Monday, February 23, 2015

Snow in Central Virginia

Hello, dear readers. I hope you have been warm and safe wherever you are. Central Virginia has had frigid temperatures in the single digits to 0 and even below, and that’s not taking into account the wind chill. That is very unusual for our area, and some records were broken.

We also got snow Monday and Tuesday, a little snow on Wednesday, then more snow and ice on Saturday. We haven’t been out of the house more than necessary. I love winter, but even I’m looking forward to some warm sunshine. More cold is coming, though.

Here are some pictures I managed to get this week. Some were with my phone and some were with my camera through a window.


And I hope I’ll have more to say on Thursday. Sigh.

Snow falling Monday, late afternoon. The road is already covered.

Snow on the lower driveway, Saturday.

Small pine tree branch caught in the snow.

Cat prints in the snow, apparently from a neighborhood kitty. Please bring outside pets indoors when the temperatures drop!

Ice clinging to the tree branches Sunday morning.

The streets were very slick on Sunday morning.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Checking in

Hello, friends. I hope wherever you are, you are safe and warm. This wild winter weather in the U.S. is wreaking a lot of havoc. It has been very cold in my part of Virginia, and it’s supposed to start snowing later today.

Saturday night, Larry and I went out to eat for Valentine’s Day. When we drove to the restaurant, the wind was blowing fiercely. Soon after we sat down in the restaurant, we saw through the window that it had started to snow, and the wind whipped it through the air. The snow soon ended, but the roads were left slick with black ice in some areas. I’m glad Larry was driving!

I’m sorry I haven’t been around much lately to visit you. It has been a nerve-racking few weeks, but I hope things will settle down soon, and I can give you more details.

I have some decisions to make. I told you last month that I was waiting to hear about a job I applied for. I may have an announcement soon about that. Things are moving slowly, and I will be so happy to make a decision and feel more settled.


Take care of yourselves, and I plan to be back here on Thursday!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Thunder Cat

Six years ago, on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009, our Thunder Cat crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
Thunder Cat was Larry’s first cat, and I officially became his mom when Larry and I got married in 2003.
Six years after we lost him, we still miss him so much. We always will. We remind each other of his antics and his personality, and we usually end up teary.

Today I want to share photos of Thunder Cat, our Gray Boy, our Baby Boy, our Flunder, our TC. 
We love you and miss you, sweetheart, and we will see you again someday.








Monday, February 9, 2015

The worst thing ever . . . sometimes isn’t

Above and below, Chase Bird enjoying the sunshine on his fur on our enclosed back porch.
Winter temps return this week.




I’ve just about lost all hope for the new job. I am supposed to hear something “in short order,” but who knows when that will be or what I’ll be told?

Anyway, that’s not what I’ll write about today. Instead, I want to write about something that happened last week: one of my worst OCD fears came true.

I go through spells when I read and reread emails or comments that I write before hitting the “send” or “post” buttons. I fear that I will write something completely inappropriate or to the wrong person. So the way to keep that from happening is to check, repeatedly, compulsively.

What would be so bad about writing the wrong thing? I could hurt someone’s feelings. I could insult someone. I could make myself look bad to someone else. I could say something untrue. In my worst-case scenarios, I could suffer horrible embarrassment that would last forever, lose my job, lose a friend, be sued, or end up in jail (I know—sounds way out there, but that’s how OCD works).

So last week I received an email in my work email account from someone whose opinions and words I included in a news article. He wanted to clarify for me something that he had talked about. He didn’t ask me to change anything or do a clarification. I should note that he also complimented the article.

I wanted my editor Mark’s opinion on this, so I forwarded the email to him, told him what I had in my notes, and asked if I should respond in any way.

Did I say I forwarded the email to Mark? Oh, no. I replied to the email that the original man sent me. With the message to Mark.

When I realized what I’d done, which was almost immediately after I hit “send,” I said, “Darn!” The word I said wasn’t really darn, but it had four letters. My co-worker Amy started laughing, saying, “Something must really be wrong if you said that, Tina.”

