End of NaBlaPoMo and My Word for 2017 (and 2016)

Final November prompt for NaBloPoMo: "Have you chosen a word of the year for yourself for 2017? What is it? If not, what words would you consider?" When I first read this, I thought this year for some reason so started writing about that. So first I will share my word(s) for 2016:

First, a stream of consciousness word jumble to brainstorm:

 S, colon cancer, NVC, not again, car wreck, totaled, insurance, new used car, EOL pod, financial coaching, business growth, ups and downs, reunion, rekindled hope, fundraising, donor embryo, niece, pen pal, Oregon, ceramics, housemate search, new housemate, relief, new job, belonging, appreciation, laughter, Halloween, unicorn, too.many.interviews, rejection, questioning, lessons learned, business plan?, Thanksgiving from planet meh, love my dog, foster adoption training, home study, new connections, refocus on BNI, ready for December holidays, trip home, avalanches of abundance.

Narrowing to three: ups and downs; rekindled hope; and too.many.interviews.

Narrowing to one: REKINDLED HOPE. These words relate to becoming a mom and they are core to my purpose and the fire that fuels my drive forward in life.

And finally, the true prompt, my word for 2017... what do I want to welcome into my life in the new year: FAMILY. My own family - that's it. Inherent in that word is home, stability, and love. Yes!

Thanks for reading along with my 29 posts this month. I feel good about this accomplishment! And look forward to staying in touch with several new bloggers. Happy (in 5 minutes on the West Coast) December!


Doctor Trips from Hell

Two more posts, then I'm not posting for all of December. Just kidding! But I probably will take a few days break. I'm going with the prompt for today: "What was your most embarrassing or scary trip to the doctor?"

Oh goody, let's go back and relive a medical trauma.

Sorry for the dark humor. I tend to have some anxiety around doctor visits because of my history of losing my mom, but as I think about it, that anxiety has lessened with all the fertility visits, tests, and procedures I have had in the past few years.

Okay, brace yourself, two doctor's trips have come to mind. The first, I got the flu. Initially, I didn't know it was the flu. It was in December maybe six or seven years ago when I was living in Central California, and I had a couple glasses of wine earlier in the evening and made cookies. It seems like I ate a weird potentially stomach-unsettling dinner that night, too.

So, I thought, it might be because I'd thrown this combination at my stomach, but it soon became very scary and out of control and I knew it was more than an upset stomach. I felt so nauseous I couldn't sit up. I just lay on the ground in-between vomiting, etc. I felt like I was going to pass out and started to worry that, since I lived alone, no one would know and I would die here alone, on the ground, in a compromising position in my pajamas.

I think we have a merciful memory system that erases the worst ones because I can't exactly remember how it felt, I just remember being so sick and out of it and afraid I would die alone. So, I called the ambulance. So embarrassing but I was too sick to care much as several firefighters traipsed into my modest, messy house and scooped me off the floor and onto a gurney. I remember they were so nice and reassuring, not rude or aloof, at all. I really appreciated that, though I was barely conscious. It felt soothing.

But. then. I was dropped off at the ER only to be considered lower priority than people who were bleeding out - the gall of it! - and lying there writhing in discomfort, feverish head ache, and nauseousness, until hours later they were able to get to me. Once they finally put those anti-nausea meds in the IV, sweet relief. I was re-hydrated, given the good meds and sent home. My only ambulance/ER story, knock on wood. Fun stuff.

The other story is much shorter. Basically, this creepy, mumbly old-school doctor who I was seeing for the first time for a routine check-up (not gynecological) required by K@iser for some reason, without warning mind you, put his finger up my butt. Yeah, that's not normal. No doctor has every done that before, outside of maybe a gynecological exam. You do that at other exams, sure, like a colon exam or something, but this was not that. And the fact that he didn't even let me know what was going to happen, no heads up, just kind of made his move and stuck it up there. Ach! Not okay.

Sorry, I warned you to brace yourself. Needless to say, I made sure to never see that doctor again. But to add insult to injury, for some reason his name was on all my prescriptions for a while because I guess he was still listed in the system as my primary care doctor. Finally, I got him removed from my account, and try not to think of it. Thanks, NaBloPoMo.  Just kidding. It's kind of funny now.

There are a couple fertility procedures that were super uncomfortable, but I'll spare you those in this post. You're welcome.

See you tomorrow for the last day of November and the last day of this month-long every day blogging journey!

Way too much!

I met with a new group of three think-er/try-er SMCs tonight in my area. One of them came to the adoption-specific group we held a couple weeks ago.

The meeting tonight was a bit overwhelming. The three of them had been meeting for years apparently and knew each other very well.

Also, all three of them are "poly" or practicing polyamory. Their check-ins included detailed recounting of medical procedures and in-depth sharing about their various love affairs. Way. Too. Much. for me having just met them.

They were very nice, but I'm not sure I'll go back to that group.


Noticings from NaBloPoMo

The month of November is almost over, and I have written a post every day but one. I am, indeed, ready to be done! Along the way and looking back, I have noticed a few differences in both the content and blogging experience when I am writing every day, and I would like to record these differences for posterity and future reference:
  1. When I write every day, I am more likely to focus in more depth on one experience or topic. I'm not so "bursting at the seams" with multiple experiences to share, like I am when I write weekly or so. There is satisfaction in exploring a topic more thoroughly and spaciously.
  2. I was positively influenced to integrate more visual images. I normally only do this on special occasions or holidays, but when all our posts showed up in the FB feed, I wanted mine to have a cool picture, too! And it was kinda fun searching for the right one...
  3. The month went pretty quickly, and I am proud I stuck with it.
  4. Looking at a lineup of other blogger's posts (on blogs I'd never read before), it was interesting to see which ones I was drawn to. The topic either related to a specific interest I hold - like a post with stories of how pet owners had met their pets, or one related to marital/relationship dynamics - or it was a personally meaningful or vulnerable sharing post, like some of the election fears or a relationship issue.

