Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Strands of Wisdom

Sylvan Dale Ranch, CO
In 2003, I followed a hunch and went out to Colorado for a week-long workshop / retreat called the Web of Wisdom. It was a good hunch to follow. The workshop (all women, except for Roscoe the border collie) was taught by Maria Gamori, following the work of Virginia Satir.

From there, I learned about family rules - and how following rules that once helped to survive doesn't always work for happy healthy living in the present. I learned to change some of the family rules I still unknowingly followed, and today, am a more balanced person because of it.

This past weekend, I went back to Colorado for a three day version of the workshop, called Strands of the Web, taught by women who have learned from Maria and from Steven Young, also a disciple of Virginia's. As before, I wasn't sure exactly why I was going, or what I hoped to find when I got there, but as before, I'm glad I went.

Last year was hard. Very hard.

They held the workshop at a ranch near Loveland, CO. Though not far from town, it felt secluded; hushed. I was able to tell my story to women who listened. They didn't try to fix anything - I think the experience is still a bit raw for fixing - they just listened and heard. I was able to take some time to sit by the stream and breathe. Though February, the weekend was warm enough to feel the promise of spring to come as I nestled between rocks, out of the wind, in the warmth of the sun.

Stop.  Breathe.  Relax.

Oh, yeah.

I'd almost forgotten I knew how to do that. For the first time in a long time, I felt a sense of Peace; a sense that I will have enough strength to see this through.

Goddess Is.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Cancaversary #4

Arizona, 2012
Four years.

Four years since my on-purpose life detour ran into my definitely-not-on-purpose life detour and took a sharp turn.

There's no evidence the cancer has returned - to the contrary, the effects of that damn shot FINALLY wore off in October (fifteen months later - I mean, really???!!!), and my energy levels have returned to normal. It's now possible for me to feel rested again. I still have a lot of catching up to do; I'm way out of shape, but I can exercise again. I can sleep soundly again. I can stay up past ten again - as long as I don't do it more than once a week. I have energy to cook again. Energy to see my friends once in a while. I like this better. much better.

I still take Tamoxifen; I'll be on it for another year, then I'll be switched to one of the other kill-the-estrogen drugs. I'm not looking forward to that - I've tolerated the Tamoxifen well, and I have several friends who have had trouble with the other drugs. But, as long as the side effects aren't as bad as those from that damn shot, I'll deal.

Speaking of cancaversaries, it's been one year since Kate's initial surgery, which was way scarier for me than mine was.

She, too, is on the mend. Treatment (except for Tamoxifen) is done, she is healing. Cancer treatments do not affect people equally - she was on the oh-shit-did-anyone-see-the-truck-that-just-hit-me end of the scale. It's been a long and slow road back. She's lost a year; her brain is still foggier than she'd like - but her cancer is also not in evidence. She is healing, she is healing, she is healing. (I can feel the stress and worry ease again and still as I type those words.) The storm is past for now; the damage is being repaired. **sigh of relief**

I have a friend who also had breast cancer; we were talking last week about how most of those who have been through it want to compare notes. She doesn't. She figures that since there's not a knee replacement support group, or one for high blood pressure, she doesn't need one for her itty bitty cancer that was treated and is gone. It didn't kill her, so she's moved on. She makes me laugh. I wish I could be more like her in this; she has a good point.

I wasn't consciously thinking about this anniversary as it approached - but the calendar coming 'round again does explain why I've been yearning for my camper van. Most of me is pretty darn content with where I've landed, but there's a part of my heart that dreams, still, of days where the only agenda was to find another place of beauty to appreciate. Days without an alarm clock, without a schedule. Days when I went where the wind took me.

God willin' and the crick don't rise, those days will come again.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Found Dogs

Joe has been looking for a house for some time. Unfortunately, the houses in his price range in this area are few and far between, but last week, another possibility landed on the market and we went over to give it a look-see. It has potential, and as we were standing around outside talking to the agent after walking through, a blond woman in a white car drove by and asked if we'd seen two small dogs wandering. She seemed worried; as she drove off, I felt bad that we couldn't help, but didn't think any more of it as we concluded our conversation and started on our way home.

We drove about six blocks - and saw two little dogs running loose.  Those had to be the same ones the woman was looking for - but we hadn't gotten any information from her. So, I got out of the truck to follow the dogs while Joe and Rita-Marie starting circling back around the neighborhood, trying to find the woman who was trying to find the dogs.

