This last week has been my first week of really having my own *kennel* with more than two dogs. In a lot of ways, I slot back into the routines of handling with ease. And in other ways– This is a totally new world for me. I expected that. I expected that I would feel a lot more anxiety about everything, worrying that I’m doing it right, and a lot more investment. What I didn’t expect was to gain this sudden understanding of every musher I’ve worked for over the last 17 years– In exactly how ADD, obsessed, demanding, and fixated they can be. And I have just begun. I’m only dealing with a few puppies. But this mode is totally different.

When I handled, I worked hard. And I also did some things to make sure I was at ease– I listened to music, I had a routine of some kind of food, or reading, or something at the beginning or the end of the day. I would try to talk to mushers about anything other than mushing, and it would usually miserably fail.

I didn’t understand that fixation, really. But I’m getting the faintest inkling.

This ownership, this autonomy, is so important to me. I feel simultaneously terrified and utterly fulfilled. I am where I’m supposed to be, and it’s the scariest and best thing that’s ever happened to me. And I don’t even give a second thought to what’s plugged into my ears, or if I had breakfast. Okay, well, that one– I do– cuz, self care is a good thing when you are coping with mental health issues– but when I wake up, breakfast isn’t what I’m thinking of. And when I go to bed, I don’t care about the million banalities on Facebook (sorry, of course none of YOU are banal, but the world– it kind of is). Mostly I’m spending my brain power on the next step for the dogs.

My dad once said the best thing you can do when you are sad is to work. Work takes your mind off your sadness– or if nothing else, it gives your hands something to do.

So what do you do when you have clinical depression, and sad is a thing that lives in your bones?

Work, damnit.

It’s not a cure. There is no cure! It’s always learning to sit with it, as my therapist would say.

But I feel my depression and I do so much better when we’re accomplishing something. And that something seems so much more present when it involves the reward of a happy face and a wagging tail. And there is a moment of clear peace when all that work adds up to silent winter skies and the shushing of runners on snow.

Basically, I don’t have time to wallow right now. And it’s so great.

But wait. This wasn’t supposed to be about that– I totally went off on a tangent. This is supposed to be about a tee shirt!

Cuz we made tee shirts! Look! Aren’t these the cutest pictures you’ve ever seen? Ridiculous. So, you can get one! If you want. Click the picture below to link to the shirt! There will be some more cost effective shirts later one when I do one color and/or one sided prints, but I really loved this little design and it is done, so I am putting it out there. Shawn starts their career modeling (with success, I think!). You can get a shirt that says what I look for in a dog (or at least have habitually acquired so far).