Blessings on blessings on blessings.

Remember when I was throwing around the idea of a new camera? I was on the verge of asking for a new DSLR Canon Rebel (which is not completely out of the question) for my birthday, coming this SUNDAY, by the way. I even considered buying it for myself from “my boys”.

I fell in love with the portrait setting on my phone last year and recently found out the newest iPhone has this setting for the front camera as well.

Continue reading “Blessings on blessings on blessings.”

Blended Families: the Norm?

My last blog got me thinking of how powerful it is to write a story.

I know someone who happens to also have a blended family (actually a very happy one like mine). Wait, to be honest, I really don’t know very many people without blended families nowadays.

I was excited once because I remember being the only one that is actually still with my biological child’s father in my friends group. Then I realized that it was rather sad and I better not push my luck.

My friends husband had a former relationship that resulted in a child. So for anonymity we’ll call the ex baby mama “Ronnie”. My friends had quite a difficult few years handling problems with this person and I just realized I needed to tell this story. Men are constantly painted as the “deadbeat dad” but many times I’ve seen myself how men are not given the chance to be the dad they want to be.

In this example, the bio mother has completely controlled the child, and the relationship between the child and father. Ronni has the tendency to act super sweet to my friends face but I’m not convinced that she’s being authentic, especially after this last incident.

Ronnie sends her child out of state to her family every summer without the consent or approval of the child’s father. Apparently, she believes this is perfectly acceptable because the child lives with her full-time. This past summer she starts calling the child’s father obsessively to ask for money “for school clothes” right before she was planning to drive out of state to go pick up the child.

My friends husband told Ronnie that he has always taken the child to go get school clothes together, and this game she has been playing with him needs to stop. Ronnie then started texting my friend’s phone about this situation. Her husband picked up my friend’s phone and calmly texted her Ronnie telling her not to text that number (or involve anyone else).

This is when the baby mama insulted my friend’s hubs, including suggesting that he was calling her phone at “3 or 4 am”. This has happened more than one time in the last five years. Typically Ronnie acts as if my friend’s husband has feelings for her only when she’s not getting the attention she wants or when she is drunk. This was strangely specific and pretty unnecessarily aggressive, right?

My friend was rightfully upset because this isn’t even close to the first time Ronnie has acted like a 12 year old. But I told her she would regret anything she said if she let this late night drunken rant get to her.

My friend decided to go through her phone account record and do a little research even though she trusts her husband; she needed to see the proof.

She went through months of texts and phone calls and she even took screenshots of exactly what she found.

During the 8 weeks of her stepchild’s out of state trip, there were three phone calls between her husband and his ex or more accurately, a bar fly he had a one-night-stand-resulting-in-a-child.

Those calls came from Ronnie’s phone. None came from my friend’s hubs.

None.

Not a single call came from him!

She checked all the calls and text messages whom the woman also sent. Even if someone deleted any of this evidence on the phone, you cannot delete it from the network. It was obvious that Ronnie continues to throw out specific allegations but is the only person interested in communicating.

I told my friend that it seems obvious for me, knowing these incidents have happened many times – that the baby momma has an obsessive interest in my friend’s hubs and it’s sad for the child who’s a pawn for Robby, I mean Ronnie to use.

I’m curious, what are your thoughts about this? Do you have similar problems with baby mama drama?

Personally, I feel blessed to have no need for contact with someone whom lost rights to her children many years ago.

This story reminds me of another that I need to write – it’s much more personal than silly mama drama! However I recognize how therapeutic it is to write all those thoughts about toxic people instead of attacking or having to even deal with them at all!

Thank you all for taking the time to read and if you feel offended, you may have some unresolved guilt.

Xoxo,

Self-Diagnosis of a Therapist

One day I decided I had Bipolar Disorder.

It didn’t happen overnight. It took me quite a bit of thinking and research to get to this conclusion.

I spent so much time considering this, that I literally convinced myself there was no way I couldn’t be suffering from this very serious disorder I’ve unfortunately had to diagnose others in my career.

