Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays!

I know it has been forever since I have written, and I promise, I'll write an update on things going on in Tiptoe's life. It's been rather busy in a positive way.

But I want to take a moment and wish all of you a Happy Holiday! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or anything else, I hope you have a wonderful holiday! I know holidays are not easy for everyone, but I hope you can rest aside your demons, treat yourself well, and simply enjoy the day.

As always, here are a few holiday photos from my crew. I'm still working on the photo of Clover with her Santa hat.



Saturday, November 12, 2011

SAR trip

Some of you may have wondered how my first Search and Rescue seminar went last weekend. Overall, it went really really well. Part of my fears were re-evaluated, others did come true. But in the end, I was able to handle them all.

First, the good: Tovah did great! For the last several weeks, I had forgone working on what we call an "indication" with her - the alert that tells the handler, "yes, there is something here." Instead, I had done some other exercises to up her enthusiasm. When I came into this seminar, my criteria for her was just to find the cadaver odor. Well, she not only found it, but she indicated too. I was both surprised and thrilled.

This is a scent box. A scent, whatever it may be, cadaver, a drug, etc. will be placed in it. The dog smells it, and then when indicating correctly, a ball is thrown into the tube. Dogs who are very ball-driven love this! 

Tovah likes balls but prefers food. But when it is novel, she goes for the ball immediately.

She had a little trouble with some scenarios, but that is mostly the workings of a beginner. The scenarios where she had to indicate were: 2 hidden cadaver odors on trails, the perimeter of an empty cabin, inside the empty cabin, and discriminate the correct birdhouse (of 5) with the cadaver scent. We did this both on Saturday and Sunday, and Sunday, she was even better. I was truly excited for her.

My fear that she was "not good" enough was pre-emptive. Sometimes, I have this impression that my dog must be "intense" as many I see, but as one attendee with a dual certified dog in both HRD (human remains detection) and live-find (meaning finding a live person) said, "You don't need an intense dog, just a dog who will get the job done." Those were great words for me to hear.

On Saturday night, we had a mock night search. Basically, we split up into 7 teams. Then, we had certain locations that we were to search in. Some of us were searching for "evidence," while others were looking for missing persons. My team was looking for "evidence." The people organizing the seminar, they actually go and plant the "evidence" and the missing persons, aka mannequins. I was so happy for myself in finding an empty milk dud container that could have been evidence. A teammate found the "gun" which was the major item we were supposed to find. The other teams found most of what they were supposed to as well. It is a bit strange, because although this seminar was at a state park, why in the heck would some people be walking around on the trails at night when it is pitch dark with no lights! One team also spotted Abraham Lincoln! I later learned from some of my other teammates that sometimes the searches had to be called off. The most recent, a few years ago, was some campers who had a meth lab going. Eeek!

Now, the fear that did come true was the food situation. I knew it was going to be dining hall style meals, but they did not expect any who were vegetarian. (I do eat fish, but there were none) The cooks just happen to overhear me talking to another person how I was vegetarian, so he pulled me aside and showed me what they had. Yep, you guessed it, salad. Not that I mind that so much, but the salad was the bagged pre-made mostly iceberg lettuce type. I think the only other thing to be added to it was tomatoes. I do not call myself a food snob per se, but if I have a salad to eat, it is with nutritious foods--no iceberg lettuce for me! also, I almost always add some protein source--fish, a veggie burger, tofu, etc.

I had two options: either fret and not eat or make do with what I had. I chose the latter. Plus, I would have felt guilty since the people were so kind to me. They wanted to make sure I had something to eat. They basically gave me special treatment in saying anytime I wanted to come into the kitchen I could. This is not to say that there were other items that were inedible, there were just no real protein sources for me at dinner time. I made do though and joked with the others at the table that it was good I was not afraid of carbs. LOL

Other than that, and the fact the cabins were a little more rustic than I thought, and I stepped in poop on Saturday night, this first seminar experience went well. I feel a little more confident in my and my dog's abilities and hope to continue on with SAR work. The next big seminar I have my eye on is one at Western Carolina University specifically for HRD dogs. It is in early March with the registration opening on January 11 at 1pm EST. I only put these specifics in, because there are a limited number of handlers (30 I think), and the one for last weekend, sold out in 9 minutes! Whoa! Gosh, I have absolutely no clue what I will be doing on that day, but I certainly hope to be at my computer, waiting to hit the register button. I should also say the reason why this workshop is so coveted is 1) it is geared strictly to HRD dogs and 2) your dog gets a chance to be exposed to full dead bodies at FOREST aka the "body farm." You just don't get that everyday.

A few other photos:

Tovah going through the tunnel. The agility equipment set up was nice for dogs to blow off steam.


Tovah on A-frame
We had a surprise visit from St. Mary's life force team in their helicopter. Tovah got a chance to go in one. 
View near our cabins. This was taken in the early morning when the sun had just come up.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

First Search and Rescue seminar preparation

Tomorrow, Tovah and I are leaving for our first Search and Rescue seminar. I am STOKED but also incredibly nervous. We will be meeting up with another SAR dog person (I met her a few months ago at one of our group training sessions, and we really hit it off - she owns a small daycare and boarding kennel) and following each other to the camp site.

Since she has been there before, she has given me some idea of what to expect. This is good for me, because I get really nervous at these kinds of settings, partly for dog reasons, partly for me reasons.

The dog reasons:

  • I get worried that my dog will do horribly, and that the instructor will say she is not fit to do this work. 
  • I get worried that she will not behave that well (really she is pretty good except meeting new dogs on leash - hence partly why I haven't done the CGC test with her). 

I know this really small potatoes, but there is still an element of wanting to excel there, especially as a dog trainer and being around such knowledgeable, trained people and dogs.

As for the me reasons:

  • I have no idea what food is there other than I've been told, they feed you really well. 
  • I have no idea of the conditions of the cabin. I just know I need to bring my own bedding. I think everything else is furnished, but I just worry anyway. 
  • Though I'm really excited about the mock night trial (no dogs, just handlers), I feel unprepared. I know I have some stuff for "survival" if needed but not all of it. Some of that stuff is expensive! I've been told there is a time limit of 4 hours to find the victim. Apparently, one year it took the entire 4 hours, but last year it only took like 10 minutes. 

