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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Earlier Today

Better places, better times
smiles, relief, and quite a ride-
I like the way the world so shines
with hope on the horizon's tide.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I Just Can’t Seem to Keep The Kitchen Clean

I have a master’s degree,
I’m part of an honor’s society,

And my sense of analysis is keen,

But for some reason, I just can’t seem

To keep my kitchen clean.

I work all day,

I watch the money,

I try to take care of my Honey,

But for some reason, I just can’t seem

To keep my kitchen clean.

I feed the dogs,

I go to the gym,

I try to stay pretty and slim,

But for some reason, I just can’t seem

To keep my kitchen clean.

I make the dinner,

Fold the clothes,

Mentor the youth and share their loads,

But for some reason I just can’t seem

To keep my kitchen clean.

I slave over plates and scrub the pans,

Feeling the grease slide on my hands,

Stack and dry and sweep and plan,

I can do all this so why does it seem,

I can never keep my kitchen clean?

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Glass Ceiling is Broken

We lived happily in our contained, safe, snowglobe of a world.

Sure, there was a storm everyonce in a while, and sometimes the
world got turned upside down. But these crises were predictable and
after they were over, our world always returned to its stable rest.

Now, the glass is broken, and the staples of our youth are splattered on the floor.
We used to be side by side, and now, I do not seem to know when you will turn up again.

There is no more protection from the outside world.
Anything can happen, now, and we can be separated.
No more are the predictable, safe storms of our youth-
Now we are out in the cold, inexplicable world,
and nothing can restore.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hooray for Old People at the Gym!

I have been (so far successfully) trying to offset Holiday eating by increasing gym time from my paltry weekly visit back to 3/4 times a week. I go in the mornings when it is not very crowded, and there are many old people there. I don't mean slightly old people, although there are some of them there, too. I mean old people in their 70s and 80s, possibly older. I see them industriously exercising their muscles and doing cardio, and I am impressed! Husbands and wives come together and exercise parallel to one another. They are faithful, consistent, motivated, and cheerful! Oh, to still be going to the gym when I am 80, keeping the muscles moving.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Regrets, and God's Mercy

Warning: This post contains disturbing material. You probably don't need to read this if you are already having a bad day.

I found out today that one of my clients was being brutally abused the entire time I saw her in treatment. Suddenly, her mother cancelling appointments made sense, because she didn't want her bruises and cuts to be seen. A toddler was being brutally abused in my care and I never knew. I knew something was wrong with this family, I could sense it, but how could I not notice?!?

In the midst of the deep sorrow I feel about not protecting this child, I am infinitely grateful to God that He intervened and this little girl is now safe in a better home...praise the LORD for answered prayers, because I prayed often for this little girl, and all my clients.

I just wish I had had eyes to see sooner, so this girl could have been spared a little earlier. Perhaps I would have noticed more if I had not wanted to believe her mother's statements of good intentions so badly.

Please God, give me eyes to see what I do not want to see, for the sake of your children.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Everything is Possible! But Not Everything is Worth it.

As a young person,I was told I could do anything I set my mind to, if I worked hard and kept perservering. But now, as I an adult, I have learned the other side of the lesson- I can do ANYTHING, but I can't do EVERYTHING. I have limited time, money, and resources, and I have to pick and choose what is truly important.

The question is no longer, "Can I do it?" The question is now, "Is it worth it?" Does it line up with my beliefs and my values, and what will I have to give up in order to gain it?

For example, I COULD spend all my free time trying to get fit at the gym. I COULD painstakingly clean my entire house and make sure it is spotless everyday. I COULD devote all my time to doing perfect work in my career or devote myself entirely to a ministry at church.

But...where would that leave my relationship with God, my husband, my family, my dogs...? What do I stand to gain from these choices, and is it worth what I could lose? The answer is usually "no."

So, I suffer in the weight of my own incompletions and imperfections and feel as though I flounder a little. Because this is a smaller price to pay than forgetting what is most important, which is God and people.

The choice becomes- Who do I care about more? Myself, and my "Identity"- or about God and the people around me. So I take the time to devote to relationships, because the alternative may make me more successful in the short term, but it has no bearing on the eternal, and my time on this earthly plane is limited.

Things that used to seem important (like "keeping it all together") are not as important as I thought.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Canine Symmetry

Ebony and Ivory,
I know that its silly, but
I watch them play around the yard
and I smile as they jump,
jump, jump,
and dance to the music that no one can hear,
the rhythm of their doggy hearts.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Heaven and Hell

I am a Christian. I believe there is a heaven and a hell, and they are very real. I believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven, and we cannot get there on our own.

I live in a world, however, that moves along as though neither heaven nor hell exists. Sometimes I have trouble remembering them, too, because I am so focused on now. Plus, I don't always know what to do about them, other than to pray, pray, pray for the lost and for opportunities to witness to my friends, coworkers, and clients in any way I can.

I have a confession- I have never been able to lead any of my friends to Christ through a conversation. The times I have tried have gone badly. I have been able to encourage my youth to accept Christ, to pray with folks at altar calls who have walked forward after having prayed to accept Christ, and to proclaim him through song, written word, and lifestyle. But the witnessing opportunities with my coworkers are few and far between- in the therapy business we are respecting each other to hell! And it is not that I haven't tried. I have. But for some reason, I don't get to see people's conversions at work, and that troubles me. I pray for opportunities to share, I share when I can even when I'm scared, but I think I'm still holding back because my opinions are unpopular, and I don't know quite how to segue past the general conversations we have to personal ones about faith and what they actually believe.

I envy folks who seem to lead people around them to Christ so easily. What are they doing that I am not? I don't want my coworkers to go to hell, but since I don't get to see them change and come to Christ, I wonder if I am really doing all I can do. What am I neglecting, that I'm not seeing miraculous change around me?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Rat in the Engine

Sometimes, bad things happen. Like sometimes, you have to pay additional property taxes, or your dog eats through the kennel, or a rat eats the rubber tubing containing antifreeze in the engine of your husband's new truck. Some things are foreseeable, and some aren't.

