Search

The Enchanted Outlook

Back to School!

StockSnap_EWT7K0DQLN

It’s official: I’m going back to school next year to pursue a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Now, whenever I tell people this, they tend to assume that I’ll be working in child protective services. So, if you’re unfamiliar with  the degree, I’ll give you some information about social work and explain how it relates to what I do here on this blog as well.

Social work can be defined as work done by trained individuals with the goal of aiding and empowering those in need. Lots of different occupations can be considered social work; for instance:

  • positions in nonprofit management
  • individuals in hospitals who develop plans of care
  • government workers who see if individuals qualify for assistance
  • counselors
  • people who work in politics and advocate for individuals’ rights

Social work also encompasses a wide variety of fields, including education, healthcare, mental health, economics, politics, urban development, and more. So, you can imagine it’s a broad degree that is applicable to a lot of areas.

What exactly will I be doing, and how does it relate to The Enchanted Outlook? Well, I’m pursuing a clinical track, and my goal is to become a licensed counselor. There are several different degrees which lead to clinical licensure, including social work, counseling, and psychology; one reason that I chose the social work track, besides the broadness of the field, was because it takes a slightly different perspective. Instead of a primary focus of adapting an individual to their environment, as some other counseling degrees would, a social worker also takes into account sociological factors and aims to help adapt environment to the individual.

For instance, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) counseling a client who had been raped might connect their client with legal resources. An LCSW counseling a client who was disabled and out of work might take some steps to assist that client in finding appropriate employment. LCSWs are frequently found in public and nonprofit settings, but counsel in the private sector as well. While there are a lot of overlaps between this and other forms of counseling, I really liked the sociological perspective that social work provides, especially with where my country is at the present, and the opportunity to advocate for individuals and groups that it gives.

My intent is to have a very balanced approach to my counseling, though, which brings me back to this blog. In The Enchanted Outlook, I talk a lot about cognitive reframing, which is about changing the way we perceive things and viewing them in a more helpful way. This is a technique which I intend to bring into my counseling. I hope that all of my future clients will be able to walk away from their sessions seeing life in a bit more “magical” way. I also intend to share counseling tips and tricks regarding cognitive reframing here, so I hope that having this advanced degree will enrich my blogging and be helpful to you all as well.

I will have two years of school, and then two to three years of post-graduate field work, before obtaining licensure, so this will be a long and arduous journey, but I’m so excited to get started this fall! I am apologizing in advance for inconsistent blogging that is sure to come once I’m in the thick of it, but hopefully the quality of my information obtained through my education will compensate for lack of quantity of posts. That’s it; I hope this wasn’t too boring and that it clarified some things for you. Thanks for stopping by!

The-cave-you-fear-to

Aging the Wabi Sabi Way

pexels-photo-129722.jpeg

Three things happened to me this past week that were a wake-up call:

  • I overheard a volunteer at my work refer to me as a “lady.”
  • A younger coworker commented that I “looked tired.”
  • I wasn’t carded when I ordered a wheat beer at a restaurant.

All of those things were true. I’m not a girl; I’m a lady. I was tired. I’m not twenty-one; I’m thirty.

So why did I feel bad? Maybe because I’m not at the point in my professional life where I thought I’d be at this age? Maybe because life hasn’t exactly played out how I’d anticipated it would? Maybe because society pays attention to (or objectifies) younger women while ignoring older women? Or maybe because I have a husband who still gets carded when buying video games?

Rather than sit in the muck for too long about this, though, I turned my attention to Wabi Sabi. If you are unfamiliar with Wabi Sabi, it’s a Japanese philosophy that states three principles:

  • Nothing is perfect.
  • Nothing is permanent.
  • Nothing is complete.

In short, it’s a reverence for the transience and imperfection of life. Wabi Sabi philosophy believes life is all the more beautiful for its continuously changing state. The bumps, cracks, and rough edges of Wabi Sabi objects make them all the more beautiful. You can find Wabi Sabi in a patched dress or a cracked mug that has been repaired.

We can also find Wabi Sabi in ourselves. We are all imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Rather than having that be a source of stress, it can be a source of beauty. The cracks and bumps we acquire, inside and out, can make us all the more beautiful. The wisdom we have accumulated over the years shows up not only in our minds, but can be seen on our faces. I think that is a beautiful thing, and something worth celebrating.

Find-a-place-inside

If-you-can-see-your-path

You Gotta Live

to-live-will-be-an-awfully-big-adventure

I was recently helping a six-year-old read a book. The book was entitled Alive or Not Alive and went through an array of people, animals, and objects, categorizing them as either “Alive” or “Not Alive.” I.E. “The man is alive. The hat is not alive.”

The boy I was working with took one look at the book cover and closed his eyes thoughtfully. “Oh man,” he said. “You gotta live! I mean, you really gotta LIVE!”

