Making it Over the Hump

This week was the craziest week of the semester. 2 big exams, a group project and presentation due and another big solo project due. I made it through to the other side and it feels like a huge weight has been lifted!

Now my schedule will be busy with final wedding details more so than school because we are now almost TWO WEEKS OUT! I can hardly believe it! I am so excited!!!! Every morning I wake up and it feels like Christmas when I was 5. I am ready, so so ready. Next Friday I am going out with my girlfriends on a final girls night before the big day then we will be entering wedding week!

Todd and I were talking last night and agreed that we are both really glad that we chose the date we did. We had also considered 10/24, so we would have been married already. That would have been hard for me just in terms of what was going on at school not to mention October is our busiest month socially so I am really glad we decided against it. Not to mention we cant take our honeymoon until the end of November because that is when I have time off from school so it works out. We get married and then the Friday after our wedding we fly out for our honeymoon.

We are both so excited about the honeymoon too! I cannot wait to explore the city and have some cooler weather.

Now that school will be slowing down for a few weeks I feel like I am just on cruise control until the wedding and it feels good.

 

Balancing the Busy

I cannot tell you if it is just the point I am at in the semester or being this close to the wedding but my life has become exceedingly busy of late. I had a slight inclination that October would be a full month but I was not prepared for this level of frenzy, which is exactly what this feels like, an absolute frenzy.

It does not help that at times I feel like things or people are working against me. In terms of people being a hindrance I certainly do not think it is deliberate. They have their own lives with their own priorities and lists of things to do and at times unfortunately our priorities and lists do not match up. This has resulted in me having to make time where I do not have it to make something happen that is a priority to me. I have also been met with a lack of understanding more than once about my time constraints and overflowing schedule. Recently any time I am asked, Hey what are you doing on blah blah day, my response is always I have to check my calendar. I write everything down I have going on and I will not answer that question, even if I feel pretty confident I know the answer, without checking the calendar first. I don’t just have something going on everyday, I have multiple somethings going on just about everyday.

An unfortunate casualty in all of this is my social life. Which that part I know is more because of school than anything. There comes a time in every semester where I have to put my head down and really focus. I usually do not see my girlfriends for about a month or so when this happens. It’s what it is though.

I am starting to feel the effects of all of this commotion though. I feel like every detail of my life is planned out through the New Year. I feel like I can’t just sit and breathe and have a moment to mentally check out. That’s not completely true I guesses. There is allotted down time here and there for Todd and I to just be. I guess I just wish I had a little more or maybe just a full day of downtime rather than an afternoon here or an evening there. What winds up happening is that moment that we allotted for downtime turns into our only opportunity to make a grocery run or catch up on laundry etc. Last weekend is a great example of that..

Friday: 9-4:30 NASW Training

4:30-5:00 Drive home

5:00 Dinner Reservations for Todd’s Birthday

7:15   Movie

10:30 Finally get home, let Lucy out, play with Lucy for a few hours since she was crated almost all day

12:00 Go to bed

 

Saturday: 9:30 Grocery run

11:30 Leave for friend’s daughter’s first birthday party at 12pm

1:45 Leave birthday early

2:15 Arrive home, get Lucy, leave again to go to my parent’s house by way of grocery to pick up pre-ordered birthday cake

3:15 Arrive at parents house, have exactly 1 hour to do wedding hair trial run with my Mother

4:30 Family arrive for birthday celebration and dinner

11:00 Leave parents house, drive half hour home and go to bed.

 

Sunday: Our “Free Day”

10:00 Wake up, have herbal tea, make to do list for the day

10:30 Clean dishes

10:45-12:30 Reorganize guest room/wedding room to make ready for company arriving in early November.

12:30 Start laundry

12:45-2:15 Yard work outside, switch out laundry and start next load

2:30 Clean Lucy’s ears

3:00-4:00 Finish music list for DJ and send in email

4:15 Start dinner, switch out laundry and start next load

5:15 Eat dinner

6:00 Take Lucy for a walk

7:00 Arrive home from walk, switch out laundry

7:15 Start to fold and put away three loads of laundry while watching a documentary

9:00 Watch Walking Dead

10:30 Bed

 

I swear almost every minute of our lives are planned out right now. As I write this entry I should be working on three separate school assignments that have to be finished before 6:00 which is when I have to leave to meet one of my bridesmaids for dinner so I can finally give her the bridesmaids dress she should have altered a month ago.  I do not mean to sound resentful in that last statement I made, it is just one more thing for me to worry about that I wish I didn’t have to.

