Would you, Could you, on a Boat?: Why You Should Try Therapy – You May Like It!

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Sorry for my convoluted and very long post title – for some reason Green Eggs and Ham is on my brain. I had a counseling session *yesterday, and each time I go, I find myself confronted with an opportunity to grow and stretch myself – and I can choose to either take it or ignore it.

I’ve been going to counseling/therapy (I will use those words interchangeably) consistently for over 4 years. But four years ago, I was very resistant to trying it. What started out as marriage counseling evolved into me seeing great value in meeting with a therapist one-on-one.

Sometimes after I’ve told people I see a therapist, they have asked me, “does it help?” And my answer is definitely, 100%, yes! But I feel like I should elaborate on what I mean when I say it helps me. Each time I go to therapy, I uncover a tiny bit more about myself – I understand myself just a little bit better, and I start to figure out why I am feeling the ways I am feeling. Let me give you an example:

*Yesterday in therapy (it was a joint session with my husband), I brought up how I had been getting really frustrated recently that he was not helping out enough with our son in the mornings. I am a morning person, and my husband is more of a night owl. So inevitably, when my son wakes up, I am usually the first person he sees because Daddy is still sleeping. This means I’m typically the one to get our three-year-old his breakfast, answer his many questions about whatever pops into his mind, set up his favorite t.v. show, etc. The feeling this brought up for me was anger – it wasn’t “fair” that I was doing this “all by myself” (which is not true, but I am good at convincing myself otherwise sometimes). At face value, it seemed like the issue was about getting help with our son – but as we dug deeper, I realized that it wasn’t really about that. It was about me needing alone time, “me” time – time to read a book, write, and do other things that bring personal fulfillment. I was struggling to figure out how to find this alone time in my schedule, and I needed to ask for help.

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The Last of Us: A Game That is so Much More than just Killing Zombies

I missed posting this on the actual anniversary of “Outbreak Day” – Outbreak Day (September 26, 2013) is the day in the video game, The Last of Us, that a terrible virus reached “critical mass” – so yes, just to be clear, I’m referring to a fictional event. In the real world, September 26th is still a time each year to celebrate the awesome-ness of The Last of Us, (and this year was renamed “The Last of Us Day” instead of “Outbreak Day.” Thanks COVID.)

If you’ve never heard of The Last of Us (TLOU) feel free to Wikipedia it, but I’ll simply say it’s a video game (released in 2013) that tells the story of a man, Joel, trying to get a teenage girl, Ellie, across the country in a post-apocalyptic setting – and there are zombies (kind of). ( I guess they are not technically “zombies,” but there are people who are trying to attack/eat you, and you have to kill them, so in my mind, they are pretty much zombies.) It’s a pretty dark story, and as you could guess, also pretty graphic and violent.

And it’s been one of my favorite games to watch my husband play.

These days I’m not much for video games – back in the day I was pretty amazing at The Lion King on the Sega Genesis, but in recent times I have little interest in playing or watching many video games. So 7 years ago when Dean asked me if I wanted to watch him play TLOU, I was pretty skeptical. Especially knowing it was supposed to be a scary and violent game with zombie-like people. Not exactly my typical cup of tea for entertainment. (Just for reference, I tried to watch The Walking Dead many years ago, but it scared me too much.)

TLOU has become a big point of connection for my husband and I – I literally sat and watched him play this game for hours, like probably a good 20 or 30 hours (not in one sitting thankfully). The story is captivating, the characters are compelling… there’s so much to like about TLOU. From the first opening scene of the game, you are hooked. For Valentine’s Day (back in 2014) my card from my husband was TLOU themed (see the image back at the top.) So this year, when The Last of Us Part II came out, both my husband and I were stoked. (And yes, we finished it, and it did not disappoint!)

One thing I have really appreciated about TLOU is how it features really strong female characters. In the first game, you start out playing as Joel, but eventually end up playing as Ellie. And Ellie, even though she is young, is a force to be reckoned with. Her whole life she has grown up in a world where survival was always a prime objective, and certainly not a guarantee. I distinctly remember a scene in the game where Ellie and Joel are exploring an abandoned building, and Ellie finds a book, something along the lines of The Babysitter’s Club, or some similar novel. She glances through it and is dumbfounded to think about a teenage girl’s biggest problems being whether or not her top matched her shoes, or if a boy liked her.

Ellie in The Last of Us Part II

In TLOU Part II, we meet another female character who becomes critical to the story: Abby.

Initially I hated Abby (the game kind of makes you hate her at the beginning), but as the game progresses, you learn more about Abby and her story, which of course allows you to empathize with her more and more. Abby is… built like a horse. I don’t know how else to say it. She has a muscular build that would rival any man’s. I remember thinking it was strange when we first met her in the game. But later, I found I really appreciated how this game featured women that were not stereotypical damsels in distress, in terms of appearance or actions. I appreciate being able to value women’s bodies that are different or unique – I myself have struggled a lot in the past (or sometimes the present) for not being able to live up to what I thought I was “supposed” to look like.

Abby (The Last of Us Part II)

I guess to summarize I just really want to say that I love The Last of Us (parts I and II) because it tells a great story that goes a lot deeper than just killing zombies (or infected people… I know they’re not technically “zombies.”) I really love how this game is kind of an exercise in empathy; the more you learn about each character’s story, the more you understand and have compassion for why they are the way they are. (And don’t we need more of that in the world today???)

This game was initially such a surprise to me back when I watched the first one, and the second one was so well done (I won’t give any spoilers, but it was seriously amazing!)

If you have an opportunity to play or watch this game, I would highly recommend it! You can even find the cut-scenes on YouTube if you’re not much of a gamer but are curious about the story.

Thanks for reading.

Unexpected Lessons From Japan

My husband Dean and I have been back in the States for about 2 weeks now after taking an 11-day trip to Japan. This trip was an early 10-year anniversary celebration for Dean and myself (actual anniversary June 5).

One of the most common questions we’ve gotten about our trip was simply, “How did you decide on Japan?” Dean and I are very different, but we have known for a long time that if we ever got the chance to internationally travel, we would go to Japan. For starters, I went to Japan 19 years ago when I was in 8th grade.

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Me in my host family’s home (April 2000)

 I had the opportunity to participate in a “Junior Ambassador” program with my school, and we had the chance to meet and connect with a Japanese student of the same age. We got to meet their families and stay in their homes – a pretty awesome experience to have as a 13-year-old. As happens when you travel somewhere new, you usually want to go back someday. This trip was my “going back” opportunity. Besides that, over the past 3 years we have really gotten more interested in Japanese culture – manga, anime, sushi, etc. We have a sushi night once a week (local Abilene sushi, although it’s actually pretty good!) and normally watch an anime film or show while we have dinner. It was pretty cool to see and experience in person some of the things we had seen in the shows we watched.

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Tomoe, on the left, and her sister on the far right were my host family

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know from our pictures that we did a lot – we went to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka – this included visiting places like Akihabara, Disney Sea, Studio Ghibli Museum, Fushimi-Inari… through the social media lens, where I have strategically chosen the best of the best pictures (and filtered them beyond belief), it looked like the trip of a lifetime. That’s always how it is on the other end of the screen, isn’t it? Perhaps there’s a twinge of jealousy or longing as you scroll through a friend’s travel pictures.

Well, it was an awesome experience, and I am super grateful that we had the chance to go – however, there is always more to the story.


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