Moving Into Our Nextness – Island County Here We Come!

Some of you have heard our news – The Bennett’s are moving!

This started a few months ago… Well, honestly it was before that. It really started in late winter. We were ready to pursue the answers of the complex questions, “Where to we want to be?” and “What do we want to do?” These were questions that Jen and I began to walk toward on quite Saturday mornings.  Armed with coffee mugs, prayer, honesty, and courage we began to explore what the next phase of life/ministry/work might look and feel like. Months passed.

One morning we got a shocking email which forced our hand.  Here’s the previous post about that. “…A couple weekends ago, my dad passed away. My bothers and sisters and I have decided to sell the house. Our timetable is 3 to 6 months, so you have some time….” That was not expected on a hectic Tuesday morning. After I could breathe again, I could only think this one thing “How are we gonna tell the boys.” After a few days the shock wore off and we told the boys over a homemade brunch buffet. There were many tears. I think we left them enough space to begin to grieve the move.

Segway: You might be wondering, “Why don’t just stay in the neighborhood? Why not keep the kids in the same schools?” Well in Queen Anne the houses that have 3 or more bedrooms are going for about $1800/bedroom. In the past 4 1/2 years housing in Seattle has skyrocketed. We rode the cheap rent train to the last stop.

After the news settled in with all of us we began the dreaming process as a family. We looked a different communities around Seattle.  For the most part we looked north of the city.  We asked ourselves “Where could be see ourselves living? Could we go to school there? Is this house a good fit for the people we are and want to be?”  We liked several of them of the places we looked, but we were left with “meh.” We kept dreaming.

Then came the Island. Someone suggested Whidbey Island to Jen. On a whim she checked rental prices. They were comparable to what we were looking for. So boldly we set up an appointment to see some properties around Oak Harbor. Our favorites were on or near the water. (I know, really? On the water, of course they were our favorites!) We decided on the one that had more space and has a community clubhouse with a boat launch and beach access. Here’s the view from the kitchen.

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This is the first place we’ve felt at home since we left Michigan. Don’t get me wrong there’s things about Seattle I love. The food and beverage industry are overwhelmingly outstanding. It’s a foodie’s dream! At some level though I have not been able to land here deep within my being. We’ve made this house on W Raye St our home, but we always knew there was something missing. When we were driving around Whidbey it was like our hearts were singing.

Here’s a story about that day that I love telling. We were driving around our soon to be neighborhood and we met a man walking his dog. Instinctively the man and I waved at each other. From the back Joel asked “Daddy, do you know that man?” In unison Jen and I Sienfelded¹ him, “That’s the thing! People acknowledge each other in public! They just wave! They don’t stare at the ground and cross the street at a snail’s pace without looking.” We will be thawing out from the Seattle Freeze shortly.

While looking at homes we all embraced the dreaming process. Graeme scouted the biggest bedrooms and hangout spaces, Joel checked out the closets, and Levi laid on the carpet. I imagined where I could set up my homebrewing and tools. Jen mused about where she could create beautiful things. We all oogled at the expansive kitchens and living spaces we came across.

Today is moving day.  Our hearts are full of so much.  It is bitter-sweet.  Today we walk into our Nextness.

Thanks for stopping by.  Be Uncommon.

 

 

¹ We high talked/high yelled our response.

Exploring Our Nextness

Have you ever been in a place in life where things are coming together? You’re asking questions of “what’s next?”, “What might we want to venture into?” You’re just not sure yet. That’s where my family and I are living.

Then we get an email from the landlord. “We’re selling, you have to move.”

I feel grateful that we’ve already been leaning into the “what’s next?” questions.  We have months before we have to move.  Still.  We wanted to be the ones to tell our landlord we were moving.  Oh, well.

Now we’re looking at a blank canvas. We have an opportunity for another adventure. We’re looking at schools, homes, and communities, wondering if we could live there.

The news was a punch in the gut, don’t get me wrong. We’ve begun to grieve this house, our schools, and neighbors.  We’ll miss the walk-ability of the neighborhood, Blue Highway Games, and great coffee just around the corner.  Because we embraced how that news felt we’re not paralyzed by it.  Also, we haven’t left it to deal with it later.

I’ll let you know more as we move forward.  [Pun intended.]

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.

Sea Legs

It’s hard to for me to imagine that I’ve had a job for 5 months. I still feel like a new therapist. At the same time I feel a veteran.

