The Big Year

There's a self-imposed line drawn in the sand about just how much one should share when writing a blog. Six years ago, when I first started writing, I didn't feel too concerned about limiting what I said. Who was reading my words, anyway? Four people? It was unlikely I'd run into any of them at the store and there was certainly no fear of backlash or judgement.

It's very different today-not that I'm a celebrity, very far from it, but more and more often I find when I meet up with a friend or colleague and I start to tell them about something, they interrupt me and say they already read about it on my blog!

I believe that the most important thing I do is keep what goes on in my life “transparent” here on Covered in Cat Hair. Though I fear reprisal, I also feel I must stay open and honest. It's the only way we can have any trust and so far it's worked really well. I've been able to be free to tell you when times get tough or I do something stupid and though I fear the reaction I get for what I've written, more often than not, I have gotten more support and love than I ever could imagine (which I hope has reflected right back to you). I've always been very grateful and humbled by all of this affection. It's a fuel that keeps me going.

It's been impossible for me to write the past few days because things are so difficult in my life. My first reaction is to step back and assess, hide out with my sadness. Perhaps withdrawing allows time for reflection, but during that time, I also realize how difficult it will be to open this up to all of you. I write these words to help me process, NOT in ANY WAY to ask for anything. If I did ask for something, it would simply be to understand that writing, even with tears blurring my vision, helps me. We are friends now and as a friend, just let me say my peace and don't feel like you have to do something about it other than just read on.

What troubles me so?I'm broke-the two most embarrassing words I've ever written. It means I've failed. It means my choices may have been foolish or vain or selfish. Maybe it means, like anyone else, I did my best but it didn't work out. I've done a poor job at keeping myself financially stable and now, for the first time in 20 years, I can't pay my mortgage. I can't provide vet care for one of my cats-which leaves me mortified and humiliated. How can I rescue cats when I can't even care for my own?

I have never lived lavishly. I haven't been on a vacation since 1998. I've barely been away from home. I don't smoke. I rarely drink. I don't buy myself shoes or clothes or much of anything. I live a modest life, but I don't have an income big enough to support even that. I don't have health insurance any more. Bob getting cancer last year was the nail in my financial coffin, but I wouldn't have given up on him, not when he did so well for such a long time.

robin and dood.jpg
This is what really matters to me.

My dream was to set Kitten Associates up so that I could make an honest living and save cats lives. It can still happen, but the money I put into KA, isn't going to come back out any time soon. I will pay myself back for all the money I put into the rescues I did early on, but not now-no way; not when we have cats in our program who may need help. At least I have those funds to provide for them as long as nothing serious comes up. I couldn't have saved any of them this past year if so many of you hadn't jumped in to donate what you could. I deeply appreciate feeling like you have my back. It means you have confidence in me and I would never let any of you down.

Sadly the stress that's been going on behind-the-scenes is making me lose my hair. My emotions are like dry tinder-it takes so little to set me off-raging and yelling. You can guess what that does to anyone living with me-who is also not in the happiest of situations. It is a level of Hell living under this roof. Add to that a cat in renal failure who urinates all over the house, ruining and soiling everything in his path. The stress keeps ticking up, up, up, like a car on the wooden tracks of a roller coaster. With each “tick” my stomach tightens up. Each day more and more things get added to the list of how I am failing. How will I fix the leaky skylights? How will I fix my car? What happens if I get sick and have to go to the Doctor? What happens when there is nothing more to cut back on or cash out? How long can I keep putting things off in hopes that things will be better and I'll be able to do those things I need to do? I'm waiting for the sudden drop. I think I'm on a fast track to the bottom.

The chronic headache I've had since I was in a car accident in 2010 gets even worse. The Doctor said I'm in a “pain cycle” that we can't figure out how to break. I can't afford to see him any more. It's okay. I don't think he could give me an answer, anyway. I wonder how long I can take this, then I think of other people who are far worse off than I am, who have already lost their home and have no where to go and I feel guilty for feeling sorry for myself. I should just shut up.

There are moments of feeling all right; when I can forget for a little while, but mostly there is a lot of shame and fear. Where did I go so wrong? Why can't I find a way to make a living from all the things I seem to do for free? Even this Blog, which has been my passion for so long, it just taxes time I have that I could use to be making a living.

Sure, I could write a book. Well, I already did. I wrote the better part of two books now. I could also turn Covered in Cat Hair into a book-Lord knows there are enough stories here…but it seems insurmountable to get my work in front of someone who could help me “give birth” to these projects with everything else going on.

In my heart, I know I have something worth sharing and some talents worth being paid for (not THOSE kind of talents), but there's a piece missing-maybe it's good business sense? Maybe I need to be more assertive? What is wrong with me? Why can't I make a good living?

I think some of it has to do with not making it important-what matters to me is helping people keep their cats, rescuing cats who need help, writing about cats. Generally these are not areas where you make a living, but it does my soul good. It makes my heart sing to know one more cat is alive because I stepped in to guide them along the path to their forever home. I've worked for clients in the marketing and advertising world for decades and it's very rare when I finish a project and feel like it did anyone any good-other than to get a paycheck out of it. If this is my life, I don't want to be on my deathbed and feel like I left a nice, fat 401K to whom? My cats? I would rather feel like I did more good, than harm. I made some people happy. I helped some at risk cats live a full life, instead of it being prematurely cut short.

The other day I watched a series of programs on TV about the birth of the Earth and our universe. They spoke about galaxies that are 600 million light years WIDE; that our existence (depending on what you believe) is due to a star going super nova and that everything here, there and billions of miles away is all, at the core, just star dust. That we are even here, alive, with an intra-human-communication system we call “language,” with cell phones and frozen tv dinners and scanning devices that can see into our body without cutting it open…if you take a BIG enough step back and take a look at it, it's bloody amazing we get to be here at all, conscious of all of these amazing things and add to that we get to know love and experience a deep heart-connection with other sentient beings. Wow. How lucky we are. It reminds me how insignificant my problems are. I am not going to live forever, but what am I going to live for?

Why would I want to waste any more of the 20 or 30 or whatever years I have, going to a job, sitting under fluorescent lights, getting carpal tunnel syndrome and worrying about if a client is going to like the layout I designed because I was forced to stay up all-night to work on a project because my boss was paranoid that we didn't have enough layouts done. Yes, I could pay the bills under these circumstances, but at what cost? I paid dues for decades. I've been steering myself towards a change to follow my heart. I can't give up now.

What REALLY is important?

Like anyone else I have responsibilities that I take very seriously. I have a monkey on my back and I need to find a way to get it off. The anxiety is crippling me-making it harder to hold my head up high or get anything done at all. It's embarrassing to say I can't even afford to fix my car or buy more than a few groceries. For the past five years I've told myself it will get better, right? It will get better? Maybe next year will be “the big year” for me or maybe I'm just kidding myself? Maybe I better stop joking that I'll be living in a cardboard box with my cats one day.

I haven't lost my home (so far) and I will do everything in my power to make sure that never happens. In the meantime, I would rather hide myself under a rock and just stop writing here until things get better, but I have to find a way to hold my head up, take a deep breath and rescue myself. I found something I love to do, that matters to me, that gives meaning to my life.

I can't stop now, but how I don't know how I will go on.

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Comments

Please Robin...

If you ever need help, please let us help you. If you have to make a chip-in due to financial troubles, please, please don't hesitate. I've been reading your blog for over two years now and I, and many others, adore you and your family of kitties. You give so much of yourself just for the sake of 'helping.' That's so rare these days and we need more people like you around.

I can relate to the depression and anxiety... It's absolute hell. Sometimes I don't even make it out of bed, but things get better. Somehow, someway, things will get better for you (and me). Please hold on until that happens. <3

Never be afraid to ask us for help.

xoxo

Thank you for your kind words. It means a lot to me to have such kind, compassionate and caring people reading my blog. All my best to you and your family! xoxo

You might want to check out

You might want to check out this blog post:  http://ecocatlady.blogspot.com/2012/03/how-to-make-living-without-job.html

Seems kind of coincidental that ECL wrote her post about the same time you wrote yours.  Maybe it will jump start you & give you some ideas about how to make some extra money.
Good luck.

Vet Office Work?

Have you thought about doing part-time reception work at a vet's office?  Paycheck, time around animals, ability to learn some care techniques.  Either that or maybe a pet store?  Blend your passion with the industry... best of both worlds.  Neither pays millions, but it's a paycheck and possibly benefits.

Robin, so sorry to hear about

Robin, so sorry to hear about your financial situation.  The past few years have been hard for us too.  Thank you as always for your honesty.  I am sure that you will figure out a solution.  You are such an inspiration and truly a lifesaver for all of the cats and kittens you have helped.  Don't let all of this drag you down!!

