Saturday, November 20, 2010

are ya feeling it?

So my goal was once a month.
Lets count this as October, I will hit ya up again in NOV.
The basiscs of life:I am in Denver, have a place to live in a cute house, in the city, a ten min bike ride to downtown, my dog Oliver has come to join me in my little abode. I live with a nice women who has two dogs, who Oliver has bonded well with ( the dog and the lady). The Veteran’s hospital is treating me well. I have 7 clients I meet with on a weekly basis, and am attending several groups, which I am slowly becoming a facilitator for as well.

Right now I am learning about lonliness. IS this a struggle everyone has? Or is it that those who are struggling feel lonely? SO many of my clients talk about how alone they feel in the world, that it seems like no one understands them or can relate to what they are going thru. I have to be careful not to see those I see in a professional setting as a cross section of humanity, although I think it does represent many themes that exist outside of those who are seeking mental health.

I have held a belief that marriage ( a healthy, solid, good one) would be the antidote to the pain of loneliness. Once I find the person who I want to fall asleep with and cant wait to share the next day with, to learn and explore the world and share my thoughts and ideas with, who I can always come home to, loneliness would no longer be the white noise of my life. I understand that this picture is a bit of a mirage. No one will I always like, nor enjoy sharing my space with.

But i wonder, once I no longer call it loneliness, because we have "found each other", does the pain just morph into not being understood, or unappreciated, or some other sense of disconnect?
I look at all the married people around me ( they are most of you  ) and I see that they are not alone anymore. I envy the comfort of sharing meals and details of life with the same person. someone to be there to struggle over the fears, and challenges life rudely burps into the stream of living. I know and see though, they are no more or less “happy”, content than me. They are able to point out the bliss my existence holds, lazy mornings, spontaneity, a bounty of people I am able to connect and be with. I have freedom, flexibility and guilt free selfishness.

So clients come to me when they are being swallowed by their pain. The military folk have been taught to deal, cope by shoving it down and holding it together. Don’t talk about it, or feel it or do anything that might make you touch “it”. But this stuffing processes becomes all consuming, it’s all you can maintain, and it erodes at your ability to function, to have relationship, let alone experience positive emotions. So they come to me, sit across from me and ask, what can I do? Is this fixable?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Neva and me and Neva,Oliver and mom from camping extravaganza family trip

My summer Roomie ( aka my sanity and angel) from the summer and our dear friend Sara

Another Smithy favorite, my dear Catherine. at one of our many summer potlucks ( we gotta eat right, even if we are studying non stop) :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

So many homes and so homeless

Instead of reflecting, summarizing on all that has passed, I will leave what has been lived as life, and start a fresh.
I appreciate everyone's comments to keep on blogging on and they are the main reason I am restarting after my lapse we'll call it.
I have arrived in Colorado. My second and final smith placement. I didn't choose Colorado for a placement, my top priority was working in a VA. Many professionals I have talked to have expressed how valuable of a place it is to be in as an intern, so that is what I asked for. And thus I am at the Colorado VA.

My moving, restarting has me pondering the idea of a home a place, a community.
I was sadden to leave North Carolina ( more than I realized originally) I had connected with really wonderful people and the community, space was beginning to feel like my own place, people.

This past summer I returned to Massachusetts, and fell into the ease and comfort of my smithy friend community. The friendships that were started last year continued to deepen. The need for one another is mutual as everyone is away from their home and loved ones. Sharing food, woes, complaints, swimming, wine, and study time eased the stress and intensity of the "Smith Summer". I felt thankful to not have to navigate making new connection with people, but have a "group" to be with.

As I returned to Oregon for a week with my family, I realized that it wasn't home for me any more. It is my beloved parent's, family's home, my favorite place on earth with some of my favorite people, but it was no longer home.

The thought that followed was, where then? I am almost 28; I am homeless.
This whole blog has been a record of my wandering. I take great pleasure in my adventures, my travels, my varied and rich experiences. But they do leave my roots without grounding. I am so blessed by being loved by Sooo many different people, I have such a wealth of relationships and support in my life. I am sure I have slept on the couch/ spare bed of almost everyone reading this blog.

But what makes a home? I know not literally homeless, but as in my place, my space, a community I leave and return to.
IT is not belongings, I know those don't make a home ( although I do envy married people's excellent cookware)

It takes time, familiarity, a sense of commonality with those around you, perhaps?
What else acceptance. Is this why we seek people like ourselves? Because they are the easiest to feel accepted by, the more we are like someone the more likely they will feel familiar and accept us.

I see this need for familiarity with the Veterans I work with. Only with one another do they really feel understood and known, what they have experienced and how it has changed them isn't something they could explain to anyone, so only with each other do they understood.

Maybe this is why I lack the feeling of a home, because I seek people, places and experiences that are unique, new to me, and I alone experience them, the combination of them all that is. I love the unknown, I uproot myself to feel and experience the world, feel blessed to skim the depth and breadth of diversity that exist. But these experiences, as they are experienced in my singular state leave me unknown, connected in such a scattered way.

Maybe it is not a lack of homes, but the abundance, I have been blessed to feel so connected in so many places, with such a variety of people, I have a lot of homes to miss, but not one to call my own.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

HOBO= homeward bound

Time? Where does it go, when did it pass? So surprising it never slows down, no matter how far away the future seems.

When I become more diciplined in another phase of life I promise to get better at this. I am living and find it hard to reflect while I am in life,especially when there are no events, just a full life.

But transition, changes are upon me and I find myself contemplative, full of emotion and thus ready to blog. I also have many to do's, assignments, demanding of my attention and thus my profound skills of procrastination make me blog.

I am sitting in the coffee shop where nearly 8 months ago, I sat crying silently to myself as I blogged, for I knew no one, had no where to live, no money, and no idea why in the world I choose such a place to do my internship.
I'm tearful now as I think of leaving those who have become my community, the fullness of my days, my challenges and life here.
No worries, Its finals prep time for the colleges, so being a crying 20somthing in a cafe makes me blend in well.

My life has been full of the lives of so many others.
five days a week I walk into a a corner a huemongous hospital, up four flights of stairs ( at least at lunch I take the stairs) Through two locked doors and into the lives of 18 people who are in crisis. When I think about my time on the Unit. I think- so many people, so many faces, stories, families, unknowns, puzzles to solve.
There are those who come on a monthly basis, unable to have the support in the community they need to get them the medication and treatment that would prevent themfrom getting to such a debilitated state every month.

There are the 20 somethings with a family history that predisposes them to psychosis,who due to the stress of a break up, or school pressure, or some other unknown have a psychotic break.

And those for many reasons, (usually trying many times over) have unsucsessfully tried to kill themselves.

I problem solve with the Dr's as to the reason, the source, the right medication, course of treatment, consider the insurance, find community resources for them, talk with families to get the history their impression and needs, and do my best to explain what is happening to their loved one. Those are the interesting days.

Many I sit at a desk, checking boxes on a form, calling people who don't return my calls, seeking help that doesn't exist for the Patient's that won't get the help they need, but is leaving the hospital. I know why insurance sucks and health care needs reform, but I also know, we are very very far from a solution.

Oh and in case your still reading you must be very dedicated to knowing me, so i'll tell ya I'm going to Denver in Sept. I asked to be placed at a VA hospital where I could do work in an outpatient setting, meaning doing "real" therapy, with "real" patients, long term, psychoanalytic therapy. I will be doing work with people who have experienced trauma ( military), which is also an main focus area for me. That was the most important to me, and Denver is where they sent me! Geographically not my top place, but i will make the best of it.

I'm in NC till may 10th, visiting home for the month of May and then will head to Massachusetts for my second summer. ....

Im 27, the youth and the age strike me every now and again when I think about my hobo state.

Friday, February 5, 2010

February- thoughts and reflections

A year has past (almost) since I started my blog, and the transient living.

My internship/ time in the South is over half way done. Somewhere along the way I fell for this place, these people, and find my self saddened by the thought of leaving. I am taking a wide open embraces of living and I'm learning that to make life full also means you will know when those arm are empty.
I'm finding lovely pockets of Durham to enjoy. I now know several places that offer quality coffee, and some fantastic mexican food ( what more could a girl need?), but overall Durham can be kinda blah. Shh dont tell the locals but I like chapel hill/Carrborro better. Athough Im not letting my ambitions die, I haven't been able to get out too much and see the south yet.

Life strums along.
I see people and am challenged on what makes normal? My job is to define, treat, and encourage the norm in people. I make judgment calls all day, and yet have this irking feeling that our common humanality is not in how close to "average" we become or feel.

I look at patients and am saddened that only occasionally do I see myself or my loved ones in them, for each and every one are the same as me and my loved ones. When I no longer see it, I've lost sight of the sense of the person, the humanity in them, and am only seeing the illness. (
I have found a great sense of connection through my pastel, suburban bible church. The community is diverse, although predominantly white. There are all ages, which is important, and I have found ways to be involved. I have been leading a monthly time of prayer. communion and worship and have loved having the freedom to be creative. We did foot washing and was blown away how vulnerable of an event washing someone's feet ( and letting another wash yours) can be. It is a challenge and I always need more time, but it has reminded me how much I enjoy public speaking,

So i'm continuing to be honored to be sharing lives, friendships, working to staying open, deeply investing despite potential separation that will come. I also appreciate the pace here, everything does move a bit slower, smoother, I'm secretly perfecting my southern drawl and learning how diverse a southern accent can be!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I feel bad for not having written in over a month. Some days I feel like I have nothing to say or want to publish and broadcast to the entire world, other days I feel there is too much to even begin to find the starting point. Currently I'm at the latter, but I have been so encouraged by all of you ( i.e my 10 family members and dear couple of friends :) )by you saying you like to read, and thus I will write.

Brief Update:
Still on the psych ward, feeling like I'm able to make a meaningful contribution. Meeting lots of people in different profession and patients with lots of different struggles.

Its over halfway done. At this point I feel like I am just making connections and settling into being in Durham, connecting with great people, finding community. And now I am really feeling the pangs of sadness about having to leave in a couple months.

Although it was COLD when I got back, the sun has been shining and I have been playing! I have been hiking, contra dancing ( watch a youtube video), eating yummy food, going to free events, volunteering, and spending time with people I like.
Thoughts, these are harder to tease apart as there have been many interlocking ideas. Themes of how we are so similar and so different, how we handle change defines so much of our experiences, attitudes and belief.

I'll start with yesterday, Martin Luther King day.
I felt like this was a really important day to "engage" with as it has great positive significance for the South and the community I live in. A southern experience I wanted to have.
The church I attend has a partnership with a African American BaptistChurch in South Durham, the mostly African American neighborhood, which sadly follows all stereotypes of poverty. We attended the church on Sunday and joined with them for a C/S project on Monday. I also attended a choir concert put on by a visiting African Children's Choir at DUKE, and went to a community wide MLK celebration service in the evening.

But some how I feel like I missed it. I don't know exactly what I was looking for, but I know I didn't find it. Maybe I was looking for inspiration, maybe I was looking for a sense of community, maybe I was looking for hope, a bit of what MLK sacrificed everything for.

I think I am realizing those feelings and accomplishments only exist in reflection. I thought alot about how sooo many people worked along side MLK, who are unknown, unremembered. How reluctant he himself was about doing the work he did, he was far from perfect, but every day struggled, for an ideal, a hope he could not possibly foresee ever occurring and never did. His greatness is celebrated because he is absent, he was given one day, how remarkable and how minute.

Only in summaries, resumes, descriptions are our actions noteworthy, inspiring and impressive. The actual living of them is not. My friends Danielle and Krispin are remarkable, admirable people, who are living their ideals, hopes and beliefs by choosing to live in poverty to be along side those Jesus commanded us all to help, love and be with. And they are miserable; the people they live alongside are ambivalent to their presence at best, and they do not get to experience very often the remarkableness of what they do. They sacrifice alot and life could be easier, better, if only they would compromise a little more.

The pastor who leads the church we partnered with here is a county commissioner and was praised by senators, representatives, mayors and many others at the evening service for all the remarkable and wonderful things he had done for his community. I spent the day crossing paths with him, and would not have believed they were describing the same Man. All day he was chased by pestualent worries ( the paint wasn't there for the volunteers to paint the walls, there were not scrapers to take off the old paint, the little old ladies chastised him for the lack of people vs the amount of food they were told to make,) his church has less than 50 people in it on Sunday, despite his passionate preaching.

Racism exist, poverty will always be present, violence is cyclical, people are fragile and heroes will eternally remain unsung until they aren't there to experience the singing. My friend who is the same age and brown ( her preferred ethnic identifier :)) was called a n-word in elementry school by her teacher. The west I sometime want to pretend is better, but I think about the roles Latinos play in our community and how they are treated. Because I am white I have the choice to be oblivious to how racism still exist. They do not.
Same with poverty and violence.
I guess I realize my drop in the bucket won't create inspiration or change that I can measure or experience or feel gratified by. But at least I will not be silent. The more you are in it the more you see the desperation and need in a situation.

Hope exist not in my actions making a difference but in a God who commands it, promising it is the most valuable thing I can do with my time, and breath.