Good Parenting

Recently I’ve had the chance to interact with some good parents in a professional setting. This is in contrast to the hundreds of bad ones that I interact with. I’ve never been a parent but I know it’s a hard job. I loathe waking up to take my dog out in the middle of the night–let alone getting up several times a night to tend a sick child or feed a hungry baby. It’s a job with rewards, setbacks, challenges, and achievements. I’ve heard many people say that the reason they don’t have kids is because they’re too selfish and I can understand where they are coming from. Selfish parents are the worst. I’ve met them. People more concerned about their money, appearance or property than their child’s welfare, happiness and safety. That’s why I’m always so excited to meet people who are good parents and whose kids actually like them. One of the biggest perks of having kids who like you is that the will fight tooth and nail for you when you’re too old to do it for yourself. There’s nothing like addressing a complaint from an irate adult child about their parent’s care. It’s an experience I don’t relish but I don’t get upset about it because they are genuinely concerned about their parent and the fear comes out in the emotion of anger. I say all that to say that having a kid is like an investment in your future if you get a good kid and you raise them in a way that doesn’t mess them up forever. Easier said than done in my opinion–especially with the amount of selfish parents out here. 

weekend travels

So once again I’m on another trip. This time it’s to a place that is incredibly warm with humidity and bugs. To the point that one crawled in my food the other day and I didn’t freak out. The humidity here is so nice and I’ve gotten back into the habit of greeting perfect strangers. There’s something nice about going 90 MPH on the freeway with the windows down and music with a decent beat blasting from the speakers. The sad thing is that while this was a sorta vacation, homework is still due. I will always wonder what possessed me to be in an academic program that has school year round. Regardless, it’s nice to be in a different setting while slaving away writing. One thing that was great this trip was seeing friends and sleeping on the beach. I feel like I don’t really sleep until I get to a beach. I sat in the sun and baked for an extended amount of time and my skin tone is testament to that fact. The thing I hate about coming home is working again but that will probably be a constant thing as long as I continue to finance my own trips. It’s been a good experience and I’ve decided that another weekend trip to Florida is in order for sometime later in the year. Did I mention that it’s summer down here already? 

Jobs and Creatives

I ran across this intriguing article the other day. The first thing that caught my eye was the fact that the author mentions a group of people called creatives, and while I haven’t heard that term used a lot in relation to a specific category of people, I think it’s similar to people we often call “free-spirits.” You can read the article here. The basic assertion is that creative people hate the traditional 9-5 job and I can definitely relate. While I am an individual who appreciates structure and routine at times, my aversion to feeling confined puts me in the category of people who strongly dislike traditional work hours in traditional settings. The article references the fact that creatives hate to restrict motivation to certain hours during the day. I’ve never been much of a morning person–preferring instead to wake up at my own pace and start my day on my own terms. That’s just not possible in most jobs where you have to be at work between the hours of 7 and 9am Monday through Friday. That’s way too much structure for my taste. I love the idea of taking random breaks during the day to run errands and shop and then return to work. Sounds idealistic I know. Working at my own pace without being micromanaged is also important to me because I think I’m quite capable of getting work accomplished in a reasonable period of time without multiple interruptions from those who have the need to reassure themselves that I am indeed doing my job. It’s funny how much of the work world in the States revolves around this type of schedule. Working 5 days and then only having 2 days off to recuperate. I tried a job with traditional hours and lasted a little bit over three months because it was way too much structure for my tastes. While I don’t think I would categorize myself as a “creative,” after reading the article I can relate to every single one of the annoyances of having a traditional work schedule. I guess that’s why I work nights. For now at least.

Married At First Sight

Lately I’ve been watching a television show that portrayed a social experiment that was so intriguing. The show is called Married at First Sight and chronicles the experience of three couples who meet at the altar. The couples are put together by a group of relationship experts who match them based on comparability tests and personal interviews. While I admit the idea is out of the ordinary, I think there’s a lot of merit to it. The couples most likely would have never met if it had not been for these experts. As I was watching the show I asked myself if I could marry a perfect stranger in that type of situation and I would. It’s one thing to be set up by friends and family and another one to be set up by people who have studied human behavior and have years of experience and degrees in their respective fields. As someone who is familiar with many of the personality theories that guide studies on romantic interactions and the longevity of relationships, I would feel fairly comfortable marrying a perfect stranger in these circumstances. As I watched the show it was eye opening to observe how people requested certain traits and characteristics in their future mate but weren’t willing to compromise in order to complement those requested traits. An example of this was one of the women who talked and discussed with the experts at length on how much she wanted traditional gender roles and wanted a man who would do all the manly chores and be strong. Yet, she was appalled when she got what she wanted and found out that her dream man also expected her to cook for him. I’m a huge fan of social experiments and while matchmaking is a significant industry, it’s different when there’s a team working together to match compatible people.

