Best of 2016

This morning started off on the wrong foot. More specifically, it started off on the poop foot and the glass foot.

Let me first give a little bit of a back drop for this story by explaining who I am as a human in the morning. I am not at my best, I am actually more of a beast first thing in the morning. I wake up angry. It does not matter what time I wake up, I am usually upset to be awake. I recover quickly but this has been who I am for as long as I can remember.

In recent years I have found ways of easing into the day gracefully that work for me. I start with quiet time, which is most important. No talking, no noise, just me wandering around in the silence of our home. Tea helps too. Stretching first thing in the morning really helps. Meditation, soft music like crystal bowls, and sitting in sun beams. Long story short, peace and quiet is the best way to get me out of my morning grumps.

I actually love mornings. They are my favorite part of the day usually. I just have a hard time shaking off the sleepies.

So this morning I was awake for all of 5 minutes when things started getting hairy. I had my green tea, I was sitting in a sunbeam in the sun room drawing, the house was quiet..

I had the back doors open to let the breeze in. I was enjoying bird song and the sound of the train going by when Lucy came running in from the back yard. She ran over to me to say hello and I noticed a little leaf fragment on the side of her butt. I flicked it off for her and was horrified to realize it was not a leaf at all.. it was poop! Damn it Lu! I got up to wash my hands and called hubs in to see if she had poop on any other part of her. Low and behold, her back foot was covered in it. Time for a bath little girl.

This was not how I wanted to start the day.

I helped scrub her down and then left hubs to finish. I walked into the kitchen to get Lu a treat, she always gets a treat when she gets a bath, and felt a sharp pain in my foot. I looked and realized I had a minuscule shred of glass stuck in the ball of my foot. Oh that is just great.

We finished Lu’s bath and then I sat on the kitchen floor and hubs plucked the glass out with tweezers.

It normally takes me about a half hour to adjust to being awake in the morning and transition from beast mode to my human self. At this point I had been awake maybe 20 minutes. I was a bear.

Time to clear this energy. I sat  back in the sunbeam for a while and continued drawing and then thought about how I wanted to end the year, because I certainly did not want to end it in this energy.. I knew the answer instantly. In gratitude. I want to end the year in gratitude. I pulled out my phone and texted all the people I love and admire and expressed my love and gratitude for them while wishing them a happy new year. I instantly felt better. Then I went and sat in hubs lap for a while and cuddle with him and our clean pup.

As this is the last post of the year I decided I would do a true review of the year and share my personal favorite posts from the year. My year on this blog started in February as last year I was dealing with some heavy emotional work and had been on a break from writing when the year began.

So here we go, the best of 2016 from The Brain Work of an Idealist as chosen by the idealist herself:

February 2016: Acceptance

March 2016: I Built a Bridge

April 2016: Two Years Later

May 2016: Getting By Without a Mirror

June 2016: I Don’t Believe in Monsters

July 2016: Sacred Truth

August 2016: I Love Myself Most When

September 2016: I Am ——

October 2016: Now I Know Why I Am Here

November 2016: Letting It All Out Part III

December 2016: Hugs and Chickens

And my personal favorite of the entire year:

Constant Gardner

With corresponding art work for the post found on:

From Walls to Fences

Thank you to everyone who walked this path with me this year. Thank you for reading, thank you for responding, thank you for your support in all its forms. I hope everyone has a safe New Year’s Eve that finds you surrounded in love, comfort, and connection.

With unending gratitude,

Jillian
The Idealist

 

An Introvert’s New Years Eve

nye

Since high school I have disliked “holidays” like New Years Eve and Valentine’s Day. This post is not meant to shit all over those who celebrate them and do enjoy them, I just don’t.

I think the reason I single out these two days is because they both carry that same feeling and weight of pressure.

Valentine’s day carries a pressure of romantic gesture that feels forced and in turn unnatural. I am fortunate that my hubs is sweet to me all year long and is considerate and makes our relationship feel special on regular old Wednesdays evenings at 5:43pm. No special day is needed.

Here is the thing about that, to offer a balance to my opinion on this.. I have a girlfriend who has two young children and never used to celebrate Valentine’s Day for the same reason, and a few years ago we were talking about it and she told me that after having their first child she and her husband did start to celebrate Valentine’s day. She told me days like Valentine’s day and their anniversary suddenly became a bit more important because you can get busy with life and kids and work and not put the relationship first the way that you do when all of those things are not a factor.

I am not trying to compare relationships either, I used to almost sneer and laugh at people who celebrate this holiday though and my friend helped me realize I was being an ass. Maybe one day I will be thankful for a dedicated day where we know we are going to get a date night. I hope we never need Valentine’s day but it is nice to know it is there.

New Years Eve is different. This is a straight up issue of energy for me. Since I have been with my husband this holiday had been a nonissue because he is like me and does not want to do anything. My idea of “celebrating the new year” is to have days of quiet reflection, intention setting, and gratitude and then watch a movie and cuddle the night of. I do not like the crowds, I do not like parties, I do not like the noise.. It is all just too much. I get exhausted just thinking about how I have spent New Years in the past. I was always doing it someone else’s way, it was never for me and it never felt good. There was always pressure to party and I usually just wanted to go home.

The last 3 or 4 years we have been in IL for New Years and have spent it playing cards with his family, which has been great. This year since we stayed home we planned to do the exact same thing until our plans changed given the state of my family currently. We talked for a little bit about alternative plans and ultimately decided to spend new years with a couple we are friends with and have a low key evening at their home. It feels like the perfect fit.

It will be four people and a dog, and all those present are people I really enjoy. Hubs and I are making a charcuterie plate and bringing good dark chocolate to share. Our friends are getting champagne (yay bubbles). The weather has been nice the last few days and promises to continue this way.. I think it will be a lovely evening and I am excited to bring in the New Year this way.

The Power of One Person

kindness

When I was five I started kindergarten. I remember my first day of school, I sat at a table near the door and watched while all the other kids were dropped off and said good-bye to their parents. I watched as some cried, others just put their backpacks in the cubby and were walked to their table. It was a nonevent honestly. As far as I know I adjusted fine.

There was one thing though.

One day my class walked in a line to the lunchroom and we were all shown where to sit. My class was split up and I ended up at a table where I was the only girl and there was only one boy from my class sitting with me. I did not know the other boys and they were mean. I opened my My Little Pony lunchbox and pulled out my Ecto-Cooler juice box (Ghost Busters were all the rage in the 80’s), the boys from the other class began to call me Slimer (the ghost on the front of the juice box). I didn’t know what to do. I had never been bullied before. I was also out numbered. I did not have a friend, I knew no one. I just sat there and took it and it got worse. The taunting got louder, all the boys at the table except the one from my class were joining in and laughing. I began to cry. They laughed harder.

I will never forget the little boy from my class who was sitting next to me as all this was taking place. He looked over at me and asked if I was okay. I said no. He got a teacher. I don’t think he knew what to do either but I will never forget his kindness. He was the very first person in my short little life that showed me that kind of kindness. He could have easily joined in with the teasing in order to keep himself safe but he didn’t. At five years old he showed me empathy.

I was thinking about him the other day, even after all this time. There have been so many times in my life where something has happened that impacts me in such a way and is etched into my memory, for better or worse. It makes me think about how important it is, the way we show up for life each day, because you never know the impact you can have and how long lasting that impact can be for a person.

