Back and Still Breathing

Hello, dear readers! Welcome to Thursday. It has been A Week. In fact, it’s been Two Weeks.

Life has been utter madness the past couple of weeks. We had multiple family members end up in some sort of crisis that we had the means to assist with to some degree – I won’t go into detail, because they aren’t my stories to tell, but this is the basic outline:

  • The week before I left for my work trip to NYC, we made some last-minute plans for my husband to travel to Boston to help someone out for a week. The plan was for them to leave here on Wednesday while I was still in NY; we arranged for Nova to stay with my husband’s godmother for a few days until I got back.
  • The day I left for NY, a situation closer to home blew up, and we ended up needing to host some folks and their stuff in our apartment. My husband managed to get an extra key to our apartment from the building manager.
  • Wednesday, my husband called me in a panic because Nova had gotten into a box of dried goods while they were at an appointment. Thankfully, she had pretty much just destroyed packaging and left the actual food alone, so they didn’t need to go to the emergency vet before my husband went to Boston. That night was our giant company party (which was fun, but a lot). While at the party, I learned there were tornado warnings happening back at home. (Thankfully, everyone was okay.)
  • Friday, I planned to get to the airport early and work from there until my 3pm flight. I am not usually superstitious about Friday the 13th, but it was a doozy:
    • I had to go through the body scanner twice and then get patted down because my (lack of) junk was flagged as suspicious.
    • My laptop refused to connect to the airport wifi, and I was running low on phone data.
    • I had forgotten to charge my laptop before I left the hotel, and there was a paucity of outlets in the terminal I was waiting in at Newark.
    • Just as I was figuring out a work situation, I got news that someone I’d been face-to-face with the day before had tested positive for covid.
    • Thankfully, a coworker was able to take over most of what I’d been planning on doing from the airport as I scrambled to find alternative housing for the folks who were still at our apartment.
  • I got home, managed to get folks to their next temporary space, did a quick sweep of the apartment to make sure things were Nova-proofed, picked up Nova from my husband’s godmother’s house, got home, and crashed.

It’s been a weird week since then, being solo with Nova, but she’s been a trooper and is mostly behaving herself. I’ve been testing for covid daily, because of course, every day more of my coworkers are testing positive. I’m staying masked anytime I leave the apartment (which I was mostly still doing anyway, but I’m being a lot stricter about it now). Last night was a kickoff Zoom for the asynchronous class I’m taking over the summer, and I’m a bit nervous about the class – there’s a lot of reading, and I’m adding an intense, four-week class in June that meets twice a week on top of it. But I’ll figure it out.

In positive news, the PAP machine is doing its job – I was getting up early and going to bed late all week in NY and didn’t really crash until Saturday night. This week I’ve been continuing to get up earlier; I haven’t stayed up as late, but that’s mostly out of overwhelm at the overstuffed state of my apartment. I’m grateful that I started PAP therapy when I did and that it’s going well, because I don’t know how I would have managed otherwise.

I’m also extremely grateful for a solid support network, for therapy, and for all the hard work I’ve put into therapy over the past few years. I’m staying pretty regulated and doing a decent job of using my resources rather than melting down or spiralling into a panic, which would not have been the case if this had happened even just a year or two ago.

All that to say, I am feeling pretty depleted right now, but I’m okay. I’m going to be joining an in-person D&D game here in the Twin Cities that starts next week, and while that’s yet another thing on the schedule, it’s D&D, which is such a great outlet. Play is important and I want to do more of it. I’m hoping to spend a little time this weekend messing around with some new music equipment. My husband comes home tonight and Nova is going to be SO HAPPY (and so will I).

I shall leave you with some photos of Nova that I’ve taken since coming home:

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):

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:

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:

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.

Minnesota!

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! I will admit I have been completely confused about what day it is all week – between taking all of last week off of work to move, and having Monday off for the holiday, my internal calendar is all sorts of turned around. But hey, I’m here. And by here, I mean in our new apartment in St. Paul!

Moving went about as smoothly as it could have, but it was exhausting. I’m so grateful for the help we had from family and friends, and that we were able to afford movers to load and unload the truck. The new apartment is delightful – it’s spacious and feels like a major upgrade from where we were before.

It feels good to be back in Minnesota. It’s also weird. I’m learning how to navigate the fact that I’m now a couple of states away from the team I lead at work. We’ve all been remote pretty much the entire time we’ve worked together, but it still feels different. I’m slowly starting to reach out to friends here to reconnect, hoping that I can reestablish a sense of community in the Twin Cities. I did have the delightful experience of running into an old friend on the street the other day – she works downtown and spotted me from the skyway and it was so fun to get to see her!

All in all I’m feeling good about where we’re at – we have a lovely home that’s honestly more unpacked than I expected it to be by this point. I have an office to work out of, which is a vast improvement from working out of my dining room. We’re figuring out routines.

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

Brief Thursday Thoughts

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. It’s going to be a pretty quick blog this week – I have a lot to pack in at work today since they’ve given us tomorrow off in recognition of Juneteenth.

This week I’m delivering performance assessments to my direct reports at work for the first time. It’s nerve-wracking, because I want to be supportive and encouraging and also help them grow and deliver it all in a way that’s motivating rather than paralyzing. The upside is that I was not at all nervous for my own performance assessment this time around – usually I get really in my head about it, but I’ve been so focused on getting assessments written that I didn’t have the brainspace to worry much about it.

