Pets, vaccines and other ruminations

I started this blog entry in the middle of the night as I often do, thinking I would lead about how I think we should be more like my cancer-surviving three-legged senior cat, Opie. He’s calm, brave and steadfast. He doesn’t scream for breakfast like the impatient cats. And he holds his ground with the 50-pound puppy. He doesn’t even look concerned when she swats at him like she’s an overgrown kitten.

But then several of my cats— three out of four including Opie— decided to get me out of bed before my alarm. And Opie was uncharacteristically naughty.

I think they decided they didn’t want to wait for breakfast anymore.

My estranged husband still works for Lafayette College and they had a vaccination clinic scheduled on campus today. Spouses were eligible so he arranged an appointment for me.

I have strong opinions about the pandemic, my Covid experience and the vaccines, but I recognize that our government, other countries and probably employers will require vaccines for travel, work and life in general. So I just want to get it over with.

After cuddling with Louise, our latest FURR foster, I went to bed and slept very restlessly. One of my work colleagues got her second dose of the Moderna vaccine yesterday and I watched her develop more symptoms as the shift continued. My empathy went out, remembering my own struggles to work with the initial phases of Covid.

Speaking of life at the Bizzy Hizzy Stitch Fix warehouse, I did about one-third of my shift in pick and the rest of my night in QC. By my estimation, I nailed my partial pick metric. They also returned the timer to the cart. In QC, I managed 67 fixes. That’s about 84%.

And we had mini bundt cakes.

So after spending more of my night than I’d like to listening to news about the pandemic and the economy and the issues in Europe and AstraZeneca, I wake up to an email that my vaccine appointment has been canceled.

The FDA and the CDC have warned that the same blood clot risks that exist with the AstraZeneca vaccine exist with Johnson & Johnson.

And briefly, the dog keeps trying to eat some crazy stuff and I finally did some grocery shopping at Lidl with my good friend Nan. Nan, as a blind person, enjoys grocery shopping with me. After shopping, we ate pastry we bought at Lidl in the parking lot of Dunkin.

Ipsy Glam Bag April 2021: Hair Care with Soap Box and Neuma

I canceled my Ipsy Glam Bag Plus — I loved the quality of the products, and having the choice of what items to have. But, like the regular Glam Bag, I grew tired of the repetitive products. I now have sooooo many brushes.

So this month I selected some hair care products— a shampoo soap bar from Soap Box with Argan oil and a scalp dermabrasion wash for my scalp from Neuma.

This was my first attempt at using a shampoo bar and I have to say, I liked it. I followed the directions on the Neuma product wondering how the little scrubby bits would get to my scalp without stripping my hair.

I like the results— but since I used both products I’m not sure which worked best.

My other items included some eye makeup brushes, a lip mask and another hydrating primer.

I wanted to use Ipsy as a way to try bolder products outside of my comfort zone, but they kept giving me boring products or products exactly within my comfort zone.

Lessons in Mindful Self Compassion, part two: Core Values

This won’t be a long entry, and I didn’t get a chance to review my notes on my seminar yesterday. You see, I was up until nearly 4 a.m. tending to Louise the Foster Cat who suddenly decided she needed to explore the closet and making multiple trips to the bathroom since I drank about 24 ounces of water on the way home from work.

One of the concepts we discussed in our Mindful Self-Compassion seminar was discovering our personal core values.

I haven’t really considered core values since I attended an EOS management training through ProJeCt of Easton.

The point of core values on the personal level is to identify what is key to your own self and live according to those priorities. The example facilitator Vira gave was “spending time in nature.”

So what are my core values?

Let’s just consider some ideas:

  • To embrace new experiences and new ideas and keep expanding my horizons.
  • To express myself in words and sometimes other arts as well. Finish my recent publishing project and write more novels.
  • To gain new knowledge, pursue education and share information with others.
  • To engage in my animist pagan spirituality, practice yoga and meditation, exercise and hopefully someday resume bodybuilding efforts. I consider all of these part of my spirituality. I want to strengthen my abilities as a witch.
  • To travel more, but not as a tourist. See places as the people who live there do.
  • To eat well.
  • To help others in need and give back to the world. For me, right now, this primarily means my work for cats with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, hopefully guiding teenager #2 into independence and my work with local non-profits including my public library and ASPIRE to Autonomy.

Lessons in Mindful Self Compassion, part one

I push myself—hard. I can be relentless and tenacious.

