You had me at Circuitous

vegetable-isle

This morning hubs and I went early to the grocery. We wanted to beat the crowds and get this errand out of the way for the day. We have a routine at the store, he hits the deli for the stuff he wants, I go straight for the produce section and wander. He gets the dairy, I get the grains, and then we are out the door by way of the tea isle in case anything interesting is on sale.

Today we were not in sync. We did not follow our routine and I cannot even tell you why. He was in grains and I was wandering in canned vegetables, we were all over the place. Then Madonna came on and I was dancing in the paper good isle while he tried to ignore me and select the perfect plastic storage bag.

Finally I found my way to the produce section where he later joined me. He approached me somewhat disgruntled and interrupted my apple inspecting to comment on how I chose the most circuitous route around the grocery, or something to that effect, I honestly stopped listening after circuitous. I put down the Granny Smith, gave him my full attention (at this point he began to smile because he knew what was coming), and said I love you so hard I would marry you all over again right here, right now, in the middle of the produce section. He just laughed, we kissed, and finished our shopping.

Weep — Everyday Poet

My face contorts, twisting muscle, pulling skin – tears again A familiar posture – SURVIVAL, then pain, then muscle memory. Maybe bending my brows and pursing my cheeks will alter reality Or perhaps offer salve. They travel- tear to eyes- face to heart and back again. Temporary agony. I know. Brief, I’m certain. But deep. […]

via Weep — Everyday Poet

 

I was scanning my Reader while on a break from writing a paper this afternoon and found this emotional gem from my dear poetic friend. I felt compelled to share it as it so completely illustrates with words how I have been feeling recently. She is right, these moments of emotional fall out may be brief but they also can feel all consuming. I am always amazed how she is able to capture with words so vividly something  that I personally understand but would never fully have words for. As always I am in awe my friend. Thank you for this, the stinging imagery makes me feel connected to our fragile humanity on a greater level.

 

 

I Will Follow You

I’m tired and my soul is weary from the unrelenting heaviness of the last few weeks, however I don’t think I would fall into a restful sleep if I ended the night on the last post that I wrote. I feel the need to balance those feelings with something lighter. With that I will report briefly on a text message I received Friday that made my entire week.

I was wrapping up at internship, finishing up some documentation, when my hUbs sent me a text message asking me when school starts up again in January. I responded and then asked him why. I had a slight uneasiness that his answer would be because someone was coming to visit and stay with us at the beginning of the year. Please don’t misunderstand me, I love when our friends and family come and stay with us. With that being said, I also know that I am in desperate need of the break that will come between semesters and I just don’t know that entertaining company will give me the break that I truly need.

The response that he sent me got me completely off-guard. He wanted to know because he was considering planning a trip for us over winter break. We had toYes with the idea In passing not long ago, but I in no way thought we were serious. This was the absolute best news I could have possibly received from him.

Not long after this text message exchange I left internship and gave him a call on my way home. We talked back and forth about what he had been thinking and once I got home we talked some more and began brainstorming together.

Right now the idea is still being painted with very broad Strokes. We are thinking the city like Austin or going back to DC possibly. We are also toying with the idea of winter in the mountains.

Honestly I’m just so thrilled that he wants to take me away that I don’t feel too particular about the destination. It’s so unexpected and so welcome I feel like I could be happy anywhere. I kind of like that we don’t have something specific in mind too, it adds a level of adventure to the whole thing. We’re just going to randomly decide to go and explore somewhere. That sounds absolutely amazing right now.

So that is my little bit of news that is a bit lighter. As always I’m grateful for the balance in my life. I’m particularly grateful for the balance that my sweet partner brings to my life. I haven’t been overly vocal about the heaviness I’m feeling because some of it I kind of want to just process on my own. But even in that I think he has picked up on it and maybe somehow he knew I needed this. I’m just really grateful, I don’t think I can say much more than that.

Where..

alex-diamond

When I was searching for something to color this post with this piece by Alex Diamond stood out to me because it kind of represents how I am feeling in a way I have trouble expressing with words..

A few weeks ago someone I used to know went missing. For weeks there has been this feeling of fog.. Where did he go? and now that where has morphed into a different where, the where is now, Where can I talk about this?

I learned today that it has been confirmed that he has passed. He was missing for weeks before this news finally broke. I know everyone had hoped for a different outcome. My heart is heavy for his people. My heart is also especially heavy for him.

I am processing this here for two reasons: one, because I do not know how to talk to anyone in my life about it and two, because even if I did – I don’t want to.

This person was a friend of an ex. I knew him on a casual level for many years while I was with my ex. It has been close to a decade since I last saw him, it was just a few months before my ex and I called it quits for good.. I still remember that encounter with him.. I was at a new years eve party at his house, our friend was in town from the military and I was stopping by before going downtown with friends for new years. After hugging me he complimented me on my perfume, he knew exactly what I was wearing, he said it had always been a favorite of his. We caught up for a few minutes and then I proceeded to spend time with my friend in the military until I left. A month or so later my ex and I ended it for good and that was the last I saw of this person.

