Courage

“Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.”

I find this quote very inspiring. How many times have you gone out of your comfort zone and tried something new?  I can say over the past few years I have exceeded my comfort zone by what feels a million miles and with that, I have been scared to death.

When I entered grad school I had an idea of what I might want to do, be an academic advisor for a local college and maybe, eventually, teach in a community college.  I had tried to get a job being an academic advisor for years.  Applied at all the local colleges and community colleges and even went on an interview.  It felt like that was where I was supposed to be, but it was not happening.  So why not go to grad school and have better credentials where I would hopefully be offered a job.  Sounded like a good plan or at least I thought.

For me my comfort zone was/is definitely school.  I have been in it on and off since 1990 which doing all the math, that’s a lot years!  So my quest began, mental health counseling and then I will be an academic advisor.

Let’s just start by saying that every class was out of my comfort zone.  Having never worked in the field before I went off to school, I now found myself surrounded by people who were working in the field and working on getting a promotion with more education and a better role within their company.  I was so scared!  But I plugged onward.

When it came time for internship (one year working for free), I found myself working in substance abuse treatment, running groups, individual sessions and just in a field I did not imagine when I started.  Then came the job offer.  Is this what I want to do?  Did I want to continue to work in this field?  I was so out of my comfort zone but I took it.  I was off on my new career, which has also recently included being a special guest instructor for my grad school (somewhat close to the path I planned but still not an academic advisor.)

So this is where you find me now.  Working way out of my comfort zone on a daily basis, hoping I can contribute to someone’s life and make it just a little bit better.  I have gotten use to being scared, if that is even possible.  I am hoping this is courage or it could be just craziness.

To me courage has been and will forever be doing what I am afraid to do, facing things head on with a little flutter in my stomach asking, “Seriously!  Seriously!!  You want me to do what!”

Vacation

I know, I know, I slacked off a day and didn’t post yesterday but here is why, I am headed out on vacation.  I am sure you understand the amount of work that needs to get done before you head out on vacation, well multiply that by 1000 when you are in residential care and you usually see your clients a lot.  Plus add in that I am a perfectionist and I don’t want to leave any client feeling like they are being ignored.  So then what do you get, me, a person who put in 30 hours in 3 days to make sure no one was left hanging and then a completely warn out person who will be so happy to be on vacation.  So happy in fact picture me quoting William Wallace running to my car in a parking lot yelling, “FFFrrrreeeeeeeeddddooommmmmm!!!”  Okay I didn’ t really do that but I really wanted to!

So you may be asking, if you are on vacation, why are you posting?   Well technically I leave in the morning with my daughter to head to our family lake house where my other half is and we will await the arrival of all our other girls for some family time.  So I post….

I found this quote (if you have not already figured out, I love quotes and find them very challenging):

“If you’re on vacation, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to really be on vacation.”

Which got me to thinking, will I relax and really be on vacation?  I want to be, I need to be, but how do you do that?  Well here is what I am planning on doing.  I am taking some books (okay more like my nook with books loaded on it).  I am thinking my running shoes will be a good idea too because even though I am on vacation, I want to eat like I am on vacation which means I will need to exercise!  I am going to take my laptop so I can continue to write some blogs that I will post when I get home because we don’t have  internet on our island and I am enjoying writing, kind of like the journaling I have my clients do!   And I am taking a willingness and openness to BE, and I mean just BE!  I know you are probably thinking that that’s kind of weird.  But if we have ever met you know that I need to stay busy.  There is no rest for the weary!  But I realize that I need to slow down.  I have spent many years doing, doing, and doing and I am beginning to realize that even though it has helped me get to where I am, I need to learn to enjoy just being.  Our last daughter is in her senior year (insert lots of tears here!) and soon it will just be Dave and I at home.  I want to enjoy this year!  I know it will be filled with lots of tears because I am that type of emotional mom, just ask my kid!  I want to enjoy every moment and for me it needs to really begin on this vacation.

