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.

 

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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.

Little Glimmers

I had something close to a break through with a client today. This is a client I am working with for the second time. They were in our program lat year and returned recently after AWOLing from another program. I was sad to discover this client had regressed considerably since the last time I worked with them. Then after observing the client in ways I had not had the opportunity to previously I started to wonder are they regressing or did I never know the full story?

I worked with this client for only a few days last stay, this time I have had them for weeks so I am definitely uncovering more.

Session started on an intense note today. I had to assertively set boundaries with the client on multiple planes before we even started session then the topic was not an easy one to navigate which led to a lot of gentle confrontation with the client.  Ultimately by the end of session we had turned a major corner and I was able to build the beginning of a bridge with this client on an issue they have been struggling with and taking next to no accountability for up to this point. It was a little glimmer of what is possible with motivation and empowerment.

I am grateful that my supervisor trusts me with complicated cases. I am grateful that I have been challenged and made uncomfortable so often during this internship that it has given me the opportunity to step into my own place of empowerment. I am also thankful that I have been working with a population who are mandated to receive counseling services based on how our program is funded. This is not the ideal situation for clinicians, typically you want clients who want to do the work, when client’s are mandated they are  not always willing participants. This internship has presented so many awesome obstacles for me to work through and overcome.

It may have been an uphill journey but you better believe my social work muscles are strong as hell thanks to the path I chose to walk!

A New Option Emerges

I got another call today about an open position I could potentially be considered for. I am maybe more excited about this opportunity than the one that popped up last week. This position is a clinical contract position that depending on your point of view can be good or bad.

I choose to see it as good. I have heard mix reviews about contract positions, one aspect I like the idea of is making my own hours. I dont always thrive in a traditional 9-5 environment. I like flexibility and options, this would offer that.

One possible down side is in the area of benefits. In terms of healthcare that is not a concern as I am insured through my husband. Lack of benefits in terms of vacation I am also not too concerned about; I am thankfully in a position where taking unpaid leave would not hurt our financial situation much. Lack of benefits regarding maternity leave is somewhat troubling but that is still a little ways off so I don’t know that it would be a deal breaker especially if this is the kind of job I am looking for out of college.

I had hopes of getting hired on with an agency in a clinical capacity where I would be providing traditional therapeutic services. If I am going to be paying to get myself trained on certain models and techniques I would like to have an environment to work on these skills in. Although, truth be told I had somewhat resigned to that fact that I would very likely be doing casework straight out of college because the field is competitive and I do not have much of an edge over licensed social workers when it comes to these open clinical positions.

Clearly I have a chance though because that is the second call in a week for an interview for a therapeutic position. I still don’t have a real clear sense of direction in terms of the immediate future of my career (outside of the trainings I want to sign myself up for) I am excited to have options. This is not a bad place to find myself in.

 

Honoring My Inner Child

One night I walked into the living room of the house I grew up in and announced to my mother that I knew what I wanted to do with my life. She turned off the TV, turned her body towards me.. I had her full-attention. I explained my business plan for the restaurant I was going to open where all the food would be free so no one would ever be hungry.

I was 10 years old, I was an idealist, and without knowing it I was taking my very first unconscious step in the direction of my future: social work.

When I think back about the girl I was (and still am in many ways) I know I have made her proud.

I know because I never got too old to pick flowers, and never too cynical to see my flowers as weeds. I know because I never gave up my dream of healing the world and never stopped believing I was capable of spreading love on that level. Proud because I took deliberate action towards creating that healing space in the world through my direction with social work. Proud because I went back and picked up all of my pieces and started my healing and vision of love with me, as it should be. I know because I feel the warmth of that little girls sunshine still beaming from my body.

I made that little girl proud. I did that.

May I walk through the rest of my days as certain in this truth as I am now. That little girl had a plan to heal the world, and I know I am making her proud.

magic

Opportunity Comes a Knocking

I got a call back yesterday for an interview. It is for a clinical position which I was excited to hear. It is with an inpatient substance program. I have done inpatient before and I have worked with clients with substance use issues. I have never worked on a program like this before though which makes this a great option for me. I want new experiences with new populations. I do not want to go where I have already been, I want to grow in a forward direction.

Right now I am playing phone tag with the agency representative who reached out to me. We will see how things go with this potential interview. I will report as things move along.

Continuing Education

I have been given a plethora of information from mentors and professors regarding trainings, certifications, and continuing education opportunities. I have been researching my options since last semester and have a pretty good handle on at least a few things I know I am definitely interested in learning more about. The challenge is that many if not all of the trainings I am interested in are out of the area.

There is one locally that is only about 20 minutes from home for me but the next closest is in south Florida and the next closest after that is out of state. The one training I definitely want to pursue is out of state and is a three weekend a year commitment to complete the level one certification. I am starting to understand the level of commitment I am making to my future career and becoming the clinician I know I am meant to be. Dreams take work.

I have had a lot of trouble with clarity around my path forward with my career now that I am nearing graduation. I know what my end goal is but I have been unclear on how far into the future that goal lies. Is it 5 years? 10? Shorter? Longer? I really don’t know. I know I am not ready yet but I also know I am doing my work to get ready.

It is not just my professional journey that prepares me for my end goal, it is my personal one as well. I would say my personal journey is what will make the difference really. I had a break through with a client in session a few weeks back and this break through came not because of anything I learned to do while in the program, it was because of my personal work. I allowed my intuition to guide me and allowed her to lead and what I suggested not only worked it was exactly the right thing for the moment. The next day she disclosed her entire trauma story to me in session and I was able to make reports and referrals to help her on her path towards healing.

The client said to me that based on our previous session and talks she recognized a pattern she was stuck in and she wanted to “break the cycle”. She did that, and I helped. And while yes, I have to have the degree to do this work, the degree is not what makes me good at what I do, it is my commitment to growth both personally and professionally.

Rumi says you can only meet someone as deeply as you meet yourself. How can I help my clients discover their own personal truth and path towards healing if I have never done this work myself? How can I show my clients what boundaries and assertive communication and truth speaking and shadow work and true self-love and authentic self-expression is if I have never walked my own version of this path?

So for now I will continue down my own personal path of self-discovery and in the near future I will start signing myself up for trainings to supplement my personal growth with professional knowledge and growth. I may not be able to do anything about these trainings right now because of time and distance but even learning about where they are, when they are held, and the level of commitment involved sheds some light and brings a level of clarity for me. For that I am grateful.