I Promise.

I am in a place of promises right now. Reflecting on the sacredness of this level of intention.

On retreat in the spring I was guided through a deep meditation and while inside of the space that is neither here, nor there, I had a very clear vision. It was two little souls crowded around a daisy making a plan. This was my spiritual remembering of the soul contract my brother and I made before beginning this human experience. In this space of dark and light where our souls existed first we made promises to each other; mine was to do the job I came here to do – his was to keep me on my path, no matter the personal cost, by showing up in his darkness when needed.

I can tell you friends, this sweet soul who is my beloved brother kept his promises. And these promises came with great personal cost. It is why I try each day to peel another layer back, to go deeper, to stay on the path. I have a promise to keep.

Fast forward to now –

I was given the news that surgery is needed to remove my gallbladder. I have multiple conditions happening at once that cannot be fixed holistically or with medication. Surgery is the best path towards healing.

… I wanted to write “whole body healing”, but that doesn’t feel quite right knowing that a part of me literally has to be removed from the whole for me to heal.

I am going to have to sit with this outside of this post, there is something to explore deeper here.

So I am preparing for surgery. Preparing for surgery goes beyond cleaning my house and meal prepping so I can rest with ease as I recover. It is more than dietary changes and making plans for my mother to be with little bubby while his momma is away.

There are things I am doing for myself that go beyond the surface level details.

I am preparing an honoring ceremony to thank my gallbladder for the ways she held me when I struggled to hold myself. I am taking time to feel everything that I feel in the wake of this news; my shame, my grief, my fear, my gratitude, my love, my anxiety. I am balancing myself between the pause and the urgency given the severity of my condition. I am taking time to plan my path forward, making space for fluidity – this piece is especially important because in the face of the unknown I certainly have a part that shows up wanting to control anything she can. I am holding her and listening to her concerns, she is part of my processing but she is not in charge of this part of my self-care.

There is more happening inside this space of love and care but this enough for now.

A soul friend and fellow momma gave me a beautiful piece imagery to hold onto while my gallbladder and I complete this last chapter of our story together –

“I am picturing your gallbladder taking along with it anything that does not energetically belong with you anymore”.

Yes.

Yes and Amen.

My gallbladder held so much for me, it was so strong for so long. It shutting down and saying “Enough” is not some reflection on lack of strength – it is a very clear message to me that it is time.

It is time. You are ready. 

It was holding me until I was able to fully hold myself. Now that I am here my gallbladder finally gets to rest, her job is done.

So I count my gallbladder in my gratitude this evening, for all she has done for me, my gratitude is immeasurable.

This is my promise to you, sweet organ who held me so devotedly these last 36 years, I will Love. I will Love so deep and so True that every part of me will feel it and every part of me will know – I will Love so purely that the power of it will explode out of me like delicate particles of light and all those who encounter me will know.

I am a soul with promises to keep and I will spend my life doing just that.

 

Modesty Schmodesty

Last night I attended my first crochet and knitting social group at the library.

I have so many take aways.

  1. It was awesome to drive alone in the car, turn the music up (no little ears in the backseat to overwhelm), and be alone with my thoughts. It was awesome to be alone. I miss being alone. I love little bubby and my husband fiercely, AND I miss being alone.
  2. It felt good to see the world clearly. When I am able to close down all the momma tabs in my brain for a while I am able to see the world so much more intensely again. I m someone who pays attention; I see the variation of greens in the grass, I see the fake flowers sitting on the windowsill of the open window of the church. I SEE my surroundings and am  inspired by all of it. Motherhood has fogged my brain a bit, I am still paying attention but maybe not as closely and maybe not all the time. I felt so myself as I marveled at the long shadows on the pavement and the way the 6:30 sun turned the green leaves gold in the park.
  3. I was not afraid. This one is BIG. In the time before I was in my power, I was afraid. I was afraid of so much. I would have never gone by myself downtown in the evening to a meet up with a bunch of strangers. All of that would have felt scary and dangerous to me. Last night I was not afraid. I was not afraid of finding parking, I was not afraid of walking by myself on the street, I was not afraid of the men on the street around me, I was not afraid of the city, I was not afraid of getting lost, or being new with unknown people, I was not afraid of being accepted or not. I was not afraid. I was not afraid because now I know and believe that I am safe. Let me be very clear about what I am saying — I know and believe I am safe because I know and believe that I am the safety I am seeking. I am safe in the world because I am safe within myself.
  4. I was not afraid – AND, I was nervous. I felt it rise up as I was driving there. It was a little part of me, preschool age, she was nervous about being new and being alone. I told her, I am with you, I am not going to leave you, we are all going to together. That was it. That was all it took. She knew she was safe and the nervous energy immediately lifted. Again, I am the safety I am seeking. If I know that I am wholly connected to myself and have made a promise not to self-abandon for anyone or anything on the outside, I am not afraid to be BIG and there is no room for anxiety because I am safe.