He was on the periphery of my life even when he was in it on a regular basis. We were not close but that does not change the fact that on some level I feel a loss in this. I think I mainly feel a heaviness, a sadness for him – there are so many thoughts and feelings about this I don’t want to share.. I also feel heavy for his people, the ones who loved him fiercely and are left behind. He has a child, that part really hurts my heart.

This is such a difficult thing to process because the truth is my heart is hurting with the news of his passing but how do you explain that to anyone? It is like when you find out someone you knew in high school and interacted with but were not too close with passed in a car accident (which has happened on more than one occasion).. You feel the weight of that loss but where do you go to process those feelings? Will anyone understand?

So here are a few things I would like to get out about this..

He was funny. I remember a million years ago when I very first met him I was sitting on our friend’s back porch with him.. He was a musician, and he was playing something but he kept messing up on this one part and every time he would mess up he would say Damn it Jim! The thing is, his name was not Jim. He did this two or three times and finally I asked him, are you saying Jim? He was so lost in his own musical world I don’t know that he had even acknowledged that someone else was sitting out there smoking a cigarette. He looked up and paused and then laughed as he explained that whenever he gets frustrated with himself that is something he does. I laughed too. I had caught him in this totally honest, quirky, authentic moment.. I am glad I have that memory of him.

I remember his most in the context of him being the boyfriend of his ex-girlfriend. I was a girlfriend in that group as well and spent more time with the other girlfriends than the actual guys my then boyfriend was friends with. His girlfriend was special. There was something kind of mysterious about her, something very real. I admired her very much and even before I knew him too well I remember thinking he must be pretty special too because you would have to be to be with this girl. As I got to know him better I understood on a very small removed level why they worked. I remember feeling sad when I learned that they had not worked out because I had liked them both separately and together.

I do not know any specifics about his departure from this world and I absolutely do not want to. That is so personal, I think that is for his people to hold. It is sacred. Through the information that was being shared when he was missing it did mention suicide risk though which is also part of the heaviness sitting on my heart.

I hope his soul is able to rest and feel peace. I hope his people, especially his child, are able to find comfort. It still does not feel real and I am sure the closer you get to his inner circle the truer that statement becomes.

I am sending each one of you love and light, especially you JW. I don’t think a person ever truly knows the ripple effect their life can have on so many others. You were a sweet soul and I have gratitude that your path crossed mine however briefly.

loss

Star Light Star Bright

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Tonight was the big night in regards to dressing up and celebrating Halloween. Moo loved my costume, that was the only thing I cared about. I have to say that the make up I did for this costume is my favorite make up I have ever done. I smeared blue, gold, and turquoise eye shadow all around my eyes to resemble outer space and then stenciled the constellation on to my cheeks in silver eye pencil.. It was super arty and fun. Once I had the dress wrapped and fastened properly I also drew Cassiopeia onto my exposed collar bone/shoulder.

I had a lot of fun creating the costume this year and was thankful for a night of whimsy, it was much needed after a week of rough waters.

 

Social Working and Self-Care

I think my mini melt down Sunday night over gratuitous violence on TV was a precursor for what this week was bringing. It has been a heavy week. At one point my supervisor was jokingly telling me to bring in my sage and smudge the office to get rid of the bad energy.

There has been a good balance though I would say. Tuesday night the topic in group class was self-care, that was fortunate. And Wednesday we got plenty of outside time and we, the interns, even ran a few errands together. So there has been balance.

We attended an intense training around childhood sexual abuse this week, a client’s family member flew off the handle on one of our counselor (which we all knew was pure projection but I know it still didn’t feel good when it was happening), and there was just a lot of other weird things going on that added to the bad energy.

Today we all went home early so tomorrow we can come back refreshed and start preparing Halloween festivities for our clients. I am looking forward to baking with counselors tomorrow, I can’t believe I just said I am looking forward to baking.. It will be fun though.

So other ways I have personally offset some of this bad energy is by writing (obviously), going to bed early and sleeping late, eating well, getting plenty of outdoor time, spending quality time with hubs and Lu (watching the cubbies win!!), and not over doing it at internship this week.

I also reached out to a few people via email that I have been wanting to check in with. I emailed back and forth and caught up with my previous intern supervisor, she and I made plans for lunch in a few weeks. She called me clairvoyant because she said she was just getting ready to email me and check in, we are synced I swear.

I checked in with my friends at hospice, they are doing well, and I look forward to my next opportunity to see them. I also made plans with my former professor turned mentor. I will be seeing him in a few weeks. I am hoping to pick his brain about trainings and certifications, he has given me great leads in the past.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I am realizing that I am going to have to seek my learning opportunities outside of the classroom. I discovered through a conversation with my intern supervisor that the rates on some of these certifications are lowered for students. So it might actually be more affordable for me to do this within the next few months. Bring it on. We’ll see what I come up with.

