Monday, December 21, 2015

Identity

For the past 15 years (a full third of my life), I've been a volunteer with a local Boxer rescue organization. I left the rescue in November. I still have my foster dog, Kevin. He is going to his new home on Wednesday. I'm very happy for him. I waited patiently for the right match (he has separation anxiety) and I think this placement will work out great.  They seem excited to get him, which is exactly what I like to see - enthusiasm!

Once Kevin gets adopted, my time with the rescue formally comes to an end. I've written a whole "why I left" blog entry, but I don't know if I'll ever publish it. I think I wrote it so that I could work out my own conflicted feelings about everything that has transpired.  I've spent the past few weeks helping volunteers take on my old jobs. I really want the rescue to be successful even though I'm not a part of it anymore. For some reason, handing over the Facebook page was the hardest part. I worked really hard to build the page to over 4,100 fans. I actually shed a tear when I removed myself as an administrator.

Me and a foster dog named Alex,
back in the early days.
Leaving is one of the hardest things I've ever done. I truly had a passion for the rescue. 15 years is a long time. I met a lot of great people, loved a lot of dogs, shed a lot of tears, and drowned my sorrows and frustrations in more than a couple glasses of wine. I sure learned a lot - about dogs and about people, too.

What I'm asking myself now is: who am I? What is my identity now? I feel a bit lost. In time, I am sure I will connect with some other organization that could use a seasoned rescue volunteer. I still want to help dogs in some way.  I know I will not take on a major role again, but I'd be happy to be a minor player. I have learned a lot over my rescue career and I like to think maybe someone would find my skills to be of value in some way.  I need to proceed carefully, though. 

My more immediate concern is the declining condition of my boy Gideon. He has degenerative myelopathy and is slowly losing his ability to walk. He has lost weight and experiences head tremors at times. On the other hand, he still gets pretty excited at dinnertime so I won't make any decisions as long as he still has some mobility and enjoys his meals.  I know he will leave me in 2016, though. I can't think about it too much. I love that goofy dog to a degree that defies definition.

Having extra time is somewhat of an adjustment. I devoted several hours a week to the rescue. During busy periods like the annual fundraiser or the end-of-year flood of donations, I sometimes had to devote entire days to rescue work. It feels weird not to have this "aaaaah, there is surely something I should be doing" sensation all the time.

I am not one to blather on about "focusing on myself" or "nourishing my soul," but I do think this is probably a good time to tackle a couple of issues that have overtaken me. One is my sugar addiction. I know I probably shouldn't throw around the word "addiction" but I think I could at least call it a fixation. I would like to get control of it.  I haven't been going to Weight Watchers but as I understand it, they've revamped the program and the topic of sugar consumption is addressed.  I need to get myself to a meeting.  So, I would like to focus on my health and well-being a bit more than I typically do. I will stop short of making a New Year's resolution, though. That always feels like a sure way to fail.

The other fun little tidbit is that I've developed plantar fasciitis in both feet. So fun!  It took me a while to figure out what was going on. I'm turning 46 soon and I've learned that when some body part starts to hurt, there is a good chance it will just always hurt now. So, I thought maybe that was the case when I started waking up to heel pain every morning. In November, I got really sick and couldn't go to the gym for a while (I typically clock 2-3 hours a week on the elliptical plus a yoga class or two).  My feet didn't hurt as much.  Then I went back to the gym once I was better and bam! Owie feet again.  I talked to the yoga instructor and then started doing some research.  There is a lot of conflicting information out there, though. So, I made an appointment with my podiatrist (the dude who operated on my left foot last year). I couldn't get an appointment until January 21st, though, so I'll have to tread lightly until then, I guess. I hope this is something that can be fixed because I, um, anticipate a need to have feet for the next few decades until I kick the bucket.

So, there you have it.  I'm feeling like a bit of a train wreck - both emotionally and physically - but I am also feeling hopeful. On January 9th, I am getting a tattoo. Don't worry - I will show it to you whether you want to see it or not. I am very excited about the design that the artist, Tara, has created for me. It will honor my love of dogs, my 15 years of rescue work, and my beloved Giddy Giddy Gumdrops.

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