I reflect on the quote, we do owe it to ourselves and our family.  So I am going to give it a try.  I am going to BE on Vacation staying present and aware which is something I try on a daily basis but tend to get lost in the craziness.  So maybe this vacation is more than just a vacation.  Maybe it is a restart on being present.  There is my therapy challenge for you: BE Present.  Be aware of each moment and savor it because it won’t come back around again……..Now I am off to pack!  😉

Rainbows

I was on my home today from work, yes I know it is Sunday but residential care never leaves so I work Sundays.  Well anyway back to the story… I was on my home from work and it was raining pretty hard and the sun was shining.  Kind of a weird experience but the good part that comes with all that is that the chance of seeing a rainbow is pretty good.  As I looked to my right, out my car window, there was a rainbow.  Not just one but a double rainbow.  I always enjoy seeing rainbows.   I know the science behind how their created (not real good but it has to do with prisms) anyway, I know that it is not an unusual sight if you have all the right elements in place.  Sun and Rain!  (Double rainbow seen here is not the one from my car but another one seen this summer.  Photo credit goes to my daughter!)

So you are probably asking, why are you sharing this story?  Well it’s because it got me to thinking, afterall that is what I do for a living, what’s at the end of that rainbow, have I ever been at the end of a rainbow, how does it feel to be at the end and how does this relate to me/us in everyday life?

Well in the Christian faith the rainbow has special significance.  It represents God’s faithfulness.  To me this promise of God’s faithfulness brings me through a lot of diversity and reminds me to have faith in myself.

Looking at a rainbow in another way I began think of the hard times I have overcome, the rain I have been drenched in yet emerged a better person.  I think of that feeling of helplessness when I thought I would never see the light.  And then just when I thought I could take no more a ray of light shines through, a feeling of hope comes in.  I begin to see colors or see things in a different way.  My thoughts begin to brighten.  Once I emerge from the storms, I look back and see the beauty, see the growth and transition that took place within and I have faith in my own strength and this rainbow symbolizes all of that to me.

To answer my above questions: Yes I feel like I have been at the end of the rainbow, I found strength at the end, it feels awesome to be there, and it relates because it’s all about awarenss and looking at things in a different way.

What are your rainbow experiences?

Some time for the running part

So I chatted a lot about the therapy side but let’s talk a little about the running…

I am currently thinking/comptemplating/disagreeing with myself about training for a marathon.  I started running a few years ago like I said earlier in my first post.  I was happy to make it the 5K distance that I was training for.  Now my casual runs are at least 5K’s.  This is not to brag it’s just that I need to start thinking about do I really want to run a marathon because not only does it scare me but I have one in mind and I need to start training, seriously training.  My biggest problem is that I don’t just want to run, I want to compete.  I think we can all agree, I have a problem!  But I think it comes from the fact that I am an overachiever (self-admitted) and that I want to be successful at everything (mental note: being successful at everything is not possible) yet I still try.  So here comes my moment to brag…please let me because I only ever do this on facebook and it is usually about my family and not about me… so here goes:

In my first ever 5K race, I came in second (no time because it was not officially timed but I think it was around 28 mins)

My first ever 10K race, I finished in 52:57, 42nd out of 175 in age group, and 73rd out of 314 women who ran.  Pretty good results!  I was/am proud.

Two weeks later ran a 5K, I came in third with a time of 23:51.

In April 2012 the Oklahoma City Half-Marathon, I finished in 1:58:59, 60th out of 799 in my age group, and 366 out of 4994 women who ran.

Latest run… 4miler… came in 3rd out of 80 in age group and 78 out of 501 who ran the race, finished in 30:03

As you can see, I don’t want to win (okay maybe I do but that’s crazy talk) but I do want to train and compete.

