Almost There…! 🤹🏼‍♀️🎢

It’s the eve of my second to last quarter of grad school and I am feeling anxious as hell! There’s this part of me that can taste the savory end and this other part of me that is preparing for a bungee jumping adventure and my harness is a touch too loose. It doesn’t help that I’m starting out 2018 like a clumsy toddler fumbling for a lost pacifier in a ball pit. My dryer is producing this God awful burning smell that we are trying to fix before it starts a house fire. I just found out that my dog has a tooth fracture that could lead to her becoming very sick if we don’t spend $2000 to get it fixed. I almost dropped a bottle of tabasco sauce on my head but it landed on my coffee grinder instead and shattered the most vital piece of the grinder. Super grateful that it wasn’t my head! Oh, and I got my dates mixed up and missed my first class. Not sure why they decided to make school start in the middle of the week, as opposed to starting at the beginning of the week, but hey! And this morning, my graceful self snapped a handle straight off a mug. Just call me she hulk!

I just feel like a god damn hot mess, y’all! And I just want to feel like I have my shit together!

The start of a new quarter means more evaluation and more criticism! And let me tell you, evaluation and criticism do not always make you feel like you got your shit together. In reality, I know it is so not that bad. In the end, it will make me a better therapist. It just starts to weigh on you after a while. It doesn’t help that I have not managed to make good friends in this program. I mean, I have people I can chat with but no one that I can really talk to. No one to look forward to seeing at school. And that human connection is so crucial to perseverance. Don’t get me wrong. I have the will to get through this program. I have a great support system outside of school. It would just help to have someone on the inside, ya know? Then maybe I wouldn’t do things like miss the first day of classes.

When I decided to go back to school, I thought it would be like re-living my years as an undergrad… It so isn’t! At this point, I just can’t wait to get that degree and start making money again. And I think this is an unfortunate mindset to have. I try to remain positive and embrace the moment, but it is just not working. I want to wake up everyday excited to go to school and internship but nope! Can’t do it. It doesn’t help that I am a slight germ-a-phobe and my internship site is not for the germ avoidant.

I need an attitude adjustment! One of the other interns at my site is constantly sing songing “I need an attitude adjustment.” I think I am going to adopt this mantra. And the other sassy one says “I don’t know if I want to be a therapist anymore.” Rough times where it is tough to be positive.

But here’s the thing… The hell of grad school will be worth it in the end. I will get to be paid for something that I enjoy. I get to hold a space for human vulnerability every day. I get to keep learning things that I find interesting and worth while. And I can continue growing in my humanity each and every day.

I write this for cathartic release. I write this to give myself an attitude adjustment. I write this to remind myself to pull up my big girl panties and stop bitching.

And so it is…“`

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The Holidays Are…?

Christmas is here my friends! Currently writing this while in the car, on the way to see my husband’s fam. We are obviously running late because that is the story of our lives. We may or may not have had a little too much Christmas cheer last night. Coincidentally, mixing apple jack brandy, cranberry ginger ale, and Pinot Grigio makes for a delightful cup of holiday greatness. A cup you very much need after splitting your Christmas time between 5 different sets of families.

This year, I tried to veer away from my typical grinchy ways and took more of a elfish approach to Christmas. I started off the season by decorating the group home for my clients. They were not quite feeling the Christmas spirit but what can you do. Then we did some zoo lights, struggled to make a ginger bread house, and attended a hilarious play entitled, “Santa’s Big Red Sack.”Throw all of that in with some Christmas shopping, gift wrapping, and home decorating of our own, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for Christmas spirit.

A phrase I heard frequently uttered throughout the season was “Holidays are hard!” It’s interesting because this is not something I put much thought into over my lifespan. It’s not because the holidays have been void of difficulty for me. I think it’s just that I’ve never thought about putting it into words. I never thought about generalizing an entire season like that. I’ve just always taken it step by step. Oh yeah, today it sucks that my divorced parents are guilting the hell out of me to spend more time with one or the other. Oh, I hate all those back handed compliments and straight up insults that get tossed around like a hot potato at family gatherings. Don’t forget the good old fashioned passive aggression. Wait, remember the pressure to buy nice gifts for all those people you aren’t even that close to? What if you don’t have family or friends? What if you are grieving? There is a reason suicide rates go up over the holidays. Damn, I guess the holidays are hard.

