Nervous System Regulation

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! (I initially wrote that as “welcome to Thursday?” which actually feels pretty accurate right now.) It’s been a decent week so far – we’ve managed to maintain our newly-cleaned kitchen pretty well, we’ve cooked a few more times (I’m making tacos again tonight), and things are generally good.

We’re leaving in a couple of weeks for Song School, and I’m so excited. I’m also so anxious. We’re boarding Nova for the first time for this trip, and that’s a stressful thought – she has separation anxiety, but I know I do, too. (We took her to the vet yesterday to get her up-to-date on all her booster shots, and they gave us some trazodone for her to help with the anxiety of boarding and of going to the groomer.) It’s the longest trip my husband and I will have taken together since the last time we went in 2019. Instead of camping this year (since I didn’t want to figure out camping with a PAP machine), we’re staying at a tiny house resort across the street from the festival grounds where Song School happens, which is exciting but also unfamiliar. On top of the trip itself, I have a big final paper due for my one remaining summer class the Friday after we get back, so I need to start on that (thankfully I know what I’m writing about and got that approved by my professor, just waiting for the books I need to arrive so I can get going on it). And at work I’ve just kicked off the process of hiring a new person, and I know I have at least a couple more people I’ll be hiring in the next couple of months. It’s all just adding up to a lot – I have a tendency toward travel anxiety anyway, and all of these layers of stress are compounding into what feels like an unreasonable amount of nerves for something that is ultimately a thing I’m really looking forward to.

I’ve been thinking a lot about neurodivergence lately, and how that part of myself intersects with the other parts of me. I’m learning how to be gentler with myself, to acknowledge when I need accommodations in some situations, and to work out how to make those accommodations happen. Since I’m in a particularly stressful time (and a time that is going to continue to be stressful after I get back from Song School, as I’ll be taking 3 classes this fall on top of working full time), I’m really trying to focus on what my body needs and how to keep my nervous system a little more regulated amidst the stress. I am trying to lean into my self care and soul care practices that help keep me steady.

Thankfully, I have therapy this afternoon and can brainstorm additional regulatory tactics with my therapist. I’m grateful that, despite the stress, I’m feeling capable of handling everything. I know I have the capacity to do the things I need to do; I’m just learning how to honor that capacity without trying to power through things I don’t need to power through.

Anyway, I’ve rambled enough and I’m late in getting this posted, so I shall leave you with your weekly Nova photodump:

Gratitude

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! I’m slightly late getting this posted today, but here we are. I don’t have a lot of stuff to share by way of news this week, so I think I’m going to do something I haven’t done on here in a while and share a few things I’m grateful for lately:

  • Queer community care. Last week, my husband and I decided to put out a call to our local queer exchange on Facebook to see if someone would be willing to come over and give us some judgment-free help unearthing our kitchen, which has been some level of disaster basically since we moved in a year ago and hadn’t really been functional for at least a few months. We hoped if we could get some help cleaning and organizing that we could set it up more functionally for our neurodivergent brains to make food prep and cooking a lot more approachable. The response was overwhelming – so many people offered to help. We ended up hiring a fellow neurodivergent human who was an absolute delight to have over; they worked with us for four hours on Saturday and another three on Monday, and last night I finally got to cook in our kitchen for the first time in months. (We had tacos; they were delicious.) I am grateful that care for community is such a strong characteristic of the queer spaces I’ve been fortunate to be in.
  • D&D. About a month ago I connected with a new, in-person game with a group of folks I’d never met before. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go initially, but we’re 5 sessions in and I’m having a blast (even though my first character died after two sessions of play; I think the character I’m playing now is a better fit for this table anyway). I was a little worried that adding an additional recurring thing to my schedule (on top of work and school and regular life stuff) would be too much, but that chance to just play and escape into a story for a few hours every week is so important to me. I’m grateful that I landed in such a good group for my first in-person game in a long time.
  • Connection. On Sunday I was able to get lunch with a friend from undergrad who was in town. We hadn’t seen each other in years and we didn’t have a ton of time, but it was SO GOOD to get to catch up a little bit and celebrate how far we’ve both come. I also got to participate in a “queer writing party” that a friend hosted Sunday afternoon, and it was inspiring to share that space with folks and hear what other people were working on. I am grateful for these opportunities for connection in the midst of everything going on globally.