I remember the man, a stranger, who sat with me in the grass, in the pouring rain, on the side of road, and held my hand and comforted me while I waited for the ambulance to come after the car accident I was in 19 years ago. Almost 20 years later I remember his kindness and how safe he made me feel even in the midst of the chaos when I was covered in blood and soaking wet.

I remember the hospice worker, a social worker I am sure, who helped me and worked with me after my Nana’s passing when I was 9. She brought me apples and encouraged me to journal. She is the reason I started writing at such a young age. This blog may have never come to be without that person’s very small role in my life.

Some people are only with us during certain seasons of our lives, some are with for the long haul, some come in for a mere moment – you may never even actually know them. Someone you do not even know has the power to make you feel safe in a moment of crisis. We all have that kind of power.

Sometimes I think about the ever expanding universe and stars and galaxies I will never even see and I feel so small. But then I think of the moments in my life like those I have shared and realize our lives are not so small after all. We carry within us such power to do great things every single day when we walk out of our homes and I think that is one of the most beautiful things about life.

Boundaries are Hard in Families

The title of this post are words taken from my mother’s mouth. This is what she said to me tonight while we were speaking by phone, and she is right.

I am tired. I stayed up later than intended watching Project Runway and I am ready to crawl into bed. My babies are in bed waiting for me to join them and almost every piece of my being is dying to go fall into my husband’s arms. When I got up and started turning off lights and locking up one piece of me rose to the surface and started getting really noisy. She needs a voice and it cannot wait for tomorrow.

I have mentioned before how some stories prefer to be told in the darkness, I think that is why some of us lay awake at night troubled with deep thoughts. Dark pieces, shadow pieces, feel safest in the dark AKA night time.

I mentioned that over the holiday there was family drama that hubs and I have not engaged in.. I have not decided how much I am willing to share yet.. I am processing while I write..

What I can say is that a few years ago I made the decision that there was an extended family member I needed distance from. Every time we (hubs and I) were around this person at family gatherings they made us uncomfortable. It was really more than that though, I cannot put my finger on it, it was something I felt on a intuitive level, there was bad energy coming off of this person, I felt bad and negative when I had to be around them.

Hubs and I made ourselves scarce for a while. We did not attend as many family gatherings with extended family and were choosy about how we engaged with the extended family (specifically who we spent time with and when).

At first my mother attempted to lay a massive guilt trip on me about this but I (we) were stead fast. I have said for a long time that I do not believe in forced anything, including obligatory familial relationships. I have written about this in the past. Well after about 6 months or so this person was at the center of an enormous family controversy and most of the rest of my extended family began distancing themselves as well.

Suddenly no one was giving hubs and I shit for our decision to create this physical boundary we had created. Go figure.

As time has gone on it seems this person has either consciously or unconsciously made more and more decisions that would result in their further isolation from the family, not my concern honestly.

The extended family has up to this point been patient with this person, polite (in most cases), and towed the line. This I believe has mostly been in the interest of not upsetting my aging grandmother who loves her family and would be hurt by any fracture within the family system. So the ever growing crack has been ignored, until now.

Something happened this week and this person has very openly waged war against another family member. Our once dysfunctional but connected family has now been ripped in half and everyone is scrambling to pick a side. It is hysteria. The emotional fallout for some is extreme. Family members are feeling pressure to choose between their relationship with their siblings and their sons/daughters, or their son and grandson, or their niece and nephew.

My extended family, like many, has always experienced a level of dysfunction but it has been manageable up to this point. The pressure of the obligatory relationship, the guilt of disappointing the matriarch (my grandmother), plus religion and familial bonds have kept the family together up to this point. It appears all this has dissolved leaving nothing but confusion, pain, and a massive power struggle.

My parents are caught smack in the middle of the mess. Hubs and I immediately stepped back as a way to preserve our relationship and sanity, this is not ours to deal with. My parents could do the same, it is not theirs either technically, but I know they will not. Doing so would mean they would have to “abandon” family members and I know they will not do it. I put quotations around the word abandon because I want to highlight that it is what I believe their perception is but maybe not necessarily what is objectively true.

Hubs and I have offered emotional support via phone to my parents. I am not willing to get any closer to the eye of this storm than that right now. We have changed our New Years Eve plans and will not be with family now. It is not that I do not love and support my family, I am just not willing to insert myself into a situation that is a raging emotional disaster and none of my business.

This will blow over in time, or it won’t. Either way hubs and I will make decisions over time about what our boundaries will look like as things progress. Our boundaries on this have allowed us to continue to enjoy our time off together even as this fire rages on. I am not the fire department, I cannot extinguish this flame, and I cannot save anyone who does not want to be saved.

I feel good about how hubs and I have been able to offer help, and how I personally have been able to support my parents emotionally. Tonight we talked for a while and I felt good about the conversation, I tried to help them step back from the situation and see it from different angles. At the end of the conversation my mother mentioned how they really need me around right now. This was in reference to me letting them know earlier in the day that we have decided not to come over on New Years Eve. When I originally told her we would not be coming I explained it was because we had made other plans, which is true. When she brought it up again I explained about the boundaries we have set for ourselves right now and that we would more than likely be observing these boundaries until the situation is under better control. We are not willing to get sucked in and this is undoubtedly the only thing my family will be talking about on New Years Eve. We are not interested in starting our New Year in that energy.

I invited my parents over for dinner at our house, and told them we could make other plans with just them but that we would not be spending time with the rest of the family while this situation is fresh.

I could tell be her tone that my mother was disappointed. After years of setting and maintaining healthy boundaries in that relationship though she has learned I cannot be swayed once I have made up my mind.

I love my family very much. It hurts my heart that we are experiencing a fracture on this level. For me there is no love lost on the individual that in my eyes has created this fracture, it does not make the situation any less sad though. This person is experiencing disconnection and has been for such a long time and it has now led to this. Hurt people hurt people, that is what taking place in my family right now. I hope in time this wound is able to be healed, for some if not all of my family members. I am hopeful, I know many do not share my optimism. It will be up to each person to decide how they are going to show up in this moment of time in our family’s history. Personally I am thinking of my grandfather, the patriarch that passed away years ago. I think it would hurt his heart as well to see his family in this state. I believe individually we are all better than this and are capable of the kind of love that heals deep hurts. I hope that collectively we can get there.

Hugs and Chickens

home

Hubs and I were driving through my home town last week to pick up Isaac for his sleepover when the car in front of us suddenly slammed on the brakes and swerved almost completely off the road. We could not figure out what was happening and then we saw it.. A huge white chicken running away from the front of the car into the grass on the side of the road. Yep, I am home.

I know I am home (in my hometown that is) when we drive through the center of town and have to be mindful of chickens crossing the road. The chickens are my home town’s mascot. They roam free, do as they please, and the entire town accommodates them. Up until it was recently demolished they were often seen hanging out by the Popeye’s Chicken, the irony was lost on no one, so the owners put in a “chicken crossing” sign in order to help keep them safe.

Earlier in the week I had been in town spending the day with my Mom and Moo, we stopped at a local second hand shop so I could donate some home goods I was getting rid of and there were the chickens roaming around the gravel parking lot. Moo jumped out of the car as we unloaded so she could chase a big black and white hen.

