Transitions, Change, and a little bit of ‘Landslide’ by Fleetwood Mac

So it seems kind of like we are always in transition, right?

Seasons change, kids get older, we get older, jobs change, outside activities change…it is pretty endless.

I like to think I am someone who can transition fairly easily. In some ways, I’m really flexible. ‘Where do you think we should hang this painting?’ yep, looks good, sometimes without even a glance up. ‘Where do you want to eat?’ whatever sounds good to you, I can find something to eat pretty much anywhere.

In other ways, I’m pretty status quo. An example of this is that I stayed at my first real job (well, second real job, because the first one paid just a few cents above minimum wage, (not an exaggeration) and we had trouble paying our bills with it), but I degress. I stayed at the first real job, making a starting rate of $10.50 an hour, for just about 14 years. And, I would have stayed longer, if it weren’t for a certain financial recession.

So this year, 2020, for my immediate (Parke) family, is another year of transitions. I was thinking about how 4 years ago, almost exactly at this time, another transition was beginning. As the 2016 Presidential election warmed up, and while I was in the midst of cherishing every last moment with my twin seniors in high school, my husband was given an opportunity he, and we, couldn’t refuse.

As a part of the opportunity, we were given lots of time, 5 years in fact, to determine if we wanted to move to Texas instead of him flying back and forth from Indiana every other week. He began this travel schedule around April, 2016. His boss knew our boys were about to start college, and knew I would want to stay nearby. The 5 years also would allow my husband to take the risk for taking the job and make sure that it was a fit for him, as it was very different on a day to day basis from his previous role with the company.

That five years turned into 3 and a half, as commuting from Indiana to Texas on a bi-weekly basis is fairly stressful.

During that time period, if I wanted to cue some teary eyes, I would play ‘Landslide’ by Fleetwood Mac. You know the line….’time grows colder, makes you bolder, (even) children get older….’ that was all it took.

Side note, those strike throughs are how I initially had written the lyrics from memory. I knew it didn’t sound quite right.

For me, music is a place where I can intentionally feel a sad moment, or remember a happy one. With two musicians for parents, it is probably not that big of a surprise.

So cue forward 4 years. We have the 2020 Presidential election gearing up. We have been in Texas almost exactly 9 months, time to have birthed a baby. Those same twin boys are seniors again, this time in college, and ready to launch onto their next paths.

And, in the midst of it, I get a job opportunity. One that will provide more financial stability, administrative and other therapist support than I have had, and, conveniently, right across the parking lot from where I have been renting office space.

I was thinking and comparing the feelings I have about my boys graduating from college compared to when they ‘left the nest’ and went to college.

I am so excited for my son to start Law School. It was something he put his mind to his freshman year in college, and he has stuck to his goals and is looking forward to his program. He is a leader by nature, and however he uses this degree he will thrive, I am sure. I am excited to live through some of his classes with him, as I love going to school in theory, but living through my kids causes quite a bit less stress at test time.

I am also ridiculously excited for my other son to start his employment in Madison, WI, where I have always thought would be a super cool place to live. He is going to work for Epic, which is rated one of the best places to work in Wisconsin, and he doesn’t have to dress up, which if you know him well, you’d know that is a deal maker for him.

These transitions, a mere four years later, are so similar yet so different from the ones we experienced as a family of four in 2016.

A little background for how I began the transition to my new role with Blank Slate Therapy….

I love owning my practice and working for Parke Counseling, LLC, which I technically will still be doing. I love our team of Gail the Acupuncturist and Billy and Charla, massage therapists (call up Pain Free Acupuncture, Quantum Medical Massage and Hypnosis or Sunlite Massage Therapy if you are in the McKinney, Craig Ranch, area. They are wonderful at what they do.

I’ll always be grateful to Cara and Sara, friends from Tipton who both gave me leads/contacts when we first moved here to make those connections. Cara connected me to Gail, and my contract was signed literally the same week.

What I love a little less is the rate that my practice was growing. I had started to contemplate working full time again, or switching things up in some way when I received an email from a practice owner in Flower Mound, where we had considered living.

The owner emailed me and said that I looked like I’d be a good fit for her practice. The downside was that the practice is 35 minutes from where we live.

That got me thinking, as those happenstance emails sometimes do, that I was also probably a good fit for a more local group practice. As that time, I increased my scope and started looking for private practices that were looking for additional therapists.

As I was driving to the Pain Free Acupuncture office where I rent space one day, I noticed the ‘Blank Slate Therapy‘ sign on the office building just south of where I have been practicing. I remembered that I had seen an ad from them on Indeed, and reached out.

