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Between Living and Existing

Tiptoeing the Line Between the Mirror and Myself...

Updated: 2018-04-12T08:19:20.390-04:00


The never ending tooth saga


For more or less, this is a whiny post. For the past month in a half, I have been in horrible tooth pain...again. I feel like this will never end. I think this infection has been brewing since January, but none of my dentists seemed to take me seriously - all thinking it was residual from a filling. I'm very frustrated by this, as I feel like if it had been dealt with then, I would not be in this situation now. But isn't this the story of all of our lives?

I called my endodontist this past Thursday as I am scheduled for a root canal on Tuesday, but they were out of the office until then. I called my regular dentist, but they said they could only recommend painkillers, and since I do not do well with just about every one (percocet is the only one I did okay with but had nausea and discomfort this time around), that was out of the question. I asked if I could at least be put on another antibiotic, no answer there. Since the pain has worsened and now the gum surrounding the tooth is infected/swollen, I called my regular dentist after hours. I'm hopeful she calls me back. I've tried some natural remedies, like onion and clove to no avail. They only gave very temporary relief. I've tried alcohol just to numb the tooth pain and gum, as well as tea bags with no success

So, I feel like I'm doomed to a lot of ibuprofen and tylenol. It's been within safe limits, but it's uncomfortable taking that much amount of meds to be honest, especially with past liver issues (now fine).

On top of all this, I have another infection in my mouth as well. With that one, it is in my gum surrounding my one tooth on my upper left side (used to have a bridge there). We cannot figure out why the infection won't drain and just stays there. This has caused intense itching, and again, has been for quite some time.

Then, in general, this is all a huge amount of money to fix. :sigh: Even in recovery, the after effects of an eating disorder looms. It is really disheartening.

The other shoe dropped...


I'm pretty exhausted right now. What I will say is that the shoe did indeed drop. When I arrived here on Sunday evening, things did not look good for my dad. He had a massive brain hemorrhage. Medications and the correct protocol were done, however, bleeding only worsened overnight. The nurse practitioner showed me his digitized scans, and it was apparent. His hemorrhage had begun as a size of grapefruit and grew another few cm in 7 hours time. There was also increased swelling. At this point, he was not a candidate for surgery. And even if he did survive, he would have been left with no speech, hearing, and half side body paralyzed. We all knew he did not want to live that way.

He left this earth at approximately 2:55pm on Monday. Arrangements were quickly made for a traditional Jewish funeral as my dad was Jewish (did not practice but grew up as and believed in the faith). The funeral is tomorrow, and then I have to leave to go back where grieving and processing will resume. It will be hard as I live alone, and come Sunday, that may be rough. Sundays and Wednesdays were his "official" days to call me. We talked at other times too, but he designated those days and absolutely loved to have them. It is very sad knowing there will be no more of those calls.

I will post more later after the funeral and when I get back. I'm just extremely exhausted, but at least not numb. Sometimes, those emotions are hard to feel, but it is how we process, grieve, and heal.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop


I kept thinking how I needed to update all of you on what's been happening with my life.  It's actually been a lot of exciting things.   Job wise, I started my own business.  It's actually been in existence, but I feel like it is finally getting off the ground.  I'm meeting new clients who value my time and expertise and are committed to working with their dogs.  I've led some 4-H dog obedience classes which were very successful and am helping with their Dog Show in the summer.  I've finally found a place that will allow me to hold group dog training classes, so that will be getting underway soon.  I've met some good  vets here who are referring me clients.  I've worked with some rescue groups, and they've felt I was a very "rescue friendly" trainer.  I'm also the lead person for the annual dog training conference I go to for local involvement.  Tovah has also started her therapy dog career and is officially certified.  She has done very well at all the places we have gone to - assisted living centers, nursing homes, and one of the local libraries to have kids read to her.  Tuesday, we were meeting with a social worker/volunteer to possibly work as a therapy dog for a support group who helps those who have lost loved ones.Credit: NPS.govSo, just as things are beginning to come together, something happens; the other shoe drops.  This evening, I had a call that my father had a massive brain hemorrhage and was unconscious.  The last I heard a few hours ago was that he had some movement on one of his sides and that a neurologist was going to look at him.  I feel awful as it is seems like he just never catches a break.  He has had many illnesses over the years - cancer twice, quintuple by-pass with major complications, chemo twice, sepsis, Diabetes, dementia, chronic kidney disease, and others I'm sure I am missing.  He's been a trooper all along, and we nicknamed him the "kudzu" man, as the kudzu plant is difficult to kill and survives easily.  However, we've all worried when his luck might run out.  We've been told to come as this could be the end.  We've been told this before, and he has fought his way back.  I like to think this will happen again, but honestly, I am unsure.  I have slight guilt as well which is also why I feel the need to go - flying out tomorrow.  He called me this evening prior to his brain trauma.  I was out mowing so received the message when I came in.  He sounded usual with no problems and said he would call me tomorrow, his usual day.  I thought nothing of this and did not call him back.  I hope I am wrong, and our last conversation won't just be about my car but rather other things.  It's hard when spontaneous stuff like this happens.  I get thrown into thinking of who will watch the dogs and the bunny, how much do I need to pack, etc. This would not be so bad, except I have no dog food until tomorrow.    I'll be flying tomorrow afternoon.  I hope the news will be better when I get there.  Please send good vibes and thoughts.  Thanks![...]

