DEBT UPDATE

One of my most important goals is to be debt-free.  I love reading stories about how people became debt-free.  One day (soon, hopefully) I will be telling that story.

In four months, we have paid off $13,392 in debt (and counting), and went from having seven debts to three.  Two of those being our student loans.  The biggest chunk of paying off that debt was from…

SELLING THE CAR (thank you, Dave Ramsey).

The rest was from dedication, budgeting, and my obsession with personal finance blogs (love Tess Wicks and Jessica Moorhouse), podcasts, and apps like Mint and Every Dollar.  I love love love this book (I still get a kick out of being able to make clickable links), and we are working on the “baby steps” with some modifications here and there.

We are not making much money (my husband was a substitute teacher and I was working part-time while in school, and now we are both very under-employed for about another month).  And we were STILL able to do this.  We have a looooong way to go, thanks to those student loans, and we’re getting there bit by bit.  If only I could sell my student loans like I sold my car 😉

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WHAT MY SOUL NEEDS

So, I’ve hit a roadblock with getting my counseling licensure all squared away – I have sent in everything that I need to send to the Ohio Board, but have been in “license limbo” because my temporary “trainee” license has expired and my full license application has not been processed yet (due to the sheer volume of applicants this time of year, graduation season).  After four emails to the board (about one per week for the last four weeks), I finally got an email back today: “The Board has received your application. I will let you know if anything is missing from your file and your application will be approved once everything is in.”  That’s a paraphrase, but it’s pretty darn close to the actual email.  That is not what I wanted to hear, having sent all of the application components in weeks ago, so I am making the two hour trek to Columbus tomorrow, all licensure application components in tow, to harass…. I mean gently persuade… the Board into giving me some answers (and hopefully a license).

That being said, I’ve had plenty of time lately to reflect on what my soul feeds on, what I crave, because I have been lucky enough to be able to experience these things plentifully during the last few weeks while I’ve been in license limbo.  It has been quite a positive time to get in touch with my true nature and explore what makes my soul thrive.  What gives me the warm fuzzies, if you will.  I am a fan of bullet-pointed lists, so:

  • Dinners and quality time with old co-workers (friends).  This one is fresh on my mind because I got to experience it tonight.  My soul was full and I’m still on a high after this simple event.
  • Connecting and reconnecting with old friends.  The ones who have made such an impact on you, whom you haven’t talked with in maybe years, and you hear from out of the blue.  I have a lot of friends with whom I’ve lost touch, because life, and I’ve been reminded of the importance of these friends recently and my soul has been longing to rekindle it’s roots.
  • Long walks with my dog.
  • Cool weather.  I’ve really been craving autumn.
  • Being outside, in the country.
  • Reminiscing.  I could spend hours doing this.  It comes to me when listening to the radio, driving with my windows down.  It comes to me after a trip with friends, driving home alone after dropping off the last person.  It comes to me unexpectedly, wholly emotionally, and beautifully.
  • Fellowship.
  • Group chats, Snapchats, and girls’ nights with former classmates (friends).
  • Binging on How I Met Your Mother episodes with my husband.
  • Talking to my best friend about the [very] weird dream I had about him (it involved me auditioning to be a Disney voice actor), and about life.  And snowballs.
  • Networking with others who are passionate about the same things I am.  As an extreme introvert, this surprised me to learn about myself, but I am finding it to be more and more true that I. Love. Networking.

That’s all I’m feeling compelled to write at the moment.  I haven’t kept up entirely with my “goal” of one post a week, but I’m getting better.  Until next time.

