All the Feels

I’ve been wrestling with my feelings lately. Not in a bad way, like struggling with depression or anxiety, but more like trying to sort them out. I’m a bit jumbled. Like, when I try to get my headset out of my storage bag as I ready for a Zoom call and I find the wire knotted up and wrapped around an earpiece. In that moment, it requires my attention to sort it out before I can put it on my head; that’s how I feel at the moment. I’m trying to untangle my feelings. Let me explain.

First, as you read this on Friday, Oct. 30, I am having surgery to remove some pre-cancerous cells from my breast. The surgeon I’m working with is stellar and is very optimistic about my outcome and long-term prognosis of dodging breast cancer. I’ve anticipated this day for a few weeks know. I’ve known about my diagnosis for a few months but I’ve been at ease. I’ve lived through finding out I had a brain tumor and anticipating a craniotomy, so waiting for this surgery has been a breeze. That said, as I write this on the eve of my surgery, my mind is attempting to take me to dark places; trying to stir up old emotions I’ve packed away. I’m going under anesthesia again; I’m going to have a surgery site and will need to recover. Today, I am reminding myself I’ve done this before and will do it again. But, I’m still feeling some trepidation. It’s not a tidal wave coming at me, but that wave is a bit bigger than normal.

To compound matters, I’m having surgery during a pandemic. That point just adds a layer. Going to the doctors requires wearing a mask. Going to pre op requires wearing a mask, but my mask will need to be removed for me to go under anesthesia. That makes me uneasy. However, I need to trust that my medical team will do everything to keep me safe and let that go. I’ve untangled that feeling.

On the matter of the pandemic, cases are rising again. Our country’s leadership is less than leadering, and it causes me angst. I’m anxious about the outcome of our election; okay, so maybe I am grappling with some anxiety.

I scratch my head daily and struggle with my feelings towards the other side. I try to understand it, but in my mind supporting it feels like a lack of morality. This election, and this is just my opinion, has moved far beyond supporting a political platform. It’s a matter of ideology, safety, tolerance, and respect. Herd immunity is not a way to end a pandemic; it’s a way to lead the lambs to slaughter. I fear for the future of our country. That feeling is bit more complicated, but I’m dealing with it.

And, as if my worry over the future of our country wasn’t weighing on me enough, my daughter brought home a puppy last month. Now, don’t get me wrong, Maple (the new pup) is lovely. If you haven’t been introduced, please visit my post Meet Maple. Despite her cuteness overload, that little biscuit has played with my emotions in a way I didn’t think possible.

She’s like a Sourpatch Kid. One minute you’re on the floor playing and she nips you hard, but the next minute she steps back and “sits pretty” and melts your heart. She’s a puppy; her behavior isn’t abnormal. But, I’m conflicted about her because my heart still belongs to Summer, our noble, wise, 16-year-old Bichon who we had to put down in April. Maple now “owns” areas of the house that previously belonged to Summer, such as the back of the couch in our formal living room.

She’s still getting her bearings up there. Look at the back leg. 😂

I’m okay with it, but it’s hard to let go and feel like I’m not honoring our old-girl’s memory when I let Maple into Summer’s previous domain. But, then I look at her face and she has no idea who she replaced. She has no idea that my heart still belongs to another. She only wants to be loved, like any dog in this world. She doesn’t understand the emotions of people. She doesn’t know we have a full world outside of hers, because her entire world is us. She only wants one thing in life, to be loved. Her needs are simple, love her and care for her and she will be happy. So, I’ve tried to partition my heart, walling off my Summer area to make room for Maple, because she needs my love.

To cope with the looming election, I’ve tried to let go. I often find myself saying, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change …” and I find peace. And my surgery, I will let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I will try to stay it the moment as I heal, go vote on Tuesday, and cuddle our new pup. The rest will sort itself out. Worry is not a product of the moment, it steals from it. Acceptance if of the moment and is much better for healing.  

Epilogue: 10/30/20, 2pm – I’m home from the surgery; it was outpatient. My doctor said it went as well as it could, and she’s very pleased with the outcome. I will get my biopsy results next Friday. In the meantime, I’m resting and cuddling Maple.

Fall In New England

I would miss the fall the most if I ever moved.

Since lockdown, I’ve been trying to recover from plantar fasciitis in my left foot. It’s been a chore and I’ve dedicated a few blog posts to it.

I’m happy to say, it’s getting better. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that my foot may never be 100% again, but it’s recovered to the point where I can enjoy my old habits. One such habit – going for long walks.

I live in Southern New Hampshire near Tower Hill Pond which is the holding pond for the Manchester, NH reservoir. It’s a lovely four-mile loop around the pond, and I haven’t visited since May when my foot decided to give up wanting to do its job for me.

My husband Jeff and I visited the pond on Saturday. I was feeling brave enough to tackle the walk and I’m so happy I did. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Fall in New England is a feast for the eyes. I will note that we’ve been in a drought for most of the summer and it is very evident by the pond level. The city has needed to pull water from the pond to supplement Manchester’s water needs.

That said, the walk was lovely. I had great company and enjoyed the sites. But, I left feeling the heavy realization that we really need rain. After seeing the pond, I will be fine with a rainy fall. I hope my anti-winter friends would support a snowy winter knowing the benefits it would bring to the area.

Meet Maple

Maple’s first night home

I am a grandmother! For those of you who have been following me, you know my family lost our dog in April. I wrote two posts about it. Love you Forever Little One and Three Days Later.

