Tag Archives: dog

Rollin’ with the homies…

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My life right now.

So being laid up by this broken foot has been overall less fun than you might think–being waited on by my brother, while necessary, got old really fast due to my cramped apartment. After a couple days off my feet to alleviate some major swelling, I determined that staying in a third floor SF walkup (with extra rickety stairs) during my ~6 week recovery was going to end in one of two outcomes: 1. I fall while trying to use the stairs with my crutches and break every other bone in my body and die, or 2. I stay in my apartment alone and go slowly insane, assign names and personalities to every inanimate object around me and talk to them like friends (OHAI, MR. TEA KETTLE! DID YOU JUST WHISTLE AT ME? DAMN, I’M FLATTERED), choke on mediocre pad thai and die. So I sucked up the cost for a last-minute cross country flight and am now at my parents’, where my mother in particular is saving my sanity by taking me on daily trips to see the suburban sights (Target and Starbucks, WOOT!) and saving me from further injury by helping with daily tasks that have gotten a LOT harder since the accident, even with my new baller KNEE SCOOTER, Y’ALL.

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I’m rolling with the homies…

I even got a basket for it, which came in handy at Target the other day as we stocked up on essentials like a dog toy shaped like an easter flower, soap with a mustache printed on it, and cadbury mini-eggs (YOU’RE WELCOME FOR MY SUPPORT OF THE COMMERCIAL CIRCUS SURROUNDING YOUR CRUCIFIXION AND RESURRECTION, JESUS!). I must say I look pretty cool on my scooter with my giant broken foot boot, dripping sweat as I propel myself across the just-waxed floors of every big box store in southern New Hampshire at speeds that astound of the kindergarteners I whiz past while squealing, “Wheeee! EAT MY DUST, RUGRAT!”

But yeah, besides the scooter (which I’m very excited about, unless you can’t tell), this kind of sucks. I am definitely showing my able-bodied privilege here, but I have a renewed respect for people with disabilities. Many places are not as friendly to the mobility-impaired as you might think, despite the ADA. Everything from a curbs to a rain mat to a sidewalk seam is a possible death trap if you land your crutch the wrong way, and maneuvering scooters and wheelchairs through crowds at the airport and aisles at the supermarket can be really frustrating. I’m SO fortunate that this is temporary (and that I didn’t need surgery!), and I feel sheepish and naive for having to get injured myself to realize that. Also, as a depressed person, I haven’t been dealing with the limitations of even temporary physical disability/injury well, which has made the last week kind of hard. I don’t say that to ask for pity, it’s just a reality of having depression and anxiety–I take physical illness really hard and often see it as a personal failing (like, oh, if I had washed my hands more, I wouldn’t have gotten the flu; or, if I had worn a different pair of shoes, I wouldn’t have broken my foot). Pointless self-blame is super fun, right, fellow depressed peeps? :/

That being said, I’m finally getting into a rhythm, and I’ll survive, obviously. Having my parents and Roxie around has been a life-saver. Roxie especially provides great emotional support as she’s a big fan of cuddling me in the evenings when I watch TV or write:

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She really liked “The Martian.”

So my main life advice to you all at present is to avoid drinking wine and then walking, put away some money in a rainy-day fund in case you ever need to buy a knee scooter on Amazon, and don’t pay attention to the election on Facebook (this last one is not broken foot-related, just general advice. We still have eight months of this, guys. EIGHT. MONTHS.).

Enjoy your feet if you got ’em! ❤

 

 

The Thirty-First Year of the Jackie

So, it turns out that–despite the existence of alcohol and chocolate–I have made it to my thirty-first birthday. A year ago today, I was in a sort-of-impressive-sounding corporate job with a four-hour round-trip daily commute and an email addiction. I was really depressed, and so, shortly after turning thirty, I took a leave of absence which ultimately led to me quitting my job. It was the scariest thing I have ever done in my life, with the possible exception of going into that super gross hot tub at Myrtle Beach during our senior trip in college (those flesh-eating viruses are NO JOKE).

Now, one year into this journey off the beaten high-achiever path that I’ve dutifully followed for most of my life, I’ve achieved a new milestone: being proud of myself on my birthday.

