Monday, January 10, 2011

Playing Catch-Up With Myself

There is no knitting in this post. I figure I should just come out with that up front.  This is all personal kind of stuff. There should be knitting next time, as I am working on a design and on Gene's ancient Dale sweater. You should know that before you continue on. It's only fair.

I am exceptionally skilled at denial. In fact, if it were a sport I would be an Olympic champion. If it were a career path I would be bringing down six figures with ease, and the first one would be a 2, at least. I don't think. I just do. I try not to ponder, wonder, or question. I just forge ahead mostly thoughtlessly. I find it very successful. Most of the time...

Until the denial confronts me in a painful way, or in a way that just makes me stop and recognize what has transpired. Today the reality of my life over the last 5 years is coming back on me as a result of a decision we made yesterday to bring a new puppy into our lives. It seems strange that a small ball of fur can have such an impact on me, but there it is. The last five years are tumbling onto my head and with them, the realization that my life has changed so dramatically and so rapidly, and at times has been so out of control, that it's no wonder I haven't really been able to keep up. In fact, only by reviewing the blog was I able to put it all together. Sad but true - I had to read my own blog to figure out what I've been doing for the past 5 years. Such is my life, and the denial I choose to live by.

In the last 5 years I: wrote one book, then another, and another in rapid succession. I flew a lot, and I HATE flying. I traveled, I met people, I had an amazing journey. My mother got scary-sick, then better, than sicker still, then better again and so on. Today she's ok, more or less, most of the time. She's safe and cared for which is more to the point. I lost Kioshi, the second best dog I've ever owned, the first being an amazing mutt named Lady Anne that I had when I was 8. I lost my best friend in a fight of that typically female type that I despise - but I had, it seems, reached a tipping point on a thousand small things, and I let the whole relationship fall apart over one of them rather than confront or discuss the rest. I got sick and didn't know why, then found out why - Lyme - and spent a year sucking down the kind of drugs I routinely refuse to take. I was gifted with an amazing and beautiful granddaughter, and more recently two daughters in law. I expanded the farm from a few chickens to lay eggs for us to provide meat and eggs to a decent handful of local customers. We added bees. We planted trees. We put solar panels on the roof for hot water. It hasn't been a particularly uneventful few years.

In between all of that (more or less) big stuff - and I know I've forgotten some that are probably even bigger - were a million little things; ups and downs, moments, hours, days and weeks of stress and anxiety, work and exhaustion with occasional outbursts of joy in between. Through it all I never really gave myself a break. If I fell apart, I tried to pull myself up and get back to it - I may have made a lot of noise, but in the end I got it done. If I felt like I needed a nap, that was too bad, naps are for wimps. If I took a nap, I felt guilty for a week. If I had done enough and was at the end of my rope and something else came up? I pretty much just did it, often kicking and screaming the whole way.

In short, I have pushed myself just about as far and as hard as I ever have. And on a rapid approach to 44, I am feeling it, and I need to start thinking about whether I want to keep up with that attitude. And how long I can keep up with it.

I have been musing lately on where I am now; what my plans for the future are, how I want the next few years to look. Some of this has been spurred on by the experiences of others. No, I have not had, nor do I plan on having, a heart attack. But do I need to push myself to one in order to learn a lesson from someone else's experience? I'd like to think I am smarter than that.

Most of the time I think I just need a break. Not just a little vacation to the Cape, but a more significant break, like a half a year or so of non-work. At other times I think I need to work more; that not working is just giving in to weakness. Maybe I just need to learn to balance. Still other times I think I need something new in my life, something to inspire me and give me hope and joy just by breathing in the same space. Something fun, something emotionally rewarding on a personal level.

