I got up today with the sensation that November had gone in a flash. As if October had been naturally followed by December…One day, I had still one month of volunteer work to do, and the next one, I was finished volunteering. Just like that.
I guess that it is just a sign of how busy this month has been.
Looking backward, I can see it clearly. I have been working on four different projects and in two different places:
– The general volunteering at La Ceiba
– The preparation of the research station at La Ceiba
– The organization of a webinar at JRC
– The work at the JRC clinic
General volunteering at La Ceiba
As I have written before, the 1st of November was my last day volunteering at the Jaguar Rescue Center (JRC) as a general volunteer. It basically meant that I stopped going to the JRC, and instead, I started working in La Ceiba, where we also live. La Ceiba is the pre-release station of the JRC, as of today, hosting 35 animals in different stages of release.
Although the tasks that I need to do are nearly the same as in the JRC (that is, the what – preparing the food plates for the animals, cleaning their cages, doing enrichment, raking) – the way it was done (the how) was completely different. For starters, I could plan my day and organize it how I thought was best. And stick to my plan. The only thing that the manager required from me was that the animals were fed at 0730 is 0930, and 1430. And that their cages would be cleaned every day.
So, management by objectives and empowerment. And it worked like a shine. I was happily going through the tasks, undisturbed. No conflicts. No tension. Just pure bliss. Plus, the manager has repeatedly indicated that he was very happy with my job.
Preparation of the Biological Research Station
Because I could plan my day, I could finally devote some hours every day to work on the preparation of the biological research station and finish all the tasks that I had committed myself to do on time. At the end of November, I finally sent the documents to the managers of the JRC. Check. Done.
A webminar for the JRC
At the end of October, I was called to a meeting by the owner and manager of the JRC to discuss the possibility of organizing a webinar. They wanted to have me on board because of my experience organizing seminars. I went to that first meeting with the firm intention of not getting involved beyond that meeting because I had too many things on my plate. Frank -that knows me well- had even advised me to kindly say no to that first meeting… but I had already said yes, so I went. And, of course, my intentions of not getting involved went under the door the moment that we started talking about themes and people…and so I ended up in the organization of a webinar on the challenges to conservation in times of Covid.
The last project was also unplanned. I was having coffee with the vets of the JRC clinic, a group of super competent, hardworking people when they offered me to join them a couple of days in the clinic as an assistant. This is something that is usually reserve for other vets or people with some medical background. It was a great honor, and, as the saying goes, it was an offer I could not refuse. Or I could, but I didn’t want to: working with very nice people, with animals and the possibility to learn a lot. DEAL.
The challenge was, of course, to fit the days at the clinic with my already full schedule. Ah! I have an idea: If I do not take any free days over the last weeks and I take two days of my holidays in December, maybe I can fit some days at the clinic. I will be tired, but it will be worth it! Perfect! (no comments – especially not from Frank).
Why November went so fast
It is no wonder why the month went so fast. I dove into my “survival” mode, going through my schedule as a machine. Wake up at 05:45, yoga, shower, breakfast, insulin Matilda, prepare food plates, cleaning cages, doing enrichment, working on the preparation of the biological station, going to meetings, prepare food plates and continue working on the preparation of the biological station until dinner, prepare dinner, go to bed.
On the 28th of November, I sent the document of the biological research station; on the 29th, I finished my volunteer at La Ceiba, and between the 30th and the 2nd of Dec, I have been working at the clinic.
And then I have been sleeping for two days….duhuuuuuu!
Why I always end up overloaded with work
The original plan was to devote November to work 100% on the preparation of the research station. So, how did it evolve to 4 projects in two different places?
I think it is a combination of my willingness to help and the possibility to learn new things. Let me deconstruct the four projects. I accepted to volunteer one more month on the research station because it was a great opportunity to do something new, to learn how to set up a biological research station in the tropics. Then, the three volunteers that were working at La Ceiba quitted, and I felt that I could help the manager with the animals since I already knew what needed to be done. Then, I was called to help with the organization of the seminar, and through the discussions, we decided on a topic in which I could learn a lot, both in terms of content and networks. And finally, I got the opportunity to be in the clinic, in which I could help the vets for some days in which they didn’t have any extra hands, and I could learn new things. So, having the opportunity to help and learn is a lethal combination for me. I cannot say no. And so, I end up with too many things on my plate.
In my defense, 😉 I have to say that one of the main purposes of this sabbatical was to experiment with multiple identities (more about that in another blog). I just wonder if I will be really able to stick to my plan of doing less when I return to work…