The town shuts down.   Shoes and I tried to have dinner out last night; we hit five restaurants in a row that were all closed.

There's nobody at the grocery store.
Or Starbucks.
Or the gas station.

This is what it's like when a town of 10,000 all year residents says goodbye to 20,000 students for the winter break.

But it's not all bad.  Shoes and I move easily from family member to family mber's house for the holiday.  I have hardly any appointments on my schedule for next week.  I have the chance to have s leisurely conversation with Jen at the yarn store about why my cowl is bunching up.

We're settling in, which is odd.  But welcome, too.  It's time.
And I think my body is tired of my sometimes-yoga-sometimes-not shenanigans.  

It was a tough practice this morning.  Slippery balance, diminished strength, and a Retriever who head butted me in triangle because she needs all the love.

How do I commit more to this?  Where are the free minutes?  Do I need to be waking up earlier?  Doing it at lunch?

My work has a wellness benefit that basically paid for a couple months at the yoga studio, which helps as we need to buy a new furnace and as we move towards adoption (lots to update on this blog.)

I just miss the quiet of the practice and the internal focus, you know?  Not quite sure how to get where I'd like to be.

... With the tree.  Until she decided to eat it in front of me.
And, it's plastic.
Geez dog.
... Of delightful kid clients scheduled, and while I love their play and imaginations and journeying with them to healing, I also just keep thinking about how fantastic it would be to be at home, addressing Christmas cards, or packing for our yearly vineyard town getaway, or knitting ...

And other Rosie the Dog happenings.

She's our love.  And our headache.  Mischevious and loving and naughty and snuggly.  
You know ...
one of those fall days when all pieces fit together and it's peaceful and fulfilling and quiet.
Nothing even really happened worth note.

Shoes took The Rosie on a morning walk, in which she met a 10year old friend, who gave her loves and pets.  And then The Rosie, because she is our sweet natured Rosie, slowly closed her eyes, tipped back onto her hindquarters, smiled and gave the 10year old a hug.
Rosie gives amazing hugs.

We walked to the University for the game.
And met up with dear friends, where, I must admit, the other wife and I hugged each other and shared tears and love about the difficulty of having children and adoption possibilities.
We watched our Hot Mess of fellow Season Ticket Holder Howie (we always end up sitting in Howie's section every year) take his shirt off and almost get asked to leave the game.
Oh, Howie.

On the way home, Shoes and I walked slowly, holding each other carefully.
And spoke softly about our jobs and our dog and how much we truly love our life.
We also talked about Title IX, as we are wont to do after football games, debating good naturedly and sometimes heatedly with laughter and choice words and you know what?  I am so grateful for him.

Today, I'm trying to stay centered in today.  In this.  In right now.
What my brain would like to do is jump to tomorrow and the next day and next week (I am a little intimidated by next week's schedule and the level of crises some of my families are going through right now ...)
But that doesn't help.
And it takes away from the fact that Rosie is snoozing (and snoring) peacefully on my feet.  It takes away from the afternoon plans Shoes and I have.   It even takes away from my own small pleasure of planning our weekly meals and meandering slowly through the grocery store.

This staying present is one of the hardest things, you guys.  Turns out I am really terrible at it.
But it also turns out that I am a more gentle, loving and calm person when I'm practicing at it.
Funny how that works.

No.  It was eight days of vomiting and nausea, but only in the evening, but I did not die.

On Sunday afternoon I wore my Athleta headband directly on my forehead because the stupid thing won't stay where it's supposed to.  Shoes took one look at me and said, "What the *expletive* are you wearing?"  Instead of launching into a soliloquy as to why sports headbands for women could be the stupidest invention imaginable as none of them actually stay on my head, I said instead, "I'm Rambo!  I'm Rambo!  I'm Rambo!" and ran around the house.

Just feeling better I suppose.  Grateful the flu was gone.  Grateful I wasn't nauseous.  Grateful for energy.  I had a feeling, despite what the on call doc had said, that it wasn't the good news we are waiting for.

And it's not.  We are not expecting.

In the middle of the-only-have-the-flu-at-night, I had the first appointment with our fertility doc.  I like this doc, you guys.  A lot.  But we had to talk about some Serious Things.  Namely, I had to talk in detail about the testing Former Husband and I completed when we tried to have a baby, unsuccessfully-but-thank-the -LORD-for-that, in 2007. It brought up a flood of memories I didn't realize I still had.  (None of them all that pleasant, by the way.)

You want to know something?

Even though I knew, really, that what I had was the flu, there was still a part of me that was holding hope against hope that some miracle had happened and I had miraculously developed morning sickness ... at week 3.  (Right.  I know.)

This isn't just Shoes and I trying for 6 months at the age of 36.
THIS is added to the period before which had much more invasive fertility testing.  This is not new for me.    When confirmation came that Shoes and I were not expecting this past week, the lack of pregnancy felt different this time.  I think, due to the long conversation I had with the doc about my previous marriage, this felt ... compounded.  It felt bigger.

So much bigger.
So much deeper.

I had a little breakdown, you guys.  Shoes and I sat on the bed and talked and didn't talk and talked some more while I wept.

But here's the bottom line:  Other than one more test we could do right now, unless we wanted to skip to IUI or IVF, there's nothing more we can do (other than try conventionally.)  (We have decided that IUI and IVF are not the paths for us.)  The doc told me what the acupuncturist told me:  You're doing as much as you can do.

Something shifted this weekend.  Our hearts are still in this, deeply, but I need to make some changes in my spirit.

I know this sounds very ... therapist-y ... but I wrote myself a little love letter.  And I wept the entire gosh darned time.  In it, I gave myself permission to let go.  I told myself my life means more that constant data checking and symptom checking and symptom OVER ANALYZING.   I reminded myself that while I put all of my energy and spare time into pouring over Google Forums and threads and whatever the *&*(%$# else is on the Internet, I get almost nothing in return.  No peace of mind.  No sound advice.   Just more worry.

I am missing out on the wholeness that is my life.
Even my OB told me to quit charting.  Full disclosure:  I'm not going to do that.  But I wrote a note to myself and posted it on the computer that read, "NO FORUMS."  And I wrote myself out a little plan for when I feel tempted to over analyze and would most likely sucked into the Hell that is Google.  There's a lot of things on that list.
Worrying about this is not one of them.

And while this is all good and healthy and practices faith and trust, and loving kindness to myself, something else happens with that too.  The hurt becomes a little more protected and a little more private.  I'm not sure that's something I can explain, but I feel myself moving into a place of reluctance to talk about this when people ask outright.