I will leave you, as ever, with your weekly dose of Nova:

Rest and Reset

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! I’m a little late writing and posting this today; it’s my first day back to work after an extended long weekend, and I have been working on getting my bearings again.

My four-week intensive class wrapped up last Thursday night, and in honor of that, I took Tuesday and Wednesday off from work (in addition to Monday’s holiday). The time off has been a bit of a mixed bag. Mostly, I’m so used to having so much to do and such a regimented schedule that I felt a little aimless and drifting without things on the calendar. Still, I managed to rest and have some fun, so that was good. Here are some of the highlights of the week:

  • On Sunday, we had a four hour Zoom hangout with my best friend who lives out in WA. It had been way too long since we’d talked like that, and it was absolutely delightful.
  • Monday we went to my in-laws to have ribs for dinner; it was delicious (and it was great to see them)!
  • Tuesday was a busy day:
    • That morning I met with my academic advisor and got a better sense of what’s going on with my degree program (when I entered, the partner school that was offering the concentration courses had just announced they were discontinuing that program; thankfully, my school is going to pick them up and the program will there), which was a relief and gave me a little more of a sense of direction.
    • I got my hair cut, which always makes me feel like a new person.
    • Nova and I went for a lovely walk with my parents, including a stop at a little riverside bar to rest on the shaded patio before heading home.
    • That evening, I got to play D&D!
  • Yesterday, I was struggling a bit – I had nothing on the calendar, but because of the intensity of the last month, I kept thinking there was something I must have been forgetting, so I had a bit of a hard time relaxing. But I did end up having some fun – I recorded some guitar tracks for a couple of songs, and finished listening to the audiobook of Terry Pratchett’s Witches Abroad, which I’d started on my trip to New York back in May.

I will leave you, as always, with a few Nova photos from this week:

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! I spent most of yesterday thinking it was Thursday, but now it’s actually here and Friday is almost upon us. My week was a bit thrown off because my Tuesday night D&D session ended up getting canceled, and my schedule is so regimented these days that suddenly having a 4 hour block back in my evening really threw me for a loop.

The big news this week is that I finally got my Carrie Fisher tribute tattoo on Saturday! It’s in the unpleasant, flaky stage of healing right now, but this is what it looked like fresh:

It’s Leia’s lightsaber, and the banner text is my favorite Carrie Fisher quote: “Be afraid, but do it anyway.” I love how it turned out!

Other than that, it’s been a pretty normal week. I have the final session of my four week intensive class tonight, which is wild. I have to give a brief presentation tonight and then our final project is technically due next Friday, so I’ve got some time to polish it up before I turn it in. I’m taking an extra long weekend this weekend to celebrate being done with that part of summer semester, and I’m looking forward to that!

I will leave you with a few photos of some great Nova naps from the past week:

Planning

Hello, dear readers! We’ve made it to another Thursday.

It’s been a decent week here, for the most part. The weekend was lovely. On Saturday, my husband and I attended a Zoom workshop that two of our beloved Song School teachers put on about tips and tricks for managing a neurodivergent brain. There was a lot of useful information and we’ve been working on starting to implement some of the tips this week. One of the big things we’re working on is having a quick check-in every morning to run through the major schedule items and tasks for the day, so that we are on the same page and can better support each other in getting things done. We also got some great reminders and tips about the difference between projects and tasks, and help in breaking down projects into tasks. Did I use what I learned in the workshop as an excuse to buy a new planner? …maybe. But all in all I’m excited to work a little more gentle structure into my day and have a broader toolset for the two of us to support each other.

I’m really enjoying the in-person D&D game I joined a few weeks ago. It’s been a bit of a tumultuous start – I was really excited about the character I created, but halfway through the second session, she died. It wasn’t malicious on the part of the DM – I got unlucky with my dice rolls. Thankfully, I had a backup character rolled up and ready to go. I was sad about the loss of the original character, but I actually think this new character will be a better fit for the group.

I only have two class sessions left of my four week intensive! I can’t believe it’s almost over already. It’s been a really good class, and while I’m overwhelmed by getting the last of the work done while having the first bigger paper of my longer class due right as this class ends, I’m confident I’ll be able to do it.

I’ll leave you with a photo of Nova from yesterday – there was a pigeon on a windowsill across the alley and she was absolutely TRANSFIXED:

Sleep is Magical

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! This week has been a little calmer than last week was, which has been nice. I am finding that I’m losing track of what day it is despite having a pretty full schedule every day, so that’s a little weird…I’m blaming the heat and humidity.

