June 24, 2010

And life began to change...

Many times throughout my career I have been asked how I got into the helping field. Today someone asked again. I think my answer has been similar throughout the years but to be honest, I don't really always know. I am here because I am supposed to be. That is the only answer that feels right.

When I was 19 years old and still searching for my place in the world I was in treatment for 41 days. How I ended up there is a long story. But, the bottom line is that people were running out of answers for how to deal with me. And had I ever had any answers of my own for how to deal with myself, I did not have access to them. At that time I was flunking out of community college as a theatre major....and you needn't tell me how difficult of a task it is to flunk theatre....I pulled it off! After completing the treatment program it was suggested by one of the counselors that I might enjoy going to college to become a counselor. Why not? So, I went. And life began to change.

I was better when I packed my stuff and went out of town for college than I was before treatment, but I wasn't good. I wasn't even mediocre. I was still unhealthy. I will still struggling. I still had very few answers. But, I went to college. And I did well. I had the best GPA I had ever had in my life. And if you knew me in high school or in theatre, that isn't saying much. I graduated from that program in 1991 and moved to a four year university. A bad relationship and few answers, in tow. And life began to change.

In some insane moment of clarity, with the help of my family, I left the bad relationship one horrid night. And life began to change.

Six months after leaving with all my worldly possessions in a u-haul I applied for a job in a treatment center and was hired. I would love to say that my personal growth had developed so quickly that I exuded role model; however, that would be a lie. I was still unhealthy, still involved in drunkenness and still searching for myself. And life began to change.

Six months after beginning work as a counselor I stopped drinking completely. I realize that not drinking was paramount in my change but I also know that the journey began long before that day.....each event, each change, each action, each reaction, each decision....life changed.

And one day I woke up with a long-term career, the mother of a wonderful son, an education, and a full, rich, soul searching heart of wisdom. Because life began to change....and I embraced it.

Each day is an opportunity of growth for me. Each situation is an opportunity for me to learn more about my purpose. And I suppose I could look back to the second grade when I first announced I wanted to be a psychiatrist. Or I could remember how profound an impact that particular counselor had on me in high school. Maybe it was some special movie I saw when I was growing up. The honest answer is simple: I do this because I am supposed to.

What are you supposed to be doing?

June 22, 2010

Isn't it Funny?

The lessons I learn....and the ones that I have to learn again because obviously I either liked the experience so much the first time I wanted the bliss of re-learning (or re-experiencing).....or maybe I forgot the lesson so I had to go back and re-take the course? Or maybe I am just an idiot?

I am in the process of re-learning a lesson right now related to relationships. The good, the bad, and the sexy. Why do I do it? The sexy.

Off I go into the wild blue yonder.....

June 19, 2010

For Good Lyrics

Weekend Visit

I believe each day impacts the next. And I accept as true the idea that I am constantly becoming. However, it seems that the last twelve to twenty months have had a profound impact on great lessons for me. In the last few months those lessons have become profoundly clear.

I spent some time recently with someone I have not seen in years. As a matter of fact, the last time I saw her was shortly after I delivered my son, who turned nine in January. I left Europe and she stayed there. She came to the states about three years ago and we finally got together this weekend. I have had many email and phone conversations with her while we have been apart. Nonetheless, I found it amazing how our friendship is so strong that even after nine years of not seeing one another we picked up as though we had never been away. I described her to someone a short time ago as being like a sister. That was exactly how it was. Immediately, the connection was there again. Having friendships are paramount. Having trust in another woman, with my deepest, darkest pieces…..that is beyond any I can have. I learn about myself through interactions with women who I trust implicitly. And, bluntly, there are just not that many I bank on. I am truly grateful to her.

During and since our visit I realized so much about the past, the future, friends and lovers. What a wonderful litmus test this meeting was for exactly how much I have changed. Dramatically I have changed. And for the better…..what a reward.

