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:

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:

New Routines and Tiny Gratitudes

Hello, dear readers! We’ve made it to another Thursday. My week has been decent, but underlined by a background anxiety that I’m not going to be able to figure out how to get all my homework done in time. New routines are hard – all change, even if it’s positive, is hard to some degree – and I’m worried I’m not up for the task. I’ve already had to turn down some social plans in favor of getting homework done, which doesn’t feel great. But the work is all really interesting so far, and I really appreciate my classmates and professors.

I realized in therapy last Thursday afternoon that I was particularly anxious for my Thursday night class – Religious and Theological Interpretation. After talking through some things with my therapist, I realized it was largely because the last time I had engaged academically with stuff like this, I was in undergrad at a small, conservative bible college, where I was coming to grips with the fact of my queerness and watching interpretations of religious texts be weaponized against people like me. So it makes sense that I was anxious! Thankfully, I was able to name that, not only in therapy but also in class, and it seemed to resonate with a lot of people. I’m really grateful to have landed where I did.

I’m going to wrap up this post with a brief little list of things I’m particularly grateful for right now:

  • Supportive communities. My husband and I have incredible support networks (some of which we share, and some that we don’t), and I’m so grateful to know that there are multiple communities of folks looking out for us, both when life is particularly chaotic and when things are really wonderful.
  • New (to me) ideas. My classes are introducing me to concepts I’d never considered before, and I am enjoying the challenge.
  • FAWM. While February has not started yet, the FAWM website is up and running and people are starting to gather. I have no idea if I’ll write any music this February, but I’m excited to listen to what other folks come up with.

And, as always, here’s your weekly dose of Nova:

Walking on Sunshine

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! The morning is already getting away from me, and it’s only just after 9am.

It’s been a good week, for the most part. Work has been a little bonkers, but not in an unmanageable way. We’re still totally in love with our dog. Last night we started obedience classes, and she did great – we definitely have a lot to work on at home, but I was impressed by how attentive she managed to be despite the room full of other dogs.

I don’t have a whole lot of really cogent thoughts this morning, so let’s make the end of this blog a gratitude list. Here are a few things that are making me happy these days:

  • The thing about having a dog is that I end up leaving the house a lot more now than I used to, and I’m walking, on average, even more than I did pre-pandemic in Chicago, when I was taking public transit everywhere. I am grateful that my body is making the adjustment to increased activity with a minimum of complaints. (My right leg definitely has some opinions and my sciatica flares up now and again, but it could be so much worse.)
  • Last weekend I had a conversation with some friends about community and what it means to us. I am so grateful that I have multiple places where I can show up as I am and be seen for who I am and have that celebrated. Thinking in particular of my “house church” and my D&D groups, but it’s definitely not exclusive to those two scenarios. I’m a very lucky human.
  • Nova continues to be the chillest dog (*knocks on wood*). I am so grateful that we were able to find this magical being who is already teaching me so much about patience and play and wonder. She really is the best and I’m so happy to have her with us.
Bonus photo of Nova being not-at-all interested in the pizza we were having for dinner.

Anticipation

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. I had a bit of a restless night and ended up getting up a bit after 5am this morning. I took a shower, got dressed, and now I’m sprawled on the couch writing this a bit after 6. I’m hoping this doesn’t mean I’m going to crash super early tonight, but I guess we’ll find out.

It’s an exciting week! Tonight after work, I’m getting a real haircut and beard trim for the first time in 18 months. I’ve been doing it myself throughout the pandemic, and while it feels a little weird and extremely indulgent to pay someone else to do it now, I recognize that they will do a better job than I will, and also that it means less cleanup for me at home, which is great.

The other big exciting thing this week is that we’re officially meeting a dog to potentially adopt on Saturday! The last couple of days have involved many emails back and forth with a local rescue about various dogs who we hoped might be a good fit – the first one we emailed about didn’t sound like she was quite right for us, the next two we asked about were already spoken for…but we’re very excited to meet this particular doggo. I’m not going to post any pictures or other details until we know if she’s ours (but if you text or otherwise message me directly, I will share), but suffice it to say she’s very pretty and seems like a great pup. (Evidently her foster was planning to foster-to-adopt, but she’s not getting along with the resident cat.)

The D&D group I am DMing for is getting back into it on Sunday after a couple month hiatus while folks were moving and starting new jobs. I’m nervous but excited about that. I think I have a fun story planned and while I know there are a handful of details I’m still need to plot out, it will hopefully be a good time for everyone. I also might have found a local D&D group to join!

I hope you’re all hanging in there. It’s been a wild week for a lot of folks. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, please do that. If you can, get your booster shot. Wear masks indoors and in crowds. Take care of your communities and yourselves – it’s the only way we’re going to get through this.

Little Gratitudes

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. For a number of reasons, I’m feeling like it’s already been a long week, and it’s not over yet. Thankfully, things have been mostly good and I’m feeling okay about it.