I’ve had my PAP machine for almost two months now, and I’m starting to really notice some tangible differences in my life because of it:

  • Before starting on the PAP machine, it was normal for me to get up (or at least wake up) at least half a dozen times in a night, if not more. Lately, I haven’t been getting up at all during the night.
  • Before, I regularly felt the desire to tap out and go to bed before 9pm. Now, I can stay up until 10 or 11pm and be okay the next day.
  • Before, I was regularly in bed for 10 or 11 hours a night, even though I was only sleeping a fraction of that time. Now, I’m usually in bed 8 or 9 hours, which might not seem like a huge difference, but feels really significant to me.
  • Before, I had to be really careful about how much I scheduled on weeknights if I wanted to make it through the work week. Now, I’m able to play D&D on Tuesday nights, go to bed around midnight, and function just fine at work the next day.

The list could go on and on, but those are the big things I’m noticing so far. Sleep is magical and I can’t believe I let myself go so long without it.

Anyway, on that happy note, I will leave you with your weekly dose of Nova:

Birthday Weekend Adventures

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! Despite this being a normal work week for me, I’ve been a bit scrambled as to my days this week. But we’ve finally made it; it’s almost the weekend.

I had a truly lovely birthday weekend. I took the day off on Friday, and my husband and I took Nova with us on a little adventure to Interstate State Park in Taylors Falls, MN; we stopped at Franconia Sculpture Park on the way back for a picnic and more wandering, and then popped into Wine Haven for a few celebratory bottles before coming home and relaxing for the rest of the afternoon.

Saturday, Nova went to the groomer (which she was not happy about), and that afternoon I went on a tree/plant identification walk with a local druid grove that I recently connected with before going out for drinks with my college bestie that evening. It was a really lovely day.

Sunday we brought Nova to her first restaurant patio for a birthday lunch with my parents, and she did great! She even got her own burger patty.

The week has been good so far; Monday night I started my second summer class, which runs twice a week for four weeks. It’s intense, but I’m excited about it. Tuesday was session 0 for a new in-person D&D game I just joined. I didn’t know anyone at the table, but I think it’s going to be a really fun group!

The other fun thing that happened this week was we got Nova’s DNA results back, with a few surprises:

I hope you’re all hanging in there. I will leave you with one more Nova picture – please enjoy this view of her pouting because I was the meanest and wouldn’t take her to her favorite store last night (because they were closed):

Pre-Birthday Ponderings

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! It is the last day of a short work week for me, because tomorrow is my birthday and I decided to take the day off.

This year’s birthday feels a little bit bittersweet, for reasons I’m still puzzling out. I’m grateful to have made it to another birthday and through another pandemic year. I think the thing that’s feeling harder right now is that I’m still figuring out friendship and community and who my people are now that we’re back in Minnesota, which is a hard enough thing as an adult in general – and that difficulty is compounded by living in a pandemic. I’ve put a lot of effort into finding new groups to connect with, and I’m proud of that work…but now it’s a matter of waiting and seeing which of those connections pan out, and there’s not much to do but be patient and keep showing up.

There’s a lot going on in my life right now that’s good and promising and life-giving. There’s also been a lot lately that’s been hard. I’m learning how to hold both of those things without shoving one off to the side and ignoring it.

I don’t have a lot of celebratory plans for tomorrow – we might take Nova out for a hike, but we might also just walk around the neighborhood. The weather is supposed to be lovely, so getting outside with her is definitely on the list. We’ll probably order something in for dinner. Saturday I’m planning to go to a nature/education-related event with a group I recently connected with, and then I’m grabbing drinks with an old college friend that evening. Sunday we’re meeting up with my parents for lunch and taking Nova to a restaurant to eat out on the patio for the first time, so fingers crossed that goes well.

My intensive class starts on Monday, and will take up my Monday and Thursday evenings for the month of June. I’m excited about it, and also a little nervous. I also start a new, in-person D&D game on Tuesday. I don’t know anyone at the table; I connected with this group via Facebook. So it’ll be an adventure, but I’m tentatively hopeful that this will be another opportunity to make some new friends.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at. Birthdays are weird and make me reflective. I’ll leave you, as always, with your weekly Nova fix:

Settling

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. It is almost Friday, and thank goodness for that.

