Birthday Reflections, Part One


Happy November! Wow, it’s gone from sunny and gorgeous in the valley of the Pacific Northwest to rainy and windy. I hope this message finds you less soggy. 

Last week, I turned 47. I enjoyed beautiful celebrations and felt so incredibly loved. As I creep towards 50, I find myself reflective of my work as a psychologist, mom, educator, wife, daughter, sister, consultant, friend, all-the-roles! I have an incredible therapist, Sarah, (ask me more about this if you’d like to) who identified a phrase for me as I seek out purpose in my work and in life. She called it, “Your Soul’s Mission Statement” as I described to her what fuels me. 

I’ve always been drawn towards resilience-building. When I was in my undergraduate career, we studied stress as seniors in my honors psychology class. Onto graduate school, I wanted to know what helped families thrive in the face of hardship, having a child with a chronic medical condition. As a young resident in psychology, it was curious to me how some families were able to overcome extreme obstacles while others continued to suffer or worsen. My work with organizations focuses on the “now what” part of trauma-informed care and organizational wellness. I build resilience interventions for physicians to utilize during patient encounters. 

But that all started well-before college. If I had a theme song, it would be titled “Things will all be ok” and if you asked me about my favorite movies, they feature underdogs who beat the odds and survive, despite hardships. I could literally watch Rocky, The Hoosiers, or Rudy all day. So, when friends, clients or patients are experiencing hardship, I operate under the assumption that a. they’re not fragile, b. they have the capacity to heal, and, c. I can help. I’m ok holding space for people to struggle until they realize their own strength and capacity. 

What Sarah pointed out to me – yes, psychologists have therapists too – was that my soul’s mission statement: You’ll be ok. You’re not fragile. You have resilience AND the capacity to heal. And I can help – is simply something that is “just so” for me. Factors I take for granted. And it comes from a threshold of experiencing a great deal of trauma, myself. 

Today, as I strive in all of my roles to be fully present and genuine with who I am, I reflect on my soul’s mission statement and what that looks like, in real time.

I don’t want people to feel alone. 

Mistakes are normal and what make us human. 

You can LOVE someone immensely, but not LIKE them. 

Holding space for someone is a gift.

Listening is the MOST important skill we can hone and offer another human.

Grey areas are where we grow.

Sometimes, saying goodbye to a relationship is the healthiest action.

You didn’t sign up for your family. 

No one deserves your loyalty.

Being vulnerable helps others feel okay.

The ability to be your whole self with another human offers a treasure to you and them.

Well, those are my reflections so far, as I venture into my 48th circle around the sun. 

Tell me, what is your soul’s mission statement? I would love to hear from you. 

With compassion,

Dr. Amy