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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Saying Goodbye- It hurts!

So after 4 years of working full-time, I'm about to go on Maternity leave! Yay! Just a few more days, and I have about 5 months off to have, and bond with, my new baby girl. I have been looking forward to a change of pace for a long, long time and I'm actually giddy with excitement! I am one tired cookie, and the idea of getting to spend Christmastime with my family is pretty much the best Christmas gift I could ever have.

But, as with all life events, I cannot be purely excited to be off and away, even though its what I've wanted for so long. Because my heart was stolen by my clients, kids who are incredibly dear to me. Kids who matter to me. Kids who I worry about as they make this transition to work with someone else. I hope they will be okay. I pray they will be okay. And I am going to miss them. So I wrote a little bit of poetry to capture the pathos of this week- the week I've started to say goodbye, at least for the next 5 months.

I didn’t expect to miss you,

I didn’t expect to care,

I didn’t expect to feel pain in my heart when I told you I wouldn’t be there.

I didn’t expect the pain in your eyes

The panicked stare,

Or the awkward goodbyes-

I didn’t expect to wish I could stay to find out what happened next,

Or that I would worry so much about if you were going to be okay,

Or want to hug you in my arms and take you home with me- to keep both you and my baby…

I didn’t expect to feel so guilty for leaving you,

To be another ring in your chain of losses

- You deserve a better person than me, more consistent, more compassionate, willing to stick it out…

I tell myself you’ll be okay, I’m leaving you in good hands-

I tell myself I’ll forget to miss you soon and you’ll forget me, too-

But I never expected it to hurt so bad to say farewell, that you’d fear it so

And I never expected that I would fear it, too.

So many hours of frustration covered up the love that was growing for you.

Now the frustration’s gone, I’m at the finish line, and realize I’m not ready to stop running this race- but its too late.

I didn’t expect to miss you,

I didn’t expect to care,

I didn’t expect to feel pain in my heart when I told you I wouldn’t be there.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hazards of My Morning Commute

Oh crossing guards, I respect your job; I just wish you didn’t do it in front of me.

Oh road workers, when will you return to patch up the “repairs” you started months ago?

Oh children, didn’t you see the crossing guard up there- there to keep you from jaywalking around my metal machine of death?

Oh puppies-get out of the road, you stupid puppies! Do you have some sort of death wish?

Thursday, November 15, 2012


True friends are rare, valuable, and irreplaceable. I know because I lost one this September. 

Patsy was 73 when she passed away of a sudden heart attack in the hospital on Monday, September 10th. I had just visited her in the hospital the Saturday before, when she was talkative, energetic, and didn't seem at all ready to die. The doctors weren't sure what was wrong, and she'd been in the hospital for kidney problems several times before. Last year when I visited her in the same hospital, she looked so pale and tired I'd thought I was going to lose her then. I knew she was hurting, and she told me she didn't know why God still had her on this earth. But she had recovered, slowly, and seemed to be feeling better until her most recent hospitalization.

Patsy had lived in chronic pain for years, with a variety of different medical problems that kept her from doing a lot of her favorite things. Her pain sometimes made her seem older than her years, because she hurt so much. Patsy was beautiful, stylish, and an unabashed feminist. She had intense blue eyes and beautiful shiny hair, which had turned completely white in her 30's.  

Patsy had lived a difficult life. She fled her first marriage as a younger woman to escape her husband's abuses, only to spend the next decade fighting to get her sons back after he took them away from her. I never got all the details on these events, but she often spoke about what it felt like to be so demeaned for so many years. Her experiences made her a compassionate advocate for women.

Patsy was a giver. Part of her sickness in her later years meant she couldn't have any kinds of tight clothes on her body, and that she was constantly cold, and couldn't eat most of her favorite foods. But Patsy loved to shop, and she bought very nice clothes. The way Patsy dealt with not being able to enjoy the things she used to love, such as clothes and her favorite foods, was not by becoming bitter or angry- instead, she gave these things away to other people. She gave away her clothes, bought treats to watch other people eat them, and gave small checks to family and friends for a variety of different things she would find out they wanted or needed.