We have some big life changes coming up (which I will hopefully be able to go into more detail about in a few weeks). I am incredibly grateful to be in a place where I have the bandwidth to deal with these changes and make plans around them.

I feel like until I can talk about more details, I don’t have a whole lot to write about, so I’ll fall back on what I often do when I’m feeling less wordy. Here are a few things I’m grateful for right now:

  • Friends/Community. This has been one of those weeks when I’ve been super aware of how many incredible communities I have supporting me in different areas of my life. I think I sometimes get it into my head that since I’m an introvert, I must only have a few friends, which is absolutely untrue. I have so many wonderful people in my life supporting me in myriad ways. I’m particularly grateful this week for those friends who have known me forever, who I don’t get to talk to often, but who are always willing to pick things right back up where we left off.
  • Family. I’m really grateful that my family (and I’m including myself in this) has been willing to put in the work to make our relationships smoother. I’m glad to be talking with them more. I’m especially glad for the photo updates we get from my sister-in-law of our nephews.
  • Stories. I come back to this one a lot. Whether it’s playing D&D and collectively telling stories with friends, reading books, or letting myself dream of possible futures, stories are such a crucial part of my life, and I’m so happy that that’s true.

Keeping it short and sweet this week – time for me to dive into my work day. I hope you’re all hanging in there!

Community and Celebration

Hello, dear readers! We’ve reached another Thursday. I hope you’re all safe and healthy, and for those of you in places that got hit with the blizzard over the weekend, I hope your heat is working. (Thankfully, ours is, but I know some of our friends have not been so lucky.)

I have been thinking a lot this week about community. But before I get into that, let me back up a bit.

A couple of years ago, I came across the idea of creating your own holidays – not just creating traditions for existing holidays, but making up holidays that make sense to you. I loved that thought. In an effort to be more connected to the changing seasons in the world around me, I’d been halfheartedly trying to follow the “wheel of the year” observed by a lot of neo-pagan traditions, which marks the solstices, equinoxes, and four points between each of those. The thing is, though…while some of the correspondences associated with these holidays made sense, a lot of it is based on an agricultural calendar for a climate I don’t live in, so it didn’t feel super applicable to my life.

Fast-forward to about six months ago: after toying with writing up some holidays off and on, I finally sat down with my husband and we came up with a list of holidays that made sense to us, using the dates of the “wheel of the year” but making the holidays themselves more meaningful. The idea is to be more attuned to time changing, and giving ourselves regular time to reflect. (I told my therapist about this in our session this week and she got so excited about the idea. I might make a zine about it at some point.)

We designated February 1 as Midwinter, and placed the focus of this holiday on honoring and connecting with the communities that help us get through the darker time of the year. For me, there are a handful of distinct communities I’m part of that have been doing so much to keep me grounded, both in the physically darker winter and in the metaphorically darker times we’ve been living through. I did a lot of reaching out on Monday to those people, both in my own observation of Midwinter and in an effort to step up my practice of telling people I love and appreciate them. It felt really great.

In therapy on Monday, I talked a lot about how I sometimes feel guilty for the fact that things are going well for me right now, when I know the world is on fire and a lot of people that I care about are struggling. But I realized a few things as we hashed things out in that session:

  • I am allowed to feel joy.
  • My joy doesn’t mean I’m minimizing what anyone else is going through.
  • The people in my life want to celebrate with me, just like I want to celebrate with them when they’re happy.

When I was younger, I ended up in some pretty messed up, codependent friendships (which I hesitate to even call friendships anymore, but I don’t know what else to call them), where me being happy was interpreted as me not caring about the other person’s pain, and I’m still hanging onto some of that baggage. But the reality is that in healthy relationships, you hold space for each other’s joy and pain. I realized I was holding myself to a different standard than what I’d hold anyone else to. Like, if I’m struggling and one of my friends has something amazing happen to them, I absolutely want to celebrate with them! And I know that they’ll still empathize with me in whatever I’m going through.

So here are some things I am celebrating right now, and I hope that you’ll join me in celebrating them:

  • I got a promotion at work! This is the good news I’ve alluded to in a couple of past posts, but it was officially announced to the company on Monday, so now I feel like I can talk about it here. I’m now a team lead – for the first time in my professional life, I have people reporting directly to me. It’s a big step forward for me, and while I am a little bit overwhelmed by it, mostly I am just excited to be able to support this team of rockstars that I work with.
  • FAWM is underway! And it’s been hugely successful for me so far – we’re four days in and I’ve written five songs. So far my practice of getting up early and writing before work is paying off – I’ve gotten a song done before starting work every day this week, and I also managed to write another last night after dinner. I’m really happy with how the songs are turning out in general, too, which is fun.
  • I’m just in a really good place emotionally right now. For those who might be newer to this blog, you may or may not know that I have a Bipolar II Disorder diagnosis, as well as a history of some pretty significant anxiety issues. I’ve been working with my therapist to see this things in a light that’s less pathologizing and more just a matter of regulating the energy in my nervous system, and I’m in a more stable place than I think I’ve been since…I don’t even know, way back in childhood.

