Monday, December 27, 2010

Rethinking this holiday

I have to admit, Christmas this year has been pretty good overall. Everyone arrived on time, I got to leave work a little early on Christmas eve, a few unexpected visitors showed up on Christmas day (my neighbor and our former office assistant from work-made me a beautiful afghan!), and we're all getting along. Most of the time we do get along, but at times, usually midway through the visit, my dad will get on my mom's nerves. If you don't know, my parents are divorced, both remarried, but we all get along and care for each other. I've been quite thankful to have all this as so many children are not fortunate to have divorced parents that actually get along. My fathers always said that my mother will always still be one of his true loves of his life, but they just couldn't live together on a daily basis. My mom needed something very different for a partner. But as friends, yes, they do well in that department.

Anyway, Christmas eve wound up being last minute shopping. We had forgotten some things we needed for Christmas dinner. Surprisingly, there were a lot of people who also forgot and were shopping at the eleventh hour. My dad and I made the dinner the next day. We had to improvise as I do not have the much needed deep pan to fit a small turkey in, a platter, plastic type cooking utensils for my pans, etc. But, we managed, and the dinner turned out great. I realized two things with this dinner: 1) this was my first true, big dinner at my house with more than one person as company and 2) it is finally nice to not feel so worried about an actual Christmas dinner. Before at these types of dinner, I always had fear and anxiety that just resulted in restriction and restraint.

Though this felt great yesterday, after eating that meal, plus more than usual cookies and other food, and going out to eat, now I feel full. Full is uncomfortable but not permanent. Good mantra to keep in mind.

As for everything else Christmas wise, everyone loved their gifts. The dogs loved their new toys, Clover liked her new treats, and I received some good and interesting gifts. Today, we made waffles. Yummy! We also went to the international food market which we all enjoyed, then we went to a Korean restaurant for dinner.. With the food we bought there plus the leftovers, I have SO much food. It's daunting but 'll be okay.

I am really happy that I have tomorrow and Tuesday off. I also have a shorter hour work week. I haven't quite figured this out but for now, I'm going to enjoy it. Tomorrow, we are doing stuff around the house, I'm making some egg rolls and dog biscuits, and we may go to the zoo Festival of Lights in the evening.

Overall, I really couldn't have asked for a better holiday. Though I doubt I will ever be a happy go lucky holiday person, I am feeling satisfied and not as stressed. What more can you say to that?

Oh and I have to say, Macy's has the best sales ever! Normally, I do not discuss what clothing I get, but my mom bought me a kick ass coat today at Macy's. I was looking for a peacoat but found this magenta color coat instead. It's a little long as it is not a petite but it so cool and different looking. I'll try to take a picture of it soon.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Procrastination and exhaustion are winning out

If you all remember from a few previous posts ago, Christmas is at my house this year. I'm handling it okay for the most part, however, procrastination and exhaustion have won out. I've spoken about procrastination before here and here. I was really determined to have much of what I needed to get done this past weekend. This included shopping, wrapping gifts, baking cookie for my neighbors, Christmas cards, making ornaments and treats for dog daycare dogs, and cleaning. Well, the only things that got done were shopping and the dog treats and ornaments for the daycare dogs. As a respite from all this, I did see Black Swan--a post on that later.

This week, I have only gotten my Christmas cards sent out. No gifts have been wrapped, no baking done, and little cleaning has been done. My mom and her husband get in late tomorrow evening. My father will come in Friday evening. And I still have a full two days of work. I was quite disappointed at this, because I scheduled a doctor's appointment for tomorrow afternoon, thinking it was late enough to have the rest of the day off. However, I'm scheduled to come back for an additional 3 hours to clean and do a dog daycare evaluation.

This leaves hardly any time at all to clean and have the house the way I want it simply due to my own doing. :sigh I'm really not complaining here, but now wonder why in the world I agreed to this in the first place.

All I can do at this point is what I can. In the meantime, I'll go ahead and get a few hours of zzzzs and get up early to see what else I can done. Did I mention why I dislike the holidays?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

To experience no fear

I was listening to NPR's Science Friday yesterday and came across a really fascinating discussion about a woman, known as SM, who experiences no fear. SM has a rare condition which has caused bilaterla focal lesions on her amygdala, providing very limited function. Thus, SM does not experience fear like the rest of us. Current Biology recently published a case study of her.

Researchers at University of Iowa have been studying SM for several decades now. They have showed her snakes, spiders, taken her to haunted houses, etc.-things that provoke fear in many people, but she does not feel fear. She does, however, know what fear is intellectually and feels other emotions like surprise, worry and some anxiety. This experience of not feeling fear has put her in dangerous situations that many of us would avoid. For example, she once approached a "drugged out" looking man late at night alone. The man put a knife to her throat, threatening to kill her and she coolly replied, "If you're going to kill me, you're going to have to go through my God's angels first." Then, the man let her go and she walked home.

It's actually remarkable that she is still alive if she has continually placed herself in these dangerous situations, but at the same time, there is something truly intriguing about this case, especially since once again the amygdala is involved.

The amygdala is a pretty unique structure in our brains. Besides fear conditioning, it is involved in other emotions such as the processing of rewards, learning, and motivation, as well as cognitive functions like memory, attention, and perception. Various studies have also shown the amygdala is implicated in eating disorders and addiction, including the processing of rewards.