So you can see even Sunday which was supposed to be our day of no plans was quickly consumed by our household responsibilities. In truth it wasn’t so bad though. I got to spend the day in yoga pants and a sports bra as we checked items off our to-do list. And I will never complain about taking Lucy for a walk or watching the Walking Dead. In fact, I kind of like re-organizing the house and yard work too so all in all there isn’t much to complain about. My favorite part of the day was our walk though. It was a perfect evening. The weather was exceptional, it was right around sunset and Todd and I spent the whole walk day dreaming and talking about our future. We stopped on a bench by the lake for a while and just talked and talked soaking up every moment of the cool evening air. On the walk home I pointed out how radiant the trees looked with the red setting suns beams glowing on their branches, it was stunning. We stood there and watched the branches sway in the red light for a minute before continuing on. I was just glad to be outside seeing something pretty in nature and being in that moment with him not thinking about everything else. Thank God for long walks on autumn evenings, at least for a moment time seems to slow down.

 

 

 

 

 

My Best Day

Yesterday was my best day yet since starting the BSW program over the summer. Ironically, however, I did not have class yesterday. A month or so ago after a student association meeting let out one of my professors mentioned an NASW training that was being held 10/17 and was open to students. I got all the information, went home and registered. I have been looking forward to it all week even though truthfully I was not exactly sure what to expect. The day surpassed any expectations I could have had anyway. It was outstanding.

The first half of the training was on end of life matters such as advance directives, health care surrogates and proxies. This is hugely relevant to my area of interest. The second half of the training was on ethics, making judgement calls and malpractice insurance, more specifically how to avoid incidents that would lead to any kind of case being brought against you. Again, really great information. This was an incredible opportunity to learn from experts in these fields and to be surrounded by licensed social workers. I got to hear their concerns and brain storm with them. It was a great learning experience for me to be side by side with the people who are doing the work and listen to what comes up that concerns them, the ethical dilemmas they face, etc.

So aside from this just being an amazing opportunity for me there were a few other  amazing aspects yesterday that when put together amounted to it being my best day.

1. I was the only student in attendance. That was crazy to me. For weeks the entire BSW program has been getting emails about this training, it has come up in classes and at the student association meeting. The cost was really low for students so I was really surprised I was the only one there. I expected at least a few members of the student association to be there. This offered me a unique opportunity I was not expecting. I got to meet professors from the program I had not met yet. I got face time with each of them I may not have otherwise gotten, which means now they know me, they know my background, my area of interest.. It was a chance for me to set myself apart and show some of the professors that I am serious about this.That was amazing… Because the event was held at Hospice, where I volunteer, I got to meet many of the Hospice social workers who work in the field and I never see in the IPU. I was excited about that as well. Amazing.

2. In meeting the professors I also got to meet one of my online professors who I have not met yet. She approached me at the break, she recognized my name on the sign in sheet when she signed in. We also talked about my background and area of interest, which I found out parallels her career in a way. She was very complimentary of the work I have been doing in her class and my level of insight in the papers I have submitted, a little validation is always welcome. The best part though is she wants to meet with me next fall to look at options for my internship the following spring! With these internships they take your area of interest into account but ultimately you are placed so you don’t have a whole lot of say in where you end up. She wants to help me end up in placement where she feels I would flourish, Um Thank you!! I am so excited to have an opportunity to pick her brain about the field (she has been doing work that is similar to what I would like to do) and have some input with regards to the internship. It’s just nice to know that your work has caught someones attention and now they want to take you under their wing. Again, that was amazing!

3. We broke into groups to work on a case study. I was in a group with 4 LCSWs, one works with veterans, one works in the mental health arena, one was retired private practice specializing in family counseling and one was a retired medical social worker who worked in hospital settings most of her career. So we worked together on this case study, answering the questions and brain storming. I did not intend to offer much as they are the professionals, I planned to just hang back, listen and learn. They knew I was a student though so they were not going to let me off that easy. I gave responses to how I would handle certain situations and they all agreed my instincts were spot on. They really had no suggestions for how anything could have been done better or different. Once more, amazing (and validating).

