Three Kinds of People

We were driving in the car, listening to the radio.

I’m driving my Dad’s car while we’re home, and so I’m not familiar with it.  Plus, I’m a bad driver.  Let’s just say I was distracted at best.

The DJ was saying, “There are three kinds of people in this world-”

I listened in as I was waiting to turn left.

“- people who complete tasks–”

And then there was an opening and I started to turn.  The radio cut out as we moved.

“Oh!  I wanted to hear the rest of that!” I screamed.

Brian looked at me.  He kinda laughed.  “Haha, very funny.”

I looked at him.  “What?  The radio cut out and I wanted to hear it.”

He paused.  “…it was a joke.  He did finish it.”

“What?  But he said there were three kinds of people!”

“Yup.  He did.”

“…the radio didn’t cut out, did it?”

Now that I type this, I think this is one of those things where you just had to be there, because we laughed so hard that I was crying and nearly had to pull over.

Clearly I am the type of person who likes to have tasks finished.  And I guess I’ll never know who the other two types are.


Label Day

Today is Label Day!


Here are the labels I’ve chosen for myself: Feminist Mama.

I feel like these labels have chosen me, really.

Feminism has gotten a bad rap.  Although, now that I think about it, there has always been (and most likely will always be) backlash against feminism…because if not, then there was no need for the label in the first place.  The definition of feminism is simple: the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.  That makes me a feminist.  In the words of Maya Angelou – “I’m a feminist. I’ve been a female for a long time now. It’d be stupid not to be on my own side.”  So there you have it.

Mama.  I’ve wanted to be one for as long as I can remember.  And then ovarian cancer made it so I might not be able to be (a biological) one.  I wish I could have known ahead of time that all that worrying about infertility was fruitless (excuse the pun), but such is life.  I am so, so grateful to be able to raise my sweet boy.  He brings the joy (and farts) into my world.

So those are my chosen labels.

Tell me, what are yours?


nanopoblano2015lightNaBloPoMo Day 21

Don’t Be So Scared

I wrote the following post as a guest post on another person’s blog a few years ago, and I liked it so much that I am reposting it here as a way of reclaiming it, and to see how far I’ve come.

That, and I am way too busy packing for our trip to California for Thanksgiving, so I am phoning it in today.

It’s weird reading it now, because I am not working at the moment, and now I’m a mom.  But one thing hasn’t changed – imposter syndrome still creeps up…just for different reasons.



It was the fall of 2007.  I lived in Boston, was halfway through my master’s degree and I had just started my internship seeing therapy clients for the first time.

I felt like the biggest fraud in the world.

You know when you’re about six years old and you put on mom’s heels and pearls and lipstick and then go prancing about the house, hoping you don’t trip and fall and give yourself away?  That’s about how I felt.

They all say you’ll never forget your first client, and while I can’t remember her name, I do remember what she told me when we sat down across from each other for the first time:  “Don’t be so scared, honey!”  But I was, and what terrified me the most was that my fear was apparently obvious.

I inherited the tendency to suffer from general and social anxiety, and over time I have learned that if I just push through my discomfort, I usually come out on the other side having learned something about myself, having grown as a person, and feeling proud of myself.  As I made my way through high school and college, I slowly realized that 1) I wanted to be a therapist, of all things, 2) I thought I’d be good at it, and 3) It scared the shit out of me.  That settled it – I sent out applications to counseling master’s programs.

It’s weird that I am a therapist.  No one in my family has been one; I didn’t go to therapy as a child.  Therapists (and people who have been through the process as a client) use this language, this psychobabble, as if it were normal, but when terms like unconditional positive regard and attachment figure slip out of my mouth in front of friends and family, the looks on their faces highlight a distance I sometimes feel from the general population.

What I do during the day is odd.  I get paid to listen to perfect strangers tell me their deepest, darkest secrets, and I am expected to say brilliant things to make those people feel better and think about their problems in different ways. An added layer for me is that I work at an agency where we serve survivors of domestic and sexual violence – talk about alienating people at cocktail parties.  While I feel comfortable talking about abuse (with both my clients and the general population), most people don’t, and I completely understand that, but it’s tough when some people ask what I do or where I work, and the conversation basically ends after I give my answer.

