So here is something I have thought about doing over the years. If I ever get my big girl pants on and decide to travel in an RV or some other form around the US, I would like to see a bunch of national parks. BUT what I ALSO want to do is visit a ton of animal sanctuaries, especially wildlife sanctuaries/rehab facilities. I really enjoyed the time i spent with the Peace River Wildlife Center, and one of the things that i have really liked about living in Florida is the wildlife. It is freaking amazing!!
One of my favorite things to do here at the beach is to watch the pelicans dive bomb for their food from the sky, or fly so low and close to the water that I’m amazed that they don’t get their wings wet while doing it. If you have ever seen a pelican dive, or even if you haven’t, then you will want to check out this video on YouTube: Pelicans Dive Bombing Once they enter the water, they open up their throat pouch, which can hold as much as three GALLONS of water, and catch fish, which they then turn around in their pouch, if need be, to swallow the fish whole, face first.
I watch the sandpipers run up and down the sand, in and out of the path of the waves. I watch the willets near the shoreline. If I’m lucky, I get to see a great egret or snowy egret stalk some prey (ahem, fish). And on the really awesome days, i get to see dolphins. Of all the days I have spent mornings or sunsets at the beach, I have only been lucky to see some jumping out of the water. (I used to think they were playing but have since found out that they do that to be able to see the fish better, or to cover more “ground” than just by swimming.)
The pelicans closest to me (the camera) are juveniles, which you can tell by their coloring on their heads and necks (gray). Toward the middle of the photo and at the back, you will see two with white necks. Those are adults. They don’t get their adult coloring until they reach the age of three.
Anyway, I digress. Anyone who has worked in animal welfare knows it doesn’t pay well. It is a true “labor of love.” One of the last things those folks do have is time to market themselves or publicize their work. Many depend on volunteer labor to get everything done. What I would like to do is travel to these sanctuaries, volunteer if possible, talk to the folks who work there or run them, and then write about them or get their good deeds known to others. Still brainstorming the best ways to do that. TRANSLATION: Anyone have any good ideas about that? (Instagram, YouTube, podcast?) Please comment below!
Hand in hand with this idea is another one that occurred to me while on a recent run. There don’t seem to be a searchable database of these types of organizations/wildlife sanctuaries. I can find some for animal shelters but not wildlife rehabilitation centers or sanctuaries.
The librarian in me will never die — I would love to create something like that for others like me who care about the animals of the world and how we can protect them, donate to help them, or volunteer our labor as well. While I do think I am adept at learning new things, a software engineer or database creator I am not. However I am sure there is someone out there who could help or at least point me in the right direction to get this idea cracking. So if you are reading this blog and know of someone who can assist, even in some small way, with info, ideas etc., PLEASE share this post with them! I know I can create a web page that organizes that info in possibly a table format, etc., but there has to be a better way!
Information I’d like to include about the sanctuaries/rehab facilities would be:
Name of sanctuary
Populations/Species of animals cared for
Information on donating to the sanctuary (via links, posssibly)
Information on volunteering at the sanctuary (via links, possibly)
Information on the mission or vision statement of that sanctuary
Thoughts on the sanctuaries that I do visit as well as links to my writeup/podcast/video, etc., on that sanctuary
Any other ideas any of you might have out there? I know I am not the only person in the world who loves and appreciates wildlife and wants to do whatever they can to help them in these times of climate change and shrinking habitats. I would like to use my talents and skills to do my part. And, I feel like this suits my me more than pursuing a marine biology degree because science and math are truly not my strong suits. I felt like for those few months of school just recently, I was pounding my head against a wall, trying to do something which I am just not naturally suited for. Writing, educating, organizing and speaking are where I excel much more.
What do you think? A worthwhile idea, or am I just crazy??
Clearly, it would take time to develop but over time, little things add up. My thinking is that this adventure of traveling to the sanctuaries could start late 2021.
That is a very good and very loaded question. As you know, I’m back in Florida because the cold in the northeast was too much for me to handle after being away from it for a few years. Apologies in advance if this post seems a bit disjointed but I hope you like the pictures. I’m trying to work through some things that keep bouncing around in my mind. Writing helps to clarify them sometimes. So here goes….
I have been working hard at the legal transcription, working for a few different companies as a 1099. They pay better than the one I have been working with the past year or so. When you type as much as I do, 25 cents/page more can really add up in terms of how much you make every week. So I work hard and I make my deadlines and in so doing, create a good reputation for myself with those folks.
