Sunday, May 17, 2015

A lesson I have to keep learning

Abbey on her stool under the window.

We got some upsetting news about Abbey this past week.
She was set to have her spay done on Tuesday. I dropped her off at the vet’s office on the way to work.
The vet called me that afternoon and told me that they were unable to take her blood for the pre-anesthesia blood work until they had sedated her. They had her prepped for surgery when they got her blood results back. They weren’t going spay her that day.
Both her white cell count and her red cell count were lower than normal.

Some background: The day after we adopted her, we took Abbey to the vet for a check-up. She tested negative for feline leukemia and FIV. We were given a kit to get a stool sample to check for worms.
We didn’t get the sample to the vet’s until the week before her surgery, and she tested positive for worms. So we picked up medicine and give it to her for the prescribed three days, to be repeated in three weeks and six weeks.
We had not seen any signs of worms, and we keep Abbey inside all the time. But we don’t know where she was before she went to the shelter, and she stayed in the shelter for four months.
I feel so bad for not getting the sample into the vet’s sooner.

When the vet called me about her blood work, she said she didn’t think it was time to worry (easier said than done!). Abbey appeared to be healthy. The vaccinations she received the day after adoption could have caused the numbers to go down, but usually that resolved after a couple of weeks. She said parasites and infection could also cause the low numbers.
So her advice was to give her another dewormer, a different medicine that covered more types of parasites. She also gave us a vitamin supplement with iron to give her. We’ll retest her blood in a month. If the numbers are still low, we’ll retest her for feline leukemia and FIV in case she got a false negative the first time.

Abbey seems to feel good. She plays hard. She gained point 4 pounds in the three weeks from her adoption to spay day. She has not shown any signs of illness. The vet said it was fine to have her out with Chase Bird as long as neither showed signs of illness.

I did what I usually do when I get worried about a health problem with my cats or Larry—I started Googling. I know it’s a way to cope, a way to feel like I have some control over the situation.
But really, other than giving Abbey her meds and watching her, I have no control over the situation. It’s a wait and see situation until we retest her blood.
I wonder sometimes why I have to keep learning this lesson that we never can know for sure that all is well, that life throws curves all the time. But I’m not having to learn the lesson any more than anyone else. We all have lives that throw us curves. I just happen to have a disorder—OCD—that make it particularly difficult to deal with uncertainty.
So we’ll deal with what it is, if it’s anything more than an infection of parasites. And we are enjoying Abbey so much. She is a sweetie and so funny. She likes to follow Chase Bird around. Sometimes he is OK with that, sometimes he runs away, and she chases after him.

I love Chase Bird and Abbey and taking care of them. I’m enjoying that every day.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Catching up


Hello, dear readers. I’m feeling a bit out of breath and overwhelmed right now with all the changes going on, but I wanted to catch you up on those changes.

The big change is my new job. Friday was my first day. It was nice to start getting settled in. I didn’t have a lot to do because my supervisor is out of town until mid-week due to a family illness. But I enjoyed connecting with my new co-workers, many of whom I already know.

I think I’m going to enjoy the work and my work environment. I just don’t know enough to feel useful at this point, and I tend to get bored if I’m not busy. So I am trying to keep boredom at bay and use my down time to learn more about working for the county and the issues that I could be talking about with the media and with the public.

Tuesday night is the annual public hearing before the Board of Supervisors on the next fiscal year’s budget, and we’re expecting a large crowd. There will be no tax increase this year, but the schools are also not receiving all the funding they asked for. So the schools will have to make some cuts that not everyone is happy with.
More people seem to be involved now in speaking out about the direction they want the county to go in.
I’ll be at the meeting Tuesday, though instead of covering it for the newspaper, I’ll be helping to get people signed up to speak, and I’ll be listening to people’s concerns.

My supervisor returns to the office on Wednesday, and that’s when I’ll begin to learn the meat and potatoes of my job. I’m looking forward to that, because I like to stay busy, and boredom can easily lead to depression for me.

The other big change is our new family member, Abbey. She is so funny and sweet. We have given her and Chase Bird some face-to-face time. Chase seems to prefer to ignore her, though he has hissed at her a couple of times. But overall, though they are obviously wary, I think they will get along.

Abbey makes the cutest mewing sounds. Whether she’s greeting you or playing or asking for food or attention, it’s kind of a trill with rolled “Rs” mixed with “mew.” I need to record the sound for you.

I love taking care of my kitties. I get so much satisfaction out of making sure they’re fed and getting playtime and cuddle time. And a content, purring kitty is the antidote to just about any stress!

