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1. Went to Japan: This year probably the biggest thing that happened was our Japan trip with a group of 5 amazing people. The trip itself had its stress of planning, but overall it all came together really well. We got to share the place we lived for 3 years with our friends, spend time in places we didn't always spend a lot of time in, and have all sorts of adventures. I turned 31 in Japan! The coolest part is that we all got along. There were no major fights or even really any small ones. How we set up the trip let people have space or be together. Everyone had a fair amount of freedom. A smile I particularly have is traveling with Aaron. If you had told either of us on the first day of grad school that we'd go to Japan together, we both would have probably looked at you funny. Numerous school psych trips and now one for fun, Aaron remains a great travel buddy.

2. Celebrated 9 years of marriage: [livejournal.com profile] dorchadas and I have been together for 11 years and married for 9 of them! It's hard to believe that this year is our 10 year anniversary. He is a wonderful partner and it's been an honor to grow with him over the years.

3. Tried Air classes: I have been wanting to take a class here for a while but didn't want to go alone and wasn't really sure who to ask. One of the best gifts this year has been the amazing adventuring buddy that is Topher! It hit me like a bolt out of the blue that he was exactly the person to do this with. His response was an enthusiastic yes! We hit a basic Air fitness class and were sweat buckets (between Air and Bikram and running, Sweat and Breath became a theme for our dynamic). We tried the much cheaper 6 dollar Air community yoga class and both fell in love with that space. Hanging upside down and pushing myself in a different way has been so fun. More Air in 2017!

4. Started a fiction blog: I developed a new understanding of writers from having this blog. I was very consistent up until I went to Japan and then I got off schedule and had a hard time getting back on. I got in my own head about what I was writing, needing every story to be GREAT. I also hit a depression spike just as I started to get back on track that robbed me of my motivation and will to do things anyway. Some people can just write and solider through it but I struggled here. I loved writing and I loved getting to hear how my writing affected people. I looked at bringing it back this year, instead of doing 2 big stories a month having one big one and then some short stories or drabbles. I learned I really like writing drabbles.

5. Went to a con alone: I went to C2E2 alone, admittedly I met up with people when I got there, but I was not part of a group or traveling with someone until I met up with Travis and Keeley. And I had a lot of fun! I got my picture taken and took some great pictures! I got to meet Phil Noto who said he loved my Widow costume! I stood up to people who took my picture without asking. And it gave me the chance to see and connect with people I don't see very often. I'm looking to go with people this year, but it was a good reminder that I can go somewhere alone and not be stranded.

6. Ended therapy: I have been working the same therapist for 3.5 years. She has seen me through a lot of life changes and personal growth. But the world doesn't stop changing and I'm so happy she got the promotion she did, even if it meant we would no longer be working together. She improved me as a person and as a therapist. Having her tell me that she thought I was "ready" meant a lot to me. I'm seeing where I'm at now, if therapy is something I need at this moment or how often that might be. We'll see and I'm so grateful for my therapist and who she helped me grow into being.

7. Became the facilitator for my EDA group: Less than a week after my therapist said we were going to be ending our helping relationship, I also found out there were no interns to lead the EDA group and they asked me to do it. It took me a while to find who I was as a facilitator in the meetings and I worried that attendance would die. I also sometimes struggle to balance "rachel the participant" with "Rachel the facilitator". I am profoundly grateful for all the people who have made this role easier: From the friend who gives me a ride there every week, the friends who are regulars and let the group basically run itself, and the friends who aren't in group but provide me with encouragement.

8. Got my story published in the EDA big book: I started writing it this year and also got it published. One of the biggest things is that while I initially let a friend take the first pass at editing it, we both realized this was not a work that it was appropriate to have a friend edit. I re-wrote a lot of it and sent it in. They made no changes to the original work and accepted it for publication. When you get to the non-founder stories, mine is the first one. In a way, writing the story keeps me honest with myself. I want to be the person in the story and live up to the standard I set for myself.