In other somewhat related news.. I don’t want to count any chickens but I get the very distinct impression that I may have two different job opportunities lined up for me following graduation.. I do not know anything for sure but I caught wind of a few somethings and am waiting to see what happens. Again, I do not want to jinx anything but it would be awesome to have something lined up and not have to job hunt right out of school.

So that is where I am at right now. Still trying to take it easy this week. I am hoping the country will chill after the election and maybe the negative energy will clear as the holidays approach.. I hope.

 

Connection and Transformation

Today I was drawing in class because I am sad to report that I am learning NOTHING in this class right now and drawing seemed like a much better use of my time. Side rant about school.. I have already mentioned this briefly in passing, I am getting next to nothing out of grad school right now. They are recycling information and assignments from undergrad. I mean this very literally. I have literally already done some of these exact assignments and today for example I watched an hour long video that I watched in undergrad. I am disappointed but I digress.

So today I was drawing in class and I had this awesome idea for a new art piece that I want to work on when I have time. It will be a piece about transformation and connection. I was drawing one thing today and then recognized how using the exact same elements (shapes, line work etc) I could create a completely new object. It made me think about how everything is connected in nature and in life and the transformations all living things go through. It made me think of evolution and creation and I got super excited with this inspiration.

Right now the idea I have for the piece is still pretty abstract and maybe I will refine it a bit or maybe not and that is okay too. A lot of the stuff I paint is pretty readable and I think that speaks to a piece of me that is maybe still a bit insecure with my artistic abilities.. like if what I create isn’t readable it is not good or something. I don’t think I actually believe that though because some of my favorite artists are abstract and bizarre.

So yeah, we will see. I am pretty bummed about school right now but it is giving me opportunities to explore other things I guess.. I feel like I am doing my best to make lemonade right now.

Shadows and Reflections

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Over the summer when our soul friend was visiting she and I stayed up most of the night her first night talking about everything. I was thinking about her today while I was on campus.

There is a colleague in the program who seems to be triggering a lot of people, at one point I was included in that. I feel like once a week at least I am hearing something about him, there are lots of stories swirling around. At first I really struggled with him as well but I processed it in therapy one week and realized what the trigger was for me, since then it is much easier for me to have compassion for him. Each time someone is venting about him I encourage them to figure out what their own work is around him. We are not triggered for no reason, he is bringing us all our work and that is what this post is about.

When I am triggered I usually know it. My feminist piece shows up, or I might become more sarcastic, or I might curse more, or I get really passionate in general however that manifests.. Look at the last post I wrote before this one, it is a perfect example. I know I was triggered while writing it, you can feel the energy shift in a post like that versus a post where I am processing something from a less emotional place.

There is nothing wrong with being triggered, it happens to everyone. When it happens for me I look at it as an opportunity to do my work. For example, I may have already written about this I do not remember, with this colleague.. I processed my being triggered by him with my therapist and realized it was specifically his insecurities that I was being triggered by. I was triggered because this aspect of him showed me a piece of myself that I do not love or have a great relationship with. I am insecure too and do exactly what this guy does, I try to hide it or overcompensate in some way to make up for it.

That is how triggers work. Our triggers show us what we should be working on. If someone triggers us it has less to do with that person and more to do with us, whether we want to admit that or not is a whole other thing. When this happens it is usually time to pause and ask ourselves what is this person showing me about myself that I do not want to see right now?

triggers

This happened to me today which is why I bring this up. I was walking between classes with a colleague and this colleague was sharing the latest scandal with me about this other colleague (the one who triggers so many people). Apparently he said something that offended a lot of people, it sounds like he was passing judgement based on his own biases. She was upset about it and I was thinking to myself, that is probably where her work is.. I do understand how what happened is upsetting and offensive, I also understand that part of the reason we get upset and offended in these kinds of situations is because they remind us of pieces of ourselves we do not want to be reminded of.. Our shadow pieces..

Shadow pieces are the darker sides of ourselves people hide and try to deny they have.. They are our manipulative pieces, our jealous pieces, our judging pieces, etc.. Everyone has these pieces, some maybe larger or smaller etc but they exist in everyone and we REALLY do not like to be reminded of them which is why people like Donald Trump trigger so many people. We do not like to be reminded that we all have a little inner Donald Trump in us somewhere. Go ahead and deny it, but he is in there buried in all of us.

So for my friend I was thinking about how she might need to work on her relationship with the parts of herself that judge other people because right now those pieces are being super triggered by the judgement they witnessed this colleague pass.

This work is not super fun I am going to be honest with you. No one is super interested in getting to know their manipulative parts, most people want to deny they even exist. It is so much easier to walk around being offended and triggered and not having any ownership over it. I am not even saying there is anything wrong with it, it is how most people function and who am I to question that. I am merely pulling back a curtain to reveal something a little deeper that is there beneath the surface for anyone who is interested.

