Saturday, July 5, 2008

standing on the brink

I went to see Kansas on the riverfront on Tuesday (which was pretty awesome), and these lyrics have been echoing in my head ever since:

Hold on, Baby, Hold on
'Cause it's closer than you think
And you're standing on the brink
Hold on, Baby, Hold on
'Cause there's something on the way
Your tomorrow's not the same as today

People keep saying things like "It'll be here before you know it!" It, of course, meaning my move to Mississippi. And I guess they're right, but the time is going by so slowly right now. I'm having to work day shift at work, and while that does mean getting to do a lot more therapy, it came at the worst possible time, because I have pretty much lost interest in my job. This is partly due to lots of frustration with the inefficiency and inconsistency of the agency, but it has even more to do with the fact that I want to be in Mississippi now. Adding to my excitement about the move is the fact that Alexander is already there, and I'm anxious to get on with this new chapter of the relationship (which I trust will be far superior to the current state of things). Plus, my frustration with work has made me more and more eager to be in the classroom, learning, so that I can be better at what I do, so that I can get a better job than this one.

Basically, I feel anxious and I need to get on with it. It will happen soon, but for now I just have to... well, hold on.

Friday, June 27, 2008

modifier modification

I think I've mentioned that I've been doing a lot of editing for my boyfriend--both of his still-not-finished thesis and of a travel journal he wants to make into a book at some point. I find this work to be very satisfying because it gives me the power to fix grammar errors. However, since becoming an editor in this regard, I've noticed an increase in the intensity of the psychological discomfort I experience when I encounter grammar errors that I cannot fix, which is to say, most of them. I feel especially uneasy when these are errors which will be read by many people, who, I fear, won't even know the difference. My Grammar Errors album on facebook has served as a helpful antidote to this discomfort, but it only works for errors that are big enough to photograph, which excludes those found in books, Christmas newsletters, and online forums. In an effort to alleviate a bit of my current annoyance with misplaced and dangling modifiers, I am going to catalog just a few here.

I'll start with one I ran into 6 months ago but which has stuck with me. Dear friends of mine, in their first Christmas letter as a married couple, wrote the following sentence: "After exactly ten years as a vegetarian, Nathan's first Thanksgiving turkey has Katie eating meat." The modifier here is supposed to be modifying Katie, the (former, apparently) vegetarian, but, grammatically speaking, it is actually modifying the turkey, which is the subject of the sentence. Ergo, if one were to read this sentence the way it is written, one would properly assume that this turkey was a vegetarian (and also at least 10 years old, for that matter.) A correct sentence would have been something like this: "After exactly ten years as a vegetarian, Katie eats meat: namely, Nathan's first Thanksgiving turkey!"

Katie and Nathan should know better, because, well, everyone should know better, but it gets worse. As it turns out, plenty of people who make a living by writing make this same mistake! Take A.J. Jacobs, whose book, The Year of Living Biblically, I am currently reading (and loving, but that's beside the point.) A few pages ago, I read the following pair of sentences: "I spend a half hour tidying the medicine cabinet. I notice that the ingredients in Chlor-Trimeton go all the way from A(acacia) to Z(zein), which, as a former encyclopedia reader, appeals to me. " The former encyclopedia reader, of course, is A.J. himself. It is not zein, nor is it the fact that the ingredients go from A to Z (either could be concluded from the grammatical arrangement of the sentence as it is). The sentence, therefore, should go something more like this: "I notice that the ingredients in Chlor-Trimeton go all the way from A(Acacia) to Z(zein), which appeals to me, a former encyclopedia reader."

Even my beloved Augusten Burroughs has trouble with modifiers. In his most recent book, A Wolf at the Table (which was a little disappointing to me--and not just because of the grammar), he writes the following sentence: "Despite slathering himself with lotion, blood continued to soak through his clothing, making him look stabbed, wounded." This one is actually, in my opinion, worse than the ones I just mentioned, because the object of the modifier is not merely far away from the modifier, but is actually completely absent from the sentence. This modifier, therefore, is "dangling" rather than just "misplaced." The modifer ("despite slathering himself with lotion") is obviously referring to a person (hence the personal pronoun "himself"), but there is no person in the sentence at all. It's a mess. Here's a better version: "Even as my father slathered himself with lotion, his blood continued to soak through his clothing, making him look stabbed, wounded."

Perhaps the most heartbreaking dangling modifier I have seen latley was one I ran into on the etsy forums. When you read it you'll understand why it's heartbreaking. Here it is: "As a former English teacher, yes, that would be a correctly used set of commas in your example." That's right. An English teacher dangling a modifier. It makes me cry a little. Who is this person? Well, that's the thing; we don't know who she is, because she is not the subject of the sentence like she should be. What she meant, I hope, was this: "As a former English teacher, I can tell you that you have used commas correctly in your example." (To her credit, she was right about the commas.)