So this was all the internal processing that was happening before I ever stepped foot into the group. Here is what joining a new group looked like for me now from a place of deep self-love and connection.

I did not hustle, I did not prostitute. I am sure for some reading the second half of that sentence might feel icky. This is what social situations used to look like for me though. My insecurities would ride shot gun which would always lead to a terrible hustle to fit in and more often than not I would prostitute a piece of myself to try to experience belonging. This is what happens when I operate from a place of disconnection and shame. This is what it looks like when my trauma and insecurities run the show. This was not my experience last night. I walked in, made eye contact, said hi, found a seat and started crocheting. The library employee who hosts the group introduced herself and then introduced me to the group. Then I sat back and listened and observed while I worked with my yarn. I felt seen even without exerting any force or effort because I felt connected to self.

Something I noticed right away as I sat quietly working was that socializing does look different for me now. It has been years since I have socialized on a very human level, no healing or spiritual dimension present in the social group. My social group now consists only of other souls on their journey towards healing and purpose as well as a few close friends who I have known most of my life and who I can be emotionally and spiritually naked with.

The first thing I noticed was the difference in energy with this group. I felt really strong energy, I felt the hustle and insecurities of people in the group, I felt their wounds. I kept feeling triggered to comment on what I was hearing, seeing, and feeling. I held myself though because none of this was mine to hold and I was not going to set any part of myself down to hold what was not mine. I do not need to do that to belong, I already belong. After a moment of reconnection to my truth about where my sense of belonging comes from I was fine. I no longer felt triggered by anything or anyone around me, I was able to just be. It was pretty fantastic, I was super comfortable.

Overall socializing for me amounted to two statements; at one point to group was having a conversation about something and I felt comfortable sharing my truth that “we are allowed to Love what we Love”. My other contribution to group discussion came when the host shared that she was crocheting “booty shorts” for her son as part of his requested Halloween costume. This brought up the topic of appropriateness to which she replied “his body his rules” (which I fucking LOVED and agree with my whole heart!) so I said so and then said modesty schmodesty because the part of me who responded so strongly to her awesome feminist mothering is apparently a weirdo! Who am I kidding, to the outside world most of me probably seems pretty unusual.

With all of the energy flying around the room and the clear projection taking place I was  amazed to find myself feeling calm. More than that, I enjoyed myself. I enjoyed the group. When I stand in my truth of connection and belonging and allow all other beings to hold themselves without feeling the need to pick anyone up, my capacity to experience joy and Love expands, it is infinite.

I am growing. Everyday I am growing. I am becoming truer, I am becoming more powerful, I am LOVE, more and more and more I am the embodiment of LOVE.

I do not need a single thing from this group except for everyone to be just as they are and for me to be all that I am too.

It was good. It is good. There is so much goodness.

We Don’t Have to Rush

This post is inspired by a memory that surfaced from elementary school;

Sometime during 4th grade, after the death of my Nana, Mom and I had a hard morning.

We were running late getting me to school. I do not know if my Mom was working at the time, so I am unsure if this feeling of rush and force was bigger than just me not getting to school on time, maybe there was more at stake than I knew.

Let me set the scene for you;

None of the clothes I want to wear are clean so Mom has forced me into a pair of jean shorts I am mortified to be seen in and some dumb shirt I do not like.

Here is the thing about these shorts;  first you should know when I was kid money was tight so Mom got resourceful at times. She had a talent for sewing, she made both mine and my cousin’s first communion dresses and you would never have known they were not some expensive store bought dresses like the other girls. What my Mom created for me did not always line up with what 9-year-old fashion was at the time.

These shorts had been jeans that I ripped the knees out of while playing outside the prior summer. We could not afford to throw away clothes that still fit so Mom attempted to transform them into shorts and the end product fell short. I gave it little thought because I had another pair of jeans and a pair of shorts I could wear and re-wear so no one at school ever had to see my Mom’s creation anyway.

This particular morning my Mom had decided I would not re-wear my jeans for what was probably the 11th time in a row, with no other clean bottoms to wear she told me to put on the hacked up shorts.

So I was already sitting in dread of what the day would hold for me, I would surely be a target in these awful shorts, while I frantically tore up my closet floor looking for my sneakers as my Mom yelled we have to leave now!

My sneakers were no where to be found! How was I going to go to school shoe-less? Guess I would just have to stay home.

My Mom was having none of it. She shoved my fancy white church shoes (which were covered in scuff marks from climbing on everything in sight) over my colorful tube socks and told me to head for the car.

I was stupefied. What was she doing?! My protests were fierce and immediate; Mom I can’t wear my church shoes, I have to wear sneakers for PE or they won’t let me participate and I will get in trouble!

She did not budge and with that I was off to school in my rag tag jean shorts, dumb shirt, colorful tube socks and fancy white scuffed up church shoes.

My Mom dropped me off and left. I was so ashamed my eyes were burning before I got out of the car. I did not know how I was going to face the fourth grade, I did not know how I was going to survive the day.

This was my first walk of shame. I was late, the car ramp was empty. Alone I walked through the vacant halls, the little heels on my fancy white scuffed up shoes clacking an echo all the way to the brown metal door of my classroom. I peeked in the slatted window on the door, everyone was in their seats, class had started. I knew the moment I opened that door all eyes would be on me.

It must have been bad because I lose my memory here.

I pick back up maybe 30 minutes later; I am at my teacher’s desk, I am crying, I am asking to go see the guidance counselor. I have become close with our guidance counselor this year, I have spent some time talking with her between Nana dying and my cousin and first best friend being removed from the family and living in a group home.

In the counselor’s office she listens as I cry. She knows my Mother and thinks fondly of her, she tries to balance my feelings for me. There is no balance to be struck, I am wounded and I have no room for whatever my Mother’s truth might be. In my mind she made me prey and then abandoned me  in the lion’s den that was the 4th grade.

The counselor has a pair of sneakers from the lost and found she offers me so I can participate in PE. They are only a small step up from my fancy white scuffed up church shoes. I see another pair, some black Keds with cool mesh sides, I ask for those ones instead – Maybe I can survive the day in those, maybe the kids won’t notice my Mom-sewn-shorts and instead they will just see my cool sneakers. The guidance counselor explains that those shoes are too small for me. I know she is right but I am desperate, I plead and she concedes. I wedge my tube socked foot into the too small shoe and blissfully ignore my cramped toes as I walk back to class.

I know that I do not know this story in full. I know what my scraps of memory tell me, I know what my feelings tell me, but I do not know what I am missing due to dissociation and I do not know what my Mother’s truth is. I can make conjectures and try to fill in blanks based on what I knew of my life at that time but to what end?

This was not one of my big traumas in childhood, it was a hard day. I think the reason this memory has stayed with me is to serve as a reminder now.

I am the adult, he is the child. What will moments like these look like for us?

There are so many times when I have a plan in my head for how the day will go, every minute for the next three hours planned out, then he wakes up from nap and takes an extra long time eating his yogurt because he really wants to work on holding the spoon today. Or we are going to the playground but a few feet outside the door he decides he would rather sit in the driveway and play with sticks.

Here are some things I know;

The first is that I have something now that my Mother did not have when I was 9, security.

Financial security that allows me to be home right now and not working on someone else’s schedule where our mornings would be rushed and potentially stressful.

Security in who I am as a Mother. I am so connected to my truth of infinite enoughness, his and my own, that no part of me can be shaken into believing we are less. Even when I get it wrong I know I am enough. When it is  hard, we are enough, this is enough, all of it is enough. This truth goes beyond my role as Mother, it is woven into every part of my being. This level of security within myself keeps me from falling into places of scarcity where I would value being on time over him or our connection in a moment. It keeps me from valuing “doing” over “being”. It keeps me right here where I am meant to be, in the moment with him.

Of course there are times where we make plans and try to keep a schedule and of course I balance what is going on with him with that schedule. I would not dishonor someone else’s time because he wants to continue playing blocks. What I am very clear on is this; if one day my nine year old child is having a hard morning because we are running late and the clothes he wants to wear are not clean, and he cannot find his sneakers, and maybe I am even running late for work or another important adult commitment… I will pause.

I will be with him, as long as it takes for us to find our way through and out the other side. We will take the time to find the shoes and we will talk about his feelings of anxiety or disappointment, if any, around not being able to wear what he wanted to wear to school. I will put everything else down if that is what it takes to hold space for him.

The way I, together with my husband, love him is the way he will learn to love himself. And if I am willing to do this for him, I have to be willing to do it for me too. That is the other thing I know, my Mother has never fully known how to hold space for me because she does not hold herself sacred.

We, all of us, you, me, our babies, our parents – we are ALL worthy of time. The world will continue to tick away while we exist inside of our pause taking care of ourselves and each other.

I am grateful that my inner nine-year-old has been sitting here next to me riding shot gun and guiding my heart as I parent this sweet soul who chose me.

I am grateful for all the ways my Mother failed me, therein giving me so much opportunity to build the resilience needed to become the human I am meant to be.

I am grateful for my ability to hold space for myself, it creates capacity for me to hold sacred space for those I love most, which is sometimes the stranger walking next to me and sometimes my sweet little boy.

Holding space for myself tonight meant writing this story down because this is the moment it was ready to be shared. Holding space for myself tonight meant asking my husband if he would be willing to hold a little space for me tomorrow by getting up with little bubby so I could catch up on the sleep I will miss to be here with myself and share this story.

As I close I am holding the energy of deep gratitude is for my husband, who holds space for me with so much love, and for every other person in my life who holds space for me and allows me to feel what it is like to be held sacred.

Creating Safety for Small Parts

I recognize that as I perform this rescue mission for my small part(s) that are afraid of being BIG there is some work here for me to do as I wait for them to warm up to the idea of being held.

They will come home when they are ready, I do not have to force this. What I do have to do is honor the commitment I am making to them – I will not abandon you – by showing up BIG in my relationships. This is what will create the feeling of safety for these parts so I can reconnect with them and step closer to ultimate goal of connection, wholeness, and love.

When I play small in my relationships I am abandoning this small part(s). I am energetically telling this part(s) of myself that she is not worthy of my love, that the other person is more worthy.

If at any point I am having to abandon a part of myself to experience love with another person I am not actually experiencing love.

Love comes from a connected whole place, never a place of disconnection. I do not throw the word never around lightly. This is my truth.

There are specific places right now in relationships where I can practice being BIG and I committed to this work.

My Mother-in-law is in town and I have been playing small. I will do my repair work with myself and stand in my truth in this relationship.

I also need to do some repair work with my husband. He and I have experienced disconnection as a result of both of us playing small around his mom. It does not feel good when he and I are not on the same team. I look forward to truth speaking with him to move towards realignment in our relationship.

There is a place where I have felt I need to do some repair work with soul family by owning a misstep I made with them. I look forward to practicing connection with them in this way.

Finally I recognize there are bigger ways for me to practice being BIG as well. These opportunities are on the horizon. It will not be easy and I am scared.

I know I can do hard things because I am not small AND I honor and hold the part(s) of me that are small in love as I stand in this truth.

This is how I create safety. This is my path forward towards love, connection, and wholeness.

With my hand at my heart I will walk my path forward in gratitude, courage, and love.

Doing it Scared

Our family motto is We can do hard things.

Before becoming full-time mommy I worked as a counselor primarily with children and teens. Over and over again I saw this theme of victim mentality, self-doubt, and fear play out in hurtful ways in my client’s lives. It was an empowering statement I used daily with clients and I knew I needed to bring it home. I need the reminder as well. We all do.

I am not small and I can do hard things.

Tuesday last week I did something that for me was hard. I attended story time with little bubby.

I have been wanting to take bubby to story time for weeks but have been too afraid.

My fear existed on many levels:

Fear of the unknown – what is going to happen?
Fear of not being enough in some way – something happening and me not knowing the exact perfect way to handle the situation.
Most of all, Fear of allowing myself to be seen in my role as momma. I am afraid of judgment, disconnection, getting it wrong, failing my son in front of an audience.

It is an incredibly vulnerable and courageous thing to become a parent. I am opening my heart to all kinds of ache and there is no escaping it. Being a parent will break my heart.

I know this is true AND I do not take anything back. I am choosing this knowing full well at times it is going to hurt and I have no control.

Tuesday bubby took an early nap that set us up perfectly to make story time happen. I decided it was a time to step into my fear and go. I was still nervous AND I went away. I did not allow my fear to stop me. I channeled one of the women from my soul family and I did it scared.

We showed up 5 minutes late. My perfectionist piece was begging me to call the whole thing off, when we walk in and all eyes will be on us. They will judge us for our tardiness. I will look like a bad mom who doesn’t have it together. We will make a scene.

I energetically held the hand of my perfectionist piece and told her, All of this may be true AND we are going to be okay. This is worth it.

It was worth it. We walked in late, everyone looked to the door as we walked in. We joined the group with ease and the rest was pure joy. Bubby was taking it all in, trying to hold hands with other babies and hugging the puppet being used during story time.

I felt deep connection to myself and to bubby because I allowed myself to be brave and do something that was fun for bubby and I while also ,allowing myself to be seen. I sat in a room of mommies and knew I was worthy. I belong here, I am enough and we are okay.

I am past the point of playing small in my life. Bubby needs me to be big. He needs to see me and know that I am big so he will know that he is big. We are not small and we can do hard (scary) things.

I am grateful for the opportunity to stand in my fear and shine.
I am grateful for small acts of courage rooted in vulnerability.
I am grateful for my commitment to growth.
I am grateful for this wonderful experience bubby and I got to share.

You’re Not Having a Good Day

That is what my husband said to me after I experienced my 3rd major calamity of the day. I agreed. While I was having a rough time my clumsy alter ego, Calamity Jill, was really living it up!

It all started this afternoon.

I drove across town, roughly 35 minutes, to meet with a new family I will be working with and unfortunately the appointment did not take place. I got stood up. No big deal, sometimes wires get crossed. I left a voicemail after waiting outside their home for a bit and once they get back to me I will reschedule. Since my schedule was suddenly open I decided to pay some family a visit who happened to live nearby.

When getting out of my car at my family’s home I turned funny and managed to spill my entire La Croix into my play therapy bag of toys and books. Good Grief!

I went inside with my play therapy bag and spent time catching up with family while I cleaned out and Lysol wiped the contents.

No big deal, these things happen (especially to me).

The real mess took place once I got home.

I let Lu out, brought her back in and started working on some documentation for work. About an hour later I was done and started picking up around the house. I went into the office briefly to grab a canvas and to put away some work documents and went on about my business for the next hour until my husband arrived home.

