StormyKat's Training Journal

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Jax replied the topic: Re:StormyKat's Training Journal

By the way I keep getting errors saying your email address doesn't exist. Please look at your profile and fix your email so I can stop getting those system errors. :-)


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  • Katie (StormyKat)
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Katie (StormyKat) replied the topic: Re:StormyKat's Training Journal

Lol! I was actually just going to look into that. I tried changing my email address and since then haven't been ferrying anything in my email...

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Katie (StormyKat) replied the topic: Re:StormyKat's Training Journal

Hmmm...perhaps because I spelled my email address wrong. Whoops!
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Jax replied the topic: Re:StormyKat's Training Journal

That's what I figured. lol
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Katie (StormyKat) replied the topic: StormyKat's Training Journal

Posted this on my blog last night. It hasn't gotten any responses though, and I would love to discuss this with someone. So for all you non-blog reading Jedi. Please take a look below.

Sometimes I find myself wondering what its all about. How do I identify myself, what my purpose is. When I was in college, I was a student and my purpose was to learn, get great grades and work towards a career. I was a student journalist, a board member for various groups, a slightly important person at the school. I had purpose–many of them actually. I had goals both short term and long term. When I was fresh out of school I reshaped myself from passions that were already there. I was an animal activist, a cat rescuer. I was a development and communications professional in the making. I was a writer. Now, seven years later, I don’t know what I am or what my purpose is.

I am driven by animal rescue. I am driven by a passion to see cats and dogs lives saved. Yet, I don’t do rescue work anymore. I am burnt out, overcome by the stress and the emotions of it all. I feel guilty about this.

I am a story teller. I am a writer. Yet, I don’t write. I am scared. I have no motivation to write, no inspiration. I am saddened by and slightly defensive about this.

I listen to NPR, read newspapers and magazines and my heart aches. I was a journalist. I can do that. But I can’t. I don’t.

I want to know how to care for sick animals; to provide medical knowledge to those with sick animals. I want to help provide the cats who come through the door at work with the best medical care available. Yet, I hold back from working as a vet tech or vet assistant.

I don’t know what the point of all this is. I feel lost and my days feel semi-pointless. I am used to spending my days working towards something. Now, my days are all work, sleep, play with cat, medicate other cat, feed cats, catch up on tv shows on dvr/Netflix, read. That is my life. Monday I woke up at 5am. I spent an hour on cat care – feeding, medicating, litter boxes–with a bit of that time for getting myself dressed and ready for work. I left for work at 6am in fear of an hour long commute. It was still dark when I left. I ate a breakfast sandwich in the car on my way to work. I got there early and spent 15 minutes reading. From 7:15-5:50 I worked, with half an hour break to gulp down food, deal with insurance companies and schedule a dentist appointment. I got home from work around 6:30, ate dinner, gave the cats some attention, read and was asleep by 9.

I am no longer working towards anything. Despite building a list of goals for IJRS and my PLP, I feel like I have no goals. Somewhere in my live in the moment, I got lost. It is good to live in the moment and accept life as it comes. It is also good to have goals and dreams and work towards something. I don’t seem to know how to balance the two. Especially when I have 12 hour work days and two high maintenance cats.

I have a magnet above my desk with a Lao Tzu quote: “At the center of your being you have the answer: you know who you are and what you want.”

I want to be a story teller. I want to save animals. I want to live in a tiny house in the middle of nature with a house full of books and spend my days reading and petting a farm full of rescued animals. Instead I work as a receptionist. A good job, if a bit stressful. Decent enough pay, good benefits. Trying to get money together to get my own place, to pay my medical bills, to provide for my cats. To eventually….do what? I don’t know anymore. I really, really don’t. So, I suppose in the mean time I focus on my IJRS training, enjoy my cats and my family, and all the little moments.
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Kol Drake replied the topic: StormyKat's Training Journal

One of THE hardest questions to answer imo -- "What do you want to 'be' when you grow up?"

