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Tamiflu - 3/5 of our family is on it right now...

The flu has hit our family hard this year…probably our fault because we didn’t get flu shots. :/ Anyway, most of us are on Tamiflu. Somehow I seem to be the only one who hasn’t gotten sick. Fingers crossed, folks – I can’t afford to get sick!

Do you ever have moments when it seems like nothing you do is good enough, or right? I’m kind of stuck in one of those periods now…it seems like everything is blah and gray, that nothing good is happening, and that nothing will ever change. On one level, I know this isn’t true, but on the emotional side it sure feels that way.

Take teaching my class for example…I started off out the gate slow – I lectured (god forbid), and then made the mistake of lecturing again. If you’d asked me after my second class period about how the class was going, I would have told you, “awful.” Things have improved some – I’m bringing in discussion and we did a movie today along with some lecture on APA format. The hard thing is, I still feel like I’m an imposter and that I completely, totally suck at this. I know it’s been a while since I’ve been teaching, but I honestly don’t ever remember feeling this unsure of myself in the classroom. Still, I’m muddling through. We did “early alert” evaluations for new faculty today – I’m scared spitless about how they’re going to come out, and whether or not I’ll have a job next semester. Am I catastrophizing? Probably – but it’s also where I’m at emotionally here.

My work on the private practice is another area of angst – I feel like I’m spinning my wheels and that I’m trying to ride with one wheel missing – I don’t have an “advertising budget” and I’m working the resources I have as much as I can, but still – nothing is happening and it’s very frustrating. No clients, no group…nothing. I keep wondering if I’m just not meant to succeed…but then I think, “Dang it girl – hard work and keeping this going is what will pay off!” So…I keep on keepin’ on here. I call people, I send out flyers, I leave messages on voicemail, and I keep praying and hoping something will happen. In my dreams, the phone rings and I get a therapist on the other end saying, “Hey, is your group still open? I have three people I’d like to refer to you…” Ok, I admit it probably won’t happen like that. The bottom line is that I have to “do my homework” to make this work…and realize that it WILL take time. Great on the “brain” level, but still hard on the “heart” level – emotionally I feel like I’m a failure again.

And then there’s finances…oh heck…I’m worried if I’m going to be able to pay my bills, given that nothing is happening with the practice and that my teaching job pays very little. It’s a good thing I generally love what I do in the classroom – I’m certainly not doing it for the wonderful paycheck. I think that’s what has been hardest for me with the teaching – I LOVE teaching psychology, and I’m very frustrated that I don’t seem to be communicating that or the material very well. Instead, I feel pressured, anxious, and incompetent. And I’m NOT used to feeling that way in my classroom!

So where do I go from here? I really don’t know. I’m frustrated, feeling down, and more than a little nervous about the student evaluations and upcoming faculty evaluation. I’m scared about what’s not happening with my practice and am wondering if I can make it work. I’m overwhelmed about the finances as a result, and feel like if I think too much about it, my head will explode. I just hope it gets better – that I find my footing again in the classroom, and that something “clicks” with the practice end of things. If not, that I can find work that will help me pay my bills – no small undertaking in this economy. As you can see, I’m great at judging myself – so one of the things I’m trying to do is be gentle with myself and not judge myself so harshly. Chances are, I’m judging myself much harder than anyone else is. So…I try to be nicer to myself and keep on keepin’ on. I keep hoping, praying, and working to see if I can make any of this happen.

So here I am, on a Sunday afternoon, feeling a lot like there isn’t a whole lot of hope for the future right now. I’m still generally optimistic about my private practice and about teaching, but I’m having a hard time feeling motivated at the moment.

Now to be fair, this is coming after a morning in the church nursery with a bunch of rowdy preschoolers and toddlers – it’s like herding wet cats back into the bathtub. I also only got 4 hours of sleep, and those were interrupted by disturbing dreams. So, I’m legitimately tired.

However, some of the exhaustion is emotional too. Starting a private practice takes a lot of work and energy, and starting any business is a slow process. I know I need to be patient AND I want it NOW. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t do too well with ambiguity, although I’m trying. (And yes, the old saying about what comes into your life is what you need to work on very much applies here!) So, I feel like I’m spinning my wheels and not getting very far.

I’m also feeling very pressured about getting my class(es) ready for fall – I’ll be teaching at the local community colleges and one class is a brand new prep – I’ve never taught it before. It’s Developmental Psychology, and is cool stuff – but pulling together a brand new course in a little over a month is a LOT of work.

