All I want (Read: Inner Conflict)

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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.

As always, thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

ABQ Crud, you need to leave town. Like, now.

germ-303979_640.pngThere 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.

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Embarrassed to be a human sometimes

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image from pixabay.com

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 speciesism

1prejudice or discrimination based on speciesespecially discrimination against animals
2the assumption of human superiority on which speciesism is based
When I was eating meat and using dairy, I was being a speciest without even knowing it.  I was raised to think that eating meat (even veal) was just something everyone did.  Animals were put on this earth to make our lives easier.
I’m not condemning others who eat meat.  But I do think that more people should step out of their comfort zones, and open their eyes to the suffering that goes on every day with so many thousands of animals who are raised for purposes of our food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research.  I no longer accept the phrase “Yeah, I’m good.  I don’t want to know,” as being a valid excuse.  In this day and age, we have so much information at our fingertips.

It may sound like I might be going to too much of an extreme in saying I can’t be with someone who eats meat.  However, I realized today, watching that movie and holding Snuggles closely to me, my animals are all I need.  I don’t need a romantic relationship in my life to make me feel complete.  A few very good friends, located near or far, are enough for me.
A line in the film really stuck with me.
Humans are the one species on this earth that inflict pain just to inflict pain.  No other species does that.
Animals may inflict pain on one another but it’s for survival reasons.   The predator kills and eats his/her prey.
Humans have so many other choices for food and clothes.  We don’t need to kill an animal just so we can have the newest “cute” handbag or “sexy” boots or softest fur coat.  We have so many other options.  The only vitamin a vegan needs to take in order to supplement their diet is B12.  The rest can come from foods that don’t include dairy or meat.
I will add links to some of the other videos I watched to my animal rights page of this blog in the near future.
If you’d like to leave a comment below, please do so.  If someone else’s comment goes against what you believe in or think, please respond in an above-board way.  A healthy exchange of ideas is best.
As always, thank you for reading.

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Keep paddling, keep paddling, keep paddling, don’t stop.

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!!)

Self-Care:

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:

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??

Reviewing Books:

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!!!

Vegan-owned? Check!
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.

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If you need to shop online, I’d greatly appreciate it if you use my Amazon affiliate links or Ebates referral link! Every little bit helps, and it costs you nothing to do so. Thank you!

 

Light at the end of the tunnel

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Guess what?  I’m going to Florida!!!! After my post the other day in which I mentioned the APHE (Association of Professional Humane Educators) conference in Orlando, a good friend of mine who shall remain anonymous offered to buy my plane ticket with airline miles he couldn’t use and that were set to expire soon.  So I’m going!!

I choose to take this offer as a sign of good karma and accepted his help.  It’s hard for me to accept help, but I know this conference can help me help others — the furry ones who can’t talk in the same language we all use.  I had already asked off for the time at work, just in case I could figure out a way to afford all of it.  So I’m going!! (And yes, I know that is like the third time I’ve said that so far, LOL.)

I am hoping to meet a lot of people at the conference and also check out some of the sanctuaries and shelters, of which there are many.  I have some friends in Sarasota I am going to reach out to and see if we can finally meet in person after having been online friends for over 7 years.  (Seriously, it’s amazing the friends you can meet via blogging or twitter, etc.)  And if time permits, maybe check out some locations where I might consider moving to if things work out.

Transcribing:

I have been busy doing some transcribing for my friend Elaine, and finished up testing with one company called Transcribe for Everyone, based out of Israel.  They seem pretty well-organized, even send out a newsletter to their contractors on a weekly basis. I now need to go through their online training and then I can start getting some paid work.  I will be part of their legal team.

I might have mentioned I paid for a course on freelance writing with Kristin Wong.  Well, she asked me to do some transcribing for her last week, which I gladly accepted.  Also, I’m in the assessment process with two other companies, so will be working on that this weekend, along with some schoolwork.  So hopefully soon, my money situation will really improve.

By the way, transcribing is about more than just being able to type fast.  You have to have the right tools, and you need to be able to concentrate very well, and follow guidelines for consistency and to please the client.  You have to be willing to look up terms you’ve never heard before.  Finally, it’s a great way to learn about new topics to which you might not otherwise be introduced.