One of my professors said “Give yourself 3 years before you quit.  You’ll want to pay your clients to see you.  Then a client will come to you and you will quickly realize that they are more mature than you are.”¹  Some days I wonder if I’m doing something wrong.  Even though I have rough days and I’m sure I don’t know what I’m doing with a client I don’t feel like quitting. I know I’ve made the right choice. I wonder if it has something to do with life experience. This is my second career, sort of.  I don’t see my work at a youth pastor much different than what I’m doing now.  At least, the meaty parts of youth ministry.  The moments that I lived for.  The moments I was like a tightly trimmed catamaran that’s literally humming in the water.  A catamaran that is cutting through the water, with the sails trimmed tightly, the hulls at just the right angle in the water, creates this resonance that’s like a tuning fork.  You’re part of the resonance when you’re aboard.  That’s how I feel at my job.

There is a lot of turnover in community mental health.  This means I’m not the new guy anymore.  When new hires arrive after company orientation I have some wisdom to share. Things like finding the extra office supplies, kitchen norms, forms that 99% of our company uses that our department doesn’t, and what mode of communication each supervisor prefers.  There’s also a “deer in the headlights period.”  I work in Children’s Intensive Services (The WISe program).  We work with a lot of trauma victims.  Abuse, neglect, substance abuse, substance exposed, attachment deficiencies, psychosis, severe mood disorders, self and other-focused harm for a few examples.  That’s just a Monday morning.   As my internship supervisor always told me “This work is chaotic.  Manage your inner chaos and you’ll be fine.”  I get to help some of my new peers at my supervisor help me.

It feels good to get my sea legs at this job.  I’m looking forward to learning more and growing as a therapist.

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.

 

 

¹Dr. Dan Allender, in a lecture for the class Faith, Hope, &  Love.

What. A. Week.

This has been one of those weeks. A week that it feels like you’re just holding on for dear life. You’re reminding yourself that you’ve grown, and you don’t have to turn back to things of the past. You’re stronger than you were before. Good thing I am, because this one’s been a doozy.

Its way past my bed time so I’ll give you the short-short version of this week:

Got more clients. Clients that are in crisis, juvenile detention, ER, med checks, suspensions, CPS. Good to see their faces and hear their stories.

Passat breaks down.

Shelves don’t fit as I designed. More work, up late.

More clients. Trainings. Paperwork. Meetings. Clients. Super busy traffic on the isthmus.

Test Drive a Honda. Budget?

Passat is not where I left it…

More Clients. Actual sessions. Feelings, heavy lifting. Podcasts heading south.

Shelves cut down to size. Functional is in fact sexy.

Passat towed. Paying even more money for “The Black Hole.” Junk man scheduled for the morning.

Buying a Honda.

Clients.  Knock knock jokes, secret handshakes, and fist bumps.

Oxytocin hugs from my sons.

Stumptown Coffee.  Lots of Stumptown Coffee.

Short Friday.

A Therapist with a Job

I. Got. A! Job!

This afternoon I got a call from Compass Health’s Child Intensive Services team.  My new supervisor offered me a position as a Child & Family Therapist.  I stoically accepted.  I was in shock.  Morgan, my new boss, asked if she was the only one excited on the phone.  I told her that I’m excited and in shock!

Here’s why I’m excited:

I get to work with children/adolescents & families.  I love working with families.  Working with parts of the family and the whole.  There are some many different ways to approach family work and I like that flexibility.  I love the “ah-ha” moments of growing up and helping kids pass through them is truly rewarding.

Anyone who’ve I’ve talked to that has worked at Compass speaks highly of the organization.   I like the morale and the atmosphere I keep hearing about.  Now I get to partake and contribute to it.

I get to have a working rhythm again. It’s been 5 years since I had a full-time job and it will feel good to get back at it.  To have nights and weekends back sounds great!  And most of the people I love have those off too.

Team approach.  The teams I’ll be a part of are in the wrap-around model.  I haven’t heard of a more intense way of doing as I get to be a part of.  It’s like a therapeutic dog pile on our clients.  I’m excited to be a part of that!

I will no longer be a Master of Arts in Pizza Delivery.  I will miss my discount though.

I have  a commute.  (You’re like, “What?”)  I grew up 20 miles from church, school, and soccer.  The long drive home is a part of me.  On my way to work I’ll be going opposite of the rush.  When we were living in Greenville Michigan we lived 3 minutes from the church I was working.  At the end of a hard day I’d often turn north, in the opposite direction of home, so I could have some transition time.  When we were living in Saint Joseph Michigan I’d often go walk the pier at Silver Beach before I came home.  If I was short on time I’d cruise by the white sandy beach awkwardly slow.  Sometimes I’d get honked at when I did.  I didn’t care. I was soaking the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline.  So podcasts and audiobooks here [hear] I come.

