So this is late.  Yesterday was spent laughing with Shoes' family.  Celebrating a sister who felt well enough after Stage 4 Cancer Treatment to come out for dinner.  Celebrating a family gracious enough to cook the entire meal.  Celebrating two little boys (ages 7 and 5) who are starting to play together beautifully and entertain themselves.  (This year, they discovered they loved yams.  And couldn't figure out why we were giving them "candy potatoes".)  Celebrating that I have an extended family so supremely loving that we talked about wedding planning and chaos for the perfect amount of time yesterday.  (Thankful I am "drowning" in their support and well wishes.)

So today, this is my message of gratitude:

"I thank my God always on your behalf." -- 1 Corinthians 1:4.

So thankful for those closest to me right now.

And today, I am working feverishly on a term paper in (a partially sunny??) Seattle while Shoes naps blissfully.  I am surrounded by articles, books and handouts.  I am about to head to the coffee shop for my 2nd cup of coffee.  I will also complete my internship self-evaluation by the end of the day and will think carefully about my performance with my clients, my clinician co workers, and my learning experiences on the mezzo and macro levels.  (I didn't tell you this, but through internship I attended a very interesting roundtable discussion on my agency's finances with the Chief Financial Officer.  I was thoroughly intimidated.  And in a move completely foreign to my nature, I talked up a storm.  And then I received an email from the head of HR asking me to consider sticking around after graduation.) 

I can't shake the busy-ness.  That's not going to change for a good long while.
And I am beginning to fill my cup back up again.  Beginning to remember my skills as a therapist and social advocate.  Remembering my 4.0 graduate GPA has not come without good cause.  Remembering that I know how to sit and be with human beings.  Remembering that people can only know how to support as far as I have the gumption and wisdom to tell them.

That was a scary four weeks of extreme exhaustion empty, lonely, tapped out.

Glad to be back on the loving side of things.
Part Three Already!

*  Thankful for my amazing peppermint mocha this morning and the fact that I'm finally getting a start on my narrative therapy paper.  This is huge!  Apologies for my use of violent language, but I'm gonna' knock this sucker out.  It'll probably take 5 days, but it's finally getting started!

*  Thankful for the fact that I have internship tomorrow and I get to be "in session" with clients for most of the afternoon.  "In Session."  How awesome is that.  (That means the kids and I talk and play and draw and laugh and the parents and I grab every success that happened during the week we can.  I wish everybody could have the humbling experience of working with families.  I.  Love.  It.)

*  Thankful I get to see the nephews NEXT WEEK.  That's a whole lotta' little boy ferociousness coming my way.

*  Thankful that Eliz' Swanky Holiday Party is coming up!  Which reminds me, I should RSVP.  I love holiday parties.  More than what is probably normal.

*  Lastly, I'm thankful that my mom still calls me "sugar britches."  Um, I don't really know how to describe that, but she says it, and it's just the most ridiculous, endearing, I'd only let HER get away with it term.  Love my mom.
the alternate title of this post was a very lengthy list:

why i won't be joining the student walk out
why i did not stop by the Occupy Portland camps
why i used direct praise in session on Monday
why i don't own an I Phone

all things that would be expected of me right now.

i won't be joining the student walk out that's set to happen in 50 minutes.  i will still be at this cafe, eating my lunch.  instead of joining the subsequent march through the park blocks downtown, i will be headed to class and will be turning in my paper. i might be the only one.  i might not.  my professor will probably be there and she might be disappointed that i am there.  i will not be joining the walk out because i don't understand the goal.  as far as i can see,the purpose of the march is to voice extreme frustration for the out of control tuition hikes and the fact that you cannot get a good paying job without a college degree (some would argue at least a Master's), but it's getting harder and harder (almost impossible) to pay for said degree.  i agree with all of these points.  it's the part where somebody connects a walk out and march to effectively sending a message to our lawmakers that i myself am not connecting with.  this walk out and march are passionate and involved and i fully, 10,000% support the students' right to do this.  i certainly connect with their fury over the cost of a decent education.  but we, who are adults and in graduate school, and are counselors and attorneys (those came first to mind b/c that is the position that Shoes and I are in) and holding a fair amount of social capital, WE are the ones who should be changing the laws.  WE should be breaking down the doors of our congressmen, demanding change, withholding our votes. WE are at about the age where WE ourselves should be running for city, county and state positions.  maybe that makes me a bad social advocate.  or maybe i just choose to advocate differently.  (this, of course, would be countered by those who state we have to re-claim power, shake up the system and not do things the way we have always been doing them.  i respect that.)

i did not stop by the Occupy Portland camp.  i did not attend, as a support/spectator, the deadline of 12:01 Sunday morning for the Occupiers to leave camp.  i fully respect their passion and their willingness to camp for 5 weeks in the damp, Portland rain.  my heart aches for the homeless and mentally ill that settled in so naturally, finally having a community and a (relatively) safe place to stay.  but, again, i'm having problems connecting how a large group of people camping downtown is something Wall Street cares about.  and i am so very open to hearing more about the connection, if anybody can shed some light on it.

i used direct praise in session on Monday.  after externalizing the problem, eliciting strengths and feedback, and looking into the eyes of a still very bewildered, very exhausted parent, I said, "You're trying as hard as you can and doing the best that you can.  Good job."  i don't have the right to tell parents if they're doing a good job or not.  only they can decide that for themselves.  but in a moment where i saw total and utter confusion, i stood in the gap and told a parent (metaphorically), "now is the time to trust yourself."  conventional / theoretical wisdom gave way to being in the moment with a human being.

i do not own an I Phone.  in a time where every professional i know has one, i do not. i think i would very much like to, but i do not because i cannot afford one and am unwilling to pay for something outside of my financial means.  the phone i do have is sad, but because i can afford it, i choose to love it.  it's the underdog.  the little engine that could.  i have dropped it several times (including once in the toilet) and it still keeps on keeping on.  it's loyal.

all this to say, there are things that are expected of us.
as a woman with christian beliefs, i am expected to hold conservative political beliefs and traditional family values.  i don't.
as a gssw student at a liberal university, it is expected that i jump on board with this walk out.  i'm not jumping on board.
as a 33 year old, short of the middle class woman in contemporary culture, it is expected that i use something other than a horribly beat up samsung phone.  i'm not. and i'm also driving an old toyota hand me down that's not even mine.
all this to say, i am happy with myself for being able to see what's expected of me and still be able to make a choice about what i'm going to do.

is there something you're struggling with?  something you're expected to do?  how will you make your decision?  what do you trust most?
In the crazy that is my life, I'm finding that this process of slowing down and purposefully looking for things that I am truly grateful for is helping create a new narrative in my life ... one that is most decidedly outside the "stressed, tired, overwhelmed graduate student" narrative.

And if that sounded counsel-y ... it was. ;)

1.  Grateful for my crazy, extended, very, very, very large family, that stretches me and grows me and, truthfully guys, although sometimes I think you're crazy (and sometimes I think I'M crazy), when all is said and done, there's a lot of love and a LOT of, "We might  not know exactly what we're doing, but we've sure got a lot of stick to it-ness in us."

2.  Grateful for my soon to be new family through Shoes.  What a loving, accepting, wild lot they are.  Especially thankful for the young nieces and nephews, with their crashing, wild abandon love and positive energy.

3.  I'm thankful for the kids I'm working professionally with right now and all they are teaching me about Bravery and Forgiveness.

4.  Thankful for difficult conversations I'm having with clients right now about racism and oppression with my clients.  Thankful that I am figuring out (it'll be a long process) how to identify in session that Portland can be  a racist city and figuring out how to invite open and honest feedback on the therapeutic relationship (especially if I do or say something, as a Caucasian therapist, that feels racist or demeaning).  Thankful that the response so far from clients has been overwhelmingly positive.  I might make a longer post out of this for a later time.

5.  Thankful for the support of so many during the crazy that is planning a traditional wedding.  Thankful that so many big details have already been worked out.  Thankful I get to take my hoped-for break from the planning until Winter Break.

6.  I am especially thankful for the deliciousness that is Pirate's Booty.  O, little puffs, how I love to love you.
Me:  "I think about it all the time and it makes me so nervous.  The private sector is hiring slowly now, but the public sector is still getting hit.  BIG TIME."

Shoes:  "Didn't you tell me all of your friends who graduated in the Spring have found jobs?"

Me:  "Yeah, but, we'll have one more year of yucky economy by the time I graduate and the cuts are coming fast and hard."

Shoes:  " 'Yucky economy?'  Technical term?  I know you love the public sector, babe."

Me:  "Yeah, and I have to pay my student loans back or I'll go to PRISON."

Shoes:  "Uhhh ... "

Me:  "Will you stay married to me if I go to PRISON?"

Shoes:  "Yeah, I think so.  But you should probably concentrate first on, you know, eating dinner.  Then  maybe some sleep would be good ... "
I can be a master.  Most of the time I can be an adult and suck it up, but sometimes, as you can clearly read in my last post!, I lose it.

My dear friend has invited all to take part in Thankful Thursdays.  I know you've seen just about every variation of this there is (30 days of thankfulness, etc.).  It's just simply one of those.  I have no lofty ideas that I'll be able to get to 30 things I'm thankful for (because, as I told her, I'm scattered, sleepy and random -- not because I don't have 30 things to be thankful for), but I figured ...

... I can at least be thankful for one thing on a Thursday.  And Thursdays just happen to be my only non 14 hour day during the week.

There's a principle, as well, of specificity here.  We owe it to ourselves to be specific with ourselves and with others:  with what we want, what we need, what we dream for, what we hope for.  So as hard as things are right now for me, it's a good thing for me to get specific about the things that are going well.  Or not going well, but I see the bigger lesson.

So, here's today's:

1.  I'm thankful that it IS Thursday and I had a chance to breathe deeply on a semi Sunny, beautifully fall Portland afternoon.

2.  So thankful for my Shoes.  So, so thankful for this incredible human being who challenges me and loves unconditionally and knows, without asking any questions, exactly what type of emotion I'm feeling (he can even differentiate between different types of tears now, since I cry at everything).

3.  Afternoon texts from my friend Elizabeth.  Almost without fail, she sends me something about her day that grounds me and brings me back to the real world.  (Also thankful she's not offended if I don't text back.  She gets it.)

4.  My divorce 4 years ago.  That's kind of a funny one, right?  That was a terrible time, but I think about how much I've grown as a person and how much more I know about myself and the nature of God ... and it's a little hard for me to imagine this exponential growth happening in any other context.  I'm also thankful to be Biblically free of such a toxic relationship, and I'm thankful that I'm at the place now where I actually consciously wish good things for the former spouse.

5.  My goddaughter, Rebekah, and all of the ridiculous and funny and loving faces she makes and things she does.  Oh, how deeply I love this little girl.

And that is all I've got for right now, and I'm thankful I'm ok with that.
I just googled it.

They do.

I'm doing things like leaving the milk out.   Not remembering where I put the pistachios.  Starting the Keurig without the cup underneath it.  Washing the same clothes twice.  Losing my keys when they're in my hand.  Reading an article and the next day be unable to discuss it in class because I don't remember a thing in it.

I said an internal cuss word when somebody laughed and said, "You don't know tired until you've had kids" but thankfully managed to not respond otherwise.

You don't know I don't like invalidating statements like that.

My 14 hour days and little sleep at night (because I wake up multiple times already in the process of thinking about how I can change a paper, a new intervention to try with one of my clients, an email I forgot to send ...

... and suicidal grade school children ....)

 .... these things guarantee that I do truly know what being tired is.

Yesterday my co-intern looked at me, bewildered, and said, "Why do I feel like graduate school is causing me to approach everything in my life with half the effort I would normally put forth?"

Because it is, darling.  And we are doing the best we can.  Because there is not enough in any one person to approach their partners, families, jobs, internships, classes, research (we all have these) with 100% effort.   All those things don't add up to 100%.

So I don't return phone calls.  Or texts.  Or emails.  I do homework on a sidewalk on my HP Mini if given any 15 minute time frame.  If given 10 minutes to myself, I disappear into an other-worldly zone where I stare off into space.   Taking care of myself is missing right now somewhere in the tornado of school, no sleep, work, Easy Mac and Starbuck's Coffee.

I take deep breaths.  And am thankful for the things I can control.  (Like what shoes I am going to wear that day.  Good thing my shoes don't need to be washed.)  I send gratitude out for the smallest of successes and rejoice in the loveliness that is a healing kid.  I send funny texts to Shoes about almost stepping in the pee of a urinating homeless man on the street (he was hiding the process with a blanket, for which I am thankful).  I gather support from anywhere I can take it.

I'm a bit of a support addict right now.  I went through a phase where I was bitterly disappointed that people I am close to don't ask how it's going or how school is, but then realized how much energy that was costing me and gathered my supportive people to me all the more closely (they're probably feeling suffocated right now.)   Somebody once told me that that's one of the costs of being a high performing overachiever.  You do so well people don't think you need the tender love messages that are concerns for your well being.

But listen to me ramble.  That's also part of the exhaustion.  And now, there's no more time to ramble.  I had 15 minutes; I chose to use it on this post that probably makes no sense.  Now, it is off to the ADHD lab to conduct clinical interviews with families.

Cause it doesn't stop.

It's all lovely, but it doesn't stop.

Correction:  the homeless guy's pee was not so lovely.