After hearing SM's story, it really made me wonder what it would be like to live in a world of no fear. Though I doubt I would want to have this extremeness of fearlessness much the same way I would not want to be one of those people who never feel pain (congenital analgesia), but at times, I do think it would nice.

Much of my fear has been less with actual tangible objects but more abstract ones--fear of the future, fear of the unknown, fear of life, fear of recovery, fear of what people think, fear of never measuring up, etc. I know fear is much like stress with its advantages and disadvantages, and it depends on how we function and cope with it. For me, like many others, it's been in unhealthy ways. And it's only been through recovery and learning that I want and can have a different life, that I've been able to process the fear better.

There's still a ways to go. It seems every time I'm faced with a major life decision, I revert back to this fearful thinking of my incapabilities, but each bout is less fearful than the first. And for that, I am thankful as no one should live paralyzed by fear, whatever it may be.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas change of plans

Every year, my father really hopes I come to SC for Christmas. Every year, I really feel like I let him down. I've said my reasons before--logistics, time, distance, and taking care of pets. The last one is probably the one that is the hardest for me. Call me weird, but I really do have a hard time leaving them during holidays. I guess it is the whole notion that yes, they are like my "children." This is kind of ironic since for years I took care of many other people's pets during the holidays. Originally, I did think our boarding facility would be open, but it will not be for awhile. I checked out other boarding places awhile back but wasn't very thrilled with them and don't know enough people around here to take care of my animals. Yes, I am choosy and particular when it comes to this.

The last time I went to my father's house, my late Baxter and his Coonhound did not get along despite already knowing each other previously. (my step-brother originally adopted the Coonhound from a friend of mine here) I think that kind of scarred the whole holiday experience for me, even though I know all of our dogs are sociable. Then, there is also Clover to think about which adds a notch to pet sitting, especially after I learned my parents fed her dog kibble for a week while I was gone!

Anyway, for several years we (my dad, his wife, his dogs; my mom and her husband) had talked about meeting somewhere halfway. I thought maybe this would be the year. My logic was, if we wanted, we could all bring our pets--but if one did not get along, they could easily stay in their motor home. I had it all planned out, and it seemed like a win-win for everyone. But then, my father was worried about the weather.

We talked about other suggestions, and again my father just kept reverting to the idea that I should come there, demanding me to find someone to take care of my animals, that he would fly me to there. I was really uncomfortable with this idea on such short notice, so his wife jumped at the suggestion to have them all come here. She really liked this idea, because then, she could spend the time with her son and his girlfriend without any worry of conflict or argument between my father and her son. My father has what I call the "testosterone" complex. I love him dearly but for whatever reason, he does not get along well with other males in the household, despite growing up with 3 brothers.

I was a bit hesitant on this as it would make my mom and her husband drive here (they would be driving anyway) and my dad to have to get a flight. But at the same time, the last time my parents were here back in late October, I saw them very minimally. In some ways, this was good then.

However, there is a feeling of stress. It's not like I have not spent time with all of them in one place--it's been awhile, but rather not in my own home. It feels strange. There is a subconscious expectation to be merry, to have decorations up (no, I normally don't put much up at all if anything), to make sure the holiday dinner turns out right, to make sure all my appliances are working (recently, I was out of power for 3 days due to my main electrical breaker going out. This required a complete new fuse box), to make sure I don't make dumb turns in direction (I do this more often than I care to admit), to make sure my appearance is okay (it is inevitable someone will not remark about my face, body, etc.), and to make sure everyone has a good time. I realize this last one should not be on me, but as a "host" of sorts, there is that feeling of obligation and entertaining.

So to assuage my fears that this will not be a complete disaster, I've been trying to think of things to do while they are here. So far, I've come up with going to the International grocery store, a local aquarium, or the Zoo Festival of Lights. This does not feel like enough, however, so for the next few weeks, I will likely be racking my brains of other options just so I have plenty to choose from even if this may only be for 4 days.

I'll keep everyone posted on how the first Christmas in my own home goes. (I realize there was last Christmas but I mourning then over the loss of Baxter, so that wasn't really a holiday at all)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Crossroads of sorts

So I'm now at a crossroads of sorts at work. Since Thursday, I've really been struggling with what to do. I had a "mandatory" meeting with my boss which I only knew about since late that morning while checking my e-mail. It wasn't exactly what I had envisioned-more like she had a meeting with me, along with two new business partners, both of whom I knew.

Procedural questions were asked which was fine, but there was one bizarre question and one question that felt like "sandbagging" me. I did have an opportunity to ask some questions-I did, but neglected one question which I should have. But honestly, after 40 minutes, I wanted to get out of there. Though I've never had to defend a thesis or dissertation, I can imagine it might have been similar to this, except for the fact that at least with that, you get to prepare.

I left feeling like I was ambushed. I don't want to talk about fair since I know life just isn't fair. You learn that early on and how to accept it and move on. But I'm now left questions of what to do. I've gone through my head many scenarios of the whys, but again that doesn't get my anywhere really. I can think that perhaps the way my boss is treating me has nothing to do with me at all and is just stress in her life, the holidays, the death of her dad back in June. Truly, I get this and am a highly sympathetic, understanding, give the benefit of the doubt type of person. I know all this takes time to process, to grieve, to heal.

