4.11.2012

easter hike

easter hike

In the midst of what has seemed like a sh*t storm, Joe and I decided to leave behind our worries and endless to-do lists for a day to spend some time together in nature.  We don't do this enough.  Mainly because we're workaholics, which is something we're trying to change.  It's easy for me to get comfortable in a routine, even when that routine involves 12-16 hour workdays.  Speaking from experience, I can say that this does not lead to a satisfying life.

Looking at people's blogs and Instagram photos can be intimidating at times, can't it?  (I'd say on a good day it's inspiring and on a bad day it's intimidating.)  Because here are all these people seemingly doing it all and having it all in a beautiful, perfect way.  It's hard to tell if that's reality or if we're only privy to seeing things from one angle.  Because no one wants to post pictures of their incompetence or that time when they felt truly unlovable.  I know I don't.  But I can tell you right now that I can't do it all, and I don't have it all.  There are times when I feel lost and filled with worry, and I don't feel like I'm enough.

It's times like these when the only thing for me to do is to try to reconnect with life's joys.  For each person it's different, but for me it's nature, spirituality, exercise, intellectual conversation, learning, creativity, cooking.  The list goes on.  When I go into survival mode I totally shut down those parts of myself.  It's time to start nurturing all of the parts of myself.  Funny how going through bad times makes us really look at ourselves.  Unfortunately, most of the time it takes burning out to get me to reconnect.

So Joe and I hiked and we talked.  All day.  Then we went home and ate a ton of Indian food.  It never tasted so good.  That was three days ago, and my legs are still so sore that I can barely walk.

Yesterday I started volunteering at the animal shelter in town.  Guess who happened to be at orientation, also signing up to volunteer?  The one vet tech at the animal hospital who was really kind to me through Seymour's hospitalization.  Seymour gave her hell, and she was so loving to him in return.  I never got the chance to thank her because I was crying so hard the last day we were there.  I got the chance last night.  By the way, the shelter and the animal hospital are not affiliated.  It was a total coincidence that she was there.  I felt really nervous about trying something new, but having her there made me feel instantly comfortable.  As far as the volunteering goes, it was wonderful.  I was basically covered in cats!  Adorable cats desperate for love.  It felt healing.  I almost brought them all home with me.

By the way, Sophia hasn't been doing so great since Seymour's death.  She's been withdrawn and stressed-out (over-grooming, scratching her face until it bleeds, not eating much).  I was so worried that I took her to the vet (a place that I didn't want to go back to for a long time), and I've tried everything to give her love and help her feel better.  It seems that she just wants some space for now.  Hopefully things will heal with time.

56 comments:

Samantha said...

I love this post. I'm happy you've been able to reconnect and have been finding happiness with your volunteering. And my heart goes out to poor Sophia!

shara said...

These photos are so pretty! That's so nice you were able to go for a nice long hike. Getting away from your computer/studio for even just a few hours can be so refreshing and just give you a new perspective. Oh, and best of luck with your new volunteering gig!

Julia said...

I had the same problem, my cats were extremely attached to eachother and when one died the other one went crazy, after months of visits to the vet and watiching him getting stress for everything it seemed like the only solution was to get him a new friend.

We got a tiny kitty cat in an animal shelter, our cat didn't look very happy at first, after 2 weeks everything was fine no stress no injuries for over scratching just two happy cats again. :-)

anglopologie said...

Fantastic post, truthful and touching. x

Amy said...

It would be nice if people would include the bad with the good on their blogs so that the lives they share would seem more balanced and less intimidating. But, as you say, who wants to dwell on the crap, to expose yourself to more people? Sometimes it is a struggle to find inspiration instead of feeling intimidated. Thanks for the reminder.
Volunteering sounds wonderful, and I hope Sophie will heal. Poor kit.

erica said...

Poor Sophia! It must be such a huge shock for her....I hope she's able to find a new balance soon.

I usually don't realize I'm burned out until I become very ill. Stress and the feeling that I'm treading water are pretty much my common companions--so much so that I no longer consider them the problems that they actually are. Hiking, talking, and indian food sound like pretty good therapy. It always stinks to feel inadequate after looking at blogs...wishing I were more [fill in the blank]. Here's hoping we all figure out a happy medium!

