School Days, School Days

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. I’m a little discombobulated around what day it is – I woke up feeling rather under the weather yesterday and ended up taking the day off, which was needed and lovely but also threw me for a bit of a loop in terms of my internal calendar. Thank goodness for my calendar and to do list keeping me on track!

It’s been a big week – I’m officially a seminary student! I had my first class on Tuesday, and it was great. It’s a small group (there are 10 students and only four of us are in person, with the rest of the class Zooming in), which I think will be particularly great for this particular class, which is “Introduction to Personal and Spiritual Formation” – basically looking at who the person is that you’re bringing into this seminary journey. My other class (“Religious and Theological Interpretation”) starts this evening. The professor normally commutes up from Chicago to teach on Thursdays, but due to Omicron, he’ll be zooming into class, and invited the students to do so as well. While I tend to learn better in person, this is a larger class, and I think for the time being I’m more comfortable with attending virtually.

I’m already a little overwhelmed by homework and figuring out my new routines, but I’m trying to remember to be gentle with myself as I learn how to navigate these new responsibilities. The class material is already very engaging and I’m excited to continue to dive into it.

I don’t have a lot of other news this week. I leave you with this photo of Nova, with some very sweet context – she fell asleep like this, leaning on my arm as I held her paw, for a solid 30 minutes last weekend. (What the photo didn’t capture were the tiniest little snores.) She is truly the sweetest doggo.

Sweet, snoozy Nova

School Day Jitters

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! It is COLD in the Twin Cities this morning. The high today is going to barely creep above zero (we’re currently sitting around -4 F); currently we’re seeing windchills in the -20 F range. I am grateful we don’t need to go out much, and glad my husband was able to take Nova out for a nice long adventure/walk yesterday so she’ll hopefully feel less cheated that she can’t play outside much today.

The time has finally come – this afternoon is orientation for seminary (over Zoom), and Tuesday I have my first class. I’ve taken this afternoon and tomorrow off from work to attend the orientation and finish getting my ducks in a row before the semester really kicks off; I have some reading I need to get done before my classes next week. I’m nervous and excited in mostly equal measure. A lot of the nerves are around going to class in person – I really feel it’s the right choice for me right now (I know from past experience that I struggle more with online learning), but with Omicron it’s definitely nerve-wracking. I just got a bunch of N95 masks to wear to classes and I’m somewhat comforted knowing that students need to be masked and vaxxed to be on campus and that the number of people in-person for my classes is relatively small in rooms that are quite spacious. But it’s still a thing I’m anxious about, for sure. (At least, as my husband pointed out to me the other day, this is an anxiety grounded in reality?)

Other things that happened this week…a fire alarm went off in our building and we ended up wandering around outside for about two hours (everything’s fine, we think it was probably a small kitchen fire or something), but the up side of that was we ended up wandering over to the library and finally getting our library cards. Nova’s been really happy that there’s more snow on the ground again. I’m working on putting some routines in place in my day to help make transitioning back to being a student a little easier.

And on that note, I think I’ll leave you, as always, with a few Nova photos:

Stay safe, friends.

2021/2022

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to the final Thursday of 2021, and the penultimate day of the year. 2021 has been…a wild ride, to say the least.

The last couple of years I’ve used my last blog of the year to look back on the goals I set back in January and see where I ended up. I honestly haven’t done a lot of looking back yet, or looking forward at new goals, but I don’t feel like pushing this out to next week, so here we go.

Goals I had at the beginning of the year, and progress on those goals:

  • Keep writing.
    • I honestly didn’t think I’d made that much progress with this one, but as it turns out, I wrote 32 songs this year (about 2/3 of them in February for FAWM). Some of them are keepers (a couple I actually quite like). I had hoped to get a couple of things recorded this year, but that didn’t happen.
  • “Yes, and…” opportunities at work.
    • I’d call this one a mixed success. I was promoted to team lead in February, helped nudge a couple of my direct reports along in their career growth, and am in the final stages of hiring someone new for my team. I didn’t take as much initiative in leadership projects as I had intended.
  • Keep investing in the communities and relationships that allow me to thrive.
    • I feel good about this one, although there’s always room to grow. I have a good routine for checking in with a lot of folks virtually and have a couple of virtual communities that are really important to me. Going forward, I want to invest more time into local friendships, too, so I have people I can do things in person with whenever that feels safe again.
  • Try to internalize the notion that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be good or valuable.
    • Still working on this, but I think I’m doing a better job of recognizing when perfectionism sneaks in. I’m letting go of the idea that “perfect” even exists, although it’s hard to not hold myself to that standard.
  • Keep doing the work to be an adult that my past selves can be proud of.
    • I feel like I’ve done a lot with this one. I found a new therapist here in the Twin Cities about a month ago, and she’s commented that she can tell that I’ve done a lot of work in therapy in the past to get to where I am now. I can see the evidence of that, too.

