Be Gentle on Yourself...and All That Entails

Ho...Ho...Hooooooly Roller Coaster, Batman.  Have I been on a wild ride the last two weeks!!  I have had every extreme in the emotional sense, from the highest of high to the lowest of low, it seems.  Half the lows originated from right within my own self, and for that I am so disappointed.'s a reminder that I need to always be aware and continuing the work of growth and development within my heart and mind. Just because I have the knowledge of a counselor doesn't mean I always remember to personally apply it.  And besides, counselors need some backup, too.  I am only human, after all.

My very appropriate Valentine and birthday gift from my love. 🍷

Anyway, I completely failed last weekend and became a major contributor to a couple of really crummy days around here.  I'm not exactly sure the root of my failure, but I have a few sneaking suspicions.  For one, I have been carrying some heavy stuff in my work (a natural part of the job).  Secondly, I have a tendency to be VERY uncomfortable with change and tradition, and my career switch is pretty big.  Third, I lean toward insecurity and overactive wariness toward...well, everyone and everything.  

It's interesting to me how different I am in my personal life from my professional life.  I mean...I'm not one of those people who puts up a constant facade and pretends to be someone I'm not.  I'm still genuine me.  It's just so much easier to block out my own inner discourse when I am focusing on someone other than myself.  And my job requires a pretty intense shift of focus and, while still emotionally draining, it is a blessing to get out of this overactive mind for a least, to give it a more noble task than constant self berating.

Birthday photo...NAILED IT!

Whew.  And I thought I'd come a long way.  Sometimes, when I look at the big picture, I get overwhelmed to the point of giving up.  It's like having walked a long distance and running right into the foot of a mountain.  I look up, and I can't conjure the strength to even begin the hike.  I have to rest up, take a break, and look down at my feet (rather than ahead) as I put one foot in front of the other.

One thing helps, for sure...having friends along the path.  At the peak of my downfall, I was watching my friend approach my house from her car.  She appeared (not unpleasantly) distracted, and I commented that "her wheels were turning."  She surprised me by sharing some of the same emotions I'd been experiencing over the week, without knowing I had been feeling the same.  I found comfort in her honesty and understanding.

"I get by with a little help from my friends."  🎵  And my kids.  My kids have been pretty super lately, and I am grateful...  "The One Where My Kids Took My Kids to Play Pickle Ball."  You KNOW that's a scenario that touches my heart. 💕

I had a similar experience when I drove to the school the day after my birthday this past week.  I'd spent the entire day before with Matt, celebrating me.  It had been busy, but enjoyable.  So, I couldn't understand why I was so frantically stressed driving to work the next day.  And then I walked into the school and saw the reflection of my feelings on many of the faces surrounding me.  It's a stressful time.  I am not alone.  The proof is on the people around me.  I felt comfort in being part of the norm.

I would love to have pressed on for a direct answer for all my failures.  Winter is hard...but.  But, we've had plenty of sunny days (warm, even) to carry me through.  I've experienced some pretty traumatic situations, but...I've handled them.  And I sure can't blame it on lack of appreciation.

Of course, nothing touches my heart like a couple of snuggling besties.  👦🐕💜💜💜💜💜💜

Last week happened to be School Counselor Week.  I had no idea.  Thank God, a teacher friend gave it away in a text the day before I showed up at the school, because I don't know how I would have handled a surprise like that! 

It's funny the way God works.  I recently borrowed a book by Matthew Kelly called "Resisting Happiness."  It's a simple book with simple answers, but there is sustenance within.  I have been feeling depleted.  I have been lacking joy.  I have allowed RESPONSIBILITY to overtake the childlike wonder.  I chose the book in the hopes that I would gain back some ground.

Kelly happens to be Catholic.  (I am not).  He recommended going to a small service mass, in the middle of the week.  I've been attending my own church virtually for awhile now, and the few times I've been in person have been fulfilling.  I know I don't have time to add a lot of "extra" into my burdens, but my boys happen to have school mass once a week.  And mass just so happens to be on the day I work at the school...and this one fell on a day when Matt worked and couldn't take the boys for me. 

After all, he has his hands full around here.  (Work is the easy part!)


So...a couple of weeks ago, I took my little church notes journal (also recommended by Kelly), and I got ready for work and went in with the boys.  I had no remembrance it was School Counselor Week, until my sister stood at the podium near the end and announced, "One last thing..."

The meek inside my heart gave way, "Oh my GOD, she is going to single me out."

Ha.  Little did I know.  She proceeded to have the entire school (and additional congregation) stand, turn to face me, and they sang, "You are my Sunshine," as I held back my sobs.  I could see through their eyes right down into their hearts, those precious little people meant what they said.  I melted.

I CAN NOT!!! 😭😭💔 Please note...the black heart is from my youngest son.  Of course.

And then, they had decorated my door with a rainbow of words of affirmation.  And they had flooded my office with gifts.  I can GENUINELY and SINCERELY tell you, I have NEVER felt so appreciated in my entire 44 years of life.  Never.

I couldn't even take it all in, it was so overwhelming.  I took in little bits throughout the next several days. Perhaps my following downfall was self-sabotage, because...I wouldn't want to think so highly of myself.  💁 

But, the whole time, I kept thinking how I did not deserve these accolades.  The reward for my work is inherent in itself, every time I see a hurting kid walk away feeling stronger and supported.  I counsel so that no kid ever has to go through the things I have and hurt they way I've hurt, alone.  If nothing else, I will be there.  I know THAT, at least, is better than nothing and no one.

It's not an easy job, of course.  But, I have found I have had the help I need exactly when I need it.  *Just a little shoutout to Matt for scooping a little extra snow so I could see a client during the 2.17.22 blizzard.  😍

I counsel because it is my mission from God.  It is the fruit of every tragedy I have ever survived and every desert I've navigated...I have the privilege to make someone else's journey a little bit easier.  There is eternal reward in my work.  

However, I do NOT deserve any special recognition, because any success I have in service is directly from the hand of God.  I am flawed.  I mess things up.  Yet, He makes me competent.

Regardless, I am grateful for all the kindness.  Each note, all the words, and every gift is a reminder that I am loved, and I need to love myself, despite the flaws.  The grace I give myself, I multiply to those around me.

In the words of Kelly, "Be gentle with yourself...It doesn't mean be soft with yourself, and it doesn't mean be undisciplined.  Being gentle with yourself consists of realizing your faults, failings and weaknesses, and dealing with them appropriately.  God doesn't want us to beat ourselves up.  He wants us to press on and try again."

At least be as gentle on yourself as Jesse is on himself.  😆   This is his new blanket Mommy made him, and he LOVES to snuggle under it...after I have spent an entire day trying to wear out a portion of this obnoxious energy monger.

It's the same thing I am always trying to tell my students and my clients. I have to live and model it.  Not an easy thing to do...

However, even when the accolades don't come rolling in..."Yet, I am not alone, for my Father is with me." John 16:33

I take these things as comfort and I cherish them in my heart, as I move on from my misgivings, leaving my disappointment and failure behind, and step onto the road by which He calls me.  

Thank you for supporting me along the way!!  💕

As my niece recalls me saying...Your Homie

My comedian and my author.  Best friends!  💕