4. This was the big moment that pushed the day from special and worthwhile to my best day yet.. During lunch I ran an errand, when I returned for the second training of the day my professor approached me. This professor is the one I know best in the program, I have taken two of her classes now plus emailed with her a few times when I have had issues in the program with scheduling etc. She has a medical background as well, she also worked for the hospital and her area of interest is in line with my own. I definitely identify with her. She also happens to run just about everything! I believe she is the BSW program head, I know she has a say in who is accepted into the program and who is not, she sits in on the BSWSA meetings, I think she is even a head in the Central Florida branch of the NASW. Needless to say I am a little in awe of this woman, she is pretty impressive but very down to earth.

So, she approaches me and asks how I am enjoying the training. I gush. She smiles. She then asks if I have joined the NASW yet, she gave me the info over the summer to join. I told her I had not only because I will be changing my name in January and I thought it would be easier to wait until after that was done. She understood and then went on to explain why she asked.. There are some things coming up that she has to submit recommendations for, student recommendations, and she explained that I was one of the students she was considering. There were about four things she told me about, I am not going to elaborate on all of them but I will say this, one of them was so huge that it took everything I had not to show my insane excitement! I mean it was a HOLY SHIT back flip and land in split moment! Somehow I kept my composure and said that I was flattered that she was thinking of me for any of these things and that I was absolutely interested (that was one of her questions, does this stuff even interest me). So I told her I would go ahead and sign up now using my current name and I would just do the extra paper work to change it with the Association next year. I definitely do not want to miss out on any opportunities because of something silly like a name change.

By the end of the day I was walking on air. Grateful is not a big enough word for how I felt at the end of the day yesterday.

When I was accepted into the program one my goals for myself was not only to be a good student and make good grades but I wanted my professors to really know me, I wanted to stand out. And not for purposes of accolades or anything like that but I just wanted to be taken seriously. This was the first day that made me feel like I might just reach that goal.

It was my best day.

A Weight Lifted

Is there a better feeling than finally finishing a paper that has monopolized countless hours of research and writing? I know that the answer is yes, absolutely there are better feelings but for me, right now, the answer is NO! No there isn’t! This is the best feeling I am going to experience today at least! I just finished a social justice paper I have been working diligently on for a few days now and I am reveling in the wave of relief that follows checking something big off your To-Do list.

Now to tackled the other million and a half things on my never ending list.. I think I will start with the dishes, something that requires very little brain power.

1 MONTH! Let the Count Down Begin!!

Tomorrow will be one month before our wedding and the true count down begins! I started getting really excited back in September when my girlfriends and I went on our beach weekend. Everyday I wake up is one day closer to our big day and I feel like a child again counting down until Christmas. And like a child I have no earthly idea how I will get any sleep the night before due to the amount of excited energy that will be buzzing through my veins, I am already finding it difficult at times. At the peak of my anxiety years ago when I was starting to get a handle on it I took to falling asleep to sleep sounds, of late I have gone back to that strategy to help calm my mind and body for bed. All the excitement that is building up inside me feels similar to the anxiety a used to feel in a couple of ways. It feels electric, I have butterflies in my stomach and my mind and heart are constantly racing with exited thoughts and anticipation. It has been a bit of a battle to calm down and turn my brain off at bed time. Ocean sounds are helping. The soothing sound of waves crashing gives me something other than my anticipatory thoughts to focus on.

snoopy   <—- Me pretty much all the time now.

 

 

I am really not nervous or anxious at all. Just about everything is done and the few things left to do are small and don’t worry me. We have our check list and I know everything will get crossed off. I find my thoughts flooded with how much I am looking forward to the rehearsal dinner with all of our best friends and immediate family. That is very little I love more in life than being able to spend time with all of my favorite people at the same time and that is exactly what the rehearsal dinner will be. I have been looking forward to it since we first became engaged. That night is going to be super fun as well. After the dinner all of our friends will come to our house for one last party before the big day, however some what low-key as I actually have to look nice the next day.After everyone leaves that night my three best friends will be spending the night for our last sleep over before I am married and then the next morning a limo will pick us up and whisk us away to the venue where we will get ready.