The moral of the story is this: When you write a sentence with a modifier in it, ask yourself what (or who) you are referring to, and then make sure that this person/place/thing/idea is 1) in the sentence and 2) next to the modifier. In doing so, you will not only communicate more clearly and accurately; you will also make a positive impact on my personal mental health.

Thank you, and have a nice day.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

skate expectations?

I was quite surprised to see the little gold star next to an etsy treasury with the title "skateboarding," but what, after all, is more essential to skateboarding than a sidewalk? Many thanks to thekeepershouse for the feature! Every time I look at this list, I'm reminded of the great Magee and Me movie, "Skate Expectations." Good--if a bit random--memories ensue. :)

what wondrous love is this?

through our sacred wand'ring
our minds were called
to the wondrous love
of a soft but fiery God

Sunday, June 1, 2008

lessons learned (1-5)

In that message from futureme that I just wrote about, my past self asked me if I had learned from the struggles I've had with Graves' disease and the consequences of it. In my post, I wrote that I have. I throw around that idea a lot, referring to the ordeal as a "learning experience" to lots of people I talk to, but it's time to be specific. What exactly have I learned? I haven't tackled this because it's just too much, too vast. I will never be able to articulate all of it; it will never be complete. It can't be clearly quantified, but I nonetheless feel like it's time to compose a list. Here is the first installment.

1. I learned that the stigma associated with mental illness is still around and that it even affects people who know better. Educated people. Insightful and compassionate people. Clinical psychology majors, for goodness sake. I thought I understood that people with mood disorders like depression weren't to blame--that it wasn't their fault, that they needed help and shouldn't be ashamed of getting it. I thought I viewed mental illness the same way I viewed physical illness. I didn't think I judged or looked down on people with depression... but then I became one of them. And I denied it, and I hid from it, and I ran away from it, and I denied it some more, just for good measure. I thought, depression happens, but it can't happen to me! What on earth will people think?! Etc. I know this doesn't sound like a very hopeful or helpful thing to learn, but it is. Understanding my own bias has informed my understanding of this stigma in general, which will make me a better therapist on a few levels. This inside information, complete with messy emotions, will, I hope, help me to know better what I can do to help eliminate stigma, as well as how to relate to clients who are resistant to therapy (or medication) at first. I'll know how hard it was for them to show up and say, "I'm depressed," because I had to do it myself. I'll get it, because I was there once too. I'll be able to say "I understand" and mean it.

2. More generally, I learned what depression feels like. I already knew the DSM criteria, but now I get it. This first-hand understanding will help me to have a level of empathy with depressed people (clients or otherwise) that I wouldn't have had before. A few years ago, I wouldn't have a really hard time processing a statement like, "I can't make myself get out of bed and take a shower." I still have thoughts along the lines of "How can that be?" but I nonetheless know that it can be. Because it was.

3. My diagnosing skills have also been greatly informed by my personal experience. Most notably, I know the importance of a little criterion we like to call "rule out GMC." Practically every diagnosis has this criterion--a message to the diagnositician that if these symptoms you've checked off are the result of a physical illness, then you don't make this mental health diagnosis. The doctor I first went to didn't follow this rule. He wrote me a prescription for antidepressants before he even took my vitals. If the nurse hadn't taken my heart rate and blood pressure (and noticed that "big thing" on my neck," I would've suffered for a lot longer, because a general medical condition was the reason for my symptoms. "Rule out GMC" is usually an afterthought, both in the classroom and in the doctor's office, but it probably saved my life. In therapy, I will never treat someone for depression without strongly encouraging them (because, you know, coercion is kind of frowned upon by APA) to get their thyroid checked. Mark my words.

4. Along the same lines, I've learned a lot about the mind-body relationship, which plays a central role in psychopathology and psychotherapy. The book of Proverbs tells us, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones"(17:22) and "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones" (14:30). Physical health and mental health are inextricably linked. The affect each other bidirectionally. Though I have my hunches, it really is impossible to say which came first (my depression or my thyroid disease) , but the point is that each of them made the other worse. The two couldn't be separated, and they both had to be treated. My understanding of this connection will surely inform my work as a clinician.

5. Obviously, I've learned a lot about the thyroid and Graves' disease itself. This education has enabled me to help people with thyroid disease--to offer advice and information as well as encouragement. Just a few days ago, I got an email from a fellow Graves' patient who stumbled upon my blog. I was thrilled to have an opportunity to be a resource for her--and hopefully a source of hope, too. I hope to have more of these opportunities.

