I’m Here.

So much time to think and think and think some more….
 
Today’s insight….
 
I graduated in December, 2020, with my Masters in Counseling Psychology. Until July, 2019, we had a couple of years to take the test required for LPC licensure.
 
In July, 2019, the regulations changed. That test had to be taken BEFORE a Masters person could go become a supervised candidate for LPC licensure. Bummer. Oh well.
 
My plan was to take the test at the end of February. Instead, we sold our home on February 14. (A significant date of beginnings and endings in my life, it seems).
 
I remained flexible, reminded myself that I was in competition with no one regarding when I took my test, and refocused on my own race. I decided that I would get moved asap and take the test in April.
 
Then…we all know what happened in March and April. Covid-19 became a part of our daily vocabulary and changed everything. I struggled with all of what everyone else struggled with. For a minute, I got a bit frustrated and frozen about the timing of all of this. Don’t judge…sometimes my inner 4 year old speaks louder than grown up me.
 
I still can’t take my test. It’s not being offered at this time and I don’t really know when it will be. I need to study more anyway because I’m way off track there. Still, I’ve been reminded that all things don’t occur according to my plan. Thank God for that.
 
Circling back to this moment. I am still working as a Case Manager for seniors in our community. I have continually said that it will be horribly hard for me to leave my true work family and clients. However, according to my own plans, this would’ve occurred already as I hopefully would’ve passed my test and moved on (to an LPC candidacy position).
 
In my version, I would’ve begun a new job and who knows with all of this hullabaloo if I’d even still have it. Instead, I am right where I belong. I am absolutely honored to be there for my clients, some of who I’ve worked with for 3 years. They are afraid and not always trusting. It is a gift to have a pre-existing relationship with them and be able to assist and serve them, even if it looks different. I have the safety, comfort and familiarity of my team at work, whom I love and adore. I am deeply grateful for all of this.
 
Since 2011, I have hung on to God’s promise in Joel 2:25. I don’t know much; yet I know this verse has felt so real to me. HE WILL RESTORE THE YEARS THE LOCUSTS HAVE EATEN. I don’t know all of His promises. I’m unsure how to interpret what I do know. Still, whatever He has promised me feels like it should be covered under this verse. God knows what the locusts have eaten away at in my spirit, and He knows what it means to bring restoration. Restoration according to His plan, not mine. There is tremendous comforting personal truth in these words for me.
 
I wish I could say that these words ended my doubts, resolved my trust issues and increased my belief 200%. I can say that I am so thankful to see God in this moment. I am glad I see His work in hindsight and that I am aware enough to realize that I’d like to trust Him with my future just as deeply.
 
I ask God questions such as; “Why did you have me go to school later in life if everyone is just going to get Covid anyways?” I go crazy with my what if’s and the tone in my head is a little edgy. And a little more edgy until internally, I’m a little over the edge, lol! (But not really lol)
 
I’m here. Praying, wondering, believing, doubting, feeling all the feels and shutting every feeling off.
 
Where are you?

My heart’s response…what’s yours?

My version in response to this…

“I am praying for you.”

Translation: You matter and I am concerned. Practicing the art of surrender and trust is so hard for me whether it’s to, “trust the process”, “trust the universe”, “trust the pole”, or anything else. This includes surrendering you and your outcome. I personally choose to pray to God because my past experiences, my faith, and my heart make me believe this is the most loving and viable option.

“If you don’t get COVID-19, we will claim God shielded.”

Translation: I won’t. I will struggle with why some people did and some people didn’t. I might wonder why a person ignores every request to social distance. I might wonder why they still got it even if they seemed to do everything right. I likely will never understand. Whether I believe in God or not, I will resolve that no human ever has all the answers….so we create our own. This gives us an illusion of control where we truly have none. But humanly, we believe an answer will make us feel better. In the meantime, I will continue to wrestle w God and human reasoning, just as I always do. The answers will be my own, for this is my journey.

“If you do get it and recover, we’ll claim God healed.”

Translation: if you get it and recover, I will be eternally grateful. I will again struggle with why some people got it and recovered while some didn’t. I will choose to believe that, “Jesus wept“ while we wept. I will remember that life and breath are precious and none of us know when our first or last days will be… This matters if a big semi hits us, if we take our own lives, if there is cancer or heart disease, if there is just no reason…Not one human makes it out alive. We can choose gratitude or we can choose constant struggle. Personally, I usually choose a little of both. I don’t know how to do different than that, I myself am human.

“If you die, we’ll explain that God had a reason..”

Translation: this is the biggest copout religious people ever use. I don’t believe God controls us like checker pieces, but I used to. I believed that we were like goldfish swimming around in his tank. Now I believe the saying that I’ve heard so many times. “We are not humans having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings, having a human experience.” This life is not permanent, no matter your belief system.

It is possible that the same results are possible by praying to a telephone pole. Again, my life has led me to this place and I believe the deep joy I experience in the midst of shit is the result.

I recently read that we don’t pray to change God, we pray to change ourselves.

If the same happens by praying to a telephone pole, you change….then good for you or whomever.

I’ve tried endless options as far as beliefs and religion go.

I don’t like religion and I don’t like rules around it. I do like relationship and relationship with God has gotten me through so very much in my life.

Some people can call that a crutch and others say “God is good”.

I believe the latter and I believe that I serve a God who loves us more than I could ever imagine.

None of that changes the fact that I am human and I am infallible. Whether I’m a believer or not, I never get all the answers.

I wonder if life is less about the outcome and more about the journey.

That said, I respect the journey..your’s, mine, and everyone else’s.  I’m only walking in my shoes.

 

This kinda sucks…we can do it but it sucks

What breaks my heart about right this moment is the separation we are needing to experience to hopefully make things better.

I miss my Momma. So much. I miss hugging her more than anything. I miss my son and baby daddy as well. I miss all of the people and all of the hugs.

I am so thankful to get to see them on facetime and otherwise.

Now…one of my precious friends from my days at Autumn Leaves is getting weaker every day. She is one amazing lady. Time with her family is certainly limited and that hurts me for everyone. Facetime isn’t going to help her as much as it does me. Yuck.

Then, for the babies just born (my baby Henry) and for the ones getting ready to be born…it hurts not to be a part of their days and worlds. Just not fun. For the Momma’s and Daddies either.

Losing precious real time with the ones I love sucks. It may be refocusing me back to what matters and put my attention on deeper things and on God for sure, but it sucks.

Lastly, I’m making calls to check on my clients. I just got off the phone with a lovely, endearing 87 year old woman. She could barely hear me, her closed captioning wasn’t working. She could read my name and number though and is going to try to call me later. She was very confused (dementia ugh) and thought I was her son. She wanted me to ‘come up for coffee’. She told me she loved me and couldn’t wait to see me. I told her I loved her to, and couldn’t wait to see her either. I can’t. I will but I hate it.

Trying to be grateful, grateful, grateful and see all of the blessings and growth in this season…and I do. I’m human though, and I hate unknowns and all of this scary stuff.

Stick together as best you can, love well, STAY HOME!  We can do this.

Loving you all and hoping you feel as loved as I do, even in this muck.

Tribute to a bad date

A dear friend asked if I would share a bad date story.  Most of my dates have been fun but there have been a handful that made me say hmmmm.  As I recounted this evening, I giggled so hard and thought the whole world could use a giggle.  So; here it is

He was seriously a sweet guy….I feel a bit guilty sharing this.  Honestly.

He had the absolute sexiest voice on the phone. Voices are a big deal to me. Told me he was 6/1 and somehow he looked all buff and tall in his pictures. (I’m trying not to be a height elitist, but I have my druthers and I like truth). When he came in, he was at best 5’8. Fine.

So he was talking a billion miles a minute and I was trying to decipher if he had taken something. He sat across from me at Starbuck’s after I encouraged him many times to sit with me. (He met me there). He would not make eye contact…at all. He seemed to have a close bond with the floor, where his eyes were focused. I tried not to slip into therapist mode bc anytime I see a date as a ‘case study’, it’s not a good thing. I couldn’t help it though. After 20 minutes of talking to the top of his head, I asked if he was okay. He told me he was just nervous. Acceptable, yes? I asked if there was anything I could to do put him at ease and he told me he just wanted me to like him. Again…super sweet but I already know at this point I don’t feel that sort of connection. (guilt bc I had an idea what was coming)

Also, his voice was NOTHING like the guy on the phone. It was nervous, high and fast so I think on the phone he used like this hot voice he had to have practiced many times. So, I ask if he is ready to go to dinner(dinner and a movie were the plan and I didn’t see a reason to be rude…it’s always good to make a friend is/was my view).

He looks up and before I know it, he is so close to my face we are practically touching noses and he reaches up and puts my hair behind my ear and then caresses my face. I literally jumped back because I so didn’t expect that. I think I asked if I had something on my face. He said he remembered from our conversations that I liked having my hair brushed away from my face.

I think that conversation never happened btw. I do recall talking about the movie, “The Notebook” and how sweet it was when Noah brushed Allie’s hair away from her eyes both as a young couple and as an elderly couple. It reminded me of the sweetness of my parent’s love during my dad’s Alzheimers, it wasn’t something appropriate for him to do in that moment. I am sure I just laughed it off.

So…we get in his car which was an old jaguar, very very cool but hard to get into in my skirt.. I think he was very gentlemanly and opened my door. Then I spent the next 15 minutes as we rode to the restaurant praying that God would please let me live past this date. He proceeded to tell me about his horrible night vision because of a detached retina and that he wasn’t supposed to be driving at night. (He had driven two hours for our date, again, he was trying so hard and for that I was grateful). The stops and starts were jerky and I literally had a seatbelt burn on my neck the next day from being held back as he drove.

