It’s Official: I’m in the Sandwich Generation

It’s official, I am now part of the sandwich generation. This week, I was bombarded with a sick child and a sick parent.

My father had kidney stones and went in for a procedure today (he’s totally fine). I’m glad his lady companion is so attentive of him. I called Pop before heading out for the day. Though he was a bit down, he perked up when I said I’d call to check on him this afternoon, which I did. I got the report that he was doing well and would be good enough to go back to work next week.

And kiddo, well, he picked up a virus from somewhere. It’s not harmful, but according to his pediatrician, it’s an epidemic among kids. Kiddo had a raging fever Saturday morning that stayed until Sunday morning. The fever medication brought it down so he was fine. But, kiddo woke up Monday morning with small warts on his hands and elbows!  A couple of them popped, gross! Kiddo said that they hurt, but the doc gave me a week’s worth of antibiotics so he’ll be just fine.

And all of this with less than two months on the new job. Fun right? Onto the next sandwich generation adventure!

This post has a Compensation Level of 0. Read Heiddi’s Disclosure Policy.

Proud Mommy Moments

Just had to share that my son ROCKS! This year has been full of challenges, but also many amazing moments. As mother to a child with ADHD and a smartypants to boot, I’ve been challenged to step up and be a better mom. And while I’ve felt like the world’s worst mom sometimes, my son shows me how amazing he is and how truly blessed I am just to be his mom.

For the first time he received second honors in school with a 90 average.  He earned a ribbon also for “Most Improvement.” See how proud he is? I’m so very proud of him.

Even more awesome is his generous heart. Last Thursday, he won his class spelling bee and won two tickets to tonight’s Yankee game. And what did he do with them? He took his father to the game for a Father’s Day gift. And no, I’m not jealous that he didn’t take me. It’d be nice to go to a game with him someday, but I’m happy with knowing my son is a sweet, persevering kid who just doesn’t quit.

Mommy loves you kiddo!

The Highs & Lows of Solo Parenting

Now that Mother’s Day is upon us, I’ve been thinking about my life as a single mom. For the most part, I’m happy. I’ve got a great kid who has been a blessing in my life, my education and a great home.

A couple of weeks ago, kiddo scored second honors (90 average)  at school for the first time ever. I cried, I was so happy and proud of him. Hugging him tightly I told him how much I love him and how proud I was. I also thought of all of the work it took to get him to earning second honors.

I thought of the hours of work to earn money for  tuition, uniforms, after-school. I also thought of the time and money spent on therapy, evaluations and finally medication to address his ADHD, which was severely hampering his ability to focus on his schoolwork. Even with very little support from family (who disagree with my parenting style/decisions), but great support from my friends, I kept going.

There have been many times I’ve wanted to quit, run away or stop the world from happening because things were so bad for me. And before my son, I did. I went from college to work to college to work and had no idea what I wanted to do in life. I had no direction and indeed not much love for myself.

And the voices of people who doubted me became my truth. Until kiddo showed up. I was a young mom, very naive and unprepared. And even though I was legally an adult, I was VERY immature. I’ll be the first to admit that. But, I learned. And learned and learned. I’m STILL learning. Every single day. I learned my own strength is very powerful. My love endless and boundless. And my son, precious.

One family member (an old-school person with old-school parenting ideas) told me that he wished I had kiddo later on in life. I was 22 when I found out I was pregnant. My reply: I’m glad I had kiddo when I did. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be the woman that I am today.

Here I am without a full time job, bills to pay and a child to raise – and yet, I KNOW I will be just fine. Kiddo’s being taken care of, I’ve got the resources to pay my bills (haven’t fallen behind) and I’m happy. No, life isn’t perfect, but being a mom, and now a single mom for two years, I’m happy.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there. And Happy Mother’s Day to me, because dammit! I deserve to give myself a huge pat on the back.

This post has a compensation level of 0. Please read Heiddi’s Disclosure Policy.