Engaging in self-care

After my last post, a lot of folks mentioned self-care to me, both here on the blog and on facebook.  So I made sure to go to the gym the past two days, where I have been riding the exercise bike, doing about 12-13 miles on high resistance.  Takes me about 45-46 minutes and I am a sweaty mess afterward, but it feels good.  I am also reading The Year of Less by Cait Flanders, which just came out (I pre-ordered it.)  She is one of my favorite bloggers and podcasters, and now authors!!

Pushing myself, but why?

A friend of mine who wanted me to come over and hang out last night (which I couldn’t because I was exhausted) commented that I want to have a minimalistic life but I seem to hustle a lot.  At first, I thought he was criticizing me.  My response was that “Well, I’m not happy with my life, and I don’t want to be one of those people who moans and groans about it, but doesn’t change any habits, and expects things to change.”

I realize I am fortunate enough to be able to make changes to my life when I feel the need.  Yes, a lot of people do complain about their lives.  A lot of them have families to worry about.  I don’t.  But I feel like, if you’re unhappy, to the extent you can make changes,  you should.

“Nothing in your life is going to change just by wishing it to be so.”

And in case you’re wondering, no, I don’t like working all the time.  I mean, really, does anyone??   But I don’t see this as happening forever.  Transcribing work can be up and down, so when you get it, and have the time, you take it.   Developing my writing will be a lifelong pursuit. Educating myself about humane education issues will be too.

“Once you open your eyes to a lot of what is happening around you, be it with environmental issues, or animal welfare issues, it’s impossible to shut them again.”

I would like to thank everyone, especially my friend who generously donated his airline miles to me, for caring about me and writing me words of encouragement over the past few days.  Some of your notes and comments brought tears to my eyes when I read them.  Thoughts like those keep me going on the days when I really question myself, when the doubts creep in.  In fact, the title of this post came from a good friend who commented that it seemed like I was in a dark tunnel, but I would soon find my way out.  It’s kind of like when you are having a crappy run that you keep pushing yourself through, because you know a good one is soon to come.

And now, I’m getting ready to head to the gym for a bit this am.  As always, thank you for reading, and please share this post if you think someone can benefit from reading it.

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If you need to shop online, I’d greatly appreciate it if you use my Amazon affiliate links or Ebates referral link! Every little bit helps, and it costs you nothing to do so. Thank you!

 

Chasing your dreams, even simple ones, can be difficult sometimes

 

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Image via pixabay.com

I just found out the other day via LinkedIn that a former coworker of mine just left Harvard Law to take a new position at another university, and from the sound of her title, it sounds pretty high up there.  I’m sure the salary corresponds to it well.  This person is a very smart cookie and knows how to negotiate.  (It was only after she got hired there several years ago that myself and another coworker were then given substantial raises in salary (ahem, readjustments.))

Why do I even mention this?  Because it made me feel kind of crappy.  I mean, I was happy for her.  She has always been a very hard worker and an excellent librarian.  She manages working full time with twins and has since had another baby.  And now she has this big-time sounding job. And here I am, scrimping to get by on just under $25K per year, not counting in my freelance work.  It made me question myself.

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Image via pixabay.com

Experiencing Compassion Fatigue and Feeling Burnt Out:

I think I have begun experiencing what they refer to as compassion fatigue.  Receiving multiple calls, day after day, from people who have just adopted a pet but can’t afford to take care of them, can really get to you.  Getting a call in which someone says “my pet just got hit by a car, but I don’t get paid until next week,” is really rough.  I’d love to say to them, “I can help you pay for that,” but the reality is that on $12.50/hour, it’s just not possible.  I have my own bills to take care of.

I’m taking a class in Animal Protection this semester.  I’m going to have some hard emotions to work through.  I already know that.  When I read about factory farmed animals, I experience physiological changes.  I feel it in my heart and in my throat.  I want to yell, scream, or hit something. (Not my pets, of course.  They actually help calm me down.)

The film Earthlings is assigned for us at one point.  (That link goes to the Wikipedia description of the film.)  The teacher has made it clear in the syllabus that we have the option to not watch it.  I haven’t yet figured out if I will or not.  I don’t want to have nightmares as a result, but in learning to be a humane educator, a part of me feels it’s necessary to bear witness to what is going on in this world so I can better advocate and educate humans for those who can’t speak.

