Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I can't believe I haven't spoken to my dad in six months.

It has been longer than that, really, since it has been six months since he passed away. It feels like it happened years ago. I can barely remember how lost I was feeling even before the news ripped my life apart. I was drowning, certainly, despite the best efforts of my loved ones. I had one foot out the door of my west coast apartment, ready to catch a flight back to Ontario, back to unemployment, homelessness, and family.

Now, for the first time in.. years, probably.. I feel happy.

That's the most difficult part - not being able to phone and tell Dad that I'm happy. Next to that is the sly guilt that creeps in; I'm happy on this side of the country, away from my family.

Strangely, it also feels like I just talked to him last week, updating him on my promotion to  manager (in training) of a dog daycare. He doesn't feel very far away when I find a solution to a problem at work, or when I come across a new financial blog, or I watch a show about horses.

It's those things that I try to focus on - keeping his memory close, and that he would be happy that I've found a definition of success that feels authentic for me. I wish my vision wouldn't get fuzzy on long days, when I'm tired and sore, but.. I'll do my best, and I'll keep on trying, even when I feel like I'm drowning.

That's all Dad ever wanted, ..I think.
Sunday, April 29, 2012

I'm taking some time for myself today.

I'm pampering myself and doing so guilt-free.

I've had a hard week (although it hasn't been any harder than most), and I need to recharge. I usually reserve Mondays for a break from the world. I wait for my body to realign itself and my faulty collagen to repair from 36h of work in three consecutive nights. More often than not, it ends up feeding my guilt and I feel as if I've wasted a day lounging about. When I feel physically better on Tuesday, I don't feel any better emotionally. I feel useless and get little done. Wednesday, I realize I only have one full day left before I start nights again, so I rush and get as much cleaning as I can done, as well as go to medical appointments.

It hasn't been working. So, I'll try something new this week - even if just for today, Sunday.

I've painted my nails and, while I wait for them to dry, I am reading blogs. I've showered and followed my all-too-rare skin care regimen. I've even scheduled three dates with friends this week. For a hermit like me, that's a big deal.

I'll be entertaining new friends and catching with some old ones. Hopefully, today will restore my confidence in those realms, too.

But for now, I'll just breathe, remember that I must help myself before I can help others, and enjoy feeling as if my sunny afternoon with new nail polish and a good book is well-earned.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Grief is the ultimate liminal state.

It’s a gap in time that can’t sufficiently be bridged by the love of friends, family, or lovers. 

It is unique; it can’t be shared the way love can, and I wouldn’t wish to burden anyone else with it.

I can do my best to delay it, out of denial or necessity, with chores and work and school, but only my body is temporarily removed from the process. My mind is still busy, always so busy, trying to convince my heart of the simple and logical fact: my father is dead.

My mind often stumbles, as my bendy body does when it automatically calls his house;
no, he won't answer the phone when you call.
no, he won't help you out of this mess.
no, he won't make you laugh about this.
no, you won't feel awful when he says that.

As I'm working through these negative spaces in my mind, my heart has no chance of catching up. One day, I'll move on to the positive spaces (a terrible misnomer);
yes, he would've loved to hear about this couch controversy.
yes, he would've given anything to see you perform again.
yes, he would loved that you're writing again.

But, as I fall into the future conditional tense, I'm reminded that no, you don't have a future with him - not like that. and 
I hold my breath.
I choke.
I sob.
I forget how to breathe. 

And I realize that my body has to relearn how to function before my mind has a hope in hell of convincing my heart that everything will all be okay again, someday.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Darning versus Damning

I'm spending the day crafting and watching BBC documentaries - Victorian Farm and Edwardian Farm, particularly.

Not really crafting, I suppose, so much as mending; attaching buttons, repairing split seams, darning socks. I'm not very good at it, but I'm enjoying the work. I like the precision required and the utility of the finished products. Feeling useful is important to me, and it is also a rare feeling.

