The End

ending

Here I am on the other side of the place I never truly believed I would see. It has been 5 years. 5 years since I made the decision to return to school and embark on my biggest adventure, and a big adventure it was. The story is not over but it is time to close this chapter. I have to say that this chapter was one of my favorites so I am having some trouble saying good-bye.

In the last 5 years I returned to school, moved into my first home with my husband, got engaged, adopted the sweetest dog ever created, started the social work program, volunteered in multiple ways that made me feel fulfilled, got married, went on a honeymoon, vacationed numerous times, celebrated the life events of multiple friends and loved ones, welcomed three new babies to the family tree, went back to therapy, graduated with my BSW, won multiple social work awards, started grad school, traded in my car for our SUV, completed two internships, graduated a second time, won more social work awards, got hired on with an agency in a clinical capacity, and documented the whole thing right here on this blog.

I am so grateful for what this blog has given me. It is so much more than a photograph, much more than a fickle memory that fades with time, this blog is me. It is my experiences from my own perspective. It is my thoughts, my feelings, it is all of me.

I have loved this space so much. There is so much that I have learned about myself here, most importantly; I am a writer. I will continue to write because this place has shown me how important writing is.

Thank to everyone who has followed me during the last five years. Thank you for your support and encouragement. Thank you for bearing witness to this part of my story.

I don’t know exactly what comes next but I do know it will challenge me in new and exciting ways. I know it will invite me to step into my greatness in ways I never thought possible. And I know somewhere I will keeping record of all of it because I am a writer and I know no other way.

Thank you again for showing up. Sending you light and love.

With Gratitude,

Jillian AKA The Idealist

Love and Support

In a few hours I leave for soul camp. I felt the need to write once more before I go because I know I will not write over the weekend and am not sure when I will start writing again once I return. Last time I had plenty of inspiration when I got back but I was so exhausted I couldn’t do it; not right away at least.

I was packing the other night and walked out of the bedroom to get my face cream, when I returned I found Lu standing over my suitcase with a toy in her mouth. I watched from the doorway as she dropped her toy in my suitcase and walked off to lay down.

Lucy can definitely sense when something is up, especially when we are getting ready to leave. She gets anxious and paces usually. I about died when I saw this. It was her favorite toy right now, a stuffed carrot we got her for her birthday in March. I guess she wanted me to be comforted while I am away. What a sweet girl.

Then this morning my husband came into say goodbye and had a love note for me to take to soul camp. It talked about how he and Lu would miss me but that they know I am doing all the good work and that they support me.

When I got up this morning I felt myself starting to self-sabotage already. I felt my walls going up, I felt myself backing away from what I know my work is right now. I felt myself shrinking. Soul camp is a big commitment to deep work for an extended period of time as well as a commitment to allow yourself to be seen by others. As much as I look forward to soul camp, now that it is here I am scared. There is a fear that once I start speaking my truth out loud for others to hear you I won’t be able to take it back. I won’t be able to go back to the place of comfort and denial that existed before. I don’t even know if that is actually true or not; I mean really I can backslide all I want, no one can make me do the work but me.

I am way too inside my head right now. It is going to be fine. I have this incredible support system to return to after the weekend is done. It is going to be fine.

Graduation Surprise

I was sitting on the couch when my husband came home tonight. We were discussing this and that when he told me that he had one of my graduation presents for me. He left the living room and came back with a box that had been delivered the day before, he had told me that he ordered new books so I assumed nothing of it when it was dropped off.

He gave me a pair of scissors and I opened the package to find a laptop. I was a bit stunned honestly. It was very unexpected. We talked about him getting me a double frame for my diplomas, I thought that was that.

Up to this point I have been using his old laptop from when he was in college 10 years ago. It works fine and I have been quite content, I would have never guessed he had this planned for me.

It is very nice. It is smaller than the 10 year old laptop, lighter too. It is a laptop/tablet hybrid which is neat but maybe a bit more than I need. The main thing I like is that it starts up quick and has a nice keyboard.

Being the engineer he is he apparently spent quite a bit of time considering all my needs and getting me a laptop that he thinks will meet them. I appreciate the gift, what I really appreciate though is the effort. It is a very thoughtful gift and one I am sure to put to good use through all the writing I do for myself and the writing I will be doing for my new job as well.

I have had a lot on my mind and heart this week as I prepare for soul camp. The fact that I still have not spoken to my mother is weighing heavy on me as well. This was a welcome distraction.

He’s sweet man that man I married. I am grateful for the meaningful gift, I am more grateful for him.

What was said; What I heard

I read something that had a pretty big impact on me at a pretty important time which has led to the inspiration for this post. I have not spoken to my mother in a week. This would not generally be note worthy but this time it is. The last time we spoke ended badly and the space I thought I needed to take care for myself expanded from a half hour to multiple days to now a week.

During this week my Dad showed up in his normal role in our family: peace maker/mother fixer. My Dad picks up the messes of others so everything can stay neat and tidy and we can all pretend there is no mess. Dad also takes care of Mom, Mom comes first. Always.

The space has been painful. I feel like a terrible daughter, I feel like I am the problem, I feel like I am breaking my mother’s heart, I feel guilt, I feel shame, I feel like I will be a terrible mother. I feel self-doubt. I worry that my actions are manipulative, I am constantly second guessing myself. I feel unstable, out of control.

