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Old El Jay

So much of my online history is contained in this journal. So many of my formitive years. Someday I'll have to go back and re-read entries and laugh about how different I was. How open and honest I was. I was such a weirdo. I still am, I guess, but things are so different now. I'm a different person. Better in some ways, worse in others, shaped by the changing current of life. I have no flipping clue where I'm going to be in 10 years. I know where I'd like to be, but things can sure change quickly. You never know what's around the corner. I feel like I'll never be prepared.

Life Update

Every entry I make here I say I need to write here more. I've made LJ a pinned tab now to encourage me. I know writing helps me, but my self-care hasn't been great lately. It got better for a while... I guess it goes in waves. I need to make a new schedule. I guess that's step #1.

Things that happened since my last entry:

- I made appointments for my tooth and for my annual check-up. I went to my dental appointment during a wind storm and the power went out so I was sent home numb. I missed my doctor appointment because of anxiety. I haven't made a follow-up for either yet. Please someone tell me how stupid it is that I haven't re-made these appointments.

- Pet care got much better. Snake respiratory infections cleared up (one was just from stuck shed on the nose).

- I had to assisst feed a boa that had a RI and hadn't eaten in many months. He struck, wrapped, and ate his next meal and I am *so* thrilled it worked. He's already looking much better.

- A snake that I sold to a neighbor escaped and ended up freezing in the wall of the cabin. I have him in my freezer now. It sucks and it's tragic, but I think I'd like to preserve him somehow.

- Our rabbit Princess Caroline had seven adorable babies with six different, totally unexpected colors/patterns! We're keeping two females, and have two females left for sale. One of the boys sold is going to be a therapy bunny at the care center, while two others went to the new art teacher's family with five kids! I love selling to pet homes because I know the animals will get more attention. We're planning on having our two hold backs in the house. While they've been growing up I've been bringing them out to see my mom.

- Jordan and I cooked tacos for my mom and family for Mother's Day. She's been sick lately and sleeping a lot. She's aware of some different mental difficulties and they're getting more noticable. I'm trying to steel myself for the future. I know it's going to get worse. I think a lot of my anxiety comes from not knowing how to deal with this. The more time I spend with her, the better. It's hard for me to see her like this so I'm always fighting an instinct to run away, but I know if I keep doing that I'll feel the guilt forever. I need to connect and cry with her, but I keep avoiding it.

- We're mostly settled into the house now, but we learned that we're only guaranteed to live here for a year. So much for setting down some roots for a while. I've decided it's not worth putting effort into the gardens, or painting and fixing the place up for that matter, so we're just putting up with the ugly until we have the opportunity to find something better (and have to move... again). Affordable housing is next to impossible to find.

- On Monday, Mom is getting a hospital bed in the living room to replace the couch she's been sleeping on. She's preferred sleeping on a couch for the last 15 years, said it's because Dad snores. She would have had her own bed and bedroom if my nephew hadn't been living with my parents the last 5 years. I'm so upset by so many things I can't change.

And that brings things pretty much up to speed. I'm still working my office job, it's going okay. I feel overwhelmed sometimes but I'm managing and trying to do better and get more done each day. I work with some really great people and I feel appreciated. Jordan and I are doing our thing, working out some issues, helping each other out and growing as a couple. We've each got our own battles, but we make sure to have fun too. I can't wait to go camping, and we're taking a trip to Chicago this summer to visit his mom and see Air in concert. I still smile a lot, though there's a lot of pain inside. I don't want to bring others down.

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Life is Overwhelming

If I could sum up my feelings the last few weeks in one word, it would be "overwhelmed." This isn't a new concept for me. I've always struggled with time management and I do things more slowly than most people, a trait I likely inherited from my mom (or at least learned by example). Unfortunately time is money, and I need more of both.

My self-care has taken a hit, though I try to keep people from knowing. Even my fiance Jordan didn't know I was missing pills and neglecting some things. I have appointments to make that I've been dragging my feet on for no particular reason other than it makes me anxious.

