one year down

My third semester, and my first YEAR, are behind me. There is nothing like the elation of papers handed in and being finished with a semester. I will enjoy my “5 days of summer,” as a fresh semester starts next week.

This semester was WORLDS better than last. Last fall I had two paper-and-presentation-heavy classes with hard graders. Delving into stages of moral development in one class and diagnosable personality disorders in another during the election was a surreal position to be in.

I just wrapped up two of what will be surely be my favorite classes of the program: Grief Therapy and Cultural Issues and Social Justice.

9781304859624_p0_v1_s118x184Grief Therapy: Dr. Annamarie Fidel-Rice was unlike any professor I have had (OK, she was a little like Dr. Pat Sablatura of Spirituality and Counseling, another favorite). Her book, The Alchemy of Grief, was a fascinating analogy of the transformative nature of grief. Her focus in class was that heart, not head, is required when companioning the griever. Grief is not understandable or answerable. She stressed “grief demands feeling” and “attend to it.” It’s basically as simple as that. If you allow yourself to feel, to grieve, in THAT comes the healing. Which is so counter to nearly everything in our society. Many families of origin don’t foster this. Greater society bombards with messages to cover it/hurry it up/don’t mention it. It sounds easy to “attend to your grief,” right? Do you schedule time each day to attend to yours? If you’re looking for a unique book on grief, that is from a “depth” perspective filled with symbolism and metaphor, I recommend Dr. Fidel-Rice’s book. If you read it let me know what you think…

Cultural Issues and Social Justice: Can you say, perfect timing? We learned that being an ethical counselor entails an expectation greater than charity. Advocacy in changing social and political systems that cause marginalization is the expectation.

I had more reason to appreciate my Jesuit university with the service learning requirement for this class. My group volunteered with Family Promise of Greater Denver, that houses homeless families at churches while they partake in a structured program back to employment and housing. We got to teach self care classes to children and adults. Shouts out to my partners, Carrie, Lauren, and Darrin!

This class stressed that knowing/admitting our own biases (that we all have) is important going into the profession. Delving into many marginalized groups’ experiences, and just what White privilege is, was informative. Also noteworthy: learning that gender and sexuality are more of a nonbinary continuum on which we all fall, and learning about microaggressions that happen every day and the toll that hundreds of these over time take.

Research Methods: I don’t have much to say about this class (statistics, bleh). I’ll just say that my proposal set out to answer this research question: Does journaling for 30 minutes once a week improve a bereaved parent’s grief symptoms? We didn’t actually carry out our projects, as there wasn’t enough time, but got into all aspects of the scientific research process.

I’m ready for the next semester. After three semesters I’m in a groove…bring it on. I needed the past super interesting and bit easier semester to recharge after the last hard one. Some people take summer semester off…but it’s my favorite. It’s still light out for the drive home, the weather’s nice, and I get to spend more time with Asher on his summer break, easing school/family balance. With the anniversary of Kade’s death coming up on June 29th, I see school not as a hardship to get through in spite of the difficult time in my life…but as an additional bonus support through the difficult time.

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