But sometimes, good things happen, too. Sometimes cars which shouldn't make it through the summer are still drivable in the fall, and houses that can't afford to maintain exterminator services are still roach free despite all odds, and somehow, by the grace of God, the bills get paid.

Still, a rat in the engine? That's a new one for me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Synonyms for Angry

Anger is often synonymous with: disappointment.

Anger is the cloak that these emotions wear so the heart can retain its pride.
I am often angry when I am nervous and things are not going my way.
What about you?                                           
Why are you angry?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How I can bear living in the world day by day

If there was no God,
no meaning, no hope,
this world would be a graveyard.
Eat, drink, be merry, for all the world's in pain
and there is no tomorrow but death. 

When you work where I work and see what I see
(which is not the worst of things, by any means)
Faith is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

If I did not believe in a loving God with a plan,
then the pain I see everyday would be too much to bear,
and I would sink into meaninglessness to escape.

I once heard a story of a golden prince who never saw poverty, 
sadness, or pain, until it was too late.
I was so sheltered, like that prince,
so safe in my loving cocoon. I did not know, 
could not know, 
that life could hurt so bad. 

So now, you ask, how do I keep my faith?
If I did not have my faith, I would have nothing.
If I did not have my faith, there would be no reason
to get up every morning and try. 

But I believe that God is there-
and He sees and cares,
so much more than I ever can,
for the children in His hands-
so I pray for them, and cry for them,
and leave them there with Him-
I can persevere because I believe in His plan. 

He will return and make all things new,
He will return and end all pain.
He is the source of hope and life, thunder and rain,
all Good things,
even for those who don't, and never will, call on His name. 

Aunt Shelly

I'm gonna be an aunt again in June! My brother and his wonderful wife Meghan will be having a baby in June!!! Well, Meghan will be doing more of the work, but it's theirs together:). I'm so proud of them!!!!

Boundaries and Worship

Two trains of thought I have wanted to commit to the screen. They are unrelated but I will put them together anyways since they have been running on parallel tracks.

Boundaries- written on the eve of deciding to take home a THIRD rescue animal. Yes, I am crazy.

I used to think I had boundaries,
lines in the sand that were imperceptibly drawn with my childish wisdom.

But now, your big brown eyes look into mine and I cannot look away.
You are costly, there is no room for you, and I have already given to two others who take up my day.
But I cannot abandon you to certain death- so some boundaries give way,
and I am going to take you home with me, no matter what people say.

And now for something completely different:

The Total Involvement of Heavenly Worship.

I realized something as I poured out my heart in worship on Sunday. I was enthralled by the image of worshipping the lamb of God after the resurrection, singing out with my fellow believers in the multitude, and I finally figured out WHY we won't be bored.

Bored, you ask? What made you think you'd be bored?
Well, in human form, the idea of singing for an eternity sounds, well, boring, doesn't it? Like I would wonder, when will this be over? Is it time for lunch yet? Ouch, I have a cramp in my leg- will He notice if I sit down?

But when we worship in heaven as believers, our eternal forms will be 100% engaged. There will be no tired feet, no additional mental track to veer us off course, no wishing we were doing something else or counting the time. Every fiber of our heavenly bodies will be wrapped up in what they are made for, the worship of the Lamb. And it will be glorious and we will never grow weary or bored because we are doing exactly what we are made for, unlike now, where we do tons of stuff we aren't made for and have to work and try to be what we are supposed to be, servants of the Most High God.

Perhaps you are thinking, I already knew that, Carolyn. Well good for you:).

Friday, October 15, 2010

Have you driven a truck lately?

I have been driving my husband's truck this weekend since he has been out of town (he is coming back tonight, squeal!!!). If you have never driven a truck, I suggest you try it. At first, it was cumbersome, like driving a boat around town. I had to get used to its size and power. But now, after a week, I have found that the vantage point is fantastic. I can see everything going on, and I am bolder in my movements because I can trust the truck to accelerate quickly and I know that other drivers will let me pass because I am in a big vehicle.

It reminded me of the studies that suggest that taller people (especially taller men) are generally more dominant, more forceful, and command more respect due to their height.

One thing we talk about a lot in psychology (in fact, its the entire theoretical basis of many theories) is that viewpoints are SUBJECTIVE. This means that people that drive big trucks will percieve the world differently than people that drive flashy sportcars, or people who drive decade old Saturns that overheat if it climbs past 85 degrees outside.

So my recommendation, if you feel low or unassertive- get a truck. Drive it around. You will feel big and strong and find yourself a little more in control. At least, until you get back to the office.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I have been inspired by my sister, who is an aspiring writer (Check out her work at My Mother Thinks I'm a Good Writer, to write a short story. I hope she likes it, since she is the star.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Am I too much of a child for you?

I like cartoons, and zoos,

and dress-up parties, too-

am I too much of a child for you?

I like pop rocks and bright socks

and Mario Brothers, too-

am I too much of a child for you?

Or do you like those things, too?

If you do, can I play with you?
I wrote this little poem because I often feel constrained to be more mature in my interests than I would like to be. Everything is work, work, work, responsibility, rat race, blahblahblah....I sometimes feel like I have to pretend to be an adult when I'm really just a kid inside. A funny admission from a kid who just wanted to grow up through most of her childhood. I wanted to be a grown-up so bad. Now I find I don't really like a lot of grown up things. I don't like grown-up TV shows. Those usually involve murder and drama. I don't care for grown up novels- too much sex and violence on the written page. I don't like grown up movies for the same reasons. I don't always like grown-up clothes, either, because they make me feel boring.
So would that bother you, to find out your therapist is really a kid at heart? Does a therapist have to be stodgy and mature to do the job? I sure hope not. If so, like Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins', I'd rather go fly a kite.
"Let's go fly a kite,
Up to the highest height!

Let's go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear

Oh, let's go fly a kite!"
(Mary Poppins)


The tantalizing, crisp, juicy, dream of a weekend
hovers  in my mind-
so many adventures to go on,
so many things to find-
Picnic days and parties and balloons-
hayrides, farmer's markets, and trips to the moon-
lemon curd, lazy days, laundry and more
What could this weekend have in store?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What's My Motivation?

I attended a fabulous training on Motivational Interviewing yesterday. For folks who don't know therapist lingo, Motivational Interviewing is a strategy of treatment based on helping the client find their own motivation for change, as opposed having change imposed upon them by the system, society, their family, etc. What I like about this kind of treatment is that it is NICE. What I mean by that is that unlike some treatment strategies, it's not my job to call a client out or become another branch of the governing agent who sent my client to the clinic. There is nothing I hate more that being told, "well, why didn't you just tell her she was wrong? Why didn't you confront her?" The answer is, I don't like telling people what to do (at least, I don't like telling strangers what to do- my family is another story!). I like the idea of letting them tell me what they want, and helping them figure out what behaviors will help them reach their goal and which are getting in the way- even figuring out what they want in the first place, because sometimes that's the piece that's missing.

Some notable motivational interviewing questions include:

"So, what do you enjoy about ________________?"
"What has __________ cost you?"
"What would have to happen to let you know that the ______ is a problem?"
"How important would you say it is for you to change?"
"If you decided to change, how confident are you that you could do it?"
"Have you ever considered....?"

Using questions like these, we can help the client dredge of their own motivation to make changes, which is much more powerful and effective in the long term.

So what about you? What's your motivation?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

No Vaccine

When someone dies, there's no vaccine, no innoculation,
to keep us from the disease of sorrow and suffering.
There is no way to be prepared for the wave of suprise, horror, and inexplicable emotion that carries us up into its embrace.
A brother,
a sister,
a baby,
a mother,
a father,
a grandma,
a grandpa,
a husband,
a wife,
a friend-
To love inevitably means pain, and there is no innoculation for Grief.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Healing Hands

How I wish I had healing hands-
I feel your pain palpably as you sit across from me,
radiating loneliness, trauma, and suffering.

If only I could reach over and touch you on the shoulder and
heal you, make it all better, make it go away-
I would gladly sacrifice of myself if only a physical sacrifice of energy would do.

How I wish I could show you how much I care-
if only I could reach over and touch you on the shoulder
and allow you to feel the compassion pouring out of me-
compassion that could heal.

Instead I sit here and feel the intensity of your sorrow
and the intensity of the energy within me,
restlessly seeking an outlet to give you the strength you need-

 if only for a science fiction moment, where you could understand not only my compassion,
but the compassion of Christ-
that it would be clear to you, without cumbersome words,
what you must do to be relieved.

Lord, is it so wrong to ask that I could heal them with touch, the way your son did?
Give me the power to heal.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Poem to my clients

I'm sorry you haven't been loved enough-
I wish I could turn the clock back and make things right.

The things you have been through-
no wonder you cry and scream against the night.

I cannot blame you, but I want to help you
get off this destructive roller coaster ride.

Please let me help you relieve some of the pain-
it'll be easier with someone at your side.

I wish I could give you peace and joy and hope for this sadness's end
but all I can do is humbly, kindly, be your friend.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bigger and Better

Everything is beautiful from far away,
and promises are easily made.
Everything mountain seems climbable until I walk up to it,
Then the scarcity of handholds bars my way.

Why is the grass always greener and the air always sweeter
in the fictional plains of my mind?
When will I land in a verdant valley that stays as fresh up close as far away?

Every rose has thorns and forests are full of dirt, pine needles, and sap-
every adventure feels frightening, uncomfortable, threatening,
and there's rarely time for a nap.

And the irony is, as soon as its gone,
the memories become rosy and grand-
and I wax sentimental and feel nostalgic for that verdant valley in my mind.

I can read prayer requests again

Back when I started this blog, I started it as a way to vent the increasing pressure I felt at work with a tremendous caseload and not enough time in the day. I was experiencing what we call in the industry, "compassion fatigue," or "burnout" in general.

Part of what this meant is that I had no room left in my mind for another drop of empathy for anyone but the people I was already taking care of. I am still on the prayer email list for the church I was a member of before I was married and, and I couldn't even read the emails anymore - "So and so is sick in the hospital and we don't know what's wrong," "Please pray for someone's grandchild, who is going through a divorce," "Please pray for so and so's best friend's uncle who just found out he had cancer." I couldn't stand another drop of other people's burdens, especially people who I didn't know. It felt the whole world was full of sorrow (which it is!) and I had to hear about every bit of it.

So I marveled today when I found myself reading that email and actually praying for the people and having empathy again without having to squeeze room from the corners of my heart that weren't already crammed with other people's burdens. I think I was afraid I was turning into a monster- its such a relief to find out I do still have compassion left for other people.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Will you be my therapist?

Since I stopped doing treatment, there have been a couple of things that have happened. First, I have questioned whether or not I actually want to do therapy anymore, whether I am actually cut out for this work. I felt inadequate for so long, I dreaded the idea of going back into the fray of self-doubt. I was tired of having the responsibility of other's well-being on my shoulders, and bearing the burden of DHS as well. I was burnt out and unable to see my own successes in the myriad of failures that appeared to surround me. When I put it like that, I hope you can see why I didn't feel like walking back into that situation anytime soon, if ever.

Second, I have felt guilty and inadequate for taking the easy way out in the first place. I should have vanquished on!!! Like a bad breakup, I was left wondering, was all this my fault? Where did I go wrong? Should I have given this thing a second chance? Should I have tried to work things out? Everyone else can cut it, right? What's wrong with me that I flaked out?
But thirdly, something else started happening. I started missing treatment. I miss getting to know the kids and getting to pay attention to them. I miss implementing positive interventions and watching them work. I miss the effective part of the work.

Lastly, the clients themselves have asked me, "Will you be my therapist?" "Can't we stay and work with you?" "Why aren't you a therapist?" "Oh, if you won't be my therapist, I won't say anything." This is a comforting validation of the skills I bring to an encounter. I really can establish rapport, I really can help people work through their problems, I really have helped improve the lives of individuals in our community. This is a relief, because for a long time I questioned whether I was doing anything of worth at all. Sometimes I still do question this, but I'm starting to remember what I like about being a therapist again.

So, someday,  I hope to have a caseload of 20 families in my private practice, who I can invest my time into, and I'll have a secretary to make my phone calls and do the follow-up busywork that so bogged down my schedule before. I will not have the constraints of Medi-Cal dictating my moves, and I will be able to refer clients to my friends when I simply can't take another family. This is still something I want to do, and still something I think I am gifted at. I just got so overwhelmed I had to take a step back, and, like my supervisor Bob said,  regain my confidence.

Monday, September 13, 2010


I know I'll see you again,
but a lifetime is too long.
How long will it be? 60 years?
At 26, that feels like eternity.

Is this what will happen as I get older?
The people I love begin to leave?
And the older I get, more and more
I'll lose to heaven's shores?

No wonder the oldest of the old seek Home,
for they know the truth-
you can't be truly home without the people you love
and a lifetime's a long time to wait.

So I don't cry for you, I cry for me,
because I know you are healthy and happy.
But save me a place at your table,
because I'll be with you again,
and 60 years will have vanished into eternity.

Friday, September 3, 2010


I am a part of this unruly, organic entity,
like parts of a body which don't quite mesh, we
lurch forward, like a zombie,
searching for brains.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Our lovely bureacracy,
elegant insanity-
fractured, far-fetched, fantasy!!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Maggie, Jezzie, and the new work schedule

Well, I've been doing assessments only since the beginning of the month, and  I have to say that so far it is great:). My dread of going into work is replaced with a desire to work faster and more productively. My phone rarely rings and I never receive frantic phone messages anymore. My office is quiet and I work quickly by myself, which is my favorite way to work anyways. So far, so good.
And at home, the new dogs are filling up all our nooks and crannies of free time. If only I could get them to sleep through the night...then things would be just about perfect.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Never before have I raged.
Yet I find myself, fist to the sky,
raging over perceived injustices where no one can see me.
My left wrist throbs from squeezing the blue jelly wrist saver in front of my computer too tightly,
and I imagine escaping to the batting cages to hit and hit and hit-

Why now, Rage?
No one is hurting me.
Why now, Rage?
If they do, they don't mean it.
Why now, Rage?
You have never before haunted my door but, suddenly, here you are,
full fledged, as if to make up for lost time.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Living for Christ- The Widow's Mite.

We are so blessed to have a God who knows the hearts and minds of His saints. In human terms, the flashier, more dramatic your ministry, the better! We give Billy Graham and Rick Warren accolades, and assume that their sacrificial life lived for God is of more value than the desperate Bivocational preacher whose church is struggling to survive, or the Sunday School Teacher who has been working with 2 and 3 year olds for 40 years. Yet God does not measure our worth in scalps, in who appears to have the greatest number of conversions or miracles under their belt. God is equally glorified in the Widow's mite as He is in the healings of the apostles. He is glorified in a quiet, steadfast, obedient life, just as He is in the extravagant shows of miraculous power that He calls some of his people to. He is glorified by the family who chooses to stay at their church even though there is a crisis, because God has called them to stay. He is glorified by the pastor who stays at his post even though the church will never pay him enough to live comfortably. He is glorified by the little old ladies who pray faithfully at Wednesday night prayer service for the infirmed, and for the salvation of their grandchildren. He is glorified by the couple who sticks through a difficult patch in their marriage because they entered a covenant with God and they will remain faithful to their promise. He is glorified by daily, quiet prayer and Bible reading.

I hope this is a helpful reminder to you, if the miracles God has called you to seem small, or hardly miraculous at all- He asks us to be willing to be unglamorous, as Christ himself was willing to do, to glorify His name.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's the Little Things

I watch my youth kids, and I am acutely aware of how much our brains change and develop from our teens to our 20's. They seem to require constant stimulation, and they are always trying to do more than one thing at a time- they are on their phone, playing a video game, and talking to someone all at once and then wondering why adults keep telling them to pay attention. They are frenetic and seem unable to settle down and focus on one thing at a time. I remember bits of pieces of this, always craving excitement and social actitivies, even if I didn't have that much fun once I was partaking in them. I remember watching the worst movies and wondering why I felt the need to sit through them. I remember feeling bored a lot. Fast forward 10 years, and suddenly trying to multitask feels overwhelming, I crave contemplation and concentration, and I have gained the capacity to be much more in the moment and experiential. I can lose myself in thought more often, and I can focus on tastes, noises, images, and feelings so much more. I also jealously guard my free time and refuse to watch movies I won't enjoy.Additionally, I've begun to crave beauty, perhaps because there is so little around me. I desire to make the places around me lovely, nurturing, and warm, as if to nurture my soul and the souls of other people around me.  Suddenly life is about the little things, and my capacity to enjoy the little things is directly related to my own ability to concentrate and meditate on them.

