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Just a quick post to share a giveaway on a friend’s blog.  Lindsay makes some of the most amazing loose leaf tea blends and she is celebrating her one year anniversary of her business, Danmala Teas!  Check out her blog and her giveaway and be prepared for her to reopen her shop on the Solstice!  I can’t wait!

https://danmalateas.squarespace.com/blog/2014/6/17/cultivating-gratitude-giveaway

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I have to be honest:  up until a few years ago, I never really wanted a guinea pig.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate them or dislike them, I just never felt an overwhelming urge to get one for a pet.  Most of the guinea pigs I had known tended to be aloof and a bit bitey (for lack of a better word), so they weren’t on my top 5 list of “most appealing pets.”

Then I met Gipsy.

August 12, 2008: I was sitting in my exotic animal class in vet school when the professor announces that the resident guinea pigs have just had babies and encouraged the students to go see them.  He also encouraged us to consider adopting them, adding that they had a “rare silver agouti” in the litter that was speculated to be the first to be adopted.  So naturally, I had to go see what the fuss was about.  Two other friends and I went over to the ward to look at them.  For anyone who hasn’t seen baby guinea pigs, they are cute.  Born fully-furred, eyes open, and ready to eat solid foods in a few hours, they are adorable.  Like heart-stopping-should-be-illegal adorable.  Add in cute wheeking noises and “popcorning” (an exhibition of joy and excitement in which a guinea pig will literally jump in the air like a popped kernel of popcorn), and it’s hard not to completely fall in love.  Which is what happened.  I fell in love with the little rare silver agouti, a beautiful adorable creature that stole my heart.

Adopting her wasn’t something I did on a whim.  First, I had to overcome the *slight* problem of not being allowed to have pets in my apartment.  After considering that the girl above me had successfully hidden a full-grown boxer for who knows how long, I overlooked that as a minor inconvenience that could be overcome with a little skill and planning.  Then there was the whole “calling the family with ‘so I have a guinea pig now'” which I wasn’t sure how that would go over.  The next obstacle was to consider if I could adopt just one.  Since guinea pigs are social animals, it is recommended that a person adopt two so that they have a companion.  Adopting one isn’t impossible, but it does require a higher level of commitment since the human must provide the companionship that a second guinea pig normally would.  That meant making sure I could devote at least a couple of hours every day to spending time with her.  Finally, and most importantly, came the research.  Research into whether or not a guinea pig would be a good fit for my busy life, what sort of habitat needed to be set up, food, health concerns, all the things that are required to provide the guinea pig with a healthy happy home.  After taking all factors into consideration, I decided that I could make it work and I was too in love with her anyway, so I brought her home.  As I was leaving, one of the vets told me, “Now she’s more nervous than the others so just be aware of that.”

“Nervous” was a good word for her.  She hid every time I walked into the room.  When I picked her up, she became completely silent and still.  For two weeks I contemplated if I had made the right choice.  I did not want to be one of those people who decides “Well it just didn’t work out so you can have her back,” but at the same time it was obvious that she was under a lot of stress, which wasn’t good for her.  I did everything I could think of to bond with her, but nothing seemed to be working.  Finally, in a last-ditch effort, I got her out one night to sit with her and gave her a carrot while I was holding her.  Turns out that was all it took.  After that, every time I picked her up, she immediately started “talking,” making the “happy-guinea-pig” noises that are well-known to all guinea pig owners.  She became much more animated, frequently squealing and exploring while she was out of her cage.  But her favorite thing was to cuddle up under my chin and just be held and snuggled.  This was her favorite place to be, so much so that I had to warn people not to make eye contact with her or she would lunge for their faces, expecting to be caught and held in her secure spot.  I frequently wore hooded sweatshirts, and she would curl up and sleep in the hood while I studied.  (It was a sad day for her when she learned the unfortunate truth that hoods are not an anatomical part of a human being.)  She still would run and hide when I came into the room with her cage (as she did with everyone), and she didn’t like anyone being in the room while she ate her veggies, but once she was out with people, her personality blossomed.  She loved to be the center of attention and would frequently become louder and louder if others were trying to have a conversation.  She had a characteristic “sigh” that she would let out as an attempt to get pity when she felt that she wasn’t getting the attention she deserved.  I’ll never forget the day that I had my apartment window open and a few people walked by and she let out one loud “wheek” at them; all I could think was, “Great, I’m getting evicted now.”  Thankfully nothing ever happened and she was never discovered.