Can I share a secret though? I hate that fucking phrase! And I 100% cannot figure out why. Maybe it’s the childish part of my soul that wants to hold the holidays in magical regard. Maybe it’s because it’s just said too often. Maybe it makes me feel guilty for having a good time over the holidays. Maybe it serves as an ugly reminder of my own pain and anxiety. I sincerely apologize for hating this phrase. It makes me feel like an insensitive ass hole. But it is just the ugly truth.

At this point in my life, I still have reason to enjoy the holidays. I mean there is glitter, pretty lights, happy children, you get to keep a tree in your house, more glitter, cookies, lots of other baked goodies, lovely and yet pain in the ass family time, thoughtful gifts, did I mention the glitter? Trust me, I understand that the holidays are super hard and dreadful for so many. I am not at all trying to discount that painful experience. I just had to vent about my feelings regarding that unfortunate phrase.

Nevertheless, go have yourself a hard but happy holiday! Namaste!

Together We Reach And Together We Bear

You know that feeling in your heart telling you that something is off? That slight flutter below your rib cage… That tightness in your chest… The feeling of your internal self taking a plunge to the floor but your physical self is standing firm… It just takes one text… One phone call… One too many expectations… A little chemical imbalance anyone? Or maybe it just comes out of nowhere… Sometimes I feel like I’m having a heart attack or an allergic reaction. Occasionally I feel paralyzed. In a less extreme moment, I just feel off. Breath becomes hard to come by but is the key to climbing out of this abyss of the mind. This is my anxiety. She’d probably lie and say it’s nice to meet you but she’s busy throwing up in a dark corner of my brain right now. Such a nasty bitch.

I like to imagine tying her up and locking her in a closet. Occasionally I’ll deliver a mean upper cut to her jaw. I’ll do anything to try and push her away so I can bring myself back down to earth. I use healing crystals, essential oils, breathing exercises, and meditation. In a real pinch, I’ll pop some Xanax but once that magic wears off I worry about losing my memory from it later in life. What a joke, right? But this is the joke that people with anxiety live whenever that bitch decides to drunkenly strut back into their minds.

It seems as though anxiety is becoming synonymous with American life. It’s all about the goals and success… Always gaining and rising above… Improve… You can do better! Don’t be late. Get that A. Get that positive review. Ignore the haters. Eat healthier… Become more fit… Clean, Clean, Clean! Am I the only one who seems to have a washed up high school cheerleading coach for a brain? It’s truly exhausting and enough to cause a minor existential crisis from time to time.

What do we do? We keep that shit to ourselves because if we don’t, we seem crazy! We feel like we are going into anaphylactic shock on the inside, yet we just keep on smiling and waving on the outside. We see random people on the street who probably feel the same way we do, and we will never know. The only reason I know is because I work in mental health. I listen to people’s darkness and hidden truths on the daily. It’s a brutal world we live in. Horrible shit happens! Things are unexplainable, unreconcilable, unforgivable, and unbelievably painful. But you know what? There is always a flip side. Yeah, life sucks sometimes. Shit is hard, annoying, uncertain, stress inducing, etc. But life is also joyous, celebratory, full of adventure, peaceful, and a learning opportunity. Life is enough! I just read a post where someone listed all the things in life that are enough so I am going to give that a whirl here.

Enough is a powerful word. If you consider the origins of the word, you learn that the first element of the word means together and the second element means to reach or to bear. Things that are enough… Things with which life becomes bearable. Things with which we can reach potential. That’s pretty nifty if you ask me. With all of that being said, here’s my list of things that are ENOUGH. The list of different things which soothe that anxious monstrous who enters my brain now and again. *Probably not going to be comprehensive but it’s a start to keeping a more positive mindset.*

  1. An enchanting story that drags you in and leaves you wanting more
  2. The smell of essential oils, especially lavender
  3. A new perfume that feels like spraying on confidence
  4. A hug from a baby who is happy to see you
  5. Laughing until you cry and can’t breathe
  6. Fresh baked anything delicious
  7. Successfully soothing a sad child
  8. Observing the silence that sometimes accompanies freshly fallen snow
  9. The feel of a freshly cleaned home
  10. An amazing homecooked meal… especially green chili, homemade tortillas and refried beans
  11. Hearing the life history of your grandparents
  12. Cat and dog snuggles
  13. Baby snuggles
  14. The smell of Johnson’s baby products (I may or may not have baby fever)
  15. The love that fills your soul when your husband does something that reminds you why you married him in the first place
  16. Melting into a hug from the husband
  17. The joy that fills a dog’s step when they receive a new toy
  18. A refreshing meditation session
  19. Learning a new skill
  20. Holding a new born swaddled in a blanket
  21. Observing tired but passionately loving parents
  22. An unexpected compliment
  23. Feeling the sand beneath your toes
  24. Opening and pouring a bottle of wine
  25. Making coffee

Ok seriously, if you made it this far, you should definitely give this a try. I already feel more positive and a little lighter. Thank you for reading. Cheers!

Worlds Known and Unknown

“Life is an awful, ugly place to not have a best friend.” – Sarah Dessen

 

Today, my heart aches and my eyes burn for the empty place in my soul reserved for the intimacy of female friendships. I do not write this in search of pity. I do not write this with a lack of gratitude for my current life. I write this from the shores of isolation from my best lady friends, where you get your mani/pedis alone, girl talk is only occasional, and pantsless dance parties to throwback tunes are in limited supply. Sometimes that emptiness is a million miles away and sometimes it is front and center, begging to be filled but uncertain about how to find fulfillment.

Different happenings trigger the knowledge of this void. It’s that co-worker who is constantly posting her best friend adventures on Facebook or casually mentioning them at work. Or it’s those women in your class that always sit together and hang out after class. Maybe it’s the sting of rejection when you ask that cool girl to hang out sometime and she says yes but never brings it up again. Christina and Meredith from Grey’s Anatomy dancing it out never fails to get the bestie feels a’feeling. DON’T EVEN get me started on Grace and Frankie! The final scene of the most recent season had me in tears and thinking of my best friend who lives way too far away from me.

I’m not the kind of person who enters relationships in a half-hearted manner. I love my people. I would bury bodies for my people if the connection is right. That connection is incredibly difficult to find and maintain for life. I offer fierce loyalty, honesty, unconditional love, and support, as long as that is offered in return. I don’t do half hearted friendships well and I am a jealous bitch, even in friendships. That being said, I am far from perfect and have made big mistakes. The human condition is incredibly complex and tends to muddy the waters of perfection.

 

“In college and right after college, there’s this sense that your friends are your family. It’s really painful in your late twenties when you realize that they’re not your family, and they are going to make their own families.” – Greta Gerwig

 

I’ve had strong woman friendships for much of my life. Sure, some of that has been stricken with female strife, but much of it has been full of joy and connection. One of my most intimate and soulful friendships ended in heartbreak, loss of trust, and regret. It felt like losing a lover. A fitting description because some people saw us as such. I still long for that friendship. What could I have done differently? What could she have done differently? Could we be friends now? Are we too different now? Could we pick up where we left off? Answers that may never become known.

This woman felt like a soul mate as far as friends go. She made me a better person. We would fall asleep next to one another, wipe away tears, make music, and share secrets. We had an abundance of inside jokes and it often seemed as though we knew what the other was thinking. We constantly bonded while indulging in cookies, candy, and coffee. It took one night for that relationship to be destroyed. One word… One lie… Maybe she was protecting me. Maybe I was just scared. Nevertheless, the waters seem so turbulent. I am so uncertain of the right direction. I just want her to know that she was a fabulous best friend even if our relationship ended in pieces.

