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Sometimes, you’re working with your kids and you have session after session and the issues seem so big. Substance abuse, sexual exploitation (continued because they awol back to the “girlfriends” and “boyfriends” who pimp them out), gang affiliation, extensive trauma histories.

And then sometimes you’re working with kids and they request to speak with a clinician and you show up and their problems are so normal. And you want to just say “you’re not crazy, you’re sixteen. Let me share this bucket of chocolate covered almonds with you and let you listen to some dashboard confessional so you can see just how universal these feelings are.” But that’s not what therapy is all about. So you help them develop their own coping skills. Attempting to simultaneously provide support and therapy while not pathologizing adolescence.

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It is generally frowned upon to have impromptu, break-up-the-work-day dance parties in your office with the light on when it’s dark outside and others, residents and staff can see you.

Even when the dance is only from your desk.

And your moves are reminiscent of  “Rasputin Arms” created by yourself and your best friend from camp in  2005 in cabin 4.

Renewal

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I have fantasies about waking up early and enjoying my morning tea at the desk in the living room while typing out a thoughtful and thought provoking blog post.

Especially since we moved and our new home has the most perfect morning light. It’s like an instagram filter.

Somehow I haven’t managed to make it happen. I do wake up early – almost a full two hours before I ever have to leave for work- and I do enjoy my morning tea. But more often than not it’s while reading a bit or watching an episode of trash tv (most recently rewatching Ally McBeale on Netflix or Awkward. on amazon).

And I think to myself, “this is good”

“this is okay”

“I don’t miss it.”

But I do miss it.

I’m not a great writer, but somehow this helps me make sense of things.

But I’m not going to be held captive.

I will not feel guilty about a lack of words or a lack of time or a lack of interest.

I will not fall into the trap of this being “just one more thing to do”.

Too often, I fall into this trap. Little day-to-day things that seem to constitute “adulting” become frustrations and “one more thing to do”s.

Even my job which I do love had become “just one more thing”…

Until today. Today I participated in a conference with one of my kids and her mother. Today, in her meeting, she read her poems which she writes as a primary coping skill and she credited my help at the end of them for part of why she feels her life has gotten better and she has gained the skills to manage her emotions.

It was a not-so-gentle reminder that this is not “just one more thing”.

This is real life.

This is MY life.

This is HER life.

And what I had begun seeing as “just one more thing” is actually everything.

Considering things as “just one more thing” cheapens my life and I will no longer fall victim to cheapening my own life.

I will find renewed appreciation for the opportunity to do the work that I do.

I will cook dinners with renewed enthusiasm that I have for creating in the kitchen.

I will clean my home because I am so grateful to have it and I want to keep it beautiful.

I will take on my hobbies with restored interest. I love to read and write and crochet and paint and craft. I will make gifts with love and not stress about how they may or may not be finished “in time”.

I will dance because it makes me feel good and not worry about what the neighbors may think.

I will see my life through new eyes and I will take it back.

Year In Review

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So I almost wasn’t going to do this this year.

I’ve been such a terrible blogger since Xanga shut down that I would be sincerely surprised if anyone even follows me anymore.

But here we are, New Year’s eve 2014. Let’s take a look at the highlights from this year shall we?

 

January:

John and I rang in the New Year at his parents’ house in Queens with his best friend, Chris, and his sweet girlfriend Alicia. We lit sparklers that we were probably technically not supposed to have (and I’m the only one who knew how to do them. I didn’t realize that that was a real skill? It’s a sparkler; you light it on fire and watch it do its beautiful thing.)

We got to experience the first polar vortex and a couple days later made the trek back home to Auburn, Alabama.

 

February:

I worked tirelessly and feverishly on my thesis trying to get it up to snuff for my proposal. I also worked my butt off on my behavioral coding system to code all of the videos of my older adult couples.

 

March:

I’m sure more things happened this month, but the main thing that sticks out is my thesis proposal and finishing all of my coding! Jake and I were able to code with near perfect interrater reliability. If you’re not sure what that means, it means we were able to watch these videos separately and behaviorally code them the exact same way on a 7 point scale almost every time. It’s almost impossible to do as well as we did.

The same day our coding was complete, I proposed my thesis. Scott and Tom had a lot to say, but ultimately I was cleared by them and by Amy to go forward with my work.

Thank god.

March is also the month that Lorelei was hired at the Nan Coley-Murphy center and I was no longer the only child therapist in the county. We were able to split the children between us and go back to giving all of our kids the time and attention they needed and deserve.

April:

In April we breathed. John went home to visit his family for a week. I caught up on sleep and set the thesis aside for week.

I went with Caroline and Milira to Caroline’s church for Easter service and got to hang out with them afterward.

There were many cohort trips to SnoBiz.

May:

I went home to Phoenix to visit my parents between semesters. We saw the chahuli exhibit at the botanical gardens. It was super cool.

