Rebel by Nature: And Probably Nurture

A Story of a Mental Health Therapist

I was born the 2nd of 3 children in a family of 5. I am the 2nd girl, born 23 months after my older sister.

My brother came along 3 ½ years later.
Some of my earliest memories involve arguing with family members, particularly my sister.


‘She’s going to be a girl, and her name should be Crystal’ I said, smiling and doing a little twirl.

I love to dance, like to get my way and tend to smile as a first attempt.
As for the name Crystal: I liked that name, and I wanted someone to boss around just like my older
sister bossed me.

Or maybe I wanted to lead them, differently, as leading is something I really like to do in
almost any circumstance.

I can remember standing in argument with her; she who had a great grasp of vocabulary from a young age
and is just about as strong willed as I am, if not more.

‘No. I told you.
We already have 2 girls. We need a brother. And his name isn’t going to be Crystal, that’s a girl’s name.’

Little did we know, his name would be Michael. That is my dad’s name, and my mom’s favorite name. It was
also a very common name during the early 70’s.

As I got older and wished I had a more feminine name, I learned that all three of us would have been named
Michael, with different middle names.
A few years ago, someone told me I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones who had a name without gender (I go by
Terri).

Let me tell you, that has historically NOT been my feeling about having a name can be both masculine
and feminine. I can remember searching for trinkets with the name ‘Terri’ on them. I could sometimes find
‘Terry’, which is the masculine version and not how I spell my name.

It was a pretty special occasion when my mom or I located one with my name and spelled correctly.

I came out a little oppositional. My due date was in late August, and I was born in mid-September.

Opposition means going against. There’s an author (Gretchen Rubin) whom I follow who describes four personality types, and one of
them is coined ‘rebel’.

To be oppositional, or rebellious, or saying ‘no’ just because someone told you to do something, are all very
similar words for a similar behavior tendency.

It is not just saying no because someone said yes. It is more than just disagreeing with a proposed plan. It is
saying the sky is purple because someone else said it was blue, but also with a little ‘kick’ to it.

A little sass, a
little emphasis, a little more rebelliousness.

I am a second born child, second girl before the boy. I have high energy, love to move, and have a brain that
works a little differently. My brain makes quick connections, and has a lot of working memory, and I put a high value on communicating verbally and visually.

I am strong willed, nurtured in a family of origin with and by other strong-willed people.

I have grown up watching my parents direct and lead, as my dad taught middle and high school band students within my school system.

Since moving to Texas in 2019, I now call a school corporation an ISD, meaning ‘Independent School District’. In Indiana, where I grew up, we call that ‘school corporation’.

My mom taught choir and music in a neighboring school corporation and county. My parents grew up in urban Indianapolis, living not too far away from each other. They met when they were both attending Butler University, in Indianapolis where they were both participating in Marching Band.

Prior to that, my dad attended and graduated from a private high school named Cathedral. My mom attended the local public school system, Arsenal Technical High School.

Moving to Tipton, Indiana, was a stressor for my parents. They had grown up in an urban environment and were not used to how things worked in a more rural, farm community. My dad taught in Noblesville, Indiana for 3 years, while my mom taught at Sheridan, prior to determining that life would be a little simpler if at least one of them worked where they lived.

A hesitation my mom felt was that it would mean that my grandma was a long-distance phone call away, as opposed to a being local call.

My grandma was my mom’s emotional support. They talked frequently, and having to pay to talk with her was something my mom was hesitant to do.

The car ride to my grandma’s house, still on the near-east side of Indianapolis, was a full hour from Tipton, as opposed to the 30 minutes they had grown accustomed to.

For around 2 years (when I was ages 3-5), my dad taught at Tipton Schools and my mom taught at Sheridan part-time, while we lived in the neighboring community of Noblesville.

Both of my parents drove around 30 minutes to work, and neither of them worked for Noblesville School Corporation, the district where we lived.

My sister spent her first two years attending Noblesville schools, and then it was going to be time for me to begin Kindergarten.