WHERE I’VE BEEN

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  Exactly a month.  I have been so busy since graduation (May 14th, woo hoo!), and I mean busy in the best possible ways.  One reason I started this blog was to hold myself accountable for working toward my dreams, and looking back at my previous posts where I’ve laid those dreams out, I have definitely been able to start working toward doing the things I want to do and creating a more fulfilling life for myself.  It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you’re not in school, working, and at internship constantly. So, here is a non-comprehensive list of all the things I’ve been doing since graduation (and why I have not been blogging – because, life.):

  • Landing my dream job.  Seriously, it is EXACTLY what I wanted.  I am still in shock/disbelief about that sometimes.
  • Reading books for fun (Dark Places and Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – love her books, and I’m in the middle of Still Alice by Lisa Genova – it’s a little dull after my previous two books but not bad. Next up is Requiem for a Dream.).
  • Started training for a volunteer opportunity I’ve wanted to pursue for a long time.
  • Catching up on Netflix (How I Met Your Mother and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – yassssss).
  • Started practicing yoga.
  • Spending time with my husband (we’ve been married eight months and I haven’t already done this?).
  • Traveling and spending time with old friends.
  • Sleeping.
  • Babysitting because I love kids and I love extra money.
  • Budgeting and paying off debt (including selling my car).
  • Hanging out with my dog.
  • Spending time with God each day.
  • Cooking and grocery shopping so we actually have real food in the apartment.
  • Looking for a new car and a new place to live.
  • Advocating for social justice, education, and change.

So that’s why I’ve been MIA for the past month. After 19 years of school, I needed to catch up on life. My new goal is to write one post a week now that I’m back at it. See you next week.

“MY NAME’S EMILIE, AND I CARE WHAT YOU THINK”

Confronting my fears is a big part of what I’m doing by authoring this blog.  I’ve always struggled to make myself vulnerable, even in the simplest ways.  I think this is connected, at least in part, to my self-confidence, which I have been working on as a part of my ongoing personal development journey.

I’ve always been a shy person, to the extent that my parents/teachers thought I might have some sort of problem back in preschool.  At home I talked (and screamed/yelled) nonstop, but at school and in social situations I spoke to only a select one or two people, and if I had something to say to teachers or anyone else, those few other people would say it for me.  This improved the older I got, and I was fairly “normal” by fourth grade.  Today we might call it selective mutism, and mild social anxiety.  I think that part still follows me to this day.  Despite that history, I always had friends and never felt out of place at school.  As a matter of fact, I tend to thrive in environments where I am learning new things and where I am in leadership positions (school, hobby-related classes, leadership roles, etc.).

I put myself out there because I have a desire to be heard and make a difference, even though it is a struggle for me.  I have a strong fear of disappointing myself, which turns into a cycle because I worry about disappointing others (even in totally irrational situations where no one is going to be disappointed when I speak up), and when I disappoint others, I disappoint myself.  I fear rejection, and I am my own harshest critic.  I am fully aware that this is irrational.

I wish I had more of that “I don’t care what anyone thinks” attitude, but it’s just not me, and I am learning to embrace my overly-perfectionistic (is that even a word?) self.  By this I mean that I am trying to channel my fear into excitement (I heard somewhere that the hormones are the exact same, it is just our interpretation that differs – not sure how much I believe it as it is SO hard for me to change that fear to excitement, but I’m trying.).  By trying to minimize my chances of experiencing what I interpret as rejection, I miss out on positive experiences and learning opportunities.  That is the worst thing I can do for myself.  So I acknowledge my fears, I accept them, and I try to rise above them for my own sake.

Recently I have noticed a big difference in my confidence, both at work inside the therapy office, and outside in the real world.  I have begun to believe that not everything I say or do is scrutinized – I am not the most important thing in other people’s lives (do I have the egocentrism of a teenager?).  I believe in myself, and I have started networking and marketing myself as though that is true, so that I can release this potential.  Every day I find opportunities to speak up and speak out.  It’s not easy, that’s for sure, but the more I do it, the more I see my confidence rising, and the more it’s worth it.

I’ve had this post typed up for weeks without posting it because, well, fear.  But it’s time now, for me to really be honest about myself.  It’s time to stop trying to make my life look “perfect” to everyone else.  Life isn’t perfect; we take what we have and we make the best out of it that we can.  I’ve always seen beauty in imperfection, and it’s time to let my imperfection out.

A FEW WORDS ON BURN-OUT

I am scheduled to take the NCE (National Counselor Exam) next week.  I graduate in 18 days. I have one set of vignettes and one group project due, and a lot of paperwork to send to the board.  I’m so close to being a real, licensed counselor, and the struggle. Is. REAL.

Burn-out is in full force right now.  This isn’t something that I wanted to admit, by any means, but the more we talk about it, the less taboo it is, and denying it doesn’t do anyone any favors (though if someone is “in denial,” you should meet them where they are. Resistance is just two people being in two different places…Motivational Interviewing, anyone? Okay, I need to stop.).

I’m burnt out on working with kids and families.  I’m burnt out on paperwork. Referrals.  Working with the school system.  Being finished with internship hours but still doing the work because I’m needed.  Doing two stressful jobs at once (and only getting paid for one of them. Part time at that.).  Working from 8 AM to 8 PM and in return, neglecting my home and missing out on precious time with my awesome husband.

That being said, I LOVE working with kids and families.  I have greatly enjoyed working in the school I’m with right now.  Paperwork and referrals I could do without… But they aren’t all that bad.  I also absolutely love being a student.  I’ve just been doing it all, for a long time, and I’m ready for a break.

I always try to focus on the positive, and there is so much positive shining through all of this.  It’s almost the end of the school year, so I will have a break from working in the schools for a while.  I won’t have any more homework.  I just scheduled three weeks of vacation time.  I have many trips and activities planned in the coming months.  I am able to daydream and fantasize about post-grad life, and it looks bright.

I am able to write.  My husband and I have been splurging on ourselves just a little lately (I am notorious for wanting to save money, but we’ve had a few nice, well-earned meals out).  I have supportive family (both the one I was born in and the one I got lucky enough to marry into).  And finally, I wouldn’t have been able to make it through these last two years, especially this last semester, without my amazing co-workers and the friends in my counseling program whom I have grown so close with.  The Lord always provides for me, and I have seen this time and time again when I have received exactly what I need, whether that be money, a little free time, or beautiful friends to fill me with laughter, lift me up, and get me through.

I’m almost there.

Journey, Counseling, Burn-Out, mental health, clinical mental health burn out, counseling burn out

WHAT I WANT (AND WHY I AM NOT ASHAMED TO BE A MILLENNIAL)

When it comes to what I want in life, I think it would be almost impossible for me to have more of a stereotypical millennial mindset.  I know millennials get flack for their supposed “laziness” and “entitlement.”  And I can see why other generations might think that.  I am here to refute that argument.  Admittedly, I’m not going to do the best job of it when I next explain what I want, but stay with me here:

I want flexibility.  This might be my NUMBER ONE want.  When I have kids, I don’t want to compromise my ability to make money OR my ability to stay home and take care of them.  I want both.  And I am not sorry for it.  I want to have control of my schedule.  I am not a morning person and I don’t want to have to be.  I do my best, most creative work in the afternoon and evening (and sometimes late at night), and I want to be able to do that work to the best of my abilities.

Along with flexibility, I want balance.  I value my time and I want to spend it following my passions (work or otherwise).  I want to travel, I want to learn new things, I want to spend time with my family, I want to grow as a human being.

I want fair compensation.  In the helping professions, it is difficult to advocate this point.  We devote our lives to helping others navigate through the most difficult things they have ever experienced.  We rehabilitate criminals, break the cycle of abuse and neglect, prevent violence, comfort the grief-stricken, fight for social justice.  Those jobs where we work with people in low socio-economic classes are where we feel that we can make the biggest difference.  We are willing to sacrifice in order to make this world a better place, at least for those whose lives we touch.  Because of this mindset of sacrifice and desire to change the world, we are willing to accept minuscule compensation for our valuable work.  Not me.  I will make a fair wage and I want to volunteer in my spare time.  I don’t want to basically “volunteer” at a job where I get paid next to nothing working unpaid overtime.  I am convinced that that is the formula for burn-out.

I want to pursue my passions.  I want to do this by researching, collaborating, and doing the work I was called to do.  I need the freedom to be able to do this.

I want to learn and develop myself as a professional.  I want to be the best at what I do and need the opportunity to grow.  I want opportunities to be a mentee, and to be a mentor to others.  I want to learn and I want to teach.

The common thread that weaves my list of wants together is that I want to make a difference.  I want to make a difference in my own life and in the lives of others.  I want to make a difference in the counseling profession and in the greater world.

Now this is what those generations who believe that millennials are “lazy” and “entitled” don’t see.  They don’t see that we are willing to do whatever it takes to make our wants, our hopes, into realities.  They don’t see that we are willing to chase our passions while hustling on the side and doing non-traditional work to get the bills paid while we pursue our passions.  That does not sound lazy or entitled to me.  That sounds like a generation willing to bust our butts to change the world for ourselves, for others, and for future generations.  I think millennials want what all people want, really – the ability to follow our hearts and souls while making a difference and getting paid for that.  We are the generation that has the courage to make that a reality no matter what it takes.  We take risks to do it, sometimes huge leaps of faith, all to shape and change our worlds.

 

 

WHO AM I AND WHY AM I DOING THIS? (PART 2) – MY WHY

This is Part Two. To read part one, click  here. (By the way, I am so proud of the fact that I just made a clickable link!)

This is my “why” because I somewhere read and have been told that by writing your goals down, you are more likely to achieve them. So by that logic, how much more likely will I be to achieve my goals if I expose them on the internet for the world to see? (And I know that “the world” isn’t really reading this… maybe like 5 or 6 people – hi mom. But still). This is my virtual vision board. Maybe one day I will look back and say, “Wow, I have come a long way.” Or maybe I will say, “Oh honey, bless your heart.” I’m doing this because right now, it is exactly what I need, and I am feeding my soul.

So here goes. My goals. My hopes and dreams and all that cheesy stuff. These are the things I would like to maybe accomplish one day (counseling-related):

  • I’d like to go to trainings on art therapy, trauma-focused CBT, EMDR, play therapy, grief and loss, mindfulness and wellness, sexual orientation and gender related issues.
  • Open my own private practice (my areas of interest include trauma, grief and loss, adoption, spirituality, and the LGBTQ community).
  • Get my independent license (LPCC) and possibly a supervisor credential.
  • Be a mentor to new counselors.
  • Possibly get a Ph.D.
  • Teach at the college level – undergraduate (maybe) and graduate (definitely).
  • Get published.

Just for fun, here are some of my non-counseling-related personal goals:

  • No debt. Zero.
  • Own a home.
  • Be an awesome mother.
  • Stay married forever.
  • Be a millionaire.

Clearly I also hope to live a long time. I’ve always said I’m going to live to be 120 years old.

WHO AM I AND WHY AM I DOING THIS? (PART 1)

I started writing this post and realized that I had more to say than I originally planned and it quickly got out of hand, so it turned into a two part post. This is Part 1 and is more of the “who am I?” portion. Look for Part 2 soon.

I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. I am an introvert. A shy introvert. I am also a risk taker (sometimes), and to a shy introvert, sharing your intimate thoughts with the public is just about the riskiest thing you can do. I am just someone who is trying to figure it all out.

The last two years of my life have been a blur. A wonderful blur, but one that has come and gone in the blink of an eye. These two years have been consumed by two moves, two job changes, graduate school, an internship, wedding planning, and a new marriage. Wow – just typing that out and letting it sink in causes me to reflect on how incredibly blessed and supported I have been.

I’m someone who is passionate. I am passionate about everything. I want to learn about everything, I want to do everything (my parents could tell you that this certainly rang true when I was in undergrad and changed my major three times, almost moving across the state to start over in another program my senior year). I realize that I might be using the word “passionate” because it sounds a bit nicer than “obsessive.” Right now I’m past the phase of not knowing what I want to do with my life, since I have fallen totally in love with counseling. Now I’m trying to figure out what I want to do with that love. I’m constantly researching the possibilities and fantasizing about what my future could be. I’m in an endless battle with myself because I am my own voice of reason – I’m a realist and a dreamer at the same time. I’m a big-picture thinker who lets the little details “get in the way” (the realist in me is saying, “The details don’t get in the way, they make up the big picture!”).  I want to do everything necessary to make my dreams come true right now, and I also know that that probably isn’t financially feasible or realistic right now. Freud’s Id and Superego have never been more apparent. The resulting “Ego” expression is that I am planning for that future of my dreams while attempting to figure out all the details first. Constantly on the edge of taking a leap of faith and wanting to be absolutely sure that there is a safety net to catch me.

I recently asked one of my clients, “If you were just meeting me, how would you describe yourself?” Not one to ask my clients to do something I wouldn’t do or think about myself, I made myself think about how I would answer the question. Aside from counseling and school, I enjoy traveling, being outdoors, exploring my city, good food, animals (dog-mom to Lila, see below), reading for fun, personal finance, sleep. I like to dabble in cooking, art, crafting, natural health and nutrition, wellness, meditation. I would like to get into yoga, a regular workout routine, volunteering. I’m saving those for post-graduation. That is the cliff-notes version of who I am. This post was the “rambling” version.

Counseling Mental Health

 

Look for part 2 soon.

WHAT IS MICHELANGELO’S ANGEL?

Hello and welcome to my first blog post!

If you’re here right now, I’m guessing you are probably a friend, acquaintance  or family member, which is amazing, and I hope to one day reach a wider audience. If you’re here, you are also probably wondering what this is.

Michelangelo’s Angel is many things to me. I will write a separate post about myself in the near future to explain who I am and what I want in life, but it is my hope for Michelangelo’s Angel to be an encompassment of all of those things.

Michelangelo is attributed the quote: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” When I first heard this quote, as I was sitting in orientation at my job a year and a half ago, it really spoke to me. It hit me hard. I LOVED this quote. What it meant to me then, as I was beginning a journey of working with children and families in the mental health field, was that every child has an “angel” inside of him or her, and I could be a part of “setting him free.” I could chip away at the marble exterior (already beautiful in and of itself) and reveal the angel that has always been there but needed some help to be freed. That is the notion that had drawn me to this field, and this quote put it into words for me. Michelangelo’s angel became the embodiment of my personal philosophy in my work.

As time went on, I never forgot that quote, and loved it so much that it became this blog. It now it holds new meaning for me and is applicable to my life in so many ways. I have been able to see, through two years of school working toward my Master’s degree, that am the angel, chipping away, turning myself into the best version of me that I can muster at the time. So, Michelangelo’s Angel is a counselor’s journey, my journey. It is my personal journal, as I navigate through the next phase of my life. It is my form of self-care, the concept that counseling professors and supervisors try to pound into your head during grad school and beyond, even though sometimes you think there is absolutely no time for this “self-care” on top of homework, a job, internship, and you can forget about having a social life! But somehow I have made it, I am making it, and it has been one of the fondest times of my life. As I am nearing graduation (33 days, but who’s counting?), Michelangelo’s Angel is where I will compile my thoughts, failures, triumphs, hopes, dreams, and aspirations. It will be a place for family and friends to keep up with my ever-changing mind and spirit. I hope for it to be a place for counselors, old, new, and aspiring, to join me on my journey. To laugh with me (or at me), to learn with me, to feel like you’re not alone.

Until next time.