A is for . . . so many things.

A is for alopecia and aphasia. Also for assault. Anger. And atonement. What might all of these words have in common? Aside from being in the headlines recently? We all suffer from something and usually our suffering is invisible. For a variety of reasons. We may have a hidden or not so obvious physical disability. We might suffer from an emotional issue or be diagnosed with a mental health condition that we don’t generally discuss with others. And when others don’t know what is going on with us, they make assumptions. I’m not here to be an apologist for anyone, I’m simply here to point out that as human beings, we spend much of our time making decisions based on our assumptions which are often wrong. We are great at filling in the blanks with whatever story makes sense to us, and again, because we are human, we tend toward the negative. We generally believe the worst unless we make an effort to choose otherwise.

Take Bruce Willis’ Razzie for example. The Razzie Awards did not consider that perhaps Mr. Willis was suffering a medical issue when the organization awarded him a Razzie. But, after his family issued their statement about his health condition, the Razzies retracted their award. They atoned for their poor treatment based on their faulty assumption. I won’t get into the altercation that occurred between Will Smith and Chris Rock over Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia, except to say again, assumptions—this time about a person’s appearance—led to inaccurate (and unkind) conclusions, including violence. We can make all manner of assumptions about Will Smith’s slapping of Chris Rock, but we do not know what is going on with Will Smith. So we make assumptions.

Because we live in a culture that champions youth and vitality, we may not be comfortable bringing up or exposing those parts of ourselves that don’t fit neatly into the cultural narrative. We may curate our online presence to artfully conceal the imperfections that lie beneath. And what happens when we hide our vulnerabilities? Do we feel better? Do other people feel more comfortable around us when we are not authentically our whole selves? Not really. When we let others see the real us, our unvarnished true selves, we become more attractive, not less. As Brené Brown says in her book The Gifts of Imperfection, “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”

S is for Stop. I Must Attend to Schoolwork and Self-Care

SToday I had my very first real client. (It went well enough that we have another appointment next week, and I am SO glad the first one is behind me), and I am  excited that I have chosen this career. To sit and hear people’s stories, to have them share their fears and triumphs, to be a part of the healing process. I am feeling honored and quite fortunate.

I know Mercury is in retrograde (whatever that means), but my stars seem to finally be aligning. My practicum is shaping up nicely, I’ve made some great inroads for my upcoming internship which starts in the fall. And, then I realized  I am very far behind on my school work.  I need to Stop this blog-a-day thing at S.

I love the challenge of writing something to post everyday (and even though I’ve clearly not posted everyday as I should be on W, I have actually written something each day, but not everything is worthy of being shared). I’ll miss it, but I took a look at my syllabus today and realized I have to do a 3-5 hour online trauma training and write a paper this week. I also printed off about 200 pages of “supplemental” reading material I need to delve into (besides the two textbooks, and I’m about 5 chapters behind there too).

All the things I need to read
All the things I need to read

One of the concepts our instructors bring up in nearly every class in this program is the need for self-care. If we don’t take care of ourselves as counselors, we will not be fit to help anyone with anything. So, something has to give. And for now, blogging everyday is what I have to let go of. I need a lot of time to think about what I want to write, to ponder, to come up with a point. And even if I take the better part of a day to do that, I still need more time to edit and revise and rethink what I’ve written. I don’t want to just throw something up here–it has to be somewhat meaningful and decently written.

I like the double meaning here
I like the double meaning here

So, since I don’t have time for long hot bubble baths, or the extra money for massages and pedicures, I’m going to have to take care of myself by cutting back where  I can and for now that means cutting back on blogging. I have to keep running or I’ll become very crabby, and I can’t possibly cut back any more on housework without endangering my health (besides, for me, having a clean house is self-care). So, here we Stop. With S.

Thanks for reading this far, Dear Readers. I’ll check in now and then to let you know how things are going.


Challenge Accepted–Blogging April, A to Z

Well, Dear Readers, this adventure has been so much fun this month, I’ve signed up to do it again. This time, I’ll be blogging every day (except for Sundays) during the month of April as part of the A-to-Z Challenge. Each day the theme starts with a letter of the alphabet, beginning on day 1, or April Fool’s Day, with the letter A and working our way to Z.

Since I start classes on April 8, I best be writing and stockpiling some blogs in the next ten days, so I’ve started making a list of topics. I’ve listed some  possible themes below. If you have anything to add or topics you’d like to see me address (or attempt), leave me a comment. All ideas will receive consideration–

Adoption – I have much to say about this topic, given that my entire family was formed by adoption: mother, brother, children.

Body Image – always something women think about, their bodies. I’m no different though I wish I were. Or Books. Bookmaking. I love making books.

Children – I’ve not given enough blog space to my children. I decree they shall have more, starting now. Or Cats—I rarely write about the cats. I’m sure I can work both into the same blog.

Depression. Been there, done that. Or Drinking. Again, could possibly inhabit the exact same blog without a problem.

Eating – I live with a foodie. Eating to live or living to eat?

Food – because I’m sure I won’t say all there is to say about food in the previous post on eating. Maybe Feminism if I say all there is to say about food in my post about eating.

God – because

Haikus? At only eight days in, that seems a bit premature, so maybe I could write about Heaven, on the heels of God. Nice segue.




Lesbians – takes one to know one. Maybe some fun facts . . . history of? Coming out? No shortage of material here.

Mother – don’t write enough about dear old Mom, and she’s always asking if I’m writing about her and should she hide . . . so yes to both!

Nancy – The Little Woman, wife, sugar mama, main squeeze.

O? Well, there is this video (NSFW) making the rounds on social media. I might need to address it at some point. Just sayin’.

Psychology – cuz that’s what I’m doing now.

Queers –see L, I’m sure there will be more to say on the subject.

Race. See Adoption, Children. Class on Multicultural Perspectives.

Siblings. I have one brother. I love him dearly. He deserves a blog post.

Technology—I used to have a whole blog devoted to making fun of tech. I can do it again. Or Therapy. Lots to say about that.

Umbilical cords—I will be taking a Family of Origins class Spring quarter. I am sure I will have plenty to say about the ties that bind.

Vaginas? Virginity? When I was in London in 1982, the movie The Last American Virgin was playing everywhere. I got a complex and set out to rectify the situation.

Writing. Of course.

X—reserved for April’s Haiku wrap up. I will write a haiku that begins with the letter X.

Youth. Fleeting. I’m sure there is more to say . . .

Z—on having zip, zero, zilch

I’ve left J and K blank because at this late hour my mind cannot come up with even one reasonable topic or theme that begins with either of those letters. Ideas? Leave me a comment!

Thanks so much for reading along in March as I took on this challenge—join me in April for more.


I did a crazy thing the other day. Overwhelmed by inspiration from attending AWP 2014, I signed up with Blogher.com for NaBloPoMo, their monthly blog writing challenge. The idea is to write a blog a day for the entire month. I’m already failing. It’s March 3 and I’ve yet to produce a blog. It’s not like I don’t have any ideas, but I have this fear that when I start a blog, I won’t be able to finish it or wrap it up sufficiently. I am afraid I won’t be able to bring it on home, I guess. This is not an unfamiliar fear. It creeps in often around writing, especially after a dry period.

I have the same fear about running after a few days off. Due to snow and AWP, I’ve not been running for the past five days, and so when I got up this morning the pressure to go for a run was nearly paralyzing. I employed all of my tricks to move past the fear—I got dressed in my running clothes even though I knew I wouldn’t be heading out for a run anytime soon. I reminded myself that I had been feeling exceptionally healthy these past couple of months—a direct result, I am pretty certain, of my increased running activity. I looked at the pants I’ve been wearing recently—pants I couldn’t button before Christmas. That was motivating. Eventually I worked up enough momentum to propel me to lace up my sneakers and hit the road.

Writing is like running I thought as I surveyed the landscape on my run. There were huge branches all over the place, shaken from their trees by recent storms. Writing is like that too, I thought as I gave some trees with suspicious looking branches wide berth. I didn’t need a branch falling on my head. Writing shakes out those loose branches, those fears I encounter before embarking—what if I don’t get very far? What if I make it a mile and then I can’t go on? What if it hurts? But it’s raining. The bottom line is that by beginning, I will be no worse off than I was by not starting and the chances that I will be better off increase each time I put on my running shoes and hit the pavement. Past experience tells me this—it is a fact. I feel better when I run. I feel much better if I run more. I feel shitty if I run less and I feel shittier still if I don’t run at all. I know these things.

I know that if I write, I will feel better. If I write more, I will feel better still, and if I don’t write or write less, I will feel shitty. Furthermore, if I don’t write I will have no material. I cannot reach any of my writing goals without material—I can’t send anything out for publication. I cannot finish my book. I can’t even apply to attend writing retreats (at least the ones I want to attend) if I don’t have anything written down. Starting writing is as scary as putting on my running shoes—facing the blank page or the glowing white computer screen is a lot like taking that first step of a five mile run. What if I get to the end of page one, the end of mile one, and I can’t go any further? What if I run out of things to say?

Here’s what I know:  I’m not any worse off than before I started. In fact, I now have approximately 500 words that I did not have a few moments ago. Just like after running a mile, I am ahead of where I was before I embarked. No worse off, certainly. Most likely better. Because one step leads to more steps just like one word leads to more words and sometimes the miles and the pages fly by and before I know it, I’m bringing it home. I’m cresting that hill, finishing that essay, posting that blog and running the final few steps to my driveway. I know that finishing feels so damn good.