This may not sound like a big deal, but for me, it really is. Once I was legally able to drink, I stopped enjoying my birthday. Every January 5th brought on a contemplative funk during which I lamented my lack of achievement and progress during the previous year: “Some people my age are olympic medalists! Half my friends have graduate degrees! Look at that guy; he’s only twenty-three and he makes so much more money than I do! Look at that girl; she’s only twenty-five and she’s married with a baby!  What have I done? Look at how worthless I am!”

I once expressed this attitude to one of my coworkers at Google a few years back. She was a pretty cool chick and refreshingly honest, and she was baffled by my view of aging. She’d lost a close family member at a young age and birthdays inspired gratitude in her–she was always happy and relieved to make it another year. I remember nodding and chastising myself internally for not being grateful enough for my birthdays and for not having cancer or losing an arm to that Myrtle beach hot tub, and then going right back to dreading early January and berating myself.

This year, however, is different. When it comes to traditional measures of success, this year certainly hasn’t touched most of those that preceded it. I can’t say that I work at a fancy company. I can’t say my salary is XYZ bucks per week. I can’t talk about awards or kudos or performance scores at work, or drop the name of any executives I work with.

What I can say, however, and what I’m proud of, is that I’ve had the most new experiences in the past year of my life than in the previous eight put together. These experiences ranged from good to bad to everything in between, but they made me think (and blog) about myself and the world deeply, and in different ways than I have before.

I experienced the joy of realizing that I could write, and write well(ish), and write enough words and sentences and paragraphs to make a whole book-type document that people might want to read. I experienced the excitement of getting an agent, and the subsequent anxiety and boredom of submitting to publishers.

I experienced the love of my family, and the grief of saying goodbye to a family member, albeit a furry one. I also experienced the excitement of welcoming a new love into my life, though this created drama with my old love, which was iced coffee (sorry bae).

I experienced the stress and exhilaration of travel, from people-watching the crazy costume-clad nerds of San Diego Comic Con to getting knocked up by food in Florence and trudging through the rain in Paris in super ugly shoes and seeing Britney dance way worse than when I saw her on tour when I was sixteen.

I witnessed two amazing couples get married on opposite-ish sides of the country and cried my eyes out both times because I AM A SAP, OK?

I experienced breakdowns and bad nights, and discovered new coping mechanisms to pick myself up when I fall or when the world seems too much to handle.

In short, I experienced life, and I had the time to really take it in, as opposed to watching it all pass me by. And, for the first time since I was a little kid, I’m proud of myself for that fact alone. I’m proud of myself for trying to live well, and I’m grateful to all those people (both IRL and on this blog) who have come along on the journey with me this year.

So, here’s to the thirty-first year of the Jackie! May the thirty-second be just as interesting, and may you still be interested enough to tune in and read about it once in a while 🙂

Love,

The Birthday Girl

 

 

Visualizing Utopia

I took an involuntary blogging hiatus over Thanksgiving due to the DeathColdwhich laid me out flat for a good eight days; I’m still hacking up phlegm on an hourly basis (you’re welcome for the mental image).

As a return to blogging post-DeathCold, I was going to do a beauty post with my recommendations from my latest Allure Beauty Box, but I couldn’t because my mind is still spinning from the latest high-profile incidence of domestic terrorism that took place on Black Friday at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs as well as the revelations regarding Laquan McDonald’s murder at the hands of police last year, among, as usual, other horrific things.  Hell, as I’m typing this, my Twitter feed is telling me that there is a mass shooting incident ONGOING in San Bernardino with as many as 20 injuries possibly reported (Update as I finish this article: 12 dead possibly. My God.)

I’m so, so, so tired of this. Exhausted, in fact. Aren’t we all?

I’m so tired of the culture of violence, especially against women, children, people of color, and the poor. Tired of the racism and Islamophobia. Tired of the unwillingness of so many people to see that things need to change, from rape culture to reasonable, commonsense restrictions on gun ownership and use (BTW, if you want to post a comment here on how gun violence is solely a mental illness issue vs. gun availability, please just don’t. As a mentally ill person myself, you’re not gonna convince me and I’m sure I won’t convince you. Feel free to ignore this post and go find someone else to talk to about it; the internet should have plenty of safe spaces for that. Thanks in advance.).