We ate at a Mexican restaurant where he told me not to order anything with onions so our first kiss would be sweeter.

He told me his life story. I appreciated his vulnerability but at this point was in full therapist mode and also thinking how I would politely decline any advances.

Next was the movie. Why on earth did I go to a movie on the first date? It was awkward and I can’t even remember the movie. I just know there was a bit of sexual humor and he would throw his hands over my eyes and tell me not to look and to save my eyes only for him. I could feel myself shrinking into a ball in my chair.

Movie ended, we got in the car to go back to my car. I leaned over to give him the best side hug I could muster in the car and I literally bolted out the door. (The drive to my car had me praying just as hard for my life to be spared as well as to help me get out without a kiss!) I had thanked him profusely and told him to please text to let me know he was safely home.

When he did text, he said he could tell by my body language that I just wasn’t ready for what he had to give. Follow up…he called two days later *it was Mother’s Day to wish me a Happy mothers day. He began the conversation with, “I don’t want to start any trouble, I just want to tell you happy mother’s day”

I thanked him and assured him it was no trouble and though it didn’t work out, I would love to be his friend.

He never did call again.

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Don’t be fancy. Just be.

Don’t be fancy, just be!

I am seeing endless posts from sweet parents who are trying to do everything they can to keep their young children stimulated. Pinterest is full of ideas but also full of ways to make a parent feel like they just are not enough.

Let me tell you, you are more than enough for your babies. You don’t need to look up a bazillion ideas that involve tons of work.

Make Playdoh, make a bakery out of mud pies and get the earth squished between your fingers and toes, have a water fight or a pillow fight or a tickle fight, read a book and snuggle, cook together, fill the sink with soapy suds and spray dishes with Catsup so your kids can clean them off,, Go for a scavenger hunt or just go for a walk, blow bubbles,, paint with shaving cream….so much to do!

Breathe and enjoy them. Pretty soon they will be 15 and 18 and you are going to be tickled every time they choose to engage!

You are sufficient, you are more than enough. Find your inner child and play. The messier, the better!

Real Life

My heart hurts this morning. I’m scared and I feel lonely. I could keep quiet and not share this, yet I feel nudged to do otherwise.

I know truth versus my feelings.

I’m not alone. I have a God who is already in my tomorrow and faith does reign over my fear.

I long for something relationally different, yet I am never alone. My God has never and will never forsake me.

Keeping my vulnerability under wraps is me believing the lies. It is me not honoring who I am to save another’s discomfort. It is me not being me.

I do live in gratitude and seek a path of surrender and trust.

Still, I am afraid of unknowns. Sometimes my most honest prayer is a “Lord, please help me with my unbelief.” I know you are there but I’m often not sure that our definitions of “okay” match. I need help trusting that your “okay” is far better.

I lived through a corrective heart surgery at 9 months of age that was a glorious medical miracle. My childhood was shaped by my Grandmas mental illness. There was a stroke that I “shouldn’t have survived”. A divorce that left me reeling. Daddy’s battle with Alzheimer’s. So much more.

I am here.

For whatever reason, I am here.

I am deeply compassionate toward those suffering with mental illness as a result of those childhood years.

The love of and for my family (immediate and extended) is abundant, genuine and solid.

My friends are a balm to my heart. They surround me with accountability, support, love, laughter and insight. They are my framily.

That stroke taught me lessons that nothing else could; it gave me a whole new lens to see with.

That divorce. It sucked. From those married years I have the best two children; glorious beyond anything I ever prayed for. Perfectly imperfect yet perfect for me. An ex-spouse who is my best friend and a growing up me.

Alzheimer’s. I learned to truly find joy in the journey. Daddy and I. Healing, laughter, tears and so much love. Precious memories made all while the memory thief was hard at work. Irony at its best.

Grief taught me…everyone’s path is experienced differently. For me, guttural crying and rolling around on the floor until your bones ache was part of the path. No need to be sorry. It’s my path to travel.

….although your heart physically aches and hope might seem beyond reach, the sun will rise again, one day. In the meantime, let it rain as long as you need rain.

…your experience is normal for You. If and when a plethora of people are feeling concerned, take heed, don’t be afraid to seek help. Medication, counseling, church….find your support and dive into it free from shame.

Always lessons learned. Gratitude sought. Love expressed. Faith over fear reached for.

Here I remain, human as human can be.

In this moment God, I am lonely. My heart hurts. I am afraid. Help me be a light and glorify your heart in the middle of my fear and solitude. Help me love you deeper. Help me strengthen my faith. And please hold me tight. I know there are gifts in this part of the journey too.

May we all seek and savor them.

