Brains and Breaks

Shawn said, “You should go down to Out of a Jam and work for a couple weeks.”

Shawn said, “You know that’s good for your brain.”

Shawn said, “You know that seeing Michael is good for you.”

Shawn said, “You could use a break.”

I said, “MEH.”

Out of a Jam Solutions in Palmer (we fix Macs)

But coming down to Palmer to work in office is always productive, and since we’re short staffed, it would be extra helpful. Sarah and Padee and Shawn could triple team the dog care. The stars aligned. We got a ticket, and I headed to Palmer.

Let’s just go back a bit.

Since the Copper Basin, depression has been kicking my butt. I am not sure why exactly. Maybe some of it is that I felt that I let the dogs down in that race, and spiraled into a cycle of self-blame and despair. Maybe some of it (probably a lot) is adjustment to new meds. Maybe some of it is just the way it is sometimes.

The Bed

But for the first time in my life, depression manifested as I AM NOT GETTING OUT OF THIS BED.

Since I work from home, I could do this. I could work from the bed (probably never a really healthy plan). I could stay there for 18, 20 hours a day, basically crawling out only to feed and play with the dogs, make myself coffee, and crawl back under the covers.

I did.

The dogs help. No wait they do not help.

I have never before experienced this type of depression. I’ve heard of it. But even in my worst times, I was always on the move. I suppose in my other worst times, I had an office to go to. Finally being settled down, and hitting my spring slump (I seem to hit a real low at the end of each mushing season, I think more because of burnout than because I’m mourning the end of the season), I got to just live in the bed.

It was strange, but I’m not going to lie, it was also in some ways great. The way self-indulgence or… Bad self care can feel sooooo good. Like. THIS MAKES ME FEEL SAFE GOOD LESS ANXIOUS SO I’M DOING THIS AND YOU CAN’T STOP ME.

Well, the bed was definitely a window to even more depression.

So Shawn, being wise, said, “Go to Palmer.”

And I did.

And I’m so very grateful about that. And I have to admit that Shawn was pretty correct (as usual).

Being down in Palmer, among friends and family– heck– among humans! Has been revolutionizing. I am more awake, more alive. I am finally feeling excited about… Anything. I had gotten to a real dark place living in that bed.

Friends! Family!

Of course I miss my dogs, but I can also tell being here, having to go to work each morning, having a routine, is really really good for my head. For my heart even.

I’m excited to get back home and start working on the millions of projects we have coming up. Summer (which is firmly here) means a lot of building. We’re trying to put up fencing, decking for the dogs, and I have a hairbrained scheme of a new way to house the dogs to give them about 4x the space to run and play on their tethers. More on that later. All of that stuff is going to be money and work and effort. I’m hoping that in part it will keep me out of the damn bed.

There will be puppies too! It seems more and more clear that Ophelia is pregnant, after a successful tryst with a rockstar neighboring sled dog from Frozen Trident Kennel. So I am going to have to get my ducks in a row and get ready for that.

Ophelia has “that glow”

Plus, Michael has given me a new computer monitor that I can connect to my laptop. You wouldn’t believe the amount of work we do on just one small screen! But having a second monitor is game changing. AND it means I’ll have to have a “workspace” that I have to get up and go to. I’m really really hopeful this will trick me into getting out of that damn bed.

It’s tough, with depression. The things that will help you are the very things depression robs you of. Such a bastard disease. When I really have to do it, I will do it, but when it’s just me, it can be really hard to motivate myself.

I have been thinking about motivation a lot lately. I have a lot of goals I want to reach for, both with the dog team and myself. There are benchmarks I *need* to hit in order to have a successful Iditarod in 2021. Sometimes, thinking about crossing that finish line in Nome is a strong driving force for me– But most times that seems so distant and unfathomable, I can’t really draw much energy from it, believe it or not.

What gives you motivation? Or on those days when the well of motivation seems beyond empty, what do you do? How do you keep onward? I’d love to hear. There are a lot of amazing, strong folks who do us the honor of following our journey. A lot of collective wisdom here.

Anyway, rambling aside. This working vacation, being down in Palmer, going into the office day after day, visiting humans, getting things done, has been huge for me. I hope I can carry some of this movement and energy into my return home. I hope that will push me towards getting all the things done we need to get done before winter is here. That’s how mushing works, it’s never a moment of downtime! Haha.

So speaking of all of those projects, we’re gonna be fundraising all summer– sorry if you’ve already been hit over the head with this. Besides saving up for our giant fall supply purchase, where we get straw and meat and dog food for the racing season, I have some ambitious building plans for this summer. One of the main ones is my scheme to build a system where each dog has maximum space to run. I’ll be sharing more about that soon. I’ve been running costs, and it is going to be expensive. But, I think it will provide the dogs with the absolute best wellness and safe, clean housing, and as I told Shawn, if that means we don’t get to enter races next year, so be it. Racing is fun and awesome and gets us all training, but the health and wellness of the dogs are absolutely the first priority. Anyway, if you wanted to contribute towards that project or towards our fundraising for next season, you can do so here:

ATAO 2019/2020 Race Prep

$10,021 of $10,000 raised

Wow… All we can say is thank you, so much, for making this season possible. With your help we were able to buy needed equipment, purchase delicious kibble and meat to power the team for hundreds of miles, pay for entry fees, and much more.

You have helped set us up for two kickass mid distance races this season. We can’t wait to show you how it’s all paid off.

There are always other last minute expenditures- We gladly welcome donations towards the races as we get closer to the finish lines. Funds now go towards a buffer for unforeseen “adventures” (please let those not involve porcupines… And after that, making the spring a great learning experience for the team, with more leader training, more camp outs, and more fun.

If you want to make a monthly contribution to the journey, check out our Patreon page! There you can join the ATAO team and Be a Buddy, too.

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Donation Total: $10.00

As always– one way or another– even if you get held up by depression or obstacles or whatever– we find a way to go Onward.

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