I’ve written on my professional blog about feeling emotionally paralyzed – when I feel overwhelmed, that’s what happens to me. And right now, I feel paralyzed out of my mind. I try to follow my own advice, though, and even though I’m not feeling super-confident at the moment, I’m pretty sure I’ll be feeling better in a few days. The hard thing is right now, when I’m feeling this way, I tend to get down on myself – I tend to think of all the things I’m doing wrong, or think of the “if only’s” and “what might have beens.” I feel like I can’t do anything right, or that I’ll never succeed. This isn’t true, but emotions can be a web that catches you – and sometimes it’s hard to break free. Getting judgmental of anyone – even ourselves – isn’t a helpful thing.

“Tenebrous Ennui” basically means a dark, gloomy sense of a utter weariness and discontent resulting from lack of interest or boredom. In my case, it’s not really lack of interest or boredom, but more withdrawing and avoiding. (So maybe “ennui” isn’t the best term, but the whole thing, “tenebrous ennui” sounds pretty cool.) Anway, feeling overwhelmed and gloomy is the order of the day. I know this isn’t the case, but right now my life feels empty and barren – and I know that it comes from being overwhelmed with TOO much. Life is anything BUT empty and barren.

So where do I go? I ask myself the same thing I ask my clients…”What do YOU think?” My sense is that I need to counteract the sense of fear that underlies the feeling of being overwhelmed. To do that…well, I need to take my own advice and “move” and “do one thing.”

So, for the class…I could work on putting together the schedule. For the private practice…I can finish the application I’ve got for the local community mental health agency I contacted. (Having an interview tomorrow provides some motivation – stressful, but motivation all the same.) I also need to remind myself that my situation isn’t ME – it affects me, but doesn’t define me. I exist outside these stresses, and I can still enjoy things and take care of myself. I don’t have to be judgmental and punishing with myself – in fact, it’s way better if I’m not. This is something that takes a LOT of reminding for me, though!

I have a feeling that once I’m back in the thick of it and don’t have time to ruminate and overanalyze things, I’ll be ok. Meanwhile, I don’t want to marinate in my own gloomy sauce – so I’m going to go DO something. Even if it’s only ONE thing – it’s something.

I don’t know about you all, but to me the idea of a “retreat” sounds pretty wonderful right now. (A Caribbean vacation does, too – but hey, I’m trying to think realistically!). A friend of mine in Connecticut, Corinne “CoCo” Melvin is hosting a women’s retreat with the theme “Realize, Release, and ReFire” in Westport, CT. (Not to mention that face that being in CT in and of itself is a retreat for me!)

I admit it – I’m jealous! Frankly, I would love to ease back, and enjoy a retreat…I’d have hot teas (herbal, decaf, and regular), and yummy foods: fruit, cheese,crackers – and of course, chocolate! Soft relaxation music playing… I envision a group of about 20-30 women, interested in empowering themselves, living fully, and realizing the power of each other by learning about themselves and each other over the course of a day…a place where we can come together, and know that we’re not alone in all this. We are not alone – powerful words, again.

I’d have journaling workshops with all kind of creative materials, a stretching or yoga class, a meditation class, or creative visualization. I’d do a session on developing and writing your own personal myth – YOUR story, and where you want it to go, as well as do something where people could develop and create a personal symbol for them – to symbolize their growth, their self-love, and their connection to what’s important to them. I would hope to find something where people could connect with their dreams, and the person who gets lost in the day-to-day hassles of everyday living – and be able to take home that symbol as a reminder that this person is STILL there.

I would love to finish the day with a meal – literally, break bread with each other, and end with a releasing and celebration service or ritual, in the outside world…a park or yard, some outside space whereever we’d be.

As women, we often have the sense that we have to go it alone, that we have to be perfect and never show any weaknesses. We feel so isolated, even around people, because it’s so hard to let our authentic selves out. We feel vulnerable, judged, possibly rejected because we may or may not fit in, or we may not fit what we thing others want us to be. We are so alone, and lonely sometimes…I would love to have this retreat as a way to connect with each other, to say “you’re NOT alone” and “I understand”…”WE understand.” “You really CAN be who you are here, it’s ok.”

Anyway, that’s my dream retreat. I hope someday soon, I can make it happen. Until then…I’m dreaming, too – and working to make that dream a reality.

