Back from the Dead


It’s funny, therapists spend so much time touting the value of self-care to clients, but somewhere along the way on my journey toward graduation I lost sight of my own needs. I kept telling myself that if I could just make it through, I would have the rest of my life to feed my creative hunger. Just three more years, two more, just an internship, and then you can go back to the things that make you feel fulfilled.

And here I am, at the end. I made it. But I’m depleted, and disconnected. My body has suffered and I am looking at beginning again on my journey of health. There was so much pain, so much creative starvation, and why? Perhaps if I had set aside more room for passion I would not feel so much like I am back at square one.

Don’t get me wrong. These four years have been amazing. I’ve made friends, I’ve developed outstanding skills. I am competent and confident in my ability to be a therapist should I choose to pursue licensure. I have a degree that will assist in my current career. I fell in love.

But I also shut away a part of myself, tricking myself into thinking if I did not acknowledge it that it would go away. This is dangerous. There were times when I could not get air, I was so strangled by yearning. There were moments when I wished I could quit, just to have some semblance of my artistic life.

And yet, I’m here.

Wiser for my mistakes. Beginning again. Promising that I won’t forsake myself along the way. Hoping that others will hold me accountable.

I know I did what I needed to in order to survive, but pure survival is a very bleak life.

An artist without art is not a truly Living thing.

So hello, my dear friends. I’m back.

Begin again flowers

Sincerely,

Emilie

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In Which Emilie Writes to You from a Magical Space-Age Computing Device


I am writing to you on my wonderful new all-in-one computing device, and I must admit the 23″ touchscreen makes me feel as though I am really writing to you from a spaceship. Any moment now I could go into hyperdrive and leave this planet far, far behind. I am quite particular about my keyboards as well, and this wireless one is smooth, but still provides a satisfying mini-thud sound whenever I punch a key. Then when I start typing really quickly (like right now) I look like one of those “hackers” in spy movies that mash the keys on a computer and somehow manage to make the lights go out. I’m pretty much a typing prodigy. In addition to this computer, I am also expecting a surface pro to arrive early next week. Now that the model 2s are out, the originals are on sale. I was able to purchase both my all-in-one and the surface pro for the same amount I was considering spending on a MacBook pro. Additionally, both of my units will be able to run Office 13 Pro which is superior to the Office ’11 available for MAC users, and I will be able to write on my surface pro in class just like I would a notebook. I am giddy over my refund-enabled purchases, and will now be able to write papers for grad school without having to worry that my computer will randomly shut itself off at any moment, just for a lark.

Grad school is pretty much my life right now, that and work. Hello the next three years! On top of two classes, I also am required to meet with dyad partners every week outside of class to discuss the movies and books we read weekly. Oh, I also need to research different private practices in the area, because as a part of my program I am required to attend a certain amount of therapy sessions. If you have any recommendations, be sure to send them my way! Turns out it’s somewhat difficult to get approved for billing through GroupHealth when your initial reason for therapy is “grad school requirement”. (Sidenote: I do think it will be a very valuable experience, and all therapists should be going through therapy as well, so even though I joke I am taking it seriously). Don’t get me wrong, I love being in the classroom and am very excited about both the field and also the new friends I am making, but I am afraid I am in a sort of bartering system with myself where I either get to A) spend some time relaxing B) spend some time exercising C) Spend some time socializing or D) spend some time cleaning but I cannot ever seem to fit in more than one. I will get better, I’m just a little out of practice! (Ok I need to interject here and go back to the whole subject of my magical space-age computing device and let you know that I am so ecstatic right now!)

In order to help simplify my life a little I thought I would attempt to address my never-ending bag lady problem by sewing myself a custom bag big enough to carry everything. I ordered the most adorable fabric from Spoonflower (if you have not explored that website you are missing out on life) and have begun making it. The end goal is to create a giant, quilted tote. The lining is sewn and the outside is cut and waiting to be sewn. The quilting, straps, pockets and other embellishments are still under consideration. I fear, however, that I may have made a slight miscalculation. This current dilemma was actually brought on by a remark one of my dyad partners said to me after we had our last session. She merely mentioned that I might not want the most giant bag (my paraphrase, her words were definitely more elegant) as it would be rather heavy. Now, ever since she said that, I’ve been staring at my beautifully prepared lining thinking, “it’s too big”. I think I’m just having a brief emotional crisis that I shall ignore and continue on. I mean, 21″x17″x7″ isn’t an unreasonable size for an over-the-shoulder bag, is it? I mean it’s big, but is it too big? I will be carrying files, textbooks, a surface, my wallet, a water bottle, snacks and dinner. You know what? No, no I’m not going to doubt myself. If it ends up being hilariously large I’ll just use it as an overnight bag and make another school bag of more moderate proportions. After all, you can never have too many bags. Ok, crisis averted. Kind of.

Except the more bags I make, the less far I am getting from the moniker “bag lady”.

Who am I kidding? I’ll always be a bag lady. I’ll just make sure to always have really, really cute bags.

So cute that you’re going to start carrying more bags just so you can be more like me.

 

Clearly I need those therapy sessions.

 

To summarize, in closing: School, work=my life. School+work=lots of bags. New bag+school+work+computing devices=awesome, resigned, bag lady life.

 

Sincerely,

Emilie

 

IE Is Happy


Gone are the self-recriminations and obsessive guilt over not blogging enough, or not writing engaging content. Certainly some regularity in posting would be nice for readers, but I’m not going to feel poorly about not being able to deliver that. I’m so happy these days, and I’m not going to let any absurd self-imposed standards get in the way of that happiness.

Also gone are the days of strict life-planning (for now). I’ve lots of thoughts and directions about the far-off future, but for now I am going to devote myself to health, to work, to school, to art and to my circle of people. To who and where and what I am right now.

At the end of undergrad I was doing a great job with health and fitness but slowly (and definitely surely) a desk job, long hours and a lack in personal drive contributed to a backslide. So starting this month I am going to be more conscious of my food (going back to that veggie-centric focus in cooking I had for a while, and cutting back on wheat as well as processed foods) and striving for consistent exercise. I’ve started marking it off on my chore chart again. I’ll be checking in on here too, so do hold me accountable. I’m doing this because I’m starting to notice that when I eat unhealthy foods I don’t feel well, and also I want to build up physical stamina so that I can take full advantage of this area. I miss how active I was as a kid–camping, hiking, swimming and biking used to be what our family would do for recreation and I want to be able to not only do all of those activities, but take it up a notch and go backpacking and kayaking and adventuring!

As an adult I’ve had a tough time balancing work, art, life, friends and all I want to do. I think this is normal and as I will always have a million interests I shall always have this problem as well. You may remember that back in January I wanted to do a better job of engaging socially and getting out of my one-person cocoon. I would like to report back that I think I have been quite successful in this area. So successful, in fact, that I’ve even noticed myself getting lonely on the weekends (and to be honest weeknights) when I don’t have any social time planned! Yes, me, lonely.

I’ve got to tell you, after 23 years the All-About-Emilie Show is getting pretty old.

So what have I been doing? (I shall now contradict the above statement by continuing to talk all about myself). If you follow my social media you’ll know that I coordinated the SMU Alumni Sand in the City Team (I’m on the Alumni Board). We made a giant Bigfoot going to school. To be fair, I helped with the pound up but I was unfortunately not much of an asset in the carving portion. I pick up most art forms pretty quickly so it was a shock to my system that I might quite possibly be the worst sand carver ever. My mind doesn’t function that way. I can build, but I can’t carve. Strange, huh?

Yesterday I spent the morning having coffee, then I went downtown and sat for a few hours around Capitol Lake sketching. After sweating and covering my fingers in charcoal I nipped on over to Radiance for some motherwort as well as a couple of delicious aromatherapy candles. I chose “balance” and “harmony” and highly recommend both. There is apparently some sort of festival going on this weekend called Harbor Days at the downtown marina. I did a quick walk-through and from what I could tell there were a lot of vendors and a couple of boats that you could visit. I didn’t stay there long. But! Oh! I totally aced the “back-in” parking by the lake! Maybe next I’ll be brave enough to practice my parallel parking in public…

I’m also taking Family Systems Therapy this term as my first MAC class. I’m glad I started out with this class because while systems therapy is quite different than individual therapy, it’s a great jumping off point to recognize the patterns in my own family interactions. I’ve only had one class so far but we started by reading a couple of books for the first session. The shifting dynamics between the “case studies” covered in the books were very interesting because they very closely mirrored status exercises in theatre. I’m getting so excited about the possibility of combining theatre and therapy, and eventually focusing my scholarship on art and therapy.

In addition to admitting to myself that I love living in this area, I have also come to terms with the fact that I want to stay in higher ed forever and ever. Some bosses of mine may be laughing and saying “I told you so” right now but I shall ignore such childish behavior and open myself up to all of the possibilities in this field. Yes, I definitely want to teach as well as continue on in administration (most likely eventually moving out of enrollment) and yes I do plan to perform and practice therapy and write and teach and work all at once. I can do it all. I’ve always done it all. It’s ok to do it all. I’m going to anyway, but thanks to some advice passed on to me, I’m teaching myself that I’m going to do it my way anyway so rather than flailing around and feeling guilty about it before breaking down I should just do it my way from the beginning and be happy.

It seems to me that a lot of people don’t value happiness very highly. Professional success, sure. Money, definitely. But happiness? A lot of people seem to do without. I’m not ok with not being happy. Of course I will go through moments and seasons of unhappiness, but even at my most troubled there is an underlying happiness (not just contentment!) that I believe is found by living in the present and having faith that life will work out. In my experience it always has.

In my case life seems to have done much more than just “work out”. It is glorious.

Have a delightful September, and I’ll check in as I have things to report.

Be happy.

Sincerely,
Emilie