Better Sleep and Impending Adventure

Hello, dear readers! We’ve made it to Thursday. I have felt uncertain of the day of the week pretty much every day since Monday, so that’s been interesting, but the weekend is almost here, which is lovely (and also a little stressful, but more on that below.)

Monday morning I called the home medical equipment clinic back about the leaking mask for my PAP machine, and managed to snag an appointment for Tuesday afternoon. I was able to get a new mask, and while I still had a few minor issues with the fit Tuesday night, last night I was able to shift from my side to my back and back again several times, and had basically the least amount of leaking I’ve had in the entire two and a half weeks I’ve been using the machine, so that was exciting. I only had to get up a couple of times last night and I feel tentatively optimistic that I’ve turned a corner and things will be easier/more comfortable from here on out. I’ve had a bit more energy the past couple of days, and while I’m not 100% sure if that’s from the PAP machine or just the fact that the sun came out and it finally feels more like spring, it seems like a good sign.

Tonight I’m getting coffee with a friend I’ve known since middle school, and I’m very excited about that (and also feeling a little old when I think about just how old our friendship is haha). This weekend we’re going to my in-laws’ place for Mother’s Day, and I will also be spending most of the weekend packing and preparing for next week, because…

I’m going to New York for work! Our big company party was postponed from February to next week, and while I’m excited on the one hand (I haven’t been to NYC since I was in high school, and I’m looking forward to meeting a bunch of my colleagues from around the world), I’m also extremely overwhelmed (it’s going to be a lot of peopling, and mask mandates are dropping, so while I’ll be masked a fair percentage of the time, a lot of people won’t be, and it’s just…a lot). I need to make my packing list and figure out a few minor logistical things. I’m sure it’ll be a good trip, but the packing and preparing is not going to make for the most relaxing weekend.

All of that to say, there might not be a blog next week, since my schedule will be all sorts of weird. We’ll see what happens.

I will leave you, as always, with a few Nova photos from the week, including a gif of her chasing her tail (some context for that image – we haven’t gotten rid of our old mattress since our new one came a week ago, and Nova has been having a ball with it on the living room floor):

Between Semesters

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! It’s been an interesting week.

Last Friday, one of our favorite Chicago friends came into town and we went to the My Brother, My Brother, and Me live show in Minneapolis. The show was hilarious, and it was so delightful to have her here for a couple of days, even though I was still quite under the weather and we had to keep things pretty low-key. Nova absolutely fell in love with her, and was very disappointed when she left.

Unfortunately, pretty much right after our friend left, my husband came down hard with the cold I was recovering from. It’s been a rough week from that perspective, but thankfully we’re both on the mend now.

In continued adventures with my PAP machine, things were going pretty well while I was sick, actually, because I was propping myself up at night and not moving around much. Unfortunately, the last few nights have been harder – the mask keeps leaking air up over the bridge of my nose and waking me up with the whooshing noise. I am going to call today to see if I can get a different mask configuration to try. Overall I’m still really hopeful that this will bring some major changes to my quality of sleep, and I’m grateful it’s gone as smoothly as it has so far.

We also bought a new mattress that we got to sleep on for the first time last night! It’s a Big Fig, and it’s a MAJOR upgrade from the cheap foam IKEA mattress we’ve been sleeping on for the last 12 years. We woke up with some aches in different places because we’re not used to so much support, but it’s really comfy and I’m very excited about it. Nova is enjoying the fact that the old mattress is hanging out on our living room floor for now.

I’m in between semesters for the next couple of weeks, and it feels good to be through the first semester of seminary, but also weird to not be in classes/doing homework. I keep feeling like I’m forgetting something. Over the summer I’m taking one asynchronous class at United (History of Modern Theologies), and one intensive class for the month of June at St. Kate’s that’s specific to my concentration (Sacred Activism). I’m really excited about the St. Kate’s class, even though I recognize June is going to be…a lot. All my books are ordered and at least half of them have arrived, so I’m feeling good about that.

