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).
Last week I had the opportunity to do one of my favorite leisure activities–cruising. It was pretty good and I had the chance to chill out for a bit. I even had the opportunity to pick up a few continuing education units. The only downside was that I was on the clock so I was teaching six classes and responding to emails while on “vacation.” The food wasn’t great either but there really isn’t a substitute for being on the ocean. It’s so calming to look at. I’m looking forward to my next getaway.
Lately I’ve been spreading myself a bit thin. It hasn’t happened on purpose but my calendar has become crowded with various obligations. The rest of the month is filling up fast and my “do nothing” days are quickly disappearing. I’m mentally preparing to temporarily relocate once again and I’m already looking forward to August where I’ll deliberately chill out for a bit. The intricacies of juggling 5 jobs present a unique challenge. But I’m getting the opportunity to do some new things and also keep my clinical skills up to date so I’m glad about that. I’m learning the importance of prioritizing and also sleeping enough hours per night. I will be making more strides towards finding a much better balance. Maybe more cruises are in my future.
Recently I started venturing back into the world of night shift life and it has been interesting. While I am typically a night owl I also like the independence of going to bed at a decent hour or whenever I like. But this new go-around of night shift has been eye-opening. It’s been about 4 yeas since I worked nights consistently and I was harshly reminded of the brain fog that comes along with being sleep deprived. But the upside is that I get to wear relatively comfy clothes and attempt to navigate various crisis’ in an environment with limited resources. It’s a great fit for someone who hates to be bored and likes a lot of variety. I have to say though that I am missing sleeping at night more than I thought I would. As much as I like the hustle and bustle of a fast paced job, a quiet night at home is becoming more of my style. However, variety is the spice of life and it feels nice to sharpen some skills that have dulled.
I have to say that this previous week has been pretty stressful as it’s been a huge change in the daily routine that I have gotten used to. I’m normally someone who can adapt quickly but the absence of afternoon naps was really difficult. I found it hard to catch up on sleep and as a result I did not feel rested. I encountered some difficult news and also had an realization that was difficult to process. Disappointment is a part of life and sometimes it just can’t be anticipated. Things change unexpectedly without warning and we have to roll with the punches. I’m finding that experiencing multiple disappointments does not make each one any easier to handle. There is always the process of finding a way to make peace with the new normal or the new circumstance. You have results or an ending that you did not anticipate and you have to create a different plan because things have changed. It’s rough because in some ways you have to mourn the ending that you wanted but never received while recognizing the need to change priorities and focus. I think that there’s also a certain level of annoyance and frustration that accompanies disappointment because of the sheer inconvenience of having to make an unplanned adjustment. However, it’s one of those things that are unavoidable. How we respond to these disappointments says a lot about our resiliency and ability to adapt. But it’s a tough place to be in.
I ran across an article recently and it described many of my thoughts and feelings as I reflect on my life and the past few years specifically. Life can be challenging for empaths and feeling your own emotions plus the emotions of others can be taxing and difficult. On the professional front it took me years to be able to sleep without staying up and worrying about the problems that my clients had. There aren’t many things I read where I find myself agreeing with almost everything the author states and I have to admit that this author shared a fear that I have as well. And maybe fear is the wrong word because it’s not a perception and there is a good chance that it might happen. You can read the article here. There’s a huge opportunity for growth when we are willing to be honest with ourselves and face our fears head on despite not always feeling adequate to do so. It’s not a quick thing but I think that the results are worth the self-work and intentionality that are required.
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.