Jamie said...

this is something i've been thinking a lot about lately - the way that oversharing our lives only permits people into specific parts of it... and what is the shame in letting people into the days that just aren't that great?
thank you for sharing... i think it's so important for us to remember that we're all human - even those we admire. and we all MUST make time to do for ourselves, what we seem to trip all over ourselves to do for other people.
hiking is good for the soul. and you and joe deserve some good soul time :)

the healing takes time. i hope that sophia starts feeling better... it's amazing how animals sometimes tell us in their own ways what they need and want.

thoughts to you - and much thanks.
xo

Ashley Faye - ourbklyn.com said...

beautiful case of self reflection. i feel lost and intimidated often, but have gotten good at giving myself small doses of simple pleasures. i am sorry to hear about your kitty :(

kelly said...

Jenny, I'm so glad you wrote this post. So often the internet brings me down instead of inspiring me. I go through that horrible, "why does everyone have it all so easily and i'm always struggling!" thing that leaves me frustrated and bitter. But it's true -- no one is posting the bad things. Maybe they should. We could all realize that everyone takes the good with the bad. And I often have to be reminded that instead of dwelling on what I don't have and comparing myself with others I should focus on all the things in my life that do bring me joy.

And I love the shelter story! Sometimes you forget in your pain how much love you still have to give. especially to other creatures who need and deserve it. i'm so glad you're volunteering!

this post really did brighten my day. thanks, jenny.

Lindsay Eyth | eythink.com said...

This is such a refreshing post. I'm so glad that I found you recently (via twitter). Even during a difficult time, it's obvious that you are a dear human being, and your work is lovely to boot. (I also just bought your tank pattern and am loving it.)

All that said I am really commenting to share a cat-comfort thing that may be helpful for your ladycat. During stressful times for my cats, I've found a lot of success with a cat pheromone plug-in thing, called Comfort Zone with Feliway. It seems really strange, but as you know from experience, there are times that you really just want to try anything to help. It's of course not going to be the same, but perhaps it will ease the transition. There's also the herbal Rescue Remedy that could complement this approach but I haven't used it.

Best of luck in comforting Sophia.

jenny gordy said...

Lindsay, thanks so much for your sweet comment and advice for Sophia. I appreciate it because I will literally try anything! I already have the Feliway plug in and the spray too because they were recommended by our vet (my cousin, who is the best vet in the world : ), recommended it too). I have the Rescue Remedy too. It's hard to tell if they're working at all, but at least I'm glad I gave it a shot.

Julia, I think your advice about getting another cat is good too. It's nice to hear that your cat adjusted well to that. I'm not ready just yet, and I don't want to throw too much change at Sophia all at once. But I fully intend on eventually bringing home one of the cats from the shelter after I get to know each of them. I want to find a kitty that would be a good fit for us.

Pauper said...

What a lovely, honest post. Thanks for taking the time to share this--I often feel the same looking at others blogs, photos etc. and feeling that other lives are perfect and balanced and it's difficult to remember that people post mainly about the best things and we don't see all the rest. Sorry to hear that your other kitty is having a hard time--it's so difficult to help them cope with the loss of a friend, but sounds like you are doing everything to try and comfort her. xx

rebecca said...

i really admire the reflection here and the strength and where-with-all to go out and volunteer and love up all those little kitties.

what you were saying about yourself reminded me of a film we just watched called "finding joe". you can watch it online through a service called prescreen. i highly recommend it and feel like it's something i need to see on a weekly basis to keep myself going down my path, strong and willing. you may like it too.

Heather said...

It sounds like your walk was much needed and I hope it did both your hearts good! Sometimes it's good to get out of your head and into nature, I always find that it helps me.

I think I'm just coming out of a slump like you're in now, and it does pass. Sometimes all this information and 'pretty' can be so inspiring, and sometimes it just causes you to lose traction. Sometimes I find that it saps the inspiration, and when that happens I have to turn inward.

I'm so sorry about the loss of your kitty, and hope you and Sophie feel better soon. I lost my cat this past winter, and somehow ended up with a new dog! I hope working at the shelter helps heal your heart and perhaps brings a new furry friend into your life!

Caroline said...