I think Friday is when everything is going to start feeling real! Like “Oh shit this is actually happening now”. Any of our Illinois friends that have not already arrived will be flying in Friday and I think once that last person gets here it will really start to sink in.

I am starting to feel nervous about one detail I have to admit, my make up. I have bought water proof this and that and I am just hoping it does its job, I don’t want my face to melt down the front of my dress. I have every confidence in my ability to do my own make up and it look exactly how I want for my wedding day which is why I chose not to hire a make up artist but now I am kind of wishing I had a professionals brain to pick just to know if there are any tricks to keeping everything in place if I turn into a puddle which I fully expect to do. One of my girlfriends and I are going to do some online searches and maybe visit a make up counter in a mall to see if there are any tricks of the trade that can help alleviate this concern of mine.

So, another bit of excitement aside from our wedding being so close is that my sweet old man friend turns 30 this Friday! Todd made the mistake of saying he is not a boy years ago when I called him my boyfriend so he has been my old man friend ever since. I told him now that he turning 30 he will really be living up to his title. We are going to dinner at one of the nicer restaurants downtown and then some sort of activity after, we have decided to leave that open until Friday and then depending on what he is in the mood for he can decide. I mentioned before that it was no surprise to me when he wanted to keep his birthday low-key this year.. I felt the same way about turning 30, I was really looking forward to it but I wanted it to be special and intimate, I chance to reflect on the last decade with just a few favorite people. Todd finds himself feeling the same. I am looking forward to it, I will be in an NASW seminar all day so a nice dinner and whatever comes after sounds like a good way to end a busy day.

 

A Major Win!

celebrate

 

In passing a few posts ago I gave a quick update about school that included my having straight A’s right now. I would like to expand and point out that I just received my grade for the midterm test I took in one of my classes and I almost got a perfect score! I earned a 98 out of 100, which I have managed before but this was a HARD TEST! I scored perfectly on the multiple choice and T/F, I only lost a half point on the short answer. I will accept the loss of that half point with a smile because there were 6 essay questions to test not only comprehension/our knowledge of the material but our instincts as a clinician. This is a huge win in my books.

This win is following a few smaller but almost equally important wins. A solid middle-ground A on another midterm, and an A on my first major paper. The grade on the paper was a pretty big win as well because my APA skills passed the test. This is my first semester with APA and I had to self teach, unlike the hours of class time spent in Freshman/Sophomore English on MLA. I was relieved to find that I understand the new format and executed all the minute details appropriately. Not to mention this paper, for my Social Justice class, was on a topic I am intensely passionate about so a good grade and some encouraging feedback is validating.

Aside from school something else special happened today. I have been fortunate enough to have multiple mentors over the course of my adult life from work and volunteer settings. I was catching up with one of my mentor’s today and my mentor confided in me about a health condition she has and how she has chosen to address it. She has chosen the road less traveled I would say. I was deeply touched that she felt comfortable enough to share her story with me. I was also so impressed by her, she is a true example of a patient exercising self-determination and advocating for their health care on their terms. I love that!! I believe in that so much. I know a big part of the work I hope to do in the future will be advocating but it shouldn’t just be me. I hope to empower the patients I come in contact with to advocate for themselves, or their family to advocate for them if the patient is unable. Her story was incredible and I feel a more meaningful connection between us now that she has allowed herself to be vulnerable with me in this way. It is special and I do not take the significance of it for granted.

Today was a good day. My heart is full and happy.

 

Poise and Grace

grace

 

Truth be told in terms of physical movement and motor control I do not possess either of the competencies listed above. That being said, in the realm of interpersonal relationships and human emotion/self-control these are two areas I am known to excel in. Now I am only able to say that last statement earnestly because I had, in the past, fallen short in those areas and made the conscious decision to work mindfully on my inner self  in order to grow in the area of dignity and grace.

I have been up front about my lack of inspiration of late in terms of the philosophical musings that are often found dancing along the pages of this blog. I have found myself once again struck, it is like an awakening of sorts and as per usual it has presented itself repeatedly in different forms as if almost begging to be expressed.

