Meet Seiglinde.

I’m a little late on this post, since we got her in June and she’s pretty much a full grown dog by now, but better late than never I suppose.

puppy play

So this is Seiglinde. Pronounced Zig-Lin-Deh.

I call her Linde (Lindy) for short. My mom and I spent the entire hour and a half ride up and back from the breeder’s arguing about her name. Ultimately Mom won, since she’s her dog not mine.

Tongue out

Seiglinde is Brunhilde’s half sister. They share a poodle father. They are both also characters in a Wagner opera – one of the Ring cycle shows. I don’t know which one. I never cared for Wager. I was always more of a Puccini girl, myself.

But anyway, the characters are half sisters too, so there you go.

So, this is Linde.

Playful Linde

And Linde? Linde is an asshole.

Rough housing

While Hilde had a rough introduction into our lives, what made it rough was entirely outside of her control. No puppy is going to be perfectly perfect when trapped in a cast for two weeks. She was strong willed and resilient, indeed – but once the cast came off, the stubborn streak went away. And even with it on, she was sweet and learned super quickly and willingly.

Hilde had (and still has) a need to please. She likes making us happy. She likes being given tasks. In fact, she trained so easily and so quickly we thought that there might be something wrong with her at first. No puppy is this obliging. It must be too good to be true.

It wasn’t. Hilde is just awesome. She lives to serve. Probably would have made a great service dog if we weren’t too busy spoiling the living bejeezus out of her.

Cowlick

Lindy, on the other hand?

Yea, she’s just as strong willed and resilient as her sister… but in very different ways.

Hilde needs to please. Linde, on the other hand… need to BE pleased.

Post op puppy

She is stubborn, and strong willed, and when she decides she wants something, by golly she’s going to have it. She barks incessantly, she picks fights with her sister, she plays way too rough, and she has taken FOREVER to train by our standards. Simply put, she is a demanding dog.

But she is also hilarious, sweet, and a barrel of fun.

That Smile

And most importantly, we love her. And I’m pretty sure she loves us too.

Seat Stealer

As long as we surrender our seats to her, anyway.

What’s Up, Wednesday?

During the lull of the last few months I’ve been…

antm logo

… listening to: America’s Next Top Model. I can’t really say that I’ve been watching it, as it’s mostly just been on in the background as I work. I like seeing the results of the photo shoots, and there’s something about Tyra Banks that I just really like for whatever reason. I don’t really have words for why I like her so much, but I do. I know she’s got a reputation for being a little bit cuckoobird, but I love it. She just seems like she’s so unabashedly her, and I admire that. I imagine it’s far easier to just be YOU, weird and goofy and all, with no worries when you’ve got a bazillion dollar empire behind you, but even so. So old seasons of ANTM have been my soundtrack for the last few weeks.

brush calligraphy

… learning: brush calligraphy. This was one of my New Years Resolutions, and unlike some other resolutions that I’ve made in the past, I’ve been working pretty consistently on this one for most of the year. I’m still just okay, but I can actively see improvement from a few months ago, so that’s pretty cool.

game of thrones

… watching: Game of Thrones. Oh. My. God. How did I not hop on this train earlier!? nnngghhhhhhh. Jim and I started watching a couple of weeks ago after my brother bought my Dad season one for Father’s Day (my dad read the first book back in the day, and enjoyed it), and after I accidentally watched the “Battle of the Bastards” episode (the apartmentmate was watching it and I perked up at the SUPER AWESOME depiction of a pitched battle… I love me a good medieval murderfest…) We’re on season 3 now. This show, man… It makes me angry and frustrated, and sad and then mad all over again… but (generally) I love every second.

sansa stark red

…obsessing over: my new Sansa Stark red hair. Basically this is the exact color I’ve always wanted. Sort of ginger, sort of brown, with just a little bit of blonde depending on the light… it’s like, perfect. And after starting to watch game of thrones? I FINALLY had something other than like a video game screenshot (my Inquisitor and my Sole Survivor have this exact color) to use as reference for my stylist. Sansa Stark red. Perfect.

pokemon go

…playing: Pokemon Go. Because who isn’t? Well, plenty of people. But I’m playing, so yea. RIP my phone battery.

armpit cuddles

… enjoying: getting to know this little brat. Sieglinde. My parent’s new Goldendoodle puppy. And brat is definitely the right word for her… But I love her. Full post on her to come.

