Friday, March 18, 2011

Projects of Roya

Once again the life of Roya is getting a little out of control. Here's a list of current projects I have going on:

1. Thesis I am doing a nation-wide survey of homeschoolers to measure their attitude toward psychotherapy. I had my first official thesis meeting this week, and am really excited to get going with this. I have started collecting articles, and names of homeschooling organizations to get permission from. I pretty much would like to spend my entire life on this project right now. There are 4 other people doing their thesis with Dr. Paul as our thesis chair. We will meet every other week for the next year, essentially. We should be done by this time, 2012. I really love the group we have. It's a good mix of people - and folks I really admire, respect AND enjoy the heck out of being around. Two of us are doing surveys, and the other three are doing intervention studies. Topics range from mine about homeschoolers, to a survey on eating disorders, to interventions with people with schizophrenia, to an intervention designed to decrease depression and anxiety among pre-adolescent boys. I will be spending an estimated 10 hours a week on my thesis, not including the meetings.

2. Backyard Bazaaar I am holding an art and craft sale in my backyard on April 9th. I am really excited AND nervous about it. I have had a great response from vendors, but I do have high hopes and expectations for this. I want to make sure it's amazing. We have a really truly great variety of sellers - and all local, and all people who make handmade items. We've got sellers who makes "mustache wallets," roasts their own coffee, makes soaps and lotions, paintings and prints, headbands, jewelry, picture frames... I just want to make sure the word gets out there.

3. Classes at CSULB I am taking 4 classes at CSULB towards my masters. Each one comes with it's own set of...projects and learning.
3a. Children and Adolescents A great class taught by one of my favorite teachers, but I realize over and over again that I have a really fundamentally different view of parenting and raising children than other people. It's different at a philosophical level, and all thanks to my background in unschooling. Sometimes it's hard to keep quiet, other times I don't want to say anything. I do get tired of being a spokesperson. In this class, I hate feeling antagonistic (especially since I really like the teacher), I take out my frustrations in the papers I write. So far so good. I just turned in a diagnosis assignment yesterday that was much harder than I thought it would be. We were given 3 vignettes and had to do a 5 axis diagnosis. Next week we have a midterm. A few weeks after that, I have a group presentation that I am actually excited about. We were given a vignette of an 8 year old girl and will be demonstrating some therapeutic interventions.
3b. Couples Therapy I really, really like the professor in this class, but am having a hard time anyway. Part of it is the fact that this class is taught from 7-10pm, after I have already had a class from 4-7. So it's a long time for me to sit still and absorb. Part of it is that the teacher, despite being charming and nice and clearly knowing what he talks about, is a little scattered and vague about his expectations from us. Part of it is the fact that it's about couples, and it's hard not to listen in class and apply every single thing to your own relationship - which can be exhausting. I honestly don't really know what is due next in this class, because things have changed so much. That's wearing on me as well.
3c. Family Systems Part 2 This is the 2nd part of a 2 part class on family systems. It's taught by a different teacher than part A, which is a little annoying because it's been repetitive. However, this professor's strengths come out when he is relaxed and carrying on a class that is more conversational. He is a fairly new graduate of our program, and so can offer a perspective and viewpoint that the other well-established teachers and therapists can't. Last week he brought in a well-known therapist/speaker/author who ran our class and did hands on Satire/Human Validation Process Model work. She was a treat. However, I was a little squirrely right from the beginning, and it was a good lesson for me in mentally digging in and getting the most out of something I can. We have a Satire paper due on Tuesday, which I still need to write.
3d. Dr. Paul's class I call it "Dr Paul's class" because I can't remember what class it actually is. It has to do with therapeutic theory, and we spend a good amount of time on that. It is also the flag-ship class, the one that helps us meet deadlines for the department, and prepares us for the other aspects of our program and practicum. Dr. Paul has the most insane attention to detail of anybody I've ever met, and I was resentful of it last semester. This semester, after meeting with him several times one on one, and working with him on my thesis, I have realized that he genuinely does everything he does with the pure intention of helping his students. That knowledge has gone a long way. I really appreciate his attention now. His class has the most work in it - several chapters and a two page paper every week, in addition to case notes and diagnosis. This Monday we have a mid-semester paper and presentation. The paper is about why we want to be a therapist. I could write 5 pages in my sleep, but for Dr. Paul I want to give my best, which takes a 5 page paper and turns it into a monster in my head. The presentation is on the same topic, but he grades us on creativity. Last time I wrote and performed a song. This time I am at a little bit of a loss.

4. Practicum Everybody who wants to be licensed as an MFT in the state of CA needs to complete 3000 hours with clients. As a student, I have to complete 500 of those with a practicum site while I am in school. We were given a list at the beginning of the semester to choose from. I sent emails and resumes to 7 sites, and heard back from most. I have one interview set up for Wednesday. I was incredibly light-headedly-want-to-throw-up-when-I-think-about-it nervous about it all last week, but have reached a certain calm about it now. I realized that I am a student, and will not know everything. I also realized that that's probably better for the site, so that they can train me in the way they want. Also, I realized that this site may really not be the best fit for me, and I am interviewing THEM too, to find that out. Although it would be nice to get an internship offer from this site, my world will not end if I don't. My goal at the interview is to be calm and confident, but genuine and realistic about my knowledge, skills, and counter-transference. Today I will also follow up with any other internship sites that I have not yet heard back from.

5. Classes at Goldenwest I am enrolled in a swimming class two mornings a week, and a pilates class two mornings a week. I love every second of both. It's march and I have tan lines. My goal for the second half of the semester is not to miss a single regularly scheduled class, and to try to swim some extra days (our teacher lets us go to the other swim classes he teaches for free). On the days I have a thesis meeting, I need to go to the 6:45am swim class if I think the 8am one is too close to when I have to be at the thesis meeting. In pilates we have to keep a journal too, which is good for me. I am also taking pilates with my youngest sister, and my sister in law, and it's nice to get to see them. My sister in law takes swim also, although at a different time, so that connection is fun too.

6. Work I work from 20-30 hours a week. I run special events for adults with developmental disabilities, and I also am working as an Entitlement Specialist. That second one means I go and meet with a caseload of clients (I only have 5 right now) for 1-2 hours each per week, and go over their finances with them. I help them check mail and pay bills, track their expenses, budget their income, track their disability income and correspond with the social security administration. I love getting to see clients, and I get a kick out of the money stuff, but I do admit I have an ongoing sense of uneasiness that I am doing something wrong and will irreversibly screw up life for one of my clients. Another problem is just feeling like I am spread really thin between my two jobs. This should decrease, as I am getting more realistic about my timing, and have talked to both husband and boss about that. I am getting better at turning down NEW projects.

7. Island Trip I've been asked back as staff on the Island Trip!!!! This is a class (Recreation in the Ocean Environment) offered every summer to Recreation Majors at CSULB. I went when I was a student, in the summer of 2005. Adam (my husband) went also (although we were just friends at the time). It was a life-changing experience then, the 5 hour boat ride to the island, getting the gear up The Hill, the week of orienteering, hiking, learning the flora and fauna, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, team-building, and SWIMMING WITH SEA LIONS... The island trip first started in 1974 by Jack Minar (I am very proud that I have won the Jack Minar scholarship, as well) and has been famous in the recreation world ever since. KJ, who started out as my academic advisor and professor in my undergrad, and is now one of our closest friends (we were at each other's weddings), runs the trip and puts great intent and purpose behind every aspect of it. Last year Adam and I went back as staff. He was in charge of safety, boating, fishing, and being strong and I was in charge of food prep and the kitchen. We cook with about 5 propane stoves. The island has no water, no shade, and LOTS of wind. The students are in charge of menu-planning and shopping, I just help to guide them. I am so excited to go back this year. Going back means I can't take Play Therapy, but the island trip is that worth it.

8. Food and health and stuff An on-going and ever-evolving project for me... I am reading the book Intuitive Eating, and trying to adapt this philosophy into my life. It's hard to get rid of the "food police" from my internal dialogue. Hard to stop thinking of food in terms of "good and bad," which I don't want to do because it attributes morality to eating, and I don't want to associate that kind of guilt with eating and food. Trying to think of food as fuel, or as pleasure or experience - but being aware and honest with what I am getting out of it. My mom and I signed up to get a basket of fruits and veggies from local farmers once a week. We got our first box yesterday - it's beautiful. It had apples, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, fennel root, red tipped mustard, chard, lettuce, artichokes, sugar snap peas, cauliflower, avocados, beets and turnips. I also started following the organization's blog, and it is SO NEAT to see exactly which farm which items came from. I snagged this photo from their blog.

9. Therapy and biofeedback A requirement of my MFT program is 30 hours of personal therapy. I went to one in Long Beach that I really liked, but stopped going after I had my surgery - I just flaked. Then I started with Kaiser, because it was cheaper for my insurance, but HATED the therapist. She was rude and awful. I decided to go back to the original therapist, who has started a therapy group for a few of us in my cohort. I've been once. I loved it. I love her office, I love the other people in the group, and I love her focus on emotions. I am such a solution-focused person, that having my therapist make me slow down and work on the emotions coming up inside of me is wonderful. I leave her office feeling refreshed and lighter than I did when I walked in. She gave our group a little bit of "homework" this week, which has been nice to keep us in touch with that mindset and emotional way of being during the week. Dr. Paul also loaned me one of his biofeedback machines, which has been found to decrease stress and anxiety. You put your finger on it, and breathe calmly while thinking appreciative thoughts. It lights up with a series of red, blue and green lights according to how calm and steady your heartrate is. It's a handy little tool and I love it.

So - this has been a semester with a lot of personal, professional, and academic growth for me. Writing it all out has helped me remember WHY I am doing all of the things I am doing. I realized I am the most stressed about the unknowns of this summer and next semester, not so much anything I am doing right now. I feel more self-aware than I have before, and pretty dang excited about all of my projects.