Am I a mentor now?

There hasn’t been much writing going on lately. In trying to figure out why I just don’t want to write, the only thing I can come up with is the general feelings of overwhelm I’ve been dealing with over the past few weeks.

The stress of the holidays has certainly been part of that. Trying to balance time with family and friends, and time for myself during the last few weeks has left me limp. I get cranky and start shutting down when I feel over-committed, and it frankly doesn’t take much for me to feel over-committed these days. Stressing about work — thinking about it and berating myself for not feeling more motivated about it — has also taken it’s toll on me.

One of the things I’ve come to accept about myself over the past few years is that I’m an introvert, which means that in order to re-charge I need time away from hustle and bustle and people. I used to think being an introvert was a bad thing, but I’ve accepted that knowing what you need to feel your best is inherently good. Besides, it’s not as if I need to do something illegal or immoral — like torturing animals or bullying people — to feel good. I just need quiet time so I can let my mind wander and feel refreshed. (I can even find time to refresh in a crowded cafe, like right now. Often it is possible to be alone even in a crowd.)

Last night I spent some time talking with an old acquaintance who is going through a separation and divorce. I grew up next door to this guy, and while we don’t have much in common at this point, I did see him at a reunion gathering shortly after my divorce was final. He reached out to me last night via Facebook since he remembered that I had been divorced recently. Since I can be a pretty compassionate person I spent a bit of time talking with him.

I remember feeling that lonely and that desperate for human contact. I remember how scared it made me to lose the person I thought was my life companion. There was the desire to be coupled again, and the fear that I wouldn’t be able to do so; that I just would fail at dating.

Having close friends helped me through those times, and I think men are at a disadvantage here. This guy is conservative and “old school,” and many guys in his position have a less-developed support network.

So what did we talk about? I tried to let him talk as much as possible, since I know that is critical in these situations. But I did give him some advice. I told him to just focus on getting through the divorce right now and not to worry about dating yet. I seconded the suggestion another friend of his had made to join a Meetup so he could get out of the house and socialize a bit. (I also had to explain to him that Meetups aren’t necessarily dating networks, too.) And I told him that I completely understood those fears he was having of being alone.

I’m not alone now and I never have been. I’ve been blessed to have really great friends, and I’m grateful for each one of them. Nearly two years has gone by since my divorce, and I feel that I learned a lot from my marriage and the divorce. That’s the best outcome I could have asked for, too.

A conversation

DS: Mom asked me if I’ve talked to you lately. She wanted to know what’s going on with you.

Me: Well, she could call me if she wanted to talk to me. I’m not sure why she doesn’t call; the phone works both ways. Anyway, what does that mean “what’s going on with me?”

DS: She wants to know why you’re not coming to Christmas. So, why aren’t you?

Me: Well…well…I guess I don’t feel like my family is very interested in me.

DS: That’s so selfish! Why does it always have to be about you?!

Me: ………


Energy rush?

I’m not sure what it is that propelled me out of bed at 5 AM today. It’s a Sunday, which is typically a lazy day for me. I love to lounge on Sunday mornings with coffee and some reading material, which is what I’ve done since I woke up. It’s just that I started my lounging in the pre-dawn, which is unusual for me. Maybe I was up so early because I find it hard to sleep with large braces strapped to my lower legs.

For the past month or two (or three…I’ve frankly lost track) I’ve had some mild but persistent pain in my heels, and my right heel in particular. When it first started, I chalked it up my running form. I had just started a couch to 5K running program and figured that this foot pain was due to the way my feet were landing when I ran. I was also running in the Vibram Five Fingers shoes and thought that my feet were just getting used to this minimalist footwear.

Five weeks into the running program I stopped because my feet were hurting so much after running. I even tried running in some new stabilized running shoes instead, but by then the pain was persistent. I decided to give my feet as much of a break as possible and stopped running. I didn’t even use the elliptical at the gym because my feet were so sore. I usually wear very sensible shoes and despite the fact that I walk quite a bit, my feet were getting better. But my heels were still sore, especially in the mornings.

