Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Four months away

The year could not be going faster.  It is almost the end of 2012 already which means I am just a little over four months away from the greatest journey of my life (as of now, because I plan on doing many greatest journeys).  Preparing for this trip has been more than stressful.  Why is it that we constantly stress about absolutely everything?  To the point of exhausting ourselves?

First of all, I hate money.  I absolutely hate it.  Especially with over 20 grand of debt from college.  And it seems like no matter how hard I try, how many extra hours I work, how many commission pieces I do, I cannot make enough.  I find it extraordinarily sad that after working ourselves to death for four straight years, more and more college students struggle to make ends meet.  I count myself lucky that I have not one, but two jobs to keep me going.  And they are two wonderfully fabulous jobs with great people that I have come to love.  Plus I now have time to read books that aren't for school!  And even more time to do my artwork and get my website started!  But the travel bug has been tickling me lately and getting me more excited for this trip just around the corner.  And then STRESS drops into my lap.  The trip is already paid for and I also have now just purchased my new camera - Canon EOS 7D with a new telephoto lens as well!  It was a big purchase and I'm feeling a bit of buyer's remorse because it was a huge chunk of savings.  I have become so stressed about the funding for this trip, that I have actually worked myself into illness.  I now have constant headaches and extreme exhaustion along with a flock of butterflies roiling in my stomach.  Don't you think I would have learned my lesson by now?

Chris is constantly telling me not to worry, to take things one day at a time.  It's sometimes hard when you're looking at the big picture and starting to hyperventilate about all the bills.  And Chris just reminds me about how much I have been looking forward to this and how it's all going to work out in the end.  I have a wonderful family and support system that would never let me falter.  Plus, I got to see one of my best friends in the entire world this past weekend!  Sioned came all the way from Alaska to see me and I am so blessed to have a friend such as her!  And I get to go visit her before I leave for my big trip - going to Alaska has been another life dream, and to get to be there with her is just icing on the cake!  I also have incredible employment opportunities to work with big cats right here in the US upon my return from Africa.  So why DO we worry?  It's silly really.  I blame Obama.

I just have to remember Matthew 6:25-27, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"

So long for now,

p.s. Isn't this the greatest thing you've ever seen?  This is Samson - can't wait to meet this character!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Having a goal

Ever had one of those days where one thing really gets you down and then all of a sudden, everything you've turned the other cheek to brings on the flood-rains?  I had one of those days recently.  Don't get me wrong, it takes A LOT to get me down.  And I mean a lot.  I know that I am a very strong person because of what I have gone through in my young life.  I carry a lot around on my shoulders and always try to stay positive because what's the point of living life sad or scared?  So I figured I would share what I went through the other day, and what it took to get me back on track.  It felt important to share it for some reason, so I don't know, maybe there's someone who really needs to hear what I have to say so it can influence them in some way.  So bear with me :))  And, yes, I will get to the lions!

Many of you know that I work retail at Cherry Republic a couple days of the week.  The rest of the time I'm out painting and teaching art and working in a gallery in my favorite place (as of yet) on Earth - Elk Rapids, Michigan.  I love my days at Cherry Republic and the people I work with there.  I don't have much of a social life because I work so much, so I get much of that fulfillment in the land of cherries.  I was having an absolutely wonderful day, when I said something I shouldn't have to a customer.  We were trying to make conversation because our credit card machines were being so slow and so we asked the woman at the register what she had bought at Chico's (a clothing store) and she explained her purchase and that she probably had gone overboard.  And I remarked, "Is your husband going to say 'oohhh, what did you get now?'"  It was meant to be funny, but I knew right away that I had hit a fresh wound.  Her reply was, "He won't say anything."  I of course apologized right away and was mentally punching myself.  She didn't say anything after that as we completed her purchase.  I have to admit I started crying right there in front of her.  My grandmother and I had been talking about Grandpa quite a lot lately and it immediately made me think of him and how lonely Grandma is.  So many thoughts ran through my head, like how this woman's husband had probably passed away recently and she was trying to have a nice day to forget a little.  To make a long story short, I felt horrible.  I had to go into the back to get a hold of myself.  Thank God, I only had about a half hour left of my shift. 

