Last week I attended a silent retreat that was held by Judith Lies, a therapist and mindfulness instructor in the Twin Cities. It was a beautiful and life-altering experience.
During my time there, it struck me that my two year anniversary of leaving “the church” would occur during the retreat. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to most people…except those who have been a part of a fundamentalist church and left it.
Leaving is a big deal and can take a long time to recover from. It can take even longer for family members to get used to the change. So, it feels so good to be on this side of “leaving.” Spending my two-year anniversary at a beautiful retreat was a lovely way to celebrate my freedom.
After I came back from the retreat, I went to a Sunday morning service at a regular Lutheran church. It was really beautiful. There was beautiful music in a beautiful chapel and it brought tears to my eyes and warmed me. It felt so good there. Like I was at home in my heart.
I don’t plan to subscribe to a religion again. It feels like I’ve divorced from a long and toxic relationship and have finally learned how to be happy by myself and to explore life with an open heart. But, I guess I’ll always be some version of a Scandinavian Lutheran person. And that feels okay to me.
I’ve been looking through this blog and am feeling very grateful for it. And to think that I nearly deleted it at one point! Through this blog, I have somewhat kept track of things over the years. While I am embarrassed by how revealing I’ve been at times and how much I’ve had to say, it also makes me feel humble and human and compassionate.
Our cat, Phoebe, was hit by a car just before Halloween. It was shocking and traumatic and I’m still working on getting over it. Having lost our old cat Jezebel just one year before, it was almost unreal to go through that kind of loss again. Within 48 hours of having lost Phoebe, we adopted a new cat and eventually named her Shelly, which was the name chosen by one of Mia’s best friends, Gabi. Shelly came from a farm in Lonsdale, Minnesota and she has had a litter of kittens and is possibly pregnant now. She fills that void in my heart that only a cat can fill.
Here she is:
Around the same time that Phoebe died, I received a letter informing me that I’d passed the national licensing exam for marriage and family therapy. This was a very exciting thing. This means I am now have the title of LAMFT. After 4000 hours of working with a licensed supervisor, I can take the oral ethics exam and earn independent licensure (LMFT) as a marriage and family therapist. At the rate I’m going, this will take me about three to four years to achieve.
The job I have now is a very good fit for me and our family. I am in charge of my own schedule. The hours are flexible and I can take as many clients as I want, provided that I meet the minimum requirements. I work independently most of the time and spend a lot of time driving around. I see lots of different towns and go into people’s homes. I find it interesting and inspiring, and I am really grateful for it. I love working with people in this way, and am grateful I followed my heart those years ago when I started down this path.
We had our family photos taken this week with a Groupon for JC Penney. As usual, the photo session there was rushed and awkward and most of the photos turned out terribly. But we did manage to get a few good ones, and here is one of Alan and me that I love:
This is my last year of being in my thirties. I think I’ve officially hit my “midlife crisis” phase of life. This picture helped me feel a little better about myself because it turned out nicely and magically hides the things I don’t like about my appearance these days. I always wanted to age gracefully and not feel badly about getting older, but now that it is happening to me I am not feeling graceful about it at all. It is very difficult to embrace the changes.
We got a decent family photo to use for Christmas cards, but Mia really doesn’t like it, so I won’t post it. Here is a cute one of our sweet girls:
I guess we’re all growing up. Some of us are just further along than others.