(more to come...)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

willowy wiles

her wondrous and willowy wiles
are elegant yet fragile
like her soul

the sky's the limit

I may not actually be making any money, but etsy gives me the warm fuzzies on a regular basis. :) My "Surreal Silhouette" photo was just featured in a treasury by kgarnerdesigns! It was the first treasury I'd been in for quite a while... and the first since I discovered thumbalizr and therefore started sharing these things. ;) It was quite a delight. :)

On top of that, Robin Lynne of savannahsoapkitchen featured my "Brotherly Sisters" photo in her blog, which is dedicated to her favorite etsy items! Thanks for the etsy love, ladies! :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

time travel

A few days ago, I received a message from my past self via FutureMe, and I must say, it was one of the coolest experiences ever. Here's what I wrote [with one omitted paragraph that I don't feel the need to share]:

Dear FutureMe,

This is past me. It's May 2007, and I am in the process of trying to recover from Graves' disease and the depression that has come along with it. I've just medically withdrawn from school and am about to move back home. I'm scared, and I feel like a failure. I just want to feel better and have everything go back to normal.

I hope that you feel better. I hope you learned something from all this illness and pain. I hope you kept fighting, kept going, kept praying, kept trying, and I hope it came to fruition. I hope you feel like the same passionate, creative, intelligent, loving, vibrant person you were before this illness took over. I hope you understand a little bit of why this happened. I hope you've learned something, gained something. I hope you're better. Stronger.

I hope you're doing something with your life again. You might have gone back to school in the fall of 2007, but I doubt it. Maybe you're getting ready to go back next fall. Maybe you just found out you got in. I hope you're excited. I hope you're refreshed and ready to get back to learning, which you love more than pretty much anything in the world. Or at least you did before Graves' disease. I hope you aren't letting anyone make you feel like you've wasted time, lost time, because of the time you spent at home. It was what you had to do, and you're strong for admitting you had to do it. I hope you aren't looking around at all the people whose lives were more perfect, more on track, more efficient. Screw them. They aren't you. You are still young, and you have plenty of time to get to where you're going. You'll get there, and you'll be awesome.

I hope you've allowed the Lord to work on you. I hope you've let him do big things, and I hope that even if everything isn't ok yet, that you know that it will be. Because it will be the way God planned it. Which is, by definition, amazing.


It's hard to put into words what it felt like to read that. I smiled, and I nodded a lot. Yes, I'm better. Yes, I kept fighting and got through it. Yes, I know that I did what I had to do. Yes, I know I'm not a failure. Yes, I know I'm strong. Yes, I feel like myself again. Yes, I'm doing something with my life again. Yes, I'm going back to school. Yes, I'm excited about learning again. Yes, I am alive...and ok... and happy. Yes, life is good.

"For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "yes" in Christ." (1 Corinthians 1:20)

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

When I went to bed the night I got this message, I dreamed about time travel. Somehow, I ended up in the past, but I was still working at the crisis unit. A lot of our regular clients (frequent fliers, if you will) were there, but they were a lot younger. I wanted to tell them how good they looked, but I couldn't, because they didn't realize I was from the future, so it would make no sense for me to know what they would look like then. This made me very frustrated, and after a little while, I started to feel very uncomfortable about being in the past. I felt a little trapped, a little paralyzed. I needed to get out. I needed to move on.

And that's how I feel in my life right now. I feel anxious about getting out of here. Out of this place, out of this phase of my life. I feel as if my brain is already in Mississippi, and it's making it a little difficult to live in the present, to continue doing the things I have to do here. At this point, I have one thing to say to the future: BRING IT ON. :)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

dare to doubt

'tis truth that I desperately desire
so by faith I shall dare to doubt

Friday, May 23, 2008

orange you glad...

For my third etsy-items feature, I'm using yet another color-themed treasury that should have been on the etsy front page. :) Bright orange is not typically a favorite of mine, but I love this grouping (and it matches the logo!)

Arguably the most unusual item from the list is this clock made out of Tupperware(!) and aptly named, "Leftovers, Again." The creativity of etsians is limitless, it seems--who would have thought to make a clock out of tupperware?! Well, apparently, Eric of IMOTIME. And Tupperware is just the beginning! Eric's shop is full of clocks made of everyday items including but not limited to a lawnmower wheel, a circular saw blade, an exit sign, a frying pan, and a license plate. Fabulous. If you haven't checked out his shop yet, well (sorry, I can't resist), it's about time. :)

Like this clock, many of the most fascinating etsy finds are functional objects made out of other functional (but no longer used) objects. Re-purposed, I believe, is the proper word. I've come across several etsy sellers, for instance, who make journals out of old books, and I can't get enough. I love books and I love journals, so what could be better than a journal made out of a book? One example is this adorable Green Eggs and Ham journal made by Jacob of bookjournals (appropriate name, huh?) Check out his shop for many more--he uses a wide variety of books!

