Retreat

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. I took Monday and Tuesday off this week, but I still keep thinking today is Friday. Such is life.

Monday afternoon I drove up to Duluth for a quick solo retreat to try to reset my brain a bit. I skipped class Monday night in favor of journaling and introspective time, which was lovely. I came away from that with some insights I’m still wrestling with and will be bringing with me to therapy later today.

Tuesday morning I checked out of the hotel, parked near the lake, and went for a walk. Lake Superior was the calmest I’ve seen her in awhile, and it was just what my soul needed.

I popped into the mall at Fitgers for a quick stop at the bookstore (a tradition whenever I’m in Duluth) and at the pet supply store (to get a souvenir for Nova), and then decided I had done what I set out to do, and wanted to head home earlier than I’d originally planned to allow me some relaxed time in my own space before starting back into work on Wednesday. It was a very quick trip, but it was a fruitful one, I think.

Yesterday was a pretty normal Wednesday; today is already feeling a bit scrambled, because I have a medical appointment in the middle of the day that meant I had to shift some other appointments around to tomorrow. But it’ll all work out.

Please enjoy these photos of Nova, and I hope you all find something in this week that brings you joy!

Taking Time, Taking Care

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! I kept thinking Tuesday should have been Thursday this week, so I’m glad we’re finally here.

I’ve been struggling to focus this week. There’s a lot that needs to get done for school and work has been busy and I’m continuing to figure out new routines in the rest of my life and everything just feels like a lot. I’m wrestling with some anxiety and have just generally felt down.

There are good things happening, too, though. Sunday I played D&D with a new group for the first time, and it was a lot of fun. And last night an old friend gave us four tickets to the final St. Paul Saints game of the season, so we got to enjoy a baseball game with my husband’s dad and godmother:

There’s a lot that I’m grateful for right now, but also I can feel myself hurtling toward some level of burnout. So, I decided to take Monday and Tuesday off next week and take myself on a little solo retreat up north. I’m hoping it gives my brain a bit of a reset.

I hope you’re all hanging in there. As always, I leave you with some recent Nova photos:

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:

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 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:

Vacation!

Hello, dear readers. It is Thursday, and this blog post is late, because I am on vacation, and what is time? I hope you’re all hanging in there with everything that’s going on in the world right now.

I have mostly unplugged this week. The friend who was going to be coming into town ended up not being able to make it, so it’s been lots of quiet family time at home, which, frankly, was really what I needed. I’ve played some video games, I started knitting a new sweater, I’ve been doing a decent job of not thinking too much about work or school. Tonight, I’m doing a home sleep study, so that’ll be interesting but will hopefully lead to some helpful insights to help improve my relationship to sleep.

I don’t have much else to write about this week, but I will leave you with these photos of Nova being very confused about why the yarn ball wasn’t for her:

Vacation Imminent

Hello, dear readers! We have made it to another Thursday. I kept thinking yesterday was Thursday, even though nothing about the day indicated that it was anything other than Wednesday, and today I woke up thinking it was Friday, so we’re not off to the best possible start. Still, it’s almost Friday, and that has to count for something.

Last weekend I wrote my first real paper for seminary. It was just a few pages long, but it was more academic than any writing I’ve done in over a decade, and the citation style was different than what I used in my undergrad life. It didn’t actually take me that long once I sat down to do the writing, but gathering the materials and trying to make everything coherent was a struggle.

But now, it’s almost a vacation week for me! Next week is symposium week at school, meaning no classes and no homework due. I decided to also take the week off from work (because my brain really needs a break). One of our best friends from Chicago is coming up to hang out for a few days, and it’s going to be great. I am very excited to have almost zero calendar commitments for a whole week.

I am pretty fried and don’t have a whole lot else to talk about this week, so I’ll leave you with these photos of Nova:

It’s a Blog!

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday. I am struggling a bit this week – I have a lot of things going on between work and school (not to mention the rest of my life), and I’m having a hard time holding it all and prioritizing which balls I need to keep in the air and what I can allow to drop for a bit. I will be fine – I have therapy this afternoon and I know that none of my problems are all that big – but I am tired and my jaw is tight and I’m just a little overwhelmed.

I wasn’t sure what to write about this week beyond the overwhelm, but I thought after showing off how my new electric mandola looks last week, maybe I should share how it sounds, too. Last Friday I took the day off with the intention of spending the morning taking some assessments for school and the afternoon doing music as a chance to kind of reset my brain. The assessments ended up not taking very long, so I was able to record one song I’d already had pretty much figured out and then write and record a whole second song that afternoon. Here’s that second song:

Awake with You by Alyxander James

This was an experiment in GarageBand – it’s not perfect and listening to it again there are definitely things I’d change. But I’m pleased with it overall for not really having a clue what I’m doing.

Here are the lyrics, for the curious:

Today was another hard day
I know you’ve had a lot of those lately
Everything feels like a mess
Been a while since you knew it’d turn out okay
Now you lie in bed
With the day on replay in your mind
Wondering whether the tension will ever unwind

But I will stay awake with you
I will stay awake with you

I am not going to say
That life will look better tomorrow
And I am not going to tell you
That every day you’ll be subject to sorrow
No one can say
What’s waiting for us down the line
But whatever it is, I’ll be right by your side

I will stay awake with you
I will stay awake with you

oo

I will stay awake with you
I will stay awake with you

I’ll leave you with this photo of a Very Good Doggo looking intently at something unseen by the humans in our apartment.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! I hope your weeks are going well. I’ve been feeling tired and a bit overwhelmed, myself, but not to the same degree that I was last week (this is probably because I had Tuesday off from work this week).

FAWM has begun! I realize every year that it has totally changed my perception of the month of February. In the MIdwest, it can reasonably be argued that February is the hardest month of the year – it’s cold and dark (even though it’s slowly getting lighter), and you know that winter is going to continue for at least a couple more months. But because of FAWM, February is genuinely one of my favorite months of the year.

Because I ended up having Tuesday off this week, I was able to actually get one song written, which was my goal this year. Between work and school I don’t know if I’ll get anything else written, but I wanted at least one on the board, so I feel good about getting that done. And it’s incredible to be able to listen to the songs other people are creating! There’s so much talent in the world. It’s inspiring.

I don’t have much else to write about this week, so I’ll leave you with this: Nova went to the groomers on Saturday. When I went to pick her up, they let me know they were going to make a TikTok of her later – “She was very good…just, you know, awkward.” I think they really captured her essence here.

And finally, here’s a picture of Nova napping yesterday that made me laugh:

Sleepy baby