After Todd and I saw that chicken last week this post started to write itself in my head. I know I am home when… A post about what home means to me.

When I was a child home was the oak trees I grew up climbing, the tangerine trees I filled up on all season long, the fields of wild flowers where I picked Black Eyed Susans in the spring. Home was the sound of the train going by, and the sound of the marching band from the high school on October evenings from my open window as I drifted off to sleep. Home was Papa’s Lovely Noodles when I was sick and collard greens and sausage balls at Christmas. Home was camping trips and fall vacations and playing with my cousins and dancing to Burl Ives records in my grandmother’s living room. Home was the tree house in my back yard and watching the Labyrinth on Friday nights when I would sleep over at Papa’s. Home was catching toads and digging up earth worms in my grandmother’s rich soil and picking up box turtles that lived in the fields. Home was my parents singing Adelvice, The Ants Go Marching, This Little Lamb, and Inch Worm at bed time. Home was my uncle and aunt always making time to play with me.

As a teenager home was the comfort of my mother in times of turmoil. Home was summer evenings at the lake behind my friend’s house, it was my boyfriend holding my hand as he shifted gears in his car while we listened to Blink182, it was my father consoling me. Home was the play group I belonged to, and Madonna’s greatest hits backstage with my girlfriends. Home was watching Scream and other cheesy scary movies on Friday night sleepovers with my best friend. Home was English class and Art class. Home was driving my red pick up truck listening to A Perfect Circle and New Found Glory and Dashboard Confessional. Home was weekly beach trips with my cousin.

In my twenties home was my best friend, her acceptance and humor and mayhem. Home was my Friday night favorites, the group I went out with every weekend. Home was dancing and road trips and girl time. Home was our favorite bars and the comfort of knowing the regulars and the bouncers and the bar tenders. Home was concerts and music in general. Home was playing with my niece and nephew when they were babies. Home was my parents nursing me through the most painful break up of my life. Home was my first apartment of my own. Home was conversations with people I admired about books and music and life. Home was my bedroom furniture that my dad and I stained and sealed ourselves.

Then at the end of my twenties I met my husband. Home became our first home together. Home became the community we live in together. Home became his family and Chicago and other parts of Illinois. Home became his friends and his stories and Lucy. Home became sitting on his lap on the couch and laying my head on his chest. Home became feeling safe in a car again. Home became his hugs, being completely enveloped in him. Home became adventures together and funny dances and reading books in bed together. Home became Washington D.C. and all the other places we have made memories in. Home became bands like City and Colour. Home became the home we live in together now and the neighbors on our street.

Now I know I am home when I feel myself pressed up against him. I know I am home when I drive down my street and see our trees in the front yard. I know I am home when I drive through the city. I know I am home by the sound of the train passing by at night. I know I am home when my mother and I talk like friends. I know I am home when my Dad and I talk and balance life for each other. I know I am home when Lucy is tucked into the nook of my knee. I know I am home when I am on the floor playing with one of my nieces or nephew. I know I am home when my brother and I are being honest about things that hurt. I know I am home when I am with one of my soul friends and our energy and conversations lock us into another time and place where it is just me and her. I know I am home with my social work people where ideas and emotions flow freely. I know I am home when I am covered in paint, deep in a book, writing, and feelings otherwise inspired. I know I am home when I feel free and loved and safe.

I know I am home when I look at my life and feel calm and peace and gratitude.

I know I am home when I can look at myself and say I love you sweet girl, you are magic.

I know I am home.

Christmas Gratitude

thank-you

 

This year I felt like a five year old on Christmas again. My family was so good to my husband and I in terms of gift giving. I felt so understood, the gifts were so thoughtful and brought me such joy. My family bought me canvases, mala beads, scarves (I wear scarves daily), coloring books, books, wind chimes, lotions.. and on..

I have been collecting coloring books since 2007, long before adult coloring books were all the rage. I started on Charlie Brown, now I have a little bit of everything. I have to say I still like coloring books for children more than the adult coloring books in general. Hubs managed to sway me this year with the coloring books he found for me. He got me 4, one is national state parks, one is of birds, one is of forest animals, and one is of plants and flowers. These are not ordinary coloring books though, they are realistic and have descriptions and explanations under each photo. Imagine if National Geographic created a coloring book series, that is what he got me. They are both beautiful and educational. I have truly enjoyed coloring in them.

My brother-in-law bought me four new books I cannot wait to start reading. I am currently reading two books, I feel the need to finish one before I start another. I am almost done with Viktor Frankl so when I am I will start something new.

I also just very grateful for this time off with hubs, I cannot express that enough. Two weeks of time just for us. We are getting projects done around the home, going on dates, having much needed introvert time (together but separate), it is so relaxing and nice.

I am currently working on an a wearable art project and am feeling really inspired by the creative process. This is a new venture for me, I am taking my creativity off the canvas, it is a lot of fun.

The year is ending on such a good note. Like many I think 2016 was a bit of a beast but there are always bright spots and we are existing in one of them currently, for that I am grateful.

You and Me Against the World

you-and-me

I am so grateful for my husband. This is true everyday but some days that gratitude feels amplified.. Today, this week, has been one of those times.

We have been talking about our future recently, long term and short term, and all  I can say is again just how grateful I am to be walking through this life with him by my side.

We are making plans for a vacation in the spring/summer to celebrate my graduating with my Master’s degree. There is a trip that has been on my bucket list my entire life, it is the trip of my lifetime, the one I have always dreamed of, and we are planning it. It will by a light at the end of the tunnel for me as I finish my last semester in grad school.

His parents are coming to visit in a month or two, so looking forward to that!

Hubs and I have had the last week off together and still have another week together before he returns to work. It has been mostly bliss. There has also been a bit of drama brewing in my family which have made sure to distance ourselves from. We love our families but we are quite clear on the separation between our life together and their lives. We can love our families and not get pulled in to situations that have nothing to do with our life.

The situation that has come up in my family has given hubs and I opportunity to process together and discuss our life together and what we want it to look like going forward. I have always been the black sheep of my family, I do not see that changing, I am just thankful that I am walking through life with a partner who has the same perspective on family and what we want our own budding family to look like.

I have mentioned that I feel this next year will be transformative for me, I think part of that might be he and I redefining what the word family means to us. The very thought of it makes me feel calm.

I am so excited about this next year. I feel more sure about the greatness it will hold than I ever have in my entire life. I feel myself on the cusp of greatness. I feel my relationship with this amazing human being I love on the cusp of greatness. I feel something powerful is coming. I am open, I am ready, and I am grateful.

From Walls to Fences

Earlier this year I wrote this post about growth. Today I painted this piece to go along with that post.

constant-gardner

I have been laying this one out in my mind for a while. I was not sure whether or not I wanted to include the wall but the truth is it is still there. There are parts of my emotional landscape I still do not share openly, only a few people have the key to that door. What is behind that door is even more beautiful and special than what is visible beyond the fence but it also more fragile. I hope one day I am able to trust the world a little more and bring that wall down once and for all, I am also hopeful to trust myself enough to take care of me if the world tries to stomp my fragile flowers.

I am very aware of the work I still have to do, it makes me so happy to see a fence and flowers where a wall used to be though.

Friends, Podcasts, and Lots of Tea

podcasts

It has been another great day. I started with cold pressed juice and washing some dishes. Then I lit my candles and put on my favorite oil and prepared my home to receive a guest. My friend came over and we had tea, lots of tea, we love tea. We exchanged gifts, she was very excited about the salt light and the book, she had been eyeing my copy of the book for a while. She got me a mug that says “you’re the best” in pretty script (I am thinking of planting a plant in it), and one of my favorite lavender teas, and a rose quartz stone (also a favorite – you can never have too much rose quartz in your home and your life).

We talked for hours about human topics and higher topics. It was a lovely visit. I am so glad I have been able to spend sometime with friends over this break and reconnect.

After she left I made myself a grilled apple and munster cheese sandwich with tomato soup and watched Harry Potter for a little while.

I am thinking I will finish my afternoon listening to Podcasts and painting.

That is something that my friend and I talked about at length last night, all the different podcasts we listen to and what makes each one great. My favorite for a while now has been This American Life because it elicits such an emotional reaction in me, whether sadness or joy, their episodes capture the entire spectrum of human emotion.

The conversation of podcasts has come up with each girlfriend I have spent time with recently. Last night my friend and I even listened to an episode of Memory Palace together (Mary Walker Would Wear What She Wanted). I loved the rhythm and cadence of the story, I also loved the content. I identified with Mary Walker immediately; she refused to be uncomfortable just because society stipulated that “this is what women have to wear”. She said fuck corsets with the same energy that I say fuck bras. She could be corsetless in a pair of pants and still be a woman, I get it.

When talking about podcasts I always have to bring up my favorite Episode of This American Life, Who Do We Think We Are . That one is not for the faint of heart. One of the segments (the one that makes it my favorite episode) is about female genital mutilation. I sobbed when I listened to that episode and that is part of why I love it so much, because this person who I will never meet had such an impact on me with their story.

That is why I love podcasts, they stimulate a sense of  connection. I love that my friend shared so many new ones with me last night. That is all hubs and I listen to when we are in the car together, it makes for great conversation after and it is way better than listening to the same old songs all the time. I am excited to share some of these new ones with him as we are driving around over the next few weeks while we have time off together.

There are two different podcasts I am debating between for today while I paint. Excited to start new things and let free some more creative energy.

Week One of Winter Break

It has been an outstanding week. As I wrote that my grandmother’s voice was ringing in my ears, she calls everything that she likes outstanding.

I have had time to paint, finished my Christmas shopping, done a bit of travel, had time with girlfriends, time with family, multiple date nights with hubs, deep cleaning and reorganizing the house.. Week one had a lot of good stuff in it.

Here is what I have painted so far

One was inspired by a sunset I witnessed near our home. I was driving through our little downtown area in our neighborhood and it was setting over the power lines, it was beautiful. The second was inspired by Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. The Wes Craven movie was on last weekend (I love his vision for the classic story) and after watching Mrs. Fox paint storm clouds I thought I would give it a try. I think I have more work to do in this area but it was a fun first attempt. I have really enjoyed breaking in  my new easel.

So I am going to go out of order with my stories.. Tonight I had dinner with a friend from undergrad who I have not seen since graduation in May. She is special. She offered to cook me dinner at her home which I was touched by. After our meal we sat on the couch drinking a delicious tea blend she made and eating dark chocolate I brought as my contribution to the evening. We talked and talked. It was the best kind of conversation; sharing ideas, relating over shared values, talking about culture and social issues, getting personal. It was so refreshing. She shared a story with me that made me cry and I would like to share it.

Someone she works with lost their mother to Alzheimer’s disease. Apparently before getting the disease this woman was a painter and was very self-critical of her work. What was so beautiful is that when the disease had progressed quite a bit the woman no longer recognized her own art, this sounds sad and it absolutely is, there is a twist though. One day she was walking down the hall in her daughter’s home and saw one of her pieces hanging on the wall and stopped to admire it. She thought it was stunning, she really really liked it. When she had painted it she was critical of it then later when she forgot it was hers she was moved by it. This is such a sad, beautiful, special story.

Something else that was unique about the night is the amount of things that went wrong. I showed up and my poor friend was having so many issues. Her A/C had gone out and was leaking all over her carpet, the blender broke and she was making coquito which apparently she blends at the end to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated so she was not able to do that like she wanted, she had no ice to cool the coquito after being in the hot pot on the stove, her toilet was acting up.. It seemed like it was one thing after another for her. I have to tell you though I had such a great time just being with her that I barely noticed any of it. I also kind of loved that it was such a human experience. Things go wrong, that is life. We cannot control everything, things break at the worst possible time, like when you are having a friend over for the first time. It was a great night because of the energy we shared, nothing was going to going to take away from that.

This past weekend was wonderful. Hubs and I went St. Augustine Friday and stayed in a fancy hotel at the beach (totally out of the norm for us). We walked all over the sweet little downtown area, did some Christmas shopping, stayed to watch the entire city light up with white Christmas lights, had dinner.. We checked out the love tree, and the cemeteries, and got a gourmet popsicle on our way back to our hotel.

It was relaxing and romantic and fun. I love exploring with him.

The next morning we got up and drove up the coast to Jacksonville to visit my soul friend.

Her apartment is cozy and inviting. The art on her walls is inspiring. She has a piece by the same artist who painted our boxer piece, that one is my favorite of all the pieces my girlfriend has. The piece I painted her hangs in her bedroom. We explored a small area of her downtown, had dinner on a rooftop, and walked by the river before returning to her apartment. That night she made us Moscow mules (I had a mocktail as I was finishing up an antibiotic) and we played games with her and a friend she invited over. I lost at everything, so did she, hubs won all the games.

The next morning we came home, picked up Lu from my parents and spent the rest of the day at home watching movies and playing games together.

Today I was cleaning and reorganizing and managed to finally finish the work I have been doing on my wardrobe for nearly a year. I have been cutting back on the amount of clothes in my closet for sometime. I used to use clothing as a way to numb. I have gotten better about not numbing and allowing myself to feel what I need to feel. This year I have been whittling down the amount of clothes I own little by little. Every time I purge I give clothes away to friends and family or at a sip and swap. This is the last of it and I thinking about donating some to a women’s shelter (there are a good bit of professional clothing from when I worked in the corporate world and I thought that might be good for women going on interviews etc) I also think I might try to sell a little bit of it. Regardless of what I decide to do it just feels good to part with this hoard. I definitely feel like this year I have gotten a handle on habits that were harmful to me in the past, shopping being one. Finally being at a point where I can keep all of my clothing in one closet in my home without that closet bursting at the seams makes me feel good.

I also finished my Christmas shopping today. Last week when I was taking my last final my best friend at school informed me that she bought me a birthday and Christmas present. I was completely caught off guard. She is coming over tomorrow so we can spend some time together and because she wanted to give me my gifts. I thought for a while about whether or not to get her a gift as well. In group therapy my therapist has talked to us before about the act of receiving without feeling the need to reciprocate. This would be a wonderful time for me to practice receiving without feeling the need to give. In the end though I realized I just was not there yet. I love her and wanted to have something to give her as well. I needed to get my Dad a bookstore gift card anyway so while I was there I picked up a copy of Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey (I highly recommend it to everyone but especially all my female readers). Then I ran to another store to pick her up a small Himalayan salt lamp.