I feel like I do what I can, you know? A lot of you feel that way, too, I bet. We donate money to causes we believe in, support and vote for candidates to public office who we hope will be able effect positive change. And yet, it still feels like nothing gets better. Part of this, I know, is due to the fact that we have access to news of horrible events 24/7 thanks to social media. Awful things have always happened, but now we hear of them more often, with video and audio recordings of the carnage as it happens to bring the horror even closer to home.

So what do we do? What do I do, not just to make the world a better place, but to keep myself sane? Other than continue to donate money and vote and speak out where I can, I’ve had to rely more and more these days on a super-lame-sounding but effective technique to keep myself going: visualization.

About a month ago, I read the fantastic book The Feminist Utopia Project, which is a collection of about sixty stories, cartoons, interviews, fake news articles, etc. imagining a better future, courtesy of dozens of feminist thinkers in many fields. I highly recommend it, even if you’re not that big into feminism. Reading this book gave me a new tool to deal with the horror of the everyday world: visualizing utopia.

When things get awful, like they are getting right now in San Bernardino as well as in thousands of places around the world, I try to take a breath and imagine that fifty or one hundred or two hundred years from now, those who come after me (or maybe even me, if I’m lucky) will see a world that is measurably better than this one. One where the term “mass shooting” is only discussed in history class, the way we discuss the Spanish Inquisition today. A world where we take care of our planet instead of treating it like a disposable coffee cup. A world where no one’s life is better or worse than anyone else’s simply because of their gender identity, skin color, religion, sexual orientation, or where they live in on the map. A world where religion, if it exists at all, is ONLY a source of peace and inner strength for believers and a cause for generosity and love rather than an excuse for hatred. A world without violence. A world where gun control is a non-issue because no one feels like they would ever even need a gun to protect themselves. A world where a woman can go for a run in the park at 3 am with no worry for her safety. A world where no one is homeless. A world where no one is hungry. A world where fewer people are sick, and those who are receive free, top-quality care from medical personnel who are caring and well-treated themselves. A world where there are no borders, and people pass freely from one place to another, sure of hospitality and interest and love wherever they go. A world where I spend every day cuddling with doggies.*  In a word, utopia.

Today especially, we are really, really far off from that world. As it seems to do every couple of days, my heart is breaking for a new group of victims of violence as I type this. I don’t want to become desensitized to it, but I want to believe that things can be better. I want to believe in my utopia. I choose to believe in it today, and I actively wish for it. If the holiday season brings anything good with it, any sort of power, let it be the power to bring humanity closer to this utopia, or any version of it. I’m visualizing, hard. I hope you can take a moment today to visualize it, too. If enough of us do, it can only soothe our souls and bring us closer to making it a reality.

Peace. And I promise, back to beauty posts and funnier shit later this week.

*Ok, this one is a little selfish, but, come on, what is Utopia without doggies?

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Roxie would definitely be part of Utopia.

 

 

 

A New Love

So I know that last week I became engaged to Iced Coffee, but I have a new love that has supplanted him: Roxie.

Here she is:

Roxie Face

Now, she only weighs 7 lbs, and is also a dog, but I am ridiculously in love.  Just look at her PLAYING IN THE DRIVEWAY!

(That is my mom saving her from eating mulch at the end)

In all seriousness, I was a bit nervous about meeting my parents’ new puppy when I came to visit them this week.  As you may recall, we lost our family’s beloved 14-year-old black lab, Jazzy, back in August.  It was a lot harder on all of us than I had expected – even my brother and I, who don’t live at home anymore, were devastated.   So while I was excited to meet this new family member at my parents’ this week, I also felt weird – would I be constantly comparing her to Jazzy?  Was I a bad person for wanting to meet and love a new dog when we had just lost such an important part of our lives?

Well, it turns out that while there have been some bittersweet moments when I still miss my old girl, Roxie, like all dogs, has her own separate personality, and loving her is as effortless, in its own unique way, as it was loving Jazzy.  Despite the fact that Roxie has these SHARP LITTLE RAZOR TEETH OMG I FORGOT PUPPIES TRY TO EAT EVERYTHING INCLUDING YOUR NOSE AND FINGERS.