Take care until next time!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Meet the newest member of the Barbour family

Abbey Hunny Bee Barbour

Meet Abbey. She is the newest member of our family. We adopted her yesterday from the Campbell County Animal Shelter, and we are so excited!
She is about one year old and very small, weighing just seven and a half pounds. We have her in a separate room in the house, and she is looking more comfortable as time goes by.
Yesterday, she spent most of the day hiding underneath furniture. Off and on, I sat in the room and talked to her, read, and watched some TV. Last night, I went in and put on some soft music. She came out from under the sofa, sniffed my hand, then came to me so I could pet her and hold her. She is such a sweetheart!
Today we took her to our vet to be tested for feline leukemia and FIV—both came back negative. She got some of her shots, and we set up an appointment to have her spayed in three weeks when it’s time for her booster shots.
Larry said she’s already mama’s cat. But I’ve spent more time with her than he has. Once he spends more time with her, she will adore him, I’m sure.
Chase Bird? Well, he’s not too happy. We are keeping the door closed between the two kitties, but they have caught glimpses of each other. It’s a process for cats to get used to each other.
Our vet advised us to keep her isolated from Chase Bird for a couple of weeks because we don’t know if she perhaps caught an upper respiratory infection at the shelter.

I first saw Abbey on Feb. 1 when I went to the shelter to cuddle with the cats. Her name was Hunny Bee at that time.  
When I held her, she was a purr-baby and so affectionate. She also seemed tolerant of the other cats around her.
I kept thinking about her, but I didn’t do anything about adopting. We just weren’t quite ready.
Then I saw on the Facebook page of Friends of Campbell County Animal Control (a volunteer group that works to get the shelter animals fostered and adopted) that Hunny Bee had been adopted. I comforted myself with the thought that she had gotten a good home.
Then Hunny Bee popped up on Facebook again, available for adoption.

Sunday, when Larry and I went to visit her at the shelter, we learned that she had been adopted by a family with small children, and it wasn’t a good mix. So they returned her to the shelter four days later.
She had originally been surrendered to the shelter by her owner, so there she was at the shelter, given up twice. She had been there for four months.

Now she has a home with us, and we plan for it to be her forever home.

Where did her name come from? Her full name is Abbey Hunny Bee Barbour. We wanted to add Abbey but help her get used to it by keeping the Hunny Bee. We like the name Abbey because one of our favorite TV characters is named Abby (Pauley Perrette’s character on NCIS). We added the “e” in affection for our good friend Ann, whose first dog was named Abbey.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A time of anxiety

Chase Bird relaxing in the sun on the enclosed porch.

My anxiety is high, and I can’t seem to relax. That’s what I’ve been like for a while. I finally settled things with the job hunt, but I’m still in a time of change, and that raises my anxiety.

My last day with the newspaper is this Friday. Then I have nearly two weeks off before starting my new job.
It’s a busy time this week at the paper. I’m covering the first workshop the county supervisors have after receiving the proposed budget for the next fiscal year. That’s always a tough story to write, full of numbers and proposed changes and different opinions from the supervisors about how to fund the county. That’s Tuesday.
Then on Wednesday, a first-degree murder trial is scheduled, and I’ll be covering that.
And all week, I’ll be trying to put things in order for my editor and the other staff writer. The corporate office of the company that owns our newspaper has decided that my position is not going to be filled. So all of my work is being passed on to my editor and my co-staff writer. I’m doing the best I can to help them with contact information, a calendar of upcoming court trials, and background information to aid in the transition.
I know that I shouldn’t, but I’ve been feeling guilty about leaving my co-workers in that position, with all that work.

I’m not very happy with myself for letting the anxiety get to me like it has. I know so many ways to deal with anxiety. I guess knowing something intellectually is not the same as being able to put it into practice.

I did have a bit of a breakthrough Sunday. I used my phone to join a Facebook gathering to listen to classical music. At first, it was difficult for me to just sit and listen. I wanted to be busy doing something else at the same time.
But I recognized that I needed to just sit and listen, no matter how uncomfortable I felt. I finally relaxed a little and enjoyed the music.

I’m going to have to put effort into having more moments like that this week. Isn’t that strange—to have to put effort into relaxing? I think the idea of effort is really being willing to make myself uncomfortable for a bit, like I did Sunday. Making the choice to stop for just a few minutes.

I will be back on the blog next Monday, April 20. To all my friends who have blogs, I am so sorry that I haven’t visited much lately. I appreciate you staying in touch with me. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Running like a cheetah

“You were running through the store like a cheetah,” Larry told me.
We laughed, and I said he was exaggerating, but I actually would have liked to be able to run like a cheetah on Saturday.

We had to go to the local big box store. I hate going to the big box store. I don’t like shopping, and I don’t like being in crowds, and the big box store includes both.
After a little while of dodging other people, being caught in cart traffic jams, and listening to the voices of hundreds of people, I reach the point where I take over pushing the cart and barrel my way to the checkout as fast as I can.
I shouldn’t blame it all on the big box store. I just don’t like crowds and noise, and when I reach the point where I feel like I can’t take it anymore, I feel a bit frantic and in need of an escape.
I guess I’m partly like this because I’m very introverted. And I come up as a highly sensitive person when I take the self-test.
I have to make adjustments, of course. Sometimes I have to be in crowds; sometimes I have to work in the midst of noise. But I try to limit those situations.

