Posted in Wagging Through Life Blogs

What It Means To: Take a Break From Blogging

WELCOME BACK, READERS OF SIT, STAY, & BLOG! 🙂

If you’re new, have no fear!  It’s been so long since my last post that I, too, almost feel new!  When I logged  into my blog site, it was ironic that my last [unfinished] draft was entitled, “What It Means To:  Start a New Semester.”  Since you’ve heard from me, I’ve been through roughly 16 tiresome, yet eventful and fulfilling weeks that comprised my fifth semester in graduate school!  Truth be told, I’ve gotten a lot of questions in the past few weeks like “When are you going to post on your blog again?” or received comments like “Hey, it’s been a while since you’ve posted.”  To that I attest:  Guilty as charged!  I admit I neglected my passion for Sit, Stay, & Blog for far longer than I anticipated, but I am fully satisfied with my decision to take a break from blogging and focus on my studies and my need for self-care.  I utilized my time away to read other peoples’ blogs, gain ideas for future blog posts, and develop strategies to network with others to create meaningful content for my readers.  Doing so allowed me to fine-tune my vision for Sit, Stay, & Blog and the type of content I want to create.

With all of that in mind, I wanted to create this casual blog post to bring my readers up-to-date with what I’ve been up to for the last 16 weeks and where I envision myself and Sit, Stay, & Blog to be in the upcoming months!  Enjoy! 🙂


With regard to my graduate student life, I have been incredibly busy fulfilling my semester duties, working to advance my career, and becoming immersed in real-world clinical work.  As such, I have:

  • Presented research at 2 Statewide Conferences and 1 National ConferenceNew Jersey Counseling Association Conference 2018 (4)
  • Attended and presented at the 2018 American Counseling Association Conference in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Received the 2018  Mary Lou Ramsey Graduate Student Award
  • Spoken about about Animal-Assisted Therapy at my University’s induction ceremony for Chi Sigma Iota:  The International Honor Society in Counseling
  • Written 20 academic papers
    • That’s 132 pages and 29,168 words total!
  • Completed 365 out of 600 required clinical internship hours
  • Completed 9 credits toward my 60-credit master’s degree
  • Registered for two required licensure exams
  • Started both of my summer courses

Life for me doesn’t stop as a graduate student!  I’ve also maintained my status as a volunteer at Susquehanna Service Dogs through:

  • Working to generate continued interest in a Campus Puppy Raising Club at my undergraduate institution
  • Creating and writing up a formal club proposal and club constitution to be submitted to my undergraduate university
  • Being granted “unofficial club status” at my undergraduate institution which will (fingers crossed) be designated as “official” in Fall 2018.
  • Working with fellow club members to raise over $1,000 for Susquehanna Service Dogs
  • Participating in the 2018 Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community
  • Creating a Campus Puppy Raising Program guide to be distributed to university personnel for their review and reference when considering college student puppy raising

Of course, I would be a hypocrite if I neglected to incorporate some self-care activities, especially considering the content of my last blog post!  As such, I have:

  • Read 4 books
    1.  Blackout Girl:  Growing Up and Drying Out in America – Jennifer Storm
    2.  Leave the Light On:  A Memoir of Recovery and Self-Discovery – Jennifer Storm
    3.  Picking Up the Pieces Without Picking Up – Jennifer Storm
    4.  Weekends with Daisy – Sharron Kahn Luttrell

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  • Finished four seasons of Friends (I’m now contemplating my judgment for not introducing this show into my life sooner!)
  • Took Pinella on countless walks and enjoyed Friday afternoon naps together
  • Visited family back home and spent time snuggling up with my precious childhood puppy, Maggie (see adorable photos of Maggie below!)
  • Trained for a 10K
  • Completed my first 2 5Ks of 2018 with Pinella and Alex

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In addition to my (hopefully) weekly blog post schedule, here’s what else I’ll be up to throughout the remainder of the year:

  • Apply for and work through my Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy Certification
  • Complete the remainder of my internship hours
  • Work on a journal publication for the research I have presented
  • Muddle through my thoughts about how to start my book-writing journey
  • Start a new research project
  • Conquer upcoming 5Ks and continue my training to (hopefully) prep for an October half-marathon
  • Take my Comprehensive Examination and the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification
  • Complete the remaining 5 courses required to graduate with my MASTER’S DEGREE!

My upcoming visions for Sit, Stay, & Blog:

  • Book reviews
  • More “What It Means To” content
  • Featured segments of fellow service dog raisers
  • Guest pet blogs and appearances
  • Dog blogs galore!

 


Although this blog post wasn’t very rich in content, I hope you’ve gained a better understanding of what I’ve been up to and where I am headed in the next few months!  My visions for Sit, Stay, & Blog include weekly posts and varying types of new content.  If I fall behind on blog posts, refer to the section above regarding “what else I’ll be up to throughout the remainder of the year” and blame it on that!  😉

Thanks for reading!  If you haven’t already, don’t forget to Like and Follow Sit, Stay, and Blog on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on all of my upcoming posts!  🙂

-T.

Posted in Wagging Through Life Blogs

What It Means To: Embrace Your Need For Self-Care!

Welcome back, Sit, Stay, & Bloggers!  Before I get into this post, I owe a huge THANK YOU for all of the views, likes, and positive feedback on my previous blog post!  A special thank you to “Earle the Service Dog” for sharing my post on Facebook and initiating a much-needed discussion about the growing concerns of fraudulent service dogs!  🙂


In today’s post I want to highlight the importance of self-care and provide examples of how you (yes, even the busiest of yous) can engage in a daily self-care routine to promote a healthy mental and physical well-being!



“If you work hard, you’ll get good grades.” 