Perhaps it's that I haven't finished my degree yet, or that I don't have a career in my field. Hell, I don't really have a career at all, but a job. There isn't really any room for advancement unless I go into business for myself. I wouldn't rule that out in the future, once my debts are paid off, but for right now, I have to be content that I'm doing a job that requires observational skills and quick-thinking. And I am content, mostly.

I get down on myself for something that is entirely out of my control: the way my faulty collagen affects my movement, strength, and pain levels. I push myself to ignore my body's warnings and to not make excuses - "Sure, I can pick up an extra twelve-hour night shift at work" - but, I fear that I'm rather awful at it and that I cop out when I should adapt or innovate.

It's difficult to remember that my mind is subjective rather than objective in situations like these, and that my depression-and-anxiety-riddled brain is especially subjective. At times, such as in November, it is dangerously so. But really, my family is right; I shouldn't be so hard on myself.

Sure, my sewing isn't perfect and my knitting is quite slow, but I enjoy the work. It keeps my hands busy, of course, and it keeps my mind too busy to confuse my subjective and harmful thoughts for facts. That's probably the most important part.

Well, that, or that I'll finally have some socks to wear that don't have holes in them.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I wish I had skipped November, too.

I didn't write at all in November.

Usually, I would apologize for my tardiness and promise future entries, perhaps even in a list with bullets. But really, I just want to forget that month entirely.

Pieces of it are missing from my memory. I suppose that's for the best. There are some things that are not worth holding on to. I mourn my lapses in time from depression and pain and disordered sleep - they make me trip and stumble until they're all one and the same. But, really, it's for the best that I can't remember much leading up to my need to go to the Emergency Room to plead for psychiatric help, please, help of any kind, please.

I wasn't admitted. Sure, they admitted that I need help and that I wasn't healthy, but they couldn't keep me unless I physically hurt myself or someone else. Or, if I told them the precise ways in which I would do these things. They can only help you if you have already planned your way out - planning to get healthy is not in their jurisdiction, it would seem.

I got some referrals. I took a few days off of work. I cried for a week in lieu of eating or sleeping. I saw some doctors. I got some medicine. 

And a friend visited. I showed her around this city of mine. This city that felt throttled between the Rockies and the Pacific. This city that felt like its going to slip off of the edge of the country. We explored it together, though, and she made me feel a little less lost.

And then I got some flowers from a friend.

Flowers! From a friend! Who lives on the other side of the country! I didn't know you could do that. I didn't know I could get that. Flowers! How do we have flowers at this time of year, even inside? I wish I had a proper vase for them, or a glass pitcher, even. They make me smile every day.

With help, I'm slowly picking up the pieces of my life again. The ones that are worth holding on to.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
I've secured a full-time job. Huzzah! And it's with dogs, too.

The three 12-hour night shifts in a row are a problem, though.

My insomnia works in my favour, but the fatigue and pain from hyperextending and locking joints, sore muscles, and chronic mild tendinitis makes for a long recovery. I'm on my feet most of the shift, and I'm not able to sit or lie down for more than an hour at a time. It's really wearing on my body, and my mind. I had a rough couple of days after I finished that last shift, and today, four days after my last shift, I'm finally feeling human - and I've only taken two installments of pain meds today. The first few days after the shifts, I was taking the maximum five installments, using ice and heat, exercising lightly to keep my joints moving, and sleeping as much as I could, and still being in too much pain to concentrate on anything other than police procedural dramas. And I get to start it all over again tonight.

However, I am really enjoying it. It's great working with dogs, and I can take Elliepup to work with me. She has a few friends there, and I think getting her exposed to excitement is helping her to become more tolerant of busy situations. Plus, the transit back and forth has made her a pro in her carrier.

I'm pleased to have a regular paycheque coming in, and soon I'll be able to start paying down my debt and my student loans. I'll be paying rent and my bills on my own, and, aside from the class I'm taking online (which my father generously offered to pay for), I'll be making it on my own. Doing all of that - feeling like an adult, finally - while having a bunch of permanent disabilities makes me feel good about myself. And that feeling, unfortunately, isn't one that I feel very often. So, I shall do my best to hold on to it, especially on the rough days.