It can come in the form of trying to get over that 90% hump in metrics at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy warehouse. (I picked 495 items on in my 5.5 hour shift tonight.)

It can come in my past fitness challenges (but apparently not in my current battle with stress eating).

It can come with my personal projects and grades and overachiever attitude when it comes to research.

I can go on and on.

When I saw that my friend Fausta and her co-facilitator Vira were hosting a free online seminar on Mindful Self-Compassion, I was very excited to sign up. The seminar was 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. which meant getting up early and potentially rushing out the door at 3 to get to work for my 3:30 shift but I had to do it.

I wasn’t even sure exactly what Mindful Self-Compassion was but based on Fausta’s enthusiasm for it, an educated guess that it involved some meditation, and with Fausta’s background in therapy and being a holistic life coach, I had to do it.

My therapist has been telling me for years to be gentle to myself and this Mindful Self-Compassion stuff sounded perfect for that.

I even requested a late start at work. Now me being me, that made me anxious. Should I start at 4? I might have to eat something. 5? (I never considered 4:30.) What’s the point of starting at 5 p.m. if break is at 5:30? I opted for 6. And it was approved!

And then this week happened—let’s just say teens and animals and an incident with the dog and the hammock and the new fosters and my body hurting and the hormones of a 40-something woman… I didn’t make it to work the night before the seminar. And do you know what? My supervisor told me to “take care of myself.” I felt like I was being treated like a person.

That time— that sick day on Wednesday night— gave me the space to rest, clear my head, and focus on the seminar.

And it was so worth it.

I’m responding to it now from memory and will gladly talk more about specific exercises and lessons if anyone desires. I bet we can ask Fausta for her input too. And my apologies to Fausta if I misrepresent any of the concepts as it is 1:30 a.m. and I am not looking at my notes.

I learned:

  • That Mindful Self-Compassion is a way to process emotions that combines meditation exercises and rational analysis to allow yourself to feel the feelings but also try to heal the feelings.
  • A big part of the practice is to accept/embrace your own imperfections.
  • We explored a Japanese concept of life’s purpose.
  • We examined physiological responses to different emotions.
  • We designed a personalized loving-kindness metta meditation.
  • We developed our individualized core values.
  • We grounded ourselves via a soles of the feet meditation. I’m using the word grounding since I’m a witch and that is totally what it felt like to me.
  • Meditation reminds me of the prayer practice of centering— and I had forgotten how good I was at that.

I’ll review my notes and write more soon. In the meantime…

My previous post on the seminar is here: https://angelackerman.com/2021/04/02/ironing-out-the-anxieties/

Conversations with Louise

As my latest blog entry will detail, we have a new guest in our house, Louise the Foster Cat, a rescue available through FURR. She recently came to FURR as a mysterious stray with a leg injury that resulted in an amputation.

She’s enjoying her convalescence with us, and at night (when I return from work) we have long conversations as I try to gain her trust.

I snuggle down on the floor beside her and ask her about her day.

Me: What did you do tonight?

Louise: I slept in my basket under the bed and once night fell and the house quieted down I got a drink of water and slept behind the curtain.

Me: That sounds pleasant. I did my normal thing in the warehouse but man my body hurts tonight. I didn’t know if I was going to make it through the shift. Emotionally I had a lot on my mind.

Louise: They cut off my leg and keep shuffling me from place to place. And your house is nuts! So many noises and creatures. Can you scratch my neck? It’s really itchy and I do like attention. It’s just your house is scary. People in and out of this room. And this thing under the bed chased me.

Me: Sorry about that. That was the Roomba. It keeps the floor clean. I didn’t intend to vacuum until you got settled but somehow it got set off. You’re doing really well with your balance. You’re right. I should be more grateful. Can I get you some food?

Louise: I don’t like the wet stuff but kibble would be nice.

Me: Do you mind if I sit next to you and have some homemade Easter chocolate?

Louise: Not at all. But try not to be spastic. I need some calm in my life.

Me: Sounds like good advice, Louise.

Saturday Animal Adventures, part two: new arrival

Last night I got a text from my foster godmother asking if we could take a special needs cat Louise who needed some time and some love to not only overcome shyness but also to convalescence.

You see, our new foster cat is a friendly stray who had a leg injury that looked like it might have come from being hit by a car. The vet had to amputate her leg last month (almost exactly a month ago). And it’s the same leg our Opie lost to cancer!

I picked her up this afternoon and she is a gentle beauty. So soft!

