we are hope, despite the times

These are unprecedented times – the combination of a very controversial and highly charged political atmosphere and instantaneous information via social media. It feels like there’s no way to step away and if I do step away, I’m failing in my duty to remain alert, informed, and supportive of the political causes that I support.

But I also believe that no one can win arguments online and there is a hysteria / mob mentality online that ratchets everything up to panic mode. I don’t have any answers about how to deal with this situation and I don’t have any answers about how we mend the divisiveness in the country right now. I’m forced to step back every so often, take 24-hour Facebook & Twitter detoxes, and do other things. (I also really want to try to understand why people feel the way they feel, but you can’t ask anyone their opinion on Facebook or Twitter without getting into an argument; this week I read articles like this and this.) I don’t want to fight anyone or hate anyone but I also don’t want to see anyone else discriminated against or hassled on the basis of their skin color, ethnic background, religion or gender. It seems simple to me, live and let live, but it’s just not.

I knew I needed to take a breather when I had an intense dream that Donald Trump was our new boss at work and coming to each of our offices to grill us. It was especially vivid and I woke up startled. So this week I got some new books piled up on my bedside table (“At Home in the World by Thich Nhat Hanh, “Jerusalem Book 1” by Alan Moore – which is quite bizarre – and “The Happiness Equation” by Neil Pasricha – I’m trying to read more nonfiction books this year on a variety of topics). And I hung out with my faves. Miss L was “Leader of the Week” at school so I left work (where, contrary to my subconscious musings, Donald Trump was NOT) to bring her a special Panera lunch and eat with her in her cafeteria. And last night we went back to my alma mater to check out the Michigan women’s gymnastics team’s win over Nebraska!

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Tickets are really inexpensive and the meet was fun – great music, constant activity, and Miss L – whose attention span can be short if she’s not constantly engaged in the proceedings, or well equipped with snacks – was entranced. She got her poster signed by a few members of the team after the meet and you know I don’t usually share pics of her in this forum but you can take my word that she was on Cloud 9. Afterwards, we had a girls’ dinner at Casey’s in Ann Arbor, across from the Amtrak train station – it was hopping! We had burgers and root beer and it was a welcome refuge from a week of angst.

The boys are doing really well, their Prozac has taken effect and although I keep them separated when I’m gone for longish periods of time – when I’m at work, or at Jax’s – when I’m home or just running errands they’re out together and there haven’t been any incidents of violence.

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This week I was watching a documentary on Netflix about trappers who live in the Russian Taiga and Sarge was dead asleep in one of his favorite places.

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On the documentary, the trapper’s dog began barking and snarling and digging at a hollow log to dislodge a sable. The sable burst forth hissing and chattering and Sarge came bolt upright, his eyes wild. The dog and the sable began an epic battle and Sarge jumped down off his chair and rushed to the TV. He was riveted to the scene even after the dog subdued the sable (it was actually kind of gross) and sat there for the longest time.

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I’ve only had one other cat that watched television and it was crazy tiger striped Salem who loved the leopard in “Bringing Up Baby” with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

I hope wherever you are this Sunday you are enjoying yourselves and your loved ones and staying sane in this crazy time, no matter which side of the fence you are on.

xoxo

christmas + obligatory cat pictures

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Happy Boxing Day! I hope everyone out in Readerland had a relaxing and peaceful holiday, whichever one you personally celebrate. For us, it’s Christmas. Lily and I drove home from the beautiful North on Christmas Eve. As I’ve alluded to in the past, I am blessed to have an amazing relationship with Lil’s dad and his partner Miss K. They are celebrating their Christmas later this week with his family, so they had no problems letting me take Lily on both Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. I won’t see her for over a week now, but I know she will be having an amazing time with her grandparents and with her dad and Miss K. I could not be luckier or more appreciative when it comes to all the loving and generous people in Lily’s life on both sides of her family. I don’t know how it all happened, how we forgave each other and moved into a new phase, but I know that Miss K has a huge heart and has been instrumental in it, too.

Jax and his family are traveling this week, so I am essentially on my own. I’ll work a few days – the office is extremely quiet during this time, so it’s a “wear jeans and come and go as you please” kind of atmosphere, with all of the Executive Shirts out. I plan on doing a lot of knitting this week and finishing up the Karl Pilkington oeuvre on Netflix, as well as the American Horror Story: Coven that I started. I plan on making a couple of warming dishes – white bean and ham soup, and a One-Pan Mexican Quinoa which I’ve made before, and I just love. I will hit up the gym and stock the fridge and freezer and get a jump start on my January detox with some smoothies and supplements. I have a special night out planned later this week, and then Jax and the kiddos and Izzy the Dog will be back for a cozy New Year’s Eve with pajamas, lasagna, and snacks. (Maybe some wine for me before aforementioned January detox…)

Enjoy your week! xoxo

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horrible timing 

Is it normal that the prospect of a weeklong beach vacation is currently filling me with sick anxiety? 

