Sisterhood

sisterhood

Yesterday was day one of nothing on my calendar. No class, no assignments, no internship, just blissful nothingness. I woke up early, because I can’t turn my inner clock off, had some tea, did some stretches, watched the news, threw on a dress and headed to the campus bookstore to pick up my cap and gown.

When I entered the bookstore I ran into my girlfriend from the program who I did all the work in the community with. We have not seen each other this whole semester so we were thrilled to discover that we both had some free time to catch up after we picked up all the regalia.

We sat outside the arena and talked for a while. She apparently did not have the same warm fuzzy feelings about her internship experience as I did. It has been really interesting to hear my friends stories of triumph, frustration, and sorrow associated with their internships. It was nice to be able to sit in this space and share this with her.

We also had an opportunity to discuss our community that we both care do deeply about. We both had updates for each other. Two weeks ago our friend, the principal at the primary learning center, reached out to me and asked for a copy of our paper (the community assessment). I am not sure what he needs it for but I do know that in the near future the primary learning center will be closing as a new elementary school opens. If our paper can help him and the community as they transition or in any other way I will be grateful.

My friend has made a connection with an attorney at a high profile local law office who sits on the board of a company who is actively contributing to the gentrification of this community (did you catch all that). This is wonderful news for us. He is not in touch with what is going on in the community so she has been a little bird in his ear making him aware. Yay social work, yay advocacy! I recently found out that an after school center in the community will be closing due to all the changes happening. This is another major blow because this center is the first of its kind in the area and plays a major role in mentorship with the youth. The center was modeled after the most successful centers in NY, this is will be another devastating loss for this community.

It wasn’t all social work and advocacy talk though, we talked about life, and graduation, and our growth, and our next steps. It was good to see her, I was grateful.

Day two of nothing on my calendar started about the same as day one; tea, stretching, staring at the beauty of life in our backyard as the sun comes up, news.. In a little while I will meet my intern supervisor and one or more of the doctors for lunch. My last day was busy with patients and caregivers so there was no send-off. They asked if we could get together for lunch today to have a proper good-bye. I painted them I thank you card and am excited to see them later.

Tonight I am meeting a new acquaintance for dinner. At the social work celebration earlier this semester a social worker I had not yet met walked over to me and introduced herself at the urging of a few other social workers in the room. I was so excited to meet her, I knew exactly who she was when she gave me her name. We agreed to meet socially and talk social work once our schedules both allowed. I am so excited about this, I have been looking forward to it for weeks. I remember when I was first leaving the hospital to go back to school I ran into a girl I know who was finishing up her master’s. A piece of me really wanted to meet with her and talk social work but I knew given the specific circumstance of the situation it wouldn’t work out. Four years later I have made so many meaningful connections and I am grateful. This is such a small community of social work in my area, especially social work in healthcare. Everyone knows everyone. I really feel like I am beginning to find my place in this community, and I feel like I have found my people. It is a good feeling.

Tomorrow one of my favorites is coming over for dinner and painting. Todd is out of town this weekend which means solitude sprinkled with girlfriend time. Sunday another one of my favorites is coming over in the afternoon so we can catch up.

As I step back and look at the people I am surrounded by I am so grateful for all these strong, passionate women I get to have in my life. Women who feed my soul. Someone once told me that it will be women who save the Earth and you know, I am inclined to believe them.

Two Years Later

Two years ago                                                  Yesterday

A lot can change in a minute. One minute you have long hair and the next it has been chopped off. A lot can change in an hour, you walk into your doctor’s office for a check up and walk out with a diagnosis. A lot can change in a day, you can wake up single and by sunset be someone’s spouse. A lot can change in a week, on Monday you rent a home and by Friday you are a home owner. A lot can change in a month, one month you are happily going about just you and your partner and the next you are puppy parents. A lot can change in a year, you can start with a plan and by year’s end realize it was never in your hands to decide anyway.
Change being so constant, imagine what can happen given two years.

