Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Goosebumps

May we all experience something that gives us "goosebumps" this season...like this video :-)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter Wonderland

I always say "I'd hate to be a weatherman (or is that weatherwoman? weatherperson?) but this time, they were right on with the prediction. 18 inches overnight, started about 9pm last night, and still coming down. Yes, I should have gone in to work last night before it started to do payroll instead of waiting til...tomorrow, hopefully. I am heading off to Oregon on Monday, and by then the weather here anyway is supposed to be partly sunny and no more snow, but we all know how snow anywhere can "snowball" into problems with flight delays etc.

  I leave D.C. at 8:30am and have a 3 1/2 hour layover in San Francisco, and arrive in Oregon at 4:40pm. I usually don't sleep the night I leave on a flight, by the time I get done doing stuff, it hardly seems worth it to sleep a few hours and have to get up, and I can sleep on the plane when I am that tired.

  I am so looking forward to 10 days away, sleeping in and reading and shopping and being with my family. I will have time to catch up with blogs, and even post to mine, though posting photos may have to wait til I get back home. I look forward to visiting Ashland and Jacksonville, always decorated so festively at Christmastime. And there are some new restaurants I will have to try, as well as some old favorites, GEPPETTO'S and OMAR'S and BELLA UNION and visiting some old friends, too. I won't feel guilty because I am not getting to chores that need getting to at home (because I won't be at home!) and making a resolution to dig in when I get back, welcoming in the new year with some changes. I met with my new therapist and am looking forward to what we can do together, getting me through this sadness, which I have let isolate me too much, like a fog that rolls in even after a sunny day...

  So, today I am enjoying the day, being inside, packing for my trip next on my list, drinking green tea and watching the birds enjoy the seed and suet I put out...oh, and digging my car out while the snow is still fluffy, tomorrow it might be harder!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Snow Day

So quiet, so peaceful, so nice to be inside and look out at it. I bought some new bird feeders and seed mix and tried my best to get a photo while the snow was falling, but of course, every time I tried to snap of photo, the birds flew off! And it was beginning to get dark! So these photos were the last ones I took, gave up on getting one of the birds ON the feeder!

The past couple of months have been a little stressful for me, and I have started to compose a post numerous times and then just think "I don't have the time or strength to go into details" so post nothing...but that in itself somehow weighs on me, so time to write and lighten my heart.

I did have a wonderful visit with my mom and the love in her life, in Philadelphia in November. They are both nearing 80 and we had a scare when he was diagnosed with colon cancer in October and I thought that maybe this planned trip from Oregon would have to be cancelled. But his surgery went well, no evidence of mets in any of the lymph node biopsies and his recovery very smooth, so they flew out to a week long Elderhostel Arts and Music seminar and I was able to join them for symphonies, museums and great food as their seminar came to a close.

They are both near 80 but in great shape and health and are very active, traveling the world, going to film festivals, motorcycle meets and have a trip planned to France in the spring. But this scare has me worried and pondering what it will feel like when she is gone, that the presence, the feeling that knowing if I needed her if I was in trouble...would be gone.

The night that Mike died, she was on a plane in hours and was here for me, helping me through those first couple of terrifying weeks, and gave me the strength to carry on. I lay awake feeling anxious and sad sometimes, and am so glad we have these times together now.

Here's some photos of some of what we shared in Philly (click on them to biggify)

Outside the Barnes Collection Museum-lovely crisp fall day and memorable museum. THE BARNES FOUNDATION

One of the many murals dotting the city, all unique and telling a story of the city. MURAL ART IN PHILADELPHIA

The area reminded me of Portobello Market neighborhood in England!

Old City Hall, love the swirly clouds in this photo

How they light up downtown at night!

The Reading Terminal Market, had to have a real Philly Cheesesteak, of course.

Phillies fans getting face painted on the streets by an artistic entrepreneur.

Mom and I in a beautiful arched entry to a church.

Inside the Masonic Temple, my second favorite place we visited, after the Barnes Museum. GRAND LODGE OF PENNSYLVANIA

You might remember me talking about Sunny, the kitty I got back from a home for "inappropriate urination", how I had found a new home for him that after all, couldn't adopt him. Well, a family here who recently had to put their Cornish Rex to sleep because of a mediastinal neoplasia (a tumor in the chest) was willing to give him a try. They had no other cats and loved the breed and missed their kitty deeply. Unfortunately within a few days, Sunny was spraying and not using the box again, even though they followed my "introducing a new cat" instructions to the letter, so I took him back in.

I had so hoped he would be happy in his new home (his third--forth, including me) with no other cats around, but it wasn't to be. I did not want him to spend the rest of his life in a room by himself--that is not living but existing but he was fearful with other cats and I already have issues with one of my cats spraying, so having him have run of the house here wasn't an option either. All the medical tests proved it not to be a medical issue but a behavioral one and he was on Paxil even.