For the above reasons, being a therapist can be an ironically isolating career to have.  Yes, I get to listen and work with people in such an intimate way, but that intimacy has to stay private…confidential…sacred.

Another side effect of shrinkdom that I have to actively reframe is my distorted perception that the world is a very, very dangerous place.  Every single one of my clients comes to see me because they have been victimized in some way, often by more than one person.  If I’m having a bad day, I think about all those perpetrators running around and it makes me terrified at the thought of one day having children and sending them out into the world.  I’ve noticed that I do little things to make myself feel safer: I always lock the door when I am home.  I carry my bike up to my second story apartment because it’s just too easy to steal.  If I am in my car, it’s locked, no exceptions.  The trick is to not let these little things turn into big things that get in the way of me living my life, hence the reframing.  I’ll hang out with healthy friends and remind myself that not everyone abuses others.  That may sound ridiculous, but for me, it’s essential to my sanity.

Another thing that adds to my therapeutic performance anxiety is this notion that therapists are held to a higher standard as humans, as if our training gave us mystical powers to analyze others and cultivate perfectly healthy relationships with loved ones.  As an example, a former boss of mine, who didn’t have a clinical background, once commented to me when several therapists at our agency were having a dispute, “You’d think that with all your training, you guys would know better how to get along.”  Yeah, thanks for that added pressure to be perfect, but it doesn’t really work that way.  Sure, we have mad skillz, but we also have baggage just like anyone else.

One of the ways us therapists get a handle on our issues and biases is through getting our own therapy.  My first experience of being a therapy client didn’t happen until after I realized I wanted to be a therapist.  Some therapy degree programs actually require that the students get into counseling, and while mine didn’t require it, I still wanted the experience.  I wanted to see what being a client felt like because I knew that it would later help me connect with clients, but more importantly I needed to deal with my own junk and gain some personal insight.

Let me just say that therapists make the worst therapy clients.  We analyze, we second guess, and we try to usurp the process- Oh no! I know what you’re trying to do!  You’re trying to get me to FEEL THINGS!  Well it won’t work!  Nonetheless, my first therapist’s name was Rebecca, she was a godsend, and I miss her.  I was able to unload and process all the crap that was happening in my life: moving across the country away from my family, moving in with my partner for the first time, and starting this crazy master’s degree.  She laughed at my jokes, she was there when I cried, and she didn’t judge me.  It was life changing.

It was through my time with Rebecca that I began to integrate these seemingly polar opposite sides of myself- the competent therapist and the anxiety-ridden fraud.  At first, the competent therapist in me felt guilty for getting my own therapy, because I was functional, healthy, I was taking a time slot from someone who probably needed it more than I…and I should know how to get by on my own, right?  I was supposed to have all the answers.  On the other hand, the anxious pretender in me felt so relieved, because I didn’t have to pretend in therapy.  Oh, it felt so amazingly good to admit how fucking scared I was and how I had no idea what I was doing.

Rebecca thought this was bullshit.  She didn’t think I was supposed to have all the answers.  She didn’t think I had no idea what I was doing, either.  And she was right.  Looking back, I think I knew this about myself all along, but just needed someone to say it to me.  There is room for both parts of me, and they aren’t opposing forces.  They’re just me.

So where does this leave me?  I still worry.  I worry that my older clients won’t take me seriously as a young professional.  I worry that my non-white clients won’t take me seriously.  I worry that my low socioeconomic clients will see me as a spoiled brat.  I worry that clients who are parents will reject my feedback because I am childless.  I worry that I won’t be able to help people.

And then I remember what it was like to be a client myself.  I remember that I was terrified of crying in front of a stranger, terrified that I wouldn’t be taken seriously, terrified of being judged.  I remember that all I wanted as a client was to be heard and understood.

And I think to myself, I can do that.

nanopoblano2015lightNaBloPoMo Day 20

My Seventh Mission

It was my seventh mission.

Well, scratch that…it was my sixth mission gone wrong, which kinda morphed into a seventh unexpected mission.  The goal of this mission was simple: get back to Abel Township before they close the gates.  Oh yeah, and don’t get eaten by zombies.  But that goes without saying these days.

Let me back up.  (First of all, Spoiler Alert for Zombies, Run!)


