Archive for the ‘Therapy’ Category

This Long, Strange Journey

July 12, 2022

Is almost at a close.

Guess what?

I have not graduated.

Surprised?

Me too.

I have been excitedly waiting for the diploma in the mail.

Thinking, in the back of my head, when is it a good time to reach out to my university and ask, “hey, when’s that paper gonna drop?”

Mindful of the continuing weirdness that is the pandemic.

Oh.

Yeah.

Hey.

I got COVID.

CONGRATULATIONS!

What a weird ass virus this is.

First, thank fucking God I was vaccinated and boosted.

It was not a fun time.

And it was kind of fun at the same time.

At least the first couple of days.

It started with some ennui, which honestly I thought, oh, this is classic countertransference, exhaustion whilst working with a narcissist.

Look it up, I’m not kidding.

But in hind sight, I think that’s when things were starting to cook.

My brain, that is.

Later that night, last Thursday, my voice was scratchy, but I chalked that up to screaming in my kitchen.

Like, at the top of my lungs, hurt my throat, scare my cats, kind of screaming.

Why?

Well, like I opened with, I haven’t actually graduated.

Let me back pedal a moment here.

Cue June 22nd.

I am in session with a client on video, wrapping up my morning sessions and thinking about a walk and a lunch break, when my dissertation budding sends me a photo of himself holding his PUBLISHED DISSERTATION.

WTF?

I mean, seriously, I felt like I was in a nasty Twilight Zone episode.

My colleague had defended his dissertation in March, I defended last year, mid-October.

I knew that it was too late in the semester to graduate with the fall cohort and that was fine, Spring is a fine time to walk, if you can call the wierdo hybrid video and reception my school had a graduation.

I did it anyway.

I applied to graduate, turned in all my forms, did all my things, or so I thought.

Yeah.

Ha.

It turns out that there was a missing piece.

The writing center, had not received my dissertation.

I did not know this.

I had somehow, don’t get me started on that, I know exactly how I slipped through the cracks, cue a very emotional conversation I had with the Provost this past Friday, yeah, that’s right, when I was on day two of COVID, but hadn’t tested positive yet (albeit enjoying the mildly delightful low grade fever I was running and doing online shopping for Burning Man. Yes! I am going, but that is another blog), my dissertation, had somehow not gotten turned in.

In essence, the last thing that needed to be done, was not done.

I lost my shit when I saw my friend’s photo.

I texted him immediately, how did you do that?

He told me.

He told me information I had never been given despite asking, oh so many times, for information on what are the next steps, please let me know.

Please.

I have a folder of emails, back and forth and back and forth, of weird little lapses that I kept catching and sending back out to the department, hey what next? Hey, did this go through? Hey, what now?

My friend called me and listened to me angry cry and then sent me a bunch of people to contact.

I contacted them all.

I won’t go into detail all the ways I continued to be dropped, but I did, when I met with the Provost last Friday (after reaching out to them whilst continuing to be demeaned, humiliated, and shamed by the administration–amazing how cc’ing the provost finally got me somewhere), who issued me a formal apology and listened with some disgust at what happened, she also congratulated me on graduating and officially pushed through a lot of paperwork to rectify what happened.

Suffice to say.

This morning I received the final step process to get my dissertation published.

Ironically, this morning is when I turned my COVID corner.

I am feeling better.

It was mild and mellow the first two days, but day three, Saturday, it got scary.

It got scary fast.

I was suddenly congested in a way that spooked me.

I realized that I needed some sort of decongestant ASAP and I couldn’t go out, I mean, I tested positive Saturday morning, so quarantining had to continue, and what to do?

I could Instacart, but it wouldn’t get to me until Sunday morning.

And frankly, when my lips started to tingle and I could barely draw a breath, I thought, I ain’t got that kind of time.

I made a couple of phone calls and a dear heart hopped on a scooter and ran over to the Walgreens in the Castro and picked me up some stuff.

I also had a friend, very gently, suggest that if it got worse I go to the ER, and er, that you might be having a panic attack.

I did recognize that.

I was panicked.

And taking big calming deep breaths was out of the question, I was way too stuffed up, and when I panic, I cry, and when I cry I get more stuffed up.

Suffice to say, I did calm down, and it sucked, and it was scary, but I got some strong decongestant in my system, got some scary Mucinex delivered the next day–had to show ID to delivery person, how weird is that? And between Saturday night and Sunday I slept.

I mean.

All I did was sleep.

And sleep.

And sleep.

I had strange dreams.

I drank tons of water.

I would get one nostril slightly clear and breathe through one side of my nose.

My cats cuddled with me, as they are now.

I slept more on than off for 48 hours.

The last couple of days really were dream like and hallucinatory.

I canceled all my clients this week.

I was holding out that maybe, maybe, I could possibly see clients tomorrow and Thursday.

Not like in person, duh, but via video.

But I have little voice quality and I also know better and though it hurt financially, sigh, I have no COVID grant or loan or buffer with the city or state, all those ships sailed long ago, I knew it would be better to take the time off and really heal and rest.

Model for my clients too, give yourself permission to slow down.

Rest is a radical act.

And then this morning, I got back the final email from the Center for Writing and Scholarship.

They blasted through my dissertation (the one they had “never received” even though I have emails in my dissertation file with the addresses of the head of the department, my dean, the registrar, and the head admin with all the forms and things and what have you, and the head of the writing center) and got it back to me with the final check list edits done and the directions to how to upload it to ProQuest.

I am leaving out a huge chunk of what happened.

Mostly, because I don’t have the energy to replay it. It was a nasty, heart wrenching experience and if you want to know about it we can talk in person, suffice to say when this is done I will be distancing myself from the institution for a while.

And that brings me to today.

The dissertation with the email with very detailed instructions on how to proceed.

I read them a bunch.

They don’t make sense, but so much of academia doesn’t make sense.

And sometimes, a lot actually, I have to read and re-read these kinds of academic instructions, they do not come to me intuitively.

Sufficed to say, I’m finally, now, in the final leg of the journey.

And I have COVID.

But, as I mentioned, it has turned and I think I’m through to the other side.

I still sound like Lauren Bacall after a half bottle of whiskey and a pack of cigarettes.