The dogs weren't wearing collars, and had no intentions of letting me scoop them up, so I followed them for several blocks while Joe continued the patrol. The dogs left the street, and went off on a park trail, which led to a dead-end point, with me still on their heels. When they got to the point, one of them just sat down, lost, tired, discouraged. The other kept looking back at me - not trusting, but too tired to try to get away. I sat down, and talked to them, moved in some, repeated until I was close enough to reach out and pet one of them. He showed no signs of aggression, so after a few more minutes I scooped him up and started back down the path, hoping the other would follow, which it did. The sun was near to setting, Joe and Rita hadn't had any luck, so we took the dogs back to my house.

That didn't go so well. My cats are generally pretty tolerant of dogs, but not these two.  By morning, the cats were firmly encamped upstairs, unwilling to come down. I didn't want to mess things up with them (I'd be cleaning up cat pee for the next six months), so I set off Monday night to bring the little guys to the animal shelter. I didn't want to do it - I was afraid they'd separate the clearly bonded dogs who would then be even more afraid, and that they'd adopt them out before we could track down the woman in the white car.

I'd sent out notices on the old neighborhood email list, and on NextDoor - a neighborhood general news site - hoping that while I didn't know anyone up in the neighborhood where we found the dogs, that someone else would and so social media could work its magic. There were two women who picked up the torch - one with a lot of contacts in the local animal rescue organizations (Melissa), another who just wanted to help (Susanne).

I'd kept them both up to date, and Susanne sent me a message as I arrived at the shelter, offering to foster the dogs until their owner could be found. So, I stopped halfway through the intake process, loaded them back up and headed for her place - dog heaven. She dog-sits at times - within fifteen minutes they were more at ease at her place than they'd been at mine the previous night. I left them there, knowing they were in good hands.

In the meantime, Melissa was hard at work. She was checking all sorts of found pet sites I've never heard of, contacting the pug rescue group, in case their owners never showed up, putting up fliers in the neighborhood where I found the dogs.

No collars, no chips - if it wasn't for the knowledge of the woman in the white car, we might have quit looking then and there.

The next evening, Susanne called me - the dogs were marking all over her house; she had been thinking about keeping them, but doesn't have the time to housebreak a pair of older dogs. She was going to keep them through the weekend, but Monday, back to the shelter they'd have to go. (That's more than I'd have been willing to do - if they'd have been doing that at my place, they'd have been gone the next day!) The next morning, she called again. Those little guys had wormed their way into her heart - she was talking about getting them fixed; laying in a supply of doggie diapers, taking them in to see if they had some sort of infection causing the behavior. I had to smile.

Then, the next morning, Melissa emailed - she'd found a post on one of the sites that was definitely describing our little friends. Solo and Arlow (Susanne had been calling them Thing 1 and Thing 2 - from the Dr. Seuss books) had escaped their backyard. Their owner was heartbroken, searching high and low for her beloved pets. Susanne called her right away, and she came to pick the dogs up as soon as she got off work that evening. (It was the same lady I'd seen in the white car.) Contrite, thrilled her babies were safe, she promised to get them collars and chips so this could never happen again. (She'd already found and fixed the gap in the fence where they'd gotten out.)

Our team had gotten our little friends home.

I just love a story with a happy ending!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Working from Home

Now that we're all used to our new jobs, and the realities of the new budget year have set in, my two teammates have been grounded in their respective home cities.  I went into the office for a while after they'd left, but it was quiet.  too quiet.  No one to talk to but me - and I can talk to myself just fine without having to commute for 30 to 45 minutes each way.

So, I asked around some to see what the telecommute policy was.  Turns out, it's pretty liberal - show up once a week-ish, and they're happy.  They're far more concerned about you getting your work done and being available for assorted conference calls than they are about where your keister is parked during the work day.


Things I like about working from home (in no particular order):

  • looking out the window at the muck and grime, and knowing I don't have to drive in it.
  • every day is jeans day!
  • getting to drink my coffee from a mug instead of a to-go cup
  • working a long day, turning off the computer, and being able to just turn around and announce, 'I'm home!'
  • being able to schedule various and assorted home care appointments without having to worry about them running late or me getting stuck in traffic trying to get home to meet them there
  • getting an extra fifteen minutes to sleep in every morning
  • getting a kick start on my work day.  I tend to have a good productive period in the morning that starts around 7 and goes until 10.  My mind is clear, and it's a good time to finish working through the problems my subconscious was mulling during the night. If I drive in, I lose a good half of that time to commuting and settling in.
  • being able to brew me some tea to help me stay awake during long conference calls - I just turn up the volume, and I can hear the conversation just fine from the kitchen; I don't have to miss a beat.
  • having a window seat - I can't see a window from my cube in the land of beige...
  • lunchtime clear-my-head walks around the park
and then, when I do go in, I don't mind it so much.  It's a nice change of pace.

Yup.  No complaints about working from home from me...