Monday, September 24, 2012

Coffee: the new love language

Coffee is my love language.

People take tests about love languages and analyze the specific type of way they give and receive love.

However I have come to terms with my personal way of receiving love: coffee.

When all else fails in life, coffee is still there. There are still coffee shops on my street and Starbucks around the corner.

Everything in my life can change and turn upside down but coffee is like a trusted loyal friend.

This summer I have been spending a lot of my time alone during the day job searching. When I feel like I can’t take it anymore inside my apartment alone pouring over job applications, I throw off the boxers, shower and head to a coffee shop to get some inspiration.

Sometimes I plant myself next to a window and just drink my coffee and do nothing else. Somehow I am able to breathe and get enough perspective to continue to move forward in life.

This past weekend I flew out for my roommate’s (now ex!) wedding in Minnesota to be a bridesmaid. I love going back to Minnesota for a number of reasons but one of the large reasons are the coffee shops. Caribou Coffee in Minnesota is the equivalent to Starbucks in San Diego. They are around every corner. Dunn Brothers has the best cold press I have ever tried. Lastly Waconia, a town of 10,000 (but it feels more like 20) just west of the twin cities has a place called Mocha Monkey. In college I would come here to write and sip a yerba matte chai or get a mocha. 

My ex-roomie, Janice who just got married added to my addiction of coffee. In the mornings I would wake up to the smell of coffee, and find her sitting in her robe on our sofa, blank stare on her face, coffee in hand. It was one of the rare moments I would see her sit still and do nothing.

The first time, Scott, my fiancé, came to my door with a vanilla latte in hand, you would have thought he had come to the door with a diamond ring and a dozen roses. But no, just coffee. However to me, it was not just coffee. It told me he understand me, cared about me, thought about me, and the effect of the morning buzz was lasting as we got into the car and drove off to Julian for the day for a picnic.

When I graduated in June, my family and friends all got me Starbucks gift cards. I am still benefiting from all those gift cards! This time of year they are especially important to me because of the holiday drinks. The pumpkin spice latte literally makes my day.

I guess the thing about love languages and coffee that correlate is that coffee is something you can taste, touch, smell. It’s something that is given, it’s an act of service and a gift simultaneously. It speaks non-verbal words of affirmation and often it brings people together for quality time.

It’s ridiculous when I think about it. But then again in life you have to notice the little things that make you happy. Often it’s not the big things, but the little things that maximize pleasure and satisfaction in life. It’s taking the time to breathe, relax and realize that those little things are out there to add brightness to the day.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Tree

I used to climb trees.

I also had a strange fascination with barbed wire growing up. I guess I always felt like it was an accomplishment when I would climb the fence. Sometimes I would rip a hole in my jeans or cut my skin. I would do this especially playing Capture the Flag or Flashlight Tag at night. I would run right into the barbed wire fence. I wouldn't notice the bleeding till I got back to my house.

Now as for trees, if I could jump the barbed wire where I lived there was this giant Cottonwood tree on the other side. I would dream of climbing it. However, it caught a disease, a tree disease, and it's slowly started to wilt it's stunning power and strength. I remember climbing my Grandma's tree in her front yard as a kid too. This tree was easy to climb. It made me feel strong and adventurous. My only trouble was in figuring out how to get down. I would like to say this fear died with childhood but not so. It was only a couple years ago I went on a hike, found a tree, climbed it and had no idea how to get back down.

I'm not exactly afraid of heights but once I'm up so high I can't figure out how to get down, it was so easy to get up. The view from below, while daunting, is a challenge I liked to take. The view from up high is priceless but once you realize you have to come back down, it's a bit disappointing.

 This past weekend Scott and I went to Julian for a mini day trip. It was so good to get out in nature, away from free-ways and traffic. It was so peaceful to feel a breeze, be far away from buidlings, and closer to nature's little noises of birds, leaves rustling, and life singing. We had a picnic under a large tree. I'm still mesmerized thinking about that tree and the view I had of it from the ground. Grass level view. I kept taking pictures to capture the tree, the leaves, the branches, the way the sun seeped through, the blue sky through the green leaves. It was so beautiful. I just couldn't capture it.

