My friend Jama posts a #HappyDayMoment every day to her Facebook page. She’s done so for over 2300 days to date. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she’s one of the most positive, up-beat people I’ve ever had the privilege to know. This year I knew I wanted to be more positive. I wanted to find the silver lining more and complain less. On January 1st, I started posting a HappyDayMoment each day to my Facebook. Some days I struggled to find something to share that I felt good about. Some days I forgot until after I was in bed and had to grab my phone to get one posted. A few days I forgot until the next morning and wound up posting a belated one (I’ve remedied this by putting an alarm on my phone to remind me). But I’ve kept going – I’m into the 150s now – and I feel like I’m starting to feel a change in myself.
Back on May 7th (only a month ago but it feels so much longer than that) I ran the Indy Mini. I signed up because it was a bucket-list sort of race, the kind of experience that would be one-of-a-kind. I was excited and, by the time the start actually came, more than a little nervous. There were a lot of things that did not go well with the race – I got sick a few days before and didn’t sleep much the night before due to congestion, I got a little freaked out by the size of the crowd (I knew it was the world’s largest half-marathon but I wasn’t prepared for what it would feel like to be in that large of a field), I wasn’t as well trained as I wanted to be, and my time really sucked. But, in spite of that, I came away feeling mostly good about the race. I found myself all along the course noting things and thinking “I love that – I want to remember that!” I was actively looking for the positives, determined not to forget them, and making the effort to not let the negative dominate my memories. At the end of the day, I posted a list of the awesome, great, and not-so-awesome things from the race to my Facebook and I’m happy to say there were more in the first two categories than in the third. The race itself may not have gone the way I wanted, but the overall experience was valuable not just for the things in my awesome list but for the way I was able to change my perspective and see more of the positives.
I am working hard now to use this skill again. Over Memorial Day weekend my older dog, Maggie, started having trouble with her back legs. Trips to an emergency vet clinic followed by a longer road-trip to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Purdue University ensued. Maggie’s been diagnosed with IVDD. There’s a swelling in one of the discs in her spine and it was delaying nerve signals reaching her back legs. Her back feet will “knuckle” and sometimes one back leg will collapse. She looks like she’s stumbling around drunk. If the swelling continues she could wind up with nerve damage and a ruptured disc, which would require surgery. The treatment at this time is anti-inflammatory and pain meds for two weeks and strict crate rest for the next 6-8 weeks. Strict rest means she is in the crate 24-7, except for when she’s being carried out to the yard to do her business (which is done while she’s on a 6 foot leash to keep her from walking too much or dashing after something). Making matters more complicated is the fact that Maggie is high-strung and suffers from anxiety. We are very concerned about how we can manage to keep her calm in the crate for that long. Fortunately the neurologist at Purdue was able to consult with the behaviorist who’s seen Maggie before and together work on a medical plan to help us and so far she’s doing well with being confined.
I’d originally scheduled to take the week of Memorial Day off work to do some yard work with my husband (we always take that week off and have what we call Mulchapalooza). We cancelled our mulch order and, while hubs stayed home with Maggie, I went back to work. I applied for Personal Leave and did triage on my job duties. I did some crash training on those duties which would have to be handled while I was on leave, taking care of Maggie. Now I have seven weeks of being home with my dogs, trying to make sure Maggie stays calm and heals while trying not to stress out about having no income from my job while still having all of our bills to pay.
I’m going back to what I did in the Mini and trying to see the positive in the next seven weeks. I get to be a stay-at-home dog momma. My introvert-half will be happy for the time alone. If I can only convince myself to stop worrying about it, I don’t have the stress of my job hanging over me. I should have time to do more writing, and to help more with Midwest Writers Workshop. We won’t be eating out but I do enjoy cooking – it will be fun to try some new recipes. I’ve always wanted to keep my house cleaner but never felt I had the time – now I will. Having little financial wiggle room will force my husband and I to do a better job sticking to a budget. It only takes 30 days to build a new habit, and we have the next 7 weeks to create some new ones which will serve us well even after I return to work. Most important of all, I am doing what Maggie needs and if all goes well, she will make a complete recovery without requiring surgery. These are the things I need to focus on over the next seven weeks.