Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Growing up

(Another pic for Thobeka) Those are turtles, not rocks. Well, there are some rocks too, but the turtles are cooler. This is at a funny beach that must be on a popular tourist website because it's always crowded, to the point of slowing traffic, even though there are turtles at tons of other beaches too...

Well, I'm done with my internship. I ended counseling with all of my clients, and handed off several of them to new counselors. This was actually very difficult for me in a few cases, especially with one client who I had done a lot of meaningful work with. At our last session, she gave me a letter that I will keep forever. In it, she told me that I could count her as a success story, and thanked me for helping her change her life. I just about cried. As hard and frustrating as counseling can be sometimes, there are moments like that that make it all worth it.

Looking back, this internship has been an amazing experience. I got the chance to work with so many different types of people, from so many different countries. I did individual counseling, couples counseling, started a therapy group, taught a class, and saw an idea come to life in the form of a workshop on women's career issues. I had amazing guidance from seasoned therapists who pushed me to trust myself and try new things.

Even though I spent two years studying books, the last nine months have taught me the most. I had a real breakthrough as a therapist one night when I was teaching a violin lesson, funny enough. I was teaching a student who has impeccable technique, which makes for really fun lessons where all we work on is musicality and expression. I was encouraging her to experiment with a Vivaldi concerto, and let her emotions come through in the piece, however it felt right. After she played a passage, I would tell her what her interpretation communicated to me. I realized then that I was doing in this lesson what I needed to do as an effective counselor - not telling someone what to do, but provide the environment to experiment and be honest with oneself, and be a nonjudgmental sounding board.

Another realization I had as I saw my clients progress and grow was how little I had to do with the process. They did all the work. I merely provided a safe place and a gentle feedback to allow my clients to use the strengths they already had, and learn to trust themselves.

I can't make my violin students practice, and I can't make my clients change. But if they trust me and feel safe to make mistakes, they'll want to.

I hope I can keep this all in mind as I start my new job in Maui, working with clients with eating disorders, a notoriously hard population. We're very excited to move though, and I'm excited for my first big girl job! More on that later...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Almost there...

Aloha friends. I know it's been a month. To be completely honest, I've been waiting until I had some pictures to upload in order to appease Thobeka. Hope you enjoy them! This one is us at Kailua, same as below. We kayaked out to a little island off shore and wandered around. Then Sam managed to drive the kayak around well enough to catch a couple waves along with some surfers! It was really fun. We had a couple friends from our ward with us that day and we had a great time. I'm really not sure why I suddenly have a blue underline that won't go away...
This one is Hanauma Bay, where we went before Kailua. It's an old volcano that now is full of coral reef and therefore, awesome snorkeling. We drove over an hour to get down here only to find it deserted and closed, because some tourist got stung by a jellyfish. Lame.

This is one of our favorite secluded spots, Kawela Bay. You have to park on the side of the road and ignore some "no trespassing" signs to get here, but it's so awesome. There are usually no more than 10 people there, and there are always turtles in the water, popping their heads up and eating off the coral. The water is really shallow, so you can walk out and get really close to the turtles. We once found one lying up on the sand too.

Sam and I are doing great. This coming week is finals week, and Sam is so excited to be done with another semester. He'll be taking a short 8-week spring term starting mid-April, and then he'll be done! I am set to graduate in May, but it looks like I might extend that and take a few more classes in order to have a 60-hour degree, which will expand my options as far as being able to potentially be employed and licensed in more states. Plus, we'll get another student loan payment, allowing us to continue our annoying habit of eating and paying rent.

Speaking of jobs, I have applied for probably 20+ positions, and have been more than discouraged lately. I've received almost zero positive response. The one phone call I got was for an adjuct (part time) position in Greeley, Colorado. Ever heard of it? Yeah, me neither. Plus, I haven't heard back.

