Week in Review

I am going to get right to the good part, I co-facilitated my first group today and IT. WAS. AWESOME!

Our clients are not always super jazzed about group, they may or may not participate and often those who do are pretty unenthusiastic about it. Now I should qualify this by saying the activity we did with them we turned into a competition and there was a reward on the line. So yeah, I recognize this could have looked way different if they had not given clear incentive, either way I take it as a win though. The topic was boundaries which is really important because of things that have been happening at the facility and I am glad that they took time to be mindful and put effort into the activity. I just hope some of it sunk in.

I also met with one of my client’s today and it was another good session. I definitely feel like I am finding my groove. I feel challenged and fulfilled all at once.

This weekend will be a busy one between a paper I have to write, family birthdays, and errands/chores. With that in mind I am carving out time. Time for me, and time for me and hubs.

Tonight I am thinking about painting.. I am kind of womped though so I might put that off until either tomorrow morning or Sunday evening. I have an inspiration I have wanted to get out for a while. Tomorrow we are going to an art festival near our home, I have been looking forward to it all week. My sweet Moo (my niece) and I have been doing a lot of art and story writing together recently.. I talked with her for a few minutes by phone this evening and she has already given me all her inspiration for what we will draw/paint and write about tomorrow evening. She wants to make fairies with moss hats and a village. Last week we drew Cassiopeia and the Big Dipper and she wrote a story about both.

It is a busy time but it is good, I am grateful.

“Lists of How NOT to Treat Me” – A Self-Care Project – Part One

list

A perk of my current placement – no early mornings. Well, I still wake up at 7 every morning but I am not expected at internship until late morning/early afternoon so I have hours to myself in the morning and it is everything!

Sometimes I wake up and watch the news and have a dark cherry greek yogurt smoothie. Sometimes I hit snooze and cuddle with my family longer. Sometimes I wake up make green tea and do yoga to crystal bowls in the living room. Sometimes I take a little time to check in with friends. And sometimes I write.

This morning was a decaf coffee, cold veggie pizza left-overs, watching the news, checking in with my soul friend and writing kind of morning.

While on social media this morning I found a list (this post is all about lists) of local coffee shops that are well rated. I sent the list to my soul friend and suggested that we have girlfriend dates at some of them – this started a bigger conversation.

One of the reasons I love this particular soul friend is because she is a creative soul like me. She is a poet (my favorite, I call her the poetry queen), she paints with me (she is one of the first people I ever painted with because it has always felt so vulnerable to me), and she gets the deep emotional stuff. We have conversations that most people would never go near because as a society we like to numb not feel.

While talking I invited her to this art show going on next week because *Breaking News*: I am thinking about submitting a piece at this show next year. That is a whole other post though.

This in turn led us to talk about her art as well (poetry) and open mic nights. She is interested in going to more and I am certainly interested in supporting her in that. She was sharing with me a new inspiration she had about poetry in list form. She was at an open mic recently and one of the poets apparently read something like this and my friend was inspired. She shared with me her latest piece, a list poem, which was amazing, and then she said something I was so inspired by I nearly jumped out of bed. (Yes, I was totally eating cold veggie pizza and drinking decaf in bed while chatting with her – don’t judge me).

Our conversation went like this:

Soul Friend: I wonder what it would be like if people wrote lists of “how not to treat me” as a self-care project.. It could be from a parenting, romantic, friendship, or work life perspective.

Jillian: Yes!!!!! Sorry friend, I am stealing this as my next blog post! I will give you credit!

SF: Please do it! Even better if you or someone else is able to write something from it. I really like it for emotions that can be strong and scary to delve into like fear, hurt, grieving, anger – all things that take over but need to be addressed.

J: Right, it gives a bit of detachment like you said.

SF: Like a grocery list or to-do list for emotional preservation. I knew you would get it!

J: I more than get it, I love it! I am inspired!

Here is the thing, a list like this is not be rushed. I was struck by her stunning emotional brilliance a half hour ago, I certainly do not have my list formed yet. So this post is just setting the stage for the greatness that will come next. I hope everyone reading will take sometime through out the day, or week, or any length of time needed to consider this proposal…

What would your list look like? Who would you give it to? How would you hold others accountable for respecting your list? How would you hold yourself accountable? These are all the things I will be mindful of as I go deep and think/feel about my list(s). Remember you do not have to create just one list for everyone in your life, you occupy many roles, you may have multiple lists for your different identities.

With that I wish you all joy and abundance and I look forward to writing more on this as it forms for me.

Soul Work

When I first started at my internship a small concern I had was with the kind of counseling we provide to our clients. We primarily do pscyhoeducational which is surface level, educational information (as you could probably guess from the title), and does not typically address deeper issues such as trauma etc. The reason for this, at our agency, is because there is high turn over with our clients. We are residential but very short term for the most part and essentially the thought is that we don’t want to tap into some deep emotional wound in a session and the client leave the next day with this wound ripped open and no follow up support in place. We do make aftercare referrals for counseling and other services but it is ultimately up to the client to follow up on those services so there is no guarntee they will get the help they may need. The bottom line is we want to help without re-traumitizing the client.

I understand and respect why we use the approach we use, and I am grateful for any opportunity to practice clinical work. I know the work I want to do long term is the deep work though. It is what my life has prepared me for, much of my professional experiences have led me down this path as well. I want to help people heal at the source, not put a band aid on the wound.

My concern with this internship was that I would not have an opportunity to practice the kind of therapy I am interested in and that it might be hard for me to have the boundary of staying on the surface with a client when I know the issues hey present with run deeper. I am happy to share it had not been an issue. My boundaries have kept me in line with our mission and I have even gotten the opportunity to practice some of my deeper work in a way that is appropriate for my setting and the therapeutic goals we strive for with clients.

I have my own case load now, which I am loving, and I am self-advocating for the opportunity to run a group. I presented a topic for group, with an associated exercise, to my supervisor and she loved it so I am hoping she will give me a chance. We were told at the beginning of internship that we probably would not be running a group unless we really wanted to at some point, and I do! I want the full experience and this internship allows for that. I will have the opportunity to family counseling in addition to the individual counseling services I am already providing so I would love to try running a group as well. I have some experience co-facilitating a group but I would love to try my hand at it solo.

The opportunity I mentioned about getting to practice “deeper” work has showed up in the form of reframing things for my clients and working with them to identify internalized negative messages the outside world has given them that are now causing them to have low self-worth etc. It is still on the surface but they are important topics and I get so excited when I see them make the connection.


 

I started this post this morning before internship and then was pulled away by a phone call. I did not have an opportunity to wrap it up before I left the house so I left it as a draft to finish when I got home..

