Meet Opal | Clear The Shelters 2019

Opal | Clear the Shelters 2019

Saturday, August 21, 2019 was Clear the Shelters 2019, a national event in which adoption fees are waived at animal shelters. During this event you can visit a shelter and find a number of adoptable pets who have been vaccinated and spayed or neutered and are ready to meet their forever family. Even though I’m still in the process of moving, I was aware of this event ahead of time and knew that I might stop by and try to find a dog that would be my new companion in Austin.

I have been looking at pet listings online for our local animal shelter for literally months, probably since May. I was hoping I may be able to trick my parents into adopting, since Ty was adopted in June 2013 on whim to be a companion to our German Shepard Apollo after we lost Max, my childhood dog. Of course, Ty is much more of an independent spirit while also being the most cuddly of any of our previous pets. He would probably be fine if he stayed an “only child” the rest of his life.

Once I realized I could likely move out on my own this year, my search became more fevered to find a pet for myself. All my life, my parents have warned me not to get dog before I can fully provide for it financially. As someone who is fully aware of the cost of a dog and the time commitment it is, I have still longed for one to call my own. Even if it might make my life tougher financially, I felt like the benefits far outweigh the challenges. But as consequence, I did not feel safe sharing my plans with anyone! I refused to give anyone the chance to talk me out of it.

Even though I have yet to move into my apartment and will not yet have very stable income, I decided to visit the animal shelter this weekend and see if there was a dog I felt would fit into my life. I knew it would be a challenging week, but I was certain that if I found the right dog then the short-term challenges would be nothing in the grand scheme of things.

With all this mind, I wanted to share my Clear the Shelters 2019 adoption story and my first weekend spent bonding with Opal.

Clear the Shelters 2019

When I arrived at the animal shelter, I could tell it had already been busy. The shelter had been open just about an hour thus far and many of the smaller dogs were already taken. It was a little discouraging because I know I could not handle a big dog on my own and also that I couldn’t take on the responsibility of a puppy. Puppies are adorable, but they are much more work than I am currently willing to take on! Plus, mutts can be like a slowly unveiled mystery box. You don’t know how big they might eventually get if you get them when they are puppies!

I wanted a slightly older dog from the beginning, because I knew its energy level would be lower. An adult dog would be far more likely to be fine lazying about the apartment while I went to work and not cause much damage.

I found her in the last room I almost missed. Opal was one of the dogs I had seen online over the last couple of weeks. There had been a few dogs on my mental list to try to find in person, and I only managed to find about 3-4 of them. Her kennel mate was jumping over her in his/her own excitement. While Opal was interested in the people who walked by, she didn’t jump at the door or bark. She remained calm and collected, and I felt I had found my match the moment I laid eyes on her.

After grabbing her kennel card and getting a Clear the Shelters 2019 volunteer to help me get her out, we took her outside to see how she acted one-on-one. She didn’t pull on her leash and walked really well. One thing we talked about really early is her health condition. She had tested positive for giardia and heartworms when she arrived at the shelter. She was also showing possible signs of kennel cough, which can be contagious to other dogs. That was a little concerning, but from her walks she did not seem to be too badly affected by anything yet.

She was on some medications but hadn’t started heartworm treatment yet, despite being at the shelter for almost a month. I learned about options for her treatment and decided I still wanted to adopt her. It wasn’t ideal, but I felt I was doing a much bigger service by adopting her now that I was aware of the reason why she was probably still at the shelter. There is a foundation that helps pay for the heartworm treatment of pets adopted from shelters, so I am currently eagerly awaiting their response to my application and email.

Our First Weekend Together

We had a lovely weekend together after Clear the Shelters 2019 before I needed to return to Austin for work. Opal slept much of the time, and after she learned she was allowed in my bed it was hard to get her downstairs! I wanted to let her outside a bunch so she knew she didn’t ever need to pee or poo indoors, but she showed little interest in the outdoors. When I would hang out downstairs to cook and eat, she would often wander off by herself to go back up the stairs to get into my bed. When I would walk into my room, her tail would immediately start wagging, even if she wasn’t facing the door. She is such a sweetheart.

Opal In Bed
Lori’s New Dog Opal Resting in Bed

Our first night in the bed together, there was a lot of space between us. However, she gradually inched closer, and by daybreak she was in my face ready to say good morning. The next night I had realized that personal boundaries were now essentially non-existent. She had me laughing when she ended up shoulder-to-shoulder with me, both of us on our backs. When I was barely ready to sleep, I found she had repositioned herself so she could rest her head on my neck from behind me. I didn’t want to disturb her, but her hair was so ticklish!