The biggest blow to my self-esteem was receiving in letter in the mail from the campus that I work at, telling me that I'm not even going to be considered for an interview, even though I have been volunteering 40 hours a week for this school for the past 9 months. All three of my letters of recommendation were from faculty members. I felt better after my supervisor let me know that they actually flew a guy out from Washington a while ago and had him stay for a few days, and they really liked him a lot. He said they probably just had the intention of hiring that guy, but for legal reasons had to post the position and accept applications. Whatever.

I felt much better after I got a call early Friday morning asking if I could do an interview the next day! Finally some validation! So this morning, Sam and I drove down to Ala Moana and I met with three people from Nova Luna, an eating disorder clinic on Maui. They're opening up Hawaii's first residential treatment center and looking for therapists. I think the interview went really well, and we're kind of excited! I'm just wondering if I really want to take on a job that is almost certainly the most stressful in the field. I guess it depends if I get any other responses...

In other news, my Mom is coming this week! She'll be here on Friday and I'm so excited to show her around. I've been looking for good beaches to take her too, since her favorite thing is to float in calm ocean water. It will be so fun to show her the sea turtles and go snorkeling and give her a good taste of home. Then, when we drop her off, we'll pick up Sam's parents and get to play tour guide again. It will be so good to have family around and be able to share everything we've found here.

P.S. We went to a new beach today and saw a huge seal wriggle his way onto the sand. He hung out a while, then made his way back in, like a giant worm, then scratched his back on some rocks and swam away. First seal we've seen here and we were about 5 feet away. I love it here! :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tsunami Warning

On Saturday morning, Sam's phone rang at around 6 am. It was his brother, Jon, letting us know that there was a tsunami warning for all of Hawaii - apparently serious enough to be on the news in Texas. We got up and got on the internet to see what was going on. A few minutes later, our landlord knocked on our door and let us know the evacuation route further up the hill. That kind of freaked us out, considering we already live a couple miles inland, on a hill. This must be serious.

So, like any sane couple, we got our hides inland, right? Nope. This particular Saturday happened to be the same day that I had scheduled to take a test. This test is required for me to graduate, and is only offered at this one university in Hawaii once a year. That university happened to be in Aiea, which is on the south side of the island, where the tsunami was going to be hitting first. I checked my email - nothing from the school. I called them - no answer. I called again, and again. No answer. Nothing on the website. We decided that it wasn't worth the risk if they decided to hold it. If I missed it, I could end up delaying my graduation by months and months. So, at 7 am, we got in the car and drove down to Aiea.

We stopped at one of the three gas stations on the North Shore, but the pumps were dry. People were taking this thing seriously. We were listening to the radio and learned that the tsunami was projected to hit Oahu, our island, at around 11:40, so we had time. We drove down the road that goes through the middle of the island, and passed a lot of people who had already set up camp on the side of the road. There were quite a lot right next to the Dole Pineapple Plantation. We kept on going though, right toward the ocean.

When we arrived at the university, the doors were locked and it was dark inside. I called a number posted on the door and after some phone tag, confirmed that the test had been cancelled due to the warning. Apparently they couldn't find my phone number, which is why they didn't bother to call me. I guess email was too hard. I was not happy, but at least we still had over three hours before this place was supposed to be underwater.

We filled up on gas in Aiea and headed back inland to Mililani. Apparently everyone else had this idea too, since Mililani is the town that's most inland, but fairly close to Honolulu. We pulled into a shopping center and saw people camped out underneath parking structures, with kids playing with balls, lawn chairs out, and barbecues set up. It looked like a huge tail-gait party. We were hungry, so we headed to the Burger King. There was a huge line of cars, so I hopped out while Sam waited for a spot. I swung the door open and saw a line of about 50 people. Confused, I turned around, nearly bumping into a guy on his way in, and went back to the car. Why were so many people at Burger King at 8:30 am?? Burger King of all places. So we went to the Wal-Mart close by. It was fairly busy, but not anything crazy. People were shopping for clothes and acting casual, with only a few people pushing shopping carts (called trolleys in Hawaii) full of supplies. There was a McDonald's in there, but there again - at least 50 people in line. We were starving, so Sam waited in line while I grabbed a few things, since this was the closest Wal-Mart to our town, Kahuku, and we were still about an hour away from home. After we ordered, it took another 30 minutes to get our food. Craziness. While I was sitting and waiting, a really disheveled man sat next to me, and told me he'd been up since 2am, packing all his things into his truck. Then he told his wife to order him an ice cream sundae. Breakfast of champions.

We grabbed our food, even though some of it was cold, and got back on the road. We had learned from the radio that the waves were expected to be around 6-8 feet high, and figured that if we could get home, we'd be fine considering how far inland our house is. Unfortunately, our breakfast had taken so long that we didn't make it back to the Kamehameha Hwy before 10am, when they closed it completely. This is the only road to our town, but it goes right next to the ocean, so they had taken the precaution of shutting it down after evacuating the low-lying town of Haleiwa. Apparently even though the tsunami was coming from the south, it would likely wrap around the whole island and still create waves onto the north shore. We then learned from our trusty radio that if power lines or trees were to block the road, it could be 3-5 days before it re-opened and allowed people to return home. Awesome. We then drove around this little podunk town called Waialua until we found a general store. The shelves were mostly empty, but we bought some soda, crackers, peanuts, beef jerky, and chips to get us by. Then, we drove around until we found a nice big tree and parked under it for the shade. Then we waited.

I feel asleep a few times, but we kept the radio on and I listened for the count down to when the waves were going to hit the Big Island, which is the southernmost island in Hawaii. 11:00 was the predicted time, but 11:00 came and went. Then the time for it to strike Oahu came and went. The people on the radio kept urging listeners that we were still in danger. They described that the tide has started to recede off Big Island, and off Waikiki in Oahu too, which is indicative of a tsunami wave. Then the tide came back in. But it wasn't a tsunami. It was just a little wave. We seemed to be.... safe.

Sam and I were getting bored, so we decided to go exploring a little while we waited for the roads to open. We saw some beautiful new beaches up on the north shore, near the west end. We parked and watched the ocean from a high cliff, just in case. It was serene and beautiful, as always. We kept listening to the radio, knowing that if something happened in Hilo, on the Big Island, that we had about 30 minutes until the same thing happened on Oahu. Nothing happened though. It was about 1:00, two hours after the predicted time, and the radio started talking about lifting the warning. We started driving back and were able to make it back onto the Kamehameha Hwy. We saw Waiamea Bay, one of the most popular surf and tourist spots, completely deserted. It was gorgeous. Why didn't I take a picture?? I was just so anxious to get home after so long.

After a little mix up with the police blocking the road (one cop blocking one direction, and a few miles down the road, a second cop blocking the opposite direction), we finally made it home. I collapsed on the bed and slept for probably 4 hours. What a day.

On Monday, it was fun to exchange stories with my coworkers of where they spent their time and all the panicked calls from the Mainland. I got to use it as an example of critical thinking in my student development class on Tuesday. All in all, it was a good experience in emergency preparedness for everything, I think.

Moral of the story: Always be prepared, so you don't end up waiting in line for an hour at McDonald's just to get some cold food.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Well this is embarassing...

My life has always seemed to follow a pattern. I love to plan ahead - I make plans and research my options and create this awesome future for myself. Then the rug gets pulled out from under me and I find myself facing a completely different direction. In high school, the plan was Eastman School of Music, then London Symphony, then best violist in the world. Lofty goals, I know. The rug in this instance was depression, which led me to stop playing as seriously and consider psychology instead. I ended up at BYU-Idaho, a psychology major. Pretty far away from Rochester, New York, but it turned out to be a great experience.

