Thursday, April 21, 2016

Another year has come and gone...

I've been quite lazy when it comes to posting on the blog.  I use up all my words and brain power writing discussion posts and papers for grad school, so by the time I'm done I feel like curling up and crying crafting.  My latest obsession, and another reason why I haven't written is that I've fallen in love.  With coloring.  I know, it's supposed to be for kids, right?  But it actually has done me sooooo much good! I got hooked upon learning about Johanna Basford's books.  She has two new ones coming out this year - one is a Magical Jungle book and the other is a Christmas book.  You may not hear from me until 2020 or so.  It really helps me relax and simmer down before bed.  I've also gotten very excited about learning coloring techniques.  I've done lots of crafting in my time, but never much with drawing or coloring because I thought I was terrible.  But then the Internet arrived, along with instructional videos of every kind, and ta-da!  I became an artist (at least, in my own mind, and in Pip's).

So when I'm not coloring, I'm studying.  I'm about halfway through my Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.  I love the content of the courses, but I'm dreading having to grow outside of my comfort zone and be the counselor someday.  Does that make ANY sense?  I know it will be the right fit if I ever get over my insecurity.  My internship should be in Summer and Fall of 2017.  Then I will graduate!  Whew.  I really hope to settle into a practice that is very general to meet the diverse needs of clients in WY.  We have such high suicide rates here, and I truly believe that every little bit of intervention helps prevent suicide and help people live fuller lives.  I also really hope to get back to leading support groups and to start some psychotherapy groups for people with mood disorders.  In August I will attend my second Residency for a week in Dallas, where I will put my group counseling skills to work during practice sessions.  

Nothing is really new with either of these two.  They just sleep a lot.  Pip always wants to be in my lap, which is difficult when there's already a textbook there (and sometimes, if we're being honest, a bowl of popcorn).  They think they are the neighborhood watch for our street.  They also think it is their job to growl endlessly at the chihuahua across the street (whose name we are uncertain of, but believe it to be either Taco, Nacho, or Diego, any of which are entirely appropriate for a tiny dog of Mexican descent).

Kyle is doing well, and we are planning a vacation to Mt. St. Helens and Oregon in mid-September.  We are both incredibly excited about the adventure.  I can't wait to see the ocean and tide-pools. I also can't wait to see my fifth grade teacher (who is super, wonderful, amazing, caring, supportive times a trillion, and one of the main reasons I love books and writing so much).  I also get to see my beloved Aunt Loretta.  It should be the perfect road trip.

Oh, speaking of road trip, have you seen this ad?

Well, that's pretty much Kyle and me when we are driving.  Kyle likes to take us on, as he calls, "bonus treks" or "scenic detours".  Meanwhile, I have the map in hand and two map apps, but somehow we end up going miles out of the way because he has a "sense" of where we need to go.  But hey, if it means spending more time with him listening to my road trip playlist, I'm all for it.

Last year we went on a spectacular hot air balloon ride (Kyle's Bucket List) and we didn't die (my bucket list).  We also spent an amazing weekend in Denver for my birthday where I got to see The Book of Mormon, which was one of the most irreverent, hilarious, and slightly shocking things I will ever see.  It was SUCH an spectacular show.

So far this year I have witnessed my beloved Peyton win the Super Bowl and then retire.  I joined a secret society (which I would LOVE to tell you about, but unfortunately, it's a secret).  I saw a former US President give a speech.  Sadly, I did not achieve the apparently impossible task of obtaining Adele tickets for her Denver concert, but I'm assured that there are many others like me.  Also, I'm still waiting for G. Clooney's marriage proposal, but I think he has some unfinished business elsewhere to attend to before he pops the question and gives me a ring.

So, that about wraps it up.  Hope you all are doing super.  Drop me a Facebook note or email.  I would love to hear from you.  :)  

Sunday, May 31, 2015


Time has just been breezing by and I wish I could get it to stop for a moment or two so it wouldn't feel like life is on fast-forward all the time.  However, so many important milestones are popping up here and there and they help me feel like life is on the right track.  It's a terrific feeling!

This time of year holds two important anniversaries for me.  First, and most importantly, the anniversary of my wedding day.  I am blown away that the 3rd of June marks our 9th year of marriage, and our tenth year of knowing one another.  Nine years ago I was finishing up my Literature degree and moving back to WY to marry my best friend.  Such a happy and sad time.  I hated leaving the life I had built in Nebraska, but I loved coming home.  Kyle and I are going to go on a sunrise hot air balloon ride this coming weekend in Boulder, CO.  I am so excited!  And I hope we live through it so we can celebrate #10 next year. :)

The other anniversary is not so happy, but still gives me good reason to reflect on how far I've come.  Two years ago I was in a hospital with severe memory and cognitive issues.  I didn't know why I was there.  I was scared and confused.  I lost my independence in many ways.  I was at a very low point, and didn't see my future or any potential for it.  My identity was shattered, and I became a different person in many ways.

Fast forward two years.  I just finished the second quarter of my graduate program for counseling.  While I already have a Masters, it's much more gratifying this time around than the first time.  That is mostly because I am having to work much harder for it.  But it's worth it!  Most significantly, I made the trip this past week to my first Residency, and I went all by myself.  I was so intimidated about the travel involved and the interaction this Residency would require.  I did myself proud, though.  I reached out to people.  I emerged from my introverted shell to interact.  I got from WY to GA and back with no mishaps (although when the Southwest airline said "Welcome to Mexico" accidentally upon our landing, I must admit I had a few moments of panic.  Fortunately, they were just tired and confused, not me!) I forced myself to explore a little bit of the city instead of holing up in my hotel.  I just kept telling myself, "I'm here, now I might as well take advantage of this opportunity.  And if I screw up, I get to go back home and no one will ever know it happened!"  I think I did all right, though.

I loved being in a new place and in the South.  I'd never been down there before. I loved hearing the languages, seeing new sites, and visiting with people from all over the world.  I loved the Coca-Cola.  I loved the excitement and passion of others in my Counseling program.  I did not especially love the humidity, nor did I have any idea what approximately half of the menu items were most of the time.  Google and I spent a great deal of time together trying to figure out what in Sam Hill I was eating.  They know how to make a mean dumpling down there, though!  I also started picking up the drawl, and I now say I am "fahn" instead of "fine".  Luckily I still had "ya'll" in my vocabulary from when I spent six weeks in Texas a few years ago, so I was somewhat prepared to talk their language.

It was a wonderful experience and gave me a much needed boost at a critical time.  I continue to surprise myself, and that is part of the excitement of being alive.  I made new friends and pushed my own boundaries.  I realized that I'm just as strong (and maybe even stronger!) than I was "before" the hellish year of 2013.  I realized how much I love sharing my life experiences with Kyle not because I can't do it without him, but because it makes it so much better to have someone to share the ride with.      

Saturday, April 11, 2015

My Office Makeover..

I never posted pictures of my office redo.  I thought I could redo my office in the week before I started a new quarter of school.  It actually took about three to four weeks, but here's the transformation and all it entailed. (And it was totally, totally worth it!!!)

Before the transformation began.  Purple painted over wallpaper on the walls.  Ugly office grade blue carpet on the floor.  A catch-all for random items. 

I began by removing strips of the purple wallpaper. 

 After getting all that wallpaper down, I spent what felt like about 40 days and 40 nights (actually about 2 days) spraying the walls with vinegar and water.  The thin paper that was left pasted to the wall came off in tiny pieces.  Excruciatingly tiny pieces.  Then, there was a paste left on the wall, so I scrubbed with more vinegar and Dawn dish soap.  By this point I was hating myself for starting this project and I was only 2 days into several weeks worth of fun.  What was I thinking?  

So fast forward several days or a week or so.  I spackle, I sand.  I spackle, I sand.  I finally get the new color on the walls - a color I LOVE - Benjamin Moore's Coventry Gray.  It's the same color that's in my living room, and with white trim it looks just lovely!  I put two coats on.  

Then I prayed to the remodel gods that when I pulled up that detested blue/gray carpet there would be decent wood floor underneath.  And there was decent wood floors underneath, but the carpet had been glued to it, and before that the wood floors had been sprayed with white paint.  

 I pulled up the tack strips along the wall, which was easy, but there were also these heavy duty staples pushed into the wood floor that were monsters to get out.  Don't look too closely because there might be one or five left in the floor that I just couldn't get out.  Then I scraped paint and glue off the floor, then scrubbed and scrubbed with Murphy's Oil Soap.  That is an amazing little potion!  

 Another 40 days and 40 nights later (it seemed) I was seeing vast improvement.  But!  What you can't really see in these pictures, but was obvious when in the room, was that there was a big gap between the baseboard and the floor where the carpet used to be.  What to do?  Take the baseboard off and move it down?  But then the gray wouldn't go far enough down and I'd have to paint that in.  Kyle suggested using quarter round, which some professional contractors see as cheating but I saw as life saving.  I picked some up at Lowe's, as well as a miter box and saw.  I had never cut pieces to fit into corners before, so it was a tiny learning curve but I picked it up quick, and I even kept all my fingers!  So after cutting came nailing, caulking, and painting.  I put frog tape on the floor to protect the clean floor from getting paint on it since I was so close to the floor when painting.  

Then I used a polyurethane coating and coated the floors to make them nice and shiny.  It took three coats with 24 hours in between coats.  And you need a LOT of moving air to get that smell out of the house.  I think Pip, Dobby and I were high for a few days.  

And after that my knees looked like this.  (Ignore the goosebumps.  It was cold.)

 Then I had to wait 7 days to put furniture or carpets on the floor.  Seven days!!!  You should have seen my living room with all the contents of my office stuffed into it.  It was a catastrophe.  In the meantime, I went area rug shopping.  I knew I wanted something squishy for my feet and something pretty.  Target never lets me down.  

 And since I hadn't spent enough time on this project already, I decided I wanted to do something really interesting on the wall with some Penguin postcards I had.  I'd gotten an idea on Pinterest from this post

But what I didn't realize when I started this little endeavor, was that a project like that takes math.  I don't do math.  I can balance my checkbook, but there's limits to what I can achieve.  Never fear, my sister-in-law Penny rescued me.  She helped me convert, and figure, and before I knew it I had a tape outline.

I'm a little obsessive compulsive (seriously), and so I spent hours debating how many of the cards to use.  The box had 100.  I wanted to offset them, so I decided I would use 98. But then which two to leave out?  I finally found two that I didn't like.  But, how to organize them?  Oh, the agony of decisions.  I set to work, but good, grief!  Not only did I have to measure above and below each one but beside!  And then I had to put 98 of them on the wall, one at a time!  What was I thinking?!?  (Notice how I ask myself this question quite often?)  Pandora and I hung out for the afternoon and we had it done in a few hours.  And it was all worth it!

I moved bookshelves and my desk and my chair back into my office.  

All my craft bins, organized by type of project, went into the closet area.  I currently have the doors removed because it made it much easier to access my supplies.  I don't like the sliding doors that were originally in there.  Eventually I will put bifold doors on the closet, but for now I've spent my budget on the redo, so it's just going to remain open for the time being.  I put a tiny bit of my hedgie collection on the top shelf of the bookshelf.  I have many, many more, but I have to figure out a better way to display them.  

 And my little angel on the door reminding me to "Dwell in Possibility". (Thanks, Maggie!)

So now I have a beautiful and cozy place to study, to Skype for my mock counseling practice sessions, and to craft when I can't sleep in the wee hours of the morning.  I am really loving it so far.  It was worth the headaches, the chaos of the contents of two rooms in one for four weeks, the fumes from polyurethane and paint, and the blisters, calluses and bruises.  It made me feel so good to do this project from start to finish with no help other than a few suggestions from Kyle when I was stumped about where to go next.  It makes me want to redo other rooms in my house.  Sort of.  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Some Thoughts on Shapewear...

I attended the lovely wedding of some friends this past weekend.  I watched as they pledged devotion to one another and shared their vows.  Bread was broken and rings exchanged.  I thought of the beauty of their commitment to one another, and reflected on the similar commitment Kyle and I made to one another almost nine years ago.  But what I was mostly focused on bloody uncomfortable my shape-wear made me.  I considered how much I dislike the idea of all those confining garments women have used throughout history, and the irony in the fact that I also use confining garments to feel more stylish and acceptable.  

I'm familiar with a basic history of corsets, also known as "stays".  Women have worn them for hundreds of years to shape their bodies into fashionable form.  Corsets were generally worn as undergarments, but were often elaborately embellished.  Many materials, including ivory, steel, horn, and whalebone have been used to produce their desired slimming effects.  They reached the height of popularity in the Victorian era, but started their decline just before World War I.  Corsets were one of many items given up during the war to free up metals and materials for the war effort.  There is some debate as to how harmful these garments were to women's health, especially during the Victorian era when tight lacing was the trend.

The image that always comes to mind when I think of corsets is the scene in Gone with the Wind when Scarlet wants to entice Ashley at the barbecue, and insists that Mammy lace her as tightly as possible into her corset so that she can get her waist down to a tiny 17 inches.  I've always scoffed at the idea of such an experience.  Who wants to be that uncomfortable at a barbecue?  Will a guy really notice that extra inch or two on a gal's waist?  And if he does, what does that imply, exactly?  Health hazards aside, the idea of cinching a woman into a garment merely for attractiveness is repugnant to me.

And yet, I do it, too.

I've struggled with my weight for about 22 years.  In that time I have tried any number of methods for appearing slimmer, at nearly any cost.  I've subscribed to the notion that beauty is painful.  I've spent too much money on garments promising to slim, smooth and flatten.  Most of them have not succeeded in fulfilling their guarantees, and those that do result in shallow breathing, lots of skin indentations from elastic, heartburn, nausea, and overheating, just to name a few of the effects they have.  In a particularly embarrassing admission, I even used duct tape in middle school to try to "tape down" the excess pounds.  Unfortunately, there are some jobs that are too unmanageable even for duct tape.  I underwent weight loss surgery, partly for health reasons, but partly so that I would fit into a more socially acceptable weight range.  While the surgery went well, recovery consisted of battling a wound infection that took months to heal and left a permanent scar.  Just one more example of beauty being painful.

I'm not my ideal weight, and I struggle with that every time I look in a mirror or buy clothes.  However, I am starting  to see the ridiculousness of an existence of discomfort for the sake of appearance.  While I can't promise that I'll ditch the Tummy Tanks and Spanx right away, I am starting to evaluate their worth and how much they might be costing me despite the peace of mind they offer that I'm smoother, an inch or two thinner, more acceptable and therefore more worthy.

I don't want to miss the beauty, fun and poignancy of moments such as the wedding this weekend just to feel adequate.  When I am an old woman reflecting back on my life, I doubt I'll remember the importance of shapewear.  But I will regret the moments I missed out on when I was focused on the wrong priority.   

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Being Grateful...

Lots of change is happening for me lately and most of it is very positive.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult, though!  The biggest change for me has been going back to school.  A year ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of being in school again.  I couldn’t read a book for fun, let alone comprehend big picture concepts from a complicated text.  Now I’ve completed the first quarter of my Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree program, and I did very well.  Much better than I had hoped!  I was so worried and didn’t think I could do it, but I did.  It feels really amazing to accomplish what’s important, but even more so when it’s something that I feared was unattainable. I was so worried about what it would mean if I couldn’t do this.  I am very grateful that I didn’t have to confront that.

Sometimes when life goes really well, I worry more about it unraveling than I do when it actually starts to turn bad.  Part of me knows that is a waste of time, and that I’m ruining the good with the “what ifs”, but it’s hard not to do it.  Right now everything seems to be going in the right direction.  I’m excited about my courses that start December 1st.  I’m looking forward to the holidays, which was not the case last year.  Kyle and I have a vacation planned in January and are excited about getting away together.  My mood disorder seems to be fairly well managed and my medications are being tweaked with only minor adjustments rather than broad changes. 

I recently had a conversation with someone about how measuring my current success is all relative to remembering where I was last year.  I find it hard to describe how difficult 2013 was for Kyle and me, and my mind is not yet where I want it to be.  I would love to see even more improvement in my moods, and I would especially love to see some improvement in my memory and cognitive functioning.  However, relative to where I was in 2013, when I was hospitalized four times, had a delusional episode, had a car accident that totaled my car, lost my driver’s license, could not answer simple questions such as “who is the president?”, and had up to thrice weekly ECT treatments, 2014 has been a lot brighter!  It’s a bit of a cliché, but I’ve come a long way!  I really have.  And to bemoan the fact that I’m not where I would like to be would rob me of the gratitude I have for how far I have come. 

Being back in school and learning, and being able to apply that knowledge, is my greatest achievement.  Knowing who the President is comes close, though.  Getting my driver’s license back was essential in feeling capable and independent again, and it’s been freeing (but a bit nerve-wracking!) to be behind the wheel again.  Being a partner to my husband again, instead of someone who is more of a child who needs to be taken care of, has also been helpful in reviving my sense of purpose and lifting my depression. 

I have more work ahead, especially in the area of reestablishing an identity after the loss of mine last year.  I’m starting to rebuild it, though, and discovering that some of the passions I had before remain important to me.  That comforts me and leads me to believe that I don’t have to completely reinvent myself.  It will just take some work to reestablish who I am and who I have become in light of the events of the last few years.      

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I noted in my journal the other day that I was happy to be alive.  I can't tell you the last time I actually felt happiness.  I've spent the better part of more than two years merely existing and wondering what it's all for.  Don't get me wrong.  I have a great deal to be grateful for, and I am aware of it and appreciative of it.  But knowing something in your head and feeling it in one's heart are entirely different matters.

The funny thing about happiness is I always think it's right around the bend.  When I get to high school I'll be happy.  When I graduate high school and get to the freedom of college I'll be happy.  When I can just graduate from college and not have the constant financial concerns and demands on my mind I'll be happy.  When and if... those two words can deceive me and keep me from realizing that happiness occurs in moments, not in wide spans of time.  Just like I'm not always sad, not always mad, I will not always be happy.  And I miss out on happiness by constantly waiting for it to arrive.

It's funny when I look back across my life and realize what were true times of happiness.  The happiest time in my life was when I was an undergraduate and finally found a home in my college's English department studying Literature and Humanities, and moved into my first apartment by myself.  I absolutely loved my studies, interaction with professors and time spent learning with other students.  Having my own place to live was a tremendous boost to this introvert.  But that period of time was also my toughest, because I was having trouble balancing life with anxiety and mood disorders that were untreated and undiagnosed along with working and paying for the expenses of living and being a student.  Isn't it ironic that the best and worst experiences can coincide right there and run parallel to one another giving an impression of that period of time in one's life which might not be accurate.  

And then in the last year of my undergraduate studies I met the man that I would marry.  A relationship of that importance was totally unexpected and made me deeply happy.  I sensed that I was accepted for and loved for who I was and that I could be myself - something that I wasn't accustomed to feeling.  The moments of pure elation were also mixed in with the stresses of a last year of school and living four hours apart and planning our relatively simple wedding, then moving me, and then discovering how to live well with this other person.  Again, my months of happiness were actually made up of moments squeezed in between the normal stressors that someone would encounter in that situation.

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”  This quote is attributed on to Theodore Roosevelt.  I find much wisdom in these words, but again, knowing something and practicing it are entirely different matters.  The things that have really mattered to me - my education, my marriage, my family - are not always easy to take care of, and are not effortless, but they lead to a life that I am more proud of and value more.

In my work to figure out who I am and what matters to me, I can look back on a variety of happy memories, and some I have had to have Kyle relive for me because I can't remember them.  I no longer remember my wedding day, but I can see in the pictures of that a day that I was genuinely happy.  I wasn't just putting on a mask of being ok.  I completely basked in the joy I felt that day.  Just a month earlier I graduated with my Bachelors degree that I had worked so hard for.  That was a moment of true joy and happiness as well.  Again, a picture tells me that my happiness was felt in my heart.  

Learning to feel has been a challenge to me over the course of my treatment for depression and anxiety.  It's very tempting to want to block out feelings that are unhappy, uncomfortable and that make me uneasy.  But, as I've learned over time and through reading the research of Dr. Brene Brown, we can't block out the bad without blocking out the good, too.  I find this incredibly true of myself.  I get irritated because I get so apathetic about everything from going to see a friend, the holidays or even bigger events.  I'm alive enough to go through the motions, but I'm not really living in these moments.  Without memories, experiences and moments that are felt, life can be quite empty.  

Of course, Mr. Robin Williams is on almost everyone's minds this week as we learn that he hanged himself and had been suffering severe depression.  A common refrain is, "Why would he kill himself?  He had so much to live for!"  I can't pretend to understand the depression that others experience.  I don't even understand my own a great deal of the time.  But I do see how the happiness and joy of life can be buried by the sadness and pain and the way it can become possible to feel that it will never go away again, or to even care if it will.  Williams' death has given me and many others a moment to reflect on our lives and what they mean.  He gives us an opportunity to ask what it's all for.  And if the answer is nothing, then it's an indicator that assistance is needed and a better way of living is necessary to keep from going down that same path.    

I have a necklace that I used to wear quite frequently.  It simply says "Hope".  I wore it as a constant reminder that there is always hope to be had.  But in 2013 I stopped wearing it.  I felt incredibly hopeless, especially once my treatments didn't show the promise they once held.  Everything was bleak, and nothing held meaning.  "I don't care" was a standard answer to most questions about what I wanted to do, eat or see.  Nothing mattered.  Hope had faded along with the silver lining.  I'm beginning to think, after registering for classes last week, that it's time to start wearing the "Hope" necklace again.   

Lately, life looks brighter, and not just metaphorically.  For me, my world literally gets lighter when I am in a better place and dimmer when I'm in a worse place.  Right now it is brighter, and I am taking note of the moments of happiness and realizing that IS happiness.  It's not a precursor to it.  That is it!  I grab onto it.  Maybe I write it down in my journal or snap a shot and share it with friends on Facebook hoping to spread joy to them, as well.  And happiness doesn't have to be anything big.  

Saturday was a wonderful day for me.  There was nothing special about it.  Kyle and I did a little grocery shopping, which I actually hate to do, but it was nice to spend the time together.  Then Kyle mowed the lawn and I got a few things done in the house.  He decided not to go into the office that day and would instead go Sunday.  And so randomly I suggested we play Trivial Pursuit.  Since we have a smidge of an age difference, (only 19 years), we sparred over whether we would play the 80s version that he would be more familiar with or the 90s version that would be better for me.  We finally decided to play both and have a sort of tournament.  In the end he won the 80s and I won the 90s.  We had a great time laughing about pieces of culture, history and movies we had completely forgotten, and it helped remind me of some of those same things that I had forgotten due to treatments.  We ribbed each other for not knowing answers, too.  We played for hours and it was delightful.  

As we got into bed that night I said to him, "I'm really happy tonight.  That was a lot of fun."  I don't even know the last time I truly felt anything that much.  I took it as a good sign, but a little terrifying, too.  If you feel one feeling, then you have to feel them all when they occur.  But part of this is knowing I have the ability to handle things well and with some skills I've been learning.  I could get anxious and spend hours thinking about what it means and whether a really good day means I'm starting to feel too good and maybe swinging to the high side of the disorder.  But maybe after a really crummy couple of years, a one really good day feels over the top good.  I think I'm just going to take it for what it is - a terrific day of spending time with a husband with whom I share many interests and who loves me as much as I love him.  That is happiness.  And it's enough to get me through the rough spots to the next patch of happiness and joy.  

*I apologize if this has any grammar or spelling issues.  Writing at 4am when I can't sleep can be hard on my writing skills.  :)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Putting "Courage Before Comfort" to the Test...Also Known As, I'm a Student Again!

I haven't been doing a good job of posting very often, but you might remember my post before last that talked about putting courage before comfort.  It's a terrific theory, but putting it into practice is a whole different matter!  I've had a couple of opportunities to try it out this summer, though.  I had a total hysterectomy in July - although that would more aptly be called "courage before discomfort".  But it came with an added benefit:  I couldn't do anything but sit around watching TV and reading for many days, which gave me a tremendous amount of time to think.  About life.  About direction.  About purpose.  You know, the little things.

July 8 made it a year since I decided to stop ECT treatments.  It has been a year of relief, grief, sadness, madness and just about any mixture of feelings you can imagine.  I had given myself a year to work through the many emotions that came after the deep depression that lasted well over a year, the loss of memories and cognitive functioning that resulted from the unsuccessful treatments, and then the aftermath.  Part of that year was waiting to see what and how much would return.  Would the lost memories come back?  Would I regain the level of functioning I had before?  Some did return.  Much did not.  I now think of life "Before ECT" and "After ECT".  Kyle and I agree I am about 75% of who I was before.  Some days I am very grateful I am recovered to that degree.  Other days I am still angry and bitter about not being 100% who I was.  As much as I would love to just box up the past 18 months and put them on a shelf somewhere, it's not possible.  And while I have come a long way, there is still progress to be made.

However.  A point has arrived where I must either stay stuck or make a move.  I could stay stuck indefinitely, because even though it mostly stinks, there is a level of comfort in knowing where I am at and what to expect from each day.  But that's not stimulating to me, and it's not conducive to good health.  So I knew I had to take some action, in some direction.  So I've made the decision to go back to school.  Again.

I received my Masters in Education a few years ago, but I quickly saw that working in the school system was not a good fit for me.  I love teaching and interacting with students.  I dislike the paperwork, meetings, and the mounds of senseless time-wasting that goes along with the teaching profession and takes me away from students.  I also lost a lot of my knowledge gained from my Masters program.  Terminology and other important education are gone.  Maybe they will return.  I don't know.  But I feel I am at a disadvantage to work in education with the missing puzzle pieces, and I certainly don't want to deprive students of the teacher they deserve.

I've had an interest in psychology and mental health counseling long before I became a mental health consumer.  I ignored it for some reason, but it's been nudging me more and more lately.  I have found an online program I have a great deal of confidence in, and now I just need confidence in myself and my abilities.  School has always been a strength of mine, and now I am fearful that I won't be able to perform at my previous level.  But I have to try.  I have been accepted for admission and I am registered to start classes on September 2nd.  I will be working on a Masters in Mental Health Counseling.  I'm very excited and terrified at the same time.  I look forward to building a new foundation, a new career path, and an opportunity to prove to myself that I can do whatever I set my mind to.  I'm definitely putting "courage before comfort", and while it's daunting it's also really amazing how wonderful challenging myself can be.

It's all I can do not to race out and buy new notebooks, pens and post-it notes.  I am anxious because this program uses APA and I'm used to MLA.  I've logged into my new student email account half a million times since I got it last week.  I'm making notes everywhere to remind myself of what I need to do before Sept. 2nd.  It's all good, though.  I have focus, I have direction, and I have an end goal in sight.  And that feels really amazing.