As you think about transitions in your life, what are some that are easier for you? Are there some that you anticipate coming, look forward to, and then enjoy the change?

What are some other ones, that just really take you, kicking and screaming, away from familiarity and sometimes out of your control?? What does the fact that you don’t have control do to your feelings about the transition?

Sometimes, change comes from anger, We get so mad at something, we think, I”m not going to take it anymore, I’m going to do something about this. Anger is a great motivator.

Other changes come just from growing older. My eyes refuse to focus close up like they did not that many years ago. so if I want to read it, I’m wearing glasses. I have no control over this, and fought it and mis-read quite a few texts for a couple of years, but I have embraced this change by getting classes that are comfortable and that I like.

Others come from promotions, job changes that turn out to be wonderful stepping stones or the fit you’ve been looking for your whole life.

I know, for me, that ultimately, I like variety. and I love my children as the young adults they have become, and are becoming, with each stage in their lives.

Well, I’ve been ‘fraid of changin’
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m gettin’ older, too
(Fleetwood Mac, ‘Landslide’)

Enjoy your Saturday!

Quieting the Mind: Some Tricks that Work for Me

So….without a doubt the last 12 months have been pretty different for me.

I quit my full time job and joined a private mental health practice, started and stopped seeing kids in a school setting prior to and after a local shooting at a school, had some back/feet issues, and joined the ranks of the uterus free.

Oh yeah, and I moved from my hometown state of Indiana, where I had lived all of my years except the 2 where I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio and moved to McKinney, Texas, to be closer to my husbands work area.

Shoo. Sounds like a lot even when I write it.

I am a fairly structured person.

I have a routine when I wake up (love some hot tea in the mornings), a general routine throughout the day, and a time I go to bed most nights. I’m an early-bird, so falling asleep comes earlier than I wish it did sometimes, but it all works out.

During the last 15 months, I have brushed up on my counseling skills and become a little more current in my knowledge.

One area I find super important both to me and to my clients is using mindfulness to quiet the mind. Like many, I am a really good thinker, which can turn into worry. I can think about what is coming up, imagine what I should or could say in that situation, and then, after it occurs, think about what has been said and what might have been done differently.

When I am working with someone in therapy, we talk a lot about being in tune with their own feelings. We talk about what senses they use to calm themselves down.

I have found that for most people, they have a sense that they are more likely to utilize when their thinking starts to ‘take over’.

For some, that sense is hearing. They may become overstimulated by too many sounds, for instance, which can be a source of frustration for them. They may also be the person who says ‘when I get upset, I put on music and listen to it’.

I find it interesting how some people are calmed by calming, peaceful music. I am an acoustic girl myself. Some acoustic guitar, or some classical piano music, or anything by Peter, Paul and Mary are instant calm-downers for me. If it is really bad, out come The Carpenters. When Karen C and I sing together, it really calms me down.

For others, more intense, loud music with a strong beat is calming. When my husband and I were first dating, we had a constant battle over volume and type of music in the car. One of my friends joked that she liked to watch us constantly turn up and down the music on the radio, which we both did absentmindedly. He is more of a ‘layers’ person, and loves the grunge music of the 90’s. I find that music quite agitating, but for him, it is calming.

For others, their sense of what they see is their go-to for relaxation. They may be the person who looks out the window at the green trees in the summer. They may love to stare at a lake, or a picture of a lake. They may be able to close their eyes and envision a sandy beach and the sunshine beating down, or a forest with the sun peeking through the trees.

For those candle lovers out there, your sense that may be most calming may be your sense of smell. As a person with several seasonal allergies, I am more drawn to food smells in a candle, or the smell of fruits. For others, a clean, cotton smell, or the smell of cookies baking, or lilacs may be a very calming sense for you.

Taste and touch are the last two senses that can be drawn from when you consider the 5 senses.

For me, my clothes are really important to me, for my comfort both in temperature and in being comfortable in my clothes. I do not enjoy tight clothes, or clothes that are rough. For others, they may hate having a tag, or love to wear comfy pants.

Some people carry a rock in their pocket as part of their faith. The smooth edge of the rock can be a calming moment for them. Others wear bands around their wrists, and will snap them as a way to stay calm.

Many of us have all kinds of memories around taste. The taste of sweet may remind you of childhood in a positive way. The taste of something bitter may be how you wake up in the morning, and associate that taste with the smell of coffee.

Our senses are really intertwined-it is hard to imagine a taste without having a smell associated with it, and some things we see are very associated with what we hear.