I already love her so much and was devastated to need to leave her so quickly, especially since she is sick. She is already exhibiting a few of the symptoms of heartworms, including lethargy and significant weight loss. She has trouble going up the stairs and definitely seems lethargic beneath her excitement to be in a proper home. When she’s napping, she breathes pretty heavily and sometimes needs to sit up to cough. It’s like there’s something in her throat, but nothing ever comes up.

I really hope that the heartworm foundation will get back to me by the end of the week. I would like to start her treatment as soon as possible. I’ll have my apartment at the end of the week and would like to bring her back with me, but I need to know how much her treatment will cost. If it will be cheaper, I would prefer to get her treated over there.

But then there’s also the concern about travel. I don’t think she likes the car too much right now and I don’t have a crate for her yet. She’s a little big, so I am hesitant to buy one. My car is not very bit anyway, so it probably wouldn’t fit. Never mind all the stuff I need to cram into it!

I plan to make at least two extra pit stops for her, just to make sure she knows she does not need to relieve herself in the car. She threw up in my car Monday morning right as we were leaving to drop her off at my cousin’s. I felt so bad. For one, I was leaving her. But I also felt because it was definitely my fault; I fed her right before we left, not thinking about how nervous she was to see me pack up.

Her Name

For those curious about her name, I changed it. She did not respond to her kennel name, so I had complete freedom to rename her myself. I had more boy names than girl names in mind ahead of time, because I grew up with male dogs! But I didn’t go into Clear the Shelters 2019 with any specific name I wanted to use. I believe in getting to know the dog before picking a name if you have the luxury of the option.

Opal’s name was inspired by the little girl in from Because of Winn-Dixie. I’ve always loved the name Winnie, but I didn’t think it didn’t suited Opal. When my mind fixated on Opal in the car on the drive home, I felt it suited her. She’s a beautiful dog, but I didn’t feel like giving her a super cutesy name. Also there are not a lot of human female names I would like to give a dog for some reason. Neither could I think of any character names I would have liked to give her. With more time I might have, but a name was not high on my list of priorities!

Her name is that there are so many nickname possibilities, which was a decision-making factor in picking a name! I had a lot of fun calling Apollo, even Ty, by several different names other than his own. Many of Apollo’s nicknames would also work for Opal (e.g. Polly, Pollywally, Opie, Opalrooney)! I mean, her name is a kind of anagram of his, which I’m just now properly realizing! So I got to honor that big doofus with her name in a way.

End Note

I am so excited for this weekend. I’m bringing Opal to the vet on Saturday, so I’ll be making the trip back Friday evening. I had my doubts about bringing her back to Austin this week, but it seems necessary now because I do not want to continue to impose on my cousins. I’m lucky they offered to watch her for me this weekend, because I would not have asked! Regardless of cost, I will be paying for her heartworm treatment. I am so scared of losing her. I’ve quickly given her my heart and cannot imagine to prospect of replacing her. It would be hard.

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My 2019 Bullet Journal + January Spread

Over the past couple of years, I have begun dabbling in bullet journalling. I’ve always loved stationary and keeping a planner in school. I’ve also always been highly reflective, creativity-inclined, and goal-oriented, so bullet journalling felt like a natural fit for me. I’m also attracted to the fact that it is something I could make and hold in my hands since so much of my time is spent online.

In total, I had created three monthly spreads before this month, for June 2017, September 2018, and October 2018. Each time felt like an experiment. When I was first starting out, I didn’t know what page elements I would want or need during the month. I didn’t know what was practical and or what would work for me.

I’m not going to lie, I did not complete filling out any of these previous spreads, abandoning each project at some point during the month. But each time I started a new one, I got closer to the right layout and elements for me.

In this blog post, I will share my inspiration, my January spread, and my rationale for what I decided to include in my bullet journal this month.

My Method

I was recently watching AmandaRachLee‘s 2018 Journal Flip Through for ideas when I came to an important realization. While I love her artistic style and creativity in spreads, I do not feel motivated to make my bullet journal a planner. I don’t have many important dates to remember each month and prefer to keep an actual paper calendar on my desk for quick reference.

Rather my aim with my bullet journal to track progress on my projects over time, to brainstorm, to keep a log of the things I want to do and actually do. Some people also make their bullet journal their diary, but I personally am keeping that in a separate notebook. I treat my bullet journal more as a physical manifestation of a online blog, highly selective and curated towards what I want to share and remember.

If you’re interested in starting a bullet journal, I highly recommend:

  1. Immersing yourself in the bullet journal communities in the blogosphere, on Pinterest, on Instagram, and on YouTube. There are a lot of fun ideas to parse through and only you know what spreads will work best for you.
  2. Practicing first in journals you already have. You don’t need to buy special notebooks or pens when you are just starting out! It will most likely just psyche you out anyway if you have perfectionist tendencies; you will be too anxious not to make mistakes.
  3. Using sticky notes to organize your layout. Some people like to create story board-like rough drafts before they start putting pen officially to paper, but I find sticky notes work just as well. After I list all the page elements I want, I go through my journal and figure out where things will fit most naturally.

