Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Career Path

As you know I am currently taking 2 graduate courses in counseling. One of those courses is all about career development. I had to write a paper that incorporates my path to my career and many career theories that have impacted me. I chose to write my paper about myself first and then go back and plug in the theories. Because the theories will make it way longer and maybe a little less interesting to some of you (but maybe more interesting to others) I am pasting just the autobiography part of it on my blog. It is not yet edited and will have some flaws. Here is my path to teaching and counseling. Enjoy!

            In my early years of playing I remember pretending to have a couple of different jobs. I was a teacher, a cook, and a mom. When I was pretending to be a teacher I had my friends sit in an old school desk that we had at our house. I would give them assignments to do and then it would be my turn to sit in the desk and be the student. I much preferred to be the teacher than the student. As a little girl, I also had a kitchen set that was outside in the backyard on our deck. I would go around the yard picking different flowers and grass and call them herbs and food. I particularly remember a purple flower that I pretended to be an onion because it was the same color. I would put these things on my stove and pretend to be cooking it all. I would serve it to my parents on the table and chairs that were out on the deck. I loved when they played along. I also remember playing like I was a mom. I did this with dolls, but also with my mom and dad. I was an only child so they were my playmates unless I had a friend over. When I would play like I was a mom I would tell my mom that she was the baby and that she needed to take a nap. She has since told me that this was the easiest playtime with me because she got to sleep!
            As I grew up I said I wanted to become many things from teacher to doctor to lawyer. Becoming a lawyer stuck with me through about ninth grade. I made a friend in seventh grade that had my same first name, Lauren. We were best friends throughout all of middle school and high school and are still good friends today. In seventh grade, she also wanted to be a lawyer and for a couple of years we said that when we grew up we would open a law firm named “L&L Law.” When we got into high school I do not think we talked much about this anymore. We probably realized that that was more of a “middle school” dream. However, I do not recall what I wanted to be in high school. I do not think I knew. I remember at times I wanted to be a photographer like my dad. He was a professional wedding photographer, and he said I had a gift for capturing photos. I do not think I wanted to be this for long and it was always something that I went back and forth on. My mom was a licensed professional counselor from when I was about ten years old until now. I remember admiring her because she went back to school after I was born and got her bachelors and masters degrees in six years with highest honors. However, I did not want to do what she did. I did not have the desire to help people, really. I wanted to do what I liked and what I enjoyed. The problem is that I just did not know what that was.
            In October of my junior year of high school I was shopping with my mom when I realized I needed to get a job. I kept picking up things that I wanted, and she kept giving me that look that said “no.” I remember holding up a necklace I admired at Stein Mart in Rockwall and saying, “Mom, I need to get a job, don’t I?” I knew my friend, Lauren, had just gotten a job at Spring Creek Barbeque in Mesquite, so I went right home, drove myself there, applied, and was hired on the spot! I began my first job as a “bread girl” making minimum wage, which was $5.15 at the time. I enjoyed working with my friend, but quickly realized that this job was not getting me places. I needed better hours and more money. I also needed a better boss.
            In the spring of 2003 I applied at Chick-fil-a where my boyfriend of six months, as well as many of my other friends, worked. It took me a month of applying over and over again to finally get an interview. The owner said he knew he’d better call me because I was going to make them run out of applications. In March I started my second job as a cashier. I can still vividly remember the first day that I worked at Chick-fil-a in the morning and then drove to Spring Creek to start my dinner shift. “Exhausted” does not describe what I remember feeling. I promptly quit my job at Spring Creek to continue what was to become a 2-year stint at Chick-fil-a. Both the owner and the general manger of Chick-fil-a liked me, gave me several raises, and were great to work for. I worked there throughout the rest of high school and until the end of my freshman year of college.
