Wild Card Wednesday: Sweet, sweet employment… and cake!
Sorry, peeps. I’m a tidbit excited, because I enjoy being gainfully employed. ^_^ I also enjoy a good challenge, and this job (a vet assistant at a local animal clinic) is unlike anything I have ever tried. Of course, when I was about 7 Veterinarian was on my long list of things that I wanted to be when I grew up, but then life happened.
Well, life is happening again, and it’s brought something back to me that I always wanted to try, so I’m pretty stoked. I’m very lucky, actually, because I am in a position to decline offers of employment– I have had three interviews this past week, I got three job offers, and I got to pick. I did not, you may be surprised to learn, pick the job that compensated best monetarily. I think enough of all of my readers to believe that this won’t actually shock that many of you. ^_^ Instead, I chose the one that is going to make my heart happy and let me see my husband a reasonable amount of the time.
See, I learned a very important life lesson this past year (and yes, I put that in bold because I hate that term immensely, but I recognize that sometimes it is useful). I had been working at a middle school as a Paraprofessional– someone who works with Special Needs students. I was out of work by 3 every day, I had a consistent half-hour lunch, and most of the kids were great. Did I have hard days? Absolutely. Pre-adolescent melt-downs are especially difficult when the meltee doesn’t have the ability to find equilibrium, never mind the desire. But all the same I went home feeling a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that what I was doing mattered.
Then came along a pretty, shiny job that seemed to be everything I wanted: a cause! an office! more money! LOTS more money. So I went for it. And what I found was that I was all alone in my pretty office with a decent paycheck and absolutely zero personal satisfaction.
So… who cared about the money? The part of me that thought I was supposed to. The part of me that really believed that I would be happier if I could buy myself more stuff, or afford to have my hair dyed at the salon. When it came time to move to Tennessee, it was the part of me that said, “NO! Don’t get rid of that book/tchotchke/piece of clothing you haven’t worn in a year… You might need it!” I have been fighting with that part of myself for a long time now, and although the closet full of stuff in our guest bedroom will attest to the contrary, I actually got her to shut up for a while while I was selling things and giving them away and otherwise purging them from my life. I mean, jeez– how much did she think was going to fit in my Focus, anyway?
In the weeks before the move I spent a lot of time assessing and obsessing over the situation. I promised myself that I was going to use the break the move would give me to figure out my priorities. What did I love doing? How did I want to spend my time? Why, at 26, was I still trying to be someone I’m not?
I’m not a business-minded individual, so being an entrepreneur was probably out… full-time retail is NOT my thing (even though I *love* working seasonal… great discounts ^_^)… and I don’t think I’d do well in a factory. Anyone care to guess what my options are down here? Yeah.
The truth is, family matters more to me than anything else. Spending time with them, pampering them, building those relationships. I don’t necessarily want to be a stay-at-home anything, but I sure as heck don’t want to work 60+ hour weeks, either. I want to make sure that I have the energy for my hobbies and my husband, and I think I might even want to go back to school at some point (God help me) so flexibility was a must.
But what else? Why else was I feeling driven to work? To make more money to buy things I don’t really need? It took me some time to figure it out, but I finally realized is that my financial priorities were pretty simple: pay my bills every month, and have a little left over for fun and savings.
Figuring this out gave me another lightbulb: I don’t have to work full-time to do that. So I’ve been focusing on finding jobs that would allow me to contribute financially and maintain some semblance of a life. You can’t take it with you, you know?
My third need for work is a little more… subjective. I am physically incapable of doing work that is inane. That whole break big rocks into little rocks, just put your piece on the conveyor belt and pipe down kind of work? Not for me. It turns me into a crazy lady so fast it would make your head spin. Well, crazier. Oh hush.
I need to do work that matters. This, as you can see, is the part that is so subjective. What “matters” to me may not be the same things that make someone else tick. I feel driven to help, in whatever way I can. I want to make people’s lives better, or at least make whatever time they spend with me not suck (hey, you gotta start somewhere).
We have such a special relationship and responsibility with animals because they do not experience this life in the same way that we do. It’s our job to care for them (if we so choose), and make the decisions that affect them… even the tough decisions. I think those of us who are pet owners can agree that our furry family members significantly impact our quality of life, and when they are sick or injured it can throw off your whole routine. I’ll get to be there for those people and their pets, and hopefully make their visit to the vet’s office just a bit easier.
I can sleep at night doing that kind of work, and I can feel satisfied knowing that at only 30-ish hours per week I’m fulfilling my self-imposed requirement of having time for fun and family.
And cake. Having time for cake is VERY important.
Fall is finally starting to creep into the air down here… little hints of crispness around the edges of all the humidity. Last week we had 3 or 4 days that were down in the 60s, which feels cold enough when the temps have been 95+. All that fall weather makes me want to bake, of course, and I just happened to have some pretty apples on my table… so I went on a little search and found a recipe for apple cake with cinnamon maple icing.
It was a fun weekend project for C and I, and I would *highly* encourage you to go apple picking this weekend and then make this cake.
Apple Cake with Cinnamon Maple Icing
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves OR allspice
- 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 2 tart apples, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°
2. Butter and flour an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan.
3. In a medium bowl whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through salt). Set aside.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy (about 1 minute), then gradually add the brown sugar and beat until light. Add the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat another 30 seconds.
6. Add the apple (and walnuts if you are using them) and stir by hand.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake 40-50 minutes or until top is light golden brown and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting with…
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
- 6 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 3 Tbs. butter, softened
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
- pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- pinch of salt
- 1 Tbs pure maple syrup (or more to taste)
- 1 cup confectioners sugar