Sunday, August 30, 2015

Falling Whistles (a post worth recycling)

I learned of this on my nieces blog, HOT ON A DIME.

FALLING WHISTLES is a grassroots group helping fight for peace in Congo, especially for the children. You can read more about them at their website. A truly incredible cause.

What’s really great is the way they are raising money. They are selling these whistles and all of the proceeds go to help fight for their cause, and they are a great conversation piece. They range from $30-$100 based on the finish. What a cool idea right?!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

My state of mind Winter 2010, a recycled favorite post

Ok, do any of you remember that about 6 weeks ago...I was on vacation? Finally, I am getting around to posting notes and photos about my Christmas in Oregon...and you will have to bear with me if you read on, as I am under the influence of a "Snowball Martini"... mine was with Ketel One Citroen Vodka, a splash of Martini & Rossi Extra Dry Vermouth and a huge snowball...garnished with lemon zest.

Ok, last things first..

I read today, on a fellow bloggers blog,


about the very seasonal Vodka Snow Martinis that she and some friends concocted, and it led to a trip to the ABC store (those in other states may not know about the "package" stores that law requires in some states) and to Safeway to get a lemon (forgot the zester, though).

I have had 4 sessions with my therapist, and already my boss says she sees a positive change in me. With my therapists help, I have come to the realization that being a "veterinary nurse " is my calling, not only at work, but in my "private" life, too and that affects my interpretation of others behavior. It also may explain why sometimes I feel like I don't have any "down time". She told me of a quote from Confucious, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life" and that explained a lot to me, too.

While I may work with people who do not want to make this their career, realizing this helps me look at things that stress me out from a different perspective, and that actually lessens my stress by about 80%...really. I have a friend who is an palliative care nurse and those words have already helped her look at her stressors differently.

My boss said she sees, on a scale of 1 to 10, an 8 in terms of my "happiness factor" at work; my therapist says if I only have 3 things on my list of aggravating experiences during a week, that something good is happening, and while I never seem to get as much accomplished during a day that I hope for...I am happier! Am I ready to marry myself...not yet.

Anyway, back to Oregon vacation-time, December 21 thru January 1. I had a hell of a time getting out of town. The DC Metro area had it's first big snowfall of the season, 22" and when I called to reserve a taxi for the ride to the airport Monday morning, I got told, 3 X, that they weren't taking fares until noon, or to call back 2 hours before I needed to leave home!

Once again, friends came to my rescue! My petsitters husband drove me to another friends (90 minute round trip) late Sunday night, where I spent the night on an aerobed, she made me dinner, as I hadn't eaten since I had been shoveling snow all day in hopes that I could make it up the hill and out of my housing development--that didn't happen!

I shoveled 2 days, nary a snowplow in sight, took a Tramadol and 3 Advil that night so I wouldn't be "stove up" on the aeroplane the next day and a cabbie friend of hers (from Minnesota--the land of big snows!) drove me to the airport Monday morning, where I got out of town but then managed to get stranded in San Francisco for 7 hours and considered myself fortunate as it was obvious that many people had spent the night, maybe many nights, there waiting for a connecting flight!

But I arrrived in Orygun about 10pm Monday night and had a nice 2 weeks there and somehow, problems at the beginning of a vacation are better than at the end...

I so wished I would have had about a month off, so I could have met fellow Oregon bloggers, but you probably know how one kind of lets family commandeer your time when you are with them, so I didn't get in visits with them, but maybe on my next visit I can try again.

I did enjoy my visit at least a full 8 hours of sleep in (something I only get at home, on the weekends) and got to play on the computer a lot, though I overheard my mom saying "Well, I don't want an 80th birthday party if all she is going to do is be on the computer"...sigh. My therapist said, wouldn't it have been nice if my mom could have come to me and said "I have so been looking forward to your visit, and it seems like I don't see enough of you" and if I could have said "Mom, I overheard you saying that you aren't seeing enough of me, let's go shopping or out to eat or for a walk..." Yep, that would have been nice, but as it was, we both ended up miffed at each other...

I shopped, mom fixed some of my favorite things-Portuguese Piri Piri chicken and cheesecake. I took out a few bottles of Casal Garcia Vino Verde, my mom's favorite Portuguese wine. We ate out often, breakfast and lunch and experience out of this world at Aja, a superb Pan-Asian Restaurant owned by a couple who met in Hawaii while working in a restaurant there, AJA (Named after a Steely Dan Album...).

Kudos to you who know what a Steely Dan is...that was one of the trivia questions at Mike and I's wedding fest, including what was the original name of the band, Buffalo Springfield?

I thought maybe when I got back home, that I would feel that post-vacation depression, but that didn't happen and I think it is because I have a whole year ahead of me to "make things right" for me and that's an adventure...that is how I explained it to my therapist...

And for you that follow my other blog (my cats blog)

you know that there are new kittens to keep me entertained and that feels right, too. Before they arrived, I found myself thinking I wasn't too excited about their arrival, but realized that those feelings were due to some of the health issues the last litter had--upper respiratory infection in a kitten I had sold that infected the whole cat family of this wonderful couple who already have one cat from me.

The kittens are a week old now and doing great and if you'd like to see photos...

Here's some of my vacation photos, for your viewing pleasure...

Photo for Mom (the bird silhouette on the window behind me is so birds don't fly into the window)

Me in front of one of my favorite shops

My mom's cat, Bella, sheltered from the rain

Me, at the Grants Pass Grange Co-Op

Fog and Rain..almost every day I was there, 
 I love what it does to the mountains, layers of clouds & mist

After Christmas Feast clean up, courtesy of Iona

Sugar Plums, my contribution to the Seasonal Feast...that and Mojitos!

Birdhouse in the Pines...

Christmas Tree lights, taken with the "Fireworks" setting on my camera

My sis and her hubby...have another Mojito!

Bella, under the tree

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Are You Happy? My State of Mind in 2009

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 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 "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 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.

Sunday, August 9, 2015