Never having grown up, I am still clueless regarding myself. :P

But, you are voicing some normal concerns.
Most of us were once 'students' (high school and beyond), athletes or nerds, hard workers or slackers, 'in crowd' or 'parking lot hangouts'. And on and on. After leaving high school or college, suddenly we are in THE RAT RACE... and no one is telling us where that cheese is!

So, we put on new labels -- father, girlfriend, mother, BFF, activist, assistant, and on and on.
The sad part is, we should not be identifying 'who we are' with 'what we do'. I may 'do' art and dig ditches but the core of 'me' is not an artist nor a ditch digger. I am less and more; as you are. You listed all the 'things' you did and identified with but never listed who YOU are...

That PLP is kind of a checklist of 'things I wanna do'. It helps if you are 'shooting for something' but there you go again -- "what do you WANT to do / be when you grow up?" If you have no clue, then you feel like you are blowing in the wind and every 'try' seems to reap few if any rewards or 'steps toward'... the unknown goal.

And, you are not alone. We have all hit that point where we can't figure out exactly what we really want to do with our lives. It can come when you're 18 or when you're 50, and it's always a difficult process to work through. And some folks hit it in later life as they go for the 'after I retire' career -- which can be as exciting or frenetic as their previous one(s). It is not hopeless, though!

Discovering what you really want to do with your life isn't an easy task for anyone, nor is it something that you can really create a step-by-step guide for. That said, when you're not really sure what you want to do, whether it's a career, a lifestyle, or anything else, a few different exercises might help you pinpoint what it is you truly want.

First -- The "where do you see yourself in five years?" question riddles everything from job interviews to financial plans, and while it seems cliché, it’s common for a reason: it works. It is one of those annoyingly difficult questions to answer, and in most cases it is pretty much impossible to answer in a concrete way. Thankfully, that's okay, and sometimes just trying to answer the question is all you need.

Considering how common of advice it is, the idea of seeing into the future and picturing where you'll be in five years is a heck of a lot harder to do than you'd think. Plus, the chances you'll actually end up where you see yourself is pretty slim. That said, the exercise of talking about where you see yourself in five years is still useful.

The thing that you feel like you really want to do is the thing to pursue.
You will not end up there... but at least you will have taken steps in SOME direction. And movement if Life. And Life happens. And you may end up somewhere entirely different than you had imagined 5 years earlier but... you are 'doing' instead of 'stewing'. 'Keep your hat on. We may end up miles from here..." -- Kurt Vonnegut

ANYWAY -- the point is, it doesn't matter where you think you'll be in five years, but it is still important to think about because it gives you the idea you want to pursue. As far as careers are concerned, Harvard Business Review takes a similar approach and recommends you think about what you want to learn in the next five years:

What capabilities will you have wanted to build in five years? For example, "I can't say exactly what I'm going to be doing in five years, but I hope to have further developed my skills as a strategist and people manager." This is a safe way to answer regardless of your age or career stage. "You don't want to ever give the impression that you're done learning," says Weintraub.


If you WANT to be a writer... you should be writing every day... just like it is a 'job'.... because a real writing career IS a job. You have to be able to sit down and produce... every day. So, you should be just not journaling for the IJRS -- you should be dragging around a lined, 'empty' book and scribbling bits all day long. Be it odd thoughts, something you saw while out to grab a bite or one line from the 'great novel' idea that may be 'on the back burner' for another decade or three -- every word you put down is one more 'step' toward that goal.

Be an animal doctor person? Then what would it take to BE that. More schooling? Apprenticing? Wearing faux fur? Remember -- "Do or do not; there is no try" -- you can THINK about it from now to doomsday and it will never happen. It is when you take the first baby step; then the next and then the next that you are DOING and .... there you go. You may still end up in a totally different 'thing' down the road but at least you are on a road.... seeing the sights, breathing the air, bit chin' about the hours, or the courses or the boss or... you got it. LIFE!

Now.. about that 'not a journal journal'.... part of what you should do is turn it into your personal manifesto...
The idea of a personal manifesto might sound a little silly on the surface. The idea is that if you can figure out where you stand on certain ideas, you might be able to flesh out a possible career or lifestyle path. Silly or not, the idea of a personal manifesto is implemented by everyone from Google to Frank Lloyd Wright. The point, as The Art of Manliness says, is to give yourself a call to action to define how you want to do things.