I am now following a few new blogs and look forward to weaving some of my insights into future choices around blog content and posting frequency. Though, to be honest, I don't see myself ever moving away from using my blog as a place to process my feelings and share challenges and celebrations. It has been, and will continue to be, very valuable to share my life at a personal level and participate in the community I am part of now.


A Welcome Letter - and timely visitors

I received an exciting letter in the mail on Friday saying I had been assigned a social worker and I should hear from them to set up a meeting within 5 days!

The letter also had criminal background paperwork for my housemate to complete and instructions for her about the live-scan process, i.e. pay online and then the form will be sent to take to a live-scan finger printing location. She was great about it and immediately completed it and mailed it in.

Adding to the sense of reality this letter brought with it, I saw my friend (and Oakland ex housemate) and his wife and baby yesterday. She is so cute and fun! She's learning to stand, grab on, and pull berself forward, and I had fun dancing around with her, but it was even fun just watching her discover carpet. They have wood floors and she was really curious to touch and feel the shag rug in the living room. I was imaging myself doing these things as a mother.

Another aspect of the visit was seeing how exhausted they were and the effort and time it takes to go anywhere. It was funny because we hung out at my house for a while and drank tea, then I suggested we head out for a walk and bite to eat downtown. I had been home much of the day on Thanksgiving and that day and was ready to get out of the house. They looked less than enthused and said they'd be happy just to stay there at the house. lol. I did eventually convince them to rally.

I hope the pieces keep falling into place. Looking forward to December happenings, then traveling to Oregon at the end of the month for Christmas.

A Tragic (and possibly preventable?) Death

An online blogger friend of mine passed away last week, and I've been thinking about it off and on since then. Members of us on a group FB page that knew her have been sharing our feelings of sadness and fear brought up by her death. She had a young daughter who had recently started kindergarten and was the light of her life. Rest in Peace, B. You will not be forgotten.

A sudden loss like this makes one think of the fragility of life and the importance of valuing and making the most of each day, as well as communicating our love to people regularly. This friend was healthy except for a couple of specific symptoms, including an extremely low heart rate and shortness of breath, and her cardiologist actually said it was nothing she would "drop dead" from. Haunting words to read after she did pass away not long after. He should have taken her symptoms more seriously and erred on the cautious side.

I'm not sure if it will be helpful, but I feel compelled to share a couple of links about heart disease and heart problems you can have, even if you exercise and are relatively healthy. There can be both auto-immune factors in heart disease, as well as detrimental effects from long-term, strenuous cardiovascular exercise (think training for marathons over time).

Please take a moment if you can and read the warning signs, such as breathlessness and edema. And please, make a BIG deal of these kind of symptoms, and err on the overly cautious side. I know B had a profound impact on the lives of those close to her, and she will be hugely missed, especially by her daughter. Maybe another impact she will have is educating others on heart disease and how to interpret, and take seriously, it's various forms and symptoms.


The Time Rage Got the Best of Me

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! I hope you enjoy the day whatever you're doing and whomever you are, or are not, with. Special shout out to the single ladies away from family today; may the day be fun for you in non-traditional ways!

NaBloPoMo prompt for today: Have you ever rage-quit a job?

Not exactly. Well, not in a dramatic, say something rageful and inappropriate, then storm out the door kind of way.  But I did have a rage moment a few weeks back at a meet-up group I host... As background, I didn't advertise it well or early enough, plus a few people didn't show up. Sidenote: why do we do this? because I do this too, sometimes, i.e. sign up for an event, then bail shortly before it happens. I try to remember to change my r.s.v.p. but admit I don't always do so. So frustrating for the event planner. In any case, this led to meeting with just one person that night.

As fate had it, the restaurant we normally meet in had a band playing that night, so it was loud and I had to advocate and follow-up with the manager to get a table. While I was waiting, I had a glass of wine. So, I wasn't in the best mood, and I'd been drinking. I'd like to think that's why I became emotionally reactive. It WAS annoying and tiresome, but not worth the reaction I had.

What happened? Well, the one person who came jumped right into telling me her entire career story and talked non-stop for about 15 minutes (fine and even welcomed for a counseling appointment but a free meet-up event at a restaurant, not so welcome), until I finally interjected and said I wanted to suggest an activity, as well as explain my role in leading the meet-up and get business stuff out of the way, such as a sign-up sheet and collecting a small donation to cover costs of the meet-up.

I had barely finished my sentence, when she went into a tirade about how it didn't say anything about the meet-up costing anything (I double-checked later to confirm that I did in fact mention a donation would be requested to cover costs) and that maybe she would understand it if we were meeting in a rented space, or something, but in this case she didn't understand what she's paying for, that it wasn't worth it.

At this point, to put it lightly, my temperature rose. My thoughts were that I have a graduate degree and over 12 years experience in the career counseling field, and it takes effort and time to plan and facilitate these monthly events, plus paying monthly dues. I do benefit by sometimes connecting with a new client but not always. So, the fact that she felt entitled to waltz in and get free career counseling and take advantage of meet-up benefits without contributing at all really made me mad, and at some level maybe offended me or hurt my feelings. And not only not contributing - we've all been short on money at times and I would have totally given her a pass - but she lamented that the experience was not "worth" even a few dollars.

I think part of my anger was because I've made huge strides in my business over the last year or two in valuing my time, and other coaches and professionals time, as well. I guess I do believe in that value now, which is the silver lining on this story - recognizing that I really do value my time and counseling skills and believe I should be paid fairly.

To finish the story, I said that yes, it was in the event description, then told her I actually felt offended that she said the only value was in renting a space, and not the content, time, and effort, etc. She continued to argue. I stopped her and said I did not want to argue, that I wished her lots of good luck in her career and hoped that sharing her story tonight was helpful for her, and excused myself.