Over the next year, Gipsy and I formed a solid bond based on bell peppers, orange slices, carrots, snuggle time, and hoodies.  She traveled with me to South Dakota to visit my husband and to assert her cuteness to everyone she met.  Even though she was shy in her cage, she was friendly and could be rather outgoing at times, and she never offered to bite (although she once managed to demonstrate just how serious guinea pig allergies can be and was instrumental in a friend learning that he was apparently allergic to guinea pigs).  She was great to show off to kids, as she was extremely tolerant, and she was the star of many school talks about exotic pet care.  She did have a fearless streak, as a vet who thought she could “use a bit more exercise” learned of her stubbornness when nothing would make her move (other than to scare the clinic cat, and even that was limited to a head gesture).  If she didn’t get her way, she would show her displeasure by finding the most expensive book possible and proceeding to make her own form of confetti.  (This behavior eventually led to an actual case of “my guinea pig ate my homework.)  One day, I ran out of bell peppers and gave her part of a banana pepper instead, and the result was something that can only be properly played out in a comedy movie.  Loving and loyal, she completely changed my mind about guinea pigs.

About a year later, the ward had another litter.  Going into my fourth year of school (rotation year), I was concerned that I would be unable to dedicate the time needed to her and  decided that my schedule was getting busy enough that she needed a companion.  I was a little hesitant; she had done very well as an only pig and didn’t have the best history of getting along with others.  (The two other friends I went with that day adopted the other two guinea pigs, and we frequently had “play dates” to get them together while we studied.  They had to be separated in adjoining pens because otherwise there were skirmishes and Gipsy tended to be the most “assertive” of the three.)  My plan was to introduce Gipsy to her potential new companion in a neutral environment and see what happened, standing by to supervise if they didn’t get along.  The results were, well, rather amusing.  Seeing my adult pig being chased around a cage by three little babies was hilarious.  She wanted nothing to do with them and they wanted to be right there with her.  Still, she wasn’t aggressive toward them, and I finally decided to adopt another little female, Nugget.  The day I took Nugget home, she promptly declared her love for her big sis by sitting on top of her in the carrier.  The look on Gipsy’s face was priceless.  They got along very well, much like a typical “big-sis-little-sis” relationship in which the little sister adores and worships the big sis and the big sis tolerates the little.  If I got them both out together, Gipsy wanted to snuggle with me and Nugget wanted to snuggle with Gipsy.  Sometimes Gipsy allowed this, other times Nugget would get a swift nip on the nose if Gipsy felt she was encroaching too much on her personal space.  Nugget’s adoption enabled me to feel as if Gipsy was getting the companionship she needed on days when I would be gone for 12-18 hours at a time.

Despite all the things that can go wrong with guinea pigs, Gipsy and Nugget both remained healthy.  Fed a proper diet and weighed semi-regularly, there was never any sign of any problems — until earlier this year.  The first sign that there was a problem was that, when I picked up both of them at the same time, I noticed that Gipsy felt lighter than Nugget — a first for her.  Weighing them both, I discovered that Gipsy had indeed lost about 100g, a fair amount for a guinea pig.  She still ate well and I could find no evidence of teeth problems, which is the first rule-out in a guinea pig that is losing weight.  I continued to monitor her as she dropped.  After doing research, I tentatively concluded that she had hyperthyroidism, a condition extremely common in cats but equally rare in guinea pigs.  The data is limited, as are treatment options.  After awhile, I was able to palpate a nodule in her throat which served to mostly confirm my suspicions.  Knowing that giving her medications by mouth would be next to impossible, I decided to try an experimental treatment.  I ordered a month’s supply of transdermal methimazole, a common treatment for cats but one that has never been documented in guinea pigs.  She continued to lose weight on this treatment, but her appetite never changed.  In fact, other than the weight loss, she showed no other signs of illness.  Still, concerned that the treatment appeared to be ineffective, I scheduled an appointment to take her back to the vet school and have testing done (and potentially surgery if it was deemed necessary.)

