Sunday, August 10, 2014

Soul Sister Playlist

Every so often I meet someone that I feel an instant, deep connection with and we become fast friends.  I felt that connection with this particular friend just from exchanging messages through an online forum website.  When we finally met in person it felt like we'd known each other forever and decided we were Soul Sisters.  She is both a lot like me and all the  things I wish I was more like.

We love music and music played a big roll in a road trip we took together.  Sometimes a song plays that makes me wish she were in the passenger seat next to me because we would be belting it out at the top of our lungs and others it's the lyrics that remind me of her.  Some of them make me think of her for no good reason at all.

This is Shayla's Playlist:

1) Soul Sister (by Train)
2) I'm Into You (by Jennifer Lopez)
3) Play My Music (by Jonas Brothers)
4) Ain't It Fun (by Paramour)
5) Neon Lights (by Natasha Bedingfield)
6) Right As Rain (by Adele)
7) Oh! (by Eric Hutchinson)
8) Same Love (by Macklemore)
9) Keep Your Head Up (by Andy Grammar)
10) Virtual Insanity (by Jamiroquai)
11) You Are The Sunshine In My Life (by Stevie Wonder)
12) Lean On Me (by Bill Withers)
13) A Lot Like Magic (by Josh Rouse)
14) Walkin' On Sunshine (by Katrina)
15) Human Nature (by Michael Jackson)
16) Don't Stop Believing (by Journey)
17) Can't Hold Us (by Macklemore)
18) Move On Up (by Lettuce)
19) Point of No Return (from Phantom of the Opera)
20) Cameo Lover (by Kimbra)
21) One Less Problem (by Ariana Grande) - this would make one killer stiletto stompin' dance routine. ;)
22) Will I Find (by Cas Haley)
23) All About The Bass (by Meghan Trainor)
24) Let It Go (from Frozen)
25) For Good (from Wicked)
26) Happy (by Pharrel)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saying Goodbye

There are so many things I want to write down so I can remember all the best things about being Zen's lucky human for the last 12 years, it's just hard to know where exactly to start.

I spent the better part of more than 7 hours off and on in varying stages of crying, today my face feels like someone took a cheese grater to it.  I think there was a part of me that knew the day was going to end the way it did but I was in denial, hoping as hard as I could that we would be able to have more time with her.

About 3 weeks ago she suddenly started showing signs of a UTI, easy enough to treat and not too concerning.  She'd always been so healthy and hadn't even seen a vet in years.  At the end of 2 weeks of antibiotics we took her back for a recheck and I opted to drop her off for a dental cleaning.  It was included basically for free in the health care package we signed her up for.  I figured she'd never had one before and given her age it was a now or never decision.  She was fine for a few days then her usually voracious appetite started waning.  Clif and I went out of town for the weekend, when we came home we learned she'd barely been eating and had thrown up what little she had gotten down.  She went back to the vet where they discovered an unbalance in her digestive flora (overgrowth of cocci).  She went back on a different antibiotic for a week.  At first it looked like she might start improving a little.  She'd lost a bit of weight, wasn't eating more than a few bites of tuna at a time and started looking like she'd aged 5 years overnight.  I kept thinking it must be the antibiotics making her feel unwell and her not eating was just making her weak.  After all, her blood work and everything else we'd checked had been perfect, I was sure we'd get past this once the antibiotics were finished.

Earlier this week I resorted to syringe feeding her baby food as she'd pretty much stopped eating anything on her own.  Even table offerings of pork or chicken, which she usually inhaled the second it hit the floor, wasn't enough to entice her.  She felt so fragile when I held her, just skin and bones.  Her eyes were cloudy and her inner eyelid wasn't fully retracting any more the way it should.  She'd struggle to adjust herself, to change position or get up to walk.  Her entire body would sway when she stood and she'd drift towards the wall or stumble as she moved.  Night before last Clif brought her to bed to lay with me.  A little while later she went to jump off and fell.  When I looked over the bed she was just laying there, sprawled where she'd fallen.  That was the hardest thing to see.  Sometime in the middle of the night she tried to come back, went to her little foot stool and tried to make the short hop up onto the mattress but she fell again.  She righted herself and went to come up a second time, that time I caught her and set her at the foot of the bed.  On a trip to the bathroom not long after that I saw she hadn't moved an inch and I thought I'd already lost her.  When I came back to bed I pulled her up to sleep on my body pillow by my stomach so I could feel her and pet her for the rest of the night.  Yesterday morning I begged Clif to take her back to the vet.