Take away from this what you want, even if it is nothing.

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Fire met with Fire

What would you get if you met fire with fire? One massive fucking fire.

Fire is not extinguished by adding more fire to it, you have to introduce a different substance.. say, water or sand..

I went to a TIC (trauma informed care) training a few weeks ago and it turned out to be.. the words I am coming up with are eye opening, but that does not feel quite right. Eye opening, yes, but not in an enlightening sort of way, more in a Holy shit I had no idea this was beneath the surface sort of way. My eyes are certainly open now, unfortunately.

The training was a refresher course on how to implement care with our population in a trauma informed way. All of our clients have experienced trauma, that is why they are with us most times. There have been times during internship where I have seen interactions take place between a client and floor staff that have left me confused.. Why is the floor staff doing x,y,z? I thought they were trauma informed.. Well this training answered the question.

You can implement a training but if a person is so buried in their own biases there is a strong possibility none of the information will permeate the surface. At one point a staff member attending the training told the trainer that our population is “lazy” and essentially needs their “butts wooped”. Apparently a “butt wooping” is the magical elixir that would fix all of our client’s problems. I thought that was an interesting perspective considering that most of our population has been severely physically abused.. I guess those “butt woopings” were not sufficient enough.. Time to double down and really beat the shit out of them, that will solve all of this.

Um.. What the actual fuck are talking about???

The training quickly devolved from defining trauma and PTSD into an opportunity for the floor staff to rant and rave about how the counseling team doesn’t know anything and how “their parents beat them and they turned out alright so that is clearly the answer”.

At one point one staff made the exclamation that we, the counseling staff, are essentially clueless because we rely on our “fancy degrees and books” whereas the floor staff has life experience.

Well that is an enormous assumption to make about entire group of people you do not know personally.

This staff has one counselor working on her unit, there were 5 other counselors (myself included) at this training she has never even met before. She looks at us all the same though.

My truth about the statement she made is that my own life experiences with trauma is what makes me uniquely qualified to work with our population. Yes, I have a degree, soon I will have multiple degrees. I got the degrees because they are necessary for me to be able to do the work I want to do. My own story and what I understand about the world because of what I have personally gone through is what will make me a successful clinician though.

But that is okay, you go ahead and make assumptions about me, you go ahead and increase the divide between counselors and floor staff.. I’ll be over here building my bridge and at some point we will find a way to work side by side with the common goal of our client’s best interest.

teach-your-children-well

I Want to Sing, and Dance, and Play.

Today I had the opportunity to see a fellow soul camper for a few minutes and it was refreshing. It was a breath of fresh air to speak candidly and openly with someone about real life, not small talk. We made plans to have dinner soon and I am looking forward to it.

This evening after class I met a friend for dinner. Not just any friend though, my very best friend from elementary school who I have not seen in 25+ years. My inner 9 year old had been looking forward to this dinner date all last week.

It was almost surreal at first. I am hugging my childhood friend again. I felt my soul dance inside my body. The conversation was great. She is just as I remember loving her and some! She is an elementary music teacher (which is a whole other post- I am somehow drawn to musical women in life) and literally said at one point; I just wanted to sing and play and dance all the time and that is exactly what I get to do, I love my job.

I was like YES!  I totally get it! How awesome to get to do the exact work you know you are called to. I am so happy for her. I feel like the universe has brought her back to me for a reason and I am so very grateful. I was so fulfilled sharing a meal with her and listening to her stories. We agreed to double date soon and make more plans just for us as well, I am very excited.

Tonight when hubs and I got home we took Lu to the park for a little while, it was a very pretty evening.

I can’t deny that I am still reeling a bit from all the violence I was exposed to yesterday. I smudged the living room hoping to release some of the energy, it helped me feel more at ease being back in this space. It is going to take more than one day to recover though and I am giving myself time.

Dis-CONNECTION

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Last night a line was drawn in the sand. It all started when I was sitting on the couch writing. My husband was watching a news program, probably 60 minutes, and the reporter began reporting a very specific violent act, I immediately told my husband to change the channel. His response, they are not showing it, which was his way of telling me not to listen and just focus on what I am doing. Okay, Yeah fine BUT I cannot completely turn my ears off AND why do we need this information? I could have gone my entire life without knowing this very specific information – it was being reported on for shock value.

Later we turned on The Walking Dead.. Anyone who watched this show and watched last night episode might already know where I am going with this based on what I just shared above..

We have been watching this show from the beginning and there are absolutely times when I have had to skip a week because the episode was too violent. When this happens Todd will usually report the highlights to me so I can be caught up for the next week while editing out the parts he knows I cannot handle. Last night was different though.