I'm still applying for jobs in library and information sciences, as well as in the writing and editing fields. I've got a few hits in those, and they could lead to exciting places. Even if I don't get any further in those, for now, I'm pleased to have some interest from potential employers. This job market is abysmal, and I'm thrilled to have recognition from employers that my skills and experience just might be useful to them.

And really, on the toughest days, I curl up with some warm tea, some hounds, and my cat, and I try to imagine all of you out in the world, doing what you have to to get by.

What is it that you do to get through the tough days, friends? I'd love to know.
Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bunnies and Coyotes and Beagles, oh my!

I feel privileged to welcome a foster beagle into my tiny, tiny home.

I've wanted to foster dogs ever since I found my dog, Ellie, being fostered at a friend's house. Sure, she wasn't my dog then (in fact, she was adopted be another family temporarily before joining my family), but I fell in love with the idea of fostering rescued dogs.
My Elliepup started it all.
Rescuing dogs from inadequate, and sometimes even cruel, environments is a rather romantic notion. Not everyone loves dogs, of course, but I haven't met a person who has said that rescuing dogs from neglectful or abusive humans is ridiculous or a waste of time.  Strangers on the street have been known to hug me when they find out that Ellie is a rescued dog.

But fostering? Bringing a neglected or abused dog who has no training - or worse, behavioural issues - into your home?

That seems extreme to some people. Isn't the pound is a perfectly reasonable place for dogs to live until they're adopted?

Well, yes. Many kennels are alright places for dogs who are awaiting forever homes. However, animal shelters are filled to the brim and most simply don't have room for any more dogs. Dogs are social animals and animal shelters can be stressful environments - the dogs are often better off in home environments than waiting in a kennel.

Since my Elliepup was a puppymill breeder, she had absolutely no socialization skills and didn't know how to interact with other dogs or people. She needed a loving home as soon as she could get one -- even if it was a temporary home until her permanent home (mine!) could be found. I wanted to be a part of that experience for dogs in need.

I also want another dog, but as I'm unable to financially commit to another dog right now, fostering is the perfect option for me. The rescue organization takes care of the vet bills, while I get the excitement of a new dog without the long-term commitment. I get to use and improve my dog psychology and training skills while also helping to save a dog.

Sure, it'll be difficult to say goodbye to the dogs I foster, but it'll mean that they're going to good homes. Plus, every dog I foster instead of adopt is another dog saved.

Both of these red dappled mini dachshunds were rescued from puppy mills!

So, Ellie and I have welcomed a beagle into our lives, for now, and we're loving it. Ellie is a bit annoyed that she has to share her beds (poor pup - she has, like,three, plus the laundry pile) but she's thoroughly enjoying the hound company on walks and having a warm body to snuggle up to.
How could someone not care for these dogs?

Finally, someone else is around who understands Ellie's love for sniffing and tracking. Ellie and the beagle, Alex, found a wild bunny hopping out of the hedge this morning, and they ran into a pair of coyotes on the street last night! They've also found many-a dead rodents, bits of rotting food, and discarded underthings. They're having a ball.

The beagle is learning really quickly and by the time he's adopted, he not only going to be a fantastic dog, but a well-mannered one too!

Alex, a newfie beagle, loves the CBC and is looking for a forever home!

Also, my buddy Zoe from A Giraffe in a Scarf fosters cats. She's such a great kitty mama. She often writes about her fostering experiences, and she always includes adorable photos of her snuggly feline brood.

If you're thinking of adopting an animal, please check out your local rescue organizations as well as the shelters in your area. You can often find breed-specific rescues (like the Beagle rescue I volunteer for) if you're interested in a specific breed of dog, bunny,  horse, or other animal.

Would you consider adopting from a rescue, or fostering?

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