Welcome to extended family, Roxie!  You’re my new love!  (Sorry Iced Coffee 😦 You’re just not as cuddly as Roxie is, and also you occasionally make me jittery.)

Writing Update – I Am This Dog

So anyone who has been reading my blog is aware that earlier this year I wrote a book.  It’s a memoir about my time as a chicken farmer in Kansas.  Ok, so that’s a lie, but it is an actual novel, with words and sentences and characters and stuff, and after writing it I was like, “Huh, I think this is ok.  I will try to get it published!”

Then I went online to learn about publishing, and cried because all the articles said, “Oh, you want to get published?  Never going to happen – HAHAHA #BYEFELICIA!”  And then I was like, well, screw this, I’m gonna try to get a literary agent anyways because I HAVE DREAMS.

I started querying (if you don’t know what that is, thank your lucky stars and move on with your life) and I was this dog:

I was this dog but less adorable.
I was this dog but less adorable.  And I didn’t wear a tie.

Publishing is a crazy business, and the more I queried and the more I read about queries online, the more I needed wine and a nap.  Then, something miraculous happened – I was referred to a couple of wonderful agencies, and they read my book and wanted to represent me!  When I was given this information, I was this guy:

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It turns out they were serious, and I said, “Are you aware that I’m a dog who has no idea what she’s doing?”  I actually only said that in my brain; outwardly, I pretended like I was confident and also that I am a professional human non-canine who knows things.  It was only 20% totally awkward.

Then I had to decide, and I was like, THIS IS AN EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES (FYI: it took me four tries typing “embarrassment” before I got it right; thanks, spellcheck.  Yep, I’m a writer.).  And then I decided, and now I have an agent, and she is wonderful!  I’ve signed with Sharon Pelletier of DGLM, and she’s fantastic and funny and gets my book, but now I’m worried she’s going to see this blog and ask, why did I sign on to represent a dog who has no idea what she’s doing and also lacks opposable thumbs?

I don’t know, Sharon, but you’re stuck with me now.  Sorry!

So that’s my writing update.  As you might be able to tell, I’m pretty psyched.  I’m also scared, because I’m a dog who has no idea what she’s doing.  But honestly, aren’t we all that dog at some point in our lives?  I think that’s the moral of this blog post, and maybe the Bible, too.  Peace!

P.S. A completely unrelated shoutout – Happy 30th Birthday to my girl T of Tears. Sweat. Sea.  WE ARE GOING OUT TONIGHT!  I know I’m a dog, but I can still drink wine, I promise.

Goodbye, Jazzy

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Jazzy at the vet’s last week

Dear Jazzy,

This morning, after fourteen years and two bouts with cancer, we said goodbye to you.  It was the right thing to do, and it was the right time.  I know you were suffering, and I’m glad that we made the decision to let you go before your pain became any worse.

I will never forget you.  I will never stop loving you.  You were a light in all of our lives from the day we brought you home.  Your memory will be a light for us until the day we pass on and join you, wherever you are.

Here are just a few of the things I will remember about you for the rest of my life:

I remember how soft and sweet you were, and how you won everyone over, from old ladies to little kids – even those who normally fear dogs – with your big brown eyes and silky ears and goofy grin.

I remember how you used to wake me up every morning during high school school, jumping on the bed and licking me until, grumbling, I swatted you away and got my butt in the shower.

I remember how excited you got each Christmas, tearing your stocking to bits to get to the treats and toys you knew to expect when the big tree went up in the corner of the family room.

I remember the Thanksgiving when, despite my mother’s precautions and my uncle’s warning, you managed to jump up on the counter and take a huge bite out of the homemade pumpkin pie.  I remember your guilty expression when we caught you.

I remember the time I left a full plate of food on the kitchen table for about forty seconds to wash my hands, only to return to find the plate licked entirely clean, while you sat nearby trying to look innocent and utterly failing.

I remember countless long walks that exhausted everyone except for you – you always wanted to play fetch as soon as we were back in the yard, despite the wind, rain, or heat.

I remember your childlike excitement at the prospect of a snowflake, or a treat, or a ball, or even the garden hose.

I remember when we thought we were going to lose you to cancer seven years ago, and you were a cheerful, happy dog through months of chemo, two surgeries, and radiation, never whining or whimpering and always happy to go see the vet or the oncologist.  I know how lucky we are that we got seven more years with you.