To the youth, I'm probably becoming boring, but since I'm no longer bored, I think I'm coming out ahead.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Weakness and Mistakes

I hate making mistakes. I hate admitting I can't do things well, or that I forget important information, or forgot to listen to it in the first place. When I accidently go to the wrong restaurant, or get on the train instead of the bus, or get lost walking down the street, or lock my keys in my car, or forget to sign important documents, or pay a bill with the wrong credit card...I feel like I have no safety net. If I can screw up at any given moment, what's to stop me from destroying my life or doing damage at my job? Whats to stop me from hurting myself or someone else?
These fears leave me feeling angry at myself for being less than perfect, and horrified whenever I make a mistake. I have sometimes been called a "perfectionist" by people who didn't know me very well, which is funny to me, since Sandy is the perfectionist, but there is something similar to it. I have trouble with this whole "you are flawed" message. As a Christian, I know that we are all flawed and imperfect, but that is supposed to apply to everybody else, not me. The trouble with this belief is that it makes me very unhappy. Whenever I make a mistake, which is everyday, I feel sick, angry, defiant, and scared. I'm tired of feeling this way. I am trying to accept my own imperfections, not because they are okay, but because I have to find a way to deal with them- they aren't going anywhere!!!

Becoming a Mother

I am slowly transforming into a nurturer. The other day at church I chastised one of our single men that "if you don't start taking a multivitamin, you are going to keep getting sick. You have to take care of yourself." I bought Aloe for a summer missionary who came home with a huge sunburn, and administered antiseptic and bandaids on one who fell. I wake up at 6 every morning to let out my dog and I make sure she gets adequate food, water, and shelter throughout the day. I take a nap with her a little every morning so she won't feel neglected, and I worry about her when I'm at work.  I find myself hugging children, nursing boo-boos, and saying motherly things, like "be careful," "don't run so fast," "watch out", "make good choices", etc. What I  find fascinating is that so much is instinctual; I don't have to force it.  I find myself cradling my dog (who is a good sport about this sort of thing) and cooing at her, touching her little face, and talking to her like she understands me. This is not something I am doing on purpose; it is something I am compelled to do. It is as though nature is taking over and slowly making me more and more like a mommy so when my real kids come along, I will know exactly what to do.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Careers and Kids

     My husband and I were remarking over lunch today how remarkable it is that we parent all day long at our jobs, despite never have been parents. All day long we correct and improve and modify behavior, nuture and protect, and work around the foibles of the children at our jobs, and then we go home to a quiet house. I like to think all this surrogate parenting will help prepare us to be real parents.
      It makes me sad, however, to think of the possibility that I might have to put my kids in daycare when while I take care of a bunch of other people's children all day, if I'm unable to stop working when they come. We are no closer now to me working part time or not working than we were two years ago, and that scares me. I want to be there for my children's childhood.  Right now, working full time is one of the sacrifices I make to support my husband's ministry. I don't feel ill-used for this, pretty much everybody has to work. But I hope and pray for a special dispensation to stay home with my babies. This is my prayer, to be able to be there as they grow up.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Unexpected Terror

I am watching people I love get older, sicker, and even die. I never accounted for the sheer terror of loss in my younger years. I always reckoned on my own mortality, at least in a far off way, but I don't think I ever believed these pillars in my life could really crumble. I can handle my own aging process, even if I don't like it, but this is really scary, even as a Christian. I've been so blessed to lose so few people, but the upshot is, that means I've bonded with them and now when they do go, it will really, really hurt. It hurts to even think about now. I've decided to protest the whole thing.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What would you study this time around?

Sometimes I wonder, if I had the opportunity to go back to school and pick a different path, where I might have gone instead. What if I had taken that job profile more seriously and been a librarian? What if I had become a nutritionist to help people heal their bodies instead of just their minds? Or what if I had seriously pursued music and learned how to write it and the technical peices of singing? Or if I had become a teacher like everybody else and had summers off? 

If I could go back to school now, and pick a secondary degree, it would probably be in nutrition or physical education, so I could really round out the mental/physical/spiritual health push which grows to be a greater theme in my life all the time. Lately I've even considered studying medicine, because it would be so handy to know when prescriptions could really help my clients and when they wouldn't.
I think I would also like to go back and get a musical degree to learn how to compose music, or at least to improve my singing ability.
I'd also like to study Theology. I have a secret hope that when my husband goes to Seminary, that I might be able to go, too, and take some classes, possibly get a second Master's degree.
To top it all off, I still want that Doctorate in Psychology so I can become a professor, providing both life experience and book learning in my classroom.

What about you? If you could go back, what would you study this time around?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Taking a Break

Last week I went on a mission trip to Oakhurst, CA, with my church family. It was awesome on many spiritual and personal levels. Professionally it was also helpful. There were two things that happened while I was gone that helped me at work this week. First, I relaxed. I wasn't in charge, and I didn't know what was happening most of the time until I was told and I wasn't responsible for much except doing what I was told to do. This was incredibly relaxing, as most of my work right now is self-propelled and I have to worry about things like, "is this the best use of my time?", "How can I do this faster?" Etc. Instead I just worked, and by the time I re-entered my office on Monday morning I didn't have any residual stress left from the previous week. So when the stress of my clients and my coworkers washed over me, I was able to see that not only was my only stress affecting me in any given week, other people's stress was stressing me out! This was a relief because I was starting to feel pretty crazy. I was reminded that most of my feelings are exacerbated by the emotional climate I'm in, which means it's not because there's something wrong me, it's just a side effect of being empathic. This was a relief.

The next thing that helped is I felt competent the entire week. I can work in VBS, sing songs, work with kids and teens and show up for Bible Study very easily. I had to pray for a positive attitude a few times, but I never felt like I was being asked to do anything impossible. It was nice to have a week where I wasn't faced with my own inadequacies every day. It was a reminder to me that I am a competent, intelligent, fun person- something I had been forgetting.

So now I'm back at work. I feel the waves of stress lapping at my toes, and I try to ignore them and calm myself down. I feel the infringement of inadequacy and try to conquer that, too, with scripture, faith, and prayer. The nice thing is, I don't have to fight this particular fight forever. I get to make a change soon.
I'm starting a new position in August, where I only do assessments. I'm distributing my caseload to other therapists and seeing fewer and fewer clients a week in anticipation of the change. I think this is going to be a great time for me to hone my interviewing skills and also to rest a little from the responsibilty of so many people's problems. My shoulders already feel lighter.

