finding happiness

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Parrot Life

Published March 21, 2017 by sarcasmica

Birds were never in my plan. Animals, yes, birds specifically, notsomuch.

My “life plan” (chuckle chuckle chuckle) was to flounder in community college for a little while before sticking with the sign language interpreter program. Once I mastered that, I would go to Moorpark College in Simi Valley, CA and work as an interpreter while simultaneously studying in their exotic animal training and management program. In order to study in the program, you also have to work at the college zoo. The only block I had was how to get through all the bug stuff. I hate bugs. HATE. I can appreciate their role in an ecosystem and yes I understand how important they are blah blah blah, but handling them?! No.

Blech. I can’t.

Anyway, I got as far as my interpreter program. I didn’t even complete that. See, my step mother was the interpreter coordinator for the campus in addition to a teacher in the department. (That is how she and my dad met and later married) My last semester I had a class that is only offered once/year at only one time. I was at the end of my last semester in the three year program when my dad died. Being as how I was the only offspring of either side to help my stepmother make arrangements, get through the awful tragedy, and deal with the hurricane of tedium you have to deal with when a loved one dies, school suffered a bit. I still made it to my final roughly a week after the funeral… the funeral my teacher for the same class attended along with most of the department and all my past and present instructors.

Guess who failed the class? Yup. Moi. I wasn’t expecting a free pass, I wasn’t expecting an A, but can you really not help someone out in that scenario? Really?! Can you honestly not offer some kind of counseling on the side or advice? Just F, done, buh bye, sorry for your loss.

Anyway, I was bitter after this happened, naturally. I also was connected through my step mother with my first signing job in Irvine at a high school. I moved to Irvine and could not manage the 2 hour rush hour commute for the one hour class back in Torrance, either. I just let it go.

Anyway, that job and that city led me to Arizona and another job and then got married and had a kid and life and yada yada yada. Long story short, I never made it to Moorpark College.

In my early 20’s while still in school, a friend of mine was a manager at Petco. She offered me a job as a Bird Specialist and I’d be in charge of the department – ordering, feeding the babies, caring for the cages and animals, stocking, etc etc. I took it knowing any knowledge needed I’d have to research myself since they do not have any sort of extensive training for this. I loved it. It was sad – seeing the state they were delivered in from breeders – but it was also gratifying – being able to educate people on a pet. I was absolutely astounded at how many grown people have a fear of birds. Kids would readily go into the bird room while their parents stood outside shaking their heads and twitching at the thought of wings coming at their face. (a common fear, apparently)

Anyway, I suppose that’s where the seed was planted. Ironically twenty years later I’m working the other side of the pet industry. It’s exactly opposite, actually, right down to me volunteering and not getting paid to care for the birds that people could not for a million and eighteen reasons commit a lifetime to. It’s so rewarding that there’s about 65 volunteers that the sanctuary heavily relies on for feeding/cleaning/food prep/grooming. I’m always impressed with the volunteers that balance this work with a paying full time gig. There are students, retirees, unemployed (moi) but we all, I think, look forward to our time there helping out.

Everyone has their niche. Some people like the cage work; cleaning and feeding. Some people like the massive open flight area. Some like the rooms and some don’t even interact with the birds. They handle food only. My happy place is the room. I have one room where I’ve learned about 70% of the birds names and know them fairly well. I don’t handle many because, quite frankly, I’ve seen enough bites to not be excited by that happening. I’ve had only one bad bite that’s left a scar, but like most stories of bites it was my own fault. I took a bird out and she didn’t want to return to the room when I needed her to. Instead of getting a perch, I kept insisting she step up on my arm and after repeatedly pushing back with her beak, she finally gave me a good clear chomp. … then I got the perch. Duh.

Funny enough two of my favorite birds reside in rooms completely different than my favorite. I don’t hold it against them, though 🙂

Anyway, I don’t know if I’ll ever get to fulfill my wish of actually working and interacting with wild exotic animals for a job, but truthfully my kids and these crazy parrots seem to be filling my heart. So while I figure it out, I’ll just keep taking pictures and hope people enjoy them.










Junior (i think)





I’m Pretty Cool

Published July 23, 2015 by sarcasmica

This has been something I’ve been working on this past year, more knowingly than not. I must say, it’s feeling good.

When you’re born into a biome, you grow into it.

(take a minute while I have a sip of coffee to contemplate that)

There are aspects of you that will emerge despite your environment, but by and large you are programmed by what surrounds you. When you become an adult and hear stories and see events in other people’s homes you begin to look back at where you came from and either appreciate or reject certain aspects.

