When I interviewed for the Humane Education program, the director asked me how I would deal with coping with some of the information I would learn about. How would I keep my spirits up when some of what I will read and see is the sort of thing that most people would turn their eyes away from, like the ASPCA commercial that has Sarah McLachlan’s song, “Angel” playing in the background?
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 Vegan and her 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!
Image from pixabay.com
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.
Image from pixabay.com
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.
I had a conversation with my sister today that has made me think about death and dying, and saying goodbye. She told me she listens to this song below and it never fails to remind her of our grandmother. So, I’d like to share this video with you, as it has really touched me to my core. The song is Supermarket Flowers, by Ed Sheeran.
Remembering my Grandma and Grandma Helen
My best friend back in Boston is basically a younger sister to me. Her family treated me as one of them, and they were the hardest thing for me to leave behind in Boston. Her grandmother died last week. She was 98. When I heard that she was expected to only live for about a week, it brought me back to the last week of my grandmother’s life. Both of them, I think, made up their minds when they were ready to go. For my grandmother, it was that she had a DNR, and didn’t want to be kept alive on a feeding tube after her major heart attack and stroke.
For Sarita’s grandmother, she refused to take antibiotics again. Sarita told me that lately she had gone from being sick, taking antibiotics and getting better, to needing them again, and it was just a cycle over and over. Sarita thinks she had had enough and was ready to go be with her grandpa. I am very grateful that when Grandma Helen died, it was peaceful and in her sleep. That was best for her and her family. Sarita had lived with her for the past six years. I envy her for that time she was able to spend with her, even if at times, she did drive her crazy. The people we love have a tendency to do that, don’t they? I think I used to surprise Grandma Helen when I would go to hug her before I would leave, but it just felt natural to do it. So, I did.
I know my grandma was ready at the end. I also firmly believe I was not the only presence in the room with her during those last 24 hours. My sister was also there for a good portion of the time, and had my (now 17) nephew with her. My grandma slept a lot for those last few days, but I do remember this moment when my sister put Sean onto my grandmother’s lap. He was just shy of his first birthday at the time.
Sean reached out and touched my grandma’s hand, and she reacted back to him. It’s hard to put into words how I felt, seeing that. It was like something other worldly took place in that exchange. She had been asleep before that. But I remember the look of peace on both of their faces. My nephew, of course, doesn’t remember it, but I do. And I always will. I know how proud my grandma was of him. He was her first great-grandchild. I’m so sad that she was never able to meet Jack and Katie, but something tells me that she knows of them now. I know her heart would burst with pride if she could see how all of them are turning out.
There were moments during those last twenty-four hours when I know she was looking over my head at someone or something. Her eyes were quite focused, and she tried to speak. I knew then and now that she wasn’t talking to me. And that was okay with me then and it is now. I know at the very end, her eyes were focused on me. I know she heard me when I told her that if she needed to go, she should just go. I knew she would be at peace. And I know she understood me, that I was saying she should go be with my grandpa and her family, especially her sister Helen who had died so many years before. (There’s that name again. Helen.)
My dad is in the Boston area now. He’s 81. He’s never taken good care of his body, so he has some liver issues, Parkinson’s, skin cancer issues in the past, and dementia or Alzheimer’s.
I was primarily raised by my mom since I was eight. My parents split. I’m not angry at either of them. It’s just I don’t really feel much toward my dad. He’s not a bad person. We just have never had much of a relationship. I don’t blame him. I don’t blame me. It is what it is.
My older brother Eric has been his primary caretaker for the past few years. He handles his finances and everything. It also takes a toll on my sister-in-law, Judi. Eric emailed all of us with an update on our dad, and it involves him being moved to a long-term care facility. He said he’s lost a lot of weight, and that it has been decided to put him on comfort care. Without him even having to say it, I know what this means. It’s probably not long, although my dad being as stubborn as a mule, he might just surprise us all and live for a lot longer. (Even when my parents were together, doctors were saying if he continued living, eating and smoking as he did, he wouldn’t live another ten years. Well, I’m 45 now, so you do the math. They were clearly wrong.) My brother said he could understand if we didn’t come, but that if we wanted to, this might be a good time.
It’s weird but I don’t feel much when hearing all of this. I’m not sad, or regretful or angry. It just is what it is. Unlike my siblings, I have never really yearned for a relationship with my dad. I’ve never felt like I missed anything, other than when I hear my friends like Sarita talk about their dads.
My dad is not a bad person. He wasn’t perfect then or now, but no one is. I just know that if I will head back to Boston at some point, it will be when he’s gone. And I will go because of my siblings. I know they will need the support.
Maybe a part of me is dead inside, but it’s how I feel. I didn’t say goodbye to my dad, really, when I left Boston 2 1/2 years ago. I figured with his mental acuity diminishing at that time, he might not even realize I was gone. Possibly I tell myself this because it makes me feel less guilty for not having acted like a better daughter in that way. But it’s also in the past and there’s nothing I can do to change that.