Now let me rewind back a little to the summer after my junior year of high school. This experience overlaps with what was going on in my life while I worked at my first couple of jobs. In July of 2003, I went on a mission trip with my youth group from church. It was my first time to visit a place that was genuinely poor and way below the poverty line. It greatly impacted me. I made close connections to many of the little boys and girls in the neighborhood and cried and cried when I had to leave them. Nevertheless, I went back to school and enjoyed my last year of high school. I became frantic when I realized I had not been working hard in school and did not have very good grades. I knew that I wanted to go to Texas A&M University in College Station, but without any prodding from my parents I decided to go to Eastfield for a year, determined that I needed to make good grades so that I could transfer. Looking back on this, I do not understand why I did not just apply to A&M and see if I could get in. I think I was worried I would be rejected and then my choice to go to Eastfield for a year would not have been a choice at all. Nevertheless I decided upon majoring in business, without any idea what I wanted to do with my life. I signed up for the basics, though, so that everything would transfer to A&M.
The summer before I started my freshman year of college I went on another mission trip with the same group as the year before. This time was different. Graduating from high school had already given me a new perspective on life and the world. It is crazy how much I had grown in just one year. There was another big change on this trip as well. There was an older guy on the trip helping out as an intern, whom I just adored. His name was Casey and he was three years older than me, about to start his senior year at the University of Texas in Austin. Aggies versus Longhorns, I know. While on this trip we talked quite a bit about my recent breakup, my intent to go to A&M, and other aspects about life in general. At the end of the trip, when it was time to leave the little kids, I again cried my eyes out on the way home. I could not stand leaving them. I was sitting by Casey on the van ride back when he mentioned to me that I obviously loved children and was good with them. I thought, “okay, is that not true with most girls?” Apparently not. Casey told me that his mom was a teacher and he could see me being one some day as well. A light came on in my head. I had not really thought about being a teacher since my days of playing in elementary school. It was not something I wanted to do in any of my recent daydreams. I thought about this for the rest of the summer and my first semester of college. I still said I was majoring in business, although I was just taking basic classes and did not have to declare a major at Eastfield.
That first semester of college Casey and I began dating. Even though he graduated from UT and came home to live in Mesquite, I was still determined to go to my dream school three hours away. I was accepted into the College of Education at A&M my sophomore year and decided upon teaching language arts and social studies for grades 4-8. Casey and I dated the rest of my time in college and had a long-distance relationship. My senior year, A&M allowed students to student teach anywhere in the state for the first time, so I came home and did my student teaching in Rockwall. We got married four months before I graduated with my bachelors in interdisciplinary studies from Texas A&M.
I finished student teaching during April of 2008, got certified to teach grades 4-8 in language arts and social studies as well as English as a Second Language. I graduated in May of 2008 and attended job fairs in Rockwall and Forney. I was called in May for a second interview in Forney to teach 6th grade English Language Arts and Social Studies at a brand new school. I am now about to begin my third year in that same position.
While teaching I have grown close with our school counselor and have “picked her brain” on many occasions. She, like me, taught 6th grade English before becoming a school counselor, giving us a lot in common. Her first year as a school counselor was my first year as a teacher and so we kind of started out new together, taking many “new to Forney” technology and introduction classes. I would say that my conversations with her definitely lead me to apply for the graduate program at Texas A&M-Commerce. However, there is another aspect that has steered me down this path as well. As a child, I never wanted to do what my mom does. Since then, I have grown very fond of my mom’s job as a counselor. She has her own practice in two different cities and is doing very well for herself. She is at a point to where she loves her job more than she ever has. In addition, I love that the program I am in gives me options to be versatile. I can become and school counselor while gaining hours to get my license and then I can decide which I would like to do. I have also been to a few counseling sessions in which my counselor, who was an LPC, was a school counselor and also saw clients at night and on weekends.
All of these experiences have brought me to the position in my career that I am in today. Without my husband initiating thoughts about teaching I may never have decided to be an educator. Without my mom’s successful career as a family counselor or my friend at school, I may never have decided to begin my graduate work in counseling. Family and friends play a very important role in my life and in my career, and I am very thankful for them and their support of my goals and aspirations. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Old-Fashioned Soda Shop

A month or so ago we went with Charlie & Ginni to a cute little "malt shop" in downtown Rockwall on 205. It's name is The Candy Jar Malt Shop. A lot of us got shakes and they were yummy! You should check it out and help them drum up some business! :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Depression Hurts

Have you heard this commercial? I am sure you have. It's on all the time. "Depression hurts. Who does depression hurt? Everyone."

