Working Hard, Or Hardly Working?
So it's been a little over a week since I last published. It's not that long ago, but I am endeavoring to write more frequently. I have started a few entries, which are still sitting in my queue in partly-completed draft form. My brain fog has been severe recently, which has been making focusing on and putting together a coherent article, or even single string of thought... challenging. I've also been exceedingly exhausted, fighting a 2-month flare up, a severe depression, while also trying not to let my academic pursuits and businesses fall by the wayside. As the kids say, "the struggle is real."
But I'm pulling out of it now. Slowly. Things are leveling out some. The pain is reducing. I'm thinking a smidge clearer. The depression is more manageable. Less... concerning. So this entry is just a little update on what's going on since I've been (absolutely intentionally) a complete recluse lately. I'm holding my shit together alright. I've been maintaining ground for the past month or two (by some sort of magic, I assume), and I'm finally, finally in the "move forward/make progress" phase again. Thank goodness! I was getting worried there, to be honest. But let's move on.
In the private practice, things are going well. In addition to my standard client caseload, I have some cool community gatherings and support groups that I managed somehow to get off the ground in January, and they're fantastic. Also, I've been teaching some classes, doing/gearing up for some lecture series and outreach events, and I've been working on putting together a school/training center/institute of sorts. This is a big step, which I've been thinking about for years. I'm already overwhelmingly busy, so I'm just beginning to take notes, put together curriculum ideas, outline my dream, and brainstorm with my amazing right-hand gal/work-wife/manager-of-all-the-nonsense-I'm-up-to. I'm hoping to do a trial run/soft open in 2019 or 2020. I think this might be doable, if my health holds out long enough for me to get it off the ground. And it's going to be very cool.
The Tea Co. is doing quite well also. Growing presence, new wholesale accounts, and the beginnings of a lovely potential partnership with a local naturopathic doctor (typically big fans of organic herbal teas). I'm in talks with a cool company in Arizona as well, which would be a huge and exciting adventure for a little Connecticut company. Tied in with what I mentioned above, I've got a few fun lectures coming up about the science behind (some) herbal medicine. Let me tell you, no matter how tired or sad I am, there are few things I love more than talking about the incredibly beautiful area where botany and medicine intersect. Phytotherapy is my jam!
The military/first responder support program is going okay. Things have hit a small lull, but that happens; it's part of things. Busy days, slow days, high points, low points. This isn't a low point at all, just a slower one. Which, as I've been really struggling to keep my head above water for the past 2 months, isn't the worst thing. And with this slower time, work-wife and I have been working on some wicked exciting new things. For instance, we have brought on a couple of new therapists, and are working with them to put together a unique program focusing on PTS(D) and Trauma Support. This will include specialized services, classes, support, and other marvelous things. It's going to be really rad. But it's a whole new program to design from scratch, and even just thinking about that recently has been very draining. But thankfully I'm surrounded by absolutely incredible people who help me make all these wild things I dream up become reality. God, I'm thankful for good people! Anyhow, we are also working on a partnership with Balfour Beatty (the local Base Housing company) to provide yoga classes for military families living in housing. Super cool. After our last board meeting, we have a lot of other new things that are coming together as well, but I need to hammer out a few more details before I start sharing those publically. Moral of the story, awesome things are happening at RFM!
I'm still doing some small business support work. From helping a local doctor with his medical billing and writing medical reports (which also doubles as working towards my requisite clinical hours. Whoop whoop!), to working with a real estate company down in North Carolina doing their web design, to consulting with a local fellow on his up-and-coming Air B&B business and helping him get set up with the required sites, services, organize his turn-over team, and so much more. I've also done several consultations with people who are looking to start a business, and have been fortunate enough to be able to help guide them in what they're up to. I'm also still working with a local environmental program, helping them design/build a smartphone app, as well as manage their PR needs. I'm slowly trying to move away from this type of work as I expand the practices I have that are actually in my field, but at the same time, it helps pay the bills. And it's nice to help other small business owners. Small businesses make the world go 'round!
As I mentioned a few posts ago, I've been doing some research into accessibility in public spaces. I'm trying to figure out why things are such a goddamn mess, why so many places are blatantly inaccessible, and why some folks don't seem to give a shit. And the answer is, of course, many, many, many fold; ranging from complete lack of education/awareness, to inaccessible information for contractors and DIY-ers, to cuts to the ADA, to outrageous expense, and so unbelievably much more. So see, I'm a moderately clever girl, but I'm not an architect. Or an interior designer. Or a contractor. I'm a disabled babe and healthcare professional. I'm well educated, but there are certainly areas I know next to nothing about, and architectural design is one of them. So I've been doing what I do best - research! Research on research on research.