While I was waiting in line to check out the woman in front of me turned around and said my name I looked up to see a dear friend standing in front of me in line with her husband. I was over the moon, it was the happiest surprise! I really really like this person and do not get to see her as often as I would like due to both of our busy schedules. I could not have been more tickled. We caught up as we moved through the line and parted with a hug. Really thankful for that little moment.

While at the bookstore I also picked up Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. It has been recommended to me multiple times by my therapist and professors at school, I am finally ready for this story. You cannot read certain things until you feel totally ready because you have to know you are open to receive the message, somehow I know I am ready now. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton is another book that is on my reading list right now. It was recommended to me by multiple women and I think it will help me with the work I will start doing next year around my relationship with my body. I think I am going to need support wherever I can find it when I start that work, at least at first.

So this is where I am at. Tomorrow I will spend time with my bestie from school, Thursday my mother has talked me into Christmas baking with my grandmother and niece at her house, Friday Isaac is spending the night, then Christmas will be upon us.

I am grateful for the love and connection this holiday season is bringing. A lot of what my friend and I talked about tonight centered around connection, a post for another day. I am happy with the way the year is ending and look forward to the dawning of the next. I am looking forward to quiet time for reflection over the next few weeks to really sit with my intention for the new year and what this transformation will mean to me.

Soap like Erasers

soap

The universe has been sending me a message for a while and I have known this but was not ready. It has been woven into my life disguised as the ordinary; a conversation here, a sign or symbol there. There were three major signs recently and that is what finally made me say okay enough, I am ready.

I was working with client recently and the conversation led to me using validation and body positive messages. After I felt good about the work we did together AND I felt like a bit of a phony.

A few weeks later I was with my love and he said something that I feel like all women want to hear (myself included) but the truth is it hurt to hear it because I did not believe him. It is not that I did not believe that he felt what he was saying, it was that I do not agree and I do not feel that way about myself.

2 days ago I was in the shower, the night before I had been painting and as per usual I still had paint on my legs and fingers. I took the bar of soap and rubbed it up and down my thigh until the streak of black paint faded into nothing and the water washed away the soap. This led to the literal inspiration of this post (although the larger inspiration has been building for some time). As I watched the paint on my leg disappear under the bar of soap I thought about how the soap looked so much like an eraser in that moment. It made me wonder.. How many times have I gotten in the shower and used the soap like an eraser to wash away pain?

We all do it. Showers have never been just for washing our physical body.

If we have a bad day we can step into the shower and wash it away.
If we are sick we step into the shower and let that hot water cleanse us and wash away the germs.
If our heart is broken we step into the shower and cry so no one can tell the difference between the water from the spout and our tears.

The thing about this though is that it doesn’t actually work. The shower is not some magical portal where when you step in it erases bad days or illness and last I checked it does not have magical healing properties that allow it to mend a broken heart.

Me using the soap to erase the paint from my body did not take away the fact that the night before I painted, it just cleaned the paint off.

Suddenly it hit me. All these showers I have taken over the years to erase awful things that have happened to my body have erased nothing. My shower is not a portal that can undo trauma my body has experienced. Until I go back and be with my body in these places of hurt I am not going to feel authentic when having a body positive conversation with a client, and I am never going to be able to believe my husband when he compliments me because I cannot see what he sees.

Something I have said for a long time is that is important to me that I am not asking my clients to do anything that I am not willing to do myself. Up to this point I have been not been ready to do this part of my work but now I am.

I know this next year will be transformative for me and I know with my whole being that this part of my work is going to play a very big part in that transformation. A very big, painful part.. And I am scared. I am scared to go back to some of these places with my body. I have gone back emotionally and started the healing process that way but this is different.

What I can do to help myself prepare for this next part on my journey inward is to remind myself of the progress I have already made in having  better relationship with my body.

I listen better. This shows in little ways like what I eat and when, taking breaks when needed, even in what I wear. Some clothes hurt so I have stopped wearing them. High heels for example, it they are uncomfortable I will not wear them. I set the intention a while ago that I will not cause my body pain for vanity sake. I can feel beautiful and be comfortable.

I am more accepting of my body as it is. I do not feel the need to wear make up or paint my nails for others. If I am doing either it is for me only and I have checked in with my body first. Personal grooming, I have talked about this before, I will not feel shame for the fact that my body naturally grows hair. I shave when it feels right and am not mean to myself when I don’t. My hair has a right to be there and I am beautiful either way.

This is a good start these two things but I know there is much work to be done and I am ready. I have to do things for myself so I know how to helps others in these same places of pain. You do not learn these lessons from the text book, somethings can only come from the soul.

I love hot showers, hot baths, the cleansing nature of water in general. I love the way it can wash over me and hold me and make me feel whole. I also recognize that by doing this work I may no longer need water for this and I certainly will not look to soap to act as an eraser any longer. What if I could hold me and make me feel whole. What if I had the power of water?

 

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

comfort-and-joyI love that line from a familiar Christmas carol. What a beautiful sentiment.

Today I went to a holiday party at my internship. I am grateful that myself and the two other interns were invited, it was a celebration like none I have ever experienced in a professional setting. There was dancing, and singing (impromptu in both cases, it is not like there was a dance floor or music set up), and my favorite part.. expressions of gratitude.

We had a White Elephant gift exchange and it was where a lot of the theatrics really came out. People were dancing on their way up to choose their gift, people were chasing other people when gifts were attempting to be stolen. Our staff is tight knit and you felt the energy of that closeness today, I am glad I got to be part of the energy and witness the greatness of this team.

My contribution to the gift giving was a gray (the color choice was quite intentional) leather bound planner and a glass water bottle with fruit infuser core. The intention behind my gift was to give the gift of health and balance. My intern supervisor stole it from someone else and ended up with it, that felt right.

After the Christmas party I went to the art supply store. My parents and my in-laws both gave me gift cards to the art supply store for my birthday, I was eager to spend a little. I wandered around the aisle of acrylics to see if there was a color I wanted that I did not already have or maybe a fun brush that I would never typically spend the money on. Then I moved on to frames and then felt. I wandered like this for 30 minutes, waiting for the right thing to hit me. Then it did. I stepped out of the canvas aisle and there it was. A sign that said 60% off all easels. Holy Shit! I started running the calculations in my head and realized I had my choice of easel. Even the regularly priced 200.00 easel was in my budget with the gift card money I was gifted. Holy Shit!! I chose to play it conservative and not blow all my gift money on one thing (but I cannot express to you how tempting it was to get the easel I have always dreamed of). I got a table top easel that was on sale for 25.00, it was a steal.

Up to this point I have been swiping some of hubs text books from his bookshelf and propping them behind my canvas when I paint. This was an exciting purchase, way better than any over priced fancy paint brush!

I know I will have plenty of opportunity to paint while on break. My first opportunity actually presented itself last week. My supervisor at internship asked if I would paint a sign for “the counselor’s corner” at the office. I happily agreed. The counselor’s corner is a new idea that our supervisor came up with a few weeks ago. It is a bulletin board in the main room where our clients spend most of their time. On it will be fun (appropriate) facts about the counselors as a way to build further rapport with the clients, inspirational quotes, therapeutic this and that (breathing exercises or self-care tips). My supervisor wanted something whimsical (my personal specialty). This is what I came up with:

counselor-corner

I am not going to lie to you, this is a recycled design that I have created multiple times before. As this was a quicky project though I needed to pull from my reserves and go with something I knew how to do fast and well. My supervisor loves it. She found a way to laminate it and added yellow and purple pom poms to the corners to accent the lightening bugs and purple flowers. I love that I was able to create something that will be used even after I leave. I am grateful she gave me this opportunity.

Today was a day filled with joy and comfort (specifically comfort food). It was a wonderful first day of winter break. I hope to have many more like it and wish joy and comfort to all of you who are reading this. Thanks for walking this journey with me. I hope this holiday season brings you love, connection, comfort, and joy.

A Glorious Mess of Color and Noise

drum

A little over a month ago I shared that I attended a meditation/sister circle that ended with a drum circle. Let me tell you about this drum circle.

After we concluded our formal meditation we went outside. Set up around a stone fire pit were 8-10 hand drums set in front of a circle of corresponding chairs. Each drum had a slightly different shape, some were more squat and wide, others taller and more slender. They also had different designs, some were plain without much color, others had elaborate detail and were wildly colorful. Each of us took a moment to decide where to sit based on which drum spoke to us. I ended up choosing a squat drum with a colorful pattern.

Once we had chosen our drum we were encouraged to get acquainted with it. We all took this to mean different things, some people banged on their drum to familiarize themselves with the sound, others rubbed the top and sides to see how it felt, I grabbed mine around the middle and hugged it.

After this moment spent with our drum the real fun began. We were guided at first, we were taught the different ways to hit the drum in order for it to make different sounds, we were also taught how not to hit the drum in order to avoid finger injury. After a few moments of practice it was time to begin. Our leader got us started, she began her beat and the way it worked is that when she felt ready she would look to her right indicating that she was ready for that person to join in, this went on all the way around the circle until everyone had joined in and we had many different sounds playing all together.

During another point our leader brought out all kinds of fun hand instruments for us to try. Some opted to stick with the hand drum, others sounds that joined in were that of a wooden hand instrument that when played sounded like a frog, there was a high pitched bell similar to a wind chime, there were bells more similar to what you would imagine on a reindeer harness, I played an egg shaker during this time, there was a cow bell as well. All our different unique sounds played together made a glorious mess of noise.

At first all of us were intimidated. I think only one of us, other than our leader, had ever participated in a drum circle before and there was a fear of doing it wrong. I have said before that it is a very vulnerable feeling to allow yourself to be free and create in front of others, the trepidation at the beginning of drum circle speaks to that very truth.

What if I cannot keep the beat? What if I sound stupid? What if everyone looks at me? What if I am too loud?

5 minutes in all that fear washed away. We played with our eyes closed towards the beginning so we could focus on the sound instead of each other and that is when the connection happened. That was the meaningful take away from this experience, the connection. To be able to make your own unique sound that is just yours and is not swallowed up by the noise of any other but to be able to also connect with the collective noise. I was just one drum, just one shaker, just one person.. but without me the group would not have sounded the same. There was no right, there was no wrong, all that mattered is that my sound was heard.

creative

This brings me into the next part of this post. I have been incorporating art into my practice with my clients. I cannot call the work I have been doing art therapy because that is something you have to be certified to do and I am not, but I am creating a space for my clients to express themselves creatively in order to help them with some of the work we are doing together. Art therapy may be on the horizon for me at some point.

One of my focuses with this internship is to give myself space to figure out what kind of therapist I am going to be. What unique thing do I bring to this field? How will I let my unique light shine? Art is certainly part of that because it is a very big part of me. One thing I have learned about myself while in this internship is that I am the kind of therapist that quotes Bob Ross. haha. (Yes I just laughed at myself, I do that. Often.) When I have been leading a creative arts group or working on an art project with a client during individual session I have definitely quoted Bob Ross on more than one occasion. Of course I have. That man knew what he was talking about:

There are no mistakes just happy accidents.

If you don’t like it, change it. It’s your world.

You need the dark in order to see the light.

I mean, yeah. He got it.

Creating this kind of outlet for a person allows them to get out of their head and be free for a moment. It allows them to put down their judgements about themselves and the world and let an inner voice speak. In a world full of black and white ideas about how things are art allows us to step back, call the world on it’s bullshit, and play with the full spectrum of color. Because life is a glorious mess of color, black and white is a myth of existence.

I am grateful for the personal lessons I have learned through allowing my own inner voice to be heard through art, and music, and other creative outlets I make for myself. I am also grateful that this is an area where my light is turned up and I can share my truth with my clients and help them to find their own. This is what makes this work special, this is what makes life special, it is all about finding your own unique voice and knowing how important your contribution to the collective is.

 

Lessons and Gratitude

When I fell under my cloud of bad energy a few weeks back I completely lost all inspiration and motivation to write. Although both have returned to me the inspiration I have been having recently is still only half baked, I have to sit with these ideas a bit longer before they are ready.

It is times like these that I am grateful to have a friend who is also a writer, she freely shares inspiration and gets me going again.

Last week she suggested a writing prompt to me about doing the year in review essentially. In this review though she mentioned not only focusing on the high points of the year but also reflecting on the struggles, I agree with the need for balance and that is what this post is all about.

So I am thinking bullet points because who doesn’t love a list?

Gratitude This portion could go on forever so I am going to keep it to the real high points

  • I am grateful for my spring internship. I am specifically grateful for the balance it struck between case management and clinical work, it gave me a taste of what I would be doing next. I am also grateful for the social worker I was working under, she provided so many opportunities for me to learn and practice. She is a wonderful mentor and I count myself lucky to be able to continue learning from her.
  • I graduated from college in May. This year was a validation of my being able to not only accomplish things I never believed I could but also that I am worthy of these things. Graduation was probably one of the highest points of the year, if not the highest. My not-good-enoughs fell silent that day.
  • This year I received multiple accolades and was accepted into grad school. This was all very humbling and validating as well. I received BSW intern of the year thanks to the nomination from my social work supervisor whom I worked with. At graduation I was recognized with an integrity award, what an awesome reason to be recognized. Being accepted into grad school was a big moment for me. I think it was the actual feeling of acceptance that was huge. I was accepted in a way that I never thought was possible. 4 years ago I believed that I would never return to school. I did not believe I was smart enough, that I had anything to offer the world, I did not believe that I was strong enough as a person to actually chase my dreams. Now I am just one semester away from graduating with my Master’s degree in a field that I know is meant for me. I am living a life that four years ago I was not even willing to let myself dream about.
  • Time spent with loved ones. We vacationed with hub’s family, we went to a dear friend’s wedding and saw many more close friends while we were there, I have many new great memories from time spent with my soul friends, we are getting ready to go stay with one of my favorites, we have too many good memories to count from time spent with family locally.. It was a good year for love.
  • I am grateful for the intention I set for myself at the beginning of grad school of pushing myself out of my comfort zone in an effort to experience greater levels of growth. It led me to this amazing internship that I was so intimidated by before I started that I almost talked myself out of it. It may lead to my first paid position as a social worker. It has led to enormous growth in my personal work with my own therapy. I am still experiencing major growth at internship, just last week I set myself up for a new opportunity to push myself outside of my comfort zone when I go back to internship next semester. This intention and this internship have taught me so much about myself, and about the truth behind fear and anxiety, and about what everyday courage looks like.
  • My soul work is a huge piece of my gratitude this year. I have experienced enormous levels of personal growth this year thanks to my commitment to doing really uncomfortable work. I had my biggest break through to date while at soul camp in October. I have met women who speak a language that only those of us who have experienced trauma and are willing to step out of the shadows know how to speak. I feel like I found some of my people this year and that connection helped me to step into another one of my intentions of late, to turn up my light.
  • In that same vein of connection, I am thankful for all the connections I have made this year. I have met and connected with so many people and these connections and my ability to connect with others is still growing. I know this is only possible because for the first time in my life I have been able to connect with myself. This inner connection has given me the strength and courage to step into my truth and walk my true path and I think other people can feel that energy from me. I am excited for what next year will bring in this area, I think my ability to make meaningful connections is only going to grow.
  • Finally and most importantly my hubs. A few weeks ago when I first learned about this possible job offer and shared the news with him I took a moment to fully express my gratitude to him for the role he has played in my life and my growth. I know that I am the one that has had to do the work to make these dreams a reality but I would never have started if it was not for him. Since we first started dating he encouraged me to go back to school and do whatever I want. Every time I have doubted myself or worried that what I was doing was making him sacrifice too much or that I was a burden, he has been nothing but emphatic that all that matters to him is that I am able to happy for the rest of my life. He has given me so much just by loving me the way he does, by believing in me the way he does. He showed me how good love can feel and ultimately it is the stability and security that he has brought into my life that made it feel safe for me to start my soul work journey and heal my hurts. I would have never believed any of the things I have done for myself over the last 5 years would have been possible if he had not come into my life and lit a spark. He makes me feel safe, me makes me feel loved, he makes me feel like I am made of magic. I could not be more grateful for anything. He is everything.