Job Search Challenge

I’ve been looking for a new job since early January. The job that I began in December was not a good fit so I quit. I was able to do this and manage well. But for someone who has been employed since adolescence, not having a job hasn’t been easy.

I’m used to being very busy. The first few weeks of unemployment found me practicing good self-care – sleeping well, eating well and catching up with my support network. (I’d lost all of these things while at that other job along with a few pounds.) I believe that good self-care allows people to work at their best. So I caught up with that.

Now that I’ve been out of work for three months, I have been keeping busy in other ways. I have been on interviews, sent out countless resumes, & even revamped my resume (several times) but haven’t landed the right job. But Heiddi, why not just take any job? I choose not to take any job because I’ve worked too hard for too long to take a step back.

Taking any job just to have one isn’t my thing. I worked my way from “any job” to a job working with children and families. Going to graduate school and earning a license was supposed to open up career options and  help move me forward in my career.

What I’ve found though is that most people don’t know what my license is. (I’m a Licensed Bilingual Mental Health Counselor, btw.) It is a very new license and has only been issued since the year 2000. Here is a definition from the NY Mental Health Association, which is an “advocacy organization representing the clinical counselors of New York State. Our continuing role is to protect and enhance the rights of counselors to practice our profession.”

The challenge for me has been the lack of awareness that the LMHC is the equivalent to an LCSW or a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I wanted to share this to educate others about licensed Mental Health Counselors. I’m also trying to stay positive about my job search by sharing this information. And for the record, my dream job would be to work on an in-patient psyche unit for kids and teens in NYC.

For anyone looking for work, keep moving forward and don’t lose sight of your dreams. I’ve learned to think outside of the box when it comes to job seeking. I’ve also learned that I’m very blessed to have my support network of family and friends who love and care for me. So, while I haven’t yet landed my dream job, I do know that my support network rocks! And I’m so grateful.

This post has a Compensation Level of 0.

Click here to read Heiddi’s Full Disclosure Policy.

Catching up with myself

This week brought me one major accomplishment – passing my licensing exam. I rarely share it here, but one career goal is to be a licensed professional in my field.  No more waiting for the exam date, no more stressing out over what I know or don’t know and no more darn studying.

I’d been studying for seven months now and felt stuck in other aspects of my life because I was waiting to pass this one exam. I stuck with it because I knew that gaining my licensure would open many doors.  I’m in shock right now that something I set out to do six years ago has finally come to pass.

I realized that this morning as I shared the news with a friend. Six years from the time I started grad school until now. The first thing I wanted to do was sleep because I hadn’t slept well for several nights prior to the exam. To suddenly have the weight of this lifted from my shoulders and see this huge goal achieved has really caused me to stop and reflect on what I want to do next.

Of course, the next step is to find a new dayjob with my shiny, new license (ie better pay and better hours). Then I started thinking of what else I wanted to accomplish because I really can do anything I put my mind to.  So, I thought about my writing.

I’ve felt stunted in the writing process simply because it wasn’t my central focus for the last several months. I still wrote, but not in a planful way because I didn’t make the time for it. My time was for studying and building up my self-confidence for the exam.

I’ve now been doing research on breaking into magazines (yet again), but with small goals in mind. I’m starting with fillers just to get my feet wet. I’m also doing research on effective blogging so that I can grow The Freshman Writer blog as well as to market myself better as a blogger in general.

I can see that my writing talent now is in blogging. Since I know I can blog, why not put my energy into it? Other ways I’m catching up with myself is to focus on things that I love doing – writing, reading and having time to myself. I really missed just being me.

My Date with Regis & Kelly

Well, the hot topic of this week is my date last week with Regis & Kelly. A wonderful friend of mine (@elgeorgia on twitter) mentioned that she got tickets to the show. When I told her I couldn’t stand her, she said that she’d like for me to go. You know I began showering her with compliments after that!

Needless to say, I had an amazing time! The show was great with Regis & Kelly so warm and welcoming to the audience. Gelman was great, too, in making everyone feel comfortable. The studio was very intimate and I felt like I was at home watching on television, except I couldn’t hug the tv the way I hugged Kelly after meeting her.