This really comes down to my options and a pro/con list of questions:

  • I could look at this behaviorally and ask what would I do with a dog that was in this situation? How is my boss like a behavior case?
    • How could I operantly change this?
    • Do I have that power to change this?
    • Am I able to become a "pest" of sorts?
    • Am I willing to ride it out until there is some miraculous breakthrough if any?
    • Am I willing to sacrifice my soul for this?
    • Is this job or her (all the reasons why I moved up here a year ago) worth it now?
  • I could ride this out as I am now, not making any real attempt to change it--kind of looking at this as a lost cause.
    • Is it really a lost cause?
    • How long can my sanity (if I have any left) put up with this?
    • This is just a job-you do it, then go home without ever feeling truly satisfied.
  • I could ride it out and also in the mean time be looking at different options, putting feelers out.
    • I get a chance to see what else might be out there.
    • This can get complicated with the non-competition clause in the employee agreement.
This is all really hard for me to consider. On one hand, I do not want to be in the same situation I was prior to this which was about stifling your growth, but at the same time there was at least a trusting factor. The lure of incentives to come here were supportive environment, paid seminars/workshops, teaching group classes, private training clients, working on scheduling/ power points, training new people, and more. However, not much of this has happened. I've taught some classes, but recently she did not schedule me for this as to "watch my hours"-mind you I'm on salary pay, and I heavily enjoy classes. I've done the power points for all the classes, workshops, and seminars.

On another hand, I see all the potential this place has to be/offer, and I'd like to be a part of that. But at what cost to me? Then, there is also the whole fear factor with this awful economy too.

This is when I highly wish I had a therapist again. I may see about referrals from my gp when I schedule an appointment with her sometime this month.

Anyway, that's the latest saga on work. I always worry this comes off as whining, it's just been hard as I had such high hopes, made a big sacrifice coming here, and it feels a bit dashed. Again, I thank everyone for their great support on blogland, twitter, (I do not post this stuff on my personal facebook account), texts, and e-mails (you know who you are). My motto of late has been, "venting is a lot better than self-destruction." (truly I've been doing okay for the most part, though there have been moments of just wanting to delve into jigsaw puzzles-always a sign of depression for me or running even though I haven't in like a year-do want to eventually though, and some loss of appetite/weight loss but trying to keep tabs on that)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas lists

Christmas List Pictures, Images and Photos

I really dislike making them. There is some aspect of the whole "desire" thing I've always had trouble with. This is when my brain goes into global mode and begins to think about all the people everywhere you have way less than I do. Why would I want more and feel like a gluttonous person for having these types of thoughts?

However, I realize it helps my family figure out things to get me as I don't see them that often and well, our tastes kind of differ. No dad the short shorts from Abercrombie and Fitch, though nice, is not something I will ever wear due to too many "thunder thigh" moments which I'd rather not be feeling. Or those skinny jeans-well they will look cute on someone else. Needless to say I have now asked them to refrain from buying any clothing items unless it is absolutely specified. I figure it will just save both of us the trouble.

So what to put on my list? Really, there is nothing much that I can think of beyond a few dog training books, several dvds, and a new pair of running shoes.Okay yes, there is probably more, but my mind convinces me that I really just don't need or deserve those things or they are too expensive, etc. In years past, my parents made donations in my name to different charity organizations like Heifer International and a women's charity fighting domestic violence. Maybe, I will suggest this again as this feels more satisfying than a tangible gift of sorts. I think this is probably one reason why I try to buy from organizations where some of the proceeds go towards those in need, whether it be 2-legged or 4-legged.

So later today, I'll be working on this procrastinated list, along with the other infinite amount of stuff I need to do today, including grocery shopping which I've now put off for a week.

Do others feel the same way about this?

On a positive note to end all this, my cell phone died yesterday. After driving around trying to remember where the freaking Verizon Wireless store was, I was eligible for an upgrade. I decided to stick with a Blackberry curve, upgrading to the second version in a color of violet! It's very nice having wifi access. Now I just need to figure out how to plug in the number Blackberry prompted into my router.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

One is not necessarily a lonely number

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you will know that holidays are just not my thing. This truly did start with depression, an eating disorder, and pure stress. And that was something like 14 years ago. Throughout the years, I've spent some holidays with my family (though that has been a rarity since graduating from college), I've volunteered, I've gone to friends' and co-workers' homes, and I've spent them alone. My parents always had a hard time with the latter one, and eventually I got to a point of saying I had an invitation somewhere just to make them feel less concerned.

However, after reading a few articles like Secretly Wishing for a Thanksgiving for One and Alone for Thanksgiving? How to Make the Most of It, I'm not feeling so guilt ridden about it like I have been in the past when I confessed about the holidays. It's nice knowing others do feel similarly/have been through the same thing. Sure, it is nice to spend it with people, but at the same time, it is not as bad for some people to spend it alone either. After all, I'm truly not alone as I have my three 4-legged "children", though they do not have their own place at the table like this woman's cat here. However, I do thoroughly feel her reasons are valid that this cat is a well-behaved family member, as I do with my dogs.

I do admit, however, my plans to take the dogs to a nearby park were a bit thwarted by the weather. It is steadily raining here with not much hope of letting up. Tovah, my youngest, could care less as she has already spent a few hours exploring the yard in the rain. (she has to be sure she has gotten every mole possible) Meanwhile, Hank and Daphne would rather stay inside in the warmth of the house. (Daphne often thinks she will melt at the site of cold or rain-just imagine when it snows here!)