I was enrolled at an elementary in Noblesville. I had been DYING to attend organized socialization, so it didn’t matter to me where I attended school.

I hung out with friends in the ‘smooth alley’ that was just down from our house, but many of those friends were older or younger than me. I had not attended pre-school, and our childcare was in our home with an in-person provider.

I just wanted to be around friends who would be my age. I was also enrolled at Tipton Schools, at Jefferson Elementary.

My parents put our house up for sale and determined that my sister and I would start school where we were living when the school year started.

As fate would have it, our house sold in July, 1976.

We moved our things to our new home in Tipton with the smooth sidewalks for roller skating, where we would have a short walk to school. In addition to the events of moving school districts and homes, or possibly in the midst of moving, there was a local, tragic death of a middle school student who was watching his sister. He touched an electrical wire and did not survive.

Some of my first memories of living in Tipton involve the events surrounding that funeral, as the 8th grader was the son of one of my parents’ friends, and my mom helped to care for the children during the funeral. They also had a child who was preparing at that time to begin Kindergarten, and we are friends to this day.

We had moved to a relatively quiet street in Tipton, where people were discouraged from driving down it by the stop signs that occurred at every single intersection.

Our comment of ‘Look! We can cross the street without even looking here!’ was not received as well following my friend’s brother’s death, but it was a definite shift from our in-town home in Noblesville, which was very close to the then Boys and Girls Club and had quite a bit more traffic.

Since I have moved to Texas in 2019, I have been particularly interested and fascinated by the number of cultures and ethnicities that occur here in this city, which is the county seat of Collin County.

We have been here 2 years now, with one of them being a full year plus of the pandemic. Being social, but also somewhat introverted at times, I find myself wanting the same things I did when I was 5 and beginning school.

I have noticed in the last few weeks, since vaccines have become more common and people are beginning to come out of their homes and be a little more social, the excitement I felt at 5 of being able to get to know people and establish friendships is the same.

Here, instead of being the person from Tipton who works in Noblesville and surrounding counties; I am an empty nester from Indiana.

I am someone who has been described as ‘without any accent at all’, which I find fairly interesting.

I am friendly, which some people like and appreciate, and some people veer away from due to their own comfort or lack thereof with being social.

I live on a street and community with lots of different cultures and ethnicities.

We are close to multiple businesses that have moved their home offices from California to Texas, and we live in an area that was a field not too terribly long ago.

I’m getting to know neighbors and friends who are from Texas, Columbia, Venezuela, China, India, New York, Tennessee and so much more.  

I am able to provide mental health therapy at a time when the stigma is really being reduced. I work primarily with teens, parents, and those with attention, anxiety, or depressive tendencies.

It’s an exciting time to be a part of this field, which I began formally in 1995 when I graduated with my degree in Community Counseling.

I get to hear parents tell me that they are bringing their teen to therapy due to the teen asking for it for multiple years.

I get to meet with adults who have very little background in being in tune with their feelings, and report to feel better from mental health therapy but do not really know why.

I exercised some of my rebelliousness when I chose my university and my career back in the early 90’s.

Indiana University is a large, Big 10 University, and the size made my parents hesitant, as they were comfortable with a small university like Butler, where they and my sister attended and graduated.

I went into the field of mental health, which I would say I’m born to do, and pursued from an early age.

And boy, am I glad I did.

Thankfulness: Thanksgiving, Tradition Changes and COVID

I’ve got to admit, Thanksgiving used to be my least favorite holiday. Here are some things I’m not really a fan of:

Turkey

waiting to eat

As a child, pitch-ins, or food I didn’t know what it was made of. I was (and am, if I’m being honest) a picky eater. If food was brought in by someone else, it was hard to know what foods that I might not like were in it.

Thanksgiving always seemed to be a time of waiting until I was really hungry, or snacking to fend off the hunger, and then not being hungry for the meal.

Then there were lots of foods prepared that I may or may not want, and the pressure to eat them. Later, there was the fact that others had a lack of interest in eating dinner because they had overeaten.

