Everyone keeps asking me how my job at the Peer Support and Respite Center is going, so I thought I'd write a post to catch y'all up.
I haven't moved into that beautiful, big house yet, but I will soon. We just now got the utilities turned on. Furniture buying comes next. It's a lot of space to furnish, so it will probably take some time!
Tomorrow I will be going to New England to tour Respite Centers up there. As far as I know there are only three that exist. These places are scarce around the country. I'm going to find out why they are scarce and what works and what doesn't work. I'm going to learn everything I can during this trip. We'll be there all week (I'm traveling with two others), and from what I am hearing, New England will be getting its first big snowfall tomorrow night, right as we are landing. Yikes! I bought my first pair of snow shoes. Yes, my first. LOL! Who needs snow shoes in Georgia? So this will be an adventure. I have a laptop, so I will (hopefully) be able to keep up with my online life. I also have a new cell phone! This also is a first for me.
Next week we will be holding interviews for the job positions at the Respite Center. Then we will all begin training with Shery Mead. If you don't know who Shery Mead is, go to mentalhealthpeers.com As far as I know she is the only expert in the country on Peer Respite Centers.
On a personal level, I am still in awe at this opportunity I've been given. I am past the shock phase and onto the the deep appreciation phase. I doubt that will end anytime soon. It just keeps growing with every step we take toward opening the Center.
I have never been so committed to anything in my life. It's really showing me what I am made of. It's showing me that there is far more to life than the box I'd been living in. It's showing me that I truly love people and I can work with people. It's showing me that I am competent. I am not perfect, but I am good enough just as I am. I don't have to change who I am at all. I do, however, have to change the paradigm I've been living under for many years.
My life has always been about me me me. I'm not saying I've been heartless or inconsiderate -- quite the opposite -- but my giving has always been on MY terms. I am learning it's not about me anymore. It's about community. It's about relationship. It's about interdependence.
Up till now, it has never been about those things for me. I have been isolated and protected. I have been around people several times a month, but the people I have been around are the same few. My life has been predictable and stable and without too many surprises. I have been in control. God forbid that someone else has control. But this is not about control or ego or petty crap. This is about cooperation and community and building relationships. I never knew I could do this, but I can, and I like it. Yes, it is fulfilling!
Even though the Respite Center has not opened its doors yet, many doors are opening for me. I never knew they existed in the first place.
It's not about me anymore. It's about us.
In other news, my friend, Beth has moved to Kansas. If you watch my videos, you know Beth. I miss her terribly already. We are still in touch by phone and email (thank god) but it is so sad to know she is not coming over this Saturday to go film some videos or go thrift-store shopping or go out to dinner. It just breaks my heart that she is gone. But she and I both know that change is the name of the game now. She got a great new job in Kansas, still working with peers and training them just like she did here. They truly need her expertise and wisdom in Kansas. I used to live in Kansas, in fact, I spent a year at Topeka State Hospital in 1984. Beth and I tend to lead synchronistic lives. We both got interviews in the same week, we got our job offers within hours of each other, and we are both relocating to houses with a 444 address. We are both shifting paradigms, too.
It was Beth who took me to view the 444 house to see if it was a good place for the new Respite Center.