Saturday, December 31, 2011

out with the old, in with the new

yes, this is your classic reflective New Years post

Resolutions will be in another post altogether, when I decide what they are. :)

I don't want this to be like my Christmas newsletter, just highlighting the cheery braggy stuff that probably makes everyone want to barf. Maybe a little of that, but with some sincere honesty thrown in.
2011 has been interesting to say the least. Some of the things I am most proud of and excited about are of course some personal growth matters.

Firstly, you probably know by now that I'm pregnant. Yay. And due soon. Feb 11th to be exact. But to be honest, about this time last year I was getting very and wholly frustrated at not being pregnant. We had been unofficially trying, gradually transitioning into "officially trying" over the course of a year and a half to 2 years. We assumed it would just happen (with the right course of action) because we are both healthy, we are intelligent adults, and come on, look at me, I am curvy... probably made for child-birth. What was the hold up?   For some people (especially that I now work with), this has never been an issue...having 5 babies by 5 different "significant others". really? they can have kids and I can't? It was infuriating. And I was FINALLY getting to a point where I could verbally tell people that I wanted to be pregnant and was mad that I wasn't. This is a huge deal for me, since I tend to be reserved about my "wants" cause its just easier to keep my defeats to myself.

Body image has been an issue for most of my life. Its been my biggest fear when it came to possible having kids. In my head,  I'd get "fat", would never be able to lose the weight, my husband would not love me as much anymore and my life would fall apart. Pretty healthy thinking, eh. However I am really surprised at how comfortable I have become with myself, how and who I am, including looks and am really embracing my growing body, slowly, but surely.  Its not about me, but about something much greater than myself. Its normal, its natural and its really a miracle. And Bill's support has been really helpful in this regard.

So then it happens. And the timing for me is interesting. I find out the Wed. before Father's Day, which for me personally, is my least favorite day of the year. Firstly, I never had the ideal "dad" situation and secondly its the day my mom died 2 years ago. So when I found out, I decided I would do my best to not make that day suck anymore (rather than wallow in my own self-pity). So Sunday morning I made Bill an awesome breakfast of pancakes and eggs and gave him a Father's Day card...thus breaking the news to him. He was excited and surprised. I can't begin to tell you how awesome of a dad he is going to be.

And there has been changes unrelated to babies...

I also grew in some of my ability to let go of grudges. And let me tell you, this is miraculous in itself as I am a master grudge-holder. During a visit early in the year to some rather estranged family members, I decided I despised this one person much less. It felt pretty freeing and have found myself able to transfer this to some other relationships. Its not so much about letting people who hurt me off the hook, but just getting the weight of that off of my shoulders. Realizing people have their own hurt, crap and baggage that they put on others. Its their issue, not mine, and are hurt and broken too, not just mean. No more letting people rent space for free in my head.

And one last one that comes to mind. I cannot tell you how happy I am to have left my social services management job. While it was a great learning experience for me, it was just not my cup of tea. Being micromanaged, being forced to micromanage others, sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, learning and relearning daily changes to state protocols, field everyones complaints and never knowing when my bosses were going to freak out about stupid little crap and just not doing what I went to school for. i think it was slowly killing me. I was miserable. Then i was able to use the "pregnancy" excuse to leave. Well, lets be honest, I knew what I was doing...when I told my boss I was pregnant, I stated that I wanted to work part time when the baby came. They pretty much said that was not an option. So...I took that cue. And coincidentally at the same time, some part time direct counseling opportunities came together and I am sooooo happy I have taken those (also both knew about the pregnancy and also knew about my counseling skills and were happy to have me). I love my work and the variety and the almost stress-free environments with flexibility. It so suits my persona and can continue to work a little bit part time after baby. Serving 2 important and fulfilling roles to me.

And for me, these are some pretty awesome personal feats/accomplishments that I'm pretty proud of.

I'm hoping you have some as well and can look upon each year with pride in your own personal growth.

Bring on 2012.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Countdown thoughts

I realized today that we have just a little over 2 months to go until we welcome Baby Burris into the world. I do find it frighteningly and beautifully amazing.