Lessons

  • Some of the lessons I learned this year came up in my gratitude. One big one has to do with the greatness that can come from allowing yourself to be uncomfortable. I have gone from a place of fear where I want to run away to a place of believing I am capable. With every fear I overcome, and not just overcome but turn into something beautiful, I feel like a super hero. It is always a feeling of If I can do this what can’t I do?! So I push on to the next thing and I conquer that. And it just keeps going until fear is no longer an issue because look at my track record for overcoming it!
  • Another lesson I know I am still learning is that of my own power and the power of my story. The breakthrough I experienced while at soul camp helped me see for the very first time in my life that my story does not make me unlovable. It does not make me unworthy or bad. I shared one of my darkest pieces with a room of women and expected to be thrown out and rejected.. I was embraced, I was comforted, I was accepted. By sharing one of the worst things that I have ever experienced in my own life it created space for others to share their darkness. Sharing something that has always made me feel unsafe with others actually created safety for others in this case. I am at the beginning of this part of my journey but I understand on some intuitive level that the work I am about to embark on is going to change my life and for once instead being afraid I am excited.
  • You cannot ignore what is banging around inside. This year has not been all accolades and positive growth. It has also been panic attacks and painful growth. Growth comes in all shapes, sizes, and feelings. It is easy to want to focus only on the good stuff but that does not mean the bad stuff magically disappears. All that does is push it down inside and your body suffers for it. I had a lot of mixed emotions when I graduated in the spring because that was a really big moment in my life. I tried to focus only on the good feelings of accomplishment and joy but it did not work. I had panic attack after panic attack and one day even had to go home early from internship. It was because there was a piece of me, a piece that holds trauma and some of my not-good-enoughs, that was actually mourning this awesome accomplishment. Think about it, this piece’s entire job was to keep me in this safe small place of not venturing out and not taking chances. By accomplishing this big thing and taking the risks I had to take to get there I essentially rendered this piece of myself obsolete. When this happened that piece of me felt me not needing it to keep me safe anymore and somehow my body knew to mourn that loss. It is like how some people are afraid of change, whether it be good change or bad change. They are afraid because they also have a piece inside them that wants to keep them safe and small and any kind of change threatens that piece. I don’t know if any of this makes sense, I know what I mean and ultimately that is all that matters. The bottom line is you cannot ignore negative emotions. They demand to be felt and will find a way.
  • I think another big lesson for me this year came around all the negative things that took place in 2016. A lot of awful things happened on a large scale like the Pulse shooting and Trump being elected etc. and difficult things happened in my own life on a smaller scale as well. I have noticed the way I respond to these types of things is changing. I cannot elaborate on that too much because I am still experiencing this change and do not have words for it right now. I think it is important though and I think it is growth as well.

So I think this is where I am going to stop. There is always more I could write, fitting the lessons and gratitude experienced within 365 days into one blog post is a tall ordered. I think I hit some of the big things, and I still have gratitude for everything I did not formally mention. It was a big year, filled with very high high points and very low low points. I am looking forward to the plans we have at the end; traveling, sleep overs with the kids, celebrating the holidays with friends and family, and just being together in love. It is a good life, I still have to pinch myself sometimes. I am grateful though, oh so grateful.

Light Workers

light-workers

I was watching a video recently about a young woman with cystic fibrosis and her message was all about being in pain and being able to see beauty. It was about life and death and not being afraid. The video ended with her sharing this pearl, the people who have been through the most are the people who have the most to give.

This morning my mother called to wish me a happy birthday. She asked what special thing I had planned for myself and I told her that today is my last day at internship this semester and I plan to meet with all of my clients and meet some goals with them. I have scheduled a busy day for myself. Up to this point I have not been able to meet with all of my clients in one day. My Mom responded by saying, well that is keeping in tune with who you are, you are going to spend your day giving of yourself.

Her words made me think of the young woman’s words..

I believe the light workers of the world have stepped into their truth because of the darkness they have known. I believe every great healer’s journey begins with healing themselves. It is the people who have been through the most who have the most to give back and it is because they understand on a deeper level how much what they have to give is needed.

I had another great week at internship. I am thankful for the clients I have been able to work with this semester. I am thankful for how we have impacted each other. I am thankful for a placement where I am given so many opportunities to learn and grow. I am thankful that as a country we have been catapulted into uncharted territories and that this has given the light workers this awesome challenge to turn up their light, to stand up and remain standing, to be an example of love every single day without falter.

There is amazing work to be done during this time in our world’s history, I am honored that I am living now and able to be a part of it. I am grateful to be waking up to my own truth, to be turning up my light and stepping into my greatness. I am thankful that by walking my own true path and I am able to help others find theirs and step into their greatness as well.

33 is going to be an amazing year. It will be transformative, and cleansing, a year of growth and truth, a year of greatness and great opportunities. 33 will be all of this and more, I can feel it.

My darkness is what has brought to this place. Dark times lead to deeper connections. A deeper connection to yourself, to humanity, to suffering, to love, to pain. Dark times lead to a love of light that you cannot know unless you have dwelled in a place where light did not exist. This is why those who have been through the most have the most to give. This is why it is so special that I get to spend my special day doing what I do, giving of myself and sharing my light.

Of course I would be happy to spend the whole day painting and reading and eating dark chocolate.. But this year this is what feels right. I love myself enough that if I did not want to work on my birthday I wouldn’t. This year I know this is where I am meant to be and this is what I am meant to be doing. The signs have been there all along. This is my special day so I am going to take all that light and love I feel for myself and that I am receiving from those who love me and want to celebrate me and I am going to share it.

healer

Happy Birthday to me. You’ve done good this year sweet girl. I love you and I know this next year will be one for the books.