At the end of November I had some work done on a abscessed tooth, a back molar, and they basically opened it up and left it exposed so the infection could clear. I had a second appointment made to get a crown set for the day after Jordan and I arrived back from Chicago/MFF, but I missed it because I was tired from travel. I haven't made another, so for the last couple months I've been cleaning food out of this exposed tooth. Maybe today I'll finally make the appointment. I also have to make a doctor's appointment for an annual check-up since they won't refill my medications again until I do.

I've been neglecting some of our pets too, and nothing makes me feel more awful. I never wanted to be that person. I've had the boas on a really shitty substrate since last summer, a ground coconut fiber, and it was the consistency of dirt. I thought it would work well at first because it could hold humidity, but I ended up hating the mess and as a result I stopped taking my snakes out for interaction and exercise because the "dirt" would stick to them and get everywhere. Last night I got the last boa cage changed over to sani-chips, which I'm already much happier with and I think they are too. I have a couple respiratory infections to deal with, and if they don't clear up on their own a vet trip to Duluth will be in order.

At one point I had two full litter boxes that needed to be cleaned, which I eventually did, but not until Willow began protesting by peeing on the shower mat. I don't blame her. The rat cage needs to be cleaned again. They haven't been getting enough attention either. At least everyone has had enough food and water. The bunnies are doing great, other than Princess Caroline's frozen babies. The salamander is fine too, though I need to get some more food for him since the last of his worms are pretty much dead.

I'm doing better now than I was. I think I'm on day 5 of taking all of my pills daily which makes a huge difference (really? hurr derp). Yesterday I made a big meatloaf for my folks that was very well received; my mom's recipe. Two coyotes howled just outside after sirens went by and I caught a glimpse of one running up the hillside. There were two bald eagles hanging out up there too. I think the roosters crowing have been attracting the wildlife. I'm going to try to start going out there daily, or at least every other day. I think I'll start taking my folks' dog Sven for a walk. I haven't had much exercise at all this winter outside of moving boxes around, but I also don't have any descent winter boots. Finding plus-calf boots that are functional and fit right is difficult. I know moving more will make me feel better and be good for me though.

This entry is already much longer than I intended it to be and I haven't even touched on taxes/finances/art yet (which was my original plan), so I guess I'll leave that for later.

I'm determined to make today a good day.

*blows off a layer of dust*

Hello Livejournal, old friend.

I'm here because I need to write. Facebook isn't the right outlet, and keeping my thoughts and feelings private robs me of the comforting feeling of solidarity that comes from knowing friends and even strangers understand me and what I'm going through. I have a support system at my fingertips and that's so valuable to me. My life is chaotic right now, and writing it all out helps me organize my thoughts.

The last couple years have been a struggle, and just when things seemed to be looking up, they took another turn. We're beginning end of life care for my mom. The cancer moved from her lungs to her brain. Statistically most people diagnosed with brain cancer die within a year. Her year is up in May. She recently had CyberKnife radiation treatment and recovery has been very slow. We were told if she doesn't start to "perk up" soon, we're looking at 4 months. If she does start feeling better, possibly a year. She's received as much radiation treatment on her brain as she can. The question of quality vs. quantity came up, and Mom chose quality.

The good news is she was feeling better yesterday and today. She's not ready to give up yet.

My dad retired at 70 last October and has been taking care of Mom, who is only 66. My older sister has been a huge help too. The last couple weeks have been hard. My mom was having trouble getting up and around on her own. The doctor recommended in home hospice, but we don't have that in our community. We will be having a nurse come out for bathing/setting up pills/etc., and we're looking into borrowing a hospital bed so she doesn't have to keep sleeping on her old couch (though currently that's what she prefers).

I don't want to get into how I'm feeling and handling all of this yet, but I will in future entries.