Mild agoraphobia runs in my family and although Jax & I and our combined kiddos have a great trip planned, the few days before leaving are filled with errands, long days at work, last minute scrambles, emails, and scribbled lists. The thought of being displaced for a week is difficult and I know most people would think it is crazy to feel like this. And believe me, I completely understand what a first world problem it is to feel anxious about taking a lovely long relaxing vacation and I know many people would love to have this to worry about. I get it and am as exasperated about it as any of you, dear readers.

Once, in my twenties, I had to take a work trip from Atlanta to South Carolina. It was a bad time in my life and working from my apartment made my tendencies more pronounced. I had a tiny, closed off little world that I felt completely safe and protected in, every day, and when I had to leave it, I got off-kilter. I got on the road and was assaulted by horrible anxiety about my cats and whether I’d locked my door, turned off the coffee pot, etc. Over an hour into the trip, I turned around and drove back to Atlanta. Yes, the only way I could combat that anxiety was to lose all of that time and go back to check. After that, if I had to leave for any period of time, I would lock my door and then scratch myself with the door key. If my anxiety started, I would look at the scratch on my wrist and know I had locked up.

Being on an antidepressant has changed me for the better in a myriad of ways, but some things are still a struggle and right now I’m there. 

The major trigger, currently, is that my cats have lapsed back into redirected aggression behavior. The timing couldn’t be worse.


They went from the above pictured calm, peaceful behavior, sleeping contentedly together, to violent, uncontrollable fighting over July 4. I don’t know if it is the result of fireworks and firecrackers, or a neighborhood cat or other animal in the yard. All I know is that Miss L & I came home to Emmett barricaded in my closet, too afraid to come downstairs to eat or use the box, and sporting a new cut on his nose to match the scar from the past serious bout of redirected aggression. He was hoarse from growling and hissing.


Who would have thought that this big gentle fluffbutt could be the aggressor?

They have been on Prozac since the last bout, which took place last winter, and I really thought we’d kicked it. This new setback is devastating. The timing is horrible, for one. They will have to be locked in separate rooms during my trip, and my ex will be checking on them. Thank God for friendly relations with my ex, I don’t think I could trust anyone else in close proximity to help while I’m gone. 

It’s also devastating because I feel like we’ve tried everything. Separations, pet behavior specialist, meds, and there is no long term solution. Keeping them separate and on meds is no life for them and creates immense stress for me. But I can’t imagine rehoming one of them. 


So I’m making my vacation plans with a heavy heart and if I didn’t have Miss L eagerly looking forward to fun in the sun with us, and Jax, who has done so much work to have this be a great trip, and has issues of his own that he has to overcome to go, I would consider canceling. Feeling anxious and out of control is not a good thing for me, but I will just have to get through it and figure things out when we get back.

there and back again

10.2015 frankfort beach front

So since I last posted, I’ve been to Japan and back again, my cats have lost their minds and been prescribed Prozac, I’ve narrowly avoided serving on a federal jury in a terrible case involving heinous acts against children, my workplace has lost its collective mind and NOT been prescribed Prozac, I’ve been rear-ended, wrestled with putting up my first live Christmas tree in years with only a cat and a 7-year old to help (“Is it straight now??” “Nope.” “!@#$%!”), ridden the emotional rollercoaster of Jim Harbaugh’s first college coaching season back at Michigan, I’ve cursed Donald Trump to the fiery pits of hell for his hate speech and fear-mongering, I’ve given multiple presentations, and now it’s 60 degrees F. in Michigan in December. I had to buy an actual notebook for my ‘to-do’ list. The doorknob fell off my front door (this is actually an excellent deterrent against thieves and visitors), and between the rear-ending and a missing hubcap, I look like I’m cruising around town in what we used to call a “hoopty”.

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The worst of it has really been the cats. They have a terrible case of redirected feline aggression and haven’t been able to be in the same room for almost three months because they will actually physically harm each other. I’m hoping the Prozac will help us get back our happy calm home because I can deal with whatever the outside world throws at me as long as I have my little family around me, and two of them have four paws each.

I’m not sure what has tilted the world off its axis but I am hoping in the next couple of weeks, it goes back again. I’m really looking forward to a week off over Christmas to remain in pajamas and finish some knitting and reading. Maybe I’ll fix the doorknob…or maybe not.

 

in which life is good.

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LIfe is really, really good lately.

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And not just because of National Donut Day, which we celebrated enthusiastically.

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I am super excited to be back to running cautious distances with no pain and this morning I rolled out of bed and had my first ‘I feel really awesome’ run in a very long time.