Hi Robin - I'm sorry to hear

Hi Robin - I'm sorry to hear of your situation.  Please seek out whatever assistance is available to you.  Know that you are admired for your kind heart and your willingness to act on making the world a better place for those in great need of lifesaving intervention.

Robin, I hardly think I could

Robin, I hardly think I could say it better than the person posting before me. I'm not familiar with The Healing Codes - and may now explore that myself - but would also like to suggest meditation/prayer - could help break the pain cycle as well. I do believe that we can manifest for ourselves what we need.  Don't give up.  Take the time and energy to care for yourself.


There will be another way other than the flourescent jungle.  If you come to the conclusion that that is a way out, use it and do it temporarily to get you where you need to go - as a transition into the bigger plan. It is easier if you know it's really the escape route, and not the trap. It sounds like I'm advocating for the soul-sucking corporate job - I'm not, just think that there must be some variation on that theme that could get you out of the hole. Why wouldn't you use your skills and talents to go where you need to go? Those were the gifts given to you, and you are working with a full toolbox.   


I know the cat rescue is your passion and calling and when we deny our passion we are denying who we are - nothing good comes from it. 


I'm sorry you find yourself in this position.  You didn't do anything "wrong".  For the more immediate "I can't pay my mortgage NOW" issue - what about an ebay auction?  I know you can designate a cause when listing items, with all or part of the proceeds going to the cause.  I think you would have a lot of support from your followers, and items would be open to the entire ebay community.


Again, don't give up. Please know that there are many, many people out there that care and wish for you only the best.

On paychecks

It sounds like right now, what you need is a paycheck to help support your cats. It's not bad to go to work if you need funds for that kind of purpose.

I'd suggest that if you are physically able to get a job, and if you have job prospects, you should get one.

I do understand that one can't just snap one's fingers, go out, and "get a job". It's dependent on being hired or finding a client. That's the place I'm at, so I am not trying to judge you if you can't find work. I'm just saying that it sounds like you should consider looking ... if only to support your cats. Aren't they worth spending a few hours on someone's silly project?

Just a thought, from a woman who will never see her own beloved cats again. They are blessings in our lives and we should take care of them while we can.

Hi, Robin, This has probably

Hi, Robin,

This has probably already crossed your mind and the kickstarter site posted earlier made me think that your stories could very easily be turned into a cat comic strip. I can see the DOOD and your "one" cat as stars in the series, with foster kitties coming and going. Perhaps something to seek funding for?

Also, have you thought of doing crowd funding? Go to fundly.com, get yourself registered and begin raising funds. Lots of crowd funding sites out there, but this one is a good one to begin with. You have a cause that touches millions of hearts and I know (having worked in international animal welfare) that people in this country give until it hurts to save animals. They just have to know you're out there. It will happen! 

Hugs,

Tereza and Larry

How about doing a Kickstarter

How about doing a Kickstarter Project?  http://www.kickstarter.com/


Also, you should do a chip-in for yourself to get you over this hump.  I am really really sorry that you are in this position.  Keep strong and be creative.

going on

Hi Robin,

got yourself in a hole, hey? I have recently started doing something called 'The Healing Codes' and you know, I'm feeling more positive and able and hopeful already. It works at a very deep level and can help you relove and release issues that you keep running into in your life. Now I'm not a practitioner or anything but you can see the four hand postions on youtube and hear the prayer/affirmation you say and think before you do it and hey, give it a go. it costs you nothing and it may just help you land on your feet and stay up and strong. I love my cats more than pretty much any person I know, I too, would be devestated to be brought to my knees all because I was doing what I loved, so hey, what have you got to lose? Try 'The Healing Codes' and if you like how you feel/grow but the book and read about it, what does it cost $10 there in the States? You could probably even buy a second hand one for less. From one cat lady to another (who makes so much more of a difference), the universe wants you to do what brings you alive but if you keep thinking "I'm poor, I'm struggling, I have no money" than that is exactly what it will give you. So try my other new activity - for twenty minutes once a day just sit still and imagine it, see it, feel it, hear it, how it could be if it was going as you wanted. Really immerse yourself in the images and feelings. twenty minutes, come on, to save your life? you have twenty minutes! and according to people who have done it, they see dramatic change in as little as 30 days. (I started my visualizations and healing codes "routine" last night, I"ll let you know how it goes.) You can do what you love and do it with ease and grace you just have to heal a few beliefs first. Here's to us, all the cat ladies in the world who would go without food for our kids but who have still to get, they don't have to. Blessed be, Robin.

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