I rarely miss a meal, so that doesn’t really work for me.

Now some might say that a reason I am not a huge fan of turkey may have something to do with the amount of time my grandma cooked it. My grandma was one of the nicest, kindest, most pleasant people I have ever met. She had lots of great skills, and there are many, many things I miss about her.

Cooking a turkey? Well, I’m not going to say that was among her list of greatest talents. So for the first 16 or so years of my life, we spent Thanksgiving at my grandma’s house, with a turkey that had been cooked past its prime.

I’ve come around though.

As a kid, we talked about being thankful, and what we were thankful for. We also talked about the story of the Pilgrims and the Indians (the term Native American would come later) sitting down and eating together, recognizing that working together worked best for them. As I learned more about history, I realized that there is a little more to that story.

As an adult, I find the Thanksgiving holiday a beginning, and a time to rest and reflect.

It’s a time to start thinking about the Christmas season, which has always been a time of celebration in extra ways due to my children’s birthday being Christmas Eve.

It’s a time to have a long weekend, without a ton of traditions and hurry. We have a meal, on Thursday. For many years, we alternated spending Thanksgiving with my side of the family and my husband’s. In the past few years, our traditions have become much more fluid.

My in-laws moved out of state; my Aunt and Uncle, who had hosted Thanksgiving since my teens, both passed in the same year; my brother began hosting; and then we moved to Texas.

Then my boys had the audacity to continue to grow up, graduating from college and moving on to their next things.

This year, Thanksgiving is looking different for a lot of us.

We have a global pandemic, with recommendations to keep our gatherings to a small number of people to help avoid the spread of the virus.

Things that people have done for years and years, to indicate the Thanksgiving holiday, are changing for many of us.

For me, I will spend today with my husband and one of my sons. The three of us will eat some turkey, some pie, and several sides that I’m sure will include quite a few leftovers.

I’m looking forward to trying something new, knowing if it tastes terrible I’ll toss it and eat something else.

Today I’m thankful for the chance to sit quietly and begin the day, waiting for the sun to come up. Watching the sky lighten, I know today will be a fairly nice day. Someday I may take the sunshine and temperate weather that we get here in Texas for granted, but I’m not there yet.

I’m thankful that we have the ability to decide who to be around, and that we are not currently ill. Knowing how many families are missing members for the first time this year, and other families where people are ill or quarantined as they recover, makes me aware of how rough that is and how grateful I am for health.

I’m thankful for the chance to begin the holiday season, knowing that Christmas traditions may also look different for many of us. This Christmas season will include thinking about how to be creative, in order to spend time together in ways that may look and feel different.

I’m still wondering how all of these changes in traditions and work patterns may affect us going forward, when the pandemic does not have such a daily affect in terms of risk to our health, and is more about determining what the middle ground is for changes that we’ve made in the last year.

As you think about your holiday traditions, those that you are keeping and those that you are switching up this year, what things are you grateful for?

What do you think about, as you wake up and prepare for your day? Are you spending it similarly to previous years, or differently?

What about today do you look forward to, and what do you wish were different?

2020 has certainly been a year of changing the status quo.

47 Days: Changing Habits, Creating New Ones, and Social Connections. How the Protective Factor of Social Connections is Being Challenged During COVID

May, 2020

There’s a movie called ‘47 Days’ coming out.

It is a movie scheduled to come out in 2020 about the 47 days it takes to get a correct diagnosis for a woman who has an illness.

There’s another show, that was a television series, called ’24’.

All of the events of each season of the series occurred, in real time, in 24 hours. Jack Bauer was a main character, for those of you who remember the show.

Some episodes showed what was happening from one person’s perspective, and the perspectives would swap back and forth from one characters to another’s to help demonstrate the story, but the clock kept ticking to demonstrate the passage of time.

This social isolation, and change to our habits as we know them, have been ongoing now since Mid-March, 2020. In fact, when I first wrote about how the pandemic has been affecting our lives, I made several comments about March Madness (The NCAA Basketball Tournament), which was scheduled to happen the very next weekend.