Today was my last day of internship, yesterday was my day of classes as a BSW student. Next week I will officially be a social worker and one week after that I will be a grad student. I am grateful for the constant change in my life. I am grateful for the last two years. I am grateful for all those who have crossed my path, walked it with me, have given me darkness, and given me light.

I am grateful for this minute, hour, day, week, month, year. I am grateful for this breath and the knowledge that in the next everything could change.

diane

 

 

You Be You and I’ll Be Me

book autonomy

Todd and I were talking over the weekend about our relationship, one specific piece actually, autonomy. This theme of autonomy in relationships, namely intimate relationships, has come up multiple times in the last few weeks so here I am and here is what I have to say about it and relationships on a broader scale..

First, for us, in our own relationship, it is really important. As two very independent introverted people autonomy is part of the life blood that keeps this relationship alive. I do not know if it is as important to others, I would have no way to know that, but this is our truth.

Last week my parents were over in the evening for dinner. Before Todd got home I was sitting around the table with my Mom and Dad and I do not remember exactly how this came up but my Mom told me that I should throw some of Todd’s work polos away while he wasn’t looking because by some standards they are a bit faded or worn looking. I feel no need to go into explanation of how Todd feels about his work shirts as I do not find that to be relevant information. Whether he was incredibly attached to these shirts or did not care about them at all, I would never throw something that belongs to him away. I promptly told my mother this. I knew she had been half joking in telling me to do it to begin with but her message was serious, which was “it is unprofessional for him to wear faded shirts to the office”. I explained that I do not make those decisions for him and it is not up to me to define for him what professional is, that looks different for everyone and every office.

I have never inserted myself into Todd’s choice of attire outside of answering his questions about “how formal” an event is so he can gauge what to wear, and he has never inserted himself into my fashion choices – which I deeply appreciate. I want to be able to show up as the person I wake up as everyday and I want the same for him.

A while back a friend was telling me about a couple she met and how they were discussing with others/giving advice about how to have a successful relationship/marriage or something to that effect. Honestly the whole thing kind of made me cringe, for a couple of reasons. 1. From what I gather this couple was relatively young and possibly still relatively newly married.. To me that says they are still figuring it out. If it was a couple who were later in life and had been together for many many years then yeah maybe they are qualified but even then, every intimate relationship looks so different. Which brings me to point 2. Relationship advice, in my opinion, is super tricky and maybe not a great idea generally speaking. Every single relationship is this subjective thing that two or more people experience together way differently than anyone else will experience. This goes for all relationships not just intimate relationships. AND in my humble opinion, comparison is a relationship KILLER. I’m sitting here talking about the importance of autonomy in my relationship and how it is this super healthy thing that makes me feel good as a wife and as a human being but you know what, that may not be even close to true for someone else. So do not internalize my message about what works for me and think that your relationship is in some way less than because you don’t value the things I value. Okay? Okay.

The other thing that worried me about what my friend shared, and I do not mean to dump on what maybe was a great interaction for her, I am just reacting to what I heard. Point 3. The highlight reel theory. I know I have mentioned this at least once in a previous post, how people will only show you their best days and make you think this is what every single day looks like. That shit will totally mess with your head and make you think nothing and no one is ever good enough because what I have doesn’t come close to this other guy has, not knowing it is a highlight reel and not the real thing. We play our highlight reel in conversations with casual acquaintances and family we don’t often see, on FB and in social media, at work and cocktail hour, we take that reel with us everywhere.

So here is the real story on Todd and I’s blissful autonomy: it takes work. Like all the time. We spent three straight hours recently talking about our relationship and boundaries and autonomy etc. We weren’t in crisis, there was no preemptive argument that led to this talk (although sometimes that happens and that is totally okay too because arguments are a growth place and lead to deeper understanding as well), we were just talking about an upcoming trip we are taking and the conversation morphed, as they often do, and we spent sometime checking in with each other. Good relationships, again this is my opinion, do not happen by accident.