Do I fear I will regret not going home now to say goodbye? I don’t think so. Maybe I will get his number at the new facility and give him a call. If I do, I know it will be awkward and strained. Somewhat forced, like in a way, I am talking to a stranger, because even though we are related by blood, we don’t really know each other well, and never really have, when it comes down to it. Again, I’m not assigning blame. Just saying it like it is.
Lily and Stinky
It is hard to explain the pit that I feel in my heart when an animal dies, either in a documentary, or in a story I’ve just read (such as the short story, “Meat,” by C.S. Malerich, in Among Animals, a compilation of short stories published by Ashland Creek Press.) It brings tears to my eyes. I have a tightness in my throat. It compels me to ask “WHY??”
This week, I was mentally drained on two occasions. Stinky was a rottweiler whose owners couldn’t afford to really care for him the way he needed to be cared for. He was four years old and completely blind, from what, we didn’t really know. But he was euthanized. Before his owners made that decision, he and I bonked heads/faces together and I bled a little. That’s not what bothered me, not by a long shot. What bothered me is that his owners didn’t stay with him for the procedure, and that because of his accident with me, I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold him and tell him what a good boy he was while the doctors gave him the life-ending injections. So, my boss volunteered to be with him. I was and am so grateful to her for that.
Lily was a gorgeous 11 year old border collie mix. After having gone through a lot of testing, it was found that she had a large mass on her liver. I’m not sure what the care for that would entailed, but her owner decided to have her euthanized. He was very shaken up and couldn’t be with her at the end. So, I told him I would, and I’m super grateful to my co-workers who allowed me the time away from the desk to do so. I held her head in my right hand and with my left kept stroking her incredibly soft long fur and kissed her head on the head a lot and told her what a good girl she was. I told her she might see a little white chihuahua soon and that her name was Osito, and that she could play with her and all of my other babies up at the Rainbow Bridge. As with my grandmother, I saw the light go out of her eyes at the end.
I know Lily had an idea what was happening when I took her back to the treatment area without her dad and removed her collar and leash for him. Whereas before she seemed to be smiling with all the attention she was getting from the nurses as they shaved some fur in order to place the catheter, she seemed much more subdued. She didn’t struggle when I held her and she seemed to just accept it. I was very glad it was quick and peaceful. And I was very glad that the doctor let me hold her in my arms. Because no animal should ever have to die alone, without someone telling them that they are loved. Ever.
Many people say they don’t know that they could do something like that. I think you find out what you are capable of when the situation calls for it. All I know is, I do it because I HAVE to. It’s not part of my job description. I just can’t stomach the idea of them dying without being loved at the same time.
I know this post has been much longer than most of mine are, so I thank you for sticking with me all the way to the end. I needed to put this out there. If you think it can help someone else, please do share it. If you have any thoughts on any of this, please feel free to comment below.
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:
+ Regular Savings: $2141
Grand total: $211,371
And then, of course, there are the liabilities. (Luckily, my savings as noted above is larger than the liabilities.) I just received my student loan refund check today and I decided to wipe out my credit card debt with it. Six percent interest vs. 18 percent interest, that’s why I made that move. And the credit cards are in the freezer.
I plan to pay off my overdraft on my checking account and then call them and have them deactivate it. The credit line is only for $500 but it’s $500 I don’t want to have hanging over my head, at 11%. No more revolving line of credit for me after the overdraft is taken care of.
I think that the second student loan refund from yesterday is what is stressing me out at the moment. The idea that I am taking on even more debt. I know, I know, many of you commented on this last summer when I considered going for the degree in humane education. And believe me, I was aware of the numbers. And I am now as well. I wonder to myself, should I continue on past this semester? I finally feel like I’ve met some members of my tribe, but at what financial cost?
My friend Dan says that instead of concentrating on changing the world, I should concentrate on changing my neighborhood. That’s his way of being like my grandma when she used to counsel and calm me — trying to get me to not think of everything all at one time.
I think what he is saying is I need to remember the ripple effect. When you make one small change, that has an effect on other things, and they in turn, have an effect on other things, and before long, the total effect is huge.
I need to work on one thing at a time. Work through my day one hour at a time, much like I did when I was recovering from my divorce.
But what I really need to do is figure out what is my gift to this world.
If you’re wondering what I mean by “my gift,” you might want to watch this video below, by Sustainable Human. He starts talking about your gift, or life energy around the halfway point.
Simply put, I NEED to figure out why I’m here on this earth. And how to give it back. Until then, I don’t think I will always feel comfortable in my own skin.
What do you think is your gift to this world? Please share your comments in the thoughts below. And if you’ve liked anything about this post, please share it with someone else.