In two weeks I’m going to New York for work for a big company get-together. I’m extremely nervous about traveling now that mask mandates are lifting, but it is what it is. I’m excited to get to meet colleagues in person for the first time – the global team is coming in, so I’ll get to meet coworkers from London and Singapore in addition to my NYC and Chicago colleagues. I’m already kind of exhausted by the thought of socializing that much, but I’m sure it’ll be fine.

Nova went to the groomer on Saturday and they got so much fur off of her that I actually had to resize her collar. She’s looking very sleek and we have slightly fewer tumbleweeds floating around our apartment. I will leave you with a few pictures of her, as always.

At Last

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! I am all mixed up about what day it is this week – I’ve been fighting a cold all week and ended up taking a couple sick days from work and so my routine is way off. (Thankfully I tested negative for covid over the weekend.) I’m on the mend but still very stuffy and occasionally getting hit with coughing fits. It’s not my favorite thing.

However, in happy news, I finally got my PAP machine on Monday! It’s technically an APAP rather than a CPAP – the machine adjusts the amount of air pressure based on what I need throughout the night. This has been great, because I was really worried I was going to feel claustrophobic if I had constant air blowing at me all night long. I’m still not sleeping great, but that’s largely because of the cold and not because of the machine. In fact, the machine is super quiet – my husband noted it’s eerily quiet in the bedroom now because I’m not snoring all night. Nova has not really reacted to it at all, which is great, but I guess she’s used to seeing me wearing stuff on my face.

I’m also wrapping up my first semester of seminary this week! I just have one class session left tonight and then I’m done. It’s wild to think it’s been a whole semester already. I just ordered my books for my summer classes, and I’m looking forward to continuing to dive into this program.

Last week I recorded the beginnings of a song I’m hoping to release this year. This inspired me to finally get a website launched for my music! There’s not much there yet, but if you want to keep up with my musical happenings, you can find me at https://alyxanderjames.com.

I’ll leave you with your weekly dose of Nova – here are a few pictures of her enjoying the sunshine over the weekend:

Under the Weather

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. Spring sort of arrived in St. Paul, and with it, my seasonal allergies…and then yesterday there was snow and freezing rain, and the drastic temperature shifts are making my joints pretty unhappy. Getting up for work has been a struggle this week as a result.

But even though that’s made me a little cranky, things are otherwise okay. I know what I’m doing for my final projects for both of my classes, and I shouldn’t have too much trouble getting those done. We only have a couple of weeks left in the semester, which is WILD. I’m so grateful for everything I’ve learned over these last few months and for professors who let me push some boundaries on projects to make them fit my own spiritual practices and methods of theological interpretation better.

It’s Transgender Day of Visibility today, which I feel like I should mention. Last year Tuck Woodstock of the Gender Reveal podcast had the brilliant idea of rebranding the day “Transgender Day of Staying in and Having a Nice Snack” and that is very much the energy I’m feeling today – visibility is exhausting sometimes and doesn’t actually help us on its own. Anyway, I’d encourage y’all (especially if you’re cis) to consider donating to a trans mutual aid fund today. The aforementioned Gender Reveal podcast actually does a great job of this if you’re looking for ideas (there are also links to this on the page linked above)!

Anyway, I will leave you with a few pictures of Nova enjoying yesterday’s weather:

National Puppy Day

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday – I, for one, have been confused about the day of the week all week long, so hopefully this announcement that it is, in fact, Thursday, can help ground us a little bit.

I don’t have whole lot to talk about this week. I’m still waiting on the CPAP machine. I managed to get a little ahead on homework last week, which was nice, except that by Monday I was certain I was forgetting something, even though I checked everything at least five times and knew that I couldn’t have missed anything. I’m getting signed up for summer classes and planning some work travel for the period in between trimesters. Lots of little things happening but nothing that’s terribly interesting to anyone but me, probably.

