Posted on June 21, 2017
Posted on June 21, 2017Happy Wednesday!
I wanted to share more about my story and background, so you know what and who you are supporting. I will describe different parts of my story in different updates. For this one, I'll start with my family.
I am the youngest of two kids from a split family in TN. My parents divorced when I was four, but remained excellent co-parents for my brother and I. My mom is an incredibly intelligent, hardworking, and ultra quirky Critical Care/Rapid Response nurse with spunk and patterned cat-eye glasses that only she could pull off. Her small house is a myriad of colors and patterns that instantly wake up the senses of everyone who comes to visit. She likes to experiment when she cooks, and sometimes that goes well, and other times...Without fail, every time I come home, she walks me through her garden stretching all around the house to show me the latest additions, growth, and cool insects she has found. She is also a woman of strong faith and character. She taught me to be thoughtful and attentive to those in need. She taught me to be open to new information and perspectives. And she taught me to never compromise on my convictions. She has been like a second mother to more than one person in need of a place to stay or a family to trust, and I couldn't be happier to share her with them.
My dad was in the Air Force for a number of years as crew chief of an aviation maintenance crew before becoming an aviation mechanic in the private sector. He had a small mini-farm where we raised chickens, grew vegetables and fruit, attracted all the nearby cats (much to my delight), and kept the doors and windows wide open at night to keep the house cool. His hands were always rough and dirty, and he always made us pray before dinner. He was one of the most generous people I've ever known. We always grew way more food than we needed, and as a local organic grower, he could have earned a small profit selling our produce. Instead, he would load up the truck as much as he could fill it and drop the food off at an unsuspecting friend's house. He was also a bit rough around the edges, but that just made him more human. In 2011 he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a form of leukemia, and passed away July 31, 2014. He is missed by many.
My brother is two years older than me and recently married an amazing woman. He is currently working on his degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology and is a soldier in the United States National Guard. He is a black hawk crew chief and has served one tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Both of my parents worked their hardest to care for my brother and I, and we always had our needs met. However, we went without iPods and video games. Family vacations only ever consisted of driving to Ohio to visit our extended family, all of whom lived 8 hours away and therefore couldn't serve as a regular system of support. Most of our clothes came from Goodwill, and we rarely enjoyed frivolous things like going to the movie theater. That is not to say we did not have a fulfilling childhood. We certainly did. However, we had to learn to make the best of our modest circumstances and be grateful for what we had regardless of whether or not our friends had more than us. We learned the value of hard work, appreciation, caring for our blessings, and sharing with others. We had many friends who grew up with more than us and others who grew up with less. We were raised in that sweet spot where we had enough that our needs were met, but never so much that we forgot how important it is to be grateful and generous.
However, my family also faced incomparable trials. Over the years, we faced alcoholism, abuse, the pain of divorce, PTSD, depression, and other mental health issues that could have torn us apart. Fortunately, we were able to access help. Through counseling and other interventions, our family experienced healing and redemption. Mental health resources have served an invaluable role in the strength and health of my family and in each of us individually. This is how I first became interested in becoming a mental health professional. I have seen the wonders counseling can work in people's lives, and feel it is my duty to give back to others who may need help but cannot access it.