Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Fence!

For the last few months I have been squirreling away money.  I have a great second job that I love and allows me currently to put a bit away in savings.  I had been putting it in there without real intent for a couple of months, and as the spring progressed we re-engaged in talks about putting up a fence.

Since we bought the house, almost three years ago, we have dreamt and designed the fence a thousand times.  Sometimes it had port holes, other times it was a fancy mix of brick and wood, other times it was all stone work and yet other times it was varying heights and textures.  We even had folks come out and give us an estimate of how much it would cost to have it professionally built, which was way out of our range.  

Leading up to Alan's business trip to the Philippines, I initiated numerous conversations about "the fence."  We would go outside together, look at where it would go, how high it might be, what materials we could use.  We would sometimes agree and other times dreams of something fancier and/or more expensive would get in the way of agreement. Either way, we needed something that would allow us to open our front door without fear of Coco bolting out.  We could enjoy the front yard without Coco on a tether, often wrapped around trees and uprooting plants.  Something simple and affordable so that we could actually enjoy the end product, instead of dreaming about it until we sold the house.   

I knew when I started the project it was either going to be received well, as in, "Oh wow, this looks great and I can't believe you were able to pull this all off.  Thank you." Or, it was going to be, "Oh wow, I can't believe you did this.  It's not what I wanted."  It seems to have fallen somewhere in the middle of that.  The good thing is it looks great, keeps the dog in the yard and outside - which seems to make him a happier pup and us happier pet owners.  And, it was't terribly expensive, it's completely paid for in cash and we can always change it up as we have more resources and time in the future.  Also, we have well over 300 more feet of property line that needs to be fenced in.  

All this being said, on to the pictures!

First, the AMAZING Amanda Wright came to help me plan and then dig!  We started with diggin' and sinkin' sooooo many posts.  My poor arms ached for a week!

A few days later, lumber was procured!

Fence Day was a group effort!  Amanda, my wonderful parents, even the kiddo helped out for a while!

Pa getting creative around the tree, Amanda building the gate and Nena taking a union break! 

Just about done!

Nena got the flower garden in order and put in a new path.

A week later, with the fancy fence installed, I worked on a rose garden. 

Tada!  In a month or so we should have a beautiful array of flowers blooming!

Then there was the garden to be planted. 

We will have tomatoes, kale, squash, strawberries, blue berries and cucumbers!

Coco enjoying not having to be on a leash!

Coco really enjoys not having to be on a leash!  Much easier to frolic about!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day

He didn't say happy mother's day to me and for the most part, I'm okay with it. He's a teenager and the forgetful one at that. He's never been big on holidays, except for the ones he knows come with gifts for him. I guess in that way he's a normal kid. The thing about it is, I know that he thinks I'm an alright mom. He communicates this to me many ways. The way he feels comfortable sharing his feelings when it's just the two of us. The way he pushes back, shows that he feel safe with me. The way he asks for what he wants and needs reflects that he knows I will always do my best to prioritize his needs. He feels safe expressing his anger, frustration and fears without having to protect me. He knows I'm stable enough to handle it. He uses me as a resource. So even though I didn't get a silly card or a bouquet of flowers, or even a "Happy Mother's Day," I got him today, safe and thriving with his sweet smile and goofy sense of humor and really what more can a mom ask for.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Seems like a great idea since they are calling for rain and cooler temperatures all this week!

Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds
1 large yellow onion
1 head of garlic
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 teaspoons of dried thyme
3 to 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
Season to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Wash the vegetables. Cut the squash in half vertically. Scrape the seeds out and discard. Cut each half into about 4 chunks for a total of 8 pieces.

Cut the unpeeled onion in half vertically. Cut 1/2 inch off the top of the garlic head, exposing the cloves.

Arrange the garlic, squash, and onion, cut side up, on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with thyme.

Cover dish tightly with foil and bake until the squash is tender when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

After vegetables have cooled enough to handle, scrape squash off of the skin and into a food processor or blender. Discard the skin.

Peel the skin off of the onion and trim the root and add the roasted onion to the squash. Separate 9 to 12 of the garlic cloves and squeeze the soft garlic in with the vegetables. Add any juices that have collected in the baking pan.

Add 3 cups of broth and puree the mixture until smooth. Add extra broth as needed to achieve your desired consistency.

Transfer soup to a 4 or 5 quart soup pot and heat over medium heat. Season with freshly ground pepper. If you like, garnish the soup in the bowl with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil or some chopped parsley.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

too - adverb: to a higher degree than is desirable, permissible, or possible; excessively.

While sitting with a colleague, consulting about a client, they intimated that the client probably felt safe because she was sitting with another colleague now, "who was the least intimidating thing there is." They then asked me if I wanted to return to the room and talk to the client or if they should. They again implied that since they were "a small person with a little green suit and wouldn't be seen as imposing," that perhaps they should return to the room instead.

