Retreat

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! It’s been a hell of a week at work so far, but last weekend I went on a really lovely solo retreat, and I’m going to focus on that today.

I stayed in a little one-room cabin that was extremely cute:

I arrived Friday evening, and most of my time there on Friday was spent getting acclimated to the space. I ended up crashing pretty early that night.

Saturday ended up being a beautiful day! This was my view as I sat and ate breakfast, journaled, and worked on some songs:

(My husband pointed out that the pile of snow there looks rather like a leopard snoozing with one eye open.)

I spent a fair amount of Saturday writing, whether journaling or working on songs. I ended up getting two new songs written, both of which I’m pretty happy with, and which brought my final total for FAWM up to 11 songs in the month – that’s 10 more songs than I expected to write, and almost 4 times as many as I wrote last FAWM! In the evening I lit a fire in the fireplace – I wasn’t sure if I was going to end up doing it, because matches kind of freak me out and I was afraid I’d accidentally burn the place down, but it ended up being fine:

As the fire crackled, I watched the sunset from one of the rocking chairs, and it was glorious:

After it got dark, I turned all the lights in the cabin off and looked outside in the hopes of doing a bit of stargazing. I ended up seeing an old friend directly outside my window:

It was a lovely time away, and by Sunday morning I was ready to be home. I got back and had a lovely afternoon to lounge around my apartment with my husband and Nova before heading back out for a D&D game that evening, which was also super fun!

Monday I ended up waking up pretty sniffly and very tired, so I took a sick day. Tuesday and Wednesday were bonkers days at work, and I’m bracing for that to continue through the rest of the week. Still, I’m grateful for my little weekend getaway and the chance to reconnect with myself.

I will leave you with two things: first, if you’re interested in listening to anything I wrote for FAWM this year, you should be able to do that here through the month of March. And finally, here are some photos of Nova using me as a pillow for a full hour on Monday. I think she missed me while I was gone.

Snowy Sick Day

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! We’ve gotten a whole bunch of snow in the last couple of days here in the Twin Cities. Nova is thrilled.

Last night I went to bed early with a headache, hoping I could sleep it off. I woke up this morning with less of a headache, but a very stuffy nose. I ended up calling off from work in the hopes that resting more will mean I’m not sick on my retreat this weekend. After a few more hours of sleep, I’m feeling somewhat better. Fingers crossed that this cold doesn’t get any worse in the next 24 hours.

I’ve lost some steam with FAWM – I’m holding steady at 9 songs. Hoping to get at least one more written over the weekend, but I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I’ve already tripled my output from last year, and seeing as I’m still working and in school, that feels pretty good.

Not much else to report today. I’m excited to head up north for my solo retreat tomorrow and hoping the weather (and my immune system) hold out so that I can go.

I’ll leave you, as always, with some Nova photos:

Halfway

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. This week has felt long for no particular reason, and I’m grateful that we’re nearing the weekend.

We are just over halfway through February, which means FAWM is just over half done. I’ve written 8 songs so far this month! I’m pleased that I’ve been able to do as much writing as I have been, even if it means getting up at stupid o’clock to do it. I’m having fun, which is the point.

Next weekend I’ve decided to take myself on a little solo retreat – I found a retreat center north of us where I’ve rented a little one room cabin for Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon. I’m looking forward to it.

Today is going to be a long day to top off an already long week, but it’s ending with a much-needed massage, so that’s a happy thing.

I don’t really have a whole heck of a lot to report this week. But I’ll leave you, as always, with some Nova moments from this week:

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. I’ve been all over the place this week in terms of focus and feelings and I am very glad that it’s nearly Friday.

FAWM is off to a great start, though! It’s February 9 today, and I’ve written 6 songs so far, which is twice as many as I managed last year and nearly halfway to “winning” with 14. I’m still not setting myself any sort of numerical goal this year – my second class of the semester starts tonight and things are going to be a bit busier from here out – but I’m really pleased with how it’s gone so far. I’m getting up at stupid-o-clock in the morning to make writing happen, but it hasn’t been too terrible yet.

I’m really excited about the class that’s starting tonight, which is sort of a continuation to the Intro to Spiritual Direction class I took last semester. I know all of my classmates, and they’re all lovely people that I’m excited to dig into the material with. We’ll be looking more at the practicalities of how to actually build a spiritual direction practice this semester. I’m also still really enjoying my Comparative Religious Ethics class, although I realize I need to start thinking more about what I want to write my final paper on so I can get a head start, since the last few weeks of the class will be immediately post-hysterectomy and I don’t know how much brain power I’ll have at that point.

Work has been a bit of a mixed bag this week. I’m juggling a lot of different priorities and I feel like I’m doing almost none of it particularly well. Thursdays are the days when I have therapy and then four 1:1s with direct reports that are basically back-to-back, which was a choice I made and that I mostly stand by, but it means by the end of the work day my brain is pretty fried. We’ll have to see how sustainable class is on top of that this semester.

