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.

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:

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.

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.

Reset

Hello, dear readers, and welcome once again to Thursday. I’m all out of sorts and confused about what day it is, but according to my phone, it is, in fact, Thursday.

I had a really lovely weekend, but I did not budget my energy well, and I was paying for it by Tuesday morning. Basically, on Saturday afternoon I decided on a whim to take myself to the Renaissance Festival, which was fun (it would have been more fun with a friend, but it was still delightful), but was more time around people than I’ve spent in a long time. And then Sunday evening we went over to my in-laws’ house to hang out with them and some extended family who were in town, which was also delightful, but was something I did not totally register was going to be happening when I decided to go to the Ren Fest (even though it was on the calendar and had been for a few weeks). Monday I was so. tired. And Tuesday morning was a major struggle, to the point that I finally reached out to my boss and asked if I could take that afternoon and all of Wednesday off to reset.

It sort of worked. Tuesday afternoon I napped for a couple hours. Yesterday I finished the second really good book in a really great series. We also took Nova to her first vet visit (which she was great at – the vet gave her an A++).

Nova was a very good girl at the vet!

I was able to make it to my desk on time this morning, which felt like an accomplishment. I’m still not feeling 100%, but a lot of that can probably be blamed on allergies. I’m glad I was able to take the time I needed to recover, and I’m trying not to beat myself up for not doing a better job of taking care of myself in the first place. I’m tired of being tired. I’m also realizing (thanks to a friend pointing it out on Facebook) that it might be a seasonal thing, and I should probably look into getting a sun lamp for my office.

Anyway, that’s it from me this week. I hope you’re all hanging in there. Take care of yourselves and each other.

So Sleepy

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. It’s a weird week.

I woke up yesterday and just could not get myself out of bed. I ended up calling in sick to work and slept until around 11. Thankfully my husband usually takes the morning dog walking shift, and they were kind enough to let me rest. I spent a lot of the day reading, which was lovely. Managed a shorter-than-usual walk with Nova after dinner, and then we had week 2 of obedience classes, which was fun, but also extremely overstimulating for everyone.

This morning I overslept. I’m working but still feeling pretty tired. Hoping coffee helps. I’m 99% sure this is all just another round of allergies – on top of being sleepy, I’ve also been sneezing a lot and my nose and ears itch. It’s just annoying.

Nova’s personality is continuing to come out – this is our third week with her, and we are learning she is quite the opinionated sassypants when she wants to do something (i.e. dig in the couch) and is told no. Thankfully she still doesn’t bark much (*knock on wood*), but she does talk back a little bit. We are learning that she loves attention and will demand it if she doesn’t feel she’s enough of the focus in the room. She’s also quite the hunter…last Friday, she caught a pigeon right at the end of our evening walk! Thankfully, I was able to get it out of her mouth and it fluttered away. (Also, thankfully, birds don’t carry rabies and after checking in with the vet, they let us know we probably didn’t have much to worry about. She’s been fine since, albeit a little hyper-focused on birds when we’re outside.)

I think that’s it from me for today – short and sweet is about all I have the energy for. I hope you’re all hanging in there!

Scattered Thursday Thoughts

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to a Thursday that for some reason feels like either a Wednesday or a Friday but is, in fact, still Thursday.

This has kind of been the tone of my week – just a bit off-kilter. I finally finished the project I’d been putting off for work, and now that the stress of that is past, my immune system seems to think it’s time to take a vacation, and I’ve been feeling sniffly and achy and generally under the weather the past couple of days. Nothing too awful, mostly just annoying.

My husband made it back from Chicago on Monday after doing the final cleaning of our old place and dropping off the keys with the landlord there. It was weird being in this new place alone for five days.

I don’t have a ton to write about this week. One of the things that’s been occupying my free time is trying to figure out how to find a local D&D group – I am continuing to play with the friends I’ve been gaming with throughout the pandemic, and I’m so, so grateful for those games, but in the interest of meeting some new people, making new friends, and getting to bring some of the characters running around in my brain to life, I’m hoping I can find something local to add to the mix. So far I haven’t had much luck, but it’s been less than a week, so I’m trying to be patient. I knit myself a new dice bag last week that I’m really happy with, because my collection has finally outgrown the bag I knit myself a decade ago:

It doesn’t look that big in the picture, but compared to my old dice bag it’s enormous – it holds all of my dice with lots of room to spare. I also got myself a dice tower and tray from Elderwood Academy (highly recommend, fellow nerds – they’re gorgeous) to make rolling physical dice more fun/less likely to end with me crawling on the floor trying to figure out where they ended up.

Anyway, I think that’s it from me this week. I hope you’re all hanging in there.

Resting

Hello, dear readers! I’m a little late posting this today because I have been taking the last couple of days off from work – I got my second dose of the Covid vaccine on Tuesday afternoon, and I wanted to give myself time to recover. So far I’ve been mostly okay – tired, a little feverish here and there, and about 24 hours after getting the shot, the joints in that arm started hurting really bad. But Tylenol and sleep seems to be helping, and I’d much rather be dealing with the vaccine side-effects than the actual disease.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks (more on that soon, hopefully), but things are good. I’ve been using this time off to catch up on some knitting. I finished a stuffed friend for my older nephew, and am slowly chipping away at a blanket for the younger one. (I’ve also been playing a bit of Animal Crossing lately to get myself off my phone/computer screens, which has been fun.)

I’m going to keep this one brief – time for me to have some coffee and make some breakfast now that I’m finally up and moving about. Tomorrow I’m getting color added to my new tattoo, and I am very excited about that! (And very thankful I don’t feel worse post-vaccine, so it should actually be manageable.)