Those of you who have been with me awhile know that for the last six years I have been very involved with the Derry Township Community Cat (TNR) program. I served in various capacities, as board member, board president, and operations manager at various times, and am very proud of what I helped to create. It is a strong program with excellent footing as it moves into the future.
I also realized, late last year, that I needed to step back from DTCC, at least for now. My pet sitting job is a seven day a week one, and DTCC was also a seven day a week volunteer job, and both of them reach their peak demand season during the summer. Approaching my mid-60’s, working two seven day a week jobs was finally too much. I had terrible insomnia from the stress, sleeping well only one or two nights a week, and feeling cranky and annoyed far too often. Some health issues were also being affected by the stress, and it was time to slow things down. And because the pet sitting business pays the bills, that has to come first for now.
That’s left a rather large whole in my life, however. One that I’m working hard not to completely fill just yet. Rescue and TNR work is somewhat addicting. The satisfaction gained from helping animals who aren’t able to help themselves is enormous, and often balances out all the stress and frustration, but it can also lead, at times, to a sense of self-righteousness, or martyrdom, as you load more and more stress on yourself and go without rest. Or at least it did in my case. In the end, for me, it became a case of that airline instruction to put your own oxygen mask on before helping others. I was running out of oxygen myself, and doing a poor job of helping others.
Every cell in my body wants to jump back in right now. To foster dogs or cats. To trap. To help somehow. But…I am forcing myself to wait on any major project for now. Gracie needs training so she could potentially qualify as a therapy dog later this summer, and if she does, that will be our volunteer work.
A client is traveling a lot this summer, and her cat may be staying in my foster room for some months…yet to be decided…so I can’t fill that room with foster kittens just yet either. So much is undecided right now.
If I am honest, I am still recovering from six years of a super heavy load. I sleep a lot still, when I am not working at the pet sitting, and my body needs that rest. I am working on eating better, and I’m getting good exercise, all of which will help me make better decisions in the future. The summer pet sitting season will be upon us soon, and it would be good to be as rested as I can for that. As I get more rested, I am also finding that I enjoy the pet sitting more, as I used to when it was still new many years ago.
So for now, I am doing small things. A couple times a week, I am helping to feed and clean the cages of cats from a local rescue that are hanging out at the pet store hoping to attract someone who wants to take them home. Marley and I just signed up to help our food bank with deliveries to shut-ins once a month. I’d like to be doing more….and I will not too far in the future. But for now, it will have to do. Gracie will qualify or not for the therapy dog work. The client’s cat will or won’t stay with us this summer. And when all that is figured out, perhaps I will know what more I can do to help.
In the meantime, I will continue to train Gracie, and give my pet sitting business the attention it deserves, and maybe even enjoy dinner on our front porch – something we haven’t had time to do the last few years! I’ll take photos and keep up with the 365 project, and maybe it will give me the confidence to start offering my photographic skills to pet parents professionally (still scares me!). Time will tell, and I’m going to try very hard to not push the issue, and just wait for things to get clear on their own. Wish me luck!