walking down crazy street

Posted: November 28, 2010 at 8:55 am

i watched “remember the titans” last night and i occurred to me that those racist folks did not know they were bigots…they were 100% convinced in their wrong thinking minds that they had the right of it all. it was the ones who doubted themselves and questioned what they believed, who in the end became the far better people…but the ones who shut themselves away in the dark so sure of their righteousness..they were the ones who lost in the end.

the rescue road is fraught with land mines of dark minded thinking….anyone who surrenders a pet is evil and wrong….my rescue way is the only rescue way…people who rescue as a huge part of their life must be a little bit crazy…and if someone does not like you and is lost in the darkness of their own negative rage will think it is perfectly ok to spew out slanderous and delusional toxic waste while they obsessively stalk you 24 hours a day.

i actually do worry about one day becoming a bitter and/or crazy or enraged bucket of toxic waste….i don’t want to spend my life believing in trying to do good while the reality is i just cause more harm and pain. that would pretty much suck and be a waste of me and my life.

my greatest teachers in life have been watching those who i did not like what they did. i watched the selma riots on tv as a child and vowed never to be a racist. i watched burned out night nurses tell the weeping elderly to pee in their diapers cuz they were too heavy to lift onto a bed pan. i watched people in rescue be rude, aggressively obnoxious, i watched a few of them cross over the crazy line. and in watching… i learned exactly where i never wanted to go.

so i get caught up in these periods of self doubt and introspective thinking, where i try to find those seeds starting to grow. and the only way to dig them out is to accept my part of the responsibility in any of the bad things that happen in my life.

i make a lot of choices and decisions every day that i make because i believe it is my job. i believe that saints is my responsibility to keep safe and that i am supposed to be ensuring the animals and the people who come here are protected and well cared for.

sometimes the wrong people or animals come here…it doesn’t mean they are bad or evil..it means that they just don’t fit very well. .and that poor fit can cause a whole host of problems for me and for the others here..human/and or animal.

with the animals, i have only two choices…either find a way to manage them and whatever their issues are or put them down. these animals are here because they had no where else to go..so sending them out to nowhere is not a third option. most i have found a way to manage..a few i have not. and the responsibility and consequences for either decision are mine.

people are harder because i am the eternal optimist..the volunteers and BOD tell me i am too trusting, to willing to see the good and potential in folks..they say i give too many chances for those causing problems to mend their ways. they say i have to quit letting broken people inside our gates because the end will always be the same…eventually i will have to ask them to leave and when i do, sometimes what follows gets pretty nasty.

and people do tell me to watch what i write on the blog…that i open the gates for the stalkers to cherry pick thru to find ammo they can then twist for their use…to belittle me, to validate themselves, to cast doubt upon myself and saints as a whole.

i don’t think i want to be afraid to be who i am..i think if i worry too much about not causing myself discomfort or pain..i think i lose a big part of me. i do try not to take in pain in the ass or dangerous animals and when i do..i have to deal with them. i do try to keep saints a place of peace and goodness..i think the animals and the humans here really appreciate that.

sometimes i let too many animals in, sometimes i let the wrong kind of animals and people in and it makes all of our lives here more difficult..and i apologize for this. but i am always afraid to shut the gate on that one animal or person who not only really needs to be here but who will flourish here and finally find some peace or hope or happiness in their lives too.

i built saints to share..to share with the animals..to share with those who want to come here..to share with those too far away to visit themselves.

i love this place…i want to share that too…. it is just sometimes i make mistakes so i share that too. but sharing does not mean i am giving anything away..,sharing means sharing not abdictating responsibility and ownership…that has never been up for grabs.

i need to be clearer in my figuring out my responsibility here..i need not to worry so much about conflict as i do need to worry about doing the best that i can. i am responsible for what goes on inside our gates…every single aspect is my ultimate burden to bear. so when things are not going very well..i need to find solutions to get us back on track…if the animals are stressed because i let too many in..then i have to find ways to reduce their stress til the numbers start going down a bit. if i let the wrong animals or people in then i have to find a way to deal with that too. doing my job does not make me crazy, it does not make me a horrible person..it makes me a person with responsibilities to fulfil.