So this brings me to the last signal I got from the universe that relates to relational autonomy and that is when it does not exist at all. I was catching up with a friend who I have not checked in with in a while and she appears to be in emotional crisis mode and from what I can tell it is because her boundaries have been completely trampled. She appears to have become completely absorbed in someone else’s issues and it seems like this person has manipulated there way into getting what they want, the whole situation seems just stressful and yucky. I told my friend it sounds like she is setting herself on fire to keep this other person warm and she agreed. What she decides to do about it though she will have to come to on her own. Only she knows what is right for her.

It was hard to listen to her struggle though. All autonomy is, is knowing where you end and the other person begins. If you have lost sight of that you might want to check in with yourself and see how you feel about that. For some people that is problem, some not, you will know what is right for you by how it feels.

The quote I shared at the top is one I found years ago and have always loved because it has always made me think of Todd. Our books have always had their own shelves and that is the way we like it.

Todd’s Shelf

book autonomy1

Jill’s Shelf

book autonomy2

 

 

 

 

 

Constant Gardener

garden

I was thinking recently about my journey, as I often do. I am someone who has an inward focus, constantly surveying my emotional landscape, looking for areas that need attention. In this way I am the constant gardener. Every day putting time aside to walk through the garden of my emotions and prune, or weed, or adjust a flower so it will receive more nourishment from the sun or rain.

I remember a time when there was no sun in my garden, it was dark, always storming. My beautiful garden was nothing more than an overgrown tangle of indistinguishable vegetation and mud. My thumb had turned black and I was not able to help my garden grow. While these are not my favorite memories I know it is important for me to remember in order to prevent my garden from ever falling into that level of disarray again and also to keep in mind that even when my garden was a mess it was still growing. Life was still present, it persevered and waited patiently to be nurtured and tended to and given all the things it needed in order to bloom again.

My garden has been flourishing for a while now, it has been a perpetual spring. As my flowers and greenery thrive I have even allowed others to come in and sit in my garden with me. My garden had seen visitors over the years but at times in the past I had allowed some in that did not see its value, they would trample delicate flowers completely uprooting my most sensitive pieces. I know better now and no longer fear for the safety of this prized possession of mine.

I know the sun will not always shine and that I cannot control the weather or the season but I am the constant gardener and I will never neglect my garden again.

Wrapping Up One Chapter to Start Another

aaa

Feels like April came early this year, I don’t know how else to explain it already being the end of the semester. The last few months have flown by while I have been in internship. Now I am here, just a few weeks before graduation and in the last two weeks of placement. Two years ago this felt so far away.

This has been such a memorable experience. I am really grateful for all the opportunities I have had to work and practice my skills outside of the program, this internship included. I have worked in communities, with schools, with multiple different agencies. It has all been amazing and collectively that has been my favorite part of this entire experience.

I am excited to start grad school, I am really looking forward to my next internship, but I am also feeling a bit sad to be finishing up with the agency I have been working with these last few months. I will miss my supervisor, the patients, the physicians, the fellows, and the staff. It was such a good experience, I fell right into place from the beginning and have felt part of the team the entire time. This was technically a generalist internship but there were absolutely clinical aspects and that gave me a taste of what comes next.

Suddenly one more year does not feel like such a long time. I think there is this false sense of security that comes with being in school, a feeling of shelter from the outside world. One day I will be a social worker and have to do all of these things that I have been practicing.. One day.. Well one day is closing in on me. That is not to say I am not looking forward to one day, I am with all of my being. This has all been a wonderful experience though, one that I have tried to embrace fully and take every advantage of, and soon I know this chapter will be closing in order for the next to open. My chapter as a BSW is quickly coming to an end so my chapter as an MSW student intern can begin. All this forward momentum is good and exciting but I am just trying to soak it all up. I don’t want to miss anything, I don’t want anything to be taken for granted.

So much has happened since starting this program two years ago. I know I am the not the same person I was two years ago, just as that girl knew she was different than the girl she was two years prior to that. I am really proud of my growth most of all I think. I feel so much less afraid than I did before. I think a big part of that is knowing that I am okay, that I am enough, and that this is where I am supposed to be. I feel so much more sure of things now, sure of myself.

It has been an amazing journey, one that started 4 years ago and is not quite complete. I am excited to see where this next chapter takes me and feel open to whatever comes my way.