A quick summary of my day so far:
- Visited Mom this morning since my dad was in Duluth for a check-up, helped her make coffee and breakfast.
- Worked.
- Lunch at home, checked on the rabbits to see that Princess Caroline had 4 babies but they all froze. She didn't have a very good nest and it was very cold. Instead of Jordan and I eating them, they will be boa food.
- Back to work.
- Put gas in the Pilot for the first time. Big tank, over $40. I still can't believe she's mine.
- Checked on Mom, checked on her chickens and brought two warm eggs in the house.
- Came home and booted up Livejournal.

I intend to stick around this time. I need this.

Who else is still floating around here? How are you? What's new in your life?

~Aurora

The final push - less than a week left!

I know I haven't been on LJ in a while, but this is too important not to share everywhere I can.

This is the final week of my Indiegogo campaign, and I'm excited to report that as of writing this I've made just over 50% of my goal! I think that's really amazing and "thank you" just doesn't seem to cut it anymore. I'm truly grateful for all your donations and help in spreading the word.

http://tinyurl.com/backtothenorthwoods

I don't think I'll reach my goal, but that's okay. Any amount will help. As soon as the funds arrive I will be sending at least $200 home to my folks right away.

The end of my campaign this Friday coincides with the day my mom gets tested to see if her cancer has shrunk enough to receive radiation. I sure hope so.

Your donations will allow me to fly home, ship my things and cover initial expenses. I likely won't have enough to find a place to live or get a car at first. Things are going to be difficult for a while, but I will be where I need to be, and we'll make it work.

If you know anyone who might be interested in custom animal artwork or can simply offer a helping hand, please pass them the link to my campaign. It's a small gesture that means so much to me.

Thank you all so much!

A new venture

I've been posting to this journal for 12 years. I keep trying to come back only to abandon it once more. This may be goodbye for good, but I can't say for sure.

I have a new blog now, a labor of love and source of motivation. If you'd like to keep track of me and what I'm up to, this is the place for it.

http://backtothenorthwoods.blogspot.com

Thanks for reading and being awesome friends. Lots of memories here, but it's time to make new ones!

~Aurora

A happier journal entry!

It's about time. :)

First, the snake stuff. Legacy's nose rub is healing beautifully, and her RI symptoms are letting up. She seems to be feeling much better, and I'm so relieved. After losing snakes to RI in the past I'm happy to know it's possible to beat this illness! Bacon's eye issue seems to be getting better as well. I still have three baby snakes that have not eaten their first meal and I'll be working on them tonight. If they don't take I'm going to try assist feeding. I've also only sold one baby so far and I need to get on top of advertising them asap before it gets too cold to ship many places.

I'm dreaming about farming and homesteading today. It's the biggest goal I'm working toward now, and I need to keep reminding myself that the work I'm doing now will pay off in the future. I'm going to try growing some herbs in a pot outside on the balcony this weekend. Last time I tried I don't think I watered them enough and they got crispy, even though I was following what it said on the information thinger that they stick in the pot (what are those things called, anyway?). I'm not used to growing things in this climate. Learn from mistakes and try again, right? :)

I finally got all my art information up and organized on Trello. It's a big list. https://trello.com/b/sj4MOtSA/aurora-wolf-art

I don't know if I'm going to take normal commissions for a long while, if ever again, once my backlog is complete. I'm finally figuring out how to do what I want to do as far as art goes. I realized that I jumped into this lifestyle too quickly without a strong foundation, so I'm backtracking to build that foundation before expanding into other areas. I need to focus on what's going to make the most money right now, even if it's not exactly what I most want to do. That will come in time. I'm also forcing myself to practice more backgrounds. I feel like I lost out on a lot of key artistic development when I dove into furry and started taking commissions.

I've decided to hold off on my original crowdfunding idea (the one with the nature videos) since it involved doing a lot of things I don't have much practice with. Instead I'm working on a crowdfunded art portfolio that panders to my biggest audience, as well as one that's focused on costumes and other art. As I see it, this is the only way Jordan and I are going to make enough money to move us back to MN next summer. I need to start doing all I can to make this happen.