No treasury would be complete without at least one photograph, and I adore this one by Kate (aka chicalookate.) It's humorous and playful, and yet there's a lot of room for thoughtful interpretation of the message. For example, when I first saw it, I thought the detour was to Easy Street, which made the photo seem like a vacation, as in quit whatever you're doing and come take it easy for a while. But then it occurred to me that it could be just the opposite: maybe the sign itself is on Easy Street, but there's a detour ahead. In this case, the photo may be serving as a warning, a wise old sage, speaking from experience when telling us that if everything seems to be going exactly right... things are about to change. Watch out. Who knew a simple road sign could be so full of philosophical possibilities? Not all of chicalookate's photos make my over-analytical head spin quite like this one, but they are all truly lovely. And there are lots of them, so head on over to her shop to explore the rest. :)

Here's a list of the the other fantastic sellers whose orange items appeared in this treasury: hrsmithjones, dazeychic, michellechristina, KimsCustomCaps, KrillaGlass, project8256, LeastLikely2Breed, accesori, annacote. Orange you glad you know about these amazing artists and crafters? ;)

feeling blue

"Blue morning, blue day... won't you see things my way?"

Apparently, the etsy admin don't see things my way, because they did NOT put this blue treasury on the front page, but it's just so darn pretty that I had to share it anyway. :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I once mistook
wonder for genius
fragility for innocence
unexpectedness for chaos

Sunday, May 18, 2008


her secret is that
rouge est the couleur d'infini

Friday, May 16, 2008

melting self-assertion

the melting self-assertion in my head
is overcome by the love of a king

Thursday, May 15, 2008

no mo' endo'

Big weekend last weekend. Celebrated Alexander's graduation (even though the thesis isn't finished) and had my final appointment with my endocrinologist. It was my final time seeing this doctor because I'm moving to Mississippi, but as it turns out, I don't need an endocrinologist anymore at all--I'm just going to get a GP to manage my synthroid when I move. It's kind of exciting somehow. Even though I'll deal with Graves' Disease for the rest of my life, it feels like not having to have a thyroid doctor anymore is some sort of symbol of putting this chapter of my life behind me, and that feels pretty darn good.

I haven't written about Graves' very much for a while, but I do deal with/think about/learn about it all the time, so on this occasion, I'll summarize some of my recent observations.

One of the important things to remember when taking synthroid (the thyroid replacement drug) is that you have to take it on an empty stomach (with water only) and wait about 45 minutes before you eat or drink anything else. Apparently, pretty much everything reacts with this drug, rendering it ineffective. I'm usually pretty careful about waiting my 45 minutes, but a few times I've forgotten to take my pill in time to wait before the appointed/convenient time to eat arrives, and what I've discovered is that failing to wait results in mild chest pain for the rest of the day, which is definitely not fun. I'm really not sure about this, but I do have a theory based on what I know about the thyroid. The thyroid has a lot of control over the heart (hence my once overactive thyroid resulting in really high pulse and blood pressure), so when there is no thyroid (synthroid, in my case) to tell the heart to beat, it has to work a lot harder to keep beating, making it a little bit painful. I'm no anatomy expert, so I could be totally wrong, but it makes sense. In any case, I'm always careful to wait 45 minutes now.

Speaking of synthroid, my doctor actually changed my dosage very slightly, such that I take only half a tablet one day a week (and a whole tablet six days a week.) I have long since given up on my quest to increase my dosage, but I was still a little annoyed that it's being decreased. It's so minute that I can't imagine it making any real difference in how I feel, and it'll be a little difficult to get in the habit of remembering which day only take half, but I guess I can handle it.

The other thing the doctor talked to me about was pregnancy stuff. I will probably forget everything he told me by the time I want to have kids, but maybe if I write it here I'll be more likely to remember. Two things: 1) I have a higher risk of miscarriage than other women, and 2) The moment (that's really what he said) that I find out I'm pregnant (which needs to be early), I must start taking a double dose of synthroid.

Another new thyroid thing I just learned is that there are some foods called "goitrogens" that suppress the function of the thyroid gland by interfering with iodine uptake. These foods include several things that I like to eat, such as strawberries and peanuts. I learned about goitrogens from a great beacon of scientific inquiry called O Magazine, so my knowledge is fairly limited. I'm wondering if this really has any effect on me since my thyroid function can't exactly be suppressed since I don't have a thyroid. Can foods interfere with the function of artificial thyroi d hormones (after the 45 minutes are up, of course)? This I don't know, and I should probably find out.

