“You’re not the same person you were a year ago, a month ago, or a week ago. You’re always growing. Experiences don’t stop. That’s life. And the very experiences that seem so hard when you’re going through them are the ones you’ll look back on with gratitude for how far you’ve come”
I’d be lying if I said I looked back over the past year and immediately felt grateful for everything I’ve been through. As I sit and reflect on the things I’ve gone through and what they have taught me I am able to intentionally offer gratitude for those experiences, but it isn’t a natural first reaction for me. I haven’t “made it” to some super enlightened place of reflection where I feel gratitude, but I am getting better about intentionally being grateful even for – especially for – the struggles I’ve faced. A year ago I had no idea how I was going to survive a year of 20 hours a week of unpaid internship on top of school, parenting, and working. I pushed the limits of what was logistically possible and scheduled my days in 15 minute windows. I learned the importance of planning and communication, setting realistic goals and expectations, and of being present in the moment.
There were so many moments this year where I didn’t know how I was going to make it through the week – let alone the year or my grad school program. The thing about being in grad school for Counseling is that you can’t just run from your issues… they become the homework. I had to address my personal world view, my wounds, my mindset. If I truly wanted to be helpful as a counselor I had to know my own shit. I have had so many moments of clarity reflecting on sessions I’ve had with clients. My daddy issues were clear when I saw my first older white male and had a hard time asserting myself in session. My relationship issues were easy to spot when I had my first client in a toxic, codependent relationship. I was able to recognize these issues and intentionally set them aside when I walked into the room as the counselor. Compartmentalizing wasn’t something I was good at, but it was something I was forced to learn. I have always worn many hats but before this I tried to wear them all simultaneously. Becoming a counselor has forced me to be mindful and intentional about which hat I wear when. I used to be a major supporter of multitasking, but after seeing how much more present I became in my life when I was intentional about what Courtney showed up I firmly believe that being mindfully intentional allows for a greater depth of experience in life than multitasking would ever allow.
So, here I am right now… sitting in my favorite coffee shop intentionally sipping my black mango tea as I reacquaint myself with Courtney the writer. In the madness that has been my life for the last several years Courtney the writer has been quiet. I’ve churned out my fair share of academic papers and “woe is me” journal entries, but the writer I’ve missed has been the one so passionately communicating the words that burn true in my soul. I used to have a pretty popular blog and after awhile the words became empty because I was writing for a specific audience. I miss writing for the freedom it brings me. I have nothing to prove. I’m not trying to be some eloquent poet. I want to share the words that bring life and freedom. The words that everyone wants to hear but no one will say. I want to give people permission to live and feel and express themselves. I want people to feel seen and heard and understood by my words. If just one person reads the words I write and feels a little less alone, that is completely worth it. Words truly are life to me. A gift. It’s no surprise my love language is “words of affirmation.” Words have the power to inspire or to injure. The words you write, speak, or even just the words you think to yourself – they are either building you up or putting you down. Just like I had to learn intentionality with showing up and focusing on being just one thing at a time, I have had to learn how to intentionally focus on the words I speak and think.
I see speaking or thinking positive things about ourselves and others as feathers. Each thought is just a tiny feather being placed on the balancing scale. The negative things we think and speak about ourselves and others are like rocks. Just one weighs the scale down significantly. Its impact is immediately felt. It takes infinitely more instances of intentional positivity to balance the scale out after one instance of negativity. Make sure you are adding feathers to your scale constantly. It’s a never ending battle that must be fought with mindfulness and intentionality. Carry your feathers with you always. Give them away without hesitation. Leave your rocks, don’t carry them with you. When you are tempted to tip the scales with just a slip of the tongue, stop and weigh the impact it will have before you toss it on the scale – scattering the feathers you’ve fought so hard to accumulate.
Show up today. Be intentionally present. Engage mindfully. You are more powerful than you give yourself credit for.