How to write one?

Pick your topics: Pick a few topics to concentrate on, and make them as specific as you can. Ideas like, "The hours I want to work," or "How I want to commute" are great for narrowing in on what kind of work you might be interested in.

Set down your principles: Write down your beliefs and intentions. It probably sounds a little over-the-top, but if you've never really written down and thought about your morals or beliefs then this is a good time to do so.

Use strong, affirmative language: It's easy to write a manifesto with words like "I want" or "I should" but that's not helping you. Write it out with affirmative language like, "I will," or use the present tense with "I am."

The main purpose of the personal manifesto is to really figure out what you care about, how you perceive yourself, and how you want to act moving forward. It's not always a key to figuring out exactly what you want to do with your life, but it's a great starting point for at least figuring out how you want to go about those goals. Grab a pen, some paper, and get to writing out what you believe.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” - Yoda


One of the reasons that figuring out what we want to do is so terrifying is because we tend to overcommit. Want to maybe write that book? Go to grad school! Thinking about being a lawyer? Apply for law school! When you up the ante on plans, they get real serious, real fast, and it's hard to make a decision with that kind of pressure. So, don't overcommit to an idea. Instead, take a couple days to try on the lifestyle. To do this, you can try volunteering or shadowing someone at their job.

Really. If you want to BE an animal doc... ask if you can really sit on the doc's shoulder to see what he/she has to do (and learn). You may like the title and the money but hate having to slit a poor ailing kitty open to 'fix' what ails them. But the after stuff is right up your bailiwick. So maybe that vet tech or vet nurse or ???? whatever.

But if it's writing or journalism -- take a day off (planned out ahead of time) after arranging a day where you job shadow a writer or a columnist or journalist at a favored magazine/newspaper/printing company... somewhere. Actually see what is involved and if you have the 'right stuff' to stick to the demands, etc.

Find a volunteer gig you enjoy. The idea here is to put yourself in a position where you'll learn something and try on a new career. If you're struggling to really figure out what you want to do with yourself, volunteer work is a way to try out a ton of different jobs without committing to any of them. Contrary to what you might think, volunteer work can include all kinds of work, including coding or manual labor. Volunteer Match -- VM is a good place to start the hunt for volunteer work.

And do not rule out something like the Peace Corps. Some folks come back with concrete goals after starting with pretty vague 'maybe's.

Anyway.... consider the above.
Lots of it is just stuff from the IJRS courses on learning about yourself and who YOU are.
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Katie (StormyKat) replied the topic: StormyKat's Training Journal

I realized while I was writing, that I was identifying myself with what I did and not who I am. For the longest time I had trouble separating the two, realizing that I wasn't what I do. I think I may have forgotten about that somewhere along the lines. As I said, I realized it as I was writing, however I was in one of those moods where I felt it needed to be said in that manner. Partially because I don't know that I really truly can identify myself outside the parameters of what I do, what I like, etc.

Having said that, there is a lot of good stuff in your response Kol, thanks. I have never known what I wanted to be when I grow up. I know what moves me, unfortunately those sometimes seem on opposite ends of the spectrum. Writing or animals. That is why I had started my cat blog, so I could write about animals. Unfortunately writing about cats while also working with them, rescuing them and caring for my own got to be a bit much. Everything in moderation right?

I know I have the skills for both working as a journalist and/or working as a veterinary assistant- I would be an assistant, not a tech I have no desire to draw blood or other bodily fluids from an animal. *shudder* however, I CAN give injections, nurse them and all that other fabulous stuff. Part of my concern with both jobs/paths is that I lack the self confidence. I was always too timid around nervous cats when I was an assistant before. I was afraid I was going to break them or hurt them. (Just like I am terrified I am going to break my new niece when she is born in a few months, but that is a different story). I have to find a way to write for one of the veterinary business magazines, I think that would be a great way to combine my two interests and skills.

