Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tomorrow... Tomorrow!

So tomorrow I will be driving to Orlando. Monday I get to start my internship at the most magical (hospital) place I've ever seen!

I'll be surrounded by this

Needless to say- I'm a tad bit excited. Nervous as anything, but excited. I get to learn about the field I love in an environment so conducive to emotional and therapeutic creativity.

Now just say a prayer I can get there safely!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Long day

I drove up to Orlando today to get my official badge made and pick up my parking pass. I figured that would make this a great time to give my Child Life 101 talk... but driving 6+ hours in one day has made me utterly exhausted. So that post will just have to wait for another day.

Mom decided we should watch Enchanted tonight. Not going to lie, its one of my favorites. By day I may be this sophisticated, intelligent, mature young woman... but by night I'm a 4-year old Disney Princess. I may or may not have seen that movie four times when it was in the theater, I also possibly might have coerced my roommate into going with me at midnight the day it came out on DVD and then convinced her to watch it with me right then. There's also a rumor that I can recite the entire movie from memory. I will neither confirm or deny that tidbit.

Regardless, in honor of our 'female bonding time' (plus Wil), and because I'm too tired to write anything of substance, I present to you my single most favorite moment of the entire movie. I'll be honest, I've been known to put the dvd in and watch just this one scene. I mean come on, they recreate the ballroom dance from Beauty and the Beast (my single most favorite animated feature), and it has McDreamy Patrick Dempsey singing in it, what's not to love?!

"A good man might be hard to find, but a good hairdresser is next to impossible"

So you'll have to excuse the lack of focus in my posts for the next week or so. With my internship not starting for another week, my life is a bit all over the place (and I have a bit more time on my hands then I know what to do with- of course I should be using said time to work on my thesis, but lets be honest, that's so not going to happen). In a week's time I promise to regale you with tales of my hospital experiences (devoid of all personally identifying information of course, thank you HIPAA), but for now you must just make due with ramblings of my current daily living.

Today began with the following phone conversation. I woke up this morning and realized that I needed to call my hairdresser Holly to make sure she had time to work me in before I move next week. Still in bed, I open my phone and realize I do not have her number saved. I look up her salon on the internet, finally find a phone number and press send (crossing my fingers that it was the correct number). I promise you, this is word for word how the conversation went:

(Phone rings a good 4-5 times)
"Hey. when can you come in?"
"When are you free?"
"In half an hour"
"Ok I'll be there"
(Hang up)

The whole conversation took, according to the handy timer on my cell phone, 8 seconds. Took me a second (in my half drowsy state) to realize that she does not in fact have ESP... but caller ID.

I should mention that I love my hairdresser. Love isn't the right word. Adore, perhaps. Only Holly would answer the phone like that, totally bereft of any social 'niceties' and get right to the point. Such a loving, caring, giving woman. It doesn't hurt that she's a genius with hair.

I've had a great number of ideas regarding where to take this discussion. Although I knew that conversation was too hilarious not to share (ok maybe not to you, but definitely to me!), I didn't quite know what point I wanted to make. A musing about the control electronics have over our life, so much so that we no longer have the need to formally address the people with whom we converse? Perhaps I could dedicate this post to beaming over the many wonderful individuals who have supported me in one way or another over the past few weeks. Or maybe I could give an in-depth analysis of my self-esteem issues and launch into a diatribe on the problems with our societal views on beauty and fashion.

But instead, I want to talk about trust.

A discussion on trust, exemplified by my regular mid-session freak out.

I have real trust issues when it comes to my hair. I've had one two five way too many bad haircuts in my day; trust me, we have the family photo albums to prove it. The frizzy hippie stage, the 'goldfinger' incident, or really my favorite- the psuedo mullet. That was a fun one, Ally and I had long hair; long, gorgeous, down-to-our-butts hair. Mom went out of town for the weekend, dad took us to a family friend to get a 'trim'; I don't quite remember all the details but I do know a friend had come into town the previous week to visit with a very short bowl cut and perhaps I had asked to emulate it. All I know is that without the maternal presence to control the situation, Ally and I very soon had the most interesting hair cuts--- but I digress. Where was I? oh yes. I have trust issues with my hair.

Enter Holly, the wonderful hairdresser at our church who informed my dad that she felt one way she could give back to God was in taking care of the pastor's family's hair. After a months of this, she convinced me to let her try highlighting mine, and she's been doing so for 2 years.

Holly is a true artist when it comes to hair, never doubt that, I get compliments left and right on my hair (when I actually bother to style it). However, at some point during every session (usually when I see the first glimpse of color after the removal of the foils), I begin wondering what in the hell I've done to myself. I curse myself for having this vain pursuit of beauty, and worry that i may be walking around bald.. or with orange hair.

And then inevitably, Holly works her magic and I end up staring into the mirror, beaming. More often than not, the finished product is different than anything I had pictured in my head, in a good way. The momentary panic subsides over the realization that I was only seeing one piece of the puzzle; there are many more steps to take along the way. Over time I've learned to stop letting those moments of doubt take over, and just trust in the established relationship I have built with the woman who has never let me down. To stay calm and just know that my hair is going to come out looking fabulous.