When I got home, Mom was just leaving for a couple hours so I decided to take Eli (my awesome dog) on a walk.  He loves walks and going down to the beach so he can run out in the open for a while.  I also took him to the dog park so he could play with some doggie friends which he REALLY loved.  He was tuckered out by the time we got home.  But that whole walk I had time to think and brood about unresolved or fresh wounds.  First of all, the Grandpa wound was opened pretty fresh from the reminder earlier that day.  Eric being moved away from home for his first year at college.  Marian is all the way in Colorado chasing after horses and living the wild life in the mountains.  Sioned is in Alaska living on a boat for months at a time studying invertebrates and furthering her career as a biologist.  And Jess is in Florida interning at Disney World, having the time of her life (whom I can't wait to visit down there in a month).  Chris is all the way in Indiana working his butt off (although we have done really well with the long distance).  All of my very greatest friends are far away from me.  And then I have a few friends that live not two minutes from me that seem to not want anything to do with me, who don't return calls or texts or any other means to communicate.  Needless to say, my social life is at an ultimate zero right now.  I do work about 50 hours a week which takes up a huge chunk of time, but the money is needed to save save save.  So I guess you catch my point about being mopey.  I got really down on myself and was punishing myself really hard, which is VERY unlike me. 

I got home and pretty much broke when I got to talk to Chris.  He lifted me back up again; I am so thankful for him in my life, he is my rock.  But once we finished talking I broke again.  And it took my mommy to make everything bad go away.  It's funny how moms always know how to make everything better, no matter how bad things are they always know just the right thing to say.  She explained to me that I DO have friends, they are all fulfilling their dreams just like I am.  I am just doing it closer to home for the time being.  And even though we don't get to talk too often, our friendship never goes away.  She told me how important it is to have goals in life, and I happen to have a really really BIG goal approaching that I am making happen all by myself.  And life after college is hard.  So very hard.  All there is is work now (until husband and my own family happen in a few years), and working all the time is different.  It's a big adjustment.  The most important thing she said was that friends come and go.  And, yes, it hurts when ones you thought would be there for the long haul flake out.  But it's the good ones who stay and we must always ALWAYS look ahead, never behind.  Chris, Jess, Sioned, Marian, and many others will always be there, and there will be new friends in the future.  I have a few newfound friends just in the past couple weeks (coworkers at Cherry Republic).  We have fun talking in accents and giggling like children.

And then there are my plans.  My big goal.  Africa.  Lions.  And TIGERS!  Drakenstein is adopting two tigers from a zoo that is closing in the southern cape.  It's going to be exciting to not only hear lions talk at night, but be able to walk next to tigers and hear them chuff in greeting (but hopefully not sassily spray at me).  I also read something about chimps and a few other animals that will be joining the Drakenstein family.  I will be in heaven.  I'm thinking about writing a book about my time in Italy and Scotland while I am in Africa since I will have a lot of time on my hands.  I journaled and blogged my whole time in Europe and went through some serious life changes that I kind of want to write more in depth about.  Who knows, I might write a book about Africa too :))  I've also started thinking about my life after Africa.  Buying a new car (Honda all the way, people!), moving to Tennessee to keep working with big cats (MAYBE - don't panic, nothing is final).  Keep painting to raise awareness about the problem with canned hunting of big cats not only in Africa but also right here in our ever so flawed country.  My future is bright and in God's hands.  And THAT is what is in the forefront of my mind. 

TTFN (ta ta for now), Tiggers truly are wonderful things :))
p.s. This is Edina, whom I cannot wait to meet - her face is so unique

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Excitement rages at 8 months away...

I guess today you might say I got a little carried away (wow, rhyme much, Kelsey?).  I had a horrible night's sleep and, consequently, to occupy my brain I started thinking about things that excite me: one of those big things being my trip to Africa.  This got my heart racing and mind reeling to the point of no return, and because of that I am probably running on less than two hours of sleep today.  THEN when I got to work I read every page on Drakenstein Lion Park's website, looked at every single one of their lions and read their stories, and looked at every single picture on their Facebook page.  And THEN (no, I'm not done) I watched every YouTube video that mentioned Drakenstein and got a closer hand look at the place I will be living for four months and the people I will be working with (not to mention the furry ones).  Hence this 8-months-ahead-of-time post (8 months and 11 days to be precise).  BUT...this is not the first time I've done world traveling and I know how fast time flies.  Soon enough I'll be sitting back here on my bum in the USofA thinking "where the heck did Africa go?"  Needless to say, I'm looking forward to my time living in a cabin right next to the lion enclosures, listening to them talk at night, drawing them, loving them, working for them, and most of all bettering the lives of a few lions at a time.  I will leave you with a quote from the owner and founder of Drakenstein Lion Park, Paul "the lion" Hart: "Saving one animal may not change the world, but for that one animal the world will change forever."

Ta ta for now!  I'm sure I will be posting again soon about being even more excited. -K-

p.s. If you're interested in where I'm going, here are a few links for you:

p.p.s. The lion shown above is Gaucho, one of the first that will definitely appear in a painting upon my return :))