It's funny--the thyroid is such a tiny little gland, but I still don't think I'll ever know everything there is to know about it. Still, it's fun to keep learning.

laughter through tears

to sweeten the salt
of bitterly bubbling tears
I am splashing in the tide
of delicious laughter

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Czech it out!

It's time for my second treasury-inspired feature of amazing etsy items! A while back, I made this treasury list featuring artistic depictions of one of my favorite cities I've traveled to: Prague, Czech Republic. If you haven't been there, you should go. :)

One of the coolest (and most famous) things about Prague is the Astronomical Clock, a fixture of Old Town Square. Dating back to 1410, the clock shows not only the local time, but the date, the "old Czech time" the current sign of the zodiac, the current positions of the sun and moon, and so on. To boot, there are animated figures of "the four things which are despised" which are Death, Vanity, Greed, and more humorously, the Turkish. And on the hour, all twelve apostles come out and say hello. Hundreds of people gather around in anticipation of the hour, and the show really is quite a sight to behold. The clock itself is truly beautiful, and I only wish I could say that I captured that beauty as well as Roger J. Porter, who took this stunning photograph. I love it! And there's much more beautiful photography in his shop.

This illustration, "Rooftops in Prague," by Nina Clough (aka artquirk), doesn't depict any easily-recognizable landmark, but I think that's part of its charm. Somehow, the artist has clearly portrayed the essence of the city through a simple, seemingly mundane skyline. Something about the color scheme feels distinctively Czech, though I can't quite explain why. Visit artquirk's shop to see many more engaging illustrations (both prints and originals), many of which are similarly inspired by architecture.

See what I mean about the color scheme? This photo by "javax" matches perfectly! This shot of Old Town Square amazes me. It seems to be glowing with such an inner light that it almost seems dreamlike, surreal. I don't know how the artist achieves this mysterious, magical quality, but it seems to be a theme throughout the other travel photos in his shop.

I marvel at the skill of these other artists, but I must admit that I was originally inspired to make the treasury because of the (relative) popularity of my own Prague photos. My "Tyn Church View" has a whopping (for me) 12 hearts (fans)!

And 2 of the 3 prints I've actually sold were of this funny photo, "Brotherly Sisters," which was taken in the apparently oft-photographed Old Town Square.

Here's a list of the other Prague-inspired artists whose items appeared in my treasury: kleno, ANiemanPhotography, webb1417, inkfingerSutter, WilliamDohman, stephanieamos, CagedBirdPrints, FrougesArt, LiberateThroughLight. If you can't up and leave for Central Europe right this moment, just take a journey through their shops. :)

Monday, May 5, 2008

tangled minds

their tangled minds are as bizarre as
Barbie dolls with mouthfuls
of bar-b-que bananas

Sunday, May 4, 2008

my mind, my hands

my mind is my eyes
and my hands are my voice

Saturday, May 3, 2008


When I heard the news, I changed my facebook status to "Sara is getting an M.S. in MS!" Much to my amusement, my friend Krista's immediate thought was that I was currently in McGlothlin-Street Hall (on Emory's campus) contracting Multiple Sclerosis. Not quite. In reality, I was announcing that I'll be getting a Master's degree in Mississippi. And now that I think about it, the real story might not be any less random and unexpected than Krista's fictionalized account. I never, ever thought I would be moving to Mississippi.

Of course, this didn't happen all at once. All winter, I worked on applications to Ph.D. programs. My hopes were high, but I never really felt like it was going to work out. In the back of my mind was the idea that later, I would have to apply to Master's programs as a back-up, but my ego kept persuading me to put it off. Then I got this phone call from my boyfriend who was in Mississippi interviewing for a job he originally didn't think he wanted but was now quite excited about. He was in the car and had just driven by a (not the, we now know) campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. He was frantic, beseeching me to investigate this school immediately and find out if they had a program for me to apply to. I obliged him, and found that they do have a clinical psychology Ph.D. program... but the deadline had passed. They also have a counseling psychology Ph.D. program... but the deadline had passed. The deadline that wasn't passed was for the Master's program in counseling psychology. No. No, no, no. That's not what I want. At first, I didn't even want to consider applying. But I did consider it. And I prayed, and I thought, and I analyzed, and I over-analyzed, and I listened.... and I applied.

