Pushing Through

The past year has been month after month of difficult situations and transitions. From difficult living situations to totaling my car in a wreck, applying for the Peace Corps and finding out 2 months before leaving that for various reasons I might not be cleared . Whatever could go wrong did. 

Yet here I am on the bus to the airport, Costa Rica bound, sleep deprived, and with a very full heart. I guess you could say I’m getting my heart back since it never really left Costa Rica 15 years ago. There are no words for this moment. My mind doesn’t yet seem to comprehend what my heart fully knows. 

I have an amazing group of 15 people who are very different than me, but they have the same spirit of helping and desire to leave the world a better place. They’re funny, they’re kind, they don’t take themselves too seriously. I couldn’t ask for more.

This commitment has taken sacrifice of all kinds. My fur baby and best friend in the world has moved to NY and is living with a couple who has showered her with more love, patience, compassion, and understanding than I could have hoped for. My family is more than supportive of this move, and I am grateful. 

Here’s to my new family, Tico 32!

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The Mustard Seed Challenge

It’s the season of challenges. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The Rice Bucket Challenge. And now, I bring to you The Mustard Seed Challenge. Or rather, brought to me by a friend who very gently and lovingly called me out on my doubt.

I could give so many reasons for my lack of faith in others, my self-doubt, my slowness to trust again, but at the end of they day they are only excuses. I am the only one who can cling to past disappointments, past pain instead of learning and letting go. I live life according to what is safe and predictable, and I do not trust God with my heart. I’ve been afraid of what else he may ask me to give up, so I decided it was better to just not let Him close enough to try. Now I find that I hold life at a distance, weighing it before giving it a chance to show its true beauty.

My friend told me to send her a list of goals, things I want in life. Kind of a bucket list, but not really. She is asking me to be honest with myself and with her and with God about the true desires of my heart. As hard and scary as it is, I know its time. These things may seem small, but they represent vulnerable areas for me, and so they’re good places to start. I’ll update the list as I come up with more.

– I don’t want to be afraid of God or relationships anymore.
– I want to be comfortable in my own skin.
– I want to believe in my worth as a daughter of the King.
– Make more time for self-care
– Start playing my guitar on a regular basis
– Finish decorating the apartment I’ve been living in for 4 months
– Make a dent in my stack of unread books
– I want to start believing in myself as a social worker and “therapist”
– Get as much training as possible to be a more effective social worker
– Learn as many intervention methods as possible to work with my little clients who have been dealt a difficult life
– Establish solid relationships with at least 2 girls in my neighborhood who need encouragement and support
– Get back into drawing
– Be open to the idea of meeting a guy who doesn’t fit my ideas of what he should be
– Not be afraid to speak my mind when something really bothers me instead of holding back

Dale Tiempo al Tiempo

Let time have time.

All in due time.

When the time is right.

Dale tiempo al tiempo.

Sometimes life happens so suddenly and quickly that we are caught off guard. Unaware of the strangle-hold we have on every situation and circumstance, we react out of instinct, kicking and clawing to fight off unwanted change. We are left bewildered and breathless in its wake, and the void left behind is a glaring reminder of what once was but no longer is.

Time is no stranger to pain. It has a way of transforming the ugly, open wounds into beautiful scars that will tell stories of our strength and courage. Truth resounds within us: even if we were able to go back to the way things were, we could not because we, too, have changed in the process.

Let time have time.

All in due time.

When the time is right.

Dale tiempo al tiempo.

Be still, be where you are, feel what you feel. It will not always last. Let time have all the time it needs… Dale tiempo al tiempo.

The Best Is Yet to Come

And thus begins the deconstruction of my hardened heart
as others’ pain becomes more important than my own
as I stop worrying about being right or wrong and just be
as I realize I am as fallible as the next
actions become more important than words
as I learn forgiveness is a process, not immediate
as I learn to love people for who they are and not who I want them to be
as I learn to be content with what I have when I have it

And while each hardened piece is chipped and melted away, the pang of regret, change, and reality sometimes steals my breath and leaves me trembling.

Exposed.

Jaded.

Disbelieving.

And then a look a word, an embrace, reminds me why I am here and why I must continue this journey.
Because someone, somewhere, at some point will be in these same shoes. And at that time I will be able to say, I’ve been there too.

Don’t give up, the best is yet to come

The Eruption by Jen Abbas at age 18

divorce
is like a trembling earthquake
the world shakes
rumbling with rage
and all the anger
guilt
and all the frustrations
that have been festering for so long
below the surface
suddenly spew upward
in an inferno of hate
or apathy…
at times
the earth calms
and you think
the turmoil is over
settled
stable
but
then the cycle begins again
repeating
repeating
repeating
you are weary
you want to rest
and that is when you realize
the shaking has stopped
but
there is an eerie feeling
lurking in the air
you are hestitant to believe
anything
anymore
you are so tired
after struggling for so long
and so you rest
on the last solid patch of land
only to watch it split in two
two
separate
distinct
parts
that will never
come together
again
each new patch
supports part of you
and as you watch
they pull away.

Insomnia

The sound of the gentle rain calms my fragmented thoughts and soothes my throbbing head. I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night or past 6am. I’m starting to accept sleeplessness for what it is.

They say if you can’t sleep, you shouldn’t lay awake in bed any longer than 20 minutes. Your body gets used to doing other things in bed and begins to associate it with wakefulness. As frustrating as it is waking up hours before I need to, I find this morning to be peaceful.

The sound of the rain mixes with the hum of the train, the soft patter of my neighbors waking up, the sounds of the neighborhood coming to life.

I never take time to just be. Even when I’m not working on a paper or reading an article, music is in the background. There is always some noise to distract from lingering thoughts which dare to intrude unwelcomed by my heart and mind. Maybe its time to confront them head on. Maybe its time to let them come, embrace them for what they are and then let them go.

Maybe then sleep will come and stay.

Discipline

Not gonna lie, I have a hard time with self-discipline sometimes. Homework before fun stuff, take Luna on a walk every day, read instead of watching a show before bed… little things like this which would be better choices… They aren’t bad choices, maybe just not the best in that moment.

I’ve started reading The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck again. He’s a very insightful man who talks about a lot of stuff that I’ve seen in my life and the lives of the kids I work with. The latest chapter on discipline has really opened my eyes to what they deal with in their homes. At The Relatives, we get kids anywhere from 7 to 17 years of age who are homeless, who have run away from home, who have safety concerns at home due to a wide variety of issues, behavioral issues, kids who are between foster care placements, etc. I will more than likely never see these kids again once my internship is done, but I will always remember the stories.

One kid in particular stood out in my mind while reading this chapter on discipline. But before I get to him, let me get into the chapter a little more. Peck basically says we discipline ourselves if we feel we are valuable, if we feel our time is valuable. We learn this value by watching our parents, how they discipline themselves,  how they discipline us, how they love us. He talks about how children learn through consistent interaction with their parents how to behave, what is appropriate and inappropriate, etc. (Really, in order to get the full idea, go get the book. I highly recommend it anyway.)

It’s a little difficult to explain why this brough specific clients to mind, but basically, we see so many kids who are undisciplined and disrespectful and don’t care to behave otherwise. Their sense of correct behavior is just as strong as mine, which entails respect, honesty, empathy, etc. The 17 year old who thought it was okay to make fun of a 13 year old boy just because he laughed at the jokes didn’t understand why his behavior was unacceptable. I had to explain that just because someone is laughing, it doesn’t mean he actually thinks it’s funny. Something which seems so basic and common sense to me was a foreign concept to him, probably because his parents modeled disrespectful behavior infront of him.

I think of another client who’s mother didn’t want to deal with him anymore, so she went to the magistrate to have him involuntarily committed to the behavioral health center (the inpatient and outpatient mental health and behavioral facility). The sherriff’s office came to pick  him up, and they took him out to the squad car in front of all the other clients and staff and 20 something volunteers. They didn’t even let him eat the homemade meal the volunteers spent all day preparing. What kind of message does that send to this 15 year old? “Your mother doesn’t want you anymore, so she’s having you admitted to a mental health facility, even though there’s nothing wrong with you.” And the worst part about it, the sherriff explained to him that he didn’t do anything wrong, he wasn’t in trouble. He replied, “Oh, I know. I’ve been through this before.” When I heard that, my heart broke. What on earth had this kid been through for him to learn at such an early age that he cannot count on his mother to be there for him, that he’s on his own. The only person he can depend on is himself. After 15 years of consistent emotional, physical, mental neglect, what else should he be expected to believe?

I’m beginning to realize even the small decisions are important when it comes to discipline. Delayed gratification, mentally, emotionally, and physically caring for myself, caring for others… I will spend time on what I feel to be important, and since I have such an incredibly limited amount of time with these kids, I feel a great urgency to spend my time loving them. It’s not my job to fix them or make them respect eachother. It’s my job to love them. If I can model appropriate behavior infront of them, maybe then they’ll realize there’s a different way of behaving which may be healthier in the long run. If that means disciplining myself by doing little things like waking up the first time my alarm goes off or taking daily walks, then I think that’s a very small price to pay.