"The Awakening"


I didn't actually realize it had been almost two months since I've updated this blog.  Yikes!  A lot has been going on since then with business, my own dogs, just life in general.  I'm off to a week long workshop this coming week, and then in May, I am really off and running with more group classes, working with a local shelter in implementing a new training program for their volunteers, and board/board and train dogs.  What is up with the week of May 20th?  I'm already booked for that week!Anyway, I wanted to post this lovely poem called "The Awakening" by Sonny Carroll that was recently posted on the Heal Ourselves, Heal the World Facebook group.  I thought it was so fitting for many of us.  I tried to post this to some of you who are my facebook friends, but it did not come through, so I will try again.There comes a time in your life when you finally get it…when, in the midst of all your fears and insanity, you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out…ENOUGH! Enough fighting and crying, blaming and struggling to hold on. Then, like a child quieting down after a tantrum, you blink back your tears and begin to look at the world through new eyes.This is your awakening... You realize it’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change, or for happiness, safety and security to magically appear over the next horizon.You realize that in the real world there aren’t always fairy tale endings, and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you…and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are…and that’s OK. They are entitled to their own views and opinions.You learn the importance of loving and championing yourself…and in the process a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval.Your stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you – or didn’t do for you – and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected.You learn that people don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and everything isn’t always about you.So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself…and in the process a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance.You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties…and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness.You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. You begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you’ve outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with.You learn that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” looking for you next fix.You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a bygone era, but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life.You learn that you don’t know everything, it’s not your job to save the world and that you can’t teach a pig to sing. You learn the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry.Then you learn about love. You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You learn that alone does not mean lonely.You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO.You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs.You learn that your body really i[...]

Back in the dating pool :-(


Well, as my title suggests, I'm back in the dating pool again. Actually, however, this time, it was not due to me at all. Match Music guy got a great career opportunity on the other side of the coast. It really is a good break for the industry he is in, as he will have steadier work and be able to network with more higher status people.

In his e-mail, he was certainly happy for this new opportunity, but at the same time felt very bummed as this would affect our relationship. And in actuality, I was bummed too, as I do think we could have furthered our relationship.

There is part of me that feels like the stars were not aligned in our favor. When I say this, I mean that there were some instances (out of his control) where he had to cancel dates, such as a virus on his computer and a bad alternator in his car last week, and then at one point he thought I was letting him go in not suggesting a date idea in an e-mail. Certainly, these are coincidences for sure, but it did make me wonder in a funny kind of way, like the universe was trying to tell me something. Maybe this was good that this happened now versus 6 months or a year down the road or something. I always like to believe that things happen for a reason. If things are meant to be, then they come back to you in one way shape or form, at least this is my viewpoint on life, experiences, learning lessons, and loss.

In any case, I wrote a nice e-mail back saying what I've said here, that I'd be selfish not to be happy for him, and that I'm sure he will find someone there, though this means he will also be back in the dating pool, something he does not enjoy. So, there you have it. Last week would have been our 4th date. I guess this is a new record for me, but :sigh: it's back to dating again.

Guest visitors


So while I've been busy with things here, I also have a few new visitors. I'm not sure how long they are staying. The story is that they are from a hoarder in Chicago. A shelter took them in, but they were going to be euthanized, so some local rat rescues here, took them. It was a total of 21 rats they had to find placements for. The way rats work is that they have to be quarantined for 2-4 weeks with no other rats to ensure they are healthy. Otherwise, the entire rat colony can be killed.



The two I have, a pair of girls, I've named Matilda and Tallulah. I've never had pet rats before, but they are fun. They are easy to take care of in terms of maintenance, however, rat-proofing can be hard, harder than bunny proofing, at least in my house anyway.

I've had the girls a week in a half, and they are doing well. Matilda is more outgoing, but both take treats from me, climb into my lap, etc. Tallulah, however, will hide after a period of time out.

Anyway, if you've never had a pet rat, and you want something that is pretty easy to take care of and trainable, a rat might be for you. They are not smelly like a ferret either. They keep themselves very well groomed and do enjoy being around humans, at least these two. However, if you have other animals, you need to take caution with that. The other species may not be too happy with them, as evidence of Clover thumping for 2 hours after they got here.

Re-opening wounds


For several weeks, I had known about an upcoming dinner for some local dog trainers. It happens that the annual dog training conference I've been attending since 2003, will literally be in my backyard this year. It is really exciting to have such an big event here, and I'm hopeful it will be just as good or even better than other past conferences.

I had already told the event coordinator I was going, however, I also knew there was a high chance my former boss would be there. After all, we are in the same town and belong to the same organization. It took me awhile, but I finally was brazen enough to ask the event coordinator if she had RSVP'd. I guess I did not want to have to feel anxiety or feel paranoid for nothing, but at the same time, I did not want to sound petty. Yep, you guessed it, she RSVP'd.

I was the very first person to arrive, and she was the last person to come. There were a total of 16 people there--6 of us were trainers, the rest were committee members. The dinner was mostly for the local people--to see if they would be interested in being a part of the local arrangements team, of which I will be leading. For me, it was also a chance to chat with some old friends and catch up.

Overall, the dinner went well, but there was definitely an awkwardness between her and me, as well as another dog trainer who had also worked for her after me. I know we both glanced a few times in each other's direction, but we mostly avoided eye contact at all costs. She spoke to a few people sitting around her, and I spoke to a good number of people in general. The one thing I know I had was support from good friends and members who had also helped out with the conference last year. THAT made a huge difference for me, as I was reminded how valuable and recognized I was for all my hard work last year and the years preceding.

I try to remind myself that this was probably a weird feeling for her as well, but I cannot say old wounds were not re-opened. It's been close to a year since that day (you can look back through the archives if you are interested), and a year since we've had any contact at all--no phone, no e-mail, no anything. It is hard when you are in the same town at times. I think this is a situation that would have caused more rapidly healing from afar, ie "out of sight, out of mind."

Certainly, I have moved on and done my own thing which is coming along, but still, it is hard knowing that she and I will have to have some contact over the next 8 months. People tell me to be the bigger person, and of course I am, but sometimes, you do get tired of being the bigger person when you do not see others doing that as well. I think the most helpful thing for me is to remind myself that we truly are on the same team. I know we both want an outstanding conference and to be able to help as much as possible. I know we are both for the positive, scientific dog training movement, despite the fact our approaches are very different. 