I’d decided that I needed to be tested in an official capacity and probably most-likely medicated because I truly believed in this self-diagnosis.

Keep in mind, I’d read my DSM (“Diagnostic & Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders IV TR” back then) from front to back during school and multiple times after I’d obtained my Master’s degree. I knew more than I was giving myself credit for at the time.

Here’s my secret about my diagnosis…

I was lying to myself. I was lying to my family and to my friends. I’d been able to half-convince myself, but the truth lurking underneath the surface was eating me alive.

My true diagnosis was a very ugly sounding one. It’s bizarre because Bipolar doesn’t sound too pretty! However, in my very sick brain, it somehow sounded better! (The brain is utterly powerful.) Plus, if I’m being completely honest, a therapist has a very serious responsibility. It’s an extremely humbling experience and difficult task to admit that my disorder was Alcohol Dependency then follow through with treatment, rather than accept a diagnosis that would fit all the symptoms of a less ‘behavioral’ problem.

So I kept lying to myself.

This – my friends, is called denial.

The craziest part is that I’ve found this dilemma in my professional career for those that I serve as well. It’s not a shock to those in this profession that one disorder can be disguised as another.

Addiction is a very manipulative disease.

Addicts are often manipulated by addiction and manipulate others in the process.

I know looking back, that I am a true addict and always will be considered an addict. The reason I know this now is that I finally reached my rock bottom, reached out for help, and then actually accepted the treatment. Most importantly, I followed through with treatment and saw the changes in myself and my life. Eventually I had changed so much that I was able to forgive myself for all the lying but it took a very long road to get there.

Knowing my track record of going back to my this casual idea of drinking wine when I’d get home from work, and justifying this as a normal behavior that millions of others also do, really created a self-defeating pattern that made it difficult to stand proud of myself, my internal confidence & dignity and even practice as an ethical licensed therapist.

One problem that helped contribute to my constant cycle of addiction was not only is alcohol legal, it’s easily one of the most socially acceptable substances in the world. That’s not even scratching the surface on the culture of it.

My story started just like most alcoholics. Although it’s important to warn everyone reading that just because I’m speaking about MY personal experience, this does not mean I expect or assume that all addiction is like mine.

I drank in college and was a social drinker for many years. Then I started drinking wine at home in the evenings like many others. I gradually began to drink excessively and then self-medicated with alcohol when bad things happened in my life.

Thankfully, I never had any legal problems or consequences of my drinking. It was absolutely hurting me and my family (this was prior to motherhood). It became an obvious issue that I was finding more difficult to control. I struggled to deal with it internally because of my own professional identity.

I tried outpatient therapy of course. As a therapist, I had no problem going to counseling at all. Was I completely transparent? I genuinely tried to be.

Was it beneficial to have therapy? Yes. But it wasn’t enough.

I needed exactly what I recommend for clients when necessary. It finally came to the point that I needed a strict, structured environment to get myself healthy, to learn my own ways to cope with my problems instead of stuffing my emotions and having a glass of wine (or 16).

I admitted to myself and my significant other that I wanted to go to treatment. I’ve discussed the experience in its entirety in my blogs: my story and finding purpose. So the rest is history!

But it’s important to acknowledge how much we lie to ourselves.

Even therapists can and do it! We’re no different than a regular person. At our core, we’re all flawed humans, searching for happiness and purpose.

I can now look back at this time in my life with a hopeful, honest and understanding attitude. I’m still hopeful that I’ll continue finding true happiness, yet I’ve never had more purpose than the past few years of sobriety and motherhood, in addition to my passion for my lifelong career as a therapist. If anything, I believe my experience has fueled my ability to reach others. Regardless of our struggles, the connections I build with my clients will always be at the heart of my work as a clinician.

Thank you for reading about my passion and my own recovery! I would love to hear your experience if you’d like to share! One day I hope to publish a book about my experiences as a licensed therapist in recovery!

Xoxo,

New look, same me.

I’ve been wanting to make this site more centered on my blogs and specific ideas. So after changing the look to a more minimalist style and many aspects of it – oh, about 45 million times… I finally settled on this theme/overall look! I wanted something a little prettier, more white, more feminine. I think I was able to express what I had visualized.

Other things:

Career: I’m changing my traveling area gradually closer to my family again (since our move about 8 months ago) and I’m going to focus on gaining more supervisees! Unfortunately this also means I’ve had to transition out of Juvenile Drug Court and Juvenile Offender Program (District Court) which I’d slowly managed to decrease my caseload to very few, so it was perfect timing.

This fall is bringing some pretty amazing changes to my family as well. Our older boy is doing some of his own personal growth that I’ve been ecstatic to see. Honestly, I can say that I’ve never been more proud of him until the recent weeks. He actually brought me to tears today while just speaking about his goals. He is maturing into a young man. We can see his internal changes and I know it would be safe for me to speak for my other half when I say, we are so hopeful about his future that the optimism has never been this strong.

I am celebrating five years with my sweetheart this month. Next month, (in October) I’m celebrating my birthday. The following month, November will be my sobriety anniversary as well!

Along with our exciting celebrations, my pride in our family and of course details that are best left out of this blog, I’m feeling very happy and content. I look around daily and although there’s stressors, moody days and irritability – I know how blessed I really am. We’ve got a special family. We’re succeeding in our goals to be the parents we’re proud to be, despite the normal challenges other families face, and in addition to more intentional boundaries we’ve found to be best for us.

I’m trying my best to stay more balanced with my work, family time, and actually – shocker – SELF-CARE! I’m finding myself reading (by the way I LOVE my book – Girl, Wash Your Face), enjoying my “me time” (insert gazing mindlessly at Instagram or Bravo on my television, during a symphony of boy/man snoring lulls me to sleep). Wait – am I the only person on the planet without Netflix? I guess this is strange to some, but I like the trends I follow, I’m weirdly satisfied with my podcasts and entertainment so I guess I don’t really plan on subscribing anytime soon. *shrug*

Ah. Good ol’ consumerism.

I’m crossing my fingers that my mystery shipment for the month of September will show up any day.

And by that, I totally mean checking religiously multiple times daily plus even direct messaging the company and asking about “checking” on the package… I’m like a child waiting on Santa! I’ve seriously never done anything like this, so I’m beyond obsessed. I don’t have a obsession with makeup enough to order the fabfitfun or maybe birchbox. I’m too picky and strangely miniature to trust personal stylists or stitchfix. I’ve been shopping at Gapkids for 25 years, for Christ’s sake. So this monobox from Shopilovejewelry is the epitome of excitement.

Oh, last thing – anyone buying the newest iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max? I just found out about these and unlike last year, I did NOT preorder like I absolutely couldn’t live without the newest iPhone – no, I am NOT that person. But I’m seriously considering upgrading. I’d love to know more information from readers instead of continuing to research the differences from experts speaking a different language than me.

Thank you for reading!

xoxo

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2018 Justice & Recovery Conference

I have a certain responsibility to my license that I must maintain a level of learning each year to provide my clients the best possible psychotherapy available.

After four years of attending a conference specializing in teaching the most current theories and concepts to help children, I had the opportunity to attend the 2018 Justice & Recovery Conference!

For laymen, this is a convention designed to teach professionals (from law enforcement, judges, etc. to treatment providers of all different levels of education and experience). Experts inform the attendees the latest progress, information, legislation as well as a drug-specific treatment focus in our state about specialty courts and recovery for our entire community.

Here are my key points:

I have only occasionally been away from my 3 year old and only actually traveled without him once before so obviously we were a bit nervous that he would have a tough time adjusting to my absence. Obviously I knew that I would have more difficulty than my toddler.

However, my boys and I knew I needed a quick break as this is time I usually don’t have to myself. I absolutely enjoyed the experience and the much needed time with my colleagues, along with likeminded professionals.

I’ve been fortunate enough to experience many years of conferences that are sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. This one was no different; along with the variety of workshops, seminars and speeches given by informed, educated individuals, they do a great job of keeping the registered participants fed and comfortable.

I actually enjoyed each of the courses I attended but if I had to choose a favorite, it’s definitely a tie between “Hearing Voices” and “Current Drug Trends, Threats and the Elephant in the Room”.

The Current Trends was a workshop that focused on teaching us exactly what is happening in our youth: the drugs they’re doing, how they’re getting them, why they are choosing them and how to spot all the signs from adolescents themselves. It was awesome because it was from the perspective of law enforcement, so it’s fascinating to get information about what is on the streets of our community including the raw details of the people who are responsible. Law enforcement don’t have to be polite about what they see. Treatment providers look at the kids and families from a different angle. It’s important to have a source like police to see the truth and how to hold everyone accountable if we expect to be a vessel for change in our clients.

Hearing voices was by far the most emotional and stimulating workshop I’ve ever had during a conference! It’s purpose was to show us what a person suffering from schizophrenia experiences daily. Wow! I was fascinated with schizophrenia during grad school and seemed to research the disorder every chance I could. This still humbled me and left me feeling intense sadness from the mystery and power of schizophrenia! We got to listen to MP3 players and attempt to complete normal comprehension exercises which showed the depth of its power. I knew textbook information but it left me feeling stunned with how profound schizophrenia truly is.

I got to travel a total of 5 hours in two days, have many fun conversations with articulate people interested in similar ideas, learn a variety of new skills and concepts, PLUS I had the rare opportunity to do a little shopping!! You know me well enough to know that there’s ALWAYS time to SHOP!

I’m going to attach some of my photos that I thought were important or worth capturing. Check out my new work bag! My coworkers all love their bags and swear by Vera Bradley’s quality so I joined the club.

Thanks for reading my thoughts! I hope you enjoyed my summary of the conference and I’d love to hear your thoughts on recovery or your experiences traveling for your career!

Xoxo

Mommy Guilt

I’m sorry I’ve been less active on the blog for a while. Well, I’m kinda actually hashtag sorrynotsorry because I have a damn good explanation…

I’m a mom; which is plenty in and of itself, but add onto that list-a working mom. Plus I’m a stepmom, which is so much more complex than I’d ever care to explain. So honestly, I feel like it’s a huge accomplishment that each day I manage to shower, maintain a somewhat professional appearance, keep my focus enough to complete my normal tasks at work excluding the occasional slip-up or slacking/procrastination, and oh, you know the most important thing EVER: keep my family healthy and happy.

For you members of the mom club international, you know that we have to do absolutely a gajillion different things for everyone like we signed a damn lifelong contract to do so.

Sign here: “I, ____ will do my best to keep my children and their father healthy and happy” (yes ma’am sign me up, right?) of course!

Wait.

It continues…

Small print: by making sure from the moment I wake up to the minute I actually close my eyes at night, ha! Good luck sleeping by the way, I will make sure all of their basic needs are met, as well as all of their wants – which will never end throughout the continuous day, and apply appropriate limits and boundaries, using a healthy diet with nutritional value in mind, plus rewarding positive behavior and using a calm voice and on and on and on….

You get the picture, I’m sure.

So yes, I sometimes feel like my head is going to pop off of my body. And yes, I sometimes wonder if I’m doing ANYTHING right.

I feel like a complete failure in all facets of my life at times.

I’m pretty sure every mom on the planet does.

If you don’t – email me and tell me your secrets. Because I gave up a long time ago on being perfect.

It doesn’t keep me from trying every day of the week, though.

Which creates some disappointment in myself.

I planned to give you a mom guilt list but as I write, I don’t feel quite that guilty about any of those things anymore.

The one choice that causes me to continually feel guilt is when I’m typically somewhere between ‘desperate and exhausted’ each night, I have an overwhelming craving to lay in bed and mindlessly scroll Instagram as soon as my family is asleep.

I can feel like supermom but that day still wears me out and no matter how hard I try to get everything done that I plan – I still don’t. This is when I need to admit that I’m trying too hard to be perfect and to just relax and enjoy my alone-mom-time! I know that I should do this, but actually doing it is the difficult part.

There’s nothing wrong with being imperfect! This is what I continue to see in our community, in our world! It has become unacceptable to be less than perfect.

I am what I am. I’m a working momma. I’m not perfect but I’m a damn good mom. I’m not interested in being someone I’m not.

The worst thing we can be is people that pretend to be perfect. At least I admit that I have a designer knockoff at times! I’ll tell you when I buy something fake, I own it. I found out two years later that someone who gave me a bag had pretended this was an authentic designer handbag. Looking back, I’m really not surprised because this person has such a problem pretending she’s perfect, that she believes her own delusion.

Me: all I can do is be me. Every single day. Because I actually like who I am. I’m not perfect and I own it. I admit to my mistakes and flaws. This is what makes me a hell of a therapist that continues to see growth in my career and my clients! So I’ll own the fact that I don’t write nearly as much as I plan, want or need for my own sanity.

But I promise you this-I’m not going to give you an empty promise or a fake handbag! I’ll ALWAYS be me! Love me or hate me, I won’t change for anyone!

I am asked for my professional opinion all the time. The most valuable piece of advice I can give is: be who you are and don’t apologize for it anymore. Moms are way too hard on themselves and we’re all doing the best we can! Be satisfied with that.

Xoxo

Here we are, September.

Guess who finally got that necessary productivity that fuels my passion to be a better therapist and the confidence to make steps to be more profitable in my career!?

Me! I had the week I needed to get myself back on track! I needed to get my loose ends tied, some direction on my plans for the future and most importantly, technology tackled to be free to see my clients without a burden like many hours of paperwork being incomplete because of details that I had no clue to fix.

Done.

The feeling I had when I left work Friday evening was so freeing. Admittedly, I feel a similar relief at the first of the month when I finally complete all outstanding documentation, but this was different. After having a week of being sick, the ongoing tech issues and my plans for my traveling area being more unknown-I needed reassurance. I needed a good plan. Now, I’m comfortable. More sure of myself, my schedule and my sidekick (that trusty laptop that all therapists depend on like a lifeline), I can hit the ground running to new adventures!

Being a licensed therapist in the state of Oklahoma, I have many opportunities and endless options to provide my services. I’m looking into a new idea I’ve written a blog about before but I’m waiting until I know more details to tell you guys more. One of those ways is being in different school settings. I’ve got closer school districts since our move that I’m looking forward to visiting consistently.

All this talk about the upcoming school year brings me to the topic of the fall season…

Anyone else excited for the changing weather? Call me basic, call me whatever you want. I own it.

Amazing pumpkin spice candles, cardigans and hazelnut coffee – yes please! I’ve been looking forward to wearing new hoodies and even dark colors on my nails! I got the best pair of ankle boots on the planet a couple weeks ago, I’ve been steadily stocking up on the wardrobe changes and GIRLLL, you know I’m already back to my brunette hair color! *basic white girl hair flip*

I love it all. From the cinnamon smell to the dark colors-give me some mustard yellow, dark purple and crimson, even the gorgeous accessories and football… literally ALL of it. I’m READY for fall!

Who else is ready?

One more thing: Each fall I look forward to my birthday coming and this year is no different except that I decided I needed to ask for something totally out of the ordinary for me!

For a least ten years I’ve wanted a nice camera. I’m talking about a Canon Rebel or similar, because I’ve realized that I tend to document my son’s life more than I’ve ever cared about taking pictures prior to him being born!

If anyone has any advice about cameras, maybe the best quality for reasonable prices? Please let me know!

Thanks for reading my thoughts!

Xoxo