Around 2:30 in the afternoon I got the dreaded call: Zen's kidney values had been perfect two weeks ago but were now through the roof.  Not only was she in acute renal failure, it was so sudden and severe.  She also had a heart murmur that, while not impacting her other health concerns, would make it incredibly difficult to give her the type of fluid therapy she would need, and even then it was just a temporary solution to try to make her feel better, possibly enough that she'd be interested in eating.  In other words it was risky, it might not work and if it did it would probably only buy a little bit of time.  I knew that it would be a selfish, unfair choice to make.  Two of my closest, dearest friends are also veterinarians, so I called them for emotional support and their advice on my decision.  While mine and Clif's choice to make, sometimes it helps to have someone else's support that you're doing the right thing.

I drove home to meet Clif and Jed who were coming along to the clinic.  Clif opted not to come in to say goodbye, which I understood and respect.  Jed came to sit with me and spend some time with her as he'd been living with her almost as long as I have.  Zen could hardly pick her head up off the table and she'd meow every now and then.  She seemed so tired and not at all the same cat she'd been a few weeks ago.  Her discomfort was clear and I kept telling myself we were doing the right thing for her and she'd be thankful.  it came time for the drugs and I asked Jed if I could be with her for that alone.  He didn't want to be there for that part anyway.  I'd been with my fair share of other people's beloved pets for their last stage, it didn't seem right for me not to be there for my own girl.  I think that was one of the hardest things I've done, but she'd always been there for me so I would be there for her until the end.

She will come home to me in a small wooden box in a few weeks and I'll keep her somewhere that Clif won't freak out about.  It will bring me some peace and comfort still having her near.

For a lot of people a pet is just an animal.  They live shorter lives, come and go, sometimes in multiples, over several years and can be somewhat of a flash in the pan.  For me Zen was my first child.  She brought me peace, comfort, joy and unconditional, unquestioning love.  She was a true member of the family and as much as me bringing her home may have seemed like I was the one saving her, it was really the other way around.


-Zen came to me as Fen, the name she'd gotten from her previous owner's ex-wife.  He brought her into the clinic I was working at wanting to put her down because she belonged to his ex-wife.  The clinic was a bit of a powerhouse when it came to their revolving door of treating patients and I was worried the doctor would concede to his request.  I knew I couldn't take her for a month, when I'd be moving out of my sister's house, but I could take her and foster her if he could just wait that long.  He agreed and almost threw her in my car before peeling out of the parking lot, never even signing over her medical records.  As a result we never knew exactly how old she was.

-She had originally been free-fed and had the extra weight to show for it.  I decided to feed her twice a day but the morning she started meowing and throwing herself at my bedroom door at 4:30 in the morning was the last day she got breakfast and her food doubled up at dinner time.

-A few hours before dinner time Zen would start making the rounds, looking for plastic bags to lick incessantly, knowing it drove us crazy and hoping it meant we would get up to feed her earlier.  Some days it was a serious battle of wills.

-She would always sit on her haunches with her right back foot poking out to the side.

-It never failed, whenever I'd sit at my computer she'd come up from under my desk, jump on the CPU and make her way to sit between my hands.  Sometimes it was annoying and I'd have to move her, most of the time I was glad for her company, though it made it harder to type.

-She purr-meowed and I'd respond.  It was one of my favorite sounds in the world, especially the abridged murmur version she gave when I'd wake her up from napping by touching her.

-Zen was Alpha of the house.  She could sit in the middle of the doorway from the kitchen to the sun room and the dogs would refuse to come through to go outside.

-Thayer loved to mess with her and they would do this kitty-drama posturing act, often throughout the house.  He would squat his hind end and raise a paw, meowing as if saying "I'm going to swat at you, ok?" and she would crouch, facing sideways to him and hiss.  They would move at a snails pace in these exact positions, once I saw them go all the way from our bedroom to the kitchen.

-She loooooooved having her face and head scratched, usually the harder or rougher the better.

-Some nights at bedtime she would jump up in bed with me and I'd pick her up and position her on my chest.  She would settle down with drowsy eyes, purring like crazy.  I'd rub her face with my thumbs and she'd lick them alternately then use them to wash her own face.  That was one of my favorite bedtime habits.

-I called her Hoogie, almost more often than I called her Zen.  I don't know why.

-She was a Siamese/muted calico mix (as best as we could figure) so she had these amazing blue eyes and incredible coloring that included a near perfect stripe of patter difference from the center of her face down to the middle of her back.  She was one of the most beautiful cats I'd ever seen.

-Zen LOVED the wood fire.  We tried to always keep one of her beds in front of it, even if we didn't she'd be there.  Sometimes she'd sit right against the screen, cooking herself in ecstasy.

-One of the things I will miss the most is a warm lap, she could spend hours there with me and I was more than happy to let her.

I feel like there is so much that I'm missing.  If and as I remember things I'll come back and add them here so I can always remember the best parts of her.

