Anxiety Management

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! It has been an up and down sort of week. We had a lovely time with my husband’s family on Saturday (it always warms my heart when my gluten-free self can eat everything on the table, and it was delicious). Then on Sunday night, I got super sick with a stomach bug out of nowhere. I powered through work for most of the day on Monday (I did end up signing out a little early in the afternoon). Tuesday I took the day off because I had a physical in the morning and I didn’t know how I’d feel after getting poked and prodded, and I also got my flu shot and my covid booster while I was there. I cannot tell you how happy I am to have found this doctor – she is so affirming and pragmatic and it’s such a relief not to have to educate my doctor or be continuously advocating for myself in a medical setting.

This afternoon I have an intake call with a potential new therapist. I’m tentatively hopeful that this will be a good fit and that I’ll be able to get back to working with someone on expanding my toolkit for dealing with anxiety. I also started on blood pressure medication this week, which I am hoping will also help with the anxiety, since anxiety and high blood pressure tend to create a horrible feedback loop (I’m anxious, and my blood pressure is high, which my body interprets as anxiety, etc.). A friend listed out all the things I have going on right now in a text to me this morning, and it really put it into perspective that yes, it does make sense that I’m under some stress and should be utilizing every resource I can to manage it. So that was a good reminder.

I learned yesterday that the university that partners with the seminary I’m starting at next month to do the Spiritual Direction courses is actually discontinuing their Spiritual Direction program, but that it shouldn’t impact my journey – next semester is the last cohort of new students they’re taking for the program. So that’s an additional level of stress that I’m processing. Fingers crossed I’m able to finish all the courses I need to there before the program closes (slated for 2025, so my chances should be pretty good).

Today and tomorrow I’m going to be spending a significant portion of my time between meetings writing performance assessments for my direct reports. I think it’ll actually go pretty smoothly, but getting started is always the hard part with these. I’m grateful for these rockstars and I want them to know they’re doing well, but I also want to give whatever constructive feedback I can to help them continue to grow and excel.

That about does it for this week. As always, here’s your weekly dose of Nova:

Thanksgiving 2021

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! It is Thanksgiving here in the US, which, if you’ve been around for past Thanksgivings, you will know is not my favorite holiday. I don’t have a problem with a holiday celebrating gratitude, but I do have a problem with a holiday lying about the harm done by colonizers.

Anyway, our Thanksgiving plans with my husband’s family have been postponed to later in the weekend, because I am dealing with what we’re hoping is just a nasty cold. Fingers crossed I am less of a sniffly, stuffy, miserable mess by Saturday.

I don’t have a whole lot by way of updates this week. I started looking for a new therapist, because there’s a lot going on right now and I’m starting to recognize that I could use a little extra support in making sure I can manage it all. Oh, and I kicked off the process at work to hire a new person on my team. I’ve never been a hiring manager before, so this is a new experience.

I’m going to leave it there for this week – I need to make coffee and I intend to spend as much of the day as possible curled up with a book and a warm beverage. I will leave you, as always, with a few Nova photos from this week – she drives me bonkers some days, but I am so grateful we ended up with this sweet, sassy dog.

Wild Week

Hello, dear readers! We’ve made it to Thursday. Yesterday felt like a Friday here, so the fact that it is only Thursday is a bit of a bummer, but I will survive. I hope you’re all hanging in there.

It’s felt like a wild week, although in reality it’s been quite mild compared to all the drama with Nova’s medical stuff the last couple of weeks. Last Thursday afternoon I registered for classes for my first semester of seminary (eek!) and ordered all of my textbooks for those. Friday I got my financial aid information, so I spent the weekend figuring that out and returning those forms.

Work has been particularly wild this week, for a whole host of reasons I’m not going to get into here. I have a lot that needs to get done before Thanksgiving next week (next week already!), and I’m not really sure how it’s going to happen, but I’ll figure it out somehow.

It snowed here a little bit last weekend, and Nova loved it. I am both excited to see how she reacts to a real proper snow, and also nervous about getting her enough exercise once winter really hits and I’m in school two nights a week. I should probably start researching dog walking services here to get us a little extra help. She really needs at least 4-5 miles a day, and the loop that I can handle taking her on in the dark when I get done with work is about half that. Usually my husband can take care of the rest during the day, but they’re also looking for work now, so that will probably change soon. So, uh, dog-owning friends in the Twin Cities, hit me up with your dog walker recommendations!