Another one of my amazing female friendships can be described as intimately loyal. She is still my best friend but the physical distance between us has caused our connection to grow slack. But still, we can always pick up right where we left off. Adulting has really gotten in the way of our friendship and I long for the days where we were roommates. I long for the nights of drinking too much and falling asleep next to the pizza rolls. I miss our awkward dance parties and swapping of embarrassing stories. I miss your closet and annoying compulsion to always make your bed. Most of all, I miss being your person. Marriage has brought us to a new phase of life. It has given us new people, new homes, and new priorities. I wish we were still one another’s priority. I used to view our connection as family, as everlasting. Blood and legal contracts are over riding that view but that is ok. I am still your ride or die best friend even if we need to tighten the slack sometimes.

 

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” – Anais Nin

 

Truthfully, the women friendships in my life have opened up new worlds for me. I learned about different family dynamics, and the effects of trauma and resiliency. This is where I discovered the power of connection. Friendship is where I first learned that you can hand pick the people with which you would like to spend your time. Friendship is where I learned how to connect emotionally with another human. It’s where I learned to be myself, and yet try on different personas. These are the people with which I fumbled socially, emotionally, and physically. These are the people who I could be Hella embarrassing around and they would still accept me.

I am having somewhat of a dry spell when it comes to intimate lady friendships that live a reasonable distance away from me. I love my friends, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that this long-distance thing is not doing it for me. I am too high maintenance for this shit. I am too demanding for shallow friendships. My couples friends are fun and wonderful but they do not fill the void that a woman best friend would fill. Sometimes it feels like the universe is telling me, “you can’t have everything.” Maybe I can’t have a wonderful husband and an amazing woman best friend. But that is what I want. I want it all! But I am willing to be patient for this new world to open up for me. I appreciate the old worlds. I value all the things that all friendships bring, whether that be past, present, or future. For now, I will feel this void and try my best to learn from it.

 

“I think that is one reason why women live longer than men. Friendship between women is different than friendship between men. We talk about different things. We delve deep. We go under, even if we haven’t seen each other for years. There are hormones that are released from women to other women that are healthy and do away with the stress hormones. It’s my women friends that keep starch in my spine and without them, I don’t know where I would be. We have to just hang together and help each other.” – Jane Fonda

 

Long story short – I am so lucky to have experienced what Jane Fonda is talking about here and I hope to experience it, in all its glory, again one day.

A Rose Is A Rose

“I gave him my heart, and he took and pinched it to death; and flung it back to me. People feel with their hearts, Ellen, and since he has destroyed mine, I have not power to feel for him.” – Emily Bronte

Rejection is a cruel mistress. The sting of rejection has the power to throw you into an existential crisis if you grant it so. I was recently reminded of my unfortunate lack of imperviousness when it comes to rejection. I applied for a thing, interviewed for a thing, and did not get the thing. And God damn it, I was pissed that not everyone needs, wants, and accepts me! Being that I am a rational grown up who desires to help others for a living, I of course took my frustration out on my partner who then took me out for some shopping therapy… That’s the obvious choice, isn’t it?

Petty Side note: I was extra upset because I am a minority. I am disabled and I really wanted my voice to be heard in the particular space I applied for. To be perfectly honest, disabled voices are often ignored and dismissed. So yeah… I was upset, whiney, and spiraling into an existential crisis… Yes… I am a super dramatic person, as previously mentioned in my blog. It’s genetic… So yeah, I fought with my partner who very kindly took me shopping while I asked myself, “Did they not pick me because of my disability? If they did pick me, would it have been because of my disability? Do I deserve anything that I have?”

What I really should have done is channel the great psychologist and king of sarcasm, Albert Ellis.

This dude… is so… AWESOMELY sarcastic! At this point in my career, I could not imagine speaking to my clients this way… But I feel like I should definitely start speaking to myself this way.

Fun story: Albert Ellis was a socially awkward fella who had some trouble with the ladies. He frequented a beautiful and quiet park that so happened to attract lots of lovely women. He desired to get to know some of these women but just could not gather up the courage to approach them. This bothered him so he decided to conquer his fear of rejection. He resolved to approach all the females no matter how much he was sweating, tongue tied, shaking, or about to throw up. Over the course of a month, he approached 130 women, 30 of whom gave him the metaphorical finger, 100 of them were willing to chat, and 1 agreed to a date to which she did not show. That’s the bad news… The good news is that he eventually did not feel stressed out when talking to a pretty lady. That, my friends, is the beauty of exposure therapy.