After having to talk again about the full extent of this journey, ranging back to 2007, I do not want to talk about it anymore.  In person, anyway.

I used to take people's questions and (let's be honest - ridiculous) advice in love.  I'm reluctant right now, especially after some less than understanding exchanges this weekend, to talk about it with people face to face at all.  Logically, I know people don't understand what it's like to just not have this happen over and over again.  Logically, I know that *this* is not the world's biggest struggle.  However, in this moment, it is *my* struggle.  And it is scary.  And exhausting.  And the safest thing right now to me feels like to keep it, at least in regards to face to face conversations with others, to Shoes and myself.  (But the Internet offers alllllll kinds of fake anonymity, right? Suffice it to say there will be more posts about this as the Internet is not quite real life in many aspects.)

So this past week?
I did not die from the flu.
I watched too much daytime TV.
I received all the Rosie snuggles.
And I started to look fear in the eye a little bit.
And I realized, or at least started to realize, how much I have not been honoring the wholeness of this life.

(I have not read a forum or thread in three days.  It feels better.  No amount of pineapple core / bromelain is going to make me feel better about this process anyway ... it will always be something else.  I don't want to miss out on what's right here, right now as we move forward to what might be.)
I have been down for the count for 7 days.
I have no idea what's going on in this body.  I do know it's not a baby.
That just makes it a bug without a purpose, as far as I'm concerned.
Also, because this weekend is the Coug's bye weekend, Shoes and I had planned to go back to Portland for the weekend and see friends we miss dearly and visit the city we kind of maybe wish we hadn't left.
That, of course, is no longer the plan.
Stupid stomach bug without a purpose.

I've yo yo'd in between home and work this past week.    I feel good in the mornings, by mid afternoon by stomach starts hurting and by late night I'm in severe pain with other symptoms.  I thought my supervisor yesterday was going to lose it when I kept telling her I had just one more thing to do before I went home.  (Really, my work boundaries are getting much better.  I have a few families in crisis right now, though, with little coverage options, which makes not being at work a  little difficult.)

I went to Urgent Care on Tuesday, because, even though I'm 36 and we've lived here for 2 years I'm slightly juvenile and irresponsible and still haven't established care with a PCP.  The doc on call said, "Eh, you're either pregnant or you have The Bug.  You're fine to go back to work."

Extremely helpful.

I'm tired of home.  Tired of my bed.  Tired of reading.  Tired of social media.  Tired of daytime TV.  (When I watch TV, I catch myself thinking things like, "What do you mean Jwoww and Snookie and Janelle and Kim K can have babies and I can't; That makes zero sense ...."   Then I have to remind myself that those thoughts help nobody and it doesn't matter who's having babies and who isn't.)

Tired of my stomach hurting.

Not tired of the Rosie snuggles.  She's been a steady, constant companion, often choosing to lay her 75lb dog fluff directly on me, or choosing to snuggle her dog nose into my neck.   Every time I'm really not feeling well she brings me her favorite stuffed octopus, which is extremely endearing and also disgusting because that octopus is really very extremely dirty.

Not tired of Shoes, who has gone out to buy Saltines and more Saltine and Gatorade and more Gatorade and lies down next to me and continually asks me what I need.  How did I get so lucky to have him, you guys?  I look at him and I remember just two years ago when all I could think was, "Our long distance is going to end soon and then we get to have a normal relationship where we see each other every day."  He's a good one.

So today I'm at home, orders of my outpatient clinic, who are alarmed by my pasty pallor.  (look guys, it's just a product of having no food energy for several days ...)  I'm going to crack open "Play Therapy With Children in Crisis" (which I really have been wanting to read.)  I'm going to start planning next Spring's garden (when else am I going to have this kind of time?)  Shoes and I are re-arranging / redecorating the bedrooms in our house to make symbolic / spiritual / metaphorical room for a child; I'll probably start looking for paint colors.

And just continue to believe that whatever this stupid bug is it's not serious and will leave soon.
(I did schedule a real appointment with a doctor for next Tuesday to talk about the stomach issues and to establish care with a PCP.  I am a grown up, in the end.  I'm just a grown up who's tired of Super Bug.)


Because I'm sick.  At home.  Probably not with Ebola, but oh man.  Whatever this is has a powerful punch.  Somewhere around 8:00 I rolled out of my bed and onto my couch and thought to myself, "This would be a good morning to try to watch The Shining all the way through."  (Don't ask - I'm blaming the fever.)  I haven't yet watched it entirely, despite many years of trying, because I am truly terrible with scary movies.

It didn't work.  Eyes shielded.  I can't stand the woman in the bathtub or the last portion of the movie where Danny is silent screaming constantly.  Also, in the book, didn't the head chef LIVE?  Why would you kill off that character??

Around 10:00 my best friend texted me pictures from the pumpkin patch with my goddaughter.  That made me a little sad that we live so far away and I can't be part of those things in person.

And around 11:00, the OB's office called to remind me that my first fertility appointment is this Tuesday.

All the thoughts about that.  That phone call lead me down a spiral of thinking about the path we've taken so far to start our family and how many things we do during the month to try to make this as successful as possible.

It has taken over our lives.

It's worth it, don't get me wrong, but good night.  It's a lot.

From the charting to the 15 supplements a day to the teas to the massage therapy to the acupuncture to the eating pineapple cores to the over analyzing everything and falling down the awful hell that is Google to the limiting drinking wine to 5 specific days to the full 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day to the keeping my feet warm always (one of my closest friends is Chinese and says I have to do this) to the fertility yoga to the daily foot soaks to open my meridians .... It doesn't really stop.

My acupuncturist fired me this week, you guys.  It was kind of a jolt to my ego and my first thought was, "Why would you fire me?  I'm like, the world's BEST PATIENT.  I DO ALL OF MY HOMEWORK!!!"  And that's basically what she said.  Actually, here's what she said:  Usually she asks fertility patients to do acupuncture and TCM for two months before trying to conceive, but she make an "exception" with me because we have been trying for awhile and charting for awhile.  Then she said, "You're doing everything right.  You need to rest in that and keep doing that and just go to your upcoming appt. with the OB.  If you want to keep coming in, we'll work on your shoulder and allergies."

So we have this upcoming appointment, and I'm nervous.  I'm nervous about what he's going to say.  Nervous about the testing.  Getting triggered from when I did this before with the Former Husband.   We're hoping for some answers and some direction in these upcoming weeks.

Also, I'm really hoping this fever goes away soon.
I'm also hoping the Cougs win tonight.
One of these things is more likely than the others.
I wish I could drink a glass of wine tonight.

... Maybe this second part should be titled, instead, "Why therapy might not be working...."

It's a sticky situation I'm about to describe.  And when I tell you this, please know that there's no judgment on part.  Things just are what they are.

Sometimes we think therapy is a good idea.  Sometimes we recognize our own distress and make that initial phone call to a counselor, complete our first session, and get started.   But therapy is a funny thing.  Therapy can be validating, affirming, life changing and challenging in all the best ways.

Therapy is also a lot of work.  We usually don't go to therapy because things are going swimmingly well.    There's discomfort.  Dis-ease.  Something isn't working.

And maybe for some people, the simple act of sitting down and talking to somebody helps.  Eases distressing thoughts and emotions.  Is enough.  That's not usually the case though.   Therapists have different views on this, but my own is that therapy is a place where we come to be validated (yes and absolutely), but it is also a place where we come to change.  Change takes work. We learn new skills.  New ways of being.  New thoughts and new ways of thinking.  New coping strategies.  Change requires we are vulnerable enough to talk about what is going well ... and what it is not.  Change requires practice during the week.  It requires therapeutic homework.  It requires being in an emotional place where you're ready to try something new ....

It is work.
(Good work, and it does work, but still work.)

I once had a very, very, very irate client tell me that this "Bullshit therapy isn't working at all."  (There were more choice words than that, but you get the idea.)  This client had come to three therapy sessions.

Change usually takes more time than three weeks, loves.

So we can say we need therapy, right?  We can make that call, come to counseling, and sit in the chair. But sometimes we're just not ready to do the work - sometimes for very understandable reasons.  (And there is no prescription for that.  That's up to clients and their providers.  It might work to keep going.  It also might work to break for awhile.  That's not my place to decide.)

Look.  A little bit of self disclosure and honesty here?  After the Big Divorce in 2007 I saw a counselor for about a year and a half.  And it helped some.  But I held back.  A lot.  I held back a lot because this counselor and I were part of the same faith community and I was having some very big faith doubts I didn't feel like I could be honest about.  It's not that counseling in that season of my life wasn't helpful, but it really was nowhere near as helpful as I could have made it.  (My own answer should have been to probably establish care with a different clinician.  I was afraid of hurting the counselor's feelings.  It wasn't a very healthy person / clinician relationship.)  All this to say, I've been there.  Counseling seemed like a good idea, but I wasn't as invested as would have been most helpful.


Your comments in the last post were lovely reminders that sometimes we need friends.  Sometimes we need people who are going to sit with us, laugh with us and cry with us.  Sometimes we don't need a professional's clinical tools .... we need somebody who, as Eliz! put it, has been where we've been.  I've been there, too.  The fluttery feeling of solidarity and recognition that happens when we find someone who really understands us ... is gold.  It's not that counselors cannot provide that, but counselors should probably not engage in high levels of self disclosure.  Right now, in this season, I am more replenished from talking to someone who has been through a divorce, or grad school, or fertility problems (my own examples.)

So.  Where does that leave us?
Counseling can be amazing.  It truly can.  I wish I could go into detail about the almost spiritual moments that have happened in my office.   I've seen it work many, many, many times (and "working" by the client's definition.)  Sometimes it really doesn't ever take off.  And that can be ok, too.

I guess my ending for these last two posts would be this:
An admonishment in love to take care of yourself.
If you take care of yourself in therapy, then fantastic.  (I love being a therapist; it can be magical; I get it.)
And if there are other ways to take care of yourself, ok.  Do coffee with your friends.  Do yoga.  Do roller derby.  Do your poetry group.  Do Crossfit.  Do it.  But do something.

(Additionally, as I'm wrapping this up, as a community outpatient mental health provider, I'm having reminder thoughts that some of us are mandated to therapy through different court systems.   As a reminder to us all, I am not giving clinical advice to anybody in this moment; rather, I am exploring thoughts on therapeutic possibilities.   If you have a court order to attend therapy, take medication, etc, or are currently in care with a clinician and these things are part of your treatment recommendation, please follow through.   Please take care of yourself in these ways.)

Part 1.

Do you  guys hear this being thrown around?:

"They / he / she need therapy."
"They / he / she just need counseling."
"I hope they get him into counseling soon."

So.  Sometimes that's true.  Sometimes there are life events, or mood disorders, or family relationships, etc. that affect a person to the point that counseling - the opportunity to receive professional help in establishing new ways of thinking and new coping strategies (That's the abridged definition) - can be extremely helpful.  

Here's what's also true.  Sometimes hard things happen and people find ways to cope without needing therapy.  In the case of bereavement, for example, feelings of loss and grief might be extremely painful, but experiencing difficult emotions does not always mean you need counseling.  Sometimes allowing ourselves to experience painful emotions is the best thing we can do ... because we're allowing ourselves to feel and to move through it.  (Am I saying that nobody experiencing bereavement should seek out counseling?  Nope.  I'm just saying it's not always an automatic.)

I just got back from my hairstylist.  Good night sometimes she drives me crazy.  I was talking to her about how uninspired I am with my hair (this is a daily feeling for me), which somehow lead to me briefly mentioning that I was grumpy today.  Grumpy with my hair.  Grumpy that I have to drive 2.5 hours to a wedding reception tonight by myself as Shoes is in Utah for the away game.  Then she asked how "working on your family's little addition" was going and I simply stated I was grumpy about that too.

Well, I am.

Then she said, "Are you in therapy?"

Dear hearts.  Please do not ask people you don't really know very well this question.
It is RUDE.  And deeply personal.  (I also think we should let go of the stigma around seeking out mental health help.  But still.)

I stated I was not, and she said, "Well, I think you should be."
For what?
For being grumpy that my hair is alternatively a greasy / frizzy mess?  I think grumpiness is an appropriate response to that.
For being grumpy that I have to go to a wedding reception where I might not know anybody?
That's normal too.
And being grumpy that we're delayed in our family plans?  HA!  Grumpy is a MUCH preferred alternative to any number of things I could meet that with.

(Now, I should be in therapy because I'm a therapist, and it's standard practice for us to be so, but turns out I'm having a hard time finding a therapist who doesn't know me or my spouse's family in this tiny rural town....)

All this to say is that counseling is not always the answer, and sometimes we can find answers within us, or in our support systems, or our friends and family.   Or Jesus or God or Allah or Nature or Art or Yoga or Marathons or ....  (We know more than we think we know and can do better than we think we can do ...)

Sometimes counseling is most definitely the answer, but here's a little nugget about that as well.

Sitting in a counselor's chair / regularly attending therapy does not mean you're going to experience relief from negative symptoms or an increase in positive symptoms.


Well, that's Part 2 of this post, which is forthcoming ...
Sometimes when people are trying to start their family, it seems like everybody around them experiences the success they so ardently hope for.

Seriously.  If you're trying to conceive, be my friend.  You will turn into a powerhouse of a baby maker.  This week alone, two of my dearest friends and two of the interns at work announced their happy news.

Now mind you; in this next part, both things are true.  
1:  I am genuinely elated for these sweet souls.  They will be truly amazing parents.
2:  I can't help but me reminded of my own current misadventures, which honestly brings a bit of grief.  I am no less happy for my friends.  I am no less in grief for myself.

I was sharing this last night with Shoes as he read the paper.  He looked up at me over his glasses and said,  "It sounds like you hear the old western music when the two gunslingers arrive in town and meet at high noon coming from your body."

"Think of it more like a Carpenter's song.  That's what it's singing."

(A little speechless then to hear my pragmatist husband talking about ... My uterus' soundtrack?)

When I asked him what Carpenter's song, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't even know.  This conversation is weird enough."

Indeed it was.  Shoes is one of the most logical, level headed people I know.  I don't think our close non internet friends would believe he was talking about the song of my uterus.

I did a quick google search and this is the first Carpenter's song to come up.  Well.   At least it's better than "The good, the bad and the ugly."

Shoes and I have decided it's time for some sort of kid to  live in our house.  Actually, we decided this awhile ago, but with the old job, the changes this year, etc., it's only been in the past few months we've really been able to focus in on what this means.

Good Lord, what does this mean??

Well.  Honestly.  We're not really sure.  As of right now, we're going about this natural way, but when you're 36, the natural way reveals things about an aging female body.  Sometimes it reveals things that are slightly worrisome and come with all sorts of connotations.  In our case, we're still optimistic that things can be leveled out, and with the force of several supplements, we're moving forward.  (Many, many thanks to my dear friend B., who has termed this season in my life "reproductive misadventures."   I love that.  It makes it workable.  To me, that might mean that I read the map upside down and my luggage got lost in baggage claim, but there's still hope I can hitchhike back to down and the airline will contact me at some point.)

But there's still that question if it will work, right?  On top of the question, Shoes and I have always held adoption closely to our hearts.   We almost started the adoption process before trying to have our own; we've both had personal circumstances and jobs in which we've seen the ardent need for children to be placed with families who are in it for the long haul.

We're in it for the long haul.

Fostering, however, we're not interested in.  I realize that might sound calloused, but in this very, very small rural town, I would prefer to not have my community partners coming by my home at a moment's notice for 30 day face to face checks.  There's too much togetherness there, and I am far too opinionated.  Sometimes I agree with the Children's Administration.  Sometimes I bluntly and unapologetically don't.  But I have to have weekly meetings with those folks.  Shoes and I have agreed this is better left alone, for the sake of working relationships.

Kids.  We think we know what that means.  I think I know what that means.  Deep down, we know we have no idea what this means.  And we're ready for that, you know?  We had to come to a place where we were able to look that question dead in the eye and answer quietly, I don't know, but we stand in a place of faith and quiet confidence.

Also, when you get ready to have a family?  Holy moly, the free advice starts flowing like thick molasses.  I have heard Everything.  EVERY magic trick that GUARANTEES success.  And while I receive the advice in love (because I choose to believe that that was the spirit from which it was intended ...  MOST of the time), it becomes very overwhelming very quickly if left unchecked.

But don't worry, I'm checking it.  And letting go of worry.  And putting aside My Ultimate Plan.  One way or the other, it will happen, and Shoes and I will grow our family.  Rosie will have a human sibling.  We'll take family vacations to cheesy resorts.  We'll stay up all night with sick kids.  All of it.  

All the Everythings.
One full month at the new job.

I am no longer waking up at 4:00 in the morning, worrying about paperwork, clients and children at risk, or how much laundry is piling up downstairs.  I am not waking up at 6:00 in the morning on weekends out of a feeling of obligation, worried that I won't get everything done.  I am not bringing paperwork home with me (although that might be temporary and due to a lull in my caseload.)

I have responded to my first crisis call in the ER with this job.  I had backup.  I had a beautifully understanding ER doc and ER nurse.  I was paid appropriately for this wee-hours-of-the-morning-overtime.

And so now, in the past couple of weeks, I have noticed my attention starting to focus on non work related items.  I read a book.  For fun.  For fun, I read a book.  It had nothing to do with kids in distress, abuse or trauma.  It was lovely.  Shoes and I harvested a healthy crop of green beans and sat around the kitchen, munching on their crisp, earthy goodness, talking about how chunky Rosie is getting.  We have taken Rosie the Retriever swimming many times (as I no longer have to worry about being within cell phone range and, let's be honest, anything 5 minutes outside of town falls out of cell phone range.)

I signed up for yoga again.  And started exercising again.  And finally scheduled a facial for which I'd been given a gift card for AGES ago.

Also, we're going to Italy (I'm still good at non sequiturs, huh?), and it is one very lovely thing to look forward to and plan. Shoes' mom had 90 bajillion airline miles that had to be used; we're all going together.  This plan came together very quickly (so quickly it made me nervous - this planner likes to move slowly) and in a week we've booked the tickets, arranged for time off, applied for passports and arranged for Rosie's house-sitter (my MOM - who offered to come up from Central Oregon!).

I've also downloaded basic language learning software and have been plugging away nightly.  I'm not sure how useful knowing the plural forms for feminine and masculine nouns will be when I'm trying to order a glass of wine (unless I'm ordering several glasses of wine?), but it's fascinating none the less.

Today, I'm not sure what's on the docket.  Cleaning up the Rosie hair from the hardwood, no doubt.  Maybe building the compost bin.  The argula needs to be weeded as well.  Or maybe not.  Maybe I'll just watch movies all day.  I'm starting to feel like *I'm* finally in charge of my time off.
I am having to learn how to be a DMHP all over again.  And it is exhausting.  (read: the person who acts as an arm of the superior court to make decisions as to involuntarily detaining patients to psychiatric beds.)

A week before my wedding in 2012,  literally the week before my wedding, I was at a DMHP week long training in the city.  And then I went back to the community in which I was working, and the coursework did not transfer over to any practical skills.  O, how I just dreaded, dreaded, dreaded crisis work in the previous community.

For propriety's sake (and o, my word, is it difficult to be in a place where I observe any propriety), I'll refrain from going into why they skills did not transfer over.  That county just did things that county's way.

So now, while I am building up my child and family caseload at the New Clinic, I am being trained again in DMHP work, because I will be expected to take crisis shifts 3 to 4 nights a month.  There is always a sliver of worry that pierces my spine when the crisis calls come - hard and sharp and automatic.

I am slowly learning that the New Clinic's way of doing crisis is so different from the Old Clinic (and we're talking the job before my last one, folks.  Two jobs ago) that it shouldn't even have the same name.  I'm learning.  Learning how to trust my clinical skills.  Learning to trust that help will actually be there.  Learning that I *can* make sound clinical decisions that serve my patients' best interests.

Slowly learning that crisis calls don't have to be spears of fear.

I'm grateful for that.  It's a slow gratefulness, but gratefulness none the less.

The head crisis worker at the New Clinic has been training me carefully.  He is a quiet, gentle, seasoned veteran, and he continually asks me quietly, "What do you make of this?"  "What do you think about (something)?" "What could this be from?"  And then when I hesitate or apologize for thoughts he quietly says, "I like your line of thinking" or "Go on with that thought a little further."

And this is where we get all Mufasa lifting Simba to the sun.

My MIL was a clinical psychologist in the area for years.  Head of mental health, retired now for a bit.  Next state over, but the same geographical region as where we all live now.  The Head Crisis Worker at the New Agency actually worked under my MIL for a long time.  (That's how it goes in small towns.)  Today Head Crisis Worker and I responded to a particularly sticky crisis call at the ICU.

As he was writing his final documentation (and we had been there for hours, my stomach grumbling and my head swimming from information), he started chuckling, looked up at me over his glasses and said,  "I find it ironic that as I'm writing this, I'm very much remembering things I learned from (my MIL)."

It's all in the family, I guess.

Look, folks.  All I really want to do is get back to providing child and family therapy.  But if this is what has to happen as part of this package deal, as long as it looks like this and has this type of support, and as long as I'm surrounded by clinicians who are in this for the patient's best interest, I think I can stick this out.  Being an Every Person with Other Duties As Assigned is part of working rural community outpatient health.  I wasn't prepared for that at first.  I think I'm getting closer to that point.
July 12, 2014 ~ Captain's exploration log.

This new clinic is a foreign, bewildering place of hot tea, water features and piped in music.  The inhabitants claim to be rural community outpatient mental health, but I continue to look for signs of proof to this claim.  Upon arrival, the presiding therapists came out of their offices and while I presumed their first, most pressing question for me would be "When are you going to take your first crisis shift?," they most confusedly instead asked me my name.  Additional observation needed; we don't appear to be speaking the same language.

Seriously, though.  Where *am* I?

Maybe it's because this clinic is actually in the town with the PAC12 University.  Maybe it's because of some vision somebody had ages ago to buck all stereotypes of rural community outpatient mental health.  Maybe I don't know why it is, but this workplace is different.

~ We have a prescriber who's there several days a week.  A prescriber!
~ We have several licensed social workers, licensed mental health counselors and clinical psychologists.
They like each other. (??)
~ The executive director attends all clinical meetings.  Quietly.  Just so he can "really know what you guys are dealing with on a daily basis."
~ Despite the fact that I am already qualified to be a DMHP in this state (read: I can involuntarily detain people to psych beds), nobody has asked me when I'm going to start taking crisis shifts.  They like doing it.  There's no rush to push it off on someone else.
~ There are *several* case managers.
~ I am actually being *trained* to do crisis on call, and with that, am receiving a ton of training on SPMI (never had that before, folks.)
~ I called my first clients and when I asked where I needed to document that, I received a concerned, but caring, look, and my co-worker stated, "Oh, you don't.  It's fine.  People trust you here."
~ We gave a "great" relationship with local law enforcement.  (? What ?)
~ The Friday Therapists (the few of us who work Fridays) asked me to lunch the first week.
~ HR actually sat down with me the first day to explain benefits, gave me a key and asked me several times if I had any questions.

Look.  I'm not saying it's perfect.  I'm not saying things aren't going to bother the crap out of me at points or that I'm going to love everything.  I'm not delusional.

What I am saying is that this clinic feels more like the clinic I left in my native Portland.  I'm saying that I'm having cross disciplinary meetings.  I'm saying that we're speaking about heteronormative and gender normative language.  I'm saying that somebody said "prodromal" this week and I literally have not used that word in two years, despite working in mental health.

I *am* saying that people are happy at this clinic.  People have worked at this clinic for 20+ years and nearly every one of the old timers has said, "Fresh eyes!  Ask questions!  Let's better this process!"  I am saying that, after two years of rural driving, the clinic is 7 minutes from my house.  I am saying that I worked 40 hours (as opposed to 55 or 60) this week.

I *am* wondering if this is going to be the switch Shoes and I needed to be able to stay in this area for a few more years.    I am cautious, but I am hopeful.

And by that, I mean, oh, this poor me.

(I may not even pretend to try to suck it up in this one, guys.  I'm not looking for your pity, per se, but a well placed social worker "amen," "hallelujah," or "preach it, sister"will not be rebuffed.)

This blog has seen the evolution of my life for the past nine years - from the days I worked in juvenile justice and was married to a Different Guy,  to the decomposition of that marriage, to deciding to go to grad school, to meeting and marrying Shoes, etc, etc, etc.

Etcetera.  Etcetera.  Etcetera.

I have not used this blog to document my first two years after graduate school, however.  Two years?  How did that happen?  Living and working in the rural, RURAL, Inland NW has been an experience unlike any other.  I have not yet found my niche.  I have job hopped twice now.  That's not me.  I thrive on consistency and routine in my own life.  This just isn't me.

You might remember that I left community outpatient mental health, for reasons I won't speak about, to join a new agency, providing in home family therapy in an effort to prevent placement of children into the foster care system.   That was very, very good work that I loved whole heartedly.  It turns out I didn't, love, however, being on call 24/7 (literally going months being tied to my work cell phone), working almost every weekend, working 60 hour weeks, and putting thousands and thousands of miles on my car driving to the most remote locations you can imagine.  Places without electricity.  Places without running water.  Places where I fed goats and stacked firewood.

(That last one actually wasn't that bad.  I like farm chores.)

And it didn't work.  It didn't work with my family.  It caused stress within my family.  It caused mini meltdowns.  I have missed out on holiday functions and birthday dinners and quiet moments with my spouse.  Most days I have managed to take care of basic hygiene functions, but nothing really beyond shower, deodorant and combing my hair.

(Uh, ok, whatever.  I didn't always comb my hair.  But it was washed.  Most days.)

It just reached this critical stage, you know?  One of my best friends from graduate school finally told me I was being unethical.  I wasn't taking care of myself, I was distant from my family, and oh, this next one was ouchy, but it was entirely true:  he stated that because I was so burnt out, I wasn't giving my clients the best care I could because there was nothing else to give.

Put your own oxygen mask on first, folks.

So I did.  Ok, that's a lie.  It wasn't only on my own accord that I reached up for the magical oxygen mask and it's not like those things are just hanging down magically everywhere....  A therapist friend of mine who works at a local clinic contacted me and said they had an opening and were willing to consider hiring an unlicensed therapist (I am 2/3 of the way done.)  I applied.  And interviewed.  And 45 minutes after the interview, they called and offered me the job.

So I'm transitioning again.

My last day with the last agency was yesterday; I start the new job on 7/7 as a children's mental health counselor at the new clinic.   That is closed on the weekends and major holidays.  That comes with a pay raise.  That comes with agency sponsored CEUs (no more paying for my own!).    I'm not on call all the time.  I have looked for my dumb pink work cell phone about 50,000 times today, panicked when it's not right there because HOW WILL I HEAR IT???  Only, that part is done.

 Today I SHOWERED, and COMBED my hair, and glory be, I even put product in it and styled it.  What.  I'm *bringing* the personal hygiene now.  I took my car in to necessary repairs.  Scheduled Rosie's grooming appointment.  Normally I would be catching up on housework, but, as it happened, one of my last families struggled with organizational challenges and when that happens, my own house gleams.

I'm re-entering the land of the living.  And I have goals.  We planted a vegetable garden.  I would like to see it live.  Shoes and I are planning some big changes in our family.  I want to write the short story I've been meaning to.  One of my parents is having major, major health challenges.  All of these things will need attending to.

So I haven't really been blogging the past two years.  It is what it is.  Now I get to pick it up again and continue.  My hope is to reconnect with my old blogging network (that community has changed significantly, though, so unsure what that will look like) and make new blogging connections.

And be a normal human being (whatever that means.)  I am also looking forward to that.
Shoes and I are trying to find footing again after the past two weeks.  The situation continues to grow in complexity, and as much as out hearts are just broken, we always come back to the same point:  we did not lose each other.  

We did not lose each other.  I can still look at, hold, argue with my partner.  He is still there. That brings a second of relief and comfort, but then that other realization follows quickly:  our dear friend, whom we love wholly, did lose his.

We can't imagine.

Then we sigh and unload the dishwasher and feed the dog.

I worked 60 hours last week.   The families on my caseload right now are facing circumstances beyond most of our imaginations, and my in home sessions have been wrapping up at 10pm.  I'm exhausted, but we are doing the work.

We are doing the work and we are getting to where we need to be.  Remember my post on resistance?

Shoes and I have finally scheduled our honeymoon, and on the days I am missing my friend, worrying about her surviving husband, holding anchors of gentleness and perspective taking in intense family conflict at work, I think about my favorite spots in where we are headed;  the north shore, the coffee gallery, the temple.  I am there already. 

We hold on because a part of us is already there.  

It is already better.  

We are already healing.
As you know from my last post, our (Shoes and I) sweet friend, V., died two weeks ago.

I don't really know how to write this post.  It might turn out disjointed and nonsensical.  That might be fitting.

Five and a half  years ago, after Shoes and I had decided that we were serious and moving forward in our relationship, I started to meet his friends.  This was 100%, thoroughly and utterly nerve wracking.  Shoes grew up with the same group of friends, attended undergrad with many of them (lived with them as roommates), and after undergrad, when they split for graduate school and different parts of the world, they stayed as close as they had ever been.  Years upon years upon years of shared history and experience.  They are still an extremely tightly knit group, full of love, encouragement and forgiveness for each other (when you're friends for that long, rifts are bound to happen.)

V. was the wife of Shoes' long time friend S.  The first time we met them, we had gone up to the Northern part of this state to have a long weekend with them and two other couples.   In essence, the entire group was welcoming, loving, enthusiastic and opening.

So very open to having me infiltrate their strong friendships.

V. was there that weekend.  And she, with the other women, was vivacious, loving, curious, affirming.  She was a large part of what made being friends with all of these guys so very easy.

V. is hard to explain.  She was, in a sense, the best part of who you are. Honest and blunt, but without force or aggression.  She was vivacious and loved to laugh and adored making sure you were comfortable.  She was compassionate and tender hearted and tough.  So very strong.  V. came from a very large Laotian family; watching her relationships with her family was a sight to behold.  Loving and loud and boisterous.  Her family were her friends and no matter who you were, V. made you feel like you genuinely, authentically were her best friend.  All of she and S.'s summer barbeques, graduation parties, etc, were packed to the walls with the friends they had accumulated over the years.

This is where it gets a little sad.  That's my grief.  You don't have to keep reading from here.  I would understand.

Everybody - and I mean that quite literally - everybody loved V.   On the day that V. passed away, she had been experiencing strange physical symptoms in the morning.  The events surrounding how she got the hospital are long and complicated, but she did.  She was taken by ambulance to the hospital S. works at, and a medical team who was very familiar with S. worked all day to revive her as she kept crashing.  (That's not exactly quite how it went, but to protect the family's privacy a little, that's how this version goes.)

They were unable to keep her stable, and at one point, after 20 minutes of chest compressions, the medical team had to let her go.   As the medical team filed out, the nurses dissolved into tears and the lead physician crept around the corner, and believing he was unseen, crouched down on the floor, put his head in his hands and started sobbing.

When S. told the children's preschool teacher, she also dissolved into uncontrollable tears.  V. had made friends with her, with the other parents, with the children ... V. was your friend.  Period.  If you knew her, you were loved by  her.

Shoes and I have been rocked to our core with grief.  I realize that sounds melodramatic, but I cannot remember the last time I was this affected by anything.   I have spent hours in tears that sneak up out of nowhere.  Shoes and I have been sad, and irritable, and slightly grouchy with each other.  We have spent hours texting our close friends, emailing them, talking on the phone with them.  The loss of V. creates a giant hole in each of us individually, and in the group as a whole.

Shoes and I just returned from her out of town, Laotian Buddhist memorial service.  Please know my heart - in no way do I want at all to disrespect another person's culture - but the ceremony did not offer the sense of closure we were hoping for.  I think this is because it's just not how we, in our Western thinking, have been accustomed to grieving and the ceremony of saying Goodbye.  We all know that V. would have most definitely wanted a fully Laotian service, though, and for that we were very, very grateful.  Some elements were shocking to us and while I won't mention most of them here, I do want to touch on that final goodbye.

This may be uneasy to read and may be triggering for people who are experiencing grief or have complicated loss / grief in their pasts.  Please feel free to stop reading.

At the conclusion of the memorial service, my husband and his close friends were asked to follow S. with wreaths and lead a processional from the room the service was held in, around the side of the funeral home, to the room with the crematorium.  Shoes and his friends were followed by the monks, who were followed by the nuns, who were followed by V.'s casket (on wheels.)  The rest of the ceremony guests followed this processional as Laotian matriarchs threw coins wrapped in tin foil at us for luck.

Once we arrived at the incinerator at the crematorium, those at the front loaded V. in her casket into the incinerator.  The door was shut and latched.  The incinerator was immediately turned on.

Most people left for the Laotian Buddhist temple at that point.  We lingered to be with our friend as he visited with other funeral guests.  As Shoes and I were getting ready to leave, we looked back at the crematorium roof as smoke started clouding out of the chimney.  Shoes looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "What did we just do?"

Of course, that's not that.  After that, our close friends went to dinner and stayed up late drinking wine and telling V. stories, grieving in the ways we know how.

Woke up the following day, and still felt sad.

Sad that my friend is gone.  Sad that her two very young children don't have a mother.  Sad that her husband now has his own grief that only he can get through, in his own way.  Sad that when we gather together as a group, her loss will continue to be a large hole in our fabric.  Sad that an entire mess of people miss the woman who  let them know that they were loved.  Accepted.

It doesn't make sense that a 35 year old woman with two very small children four and under woke up one morning, didn't feel well, and by the end of the day, had passed away.  It doesn't make sense that a four year old child now asks their father every day "when mommy is coming home."  It is heartbreaking to watch an even younger child cling to their father and scream when given to somebody else to hold because the entire situation is too confusing, too scary and to devastating on an entirely emotional level.  And while none of it makes sense, I've stopped looking for meaning and just come face to face with this terrible grief and sadness.

The only way through it is through it.

I get that.  But I would totally be lying if I didn't also say that I am looking for the days when it doesn't feel so heavy, so enveloping, so all encompassing.

It's such a terrible cliche, but V. was the best of all of us.
And that's a very hard thing to let go of.
There is no order to this post - random thoughts only.  Apologies for the lack of linear writing.

Of Grief:

Shoes and I are deeply, deeply grieving the very unexpected loss of one of our closest friends.  I have much to say about that, but I cannot organize my thoughts in any coherent fashion.  It felt wrong to continue this post without recognizing that this - the loss - our dear friend - is much more important than the rest of this post.  I don't know what I would give to have her back with us.  With her husband.  With her toddler / preschool sons.

Probably everything.

Of Resistance:

Sometimes I do not have the same experiences with clients that other therapists do.  Sometimes I am given families and literally told, "if they don't get this with you, we're terminating their children."  Sometimes I am told, "you are their last chance."  I hate that.  I'm not a miracle worker.  I can't motivate people to do something they're not ready to do.


Sometimes what looks like resistance is not resistance.   Sometimes what looks like, "F* you" is really "I'm scared and I don't know what to do and I know I don't really have any chances left." Sometimes resistance is really people saying, "What if I reach for you to help and you're not there?"

I am closing with a client soon.  Today this person dissolved into tears and stated, "I don't know what's going to happen when you leave.  We've learned how to be a family again."


Of Promotions:

I received one.  To Lead Therapist.

Don't really know what that means, but am realizing I'm two years post Masters and they said this would happen at about this time.  Don't really know how much low level supervision I'll get to do, as workers keep handing me their most resistant clients.

Sometimes I don't get this life - what happens - the directions we take - why some clients make it and some don't - how we measure success - why some people are taken from us so early - they whys of anything.

Tonight, I think I'm just tired.
That is what it is, I guess.

Oh yoga.

I started yoga in 2007 after I separated from the former spouse.  It was wildly nourishing and challenging and for 90 minutes I could concentrate on something other than some of the worst of human emotions.  I was, and I say this lovingly, and to roughly borrow a phrase from Elizabeth Gilbert, a cliche of an almost divorced 30 year old taking divorced lady classes at the Y.

But whatever.  It was healing in the most healing of ways.

A year later, I managed to sneak restorative yoga into a credit earning part of my graduate school schedule.  And THAT was wildly nourishing in all new ways ... a return to the same, stable quiet sense of self ... the friend that had accompanied my move to an unfamiliar city.

And now, I've returned again, in an effort to have a space in which I am challenged, and clear headed, and letting go.  This has been really humbling, guys.  Turns out when you don't practice regularly, you lose flexibility and balance.  (Or at least, I did.) This has been a process.  Even concentrating on breath work and meditation has been a process - one wandering thought and suddenly I find I'm off rhythm with the Agni-Prasana and completely off kilter.  (Sometimes just being in the moment is the hardest part.)  (Agni Prasana is also called Breath of Fire and involves breathing in and out rhythmically, with the emphasis put on breathing out.  It forces me to concentrate on my abdomen - the drawing in and filling the lungs and the pushing out to exhale.  Other than the pace and emphasis, it's similar in form to the breathing exercises we use in TF-CBT and CPT.)

Last Saturday, in some strange turn of events, I was the only person at my usual morning class.   Slightly awkward, but the instructor kindly took the time to go over my form in a couple of poses that are more challenging for me.

Like this one:

(Image is hyperlinked - thank you, KatieYoga, for this beautiful example.)

I  might mention here that my yoga instructor is 7 months pregnant and did this pose as if it was the easiest thing ever. In the universe.  I, however, have not yet been able to do a headstand.  And, turns out, I am still not be able to do a headstand, but at least now I know a safer, more supported way to enter a headstand.  But here's the humbling part:  as I was trying to come into this pose, I experienced a moment of fear that caused all of my upper back to tense and today, I am still experiencing some pain in my levator scapulae (I'm fairly certain, anyway, that that is the affected muscle.)

My mind took over.  Again.   This is fascinating to me.
The increasing awareness that my thoughts are loud, bossy and somewhat anxious and fearful, and that they interfere with my body, is incredible.

Maybe one day headstand will be more accessible and slightly less intimidating.  Maybe one day my mind will just let my body be.

That's the hope, anyway.
But just the act of carving out time for yourself as a helper is worth it.

I've written about this before.  Some of the advice given to social workers (and other members of the helping professions) regarding self care is just shamefully and wholly inadequate.  In my case, I work as a therapist specializing in family preservation and child trauma.  Taking time to take a bath will not adequately soothe my soul after I have difficult days in which I have witnessed abuse, dysfunction and sometimes, in the absolute worst case scenario, death.

Besides, my bathtub is from the early 1970s, fills as quickly as a dripping faucet can and the water turns cold halfway through.  That sounds ... stressful.

So taking baths and lighting candles is not enough.  It's becoming a joke in our profession, right?  We don't need more baths.  We need better pay, more time off to be able to soothe our souls and rejuvenate, and less working hours (I average about 50 working hours a week, which doesn't take into account the amount of time I am on call and have to respond within 15 minutes. We won't be discussing my pay rate.)  I've written about my deep love of Tara Brach before, as well, and how critical it is that we find a place within ourselves where we accept our complicated feelings about the work we do and avoid punishing ourselves for them.  (Radical Acceptance - one of my favorites, fyi.)

I say all of this, and then in the next breath I tell you:  there is no other work I would rather be doing (and on a bad day if I tell you differently and threaten to become a barista or a librarian or a poet, I am most likely lying).  When social work and therapy clicks, it clicks.  For me, it is spiritual (in a non Joel Osteen type of way - get out of here with that name it and claim it business!) and meaningful and beautiful.  Even the smallest  moments of connection and healing in sessions are sacred, and those moments are part of what sustain me as a worker.  The other day I witnessed a partner be able to tell their partner to "hold on - I have something to say."  Doesn't sound like a lot, right?  It has taken us weeks to get to that point.  Weeks of practice, of debriefing, of homework, of REBT mixed with Narrative Therapy (sometimes that works, turns out ...).  My heart almost burst with pride for both of them.  That's their success.  I was just fortunate enough to witness it.

At the same time, however, the work becomes exhausting.  Balancing work needs with being married with the never ending home remodel with Rosie's training starts to wear on me.  It's been a long few months and I very much neglected taking care of myself (helllllooooo 10 extra pounds and chronic muscle pain!) and got to a point of frustration in which I told Shoes, "What do I have to do, schedule self care in my calendar?"


He didn't say anything, because I'm not stupid.  If that's what I have to do, then that's what I have to do. Scheduling time for myself is a feat, you guys, and I don't even have kids.  But between the work schedule, my work contract which details that when I'm open with families I'm always available to them, and the constant revolving door of house contractors, if I don't schedule it in, it's not going to happen, because there will always be something else that will need to be done.  Always.

I talked to my supervisors about the level of stress I had been feeling, and, to my relief, they said, "You need to be asking for more support.  You need to be asking for more time away from your phone.  We have the infrastructure for this."  (And, because this was during my yearly eval, they also said, "We're promoting you to lead therapist and we're going to ask our ED for a raise for you.)  Important note:  social work agencies have widely varying levels of support.  I am thankful every single day for my agency.  They aren't perfect and there are still gaps (did I mention we're not going to be discussing my pay rate, despite the raise?), but they are supportive.  (Because this paragraph has already rabbit trailed into the slightly random, I will also tell you that my yearly eval made it easy to turn down an unexpected recruitment from another local social work agency this week.  Why would I leave already established support, professionalism and integrity?)  Worlds away from last agency, in which I was expected to conduct involuntary psychiatric detainments despite the fact that there were literally no beds, received almost no supervision, and had ongoing therapy clients for which I obtained almost 90% productivity with no time for progress notes).

These things aren't huge, but they've definitely helped:  I've asked Shoes to take over more of the contractor scheduling.  And I've moved around my own personal budget to be able to attend on a fancy yoga studio on a semi regular basis.  (Re entry into yoga is the subject of the next post.)  I'm still not going to take baths in our ridiculous bath tub, and I'm not going to be lighting candles.  But I am going to be dedicating more time and space to my own emotional needs and thinking about what centering and balance means for me personally.   We owe it to ourselves to think about what we really need, (really, really need) on a personal level to be able to continue to do the work.  We owe this to ourselves, foremost.  Our clients.  Our families.  I am a valuable commodity.  You are a valuable commodity.  The use of YOU in the helping profession (as if I need to tell you guys this) is one of the most critical features for client growth.  If we don't believe that we are worth taking care of, how are we going to be able to communicate to our clients, with integrity, that they are worth taking care of?

We are all worth taking care of.

Thoughts?  Frustrations?  Contributions?  Something I missed?  Please feel free to share.
Shoes and I were having a discussion yesterday about marriage:  what we were afraid of, what we like, what's hard.

And I said, "I would say you're probably my best friend, for all intents and purposes."
And he said, "What!  No way.  We are not best friends."

What I know about Shoes is that sometimes a little exploring is necessary - he's incredibly bright.  Not incredibly demonstrative or affective, but sharp.  And this is what Shoes said,

"The marriage relationship is completely separate from a friend relationship.  I don't hang out with my friends all the time - I eventually want them to go home.  I don't take into account their opinion for major life decisions.  I accept support from them ... sometimes, but sometimes I just want to figure it out on my own.  That doesn't describe the relationship we have.  We are here, with each other, in each other's space, for the majority of our time together.  We take into account what the other person feels and thinks all the time.  I run almost everything by you,  because I always care what you think - it always matters.  It's not better or worse than a friendship - it's just an entirely different ball game."

Shoes and I had an in person relationship for 8 months and a long distance relationship for three years.  Right after I graduated with my Master's, I moved to rural E WA and we got married.  Our relationship is different, and it always, always serves to remind  me that all relationships are incredibly different and incredibly filled with idiosyncratic meaning.

I had a couples' counseling session this morning that was incredibly challenging for me as a therapist on almost every level.  Without going into too much detail, I almost gave feedback that was completely off base.  Right before I gave the feedback, one of the partners contributed something that clarified the issue greatly, and I thought to myself, "I had it wrong.  I was assuming, and it was just dead wrong."

We think we know.  We think we know people, we think we know relationships, we think we know behavior and motivation.  We think we know.  We just don't know.  This week has been an excellent reminder in avoiding making assumptions and to ask questions.

People surprise me always.  Even after working with families for 13 years, people always surprise me.  Including clients.  Including my husband.  Including myself.