I went back and forth with the idea of buying a new notebook for my bullet journal this year. The specific one on my wish list was the Scribbles That Matter A5 dotted notebook. It was only $20, but money was tight over the holidays and I wanted to buy gifts for my loved ones instead. *le sigh*

Also, the more I thought about it, I realized using a regular notebook would work just as well. It would be my gimmick if I started dedicating more of my blog-space and focus to journalling. So I looked through my small collection of notebooks I had collected over the years and decided to use a more recently acquired journal, my Target decomposition notebook. It’s a nice size and makes me happy every time I look at it.

One negative to this notebook is that my pen ink (Pilot G-2, fine, ball-point) bleeds through the pages quite easily. My current solution is to tape pages together so I do not need to worry about the visibility of the ink marks. It feels a little wasteful of page space, but I figure I might find better solution later on this year. I know there’s liquid paper I could paint over the back, and I could also start gluing in loose leaf.

My January 2019 Spread

I decided to make clouds my January theme because it’s been a very rainy winter in Texas this year and because I always feel like I always have my head in the clouds, especially around the new year. Clouds carry a lot of symbolic meaning.

I did not come up with this theme on my own. My spread is heavily inspired by my bujo idol AmandaRachLee‘s April 2018 set-up, from the distinct cloud design to specific page elements like the mood tracker. Where I deviated was primarily in the actual layout. I don’t love drawing out calendars, so my spreads have elements that lend themselves better to list formats and brain dumps.

Directly after the main page, I have a page for my mood and habit trackers. I find it enlightening to be able to see at a glance how happy or unhappy I was during a month, particularly since I generally end the month without remembering everything that went on. I’m still working out how I want to visually depict my mood (e.g. via size of rain drop, length dropped, or color shade of blue-grey).

I used to make my habit trackers a simple table that would take up half a page. I decided to try out this mini-calendar design to better be able to see how consistently I was sticking to the daily habits I wanted to nurture.

Next up is my two-column January event planner. I break it up into personal and blog categories for better spatial organization. Personal plans might be related to work, appointments, or social events. For the blog section, I like to keep track of the blog posts I plan to write. Once they are complete and published, I go over the final titles in ink so I can see at a glance what went up that month.

Next to my plans, I like to be able to see the specific goals I set for the month. The ones shown in the picture below (see page on the right) were ideas I had last week before I hurt my back. I plan to get to them once I’m 100% again!

I also like to keep space for brain dump. Here I record any special ideas I might have regarding writing, blogging, or any number of my projects. It’s not a lot of space, but I do find that it’s enough room key ideas that remind me what I was thinking at the time.

The newest addition to my monthly spread a place for weekly notes and to-do lists. Many people allot space for diary-like notes they want to remember. I personally see myself just writing to-do lists and short life highlights. I folded a page in half to reduce the number of times I would have to draw the side-bar calendar. 

I have still been thinking about how I want to use this space, so I’ve not applied much ink beyond the side-bar calendar. I do think it will be a place to keep track of what I end up doing each day or maybe job positions for which I apply.

 ☙ ❧ End Note ❧ ☙

I hope you liked this blog post! I have been wanting to start talking about bullet journalling on this blog for a long time. In case anyone’s interested, I think I will try to share a flip through this spread at the end of the month with some more commentary about how well my set-up worked. I’d also like to start doing more focused posts about the set-up of my bullet journals.

I will be back this weekend most likely with a writing update + 2019 writing plans. I have a post on my recent reads that is nearly complete, but I think that I will not be able to finish the last book I want to talk about until after this weekend.

Do you bullet journal? How do create your monthly spreads? Is your set-up organized entirely differently?

 

An INFP’s Guide to Navigating Despair

It seems that September is a month many people seem to prioritize self-care. Coincidentally, I had actually started to draft this post in late August when I was coming out of a particularly dark mental state. I don’t really know how to describe it. Breakdown seems a bit strong and panic attack doesn’t sound right either. I’ve just been calling it a mental rough patch (or a case of the mean reds).

Let me try to describe it. You know that feeling where you find yourself getting angry at someone who maybe doesn’t truly deserve it and you know that but you’re still just itching to lash out. And you can recognize you’re being entirely irrational but don’t know how to cope or drop it.  And then this negativity just kind of turns inward and you find yourself unable to think about anything but every single fault with yourself.