Friday, June 25, 2010


There are some ways in which I am very good with people. I am good at helping them feel understood, loved, and good at being nonjudgemental. I am good at believing people and believing they are trying their hardest and that they have no intention of hurting anyone else.

Unfortunately, these good qualities mean I'm also not very good at handling conflict, or speaking my mind directly, or confronting people when they are wrong or lying. And when people get upset with me and become irrational, I usually lose the ability to think clearly and get confused. I do not "manage" other people, I try to take the path of least resistance. This is great when I meet new people, but not great when it comes to remaining in control in my office, or confronting people's lies, or pointing out a change that needs to be made...

I hope I will grow into a balance of these things, where I can call it like it is and still be compassionate and understanding. I also hope I will be able to face conflict without my brain shutting down and involuntarily going into flight/freeze mode.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I was fired by a client's mom yesterday for not being able to give answers she thought could help her child.
When these things happen, which they do, from time to time, I handle it alright when they are in my office. Then, I crumple, even though this happens to all therapists from time to time. I end up feeling like a failure, despite evidence that most of the families that fire me have a lot going on and aren't always in a state of mind to do what's best for themselves, or that no one can be all things to everyone, althought we strive to, and that a little bit of failure is a part of being human.

I walk around the office feeling fragile, avoiding my cotherapists. "Do they know?" a voice in my head whispers. "Do they already know I'm a failure?" I resist telling them because I'm afraid they will judge me or tell me what I should have done, even though they have hardly ever done that. Its my shame, and not their actions, that drive me to keep to myself.

It always takes me a while to recover from these things. In the last year, I have been knowingly fired by about 4 or 5 different families. I have a caseload of 75 at any given time, so statistically speaking this isn't horrible. But that voice in my head doesn't listen to statistics, because it believes itself more than it believes fact.

So in a few days that feeling of failure will fade back into the background and be surplanted by other feelings, hopefully happier ones, as other families come to see me and show me how successful they can be, and other kid's lives are improved by having someone to care about them.

I hope that one day, I grow so much that getting fired gets easier and it doesn't have to hang around me for this long. Maybe one day, the upsetness will decrease to an hour or so, and be mild enough to hardly notice.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Singing my the side?

Like so many young people, I dreamt of a music career. Now that I get to sing so much more, that old dream is fluttering up into my face and getting in the way of other things I'm doing. I keep telling myself, it is okay to just sing, I don't have to rise to fame or anything, or get noticed or make a record, I can just sing as a part of my daily life- singing not to the top, but to the side of everything else already in my life. The teenage diva inside me rejects this line of thinking, and keeps arguing that this is not enough.
Then last night, I had a crazy stress dream about singing!

I dream that I won a contest to sing a solo at the State Youth Conference in December. I was going to sing My Redeemer Lives, the Nicole C Mullins song I sang at church on Sunday. It was going to be my Big Break. Well, I got onto stage, and I could barely hear my music! I kept motioning to the sound guys to turn it up but everytime they did it wasn't enough. So I tried to start my song but came in at the wrong time because I couldn't really hear and got way off track. Then I found out they were playing the demonstration track instead of the performance track and Nicole C Mullin's voice was coming through! Daryll Watts ( who is the guy in charge of S. Baptist youth events in California) made them kick me off the stage and wouldn't let me restart the song. I was so devastated and humiliated!!!! I knew then that I would never get my Big Break, and I had to go back out and face defeat in front of all those thousands of people.

I was so relieved to wake up this morning and find out it was a dream. It was revealing to me, however, of the struggle that's been re-awoken in my heart. I'll have to figure out a way to resolve this if I want to have peaceful sleep.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Career Woman

I always wanted to have an illustrious career. Even as a young girl I imagined having some awesome job that let me trot the globe, probably in pursuit of rubies. Now I am a career woman. This is ironic, because now I would love nothing more than to be able to have a family, work around the house, and do volunteer work at church. I would always want to work part time, I think, but having a high-powered career? I wish I could make jam instead.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

They Never Changed

I have clients who have never changed. They are as troubled today as they were when we started. As likely to behave poorly as before, as likely to go to prison as before...but somehow we have forged a relationship. And now on the eve of saying goodbye, I am discovering that maybe they were changed and affected by our time together. Their unwillingness to accept another therapist, their conversations between themselves, their questions about why I'm giving up my reminds me that maybe it hasn't been so meaningless after all. Maybe out there, they were crummy, but in my office, they were usually pretty polite, and shared their successes with me, even if they didn't trust enough to show their failures. I wish I could have been a better therapist to them- I wish my plastic magic wand could have really healed them...but at the end I'm finding that maybe it wasn't so useless after all, our meetings together. Now I just hope they will lead good lives. I hope they get better. I hope they find Christ. I hope they learn right and wrong and why it's important to be decent to people even if they aren't decent to you. I love my kids. I sure hope they'll be okay, and that someday they really will change for the better.

Looking Forward to the Future

There is a bend coming up in the road that is my career, and I am excited for the change. I also feel the trepidation that occurs anytime I am about to go down an unknown path. I have hope and I have worry, but no matter what, my course is set. I thank God for answering my prayers by giving me a new task- I've known for a long time I needed a change, a transition, in order to keep from entering into despair. I just hope it doesn't lead to a dead end!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Shoes

There are some in the world with shapely, slender feet
and shapely, slender toes, which fit happily
into designer shoes.

Then there are those of us who struggle
and cannot understand why
no one else in the history of the universe
seems to have their shoe size.

And that is why today,
I am happy to wear my new, heavenly-fitting shoes,
which allow my digits to wriggle freely
and for the first time in years I will leave a day of work
without pain in my little toes.