This is cross-posted from my other blog, “The Other Side of the Couch” where I discuss more psychological and professional issues.

Do you ever have times when it feels like the world is crashing down, and everybody wants everything – not just now, but yesterday-than-you-very-much? Sigh…it’s been one of those days for me. I feel like I’m spinning my wheels with trying to find work -and setting up a private practice feels like starting to climb Mt. Everest. There’s not just the therapy/psychology stuff to tie up (application for licensure, getting supervision, finding office space…) but also the business aspects, like registering a business in Colorado, figuring out what taxes and how much I’m going to have to pay, finding all the right forms, dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s. And the big thing, of course, is the money.

I’m like a lot of you – I have a lot of student loans and a credit card. My credit card, I will take full and total responsibility for – after all I decided to use it and I need to be the one to pay it. It’s that simple. My student loans…well, I wouldn’t have gotten through school without them, and I WANT to pay them off. I’m making payments now – barely – with my job as a nursery supervisor in our church. BUT – the money to start my practice has to come from somewhere, right?

I feel like I can’t apply for a loan – how am I going to say I’m going to pay it, when I’m not even sure I’m going to get clients? How do I advertise my services (groups, couples, individuals, personality disorders, DBT, etc) without spending some money somewhere on promotional materials? It feels like a catch-22, and I feel so discouraged.

If you ever looked at my professional blog, you know I advocate strongly for coping tools. So…I’m practicing what I preach. I’m telling myself that I don’t have to do it all at once, that I can get help if I need it, and somehow it will work out. I’m writing (something that helps me), journaling and soothing myself (hot cup of tea, anyone? I made a MEAN coconut chai…) I’m planning, too – I’ve got a notebook and am keeping track of everything I’ve done, people I’ve contacted, promotional ideas, and initial/start-up expenses.

In all actuality, my start-up costs are going to be pretty low for a new business – about $3000. I COULD finance that on another credit card, but I figure I”m worried enough about making payments on the one I have and on my student loans. I guess that getting a loan isn’t much different, though – I’d be making a monthly payment no matter what, right? So…I think the hardest part is getting over the fear.

And funny I should be facing this yet again…One of my favorite self-help books is called, “Feel the fear and do it anyway” (Susan Jeffers – AWESOME book). The fear is really what’s overwhelming, when I get down to it. Everything else is details, and are things I can take care of…it’s that fear – the fear of failing, of having to declare bankruptcy, of having my credit ruined (my ex-hubby did that for me before and I NEVER want to go through that again) – there are any number of things to be afraid of.

So if I were working with a client, what would I say? Probably pick one baby step, and do it. Just do it, and then deal with the fear. I’d remind myself that I really don’t have to do it all at once, and that baby steps are fine. I’d probably have myself list the tasks and then prioritize them a couple of ways -in order of easiest to accomplish, most pressing, etc. And, me being me, I’d have myself keep a record of what I did, how I felt and what I thought while doing it, and how I felt/thought after it was over. Yeah, folks, I really use this stuff myself, too 🙂

So…I guess with these things in mind, here I go…wish me well 🙂

This is also posted on “The Other Side of the Couch,” my more professionally oriented blog.

What is “The Power of Each Other”? The power of each other is supporting one another, in tragedy and joy. The power of each other is spreading kindness, especially in a world torn by strife, polarizations, and war. It’s sharing and caring with and for each other. It’s the creative urge we all have, and the urge to reach our highest goals and be the best we can be – individually AND together. The power of each other is not letting issues, politics, religions, social status, or anything else that points out differences divide us from our common goal: creating peace and unity. The power of each other is within us, around us, and flows through us – we ARE the power of each other.

We are all in this together, and I’d like to invite you to share the poems, quotes, stories, songs, photos/pictures and humor that inspire you. Life is hard enough, especially in these tough economic times – let’s share with each otherwhat helps us. What’s going on in YOUR community? What groups exist to help each other, lift spirits, and inspire hope? What are you doing, or what do you know others are doing?

For me, I’ve posted the “Healing Prayer” from the Terma Collective: https://lauraburlingame.wordpress.com/2009/05/24/a-healing-prayer-from-the-terma-collective/ and I can post some other resources as well (for example, Google Steve Goodier and LifeSupport – a great inspirational resource).

Let’s hear from and support each other – I’ll post the resources you send me, along with your contact information if you want. Tell me what inspires you, what lifts you up, what helps YOU cope and feel better.