Gipsy’s appointment was scheduled for Tuesday, August 20th.  When I got home Saturday evening, she appeared to be acting normal, although I noticed she sounded like she was losing her voice.  I had no reason to think that she was in any immediate danger, although I was thinking that Tuesday couldn’t come fast enough.  I gave her the usual Vitamin C treat and her veggies, which she ate gladly and quickly, and put her back for the night, not knowing it was the last good moment I would get to spend with her.  When I awoke Sunday morning, 6 days after her 5th birthday, I found her lying in her cage gasping for air.  I immediately grabbed her and raced to get her into the clinic, but she passed away moments before I got there.  X-rays showed no discernible cause, no other problems that would have caused her to pass so quickly.  I still don’t know what caused her death, although I will always worry that the delay in successful treatment played a role.

Nugget is now an only pig, and we are working together to navigate the upcoming time without Gipsy.  It’s rough for both of us, but I will do everything I can to help Nugget adjust to the new norm.  As for me, I’m still grieving, and while I’m *almost* fully functional again, writing this post still brings me to tears.  But it needed to be written.  Gipsy’s story deserves to be told.

August 12, 2008 – August 18, 2013
God speed, my little Gipsy, faithful companion for 5 wonderful years.  Words cannot express how much you will be missed.

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So it’s been awhile, and I have a lot that I need to update on, but for right now, I’m just popping in to let everyone know about an awesome giveaway!  Pixie Campbell, the leader of SouLodge (the amazing, life-changing transformative experience) is leading a very special painting class.  Combining intuitive painting with shamanic journeywork, this course provides a way to allow the spiritual to be expressed through painting in a completely new way.  To learn more about the course, visit the first link listed below. To enter the giveaway, follow the second link to go to the blog post and follow the instructions!!!

http://pixiecampbell.com/visualquest To learn more about the course.

http://pixiecampbell.com/2013/06/visual-quest-giveaway.html To enter the giveaway.

 

From the blog:

Visual Quest is for spiritual people who want to give form to what they feel inside and around them. It teaches you how to apply what you feel to the canvas.

It’s also for creative people desiring to connect to the Spirit that lies inside of them and outside, enabling work with meaningful symbols, and a deeper connection to the artwork.

It’s for artists wishing to freshen and deepen their practice, and for non-artists who would like to explore the mediums in a non-competitive and supportive environment.

It is for deep-thinkers and deep-feelers exploring their inner terrain and wanting to gain more clarity about the strongest archetypes within them, and the personal symbols which represent them.  -Pixie Campbell

Happy Winter Solstice everyone

Well, I did well for awhile on the whole “not going months between posts” thing, and then promptly fell back into old habits.  Yay me.  Honestly though, my handwritten journal isn’t much different.  I will have days where I sit down to write in my book and think, “oh I was just here!,” only to look down at the last date and find it was a month ago.  Sometimes I find journaling to be therapeutic, to help me get my crazy swirling thoughts out of my head, other times I feel it gets in the way of the “deeper” work that I am doing.  And I have been doing a lot of “deep work.”

There are so many things I could talk about.  Many that wouldn’t even be overly personal, others too personal to share, as is with all aspects of life.  Lots of thoughts that have come up, lots of realizations, uncovering of hidden truths…so much of self-discovery that I hope every person would take the time to do with themselves.  But it’s not easy, and the deeper I go into myself, the more I realize how much easier it would be just to accept the surface creation instead of trying to unravel all the layers, many of which have been purposefully hidden for various reasons.  It’s easy to see why people avoid this type of spiritual work — you won’t always like what you find, and you can almost guarantee that other people won’t necessarily like what you find either.

I’ve been reading a couple of books that have been instrumental in this journey, books that challenge the way I see myself, see society, and see myself in society.  I’ve also found several communities of women who have been amazing, each one traveling our own journeys and supporting each other along the way.  I’m learning more about myself than I even imagined I didn’t know.  All bringing me to where I am today.  And while all of this work has been intense, it’s mostly been outwardly silent as well.  Hence my long absences.

We are entering my favorite time of the year.  Autumn, my favorite season, and all of the things that it brings — cooler weather, pumpkins, Halloween and Thanksgiving, the decorations and fragrances — cozy and warm feelings.  It’s also the period before winter, when things begin to die or become dormant, the days become shorter, and eventually the weather can become cold and bitter.  Just like all things, it is a balance.  As for the spiritual work I am doing?  This is also the time of the shadows — the darker, deeper parts of the self, a time of introspection and releasing, of confronting those things that no longer serve a purpose and letting go of them.  I will do my best not to fall silent again, to continue to maintain a voice here.

