Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Even More Things I've Done (with Endurance!)

I'm beginning to feel redundant with blog titles. Anywho, I'm working on a series to remind myself I'm awesome. Because sometimes I like to compare myself with others and then I feel crappy about it. So instead I made a list of things I should be proud of.  If you'd like to catch up, you can read 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, and 16. Today's entry is continuing on the theme of endurance.

17. Enrolled in a Graduate Degree Program
     I was always one of those kids that loved school and loved learning. I’m certain it’s at least partially due to the fact that academics generally came easily to me. However, I always remember having a difficulty in finding a focus: a particular subject that was easiest, or that I enjoyed more, or something I felt more passionate about. I remember taking a vocational assessment given to me by my high school guidance counselor that displayed results in a bar chart. I remember mine coming out flat- I apparently was equally well suited for all professions.
     I really loved my AP Psychology class my senior year of high school and simply chose that as my major. I spontaneously picked Neuroscience as a minor after my friend’s roommate implied I was too ditzy to complete it. I generally saw myself going on to pursue an advanced degree following earning my bachelor’s, but again found myself in the same position as high school. I enjoyed all my classes, but didn’t particularly feel a calling in any one direction.
     It took me nearly 5 years to decide to pursue a Masters in Library & Information Science. I was talking to a friend (who is a librarian) about feeling sort of directionless and interested in many different things when she observed that the latter quality makes for a good reference librarian. I had previously considered Library Science simply because I’ve always enjoyed libraries; my grandmother was a librarian and I had long admired her for returning to school not just to go to college but to earn a Masters degree after having 4 children.
     Once I made up my mind, it all happened very fast. I contacted some former professors for references. I applied to my first choice, and was in the process of applying to my second when my acceptance arrived. The whole process took less than 6 months (partially because I had taken my GRE’s less than a year after graduating). I’m now just over a year into classes, and I can definitely say it was the right choice.

18. Competed for two years on my high school track team
…despite coming in last place every meet that entire time.
     When I decided to join the track team, the only thing I knew was that I didn’t want to do distance. In fact, I hardly liked running at all, so I decided to be a jumper. I competed in the long and triple jump, but avoided the high jump because I didn’t want to break my neck.
     I’m not fast. Never have been, never will be. What I do have, is endurance. Unfortunately, this is pretty much the opposite combination of skills needed to win at long and triple jump—speed is important, endurance not so much. However, I stuck in there, and even went a second year. If I could do high school over (which I’m actually glad we can’t because uuugggh), I would definitely still join the track team because I was in the best shape of my life…but I would pick a distance event.

19. Quit Smoking
     I quit smoking 15 months ago. I can’t say I’ve been entirely “cigarette free” during that same time period, but I haven’t bought a pack of cigarettes and haven’t actually picked it back up, despite one or two (or three or four) social cigarettes.
     The odd thing about quitting smoking is that the first few weeks weren’t that bad. I had been sick and sort of stopped for a few days, and when I realized that I figured I might as well just quit. I was then visiting Connecticut, including seeing my sister and her new baby, and figured it was as good a time as any. Those first few weeks went so smoothly, out of my routine and around all non-smokers that I wasn’t prepared for cravings once I was back home, in routine, and around smokers again. However, I stuck with it, and now here I am, a non-smoker!

20. Adopted 3 dogs from the shelter
I bet you a dollar you can't tell which dog is blind.

     I grew up with cats, and always firmly identified as a “cat person”. My husband, unfortunately, is super allergic and so I agreed to at least try out owning a dog. Probably one of the top 5 best decisions I’ve ever made.
     The first dog we adopted from the shelter was Frida. Frida, the Boston Terrier. Frida, who still had her cone on from having one of her eyes removed. Frida, who had cataracts in her other eye and was nearly blind.
     There were a few natural challenges in training Frida. She would hardly eat the first few days and weeks, which was very stressful. But overall, she was an easy dog. She already knew “sit” and I managed to teach her “down” fairly easily. She was well-behaved, house trained, and basically a dream first dog.
     Then we adopted Zelda, a French Bulldog. She wasn’t housetrained, and naturally a little more stubborn about things than Frida, but the transition from a 1 dog to a 2 dog household was pretty seamless.
     And then I fell in love with Mona. Mona, a Pug. Mona, who was being fostered by my sister-in-law. Mona, who had been in a puppy mill. Mona, who had been crated nearly all of her 3 years.
     After introducing her to Frida and Zelda with positive results, we took her into our home. We knew she was going to be more of a challenge than our previous adoptions, but even still were not prepared for how difficult it was. There were times it felt like nothing we were doing were working. There were times each of us considered whether or not she would be able to stay with us, whether we would ever be able to house train her, whether her neurotic tendencies would ever quiet down.
     We eventually hired a personal dog trainer to come over and train us to better manage things, which was life saving. It was reassuring to hear that we weren’t total screw-ups when it came to dog ownership and that based on her first 3 years of life, it was normal for her training to take longer than it did with our previous dogs. We learned some new tools that weren’t just helpful for Mona but for all dogs. (A small misbehavior that can be easily ignored with 1 dog is magnified about 100 times with 3 dogs.) Our dogs have bonded, and I can’t even imagine not having Mona (or Zelda, or Frida) as part of our family.

No comments:

Post a Comment