Now back to the dilemma, to run in a full marathon?  I think I can… I think I want to… I am crazy!  Shall we add in a little therapy here… Why I run?  To escape, well not really because I found that as soon as I step off that treadmill or arrive back home after running, all the issues are still there.  To wrap my head around my day, well most of the time but sometimes things can not be explained and unfortunately these issues can also get in my head and create the worst run, EVER!  To stay in shape, most definitely!   To push myself, most definitely! To prove that I can do it and it is a great release, most definitely!  So we have established that I am crazy and like to push myself.  Nothing says therapy like getting out of your comfort zone and changing!

So as of right now, I still don’t have an answer, but I continue to train.  I continue to put sprints in my runs to get faster which I am hoping will prove itself in my upcoming 10K because quite frankly, these sprints are killing me!  I am hoping to better my 10K time since it will be the same race, obviously a year later, but we will cross that bridge next month.  Now my training schedule or what it was this week because I am trying to regain focus:

Mon: 4 mile run – 32:51

Tues: weights, core exercises, and weighted lunges (oh how I hate lunges!)

Wed: Rest – could barely walk because of the lunges!  Did I tell you how much I hate them!

Thurs: 3 mile run – 25.21  Followed by some planks and lots of stretching.

Fri: 5 mile run – 42:39  Followed also by some planks and lots and lots of stretching

Hopefully Sat: short run about 3-5 miles and some weight training

Sun: Rest!

Not a bad week so far and happy to report that I am winning over the dreaded weighted lunges of tuesday and I am able to walk a little better!

On a side note… I am still experimenting with this blog but I am thinking some pictures and different format might make it more interesting, so stay tuned for some changes and I hope you had an awesome day!

Faith and Powerlessness

I spend my days working with Clients in a 12 step program.  If you have never taken a moment to read the 12 steps here is your chance:

The 12 Steps

  • Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  • Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  • Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
  • Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  • Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  • Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
  • Step 7: Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
  • Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
  • Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  • Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
  • Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this

Wouldn’t we have a better world if we all lived by the 12 steps!

I talk about this because in my work we generally focus on step 1: Powerlessness.  Have you have taken a moment and thought about that?  I have (surprise, surprise!).  But I truly have thought about this in the past 5 months.    We were faced with unemployment just as I was getting ready to graduate and start a career.  Notice I said start, not, I had already begun.  I became powerless over my life overnight.  Needed to take a job, which I currently still have, I needed to take care of my family but I was feeling out of control.  Here is where the Faith part comes in…

I grew up in the Midwest (bible belt) and I was raised in the church, which is not a bad thing, in fact it made me who I am today.  So I turned to my faith during this difficult time, not specific religious belief but faith in my higher power who for me is God.  Through my work, I see miracles happen everyday.  We even say to the clients, “Don’t leave before the miracle happens”.  This means from the small things like “Don’t worry your day will get better to guess what we found placement for you and you leave in an hour.”  To me these are miracles.  But when I am in need of a miracle, a new job for my other half and for my world to no longer be chaotic I tend to try to take my will back.  Try to control everything around me (I guess that could be the Taurus in me too).  I have to remember I am powerless over my world.  Only my Higher Power has that  understanding of why things happen and He knows I will learn from them.  But man, why does it have to take so long!

The good news… My other half started a job yesterday and things will get better financially and hopefully a little easier for me because I will not have to try and take more overtime just to pay the bills.  But I was wondering today when I had a very long drive taking my daughter to dance camp, what did I learn through this process?  Well here is what I learned… I spent a lot of time working on myself and my faith and trusting in the future that has already been mapped out for me but has not been revealed.  I learned to start my day with a devotional and focus on what I can give the world today, not tomorrow and not what I did yesterday, but today!  Live in the present!  Only focus on the moment right now and what is before me because as much as we try we can’t change what is going to happen in 5 mins because we have no idea.  It is the choice we make right now that matters.