I allowed Opie to be in my room when we opened her crate hoping that seeing another three-legged cat might give her some self-confidence. It certainly might if she ever sees Opie stand up to our 50-pound puppy.

I also decided to sort and put away my laundry with her present so she could see me move around my room without looking at her specifically. She did make eyes to everyone as a hello before hiding under my bed.

I filmed some first day videos, they are rather boring but serve as a nice “This is where we started” marker. To see Louise’s YouTube playlist, click here.


PS — Teenager #1 had another shift at Tic Toc Family Restaurant today so teenager #2 and I made plans to have a dinner date at the diner. But when Bean the giant puppy ate her glasses, Teenager #2 spent the day with her mom at the mall and couldn’t make it back in time. So, I dined solo.

Speaking of Bean the Dog, a funny thing happened when Bean, her lead, the hammock and I got twisted up. I fell, as I often do, and landed on concrete and mud. My new Democracy Jeans are now literally dirty.

I expect my right palm and the outside of my left upper thigh will be very bruised tomorrow and I have a pretty interesting scrape extending about four inches down my left wrist.

Teenager #1 and I said earlier that today was canceled— maybe we should have listened to our own idea.

But, the good news is, I let the teen pick my meal once I selected the macaroni and cheese special. She delivered the pasta, potato salad, cucumber salad and French fries.

Dinner at Tic Toc

I am always impressed by the playing at the restaurant. The sprinkles of dried herb really make the dish look vibrant. The macaroni and cheese had a smooth hearty texture (I could only eat half of it). The cheese mix was not as exotic as I make at home, but not as creamy and Velveeta-y artificial as a place like Wawa.

I loved the cucumber salad. Crispy. Tangy. Wet but not soggy.

And the potato salad… Not bad. I am not a fan of the yellow potato salads. When I tasted this, the initial flavor was overwhelmingly sweet, which is odd. It quickly mellowed on my tongue and I enjoyed what appeared to be peppers and carrots in the mix.

The more I eat at Tic Toc, the more I marvel at the value for the price.

Saturday Animal Adventures, part 1: Deliveries

My volunteer efforts these days focus on animals instead of people, primarily as a foster family for Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. You can visit their website here: http://www.felineurbanrescueandrehab.org.

We have fostered three litters of kittens in the last nine months, all named after various pantheons of gods: The Greek Pride, The Roman Pride and The Norse Pride.

At 10 a.m. this morning, which is rather early when you get to bed at 2 a.m. after clocking out of work at midnight, teenager #1 and I had an appointment to meet a fellow FURR volunteer at the Petco where Mars and Minerva are in residence awaiting FURRever homes. Today, we wanted to reunite Jupiter with his siblings.

Crating Jupiter did not go as easily as anticipated, the teenager couldn’t find her shoes, we forgot Jupiter’s folder and we missed some of the turns for the store. But we arrived and now the Roman Pride is together again, except for Vesta who is now known as Paisley in her new home.

Jupiter reuniting with siblings, video here.

We left Petco, and retrieved the missing folder. But before returning to Petco we had to catch the baby birds as I was transporting them down to Bird Mania so they could be tamed and potentially sold.

That was a process, moving four baby birds to a separate cage. But teenager #1 managed to do it.

We took the folder to Petco, grabbed some coffee at Wawa, and headed to the bird store. The staff at Bird Mania scooped the baby budgies like cats on the hunt, trimmed their claws and clipped their flight feathers.

On the way back, we got a phone call from FURR that someone was interested in meeting Hermes at the adoption Saturday event at Petsmart on Rte. 248 in lower Nazareth. Our Hermes?

I had to ask because Hermes is an absolute love and a character, the last remaining “kitten” of our Greek Pride litter that we brought home August 1, 2020. He loves to be in the middle of the action, loves to play, loves to sit two-to-three feet away, but will not tolerate being touched by human hands.

You see, he was very sickly as a kitten and received a lot of medicine. Medicine is delivered by human hands.

Oh, and Hermes is the matriarch of all our other fosters. He turns one any day now and has mentored every other kitten we have had.

And this potential adopter thought maybe we could bring him over for a meet-and-greet and that maybe he could go home with them.

I said I would gladly arrange a visit for the future but their was no way we could crate him today. This is Hermes’ adoption page: Adopt Hermes.

Hermes is a very entertaining cat, and would be the perfect for someone who just wants a pet who interacts versus one that cuddles.