-Our very large dog bed has a perfect Zen-sized dip right in the center of it, she loved and shamelessly commandeered it.  Many times Kenya and Teva napped on the floor while Zen dozed happily in their spot.

-As she lost weight from a healthier diet her apron (extra tummy skin) grew.  Whenever she ran down the hall it would wag back and form like a living floor Swifter.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Groove

One of my co-workers is borrowing a bit from his home-town radio station where every Friday the station receptionist hosts a segment called Friday Funk, highlighting a different 70s funk song each week.  He's asked a handful of us if we'd be interested in playing along, and while my repotire of 70s funk is far from extensive I was certainly game to participate, especially since alphabetically I got to go first so I wouldn't have to worry about finding something new if my first pick was already taken.

Behold my contribution to our first office installment of Friday Funk:

Get your Friday (Funky) Groove on!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Groove

What?  Two Friday Grooves in a row?!  Shocking!!! To celebrate today is a double groove kind of day to share two of my current favorites.

I never expected I'd be enjoying Macklemore as much as I am but dude really owns some word action.  I'm loving this beat and it's been my pick me up this week, inspiring me greatly when I'm feeling defeated.  Also, who can argue with wolves, men riding camels, kilt-wearing brass players, pirate ship parties and more?

It is also as good a time as any to admit it: I like country music.  I've only just started watching Nashville out of curiosity and am not only enjoying it, I'm LOVING the music, this one in particular.  It's a great calm-down counter after breaking through the roof.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Realistic Expectations

I am one of those people that sometimes has dreams that are a touch on the vivid/detail-oriented side.  Oh, here, allow me to hand back the eyeballs that rolled clean out of the heads of those of you who know my dreaming tendencies at that slight understatement.  If it were possible to smell colors in dreamland I'd win the gold medal.

A couple of weeks ago I woke with a striking memory of my dream.  This is not uncommon for me, I can remember dreams I had in grade school, but more often than not I lay in bed thinking about the dream with absolutely no earthly idea what was going on in my subconscious to have conjured the often epic levels of crazy.  This one, however, I understood completely and spent the rest of my day, and several days since, analyzing.

It started with some kind of shenannigans about stepping in to chaperone a youth trip to an amusement park.  I was happy to go, of course, but the last minute nature of the request made me feel unprepared and confused.  I became more confused when I learned that before we could leave we needed to wait until the end of a dance workshop I was urged to attend.  I found myself in a giant ballroom packed with women in various work out and dance attire and hip scarves.  About half of the women were sitting at tables placed around the back of the room while the other half were up in the front participating in a beginner belly dance work shop.  I found myself with that group, feeling like I was quite easily understanding and performing the simple, basic movements.  Soon it was time for the groups to switch and I quickly noticed the second group was for more advanced students, working on combinations and routine embellishments.  I felt a bit confused and oddly hurt, thinking I must have been accidentally put in the wrong group.  I noticed some friends that were in the second group, but none of them spoke up for me to join them.  I moved to the very back of the room where I could watch the lesson going on and try it quietly.  I got consumed with the movements and found myself practicing a spinning skill I had discovered.  I did it over and over, pushing myself to keep the spin for longer and longer, trying to perfect the foundation and control.  Suddenly the instructor of the workshop noticed me and stopped her class, bringing everyone's attention to me in my quiet corner.  She came to stand in front of me and lectured the entire room about how their dancing should never be about a one-trick pony, how they needed to learn variety and emotion to become excellent dancers.  I was mortified at being unfairly chastised and tried to tell her I could do what she was teaching, even following the moves she was demonstrating as she used me to prove some point, but she wouldn't see me, and no one spoke up...

The little title under my profile for this blog is "Jill of all Trades", which is sort of accurate, but not exactly.  To me calling someone a Jack of all trades is implying they are proficient or experts at a number of skills.  I am not much of an expert on anything, though I my range of skills, interests, and hobbies is vast and varied.  Capoeira, swing dancing, belly dancing, photography, gaming, knitting, crafting, scuba diving, ren fair-ing, first aiding, garden/landscaping, etc... I love all of the hobbies I participate in and can't imagine having to give any of them up.  The problem is in many ways they all suffer as a result.  To completely excel at a task I think you have to be completely committed, give time and dedication to honing a specific set of skills.  I don't have to the time, energy or will to sacrifice other things I love to pursue just one, and so in that regard I'll never perfect any of them.

I used to feel more frustration about this than I do now.  Getting older, that "maturity" business, helps keep things in perspective and understand the hows and whys of life.  Obviously if you don't focus on perfecting something, you won't perfect it.  I've come to that place of understanding and I'm thankful for it, though I still have my moments of struggle.

