Abraham Lincoln's Lasting Legacy

To be honest, Abe

On this day, over TWO CENTURIES AGO, an incredible man was born. Ok, no. It was a baby. A baby was born. But that baby turned into the greatest president this country has ever had, despite his “melancholic personality.” It should’ve, and could’ve, slowed him down, but he accomplished so much while dealing with mental health concerns. 

What we can learn from Lincoln

Across the span of many years and endless responsibilities, Lincoln faced real anxieties like the rest of us: about love and failure and the future. I think there’s hope in that for two big reasons:

1. Your sadness and anxiety don’t define you

What does define you is the progress you make every day, big or small. What defines you is how you treat those around you. I don’t know if his respect for deep conversation and intelligence played a role in his sadness… if maybe he knew too much and saw too much that couldn’t be fixed? Or maybe he was born that way and the loss of dear family members, like his son, amplified it. Regardless, Lincoln did all he could to right the wrongs he saw. And he didn’t let the endless problems in his country and life take him down. If he can do it, we can do the same. We can work hard on whatever small differences we can make.

2. You can still get sh*t done

His ambitions were impressive. And he accomplished much in his time, more than he ever dreamed of, but it didn’t satisfy him. Lincoln was quoted as saying “being elected to Congress, though I am very grateful to our friends, for having done it, has not pleased me as much as I expected.” If that’s not relatable to this day, what is? Having a goal breathes life into our everyday actions, but sometimes they serve as just a distraction from the pain no one can see. To his credit, he kept on. He worked, he didn’t wallow. He fought for equity and peace for everyone in the Union.

Abe Lincoln was a big man. An impressive man. A man history has and (hopefully) will always respect and honor with the highest regards. But he’s just a man. And I’m just a woman. And we’re all out here with our quirks, making a difference with our existence.

Happy birthday, Abe Lincoln. And thank you for inspiring my life.

tips for adopting a rescue pet

5 tips for the first month of adopting a rescue pet

Make sure you don’t put too much on your new pet by reading these straightforward tips that’ll help you mend the heart of your new pal.

1. Be patient

Wanna grab and cuddle your new cat? Don’t get mad when it attacks. Or do get mad, but keep it to yourself because this isn’t just your home anymore. You’re sharing the space and making it feel safe for any and all inhabitants.

You’re going to have to put food and drinks away, or keep an eye on them lest your pet dig it’s nose/paws in it. It’s an annoying, quick adjustment. And it’s not the end of the world if you forgetas long as you know what your pet is allergic to so that nothing you leave out can potentially harm them. Or, hey, just be cleaner.

2. Let them explore

This one is a constant. But especially the first month or so. Let your pet see every corner of the apartment to cure their curiosity. (Note though, that if you’ve got a cat, it’ll never be cured. It’ll touch everything all the time and that’s just fine. It makes them fulfilled in their daily cat lives, so try not to get frustrated when you open the fridge and the cat jumps in, or when you try to wash your hands and the cat jumps in the sink. It’s cute. Just remember it’s cute, and you’re lucky to have them. And you don’t know their past so make their present as amazing as possible and let them. Just let them.)

Another note: This “let them” is advice from hours of research on training a cat—I don’t recommend this approach for dogs. I will also say that I had to get to know my cat‘s personal habits in order to meet him halfway, and each cat is different. Some constants though: I make sure my cat doesn’t jump in the oven or sleep in my room—after weeks of no-sleep, I realized that we needed some boundaries for my own health—but I’ve adjusted to the fact that he’s going to jump on my bookshelves and that’s how cats are. To have a loving relationship, you can’t punish your pet for habits it formed at birth or during it’s years before you.

A final note on this: I got my cat at nearly 4. If you’ve adopted a kitten, you may have more luck showing them places you would not like them to go. This guy is a great resource for cat troubles. 

3. Have the essentials

Make sure you’ve got the essentials before you bring your pet home, and then see how he’s adjusting before deciding if you need to get anything more.

