Monday, October 19, 2015

The next step of my journey; fitting the puzzle pieces

In about two weeks, I will embark on the next step of my journey as a counselor; I am venturing out of the confines of an agency to begin in private practice as well as doing some contracting work for other organizations.  To put it mildly, I am terrified.  I will be leaving the comforts of a steady paycheck and support of a community of co-workers to enter what is hopefully a more lucrative opportunity in the long run both financially for my family as well as emotionally.  My hope as well is that I will be able to spend more time at home with my boys during their childhood and have more quality time with my husband.  Only time will tell but for now I have to trust my gut and the process.  This was not an easy decision for me but several experiences in the last year have lead me to make this decision.  I am thankful for those experiences because while they were painful and difficult, they have provided me with growth, insight and courage to make healthy choices for my personal and professional life.

I believe, that in order to be a "good" counselor, I must be continually evaluating my professional identity, choices, experiences and looking for places where I can grow and learn.  In the past, I may have haphazardly looked through some tough experiences instead of wading in and sometimes sitting in them to grow and better myself.

As many of you know, I lost a friend and co-worker a little over a month ago through suicide.  Not a single day has gone by since that time that I have not thought of Bryan throughout my day and pondered my purpose as a mental health counselor, my own mental health and how his life has impacted my own.  It has truly sucked to put it lightly.  His friendship was invaluable to me.  His humor and insight unparalleled.  His ability to sense the support that his friends needed and provide comfort as well as his knowledge were something that now he is gone, I truly understand his impact on my life.  I think often of how, as his friend, I could have better supported and helped him in his journey and the pain he was experiencing.  I think of how often we, as mental health professionals, put ourselves on the back burner because we are so busy helping others, do not know how to ask for help (or feel funny asking for help) and often fight our own demons without the support we need because we put so may other things first instead of reaching for the hands that love us and care about us in our darkest hours.  In starting to climb out of the rabbit hole that I have fallen into since Bryan died, I began to think about what I consider my "peace" and how I can grow into making "peace" part of my everyday to better my journey here on Earth.  When I sit outside in nature, I can reflect on life and I feel peace.  I believe people that I have lost in my life, including Bryan, are there with me during those times.  I believe they are helping to push me to look at how I can grow, learn and become healthier.  In writing this, I believe that in part, Bryan himself, has pushed me into the next step of growth for my professional journey as I was wavering.  I don't think that this makes the loss of him any easier but it does provide me with some comfort that even in his tragic death, my remembrance of him is part of my growth.  So as I close for this piece of the puzzle, I want to acknowledge my thankfulness to Bryan for catapulting me into a place that I needed to explore but was wavering.  Thank you for causing me to re-examine my purpose and happiness as a mental health clinician and take the time to continue the journey of growth that is essential in all aspects of life.  I can picture him slapping his hands on his cargo pants, sipping his coffee, nodding his head, kindly laughing and saying "I think you are catching on now, Brie".

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Forging the path that fits your footprints

On the eve of becoming a published author, I have spent some time reflecting about my participation in this anthology and exactly what my teenage self would have been willing to listen to and soak up the information from.  I chose to write my chapter in the book about emotions I experienced throughout my teenage years and early 20s.  Thinking back, I am reflecting on what would have been most important for me to have that I didn't necessarily feel like I had to get me through those tumultuous times.  Having the blessing of "hindsight" I believe one thing that I would have greatly appreciated was someone that was a close friend or even a person I admired to simply listen.

 Often times, young people have the misconception that a good friend or mentor is someone that "gives good advice" when in fact, what I have learned now, is a good friend and mentor is someone that listens to you and helps you seek the best solutions for your life simply by asking questions and inquiring about the path you are lead towards.  As I have grown in age and into my profession, I have become acutely aware of how unhelpful "friendly advice" can truly be.  It can often cause us to question our path in the interest of other's dreams for ourselves and can cause us to lose sight of the vision of what we, as individuals, believe is the path to carve out our futures.  Those of us that seek others approval of our chosen path are often disappointed by the responses we receive and attempt to alter our own dreams and visions to fit others thoughts.  In the end, when we do this, we are left feeling empty, angry and unfulfilled.  We are trying to fit jigsaw pieces into a puzzle that have been uniquely made for us as individuals.

Having a mentor help you find our own way through your path of life is important.  There will be times, as a young person and even as a fully mature adult, that you struggle, stumble and fall.  In those times, knowing you have support and the company of "good listeners" is reassuring that you will always find your way back to the path specifically made for your footprints.  When you find that path, your prints will fit and your heart will feel full, blessed and happy.  The journey of finding that path can be filled with many emotions but in the end, the journey is what leads to fulfillment.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Your Eyes are Open but Are you Really Seeing?

For some reason when I begin to tap into the core of my emotions, instead of forging forward, I run - backwards, sideways, away, every which way but forward.  I haven't figured out where the fear is coming from but it's evident that it's fueling my flight.  How is it that I have what I consider a pretty damn good perception of why and where emotions from every other person on the planet stem from but I can't quiet the silent roar in my mind to figure out my own?  Fluxing emotions without warning are not a newsflash to me - they've always seemed like a natural part of my makeup.  I am slowly learning to reign them in; cautiously or should I say more cautiously, allow their arrivals and departures from my internal turmoil.  Learning to give my emotions not only a voice but a purpose that makes sense.  The quiet of my guidance is slowly resurrecting my soul.  How I have missed the pen and paper but continue to fear the unknown.  My purpose on this journey is not undiscovered, perhaps just unknown to me.  My eyes are open but I don't know if I have ever really stopped to see.  Here's to hoping that my eyes focus and begin to see and accept what has always been in front of me.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mischief Managed....I AM the Luckiest

It's been quite a while since I have connected with my blog - many things have changed in my life and I suppose the best way to "catch up" is to write about those changes. 

One of the most monumental changes has been our wedding.  Steve and I were married, finally, on August 6, 2011 at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo.  The days leading up to our wedding were definitely muddled and stressful.  Certain people tried their best to make this special time for us a stressful, muddled mess.  However, despite a massive stress migraine during the rehearsal dinner, Saturday, August 6, 2011 turned out to be a magical day.  We decided to have pictures taken before the ceremony in order to have as much time to enjoy the ceremony and our guests as possible after the wedding.  There were definitely some huge hiccups throughout the day, but none of those really mattered to Steve and I. 

The first day of our honeymoon at Mackinaw Island, we sat together and talked about how surreal the ceremony was to both of us.  It was the most awesome and yet strange experience we have both had in our lives.  If you have ever seen a picture of a ballet dancer in motion, completing pirouettes across the floor with dancers moving around her, you might have a slight indication of how we felt. 

From my perspective, as my bridesmaids were walking down the aisle, I was standing with my Dad talking about how we would make sure to make one another laugh while we were walking down the aisle to keep from crying.  As soon as Joshua Radin's "They Bring Me to You" began to play, the only other person that existed in that room was Steve.  Listening to this song continues to bring me to joyful tears because I think it is perfection of mine and Steve's relationship to this point, yet, on that day, it only made me smile.  If someone could have taken a picture of my heart, it would have been swollen and grinning with happiness.  I felt my Dad's hand enveloping mine as we walked, I saw people's faces smiling at me, but they were all like floating heads or balloons - it was very strange.  I saw Steve waiting for me at the front and while the walk was short I felt like it was slow motion.  The ceremony itself was beautiful and again, while I saw glimpses of our family and friends surrounding us, it really felt like Steve and I were the only two people present - the rest were playing on a movie screen in the background or something.  As we read our vows to one another, I could see Steve's best man and best friend, Craig, grinning at me, and if I was nervous it would have put me at ease, but I felt so calm and at peace and right standing up there with Steve.  Now granted the microphone chose a very opportune time to scream at me during my vows and apparently several people thought I was "with child" because I told Steve how excited I was to see the father he would be to our future children, but those moments added to the beautiful memories of the day. 

Our DJ must have smoked something pretty good that day and somehow managed to begin our first dance with MJ's "The Way You Make Me Feel" as opposed to Ben Fold's "The Luckiest" but once we got the right song we both knew WE were the LUCKIEST =)  We barely touched our food because we were in awe of the day and completely excited to finally be celebrating us.  Despite our DJ trying to put everyone to sleep with elevator music during dinner and also announcing that "BrieAnna is now DATING her Dad" instead of dancing, Joe Cocker's "Days Like This" was a perfect reflection of my Dad and I - we were happy, talking and laughing as we were dancing to a song that reminded me of my Dad's heart. 

I wanted to be sure to preserve some of the most precious memories of this wonderful day, so thanks for letting me share.  To those of you that love and support us together, THANK YOU for being there to celebrate such a wonderful day with us! 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Measuring self worth and finding connections

I have become quite accustomed to vegging out in front of a television lately - it dulls my mind and lets me escape from the chaos and crumbles that have enveloped me.   All the while, continuing to contribute to my depressive mood as studies have show television and computers will do.   However, whenever I see "So You Think You Can Dance" on television, something ignites inside me and I get emotional.  Cheesy perhaps but I think it is stirring a part of me that has been in hiding for a long time.  I may not be able to dance anymore but my heart really feels the music.  (You may be of the opinion that I can still dance if I want or choose to, I however, believe I am not willing at this time to allow myself that raw vulnerability just yet).  When I close my eyes I can see myself moving, much like a beautiful, flexible willow tree in a rainstorm.  Twisting, bending, reaching and flowing with the environment surrounding me.  I can still feel the pounding of my toes in my pointe shoes on the floor, hear the crackling of the resin on my shoes as I sweep across the wooden dance floor.   I can feel the rise and fall of my chest as I breathe in deeply to catch my breath and feel the warmth of my muscles working as I stretch across the floor.  I can hear the voice of my dance teacher as she counts out the tempo of the movement or corrects me and recall the scent of the dance studio.  My body remembers moves that my mind lost some time ago.  Every time I am brought to tears.  Perhaps my soul is sad because I stopped dancing.  Perhaps this is one of the few places that I truly felt like I was honest to myself, honestly Brie - loved and accepted just for me throughout my dreadful middle school and teen years.  Instead of trying so hard for acceptance much like I felt the need to do in middle and high school, I was okay, actually, I was more than okay at my dance studio.  I was accepted and liked and even perhaps looked up to.  I enjoyed my classes, the rehearsals and the recitals despite the nerves of dancing on stage.  I loved teaching the little ones ballet classes on Saturday morning when all of my "friends" from school were still warm in their beds. 

Even in college, when my skills had dramatically vanished, I still craved being in the studio - I took ballet, lyrical, jazz and hip hop while at college.  I subjected myself to feeling incredibly vulnerable at Western by taking a ballet class after several years of being out of the loop with a ton of well polished college students studying to be dancers.  I embarrassed myself constantly attempting to complete moves that I was no longer flexible enough for.  However, I went back every week without even a second thought. 

 I loved dancing.  It was me and nothing about it felt fake, forced, coerced or half-assed. 

Jade and I took Irish Step and swing dance lessons one summer while I was home from college- we had such a blast taking dance together.  We would practice all the time at home and laugh at our goofy attempts to do more difficult dance moves.  Perhaps dance is not only a physical release for me but also about the emotional connection to others.  My sister and I had a tumultuous relationship for the first 13 years of her life - I had issues and was constantly picking on her and being awful to her - I was jealous and with my level of immaturity that translated to being a huge jerk to her on almost all occasions.  When we finally began to get along, it was a wonderful experience to ENJOY something with her - to spend time getting know the kind and loving person she was and still is and laugh with her, not at her, because we were spending time together.  I think that was one of my favorite summer memories while I was in college.  Thinking about it now, I miss her terribly.  I think about her pretty much every day and am so angry at myself for how mean I was to her when we were younger.  I do not think I can forgive myself for being so awful.  I worry about her health and well being all the time.  I pray for her all the time and hope that God hears me asking to him to watch over and protect her on a daily basis.

 I wish we lived closer together. 

I feel certain we would sign up for another dance class together. 

Remembering my heart strings

It has been so long since I have felt comfortable in my own skin that I know this journey is going to be a long re-connecting with my true self process.  I was trying to think back to the last point in my life where I liked my self physically and felt confident in my abilities emotionally.  I do not remember.  That makes me really sad.  I can't quite think about when I started to be so down on myself and quick to point out my physical flaws but I have noticed my increasing negativity.  I am envious of those that are physically beautiful yet lack intrinsic motivation to better myself.  Depression at it's best I suppose.  I am surprised that people even want to be around me still.  I am grateful that my friends and family haven't given up on me and love me enough to continue to trudge through this mud with me.  Lately this mud has really felt like quicksand that I can't get a hand out of to reach solid ground.  Even if I could reach solid ground, I think that my grasp to hold on would be so weak at this time I would just slip back into the quicksand.  My ability to focus on anything has dwindled to mere minutes and my patience and understanding has probably gone out the door with it.  I need to change, I need to feel better and thus I have started this journey.

In beginning this new journey of healing I began to think that in order to reconnect with my writing I probably also need to re-connect with the things (the heartstrings) that defined and fulfilled my life.  I thought about how I would go about doing this and I guess to start I am going to free write a list of things I used to enjoy and perhaps begin to write about one thing at a time from there on out.  Who knows if it will be of comfort to me but if nothing else, the triggering of memories may motivate me to move forward on this journey instead of sitting on the sidelines watching the movies of everyone else's lives pass me by. 

When I close my eyes and contemplate the things I enjoyed in life, so many images, sounds, touches and smells come flooding back into my memory. 
*The very first thing I think of is ballet - the touch of the satin on my pointe shoes, the noise of the dance studio and the feeling that I belonged.  For almost 13 years of my life - the studio was the one place where I felt like I had friends and people liked me because I was Brie. 
*The summer time in St. Claire Shores.  The smell of fresh cut grass after the morning dew has dried by the sun.  The bike rides with Dad to the pier at Blossom Heath - stopping off for a New York Seltzer (do they make those anymore?) and a bag of chips.  Fishing off the pier.  Listening to the small waves lap against the pier pillars. 
*The days spent at the library with Mom and Jade.  Checking out 80 books every two weeks and reading until our eyelids closed on us at night.

Writing - all the time - any way I could about anything that came to mind.

Camping - spending days immersed in the natural beauty of our planet.

Laughing - I mean really laughing - finding something humorous and laughing so hard I am brought to tears and my belly hurts and my face aches from smiling too much. 



Playing Soccer

Ice Skating

Making things - crafts and gifts for people.  Creating.

Naming pets

Hugs and snuggling

Game nights and evenings in

Red wine

Naps on a rainy afternoon

I believe this list will be a web of ever flowing memories that I will add to and write about throughout this process.

Cheers to the journey of making sense of my own mind and the paths I have chosen to travel in the past several years....Trudging through the mud off the beaten path in my best attempt to create my own new and beautiful path. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I am here

I am not quite sure where to begin pick up.  It has been so long since I have been connected with myself; with what I have enjoyed that I am not even sure I remember.  I feel like some people in my life over the past five years have sucked the marrow out of my being like deatheaters.  They have left me feeling weak and weary and unmotivated to move forward.  Who the hell are they to take anything from me?  I want to scream and swear and tell them to go find a hobby or perhaps take some time to look at themselves instead of using a microscope to harass me.  I am angry and resentful, wanting retribution, but recognizing that my heart needs healing and peace instead. 

This is my starting point for healing and peace.  So, I guess for now, it's day one.  My best effort at regaining my footing; what makes "Brie" Brie, begins here.  No promises.  No expectations.  It just will be whatever it is. 

I am slightly apprehensive of what my hand will unlock in my heart once I start really digging deep in my writing - things that used to be at the core of my makeup and are now locked tightly somewhere in the crevices of my mind/heart/soul and they have been there for a long time .  The cobwebs need a thorough rinsing in order for me to see clearly what my core once was or perhaps the hazy sight is the beginnings of building a new, older, wiser Brie? I think that is a fat chance but at this point, who knows. 

The depression has been here for a while - I somewhat welcome it like an old friend - I know him well and he seems to enjoy my company.  He causes me great pain and physical issues but for some reason, like a love story gone awry, I can't seem to let him go.  He has made me believe in some twisted way I need him.  I am a counselor, I know , TRUST ME, I know, yet, I still struggle to really SEE.   I recognize I must serve him his eviction papers but I think I should do so slowly and gently.  That way, perhaps, I can avoid a rapid meltdown and transition slowly into  me again, whoever the hell that is.  The tears, the damn, hot, salty tears are frequent already.  It's quite ridiculous the things that cause me to cry these days.  But, tears bring sleep and quiet my anxious mind so I let them keep coming.  I feel better after each cry.  Perhaps the amount of time of my feeling better will increase substantially the more tears I allow to be least that is what I am going to continue to tell myself for now. 

 I do not want anyone to tell me it will get better - because quite frankly, I felt that would happen when I left my last place of employment and now see that it landed me in an even more emotionally exhaustive place.  I know it could be so much worse, too.  I know.  Maybe one day it will be different, but my reality and perspective are a tab bit askew from anyone else and right now I am here. 

I am HERE. 

And you know what, today that is best that I've got and I am OK with that.