In retrospect, I think I did not need to take it personally and it wasn't a huge deal in the big picture, but I'm not sorry I left versus spending another hour listening to and helping a woman who wasn't appreciative.

Returning to gratitude...I'm thankful that experience is over and I learned from it and thankful for all the good things in my life right now: my sweet dog, Zoey; my health; my great work environment and ability to contribute at the non-profit; doing interesting, fun, and meaningful work with my clients; my planned trip to Oregon to see family over Christmas; my family and nieces and nephew; and my excitement and hope for building a family in the near future. Now off to have a Thanksgiving cocktail!

Thanksgiving Memories

In my family of origin, Thanksgiving generally included really good food and not so good connections. Dinner conversation would either be stilted or one extroverted person would be putting on a comedy show. One dare not ask or share anything at a deeper level for fear of being ridiculed. It never felt safe to share about challenges or be vulnerable.

In later years, after my siblings got married, more alcohol was mixed in, and people became "jolly" as the night wore on; sometimes overly so! I remember one time my brother-in-law was quite intoxicated at the end of the night and he was carrying my nephew home who had fallen asleep. I was truly afraid he might trip and fall with the baby, but thankfully he made it.

I would have a bit deeper introvert-friendly one-on-one side conversations sometimes but most family members seemed compelled to track the whole group focus, story, or comedy routine. I'm not a great storyteller or comedian in group situations, especially when the culture is not supportive, so this meant I didn't end up speaking much.

For as long as I can remember, my Dad has retired early, regardless of who may still be present. He makes no apologies for this, just states he's done, says goodnight, and walks out of the room. My (step) mom would stay up later on holidays. She enjoyed having people around, even if she didn't venture into very deep waters, would ask questions, and we had some good conversations later at night when I was staying at my parents' house.

This year, I won't be with family, or even with friends, which I guess I sort of chose by not reaching out to procure an invitation or inviting people to my house. I'm going to get a newsletter and marketing piece done by end of tomorrow, as well as take a long hike with my dog and watch a movie.  I may make some rolls or get some turkey and cranberry from the store. Leftovers are the best, and I'll miss them if I don't end up cooking.

One of my favorite memories of Thanksgiving, is one I celebrated with a close friend in Central California. We are both INFP personalities and tend to live and communicate in deep waters. We wrote out what we were thankful for and what we wanted to release and shared it with one another. Maybe I'll do an activity like that tomorrow...


The Four Questions

I'm developing and expanding my career counseling activities and tools in the realm of the "inner game" of career transition. "Inner game" meaning working through the fears, self-doubt, and self-sabotage that can come up when you are expanding and pursuing new goals in your career.

Eventually, I envision offering this and other content through group events and online programs, as well as individual counseling. I thought I'd share one tool that clients have said they appreciate lately. It's a tool from Byron Katie called, The Four Questions.

Here are the questions I share with clients, along with other "inner game" tools. I recommend The Four Questions when you're wrestling with persistent, negative self-talk. Let me know what you think!

The Four Questions
We all have self-judgments or self-doubts that come up in the career change process...i.e. “I'm too old,” “I'm not talented enough,” “I'm not qualified or experienced enough,” etc. Reduce the power of these thoughts by reality checking them with Byron Katie's, "Four Questions":
  1. Is it true?
  2. Do I absolutely know it's true?
  3. How do I react and what happens when I believe that thought?
  4. What would I be without that thought?


A Reunion with Twists and Turns

The night before last, around 5:30pm, I headed into O@kland to meet up with S for dinner, then possibly join him for a chorale performance in SF. I hadn't decided yet about the chorale performance because that morning he had switched plans on me and, after initially offering to pick me up, asked me to meet him on his side of the E. Bay for dinner, then take rapid transit together into the city. Not a huge deal, except it was raining all day, added to the fact that it's crowded and an often less-than-pleasant assault to the senses on the train, especially on a weekend night. Plus, I didn't know how our dinner and conversation would go, and the added complications to get there just felt a bit overwhelming.

Once I got to dinner and settled in with a glass of wine and tasty food, I started feeling more amenable. Plus, what he had to tell me was very anti-climactic. I can't say in detail what it was... suffice to say it was about a topic that many men think too much about, and his behaviors in this area. He said it in a way that seemed meant to explain and put blame on himself, but I had heard some variation on this theme dozens of times over our years together - and had so many memories that disproved his framing of the situation - that I am sorry to say my response was less than sensitive. I felt like an old, jaded woman shaking my head. lol I said that maybe there was some truth to what he was saying, but that I felt there was a lot more to it. But if he was happy with framing it that way, then I'm happy for him. So that ended up being a minimal part of the evening.

After dinner, we drove to the station and boarded a train, then took an Uber from the station in SF up the hill to the event. It was kind of funny in retrospect that I had been anxious about taking public transportation that night, then several things went wrong, and I think S felt pressure and worry about it. I wasn't aware of it at the time - I knew he was feeling some stress but wasn't sure why.

The difficulties started with the Uber driving by us three times before finally seeing us. Then, S thought the event started a half hour later than it did and the volunteer staffing the door wouldn't let us in for 10 minutes, until the longest old-timey song in history had concluded. I enjoyed the show but it was fairly short and didn't have an intermission with snacks and drinks, which I think makes it more fun. I was also super parched by the end of the night because the church didn't even have drinking fountains and I forgot a water bottle. After the performance, S got a little lost leading us back to the station, and we meandered through some empty (except for a few homeless folks) and litter-strewn blocks of the city only to wait in a crowded sweatbox of a platform area for 20 minutes until our next train came. He was clearly super anxious by that time, and I said something about it. He admitted it, which broke the tension. I reassured him, and he me - which we rarely did when in relationship.