Making Magic

For the past few weeks I found myself feeling a bit uninspired. I am so thankful for all my supports when I fall into little slumps like this. One day I came home to this postcard in the mail from one of my friends that was at the meditation/drum circle with me a few weeks ago.

badass

One: getting personal mail that is not a bill is so fun.
Two: How bad ass is this postcard?! and how bad ass is my girlfriend for thinking of me with it?!

Then for an early birthday present my parents gave me a dozen canvases. I was thrilled. I came home and started with this:

alaska

alaska1

It does not have a name yet, I am just calling it Alaska because that was the inspiration.

Mid-week last week when I was still sick I spent an entire miserable, feverish day on the couch. I ended up renting BFG because Roald Dahl is one of my heroes (right up there with Shel Silverstein and Jim Henson). It was so good I watched it twice that day. It was so whimsical and full of fantastic magic.

Slowly I felt myself coming back in good place. My joyful, inspired, light place.

Today I finally had a chance to process some of the anxiety I had been dealing with over the last few weeks with my therapist. My internship supervisor brought me some of my work with the rant she went on during supervision a few weeks ago and I am grateful for that. She said it was not about me but I was still triggered by it none the less and have work to be doing in this place, I don’t want to ignore the dark pieces of myself that reacted to what she said and the energy behind her message. I still have work around the word entitlement in particular. I am curious to see what I will learn about myself as I navigate this shadow piece further.

So after therapy I came home and finished working on my joyous bell stick, aka the infinite love shaker, aka Marge. She is ribboned and belled and absolutely beautiful.

joyous-love-stick

This is where I am at. Inspiration restored, magic flowing through my veins again, ready for some time off to let my inner artist run free (and not a moment too soon).

I have a few more posts to write based on the personal work I am currently doing to help me process it a bit more but I will save it. Not really in the mood right this moment. This week I turn 33 and I am not in the mood for dark writing. I just going to leave you with art and Marge and awesome pots cards and call it a day.

Happy birthday to me. Can’t wait to celebrate with hubs.

It is Time to Leave this Place

travel

 

In about a week and a half I will complete my final exam of the semester and officially be on break!! With that break will come much needed TRAVEL!!!! Can you tell I am excited?

Oh my God I need to get out of town so badly!! I really need to hit the “reset” button right now and travel always does that for me. When I was single in my mid-twenties my girlfriends and I traveled constantly. We were always going on weekend trips here and there. There is something seriously therapeutic about a change of scenery.

In two weeks hubs and I are going to Jacksonville to visit my soul friend who moved there last month. I cannot wait to see her new place and for the three of us to explore the city but more than that I am really just looking forward to seeing her. I’ve missed her. I got used to her living 5 minutes away. I may not have seen her all the time but it was comforting knowing she was right there and we could see each other on a random Thursday night for dinner at her apartment.

So that is coming up quick and I am thrilled.

We had been talking about a winter trip to the mountains for a while but after chatting via email with a few of the cabin rental companies we decided against it because our SUB is not 4 wheel drive and we felt it would not be safe for us to do the mountain roads in the snow. With that we took a winter trip off the table and decided we would travel over spring break instead. Well now we are revisiting the idea of a winter trip.

I am worn out (lets be real this is borderline burn out). Between the past two semesters of grad school and balancing full time school with full time internship I need a vacation. We have not taken a true vacation since last fall, it feels overdue. We have not started talking about new destination ideas, hubs had wanted to do Austin before so maybe that will be back on the table. I would honestly be fine keeping it simple and doing a quick road trip to South GA or something. We will see what we come up with. For all I care he can pick at random, I just want to get out of town.

I think we both also recognize that this may be the last big winter break we get together. When I working full-time again I am not going to get these nice long seasonal breaks where we can travel. Plus babies are going to be on the horizon at some point and that will change how we vacation as well. I think We both recognize that we need to travel while we still have the time to do it.

So yeah that is where things are at. I am counting down the minutes until winter break and trying not to have a melt down while studying for finals. Hubs is teaching himself new things at work and trying to keep smoke from coming out of his ears. Things are going well and we are exhausted. Such is life.

Mentoring

After Thanksgiving the flu took our home by storm. I missed an important day at school as a result but thankfully was given a make up assignment so my grade did not suffer. Our house was destroyed for days because we were sick at the same time and no one was cleaning up. It was hellish.

We both finally made it back to work and internship midweek and now we are just starting to get our life back in order.

It was a busy week at internship but a few exciting things are happening that I would like to share..

I have been asked to mentor two different upcoming social work students which is kind of fun. The first ask surprised me, it came from one of my own mentors. They reached out because they have a family friend whose daughter is thinking about applying to my college’s social work program. My mentor asked if I would be willing to mentor the daughter. I was surprised my mentor asked me as clearly they are capable (they have their LCSW already). Maybe the daughter is looking for someone closer to her age? ( I probably still have close to 15 years on her but that’s cool). I gladly agreed and have received an email from the daughter. We are planning to meet in a few weeks and she wants to know about the program and my personal journey etc. I hope I am able to answer her questions for her.

The second ask came from a friend of a friend. One of my girlfriend’s that was in my wedding has a friend who got her BA in sociology. Now she wants to do the MSW program. I am in contact with her now as she applies and have agreed to review her personal statement etc.

So this has been neat, I am excited to be able to help others on their journey. Every professional position I ever held before returning to school found me in some kind of training position, I really enjoy working with people who are new to something and helping them at the beginning. This feels natural to me. I love being in this cheerleader role in people’s lives.

The next exciting thing is a bit bigger.

A while back I mentioned in passing that I thought a job offer might possibly be on the horizon but that I didn’t want to count my chickens.. Well I still don’t want to count my chickens but…. I was asked if I would be interested in a position that is currently open. The person asking has the pull to get me in but right now I think they were only testing the waters to see if I was even interested. My impression is that they did not want to throw my name into the ring until they were sure it was even something I wanted.

I told them I was definitely interested and that I would want to know more about it. So they have started the ball rolling and are connecting me with the proper people.

My understanding based on the conversation we had is that there is a possibility that I could be working in a clinical position full-time as early as the beginning of next year. Apparently my not having my MSW yet would not be a problem because they know I will be graduating in May.

While all of this is so uncertain I have not even told my family yet (so friends from my real life who read this, please keep this under the hat), it is super validating to even be considered. And as much as I am trying not to get ahead of myself I am not going to lie to you I am excited! If I got this job I would be doing counseling, legit therapeutic counseling. I would be thrilled to have that kind of position straight out of college. I figured I would have to get a job that is clinical but heavier on the casework as a new grad. Almost all social work jobs involve some casework, that is part of what social work is, but this would be a more traditional clinical position where I would be doing therapy all day long.

We’ll see what happens. It would be nice to start working sooner than later and to not have to worry about trying to find a job after graduation.

It has been 4 years since I returned to school and as I enter the home stretch of this adventure I am really thankful for this whole awesome experience. I set goals for myself and blew each one out of the water. I never imagines at the beginning of this journey that I would be as successful as I have been. I really underestimated what I was capable of and my own natural gift for this kind of work. I am looking forward to what the next year will bring as I wrap up this part of my story.