And I don’t have my normal amount of energy, but I haven’t been compelled to just drop everything and nap for four hours.

I read the email a bunch of times and decided, I’ll open it tomorrow.

I texted a friend who has been witnessing this whole thing and he said something interesting and I realized, am I just here at the very end of the longest mile and not pushing through?

Am I scared?

I suppose.

Perhaps it is perfectionism, I was sent a message this morning that stated perfectionism is “fear dressed up in heels and a mink coat,” and, well, I had to laugh; I do love a good dressing up.

So.

I opened it.

I opened the dissertation and I found an error that needs correcting, on page 52 of 267, and I thought, wow, that’s not bad. One little error.

And I tried to correct it and realized I had only opened it in a way that could be read but not edited.

And I paused.

Not because I want to be perfect.

But because I recognized that is enough for today.

I took the whole week off from clients.

Maybe the Universe had plans for me that I didn’t even know I needed to attend to.

I am going to be gentle and mindful, again not perfect, but also, not procrastinating.

Which means that I have done enough today.

I have begun the end.

And I can get one more night’s rest before sitting down at my desk and doing the final steps.

Tomorrow I do the deal.

The damn thing has waited this long.

It can wait one more day.

I’ll keep you posted.

And.

I’m not going to bother to beat myself up about this, I already played that story out, I’m not going to judge myself, I’m just going to be grateful that I have gotten this far and there is not much left to do. I’m not going to have false humility and not talk about what happened and pretend that I graduated with smooth sailing. It’s been a hideous, bumpy, tumultuous experience, and in some way, I am very well aware that I will walk through this so that I can turn around and say to someone going through the same thing, “see I’ve been there, I got you, you can do this too.”

And as the brain fog starts to settle back down and I’m getting a little fuzzy, I’m going to stop here as well.

I have nothing pithy to add.

Just that there might still be time to take a nap.

Really.

There is always time to take a nap.

That is all.

In A Bind

March 16, 2022

And in some tears.

Sigh.

I had another post op appointment with my surgeon this morning.

He checked out my belt lipectomy, “it looks beautiful,” he said, very pleased.

I told him that I have been doing the scar massage twice a day and he applauded that and told me to continue, pointing out that the scarring on my back would fade with time.

The scar there is a bit wider from bending over, stretching, etc.

Basically I was told, keep up the good work and I’ll see you in six months.

“Any questions,” he asked?

“Actually, yes, what is this?” I asked, pointing to a bump I’ve noticed for a few weeks and that frankly spooked me a tiny bit, what is that thing?

My surgeon felt it and said, “nothing to worry about,” he could tell I’d been worrying.

(It’s some surgical instrument he left in there and he’ll need to go back in and retrieve it! Thanks brain, thanks for sharing.)

“It’s a surgical knot, it’s a stitch, it will dissolve with time, it’s fine,” he said, then, “anything else?”

“Yes, actually,” I said. “When can I stop wearing the binder?”

My surgeon smiled at me, “now, you don’t have to wear it anymore.”

Holy shit.

I was over the moon.

Really?

Yes, really.

“I’ll see you in six months,” and off he went on his busy surgeon way.

I looked at my binder, I folded it up and almost left it in the trash in the examine room, but part of me was like, slow your roll, you might want that later.

So I put it in my purse and put on my leggings and dress and cardigan and left the examination room to make an appointment with the receptionist.

“What days are good for you,” she asked.

“Fridays,” I said.

“Ok, that puts us into September, how about the 16th?”

I asked for an earlier spot and she got me in the week prior on the 9th.

I walked out the door, got gingerly in my car and drove home to get ready for my clients.

I shared excitedly with a few friends about not having to wear the binder.

I mean.

It’s been on 24 hours a day for just under five months.

I was so fucking excited to not wear it.

The only times I take it off are when I’m taking a shower.

Otherwise, all day long, all night long.

I ate breakfast without it, went into sessions without it on, checked in a lot with my body, it certainly feels much more vulnerable without the binder on, I can start with that.

Then.

I began to notice swelling happening.

Ugh.

I sort of sensed that would happen, I mean, even with the binder on I swell during the day, by the end of the day the binder is quite tight.

My belly is always the least swollen in the morning after I have slept.

So I didn’t fret too much.

But, boy oh boy, has my attention been there all day, especially as the swelling continued, to well, swell.

By 5:30p.m. I was like, great, this sucks.

Same at 6:30p.m.

My belly felt and looked to me like how it looked pre surgery. I felt scared and tender and I thought, fuck, I haven’t had dinner yet. And some wonderful part of my brain shared, “what the fuck was the point of getting the surgery if it looks the same as before?”

Fuck you brain.

Also.

It does not look the same, the surgeon always shows me the before photos, even swollen it looks different so stop being so damn mean to me.

Then I thought.

Ugh.

I can’t imagine eating like this.

What if it swells up even more?!

I can’t do it.

But.

I also know better than to not eat dinner.

I have an eating disorder, being mindful about eating my dinner and all my meals is really important to me.

So, with some chagrin, I went and put the binder back on.

Sigh.

Fuck.

Tears.

Resignation.

And.

Relief.

Ugh.

It feels better.

And yeah, maybe it is purely psychological, but after being a therapist holding my clients trauma all day, I’m ok with being gentle with myself and being ok with sure, maybe it’s a placebo, but whatever it feels better.

So just do it.

Listen to what your body is saying.

My body is also saying, get a god damn shoulder massage.

But I can’t get a back rub yet, well, I suppose I could have someone work on my shoulders in a chair, but I don’t think lying down on a massage table is quite an option for me yet.

Gotta wait, back.

Anyway.

I have it, the binder on now, and I reached out to a friend for support and it’s ok that I’m a little sad about it and I can realistically understand that it’s just been under 5 months, the full healing arc of the surgery is 9 months to a year.

And fuck.

My arms that I had done in July, still hurt at the end of the day.

They hurt now.

Not so much that I am overly distracted by it, but they hurt and that surgery was done 8 months ago.

So patience brain.

The body is in charge, not you.

Feel your feelings and be ok with process.

Soon you won’t be in a binder.