Upon his arrival he called out for the dog which struck me as weird because she ALWAYS meets him at the door. Maybe she is sleeping in the bedroom and didn’t hear him? We both started calling for her: nothing. My husband asked me if I accidentally left her outback. I panicked! Oh God I hope not! It had rained- hard- in the last hour since I saw Lu, there is no way I could have left her out in the rain.  I opened the backdoor, desperately trying to temper my rising anxiety and terror, and starting whistling and calling for her: nothing. In the background I heard  my husband still calling for her in the house. The terror was really starting to grow. Did she get outside? Is she running the street with no collar and no microchip? Is she dead in a gutter? Where is my baby?

Just as I was reaching the point of hysteria she came bounding around the corner and jumped up to kiss me hello. Oh dear God Lucy where were you???

My husband came around the corner and said I needed to get a take a look in the office. This is what I found:

office

I didn’t even see her follow me in when I had been in the office an hour earlier. Luckily some ripped up paper and a destroyed pine cone was of little significance compared to what she could have gotten into while accidentally locked in the office during a thunder storm for an hour. My poor baby. This is what anxiety looks like. I felt like the worst mother on earth. I can only imagine the panic and abandonment she was feeling. I got on her level and we cuddled for a few minutes. Then I declared the rest of the night The Night of Lucy! to make it up to her (or at least try).

The night of Lucy started with a nice big puppy dinner. Then she and I went for a walk at the park just the two of us where we chased frogs and played in mud puddles. When we got home I carried her into the bathroom and placed her in the tub to wash her muddy feet. After her foot bath she got a treat AND a new toy. My husband and I have a bag of toys that we bought on sale a while back and there are tucked away for Christmas. A screw up like today definitely warranted a early Christmas present.

Lu was thrilled. She and I played chase and fetch and then.. catastrophe. I was ramping up to throw her new toy down the hall for her to chase after and she got a bit to excited. This resulted in Lu jumping on my husband who was minding his own business eating shrimp ceviche on the couch. Lu’s foot landed right in his bowl of fish and vegetables dumping the whole thing into his lap before she ran off down the hall to get her toy.

My husband just sat there in his fish staring at me. He said nothing. He didn’t need to, his face said it all. I quickly saved him from the soggy fish blanket (that thankfully saved him from fish REALLY landing in his lap), got him a new throw, and cleaned up the rest of the mess. He just looked at me, laughed, and said You are not having a good day.

No kidding. I can’t get anything right today.

Suddenly Fuel lyrics flashed across my brain:

Spilled her coffee, broke a shoe lace. She smeared the lipstick on her face. Slammed the door and said I’m sorry I had a bad day again.

Some days that song is my anthem.

Later I sat in my husband’s lap, tears rolling down my cheeks; do you think she loves me even when I get it wrong?

Yes.

Do you love me even when I get it wrong?

Yes.

I am going to get it wrong. I am going to fail. I am still loveable.

While writing this post and sitting in my shame and embarrassment even while trying to minimize these feelings by finding the humor in the situation (a favorite defense mechanism of mine), I thought of Virginia Woolf. More specifically I thought of what Virginia Woolf said about women who tell the truth:

A feminist is any woman who tells the truth about her life.

I am a clumsy, forgetful, sometimes all together absent minded woman. I am woman who gets it wrong and sometimes hurts the ones she loves most in the world. I fail and I get it wrong and experience excruciating shame as a result from time to time. AND I stand in these truths and love myself, even when I feel so incredibly unlovable. This is my power. This is my strength. Love. My ability to stand in my truth and love myself there.

 

Figuring It Out

About a month ago when I was in the thick of training for my new job my mantra was I will figure it out. This stuff was new, it was okay that I did not know how to do it, AND I was confident that I would figure it out. That confidence in myself went a long way because I was right. I did figure it all out and I am still figuring it out.

Each time I am presented with a new challenge I feel so much less intimidated by it because I know I can and will figure it out.

The last few weeks have brought me a lot of opportunities to figure new things out, I am grateful for this AND a few times I have felt exhausted by it. I knew this job would help me grow in terms of self-reliance and that has been true for me so far, for better AND for worse.

