Posts Tagged ‘Zefir’

So much has changed in my life recently! Or if it hasn’t changed yet, it has recently gained large potential for a near-future change.

1. I cut back my work hours at the hospital.

This was a really hard choice. One one hand I was spending 40 hours/week at work and only 10 hours (or less) on school. I was making it, but since the discovery that I really love grad school and love what I am doing, I want to get the most out of the experience and that wasn’t happening with all the work I was doing. My supervisor was really good about the decision and I am down to 24 hrs/week starting next week!

I tend to count my worth by how many hours of work I do in a given week (and I typically don’t count school work) so I equated cutting back work hours with being a failure at life. And there are always financial considerations–but the job really didn’t make a huge difference there. I already had to take out some student loans to cover tuition because I didn’t earn enough for that in addition to my living expenses. (yes, considering the job requires absolutely no degree, it pays decently, but I could get a better paying job that better utilizes my knowledge) Now the job will cover living expenses and that’s it.

And although I love my job, it is physically and emotionally demanding. Even with a healthy degree of separation from the patients (which happens to be one of my few talents), psychiatric work takes a toll on a person. Although I never take the beatings (verbal or physical) personally, one can only take so much abuse. After a while of cursing, and accusations, and manipulations, and altered perceptions, and hitting, and biting, it becomes rather difficult for me to bite my tongue and turn the other cheek. And yet, I have to. Plus, working with people who are also medically sick means I have to put forth quite a bit of physical effort and that is not ideal at this time either.

Basically some work=good for keeping a healthy balance with school. Too little work=an unhealthy obsession with school. Too much work=way too much stress.

2. I was invited for a medical school interview at the university I am currently attending.

Not much to say about that. It’s a good thing. It’s happening at the end of October.

3. I am in conversation with a research team about a different job.

With a psychiatric researcher with a lot of neat projects going on.

The initial offer was hourly (read: no benefits) so my initial desire was to just pick up some hours in addition to my hospital work. But it’s possible that it could be made into a graduate assistantship….which means it could include benefits and a tuition scholarship. I’m meeting with the research team Thursday. Stay tuned.

Oh, and at the end of the email she wrote “with your background and experience we would love to have you involved.” A compliment! It did make me rather happy.

In other news:

I have cut back on exercise. I am dealing with it moderately well, Zephyr is not. He is becoming neurotic. He has always had this obsession with lights (and I mean that in clinical, not colloquial terms). Every shadow or ray of sunlight prompts him into his “light hunting” stance and he stares at it intently and then dances around pouncing on it, wiggling his tail, and sometimes escalating into barking. Within the past week it has become unbearable. I can’t open a three-ring binder, turn a lamp on, read my book before bed, open the door to an unlit room, keep the blinds open at night, keep the blinds open during the day….and more. Last night I completely darkened my room, with the blackout curtains I use to sleep after night shifts, and he was still up until 3 ┬ádancing around on the bed chasing some invisible light on the wall. He awoke at 6:30 to start it again and is still at it 3 hours later. This means I got 3 1/2 hours of sleep. And I seriously want to strangle the dog…but I can’t, because I know it’s not his fault. It’s definitely gotten worse since he’s getting less exercise with me. So I have a few things to work on here. I need to wear him down somehow: whether it is running with him (despite the ban from my therapist), making frequent trips to the grassy space outside for tennis balls and frisbees, or going to the dog park. I need to get him some more mental stimulation–with all the work I’ve been doing this has fallen by the wayside and I will start scheduling training in our days. And we just need to deal with the anxiety issues more.

I am still freaking out about weight.

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A while back I posted on my personification of Zefir. Since then I have been observing my interactions with him.

I do find myself innately rewarding behaviors I want, which includes behaviors that are ‘human-like’ and amuse me. The fact that I find myself doing this without thinking speaks to my growth as a trainer. Timing rewards, choosing rewards, timing removal of a gratifying object/action, is no longer a huge brain drain. Now that I’ve realized how far I’ve come with this I’m very excited at how much easier it will become to improve even more. Now all the brain matter that was focused on getting the reward x-units-close to the perfect moment can be focused on getting my rewards x-1-units close, then x-2-units close…etc.

