Tag Archives: confidence

Coming Into My Own

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open road is home

Original Artwork

Lady Vagabond has risen and come into her own
Singing hai-ay-ay-ay, the open road is home!

-S.J. (“Sooj”) Tucker, Lady Vagabond, album: Sirens

I am now an educational interpreter!  There’s a law in Colorado, USA, where I live, that prohibits me from saying that I’m an ‘interpreter’ until I have NIC certification (National Interpreter Certification).  I can lawfully say that I’m an educational interpreter, however, because I’ve passed the educational interpreter test (called the EIPA- Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment).

If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know that I was a Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for 13 years.  Back when I started this blog, I was extremely frustrated and burned out from my job, mostly because of the defunct system, and I was looking for an escape.  I wondered what else I could do for a living, and I realized that I love to interpret.  From time to time, I interpreted when other interpreters weren’t available, and I really enjoyed it.  I set my sights on interpreting as my new future career.  Recently I found a little souvenir from a past ritual, maybe from 2012 or 2013, a small paper on which I wrote what I wanted to move away from and what to manifest in my life.  On one side I wrote what I wanted to move away from: being a Teacher of the Deaf, and on the other side, I wrote what I wanted to move towards, and I had written “Interpreter: Freedom!”

2012-2013 was my roughest, most stressful school year since I had started teaching (and that’s saying a lot).  I started saving my money starting in 2012, so that I could be (mostly) jobless a while and go to school, and still pay my bills.  In the Fall of 2013, I started community college classes in an Interpreter Preparation Program (IPP).  I graduated in May of this year with an associates degree in interpreting!

This past summer, I struggled with not having any work yet and the emotions that brings.  I had expected at least a little bit of work and many interviews (being the Pollyanna-like positive thinker that I am).  I didn’t pass 2 screenings, and did pass 3 others, so I got signed on with two agencies and was set to start work with video relay service (VRS) work in the Fall.  That gave me hope, and I was constantly ready for that call from an agency- I gave the agencies lots of availability, even overnight and weekends, thinking ‘Pick me, pick me! Give me at least something!’  I had clothes on a hanger in my car and paperwork I’d need if I worked for one of the agencies ready to go.  To this day, I have only been called by one of the agencies once and I had to turn that job down.  Little did I know at the time that I was waiting and ready on pins and needles for nothing.  (Isn’t a lot of life and stress wasted like that?)  Meanwhile, while I waited for the call, text or email that I was checking constantly, I sent out a gazillion emails to community colleges in my area, attaching my resume and a link to my portfolio.  That resulted in getting signed on with two community colleges for the Fall.

Despite all the stress, waiting, and listless emotions, there are two wonderful and magical experiences I had this past summer: the first that stands out is interpreting at a Spring festival.  I interpreted at it last year and this year in an official capacity and have attended as a merchant several years before that.  Last year and this year, I learned all of the music for the concerts that I could get my hands on, practiced every moment I could, and the highlight was interpreting for my favorite musician: S.J. Tucker!  I also interpreted for Orpheus Pagan Chamber Choir, the best moment of which was interpreting the Jabberwocky, which was so much fun!  I used to have that poem printed out and pinned by my teacher desk, to lift my spirits with something odd and fantastical during my day.

interpreting for sooj and Betsy

Open interpreting for Sooj (SJ Tucker) and Betsy Tinney

The second wonderful experience I had this past summer was interpreting for a wedding which had many Deaf people in attendance.  The people involved were so wonderful, happy, relaxed, smiling, and friendly, and I got to interpret with someone I respect.  Those two experiences were indescrible.  Both experiences, as I look back on them, are sparkling with merriment and softening to the heart.

And throughout, my boyfriend that I spoke of two blogs ago has been so deeply loving, and we grow closer all the time. Life is good simply because I’m with him!

So, overall, the summer was a little rough, and mixed with wonderful experiences.  I tried to enjoy it and relax, but I also felt like I was mooching off of my boyfriend who I live with, and watched my savings dwindle more and more.  I prepared myself to ask my parents or my boyfriend for money, thought what I could sell, what else I could do to earn money, and tried to get other jobs, and scraped by, waiting for August when my jobs would start.  My savings that I had lived off of for 2 years diminished to only $20 this past July!  Thankfully I had rent money coming in, which barely kept me afloat until my jobs started, and I made it to August with only some debt to my boyfriend, which I’ll have paid off shortly.  It was a perfect timing kind of thing, and I thank whatever powers-that-be that look out for me, if they do at all, that things worked out the way they did!  I thank my lucky life and parents and boyfriend.  I’m also thankful for my smart brain (and that my brain had the chance to develop into a smart one), which helped me earn some money through tutoring during the summer as well.  I am truly so blessed.

All of August, I was stressed with starting new jobs, facing multiple fears related to doing my job well and not wanting to mess up people’s lives through mis-interpretations, and swimming in the new ocean tide called interpreting.  I tried out my fins and found out they work and work well!  I knew where to go, what to do, but it was all a little bit new.  I’m thankful for my many years with a toe in the Deaf community and to the patient and sweet Deaf people I’ve known, to help me to interpret and navigate now.  I’ve also noticed that what I’m doing now has connections in the past, one thing flowing to another, experiences and people I know are tying in to what I’m doing now.  Thinking of it makes me feel tingly, that maybe we ‘aren’t alone in the universe’ after all.