I also started January 1 with a gratitude journal.  Even though the big event in our life did not happen until February, I had already challenged myself to take a moment each morning and be thankful for what I already had been given.  This is especially humbling when you work with people who only have the clothes on their backs and no place to go.  I noticed that when we are challenged by events in our lives it takes more to come up with the things we are grateful for, so this was a challenge but now 8 months in I still come up with new things each day (to be honest in the winter I was grateful  for that electric start on my car! especially in the snow!) and I start my day that way.

So why say all this and really do I have to be so wordy!  The answer is yes to the wordy part!!  But why do I feel like I have to say all this, because once we admit that we are powerless and we begin to have faith and trust, the load we carry gets a lot lighter.  It becomes easier to get through the day.  I look back now and realize all the things we as a family and me as the sole provider made it through.  I am stronger and have more faith in myself that I could do it again if called upon (where believe me in the beginning there were lots of tears and doubt).  I also have a stronger faith in my Higher Power because for me this verse kept popping up:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

So my therapy for you is… through hard times or even just everyday, be grateful for what you have already been given and trust in yourself.  You already possess the skills to survive you just need some faith because we truly are powerless over the future.  Be present in every moment!

And now playing…….

I once thought… what a great idea start a blog.  You talk about all of the wonderful insight you have learned over the years as well as how running has helped you coped (I always talk to myself in the third person).  But then when I sit down to start this thing they call a blog, I freeze.  I think, what the heck are you thinking.  Helping Clients face to face is one thing but trying to share insight through a computer screen is something else.

So I’m gonna give it a try.

Maybe I should take notes during my day to chat about the crazy things that happen in residential care and how I run away, far far away at night when I get home, to relieve the stress of the day.  Oh crap taking notes to write a blog sounds like a lot of work.  Maybe I will bullet point my thoughts since full note taking is not an option because imagine working in an office with at least 8 people and serving the needs to 32 residents.  As you can imagine it is crazy.

Okay, I am getting an idea of how this is gonna go already….. just rambling and hopefully catching myself so I don’t bore anyone who decides to read this.

Anyway, I am a new mental health graduate (as of May 17, 2012 – Yeah Me!) and that does not mean I earned a degree in craziness but sometimes it feels like it.  It basically means I like to help people fix their problems or at least tap into their inner strength so they realize they already have everything they need to survive.  Currently I work in the field of substance abuse treatment and co-occurring disorders like bipolar and alcohol addiction (insert visual of Sandra Bullock in 28 days except my company is funded by the department of public health so our facilities are not so posh).  But everyday I grow with my Clients.  I learn from them and their honesty and they learn from me coping skills, empathy, and how to trust and I am sure a lot more stuff too.

So why the running part of the title?  I started running midway through my schooling.  I have always liked to stay in shape but this was a new adventure for me.  I started training for a 5K and was surprised at how stress relieving it was to run.  Then I decided, “Hey self, what about a 10K?”  Thinking what the heck I jumped in.  Ran my first 10K and became hooked.  Right before I turned the big 4-0, I ran a half-marathon.  This was an awesome experience.  I cried at the end and everyone was asking if I was okay and all I could say was, “I just ran that!”  It was one of the best experiences of my life mainly because I set a goal and accomplished it.  Half marathon completed in under 2 hours.  So now I am really hooked.  I want to race/run and I want to do it faster.  I want to compete and not just complete.  But really in the end what I want is the feeling of accomplishment which I think that is what we all want.  To feel like we have accomplished something.

So now that this has run on and on (kinda like what I do on a daily basis) here are my hopes for this blog….I want to use this to help.  I want to be a demonstration of what it takes to survive, how I cope, how to face events head on, and any other therapist type things where we learn from each other.  I also want to motivate.  I spend my days motivating my clients with positive words and sometimes I lose sight of those positive thoughts for myself.  I am hoping by blogging I can learn, be motivated and help.

So here goes…..

I look forward to hearing from anyone and love to hear your stories too.

Get ready, get set, GO!!!

Shanna (like banana)