THIS IS US

To escape a strict upbringing, I learned to embrace my independence in the pages of used books

Photo by Trnava University on Unsplash

The library fostered my first act of rebellion. I was 12, peddling uphill on my older brother’s bike, the Southern California breeze warm against the sweat on my face. I was not allowed to play outside without permission, much less bike two miles down a busy road to the local library — but there I was.

I knew my parents would be gone for approximately two hours. I needed to make it home before they did if I was going to successfully hide the fact I’d been out while they weren’t home. But biking up the long hill back home…


People are quitting because there’s no reason to risk your life and wellbeing for such low pay.

Photo: Mathieu Stern/Unsplash

If you’re an American, you’ve probably heard about the national labor shortage. There’s a combination of factors at play causing this shortage — such as women unfairly pressured into leaving the workforce to care for and educate children at home — but the issue most workers will point to is the low wages.

Republicans, however, don’t see it that way. They blame Biden’s stimulus package and the unemployment benefits for de-incentivizing workers to find jobs. But Biden’s plan is working just as he wanted it to: creating competition among employers to raise standards, such as base pay, for their workers.


Why I chose to leave the platform, despite my large following and the supposed “success” I found there.

Photo by Marie-Michèle Bouchard on Unsplash

For the past several years, I’ve used Twitter nearly every single day. Through my writing and efforts to build a personal brand and mission, I’ve accumulated a large following. At its height, my account had nearly 20,000 followers.

Yesterday I sat down and deactivated my Twitter account. I made the announcement several days ago so that my more active followers could, if they wanted to, reach out and exchange information with me to stay connected via email or my private Instagram.

My decision to leave Twitter was not a whim or a result of a specific issue. I have been…


Through the loss of a childhood dream, I learned to find beauty in grief.

Photo by Beth Jnr on Unsplash

Every spring, daffodils come bursting through the cold, hard dirt of winter to reveal their yellow flowers like long-awaited sunshine after the snow. They are so irresistibly beautiful that the scientific name for wild daffodils, Narcissus pseudonarcissus, references the Greek myth of the man who fell in love with his own reflection and was turned into a flower by the gods. Surely only a flower as beautiful as the daffodil would do for a man like Narcissus.

Here in Oregon, where the wild daffodils make their beloved appearance each year, it’s easy to be enchanted by them. Daffodils arrive like…


What I hope we can learn from Annika Schleu and Saint Boy.

Schleu and Saint Boy during the riding portion of the pentathlon. Iván Alvarado, Reuters.

Hopes of a gold medal for German pentathlete Annika Schleu crumbled when her assigned horse was unable to perform during the showjumping portion of the Tokyo Olympics event.

Riders are randomly assigned a horse to compete with, and riding a new horse is part of the challenge — and a heavily criticized one. The horse, Saint Boy, had already refused jumps earlier in the day for a Russian rider, but for whatever reason was not pulled from the event.

Saint Boy was immediately nervous on entering the arena and quickly began refusing to jump. Schleu rapidly devolved into tears of…


THIS IS US

How one small act of kindness changed everything for an animal in need

I didn’t know what to expect when I saw my new horse for the first time. I had paid for her sight unseen, and arranged for her to be shipped to Oregon from Washington. It was nerve-wracking, but that’s the nature of rescues — you don’t always know what you’re getting yourself into.

This May, I bought a horse from a feedlot, where the animals wait in purgatory to be shipped out of the country for slaughter or bought by someone willing to give them a second chance. She was an unhandled youngster, fearful of people, and in rough shape…


Unfortunately, it seems I’m stuck with my cats.

Photo by Wade Austin Ellis on Unsplash

Don’t get me wrong, I love my cats. Let’s just start with that disclaimer so you don’t worry that I’m only writing this to bash them or something. I’m not at all ungrateful for my kitties. My husband and I adopted a pair from a litter at our local cat rescue. We call them “our boys” and treat them like they’re children.

With the boys taking up our rental’s two-pet limit and the unlikelihood we’ll buy a house with a yard anytime soon, adopting a dog isn’t currently an option for us. But if I could turn back the clock…


Do what you love — but only if you make money from it.

You could be happy like this person if you take my advice. Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

These days you would be absolutely crazy to think the income from your full-time job is enough. If you aren’t pulling extra hours in the evenings or on the weekends, you’re missing out on an additional thousands of dollars in monthly income.

What do you currently spend your free time doing? Probably things you enjoy that help you relax — your hobbies. Those activities could be making you big money, if you’re smart and hardworking enough to sell yourself and your soul. Sleep is for the weak, fun is for the boring.

As money guru Dave Ramsey says, you have…


Even for someone who has it pretty good — things are bad.

Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash

I’m not going to lie, the headlines are a little scary right now for someone who is already trying not to panic about their future.

I live in the Pacific Northwest, where we had a terrifying wildfire season last year that blanketed my town in such thick smoke you needed a mask to breathe outside. Fortunately we were already wearing them, because of the unprecedented global pandemic we were also living through.

Last summer the wildfires, exasperated by extreme drought, didn’t get bad in my area until August. I remember standing outside at the horse stable, watching over my mare…


Our three month relationship was a little toxic.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Trying to earn money on Vocal is a little bit like winning the lottery. A slightly smaller pool of candidates, sure, but it’s still a lottery.

A few months ago I signed up for the platform when I saw an advertisement for one of their writing challenges that seemed like an interesting prompt. I wrote my entry, beamed with pride as I submitted it, then waited. And waited.

My entry took several days to get approved by editors before it was published with the wrong featured photo. The online editing system had been glitching while I wrote, and swapped photos…

Sarah Olson Michel

Writer. Humanist. Multitudes of interests.

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