So instead my plans will be to watch the dog show, work with the dogs, do some laundry, work on a project for Baxter's 1-year anniversary, desperately organize some bills I've been putting off the last 3-4 month (literally), and to buy some stuffing and potatoes, two items which I thoroughly enjoy during the holiday season. I would have had the stuffing, but Daphne decided to eat it all! Yes, it was another "bad trainer" moment of forgetting to put her in her crate when I left/not putting locks on the turntable.

To leave this on a holiday note, I have always felt grateful in life, sometimes to a point of excess which I've learned to partly let go of in the last few years. I wrote this post a few years ago about gratitude, and I still feel pretty similarly to this. I think gratitude just shouldn't be about one day but all the days throughout. It's just that for many people, this one day gives them stop for thought. But if that is what it takes for some people, then albeit, let this day be that day.

Lastly, I just want to thank all you blog readers for reading this blog and giving me support and feedback. The blogging world has made a difference in a number of lives, and I certainly include myself in this. I've met some great people here. To each and all of you, I hope you have a successful and happy Thanksgiving Day, always taking care of yourself in the process.

Happy Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Weekends and work

I remember when I used to hate that the weekend was about to come. It meant unstructured time, no real schedule, an interruption of my routine. I still fight this with notion a lot, thinking I must get a ton of stuff done on the weekends--laundry, vacuuming, cleaning, organizing, stuff with the dogs and bunny, etc. But with my last three weeks of work, I've welcomed the weekend graciously and have tried to fill it with fun time. For example, last weekend, I visited an online friend I'd known for 14 years but never met. This weekend, I'm visiting another friend or two and meeting a new Match date.

I never thought how much of a welcome relief the weekends would be, though I do think weekends should really be 3 days rather than 2. I find it always takes me one day to wind down. But truly this makes sense with work lately. This week was the same as the previous other two weeks, though I did say again that we needed to talk and it really could not wait any longer. Again, all I got was another "I'll schedule an appointment." :sigh: This is really frustrating.

I'm really at a loss of what more to do, because the ball has been in her court for several weeks now. This is my third attempt at some form of communication. If someone no longer wants me there, I'd rather be told up front than to continue in misery. Been there, done that, and it's not fun. In the back of my mind, my wishful thinking hopes this is just one big misunderstanding. However, as each day passes, the likelihood of this diminishes.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Special anniversary

Today is a special anniversary. It marks the1st anniversary of living in this, my house. It's hard to believe a year has passed. Here's a rundown of house-related things which my parents and I did:

  • Had 2 dead trees cut and ground (expensive!)
  • New mulch and ground cover in my front and side yards
  • Planted four trees (one died), flowers, and herbs for Clover (Basil recently died from frost. I'll get better at this with time)
  • Filled dirt in the "pit" area where an above ground pool once was from the previous owners
  • Someone ran into my fence. It does indeed turned out it was someone related to the neighbors up the road who took the car. They said the cousin who damaged the fence is in Mexico though.
  • Had to get AC fixed over the summer
  • Took down ugly, red curtains and replaced them with sheer light green and blue ones
  • Primed my room, getting it tinted blue
  • Repainted my upstairs bathroom a pretty lavender color
  • The hole where the unusable hot tub was from the previous owners was replaced with an actual platform, so that can be turned into a private deck
  • Added some flood lights in the backyard, front, and back parts of the house
  • Bought a top notch vacuum (ironically someone came yesterday to try to sell me a kirby, but I think I am going to stick to my miele, though I like the shampoo option on the kirby)
There's probably more, but that's what I can think of off the top of my head. There's still a lot more to be done, but this is at least a start. The nice thing is that there isn't a finite timeline. I have goals of when I want to have certain things done, mostly by priority, but the feeling is more of "when I can do it" type thing. This doesn't mean I let things go by the waste side, but it is nice NOT to pressure yourself to get it all done at one time and feel like a spazz,a non-accomplishing individual. Now, if I had gobs of money, that might be a different story, but that's just not my life at the moment. So you do with what you have, and when you can do better or more, you do so.

Good company

What a great Saturday! The short version: I met an online friend nearby. We had known each other for 14 years but never met until yesterday. I briefly spoke about her here. I got a chance to meet her three kitties and hubby. We had a lovely Indian dinner, and then on a whim drove up to the International Grocery I've been wanting to go to for months Therefore, I finally got my kimchi I've been craving and various other items I normally get at Asian grocery stores.

It was fabulous meeting L. who is also 5 1/2 months pregnant. She was just as I had imagined, and I was amazed at how much she remembered about me throughout the years. It was such a good win-win situation. I think she and her hubby enjoyed my company as well. I joked with her hubby that it amazed me how outgoing he was for a chemist type guy!

We agreed in maybe a month or two that we'd get together again, and this time I would host. I hope this will be the start of a good friendship locally as I've yet to meet many people to do things with here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Small pieces of recovery

This week's been tough--not only emotionally but also in that breakfast has been less substantial this week. Luckily, it did not throw me off too much as I did have good dinners (lunch is still a work in progress and is probably more like a snack than a real "lunch"). So here's how the story goes. I think I've said this before, but most mornings, my breakfast is oatmeal, a full banana most days (this used to only be a half), and peanut butter. When I am missing an ingredient, for whatever reason, my brain says, I cannot eat that then, and I need to find something else instead. Typically, this results in something less substantial like just a clif bar and/or granola bar.