I guess this will be a good test to see if this old wound can heal.



This morning started out as any usual one--coffee, feed dogs/bunny, check e-mail, check facebook, debate on things to do today, figure out some semblance of a schedule, eat breakfast, etc. All the day's normal. Then, out of the blue, I received this in one of my e-mail boxes:Hello Tiptoe, I wanted to thank you for the MOST beautiful card and note...Are you training dogs?Give a call if you come to the area!LOVE, CSI left one sentence out for privacy reasons, but just this note alone made me surprised, happy, and weepy. So, who was this person? This was my first therapist, CS (this is different from C. my former therapist, whom I have talked about before in this blog) from when I was 16 years old. I saw her from that time up until I left for college. We've kept in touch off and on for the last 15 years. It helps that my mom lives in the same city, and at one point, the psychiatrist my mom saw was in the same building as CS's. I used to feel very awkward about this close proximity, but as time has passed, it no longer matters to me.CS has always held a very special place in my heart. Besides the fact that she was my first therapist (she specialized in eating disorders and substance abuse), I think I was one of her early clients as well. I think part of why I have always held a deep fondness for her was, because I shared quite a lot with her than I had anyone else, and she did more things for me that probably nowadays many therapist would not do for keeping a strict patient/therapist boundary. For example, (and this was many years ago), but she came to my house when I cancelled my appt., saying I did not feel well when really, I had od'ed on a bunch of pills. Yeah, I'm not too proud of that moment. She called my mom, went to the hospital, and all the rest is history. Then, she once came when I was in a psych ward for adolescents, though she did tell them I had and ED and needed to be monitored. I was not in there for an ED at that time--more depression, suicidal tendencies. The only regret I had with her was that she did not push further for me to go into a higher level of care, (of course I was in denial about this at the time) something I think now could have turned me around faster, than oh 10 years later when I finally decided to actually truly try to recover.Anyway, this brought back some nostalgia as I had not heard from her in a long time. I usually send holiday cards and try to touch base when I'm visiting my mom, but that is typically rare, more for logistical reasons than not enjoying the visits. In the early days, like 2-3 years after I stopped seeing her, occasionally, I'd get a surprise card from her. And it always touched me in the fact that she remembered me. But as time has gone by, and we've both moved on with our lives, we've also lost touch a bit, except for my holiday cards. This is actually the first time in years that I know her e-mail address! I don't think that was intentional, but I always tried to be respectful of therapists who did not want to have e-mail contact. Now, if I was seeing one, it would likely be one of my first questions to ask just so I'd know and not always be wondering.Besides the fact that this post made me nostalgic and kind of weepy, I think it reminds me of the impact people make on our lives. All the long-term therapists I've had over the years have in one way or another made a difference to me. I've been fortunate that I haven't had to go through a slew of them to find ones that I connected with, whether that was as a therapist or other professional. And for that, I'm always thankful. This isn't to say that these are the only ones who have made impacts on my life, these are just people who I've shared much more of my personal life with.  And for that I'm really thankful they were there at that specific time in my life.  I just hope too that in my chosen pr[...]

Possible relationship?


Today's post: dating. Some people love it, others hate it. I think I fall in the in-between. In my last post, I mentioned a new Match guy. I'll call him Music Match. We've had two dates so far and both went really well. But then, there was a snafu last night. He wanted to come by and pick me up at my house which made me uber uncomfortable. I said I'd rather meet somewhere. This led him to feel like I was not trusting him, that this offended him, that I was being paranoid, and that by the third date, it was customary for a guy to pick up his date at her place. We ended this chat at midnight and continued it this morning.

He wrote an e-mail, apologizing for jumping down my throat, expressing what he felt, why he felt that way, and that yes, he was interested in a relationship with me. The e-mail was very helpful and it did make sense. He's not a dater, he's had some failed relationship experiences, is ready for a real relationship, expects "barriers" as he puts it to be broken down by each date (my comment of meeting elsewhere made him feel like we were at square 1), the time and financial commitment he's made so far (it is a 90 minute drive for him, and our dates have been 3-4 hours long), and that he understood if I wanted to "shop" around.

I responded back giving my viewpoint which was helpful to him as well. Basically, I said I was not a "shopper," that I did think there was relationship potential, that I equated "house/visiting" with intimacy which sort of scares me (okay scares me a lot), that I understood the financial and time commitment (though I must admit in the back of my head, I'm thinking if he is already moving here, then he it's like a kill two birds with one stone type of thing), and that we likely both overreacted a little.

He agreed with all I said and said if he was going to pick me up, it would be a drive by, honk the horn type of thing which did make me feel better. But still, it did almost seem like he was going to dump me just because I wouldn't let him pick me up at my house.

We corresponded back and forth for a few additional e-mails, and one statement jumped out at me: "I've met women in the past where it would take a bulldozer to get through the walls they've built up over the years." Gosh, I'm really hoping that is not me. I reassured him I was not that type of woman, but does fear of intimacy make me that type of woman? He apparently is a bit opposite in this way and easily displays it once in a relationship. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like intimacy (in whatever form), but I have some reservations about it. Plus, I think body image issues kind of wave back in. This almost made me feel like calling my former T. who I haven't spoken to in like two years, though I have sent her holiday cards. Then, I think that maybe I'm jumping the gun a bit, and once I feel more comfortable, I will feel differently.

In a funny kind of way, we are both glad we had this conversation. We plan on meeting on Monday.

So to all you daters out there, does his seem fast? Was I overreacting in not wanting him to pick me up at my house? Do you equate house visiting with intimacy?

