My husband and I had plans. Brook would continue working as an insurance executive. I’d stay home with the kids until the twins went to kindergarten, at which point I'd go back to work 25 hours or so a week as a Licensed Professional Counselor. I'd then be able to contribute to our monthly budget, AND we'd be able to save for college. Ha.
Ha. Ha. Ha. That's God giggling.
Then Jeannie Bean came along. Not planned. (Though embraced.)
New plan: I'd stay at home with the kids for four or five more years, then I'd go back to work. Secretly, I was thrilled. I love babies, and I loved staying home with my babies. I knew that not everyone gets to stay home with their babies, but Brook and I had vowed to make it work for as long as we could.
Then God called Brook to be a Lutheran Pastor. Not planned. So we made a new plan: Brook would continue working full-time as an insurance executive while going to a distance education program at Luther Seminary until it was time to do his one-year internship, at which point he'd quit his day job and dive fully into seminary. One year later, he'd be a full-time, full-fledged pastor. Somewhere in there, I'd go back to work full-time as a Licensed Professional Counselor.
Ok, life just got a bit harder. But Brook would be fulfilled and happy as a pastor. We'd be fulfilling God's plan. It was a new plan, but we still had a plan. We could do this. Ha.
Ha. Ha. Ha. That was God giggling again.
Then catastrophe hit. Suddenly, I got so sick that I almost died. By a miracle, I lived. But my hands and feet did not. Both hands were amputated below the elbow. One leg was amputated below the knee. I got to keep the other leg, but that foot was ”compromised,” meaning that I lost my toes and part of my heel. That heel would never fully heal, so it caused all kinds of problems and and all kinds of pain.
Could I take care of myself? Could I take care of the kids? Could Brook continue to follow his dream (and, more importantly, God's call) of becoming a pastor? Could I work? How could we pay for our medical bills and prosthetics? Moreover, how could we support our family? How could we (financially and physically) get dinner on the table? How can we take care of the kids?
Our family, friends, church, community, even strangers chipped in and not only got dinner on the table but they also raised a ton of money to pay for my medical bills and some pretty amazing prosthetics. With God's help, I recovered. I worked hard, and I figured out how to (mostly) take care of myself and the kids. Brook worked extremely hard, all the while taking care of me and the kids. He graduated from seminary! He got called to an amazing, local church. So, he does get to be a pastor after all! And we don't even have to move, so our family and community can continue to put their arms around us and help us take care of the kids and get dinner on the table!
Brook’s salary will cover most of our expenses. But, because I had been a stay-at-home mom when I got sick, I did not qualify for social security/disability pay. This could/should be a whole different blog post, op-ed, and fight against the federal government. But who has time or energy for that? We're choosing to face forward and remain positive.
But what's our plan? Umm…
Can I physically and logistically handle taking care of the kids and holding down a job? Definitely not full-time, but possibly part-time. Can I make enough money to fill the gap between what Brook earns and the family needs? Will anyone hire me? Do I have something to give this world?
Damn right, I do.
I have an amazing education. I'm intelligent. I have a passion for helping people, and I'm good at it. I have a purpose. I've been through hell, and I'm living to tell about it. I have a message to spread. I'm a great speaker. And I'm a great counselor. I can do this.
Ever since I got sick, (once I could get out of the house and walk to a podium,) I've been speaking to groups of all sizes. I've been shouting my hope and joy at all types of events, everything from corporate to Christian. I've built a bit of a business in motivational and inspirational speaking. Now that I've done so much of the hard work in the process of healing, I'm ready to help people on an individual level as well. I've helped new amputees through the tough parts of healing on a volunteer basis. But I've missed counseling as a career.
I've kept up my industry knowledge, my skills, and my licensure as a counselor such that I'm completely qualified and capable to work as a counselor.
But, like many moms out there, I've been out of the work force for a number of years.
I've been extremely lucky that Brook has always earned enough and has been willing to join me in a lean lifestyle so that I've been able to stay home with our kids up until now. The promise and the expectation has always been for me to contribute to our bottom line once the kids were in elementary school.
Whether or not I have a disability, it is time for me to go back to work. I no longer have this “choice” in the matter; we now need two incomes to make ends meet. Unless I work, we cannot pay our mortgage, our medical bills, or our grocery bills (even at my favorite store in the world, Aldi).
I've adored those (many) hours and days of snuggling my (many) babies. But I've also missed the sense of efficacy and accomplishment, satisfaction, and adult conversations that working brings. Most of all though, I've missed using my natural leanings, intellect, and professional skills to help people.
All through my years as a stay-at-home mom, I've retained my licensure just so I'd be ready when the time was right to go back to work. And I am ready. Except I'm missing just a couple of substantial tools — I'm missing hands. They come in “handy” when filling out the necessary paperwork, taking case notes, and presenting myself as capable.
Still … I can do this.
Let's talk about the specifics: I want to keep speaking and spreading my story of miracles and hope. But I also want to fulfill a dream I've had for twenty years -- to open a private practice for therapy and counseling. Maybe not with a full case load. That was never the dream anyway. I want just enough clients to fill my heart and bring home a living. But not so many that I'm too stressed to simultaneously take care of myself and my family.
This won't be easy. It would be a big feat for anyone to master, let alone a quadruple amputee!
Still, if I can beat sepsis, learn to walk again, climb to the top of a rock wall, travel across the country, downhill ski, paddle board, and ride a bike along Lake Tahoe, I CAN do this. And I'll picture all of these things as I plunge back into the workforce.
I can DO this!
So, yes! I'm headed back to work. I'll continue to speak to larger groups, but now I'll also be working with individuals on facing their own challenges and difficulties. I'll be subletting a friend/colleague's office, and it's located exactly where I'd want it to be – downtown Matthews.
As of August 1st, "Kristan Seaford, LPC" is open for business! Which is simultaneously exciting, exhilarating, and terrifying,
Please pray for me to attract enough clients, to help people and contribute to society, to adequately care for myself and my family, and to join my husband in financially supporting my family. Here I go.
To express an interest in individual, couples, or family counseling, click here.