Did I also mention that I have been trying to find extra side work with a few transcribing companies?  I have, and going through the assessment process can be somewhat stressful.  But the good news is, this morning I found out from one that they would like to work with me.

Stressing about finding a job in my field or determining what that field is:

In addition to feeling a bit burn out, I’ve been starting to feel a bit down about finding a job that really makes me feel like I’m making a difference and having the funds to make a move sooner rather than later.  (I’d like it to be in the next year or two.)  I spent some time talking/texting with my friend Dan, and applied to be a member of the APHE (Association of Professional Humane Educators) so that I could start networking with others in the field.  My application is currently pending.

They (the APHE) are hosting a conference this March in Orlando, Florida so I’m considering going, but it would be a substantial financial investment for someone at my income level.  And while I like meeting people, and can be extroverted at times, I hate the idea of schmoozing.  I’m just not a schmoozer.  Makes me nauseous when I see others doing it, and my past experiences at conferences showed me that a lot of that goes on.  I hope this field is different, though. So I will let you know if I decide to go.

All of these reasons are why I haven’t posted in about a week.  I just didn’t feel I had anything positive to say, and you know what they say – if you don’t have anything good to say, best to say nothing at all.  It could be the cold weather we have here in ABQ, or the fact that it’s winter, or the fact that payday is still two days away, but I’ve been feeling a bit down.  I’m working through it the best I can.  And trying to get enough sleep.  But nothing is a miracle cure.

Change in my personal life:

Oh, and I broke up with the Canadian boyfriend a few weeks ago.  I’m sure that having that in the background of my mind doesn’t help.  We still talk occasionally.   I know it’s for the better but I think subconsciously, it brings back some feelings I experienced when I left my marriage.  That fear of being alone for the rest of your life and wondering if there’s something wrong with you.  However, truth is, I think I’m not in the right head space or life space to be in a relationship right now.  Not when I’m trying to figure out a lot of things.

I hope you are all doing well, despite the cold and heavy snowfall a lot of the country has been experiencing lately.  Please drop me a line and let me know how things are going for you, or if you’ve felt down at times, and what you’ve done to pull yourself out of it.  Or share this post with someone you think would appreciate or benefit from it.  And as always, thanks for reading.

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If you need to shop online, I’d greatly appreciate it if you use my Amazon affiliate links or Ebates referral link! Every little bit helps, and it costs you nothing to do so. Thank you!

One of those days

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Image from pixabay.com.  It came up in a search for images related to “resignation.” 🙂

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.

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Just being brutally honest

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Image from pixabay.com

Since taking a good hard look at my finances the other day, and seeing that my money is so tight, I’ve highly felt the need to earn some extra income.   And cut my expenses even more, if that’s even possible.

I won’t lie to  you. I felt moments of sheer panic.  Moments when I could feel my breath becoming shallow.  And wondering if I would ever be able to move someplace near the water and even afford $600/month again for rent, or even a tiny house mortgage?

I also felt anger at myself for not being able to afford a simple one bedroom apartment on my own.  Me, the one with the law degree and the master’s in library science now working on yet another degree.  How is it I’m only making $24,000??? What is WRONG with me and why did I throw so much away?? WHAT WAS I THINKING?

So, I’m here to tell  you that while yes, it’s important to follow or “chase” your dreams,  it is not always easy.  My life and apartment look nothing like those Instagram photos that people like to share where they always wake up near a gorgeous sunrise and everything is all hunky-dory.

I’m still using those plastic drawers for my clothes I had in my RV.  I have book crates that I use as book cases and as the base for my bed which has a mattress on it from Walmart that I bought for a whopping $129 and because it could be easily shipped to my house, and unrolled from the box and voila, a bed is born!  Oh, have I mentioned my bed is in the living room which is now mainly my bedroom? (By the way, the mattress works just fine.  No need for me to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars.)

I’m 45. This is definitely NOT how I thought I would be living my life 20 years ago.  Not even 10 years ago, or even when my marriage ended.  But then again, back then, I was anything but honest with myself.