Anyway, I’ll leave it there. As always, please enjoy these Nova photos:

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday!

It is officially February, which means that FAWM has officially begun, and I am so excited about it! My goal going in this year was to get at least one song written, and I’ve already surpassed that by getting up early the past two mornings to write. FAWM is my favorite part of the internet, and the creative energy and output is truly astonishing. I’m loving listening to what friends and strangers are posting, and feeling inspired to see how far I can get this year. Last year I only managed 3 songs, which was still more than I expected given I was in my first semester of seminary, so we’ll see. My second class starts next week, so I’ll have less time after that.

Other than that, it’s a pretty normal week. Work has been a little up and down, but not as overwhelming as the past few weeks, so that’s nice. I picked up a book this week that a friend recommended that I’m excited to dig into. I’m working on knitting the sleeves of a sweater. I’m glad the sun has been out, even though it’s been pretty cold. I’m just generally in a better headspace this week than I was last week, and that’s nice.

I shall leave you, as always, with some Nova photos:

Thursday Ramblings

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! We had Monday off at work in observance of Lunar New Year, and then I ended up only working half of Tuesday because I was wrestling with a headache, so I’m all sorts of turned around about what day it is this week.

It’s been an okay week – I’ve gotten some knitting done, and am so far staying caught up on homework. I’m really enjoying my Comparative Religious Ethics class, and I’m really excited to start my next Spiritual Direction class in a couple of weeks. I also made the decision last week to switch from going for a MAL (Master of Arts in Leadership) in Spiritual Direction to an MDiv in Spiritual Direction; I’ll get to take more classes I’m interested in, and I think it’ll open up more possibilities for what I might do with the degree post-graduation. It means I’m adding an extra year or so onto my seminary journey, but I’ll still be done before I’m 40, so that’s fun.

Work has continued to feel kind of bananas, but I’m managing to stay afloat at this point. I need to nail down what I’m doing for a stretch project over the next few months (keeping in mind that I’ll be on medical leave for one of those months to recover from the hysterectomy); I have some ideas, just need to get them organized.

I’m very excited that FAWM is less than a week away! It’s always one of the highlights of my year. Even if I don’t get much writing done this time around, I’m excited to hear what everyone else comes up with.

I think that’s about it for me this week; here’s your weekly dose of Nova:

2022/2023

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to the last Thursday of 2022! What a year it’s been. 2022 brought a bunch of changes, challenges, and revelations. To highlight just some of what happened:

  • I started my graduate studies in Spiritual Direction at United Theological Seminary.
  • I did a sleep study and found out I’m really bad at breathing when I sleep. I consequently ended up getting an APAP machine, and it has been life-changing.
  • In April I made a last-minute trip to Chicago to see a friend in a play, and got to catch up with some of my favorite people.
  • I went on my first big company trip to New York City in May and got to meet a bunch of the people I’d only known through screens for the past two years.
  • I got my Carrie Fisher tribute tattoo.
  • We made it back to Song School after a couple of years away; I took a performance class with Amy Speace that was also life-changing.
  • The end of August marked a whole year with Nova, and we had a party to celebrate her 3rd birthday.
  • I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in September, and that’s brought a whole bunch of new medications and routines into my life.
  • We talked my best friend into moving into our building, and we live in a sitcom now, and it’s wonderful.
  • I took a songwriting class online with Sue Demel through the Old Town School of Folk Music and actually wrote some songs that I’m pretty happy with.
  • I passed all of my first year of seminary classes.

In addition to all that, we helped several members of our chosen family navigate a variety of crises, and I started making some new friends at school and through D&D.

My big, overarching goal for 2022 was to learn to approach life with more curiosity and compassion and less of a need for control. I think I made pretty good progress, although there’s definitely still room for growth. It’s leading me straight into the goal for 2023, which is to lean into vulnerability and unapologetically ask for what I need. As my therapist reminded me a couple of weeks ago – “you don’t need to be perfect to ask for your needs to be met.”

I think I’m going to wrap it up there for the year. I hope your holiday season has been reasonably gentle and that you’re able to go into the new year feeling refreshed. I’ll send you off with these holiday photos of Nova:

Good Week

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! Although I have had a bit of a struggle keeping track of my days this week, it’s been a good week overall:

  • I seem to be over the worst of the queasiness I was dealing with last week.
  • My husband is home again, so Nova has been much less anxious (and therefore less vocal).
  • On Monday, my best friend moved into our building! I’m so excited to have her as a neighbor.
  • I managed to get a song done for my songwriting class this week, and I’m actually reasonably pleased with it.
  • I had a really affirming appointment with my doctor yesterday.

Also, this weekend it looks like I’m going to get to play D&D, hopefully, so that’s exciting.

