Friends! I can hardly believe I'm saying this, but we've reached the end of the Celebration Series for 2016! I started this series back in January for a few reasons. Selfishly, I wanted to create a challenge for myself to practice drawing more portraits on a regular basis. Check.
A little more un-selfishly, I wanted to create a platform to celebrate and give a voice to some folks that I really admire. I've always loved reading work-related interviews, but noticed that it was typically the same rotation of creative folks that would be interviewed over and over again. So, the heart behind this series was to celebrate not just that same rotation of people, but to interview people from all different industries and lines of work. I believe that creativity is far more than the ability to draw or paint — it's the thing that makes you different from everyone else in the world. And when people are able to tap into those things that make them unique and bring them out in their work and life, well, that's pretty darn inspiring. :)
So, along those lines, I'm thrilled to be introducing you to Grace Dowd. Grace and I went to college together and I always admired her joyful spirit and relentless positivity — two attributes that are a HUGE asset (and blessing) in her work as a therapist for folks who are suffering from depression, anxiety, abuse, etc.
I'm consistently in awe of my friends (and husband) who, like Grace, work in the medical field. It can be a very thankless job where you are confronted with extremely difficult situations day in and day out. With that in mind, seeing how Grace can cling to hope in the face these challenges is super powerful. So, join me in celebrating Grace (and the people in your life that you admire) as you read through her interview.
And lastly, THANK YOU for following along for the past year. It's been such a joy to work on this series and I look forward to filling you in on what I have in store for 2017. :)
Let's get into the interview!
Give us a quick background on who you are and what you do for work.
Hi! My name is Grace Dowd and I live in Austin, Texas with my wonderful husband, Sam, and our sweet fur-baby, Hutch. I moved to Austin a little over four years ago to pursue a master’s degree in social work at the University of Texas. I went into grad school telling myself that the last thing I would ever do with my degree included talking about emotions on a regular basis or doing group therapy. And now, because God has a sense of humor, I am doing both. Specifically, I serve as a therapist with a psychiatric hospital in town where I facilitate intensive outpatient groups to individuals dealing with various mental health concerns including, but not limited to, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, suicidality, and personality disorders.
What about your work brings you the most joy and fulfillment?
I am fortunate to say that there are many aspects of my job that bring me joy and fulfillment. Every day is different in the mental health field so it’s very difficult to become bored or complacent. The most rewarding aspect of my job is definitely witnessing clients improve and progress as they go through treatment. I observe clients start to do things that they used to tell themselves they couldn’t do. Most clients are attending treatment 3 to 5 days a week so we are typically able to see client’s make significant progress in a short period of time. Oftentimes, when someone begins therapy they are highly depressed and feel very hopeless so when a client graduates on the last day of treatment with a smile on their face and their head held high, it brings me so much joy and reminds me of why I do the work that I do.
Who or what is inspiring you right now?
Personally and professionally, I am finding a lot of inspiration from those who are willing to be vulnerable and honest about their struggles, strengths, and shortcomings. As a therapist, I see this a lot in my day-to-day work. I think that there is something so truly beautiful about people who show up and saying “here I am, the good and the bad, take it or leave it” and this inspires me to be more authentic, genuine, and honest with the people around me.
What has been difficult lately?
Slowing down. Embracing the pauses. I love the concept of being mindful, of slowing down, of being fully present… and yet this is something that I constantly struggled with. I often find myself doing things like walking my dog while reading a book on my phone (...not the best idea for someone as accident-prone as I am). Mindfulness is something that I teach my clients and talk about on a regular basis at work (I know, I know — I used to think that it was cheesy too). I think something that gets in the way of being present is the thinking pattern that I constantly have to be doing or working towards something, or that things have to be done “perfectly” or why bother doing them at all — so I am working on that. A verse that has been on my heart this year is Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God”. I find that when I take time to slow down and be fully present gratitude, joy, and close connections with the people I love dearly follow.
What makes you different from everyone else in the world and how does that uniqueness manifest itself in your work and life?
Oh boy — this is a tough one. I think that something that makes me unique is that I truly strive to see the best in other people, both in my personal or professional life. I am a firm believer that we are all doing the best we can in this moment and because of this belief I try to meet people where they are, whatever that looks like at the time. I also recognize that I am going to fall short, make mistakes, and screw up more often than I would like to admit so I try to extend the same grace (ha!) towards people that I desire in those moments.
What's your spirit animal?
Some of our closest friends, and even my husband, have taken to calling me “Puppy Grace”. I like to think that it’s because I am energetic and bubbly but to be honest it is probably also because I am very uncoordinated and overly enthusiastic first thing in the morning ;)
Grace, THANK YOU for the incredible work that you're doing in the world and for the way that you give yourself to your patients. The world needs more people like you! You can find more of Grace over on instagram.
So much love & Respect,