Something that I miss about agency work is having things readily available and handed to me without me having to figure it out on my own. I took that part of agency work for granted. In my last placement if I wanted to implement an intervention rarely did I have to go do my own research to find what I need, it was sitting there in a binder waiting for me, all I had to do was make a copy.

So far I have been creating my own materials for sessions, buying books and toys for play therapy with my younger clients, researching evidenced based studies on certain topics to ensure effectiveness of my planned intervention, and researching trainings in my area on topics I want to become well versed in.

A lot of this was part of past agency experiences for me. I was attending trainings and researching intervention outcomes and preparing materials for sessions and for groups I facilitated. The difference is the frequency in which I am doing these things now. Before I had a supervisor right there that I could go to and say, my client is presenting with _________ and I was thinking of trying this, what do you think?
They would either validate my judgement or present me with another option that they have used and seen success with. Or if there was a certain worksheet I wanted to use during session it was available to me, I did not have to do any work on my own to create the template or download and print what I wanted. And I certainly never had to buy my materials. Toys, books, yoga mats, expressive art supplies, folders for my clients to keep their documents in, pens, they were all available to me.

I want to be clear, I am not complaining, just making the observation that when I was doing agency work I took a lot for granted without even being aware of it. I am sure that when I am on my own one day I will look back at this experience and reflect on aspects of this position I am currently taking for granted, like the fact that the agency I am contracted with provides me clients. I do not have to market myself which is a lot of energy and anxiety saved. And things like not having to pay rent for an office or buy furniture for that office. Even now as independent as this position allows me to feel I recognize I am still supported.

Some days I do feel exhausted by aspects of this job AND I love it. This jobs comes with a lot of extra work AND I get to much of that work in yoga pants on my couch. This job requires that I provide my own supplies AND I have the time in my day to go to the store and get those supplies. This job is pushing me in ways I have not been pushed before AND I am having the learning experience I wanted.

Last night I was having a moment of overwhelm as I was planning my sessions for later today. I looked over at my husband, who knew what I was working on and could sense my exhaustion, who then said I know you can do this because I know who you are.

I will figure this out. I know I can do this because I know who I am.

got this

Well Managed

When starting a new job I am normally racked with anxiety the first few weeks and sometimes it lingers over the first few months depending on the learning curve. I am proud to share that this time is different and the last two times have been different as well.

My anxiety levels were low when I officially started both internships during college. I had some anxiety leading up to starting because I was not sure what to expect but once I got into my placement I was fine.

I definitely experienced some anxiety leading up to my start date with this position, again it was connected with general fear of the unknown. When I actually started though my anxiety dropped off.

When I was in the professional world prior to returning to school (and therapy) my anxiety was not always well managed. I would fret over anything and everything, I never felt my work was good enough and was constantly pushing myself for perfection.

My perfectionist piece absolutely lives and breathes in professional spaces for me. These areas of my life are traditionally where I care the most about what others think. It has always felt like there is a Wrong and Right and my philosophy around the AND/Gray area has no room here.

Well not this time. I have been able to give myself so much more room while I learn and figure things out. I am not bullying myself as hard as I used to; the bully is still there but she whispers now, she used to scream and shout. I have noticed that I have a better relationship with my inner critic/bully now too so when she does pop up I am able to take care of myself and not be unwound.

Yesterday there were two items that I could not complete without reaching out to my supervisors with questions. I was bummed. I understand what to do so I wanted to be able to just do it on my own and impress both them and myself. I needed help though. I could not find a template I needed to complete one task and I was given feedback on my work for the other task that didn’t feel right to me so I needed to follow up before making what might end up being unnecessary changes.

I had a moment of feeling let down by my need for help but then I remembered, I have never done ANY OF THIS before. This is all completely new and up to this point I HAVE figured most things out on my own with minimal hand holding. I am doing great! I am not expected to know how to do everything, it is literally my first week.