For graduate school, I had the idea of going out of state again, heading out on my own, an independent and fiesty young woman. I was accepted to Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. I drove out to find an apartment, but I just couldn't do it. It didn't feel right. I drove back to Utah and took a job instead. Little did I know the upcoming rug - the trifecta of crashing my car, losing my job, and getting dumped within days. Out of money and unemployed, I moved in with my aunt. On the first day at my new singles ward, I met a cute South African boy named Sam.

Sam and I have been pretty good about flying on the seat of our pants and letting the wind blow us around. Soon after arriving in Hawaii, I felt really compelled to continue on with a PhD. Not having much time to research, I only applied to BYU, with complete confidence that I would be accepted. We started spending time on craigslist, marveling at how cheap our apartment would be, how we would be able to get a dog and it would be great to be able to buy a gallon of milk for less than $6. The last few weeks since submitting my application have been nerve-wracking. I am constantly checking my email and my application status online. Worried about the cost of a plane ticket for the interview, I emailed the department secretary to ask when I would be notified of the interview dates. Just hours later I got a reply: "Our program faculty have met and selected those applicants who will be invited to the Admission Seminar. I'm sorry to inform you that you were not one of those selected to attend the seminar nor continue with the admission selection process." My heart sped up, then promptly fell to my stomach. My cheeks reached boiling point. Then the phone on my desk rang. The secretary told me that my next client had arrived. Super.

That evening, Sam and I had a good talk on the beach to discuss our future plans. The next day at work I took advantage of the fact that all of my coworkers are therapists, and talked things through. Today I feel good. I've been looking at jobs, and am excited to enter the workforce. We're hoping to go back to Southern California, but I know at this point to just say, "I guess we'll see!"

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Finally getting started

Aloha everyone! I created this blog months ago, when we first moved, but then I of course forgot about it. We've just been having too much fun, and working hard of course. Sam's been in school and I've been working hard at my internship, then teaching violin and viola for the school on the side. You can see all our pictures from past adventures (Kauai at Christmas, Sam's birthday shark dive) on my facebook page.

Things have been going well lately. Our biggest news is that Sam's music was featured on MTV's "Real World" a couple weeks ago! They used one of his songs without the lyrics as background music to some dialogue. We were so excited when we found out! This means that he'll be paid for his music, and he'll likely have music placed in more TV programs in the future. Other than that - I just submitted my application to BYU Provo for their PhD in Counseling Psychology program. I'm expecting to hear back about that soon. Sam met with his academic advisor and found out he can graduate this summer with a new degree they just approved - a Bachelor's in University Studies. He'll be able to use all his random transferred credits, and have a certificate in Entrepreneurship. The plan is of course to move to Utah if I get into the program, and if not, I'll be looking for jobs here in Hawaii, in California, and wherever else they'll take me.

Sam and I have started running again, and I think we'll actually keep it up this year. We're recording our progress on our calendar as we work up to running for longer amounts of time. We met our goal of 30 minutes on Wednesday this week! Woohoo! I was so red, I look like I'd been horribly sunburned. haha Today we went back to running on the beach, as we'd been running on the road for a while. It was so nice to have the variety. We ran barefoot through the sand, water, and on some flat rocks right on the shore. We stopped to watch some fish in a tidepool, then ran back to where we started. There was a dark storm cloud over the ocean, making it look dark and ominous, but the different depths always make for different shades of blue. The beach we went to is pretty secluded, and there are usually only fishermen there, so we were pretty alone.

This was one of those great times where I really felt alive, and in the moment. I've been reminiscing on those times today - playing in a great orchestra, walking to the park with my best friend in high school and swinging on the swings at midnight, driving on the freeway with my windows down during the summer in Utah singing along with my favorite song, exploring different beaches with Sam, having a great breakthrough moment with a client in counseling. I'm so grateful for those times when I can stop and really relish the moment instead of worrying about the future.

What are some of those moments for you?