Well I'm still married although this year was a really a rocky start. Being able to volunteer and be engaged in the life I enjoy saved may sanity. I've learned that being too involved in fixing a marriage is not the way to go. It only digs a deeper hole. Choose your battles as they say is like planting a seed and then you must give it time to grow in patience and silence.
As you wait for the seeds to grow you continue doing what you enjoy. Volunteering at the hospital has been the best thing ever for me. After 6 months I missed a few days here and there due to soccer games and practices for my son. I had not realized how much I accomplished until I wrote and email thanking the organizer for this great opportunity. I have copied and paste below. Remember to enjoy your life as a separate entity to your spouse.
"Good morning. I was happy to see the new batch of volunteers who have joined us on the Oncology ward. I had a great time with the children this season. I still have the voice recording of one of the young ladies singing to me, great memories of playing trains for three hours, off and on with one young man, making one infant child laugh with peek a boos, holding the abandoned baby while singing and walking the halls to soothe her, watching a movie with a young boy who was in pain and waiting for his father to arrive from a late shift at work, having a grown up conversation with a young lady who appeared to be way before her time, making bracelets with two sisters, bringing toy cars to a child who was on his way home and getting a big hug from him, playing Uno and watching good sportsmanship from"the Mayor" of our floor who I was lucky enough to meet about 4 times with her wonderful mother, also using my little college Spanish to bring a family to the pizza event where her son left with the coolest give away cap, Cheering from the outside of a quarantine room for each drawing a young boy held up. He laughed each time at my silliness. I forgot to mention the future teacher whose eyes lit up at the journal from the supply cabinet.There are so many more stories.Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity."
Glad to be back and to write a follow up post on my experience volunteering. Sometimes I just laugh out loud and sometimes I cry to myself. I may have taken on too much as I volunteer at three separate places with a full time job, a part time job and juggling the role of good mother and good wife.
The assistant living home for the senior citizens has brought me more joy then expected. I have two male members now with 5 ladies. One male member is a Nature lover, hunter, camper and widow. He loves to tell stories of his beautiful brunette wife. You can tell he was pretty stunning himself in his day. The other gentleman went to Yale University and ran track and was in their famous glee club in rival with Harvard's Glee club. He still stands 6' 9". Well I had the chance to conversate more about all their adventures and had a quick lesson on dance, similar to the hustle/waltz.
At the Hospital I was able to hold an abandoned baby with beautiful red hair. At 8 pm at night asking the nurse where is her mother before I heard the startling truth. So sad I thought. Who would want to give up such a beautiful baby, as I walked her around the ward singing nursery songs to her. As I put her down to sleep her swaddle blanket came off on her arm to discover one of her arms was developed only at the top limb.
Another week I played with a young boy who had cancer and was eager for someone to play with him. I played a good 3 HOURS and he still was not worn out! My shift was finishing and all I could hear is "play this game with me, please just once more". Another week I was serenaded by a young lady who also has cancer. She sang me this beautiful song from one of the Disney movies. She let me record her voice. She really needs to sing on Broadway.
The tutoring center has kept me sharp and on my toes. The questions and analyzing that kids do today should be appreciated they are thinking and making sense of their word through numbers and letters.
I have a little time left with them as the year is drawing to a close. I have definitely changed and grown into a better person. So happy to be able to have met different people from all walks of life. It was time consuming but so worth it. Life really is not about your own little world.
Last post I spoke about getting out of your head and giving or volunteering to support others as a valuable, rewarding and altruistic benefit. Today I went to facilitate my weekly group of 3/4 women, at the assistant living home and enjoyed myself. I laughed and had some intriguing thoughts. First of all how amazing to have such high caliber of people in one room. One member worked for IBM, another for the State Department, another for the former Pan Am Airways, another for the FBI (makes sense for why she is the quietest one : ), another was a Teacher abroad during war times and another who worked in foreign Affairs and Aid Work in India and she is not of Indian Decent.
They make me laugh with their terminology from the past era. Instead of calling each other crazy, they say, "Your mind is lost with the wind". Sometimes they walk in complaining and leave welcoming me back for next time. Sometimes they loose their train of thought using words unrelated to the topic. One member will always leave or "jump ship" once her son comes. Another will contribute with her comments and fall asleep in her wheel chair. One member is the handsome stud and the apple of most female members' eye. Then there is our talkative gal who is very open and we can always count on a fun group.