… working on: getting my life back together. Those of you who have been around on this blog journey with me for a while know that the past year and a half have been rough for me thanks to a persistent anxiety problem. My attempts to get a handle on it by myself just really weren’t working, as the continued silence here probably made clear. So I’ve finally started therapy to get it under control, and so far the experience has been a very positive one. I feel more relaxed and in control of my life than I can remember, really since I left school.

I have what’s been referred to around the internet as “high-functioning” anxiety. It’s not something that you’d see or that you’d know I was struggling with unless you were super close to me. This article describes what it’s like to have that constant “worst case scenario” running through your head but still appear “well adjusted” (whatever that means) to the rest of the world. My triggers are different, and my version of “learning to live with it” looked a bit different, but the overall idea is the same. Someday I’ll feel like the time is right to share my whole anxiety journey with you. Because I’m still in the process of working on changing my thought patterns, that time isn’t now. But I’m feeling like there’s a real light at the end of the tunnel for the first time in a long time.

So that’s like, super great.

What have you been up to the last few months?

“You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us.” —Robert Louis Stevenson

wait

So I mentioned in my “easing back onto the blog” post that this spring has been just kind of hit after hit – it in many ways exemplified the saying, “When it rains, it pours.” But there was one hit that was significantly harder than the others…

We had to say goodbye to our older family dog Rusalka a few weeks ago.

tired plooper

It’s hit us all very hard. I’m still sort of at a loss for words, because she was… something really special. From the very day we brought her home.

Rusalka Puppy Picture

And that description is so incredibly insufficient.

genghis cuddling with rusalka

You know, when Genghis died two springs ago, I was full of words. Full of eloquent eulogies and willing remembrances. The post I wrote back then was originally three times the final length. I just had so much to say – I gushed sorrowful words and tearful memories for weeks.

Chakka and Plooper

When Chakka died last spring, it was a quieter affair. I didn’t get a chance to post about it on here, as it was in the middle of a lull in my posting, but while her loss was felt keenly, somehow the blow was softer. She had been so far gone at the end that it just seemed the natural order of things. It had certainly not been a shock, and it was a relatively smooth transition for us from sorrow to being able to remember her with a smile and a fond chuckle. But again, talking about her came easily.

christmas rusalka

With Rusalka…

snow frisbee

It’s different somehow. It’s difficult for me to put anything into words that don’t feel cheap and deficient. She was just so… good.

posing with tennis ball

I even waited a few weeks to allow it to sink in, hoping that maybe some distance would give me some time to sort out my writing. No luck.

sisters

There’s just this labrador shaped hole that I don’t know how to describe. And every time I try, it all just feels so completely… inadequate. No attempt to verbalize how amazing she was really seems to even come close to giving the full picture.

hashtag cool

So I guess the best I can do is leave you with some photos. A visual memorial of sorts. One I’m sure the internet doesn’t actually care too much about – ya’ll never met her anyway – but one that I feel like I need to post for myself.

my big baby

Rest well, Rusalka. You are missed more than you know.

Happy New Year Everyone!

brush pen

Well, it’s that time again, blogosphere. It’s a new year. And of course, inevitably that means it’s RESOLUTION TIME.

Yes.

Once again, as I always do, I’m going to come up with a list of things I want to accomplish/work at in 2016.

I haven’t been terribly successful with this kind of goal making in the past, and last year was no different (I’ll have a post next week assessing my successes and not-so-successes from 2015), but I don’t really feel like that’s a huge problem. My general attitude about these things is that it doesn’t hurt to try. I’m a big believer in the process – the idea that you don’t have to meet EVERY resolution to the letter for resolution making to help you better yourself. I honestly don’t think resolutions not met are really FAILURES – so long as there was some effort made, and so long as you tried to be conscious of your decision-making.