An update to the original post is that I was asked to run group tomorrow!! I am over the moon!! I created a visual to go along with group that will be used as a sample/example and I will have the opportunity to work creatively with our clients while they create their own version of my template. My heart is so full. Not only do I get to run a group on a topic that is very near and dear to my heart, I get to essentially do expressive art therapy with the clients which is also something that holds deep meaning for me. This is what whole hearted, authentic therapy looks like to me.. Being able to share yourself in an authentic, therapeutic way with your clients.

I cannot wait to report back and share how my first group session goes.

In the interim, today was another great day. I got a lot accomplished, I got to work creatively with another intern (we had a blast), I met with one of my clients and had what I consider a productive session. I also felt I made deeper connections with some of my colleagues.

I cannot tell you how good it feels to be doing well at this placement. It feels good to succeed, it feels GREAT to succeed at something you were afraid to do in the first place. Everyday I feel my confidence and my resolve to do therapeutic work growing. I am so so eternally grateful. My words are not big enough to hold the gratitude in my heart and soul.

My cup runneth over.

high-five

 

Preparing for Soul Camp

In a few short weeks I will be leaving for a weekend retreat at the beach and as the time grows nearer I am feeling all kinds of emotions bubble to the surface.

Soul Camp is a weekend therapeutic retreat led by my therapist and a co-facilitator where I will be involved in group therapy surrounding topics related to trauma, self-love, healing, family, women issues, and whatever else happens to pop up for us while we are there.

Yesterday I attended a meeting related to Soul Camp where I met all the other women who will be attending. We had a chance to talk and work out some of the jitters because we are essentially all being thrusted into each other’s work and that is kind of a big deal. I knew most of the women present as we have been attending workshops together over the course of the last year, that was reassuring. I also met someone new and this someone new will be my roommate while at Soul Camp. I am really excited about that.

The roommate situation made me a bit nervous because we will all be bringing different emotional baggage to soul camp as well as different energies around what our stuff is. I was concerned about being impacted by someone else’s energy because when in close quarters for extended periods of time it can get harder to keep up an emotional boundary. I don’t want to absorb someone else’s stuff and get distracted from what I am bringing that I need to work on.

When I first encountered this person yesterday at the meeting I did not feel overwhelmed by her energy, which was a good sign. She felt open and vulnerable which is what I try to bring as well, I think it will be a good match.

I will spend the next few weeks collecting items around my home that I want to bring with me, maybe a photo from childhood, or some other little thing that feels connected to the work I am doing. This space that is being created for us at Soul Camp feels like it might amplify the work we are already doing so I am trying to emotionally and mentally prepare myself for that.

I am looking forward to it though. I am trying to lean back a bit and not control it, I am trying not to think about it to much or create expectations for what it might be.I am going to pack a bag, leave on a Friday, and let it be whatever it is meant to be.

soul-camp

I am _________ .

i-am

Last year, early on in my therapy, my therapist asked me to finish that sentence.. I am _______.

I couldn’t do it. My eyes started to well. It was so simple but I had nothing to give. No kind word, no little comfort.. I had no words. I am nothing. That is probably how I would have finished that sentence in that moment.

As I have grown deeper into my center this simple sentence has become much easier to finish. One word I have struggled with though in terms of finishing that sentence though is artist. There is a lot of opinions out there about art, is good?, is it bad?.. I knew I was not good enough. I did not deserve the title. I was afraid that if I said out loud “I am an artist!” the art police would show up at my front door and hall me away for being an absolute phony!

You know what the worst part of that is, I think back over the years about some of the labels I allowed to be placed upon me (either by myself or others) that I willingly accepted.. Slut, Liar, Bitch, Sinner, Unworthy, Unlovable, Ugly, Stupid, Not-Good-Enough. It was so easy for me to accept these labels as part of my I am ________, but I would not allow myself to have this. Which is really amazing when you consider I have been creating art since I was old enough to hold a paint brush.

So I create in private where it is safe and no one can see and judge. I may talk about the fact that I like to paint with people but that does not mean I will ever share my creations with them.

My soul friend asked me for an original piece. She collects art and has a stunning gallery wall in her home. Normally I would be reluctant, intimidated.. In the past when this kind of request has been made of me it was with a specific subject in mind.. “paint me a picture of this..”. I can’t do that. I can only create what I personally feel inspired by. I know my friend understands that because she is an artist as well, an artist with words. I would never expect her to create something real on command because I know that is not how it works.

So she left it open to me, anything I want to make, and the result is my very favorite piece I have ever made. I am calling it Balance.

balance-jb-originalbalance-jb-original-1

Color in balance with absence of color, the male energy of the triangle balanced by the female energy of the orchids, order and chaos all in balance in one space because everything is able to exist at the same time. Balance.

I have created a lot of art in my  life and I have a different relationship with each piece but this one is special. This one is my validation. I looked at it once complete and said out loud in my living room for Todd, and Lucy, and the whole Universe to hear and bear witness – I AM AN ARTIST!

I hope it means as much to my friend as it does to me. This piece came out exactly like I wanted it to. That is a really amazing feeling for me because there was a time where my brain and my hands did not communicate that well. I had all these exciting ideas that I wanted to create but I was not able to express what was in my head the way I wanted to with my hands.. This is exactly how I envisioned this piece. I did it.

I am an artist for me and me alone, I always have been. I am grateful to be secure enough in myself to be able to say now without vulnerability, I am an artist.

Death, Art, and Something Sacred

As mentioned in my previous post this week was rocky. The expectations for this week were one thing, the reality another and sometimes that is life.

The week recovered though, with astonishing ease in fact. I did not become a puddle. I did not allow this moment of darkness to grow into a storm that enveloped all other aspects of my life and week. It was what it was and it stayed there. I did that.

Here is what else I did..

I had a major break through with a client who I have met with multiple times and have had difficulty getting more than a shoulder shrug out of while in session. This was big. I felt like super social worker, my first big break through!

I got to be creative and brainstorm on a art project of sorts with a fellow intern.. This thing we are crating together will be displayed in our agency, we are excited about it, the ideas are flowing and it so fun.

I carved out me time which included reading, writing, getting my calendar organized, running errands related to Todd’s upcoming birthday, and watching the old Star Wars movies.

The real icing on the cake though was a visit from one of my soul friends..

It is like she sensed that I needed her this week. Our time together was enriching and authentic and everything I needed and I was grateful.

She arrived at my home right as I was getting home from internship. As she approached she had a gift in her hand and told me it was for me. I was surprised. It is not my birthday.. what is this about? When she handed it to me I knew instantly that it was art, I thought maybe she painted me something (she has done that before). When I got it open it was a painting of a boxer (which is what Lucy is) on a vibrant yellow background.

boxer-female

I was touched. I was even more touched when she told me the back story..

Apparently this piece was painted by a local artist, an older woman, who recently died. From what my friend said she had years worth of paintings she created, a lifetimes worth I would be willing to guess, and when she passed her family wanted them to go to good home which is how my friend came upon this piece. I am not quite clear on all the details but I know my friend was able to get a few pieces for herself and then saw this piece and got it for me.