I have been re-reading Tuesdays with Morrie recently. I have had little time for leisure reading of late but when time allows I have been picking it up and putting it down. I have not had time for a few weeks but this morning I arrived to campus early. I managed to stow myself away in a quiet corner of an upper floor of the building where my classes are held and it was in this corner where my inspiration first hit. I am towards the end of the book and I do not remember exactly which chapter I was on. Somewhere between marriage, forgiveness and culture Morrie said something that ruminated with me, as so many of his insights do. He was talking about how people behave when they feel threatened and how this behavior when in this kind of crisis can tell you so much about a person’s character. I completely agree, as usual. I have certainly noticed this over the years, specifically in professional settings. Sometimes I have been surprised and disappointed, fortunately for me the few people I have looked up to as mentor’s in my life hold themselves to a high standard which I learned and adapted much like a child modeling their parent’s behavior.

I stopped reading after that chapter this morning, I still had about 45 minutes before class but I just wanted to sit and let Morrie’s words sink in. Ironically later in the day my advice was called upon by a friend and we had a long conversation about how to conduct oneself with class and recover from heart-break with grace and dignity. We talked about the negative feelings that were bubbling up inside of her and her impulse to lash out at those who caused them. I have mentioned on here before how I have always believed that no one can get the better of you unless you allow it so we explored that idea in terms of the way she was currently feeling. The resentment, the anger, the frustration and rejection. They were all valid feelings for what she was dealing with. Ultimately by the end of our conversation she had made the decision to take the high road, wish the person who had wronged her well and let go of the negativity in an effort to take back some control over the situation. She didn’t want to allow the person or situation to affect her in this way and chose to focus on the positive and move in that direction. We ended our conversation with some heart-felt admirations for one another and knowing how lucky we are to learn and grow together through each others vulnerability.

Much later in the evening I was watching my all time favorite TV show, the one show that time stands still for in my life, Project Runway. Tim Gunn is my idol, he is the epitome of style, intellect and absolute class. He is a teacher and a mentor by trade and an absolute inspiration as a human being. So like all seasons of this show there is a clear antagonist, the one aspect of this show I have never liked much. I watch this show primarily for my weekly Tim Gunn fix and secondary to that for the amazing art in the form of clothing. The artist inside of me feels alive and stimulated when I watch this show. The antagonist this season was particularly nasty, I speak in past tense because to my delight she was sent home on this evenings episode. Now although this is just a TV show I am talking about I still feel the need to say that my delight was not in this artist’s misfortune but just in not having to sit through future episodes of her negativity. The aspect of the show that applies to my current brain-work was her disgusting behavior once she knew the inevitable, that she was to be eliminated. She was cruel and spiteful and lashed out at artist’s that had never wronged her. It was the embodiment of everything Morrie illustrated in the book. He was essentially saying when threatened, some people react this way and if as a society we could foster a culture where we all work together we would be better for it.

It is a nice idea, something to work towards, in the interim I would find myself satisfied with little changes that can be made in daily life as a way to better ourselves and each other. Things like letting an extra car in when stuck in traffic, even if their driving is inconsiderate, or being kind more often than giving into the immediate gratification impulse of being nasty. Little every day events like this matter. This is a way to foster the culture Morrie spoke of.

So on  more personal note also related in a way to this topic of dignity and grace.. When I was working the front desk at Hospice this week a man came in carrying an exquisite stack of old leather-bound books. He was there visting a patient, I recognized him from the day before. On his prior visit he noticed that we have a small library of sorts in the shared living room and brought these lovely books to donate. They were so stunning even with clearly being aged that I asked him if he was sure, I would have trouble parting with such beauties. When he said yes I thanked him explaining how touching the donation was and made the appropriate person aware so they could process the donation and put the out to be displayed. While I waited for the employee to come down and collect the books I leafed through some of the pages. He donated a Sherlock Holmes, two poetry collections and then another book I was unfamiliar with but that was equally striking. While flipping through one of the poetry books I stumbled across a few poems that spoke to me, one of which was If by Rudyard Kipling. And in what I am sure is no coincidence it is quite appropriate for what I have touched on in this post so I wanted to share it as well. I have highlighted the lines that I really appreciate and identify with.

 

IF

By Rudyard Kipling

(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;  
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same; 
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!