“If you work hard, you’ll get a high-paying job.”
“If you work hard, your friendships will last forever (most don’t, by the way).”

Familiar with statements such as these?  In today’s society, we instill these types of statements in children before they are even able to comprehend the words we are spewing at them.  We make promises to kids that if they try hard enough, they can achieve anything.  But what happens when we try too hard?  Is there such a thing as trying too hard to achieve your goals?

Story time:

Throughout my life, hard work has proven to be one of my most treasured values.  Regardless of the task at-hand, these “If you work hard” statements were unwittingly on a never-ending loop in the back of my mind.  They reminded me to persevere until I achieve the ultimate goal — success.  As a high school student and throughout my undergraduate experience, my drive for success was at an all-time high.  My first two years as an undergraduate student were spent studying, rewriting notes, writing papers, reading textbook after textbook, and if the sun was still shining when I finished all of that, I would start again.  I developed this unhealthy mentality that, in an effort to achieve success, every awakening moment had to quite literally be spent working in some capacity.  At one point during my sophomore year, I was maintaining five separate jobs, a course load of five classes per semester, and volunteer work.  So can you try too hard to achieve success?  In short, yes!

It wasn’t until I recently began my graduate program that I (thankfully) started to embrace the concept of self-care.  My experiences as a graduate student taught me a crucial life lesson:  The absence of self-care can lead to burnout, physical fatigue, and mental exhaustion.  I learned that, regardless of time constraints and busy schedules, self-care can and should always be incorporated into one’s daily routine!  Now, I have replaced those “If you work hard” statements with “Move over hard work, self-care coming through!”

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Pinella helps me incorporate self-care by scheduling daily walks together!

So what is self-care?  In a simple answer, self-care is “you time,” but it certainly extends beyond that.  To be a true act of self-care, it should be self-initiated, deliberate, and intended to promote your physical and mental health.  It should be something that you thoroughly enjoy, look forward to, and plan out in your daily routine.  Reading this may unquestionably invoke thoughts about what constitutes self-care and how it can be incorporated into a busy, parent of three kids, high school soccer coach, full-time employee type of schedule.  Have no fear:  I have outlined examples for individuals of all abilities below that demonstrate just how simple self-care can be!  🙂

“Move Over Hard Work, Self-Care Coming Through”

Physical Self-Care Activities (Sedentary):

  • Take a bubble bath
  • Write, blog, or journal/log  your thoughts
  • Watch a movie, television show, or favorite YouTube channel
  • Read a book, magazine, newspaper, or Sit, Stay, & Blog posts 🙂
  • Craft, scrapbook, paint, or draw
  • Sit outside or at your favorite window and embrace the nature surrounding you
  • Sing
  • Learn how to play a musical instrument
  • Meditate
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Take a nap, rest
  • Get a massage, manicure, pedicure
  • Listen to motivating music
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When I’m not writing about dogs, I’m reading about them as part of my self-care routine!

Physical Self-Care Activities (Active):

  • Dance to your favorite beat
  • Exercise:  Run, walk, ride a bike, yoga, go hiking, train for a running race (5K, 10K)
  • Go shopping, treat yourself to a new book, article of clothing, candle, etc.
  • Photography
  • Bake your most prized dessert
  • Cook your famous Thanksgiving dish
  • Clean, rearrange your furniture (but NOT done as a chore!)
  • Volunteer at a local animal shelter, service dog organization, hospital, soup kitchen, shelter, etc.

 

 

 

5Ks and 10Ks are incorporated into my self-care plan!

Mental Self-Care Activities:

  • Replace one negative thought with three positive thoughts:
    • “I can’t fit self-care into my daily schedule” –>
      1.  “I can take 30 minutes to take a bubble bath.”
      2.  “I can spend 45 minutes playing with my dog.”
      3.  “I can sit down and watch my favorite TV show tonight.”
  • Create a list of things you are most grateful for
  • Do a mental check-in and think about your current thoughts, feelings, and emotions
  • Stay in the moment:  Acknowledge 5 things you can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel
  • Having trouble powering down after work?  Mentally tell yourself all of the things you’re doing as you end your day (I am shutting down my computer, I am grabbing my jacket and putting it on, I am turning off the light, I am closing my office door, I am walking to my car, etc.)  Essentially, leave work at work and home at home! 🙂

 

 

Pets and Self-Care Activities:

  • Snuggle with your pet
  • Enjoy a nap with your pet
  • Take  your pet on a hike, a walk, or on a trip to a nearby dog park
  • Play hide-and-seek with them at home
  • Place their kibble/food sporadically throughout your home and watch them play hide-and-seek!
  • Reminisce on all of your favorite memories with your pet
  • Take them to a pet-friendly pet store and watch their excitement when they pick out a new toy (Don’t forget to skedaddle when you see a working service dog!)
  • Play tug, fetch…just play!
  • Read them a book (It sounds silly, but I’m sure they’ll love you for it!)
  • Tell your pets how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking (You won’t find anyone more nonjudgmental!)
  • Have training sessions with your pet
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Pinella, Alex, and I often incorporate a good hike into our self-care routine!

Regardless of your busy schedule, it is time that you incorporate self-care into it!  If you keep a planner or calendar, start scheduling specific times to engage in your self-care activities.  But don’t let it be an added stressor for you:  Start off slow and gradually increase your commitment to self-care.  In my favorite words from my dad, “Never say you can’t do it, just do it!”  🙂

As always, I want to thank you for reading!  Comment below what you do for self-care or what you plan on incorporating into your daily routine to ensure you’re achieving optimal mental and physical health!  Don’t forget to “Like” and “Follow” Sit, Stay, and Blog on Facebook and Twitter, and stay tuned for the next post!

-T.