I don’t actually have a lot of thoughts this week. I will leave you with two things:

First, an admonition to please VOTE if you’re in the US – election day is next Tuesday, early voting is available in many places right now, and while voting won’t fix everything, it’s one of the tools we have to try to get things back on the rails.

And finally, here are photos of Nova in her Halloween costumes (which, as you can see, she was *thrilled* to wear, lol):

Finding Balance

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. It’s been an off week here in terms of routine – my husband is out in Washington helping my best friend pack and move back to the Twin Cities. I took the first half of the week off to give my brain a break (but also to attempt to catch up on some schoolwork). Nova has been a little extra needy with only one human around, so we’ve been navigating that. And then today I woke up feeling rather queasy and just generally under the weather, so I’m taking a sick day.

The week in general has been pretty good – I binged all of the She-Hulk series on Disney+, which I really enjoyed. It was fall symposium at school this week so I watched a bunch of the paper presentations for that, and that was really interesting. I got some homework done, and some knitting; a friend came over for a little study date on Tuesday, and that was really nice. I had a couple of medical appointments this week; one of them was pretty frustrating and the other went fine. Last night I started a songwriting class with the fabulous Sue Demel through the Old Town School, and while part of me feels I’ve taken leave of my senses signing up for another thing right now, I’m really excited about it.

Tonight I have class, and I really don’t want to miss it, so I’m going to spend today resting and trying to listen to what my body needs. As I’m adjusting to new medications I’m needing to relearn some of my body’s cues, and it’s a process.

I think that’s about it for this week; please enjoy these photos of some epic Nova naps:

Song School 2022

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! We have almost made it to the weekend.

Last week there was no blog, because I was in Lyons, CO at Song School! It was an absolutely incredible week. Some of the folks we usually end up hanging out with couldn’t make it this year, but we were able to reconnect with a bunch of old friends we hadn’t seen since 2019, and we made a bunch of new friends as well. There’s nothing quite like being surrounded by a community of like-minded, creative humans.

This year, rather than camping, we stayed at a tiny house resort across the street from camp (because I didn’t want to have to figure out a battery for my APAP machine or worry about that battery exploding in the heat of the tent). It was adorable:

Planet Bluegrass (the host of Song School) continues to be one of the most beautiful places on earth:

I started off the week deciding I was going to do things that scared me, so I took performance classes with Amy Speace (who is absolutely brilliant and if you’re unfamiliar with her music, please go listen to her album Tucson right now). I volunteered to play my song in the first class and have my performance critiqued (although “critiqued” sounds harsher than it was; it was more a gentle nudging toward greater authenticity), and I learned a TON – and then I found out I’d gotten one of the last performance slots for the open stage on the last night of Song School, so I had all week to integrate what I learned. On the last day of class, we each stood up and sang a few lines of Amazing Grace (or Happy Birthday, for those who didn’t know the words), and then our classmates assigned us three attributes based on their immediate impressions of our performances – two that had positive connotations and one “shadow” word, which we then worked to turn into something we could use to ground ourselves when stepping on stage. The words the group came up with for me were kind, sincere, and reserved, which were turned into the persona of Kind, Sincere Bear. I cried. It’s nice to be seen.

Some of you have seen this on Facebook already, but the classes with Amy were honestly life-changing. Historically, when I performed, even if it was going pretty well (maybe especially if it was going pretty well), I tended to dissociate. I’d step on stage and mostly leave my body.

This performance wasn’t perfect, but I’ve never been so present in my body while playing in front of people. I’ve never had so much fun on stage; I’ve never been prouder of a performance. I will be forever grateful to Amy for the tools she gave me this week, and to all the other friends who made this week so incredible.

Lyrics:

Pen and ink and paper combine
Alchemical fire as you write the big bang
Worlds spring into existence
Ready or not, connect the dots

Stop, take a breath
Feel the magic in your chest
When you know who you are
You are born of stars

At the top, it feels like flying
Giddy with altitude, one with the sky
In this earthbound apparatus
There’s no risk, just innocence

Stop, take a breath
Feel the magic in your chest
When you know who you are
You are born of stars

Some love starts with warm beverages
Held in nervous hands as voices spill secrets
And you slowly learn to ask
If you can dare, for what they might share

Stop, take a breath
Feel the magic in your chest
When you know who you are
You are born of stars

And because I know you’re all wondering – Nova did great at the boarders. We drove all the way home on Friday (which was my husband’s birthday), leaving Lyons at around 6:30am and arriving at the boarding facility just before midnight. The report card from the facility says that Nova was “so sweet” and “the life of the party” at group playtime. (We have a popular kid, apparently…she didn’t get that from either of her parents.) I will leave you, as always, with a few pictures of our girl, who will have been with us for a WHOLE YEAR as of Sunday!