So, back to those moments of panic I was feeling.  They were combined with feelings of anxiousness at wanting to do so many things at one time to get myself into a better financial position.  Should I apply to all the transcription companies I can find? Should I apply to be a transcription editor?  (So far I’ve heard back from the three I applied to, and they’re interested in going further through the process of me.)   Should I spend the $199 for the freelance writing course I just heard about from one of my favorite YouTubers, Kristin Wong, as an investment in my future goals of wanting to create income through my writing?  (Here is her YouTube channel.)

And if I do get multiple positions for transcribing, and I start writing and submitting to places, and I’m still going through the humane education program, HOW CAN I POSSIBLY DO IT ALL? Will I have time to sleep?

And what if I’m just kidding myself?  What if I never get published anywhere, and my writing actually sucks?  Oh, sure, I can talk a good game sometimes about how I want to derive more of my income from writing and transcription jobs, when push comes to shove, and I sit down and try to write for anything other than this blog, I get scared and all that negative self-talk finds its way to occupy center stage in my mind?  I know some REALLY GOOD writers who struggle to make ends meet.  How could I dare to think I might have any better luck than them?

Do you see the spiraling that was occurring in my mind? I do, looking at it now.  And I started to feel it then, and caught myself staring off into space, trying to figure it all out.  The good thing is, I recognized it for what it was.  Panic.  And I forced myself to breathe.  And then I pulled out my journal.

To calm myself, I forced myself to write down three questions, all having the word FOCUS being written in all caps.

  1.  FOCUS – What  am I good at?
  2.  FOCUS – What do I like to do?
  3.  FOCUS – What am I unhappy about with my life right now?

Yes, that third question can quite possibly grow out of control if I let it.  But I felt like the first two were more positive and might help me figure out my way of dealing with what gets listed under the third.  Below is what I came up with at that time.

What am I good at? 

Writing, proofreading, transcribing, research

What do I like to do? 

Write, color, be outside in nature, exercise, spend time with my animals, read/edit other people’s work, research, read, teach others

I noticed that the word write/writing was in both categories, as was the word “research.”  It shouldn’t have come as a surprise considering it’s what I loved about being an English major in college – writing.  It is what got me through law school – writing for and getting published by the Environmental Law Journal, and all that research that went along with it.  It’s what kept me in my job as a librarian for so many years – my love of research.  The hunt and the thrill of finding something you thought might just be impossible to uncover.  (And it’s what I miss now.)

And that’s when I thought to myself, “You’ve always been a hard worker.  When push comes to shove, you get out there and work your ass off, just like your mom.  You CAN and WILL change your life, your location.  It might not happen overnight.  But you WILL find a way.”

So, I’m trying.  I’m trying to get that extra work.  I did sign up for the writing course because I’d like to learn from someone who has been successful in the world of freelance writing.  I am going through the assessment process for a few transcription companies and I’m going to apply for a proofreading (independent contractor) position this week.  And when school starts, I will do my best to keep it all together.  And I WILL make enough money to live on like a normal person! 🙂

Eventually, I WILL live near the coast in a warmer climate than Boston!

So when you start to feel overwhelmed, like I did, just take a moment and stop yourself. Start writing down things that are going through your mind. FOCUS.  And see the commonalities.  And then, instead of just moaning and groaning about how you don’t like your present situation, take one step.  Just start doing SOMETHING to change your situation.  YOU will have taken control.  Not your anxiety or your fears.  YOU.

I hope this post can help someone else as it’s been cathartic for me to write it. Please hit the like button, or subscribe to my blog, comment below or share it with someone it might help.  And, thank you, as always, for reading!

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Let’s Talk Money, Shall We?

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Don’t you just wish money really DID grow on trees?  (Image from pixabay.com)

And why am I bringing this up?  Well, I looked to see what the stats were on some of my blog posts over the years, and lo and behold, it seems like the ones where I talk about money or some other personal finance topic, tend to get the most views.  Is it because we have this voyeuristic impulse to find out what others are doing when it comes to money?  Do we think someone else has the secret key to unlocking all the answers to the problems we’ve experienced or hesitations we feel about money?

I know I’m always willing to talk about money and I’m fine with discussing some of my details on here.  But I know people who would rather have hot lava poured onto them than to do so.  Hell, I’m even related to some people like that.  They’ve just never felt comfortable discussing it, and I think it’s partly in the way that they were brought up.  That’s okay, I won’t judge them and I know they don’t judge me.