i am always worrying about walking down crazy street but today this place feels right to me..this place feels good. the bigots i saw in that movie, the ones so sure in their heads that they were right..they felt anger, they felt fear, they felt violence and loathing..they blamed everyone else who did not think or feel the same..they did not feel positive, they did not feel good, they couldn’t because there were dark and unhappy feelings spewing outwards from them.

i need to keep checking in on myself from time to time to look honestly at how i feel about my life…and the lives of those in my care.
i am the true barometer of my own personal life..i just need to take the time and not be afraid to read that barometer that is quietly sitting here.

9 Comments on "walking down crazy street"

  • Dear Carol –

    I will put this out here & I’m going to do my best to phrase it in a way which is kind & hopefully, ultimately helpful.

    There is a well known problem with start up companies who become successful, with the founders struggling through the transition to a mid sized company which has a board & other executives who have a real & tangible say in running the company. It seems pretty inevitable that founders identify with their company too much, & are not just unwilling, they seem pretty much physically unable, to hand off responsibilities. This is their baby!

    It’s always a rocky time for companies in those times. Boards need to exist not just in name, but also to function as boards, & they cannot when founders view the entire organization as *their* & only their responsibility. It is notable that often during this period of growth, companies experience high rates of staff turnover, & frequently a fair bit of ‘drama’.

    It is when companies make it to a point where boards & executives all feel they have a stake in the organization, when it’s a “WE” that is running the place, that’s when things settle down & smooth out again. When things get to a certain point, you need a team approach, & teams cannot function when one person feels they bear the entire responsibility for the endeavour.

    I am not making any comments about the structure or function of your governance or your board – I know nothing about that. But I am hearing you talk about your responsibilities (“every single aspect is my ultimate burden to bear”) & I’m suggesting that for SAINTS to succeed & make it to the next level, that perception of responsibilities needs to change.

    Sure, CEO’s & presidents do feel the responsibility for the entire operation & good ones take responsibility for everything that happens – but good ones also know when it’s time to put in place good people & good mechanisms (policies, procedures) which will build an organization that is durable & that can function beyond the will of one individual.

    I think the alternative is to pull way back, scale back down & stay small.

    In kindness ~

  • Carol says

    no offence taken…we are and have been down this road before. there is no doubt in any of our minds that this is “my baby” and it only is successful (in terms of the animals feeling good about being here) because i am their 24/7 primary responsible caregiver.

    i am well aware that the face of saints is going to have to change cuz i don’t want to be living this for the rest of my life. and if we want it to stay the same..then someone else has to take over my role and live here with them (which no one sane wants to do)…smart move.

    we are actually having a meeting in a couple of weeks where we all brain storm the possible futures for saints.
    once we have a plan in place, the move will begin to get us there before i retire.

    i have been clear with everyone from the start…i control what happens here inside these gates in terms of the animals..i know them best because i live with them and i have the medical knowledge and the psychological knowledge they need to live as seniors and special needs in a multi-species communal living arrangement. it ould be pretty irresponsible of me to put anyone else less experienced to make decisions regarding the animals themselves..but even so…all of the staff and all of the volunteers do have input..i tell them what i am thinking or worried about and they put forth their perceptions and ideas and we figure it out from there.

    but contrary to common belief..i do not control every aspect of saints…i keep my nose out of the others areas because they are the experts in what they do. and quite frankly i am not doing their jobs because i happen to know i am not very good at doing what they do.

    ever since that first reference to the “founder syndrome” came up…certain people have used it as a weapon to poke at me…(i don’t see your comment as this by the way)
    and it is in reality a real concern. BUT..we also have to have the reasonable and achievable plan in place to move past it and we are actually discussing this too. people forget that we have only been in existence for 5 years and in that 5 years our growth and rate of change has been phenomenol.

    saints was not originally started or built as a democracy…the democracy began when we had gathered enough people that i trusted to help make the decisions. we have some really good, intelligent, honest and ethical people with us now whose committment has been proven over and over again.
    so now is the time that we are ready to look at how saints will be in the future as a group endeavor that is no longer solely dependent on me.

