It's not a big secret that I am a psychologist who focuses on the social, emotional, and career needs of gifted and talented people. And I'm pretty vocal about my mission to make the world safe for creative people. Not long ago, I was interviewed by CNN reporter Elizabeth Landau because of my unique perspective.
But what I have written about lately at least is what's new in my life as it relates to my mission. In this series of blog posts, I'll fill you in on what the heck I've been doing for the past three years, where I am now, and where I'm headed.
THREE YEARS: REDUX
Just last week, I left my job at a busy college counseling center. A job that I pretty much loved because I got to work with college students on a number of issues that ranged from depression, anxiety, and relationship issues to creativity and talent development on the other end. And I'm pretty sure that this was one of the only college counseling centers in the entire US that encouraged AND IMPLEMENTED creative and innovative solutions to all sorts of problems that college students face. For example, at this counseling center, we didn't teach tired and worn-out classes on Stress Management - students tend to hate this type of programming having heard it a million times. (Yes! Everyone knows that you're supposed to get enough sleep and not drink 8 Red Bulls in a row. Yawn.)
Instead, our approach was to engage students in a different way. My boss, the counseling center director, became known as "That One Yoga Guy Who Stands on His Head". Over the course of the (nearly) three years that I spent at the center, we developed a Mindfulness Practice program that exposed literally thousands of students to the basics of mindfulness - focused breathing, paying attention on purpose, practicing compassion. And we had a lot of fun along the way. The center was a place where I could thrive by having fun and doing really good work.
Briefly, here is a Reader's Digest Condensed Version of the past three years.
Post-doc nearly completed, no post-post-doc job in sight. I had decided to move to Arizona to be with my love Tom. I needed more hours to get my license, so I decided that I wanted to work at a college counseling center. I even spent a lot of time thinking positively about getting a job. Yes, there is power in positive thinking, but I have to say that I was terrified that I wouldn't get a job, that my student loans would go into default and all of my hard work and a freaking PhD would get me nothing but a minimum wage job as a perfume tester at Nordstrom.
One night I cried big, snot-laden tears as I imagined the catastrophe evolve in my head. (I have an active imagination, what can I say?) I was with my friend Barb, a psychologist who didn't say much during my rant, other using some very basic verbal following and reflective listening that any beginning counseling student can do. She also provided the wine, which turned out to be helpful.
And I'm not kidding when I tell you that The Very Next Day after I sobbed my fears out, the Boss called. Seriously. He told me that my CV had landed in his inbox and that he liked my credentials. He told me later that he didn't know if I was actually as good as I said I was, or if I had a personality disorder. Fortunately for all of us, I don't. Have a personality disorder, that is.
So what's the lesson? Personally, I think that if you throw a temper tantrum about your future, God listens. No really, like if you let yourself feel all of the awful, terrible feelings that you keep suppressed under a cloak of positive thoughts, you actually can align yourself with what you want. Which is what I think happened that night.
And with a mere 4 weeks before my post-doc ended, I had my job.
In mid-August, I packed my little VW Beetle convertible, and accompanied by my blue-eyed cat Phoebe left the lush green of the late Kansas summer for the desert of Arizona, my love, and my job.