Asking the Hard Questions
I have been thinking a lot about life lately. I suppose taking a sort of sabbatical journey to work on an Italian farm will do that. However, I was not always this outdoorsy, farm type. I am a therapist by training and, I believe, by nature. Helping others comes naturally to me and I enjoy working with people through the toughest times in their lives.
Leaving the work force for almost half the year allowed me to sit back and ponder how I want to live my life. I questioned things like: how much of my time do I want to spend doing clinical work, how can I be more creative, how else can I generate an income, among other things. Overall, it was a brainstorm with myself with the over arching question: how can I do what I love and not get burnt out?
Since returning from traveling, many people have wondered what I will be doing next, whether I will have permanent wanderlust or even return to my career as a therapist. I am here to answer all the questions and share the decisions I have made, not because I feel I have to answer these questions, but because I want to help by sharing my direction. If I can help one clinician avoid burn out, even by considering the other options they have, then my mission has been accomplished.
Taking My Own Advice
If you are in the helping profession like me, you might give a lot of really solid advice to others. You might have recognized that you do not often take your own advice. Maybe you even catch yourself suggesting someone do the opposite of what you tend to do. I don't know about you, but this is a tough feeling for me to deal with.
When I push my clients to practice self-care and establish boundaries only to find myself drained and checking my phone for emails constantly, I have to stop myself for a reality check. As helpers, we are not required to have it all together or be perfect by any means, but we need to realize that we act as models of behavior.
In this creation of a thing called my life, I have decided to take more of my own advice because I give pretty damn good suggestions! The more I listen to myself, the better I am able to help others by showing good practices.
I had a resurgence of creativity while I was farming. It was as if being outdoors and out of my comfort zone unlocked a storage unit of ideas that I had shoved away because I had no room for them in my previous lifestyle.
I had the opportunity to take a course this Spring called the Authentic Affiliate Academy with Nicole Liloia, a LCSW turned coach working with entrepreneurs looking to create a more sustainable lifestyle with less stress. I had been blogging for a bit but still felt skeptical about being an affiliate and potentially promoting things in a way that made me uncomfortable.
What I learned was simple: if I am unable to get creative with my ideas about generating an income, I will be stuck. Nicole talked me through my fears and agreed with me about one thing. Most therapists and helpers in private practice trade hours for dollars and that is the extent of financial gain. Unless you get out of your comfort zone.
Now that I am stepping into all the possibilities that await me as a business owner & entrepreneur, I am so much more available to be creative in my practice, evolve myself (and therefore my clients) and live in that balanced state I desire.
Understanding My Mission
I have always been interested in holistic practices--to me, this means thinking of something as a whole--and since my return from farming in Italy, I have understood how I might need to be thinking of my future holistically.
My work is, of course, not my everything. However, by being in the helping profession I put my heart and soul out there constantly so it feels a little more engrained than 'just a job.' This is completely fine by me but I recognized from my life experiences and journey that I need to be thinking about what I want as a whole.
I was asked by a friend and fellow entrepreneur a couple years back "how do you want to feel?" and I could not for the life of me answer this question at that time. He tried to explain what he meant and I did my best to envision the life I wanted. It wasn't until recently that another friend and fellow entrepreneur asked me this same question again that I finally understood.
We get to create the life that we want. Obviously, within reason and circumstances certainly have a bearing on this, but we can truly envision anything we want and work towards that vision. I had to think about this holistic sense of myself and think about where all the new pieces of myself fit in. Following our journey to Italy, my husband and I now want to pursue farming and sustainable living professionally along side our careers.
You might think I am crazy and that is ok. A therapist-farmer? Who has heard of heard of such a thing?! I hadn't either until I realized the two can certainly come together. This is my passion, my cause, my dream and my truth. I am declaring this mission today for you all to bear witness to.
So as I go forward in my pursuit to create this ideal life for myself, I ask you to join me. If this speaks to you and you want to live more aligned with your dreams, contact me. If you're in the helping field and this sounds like just the thing you need support with, join in as I work on creating a support network and community of people looking to create their ideal helping practice. You can find more information on Mindful Practice for Helping Professionals right here.