Most of us are not going to agree to getting the door slammed in our face over and over again until we do not care anymore. But maybe if you’re fear is really holding you back, consider looking into that. Luckily, there are other fancy psychological tricks you can deploy. Try thinking of rejection as more of an event than a feeling. “Okay… Rejection happened. I feel pretty bummed out about it.” Then try to remember that things can always be worse. “Yeah, I did not get that thing and I do not get to pay off my massive student loan debt faster. But things could be so much worse. At least no one barfed on me that day.” Then DO NOT provide that little bastard (rejection) with consent to define you. The link above talks about the metaphor of the flower. I will put my own spin on it for you. Some people do not like roses. A rose is still a rose. It is ok as a rose and you are ok as you are.

Moral of the story: Rejection sucks but it happens. Just keep being you because you are perfectly ok as you are. Also, buying things and saying “fuck them” in your head can help a little too.

“When you’re following your inner voice, doors tend to eventually open for you, even if they mostly slam at first.” – Kelly Cutrone

Ramblings Of Someone Who Is Figuring It Out

At the risk of being deemed a stereotypical millennial…

Who actually feels prepared for all of life’s offerings? According to my 24-year-old self, society does not do a great job at preparing you for various life experiences. To be perfectly honest, entering adulthood felt like a giant slap in the face. I remember starting my first adult job after graduating college. I was so pumped to be making $34,000 a year only to realize that I would still need to share an apartment with a couple of other people if I did not want to get shot while taking my dog out at night. I worked in an office where people could care less about my training or career. In the beginning, I felt so clueless and alone. Adulthood has a way of doing that to a person. I know I am not alone so why do we not talk about this stuff more?

Why do we not openly discuss smart financial planning? Why do we not talk about how hard it is to cook every night of the week? Why do people not tell you how frustrating it can be to raise a high-energy puppy? Why are we not real about marriage, in-laws and sex? I realize that some of this stuff requires real time experience in order to truly understand. But I do think we could be more raw, honest and real with one another. Maybe then more people would have better luck figuring their shit out. Interestingly enough, I recently attended a training for therapists about couples counseling. The trainer said something that really struck me. He said, “the idealistic expectations of young people in relationships are crushing them.” Is idealism just part of the human condition?

Here is an example. I met, dated and married a kind, smart and “mostly wonderful” man. Funny story… I frequently read an amazing blog, Blind Motherhood, where the author refers to her husband as “mostly wonderful.” As an unmarried person, I just did not understand why she called her partner that. I remember thinking, “shouldn’t you always think your partner is amazing and wonderful?” Bahahahaha…. Wow, I was so naïve. Needless to say, I now understand why the author calls her husband “mostly wonderful.” Ten months of marriage has taught me that marriage is hard. You are going to fight. You are going to disagree. You are going to dislike one another and say terrible things. Also, really difficult and challenging things just happen. Not everything can be completely wonderful and amazing all the time. Yeah, sometimes there are many joyful, blissful and seemingly perfect moments. But in the end, you are just 2 mostly wonderful people that come together to make a mostly wonderful life. Sorry guys… I’m kind of a pessimist. When it comes down to it though, I love my husband to the moon and back times infinity.

College was a place that made perfect sense to me. I took the classes and learned the things. My professors seemed to care about my success and helped me excel. Friends were fairly easy to come by and accommodations were within mostly easily accessible reach. I am not saying I did not have trials in college but I am saying that it was nothing like the real world. I remember seeing glimpses of the real world but I could just go have a girl’s night at the dollar theatre with my roomies and those ugly images would all just go away.

Maybe I am glamourizing my college life… Nostalgia often clouds the memory. But truthfully, I know for a fact that I did not feel prepared for the outside. I am not sure what really could prepare you for all the things that life brings. Maybe a go with the flow and figure it out kind of attitude? That is what is getting me through so far, despite not always being the best at it.

