this small apartment, but still, I miss her and all of her goofiness.
I see pictures that friends post of ABQ, and I remember how beautiful the surrounding areas were. I see pictures friends have posted of Lake Powell and the awe-dropping, inspiring beauty of the expansive vistas in that part of Arizona and Utah. I miss those scenes but I think back and remember how when I was living there, I just didn’t feel completely like I belonged there. So, I remind myself, I can always visit.
I have been busy doing lots of side transcription jobs, partly out of necessity. It’s expensive to live in this part of Florida. Just a few miles away from me, there is a Bentley dealership. Right next to the Maserati dealership. Yes, you heard me right. A Maserati dealership. On my way to work, I pass by the Porsche dealership. There are lots of people in this town with LOTS of money. Many are retired.
Food is more expensive here, for sure. But some things are free, or close to free. I have an annual pass to the state parks, and once I change my license and tags over to Florida, I will be able to get a free beach parking permit. (Until then, I pay for the meters close to the beaches, but since the sun is so strong, I only go for a couple hours at a time anyway, and even then, I seek out shade whenever possible.)
My credit card balance has risen more than I would like it to have. That’s another reason for the extra transcription jobs. At some times, I feel hopeless about getting them back to zero. But I remind myself that they were before, I can do it again. It will just take hard work and discipline. But then there is that little voice in my brain that reminds me, I can’t live to work. It’s better to just live, so sometimes on my days off, I push the work aside and go to the beach or just take time off to hold Snuggles in my lap and love on him, or do the same with my kitties. Because I can’t control the future. No one can, and I don’t want to spend every moment of every day working. If something were to happen to me and today were to be my last, I don’t want my epitaph to say, “Well, she worked really hard.”
You may be wondering if I am going to continue school. For this fall semester at least, no. I need time to really adjust to my new life here, and I honestly don’t think I can stomach taking out more student loans. I have read through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and think I may actually qualify. (I think I misread some of the details in the past.) So, I’m in the process of filling out the paperwork and figuring out how to contact my past non-profit employers such as Harvard and Best Friends so I can determine how many payments I have made toward that 120 payment requirement since 2007. (Payments made during times of forbearance or deferment don’t count.) I believe my present employer also qualifies. Pray for me that my federal loan nightmare will end soon!!!
I promise to not wait another three months before posting again, I really do. And for those of you whose blogs I have subscribed to through email, I’ve been getting the updates and reading them. Sorry for not commenting. Just, some nights, I have been so exhausted when I get home, I fall asleep on the couch, wake up around midnight, take Snuggles out, and then crash into bed for the next few hours. (Oh and my couch was free, as was a lot of the stuff you see in my new apartment, thanks to some very generous folks.)
I know it’s all a matter of balance. I just have to continue looking for it. Thanks for your patience, if you’re still a faithful reader. I do appreciate the support.
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?
To be honest, it’s been hard sometimes. Luckily, one of my coworkers went completely vegan at the beginning of the year so I have someone else to talk to about the whole factory farming thing and why we have both gone vegan. With her, I don’t have to hear “I’ll never be able to NOT eat meat,” or “Why don’t you eat dairy? The cow has to give milk and it’s not like they’re killing her for the milk.” She “gets it” when I say that I don’t want to be part of causing any animal pain, and she doesn’t look at me like I’m nuts when I say that I’m considering feeding my dogs a vegan diet such as V-Dog.
It can be kind of depressing (or maybe disheartening is a better word) to see what is happening to so many animals every day and know you can’t stop all of it. Add to that the quandaries you find yourself in, trying to figure out how to best spread the message about becoming vegan or vegetarian, or how our climate is changing every day, or why it’s better to adopt an animal or rescue one off of the streets instead of buying one from a breeder, thereby encouraging the use of puppy mills or the existence of backyard breeders. Some days, you wish you could still be ignorant of a lot of the pain and suffering that animals go through for humans. But deep down, you know it’s better to be awake and aware, than to not know what really goes on behind slaughterhouse walls.
So, you push through things and you watch or see images that hurt your heart. But you do it because the animals need someone to be their witness. Someone to be their mouthpiece. I also tell myself that my brief suffering of watching the event is nothing compared to having actually gone through it.
I’ve found that I have needed to spend some time out in the sun and a lot of time holding Snuggles close to me, especially when watching documentary films like The Witness or Earthlings. I’ve also found writing in my journal to be so helpful in guiding me through the crazy maze of my thoughts. Posting on here has been cathartic too.
I try to not beat myself up for having eaten animals and related products in the past, or for having worn wool and used products that involved animal testing. That was when I didn’t know better. All I can do is help the animals now, going forward, both by my own actions and lifestyle choices and by writing posts like this one from January. (In case you want to see more animal issues awareness posts of mine, look here. And for other posts about my love for animals, look here. Of course, there is some overlap.) In case you are wondering, yes, I still have plans to make lots of updates to this website and making changes to incorporate suggestions that some of you generously offered in response to my post of last December when I requested input from you, my readers!