A semi-update


I've been wanting to give an update on here and tell everyone about my new endeavors, however, I realized that would not be the best thing until after a few months. I promise soon thought to announce it. Actually, it probably won't surprise many of you anyway, but it was quite a big step for me to take in life. With that, there are always worries and concerns, but I'm trying hard not to let all those small things affect me and just see where this goes.

So what else is going on with my life? Well, my teeth are still a big issue. The other day I had 4 cavities filled, so my entire mouth was numb! One cavity, near the bridge that needs to be taken off, is quite achey. I may have to get the bridge off sooner than I had planned. Eating disorders really kill your teeth even AFTER the fact when you are in recovery. So please people, take your teeth seriously.

How is recovery going for me? Actually pretty good for the most part. I still have a bit of woes of thinking, this is a bit flabby, or I could tone up, or run more, etc., but overall, I haven't denied myself intentionally in a long time, so long I can't really remember. I use the word intentionally there, because there have been times where I skipped breakfast due to lack of cognizant thought, or getting carried away with other work. At my dentist appt., that was one of the first things I asked , when can I eat?

Over the holidays, I had a lot of yummy desserts, spent time with my dad, went to the Zoo's Festival of Lights, and saw the new rendition of Footloose. It turned into a nice holiday.

Surprisingly, my biggest goal for the holiday was to get Clover to wear a Santa hat for a photo. It took awhile, but after some problem solving, I finally got her to wear it. Here's a photo of her:

Lastly, I'm back on the dating bandwagon. I had a really nice 3-hour lunch date with a new Match guy. He lives 90 minutes away but is moving to this area in the next 3 months, so he is currently looking at property. We're meeting again this week. This guy is also very different--a music writer but not like the musician type. I'll see if this goes anywhere. Those reading the blog long enough know I've had quite a few first and last dates.

Happy Holidays!


I know it has been forever since I have written, and I promise, I'll write an update on things going on in Tiptoe's life. It's been rather busy in a positive way.

But I want to take a moment and wish all of you a Happy Holiday! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or anything else, I hope you have a wonderful holiday! I know holidays are not easy for everyone, but I hope you can rest aside your demons, treat yourself well, and simply enjoy the day.

As always, here are a few holiday photos from my crew. I'm still working on the photo of Clover with her Santa hat.



SAR trip


Some of you may have wondered how my first Search and Rescue seminar went last weekend. Overall, it went really really well. Part of my fears were re-evaluated, others did come true. But in the end, I was able to handle them all.First, the good: Tovah did great! For the last several weeks, I had forgone working on what we call an "indication" with her - the alert that tells the handler, "yes, there is something here." Instead, I had done some other exercises to up her enthusiasm. When I came into this seminar, my criteria for her was just to find the cadaver odor. Well, she not only found it, but she indicated too. I was both surprised and thrilled.This is a scent box. A scent, whatever it may be, cadaver, a drug, etc. will be placed in it. The dog smells it, and then when indicating correctly, a ball is thrown into the tube. Dogs who are very ball-driven love this! Tovah likes balls but prefers food. But when it is novel, she goes for the ball immediately.She had a little trouble with some scenarios, but that is mostly the workings of a beginner. The scenarios where she had to indicate were: 2 hidden cadaver odors on trails, the perimeter of an empty cabin, inside the empty cabin, and discriminate the correct birdhouse (of 5) with the cadaver scent. We did this both on Saturday and Sunday, and Sunday, she was even better. I was truly excited for her.My fear that she was "not good" enough was pre-emptive. Sometimes, I have this impression that my dog must be "intense" as many I see, but as one attendee with a dual certified dog in both HRD (human remains detection) and live-find (meaning finding a live person) said, "You don't need an intense dog, just a dog who will get the job done." Those were great words for me to hear.On Saturday night, we had a mock night search. Basically, we split up into 7 teams. Then, we had certain locations that we were to search in. Some of us were searching for "evidence," while others were looking for missing persons. My team was looking for "evidence." The people organizing the seminar, they actually go and plant the "evidence" and the missing persons, aka mannequins. I was so happy for myself in finding an empty milk dud container that could have been evidence. A teammate found the "gun" which was the major item we were supposed to find. The other teams found most of what they were supposed to as well. It is a bit strange, because although this seminar was at a state park, why in the heck would some people be walking around on the trails at night when it is pitch dark with no lights! One team also spotted Abraham Lincoln! I later learned from some of my other teammates that sometimes the searches had to be called off. The most recent, a few years ago, was some campers who had a meth lab going. Eeek!Now, the fear that did come true was the food situation. I knew it was going to be dining hall style meals, but they did not expect any who were vegetarian. (I do eat fish, but there were none) The cooks just happen to overhear me talking to another person how I was vegetarian, so he pulled me aside and showed me what they had. Yep, you guessed it, salad. Not that I mind that so much, but the salad was the bagged pre-made mostly iceberg lettuce type. I think the only other thing to be added to it was tomatoes. I do not call myself a food snob per se, but if I have a salad to eat, it is with nutritious foods--no iceberg lettuce for me! also, I almost always add some protein source--fish, a veggie burger, tofu, etc.I had two options: either fret and not eat or make do with what I had. I chose the latter. Plus, I would have felt guilty since the people were so kind to me. They wanted to make sure I had something to eat. They basically gave me special treatm[...]