My heart swelled as she told me the story. I am SO honored to be part of this woman’s legacy. I am honored to own one of her pieces and have it displayed in my home. Creating art is a labor of love. I have a special attachment to every single piece I make and I would want the exact same thing when I am dead and gone one day, give my creations to good homes. Let them live on walls and be loved by fellow artists. It is so special. I was deeply deeply moved that my friend thought of me and that I get to provide this piece with a home.

I immediately framed it and made a home for it over the fire place next to my very favorite piece in my home. This is part of this woman’s legacy.. it is such a beautiful thing.

Outside of being almost moved to tears by my friend’s gesture the rest of our time together was wonderful as well. I feel so myself when I am with her. I do not have to put on airs, I do not have to be happy if I am not, she accepts me in all of it, as I do her. I am really grateful for her and to have had time with her on such a rocky week.

Today I get to welcome my sweet husband home, I cannot wait to see his beautiful face. In the mean time I will enjoy every ounce of my alone time and the quiet within it.

 

 

When Love Does Not Show Up

all-of-love-that-showed-up

Have you ever been in a situation where the expectation was love and then love didn’t happen? For example, you are in a blossoming new-ish relationship and you get to that point, everyone knows what I am talking about, the point where you feel it, you feel ready to put your heart on the line and say it, I Love You. It is exciting and terrifying all at the same time. It is this super electric moment when you are waiting, hoping, praying that the other person feels the same way, that they will say it back! I love you too.

Sometimes they don’t though right? Sometimes you are the only love that shows up. Then you are left with the fall out. The feelings of rejection, the not-good-enoughs, embarrassment.. All of it.

I was thinking about that this week as I had to show up for myself in a moment like this.

I love my mother AND sometimes she makes me feel small and unloved. That is my painful truth. Todd was out of town this week so my parents and I decided to spend a little extra time together. It was great at first.. My mom and I had fun girl talk, my dad and I talked about social work and politics. It was all going so well until it wasn’t anymore.

The end result of the “until it wasn’t anymore” was my mother leaving me with my I Love You hanging in the air by itself as she left my house.

It is one thing to feel that kind of rejection from a possible romantic partner, it is a whole other thing when it is your mother not saying it back, and really not acknowledging your existence in general. We, as a society, and then me personally, have ideas about how mothers are supposed to be right? I think of mothers and I think of unconditional love first and foremost and the truth is, my mother, and all mothers, are human beings. Unconditional love is an ideal but it is not always what you get, or what you feel anyway.

So there I was left in the wake of this emotional destruction. I was the only Love that showed up and I had to sit with that. I had to pick up all my little shattered pieces, who felt rejected and not-good-enough, and hold them in my lap and love them.

I think when people talk about self-love they think about not needing validation from society or other people.. I can tell you that when I first started down this path I did not understand that sometimes I was going to have to show up and love myself because my mother forgot to, or couldn’t, or worse.. didn’t want to.

I did it though. She left, my I Love You still hanging lonely in the air unnoticed, and I showed up for myself in that moment and told each one of those hurty pieces I loved them and that they were deserving of love.

This maybe one of the greatest lessons of my life. It is a not an easy one and it does not always feel good though. If I am having to show up for myself in a moment it is usually because something is not going right and I have the potential to be hurt, that is never a nice place to be in. That is life though, it is painful, and  joy, and scary, and beautiful, and I show up for myself in all of those places.

love-me

I Don’t Need You to Validate My Tomato

tomato

This post has two purposes:

1. to talk about self-love and not needing to seek validation outside of myself.
2. to talk about how I speak in very abstract terms and at times have to reign that in for the sake of communicating with others.

This week I was talking with someone about the human need to be validated by others and how to temper that by being able to self-validate more. I don’t know that the need for outside validation ever goes away completely, maybe it does, who knows. I still find I need it at times. Like for example when I am new at a job and am unsure about my progress, Am I catching on fast enough? Am I doing this right? Am I meeting their expectations?
Or another example is from my Parents. I am in my thirties and I am not going to lie I still find that I am seeking out my parents validation from time to time, Am I making them proud? Am I disappointing them? Did that decision I made hurt their feelings?

This need has slowly gotten smaller over time for me. My boundaries are better, my sense of worth actually exists now, I am confident in my abilities and feel more secure in who I am as a person.

New jobs provoke a lot less anxiety than they used to. Fear of disappointing my parents has waned as well. I know I am capable, I know I am smart, I make decisions that I know are right for me and are healthy, whether they are right for others is less of a concern.

As I was having this conversation about the ability to self-validate and emotionally take care of our own needs I thought of this post I wrote back in April about tending to my emotional garden. I started talking in this metaphor to the other person and they totally got it, which was awesome. At one point I was talking about being the emotional gardener and how I know my tomato is great, I don’t need anyone to validate my tomato. My tomato being whatever piece of myself is feeling insecure and needs support. I love that not only did the person I was talking to get it but now “I don’t need anyone to validate my tomato” is a thing.

Sometimes your weird, and sometimes it works.

The other part of this post also has to do with how I use abstract thought to get my ideas across. This does not work with everyone. For example, my husband is super concrete in his thought patterns. If I said “I don’t need anyone to validate my tomato” in context, giving him the entire back story so it is not just some random ass thing I am saying, he would get it but he may not get why I felt the need to use the tomato metaphor. He would probably say something like, Why not just say, “I don’t need your approval or validation”?

My answer to that would be, because my way is more colorful and fun. Still, I see the point he would theoretically be making. Also, realistically my husband would probably say this to another person if they used the tomato metaphor but he likes my weird so he would most likely not say it to me and instead laugh and think it is cute/weird.

Back to my seeing the point of speaking directly, using concrete terms, and saying what you mean.. It is not how I typically communicate honestly but I see the value. It is important when working with young children because their ability to utilize abstract thinking is not fully developed, it is also very important with adults and older adults who have certain medical conditions which may effect the ability to use abstract thought. Not to mention some people just do not communicate that way and have trouble following that line of reasoning. A few people I am interacting with quite frequently this semester fall into this last category. They all are direct, to the point, not frivolous with their words, and expect to engage with others in this way. It has been a great opportunity for me to work on my communication skills, it is a work in progress though. I catch myself frequently falling into my pattern of metaphorical story telling to illustrate a point or just becoming too tangential in general. I am aware of it though and making a concerted effort.

At the end of the day though I am sure these people do not feel like they need any kind of validation from me about whether or not their style of communication is effective, and I certainly do not need them to validate my tomato either.