Last night, I came across a job board called VeganJobs.com. You have no idea how excited that made me! These past few weeks, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been spinning circles, trying to figure out how to earn a living wage while still working in an animal-related job. Unless you are the executive director of a shelter or sanctuary, the jobs are usually very low-paying and as I have my student loans, I can’t afford to take a job at any less than what I am now. It’s hard enough at my current salary level.
It was on VeganJobs.com that I came across the website, Bite Size Veganandher corresponding YouTube channel. She has so many educational videos on her channel, and many can be shown to kids or young adults. I want to help spread the word about the incredible work she is doing so I am sharing it here. Please go give her some love!
My last few posts have been longer than normal, so I’ll stop this one here today. Today, I’m feeling more upbeat and hopeful about things. I may not be chosen for the jobs I’ve applied for but now I know there are jobs out there that I would love to do and for which I feel qualified. There is light out there at the end of the tunnel.
As always, thank you for reading. Please share if you know someone who you think can benefit from reading it. And as always, comment if you have any thoughts!
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.
With thoughts of my dad dying in my head, I keep returning to think of my maternal grandmother. She was the only grandmother i was able to ever get to really know. Her husband, my grandpa, died when my mom was 17.
My paternal grandparents died back in the early and late 1980s. I wish I had known my paternal grandpa better – he seemed like a really cool guy, but unfortunately they also lived in Portland, Oregon, so we didn’t get to see them much. My paternal grandmother was definitely not the touchy-feely type of grandma, even when she moved closer to my dad after Grandpa died. I always felt like I was visiting a distant great aunt when I would see her. So when I tell someone about my grandma, it’s my mom’s mom I’m talking about.
If you have someone in your life that you love even 1/16th of how much I loved my grandma, I hope you can write a letter to them today and make sure that they read it., or that you read it to them. Because you never know what tomorrow will bring. So, here goes …
I want to thank you for loving me. For making me feel so special, even from the very beginning. I remember you telling me one time, “It was always you and me. Your mom had your sister by the hand and was holding Jamie, so I would pick you up and carry me. You never wanted to walk when you could be held. So I would hold you.”
Thank you for always tucking me in, even when I was a teenager, when I would sleep over at your house. I remember you would tell me to move toward the center of the bed so that I wouldn’t fall out of it. You would tuck the blankets in so tightly, I felt like a caterpillar in a cocoon. That was always the way you were – wanting to keep me and my brother and sister from getting hurt.
Thank you for having taught me to appreciate the beauty of a sunset. I remember all those times that you would yell out, “Children, hurry come!! Hurry before you miss it!” And we would run to where you stood, looking out your kitchen window at the beautiful colors in the sky. Your eyes used to light up so bright. It’s because of you that I love seeing and smelling bright, colorful flowers and to enjoy the sound of birds chirping.
Thank you for always having that grape Hubba Bubba gum we always liked in your “snack dishwasher” that never worked as long as I could remember. Thank you for introducing me to the wonderful idea for a snack of icing on crackers. Saltine or Ritz, either one was awesome.
Thank you for teaching me to always be prepared and have some food staples on hand. I remember your Reserve Food Cabinet being next to the actively used food cabinet. It taught me to never take food for granted. I know now why you sometimes ate ramen noodles in tomato soup. It wasn’t that you loved it. You just scrimped and saved to ensure we never needed for anything that you could provide.
Thank you for always being such a good sport and putting up with my trash talking your Yankees when I was in Boston and became a Red Sox fan. I remember you used to just laugh and laugh on the phone. God, you put up with a lot! 🙂
Thank you for always being there for my mom and for all of us, especially when times were tough, financially and personally. You left your family behind in Pennsylvania to move to upstate New York to be with us when you could have easily decided not to. Thank you for taking care of my mom when you died, leaving her your house and the security it would provide.
Thank you for having helped shape me into the strong woman I am or try to be, anyway, today. Thank you for always having had that Serenity Prayer on the wall in the kitchen, right next to where we would eat. Those are words I try to remind myself of today when something upsets me – to know the times when something is truly out of my control so that I stop letting it upset me.
I want to thank you for opening your eyes at the end and looking right at me. I remember the tear that fell down your cheek, and I knew you were truly there with me in that moment. I knew you didn’t want to leave me or any of us, but I know you needed to. That’s why I told you “If you have to go, you just go.” I knew you understood what I was saying, and not saying. Thank you for that last gift of special understanding between us. I always felt like we had this amazingly strong bond. We did, didn’t we?
Grandma, I know that some people don’t believe in guardian angels, and if they do exist, that they’re not family members who have gone before you. But I feel like you’re mine. I know you watch out for me. How else can anyone explain the feeling of a hand on my back when I was out for a run once and said aloud, “I think I need a little help.”
I know you visited me in a dream not too long after you died, to give me the message that you were okay. You were in good health. I know it was an actual visit and not just a dream. Otherwise, how could I have felt the way I did when I woke up, and how I feel remembering that, even now?
Thank you for loving me. You made me feel so special. I truly feel that you were my soulmate, and so I know we’ll be together again at one point. Until then, you are always in my heart. I love you.