I totally love this post. My job is basically convince students in a high school to do some volunteering. It's so good for the soul.

Also, I now time my internet usage at home, otherwise I spend time looking and hoping to have other people's lives instead of living my own to the fullest. I reduced the amount of blogs I read and all these internet things. I've been knitting more, cooking more and planning my garden. It's so good to have fullfilling projects that make you feel good.

About the power-grooming, one of my pet rat (they're friendly animals!)is very anxious (I rescued her from very bad life conditions when she was still a baby) and I've been using natural remedies to help her lower her stress. It works pretty well so far. The hair has grown back 50% in the areas she was overly grooming. Just contact me if you want more details about that! :)

Happy volunteering and good luck! :)

Paulina said...

Great post. I hope that one day I will meet a person like you in reality. I keep my fingers crossed for your family, especially for Sophia. I lost my cat-friend almost eight years ago and I still miss that small creature.

kate / tinywarbler said...

i love your honesty in this post. i have been feeling the exact same way lately.
i'm so sorry about seymour and hope that sophia will heal soon. i know how hard it is to loose such an important part of your life (our dog passed away a year ago and i blogged about her) and your sophia is feeling that loss too. she is lucky to have such a loving owner! she feels your love even through this hard time for her and it will help her through it.

ROXY MARJ said...

I LOOOOVE honest posts! Love them! I try to do my best about being honest in my blog...however, I do also try to post on my blog about many happy things in my life, that will hopefully inspire others rather then make them feel sad or insecure... :/ You see, when I was married the first time...it was depressing and miserable, and being an avid journal writer at the time I wrote in great lengths about how unhappy I was. But when I would go back and reread my entries...it made me so sad and sick to my stomach. It was our 4th year of marriage [we were married 5 years] and I promised myself not to only write about the happy things in my life...that whole year maybe had 20 entries. Now being older, and smarter...I look back on that time and wished I would have written about happy things that had more to do with blessings....but I didn't know better. Anyways, I just wanted to say that you are very good writer. That is something that I have always wished upon myself but realize that one can't be talented in all areas. I would love to read more about your insights on life Jenny, you say things in such an endearing way. :]

p.s. sorry to hear about your cat. I know what it feels like to loose a pet. I lost two little yorkies due to my divorce... I cried and cried forever, and it took me about 4 years to be able to think of them without balling my eyes out. :/

Pretty Mommy said...

Oh the internet totally makes me feel that way Jenny! Especially when your emotions are already on a roller coaster...always good to take a break and get outside...
hope Sophia feels better soon!
Maybe we should start a reality check series on Instagram ;) I have plenty of nonphotogenic messes to show off - ha!

jamie cassell said...

I'm so so sorry things have been so tough for you recently. I've been thinking of you a lot lately, especially your cats. I'm glad that things are starting to get back on track and you're feeling better, too. I hope Sophia will be better soon, as well.

Lindsay Jewell said...

That's a really neat coincidence - seeing the vet tech at the shelter. Very cool.

Belinda said...

It can be hard taking time for yourself sometimes, and often it takes a crisis for you to stop and realise that life is passing by and you have forgotten to live, to do the things that rejuvenate you and bring you joy. I know that very well. But I've found that the more and bigger crises I go through, the less likely I am to wait for another crisis to take that time for myself.

I used to feel a bit down looking at other people's lives through the 'social media filter' but now I realise that most people are just projecting the life that they want to be living via these channels, and that they probably only post the positive things because they are the things they want to remember. Not the things that made them feel they were not enough. Once I came to understand that I didn't feel down or annoyed while reading their blogs.

I hope that you feel a bit more reconnected with yourself after the weekend. And that volunteering at the shelter continues to help heal your soul. I know these are just words if you don't really feel them, and that I don't even know you very well, but you really are enough. We all are.

By the way, I watched that Brene Brown TED talk on shame and it was A-MAZING. I felt quite emotional watching it. It made me realise that I have quite a bit of learning and growing to do. But that's ok.

Jess said...

have you tried a feliway diffuser for Sophia? I use them during any transitions for my cats and find that they help a lot - and my cats are very neurotic!

Thank you for your post - I can relate!!

jules said...