It’s time for me to go get more coffee and figure out how I’m going to get my work done today. I’ll leave you, as always, with a few Nova photos from this week:

All the News

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday! This blog is going up a little late today because it is Veterans Day here in the US and that means I have the day off, and I decided to let myself sleep in. It’s been a long week and I have so much to share.

First things first: I got accepted into seminary! I am meeting with someone this afternoon to go over the plan for classes for next semester. I’m so excited. Definitely also nervous, but mostly excited. Since I’m sure some of you are curious about what in the world is going through my head that I feel like seminary is a thing I want to try, I thought I’d share the “personal statement” I submitted with my application:

I am not necessarily the first person you’d expect to be interested in pursuing a seminary degree. I’m queer, trans, nonbinary, more-or-less agnostic, and have a complicated history with religion, to say the least – I was raised in a church tradition that I thought was safe when I was younger, but that does not accept the fullness of who I am as an adult.

I am, however, often the first person my friends and chosen family turn to when they need a listening ear and some insight. I am called upon for pragmatic opinions as well as intuitive tarot readings. I don’t follow an organized spiritual tradition, but am deeply interested in life’s big questions, even if I don’t feel the need to have the answers to them like I did earlier in my life.

I believe that everyone deserves to be able to make meaning out of “big life stuff” in a way that works for them, and to connect to something larger than themselves if they want to. I am deeply committed to creating and holding safe spaces for people to ask questions and try on a variety of answers. Rather than running from the unknowable, I see it as an opportunity for play and experimentation.

I have watched several friends go through spiritual direction certificate programs and/or pursue ordination in their chosen spiritual tradition, and they have each opened my eyes to new and different ways of engaging with that “something larger,” through everything from music to tarot to roleplaying games and beyond. I carry each of those relationships and experiences and ideas with me into this course of study, and I am excited to see what new ways I might find to engage with spirituality.

While I don’t intend to pursue a career in spiritual direction, I am hoping that this degree will give me a better toolkit to come alongside fellow travelers in the world and hold those open spaces of safety, to engage with a variety of spiritual traditions with openness and curiosity, and to find my own opportunities for further spiritual growth.

So, with that excitement out of the way, on to the other news of the week.

Right around the time that I got the email saying I’d gotten into United on Friday afternoon, we discovered that Nova had managed to chew up and swallow 2-3 inches worth of a beef shank bone we’d given her a little earlier. She’s had these bones before and has only ever gnawed on them, never tried to actually eat them, so I thought she’d be fine and we weren’t paying very close attention until we realized the bone was significantly shorter than it had started out.

(Before I go any further, I want you to know that this story has a happy ending. Nova is fine.)

We called our regular vet, who was about to close for the day and suggested we call an emergency vet. We tried three different places before I found somewhere that was opening in a little over an hour. We decided to drive there and be there right when they opened. Thankfully they were able to see us; they did X-rays and discovered a few pieces of bone in her stomach, but thought they were a size and shape that she should be able to pass on her own. We went home with instructions to follow up with our regular vet in the morning.

We did that – they did follow-up X-rays and there were still pieces of bone in her stomach, but she seemed okay otherwise and they were hopeful that she’d be okay passing things on her own. Sunday passed pretty much without incident – she was a little slow and sleepy but she seemed like she was starting to feel better.

And then Monday morning she refused to eat and had to be practically dragged out the door to go outside. When she remained lethargic and was clearly uncomfortable all morning, we called our vet again, and they recommended we take her back to an emergency vet. We called three different places again and finally got through to the U of M veterinary center, who agreed to see her.

More X-rays, more exams, a lot of waiting. The conclusion was that the bones had made it out of her stomach and had broken down enough that they didn’t show up on X-rays anymore, but her GI tract was just really irritated from processing all of that, which was why she wasn’t feeling well. We went home almost 6 hours later, exhausted but less worried than we had been.

