Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thrilling Thursday!

Well, my Wordless Wednesday flew by so fast that now it's Thrilling Thursday!  Please accept my apologies and understand that since it's no longer Wednesday, I no longer have to be "wordless."  Above is one of my favorite pics taken at Animal Kingdom.  I took this one while on my Mother/Daughter trip to Disney with my mom a few years ago.  We explored all of these different paths around the Tree of Life that I never had a chance to explore before.  We were in Animal Kingdom for extra magic evening hours and just took our time, soaking in all the ambiance we could.  And out of it came some pretty awesome photos.  Next time you visit Animal Kingdom, see how many different trails or paths you can find around the Tree.  It's so fun to find new perspectives of this beautiful park and landmark.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Who Says?

So tonight's writing may be a bit more therapeutic for me personally, but hopefully there's something of value in it for you as well.  Tonight as I was getting ready for bed, I started thinking about a T-shirt I saw online a little earlier.  It said, "I'm Not Unemployed, I'm A Consultant."  I giggled at first and thought that maybe I needed to invest in one of those.  After all, technically speaking, I am still unemployed.  But the more I thought about it, the more I started thinking about how we define ourselves.

Right after I lost my job, I attended a training and meeting that was already in my schedule (and it was free, and a potential resource for possible jobs).  As we went around the table, everyone introduced themselves and what agency they worked for.  Needless to say, I didn't hear a word because I was too busy figuring out how I was going to introduce myself.  Now that I didn't work for someone, I had no identity.  How crazy is that?!  But how often do we do that to ourselves?  We lock ourselves into a particular identity that really doesn't have anything to do with who we are as people, but who someone else has made us:

I'm Kendall's wife.
I'm Payton's mother.
I'm Rick & Marcia's daughter.
I'm Nikki, Tabitha, & Keren's sister.
I'm with _________ agency.  I'm a therapist, a program supervisor, etc.

Now being identified as one of the above does not bother me in the slightest.  I love being Kendall's wife, Payton's mom, and so on.  But what an unnerving feeling to not know how to introduce myself with a group of my fellow professionals.

And now that I'm starting my own private practice, it hasn't changed a whole lot.  Thankfully, I do have business cards now, and that helps, but you know, it's still not who I am.  It's what I do.  I am allowed to decide what I do, just as I am allowed to determine who I am as a person.
I was once told that I could either make good money in a boring job by "selling" my credentials, or I could do the "Lord's work" while being creative but making some sacrifices.  Someone was trying to put me in a box.   

Guess who doesn't like boxes anymore?  Who says?  Are those my only two options?  I feel like I am doing the Lord's work every day.  With every person I meet.  With every child I serve.  Does it matter where?  And can I make money and be creative?  Who says I can't?  More definitions decided by other people.  Has anyone ever put you in a box?  Told you that you only have one option?  That you can't change your mind and decide to redefine yourself?  Then they must not know that the Lord does in fact allow u-turns.

I don't have to be defined by someone else.  It's not up to others to determine my path in life.  It's up to me.  I'm responsible for my own happiness.  I can choose to dream little or dream big.  In a spiritual sense, I can choose to allow the Lord to work in me, or I can stifle Him.  But it is my choice.  Who says that anything is impossible for me? 

"Nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37
"It's kind of fun to do the impossible."  Walt Disney
Guess what...I'm ready to have a little fun.

Oh, and guess what?  Since originally writing this post, I was offered an amazing career opportunity!  

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Take on the 9/11 Tribute - PTSD

With all of the tributes for 9/11 going on this week, it made me feel like I should do something via the blog to pay my respects as well.  Two things have been coming to mind pretty frequently regarding this historic event.  I remember it so clearly, and it's so hard for me to believe that it has been 10 years since this tragedy took place.  I was getting ready for work when the first plane hit the towers.  All the news coverage commented on it like it was a horrible accident.  Then, as well all watched in horror, the second plane hit the other tower.  At that point, we knew something was not right.  I remember rushing to work to tell the others who might not have heard.  We pulled a little TV into the front area of the office and sat there together watching the news unfold for several hours.  I was just a couple of months pregnant at the time and kept thinking, what am I doing bringing a child into this world?  At that point, we had no idea what our future would hold.

Now, 10 years later, most of us have moved on.  Life kept going and we kept going with it.  But for many of those who were at or near ground zero or the Pentagon, life did not keep going.  It stopped.  For some, I would wager, life as they knew it still has not returned to any semblance of normal.  And some of that may be due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, commonly known as PTSD.  Most think of PTSD when they think of war veterans who are forever changed by their circumstances.  But PTSD can be found in people who've experienced a wide variety of traumatic events, including those who were on hand to experience the attacks on 9/11.  And there have been many more traumatic events throughout this country in the years before and since.  Hurricanes, flooding, massive tornados, earthquakes, violence, and the list goes on and on.  Something we need to understand is that people who are afflicted with PTSD can't just "get over it" like we wish they would.  It takes not just time, but therapy to address the traumatic events, and this can be a long and difficult process.  Individuals dealing with PTSD wish it would go away, and they need our support, encouragement, and patience as they find their way back to "normal," however that is defined for them.  For many, it's just one day at a time. 

We also need to recognize that children are affected by trauma as well, even the very youngest of children.  What often happens is that young children who have been negatively affected by traumatic events tend to display symptoms similar to that of ADHD or oppositional defiant disorder.  And therefore are treated for these disorders, rather than addressing the trauma that they have experienced.  The southern chapter of the Illinois Association for Infant Mental Health, of which I am a member, has been working recently to provide information to flood victims on how that experience may affect their young children and ways to help them deal with their fears of water.  If you would like more information on this, please comment or email me and I'll be happy to share!  Ultimately, whether an adult or child, if someone you love has experienced an event that was traumatic for them and they are having difficulty dealing with it over a long period, or you are seeing dramatic changes in behavior or mood, seek help.
Images from

The second thing that I have been thinking about while reading and watching all of the various 9/11 tributes for those who died relates to the common theme of "Never Forget."  Now while I agree that it is important that those who lost loved ones never forget those lost, and that America should never forget what happened that fateful day, we also cannot live in the past.  The greatest tribute we can give to those who are gone is that we keep on living.  That we live our lives to our greatest potential.  That we continue to strive to make this country even better, even safer.  That we learn from our mistakes and keep growing.  That we pray for one another and for our country.  And, as Walt Disney said in one of his famous quotes, that we "keep moving forward."

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes

Today, while I was visiting with some former co-workers and good friends, the subject of "dreams" came up.  We were talking and my son, Payton, said that he thought I should go back to working there full time (he loves the place).  My good friend said to him, "I would love that, but your mommy has worked very hard to fulfill her dream of becoming a therapist, and I wouldn't want to get in the way of that dream."  They talked for a while about her dreams and his dreams for the future. 

Then tonight, he and I spent some time watching "America's Got Talent" together.  Now mind you, I typically hate these shows, but they were finally in the semi-finals so really all the acts were pretty good.  Watching these people talk about living out their dreams seemed to continue the theme for the day.

So once my guys were in bed and I had a little quiet time to myself, all I could think was, "Am I following my dream? What is my dream?"  At one point in time, it really was to be a therapist, but is it still? 

To me, that beautiful song I used as a title for this post says it all.  A dream is a wish your heart makes.  If something is your "dream" it should come from your heart.  Over time, no matter what has happened or changed in your life, if it is a true dream, it should tug at your heartstrings and make you want it all the more.  Your dream should be your passion.

All too often I think we shape our dreams around something other than our heart's deepest wishes.  It's my dream to do ________, because it will make me a lot of money.  It's my dream to do _________, because it will make my family proud.  It's my dream to become a __________, because then I can take my family around the world.  It's my dream to do ________, because really what else can I do?

Now is making money, making your family proud, or taking your family around the world necessarily a bad thing?  Of course not!  But is that how you choose your dreams?  I hope not.

And do we only get one dream?  Boy I hope not, because if so, I'm in deep trouble!  I remember in elementary school, my dream was to become an astronaut.  I wanted to be a shuttle commander.  I don't know how many times I had watched the movie "Space Camp" during that time frame.  It was all I wanted in the world.  Of course now you know, if you read my cruise report, I get terrible motion sickness.  I also happen to have developed a bit of a fear of heights.  Space is probably not the best place for me!

But I have to say, I have always envied people who have known their dream all their life, pursued it, attained it, and then have been contented with it.  Another friend I visited with today told me that her son, who is in college this year, will probably only go for two years because that's all he needs to do the job he wants to do.  A job, in fact, that he's already doing (to an extent) and that he's always wanted to do.  And he's as happy as he can be.  What I wouldn't give to have that kind of focus. 

Every now and then we are forced to really look at our dreams and decide if that's truly what we want for our lives.  I read an article on the Disney Driven Life website a few nights ago that talked about getting a "kick in the teeth" and it shared this quote from Walt Disney:  “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

After reading that all I could think was how appropriate it is for me.  If you've read my trip report from the beginning, I mentioned that I needed our vacation more than ever due to work and financial related issues.  Bottom line, I lost my job.  I still don't have a 9-5 full time job.  But I have started a private therapy practice.  And I'm working to expand it and provide more specialized services.  But I can't help but wonder if the lesson in all of this is that it's time to not just do a job to pay the bills but it's time to follow my heart and pursue my passion in life, whatever that is?!?!

So as I sit here tonight writing this post, I have some serious soul searching to do.  What is my dream?  Right now, I don't know.  I think I stopped listening to my heart's wishes a while ago.   Not that what I do is not important or not a good plan for me, but if it's not my dream, then I need to find a way to pursue my dreams too.  Do you have a dream?  Are you pursuing it?  What are you passionate about?  Whatever it may be, don't let anything stand in the way of working toward that dream. 

"No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

We're Too Excited To Sleep

When was the last time you experienced child-like enthusiasm?  Do you even remember?  I was thinking about this a few nights ago as I was realizing that I was only 7 days away from the 180 day mark to make dining reservations for my upcoming Disney vacation.  Just the idea that I get to make those reservations makes me smile from ear to ear.  And it's even more exciting because this trip is unique in that I get to be the one to share Disney with my 7 year old nephew for the very first time!  He will never again see Disney for the first time.  And I get the privilege of showing it to him.  Now I will get some help from my son and my mom, who are going with us, but Aunt Mendy is the "Disney expert" and according to my mom, probably the only one who will be able to keep up with Ari once the magic kicks in! 

Of course, just thinking about her comment reminds me of the Disney vacation I took with my mom a few years ago, just the two of us.  There are so many things I treasure about that trip:  surprising her with lunch in Cinderella Castle, showing her Animal Kingdom & Hollywood Studios for the very first time, and crying happy tears together while watching Dream Along With Mickey.  But probably one of my favorite moments came when we had breakfast together at Tusker House.  As the last of the characters passed our table, my mom looked at me and said, "It's like you're a little girl again when you're here."  She recognized the way Disney affects me and brings me back to that child-like enthusiasm. 

If you still aren't certain what that looks like, let me ask you if you remember this particular Walt Disney World vacation commercial:
 Have you ever been too excited to sleep?  I have.  Mainly before Disney vacations!  But there have been other times in my life that I've had that much excitement, so much enthusiasm that sleeping was not an option.

So now I'm about to tackle trip planning and dining reservations with a renewed enthusiasm, knowing that my nephew is depending on me to give him the most magical introduction to Walt Disney World possible.  But my goal is to tackle even more parts of my life with the same type of enthusiasm.  Think of what your life would be like if every task you undertook you approached with that huge smile on your face.  Would your days be more enjoyable?  What would everyone around you think?  How would it affect them?  Child-like enthusiasm is contagious.  It can change the mood of an entire room.  Experiment with it and see how you can change the world around you with a simple change to your attitude.  And think of how much more joyful your life can be when you attack each thing on your to-do list with the excitement that you do your 180 day Disney dining reservations!