So, last but not least, I anticipate a part two to this entry as we are scheduled to acquire a new foster later today, one with special needs that make her very suitable for this house. More on that when it happens…

Ironing out the anxieties

Today’s blog post will ramble through my everyday activities as they often do, but I will also attempt to show how attitude, reaching out and communication can overcome life’s anxieties.

First thing this morning I saw a post from my new-ish internet friend Fausta advertising her one day free seminar on Zoom covering Mindful Self-Compassion.

We were on our way out the door first thing this morning, teenager #1 and I, to take our kitty cat osteosarcoma survivor, Opie, to a new vet, Canyon River Run, to have the lump on his neck checked.

Although in the pandemic era, we only met the vet tech, teenager #1 and I were very pleased with their service and demeanors. The prices were reasonable, too. They even called my former vet’s office (Wright’s Veterinary in Bethlehem) when I didn’t have Opie’s most up to date shots.

The vet reported that in her opinion the lump of his neck is not cancer as it is clearly in the skin and not deeper. I have to follow up because the verbal report relayed to me said it would need to be surgically removed but I don’t know if it would be a cosmetic one or a diagnostic tool to confirm her opinion.

That was the first of several anxieties addressed.

On a side note, I tried the cold brew at Wendy’s. It was quite delightful. Strong but not too bitter.

I also contacted Bird Mania, the establishment where I acquired Nala, to sow them our new photos. (They approved, Joan.) I hope to take my four baby budgies to them tomorrow as they should be young enough to hand tame and rehome.

My bird overpopulation is another anxiety addressed. Though catching and surrendering my chicks is another.

The teenagers had some issues last night, some of which remind me of college roommate situations. We shall work it all out, but since the vet took longer than I anticipated and I worked a 10-hour shift last night, my phone battery was down to 15% as the conversations continued throughout the night. I’m glad we all started a conversation about it as that’s really the only way we can initiate a solution.

Before all this started, on my first of several 10-minute breaks last night, I used my pick Chromebook to request a late start next week for Fausta’s seminar. That’s when I also noticed one of my supervisors had sent me an email requesting my presence for a chat.

Later that night. New anxiety. In several of my previous work environments, meetings never meant anything positive.

My final break came. My meeting with the leaders was 10:15 p.m. Break was 10 to 10:10 p.m. I wasn’t sure what to do with that five minutes. So, me being me, I returned to QC and folded one more fix before leaving my table at 10:15.

It turns out that my “chat” was to check in about how I’d been doing split between QC and pick. And to announce that as of Monday, they would test changing my basic schedule to move between pick and QC in a regular fashion, starting the “morning” (I assume this means the first half of my shift as we start at 3:30 p.m.) in pick and moving to QC later.

We talked a bit about numbers and strategies and once again, as I have mentioned to other leaders, I reiterated that I know I will never be the fastest though I know I will grow more efficient. I try to make up for my lack of speed and natural dexterity by being dependable and flexible and finding ways to work smarter. I also pointed out that while I haven’t hit the best metrics, my metrics are consistent.

“Can we clone you?” one leader asked.

Finally, I bought some clothes at the Stitch Fix Employee Store. I wasn’t going to visit the store this time around, but in the end my issue with ill-fitting and disappearing clothes urged me onward.

The store has been open almost two weeks so there is not much left. And some of the things I most wanted weren’t available. I wanted jeans as I’m still not thin enough to fit in my size four wardrobe from the pre-Corona days but the hand-me-down size eights are getting too baggy.

I also wanted nice t-shirts. Everything I own appears to be sleeveless or shapeless.

As Joan the photographer reported when she got her first Stitch Fix box, the Democracy Jeans are comfortable but the zippers-for-pretty get caught on everything. These are beige camo, not a print I wanted. I didn’t want a print at all. They are skinny cut, not my favorite cut either. And they are too long for me, which makes them very wrinkled.

The Michael Stars top is amazing, fits great, looks very feminine and so comfortable. And I feared it would be too big.

Finally, the yoga top/lazy woman’s sports bra thing from Free People movement actually holds everything in like a sports bra but looks really cute. It retails for $30 which is insane. But I’m a forty-something woman who is very surprised this skimpy top works for me.

Lessons learned about myself

It is 12:40 a.m. My daughter bought me ice cream— low fat diet really freezer burned ice cream but ice cream. I still need to shower. Opie, our three-legged cancer survivor cat, has a 10:45 a.m. vet appointment for the suspicious growth on his neck.