This week, I ran out of peanut butter AND bananas. I kept telling myself I needed to go to the store and buy some. Well, everyday this week, something prevented me from going to the store. Since I am only able to go in the evenings after work, if it is too late, like after 7:30pm, I just wont go ( I know bizarre) On Monday and Tuesday, my neighbor was coming over to look at my propane heater and furnace. On Wednesday, Tovah had vomiting and projectile diarrhea. The day before, she and Daphne had a par-tay, ripping apart a bag of whole wheat flour! Whole wheat flour was all over the kitchen and their noses and paws claimed the evidence. A few of m FB friends say Clover implicated them. LOL Apparently, they both ate a lot of it-Tovah moreso. Both had some unforeseen problems, but Tovah's was way worse.

She woke me up in the middle of the night to potty. I was inches away from stepping in her vomit barefoot. (ewww gross!) This is a good reminder to always put on shoes before stepping into darkness. Then, when I got home on my lunch break, she had vomit all over her crate and awful projectile diarrhea outside (yes I know TMI). I promptly gave her meds which I think are finally helping.

Due to wanting to rush home to make sure she and her crate were okay, I did not get to the store. But finally tonight, I did, and I got my peanut butter and bananas and some other items I needed. All is well now for breakfast. :grin:

The funny thing was and why I am writing this post is that while I was at the store, I found myself a bit hungry. I knew I would eat dinner at home but wanted something to just tide me over--something sweet. I found myself going right to the sample cookies and taking two without even skipping a beat. I didn't think omigod how many calories and fat do each of these things have or how many miles would I have to run to burn this off or no dinner for me or how could I be so gluttonous or I must compensate tomorrow for eating these cookies.

Instead, I ate the cookies piece by piece, went along my merry way throughout the store, getting the rest of my items. I had no lingering thoughts about those cookies. This reminded me how such small happenings become markers of progress in recovery. It is important that we always celebrate the small victories, because none are ever too small.

Properly feeding guests

I know I am a little early about talking about the holidays, but we have to face that they are upon us soon. No no holiday music here yet, but already the Christmas decorations are out and stores are trying to figure out how to wrangle in cash-strapped shoppers (apparently Wal-Mart is jumping the gun with free shipping on online deals two weeks before Black Friday to compete with their adversary Amazon via NPR).

Besides all this, it means festivities and celebrations (usually with food included) will soon be here too. This brings me to today's Jezebel piece on how to properly feed your guests. Anna did a great job on giving a lot of different examples of food restrictions you might encounter as a host and tips to guests to help them deal with these social food gatherings, including a few by me for those in eating disorder recovery. Take a look, some good advice is given.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Feeling teary

I do not have much time to write, so I'm going to make this really brief.

A quick update: The coffee invitation fell through, and I never heard from her. I figured this would be the case, but I had hoped maybe she would act differently. There was no response whatsoever.

Yesterday, I walked in, casually asked how her weekend was, received a cold answer of "I worked all weekend." Then I said, "I really hope we can chat soon." She went on to give me a schedule she wanted me to follow for daycare for several days this week--fine. I reiterated what I had said adding in that "it would be good to clear the air. If I need to schedule an appointment with you, then fine." She said she would schedule something for later this week. And that was that.

How did I feel afterwards? Better? Well not really actually. It's more about how do I want to approach the situation. One parent offers advice in one way, another says something different.

I'm not sure what to do other than to make a list and feel prepared.

I've held back many tears but today I'm just feeling teary about the whole situation. It won't last but for today it is what it is--simply a sad, stressful situation with many things to consider.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Stress = face break out

It's true, stress does make my face break out, and I hate it. It wasn't great prior to leaving Atlanta (by fact my father pointed this out to me) but it wasn't horrible either. However, the culmination of stress over the last two weeks at work has made every single zit appear on my face it seems. So much so that no massive amount of cover up will diminish it! (damn hormones too!)

Throughout the last few days, I decided to extend an outreach invitation of talking things over via coffee. I'm still waiting that reply which in and of itself is anxiety-provoking. I'm honestly not sure what has happened the last month in a half or so, but it is unfair for either of us to continue on this way without some sort of explanation from both of us. I'm hopeful...and hopeful my zits will disappear too.

Disclaimer: Although work is the center of my life right now (which also tells me I need more of a life), I have decided to refrain from going into much detail after my last few posts about work.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tovah turned 2 today!

Tovah turned 2 today! Yes, I made it Halloween day. Actually, I tried pretty hard to figure out her birth date by the age I found her. It's hard to believe she is another year older now. There are so many possibilities for her. My current interest is seeing whether she could make it as a search and rescue dog. This takes a lot of time and practice, but I think she has the potential. There's also the fun new sports of Canine Nosework and Treibball which are becoming quickly popular or maybe animal assisted therapy. Unfortunately, I will not be able to go through Delta Society since they instilled a new policy that no raw food dogs could be therapy dogs this past summer. However, I did learn of a new group called HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response which seems like a wonderful organization.

I think in some ways, I feel like I missed out with Baxter in not doing more with him when he had the potential for so much. I waited--hoping to find the right people to help guide me who used the same philosophy, when I should have just done it.

I have more knowledge and contacts now and people who can help me, so I feel a little less afraid to venture out than I used to. I'll just have to see where we all end up.

For Tovah's birthday, she received a Kong Wubba which I have named Rosie the Rabbit or as my cousin says, "Wosie da Wabbit." As you can tell, she really liked it. Rosie now has one ear torn.