I know there are probably people who would have things to say about my objection to the level of violence portrayed and that is fine. I think we all have a line though (at least I would hope most people do) where they say Okay that’s it, too much, I am done. I only saw a few seconds of the violence the show portrayed, normally when a violent scene comes on in a show or movie I close my eyes/ears. Even the few seconds I saw though was too much. And per hubs, it only got worse so it is a good thing I left the room when I did.

Admittedly my threshold/tolerance for this kind of thing is very low, like 5 year old level. So between what I overheard on the news and the little bit I saw on the show, I was a mess and went to bed crying last night while hubs comforted me and tried to remind me of all the good in the world.

I woke up this morning and did not turn on the news. I proceeded to unfollow a lot of my political feeds on social media and am taking other steps to insulate myself from the darkness of the outside world. That’s right, I am going full on ostrich-head-in-the-sand.

I have felt the toxicity of the outside world seeping into my bloodstream for a while now, a big part of it is all the coverage of the upcoming election. And regardless of what anyone thinks about this, it is what I know I need right now. I cannot sustain going on this way. I need a break.

Sometimes we need to disconnect in order to feel connected. I think it is healthy and essential to unplug every now and then.

Every single day we are exposed to so much pain that we become desensitized, some of us less so than others maybe. I can feel my nervous system buzzing with negative vibrations and the thing I fully recognize the stuff rattling around in there does not belong to me. I have to cleanse myself.

I am no less of a feminist, or social worker, or activist, or concerned citizen, if I take a time out to take care of me. In fact truthfully, I should probably do it more often.

Do you know what happens over the weekend when we are far less likely to watch the news? The world keeps going just as it would if we were tuned in AND we get a day or two of emotional/spiritual/mental peace and rest. Self-care exists on many levels – emotional, physical, spiritual, mental, social.. So of course we (referring specifically to my hubs and I) feel rested after the weekend because we have unconsciously spoken to many self-care needs just by having this habit of less technology and news on the weekend.

In my twenties I used to love Sex and the City, I found super relatable to many of my relationship issues etc. I watched it a lot and as a result I can still quote many of the episodes. There was one episode where Carrie was meeting a man for a first date and he teased her for running late and not wearing a watch.. Carrie’s reply was a tongue in cheek comment about how she does not need a watch because finds someone will always tell her the time, which is exactly what her date had just done.. That is kind of how I feel about all of this right now. I am not going to miss some huge world event because I “stop wearing a watch” someone will let me know, I will hear about it. I do not have to subject myself to all this negativity, it is okay to unplug.

So this week I am allowing myself to do just that. I have decided to go online only to write on this blog and as needed for my internship/school. No social media though and no mindless internet time. I am taking a break from NPR in the car and instead will stick to my more soothing Pandora stations. No news this week, no violent TV shows; in fact the only TV I plan on watching is my two favorite shows which are both artistic in nature and prerecorded so I can fast forward through toxic political commercials.

We will see how I feel come Sunday. I may find that one week was enough, I may discover the disconnection felt better than the alternative and stick with it longer, we will see.

Either way this is my way of giving myself space that I need and right now that feels super important to me.

unplug

Celestial Queen

celestial

I think I may have mentioned that Moo, my niece, requested that this Halloween I dress up like a princess with her. This was a tall order for me because I pride myself on two things when it comes to Halloween costumes: never resorting to the “slutty this or that” female costume and never going princess. I do not like the stereotypes for female Halloween costumes that exist between the extremes of pure and virginal/ultra girly (princess) or naked (slutty nurse). In recent years with the latest feminist wave ideas about gendered Halloween costumes are being radically uprooted which is fabulous but when I was growing up this was not really the case.

In elementary school the costumes were hyper-feminine, I was a bunny like 3 or 4 years in a row because we were poor and I had not grown out of the costume yet, but most of my friends were princesses etc. In high school same deal, my friends who were more modest were still princesses but some of the other girls with more open minded parents started leaning away from hyper-feminine into hyper-sexualized costumes.

At the end of the day I think it is each person’s right to wear whatever makes them feel awesome, whether that is a woman in a “slutty nurse” costume or a man in that same costume. I am not here to make any judgments, only to say these traditional stereotypes have never appealed to me personally. I usually dress up as some sort of animal or some other random DIY idea.

Moo really wanted to do something together this year though and that is not something we have ever done so I was challenged to come up with a costume that met her criteria but still felt like me, AKA dressing up like a princess without dressing up like a princess. My solution to this quandary: look to the stars.

I have mentioned in previous posts how Moo and I kind of have a thing for Cassiopeia, the Greek Queen/constellation, so there it is. I painted a navy blue bed sheet to look like outer space which I will wrap as my gown, I cut out stars and painted them silver and gold with glitter, I have gold accessories and am fashioning myself a crown from an old head band.. Moo has no clue and I think she will love it.