My other co-worker Matt and I tried to figure out a way to retrieve my email, but it basically can’t be done with the mail servers we have.

I was beside myself. I thought I would never be able to face this person again. While I hadn’t said anything critical of him in my email, it was still worded for my editor, not for the person in question. I was afraid he would call. I was afraid he would never trust me as a journalist again. He would tell everyone else not to trust me.

After stewing for a few minutes, I decided to just face it head on. I sent the person another email, apologizing for sending him one meant for Mark. I told him I was very sensitive to getting things right in my articles and would discuss it with Mark when he got back to the office Monday.

Fairly quickly, I heard back from this person. And it was not a big deal to him. He further complimented me on being fair and accurate in my portrayal of his viewpoints.

I’m still embarrassed about what I did. I still wish I hadn’t done it. I will probably be extra vigilant for a while before I hit that “send” button, though for all my checking, I still made a mistake. That is a lesson to not let the checking get into the compulsive range.
But the worst that I had imagined didn’t happen. And I have the feeling that if the worst did happen, I would handle it. After all, why would I suddenly stop being able to handle life? I’m far from perfect, but I do successfully handle most things eventually.

Just remember: sometimes what we imagine will be the worst thing ever really isn’t.

Have you ever hit “send” too quickly?



Monday, February 2, 2015

Facing fear

I can’t help but be glad that January is over. I spent a good part of it sick with various ailments and took three different antibiotics trying to get over everything.
The good news is that February started out wonderfully: I faced a fear.

You know that I love animals, especially cats. Over the years I have become more passionate about animal welfare, especially with companion animals like cats and dogs. I have read a lot and thought a lot and talked a lot and written a lot. I have taken care of four different cats. But I didn’t believe I was doing enough.
I have talked about volunteering with the local shelter, but I haven’t done anything about it besides inquiring about opportunities by email.

The Campbell County shelter. It's a dreary looking building. The county government is discussing whether to renovate or build a new facility.

In Campbell County, the Animal Control Care Center is separate from the humane society that operates in the county. Animal Control has to accept every animal brought to it—stray or surrendered by owner. And it is not a no-kill shelter.
Some caring people formed a group called Friends of Campbell County Control. The mission of the group “is to provide support for the animals of Campbell County and reduce the euthanasia rate.”
I follow the group on Facebook and have been so impressed at the all-volunteer efforts to care for animals and try to get them fostered or adopted.

Fern, one of the cats in the shelter. 

I never moved forward with my efforts to volunteer because I was afraid.
One of these fears is an OCD fear: fear of responsibility, that I would hurt an animal because I would shirk in my responsibilities and do something wrong. I would obsess over safety and health issues and compulsively do unnecessary things to try to make my anxiety go away.
My thought process was that if I avoided responsibility, I wouldn’t have the obsessions.
Adopting Waddles helped me a lot with this fear. But taking care of more animals, more than we ever had in our house, raised the fears again.

Honey Bee loved being held and cuddled. She wanted me to continue paying attention to her.

And I was afraid because of my anxiety. I tend to take the suffering of others to heart, sometimes to the degree that I get very emotional. I was afraid of what I would see and experience in the shelter. I was afraid of how I would feel when I had to leave the homeless animals behind when I went to my own home.

I used to put much more value on my feelings about something than I should have. That’s an OCD problem, too. If I feel like something is wrong, then something must be wrong and I better check it, fix it, repeat it, or avoid it.

Turbo has a loud purr when he's held.

But the more I spend in the quiet, thinking and writing about my values and beliefs, the better I understand that fear is a natural response to doing something different. I have to push through such fears and the accompanying feelings and at least give things a chance.

Kittens surrendered to the shelter by the owner. The yellow ones are boys and the black ones are girls. It's hard to get a still photo of a moving kitten!

This boy is new to the shelter and doesn't have a name yet. He seemed frightened. But when I opened the cage and talked to him and rubbed him, he started purring and rolling around.