I mentally patted myself on the back, sent the emails I needed to regarding my questions, and put my work away for the night as it was the end of the day.

In my past life I would not have been able to self-validate and self-soothe in this way and I would have spent the whole night worried and restless. I would have absolutely lost sleep. And for what? The next morning I would check my email, my questions would be answered, and the world would keeping turning.

So this time I validated my good work so far, relaxed with my husband, got a restful nights sleep, and when I got up this morning everything was fine.

I got my first email response and discovered that the reason I could not find the template I needed was because it was never sent to me. This was not me being inept, it was my supervisor’s error. In the past I would have been so hard on myself over my perceived inability and failure just to later find out it was someone else’s error. This time I spared myself all that grief and emotional strife and am thankful because it would have been a lot of heart ache just to discover I did everything right.

With my clients I have them rate their symptoms on a scale of 1-10, 10 being most severe; my anxiety when starting new professional ventures used to rate somewhere around an 8 or 9, now I would say at my worst I am maybe a 4 but otherwise I am a 1 or 2.

I am proud of myself. Words I never used to speak. I am proud of myself, I am doing a great job, I am following my instincts, and I am taking good care of myself.

Open and Ready

I think I am ready. I have done my best to prepare myself for this day and now it has come. I have all my office supplies, my forms, and my in case of emergency pack which includes everything from paper towels to a whole other outfit. You never know what to expect and all I can do is be as prepared as possible and remain open and flexible.

This morning I emailed a friend to release some anxiety, which surprisingly was completely unrelated to this, I took my meditation outside, and now I am going to start printing off documents and loading my car.

I feel ready, I feel grounded, I feel like I am where I am supposed to be.

There is a little anxiety swirling beneath the surface but it is small and related to making sure I get all of the needed information to complete my documentation the way I am expected to. In the past my anxiety was always attached to feelings of doubt, I am pleased to share that as of right now my not-good-enough are silent. They may not stay silent but for right now I feel sure, rather than unsure.

My intention for the day has to do with believing in myself. A few days ago when I was cleaning out one of my file boxes and reorganizing I came across a scrap sheet of paper with a poem by Rudyard Kipling scribbled on it. I remember the day I first discovered this poem, I was volunteering at Hospice. It seems like a good foundation to root myself in today.

if

Boundaries and Self-Care in My New Role

My mantra for my new job is I will figure it out. That has helped as I am having training upon training and document upon document all thrown at me at once. I have also applied my mantra to how I navigate this new position with my personal life. I am working from home and on the road, I have to completely rework my personal/professional boundaries.

This balance is imperative for self-care purposes so I am able to do my job well and so I am able to be well in all aspects of my life.

Every other position I have ever held has been in an office which meant at the end of the day I got to physically leave work. I got to leave my work computer, my work email, my work phone, my work forms. I got to disconnect from all of it and leave it until the next day when my shift started. Now all of these things I used to get to leave are here in my personal space, everything has the potential to mix together, no boundaries between personal and professional. I have to create these boundaries. That is part of my figuring it out.

Another part of my figuring it out is my self-care. Self-care has become a popular buzzword outside of the field of social work. I think this is great, to me it says as a society we are experiencing a shift towards self-love or at the very least self-preservation. We are understanding that it does not make sense to run ourselves ragged and that it is neither selfish nor shameful to put ourselves at the top of our priority list, or at least on it if not at the top.

I can already tell that my self-care routine will look different as I transition from full-time student/intern to working professional. I have felt myself tempted by to slip back to negative coping skills I have leaned on in the past when my priority was not self-care, but instead numbing.

I will figure this out.

I feel myself needing nature more than ever. I feel myself needing movement to release emotions that start to feel stuck. I feel myself needing daily meditation to stay present and out of the grip of anxiety.
These were all things I gave myself before and on a regular basis however it was just as needed. I am feeling like these will all become a daily practice for me now.

I know I will figure this out too. I will find my balance in this new place and I will hold it sacred. In order for me to honor my clients and those I work with I have to honor myself.