You don’t need to read the posts to understand the grief I felt, we felt, and still feel as a result of Summer’s passing. She was our family dog for 16 years, and as all dogs do, she became part of our family. Our fur baby. She was always there and then she wasn’t.

I believe the grief was too much for Maddy, my daughter, to bear because two weeks ago she bought a puppy. I tried to warn her it was too soon and she wasn’t ready. Jeff was completely opposed to it. In the end, in her heart she felt she was ready so she went ahead and brought home Maple the Aussie-doodle. Maddy still lives with us and promised she would take on full responsibility for Maple, which she has.

That cute little face

The first few days were rough. Jeff was traveling and because my job is 100% remote, I was able to go with him. We left her with the pup, and Maddy began to have regrets about bringing her home. Being a puppy, she didn’t sleep, wasn’t crate trained, and of course, not housebroken. Maddy was very much in shock. She knew it would be hard but she didn’t realize how difficult it was to have a new pup and the amount of work needed to socialize a new animal into your home.

When we got Summer 16 years ago, in theory she was Maddy’s dog. She was given to her for her 9th birthday. However, a nine year old doesn’t know how to housebreak or socialize a dog, so Summer became our dog. Maddy didn’t have to deal with the midnight potty breaks or a dog who refused to crate train. After three weeks of trying to coax her to love her crate, she ended up in our bed. Maddy didn’t know all the behind-the-scene work Jeff and I did, so being on her own with Maple became a shock.

To confound the difficulty of training a new pup, Maddy realized her heart wasn’t truly ready to make room in it. She struggled with how she felt about her new little fur baby. Lack of sleep made her tired, and the erratic schedule and lack of house training made Maddy anxious. After less than 48 hours on her own with Maple, she broke down. We talked about it, and know Maddy so well, I knew she made the right decision bringing her home. She just needed time, and sleep, to realize it would work out.

Fortunately, Maple is quite smart. Two weeks later she is up only once a night for a bathroom break. She likes her crate, and she’s about 90% house broken, know that bathrooming should be done outside. She has even asked a few times to go out. The fact that she caught on quick is helping all of us, but especially Maddy, to fall in love. This little scamp is fun and rambunctious. A bit mouthy, Summer was never a chewer, but she likes her chew toys and is easily distracted from chewing the wrong things, such as a coffee table leg.

All in all, she’s fitting in. She is Maddy’s dog, and Jeff and I are the grandparents. We enjoy her without all the work. We help out and watch her when Maddy goes to yoga or a night out. But this time, unlike with Summer, Jeff and I don’t need to do the midnight bathroom breaks and we don’t have a dog in our bed.

Was my heart ready for this? Not really. I still dream about Summer. Last night, I dreamed she came back to visit us when we had friends over for dinner. I used to call her “Little Dog.” In my dream, Summer “told” me to call Maple, “Big Dog.” I’ll see if it sticks. I’ve tried it a couple times today. It’s a cute nickname, but I’m not sure it’s a forever nick name. I like Maple Bean; I call her that a lot.

I do love this new pup. She’s found her place with us. She will never be Summer, but it’s not fair of me to put that on her. She’s her own pup and she will cement her place with us.

Time Away

The entrance to the Bavarian Village at Yankee Candle

So, my husband and I stole some time away last week. He travels a lot for his job, and my new Covid job has me working from home. I can work from anywhere that I have WiFi.

He was working in Springfield Mass. We live in Southern, NH, so when he asked me last week if I’d like to join him, I said, “Yes!” But then I asked if the WiFi was good, and he said, yes. So, I went. I’m so happy it did. It was so nice to get away.

We stayed at a lovely property in Hadley, MA, 20 minutes from Yankee Candle. Not sure how many of my readers have experienced their candles, they are scents for the senses. They are lovely, but if you get to visit the flagship store in Deerfield, MA, the candles really become the back story; a guest star if you will. The campus is A-MAZING!

If you love to wander and explore, and you happen to love decorating for the holidays, cooking, trinkets, or gadgets, the store is worth a stopover. And I might add, plan at least a half day if you truly want the full experience. We first went on Thursday afternoon and went back on Saturday because we missed so much.

The central retail Candle area is expansive.

This is just one shopping area for candles.

Besides the central sales floor, the rest of the place is charming, quaint, homey, romantic, and beautiful. There are little shopping areas everywhere. All themed. Some are kitchen areas, others are for the kids, and some are for cooking, and crafts. But, when I stumbled upon the Bavarian Village … I was at a loss for words. I can’t believe I’ve lived less than 3 hours from Yankee Candle and have never been there.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking for me. It’s a storybook, romantic place to lose yourself in during these troubled times. I was privileged to stop in and think about Christmas past. I lost myself in the collective love of a holiday that celebrates our savior. And, the experience was soothing. There were paintings, decorations, lights, and trees. I thought about snow and warm fires and escaped for a couple hours. It was perfect.

As a footnote though, when I finally returned home on Sunday, I was a bit weary. Yankee offered me an escape, and I will go back this year. But, by Sunday I just needed to be home and feel safe. I was tired of wearing my mask. I was tired of being afraid to eat out. I was tired of being on alert: sanitizing my hands, using my sleeves to open doors, afraid to touch my face, or remove my mask even out in public. In Massachusetts, when you’re outside your home, you wear a mask.

That said, it was nice to get away. Yankee Candle was soothing and invigorating all at once; it got me in the holiday spirit. I’m happy I went but am just as happy to be home.