I am “mourning the loss” of my vocation. In August 2015, when I went on a weekend retreat with the Carmelite sisters of the Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, I was told that I would not be accepted to their order, and that I have a “gift” for working with families and “helping them heal”. I was also told that I should consider a vocation to matrimony because “you’re full of life”. Which of course my sarcasm picked up on, later. I felt completely called to their order, made peace with the little things I disliked. I was in; so I thought.

Once I was denied entrance I did not have the chance to process the loss or to even consider what would be next for me. I had the financial concerns of not high enough income to meet my basic needs, leading to several job interviews, low-balled salary offers, and my employer giving me a raise 6 months after the fact. In short, financially, I had been living 10% below COLA. Which doesn’t sound like much until I compared my $47k (pre-tax) salary with my $51, 172 annual costs. These costs were not based off of going out every week, clubbing, none of that: oil changes, rent, LADWP, car insurance and loan, student loans, and health bills all added up to more that I could earn in a single year.

Last year’s ordeal ended with a raise just before the holidays, but not before I had learned to can jams and jellies for family and friends for Christmas – taking 10$ for food and $10 for supplies. My sister and her then-fiancé gifted my parents great things, I, jam. Beautiful Cran-raspberry jam. Anyone who returned the jars over time has gotten new jellies and jams: blueberry-Lemonade, watermelon, raspberry.

Fast forward to December 2016, I have my license, making me an LCSW. I hope to move at the end of my lease to a different area and cleaner, more spacious apartment. I will begin looking for new work. As usual, I’m making quilts and playing with my 2 hamsters in the evenings.  This fall I made apple-pomegranate jam. I enjoy it for giving treats, but not as a solitary Christmas gift which I was forced into last year.

Have a blessed Advent.

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Substandard

Since my last post, my financial issues have continued to get worse. I continue to pay in excess of 360$ for car insurance. I learned this is due to my insurer coding the scrape I incurred from my then-new garage as an accident, instead of hitting stationary, inanimate non-vehicular object. No injuries, no bodily injury, no collision payout to a non-existing second party. Thank you, Farmer’s Insurance Exchange. You’ll be losing my business once I find someone to replace my policy at a slightly lower cost.

I’m looking at other positions in the mental health community. I have started to dislike my job very much. Since the company picnic for it’s community services sector, the supervisors have been embarrassed by how it was presented:

  • no hired entertainment: we had a theme, each team was to dress and act it out.
  • dessert were those little plastic cups of ice cream that usually come with a wooden spoon; except there was no spoon.
  • Vegetarians received a flattened sandwich from Subway (creepy, right?); meat-eaters got what looked like a kid’s meal with a thigh/leg/breast from KFC, with cole slaw or Mac & Cheese
  • There were $5 Starbucks gift cards for winning a water balloon toss, party hat made from the animal/long thin balloons

I don’t want cookies, or a water balloon toss. This company is an embarrassment to itself. On their career page they say “join one of California’s  largest and most awarded behavioral health companies” and boast of being selected as “Best Places to Work” in 2012 by L.A. Business Journal. How can you expect to be seen as awarded and best when you treat your own employees as children? How can you strive to be a local industry leader (they tell us this is their goal in staff meetings) when you treat your employees in a substandard manner? I have been with this company for four years, and I’m still paid below entry-level for a full-time, 401(k), health benefits position.  When I’m done paying rent, car insurance, car payment, student loans, internet, gas, gasoline, Water & Power, and my out of pocket therapist (nearly no therapist is covered by the insurance provided to us; I checked): there is  no money left for me to buy food. Let alone things like car batteries (I had to get a new one the previous week for $200, which led to me cancelling my therapy for two weeks), shoes (which have holes and are falling apart), birthday gifts for family members, Christmas gifts, co-pays on medication for migraines (I haven’t  been able to take medication for years due to this).

I’m embarrassed by my employer: treatment, lack of appropriate income/compensation, pressure to take PDL if we don’t meet productivity quotas, etc.  I can’t even talk about this with friends or family members whose own employers host parties and company picnics with catered food, provided entertainment, give a raise that’s worthy of being called a raise.

It’s not flowing

As a therapist who works for a nonprofit which contracts with various school districts, I invariably drive a lot. It can be assumed I listen to an unfair share of talk radio. I listen to the gamut from cocky Rush Limbaugh to Hannity to Mark Levin. Larry Elder has in on-again, off-again. Of course there are the “fillers” like financial gurus Dave Ramsey and Clark Howard. This is just the secular stations, I’ve got at least one Catholic station saved on the AM dial as well.

In August I usually take a good, long hard look at my budget. The bills that increased in July, are starting to come in; I’m waiting to hear from my property manager about whether rent will increase when my lease terminates at the end of August. Things aren’t computing. I’m not spinning this, I’m not at all related to Bill O’Reily. I promise! On paper I look excellent, earing $47,500 prior to taxes. After my wages are manhandled by greedy, bloated government, I have a ghastly $30,264 left.

Out of 30,264

  • Rent (900 x 12) = 10,800
  • Internet (34.99 x 12) = 419.88
  • LADWP (87.39 X 12) = 1,048.68
  • SoCalGas (8 x 12)= 96
  • Gasoline (304.10  x 12) = 3649.20
  • Car Insurance (336.37 x 12) = 4,036.44
  • Car Loan (276.91 x 12) = 3,222.92
  • Student Loans 1 & 2 (242.28 x 6) = 1453.68
  • Student Loan 3 (88.46 x 6) = 530.76
  • Groceries (min. 100 x 12) = 1,200
  • therapy (100 x 52) = 5,200

What I am left with: $-2,255.64 annually

2015 budget reality

What I didn’t include in this is the annual fees for CA DMV registration (upwards of $170), registration with BBS ($75), AAA auto club (IDK), &c. With these included in the deduction, I’m left with nothing. I live in the red.

Routine oil changes on the car cost about $180 annually. What about brakes? Hey, my coolant tank and/or hoses have been leaking. What if I go beyond the $20 grocery budget? Need new shoes/clothing? The water or electricity bill goes up, as it will? How about this year I’m trying to get licensed and just registering for the exam is $200; not to mention testing fees and study materials? How about having to pay off my credit card bill?

In actuality, I don’t have $160 left at the end of the month. Through my account on mint.com I’ve been able to see where each dollar goes ( I pay with my debit card, I don’t carry cash). I have, on average, $40-60, via credit card. Don’t get me started on my parents asking, “Why don’t you have any savings?” Like, really?!? Are you kidding me? Even better, “Are you planning on going somewhere for vacation?” It’s a hoot when I’m asked if I’ll get a raise. I get a 2% raise, which is 20cents added to the hourly wage which is the base for my salary. I’m trying so hard right now to keep myself together. Let’s not consider the likely increase in rent, and my financial inability to afford the cost of moving.

If you could say a prayer for me, I’d really appreciate it.

Same Old Poop

I know the answers to the unspoken questions that pull tears from my eyes.  I know not to ever ask ever again “When will it stop?” I came as I promised Monday  evening to pick up some food and the old food processor and juicer. She was upset, I guess I was too precisely on time. I said, “I’m here” and the response was “Oh, okay. Whatever.” Dad’s response to me was don’t start anything. Me? I came on time. I came as promised. She’s mad when I come, when I don’t visit.

I can’t entertain the crazy.