I don't really know why Patsy picked me out for her love. She was a member of our church and from the time my husband began as the youth minister there, she started loving me. I could tell by the way she hugged me and talked to me that she was being more than polite. She told me later that she "loved me as soon as she met me."

After being at the church for about a year, I was going through a lot at work and I didn't know what to do or how to handle it. I desperately prayed for help, and Wanza, one of the other older women in our church, spontaneously invited me to join a new Bible study they were starting up on Tuesday nights. I think they must have been a little surprised that I took them up on it, as the other youngest woman there was in her 60's. But I needed help, and as I have so often found, women of grand-mothering age are some of the most supportive people around. A person can never have enough grandmothers. So I began attending the Bible Study, which lasted for the next two years. Patsy was one of the women in the study, and that's where I really got to know her. I loved her vim and vigor. I loved how she dressed so stylishly and always had her clothes perfectly coordinated. I loved how her eyes sparkled and how she told stories. I just loved everything about her. And she loved me.

Patsy ministered to me personally in dozens of different ways. I wasn't the only one she showered with love, but I got a very liberal dose. She prayed for me consistently and purposefully. She literally gave me bags and bags and bags of clothes, purses, and shoes that had only been worn once or not at all. She told me to pick what I liked, and give the rest away. She slipped me cash sometimes “for whatever you might need” and gave me lots of hugs.

But most meaningful of all, she really cared what happened in my life. Having been a career woman for most of her life, I think she felt like she could relate to a lot of the struggles I was going through. I could say all sorts of shocking things to her and she never judged me for them, because she had some shocking things to say, too. She seemed to see in me how she would have liked to have been in her 20’s, if she had been raised differently and been given more opportunities. Every time I succeeded, she seemed to feel like she succeeded, too, and whenever I struggled, she acted just as concerned as if it was happening to her. 
One Sunday at church in the beginning of May, I felt overwhelmed, fatigued, helpless, and sad. I excused myself to gain my composure in the restroom during the sermon, and ended up crying silently in a corner of the church library. I felt like my whole world was crashing down on me and I couldn't stop sobbing. I prayed for some help. A few minutes later (I had been out of service for at least 15 minutes by this time); I heard Patsy's voice calling my name from the foyer. She had seen me leave the sanctuary and had gotten concerned when I hadn't come back. I came out of the library, and she sat with me on the steps while I cried. I kept telling her, "I don't really know why I'm crying, “and she just nodded and put her arm around me and sat with me while I struggled to explain the deep wells of emotion I was feeling. She prayed with me, and hugged me tight, until I began to calm down. She asked me if I was pregnant, and I said that I didn't think so, but I just couldn't seem to stop feeling tired and sick. When I got my positive pregnancy results back a week later, she was one of the first people I wanted to tell.

This summer, before we took the youth to New Mexico for a week for camp, she donated money to get all of them matching sweatshirts. They still wear their sweatshirts proudly- one of the boys wore his for weeks in a row, even though it was the middle of summer. She said she had the idea in a dream, and she wanted to see it fulfilled. That was no more than two months before she died.

When she went back into the hospital in September, I almost forgot to visit her. I praise God for reminding me. My husband was out of town and I was at an all day training that Saturday. I was planning on going home and then go to the gym to go swimming. As I was driving toward my freeway exit, I saw the exit to the Heart Hospital where Patsy was staying. Patsy! I meant to visit her. So I got off at the next exit instead and went and spent about an hour with her. Even though she was the one in the hospital, all she wanted to talk about was my new baby and how excited she was for my husband and I. She told me she was praying for me and so happy for me. On my way out, I hesitated and thought, I need to pray with her. So I turned and prayed a short prayer with her, asking God to heal her body and help the doctors figure out what was wrong so she could feel better. Then we hugged, told each other that we loved each other, and I left.I never expected that that goodbye would be our last. 

