I guess it has been a while since I posted! This hasn't been because I haven't been wanting to blog, but more because my computer has been slow as molasses, to the point where writing a blog entry would take me three hours and give me a huge headache. I've cleaned it out a little so it is somewhat faster now!
So! I have been here for a whole month now! It is going well. Lily has adapted wonderfully to her new life here. I was so worried that she would be unhappy and homesick... but she loves Auntie Em and Uncle J and the dog Roo (although she still barks at my cousin BT and the cats) and she really enjoys our daily hikes. She really keeps up with the big dogs, and has gotten enough confidence in herself as a dog that she can climb up and jump from small stumps and cross the little foot bridges she used to be afraid of! I'm proud of her. I even let her go off leash on her hikes now, and she stays right on the trail in front of me like a perfect little dog. I don't worry about her wandering off and getting eaten by a cougar anymore. Also my aunt and uncle swear there aren't any cougars in this particular area. So that is good.
As for me, I am mostly happy, but somewhat homesick. I miss my parents and Trixie and my other family members from Chicago. I also miss my room and my daily routines there. I feel at home here at my aunt and uncle's house, but it is sort of a weird effect... like I changed the channel on the TV show of my life. Sometimes I look around and think, "Wow, I actually did it, I made it! I moved out here and I live in the Northwest now! This is great!" But then I get a picture in my mind of my house in Chicago, the familiar areas like my bedroom and the basement and the kitchen. Or I'll be out running an errand with Auntie Em, and I'll get a flashback of myself running almost the exact same errand with my mom... like grocery shopping or going to Kohl's. And I get this panicky sort of feeling, like I have lost something that was important to me.
I want to be here. This is a better environment for me in a lot of ways. I can be more relaxed, be myself, and not always have to worry about some stupid mistake getting me in trouble, like hanging a towel up crooked in the bathroom or something. That sort of thing is fine here, and I am not the only one who isn't completely organized and streamlined! And the people I have met here so far (mostly the people from the drop-in center and my aunt and uncle's dog walking group) are nice and accepting and do not give me a weird look at all.
But I also miss home! In some ways, this still feels like a vacation that just keeps going and going. It still feels unreal that I have left Chicago behind permanently.
Last week I started subbing out here. It is okay I guess. I don't really like subbing in general. I always feel a little unsure of myself... it is like a first day of work every day, but people expect you to somehow know exactly what to do because you're a sub... as if, in every classroom at every school you've subbed at, things must be exactly the same, so therefore you should already know how to run or assist in this particular classroom.
I feel like the perfect job for me would be something that I could do completely independently, maybe while working at home, so I wouldn't have to deal with the anxiety of dealing with people's opinions of me. But that probably would be hard to find!
I found a cool drop-in center for people with mental health conditions. They have activities during the day, like support group meetings and classes. You can also go there just to hang out, if you want. So far I have only gone to the Creative Journaling group. Sometimes I am working on the other days, but luckily I haven't had to work on the Creative Journaling days.
I also got to volunteer at a sanctuary farm! It is a place where they rescue abused farm animals and let them live safely and healthily for the rest of their lives. Every two weeks they have "work parties" so volunteers can come help. I got to muck the barn (which I had learned to do in Chicago in equine therapy) and spread new hay on the ground. After working for two hours, you get to spend time with the animals. I didn't think to have anyone take a picture of me with some animals... I will do that next time!
In the mean time, here are a few more hiking pictures of me and Lily!