As the past two years have been about change and much loss it occurred to me how I once viewed loss as a process of letting go. I don’t see loss or moving on as that anymore. I now realize how every person I have loved, every experience I have had…even those that hurt deeply…..are with me always.

Thanks my friend!

June 16, 2010

Camping Results!

I did it. I have a real photo of us actually camping….outside….in a tent, in a sleeping bag, with bears. And I am forever grateful for the nudge to do something I have never done. How can I tell my son “never say never” if I say it? Many months of lessons continued while camping. It is amazing the lessons one can learn in nature.

Lesson One: Connecting and not connecting is important! Not having cell phones, facebook and blogs is not so bad. While, I was able to check intermittently while in the car roaming in and out of spots I had a few bars, the majority of the time was spent being present. Presence is a goal I strive for. It is more easily had when the distractions are eliminated.

Lesson Two: Family is vital! Don’t let another seven years pass without seeing family. We were in North Carolina, home of many Garland’s. It was wonderful to see my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and nephew. Too much time has passed but it seemed that we picked up right where we left off. They are still so loving, accepting and genuine. It was wonderful to have them camp with us one night.

Lesson Three: Protecting your baby is okay! Mama bear and this mama bear have a lot in common. There really are black bears in the mountains of North Cackalaki! We saw a mama bear and her three bear cubs. And the mama bear would have eaten me if I considered looking at her cubs cross ways.

Lesson Four: Nature is wonderous! If I ever questioned the idea of a power greater than myself on occasion…..being in the mountains removed all doubt.

Lesson Five: You only live once! I slid down a waterfall because I wasn’t sure if I would ever be in that exact place with that exact opportunity again in my life. It was cold, I didn’t have clothes to change into and I don’t think I really wanted to do it at first (gauged by the fact that I climbed the waterfall and walked down the first time without sliding after I felt how cold it was!)….but I did it anyway….and I am a better person for having the experience.

Lesson Six: Many great stories and memories occur after dark sitting around a campfire.

Lesson Seven: Never, ever, no matter what….pee in the woods in the middle of the night with your socks on.

A Natural Woman!

June 03, 2010

Camping, really!

It is going to happen. I am going camping with “the boys”. My son said the magic phrase that make this mediocre Catholic cringe and give in, “I really want you to, but would understand if you don’t”. Okay, Okay. I give. I am going.

They called yesterday to tell me they were buying me a sleeping bag. I sure am looking forward to seeing it. I have a vision in my head of it being pink, bedazzled and fuzzy. I am sure I won’t be disappointed!

These are the times I am grateful for permanent cosmetics and cute hats. I asked that I be allowed to have some choice in the campground. Is it too much to ask for one with a pool, electricity and showers….I didn’t even verbalize my desire for a spa. I will have to look through my clothing tonight and see if I have anything to match this adventure. I know I have hiking boots. I wore them last time I was roughing it. Of course, the last time I was trudging through snow on the city sidewalks of Washington, DC…but seriously, have you been to DC lately?

As I lamented about this expedition to someone yesterday and wondered aloud how I would update my facebook status in the wilderness I heard them say something that is still ringing in my ears, “you may have to go off the grid for a while”. Okay. I can handle this. Really, I can handle this. As a matter of fact, I may return with a new outlook on life.

Last night my son and I did our nightly cuddle routine. I told him I was very excited about going but hoped he would encourage me along the way as I am uncertain that I can keep up the enthusiasm the entire week (yes, week). He listed the positives we would experience, through his eyes, of course: nature, black bears….Ummm….yep. He listed those as positives…… ……rivers, hiking…..uh…still waiting on the positives here, baby…. looking up at the stars, roasting marshmallows over a fire…okay….toy with my emotions by bringing high carbohydrate/high sugar food product into the discussion…..and finally….the one that brought it all back to the reason I really am excited and really do want to take this journey……just us.

Just us….on a new adventure. May I return uneaten by a black bear.