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.

February Winding Down

Hello, lovely readers, and welcome to Thursday. Yesterday felt a lot like a Thursday to me, and today feels like a Friday, which means tomorrow will likely be a challenge. I have just been tired this week for no particular reason. Thankfully, the weather in Chicago is turning warmer and sunnier, and that makes things feel a little better (I like cold weather, but my joints have other opinions).

February is winding down. I have 18 songs posted on FAWM and, assuming I can get a song done for class this week, should round out the month with at least 19, which ties for the most songs I’ve ever written in a month (I also wrote 19 songs the first year I did FAWM). I got a bit overwhelmed by it all sometime last week and haven’t been writing or posting or engaging with the site in general as much as I was at the beginning of the month, but it’s still been a major source of joy in my month.

Work has been good, although I feel like I’m behind on a couple of larger projects. In reality I probably didn’t have super realistic expectations at the outset of these things, and I’m trying to be gentle with myself about it. I’m still definitely feeling a fair bit of burnout from being at the computer all the time, and am going to look today at when I can take a little time off next month to reset.

I’ve been quite achy this week, I think in part because I forgot to take my glucosamine supplements over the weekend, and also because of the weather shifting. I think that’s also impacted how much I’ve been writing this week, because it’s hard to really play an instrument very well when your elbows and hands ache. It’s also made knitting harder. Sigh. The good news is that in general I’ve been in a bit less pain in between shifts in weather and the times when I forget my supplements. Unfortunately this is just a really volatile weather time in the Midwest.

I hope you’re all hanging in there, friends. I am looking forward to the day when vaccines are more widely accessible and we can hug each other again. I’m still planning to wear a mask in public for the foreseeable future, but hopefully after we’re all vaccinated, hugs will feel safer.

Deep Breaths

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday.

I’m in a position where I feel like there’s a fair bit of news that’s going to happen, but none of it has happened yet, so I don’t actually have a ton to write about this week. This is gonna be a short one. That said, I’m going to focus on a handful of things I’m currently feeling grateful for:

  • My job, even when it’s stressful, is really great. I have never felt so affirmed in a work environment as I do at this job, and there’s a sense of stability that comes with that feeling that’s really necessary right now. The fact that my husband is out of work and we’re still doing okay financially is mind-blowing to me.
  • The Illinois legislature voted to end cash bail, among other things! This is a big deal.
  • I’m in a new songwriting class that started on Saturday, and I’m very excited for it. It’s a small group, just 4-5 students, which always makes for an interesting session. This week I’m struggling with the assignment, but even as I feel like songwriting is an impossible endeavor, I’m still looking forward to class and feeling motivated to keep trying, so that’s exciting.

A Little Thursday Gratitude

Hello, dear readers, and apologies for the late blog today – my morning flew by (and also I’ve spent most of the week perpetually thinking it was Wednesday).

I have a lot of jumbled thoughts rolling around in my head today, but nothing that’s standing out as an “I should write a blog about this” sort of thing. So let’s keep it simple today – here are a handful of things I am grateful for right now.

  • My job. Aside from just being grateful to be employed right now, I am really grateful to specifically have this job. I love my team, our leadership is amazing, and I’ve never been in a job where I feel so genuinely valued for my contributions. It’s definitely not what I was expecting when I moved out of the non-profit world into a for-profit situation, but it’s been incredible and I’m so glad to be where I am.
  • My apartment. It’s a bit of a mess at the moment, but I am so glad that we moved last year. As much as I sometimes miss our old neighborhood, I cannot imagine how we would have managed this pandemic in our old apartment. Even though it’s just a one-bedroom, we have enough space (and enough doors that close) that we can each be in our own corners of the apartment to focus on what we want to get done during the day (and just have alone time, which is crucial for a pair of extreme introverts).
  • Community. I made a concerted effort early on in the pandemic to set up or get involved in some regularly scheduled virtual hangouts with various friends and friend groups, and it’s been a life saver. As an introvert, I think I used to downplay how much I need community, but being physically distanced from everyone has really highlighted to me just how important it is.

I hope you’re all hanging in there this week. Do what you can to take care of yourselves, and please, continue wearing masks and avoiding in-person gatherings. I know it sucks to not be able to be with people over the holidays, but if we want a chance at celebrating together next year, this is what we have to do.