Sometimes the little things are the important things:)!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Song in My Heart

I have noticed that I have a subliminal soundtrack in my mind most of the time, and the songs on it coincide nicely with life themes. Most of the songs on my playlist are hymns and oldies. Because of the theme of Joy I have been pondering lately, "Rejoice in the Lord Always" has been on repeat, taking turns with "Oh Praise Him," "The Joy of the Lord is my Strength," etc.

I personally believe that God created music as a memorization tool to learn scripture, and a meditation tool to help us contemplate His Glory. Of course, we can use it to memorize or meditate on everything else as well, and people do. This is why people learn lyrics without even trying when music is in the background. Advertisers are obviously aware of this! 

I wish my playlist was always as good as it is today. When things get really stressful, I'll find, "I Want to Break Free" by Queen, "Monday, Monday" by the Beatles, "Hotel California," or any number of Eagle's Songs get stuck in there. Sometimes I get junk in my head I can't get rid of (like Lady Gaga, or Madonna, ew!!!) or life gets so overwhelming I can hardly hear the soundtrack at all.

What about you? What soundtrack plays in your head? What's on your playlist?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Time for Joy

The Bible tells us to rejoice in the LORD always. Lately, I have not been joyful at work, at all. I have felt dead at work. So I was getting rather down on myself for not being joyful, which , FYI, didn't help to increase joy! So, in a rare moment of wisdom, I brought it to the LORD in prayer. I have been talking to Him about this for the last few days, and yesterday, at church, I started to notice what we in the Solution-Focused school of therapy call "Exceptions." Times when the worst case scenario isn't true. And what I discovered is that there are many venues in my life where I am a very joyful person, not because I had to work at it, but because God granted joy to me. The place where I experience the most joy is when I get to lead worship. I get VERY excited when I lead worship, because I have the Savior to be excited about! I am filled with joy when I get to sing for Jesus. This is not because I worked for it, but because God quite kindly gave me this joy.

So, armed with the old, yet new to me, truth that Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, a gift of God, not something I can guilt myself into experiencing, I am praying expectantly for joy at work. This is not always easy, but it is working so far, and I already notice there is a little more song in my step. I used to hum and sing all day long, and its time to get that back. It's time for Joy.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Losing my Voice

Somewhere between 3 and 4 AM last night I appear to have misplaced my voice. Although as a therapist our main job is to listen, we nevertheless listen most often by talking- paraphrasing, amplifying, observing, etc. So I had to cancel almost all my clients today, suck on some lozenges, and work on mounds of paperwork. Its nice to have a day free and I wish, as I sit on my break before I dive back in, that I could schedule in a day like this one every week.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Trusting Again

I have changed, You have not-
my life has changed, You have not-
You who are the same, yesterday, today, and forever.

I am learning to trust You even when everything else is new and different-
because even though I have changed, You have not.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I cry easily as a baby these days,

at every discomfort and slight.

I cannot believed that I once saw myself as strong, disciplined, competent.

Now that I have been plucked from the world I knew so well,

I am at a loss for wisdom, power, and integrity.

All that is left is me, and she is just as weak and selfish as the day she was born, trying to survive in this hostile world against all odds.

Humility seems to be the only virtue left to me, and I seek Your throne in my poverty.

Why I do what I do

I resent giving you the best years of my life.
I resent that in my prime I am sitting in an office counting away the hours.
I resent that you are slowly eating away my youth.

Then I remember why I do what I do-
I do not do it for you.
I do it for my family, the one that's coming,
and for my husband, so he can do what he is called to do.
I do it for God, who placed me where I am,
and I do it for myself, because I wanted to make a difference.

So when I begin to resent the precious hours you take from me,
I remember that I have given them freely,
and I didn't do it for you.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Starting Over

In the high speed chase against time and failure,
I forgot how I got where I am-
not through the power of man but the strength of God.

So on my own I struggled,
more a sieve than a vessel,
confused as to why I could not seem to carry on.

But you took my hand and lifted me up,
and reminded me that you were my strength all along.

So I start over,
a child, with my hand in my Father's hand,
letting Him lead me home.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What I like about where I work

In order to mitigate my insoluble whiny-butt-ness, I would like to share with you what I really do like about working where I work.

1. I love my coworkers. They are great. There is always an office to go to if I need help and support.

2. I love my company. The zeal and enthusiasm for helping people is infectious and inspiring.

3. If something goes wrong, there's always the possibility that it wasn't me! Maybe it was someone else. If I was self-employed I wouldn't get the glorious hope that it isn't actually my fault. And if all else fails, I can always blame THE SYSTEM.

4. I really, really like my clients. They are fun and do silly things.

5. I  have my own office, with air conditioning. The only people that don't appreciate this are the people who have never worked: in a kitchen, outside, in fast food, etc, or had to share a space. Having my own office is no small potatoes.

6. PTO.

7. Benefits, most notably, free medical care. I can even have free dental if I'm willing to get on the waiting list.

8. Constant stimulation. My office is never, ever, ever, boring.

9. It is challenging. At no time do I think, "If only I was living up to my true potential!!!!" No, I am there, on the edge of my abilities.

10. People care. They sent flowers when my grandpa died. They forced me to eat cake and sang me "Happy Birthday" even when I was going home sick on my birthday.

11. Already arranged supervision. If you aren't an MFT-intern or a social worker, you may not know how important this is, but it is REALLY important. Also, no problem getting my hours!

There is more, but I have to go stop dinner from burning now.

Shell of Safety

I may not return to my shell of safety,

No matter how my heart desires retreat.

I must not return to my shell of safety,

No matter how fast my heart beats.

For I knew going in this journey was long,

And fraught with perilous ways.

But worth it to me, as painful as it may be,

To have a meaningful way to spend my days.

My shell of safety was warm and soft,

And I could not see how it could be so,

When others were so bruised and battered,

And had no safe haven where they could go.

