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i did it.

Technically I completed my Master of Arts in Counseling on March 9, 2019. On May 11 I got to dress up in an overpriced robe while sitting in the rain for hours to glide across a stage while someone I didn’t know read my name. But it was more than just a symbol of the completion of academic requirements. It was extremely symbolic for me in ways I haven’t really been ready to process until now.

January 7, 2017 I walked onto the Webster Groves campus as a naive 29 year old. I had been married for 9 years and I had a 7 year old daughter. My then husband was nearing the end of his Masters program and I thought after supporting him through his career change it was my turn. Just over two months later I was all of a sudden a 30 year old single mom. I had emotional whiplash. What began as a way to explore my curiosity of the human mind turned into my lifeline in more ways than I would ever know. I can truly say without a doubt if I was not in the Counseling program when my marriage fell apart, I wouldn’t have dealt with it as well as I did.

I was in class when a text conversation with my ex-husband turned from what are we going to do now to a conversation about a “trial separation” *eyeroll* He was moving out and I was supposed to be learning about the Theories of Counseling. Tears silently rolled down my cheeks as I tried to bury my head in my book. My world crashed that night. Completely crumbled. The foundation I had spent most of my life building was gone in the blink of a text notification.

Not even a full semester into my 2+ year graduate program I was facing the most difficult challenge of my nearly three decades of life. While many people would have given up on school, I did the opposite. I threw myself into it completely. I knew that I wanted a better life for myself and my daughter. I knew I couldn’t just quit. I needed a career to support myself. But mostly, I knew if I didn’t have something I could control – something to distract me from the pain – something to keep me busy…. I would lose it. And so, I stayed busy. I was used to always being busy being mom, but when I only had her half the time i didn’t know what to do with myself. So, when she was gone I focused on school. I wrote papers, read books, and for over a year worked 20 hours a week at an unpaid internship. I had several relationships come and go. But, grad school was always there.

and then suddenly it wasn’t.

it has been 3 months since i completed my last class. and this is the first time i’m really sitting down to process what grad school was for me. see, if i don’t write about it that means it isn’t real. it isn’t over. my safety net isn’t gone. despite all the classes, supervision, and personal counseling i’ve been through the idea of me just sitting with who i was on that January day and who i am now is overwhelming.

so, i deflect and replace. i had a full time position before i even completed my last class. and i have thrown myself into that work so completely. i am a substance abuse counselor at an inpatient rehab facility, working specifically with women – many who have experienced extreme trauma. i’ve worked long hours doing hard work. again, it was a distraction from taking the time to process my feelings. i’ve avoided writing because i know once i begin to open up the flood of feelings will come. i’ve started a million versions of this post in my head, but it wasn’t until I tried to call someone out on avoiding their most prominent and successful coping skill that i realized how much i’ve been avoiding mine. *insert meaningful quote about practicing what you preach* so, here we are.

grad school saved me because it gave me something to focus on when my world wouldn’t stop spinning. my work energizes and challenges me because i have to look at my own shortcomings before pointing out any in others. they have been healthy and useful, but if i don’t find balance now and allow myself to explore other ways of coping with the insanity that is my life it is possible that i could see burnout, a common end to even some of the most prominent names in counseling, far sooner than most would. enough distracting and deflecting. i’m here, right now. processing and letting that shit go.

in the spirit of the adorable marie kondo i will say thank you to my grad school career for serving me well in my time of need. thank you for bringing me structure and balance when i had none. thank you for teaching me that i can do things that may seem impossible. thank you for giving me the opportunity to show my daughter what persistence and passion can add up to.

clearly, it can add up to a really expensive piece of paper you frame and hang on the wall. ha.

cheers to the end of the beginning of the rest of my life!

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Guest Post: Counting Our Cupcakes

Hello lovelies! I’m Allie from Counting Our Cupcakes— where I like to blog about running, weight  loss, my infertility, and beauty products! I am so grateful that Courtney is allowing me to high jack her blog today while she basks away in the sunshine! ((jealous))

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Today I want to blog about how I am adding in weight training, and piggy back on Courtney’s word for 2013, INTENTIONAL.

Weight loss and getting to a healthier life style doesn’t happen over night. It requires planning and being INTENTIONAL.

You have to be INTENTIONAL about your eating, whether that’s counting calories, meal planning, and stocking the house with healthy things. ((for me, I have to be very intentional about all of the above))

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You have to be INTENTIONAL about your workouts too!! My workouts of choice are running and yoga. However, I know that muscle burns more fat, and even though I know running and yoga are great, I need to do more weight training to build muscle. BUT I HATE WEIGHT TRAINING!!