Part of what discourages me so much is I already tried the "go back to school for a new career and education." All I got out of it was a bit of knowledge I didn't have before and 42k in student loan debt. I have a masters degree now, and no career to use it in. This was a combination of realizing that I did not want to do public relations for big corporations and a really cruddy job market where no one was hiring beyond unpaid internships. I do wonder what would have happened if I had stuck with my original plan of masters in journalism...but there aren't many jobs there either.

I think I wrote up a personal manifesto last year. I was taking a soul searching class about finding your identity and part of the class was to make a manifesto for yourself. I will have to go dig it up.

I have a lot to think about while I nurse my sore muscles from yoga. :)
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Kol Drake replied the topic: StormyKat's Training Journal

Any chance of you getting a part time (and later making it a full time gig) writing for the animal shelters/vet clinics? Like, pieces to submit to the newspapers about adopting, etc. Or a piece on why folks need to spade/neuter to help control the feral population? Or material for helping to raise funds for some of those shelters which only survive due to public and private donations?

Just wondering since it would be another avenue for mixing writing with animals.

Either that or you could do a series about life and animals in 'the big city'... kind of a modern take on the old "All Creatures Big and Small" -- without so much mud and calf deliveries?

Educational debt stinks.
Been there; hated that too.

Good 'catch' on how you identify yourself.
You are SO much more than 'just this title' or 'this job holder'... and you need to acknowledge that in yourself! Nothing helps self confidence like actually believing in your own self / Self / abilities.
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Jax replied the topic: StormyKat's Training Journal

Just keep being creative about your options and leave the past behind. Use your mindfulness. Kol gave good info, and you seem to be opening to more possibility already. Keep it up. :-)

And, ultimately, this whole idea of doing something when grown up is a lie. It's what a lot of people do, but they aren't doing a whole lot worthwhile in the process. Just checking off the boxes of life. Do you want that, or do you want more?
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Katie (StormyKat) replied the topic: StormyKat's Training Journal

I have been looking into classes. I miss being in school and I think having a class would help keep me on a schedule. Or maybe it would just add a bunch of stress to my life. Either way. I am searching for writing workshops and writing courses--things that would give me just experience or maybe even give me some sort of certificate. I looked at veterinary technician and veterinary assistant classes too. I would just like to get back in the classroom I think. Sadly, the cost of these classes is all very prohibitive right now.

I have to save my money for an MRI on my arm. I have been diagnosed with Carpel Tunnel and De Quervain's tenosynovitis. My hand/forearm hurt. Therapy and braces have helped to a minimal amount, but my hand still goes numb. I am tired of deal with this. My doctor feels that I need to have an MRI before I can proceed any further. We already did spinal xrays, which are going to cost me a good chunk of change. I have an appointment for a second opinion next week, but I have a feeling I am still going to end up getting an MRI. I can't keep living with the numbness and the frequent pain though...it's not a constant but it happens enough to be annoying and get in the way.

The cost of the MRI is also discouraging because I have been real good with my money lately. I wasn't a careless spender but medical bills- both my own and the cats--add up quickly and can throw a wrench in the financial planning. That added with the lingering costs of a vacation that I was still paying off made me a bit stressed over money for a month or two. I spread my payments for vacation out, arranged for smaller payments at my doctor's office, and leaned on my parents a little for basic cat stuff for a few months but I finally got myself together. I took a few hundred out of savings to pay off a lingering credit card bill. It was more a mental thing, knowing I didn't have that bill hanging over my head anymore, but it helped out. Since then I have put the extra money at the end of the pay period back in my savings account and don't touch it. I actually have more money in my savings now than I did before borrowing from myself. :) I had been hoping to use the savings to put towards eventual rent/a place of my own expenses. Or at the very least, towards upcoming holiday shopping. Instead it appears I will be using it to pay for an MRI.

Since last week I have tried to do a bit of writing everyday. This went real well until I went back to work Monday. I worked 9:45am-8pm. came home and spent my evening chasing the cat so he could get his energy out. Tuesday I didn't feel well so I came home and watched a movie before bed. Today was productive I semi-deep cleaned my room, got a bunch of calls made and things sorted. Soon off to Yoga number 5 (?), some errands and a doctor visit. Trying to stay positive and work towards my dreams.
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