The last couple of days she has been noticeably improving – she’s still pretty tired (and annoyed about that), but she’s clearly feeling much better. She hates getting the medicine I have to give her via syringe 3 times a day to help calm her GI tract down, but she hasn’t murdered me in my sleep yet and we only have a couple of days left of that. I have spent SO. MUCH. MONEY. on her in the past week, and it’s been so scary not knowing if she was going to need surgery. But she’s worth it. (We also signed her up for pet insurance in the middle of all of this, which of course covers none of this week’s adventures but should cover us the next time our sweet little trash goblin decides to eat something that’s not food.)

Thank you for coming on this journey with me! I’ll close this one out with a couple of photos of Nova’s recent convalescent naps:

Waiting

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday. I hope you’re hanging in there, wherever you are in the world. Here in Minnesota it is cold, autumn nosing its way toward winter. We had early morning snow flurries on Monday, though none of it stuck around. The air smells like snow is coming, and if we forget to add layers before taking the dog out we regret it pretty quickly.

This is a week of waiting for me. I’ve been hinting for the last few weeks that I had some big plans in the works, and now that I’m done with my part and waiting on the official answer, I think it’s time to spill the beans: I applied for seminary!

I know this is probably really weird to read. I am not exactly the first person most would expect to be interested in going to seminary. But one of the local, more progressive seminaries in the area has a program that I’m really interested in – a master’s program with a spiritual direction focus – and I decided now was a good time to take the plunge.

Assuming I get in, it’s going to take about four years of part time classes. I don’t intend to make a career shift out of this (now that I’ve experienced being valued for my work and paid accordingly, I don’t think I have it in me to go back into nonprofits), but this is something I’m passionate about and deeply interested in and I’m excited to learn more.

My application materials were all officially submitted on Monday; I’ve been told I should hear a decision in the next week or two. I am doing my best to be patient.

I will leave you with some festive photos of Nova in the Halloween costumes I went overboard ordering from Chewy:

Ow

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday. Congratulations to us – we’ve made it this far.

I am rather out of sorts this morning. I’m dealing with a TMJ flare-up this week that’s got my jaw aching pretty badly…badly enough that it kept me awake or kept waking me up for most of the night last night. When I got up this morning I pretty much immediately ate a muffin and then took a muscle relaxer and a prescription-strength dose of ibuprofen to try to get back on top of it. It still hurts, and now I’m a little out of it while I try to work. But I’m not really sure what else to do at this point, short of attempting to strap a heating pad or an ice pack to my face. Sigh. Thankfully the meds did take the edge off, so while it’s distracting, I at least have the brainspace now to think about other things.

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster week aside from that. On Saturday we went to see Vance Gilbert, one of our Song School instructors and an all-around gem of a human, perform at a local coffee shop. Vance was the first Song School person we’d seen in person since right before lockdown hit in March of 2020. It was so good to see him and hear him perform! Going to the concert meant leaving Nova alone for the longest she’d been by herself since coming home with us two months ago. We were nervous, but she did great. She was very excited to see us when we got home, but she didn’t destroy anything or get into anything she shouldn’t have!

Monday was rough, although the last couple of days have been better. Last night I got to play D&D, which is always a highlight. Work has been busy, but manageable. Tomorrow we’re getting our piano tuned, so that’s exciting (I’m planning to take Nova on a long walk while that happens).

But first, I need to get through today. The muscle relaxer is a pretty mild one, but it’s strong enough to make me a bit drowsy, so today is going to be interesting. I’m already struggling to keep my eyes open and focus. But I’m sure I’ll manage.

I will leave you with this photo of Nova from earlier in the week, doing what I’d like to be doing right now:

Snoozy pup using her paw as a pillow

Settling Into Autumn

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday! Apologies for the later-than-usual post today; the morning got away from me a bit.

It’s been a quiet week, for the most part. The fall weather has really arrived in St. Paul, which makes me happy (as someone who’s pretty warm-blooded but loves wearing sweaters and other knitwear, I live for fall/winter weather). I’m definitely feeling the pull to prepare for winter hibernation.

Sunday into Monday I had a headache that I just couldn’t shake. I ended up calling off from work on Monday after I figured out it was partially a photosensitivity thing and I decided staring at computer screens for 8 hours was probably not going to help. I ended up reading the entirety of The House in the Cerulean Sea while I was trying to distract myself from the headache – I’d picked up the book when we were in Duluth and I really enjoyed it! I’ve not been reading much this year and it felt really good to devour a book in one day.