I encourage you to use some time, as you finish reading this, to think about which senses help you quiet your mind and slow down from all of the tasks that are required of us.

Now imagine that you are seeing that thing that is a favorite, or listening to that sound of the waves crashing, or smelling the smell of cookies baking.

As you imagine hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, or smelling, think about things you have fond memories of. As you are imagine those smells, touches, etc., now breathe in for a count of 4.

Now wait for 2

and breathe out for 4.

and wait for 2 again.

As you do this continue to imagine you are hearing the familiar sounds that are helpful as you quiet the worries and the stresses in your mind.

Now look around you for something you can see. As you look, look at every piece of it. Notice the outside edges, the colors, and how the shadows surround it.

Continue breathing in and out, waiting for a beat of 2 in between each breath.

For me these steps are helpful in quieting some of those stressors, whether they are about work, family, the weather, or things we cannot or do not want to change.

Enjoy your day!

A Beautiful Day in a Lovely Place: Takes Place in Indiana

In light of the 2 shootings this weekend (in Dayton and El Paso), I thought this article I wrote last September would be timely.

As we are all grateful for surviving another day, let’s think about ways to slow down the terror people are experiencing. Read on for more:

Noblesville is frequently recognized as one of the ‘best places to live’ lists, and Hamilton County, where Noblesville is located, is frequently called one of the most desirable places to live. It…
— Read on

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: What it Meant to Me

Self Care: Adventures with Muffy


We’re Getting There

I have found myself thinking about self care a lot lately.

I am a really good anticipator, therefore a professional dreader/worrier, so this recent move was more stressful, for the most part, before we did it.

I am beginning to meet potential clients and to develop a caseload. There are those who come to the office, and those who meet by tele therapy. I have a core group of office mates with skills different from my own, and I actually drove somewhere today without using my GPS

My downtime during the past year has certainly been different from previous years. As a teen, and even before then, I was as active as I could be.

In fact, when I was in 5th grade, my teacher (Mrs. Garmin), took me aside and told me I was in too many activities. She told me I needed to pick either sports, music, or academics to focus on outside to school.

I promptly went and ‘told on’ her to my parents. I pride myself on being pseudo-good at many things, and well practiced at the things that come most difficultly to me. I could not believe that she would even think to tell me to give up one of my activities, which included after school sports, Girl Scouts, band, before school choir, basketball when it was in season, swimming in the summer, guitar classes before school, high ability classes, and spending as much time as possible with my core friend group.

In high school, I kept up my pace. I can remember my senior year going from tennis practice to musical rehearsal every night during the spring semester. I dreamed one night that I had finished my reading assignment (Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities).

I woke up, realizing I had fallen asleep with the book on my lap, and had not read a page of it. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed.

Through it all, through Indiana University Marching 100 and Pep Band, the University of Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Fishers, Noblesville, and now Mckinney, Texas; I kept my favorite stuffed animal ‘Muffy’.

As we were moving to Texas, my husband pointed out we still have ‘that creepy dog you always want to keep’. He took it out of the box, and set it somewhere else in the garage (nothing else from that box made the cut that day).

I put it into a different tote, and found it the other day as we still work to conclude the endless task of unpacking.

I thought about how happy I had been, as a child, holding that dog as I slept.

I remembered wanting to have it with me when I fell asleep at my Grandma’s house, where I spent a lot of time.

I put it through the washer, and it looks quite a bit different than it did a couple of days ago, when it had spent the last 13 years in the garage in Noblesville.

It makes me think though. It makes me think about how important it is to slow down a bit.

Without the time we have taken to unpack our boxes, I wouldn’t have re-discovered old dirty Muffy. If we had a bump out in our garage in our new house, like we had in our old house in Noblesville, we probably wouldn’t have been going through each box so carefully.

It has been really interesting going through some boxes that have basically stayed packed since we began our journey together, 25 years ago.

Things that I love are: looking at water, seeing flowers bloom, swimming, and processing people and events I am a part of.

I also love watching mindless television (Hello, Big Brother), getting pedicures, and talking endlessly about nothing.

With a big life event, like moving to a new state, we have an opportunity to re-invent ourselves in some ways. I’ll never be seen as ‘the middle Dollens kid’ here in McKinney. I’m Terri Parke, from Indiana.

A Midwesterner

I encourage you to think about things you love.

Now I encourage you to take some time to fit them into your schedule. My 5th grade self did a great job of helping me learn to get and stay busy.

My 48 year old self says being busy is great, but so is enjoying the ride during the not so busy times.

I hope you take the time to do something you love today.

Or at least take a break from something you like a little less.

Happy Friday!

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