There’s something about the month of May that makes me reconsider my entire life. It’s like an internal check-in to evaluate how the year has gone up to this point. It’s also my half-birthday month–which is another reminder that I only have 6 months to go until I’m a year older. Last year around this time I was living in Atlanta and working in a job I didn’t really love. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then and I’m happy to say that I’ve had the chance to travel a bit more because that was one of the things I resolved to do last May. Since then I’ve traveled to Las Vegas, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Spain, England, France, Italy, Monaco, and Malta. In addition to that I quit my job and moved across the country to California. It’s been eventful to say the least but I’ve learned a lot and have also acquired a new skill set. Working in a busy hospital and coordinating care will definitely have you learning a lot of new medical terminology that you didn’t learn in graduate school. I also decided to try my hand at teaching and am now facilitating a class of 16 graduate students in a weekly online class. It’s been challenging but fun so far. A lot of decisions were made last May and we’ll see what happens this year.
Tag Archives: social work
I’m always inspired by people who go after what they really want to do and who live life on their own terms. I’ve always had a love hate relationship with work. Don’t get me wrong I like helping people, but doing it constantly just drains me. And while I don’t have a bad attitude and I don’t snap at people when I’m tired, it’s just exhausting at times. Unfortunately human need isn’t confined to normal business hours and it’s hard for me to leave something without a sense of completeness. Working in the healthcare field adds another layer because there’s literally always something to be done. Even leaving after a long day of work means that there are still things that have to be done. Today I felt inspired as I received several phone calls from recruiters regarding open positions and I was strangely comforted as those phone calls reminded me that my job is definitely needed. I spoke to a colleague of mine who only takes one contract job per year and spends the rest of her time writing and doing talks on things that she’s passionate about. Having a purpose in life is so important and I think that it’s good to balance helping people with also taking care of yourself. I definitely need to do better.
I was really into the holidays when I was younger. Christmas meant carols,driving around to look at lights, and presents. It’s a time to be appreciative of what you have and remember that it can always be worse. I ran across an article this week that reminded me of my days working in hospice. You can read it here. Like the author, I have also had conversations with people who are terminally ill. Family has always been the number one topic. People don’t care about their houses or cars. They want to know that their families will be ok after they’re gone. It’s so important to appreciate the people around you who have made a positive contribution to your life. But also equally important to reach out to those who struggle during the season. While it’s a happy time for some, it’s also a living hell for others. Life can be unpredictable and messy but also beautiful. Happy Holidays
Mentally Strong People
I ran into this article and found the title eye catching. You can read the article here. The term “mentally strong people” isn’t something that I’ve heard commonly used in any circles. The article had some great points and I liked number two the best, “They don’t give away their power.” Power is something that a lot of people have but never realize it or use it. Thus, they give their power away without knowing it. There’s books you can read about it (i.e. 48 Laws of Power). One way that I’ve seen people give up their power is by losing their cool in a situation that they don’t like. Stressful situations are never enjoyable but they get worse when people totally flip out over something that they can’t change in the moment. It’s at that point that you’ve lost control and it’s in those situations that people sometimes have to intervene and make choices for you. Coming from a background in mental health, that choice often meant putting someone in the hospital involuntarily. Needless to say, the article has some great points and I think that they all are true. But by the same token, it’s ok to not be mentally strong all the time and to seek assistance when you need it. Ignoring something doesn’t mean it goes away. Even if you are “mentally strong.”
Caring for you
One thing that has been nice about relocating across the country and starting something new is that I’ve had the chance to do more work in direct practice. A lot of this year was spent being a desk in my cubicle and while my work had an impact on a lot of people, I wasn’t working directly with clients. One thing that I’ve had a chance to see up close is the fragility of life and how quickly things can change–especially working in a hospital. Instead of being in the background I’m on the front lines answering questions, de-escalating situations, talking to concerned family members, and a list of other things that don’t full under the “medical” category. Each day is unpredictable and there are multiple interruptions and interventions that have to be made in addition to all the daily duties. There are multiple impromptu therapy sessions where I process varying emotions with clients that almost always consist of frustration, anger, and helplessness in some regard. There are constant adjustments to make and people to call or talk to in order to coordinate resources. But it’s made me more grateful for the things that are typically taken for granted, like the use of my limbs or the ability to move around without an assistive device. All that being said, carrying the emotional weight of people who are going through major life changes and have to adjust to a new way of living along with their families can be draining (to say the least). It’s definitely made me become more aware of the need for all social workers (including myself) to do something for self-care. I’ve had to pull some things out of my own toolbox to ensure that I’m able to be emotionally present for my clients. In a profession where burnout happens frequently, it’s imperative to take care of yourself so that you can competently and compassionately take care of others. You owe it to you.
Reflections from this week
- Life is hard. It’s messy and doesn’t have any promises or absolutes. But it’s easier to go through those stressors having money. Just like it sucks to be sad but its more comfortable to cry in a Bentley than on your bike.
- Advance planning is important. It’s hard to make crucial decisions when you’re still reeling from emotions and you have to think clearly. It’s better to get it out the way and not worry about it than to scramble last minute.
- It’s important to take some initiative and find out what resources are around you. After all, it’s better to know someone and not need them than to need someone and not know them.
- Questions are good. Ask them.
- Keep an open mind. Just because things have been done a certain way for a while doesn’t mean that they can’t be improved or become more efficient.