I know some people would relate this similar to the large conference I was at in San Diego. The difference with this one is that I'm really going in blindly. At least with the conference, there was predictability. Certainly, I have gotten better with this over time, but still, it does cause some anxiety.

And then, there is my car. Yesterday, my car overheated. Luckily, I was only 0.5 mile from my house at a stoplight when all the sudden I see steam from my car. Then, I look at my thermostat on "H." I made it home, shut off the car, got stuff out of my car, called a repair shop, and then called AAA to tow my car there. (By the way, if you don't have AAA, it is worth getting. There is no cost if you have to be towed, and you can have multiple people on the policy) The strange thing is that I didn't have any indication from my car, other than a slightly unpleasant smell which I did not think anything of. I had this happen before when I was 16 and blew the transmission out I believe, so I was expecting some kind of similar sign but did not notice anything.

The car repair place called this morning and said it was a radiator problem.  The good news is that it is an easy repair and the car will be fixed today.  The bad news is that it is more costly than I'd like.  However, I know it could have been worse.  In the back of my mind, I almost though this was some sort of weird sign telling me I shouldn't go. I also learned one of the main roads to get to the camp site is closed until early December.  I'm hoping the GPS reroutes me well and doesn't take me through some small windy roads.

This is certainly an adventure.  I'm hoping to learn a lot, make some new contacts, and simply have fun.  Oh yes, and there is a helicopter landing!  I'll give an update when I get back.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Unlabel me

I don't have a huge amount of time right now - really need to be doing other computer things, but I wanted to post this photo. (It's been sitting in my draft folder for a week now)  I was reminded of it when I recently read a post by another dog trainer talking about how some of her friends called her the "Dog Whisperer."  I have also been named this at times as well.  None of this would be so bad other than this trainer and myself, well, we just don't align with the modern day Dog Whisperer techniques (Paul Owens was actually the original dog whisperer, titling a book the same name back in 1999. His book offered dog training guidance in compassionate, non-violent methods)  Although the people who "label" us this do not mean any offense by it, but rather, they are actually trying to give a compliment of sorts.

So labels, do they give importance? What are the values in them? I can see both sides of the argument on this, but for the purpose of this blog on eating disorder recovery, labels do have a tendency to narrow you into one definition. Anyone who has dealt with insurance certainly knows this.

In recovery, I think a lot of us try to shed the label of whatever eating disorder you may have had. We find we are much for than a definition, and we actually begin to value ourselves as such. We find that we want others to see us differently - as a person with a lot more qualities than how we appeared when suffering.

In thinking this, what labels do you want to shed? Is it only the ED one or are there are others as well? It's good food for thought. :-)

Celebrating both a Halloween and a Birthday

Well, Halloween wasn't really that exciting. I had all of 4 trick or treaters. Last year, I had more, so I'm not sure what happened. I guess it is probably not helpful that my outdoor light by the front door does not work. One girl who came by lives catty-corner to me. As I gave her her candy, she excitedly told me how they have a new dog....again. In the two years I have been here, they have had at lest 4 dogs. The running trend is that they either realize the dog is too hyper for them, the dog gets run over by a car, or they just don't want that particular dog due to not being trained. I keep wondering what life lesson this actually teaches the little girl in the long run.

Anyway, something I've learned or rather at least gotten past is my fear of having too much candy around. In years past at Halloween, I'd make sure to pick candy I did not like. That way, I could either give it to people or throw it away. I was too afraid of my eating disorder tendencies. Just the fact of it being there used to worry me immensely. Now, however, I actually choose candy that I like and will eat. I've learned that eating a piece of candy or two is truly okay. And gasp, there are times I kind of crave it. However, I do know my limit too, meaning if my body has too much sugar in any form, I tend to get major gastrointestinal upset. And that is definitely not fun.

Though I'm posting this a bit late, this photo was passed around facebook recently, at least among the dog community. It was one of the better decorations out there.

On another note, today was also Tovah's birthday. She turned a whole 3 years old. It's really hard to believe that much time has passed. Here was my facebook status for today:

Dearest Tovah,
Today, you turn 3 years old! You came into my life on a mere run - having almost passed you. But yet, because you had such a wonderful temperament, I wound up keeping you. It was one of the best decisions I made. I could not imagine my life without you. You have turned into a wonderful and beautiful dog. Happy Birthday, Little One.
Love, your mo

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Leaps of faith

We've often talked about the whole analogy about taking a leap of faith and never have I felt this as much as I do now. There's no doubt that I've had my share of big changes in my life. Some are incredibly common like college, sports, living on my own, moving, etc. Some of the ones that are not as common would be: adoption and taking a leave of absence from college. However, now, I have a big change again. One that I think will be for the better, but one that I don't think I ever imagined either. Basically, it is venturing out on my own, becoming confident in my abilities, having something I can call my "own," and all getting paid for it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

San Diego conference

I meant to post while I was in San Diego, but I was very busy the entire time I was at the conference. When I hit San Diego, I was off and running. You learn quickly that when you have 1000+ people at a conference, there is a lot of set up involved.

The conference staff comprised of 18 people who worked very hard the entire time we were there. I was literally running back and forth from one side of the resort to the other. I seemed to do this everyday too! This was not helpful for my pants who did fit but were weighted down by a walkie talkie I had to wear.

Overall, it was a fabulous conference! I was especially thrilled with how the workshops went since I put a lot of work and effort into setting them up. In the end, the speakers and attendees were happy. They all learned some helpful information to take back with them.

I have to admit I probably only sat through one or two full presentations, but to me, it seemed okay. I know I'll get the cd in several months, so maybe this will be a good incentive for me to listen to it. LOL

There were only a few political issues that went on--way too much to post here. Basically, things should have been handled a little differently, and in the end, I was really disappointed in how some people behaved. Despite the fact that our organization strives for using positive reinforcement techniques, it is too bad that some people cannot implement this to their fellow colleagues. I've since learned that some of the most positive trainers can be so negative towards other people.