As the space has gotten bigger so has my truth; I feel rejected. I feel used. I feel blamed like a scapegoat. I feel resentment. I feel more stable. I am starting to gain clarity. I am starting to truly understand how much bigger than me this is. I am learning how to care for myself since the focus is not constantly on caring for her. My heart is aching. I feel let down.

Yesterday or the day before, I honestly cannot remember now, I was reading a blog that I have been following for a long time. It is a blog similar to my own; personal, searching, honest. I appreciate the honest part most. I admire and appreciate people who are willing to say out loud that life is hard, families are hard, relationships are hard. I see enough posed photos with perfect smiles, sometimes I need the honesty of how devastating losing a pet can be. This blogger shows up in her truth.

So I was reading this post that true to form was painfully honest and I definitely identified with parts of it. My truth is different from hers but I saw myself, my childhood self, in some of her writing.

I wasn’t sure I had the courage to be so honest but right now seems like the time. The only way for things to be different is to do things differently. That means honesty and stepping out from the shadow of denial. Last week my mother and I broke another vase, metaphorically speaking, and despite all his efforts my father was not able to sweep these pieces under the rug like so many broken pieces before it. So now I am going to stand here in the mess I helped make and accept Alma’s invitation to be seen in my truth.

What was said and What I heard:

Calm down: You are acting crazy. You are crazy.
This isn’t going to work: You can’t do this. You made a mistake. You did this wrong.
Your mother is really upset: Your mother is really upset and it is your fault. You need to apologize to your mother. Please fix this for me. I am scared.
Your brother _____________: I love him more. Your accomplishments, life, words, ideas, problems, are less important than his.
Mother-daughter relationships are hard: This is what it is, get used to it. Stop trying to change things. Stop upsetting the apple cart.
What is most important is that we love each other: Do you still love us? Are we good parents? Please don’t leave us. Family comes before everything, including your emotional well-being.
*Silence*: Fuck you. You are the worst. I will not bend. You will give me what I want. Who do you think you are? You owe me this. You are not stronger than me. Don’t make me angry. How dare you. I do not love you.

What I needed to hear:

This started long before you.
This is not your fault.
I own my part.
Take all the time you need, I will be here.
I am ready to really work on this.
The truth, the real honest truth.

 

There are a lot of ANDs that exist in this space of pain but this time I am going to keep my ANDs to myself. I know what they are and that is what matters. I do not feel compelled to make this mess pretty to make myself or anyone else more comfortable. Not this time.

mom

Honoring the In-Between

in-between

I am sitting in the middle of a glorious in-between and I did not want to let this time slip by without showing it the appreciation it deserves.

The in-between is such a special place, it is a place where all things are possible. It is a place of both certainty and uncertainty. You know where you have been, you know what came before but there is no promise of what comes next, just hope.

We can become so focused on the getting there without truly acknowledging the beauty of the in-between.

In thinking of the in-between my mind is gravitating towards a client I had at the beginning of the year..

She was with me much longer than most. Towards the end she was struggling, she was in her own in-between and wanted desperately to arrive. I came in for my shift at the beginning of one week to discover she was gone. I was overjoyed. Good for her, she made it, something worked out, she is going to be okay now, she is on the path towards love and healing. It was the best way to start my day, I was on a cloud.

Then one of the other therapists came in and shared with me the details of the client’s discharge.. I was no longer in my hopeful in-between, I had arrived at the truth and started to descend from my cloud. My client had AWOL’d. More came out about possible human trafficking once she was on the street and a break from reality.

This is why it is so important not to overlook the in-between. Although this was hard for me to hear and reality can be cruel, for a moment I got to experience a different reality for this client wherein she was safe, and loved, and everything worked out as she had told me she wanted it to. For moment all things were good.

Reality is not important in the in-between, just hope. Hope lives its biggest life in the in-betweens.

So as I sit in all of my in-betweens right now I send the universe a note of gratitude.

Thank you for my in-between before soul camp, and before my new job, and before becoming pregnant, and before all the exciting plans I have made for this year. Right now all good and amazing things are possible. Reality will come and I welcome it too, but right now I get to have this magical time with hope and I am grateful.

The Girl and the Sea

Once there was a girl who had been holding on too tightly. This was a girl who had always been afraid of losing; losing what, she never quite knew. Her mind, her heart, her self, her future, her favorite doll.. There was just always this nagging feeling that the world was not safe and so she needed to hold on tightly to make it through.

What this girl did not understand is that not everything can be held so tight. Holding too tightly can  make what looks like love feel like suffication. Holding too tightly can leave you white knuckled and arthritic, a body cannot withstand the constant pressure to hold on so tight.

This went on for a long time and for all her efforts she still experienced devastating losses. She never loosened her grip on the things she cared about or needed to hold on to but it did not keep her safe from losing like she had hoped. Still the girl held on too tightly because she knew no other way.

One day the girl went to the ocean and was invited to step out into the crashing waves. With trepidation she followed the leader and felt overwhelmed by the power. She could not hold on out in the current, she had no control. She grasped at the sand on the ocean floor but it slipped from her fingers.  She reached out for her leader and together they were tossed by the incoming tide. She realized there was nothing else she could do so finally she let go.

For a moment she let go of everything she had been holding too tightly and watched as the ocean washed it away; in it’s place she opened her hand and found an acorn. The symbolism she did not understand at the time.

