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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Achilles Heel, Gadgets and Life

I haven't been online much so far this week, other than a few check ins at Facebook and Pinterest,  writing a few short e-mails to friends, reading Live Journal and a very few other blogs I follow. It's been a busy week. I was lazy all weekend. I've been exhausted by the work I do. I'm not depressed, just weary. Long early days work days that are stretching into mid evening. Client crisis are already much less than they were last week, but I've got 4 extra collateral meetings this week, and I had clinical supervision by phone on Monday morning before I started the actual work day.

Clinical supervision on Monday was great! I love my Clinical Supervisor. She gave me 2 hours of her time on Monday and it was a great help both professionally and personally. When she began about 3 years ago I was not entirely crazy about her but I've come to really appreciate and LIKE her. We are so often on the same wavelength about therapy with clients, perhaps it helps that her clinical background is that of Social Work, as what I do is actually more like clinical social work than psychotherapy. She listened to me, asked just the right questions about 'my side' of the therapeutic relationship with difficult clients, clients in crisis, and a particular kid who got to me last week with his barbs. I was really doubting my efficacy and ability. Perhaps that is part of my weariness.

After doing the big faceplant inside the front door  at a client's home, for the initial session on Thursday night, the night after a horribly difficult session with a kid who found the chink in my armor on Wednesday night, I realized that the outside door must have caught me on the heel of my right foot. there's a scrape there and I've been limping a bit. Add to that having stubbed the toes on the same foot Friday morning, hard enough to turn three of them purple, it's no wonder I'm limping a bit) It's hard to put your best foot forward when you are hurting. My heel hurts! In supervision Laura talked about how clients often find our "achilles heel". WHAM! It seemed so metaphorical for what had happened in that Wednesday night session and then Thursday, and Friday. I often see body symptoms as manifestations of what is happening in our psyche and spirits. Stubbed toes and limping are also metaphorical for what I've been feeling, experiencing. Laura said that one of the things she's come to know and value about me personally is that I live my life with all my heart, both personally and professionally, she reminded me that when we live that way, work that way, that it holds the risk of having that heart battered aroundd, but that the risk of vulnerability is what makes us "authentic" (something I value personally), and makes the work (and life) all the richer.  I withdrew from the world over the long weekend, healing, resting. Then Monday came and I am back in the fray. However I'm in a much better place this week. I'm accomplishing in bits, catching up on the paperwork, looking forward to sessions and meetings again.

Since I have been working so many hours my paychecks have been bigger, so rather than hoard that money to pay down bills, I decided to purchase some practical but fun items for our household. I think I might have mentioned that I'd ordered a yogurt maker. It came yesterday and Tom washed the machine and the jars yesterday. I'm looking forward to making the first batch again soon. I'm finding that the yogurt maker is one of the "things" that is making me smile.

Making yogurt takes me back to a time when I did frequently make our own yogurt, in a canning kettle over the pilot light on a big old iron Roper Stove on legs, probably from the 1920s era. There are stories attached to that stove, it was a mixed bag the day we got a different more "modern" old stove, and then again when we sold it at a garage sale the summer we had to leave Mt. Carroll to move to Dubuque IA where Tom began his 4 years of seminary at Wartburg Seminary. The 5 years in Mt. Carroll were a bit idyllic, it was a time of great poverty, but we were rich in so many ways. I was happy being a wife and mother, a homemaker, and it was a time in which I was probably my most creative self, making a comfortable home with next to no financial resources, creating gifts out of recycled items from our old clothes, creating delicious meals on a stringent budget, keeping a garden from which I canned food to feed our family, the freedom to be me without ever giving a thought to what others thought about what I was doing, or who I was supposed to be.

I lost sight of that powerful young woman somewhere over the years between  ages 25, but at age 40 began to reclaim her bit by bit, until at 50 I was entirely comfortable with who and what I am, and began to live with that zest for life I'd abandoned when the role of pastor's wife took over in my 30s. Now entering my 60s life is becoming a melding of the past, the present, and the future. My simple purchase of a yogurt maker is much more than just purchasing  another kitchen gadget. It is symbolic of reclaiming parts of who I am in a tangible way. I am a sum of all my experiences, all my dreams that I put on hold for others that are now foremost in my life. The years in the little brick house on Cole Street in Mt. Carroll were a time when I began to experiment with new foods that were not readily available in our eurocentric community. It was in Mt. Carrol that I first made tacos circa 1975 before they were to arrive a couple of years later in a tavern in nearby Savanna IL. What satisfaction I got from making those first corn tortillas, so to celebrate that part of myself reclaimed, I also have a tortilla maker on the way! It should arrive today.

Gadgets for me are not just gadgets, they have meaning far beyond the function of  saving  time and energy in the preparation of food for my household Even in their moderness the tortilla maker and the yogurt maker hold a sort of nostalgia for me. For me, cooking is a sort of practice of sorcery, kitchen witchery, cooking as a sort of ritual, a working for health and wholeness. , an act of creativity that I have abandoned, partially through the reality of the shrinking size of our household, partly on the need to eat differently for health reasons, partly due to the demands on my time with my role as counselor outside the home and all the hours at home that it entails. But mostly it has been a matter of choice of how to spend what time I have left for creativity, it often comes down to having to choose between cooking and working with paints, pencils, fiber, paint.   Perhaps the purchase of these gadgets has to do with choosing to make time for both, balance. But it seems somehow more substantial than just buying gadgets, they in themselves are just gadgets, it's what I do with them that gives them value.

Now she's cooking!


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