My environment was heavily independent. Independent was given a term = strength.

As an adult, I do not fully agree with this sentiment. There is strength in being able to do things without help, but it also can greatly hinder you…   greatly. It gives someone the idea that asking for help is worse than the alternative. This turns into pride. Pride is a dangerous beast when left to grow on it’s own.

Pride as a feeling of accomplishment is a great motivator…. but if it was not taught that way, for instance because one might feel praising someone does not facilitate independence, it’s hard fought to come by later in life.

That said, I think i’m pretty cool now sitting here at the last ounce of 38 years on the planet. I’ve done some shit. I’ve accomplished some stuff. I’ve managed some hurdles. I’ve even jumped successfully over a few of them.

And that’s pretty cool.

I’ve suffered in pride and silence over some things because mainly I am no good at asking for help. Needing help makes you look weak, right?

No, stupid. It doesn’t.

Asking for help because your back no longer functions as it should and you cannot pick up a laundry basket and carry it down the stairs is common sense. It’s not something that is going to ‘fix itself’. So I got help, thankfully, from a good chiropractor. It has changed lots about myself.

Like, I can wash my stinky chonies.

It has allowed me to consider exercising. I am 38, overweight, on meds as a result and close to being diabetic. Obviously I cannot change that on my own, so I had to ask for help. I had to ask for the opportunity to pay someone to help me. (:) ) I am now working with an amazing trainer who understands a lot of my road because she has walked/jogged/sprinted/squated/burpeed down the same road. I can lift a barbell over my head and not have to fear bed rest for two days because of it.

It’s empowering to see yourself progress. Even if it’s slight. Forward is always better than backward.

I have been working with a therapist for myself and with my husband for our marriage. Asking a professional for help with issues you have fought over 3,000 times with no resolution is insane. Literally. Expecting a different outcome from the same process is literally the definition of insanity! Expecting you or your spouse to just “grow up and deal with it” is not at all realistic. In this case, asking for help is putting your pride aside for the well being of your marriage. That is not weak, that is strength.

My personal belief is that everyone has ‘shit’. Everyone’s shit is different, and it is processed uniquely. Who wouldn’t want to have a captive audience listen to you rant and ramble for an hour?! And not to interject what their own experience is, but rather give you tangible, useful insight to help you get better at what you want to get better at? If you can’t see the value in that, then maybe that speaks volumes to how much you actually might get from a session.

There are no scary tools in that room. She does not hypnotize you. Zero nipple clamps, from what i’ve seen. I promise. I sit on furniture, not The Rack.

One valuable thing i’ve learned recently is this; “I am not responsible for your emotional well being.”

This has carried me through quite a bit.

Recently I have dipped my toe into the realm of work. I attempted to actually get a paying job at a facility where abandoned/abused farm and domestic animals are taken in, healed, cared for, and re-homed. It was a bit far from me, and after three attempts at a follow up and getting zero feedback, I went another direction. I’m now volunteering at a parrot sanctuary.

It’s amazing. Totally amazing! In my 20s I was a bird specialist for Petco. I loved it. … well, the actual animal handling and care part. Inventory, stocking, customer service were not my favorite, but the animals by far were the best part. I taught myself how to groom them, feed them, clean them, handle them , and in some cases tame them.

When I found there was a sanctuary close by, and they were taking volunteers, I was giddy. I barely slept the night before I began.

Volunteering with the birds made me feel useful. Purposeful. Smart. Capable. Things that you question as a mom, quite frankly. For the most part, I think I have two very smart, caring, well behaved kids while still encouraging their own personalities and abilities. They are still children, so they have their rabid feral moments…. heightened during the summer months.

But the things I get to do on my own, to help animals who were abandoned or abused by the people who committed to caring for them did more for me than it did for them, I suspect. These animals belong in a tropical forest somewhere. They belong in a flock or pair. It’s awful that a person decided capturing a thriving, healthy, living wild animal and caging and breeding it was more valuable than this animal’s life is terrible. And the magnitude to which this pet trade grew and demanded is disgusting.

To be able to feed, water, talk to, possibly hold or even touch these birds is magical to me and now I get to do it every week. It makes me feel great, and that is good, and I do not for an instant feel guilty that my life allows me the blessing to decide what to do with three hours of one day out of my week. I will not apologize for finding some happiness and fulfillment for myself because you know what? I deserve it, I DID work to get it, and by God I will appreciate it.

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