To my followers, thank you for sticking it out with me.  To my new readers, welcome, and I hope that the things I share here will resonate with you in some way.

Hey everyone, just wanted to let you know I haven’t forgotten about this! I had an amazing time in San Francisco, an amazing time visiting family in Indiana, got to go to a friend’s wedding (with its own excitement!), and after a, well, amazing week and a half, I head home tomorrow. I will have an update with pictures later this week! (And hopefully early in the week!)

First, an apology.  I know I’ve been gone awhile.  I know my last post was essentially unavailable.  These past few weeks have been a little crazy for me.  Last month I attempted (and succeeded!!!) a daunting goal for my jewelry business, and for the first time in 2 years, I am finally able to watch my business start to grow.  This is good for two reasons: one, it provides a fun hobby outside of my full-time  job, something that lets me escape the stresses and low points of the medical field.  As much as I love my job at the clinic, it’s not all peaches and rainbows, as everyone can imagine.  It’s nice to have something to do outside of work that provides a fun way to meet people and just chill for awhile.  The other benefit is, of course, the financial help, which has been a huge relief when trying to pay bills each month.

I recently had a very dear friend visit for a week, and it was so good to hang out after a year!  In today’s society, it’s so easy to think we are “constantly connected” to friends and family thanks to the internet, phones, email, etc., but in the end, what does it really mean to “be connected?”  I recently read an article about how the US has some of the shortest vacation allowances from work and how we are supposedly the only “industrialized nation” that doesn’t legally require employers to give vacation time.  Thinking about that article brought a lot of sad realities to life.  I tried to think about the last time I took a real vacation and, while it was fun and relaxing, it was short — only a few days.  I began to think about what I would do if I could just walk away from the office for 2-3 weeks, where I would go, what I would want to see…and realized that I don’t know if or when I will find out.  Most of my vacation time goes to conferences that I have to attend to keep my license active, so I barely even get to enjoy the places I am going.  What little time I have left might be allocated to a few days here and there, but as for a real lengthy vacation, it’s just not feasible.  Even the days when I take a half day off work I feel guilty for not being there.  I feel as I contribute little to housework for the simple fact that I am only home for a few hours outside of sleep, that all I want to do when I get there is nothing, and yet I feel guilty when I’m not at work.  It’s a vicious cycle, and in today’s workaholic society, it’s not something that is likely to change anytime soon.

What is it that makes us feel the need to work so hard?  Money is the easy answer, but as someone who is paid on salary and not an hourly wage, that isn’t the only answer.  What drives people (like me) to be at work for more hours than required, earning no additional pay, and taking as little vacation time as possible?  What is it that makes us go to work sick, exhausted, run down, and burnt out?  As easy as it is to point to a few extra dollars in our pocket, the truth is that most Americans fear losing their jobs if they show any sign of weakness.  From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense — show no weakness or the pack will eat you alive — but as the article pointed out, working ourselves into the ground is counterproductive.  We have little times left over for our families and households and even less for ourselves.  We are punished if we try to take care of our minds, our bodies, our souls, if it in any way can be viewed as a threat to some corporate bottom line.  I watched a classmate of mine be told that he would have to make up part of a rotation because he took 3 days off for the birth of his first child instead of the allowed 2.  Mothers are expected to pop out their children and return to work as soon as possible, which is just so insane its indescribable to me.

For me, there is a personal sense of responsibility to my clients and patients, that any time I take for myself is taken away from them, giving my boss more of a work load to carry, and ultimately creating a lot of hardship for everyone else.  I can’t take off time that is available to me because of what it will do to everyone else.  Perhaps it’s ironically selfish, to assume that I am so important and necessary that the clinic will collapse without me, that I am the only thread holding everything together.  But given the vast scope of this predominant belief, I have to ask where it came from.  What created this strong sense of guilt for wanting to take care of myself, for wanting to get away from the stresses of work and life for awhile and just enjoy being alive?  I look back on this year, how quickly it has already flown by, and I can’t help but ask, “What have I actually done?”  Is there anything memorable, anything that sticks out in particular?  I look at my oldest dog and cry when I realize that she is 10 years old now and that I have barely even seen her, that this beautiful soul I brought home from the shelter so many years ago has gone through life without me to watch her and love her like I think I should.  And yet nearly half a year has gone by and I can’t help but wonder how much quicker it will go before I simply run out of time to enjoy the little things around me.

