Therapy dog retirement

About a month ago, sweet Tonks did her last visit as an official therapy dog. We visited for two years at UNC Hospital and before that for two years at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Through it all, Tonks has been a master therapy dog. She tunes into what people need, expertly goes from person to person in groups, and seems to take pride in her work. I am so proud of the training that she and I did together to be able to work as a therapy team for four years.

We’re hanging up our therapy badge, based on a few minor aging-related issues that Tonks is experiencing—cataracts and stiff joints—and due to the difficulty of being re-evaluated, which you have to do every two years. But she continues to give out therapy to people we meet on the street or sitting on the lawn at the bar, and I know that won’t ever stop. No one can resist the fur!

Enjoying retirement on the couch

Enjoying retirement on the couch

Prioritizing self care

Growing a person is no joke. Between feeling sick for nearly two months and daily reminders that my body is no longer solely in my control (lately in the form of clothes that fit last week no longer being an option), I am being forced to tune into this pregnancy. And I want to tune in and not just respond to forces of nature (or to having borderline high blood pressure at several prenatal appointments), but sometimes it just feels hard. So this week I’ve put a new plan in place to give me more time for focus on myself. With packing my lunch+snacks at night, 30 minutes earlier bedtimes and wake-ups, and listening to a guided meditation on the bus, I’ve gotten a much better start to my days this week. When I take the early bus, there is no chance of having to share a seat or of a chain smoker sitting right behind me. When I get in at 7:15am, I also don’t feel bad leaving work at 4, which means I have time to go to an after work yoga class or that I don’t have to stand on my second bus home because it’s less crowded. Then I’m home earlier and can have a snack while I prepare a healthier dinner than all the frozen pizza we’ve been eating (most days, at least). It’s not too much, but it’s made a huge difference already!

Pregnancy so far (Week 17)

Weeks 4-5: Excitement mixed with supreme anxiety because I didn’t feel pregnant and therefore worried that I wouldn’t stay pregnant. I foolishly wished to feel something.

Weeks 6-14: I threw up every morning until I started to take Unisom/Vitamin B6, at which point I could function but felt nauseated pretty much all day. I puked every fourth or fifth day even on the meds. I didn’t feel hungry or thirsty and ate mostly very fresh lettuce, pasta, and potatoes.

Weeks 14-17 (present): I’ve felt increasingly less nauseated over the past few weeks and have only throw up twice. I’ve also felt hungry and thirsty again, and I can eat meat now, which was problematic texture-wise earlier on.

Another striking thing about being pregnant is how quickly my body has shifted from feeling like my own to feeling not mine. Being sick contributed to this shift at the beginning. Even more, though, the comments about my body, almost none of them intended maliciously, that everyone seems to feel license to make have surprised me and left me more cognizant of trying to maintain sovereignty of myself. The whole dilemma also has me thinking about why my sense of self feels so tied to my body that it can be this disorienting to hear comments about it.

Enjoying lately

Sharing good news. I’m 13 weeks pregnant! We just made a big announcement via email to family and friends, and all the love and support has poured in. How wonderful to have so many people offer prayers, thoughts, and good wishes to us as we embark on this life phase. I’m excited to write more about pregnancy and [future] parenting in this space, too. Right now we’re calling the fetus “Plum,” and I think that name will stick for the blog.

Teaching yoga. I’ve mentioned here before that I finished my prenatal yoga teacher training at the end of May, and that I was scheduled to start teaching a weekly class at the end of June. So that date came and went, and no students showed up then or for the next several weeks. But now, I’ve had three weeks in a row of having two students in my class, and I LOVE teaching. It challenges me intellectually, and I really enjoy sharing yoga (and now life experiences!) with pregnant ladies.

The Good Wife. My friend, Sarah, raved about this show for years, but I didn’t start watching it until last week. It. is. so. fab. It’s compelling and thoughtful and most of the episodes we’ve watched so far pass the Bechdel Test. I’ve gotten Hubs into it now, and we are working our way through the first season. It’s available on Amazon Prime and Hulu for streaming.

Mandala Magic. On a whim, I signed up for an online class from artist Alisa Burke called Mandala Magic. The class was just what I needed to get started on this creative, meditative practice. Mandalas are geometric shapes that radiate out from a center point. I so enjoy drawing them as I watch TV, listen to audiobooks, or take it easy on the weekends. It’s way better than playing phone games and has also inspired me to learn more about mandala creation as a spiritual practice.

