Put on those smart pants of yours!

Ah October, you beautiful month you, here I am, sitting down at my kitchen table in an empty house, two spice-spiked autumn breeze candles with hints of ginger, amber and bergamot, plus a base note of musk (I don’t think autumn candle scents are overrated at all!) glow subtly beside me as the crisp autumn air is punctuated by the remaining warmth of the summer sun……

So where to begin this Fall…how about with education, or perhaps backing that up, let’s begin with the feelings of doubt and hesitation one feels about formal education. I write this post because it’s not only a boat I have talked with many clients about being in, it’s also a boat that I have been in myself that I had to step out of. The boat of doubt. The boat of, “I’m doing what I’m doing in life right now because the fear of doing anything else is paralyzing me and stopping me from stepping out of the boat.”

I was definitely there six years ago. I had graduated with an undergrad in psychology in 2002 and then worked with my family for years, always knowing that I wanted to be a Clinical Counsellor but never actually thinking that I was smart enough to pursue a Master degree. That fear of not feeling good enough, smart enough, capable enough, held me back and kept me in a very small boat on a giant sea of possibilities with little sense of direction.

In addition to the feelings of doubt and worry came a feeling of being pregnant, and it actually was more than a feeling, it was a reality. I was 29, pregnant and not living my dream. Then one day, the small, faint voice that sounded oddly enough like Stuart Smalley, got loud enough to convince me to pull up my boots and apply to the Gonzaga Masters of Counselling program.

On a chilly April morning at 4.5 months pregnant I headed into the Gonzaga University “pageant weekend”. It was like a very toned down Miss America….no bathing suit or evening gown portion, but certainly lots of time with the “judges”, (the profs of the Masters of Counselling program), and lots of time chatting up, figuring out and eyeing your fellow contestants, a portion of whom would be the lucky few to make it into the two year graduate program. If ever there was a time that I felt incompetent and doubtful, it was that weekend, not knowing if I would be worthy enough to make it into the program.

Fast forward 5 months and one, one week old baby girl later, I started the Gonzaga Masters of Counselling program. A two year journey of intense learning, personal and professional growth and moments of extreme relief followed by periods of stress and anxiety. To make this story “pithy” (a nod to my prof Elizabeth’s favorite expression), I did it! I received my Masters in Counselling Psychology and today I can say that I am confidently in the place that I know God wants me to be -raising a family and collaborating with others to help them live their best life.

I tell you that story because, as I mentioned above, my story of self doubt is not unique. I have had the privilege of counselling and coaching many amazing individuals who for various reasons have stopped short of pursuing their dreams, many of which involve pursuing higher education. The reasons vary: the timing is not right, the cost is too high, they are too young/old, but underlying most is the common ground of fear and doubt that they are not good or smart enough.

Let me be the first to tell you from personal experience that you ARE good enough. You CAN do it! It is a step by step process. It is a staggering mountain to look at from the base, but by breaking down the journey into one step at a time and literally just putting one foot in front of the other day after day and pacing yourself, that once unattainable peak becomes more and more within reach.

In the past year I have had the opportunity of seeing six clients begin formal education that they once thought was an unrealistic goal. Each one is now invested in education that is meaningful to them and pursuing goals in fields they are truly passionate about.

For other clients, the education may not be in a formal setting such as a college or university classroom; however, I believe education plays a massive role in the therapeutic process. First, there is the learning about one’s own self – how you process information about yourself and others, how you form your set of beliefs and values, and why you make the conclusions that you do. The first part of therapy is really an education about you, dissecting all the parts that make you tick and then tuning the parts up and putting them all back together in a way that makes sense for you.

Second, education is gained through various forms that can include but are not limited to reading, in session teaching, exposure therapy (a fancy way of saying trying things that you have been scared to try in the past out), journaling, meditating, and praying.

The ways in which we learn to grow are endless. Most of us just need to take the giant leap of faith and believe that once we jump, we can actually soar!

DID YOU KNOW: For those in universities such as UBC-O, many counselling services, including those by yours truly, are either fully or partially covered? If ever there is a time to seek counselling it is during the strain and stress of school! Check out your benefit package today to see if you qualify. Here is UBC-O’s information for current students.

The final countdown….

Baby girl numero deux is almost here, just three short weeks if everything (as it always does – insert wee wink) goes absolutely, perfectly according to plan.

In the throws of my eating disorder almost 20 years ago, the thought of getting pregnant never even entered my mind. Despite what “experts” would tell me about the permanent damage I may be doing to my body; the fact that if I kept clinging to ED I may never be able to have children….I (and by “I” I really mean ED as we were so entwined, him and I) picked my eating disorder, over the possibility of new life sometime in my distant future. What silly, childish, immature, irrational yet perfectly ED thinking.

And that, my friends, is the power of an addiction, of an illness, of ED. What could be more precious than a newborn baby?  Yet, even that, was not reason enough for me to continue, every day, my constant need for perfection, for control. ED is strong, stronger than you can possibly imagine, but through all of this, I realized that there is someone stronger than ED, someone that before my life even began, was watching over me, knowing that I would go through trials and frustrations and life breaking, heart aching pains, someone who would lead me through my eating disorder and allow me to regain health, to help others and now…..to be a mother to two of the most precious gifts I could ever have dreamed of. Now, ’tis by the grace of and because of my God that I sit and write about my second pregnancy.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder and life seems exhausting cling to the hope that ED does not have to run, ruin or have control of your life. Be strong and know, as Joshua 1:9 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

May peace be upon you this holiday season.

Wise words….

I consider myself extremely blessed to have true friends in my life. Friends that have been there through thick and thin with you. Yes, there are many time that we have gasped for breath as we laugh so hard it hurts, but then we have also been through the valleys of life together too.

I had the opportunity to visit one of those friends this week while down in Southern California. She passed along some wonderful advice that she received from her lovely Mom and I thought I would pass it along to you….

                        “Moments in Life”

1. There are moments in life when you miss someone
so much that you just want to pick them from your
dreams and hug them for real! So cherish them while
they are with you.

2. When the door of happiness closes, another opens;
but often times we look so long at the closed door that
we don’t see the one, which has been opened for us.

3. Don’t go for looks; they can deceive.  Don’t go
for wealth; even that fades away.  Go for someone who
makes you smile, because it takes only a smile to make
a dark day seem bright.  Find the one that makes your
heart smile.

4. Dream what you want to dream; go where you want to
go; be what you want to be, because you have only one
life and one chance to do all the things you want to do.

5. May you have enough happiness to make you sweet,
enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep
you human and enough hope to make you happy.

6. The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the
best of everything; they just make the most of everything
that comes along their way.

7. The brightest future will always be based on a
forgotten past; you can’t go forward in life until you
let go of your past failures and heartaches.

8. When you were born, you were crying and everyone
around you was smiling. So live your life so at the end,
you’re the one who is smiling and everyone around you
is crying.

9. Don’t count the years-count the memories…….Life
is not measured by the number of breaths we take; but
by the moments that take our breath away!     Amen.

Now go, take on the day!

 

Insta-great!

If there is one single thing that scares me about raising a daughter in this world, it is how accessible the technological world is around her.

She is already a child genius when it comes to operating my iphone to play educational games that I have downloaded for her, and I am sure, at around age 5, she’ll likely be able to set up her own Twitter account to tweet all her kindergarten peeps about what mama packed her in her bento box at school today.

It’s absolutely terrifying what is posted on the world wide web these days, and with such ease. My three year old daughter already knows how to go onto You Tube and watch her favorite cartoon, I know it will likely only be a matter of time before she is coming across totally inappropriate material, just by chance.

That is why I am so grateful that companies like Instagram are including statements like this:

Don’t promote or glorify self-harm: While Instagram is a place where people can share their lives with others through photographs, any account found encouraging or urging users to embrace anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders; or to cut, harm themselves, or commit suicide will result in a disabled account without warning. We believe that communication regarding these behaviors in order to create awareness, come together for support and to facilitate recovery is important, but that Instagram is not the place for active promotion or glorification of self-harm.

in their community guidelines.

Good for you Instagram. Let’s just hope the rest of the internet world follows in your lovely footsteps.

Please read the blog that inspired this post:

http://greatist.com/health/instagram-banned-hashtags#pane-node-comment-form

 

Purpose.

If a ship is in the ocean without a rudder, it is left without a sense of direction, floating, going whichever way the wind blows. It is not unlike the person without a sense of purpose. Purpose is your rudder in life, it sets the course for the direction that you will head in.

It is not unusual to be overwhelmed with where to start when someone poses the question, “What on earth are you here for?” Each one of us is called to a different purpose, and discovering what yours is may take some time, effort and soul searching to determine. Once you have discovered what your purpose is, write it out in a Mission Statement, it will chart the course for your life and you will be able to measure what you will say “yes” to and what you will steer away from based on how it fits within your Mission Statement.

The following link provides a good foundation to start finding the sense of purpose in your own life. http://www.wikihow.com/Find-Your-Life%27s-Purpose