Let Me Take A Selfie

I am slightly nervous as I sit down to write this post.

I am going to be very vulnerable and transparent with what I am about to say. Not with my secrets, but with my dreams. Things I dream about day-in and day-out but like all of us, don’t always vocalize or articulate. 

But today is different. Today, August 10th 2016, was my Master of Arts in Counseling orientation for Regis University. It is a three year, 60 credit hour program, plus an additional 12 credit hours for my specialties in Marriage & Family Counseling and Addiction Counseling.

I am writing this post for two reasons.

Reason one: I want to commemorate this big day, for myself, as I start this next exciting chapter in my life. It took me so long to decide what I wanted to do in graduate school. I flipped around between nutrition & dietetics, sports psychology, social work, and even business management.

What I KNEW to be true was that I wanted to help people discover more about themselves; even if that involved some really hard work. I am not afraid of messy. And I am definitely not afraid of difficult.

So after my life altering experience in a partial hospitalization treatment center for eating disorders, I knew I wanted to be involved in the mental health field is some way or another.

And now, I am going to say something that may sound contradictory to what I have been saying.

I chose to go into the field of counseling psychology NOT to help other people, but to fill myself up. When I talk to other people, on an authentic and deep level, and somehow as a team, we aren’t afraid to face the messy together… that is what fills me up. It provides me with meaning and purpose in this life. It makes sense of my suffering.

Having tasted what unapologetic, imperfect, whole living is while in treatment, I decided I was never going to go back. I will not go back to surface level pleasantries in fear of real emotion, to succumbing to societal pressures to look like models in magazines, or to placing anyone’s health and well-being above my own.

I will go on living in a place of authenticity, rawness, and mess because to me that is real. Without a doubt, these feelings have been transformative in my life, and I firmly believe that everyone has the right, or dare I say it... need, to experience this as well.

So that is why I am pursing my masters in counseling. Because I firmly believe that I can facilitate conversations and interactions in the world that will produce more authentic, whole and emotionally aware members of society.

Reason two: I have BIG dreams. Sometimes so big they scare me. FemTribe is one of those BIG dreams. In the future, FemTribe will be a health & wellness oasis for women; where they can have access to the best and most comprehensive mental, physical, and nutritional health care/education. So this post is to talk about why I chose Regis University to pursue my higher education and how the pairing will impact the development of FemTribe.

With that being said, I am going to elaborate on the two above mentioned reasons for this post, by dissecting and talking about the Regis Master of Arts in Counseling mission statement. The mission statement is in italics.

"Through the development of the whole person in mind, body, and spirit, students in the Master of Arts (MA) in Counseling program will gain an understanding of their values and an ethical willingness to effect personal and cultural transformation."

When researching graduate schools, I came across this mission statement for MAC students. I immediately knew that I had come across a very special program that I needed to be a part of.  

FemTribe is:

 “a company that focuses on women; specializing in their physical, mental, and nutritional health. We believe that when those three core values of health are attained, women can authentically excel and prosper in all aspects of their lives.”

They sound similar in ways, right? When I describe FemTribe to people, I try to explain that we are a “WHOLE PERSON” approach to fitness by integrating the mind, body, and spirit because we believe that when those three things work congruently, truly beautiful transformations happen.

Okay, so here I go. I’m going to be vulnerable and transparent with you about a dream. A big dream. And in this dream, all of this would happen over the next three years while I am in school so that when I graduate, FemTribe can truly take off.

Incredible personal trainers who have university degrees in health and personal training, engaging and ass-kicking group exercise classes, a dedicated yoga studio, free weights and cables room, state-of-art fitness equipment, full kitchen with a twelve seat dinning table, nutritionist office, physical therapist office, counseling offices, massage therapist office, a small store with the latest in fitness apparel and food, just to name a few of the amazing things that FemTribe would offer.

That’s a lot. And I know that. But like I said, I am choosing to be vulnerable and transparent about my dreams in this post, so there you have it.

With that being said, I am also going to choose to believe that these next two statements can, or may be, true on their own or simultaneously.

Statement A: Everything goes perfectly! I graduate from Regis with no financial debt, with a perfect 4.00 GPA, and FemTribe gets their own space with everything previously mentioned above. Additionally, all FemTribe staff have great paychecks and everyone is happy! In the end, everything works out.