I look back on my younger days and remember being so idealistic. I know I am still young but my 24 years on this earth have taught me a few things. Life is hard and gray and messy and joyful and hilarious and sad. Some people care about you but most people do not; however, most people are doing their best to not be complete ass holes. So you know what? Give people the benefit of the doubt. Try not to be an ass hole. And above all… Go with the flow and figure it out! If you have any advice for this 20 something, please feel free to leave it in the comments.

To all the Kind Strangers

Sometimes, I think that having a disability makes me privy to the true essence of human character. I know what you are thinking… And no… My disability does not give me super powers. Although, how sweet would that be! My blindness does not allow me to hear your every thought or enter your soul with a touch of a hand. Unfortunate… I know! However, my disability does give a front row seat to interesting situations with even more interesting people. Maybe I get to see true character because I get to witness people’s reactions when they are faced with someone “other,” or something out of the ordinary. Most people do not have time or courtesy to put on a mask when they do not know what’s coming. Sometimes, these day to day interactions toss a grenade on my faith in humanity. Conversely, they also act as a source of nourishment to that previously destroyed faith.

Because I want this post to be a positive one, I am going to focus on those times where my faith in humanity has been restored. The first time this dynamic was articulated in my thoughts was 2 summers ago. You ready for this mind-blowing story that will restore your faith in humankind? The story that will make your heart sing notes of inspiration?

One hot, summer day in June, 2 blind 20 somethings were headed to a country concert. It was the blind woman’s birthday and the blind man has a man crush on Luke Bryan, so they were ready to party it up. After ubering to the venue, they realize that they do not quite know where to go. It is a pretty big venue. You know, the kind of venue that Luke Bryan plays at. So they just pick a direction and start walking. Suddenly, the blind woman realizes she led the blind man to the very front of the line. Some kind strangers in line tell them that the back of the line is that way. Thanks guys! So they turn around and start walking the 15 minutes to the back of the line when all of a sudden, some super nice individuals enter into the story. This couple, by the names George and Nicole, said just get in line with us. So we did. As we waited and sweated for what seemed like hours to get into the venue, we chatted with George and Nicole. This awesomely accommodating and blind friendly couple then offered to help us find our seats. Not only that, but then offered to meet up with us after the concert to help us navigate the mess that is leaving a Luke Bryan concert.

You know why this was awesome? It was awesome because they did not make us feel like burdens. They did not patronize us or act like they were moving mountains. They were genuine and ridiculously helpful. They made our night that much easier. One “sweetie” or “wow, you are so inspirational for coming to a concert” and this blind woman would have been finding her own damn seat. So when faced with a disabled person, ask yourself, what would George and Nicole do?

In all seriousness, George and Nicole were not the only people that made our night easier. The employees that showed us where the beer line was were pretty great too. Also, this random lady came up to me during the break and asked me if I wanted to go to the bathroom with her… This seems strange but was honestly a God send. Turns out, this lady was deaf and was like, I know what it’s like to have a disability and just thought I’d offer to help. So thanks random lady! I’d like to think I too would have the courage to uninvitedly ask if someone wanted to go to the bathroom with me but I am not so sure.

To be clear, these are not rare experiences isolated to Luke Bryan concerts. I was at a Brad Paisley concert a couple weeks ago and was waiting in line to go to the bathroom. These 2 girls introduced themselves to me and asked if I wanted them to show me where an empty stall was. This other random girl wordlessly grabbed my hand and led me to the paper towels. That was a little awkward but super nice nonetheless. Moral of the story… People at country concerts are nice! Although true… not quite what I am trying to say here… I meet nice people all the time. Like the manager at the restaurant who jumped my partner and I on the dining room wait list so that my seeing eye dog did not have to sit at the bar. Or the nice girl in my class that always offers to get me a plate of food when someone brings food for everyone. Or the random uber driver who low key walked me to the place I had an interview so I did not waste time getting lost in a giant building.

I think I say all of these things to say this. As a person who is blind, I am often put into situations where assistance from kind strangers is welcomed and super appreciated. So to all you kind strangers out there… Thanks for helping a blind girl out and restoring her faith in humanity.