That’s right, I went with my pal and her two sons to meet Regis & Kelly. Regis is an absolute gentleman and Kelly, she’s just amazing. Below is my shot with Kelly. My pal truly made it my month! lol Maybe even my year just for this invite. Thanks again @Elgeorgia. Love you!

My Struggle with Self-doubt

Hola people. Hope this finds you well and much better than I’ve been in the last several months. My last post here was ages ago and unfortunately, my joy did not last very long.

Since April of this year, I’d been struggling at my current day job (which is highly stressful and taxing physically, emotionally and mentally) with all of the responsibilities that weighed heavily on my shoulders. It led to my irregular eating and sleeping habits, which left me 12 lbs lighter and sleep-deprived.

I also must add that the emotional and mental toll didn’t make my outlook any better. Because I felt ineffective and without control at my dayjob, that also funneled down to my writing.

My spirit took a battering over the last few months, leaving me doubtful of any talent (counseling or writing) I have. So, I took the break from writing. I got off the blogs, stopped tweeting (OMG! I know) and disconnected really from the computer. It was a needed break that I didn’t allow myself.

I allowed myself not to be a writer for a while and try to remember why I wanted to write (and counsel) in the first place. I also took the time to reflect on my spirituality and counted my blessings again. I’m looking more and more for the positive and have been reaching out to other writers and motivators to help me get back on track.

I’ve recruited a great friend to be my accountability partner and ask me about my writing. She did and so I had to report what I’d done so far and what I’d be doing tonight. lol It was great and not so great at the same time. Great because she was checking up on me and not, because she was checking up on me.

I connected with a few mentors about my situation and received so much support an understanding. I also decided to take baby steps by journaling semi-regularly as well as writing down random thoughts that I had along the way. It’s helped too that I put my writing journal back in my purse where it belongs. No more excuses, I’m writing again.

I’m reading “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch to remind me of my dreams and why I set out to write/counsel. I’ll be giving it a long, thorough read-through this time around.

While I still have doubt, it’s no longer the big monster that loomed over my head before this weekend. Hopefully, I can keep the doubts away by connecting with my writer pals/mentors, being held accountable by my friend, remembering my dreams and of course, writing.

Til next time!

Joy and how I found it again

This week’s Prosperous Writer newsletter by Christina Katz asked its readers to talk about joy. I had to stop and think for a while on this because I forgot when I lost my joy.

I know that my highly stressful day job worked me to the bone, kept me from spending quality time with kiddo and got me into easy spats with my son’s father. When the usual case was for me to be a trooper and joyfully live well, it just wasn’t so from April through the first week of June.

Thanks to the advice of my wonderful pastor, I went to a weekend retreat for women in Riverdale, NY. Yes, still in the Bronx, but far enough for me to find my joy again. A weekend for me to breathe, not worry about kiddo or cooking and sleeping in a box big enough to hold a twin-sized bed, simple desk and sink.

I had time to separate myself from those things that were stealing my joy primarily the day job, not sleeping or eating well and not spending enough time with my favorite kid in the whole wide world. It was enough for me to be joyful again. Not necessarily well-rested or with a hearty appetite again, but enough to make some changes. Looking for a new job and spending time away from the computer until I found the joy again in writing, which I had also lost as a result of the stress from the job.

The only writing I did over the weekend was journaling my thoughts and conversations with God. Complaining of course, but also to ask what was the point of all of this for me. Regardless of the answer, I was able to hear and accept it with a joyful, open heart.

That first weekend in June allowed me to regain a sense of appreciation for everything in my life and allowed me space from the joylessness of my job. Joy is about being able to laugh in the midst of hard times and remembering why I’m doing the things that I do. Remembering that I want to help others through counseling as well as through writing and remembering that my child brings me joy.

I had forgotten that in the midst of the chaos of several weeks and reconnected with my spirit. By doing so, I was able to let go of a lot of anger and negativity. And recuperated my joy. Joy in myself, my writing and my life.