The Natural Goodness of the World

the-goodness-of-the-world

I do group workshops from time to time as part of my therapy. It is essentially a form of group therapy but my therapist does not call it “group therapy” intentionally because of the way it is structured. The workshops are always around the topic of self-love usually hitting on some specific sub-topic. I love these workshops. They are typically all female, creative in nature, and I always leave feeling like my soul has been cleansed. One thing my therapist always does is bring in all the different elements for balance. There is nature, fire, air, water etc.

I was thinking about that today when I was sitting in my living room. Todd had run out to pick up some things needed for our company, I was done cleaning so I was relaxing with my book and listening to music. At the end of my chapter I placed my book on the coffee table and looked around the room. My eyes lingered on the art, that which was made by my own hand and that which was made by some of my favorite artists. Next to my favorite piece in the room, a Jordan Crane, is our salt lamp. I love it for the beautiful hue it casts upon the room, its warm glow makes the room feel cozy. My eye then moved to the coffee table where I found myself mesmerized by the candles flickering away in their globes. There is something entrancing about a flame right? Campfires, candle light.. I get lost in it.

When I snapped out of my trance I found I was thinking about the different elements and how balanced I feel during these workshops where my therapist goes out of her way to incorporate them. Then I realized that without being cognizant of it I had done the exact same thing in my living room. All the elements were right here in front of me, keeping me grounded, offering me balance. There is the earth on the hearth, we have a large container full of stones from all the trails we have hiked in different states while traveling. There is fire provided by all the candles around the room. Water in the form of vapor coming from the oil diffuser, the oils themselves making me more aware of the air thanks to the scent they add to the room..

You are not always consciously aware of what you need to feel grounded and balanced but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t able to still show up for yourself and make sure those needs are met. I have added these elements to the room little by little over time and without the any clear intention, I just liked each thing individually. Now here they all are making this room one of the most comforting balanced rooms in our whole home.

It is the room we spend time together as a family and where we entertain friends. It is the room where I do yoga and read and write and paint/draw. It is the room where we play and dance and laugh. It is the room where life takes place and I am grateful for all the natural goodness of the world that exists in this room.

All the Good Stuff

all-the-good-stuff

It’s been a good week. I am feeling better finally, was back at school, back at internship, was assigned my first client, and had some fun with friends and family this weekend.

School was good, I talked some about that in my last post/feminist rant. I returned to internship later in the week and was very glad to be back. I was assigned my first client and it has been an interesting couple of days navigating all that has been going on. I am really excited for the opportunity to work with this client and the family system. I am grateful for my intern supervisor’s confidence in me, I am really excited about everything that is happening at internship right now.

My intern supervisor and I were talking earlier in the week about the importance of balance. I wanted to work some extra days to make up for time lost while I was sick and she advised against it. She said that once I have a more steady case load I will end up spending more time at internship with documentation etc and she does not want me to burn out early by not maintaining a proper balance, of course she is right. I took her advice and did not take the extra shifts.

This morning I rolled over to my two babies cuddling each other fast asleep and I was thankful to be home with them and not somewhere else. Todd and I spent the day straightening up a bit and in the evening our friends came over with their dog and we watched college football.

The best part was the dogs, they were hilarious. Our friends have a chocolate lab that is about Lucy’s age and size, the dogs had never met before. The wrestled, they played tug, they ran in the back yard. By the end of the evening both dogs were covered in each other’s drool.

It was a normal week, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing over the top.. Yet here I sit with a full heart overflowing with gratitude. Sometimes I am still in awe that this is my life, I get to have all of this and more. There is so much love, so much joy, so much simple goodness. A life that was once fear, and shame, and insecurities is now packed with all the good stuff and I do not take that for granted.

It is going to be a good fall, followed by a good winter, and a good start to a great new year – I can just feel it.

I can just feel it.

I Owe You Nothing

owe-you

Guess what kind of post this is going to be…

Before I get started I would like to take a moment and go back to yesterday’s post about how I think it is important for clinicians who want to do therapeutic work to do their own work first or at the same time.. Here’s the thing, after I wrote that post I thought about for the rest of the day. Something wasn’t quite sitting right with me about it. So I just wanted to circle back and say again that I recognize not all clinicians do their own work, that does not mean they are going to be bad at their jobs or harm their clients in anyway. This post was born from a discussion that took place in a class. When talk of therapy came up, once again some people had a negative attitude towards the idea and that really does baffle me. Anyway, sometimes I write a post in my emotional voice because something has hit a nerve, I am not going to stop doing that – in fact the post I am about to write will absolutely be in my emotional voice. What I will do though is continue to process whatever it is that set me off in the first place because sometimes when we (I) are/am emotional and reacting to that we (I) get it wrong. And when I get wrong I like to circle back and say so. I absolutely feel the way I feel about the topic, I stand by the post in terms of it being my opinion on the matter. I wanted to be clear though that my opinion is just that, my own opinion.

So, my emotional feminist voice will be writing this post. My super awesome feminist friend at school wore a shirt yesterday that I loved. On the back it said, I owe you nothing. She said she wore specifically for me, I loved it. Loved loved loved. What is funny is that it turns out that was the exact message/reminder I needed later in the night.

I was in groups class, the topic of group was transference/counter transference, and towards the end of group the person who had us perform the sexist activity a few weeks prior put out a question to the group that had nothing to do with the topic of group. He was talking about how he was called sexist in his last internship over something he said and he wanted the group to validate for him that he is a nice guy (his exact word was chivalrous) and not in fact sexist. He looked right at me and even called me out about it, like he wanted my input. Um Nope. I am not touching that buddy.

  1. He was attempting to derail group and I was not going to help. That was not relevant and I thought it would be unfair to the two students co-facilitating to help him hijack their group. (Although in real life, this type of thing totally happens in groups, it has happened to me when I have co-facilitated groups in the past).
  2. Most importantly though, I don’t owe you anything dude. Just because I have been identified as a feminist does not mean it is my job to teach you about it.
    1. It is not my job to protect your frail masculinity. Oh no, someone called you out and now you need a woman to reassure you that you are actually a nice guy. Um, No thanks. Not interested.
    2. It is not my job to teach you shit. You could go read a book, or talk to a professor, or discuss it in supervision, or google that shit. But me being a woman does not mean that I am your walking encyclopedia on how to not offend women. Get real!
    3. I don’t owe you an answer. I do not have to talk to you if I do not want to. Just because you ask a question does not mean I owe you an anything. I am not required to engage with anyone I do not want to. Ever. Under any circumstances. Period.

Needless to say I gave him nothing. No acknowledgement, no answer, nothing. Two other women were clearly triggered and bit on that line. They schooled him on the bullshit idea of chivalry and how Yes, that was sexist. Then one of the facilitators even chimed in and that is how group ended. In a blaze of glory, completely off topic. Oh well, that is how groups go sometimes I guess.