Anyway, remember I told you about the guests I brought with me on this trip. Well, here's our Flat Kennel Club with Clover as an honorary member. LOL

The Border Collies won Best in Show with the Rottie, Bo, coming in second. In total, we raised $295.15 for the San Diego Animal Services. It was a good start for the first year. Next year, we are opening it to anyone attending the conference and having people pay for an entry, like in a real dog show.

We also took all the attendees to Mission Beach which was received well. This dog named Jack from Leash Your Fitness did a brief surfing demo. He was such a ham!

He also found the clams quite interesting as you can see here and below.

I also got a chance to meet up with my mom's husband's son's spouse. I had seen pictures of her before, but she was beautiful to see in person. She reminds me of one of those Asian super stars. We went to a nice Korean BBq place and chatted a good bit about her dog who has some issues. I figured since it is family, I can give out free advice, though I have learned from the past, they are often the most difficult to actually believe and do what you say.

On the last day of the conference, my friend and I took photos of us by the Lionhead Fountain. We joked that if you said to someone, "I'm by the fountain" or "I'm by these flowers," you'd have to ask which one? There were an abundance of fountains and flowers--roses, impatiens, and many others all over the resort.

Lastly, I think one of the best things about the conference was that I had very little food or exercise issues. There were times when breakfast was a bit skimpy due to time and no concierge lounge like last year, but I always had a decent dinner. (lunch could be iffy at times) I had some great desserts while there, and even had two desserts one evening! I think a lot of the exercise issues waned simply because I was moving around while I was there so much. One person told me afterwards that she lost a few pounds while there from all the walking we did.

Next year, the conference will be very close to me. I'm stoked on getting things together for it. I'm hopeful that some of my local dog trainer friends and enthusiasts will attend, if not for anything else, but the trade show! 

I'll end this post with a pretty picture of the San Diego sunset at Mission Beach.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A few guests accompanying me on this trip

I'm currently finishing up packing for my trip. Actually, I was so proud of myself for being a day ahead of schedule, and then the dreaded feeling of I need to clean came upon me. Therefore, my packing got delayed by an hour in a half.  It's about done, just last minute items to place.

Though I'm already really tired from this week being busy, I'm hoping pure adrenaline will keep me going this week.  I'm really looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones.  I'm also looking forward to our new "Flat Pet" contest.  A number of us are bringing our do it yourself flat pets.  I'm bringing 5 flat pets, well, Clover twice.

I may do one of Hank as well.  I ran out of time but brought my flash drive with me, so if I have time, I'll do his as well.  It's kind of cool to bring your own flat pet with you.  It's like being able to take them anywhere.  

The next time I write, I'll be in sunny San Diego!!

Falling off the bandwagon

Before anyone gasps at the title or starts to worry about me, it is not me that fell off the bandwagon. Rather, it is my neighbor. I found this out last night when she asked if I had a minute to speak to her. Earlier in the week, she had called me apologizing about the other night and said if I wanted to talk to give her a call. I didn't call back the next day, so she took it as I was pissed at her and left my book Drinking I had let her borrow in my mail box. I figured she thought we were on bad terms and did not want to "owe" me anything.  Do you notice other people do this as well--it's like having no reminder of you.

Anyway, I was incredibly busy this week and was going to leave a note in her mailbox before I left, saying I was not angry with her, that I had found the dogs an alternative, and she need not worry. Yes, this was partly a little avoidance on my part, but truly, I was in and out all week.

Yesterday, after I finished mowing, she asked if I had a minute to talk with her. She apologized and confessed that she had fallen off the bandwagon and begun drinking again. Part of the reason why she never acknowledged me the night of our disagreement was that she did not want me to smell alcohol on her breath.  Obviously, it was no excuse for what she said or how she behaved, but it did at least give a partial reason. There are some other things going on in her life as well, and I think she feels very overwhelmed. I suggested she see an individual therapist besides just going to AA groups. She agreed, so I hope she will do that.

Interestingly enough, in one sentence she tells me how hard it is for her to come over 3x/day to take care of my pets, how she does not have an everyday schedule, but in the same breath, she says how she could take care of them this week, and how she doesn't break commitments.  Huh? I told her everything had been arranged and not to worry about it.

We ended the conversation with me telling her that this tiff we had was not ending our friendship which made her feel a lot better.  I really do think she would have been really sad if it had.

When I think about this entire scenario, it reminds of me of my former roommate who was an alcoholic.  With her, (and I do not suggest to other people to do this), but I took her on like a project.  Somehow, I thought I could help/save her.  I should also add  here I had enough of my problems at this time as well, but this was a bit of a distraction I suppose. 

Truly, the only thing I did was give an on outlet for stress and added some kind of structure to her life.  In the end, it did pay off.  My roommate got herself on track and has been doing well since.  I don't know if my neighbor falls into the same category as alike as  these two individuals are.  Her dynamics are different--there are 3 older boys and her husband.  Sometimes, I wonder if I am falling into the same situation as before.  I certainly try not to be my neighbor's therapist or anything (in fact, she thinks I'm bossy at times anyway), but I do try to suggest things or at least give a different point of view or be a source of support.  Surprisingly, she does remember more than I have given her different for--her long term memory is there but her short term is lacking.

Anyway, I think this is a good reminder for me to realize my boundaries.  It is not easy as there is always a yearning to help someone in need, but at the same time, you have to be careful with yourself too.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

3 days until San Diego!

There is good news: I found places for both my dogs and Clover. The dogs will be going to a new boarding facility--one that has similar training, health, feeding, and vaccination policies. Yay! Though it is a reasonable/lowest charge for boarding I've seen in awhile, it is still a good chunk of money.

Typically, I do not go to a place sight-unseen, but I'm going by my good dog training friend's word. She's been there before and taken classes. This place is a little different in that it is in-home boarding on 8 acres. They will have time to play with other dogs, so I think they will enjoy it.

