Muse-inks: Treading water


Hello again, writerly peeps.

I’ve really been too ambitious in my goals this year, in every aspect.

I forget to account for age.

Every year that passes alters my ability to be productive. Part of the problem is that I don’t pay attention to age. I’ve never felt the typical crises that some of my friends and family have experienced. 25, 30, 40, these milestones have passed me without much notice or angst.

But, as I age, my physical and mental health have changed. I feel more aches and pains, my anxiety and depression have influenced me differently, and my hormones are wreaking havoc.

I think that I take these things into account, modifying my goals to accomplish less, or take longer to meet a goal. Then I have a procedure—yes, I knew about it in advance, but not so far in advance that I was able to account for it in my annual planning—and it throws things out of whack. I’m not great at sudden course correction. It takes time for me to adjust.

I forget to account for changing circumstances.

When Phil and I adopted our first puppy, Zoe, I had just gotten my MA from the University of Windsor and had just finished a one-semester contract with the Cambrian College Library. I was newly unemployed and able to devote my complete attention to Zoe’s care and training.

We’d previously had cats, rats, budgies, and fish, all animals that don’t require as much time and attention.

Zoe was with us for five years, during which time I’d started to work for my current employer, but in a different position than I currently work, and part-time.

After two years, we adopted Nuala. I was still working part-time, and I was still able to devote a lot of time to Nu. I also hadn’t yet found my way to a regular writing practice. By the time I started working full-time, and writing regularly, Nu was two years old and was able to adapt to the change with no adverse behavioural results. Both of my parents were around and took care of Nu while we worked. They could get out and do what they wanted, as well. Nuala was very good when left alone. She didn’t enjoy it, but she wasn’t destructive.

Nuala was with us for ten years, and we again waited for two years to look at adoption again.

With Torvi, while I was able to take a six week leave, I’m generally working full-time, as is Phil. My dad passed away during Nuala’s time with us and now my mom takes care of her during the day alone.

Torvi’s training and raising has had to be shared between Phil, me, and Mom, with assistance from Phil’s mom and a family friend. This generally means that we’re, all of us, tied to home. We haven’t felt that we can leave Torvi completely alone yet, and so my mom’s given up her volunteering, for the most part, we haven’t gone out together, even to dinner, and it’s made for some stir crazy among Torvi’s three primary caretakers.

The big test coming up is my impending trip to Toronto in March. I hope Phil survives.

Phil’s also been having some challenges with his employment, which I’m not at liberty to share. It’s not my story. But it’s meant that he’s had additional pressures on him and he hasn’t been as able to deal with the bitey beast.

So, our household has been in a bit of a mess.

Torvi’s been making progress, but we got her younger than any other pup, and she’s so much larger—she’s already the size of Zoe when she was full grown—that it’s been quite challenging to teach her the behaviour we want her to exhibit.

Verbal reprimands are interpreted as invitations to play. She will do what we ask for kibs or other treats, but only then. She’s still so excited when people return, or when she meets new people, we practically have to sit on her to keep her down. She’s strong. Our morning walks are decent, but the time will soon arrive when I won’t be able to use the harness anymore. She’ll be able to haul me around if something freaks her out or catches her fancy. Our training sessions with the Halti have so far not been successful.

It’s all a work in progress. Eventually, we know she will become the dog we’re training her to be, but experience tells us that time won’t arrive for a year to eighteen months.

The result of all this is that I’m not getting as much writing done as I’d hoped.

I’m dealing with it. As one of my writing mentors, Gabriela Pereira says, I have to honour my reality. Things are what they are. I have to accept that there are going to be more days than not that I can’t accomplish what I’d hoped to. Eventually, our situation will improve.

Here she is, “helping Grandma with the laundry.” The bottle was empty, headed for the recycling bin. And yes, I took it away from her before she got at its scant contents. It was just a cute moment I had to capture. Also notice the new, heavy-duty harness. The white stitching is reflective for safety.

Already, Phil’s employer is taking action to improve his circumstances, but it’s not going to be a quick fix, and, as with any complex situation, things will get worse before they get better. There is now the hope that they will get better, though.

With that pressure eased, and Torvi’s continued improvement, we plan to take back our lives to some degree. Phil’s slowly cleaning up the basement, which, because his main hobby involves computers as well as his job, was a mine field of hazardous materials. We’re going to give her more of a run of the house. We’re going to try going out to dinner and see what kind of destruction she causes.

Once Torvi has her final vaccinations, I’m going to start taking her out to places where I can give her a bit of a run, or at least a long enough walk that she’ll get her “ya-ya’s” out. I’m going to start taking her places in the car—short trips at first, then gradually longer ones—so we can overcome her motion sickness.

But each stage is going to be an adjustment. Each change will present new challenges. My goals will have to be amended accordingly. And I’m going to have to become more agile again, something that becomes more difficult with each passing year.

Winter is also a hard time for me. I want to hibernate, like a bear, and wake up when spring arrives.

These are all parts of my current reality that I have to recognize and honour.

I’m working on it. In the meantime, I’m treading water. Endurance, I have 🙂

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks

Advertisements