Posted on September 17, 2018 by Jenn Zatopek
Upon opening a book recently, I found a bookmark that reads “The heart which gives freely is never lonely,” and it’s one that I’ve had since childhood. A beautiful little girl is holding an apple toward you, the reader, and she is dressed in old-fashioned clothes, drawstring gray boots, white tights, and a little red coat with a white frilly dress underneath. The little girl’s long hair blows in the wind, and she is incandescent, beaming with joy at giving away her food.
Posted on September 2, 2018 by Jenn Zatopek
While I waited to begin a medical procedure last week, I read a book about a woman who reunited with her family in another country. Her long-lost family were thrilled to connect with her, and as I sat in the doctor’s office, my breath caught between my lungs and I gasped with sadness. I knew this feeling that came over me but wanted desperately to stuff it down: shame.
Posted on July 22, 2018 by Jenn Zatopek
After the end of a long work week, I locked up my counseling office, and walked slowly toward the main hallway leading downstairs. Two of the residents at the home stopped me and asked for help, their brown skin gleaming beautiful and sweaty thanks to the relentless hot weather and tending to rambunctious children. I smiled at them, grateful for distraction from my back pain and for the holy wonder of intimacy that occurs between newly acquainted strangers. They wished me a good weekend and I returned the goodwill, marveling at the paradoxes of life.
Posted on July 3, 2018 by Jenn Zatopek
Recently, I have been told that I push people away and that I have to let people in and be vulnerable. But, quite frankly, when I have let certain people in to my life, I have become deeply hurt. In the past, I have taken the risk of being vulnerable, revealing parts of my troubled past with others, only to lose relationships.
If only we could sit with each other in the suffering and simply listen. That’s what I needed most and maybe you too.
Posted on June 27, 2018 by Jenn Zatopek
Sometimes counseling individuals is hard. This is one of those times. I feel pulled into the despair, anxiety, and troubles of my precious clients, and I know it’s a signal for me to slow down. After all, it is almost the middle of summer!
Looking back at the last six months, I am amazed at how much I have grown and changed, even in spite of the fatigue. I have noticed that self-care practices have been particularly important for me to lean on, especially lately. I thought I would share some of my favorite self-care practices, or what Barbara Brown Taylor affectionately calls the things that are “saving my life right now.”
Posted on May 18, 2018 by Jenn Zatopek
***trigger warning: the writer touches upon difficult subjects like childhood abuse, systemic racism, and forgiveness***
So last weekend was Mother’s Day, and I was tempted to write an essay about the day, my experiences thus far as a human being with a complicated relationship with a woman I do not even see. It isn’t easy having a disrupted relationship with your own mother. Most people struggle to know what to say when I remark that I keep a respectful distance from my mother. Attempting to explain the reason for the distance is sort of like trying to explain verbal language to the surreal aliens that Amy Adams encounters in the recent movie Arrival. In this scenario, I am Amy, trying my best to help the other humans understand the aliens who access reality in vastly different ways from them.
Posted on April 23, 2018 by Jenn Zatopek
Sometimes the only way out is through. (Anonymous)
There are so many things swirling in my mind right now, so much pain that lives close to the edge of my social mask I wear daily. I try my best to keep the pain at bay, forcing myself to smile and be grateful for the blessings of others. I try so hard to be grateful for the little things, like holding a newborn baby, seeing big puffy white clouds in the brilliant blue sky, and petting my cats’ furry bellies.
The truth is that today, dear reader, I am so lonely I can barely see straight.