Now, it’s September, and I work at two community colleges and video relay service (VRS).  In case that term is foreign to you, I’m adding a footnote at the end to describe VRS.  I have been earning money again and am able to contribute to my little bubble of people that I live with.  I hesitate to call them family, but they are kind of my family now, more and more: my boyfriend and his daughter, who recently entered adulthood and lives half of the week in his home.  In my people bubble there are occasional chats with a roommate and his little son; he and his son are a bit on the fringes of the bubble.

And in addition to the people-bubble (or is it my family? not really yet, but….), there’s the thought of ‘is this my boyfriend’s home? Is it my home as well?’ Technically yes, it’s his.  However, he tells me I should think of it as my home as well- well yes, I live here.  But mine? His home? Our home?  My boyfriend’s home, that I live in.  What should I call it?  That’s the stage of our relationship now: what is merging for us, and what is apart?  I’m smiling at myself- navigating that whole new world in my thoughts: ours, his, ours, mine or his, or ours.

Only recently, I’m finally feeling more relaxed, getting used to all of what I’m doing, and like Sooj’s song, I’m coming into my own.  For much of August, and maybe much of this summer, I didn’t feel like myself.  I felt lost in the ether, not sure who I was, where I was, or what I was doing.  I was nervous about interpreting, nervous about myself, not satisfied with who I am.  I was scared to let go of being scared just in case I would mess up because of false confidence.  Now, with a little bit of successful experience, I am relaxing into interpreting.  There are still moments of ‘oh oops, misunderstanding of meaning,’ or ‘oops, wrong sign, this is the sign,’ and that may continue for a little while or forever.  But I’m more relaxed and happy with my stage in the process, and especially starting this past week, happy with life.

I have also joined Orpheus Pagan Chamber Choir, which I interpreted for at the Spring festival I spoke of last year and this year, and am singing alto.  That, too, has been a challenge, though a more happy one, that I’m starting to relax into and being more happy with.  I love to sing!  Before joining the choir I mostly sang with Sooj’s recorded voice while driving, and sang chants and pagan songs with friends while camping.  Now I’m adding chamber choir music to what I sing, and am enjoying the mental challenge of finding the right pitch and reading music while enjoying the vibrations singing creates in my head.  I’m also thrilled with the feeling of being part of a kind of hive mind as the choir sings together.

So, there’s my update after many months’ hiatus of writing!  Surprise, you get a new blog!  Perhaps I’ll expand on some themes I touched on just a bit in this blog in future blogs.

FOOTNOTE:

Video Relay Service (VRS):  Nowadays, Deaf people and people who use sign language to communicate use something called a Video Phone (VP) to make phone calls (in the US and other developed countries).  A VP is much like skyping or talking through the web via video, though this is through a phone line connected via a kind of webcam to a television screen, or they can use a cell phone or computer as well.  VPs require high speed internet to work.  The VP owner has a phone number that people can dial just like a normal phone number.  When someone who doesn’t have a VP calls a VP phone number, the call gets routed to a VRS, and that person hears a sign language interpreter speak to them.  The call is then connected to the Deaf person’s VP in addition to the interpreter.  The interpreter has a headset and looks at a computer screen, and sees the Deaf person signing.  The interpreter voices to the hearing person what the Deaf person says, and then, as the hearing person speaks, the interpreter signs what is said to the Deaf person.  VP owners can call other VP owners without an interpreter and have a ‘face to face’ conversation in sign.

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Be Untamed and Wonderful

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crows on telgraph pole darkened

I made this by combining two photos and tweaking them in various ways.

Some of you may remember the message I got from the Goddess (specifically The Morrighan and the Norns; whatever being it is that prefers to represent herself in those forms) two years ago:

“Know this.  I am to the right of you.  I am to the left of you.  I am before you and behind you.  I am always all around you.  My ravens will remind you of this.”

At that time, The Morrighan said that I would be fine for the next 3 years if I would let go of what was blocking me, and that I knew what that was.  At the time I wasn’t sure, but didn’t ask.  I think I know now what has been blocking me.

If you’ve been following my blogs, you’ll know that I’m in my internship for becoming a sign language interpreter.  Also, since my last blog, I’ve moved in with my new lover, and we’ve now been together about 7 months.  I’ve rented my place out to a friend of his, and am contributing money to food and board to my boyfriend.  I’m still tutoring which earns hardly anything, living off savings, and now the rent money is helping out.  So I continue to have my needs taken care of, while pursuing my new career.  I’ve been watching my savings diminish to less and less, and I still have enough.

In the internship, it has been pretty stressful, trying to get all the hours I need to pass, and to do well.  Like many of the students in our IPP (Interpreter Preparation Program) cohort, I am quite hard on myself and have high expectations.  For the most part, I’ve been doing really well in the internship, able to practice a lot and get great feedback.