So I sojourned out into the cold

To see what I could give.

I sojourned out into the cold

So others, too, might live.

I can not return to my shell of safety,

No matter how my heart desires retreat.

I will not return to my shell of safety,

As long as there are people who are in need.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Favorite new quote


Have I become as ill as the fearful who seek me?
Where has my confidence gone?
Gone is the exuberance fed by internal springs of self-belief,
gone are the dramatic dreams of the darling naif.

I thought I found a loophole to crawl through,
but it feels like a noose.

The Junkyard

I first gave freely, happy to be of use in a world where happy endings were scarce. I thought I would not miss what was given, and the more I gave the more I would receive.

But now my giving is laborious, and as I feel my vulnerable layers stripped away, to be used for scrap by unscrupulous dealers, I fear I am an exposed, rusty husk, who has inadvertently given away her usefulness.


I left my mountain at home for the weekend and walked free, breathing deeply without this burden weighing my body down.

Now I am back under it, like Atlas, and I realize that in those few short days I had forgotten how heavy my mountain was. I would like to walk away but I cannot. It is my burden to bear, and bear it I will. I just hope I don’t snap under the strain.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Feeling Restless Again

The endless bureaucracy of red tape that plagues health care, especially mental health care, leads me today to feel shackled and burdened down. If you'll remember, the key to checks and balances is that at the end of the day, people don't accomplish much in any direction. This is good when controlling a government, but stressful when trying to provide proactive quality care to my clients. I harken back to the principals of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and I ask, if I'm unable to accomplish the basics of my job, like notewriting, keeping in touch with clients, and completing assessments, how I can I accomplish the big tasks, like client advocacy, family integration, and learning truly good technique? Its hard to learn how to swim when all I have energy for is staying afloat. These feelings led me to compose some prose during a meeting this morning where I learned about a variety of things I should be doing to prepare for our next audit.

Here's one:
I dream of a place where, unfettered,
my soul may inhale, unravel, and be calmed.
Free from messy confusion, vague criticisms, and
the jangled clashing watercolors of my day to day career.

As my head swims with the garish details of redtape bureaucracy,
I know things must be simpler somewhere.
There must be a place where peace and tranquility are fertilized and birthed.

I hope and pray that this side of heaven I'll find a place where my soul can grow.

And another:
The longing in my heart for change has many origins. Some are simply the human characteristic of restlessness, laziness, and apathy that I battle. Others are distinct to my soul, which yearns for success as a creature of light, desiring to rise above the sham, drudgery, and broken dreams of our still beautiful world.
My soul withers in this Catch-22, where I give too much but it is somehow never enough-
Oh that I could soar and be free!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


As I sit, waiting for a client to arrive, I speculate on how much of my professional life is spent trying to figure out what the best use of my time is while I wait. Sometimes clients don't come at all, so when should I stop waiting and start doing something else? After 15 minutes? If I begin to work on something else at that time, sometimes they still come in after 25 minutes and I have to drop what I am doing. I hate the feeling of being interrupted, and what I hate more is feeling like other human beings are interruptions. In this way it is a double emotional whammy.

The other part I hate is the uncertainty. I've never had a job before that was based on whether other people showed up or not. I will plan a session, have some great intervention, and they don't come. Or I will wing a session and invariably, that family shows up.

I don't transition easily from one type of work to another, from phone calls and paperwork to treatment. I would rather just do one or the other. Its challenging to shift, and I think its because both uses different sides of the brain. My abstract and concrete thinking mechanisms don't like being switched off and on like this. And in the middle of my own mental struggle to shift gears, there are real people in the middle to consider. I can't afford to feel grouchy or irritated about my job for too long, because its not fair to my clients. They need me to be 100% all the time, no matter how I feel any given day.My mental health does not matter to my clients, because this is one of the few things they do that is for themselves.

I suppose this is how I will feel when I'm a mother, a strong sense of responsibility to put aside my own struggles and focus on meeting the needs of my child.

So, I wait, and work to temper the frustration that so often wells up, often for no good reason. I listen to soft music and try to be productive while I wait. And when I see their faces, I suddenly have the strength to focus on them and I forget all about my own situation. I suppose there will come a day when I lose this battle and the chinks in my armor shine through. I really hope not, but its bound to happen once. If it does, I'll apologize and check myself, and pray for the strength to remember to treat people like people and not just another task to complete on my never-ending list.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Broken Record

Some people will tell you, "I became a therapist because people were already coming to me and confiding in me and asking advice so I went to school to keeping what I was already doing."

This is not my story, not how I got here. I think I got here to become something I wasn't, like an act of penance. I would love to say that listening was an attribute frequently attributed to me growing up, but it wasn't. I was much more likely to be talking over whoever was trying to talk instead of hearing what they were saying. More than once I heard my father say, "you could be replaced by a broken record."

 Being a therapist, for me, is training. Training to use my ears more than my mouth. Training to wait and contemplate instead of jumping to conclusions. Training to be more interested in what I can learn from others than teach them.  Hopefully one day all of this will sink in and I will become more like the person I would like to be, self-sacrificing, humble, patient, and kind.

The Wounded Healer

Welcome to my blog. I'm a bright young twenty something, trying to make it in the crazy world of psychotherapy. I've been working as mental health therapist for about a year and a half full time, and it's one of the greatest challenges of my life. Which is why I chose it, of course, because that is what bright young twenty somethings do, is create challenging goals and get themselves into Situations. So join me on my journey, whether therapist or client- I'll try not to say anything that will get me in trouble at work, while expressing the heart I have for the people I work with and the people I work for.

First lesson for you- we are less different from each other than we fear. My clients sometimes ask me, "is the way that I am feeling wierd?" I can usually honestly tell them (although sometimes I still get surprised, especially since I haven't been doing this long), "actually, a lot of people I know feel that way."