This right here…is a balancing act |Eggs.
“Eggs play an important role in baked goods. Eggs add structure, leavening, color, and flavor to cakes. It’s the balance between eggs and flour that help provide the height and texture of many baked goods. It’s a balancing act.” –Joy the Baker (October 28, 2013)
Let us go back to my time in grad school. Second year. Practicum complete; knee-deep in my internship (not to be confused with residency discussed in last week’s post). Below was my Tuesday, Thursday schedule.
6:30AM |Wake up . . .but not really get out of the bed
8AM |Leave the house
8:28AM |The time I really left the house
8:27-9:44AM |Viciously navigate Route 1; I-295; the Key Bridge; MacArthur Blvd (horn blown 5x) No pedestrians or cyclists harmed during this daily commute.
9:45AM |Scan for parking; circle the block; whip Nadia (my car) into a parallel spot like Paul Walker trained me.
9:52AM |Run across the street . . .Rule #1 Don’t buy heels you can’t run in.
10AM |Morning meeting
12PM-5PM |Case management clients . . .I drove to them. To all the smart people who asked above at 8:27AM “Why didn’t she just take the metro?” . . .this is why.
6PM |Fight for parking on K Street . . .parking garage $20 out by 10PM or street parking. Decisions, decisions? Budget? What budget?!
7PM-9:50PM |Class (work on-call phone ringing during lecture)
10:30PM |“Home again, home again. Jiggity jig.”
11:30PM| Contemplate life . . .I pray it won’t always be like this.
My schedule on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays went something like this:
8:45AM |Seven minute commute to internship site. Bless God!
9AM |Morning meeting
9:30AM-3:30PM |Groups/Individual sessions/Supervision
11:30PM |Did I eat today?
My week equated to almost 80 hours of go, go, go. During one particular one-on-one meeting, my supervisor noted despondency oozing from my pores. I verbally unloaded my daily routine, passion for therapy, why rainbows need unicorns, and where they manufacture glitter, whoever “they” are. He was quite respectful in touching upon the things I felt I “should” and “must” and “have” to do in a given 24-hour period. I mean we can’t all be Beyoncé. Tuh! He challenged me with this, “Crystal you were clearly made for this, but I wonder if you’re running on high octane, if not diesel.” I scoffed. He continued . . . “You will burn out before you even earn your degree at this rate.” Through appropriate self-disclosure (which was important to model to me during this learning period) he explained the intricacies of his work-life balance as a father, psychologist, and program director for a community mental health agency. I was “responsive to his feedback,” but . . .BUT negates the nonrestrictive clause or participial phrase prior to the comma (thank you Ms. Brown and Ms. Purdy). . .How many times have you heard “you have to work 10x as hard to be just as good.”? So, frankly when would I ever be allowed the privilege of having balance if I wanted to be good . . .or even great?
Per Joy’s quote, I lacked leavening, structure, and texture as an intern. I had enough flavor, though. #blackgirlmagic. In my head I knew I was better than good. I was (am) great. Like, Tony the tiger great! But, (nothing to negate here) I was going to have to let some things go. Homework vs. dishes. Hair vs. practicing a presentation. I’m natural. Hair is work. Short or long. Straight or coiled. Time is money. And, in this case I had to trade my vanity for time. No vs. Yes. Someone once told me, “’No’ is a complete sentence.” I was in awe of this. It is the subject, the predicate, and the punctuation. There is nothing more potent than “no.” Wait, yes there is. The piercing look from two pews ahead at a 38-degree angle from a woman who is not your mother, yet will tell your mother you were acting up in church. That is pure saturation. So, I had to employ saying “no.” Behaving “no.” Loving “no.” My job function mandates my senses, mind, and heart for the people who seek my services. People who are hurting, wondering, wandering, questioning, and being in this thing we call life. I am a servant to them. I cannot take care of them, until I take care of myself. And, this meant (still means) “NO.” There are so many times in the past when I wanted to say “yes.” I’m sure in the future the same will apply. Learning to employ this small word with so much power, has helped in my balancing act. I’ve earned the former, elusive privilege by saying “no.”
Psychology is a science. My colleagues and I are teased that it is not a “hard” science by those in chemistry, physics, and biology industries. If your brain stops working can we then talk about how hard of a science psychology really is? Insert OOOH gif–you know the one. I can build a circuit if that helps anyone questioning my practical scientific nerdiness. One that works. Daddy’s girl. Ever wonder why we have light switches? Perhaps not, or you don’t care. In order for electricity to travel, the circuit must be closed. When the light switch is on, the circuit is closed. Conversely, when the light switch is off, the circuit is open. I use this premise to provide structure and leavening in my day-to-day schedule. When I’m in the office my clients have my undivided attention. Phone is on do-not-disturb. “Oh, you didn’t show up within the 15-minute window, let’s reschedule.” “Hi, my 6:00pm didn’t show would you like to come earlier? Ok, great see you soon.” After I lock my office door and unlock my car, it’s 57-minutes of “Bootyhopscotch” radio. Don’t judge me. The PsycYourMind switch is off. And, a new switch is turned on. Attention to detail. Time management. Logistics. Balance. All needed. This is how I earned the name “Big sis logist” from my childhood best friends. I suppose I possessed what I needed to begin to balance out all that flour (vision and creativity) I mentioned in the first post.
I soon realized I can still be Tony the tiger-great, elicit my magic, get seven-to-eight hours of sleep, get my hair to behave, cook dinner in a crockpot while I slept, and not have my friends side-eyeing me if I can’t attend their events without over exerting myself. I learned to think outside-the-box (and over and under). We all have 24 hours. As I’ve said before though . . .this right here (insert relieved exhale) has taken practice, failures, attempts, risks, I-told-you-so’s, tears, laughs, a forest of trees in applications (I’ll discuss in a later post), the Philatelic catalogue of stamps, $0.38 bank account balance, trust in God, trust in man, trust in no one, and trust in myself. I chose the image for this blog post from an excerpt in Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham. Sam-I-Am entreats an unnamed character to try green eggs and ham. Say it with me, “I do not like them, Sam-I-Am, I do not like green eggs and ham.” Nostalgia. The moral I gather from this story is, don’t knock it until you have tried it. Even if it looks weird. I remember whining to my husband, “they didn’t teach us business in grad school.” “I don’t know how to do this.” “I’m scared I will lose money.” “What if no one shows up?” “I do not like private practice husband-I-am.” Because going into business for myself looked weird! One of the BIGGEST lessons I’ve learned so far on this journey is you will never know, unless you try. I humbly ask, please try. Whatever it is. One’s fear threshold increases with age. The permutations of our environment become predictable. We fear the unknown because, wait-a-minute, I didn’t predict that. Thus, we stay in our comfort zone. Eggs are the structural provision flour needs, texture is the lasting characteristic. I was not growing in my comfort zone; flour gains no texture without eggs. Earning my texture was important. Texture defines my weight, in gold, in proportion to the other ingredients needed to remain empowered during this process.
Dear husband-I-am, I guess I do like green eggs and ham.