In my life, I never have time to get bored. Why in the last 24-hours, I’ve worked two work centers at the Bizzy Hizzy. I’ve also signed up for the employee store. I almost rescued a 17-year-old Maine Coon cat named Tiny (isn’t that the best name for a Maine Coon).

I had a chiropractor appointment, and she is just as excited about the recent improvements in my body as I am. I wrote a poem. Had my portrait taken. Did some foundation research for the cat foster/rescue/TNR group with whom I volunteer.

I was asked to trim the nails of a former neighbor’s cat. And I swung by the Grocery Outlet.

Even amid all this craziness— I contemplated some lessons I have learned about myself.

1. To get a good photo of me, find props. I am an eccentric person so when it comes time to take a photo, toss me an umbrella, cat, bird, etc., to see my personality.

Photo by Joan Z

2. I don’t have the patience for rescue work. I love to help people and animals, but when someone reaches out for help and either doesn’t accept it or makes it impossible to work with them, I lose all empathy.

3. I’ll never be the fastest, but I am dependable and flexible. I work in a metrics-driven warehouse. I will never be super fast and therefore efficient but so far, my supervisors seem to value my flexibility and good attitude. Which is ironic when my last boss called me “hostile.”

Which brings me to my last lesson from today.

4. Others fear you will display the same bad behavior they do. If someone has an insecurity or weakness in a certain area, they may treat you as if you have the same flaw. I once had a boss who literally removed all the paper and pens from my desk because she didn’t trust my ability to listen and take notes at the same time— despite my fifteen year career as a print journalist. And then I noticed that she only took notes when no one was speaking.

The same sort of thing may come into play if someone thinks your idea won’t work— they may believe that they would not be able to do it, so therefore you won’t succeed. That’s when you have to detail the steps and build confidence.

Can a relaxed weekend yield a relaxed Monday?

My weekend was shortened thanks to mandatory overtime at the Bizzy Hizzy, with me doing a four-hour shift on Saturday before teenager #1 had her four-hour shift at the diner. I invited my mother to come down and join me at Tic Toc.

When the teenager got home, most of the family hung out in the backyard with some pets, a hammock and a pound of cheese fries.

Then yesterday teenager #1 and I did the grocery shopping and visited Mars and Minerva (of the FURR Roman Pride) at Petco. They were so glad to see us.

And we had tons of unhealthy but tasty food including my mother-in-laws completely amazing homemade Easter candy.

My sleep patterns and quality of sleep have been good lately, and my dreams though rather nonsensical had a heavy air of pure emotions— I blame the full moon.

Monday, though bright, had a whipping wind and a deep chill. I had been practicing a “cutting cords” exercise I heard about on a podcast (specifically Kesha and the Creepies) and had some memories on my mind. My heart felt heavy and a ten-hour shift awaited me at the Stitch Fix warehouse.

Assigned to QC (line 3, table 3A), I spent 10 hours folding clothes. My times kept me firmly at 80% of their expected daily metrics, which is as high as I’ve ever gotten and I think nicely consistent for an extended shift.

Early on in my shift, I encountered a Karl Lagerfeld shirt called the “Zelie” which I took as an awesome reminder of my own creativity and endeavors. One of the main characters in my Fashion and Fiends novel series is Basilie Saint-Ebène d’Amille, whose husband always calls her Zélie. Another side note, my college roommate named Zélie and I gave Zélie her birthday.

Lagerfeld, of course, is a fashion legend and powerhouse. His legacy in worldwide fashion has touched more fashion houses than I can remember. His own label and the iconic Chanel influenced me the most.

Surprisingly, I had no pain yesterday which has me a bit in shock. So once again I am grateful.

But the final hint toward my own projects that came was a text from my friend Joan who would like to try the next set of portraits tomorrow. Something to look forward to.

Meanwhile, life at home was not so smooth. Teenager #2 received some good news as she has a job interview today at a local grocery store. She apparently met the manager in the yogurt aisle. But teenager #1 encountered some bad mojo in my room. Was it the full moon? The date? (The date does hold some personal significance) My own attempts at “cutting chords”?

She discovered this while spending time with Nala the Naughty Cockatoo and delivering popcorn to the budgies. Those budgies are now chasing popcorn all over their cage.

So she did a sage cleanse with the help of Misty the cat who also assisted her in designing a candle ritual for me to perform when I got home.

Hopefully things have calmed.