As these statements were made within moments of each other, it took everything in me to stay present in the conversation. I did a quick 2 second, "are you overreacting" evaluation in my head and quickly decided I wasn't. Regardless of the intent, the impact of both of these statements felt like an attack on my size and on my ability to sit present in a room and not be experienced as imposing or intimidating. I feel like I've gotten this message a lot throughout my life and the only place I can lay it, is on my body.

My body was being perceived as too big, too round and taking up too much space. My hair is too short and my pretty just isn't pretty enough. I think about lookism. I think about fat oppression. I think about how quickly those that we might consider allies, become antagonists in our life stories. I think about how hard it is to feel emotionally safe with someone once that bridge has been crossed. I think about how do you begin to repair something someone doesn't even recognize needs to be repaired. I think about the judgement I take on and embarrassment I feel for simply existing in my body.

 Then, in that slight pause between thoughts, I take a deep meaningful breath.  I allow myself to feel the cleansing energy reach every nook and cranny in my body and I give this all up to the ether, to the universe and seek to let it all go.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I've crossed the finish line.

Hard to believe that this part of my journey has come to an end.  It all began in the spring of 2009, on somewhat of a whim.  I was leaving a job that I had once loved very much.  I was feeling angry and hurt about what the new leadership was choosing to enact and knew that leaving was my only choice.    At the same time that this important part of my life was ending, I was also preparing for the new life adventure of getting married.  I wasn't sure what the future held for me professionally, and I knew that I wanted a change.

I had talked with my friends and colleagues about what my next steps might be.  I was trying to determine where I wanted to go, if I wanted to stay in the domestic violence field or if I wanted to explore something totally different.  As I continued to apply and interview for jobs, I kept getting feedback that I was qualified, and that what social services agencies wanted were MSW's that could supervise interns and staff.  I had a Masters in Public Administration plus years of leadership experience, and it wasn't enough.

As I figured that I didn't have anything to lose by looking, I checked to see when the application deadline was for the MSW program at PSU.  It was then I learned that I had exactly 5 days to complete my application, get letters of recommendation and my personal statement together.  Somehow the Universe saw fit to make this happen and in that very short time my application was submitted for the part-time program.

I spent the next few months planning for both the possibility of grad school and re-entering the work force.  I continued to look for jobs, while also enjoying the dream of going back to school.  In May I got a letter stating that I had not been accepted, and  had been placed on the waiting list.  I righted myself with the idea that this dream probably wasn't going to happen this year and kept moving forward. Then in August, while driving to Eugene to begin the week of festivities before our wedding, I got a two line email from Janet Putnam at the School of Social Work and it read, "There is a position in the full time program.  Call me ASAP if you want it."

This was a game changer.  I hadn't found work, and I hadn't planned for a full time grad program.  Thankfully I have a wonderfully supportive partner who said, "Of course you will go, we'll figure the rest out!"  And that's just what we did.  I went to school full time, worked part time, wrote papers, started a family, read more theory than I will ever remember, fought for custody of my step-son, interned at four different placed, parented, partnered and tried to keep my sanity intact and in 2011, graduated with a sparkling new Masters of Social Work degree.

In June 2011, I entered the world of community mental health. I had spent nearly 15 years prior working in community non-profits in everything from a volunteer to a Deputy Director position and nothing quite prepared me for the dysfunction, mismanagement, lack of true commitment to self-care or betterment of staff, that community mental health has offered.  It also did not give me the depth of understanding about working with dedicated, fierce, compassionate mental health clinicians and remarkably resilient clients that together inhabit the space that is community mental health. So for the last three years, this is where I have chosen, for better or worse, to reside.  Even with all the tears, tension and tiredness that I have experienced, I wouldn't have changed a thing.  I know that I am a better social worker and person because of those that have touched my life as a client or co-clinician.

So today, when I pressed that last button on my LCSW exam, and successfully completed that final step in this journey, I did pause and think of all of those people and experiences that helped me get here.  I wish I could thank everyone individually, and I hope you all know how much I appreciate you and what you have brought to my life.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Study, study, study!

I am studying for my LCSW exam.  I am actually scheduled to take it in the near future.  I am really nervous that I am going to fail it, so I haven't really told anyone.  That's the great thing about having a blog that not many people read.  I am able to get this out of my head, take a few deep breaths and just keep STUDYING!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Oi! Yoga for the first time in months...ouch!

I did yoga for the first time today in a couple months and I am pretty sure that I pulled my armpit muscle.  I got use to a fat yoga class that was both challenging and restorative.  Unfortunately due to my new work schedule I can't make it those classes, so I was stuck with a gym class.

It wasn't awful.  It was a small class.  The instructor was more woo than gym rat, which I totally appreciated.  There was no body diversity in the class, which was a bummer.  Otherwise it was an ok replacement for what I really wanted.  And truthfully, my body has been telling me for a few weeks now that it needs to move.