Used with permission from the artist, selphy6.  The pic can be found at: http://selphy6.deviantart.com/art/Cleffa-playing-balloon-380231141

Used with permission from the artist, selphy6. The pic can be found at: http://selphy6.deviantart.com/art/Cleffa-playing-balloon-380231141

I’ve felt pretty confident overall, though confidence is a strange animal (like one of the gazillion Pokemon– I think I’ll call it Wonkywonks or something- my lover’s 17 year old daughter knows all about them).  Confidence can inflate to be way too big, to medium, and then lose air like a balloon and become almost non-existent.  And it has special powers:  when it’s too small, it can make your brain run really slowly, and when it’s too big, the brain runs fast and wildly.  Over the course of the internship, it went from a little more than medium, to medium pretty steadily, and recently it’s taken some dips into small.  Last week, it got way too small.  There’s a Philosophy class I’ve been interning in,  and the professor is super smart and talks a mile a minute.  Sometimes the structure of his lesson is difficult to discern, and as interpreters in the class, we have to have faith that what we’re interpreting will have come kind of cohesion and make sense eventually.

I’ve struggled to keep up with this professor, and I realized that what was keeping me back was my perfectionist nature- I needed to get all the concepts correct and tie it all in with the gestalt (this is interpreter jargon we students have started to incorporate into our internal lexicons).  So, last Tuesday, I was going way slower than I should have been and I dropped the concepts, so that my supervising interpreter had to pick up the slack many times and take over.  After the class, she gave me some crushing news, that she may have to take over the class if I didn’t speed up.  That same day, I had a voicing test, and I’m not sure if my nerves over the test affected my interpreting that day, or what was going on, but my self confidence had become small.  I had to struggle to build it up again and try to relax a bit before the test so that I wouldn’t freeze up.  During the test, I lost a lot of chunks of information, and I felt like I had bombed it.

So: back to that strange transparent fish that wanted to escape capture: what was it that was blocking me from shining at my best?  Yes, my perfectionist nature, but more than that:  I didn’t have faith in myself.  I felt like I had to over-monitor how I was doing, in order to do well, instead of letting me just do what I am already good at.  I was micromanaging myself.  I’m not sure if that makes sense.  I had to free the wild awesome woman that I am, the wild interpreter.  Or, maybe ‘wild’ isn’t the right word- more like a wild animal, untamed, rather than acting wildly.  I had to relax to let myself be the best untamed human I can be, and trust that I CAN be the best I can be.

On Wednesday, I did well at my internship in one class I consider to be easy, and another class I consider to be more difficult.  That helped my confidence a bit.  My new lover also helped me feel better, expressing his faith in me and to not worry about results of things or how other people grade me because that can be subjective and unreliable.  (He’s very skilled in interpreting data and even has a degree related to it.)

That night, I came up with a way to help myself feel better: a plan. I always feel better when I have a plan.  In case my supervising interpreter decided on choice A: to let me have another chance before taking over, I would up my game and rise to the challenge.  In case she went with choice B: take over the class, I would accept it as a relief from stress (I hoped I would react that way, anyway), and record the lectures and observe her sign choices, and practice interpreting the lecture afterward.  That way I would still be pursuing my goal to be able to handle the class.

So, to prepare for choice A, I brought up a youtube video related to the same topic, with a fast talking professor, and practiced signing.  I sat on our bed, practicing signing a mile a minute, finding that I could keep up with the professor for the most part!  I also needed to limber up my fingers to fingerspell quickly.  At one point, signing wildly on the bed, I looked up and saw our dog looking in the doorway, with a stricken look on her face.  She stood still and stared at me- this strange transformation of my calm and quiet self into a crazily waving person (in her view, I’m guessing).  At one point I took a short break, and she came up on the bed (where she prefers to be, in arms length of petting).  After a while I started up with signing again and she left, like “Ok, I’m outta here.”  Pretty funny.

The next day, last Thursday, I felt a little nauseous with worry over what would happen.  I practiced again, had more caffeine to wake up my neurons, and drove in to the internship site.  Before class, I was fingerspelling philosopher’s names in the hallway, when the Deaf student came up and caught me practicing.  We chatted a bit, then entered the room when the supervising interpreter came walking up.  It turned out that my supervising interpreter chose A, to give me a chance, for which I’m grateful.  She started first, interpreting for 20 minutes, as we had previously agreed.  Then it was my turn, and I … want to say I was on fire, but I think that’s my heart being happy about it.  I wasn’t really on fire, I was *just right.*  I did it!  Later at class that night, I found out I got a B on the test.  What a relief! I had done better on that test than I had thought.

Back to the ravens.  I had a thought this week that since I’d moved far away from where I was living before, I hadn’t seen any ravens, and I missed seeing them.  Guess what I saw on Wednesday and Thursday?  Crows, not ravens, but close enough to give me a wonderful feeling.  I’m still being taken care of.

So:  my soul homework is to let my wonderful untamed interpreter woman free to be the best I can be, and not be so restraining of myself.  I also need to trust that I’m still being taken care of by deity.  It’s a wonderful cozy feeling.  I hope that you, reading this, can take some tidbit of a reassuring lesson from this, to apply this to your life as well.  So mote it  be. ❤