I've met with some pretty awesome people to talk about these issues and get their perspectives, and find out more about what they do: Kimberly Valente, interior designer and owner of Brick + Beam Studio in Westerly, RI. Tom Taylor, architect and designer based in Groton, CT. Jon Day, contractor and award-winning historic restoration/preservation specialist, and owner of Day + Age Studio out of Ledyard, CT. Ted and Susie Dickerson, a brilliant architecture and design team, and the owners of TDArchitect in Portland, ME. Laura Natusch, Executive Director of New London Landmarks in New London, CT. I also go the pleasure of speaking with some architectural engineering and design masters students at the University of Hartford who were excited to share what they're learning about inclusive design. And I have pages and pages and pages and pages of notes, and research ideas, and thoughts. And I've learned SO MUCH about what these clever and creative people do, what requirements and guidelines are already in place, what folks are already doing to try and make spaces inclusive. They are also all incredibly kind and open people, who asked fantastic questions about accessibility issues and how we can make spaces more useful and welcoming to people with disabilities (PWD). It has been a magical experience. It restores a lot of my hope in humanity.
And an interesting thing I'm discovering is that, basically, New England is a problem. Everything is old, and not designed with PWD in mind. And retrofitting can be hard, and expensive, and logistically complex. And then some places are historic. Some are "historic." And it's all quite a challenge. But an exciting challenge. And I'm meeting with more people in the upcoming months. And I'm reading more books. And talking with more PWD about their struggles. And continuing to learn, and expand my knowledge base. And I hope soon (especially with the recent vote to gut the ADA) to organically pull together some sort of program to help solve some of these problems. I am currently envisioning an education piece, coupled with a funding piece, and perhaps an "accessibility certification" piece. Or a consulting piece (is this different than education? Perhaps). I'm not sure yet. I'm hoping that as I keep talking to people, keep learning more, the direction of this research project will become clear. I don't have a deadline on this, but it's happening. It's happening slowly, but steadily. Things are already starting to congeal. And it's fucking exciting!
In addition to all of this progress and workaholic-ness, I'm keeping up with my studies, clinical hours, and other scholastic pursuits. I am also trying to practice better self care, taking time here and there to read, sketch, write, hike. I went away for the weekend last week to spend some time out on Cape Cod. Much needed time away, to process, decompress, breathe.
Things aren't super easy right now. In fact they're rather challenging, and trying for a lot of reasons I don't care to get into at this juncture. But things are, at least, moving forward. Slowly, steadily. And while I'd like to ask for more, that may be all I can ask for right now. And I am content with it. Grateful for it.
The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.”
- Marcus Aurelius
As I discussed last week, I'm really concerned about the progression of my illnesses and disabilities. I'm not sure how long I'll be able to work, what toll it will take on me, if I will be able to actualize all my dreams and ideas. So, with that in mind, I'm just doing all the things now! And it's bloody exhausting. But I live for it. And It's killing me. But I live for it. And I swear to deity, as a disabled badass babe, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Whew! Now that you're all caught up on what fancy, professional Farrah has been up to (fueled by literally as much coffee as my heart & CNS can handle), here are some interactive options.
- If you want to be kept up to date with my private practice's holistic health educational something or another, click here.
- If you think tea is awesome, and want to know what neat phytotherapy talks I'm doing and maybe snag some tea for yourself, follow my co on Facebook.
- RFM trauma program pique your interest? Learn more about our program on our website & get on our newsletter mailing list.
- If the disability rights/accessibility project sounds like the coolest thing you've ever heard (and it is, you're right), you can get updates as things come together here.
- And of course, if you just love all the stuff I'm doing, from making tea to yelling about disability rights, from supporting marginalized groups to providing supportive spaces for people who are suffering, from starting programs to writing educational and advocacy pieces here and elsewhere, then you can help support me. My Patreon page is a dope way you can help me out, by supporting me with as little as $1 a month to help fund my work and my life (disabled life is SO EXPENSIVE btw). And starting in March, I will be sharing awesome stuff on Patreon that will be exclusively available to my beloved Patrons. So think about it. Consider it. Even $1 can make a really big difference in my life, and help me keep working hard to help others. So if you'd like to support me, you can do that here. And starting in March, you'll get some cool periodic writings, photos, sketches, and more. All for you. Exciting!
As a reward for reading all of that, and (hopefully) for signing up for some information, checking out a website, following on Facebook, or supporting me with your dollars, here are some recent photos.