I find that the hard times are when we most need to care for ourselves and yet we have so little energy to do so. Sometimes it takes making a break to remind ourselves what we need!

Good luck volunteering with the pusscats- sounds like just what you need!

Belinda said...

Oh, and it sounds like you could easily justify having a hammock in your office. ;)

Chau said...

Love your honesty Jenny. I've been stuck with super long work days and little sleep, neglecting a lot of things that make me feel more happy and sane. I need to remember to take a break (esp. from the computer) and get outside, stop eating some much pizza rolls and cook a simple meal!

Btw, that is an amazing view. I'm impressed. I get winded just climbing a flight of stairs :)

I hope Sophia feels better soon.

Nina said...

Yeah, blogs, Facebook etc can sometimes start to feel like marketing brochures for people's perfect lives. You have to remember they're not showing you reality.

So glad you got some cat love at the shelter and saw the woman to thank her. A few days after my little black-with-yellow-eyes cat died, a black-with-yellow-eyes kitten came running up to me in the street - felt like my cat had sent it to give me some love from the feline world!

I know it's a hippie cliche but when I'm feeling dosconnected I love to read Gibran's 'The Prophet'...

jenny gordy said...

Jess, I do have the Feliway diffuser and spray too. I actually bought them so that Seymour would feel comfortable coming home from the hospital. Do you think I need more than one? I'm not sure how big of an area it covers.

Belinda, YES! I want a tiny matching cat hammock for Sophia too! : )

Jess said...

According to their website, "A diffuser should cover an area of 500 to 700 square feet, but must not be covered, placed behind a door or under furniture." - I would put it in the room where she spends the most time - or if there's one area where you can tell she's more stressed out (which is probably not the case in this situation -- but for me, there's a certain area that my cat pees when she's stressed out ... lovely).

Good luck! Their website has a ton of FAQs that might be helpful too :)

jenny gordy said...

Thanks, Jess. It sounds like I might need another one too. I'll check out the website.

k said...

i'm a big believer in nature therapy, definitely helps me clear my head when there is too much going on. glad you guys had a good day to get away, and sounds like the animal shelter will be good too.

in dreams said...

i totally know what you mean with regards to the blogger perfection syndrome (bps? let's make it an acronym!)...it's so hard to see beautiful images parading past of people whose lives don't seem to hold sorrow (or bad hair days). thanks for acknowledging and speaking to that - i feel like too few of us do, and it does need to be said, as it's always so easy to beat yourself up after a trip down the blog-wormhole.

that said, i'm so glad you got out and enjoyed some time away from your thoughts. i feel like it's getting harder and harder to connect with people, so maybe i need to get out more and just be in nature again.

anyway, i really hope sophia starts feeling like her old self again soon! i think your volunteering at the animal shelter is awesome...being covered in cats looking for snuggles would possibly be the happiest moment of my life. i'm jealous! haha. :)

r o y a l said...

I love your list for reconnecting! I'm glad you had a lovely time!

lovemartha said...

it is nice to read a blog post that has such personal connections, because i feel that way too sometimes when looking at other people's work. i often feel intimidated and think other people do "have it all." thanks for being open and truthful! it's always a pleasure to read your posts!

fleur_delicious said...

I'm so with you - when I get down, a turn to the outdoors is amazing. Last year, my third year in my phd (when everyone seems to really hit the wall, completely exhausted, unable to go on), I basically cut way back on the work I was putting into my classes and my exams and just gardened. Even though we had a terribly long winter, I would go out and weed a flowerbed and mulch it, or tend things on my table. It was so good for me.

And being good to yourself will probably also be good for Sophia - it can't help that she has lost her buddy AND that you are grieving. Getting yourself back to a good place is important to helping her as well.

best of luck, Jenny. Hang in there - and I hope you keep enjoying life, feeding all the different parts of yourself (sometimes I feel like a failure for doing this, for needing to cook, to garden, to sit...but the older I get, the more I realize, I just have to accept that this is who I am. And that I may as well just do what I need to, in order to be a happy person!)

jennifer said...

Love seeing your photos of the hike, I always miss stuff like that here. I've been trying to do the same, balance life a little better so that I'm not always working. I've had to start saying no to some things which is hard.

So sorry to hear that sophia is having a hard time. xo.

sheryl said...