Yesterday, I had an in-person doctor visit with a new-to-me doctor, and it was…shockingly affirming? Like, I left feeling like a human being and not a freak the doctor didn’t quite know how to handle. It was really refreshing to not need to educate my doctor on “Trans 101” or “BMI is Not an Indicator of Health” and honestly I’m not sure what I’m feeling more strongly – gratitude that this was my experience or anger that this isn’t the norm.

I have other news in the works, but I think I’m going to save that for a later post when it’s more official. In the meantime, I hope you’re all hanging in there, and I’ll leave you, as usual, with a Nova photo:

Portrait mode is magical.

Up North

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! There was no blog last Thursday because I was on vacation and attempting to unplug as much as possible. I was pretty successful, and it was an absolutely wonderful time away.

We ended up going up to Duluth a day earlier than originally planned, which made the whole trip much more relaxing than I think it would have been had we tried to cram everything into a day and a half. Nova was a bit anxious the first night, but by day two she was fine – she had a lot of fun making friends with the other dogs on the boardwalk. Taking three days off from work was just what I needed, and I came back feeling much more settled and rested than I’d felt in a while.

I’m going to leave this as a short blog this week – I have an exciting thing in the works right now but I’m not quite ready to share it with the world at large yet. Hopefully in the next week or two I’ll be posting about that here!

Little Moments

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday. My brain keeps thinking it’s either Wednesday or Friday; not sure why I seem unable to land on Thursday this week. But here we are, the last day of September (how did that happen?), and I’m staring at the blank space on this screen wondering what to write about.

This week has been good, overall, though there have certainly been stressful pieces. Mostly, though, it’s been a week of noticing the little moments.

On Sunday, we went to a Twins game with my husband’s dad and brother, which was super fun. Their brother decided it would be funny to throw his hat at the end of the national anthem (and again during the 7th inning stretch), and even though the Twins lost, it was still a really fun time. I hadn’t been to a baseball game in quite a while (since well before pandemic times), and I was reminded how much I enjoy baseball, even though I don’t follow it closely. I played softball for many years as a kid, and because of that, baseball is the one sport where I feel like I actually mostly understand what’s happening.

While we were at the baseball game, my dad came and watched Nova for us, which I think they both enjoyed.

On Tuesday evening, Nova and I went for, I think, the longest walk I’ve taken her on so far. It was a really lovely evening, weather-wise, but there weren’t a lot of people out for the first half of it, which was odd but made for a very calm walk. We noticed the trees that are just starting to change color down by the river, which gives me hope that when we go up north next weekend we’ll get to see some pretty leaves.

I leave you with this snuggly picture of Nova that my husband took this morning. Take care of yourselves and each other. There might not be a blog next week, as I’ll be headed up north on Thursday, but we’ll see what happens.

Allergies for Everyone

Good morning, dear readers – we made it to another Thursday.

As you can probably tell from the title of this post, some of us have sneezed and sniffled our way here. Ragweed season is really bad in the Twin Cities right now, and I am struggling…and so is Nova. We’ve been giving her Benadryl all week to help with it, and it is helping, but it’s pretty heartbreaking when she gets really itchy and is clearly uncomfortable. I’ve just had a perpetual sinus headache and continue to want to sleep all the time. I’ve made it to my desk on time for work every day this week, though, so that has to count for something.

I’m not in the best mood today, mostly because of how sniffly and gross my head feels. To counter that, here are three things I’m grateful for this week:

  • My friends. I’ve had several reminders lately that I really do know the best people who really care about and take care of each other, and I’ve really been overwhelmed with gratitude that I have such incredible people in my life.
  • D&D (and other games). I got to play D&D on Tuesday night, and even though it kept me up well past my bedtime, it was so worth it. I’m also working on starting a game of Wanderhome with some other friends, and I’m so excited to try this system out. The importance of play and of story in my life is huge, and I’m reminded every time I get to dive into a fantasy world with some friends how much of a difference it’s made to have those things.
  • Fall weather. The heat seems to have finally abated, and now it’s been in the 60s the past few days. It’s supposed to get back up in to the 70s today, but I think the 80s are behind us, and that is just fine with me. I’m looking forward to wearing sweaters soon!

I will leave you with this ridiculous picture of Nova, who was definitely not at all interested in what my husband was eating when they took this photo:

Hello, I see you have pizza. I also would like to have pizza.