Side note, I was triggered by what this guy  said no doubt. This illustrates my point about the importance of doing your own work though. When I am triggered, because it is going to happen, I realize it almost immediately and then I have a choice to make. I can choose whether or not to react to my trigger. Because I am doing my work through therapy and by having this blog as a way to release some of this stuff, I feel like I have better control over that which triggers me. That is not always going to be the case I recognize, sometimes your triggers sneak up on you and you are reacting to them before you even realize what is going on but I do feel more grounded thanks to the working I am doing on myself for myself.

And that is the end of that rant.

The Double Standard

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Last summer when I started my journey back into myself through therapy one of the last questions I asked my therapist before hiring her was, are you currently in therapy? Her answer to that question had a huge weight on my decision to work with her or not. Her answer was yes.

During one of our first sessions the topic of therapists in therapy came up. I believe that if a person wants to do therapeutic counseling as a career they should either be seeing a therapist at the same time or have seen one in the past (I prefer the former though personally). The bottom line is we all have emotional work to do and I think some therapists try to ignore that fact. They try to put themselves in higher position than their clients, they are the expert, they do not need help themselves. I call that denial.

My therapist during this session I referenced was saying how she was impressed that I asked about her being in therapy when we first talked. She said that when people in her personal life come to her for advice about choosing a therapist that is the very question she tells them to ask. She says that she would never see a therapist who is not doing their own work, I agree.

Even in the program right now, so many of us are in therapy doing our own work and you can almost pick out those who are not. You can feel the difference.

The thing that has always been baffling to me is the double standard that exists in this field as well as many other helping professions about seeking out therapy. There is something kind of shamey about it, like this feeling of, you have no business being a therapist because you are just as screwed up as the people you are wanting to help. News flash: WE ARE ALL SCREWED UP. Get off your high horse, no one makes it through life with out emotional bruising, and scarring, and worse. That IS the human condition. I want a therapist who is not in denial and who is making them self a priority, we all need to be modeling that behavior for our clients.

Side note: this rant has classist undertones and I know it. There are many clinicians and aspiring future clinicians who are not in an economic position that allows them to spend the money on their own therapy. I am not trying to shame anyone here, I am just saying that for me this piece is important. Really important. And some clinicians who can afford it still do not do it because of the double standard.

So let’s get back to that double standard for a moment.. How is it that a person can go through all the energy of becoming a therapist and not actually believe in therapy themselves? I want to be a therapist but I do not believe in going to therapy. OR worse:.I think therapists who go to therapy are broken in some way and should not be practicing.

I am putting a lot of words in a lot people’s mouths right now, I see that. I making broad generalizations about attitudes felt towards clinicians who are in therapy themselves. Let’s be real, there is a whole middle area. In that middle area there are therapists who do not go to therapy but think no less of those who do. There are therapists in therapy that judge other therapists for doing exactly what they are doing themselves. This, like everything, exists on a spectrum. (If there is only one thing you ever take away from my blog it will be the idea of the gray area).

My truth is though that I have experienced some weird energy around my admission to being in therapy. I am not at all in any way in the closet about being in therapy. It is the best gift I have ever given myself and I refuse to feel shame about this amazing thing that is changing my life and helping me in a way I have never ever been helped before. Still, when someone says, Hey can you get together this day at this time to go over this project, and I say Sorry I have therapy at that time, I can do this time. I have definitely seen the other person squirm. And when in class we talk about self-care and I share that this is part of how I do self-care the class go silent like I just admitted I am a leper or something.

It is time for this to be normalized, for it not only to be acceptable but expected and encouraged. Some of my professors have straight up told me that when they were in college they had to go therapy, it was expected of them because counter transference is real and you need to work your stuff out before you go out and try to work with vulnerable populations, especially if the work you want to do is therapeutic in nature.

What I can tell you is that sense being in therapy and being so open about it I have noticed a shift at school. For example, the class where I disclosed that therapy is part of my self-care – the next week two more students disclosed the same thing – the week after, three more shared they were in therapy as well. In these classes we are there to learn from our professors but we are also there to support each other while we are on this last leg of our schooling. I am glad that we as a cohort are able to be more open with each other, and in turn decrease the stigma around asking for help.

There is so much stigma around mental health issues, how is that going to change if the clinicians who should be advocating for their clients are partially responsible creating that stigma. If we are judging our colleagues for seeking out help we are feeding the flame of stigma around mental health issues, because our colleagues are clients as well. If we cannot advocate for ourselves, for our colleagues, how can we do it for our clients?

On an airplane they tell you before take off that in case of emergency put on your own oxygen mask before helping your neighbor with theirs. That is all this is. Trauma, and conflict, and family issues, and relationship issues, and mental health issues are all part of the human experience. So we, as clinicians, need to be modeling the behavior for our clients. We need to be putting on our masks before we try to help them with theirs. AND we need to stop doing it in the shadows. My openness about being in therapy is one small step I take in my commitment to break down the stigma around mental health and seeking out help in general.

A Case for Personal Therapy in Counselor Education

Girl Seeks Friend

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As I was looking for the perfect something to go along with this post that will wrap up all my sentiments I found so many perfect quotes by Paulo Coelho. Of course I did, I mean The Alchemist c’mon. As an aside, if you are a soul in search of something – it does not matter what it is- read The Alchemist. It is life changing.

So here are a few I loved and give me courage to write the words I need to write on this..

“If you are brave enough to say good-bye, life will reward you with a new hello.”

“Important encounters are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other.”

“You will never be able to escape from you heart so it is better that you listen to what it has to say.”

“There will always be a reason why you meet people. Either you need to change your life or you are the one that will change theirs.”

And my personal favorite that I use as a mantra so often in life..

“When you want something all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”

 

Thank you Paulo for making this post easier to write.

I have written here and there about the transition that comes along with the stage of life I am currently in. Something I have deliberately left out because it felt a bit too raw to share is that the transition can be painful, and has been for me.

In my mid-twenties I had a few cherished female relationships I knew I could depend on. They were different from each other but they all added value to my life and I felt confident at the time I was adding value to theirs. Since then we have all moved in different directions and that is okay, there is absolutely no love lost. At some point I stopped growing together with these women and started growing separately, not better or worse, just my own way. The part I don’t discuss is how much I miss the companionship though.

I have my soul friends who I love dearly and hold close, those relationships all bring value to my life and look different as well. It does still feel like something is missing though.

My best friend was someone I could tell anything to. The last time two times we made plans they were cancelled. Last fall (I think) we made plans to meet for brunch. I had started my trauma recovery therapy a few months prior and I was struggling. I had Todd but I needed a friend. There is a part of my healing I do not discuss, a few parts really, and I needed to talk about it with someone. This friend has her own trauma story and I knew she would be an empathetic ear and the emotional support I needed. When we made the plans I told her how excited I was to see her and that I wanted to talk to her about my therapy, she was all in. The morning before our plans she texted me to let me know she had invited a friend of hers that I had never met before.