My friend suggested I take it in small steps, work up to wearing it less and less.

And really, I got to give myself props, I went from 10a.m. to 7:45p.m. not wearing it.

That’s pretty fucking good.

So, gently, slowly transitioning.

Without too many damn expectations.

And being ok with the process.

Listening to my body without judgment.

Poor thing has been judged too much as it is.

Baby Steps

March 8, 2022

I had an in person session today at my office.

It was good.

It was also good to actually meet this client in person as we have never met in person before.

They started with me during the first shelter in place lock down.

I am coming up on the anniversary of that event.

And having some anniversary feelings.

I remember well the week prior, two years ago, things were playing out in the on again off again relationship I had been desperately trying to figure out for years.

Not playing out well, in the end, that relationship ended.

I still have pangs over that.

Why didn’t he figure it out?

Why couldn’t we make it work?

Why?

Why, I am always reminded is not a spiritual question.

It doesn’t help and knowing why is some sort of balm my brain wants to have to explain away the inexplicable.

It just was.

It just couldn’t work.

I just didn’t work.

And no matter how hard I tried I only got hurt.

I have been thinking a lot about relationships, dating, who I am, what I want.

In some persistent way I have always stowed away this thought of marriage, commitment, partnership.

Yet.

I have never really gotten close.

Despite a former “semi” proposal when I was in my mid-twenties from my one and only really “long term” relationship.

Is five years a long term relationship?

Anyway.

Why marriage?

Why partnership?

Wearing a dress, having a ceremony?

Societal expectations?

Family expectations?

My expectations?

Expectations typically lead to resentments.

I do crave company and touch and physical connection, I’m not going to deny that; but historically marriage is actually not great for women.

In a heteronormative marriage that is.

They work more, care take more, do more of the household labor.

Men actually statistically reap huge benefits being married.

Women not so much.

So why do I want it?

When I think about what I want I think about the physical connection of being with a man, I like closeness and, I hate the fucking wording of this, one of my “love languages” is non-sexual physical touch.

I’m cuddly.

Which the last guy I dated did not provide.

I love sex.

Don’t get me wrong, sex is definitely still a need, that drive is still there at 49, and may it be for some time thank you very much, although a touch softer of a demand then it used to be.

But affection.

I crave affection.

Hand holding, massage, leaning into someone, having my head rubbed.

Sigh.

But does that have to preclude being married?

I mean.

I might be putting the cart before the horse.

Am I shutting myself down from potential connection thinking better do it for the long haul?

Also.

What do I need from a partnership that I’m not already giving myself?

I love to travel, I love my home, I have a great space (when it’s not being invaded by the sonic intrusion of DJ Douche Bag upstairs), I don’t share it with anyone.

Well.

My cats.

They do think they own everything.

I keep my space the way I like it.

I have my schedule the way I like it.

I do my own thing.

What do I think I am missing out on?

What if I wasn’t missing out on anything?

I think some of this is just being really comfortable with my life and starting to find a nicer balance now that I’m not in the PhD mode all the time and have gotten a modicum of space from the last surgery I had and some decent recovery in my body.

Also.

Thank God.

My back is feeling much better.

A very easy weekend, lots of rest, lots of heating pad.

I’m actually using the heating pad right now too.

It is just nice after my day at the office.

I still need to dial a few things in there.

I’m going to pop over to Black & Gold on Valencia and pick up a vintage coat rack I’ve been eye-balling for months.

I could use an alternative set up chargers for my MacBook and a small extension cord by my desk for all the things I need plugged in–not all of my sessions are in person, I still am doing plenty, the majority of my session via video.

And one more hanging plant for my office.

But other than that, it’s such a sweet, welcoming space and I was happy to be there in my sessions today.

I ran five, only one was in person, from my office and one from home this morning.

Tomorrow I will be at home fully, all my sessions are remote.

I will be going in again on Thursday as I have a client that wants to be coming back in person.

This client was one of the last, although not the last, clients I saw in person prior to lock down.

It will have been two years.

I’m so grateful for this small baby step into a different experience with therapy and seeing my clients.

It’s not “back to normal”.

I don’t know if it’s the new normal.

It’s just nice to be getting a little more engagement with the world.

And maybe that’s how I look at dating, partnership, relationships.

Just with some curiosity and lightness and that I don’t have to figure it out.

Figure it out is a shit slogan.

For now.

Everything is exactly the way it’s supposed to be.

It always is, truthfully.

I just sometimes get stuck in thinking it would be better if….

If what?

And why wait to be happy, when…

I am happy now.

And that is good enough.

It really is.

Hello Again

August 2, 2020

It feels like forever.

And it has been awhile.

But I am still here.

Still writing, though not so much on this platform

I have missed it, but I have also been too tired most days to log in and write.

I write in the mornings still, long hand, my three page a day habit, thank you The Artists Way, thirteen years and still going strong.

I have thought about this though, my blog, the thing that I would do religiously come rain or shine, good day, bad day, nothing really happened today day.

I sort of had a nothing happened today day, with highlights of, this is surreal, though I’m used to it.

Sort of.

We’re still deep in the pandemic and although it’s been five plus months now, there are times I’m still caught off guard with the strangeness of it.

Or that I am estranged from my friends, fellows, family, colleauges.

Oh the desire to hang out with friends at a coffee shop.

Although, truth, I did sort of last weekend.

I drove up to the Russian River area with a friend, one of the few people allowed in my bubble, and we did get coffee at a cafe in Guerneville.  There was no sitting inside, though, grab and go.

So many things are shut down, but when I get the chance to go to a cafe or a restaurant I have done so.

It happens quite infrequently.

I do better weathering things on my own.

I have been very safe and very cautious and kept pretty to myself since this has all been unfolding.

But yeah, a trip to the Russian River and being out in the sun felt extraordinary.

It’s not a big deal typically, but a bunch of months of quarantine and I felt like I was playing hooky, albeit wearing a mask, from the pandemic.

Also.

Just getting out into the sunshine was so good.

San Francisco, got to love her, has been having her typical “summer weather” which is cold, foggy, overcast and quite dreary.

Add that to the general malaise of the pandemic and it’s a bit depressing.

So when my friend suggested we head out of town and get some sun I hesitated, I have things to do (homework, prep for teaching, zoom meetings), but folded as soon as I googled the Russian River and saw the trees and sun and water.

I’m glad I did.

I am also grateful for getting out of the city.

I haven’t been outside of the Bay Area since before shelter in place.

I realized the last time I had gotten out it was Christmas when I went to Paris.

Now, that’s nothing to shake a stick at, but it also meant that I hadn’t left the city in over six months.

I don’t, fyi count Oakland, Berkeley, or Alameda, all places I have gone to, as getting outside the city…they just feel like continuations of it.

Though, San Francisco is definitely in transition, it is still the city, and once in a while to appreciate the city, I need to leave it.

I will go up one more time to the Russian River before summer ends.

Just a quick day trip to work on some teaching prep the weekend before I start teaching Psychodynamic’s.

I’m not exactly excited, truth be told, I haven’t felt like I’ve had much of a summer–my private practice therapy business has been full (and yes, I do know how lucky I am to have work to do) and I have been doing so much psychoanalytic theory reading, my brain feels about shot.

But.

I have finished, as of today all the books that are required reading for class.

I also, I haven’t shared much about this, turned down the core faculty position I was interviewing for.

I found out how much work was expected and how little money was being paid for it and I changed my mind about wanting to work for the school–I was making more money as a private professional nanny then what they were offering for a full time core faculty professor in a master’s program.

No thank you.

I kept thinking to myself that I did not work this hard to keep working harder for less money.

I felt bad, for a moment, when I told my individual supervisor who really wanted me to take on the teaching position, but I realized if I had taken it I would have been terribly resentful with myself for taking on so much work.

Especially since I am still working on my PhD.

It’s been a minute since I’ve been here, so I cannot recall if I have written about that the last time I was blogging.  But.  I have made some progress there.  I have my external third committee chair member and she has my dissertation proposal as does my internal second.

So.

I await their critiques and get to start working on a Power Point (ugh) to defend my proposal.

Once I defend the proposal I will move into PhD candidacy.

I am ready for that.

I am hoping that I will get to defend by the end of this month and then turn around and start doing the study part of my dissertation.

My hope is to do the study this fall and then do the writing for the dissertation in the spring.

I want to put in one more year and be done.

In fact.

That is my goal.

One more year at the school working on my PhD and teaching one master’s class, then I’m done.

I’ve been on this track for five years now.

I’m ready to finish it.

I have it in my sights and I am hopeful that I can put down my head and push through this last year.

I suspect things are going to be challenging with the pandemic continuing to rage and whatever weirdness is up and coming with the pending elections, but I shall keep busy, keep pushing and get through.

And.

When it’s all said and done and I have my doctorate.

I am going on a big fucking trip.

I’m thinking fly from San Francisco to London, train to Paris, then train to the South of France, rent a car there and tool around and then reverse the trip back.

Two, maybe three weeks.

That’s a carrot to work towards.

Seriously.

It’s Been A Minute

May 15, 2020

And I almost, but I didn’t, didn’t write.

I was all like.

Ooh, Hulu, get me some Hand Maid’s Tale.

Then I thought, really, when was the last time you blogged lady?

It’s been a minute.

There’s been a pandemic.

The thing is still happening.

And life for me did not slow down.

Pro tip: next pandemic, be enrolled in a PhD program.

I was so, so, so busy with this semester.

And it was hard, like hella hard, ridiculously hard, over the top.

Add one pandemic and make your academic career triple fold with stress and anxiety.

There were a few weeks when I couldn’t get it together.

I cried.

A lot.

I pushed back on my studies.

A LOT.

I did want to do it, I thought about dropping out, I didn’t.

I wouldn’t.

But I did think about it.

However, in the end I am so grateful I pushed through.

I wrote some tremendously good papers.

I scored a perfect 50/50 on my Method’s Comp Exam.

I had a professor tell me she cried while reading my work.

That was nice to hear.

I’m still waiting for my Lit Review to get returned to me, but the draft that I turned in before the final draft, well, the opening comment from the professor was “Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!” So I feel pretty confident that the final paper was well received.

It was a push though.

I was so grateful I rallied and got through.

I have one last goodbye Zoom class call on Saturday, but pretty much it’s done.

All done.

I have officially finished the three year course work in two years.

Now I head into the proposal phase of my PhD program.

Which I hope to get done over the summer.

There will be plenty to do and I gave myself this last week “off” sort of, to chill, although in reality I did no such thing as chill, I was just not doing homework.

I was instead training.

Yeah.

So many trainings, so many screens, so many videos.

I felt so burned out from it yesterday.

Over it.

OVER IT.

However, also ridiculously grateful.

I was hired to be an interim therapist for the Jefferson Union High School in Daily City.

Technically I was hired through Daily City Partnership, which is a non-profit that supports the high school.

I will start next Wednesday.

I will be seeing 10-15 teenagers a week, doing an hour of supervision, and and estimated four hours of paperwork.

20 hours total.

So pretty much right back to being busy.

And like I said, stupid grateful.

First, busy will help to deal with the shelter in place deal.

Second, those oh so elusive child and family hours.

I need them to get fully licensed as an MFT.

I am 261 hours away from the required 3,000 hours the state of California requires one to have to get the MFT license.

A part of that requirement is 500 child and family hours.

I have been acquiring them by working with couples, which count as “family” hours, but I don’t have enough couples in my current practice to get all the hours in an expedient way.

So when I was approached about being a therapist over the summer to support the high school kids I was thrilled.

Due to the situation with shelter in place and COVID-19 the school board allocated extra funds to bring in a therapist over the summer to support the kids.  Typically they don’t have a summer therapist, they get therapy during the school year.

But.

There’s been such a demand for it they decided to help the kids over the summer and I was approached and applied for it and last week Wednesday I was interviewed and hired on the spot.

That felt pretty damn good.

The pay is shit.

But.

It’s pay.

And really I need the hours so even if I didn’t get paid I would have probably taken the job.  In fact, dirty little secret, most therapist don’t get paid when they go after their child hours.  It’s pretty rare.  Most of the schools rely on unpaid interns.

I could rant about that quite a bit, but I don’t have the energy.

I am just super happy I get to help out some teenagers and get my child hours and get paid and get through the summer by staying busy.

I have 22 clients in my own private practice, which is pretty damn good, all things considered.

A lot of folks in my agency have lost clients.

And I did too, but I have also maintained clients, worked with them, drop my fees when and where I could, implemented a lower sliding scale, and I picked up a couple of clients too.

So I’m holding steady.

And God damn am I grateful I can work from home.

I feel so lucky about that.

I am still paying rent on my office, but so it goes.

I did let go of one of my offices, but I’m holding onto the other for a bit yet, I don’t know how long shelter in place will go and I don’t know how many of my clients will feel comfortable coming back into my office when it does, but I don’t want to give it up yet.

I know a lot of therapist have.

Many are going over completely to the idea of telehealth–video and/or phone sessions.

I will be doing a mix of it when things all settle out, whenever that is.

I now have clients in and outside of San Francisco because of being able to offer telehealth and I will keep these clients when I go back to my office.

Things are good.

Weird.

Don’t get me wrong.

Fuck.

I miss people.

I miss people something bad.

But I’m busy and grateful to have things to do and that I live by Ocean Beach and can take long walks, and I’m fed and housed and safe.  I’m very fortunate and I know it.

I hope you are well and taking gentle care.

Biggest hugs!

You Know You Love Some One

March 28, 2020

When you record yourself reading “All The Hippos Go Berserk” by Sandra Boynton.

At top volume and with much expression.

I got some of the sweetest little voice messages from the littles I used to take care of.

The family and I did a FaceTime session early in the week and I have been getting all sorts of pictures of them and their adventures during shelter in place.

I miss them a lot and I miss the snuggles.

Tonight, while I was in session with my last client of the day, the mom sent me voice recordings of the kids saying “I love you.”

Oh my God.

I just about died.

I have been thinking about sending the littlest guy a recording of the “hippo book” as he calls it.

“You read me the hippo book!”

I bought the book and “Belly Button Beach”, also by the same author, as birthday gifts for him when he was two.

Listening to him repeat back the words to me still makes my heart melt.

I often would read them to him at nap time.

“I’ll read the hippos once and then nap time,” I would tell him.

The last time I did that was the last time I worked for the family, my last time putting him down for a nap.

My last time reading him the hippo book.

When I finished he said, “sing me song.”

That undid me.

I sang him my standard lullaby, “Hush little baby,” and choked back the tears.

Might have been the hardest lullaby ever to sing.

He fell asleep holding my hand.

Oh, my heart.

Such a sweet guy.

So, after receiving the sweet voice messages I knew I had to record the book.

I have the damn thing memorized, so it wasn’t too hard, and I threw in a little commentary for the little guy too.

We would have our own little conversations about the story and what all the silly hippos were doing.

Then I sent it to the mom and asked that she play it while he looked at the book.

They sent me back video of him looking at the book while my voice was reading it to him and he talked back at the phone like I was there.

“I love you Carmen,” he said again and again.

That was the best part of my day.

It was a pretty good day too.

Only cried three or four times.

Mostly during supervision with my supervisor talking about my clients and all the fear and anxiety and terror that so many of them are going through.

I have had 21 therapy sessions this week, I have one left for tomorrow, then Sunday off before I dive back in.

I am doing pretty well holding it all, but it does leak out at times.

It is right there at the top of my heart and I can’t always contain it and the tears spill out of my eyes and roll down my face.

I am so grateful for my individual supervisor, she really held my stuff today and let me process all the stuff and work my way through the muck.

Most of the time I am really good at shaking myself out when I finish with clients and I have little routines and rituals at my office that help me do that.

But right now.

My office is my desk, which is also where I study and work on my homework–which frankly has suffered this week, I will not lie.

My office is my desk, my laptop, my phone, the video camera in my Macbook Air, all of which are located in my house.

My one room studio.

Thank God it’s a big studio, but it’s still a challenge.

I am also aware of how lucky, really, really, really lucky, it is that I can work from home.

Despite how much I love and adore the family I used to nanny for, I would not be able to nanny right now for them even if I was still employed.

The timing of the situation coinciding with me making the full transition over to being a psychotherapist still astounds me.

I am beyond grateful.

And I am working my ass off to stay stable and grounded, to eat good food, to cook nice meals, to take walks when I can, to wear nice clothes, put on my makeup, do my hair.

The only concession I have to the fact that I am doing my therapy practice out of my home right now is that I wear my Tretorn sneakers instead of my Fluevog heels.

I had a fleeting, and I do mean fleeting, moment when I giggled to myself, I could do my therapy sessions in my bunny slippers.

Um.

NO.

Bad idea.

Not just because I couldn’t take myself seriously as a psychotherapist if I was doing sessions in my slippers, but I love that at the end of the day I can slide off my shoes and put on my slippers and that indicates to me that my day is done.

That was what I used to do when I was coming home from the office and my day out in the world–get home, kick off my shoes and put on my bunny slippers.

Yeah.

I know.

I am a 47 year old woman who wears bunny slippers.

I once had a lover tell me he couldn’t take me seriously when I was wearing them.

Of course that just made me want to wear them more.

In fact, it is almost slipper time.

I have had a good day.

It’s ok that I cried and it’s ok that sometimes it’s hard and it’s ok that I’m not keeping up with my my homework.

Actually we are on “Spring Break” so I don’t have any thing due, but I have a lot of work to do for two big up coming papers and a class that I am going to be teaching.

But over all.

I am ok.

I am making it through and staying grounded.

It definitely helped to get silly and record myself reciting the story, helped remind me of how loved I am and how lucky I was to have the nanny job with the family for the three years and three months I worked with them.

And.

Really.

Bunny slippers do make things a lot better.

Seriously.

Dance Party

March 20, 2020

Because ain’t nobody watching and I need to move my body.

And why the hell not?

I’m officially on day, what, three of shelter in place, and it’s getting goofy in here.

I live in a one room studio.

Thank God I have a deck.

My own deck, not my landlords, no access to anyone else, a good distance away from the neighbors, on the second floor, above the backyard that is never used (it’s a tangled jungle of over grown weeds and bushes), my deck floats, a little tiny haven.

A tiny piece of heaven.

With two white Adirondack chairs and flowers in pots from Sloat Garden Center that I bought a few months ago when only the faintest of faint whispers of the corona virus where in the air.

I do have to say, though, it felt like something was coming.

I didn’t think it was a virus.

I thought maybe the tech bubble was going to burst in San Francisco again.

I moved to SF a little while after the bubble burst and I was also here during the crash, it had the same feeling, something was looming.

But this?

I had not predicted this.

Shut in, shut down, shut away.

So yeah, I got my dance party on for a little while tonight, I still have the music going nice and loud.

I am alive.

I am in good health.

I am sheltered.

I am really grateful.

I am extraordinarily grateful.

I can still work.

I am still “seeing” clients.

Not in person anymore, I was the last woman standing in the building where my office is on Monday, I had thought I was going to have a full week of connecting one last time with my clients and I had just literally sent out emails to all my clients saying I could meet until March 23rd.

I was actually upset the first time I got that date from my agency, I was petulant, don’t tell me when I have to stop seeing clients in person, but I also recognized that this was not about me and that I needed to follow along, especially since I work for an agency and they are the ones signing my paycheck.

The money from my clients does not go into my pocket.

It goes into my bank account that my agency controls–I can put money in, but I can’t take money out.

So.

Yeah.

Need to comply, even if I felt really secure in my health and the protocols I was taking at my office to make sure that it was clean and sanitary and safe.

Sigh.

Therefor I was a bit bereft to get the email saying wrap it up and switch over to telehealth by the 23rd.

I stomped my foot a little, but I did draft all the emails and I did comply.

And then.

Ha.

Shelter in place was announced.

Literally twenty minutes after sending out the last client email saying, hey (much more formal, thank you, I’m not a complete heathen) there, happy to continue seeing you at my office, unless you don’t feel comfortable, then we can do video or telehealth, but yeah, I’m here all week.

Nope.

I am not in fact.

I get the email from my agency saying shelter in place is going into affect and I have to the end of day to see clients.

Well.

Fuck.

I craft a new email and start sending them out, while also fielding emails from clients who were coming in that day who didn’t want to anymore because, mother fuck, got to run to the grocery store and secure more toilet paper and beans and rice.

More sighs.

Of the five client sessions I had scheduled, one showed up in person, two did a video session, one rescheduled for later in the week and the other said, hey, we’ll get back to you once we figure out our lives.

More sighs.

I didn’t charge any cancellations fees, I sent out copious telehealth consent forms, I got myself together and I went into my office to see my last face to face client for who knows how long.

The shelter in place is at least until April 7th.

I have to say, I think it may go longer than that.

So I also did some pro-active things on my end.

Because even though I can work from home, I knew I was going to lose clients.

Lost one today.

And client sessions, either due to cancellations, clients running out of money who aren’t working, parents homeschooling kids, panic, fear of financial insecurity, etc.

That I knew I had to take care of myself.

I paid April rent early.

I reworked my spending plan and I cut out $700.

I might even be able to trim a little more.

I’m obviously not going anywhere.

I canceled, ugh, my trip to San Luis Obispo and my weekend at the Madonna Inn.

Bless their hearts, they gave me a full refund on my room.

Which I promptly spent stocking up on food and toiletries at Rainbow Co-op.

I have actually never spent as much as I did on one grocery shopping trip.

Mostly because I bought coffee in bulk (y’all worried about toilet paper, I’m making sure I can sustain my caffeine needs) and toiletries in triplicate.

I did buy plenty of food too.

My fridge has more in it than I think I ever have seen.

I shop two to three times a week since I don’t eat sugar and flour, I cook a lot and I eat fresh foods.

I managed to secure a lot o fresh stuff, but I also did get food to prepare and freeze and can.

And back up of my favorite breakfast foods and some nice sugar free chocolate, because I’m going to need a damn treat once in a while.

And though I cannot see where this all leads, I can see that I am really lucky that I live in my own beautiful space.

It may be a studio, but I don’t have room mates.

And.

Oh thank God.

I live two blocks from the beach.

So every day I have gone outside and walked to the ocean and watched the surfers still paddling out and felt the wind on my face and walk through Golden Gate Park and breathed in deeply the fresh air.

There are people out, but we give each other wide berth and there is much kindness when doing so.

There may come a time when I can’t go out and walk, but fingers crossed that won’t happen.

I do know, though, I cannot peer into the future and I can’t live in the anxiety of not knowing.

I have to stay present and presented minded and strong.

I have therapy clients to help.

I have service to do.

I need to stay focused and clear.

Which is why dance party.

I had to shake the ya ya’s out.

Big love to you and yours.

Be gentle and stay in good health.

And.

When the mood strikes.

Dance.

Really.

No one is looking.

On The Eve

January 13, 2020

Of my fifteenth year of sobriety.

I had to stop and ponder and wonder in awe at the scope of my life in these last fourteen years and 364 days.

I have come so far.

So fucking far.

It leaves me breathless with awe.

I’m a psychotherapist.

I live by myself in the most expensive city in the United States.

Although.

I still cringe at my rent, I can afford to live alone and I understand what a precious gift that is.

I work a lot, it’s true.

I’m still working six days a week and two jobs.

But!

Soon.

I will be done nannying.

I have been a nanny for thirteen years.

That’s a lot of time to be in any career, let alone one in which I have gotten to have so much unconditional love poured into my heart.

Nannying has been a tough job and the most incredible gift too.

I have never had children.

Shit.

I have never even had a pregnancy scare.

I have occasionally thought of what it would be like to have my own child, but really, I have gotten to raise so many beautiful, sweet, amazing children.

I have had so many children tell me they love me.

I have had so many babies fall asleep on my breast and in my arms.

I have felt the soft sweet breath of a child on my neck so many times as I lay them to sleep that I cannot count them.

I have sung a lot of lullabies.

I feel replete.

I do not feel grief stricken for not having had a child of my own.

I have had children.

I have also gotten to give them back at the end of the day and go my own way.

I will be hanging up my nanny clogs soon, my last day with my current family is February 24th.

So by the end of February I will just be working full time as a psychotherapist and a full time PhD student.

Just.

Hahahahahhahahaha.

Oh.

I also got my grades back for this past semester.

Straight “A’s.”

Not like anyone has every question someone with a PhD, “hey how were your grades during your course work?”

Most folks don’t give a fuck, you got a doctorate, you are doing great kid.

I had a 4.0 all through my Masters and I am looking to repeat that with my PhD.

I have also received the news that I have been granted the first person I requested to be my PhD committee chair.

Over the moon.

I found out from a fellow in my cohort that my pick only chose two of us to work with.

I am thrilled and honored that he took me on, it’s going to be some work, the work is nowhere near done yet, but it’s still a great big wonderful thing to be entering the last semester of my course work.

And I’m doing it in two years.

Most of my cohort is doing it in three and some in four years.

I know one other person who is doing the course work at the same pace as I am and we made a pact to get through the whole damn program in 3.5 years.

I am still on track with that.

I am also really on track with getting my hours for my MFT license.

I am 737 hours away from being able to be on my own without supervision, without having to pay extra for supervision and fees and stuff and things.

I will get my hours before the year ends and I am fucking thrilled by that.

My life is pretty amazing.

I looked at my things today, I looked at the art on my walls and the pictures and the beauty that I have surrounded myself with.

I am not rich.

But I am awash in beauty and prosperity and abundance.

I am so grateful.

I have slept on cardboard.

No more of that.

I have been homeless.

I have had to go to food pantries and be on food stamps.

I have worked some pretty grimy jobs.

I have struggled and worked and struggled some more.

I own a car.

What the hell?

A new car, my own car, the first new car I have ever bought.

I go to yoga.

I still can’t always get over that.

Who is this person hopping into her cute little marshmallow colored Fiat and heading up Balboa Street to do yoga?

I have nice clothes.

I bought in Paris. 

I used to wear hand me downs from my youngest aunts.

I used to have only one pair of shoes.

I have a lot of shoes.

I mean.

A girl likes her shoes.

I have framed art that I have bought in Paris too.

I remember having posters pinned up to my walls, when I had walls, I didn’t always.

Or magazine photos taped to my walls.

I always have liked to look at things.

I have gone to so many museums.

I have traveled the world.

Not a lot, but a good amount you know.

Paris, New York, London, LA, Miami, Chicago, Anchorage, Marseilles, Rome, Aix-en-Provence, Austin, Havana, Cuba, Burning Man.

Not bad for a girl raised in an unincorporated town in rural Wisconsin.

I have some pretty amazing tattoos.

I have gotten to meet and hang out with one of my musical hero’s–more than once.

I have extraordinary friends.

I have a way of life that is full of purpose and meaning and service.

I have love.

I have had terrible heart ache and I have survived it.

I have resiliency.

I have lost dear friends to death far too soon.

I have danced under the stars until dawn, in underground clubs in Paris, on top of speakers in dancehalls in San Francisco, arts cars out in deep playa at Burning Man.

I have narrated my story and performed  in front of 100s.

I have recited poetry to audiences small and grand.

I am in the world and I am alive and I am so grateful for that.

For this wonderful, sometimes painful, but always so full, so amazing, so extraordinary, beyond my wildest dreams, life.

Here’s to (almost) fifteen years of sobriety.

And many, many, many more years to come.

So many.

 

Hello Old Friend

December 13, 2019

Ah.

Sigh.

Hello my lovely, it’s been a while.

I’m back.

For a little while, a few days here, maybe a couple of weeks, I’m not one hundred percent sure, but I am going to try and post up some blogs and stay a little regular for a little while.

At least until next semester hits.

Then.

Buh bye.

This semester was by far the heaviest work load I have carried in school.

I did a bonkers amount of reading, researching and writing.

All the time.

It just was a constant grind.

And.

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmm.

I turned in my final paper today, this very afternoon.

I am done!

I am done!

I am done!

It feels so very nice.

I already know that I have gotten “A’s” in my two other classes, I completed one last week, turning in the final paper a little early so that I could focus on the last final project I had.

Said project cumulated in a 176 page paper.

Yeah.

I said that.

176 pages.

I pretty much put together a god damn book.

But when I think about it, that’s basically what a dissertation is, a book.

This was not my dissertation but it had some thematics that I will pull in for my work.

And I didn’t write the whole thing all in one shot.

It was broken up into four parts over the course of the semester.

I basically wrote four good sized papers and then connected them all together for the final compilation.

I am so grateful it’s done I can’t even believe that I don’t have a book to read tomorrow, a discussion post to write, a paper to write, an article to read, research to do.

All I have to do is supervision and see clients.

All.

heh.

Yeah.

That’s the other thing.

I have been busting my ass building my private practice.

I currently have 24 clients!

I cannot believe that.

It just amazes me.

Yes.

I am still nannying.

Although!

Not for long.

This week I officially dropped another day, so I’m down to working two days a week and neither day is a full day.  Mondays I’ll be working 9a.m. to 4p.m. and Tuesdays 11 a.m. to 4p.m.

And!

I gave my notice.

That’s right.

I gave my mothefucking notice.

I am so over the moon.

It actually eclipses finishing the semester, I am going to stop being a nanny.

After 13 years of nannying I am going to finally hang up my nanny clogs.

They are not the same clogs I started with, but I am ready to toss them.

I had a really good talk with the mom this week and I am giving them a very healthy notice.

I will stay with them through February.

My final day will be Tuesday, February 25th.

I am sticking it out for another couple of months for two reasons–my imminent trip to Paris and my second semester PhD retreat.

I will be missing two weeks of client sessions while I go to Paris and I will miss another week of sessions in January when I am at the retreat.  This means I will lose three weeks of revenue and that’s a lot.

To offset that I am going to stay with the family until the end of February to make sure that I have enough coming in to self-sustain.

Last week I hit my number that I need to be able to just work as a psychotherapist.

It was wonderful to see that number pop up on my Ivy Pay app–I use Ivy Pay to charge clients and it tallies what I make and when my goal number rolled over I was just over the moon.

That’s it.

That’s what I need to make weekly to be able to quit my nanny job.

I can do that!

I can.

If I wasn’t going on vacation I would have quit by the end of the year.

But.

I am going on vacation, and it is needed, I am so ready for a break.  And I don’t want to worry about covering expenses or not enjoying myself.

I want to do some clothes shopping and go to museums and eat nice food and go to the ballet.  I want to go ice skating at the Grand Palais, which has the largest indoor ice rink in the world.  I will probably fall on my ass and get run over by small children, but I don’t care, it looks marvelous and I can’t imagine anything more spectacular than ice skating in a giant palace in Paris.

I mean.

Seriously.

I also am staying at a really nice Air BnB and I dropped some dimes on it, but I know it’s going to be worth it.

So I didn’t want to worry about spending, I will likely get a tattoo while there, I like doing that, a souvenir I carry with me all my days, and if I want to order a second cafe creme or fuck, a third, I will.

I get to enjoy myself and so that means a couple more months of nanny.

So be it.

It’s worth it and there’s a light, oh there’s a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

I am almost there.

I am almost 100% fully self-supporting as a therapist, as an Associate Psychotherapist at that, I actually could afford to quit my nanny job is I was a regular MFT, but having to pay agency fees, supervision fees, administration fees and the 12.75% cut the agency takes, I have to work more.

I don’t mind, I’m just paying my dues and the end is in sight.

It’s a lovely sight too.

I’m remembering my birthday dinner last year, yeah, that’s coming up soon, next Wednesday is my birthday, and how I made the intention that I would be quitting my nanny job and have a full therapy practice.

I cannot believe it actually happened.

But it did.

The week before my birthday I hit my number and I gave notice.

Amazing.

I think my intention for this upcoming year is that I be engaged to be married by my next birthday.

I’m dead serious.

I want to be engaged.

That’s the intention I will set.

Somewhere in Paris, having dinner, rare steak or a tartare, a cafe creme and a cheese plate for dessert.

I will set my intention.

Oh yes I will.

No Bandwidth

September 14, 2019

I mean.

Ok.

Maybe a tiny bit.

There is some.

But it is small and slight and I chose to write a blog instead of using it for homework.

Don’t worry.

Shh.

Anxiety be gone.

I will work the homework is a serious manner tomorrow.

I promise.

I had one client cancellation, there will be homework done then.

And after I finish with my last client at 2p.m., aside from lunch, I have no plans except to bury myself in the work.

My fucking god.

There is a lot of work.

And I have been doing some over the week, don’t get me wrong, I have attended to it.

JESUS FUCK.

I am so grateful I just caught that, I had an assignment due.

I actually don’t know if I would have caught that if I hadn’t been writing this.

I stopped and popped into my online classroom and saw correctly that I had something due.

Good grief.

I am so glad I caught that!

I already had done the work, I just hadn’t formatted it to turn in.

Whew.

It’s turned in and now I can go back to whining about how much work this all is and when the fuck and am I going to have the time to do all the reading.

All the reading.

So much reading.

So much.

I have seven, seven, new books that have arrived in the mail this week.

I’m going to say that again.

SEVEN.

Ugh.

I keep reminding myself that I just have to do what’s in front of me today.

It really becomes impossible if I look at that stack of books, like maybe if I just sleep at my desk and never leave it and never move I might, might, get through the stack by the end of the semester.

But.

I have a life.

A big life.

A full life.

I also have a private practice I am trying to fill since, well, that’s like my income.

Not fully.

But soon.

Today, yes, today.

Today was my last Friday as a nanny.

I am still nannying, but I am reducing my hours down to three days a week as opposed to the five days a week I’ve been working for like, forever.

Thirteen years, give or take a few other odd jobs here and there, I have been nannying for thirteen years.

There is an end in sight.

And maybe that’s why I needed to write tonight.

To mark this.

It’s a big step.

Next week I work two days less a week as a nanny.

And soon, by the end of the year, by February at the latest, I am hopeful that I will be done completely as a nanny and be fully self-supporting as a therapist.

It’s a big freaking deal.

I have been working so long and so hard to get here.

I remember when I turned ten years sober how I was putting the finishing touches on my application to my Master’s in Psychology program.

That was four and a half years ago.

It’s been a long road, but I have been on it, working and working and working and the working, well, it does seem to be paying off.

I reflected this morning while I was doing my morning pages (I still do that, I may not be blogging every day like I used to, but I am still committed to that practice, I can’t not write, I would die) that I have really come far since last year.

I moved into my new place September 15th of last year, I started my first year of a PhD program, I was hired in August to work for Grateful Heart as an Associate MFT to establish my practice.

I left my other internship where I was not paid to transition to Grateful Heart in October.

I had four clients.

Now.

I have eighteen.

That’s a pretty damn big deal.

To make it through a year of a PhD program, work full time and set up a private practice therapy business.

I don’t know that I held down the fort in all areas all that well.

Oh.

And yeah.

I broke up with my soul mate, the love of my life, the one.

The fucking one.

I have been grieving that a lot lately.

It’s been a lot of sadness and tough at times and I don’t write much about it here.

Aside from the odd poetry post that I happen to throw up.

Tonight’s full harvest moon is also not helping.

It’s been excruciating when I think about the language of love that we spoke to each other through the moon.

How many text messages and phone calls looking at the moon wishing for him?

So many.

Crying for the moon in the sky, crying for him.

Crying all the time.

I still cry.

It catches me off-guard sometimes.

I think this last time it’s been different, more final, more ending.

Hopeless and heartbroken.

And still thriving.

Still alive.

My therapist reflected that to me this week after I shared some things about the current issues I have around the ending of the relationship and how I am still affected by it.

She said, “you can be heartbroken and thrive too.”

Heartbroken.

And.

Thriving.

And overwhelmed by the work, but up to it and ready for it and grateful for the lessening of nanny hours so that I can work more on my dissertation and my course work.

So that I may cultivate more clients for my therapy practice so that I may, sooner, oh please, rather than later, stop nannying altogether.

I don’t know how it will look or when it will happen, but I sense it is out there just around the corner.

Just there.

Under the shadow of the moon.

Like my love for you, my love.

Always just there.

Lit by the moon.

 


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