However, yesterday was apparently National Puppy Day! I am sad that we don’t have any baby photos of Nova, but I’m happy to provide a selection of highlights here from National Puppy Day (I also got a new phone yesterday, so I was having a lot of fun taking pictures):

Tired and Annoyed

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. I’m a little out of it this morning – I took a sick day yesterday, so I’ve spent the morning catching up on emails and Slack messages. I’m quite sleepy. I got an update from the sleep center on Friday that we’re not doing the in-center sleep study (insurance won’t approve it right now), but I am getting a CPAP…eventually. Evidently there’s a worldwide shortage of CPAP machines right now due to some massive recall. So that’s annoying.

Probably as a side effect of being overtired and also because I’ve just had a lot of work to do between work and school lately, I have felt really irritable this week. It’s not my favorite thing. I feel like I’m unpleasant to be around. I’m doing my best to compensate where I can and to be honest about my feelings where I need to be, but yeah. It’s not the most fun I’ve ever had.

Nova went to the groomer on Saturday and is once again a TikTok star. They do a great job of capturing her personality. I don’t have much else to say this week, so I’ll leave you with a few pictures of Nova when she was particularly shiny and still wearing her bandana from the groomer (before she tried to eat it off of her neck and I had to confiscate it haha):

Sleep is Important

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! It’s been a week. I had a lovely rest of my time off last week; even though I have some regrets about not working ahead on school work, I think I made the right choice to take the time to really relax.

As I mentioned last week that I was doing a home sleep study Thursday night. I got the results back, and as it turns out…I’m really bad at breathing when I sleep. I have severe sleep apnea, which is why I’m tired all the time.

The good news is this is totally treatable, and once I’m set up with a CPAP machine and get used to wearing that when I sleep, the chances that I’ll actually sleep well are vastly increased. The idea of getting an actually restful night’s sleep is mind-blowing to me and I’m very excited to find out what that feels like.

The bad news is I have to wait for my insurance to approve the in-person sleep study they need to do in order to set up the CPAP correctly for me, and that can apparently take a month. And now that I know definitively just how awful my sleep has been, it’s like I can’t pretend that it’s okay anymore, and I feel extra tired.

I’m really grateful that my husband pushed me to get this checked out and that I got the ball rolling now. I’m also really frustrated with American healthcare right now.

Next week for school I have two papers and a presentation due, in addition to the usual readings and reflections, and I’m a little overwhelmed about that. I did get one of the papers started last night, and that helped the anxiety somewhat, but I didn’t exercise the greatest judgment when scheduling my weekend in light of all of this homework. We’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, that’s my week. I’ll leave you, as always, with a few silly Nova photos from this week:

So Tired

Hello, dear readers – we’ve made it to another Thursday. I am particularly grateful for calendars and to do lists today, because I definitely forgot about blogging until my phone reminded me this morning.

I am…weary. Classes are going pretty well, things are good at work, everyone in my household is staying relatively healthy and well, but I am just exhausted. I’ve been a bit sniffly the past few days, so maybe I’m fighting off a cold, or maybe it’s my body’s reaction to the fact that I woke up yesterday to an actual temp of -15 outside and a windchill of -35 and I just want to hibernate. (It has warmed up significantly since last night, but it’s supposed to start getting cold again over the weekend, and the variation in temperature mostly just makes my joints ache.)

My Tuesday class, which I usually go to in person, was moved to Zoom this week because our professor had a covid exposure a couple of days before. Thankfully she seems to be okay, but for safety we all Zoomed in from our respective spaces. My husband also had a music class Tuesday night, so we were both occupied with our computers for a while and Nova was not happy about it, which was a little distracting. But we made it work, and hopefully we’ll be back to in-person class next week.

I am feeling a little behind for tonight’s class – I finished the readings and the written assignment in plenty of time, but the professor for this class records the lecture portion of the class on Tuesday afternoons to make the Thursday night class an hour shorter, and I haven’t had a chance to watch the lecture yet. I’ll have to figure out free moments in my work day to get it done, I think, which is not ideal.

Really, though, it’s not been a bad week. I’m just so tired…

Anyway, I leave you, as always, with some 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: