Tuesday, June 28, 2011
I switched careers officially in April 2009. I felt like a pioneer, shedding the comforts of living in one place to traverse a great landscape; enduring a chuckwagon wheel breaking and going without - food, water, even strength. I took a risk, and I've done the best I can to adapt - until recently. . . where I realized I need something new now. I need support, a number to call, a friendly face that has been through these trenches and can say that the turns I took were right or maybe too cavalier; too reckless. What would my mentor do differently next time?
Where is my mentor?
It's not just reassurance I need, though positive feedback makes me stand tall and feel capable to not only hit the road on an adventure but have the courage to make the return trip too. I crave a critical eye; someone who cares enough about me to be honest. Someone who has been there before and understands the challenge of self-preservation when you're sitting in front of a young woman who has been raped and is recounting her story from last night, still fresh and open. After hearing about trauma, poverty and crisis, I don't intuitively know how to go home at the end of the day and take care of myself. Even in my sleep, I'm still taking care of these beautiful young people.
I feel trapped many days, working under the weight of what feels like a great and global responsibility. How do I continue to admire a client's journey when I resent, at times, his presence in my doorway? Because it will be another crisis, and I'm already brimming with the residue from the last one. How do I not feel that their problems are all the same, and become blasé to what a conversation with me means to them? I realize that all professionals go through this, but being removed from someone's admission that they are homeless feels downright inhumane.
I love my job. I love the challenge, but I need someone to teach me the power (the necessity) of a deep breath and to not neglect my long-term goals, in and amongst holding back the dam for clients. I know part of it is relinquishing: responsibility, onus and the need to be vigilant no matter what. I am entitled to days where my performance isn't profound, this much I know. It's impossible to be present and to take action for every hand reaching out of the sand.
I guess I need someone to tell me that it's ok. That they have done it before and that my sanity and self-care is the most important task I have every day.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Most recent, and one of the first. . . photos of us.
This weekend, we stayed home. We met deadlines, ate sandwiches on fresh bread, spackled, scanned and laughed at old photos, grilled and talked. Normally, we would not choose to be "confined", rather meet friends for sushi or spirits. But truth be told, we can't afford it. We can't afford much of anything. My new career, school and some changes at our jobs make it impossible. And while we know it's not forever, it's in view for some time to come.
We made good choices (my career switch) and bad choices (charging a trip to Jamaica). We know how we got here and you know what? I'm happier now that I've been in years. Right now. Right this minute on our sofa with the sun streaming in through slatted blinds and hearing quiet in the city. Anticipating Marc's rousing and awaiting a walk on the Lake.
I refuse to be ashamed of my story. The "How I Got Here" to this place where I can't buy a cardigan when I want to. Where I buy mascara at Walgreens and not Macy's. Where I have to get creative with blips of boredom and plant seeds in every sense of the word. It's Father's Day, and I came across more photos of my dad and I when I was small; where I can see the love zipping in between us in sparks and flashes. To dig out that box from under the stairs, and spend time to thumb through old prints, scan them and watch them dance across the screen; that happened because I am broke.
The bedroom fan works because we are broke, and my husband is determined and capable. We eat healthy, al fresco, on our deck because we have to and look what happens? My skin begins to freckle and we see fireworks miles away.
I know there is kinship in this admission because I've surveyed a small sampling of my friends who are struggling. To say "no" to invitations, is to admit that maybe you made bad choices. . . but now you're making good ones. It is to accept your story and then begin to change it to where you want it to go; where you want it to end. It's a beautiful thing that lessons can be learned and reality can be shifted all because of your own will.
I love my home. I love my husband. Being broke, I'm loving me more. Resiliency is such a sexy thing.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
On a day to day basis, I don't think about being without brothers and sisters. Born to two parents who had already been through a world of shit and contemplated long and hard about having me. . . just one. . . I really learned how to be among adults as a little person, and adapt to what was expected: don't act out, be pleasant and appropriate, or else.
My parents weren't corporal or demanding. Not by any stretch, but being an only child led me to a realization of grief I never thought to process and experience. I didn't have a place, with my peers, to be myself in all of its occasional ugliness. To express and sit in it and know that a brother or sister, no matter how scorned, would come back to love me. Completely. In thinking about vulnerability, it makes a lot of sense why several folks get the crust but so very few get the core.
And those few are my siblings. My chosen family. Tears come to my eyes thinking how lonely it can be to be "strong" and "exceptional", because it's not my (whole) truth. I am a myriad of wonderful things, and working on finding even more to adore but it's like my basal region is held prisoner. I always wondered why relating was so exhausting, and I was so good at playing the part with those I knew I loved but was gasping for air to love fully.
I stand firmly beside those I have picked to be the ones who see me angry, frustrated, silent, weepy and scorned. They are holding all of my heart and I'm terrified, but I will invest in them buckets of trust and love and know, even if I stomp my feet and pound my fists, that they will say, "Enough" and then love up on me, muscles relaxing and receiving that type of love that I am so ready to take in.
I always said being an only made me work harder to find friends. That is a truth as clear as crystal. I worked at it until I was no longer a tree; instead shaved down to a stick. I made wonderful connections that I still have today. Dozens even. But experiencing those relationships with the lightness of being myself is the difference between flying on an airplane and flying with wings. It's light, natural. . . right. It's where I go from here.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
I've never done anything prehistoric. I haven't even eaten a barbecued turkey leg at Taste of Chicago. My husband looks like a wooly mammoth right now (preparing to be an extra in a civil war documentary), but truly, that's as close to pre I get. So when Facebook tells me my high school friend is opening a clinic offering acupuncture, I decided to jump into the unknown and get it in with some needles.
I knew acupuncture helped my aunt quit smoking, and if it's been around since BCE (forget BC) then, shit. . . traditional chinese medicine could help me discover some yin or yang.
I didn't know what to expect from the treatment offered my first night (ear acupuncture). I also didn't know what to expect from the focus group beforehand. Needless to say, both elements kept it 100. And I walked away not only proud that I took the plunge but feeling more connected to my community. Who knew?
The focus group was intended to help my friend's fledgling practice get some grounding on marketing, messaging and overall vibe of their delicious loft location. The question was posed to a decidedly HOTTIE HOT HOT group of people (damn you, yogis!), "What does it mean to be healthy?"
I see your wheels turning. Mine did too and then got stuck in the divot of "diet and exercise, of course!" You can imagine how much path was left to traverse in this discussion: a lot. It came around to a discussion of sex, rest, solitude, curiosity, giving, trust and many other illustrative words and phrases that painted health as more than a stick figure. Rather a voluptuous, radiant woman from a Peter Rubens painting, folds, dimples, curves and all. It was refreshing to realize that being defined by the D&E mantra is hardly enough to be healthy. It's simply a fraction of how our building blocks stack up. Divine.
You must have sex.
Be able to trust people and have them trust you.
Have curiosity about what you don't know.
Go to sleep. Take a nap. Relax into daydreaming.
And don't forget to give with passion and receive with grace.
Redefining health feels like taking back all the fashion ads, diet commercials, fat-bashing op-ed pieces and everything inbetween and holding a mirror up for those who judge and confine others (all of us) to look into. I'd hate to think what they would say if they saw me with needles in my head, other than, "That's awesome."