After we put Kioshi down in 2007 there was a lot of thought about what our next dog would look like. It would, I decided, be a dog that was a go-getter, someone with mental skills greater than the charming but dense sap that is Boo-Boo - and don't get me wrong here, I adore him. But the differences between a Bernese Mountain Dog and an Akita in terms of mental processes are something akin to the differences between a stump and a toddler who's reading at 2. I miss the agile Akita mind. I thought a lot about the decisions we had needed to make about Kioshi's treatment that were based on financial issues versus what she really needed medically. Authoring is not exactly lucrative. $350 a week for human pharmaceuticals wasn't in the cards for Kioshi. Had she weighed 20 pounds and not 80, things might have been very different. And then, before we could cement a choice of shelter v. breeder, boy v. girl, big v. small, I was confronted with a difficult choice.

Dazee the Pekingese needed a home. And really, it was me who'd put her in that position. Over a few months I had effectively taken away everything that gave my mother joy - her job, her freedom, and her dog. A choice needed to be made. Should I hand the dog over to a rescue or a shelter and try to re-home it? Or should I bring the animal into my home so that at least she could visit my mother? Well, if you've been following this blog, you know what I chose. I kept the Peke. And then, without a lot of warning, she was gone; a victim of kidney failure, cause unknown. Did she eat one too many dropped pills at my mother's house? Did she get a piece of a food she shouldn't have? Or something outside that my "Drop it!" could not force her to give up? It didn't matter.

I spent a lot of money and a lot of time developing a relationship with her so that we could live together. She had been spoiled in her former home. At 8 years old, she bit, snarled and snapped to get her way. She hated all dogs, and many people. She could not walk nicely on a leash, and she peed and pooped all over my house. I took her to school. I housebroke her. She became an AKC Canine Good Citizen and started learning rally obedience which I had so much fun with, and she did well at it as long as no strange dogs came into the room. She had her moments of charm, and she taught me a lot about myself and about small dogs. But she wasn't ever really my dog.

This brings us to today.

Meet Yoshi, or the Dog Currently Known as Yoshi:
He is a Shiba Inu from Cape Cod Shibas. I am confidently hopeful that by mid-February he will be living here with me - my schedule doesn't allow for him to come here much before then.
We met him yesterday and wore him out with lessons on fetch and a lot of play time and bonding. There's even video here, and here and here, if you want to see (you should - he's AMAZING!).
I just figured out at least one thing that I need.


sandir said...

Oh Melissa, he is a beauty! Congratulations on this new addition to your family. Can't wait to see the videos of Yoshi chasing the chickens.

booksNyarn said...

I am so SO happy for you! I am sure Yoshi will fit right into the rest of your clan easily.

Cathy said...

Soooo cute! Bound to help bring some balance to life, but please take time for yourself too.

I have set a goal of knitting a pair of socks each month this year using your toe-up technique which I prefer over any other. Several of your patterns have been matched with yarn in my stash. Thanks!

bunnnyfoofoo said...

Yoshi is in for a real treat! A lifetime of hugs, kisses, treats, patting, toys. I wannna puppy! Congratulations, he is so handsome!

Cynthia said...

Balance is the key. And it's ok to re-evaluate your priorities. 44? Try 54. My motto has always been "Learn to Surf", not relating to vacations but the ability to navigate through the currents of life. I have been a Peke owner for years. I lost my best buddy in September, and grieve regularly. They are very owner specific and really bond to one person. You were not a failure just not "mom".
Your kids are grown (congrats) and out, now it's time to reset to you and hubby and what YOU want. It's not unreasonable to take time off, but do it before the pup arrives. Clean House. Meditate. Have a glass of wine, and map your next journey! Embrace the change.

Capecodshibas said...

Thank you Melissa for sharing your enthusiasm for this little guy. It is my hope that he will bring an element of balance to the craziness that invades all of our lives. Looking forward to watching him grow and develope under your care and nurturing.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the shiba family! I own your little guy's half brother (same mama dog), Cash, who is now 2. These little guys are amazing I just totally adore my guy. Cash is being trained in obedience and agility, and will hopefully be able to start competing some time this summer. Good luck with your little one, can't wait to see what you two accomplish!

--Karen Shaffer

ccr in MA said...

Oh, that last picture is super cute! I'm very happy for you--and Yoshi.