I bet you can guess where this is going.

I get that way with God too sometimes. Except that I'm still not so great at trusting him to give me a great finished product. I become impatient as I work through a situation, and decide to steal a glance at what is going on. And then, typically, I get distressed at the sight before me and forget that it is really a work in progress, and I am no where near the finish line. I look around and see my life in chaos, deadlines not being met, people letting me down, relationships in turmoil, and I wonder: Why? I get distracted by the mess in front of me and starting doubting that God has any real plan for making something worthwhile and meaningful out of my life. Yet, if I take a step back and re-examine many of the times in my life when I have felt that way, I realize now it was all part of the journey to something even greater than I could have imagined.

As I mentioned, I'm still not so great at the trusting God. I say I do, I try to convince myself that I do, but when the foils start coming off I panic. It's a daily struggle for me, one I'm sure I'm not alone on. As I survey a lot of the 'chaos' I've encountered over the past 6 months, I feel like my life is on the cusp of something major, and that God is in the process of unveiling something wonderful, but I'm realizing I am still a few steps away from being at that final stage.

But until then, at least my hair looks great!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Every so often I feel as if God strips me of control in a situation for the sole purpose of teaching me to trust him. Last night was such an experience.

As I finished writing my inaugural post, I clicked the publish button, and then began planning my next move. I figured it was time to start 'following' other blogs, and let others know I had started this endeavor. My next post began writing itself in my head. A description of my internship, what child life is (and isn't), my hopes and dreams for this experience. How little did I really know what was in store....

I decided to check in on my email before I did such tasks. So right at about 5 pm, I opened my school account and saw an email from my internship supervisor at the hospital. The pit in my stomach dropped as I just KNEW it was not going to be good news. Sure enough, I received this email:

Bethany, I just spoke with our corporate education department to check on the status of your internship paperwork.  Documents critical to the completion of your becoming an intern at Arnold Palmer Hospital have not been received by their office.  Our policy is that all documentation must be on file no later than five days prior to the start of the internship or the student experience is cancelled without opportunity to reclaim it.  If those completed documents are received by 8 AM Tuesday, January 25, 2011, we can proceed.  However, if that is not the case, the internship will be cancelled.

I literally stared at the screen for a few seconds before breaking down into inconsolable sobs. My parents came running into the room and as I gasped out what was happening, my mind started whirling trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. It was after 5 at this point, so despite my efforts to call all of my contacts at ECU and Arnold Palmer, not a single person was in their office. I sent an email to the ECU individuals asking if any of them had a clue what was going on, and started gathering electronic copies of everything I had thought was already in their hands to resend. The heart of the problem though was that I had no idea whether the missing document was my fault or that of my internship adviser at ECU. Said lady is one of the nicest women you will ever meet, but also THE most scatterbrained. I am just the next in a list of individuals who have either almost lost their internship or were delayed because she failed to send in the correct paperwork.

I'll spare you the details of the long ordeal, but eventually it came out that this supervisor had indeed forgotten to send in my paperwork, and rushed to do so before the night was over. I spent a great many hours crying, calling friends, praying, sending in whatever I could- but there came a point where I had to stop. There was nothing else I could do. The paperwork had been sent, all we could do was wait and see if it was what was missing. I had no control, all I could do was pray.

Prayer is an interesting thing for me. I don't feel that I quite do it right. I learned a long time ago that God doesn't say 'yes' to everything you ask for, and often what he says no to are the things you really don't need to begin with. So I've stopped asking for things. I guess I've just figured that God is going to do what he wants anyways, and when you pray about things you get your hopes up, just to have them dashed. Again.

But here's the thing- I truly 100% feel like this internship was what GOD wanted me to do, not just something I had cooked up. Some other time perhaps I'll share the full story of how I discovered (and fell in love with) child life, but suffice to say that this has been a true calling. Up to this point, everything had just aligned for me to start at Arnold Palmer; it had been my first choice and to get accepted at one of the top hospitals in not just the state but the entire country had been such a blessing. Every detail had fallen into place with little to no effort on my part, a sure sign in my mind that I was on the right track. To be this close and almost stripped of my opportunity threw me through a loop. Now what? If I lost the spot, how would I graduate? Would it even be worth my time and effort to reapply for fall internships? Did I have the strength to do this whole process over?

I suppose now would be a great time to equate this situation with my current romantic endeavors (or lack there of), and the need to put yourself out there and take chances to find love- but lets be honest, that just gets sappy and predictable.

So ultimately, there I was last night. Sitting on pins and needles, unsure of what my future held. I opened my devotional to go to bed (I've decided to reread the 40 days of purpose, purely on a whim), and I read the following passages:

"God smiles when we trust him completely...Trusting God completely means having faith that he knows what is best for your life. You expect him to keep promises, help you with problems, and do the impossible when necessary"

How perfect. "You expect him to... do the impossible when necessary." But here's the thing: I really don't. Not normally. I have felt so abandoned by God at times in the past 6-7 years that I have stopped expecting him to do great things in my life. Other peoples' lives? Sure. But not mine. So I took a leap last night, I asked God for something. I told him that I felt justified in asking him to do the impossible because I really thought I was on the right track. I told him how much this internship meant to me, and I asked him to intervene.

