Thursday, February 28, 2008

i have been accepted

Heh. I like the sound of that. It can mean so many lovely things.

In this case, though, it means that I received my acceptance letter from the grad school program to which I applied. Which is great and a great honor. Only now I am scared to bejeesus of what my life will be like as a single mom, homeschooling two kids, holding down a part-time job and commuting to a grad school program that will be either a 30 minute or an hour and a half commute depending on which site my classes are that day. I have hardly written anything in months because I have been working on my application and quietly hiding away with all the responsibilities that I have, and love, but that already take up all of my time.

Can I make magic? Can I create more hours in the day so I can still make healthy dinners from scratch and take long walks with my dogs and do yoga and teach my kids a little about the world and go to soccer games and guitar lessons AND attend classes every evening and do lots of valuable reading and write thoughtful papers and complete an internship? Goddess bless, I hope so, 'cause I think I am gonna give it a shot!

So the program to which I have been invited is for a Masters in Community Counseling at Western Carolina University. It is, apparently, a very good program, well accredited and appropriately focused on personal wellness.

I thought I'd share the essay I wrote for my application since it is the only thing worth noting I have written in quite some time. This is the extended version; I had to cut it back considerably in order to stay within the required length, but wordy creature that I am, I prefer this version:

For a number of years it has been my goal to seek the education I need to make counseling my career path; as such I am applying for admission to the M.S. in Community Counseling program. I have an earnest desire to promote healing and wellness in the world by providing assistance to others to help them attain their own satisfaction, comfort and joy. I have always been personally dedicated to human service and healing. Earlier in my life I studied and practiced as a midwife because I felt that by helping families bring their children into the world in safety and in peace that I might make an impact toward creating a safer and more peaceful world. It is my belief that with compassionate, natural care during pregnancy and birth it will increase the likelihood that healthful nurturing will take place within the family itself, and my hope that it would create a healthy family dynamic preventing potential problems for those family members later.

For a variety of reasons, though, I have decided that I am unable to practice midwifery as my career, yet my interest in serving my community as a resource and support person has never waned and, fortunately, neither have my opportunities to provide that service. Friends and acquaintances as well as the families with whom I have shared birth experiences have continued to call upon me to midwife them, so to speak, through some of their more troubling personal concerns, and I have been grateful to make myself available to them to serve in that capacity. I have stood with my loved ones as they have faced relationship concerns, parenting issues, community disagreements, addiction, depression and the loss of loved ones. While I never think that I have the answers to their problems, I find that I have a strong ability to be present and listen and offer support in a variety of ways to people in these situations. I believe it is the logical progression of my being organically called to serve in a counseling capacity to my community to now move forward and strive for the education that will allow me to best serve that community and also allow my family and myself to benefit from this service by making it my career.

In my role as a midwife I have had many opportunities to work with people as they have tried to overcome deep fears and concerns. Midwifery is an intimate service in which normal barriers fall away and you find yourself staring directly in the face of another person, to whom you previously may not have been close at all, as they stare directly in the face of their greatest challenges. In this space I have found myself needing to be centered and compassionate, strong but yielding, giving of myself though never taking over the process that rightly belongs with the family. I have assisted women as they dealt with the unexpected disappointment of a difficult birth, a c-section when a natural birth was truly desired. I have been supportive to couples as they have decided how to tell their families they are unexpectedly becoming parents and as they dealt with the emotional repercussions of their families’ reactions. I have mediated between an expectant father and mother as they tried with difficulty to decide whether or not to circumcise their baby, should he be a boy, because the father felt his heritage dictated that ritual but the mother believed strongly that it was an unnecessary and undesirable medical procedure to which to subject the child. I have provided reassurance as a family learned their newborn had a grave congenital heart defect and stayed close as they processed the intensity of his subsequent surgeries and hospitalizations. And I have cried with a family as they grieved over their stillborn daughter and spent many long hours in therapeutic discussion with the bereaved mother as she tried to make sense of her loss.

My experiences in the realm of counseling are not limited to those I have had through midwifery. I am a mother of two teenaged sons, and my interpersonal dealings with them as they navigate their relationships with each other, with their father, who has lived long-distance from us since their early childhood, and with me has been a fount of opportunity to explore therapeutic human interaction. As a result of home-schooling my children I have also taught a wide age-range of other children in classes and groups and participated with them as they have worked to learn their subjects, to learn about themselves and the world and to learn how to interact with their peers. I have served as a youth group teacher and counselor in Unitarian-Universalist churches off and on throughout my adulthood and have worked with young people as they have explored such diverse topics as race relations, religious tolerance and their own developing human sexuality. In my long time residence in the Asheville area I have connected with a wide social circle full of an eclectic set of characters typical of this unique area; many times I have found myself in the position of mediating between these friends or within families or various local organizations. I chose to bolster my skills in mediation by pursuing professional training through The Mediation Center, which I completed in 2006.

I feel that my own personal growth process has led me to a place in which I am very open to self-reflection for the purpose of preparing myself to become a counselor to others. I am, to be frank, a thriving survivor of a highly dysfunctional family in which I experienced poverty, abuse and neglect. I have coped with the long distance separation of my children’s father from our family and raising my sons as a single parent. I faced serious emotional hurdles in supporting a former partner during an emotional breakdown that led to his commitment to a mental health facility, followed by a stay in a drug rehabilitation center and ongoing recovery work. The combination of these experiences, amongst others, has resulted in a personal openness, a deep sense of compassion for myself and others, a willingness and desire to communicate as effectively and healthfully as possible and a sense of understanding of self that allows me to recognize my mistakes and patterns, to forgive myself and to learn from the process. These traits are helping me to become a more strong and adaptable person and to succeed in my personal goals, and I hope that they will foster my ability to learn what I need in order to work competently in the counseling field. I see myself working professionally in a private or group practice, counseling for individuals or families, perhaps in conjunction with practitioners of other holistic modalities. I may wish to focus on working with a similar demographic as I did in midwifery, families going through the experiences and transitions of childbearing and childrearing and the concomitant changes of that time in relationship to self and others, and perhaps providing grief counseling for families experiencing childbearing losses.

Today, after all I have been through, I consider myself to be a content, well-adjusted and self-assured individual with a great joy for living. It is the fact that I have faced such hardship and been able, with the help of an assortment of different types of counseling and therapy, to make such an enjoyable life for myself, to provide a healthy home for my children and to have enduring and beneficial relationships with my family and friends that leads me to believe that it is possible for individuals to overcome many hardships and still find their peace. While I know that I can never hold the secret for others to reach contentment, as they must do so for themselves, I do believe that with the proper education I can combine the lessons I have learned, my gifts for compassion and communication and my desire to serve and go out into the world and listen, support, and yes, midwife others as they seek their own resolution, find their own peace and become the people they long to be.


Anonymous said...

Sounds good. There are two kinds of people in this world; those who get a lot done and those with a lot to do. Looks like you've decided which you're going to be, at least for the foreseeable future.

Good luck.

Melissa said...

May the classes go well and the balance between all of your commitments go smoothly. Good luck!

mary said...

i f*cking love you so much!!!

Allen said...

When my daughter was having her medical emergency last year, I called Justina bawling - sharing all my fears and emotions to a woman I hardly know, except for having danced with her a handful of times over the past 7-8 years...

A testament to her ability to listen to people - and for people to seek her for consolation...

Mother > Midwife > Counselor

It's a logical progression.

And yes, you can (and are) making magic.