I made the difficult decision to euthanize him, not wanting him to go from home to home, feeling anxiety with each. He is at rest now, and I think it was the right decision, but still very hard for me to let go of.

Mike's birthday was November 3rd, and he would have been 61...funny, but he will always be 58 to me, ageless like Marilyn Monroe or Paul Newman. I have mentioned this before, but on those special days, somehow it slips by without me actually celebrating that day...but he is always on my mind. For a moment, I feel guilty about that, not remembering on the day, but there are reminders of him here everywhere, not sad ones, just sad he is gone...note: those headphones were so I didn't have to listen to the WOW babble, sweet guy he was!

And work...I'm still having some problems with frustration and irritability and my boss talked to me again. I think Mike was a de-fuser for me and enabled me to cope with the stressors at work. I remember hearing at a seminar one time that "The best way to be happy at work, is to marry the right person" which you can take to mean Happy Relationship, Happy Workplace...no matter whether that relationship is with yourself or a significant other.

She said some of the staff are afraid to come up and help me because I "bark" at them. She said to let go of having everything perfect or done "my" way. She said it was devisive to teamwork, and yes, she is right. But the texting, the gossip, the time wasting is what frustrates me the most, not the quality of their work when the are working...but I am not managing this practice and do need to let go of that (is it snippy to add...if the boss is ok with it? Yes)

Much of it may have to do with the fact that I am in my 50's (for a little while longer, thank you) and they are in their 20's and well, I will never be able to change that...so "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference".

I have talked with two close girlfriends and they say I have been having this conversation with myself and them for the past 6 months or more, and need to change to get through this. So I made a call to one of these friends therapist, and have made an appointment to meet, and that is a step in the right direction (see flow chart below--which I found on another blogging friends blog and then couldn't find where--what did we do before Google?). Just remembered, it's one one of my favorite blogs (got to buy the books!) 37 DAYS

Another funny aside, I downloaded the flow chart and then couldn't find where I put it...ever happen to you? Turned out, I had made it my desktop picture instead of downloading it TO the desktop...so I just left it there to remind me everytime I am at the computer...which is often!

I think we will be compatible, see things from a similar perspective, as she lost her husband and is in the midst of caring for a beloved dog with serious health issues. The year after Mike died, I had a good friend calling me daily, getting me to accomplish one task at a time and not letting me flounder in quicksand. But as needed, he cut me lose after a year and let me try to fly on my own. And I did, dealing with the responsibilities of home ownership on my own (believe it or not, before Mike, I had rented the same house for 18 years and had never owned a home), replacing the roof, the HVAC system, the Flood! And just recently the Prius' battery died (the big, expensive one) but luckily it was under warranty still.

This past year I have felt like I have been dog paddling in a lake with the shore quite a distance away, grasping onto flotsam floating by, catching my breath. Not that I haven't accomplished anything. I have kept to my goal of downsizing the cattery, placing kitties with friends and have gone from 13 cats to 5; cut back on cat showing and breeding; have made time to visit family and friends knowing that some things you will regret in life if you put them off for a "better time".

But I sometimes find myself feeling like "Is this all there is" and trying to find direction again, not really knowing how, worrying it will be the wrong direction, and on and on. I used to feel like this sometimes (pre-Mike) when I was younger and single and scraping by to make ends meet, and wondering where I'd be when I was 64...and that's not too far away now and while Mike did "provide" for me, and I have been able to stay in my house, pay off my debts and put enough food on the table that I've gained 15#, it's still daunting.

The cats and my job give me a lot of pleasure and satisfaction. I spend a lot of time counseling clients and even fellow bloggers on how to take better care of their cats. I'd love to do that full time, have a cat healthcare blog, but manage to squeeze things like that in someplace! One friend said I need to diversify, but I don't know if that would make me happy, either, so I am hoping that seeing a counselor will help me put things in a perspective that will work for me.

Some friends say I am too hard on myself. Some say my frustrations come from wanting to accomplish everything in a day and not taking it a "corner of the room" at a time. I think that is true, too. There's that basement that I can't break up into little accomplishments so never get anywhere with it. I need some direction and guidance...a guidance counselor, teehee...I am fortunate in so many ways, I need not wallow in my misfortune. I compare what I feel sometimes to nail biting, regretful and mad at myself for biting my nails, like I wanted to feel bad.

So, December is starting out to be a good month for me. I will be in Oregon for Christmas with family, bringing in the New Year with them, hopefully rested and ready to get on with it! Family gatherings can involve their own stress sometimes too, but just the change, the shedding of the responsibilities I have at home for a little while, will be a gift, just like the travels I made to friends over the Thanksgiving holiday, being with people who care for me. So think of me, in front of a warm fire, sipping Holiday Cheer and smiling a lot.