Today is the extra day in the year that only happens once every four years. I remember being amazed as a kid that there were people who didn’t have birthdays every year because they were born on a leap year. I think back to the last February 29th in 2016 and I was totally in a different space. I had just started a cubicle job and was wondering how long I would be able to make it because I knew after only three weeks on the job that it wasn’t a good fit for me. But I was excited to finally have a stable job and the opportunity to see what corporate life was like. I was reminded today of how disconnected I’ve become from some of the aspects of my life that previously held such great importance. Since then I’ve finished school, held several jobs, relocated multiple times, and got into a relationship. It’s been quite an eventful four years and I’m hopeful to what the next Leap Year will bring.
Grief is one of those things that can be complicated. While I’ve never sought formal training in being a grief coach or a grief therapist, it’s something that I’ve experienced in my years of practice. I’ve worked in hospice settings and in many hospitals where anticipatory grieving and grieving after a loved one has passed happened frequently. But there’s a significant level of less understanding for people who have lost a pet. Pet (especially dogs) are extensions of our families. My dog Sam was with me from high school all the way up until I finished my doctorate. He was a companion, pain in the butt, loyal friend, and a good listener. He didn’t have any safety awareness and tended to run up to cars instead of away. While he was brave in biting bigger dogs, his 13lb body shook from fear when there was a thunderstorm close by. He hated to have his paws touched but loved to find an empty lap to jump on and sleep. Overall, he was fairly mellow and didn’t have the explosive constant energy that was indicative of his breed. He usually slept through the night but on some occasions he wanted to go out every hour on the hour. Even after a year of him being gone I still miss him but I appreciate all the memories that I have of him. If there’s a doggie heaven I hope we’ll meet again.
This past decade and this past year has definitely been one of changes. I started out the decade as a junior in college. I was recovering from a major heartbreak with someone who I thought that I had a future with. I was so excited to finally have someone in my life and it ended quite abruptly. I focused on school and had a great senior year that also had some lows with the deaths of several of my classmates. I was so excited to be at the end of my college journey. While it was a great one, I knew that my education had to continue and as I spoke to my family and friends at my graduation dinner I remember telling them that one year later I would be finishing graduate school and it happened. I moved across the country to a place where I did not know a soul. It was just me and my dog. I met some great people and had a lot of my beliefs challenged for the first time. Graduate school finished and the job search started. It was a really rough time. I applied for hundreds of jobs and while I found a few, they weren’t exactly what I was looking for. I decided that I was bored after graduate school so I made the somewhat impulsive decision to start a doctorate while I was stuck in Colorado getting hours for my professional license. So the doctorate started and I kept working. I quit several jobs that just weren’t a good fit for me and I eventually started working a night shift job. While the money was great, I quickly realized that the no sleep life was not the life for me. However, due to a series of unplanned events I found myself resigning rather quickly and relocating back across the country where I found myself in limbo as I tried to find a new job, settle into a new apartment and remain independent. But I persisted and got a cubicle job that paid the bills for a while. I decided that I wanted to make traveling a priority and I wanted to find a job that allowed me to do both while still using my degree. I found the dream job and quit my cubicle job the same day and relocated from Georgia to California within a week. After a few years on the road and moving several places I realized that it was time to settle down. The beginning of this year found me back in my home state with a resolution to stick close to home for a while. After traveling to Italy and Portugal I decided that I wasn’t quite done with being on the road so I decided to spend the summer on the East Coast. I decided during the summer that I wanted to settle outside of my home state and due to a series of fortunate events I moved across the country again and got a great boyfriend along the way. While I don’t know what this next year will bring, I’m excited for the opportunity to focus on personal development and fulfill some of my personal goals in this next decade.
I recently wrapped up my summer job and I must admit that it has been quite an eye opening experience. I’ll have to post a bit more about that later. Anyway, here are a few pictures from the last part of my time away from home.
Lately I’ve been on a hiatus from traveling and instead I’ve been making an effort to explore more around me in the DC area.
As I’ve mentioned before, May is one of those months that makes me really nostalgic. I’ve had the opportunity to take some great trips this month and see some familiar (and new) places. I was reminded today of the fact that I graduated from college exactly 8 years ago today. I remember being ready for the next part of my life but also being terrified of what the future would hold. School was familiar to me and it had become comfortable. I had spent so much time in the library and I knew a good portion of my fellow students so it felt like a home away from home. For most of my senior year I put the finishing touches on my plan to relocate across the country to Colorado and graduating from college meant that the move was about to happen. I had taken the time to collect some medals that I had received throughout my college experience so I had the opportunity to wear them all at graduation and hear the medals clank together as I walked. It was an extremely satisfying feeling. It was great to experience the festivities of the weekend and to reflect back on the years I spent on campus. I remember feeling so happy to finally be done with that chapter of my life. I knew that my goal was to be a therapist and that I also wanted to complete a doctorate. Eight years later I have done both. Here’s to eight more years of progress (or something like that).
One thing that I enjoy doing (at least most of the time) is working with couples. It’s a different dynamic than individual counseling and there are a lot of moving pieces. I was reflecting on how long I have been doing therapy and I realized that it’s been almost 8 years since I’ve started. Over the years I have started to notice patterns and the process has become more intuitive as opposed to theory. I like encouraging couples to build a new relationship and helping them to negotiate new rules and guidelines. They have the opportunity to ask questions and to be intentional about building something that provides each partner with a sense of security. It’s rarely straightforward but there’s nothing like witnessing an “aha” moment when things start to come together. It’s stressful to hold all the emotions in one place but I have learned that it is important to compartmentalize and to take breaks when needed. Many times couples get together without truly knowing what role they want the relationship to play in their individual lives. It’s up to each couples to establish a new normal and to find something that works for each partner.