Today makes 10 years since I finished my graduate school education. I remember how excited and optimistic I was for the future. I had gone straight from college into graduate school and even though my program was only a year long, it represented a major change. For the first time in my life I lived in a place where I didn’t know anyone and I couldn’t drive to my parents house on a whim. I had to adjust to living alone and creating my own community. The experience set the tone for my professional specialties of relationship therapy, religious trauma and career planning. I knew even then that I wanted to keep on learning and grow as a therapist. Ten years later I can say that I’m a lot more comfortable talking to clients and providing them with some value for their time and resources. I still enjoy helping people and finding solutions. Regardless of where my career goes next, I know I have a good foundation and a better sense of who I am—both personally and professionally.
It’s rare these days that I watch a movie in one sitting and this one was no exception. I found myself watching it over the period of a few days in between my other work obligations. I was a teenager when I read Redeeming Love the book and it was a lot to sit with. I remember thinking that the parental/adult themes warning was legitimate even though it was a sold as a Christian book. Watching the movie reminded me of the whole idea of purity culture and the lack of options many women experienced during the early pioneer/Gold Rush days. The movie was an adaptation of the book which was a more modern day adaptation of a bible story about a man who was told by God to marry a woman of the night. Of course in the movie the “street” was a brothel but you get the general idea. In theory the idea was that the girl was rescued from a life of abuse and given a home in the country with a loving husband. However, she didn’t want to be there and wasn’t interested in any type of romantic relationship. The story had a “happy” ending with her realizing that she loved him and that he had never moved on from losing her. All in all, I can see understand the intended story of redemption but it came across in the movies as extremely manipulative. There was a lack of choice that was appalling because the main character of the story didn’t want to be a wife. She had no interest in the man but he still “bought” her and took her away from all she had ever known. Change can happen but you can’t “save” someone who doesn’t want to be saved and has no interest in what you’re offering.
It’s officially been two years since I started working out consistently and I finally see a difference. It’s been a journey of ups and downs and while the journey continues, I’ve finally established a habit. Working out every day and lifting weights has made me so much more mindful of what I eat. I’ve started to read more labels and identify the foods that give me the best results. Prioritizing sleep and being more balanced has helped a lot. I’m looking forward to more success in the future. It’s almost time to do some shopping for a new wardrobe.
I feel like days like this deserve a post and some recognition. It’s been six weeks and some change into the new year and with it have come some new developments. I’m still working through my list of quarterly goals and there has been some movement. Staying consistent is always a challenge but I choose things that made sense and could also be broken into smaller pieces. I see a lot of opportunities but I want to make sure that it’s the right fit for me. The organized and disorganized chaos of life can make the big picture foggy. Here’s to a successful quarter.
I’ve set an intention (as I typically do) to write more frequently. While I see the upcoming new year as a start, I thought that it would be good to try to get a head start on creating the habit. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of reading and research on religious trauma which translated in to presenting at several conferences, writing an article, and creating a mini-course. Religion is one of those things that can bring value and meaning to life. It influences the way that people see themselves and see the world. However, it can also be used as a weapon and inflict emotional wounds that are difficult to move past from. I think that there’s a need for more conversations around how to successfully navigate and integrate the values from that you were taught with the knowledge gained through experiences. Oftentimes, those two things aren’t congruent and are perceived as clashing; but in reality, our past experiences shape who we become in one way or another.
It’s hard to believe that this year is almost over. There have been numerous ups and downs and I can truthfully say that it’s been one of the faster years I’ve experienced. I’ve become more comfortable with setting my own hours but also realized that there’s a lot of room for improvement when it comes to work life balance. This year my birthday came up so much quick than I anticipated and while I did reflect a bit on what I wanted to do and what I accomplished this year. I will say that fitness and health have played a major role in my daily life in a way that I never expected. Going to the gym every day, watching what I eat, going to the sauna and trying to better manage stress has made a difference. People talk about the importance of consistency but it’s different when you see the results in your own life after making a choice and then accompanying it with an effort. Being able to tolerate over 30 minutes of the Stairmaster when previously I was dying at the 10 minute mark has been a source of motivation and a reminder that I can do hard things. Finishing a doctoral program that took 6 years to complete is not the same as obtaining and maintaining a 60+ lb weight loss. They both require discipline but a different type. All that to say, this year has been tough, it’s been good, it’s been sad, it’s been soul-sucking but it’s been worth it. I’m looking forward to bigger and better things and also scheduling a few more days to sleep in.
It’s been crazy how fast the year has gone and like many, I’ve realized that it hasn’t gone completely according to plan. My international trips have once again been curtailed but I’ve seen more of the countryside and traveled to some of the local spots near me. I’ve confirmed I officially like sushi and I now low key regret spending 28 years being a vegetarian. However, it gave me a great foundation for healthy eating and I’m glad for that. This year I’ve also developed more discipline in taking care of myself and taking both fitness and business seriously. It’s been eye opening to discover new ways of thinking and to hear the perspectives of others. There’s so much going on in the world today that seems incredibly polarizing and I’ve seen how fragile human relationships can be when there is seemingly a conflict of values. Time flies when you’re having fun, but also when you’re just working a lot.
As always, my goal for the new year is to write more consistently than I have in the past. Thankfully I got an early start last year as I got the opportunity to write some articles on mental health. However, as I’ve continued to learn and work in the field I’m seeing the value of placing my thoughts on paper or rather typing it out on my phone. I’ve bought more books, focused on growing my private practice and taken a more intentional approach on learning more about relationships. Last year took everyone by surprise and like most, I found myself having to make some significant adjustments. However, one small mercy was that I was already working from home to a large extent so it wasn’t as difficult to transition. This year I want to invest in myself and in my relationships and take the time to enjoy the present. I want to be more consistent in self care and give myself the same grace that I give others.
After years of waiting and hoping I finally got into a relationship with long term potential about a year ago and things are going well. The thing that has been surprising is how different my expectations were from reality. I work with black women who have educational and financial standards for their future boyfriend or spouse and honestly I used to be one of them. No one wants to be in a relationship and do worse financially then they were before. However, in the past year I’ve learned more about some of the intangibles that mean more than what a guy makes or his level of education. Women can easily get caught up in what a man does instead of evaluating who he is. One thing is significantly less obvious than the other. Dating a project isn’t about trying to rehabilitate a man but it’s not the same as supporting a man who has a clear path and plan for the future. Many times the past is a great indicator of the future. Instead of asking about a five year plan, it’s better to ask a man about a five year plan he’s has in the past and what year he’s in presently. It’s easy have aspirations but it’s much hard to put in the work to manifest them. If a man is serious his actions will show it. Giving you a girlfriend label doesn’t indicate he’s serious. Is he applying for jobs to move closer to you? Has he given you his timeline for moving in together? Is he introducing you to his circle of friends? These are all indications that there’s a good chance he’s sees a future with you. Women are quick to complain that a man has wasted their time but in reality they have wasted their own time because they weren’t being held hostage and they got committed too soon without verifying that the other person wanted the same thing. Taking inventory means that you understand where you are in your life and you intentionally choose to make decisions that align with your long term goals.