As I’ve said throughout the years of doing this blog, I’m a huge fan of consistency balanced with being spontaneous. I truly believe that variety is the spice of life but I also can appreciate the perceived security that is associated with having a daily routine. Needless to say, a while ago I decided that it was time for a change. Don’t get me wrong, I had a beautiful 3rd floor cubicle with a lovely view of the parking lot but it wasn’t really what I wanted to be doing. So I found a job that allowed me to travel a bit and put my things into storage and moved across the country from Georgia to California. While it was a huge move, it was definitely very needed. Having a decent quality of life is important to me and I still feel some kind of way about the fact that I spend almost a year in a cubicle, fighting traffic an hour each way in order to go to work. But the feeling I had when I walked into work and submitted my resignation can’t be rivaled. It was truly amazing and I felt like I was floating on air as I drove past the metal gates of the office building for the last time. Needless to say, I don’t know exactly what I’ll do next but I sorta like that feeling. At least for now.
A grey reality
I probably should preface this post by saying that it could be a trigger for people. However, it is something that has been on my mind since seeing the video and reading an article about a topic that has been under a lot of debate for years. You can read it here. First off I do want to say that I’m not a huge fan of abortion. When I was younger I was strongly pro-life due to my extremely conservative background and (I admit) a certain naiveté. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that the issue isn’t as black and white as many would like it to be. The story of this doctor in my hometown of Huntsville, Alabama struck a chord with me. The fact that every day she goes to work with protesters lining the entrance of her practice infuriates me. No one (especially in a medical position) should have to fight in order to do their job and provide a service to the patients that is requested. One thing that struck me is that the doctor herself was a single mother with two kids before she even graduated from high school. She overcame so much in order to get where she is today. The fact of the matter is that people spend so much time an energy protesting something that really doesn’t pertain to them. They are not offering to deliver the baby, clothe the baby, financially support the baby, or even contribute in a meaningful way to the life of the baby. The decision to terminate a pregnancy is not easy. I think that vast majority of women agonize over it before deciding. The reality of it is that that there are some people who are just not fit to be parents. They aren’t mentally, financially, or emotionally ready to bring a child into the world and raise it in a loving and stable environment. Adoption is an alternative but let’s face it, every child isn’t adopted and growing up in a slew of foster homes isn’t ideal. I was listening to the radio last week and a lady was telling the story of how she terminated her first pregnancy because she was going to donate a kidney to her boyfriend and she chose his life over the life of her baby as he was in acute kidney failure and wasn’t expected to live much longer without a transplant. My heart went out to her as she had to make a tough call and I don’t know what I would do if I were in a similar situation. My point is that I think that abortion is a necessary evil in the world we live in. Women deserve access to those services and providers that are licensed and able to perform the procedure safely without being harassed and demonized for their choices. I’ve worked with women who have had abortions and those that wish they had. It’s a choice that isn’t made easily. As I said before, I’m not a fan of it and I think it’s unfortunate but that’s the way it has to be.
Losing Isaiah thoughts
A few days ago I took some time to watch the movie Losing Isaiah. There was a certain sense of urgency as Netflix was about to take it off in order to make room for more movies. I first saw the movie at my grandparents house in Michigan. I remember renting it with my very own library card when I was 9 or 10 and watching it in the living room sprawled out on the very comfortable carpet. I remember being happy in the end that the baby was returned to his biological mother. However, this time I watched the movie with a different perspective. One that’s been informed by several years of being a social worker and working with families and kids. The movie brings up some interesting questions that are still relevant today. A mother abandons her baby in a trash can. The baby is born addicted to drugs because she used substance while pregnant. A kind social worker at the hospital he is transported to adopts him. She and her family raise him as her own. Meanwhile, the baby’s mother gets her life together after finally becoming sober and decides that she wants him back because he’s her child and she never received notice that her parental rights were being terminated. So there’s a lengthy court battle where bio-mother’s lawyer insists that black babies need to be with their black mothers. However, there is a marked difference between the income of biological mother versus that of the family that has adopted the child. The life that he lives with his adopted family is vastly different than the one that his bio-mother can finance. The movie ends with full custody being given to the bio-mother who soon realizes that she needs additional support so she reaches a hesitant agreement with her son’s adoptive mother. There are certain situations where I don’t think people should be allowed to have a do over. I don’t think that any child should be denied access to their family of origin but primary custody should have remained with the adoptive parents until the child was old enough to make a decision. I’ve met a good amount of parents who have adopted kids and then decided that they were too hard as a result decided to relinquish custody back to the state. I’ve worked with parents who have voluntarily given up custody of their children because they felt powerless and felt that their lives or the lives of the other children in the home were at risk. It’s a hard decision to make. My whole point is that kids shouldn’t be taken out of a loving, stable, and safe environment because their bio-parent decides that it’s for the best. There were other options that would have allowed Isaiah to stay where he was happy. Yes, children can be resilient and they can recover but there’s no need to inflict that trauma on a child and mess up his primary attachment so that he can be with a black parent. No reason. It’s cruel and unnecessary.
It’s once again Monday morning and I have to admit I wish it were Friday. I have a friend social media who calls Monday the root of all evil and I have to agree at times. It’s an abrupt ending to rest and relaxation and the beginning of another five days of stress. While I’ve had this schedule for the past few months it hasn’t gotten easier. However my tolerance has increased so I’m able to get more done when I get home instead of passing out on my couch. There’s an increased sense of dread when Sunday evening comes around because I know that Monday looming on the horizon. This morning I didn’t want to get up but I pushed through and got my 5am workout in. I’ve never been much of a morning person and while I’m forced to be at this point, it’s still not my thing. The Monday feeling is an indication that I need to reevaluate my life and keep my options open. Of course I’m more than ready to retire at this point but that’s not necessarily the most realistic idea. It would be different if the days I worked were equal to the days I got off. Maybe I’m in a “grass is greener” cycle because that was my last job. However the caveat was that it also included 12 hour shifts and a rotating schedule. But at least the countdown to the weekend begins again today.