I should probably share that I think part of his anxiety also came from us holding hands on the way to the station and in the chorale event... I inquired about it initially, and he said that he was not in a committed relationship with the ex and things were uncertain. He brought up that he'd filled out a profile on J-date to prove his point (and no he is not Jewish). For my part, it just felt natural and nice. I don't want to get back together, so in a way it felt more light and "just for fun," which I've rarely felt. We talked a lot about our families and caught up with each other, including my adoption plans.

At the end of the night, we got our cars and he followed me to a gas station as I was on empty. He bought us water, which has never tasted so good. And we did kiss a couple times goodbye - like a friend's kiss with a little extra but definitely not clearly romantic or making out or anything. I said in a prior post that it might be a long while before I see him again, but that I was still looking forward to it. It still may be a long while because I think (and he as much as stated on the phone) that he is comfortable with either completely being together or not being together at all; i.e. close friends with me seems difficult and confusing for him. No way do I want to get back together, even though it felt good and natural spending time with him. I guess time will tell what the future holds.


Hoping, Hoping, Hoping

I'm borrowing last year's prompt for today: "What do you hope happens by the end of this year?"

First of all, I can't believe it's almost the end of November! I think you know you're getting older when time starts going faster. On the other hand, I think time generally goes faster heading into fall because there seem to be a lot of events, and people are trying to cram goals and activities in before the holidays arrive, especially Christmas season, which pretty much starts in a couple of weeks. Ach! If I want to make some of my gifts, I better get on it! But I digress...

By the end of this year, I hope to have my home in good shape to accept an adoption placement, and I hope to have my online profile created, which is a collaborative effort between me and whoever my social worker may be. I don't know if this is realistic, but that's what I hope. I cleaned my bedroom closet today, got rid of a couple of boxes, and did several loads of laundry, which seemed like a step in the right direction.

I would have thought I might have heard from the agency and have scheduled the social worker interview by now. I sent an email inquiry week before last and received this response:
"Thank you for the check in. At this point your file is being reviewed by the program supervisor, who will assign you to a social worker. I do not have a timeline on when you will be assigned to a social worker and start the interviews. We will update you once you have a social worker assigned! In the meantime, please keep working on any remaining paperwork and/or start preparing your house for the walk through."

Basically, "Be patient and quite bothering us!"

The other change I hope happens by the end of the year, is to have joined or be close to joining a business referral networking group, likely a BNI chapter, be receiving the higher amount per check from the non-profit for additional hours, and possibly have applied for a secured loan - all amounting to an increase in financial stability. I know I will start my new schedule the week of December 1st and have reached out to local BNI groups expressing interest and visited one last week. I'm not sure if I should apply for the secured loan now or in a month or two when I have increased monthly income.

The wild card is possibly landing a higher paying part-time job, which has it's pros and cons but would definitely help financially. I have applied and continue to apply for these, though it grows wearisome.

So those are my hopes for the next six weeks. May the wind be at my back, and at yours!



As I focus more on the steps to become a mom through adoption, I'm thinking more about how attractive, functional, and cozy my home would be for a child. I guess there are two levels of home improvement: one, what the adoption agency requires me to do before placement; and two, what feels comfortable and livable for me if a child is placed in my home. Here are some thoughts that are nagging at me, in terms of home cleaning and improvement, below. * To put this in context, I have never been someone who thought a lot about home decor and improvement. I do like the house to have some nice aesthetic elements and be kept relatively clean, but beyond that, I'm like, "meh."

  • Getting the shag living room rug and other rugs professionally cleaned.
  • Getting the last few bins and boxes out of my bedroom. These are an example of how I can get used to a situation that isn't great because it seems like too much trouble to change it, and it isn't a priority.
  • Finding a vanity table and chair at an antique store or on Cr@igslist. I've been meaning to do this for some time, and it would definitely be a big help to the look of my bedroom, providing a place, other than on top of a large plastic bin, for me to keep my makeup, hair ties, and perfume, etc.
  • Doing something in the bathroom... I'm limited there because what would be ideal is to have the tile shelving, which is obviously quite old and coming apart in places, redone or removed. Whoever had that idea was a little bonkers. Small tile shelving? Water and grout? Makes no sense. Sooo, yeah, in lieu of that, I think maybe a tray on the shelf with an inch or two edge for the bottles and maybe a hand towel underneath with edge to set razors (it's a high shelf)? Something that feels more functional and effective. Any other ideas would be much appreciated. I guess I'd need a bin for bath toys, too!
  • I'd like to clean the couch. It's that faux suede type fabric and I know there are furniture cleaners made for that.
  • If I got really ambitious, I would re-stain or paint my wood dining room table and chairs.

Then, there are specifically child-focused furniture and items I would like to bring into the home, such as:
  • Child's dresser and wardrobe
  • Child-size table and chairs
  • Child's bookshelf
  • Mobile and art... considering themes, if I chose hippos, I would already have several cute items since I collected hippos for many years. Other ideas: the mountain forest (think evergreen trees and Bambi animals :); Babaar (I loved those books and have lots of elephants from my Grammy's collection); or the circus... what do you think? I like interesting and colorful themes.
  • Other needed furniture and home equipment, depending on age of child, including a changing table, crib, bouncy swing and/or rolling baby walker.

I'm really lucky in that my sister and brother have had four kids between them, and I know there would be hand-me-downs coming my way in the form of furniture, clothes, and toys.

I guess you could say I am starting to enter "nesting" mode, which is brand new for me! I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but it's exciting to think about. When I schedule the meeting here with the social worker, I imagine that will launch me into gear to do more of these things asap. Fingers crossed. What was your nesting experience, and when did it hit you?


Starting the weekend on a positive note...

Quick positive post heading into the weekend... My housemate is out of town until Tuesday so looking forward to having the house to myself for a few days. I might make a yummy brunch tomorrow, do some business stuff and work out in the afternoon, then have a fun evening out at the chorale concert.

Plus, my supervisor brought up adding 2-3 more hours per week to my schedule today starting in December, since I have been so busy lately. Not a lot, but still helpful. She and the office manager know my plans to adopt, which I think is a positive for job security and more hours since we get along well and they seemed excited for me.


Thanksgiving and Money

 I missed my first day of NaBloPoMo posting in November. I didn't meant to. I was in bed late last night looking for a meme that spoke about money and it's role in life, but I got distracted, then so tired I forgot I hadn't posted yet. Ah well. I'm getting back on the horse.

I don't have plans for Thanksgiving. This makes me feel really Lame, with a capital L. I do have some plans for the holiday weekend. My friend and former housemate, K, will be in the East Bay (he lives in Sacramento) with his wife and new baby, and we plan to get together Friday afternoon. I may connect with another single friend, and my housemate may be around. We'll see. Us single ladies can have an awkward time around these holidays, as I've lamented before. It's like you have a feeling about what you "should" be doing but there's no one to do it with; basically, no family to do it for. Especially us single lady introverts who don't have armies of friends jockeying to have us over. I'm not feeling sorry for myself. If I really felt strongly,  I would have made more of an effort to find a place to go or created an "orphans gathering" myself, but I didn't feel like doing that kind of marketing and outreach. I'm doing plenty of marketing and outreach right now for my business!

This Saturday, S invited me to go to dinner and a choral performance to watch one of his co-workers sing in his choral group. We went together last year and had a good time. We had an interesting conversation a couple of days ago, continuing to discuss whether we can be "just friends" and what that would look like, considering he's dating another one of his exes already. I mentioned before that I feel okay about that, mainly because I'm so very clear about us not being right for each other in the long term. But I don't want to be sketchy and enable his less than forthright activities, i.e. seeing who he wants to see, knowing she wouldn't like it but not telling her. I asked him if he felt okay doing this in the context of his relationship, and he said yes. He piqued my interest by saying he wanted to "explain one probably puzzling aspect of our time together." No idea to what he is referring, but I'm curious. This may be the last time we see each other, at least for a while, but I admit to looking forward to it for the fun and conversation.

I want to end by sharing a crazy thing that happened to me today, something that felt like God or fate smiling down on me in a most unexpected and abundant way. So, I'm not proud to admit I overdrew my account and then had some mistakes cause an accumulation of several fees. These included two Am@zon charges for services I didn't order, S forgetting to switch a credit card at the gym, and then a couple auto payments coming through with bad timing. In any case, I called to plead my case about the mistakes a couple of days ago and was treated rudely. It drives me crazy when customer service folks don't treat you like a human being and genuinely listen, but instead robotically recite policies at you, repeating them as if you were a child. In any case, I got really frustrated and posted a negative comment on the bank's FB page. Well, within minutes, I got a comment and a voicemail from someone at the bank asking to talk with me about my concerns. Today, we talked and I felt like I was strolling down the yellow brick road. It was surreal. She was super understanding, listened and empathized, and, in the end reversed ALL the fees I had received, including several from earlier in the year. It was like getting a new client, but I didn't have to do any work. Feeling lots of amazement and gratitude for that one.


Local SMC Adoption Meeting

Lesson learned in tonight's meeting with other SMCs pursuing adoption: talking in detail about goals and plans to strangers makes them seem very real! It's exciting, and I also felt some nerves.

Four of us made it to this inaugural gathering, and I have few other insights to share:

  • SMCs are very diverse and come to be an SMC - adopter in diverse ways. For example, some folks were married, then divorced because he decided he didn't want kids (and don't want to try getting pregnant on their own or feel it's too late), some women were never married and never tried biologically, some tried really hard through all means available to become pregnant and then opened up to adoption.
  • Everyone brought up worries about the issue of the "dedicated room" requirement in the context of the Bay Area housing market, which somehow felt so validating. Each of us are planning for and managing this requirement in different ways. Some were glad to hear that my county adoption agency is a bit more lenient than some and, for one thing, does not require a built-in closet. *The county and many agencies require a dedicated bedroom in the home for the child, either from birth or when they turn 2 years.
  • No way around it, this is an emotional process. One poor woman was clearly stressed and pent-up when she arrived, and it was a little annoying until she started talking and I realized it was because she was holding back tremendous sadness and grief over her divorce and not having a child with her ex. She and I related with regard to both of our exes holding us back from pursuing motherhood and when the relationships ended, both feeling compelled to move forward quickly.
  • We took a moment to recognize two huge positives: one, that single women would not have been accepted or often even allowed to try having a child on their own or adopting on their own a generation or two ago; and two, we are super fortunate living in the Bay Area in terms of normalizing alternative choices and paths and a very progressive overall culture.

Hopefully we will stay in touch and meet again. There is an East Bay SMC Thinkers/Tryers group we might all check out, as well, though I like the idea of having an adoption sub-group, as it has unique considerations and steps.


Me in 2016

NaBloPoMo prompt for today: "What was it like to be you in 2016?"

Let's see... in the first part of the year, it was stressful, lonely, and painful as my relationship with S hit the rocks again.

In early Spring, it was surviving another breakup, my car being totaled, buying a new-to-me car and beginning a housemate search.

Spring/Early Summer, feeling renewed energy and focus on becoming a mom and raising funds towards that end. Experiencing great relief as my bitter, caustic housemate moved out, leaving me on my own in the house for a couple of months. Ahhhh

July and August, finding a fabulous new dog-loving housemate (yay!) and having fun reconnecting at a reunion with high school chums in Oregon. Then, finally experiencing a true sense of belonging, acceptance, and support at work in a new non-profit job.

 Late Summer/Fall, growing weary interviewing for higher-paying part-time positions, learning lessons and continuing to work with clients and build my career counseling business. Wrapping my head around pursuing adoption and completing more paperwork and yet another training. Halloween hoopla with housemate...

November, swept up in NaBloPoMo, expanding my blogroll and developing my writing muscles and discipline. Haven't missed a day yet! Looking forward to the holidays, even though I don't have any plans for Thanksgiving. Envisioning another Oregon Christmas!



I was feeling sort of untethered today... some uneasiness and anxiety and a sense of being "out there" but not really sure why. Often, if these feelings start to come up, I'll try to think of something to do that sounds engaging and pleasurable to connect to something and feel safe and comfortable again.

But today, I consciously chose not to scramble around for an activity right away and hung out with the feelings. There was just this floaty feeling of space and disconnection, and not in a relaxing way... more a feeling of things not being right but not knowing what I should do or where I should go to make it better.

I stood there for a while. I walked around the house. I asked myself, why might I be feeling this way? Two pretty good reasons did come up: the first was an exchange with S about when we would talk in which he wanted to talk Monday, and I wanted to talk today. Very familiar feeling of being pushed away and not wanted, and it's annoying feeling hurt even though we're no longer in a relationship. They call it avoidance in attachment theory, and it's no fun being on the receiving end.

The other reason is that I'm currently financially stretched. Two checks should have come through that haven't yet. I think it's probably normal to feel anxiety in this scenario. I don't like to feel anxiety about things I don't feel I have the control to change, but sometimes one of those things is feeling anxiety. lol 

I did end up working out, taking the dog on a walk, and getting a little bit of work done (while watching a pretty good movie, The Dark Horse). I'm oddly looking forward to Monday and throwing myself into work.


Dreaming of a Personal Assistant

I'm less than inspired tonight on my own, so I'm referencing the NaBloPoMo prompt from November 12th last year... "If you had a personal assistant who would do your most dreaded tasks, which items from your to-do list would you assign out?"

Just thinking about this makes me sooo happy. I have dreamed of a personal assistant for many years now. I am not detail-oriented, and tracking all of the marketing and billing tasks, keeping multiple administrative balls in the air at all times, is definitely not my jam. Here are some items I would jump for joy to delegate to an assistant:

  • Once I choose the theme for my newsletter, sorting through my google alerts for relevant articles and sending them to me as a group.
  • Tracking when social media posts, newsletters, event announcements and reminders should go out and working with me to assure content is ready.
  • Billing clients and following up, as needed.
  • Reminding clients of appointments and tracking when counseling packages are close to being completed, prompting me to talk with them about finishing our work together or signing for another package.
  • Ideally, they would have some financial reporting experience, so that they could help me analyze my financial and client data and make more sound business decisions, as well as plan activities and sales efforts effectively.
  • Making client calls, as needed, to follow-up with a special offer or event invitation, and book consultations and appointments, etc.
  • Assist with event planning: book the space, contact and pay any vendors or speakers, help with staffing and materials, and assist at the actual event.

That was so fun! I know that having a personal assistant would help my business grow, and I work better with catalysts and deadlines and partnership accountability. Some day in the not too distant future, fingers crossed!


The Whole-Brain Child

On the advice of my foster care/adoption class facilitator, I'm currently reading, The Whole-Brain Child, and learning about how parents can help a child, especially those that have experienced trauma or neglect, connect the right side of their brain to the left, and the bottom half to the top.  They do mention that the latter can be especially challenging for kids in general because their frontal cortex' are not fully developed, so parents should try to maintain developmentally appropriate expectations.

The authors share some helpful catch phrases to remember concepts, like "name it (an emotion) to tame it," but there is a lot of scientific information to take in. I won't remember it all, but I can imagine referring back to the book as needed. They give a lot of examples, which help the ideas come to life. I have always intuitively felt the value of telling our life stories, but who knew it played such a powerful role in the brain?

I'll admit that while reading strategies and stories from the book, I've flashed back several times to my own childhood and how my father often handled emotionally fraught situations in the exact opposite way than what they recommend. He was, shall we say, empathically challenged. I wish he had - and was willing to follow - this book!

Luckily, our brains can generate these pathways of connection at any age and heal from negative experiences and trauma.  I've done a lot of healing in my life - interestingly, I can remember telling the story of the night my mom died many times in my life - and can see how further healing might happen as a parent when I handle emotional situations with my child in a more skillful way.

Creative Catalyst

The prompt for today is about whether you commemorate or celebrate a divorce or significant breakup. I don't do that sooo, I'll share that I led a mini-workshop this evening about conquering fears and doubts and creating your dream career. Extremely small, like one person, lol.  I had three but one had a friend pass away and another got stuck at work. 

I'm glad I went through with it, though, because it catalyzed me to synthesize and better articulate some of the guidance and activities I've been sharing with clients over the last year. I have three or four solid tools or processes I recommend for when people get emotionally triggered, when they get stuck in cycles of judgment and negative self-talk, and when they are in conflict with part of themselves or with others. I've learned and collected these tools over many years of my own self and career development and then work with clients. 

I'm excited because I can see this content expanding and solidifying into substantial curriculum for a group program. So, even though I did not gain clients from this workshop, it was super valuable in other ways. 

I'm also happy heading into tomorrow because it's a holiday and I'm going to do some business catch-up and apply for an interesting part-time job close to home, but mostly putter around, walk the dog, read my book, and take it easy. 


Dear Sugar

I'm tired tonight, and kind of numb, like others have said, following the election. I want to take this opportunity to share a radio podcast I've been listening to lately call Dear Sugar Radio. They are really kind and wise people, and I feel my life is enriched by listening; plus I learn from others stories and experiences.  

Basically, they read letters from listeners, around chosen themes of the day -  infidelity, friendship, jealousy, parenting, getting back together with exes, etc. - and respond individually and sort of riffing off each other. They talk about their own lives and also reference literature, which adds another layer.

I'm definitely getting more out of it on my long drives to work then the pop radio stations I was listening to, and am especially appreciating their compassion, love, and hope right now.



What does it mean? So very disappointed in our election outcome. As a woman, I was excited about that ceiling being broken. But beyond that, I'm worried about our country's ship staying afloat, so to speak. I understand his appeal as a celebrity and the desire to shake things up and get things done. But he has so little experience and speaks in such an inflammatory way. If he really believes some of the things he's said, God help us.


I will settle in right here, thanks

I'm continuing to find myself in that place where I'm enjoying my work overall, both at the non-profit and in my business, but the finances are not measuring up. I am usually very resilient after applying for jobs and not getting them, especially when I land an interview, which is a positive affirmation. But I guess I've had just one too many of these experiences in the last two or three months, and I'm feeling vulnerable and reticent to continue applying for these kinds of positions (college counseling). I'd like to just rest for a bit, settle in, and work hard at the two jobs I do have - in my business, especially. Alas, my monthly expenses are currently exceeding my income by an unsustainable level.

I was thinking about what might make this situation work. If I were able to raise my average monthly business income by $500, which would involve maintaining a client load of 12 and bringing on 2-3 new clients each month, this would go a long way. I think my current outreach through meetup and periodic workshops, plus joining a local networking/referral group again (that is already off the ground, this time!) would support this model. I did learn the hard way, as I shared on this blog, that finding clients with whom I work well and am aligned in terms of style and values is crucial. The last thing I want to spend energy on is arguing about business policies or protecting myself from verbal berating.

Also, I think a key aspect of a sustainable business plan is extending the shortest time I will work with people (two months is never enough time, unless the person just wants support applying for jobs, and that's not really my target niche) and, in the new year, prioritizing creating videos and other content offerings of value to add another income stream and/or increase the value of my counseling packages.

Sorry for this dry post, but it's really helpful to write these thoughts out. I'd appreciate any feedback from business-savvy folks or if anyone has ideas. Feel free to take a look at my website... Oh, and happy voting tomorrow, those in the U.S.! Praying hard over here (and studying my voter guide and online resources - though I'm well decided on my Hillary vote).

Not enough time in the day

Today was so super full, I'm barely getting in this day's post before I shut my eyes… Went to the farmer's market this morning with my housemate, met a friend for a beautiful walk by the bay, had a new client consult, wrote two current clients email summaries of their last sessions. Responded to a bunch of other emails… Blah blah blah. 

Oh, and I also ordered a book that was recommended in my foster adoption training and an awesome new pillow, both using my Amazon gift card from the nonprofit staff appreciation retreat. It's so fun to spend free money. 😊


Lessons from Childhood

I'm going to follow our NaBloPoMo FB page leader's suggestion to use last year's November 5th prompt, since they don't post prompts on weekends. This is a deep one! What is the most important lesson you learned as a child, and who taught it to you?

Some lessons I learned as a child and the teacher's who taught them to me:
  • My Dad taught me how to blow my nose. I won't go into the details of that lesson but it's a good one to know! 
  • My step-mom taught me how to blow bubbles with gum. Second nature now, but there are quite a few steps to successful bubble blowing! She also taught me how to put a pillowcase on, "like you're putting on it's pants." lol
  • My friend Tiffany taught me to whistle with two or four fingers when I was in college and we were attending a women's basketball game. Again, requires skill and it's a talent I've used often and been appreciated for (or not) throughout my life. Thanks, Tiffany!
  • My aunt taught me that you don't yell out interesting life lessons you've recently learned in a department store. This lesson came after I proudly shouted, "Uncle Ray has a penis because he's a boy like my Dad!"
  • My Grandma taught me that baking cookies and making crafts are fun, cozy activities that show people you love them; a lesson learned over many creative, loving visits to her house, especially over the holidays. I treasure these memories and will pass on this lesson to my child. I love you, Grandma.
  • My gymnastics coach taught me that you just have to suck it up and work out through the pain, when I used to get "rips" or open blisters on my palm. He taught this with some humor by rubbing his pointer finger on his thumb and, when I asked what he was doing, saying, "It's the world's smallest violin playing My Heart Bleeds Peanut Butter for You. Very funny, coach, very funny.
  • One of the best lessons I learned is to share evening rituals with kids when you tuck them in. My Dad would tell us stories from his childhood (damn good stories, too!), then kiss us goodnight, including eskimo kisses, and say, "I like you and I love you!" before closing the bedroom door. This is one I'd like to continue, but I'm not sure I'll make as good a storyteller as my Dad.

This was fun! Even though I know I cheated telling lots of lessons versus just the most important one. Guess I never learned the lesson, "No cheating." :)


Cool People

We had our staff retreat and appreciation day today and it was great! even though I had a mild headache for much of the afternoon.  We did a super fun art project where we brainstormed all the positive things about the nonprofit then picked one and drew with oil pastels to visually express it.  I really need to do art more often. We also talked about the successes of the organization last year and each shared a little bit about what we do and the program or service we work with. We also did a couple of fun cognitive exercises that got everyone laughing

After the retreat we went out to happy hour at a local restaurant. I had a really interesting and fairly deep conversation with a woman who sometimes assists or fills in for our art instructor. She was a little person. I've watched some of the TV shows with little people and - this is going to sound really stupid- but part of me looks at them as celebrities because of that.  Anyway, I guess I got over that, and we had a really great conversation.

After today, I appreciate the organization all the more. Everyone talks about the people and culture similarly to how I've talked about it. Really kind and generous staff with a heart for helping others. And the community of clients is pretty amazing, too, and inspiring in the way they face the impacts of their brain injury and work to recover, and help each other to recover and feel better.  Oh, and the Board gave us a $50 certificate to Amazon, which was super nice


Care for Each Other's Humanity

Day 3, NaBloPoMo! "If you could be completely honest with no regrets, what would you say and to whom?"

Having gone through a lot of personal growth, including a 12-step program, I don't have a lot of burning emotional issues to express at this point, and I tend to be quite honest. Some would say too honest. I remember in my 20's talking to my Dad (and step-Mom who was my Mom along with my bio Mom - my Dad and step-Mom were always together) about feeling angry and wishing he would have handled my bio Mom's death better when I was a young child. He got rid of all her things and didn't have any of her pictures around. He married my step-Mom a little over a year after my bio Mom's death, and it seemed like he wanted to pretend she never existed. In any case, he said he wasn't going to build a shrine to her, and I said I didn't want a shrine but one picture would have been nice. I eventually got a lot of pictures from my grandparents. I don't regret confronting him with my feelings about that, but if I were to do it now, with two more decades of experience, I would have more compassion and care for him, at the same time asking him questions and sharing my feelings.

In this moment when I think about who I'd like to share some brutal honesty with, it would be a few men I was with sexually (either fooling around or sex) in college and the year or two after, who either took advantage of my being intoxicated or objectified me and treated me as less than a human being. I would like them to be required to listen to myself and other women they had treated badly share their stories and how this self-centered, insensitive bordering on cruel, treatment had made us feel and affected our lives. I didn't expect to share something that heavy, but that's what came up. I know a lot of women have some experiences like I did. I wish we had a better way in our society to guide and prepare young women, and men, to become independent adults and begin having adult relationships with others.



I have to get used to this post a day thing… definitely a shift from once a week or so. Today I want to share briefly about two clients I worked with this afternoon at my nonprofit job. They were both under 30.

I did an in-person intake with the first one, who had a stroke five years ago due to a blood clot. She's recovered remarkably but still has balance issues, tremors, and difficulty speaking clearly and becoming emotionally overwhelmed. I'm really excited for her to get started with our therapeutic program next week. She said she's been feeling really depressed and anxious, being home alone all day while her boyfriend is at work. I think being engaged and doing therapeutic activities in a group will be really good for her.

The second woman isn't really a client, I guess, but she called in for support and resources. The problem is she didn't really have specific requests. She wanted rehabilitation  and support to recover from three brain injuries - two in 2011 and one a couple months ago - but as we talked it became clear she really needed to stabilize with her mental health before anything else. She was speaking in a manic way, without filters and very rapidly. I was gradually able to draw out quite a few details, and ended up sending her information on our programs and recommending she request a referral from her neurologist for a therapist or neuropsychologist.  She said she was moving to the city in about three weeks to live with her cousin, and I gave her the contact information for the UCSF neurology department, which accepts Medi-cal land has a great reputation. It's tough when I'm limited with what referral resources I can share with people, often based on their insurance and income level (though I'm glad to say our agencies programs are sliding scale), but at least I'm becoming more knowledgeable about what IS available and where to guide people.

Feeling lucky to be healthy and stable today,  relatively secure and self-possessed. I'm reminded every day I'm at this job how quickly that can change.


NaBloPoMo 2016: How do I make a bad day better?

I have a lot going on in my life right now, so I thought it would be good timing to take on the NaBloPoMo challenge. Anyone want to join me? Hop on the band wagon and register by November 5th.

I'm thinking some days I will use the writing prompts and other days not... today's is: "When you're having a bad day with your mental health, what do you do to help yourself?"

Today is actually a great example... I'm a Career Counselor, and one of my new clients flipped out on me this afternoon on the phone and really shook me up. I was already feeling anxious and concerned about this client because they had been very closed up and critical in their first session, not giving me much to work with. Then they wrote an email saying they wanted to cancel their session this week and wanted flexibility in scheduling the timing of their sessions going forward.

This isn't my policy and doesn't work for me. I don't think I'm unreasonable. Sessions are scheduled twice a month, and I give an extra month cushion to complete them. I find this beneficial for the client in terms of commitment, continuity, and momentum, and for myself in terms of more predictable business planning and because I offer email coaching, resources, and document review between sessions - a lot of extra time if they just wanted to meet every few weeks. Maybe, to be more clear, I should sell two, three, or four-month counseling packages, versus four, six, and eight-session packages? I have colleagues that do this and am considering it, especially after this experience.

In any case, in explaining these reasons for not just having complete openness and flexibility in when we meet, when I mentioned my own needs being a factor, as well, they flipped into rage on a dime and yelled, "Oh, come ON! That is reDICulous!" I asked them to speak in a calm voice and they kept yelling angrily. Long story short, we got off the phone after I agreed with them that we are likely not a good fit to work together (I do not want to work with them after this experience) and with me offering to trade the last session they were owed for resume review/editing for which we do not have to speak, and asking them to let me know in the next couple of days.

When I got off the phone, my heart was racing, and I felt afraid and kind of sick. It was so out of blue, and I have never experienced this type of intense reaction from a client (at least an adult client). I felt I needed some emotional support, so I went through the options in my head... my siblings were at work and likely not available, my housemate wasn't home, I could have called a couple of friends but hadn't talked to them in a little while so calling for support would feel a bit abrupt. Then, I thought of sharing my feelings and experience with my online FB group, made up of other women bloggers I've known for quite a few years. We were all ttc'ing together and they all have kids now. I hope to join them soon.

My experience of the group is that people are quite responsive. Many of us don't work typical 9-5 schedules and usually at least a few folks are online. Sure enough, within a few minutes, I received a few sympathetic and understanding responses, which felt great, as well as advice. Everyone felt I should just refund them the money for the last session and be done with them. I guess they are probably right, though it doesn't fit my policy and I don't think they "deserve" it. But maybe it's best to cut my losses and move on.

So, that's the way I handled my "bad day with my mental health" today; with help from online friends. On other days, I admit I might lose myself in television or eat some comfort food, but today I had to go meet with another client not long afterwards. Other days, I go work out or play with the dog. Blogging is also actually one of my primary ways of working through difficult emotions and challenges. It's helpful to talk it through, be witnessed, and to hear others' thoughts. I like reading these kind of personal writing/processing blogs, as well. Maybe it's the psychologist in me... and I've always been a more emotional person. I'm an INFP on the Myers-Briggs, if you're familiar with it? NFs tend to be more relationship and feeling-oriented.

Thanks for coming along with me this month! See you tomorrow...