Each week they surprise me and I feel so blessed to know them. I discover today the talkative member had 4 husbands; two of domestic violence, the third left a suicide note and committed suicide and the forth was a friend of her father who she did not love. The member who worked for the FBI did not disclose this information but it was confirmed by other members. She finally revealed it was true and did disclose that her son who she "jumps ship" for was adopted. As a matter of fact she adopted two children! The handsome member who every one has an eye on was passionately in love with his wife. He tells stories about their courtship and adventures before her death. Very romantic.
The Foreign Affairs and Aid worker spoke of her travels and humanism in how lessons in life come down to one thing. "Everyone wants to be loved" She always has a wise comment. One memorable group is when a female Caucasian member identified how times are so different, as she spoke about her advocacy to have colored people have summer camp like her and her family who lived in a very small town. She was able to have her demand met through harassing the Mayor, at the age of 12 years old. The integrated camp continues today in her town in a southern state. The highlight was talking about how she picked Cotton and realized I have no idea how to pick cotton and the process. Her nomenclature of words were unfamiliar and here I was a woman of color being taught by a group of mostly Caucasian people, what the process was for picking cotton. It was so sobering to me and we all seemed to connect on the thought that in this day an age some progress has been made. I could only be grateful to millions of people who were before me and endured pain for me to be able to say, "I have never picked cotton". That day the group was for me.
I know this is an odd title for a post. In February and a few months before, I was so "in my head" about everything. My problems and finding solutions to those problems, wondering if an who I could speak with, and figuring out some kind of self soothing that would be healthy for me. I basically needed a mental health day or month in order to feel refreshed and hopeful.
So the advice I would give to someone else, as I am a therapist, is to do something you love. So I volunteered. I started at one place which led me to another and another, not really sure which one would "hire" me. Through the process I decided to return to tutoring. Then the Assistant Living Home for older men and women wanted to continue the partnership with my private practice. Currently, I facilitate groups twice a month. All paperwork and vaccinations were a go for working in a children's hospital. So not only am I working but I volunteer at three different locations.
I have to admit it was a juggling act at first, especially in making sure my pre-teens and husband were taken care of. I'm not even sure how long I can continue at this pace. All I know right now and in this moment is I am exhilarated with pure happiness. The experience has put everything in perspective for me and I have moved out of my head, so to speak, and into the "space" and perspective of others. I can't begin to tell you what meaning it has brought to my life and I remembered why I love volunteering. It is the "altruistic rush" from connecting with others.
I will have to continue this as a series of posts. I really can't wait to share stories with you and know that maybe this post has brought you some enlightenment and/or insight into one of many solutions for self healing or self soothing or whatever you want to label it. Connecting with people who are in their 70's and 80's has given me the opportunity to peer into their past and pull something out that has helped them to have a positive spin on their lives and I wondered if the group was meant for me solely : ) I cradled an abandoned baby at the hospital and was overwhelmed with a wave of gratitude in my life and for my kids. Tutoring has been a 6 year dedication off and on. I realize a therapist will always be a therapist no matter the setting. Even there I am able to organically use my skills for counseling kids as second nature when they are shy, not confident or flat out unwilling to try.
I am just marveling at how I came into this situation because 6 months before I was in a pit. Pit is the best way to describe it. I will have to do a series on that one too just for relating purposes. Otherwise I will log on again to update you on the stories and learning life lessons from volunteerism. Chat later and get out of your head and enjoy your life.
It is one thing to start off the new year striving to be better and hoping for a better year than the year past. It is another event when groups of people are hoping for a better new year than the last. But this year it seems the masses are looking forward to 2016, which infers that so many people were looking for a do over because 2015 may have not lived up to expectations. I know for me I am more spurred on when "the collective" has the same goal and hopes as I do. I sense this togetherness that keeps me motivated. Now I have a new home and a new job from the indirect encouragement and examples of others. Mostly my relationship is not bogged down by worries but we have been more free to laugh as a result of hearing other contagiously happy couples. There is something to this collectivist mentality thing. It has its perks.
I was happy to start this blog as I am married myself and know how difficult married life can be. I also know many joys and experiencing a sense of oneness with my spouse. I am a counselor by profession with two Masters degrees and have counseled many couples with much success. I also have two adorable children who make my marriage even richer in love.