Thursday, November 26, 2009

This One is for YOU

You know who you are. You're the one discouraged with the lack of blogging. I know I am probably not the one you most want to hear from but hey, here it is none the less. I don't know why I haven't felt much like blogging. There has been so much going on that should be inspiring me to write. Like my boy turning 16. What would have been Grandpa's 91st birthday. Growing rabbits, entertaining sheep, the changing seasons and the last of my tomatoes and canning with my daughters.

But there has been a blog post in the back of my mind that I think is jamming up the flow. Every now and then I pull it out and think, "I really need to write that". And then I think, "Naw...." I suppose I really do need to write it.

You know, since I graduated from UVic in the summer of 1991, moved to Winnipeg and started facilitating a women's group for survivors of sexual abuse, I have worked as a counsellor. That's what I call myself. I have worked pretty steady at it, although very part time since then. When I first moved to Vernon, I had an ad in the yellow pages and I saw quite a few people through that. When I went to work at NOEES as an employment facilitator, I took the ad out. I continued to see people - clients who had already been seeing me and those who heard about me through word-of-mouth. And that has been perfect with all that has been going on in my life and our family. I really didn't want to work in that way much more than that.

Just lately, I have really been feeling the urge to expand again. I think Rhiannon is at a stage now where she needs less of my time. I have only 2 kids at home and one of them is not home very much. Our window washing business now exceeds 500 customers and is running pretty smoothly with minimal input from me. I don't know, I have just been feeling ready. More grounded and secure in myself, perhaps, too.

So I set to work on a brochure. It is so 'unCanadian' to sell yourself and it was really hard to do. I ended up writing longhand in my journal and setting a timer for 15 minutes and forcing myself to write in 15 minute blocks. That actually worked really well. I think I have made an awesome brochure. Getting some testimonials from clients really helped me, too. So I have this brochure now. Printed even. On nice (partly recycled) paper.

And I have started to distribute them at the library and coffee shops and the People Place and any other place I can think of. But the thing is, I have come to realize that simply putting out brochures around town is probably not enough to actually bring in clients. I need to say what I do. I need to talk to people. I have such a hard time promoting myself in this way. Part of it is that people often seem to feel self-conscious when you tell them you are a counsellor like you are analyzing them. I don't. I don't think most counsellors do. It is a special thing when someone sits down in my office and begins to tell me their story. It takes a lot of focus and attention to be there for them in that moment. I don't go around doing that to random people. Really. The other part, I think is that somehow we think that people who are therapists or counsellors should have everything together. And generally we are just people. Having insight into someone else's problems or being a good listener is not the same has being perfect. And the other part is that it is just hard to say, yes, this is what I do and I'm actually pretty good at it.

It is a lot easier to say we wash windows and we do a very good job - in fact, we guarantee our work. Why is that? I suppose windows are a lot less personal. So that is my challenge right now. This is who I am. I am a counsellor and I am pretty good at it.

Here is an excerpt from my brochure:

About andrea

I have lived and raised my four children in the Vernon area for the last 15 years. Currently, I live in Coldstream on a small acreage with my husband and my two youngest children, as well as sheep, rabbits, chickens, dogs and cats (the animals by far outnumber the people around here!). I homeschool my children and I am interested in living sustainably in self-sufficient community.

I find it a great honour and privilege to walk with people along their journey. It is a joy to work with people at pivotal points in their lives. I am always in awe of the quiet courage so many people demonstrate in facing themselves and taking charge of their lives and growing.

It always fills me with wonder to be a witness to what can be achieved in an environment of acceptance.

Andrea’s Counselling Philosophy

I have an eclectic approach including training and experience in many therapeutic modalities and a degree in psychology. I have 18 years experience working as a counsellor.

I believe our purpose in life is to grow and find the best in ourselves and be happy. I believe it is love that matters, technique is secondary. The love we have for ourselves matters most of all and is the foundation and ultimate reason for any work we do on ourselves.

I believe the healing journey is an exciting journey and one I, myself have traveled. Offering my heart to others on their own journey is part of my path. I have learned that it is not my wisdom my clients are after but help recognizing their own. Our own inherent wisdom is the only one worth seeking.

Real change happens when we feel safe and loved for who we are. We can make change when we find our way back to the wonder of who we are. Sometimes we discover we don’t need to change the things we thought we did, and other times, changes we were afraid of making happen with ease.

Real growth happens when we make our dreams come true. And to our hearts, nothing is impossible. We can accomplish great goals one step at a time – “how does a plant grow? How does the tide rise? Gradually, gradually.”

To examine these beliefs and grow through them is the deepest form of self-analysis – to see how they have fashioned our feelings, our experiences – our very lives. Usually we absorbed these beliefs without thinking – without deciding. Finding and changing beliefs that no longer suit us can be difficult but very rewarding work. Usually the greatest obstacle is our own inertia. It can be tremendously liberating to unearth our beliefs and replace them with more affirming ones.


beetlemack said...

thanks for posting!! I think you'll be a great councelor(sp?) too. I enjoyed the excerpt from your pamphlet. If I were looking for a councelor that's the kinds of thinks I'd like to read.

Andrea said...

thanks, Bean - great profile pic, by the way!

Laura said...

i liked the brochure too. and i like that you like what you're doing.

Sarah-Lynn said...

Isn't it interesting how timing is so important and either makes things matter or not matter? I'm glad that your window washing business is well established and that you are able to turn your attention to something else you want to do. Don't get too busy with it though, I'll want plenty of Andrea attention next time I visit, and so will Adriel, heck I'm sure Sloan will too.
When I read that you only have two kids left at home, one being 16, and the other not needing as much of your attention, I feel like I'm so far away from that point. Sometimes it's crazy to me that we're sisters, and we connect so easily and well, and yet our lives are at such different places. But that's the beauty of being sisters, I think.
Why do you get to have so many talents anyway? What with acting/directing, teaching and working with kids, counseling, taking care of animals, knitting, cooking, and just being plain SMART...the list goes on and on, and I'm continually jealous in an awe-inspiring kind of way.

Andrea said...

Ah Poosie! I love you, too! There is no need to be jealous - you are so talented, too! Amazing hair stylist, wonderful mom, soccer player, and a fast runner, too. And your list goes on and on! said...

That's neat. I didn't know you were a counselor at all. I think you mentioned something about it to me once, but not in a way that made me think of professional capacity. How exciting that you're going to put more focus on that now. I agree with Bethany - those are the things I'd like in a prospective counselor. Power to ya!!

Monique said...

Andrea - you are truly a gifted counsellor - and you know darn well that things start to happen when we put our heartfelt intent out there in the world - our intent for something that comes not from our egos but from our love. So you better hold on to your hat....things will start to happen!