First Search and Rescue seminar preparation


Tomorrow, Tovah and I are leaving for our first Search and Rescue seminar. I am STOKED but also incredibly nervous. We will be meeting up with another SAR dog person (I met her a few months ago at one of our group training sessions, and we really hit it off - she owns a small daycare and boarding kennel) and following each other to the camp site.Since she has been there before, she has given me some idea of what to expect. This is good for me, because I get really nervous at these kinds of settings, partly for dog reasons, partly for me reasons.The dog reasons: I get worried that my dog will do horribly, and that the instructor will say she is not fit to do this work. I get worried that she will not behave that well (really she is pretty good except meeting new dogs on leash - hence partly why I haven't done the CGC test with her).  I know this really small potatoes, but there is still an element of wanting to excel there, especially as a dog trainer and being around such knowledgeable, trained people and dogs. As for the me reasons: I have no idea what food is there other than I've been told, they feed you really well. I have no idea of the conditions of the cabin. I just know I need to bring my own bedding. I think everything else is furnished, but I just worry anyway. Though I'm really excited about the mock night trial (no dogs, just handlers), I feel unprepared. I know I have some stuff for "survival" if needed but not all of it. Some of that stuff is expensive! I've been told there is a time limit of 4 hours to find the victim. Apparently, one year it took the entire 4 hours, but last year it only took like 10 minutes. I know some people would relate this similar to the large conference I was at in San Diego. The difference with this one is that I'm really going in blindly. At least with the conference, there was predictability. Certainly, I have gotten better with this over time, but still, it does cause some anxiety.And then, there is my car. Yesterday, my car overheated. Luckily, I was only 0.5 mile from my house at a stoplight when all the sudden I see steam from my car. Then, I look at my thermostat on "H." I made it home, shut off the car, got stuff out of my car, called a repair shop, and then called AAA to tow my car there. (By the way, if you don't have AAA, it is worth getting. There is no cost if you have to be towed, and you can have multiple people on the policy) The strange thing is that I didn't have any indication from my car, other than a slightly unpleasant smell which I did not think anything of. I had this happen before when I was 16 and blew the transmission out I believe, so I was expecting some kind of similar sign but did not notice anything.The car repair place called this morning and said it was a radiator problem.  The good news is that it is an easy repair and the car will be fixed today.  The bad news is that it is more costly than I'd like.  However, I know it could have been worse.  In the back of my mind, I almost though this was some sort of weird sign telling me I shouldn't go. I also learned one of the main roads to get to the camp site is closed until early December.  I'm hoping the GPS reroutes me well and doesn't take me through some small windy roads.This is certainly an adventure.  I'm hoping to learn a lot, make some new contacts, and simply have fun.  Oh yes, and there is a helicopter landing!  I'll give an update when I get back.[...]

Unlabel me


I don't have a huge amount of time right now - really need to be doing other computer things, but I wanted to post this photo. (It's been sitting in my draft folder for a week now)  I was reminded of it when I recently read a post by another dog trainer talking about how some of her friends called her the "Dog Whisperer."  I have also been named this at times as well.  None of this would be so bad other than this trainer and myself, well, we just don't align with the modern day Dog Whisperer techniques (Paul Owens was actually the original dog whisperer, titling a book the same name back in 1999. His book offered dog training guidance in compassionate, non-violent methods)  Although the people who "label" us this do not mean any offense by it, but rather, they are actually trying to give a compliment of sorts.

So labels, do they give importance? What are the values in them? I can see both sides of the argument on this, but for the purpose of this blog on eating disorder recovery, labels do have a tendency to narrow you into one definition. Anyone who has dealt with insurance certainly knows this.

In recovery, I think a lot of us try to shed the label of whatever eating disorder you may have had. We find we are much for than a definition, and we actually begin to value ourselves as such. We find that we want others to see us differently - as a person with a lot more qualities than how we appeared when suffering.

In thinking this, what labels do you want to shed? Is it only the ED one or are there are others as well? It's good food for thought. :-)

Celebrating both a Halloween and a Birthday


Well, Halloween wasn't really that exciting. I had all of 4 trick or treaters. Last year, I had more, so I'm not sure what happened. I guess it is probably not helpful that my outdoor light by the front door does not work. One girl who came by lives catty-corner to me. As I gave her her candy, she excitedly told me how they have a new dog....again. In the two years I have been here, they have had at lest 4 dogs. The running trend is that they either realize the dog is too hyper for them, the dog gets run over by a car, or they just don't want that particular dog due to not being trained. I keep wondering what life lesson this actually teaches the little girl in the long run.Anyway, something I've learned or rather at least gotten past is my fear of having too much candy around. In years past at Halloween, I'd make sure to pick candy I did not like. That way, I could either give it to people or throw it away. I was too afraid of my eating disorder tendencies. Just the fact of it being there used to worry me immensely. Now, however, I actually choose candy that I like and will eat. I've learned that eating a piece of candy or two is truly okay. And gasp, there are times I kind of crave it. However, I do know my limit too, meaning if my body has too much sugar in any form, I tend to get major gastrointestinal upset. And that is definitely not fun.Though I'm posting this a bit late, this photo was passed around facebook recently, at least among the dog community. It was one of the better decorations out there.On another note, today was also Tovah's birthday. She turned a whole 3 years old. It's really hard to believe that much time has passed. Here was my facebook status for today:Dearest Tovah,Today, you turn 3 years old! You came into my life on a mere run - having almost passed you. But yet, because you had such a wonderful temperament, I wound up keeping you. It was one of the best decisions I made. I could not imagine my life without you. You have turned into a wonderful and beautiful dog. Happy Birthday, Little One.Love, your momMore posts on Tovah's story:Perhaps, a new addition?A few puppy photosMeet Tovah Aliyah!Can't stop cryingSome things have a happy ending[...]

Leaps of faith


We've often talked about the whole analogy about taking a leap of faith and never have I felt this as much as I do now. There's no doubt that I've had my share of big changes in my life. Some are incredibly common like college, sports, living on my own, moving, etc. Some of the ones that are not as common would be: adoption and taking a leave of absence from college. However, now, I have a big change again. One that I think will be for the better, but one that I don't think I ever imagined either. Basically, it is venturing out on my own, becoming confident in my abilities, having something I can call my "own," and all getting paid for it.