I immediately texted her back and said I wasn’t comfortable with that. I had not seen her in months and knew that I would not feel comfortable talking about these deeply personal topics in front of a stranger. She then texted me back apologizing but in the end we decided to cancel. She did not feel comfortable uninviting the friend, which I understand, but I knew I was not in good place emotionally and would not be able to show up socially the way I need to with a new acquaintance. That was me showing up for myself and being honest about how I felt and what my needs were.

We never rescheduled and I battled through my emotional crisis with my therapist and Todd supporting me. The truth is though, I really wish I had that female companion too. I needed someone who gets it to help me normalize everything in a way that my therapist and husband just couldn’t.

Fast forward to this spring new plans were made and then cancelled. I did not hear from my friend for about 6 months and she did not hear from me. So she had no idea I was in the struggle of my life with myself and my demons. And I had no idea she was in crisis as well. She and I were going to get together one weekend, the plans were made far in advance. As the weekend approached I found that I was once again in emotional crisis, that has happened a lot while in therapy. She called a few days before our plans and I was so excited to see her number pop up, I really needed to hear her voice and reassuring words. A moment into the conversation it was me who was offering reassurance though. She was in crisis. The friend she had invited to brunch 6 months ago had soon after become her roommate and this roommate was making her hate going home. It was everything from the girl not paying rent to taking her food.. My friend owns her home but felt unable to evict the girl out of guilt, it sounded like lots of boundary issues from what I was hearing. My friend was calling to cancel our plans. She was in the midst of a deep depression and just did not feel up to it. I understood and was grateful for her honesty, I was not doing well either and did not feel I could handle another person’s crisis at the time. We were not going to be able to support each other even if we wanted to.

Soon after she informed me via text that she did evict her roommate. I was glad for her. I know that was hard. Since then I know a lot had been going on her life, and a lot has been going on in mine. We have never rescheduled. It has been over a year since I last saw my best friend.

As someone who was not fortunate enough to grow up with sisters I have always valued the female relationships in my life. Now I know some of you who have sisters are probably rolling your eyes at me, I get it, sibling relationships are HARD! I am a woman who needs other women though. I have always had a best girlfriend, a confidant, a bosom friend. Someone who was in the same place in life as me and had similar ideals/interests and who made me feel understood in a way that only another woman could.

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I love the woman I have been writing about for the majority of this post. She is electric. She is fire. She something to behold and anyone who has the good fortune to be invited into her life should count themselves lucky. We have had no falling out, I still look forward to seeing her at some point in the future. I do know it will be different though because it is different. We are different. I am different.

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For months I have been putting the intention out into the universe to send me my bosom friend for the next chapter of my life. There so many awesome women on the periphery of my life right now and I wonder about so many of them, are you my person? Are you seeking something too? I feel like that is a really important part of puzzle, the seeking. It is like what Rumi says, What you are seeking is seeking you. In order for this friendship to be balanced the other person has to be seeking as well. As I believe that all good things happen in an organic way I have been hands off with these relationships hoping that they will develop in exactly the way they are meant to without manipulation. In the mean time my heart is still seeking.

I long for the feeling of understanding. I long for closeness that can only exist in a female relationship. The kind of closeness where I do not have to explain the details of each emotion because you know that feeling and you feel it too. I have never been disillusioned about relationships. You cannot expect to get everything you need from one person, that is why friends exist. My therapist cannot be everything for me and they shouldn’t be. My husband cannot be everything for me, and he shouldn’t be. My bosom friend, whoever they may be, can’t either and they shouldn’t be. My relationships being successful and feeling balanced depends on all of these relationships as well as the relationship I have with myself.

I have definitely felt a hole in my heart for a while, it comes from the transition I am in and I know it. Being aware of why it exists does not help fill it though. I do not just miss this female companionship when I am in crisis either. I miss it on a good day when my husband is sweet and I want to share that joy with another woman who is experiencing it in her relationship too and gets it. I miss it when I want to talk about the future and children with another women who is thinking about those things too. I just miss it. I miss my friend but more so I miss the space she filled in my life. I love her and wish her well as she travels on in her life. As that door closes and I say farewell I am so ready for what and who comes next.

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Intellectual Property

Before I started the social work undergrad program I had to finish up some required prerequisites, math, science, English, and a few electives. It was much less painful than I had imagined it being when I was working not wanting to return to school. I particularly liked the science courses and the electives, I took all sociology electives.

One of my sociology professors stood out from the rest. He was a retired PhD from a northern school. He was an activist, and an author, and the equivalent to my Morrie – if you have ever read Tuesdays with Morrie. It was a diversity class and he was constantly challenging us, it was amazing. He is to credit for my becoming a volunteer and becoming active in many different organizations. He strongly encouraged us to be involved in what is going on around us, as a volunteer, an activist, an advocate, in any way we can.

Every week when I went to his class it was like going to church, his words were wise and came from a place of pain and experience. I am forever grateful that we crossed paths if only briefly, he had an enormous impact on me.

One class I, towards the end of the semester, I remember him warning us about going off to university and not getting our full experience and/or being taken advantage of by our professors. This sounds weird, especially that last part, I know. I never fully put together what he was saying either, until grad school. His words ring in my ears now, I finally understand the message fully.

He was talking about our professors being more concerned about Publish or Perish than teaching us and being engaged. Personally I have had some outstanding professors that I am honored to be learning from, I have seen and heard some of what my Morrie was talking about though.

At the grad level the entire experience feels less personal. In undergrad I had a professional relationship with the director of the program and felt acknowledged and encouraged in the work I was doing. Maybe I was a bit spoiled by that because you certainly do not get that at grad level. I believe the director knows who I am, she and I sat on a quarterly meeting together when I was in undergrad. Now there is no reason for us to interact though.

Even the advisers feel standoffish at the grad level though which surprised me. I have tried on multiple occasions to meet with my adviser and they all but refuse. They will do everything in their power to handle the issue outside of the office. That is fine I guess, they have a lot of students to manage and I recognize that. Over all though the cold reception from the admin office does make the program feel less personal than the undergrad program.

The longer I am a student the more I am getting to see behind the curtain of academia as well. There certainly does seem to be pressure to do research and publish your findings in order to be relevant, and being relevant is clearly very important. Seems like a lot of pressure and almost competition. The energy around Publish or Perish is tense for sure.

A professor who I deeply admire from undergrad strongly encouraged a colleague and myself to not only publish our findings from the community research we were doing last year but also to consider staying in school past the grad level. It all seemed exciting at the time but looking back at it, that path is not for me. Not at this point in my life at least. The reason to take that path is if you want a career in academia, as it stands now that is not my focus. I could maybe see myself being an adjunct in retirement but right now I want to be hands on practicing.

Another observation I have made sense being back in school full-time is the importance of protecting your intellectual property. I have even considered it at times when I write in this blog. Most of what I write is personal but on occasion I branch out a bit and what is stopping someone from taking my brain work and claiming it as their own?