Here is the real kicker, she was on me for weeks about this dressing up together as princesses thing and now she is more than likely going to dress up as wonder woman instead. That is absolutely fine by me. It is a 6 year old’s prerogative to change her mind. It doesn’t change my excitement for the work I put into this costume or the anticipation I feel to reveal it to her. Will share photos next week after the big reveal.

Little You and Little Me

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Something I love about my hubs (there are many somethings, this is just one) he gets my idealism. He doesn’t just get it, he thinks it’s pretty fucking great. I have explained before about the balance that occurs between us and it is a necessary balance. We are different, we think those difference are beautiful, and important, and valuable. We are also similar. I can be a realist when I feel so inclined and my sweet serious, rational, logical husband has an inner 5 year old just like me who he sometimes allows to come out and play with mine. The best part about that, little Jill and little Todd are best buds and have the greatest adventures.

This week they had a great time. They went on an adventure in a old fashioned toy store and then climbed a tree together and walked around a park smelling different kinds of roses to see which one was the sweetest. Well little Jill did most of the climbing and smelling because even little Todd is still a bit cautious but he still showed up and he still played and it was fun.

We ended our adventure at a book store which is one of our favorite past times, wandering around local book stores.

This is part of what self-care looks like for me. This is how I refill my cup. My inner 5 year old sits on the surface most of the time, waiting to come out and show people a different more pure way to see the world. It is always fun when other grown ups allow their inner 5 year olds out to play and explore too.

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Finding My Way as a Clinician

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Internship is going so well. My last internship was phenomenal, it was everything you could want out of an internship, down to my winning intern of the semester. I mean you really can’t top that right? Wrong!

I thought the reason that internship was so amazing was because it was in my wheel house. I thought, Of course I am doing well, I know how to do this stuff. I thought I was only as successful as I was because of my background knowledge, I was hesitant to give myself too much credit because I did not feel challenged enough.

Okay so here is the thing about that, I was wrong. I was wrong not to give myself credit. I was wrong not to believe in myself as a social worker, instead of just a medical worker. This internship I shoved myself as far out of my comfort zone as I could go and it is still amazing and I am still amazing and this experience is EVERYTHING! I love this population that I was once so afraid of, I love the work, I love the therapeutic aspects of the work, and I love how much space I have been given to grow as a clinician and find my own way.

This freedom has helped me realize there is something for me in art therapy. I have had so many opportunities to take out of the box approaches to therapeutic interventions and had some incredible outcomes with my clients. Today a client and I decided to paint together and low and behold 7 other clients decided to join us. It ended up being an impromptu art therapy group and it was incredible. Clients who I never would have pegged for this type of intervention walked right up and asked for paint and a brush. And not just that they really allowed themselves to be free and create.

I have to be honest, I am getting very little out of grad school right now. I love my groups class, and I am getting more foundation in theories out of my families class but ultimately these classes are not challenging me in the slightest and I am severely disappointed. I wanted more out of this experience. I know full well that I will be signing up for specialty training after I graduate, what I want to learn I will have to go out and find for myself because I am not going to get it here. Bummer. I am so excited for my next steps though. I have already started researching different certifications I am interested in. I am grateful for internship because that is where I am learning for sure.

This is such an exciting time in my social work journey. Years from now I will look back at this year as the time where I began to figure out my path. I feel myself coming into my own. I am going to pitch another idea for group this week; I love that I am in a place where I have confidence in myself as a clinician and my ideas/interventions and am supported in a way that results in success. This is a really special time and I am loving every minute of it.

Festival Season

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October brings with it so many happy happenings; sweater weather, leaf change (in Florida it is the season when rain trees are in bloom), pumpkin spice everything, mulled wine, and a personal favorite: fall festivals!

It is festival season. Every weekend it seems like there is a reason to throw on your favorite light weight scarf and get yourself outside! Today marked the beginning of festival season for us with Veg Fest and Jazz Fest. In the midst of everything else going on today we made time to stop by Veg Fest this morning and scope out all the interesting booths and visit with some pups who were hoping for welcoming homes (I tried to talk hubs into a friend for Lu but he was having none of it).

This evening we walked into town for Jazz fest. Our neighborhood does seasonal block parties where the center of town is blocked off to traffic and our entire community, as well as neighboring communities, descends on the center of town for food, music, and friendship. Jazz fest is my favorite “adult” block party (Christmas time brings my true favorite block party but it is much more geared towards kids and families), there are tables set up all over our downtown, food trucks lined up in the streets, and three stages with jazz bands performing. I really enjoy the sense of community at these events. I am grateful to live in an area that encourages it’s residence to get out and be together in this way.

Tonight we sat on a stoop, hubs with his taco, me with my cold pressed juice, and we watched the goings on around us. Dogs hoping for a pet or stray pop corn kernel, little kids hugging and twirling, old men snapping to the music, ladies in their favorite fall attire.. It was fun to be involved without having to be too involved, just how we like it.