One of the things that bothered me about taking the town job—one of the things that was sitting in my gut, telling me to be careful—was a comment that was made to me by one of the people I talked with during the hiring process. I would have had to work with this person.
He told me that he would make me into an extrovert.
I didn’t like that. There is nothing wrong with being an introvert. There is nothing wrong with being sensitive. I’m an adult, I’m pretty self-aware, and I have learned to adapt myself to what needs to be done without changing who I am.

I will just keep adapting when I have to. And when need be, I’ll run like a cheetah.

I've been having fun with piZap.

How do you react to being in crowds?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Choices: A good thing

This is a view of the main road through Rustburg in December 2013, before the start of the Christmas Parade.

How quickly things can change! I told you on Monday that I had accepted a job with the town of Altavista. Things changed later that day.

I received a phone call about the job I had applied for and interviewed for with Campbell County. I was offered the job, and I accepted without hesitation. I will begin the job as public information specialist on May 1. I will be working in the county seat, Rustburg, which is about 20-25 minutes from my house.

Though I was glad to have gotten the job with the town, I had been having some “gut” feelings that I may not be going in the right direction.
I was afraid that I would receive an offer from the county. To me, it would just complicate things because I would have to make a choice.
Now I realize that having the choice was a good thing.

I realized that I would regret turning down the county job. And the job description? Well, it’s like it was written with someone like me in mind. It includes a lot of my favorite things to do: writing, designing brochures, updating websites, helping others with content management, providing information to the public about county issues, etc.

And I know many of the people I will be working with because I’ve covered county government for the newspaper for five and a half years. They’re good people that I have a lot of respect for.

I knew when I said yes to the job that it was the right decision. Even though I don’t start the job for another month, I am looking forward to it!

It is a full time job. But I won’t be writing nearly as much as I do now on the job, and I am determined to carve out time for my own writing. Lots of writers have to do that.

I have not applied for any other jobs. I am satisfied with what I’ve done and am looking forward to the future. My last day with the newspaper will now be April 17. I am taking a couple of weeks off to decompress.

Thank you all for your support through this very anxious time of looking for another job and another challenge. You have helped me get through this.
Now I really do feel like I can let go of the anxiety and just be for a while.

Monday, March 30, 2015


A photo of Broad Street in Altavista. I think I took this on a Sunday a couple of years ago. I was standing at the library looking down the street. English Park is in the distance, as is the Staunton River. To get to Town Hall, where I'll be working, you would turn left at that first traffic light in the photo.

I can finally share some news with you.

On Jan. 6, I applied for a job with the town of Altavista. It’s a part-time position as an economic development assistant that includes coordinating the Main Street Program.
Last Wednesday, I finally got a formal offer.

I will coordinate a nonprofit group that carries out the concepts of the VirginiaMain Street Program. I will also assist the town’s economic developer in meeting the needs of existing businesses and helping to bring new businesses in. The economic developer wants me to work specifically with younger, creative entrepreneurs.

I’m excited and nervous. I am looking forward to a new challenge, learning new things, getting training, and being in a position to serve and encourage others.
I will work fewer hours and far more regular hours than my current job with the paper, but I will make significantly more in salary.

So why am I nervous? Change is unsettling to all of us, and it tends to raise my anxiety level. I also have the new-job-worries: Will I be able to learn? Will I do a good job?

I’ve always managed in the past, and when I remember that, I have more confidence in my ability to do another job.

Another worry has been that I’m leaving a job where I (finally) was able to write for a living.
What I found was that while my writing improved and I learned to write faster, I wasn’t always writing what I wanted to—that just wasn’t my job. And writing all day/all week took a certain kind of energy out of me.
I am not leaving my writing behind. I am a writer at heart. I hope to actually start writing more of what speaks to me and I’m passionate about. And the new job will afford me the opportunity to use some of my other skills.

My last day with the paper will be April 8 and my first day on the new job will be April 13. It will be a busy time at the paper, trying to finish things up and leave information behind that will help my co-workers.

I wish I could say my worrying of the last three months is over. But I complicated things by applying for another job while I was waiting to hear about the town job. I’ve had two interviews and am waiting to hear about it. So I may be faced with another decision soon.

To choose between two good job opportunities is not easy for me. In true OCD fashion, I tend to want to find the “perfect” answer, make the “right” choice. Of course, we never know at the time of making a decision whether or not it is the right choice. And there is no perfect answer.
For now, I’m going to enjoy what I do have: an upcoming new job and a new adventure.