To put it bluntly, they haven’t been great since I left my job at Harvard. Toward the end of my time in Boston, I didn’t have credit cards. When I decided to move to Utah, I got myself one, “just in case.” Dumb move on my part. I now have two cards that are almost maxed out (one only got to that point a month or two ago when my Sophie cost me $3K at the vet when she had to get an MRI.) I owe my roommate about $1K from when we moved in (we owed first, last and security deposit plus an un-refundable pet deposit which really added up.) The credit cards are at 20% and 15%. They are just killing me with the interest.
So I know that some may disagree with this decision, but I have decided to take money out of my retirement to pay it all off. Yes, I know it has long-term consequences. I hate myself for taking from my future self. But with the rate of interest I am paying now, I see this as the best thing to do. My retirement funds aren’t earning 20% per month.
We are also withholding money to handle the tax bill when it comes — borrowing from myself before I’m 59 1/2 means the amount distributed gets imputed to me as income for the year and I also pay a 10% penalty on the amount withdrawn. I have about $212K in retirement right now and am taking a distribution of about $19,900 in total. Living in Florida, I only pay federal income tax, thankfully. So that will help for sure, come tax time. My plan is to then close out the credit cards, one by one. (They’ve been in the freezer for about 6 weeks now.) I will probably keep my Care Credit card just for pet emergencies and even then, I’d rather stab a fork in my eye than have to use it.
Once the cards are paid off, I am going to focus on building up my savings for a few months and then start paying extra on either my car or my private student loan. The car loan is below $2K at this point, and I have a very good interest rate of about 3.9%. My payment is roughly $142/month. The private loan is down to about $8900 and because the rate is variable, it is up to about 5.25% right now. My payment is about $97/month.
My federal loan payments are based on my income, so I pay about $10/month for each one (two total). Yes, the payments are strung out for years and years, but I’m fine with that trade-off because it allows me to live my life. And when I look at how much I have paid back over the years, trust me, the federal government has gotten a lot of money paid back from me — the principal amount borrowed and then A LOT in addition.
I am also starting up a Roth IRA because all of my other retirement savings are what we call tax-deferred, so when I do start taking money out on a regular basis, I’ll get hit with the taxes at that point. With a Roth, I’ve already paid the taxes so distributions later on will be tax free. (If you’re reading this from outside the US, I realize this may not make sense at all. My country is screwed up, what can I say?)
I really don’t spend much money at all, other than on food for myself, my animals, and to put gas in my car. The other day I did buy a yearly parking sticker for Lee County which cost $60, but now I can park at many nature preserves and some beaches and not have to worry about feeding meters. Knowing how much I plan to use these spaces in the upcoming year, I know it’s a good choice for me. I really do love my time spent outside in nature, hearing the birds sing or listening to the wind ruffle through the trees around me, hearing the waves crash onto the shore.
I go to the library a lot to work (when I want to be around people), and to check out books (yes, I still like the hard copy feel in my hands.) So that’s free and doesn’t cost me anything other than the cost of gas to get there. And I don’t go every day because I have my own home office at this duplex and the animals all tend to congregate with me anyway, and that is a super calming feeling.
Living plans for next year:
I do have a roommate and for reasons I won’t go into on here, I know we will be going our separate ways next year when the lease is up. So I’m planning ahead and considering my options. Do I move someplace cheaper and smaller with my animals? Perhaps. Do I somehow buy a trailer and finally pull the cord and do the nomadic thing? Working remotely as a transcriptionist will allow me to do that. But I would likely need to get another vehicle if I do that — one that can tow even a small trailer or a Class B type vehicle.
If it were just me and I didn’t have my furballs to feed and care for, I would be happy with just a small teardrop trailer, honestly. But it’s not just me. There are three, albeit senior, cats to worry about as well as my two small pups. I want them to be comfortable. The cats are approximately 14, 13 and somewhere between 12-15 in age. (With Honey Bun, we’re not totally sure of her age.) Snuggles is roughly 10-12ish and I was told Sophie was 7 last year, but I have my doubts as to the accuracy of that. I think she’s younger.
Being able to work from home, I see what they do all day. They sleep, eat, drink water and poop. Sophie plays with Steel (my roommate’s German Shepherd, on whom I think she has developed a crush; it’s so cute), but even then there’s a whole lot of sleeping going on. Even so, I want them to have enough space to feel comfortable.
