Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Grief is in itself beautiful. It has the power to transform, move, and awaken. This grief is not something we allow to happen. Often grief comes to us and we let it take its toll... to steal, freeze, and withdraw us from life.

Life itself is an interesting journey. The beliefs you have for yourself, about yourself, and who you are can change so much from grief.  I have read through some of my old blogs and am so perplexed on some of my hangups. Some of my grief about being a single woman, about being a vegan, about being divorced. I never really understood who I was. My idea was so self limiting.  I never truly understood my grief or allowed it to be with me. I just wanted it to end.  No more suffering, no more grief just a picture perfect happy life......

I took a huge risk this last year and took a job doing family care meetings in oncology and critical care. I truly did not know what that would look like but  I leaped.  Quickly I realized how I really knew nothing about grief. I understood some of its principles but I truly did not know how to anticipate what my patients and families may be going through.

My role has taught me so much.  Grief is not singular, it is fluid. Its learning something is coming you did not anticipate for your life. Its scary. It can linger with you as you survive your fears. It can change your very essence.

In our culture we don't truly allow for grief to have a face. We must fix something and move on. We can be sad for a moment, but we must not dare dwell on this. After all... everything works itself out, right?  After this past year I don't believe we must move away from it. Its not as horrid, grief is a living and breathing thing. It should be allowed to transform, and we as human beings should be allowed to sit with it and experience what our grief means for us

Death. Death happens to us all. How it happens and when it happens can impact a persons soul. This level of grief is something different for each of us. Are we the ones dying? Letting our life go, who we are and accepting we don't truly have any more time can be horrifying. For some it can be an end to pain, no more suffering of our earthly bound bodies.  Some death is expected. We often expect our grand parents to die and those older than us. Their loss is not with out pain, but often the blow is softened by the life long belief that those older than us die before us. Some death is unexpected and feels as though it is breaking lifes' rules. The loss of a child is one example.

What is loss in a world full of pain. Bombings, shootings, murders.. horrendous acts of violence from mankind toward mankind.  Its hard to accept. I read people saying this is our new world, our normal. Hurting others has always been part of the world.. dividing, conquering... isn't a new normal.  it the new normal, I hope pain never becomes normal. I hope no person has to experience tragedy of any form. We say this is part of life. Part of sin. I just have to ask why? Why do we have to accept this? Can we not take a stand, and say this is completely unacceptable? Loss of life, of our loved ones is an immense burden.

My family recently lost the life of one of our most vivacious of souls. My sweet nephew Tannan left our Earth a month this last February. Tragedy. Unexpected. No violence. No weapon. No person to blame. He was so healthy. He was here one moment and gone the next. Life stopped for us all. His parents so full of ache, my soul so full of sorrow.  As expected his loss has been incredibly difficult for my sister My beautiful... beaming... positive sister so full of tears as of late.  The sudden loss of a my sweet nephew Tannan, was so unexpected it has changed my family forever.
He was only 8. When I was told he was gone I was so terrified.

Here I was a professional who worked with those who are dying every day. I help families prepare. Yet I am so unprepared. In the first few weeks following his loss I was so terrified. The drive to my sisters home the day  he left, felt so long. I did not want to arrive. I did not want it to be real. But it was. It is. He is gone.

His loss has taught me about grief. To truly understand that it can be an awful thing, but also something to be grateful for.

How can I be grateful for grief.... it is the reminder of who I am. Of who my Tannan was and who he is.  He still lives on in my life every day. My daughter loves him dearly and often misses his presence.  This kinds of grief allows me to miss him and be thankful I got to be part of his family. The person he is can not be expressed in words. I could never tell you exactly who Tannan is as a person, just like a picture can never capture someones full beauty.  He is the grief I will wear. I will wear him proudly.  I am so honored I was his aunt.

This loss, however has taken its toll. People engage you during new loss. They understand you may be sad, they understand you may be with drawn, and they want to help. But not for long. The next event comes along and your sorrow has all been forgotten.  No one wants to hear that you are still grieving. They have moved on. So should you. The world is wrong, sometimes its ok to both move on and stay still. Give yourself permission.

My life changed. My families life has changed.  We experience so much now. Tannans loss changed my sister, his mother. She has a difficult time allowing herself to be happy.  She has moments of happiness I know. I see them, but she can't. She feels as though she should not be happy that this is a privilege she should have to live with out. She has laughter and tears. She doesn't yet understand she can have both.  She can be in her sorrow and be in her joy. I pray she allows her self to be in both moments with out feeling the guilt of out living her son.

Through watching her, I understand now that its ok to have a multitude of emotions. That we must allow others to have mixed emotions and encourage others to express not just happy moments but those that haunt them.  You must let yourself have the freedom to grow and be more one thing at a time.  Life is not black and white. It is colorful.  Life is so precious. Every moment. They say you only live once. This is true, and we never truly know when our last day on earth is.  So live well. Allow your self to sit with your emotions. To let them fill you up and move you.  Let them grow you. There is a reason you feel.  I feel grief today as I play with Tannans older brother. I think he should be here. I don't stay in that sadness  I let it turn to grief, I let it move me. I kiss my other nephew and tell him how much I love him and then I whisper to Tannan how much I love him as well.

This is our sweet Tannan the day on his very last day with us.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

More struggles of the single girl

So I know a lot of what I write about often has to do with my relationships... in reality my lack there of.. a relationship. Its crazy I genuinely believed when I got divorced I would be remarried by now.  I had absolutely no doubt in my mind. I believed I was waiting... waiting on God. Then I got fed up of waiting and went on my own man finding crusade. That crusade has ended in pain, mistakes, and some seriously bad decisions and events.
For those of you who don't know, I have been single for the last 6 years, divorced for just over 5.  When I pull comparisons.. the people who divorced around the same time as me.. are already married with more kids... I haven't even been able to keep a guy interested or stay interested in a guy for more than a few weeks.  Sad but true.  In my thirty years of living I have maybe been a relationship with a man for 5 years total.

It has occurred to me several times.. even throughout out this blog, that perhaps God does not want me to date. He wants me to be single.  Why. I don't want it. Perhaps my limited relationship time simply means... I am not meant to have those types of relationships. I cringe at that thought. Cringe that Gods plan for me equals a life with out romantic love.  I swear to you I can argue for hours about how my life will be better if I was married... all my reasons however.. have to do with me. They all start with I will have X, Y, Z.

I know if I asked any married person, their overall happiness and feeling of things they want to have or would like to have ... are probably around the same as mine.  I am not unhappy. I have often focused too much on what I don't have, not what I do have.  I have loneliness... and freedom.  They go  hand in hand. I have no one to figure out whose family we are celebrating holidays or birthdays with. I have no one I need to ask to make sure I can do something or spend a certain amount. I don't have to be accountable to any person but myself... and GOD.

I think what makes being single so hard in reality.. is that the norm is to be in relationships.

Seriously.. when I think of that I feel silly. I very rarely fit the norm. I drive people nuts with my oddities... I even am the odd one in my weird family.  But its true.. my single-ness stands out to me when I see people posting adding, engagement, kissing and cute family photos on Facebook. These things make me feel... in the worst ways... jealous.  I hate that feeling... I don't sit well with it. Its my least favorite emotion. I would rather feel sad and cry all day. But really sometimes I catch myself feeling like I am missing out some how.
What I'm thinking: Single woman

But I don't believe its true. When I really think about it.. I am not missing out. Silly as it may be, but right now this is where God wants me.  He wants me single. Its loud and obnoxiously clear. Only God knows if it will end.  Part of me wants it to end... in 3, 2, 1... but the other part wonders.. what kind of life could I live if I really listened and obeyed the direction in which God leads me. For now he leads me to being single.  Finally feeling content.. and happy with just being me. 

Thank you to all the women who have helped me get to this place. My Heathers, my mother, Kelsey, and some other fabulous ladies. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Lets talk: women's sexuality

I read a wonderful blog ( the other day. For the most part I agreed with what the author had to say. I respect that she was willing to see how she had poor discernment on her first post and was willing to say so and repost. However, her post got me thinking about how women are perceived on a sexual level.

There is still a great stigma that exists on women and their ability to express their sexuality. I am not sure where it comes from but it has existed in our culture for too long.  Yes times are changing and women are allowed more and more to express themselves, however what is allowed, in my opinion only enforces stereotypes and continues to lock women in a box of expression.  Now don't get me wrong the following discussion is full of my opinions and own personal experiences, but my desire is to create an enlightenment on who women are sexually.

I often get upset when I hear discussions about how women's sexuality. There is often double standards, ridiculous expectations, blurred lines, and a culture that lacks awareness of women's sexuality. You hear from blogs like the one above that young girls are too seductive. Yet at the same time you hear that in marriage it is the female partner that lacks the sexual drive.  Its interesting. If the same young girl can be seductive how does she learn to shut down sexually? The answer is convoluted and saturated with expectation of our very confused society.

In my church I have heard it said that men are visual by nature. That women should be careful how they dress because men can't "un-see" the sexual images of an attractive woman. They say men are pleasure driven.  In the same breathe its said that women aren't as driven by the visual field and often do not enjoy sex the same as men. I believe both of these facts to be basically untrue.  Human beings are sexual by nature. Both male and female. Not one or the other.  In order to have survived as a specie both genders had to partake in the act of sex for the last few thousand years. In order to desire to reproduce their is some scientific proof that women are attracted to mates that look like they could protect off spring. Thus basing the desire to mate on a visual aspect. In order to desire to continue to mate women must enjoy the act. Because if they didn't child birth would not be worth going through over and over with out also enjoying the act of getting pregnant.   I can't imagine how human beings would be here in the great numbers that exist today if women didn't enjoy sex.

Even the bible discusses how women enjoy sex and enjoy the look of their mate. Yes, the bible. The song of solomon is all about the act of mating and enjoying sex between a couple. Song of solomon 5:10 My lover is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand. 11 His head is purest gold; his hair is wavy and black as a raven. 12 His eyes are like doves by the water streams, washed in milk, mounted like jewels. 13 His cheeks are like beds of spice yielding perfume. His lips are like lilies dripping with myrrh. 14 His arms are rods of gold set with chrysolite. His body is like polished ivory decorated with sapphires. 15 His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as its cedars. 16 His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my lover, this my friend,
Reading this, it becomes clear to me that women in generations past have enjoyed the way men look in a lustful manner. The expectation that women should be modest should be met by a similar expectation that men too should be modest.

But what is modesty? what is appropriate what is not?  Who defines this? Society defines what is acceptable.  Young girls with pouty lips are obviously "inappropriate". Our society has the expectation a woman look a certain way and at the same time be modest. Its a mixed message. The porn industry is filled with women in the same sultry pose.  If it was truly unacceptable in society, the porn and sex industry would not be booming like it is.  Men expect a woman to be "thin" "young" "attractive" right? When a woman is attractive she is then sexually desired? Is that what the message is? If you are a woman you have to be sexy to get a mate, yet if you are too sexy you are shunned.  I often believe what is believed in our society is propaganda to continue to allow the porn industry and the sex (human trafficking) industry to continue to grow.  Men are allowed to look at naked women and buy sex because women are inappropriate. They deserve to be dehumanized.  Right? The same woman who may look at a man lust fully is told she is behaving like a man or inappropriately. Double standard.

What am I getting at you wonder? I am getting at the need to educate people on sex. Their is so much focus on how a woman can be inappropriate and how she is too "sexy". Yet when she is married she has learned that its not okay to be sexy and is expected to be sexual after being told it wasn't okay. Very confusing! People need to understand that both men and women are sexual beings. Sex shouldn't be sold. Women being sexual isn't an excuse for a man thinking inappropriately or buying sex. Men need to be educated as well. They should be taught how to be respectful and taught that women's bodies are beautiful not inappropriate items to be lusted after.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Person to professional ethics

Describing in written words who I am as a person in ethical terms is a difficult concept.  Do I share what I believe, what I have observed, what I have experienced, or what others have said I am.  Do I use the code of ethics to which I am held on a professional level or do I share the ethical standards I have in my own personal life.  I believe in order to introduce my self in ethical terms means I have to address me from all the above stated view points and not in a singular format. Who I am as a helper is intertwined with who I am as a human being.
According to my personal belief system, my ethics are my morals and values. I tend to believe in general that there is right and wrong choice. I believe that actions can make a person “bad” or “good”.  I value helping others make ‘right’ choices. I believe it is morally unjust to watch others suffer as I value others lives and the well being of others.
My mother likes to tell people that from a small age my moral compass was strong. She shares many stories with my friends saying that these were just signs pointing to my future choices in schooling and for career.  I would agree on some levels.  When I was about five years old I remember feeling a deep sense of compassion for others.  I had a friend who had difficulty not peeing the bed at night. Every night this happened this friend would get brutally punished by their parents. They would either have to eat soap, be spanked, or lay in their pee for a few hours. I remember feeling angry about this. One day I was playing at this friend’s house.  Their parents found out they had peed their bed so they made them go back to bed and lay in their urine. I had a deep sense of sadness and anger.  According to my mom I began screaming at them. My mom says I told them what a bad mom and dad they were and that I would pee on them. All I remember is that after this day I was no longer allowed at this friend’s house. This example is how I felt I should start, with acknowledging that my sense of a person and what’s right and wrong began even before I truly understood what it meant to help others.
I value others feelings of safety. Growing up my world was unsure. I was born to a teen mother. My mother always struggled financially, I had not father figure growing up, and lived in section 8 housing while eating food provided by food banks or food stamps.  I wanted to change my world growing up. I wanted to be able to play on sports teams or have a tree to climb and a yard to roam in. I didn’t have the opportunity to experience those things. At some point I began to believe that in order to change it for myself I must change it for others. As a teen I would participate in fundraisers for food banks and donation drives for children who were in need of clothing.
            Even though my family had very little, my mother was very giving.  At thanks giving she would make a few dozen cookies. She would cut up paper and have my sister and I draw designs or what ever we wanted on these papers. She would use these papers as “thinking about you cards”.  We would take these cookies and cards to Seattle and walk around and handing them out to the individuals who we saw experiencing homelessness. I believe this experience was powerful for me.  Every thanksgiving I still go out and hand out cookies and cards to individuals whom are living on the streets. I believe that even when I don’t have much, I have something to share and to give to others who have less than I do.
 I believe that I have always had a deep sense of empathy and compassion for others.  My sense of being kind to others is deeply tied to how I see myself as a helper.  This is what motivates me as a professional.  They are not separate for me.  
I work as a youth chemical dependency counselor. My job with them is to help them to meet goals they set for themselves. I get to experience with them ways they can change their lives.  I see their struggles and I see their successes. It is both a difficult and rewarding job.  Working with these youth I see what can be fixed in the community. I become knowledgeable to what gaps exist in services and I see what can be improved. The ability to gain this knowledge is linked to my belief that I must change things for others. Here is a list of some what the young people I work with experience: hunger, homelessness, aging out of care, and human trafficking. I am hopeful that even though I can’t fix what has happened I perhaps can make an impact that will prevent it from happening to the future youth I will work with.
When I leave work however I don’t turn off the fact that I am a helper. I still participate in advocacy for those who are less fortunate. My desire to find a way to help others and advocate for others has motivated me to go to school so that I could learn the tools to effectively help. I am in the process of my journey to getting my Masters of Social Work. My hope is to be able to continue to learn how to help individuals who struggle.
My biases as a helper are many. My professional career has helped me to become what I consider a better, less judgmental human being.  During my childhood I was exposed to many things that encouraged my becoming a helper, but also built with in me a large sense of what I deemed “bad” people.  It wasn’t until after I began my schooling for my MSW that I began to understand how to see people as individuals and how to see each individual in their environment and how these experiences can make recovery difficult. During the beginning of my degree I took a diversity course. The professor asked me if I had any biases, naively I said I had no biases. She helped me to identify some of these.
My mother for the first 8 years of my life had a problem with drinking. She would date men whom also struggled with similar problems. I remember parties in our home; I remember her experiencing the comedowns, and her moods.  I once found a needle with my sister, she picked up poked herself on accident. We went to the ER. She ended up being fine. At 8, my mom met a sober female.  This woman motivated her and challenged her. My mom got sober and began raising my sister and I with the idea that a person can have fun with out using drugs or alcohol.  To this day both my sister and I have never used drugs or drank alcohol.  Unsure if it was all the scary things we were both exposed to that has motivated us to not use, or if it was how she raised us after she became sober.
The sobriety that seemed to happen so quickly and for my mother has set a par in my head. I know her life wasn’t easy, yet she decided to do something very hard. Before I became a chemical dependency counselor I struggled to understand people who had difficulty getting and staying clean. It bothered me that people would seemingly choose drugs or alcohol over their families.  I did not have a full understanding of the disease that is addiction. 
My personal ethics has gotten in the way of my professional ethics and vice versa. I feel this has made me grow as an individual.  For example one of my core belief systems is to believe there is a right and wrong choice.  I used to honestly believe I ‘knew’ the right choice that should be made. I find the idea that I ever felt this or thought this to be completely absurd now.  I still feel deeply that there is a right and a wrong choice. However I understand know that the right or wrong choice is for each individual to make. There is no way as a person or a counselor I could ever make a choice that would work in another individual’s life. Only the person experiencing the problem truly understands what is best in their life. 
Another bias I discovered I have was that I believe that all people who are in services want help. As a person who is compassionate and empathetic and sees where people are struggling I often assume all people want help overcoming these struggles. Often in the field of chemical dependency counseling this is not the case. Often they are required to be there and they don’t want help with quitting.  With my youth they often want help to get back in school, get their parents off their back, or get off of probation. In my experience very seldom do I come across a youth who is there to get help quitting substance use. Most of the clients I have worked with plan on successfully accomplishing completing the program I work in and they believe once they have got their parents trust back, back into school, or off probation, they can go back to using. In a way they want help accomplishing how to do this, but they don’t want help quitting substance use.
I believe that looking at who I am ethically will continue to change as I learn more through out my schooling. I believe it will continue to change as I learn from my clients, other professionals, and even through my own experiences.  I do think at my core will always be the compassion for others, but the way in which this drives my helping may change as I continue to grow as a person.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Out of Egypt

These past few years have been a spiritual struggle for me.  I have gone back and forth between being angry at God, ignoring God, and trying but failing to rekindle a love I feel I once had for my creator. I have felt that God isn't listening to me. That I have been forgotten.

About a month ago I received an email regarding the single life and patience.  I vaguely remember it. The only part that stuck out was that it talked about how God delivered his people from Egypt and something or other about how they longed to go back. The only reason I remember this (for those of you who know me well the answer is obvious) is because the word Egypt was involved. This moment at the time was greatly insignificant. Just more justification in my heart that God just doesn't get me and doesn't really care.  That same day, I was out at the beach, throwing sticks for my puppy crying... and asking God... to please please speak to me. I think I remember begging and yelling.. maybe even bribing. But at the time all I felt was alone and unheard.
About a week ago,  I opened up my Bible and the page I so happened to open to had to do with how God delivered his people from Egypt.
Well.. it should have struck me then... to pay attention.. but... as with all things, GOD must strike me over the head quite hard before I stop and listen.  But at this point all that occurred to me was well theres Egypt again, why does everyone hate on Egypt.    GOD in all the infinite Wisdom that a supreme being could possess... knows how I love intrigue and knows that is how I must be "reeled" in. So the following day I was listening to the radio in the morning. I have been doing my best to mix up my love for horrid techno rock music with a bit of praise mixed in.. about 1 song a day... I feel covers my worship singing abilities. So as I switched the station I caught the tail ed of the radio host saying something or other about Egypt.

That is when it occurred to me.  There is something about the story of Moses and the delivery of Gods people from Egypt that God wants me to look at.  Chance would be hearing or seeing the word once or twice... but I figure its not chance and I should investigate what messages I am missing.

So I dutifully googled the delivery of Gods people from Egypt. Yes I know. EPIC fail. Shoulda coulda woulda pulled out the bible.. but.. Google seemed to be the easiest way to solve my curiosity.  In reading I couldn't really relate to the story. Its a story I have heard at least a dozen times. And as it is my favorite story in the Bible.. I know it quite well.. so what is it that I am missing.

God was using my favorite story from the bible, and calling by attention to the particular aspect of deliverance from Egypt.

That  is when it occurred to me... what does Egypt symbolize. Egypt is what enslaved Gods people. Egypt is where God freed his people from. IT is what they longed to return to when they were afraid of the future.

God has rescued me from many poor choices. Poor choices in which I often enslave myself to committing over and over and over again.  When it comes to men and relationships in particular, I prefer to go back, rather than be alone.  It doesn't matter how awful the men or relationship truly was. Its familiar comforts are seemingly more secure than  the unknown of my future.  Just like the people of Egypt.. they wanted to turn around, to go back to the safety and comfort of what they were enslaved too... I want the same.

This notion and idea that occurred to me was confirmed tonight.

I do not usually leave my radio on christain stations. Today I did. When I got in my car after school and turned it on the bible study or discussion that I normally ignore and turn off immediately was on.  The speaker was.. can you guess... talking about how God delivered his people out of Egypt. The speaker shared that the people had such a struggle on the way to the promised land, they argued, failed to trust, and longed to go back to Egypt.

Sounds familiar. I believe God has told me that in my future their is a promised land. One with a  fulfilling and healthy relationship. One in which my life is much more stable than it is right now. Just like the Isrealites, my days are filled with uncertainty, doubt, mistrust, and unbelief.

Several times over the past 6 years of my dark journey I have tried to go back to something awful.  God apparently wants more for me. God puts up every obstacle possible so that I have difficulty returning. God continuously removes people from my life, whom, I begged at the time to have remain. God pushes me forward and onward. I am urged to be patient. As I feel I can not possibly go on, that this journey is so unbearable, I am beckoned away from where I long to return.  I do not know how long my journey is. I do not know when or if I will reach the promised land.

But I do know that tonight I feel loved. I feel like God did listen to me. He did speak to me. And most importantly I listened.