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January 17, 1970, was a big day. Maybe it was my biggest day. It was the day I was born. My mother was at her baby shower. That was when she went into labor with me. That night, on a cold night, I came into the world. It was quite the change for me. Today does not look like it will be as big a day. I am taking my son to the dentist. We don’t have any big plans. I have not even scheduled myself to be off. (I used to get the Monday closest off for MLK day as a government employee, now if I don’t work, I don’t get paid!) There is nothing earth-shattering about one more circuit around the sun for one Bryan G. Stephens.
Still, we celebrate birthdays, and we celebrate our orbits. Each birthday I look back on how I have changed over the last year. This year things changed dramatically when, after being hired for a brand new job, 60 days in the place was shut down. After losing four jobs in less than three years due to corporate maneuvers, I had enough. In April of last year, I started my private practice as a mental health therapist. I applied to be on insurance panels and signed up for online connections. Thanks to the wuflu, teletherapy has become the new normal so I could start work immediately out of my home. I started renting office space one day a week with a local psychiatric practice. I thought I would be at more than one day a week, but the demand for face-to-face is just not there. So, for the first time in my life, I am working four days a week at home. Physically, working at home has meant too much access to the pantry, something I am working on. Mentally, it has been great. Not only can I see five or six clients in a day, I have been able to teach my daughter to drive. I see more of my teenagers than my wife does these days, something I treasure.
Daily ventures into the lives of clients have grown my sense of gratitude. I am honored to be allowed to enter into this sacred space with others. Of course, the money is not the same as running a $30 million a year company. Neither is the stress. I am as happy as I have ever been with my work. April this year will mark one year in private practice. I don’t know if I will be where I want to be by then, but I will be closer than I was.
It’s a good birthday.
This entry is part of the Group Writing Series.Published in