This past Friday night, I sent the Friends a message on Facebook asking about the next orientation date. They wrote back that it was on Sunday. I told them I planned to attend.
I was excited and afraid. Believe me, I thought of excuses not to go. I didn’t feel 100 percent physically. I felt guilty leaving Chase Bird to go help care for other animals.
But I got in the car and drove to the shelter. I exposed myself to my fear.
When I left 90 minutes later, I felt joy and contentment.
I will be spending most of my time with the cats, which I was told was good because most volunteers want to walk the dogs.
I loved on the animals and talked to them and helped with some simple assessments on whether certain cats were OK with dogs and/or other cats.
Barbe, the leader of the volunteers, knew I was thinking of getting another cat, and she insisted on taking a photo of me and Bastet, a lovely tortoise kitty. Then she texted the photo to Larry.

Me and Bastet. She is in a purple cage in the waiting area, acting as "greeter" to visitors.

No, we’ve not made a decision to adopt yet. But I plan to go back soon and whenever I can to volunteer and love on those cats and let them know that humans can be kind to them.
What a great day it was!

I am still waiting on word about the job. The person in charge of hiring was out of town three days last week but told me he would be in touch with me this week. So I wait. Thank you for your good wishes!


What has been your favorite volunteer activity?

Monday, January 26, 2015

A passion for animals

This is Chase Bird sitting on my lap while we watched the Virginia/Virginia Tech basketball game Sunday. At one point, it looked like Virginia might lose. Chase Bird couldn't bear to look at the TV screen.


A journalism student at a local college recently contacted me about interviewing me for a class paper. Last year, she also talked with me for an assignment, and we ended up becoming Facebook friends.

In this latest batch of questions, she noted that she could tell from my Facebook page that I was passionate about animals.
That’s a fair assessment. A lot of my Facebook feed is made up of pictures of animals that need homes or stories and quotes that reflect my love of animals.

Which brings me to a project that I’ve taken on this year. When I was thinking about what writing goals I wanted to set for this year, I mulled over what I enjoy writing about. And one of favorite subjects to read about, learn about, and write about is animals.
I decided to deepen my knowledge about animal welfare and animal rights issues and also write about my changing relationship with animals.
I grew up on a beef farm. Pets were kept outside. My life is so different now. The way I view animals is so different. I’d like to explore those changes. And I’d like to do more for animals.

I know I haven’t given you many details in this post, but I remembered that I haven’t really talked about my writing goals lately.

I’m continuing my writing about mental health issues, of course. I have many interests. But 2015 will be a year when I focus more on animals than I have in the past. And I hope to share some of that with you.

I am still waiting to hear about the job. I hope to hear something by the end of this week. Fingers and toes crossed!

What is your favorite animal?



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Waiting and anxiety

I haven’t been very active in the blogging world lately, and I apologize for that. I miss you!
I thought I was on the road to recovery, but the cough and other symptoms came back with a vengeance. I just haven’t felt very good.
But life goes on, doesn’t it?

I am waiting to hear some news that would create a change in my life.
I applied for a job that would actually be for less hours than I work now, and would still allow me time for my editing business. And the new job would pay significantly more.
I had my interview Wednesday (thank goodness I didn’t have a coughing fit at the same time). And now I’m waiting.
And I’m not good at waiting.
It’s all wrapped up with OCD and my craving for certainty. I want to know right now that everything is going to work out, that everyone is going to be OK, that the change I want to happen is going to happen.
But that’s not how life works, is it?

I’ve been trying some mindfulness techniques to help me deal with my anxiety. All I have is right now, I remind myself. I focus my senses on what’s around me right now, the sounds especially.
I also try to accept what is. I have done all I can in the matter. The rest is out of my control, and I have to accept what the outcome will be.
And I focus on what’s most important to me regardless of anything else that goes on in my life: Larry, Chase Bird, my spiritual life, writing, service to the world.

My techniques to help with the waiting and uncertainty aren’t perfect, but they are helping me to be able to deal with the anxiety so much better than I used to. I love that there are things I can do to help myself in that way.

Do you have a hard time waiting for news, good or bad?