We’re talking:

  • Food and water bowls
  • A collar and leash/harness
  • A place, or plan in place, for bathroom times
  • Toys
  • Breakable or harmful items out of the way (at least in the adjustment period)
  • A cat tree or box ready to make your cat comfortable (highly recommend)

4. Give it time

Time plays a key factor. You may expect things to be perfect right away and your life to go on normally, but the blessings of having a pet also come with some trials. There may be vomit when changing food brands, bathroom messes, a new routine for you to remember to clean and play with your new friend every day.

DO NOT buy a pet and neglect it. If you’ve got time to read this post, you’ve got time to go wave a feather in front of your cat.

5. Watch your mood improve

My cat watches me wade through important papers. When I’m done and have them neatly sorted, he hops onto the stack, kicks each paper off the counter one by one, and stares at me for a reaction. I’ve since put my important paperwork in drawers.

I’ve endured various escape attempts by my hamster and cat. The most notable is my hamster Abe breaking out of her cage to play tag with my cat. I’ve mediated far too many Tom- and Jerry-like chases.

I went on my first road trip with a cat, and Franklin broke out of his overpriced kennel (designed for his comfort, like the spoiled boy he is). He sat on my feet while I was driving on the interstate. We had to make an emergency stop, buy a more secure/less luxurious kennel, and make the arduous drive home while his wail filled the car. (So dramatic, he is. He’s definitely my cat.)

But, really, everything is better. I’m learning patience, cleanliness, compassion, care… I love being at home—more than the usual amount, which is saying something because I love home. I love cuddles and his indignant meows when I haven’t read his mind about something he wants. I love the slow close of his eyes after a play session. I love going to bed knowing that I have a constant companion. I love that my cat knows when it’s morning and sits by my door patiently, ready for morning snuggles.

To be honest, new pet owners, by the time you think back on how much effort it’s taken, you’ll be so in love with your pet that you don’t even remember the struggle.

girl with hamster and cat

Me at 23: Thankful and just in time for 2019

Last month I turned a new leaf. I mean, a new year. I turned older. I am old now. And that means I actually pay attention to and appreciate the things around me. You know, unlike when I was in college and had no comprehension of people outside of my friend group and my personal problems.

Lately, I’ve been waking up in awe (and honestly sometimes crabby because mornings are THE WORST). I mean, this is in the midst of my two best work buddies/mentors leaving the company I work for, student loans kicking in, cat behavioral problems, and my car having transmission problems.

Then I realized:

  • My cat attacks me, but he also runs to the door when I get home, cuddles me while I read, and brings my apartment to life.
  • My lovely work friends left, but how lucky am I to have two amazing women to look up to? To have been able to work with them in the first place?
  • I don’t have the luxury of living across the hall from my friends anymore, but how great is it to have girlfriends who make me go out dancing with them because they miss seeing me?
  • I’m so blessed to have parents who are able, and willing, to help me with my finances and car troubles. (Along with traveling to my apartment and letting me play mini-adult for the holidays.)
  • I barely get to see my brother once a year, but he made plans for me to visit him in New York and I am so fortunate to have that relationship. 

Thanksgiving and Christmas are gone, and the leftovers probably are too, but every day is still a new day to gobble up gratefulness.

Stop and smell the flowers (or the snow) and decide to make tomorrow and this next year the best one yet.

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I adopted a cat

I thought said cat would be my best friend. I’ve never had a cat before. It’s been interesting. 

The adoption guy said this cat was going to be a lot of work and not good for first-time cat owners. I said no problem. 

Some problems include: Murderous scratching while I sleep or walk or breath, murder attempts directed at my hamster, and tearing sheets.

I remember when I first got Abe Lincoln (my female hamster). I was going through a bad breakup and was pretty depressed so I bought the little thing to cheer me up. The first time I interacted with her, she bit me and I just cried and cried because I thought no one could love me.

Well, I’m happy to say these circumstances are very different. I know I’m lovable and I have a lot of love and I wanted to share that love with a shelter cat. I’m just not sure if Franklin (the cat) wants to be loved, is the thing.