In the last few days, as I continue to connect with some friends and family throughout this time of COVID, I have noticed that people have started mentioning where we are at in the timeline of our changes to our daily patterns and routines.

Like the tv series ‘24’, with the ticking clock showing where we are in the span of the 24 hours each season encompassed,

Or the movie ‘47 Days’, which I have not seen but have heard about, which is titled to reflect an amount of time that a diagnosis can take to occur for a health condition.

A friend of mine, with multiple children age 12 and under, texted me back this week when I asked her a couple of questions.

She responded that for ’47 days’, they have been in their house, with both parents attempting to work productively, care for their 3 children, and cook, clean, and take care of all other tasks.

She answered my question, and was able to provide me the help that I was looking for. In her answer, I could both hear and sense her frustration and fatigue about parenting, working, and staying healthy all while being at home, which has been a major disruption to her routine.

Today, I read on social media a post from my cousin about how things have been going for her since this Social Isolation began. She discussed that she hasn’t been able to see her new grandchild except for once, is missing her family and other grandchildren, and multiple other facts specific to her as well as some things that are universal to all of us.

Her love of her family and the fact she has not been able to be physically close to them was reflected in her post. I was also able to sense that she wrote the post to help others in her same situation know that they are not alone.

This time where we work to not spread our germs to each other, so that we can survive and not overwhelm our hospitals so that we may continue to live healthily, wreaks havoc on our Social Connections.

Social connections are the connections we have in our lives which help us get through times of stress, times without stress, and times where we want to enjoy ourselves.

They are the connections we have to help us know we have support when we need it, to help us laugh at something that we find funny, and to get along with others. Our social connections are the people who pick up our kids from day care when we are running late, listen to our story about the guy who scolded us for our driving, and help us decide when it is time for a new haircut (or that letting it grow is a great idea)

The Strengthening Families Institute has identified that there are 5 Protective Factors which help us to get along in life, and to feel better about things, and to be resilient.

The factors are: Parental Resilience, Concrete Support in Times of Need, Social Connections, Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development, and Social and Emotional Competence of Children. I am a National Trainer for them, so this way of thinking is near and dear to my heart.

So here, I want to talk about how our ‘Pause’ has affected our social connections.

21 days establishes a new habit. This means, that with this social distancing and quarrantine, we have all had the chance to establish one new set of habits, which I’ll call ‘the temporary quarantine’ habits, and then to establish a new set of them, which I’ll call the ‘in for the long haul’ habits.

One thing I am wondering is how are you doing with keeping your habit of having social connections, or establishing them if you did not already them?

Many people are starting to think about what it will look like when they get out and about again. Eventually, I will have shorter hair, with a little bit of lighter roots, and I will be getting used to my sons being out of college and into their next steps.

For some, this time has been one of working a ton of hours due to their work role. People who deliver carry-out food from restaurants, people who are grocery shopping for those who are ordering their groceries, medical professionals, and many, many others have had their lives turned upside down in the way of working their jobs differently, whether that is more hours, less patients, or more serious patients when they get them.

For others, this has been a time of extreme financial hardship. Their jobs in society have been ones that may not have the capacity to pay them while their income stream is down, or they may have had to have completely changed the way that they do their job, which may be better, or it may be worse.

But for all of us, whether we generally are at home and go out as we have to, or if we run errands to get around other people and like to have our lives structured, have had to change how we get our social needs met.

Some people are FaceTiming, Some others are spending many, many hours with their kids, and some are teaching others’ kids while they raise their own.

But for all of us, our patterns have changed and that changes how we feel on a day to day basis.

I’ve written previously about the effects on our lives in dealing with and avoiding this virus a couple of times. I wrote about it when it first seemed like things would change, when things really had closed, and now, 45 days in, or 48, or whatever day into or after the pandemic it is today as you read this article.

For some, who rely on social interaction and structure, this time has been really, really isolating.

For those who love to be at home, this time has been one to reduce the number of interactions with others to a level that they are comfortable with, and a way to set boundaries about how they like to talk with friends and family members, and even which hours they like to work.

