Author Archives: Geraldine

About Geraldine

I'm a german girl which ended up in Ireland four years ago through hilarious circumsatnces. Right now I'm working as Team manager for Elemenal a youth initative for the south-east of Ireland.

Fresh Beginnings

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I bought a new journal and on the front page I wrote in big letters Fresh Beginnings. This September is full of them as I venture into old and new territory. 

It’s a Fresh Beginning in the school I am working in, to which I returned fearful and apprehensive after my first 8 months there, where promises were broken and expectations not met. I spent the first few days not knowing if I still want to be here and struggling with the idea that God wanted me here in this place which was so difficult for me last year. I cried and prayed a lot. Wondering if God had forgotten me. But sometimes he brings hope in ways you weren’t expecting. And I just knew I have to give it one more try. So I leaped into a year with a lot of potential and possibilities and excitement and I have peace that this is the place that God placed me in. It is a massive “yes” and risk from my side. It is making this city a  home and not only a working place.

A Fresh Beginning in the church. Walking away from old responsibilities that others or I myself are trying to put on me. It’s a new start without Elemental. And living through pain, hurt and disappointment. I am not there yet, it’ll take me awhile. And I’ll need a lot of grace for me and others. 

It’s a Fresh Beginning in terms of community and friends! Which fills my heart with excitement and joy! But I also need to adapt to change and open my heart again to new people and new stories. 

A new college year is about to start. New focus. New challenges. New growth.

It’s a Fresh Beginning for God and me. I am learning again (will I ever fully?) to open my heart to him and trust him. To give his grace space in my life. To not slip back into dualistic judgments. 

Fresh Beginnings to wonder and wait for what God and Life has in store for you. 

Why I love Pinterest

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Did you ever have a pin-board where you put up everything inspiring, fun, beautiful, recipes and so on? I did. It started when I was about 15 years old and I began to read magazines. I collected everything from travel ideas, to book ideas, “important” informations for a teenage girl (e.g. styles, make up etc)…. It soon became very messy and I started putting them together in a folder. (Yes I was that organized and a nerd). I remember my first room in college where I randomly pinned things to the wall behind my desk. Partly because I had no money to buy any nice pictures that might lighten up the room, and partly because I wanted to remember certain things. As I moved around from flat to flat and country to country I got tired of putting things up. But I also neglected a part of me that was longing for beauty and inspiration. So when I got introduced to Pinterest I was thrilled! Finally I could start pinning and collecting things again and even organize different boards for different interests! Ok, I admit that I haven’t tried every recipe (yet) that I pinned, or that I even can afford any of the dresses or home ideas. But that’s not the point. The point is to be inspired, to look for beauty and find a funny quote here and there. It is something that soothes me when I’m stressed and when the world is grey around me.  That’s why I love Pinterest!

By the way you can follow me here: My Pinterest

The Beach

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Being on the beach, over-looking the sea has always been very calming, soothing and inspiring to me. It’s a place where I can let go, reflect and where I am reminded that I am part of a bigger story.

I remember a team retreat a couple of years ago, where I took a walk on the beach and it was there that in the midst of the mess and inner darkness I was going through at the time, that I was reminded that I am unconditionally loved and accepted.

Beaches seem to be a special place to connect to God for me.

I spent the weekend at a youth leaders retreat in West Cork directly by the sea. And it was at the beach where I found myself listening to God, asking him questions and also letting go of the last 2 weeks I had. It was a place to slow down and listen what’s going on deep inside. And the view was simply stunning!

Liberation

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Counsellors are always looking for ways to help clients to ease the pain(s) in their lives and help them, through various skills, to overcome the heartbreak and prison people built around themselves in order to be protected. And for most people, including myself, this is a long journey towards freedom and liberation that can changes lives. Freedom looks differently for every one of us, depending what lies we have internalized in the past and which shapes us how we see ourselves now. Part of my journey was to overcome the thought that I am not good enough and not worthy for love and belonging. And at the core of our being we all long for a place where we belong and are accepted no matter how we look, no matter how smart we are, if we are good or bad in sports or art or even which skin color we have. I am not overly familiar with the history of liberation of African-American People in the USA and the Civil Rights Movement, but I was deeply moved by the movie ‘The Help’ and the stories of personal liberation and freedom that were told. Those women, the Helpers, were de-humanized by the society they lived in and by their employer families. Shame was their everyday reality. Not been seen as fully human. But by telling their stories to a young and energetic journalist they are slowly setting themselves free and start their journey of liberation. I truly believe there is something so profound when you tell your story to someone else who listens and is present. When you invite someone to be fully present and let them be, so that they can share their stories of heartbreak, pain and humiliation that’s the first step towards healing. It was for those women and it was for me. At the core of liberation is courage; courage to look the pain in the eye and to face your demons; courage to seek help from family, friends, a counselor; courage to stop the lies you so long believed in and lived by and discover who you truly are. It took me four years to be more comfortable in my own skin. Four hard years, where sometimes pain was the only emotion I could feel. Where lies where louder then the truth. But I am also more me then I ever thought was possible. And yet I still struggle! I am not perfect, but liberation is not about perfectionism, it’s about getting more healthy and embracing who you are.

