Finding the flow
It makes me laugh when adults ask children what they want to be when they grow up. Like a child can actually know when they have so little life experience. But I was like all other little kids; I tried on different things that sounded interesting to me.
If I were to recall my own answers this is how they progressed. At first I wanted to be an archeologist. I loved to dig in the woods of the park across the street. Trying to discover the history that explained the blue china, gold locket and broken light bulb I unearthed in my outdoor playtime. I am still amazed that at six I knew how to say that big word.
I also wanted to be an architect, someone who builds beauty out of nothing. Creating spaces for people to live and move throughout their lives.
In middle and high school I had a fondness for medicine. I volunteered at a hospital as a volunteer in the surgical recovery room, EEG and Ultrasound labs. I pored over science and National Geographic magazines to learn all I could about culture and science, especially human anatomy. I was such a nerd. I wrote my senior paper on childbirth. The process of bringing new life into this world enraptured me.
In college I studied psychology. I worked in domestic violence and shelters for teen wards of the court. I got out of my comfort zone in these places. At this time a bachelor’s degree was all one needed to actually counsel people.
Engaged then newly married I took jobs as a nanny and volunteered as a church youth ministry leader. Children and teenage development became my new source of learning. I did this for 8 years until we were blessed to have our first of four children. As a mother, I took on the role of home educator once again excelling in reading and sciences. I started a Cognitive skills training business where I worked with students and adults with dyslexia, autism, sensory integration issues and learning disabilities for a number of years.
Life has a strange way of throwing us curve balls. I enjoyed homeschooling. I loved spending time with my kids and learning alongside them. I think I learned as much as my kids did. But then I was diagnosed with a chronic illness that made me unable to find the energy to teach my children much less do the chores of daily life. After much anguish, I enrolled my kids in school and spent the next few years trying to heal myself enough to get off the couch. Thankfully, I had my family to fight for, and I did eventually heal. All of this took a toll on my family and me. My husband and I found ourselves divorcing, a place I never in a million years thought I would end up.
As a single parent of 4 kids I had to find a way to make ends meet. My psychology degree no longer afforded me a living wage, and the work I had been doing required a master’s degree. In order to make myself eligible for master’s work I began to volunteer then work in Psychology labs at a local university. My boss there recognized my skill set as an empathic listener and great assessor and recommended me to the counseling program. I simultaneously signed up to lead groups on caregivers; helping grandparents meet their needs while raising their grandchildren. After fighting my demons about whether I could handle graduate school, I decided to enroll. This was one of my best decisions. The life experience I had acquired up to this point gave me the ability to understand and empathize with clients I worked with in my training. I excelled and discovered I found my calling.
Grad school took a lot of my time and attention away from my kids. One of the ways I sought to stay involved in their home and school life was to volunteer as a Girls on the Run coach. This allowed me to coach my daughter’s school team for multiple seasons. It also allowed me to extend the reach of the Girls on the Run program to the agency in which I worked. I ended up coaching eight seasons of the 3-5th grade program as well as the middle school program. I continue my involvement by helping to train new coaches in this awesome empowering experience for girls.
Four months before graduation, I discovered a health sign that made me seek medical advice. The week after graduation I was diagnosed with cancer. I had secured a position working at a local agency that catered to children and teens and their families. And I found myself faced with a health crisis. I worked as I sought treatment. Three surgeries later I was declared cancer free. The demands of agency work were a bit much for my body that was trying to heal from cancer and the required treatments. I decided that I needed to seriously put into practice the mindfulness practice I had begun, and the self-care skills I taught my clients.
It was at this time I decided to seek my dream and venture into private practice.
One thing cancer had taught me was to listen to my body. I had pushed myself beyond my normal limits during my grad school, post divorce years. I had paid my dues, but didn’t want to place myself in harms way again. I had to learn a new way of living. Cancer taught me to respect my energy for each given day, and to guard it vigilantly. My most important priorities were my children and my own healing. Therefore, I had to learn to take care of myself. I had to face some of the blocks in my life from my childhood, and beyond. By reorganizing my life around that which gives me energy and life I found my healing accelerated.
I have come to the conclusion that no matter how well we play the game of life, we will never be immune to challenges. During grad school one of my children came out to me as gay. While I had always been a person who believed everyone has a right to be here, to be respected and live their life, I had never personally taken on the LGBTQ issue as anything I needed to concern myself with. It wasn’t part of my world. Surprise! I had a choice; I could either reject my children based on morality that was passed down to me, or I could research what was now “skin in the game” and decide for myself what I believed. I came down on the side of love, my children are providing me another opportunity to learn and grow, and like my spiritual life had always informed me, to lead with love. I am on the journey of learning to love my kids, every last part of them. I recognize I am the one who needs to change, not them. I still have lots to learn and I make daily mistakes, but I am open, affirming and willing to learn and grow in this area.
I have given myself the opportunity to breathe and reflect. Now when I think about the question of what I want to be when I grow up, I see that really I was reading myself authentically. I do enjoy the work of an archeologist. Daily my work allows me to help my clients dig deep into how they were formed, what keeps them stuck and how they want to move forward. My desire to be an architect has helped me have clients envision a life they want to live, create the structure that will allow them to live that life, and even to build the self care to decorate the space with what brings them joy. I am daily a midwife when I witness new life being born in front of me. The clients I see do the work. They gestate the life within them. I simply am a support that allows them the time, safety and place to bring that new life into the world. And it is AWE-some. Sometimes it also involves learning a new pattern of positive parenting that allows that new life to be nurtured in a way it wasn’t in the past, but that serves my clients better. I learn as much as I hope my clients do, by working with me. I cannot think of a better way to spend my days.
When I am not at work, I try to strive for balance. I enjoy a home yoga practice, hiking, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding at least once a week. I enjoy tea or coffee with friends, and working on my house. My nightstand always houses at least 3 books in a cue both fiction and nonfiction. I also enjoy pursing novel adventures as the opportunity arises. My children keep me busy with theatre, voice lessons, cross country, track, art exhibits and college. I am the proud fur mommy of a rotation of cats and dogs.