As long as I'm making this a general update, I might as well add that I don't see myself going back to modeling any time soon, if ever. It might be time to put it in my past for good. I know that's going to disappoint some people, but I gotta do what's right for me. The itch will need to be scratched from time to time, but I'm walking a different path these days, and I finally have my priorities in order.

Hope everyone is enjoying autumn! I'm happy the temps are under 80 degrees here finally, but still super homesick for my northwoods. One day at a time!

~Aurora

This heat, ugh this heat.

It's killing me, and making me want to strangle... things.

I've been crazy busy working on a fursuit that's set to be shipped on Thursday, but it might not happen until Friday. It's been very difficult to work in the heat even with the AC on, and because we're poor I can't keep it as cool as I'd like to. I wish I had somewhere else I could go, but gotta do the best I can with what I have.

That said, I'm pleased with how it's coming along. It's my first time making a head using foam only (no balaclava underneath) and now I understand why the heads are so much bigger lol.

I've decided I won't be opening up for any more commissions until my backlog is fully complete. I've got some other personal projects that will keep me busy, but I may toss up a couple YCH auctions for income. This is starting to sound like an FA journal post. :P

Seriously missing the north shore. I haven't even put my pictures from my MN trip on FB yet and I've been back for almost a month. Everyone up north is rolling on into fall and all the fun stuff that comes with it, and I'm here baking (and not in a good way). Need to get out of this place. Los Angeles truly is hell.

Jordan and I have been arguing tonight because of the heat (and money, always money), and I always hate that. It's supposed to get hotter tomorrow, and with me stressed about the fursuit and uncomfortable from eczema flare-ups and sweating while doing nothing, well... I'm not looking forward to the next couple days.

~Aurora

Hello, September!

I'm going into work mode as if I were going back to school.I think this is a schedule I can stick to. I'll be doing multiple things daily so it's never boring - the tough part will be getting on task and staying on task during each time block. I'm determined to make it work though. I have to be.

Morning: Make/eat breakfast, check email/facebook/other Internet stuff, plan day
12:00-1:00pm: Chores
1:00-3:00pm: Fursuit work
3:00-4:00pm: 2D art catch-up
4:00-5:00pm: Lunch/personal time
6:00-7:00pm: Kickstarter work.
7:00-8:00: Novel editing.
8:00: Plan/cook supper if necessary.

Today I need to get a bunch of boxes together to go to storage so I have more room to do fursuit work. Space is so limited in this apartment. Ohh I can't wait to move! I think Jordan and I are also going to start watching Game of Thrones today. I've been meaning to for some time and everyone I've talked to says I'll like it, and I hope they're right. :)

Yesterday we spent some money we shouldn't have at Petco. We originally went just to pick up some feeder rodents to try and get my baby snakes eating again (which they refused, again, so another $20 down the drain ugh), but we also came home with a new rat cage, bedding, and a betta fish. The rat cage was a steal - normally $100 and we got it for $22. I've been looking for used ones at that price. We couldn't pass it up. The betta cost more than we originally thought ($15) but he's gorgeous. Pics below!

Betta: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152632690506866&l=d5dc2e4fd3

Rat cage: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152629434126866&l=051ac11649

So what did we do memorial weekend? Spend money on animals. :P

Feeling better.

Today will be a good day.

First, I'm going to treat myself to a little Mary Jane's Farm magazine and dream about my future hobby farm and the animals I'm going to have and the products I'm going to sell at the farmer's market (a dream I'm dead set on making a reality!).

Then I'm going to work on art - some digital sketches I owe folks.

After I get some of those done, I'm going to do some novel editing.

Tonight I'm going to upload photos from my trip to Chicago and Minnesota and start planning my crowdfunding campaign.

Yes, today will be a happy, productive day. :)