But onto Zef. I think that all personification is not bad. When discussing animal behavior with others being able to describe a behavior in human terms can make communication faster and more clear. What we need to be aware of is that we don’t assume that using human terms to describe behavior automatically means that there is a human motives behind the behavior. Are dogs capable of human motives? Perhaps, but that is a different discussion which I shall save for later.

It all comes down to awareness and mindfulness. And not making assumptions beyond what is explicitly stated.

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Personification: A figure of speech in which inanimate objects or abstractions are endowed with human qualities or are represented as possessing human form

I find myself doing this a lot with Zefir. I see human actions and motives in many things that he does. And while describing what he does as I might describe a human doing something similar makes talking with others easier, I do sometimes find it ridiculous. Personifying Zefir’s actions seems to me only a few small steps away from dressing him in clothes and cooking him food every night. So I find myself questioning the reasons I personify Zef.

One explanation is simply that I see things he does and because I am a human I relate to it in a human manner and assume his motives for a particular behavior are the same as my [human] motives would be.

Another explanation would be that I am somehow encouraging and rewarding times when his behavior is particularly human-like. I do laugh at him when he mimics something I do, that could be rewarding. Perhaps it’s something even more subtle–do I perhaps pet him more, or directly talk to him more when he is acting in a way that I find particularly human-esque?

I am going to observe both Zefir’s behaviors and my responses to them over the next few weeks in an attempt to tease apart this complex web of behaviors, responses, and motives.

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Things that make me happy…

This morning it was running with Zefir and having coffee.

In general…

Running. Coffee. Reading the NY Times. Finishing a crossword puzzle. Finishing the NYT crossword (achieved today in 50 min…I’m improving). Sun. NPR. Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! This American Life. A Prairie Home Companion. Beautiful photography. The amazing feeling when I am completely one with my flute. Cleaning. Laundry fresh and warm from the dryer. New snowfall. Newborn lambs. Watching a lamb struggle to stand and walk for the first time. Teaching a newborn bottle lamb to suck. The face of a dairy cow. Unpasteurized, fresh milk from the bulk tank. Freshly picked fruits and vegetables still warm from the summer sun. The chill in the air on early summer mornings as the sun is rising. My favorite ewe, “Dawn”. Leading a dairy cow who is hundreds of times stronger than I am but still goes where I want her to go. Sleeping on central campus and hearing the campanile in that void between sleep and wakefulness. Napping outside under the sun with a light breeze. Non-fiction books. The sheer strength of large livestock. Sleeping on the living room floor in the sun. My sweet girl, Ziggy.

The tiny-ness of me in this immense world.

When he calls me “pretty lady” every time I answer his phone calls. His no-nonsense responses to my nonsensical complaints. His warm feet against my so very cold ones. Having long theoretical and intellectual conversations. The fact that we [creepily] have the same birthday, the same major, and for some reason keep ending up with the same lesson time. How he is the one who always calls me. Having conversations about kids or other things that could potentially be very awkward with a significant other. When he just holds me.

Playing in the snow with Zef. Zefir’s adorable snores. Waking up with Zef sleeping sprawled across me (until the pain sets in). Zefir’s fuzzy ears. Watching Zef get angry at the hair dryer. His complete obsession with water. Zef’s happy dances when he gets a new rawhide. His funny way of inviting me to play with his toys. His love of yogurt and yogurt containers. (I think he likes yogurt more than I do…and I LOVE yogurt). The way he sits so perfectly straight up in the passenger seat of the car. When he falls asleep on long car rides and lies in awkward positions so he can touch me. On long drives when we slow down through a town and he drowsily opens his eyes and looks to me to see if he should completely wake up–it’s the same thing I did when I was a young child.

His infinite joy in life.

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