           I was pretty stunned when I got the email the following Monday from the church that she had died. She seemed so upbeat and energetic when I'd seen her Saturday. Her husband's family asked me to sing a song at her memorial service. That was the hardest solo I've ever done. I sang Chris Rice's Untitled Hymn, and as I looked over at her casket, and  I knew that was the last time I'd see her for a long, long time. I began crying and my voice began to crack as I sang the last stanza: 

"And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye 
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side, and 
Fly to Jesus 
Fly to Jesus 
Fly to Jesus and live!"

Although that was my last gift to her, it wasn't the end of her generosity to me. Her husband asked me if I'd be willing to go through her clothes and take what I wanted, because he knew she would have wanted me to have first pick. I've never gone through a dead friend's closet before. I bagged up everything into two piles- One pile of things I thought would work for myself or my twin sister, and another to take to the church's clothing ministry. I gave some of her pairs of shoes to a co-worker who wore her size.I gave some of her purses to other family members who I thought would like them, which they did. I gave some of her purses to other family members who I thought would like them, which they did. I didn't find a single well-worn item in her closet, nothing seemed to have been worn more than once or twice.This confirmed the suspicion I had that she gave things away almost as soon as she bought them. 

That was in September. Then we got a call just this last week from her son, who said there were a few large household items she had left behind that he thought she would have wanted us to have. I started crying when I realized I was still receiving gifts from my friend two months after her death. We'll look through the items, keep what we need, and then find another family that can use the rest.

What did I learn from my friend? I learned a lot about kindness. I still don't know how she managed to take care of so many people at once! I found out at her funeral that there was a young woman from our church who had moved away that she had written letters to weekly for years. I also know from first hand experience that she took the time to get to know the names of lives of each of the youth in our youth group, whether they knew her or not. The youth also have no idea how many monetary donations Patsy made for them to be able to go to camp and other events every year. The first time I'd visited her in the hospital, the year before she died, she pressed me into service for one of our girls who was about to go into the hospital herself. She gave me an envelope with money in it, asking me to make sure the girl got it so she could get herself a stuffed animal to take to the hospital with her to hold when she was scared. She prayed compassionately for each of our youth, especially the girls, and was a listening ear to many of the women in our church. 

Patsy also taught me about love. Patsy was not perfect. She had a lifetime of choices behind her, some she would make again, and others that I know she deeply regretted. She carried around the pain of her past with her, and in many ways it hurt her more than the physical pain she experienced every day. But she loved people, and she loved God. She taught me that people don't need to be around people who are perfect, we need to be around people who are loving. She taught me that a little compassion and kindness can reach out and extend to the most unexpected places. 

I'm not like my friend Patsy. I'm not overly generous or thoughtful toward others- I've always been much better at receiving gifts than at giving them. I have prayed to be able to have some of her generosity and kindness to be able to share. I don't think I'll ever be as good at caring for people as Patsy was, but I hope to be able to a little. If I am given a tenth of her compassion and generosity, I will consider myself blessed. 

I miss you, Patsy. You were an amazing friend to me. I'm so glad I got to know you. Thank you for considering me worthy of your love. I wish you could have seen my baby girl when she's born, but at least you got to know about her before you died. I look forward to seeing you again, and I hope I live my life in a way you would be proud of. I will try to fill in the gap you have left, but I'll never be able to fill your shoes. I love you, my friend. I'm so glad you aren't hurting anymore. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Long Time Without Speaking

Hello, Blogosphere. It's me again. I haven't written since this summer. Mainly because I got pregnant this spring and didn't want to tell anyone (congratulations to us!) at first, and its taken up all my thoughts and energy since. I'm due in January, so the secret has been out a while, I just couldn't figure out how to segue back into this blog. So, just consider yourself segued. Because I am trying to resurrect this little blog now. Why? Because I have STUFF TO SAY.

Pregnancy does funny things to women. For me, its sort of scraped off this glossy coating of politeness that kept me from sharing my opinions about things in real life. Suddenly I have been voicing what I actually think at work with my colleagues, and even- gasp- on the internet. A dangerous activity, I know. Especially because not everyone agrees with me on life basics, and not everyone can handle honesty when it doesn't tow the line. I actually participated in an argument on Facebook. I also got someone mad at me on a blog post. So far at work they are putting up with me (amazingly) even though I've started saying what I think. I'm breaking lots and lots of social rules.

The funny thing about this is, a part of me is relieved and thinks its about time I started telling people what I really think about stuff, even if it means conflict. I feel like a middle-aged man in that sense, who is tired of being PC and ready to just say what he wants and thinks without always saying it nicely.

I know this new found boldness scares my mom, who always taught us to be polite and tactful, and I'm not actually trying to make waves on purpose. But it struck me that politeness and tact, while helpful with newcomers to my life, serves an additional purpose of protecting me from ever really making real connections. People I see every day don't know who I am or what I think- and if they can't handle those things, then maybe we weren't really friends to begin with. Just acquaintances who share space. I want real connections with real people- and that's going to mean opening myself up for the possibility of criticism and judgement. Which hurts. But how is walking through life a stranger to my neighbors any better?

So here is a little poem I wrote about all that.

Do you really like me?
Or do you like my skills?
The way I smile and appear polite?
The way I gloss over my opinions and tell you what you want to hear?
Because now that I am opening my mouth,
I have suddenly become controversial, dangerous,
- even rude-
- even petty-
- even alien-
Which causes me to wonder whether you really liked me in the first place,
Or if you just liked how easy I was to be around. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Summer 2012

This blog started out as a simple summer update, but became a rambling, stream of consciousness style piece about where I am right now spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. So, if you just want the summer update, just read the first paragraph and ignore the rest! 

There is a LOT going on right now. Like, muchas much! I am going to be preparing for taking on a few clients at a local Christian counseling center in the evenings (with all my free time, you know), and preparing for teaching my first GRADUATE level course in September, while holding down my full time job, and having college age summer missionaries coming to stay on my house for 4 weeks out of the summer (meaning it will have to be clean), going to Glorieta (yay!)  with the youth group for camp, going to the FIF concert in San Diego (Woot Woot!!!), and of course, taking care of my new kitten I procured three weeks ago, who is rapidly growing into a bigger, more agile and talkative kitten, as well as the dogs, that man I'm married to, and somehow in the middle of all this, maintain some semblance of sanity while everyone else in my family and friend group is hanging out all summer because they were smart enough to work at the school system instead of in Mental Health (where we do not get Summer, Christmas, or Easter breaks- that's right, students/school staff who are posting elatedly on Facebook; for most business people, summer is business as usual!).

Now, I am sorry that went in a complaining direction. The truth is, I have asked God for lots and lots of opportunities and activities in my life, and He has graciously given them to me- overwhelmingly, in fact. He has listened to my prayers and allowed me to be successful in lots and lots of things, and given me working opportunities other people would give a limb for. In a time of economic recession, I have been blessed with more jobs than I know what to do with, and more invitations to speak and sing than I can take.
As a young person, I prayed and prayed that God would use me in a mighty way, and give me purpose and a plan for the future. Now I sort of wish I'd prayed for rest and a little corner of the world all my own. People talk about "comfort zones" (a phrase I don't like because its overused, but I don't know what better to replace it with) and getting out of them- I'd rather like to find one. I don't think I know what this "comfort zone" thing is.  Every day is a challenge and I am never really comfortable.

But again, this comes back to what I have prayed for. I prayed for a different kind of life. I have prayed for opportunities to break out of the credit card and student loan debt which, sadly, identifies my generation. I have prayed for opportunities to work in a stimulating setting doing thing which make the world a better place. More than anything, I've prayed God would enable me to prepare our home to care for our future children, which means working- a lot- so we can be financially solvent enough to take care of them. God has given me opportunity after opportunity to prepare the way for them.

But He has not made it simple. He knows my tendency to do less than enough, to slack off, and to leave things undone. So He's been teaching me discipline, and what it means to keep going after I'm tired, not because I want to, but because the consequences would be so severe if I didn't. He's taught me that nothing moves without His hand guiding it, and I'm much less "in charge" than I think. He's taught me that life can be "on track" and still really hard, and that having so much doesn't mean struggles and challenges don't come. He's allowed me to experience what real despair, turmoil, and even terror feel like, so I am very aware of how people could commit major grievances and sins and "lose it,” in everyday situations. He's taught me that "how I feel" isn't as important as what I do, and often the right choices feel "wrong" because of my own emotional depletion. He's taught me I'm "as good" as the circumstances around me, and I have no righteousness on my own; push me hard enough and I will cave, like most people, into jealousy, deceit, and bitterness unless I am walking closely with my Lord. That is the most shaming lesson to learn of all. 

There is more to come, as well; He isn't done teaching me things from this period in my life yet.  I'm still trying to figure out the balance between what one can do and what one ought to do, and what it means to take care of myself when so many other people need me to take care of them. I'm still trying to figure out how to plan consistently for the future when there are obstacles in the way I can't see around. Things used to feel simple, the plan used to be simple. Work hard, marry well, avoid any majorly stupid life mistakes, and meet goals. Now, life looms ahead, uncertain. I avoided all the "big mistakes" and tried to plan things, but life still happens, even to us. And how much does God expect from me versus how much do I need to step out on faith and let him handle? 

So, here I am, standing on the edge again, not real sure how all of this will play out. I confess to you I have a real fear of going crazy because of taking on too much. But in my times of prayer and seeking of the Lord’s will, He keeps moving me forward. He is telling me to add, not to decrease, and I have hope that there is some rhyme and reason in the current chaos. Because I haven’t gone crazy yet, and if I’m going to go, I have to go all the way crazy, not just a little bit. All the way crazy means I would get to walk away from everything; a little bit crazy means having to apologize and pick up the pieces and deal with the big mess I made by deciding to lose it. And if I haven’t had a complete psychotic break by now, it’s most likely not going to happen. So I’m going to try to stay sane, instead, and go forward, believing that God has a hand in this craziness to fulfill the desires He placed in my heart, and do the mighty work He has planned in and through my life. 


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Conversations With God

"Take it away," I begged Him. "Take away my passion for life, my opinions,
my desires, my hope,that I might be the sort of machine that files and
finishes without initiative or dreams or other things that get in the way when
I want, I need, and I feel."

"Take it away," I pleaded."Take away the conscious part of me that questions
and pleads and wonders and complains and opines,
because it has no place in my life when the paperwork piles up,
and there is more, more, more that I must do, and there is no, no, no way out but through..."

In my moment of weakness I implored this of God,
knowing simplicity to be bliss and too much thought withers the heart.
I wanted to be freed from cares because I seemed to care too much.

But my Lord is good, and as soon as I asked, I knew He would answer "No."
"No, I will not put to sleep all I have made you to be. I have made you for more than today, more than this burden, and I will not lose you to it though you ask to be lost."

"I am your servant, Lord," I replied. "If you prefer my sorrow to my silence, it will be as you wish. I have no will to refuse you or go against you, because only You hold the keys to life."

But still my heart was disturbed, because I thought, "I have no promise, no covenant with you like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that there will be any good in my mortal life but only solace in heaven, which makes the rest of my earthly life seem like a desperate pitstop indeed." I despaired of living because I could see only hardness in the road and many sorrows.