I’m the new Runner 5 for Abel Township, and I’m pretty lucky to be alive.  I was flown in from another camp because Abel was losing runners to the hoards of zoms moving through the area and they needed more.  Fresh meat, so to speak.  …too soon?

So I get the lovely task of running outside the lovely, thick, safe gates of Abel Township about once a week to do…whatever it is the people in charge need done, really.  Usually it’s some sort of supply run, or warning our neighboring camps that a hoard is headed their way.  Once, I ran out to bring an abandoned child back to Abel before the zoms got to her.  Most likely, her parent was bitten or killed while fighting off one or more zombies and then had to abandon the child before he/she turned.  Gruesome to think about, but it’s reality now.  And people are counting on me.

So, back to yesterday.  It was my seventh mission: get home!  I’m still not sure what went wrong on Mission 6.  Maybe I should confront Janine about that.  Buuut, if Janine actually did send me straight into an ambush, I’d better take it up with Sam.  Sam (or Mr. Yao if we’re following protocol) is usually my lookout while I’m out on missions.  He’s my eyes out there – warning me when the zoms are close, and if I’m still headed in the right direction.  And, well, yesterday…Sam was mysteriously out.  Janine took over.  She had me running over to New Canton, said they were letting us have some badly needed electrical equipment.

Now this was odd, because the people of New Canton have a history of…not sharing, shall we say.  They don’t play nice.  But Janine assured me she knew some good eggs on the inside.  So off I ran with her in my ear.

Well…let’s just say things didn’t go according to plan.  Once I approached my destination, I found myself surrounded by angry humans with guns…and zoms weren’t too far off either.  I didn’t think – I just RAN.

And then…everything went dark.  Meaning, the sun went down, but I also could no longer hear Abel (Janine or otherwise) in my ear.  Just static. Shit.  This wasn’t looking good, and I was getting tired.

There’s nothing more motivating me to run than the undead, I always say!  They never get tired.  I had to circle way around to steer clear of New Canton and then find my way back to Abel before they closed the gates for the night.  Buuuut, considering that it was already dark out, I figured I was screwed.

And then, I could hear him.  Faintly.  It was SAM!  He was still in his office, calling out to me!  I hissed as loud as I dared into my mic that I’m still alive, Mr. Yao!  And I can hear you!  GET ME HOME!  No response.  But bless him, he kept talking anyway.  The best part was that he told me, or my zombie self as far as he was concerned, that he’d convinced the higher ups to keep the gate open for another hour or so just in case I made it back!!  I had a chance, I just had to KEEP RUNNING!

There was only one time I came close to buying the undead farm as I blindly found my way back to Abel that night.  It’s hard for me to run entire missions without stopping to walk, and that’s okay since zombie hoards tend to move at a slow shuffle.  As long as I complete the mission and get back alive, right?  At this particular moment, I was close to Abel, I could smell it, and I was already running…when I smelled something else.  You guessed it.  To outrun them, I typically have to speed up by 10%.  But I was already running.  And I was damn tired.  I gave it all I had.  The air was cold and it started to make my heaving lungs burn, but I kept on.  The voice in my ear told me the zoms were 50 meters away…and then only 20.  By that time, I could hear their moans, and I swear I could feel their ragged breath on the back of my neck.  I didn’t turn around to look, I just ran.

Finally, to keep from getting caught, I was forced to drop what few supplies I had collected along the way.  It distracted them juuust enough, and then, when I had nothing left in me:  Runner 5!!  OH MY GOD, RUNNER 5!  YOU’RE ALIVE!  I CAN SEE YOU!  OPEN THE GATE!!  OPEN IT NOW!

Never had I heard such sweet yelling into my ear.  Thanks, Sam, for keeping me company.  And for letting me back in.  I’ll live to run another day.

Mission 7: Completed.

NaBloPoMo Day 19


Fish Out of Water

I never thought I’d be a stay at home mom.

And actually, I still don’t really feel like one.  I feel like a working mom who just isn’t working right now.  (WMWJIWRN?)  For the time being, I know that this is where I am meant to be, and knowing that brings me peace.  Do I want to be a stay at home mom forever?  No.  Do I want to work full time?  No.  Ideally, I’d like to work part time and be home part time.  We’ll see how all that pans out.