I remember how you would come and sit next to me (or Bryan, or our parents) whenever I was upset or crying and would offer a snuggle to comfort me.  I remember that you did this for me yesterday, despite your own pain, when I was crying over the fact that I was going to lose you.

I remember the joy you felt in living.  I remember how that joy inspired me.  It still does.

Jazzy, I’m not religious, and, being a dog, I know you weren’t, either.  However, I do believe that you are in a place now where the pain is gone.  No more cancer, no more tumors, no more medications or weak hind legs.  I also believe that one day I will see you again in that better place.

I love you.  I miss you.  You’re a good dog.  Rest, now, until we meet again.

Love,

Jackie

Jasmine, 2001-2015
Jasmine, 2001-2015

 

 

 

 

My family dog is dying and it sucks

So I started to type some witty blog post about kitchen stores and why I love them (they are great, don’t get me wrong), but I just couldn’t bring myself to finish it.  My family dog, Jazzy, is dying, and it sucks and I can’t concentrate on much else.

I wrote about her before, back when I was visiting my family in NH in June.  I’d found some cancerous tumors on her and she ended up having surgery to remove them.  The surgery was for naught, however, as we found more tumors only days after the procedure, and now she has more than we can count, including one huge ugly one on the underside of her right foreleg that bleeds pretty much continuously (sorry I know that’s gross).

She still eats and drinks and wanders outside and likes to cuddle, but she only has weeks left, at most.  I’m back in NH to dog sit for her while my parents go on a vacation that was long-planned and couldn’t be canceled, and while I’m grateful for the time with her, I’m also just depressed.  I hate that she is cancer-ridden and dying, even though she has lived a very long life and I don’t want her to suffer.  If I have to put her down in the next couple of weeks while my parents are gone, I will – I won’t let her be in pain (right now she’s just fatigued).  But it just completely and utterly sucks.

When Jazzy passes away, a part of my childhood will die with her.  I still consider her my childhood pet, even though I was halfway through high school when we got her.  She’s brought so much joy and love to our lives.  I think pets are so beloved to humans because they truly provide us with unconditional love.  They don’t care if we’re in a bad mood, or if we gained ten pounds, or if our makeup is smudged, or if we snap at them; they love us fiercely all the time, no matter what we do or how we look.  Jazzy has spent her whole life loving – she loves me and my brother and my parents, and the grass, and the snow, and the wind, and her toys, and the world.  She loves sleeping and eating and playing and snuggling and pressing up against our legs so she can be close to us and we can pet her more easily.  She isn’t capable of meanness; I can count on one hand the number of times she’s ever snapped at another animal or human (they were all instances of self-defense).  If more humans approached life the way Jazzy does, the world would be a calmer, happier, and more peaceful place.  With lots and lots of treats, of course.

I’m sorry for the depressing post, and I know some people might say that I’m too caught up in my feelings over a dog, but I don’t care – she’s what’s occupying my thoughts these days, and so I’m sharing that here.  If you have a fur baby, please hug him or her for Jazzy in the next few days and spread the love. ❤

Old dogs and real emotions

I’m currently visiting my parents in my hometown in New Hampshire (go…granite? And…cows?) as part of my summer “funemployment” travels.  One of the best parts of visiting home, other than seeing my family and friends here on the East Coast, is hanging out with my old black labrador retriever, Jazzy (née Jasmine – yes, after the Disney princess.  SHE HAD GREAT HAIR, OK?).

Jazzy is fourteen years old this month, and still almost as energetic and as sweet and hungry for treats as ever.  She’s an extremely comforting presence to all who meet her, and she is possibly my parents’ favorite child.  She’s also approximately ninety-eight years old in dog years, and our family is aware that we don’t have much time left with her.

This awareness was intensified this weekend, when I was petting her and discovered a large lump on her right flank.  My parents took her to the vet on Monday, and found that it was cancer, specifically a mast cell tumor, common in older dogs.  Despite her age, the vet recommended surgery as she’s in good shape otherwise, and it was scheduled for the following day.  Though anxious about our beloved pet, we all felt good about this course of action and relatively upbeat.

