A road never traveled before

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I find myself in a position I have never been in during my 56 years on Earth – unemployed.

I have been so lucky in my life that jobs always found me.

A month before I graduated from college the owner of The Daily Clintonian called and said he had an opening and he would hold it for me until I graduated. I had worked at the Clintonian the summer before so they knew me there. Two days after I graduated from college I was in my first real job.

A year later a friend told me of an opening at the Monticello Herald Journal. He worked there and put in a good word for me and I found myself living on my own in a small rented apartment in Monticello. I took a short hiatus when I became engaged and moved from Monticello all the way down to Mount Vernon. My husband worked for the Mount Vernon Democrat. The only other paper in the area was the New Harmony Times. The owner of the Times saw me at a board meeting and offered me a job.

Two years later my husband applied for a job at AntiqueWeek in Knightstown, Ind. We had been antique dealers for a year and my parents had been antique dealers for many years at that point. The only time Don could go for an interview was while we were on our way to a friend’s wedding. I was going to sit in the truck, but Mr. Mayhill (publisher of AntiqueWeek) wouldn’t hear of it and invited me in as well. During our small talk he found out my parents were antique dealers and that I was also a journalist. When we walked out the door, we both had jobs.

For the next 25 years I didn’t move. I had found the perfect home of antiques and journalism. I went from assistant editor of AntiqueWeek’s Eastern Edition to Managing Editor of both editions of AntiqueWeek, The Antiques and Auction Exchange and AntiqueWest. I worked for a family owned paper. Then the paper was sold to dmg World Media; one of the world’s largest media empires. I got to go to England to visit the dmg World Media antiques publications offices. I was the speaker on a seven-day cruise to Bermuda; I traveled to countless states and spoke at auctioneer conventions. I put together a traveling exhibit of reproductions, fakes and fantasies to help people understand what was real and what wasn’t in the antiques industry. I visited thousands of antique shows as a speaker.

I saw the economy change as the Internet turned the antiques industry and journalism upside down. The papers shrank as advertisers explored new ways of reaching clients. Dmg World Media decided to divest itself of our chunk of the business and we went back to being family owned once more. But, through it all I was happy. I made a very good living. I absolutely loved what I did, I had the absolute best co-workers in the world. I ate lunch with my boss just about every day and we argued about whose politics were the best.

Then everything changed when my Dad died suddenly at the age of 62. My Mom died when she was 67. I realized I might not have all the time in the world. I had been in the same job for 25 years. I loved it, I was happy; but what if I never did anything else in my life? Would I regret it?

Running through the background during this time I also became very interested in dog training and behavior. I had been going to seminars on dog behavior; I found a world I didn’t know existed in terms of dog sports and animal welfare. I found out that Indianapolis had a horrible animal welfare situation going on (this was 8 years ago) and I started a blog called Save Indiana Animals. I covered public meetings; I wrote about what was going on; I interviewed the players in the industry. I met a lot of people.

Great change took place during this time in the Indianapolis animal welfare scene. In 2011 I was offered a completely different job. I could be a dog trainer at the Humane Society of Indianapolis. I had already been there two years as a part-time employee in the canine behavior department.

Running through the decision was also that I had met someone and moved in with him in Indianapolis, so a job that didn’t involve an hour drive was appealing. I had begun to feel “stuck” at AntiqueWeek. I was comfortable, I could do that job in my sleep. I was affected by the early deaths of my parents. I decided I needed to try something new in my life.

That decision will always weigh heavily on me. The marriage didn’t work out, I ended up being in a position where I was driving an hour to work again (and for a lot less money). I missed traveling. At AntiqueWeek I got to go so many places. But, I also loved what I did at IndyHumane. I actually saved the lives of dogs. I made a real difference for both people and animals.

It is easy to armchair quarterback and tell myself I should never have left AntiqueWeek. I would still be sitting in my wonderful office having coffee with awesome people every morning. But, at least 30 dogs (and some cats) would be dead. I only fostered the hard-to-place dogs. I fostered more than 100 animals in my five years at the shelter.

Bandit, who is currently snoozing on my bed, would certainly be dead as no one else would have taken him. Sir Puff, who escaped IndyHumane the day after transfer from another shelter, is alive because I spent five hours tracking him through a neighborhood. I illegally entered back yards. I got Batman to do a down stay at the entrance to a yard while I got friends from work to help me grab the little guy. There was Louie, the labradoodle, who we transferred to a labradoodle rescue. He escaped one hour after I dropped him off. I spent the next day driving around Bloomington and after walking through a park for more than an hour found Louie laying under my van and eager to get back in.  I fostered a feral mother cat and her kittens. The mama almost took my face off when I had to take the kittens and her back to the shelter for vaccines. She climbed the wall (an actual wall), and jumped at my face. I had to wear bite gloves to retrieve Calvin, a small terrier, from under a sink. I fostered at least two Chihuahuas that bit people before finding their forever homes. Sweet Guinevere is alive because I refused to give up and started a blog for her that ended up raising the $3,000 she needed for medical treatment. I fostered her for six months while she recovered.

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But, for the first time in my life, I don’t know what to do. After 35 years of having jobs come to me, I find myself unemployed. Although to be fair, I have had several truly amazing people reach out with job offers. And if I hadn’t moved to New Castle and if I wasn’t the caretaker of too many pets (meaning it will be difficult to find a place to rent), then I would have definitely taken at least one person up on their offer. However, in order to afford to drive an hour into Indy every day, I need a certain level of income. I put 31,000 miles on my vehicle and I haven’t owned it a year yet. At this rate, I won’t pay it off before it has 300,000 miles on it.

Suddenly I just don’t know what to do after having such clear direction for so long. It is a weird place to be. I’m going to have to hope that any good karma I accumulated from all those animals I saved comes back to help me out.

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