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Where I’m from

I am from a baby blanket named “Bee,” a whole bag of chips eaten on the way home from the grocery store, and piles of dress up clothes.

I am from the big Texas sky, the smell of pine needles on a hot day.

I am from singing in public and thinking about how your actions affect others, from Randy, Marnie, Lolly, and Ann, Ruth, Jane, and Mary, and always staying to help clean up.

I am from easily angered and can’t hold a grudge.

From “we believe government should take care of people” and somewhere on the Bell curve.

I am from the Congregationalists and Unitarian Universalists, who see God in each person.

I am from Western Europe via Texas, Christmas morning caramel pecan rolls, and ramen noodles.

From the dad who was willing to catch my puke in his hands, the psychologist mom who became a yogi, and the sister who so proudly marches to the beat of her own drum.

I am from all the rooms in all the houses of the people in my family who hang onto things, “just in case.”

We did this exercise as part of my prenatal yoga teacher training. It was a lovely way, in our small group of seven (six students and one teacher), to learn about each other and ourselves. Read the original poem, or get the template.

Rose, thorn, & bush

When I worked as a camp counselor, we sometimes played a game with the kids during evening circle time called “Rose, thorn, & bush.” Each person got to share a rose (great thing about their day), thorn (hard thing about their day), and bush (random thing about their day). I’m bringing it here because I can’t seem to get to the place where I’m inspired to share a fully formed post about some thoughtful topic. Here we go…

Rose: I finished a fantastic prenatal yoga teacher training this past weekend. I love, love, love regular yoga, but learning to share it with women in their childbearing year was EVEN BETTER. I so enjoyed my dear classmates and teachers, and our final time together felt more like a slumber party than training. I also think that the way my personal practice looks (gentle, restorative, introspective) lines up really well with being able to share it with mamas. I begin teaching a prenatal class on Sunday nights at 7:30 on June 21, and I am psyched out of my mind!

Thorn: I wrote a job description for a job that I wanted to have in the group where I am currently a postdoc. They created the job, interviewed me, and gave it to someone else (whose fit for the job remains to be seen). They are allowing me to stay on as a postdoc this year, doing the work that I love. But the whole situation has led to some deep, careful thoughts about what I want for my life and career, both short and long term. It’s scary and hard to do this kind of emotional work.

Bush: Temporary tattoos, folks. Like a six year old, I am so into them right now. So much less commitment, but just as cool as the real thing. They’re not just the cartoonish, gumball machine prizes of our youth anymore either. Tattly and Tattify are just two companies that have amazing, grown-up designs. My high school BFF came in town, and we totally fooled a few people with these beauties:


Do you have a rose, thorn, and bush?

Enjoying lately

The Pacific Northwest. We’ve been on vacation since Saturday, May 2, enjoying family, the outdoors, and food. We started in Washougal, WA, headed to Portland, then Bend, and now we’re in Seattle. It’s back to Portland tomorrow before heading back home to NC early Tuesday morning. There’s not much better than being mostly off the hook responsibility-wise and enjoying amazing scenery and food with loved ones.

DogVacay. The last time Tonks came home from being boarded at the vet, she had barked so much that her bark was hoarse. In preparation for our current trip, we needed to find a different solution. Through the DogVacay website, which is essentially airbnb for dogs, we found a dog sitter, who is taking care of Tonks in her home. So the pup is living like a queen, sleeping on their couch, and getting taken out for potty breaks every hour. The dog sitter texts me photos and updates multiple times a day, and it’s the next-best thing to having Tonks with us.

Libraries. I have access to four local library catalogs (city, city, county, university), and I still use one in our former home city electronically. With all the possible places to get books for free, I can now usually get away without buying any. Because I belong to three book clubs (one in real life, two virtual) and listen to a lot of audiobooks on my bus commute, not buying books is crucial. I especially love Overdrive, the app that downloads mp3 audiobooks from the library to my phone and lets me keep them for three weeks.

ReChaco. I sent in a pair of well-loved ZX/1 Chaco sandals that I wore pretty much every day from March-October for the past four years. After re-webbing and a new sole, I effectively have a new pair. I paid for the revitalizing, but I like that I did, rather that just throwing the old ones out. I also asked for a color webbing that wasn’t pictured as available online, and I got it! Plus, it took only nine days from sending them in to getting them back.

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