That day the girl learned that when she let go of the things she was holding too tightly her hands were then open to receive what she was truly meant to hold.

the girl and the sea

Don’t Drink the Water

I often have a cup of tea when I am creating, particularly when I paint, and this is tricky.

I have definitely put my dirty paint water mug up to my lips before and just barely stopped short of drinking paint water thinking it was tea. So naturally when I saw this today I laughed out loud.

dont drink the water

This is an awesome idea but let’s be real this would make zero difference for me. My power of observation is so poor it would still be a crap shoot even with properly labeled mugs. I mean, the paint mug I use is this ugly dark green plastic camping mug, it looks and feels nothing like my tea cups and I have still had a few close calls.

Something else I saw that I totally responded to was this:

doubt

This is so a thing it is unreal! haha.

This was my inner dialogue today when I was sitting on my floor cushion piecing together my wreath:

Yeah.. I got something here, this is cool as hell.

Wait.. That’s not quite right. Shit The glue already dried. Shit. Fuck.

What the fuck am I doing? This is crap. Absolute crap. Dammit!

Okay, now wait a second.. If I just.. Okay, okay, that’s better.

Hell yeah man. Not bad girl. You got this.

The creative process is literally just one long sequence of celebration, cursing, self-doubt, and euphoria. It is a confusing awesome roller coaster that I never get sick of riding.

Making

This morning I slept in and woke to the sound of music. My husband and pup were in the living room and kitchen listening to Pandora and waiting for me to join them.

We spent the day together quiet and creating. It was my favorite kind of day.

Here is what we made:

fire place2fire place

My husband promised a while back to make some kind of candle display for our fire place because we live in Florida and never have a real reason to use it. Today he delivered on that promise and I could not stop kissing him. I think it is stunning. Tonight we lit up all the tea lights while we spent time in the living room together, it changed the entire feel of the room. It feels more like a home, our home.

My creative inspiration came from one of my own personal truths around the word AND. I have discussed many times how looking for the AND in life has been a big part of my personal journey towards healing. The AND represents the gray area, it represents the space where all things are possible.

door wreath

This is the third wreath I have made but the first I have made since living in this home. It certainly has deeper personal meaning for me than any wreath I have created previously. I look at this as the welcome sign on our door letting all souls who cross our threshold know this is a safe space to show up just as you are.

It was a good day. I am grateful.

Infinite Ways to Add to Nine

You’ve heard the expression More than One Way to Skin a Cat?

Well I hate that expression. So a long time ago I came up with my own version. I say: There is more than one way to add to nine.

I say this when I reach an impasse with someone where we are unable to find common ground. I say this with clients who get stuck in black and white thought patterns. I say it often.

My point is simple: there are lots of options out there and none of them are wrong, they are just different.

Fun fact: My favorite way to add to nine is 5+4. That was until tonight..

Today I finished the last paper of my college career. It was a research paper about the effectiveness of guided visualization, I could not have planned that better if I tried. I feel like I went out with a very authentic bang!

All morning while I was writing my paper and taking breaks my sweet husband was scurrying away trying to find something special for us to do once I finished. He wanted to celebrate me tonight. He would come in while I was writing and present a menu for a new restaurant for my review. Nothing was really appealing to me. A lot of restaurants think having a salad menu is enough of a vegetarian option, I whole-heartedly disagree.

On one of my breaks we came up with a plan. We found our own way to add to nine.

When I finished my paper and clicked “submit” I began to cry. I caught myself off guard, apparently it had been sitting there just beneath the surface waiting for me to finish this one last thing.

I went and found my husband charting out his math equations in the bedroom and I flopped down on top of him and let the tears flow.

I did it. I can’t believe it, I did it.

I completed a graduate program. I am a woman with a Master’s degree. I am the first woman in my family to attend college and I now have a Master’s degree.

I cried and cried.

I just cannot believe it. I can’t believe it. I did this! I DID THIS! I DID IT!

Then I started jumping on the bed and laughing and throwing blankets everywhere!

I DID IT! I FUCKING DID IT! I DID IT!!!!!

It was great fun, really it was, until I landed on my husband’s hand. He was okay though so I kept laughing and punching the mattress.

I did it man! I did it!

I left my husband to his math for a while longer and honestly I don’t even know what I did. I was so happy I was incoherent.

Later hubs and I started our master plan for the evening.

We headed to the grocery and picked up produce, ginger beer, ricotta, and naan. Then we came home and got to work.

We celebrated by making vegan/vegetarian naan pizzas with all of our favorite ingredients, our favorite cock/mocktails – the Moscow mule, and set up our dining room table like an trendy/artisanal restaurant. We brought the romantic dinner to our home.

naan pizza

We made three pizzas:

  1. Hummus, kalamata olives, plum tomato, artichoke hearts, sauteed onions and green peppers, basil.
  2. Tika Masala sauce, cumin sauteed garbanzo beans, mango, purple onion, mint.
  3. Ricotta cheese, blackberries, basil, black ground pepper.

We also made a pear salad which ended up being delicious but over kill, we had plenty of food.

When our dinner and cock/mocktails were ready we set the table and put on our Ben Howard Pandora station for mood music.

date night in1date night in

Over dinner we talked about our past, present, and future. We talked about my growth over the last 6 years that we have been together, and our growth together. We talked and talked and it was wonderful and romantic and just good in a very honest comfortable way. At one point I said what I often do about adding to nine in reference to how I went about earning my degree, I took the rode less traveled you could say. Then my husband said, it is more than that. It’s not just that there is “more than one way to add to nine”, there are infinite ways to add to nine.

There are infinite ways to add to nine because the options are endless. The options are endless. There is no right or wrong or good or bad, there are just infinite options, there is no limit to what is possible. Each person has there own unique path towards their own personal truth, the options are endless.

My path looked different from the paths of others, that is because it belongs to me and I walked it just as I was meant to. My mathematical husband helped me stand firmer in one of my own personal truths today.

 

Party Pants On!

So something pretty incredible happened today when I woke up and sat in the reality that I am graduating in a few weeks, I am done with my internship and assignments at the end of this week, and I now have a job locked down.. I felt calm.

I know I have been carrying a burden of anxiety this semester (mainly related to my lack of clarity in terms of future employment), I did not realize how heavy that burden was until I finally set it down and allowed myself to take a nice deep breath.

That is exactly what it feels like to.. It feels like all year long I have been holding my breath waiting for this to be figured out and now that not only is this piece figured out but I am now also at the end of this part of my journey, I can stop holding my breath and take a nice deep breath in!

I am so excited for so many things and I finally feel like I can put on my party pants and celebrate! Lets be clear, my party pants are tie dye yoga pants, and me celebrating is pretty much me dancing around my own living room with the dog, but Yeah man! Let’s do this!

There is so much to look forward to:

I am FINALLY done with school! Which equals NO MORE PAPERS!! I love to write but on own my terms. I am so freaking excited to be done writing research papers and personal papers etc etc.

I am about to have my freaking Master’s degree! Suck on that not-good-enoughs!

I did an awesome job at internship this semester, got nominated for a few more awards, and ultimately conquered some major fears/insecurities. I had the growth experience I wanted to have, that is a big win in my book.

Soul Camp is next week. All kinds of excited about that.

I get a month off to relax and transition into my new position.

I got a job, huge weight off my shoulders there. And it is not just that I got a job, I got the job I wanted. Extra points!

Hubs and I will be traveling in May. Sounds like we will be meeting his parents in one of the iconic southern towns in a neighboring state and having a long weekend. I am excited to see my in-laws and just excited to travel in general. If his parents are unable to go, there is a chance that could happen, I think we may just do a beach trip but that is still welcome!

In September one of my soul friends/my hubs best girlfriend from college is getting married!!!!! My joy for her is unmeasurable. That will be another trip as she is out of state. It will be my first time in the state she lives in, excited to explore and celebrate her.

It sounds like the next Soul Camp will be in October and this one is going to be around sex. It is going to be HEAVY. Sounds like rather than just one weekend it will be a week long retreat. I am not a guaranteed Yes on this one. The subject matter is certainly relevant for me, I have a lot of really difficult work to do in this area. I think it will just depend on where I am at in my life. October may not be that far off but a lot can happen in a few months.

Then November we have another trip planned. This is the one I am really looking forward to this year, we will be going to the mountains with Lu.

I am sitting in a whole lot of gratitude right now. There is a lot to be thankful for. There is a lot to look forward to. I don’t know how I feel about the fact that I was delaying my feelings of joy, I wasn’t completely aware I was doing it until after I stopped. My party pants are on now though that is for sure!

Counting Down to Soul Camp

shadow work1

I am about one week out from Soul Camp and I cannot wait. I am not going to lie to you, I am more excited about Soul Camp than I am about finishing internship or graduating. This is what I have been looking forward to most about the end of the semester. I swear it is coming at the perfect time too. I am finally done with college and here Soul Camp is to catch me. Gratitude for that for sure.

So I have mentioned that this time around soul camp is about shadow work. I have been doing shadow work since November so I arrogantly thought Oh this is going to be easy..

Then I got dropped kicked in the face by my truth. While the work I have been doing is important and for some might feel deep, for me it is completely surface level. It is part of my work but it is not my TRUE shadow work. My true shadow work is deeper and darker and I don’t even feel like saying more about it because my truth is I would rather just leave my blinders up and not do the work at all.

I’ll just stay up here and work on my relationship with entitlement ignoring what lies beneath..

I am not at all happy about this revelation I have had but I know that is where my real work is right now and I am going to try my best to show in my truth at Soul Camp. I did that last time and although it was AWFUL in the moment I think it brought a lot of the other women their work and gave them an invitation to be messy and awful as well.

I already know two things I can, and really need to do, in order to commit to doing this work while at soul camp. The very thought of it brings up deep feelings of grief for me.. I’ll keep processing it and see where I land.

I am really am so grateful for the timing of soul camp this time around, it is so right. I will be done with something huge and going into a major life transition so the extra support will be awesome. Plus I will be coming back to absolutely no commitments. I do not start my new job right away so I will have ample downtime to process whatever comes up while at soul camp. THAT is the real gift.

 

Employed!

The interview went well yesterday; so well in fact that a portion of the way through she flat out told me that based on how things were going she already knew she wanted me. At that point the conversation changed to this is how things work, what questions do you need answered to feel comfortable accepting the position?

I am glad that she felt as sure about me as I did about the position. I knew going into it that I was interested, I really just needed to see if she was going to throw anything at me that was going to be a deal breaker, and she didn’t.

I know that this is the next step on my path. As unclear as everything has been up to this point that is how certain I am now.

I am not saying that this is my dream job or that I will do it long term even, I am just saying I know that is where I am meant to be right now on my journey.

The true underlying purpose of this internship I just completed was to put myself outside of my comfort zone and do work that I was scared of and intimidated by. I didn’t fully know at the the time why that was important, I just knew that was what I was supposed to be doing at that moment.

Now I know.

I had to do that for myself so I knew I could. I had to shut down fear, and self-sabotage, and my not-good-enoughs by standing in the middle of all of them and doing it anyway. And doing it was not enough. I had to show myself that I could be as successful in that place of fear and uncertainty as I am in my place of expertise.

I am realizing that that fear and self-sabotage and shame are going to show up when I am doing anything that allows me to step into my power and truth. I also recognize they are doing it to protect me because for a long time staying small and hidden felt safe. Now I am going to create a new place of safety and it is going to be on the top of the mountain, not down at the bottom hidden underneath a bridge.

I know what my end goal is and I know that this is the step I am meant to take right now to get me closer.

I am excited about the opportunity for growth I have in this position. I am also scared, but that is good, the kind of fear that is showing up tells me that I am doing something right.

I am excited to be on my own for so many reasons:

They train me as I go, not before. I will be jumping in with both feet. That is going to be a huge place of growth for me. Of course I would like to be fully trained and prepared before ever taking on my first client. This might be a little painful at first but it is going to shoot my confidence level through the roof once I get through it, and I will get through it.

I will have support if anything comes up where I need it but I will not have a clinician with me at all times for me to check in. Essentially no safety net. Another tremendous growth opportunity!! I am going to have to learn to trust myself and my clinical instincts. This is self-reliance 101. I am scared and thrilled all at once.

I am responsible for diagnosing, and filing with insurance, and getting all the proper forms signed, and I will have hard deadlines for documentation if I want to get paid. This is all going to prepare me for when I am doing this completely on my own.

A lot of what scares me about running my own show one day is going to come up organically in this position I have accepted. I am have the opportunity to face and conquer these fears right out of the gate! I am still afraid of them but that is okay. I am going to do this work and I am going to be good and it is all going to be okay.

Like I mentioned before there are some clear downsides to doing contract work. It is not a steady income like being on payroll is for one. Ultimately though, for me, the experience out weighs any negatives. It is strictly clinical, I am making my own schedule, but most importantly this work is going to prepare me for my ultimate goal in a way no other position can right now. These are the fears I need to overcome right now and this job provides space and opportunity for me to do that.

I am grateful. I know I am exactly where I am meant to be right now and DAMN! Does that feel good!

yes

I Need Some Time to Take Care of Myself

I said this to my mother today after she said something to me that was an instant trigger. My mother knows how to push my buttons. Of course she does, she created them!

The moment I felt myself losing control I showed up for myself: I need to get off the phone. I am upset and I need some time to take care of myself. I love you, I am not mad at you but I am upset and I need to not be on the phone right now. We can talk later.

It was important to me that I spoke my truth and got off the phone as soon as possible. I did not want to be pulled back in, my mother often tries to pull me back in.

Mom: Well I don’t know how to respond to that.

Me: Yes, I understand this might be confusing for you and I am sorry about that but right now this is what I need. I have to get off the phone, we can talk later.

……Silence……

Me: Mom. I really need to do this for myself right now but it is important to me that I am not hanging up on you so can you please let me know that you are okay so I can go?

I look down at my phone. She had already hung up on me.

Jokes on you kiddo.

I stood there in my fury and rejection and cried. Here I was needing to take care of myself but still putting her first. I was afraid of how my just hanging up the phone would make her feel while the whole time she had already it done it me. I was trying to mother my mother who was not mothering me. The only person I needed to be mothering was myself. And that is just what I did.

A half hour later my dad was calling. This is typical. This is one of our patterns. Mom and I fight, Mom tells Dad, Dad smooths it over. Nothing is resolved, just ignored. Dad is the reset button.

No thank you.

I turned off my phone and spent the rest of the hour taking care of me and mothering my inner child that felt completely rejected and destroyed by her mother.

I do not know how I have the clarity of mind to even write this right now. My mother is tornado, her path of destruction is wide and I am often left in utter shock and confusion in the emotional wake of it all.

I still do feel a bit shell shocked but I this time I showed up for me and that made a difference.

inner child

Sovereignty

Tomorrow is my interview. This interview feels like the thing I have been holding out for. I cannot explain why that feels true, it is just a feeling.. A knowing.

I have been riding a major wave of anxiety leading up to this interview and today was the crescendo. I thought my anxiety was rooted in a fear of failure, ie: screwing up in the interview or not being what they want. Now I am realizing it has less to do with that, although yes that is a piece of it, and more to do with the bigger picture.

The bigger picture being my expectations for this position and how high I have allowed my hopes to get. The bigger picture being not my fear of failure in the interview but my fear that this job will be everything I want at this moment in my life and somehow I will ruin this for myself. The bigger picture being my fear of success.

I have mentioned before I have a fear of my own greatness. It is scary to say out loud the things that you want. It is scary to allow yourself to be seen and be heard and try to fly when you still unsure if your wings will hold you.

Here is my truth:

I not only want to get this job, I want this job to be everything I am hoping it will be. I want to set my expectations high and have them met. I want this to be the learning experience I need. I want to feel fulfilled by the work and know that I am growing. I want to be successful.

I emailed one of my soul friends today who has had some recent experiences with taking big chances professionally and asked her to lend me some courage. Oh man did she deliver! I guess it is because she has some to spare, this girl has been my inspiration in terms of bravery in recent years.

Then because I felt the desperate need to be in control of something in my life I cleaned my entire house. The bathrooms, the laundry, the kitchen, the floors, dusting, outdoor work, redecorating.. I did it all today. I was a total Susie-homemaker. It did help to give that nervous energy a place to go as well as regain a sense of control over my life for a moment.

When I finished I grabbed some of my self-care tools: my Mother’s Wisdom deck, my Self-Care deck, my sage.. I lit my sage and pulled a card from each.

From the self-care deck I pulled Peace: “Embrace your confusion. Let their be peace in not knowing all of the answers”.

I felt like that was aimed at my controlling piece who is clearly struggling right now when so much is out of my hands.

Will this position live up to my expectations? Will I still be interested even if it does not? Will they want me? Can I do this? Am I ready?

There are no answers for these questions right now so I have to step back from my need to control and let myself experience peace. I recently did a few different guided meditations around water.. the ocean and a river.. both had the same message of surrender. Don’t fight the crashing waves. Don’t try to fight against the current. Instead, allow the water to carry you and trust that you will not be pulled under, trust that you will float and the water will take you where you are meant to go.

Message recieved.

From the Mother’s Wisdom deck I pulled Queen Victoria: Sovereignty. Whose shadow is dependency.

I have to just say, as an aside, I love that this desk not only outlines the meaning of the card you pulled but also the shadow piece that goes along with it. Sometimes what we are experiencing is the shadow and it helps to have that piece included. The description of this card said it all:

To feel whole, one must have dominion over oneself. Drawing sovereignty indicates a hunger to determine the course of your own life. In taking up the mantle of sovereignty – making decision for yourself- you risk exposing yourself to the criticism of others. Do not be deterred. What makes you unique is inviolable. Sovereignty begets acceptance. When we embrace ourselves as we are, we accede to our rightful majesty.

A big piece of my fear pf failure and fear of success has to do with the fact that in this position I am responsible for myself. I would be my own boss, the agency would be contracting me for my services. Do I really believe I can do this?

Sovereignty begets acceptance. When we embrace ourselves as we are, we accede to our rightful majesty.

The only person I have to convince that I am ready for this is me. I have always been my biggest critic and even though I have moved towards a place of nurturing and self-love that does not mean that all of my shadows have been silenced. I still have a long road ahead of me on my personal path of love and healing.

But yes, I do believe I can do this. Not only that, I believe I deserve this!

That’s right I said it.

I believe that I deserve everything that I wish for in this life and so far I have gotten it. I will see my dreams come true in this area as well because I have the power to do that for myself.

After I drew my cards I sat with the feelings that came up and saged myself to release anything that needed to be released.

I am feeling much more grounded and ready for this interview tomorrow.

I release all the messages of doubt and criticism in this moment. They are not my truth and they do not serve me. I give these messages back to those whom they came from. They do not belong to me and I will no longer allow them to call my body home.

I believe that tomorrow will work out exactly as it is meant to. I will stop swimming against the current and allow myself to be carried. I trust that I will arrive where I am meant to be.

When I was looking for an image to go with this post this is the second image that came up and as 2 is my number I clicked on it to see if it fit..

powerful

I am powerful. This was the exact message I needed today and I got it. I got it from my soul friend, I got it from the cards I pulled, I got it in so many ways. Most importantly I am able to say this to myself and know it is true.

 

Sweet Spot

balance1

I have been sitting in a lot of gratitude this week, particularly around bedtime and when I first wake up in the morning. This gratitude is coming from the balance I have been able to keep these last few months. I do not take it for granted and since I know that in the near future things stand to change I would like to take a minute to give thanks for what I have right now.

I am grateful that my current schedule has allowed me to have time in the evening with my family while still getting to bed at a reasonable time.

I am grateful that my current schedule has allowed for me to soak up 9 restful hours of sleep a night, which I have found is my sweet spot for productivity during the day.

I am grateful to have found a morning routine that starts my day on the right foot. It is a combination of waking up with the sun (not an alarm clock), and still having 2 or 3 hours to myself before having to start my day. I get to have a quiet morning of writing or meditation or anything that suits me (normally it is writing though). Time that belongs to me before I ever have to interact with the world. Starting my day this way has made all the difference for me. In the past my day started with turning on the news and scoping out social media while rushing around my house to get ready for the day. It was stressful and it was self-inflicted at that. I am thankful that I made the needed changes to find my balance and start my day in a positive energy space.

I am grateful for the time change that now gives my husband and I daylight at the end of our day to walk the dog or lay in the hammock. Even if we just go about our evening routine as usual it is nice that we are home together before the sun sets; it does not feel like we have spent the entire day away when we come home and the sun is still up.

Finally I am grateful for my husband who has everything to do with this all being possible (except for the time change of course). His support both emotionally and financially created space for me to walk this path and do so in a way that has felt right to me. I am grateful for the security and stability he brings to my life. I am grateful that my happiness and well-being has always been such a high priority to him. I would never normally say this because of the religious connotation but the truth is, I know I am blessed. I am the one that has made my life into what it is but he created a safe space for me to do it and the support I needed to see it through. Of all the things I am grateful for that I want to be mindful of so I never take them for granted, he will always be at the very top of that list.

Growing Out a Pixie

I started writing this exact same post around this same time one year ago and as a result I immediately put down my laptop, scheduled a hair appointment, and cut all of my hair off.

The reason: the pixie grow out is an absolute bitch.

When I started writing this post a year ago I realized half way through that the pixie cut is the easiest, most low maintenance hair style there is and suddenly I felt like a fool for ever wanting to grow it out. Well not this time. I am ready to grow my hair out and I will not talk myself out of it.

The high points of the pixie cut (this is where I got myself last time):

It is easy, it is cute, it is both feminine and hard at the same time, there is really no such thing as a bad hair day, you never have to worry about the weather (which is a huge plus in Florida).

The only real low points I can make about the pixie cut are that you rarely get the exact same hair cut twice when you go for your monthly trim. I feel like every time it is slightly different and I have had the same woman doing my hair for the last three years. When it is this short and different parts of your hair grow faster than others consistency is sometimes difficult. The other point is bed head. I get wild looking bed head with a pixie cut. It only takes me 5 minutes to do my hair but I have to do my hair every single day, no exceptions. There is no option to throw it up in a bun, I have to style my hair everyday. Still I can’t complain because it is so easy. Wash, 2 minute blow dry, add some wax, and you are out the door.

So why am I growing it out (I never made it to this part of the post last time, I feel like if I had then maybe I wouldn’t have run off to cut it all off again):

I miss putting it up. I miss straightening sections of my hair (never thought I would say that because the pixie is so easy but I do). I miss my messy waves. I miss the way my hair fans out when I float in water. I miss my husband running his fingers through my hair when I am laying on him. I miss the way my hair frames my face.

I have to keep reminding myself everyday how much I miss this stuff because I was not lying when I said the grow out is a bitch, it is an absolute nightmare. Luckily I have always been very creative with my hair and have found ways to make it bearable but it is still hard.

Everything people say about it is true:

The hair at the back around your neck grows faster which means I am always one hair cut away from a mullet and I have to be very careful.

You go through stages where you feel like Trump with the comb over, and then Bieber with the unruly shag that falls in your face.

The worst part is trying to make it look quasi-professional. Ugh! It’s so hard!

If I had things my way I would wear a head scarf or a hat everyday until I am at the angled bob stage. That is not an option when you have to present yourself professionally. I relish my days off when I don’t have to fight to style it (it is easy to style when it is short, it is impossible when it grows into the shag) and I can throw a bunch of bobby pins in and not give a shit what I look like.

I keep reminding myself how fast my hair grows and pulling up my Maybe Matilda chart to see where I am at with my growth:

maybe matilda

I am at the three month now:

pixie

I’d say I am on par. I can’t wait for the 8th and 9th month mark though, styling will be so much easier, or so I hope.

Every night I go to bed and will my hair to grow. My final thoughts before drifting off are of my long thick locks being returned to me.

I love the pixie cute, I think it will always be my favorite style I ever wore, but it is not an easy transition when you are ready for something new.

You are a Wackadoo

This is what my husband said to me tonight when I demanded that he smell my book and stuck the open pages up to his face.

Me: What does that smell like to you?

Hubs: An old book! Get out of here man!

I am currently rereading one of my absolute favorite books of all time; On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt.

It was my mother’s book. It smells OLD. My husband was certainly right about that.

The book has a faded cover that was once a dark navy with a black binding. Now the edges are tattered and the binding is turning white from being bent too harshly over the years.

On the bottom left corner of the cover there is a drawing of a flower vine I created years and years ago as a girl when I first read the book.

On the inside written in cursive are the words Carlton Arms. This was my parents first apartment complex that they lived in together as newly weds in their early 20’s, it makes me wonder if my mother stole this book from some little library they had at the complex. Ha! I literally solved the mystery of where the book came from right after I wrote that sentence. There is a brown piece of tape at the bottom of the very first page under the cursive inscription. I held the page up to my lamp to see what the tape was covering and underneath was a ink stamp that reads: Library Winter Park Memorial Hospital.

Maybe my Mom was a little crook after all. She worked at that hospital and that is where my brother and I were born. One way or another sounds like she snatched the book. I am glad she did, I would never have read this book if I hadn’t run out of my own books to read when I was younger. With no other option I read one of my Mother’s books and this title intrigued me.

I have many favorite books. This is primarily because I have a very hard time picking singular favorites. The best I can do is pick top 3s or top 5s. Never a definitive this is my one true favorite though.

Every few years I read this book. I never get tired of the story. Every time I read it I learn something new about both the story and myself based on my current phase of life. I don’t think I will ever stop loving this book and while I don’t have a true favorite when it comes to my books, this one is special.

So many books I read have a deliberately weathered look with pages that have been tattered by some machine to give them interesting texture. This book came by its distress honestly though. This book has been loved hard. It smells like dust and aged paper, it is fragile and some pages are close to falling out. You can’t get this feeling from a kindle. This book has had a life, a good one. It has been loved.

I am excited to come back to something familiar and precious. It feels like the right time to revisit a story that fills my heart with all the good stuff.

Okay little Lenchen, give me your best.

Looking Out for Each Other

looking out

Recently in talking with friends this topic has come up about getting needs met in relationships. Whether these are intimate relationships, social, familial.. We have different needs depending on the relationship.

I have said this before and I still hold it as one of my personal truths: I do not believe a person can be sustained by just one relationship. That is a lot of pressure to put on another person, to meet every single one of your needs. I say this because I think sometimes there is this (unrealistic in my opinion) idea that when we partner off with whomever our “forever” person ends up being, they are supposed to do this for us; meet every single need. Or “complete” us.

That is not my truth.

My husband absolutely meets a lot of my needs but this sweet man cannot do it all and I would never want him to.

The conversation came up again today at internship between myself, another intern, and one of the social workers who I think I will probably stay personally connected with once I leave. We were exchanging numbers and agreeing to stay in touch. We were talking about how important it is that we (social workers) look out for each other. What was meant by this is that we keep in touch and get together from time to time to hold space for each other.

I do not discuss work with my husband. I might tell him Hey I got a great review or today was hard or my supervisor said this weird thing to me that I don’t get, but I do not talk about the actual work. Most of my clients have survived severe trauma. There stories are sacred. And more over, if my husband was able to hold space for this kind of work he would have become a social worker himself. My husband is not a social worker and he cannot hold space for this kind of work and I have no right to burden him. I do not discuss work with my husband, or my family, or my friends. They might get a two second snippit of something surface level but that is it and that is rare.

This is one example of how I do not expect my husband to meet all of my needs for me. The truth is sometimes I need to discuss social work, in a confidential/ethical way, and I have my social work people for that. This is how we look out for each other. They will not become annoyed if I needed to vent about the red tape that I am encountering that is getting in the way of me getting my client the services they need. They will nod along as I complain about silly things that happen during a therapy session like me not being able to control my body while someone is disclosing part of their trauma and suddenly I sneeze in the middle of their tears. Sometimes I show up in human ways and I need someone else to be like Oh gosh, that is the worst, listen to what I did..

This is true for me in other ways as well. I have always been a girl that needs girlfriends. I need female companionship. My girlfriends show up for me in a way my husband would be clueless to, and that is okay, I would never have this expectation of him.

Then there is my therapist. I would never expect my husband to try to hold any of my stuff for me. It is my stuff to work through, asking him to hold it would only complicate our relationship and blur important boundaries. My therapist is there to hold that space so I can hold my stuff and work through it in healthy ways.

I could keep listing examples of how all of these different relationships are so important and need to be separate. At the end of the day the only person I should ever be looking to take care of all of my needs is me. I am responsible for that, just me. And part of how I take care of me is by enlisting all these awesome people to hold a little space now and then, and as a thank you I return the favor for them.

I am looking out for me and we are all looking out for each other and it works.

Holding Out Hope

I think I may have found the position I have been waiting for. So far all the interviews I have gone to have not felt right for one reason or another, somehow I knew I was waiting for something and I had not found it yet. I am wondering now if maybe my search is over.

First I have to admit that I have not even gone to the interview for the position yet. I actually wasn’t giving this interview any more weight than any of the other interviews I had been on so far, that all changed yesterday at internship though.

I was in my office typing up an assessment I had just completed with a new client when my favorite social worker walked by and popped in to say Hi. This social worker is one of the reasons I have loved this internship so much. I believe some people were made to mentor, she is one of these people. She is open and supportive and always has this impossibly calm exterior. She is a protege of one of my own mentors so it is not shocking honestly because he is phenomenal as well.

So she came and in, had a seat and we started chatting. She asked about job prospects (she already knows about those I have turned down) so I updated her on my upcoming interview and how I was unsure what to expect because the agency does not have a website so I cannot do much in the way of research. When I told her the name of the agency she immediately said “Take the job”.

That was so unlike her. She never gives direct advice, she always processes with you and allows you to arrive at your own conclusions. Come to find out this is the agency she worked at before coming to our agency. She said the women at the agency are her second family and that it is some of the best work she has ever done. I asked questions that she was able to answer and now I have a much better idea of what to expect from this interview. I even know what questions I would like to ask during the interview.

It is a contract position so she helped highlight some of drawbacks related to that; like the fact that nothing is provided in the way of equipment to do the job. You are using your own phone to schedule appointments, your own computer to document notes and file with insurance, you are putting miles on your car driving to meet with your clients, you are responsible for taking money out for taxes etc. The way she explained it is that you are a business owner and the agency is contracting your services.

The benefit comes in the form of experience. I am always looking for my next big growth opportunity. With this internship in came in the form of doing two new things I had never done before: working for an inpatient agency and working with a population I had never worked with previously; a population that, truth be told, I was intimidated by.

I think one of my big growth opportunities if I end up in this position would be learning how to do this work on my own. Being responsible for myself, not relying on an agency to provide for me in the way of having an office, and someone taking my taxes out for me, etc. If my end goal is private practice I might actually learn a thing or two about managing things through this work.

I also like that this agency appears to serve a wide range of clients so there would be plenty of diversity.

I spoke with hubs about everything I learned last night and we both agree that this may be what I have been holding out for. Yes, there maybe some expenses involved for us on the front end but in the long run this might be the right fit.

I am finally excited about an interview. I am curious to see what they tell me and what my impressions will be once I get there. I am holding out hope that this is what I have been waiting for and that it will all work out. Fingers crossed now, we’ll see what comes.