9. Visited Asheville: I spent most of my summers in NC and it felt good to be back in the mountains. I loved doing all the hiking and taking in slightly warmer climbs outdoors. I had a blast going to dance church and sleeping on the bus with Teresa. She makes a badass bonfire too, and spending that time with my sister felt super important. We went contra dancing and I had so much fun being a beginner and had some wonderful leads. It was also a trip that had its downsides and kind of marks the beginning of the end of my friendship with Bucky. However! Being outside! Animals! Trees! Hiking! Bus Sleepovers! Teresa! All happy things from that visit.

10. LARPed with my husband: [livejournal.com profile] dorchadas has not LARPed since we were dating at Knox. We both joined the Scion LARP: Terrible Burden of Destiny as Scions of Izanami and Izanagi and it was an absolute blast. Taking about game with him instead of at him, having him at game to play off of, watching him write backstory, oh so much fun! I'm sad he's not in the Dresden LARP and I'm also super grateful/excited to have Topher as my right hand Warden for this game.

11. Became the anime club sponsor: We split the Table Top Games club from the anime club thanks to my awesome co-sponsor and I officially took over anime club! I was worried it was going to stay small but the club exploded! It went from like 7 kids to 35. It's a club that is diverse and full of enthusiastic students who just love having a space to hang out with an episode in the background. They also all think that I am super cool. I got full marks on my evaluation as a club sponsor and I am so happy to be doing it again next year. I'm bringing them on a field trip to A-cen so if you see me with a horde of teenagers, come say hi!

12. Cosplayed with my husband: [livejournal.com profile] dorchadas and I haven't cosplayed together since before Japan when we did Yoko and Kamina from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagen. This year we did Ender-kun and Creeper-Tan. I was surprised by how many people wanted to take our pictures. [livejournal.com profile] dorchadas made his earth cube prop, and while it was a bit stressful it photographed really well! It was so great to have a project to work on together and to walk around A-cen as part of a duo rather than as a solo cosplayer. This year at C2E2 we have Sauron and Morgoth. I'm super excited!!

13. Learned I have SAD: I think for a long time I just thought it was my eating disorder. or that it was just life circumstances. But friends, in October I hit a really objectively awful patch of this that drew my attention to all the small things. The waking up super early, the lack of motivation, the inability to focus, all the symptoms I had put aside. Mornings were the worst, these sucking pits of loneliness and dark thoughts I'd rather not share here. I had been in talk therapy for a while and was using every coping skill I had and still could not shake it. So finally, after a lot of support I talked to my doctor. We both talked about the possibility of a seasonal pattern and he suggested a light box before we try medication. Within 3 days of using it I noticed a major difference in my energy and mood. I've had motivation! I can read more! I can focus! I'm social with my coworkers! And I want to thank everyone for being so validating and supportive. It feels good to be back to me for more than just the short Chicago summers.

14. Stood up for myself: I did this in many ways this year! From setting boundaries with students and parents, yelling at street harassers, badass moments of Keeley and I explaining consent to an asshole photographer, to ending a friendship that had become emotionally abusive. I have learned a lot from where I was in high school and reflecting on the abusive relationship I was in senior year taught me to stop blaming myself for staying, that wasn't what my role in that situation was. My role was that I didn't trust the part of me that said "This hurts and is not good" and didn't think I was worth standing up for myself. Now if I can translate that into standing up more for others, interrupting rather than condoning with my silence.

15. Ran my summer school program: Well, was part of running it. My role changed unexpectedly and I had tons of support from the program veterans as well as my friends and spouse. I don't know what this summer is going to look like but I did learn that doing data collection and management while trying to also run things was much harder than I thought. I don't know what the program is going to look like or if they'll really need a data person but I'm glad to be there!

16. Finished Lord of the Rings: To clarify, I have read LoTR several times before. I have been blessed with a husband who has a gorgeous reading aloud voice and he's been reading it to me over the years. It took a while to find a good time to read it (reading it at nght puts me in danger of going to sleep) but we learned that reading it while I make breakfast on weekends is a good time to start. I got to discover parts of the book that I loved, be reminded of cool moments that had faded, and learn what parts move [livejournal.com profile] dorchadas. We just started the Silmarillion and it's so much easier to get through now than it was in 8th grade.

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June 2017

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