However, I don’t want something that is built like crap and gets terrible gas mileage. And let’s be honest, most RVs are built like crap. And I am not a handy person, to say the least. So whatever I go with, I want it to be pretty simple, because let’s face it, I’m a simple person when it comes down to it. I’m considering the Wee Roll campers which are made in Florida, among others. They are lightweight, would allow me to stand up, can have an AC built in (necessary with animals), aluminum, and over-constructed from what I have read about them. I like the sound of all of that.
I have been considering trying to see a lot of national parks. Living in the southwest, although I was far from the ocean, I was able to see some amazing ones, and lived super close to Zion National Park. (It blows my mind to this day how close by I was, and yes, I did take advantage of it.) I have been reading different books about them, and want to really see more of this beautiful country. I’ve never seen the Grand Tetons, or Olympic National Park and the forests near there. I’ve never seen the Badlands. So many different mountain ranges in this country that I’ve never seen, or only seen from the window of a plane.
I want to live simply. I want to see things before I die. I am happy being with myself as my own company. Yes, I sometimes feel lonely, but that happens with everyone. I like my freedom, not having to respond to an invitation to hang out (when it rarely does happen, lol) by saying I have to check with my partner’s schedule first. (Maybe this just means I haven’t met that perfect person for me yet. Who knows?)
And honestly, I feel like I was put on this earth to make an impact, in some way, shape or form. I want to improve at my writing and taking photographs of the landscapes I see around me. I want to share that with others. After having read the book, Before They’re Gone, I want to see different parts of this beautiful country I call home and share it with others, be it through my writing or photography. (The book is about an outdoor writer who takes his family to several national parks over the course of a year and interweaves his thoughts and research about global climate change and its effects on the parks throughout. I highly recommend it.) Mandy Lea Photo has been very inspiring to me in that vein as well. I’ve followed her on YouTube for a long time now.
But I also want to be environmentally conscious, and is my traipsing around everywhere pulling a trailer or driving a Class B or van responsible in that vein? That’s also led me to thinking about living in an intentional community type situation. It’s something I have thought about a lot over the years. Dancing Rabbit is an example of one. However, then I would have to stay in one place, and I need to do some soul searching to see if that’s really the right thing for me to do at this point in my life. Many of them allow visitors (Dancing Rabbit even has a visitor program or internship program set up), to allow people to see if it really is a good fit for them or not.
So I hope that will happen next year, but if I need a bit more time to do it in a financially stable way, I will take that time if needed. I’ve made some rash decisions these past few years and they have cost me financially.
I’m still trying to find my way, folks. I wish I had all the answers. But then, I wouldn’t have challenges or self-discovery to work through and life would be boring, right?
It’s all about the journey, right? Thanks for reading, and especially for sticking with me if you are a longtime reader. I’m working back to writing more regularly.
*Disclosure: some of the links in this post may be affiliate links.
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 know it’s been a few weeks since I last posted. It’s been a crazy three weeks, so I just wanted to take a minute to let you know I’m still alive, and yes, this blog still matters a lot to me.
I’ve been working full time at the animal hospital, as you know. I’ve also been doing a lot of legal transcription work which is always good for the checking account balance. School has taken some of my time as well.
Oh, and looking to move to another part of the country – that does take some time too! So all I will say at this point is that I am going out of town for the next few days for, wait for it…. a job interview!!
It’s been hard to concentrate on much more than my excitement about this trip and this potential job. If I get it, I will be in a place that is warm year round, lush with greenness all around me! But best of all, I will get to work with homeless animals. I will get to care for them directly and work at getting them adopted! I seriously can’t wait!!
It is definitely more expensive to live in this other location, so I’ve been busy looking online, trying to figure out what I could afford if they do like me enough to offer me the job. An RV is not out of the question, so of course I’ve been researching that a ton. A studio would be the least complicated way to go, but of course, there is the question of my pets. It would be me, Snuggles, and the three cats. Morgan is going to stay with my roommate because they are a match made in heaven and he can give her more attention than I can. Plus, she just simply ADORES him.
So stay with me folks, even though I have not posted much the past few weeks. I promise, I have not forgotten about this blog. In fact, I’ve been reading through some of my old posts and trying to figure out how to work with some of the underlying themes of those posts and kind of shape them into chapters for my memoir that I’m working on for my writing course. 🙂
And, wish me luck!!!!! I get a good feeling about these folks. By the way, the photo above is my hint to you as to an area close to where I will be this week.
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.
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.
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.