Selfish or Self-Care?

It’s Monday yet again. It comes with infuriating regularity. Although Monday and I will never be friends – except perhaps after I win the mega-millions lottery – recently, Mondays, for me, haven’t been so bad.

In life, we have two choices.  We can devote our time to activities we love, surrounding ourselves with, if not exactly low-stress endeavors, at least endeavors that do not prompt the need for an impromptu intervention … or we can devote our time to fighting against things we hate.  Which is better?

Until very recently, I devoted my time, energy, and whole heart into a cause I am passionate about: animal advocacy.  What I’ve learned is that the nightmares never end, figuratively and literally.

I loved what I did, and I’m still active in the animal advocacy world, but I found out that devoting myself to it exclusively led to high stress levels that affected me physically and emotionally.  I stayed with the job, subjecting myself day in and day out to nightmare scenes I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and for a lot less money than I realistically needed to survive.  I was tirelessly devoted to my job out of loyalty and dedication to the cause, letting myself suffer financially and mentally for far longer than I should have.  At last, I had no choice but to change jobs.

Now, I work with food.  Yummy foods.  I work for a food broker, managing a variety of vegetarian and vegan lines.  I find my sleep is a little better; the worst thing in my nightmares about my new job is the rumored Great Carrot Revolt coming in the fall of this year.  My job is interesting, and I am surrounded by what I love, food.  And did I mention, I work with food?

It’s only been a couple of months since I left my animal advocacy job, and while I can sleep a little better now, there are situations and images seared into my brain that I will likely carry with me for the rest of my life; thank the Gods that be that my mental library of horror is no longer being replenished daily. I have no regrets about leaving the job behind, but I do struggle with a little bit of guilt for leaving the cause.

It’s a much better situation that I am in now, of course, and I find myself looking forward to going to work instead of wondering what fresh level of Hell I will be walking into every day.  Discussions about food are, hands down, much more satisfying than discussions about defenseless animals trapped in unthinkable situations.  Still, the guilt is there, an itchy spot in my brain that I can’t quite scratch.

I’m very busy every day, with a different set of jer … ummm, associates to deal with. But the worst abuse I face now is someone trying to launch a new line of snack packs with no understanding whatsoever of their target audience.  No longer do I face veiled, and not-so-veiled, threats from low-lifes who regularly exhibit sociopath and psychopath tendencies. No longer must I explain to a well-meaning donor that the world does not, in fact, rest on my shoulders and no, I cannot control everything and everyone. No longer am I faced with images that could very well be in a Clive Barker film … and not in a good way. 

Oh, the work is challenging, and I am in a management position meaning I have a lot of responsibility and must be on top of my game … BUT our meetings at my new job revolve around food, and who doesn’t love food?  We are all enthusiastic about our jobs, and our days are filled with delicious excitement, not horrible dread.  And still, there it is again; a twinge of guilt.

I no longer argue with the belligerently ignorant in our midst over why leaving an egregiously crippled animal to starve is animal cruelty, and I don’t have to explain, with pictures, video, and tales from the field, for the umpteenth time why horse slaughter is a horrific fate for any horse and should be permanently abolished.  I can go home from work and just “be,” like a normal person, without collapsing into tears on my bathroom floor over what I’ve seen that day.

I will deal with my slight twangs of guilt in favor of a life I can enjoy.  I am proud of my past work in the advocacy group, and I know they will continue to succeed in the fight to protect the helpless … they are an amazing organization doing amazing work.  I still follow news, with a heavy heart, and get involved in ways that do not consume my life and scar my soul.

I know that some would say I abandoned the animal advocacy group, but I look at it as self-preservation.  Sometimes, you need to accept your past accomplishments and opt for taking care of yourself.  It doesn’t mean you stopped caring; if you ask me, it means you care too much.