What about you, readers? What are things that you’re celebrating right now? Or, if you don’t feel like you have much cause for celebration at the moment, what’s weighing heavy on you right now? I’d love to hear from you.

A Little Thursday Gratitude

Hello, dear readers, and apologies for the late blog today – my morning flew by (and also I’ve spent most of the week perpetually thinking it was Wednesday).

I have a lot of jumbled thoughts rolling around in my head today, but nothing that’s standing out as an “I should write a blog about this” sort of thing. So let’s keep it simple today – here are a handful of things I am grateful for right now.

  • My job. Aside from just being grateful to be employed right now, I am really grateful to specifically have this job. I love my team, our leadership is amazing, and I’ve never been in a job where I feel so genuinely valued for my contributions. It’s definitely not what I was expecting when I moved out of the non-profit world into a for-profit situation, but it’s been incredible and I’m so glad to be where I am.
  • My apartment. It’s a bit of a mess at the moment, but I am so glad that we moved last year. As much as I sometimes miss our old neighborhood, I cannot imagine how we would have managed this pandemic in our old apartment. Even though it’s just a one-bedroom, we have enough space (and enough doors that close) that we can each be in our own corners of the apartment to focus on what we want to get done during the day (and just have alone time, which is crucial for a pair of extreme introverts).
  • Community. I made a concerted effort early on in the pandemic to set up or get involved in some regularly scheduled virtual hangouts with various friends and friend groups, and it’s been a life saver. As an introvert, I think I used to downplay how much I need community, but being physically distanced from everyone has really highlighted to me just how important it is.

I hope you’re all hanging in there this week. Do what you can to take care of yourselves, and please, continue wearing masks and avoiding in-person gatherings. I know it sucks to not be able to be with people over the holidays, but if we want a chance at celebrating together next year, this is what we have to do.

Midweek Musings

Hello, dear readers – welcome to another Thursday.

The past week is a bit of a blur in my mind. On Friday, I had an appointment with a rheumatologist out in the suburbs. A few hours before I needed to leave, I panic-rented a car – COVID numbers are out of control in Chicago (like they are most places in the US right now), and I didn’t want to spend an hour or more of my day trapped in a Lyft with a stranger. Of course, because it was so last-minute, I didn’t have the option of renting the car for just the day, so we unexpectedly ended up with a car all weekend.

The rheumatology appointment was disappointing, but the rest of the weekend was pretty nice. Sunday in particular was great – we went to our favorite breakfast spot in our old neighborhood with a friend and picked up some delicious food, and then later in the day we went back up to our old grocery store and loaded up on a ridiculous amount of food.

Tuesday was the tenth anniversary of my husband’s and my first date, so that was exciting. It was a low-key day, but it was nice to take a little time to acknowledge that hey, we’ve been together a long time.

Last night I had songwriting class. The song I wrote this week was unlike anything I’d ever done before, and I was super nervous to perform it, but I think it went well. It was a good reminder that vulnerability is often worth it.

This weekend I’m looking forward to the possibility of three D&D games and some other little chances to connect with friends (virtually, of course). It amuses me, sometimes, that my initial response to the pandemic was to pack my schedule with regular virtual social events – I am very much an introvert and would probably not socialize this much outside of lockdown. But I’m also increasingly aware of the importance of community and connection in these wild times, and I’m super grateful to have multiple little communities that I can connect with regularly.

Keep taking care of yourselves, friends. Wash your hands, wear your damn masks, stay in when you can. And check in on each other (virtually or at a safe physical distance). It’s the only way we’re going to get through this.

It’s Almost Here!

Hello, dear readers! It’s gonna be a short blog today.

It’s been a busy week – we’re getting married on Saturday! So most of this week has been cleaning and getting the final administrative details in place. Tonight we’re doing a rehearsal for the technology piece so we can figure out where we want to set everything up. Yesterday our cheesecake arrived, which was one of the pieces I was most nervous about – so many places have had unexpected shipping delays lately that I didn’t really trust the estimated delivery date.

I’m looking forward to (virtually) gathering and celebrating with friends and family on Saturday. I’m extremely overwhelmed in this particular moment (some of my body’s most annoying stress responses are raising their heads right now), but I know it’s going to be worth it. I’m also kind of glad this is the format the wedding is happening in – it meant we could invite people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to join us. I’m having some Feelings about my grandparents not being present (three of them are gone and the one remaining isn’t interested in attending), but I’m also just really grateful for the community we’re going to have around us on Saturday.

Now I’m off to try to kick ass at work so I can leave for a long weekend on a high note. Hang in there, everyone – stay hydrated, wear your masks, take care of yourselves and each other.