San Diego conference


I meant to post while I was in San Diego, but I was very busy the entire time I was at the conference. When I hit San Diego, I was off and running. You learn quickly that when you have 1000+ people at a conference, there is a lot of set up involved.The conference staff comprised of 18 people who worked very hard the entire time we were there. I was literally running back and forth from one side of the resort to the other. I seemed to do this everyday too! This was not helpful for my pants who did fit but were weighted down by a walkie talkie I had to wear.Overall, it was a fabulous conference! I was especially thrilled with how the workshops went since I put a lot of work and effort into setting them up. In the end, the speakers and attendees were happy. They all learned some helpful information to take back with them.I have to admit I probably only sat through one or two full presentations, but to me, it seemed okay. I know I'll get the cd in several months, so maybe this will be a good incentive for me to listen to it. LOLThere were only a few political issues that went on--way too much to post here. Basically, things should have been handled a little differently, and in the end, I was really disappointed in how some people behaved. Despite the fact that our organization strives for using positive reinforcement techniques, it is too bad that some people cannot implement this to their fellow colleagues. I've since learned that some of the most positive trainers can be so negative towards other people.Anyway, remember I told you about the guests I brought with me on this trip. Well, here's our Flat Kennel Club with Clover as an honorary member. LOLThe Border Collies won Best in Show with the Rottie, Bo, coming in second. In total, we raised $295.15 for the San Diego Animal Services. It was a good start for the first year. Next year, we are opening it to anyone attending the conference and having people pay for an entry, like in a real dog show. We also took all the attendees to Mission Beach which was received well. This dog named Jack from Leash Your Fitness did a brief surfing demo. He was such a ham!He also found the clams quite interesting as you can see here and below.I also got a chance to meet up with my mom's husband's son's spouse. I had seen pictures of her before, but she was beautiful to see in person. She reminds me of one of those Asian super stars. We went to a nice Korean BBq place and chatted a good bit about her dog who has some issues. I figured since it is family, I can give out free advice, though I have learned from the past, they are often the most difficult to actually believe and do what you say.On the last day of the conference, my friend and I took photos of us by the Lionhead Fountain. We joked that if you said to someone, "I'm by the fountain" or "I'm by these flowers," you'd have to ask which one? There were an abundance of fountains and flowers--roses, impatiens, and many others all over the resort. Lastly, I think one of the best things about the conference was that I had very little food or exercise issues. There were times when breakfast was a bit skimpy due to time and no concierge lounge like last year, but I always had a decent dinner. (lunch could be iffy at times) I had some great desserts while there, and even had two desserts one evening! I think a lot of the exercise issues waned simply because I was moving around while I was there so much. One person told me afterwards that she lost a few pounds while there from all the walking we did.Next year, the conference will be very close to me. I'm stoked on getting things toget[...]

A few guests accompanying me on this trip


I'm currently finishing up packing for my trip. Actually, I was so proud of myself for being a day ahead of schedule, and then the dreaded feeling of I need to clean came upon me. Therefore, my packing got delayed by an hour in a half.  It's about done, just last minute items to place.

Though I'm already really tired from this week being busy, I'm hoping pure adrenaline will keep me going this week.  I'm really looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones.  I'm also looking forward to our new "Flat Pet" contest.  A number of us are bringing our do it yourself flat pets.  I'm bringing 5 flat pets, well, Clover twice.

I may do one of Hank as well.  I ran out of time but brought my flash drive with me, so if I have time, I'll do his as well.  It's kind of cool to bring your own flat pet with you.  It's like being able to take them anywhere.  

The next time I write, I'll be in sunny San Diego!!

Falling off the bandwagon


Before anyone gasps at the title or starts to worry about me, it is not me that fell off the bandwagon. Rather, it is my neighbor. I found this out last night when she asked if I had a minute to speak to her. Earlier in the week, she had called me apologizing about the other night and said if I wanted to talk to give her a call. I didn't call back the next day, so she took it as I was pissed at her and left my book Drinking I had let her borrow in my mail box. I figured she thought we were on bad terms and did not want to "owe" me anything.  Do you notice other people do this as well--it's like having no reminder of you.Anyway, I was incredibly busy this week and was going to leave a note in her mailbox before I left, saying I was not angry with her, that I had found the dogs an alternative, and she need not worry. Yes, this was partly a little avoidance on my part, but truly, I was in and out all week.Yesterday, after I finished mowing, she asked if I had a minute to talk with her. She apologized and confessed that she had fallen off the bandwagon and begun drinking again. Part of the reason why she never acknowledged me the night of our disagreement was that she did not want me to smell alcohol on her breath.  Obviously, it was no excuse for what she said or how she behaved, but it did at least give a partial reason. There are some other things going on in her life as well, and I think she feels very overwhelmed. I suggested she see an individual therapist besides just going to AA groups. She agreed, so I hope she will do that.Interestingly enough, in one sentence she tells me how hard it is for her to come over 3x/day to take care of my pets, how she does not have an everyday schedule, but in the same breath, she says how she could take care of them this week, and how she doesn't break commitments.  Huh? I told her everything had been arranged and not to worry about it.We ended the conversation with me telling her that this tiff we had was not ending our friendship which made her feel a lot better.  I really do think she would have been really sad if it had.When I think about this entire scenario, it reminds of me of my former roommate who was an alcoholic.  With her, (and I do not suggest to other people to do this), but I took her on like a project.  Somehow, I thought I could help/save her.  I should also add  here I had enough of my problems at this time as well, but this was a bit of a distraction I suppose. Truly, the only thing I did was give an on outlet for stress and added some kind of structure to her life.  In the end, it did pay off.  My roommate got herself on track and has been doing well since.  I don't know if my neighbor falls into the same category as alike as  these two individuals are.  Her dynamics are different--there are 3 older boys and her husband.  Sometimes, I wonder if I am falling into the same situation as before.  I certainly try not to be my neighbor's therapist or anything (in fact, she thinks I'm bossy at times anyway), but I do try to suggest things or at least give a different point of view or be a source of support.  Surprisingly, she does remember more than I have given her different for--her long term memory is there but her short term is lacking.Anyway, I think this is a good reminder for me to realize my boundaries.  It is not easy as there is always a yearning to help someone in need, but at the same time, you have to be careful with yourself too.[...]