Clover will be visiting her foster mom, Rachel where there are currently 6 foster kittens. I'm interested to see how Clover does, interacting with different species than dogs again. I just hope she is a good girl. ;-)

So overall, things have come together, and I think everyone is in the best place they can be. The other good news is that my car is all fixed and received an oil change. I had a trunk lock issue problem for awhile and had been procrastinating getting it fixed. Well, I could not lock it yesterday and feared that traveling with the dogs, the door would blow open and the dogs might go ker-plunk onto the highway pavement. Yikes ,not pretty image. Luckily, it was not a hard fix--just a good cleaning.

The week in general has been busy, but I don't feel quite as procrastinated as I usually do. My goal is to have everything done on Thursday or at least Friday morning at the latest. I know I am not going to get every single thing I had planned, but some it is just going to have to wait until I get back.

Oh, one fun thing I'm going to try to do before the conference is make my own flat pets! There are a number of us that are going to do this and display them at the conference. We will be holding a contest as well. It should be great fun!

I'll likely post one last time before heading out to sunny San Diego.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My stress-o-meter just went up

So, as in my last post, I said how I was busy and overwhelmed. Check, still am. However, now, that stress-o-meter went up a notch. I thought I had everything set for who was going to take care of my dogs and Clover while I was gone. Both my neighbors agreed to help out. Well, one of my neighbors cancelled on me. This is the same neighbor whom I had been reminding for months about it, suggested that she needed to write it down, so she would remember the dates, etc. She agreed and said she could, and told me to remind her.

When I called today, she said "I need to take care of myself, my family, and my God." She went on to explain that she has learned that she is too trusting, too gullible, needs to start saying no, how she has realized some people do not have her best interest at heart, how some people are manipulative, etc. Now, I know she was not addressing this personally to me, but damn, it sure felt like it for some reason.

I understand having a lot on your plate (trying to recover from alcoholism, having lung surgery at the end of the month), no doubt, but couldn't she have decided this like a month ago? There were some hurtful things said, and though neither or us want enemies (that seems like a strong word here), I've pretty much learned that I cannot depend on this neighbor anymore at all. It's an awful feeling, because I really wanted to have some neighbors that I could depend on or at least have a nice relationship of looking out for one another. I guess in the end, everything winds up about money, or at least that is a component somewhere even if no one admits it.

Sometimes, this is the time when I wish I was married or had a significant other. That way, I wouldn't have to worry about my animals being in someone else's care while I was gone. I know what my options are: pet sitter or boarding--just don't know whether either will work out for different reasons. But I have to make something work in the end.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Busy...but overwhelmed

Just want to say that things have been crazy busy here. I leave for my big dog conference a week from Saturday I'm excited to go, but in the meantime, stress is really building on me.  This year, my role has been upgraded, so I feel a little more pressure to ensure things run smoothly. 

I had manged things pretty well dealing with stress up until now, and it is like this week everything fell into the category of "overwhelm."  

I'm trying to get a lot done before I leave for the conference which includes:
  • Dog food preparation.  I have to order enough food, then prepare it all in pre-packaged meals for my neighbors to easily feed.  If this was kibble, it would be easy, but it is raw food/veggies/fruits.
  • Bunny food preparation.  I find doing the same thing with the bunny as the dogs is the easiest thing for my neighbors--this means ziploc bags of her veggies and pellets.
  • Car oil change--luckily, I have a $20 coupon
  • Lots of work-related things.  I'll put it this way.  When you are starting from scratch, it can be a bit difficult.  Not that I haven't gotten a lot done, but there is always more to do.
  • Dog vet appointment.  I will begrudgingly have to get a Vaccine for Tovah.  It goes against my ethics, but at the same time, it is the only way I can take her to a nearby SAR seminar in November.
  • Time to exercise.  Seriously this has been majorly lacking the last 1 1/2 weeks.  I took a run with the group last night and ran a week prior to that, but only short walks in between.
  • Finishing up work for the big dog conference.
  • Considering picking up a few bartending shifts at the Zoo next week.   This makes it really hairy since they are all mid-week towards the end but really need the additional money.
  • Buy food/snacks to take with me on my trip.  
  • Figure out my insurance bill.  For whatever reason, my physical therapist put in two different diagnoses for several of my appointment, thus resulting in being billed for 2 appointments rather than one.  How frustrating!
I know the best thing for me to do is just to breathe, organize, and cross things off one at a time.  So easy to say, so hard to do sometimes.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

1st bartending gig

Yesterday, I had my first bartending gig. The day before, we had a walk-thru of what was going to happen, and many of us felt nervous as this was our first event.  Some of us felt like we were being thrown to the wolves! 

The event itself was the big annual fundraiser for the zoo.  Tickets were not cheap, ranging in price from $200-$3000.  However, 2250 people were willing to pay the price for this big gala event.  There were some big name sponsors plus around 75 restaurants, offering samples of their food. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to taste any of them which was so disappointing.  Some chefs near us said we should just sneak off somewhere and eat their food.  Instead, we were given pizza and soda before our shift.  Neither are my favorite to eat, but this was my only option for the next 8 hours.  

At the beginning of our shift, it was pretty slow.  We were all just standing around, waiting for people to show up.  The people at my station were just as nervous as me.  We had all gone to the bartending school with the exception of 1 person.  I think all of us had reviewed our recipe cards the night before, afraid we'd be asked some obscure drink to make.  Luckily, this was not the case at all--it was mostly cocktails and easy highballs drinks--gin and tonic, vodka and cranberry (Cape Codder), rum and coke, etc.  The entire night, I made only 2 whiskey sours and 1 margarita.  A few people wanted Cosmos, but we weren't carrying all the ingredients for that drink.

Once we were busy, it was jammin' in there, and the time went by quickly.  By the end of the night, there were more than a few people wasted (I think one guy asked me for at least 4 screwdrivers-vodka and orange juice), but all looked like they had a good time.  Though no one was required to tip, we still had people who did which was nice.  The bad part is that we have to split the tips, so overall with at least 20-30 of us, it won't be a lot.  

All in all, I was pretty pleased with how everything went.  It is too bad, because we (the bartenders) have been asked if we can do additional events for various picnics, parties, etc., but unfortunately, right now is about the worst time possible as I'm busy with a lot of other things.  Otherwise, I'd be jumping on these opportunities.  I will probably still do the ones I can, but still, it's like "where were you 2-3 months ago?" 

