Sometimes I struggle as a counselor…

Sometimes  I struggle as a counselor…

I’ve been doing this work for over ten years now, and sometimes I struggle. I struggle because we live in an increasingly clinical world and I see therapy as both dance and art… as well as clinical wisdom. I struggle because I believe that a diagnosis may open a window into a client but will never tell the whole story of them.

There’s a checkoff on one of my online record keeping forms that I am to check if I think this treatment is medically necessary. And I never know what to do with that, because isn’t all my work medically necessary? As people heal old wounds or stop beating themselves up or punishing themselves or trying to make the entire world happy, their bodies are able to let go of heavy and powerful burdens. As we get healthier emotionally we tend to get healthier physically. But I’m not sure I can whip out an evidence based study to prove it. I just know it in my soul from all of the people whose journeys I’ve been privileged to share.

Some days my work is in asking the right questions. Some days it’s simply sitting and listening and really hearing the stories they’ve been too afraid or too ashamed to tell anywhere else. Some days I reassure clients that they are not crazy or hopeless, they are simply in the midst of the grand rhythm of life, a rhythm that brings birth but also loss, and that loss can take a thousand forms, from the husband you lost to the childhood you never got to have. I remind them what their bones know, that grief is not a thing to be done but a journey to be lived, and there is no going back to the place where we used to live.

A little while ago I just read a powerful blog about the journey of grief; or, more accurately, one woman’s journey of grief, and all of the misunderstanding she faced from those who thought they had the right clinical box to put her in.

It is a deep and powerful story and I cannot commend it to you enough.

You can read it here

“But, when a child dies, even “good therapy” doesn’t cure or fix. Good therapy is merely joining the sufferer in their pain, non judgmentally with full acceptance and compassion.” Bereavement and snorting seaweed, by Dr. Joanne Cacciatore

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Lessons from landscaping

Lessons from landscaping

by Peggy Haymes

First things first: this post has nothing to do with pot, marijuana, mary jane or funny cigarettes. Nope, I’m talking about the regular fescue.

I’ve been in my house for nearly nine years now. Every single year has been a battle to grow grass. The backyard was the first casualty. Between lots of shade cover and a new dog, the grass the previous owner/flipper had hurriedly cultivated didn’t stand a chance.

My natural area in the front started spreading slowly. I have two sections to my front yard – the top years directly in front of my house and the sloping bank. Originally the edge of my bank was grass covered. Since the bank was steep and I could only mow it by running down the hill with the lawn mower (note: I DO NOT recommend this) I extended the natural area on the bank. Up top I have more trees than sun and I’ve gradually been giving up the fight.

This year I took the plunge. It doesn’t look like much now but I’m converting it all to natural landscaping and garden. I’ve taken advantage of the one sunny spot to plant flowers and an herb garden.

You see, in order for me to have grass I’d have to lime the soil, seed, fertilize, water… and then mow. It didn’t seem to be the most environmentally responsible thing to do. Plus, in the last three autumns I’ve had shoulder issues from wrestling my mower over what remained of my bank. I’m glad to give it up.

I finally decided that grass just wasn’t meant to grow in this yard. Instead of fighting my landscaping, why not work with it? Instead of trying to make it into something that it’s not, why not nurture its strengths into beauty?

As I thought about the process I realized that perhaps I’d stumbled on a truth that was true for more than just my landscaping. We tie ourselves into knots trying to fit into someone else’s expectation of who and what we should be. We kill ourselves pursuing a dream that’s not even our dream. We try to be the green expanse of fescue when our soil is really shade trees and ground cover, flowers and herb gardens.

Do you need to let go of some grass?