twenty.13

i felt like this lamp.lamped

a little bit tangled and worn down. a few days into january and i was feeling less than inspired, less than energized, and less than well…exquisite. i’ve gotten past the days of putting new years eve on a pedestal of epic party-going and champagne toasts, but there is still a part of me that hopes each new year will be entered with a childlike wondering of ‘what’s next?’ instead, kicked off 2013 exhausted, annoyed by to-do’s that weren’t accomplished over the holiday, and my shoulders were tight with the impending stress of night classes looming in the coming weeks. if we’re being honest, i’ve used the phrase ‘pull yourself together’ way too many times this month.

after being off of work for so long, i realized i had little to nothing to look forward to upon returning to my beige desk equipped with two computer screens and a phone that rings incessantly. (did i mention my office is in a metal box building with no windows?) i find that i ping pong between the notion that ‘work is supposed to be this fulfilling and enriching atmosphere of creativity and connecting’ and ‘suck it up you baby, the economy tanked, and jobs are hard to find.’ and i was deep in the former and wishing for something more. however when i step back from the emotion of it all, i see that my job serves a purpose. it is keeping me out of heaps of school debt and i am very thankful for that.

in the midst of my pity parties i am seeking solace in a few new interests, and if there is i make time, i hope to find myself somewhere balanced in all of the pingponging. last semester i started reading up on mindfulness and lucky me, it’s a focus of one of my classes this spring. i’m almost done with mindsight (i love it), and just started mindfulness and psychotherapy (a little more textbooky, but still good). if you’re curious, spend some time hearing what dr. dan siegel has to say – i promise it will be fascinating and it could do ya some good too. after reading this article i’ve decided to put words to how i can improve my everyday by becoming more intentional with how and what my time and mind are focused on (i’m looking at you people.com). sabbath manifesto’s ten principles are a good starting point i think, but i hope to create my own principles.

grounded lamp

i’m already feeling a bit more grounded.

lamps.

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fafs-huh?

lame fafsa joke.

anywho, the point of this post is to announce to the world at the top of my lungs that i paid my LAST tuition bill this week!! thanks to a little program called tuition remission, my graduate level education will now be on the university’s dime.

i’m gonna make it rain with A+’s.

two classes down!

so my first semester of graduate school is officially over. and it feels fantastic.

got to cross these bad boys off of my core curriculum requirement:

cnco 6351 – counseling skills & techniques

cnco 6352 – theories of counseling

this semester brought a lot of ups and downs as i awkwardly figured out how to be a student again, but i’m starting to get the hang of it. here are some of the highlights from the last 4 months:

:: my first counseling session :: which incited terror of epic proportions. i had no idea what i was doing, and i stumbled through the entire thing. talk about humbling. it really showed me how vulnerable both the client and the therapist are in a session, and revealed so much about myself and the qualities and hindrances that i bring to the therapist role.

:: my first apa style paper :: sheesh. i spent a week with my head buried in the apa manual (6th edition, with revisions!). after about five years of solely creative writing and poetry, it took me awhile to find my academic voice. (what do you mean i can’t submit a haiku about psychoanalytic theory!?)

:: the first peer review :: for my skills class we had to video tape three half hour counseling sessions and then show them to the class for peer critique and feedback. honestly i was more anxious about being seen as the client than the therapist. who wants all they bidnas out in front of twenty other people? not to mention, i abhor the sound of my voice. but i learned a lot. for starters, i fidget like a maniac. but the most important lesson i learned was that nobody’s perfect. the awkwardness, stumbling, fidgeting, and incessant “mm hmms” are all a part of the process.

now onto research (which i’m dreading), and human growth & development (so excited!)

back to school

today is my first day of school.

a little over a year ago, i made the decision to get a masters degree in counseling. this decision in itself was huge, in my book, and it’s taken until today to come to fruition. after years of working with youth, i saw a problem that i couldn’t ignore, and more importantly, a problem that i thought i could help solve. my kiddos were predominately from immigrant families, teetering on the poverty line, and 100% feeling the effects of gang violence. my role at the time was to offer programming focused on cultivating positive social skills, supporting education, and discovering creativity. pretty much meeting any kid where they are at, helping them discover where they want to go, and getting them the tools they need to get there. this is swell and all, but it doesn’t do a damn thing for every experience they’ve had up until the point that i met them. i began to see that the baggage these kids were carrying with them was inhibiting their progress. baggage that was mostly manifesting itself in negative behaviors, an inability to express themselves, and an all around sense of apathy for human life, their own included. there were definitely therapeutic services available, but they weren’t always culturally competent, and i constantly found myself running up against the negative stigma of ‘mental health’ services. it took about two years until i reached the point where i stopped looking to others for the solution, and started pursuing it myself.

it’s been 5 years since i was a student. yikes. but i’m excited to say the least. it may be a rocky start, but i’m committed. and hey, maybe i’ll even make a friend or two in class.