Anyway, I think it was a good experience for me.  I did however realize that I suck at uncorking wine bottles, so I was quite thankful for the guy beside who could do this well and promptly.  So, those are the details of my first bartending gig.  Once I got home--around 1:30am, I went straight to bed.  I was hopeful to sleep in, but alas, that did not happen.  I think the rest of the day is going to be a bit on the lazy side--chores around the house, catching up on some documentation work, etc.

Hope everyone has a good weekend!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Teeth issues don't go away

Yesterday's dental appointment wound up disasterous. First, I was 20 minutes late, having gotten lost going a different way or a way that I thought was the right way. By the time, I arrived, I figured I would have to reschedule. But they allowed me to have my dental cleaning since the person who was after me never confirmed her appt.

This appt. was a basic cleaning-no big deal, right?  At the end of my appt., the hygienist said there was a shadow on one of my upper teeth.  She went ahead and did an x-ray.  When the dentist came in, it was confirmed a large cavity.  Then, I had the dentist look at this one place on my upper gum line that has been irritated for months.  When I last asked about this, she said she did not see anything but some trauma.

Well, a new x-ray showed a massive infection there.  Ugh!  I knew something was not right there.  Several weeks ago, I even had a few blood-like blisters.  So the treatment is either a root canal to save the tooth or remove the tooth.  If I remove the tooth, there would be no teeth left on my left upper side which seems like a horrible option.  But then, if I go with the root canal and crown option, I will max out my dental benefits for the year and would owe about $1,000.  Apparently, they can make it slightly cheaper for me by only doing part of the crown, then waiting until after the first of the year to do the rest.  

To be honest, neither option sounds great.  I know in my last post about my dental problems, I sounded pretty good and tried to make a point for others not to follow in my footsteps.  But yesterday and today, I just feel upset about it.  It's like my teeth issues will never get better and will likely just go with me to my grave.  I know that sounds so morbid, but I just feel like I never get  a break.  I've put off some of the major procedures simply because they are too financially costly--think at least 3 implants and  new bridge.  

There is something else with all of this that runs in the back of my mind.  If my teeth are this bad as a major consequence of purging, imagine if I'd been a multiple-a-day purger.  My guess is that I wouldn't have any teeth left at all.  

For now, I'm on antibiotics for the infection and will go back to he dentist in a few weeks for the root canal.  In some ways, I feel like not saving this tooth, but I hate feeling toothless too.  Argh, what a horrible conundrum!  I hope others do not face my plight!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The "In-Between State"

I do not know if you are familiar with Pema Chodron, a well known Buddhist nun.  She's written a number of books about meditation and applying it to your everyday life.  This passage from her book, The Places that Scare You.  If you have not read it, please do so. 

I read it a number of years ago and found it very helpful.  I actually remember this passage well about the "In-between state."  I think there are a lot of us that struggle with this in recovery.  As I like to say with anything I read, people I hear, etc., there is always something to learn from them all--take what you want and leave the rest.

We are told about the pain of chasing after pleasure and the futility of running from pain. We hear also about the joy of awakening, of realizing our interconnectedness, of trusting the openness of our hearts and minds. But we aren't told all that much about this state of being in-between, no longer able to get our old comfort from the outside but not yet dwelling in a continual sense of equanimity and warmth.
Anxiety, heartbreak, and tenderness mark the in-between state. It's the kind of place we usually want to avoid. The challenge is to stay in the middle rather than buy into struggle and complaint. The challenge is to let it soften us rather than make us more rigid and afraid. Becoming intimate with the queasy feeling of being in the middle of nowhere only makes our hearts more tender. When we are brave enough to stay in the middle, compassion arises spontaneously. By not knowing, not hoping to know, and not acting like we know what's happening, we begin to access our inner strength. 
Yet, it seems reasonable to want some kind of relief. If we can make the situation right or wrong, if we can pin it down in any way, then we are on familiar ground. But something has shaken up our habitual patterns and frequently they no longer work. Staying with volatile energy gradually becomes more comfortable than acting out or repressing it. This open-ended tender place is called bodhichitta. Staying with it is what heals. It allows us to let go of our self-importance. It's how the warrior learns to love.

Showers and flowers

I was thinking today of the quote, "when it rains, it pours." Most people seem to say this when bad things happen.  There is a tendency for people  to relate to pouring rain with sadness.  There are only a few people I really know of that look at it differently--perhaps it is because their association with rain has always been pleasant and positive.  So I was trying to think of a way to have a positive spin to this time-old saying?

This is the one I came up with, "When it showers, it flowers."

I think this is a really good positive spin off.  What do you think?  It is what has been going through my head all day due to some interesting, exciting news.  Unfortunately, I cannot discuss it here fully, but those who have my personal e-mail can e-mail me if they want to know the details.

But here's what I will say, I'm taking a leap, a plunge into the unknown.  It's no doubt scary, stressful, and will be hard at the beginning.  But, I believe in myself enough to try.  I remind myself I have the skills to do it, the ability to be "different," and to be successful.

I realize I may not be feeling this in like a week or two, but I must go with what I feel right now.  Otherwise, I know I will never do it, and then only have regrets.  And who wants to live a life of regret or what ifs or what could have been?  None of us do, and none of us should have to.

Wish me luck!  When I am able, I will fill in more details.  I really do hate to leave all my beloved blog readers hanging, but this is sensitive stuff right now.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Video Wednesday-Clover jumping

I think I'm going to try something new and instead of a "Wordless Wednesday" than many bloggers do, I'm going to do "Video Wednesdays." Likely, these will mostly be animals, but maybe I'll think of some other stuff to film too. Keep me to this! This might be a fun thing to add here!

I know a few of you wanted to see some videos of Clover in action, so here is just one example.

A few weeks ago, I was going to make a jump for Clover. I realized I did not have long enough pieces, so I had to finagle with what I had. I made her this jump from her weave pole set. Here's a quick video of Clover jumping over it. I really love the fact she chose to jump over it, following my hand than jump through it which she could have easily done.

