365 Grateful!

This will be a quick one. A while back I started another blog, Perpetual Gratitude, which was inspired by a woman who overcame depression by photographing one thing each day for which she was grateful. Although I have been lax in keeping up with my blogs (due to grad school demands), my life continues to be filled with gratitude. Today I took a few minutes to check out the blog that started it all, 365 Grateful, and decided to share the link with you. I urge you to check out this magnificent, inspiring, uplifting blog and consider how you can cultivate gratitude in your life. Once I finish school, I plan to return to regular blogging and sharing gratefulness with you!

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BE GRATEFUL! It will change your life. 🙂

Autumn Thoughts

When the studies become oppressive and I feel smothered by deadlines and all things academic, the best mental health therapy I know is to grab a camera and head for the woods. I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods lately. In fact, I recently discovered  what is officially known as “nature therapy,” based on the premise that human angst, depression, disconnectedness and stress can in part be attributed to the fact that in our technological world, we have become too alienated from nature. The cure (or at least some relief) is found by spending more time outdoors reconnecting with the natural world. That is certainly true for me. So much so that once I am a licensed clinical counselor (a few years hence) I plan to seek certification as an art therapist, and now, a nature therapist, too. I can think of no better approach to becoming centered and finding one’s authentic being. But one does not have to travel afar to benefit from immersing in the natural world. When not out in the woods, you will often find me on our back deck or in the yard piddling around. This is soul-refreshing work for me. I have great plans for our yard, plans that will make our yard a small wildlife habitat. It will take time, but with patience and perseverance we will have a nature retreat outside our back door. But it is Autumn and for now everything is put to rest for the season. No more digging and planting until the spring. As you can see, a few days ago the trees that line the back of our property were in full color which made the following bird shots more beautiful than ever. Even that old pie plate bird feeder doesn’t look quite as tacky as usual. 😉

 

Now however, the trees in the background have lost most of their leaves. Gray barrenness dominates the countryside. It’s hard to believe that these photos were taken just a day or two ago. Dreary rains have set in and the time has come to settle in to our cozy home knowing that winter is not too far off. School work continues. I will begin my fieldwork (counseling) in the spring, and if all goes according to plan (does it ever?) I will graduate in December, 2013. The work is tiring and I’ve reached the stage where I sometimes consider quitting this process. I am tired of school. But I am old enough to know that this, too, shall pass. And there are always the woods, or the yard, and the foliage and various animals to lift my spirits.

Well, school work is once again calling my name so I’m off. Have a wonderful week; try to get out into nature if you can, and I’ll see you all next time.

 

 

When you hit the wall . . . go take pictures!

As many of you know, this has been a grueling quarter at school. I am coming to the end of week 6 which means that I have four more weeks to go. This quarter however, has taken a huge toll. I am tired, worn out, frazzled, and at the end of my rope. I know others have done it, others have gotten advanced degrees and survived to tell about it. This quarter has pushed me to the limit, though. For the first time since starting my studies back in the summer of 2010, I actually considered quitting. But I’m not a quitter, and I do know that this will come to an end. I also know that if I don’t complete this program I will regret it and always wonder what could have been. But for now, I have “hit the wall.” I consciously chose to skip some courseroom discussions and hand an assignment in late. I am in a mental health counseling program, and what kind of counselor would I be if I did not do what I needed to do to take care of my mental health? As I stared at the computer this morning (with a blank screen and blank thoughts and deadlines looming), I decided to give myself a break. But what to do instead? Well, in my case, when faced with uncertainty I just grab a camera and head outside. And that is what I did. I never left the yard but was able to relax a little and take a few shots. Here are a few. Enjoy.

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Now I have to get back to my studies . . . or not?

Where Have I Been? Where Am I Going?

The title of this post could suggest some really deep, ponderous thoughts and provocative responses. But, it is not so complicated as all of that. Since folks have begun to ask where I’ve been (I haven’t been up to my usual blog-hopping activities), I thought it might be nice to give you a quick run down of what is going on in my neck of the blog-o-sphere!

Where have I been?

1.  My head has been buried in the books for the past eight weeks. I continue to plug away at this degree in mental health counseling, and the deeper I get into the program, the more demanding the coursework becomes. This quarter I’ve been immersed in abnormal psychology (fascinating subject but it makes me wonder about my sanity that I enjoy the subject so much!) and group psychotherapy (another interesting subject.) Keeping up with course requirements in these two classes has been a challenge, but I’ve learned a lot. The good news is that I am down to the last two weeks of the quarter! After that, I will have three weeks vacation before the next quarter begins. You will see me much more during that break as I will be stopping by your places to see what you have been up to, too. I’ve missed you all. Thank you to those who have continued to stop by even though I haven’t returned the favor. In a couple of weeks I plan to remedy that situation. 🙂

2. We are buying a house! Not just any house, but a sweet bungalow that is just the right size for the two of us, small enough to be easy to care for, large enough to have family and friends stay over from time to time. Once we have possession of our new home, I’ll post a photo or two. I like bungalows. 🙂

3. We have a new addition to the family! His name is Elijah, and he is the first child of my youngest daughter. Elijah was born on Friday, March 2. I will be heading over there tomorrow and will be staying for a bit. My daughter had a C-section because little Eli was breach. But Momma, Pappa and baby are fine, healthy and happy. 🙂

Elijah ~ born 3/2/12 ~ 7lbs.2ozs.

Where am I going?

1. I am leaving for Chicago tomorrow for a bit. I’ll be spending my time caring for this sweet family, and finishing up my school quarter. If I disappear altogether for the next two weeks you will know why! BUT, when I return, I am sure to have plenty to blog about. 🙂

2. Registering for my next quarter, ordering textbooks, doing some research, etc. I may have a break from my courses, but I’m still a student! Oy. . .

3. Packing . . . again . . . to move into our new house (hopefully sometime in April).

So much for where I’ve been and where I’m going. I am not ignoring you, and I fully plan to be back in a routine at some point in the future, hopefully sooner than later. Thanks again for stopping in to see how things are going. Have a great week.

Five Question Friday: July 29, 2011

It’s that time again! 😀  Are you ready???  Well then, here goes~

1. Vow renewal ceremonies-yay or nay?

I think that ceremonies marking special occasions and anniversaries are nice.  Mom and Dad had a renewal ceremony on their 50th anniversary (and the 60th is two and a half months away!) and our tenth is about two months away.  I wouldn’t replicate the wedding ceremony itself, but it might be nice to create some sort of ceremony of reflection over the past ten years and renewing our committment for the coming years.  I guess that means my answer is Yes!  BTW, this is our wedding picture.  My daughter-in-law shot some photos in black and white and I LOVE them!

2. What sound/s annoy you the most?

Shrieking temper tantrums by anyone over 10 years old!  (and I am being generous~two and three-year olds have tantrums, and then you grow out of it hopefully) By now they “oughta” know better; they should have developed better coping mechanisms; they should have discovered more pleasant ways to get what they want! 😉

*****of course there are biological/emotional/psychological reasons for ignoring the above paragraph…I’m just referring to healthy, spoiled, bratty people who get on our nerves for acting like young children who are just beginning to learn how to negotiate life’s hurdles.

After older-than-acceptable temper tantrums comes never-ending pessimistic “gloom and despair” talk.  Remember the t.v. show “HeeHaw“?  Never an episode aired that didn’t have Grandpaw sitting in his rocker on the front porch singing “Gloom, despair and agony on me.  Deep dark depression, excessive misery.  If it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all.  Gloom, despair and agony on me.”  I used to sing it to the kids when they were young and whining endlessly about how life was treating them so unfairly.  Who knows, maybe they are singing it to their children, too! 🙂

3. If you had to pick, would you have only all boys, or only all girls for kids?

My three! This was taken on a camping trip a few years ago.

NOT FAIR QUESTION! I have a mix~a boy and two girls.  To tell you the truth, the girls are the ones who gave me my gray hair (mostly). But I’d still have them in a heartbeat!  I love them soooooo much.  NO QUESTIONS ASKED!  My son is my first born and he and I share a wonderful love.  I absolutely cannot pick one gender over the other. I love them all.  Like I said, NOT FAIR! . . .ummm. . . I mean, this question has little relevance for my situation, so i will make a mature choice and opt not to answer said question. 😉

4. Do you believe in alternative medicine?

Sure do!  In fact, I’m all in favor of “complimentary medicine.” A team works together with the patient heading up the team, to provide the best health care possible for the patient. The team may include an accupuncturist, herbalist, yoga and/or tai chi professionals, religious or meditative leader, medical doctor and nurse, chiropractor, mental health counselor, etc.  The team works together to offer options but the patient has the final say-so regarding the approach to self-care. I lived in one place where this was done and I wholeheartedly support that concept.  Since leaving that community however, I have not seen the concept being replicated (insurance won’t cover it. . .that is why medical doctor is necessary, to sign off on whatever protocol is chosen.)  I don’t have any statistical evidence as to the efficacy of such a program, but common sense says this is a far better, more holistic approach to treat a person’s health issues. So, let’s get with it!

5. Would you take a family members children and raise them if they needed it?

Yup!  No hesitation, no questions asked, with open heart and outstretched arms.  Yes. Yes. Yes.

This completes another five question Friday.  I am looking forward to reading your responses!  Have a great weekend and we’ll do this again next Friday “if the creek don’t rise and the sky don’t fall!” (a little southern colloquialism…just thought it would be a nice touch for this blog… 😀 )

The Assignment

 

One of the expectations in my ethics course is that each student will examine the values that guide his or her life and will thus ultimately guide them as they counsel others.  One reason this is so important is that as counselors we will each eventually counsel someone who happens to have values that conflict with our own.  As counselors it is not our role to impose our personal values on the client, nor to place undue pressure on the client to make choices of our—the counselors’—choosing.  Rather, the goal is to facilitate learning, to encourage the client to evaluate their own values and how faulty thinking may lead them to violate their own values.  The hope of both client and counselor is for the client to learn to make healthy choices, maintain healthy boundaries, and to become fully alive and fully functional contributors to the community in which they live.

 

This is all very tricky to accomplish (which is why I’m in school for three years learning the hows, whys, what fors, etc. to becoming a licensed professional mental health counselor.)  Today I decided to post my course discussion for this past week.  I have elaborated a wee bit on three guiding values in my life (but by no means the only values).

 

Identifying and Assessing Values—Cecelia Futch (as posted in Professional and Scientific Ethics for Counselors/Therapists at Capella University)

Service, humility, repentance; these three are the values that I would consider to be among the most important values in my life at this point.

Service is about what we give to others.  Service recognizes that we as individuals are part of a larger whole, and that none of us is here solely of our own volition.  We go through stages and periods of our lives, and at each juncture we rely on others to varying degrees for support.  It could be reliance on the farmer who grows our food, the collector who carts away our garbage, the nurse who watches our vital signs, the parents who gave us life, and so on.  Whatever and wherever we are, we are part of a larger community.  At times we have to rely on the community to help support us (I know it sounds socialist—oh well, it is what it is) whether for material goods, or for spiritual or mental sustenance.  At other times, when in a position to do so, it is important that each of us “give back” or support the health of the community.  That may be through volunteer work, or possibly through our livelihood, or maybe in our religious community.  However we do it, service is the activity we participate in that acknowledges we are part of something bigger than our individual self.

Humility is the recognition that we are not all powerful, all knowing beings.  Humility reminds me that I am but one person in a sea of humanity, and that there are worlds of information and systems of which I know nothing.  Humility also allows me to recognize my strengths, talents, knowledge and ability without overstating or understating (false humility) who I am and that which I bring to this world.  Humility also helps me guard (as does service) against a sense of entitlement, which is a form of abuse.

Repentance is what this work, counseling, entails.  I do not speak of it in Christian terms, but as Jewish woman, repentance is about turning around and going in another direction.  It involves recognizing the errors we have made, resolving to correct those errors, and to change our life for the better, or more holy, way of living.  This is essentially what psychotherapy involves.  A person recognizes that there is something wrong in their life, that as a result they are experiencing pain, discontent, depression, the list goes on.  They seek counseling to clarify what is causing the pain, to consider options that will set them on a new path toward healthier living, or to acquire the tools necessary to walk a new path.

To my understanding, these values tend to be universal but may be expressed in different terms by differing groups .  Realizing that these are my personal values, and that others have different values, I tend to think that I would counsel someone according to their values as long as it did not entail harming someone else.  Remaining neutral allows the client to form and hold to their personal tenets which guides them in their daily lives which takes place outside the counselor’s office.  At the same time, it would be impossible for me to completely hide my values from the client for the simple reason that it is these values that guide my life.

 

 

Obviously there is much more to examine and expound upon when it comes to values.  As previously stated, these three are not the only values of importance to me, but they are certainly three “biggies.”  I encourage you to think about your values and if you feel comfortable in doing so, please share.  Feel free to comment on my posting, too.  I welcome your feedback.