For myself, my mobility is less because I fell from a bike. I am a mover by nature, and am doing all I can to get this ankle back up and ‘running’, even though running is something I hardly ever do. I am learning to navigate getting around a little differently, so that changes my patterns and everyday connections, in addition to changing how I provide mental health therapy, which prior to now was about 90% in person and face to face, vs Telehealth through a computer screen.

I’d like to think of this time of change and evolving from a few perspectives.

1. How are you adjusting to the changes in your social connections, and how are you working to feel better than you have been during this time of change and stress?

2. What can you do, as you want to talk to others, or even listen to someone else breathe, or to get away from the people in your home, to get that need met?

3. How about those of you who really like structure and routine? When you think about how you get your own needs met, how can you do that as your routines evolve and change? A routine you may have had before the ‘Pause’, is that you woke up, got ready for your day, took the dog out, got the kids ready for school, then left for work.

You may love that routine, but then had to change it to waking up, working quietly while your kids sleep, taking the dog out when he is ready to get up, and then getting the kids up and ready to do their e-learning for school.

Any change in routine can be hard and unsettling. We use our social connections to talk about how these things can be frustrating, and to bond with those close to us about how we are working to get through times of stress.

As I finish this article, I’d like you to think about who your social connections are.

Is it your spouse? Your brother?…..Maybe a best friend from college?

Is it a work friend you no longer see in person as often, or at all?

If you can’t think of any, then I encourage you to start with finding a social connection.

Whoever it is, and however you are used to getting those social needs met, what can you do to make that a little better, and a little easier for you?

What changes to your routine in the last 40+ days would you like to see stick around? Which ones would you like to change back, or to make adjustments to?

I hope that you find something you like to look at today. I love to look at things growing, and can’t get enough of looking at a cactus I planted in early spring.

I’m also hoping to work on expanding my social connections.

The Pause

https://thriveglobal.com/stories/the-pause-2/

Changes: Tele-everything

It’s really interesting to see how companies are changing their norms and the way they do things to adapt to the safe-at-home model.

I am wondering which of these new norms may stay in place, and which of them will go away as our risk for the Coronavirus diminishes over time.

My guess is some things will change, and some things will remain the same. 🙂

I would hope that companies would be more open to their employees doing some work from home. Instead of going into a home visit where there may be germs, bugs, or dangerous people, maybe some companies who previously only allowed in person visits will now allow for some of the tele-health that has been going on during the last few weeks.

My guess is that the platform Zoom will continue to do well. They seem to have the market on teleconferencing, and have allowed some therapists to use their features for free (and other fields is my guess, I’m only familiar with my field).

I’m really wondering about how physical touches when people greet each other will change.

Will the handshake go away? Will we no longer hug friends we haven’t seen in a while, or hug to say goodbye?

Will we start having a 6 feet distance between each other as our social norms?

Only time will tell. I’m hoping that a lot of people are able to stay healthy, including those at risk, those who feel they can live forever, and those of us in between.

What are some things that are helping you get through these times of change and uncertainty?

Are you knitting? My grandma taught me to knit many years ago, and if this continues I may try to pick it back up again. My Aunt Rula taught me to crochet, which seemed a little easier at the time. I macrame-ed in Girl Scouts.

So many options. I’ve been face-timing my mom (and dad), which has been really nice. It is nice to see the person I’m talking with, so I’ll probably keep that up as long as my mom continues to carry her iPhone 5s 🙂

What are some habits you have picked up? What are some things you are thinking about doing, but haven’t done yet?

I’ve read a couple of articles about kids feeling that this time could be a memory that is positive. They spent time at home, which many don’t get a lot of chances to do these days. I call them ‘program’ kids, because they have every minute of their day programmed.

This is certainly a social experiment, and a time to remember how to stay safe while those in the health care field are working harder than ever.

I hope you enjoy your weekend. It’s pretty warm here in Texas. Hope you get some spring weather where you are.

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