Now, as to where I’ve been for the past few months (which also serves as a general re-cap for the past year which is what this entry is all about, anyway). Ah-hem… (*Pauses, considers, re-starts*) Actually, wait. Let me back up a second.
In January, I had two pretty huge goals occupying my thoughts. One was personal and one was professional. I’m going to start with the personal since work is a whole other category altogether.
This year was the year of my 3rd Dan test (3rd degree black belt in Tang Soo Do for anyone who hasn’t been here before). I trained for it harder than I had ever trained for anything before. I started working out at the gym 4 to 5 days a week, I was practicing forms at least three times a week and anytime I wasn’t actively practicing something I was thinking about it. I breathed it for months and months. This is partly why I performed as well as I did in our home tournament in April.
It’s also why when I finally took the test in June I did as well as I did. I don’t want to say that the test was easy because it really wasn’t. But I will say it was significantly less difficult than what I was anticipating and what I had trained for. I was still proud of myself, certainly. But because I had trained so hard and because it had occupied so much of my thoughts for so long I was sort-of let down when it ended.
I woke up the day after feeling really depressed and the nagging question that sparked this feeling was “Now what?” After such an epic accomplishment, what do I do now? My 4th dan test is 4 years away- I couldn’t just wait around for another 4 years. And that had been such a focal point in my life that I felt lost with it finished. Now what?
The answer is what leads to the number two big accomplishment on my list- the one I didn’t see coming.
I relayed those feelings and that question to a friend of mine. This friend was and is a runner. So he suggested to me, upon hearing me express this, that I do the same. It was a very simple question: “Why don’t you try running?”
I had an answer for him. “I’m not a runner,” I said. I’d always hated running. I mean, I joined the track team in high school and hated it so much that I quit in a single week. That was how much I hated running.
“Well, yeah,” he said, “but aren’t you different now?” Yeah, I guessed I was. “And weren’t you just saying that you trained harder for this than you ever had for anything in your life?” Yes, I certainly had. “And aren’t you in the best shape you’ve ever been in?” Well, I guessed so. “So it might be way easier for you now. You should try it,” he concluded. I didn’t really have any good arguments against that line of logic.
So I tried it. One day at the gym, after one of my regular classes, I hopped on the treadmill just to give it a try. I ran a full 5k without losing my breath. All that training really had amounted to something.
So I started signing up for races- 5ks, in the beginning. The first one was hard because I wasn’t used to running outside. But it was also REALLY fun. So I started running outside and I signed up for more. Then I signed up for my first 10k. That was even more fun. Then, finally, the huge unexpected goal: the half marathon.
I trained harder for it than I had for my 3rd Dan test. It was at least a hundred times more difficult than my 3rd Dan test. And I was and am more proud of myself than I have ever been before in my entire life.
I had never dreamed that I would be a runner. In fact, it still sometimes baffles me that I am one now. But having run my first half marathon and almost immediately concluded that a full marathon absolutely must be crossed off my bucket list I can’t really argue with the label anymore. It was my biggest accomplishment of 2014, by far.
This is the other area of my life where I ended up accomplishing an unexpected goal. I started out the year as a counselor and leader of an intensive outpatient program for mental health. I loved my job almost from the get go. It wasn’t the work itself, at first. It was my amazing co-workers. It was the level of freedom I had. The money certainly helped. But over time, it became about the work itself. For the first time in my entire career I felt like I was really using my education (which is a GREAT feeling when you’re still paying monthly installments on said education.)
I am now a clinical supervisor in charge of all the drug and alcohol counselors in the office. That was the unexpected part.
One staff meeting, out of nowhere, my boss announced that she was leaving and would be going to another office. My boss had been the clinical supervisor as well as the site director (the latter position was taken over by my favorite co-worker.) This left her morning drug and alcohol (henceforward referred to as D&A) intensive outpatient group open. (I’ve been leading the evening mental health group all year. The schedule has not been ideal, in many ways.) So I went for it.
I didn’t actually know, in all honesty, when I applied for the position that it included not only the morning group but also the clinical supervisor role. I found out right in the middle of the interview. I surprised myself when I said, with the utmost confidence, I can do that.
‘Could I really?’ I questioned myself. The answer was yes, I really thought I could. I have more experience in D&A than I do in mental health. I’ve had lots of interns I supervised over the years. My organizational skills are good to enough to put me in charge of chart audits and things of that nature. Yes- I really could.
I told them this in the interview. I got the job. I never saw it coming.
After years and years and years of feeling stagnant and frustrated with my chosen career I had started a new job and been promoted in less than a year. Finally all my hard work- which I have been doing all this time- paid off. It’s an amazing feeling.
(I don't have any pictures for this one, sorry!)
The only downside to this promotion- which I do genuinely believe I will be truly good at once I actually have the time to do it- is that they couldn’t find someone to take over my evening group right away. So for the past two months I’ve been working 12 to 13 hour days… 4 days a week… every week. In the morning I go in and run the D&A group. Then I see individual clients and hold supervision with the other clinicians. At some point I run home to walk my dog and then race traffic to get back in time for the evening group. On Fridays, even though I’m usually well over my 40 hours by then, I go in from 9 to 3 to do individual sessions and try to catch up on all the paperwork I’ve fallen behind on during the week. Then I leave early to get to the one karate class I can still do with my insane schedule. And thus why I’ve fallen off the face of the planet.
I’m not happy that both reading and writing have fallen by the wayside in the face of work commitments and running. But that is, obviously, what happened. I am hoping, however, that that will change soon.
They hired someone to take over my evening group. He starts next week. I’ll be sticking to the old schedule for a while until he’s trained and comfortable running the group on his own. But I’m hopeful that won’t be long. Once he takes over I should be able to keep most evenings free. I’ll be able to go back to karate on Tuesday nights. I’ll be able- and this is the amazing part- to come home before 10pm most weeknights. I hope and expect that I’ll be able to run and read and write again during those evenings. That would be miraculous.
Because 2014 has held so many unexpected developments for me I’m not even going to bother to set goals for 2015. I have some general ideas of what I’d like to see happen- the above mentioned activities, of course. And if I happen to run a full marathon, or publish a story, or kick ass in a karate tournament that would all be great. But for now I’m content to bask in the thrill of all this year has brought my way. It’s been the best one I’ve had in a while.
Happy New Year. And my best to all of you in 2015.