After the chaos of the past couple of weeks, this week has been all about settling back into some sort of routine and getting back into the swing of schoolwork. There is still chaos, but it’s feeling less like a crisis and more like something we can tackle over time.

I honestly don’t have a lot to report this week. I’m tired, and definitely have had a few days over the past week where I’ve felt extremely burnt out and cranky. But also, I’m managing. I’m recognizing when I’m feeling those things and why, and regulating myself as best I can.

I’m working on finding an in-person D&D group. The first one I connected with fell through, but I have a strong lead on a second, so fingers crossed that works out.

I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite photos of Nova from the past week:

Back and Still Breathing

Hello, dear readers! Welcome to Thursday. It has been A Week. In fact, it’s been Two Weeks.

Life has been utter madness the past couple of weeks. We had multiple family members end up in some sort of crisis that we had the means to assist with to some degree – I won’t go into detail, because they aren’t my stories to tell, but this is the basic outline:

  • The week before I left for my work trip to NYC, we made some last-minute plans for my husband to travel to Boston to help someone out for a week. The plan was for them to leave here on Wednesday while I was still in NY; we arranged for Nova to stay with my husband’s godmother for a few days until I got back.
  • The day I left for NY, a situation closer to home blew up, and we ended up needing to host some folks and their stuff in our apartment. My husband managed to get an extra key to our apartment from the building manager.
  • Wednesday, my husband called me in a panic because Nova had gotten into a box of dried goods while they were at an appointment. Thankfully, she had pretty much just destroyed packaging and left the actual food alone, so they didn’t need to go to the emergency vet before my husband went to Boston. That night was our giant company party (which was fun, but a lot). While at the party, I learned there were tornado warnings happening back at home. (Thankfully, everyone was okay.)
  • Friday, I planned to get to the airport early and work from there until my 3pm flight. I am not usually superstitious about Friday the 13th, but it was a doozy:
    • I had to go through the body scanner twice and then get patted down because my (lack of) junk was flagged as suspicious.
    • My laptop refused to connect to the airport wifi, and I was running low on phone data.
    • I had forgotten to charge my laptop before I left the hotel, and there was a paucity of outlets in the terminal I was waiting in at Newark.
    • Just as I was figuring out a work situation, I got news that someone I’d been face-to-face with the day before had tested positive for covid.
    • Thankfully, a coworker was able to take over most of what I’d been planning on doing from the airport as I scrambled to find alternative housing for the folks who were still at our apartment.
  • I got home, managed to get folks to their next temporary space, did a quick sweep of the apartment to make sure things were Nova-proofed, picked up Nova from my husband’s godmother’s house, got home, and crashed.

It’s been a weird week since then, being solo with Nova, but she’s been a trooper and is mostly behaving herself. I’ve been testing for covid daily, because of course, every day more of my coworkers are testing positive. I’m staying masked anytime I leave the apartment (which I was mostly still doing anyway, but I’m being a lot stricter about it now). Last night was a kickoff Zoom for the asynchronous class I’m taking over the summer, and I’m a bit nervous about the class – there’s a lot of reading, and I’m adding an intense, four-week class in June that meets twice a week on top of it. But I’ll figure it out.

In positive news, the PAP machine is doing its job – I was getting up early and going to bed late all week in NY and didn’t really crash until Saturday night. This week I’ve been continuing to get up earlier; I haven’t stayed up as late, but that’s mostly out of overwhelm at the overstuffed state of my apartment. I’m grateful that I started PAP therapy when I did and that it’s going well, because I don’t know how I would have managed otherwise.

I’m also extremely grateful for a solid support network, for therapy, and for all the hard work I’ve put into therapy over the past few years. I’m staying pretty regulated and doing a decent job of using my resources rather than melting down or spiralling into a panic, which would not have been the case if this had happened even just a year or two ago.

All that to say, I am feeling pretty depleted right now, but I’m okay. I’m going to be joining an in-person D&D game here in the Twin Cities that starts next week, and while that’s yet another thing on the schedule, it’s D&D, which is such a great outlet. Play is important and I want to do more of it. I’m hoping to spend a little time this weekend messing around with some new music equipment. My husband comes home tonight and Nova is going to be SO HAPPY (and so will I).

I shall leave you with some photos of Nova that I’ve taken since coming home: