Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bend don't break, a letter.

Reflection, in any form is important. And this final week before I begin my journey with hospice has provided me with a great opportunity to think of where and what I have done or accomplished or grown from, since graduation in May. So... the letter to... myself.

Dear Whitney,
Well, here it is.  It's about time. The last couple months have been quite the journey, and let's be serious, the journey isn't over.  But you're taking a new step, and you should be proud of yourself.  A new job, in the same city, in the field you've studied, interviewed and researched. It's time to be on your feet.

It's scary though.  The past few months have been well... a reality check. You took a job quickly, without a whole lot of research because it seemed good and seemed cool and appeared to be the right fit. Turns out, it wasn't.  You got fired. Remember that. In fact, it's a good message for everyone. You are replaceable.  It sucks, but you are.  Deal with it. Make yourself so important and do what you need to do so that no one wants to replace you. But remember. It happens. Mourn it, sit with it, and learn from it. And then? Move the hell on.

You went back to bartending.  On a permanent, "pay your bills through the bar" sort of way. And while it worked for a while, it wasn't sustainable. Well, it wasn't sustainable to also maintain the friendships and relationships you were also cultivating. It's great, it's a solid set of skills, but you have more to give. Give it. Plus? You were living with like zero dollars, at any given point. Don't be a fool.

You have a great group of friends and family. Over the top, phenomenal, sarcastic, hysterically funny, sassy, loving, supportive, challenging, bottle-of-wine-drinking, hours-on-the-phone-when-you-need-it, friends. They love you. Don't forget that. They support you, your visions, your tears, your laughter and your craziness. They're great. Appreciate them more. And say thank you, and tell them you love them as often as possible.

You are ready. You have surrounded yourself with positivity, solid and supportive people, and you are ready. You have grown. It's going to be hard, it's going to be draining, and it's going to be sad.  But death, unlike anything else in life, is a guarantee. And people deserve to have someone who is there for them the whole time. Be present. For their moments, their memories and their journey. But remember to keep time and space for yourself. Boundaries are there for a reason. Keep working on them, they are a daily work in progress.

It hasn't always been a pretty journey. But hey, what in life ever really is? Life is messy. (Like your closet, so seriously, clean it out). Life isn't clean. It's complicated. Keep growing. Keep challenging yourself. Keep learning. Don't settle. Remember that you've worked hard. Keep working hard. Celebrate that. Celebrate each day. Love. To the fullest extent. Each and every day. Be thankful, be appreciative and don't be afraid to speak your mind. Don't give up the pieces that are you. Compromise. Bend, don't break.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Being thankful is a way of life. Not just a day in November.

People have been writing daily what they are thankful for and posting it on Facebook lately.  It's been making me think.

Why is it that there is one day in which we are allowed to be thankful?  One day in November in which people state what it is that they are thankful for and grateful for in their life.

It's kind of ridiculous right?

Gratitude, being thankful and appreciative of everything that you have is a way of life.  It's not just a day in November called Thanksgiving.

I heard someone ask a question the other day... What would happen if you woke up tomorrow and only had what it is that you thanked God for the day before?

Be thankful. Be grateful. Be appreciative.

But make it a way of life. Give thanks. Tell people what you feel.  Say thank you.  Do something nice for another person, not just the people you love.

Celebrate daily.

But again... make it a way of life. Don't let the only time that you give thanks be the 4th Thursday in November.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

25: The Year of Rebuilding

New Year's Resolutions are such a waste.  People make them, they never keep them. And they don't always remember what it is that they did the year before that actually got them to think that they need to change something.

Birthday recaps and resolutions are different.  There's a new (ugh) higher number.  There's memories and changes and updates. So, on this day of my birth, I give you: 25. The Year of Rebuilding.

25 was...
A year to rebuild.
I found myself again after not knowing or feeling lost for a long time.
I spent time with friends and family that were important to me. People who I had neglected for a long time.
I spent time in Texas with my bestest friend! In fact, she and her wonderful husband helped me ring in 25.
I went on vacation. (A couple of times).
I cooked great meals. And some not so great.
I worked.
I left a job.
I found a new one.
I survived my internship.
I went to school. And then I graduated. And then I moved.

And then I moved again.
I met and made new friends. And rediscovered some oldies but goodies.
I got mad.
I got in fights (not physical ones, silly!).
I healed a broken heart. And throughout? I cried. A lot.
I planned a fundraiser, and raised a ton of money for a foundation and cause I am passionate about.
I shaved my head.
I rediscovered my passions (or some of them).
I lost someone.
I look for signs.
I bought myself flowers.
I had someone else buy me flowers.
I built a bed.
I got tan lines.
I made a quilt.
I spent time with my brother, in the same town, in the same house (which we haven't done since I left for college).
I moved a grandparent into a nursing home.
I remembered that being happy is important. And that keeping something because it's comfortable isn't always the best move.

I've had change, hard conversations, tears, laughter, days and weeks and months of not knowing what is coming next. I've had moments when I didn't care what was coming next. I had moments that the only thing that got me through was dreaming of what was coming next. I've adjusted, re-adjusted, and adjusted again. I struggled. It was the time to rebuild and re-find what I had felt like was lost for so long. I found my sass (again). And my humor.

25 was the year I lived.  And 26? Well 26 will be another year in which I live too. But maybe I won't have to struggle so much to find what it is that I thought was lost. I'm sure it will have struggles. And fights and tears and change and moments. But whatever it brings, I think I'm ready for it.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Halfway to New Years!

So today is the first day of the 2nd half of 2012.  Kind of crazy, right?  This year is flying by, and I feel like having a little recap is going to be important.  After all, it's important to reflect (self-care 101).

It's amazing to me every time I look at the book that I am calling "my life" to see how the chapters are turning out, whether beginning, ending, or in the process of being written.  They are crazy, they are challenging, but they make me smile every day.

In the past 6 months of 2012, I have:

  • Lost AND made new friends who have brought so much to my life, it's impossible to count.
  • Planned and organized an amazing event, raising over $50,000 for a cause that I am passionate about.
  • Shaved off all my hair for said above stated event. #StBaldricks2012
  • Lost a cousin, completely unexpectedly, and was reminded that when stuff hits the fan, your family is always there, no matter what.  It's a corner that I am lucky to have filled with so many wonderful people.
  • Rocked the hats, and then realized that rocking the bald head was so much cooler. (Both in temperature and awesome points)
  • Written countless papers, and FINALLY graduated with my Masters degree in Social Work
  • Moved.
  • Applied for countless jobs and gone on interviews.
  • Gotten offered a job I never thought I would get, and have to re-pack all of my stuff to move.  Again. Right back to where I just was. (Oh, 518, you apparently have my heart)
  • Helped a friend move to NC
  • Helped friends through relationship ups and downs, and still be here to talk about.
  • Finally closed chapters in my life, and started new ones.  And these new ones? They're looking good <3 
It's amazing. I never thought I would be moving back to Albany.  To a life, and to a town that I thought I was pretty much done with.  And yet, when I got back to Rochester, I realized quickly that while my family has my heart, and always will, I am not quite done on the journey that Albany gives me.  

So, here's to the 2nd half of 2012 being just as great, trying, happy, challenging, tear, growth and hope filled as the first.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A coffee transition

So, it has been 4 days since I have been back full time in Rochester.

And this morning? I was reminded that this is an adjustment that will take some time.

Background information: I drink coffee. Like it's going out of business.  Especially when I'm applying for jobs.  It's what gets me through my day.  I have a cup of coffee close to me, or at least sort of close to me, all morning.  So, there is always coffee in my house (or my old apt, or whatever).

As I have a slight coffee problem, the first thing I bought at Wegmans, was coffee.  I grind my coffee at the store, because well... I've never had a coffee grinder at my house to buy the beans and not grind them at the store.

My dad? He has a coffee grinder.  I should know. I bought it for him.  So when he buys coffee at the store and brings it home? It looks like this:

These are coffee beans.  They are not ground yet.

When I buy coffee? It looks like this:

Already ground. Ready to be brewed.

And so, imagine my surprise, when this morning, I woke up, took some time coming downstairs (because hey, the only thing on my schedule was to hang at the pool and increase my tan lines), and the bag of coffee that I had bought and ground at the store on Sunday, looked more like this:

Yes. That's right. My dad had combined my ground coffee, with his coffee beans.  To save space or who knows. But now I need a sifter. 

Jokes on him though, I don't buy the same kind he does. 

Just a little taste of adjustment. 

But seriously.  Don't mess with my coffee. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

An all day brunch affair

This past weekend I had the wonderful pleasure of spending Sunday with two of my favorite Albany ladies.

We had brunch scheduled for 1 PM.

Yes. Those are waffles. Stuffed with bacon.  Jealousy? Totally normal.

By 5 PM, we decided dinner must be included.

((Don't get me wrong, I've had many a long day full of brunch.  MANY. But this one? Epic))

 And then? We would be the 3 girls going to see The Avengers at 8:30 PM. Please take note that this made brunch an all day, all night, multi-part affair. (side note: the movie? WAS AWESOME. Even if you haven't seen all the others to lead up to who the superheroes are.  Random thought: Why did Scar-Jo's semi automatic handgun never. ever. ever. ever. run out of ammo?!)

These ladies, we'll call them LJ and CW (because hey, we're pulling the initials back for this one. Get off me.) made me not only laugh my way through almost 12 hours, but reminded me of all the wonderful people that I have met and become friends with along the way on this crazy 518 journey.

They have reminded me that not only am I going to rock this transition back to the 585, but that if people aren't ok with who I have become, it's a "you problem." (Ok, maybe that was JD, but still).

I believe this sums it up best.  "I guess some people don't like me... I just don't really get it."

So, to my favorite Sunday brunchers, whether it was brunch part 1, 2, 2a, or 3.  You ladies are wonders.  For my heart, my soul, and my laughter. And don't worry. I like all of us.

Actually? It's more of a love.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Week of Waterproof Mascara

SO, it's Friday. And I move in 8 days.

And I have procrastinated in saying goodbyes to people quite effectively over the past couple of days.  However, tomorrow that all changes.

Welcome to the week of Waterproof Mascara!

Thank heavens I have plenty... because I'm obviously procrastinating in packing too.

Yea. Moving and goodbyes.  I've always been good at them.


Here.  Goes.  Nothing.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Because it's Friday. And because job searching can be frustrating.

Because it's Friday, and because it's just craziness to always be searching for jobs, I give to you... a fabulous picture for how I feel about job searching.

Class of 2012.  You're welcome.  

I got some good advice this week.  Advice that if I hadn't asked for it from someone who wasn't my supervisor, I would be totally freaking out.  

Go into an interview knowing and being ok with not knowing everything.  Ask good questions.  Be interested and present.  School won't teach you everything, but it has given you a good base.  Be willing to learn, and willing to engage.  Tone yourself down (maybe that's just for me, ha!), but bring your personality.  

Trust your gut, and you'll be fine.  

Here's hoping!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Love forever, family always, strength together.

The unexpected phone calls.

You know, the ones that change life that you knew?

The changes that grip your heart and soul.  The grief, the tears, the longing, the aches.

A little more than one month ago, my cousin, Jaime, passed away unexpectedly.  She was 33.  She had a family, and a little boy, a loving fiance, and a system and collection of friends, and friends that were family, as far as anyone could ever wish to have.

In a world that doesn't seem fair, she was taken too soon.  There are no words that anyone has been able to come up with that seem to comfort those that are left behind.  There is nothing that can make this make sense.  It is shocking.  Jarring.  And unfair.

I had to write a paper this semester about a memorial service for a grief and loss class that I am taking.  I wrote about you, Jaime.  And it was hard.  But I shared it with the class, and now, I am going to share it here.  Or at least, the parts that make sense to share.  Because while it doesn't seem "fair" or "right" that we are all still here, left to go on without you, it is the task we are faced with and given.

"....Due to the unexpected nature of Jaime’s death, it doesn’t feel as though my personal grief has truly begun.  While it was great to have our entire family, including many family members from out of town able to be present for the services, the common theme and the common sentiment was that everyone was still primarily in shock.  It didn’t feel real.  It didn’t seem as though it was truly Jaime laying in the casket that was before me.

       ...As a person who is also actively participating in the grief and loss process currently, it seems as though these services provided a way for me to begin the grieving process.  However, now that it is almost 2 weeks later, the 3 days of calling hours and funeral services, seem to be a blur.  I remember them, but it feels as though it was a dissociative moment, as though I was going through the motions, but that it wasn’t truly happening.  The act of going through the motions truly presented a grasp on the concepts of traumatic grief, as there were no opportunities to say goodbye, no closure on a relationship other than that the person whom you shared a relationship with, is no longer present.
Traumatic grief services provide a chance to come together.  But I feel like it is, at least for myself, such a beginning point in the grieving process that it is more customary than healing.  No one wants to be there, because it is unexpected.  The real work and the real grief comes later.  The breakdown.  The longing.  The deep feelings of loss.  The emptiness.  The sadness.  The day to day living with grief.  The day to day actions of moving forward, with an emptiness inside. The lack of closure.  And I am not sure there is a ceremony or service, no matter the readings, the involvement, that can change that. "

We are all missing you, Jaime.  Every day.  But we will continue on for you, because we have to.  Because we are strong, and that is what you would want.  Love forever, family always, strength together. <3 Love.

The importance of being where you are. The moment.

Being a social work student has taught me plenty.  What interventions to use with specific clients. How to evaluate them. How to research. How to be unconditionally present.  How to meet clients where they are, instead of where I (as a clinician) may want them to be.

But this semester? In a class around the topic of grief and loss? I learned how to sit with my own feelings.  To be ok (or begin to be ok) with them.

Because it is not just being able to be ok sitting with clients and their feelings, it's important to be able to as an individual, be able to sit with our own.

It is so often that I think that because I have been trained in specific skills that I should have all the answers.  That I should be able to handle every situation thrown in my direction with perfection and the "right" ways.  It's a lie.

Learning to be ok with where I am as an individual, social worker or not, has been a great new way to be able to look at my life, and look at the decisions that I am very quickly going to be needing to make.

It's ok to be sad.  It's ok to grieve the end of something that I thought I was ready for.  It's ok to be happy, to continue living.  To continue growing.  To continue to make choices and decisions because without them, you are stagnant. Unchanging. Because without making a decision, you are, in fact, choosing.

And what fun is a world in which you are unable to change?

It is the lesson I am most thankful for.  Learning to be OK with where I am.  To accept it.  And to keep plugging along, whether the days are smooth like a lake in the morning, or challenging and scary... a day in which your footing just isn't always sure.

It's life.  And if I can't accept and be OK with where I am, how can I expect others to be just as OK with where I am?  Being where you are. In the present. In the moment.  Living.