Be blessed loves.

In gratitude

Tonight I shall lay my head on my pillow and say my prayers.

I will express my gratitude because today, I lived. I might’ve lived messily. My feelings may have been all over the place and it was a little icky…but I lived.

Today, I told many people that I loved them (and meant it); and I was loved by many (albeit through texting, phone calls, face time and all that stuff).

Today was quieter with work; still, I worked from home with Seniors who are so scared. I drank lots of coffee and took in lots of emotions.

Tonight, I enjoyed a little red wine, ate chips and guacamole for dinner, continued to pack boxes and talked to dear friends. I laughed and I cried.

I went through ALL of J and S’s baby clothes and I reminisced. I am certain I can still smell their little baby selves and feel how they molded into my arms and against my chest. I prepared their clothes to be passed on to great nieces, great nephews and sweet young friends.

I got dumped by the guy I was seeing. By text. Ouch, I thought he was different. Better luck next time and best wishes to him. I thought about how much this Coronavirus has me longing for what I’m missing.

And then…I got a sweet text from my daughter. I recalled that my precious son came to visit today. I revisited all of the love that IS in my life. I gave thanks for the wisdom my dear friends and family share with me so generously. I looked at my fur babies and I reminded myself that feeling lonely is not the same as being alone.

So when I lay my head on the pillow tonight, it shall be in gratitude that I am here and that you are here. That we had another day. I will talk with God and ask him for peace and understanding and for health and wellness for His people. I will ask Him to be with the families of those who are not here, whether due to stupid coronavirus or something else. Most of all, I will ask him to help me to continue to walk in love, even when and especially when it’s hard.

Sweet dreams my loves.

Live Well

Honestly, the coronavirus makes me a little bit nervous. A wee bit for myself but mostly for other people.

That big ole stroke in 2009 threw it in my face; Life is fragile and life is fleeting.

I manage what I am able as healthily as I can. The truth is and always has been, I am not in control of the number of breaths I am gifted with. Nobody is. We can manage ourselves but we ultimately do not decide when our last breath will be.

I spent plenty of time this week reflecting and struggling with underlying anxiety. There’s always that part of me that is like, “what would my kids do without me? “. Mom worry. On top of that, people that I love dearly are hurting, and I can’t fix it. I’ve had to take a break from seeing my clients in group settings in the name of healthy social distancing. I think…a lot. Too much. All of these things are tough.

The gift…there’s always a gift amidst the chaos…I have time to revisit what it means to me to surrender to the God who cares for us all and to trust that no matter what, in the end, everything is going to be OK.

The reminder… I have this moment to celebrate life, because every breath is a celebration. Live it and live it well.

❤️happy Friday loves!

HEALTHY = HEAL + THY + ?

Beware the label

I’ve talked about this before, I think it’s significant enough to reiterate.

STOP using ‘buzzwords’ to label someone else’s mental health in order to suit your personal agenda. STOP doing this in order to paint someone else in a negative light so that others can see them the way you want them to. STOP believing that if you have googled and read a couple of articles, that you are a diagnostician armed with all the knowledge you need.

Perhaps you were married to a REAL narcissist. You know first hand that this is a very different picture of someone who has a few narcissistic tendencies (we all do). Perhaps you were raised by someone with BPD (I was). This is not the same as being raised by someone who is occasionally prone to being selfish. Perhaps your child has a substance abuse disorder. You know the pain firsthand. Still, be cautious of the natural human tendency to believe everyone else’s experience is the same as or even similar to your own.

If you have lived and loved someone who struggles with mental illness, you know the power of labels. If you are the person who has experienced a mental health struggle, you know how it feels to have a label define you. Stereotypes stink.

If you haven’t walked in either of those shoes, there but for the grace of God go you. Be cognizant and kind for Heaven’s sake. There are strong consequences attached to doing anything else.

Finally, if you are in the mental health profession, STOP using buzzwords to support all that you are projecting from your own experiences. DO NO HARM stands whether your opinion and education are strong or not. Your feelings are not necessarily fact. Being in the field does not designate you as an unblemished judge of character; and friends…we are ALL blemished. Also, if you are in the mental health field, hold yourself to a higher standard, please. You represent a field people are already cautious of yet are greatly needed. Be trustworthy. Character assassination based on opinion or for any other reason is usually pretty unethical.. Utilizing tools that your education and experience has offered you to ruin somebody was never part of the deal when you became a mental health professional; if it was, you might have some work to do

I watched a real narcissist in action recently and my stomach hurt. My stomach hurt for the narcissist because I believe there is a big ole unhealed wound inside of them that never healed and likely never will (not like a narcissist to come to the point that they believe they need help…it’s part of the disorder). My stomach hurt for that person’s children and for the person they were once married to. This was real and consequences on all sides are traumatic.

Use your brain before you decide to act and especially before you attack.