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More than likely we won’t remember much about May 2012 except for grief and heartache. The finer details? The day-to-day moments? Lost in an exhausted and emotional fog. Amid the ongoing mourning, I wanted to update you on our return to blogging and on a few lessons or ideas that might help you cope in such a situation.
Starting in spring 2009, life around here got increasingly complicated with medical / health worries and looming grief on several fronts. The changes to my daily reality often feel beyond grim. I wade through life with a conscious bubble of gratitude around me. Yet, while tossing and turning the other night, I compiled a list of things I miss.
You know how I so often say I’m grateful that Lilly doesn’t have separation anxiety (among all her other fears)? (I’d like to keep it that way.) Well, we learned last Friday that there is one instance when she VERY much minds being alone. The little stinker barked and howled for one hour, 10 minutes, when I put her on our (fenced) property after our walk … while I enjoyed lunch next door with a neighbor and friend who offered to give me a break from all the stress. Lilly didn’t like it one @#$#@ bit. Lesson learned.
Ginko is still having pretty consistent trouble with his right knee (we assume). Right leg, at the very least. We keep swearing that we’ll keep him quiet, that we won’t let him run, and so on, but it is very hard with so much else going on. Since Feb 1 was conveniently on a Monday and since Feb 14 is such a BIG day (for so many … not so much for me), I hereby declare a renewed commitment to Ginko’s rest.
And, if that doesn’t seem to solve the issue, then I have some bigger decisions to make about possible diagnostics and or treatment for his two already-bad knees.
I’m not particularly the praying kind, as many of you know, but if I were to pray, to say … the Patron Saint of Confined Dogs … it might go a bit like this:
Please grant me the wisdom and patience to confine my injured dog as long as necessary for recovery. May I find the self-discipline to stick to a proven routine and not fall for his I’m-all-better-let-me-play ploys. And, may I discover the serenity to put up with all the whining, pacing, and fussing likely to occur without blowing my top.
So, one of the weird parts of being on Facebook is “friending” family members. (Yes, I was about the last person on the planet to join.) BUT, it kind of amuses me to be connected online with a couple of my cousin contemporaries. You see, there are four of us in my large Italian family that are essentially the same age. It’s kind of cool, I think. Anyway, I’m now connected with a cousin who moved from Colorado to Florida. I just laughed and laughed when I saw profile pictures of his dogs. Talk about extremes.
In an attempt to make the pre-holiday cleaning bonanza last as long as possible, I began using a squeegee on our glass doors after each shower. To me, that daily minute trumps the eons it takes to battle well-water residue later. While I try really hard not to squeak the darn thing, Lilly hates the sliding noise just as much. She barks. Ginko barks, and suddenly everyone in the house knows Mommy is out of the shower.
I cannot imagine what that sliding noise sounds like to Lilly. Is it like a whisper that freaks her out? Maybe it’s a pitch that just unsettles her, like fingernails on a chalkboard?
I suppose I could counter-condition the sound in a non-shower scenario … since it’s way too cold to dilly-dally in a real situation, but I’m not sure it’s an actual fear as much as it is just Lilly’s way of acknowledging the sound.
A revelation sprouted from the non-stop stress here at Chez Champion of My Heart. An insight into panic and frustration and fearful dogs poked me square in the noggin when I unexpectedly flipped out recently and saw the parallels to what life is often like for dear, sensitive Lilly. You know how I sometimes gripe about how Lilly’s behavior flashes and catches me off guard? Well, these days, I feel something similar come over me, and I never see it coming. Maybe that’s how it is for Lilly, too.
My generous, sympathetic friends keep asking me what they can do to help as I navigate some crazy-crazy stress. Since A) I’m not good at asking for help, and B ) I can never think of anything in the moment, I have taken up very few offers (so far).
Because here is the thing: I often don’t know what I need until the very moment I flip out and need it. And, since every single person in my life who typically fills any void on a moment’s notice is in crisis themselves (hence my own tangential crises), it leaves a girl feeling really quite alone.
Granted, I don’t fling myself to the ground and refuse to move, as Lilly is known to do. But, I do find myself being a bit short tempered, a bit impatient, and a tad moody. Perhaps our darling black-and-white girl comes to her snarkiness naturally.
And, perhaps, the same basic methods I use to keep Lilly calm and happy and functioning will work for me as well. That includes:
Since I don’t suppose anyone wants to follow me around and feed me chocolate as a reward, I’ll have to plan some breaks in advance so that I can avoid (we hope) a full-on shutdown.
This week such strategies include absolutely making time for long walks with Lilly no matter the weather or my looming work deadlines, doing some restorative yoga first thing in the morning or before dinner to realign ye old bod and sagging spirit, and scheduling little events with friends to combat this lonely girl thing I’ve got going.
I figure those things are a bit more constructive the my new urge to shop (a lot) and my usual vice … to eat (more than I should).
Friday, Lilly and I have a date with a neighbor to walk around lunchtime. We may even see if we can take Toby (the new doodle puppy in the valley) with us. I called over the other day to see if he could come along, but his family was headed out.
There is also a new spa at one of the mountain town casinos over the hill. The prices are a bit silly, but the hotel has a really good buffet, so I’m hoping to schedule massages and maybe a lunch out since both of the two-legged peeps here could use a friggin break.
When faced with prolonged and numerous caretaking responsibilities, what have you done to cope? Do tell.
Sincere thanks to loyal readers, online friends, and face-to-face pals alike for your concern over my absence in recent weeks after so many years of such regular blogging. Indeed, you can assume that gaps in my usual posting schedule mean any number of things: too busy, too stressed, too tired, etc. Each day, I think I’ll catch up. Many days, I’m just so fried that I call it quits before I manage to bleat out a post.
BUT, today is a better day, after two somewhat “normal” workdays. I have indeed made both my magazine deadlines for the month. I’ve drafted the first two posts of a new (paid) blog that’s set to launch soon, and I’ve sent a new article idea over to my editor at Bankrate.com.
So, I’m going to rough out some posts for the rest of the week, while I have time and energy. Stay tuned.