Self Care 

For the past few years I’ve been one to associate happiness with a geographical location. Namely foreign countries and the southern region of the United States. However, I think that that is also related to my occupation. From the moment that I say I’m a social worker the usual reaction is, “I could never do that, it’s such a hard job.” And I agree that it is. My undergraduate experience with social work was varied and included working with felons and patients on hospice. It was then when I had to work hands on with others when I discovered that people are a lot more complicated in real like than they are in textbooks. Thankfully, I had a very well rounded experience in college that gave a pretty accurate depiction of the field. I knew that I didn’t want the stereotypical job of a county caseworker and I wanted to focus more on the counseling side. Somehow I found my way to the mental health field and have stayed in some capacity ever since. The thing about mental health is that it is the opposite of predictable. It’s messy, it’s chaotic, it’s stressful and it’s real. But it’s also rewarding. However, it takes a lot out of you. I’ve heard stories that have been horrific and have talked to hundreds of individuals who are experiencing their own personal crisis. That’s why this field is so notorious for burn out and people who are so overwhelmed with their job responsibilities that they’ve given up completely. There are some days where I wish I could publish some of the stories I hear because truth is stranger than fiction. One of the best things about traveling is the physical distance between myself and the daily chaos I work in. It’s like a breath of fresh air and a chance to finally relax to some degree and not think about work related things. Self care at its finest. 

What an Introvert Won’t Admit

I don’t typically post or write about introverts but this particular article was such a dead on representation of myself and other introverts I know, I had to comment/blog about it. You can read it here. Now, the list of things listed in the article makes so much sense to me. It also explains why I haven’t had a public birthday celebration in years. Now that doesn’t mean that I didn’t celebrate, it just means that I went on a trip instead. I remember trying to like everyone when I was younger and it didn’t really work out. I believe that all people deserve respect, kindness and fairness but I’m a firm believer that all people can’t be liked. I’ve worked with too many parents whose parenting choices I didn’t agree with. Or people so full of themselves that they refused to acknowledge the truth or anyone that spoke anything contrary to their own personal reality. The reality is that some people are hard to like. But back to the article. Getting stuff done is something that I have the ability to do. Granted, it doesn’t always happen because I’m easily bored but when push comes to shove I can focus and be productive. Of course it always helps when I’m facing an impending deadline. The article mentions small talk and I’m so glad that it does. Small talk has got to be one of the most annoying things created. I really don’t care for it and that’s why I put such an emphasis on building rapport and having conversations with actual depth with others. However, small talk is the way to more meaningful interactions and I’ll be buying a book in the near future and forcing myself to learn how to do it effectively despite my aversion to it. While I don’t know the exact split between introverts and their counterparts, I think that this article scarily accurate in describing what most introverts would never actually admit out loud. Interesting stuff.

Fifty Shades of……Interesting Part I 

 Not too long ago there was a pretty big discussion on social media related to the movie release of Fifty Shades of Gray. The book brought attention to a lifestyle that normally isn’t broadcasted in the mainstream. People were giving their opinions on how the storyline lends itself to glorifying unhealthy relationships and some in the faith community were questioning the piety of those who chose to go see it. I’m a curious person by nature and I never got caught up in the original discussion when the books were released but wanted to know what it was all about. I’m a fan of being informed before I form an opinion so I decided to do some research and read the books for myself. Within a few minutes of making the decision the books were downloaded on my phone for easy reading. Or so I thought. There are some books you read and they just seem to flow but I had to read the series in spurts because it was a really choppy read. Anyway, throughout the course of the book, the author draws so many conclusions to explain the behaviors that are pretty colorfully described. We have a young college student who is so enthralled at first sight with someone that almost loses her individuality in the process and spends a significant bit of time pacifying his insecurities. Sidenote: I’ve always questioned the intelligence of people who insist that you should only date one person in your lifetime and treat everyone else as your brother or sister until this “one” arrives. Ana has no point of reference in this department and ends up in a relationship she might not have chosen for herself if she had something to compare it to. But I digress. The relationship develops somewhat awkwardly but before we know it, Ana is already staying at his penthouse and declaring her jealousy of someone she has not met but already come to the conclusion that she doesn’t like. One of the assumptions is that Christian is controlling because of a relationship in his adolescence and his childhood. Ana initially balks at his expensive gifts but becomes used to them and “their” money as he tells her. To say that Christian is controlling is an understatement considering the fact that he buys a company in order to “keep her safe.” The lesson in this is that it’s one thing to be controlling but a person with money who is also very controlling isn’t always the best thing. It might work well in business but doesn’t create the healthiest relationship. 