In a few weeks there will be an arts and crafts festival in my home town that I am looking forward to attending. I have not attended in years, as a child it was something I looked forward to all year – we never missed it, but this year a dear friend is selling her art at a booth and I would not miss seeing and supporting her.

This is the best time of year. Everyone seems to feel better in the fall, I know I always do.

Next Level Exhausted

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I am beyond. I am so worn out, there has been too much everything and not enough nothing. I think a big piece of it is my soul still adjusting to being back in “the real world”, it feels like soul camp was a year ago and it was just last week. Another piece of it is just having a whirlwind of a week. I am thankful I had the week off of school but if I am being honest I am not even feeling the benefits of that break at this point in the week. It was definitely what I needed at the beginning of the week though so I have gratitude for that.

The main issue with the second half of the week is just what I said, too many things to do without downtime to balance the busy. I do not do well when I lose that balance. As an introvert I need breaks. I need quiet, I need time for nothing. This week brought along with it late night nights at internship, evening plans with friends (which is completely unheard of for me but we had friends visiting from out of state), car repairs, errands, family time, and festivals.

The thing about being busy and being exhausted is that I get exhausted by plans in general. It does not matter if they are professional commitments or social plans I have made and am looking forward to. Anything that takes me out of my home to interact with others zaps my energy. By 4:00 this afternoon my cup was not only empty, it was bone dry.

I got a 15 minute nap before Todd and I left and walked into town for an annual block party our neighborhood throws. We stayed for about an hour before walking home. I am grateful for an introverted husband who gets what I am feeling and does not get disappointed by having an early evening sometimes.

So tonight I will write (there will be some rapid fire posts coming out because I have not had time to write this week), I will drink hot tea and put on some oils, I will watch the Cubs hopefully win, and cuddle on the couch with my two favorites. Going to try to take of me and have much needed quiet time so I can start the next week fresh and ready.

An Ode to You Dear Soul

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My husband is one of the special souls who came into my life to remind me of my light. He has shown me day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year the goodness of love and how easy I am to love (which I am sad to say is a reminder I sometimes need).

My husband has never feared my darkness the way I do. He seems to always have a light at just the right moment and has helped me many times relight my own.

He has brought all the S’s into my life that I was missing- Safety, Stability, Security, Strength, Space.

There was so much I did not believe in before him and that is not to say that he has given me my truth either- my truth is something I have had to come to on my own- what he has given me is the space and safety to do the work. He knows that this is my journey he is always there on the side lines encouraging me and keeping me grounded as I find my way. My truth does not have to be his truth and vise versa because in this relationship we are allowed to belong to each other and ourselves.

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He has brought feelings and color into my life I have never experienced before and given me space while I open a door to even more.

I am grateful beyond measure for this sweet soul, my love is deep and limitless. So today, on the day of his birth I celebrate my favorite human and soul friend, my life partner.

Now I Know Why I Am Here

I don’t know how to write about this weekend. I don’t know where to start. I know there is much I will not share but there is some I would like to. I cannot figure out how to give words, words that are so limited and flat, to what took place. How do you illustrate the shifting of a soul with words? How do you describe a fractal of light that can split a room in half and then fuse it back together? How do define a power so great that it is beyond understanding?

This weekend I allowed myself to be seen in a way I have never felt safe to do in my entire life. In a way I have always wanted to, but was too scared. This weekend I allowed one of my darkest pieces to feel the warmth  of light on her face for the first time. I did not realize how little I actually understood about the AND I am always talking about until that moment. It was the most terrifying moment I have experienced since the trauma itself, it was also the most liberating moment of my entire life. Something broke apart in me when that trauma took place, something broke apart in me when I set a piece of free as well. For the first time in my entire life I felt TRULY SEEN. It was terrifying AND liberating. It was the most powerful “AND” I have ever experienced.

I didn’t feel like myself for a while after. I received love and support and other things I do not have words for. It was so special and it was also very hard. When you have done things one way for so long (hiding) you do not know what to do when that changes (being seen). It took a while to adjust and I have to be honest I am still adjusting. I am taking the week off from school to give myself time.

The morning after my shift I was sitting on the couch drinking tea and having more soul talk with some of my housemates/soul work companions and one of them said the most important thing to me that anyone has ever said.

To give a little context to this particular soul work companion, she is a self-proclaimed skeptic. She came to soul camp, was present physically in every group, and participated on a certain level, however she seemed to have trouble with the deep work. She would say things like I have nothing, or I don’t believe in this, or I don’t believe you (to our therapist) and she rarely shared much. She appears to be a realist who is very grounded in rationality and facts but this is not a retreat where we learn breath work for our anxiety, this is SOUL work. I know it was a struggle for her at times. Here is the thing about her though, (before you start wondering why she was there or having any kind of negative feelings about her) she was invited to be there and chose to come knowing it was deep work. She did not have to to come she chose to. And my therapist did not have to invite her, not all clients were invited only the ones she felt like were called to this. These decisions were made for a reason. Whether she understood it or not she was called to this for a reason and whether my therapist fully understood it or not this person was meant to be invited.