But, I Hope …

I saw this article today. It made me sad in so many ways … I could fill my blog for years discussing this topic. The writer, a special-ed teacher, explained, in no uncertain terms, that should there be a shooter at her school, she would not die for the children in her class as she did not want to die herself. She wants to go home to her own kids. She wants to be there for her family, her parents, her siblings. She wants to live. I mean, really, who doesn’t? She discussed at length how much she puts herself out for the kids in her care, how she worries over them, guides them, helps them … basically everything any good teacher does, that, to her, seems award worthy (okay, she didn’t say that, it was just my take on her tone).

However, when it comes down to it – when called upon to protect her charges, she would be hiding in the supply closet (her class’ go-to place in an active shooter event). Oh, not to keep the children who were lucky enough to make it in there with her safe, but to keep herself safe. She ended the article with a curt “I won’t save your child.” I have no doubt whatsoever that she means it.

I’m not a teacher. I don’t have to participate in active shooter drills or instruct a room full of kids on what to do in a life-threatening emergency. Ex-husbands and creepers aside, I’ve never experienced anything more threatening than a crowd-filled fight and being trapped in the perimeter … squashed in like cattle – no guns involved.

But.

I hope … I would sincerely hope … that if I were thrown into a sadly-not-so-unthinkable scenario, that I would do what I could to protect the children around me. Yes, I want to come home to my kids and my family … hell, I just want to come home to my dog. I have people who love me and count on me and I think, need me. Not counting those in my familial circle who would like to see me stick around, in a purely selfish sense, I do not want to die.

But.

I hope my ever-present compassion would come to the fore. I can’t imagine being in a situation where children are at risk of dying and not helping in any way that I could. I’m only human. Maybe if the time came, I would choke. I don’t know. I’ve never been called upon to do anything at all of greatness.

But.

I hope I could make a difference in this world. In my heart of hearts, I have faith that I would rise to the occasion and save a child whose life hasn’t even yet begun, whether they are mine or not, whether I know them or not.

Personally, the idea of slamming a door shut in the face of a child to save myself, not to mention a child that I see every freakin’ day … a child that I taught to read, a child whose shoes I tied, a child whose future I helped mold, is abhorrent to me. Oh, I can’t say as I completely blame this teacher for her way of thinking (I mean, I do, but still …). After all, she is living with the very real prospect of death every day, given our current climate of school shootings. So, it’s easy for me to say what I would and wouldn’t do as I go back and forth to my relatively safe job.

But.

I hope I would do the right thing. My intentions are there. Of course, we all know what road the best of intentions pave. It’s easy to say that I would jump out in front of a bus – or a bullet – to save anyone, let alone a child. However, when it came right down to it … would I make that leap? It goes without saying that if it were MY kids, that leap of faith would be as natural as breathing.

But.

I hope that when faced with an impossible decision in a horrific situation where kids were in danger, that I would make my own children proud … that I could face my death – or life – with the knowledge that I not just aspired to greatness, but truly achieved some small semblance of it through the life of a child.

I just know that when push came to shove, if I were the one coming out the other side … at the cost of a young life I, myself, could have saved and deliberately chose not to … well, I’m not sure there would ever be light or joy in my own life again. It’s certainly not a life I would want to live.

If Inspiration was a Person

Maya Angelou would have been 90 years old today. The world suffered a great loss at her passing in May 2014. Ms. Angelou was an amazing talent, a truly loving heart, and a strong, passionate, dedicated woman. Her words have never ceased to move me. The world is a better place for her having been in it.

click for more info on this incredible woman

 

To Everything a Purpose

I gotta be honest with you guys – I have always had a hard time leaving behind the underdogs. I can’t turn my back on a runt, or the ones who need to be saved. This habit has no doubt penetrated the bubble of my personal life, I mean, just take a look through my past relationships and you’ll see that. If that doesn’t convince you, then maybe the ‘zoo’ I’m currently building – consisting of strays, rescues and neighborhood animals – will do the trick. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, this quirk of mine has been passed on to my daughter. My somewhat purposefully theatrical daughter.