We talked about it the other day in my class.

Currently I am working on a big assignment, but I thought this might be a good way to organize some of my thoughts. I am working on reading 5 articles from different professional journals such as the Journal of Community Psychology, Journal of Men's Studies, Journal of Sex Research, Journal of Multicultural and Development, and Journal of Counseling and De Counseling velopment. You would not believe how interesting a lot of these articles are. My assignments was to research a specific ethnic group (I chose Hispanics/Latinos), read 5 articles about them (I read 14 because they were so engaging), and write 5 summaries with my perspective and recommendation. I have currently written 3 of my 5. I am working on the 4th. 

The 4th article is all about depression in adolescent and young adult Latinas. It is SO interesting. 

First of all, here are some depression facts…
  • Twice as many women are depressed than men
  • 20% of women have had a severe enough bout with depression that they have sought clinical help
  • 2.5% of children (both boys and girls) experience clinical depression
  • 8.5% of adolescence (both boys and girls) experience clinical depression 
  • Hispanic girls and women have consistently higher depression rates than their white counterparts
  • Mexican American youth have the highest rates of depression out of all ethnic backgrounds (they are 1.5 times more likely to report dysphoric symptoms)
  • Research shows that children who view their family as economically worse off than their peers have higher rates of depression
  • 51% of Latina girls in the United States become pregnant by the age 20 (this is important to consider when determining the effects of depression in young adult Latinas - could some of the reports be post-partum, etc.)
  • Being an abused child leads to 3 to 4 times more likely to being depressed as an adolescent or adult (in general for all ethnicities)
  • sexual abuse carries the greatest risk in becoming depressed (in general for all ethnicities)
  • connection with the family and family bonding are found to be connected with lower dysphoria and fewer depressive symptoms in both male and female adolescents and adults
  • poor self-efficacy (self-esteem) has been frequently cited as an increasing risk that the individual will experience depressive symptoms
  • substance use (drugs, alcohol) is likely to have a reciprocal effect on depression up to 4 years later
  • religion is a protecting factor that can be related to depression (meaning religion can help prevent depression)
Now, this particular study began to breakdown the reasons that Latinas are most prone to depression. It studied 904 adolescents Latinas ranging from 13-24 years old with 534 of them being pregnant. They studying their childhood experiences such as maltreatment, abuse, neglect, parental drug use, connection with the family and family bonding. It also looked at self-efficacy, social conformity, and polysubstance problems, and religion.

The study hypothesized that childhood maltreatment, parental drug/alcohol use, and family disconnection would lead to depression while self-efficacy, social conformity, and family connection would be protecting factors for dysphoria.

What they found was intresting… the only significant risk factor for dysphoria was childhood neglect. However, many protecting factors emerged including family connectedness, positive family relationships, social conformity, religious commitment, law abidance, and self-efficacy, with the most significant being family connectedness.

They also found that the pregnant girls did not show higher signs of depression, but rather those who were depressed and had higher levels of religiosity showed lower levels of dysphoria while those who were pregnant and showed lower levels of religiosity shower higher levels of dysphoria. This was the same for those not pregnant as well. Very interesting. I don't know about you, but I would say that this is likely because something to believe in gives a person worth and meaning.

Locke, T., Newcomb, M., Duclos, A., & Goodyear, R. (2007). Psychosocial predictors and correlates of dysphoria in adolescent and young adult Latinas. Journal of Community Psychology, 35, 135-149.

Well, organizing my thoughts on here did help and now I am done with that paper! Thanks for letting me voice my thoughts on here - let me know what you think!

On to paper #5….

Friday, June 11, 2010

My First Counseling Tid Bit!