Jenny, I just read your posts about Seymour and I am so sorry for your loss. I have one elderly kitty, one almost-elderly kitty, and one young kitty. Last year, we almost lost our middle cat due to a mysterious liver illness, and it was very unexpected and stressful for the whole household, even though she came through it in the end.

I'm sorry to hear about Sophia, too. Cat stress can be such a tricky thing to deal with. I'm sure your vet told you, but definitely watch her eating. We were ignorant of the dangers and got into real health trouble when our kitty wasn't eating due to stress. (BTW, there's something called NutriCal we got from the vet that was helpful ... it's a paste you can put on their paw for them to lick off and it will make up for some of the nutritional needs they're missing by not eating.)

I just wanted to thank you for your openness in writing these posts. I haven't read through all the comments, but I'm sure they're proof that many of us struggle with having it all and failing. You are so right that all you can really do is enjoy the simple pleasures of everyday. Thanks for the reminder. :)

eve said...

jenny,
thank you for sharing some of what is going on with you right now .
i am so sorry that sophia is struggling .
i am thinking of all of you , and i hope things will get better.i have so much admiration for you for showing up at the shelter and volunteering .
that is so neat how you got to see the vet tech at the training ...
i am sending love to all of you .

Oz said...

We must be in the parallel time lines... My causes are totally different but outcome the same, shutting down all the nurturing parts.. So beautifully written... I also had a burn out recently and now back to healthy eating - planned a hiking this weekend!- and just trying to be nice to be myself.. sending you loads of positive vibes. Take care, Oz

k. wang said...

i'm actually really looking forward to meeting you in person; it's posts like this that are really, really difficult to comment on over the internet because it's like "where do i begin?"

i'll save most of the big stuff for when the time is right (i actually just wrote a huge long paragraph that i deleted since it felt too heavy/long for a blog comment), but it seems like you're strong enough to know when to disconnect with the things that don't matter and reconnect with the things that do. and can't wait to connect with you over the things that absolutely matter the most in life, i.e. sushi!

Anna McClurg said...

Hey, Jenny! I really enjoyed this, because I have totally felt the same way about looking at instagram or reading twitter etc. Sometimes I just want to turn it all off. I wonder how all these people seem so perfect and have perfect lives with everything beautifully arranged. Sometimes that makes me annoyed. Removing myself from the internet usually helps a lot. I think volunteering at the shelter is such a good idea! Jed just sent me this article from The Atlantic entitled "Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?" I definitely feel there is something to that. While I am generally pretty happy being by myself or just with Jed, looking at other people's lives and how fantastic they are does make me discontent at times. Anyway, I hope things get brighter for you; I know they will! Maybe we can go for tea again when I'm in town next. Btw, where did you go hiking? Jed and I are always into new places to go when we are back visiting!

nicole said...

Jenny, thank you for this lovely post. I think we all need reminding that everyone's life is filled with the pretty and the ugly, and it's the way we chose to deal with it that defines us. Good for you for taking your pain and turning it into an opportunity to connect with the things that nourish you, and to reach out towards other hurting beings. No doubt the love you're giving to those shelter kitties will help heal your sad heart. I hope Sophia will heal too.

Allison Dobson said...

I was sorry to hear about Seymour - I have an idea that might help Sophia recover. We adopted our cat from outside (he was an abandoned, declawed pet out with feral cats and aligators!) and it took him a long time to adjust to the indoors. He was very nervous when he heard any noise from the cats outside, and he started peeing outside the litterbox on a daily basis, and scratching until he bled (like Sophia). We tried a plug-in deiffuser with cat pheromones, and it worked wonders. He gradually calmed down and has become a healthy, well adjusted house cat. Sophia might really benefit from the same thing - here is a link to the stuff we used:
http://www.amazon.com/Feliway-Plug-In-Diffuser-Refill-Milliliters/dp/B000WHUOEI

I hope this helps!

Allison Dobson said...