I have seen this very thing happen at school, and have personally experienced it on more than one occasion. You share an idea with another person and next thing you know they have shared it with the class without giving you credit. This may seem like a small offense but it the tip of the iceberg on a much larger problem. What if that person instead of sharing the idea with the class decided to go and construct an entire research project off of your idea and then published it? It is their work, sure, but your idea.

So yeah, I guess my take away from what my Morrie told me so many years ago is that academia can be a very cut throat environment. I want to believe that no one is being this way intentionally, I think there is just a lot of pressure to perform.  It doesn’t fell good though I can tell you that. I also see where ethics are of the utmost importance in order to keep from having situations where a person’s intellectual property is being used without their permission.Talk about dog eat dog.

Making Sickness Less Suck

I am on day 6 of being ill and I am finally feeling like I am turning a corner. I did miss a lot this week though because of this virus. I missed 3 classes and all three days of internship, I am not thrilled about any of that. What can you do though? Sometimes your body needs a break.

Being sick is not fun for many reasons. I feel like I can’t do anything, I get stir crazy. By day three of my illness I started getting creative. I could not tolerate another day of laying in bed/on the couch.

Over the past three days I have created multiple different cuddle spots around the house from pillow forts to inflating the blow up mattress in front of the living room TV. Sometimes just a change of scenery can make all the difference when you are sick. Plus you are never too old to make a tent out of dining room chairs and sheets.

Other things that have made this illness less suck: coloring, essential oils, drawing, assorted teas, and Harry Potter! There was a Harry Potter marathon last weekend the first day I was sick and later that day Todd ordered me the entire book series because he had a bookstore member discount he needed to use before it expired. They came yesterday and it made my day!

I am thankful to finally have some of my energy back, although I also know that means it is time to deconstruct all of my cuddle spots and clean the house. It was fun while it lasted, how often can you say that about being sick?

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Bed Wetters, It is Not a Love Story

You can be known for many things, good and bad. I am known to cry when watching TV, to be very artistic, to go on feminist rants, and for avoiding goofy hand shakes at all costs. I am also known to have terrible hearing. True story.

If you are trying to talk to me and there is a lot of background noise chances are I will not be able to hear you. Do not bother trying to tell me a secret, I cannot hear whispers at all. My TV is always to loud, same with my radio. And in general in life I mishear a lot of what people say, no mumbling please.

This story speaks specifically to that last piece. I am constantly mishearing people and having to ask them to repeat themselves. Sometimes I don’t though because I know what I heard is 10 times funnier than whatever was actually said. Case in point, Todd and I were checking out at the grocery yesterday and the young man bagging our groceries was chatting us up. He was telling us about this book he is writing, whether he is actually writing a book or not is completely irrelevant because the conversation was hilarious, this guy had a lot of personality. He asked us what the title of his book should be, I said well I guess that would depend on the subject. He then said, Bed wetters, but it is not a love story. Todd and I both started laughing. I knew I had heard him wrong but the way he said it would have been funny no matter what the subject was, I just laughed a little harder because of what I heard. He then describes his two main characters, Gerge (not George, he was very clear about this. Gerge, pronounced Jerj. ) and Rain his love interest. I then teased him, Oh but it’s not a love story.. He joked back and forth with Todd and I as he bagged up the last of our items and we wished him luck as we left.

When we were walking to the car I asked Todd, what did he say before but it’s not a love story? Vampires, Todd told me. I told him what I had heard and we both started laughing again. My version of the book would have been waaaay funnier and more interesting than his I think. I mean there are a million stories about vampires out there but none that I can think about the misadventures of bed wetters. I should totally write that story, and for the record, mine would be a love story.

 

 

Hey guess what folks, as I was looking for some kind of funny picture to capture the essence of this post (I kinda wanted a guy and a girl with pee spots on their pants holding hands) I found this! Apparently the story does already exist after all. Ah well, that saves me from having to write it. Which is good, I should be writing a paper for class if I have the extra time to write I guess.

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There is No Box for That

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Tonight I made a political pollster’s job a little more difficult, unintentionally of course. They called to get all my yes and no answers about why I will or will not be voting for whoever so stats can be drawn up in one party or another’s favor. The problem was I apparently did not fit into their boxes neatly which meant I wasn’t playing by the rules.

It was obvious to me that the caller was working for Trump’s campaign. All the questions were bias in his favor. The questions put Hillary in a bad light and tried desperately to remove him from that same lighting. Some of the questions I know the caller probably had to put a N/A next to or skip all together because they were too black and white. They only gave me two choices, bad or worse, and I know those are not my only choices. The poor pollster, on more than one occasion said, Um ma’am there is no option for that. I was thinking, that is not surprising. For example, she asked my party affiliation and gave me the option of Dem, Rep, and Ind. Well officially I am registered as No Party Affiliation so that is my answer, I am sorry the survey did not account for me but it does not change my answer, that is how I am registered.

Where it really got dicey was in the demographic information. She wanted me to pick a religion, that is definitely not applicable for me but of course that was not a box she could check. Sorry, does not change my answer. The next question was how often do I attend church, Um never.

This country wants to divide us into these boxes but the truth is I wonder how many of us actually fit? I am not religious, my spirituality cannot be defined, I am not affiliated with any political party, just because I am not voting for Trump does not automatically mean I am voting for Clinton, doesn’t mean I am not either. I do not consider myself conservative, moderate, or liberal.

This is turning into another post about embracing the gray area which makes sense I guess because this blog is about a person’s life, mine, and that is exactly where life takes place.

The pollster was very sweet given that I was probably a bit of an aggravation. I wondered about her as I answered her questions. Who is this mystery woman? Does she work for Trump’s campaign like I think or some other third party polling agency? What does she think of me, what do my answers tell her, what picture is she coloring in her head of me right now? Or does she even care, maybe this is just a paycheck? I wonder what deductions she is able to make about the people who live in our country thanks to the kind of work she does. One moment she is on a call with a no party affiliated woman who can’t give her a straight answer, the next maybe a republican voting for Hillary, or a Latina voting for Trump. Do others play by the rules and allow her to place them in a box, even if does not fit quite right? It is all very curious I think.

Faking It

I am on day four of the inner body germ war, my immune system has been fighting a losing battle but I think today might be the day they get their act together and kick this germ’s butt once and for all! Here’s hoping anyway.

Day four of being ill also means day four of not getting out of bed for more than 10 minutes at a time. My hair, true to form, is now officially freaking out, this photo sums up what I am working with:

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I am also starting to forget what fresh air smells like. Maybe I will muster up enough energy to move my laying from the bed to the hammock later.. I don’t know though, seems like a lot of work.

Four days of laying in bed also results in a lot of time to think. Don’t be fooled though, not all thoughts rolling around up there are diamonds. My brain goes from profound to rotten potatoes pretty easily. My latest musing falls somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, maybe leaning a bit nearer to rotten potatoes.

