Archive for the ‘Therapy’ Category

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.

 

One More Week

August 12, 2019

Of freedom.

From school.

Which is fucking hilarious as I carted around two gigantic text books today on the off chance of being somewhere I was going to read.

I learned to always carry my books with me, because inevitably the day will come when I don’t, (this past Saturday) when a client no shows and I have down time to read.

Or I’m at work and unexpectedly get time to read.

I probably won’t at all be able to do that at work tomorrow, I just don’t see it happening, but sometimes it does and as my time is super precious I use whatever I can get.

I have finished one of my text books for the fall semester and started in on another one and I am simultaneously reviewing a few articles for the class I will be guest lecturing on the 21st of September and reading a book for that class as well.

I did question myself a little about that today as I sat in a training in Berkeley for my agency, what am I doing teaching a class too this semester?!

But, I feel it’s good for me to do and I’m excited for the topic and the few people, outside of school, I have run it by, really like listening to me talk about it.

I find that encouraging, if someone who doesn’t have a background in psychology finds it fascinating, those who are pursuing the Master’s degree should like it too.

Or so I hope.

Regardless of whether they do or not,  I am learning as I prepare to teach.

Which is always how it goes.

Want to learn something on a deeper level?

Teach it.

I have had that experience over and over and over again.

And I’m grateful to get to go before an incoming Master’s cohort who are just beginning their journey and say here I am, in my second year of a PhD program, as a licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist with a burgeoning private practice.

I get to model what they can become and that’s really a sweet gift to give back.

I didn’t know how much work it was going to be and I’m pretty glad I didn’t, I did know I was right where I was supposed to be and I want to share all the things that I have gotten to learn over the past few years.

An hour and a half lecture will not encapsulate that, but it should be enough time to lecture on Reverie, which I find totally fascinating.

Reverie is something that happens in sessions where daydreams, wayward thoughts, fantasies, visions, intuitions, come to the therapist.

The first time it happened to me in a session, a dyad at school with a classmate, I got spooked.

I thought I had drifted off.

But there was something so potent about it, the image that came to mind, that I mentioned it to my professor who then told me that I had experienced  reverie and that it was clinically significant.

We discussed what I saw, how it was clinically relevant, and how to make an intervention around it.

It was fascinating.

It still is and there’s lots to talk about, and I won’t bore you with it at this time, since I don’t know that you’re really here to listen to me practice my lecture in Psychodynamics.

Heh.

Who knows why you’re here anyway.

I don’t.

I mean.

This blog has been dark for almost two years now, maybe actually it has been a little more than two years.

I don’t link it to social media.

I don’t post it anywhere.

This is just me noodling away at my keyboard.

There are perhaps of handful of folks that still follow me out there who know me, but most of the people that read this have no idea who I am.

Once in a while it gets read a whole bunch and I’ll be curious who has discovered it and why is it so fascinating.

Recently it was getting a ton of reads in, of all places, Hong Kong.

No idea why.

But for a few days, on and off for the last couple of months, literally hundreds of my blogs were being read in Hong Kong.

That was kind of cool to see.

I don’t know how many blogs I’m going to get out before the semester starts, I’ll be starting with some new clients this week and trying to get some homework done before the intensive.

One of my classes doesn’t have the syllabus up yet, which always makes me nervous, but the other two do and there is going to be some major work and a lot of reading to do this semester just for these two classes.

But.

I am not going to stop blogging.

Especially since I am going to actually try to incorporate my blog into a “Work In Progress” assignment for my class in Arts Based Research.

I know that I won’t be able to do a blog a day like I still managed to do with my Master’s degree.

That became really evident I am sure when my blogs took a total nose dive once I began my PhD and started building up my private practice.

The blog took such a hit.

But.

I have never stopped writing and I’m going to keep sending out these little missives to the Universe whenever I can.

It helps me to keep my writing chops and it helps me process all the things.

Like not speaking or being in contact with my ex and what that feels like.

Good and super hard all at the same time and scary and sad.

Or thinking about the time I was in Cuba, just recently and had an overwhelming spiritual experience at a Catholic church where Santoria is practiced.

Floods of tears, praying on my knees, and asking for forgiveness in front of a black Madonna.

Or when I was walking the cobblestone streets of Old Havana with my hair up, a long white dress on, a bright turquoise parasol protecting me from the sun and the feeling of awe in wonder at who I get to be in this life and where I get to go.

And.

Where I get to go home to.

San Francisco.

I am still here.

Hanging on at the edge of the city.

The ledge of the Western seaboard.

Two blocks from the Ocean.

The moon rise and the the dark breach of universe turning above me.

I am so fucking grateful to be alive.

It’s ok that I got my heart broke.

It’s ok that my rent’s ridiculous.

It’s ok that I’m still a nanny.

I get to do all these miraculous things.

It’s ok that I’m busy with my PhD and nervous to teach the class.

I get to do all these things.

Because.

I am graced.

Happy.

Joyous.

And so very.

Very.

Very.

Free.

Take One Step Towards

August 9, 2019

The Universe and the Universe throws hella new clients at you!

Holy crow.

Last Thursday I took a, for me, leap and connected with a woman who has an office in the same building I have my therapy office in.

She had tagged me in a post on social media about having office hours available.

I was really interested in one of the days, but, also, well, nervous, can I take on more rent?

I brought it up last week in Group Supervision and my supervisor interrupted me and said, “Who here thinks that Carmen should rent the office?”

Everyone raised their hands.

EVERYONE.

Ok then.

One of the members in my group succinctly pointed out that I have been steadily adding new clients and building my practice.

At the time of the conversation I had 15 clients.

I had 16 but one client moved.

And.

My group member was right, I have steadily increased my client load and I had the sense of “if you build it they will come.”

So  reached out that day and sent a direct text and inquired.

I got a response that it was available, but/and two other people had expressed interest.

Shit.

But they hadn’t confirmed.  I was adamant that I wanted the office, especially when I found out what the rent was and it was much less than I thought it would  be.

She said to be fair she would re-contact the interested parties and see where they stood and then let me know.

I thanked her and realized that I was ok no matter what happened.

Sure.

I wanted the office space, but really, having taken the action of just reaching out really felt good and positive.

Take action and let go of the results.

She got back the next afternoon.

I got the office!

Apparently my vigorous yes to taking the space swayed her and that I was ready to take on the space this month.

The lease is all drafted and dealt with–connected her to my agency and I get the key tomorrow!

I start with a client in the space next Monday.

I am using it for a client that had to cancel a standing session.

It was so nice to be able to offer the alternative space.

Then it gets crazy.

After the phone call with my new landlord I have my individual supervision and I excitedly share with my supervisor about the new office.

She is surprised and happy for me and adds that she knew I was interested in extra office hours but she didn’t realize how serious I was about it and would I also like to have Thursdays in the office?

HOLY SHIT.

My individual supervisor is also my landlord whom I sublet my office from, we share the office space.  She recently became core faculty at CIIS, my alma mater (my current “mater” for that matter, my PhD intensive is two and a half weeks away!) and has cut back her office hours.

Whoa.

I knew that was happening and I had soft ball pitched wanting extra office hours about a month ago but it didn’t seem like it was going to happen.

Until it did.

She told me to think about it and let her know.

I clapped my hands in glee like a small child in front of birthday cupcakes and said “yes!”

And like that.

I have office hours now Monday-Saturday!

My hope is that once I fill up on clients I will actually be able to stop seeing clients on Saturdays.  I need to right now, I see four clients and that’s a good chunk of change.  But if I can fill up the weekdays I can transition out of working Saturdays.

I haven’t had a full weekend off in years.

Literally.

I have been working six days a week and going to school full time for the last three and a half years.

I am so ready to have my weekends back!

Granted.

I will likely be working on my PhD, but who cares!

Weekends.

And!

I have a potential new client for next Thursday.

That part about saying yes to the office and yes to the Universe, well apparently the Universe heard and I got four referrals yesterday from Psychology Today as well as a referral from my individual supervisor.

I made contact with three of them, leaving the others messages but not hearing back.

I did two phone consultations yesterday, immediately landing one new client.

I also did a phone consult tonight and again, landed the client!

I have another phone consult tomorrow early evening in between clients and feel very positive about it having already made good e-mail connection.

I am over the moon.

I now have 17 clients!

My goal is 30 and then I can stop nannying.

I am so close.

I can almost taste it.

My charges can too, the little lady tonight asked me when I was leaving and I knew it wasn’t about when I was leaving at the end of my shift.

I told her not for a while yet, she was probably going to get me for another five or six months and I was planning on always being in her life and that rest assured she was my favorite client.

She gets very jealous when  leave to go see my clients, let me tell you.

My goal is six months tops.

I would love to be done by the end of the year, that has always been my original goal, but I figure I will just say six months from the first day I am in my additional office.

So by February 12th of 2020 I will be done being a nanny.

Fingers crossed and the river don’t rise.

Bring on the clients.

I am ready.

Happy.

Joyous.

Free.

To not be a nanny anymore.

I Passed!

June 21, 2019

I passed my motherfucking Law & Ethics exam!

I am so stoked.

And.

Tomorrow is the last day that I work for the family nannying for six weeks.

They are off to Europe and I am off.

Well.

Not really.

I’m still seeing therapy clients, and tomorrow will be a full day, work in the morning with the family helping them get all their ducks in a row before they fly out, plus four clients in the afternoon and early evening, and solo supervision.

Plus.

Four client sessions on Saturday.

But.

Then.

Freedom.

No weekend of studying and listening to the audio tapes and taking the mock exams.

I mean.

The relief is real.

Last Sunday I studied for three hours and took two mock exams.

I felt blown the fuck out.

I let myself have off completely on Monday.

I only listened to the pep talk, which was good and helpful and then I had a normal day at work.

Well.

Not really normal, all the kids were off from school and both parents were out, one traveling and one working long hours.

So I had all three kids all day long Monday.

In fact.

I got in an hour early and stayed 45 minutes late.

One parent got a delayed flight, so the other had to scrambled to cover me and get me out.

I was really grateful I had done all the rest of the studying on Sunday, despite being so tired of the material.

I didn’t do any studying after work Monday, in fact, the test prep folks don’t recommend it, I let all the work settle in and get situated, and hung out with my best friend and did the deal and went and ate at Marnee Thai.

Good company and good food.

No studying.

It helped.

I got up early Tuesday, ate a good breakfast, got my stuff ready for the day, I had to work and see clients.

And in retrospect that would be the only thing I change.

I was blown the fuck out by the time I got to work, my brain was scrambled and the adrenaline that had been coursing through my blood sucker punched me and I had a bit of a crash at work.

And I had all three kids and I had clients afterward.

The next time I take a test I will remember this.

Take the damn whole day off.

As there will be another test.

But not for about another year and a half, two years, which will be when I get all my hours accrued and it will be the last thing I have to do did get fully licensed as a MFT.

The board exam used to be one comprehensive test and it took four hours to do.

A few years back the BBS (Behavioral Board of Science) changed it and split it up into two exams.

The first exam, the Law & Ethics exam, has to be taken before you can renew your Associate Marriage and Family License.

The license has to be renewed after one year.

My license will expire on June 30th.

So I took it this past Tuesday, the 18th, to make sure that I had time and if something happened, like I got super sick, I could cancel and reschedule the test before my license expired.

There will be no expired license however.

I renewed the same day I passed my test.

The test was no joke.

And it was stress inducing.

Even the exam area was stressful.

No coats or jackets with pockets, no phone, no purse.

No watch.

I had to take off my watch.

The room was cold, thank God I had the sense to wear a cardigan, I had an intuition that the room was going to be heavily A/C’ed and it certainly was.

I did the test the exact way the prep course recommended.

Answered every question and marked the ones that I wanted to go back on.

I didn’t let myself get hung up on trying to figure anything out.

If I knew it, I knew it and answered.

If I didn’t know it, I spent a little extra time looking at the options, but I still answered it and then just marked it to come back to.

I did almost get stuck on the first one and then remembered, to do what was suggested, answer it, mark it, and move on.

I also took a bathroom break, which is allowed, but only for five minutes and they time you in and out.

I took three minutes.

I took the break after having finished the whole test.

The prep had recommended getting up, using the bathroom or walking around and letting your brain take a moment before going back into the test to the marked questions.

It was great advice and I came back in and answered all the marked questions, I had fifteen marked.

There were two questions that I thought were definitely experimental, the exam consists of 75 questions, 50 that you have to get right and 25 that are experimental, but the BBS doesn’t give a clue what the experimental ones are and I had absolutely no clue what the answers were.  I felt like I used good logic though, and that the purpose of the test, really what they are testing you on quite often, is if can you figure out the best answer by using logic.

The CA MFT Law and Ethics exam is comprised of 40% Law and 60% Ethics. Within the Law portion, 14% is dedicated to Confidentiality, Privilege and Consent, 16% to Limits of Confidentiality / Mandated Reporting, and 10% to Legal Standards for Professional Practice. Within Ethics, 18% is dedicated to Professional Competence and Preventing Harm, 27% to Therapeutic Relationships, and 15% to Business Practices and Policies.

Passing this exam on the first attempt is very important, as the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) will require you to wait 90 days after failing the exam before you can retest, and you will need to take a 12-hour Continuing Education course on Law and Ethics and pay a $100 processing fee.

The California Law and Ethics exam consists of 75 multiple-choice questions. 50 questions are scored, and 25 questions are considered experimental and will not count toward your final score. The experimental questions can appear anywhere on the exam; the BBS does not indicate which questions will count and which are experimental.

I was told I would leave feeling like I wasn’t sure if I had passed.

I can say, this is true.

I really wasn’t sure.

I was hopeful.

But I wasn’t sure.

So.

The fucking relief when the exam paper printed up and the proctor handed me the results was huge.

HUGE.

They don’t let you know what your score is, only that you passed.

CONGRATULATIONS!

In all caps, just like that, you have passed the California Law and Ethics exam.

And like that it was done.

Such relief.

I almost burst into tears walking out of the test site.

I made myself sit in my car for a few minutes  before I headed out.

It was a damn big deal.

And I am very proud of myself for passing.

Super proud.

And so ready for a break.

Like.

Really fucking ready.

I just have to power through the next two days.

I can do that.

I got rainbow and sunshine and six weeks without nannying and a trip to Havana, Cuba to look forward to.

I passed my motherfucking Law & Ethics exam.

It was a good day.

 


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