In case you have never read Tovah's story, she was an unexpected find. The first two weeks with me were full of happiness and heartache too. But in the end, some things do have happy endings.

Adventures from Atlanta

Anyone remember me? I just checked the last time I posted, and it was two weeks ago. It feels like an eternity! I got back from the dog conference late Monday evening and have been trying to recuperate and catch up the rest of the week.

Overall, the conference itself was fabulous. There was a total of 1286 registered attendees throughout the 5 days. The feedback has been great so far, and some feel like it was one of the best conferences in several years.
It helped in that we had some new, fun things for attendees to do like a Bingo game for the conference puppies (1st time conference attendees) with great prizes and held a silent and live auction, raising over $20K for the new foundation. Who would have ever thought dog trainers had that type of money?

So here's a rundown of the conference:

  • Met some amazing, new people and reconnected with old, wonderful friends
  • Another conference staff person gave me chocolate in my box on the last day. It warmed my heart and made me feel kind of special.
  • There was no bickering or arguing with any of the conference staff people. This seemed a great feat with 18 of us. Everyone got along well and helped one another out
  • Seminars were top notch as always
  • Off-site workshops went really well. The feedback has been great from attendees. This one is dear to my heart, because I put a lot of work and effort into organizing everything.
  • Trade show was awesome as usual. I bought some new toys for the dogs, a toy and harness for Clover, and some books
  • Drank a new drink--a blueberry dream. This was funny, because I told the cash bar guy that I did not know drinks well but wanted something sweet and with vodka. So, he made me a pretty drink he called a blueberry dream. It was very good--had a bit of pina colada taste
  • Well known dog trainers recognized me from the conferences. I received an invite from one to visit her and hugs from others. It felt slightly star struck.
  • Several people fell at one of the off-site locations on my watch on the same set of stairs. Ugh! One had an abrasion to her head which required us to call the paramedics to have her checked out, the other skinned her elbow and knee.
  • I had to scold one attendee for trying to handle a dog when she had only paid to be an observer. I must have told her like 5 times, and she just rolled her eyes at me. I was not thrilled by this. I relayed the story to the rest of the staff when I got back which somehow turned into a story that I nose punched someone! LOL We all joked about this one.
  • Sleep deprivation
  • The food! (see below)
  • My friend's car broke down (see below)
  • My parent's fed Clover dog food, not her pellets all week! I was aghast by this. Luckily, she did not die and there is no major effect, but she was rounder than when I left. I was really upset with my parents by this since I had specific written out instructions. I guess next time, I will have to pre-package her food like I did with the dogs.
I was amazed that there were hardly any vegetarian options at all. Seriously, this was downtown Atlanta! My dinner on the first night was a chef salad without the meat or cheese (they put it on anyway). The portion size was not even big enough for Clover! I felt worse for another staff person who was a strict vegetarian and had even less options available.

It wasn't until Friday that I had a "real" meal. And that was only because I insisted with the other staff people that we needed to order in or something. We had Chinese delivered. The last day, we went to a very good seafood restaurant a few blocks away from the hotel.

Though I did bring clif/luna bars, animal crackers, granola bars, etc., it really wasn't enough. A few people did notice, including my new Canadian friend who stuffed a few bananas in my box when I complained there were no bananas! She told me had she been at the hotel all that day, my box would have been completely full! She was also the one who gave me the chocolates on the last day which wound up being my lunch on Sunday.

This trip did result in some weight loss and GI issues. I've been trying to get myself back on track this week. Slowly, I'm getting there but my GI issues have remained. It's annoying how just a week of crappy/non-substantial eating messed up my system.

The other thing I still recognize is that my body perception is still distorted. I mentioned to a staff person how dog trainer A and B were so small and thin, and they'd chime in, saying I was included in that group. I truly don't know if I will ever truly feel differently about my body. It's a terrible conundrum to still think you are fat when logically you know you really are not.

The other big negative issue was that my friend's car broke down on our way back from Atlanta to my house. It was 1:30 AM, and her car started to rumble with an oil light appearing. We pulled over. She added oil, but the car would not start at all. Fortunately, my mom kept the premier AAA membership, so they came to tow us to a nearby hotel. We got into the hotel about 3:30 AM and were whipped.

The next day, we had them tow us to a repair place. After they looked at it, they said it was an engine problem and there were some other issues as well. The cost was $5100 to replace the it. My poor friend was in tears. She called her family, I called my dad, and we found some other options available.

By late afternoon, we were on the road to my house in a rental and got there late that evening. It was great that my friend got to meet my doggie crew, my bunny, and my mom. Even though this was quite an unpredictable adventure, I am truly glad I was with my friend when her car broke down. I just think how awful it would have been to be broken down on the side of the road, late at night, having to sit and wait for a tow truck all alone. I think in the end, she was thankful too.

So now, it is back to reality and catching up on everything. Next year, the conference will be in San Diego! Hopefully, I'll be able to attend as I'd love to visit there.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

One task crossed off

Today was pants shopping day. Surprisingly, I wasn't dreading it as much as I had anticipated. I went to a Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy outlet place that a friend had told me about. Overall, it was fairly nice. There was a good amount of decent clothes there that were cheap.

I perused the khaki pants aisle. After 2 1/2 hours and trying on at least 20 different pairs of khaki pants, nothing. Even the ones that were short or petite were not fitting correctly either. However, I did find a nice fitting pair of grey cargoish Gap pants which I think will work for the conference, a pair of Banana Republic jeans I liked, and another lightweight Banana Republic cargo pant. I also found a few V-neck sweaters as well, It was too bad I could not find a pair of Old Navy jeans in my size, because they were $2! Yes, you read that right.

