On being a non-morning person…

I am determined to not let the brilliance of a 3 day weekend, every week, be overshadowed by the ridiculously early morning and commute to work the other 4 days. As I rise, before the sun, I am comforted by the fact that rest of the city is right along with me…blurry eyed, stumbling to put dress socks on and comb our hair into a reasonably professional look, and waiting (im)patiently at the nearest drive-through coffee stand to get caffeine coursing through our veins. I am NOT a morning person, that is, I do not actually like to get up in the mornings (though my body hasn’t let me sleep past 7:30 for at least 3 months). I wake up at 6 am and am out the door by 7 to make it to the college on time.

While I hate getting up, I do actually find that once I am awake and tasked with things to do, I am very productive. In one of my first jobs, I used to come in early, work until about 2 and THEN take a lunch, because after I’ve eaten, the hours tick by s…l….oooooo….w…..l….y. Like stabbing-myself-in-my-eyes slow. In fact, this tendency to want to escape the afternoon slowness had me “yelled at” on day 5 of my job as I was caught “sneaking out” early. I wasn’t sneaking out, I had arrived 30 minutes early and had worked through lunch, but didn’t have permission (didn’t ask, didn’t think I needed to, the last 3 jobs haven’t required that for flex time), which left me almost in tears…but I handled it professionally and have moved on from there.

One of the hardest parts of mornings, though, is leaving sweet Potamus and Boof in bed slumbering, while I creep about eating my peanut butter toast and digging through a dark closet for something reasonable to wear. They look so sweet together, and while I now these days are limited, as Boof will hopefully get a job soon, it does make me twinge ever-so-slightly with jealousy of the thought of them sleeping in indefinitely and lounging about the house. (In reality, though, Potamus is up by 7 and doesn’t nap until mid-day and Boof has to hold him for 3 hours because he won’t ‘go down’ for a nap, and both are covered in Cheerios and yogurt and all the thing that make less jealous of the whole morning arrangement).

My morning class is overwhelmingly the best, engaged and participatory with amazing insight. My afternoon class, when the caffeine and enthusiasm is wearing off, is…less-so. It is smaller, more masculine, and I’m having a difficult time deciding if I should compare them to the morning class or roll with what they give me and go from there. They just seem so…apathetic, and doing a song & dance to convince them to discuss things isn’t really my style. I’m looking at it as a new challenge.

Four Years Ago? 11 Years ago?

I keep hearing repub-types saying things like “where were you four years ago?” in an assumptive attempt to sway votes toward the Ryan/Romney camp. But it got me thinking, reminiscing, on where I actually WAS four years ago…where I am today…and the implications of my answer might not make those repub-types as happy if it means I’m going to vote for this trend to stay the same.

Now don’t get me wrong, as a privileged white woman of middle class origins, I know that many many people in America have not been as fortunate as me in the last four years. But here is where I was four years ago:

September 2008
Boof and IĀ  are three months away from our wedding date. I am taking 10 graduate credits, in full last-minute-wedding-planning mode, and working part-time as a substitue teacher. I lived in a little one bedroom apartment that had been infested with tiny little flies after the basement/crawl-space that had been flooded when a sewage holding tank backed up and overflowed.

In the four years since, I have gotten married, lived in a sweet 2 bedroom apartment (with no fly infestation), gotten a dog, received my Masters of Arts in Education, Community Counseling with a 4.0 GPA and honors, gotten pregnant, bought a house for a good price and in a good neighborhood, had a healthy/happy baby, become a licensed counselor, and had three progressively better paying jobs in my field of interest.

Whoa, that’s a huge list of amazing things that have happened in the past 4 years! And if that’s because Obama has been president, well, then I can’t really complain about his leadership.

And with this being the anniversary of September 11, 2001 it got me thinking. Where were YOU four years ago? But also…where were you ELEVEN years ago? It’s amazing for me to look back on such a tragic day and see how beautiful my life has become.

 

HOLY COW!

I am almost too excited to write.

Almost.

Today I interviewed for my dream job…32 hours a week, 2 days teaching, 2 days counseling/advising, on a college campus with at-risk youth (high school dropouts). My interview was at 11am.

They called me at 3:00 to offer me the position.

Holy Shit. My life is going to go from crazy unstructured crisis counseling with fitting in nursing sessions in between suicidal kids to 4 days away from Potamus for 10 hours (8 hour days plus about a 2 hour commute). BUT the benefit is 3 day weekends, only working 10 months a year (getting winter break, spring break and summer break off) so that I actually get time to enjoy my little guy without worrying that I would get some crisis call.

Plus, did I mention it was my dream job?

Literally.

On maternity leave I remember an anxious night where I went out and journalled what I wanted to do with my life. The list read:

20-30ish hours.
Structured but flexible.
Counseling/Teaching combination.
College.
By October 2012.

Seriously, I start September 17th.

Hi Universe, I owe you a big thank you.

Burnout

There’s a clinical term for the rage I fee: secondary trauma…vicarious trauma…burnout. Try to explain that rage, funneled into one angry outburst of angry “stop screaming!” at my teething/growing/over-stimulated baby tonight.

Not my finest mother-moment.

Sure there are many contributing factors to this rage: Boof being out of work due to his own dumbass mistakes and taking this intensive 10 week class while also working for the Mariners when they are at home (currently there tonight, yes, part of my frustration), and a family caregiver who loves Potamus dearly, but hasn’t quite gotten into a very good rythym of watching him due to the up-and-down nature of my job. She’s gotten too comfortable, scheduling hair appointments one day, nail appointments another, and while I’ve been okay for the most part, I am actually getting paid a salary, even if my work is slow, things come up and Potamus needs to be minded, and I can’t be the village raising my child. And as my clients get better, I seem to be getting worse, but then I beat myself up about wanting a new job.

Today I consulted with a dear friend, former colleague, and former classmate. She made me laugh when she said, “oh, you aren’t supposed to be affected by seeing suicidal kids everyday? by seeing the worst of the worst situations?” I do see the seedy underbelly of mental health and family life. I impart wisdom and coping skills and education to my clients, and am losing just a little bit of myself in each of these exchanges. I am havingĀ  a hard time stopping the slow leakage and its effecting me deeply.

The look on Potamus’ face when I yelled at him, was heartbreaking. While this isn’t my first time, when he was only a few weeks old, he reacted out of what seemed to be simply instinct. Tonight there was awareness. There was this flitting look on his face that seemed to say (before he broke out in even more tears) “but this is my mom who is yelling, why? why?”

After 30 more minutes of nursing/rocking/stroking of sweet baby hair, he was finally asleep. Will he wake up with forgiveness? Will I?

Focus, Intention, Purpose

ImageThe last few weeks at work have been hard. I wonder if they’ve FELT harder than they actually have been, though, since I tend to project anxiety and fear and frustration onto events and then focus on them intently. It’s like a meditation, an object of focus, and that tends to be the fear/anxiety/frustration spot that my mind rests on, rather than on the wide open space between all of the crises that arise. I think that’s the largest challenge in my line of work…navigating the space between the fires I have to put out.

So, this week I’ve been trying to focus on the large gaps of amazing time I get to spend with Potamus, as this summer IS slower than the busy season. I am also trying to focus on setting an intention for the future, but not trying to propel my anxious self too far ahead. It’s like that biblical verse about only fretting about today because tomorrow will take care of itself. I tend to try and project my current, very anxious preoccupied self, into the future, and into the busy season and think “oh my god, I can’t handle this. I can’t handle workin 16 hour days and shuffling my baby around between places.” But truthfully, that ISN’T happening (yet), as I am currently at home watching The Olympics with Potamus snoozing peacefully in our bed. It’s his 2nd nap of the day and it’s not even 1pm. Not stressfull. No crisis here, and with only 1 client on my caseload (and they are currently in the inpatient unit) I don’t have a whole lot to do.

So I’ve tried to open my heart, set an intention toward abundance and structure in the job department..or in the life department actually. The last time I did this, when I was in a session with Courtney, I ended up having the craziest experience afterward: I got a new job, found out I was pregnant and bought a new house…all within a few months. I was at a place where I was open to change, to abundance, to newness and fullness, but lately I’ve felt small and constricted, like the Grinch who’s heart was too small. My heart feels like a raisin that’s additionally dried out and shrivelly because it was kicked under the couch and has been relaxing next to lint for the past 7 weeks.

I’ve noticed a subtle shift inside me because of this new focus. I’ve actually found several jobs online that I think I would love AND fit my criteria of part-time or structure. Hmm, perhaps my whole world doesn’t hinge on one perfect position. Perhaps, as Anne Lamott says, I can just hop from stepping stone spotlight to the next. Even simply seeing different options for work gives me hope.

Juggling Motherhood, Career and Personal Life

As sweet as it was to get Mother’s Day cards this year, I still don’t consider myself a mother…yet. So while I am in the process of becoming a mother, as little “chip-monk” grows (this is what Boof is now calling baby), I am still finding that it is difficult to juggle the balance between almost-motherhood, my career and having a personal life.

It doesn’t help that I started a new job 1 second after I learned about the pregnancy, or that the job is as a crisis-counselor. Granted, this stress is cognitively better than the stress that I was enduring at my last job, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is an easy process for me. And I wonder…at this point I am only balancing the theoretical idea of motherhood, and my career, and life…what will it be like when I am having to do it for real?