 It made me think about life and how I am always focused on "climbing the next tree". I just want a new tree, a new adventure, another accomplishment. But often when I climb too many trees I find myself stuck on a branch, unable to strategize a way down. Often I am so focused on getting to the next branch I forget to enjoy the scene below and above me. The view from the soft blanket in the grass is breathtaking. My eyes wonder in the open sky, the leaves dance in the sunlight. I relax taking in my surroundings.

 Sometimes I feel like my life is like Capture the Flag or Flashlight Tag. I am running and running and won't stop. I am running blindly in the dark. I crash into barbed wire and don't understand why. I run for the adrenalin rush, for the excitement but I don't know what I am doing or where I am going. I am hiding from all the flashlights because I don't want anyone to really find me. What they find might be alarming. Me, paralyzed as a kitten, up in a tree unsure how I got up here, more unsure how I will get down.

 Finally graduating in 3 weeks. I am already looking for the next tree to climb, the next thing to conquer, the next fence to jump, the next thing to do. But a small part of me remembers the tree I encountered this past weekend. The tree I didn't have to climb. The tree that gave me shade. The trees that let me rest and breathe deeply under it's long branches. The tree that spoke of beauty beyond what anyone can manufacture. The tree that spoke of strength beyond human capacity. I need that tree in my life. The one where I can rest at ease, reflect and instead of jumping to the next "tree climber activity", perhaps revel in the growth I have already seen. Enjoy the product of what I have planted, of what I have watered and what I have sewn.

 We are a workaholic society. A culture that thrives off of the next big thing. We are activators and accomplishers. We produce and produce and produce. We perform and perform and perform. Strive and strive and strive. If we never enjoy what we have produced what exactly have we gained? Is our identity only wrapped up in how much we get done, and how fast we can get it done?

 Maybe it's time I give myself a pat on the back and take a nice long nap under the tree I worked so hard to plant and grow these past 8 years (ahem 21 years in school). I have climbed this tree. And let me tell you something, the view from the grass is actually better in some ways than the view up in the sky, besides I don't even have to worry about how to get back down.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

LAST year of graduate school

I keep thinking I will blog. I keep thinking I will find time or energy to post. I think about a lot of things to share. It's complicated now with confidentiality issues with my clients. I can't just share details freely. It's complicated because I am so overwhelmed this year. The learning curve has been steep.

But I will tell you when I finish and graduate in June I will be throwing a party in my head. Right now I'm in my second to last quarter of graduate school~ in finals.I have had papers due for weeks now. I think I am coming to my breaking point. I have had a migraine for the past few days I can't seem to shake. I feel paralyzed writing these papers. I feel like I am writing the same thing over and over.

However I do know I am not only becoming a better writer (academic writer-notice I did not add blogger) and more importantly I am growing as a therapist. I am starting to own what I tell my clients. If I can't live it and believe it what makes me think my clients will be able to embody what I am even talking about? I still believe in change. I believe in hope. I am clinging tightly to a God who can save.

I understand now why a lot of therapists become depressed and quit. I understand why a growing majority of therapist become suicidal. They hear awful stories every day. They see everyone at their worst and they want to escape the pain. I am determined not to numb myself to sleep but to face the pain with strength, boldness and fierceness. While I am learning about being a therapist my clients teach me how to be a stronger person. My clients have been through abandonment, abuse, neglect, sex trafficking, they have had everyone turn their backs to them, they have been malnourished, they have experienced the death of their dad, the emotional abuse of their mom and they do everything they can do to numb this pain. They get high, they are compulsive fighters, they drink themselves into oblivion, they steal to feel wealthy, they have sex to feel whole. But in my office I see survivors. I see strong fighters. I see myself in their eyes. I see someone who beneath the hot mess is a person in the image of God who does HAVE WHAT IT TAKES to make it, to change, to recover and to find


So even if I don't pull an A on all these integrated papers on faith and therapy I have found something much more precious and that is hope.