Alexander decided he wanted the job, and he got it. My brain was reeling for a long time, trying to figure out what I wanted. I was afraid of being away from him, afraid of losing him, but it was so unlike me to make a major life decision based on a guy. I couldn't even believe I was thinking that way. I didn't want to admit that I was. But I was. And I was ok with that. And that freaked me out. I never said it out loud, but at some point I realized that I want to be with him more than I want a Ph.D. And certainly more than I want a Ph.D. right now. But still, could I possibly turn down an offer to start a Ph.D. program? Even if I did, nobody would approve, and could I really blame them? So I prayed that that wouldn't happen--that there would be no decision to make. I prayed that if God wanted me in Mississippi, He wouldn't let me get in to a Ph.D. program. And much to the understandable chagrin of my parents, I decided not to apply to any other Master's programs. I prayed for discernment, and while I didn't get any audible answers from God, I kept feeling more and more at peace with my desire to go to Mississippi. I went. I interviewed. I loved it. I felt like I was clearly the best candidate. It was a done deal.

Except that I didn't get in. I got an email telling me I was an alternate. I was devastated. And so, so confused. I decided that it had to be because of my withdrawal from school, and I started getting very angry (again) about Graves' disease. Hadn't it already screwed up my life enough? Was I never going to be able to get past it? I didn't get along very well with God for a few days, but I tried to think that things would work out. I got a lot of love and support and prayer, and Dr. Qualls made a phone call for me which I think might have changed everything. Eventually, obviously, I got in. And I'm going! I'm going to live with Missy, a fellow Christian, fellow nerd, fellow grammarian who I bonded with at our interview day. I'll be about 80 miles from Alex, who will be in Ocean Springs, right on the gulf coast. I could not possibly be more excited. It's perfect. Completely perfect. And completely crazy.

I never thought I would get a degree in counseling psychology. I never thought I would move to Mississippi. But here's the thing: I never thought I would get sick and have a part of my body radioactively destroyed; I never thought I would leave school; I never thought I would live with my parents post-college; I never thought I would work at Pathways again; I never thought I would be a youth leader; I never thought I would sell art; I never thought I would fall in love with my friend's brother-in-law.

But here I am.

Paradoxically, it's actually quite comforting to be doing something so unlike what I ever predicted. It is because it's so crazy that I know it's God. It's nothing close to what I ever planned for myself, so it must be His plan. How else could I have ended up here? One of my favorite scriptures for a long time has been Matthew 10:39, in which Jesus says, "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." I've had lots of discussions about what exactly this means, and I think there are a lot of interpretations, all of which are probably valid. I used to think of it as a dichotomy: two sets of people. Finders of life, losers of life. Finders get lost, losers get found. But what I've found, it seems, is that I'm both. Or rather, I was one, and then I became the other. I did try to "find" my life. Though I certainly tried, I really can't say that I was ever able to completely surrender my life to Christ. I said I did, and sometimes I even thought I did, but really, in the back of my head, there were certain expectations I had--things I expected God to include in His plan because I wanted them. I wouldn't (couldn't?) totally "lose" my life, my plan. But then... well, I did lose it. This is where my understanding of the scripture has changed. I always thought this "losing" had to be a willful, purposeful surrender. For some people, of course, it is. Those people are stronger than me. My "loss" of life was something that happened to me, not something I chose. But who's to say that that means it wasn't lost "for Christ's sake," as in the scripture? I'm an imperfect, flawed, tremendously proud person, not righteous enough to hand over my whole life. But God, in his infinite, miraculous grace, took it from me anyway. Because he loves me so very much, he redirected my life, helped me find my life again--my real life, the one I'm meant for.

What a beautiful thing.

But what a long journey it has been to this point where I finally feel like I know at least a little bit of what God is doing. In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers wrote these words:

"God does not tell you what He is doing. He reveals to you Who He is."

I have found that to be so true. Through this whole process, I have felt so clueless as to what would happen, and yet God has shown me so much of his nature. One of the most poignant examples happened while I was in Mississippi for my interview. Late at night after the day of my interview, I was sitting outside our motel room, where I had been talking to Alexander on the phone. Even though I was optimistic about my qualifications, I was feeling very anxious about getting in to USM. We had had a wonderful conversation that only strengthened my desire to be in Mississippi--my desire to be with him. I'm going to sound like one of my borderline clients when I say this, but I was feeling downright desperate. So I started praying right there on the sidewalk. It went something like this: "God, please please please let me get in. I just want to be with him so badly. So badly, God. Do you understand me? That's what I want. Nothing else seems important. It's like I don't care about anything else except being with him. Even if I hated this place and hated this program and hated everyone here, I wouldn't care because I'd get to be with him. I just want to be with him so badly..." I was being illogical and emotional and yes, slightly ridiculous, but it was how I felt, and I kept going and going because I didn't think God understood. I didn't think he knew what this passionate, desperate feeling was like because, you know, he had never been in love. But then a funny thing happened: God laughed at me. Now, he wasn't laughing at my feelings, of course. He was laughing at the idea that I had to keep going on and on explaining things to Him as if he didn't know. I didn't realize this at first, though, and I just paused, confused about the distinctive sense I had that God was chuckling. Once I let my mind get quiet, I'm pretty sure what He said to me was, "Now you know how I feel."

