I don’t know how I came to make my living as a pet sitter. I really don’t. I love animals but have an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Masters degree in teaching; after my divorce, I was committed to being a teacher. Went back to school, got a para job in the public schools; was a 42 year old student teacher (did my thesis on math anxiety in preservice teachers) and invested years trying to get a full-time teaching job in Utah—doing stints as PE teacher, testing coordinator, reading interventionist—sacrificing time, money, and my own peace of mind to do so. I saw myself as a teacher; my brain kept telling me that story over and over again: that starting a pet sitting business would be the supplement to my teaching income, helping me make ends meet for a single parent like myself.
But Life is sometimes like unwrapping a gift in slow-mo: the joy at the end is often part of an agonizing process of patience. Because I love this picture, I love Kora, I love the bark of this tree, I love how,—within a single shot—the snow unifies all of nature’s creatures, resting on Kora and trees and ground—leaves uncovered slightly as if through archaeological dusting another world is being revealed—and how the colors and texture mix and contrast until I feel—cold and wet though I was when I snapped this—a palpable experience of peace when I look at it.
And while it’s hard to back up from such a picture and not question why I was unable to see myself within this story, the questioning makes me wiser. For though unwrapping it was agonizing, the joy of finding myself here has taught me that it takes a long time to learn how to get out of your own way in order that you could more fully know yourself but in so doing, emanating from the wreckage of former certainty are often the most lovely things.
Like the calm of white snowflakes drifting towards the fur of a black dog slowing you down so you can more fully see what you are.
[I graduated in 2011–a tough teaching market anyways–and didn’t start pet sitting full-time until 2016, five very stressful and disappointing years later. Sometimes Life has to pound harder on the door for certain people]