My friend A has been dealing with bad plantar fasciitis for a year and when I casually mentioned this during a conversation with her, she urged me to a see a podiatrist and not mess around. Friday afternoon I finally went to the podiatrist and that’s what he diagnosed. While my case seems quite mild, it’s not going to get better without some treatment and this podiatrist likes to use night splints. When he pulled out these unwieldy, vaguely stormtrooper looking things, the first thing I asked was how long I was going to have to wear them. The answer: until I feel better. Ugh.

They are no fun putting on at night and it’s definitely not fun wearing them. Friday night I kept waking up to adjust them because my feet were so uncomfortable. Plus whenever I would change positions, these clunky braces really got in my way. Last night I put them on and then ended up taking them off at 2 AM. I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I’m hoping I find a reasonably comfortable position with them soon, or I may end up being really cranky due to sleep deprivation.

It’s even more amazing to me that I got up so early after spending most of the day yesterday in a house-cleaning frenzy. I used to have a cleaning lady come every two weeks for many, many years because I prefer not to spend my time off from work cleaning. That was one of the first expenses I cut from my budget after the divorce, though. I wanted to save that money so I could build up my emergency fund, which was completely non-existent after the divorce. (He got the cash, I got the house. Or, I guess I got the house equity. I also got a mortgage that I had to pay on my own. Scary stuff!)

I keep the house reasonably clean on my own, but I don’t do really thorough cleaning very often. The bathroom is regularly cleaned, the kitchen is kept tidy and sanitary, bed linens are routinely changed and washed, and the floors are regularly vacuumed to keep the dog hair dust bunnies at a minimum. But I hate to dust and I don’t wash the floors very often, either. Not wearing shoes in the house certainly helps keep the floors cleaner, but they still need to washed occasionally.

Yesterday I tackled a total house cleaning: de-cluttering, dusting, major kitchen appliance cleaning, behind the furniture vacuuming, and even some window washing. B and I were having a couple over for drinks and then going out to dinner. He kept insisting that I not make a big deal out of prepping, but I explained that I had put off this big clean-up far too long, and this “home visit” was the perfect motivator for me. Now the house is practically spotless, although the ever present basement clutter is still awaiting my next big energy rush.

Winter is finally here, so maybe being reduced to indoor activities will make it easier for me to tackle the basement. We’ll just see about that.

Settling in

I picked up Sadie’s ashes tonight. It’s hard to believe that such a vibrant dog could be reduced to this small amount, but there it is. I was talking to Mark a few days after Sadie died and he said something about what a big personality Sadie had, and that just seemed right.

The household is quieter, for one. Despite my worries that I’ve lost my guard dog, Hannah has been filling in quite nicely. She sounds the alert when the mail carrier comes and when anyone else comes near the house, too. There doesn’t seem as much of a racket, though, since there is only one dog barking now, and Hannah seems to reach her threshold much sooner than Sadie ever did.

One of my friends that works extensively with greyhound rescue and has adopted and lost a few dogs over the years advised that I’d see Hannah’s personality change, as well as my relationship with her. I’m certainly seeing that already.

Tonight, for example, I took Hannah out with me as I visited B for dinner at his condo. Hannah has some behavioral issues, one of which is that she can get very anxious in the car and the other — more critically important one in this situation — that she has a fear aggression issue with strange dogs. I was worried that we’d run into another dog in the lobby or the elevator, but that didn’t happen. And her behavior on the drive home was much more subdued than the steady panting and whining as we drove to B’s residence.

I’ve been taking Hannah out for more walks, as well. Since Sadie has died, Hannah has been walked every single day, either by me or another caretaker like the dog walker. Even today, as the first powdery snow of the season fell, I put on her leash and took her out for a walk at midday.

In the depths of my sorrow over losing Sadie, I told B my guilty secret: that I loved Sadie more and that Hannah was not as important to me. He advised me to give her a chance, and it seems that I am.

I’ve known for years that she is smart and capable, although she’s prone to anxiety. I’ve even noted that she seemed smarter than Sadie, as I watched her trick Sadie into giving up a coveted toy over and over, using the same technique each time. Now that I can’t let the dogs entertain each other, I’m challenged to interact more with Hannah and perhaps help her be a little more functional around strange dogs.

As a behaviorist we consulted said, she may never be a dog park dog. But she can still be a good dog, nonetheless.