But still my Lord sought me out, and heard me in my silent urgency.

"My Lord, did you make me only for sorrow? Because I have no promise from you, no guarantee that things will improve. Nor do I condemn or betray you if the life you have for me is one of tragedy, because its Yours to use, and Heaven is more than enough.

"But oh Lord, I am a very little person, and the idea of living for the rest of my life the way I hurt now, well, I don't know if I can bear it. To you, a thousand years is like a day, but to me, Heaven feels very far away."

And what did my Lord say? Did He condemn my lack of faith? No. In His great kindness, My Lord reminded me, "Daughter, I have so many promises for you. I promise that I hear you and I answer your prayers. I promise there is a hope and a future for you. I promise that I made you for joy, hope, and love.When have I left you, My daughter, and when have I allowed you to fall? Have I not cushioned every blow life has wraught you, and provided for you much more than you need? Sorrow lasts for the night, but joy comes in the morning. I know your name, child, and it was on My lips when I died at Calvary. These promises are greater than the first I gave to Abraham and his sons. You need not fear because there is much good coming to you."

What a mighty, loving, and kind God I serve. In my sorrow, I will wait on Him for the joy of my salvation, knowing He will bring healing, not just one day on Heaven's shores but where I'm at today.

Mental Health Professional of the Year

     Its been over a month since I last blogged. Part of this is that all my creative juices are getting used for my radio show, which has been a really enjoyable endeavor, and another part is that I have had a bad cough for over 3 weeks now and for a lot of that time I've felt extremely fatigued. Its been all I can do to fulfill my daily responsibilities, and those not super well, so blogging hasn't been happening.

          But I've had a lot of good things happen since I wrote to you last. For one thing, I am only 2 months away from completing the MHLAP (Mental Health Loan Repayment Program) that I have been a part of for the last year. As of June 30th, I will receive 10,000$ toward my student loans for working at a non-profit agency in a low income area from June 2011 to June 2012. This is a huge deal and I've been very blessed to be accepted into this program. If you live in California and you are working in Mental Health, I highly suggest you Google it and take a look. It's great to receive extra money for something you were planning on doing anyway! It also helps offset the lower wages that come with non-profit work.

          I have been provided with several additional speaking opportunities since I started my Radio Show that I have really been happy to be a part of. Since public speaking is a passion of mine, I'm happy to be able to hone my skills and get additional experiences. I actually had the opportunity to TURN DOWN some speaking engagements for different reasons, which was pretty trippy! I  never thought I'd get to a point where I would have to be choosy.

        But the biggest honor I have had bestowed on me professionally this year is being nominated by a friend of mine for "MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR." Doesn't that sound smancy??? Every year our county has an academy awards event for consumers, staff, and mental health centers who have demonstrated excellence. I have participated in this for the last two years as a coordinator, planner, selection committee member, and as a nominator (I nominated our center last year and we totally won!), but I didn't expect to be nominated for anything this decade. That seemed like a designation that should go to really OLD people who have been working in their agencies for over twenty years and have started programs and run things(No offense, old people! I like you and think you should get more awards for perseverance and integrity. ), and really made a difference, not flash-in-the-pan young kids like me who think 3 years anywhere feels like an eternity and are still waiting for Easter, Summer, and Christmas Breaks to show back up again.

     But my sweet friend nominated me nonetheless, apparently believing that getting licensed, starting a radio show, contributing to the county committee on dual diagnosis treatment, and teaching Psychology in the evenings, all while juggling a caseload of 90 clients and volunteering at my church three times a week are pretty amazing achievements for someone who has only been working in the field for 3 years. When she puts it that way, I guess I do sound pretty accomplished. What I actually feel, however, is really, really tired.