Moving

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Someone once said to me, that moving is considered as one of the most stressful things in life. I can vouch for that once more. In total I’ve been moving 9 times, including moving country three times. The first time was when I was 5 years old and I can’t remember much, besides that I was allowed to choose the wallpaper for my room (rose clouds with light blue suns and moons) and that I had to swap kindergarten much to my delight! The next big move was when I decided to go to Uni in Vienna. I still remember the tearful goodbye to my parents on Sunday and that I spent that night in hospital all by myself because I put my back out in the shower after they left.

On Monday I moved once more. Away from my beloved appartement on an irish farm where dogs, cats, cattle and hens were the only loud noises, to a boarding school in Waterford where the laughter, footsteps and music of 89 boarding girls is very much present.

After worrying for days if I’ll fit everything in 1.5 rooms, packing up and cleaning my old place, I am now unpacked (besides my beloved books, because I don’t know where to put them) and trying to settle into a new place and life. I feel overwhelmed, excited and nervous all at the same time. Trying to remember names and faces, trying to understand bit by bit my role here and the expectations of this job. And being the woman I am, I’m wrestling with all the new responsibilities, I am afraid if the girls will like me and get on with me, anxious if I’ll get on with the staff, doubting if this was the right move, tired emotionally and physically.

Over the summer I wrote a list of ingredients that would give my life joy and meaning, and following my passion and dreams was one of them. No one told me how scary that can be, how vulnerable I would make myself again and how much God is trying to free me from the prison I have built around myself by taking this opportunity and moving to the school.

My self-kindness vs. my self-critic is tested once more. Somehow I think courage without fear isn’t possible. If I wouldn’t be scared, I wouldn’t need to gather all my inner resources and take a step into the unknown, and experiences that this is exactly what trusting in God means. And I want to be me and authentic and not live by other people’s expectations! So I am trying to remember that “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are.”

Connecting the dots

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Since I’ve started my course in Counseling & Psychotherapy, I have started to see the bigger picture of humanity. For the last couple of weeks we’ve been studying the Humanistic Approach ( known as Person-Centred Counseling) which Carl Rogers started after he was disillusioned with Freudian Psychodynamic Counseling. Soon I began to see the overlap between Rogers theory and how we are trying to do youth ministry! Person-Centred is characterized by three core conditions, which the counselor needs to offer: 1) Unconditional Positive Self-Regard; 2) Empathy and 3) Congruence. As I was digging deeper into their meaning, one word came to my mind: belonging. Belonging is a universal need! It is an invitation to being honest, it’s a place where there is no condemnation, no judgement, instead there is acceptance, respect, community and love. It is a safe place. And we want to offer this place to the young people we work with and encounter.

But then I started looking at myself, the youth worker and future to be counselor. In Person-Centred words I am supposed to be a “light in the darkness” whose presence has power and can offer healing. But so often I feel inadequate. I feel like a mess, and I wonder “what do I have to offer? I am broken as well!” There is the self-condemned voice that whispers “you are not good enough”. As I was reflecting on this, one girl came to my mind who I see from time to time at the youth drop in center or on the street. She is living with a foster family and has serious issues. Whenever she sees me, she simply wants to get a hug. She is not ready to talk about her troubled soul, but she is craving love and belonging. And I need to trust that this encounter is enough, that by giving her a hug I can tell her that she is loved. So what I have to offer?! Presence! Yes , I need to work through my own mess, but instead of seeing myself as messed up, I can see it as a chance to get in touch with my own pain and suffering and my own humanity and be transformed into a “Wounded Healer”.

A while ago I scribbled down this poem after I had coffee with a girl:

Sit here with me

Just simply be

As we both breathe the air around us

in and out.

Words spoken full of pain

Just be with me

and sit

You are more than skin, hair,

bones, DNA, hormones and chemicals

You are a soul

Just be and sit and see

I want to offer you love and grace

Embrace it and breathe

Pain, confusion and suffering are present

But trust me, healing is in you as well.

Sit here. Be with me and breathe.

Raw

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Every time I give a talk (even a 10 minute one) I feel absolutely destroyed afterwards! There is a rawness in me that can make me cry. And I still haven’t learned how to deal with it.

It sits in my stomach and owns me. It’s trying to burst through and determine how I feel for the rest of the day.

Maybe it’s a connection to my vulnerability. It’s the experience that after I have been sharing something personal, after I opened myself up, let people in and see who I am. And then it is over.  And I have no control afterwards what they will do with it.

There is always the temptation that this moments defines you. Maybe I am judging myself to hard. Being too critical instead of being kind to myself.