As always, thanks for reading.
There is no better way to describe how I have felt the last couple days other than to use the term, “crud.” Seriously, this crap has been going around ABQ now for the past few months and especially around my animal hospital. We get very few sick days per year, so as a result, people come in when they are feeling less than their best. With my department, we are constantly shifting around from one computer to another, so the passage of germs is pretty rampant, no matter how clean and antiseptic we try to keep the place.
It’s just getting annoying. I have been sick now at least twice this winter, and it’s only January. I never used to get sick like this, even at Harvard where we shared the computers at the reference desk. I don’t know what it is. And this cold has been weird. It started in my chest, unlike the normal route which is via the head, wanting me to shoot my head off from the pressure, the draining of the nose back and forth all night, leading to no sleep, and then that oh so sexy voice you get when the frog lands in your throat. No, this one started with the cough, which I am sorry to say, is still here with me as we speak. But yesterday, the nose started running like, yes, a faucet, if I may use a cliche. Consequently, my sleep last night was less than stellar. I had to keep turning from side to side so I could breathe.
On Sunday, I asked two of our intern doctors if I sounded sexy, and they said I sounded like my male co-worker from whom I got this lovely bug. I’m positive I sounded sexy as hell on the PA system. I only lasted 6 hours of my shift, and then threw in the towel. Enough was enough. I drove home in a daze until i got to CVS where I could buy sore throat spray, Ricola throat drops, and some awesome Mucinex DM. (Seriously, Mucinex is the BOMB!)
I’ve been getting a lot of sleep, coughing up a bunch of yellow/green stuff (appetizing, isn’t it?) and trying to not make my nose sting when I apply moisturizer to my face. (You all know what your nose feels like when you’ve used about half a box of tissues w/lotion on them on it, right?) And trying to not think about the fact that I will be using a precious vacation day for one of these days I have spent at home.
So yeah, um, if this crud that has taken up residence in ABQ this past winter, could just go on a vacation, that would be great, okay? Thanks. It’s hard to think about achieving your dreams when all you want is for the wheezing in your chest to stop.
Thankfully, I have my Snuggles next to me at night, snoring away, his head sharing the same pillow with me. (We’re so cute when we cuddle like that, it’s ridiculous. If you don’t believe me, ask my roommate.) For those of you who are new to the blog, check out my page, The Herd, and you’ll see a pic of him there. Because he’s the newest member, you have to scroll all the way to the bottom. (And since there’s no other way to categorize this post, I think I’ll lump it under “Gratitude” because I’ve been able to snuggle next to him a lot these past few days.)
Here’s hoping that all of you out there don’t get sick this winter, and if you do, that it doesn’t last long. Take lots of cold–eeze once you feel it coming on, that’s my advice. And Mucinex, even if it’s just a little sniffle. (Don’t worry, the store brand of Mucinex works just as well.)
Do any of you have some sure-fire ways to fight colds when you feel them coming on? If so, share them below! We can all learn something from each other!
As always, thanks for reading.
The above image is what most of us would like to think is how most cows live. Unfortunately, it’s not.
I spent most of my afternoon watching different videos for my Animal Protection class, and one of them was the 2005 film, Earthlings, which you can watch for free by clicking here. (I must warn you, the film has graphic images. The first link goes to the Wikipedia description.) If you watch it, I can guarantee you will be changed as a person. I cannot believe what some humans are capable of doing to another living creature. I really can’t.
Now, I know that telling people all the things that they are doing wrong will just result in their tuning you out. So I’m not going to do that. But I will say that it caused me to rethink the cavalier way that I sometimes react when I really want a cookie and it might have been made with eggs. “Oh, it’s vegan today!” I sometimes say. Crunch, crunch.
Well, no more. The images from that movie are seared into my brain.
Chickens crammed into cages so tightly they can’t even move or stretch out their wings. Dairy cows unable to move from their milking area all day long, pumped full with antibiotics and pesticides so that they will produce more milk, having had their babies ripped away from them on the very first day of their lives. The slaughter scenes are what really did me in, as I knew they would. (I’d already known what happens in those buildings but seeing it again is something else.)
Another thing. In the past, I thought I could be in a relationship with someone even if they ate meat. I don’t think that I could do that, going forward. If I were dating someone, and they sat down across from me at the table and started to eat a raw steak, I think it would be nearly impossible to not imagine a cow being slaughtered and the immense pain it suffers from how it’s treated. I would hear its cries as my partner munched away. And I really don’t think I can do that again.
I choose to no longer be a speciest.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, speciesm is defined as the following:
Definition of speciesism1: prejudice or discrimination based on species; especially : discrimination against animals2: the assumption of human superiority on which speciesism is based
Humans are the one species on this earth that inflict pain just to inflict pain. No other species does that.
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.