I was brought up by a single mom that was pretty open when it came to money.  We didn’t have a lot of it, and we didn’t pretend we did.  In fact, I remember ducking down to the floor of the car on several occasions as I was mortified to have anyone I knew possibly drive by and see my car pulled over to the curb so my mom could check out what someone else was getting rid of.   Nowadays, I think doing that is cool, because you never know what you might find! As they say, one woman’s trash is another woman’s  treasure….

So here’s some numbers from me.  When I was a librarian, living in a big city, I made over $84K/year.  These days, I live in another city but make roughly $24K per year, not counting my freelance work. Back in Boston, I paid $1100 in rent for a studio.  Here, my roomie and I split $550/month for a one bedroom apartment with a fenced in yard and half of a two car garage.  Oh, and I am saving 7% of my meager salary into a 401(k) and $100/paycheck divided among a few accounts.

Here’s a look at my average monthly expenses, with a disclaimer that our gas bill will definitely be higher this month due to heating costs, and our last electric bill was around $140 since we erroneously thought using two space heaters would be cheaper than paying for heat via the furnace. D’oh!

Rent = $550 (split by two) so $275
Electric = $33 (split by two), so $16.50
Gas (household) = $27 (split by two), so $13.50
Private student loan = 162.11
Car loan = $141.42
Internet = $47.23 (but my roommate is paying for all of it via his going back to school through the GI Bill), so $0 for me after reimbursement
Gas (auto) = $50 (only tend to gas up 2-3 times/month)
Food = $200 – ish (this has definitely fluctuated)
Entertainment (eating out, etc., and yes, it includes coloring books and materials) = $40
Car Insurance = $60
Renter’s Insurance = $20
Savings for Travel = $50
Savings for Emergency Fund = $70
Two Credit Cards = $120
Cell Phone (Cricket Wireless) =  $35

TOTAL = $1253.53

Take Home Pay for One Month (we get paid bi-weekly) = $1356.78 (after taxes, 401(k) and insurance deductions)

Full disclosure:  These expense numbers don’t include my vet bill at work which is about $1200 at this time because I plan on paying it off I get my student loan money for the semester.  My work charges 18% interest (ridiculous since we work there), and the student loan will be at 6%.  I will also use some of the excess to pay off the credit cards, because again, the interest rate is much lower.  Then I’ll pay the accruing interest on the student loan and not use the credit cards.  Into the freezer they will go!

Looking at the nunbers, you will notice that there is a bit of wiggle room.  That wiggle room will help me when it comes time to pay our heat bill.  And when it’s not working to pay bills, into the savings it goes!  And two months per year, we get that bonus third paycheck which I will use to pay down debt (or go into the tiny home/condo fund.)  Editor’s note — oh wait!! I forgot my pet food expenses!!   They barely have me breaking even!!  Yep, not so much wiggle room left over.  So that tells me that I need to keep a better handle on where my money is going.  I’ve started writing in my planner at night what I spent during the day. 

In case  you are wondering, my other federal loans are currently in deferment while I’m in the master’s program and when I start paying on them again, it’ll be at the IBR (Income Based Repayment) rate, since I know I will never be able to pay them completely off unless I were to go back to my same job at Harvard as I had in 2015.  Yes, I will end up paying them for 25 more years, but the amount of my monthly payment will vary depending on my income, and at the end of that time period, the amount unpaid will be written off.

WARNING — SIDE TANGENT:  Some of you might get upset at the idea of my loans eventually being written off.  But here’s the thing.  I have paid back those federal loans’ principal balance AND THEN SOME over the past two or so years.  I really have.  And the balance has barely moved.  Paying again for the next twenty five or so years – trust me — they WILL get THOUSANDS more out of me before then! So, in my mind, I will have paid and paid and paid them some more when it’s all over and done.  I just don’t want to be paying and receiving social security at the same time.  (Of course, assuming social security still exists by the time I get to that ripe old age.)

OKAY, SIDE TANGENT/RANT OVER.