I have a duathlon next week that could change my mind about all of this – run 3 miles, bike 10.7, trail run 1.5 – but I’m even excited about that, and about a 5k the following week.

Life is just really, really good.

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” – Maya Angelou

sentence per picture, memorial day edition, with a 1-sentence ‘*bleep* my brother says’ bonus.

I've been so sick for the past two weeks with bronchitis and sinus infection, swallowing fistfuls of antibiotics and steroids every day; yet I finally felt better and continued my running rehab program - with a post-run wallow on the sunny riverbank.

I’ve been so sick for the past two weeks with bronchitis and sinus infection, swallowing fistfuls of antibiotics and steroids every day; yet I finally felt better and continued my running rehab program – with a post-run wallow on the sunny riverbank.

I was super thrilled to find a morel growing in my own garden; then everyone warned me that it might not be real so, afraid of dying ignominiously from mushroom poisoning, I didn't eat it.

I was super thrilled to find a morel growing in my own garden; then everyone warned me that it might not be real so, afraid of dying ignominiously from mushroom poisoning, I didn’t eat it.

Although I think the cardinals moved their nest to a quieter locale, there are still nests and babies in my yard.

Although I think the cardinals moved their nest to a quieter locale, there are still nests and babies in my yard.

The stained glass window behind Sarge made me sing "Take Me to Church" to him, which 1) he didn't get, and 2) made me think I've been spending too much time alone with my cats, based on the amount of hilarity I received from this.

The stained glass window behind Sarge made me sing “Take Me to Church” to him, which 1) he didn’t get, and 2) made me think I’ve been spending too much time alone with my cats, based on the amount of hilarity I received from this.

Friday night I was standing at my kitchen sink, listening to WRCJ's evening jazz, when I happened to look up and see this standing under my birdfeeder staring at me.

Friday night I was standing at my kitchen sink, listening to WRCJ’s evening jazz, when I happened to look up and see this standing under my birdfeeder staring at me.

On Saturday night, Sarge climbed the back screen door, scolding, and when I investigated, our visitor had returned and was placidly consuming the neighbor's flowers. In response to my posting of this photo on FB, my brother wrote severely, "You should tell them they need to leash their ungulates..."

On Saturday night, Sarge climbed the back screen door, scolding, and when I investigated, our visitor had returned and was placidly consuming the neighbor’s flowers. In response to my posting of this photo on FB, my brother wrote severely, “You should tell them they need to leash their ungulates…”

in which i have a saturday.

Or, in my case, perhaps a ‘caturday’.

It still feels weird when Miss L is with her dad for the weekend and I have a full Saturday and a Saturday night without anything to do. I have a reflexive feeling of guilt about these times, and an almost subconscious anxiety that makes me want to sit at home and wait for her return. I’m gradually processing those feelings, and I’ve been dating, and I have things to do, and plans. But at heart I am still inclined to back out of social commitments and hide with the boys, which is exactly what I did yesterday.

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Yesterday I spent my Saturday doing a few of my favorite things. It was a bit of a grand day for me because it was my first time running since January! I had a tibial stress fracture and spent the last nearly 3 months in recovery mode = no weight bearing exercise. No boot camp, no elliptical, no walking. I got to be very good friends with the spin bike in our workout room.

Last week, I was able to start with the elliptical and walking, and yesterday was my first gradual ramp-up. Run / walk intervals, 5 mins of walking and 1 min of running for 30 mins. It wasn’t much, but everyone has to start somewhere, and I have a 9-week recovery training plan that I am going to follow to the letter. I have new PowerStep Pulse insteps, a fancy shin harness, a new iPhone sport armband, and wireless headphones on the way, my gifts to myself for my return to running.

I picked Kensington for this run, and spent another hour after I was done tromping around looking at birds.

I swear, someday I will be the old lady clomping around the parks clutching binoculars and bird books. I know there’s something tweaked about me, that a day spent doing that is preferable to going out and socializing, but I was completely happy with my choice.

04.2015 swans

Everyone is sitting a nest these days, and the air is filled with the booming noise of the cranes nesting on the island in the middle of the lake, and the noisy chatter of red-winged blackbirds. The swan pair were quite domestic. She stood up to rearrange her nest and tenderly cover her eggs back up with fluff while her hubster looked on. The Sandhill Cranes seemed to be having some sort of dispute, however, as they kept the cold shoulder toward one another.

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I came home, took a nap, which Emmett loved, and ambled over to Whole Foods for dinner… I am addicted to their pizza which is a sad and expensive addiction at $3 a slice, so I save it only for special occasions because 1 slice is never enough.

Sometimes, a Saturday night spent doing laundry and watching historical English programming (Wolf Hall, White Queen) is balm for the soul, and better than any night out on the town.

04.2015 chillin