I tried my hardest to keep from laughing as we worked through the remainder of the lesson. Later, I shared this humorous moment with a few friends and coworkers.

Slowly, though, what started as a funny moment in my day became a new mantra.

Friend was worried about taking time off? “You gotta live!”

Husband worried about splurging on something he’s been wanting for a long time? “You gotta live!”

I’m worried about spending my Saturday relaxing instead of tackling my to-do list? “Stacey, you gotta live!”

It’s too easy to get caught up in the the day-to-day drama, the stress, the never-ending list of things that could be done. But- living with intention means we have to be deliberate about stepping out of the rat-race every single day, even if just for a moment. It’s an exercise that takes practice. It means learning to swim against the current. It means prioritizing our dreams.

Life is short. It’s even shorter when we forget to live it.

She Woke Up

0683f3c52a957b67459a2c0bf68d91aa

(Pinterest: author unknown)

Enchantment in Light and Darkness

StockSnap_QK5BAKUU9P

I have been studying the concept of magic and its connection to the concept of happiness for about four years now.  It has been an incredible journey so far and has lead me down all sorts of paths I never thought I would travel. I would like to revisit one aspect of the subject today and clarify an opinion that has… not so much changed, but has lately been easier to put into words.

I have defined enchantment in relation to how the term is used in fantasy literature. In fantasy, an enchantment is a type of magic that alters the perception of the individual, rather than altering the world around them. When a person is enchanted, they see things differently. In this way, The Enchanted Outlook is a term I made up for the concept of learning how to alter our perspectives to see things in a more imaginative and positive way. In other words, it’s about cognitive re-framing.

However, because  I have spent my career working in settings where I see social injustice on a daily basis, one concept that I have personally grappled with is where cognitive re-framing fits in with inequality and injustice. Certainly, to suggest that any person suffering from an external cause would have their problems disappear by simply shifting their perspective is irresponsible and blames the wrong source. Trust me: I’ve been given this advice myself during times of grief and loss and it wasn’t comforting. Changing how we view the world does not make the world change, and it does not make the monsters go away.

I turn, instead, to one of my favorite passages, from G. K. Chesterson about the power of fairy tales for children:

Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms him for a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear.

You may have seen this condensed as the quote, “Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.”

I don’t present the concept of an Enchanted Outlook because I don’t know the world can be ugly or because I want to blame those who suffer at its expense. Rather, I present this concept because I DO know that it can be an ugly place. I hope that the Enchanted Outlook serves as inspiration to defeat whatever monsters may be out there through offering hope.

And so, with this blog, I offer a shift in perspective that I hope will provide courage to face the world with a renewed spirit, regardless of your circumstances or your beliefs. For, whether you are trying to make small changes in your life, or you are going through a terrible darkness that feels completely out of your control, we all need a spark of hope and happiness in order to fight our own dragons.

 

Featured post

Hello Again!

profile pic Daniel's wedding

Greetings blog world! I’ve missed you! It’s been a while, so I thought I’d update you on a few of the things I’ve been up to while I’ve been, ahem… not blogging.

  • I’ve been getting to know my new city and taking in all the sights.
  • I’ve finished four grad school applications, with a fifth one in-progress. I should hear back in March-April, so fingers crossed!
  • I’m halfway through my year of service with a local literacy nonprofit, and am helping nearly fifty students in an under-served school meet their literacy needs.
  • I’ve lost seven pounds! I wish I could give you some tips and tricks, but it’s been mostly burning calories shuttling children around at work. Bad cold (or flu?) and stomach bug also contributed, unfortunately.
  • I’ve been on a book binge! Books on tape driving to and from work, reading books all day to kids, and a small book club with my high school friends. (New favorites blog post coming soon!)
  • I’ve been learning a little Korean. Or, at least how to read it. Work in progress on that one.
  • I’ve been on a minimalism/zero waste/plant-based food kick. These are all works in progress too, but I’ve really been enjoying watching Youtube videos and making small changes. I bought almost an entire new work wardrobe second-hand from Clothes Mentor and Thred-up and saved a ton of money in the process.

Now, confession time, I HATE life transitions. I mean, absolutely hate them. Big life changes make me terribly nervous and I have a tendency to want to avoid them. This year, though, changes were thrust upon me, and I just accepted that I was going to be anxious about them. Accepting that aspect of myself somehow made things a lot easier because I was kind to myself throughout the process rather than trying to be hard on myself. I practiced self-care and self-acceptance rather than trying to perfect the process. I also treated the whole thing as an adventure and decided to be grateful for new opportunities, because every life experience is temporary anyway. I’m still in a very transitional place in my life right now, but I’m learning to enjoy that more and to live in the moment.

So, now that grad school apps are almost done and I’m past the half-way mark with my year of service, I’m hoping to be blogging more often. I’ve got a few new ideas, but also let me know if there is anything you would like to hear from me!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