    So I am honored to be nominated. I will have mixed feelings about winning, though- if I don't win, of course I'll be disappointed, but if I do win, I think I will be concerned because if MY best is THE best we have to offer, than I feel bad for our clients. Because for every one thing I've accomplished, I can think of 2 to 3 things I've really messed up along the way as well. But that won't stop me from setting the trophy in my office and adding it to my resume' if I win:). I'm honored to have my hard work recognized, and touched that anyone thinks I'm an anything "OF THE YEAR" at all.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Radio Debut

Well, last night was the first night of my new radio show. I was SO nervous yesterday I was pretty much useless to my clients in the morning, or at least I felt that way. Back when I was a board operator, I never really felt comfortable taking control of the mic and I was afraid I would freeze and be unable to fill up the time and be left sitting there with dead air while I tried vainly to think about what to say for the next hour, until the board operator rescued me and I went home in disgrace.

Thankfully, nothing like that happened at all:). We did have some off air mishaps which meant the show started later than it was supposed to, but once we finally got on the air, I was poised and calm enough to have a pretty pleasant conversation with the air. I made some jokes, shared some research, and told the families about the way mental health services work in our community. When all was said and done, I didn't get through my whole outline in the time allotted, which was a relief. Now I'll have somewhere to start the next time.And I have guests lined up for almost all my next set of shows, so I won't even have to fill all the time myself in the future.

Its really cool when this kind of synthesis happens...prior to becoming a therapist I had a stint in radio and I really liked aspects of both, but I didn't know where to go with radio; I didn't have a purpose for it, other than liking the sound of my own voice;). Therapy is something valuable to talk about, so that means I have something to contribute and that frees me up to return to radio. That's what I mean by synthesis.

I don't know if this show will turn into anything for me, but its a great experience and I no longer hate myself for deciding to make it happen.
Go Radio!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Managing the Letdown

So, it has now been about 3 weeks since I took my test and passed,  becoming an official "Marriage and Family Therapist." The day after I passed, I emailed my once supervisor to tell her the news. Her response, along with hearty congratulations, included the following words: "don't be dismayed by the "post-par-tum depression" that often comes after a huge accomplishment that you prepared so long for." 

This idea took me by surprise, and I quickly dismissed it into the "well-meaning warning of something that happens to other people" category. Until a few days later, when I knew what she was talking about. 

3 YEARS of preparation. A total of 8 MONTHS of studying and preparation between the two tests. And then, success! And what do you know? Nothing else changed. All the stress I was still experiencing from other areas of my life did not dissipate. My job was still hard. My present options were still limited. And to top it all off, I was super exhausted and emotionally bankrupt. I was struggling to be emotionally present in sessions and struggling to stay on top of the workload that had blossomed while I was studying. 

Thankfully, I have a kind and wise husband who expected this (he is irritatingly good at predicting what things are going to be hard for me). He summed it up really well, saying something like this he folded laundry and I multi-tasked at crying and making the bed: 

"People get disappointed because they have delayed gratification so long that they expect everything to get better all at once. Things do get better, but its a gradual improvement. Getting your license isn't making as much immediate change as you would like, but its making a lot of long term changes which will improve your life and mine. Maybe things feel the same today, but you will be reaping the rewards for years to come." 

Can you see why I married him? Since that tearful conversation, I am beginning to be more like myself again- less anxious and on edge, and more emotionally present for the people around me. I have also gotten to start going back to the gym, something that hadn't happened since I started the testing process. I am feeling my energies freed up to work on other things, and I have a spring in my step again. Best of all, I'm not as aware of myself because I'm not always having to self-monitor my negativity. I went hours this weekend without having to introspect anything:). I'm sleeping better, and don't seem to "need" to eat sweets to feel better. 

Long term, there will be huge benefits. In the short term, I am getting a pay raise and my picture up in the office. Not too shabby for my first 28 years:). 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Finally, after 3 years of my full time internship, I completed my MFT licensure exams yesterday and now I am qualified to be licensed in the great state of California.

"Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist" will be my new title.

I think this sounds totally awesome:).

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Radio Show!