It wasn't any sort of intellectual, theological idea, but it was as if I suddenly understood God's love in a whole new way. God didn't send Christ to die for us because of some sort of corporate love. It wasn't because it was "the right thing to do." It wasn't because God is "good" and he wants "what's best for us." These things are true, of course, but what God seemed to be telling me was that His love is romantic--erotic. Christ died because he wanted to be with us so badly. He was desperate. He was passionate. He was in love.

I am so thankful that he lets us participate in that love, to share it with each other in our measly little human way. After all, 1 John 4:19 tells us that "We love because He first loved us." All the love in my life--and yours--originated with Christ and is rooted in Him. The Lord has never ceased to amaze me. And if I've learned anything, it's that He never will.

black and white and re(a)d all over

Another quick etsy-related post while I try to finish composing a much more important real-life update.

First, I had yet another treasury make it to the front page. One of these days I hope to have a front-page treasury that I actually see while it's on the front page. :)

Even more exciting, I was "featured" on another blog! Donna, aka dzfantasy, was kind enough to do a bit of Q&A with me and post it here. I was very excited to be chosen, and it was really fun to answer her questions. Check it out!

Monday, April 21, 2008

buds and branches

the melding of buds and branches unfurled
like the fusion of heartbeats and souls

Saturday, April 5, 2008

one broken heart

How about a work-related update?

Last time I wrote about work, I said that I was upset about my new job description of only doing phone stuff (and only at the adult unit). I said I was going to hate it, and, well, I do. I hate it a lot. Most days I just try to focus on the task at hand and put Walker House, children, and therapy (and, you know, purpose) out of my mind. This is quite a lofty goal even on my best days, but it became downright impossible one day last week when I received a phone call (because that's what I do) from Theresa, the head honcho at Walker House. She said, "We just wanted to call and let you know that R. O. is here again and she misses you. She was really upset when she found out you wouldn't be here, so we told her we would let you know." It was like a knife to the heart. R.O. is my favorite client (I know I should have favorites...sue me). She was on the unit a few months back for quite a while and we worked fabulously together. She's a tremendously interesting young woman who has been through hell and lived to tell about it. She is beautiful, and loving, and creative, but she is also--how shall I say it?--difficult. She doesn't like to talk about her feelings; she doesn't like to look people in the eye; she doesn't always tell the truth; she's so uncomfortable in her own skin that she has heartbreaking difficulty connecting to other people. For some reason, though, she connected to me, and, obviously, vice versa. Just to be clear, this has nothing to do with me having any sort of superior clinical skills to anyone else's--it's just one of those mysterious and completely nonscientific things about psychology that people connect to certain people and not others. Who knows why. Part of it, I guess, was that I did art therapy (which, by the way, I'm completely unqualified for and totally made up as a went along) and R. is a very artistic person. She gave me this painting from one of our sessions:

It says "one broken heart" because she feels so alone, as if no one understands. I think the rest of the text is pretty poignant too, even though it wasn't what she intended. One broken heart to my friend Sara. When I read that the first time when she gave it to me, it struck me as a perfect poetic embodiment of the therapeutic relationship. Especially the crisis therapeutic relationship, and especially with children. When in crisis, so many clients do view the therapist as the only hope, the savior, the one with the power and the answers. They say, though usually without these words, "Here. Here is my broken heart. Please fix it." And they hand it over.

Of course, therapists aren't magical, and we don't have all the answers or all the power, and we can't fix everything. I know that. But I tried, and this phone call from Theresa would suggest that I did have some sort of positive impact. While encouraging, this idea only made it harder knowing that, all week, while I was answering phones, I could have been with R., listening, understanding, connecting, trying to do a little more healing of her one broken heart.

I'm sure this is some sort of lesson about getting too attached to clients, and I know that's something I'll have to deal with in my career. For the most part, I've been impressed with my ability to leave work at work, but this girl got under my skin. She's the one who gave me her heart, but even though I'm no painter, it seems that I returned the favor.

poem for R.O.

surprised appreciation of
your brilliant imagination
in embarrassed conversation
about such self-preservation
as this

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

up front

Another treasury on the etsy front page. Amazing! I think I have a new calling. ;)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

quivering sunlight

in the summer
quivering sunlight rocks my senses

Thursday, March 27, 2008

etsy karma?