I read something today about how women at parties who appear deeply interested in something a man is saying are putting on a show essentially. It was snarky, and is an example of the kind of feminist humor I am not really into. I am not into feminism that assumes all men are trying to oppress gender minorities. I am not into extremes in general. It did get me thinking though. It made me think about faking it, whatever it is.

I have faked all kinds of stuff in my life. Orgasms (the title of this post is laden with innuendo so I wanted to get that one out of the way first), interest in what someone is saying, being happy, being nice, bravery, and a whole slew of other emotions and actions connected with emotions, relationships, etc.. etc.. etc..

The question is why?

Because I have been programmed from a very young age to put other’s feelings and needs before my own.. You know, I was going to write a whole list of reasons for why I personally do this/have done this in the past, and why we as a larger society fake it, but what else is there to list really?

I think part of it is fear but what is behind that fear? I want to draw a red arrow up to what I just said. The fear comes from the fact that I have been programmed to believe that I am not allowed to put my feelings and needs before those of others. I have been more concerned with not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings or other related negative repercussions but have given zero consideration to how faking it makes me feel.

I once faked a friendship for years, even though I knew less than six months in that this relationship was not good for me, all because I was worried about how my leaving the relationship would make the other person feel. The result of faking it: I was miserable!

Faking orgasms in order to spare someone’s feelings has resulted in my needs not being met and me feeling let down.

Faking being happy or nice  or any other emotion when I am not actually feeling that way results again in me feeling miserable.

I wish I could end this post with a exclamation of emotional freedom, I will no longer fake it!! That is not how this post is going to end though. I certainly start each day with the intention of being as authentic as possible and showing up for myself 100% of the time but I know from experience it is not realistic. In order to exist in a world with other people and actually get along with these other people, I may have to fake it sometimes.

Now, how I will try to balance that truth is by not ignoring the voices that pop up in my head that I cannot express outwardly. For example, if someone is being an absolute jerk I may choose to confront that with kindness and understanding when there may be a piece of me on the inside that really just wants to tell the person where to go shove it. I will not ignore that piece. I will validate her on my own time. I guess the exclamation I will make to close this post out is I will no longer fake it with myself!!

I am definitely at a point in my life where I will not entertain fake relationships or orgasms, but I also recognize I may not be able to show up 100% real with the outside world all the time. I will absolutely have the intention of doing that with myself though, because all of my pieces, bitchy and otherwise, deserve to be heard.

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Autumn Blues

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It is time for my 4th annual I hate Florida because we don’t get change of season post. If you have been following my blog long enough you have probably been anticipating it, it comes every year right around September/October when pumpkin spice everything comes back, friends in other states start posting about cooler weather, and I see photos of leaf change pop up on my feed.

Every year it is the same thing for me, complain about the heat in summer while rejoicing in the rain, wail and moan about my not getting to experience autumn, long for snow in winter and then visit Chicago long enough to realize Florida winters are waaayyy better, and then feel like the luckiest human on the planet to be experiencing the beautiful weather between late February-late April. I am very effected by the weather/season change – or in Florida’s case, lack thereof.

I have felt my autumn blues coming for a few weeks now.

Last year Todd and I took so many trips north in the fall that I had virtually no Autumn blues, I was singing a much different tune actually. We stayed in a beautiful cabin with Lucy in the mountains, picked apples, drank cider, played in a river, built camp fires, had smores, hiked.. A month later we were in D.C. seeing the sights, reliving our honeymoon, and taking in the outstanding weather. There was nothing to cry about last year, except for having to come home of course.

This year there will be no trips. No trips in the fall, no trips to Chicago in the winter. I am in internship and time just does not allow. While I am sad that I am stuck in Florida missing out on the change of seasons this fall I am actually kind of looking forward to having Christmas at home. This will be Todd and I’s first Christmas at home together, our first year to make our own traditions.

As my autumn blues really start to set in I will dream about our trip planned for next fall, enjoy little things like carving pumpkins, and hope for cooler weather.

 

 

I will Paint my House Gray and I will Live in it

I have been sick for a few days and unfortunately I was not feeling any better today. I am hoping the clouds will part and tomorrow will be the day I no longer feel like a germ, I have internship and do not want to miss out on hours. My Dad decided to pay me a visit today, he heard I had been under the weather. It was nice to have company surprisingly, being sick alone is no fun, being sick with someone you like to talk is a little better.

He actually just called to check in on me as I was writing this. Dad’s are pretty great.

While we were visiting Dad was asking me about internship and we were sharing insights to this and that. My internship, in a round about way, is relevant to my dad’s own work experience. Something he said really struck me, I am almost laughed because I have been writing so much about it lately. I had been talking about person-in-environment approach indirectly and how important it is to have context for what you are seeing and hearing when working with a client. I was also talking about not falling into extreme perspectives, specifically as it pertains to the population I am working with. For example, some people I have encountered view this population as dangerous while others see them as pitiable objects. Those are two vast extremes and neither are going to help you work with the client effectively.

While we were talking about this and he was relating similar experiences in his own career he mentioned there was a reason he and I do not fall into these extremes, because we are realists.

I just looked him, a smirk on my face. My dad knows better than almost anyone how much of an idealist I am so it struck me as funny that he would call me a realist, even though I am in my own way when it is appropriate. I am all things mixed up together, most of us are, especially those of us who embrace the AND, that scary gray area. I am an idealist, and a realist, and a cynic.. etc.

gray-house

So I listened with curious intrigue as he elaborated his point. Now I am not well as I mentioned so my recall skills are fuzzy. I do not remember exactly what he said but the overarching point he made is that we, he and I, understand that people are made up of a lot of things and that they are capable of making choices, and that we know we should never be working harder for our clients than our clients are willing to work for themselves. It was all about being sensible and having good boundaries and judgment. Yes, if this is what my Dad calls realism than I absolutely fit that definition.

 

It is interesting because in recent months my Dad, knowingly or not, has really been challenging the way I see myself. First his remark about me being brave that threw me for a loop and now calling me a realist.. It is interesting to see yourself through someone else’s eyes for a moment.

There is a lot I am thankful for as I lay in bed finishing up this post. I am grateful to not only have Dad that will make impromptu house calls when I am sick, but to have a Dad at all, some people don’t. I am grateful for the relationships I have with both of my parents. I am grateful that even at 30+ years old they worry I am sick. I am grateful for time to rest and heal when my body needs it. I am grateful for my access to medicine and healthy food to nourish and heal me. I am grateful for a sweet dog who will not leave my side when she knows something is off. I am grateful for recognizing that all the best, truest parts of life and who we are exist in the gray area.

I am grateful for all that I have and hope the universe will smile upon me and let all this rest I have given myself be enough to get through the rest of the week.