"No one told me we had a partnership with Radio Bilingue!" I blurted out at the beginning of supervision.

"Oh yeah, we've had that for years," my supervisor responded. 

"Well, I just heard about it, and you should give me a radio show." 

"Its Radio Bilingue. That means you have to speak Spanish."

"Nuh, uh! They have a Laotian show on there. If the Laotians can be on there, I can have an English speaking show on there." 

My supervisor changed the subject at that point, but my mania had already taken hold. I scribbled down show ideas which seemed really, really good as I wrote them down. I barely remember what we talked about in supervision, but by the end of the two hours, I had a rough draft for 10 weeks of broadcast in my hands.

After lunch, I was still amped up, and I walked into my supervisor's office and showed him what I had so far for my radio show. 

"I should be the voice of this clinic," I told him. "I need to be the new public face of our organization." 

I am still surprised I actually said those words, and more that he accepted them. I think he was so surprised he didn't know what to do, but agreed that maybe I should be, and in a very conciliatory gesture got on the phone with our administrators and asked how I would go about submitting a proposal for a radio show. 

A few clients and 4 hours later, I had a complete series proposal typed up for a 10 week, hour long wellness show that I was going to host. I emailed it to the appropriate people and expected it to go and be reviewed at some committee meeting and get a friendly rejection letter which thanked me for my plucky idea, but maybe in a few years we could talk about it again.

As I contemplated my soon-to-be rejection at home after work, I felt a little disappointed but also very relieved. I had gotten so excited that I hadn't considered what a gigantic project I was proposing. Its for the best that they don't let me do these things, I told myself. Still, I knew I can do this. I am capable of doing this.  Maybe in time they will give me some more opportunities. 

My husband was out of town during all of this with the youth from our church at the State Youth Conference. The last time he left me by myself we got a dog. I don't think the brief text message I sent him (I might have my own radio show. I'll tell you when I hear more) was very reassuring. Still, I thought, they won't actually let me do this thing. 

When I got to work the next morning, I had an email saying the CEO had looked it over the night before and approved it immediately. He loved the idea and the content, and was interested to hear when it would be starting. I was not expecting approval, and I definitely wasn't expecting total approval of all of it! His assistant also asked if I would like to speak with larger audiences as well to share my message. I answered, "Why, yes I would!" 

I was interviewed for a television show on Tuesday.
My radio show is starting on March 22nd, on 90.1 FM in the Kern County area. It airs from 5-6 every Thursday for 10 weeks, ending on May 24th. 

I am still really surprised that a little initiative was all it took for this opportunity to come my way. But that's how every good opportunity in my life has shown up, actually. It didn't take much, but it did take something. 

If you live in our area, I'd love for you to listen in. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Finally Seeing the Fruits of My Labors?

2011 was all about persevering. I knew I was going in the right direction, but all my goals felt so far away. It was a "Just keep swimming" kind of year.

2012, however, is ramping up to be a great year in a lot of ways!

I passed my first MFT exam! Yipperee! Now I am scheduled to take the next one in February. Then if I pass I will be a licensed MFT in CA which means more money, no more supervision, and the ability to teach at the graduate level and the potential to work in private practice. Its kind of a big deal.

This month, I am teaching Positive Psychology to Psychology undergraduates for the Bakersfield branch of National University. An awesome new field of research which is a lot of fun to learn about and teach.

I will have a radio show!!!! Starting in March, I will be hosting a local mental health and wellness show until May. Will it be awesome? YES it will.

In June, I will finally be finished with my Mental Health Loan Assumption Program, which is helping me eliminate student loan debt in exchange for working in a loan income clinic. So basically, they are paying me for working where I was already working.

So the next 6 months of 2012 are going to be busy and awesome. Licensure will open up a lot of new doors and hopefully lead to more financial prosperity as well so we can get out of credit card debt and experience more freedom.

Finally, hard work is paying off! Yay for 2012!