My roommate is in the process of paying me back for a few months over the past year when I was carrying the expenses for both of us. So, as he pays me, I’m paying off my debts or putting the money into savings where/when I can.  (And no, I don’t feel comfortable sharing that amount on here because it’s a debt of someone else’s, not mine.  I don’t think he’d be comfortable with my sharing that.)

My roomie and I live pretty frugally.  Mainly our entertainment is watching movies/YouTube videos or taking the dogs for walks in the Bosque, and in my case, reading and coloring. And writing here (and soon, again, for school), or in my journal or elsewhere.  Things that don’t cost much in terms of money.

I wish I had known when I made so much more money, what I know now.  I speak for a lot of us when I say that, don’t I? 

I can’t beat myself up for the money mistakes I’ve made.  All I can do is learn from them,  listen to my heart and follow my priorities.  I share my mistakes and financial numbers on this blog so that hopefully they can help someone else in some way.  Maybe you’ll feel better about your salary when you see how low mine is.  Maybe it will help you to see areas where you can cut out expenses you really don’t need.

Or, maybe you will feel sorry for me or disgusted at the thought that I could have thrown away such a good paying job.  I hope that last sentence isn’t the case.  I don’t want pity.  And if you are disgusted by it, maybe take a look inward and try to figure out why you are having that reaction.  My experience as a librarian at Harvard Law will always have value for me in so many ways.  I just no longer felt that it and Boston were right for me. (And seeing the winter blizzard and freezing cold that they have right now, well, I just shudder at the thought of experiencing that again!)

This post has been a lot longer than some others, so if you’ve stuck with me to the end, thanks for reading.  Please feel free to hit like, share, comment or even subscribe to my blog if the feeling so moves you!

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Plans, plans, plans!

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I hope everyone had a happy New Year and that it was a safe one, too! Me, I stayed home.  Too many drunks on the road, and I’ve noticed that in most places, prices go up for celebrations on that night.  You pay more for the same experience you could have had any other night.

All the talk about how cold it is on the east coast, and in the northeast particularly has me thinking that wherever I end up after ABQ, it will be warm.  As in all year warm.   I just can’t handle the cold anymore.  It makes me want to hibernate.

To be able to handle a move like that, I need to earn extra income, so that’s one thing I am working on.  I’m not saying the move is going to happen soon.  I really want to do my research and plan for things financially and otherwise, etc. I’ve been journalling a lot of my thoughts.  Writing always helps.

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Some of you know I do transcription.  The lady with whom I’ve worked for the past 13 months or so is shutting down her business in March (for a well deserved retirement, I might add), so it’s a good thing I have lined myself up to start doing transcription for a company that does a lot of law enforcement work.  Jail house interrogations, courtroom transcription, depositions, wire taps, police dash cams, etc.

The pay is decent, and they say that they always have a lot of work – one thing that’s recession proof is the law,  and therefore crime.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that crime increases when the economy is bad.

I plan on setting up two separate bank accounts just for this work.  This morning, I applied for an EIN (employer identification number, not a social security number), so I will have one account into which my pay will be deposited, and another bank account into which I will transfer money for taxes, because all this work will be done as an independent contractor.

I’m excited to begin this work.  When it comes to legal stuff, I can be a total nerd, and I actually like listening to this sort of stuff! Having been a librarian for so many years, I love LOVE LOVE learning about new things every day.  I never want my brain to become stagnant.

My school starts up again in another week.  I can’t believe it’s already the spring semester! I’m taking courses in Animal Protection and Writing for Social Change, and I am super excited by both!

I have been reading up on how to grow this blog – the more I write for it, the more I want to write, and I really want to get information out there, both on topics I care about, and on those that you, the reader, find interesting.  I’m putting together an editorial calendar so I can be regular with my posting (I’m thinking Tuesdays and Fridays are good for posting), if not 3x per week.  I’m always looking for more bloggers and readers to connect with and follow, so I TRULY do appreciate all the comments everyone leaves.  I can’t stress this enough!

I hope you enjoy the illustrations – I’ve been coloring a lot lately and it helps to relax me, plus all the positive thoughts in my Good Vibes coloring book (which I got for just $2!!) help me to stay motivated.

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As always, thanks for reading!!

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If you need to shop online, I’d greatly appreciate it if you use my Amazon affiliate links or Ebates referral link! Every little bit helps, and it costs you nothing to do so. Thank you!