Statement B: Everything goes perfect, because NOTHING goes perfect! My three-year plan doesn’t go exactly as planned. The plan takes weird twists and turns. It’s really hard and I cry a lot. It’s stressful but so very rewarding. In the end, everything works out.

I accept, that both statement A and B, have the potential to be true. So please spare me the lecture that I need to calm down, stop dreaming so big, or I need to be more realistic. I am simultaneously telling you my dreams AND accepting that my dreams will mostly likely look NOTHING like how I dreamed them.

In the end, everything will work out.

Now, back to Regis’ MAC mission statement. Regis’ mission exemplifies how I want to live my life. I know this because I have tried living just for the body and let me tell you, it doesn’t work. My own authentic happiness has only come when I have connected mind, body, and spirit. Any school, company, or organization that has a mission statement like this, is one that I most certainly want to be involved with.

“Gain an understanding of their [the students] values and an ethical willingness to effect personal and cultural transformation.”

Schools like Regis are needed, because what if everyone in the world could gain a better understanding of their values? How much less crime, hate, and violence might we have? Understanding, to the core of you, who you are and what you believe creates a stability in a person that is needed in our current tumultuous world.

It can be hard for me to put into words, but just like some women feel the need to be mothers, or some men feel the need to be in nature, I feel the need to effect personal and cultural transformation because I am addicted to the combination of honesty and personal growth.

"The MA Counseling Program provides clinical mental health training and supervision to future Professional Counselors. Learning experiences are informed by Jesuit educational values and traditions. Students engage in personal reflection and critical thinking while developing a discerning mind and heart, dedicated to the service of others in need."

How amazing does this sound. When I read this, I couldn’t dish over my tuition fast enough.

“Students engage in personal reflection and critical thinking…” YES! This is wonderful as life would be so boring if it didn’t continually inspire some kind of internal reflection and critical thinking.

“While developing a discerning mind and heart…” Beautiful. That to me is real beauty. Because unlike physical beauty, a discerning heart and mind will never fade but only gets better with age. This is the gift that keeps on giving. And even if only part of this mission statement comes true for me, I know it will be the best education dollar I have ever spent.

“Dedicated to the service of others in need.” Helping people understand themselves and facilitate real interactions revolved around love and acceptance, is what makes me tick. It gives me purpose. It makes me feel whole. So a program dedicated to the service of others is the only place I can envision myself pursuing my degree.

"Graduates are prepared to live as reflective, inquisitive, creative, and service oriented leaders. They are ready to make a positive impact with an emphasis on social justice and advocacy in a changing society."

And there it is. The grand finale. I can’t help but feel a little overwhelmed by the gravity of that last sentence. It is equally exciting as it is frightening. But then again, when I think back to other times in my life when I felt equal parts fear and excitement, it has always turned out to be one of the best things in my life. For example, moving to Denver alone or self-admitting myself into an eating disorder treatment center.

I am choosing to trust my past experiences, that something great is going to happen over these next three years. Something extraordinarily transformative.

So here I am. Arms wide open and ready to fail. Ready to excel. Ready to learn. Ready to transform. Ready to work. Ready to cry. Ready to inspire. Ready to be inspired. I may be nothing right now, with just $150 in my bank account and big dreams flooding my heart, but world—here I come. You haven’t met this version of me yet because this is one I’ve been waiting to become.

 At orientation this morning, one of the first things said to us was "take a selfie of yourself today because when you graduate in three years, you will not be the same person that is here today." So there I am! This was me, at 7:30am as I anxiously finished my hair and make-up for Regis' graduate school orientation. 

At orientation this morning, one of the first things said to us was "take a selfie of yourself today because when you graduate in three years, you will not be the same person that is here today." So there I am! This was me, at 7:30am as I anxiously finished my hair and make-up for Regis' graduate school orientation. 

 

Master of Arts in Counseling Mission Statement:
Through the development of the whole person in mind, body, and spirit, students in the Master of Arts (MA) in Counseling program will gain an understanding of their values and an ethical willingness to effect personal and cultural transformation.
The MA Counseling Program provides clinical mental health training and supervision to future Professional Counselors. Learning experiences are informed by Jesuit educational values and traditions. Students engage in personal reflection and critical thinking while developing a discerning mind and heart, dedicated to the service of others in need.
Graduates are prepared to live as reflective, inquisitive, creative, and service oriented leaders. They are ready to make a positive impact with an emphasis on social justice and advocacy in a changing society.