I was sorry to hear about Seymour - I have an idea that might help Sophia recover. We adopted our cat from outside (he was an abandoned, declawed pet out with feral cats and aligators!) and it took him a long time to adjust to the indoors. He was very nervous when he heard any noise from the cats outside, and he started peeing outside the litterbox on a daily basis, and scratching until he bled (like Sophia). We tried a plug-in deiffuser with cat pheromones, and it worked wonders. He gradually calmed down and has become a healthy, well adjusted house cat. Sophia might really benefit from the same thing - here is a link to the stuff we used:
http://www.amazon.com/Feliway-Plug-In-Diffuser-Refill-Milliliters/dp/B000WHUOEI

I hope this helps!

Hello Lindello said...

I'm glad you and Joe are taking time for yourselves! So important. It's amazing how nature can put things into perspective too.

I hope Sophia feels better soon. Poor thing :(

REBECCA CRALL said...

Oh, I so needed to read this post today. The internet is such a funny beast. I love reading blogs, twitters etc but I often get off the internet feeling completely empty and inadequate. It's like everyone has it together and I am barely treading water. Reading posts like this is SO refreshing. It reminds me that I am not alone.

julia said...

I'm really glad that you shared a bit about what's been going on with you. I think perhaps it's hard not to shut down or go into survival mode when you work out of your house. I tend to never leave my house and then it makes me even more withdrawn and grumpy, and my only "access" to the world is through the internet. And then I see amazing pictures of kitchens and perfectly made breakfasts and wonder why I don't have that. I recently purchased Kinfolk for the first time - and I do love it! But it makes me strive for perfection, which I know isn't possible when you rent and you and your partner work all day. At those times when I feel so vulnerable to imperfection, I kick myself and remember it's those little simple things - like taking a hike, listening to some live music, and having meaningful and silly conversations with friends - that these things are real things. I'm glad that you've been able to find an outlet for that with volunteering, it's sounds like it's going to be a really good experience for you.

Jade said...

thank you for being so very honest in this post. it's really refreshing. i was just reading this article in the atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/05/is-facebook-making-us-lonely/8930/ that kind of touched on some of the things you talked about here.

the painful truth of the matter is that no one has it all. not even close! but we like to project that things are maybe going better than they actually are. it would be cool if we actually worked to make things better together, but i do feel that the internet has created little pockets of isolation. a real shame.

Kayla Poole said...

thanks for sharing so candidly with all of us. it is both refreshing and affirming.

Anna Emilia said...

Many good things to you all!

Walking feels always so healing. (Even when it snows in April like this morning while walking around a small lake with a friend. A good reason to continue all the way to a market to drink some coffee and eat something nice.)

Warm weekend greetings.

Unknown said...

Sorry to hear all that you're going through, Jenny. Your poor Miss Sophia! You are right--things will heal with time.

By the way, is that the Coralville Reservoir trail, just past the bait shop and ice cream shop? It looks eerily familiar...if so, I grew up in the housing development across the street!

Jocy said...

This is a lovely, thoughtful post. I'm sorry about Seymour. I hope Sophia gets better soon.

You're handling it all well, it seems. Everyone feels like crap now and then. Life takes its toll.

This week was especially tough for me, so your post resonated. I've seen people break emotionally in front of me when working and living in this country for a few months. Often, they were sick (physically and also emotionally) of the place.

After two years here, I hit a wall this week and I felt like sh*t the entire week. No one has it all. But we can have a lot and love, in its many forms, is what makes life meaningful. You're lucky to have so much of it.

citycountrycity said...

One of the reasons I've loved your blog over the years is that you're real and accessible. There are other bloggers who are too, but they're few and far between. Thanks for telling it like it is, Jenny. Makes me like you even more. :-)

thismummaslife said...

Your entire second paragraph sums up a lot of what I also feel so beautifully. I try to keep my blog positive, and leave some of the day to day negativity and junk from my life out of it, but I worry that because of this I appear fake, or even preachy at times, which I do not want. Ultimately I strive to present a place for creativity and everyday joy, apart from my daily life for my own reasons.

Reconnection with life's joys is exactly what I strive for all the time, though it is sometimes very hard. Lovely post!

thismummaslife said...

I also wanted to sat that I quotes a paragraph from here in my own blog today, crediting you and linking back to you. I hope you do not mind.

PhoebsFloral.com said...

Very lovely photos, and yes it very true that we do need to reconnection with life's joys, that very true indeed. Keep up the good work, I love your post.