My mind is clogged right now with thoughts I want to communicate about this.

Its always something I thought about as a "someday" happening. Someday, we'll have kids. Someday I'll be a parent. Someday is now imminent and it is so weird. So many aspects of it are somewhat unbelievable. I mean, I feel like I just graduated high school a few years ago, but no, I'm in my 30's. Additionally, there has been an amount of time that has passed where I assumed we would just "get pregnant", that it would be easy for us. It took some time, and its now kind of unreal that it is actually real.

I'm going to be honest and tell you that I personally have not yet purchased one baby-related item. (rocking chair the exception). Why? I'm not sure I can tell you precisely. I do have a registry in progress. I know other preggos right now who started purchasing things the minute that they found out. I do find the whole baby-stuff realm overwhelming. I really don't know what I need, and what kind of what I actually need. And I definitely want to weed out those hype items that are unnecessary. I am spending time researching and asking opinions. Also, there are no babies in my family (Bill's family excluded). I just don't really even know where to start with one.

I also recognize that I'm a little abnormal about the whole pregnancy thing. Some people just love talking about it and showing it off. The attention that comes with a baby bump is kind of off-putting for me. People act like you're fragile or sick. Or want to touch you. Or ask you 20 thousand questions and have some very extreme thoughts about things, and I find myself hesitant to talk about pregnancy cause everyone wants to complain about symptoms. While I have symptoms, I overall feel good, and am just happy to be pregnant and wonder how much anyone really wants to know about bladder control or weight gain. Additionally, weight gain is a struggle for me mentally and am really working have healthy thoughts and habits, rather than old self-destructive ones. And when it comes to talking to others, I want to be able to have conversations about lots of things besides just pregnancy and childbirth. (of course, I realize this is slightly hypocritical as almost all of these posts have been about this life transition). I just want to be normal.

On the other hand, it has been interesting and fun to see how much joy and emotion it has brought out in some of my elderly clients as they relive their own pregnancies and children.

 Its not that I'm not excited (which to some it may seem this is the case). On the contrary I am very excited. I actually think that I will be a good parent and that this kid is going to be a game-changer in the world. Bill is going to kill it (not literally) as a father. I mean, he's going to be good, real good. I do believe that its not going to be easy, but I never expect anything to be easy. People have been raising kids for thousands of years. I tend to be cautiously optimistic. I try not to get my hopes up too high, because, truth is, tragedy happens.  Its like I always have to mentally prepare myself, and then be pleasantly surprised and then immensely grateful.

And just for this opportunity, I am immensely grateful. To be entrusted with a human being. its bigger than having the right "stuff" on your registry, bigger than experience, bigger than money or status or anything. its a hell of a responsibility. But I'm in. Sooner than I realize.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sneezing and airport security

I realize that I'm pretty fortunate.

During the course of my pregnancy I have had few symptoms. No morning sickness. Few food aversions/cravings (except the occasional egg distaste). Mainly I've been slightly more fatigued and more recently sneezing has become an experiment in muscle control. Yes, those muscles. And when I sneeze, its no holds barred, its all coming out and hard.

So we just got back from a little vacation in Florida to see Bill's brother get married and hang out with my grandma. We had a great time while vacationing. It was the Tampa airport trying to get home that cause a few problems.

Now, whatever you feel or feel you know about those airport scanners, I am of the belief that they are not a bad idea, unless you're pregnant. There is not enough research out there to say if they are safe or not safe, so guess what, I'm not taking any chances. Also, my doctor said to avoid them. Therefore, I consider him the expert. So before I even get to the scanners, at the end of a very long security line, I am expecting my pat-down.
Go to full-size image

Bill and I finally near the end of our 30 minute security line, right in front of the guy who's going to check our ticket, when I let out another one of my famous ginormous sneezes. And right there, in the middle of the airport, while wearing a skirt and flats, my muscles fail, and here it comes, running down my leg. (*as a sidenote, I didn't know that the peeing while laughing/sneezing thing was just an overexaggeration thing on the part of pregnant people or what, I was initially skeptical, but now I know its true. oh so true...). I am hoping to goodness that no one has seen what is happening, afterall, how many people stare at the legs of preggos? And I do what I can to discreetly wipe it up with my skirt and sweatshirt that I am holding before I get to the pat-down station (where someone will be running their hands up and down my pee-soaked legs)

So it feels like we are good: although I am secretly embarrassed and I request my pat down. Bill watches our stuff and a TSA employee comes by and gives me the pat-down schpiel. She then congratulates me on my pregnancy while starting with my shoulders/arms. As she continues her protocol, she then feels the need to lecture me on why it is perfectly safe for me to go through any of their machines. that they have the same about of rays as my cell phone and am exposing myself to more radiation being on the planes then walking through a machine. And how do I argue with a woman who has her hands in my hoo-ha? She pretty much had the power in that situation. And as much as I wanted to ask her where she got her engineering or medical degree, or ask her what the long term research was on the effects of machines that have been in use for 2 years was,or tell her to just respect my decision,I just wanted out of there and to get home without getting myself into too much trouble.

Of course in retrospect, I wish I would have saved my sneeze for right then. Or not been in such a rush to clean myself up. Perhaps sneezing while pregnant might have had its advantages.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

TV Talk

Hello, my name is Jenna and I really don't care that much about television.

As someone who prides herself on being a bit of a "jack of all trades" I often feel like I can talk to almost anyone about anything. I like that. From football and sports to celebrities to psychology to medicine movies food weather cars business politics religion. Apparently, anything except television.

This became a problem last night, and have noticed it on other social occasions. We had an open house at the group practice and then the bosses took us out to dinner. Most of the clinicians work pretty independently and do not know each other well. So a safe and broad topic of conversation came up for most people....television. Of course, the one thing I have very little to add to. So for someone who is already slightly socially awkward, it just made things worse. I was the odd man out.

Now, I'm not saying that I do not watch any television. I have about 3 shows a week that I like to watch enough to record if I can't watch it. The Biggest Loser, The Office and Dancing with the Stars. I have recently started enjoying Parenthood as well. But ok, that maybe 4. (this is excluding football/baseball and the syndicated reruns that are on during dinner time at 6pm). Everyone else had about 20-30 different shows that they are following!!

Did I mention that we don't have cable?

I did finally mention that I just don't watch that much tv. Someone (a defensive therapist) asked if I was just too busy with my social life. I said no. I mean, I just have a lot of interests and probably waste my time with other useless exploits. I waste lots of time playing with my kitten, on the internet (thank you facebook), doing baby research, reading, working out, watching movies (which I would have had much more to say in that conversation), talking to my husband, playing music, teaching guitar, doing art projects, catching up on my "work from home" work, calling family members, napping, complaining about being bored, volunteering w/ youth group stuff, ... Oh and did I mention I work 3 part time jobs?

I would very much like to have a more active social life, but think I might be too much of a homebody.

And I think my jobs and family provide me more than enough drama, why do I need someone elses fake tv drama?

Maybe so that I can have a more active social life.

Friday, October 28, 2011

who's better

So I've been set off by a facebook post that began a slight debate that I have not really partaken with in some time. What is this great debate?

Who's better...the social worker or the counselor. or. LCSW vs. LCPC

We are not even going to throw psychologists or psychiatrists into this argument.

The debate usually comes up when someone is considering grad school.

Of course, as an LCPC (Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor) I understand that I do have a bias towards my own certification over the LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker).

Now I can definitely step back and take an objective perspective to this. Both have their advantages. They really do. I have worked with both in different settings. Social services management, direct services, case management, and government, for profit and non-for profit work.

In my opinion, the main difference, simplified is breadth vs. depth. Someone may come along and argue that, but I don't really care. I think it just depends on which is more important to you. See, I actually tend to be more of a "breadth" person, I love having lots of kinds of knowledge in different areas, which allows me to speak to lots of different people about different things. However, in this debate, I am more of a depth person.

Social workers are trained in a variety of different things. Theory, psychopharmacology, legislation and lobbying, clinical skills, research, law, welfare, policy, etc. Look up any curriculum.

Counselors however are trained in almost strictly theoretical and clinical skills. You have to continually prove that you know theories, the DSM, clinical diagnosis and counseling skills and then prove that you can use them (not just know them) effectively to move on to each stage of your education. Including practicums in counseling couples, families, adolescents, groups, individuals, etc. and giving assessments. Look up this curriculum now and see the difference.

So what makes one better than the other? It depends on what you want to do with your degree. Now, social workers have to their advantage the fact that they advocate for themselves better in governmental institutions than counselors do, because they have that knowledge base. You often see more social workers in social programs, homeless, seniors, hospitals, military, DCFS, etc. However this is not exclusively the case. So there are often more opportunities in say the military or government jobs for social workers. Their ability to advocate has also allowed for more consistency across state lines in licensure laws. Counseling licensure still varies state to state.

Counselors on the other hand, from my experience, are very good therapists. That is what the training is in. They do well in non-for profits or private practices or whatever where they can counsel clients directly, and have less involvement in programming, grant writing, larger macro issues. (again, not exclusively).

So this is my simplistic analysis. Both are very vital positions. In my opinion. I enjoy doing hands on therapy with clients and getting down to the nitty gritty, like solving a puzzle, which is maybe why I am biased towards Counseling. I just came out of a social services management position, and trained case managers and ran a state funded senior service program, which maybe was better suited for the training of a social worker. And I will try my best to avoid going back into.

And there you have it.
The debate will probably continue.
I'm sure there are other fields that have similar "wars" going on.
 Curious what they are.

And these are my 2 cents worth. Maybe 3. :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

why blog

I'm not quite sure why I have decided to retry a blog. Facebook is not quite thorough enough, and there are thoughts I often want to expand upon. although I do enjoy seeing what others are up to. And somehow facebook has replaced Livejournal in my friend circle. And while I do have an old fashioned type of journal, its more about my psychological and spiritual growth and is often too philosophical for even me to reread.

So here we are.

As I type my kitten is staring at me, willing me to play, which means in her terms, bite and claw at my hands. But she's so adorable, its difficult to resist.

I love, absolutely love having this kitten.
She came to us at an interesting time, which can only be called perfect.

There is a timeline here. Over the summer, we were blessed to discover that we are pregnant and due in February. Something we've wanted fora while now. Additionally I was working a social services management job that I was not enjoying AT ALL. So when the time was right, and had 2 part time direct service counseling jobs offered to me, which were flexible enough to work with my desire to work part time when I am a mom, I quit the management job. Oh how freeing that has been!!

Approximately 4 days after I was done with that position and started the part time ones, we went to the in-laws for Labor Day weekend. In their barn one morning my father in law and I found this orphaned 2 week old kitten near some dead ones. Clearly unable to fend for herself, we brought her into the house. Bill and I decided to take her home after we saw no signs of mama cat coming back. A 2 week old kitten is pretty time consuming; we had to feed her every few hours, with a bottle, groom her, teach her to deficate, spend social time with her, etc. I never would have been able to swing that with the old job.

Whats been interesting to me is the prep-work I feel its given me for aspects of motherhood. Even if it was a short spell of checking on her and feeding her throughout the night, I still did it. The guilt of leaving her at home while I work. Getting excited at her small feats/accomplishments. I mean, I got excited when she pooped for the first time! Being responsible about my time, making sure she isn't alone too long. Taking her to the kitty doctor for her shots. And even now, over 2 months old, as she's going into kitty toddler-hood, and she wants to play rough, I just want to snuggle with her. Can it really be like when your kid starts to pull away? Or am I just overthinking all of this.

One way or another I like it. I like the responsibility for something other than myself. It makes me excited to be a parent of a human. Its taken away a little of the fear, makes me feel like I have a bit more purpose and am moving towards the life I have been meant to live. Its funny the little things that prepare us in important little ways.