At some point in the future, I may give Clover her own Youtube channel. And yes, this is how I talk to the animals when training/rewarding them.

Dog-filled weekend

Quick post here. I will have more of substance soon. This weekend was rather "doggy." I went to an agility trial last Friday to watch a friend run her poodle, and also to check out this facility. It may be one I join.  The poodle on the right is the one my friend ran.  The gray poodle, she performs in Rally.

On Saturday, I went to a big dog show with a friend. Unfortunately, this was the hottest day! We mostly watched obedience and browsed the vendors, then chilled back at her house.  I fell in love with this 25 lb. Border Collie, belonging to my friend's friend.  Apparently, the woman who had this dog said she was the dumbest dog she ever had, and she couldn't get her to stop jumping, etc.  One day, my friend's friend (also a trainer) told the woman the day she wanted to give her up to let her know. About two weeks later, the woman called her, and gave her up.  This is her third home as a rescue and her last.  She was such a darling. After watching the agility trial, it really made me want to have a bit of a "push button" dog to run with.  Yes, BCs come in this size!

Over at my friend's house, our dogs had a great time playing which was a big thing for my friend's dog reactive dog. Last time, he met Tovah, it wasn't the most pleasant experience. My friend's done a lot of work since then, and it showed. Everyone has a wonderful time!   Here's a group shot.  Her two dogs are the Cattle Dog X and the Fox Houndish X.  The red dog farthest right is a dog that my friend was taking care of.  It is sad, she is only 4 years old and has glaucoma.  She lost an eye last year, and is adjusting to her near loss of sight.  She is a sweet girl and love dogs.

Then, on Monday, I walked with a friend and her JRTs at a nearby park. We had a late lunch afterwards where I had an amazing grilled hummus foccacia wrap! I'm seriously thinking about buying stuff to make this sans the cheese.

These are my friend's two JRTs.  The one on the left is 14 years old and still trucking along.  The one one the right is 3 yrs old.  He is a smooth-coated JRT.  He did confirmation (though finished now), earth dog (dog run in through tunnels looking for the a specific animal scent, typically a rat scent is used.  This game mimicks the history of what many terrier type dogs were originally used for), and dock diving, his favorite.

Here is a photo of Tovah with the city background behind her.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Family surgeries

The last few weeks have been interesting with my family.  About two weeks ago, my mom fell while painting her bathroom.  She went to the ER which in my opinion did not take very good care of her.  They made a preliminary diagnosis of it was broken, put her arm in a sling, gave her pain meds, and sent her on her way.  The next few days afterwards, she was in a lot of pain and really hated feeling immobile.  She told me she had some breakdowns of not being able to put on deodorant, dry her hair, drive, lift her arm, etc.  It really puts in perspective those little things we take for granted.

My mom who is normally a very self sufficient woman had a really hard time with this.  A week later, she had an appt. with the Sports Medicine Dr.  He x-rayed her arm again which showed breaks at the head of the humerus, shattering of the bone, and dislocation.  Her options were limited to reconstructive surgery or letting it try to heal on its own which would have resulted in likely only minimal function.  And since functionality is what she wants, she opted for the surgery.  It is at noon today.

After surgery, of course, there will be a lot of physical therapy.  She is not looking forward to this, and I told her my estimated time for her recovery was at least 2.5-3 months.  She felt a bit grim by this and truly thought that with the surgery, maybe a month later, she would be all fine.  My feeling is there is probably ligament damage which always takes awhile to heal.  In some sense, by telling her this, it has ignited fire in her to take less than that time, I just hope she does not try to do too much, like try to come to my place in October to take care of the dogs while I'm gone.  She's really quite upset about this.

Then, my dad's wife had a surgery last week.  She decided to get a tummy tuck.  So far, she is healing nicely from it.  The question that remains for me is was this for her or for my dad or both?  My guess is both.  She's always been a bit worried about her size--she's tall at 6'0 feet.  And married to someone like my father who is vain (and yes, he would admit to this) is difficult.  He certainly loves his wife, but I know he wished she was smaller.  

With the surgery, she isn't going to be a size 2 or 0 or something, but she will be smaller.  I'm hopeful, it will help with her self image, but I don't know.  I should footnote this with that she had tried diets in the past, got medically tested for thyroid and such, but I also believe she was on a long term asthma medication and/or prednisone which she later learned she should have been getting blood tested for regularly.  She also exercises and eats pretty healthy as well.  We'll see how it all goes.

Hopefully, both recoveries will go smoothly and no complications.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Debuting orthotics

A few months ago, I posted on the asymmetry of my feet. Since then, I've followed up with my podiatrist and waited for my new custom orthotics.  They were available a month ago, but the company messed up, placing my metarsal pads at my arch rather than my midfoot area. My podiatrist was not happy and even floored that someone was dumb enough to do this when explicit directions and measurements were given. But be so, we are all human.

Yesterday, I finally received them! The podiatrist told me they would take a few weeks to get used to, and indeed he is right. Even upon placing them in my shoes, they feel different and kind of hurt. I'm hoping as my feet get used to them, they will feel better. I'm sure it will also help when I get new shoes which I've put off, waiting for these orthotics.

With these kind of things, I hate waiting, waiting to get used to something to feel right. What if they never do, and then that is a waste of $400 of which my insurance will only cover 25% if that. (Doesn't this sound ironically like recovery) In the past I have had a tendency to push ahead of the pain and trudge through anyway. This has not always proven effective, so patience is of essence here as well as just being smart about this. What my head really wants to do is just go for a mid-length run and "see" how they do. If they do well, then it is a score for me, the orthotics, and the podiatrist. If they don't, then it becomes, "well, I tried it, didn't work, see nothing works, etc."

I think part of this is also the fact that I want my feet to feel relief from long runs. When I hit mile XX, my feet immediately hurt, and I just feel them digging into my insoles. The pressure is real as is evident from the wear pattern. When I know I have long runs planned for the next two weekends, this just doesn't bode well to get used to the orthotics when I need them now. <sigh>

One interesting conversation my podiatrist and I had was when we were talking about how people did with the orthotics was:

Pod: Some people just don't have the body or feet for running. For some, their feet hit a breaking point and will go no further. 
Me: I have already run two marathons and a half marathon, so it's proven my feet can handle it. 
Pod: Yes, but it's about cumulation over the years.
Oh, that was hard to hear but in fact true.  It's funny, because I could say this about anything else--another person, a dog, etc. when talking about their capabilities of certain sports and jobs but when it comes to me, how could that be so?  