As an introvert and a homebody who moved to a brand new state while pregnant and unemployed, making social connections has been a challenge.  When left to my own devices, I will stay at home and watch TV, read, blog, clean, do projects around the house (in addition to parenting duties, of course)…and to get out with the kid, we’ll go to story time at the library, grocery shop (which I generally hate doing), walk/run (hate running, but it’s free), or try to arrange a play date with another mom (Which is SO MUCH HARDER than one might think.  Babies, and their weird, ever-changing schedules never sync up when you want them to).  That’s about it.

When Dylan was 8 weeks old, we started going to story time at our local library.  That has been our saving grace, pretty much.  For a long time, it was Dylan’s only social interaction with other kids, and it was/is my way of trying to awkwardly make new mom friends in the area.

And I’m not kidding about the awkward part.  It makes me feel like I’m still in grade school, cuz all I wanna do is raise my hand during a lul in the action and quietly ask if anyone wants to be my friend and come over to play.  Pretty please with a cherry on top.

And then a lovely fellow mom lady came in to story time and announced she was starting a support group for moms.  It was during a time I could make (which was practically any time, honestly) and kids could come along.  Oh thank goodness.

Note: I wrote the following two paragraphs several months ago, but wanted to keep them in here as I edit and add to this for posting.

I’ve been going now for 4 weeks and, while we haven’t really talked about anything deep or mind blowing…it’s been SO NICE.  I’ve left each time feeling so much calmer and more connected than before, and I find myself looking forward to it all week.

And it just hit me today that I’ve never actually been in a support group that wasn’t being run by me.  Come to think of it, I’ve led or co-led a good number of support groups and it’s a lot of work.  It’s draining and takes up a lot of my energy and concentration.  To be on the receiving end of a support group feels…incredibly comforting.

Sometimes I wonder about getting back into therapy for myself.  Like, as a client.  Goodness knows I could benefit from it.  The first time I ever went to therapy was precipitated by being in my therapy master’s program – I figured that I should know what it’s like to be in therapy as a client if I planned to actually do it.  So that got me into therapy, but the main issues we talked about swirled around the fact that I, like now, felt like a fish out of water.

I had just moved across the country, living outside of California for the first extended time, Brian and I had just moved in together, and I was working on launching from my family of origin in what felt like slow motion.  Everything was new, and adjusting was hard.

The feeling is familiar, but with one difference.  I knew that living in Boston was temporary.  Now, living in Oregon, we’re here to stay for the foreseeable future.  I didn’t see my life ending up here.  I didn’t see being a stay at home mom, either.  And that’s okay.  I mean, how can I possibly be expected, or want, to predict how my life will go?  I’m just dealing with all these changes the best way I know how.

nanopoblano2015lightNaBloPoMo Day 17

My Six Books

I was challenged by a friend – well, I begged her for a blog post idea and she came through like…someone who’s really dependable – to come up with three books that are “a snapshot of me.”

I already failed, since I came up with six and couldn’t whittle the list down any further.  They are listed in the order in which they were read…because that’s the order in which I grew.

  1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – JK Rowling

This book captures my whimsical childhood imagination.  If I had three wishes, I’d wish to go to Hogwarts for a year.  I’d date Ron and be besties with Hermione and go on adventures with Harry.  And I would steal some lemon drops from Dumbledore.  Why this HP book specifically?  Because they form The Order!  The kids become more rebellious and independent and help each other out and fall in love…sigh.  Deep down, I really do believe in magic.

2. Letters to a Young Therapist – Mary Pipher


I read this book in my Master’s program when I had no idea how to help my clients and I had a shitty supervisor who wouldn’t help me.  This book became my virtual supervisor and gave me space me to begin to figure out what kind of therapist I wanted to be.

3. The Gift of Therapy – Irvin Yalom


Like the previous book, this one gently taught me to figure out what therapy was and how I could use time, space, and words to help people help themselves.  Most of all, Yalom urged me to use myself- that, through authentic relationships between therapist and client, meaningful change could happen.  Such a simple, powerful message that has stayed with me.