So as we are sitting on the couch drinking our tea and talking one of the companions asked this companion (the skeptic) – who happened to be sitting next to me- if she felt like she was getting anything our of soul camp and how she was feeling about it. The skeptical companion, who never minces words and always says exactly what she means, told us how  the day before (which was a 12 hour day of soul work – almost nonstop) she was wondering what she was doing here, how she kept asking herself why am I here? Then she said that it wasn’t until after I shared my story with the group and experienced my shift that she knew. She said That’s when I knew, I was here to hear Jillian’s story.

I don’t want to share our exchange after that because it is sacred. I just feel the need to document those words though. I do not know what it means to her. I don’t know how she knew that I am what called her to soul camp. I can only tell you what it meant to me..

It was a validation of my life. I have told my story to others before, mostly out of what felt like necessity because I needed to know that they could love me even though I carry this terrible darkness, and I have been loved but never like this. For some reason her bearing witness to this life changing moment for me is part of what makes it life changing. I do not know why her presence is important in this shift but I know in the depths of my being that it is.

I tried to express my gratitude multiple times to her and for her but again I feel my words fall short, how do you truly show someone what is burning inside of you with mere words?

I do not know what to do now that this happened. I feel called to something bigger than myself now this has happened but I do not understand any of it yet. This woman is from another country, another culture, another generation, another life perspective, but for some reason we were called to each other this weekend. I do not understand any of it yet but I know know know KNOW it means something.

I didn’t know that was the work my soul was bringing to soul camp, I had a different plan entirely for the work I was going do. This all happened for a reason though and one day I will know why.

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For a Moment I was Free

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I used to be afraid to have a daughter. I was afraid because I was not strong enough as a woman to raise a woman. I was afraid because of the generational trauma that has been carried down through the female relationships in my family. I was afraid because of all the trauma I have experienced in my short life specifically as a woman at the hands of men… I used to say this world was not created for girls. That was to say, it is still after all this time not safe to be female in this world of men. We are not valued, we are not seen, we are not heard, we are not equal.

This world was not created for girls is no longer my truth. My truth is that this world was created by women. We ARE the creator.We are the divine. We are infinite. Creation is female therefore our creator is a Goddess not a God.

This weekend I bore witness to infinite enoughness. I sat with the definition of strength. I shared space with the ethereal. I saw with my heart how our capacity as women to hold pain  at indescribable depths is our power. I saw pieces of the universe sparkling and reflected back to me in this circle of immeasurable strength and resilience.

I cannot tell you about some of my experiences from this weekend because as human beings we have not evolved far enough to have language for some emotions and experiences, it is just a knowing, that is the best I can say. And something I now know with every fiber of my spiritual being is that women are the key to the universe. We are the portal between this world and any other. We are divinity. We are the question and the answer. I now know the truth and that is there is nothing more pure and perfect than the sacred strength of femininity.

AND not only am I no longer afraid to be the mother of a daughter, I welcome that divine spirit into my life with an open heart and a knowing that she will be everything.

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Leaving for Soul Camp

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Well the week blew by, as I half expected it would. I feel the urgency to write a bit before I leave in a few hours for soul camp. I would like to release some of what is banging around inside of me now so I can hopefully arrive at soul camp with a blank slate completely open to what will be.

I have been roaming the house for a few weeks picking up little pieces of this and that which I will bring with me. A rock from our mountain vacation last year that hubs inscripted a love note on for me, photos from childhood, a small acorn filled branch from Nana, a piece of my grandmother’s jewelry.. Things that are holding energy that feels important on this journey.

I finished packing the majority of my bags last night, this morning I have been running over my check list, and gathering what is left.

I have mixed emotions this morning about leaving. I am excited for sure so there is that underlying current of energy running through me, it feels like a child before going to Disney. I also feel an overwhelming sense of calm, like that of an old woman who has lived and seen so much that the world can no longer rattle her. With that I also feel a small vibration of anxiety in my chest above my heart but below my throat. It is just sitting there twisting around sending off sparks like a very very small live wire that has been severed and is now dancing in the street. This is not where my anxiety normally sits so I am a little surprised to feel it there but that is where it is showing up today and I am sure I will find out why at some point over the course of this weekend.

For the few remaining hours at home before I leave I plan to embrace the silence of our home, paint my nails, maybe write some more, and love on Lucy. Then it will be time to go. When I wrote that I felt a snap or spark from the anxiety sitting in my chest. She is clearly afraid, and that is okay, there is room for fear in the work I will be doing this weekend. The whole purpose of this retreat is to connect deeper with every piece of myself so all parts are welcome, there is enough space for everyone on this soul journey.