In reality, cumulation of what we put our bodies through does count.  Some of those things we can't get back, so it is vital that we take care of them.

p.s.-Day 1 of running with orthotics did not bode well.  At every mile, on the dot, my feet felt pain.  Ugh!  Hope this won't last too long.  With walking, there is some discomfort but not as bad with running.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bunny antics and enrichment

Thanks for those who commented on my last post. I really appreciate it lots! I'm feeling a little better since that post, and this past week has had some interesting insights which I'll share in an upcoming post soon.

The good news about the computer cord was that it was just the cord and no damage was done to the computer. To boot, the computer repair place only charged me $41 total. Here's a photo of Clover's handi-work.

I know this was a result of not bunny proofing well and some lack of vigilance on my part even if it was for the shortest amount of time as possible. So now the cord is covered with pvc pipe until I get something else (I've tried a tubing before but she ate through it) I also realized yesterday when I was cleaning, another cord had been chewed, like totally broken in pieces. This was to my Wii.

But, despite all her mischief, I can't help but continue to provide enrichment for her. Clover now has her own weave pole set. I have posted some videos on facebook of her learning the weave poles, as well as her latest trick: jumping over the dogs. When I'm on my other computer, I will upload the file here. 

 Lastly, here is a photo of two of my three dogs plus Clover in the background just hanging out. I love her "super bunny" position.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Just ranting

It's funny, because it has only been a week since I last posted, however, it feels like forever.  I guess in some ways I haven't had much to say.  Life is well life--still job searching, still trying to figure out what it is exactly I want to do, trying to figure out my moral ethics and beliefs on a variety of topics, whether a marathon is really doable this fall, etc.  All good food for thought but can make you crazy and frustrated too.

I guess the job search is probably the most frustrating out of all these topics, because when it boils down to it, you need some sort of money to live.  It is unfortunate that money has to have so much meaning, but it just does. 

The other thing that bothers me is that I may apply for xx amount of jobs and get nowhere simply because I fall short of one criteria.  It truly sucks.  I've talked with HR people on how this works, and for some employers, if you are one criteria short, you are immediately chucked from the pile even if you may be the coolest, hardest working type person. 

I read an article a few months ago about a guy who committed suicide, because he could not get employed after two years of searching.  Whether this man may have had a mental illness, I do not know, but that isn't really the point.  Even those people who are mentally sound, and may do all the right things, it still does not always work out.  They may not get to a point of suicide, but yes, they can get frustrated and depressed.  It just reminds me how fierce the job market is and how much talent may be missed.  Sometimes, I feel like it is the HR people that can make you or break you.

It's a scary time for me and many people who are jobless right now.  I've thought about a lot of things--what I could do, what I need to do, whether going back to school is an option, etc., but everything is incredibly scary.  Even if you invest and believe in something, it does not guarantee you will come out on top.  You may or everything may flop, and then you are right where you started before or worse.  With school, both taken time and money--both of which I feel like I do not have enough of. 

I know I'm ranting here, and I try not to discuss this too much on here as I do not want to appear like I am whining or depressed or woe is me, etc.  I guess the good thing with this all is that I haven't reverted back to ED.  Times of stress in the past has caused me to go running backwards.  I can't say the idea has not crossed my mind, as sometimes I do think it would be nice to slice my food budget.  But deep down, I know it solves nothing and only creates worse problems.  Certainly, that in and of itself is a nice victory, but still my head kind of minimizes it, thinking I should be past this point by now.  I should be able to endure anything that comes my way.

I'll end this post with highlights or not so highlights of this week:
  • I know I at least have a bartending gig in mid September.  I'm hoping this will provide an outlet for networking.
  • I finished Clover's weave poles--all ten of them!
  • Thursday turned out to have a little of Murphy's Law.  I was going to meet with a few people for Search and Rescue work.  Well, that didn't work out, but I already made plans with a few people to visit them.  I did visit with a few, but all the times were shortened. 
  • On Friday, I had to take my netbook to the computer shop.  I discovered Clover had chewed part of the powercord, so my netbook was spouting out "cricket-like" sounds and giving me the blue screen of death.  I'm hopeful it is just the cord and the computer is not damaged.
  • Friday night, my mom was painting and fell.  She broke her humerus bone in several places.  She is miserable and in pain, but I'm thankful it was not worse like a cracked skull or something.
  • Yesterday, I did another Search and Rescue training with some other trainers.  I try to go to this facility 1-2 times a month, as they do similar training.  We also use similar training techniques.  Tovah is doing well overall, but this training definitely takes time.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mourning the loss of a self.

It is not often that I read an article and really relate to it like I did this one: Leaving the sport, gaining an eating disorder.  Though I'm not big on the title "gaining an eating disorder" like it was something that came out of the blue, I did like some of the points the article mentioned.

The big highlight to me was about loss of identity.  Here was this woman who had devoted her life to gymnastics, retired, and then appeared to become fixated on her body.  While it is true as she says, "
The same quality that made me great at sports made me want to get really skinny," the real underlying issue was feeling a huge loss--a life she had known, now going into the unknown, feeling lost, and developing a different identity for herself.

Coming from similar experiences, it is hard to "find" a new identity.  There are those who go unscathed and immediately jump into something new with ease, but I think for a lot of people it isn't easy.  With eating disorders, this can be seen on both ends of the spectrum.  For some, it is the beginning of an eating disorder, for others, it is a loss of an eating disorder as they enter recovery.  What both have in common is that each necessarily needs time to mourn.  I think people forget this and then blame themselves for not being "over" it (whatever that may be); or, they may feel that pressure from misunderstood people.  Or, they hold onto the ideal, that this is their only identity.

For those of you who need scientific evidence, in this New Yorker piece, "
Scientists have found that grief, like fear, is a stress reaction, attended by deep physiological change."