4. Quiet – Susan Cain


THIS.  I never fully understood my introvertism, or that all those weird things I do even had a name, until I read this book.  I am drained and exhausted after interviews.  In college, I avoided small talk with drunk dudes in bars by asking a real question, like When you die, what do you want to be remembered for?  I can be alone and happy, reading for hours.  One time in grad school, I wanted to go home and get in jammies but my friends wanted to stay out.  While we were discussing it, the last bus of the night drove by.  I left mid-sentence and RAN to that bus stop.  I didn’t look back.  Reading this book felt beyond validating.  Having the additional insight into my personality and disposition will prove invaluable as I navigate interpersonal relationships (including the one I have with myself).

5. All Joy and No Fun – Jennifer Senior


This non-fiction book is about how children affect their parents, and woo-boy, it describes my first year of being a parent like SHE’S IN MY HEAD.  I spend a good chunk of my days doing work, a lot of thankless work, to keep my child alive and healthy.  It’s no fun.  And every once in a while, I get a moment, one moment of sheer, complete divine JOY when my boy belly-laughs or snuggles with me.  Aaah, that’s why people birth small humans.

6. In the Body of the World – Eve Ensler

Eve is best known for writing The Vagina Monologues, and recently she fought and won her battle with uterine cancer and wrote about it in this book.  While no cancer story will ever be the same as my own, there were many times where her experiences mirrored mine, and her ability to eloquently wade through grief and words and symbolism brought out all my feels.  We’ve both worked to help women survive violence, we lost parts of our female reproductive systems, and struggled not to feel like less of a woman because of it.  I was honored to meet her in 2008.  This book spoke to me on a level that few books can.

nanopoblano2015lightNaBloPoMo Day 16

Welcome to my head space

This month, I have felt really inspired to create.

It’s felt like a nice change.

With the weather getting increasingly gray and depression-y yuck, it has helped to be able to create and channel my energies into blogging while still hibernating from the outside world (it’s a win-win).  Each day I think about (okay, obsess over) what I might blog about, and I am constantly drafting pieces of posts in my head.

Inspiration isn’t the issue.

It’s not having the flexibility to write when I get these urges to write that is the problem…because I’ll think of something awesome as I am falling asleep, or in the shower, or while changing the dirtiest poopy diaper blowout (think, like, day old Indian food.  with undigested corn.  you’re wellllllcome) and then the carefully crafted sentences just sliiiiiip away, usually gone forever.

This month, my husband knows, when I am typing furiously and I barely answer him when he asks how he looks in his new knee-high gym socks, to NOT BOTHER ME.  I AM IN THE ZONE!!!  MUST.  BLOG.  NAO.

(Like, just now, he left to go up to bed……or was that an hour ago?)

So, not being able to write when I want to is frustrating, but such is my life for the past year.  I can’t do anything when I actually want to anymore.  I can’t sleep, eat, pee with the door closed, or dance naked unless Dylan is also sleeping, eating, etc. respectively.  (We observe such time-honored family traditions as the “pants-off dance-off.”  It’s epic, you should try it).

So, that’s the bad side.  The good side is that I’ve been reading people’s GREAT STUFF and I have been taking some stock of my own stuff and I just got to meet THE BLOGGESS and I’m all like YAASSSSSS!!!  IF THEY CAN WRITE ALL THE FUNNY THINGS, SO CAN I.  And write I will.

And I’ve started to think about what stories I want to tell (mostly because I am running out of ideas, and partially because I want to push myself and maybe write about some new things).  For some reason, I feel an urge to write about traumatic things that have happened to me in a short story format.  Does that sound interesting to people?  I supposed I could just try it, and if it falls flat, then lesson learned.

Any other words of advice for someone like me who wants a challenge, who feels inspired in a general sense, but just needs a push in some direction?

Sorry about the rambling post today, but it certainly does capture the head space I am in right now.

Welcome to my head space.


Today I Was Furiously Happy

Today, I got to meet one of my idols, and the reason I started blogging in the first place.

Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, came to P-town and made me one furiously happy lady.



I had Jenny sign her current book, her old book (cuz I missed her last time) and my copy of the DSM IV because…why not? We’re both well acquainted with it.

File_001File_006As you can see, we’re besties now.  We braided each others’ hair and painted our nails together.