3 days until San Diego!


There is good news: I found places for both my dogs and Clover. The dogs will be going to a new boarding facility--one that has similar training, health, feeding, and vaccination policies. Yay! Though it is a reasonable/lowest charge for boarding I've seen in awhile, it is still a good chunk of money.

Typically, I do not go to a place sight-unseen, but I'm going by my good dog training friend's word. She's been there before and taken classes. This place is a little different in that it is in-home boarding on 8 acres. They will have time to play with other dogs, so I think they will enjoy it.

Clover will be visiting her foster mom, Rachel where there are currently 6 foster kittens. I'm interested to see how Clover does, interacting with different species than dogs again. I just hope she is a good girl. ;-)

So overall, things have come together, and I think everyone is in the best place they can be. The other good news is that my car is all fixed and received an oil change. I had a trunk lock issue problem for awhile and had been procrastinating getting it fixed. Well, I could not lock it yesterday and feared that traveling with the dogs, the door would blow open and the dogs might go ker-plunk onto the highway pavement. Yikes ,not pretty image. Luckily, it was not a hard fix--just a good cleaning.

The week in general has been busy, but I don't feel quite as procrastinated as I usually do. My goal is to have everything done on Thursday or at least Friday morning at the latest. I know I am not going to get every single thing I had planned, but some it is just going to have to wait until I get back.

Oh, one fun thing I'm going to try to do before the conference is make my own flat pets! There are a number of us that are going to do this and display them at the conference. We will be holding a contest as well. It should be great fun!

I'll likely post one last time before heading out to sunny San Diego.

My stress-o-meter just went up


So, as in my last post, I said how I was busy and overwhelmed. Check, still am. However, now, that stress-o-meter went up a notch. I thought I had everything set for who was going to take care of my dogs and Clover while I was gone. Both my neighbors agreed to help out. Well, one of my neighbors cancelled on me. This is the same neighbor whom I had been reminding for months about it, suggested that she needed to write it down, so she would remember the dates, etc. She agreed and said she could, and told me to remind her.

When I called today, she said "I need to take care of myself, my family, and my God." She went on to explain that she has learned that she is too trusting, too gullible, needs to start saying no, how she has realized some people do not have her best interest at heart, how some people are manipulative, etc. Now, I know she was not addressing this personally to me, but damn, it sure felt like it for some reason.

I understand having a lot on your plate (trying to recover from alcoholism, having lung surgery at the end of the month), no doubt, but couldn't she have decided this like a month ago? There were some hurtful things said, and though neither or us want enemies (that seems like a strong word here), I've pretty much learned that I cannot depend on this neighbor anymore at all. It's an awful feeling, because I really wanted to have some neighbors that I could depend on or at least have a nice relationship of looking out for one another. I guess in the end, everything winds up about money, or at least that is a component somewhere even if no one admits it.

Sometimes, this is the time when I wish I was married or had a significant other. That way, I wouldn't have to worry about my animals being in someone else's care while I was gone. I know what my options are: pet sitter or boarding--just don't know whether either will work out for different reasons. But I have to make something work in the end.

Busy...but overwhelmed


Just want to say that things have been crazy busy here. I leave for my big dog conference a week from Saturday I'm excited to go, but in the meantime, stress is really building on me.  This year, my role has been upgraded, so I feel a little more pressure to ensure things run smoothly. 

I had manged things pretty well dealing with stress up until now, and it is like this week everything fell into the category of "overwhelm."  

I'm trying to get a lot done before I leave for the conference which includes:
  • Dog food preparation.  I have to order enough food, then prepare it all in pre-packaged meals for my neighbors to easily feed.  If this was kibble, it would be easy, but it is raw food/veggies/fruits.
  • Bunny food preparation.  I find doing the same thing with the bunny as the dogs is the easiest thing for my neighbors--this means ziploc bags of her veggies and pellets.
  • Car oil change--luckily, I have a $20 coupon
  • Lots of work-related things.  I'll put it this way.  When you are starting from scratch, it can be a bit difficult.  Not that I haven't gotten a lot done, but there is always more to do.
  • Dog vet appointment.  I will begrudgingly have to get a Vaccine for Tovah.  It goes against my ethics, but at the same time, it is the only way I can take her to a nearby SAR seminar in November.
  • Time to exercise.  Seriously this has been majorly lacking the last 1 1/2 weeks.  I took a run with the group last night and ran a week prior to that, but only short walks in between.
  • Finishing up work for the big dog conference.
  • Considering picking up a few bartending shifts at the Zoo next week.   This makes it really hairy since they are all mid-week towards the end but really need the additional money.
  • Buy food/snacks to take with me on my trip.  
  • Figure out my insurance bill.  For whatever reason, my physical therapist put in two different diagnoses for several of my appointment, thus resulting in being billed for 2 appointments rather than one.  How frustrating!
I know the best thing for me to do is just to breathe, organize, and cross things off one at a time.  So easy to say, so hard to do sometimes.