Anyway, this time around in the new-pet process, I have to hide Abe away in a closet to keep her safe. But, on the bright side, Franklin is house-trained and teaching me to lighten up (as I’ve weaned off my meds, my anxiety has increased). I won’t say that having this destructive cat around is soothing yet, but in a way he’s teaching me to not be so uptight and that I can’t be in control of everything.

I don’t know how to pet parent. My arms are covered in scratches and my search history is full of articles and videos to help me raise this cat. He can be aggressive and I can’t tell if he likes rough play or if it’s from a dark past. 

Tonight, I’ll be sleeping in the living room and bringing Abe out for a safe sleepover and a chance to run around in her ball. Tomorrow, who knows.

I love my little zoo family.

 

 

hamilton-mn-orpheum

Crossing it off the bucket list

Let’s go back about two years to when I heard a song called “Satisfied”. Granted, I heard the Sia/Miguel mix-tape version first, but when I heard that song I fell in love. I loved the story it managed to tell in five minutes. I loved the lyrics and the pace.

I then found the Hamilton soundtrack and fell in love faster than a marble rolling down a slanted table. 

I had to see Hamilton

But I found out it costs five-thousand-million dollars to see on Broadway. Dreams crushed. Maybe after 20 years and a few promotions/CEO positions, I could go see it.

Then I found out a traveling group was coming to Minneapolis. And that you had to be a member of the theatre and pay a certain amount to MAYBE get a change to MAYBE get tickets. So after a roller coaster of emotions, I accepted that maybe it was never meant to be.

Then, a year later, I realized it’d been changed and that all I had to do is make an account and enter into a lottery!

Dramatic and long story short, I managed to buy tickets that did not cost five-thousand-million dollars.

I got to see Hamilton

Sometimes, people set their hopes too high when it comes to lifelong dreams. Like seeing a celebrity or going on a cruise or going to Disney World and thinking it’ll be the greatest time of their life… only to find the celebrity sucks or they get seasick or blisters cover their feet. For me, though, Hamilton was everything I dreamed and more. The music and dancing and story. It was the best night from beginning to end—from the Hamilton Edition Champagne to hearing my favorite song live.

This is what it means to live: Don’t wait until you’re richer or smarter or older or hotter, work towards something and then look forward to it. When it’s over, cherish the memory.

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funny children drawing

How do you handle the past?

A few months back my parents sold my childhood home, and this past Christmas break is the longest stretch I’ve had to reflect and refocus for quite some time. It got me thinking about the moving process, of what we gather throughout our lives and what we leave behind:

  • People: whether we want it to or not, big moves can cut ties with those we’ve known all our lives. You know the ones: you aren’t best friends anymore but you like knowing they live a block away and that on Sundays you’ll sit behind the same family in church. These people are your constants. They make up your life and help build your world. Moving provides a chance to choose who you keep in your life on your journey. Moving provides a chance to look back and appreciate, or move on, from the company you once kept.
  • Toys/ideas: seeing the old dolls I took to the pool on sunny days with grandma, and holding old books with pages worn, almost brought me back to how I felt then. The innocence and curiosity in the games I played and stories I read. The ginormous bubble of excitement that only a child can feel by spending a perfect day with people they love. The whole world was massive and exciting and somehow very, very simple.
  • Then there are connections between toys, people, and ideas. Such as this sticky frog that lived on our ceiling ever since Kindergarten. Taking that little thing down last year brought a wave of emotions as things I hadn’t thought about in a while flooded back. Like the idea of innocent first love. Of countless Mario Kart 64 races and chucking cherries at each other in the backyard. Of simplicity and hope and all the things you carry around as a child before the world takes them from you.

All of these ideas stretched before me like a timeline of my life. These memories and objects are proof that I existed at all.

Even though life is more confusing now, there was a time when it all made sense. And I know that there will be glimpses of that childlike excitement again. Maybe not the excitement of my first crush, but the excitement of having money to take care of myself and the excitement of finding another soul that understands mine wholly.

Isn’t that thrilling and terrifying, but mostly thrilling?

My processing of the past makes me wonder about all of you: do you try to recall memories or ignore them? I find I don’t realize when the past is holding me back, and I’d like to stretch you to think about how you handle memories: suppression or expression or… any other way?