Last weekend I dove full-force back into being a social human, and ended up needing to take Monday off to recover (and also because I woke up with a massive sinus headache). Friday night I went out for dinner and drinks with some coworkers, a couple of which I’d never met in person (and then rest of which I’d only seen in person once or twice, basically). It was fun getting to know them a little better IRL, and to see how tall they actually are. Saturday, we got dinner with some dear friends, and then I ended up going over to their house afterward and we wound up playing D&D until 1am (which is SEVERAL hours past my usual bedtime, but it was worth it). I cannot put into words how delightful it was to get to play in person with some of my favorite fellow nerds. And Sunday we got up early to grab coffee with another friend at the park near our apartment, and then I had a virtual D&D game that night (which only went until 10, thankfully). I am definitely swinging wildly between, “I want to see all my friends and do all the things!” and, “I am way too anxious for being social right now.”

We’re down to two weeks away from moving, and I’m trying not to panic. We’ve made good packing progress already. The big thing that’s hanging over my head right now is figuring out how to get rid of the furniture that’s not coming with us to Minnesota. I’m sure it’ll all work out, though.

I think that’s it from me for this week. I hope you’re all hanging in there and taking care of yourselves, whatever that looks like, as many of us start taking our first shaky steps back into social life.

Gratitude on a Sunny Thursday

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday, which I keep thinking is Wednesday…which is, I suppose, better than thinking it’s Friday. I hope you’re all hanging in there.

As of a couple of days ago, I’m officially two weeks out from my second covid vaccine and therefore as immunized as I’m going to be for the time being. It feels good to feel like I can start making some plans with (also immunized) friends again. It also feels weird. I am definitely going to need to relearn how to be social in person, and I’m sure my limit for how many people I can tolerate being with for an extended period of time has changed over the past year of isolation. (I’m an introvert, so that wasn’t a huge number to begin with…I’m a bit nervous about going back to group activities, to be honest.)

My tattoo is healing up nicely, though it’s in a very itchy stage right now. I can’t tell how much of that is the tattoo itself and how much is the hair growing back on my arm, but I’m trying to be careful about not absentmindedly scratching at it.

I don’t really have a lot to talk about this week, but let’s end this with a little list of things I’m grateful for right now:

  • I am grateful for my job. It’s still mindblowing to be in a place where I feel both challenged and appreciated, where I feel like my value is being recognized. It’s wild that I’m in a leadership position and enjoying it (not that it’s easy, but that it feels like a good use of my skills). It’s wild to have a degree of financial stability I have not had since moving out of my parents’ house.
  • I am grateful for my friends. I’ve had a lot of really great conversations lately that remind me that my people are the best people. I’m grateful for their trust and their insight and their love. I’m so glad I don’t feel like I have to carry everything on my own, or pile everything onto my husband or my therapist, but I have whole communities of people supporting me.
  • I am grateful for music. In the past couple of weeks, I rediscovered how much I absolutely adore P!nk. In college, I went from listening pretty exclusively to contemporary Christian music to dipping my toes into the waters of other options, and P!nk was one of the first artists I heard that really connected with my angsty, troubled heart. I hadn’t kept up with her music after graduation, really, but in diving into her newer stuff, it’s been a delight to see that, even though I am not an angsty college student anymore, her music still connects. We’ve both grown since then. I have immense respect for her as an artist. My current favorite track is this one (in case the link doesn’t work, or you don’t use Spotify – it’s the last song on her 2019 album Hurts 2B Human; the track is called “The Last Song of Your Life,” and it’s beautiful), but her newest singles (from the current year) are also incredible.

That’s it from me this week – keep taking care of yourselves and each other.

Movement

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday. (I’m pretty sure it’s Thursday, since that’s what my computer is telling me, but I was definitely certain for most of yesterday that it was Tuesday, and just a moment ago was completely convinced it was Friday today…time feels particularly wobbly this week, for some reason.) FAWM has ended – I wrote 19 songs last month, and I’m actually reasonably pleased with several of them. The songwriting class I’ve been in for the past two months has also wrapped up – I’m really pleased that my classmates want to stay in touch, and we have an email thread going.

Yesterday, I started private lessons with one of my favorite songwriting instructors at the Old Town School, Sue Demel. I’ve never taken private lessons before (though I’ve taken many group classes, including group classes that Sue was teaching over the past four months), and it’s a little intimidating to get that kind of 1:1 attention. But it’s also great, because I adore Sue and her enthusiasm for helping singer-songwriters find their most authentic singing voices. The goal of our work together is to get me ready to record an album this year – I bought a bunch of recording equipment recently, and my husband is taking a class to learn how to make the best use of it, and we’re both experimenting a bit in GarageBand and Logic – it might be a self-produced album, or it might be something I start at home and finish in a studio this fall if enough folks get vaccinated and things open back up a bit. One of my goals for today is to nail down my track list (I have done a lot of brainstorming on this, but Sue has encouraged me to make an actual decision so we can narrow the focus of what we’re working on in our lessons). I’m very excited, even though I also feel like I’m biting off more than I can chew – I’ve been writing songs since I was 10, and since I started keeping track in 2012 I’ve written over 240 of them. It’s time to get some nicer recordings done and out into the world.

In non-music news, my new role at work is going well. I’m one month in and learning a tone – I started taking over 1:1s with my direct reports this week, and that’s been great, although I’m already realizing things I can adjust there. I also did a Mental Health First Aid training through work this week, which was super informative.

I hope you’re all hanging in there and continuing to stay safe and healthy and taking care of yourselves and each other.