For those of you who don't already know…I am in my first semester of graduate school. I am working on getting my master of education in counseling and later getting my LPC licensure (licensed professional counselor). I am taking 12 hours this summer - 2 classes in June and 2 in July. The program is a total of 52 hours. This will probably take me 2 1/2-3 1/2 years to complete while working full-time. This is why I am trying to do as much as possible in the summer before school starts up again in August.
I am currently taking two graduate classes, one online and one on Mondays & Wednesdays from 1-5pm. The online class is a Counseling Career Development class and the face-to-face class is Counseling Diverse Populations - a class on counseling multicultural clients…this doesn't just include someone from another race, but someone from another culture can include: a person's gender, someone who is able-bodied or disabled, a person's sexual orientation, a person's religion, and different beliefs and values that a person may have.

I'm not going to say that I agree with everything that is said in this class, but I did learn something that I really liked on Wednesday. It was in the context of offending someone because of their cultural difference, but I like to use it in marriage or friendships or just in life in general. :)

When you harm someone without meaning to, often times we blow it off and say something like, "you shouldn't feel that way because I didn't mean it that way," or "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings, but I didn't mean to."We rationalize what we said because we didn't have negative intentions…often times we were just being thoughtless or careless with our words.

A great metaphor for this is a lady walking around town with a large knife in her hand. She stumbles and accidentally cuts her husband. If this was you, you wouldn't just say, "oh, don't feel pain, I didn't mean to do it." Instead you would say "Oh! I am SO sorry I hurt you!" The reason for this is that you harmed them, even though you didn't mean to. You would take responsibility for the wound that you could see, but we don't take responsibility for the verbal wounds that we cannot see.

A great quote that my professor said, "I didn't harm you intentionally, but you're still harmed."

Have you ever been hurt by someone's words even when they didn't hurt you intentionally? If so, does it feel good to have them tell you that you shouldn't feel that way? Do not hold onto bitterness for their mishap…you're actions are still your responsibility…but it always feels better to have someone understand that you are harmed. Knowing that you harmed someone and taking responsibility that you "goofed up" goes a long way.

Accidental harm still hurts.

So, what do you think? Ready to have me counsel you? Haha ;)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Smith Sharks

Field day at Smith Elementary is a little different than at other schools. It's just a tad bit better. :) K-5 has their own field day and 6th grade has a seperate field day at the middle school where they play the other 6th grade at the neighboring elementary school. It's pretty dang cool if you ask me. I love the rivalry. ;)
Do you see how they put pink duct tape over the other school's name and mascot? Too funny.
The girls doing cheers with one another
The tough Smith Sharks
One of the boys in the 400 relay!
Two of my past students who are now 7th graders at the middle school, Madison & Paige, got out of class to come see me! They have gotten taller than me in one year!
Smith Sharks rock! :)

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Boating Blast

On Memorial Day Casey & I went out on the boat with Charlie & Ginni! We were out on the lake for 6 hours! It was a blast! We went out, water skied, breaked for lunch, through tons of orange peels out onto the water (mainly Charlie did this) had some fun tubing, then some more skiing, and then went back and hopped on the jet skis for an hour or so! The pictures from our day CRACK ME UP. Some of our expressions while on the tube are hilarious. Hope you enjoy them as well!

Me with little Lucy in our brand new tube!
Charlie skiing!
this one CRACKS ME UP. I look SO scared.
Charlie looks like a bug!
This is Casey. Haha!
Seriously, whose legs bend that way?!
LOL. I really don't get how his legs bend like that. It looks like they are broken!
Captain Coats ;)
Hope you Rickersons had as much as fun as we did! Here's to more fun boating to come! :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Landscaping Love

When we first bought our house there was ZERO landscape….unless you consider white rocks along the sidewalk as landscaping….Anyway, last March (2009) we put up a stone border and put in shrubs and flowers ourselves. Casey also fertilized the grass and took up all the ugly white rocks. This year Casey fertilized some more and we put in more flowers. It's looking sooo much better! I'm proud of us! Here are some before and after pictures! Check out the crazy gutter sticking out as well as the random shrubbery on the right...
Our neighborhood has "yard of the month" and currently our neighbor across the street has it! Our goal is to get that sign in our yard sometime soon ;)