To me it’s all about intention, and my intention is to better myself in whatever way I can – even if I don’t necessarily meet the specific goals I originally laid out. At the risk of sounding like a motivational office poster – it’s all about the journey.

And so whether I meet them or not, I’m gonna keep making them.

So, here we go.

MY GOALS FOR 2016

Header

1) Learn Brush Calligraphy

I’ve wanted to do this for forever, plain and simple. I can do a competent Blackletter with normal calligraphy nibs already, and so I figure learning this more modern and fun style is just a matter of setting my mind to it. I can already do it some – so long as I have references (see above) – but I want to perfect my technique, learn the fonts by heart and be able to do it on the fly.

sketchbook

2) Fill a full sketchbook with figure drawing

I had “fill a sketchbook” on my list last year, and while I got close, it was mostly with attempts at hand-lettering, which, while fun, was not exactly the original goal I had in mind. See, I used to draw a ton when I was younger, and I want to get back to it – and specifically, I like drawing people. So this year I’m specifying.

reading

3) Read for at least 2 hours a week (reading not required by work) and be better about updating Goodreads.

Now that I’m an adult, I legitimately always have “read more” in some form on my list. This year is no different. I read like CRAZY as a kid, and I really long for the days when I’d go through like, 4 or 5 books a week. While I realize that THAT will never happen again – I have spent the last few years really trying to make regular pleasure reading a habit again. I tried putting a specific number on how many books I wanted to read last year, and it did increase my total reading from last year – but I also kind of felt constrained by it. Particularly since I chose specific books from the start.

So this year I’m going to try a time requirement instead, and see if that works a little better. I figure if I read for like, 15 minutes to half an hour most nights in bed, I can hit that 2 hour mark pretty consistently.

I’m also going to try to keep up a little better with Goodreads, just because.

WIPs

4) Finish all outstanding WIPs – both Knitting and Crochet

Ugh, I’ve been so bad about WIPs (works in progress) this past year. I’ve started a bunch, and then abandoned them like, a third of the way in. I just need to get them off the needles and hooks. They’re cluttering up my space, half-finished, and I don’t like it. If I can get down to 0 WIPs, I’ll be a happy camper.

sneakers

5) Run another 5k

I miss running regularly. I want to get back into it. It’s as simple as that.

recipe books

6) Try 12 new recipes

I love cooking. Love it. But as we found out with last two years’ resolutions, I uhhhhh don’t have enough time to do it with any regularity. And when I do? I basically cook the same like, seven dishes. Because they’re easy, and I know them from memory. So this year I’m not endeavoring to cook more, or cook healthier – I’m simply seeking to diversify my recipe repertoire. Make 7 into 19. Maybe 20 if we make it a baker’s dozen.

Lets make it a baker’s dozen.

makeup

7) Get better with makeup

I have a ton of makeup. Like, really good makeup. Stila, and Urban Decay, and Tarte… lots of stuff I could never in a bazillion years afford to buy myself (I’ve acquired most of my collection as gifts over the years). But I kind of sort of don’t know how to actually use it? Like, I can do a decent everyday look, and I have my concert look. But that’s basically it. I change up the colors I use, mostly, but it’s still just those same two looks: simple liner and one shadow (for everyday), or a cat-eye and dark shadow gradient (concerts).

I have all this wonderful wonderful stuff (that is a delight to use) – so I really should be using it more regularly. Specifically this year I have three goals: 1) I want to get better about using color – learn how to blend them and depart from my usual browns and greys 2) I want to try new eyeshadow looks – for example, a smokey eye vs. a simple one, colored eyeliner, etc… and 3), in a slight continuance of last year’s “take more fashion risks” – I want to wear red lipstick without it being Christmas or a concert. Just because.

PJs

8) Pajamas are for bedtime only.