The other cool thing was that I think we have a new client. Apparently, the cashier has 2 dogs who have some issues, so I gave her my card.

So all in all, it was an okay day. I'm relieved to have this done. Now, it's just getting everything else done. It's been confirmed that my parents will be visiting to take care of my animals and work on some house projects. This gives me peace of mind. And I surely need that after this week of last minute decisions and changes.

Thanks for everyone reading about my "whining" lately and the support given.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Less "funked" but still stressed

This week has been crazy and hectic. My emotions have been everywhere. Besides the funk I was in, the emotional roller coaster did not help. (hormones could have been at play here too) The biggest stressor has been finding someone to take care of my animals while I'm gone. Normally, I have this all planned in advance, but my plans fell through at the last minute. A. was originally going to take care of them, but with me being gone, the office assistant leaving (her last day is today), I did not want my own animals to be an extra burden.

The last three days I've racked my head through other people who I trust to take care of--neighbor will be gone, friend that has taken care of them before is too far away, office assistant starting a new job. So who steps up to the plate? My parents! There is a twinge of guilt as they are coming from a long distance. But at the same time, it sounds like they really want to. (they love my dogs and bunny!) Secretly, I think my mom uses this as an excuse to be able to help around here and finish projects that she began last August when she was here.

The other major stress has been the conference stuff. There have been changes, some mishaps, etc. I just pray that everything goes as smoothly as possible. This is the most ever workshops we have had, and I've done a considerable amount of the work. Thus, if it falls, it's on my head, or at least it feels that way.

The next several days I'll be doing last minute checklists, shopping, etc. I keep reminding myself that even though I am feeling stressed, anxious, etc. when I'm at the conference, I really do have a good time. The other big challenge at the conference will be eating well. Though I've done better the last few years, eating breakfast, having good dinners and desserts, I still have anxiety over it.

I'll try to post again before I leave.

Monday, October 11, 2010

In a funk

The last week I've been in a total funk.  Here are some of the reasons why I think I've felt this way:
  • My co-worker is leaving for a different job.  I spoke about her briefly here. The reasons were exactly what that post said--about benefits.  Her last day will be this Thursday.  I'm going to really miss seeing her at work.  We have become good friends and seem to think along the same wavelengths.
  • Work has been a bit dull lately.  Yes, I do enjoy watching dogs, but it isn't necessarily very challenging at times.
  • I've been stressed with my big conference looming around the corner--1 1/2 weeks away  I've been writing many work plans for the off-site workshops which has been both good and bad.  Good in the sense that I do feel like I've accomplished something, but bad in the sense that there have been many headaches along the way.  And I'm always worried that something is going to go completely wrong, I'll make someone upset, etc.
  • I still have not gone khaki pants shopping.  It'll have to be next weekend with my other #$^%#% things I need to do before the conference.
The next question is what can I do to bring myself out of this funk?  Beyond the logical things of continuing to eat well/not skimping on meals and getting enough rest, what I really want to say is that I  need to will myself out of this.  But truly I know you just can't will yourself out of certain moods. It isn't a snap of two fingers, and poof it disappears.  What I can do, however, is to keep vigilant as stress is a trigger for loss of appetite and sleep.  And probably one of the most important things is remind myself that I can only control and handle what is within my grasp, not what is in everyone else's.s.  

On a side note, you can view more photos from WEG here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fabulous weekend

I'm way too tired to write a full report, but I had an absolute fabulous weekend. I figured this was such a good way to celebrate my Americaversary that was this past Tuesday. I wasn't able to do anything special for it, but going to the World Equestrian Games was such a delight. Though I didn't have any event tickets, just being on the grounds was quite an experience. There was tons to look through and see. Some of the exhibits were very nicely done. And by chance, we sat in on a lecture about dogs and their great nose ability. I spoke with the speaker afterwards, and apparently, she is a certified FEMA search and rescue disaster relief handler. We got to talking, and she has invited me to come check out their training runs when they are in my area. I'm very excited about this.

In the meantime, here are some pictures from WEG:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Shopping revisited

In less than a month, I'm going to my annual dog conference. For those of you who have been following my blog for awhile, this is a conference I've gone to for the past six of seven years. The conference tends to have1000+ people come from all over the world and have world class speakers in the field of dog training, education, and veterinary practice. Over the years I've begun to come out of my shell and have established myself as an important member of the conference staff. Last year was what I call "my break out" year. And this year I had the big task of writing work plans for the off-site workshops--8 total, I'm writing 6 of them It's been exciting being in collaboration with some well known speakers. I still get starstruck at times. There is still a lot of work to do as we have run into snafus, but it'll all get done.

This year the conference is in Hotlanta (Atlanta), though in October, it shouldn't be too hoot. I've been informed that our uniform has been changed. We are no longer allowed to wear jeans but rather khakis or something similar. I think this was mostly due to the fact that the board of directors felt like we as "staff" should stand out more. So, this means I do actually have to go shopping again. I have two pair of wearable khakis (one is a very nice pair so do not want to take with me). I realized one pair I got last time had a big pen mark on the butt. I have no clue how I missed this-this was a thrift store buy so returning it is not an option.