 Ok, maybe I don’t hate it, but I don’t like it. The reasons are pretty dumb, because they’re the same reasons I used to not like to run or workout period.

It’s HARD! I’m NOT good at it!


Heard that before?? Yea, most of us struggle with feelings of inadequacy, but when we step up, and do what we’re afraid todo (whatever the reason)  we end up feeling GREAT about ourselves! WE DID IT!

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I never would have thought a year ago that I would enjoy running, or yoga for that matter, but I DO!! Because I challenged myself and I stuck with it.

 
I tell you this because it spills over into how I’m adding in weight training. Right now, I’m trying to weight train twice a week. My plan is to get it in before yoga, since I’ll already be at the gym, and I do yoga twice a week. I’m actually writing down my workouts to keep myself accountable and keep track ((PS It’s incomplete)).


For starters I’m just using the machines at my lil gym. I’ll do all the machines for legs one day, and then all the machines for arms the next day. Right now, that’s where I’m comfortable and feel like I can find success. Legs are really my favorite to workout ((bc they are stronger, and easier…. And bc I’m a runner)).

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Arms are a different story. Oh, my upper body is weak! Gotta start somewhere though folks! Building my upper body will help me with yoga too. ((I haven’t quite figured out what my plan is for my core, but it gets a good work out in yoga.))


Everything works together folks!! Little changes add up to big changes!!!

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Thank you so much for sharing with us, Allie! Guys- Be sure to check out her blog, Counting Our Cupcakes. She is so inspiring and brave to share her journey with weight loss and struggles with infertility. You’ll love her. She is one of my most recent blog crushes 😉

How are you going to be intentional this year?

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Blog Swap! Guest Post from Striding Mom

I’ve got a treat for you today!! I have my fellow Sweat Pink Ambassador, Shelia from Striding Mom, popping in to say hi. Guys, I’m not joking when I say her blog is one of the funniest things I read on a daily basis. She is real, what you read is what you get from her! You can follow her on twitter too @StridingMom. Here she is!


 

I’m Sheila, also known as Striding Mom.  Courtney and I are fellow Sweat Pink Ambassadors.  I have to say, reading Courtney’s blog has been an increasing source of encouragement for me.  I love a good success story and hers is totally motivating!

Courtney and I opted to tell our “greatest accomplishment” story today.  If you’d like to see my failures, epic fails and general misadventures, you’ll have to read my almost daily musings on my blog.

Choosing my greatest achievement – that was hard!  I dappled with ideas.  Race stories – nah.  Surviving toddler adoption – too emotional to revisit.  Surviving the rhythmic gymnastics contest – it’s my fault for watching it.

My best option for a few days was that after 7 years of mothering my boys are in one piece – relatively speaking.  Then on one morbidly hot and devastatingly difficult run it hit me – my greatest achievement is accepting that I am a work in progress.

I spent almost my entire life vacillating between what I thought I should be and what I thought others should be.  Athlete – too tomboyish, run straight to ballet, too girly, back to sports, too tomboyish, back to cheerleading.  You get the picture.  After college I spent most of my 20’s living in the in-between place:  hopping between what I thought I should be and what I thought everyone wanted me to be.

In my mid-20’s I moved from Peoria, Illinois (yes THE “will it play in Peoria?” Peoria) to Orange County, California.  For a girl who thinks that Under Armour running shorts and a sports bra constitute a classy outfit, the land of Botox, fake boobs and designer labels was a shock.

And while 30 greets you with the sad truth that, well, it’s all downhill from here with the advent of tiny eye wrinkles, slowed metabolism and all sorts of other fun treats, something magical happened for me.  I started to embrace that I was a work in progress.

I am who I am.

Are there things I love?  Absolutely.  I love being a mom, making people laugh, writing, pushing my body to its limits, etc.

Are there things I hate?  Oh my word yes.  I’m inpatient, spend too much time thinking about what I should’ve said, could’ve done, etc.  But learning that I’m a work in progress and being okay with that – well, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

I still struggle with accepting who I am – which shows up as fear, insecurity, and other fun side effects.  But I’m on my way, and it’s somewhere I never thought I’d be!


See? I told you she was hilarious! And Smart. And Beautiful. And she owes me $5 for every nice thing I say about her. Be sure to check out my post over at Sheila’s blog today too and leave her some love! Also, check out Katie’s blog for a complete set of links to the sweat pink blog swap. Thanks, Katie for organizing this!