Other things that happened:

  • Survived another pandemic year.
  • Moved back to Minnesota.
  • Missed Song School, which was super sad but was the right decision for us at the time.
  • Adopted Nova!
  • Applied for and was accepted into seminary.

I know I’m missing a bunch of things, but those feel like the big ones.

Goals for 2022:

  • Keep finding ways to create.
  • Pass all of my classes.
  • Keep investing in the communities and relationships that allow me to thrive.

I will leave you with photos of Nova’s Christmas naps and the goofy Nova Christmas socks I bought for me and my husband. Happy New Year, everyone!

Happy Holidays

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday: Christmas Eve Eve edition. It’s been a wild week of distressing COVID news as the Omicron variant continues to wreak havoc. It’s the worst sort of deja vu. We’re actively re-negotiating holiday plans to accommodate everyone’s safety and comfort levels. I am anxious, which I think is contributing to the fact that the dog has been extra anxious this week. Thank goodness I have therapy this afternoon!

It’s been a wild week in terms of anxiety. It’s also been an exciting week at work – I’ve started interviewing for the open position on my team, and while I am anxious about making decisions, I have some really strong candidates and I’m excited to fill this position and get my team more support.

I honestly don’t have a ton to write about this week. I do feel accomplished that we got Christmas cards out to some folks this year (first time in the 11 years my husband and I have been together). I’ll leave you, as usual, with some photos of Nova from this week:

Knitting Progress

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday. I hope you’re all safe and warm and well. The weather here in the Midwest was particularly wild last night – a friend in Kansas heard reports of tennis-ball-sized hail in her county, we were under a tornado watch here in St. Paul, there was a ton of wind damage across several states…also, it was so warm yesterday I took the dog out in a t-shirt, and this morning the windchill was in the single digits Fahrenheit. My body and brain both struggle with large temperature and barometric pressure changes, so it’s been a day. Thankfully, we are safe, and while the dog was disappointed by the disappearance of the snow in yesterday’s heat wave, we should be getting a bit more today.

Other than wild weather, it’s been a pretty nondescript week. I did finish a sweater, which I’m really pleased with:

I love when a finished project looks like it did in my head!

I started this sweater back in May, didn’t work on it much for a lot of the summer, finished the body back in October, and then blew through the sleeves in four days earlier this week. I also knit a hat for my littlest nephew last week. This is the most knitting I’ve done in quite a while.

Other than that, I don’t have too much else to report. My first regular session with my new therapist went really well; we’re not meeting this week because she’s traveling, but I have a good feeling that this will be very helpful (it already has been). I’ll leave you with the requisite Nova photos from this week:

Looking Up

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. I completely forgot it was Thursday until my phone reminded me just now that I should be writing a blog post – I’ve had a hard time the last couple of weeks keeping track of what day it is. I’m grateful for my Google calendars for keeping me on track despite my internal clock’s confusion.

I’m not entirely sure what to write about this week, but let’s start with some good news: the intake I had with the potential new therapist last week went really well, and I’ve decided to move forward with services, so I have my first regular appointment this afternoon! I’m really glad this appears to be working out. It was really validating during the intake to hear her say she could tell that I’ve already put in a lot of work in therapy.

In less good news, today we’re going to have to try to get a urine sample from Nova to bring to the vet, because we think she might have a UTI. So that’s going to be an adventure that none of us wanted to go on.

I got to hang out with one of my best friends from college last night, and it was great to talk with her and reflect on how much we’ve grown as people since our days as freshmen at bible college. I want to take better advantage of the fact that I’m back in Minnesota and can therefore more easily reconnect with older friends.

Oh! The other good news is that the blood pressure medicine I started on last week appears to be doing its job. I do wish the app that records my blood pressure readings would let me turn off the alerts for what stage of hypertension I’m at according to the American Heart Association (which are showing up much less frequently now because of the meds, but still) – like, I’m aware my blood pressure is high and I’m working on it and getting yelled at by this app is not doing anything to help my at least partially stress-induced high blood pressure.

I’m going to leave you with this video of Nova enjoying the first proper snow we’ve gotten this winter. Since she came to Minnesota from rural Missouri this summer, we actually don’t know how much experience she’s had with snow before, but her husky genes are clearly strong and she’s over the moon about the white stuff on the ground:

Nova frolicking and digging in a pile of snow and having the time of her life

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: