Yes! Reinvention Girl is still here, despite all lack of written evidence to the contrary. My apologies for disappearing of late with only a sporadic blog post here and there. We’ve been a little busy around these parts with our latest adventure. In the last few months I’ve finished up a degree, certification and license to (finally!) become a Mental Health Counselor. It has been a long and winding road, full of detours, but besides musical theater actor, this is the answer I gave for years to that great childhood question, “what do you dream about being when you grow up?” After “Broadway Actor” my answer was always “Child Psychologist”. While the degrees may not match exactly, (it’s actually an MS is Clinical Counseling with a crisis focus) the focus is mostly the same.
Seems, that maybe, just maybe. I’ve grown up.
So, what now? That’s the question I keep getting from well-meaning family, friends and the US Government to whom I owe a significant amount of loaned money.
Well, as usual with this Reinvention Girl, the answer has multiple parts. Nothing is ever simple around these parts.
Part One: More School- I know, you’re wondering how can one person go to this much school. Well all I can say is join the club! That is a popular thing to wonder. Here is all that I know. I am really, really passionate about education actually being the great equalizer that we promise it to be and right now, I do not think, in this country, that it is. So, off I go to study more. This month, I’ll start a program for a PhD in Human Behavior with the goal that I will (discover? create? learn more about?) a program to use in schools that increase cultural awareness and sensitivity among teachers and staff. There is (has been) a movement for some time to teach “character” in our schools. While it is a noble idea, I fear that it may not fully take into consideration the variety of cultures that come into our schools every day. So, how do we train teachers and staff to be open to teaching a multicultural classroom in such a way that ALL kids learn and excel (not just pass) no matter what their native language, skin color, family makeup or their household looks like. The fact that racial bias and cultural sensitivity is so hot in our daily news right now is both terrifying and exhilarating. On one hand, it is easy to get discouraged and think I am no match for these issues, who the heck am I to even take them on. On the other hand, the possibilities for change are endless.
Part Two: Reinvention Family-A Parent Coaching Practice. Yep, we’re branching off around here. Remember when I mentioned all those detours above? Well, it seems no matter how many exit ramps I took off my route to counseling, they always seemed to lead back to children and families. I’ve got a doula certification. I was a health coach who specialized in Drama Free Family Dinners. Before I got a Master’s in Counseling, I earned (and even used for a while) a Master’s in Education. I got certified to teach yoga and mostly use what I know with my kids. I spent two years as a youth minister, creating and implementing religious education programs for families. No matter how may times I change this website to try to be something about fashion or food or travel, I’m always coming back to write about family. Truthfully, I’m never more at home than in any job involving teaching of parents and kids. Finally, in my internship that included children outpatient services and adult partial hospitalization services, the counseling topics time and time again were about parenting. I see a real need in my work as both teacher and counseling intern for parental support in areas both large and small. The truth is, the internet has made the parenting world a lot smaller as far as online “advice”, but the void comes when parents really need guidance or even a nonjudgemental place to work out their own family strategies. In all my years of study and work, I have learned a lot about effective parenting. More importantly, I have honed my skills over the years to be an excellent listener who is able to truly hear what a person wants for themselves (even when they can’t) and then help them get there, in whatever way works specifically for them. I’m not here to preach one magical solution. I am here to listen, and then cheerlead as parents learn to walk the path that’s best for them. I can’t wait to get started with group teaching and one on one coaching for parents. Stay tuned for more details as I set forth on this new adventure.
Part Three: Join a counseling practice- In addition to coaching, I will begin work with a private practice doing mental health counseling as soon as the state grants my license. It is taking every ounce of my Type-A soul to be patient while the state does their red-tape governmental thing in order to grant my license. But I’m sure as soon as I’m up and running I’ll look back and wish I had this free time that I’ve got now. (At least that’s what I keep telling myself every morning to fight the blahs that come from powerlessly waiting.)
Part Four: Be THAT Mom– In the last three years, I have worked full-time and pursued a Master’s Degree full-time. That means I have missed quite a number of soccer games, school assemblies, homework time and many other kid-centered activities. My children have been amazing through the entire thing. I think (hope) they’ll tell you that they haven’t missed me too much. They appear to have thrived right along side me as I’ve had my head down pursuing my own dreams. So, while I refuse to feel guilt, I do kind of miss baking cookies and cheering on soccer sidelines. So, while I wait to begin the next three jobs, I will use my time to attend yoga and spin classes whenever I feel like it, and catch every single game, play and assembly that comes along. I might even bake some cookies on any random day. I’ll be at pickups and drop offs and classroom parties. I plan to overdose on my children in the weeks I have free of school and two jobs. They are the best kind of vice.
So, there you have it. What’s next is quite simply a lot and I anticipate that even these four things won’t be all there is to this story. While some may think I’m the one that needs counseling for taking on a handful of new things at once, I can only say this: I’ve learned who I am and nothing works better for me that working as much as I can. So, student, coach and counselor, not to mention mom; these are the things that dreams are made of. I should know, I’ve been dreaming about them since I was a little girl.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.