Hotel Chronicles 

Ever since I can remember I’ve liked staying in hotels. There’s something oddly comforting about an environment that puts and emphasis on hospitality. Not too long ago there was a snowstorm in my city and as a democracy of one I made the executive decision to get a hotel room because I’m considered essential personnel at my job and calling in because of weather isn’t really an option. As a nice gesture my hospital extended the invitation to staff  to stay on grounds in unoccupied rooms. However as someone who works 12 hour shifts, the last thing I want after working 12 hours is to spend that same amount of time at the same place until I work again. Not to mention that I like having physical distance between myself and my job. So getting the hotel room was an incredibly great decision and reminded me of all the reasons why I like staying in nice hotels. As I’ve mentioned many times, traveling is one of my hobbies and I admit, that staying in a hotel is probably one of the best parts of the experience. At first there was some hesitation that came with staying by myself in an unfamiliar city. However that fear was soon confronted after doing a solo trip to Miami by myself and going through the whole experience of booking and staying in a hotel on a total whim. Since then I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels and have had pretty good experiences. One experience that was pretty memorable was staying at a hotel in Paris. Like the true adventurer I am, my hotel was miles away from the tourist part or Paris and there weren’t many English speakers and the French didn’t appear to be particularly pro-American. The hotel room was markedly smaller than rooms in the US and was also significantly more expensive. You had to leave your room key at the front desk and pick it up so that there wasn’t a chance it would get stolen from you. However the view from my window appeared to be right out of some romance movie based in Paris. The thing I like about hotels is that they signify a separation between real like and vacation or business. It’s not your home and doesn’t feel like such but yet it is for however long you stay. There’s the expectation that you aren’t expected to do housekeeping duties and you are free to roam and return to a clean room regardless (within reason) of the state you left it in. Perhaps if I spent three months in a nice hotel I would change my mind. But who doesn’t like housekeeping services? 

Feeling Confined

I’m the type of person who really hates feeling confined. I’m not a fan of small places and while they don’t evoke a panic-like reaction from me, I don’t go out my way to experience them. My parents attest to this fact by reporting I was an escape artist as a toddler. For some reason I hated my crib and would often raise my foot above my head to the guardrail and hoist myself over the railing and fall to the floor. Somehow I managed not to permanently injure myself as I escaped multiple times from my jail–I mean crib. Growing up and being homeschooled afforded me the ability to have a nice balance of structure and flexibility. I remember playing outside in our backyard one day in rural Alabama and  saying to my mother that we should go visit my grandparents in Michigan. She liked the idea and within about four hours we had embarked on the 17 hour roadtrip north. Totally unplanned and random. I personally know a lot of people who stay so tied to their to do list that they miss out on a lot.  Flexibility is a trait that can come in handy because it demonstrates an ability to think on your feet. I love structure and predictability but I’m also a firm believer in planned spontaneity. Those are scheduled times where I get to do whatever I want (within reason) without an agenda. I’m still in the process of finding a great balance of structure and planned spontaneity but I believe it can be found.  

Assumptions and Conclusions

Like many people, sometimes my daily exercise regimen consists of jumping to conclusions. It’s not always done on purpose but it still happens nonetheless. Working in an environment that requires me to make good decisions in a short period of time means that many times I have to arrive at a conclusion taking the short cut to get there. We all have some assumptions or preconceived notions that we use often to clear up some space in our brain. While I’m not saying that these assumptions are always bad, it’s important to recognize they exist and to periodically evaluate their relevance. I once observed someone who appeared to be very standoffish. I think everyone knows at least one person who appears very proud and is frequently annoyed when they have to associate with “common” people. Now, this person also had a name that sounded entitled (another assumption). However, all my assumptions ended once I had a conversation with this individual and discovered that the opposite was true. They really weren’t stuck up and happened to be genuinely compassionate and caring. Assumptions are based on perceptions that may not necessarily be true. That’s why it’s important to take the time to challenge them because you could miss out on getting to know someone amazing because of your assumptions.