Several months ago, I talked about the lost causes of shopping. At the time, I had to shop for some khaki pants at work. Several of my fabulous readers gave me great comments in the next post where I recapped my shopping adventures. This attire policy has since been revoked, and I now get to wear jeans every day along with my beige logo polo shirts. This suits me fine, honestly, because though khaki pants are okay, with dogs, it just equates to mess, dirt, and a lot of hair. An example--we have a Siberian Husky/Border Collie cross who sheds an entire small dog when she is at daycare. I'd post a pic of her, but that photo is not on this computer. She has the coolest looking eyes I have ever seen on a dog--literally one eye is half blue, half brown top to bottom; while the other eye is exactly opposite.

Anyway, so I have to gear myself up once again to go shopping. You'd think that after my last shopping excursion, I'd feel good about this. But really I'm still not feeling totally comfortable enough in my body to just go out and shop. It seems to take planning, deliberation, and a lot of patience. And there are a million and one things I'd rather be doing/have to do than planning a shopping trip. We have events and many classes going on at work, need to get my hair cut, many things to do with the house, yard, etc. Btw, did I mention my tadpoles have still not grown? I had to add more water (had to dechlorinate it) since we have had sparse rain here. Therefore, I can't clean out the pond yet.

So I don't know if the issue is really just a time factor/don't want to deal with it issue or more of a body image one. The latter seems to surface more when I am faced with shopping or dressing for something out of the ordinary, etc. I know I would feel a little better if I was just moving more, but I've turned that into a when do I really find the time excuse issue. That brings up another set of thoughts as well reserved for a a post for another day.

I guess I'm just looking for some rah rah rahs for shopping and encouragement. As we say in dog training, it is often times harder to change the emotion than just the behavior.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ok Go video

In case you have not seen this dog video yet, it is great. This video is impressive in that it was shot on one take with no editing. But more than that, it wasn't about perfection, but more that these dogs were having fun, something we all need to do.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dating and eating disorders-Jezebel

In case you missed it (came out yesterday), Anna North of Jezebel recently wrote an article on the delicate balance of dating and mental illness which included the wonderful Carrie and me. I think the article was well done, and by the number of views and comments, there were many people who could relate.

Dating while with an eating disorder or recovering from one is tough. The ED is so isolating that you kind of forget about other people all together. The ED is more your companion than anything. To add someone else in the mix, stirs up a variety of issues that may or may not have been present.

There is a constant myriad of messages to overcome, including the most powerful one--yours (or ED if you believe it is more of a separate voice). All the ingrained thoughts of feeling unlovable, damaged/flawed, broken, unworthy, not good enough, and more are difficult to overcome. Dating won't necessarily solve them, but it might help lessen the harshness, offering a glimmer of hope.

Here's what I have to say about dating while in recovery:

"I'd tell someone that you have to put yourself out there, even when your mind is telling you otherwise--that you are not lovable, not attractive, all those negative thoughts that cab harbors the ED. If you never do or are too fearful, you will never know what is out there.

I'd also say that to try to find a balance between feeling comfortable but also challenging yourself too. Dating is certainly not easy, but it can be fun. It's especially easier when you are not physically starved and can think more clearly. Then, you can truly reap the experience and feel the 'emotions' of it all."

Just like your ED, dating takes time. It likely won't happen overnight, but I do think it can happen for many of us, even to those who feel they may never find anyone. Keep trying. (I've definitely had to tell this to myself several times) Like denim jeans, sometimes, we have to try many before finding the right fit.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Reminders of recovery

I'm super busy this week with working on a powerpoint for work, conference calls, and working on a big project for October, so though I have posts I really want to write, they are going to have to wait until the end of the weekend.

In the meantime, here are some cool photos I took recently that reminded me of recovery:

I happened to see these yesterday afternoon on my three-quarter eaten curly parsley plant for Clover. I originally thought they were some kind of worm, but from a quick google image search, I learned they were Black Swallowtail caterpillars. As we all know with caterpillars, they eventually metamorphose into beautiful butterflies.

I think recovery can be looked at like the life cycle of a butterfly. ( ) is my interpretation of ED recovery. Butterflies start with an egg (idea of recovery forms) In the larva stage, they are caterpillars where they eat to grow (re-feeding/weight gain) The third stage is the Chrysalis or pupa stage. This is when the caterpillar has reached its full weight/length and forms a pupa (cocoon structure) It may look like nothing is going on, but amazing transformations are taking place inside. Tissues, limbs, and organs are becoming developed for the butterfly (ED processing, change of thoughts, ideas, and actions) In the fourth and final stage, beautiful adult butterflies emerge. The butterflies shed their cocoon substance and have soft, folded wings which they must learn to fly with in order to survive and mate. (testing the waters of recovery, may be a slow process, learn to apply knowledge we have learned)

In this last stage, we learn, rediscover, and break free from the ED. We emerge more aware, more understanding, and in a healthier state of body and mind. Just like the life cycle of a butterfly continues on and on, sometimes our recovery is too. It may take more than one life cycle of a butterfly for us to finally turn into that butterfly of recovery.

Recovery is also like a tunnel. It is long and can be windy. We may feel like we are stuck in one particular spot forever, but in reality, there is always an end, an opening, a light at the end of the tunnel. At times, it is only that light that reminds us of the goal, keeps us in perspective when all feels lost or we are frustrated. Therefore, if we continue through the tunnel, we can eventually find our way out.

Note--*Caterpillar pictures were taken at night! I was quite impressed with myself!