I also went to Michigan to visit all of my Prague girls for our Praha Love Fest 2014. We try every year to see each other over Memorial Day weekend. Last year we were in New York and thanks to Rachel and her friends, I met John. This year, we went to Ann Arbor to stay with Kristin and her sweet now fiancé, Josh. It was a glorious weekend. We were all tangled up in one another eating cherry flavored things and drinking fancy drinks as we do. We also got to feed all the baby ducks outside Kristin’s apartment. If you know us at all, you know this is a definite highlight.

June:

I defended my thesis! It was one of the most nerve wracking things I have ever had to do–and my committee wasn’t that bad—but they passed me and it was great! John took me to dinner to celebrate and we popped a bottle of champagne. After my defense, Amy and I started discussing publishing and agreed to send it out.

 

July:

I finished my 500th therapy hour and was officially completed my last requirement to graduate. John and I packed up our small apartment with the extensive help of my parents. We said goodbye to our grill, our couch, and two of our bookcases, and moved into a hotel.

The end of July was a mix of goodbye parties and dinners and cohort loving.

Bittersweet is what they call it, right?

We said goodbye to Alexandra the night of Tommy’s barbeque in our honor and she started her drive to San Diego.

August:

August 2nd was graduation. With my cohort, and dear, dear friends, I donned my cap, gown, and HOOD, and walked across the stage to become Leah Williams, M.S.

John, my parents, my uncle and his girlfriend, and my aunt Mary were all in attendance. We went that night to Acre, a farm-to-table restaurant in Auburn and John and I had our last dinner in Alabama.

The next morning we woke up bright and early. My parents helped us back the last few things into the car and we started our move to New York.

20 hours later we arrived at his parents’ house in Queens. Tired (him), crabby (me), but really no worse for wear. We were staring the next phase of our life. The first week we both did nothing. We decompressed from the previous month and all that we had going on. He then resumed his old job at best buy and I began hunting for a new job in a new city where I had no connections and no marriage and family therapy license.

September:

John got a new job! He started working for a tech startup in the city.

I continued looking for work.

I would love to say that my transition was easy and that I was having the time of my life, but that would be a lie. I had trouble. I was discouraged by the lack of jobs I seemed qualified for. I had a couple of interviews that went nowhere. I missed my friends. I had trouble adjusting to living with a family, let alone a family that was not the one I grew up in, again after 6 years living on my own.

I spent my days applying for jobs. 20+ a day. I cold called agencies just to see if there were any openings or about to be openings. I blindly sent my resume to agencies that I could not get on the phone.

I was exhausted.

I felt depressed.

I called my mother multiple times a week, sometimes multiple times a day.

October:

I had my first interview at my current agency.

I loved it.

I felt good.

They asked me for a second interview only two hours after I left the first.

I got called by another agency. I was asked to come and interview and see where my talents might fit their needs.

I went on that interview as well.

They asked me for a second interview.

Two weeks later I had both second interviews.

The second agency offered me a position as a Medicaid Service Coordinator for adults with developments disabilities.

I accepted.

November:

I started my job as an MSC. I did my best to change gears after being so focused on therapy. It was close to where I live. It required home visits and day program visits that helped me get acquainted with driving in the city and helped me become more comfortable.

I had the sweetest coworkers and the kindest boss.

Maria and her sweet boyfriend came to visit! John and I met them in the city for dinner and drinks and catching up. The boys got along really well and Maria and I got to spend much needed time chatting about life and love and all of the things former, overseas, roommates talk about.

The week of thanksgiving my current agency made me an offer.

I accepted.

December:

I started the month, turned 25, and started my first post-grad therapy job all on the same day. Happy birthday to me!

I have great coworkers and an awesome supervisor.

I’m learning how residential treatment facilities work and tailoring my way of doing therapy to the fact that I see my girls daily.

At the end of my first week, my parents came to visit.

I felt like I could finally let out the breath I had been holding for months. I could navigate the city. I could show them where I worked. I had real experiences under my belt beyond sitting in the room John and I share applying for jobs. I got to see my family, my two families got to meet (my always family and my hopefully future family). It was the greatest.

Christmas came and went. I had just the day off. Christmas Eve we went to John’s uncle’s with all of his dad’s extended family. I felt underdressed, but enjoyed myself. The next morning we went to early mass. It was nice, but I didn’t know what I was doing. I can’t seem to get the hang of knowing when we’re supposed to be kneeling, sitting, or standing.

And here we are, one week later, the end of the year. I’m working today, then John and I are spending new year’s eve at his uncle’s house again. We were invited to Astoria, but it’s not in the cards for us this year. I don’t much care where we go as long as we’re together (gag, I know).

I have a list of goals for this year, but I don’t want to make any regarding this blog. I’ve shown myself to be a poor correspondent and I don’t want to set myself up for failure. I do promise to try harder in this new year though.

Welcome, 2015.