Let’s spread the word – get everyone you can to participate! Let’s start a “feel better” revolution and see where it takes us. I believe in the power of each other – let’s believe in each other and lift our spirits by combining our gifts and knowledge.

Take care and believe – We can do it!

Peace and Unity - Design and Image copyright 2009, Laura Burlingame-Lee

Peace and Unity - Design and Image copyright 2009, Laura Burlingame-Lee

Today, I went for a walk. That might not seem like a big deal, but for me it was a change, and I’d like to share its importance with you. I moved, and that IS a big deal. I’ll explain why it’s a big deal in just a bit, so bear with me while I give you some background first.

I haven’t written in a long time, mainly because I’ve been coping with tough times of my own. As with many of you, I’ve having difficulty with employment, the economy, and finances. I’ve been looking for positions as a staff psychologist (under supervision, since I just got my degree and still have to work toward licensure), and have not been having much luck. I’m finding – as I’m sure many of you are as well – that not having a lot of  experience is a pretty strong liability in this economy. In my case, employers are looking for post-degree professional experience, and licensure.

So, I’ve been applying for positions, and waiting to hear from potential employers for about 6 months now. This has been hard for me, because I’m not usually the kind of person who sits and waits, which brings me to the purpose of this post and the next few to follow. I’m finding that if I simply sit and wait, I become depressed, anxious and frustrated – and I’m generally not a pleasant person to be around when I’m feeling this way.

So, I decided to change the way I’m looking at my situation and living my life. Here’s where coping with tough times and moving comes in. There are things I can’t control, like the economy, and the fact that many of the places where I’d love to work want psychologists who already have their licenses plus experience. There are a multitude of things I can’t control, and if I focus on them, then it’s an easy slide down to feeling depressed and anxious.

However, I CAN control myself and how I choose to react to this situation. After talking to people and experiencing unemployment myself, I know that it’s very easy to slip into feeling helpless, hopeless, and paralyzed about the future. There IS something I can do though. I can move. I can move my body, my mind, my feelings and my thoughts.

Ok, I can hear some people groaning, “Oh no…another Little Miss Sunshine who thinks that if I think good thoughts, everything good will happen to me.” So… hang in here with me. I’m NOT going to promise that if you change your thoughts you will automatically attract good things. What I AM telling you is that if you work to change the way you’re thinking, feeling and being now, you may start to feel better.

What I’m suggesting is that you move – even if it’s just getting out bed to face the day. Moving can be as simple as reframing your thoughts from “I’m never going to get a job” to “Things are tough right now. I’m doing the best I can.” Moving can be, “OK…I’m feeling pretty crummy right now and I have no money. What CAN I do to help myself feel better?” and coming up with ideas. Moving can be noticing the very little, simple things that make life worth living. For me, this is the smiles on my children’s faces and hearing their laughter. It’s feeling the sunshine on my face and noticing the colors and fragrances of the spring flowers. For others, it might be the smell of a freshly-brewed cup of coffee, or the feel of your favorite blanket wrapped around you. The point is, moving – no matter how or how much – is a change that may help you start to feel better. And that’s why my walk today was so important – I moved.

I moved my body, and while moving my body, I moved my mind. Moving my mind (thinking) helped me move my feelings. During my walk, I thought about what I have to offer – what are my skills and talents?. I thought about how to share what I know with others who might be feeling the same thing. And I felt better about myself, in spite of my job situation. In short, moving helped.

SARK has on her website (www.planetsark.com) some worksheets that come from her book “Make Your Creative Dreams Real” involving what she calls “microMOVEments.” These involve taking baby steps toward creating and realizing a dream that you have. Whether you call them baby steps, micromovements, tiny leaps of faith – it’s still movement.

The world isn’t going to change because you move, but YOU may start to  change because you move. Honestly, this post – and the idea of coping with tough times – came out of my desire to feel better. I am “moving” by writing and sharing my knowledge with you. I can’t change the world, but I can offer my skills and gifts as a way to help me feel better and to hopefully make a difference for others who feel like I’ve been feeling.

I’m going to continue to write on ways to cope in tough times. If you have suggestions on topics you’d like to see, please get in touch with me : theothersideofthecouch@live.com . I’m always interested in feedback and ideas – my idea for next week is to write about coping skills and self-soothing, but I’m willing to be flexible based on what you’d like to see. Let me know, and move with hope in your heart and life in your soul!

Reflections of Reflections…

Other Facets of the Mirror