The take home message here is that it is okay to feel sad and upset.  In fact, I think it is important and healthy. This doesn't mean it has to be some huge event, or some tear jerking session (though of course it is okay to cry too-nothing wrong with that), but it's more a feeling of a kind of acceptance.  It's knowing that the loss of one identity allows for us to grow into a different identity--an identity that we can embrace, learn to like, and be successful at.

The woman in this article was lucky in that her eating disordered behavior only lasted about a year.  For many others, it is a long, drawn out process of years.  I hope those reading are not in the latter.  But if you are, and this is one of the things you've held onto-the identity of an ED, I hope you will be able to eventually let go of it.  A good question to ponder here is: how do you want to be remembered--the eating disordered girl? What identity do you want?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Finally-letting go of clothing

A few weeks ago, I posted Measures of our worth
, discussing unhealthy things we hold onto--the things we know we should let go of but don't necessarily until we finally realize how detrimental that item is, whether it is behaviorally or emotionally or both.

Many of us have old clothing items we have held onto for a long time, even during recovery. Whether it is out of security, a longing for, or a symbolism of the past, truly, it just is not helpful to us in the end.  

Earlier this week, I decided to get rid of this pair of jeans.  A local rescue group is having a yard sale this weekend, so I thought I would put this in my donation box.  I was actually going to hand this pair of jeans plus several other items over to an upscale consignment shop, but I just never got around to it.

This pair of jeans got some usage, mostly in my twenties, but hasn't been worn in several years to be honest.  Besides that I'm no longer starving myself, I think it's also the fact that I decided I wanted to wear things that actually fit me better-not only waist wise but also length wise.  This pair of jeans has an inseam of 30".  On someone who is only about 5'1, it was way too long.  When I originally bought this off of ebay, I was stoked, because I found a pair of Abercrombie & Fitch men's slouch jeans. (I had another pair my mom had found for me years before which I loved) 

I think I kept this pair of jeans hanging in my closet for the sole purpose of wishing-knowing that there was always the option to go back.  And I needed to hold onto that for a long time until I felt strong enough to know there was the least bit likelihood that I would revert back.

So this is now farewell, good riddance to this piece of clothing.  Though there isn't quite as much anguish as I thought there would be, it is still removing a part of your life-a symbolism of sorts.  I just hope now that whoever buys them does it for the right fit and not a yearning to be something they are not.

In case you didn't see these other creative posts by some fantastic bloggers, check them out:
Sarah used her jeans as an art project.
Katie, for her 100th post, took more drastic measures and watched her jeans melt and crumble.

p.s.-yes, this photo was staged-see the symbolism?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Weekend pet festival

Yesterday, I went to a local Pet Festival.  This doesn't seem like anything special, except that I was horribly nervous to go.  Why you ask? Simply because I was afraid I might run into my former employer.  I had actually neglected going to a few events I heard about earlier in the summer, because I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I saw her.  And I'm still not really sure.

Before going to this event, I made sure to check the website and see if she was exhibiting there.  I did not see her listed, but still, there was a chance she was a late entry.  Entering the site, I just held my breath that I would not see her. I made a quick walk through and was soon relieved.  Even if I had seen her, it would have been an awkward situation, especially if she had a tent beside my vet like last year.

There was a fairly good attendance despite the high temperatures, though my vet and I were both worried that dogs might have heatstroke, especially because there were dogs there who were excitable and not prepared for an event like this.

I saw a few other people there I knew, as well as some former clients--the large Mastiff, now probably over 150 lbs, the now socialized and happy Goldendoodle (before he had been terribly fearful), and the smooth coated Parsons Russell Terrier who does quite a few dog sports.

I spoke to my vet a bit (she knows my situation) and saw her cute 10 month old, bubbly, smiley baby.  Though I am not a baby lover per se, I do love when they smile at you.

Overall, it was fun to get out and go.  There were a few negatives in that people simply did not watch their dogs and scuffles broke out.  Luckily, no dog got injured, and no human this year (last year a woman got bit in the face while trying to give a dog water. He startled and bit her)  I left feeling like I was glad I went.

The other thing this situation made me realize (or maybe I already knew) is that the dog community is small, and I'm bound to run into her at some point.  I'm also bound to run into other people who know her and a trainer who she hired after me due to the whole six degrees of separation phenomena.  But I can't let her presence stop me from going to an event, a seminar, or a workshop. It's like allowing her to remain in power over me, and that is just dumb, hard, but dumb.

Later, I came home and e-mailed a gal I was going to try to meet up with at the event.  Actually, I saw her several times (she owns the PRT), but she was always at a distance, and I was always talking to someone; thus, we never got a chance to officially say hi.  She immed me back on facebook and asked how my jobless situation was going. I was honest: crappy.  The last thing she said to me before we both signed off was:

"You need to get back into training. You are too talented not to be teaching people how to train their dogs."

It was such a nice compliment and meant a lot to me. So for now, I will end this post with that note of positivity.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday fun: Harry Potter!

I thought my blog was in need a Wednesday fun post, so what else better than Harry Potter!

The last installment of the Harry Potter series opened last weekend. I have not seen it yet but hope to soon. I came across this blog post asking which Hogwart's house you belonged to: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin.

"You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart"

"You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true,
And unafraid of toil"

"Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you've a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind."

"Or perhaps in Slytherin,
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means,
To achieve their ends."

I took the two tests that were mentioned in the above blog post. These were my results:

From the helloquizzy test:
Gryffindor: 34
Ravenclaw: 61
Hufflepuff: 61
Slytherin: 44

From the Personalitylab quiz:
Gryffindor: 74
Ravenclaw: 94
Hufflepuff: 98
Slytherin: 32

I was really surprised that Slytherin came out beating Gryffindor on the first quiz. My feeling is that it is because this test is only True/False, so there is no grey area. The second test had a much wider range, allowing you to pick between 1-9. But I think both quizzes are correct that I am more suitable towards Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. I guess I'm not quite as brave as those in Gryffindor.

Anyway, so take the quizzes and post in the comments which Hogwart's House you belong in.