Oh, you don’t know what I mean? OK, so but maybe you’ve felt extreme self-loathing that sticks in your mind and make you want to curl up in a hole and never come out? I’d say this happens to me on average around 2–3 times a year. (If there’s a word for this cycle/state, let me know!)

I feel like there are a lot of articles out there about things you can do for self-care. But every person is different, so I thought I’d share the things that gradually help me navigate my own despair and remember how to feel more like myself again.

First…

✎ 1. Have a good cry. Let it all out. Cry until you can’t cry anymore. I promise, you’ll eventually feel better or at least in a place where you can begin to heal. (ALEXA PLAY ARIANA GRANDE’S “NO TEARS LEFT TO CRY.”)

✎ 2. Take a nap. If you’re feeling particularly inconsolable, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is just flip the switch and take a nap. Call in sick to work. Take a mental health day. If you’re finding it difficult to sleep and keep your brain from spiralling, maybe listen to some of your favorite music to be sad to. Bathe in the catharsis of another’s art.

Power ballads can be great. Listen to some classic Noah and the Whale or Smashing Pumpkins or Fleetwood Mac.

✎✎✎ AFTERWARDS, THINK ABOUT IT ✎ ✎ ✎

Think about what’s making you sad or angry. Maybe vent in a journal or online diary before you try talking to someone (if you think talking to someone is a good option). Try to think about what the real issue is, the true reason why you might be upset. Maybe something has been building up for a while subconsciously. 

However it happens, you need to make peace with the fact that you cannot control others, you can only control yourself. You might be able to tell someone why they are bothering you, but you can’t reasonably expect them to change. You have to realize that you are in control of how you let others affect you. 

Then…

✎ 3. Take a hot bath. Light a candle, have a water bottle handy, bring a book or your laptop (for watching Netflix, not scrolling through social media). The hot water will make your muscles feel great. You can sweat out the negativity.

Don’t think of it necessarily as a luxury. Think of it as a chore, something that must be done. I think it’s good to do every once in a while, even if you don’t like taking hot baths. It forces you to be alone with yourself. If you don’t have a bath tub, first let me say I’m sorry. Alternatively, you can take a long hot shower.

✎ 4. Clean up your room. Do you have a corner where everything seems to end up? It’s amazing what tackling a small task can do for your mental health. Celebrate the small things you can do to make your immediate living environment more clean and clutter free.

✎ 5. Dress up to go nowhere. How do you expect to feel better about yourself on the inside if you’re not taking care of yourself on the outside? I think a lot of people think that we dress up entirely for other people, but I think we dress up so that other people can see us as we want to be seen. For normal people, it’s not about being the best dressed or most attractive. It’s about showing that we want to be treated with respect.

When you’re not feeling great, think of dressing up as a form of “faking it until you make it.” Even if you’re not happy right now, you got to treat yourself with respect. It’s easier to be happy when you feel clean and are dressed up.

✎ 6. Cook your favorite meal. Feel productive by fueling your body with something of your own creation. Preferably something that won’t make you feel gross afterward. I know it can be appealing to make yourself a carb-heavy meal and to wallow while you grieve whatever it is that is causing you grief, but feeling gross afterward can make things worse. Especially, if you already have an unhealthy relationship with your body.

I love making a satisfying strawberry salad (fat-free feta, chopped walnuts, & strawberries over lettuce /spinach mix with some raspberry vinaigrette) or chewy vegan oatmeal cookies [Liv B’s Recipe Video].

On the topic of food, you might feel better if you change your diet. Even if you don’t think you have a problem with what you eat, integrating new recipes into your diet might rejuvenate how you’re feeling.

✎ 7. Assess what can stay and what must go. It might be time to clear out all the clutter taking up space in your life, whether that be mental or physical. Clean out your desk. Get rid of those clothes you never wear. Be brutally honest with yourself. Do you really need that orientation packet from that job five years ago?  Do you really think you’ll still like that blouse after you’ve lost 20 pounds?

Also think about the people in your life. Is there anyone who causes you more unhappiness than joy? Think about ways to distance yourself from their negativity. Even if it’s hard to cut off certain people completely, you can find ways to gradually minimize your time with them. Maybe a break is all you need to heal. You don’t need to burn your bridges completely.

☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

If you are feeling despair and none of my tips seem to work, you might want to consider seeking professional help. There is no shame in asking for help when you need it. Choose self-care over self-harm. I’ve never been truly suicidal, but a couple of weeks ago when I was at my lowest I did find myself very curious about the resources available at the suicide prevention website.

I found it really cathartic to read other people’s stories and learn about how they came back from the brink. Maybe it’s because I’m a reader, but sometimes I find easier to care more about other people’s stories of pain than it is to sit in my own. I feel selfish for feeling any pain at all when others suffer far worse than I do.

Thank you for reading!
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