My Africa trip was incredible. I don’t know if incredible is the right word, but that is all I can come up with right now. It never really seemed real and was very real at the same time. Several times, I said to Rose, “I can’t believe we are actually here.” Never would I have imagined going. It is something I always wanted to do, but never thought would actually happen.
The flights were long. Uncomfortable. But completely worth it. The flight from Casper to Denver was very quick and uneventful. Denver to Washington DC was longer, but I watched Titanic. Then onto Africa. We made a stop in Accra, Ghana. That was a little over a 10 hour flight. We couldn’t get off the plane in Ghana but were able to stand up and stretch a little. My feet and ankles were getting swollen. I was trying to walk and stretch as much as I could. I was very thankful for an aisle seat for that reason. I was able to get up and go to the bathroom or walk and stretch whenever I wanted, without bothering the person sitting next to me. Rose, on the other hand, was not as fortunate. She was seated next to the window, next to a person who did not stand up. At all. Both long flights. I felt so bad for her! We made it to Johannesburg in one piece and that is all that matters! We were greeted at the airport in Joburg by Celia and Pieter. Lovely people. So grateful I got to meet them and spend a week exploring with them and learning from them. We waited around for Malcolm to come pick us up. He was the driver Rose hired for us to take us from the airport to the Amakoekoe – the beautiful place we were staying at before going up to Kruger. Malcolm had brought a trainee driver with him – Silas. While driving from the airport, Rose was asking a lot of questions. It turns out that Silas and Malcolm were raised as brothers. Malcolm’s family adopted Silas when his mother died. We got to the Amakoekoe and it was beautiful. The room was nice and the grounds were beautiful. So many beautiful and fragrant flowers! I couldn’t breathe in enough of the smells. We kept the terrace door to our room open whenever we were in our room and even when we were sleeping. The breeze would blow and the jasmine would come into our room. I wished I could bottle up the smells to bring them home with me. Our first full day of being in Johannesburg, we slept. We slept so late that housekeeping came a couple times trying to clean our room. We walked around the grounds so that our room could be cleaned. Then we rested some more. Rose ended up texting Malcolm to see if he could pick us up and take us to dinner. He said he couldn’t but Silas could. We asked Silas to join us for dinner and he accepted. He took us to a western themed restaurant. The food was good and the company was great. We talked Silas’ ear off and he was a trooper! We made plans for him to pick us up the next morning to do some sightseeing around Johannesburg. He took us to the Apartheid Museum. We spent about an hour and half there. When we bought our tickets, we were issued a “white” ticket or a “non white” ticket and that determined which entrance you used. It was definitely a weird feeling. After the museum, Silas took us to Soweto and Vilakazi street. The street where Nelson Mandela lived. There were street vendors up and down the whole street, along with people asking and wanting money from us. I was very thankful we had Silas with us. Ann, who was with us, got caught up in it and probably would’ve given away all of her money if Silas wasn’t there to tell people to go away. We also got to meet Silas and Malcolm’s dad, who is a Baptist pastor in Johannesburg. He is involved in several ministries, including feeding children at the Joe Slovo camp. It is basically a squatter camp, but the people aren’t called squatters. They are called informal settlers. We got to help them feed the children. The bus that had the food in it drove up and the children came running and lined up, single file, waiting for the food. It was incredible to see. As I passed out the hot dogs, nearly every child said thank you and looked so happy. We got to walk around the camp with two ladies, one works with Pastor Willie and the other lives there. We distributed newspapers that the church puts out. It was interesting listening to them and seeing the different people. It is definitely something I will never forget. Saturday was another rest day. Sunday we went to Ceila and Pieter’s house for tea and meeting our fellow congress goers! Then it was to bed early. We were being picked up at 4am to leave for Kruger! Rose and I could not sleep a wink that night. Maybe it was because of excitement, who knows? But that made for a very long and tiring trip up to Kruger. More to come…
Well… in 9 days I am leaving for South Africa. I can’t believe it is here. I can’t believe I am so close. We made all of our plans at the end of May and into June. Then, there was over 100 days to go until the trip. It was a distant thought. However, it is now here. And I have so many emotions going through me…
I am so nervous/scared. I have never been out of the United States before. I don’t have much experience traveling. I have never been on a long flight.
I am so excited. I have never been out of the United States before. I should have done that way before now, but here I am doing it. I am going to experience so much that I have only dreamed of. We will be going on 6 safaris. I will get to see elephants!! My favorite animal! I will get to see so many other animals. In their habitat… not in a zoo.
I am also so excited because I will be learning more about sandplay. It is fascinating and I get to learn more. In South Africa. Holy moly…
I have thought long about this topic. When I was younger and growing up, I always thought my life was to get married and have babies. I thought that I needed to be a mother. If someone asked me if I wanted kids, I kind of scoffed and said yes and wondered to myself, why are they asking me?! Of course, I’m supposed to have kids. That thought stayed with me for a while. The more that I was asked that and auto replied, the more I really started to think about it. I honestly don’t know if I want to have children. Who am I to bring a child into the world? What if I don’t want that sort of responsibility? What happens if I have a child and he/she is incredibly screwed up for the rest of his/her life?