Here’s what I’m not excited about:

New jobs often suck at first.  You do things slower than you want.   You don’t know where anything is.  I know it takes a long time to adapt to a new culture.  At least now I have shed most of the contempt I used to hold for myself in those situations.  New is exciting, yet unnatural.

The commute. I know, I just said I was looking forward to it.  I love to drive, but Seattle drivers often frustrate me.  I’ll take my own therapeutic advice and do some deep belly breathing as I white-knuckle my way home.

The paperwork.  I don’t know many people who enjoy the paperwork of their job.

 

Well, here’s to a new adventure!  Thanks to those of you that have prayed, called, bought me a beverage or meal, or sat with me over the past few months. I’ve really needed your support, and I’m grateful for it.

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.

Making a Patio Table Out of Pallets

After graduating from graduate school I needed to make something with my hands.  I had created so much with my mind and this keyboard, but it was time to build something I could touch.  Here’s my journey and process.

For a couple years I’ve wondered about making somthing out of pallets.¹  I like the idea of reusing discarded things.  I also like to save money when I can.  The internet is bountiful with different ways people have repurposed pallets and other reclaimed objects.  Pallets are plentiful in Seattle so I knew I could find as many as I needed.

This has been a long and healing process.   In the past I had a hard time starting and finishing things.  I finished tons of papers over the past 3 years and they handed me a fancy diploma.  I’m sure at times I will have a hard time offering my work to the world, but now I have some new options. I can start and finish project much easier now.  I’ve grown those new nuero pathways in school.  Now I get you use them everyday.

This table represents many things.  It marks the shifing of my avaiability to others.  I now have more time in my life to invite people in.  I have room for them to come and sit at the table I made.  Now, it’s our table.  I’m finished with the time and energy commitment of grad school, and that feels really good.  I hold the hope of a schedule that someday soon can be mostly quarintined the standard Western work week.  It will be nice to be more in sync with my loved ones.  A schedule that I have a little margin for… well anything other than pizza delivery and writing papers sounds good.  Hopefully soon.


 

Now, here’s how I built the table.  For starters, I only spent $45 on this project.  It was it was split down the middle for the legs and stain.  The rest was given to me or I already had it.

I’m going to try to spell this project out as much as I can for those novices who are trying to get their feet wet with a project.  I’ve linked tools I’ve used in the project so you know what I’m talking about.  I used my compound miter saw to cut most of the wood.  You could also use a circular saw.

I started with a simple frame.  I lucked out and found a 6 foot long pallet.  That meant that I didn’t have to join the long sides.  Make sure that it’s square before you start adding the top decking.  I was so excited and distracted by my sons that I had to backtrack a little.

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I laid out the pallet boards on the frame to make sure I had enough material.

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I used 4×4 pressure treated posts for the legs.  I was hesitnet to use that thickness, but I wasn’t happy with the other sizes the lumber yard had.  I attached the legs with 3 1/2 inch hex bolts and washer on both ends.  Using a 1 inch spade bit I drilled holes so the end of the bolts would be flush with the wood or “recessed.”

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My neighbor saw what I was up to and he let me barrow some tools.  One of which was a finishing nailer and air compressor.  That made putting on the tabletop really easy and relatively fast.  The last peices I put on the deck I cut or “ripped” on what would be the inside seam of the table, not the edge.  I don’t have a table saw and I’m not great at straight long cuts by a circular saw.  I chizzled and sanded the pieces of the top so they would fit together better.  I intended to make this a rough piece, so I wasn’t concerned that they fit exactly.  After I got the top on I used a jig saw and made the top flush with  the edge of the frame.

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I used a belt sander and a grinder with a sanding wheel to even out the different thinknesses of boards.  Then I took a my finishing sander to it.  If you haven’t done much sanding, make sure you use sandpaper that increases in number.  For instance 60 is a rough grit paper, and should be used first.  It will take off more slivers and chunks for you.  Then move to 80, 100, 110, 120, etc.  It all depends on what you’re making and your preference.

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I wanted to keep it rough, but I also didn’t want water to settle in to the frame so I filled seams in the middle of the table where the top rests on the frame.  This is the part of the table that I’m least happy with.  Maybe I should have used a darker filler or taken more time to sand it down.  I’m not exactly sure what I would change.  It just adds to the rough and reclamed nature of the table.  It’s not enough for me to sand off the finish and redo it.  At the end of the day it will hold, plates, glasses, and conversations just fine.