Needless to say I did not sleep well last night (although I supposed we can just blame my insomnia for that one), but when I woke up this morning I had received an email saying my paperwork had been processed, and I was set to go pick up my ID Badge and parking pass to start on Monday.

And God smiled at me in that see-I-really-do-know-what's-best-for-you way.

So what was the point of this experience? To teach me that I do not have control over my life? To make me realize how much I truly value and cherish this experience? To prepare me to enter the internship with a spirit of humility?

Perhaps, but I also think God purposefully puts me in these situations to make me reach out to others. I have  a hard time admitting that I'm wrong. I have a hard time opening myself to others and asking for help; if you don't have expectations, you won't be let down. I have a hard time needing people. But last night, I needed them. I needed my friends to reach out and love on me; to let me know that I was not forgotten or ignored. To lift me up in prayer, and support me no matter what.

When all is said and done, I truly am blessed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The start of a new chapter

There are probably a few things you should know about me right from the beginning. Alright, there are a great number of things you might need to know (especially if you were to converse with any of my very dear, but very honest, friends), but I have no desire to overwhelm you so close to the start. First and foremost, you should know that I can, at times, be slightly stubborn.

There. I said it. I admitted it. Although God has seen fit to bless me with a great number of blessings and talents, there are quite a few character-building qualities I was not granted. Patience is one of those traits. Humility would be another. I am dedicated, I am loyal. I commit to the things in my life 100% and see them through to the end. However, being able to take a step back from that dedication and realize that I am wrong or, even worse, recognizing that someone else is right, is not always the easiest thing for me to do. So the idea of putting myself out there, making myself transparent for a world full of strangers, and openly admitting to my (daily) transgressions was not overly appealing.

Second, I have yet to include the word 'no' in my vocabulary. Perhaps it is my ever-present need for approval and success that drives me to take on  more than any normal person can handle, but I constantly find myself with more items on my to-do list than I have time to dedicate to said list. I blame my mother. Not in a negative way, but in a the-woman-can-do-anything-and-can-take-on-anything-and-everything-she-comes-across type way. My family is driven on motivations and achievement. We take on the world and don't stop until we are so exhausted we can not take another step.

Unfortunately that pace and lifestyle has recently come back to bite me. Those who know me well are aware that I have struggled with anxiety issues my entire life; I hide them quite well, typically only my closest friends who have known me a while are aware of how pervasive these problems can be a times. However, in the past few months as my health has suffered (and my insomnia worsened), I have come to the realization that I need to start using the word 'no' more often, and take time to myself to relax.

All this is to say, when I felt God nudging at my heart to start a public blog as I enter this next phase of my life, I was not too enthralled at the idea.

I'm no stranger to internet journaling; in fact throughout the end of high school and a good portion of my undergraduate years I had a 'livejournal' that I frequented quite regularly. It was a great way to stay in touch with friends as we all went our separate ways, a tool for chronicling my daily happenings, and later, an emotional outlet for dealing with my anxiety and depression. Yet, over time my willingness to openly share my thoughts and opinions came back to hurt me as the information fell into the hands of those who were careless with the power it wielded, and as life took so many twists and turns I began to wonder if these happenings were events I would want to remember in the future.

You should also know that I have a thing for metaphorical attributions in my daily life. My past journals became a symbol for the pain and strife I had experienced while they were in use, and I felt the need to wipe the slate clean, to start anew.

So I was hesitant when I felt that little nudge. I know my life will be far busier than anything I have ever experienced as I begin my internship next week (see future posts for explanation of that!). I know I will be entering a season of my life that will incorporate a lot of growth, but with growth comes challenges and learning opportunities. Do I really feel comfortable sharing my struggles with an unknown audience? I had gone that route before and look where it had left me!

I put the thought aside, figuring it was one of those fleeting ideas that would pass with time. I smiled when I saw another child life intern student start her own blog (using similar premises). I shrugged off the blog posts that seemed to write themselves in my mind before I could stop.  I ignored the chapter in my devotional book that  talked about journaling being a great outlet for releasing tensions and troubles.

Yet when a close friend mentioned in passing last night (Completely unaware) "you know, you should really start a blog. I have a feeling the experiences you are going to encounter over the next few months could really touch a lot of people's lives", I decided it was probably time to stop ignoring God and take a leap of faith.

So there we are. A (long-winded) explanation of how we got to this point. To all of you who may end up taking this journey with me, I ask for your prayers and patience as we stumble along this path. I ask for your prayers that I may truly humble my heart and listen for God's direction, and your patience through my stubbornness (and occasional grammatical slips).

God doesn't call the equipped... he equips the called. Let's hope those words prove true!

God Bless.