However, about an hour after her appointment, I was petting her again, this time on her left flank, and, lo and behold, what should I feel there but another lump, this time with two nodules, that felt exactly like the cancerous tumor I had discovered on her other side.  My parents and I promptly lost it.  Jazzy, unaware of why we were all freaking out, simply went to each of us for her usual round of head scratchings, probably thinking to herself, “God, these humans sure are weird.  Can I have a treat, please?”

Everything turned out ok – we took Jazzy in the next morning for surgery, and they simply removed both tumors, and told us it’s likely that this will be the end of it.  She was hilariously high on pain medication last night (she would be a terrible companion for a pub crawl), and is pretty exhausted today, but the vet says she could live another year or more of high-quality life if no more cancer crops up.  Here she is this morning in one of her favorite spots, her crate, dozing from the pain meds – you can see her scar on her belly if you look closely, as well as the white patch on her leg from her previous bout with cancer seven years ago (yep, this literal bitch is a literal 2x cancer survivor):

I'm sooooo high, you guys.
I’m sooooo high, you guys.

This whole incident, however, got me thinking about how I judge myself based on my emotional reactions.  After I discovered the second tumor, I was numb, and then angry, and then I sobbed.  I could barely sleep Monday night, and was a wreck most of yesterday from lack of sleep and anxiety about how Jazzy was holding up in surgery.  And all the time I was experiencing this flow of “negative” emotions and sensations, I was berating myself for feeling them.  “She’s just a dog,” I thought to myself.  “Other people in the world are suffering horrible tragedies like earthquakes and starvation and Donald Trump running for president, and you’re literally losing sleep over a fourteen-year-old quadruped who’s already lived beyond the average lifespan for her breed.  You’re a ridiculous and stupid white girl.”  I apologized to my mother when she saw me crying.  My parents were great, supporting each other and me by saying “it’s ok to be sad, we love her – old dog or not.”  I still couldn’t shake the feeling of guilt, however, over being “too emotional” over something that was “not a big deal.”

Once the surgery was over and Jazzy came home in good, albeit dog-drunk, shape, my relief allowed me to make the connection (my therapist would be proud!) that trivializing my emotions, regardless of their cause, is a pattern I’ve engaged in my whole life.  I used to get so upset at work when I was stressed or when someone said or did something unprofessional or mean, and then get even MORE upset by the demon voice in my head which told me I was overreacting or being unreasonable.  Society in general teaches us to suppress or hide “bad” emotions, like grief, anger, or frustration, especially when the cause of these emotions isn’t justifiable by some arbitrary standard.  Inconsolable because your ninety-year-old grandfather died?  Well, he lived a long life, what are you crying for?!  In a rage because some sexist jerk at work made a joke about the size of your ass?  Happens to everyone – no need to make a fuss – also, you might want to consider losing a few pounds!  Depressed because you got divorced?  Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all!

Any of this sound familiar to anyone?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s necessarily healthy or feasible for people to go around constantly weeping or screaming or otherwise giving full vent to every single emotion in public.  But I do think that we harm ourselves by judging certain emotions as “bad” and then encouraging, if not mandating, that we suppress any expression of these emotions, even in public or professional settings.  I think it can be appropriate, even useful, to cry at work, for instance: one of the best moves I ever made in managing the relationship with a client was telling him that he had made me cry (he had berated me in a meeting in front of forty people).  When he truly realized how his actions had made me feel, our entire relationship changed – it became more honest, more respectful, and more effective.  By the time I left the company, he was my favorite client – all because I let him know, with my words AND body language, how angry and sad he had made me feel with his behavior.

Lol looking at this post it seems sort of weird to go from talking about an old dog with cancer to crying at work, but to me the connection is important.  It’s ok for me to cry about my sick dog.  It’s ok for you to be angry with a mean coworker and to express that anger appropriately.  It’s ok to laugh out loud when something is really fucking funny.  It’s ok to be a real, whole human being, and not a robot or a Vulcan.

If you’re reading, I’m interested to hear about your own experiences – how do you deal with strong emotions in tough situations?  How do you remain authentic to yourself in a society where authenticity is often touted but rarely embraced?

I hope you have a great week.  I’m off to pet Jazzy – she’s milking this “I had cancer! Pet me!” thing for all it’s worth!