Working from home part of the year is AWESOME, but it’s definitely not without its own drawbacks and challenges. I’ve pretty much got a good routine down – I resist the urge to sleep in, to take too many breaks, to play video games instead of working when I should, etc… but there’s one big temptation I haven’t yet conquered, and that’s the temptation to stay in my PJs all day. See, I basically just sleep in sweats and tee shirts. I haven’t owned actual “pajamas” since I was like… idk, 10? And the bottom line is, comfy as they may be, hanging around in the clothes I sleep in all day – even if they’re fresh from the washer after a shower – makes me feel less productive (even if I haven’t been) and lazy (no matter how much I got done). A few days of that can take tremendous a toll on my overall attitude. I quickly start to feel like I don’t have my shit together – and that’s horrible for someone who has an anxiety issue that has recently centered around feeling like they don’t have their shit together.

So I’m just not going to do it anymore. I recently invested in actual pajamas, so I’m hoping that having “sleep clothes” that are specifically different from my “hang around the house clothes” will make a difference. I’m going to make a point to “get dressed” every single day and see where that takes me.

9) Make the damn bed. EVERY. DAY.

This is along the same lines as the last goal – basically I feel like I have my shit together more when I make my bed. And since my big issue with anxiety last year spent a lot of time centered around NOT feeling like I have my shit together – I’m just going to do it.

10) Organize, Organize, Organize!

Again, same as above. Chaos around me leads to chaos internally. So I’m going to keep everything far more organized this year. The more organized everything is, the easier it is to keep the apartment clean, and the cleaner the apartment – the better I feel.

I hope.

11) Drink more water

I just generally have a problem with this. I don’t drink enough liquid throughout the day and that is starting to have more and more of a toll on my overall health as I get older (in ways I’m 100% sure you don’t want to hear about). So more water it is.

gratitude

And last, but honestly the most important:

12) Stay Thankful

My 30 Days of Gratitude challenge – though I never finished it in terms of blog posts, made a HUGE difference in my end-of-year attitude. It was the most stress-free end of the semester into holiday season that I’ve had in a very long time. And so I want to try to hold onto that magic as best I can. I want to try to keep that positivity and easy contentment, even as we move into the new year.

And hopefully, all these things together will make for an overall more positive 2016.

Here’s hoping.

Happy New Year!

Happy (Very Belated) Thanksgiving!

I hope you all had a lovely holiday! Ours was busy, but joy (and dog*) filled – and even though I’m still working through my 30 days of Gratitude and Reflection Challenge (I will finish it eventually – I will just probably start sprinkling in regular posts in between now that November is over and we’re on the lead-up to Christmas and New Years…) I really felt like the active effort I’ve been making to be present and grateful made a significant difference in my outlook.

Plooper

I was able to meet the demands of my “hell weeks” – the weeks before and after Thanksgiving when all my papers and assignments start coming in to be graded – with an energy I haven’t had since probably my first or second year doing this. Usually “hell week” is the week where I find myself sinking into a little bit of a depression over the state of my life and career – you know, the whole 28, working 3 jobs, and only bringing in barely enough to live thing. What happens is that usually, as I’m buried under the mountains of work, my exhaustion begins to interfere with me remembering why I do this in the first place. Why I really, truly love my job.

Heidi

I didn’t forget that this year. While I may have let blogging slide, I didn’t find myself sinking into that emotional trap. I didn’t lose sight of the joy and the gratitude. And that made all the difference in the world.

This year has been rough in terms of finding balance – and I must admit I’m still struggling to do so. But I’m really feeling better, and I’m hoping that by next year I can get back on the consistent blogging horse in earnest.

So thanks for hanging in there with me.

Hildeface

*Quite literally the only photos I have from the day of Thanksgiving are of Rusalka, Hilde, and my Aunt’s dog, Heidi. I guess I was in a dog > food mindset that day. Oh well, there are worse things.

30 Days of Gratitude and Reflection – Days 6-9

I said at the beginning of this that I’d probably be doing some “catch-up” type posts as I work through this blog challenge, and I was not wrong. The middle of November is always crunch time at work, and my schedule makes posting truly daily pretty much impossible because of the time it takes to photograph, edit, and publish a post. But while I don’t have the time to publish daily, I have been making sure to take a moment of my day, everyday, to think about that day’s prompt.

And so here’s the first catch-up post, with Days 6 – 10.