    i do want to add however that as long as saints is parked in my home..i do have the right to determine and decide exactly what happens here..just like you can determine how things are to be in your own home too. saints does not own the property, saints does not pay the mortgage or any type of rent..saints is here because i chose to do this and personally bought and then invested my full family inheritence initially to renovate this place for senior and special needs animals, like wee hopeful bug and cole and spritely..to have a compassionate and respectful and comfortable home to live in…i did not do this for any one else or for any other reason or with any other people’s money so to a certain degree it is not just founders rights..it is legal home ownership and homeowner occupency rights which play a part in this too.

    for all of us,,,this is currently not a simple founders control issue..it is actually pretty complex and we are working our way thru trying to figure it out. and while a few people like to judge me sometimes and tell me i should do whatever they think from afar that i should be doing right this minute now…ain’t no one telling them in their home what they are supposed to be doing too. and we do need time to work this out cuz we have to make sure the end result still works well for the animals.

    can you imagine if i did what the hasty and all knowing judgemental finger pointers out there think i should do? saints would be totally screwed. i would rather take our time and do it right then just step aside and hope for the best without any kind of thought out preparation.

    if folks think that is a simple crazy founder control problem..then those folks haven’t a clue about the complex issues and responsibilities involved in founding, managing current and future growth and change and ultimately personally retiring from this type of large and successful animal rescue.

  • CherylR says

    Well as far as I am concerned you are the “Mother Teresa” of the animals. I dont think there is any one like you.

    One of the owners of a large animal rescue told me that YOU, ARE THE HERO of animal rescue and I truly believe this. I dont know if anyone can imagine what it must be like to go through what you go through every night – your worries and fears when there is even one small change with one of them.

    There is obviously some politics here and I am in no way involved but one thing I know is that YOU ARE NOTHING SHORT OF AMAZING!!!!

    And Thank You for being the wonderful and special person that you are.

  • Carol says

    ok that made me outright laugh cheryl..it is the hero crap surrounding me that causes the most trouble of all..tell your friend i am no different then he/she or anyone else is..i just talk about ALL of it a bit more.

  • colleen b says

    Oh crap, Carol…you ARE different and I personally think you owe it to yourself to accept the occasional compliment now and then!

    I’m no ‘dinosaur’ in rescue, but I have been around the block a few times – very briefly with SAINTS, and more intensely with the rescues here. I hear things like “We don’t intake reserve dogs, because mange and parvo cost too much.” or “We do well financially because we don’t take in dogs with health issues.” or “We told those people their dogs died, but really we just adopted them out to different families.” or “We left that dog on the side of the road because the truck was already full.” I don’t ever hear these kinds of things from you. No, you…you pick up dying squirrels from the side of the road and put them in your purse.

    People give you these compliments because they want you to know that the work you do has made an impact on them, and to make sure you realise that people care a lot about you and what you do. Just enjoy the kind words that people throw your way, even if it does cause trouble. Let those words take up more room in your heart than the shit that people like to throw your way as well 🙂

  • Carol says

    i do believe colleen that in all honesty… compliments make me more uncomfortable than mean comments do..mean comments just piss me off..kind words make me feel embarassed….see.. now i can feel myself squirming and blushing..tell me to “f” off and i will feel strong again!

  • lynne says

    no colleen is right grab and run with your compiments you deserve them. weird how something so unselfishly given as your love for these animals has sometimes to be made to be something else. i will never understand how anyone can fault you with what you do. damned if you do and damned if you dont. had a good time at saints today, sometimes it goes more smoothly then other times, loved my schmoozes with perdy wish i could take her home. had 4 dallys is the past and never a problem with any of them. see you all next weekend.

  • Carol Ann says

    OK Carol “f” off Now I hope you feel better cause we all love you for your kind heart. 🙂

  • Marisa says

    Great line, Colleen: “Let those words take up more room in your heart than the shit that people like to throw your way as well.” Such wonderful advice. We all let the negative stuff thrown at us outweigh the positive even if most of what we hear is positive.

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