In addition to not having the refined physical skill to excel in most of these activities, the social interactions that are associated with them also suffer.  It's harder to be as close to a group of friends that are dedicated to one activity when you're constantly flitting from one to another.  I think that is the most difficult for me to handle.  I'm built the way I'm built and too far gone to come around to some star-quality physicality for any of these activities, but feeling like I'm on the outside of all the social groups I frequent still hurts, and I fear always will.  I'm present enough to join in the festivities but not enough to notice when I'm missing.  Glad to be a part of the activities I can be, but disheartened when I miss out on the opportunity to join more, even if I can't make it all the time.  Sad at discovering a group of friends has gone out to have a good time and I missed getting an invitation.

Now, this is NOT a pity party.  Several years ago it may very well have been, but today I can write these feelings from a much stronger, more level headed and understanding place.  It's been an incredible exercise to break myself down, look at all the places I excel and fail and try to think of ways to change the things I don't like.  One of those is my horrible ability to reach out to those I love.  Between a phone-centric day job, an ever rotating list of things that keep my busier than a one-armed paper hanger and that 50% Introvert part of me that needs alone time to recharge I have a hard time doing my part to work against feeling left out.  I realize that as my flaw and know that it is a fairly engrained part of me that will possibly always be difficult for me to try to overcome, but I'll never not want to try.

The physical perfection I will never have, but the efforts to build and support my structure of friends and loved ones, to be more involved and less lazy, I will always strive to maintain and improve.  I'm thankful for the personal growth I've had to be able to be in this place and glad for a dream that truly opened my eyes.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Liebster Award

I just noticed this link in a comment to my last blog here and while I don't know anything about it except what I read on the nominator Trish's blog (This Girl's Messy Head), I thought it would be a fun exercise and wave back of thanks.   Sorry, Trish, TOTALLY stealing your formatting b/c I'm lazy like that. ;)

Here is a little rundown in case you're wondering what receiving the Liebster Award entails:

  • Thank the blogger who presented you with the Liebster Award, and link back to his or her blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions from the nominator; list 11 random facts about yourself, and create 11 questions for your nominees.
  • Present the Liebster Award to 11 bloggers, who have blogs with 200 followers or less, whom you feel deserve to be noticed.  Leave a comment on the blogs letting the owners know they have been chosen. (No tag backs.)
  • Upload the Liebster Award image to your blog.

    Here are my answers for Trish's 11 questions:

    1.  What motivated you to start a blog? The blog started as a place for me to log all the crazy dreams and sleep walking stories I've gathered through the years.  I've yet to spend much time posting about them yet, I got distracted by other ramblings.

    2.  Where would you go if you could travel anywhere for a week? Ireland, Scotland, Australia, Bora Bora, Germany... I have a fairly long wish list.

    3.  What is your favorite time of day and why? Bed time because it's often the most peaceful part of my day, curled up in bed with a book, my hubby and often times any number of our 4 fur children.  That much love and contentment in one place is pretty wonderful.

    4.  Do you have pets? If so, what kind? I do!  I've even dedicated an entire post to our babies.

    5.  Do you regularly clean under your couch or do you only clean it when you realize how disgusting it is underneath? Oh, goodness... Every so often it gets moved and I am horrified by the creatures that are trying to spawn underneath it, and every time I SWEAR I will clean under it more often but I never seem to remember.

    6.  What is your least favorite thing about getting older? Aches, pains, pops, cracks; basically my body putting up more of a fight (or less, depending on how you look at it).

    7.  What is your most favorite thing about getting older? Confidence, for sure.

    8.  What is your favorite expletive to use?  If you don't curse, what is your favorite alternate word to use in place of an expletive? I try to maintain clean language, but toss in a 'shiz' or 'frack' when 'golly gee' just doesn't cut it.

    9.  What is your favorite charity and why? I don't think I have one in particular, there are so many great causes.  Certainly anything that benefits animals, children or abused women who need a chance to get their feet back on solid ground are top contenders.

    10.  What is the best advice you've ever been given? Any that comes with a finishing line of, "but I'll love and support you, whatever your decision is".

    11.  What is the worst advice you've ever been given? Any that is contrary to who I am and what I wish to accomplish: in other words advice given by someone who doesn't know me at all.
    Here are the 11 bloggers I've nominated for the Liebster Award:

    11. Obviously I need to read more blogs...

    Here are my 11 questions for the nominees:

    1. If you won the lottery, what would you do with the winnings?

    2. Describe your ultimate dream home.

    3. Do you garden, if so what do you plant?

    4. If you could pick any person in the world to have dinner with, who would it be?

    5. You've won a $100,000 shopping spree at the store of your choice.  Where is it going to be?

    6. What is your favorite holiday and why?

    7. What are your best traits?

    8. Which traits would you most like to improve?  

    9. What would your ideal job be?

    10. Favorite book or movie?

    11. What is your favorite way to unwind and relax?