You reap what you sow, said Paul to the Galatians. And so it is in the world of etsy, apparently. Just after my first feature of etsy items (more to come, I promise), someone blogged about my etsy shop! Many thanks to Nicole Catroppo, also know as nicoleleeartistry, for her kindness. Check out her lovely feature (which includes some other fabulous artists and crafters, too) here. You'll find a special offer from my shop and from some others, so don't miss it!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


in the dark
I witnessed the beauty
of a ferocious storm

wind and thunder singing trees to life

Monday, March 17, 2008

in peace

I am in peace
personal and particular

still and calm
but awake

Friday, March 14, 2008

for your amusement...

The big thing in the etsy community, it seems, is using your blog to promote other etsy sellers. I've decided to jump on the bandwagon, but instead of just choosing a seller to "feature," I'm going to highlight a few items from treasuries I've curated, starting with this amusement park-themed one that just expired:

I'm in love with this photograph, "When We Are Old," by one of the most popular photographers on etsy, AliciaBock. I love it when I see older couples who are obviously still in love--so sweet. And I adore the old-fashioned quality of Alicia's photos. Check out her shop for more stunning photography.

I'm also a huge fan of this photo by brand-new etsy seller alternative2love. A dynamic combination: bright colors, Paris, and my personal favorite amusement park ride, the swings! This talented artist hasn't sold anything yet, so head on over to her shop to browse her artwork and vintage clothes, and maybe you'll be the first! (Unless I decide to beat you to it. :))

Finally, here's another tribute to the swings, miltongravy's painting, "The Yoyo." One of the few-and-far-between men of etsy, he fancies himself a "gourmet pigment chef." The soothing color scheme here is delicious indeed. And there's plenty more feasting for the eyes to be done in his beautiful shop!

Other sellers included in the treasury were jennsphotography, prettyvicious, photogypsy320, lbjphotography, gallogirlphotos, ellemoss, stoopidgerl, strangefascination, and galeriedeilluminata. Check them out. I promise you'll be amused, at the very least. :)

(All images are the property of the artists.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

moon whispers

the moon is whispering
softly and silently
but strongly
and with purpose

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

tea/pity party

another cup of caffeine and loneliness

you are addicted to tea and sympathy

Monday, March 10, 2008

NON-buried treasure

Another etsy first. This green treasury I made made it to the front page!! What fun. :)

Saturday, March 8, 2008


Long time no (informative) blog. I wonder what percentage of blog entries start out that way. Why is it that people can't stick with doing something that they only do in the first place because they want to? I guess it's because they get too busy with the things they have to do, like go to work. Which brings me to this awful thing that happened at work this week. First, I suppose I should explain that I have been working at two different crisis units--one for adults and one for kids--and I much prefer the one for kids, which is called Walker House. Things at the adult unit are very chaotic, and part of the reason for that is because we are understaffed and in need of more "paraprofessionals" to answer phones so that the therapists can concentrate on doing therapy and not have to be interrupted by phone calls. There has apparently been a lot of drama regarding this issue, such that something had to be done. And by "something had to be done" I mean that I have to give up everything about my job that I love and only do the 1% that I hate. Every day. For a month at the least. Starting next week, I don't get to go to Walker House anymore at all. I'll only work at the adult unit, and all I'll do is handle the phones--"helpline" calls, mobile crisis "dispatches," etc. No more therapy. It's intensely disappointing. Doing therapy has been so, well, therapeutic for me. I love it so much. For the past few months, being a therapist has felt like the one thing in my life that really makes sense, that really feels right. Not that the rest of my life is "wrong," mind you. I'm in a fantastic relationship, but it's long-distance and therefore not quite as satisfying as it could be (and will be soon enough?) Being a youth leader is, I suppose, the "right" thing to do as well, but I feel about 80% incompetent and approximately 100% ineffective. I'm a far-away girlfriend and a wannabe youth minister, but I've gotten to be an actual, real, live, therapist. But not anymore. I guess I knew all along that it was too good to be true. I knew I was spoiled getting to do therapy with no master's degree and basically no supervision; I just thought I was going to be spoiled for a little longer. :(

I just noticed I've used percentages like 4 times. Weird. Too much reading of technical, scientific things, i.e. boyfriend's thesis? Perhaps.

More later. Apparently, I'm going to have to get back into this blogging thing gradually...


gutters clash with sunsets
as lovers do with theories

Thursday, February 7, 2008

changing everything

"Let him be fifty feet away, let him not even speak to you, let him not even see you, he permeated, he prevailed, he imposed himself. He changed everything."
-Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Twice I've thought I had everything planned out, lined up, orchestrated. Twice everything turned upside-down, rearranged itself, was rudely interrupted. Last time, by Graves' disease, this time, by love, with all its blessed and beautiful inconvenience.