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Day 6
Something From Childhood: My Dancing Russian Girl

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My grandmother has one of these little dolls that from a very early age I used to love. She’s basically just a little shell on a post, so that when you touch her, she swings back and forth like she’s dancing. A simple little thing, really. Probably didn’t cost more than $10. Me getting her wasn’t any sort of big deal either. We were at the church christmas festival or picnic or something and they had a little table where they were selling Russian themed stuff (I was raised Russian Orthodox), including these little dolls. Whoever I was with at the time (I was really young – I don’t even remember) let me pick one out because I was always staring at my grandmother’s and making it dance. And that’s it. No huge significance, no life changing event. Just an offhanded, “Would you like one?” moment. But she’s been with me ever since, and she makes me smile.

It’s hard to verbalize exactly why, but I guess most of it’s because even though I’m mostly Ukrainian, not Russian – she still brings me back to warm memories of holidays surrounded by tradition and heritage. Of pirogies and halupki, of candlelight and hushed praying in Russian, of the deep Bass voices and eight-part harmonies of Orthodox church music. She reminds me that I’m connected to the past in so many rich and varied ways. And for that, I’m grateful.

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Day 7
An Everyday Thing: My Collection of Cozy Blankets

I love blankets. I seriously love them. Nothing makes me feel better after several weeks of scheduled hell than coming home in the winter and curling up under a big floofy blanket. Except maybe doing so with a cup of tea spiked with whiskey, and a good video game or book.

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Day 8
A Favorite Saying/Quote

you are not required

“You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm”

I saw this on Reddit once, several years ago, and in the time since it’s made the rounds on Pinterest and several other places. It was exactly what I needed to hear at the time, and I continue to need the reminder of this simple fact. I run myself so ragged sometimes in the effort to keep others happy. Now sometimes, it’s necessary. Doing so is, honestly, sometimes just part of being a teacher. I might be exhausted, and achy, and ready to leave, but if a student comes to my office door with a paper in hand genuinely wanting help – I won’t turn them away.

But it is nice to have the reminder that there’s a limit. Or rather, that there should be. A reminder that I am not failing as a teacher, or significant other, or daughter, or sister, or whatever other role I’m filling that day if I have to stop and say “no” occasionally for my own wellbeing.

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Day 9
Memory: Memories of Our First Dog

petrushka

That little nugget there is me, standing with my parent’s first dog – Petrushka – and my paternal grandfather. My aunt posted this photo on Facebook the other day and seeing it flooded me with smiles and memories, not just of my Grandfather, who died back in 1999, but of Petrushka as well.

Now, my grandfather I think of often. He had served in the military in the Pacific during the ending days of WWII, and with that developing as my specialty, he’s on my mind frequently, and as such, so are my memories of him.

Petrushka, however – I quite literally hadn’t thought of in years. See, Petrushka and I had a tumultuous relationship. I was young. And she was quite large. And then there was the fact that she bit me once when I was a toddler. Like, a “directly in the face – needed a lot of stitches and it’s a miracle my face isn’t deformed” kind of bite.

Now, before you start accusing my parents of negligence for not putting her down or giving her away after that – it legitimately wasn’t the dog’s fault. She had been fast asleep in front of the couch and our asshole cat at the time, Arthur, decided it would be a great idea to reach down, hook her ears with his claws, and yank. She snapped reflexively as she woke and I just happened to be in the way as I toddled by. With the exception of that one moment, she was always really great with kids.

She died only a few years after everything happened, at the ripe old age of 12, and I’ve always felt a bit guilty for how I treated her after that. She was a very friendly dog and always tried to be affectionate with me – but I was afraid. I was very young – like toddler young – and I didn’t understand the concept of accident. I didn’t really understand what had happened. And so I spent almost the rest of her life shying away.

I don’t precisely remember this specific moment. But I cherish the memories it brings to the surface of Petrushka. The good, the bad, and the lessons I learned about animals and guilt by looking back on my fear. Rest easy, Petrushka. You were a good dog.

(I do suppose this would have been a better fit on Day 2: A Photo – but I wasn’t aware of its existence at the time.)