You see, the other week we were at the grocery store, just doing some regular shopping – nothing new – and as I rooted through the cabbages looking for the perfect specimen, my eye caught sight of what had to be the smallest cabbage in the world. At least the smallest that I have ever seen.

Naturally, I brought this up to my daughter as an “oh, look at the cute little thing,” moment.  Sarah on the other hand, having the uncanny knack of knowing just what to say at any given moment to give me pause, pointed out that she simply couldn’t believe I hadn’t picked out the diminutive veggie resting at the top of the pile.

She actually made me feel sorry that I had left him behind to fend for himself.  Don’t tell me this girl can’t spin a tale. In great detail, she explained to me that everything in the world has a purpose, even this pocket-sized vegetable. Only no-one was likely to buy it since it’s so small and therefore it would be left behind to wither away and rot, never able to fulfill its purpose – that of being eaten…perhaps turned into a lovely veggie dish, or maybe a small serving of sauerkraut.

She was able to convince me that the life of this cabbage was some sort of Disney movie, and if I didn’t buy it and take it home, the little guy would never meet his happy ending. My daughter put it like this, everything has a purpose, and now this extraordinarily petite cabbage will never be able to fulfill his. It’s a beautiful sentiment, but seriously, I already feel guilty enough about all the other shit in life, I don’t need this too.

Needless to say, she successfully guilted me into going back to buy the wee little thing. What does that say about her? Hell, what does it say about me? And just what am I going to do with a baby cabbage?

the world’s tiniest cabbage

Inner Salvation

There will never be another me. I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but there you go. I’m too damned old and too damned fed up with others who think they should have some level of control over me to placate unworthy people anymore. I’m me. And I’m happy with that.

 

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Quote Challenge – Day 3

Once again, my thanks go out to The Ugly Duckling’s Life for including me in the Quote Challenge. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend checking out her blog. It’s an eclectic bit of writing that is well, well worth it. Although she is killing me with the recipes that she sometimes posts…simply killing me.  I’m sad to see this challenge end, it’s been really interesting to think about the quotes and choose which ones to use. I may continue to do an entry once in a while on those topic.

Everyone who has followed my blog for any amount of time knows that I am somewhat taken with Marvel Comics and the Marvel Universe as it plays out on the big screen. So it should come as no surprise that I would attempt to sneak in a quote from one of the characters into this challenge. I could’ve chosen the delightful Deadpool who, goodness knows, has come up with some doozies or the ever sassy Tony Stark who has spouted off some definite noteworthy quotes in his day. But no. For this, I must refer to my favorite, Loki of Asgard.   So for my third quote, I give you:

“I am Loki, of Asgard and I am burdened with glorious purpose.” ~ Loki of Asgard (Avengers)

Now, now, before you roll your eyes at me, yes, I realize that Loki was on a mission of destruction at the time he made this declaration.  However, taking simply the quote and not its intent…or rather Loki’s intent…aren’t we all burdened with glorious purpose?  Or shouldn’t we be?  If this quote were spoken by say, Tony Robbins or Stephen Covey (rest his soul), wouldn’t it be met with an entirely different view? Albeit, neither of those gentlemen was ever attempting to take over the Earth…at least as far I know. But can we ever really know another person?  I digress.

However, my point remains the same. We all have a glorious purpose in life and we should strive to meet it head on…fulfill it, whatever it might be. So long as Earth domination is not key to the plan.

 

And here are the rules for the Quote Challenge:

  1. Post your three favorite quotes, one on each day, for three consecutive days. The quote can be from any book, author, or your own quote.
  2. Tag three other bloggers with each post to challenge them.
  3. Thank the blogger who nominated you.

Along with other bloggers I’ve seen though who have done this challenge, I’ve decided to ignore rule #2. No one likes to be ignored at the party (and quite frankly, all of the blogs I follow are amazing, which is why I follow them), so I’m extending an open invitation to this challenge for anyone who reads this and would like to participate.  So – have at it!