I hate when people ask me that question now. I respond with something like “no I don’t want kids.” Or “I am not sure if I want kids.” I always get the same responses. “You would be such a such a good mother.” Or “kids are such a blessing/kids are so cute.” It is really uncomfortable. Why can’t we be ok with women and men choosing not to have children? Why must a woman be born just to have children?
I have been watching The Wonder Years on Netflix lately and I am loving it. I always wished I was born at a different time. I feel like things would be much simpler “back then.” But then again, maybe not. Kids grew up the same, had the same worries, fears, and anxieties. I wonder what it would be like to live without the technology of today. I love the easy access to everything today, but what if I didn’t have lights in every room? What if I didn’t have a big color tv to watch whatever I wanted? I would love to experience that life.
I am getting more confidence lately as a counselor. Sometimes, I feel like I am living a dream. Am I really a counselor? Have I really graduated with my Master’s degree? Sometimes I feel like it’s too good to be true, that eventually I will wake up from this dream and I will still be working at Pizza Hut or McDonalds. But I’m not. I am working with some amazing children. I am seeing improvements in their lives. I am a part of that. I am getting referrals from other professionals in the community. What?! I am excited.
As happy as I was when I wrote my last entry, something happened that made me doubt myself. I had to write a letter for a parent who had court this morning. The letter didn’t even get read because I am “not actually a therapist.” Which is untrue. I am provisionally licensed, plus my supervising therapist cosigned the letter. It is frustrating, but I can’t let it get me down. I have DFS wanting me to see a child because of my experience at St. Joes. That makes me feel good. It makes me feel good that DFS is starting to refer to me. I hope I am doing a good job. I really really hope. My supervisor does well at encouraging me and teaching me and guiding me.
I have been wanting to do so many things lately, but I have been feeling so tired and lazy. I hate how lazy I have felt. My apartment is getting messy. I don’t know if it laziness or if it is the heat. It has been so damn hot and it is even hotter in my apartment. No air conditioner. Third floor. Days reaching 100 degrees… the rest of the week in the 90’s. It sucks. I get home from work and don’t want to do anything. I sweat just sitting. I can’t sleep because of it. Lately I have been sleeping with a fan and that seems to be helping. I am surprised that I have been able to sleep with a fan on. I am such a light sleeper, that any noise wakes me up.But I am hoping I can start sleeping better and get more energy.
It has been interesting for me to hear people referring to me as a therapist. I know that I have graduated with my degree in it. I know that I am provisionally licensed by the state of Wyoming. I know that I have a full caseload… but to hear it, is totally different. I was in supervision with Rose yesterday, and let me tell you, she is the best. She is encouraging, helpful, and is teaching me so much. She is able to point things out to me that I never would have noticed. She is able to tell me what I need to hear. She says that I am doing good work and that I am a good therapist.
I have also heard that from a clients mother. She made me tear up a little. She is moving, so next week is the last time I will be seeing her. I have been seeing her since September. Almost a year. The progress she has made is amazing. She is one of my favorite clients and I love talking about her and the progress she has made.
I love what I do. I love being a counselor. I love working with children. I am glad I am able to do what I do.
I am blown away by the response I got from my last blog… I was unsure if I was going to even share it with anyone, but I am glad I did. I got a lot of encouragement from people… people I wasn’t expecting to even read it.
When I worked at St. Joseph’s, I worked with a lot of different children. Different ages, different backgrounds, different problems. It was a very, very difficult job. It was also very rewarding. I got to talk with some incredible children and I hoped that I would make a difference in their lives. I like to think I did, but you can never really know. Every once in a while, a child who had been discharged would call us up on the unit and let us know how they are doing… but they didn’t happen all the time. Now, with social media, I am able to connect with people who I worked with. Sometimes they aren’t doing the greatest, sometimes they are doing ok, and sometimes they are doing amazing.
After I posted my blog to facebook, I got a lot of likes and comments and they were all very positive and encouraging. However, I did get a message from a girl I worked with as a young teen. She was on the living unit I worked on when I first started working at St. Joseph’s 6 years ago. It made me cry. It was so real. So heartfelt. It made me realize that I had made a difference in at least one person’s life. This is what it said:
Stephanie, I know we haven’t spoken in many years and I know I was just a small blip of time in your life – but I just read the blog post you just shared. To be honest, It brought me to tears. As I was reading I recognized so much of myself in you – the fear of being out of your comfort zone and not believing you are good enough to reach your dreams. I’ve changed so much since my time at St. Joe’s and I’m so grateful for the roll you played in my life. I never believed I was smart enough to go to college or even graduate high school. But, I graduated as the Valedictorian with a year of undergrad classes under my belt, I got accepted into one of the best Anthropology programs in the country, and I’m doing far better than I ever thought I would. You inspire me to work harder and this might not mean much coming from the 14 year old kid you knew 6 years ago, but I’m so proud that you’ve achieved so much. I never told you but, when you and Anne came to visit me in Casper you were the only people to voluntarily visit me in over a year – and for that I will be forever grateful. Words cannot express how much that few hour visit has meant to me over the years. I wish for you the best life and to have all of the amazing adventures as you possibly can.
That simple message alone touched me in a way I can’t even begin to express. That one message means that my career at St. Joe’s was a success. I hope that I can continue to make a difference in people’s lives. I know that I am who I am today because of the people in my life.