1st bartending gig


Yesterday, I had my first bartending gig. The day before, we had a walk-thru of what was going to happen, and many of us felt nervous as this was our first event.  Some of us felt like we were being thrown to the wolves! The event itself was the big annual fundraiser for the zoo.  Tickets were not cheap, ranging in price from $200-$3000.  However, 2250 people were willing to pay the price for this big gala event.  There were some big name sponsors plus around 75 restaurants, offering samples of their food. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to taste any of them which was so disappointing.  Some chefs near us said we should just sneak off somewhere and eat their food.  Instead, we were given pizza and soda before our shift.  Neither are my favorite to eat, but this was my only option for the next 8 hours.  At the beginning of our shift, it was pretty slow.  We were all just standing around, waiting for people to show up.  The people at my station were just as nervous as me.  We had all gone to the bartending school with the exception of 1 person.  I think all of us had reviewed our recipe cards the night before, afraid we'd be asked some obscure drink to make.  Luckily, this was not the case at all--it was mostly cocktails and easy highballs drinks--gin and tonic, vodka and cranberry (Cape Codder), rum and coke, etc.  The entire night, I made only 2 whiskey sours and 1 margarita.  A few people wanted Cosmos, but we weren't carrying all the ingredients for that drink.Once we were busy, it was jammin' in there, and the time went by quickly.  By the end of the night, there were more than a few people wasted (I think one guy asked me for at least 4 screwdrivers-vodka and orange juice), but all looked like they had a good time.  Though no one was required to tip, we still had people who did which was nice.  The bad part is that we have to split the tips, so overall with at least 20-30 of us, it won't be a lot.  All in all, I was pretty pleased with how everything went.  It is too bad, because we (the bartenders) have been asked if we can do additional events for various picnics, parties, etc., but unfortunately, right now is about the worst time possible as I'm busy with a lot of other things.  Otherwise, I'd be jumping on these opportunities.  I will probably still do the ones I can, but still, it's like "where were you 2-3 months ago?" Anyway, I think it was a good experience for me.  I did however realize that I suck at uncorking wine bottles, so I was quite thankful for the guy beside who could do this well and promptly.  So, those are the details of my first bartending gig.  Once I got home--around 1:30am, I went straight to bed.  I was hopeful to sleep in, but alas, that did not happen.  I think the rest of the day is going to be a bit on the lazy side--chores around the house, catching up on some documentation work, etc.Hope everyone has a good weekend![...]

Teeth issues don't go away


Yesterday's dental appointment wound up disasterous. First, I was 20 minutes late, having gotten lost going a different way or a way that I thought was the right way. By the time, I arrived, I figured I would have to reschedule. But they allowed me to have my dental cleaning since the person who was after me never confirmed her appt.

This appt. was a basic cleaning-no big deal, right?  At the end of my appt., the hygienist said there was a shadow on one of my upper teeth.  She went ahead and did an x-ray.  When the dentist came in, it was confirmed a large cavity.  Then, I had the dentist look at this one place on my upper gum line that has been irritated for months.  When I last asked about this, she said she did not see anything but some trauma.

Well, a new x-ray showed a massive infection there.  Ugh!  I knew something was not right there.  Several weeks ago, I even had a few blood-like blisters.  So the treatment is either a root canal to save the tooth or remove the tooth.  If I remove the tooth, there would be no teeth left on my left upper side which seems like a horrible option.  But then, if I go with the root canal and crown option, I will max out my dental benefits for the year and would owe about $1,000.  Apparently, they can make it slightly cheaper for me by only doing part of the crown, then waiting until after the first of the year to do the rest.  

To be honest, neither option sounds great.  I know in my last post about my dental problems, I sounded pretty good and tried to make a point for others not to follow in my footsteps.  But yesterday and today, I just feel upset about it.  It's like my teeth issues will never get better and will likely just go with me to my grave.  I know that sounds so morbid, but I just feel like I never get  a break.  I've put off some of the major procedures simply because they are too financially costly--think at least 3 implants and  new bridge.  

There is something else with all of this that runs in the back of my mind.  If my teeth are this bad as a major consequence of purging, imagine if I'd been a multiple-a-day purger.  My guess is that I wouldn't have any teeth left at all.  

For now, I'm on antibiotics for the infection and will go back to he dentist in a few weeks for the root canal.  In some ways, I feel like not saving this tooth, but I hate feeling toothless too.  Argh, what a horrible conundrum!  I hope others do not face my plight!

The "In-Between State"


I do not know if you are familiar with Pema Chodron, a well known Buddhist nun.  She's written a number of books about meditation and applying it to your everyday life.  This passage from her book, The Places that Scare You.  If you have not read it, please do so. 

I read it a number of years ago and found it very helpful.  I actually remember this passage well about the "In-between state."  I think there are a lot of us that struggle with this in recovery.  As I like to say with anything I read, people I hear, etc., there is always something to learn from them all--take what you want and leave the rest.

We are told about the pain of chasing after pleasure and the futility of running from pain. We hear also about the joy of awakening, of realizing our interconnectedness, of trusting the openness of our hearts and minds. But we aren't told all that much about this state of being in-between, no longer able to get our old comfort from the outside but not yet dwelling in a continual sense of equanimity and warmth.
Anxiety, heartbreak, and tenderness mark the in-between state. It's the kind of place we usually want to avoid. The challenge is to stay in the middle rather than buy into struggle and complaint. The challenge is to let it soften us rather than make us more rigid and afraid. Becoming intimate with the queasy feeling of being in the middle of nowhere only makes our hearts more tender. When we are brave enough to stay in the middle, compassion arises spontaneously. By not knowing, not hoping to know, and not acting like we know what's happening, we begin to access our inner strength. 
Yet, it seems reasonable to want some kind of relief. If we can make the situation right or wrong, if we can pin it down in any way, then we are on familiar ground. But something has shaken up our habitual patterns and frequently they no longer work. Staying with volatile energy gradually becomes more comfortable than acting out or repressing it. This open-ended tender place is called bodhichitta. Staying with it is what heals. It allows us to let go of our self-importance. It's how the warrior learns to love.