Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bye for now

So I realize that only had one post in October. Needless to say, it was a LONG, busy month. It ended on good notes however. New job. Mom doing a little better (relatively speaking). Halloween fun. Sunny, cool fall days and beautiful trees after weeks and weeks of rain.

I am thinking I might put this blog on hiatus for awhile. While writing over this past year has been extremely cathartic, it is one more thing that distracts me from living "real" life. I know in this day and age technology has become interwoven with daily living and inevitably the weaving will continue...but, as more than one church billboard has suggested to me in the past month, "Get off of Facebook and into My Book--God".

I think he's trying to tell me something--Live life with the people you know, love them, serve them, and in doing this you serve me.

Unfortunately so many of the people in my life live several hours away and technology becomes an important part of staying in communication with them! So blogs, Facebook, email, cell phones all help in that respect, so it's pretty unrealistic at this point to remove it all from my daily living.

So maybe I take a break from the blog, try to limit the Facebooking a little more, take advantage of time I have to visit family and friends, read more books, find other hobbies (gardening did prove to be a good one! though I got so busy and distracted before it got cold I did miss harvesting some oregano and other spices--now I need a winter hobby!), find time to serve others. I am looking forward to this job change as a turning point, a time to make other changes in my life so I can be more like the person I want to be.

Bye for awhile.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Long overdue update

Wow, so it's really been awhile. So much has been going on lately that I have had to neglect a few things, one being my blog. So here's a run down of events.

(WARNING: Reading the following blog may induce symptoms similar to Bipolar Disorder)

1) I FINALLY GOT A NEW JOB!!!! Hallelujah!! After over a year of searching and interviewing, last week I finally got the call that I was being offered a new job. Intially it felt surreal--after so many interviews, so many times leaving the interview feeling confident, only to have follow up calls and emails not returned, and then only to get the form letter or generic email that the position was filled with someone whose "qualifications most closely match those of the position"--finally I was that person whose qualifications matched the job. In the past week I have thought of those others who applied for this position and were never even called for a first interview, and those who went to interviews and then didn't get the call backs or those who went for a few interviews never to get the final call. I felt for them, being through it so many times. I try to rationalize that everything happens in its own time and for a reason and that this was finally my time and my season.

So this Monday I gave my boss the letter I have been wishing I could give her for over a year, that I am resigning. She took it shockingly well. I think she might have known it was coming. More on that later.

By the way, in case you are curious, my new position is working as a therapist through a hospital doing an intensive outpatient therapy program for adolescents. I have always found adolescents to be challenging; in some ways I enjoy them the most, because unlike little children you can do more "real" therapy with them, if they are willing to engage--which brings up the challenge--IF they are willing to engage! Nothing is more difficult than a bratty 15 year staring you down and refusing to talk. So, we'll see. I will miss the little ones, I love working with little kids and doing lots of my own brand of art and play therapy, which in the end usually feels more like having play dates than therapy. But I am so excited for working 8:30-5:00pm Monday-Friday, NO on-call shifts, and NO home visits.

I know no job is perfect and that this one won't be either, that I will have bad days and tough days, but I hope and pray that it's a better experience than my current place of employment (though I do have several co-workers I will miss and some clients too). I just hope this is a place where I can finally take root and get comfortable and feel like I can stay awhile and grow professionally.

Thanks to all my friends and family for their support during this long job search process!

2) So before and during all of that, my mom has been in and out of the hospital. I can't even recall where I left off describing that saga--she's been in for psychiatric treatment and then in again for medical treatment. Without going into lots of details of her personal information, which I am sure she wouldn't want me to share on the internet (well, maybe she wouldn't care, she does tend to be an open book with others about her multitude of illnesses), her physical and mental health have been up and down (mostly down) and it's been pretty hard on me. I now live about four hours away from her and I am torn, I feel guilty and wish I were closer to see her and help out more, but if I were it would probably consume my life, trying to help her and she's really at the point she needs help but she really needs to help herself. She has become pretty dependent on others to monitor her health and to care for her rather than her take charge and care for herself, which is part of the problem, and what a complex problem it is. I think I will leave it at that, rather than go into all the details.

3) And so while all of this was going on I have had some encounters with my boss that were pretty negative. Actually they could have been worse in many ways, but they definitely didn't make for a friendly work environment. Basically she scolded me several times for not keeping her up to date on issues with some of my clients and for doing things without "supervisor approval" (which for her pretty much everything needs her approval). I do understand that supervisors have obvious responsibilities and I should have done better at communicating with her about several issues. But it's really hard when you have a boss who 90% is cold and judgemental and is kind and supportive only about 10% of the time. It's a crap shoot and makes difficult situations even that much harder. Once I leave this job, if I never hear the term "supervisor approval" again I will be very happy. Luckily the people I interviewed with at my new job seem pretty relaxed and hopefully will let me work more autonomously. I feel like the more I work independently the more confident I am in what I do, instead of everything being "I have to check my with supervisor on that." Ick!

I realize that these are some of the main issues I have tended to blog about--job hunting, work, and my mom's health. Finally the work/job hunt issue gets resolved....I will keep everyone posted on how the new job goes.

I know my mom's health will be an ongoing battle. Prayers are appreciated.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Me vs. Food

So, I have been ranting about work over and over again lately, so today I will take a break and rant about something else...my weight.

(Oh no, you say, not this old rant again! But yes, here it comes again!)

Last week I went for my annual physical and got up on the scale and, just as I feared, saw the largest number I have ever seen. And no, I won't share that specific number with you. As we all know doctor's scales always seem to add a few pounds, and I had my shoes on, but even minus a few pounds the number is still way higher than it should be.

I wasn't completely surprised, as my bathroom scale was telling me a similar story a few days before. The doctor didn't comment on my weight gain, which now I wish I had asked what I weighed when I was in last year. I am guessing it's close to 10 pounds, maybe a little less.

As I sit and contemplate how I gained more weight, the obvious answer is that I am consuming more calories than I am burning. Duh. End of story. During our recent week off my husband and I ate out quite a bit (I guess so it would feel more like "vacation"), and everytime I turn around it seems like it's another wedding, shower, family party or other get together that involves eating and eating and more eating. And I just have no will power it seems. I never really have. I just love food and love to eat!

Looking back, I have always been the kind of person who went through phases of being slightly more chubby and then slimming down and losing weight, usually without consciously trying as a side effect of stress, anxiety, or being really busy. I have always been the kind of person who loses their appetite when feeling really anxious, preoccupied, or worried. However, I am also the kind of person who tends to eat emotionally, usually when depressed, stressed, or bored. In addition, now that I am married it seems that I just feel more comfortable and lax so I hardly think twice about skipping workouts and eating a few extra cookies, chips, pasta, or pizza. Add that with working (and thus eating) late three days of the week, family showers and parties like every other weekend, plus having an occasional soda, iced coffee, latte, and you have a pretty good recipe for extra calorie consumption.

Of the less important things in life, few can be more frustrating and discouraging than finding that your pants that were once loose now fit and pants that once fit are now getting tight. I face the reality of needing to make a much more conscious effort to make some changes or buy new pants.

Because I love food and love to eat, strict or strange diets are probably out (Master cleanse anyone? ick!)Probably the easiest steps I can take are to cut down my portions, plan ahead and bring my lunch to avoid fast food runs while working, and simply keeping better track of what exactly I eat and drink. Oh, and exercising more of course! I obviously need to either step up my work out or just go more consistently, or more ideally, both!

I will keep you posted on my progress.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I am not a dentist!

In reaction to my state of stress and burn-out, I have submitted at least 7 online resumes/applications in the past 3 days. I honestly don't know if that sounds like alot or a little. I also am not sure if it an effective way to cope as I fear that it will just add to my tension and frustration--you know, the waiting for replies. Lately I had been lucky to get a decent rate of replies from applications, but things get stalled there and phone interviews don't turn into face to face interviews, or first interviews don't turn into second interviews.

I think my technique is wrong. I heard on the John Tesh radio show (seriously, if you don't listen you should! it's really educational) that you should only spend about 40% of your time and efforts on online job hunting and the other 60% on networking--calling companies and/or people about potential jobs, looking for personal referrals, as they say these days that's how people are getting hired. I probably have done about 95% online hunting and 5% networking. Things that make your go hmmmmmmmm....

In slightly related news, there is the ongoing saga of the family who keeps telling my supervisor and now the psychiatrist that they want a new therapist, but to my face they are singing a different tune. To me they said they thought changing therapists wouldn't really help because the girl doesn't want to be in therapy anyway and they don't think will talk to anyone. I tend to agree with this statement. She's been in therapy for over a year and while sometimes she is more agreeable than others, most of the time she's either quiet or loudly whining and groaning. And keep in mind that she is 17. She is actually a beautiful girl, apparently very smart, but she also has some pretty serious mental health problems that she doesn't want to deal with. And I have been what I feel is very accomodating to this family, have tried to engage this girl, so at this point if they want someone else to take a crack at her, I say go ahead. I just dread the thought that it will turn into a BIG DEAL with my supervisor and all of the potential fall out. Plus I can't help but to take it personally, when I know that my supervisor even said they told her that I was just "so nice and kind", but long story short they want someone more "strong and firm" who can "make the client talk." Because that will definitely help. Urgh!

This is another point of contention with me working with kids...when I get the parents dragging their kids to therapy who really want their kid to be in "boot camp" because they need their child to "learn discipline and respect." These parents are looking at me as the therapist to be more like a drill sergeant or probation officer. I think I need to give parents a disclaimer in our first session that I am neither; it's not my style, my theoretical orientation, or personality. I have learned to be confrontive at times, but still my idea of being confrontive is still pretty "gentle." I am naturally just a soft spoken person, and my style of therapy is more of the "how did that make you feel" approach. And, to boot, I am short, 5'4" in heels if I am lucky, which makes me pretty much the opposite of intimidating. I also have often told parents I am not a dentist so I don't pull teeth--that is, if a kid doesn't want to talk or isn't going to I can't force them to drag it out. I give them lots of patience, understanding, prompting, and plenty of opportunities to talk, but if they can't or won't I am not a dentist, magician, or mind reader.

So, that being said, I will try to keep my head high and roll with the changes, as the wise members of REO would say.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


So yesterday I was in a pretty negative place regarding my job, career, employer. It's interesting how all those three words seem synonomous, but they really aren't the same things at all.

Anyway, today I woke up feeling a little more positive, even though I work 1:00pm to 9:00pm today and somehow have overbooked my schedule. I was in a slow line at the grocery store this morning and started contemplating my complaints about my job. Several different realizations developed.

I have pretty much been complaining about my job since I graduated from grad school. I have periods of time feeling a little more settled and secure, but even when I was working in Central Illinois I was job hunting for something "better."

I think of people I know-- my parents, my husband's parents, my friends' parents--and wonder how many of them worked for years, maybe decades, at a job they didn't like or even hated, just to provide for their family, pay the bills, maintain insurance, put food on the table. I think of my dad, who, at 66, still doesn't seem to know what he wants to be when he grows up. He worked many different jobs over the years, I know he sometimes did jobs he didn't enjoy but he did it to provide for his family. I think of people working in factories, working overnights, working at whatever job they could find. Not because they loved the work but because they loved their people at home.

Somehow, over the years, the myth emerged that a happy and fulfilled person should love their job. Yet I think of the people I know and how many of them truly love what they do for a living? Not too many. Or perhaps they love what they do but not where they do it or who they do it with. But day in and day out they go to work and deal with it. It's the hard thing to do, but it's the noble thing to do too.

So maybe it is completely unrealistic that I will have a job I love or love what I do. Truly most days I have liked doing counseling with children and adolescents. I think lately it's just been overwhelming and hit a point where my frustrations are just boiling over. I think this stems from lately having to deal with a few too many crises and not enough feeling extremely helpful or effective. Oh yeah, and yet another instance of a family member of one of my clients questioning if I am "effective", which makes me question my abilities all over again. Somehow I forget all of the clients I have worked with "effectively", who have made changes and have gotten better...

Meanwhile, I will continue to job hunt and just try to muddle through. I know in the long run it is the noble thing to do.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Burn out

So, as all good things must come to an end, I begrudgingly went back to work last Wednesday.

Upon my return I feared masses of voicemails and emails and old fashioned mail full of demands and commands and questions needing answered, but I was pleasantly surprised to have only 6 voicemails, thirty some-odd emails (mostly being stuff I could delete--mass all staff emails or invitations for trainings or meetings I don't need to attend but seem to go to everyone--), and a non-overflowing mailbox. Also somehow I seemed to have more cancellations than usual, so Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday ended up being pretty slow days, client-wise. I did have a mass of overdue and soon to be due paperwork to catch up on, but my motivation has been at a record low, so I have been filling up my time doing a little bit here and there and spending the rest of my time surfing the net and catching up on all those odd errands that I put off doing because I was too busy.

I had hoped that a week off would have me returning to work feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. But this is not the case. In fact, after coming back my spirits seem to be lower than ever. Not only do I dread coming to my office, dread meeting with my supervisor, dread working three evening shifts, and dread being on-call, but I realized that I am losing my passion for working with children and adolescents and am feeling burned out.

I was always warned of the high rate of burn out in the child/adolescent arena. I have fought it for five years, telling myself those wise things that previous co-workers told me ("anything you do is therapeutic with a child", "for some of these kids, you are the only person they have got to talk to", "sometimes you are part of the baby steps toward their progress, maybe they don't get it this time, but maybe they will next time", "you are walking besides them during the tough times in their life").

After you've worked with children and adolescents for awhile, you truly understand why the burn out rate is so high. Half of them don't want to be in counseling, but their parent/guardian is making them. The other half don't agree on what is the problem, what are the goals of therapy, or how to best deal with the problem. Their parent is probably telling me that their child has "anger issues" or a "bad attitude" or "no respect." The kid is probably saying they "hate their parent/step parent, parent's boyfriend or girlfriend, that no one understands them, that talking to someone doesn't help." Upon further inspection, almost always there are underlying problems going on. The kids I work with rarely have lived a "normal" childhood. Many are raised by a single parent, some by grandparents. Many had parents using drugs or alcohol when they were conceived or when they were young. Many moved once a year every year of their young life. All of this impacts normal child development, the development of healthy attachment, the healthy ability to regulate emotions and behavior. The child gets older and starts having "problems." We end up labeling the symptoms as a mood disorder, an anxiety disorder, a behavior disorder, an adjustment disorder. Depending on the family's level of understanding and insight, they might be able to recognize the underlying issues and actually address the root of the problem. But for most this is not the case. They focus on the current problems, focus on the need for medication, focus on how therapy is absolutely necessary or isn't helping at all. Few parents/caretakers take any responsibility or role in the process of change. They want me to fix their kid. And they don't understand when I don't. They don't understand that change can be a slow process. The almighty State of Illinois and it's lovely Medicaid system also doesn't understand that change is a slow process. Teach coping skills, get them in, get them stable, and get them out. All of these pressures. Little positive reinforcement. They leave me feeling like "what's the point, what good am I doing to anyone here?"

I used to get enough positive reinforcement with the occasional hug, the occasional "thank you", the knowing in my heart a child benefitted from something we said or did together, even if their parent, guardian, or teacher didn't agree. But lately it's not been enough. I feel drained and less and less hopeful about continuing on in this field, or at least in the child/adolescent arena. At least with adults they have to answer for themselves. I need a change and need it badly. I can feel myself not caring and not doing my best, which isn't fair to my clients. I keep searching for a new job, but no luck. Not in this economy, where jobs are being cut every day and social services have lost funding.

Maybe it's time to change fields, but that would likely involve quitting work or going part-time, more schooling and taking out student loans. Not the best plan when you have a mortgage and bills and your husband is also in the social service field (meaning we are both overworked and underpaid!).

Until now I just have to get by a day at a time.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

As my vacation ends...

In less than 24 short hours, my vacation will be over.

I absolutely HATE going back to work after having an extended period of time off. I dread it. Of those experiences that are, relatively speaking, pretty minor annoyances to bear (as I am lucky enough to have paid time off to enjoy) I feel it is just one of the most awful feelings to endure. I hate the feeling of not knowing what the masses of voice mail messages, the overflowing email and real mail inboxes will bring...and just going back to the day to day drudgery that I was SO looking forward to avoiding for an entire week.

Most of the week has felt like one long leisurely Saturday, which, for the most part, is a good thing. Lots of me and my hubby lounging around, watching t.v. or movies, playing some computer and board games. Lots of going out to eat, which I love to do (probably a little too much). Did I mention that the weather was perfect? Sunny, cool mornings and nights, dry air, highs in the 70s.

The week was broken up by a visit from my good friend and her boyfriend. We ventured into the city for some of the typical Chicago tourist attractions. We arrived too late to get into the Field Museum, but we did make the Art Institute and absorbed a good deal of the second floor, including some Monets and Van Goghs, and ventured to Millennium Park for some pictures of the Bean (which I didn't even realize existed) and to take in some free jazz.  
Looking up inside the bean
Ah, so quickly time goes by.
And I feel some regrets, that we weren't more productive or didn't do "more", whatever that would be. We had some hopes of going to the zoo or the pool, neither materialized. I hoped to make a trip home to the 'rents, didn't make that either.
Here's some updated pictures of my flowers
As I watch them grow, bloom, flower, and fade, I am sadly reminded that summer is nearing its end. At least the next season is fall--I love fall.
And I can't wait for more time off.

Monday, August 31, 2009


If I can just make it through the next 13 hours I will be on vacation!

The term "vacation" seems deceiving, as I am not going anywhere tropical or exotic or far away. It resulted out of a combination of needing to take so many unpaid days off by the end of September (thanks to the lovely economy), having a LOT of unused vacation time to use before the end of the year, and also really needing a big fat BREAK from solving the problems of south suburban Chicago youth (on public aid insurance).  But I do have plans to do some chillin', some exploration of Chicagoland landmarks I have yet to explore, a visit from a good friend...looking forward to it all!

So of course today as I am trying wrap things up at the office, during my final session of the day the guardian storms out of the office, tells me I "can have her" (his adoptive daughter) and leaves the premises. He eventually comes back, upset, not wanting to take her home, so I grab my supervisor to do a safety plan. She was surprisingly helpful and supportive. We came up with a plan for them to leave together safely and agreeably. I ended up staying 35 minutes over, but it had to be done. They couldn't leave in that state.

Now I am on-call til 8am.

So I wait....(big sigh)

Hopefully later I will have more updates and some stories of my stay-cation!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Post Script

Ah, the joys of marriage.

Being only two and a half years in, I am still learning every day, and boy, do I still have alot to learn. (Too bad alot isn't a word.)

Yesterday my husband and I shared a wonderful day. We ate lunch at his parents' house, spent a little time with our 3 year old nephew, went to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, did a little grocery shopping, ate dinner together, watched the Sex and the City movie on t.v. (without being forced against his will). Nice, relaxing, enjoyable time spent together.

Then I got up to get some juice from the fridge.

He just had to complain that I left the refrigerator open while pouring my drink, and I just had I tried to defend my actions (was it really that big of a deal? was I really wasting that much more electricity?). Before I know it he's angry, I'm angry. Blah. Good day down the crapper.

Often after these spats I try to step back and take a look at our relationship. In so many ways I am the man and he is the woman. He is the planner, the organizer. And he is the one who nags and complains. I tend to be more go with the flow, even a little impulsive at times. I tend to react and sometimes be passive-aggressive instead of straightforward. For being a therapist, I am pretty crappy at communication, at least at being straightforward and direct. Often it seems that my husband overcompensates by being, in my opinion, too forward and direct.

But in many ways I am the woman. I am the one who does the dishes and laundry. I clean the house, which I actually like to do when I have the time. I run on emotions, at least when I am home (hopefully less so at work).

And in many ways he is the man. He is the "fixer" of all things broken, whether it be a tile, a shower door, or plans. He does most of the outdoor stuff, like the mowing, the trimming, the car-related repairs. He runs on rationalism and logic, in fact I dare say that Spock is his idol.

And some days, most days, most of the time, it all meshes. But then, every once in awhile, we hit a snag.

They say communication is the key to a good relationship. I think it is one of the keys, but so is ultimate patience, forgiveness, humility, acceptance, and selflessness. Seesh! That's a tall order! And trust me, none of those traits come easy all the time.

So, I know we'll hit sore spots, snags, and snaffoo's. But I also know in 2 1/2 years of marriage and 5 years together that getting through all of the tough times has ultimately brought us closer and, hopefully, more tolerant and understand of our differences. After all, some of those differences is what initially attracted us to each other in the first place!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Salad dressing

I was recently contemplating how the recent flurry of craziness in my life (work being crazy and mom being sick) has actually helped me and my husband to grow closer. Not that we were drifting far apart, but we had been settling into a routine that limited some of our communication as of late. You know, get home from work late, eat, watch t.v., check email and facebook, go to bed, day after day. We were becoming a little complacent. With so much going on, suddenly we were talking more about many things, emotional things, important things. Through the struggles we find our true blessings.

He's been a great source of love and support and I feel truly grateful to have him.

We are pretty different personality-wise, my husband and I. Some days, we complement each other beautifully, like oil and vinegar, or peanut butter and jelly (or better yet, chocolate).

Today was a beautiful, salad dressing like day til about an hour ago.

Then suddently it was more like oil and water.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Oh and about that job hunt...

And, as a P.S. to my multiple rantings about job hunting, in the past 2 weeks I have had a total of 3 responses from applications/resumes I submitted on Careerbuilder.com.

It's about f-ing time!!!!!!

We'll see about the results.

Thank You!

I just want to take some time to say a huge THANK YOU to all my friends near and far who have been so supportive of me during the past several weeks. Thanks for being sounding boards, support beams, and ears for listening to my venting and whining and complaining.

I hope I can be there for all of you when you need it the most. It's the least I can do. And, while it's so cheesy, that's what friends are for.

I am truly blessed with so many wonderful people in my life, and when life is down it's easy to forget the good things and focus on the bad things.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

So I've been a little preoccupied...

Last week was a LONG and trying week.

Let's just say work has taken a turn. I said too many times "my boss has been better lately", "better" meaning a little less control freak micro-managing neurotically critical, hovering, and just "bossy". And last week it came back to bite me in the ass with email after email after voice message about this and that and the other. Although I have to take responsibility for some things too...some situations where I could have made better choices or at least kept her informed instead of feeling I should or could handle it by myself. Is that pride? Pride tends to get us in trouble.

Of course all of this is going on and my clients are running away, tantruming, threatening their parents, parents threatening to put them in the hospital, etc. etc. All my kids seemed to blow up last week.

Then there's my mom. Oh where to start? She was hospitalized for three days after complaining she felt dizzy, apparently her blood sugar was low, among other things like her potassium, hemoglobin, iron. Bascially her body is completely out of whack. It is because my mom has an eating disorder, coupled with a stomach ulcer, acid reflux, and a lifetime of depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. She has had the eating disorder openly for like 6 years now and really isn't getting any better. She's in therapy but honestly I don't think it's helping, simply because she isn't using it to change. I don't think she is ready or wants to. So all last week I am talking to her on the phone, trying to encourage her but myself feeling pretty hopeless. This must be how it feels to be family member of a chronic drug user. They say they will try and get better and just keep on going out and getting high. I went to see her this past weekend and just didn't even know what to say most of the time, though I could say it plainly to my husband, my brother, my friends. I fear mom isn't going to be around much longer, that she's choosing this fate, and that I just have to accept it.

I wish it weren't the case but it is.

Yesterday was another LONG work day. I am trying to stay positive as much as possible but it is so hard right now. The only things I have to look forward to are a week off coming up soon, though I wish it were sooner.

Let's just see what the rest of this week brings.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What's so great about it being late?

Can somebody explain to me what is the big freakin' deal about staying up late?

OK, maybe it was "fun" when we were younger because it was forbidden, it was naughty, it was testing limits. As an adult, I just don't get it. Is it wrong to like to get up when the sun gets up(well, relatively soon afterwards) and go to bed not long after it gets dark?? (we're not talking about going to bed at 6pm in December, but you get the idea!) Is it wrong to get 8 hours of sleep during the span of time we label as "night?" Is is wrong to do recreational and social events in the, heaven forbid, afternoon????!!!!

Last night, we were driving home after hanging out for awhile at my brother-in-law's condo. We ate some Mexican and were watching the Cubs game. After the game, we mutually decided to leave. In the car, my husband teasingly said I am "older" than him; he was referring to the fact that, in general, I don't like to stay up late and when I try to stay up I am often falling asleep. Unfortunately we are complete opposites in this respect. He is a total night owl, will stay up til the wee hours of the evening (or is it really morning??) and then sleep in late. I am not a 5:00 am type of person, but I would rather get up around 7:00 am and go to bed between 10:00 and 11:00am (probably closer to 10). Tell me, is this bad??

Well, apparently it is for our social life. When we moved to Tinley Park, we anticipated hanging out more with my husband's family, typically his brothers, cousins, and all of their significant others. My husband's brothers and cousins still are in the "let's go out to the bars" kind of mentality. And often it's last minute, calling us up when I am already in my pajamas and half asleep. Sure, in college I could somehow muster up the motivation to get up, change, and go out. But nowadays the comfort of my bed just is too strong. It would be different if people called the day before so I had some notice and would know not to start getting all cozy come 8 or 9pm. Or, better yet, if it was at an earlier hour altogether. Why does going out have to be after 10pm?? What happens then that can't happen in the afternoon or early evening? This is my burning question. A beer or mixed drink doesn't taste as good when the sun is up? Bean bags, pool, karaoke aren't as fun in the light? And why does it always have to involve alcohol?? (Which I think will be an entirely other blog post) So, typically, we have passed on offers to go out. And now we rarely get a call. We hear after the fact about weekends out at the bars and feel a little left out, but also knowing we probably didn't miss much of anything too spectular. We have called the same people to come over to our house for an afternoon of board games or watching sports on t.v. Usually they pass at our offer.

I have never been a night person. I was always one of the first ones to fall asleep at slumber parties and miss the late night gossip and crazy goings on. (Luckily I never woke up with shaving cream on my face or with someone holding my hand in warm water, which supposed makes you pee your pants). I am chronically falling asleep infront of the t.v. My husband has learned to never start watching movies with me after 8:00pm because I am highly likely not to make it through to the end. About 9:30 pm my eyes start to get droopy, I get pleasantly sleepy, and after 10:00 pm my brain starts shutting down for the night (unless I am moving around alot). I don't know what it is. The comfort of home, a cozy bed/couch, snuggled up next to my hubby...warm feelings of safety and security. But are they making me boring? And am I taking my husband down with me?

The good thing is my husband was over going out and drinking like three years ago. I like to be social, occasional drinking is fine, bars can be fun but often are loud and potentially boring. But hey, I like to sleep. At night.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The epilogue

Ah, a cool breeze blows through the window in our den. Nice.

A few days later, the feelings of disappointment and rejection have faded. The only question now is do I forge on and continue this fruitless job hunt or just try to be content with what I have.

Any thoughts?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Disappointment and rejection

About three weeks ago I went on a job interview. The interview seemed to go well from my perspective (I generally think they do). I called last Friday and they were still making decisions, but at that time I was still "in consideration", which started my weekend off with a hopeful feeling. Yesterday I got the impersonal form email that the position had been filled and thank you for your interest. I couldn't help but to feel disappointed. And rejected. Yet again.

I know you can't take this kind of rejection personally. And I don't. Mostly.

In the past two years I have been on nine interviews. Maybe that's not alot, maybe it is. (not to mention I have sent out probably over 100 resumes through Careerbuilder.com--again, not sure where in cyberspace those actually go--have emailed out probably close to 50 copies of my resume, and mailed out around 10 hard copies--which doesn't sound like many!!) Out of all nine interviews I have never had a formal offer of full-time employment. One place offered me to work as an independent contractor part-time, but I would have to keep my current job to have benefits, and working two jobs just isn't want I wanted to do. I look back on all of the positions, two were working as college counselors, a career direction I have really wanted to take all along. I am sure I lost out to someone with more relevant experience, as most of my experience is working with kids. Two positions were working at a medical group, two were at agencies working with kids with developmental issues, two were working at another social service agency, one was working in foster care. All were somehow different than my current job, a different setting, slightly different population. Different hours. Just different. I know different isn't always better, but when you are getting burned out and feeling stuck where you are at, different sounds wonderful.

My whole goal is to find a job 1) with better hours and no on-call responsibilites 2) where I can work more independently and have more say in how I manage cases, not have a supervisor micro-manage me and can actually feel like I am using my clinical license 3) have opportunities to gain new and different experiences and to actually move up and not stay at the same level I have for 5 years now. These frustrations make me want to forge ahead, but with so much rejection and disappointing results I am losing my motivation. And after all, a month ago I was just lucky to have my job. Right?

I remember feeling this same sense of rejection when I was applying for graduate school. Foolishly, I applied mostly to Clinical Psychology Ph.D. programs, even when I told they were highly competitive and with my B.A. from Eastern Illinois, not the most prestigious of universities, it was unlikely I would get accepted, even with a 4.0 and all kinds of other honors and accomplishments on my application. So I eagerly awaited news, anxiously emailed contact people asking when decisions would be made. Started receiving disappointing emails and letters in the mail. The worst was from the University of Illinois. I had been emailing them back and forth asking about when they were making decisions, until one day in my inbox it read loud and clear "APPLICATION REJECTED." I am serious! My opinion of the high and mighty U of I changed that day. Eventually I was accepted into two Master's programs, and I took the one that offered me the graduate assistantship and tuition waiver. And now I realize if I didn't go to ISU I likely wouldn't have worked in Bloomington and likely wouldn't have met my husband. So it was all meant to be, right?

As I look back, I think, well maybe this job wasn't meant to be, maybe it wasn't the job for me. Sure, it was better hours, working for a hospital/medical group. But it was a longer commute (15-30 minutes longer), working all with teenagers, which definitely has major pro's and major con's. Or maybe I am just really meant to stay where I am at for some reason. Somedays it's not too bad, I have some pretty cool clients now, but once they are doing better we have to close them anyway. So many co-workers have come and gone since I started I feel I only have connection with a handful.

As the Clash said, "Should I Stay or Should I Go?"

I want to go, nowhere else wants me.

Is the grass really greener? At this point I just want to be able to stand on that grass and find out for myself.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pet peeves and general rants

Happy Friday!

Do you notice how people are never quite happy with the weather? It's always either too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry. Luckily here in Illinois if you don't like the weather just wait a day and it's bound to change, or so they say. It's been an unseasonably cool July here in Chicagoland. Personally, I am enjoying this bought of slightly cooler, drier weather. I know it's July and it should be 90 degrees with 100% humidity, but hey, I don't have a pool, a boat, or a million dollars to spend air conditioning my house. Plus I just love being able to sleep with the windows open!

On that note, just a few general rants to start off my Friday. Today is the last day for some of my co-workers. About half of the people initially who were given lay off notices were called back due to changes in the state budget, which was a blessing. However, for those leaving today, the feeling is bittersweet.

On another work related note, last week I experienced a week long bought of severe burn out. I heard long ago when I said those magic words "I want to work with kids" that there is a high rate of burn out for clinicians working with children. Last week I felt it--in my aching neck and shoulders, my exhausted body, my short temper, my cloudy mind. My patience was very low. I just wanted to say to parents, "sorry, your kid is a brat, what do you want me to do about it? maybe if you were home more, maybe if you didn't have 5 different boyfriends in 5 years" or "sorry, your kid is hyperactive. You shouldn't have smoked while you were pregnant" (I believe research states this is true, but if not I have enough anecdotal evidence to back this one up) and I wanted to tell a few of my kids "quit whining! grow up! tell the truth! take a bath! bullshit! or WTF???"


Not so therapeutic. Luckily, I never expressed any of these thoughts to my clients. Though, for some of them, hearing the brutal truth may be what they need....therapy is so weird sometimes! I work with kids for several months, maybe a year. Sometimes I see them grow and change, if I am lucky I see their parent grow and change too. Sometimes I see change, and the parent insists there is none. I hear the same complaints week after week, I listen, empathize, give suggestions. Nothing changes. Are we wasting every one's time? I even asked a client and mother this last night. They never said yes. If anything, I try to help a kid recognize their own strengths and talents. I figure even if my client and their parent continue duking it out at home hopefully he/she will remember someday that someone helped them to see the good they have inside. Everyone has some, I do believe that.

On a less serious but more acutely annoying note, I HATE when I leave people voice messages and they either never call me back or they call back but CLEARLY didn't listen to my message. So annoying! You see you have a message, listen to it. Parents of my clients do this all the time!!! I leave messages with appointment times, and clearly they didn't listen to it. I have learned to never leave my parents voicemails on their cell phones. I have shown them each like a hundred times how to check voicemail and they still can't do it. So I leave them a message on their old school home answering machine, which they still barely check, but at least know how.

Also, I HATE when you go on interviews and they say they will call you to let you know when they have made a decision. In my experience, this rarely happens. If you are lucky, three months later you get a form letter or email that says sorry, someone else was better qualified, but best of luck in your career search. I HATE even more when you email or call and leave messages with the people who interviewed you, who say at the end of your interview to contact them with any questions, and they never respond. I guess I wouldn't want to have to call someone and say "sorry, we didn't hire you" but at least you can send a nice, impersonal email! Silence often speaks volumes, but I would rather just know for sure to move on. However, recently I did get a return message from an interviewer that someone else was hired, and I told her that I really appreciated her calling me back. And I did.

Another major pet peeve--bad spelling of common words and misused grammar. I am talking simple grammar, like using words like there and their incorrectly. Or when my boss sends out memos or emails with misspelled words, Word and Outlook do have Spell Check. I know how famous people like JFK supposedly were horrible spellers and still succeeded, and I don't expect people to know how to spell words you would find on the GRE vocab test, but seriously, come on! It drives me a little nutty!

Anyway, so I guess I should get back to work.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Taking time to smell my flowers

A day or two after I took the last picture, I saw that the wildflowers I had planted around the side of the house had finally opened up. This picture doesn't do them much justice--I was delighted to see bright pinks and deep blues and warm purples appear! Next to it I also planted a bluish/purple hydrangea plant which was on clearance, it wasn't looking so good but I hope to use my newfound gardening skills to nurse it back to health. About a month or so ago my husband bought me a set of gardening tools (I think they were on sale with a rebate from Menards. Save Big Money at Menards! He LOVES Menards!) so at least he's encouraging my habits :)
I was also excited today to find growing in my vegetable garden two green tomatoes and a cucumber about the size of a baby's finger. Also a few of the agapanthus bulbs I planted just sprouted stalks and may flower soon...I am dorky for being excited about all of this???

Sunday, July 12, 2009

As my garden grows

So it's been awhile; after finding out I still have a job it seems that I have either been busy working (at my job), working outside on our yard, going to family gatherings, or just sleeping!

So here's the status of my garden/flowerbed. As you can see, the little white flowers are the only things blooming so far, but there's lots of green (which is good! except for the ones we aren't sure are weeds or flowers, so far I am giving them the benefit of the doubt). I was pretty amazed watching my little bulbs and seeds start to germinate and grow. I can't help but be amazed by the simple beauty of nature sometimes, how a little water and alot of sunshine is all plants need to live and flourish.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hitting Home Part II

Today several people at my work got their 30 day notice. I was not one of them. In a twist of fate, luck, or what have it, my program was completely spared. Apparently the state will continue funding our program at the same rate as last year. But other programs were not as fortunate. Needless to say it was a tense and somber atmosphere. I feel lucky, but guilty at the same time, for staying behind and for also not feeling as grateful as I should for still having my job.

The worst thing I heard though was that over that past weekend, a former adult client of the agency committed suicide. Apparently, they were told last week that their services were ending and they felt they had no one else. I heard this story second hand, so I don't know all of the details. Whatever happened, it is tragic.

The whole situation is tragic.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hitting home

Last week at work the President of my agency called two emergency meetings. The first was to announce that due to the State of Illinois budget crisis, major funding cuts were looming and if passed this would lead to many programs being eliminated or reduced and possible layoffs. The second meeting stated with more certainty that 25% of the staff would be layed off and the announcements of who would be cut come this Tuesday and Wednesday. Pretty bleak news. Unfortunately it's happening all over the State, social service agencies are laying off staff or even closing their doors. The State can't balance it's budget and the current "solution" is to slash funding for social services. Everyone I have talked to feels that in the long run this will make things worse, ERs will be overflowing, mentally ill and disabled will be without services and out on the streets, chaos.

A co-worker said her supervisor hinted that our programs would be OK and survive the cuts. I don't know how to feel. I know several co-workers who have gotten all but the official news that their programs are being eliminated. If I stay, I will probably feel guilty. And I am always complaining about my job anyway, so being layed off and eligible for unemployment while searching for a new job might be a blessing in disguise. Of course finding a job will be hell, since I would be competing with thousands of other laid off social workers and counselors and would have to seek employment somewhere NOT funded by the state...

Unfortunately my husband works in social services too and his agency is facing the same cuts.
The bad economy is definitely hitting home.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A little bit of everything

I just realized I hadn't blogged anything yet in the month of June. I guess because in theory I have been pretty busy. Just some tid bits to get caught up:

--We have been having the entire inside of our house painted, this started so long ago I can't even remember when. The guy is just doing this on the side, he comes and does like two rooms, doesn't come back for a few days, comes back again...it might finally be done today, which I hope. I can't wait to have the house back in order, and thankfully it's turning out great!

--Last weekend we went to Indy for a friend's son's 1st birthday party. Anywhere with cake and ice cream is great in my book. It was great to see my friends and we also got a good taste of a weekend with a one year old...

--The weekends before that my husband and I were on a movie kick. We saw Star Trek, X-Men Origins Wolverine, and rented Marley & Me and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Of all the movies I might have liked Star Trek the best. My husband is a Trekkie, not the kind that dresses up and goes to conventions, but he does know almost all of the episodes of the 4 series. Marley & Me was sad, as I was told, but somewhat disappointing, as was Benjamin Button. BB was long, slow, and reminded me alot of Forrest Gump, as Benjamin's character spoke with a slow, Southern accent and recounts his life time of intereting friendships and his one true love, but Benjamin's character was definitely less entertaining than Forrest. The time period when Brad Pitt is finally an attractive man and then a teenager did provide good eye candy. Speaking of eye candy, Ryan Reynolds is in X-Men Origins: Wolverine; he's usually in romantic comedies, so a super hero gig is a change for him, but his character still had his smart aleck-y humor. He is super HOT and unfortunately wasn't in the movie enough! He comes back at the end looking not much like himself.

--In more serious news, as is too common these days, we got the email Thursday that because of the state budget crisis, it is likely that funding for social service agencies will be drasticially cut, leading to layoffs. I don't know how secure my job is now, though maybe it's karma. I gripe and moan about it, I talk of job hunting and interviewing, but I guess I want to leave on my own terms and have something else in place...if you live in Illinois, think of contacting your senator and representative and tell them how much we need social services!

--I almost cried during a session this past week. That hasn't happened in forever, that my emotions started taking control of me at work. I have this client, a teenager, a smart, beautiful girl, dealing with some pretty scary mental health issues. Her family is great, so supportive. But she hates counseling, hates seeing a psychiatrist. I have empathized with her on this, I have tried so many ways to engage her, nothing. I come to her house, she whines, moans refuses to talk. That day it touched a nerve. I said to her mom I can't make her talk, and I have bent over backwards (probably an exaggeration) to work with her and I am frustrated and just don't know what to do, and that I recognize I waste there time and mine and I could be helping someone else who will talk to me. After that she agreed to talk a little, but she had a little smile on her face and I thought that brat! she is trying to test me! Plus he family is bi-lingual so there was alot said in their native language I missed and the sister translated partially. Ugh!

--So that's the main highlights. A hodge podge of everything. Oh, and my flowers are growing, I will put up pix when they start flowering.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Time ain't on my side.

It recently occurred to me that as I have gotten older that time has seemed to progress in fast forward.

For instance, I cannot believe that last weekend was just Memorial Day, the unofficial (or official?) start of summer. Summer? Wasn't it just Christmas? Where the heck did Spring go? Easter was a complete blur. Where did it all that time go?

When I was a kid, time seemed to go s-o s-l-o-w. It seemed to take forever for Christmas, birthdays, and summer to arrive. Now it seems that days turn into weeks and quickly add up to months, then years. Almost 30 now, to be exact!

I look at the subtitle to my blog, "working for the weekend" it says. That is probably the biggest culprit of time robbery there. I work at a job where most days I like what I do, but I work for a boss who is best described by all who know her as "difficult" and for an agency that is forever changing in reaction to whatever the head hauchos at the State of Illinois Department of Human Services have to say.

I have been at my job for two years now, which is about a year and a half longer than I had hoped. Since I started, everything that originally was appealing about the job has been cut--our summer camp program, day long outings with the kids, family nights--in place of the typical therapy mill, back to back appointments day in and day out. So everyday I go to work and can't wait to go home, and every Monday through Friday I get up and do it all over again. Oh yes, and then there's being on-call at least three days a month. When I am on-call, I just pray for those days and hours to go by uneventful. Lately it hasn't been. For example, I was on-call last Monday for my last shift of May and of course at 2am do-da-DOO-da-do. (Damn pager!) I got another one at 3am, luckily at the hospital just down the street! (Oh, and I realize that the Pink song I quoted in an earlier blog actually says "I don't want to be that call at 4 o'clock in the morning", but you get the idea!)

So I realize I am wishing away alot of my time. So I want this week over with and BAM! it is, and the next one, and the next one...I realized at the end of last year that I was wishing away so many hours and days and made a New Year's resolution to be better about it, and to try to appreciate my job more; especially now, in this economy, I should just be thankful to have a job. I am trying to put in the best effort and most energy possible, but day in and day out it's hard.

Post college and graduate school, the idyllic world of science and theory fades and the "real world" bites you in the face; eventually you realize that work is just work, and few truly love what they do, most people muddle through and hopefully do the best they can, but so much of our true life is what you do when you aren't working.

So I try to do the best I can during my 40 hours a week. Mostly I am trying to make the most out of all the rest of that time. It's still going way too fast.

Monday, May 25, 2009


That's my new term for myself,
Domestic Goddess in Training.

Here's the proof:

Exhibit A-

Turtle cheesecake I made for Easter. I made it the night before, and by the next day it looked a little runny, but apparently still tasted good, according to my husband.

Exhibit B-

Last weekend I dug up the grass along this part of the back of our house and planted several different kinds of flowers (from seeds and bulbs). I have been watering it religously, but so far haven't seen anything pop through yet. I will keep everyone posted!

Exhibit C-

Cookies! I was inspired by having WAY too many eggs in the fridge (which unless I am baking or in the mood for French toast, we otherwise don't eat). They seemed to be a hit, there are only a few left.

Exhibit D-

Flowers I potted today.

Hopefully in the next week or two I will have the vegetable garden planted. I was getting the plants from my husband's grandmother (a.k.a. Nonna) but the roots apparently are too small to be planted yet. His family wouldn't hear of me buying such plants from a nursery or Wal-Mart when they are growing then in their backyard. Stay tuned for more domestic adventures in suburbia!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Man, I am tired.

For the third shift in a row, I got a crisis call at 3 in the morning (and that line in that Pink song keeps playing in my head, "I don't want to be that call at three o'clock in the morning"). This one came after an earlier call where I started at the teenager's home, ended up at the local police station after she took off out the front door.

Somedays I just can't help but to feel like I am fighting a losing battle. Me, the counselor, the therapist, the one educated in psychology, the so-called science of individual human behavior, battling against the overwhelming forces of the sciences of evolution, sociology, economics and politics. After all, the economy and politics drive our health care system and client's availablity to services like psychological counseling. And of course society, social mores, and social expectations hugely impact the behavior of even the most independently minded individuals. It can't not...unless you live in a cave or in Antarctica. And of course the forces of evolution. No matter how highly we humans may think of ourselves, while we are created in God's image, part of us is still very animal-like and full of the impulses to be angry, aggressive, to fight, to flee...

Who can fight this?

But then one day last week I unexpectedly ran into one of my clients, a little 6 year old girl and her 5 year old sister, in the lobby of my office and both ran up and gave me a hug. Little kid hugs are the best. Days when I see a child show and receive love, well, then I know maybe it's not all in vain.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A weighty issue...

I was avoiding it for days, no, more like weeks. I thought about it, then decided no, I will do it tomorrow, for I knew my fate. I knew I would see something I didn't like. Then, finally, last week, I did it.

The scale. I finally stepped on it.

My fears were confirmed.

Now, I know I have whined before about how over the past year or so I have put on a few pounds, which now is up to about 10 pounds. It's an annoying 10 pounds. Annoying first of all because it's just enough where I can still fit into all the same clothes (which is good, of course) but everything is tighter and doesn't look as flattering as before (where now I am developing a mini-muffin top). I hate clothes looking and feeling tight, so part of me wants to go out and buy new pants that are a size up, but these would probably be too big and thus be baggy and ill-fitting and not look good either (why don't they make half sizes for pants like they do shoes??). And annoying secondly, the ten pounds is annoying because when I initially think them, about how it got to be this way, I first think, "why have I put on weight? I am still working out a few times a week, same as before. I am still eating mostly the same foods, what gives?" But, on second thought, I recall the mornings that I skipped the gym to to grocery shop (hmmm, obvious??) or to sit on the computer and mindlessly surf myspace and facebook. And I recall the nights coming home from work late and being starving and then chowing on way too much food. I remember the drive thru runs, the days I would stop at Walgreen's to buy a candy bar, and lots of indulging during holiday/family gatherings.

In fact, recently I realized that every time I am planning to get back "on track" by eating healthier foods and better portions, I end up somehow coming home with leftovers...leftovers from restaurants or from family dinners, which are usually evil chunks of lasagna, piles of pasta, or hunks of cake.

I have no will power, that is one problem. I am constantly sabotaging my efforts by giving into cravings for fast food and sweets. Even after getting on the scale and realizing my current weight, the next day I still went through the McDonald's drive thru, first because I really wanted to try an iced mocha (I am SUCH a SUCKER for adverstisements! I really am!) and then a quarter pounder and fries sounded really good (I hadn't had one in at least two months, if not more).

The other problem is that since moving near my husband's Big Fat Italian Family my perceptions of reasonable portion sizes have been greatly skewed. My mother-in-law, father-in-law, my husband's aunts and uncles are always, "mange! mange!" Unfortunately I love Italian food.

And there's stress too. I do tend to soothe myself with food when stressed. So, work doesn't help. Although, lately it's been better. However, after two long crisis calls earlier this week, I was guilty of going through the drive thru after each one.

I think the more I think about my weight, about food, the harder it is. When I lost weight a few years ago it seemed I really wasn't trying to, I didn't focus on it, I just went and worked out a few times a week and eventually it started coming off. I don't want to become one of those weight obsessed people, but obviously I don't want to blow up to be 200 pounds either! I need to find a nice balance of eating better, eating less, and just being healthier!

Friends. Neighbors. Bro-Mance.

My husband has a boyfriend, and I am thrilled!

OK, so you are wondering what the heck am I talking about, or what kind of marriage arrangement do we really have? Let me back up and explain.

I have known my husband for about 5 years now. It is fair to say he doesn't have many close male friends. His best friend is a female (named Bambi, no less! And no, she's not a blonde stripper, and no they never dated or got physically intimate. She was married, went through a divorce, and remarried, she's a country girl and Michael has assured me many times he's never been attracted to her. I am totally cool with it now, but as all insecure girlfriends do, I had a period of time when I wasn't so cool, no matter what Michael said or did. With time I realized he was being truthful and got over it). Anyway, besides Bambi (which, again, I would kill my mom if she named me that!!!), when we worked together there were several women who were his friends, and apparently he had several female friends in college (but only two real girlfriends). He has a core group of guys he hung out with in elementary and high school, but it seems as he's gotten older he talks to them and sees them less. Currently, as far as guys, he mainly only hangs out with his brothers and a few of his first cousins. But even that is a little sporadic. Since relocating from Bloomington-Normal to Tinley Park I think we both have been disappointed with how inconsistently we hang out with his siblings and cousins.

Side note: All of my closest friends have always been girls. Though I do agree in some ways that it might be easier to get along with males because there is less cattiness and back stabbing and all of that drama. But I could never get over the initial question of "are we just friends? does he like me that way?" The whole "When Harry Met Sally" dilemma.

I digress. Back to my original point.

Enter Scott. Scott lives two houses over from us. We met him last summer after we moved in. Most of this past winter we didn't see any of our neighbors much. It was like we were all hibernating. But, as spring sprung, people were out more, and he and my husband were neighborly talking from yard to yard, which evolved to going over to each other's places to help fix things, then going/coming over to watch sporting events. His wife works late shifts at two hospitals so often he was alone in the evening and I would guess lonely. Sometimes I have tagged along, other times I wouldn't go and joke they were having a "man date", to which they thought was hilarious. We had recently seen the movie "I Love You, Man", about a man finding a good guy friend, having some "bro-mance", so the description seemed fitting.

I am just happy my husband is making a new friend. And not just a friendly acquaintance, a true buddy with whom he has a close bond. They have several things in common and it just feels good to see my husband happy and having an alternative to hanging out with boring old me all the time. Actually, one night me and Michael hung out with Scott and his wife and we all had a really good time, very relaxed and casual. They are really genuinely nice people who I could see us becoming very good friends with in the years to come.

Now, if only all of my closest girlfriends didn't live out of state!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday morning alpha-bits

So I had thought I would make an attempt to start my garden today, as the forecast said it would be near 80 degrees today. However, I ended up switching a shift to be on-call today instead of tomorrow (I have a bridal shower to go to tomorrow for my husband's cousin). I was imagining myself being outside today, covered in dirt, as my pager goes, "do-da-DA-DO-do". However, at least right now, mother nature is putting a stop to all of it, as it's raining and appears to be ready to really thunderstorm. Maybe tomorrow after the shower?

I continue job hunting, though it seems to be in vain. During my most recent job pursuit, I have continued to send out copies of my resume, mostly via email and mostly though Careerbuilder.com. So far, I have gotten zero responses. Back when I first was finishing grad school and job hunting I only sent hard copies of my resume, now most jobs you find online say you can fax or email a resume. I can't help but wondering does it really get to the intended viewer? Do they really check all those emails? But I guess a hard copy can just as easily be pushed aside or filed in the circular bin. I know it's a tough economy and my resume is competing with probably a 100 others for one job, people with more experience than I. It's still extremely disheartening.

I also can't help to wonder when I send an email through Careerbuilder, what are they actually sending to the potential employer? I use Careerbuilder for free, but they have upgraded resume packages that obviously they want you to buy. Do they trick you into thinking you need to buy the upgrade after two years of no responses to sending your resume the standard way? Are they really sending employers a giant picture of a clown face? I know my resume isn't flawless, but there are times I have applied for jobs for which I am definitely over qualified and still didn't get a call. I just don't get it.

Maybe God is trying to tell me to stay where I am at. Even though there are many reasons I don't want to. Maybe it's part of the bigger plan. Sigh.

As a follow up to my last blog, I spoke with the counselor from the crisis program who took back myclient who had been hospitalized, the one whose mother said I "wasn't effective." I now realize those were probably the words of the progress note writer, not a direct quote from the mom. The crisis counselor said that mom thought the client didn't want to talk to me because I seemed too young and too close to her age. I had to laugh at this. I wonder how old they think I am? I am going to be 30 this year, I have been out of grad school for 5 years, but I often still get labeled as fresh out of school, or even a student. In a society obsessed with eternal youth, I have often viewed looking younger than my age as a blessing; however, a friend of mine pointed out that it can be a curse too, that people don't take you seriously. And I definitely see that side of the coin too. It probably doesn't help that I am also short, soft-spoken, and frequently laugh or smile nervously. These are probably why the handful of job interviews I have been on in the past year or so haven't lead to follow-up interviews or offers. Who wants to hire a big kid? If only I could use my child-like qualities to my ultimate advantage...hmmm...what would that be?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The definition of "effective"

Recently I have been thinking about the term "effective therapist" and trying to figure out what this means.

About a month ago, I teenage girl with whom I had been working working was psychiatrically hospitalized for threatening suicide and trying to run away. I had been working with her for about three months with little progress. She was a transfer from another therapist who left the agency (as is common where I work), and I had just been working on engaging with the client. I would arrive at her home and, week after week, she wouldn't want to talk. I happened to look at her chart and see a note written while she was in the hospital (we have staff who specifically contact the hospitals), and it said "mother is requesting a new counselor, feels current counselor is not effective. Plan: discuss complaint about counselor with supervisor."

I have often thought it and felt possibly clients have made comments to imply it, but I had never seen it written out so bluntly: "counselor (me) is not effective." Before this, I had already talked to my supervisor and the plan was for the client to go back through the crisis counseling program (and thus to another counselor) anyway, but I have to admit to read that took me aback and humbled me greatly. I knew this was a client and a family I hadn't made a great connection with, hadn't really helped to make any progress, so in many ways it didn't surprise me. (I also knew this family tends to look for external sources of their problems, rather than really looking at how multiple issues within their family just might be the reason this girl is having problems). But, overall, it really made me take a look at my own skills and think, what makes a therapist effective?

When I first started working in the field, a veteran therapist wisely told me [regarding working with kids] "you are just walking besides them on their journey." And I truly got that idea, deep down. Another therapist told me, "you might be the only positive adult in their life, and anything you do with a kid is therapeutic." So the days I was sitting playing tic tac toe or Uno I remembered that, that just being there was therapuetic. But was it effective?

The term "effective" seems to be up for interpretation. In everyday terms it means something like "getting the job done." I suppose it goes back to what is the goal of counseling/therapy, the job we are to do. And with kids, that is tricky. It often depends on who is saying the kid needs therapy, and usually that person is hardly ever the kid. Usually it's a parent, sometimes it's their school or family doctor, sometimes it's a by-product of a legal issue or crisis situation and not necessarily the kid or family's choice. Sometimes a parent just wants their son or daughter to "have someone to talk to", maybe because they are dealing with changes, losses, difficult times. Generally these parents feel anything I do is helpful and supportive. I play games or draw or just talk with the kid, hopefully they learn to trust me and talk to me about whatever...if it's how they miss their grandma, great, but if it's how they love their puppy, great too! Just get them talking, I heard someone else say once.

However, then there are cases where parents (or teachers, etc.) are looking for change, and looking for it NOW! These are cases where there's been a problem for awhile, and it's gotten bigger and bigger and more out of control. These are the kicks flipping desks or joining gangs and we are trying to intervene, but it's a little late. For these kids, if change doesn't happen in 2 or 3 sessions, or 2 or 3 months, then "counseling isn't working" and often they quit. Yet another wise co-worker told me to think of it this way, "if the child has been having emotional and behavioral problems for X number of years, it's probably going to take at least X number of years to correct, if not more. So we have to help them with baby steps, little miracles." But parents who are stressed want big miracles. I can understand this. We live in a world of instant gratification, pop a pill for this and that, quick fixes. I never promise big miracles.

I heard recently on the John Tesh Radio show "Intelligence for your Life" (which I often listen to on the way home from work and highly recommend, it's very interesting and helpful! http://www.tesh.com/) that animal trainers don't blame themselves when an animal doesn't correctly perform a trick, that behavior is behavior, and they just work on continuing to train them. I think, I can know all kinds of facts about psychology, behavior, therapy, interventions, and execute them perfectly under ideal circumstances and it still may not make a huge difference. Sometimes I feel like I fight losing battles daily against the bigger influences of society, socioeconomic hardship, genetics, generations of dysfunction and substance abuse. When I look at it that way, it makes it seem pretty impossible, and depressing! How on earth could a person be an "effective therapist" dealing with all of that??

Back to the story of my client, I decided that the most accurate way to state what was going on with her was that therapy was not effective; therapy, which included me as the therapist, but also includes her as the unwilling 16 year old who is not invested in therapy, an overwhelmed mother looking for medication and a therapist to erase years of bad parenting and unstable family circumstances.

So, maybe effectiveness isn't something about me, my skills, or personality; maybe it's an interaction of all the things I bring to the table and what the client brings. Maybe all I can do is try my best, try to encourage my clients to try their best, and hope for little miracles.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ah, the holidays...

I remember as a kid, holidays seemed so magical. I waited in excited anticipation for Santa, the Easter Bunny...what would they bring me this year?

Then came the fateful day when I found the present hidden in my parents' closet, the one tagged "To: Kara, From: Santa". Could this be?? In order to find out, I used some fierce detective work; secretly wiggling out teeth for the Toothfairy, leaving it under my pillow without telling my parents. No quarter. I wrote letters to Santa and stuck them in the front window so they could magically fly away to the North Pole (ala "Santa Claus: The Movie"), but didn't mention anything to mom or dad. The letters stayed (until I mentioned to mom or dad that I had written a letter, then suddenly they were gone.) It was true. Holidays would never be the same.

And ever since, holidays have increasingly lost their luster. And as my brother and I grew from young children to adolescents, holidays evolved from larger gatherings with my mother's aunts and cousins or my uncle and his family, to gatherings of simply my mom, dad, and brother. It was hard because all of my grandparents were deceased, and I know on the holidays my parents would miss them, especially my mom, as she often was depressed come holiday time.

As I have become an adult, holidays have seemed to become times mixed with stress; the stress of rushing up and down interstates and splitting time between families, ultimately short-changing someone; the tension of awkwardness and forced conversations, the endless monotony of eating. Initially, my husband's very loud, very boisterous, very Italian family was a nice change from my quiet and dull family holidays. But even as his extended family grows larger and larger, his father's side still insists on having large get-togethers that include all of his aunts and uncles and cousins and cousin's spouses/significant others and children. This all-day event of eating not just lunch, but lunch and dinner (leftovers), followed by playing poker has grown rather stale and boring. Every recent holiday I have felt the post-holiday let-down, the sigh of "well it's all over now" and the disappointment of "that's it?" Perhaps my expectations are too high. As I have said before, I am often guilty of not enjoying the moment.

My hope is that when my husband and I have our own children that the spirit and joy of holidays will be renewed, that I will feel refreshed and reinvigorated and excited to celebrate with my own little ones, and that we can create our own family holiday traditions to make it feel special and magical for them.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


As promised earlier this week, I was going to write a post reflecting on my two years of marriage. Finally today I have a little free time to relax and reflect.

It seems ages ago, that fateful day when we met. We met at work. I never thought I would seriously date someone with whom I worked. One summer long ago my high school boyfriend and I had worked in the same factory; since then I had had crushes on co-workers and even went on one or two dates with co-workers, but that was during the time I worked at Sears, not at a full-time, professional job.

So there I was, fresh out of grad school, my second week of work. I didn't have any clients yet, I was in my office reading manuals and really pretty bored. I had met all of my other co-workers during my first week except this guy whose office was across the hall from mine, my new boss told me he was on vacation. So when this mystery guy finally appeared, he was busy and I got glimpses of him taking clients in and out of his office. Tall. Dark hair. Dark eyes. Hmmm. I was interested.

I can't remember now if it was that first day or the next when I boldly and uncharacteristically went over to his office, knocked on the door, and introduced myself. We talked briefly, and I remember him being friendly but surprisingly open and rather blunt. I left his office feeling off balance, like "what just happened?"and "who does this guy think he is?" I wasn't sure if I really liked him or really didn't. I just knew he was different than most any other guy I had ever met.

A friendship developed. We started talking more and more, and then spending time together outside of the office. But I had recently been blown off by another guy who I had been seeing off and on over the past year, and was still focused on that person and those feelings. I opened up to Michael about that guy and realized it was time to let go of that whole emotional baggage and move on. Maybe it was so I could move on to him.

We took a long walk on a humid summer night and talked about so many different things. Some where along the way we admitted growing feelings for each other...and well, the rest is history. Or actually, more accurately, the present.

That was nearly five years ago. Now it is hard to imagine a time we weren't together. I notice sometimes starting to take for granted that I have someone to go to bed with, wake up with, laugh with, cry with, and just share life with. But as I sit and recall the early days of our relationship, a reminder of the time when our lives weren't intertwined, I realize the beauty and blessings of being married. I am guilty of not enjoying every day and thanking God for every day I have been given with my husband, but as I look back, I see how much we've grown, how we've become more understanding, more tolerant. We challenge each other often, we differ, we disagree, but through this is always growth. And of course there is room to grow even more.

Here's to many, many more.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

This past week

Ah, it's been a long, mixed up week. Here's a synopsis of all of the things going on since I last wrote....

*Work--chart audits = stress!! But, thank goodness, the audit was not as bad as I thought it would be. I imagined a workplace full of tension and stress and it seemed fairly normal. But the rest of the week I was dealing with a few client crises and chronically annoying situations that I just need to suck it up and deal with once and for all! However, one night after work I did go out for dinner with some co-workers to Rock Bottom. We vented and exchanged stories about my supervisor (who is unanimously voted as the worst boss in history!) I tried some kind of wheat ale and realized fancy beer isn't my thing (I like an occasional Corona or Bud Lite or Blue Moon.) Either way it was nice to socialize with co-workers, who I am around all the time but we are all so busy it's hard to take time to enjoy each other's company!

*Our Anniversary--Tuesday was my 2nd wedding anniversary. I had planned to write a whole blog reflecting on two years of marriage, and I still plan to, just haven't gotten to it yet. My husband and I went out the weekend before, so the actual anniversary wasn't much of anything special, we both worked late shifts. I had hoped when I got home from work that perhaps my husband might have gotten me flowers (I bought him some candy and a small present), but alas there were none. Flowers are so cliched but don't they just make your day??

*My Mom--For the past few weeks my mom has been undergoing various medical tests. She passed out a few weeks ago and was feeling dizzy, so her doctor wanted to find out why. Now, to explain, my mom is 60 and is in pretty poor overall health. She has a combination of mental and physical health problems so intertwined it's difficult to say what her primary problem is. She's got depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, all of which have lead to ulcers in her stomach and esophagus, leading to acid reflux and more problems eating and digesting food. These problems have been going on as long as I can remember. Over my lifetime, she had a few surgeries to repair the opening of her stomach, which was scarred and irritated, and back in 2003 they removed a majority of her stomach because it was so scarred. I love my mom, but over my entire lifetime I have never really seen her take good care of herself and am accepting that she isn't going to start now. My husband and I went to visit her and my dad this past weekend, and I can't help but starting to emotionally detach from her. This situation has been weighing heavily on my mind, and I feel guilty for feeling this way.

Oh yeah, and it snowed again, and it's April! At least today felt more like spring. But I was spending it at work.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Blue Light Movie Review

I have always secretly wanted to be a movie reviewer. Please who know me would find this interesting and unlikely because I am so un-opinionated. I do have opinions, I just tend to keep them to myself as I am not a great debater so if my opinion is tested or questioned I am likely to fold or concede pretty quickly, so I just keep it to myself. Not the best habit, I admit. I am getting a little better as my husband's family tends to be loud and outspoken so I have to try to talk a little more in order to be heard.

With that said, I am going to critique the movie I Love You, Man, which I saw with my husband yesterday. Two or three weeks ago I hadn't even heard of this movie, then suddenly everywhere there it was, talk of this movie about this new term Bro-mance. I believe my brother-in-law recommended it to us and we were looking for a reason to use our AMC gift card and also to celebrate our upcoming 2 year anniversary. So, we went. And it was definitely worth it!

The movie starts Paul Rudd (always adorable in my book) and Jason Segel of Forgetting Sarah Marshall (and full frontal nudity) fame. Paul Rudd plays Peter, a realtor and straight laced guy who recently is engaged to Zooey. Peter is clearly a wonderful and devoted boyfriend to Zooey, but apparently he has focused so much of his life on being in relationships with girlfriends that he has no real guy friends. Zooey expresses her concern, as she has a tight knit group of girlfriends she clearly tells everything (don't want to spoil it, go see the movie and you will see what I mean). So starts the hilarious search for a new male buddy. I don't want to spoil too much, but Peter goes through many awkward "man dates" with several candidates, none of which seem fitting to be his new best friend. Then enter Sydney (Jason Segel), the guy he meets at an open house. They click and the man dating begins. As might be predicted, Sydney is the anit-Peter; he speaks his mind very frankly and honestly, is astute at reading others, but shys away from committed relationships. They enjoy time bonding in his "man cave" jamming to Rush as Sydney gets Peter to talk honestly about his sex life. Of course their quickly fused friendship suffers some trials and tribulations, and affects Peter's relationship with Zooey, who isn't used to sharing him with anybody. The ending is fairly predictable, but it's more the way we get there that's enjoyable. By the end you really feel the bro-mance that's been so buzzed about and you really feel like you understand how these unlikely two became friends.

The movie has a great balance of humor and heart, likable characters, and realistic situations that make it watchable. I loved the multiple awkward moments in the movie when Peter is rambling gibberish in attempts to be cool (which he just isn't, no matter how hard he tries). Peter's brother (who is gay and likes pursuing straight guys for the chase) is also a funny character, and it's interesting to watch their relationship develop through the movie. Zooey's two best friends are somewhat annoying and one dimensional, but they serve a purpose. Overall, the movie had me laughing out loud and had me and my husband talking afterward about relationships, friendships, and life, so thumbs up for I Love You, Man!