I love my job.  I love where I am and I love what I do.  It wasn’t until I got into vet school that I realized how precious time is, how easy it is to watch it fly by as we pour everything we have into a particular task or job.  And now that I’m out of school, I still have yet to feel the pace slow down.  I give everything I can to my job, so much that when I go home I feel that I have so little to give to my husband, my pets, and even less for myself.  By the end of the day, I have nothing left, and yet the beat goes on.  If it weren’t such a staple of our society to act this way, I would think there is something wrong with me.

The day rolls on again.

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Ever since starting yoga, I can definitely tell my physical balance has improved.  However, it doesn’t stop there.  My mental balance is better.  I feel like I have a better outlook on everything, better able to handle diversions and obstacles, basically anything life throws at me.  I can always tell when I miss a day or two, because the day after a class I can feel my breathing is more regulated, I sit taller, I breathe deeper, and my mind feels more clear.  It’s truly been an incredible experience and I am so glad that I have such a wonderful place to take classes.

I didn’t actually come up with the title of this post to talk about yoga though, and despite my delinquency in typing it up, this has been floating around in the back of my mind for awhile.  Where I work, it truly is a matter of balance.  I feel that my boss and I can balance each other well, from diagnostic techniques and skills to how we manage different situations and clients.  I’ve always said my husband is a good balance for me because I have very little tolerance/patience for bulls***, whereas he can be much more capable of dealing with things.  He’s usually holding me back when I’m ready to tear someone apart.  (The flip side is that when he’s not willing to fight for something worthwhile, I step in and things get done.)  That being said, at work we have a *few* clients that are only here because I’m not in charge.  My boss can handle the difficult clients with much more grace than I would ever be able to.  The key is though I’m usually fine if someone’s attacking me.  I can handle those sorts of things.  When someone starts yelling at one of my techs, that’s when mama bear mode flips on and I’m only prevented from throwing someone out of the office by the fact that I don’t own it.

Even in my business life I can feel a sense of balance.  My jewelry business provides a fantastic balance to the craziness of the medical profession.  At my shows, there is no right/wrong, no one’s life depends on my jewelry choice, and even people who just come to eat snacks and hang out with friends feel the benefits.  Medicine is full of extremes, and having a constant is always nice.  With Premier, it’s not about the income, it’s about the women I get to meet and the fun we get to have.  I never have a bad day when I have a show, and despite my signing up to have a little “fun money,” I can’t see myself ever leaving.  And while the highs of saving someone’s pet or providing them an answer and a treatment for even the most benign of ailments are wonderful feelings, there will always be a need for a lift during the low times.

Life is full of balances.  Have you found yours?

Whew!  After several weeks of routine sameness, finally get some excitement in my days.  This weekend has been busy, and I am ready for a nice break, but lots of interesting things.

I had two jewelry parties last week, and those are always high points for me.  I get to have lots of fun and meet all sorts of new people.  Both parties were a complete blast, and I am now nearly to my monthly goal to be recognized in the Queen’s Court.  So exciting to be taking my business to this level!

Lots of interesting cases as well, especially celebrating the 1-year anniversary of graduating from vet school.  Diagnosed my first case of cytauxzoon in a cat, which unfortunately carries a poor prognosis, but it was definitely an important refresher for cases I will see in the future.  Then, celebrating Mother’s Day with a 5am emergency c-section on a 50 pound dog (proving that going into exclusively small animal practice will not prevent those late night baby pullings).  The good news is that we only lost one pup that had died earlier, the others were alive and healthy so as long as the dog doesn’t develop an infection, it was a whopping success.  The downside was the whole 5am thing, meaning that I spent most of Mother’s Day asleep.  I got to cook a nice dinner for my mom, but that was really about it, and by “cooking” I mean “warming up the ham,” lol!

So after a busy exhausting weekend, today has been absolutely amazing.  I booked yet another jewelry party and I am SO excited to get to hang out with a friend I haven’t seen in awhile.  Plus, my boss offered me a day off to let me recoup from the weekend.  Hubby surprised me for lunch and I found out that I have hit the 30lb mark for my weight loss since January!  Top that off with stocking up on the new BBW fragrance (including a CUTE tote bag I didn’t even know they had) and yoga tonight…..seriously a wonderful day.

Loving life.  🙂