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I knew I had the seal the table, this is Seattle afterall, but I didn’t want something high gloss.  I wanted rough, but not lacquered pine funiture you’d see in a lodge somewhere.  I decided on a satin finish.  I think it turned out quite nice.  Here are some pictures of “finished” product.

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Now I’m ready for some (more) guests.  If you want to have a better view, you’ll have to visit.  Mic drop.  Gauntlet thrown.  You’re welcome (come by) and you’re welcome (for this post).

I hope you stop on by.  Be uncommon.

 

 

¹ I can’t pass by the word pallet without mentioning my Uncle Gene.  He had a saw mill and made pallets.  I thought of him off and on during this project.  [Chest thump] R.I.P.  Uncle Gene.

sometimes the well is dry

My well is dry.  I dont’ find myself talking all that much these days.  It’s not that I dont’ have much to say.  I’m just not ready to speak them yet.

I’m tired of looking for jobs.  I’m tired of delivering pizza.  I’m tired of living on a shoe string.  I’m tired of not taking care of myself.  I’m tired.

My words are just below the surface.  I know that I can speak, I’m trying to give myself the grace and space not to say them.

I know I’m speaking now.  I’m talking about saying things that really matter.

Grace and Space.  Peace and quiet.  Trees and chipmonks.  Rain drops on my nose.  Moss stained sidewalks.  Breath in my lungs.

If I keep breathing deeply the words will come. If I keep breathing deeply my muscles won’t ache as badly.  If I keep breathing deeply I will find myself in rest.

Ah, to feel rested.  Some day.

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.

 

Improvised Camp “Oven”

Did you ever find yourself camping in a region with a burn ban, and you forgot to check if their was a burn ban before you lef? Yep, me too.

One of my sons and I were camping and we found ourselves fireless. We had planned several of our meals over open flames, ya know, with burning wood.  Here’s how we handled the situation.

I had our trusty camp/catering stove so we put that to work.  We used the lonely fire pit grate to give us some distance from the heat. I didn’t have the cover to the frying pan, which went bye bye years ago.  I used a think plastic plate instead.

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The first run was too close to the falme and is bruned the buscuits.

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Our second try worked much better.  Here’s my happy camper and our results.

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I’m sure there’s a more effective way to make a camp oven.  When I figure it out I’ll write it up or post the link.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.

A Rite of Passage

Levi and I embark on a rite of passage this morning.

I don’t have time this morning to explain much about this trip.  Levi and I are headed out for the weekend together.  This is his first marker on the road to becoming a man.  I’m excited to starte this journey with him this morning.

We headed north.  We’ll be in the shadow of Mt. Baker.  Eating, fishing, hiking, feasting, talking, and whitling.  Then we’ll wake up and do some more of that tomorrow.

When we return I’ll write a post about the reasons I decided to do this with my sons.  In the meantime, if you’re a praying person, think of us often in the next 3 days.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.

The Short Walk to Your Future

A week from today I graduate from The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology with a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology.  (I’m going to read that sentence again.  And one more time…)  Time flies when you’re working really hard.  And some moments stand utterly still.

It’s good to mark and celebrate milestones.  The honoring of pain and joy are important in life.  I will shout, fist pump, high-five, fist bump, hand shake, hug like a linebacker, weep, jump, stand still in awe, weep, sigh, feast, and grin like the Cheshire Cat.  Then I will sleep.  Like, a lot dude.

It’s awkward and unsettling when we transition.  As of Monday, I will have completed all my work for my degree.¹  I am practically done.  I’ve applied with Washington to be a Licsensed Mental Health Counselor Associate and all that’s left is my transcript.  “I’m ret ta go.”  The awkward part comes when you walk across a stage, hear your name spoken, applause², shake hands with the President and Dean, smile for a picture, and walk off the stage.  Some how that is a magical portal you’ve passed through, you’re changed, you’re a graduate, a Master now.  I’m excited, but I don’t feel that different. Yet.

Yet, my life is different.  I may not feel the weight until August or September.  In September it will poignant how things have changed.  No buying a stack of books, a pack of Pilot Precise V7RT with comfort grip, and a fresh Moleskin journal.   No hovering over the online registration screen so I can get the class sections I want.  No dread of “syllabus day,” where I feel I have to eat the whole elephant at once.

A week from this moment, I’ll have crossed the threshold.  Life will be different.  I am different.  Now, what’s our next adventure?

 

Thanks for stopping.  Be uncommon.

 

 

 

 

¹ It’s a group art installation and presentation for a class called Yearnings. More on that class later.

² Wow, the weeping has started just thinking about it.  If this was paper there would be tears on that sentence.