I’ll be honest. Sometimes I sit down and catalogue what I’m doing with my time since I closed my psychiatric practice, and I’ve never felt more certain that I am walking slowly in circles. Many circles.
Today I am writing it all down and sharing it, because when people ask me what I am doing with my life, I don’t have an easy answer. This week, the visual of one of those wildflower seed bombs came to mind. Essentially, that’s a workable analogy for what I’m doing.
Instead of wildflowers, it’s seeds of yoga, mindfulness, equity, and support for those who wear the effects of stress and trauma in their bodies, minds, and spirits long after the stressors have passed. We hold onto the things that form and inform us, and some of us have a harder time setting them down.
While I’m trying to invite and work with clients–schools, agencies, individuals and families, I’m also doing a lot of volunteerism. I quit a high risk career that consumed almost all of my time, in favor of social and community justice endeavors, exactly as President Trump was dumped into the Presidency. While some of us are riding the waves of his nationalism for breakfast, many of us are digging deeper into fierce protection of all that is diversely American and having hard talks.
A lot of my time is spent keeping a pulse on community advocacy opportunities, which looks like active management of an online advocacy group for North Deschutes County and neighboring communities. Basically, I listen to, seek out, and amplify the work and words of our longtime social justice workers in Central Oregon. I am learning too much, very quickly. Mostly, I am loving the people.
Decreasing the impact of trauma on our culture is important to me. I approached one of our high schools a couple years ago and asked them to show the documentary film Paper Tigers. They played it for the district administrative staff. Then, they decided to pilot their own foray into nurturing their students and educators a bit differently, and started the work of integrating trauma-informed care practices.
I am the wife of an educator. I believe in our educators. So for the last two years, I’ve been working with the staff intermittently during their self-improvement workshops, along with other community members, to make these significant shifts. This year, another school invited me into their work; I am happy and humbled to be supporting them. I hope this work grows and grows. You learn a lot from ten years in child psychiatry, and it gives a beautiful lens toward how communities best serve and fail our most vulnerable families.
And while some people feel trauma is a daunting label to place on individuals, I am in the camp of people who see it as a human experience that is unavoidable. All people will bump up against trauma, and the faster we embrace that as a culture, the better. With acceptance comes freedom and permission, and we can more readily shift into our healthiest, prosocial, and most beneficial coping strategies.
I’m more than mid-way through with TRE certification. TRE is a series of tension and trauma releasing exercises that helps us blow off steam as we’re accumulating it. I love it, as it has helped me inhabit my body in a softer, more beneficial way. This will be an offering for clients in the near future.
If you have time, check out Kind Wraps, another community service project I piloted, that delivers proprioceptive and mindfulness-based supports to adults and children who’ve been harmed by domestic violence and/or assault.
Breathe Be Brave is my mindfulness and population health RN consultation business. What I’m learning about my community, is that it’s a hard-working community. We love our breweries, our sports, our outdoors events, and going hard. We don’t necessarily make time for yoga and mindfulness. I’m working with that dynamic–the tension between making time to tone the calming side of the nervous system and the fear we’ll never get up again if we do.
And here in Central Oregon, there’s beer and sunshine and wine and lots of distilleries…there’s even beer yoga. And yet, we can all find time for more raw, everyday mindfulness. In fact, we each have our own untapped, infinite well of it, once we learn how to break through the barriers.
Beneath all of that and foremost, I’m a mom; I’m two moms, actually–I’m my daughter’s mom and my son’s mom.
And I’m a wife.
And I’m a dog owner.
And there are three chickens out back.
And I’m learning to play the ukulele.
And I’m going to t-ball and softball, and Lego Robotics, and soccer, and the park, and…we ski.
And in the summer I’m walking, and kayaking with the dog, and paddle boarding, and sitting on the ground in the sun, eating raspberries out of my back yard.
And I’m thinking about learning to swim stronger, and I want to backpack more and more and more.
And I’m slowly, very slowly, learning about my birth mother, and the two daughters she birthed after she left me, and I don’t know how to integrate it all quite yet.
And I’m watching my dad age and hold cancer at bay. (Actually, when I drafted this, that was the case. January 9th my father did succumb to cancer induced cachexia and the complications of charcot, a diabetic condition he fought for over a year. He died at home, and I am so lucky to have been one of his caregivers, soaking in every last minute of him before he left us.)
And I’m watching the mom who raised me learn to crochet and fly solo after just about forty years with an awesome copilot.
And I’m an aunt.
And I’m a sister.
And I’m a friend.
And I’m learning to be even more still and hear my own needs through the din. That’s what I’m doing with my time these days.