"You don't have to think about doing the right thing. If you're for the right thing, then you do it without thinking."
~ Maya Angelou

December 28, 2012

Stay With It!

Alright, the last post of 2012 it is. What a great year it has been, as I have been afforded opportunity, growth, and the learning that only presents itself when one is patient, persistent, and resilient.  Like many of you I am sure, the last week has been spent with family and friends, embracing the moment while reflecting on the past, looking forward to the future, and hopefully staying with it all.  Often, at the closing of one year we find ourselves in that place that has one self-evaluating, going through that thought process that hopes, aspires, and...  It may be happening on a conscious level or not, but one thing remains to be true, it is there.  So, when I say stay with it, I am defining the process that allows you to accept where you are at while continuing to work towards progress.  If this means working towards future goals and outcomes that is it, but it also can apply if you are avoiding and resisting what has yet to come.  Therefore, wherever you find yourself, you have a choice, one that can lead to change if you...

A common theme in many of my writings is pointing out what is not too difficult to see if you are available to it.  Often though, when we can't see it we tend to convince ourselves that all is good, no need to be concerned.  This process can be demonstrated by what one knows (think in terms of needed change) and how different this is than what one understands.  I often break it down like this, when you "know" something you most often are avoiding and resisting what is affecting your life in a unhealthy and negative manner.  When you "understand" you are most likely taking action towards addressing what the problem area is, and it is this process that leads you towards change for the better.  As a helping professional you are trained to help someone in need help themselves out of the difficulties and challenges that present themselves.  Being immersed into this type of work, and the process of (which includes much), can be overwhelming, consuming, and...  Thus, at the end of the day we can easily find ourselves with no more to give.  When this happens usually we are the ones who suffer the most and this is what impacts our personal and professional self.  At the end of the year, a time when we see a break from work, often we are so ready to have some time off that we crash out and don't always take care of our needs in a manner that helps us help ourselves.  What I aspire to demonstrate is that through support, awareness, and the required effort to work on your own needs you can stay with it, in and out of your role as a helping professional.  Remember, it is OK to be vulnerable, to accept where you are at, and get the necessary help and support!

So, as I close down the year I look forward to adding to my foundation at Can You Hear Me?  One that will continue to empower and support, teach and reach, while helping you help yourself.  Changing for the better (whatever this means for you) is a journey, one that demands a certain level of attention, determination, and effort that will not settle for anything less than your whole self!  I hope these words and thoughts resonate with you, especially if you find yourself at the crossroads.  There are many in the profession who work and live with internal suffering, often wondering when, how, and where they will fall. I hope that I have given you some pause in order to take the necessary steps, because if you are able to see it, then the support, guidance, and help is exactly where it needs to be, the next move is yours.  May all those that can hear me have a safe and healthy one, while continuing to walk with your head up and heart open.  I look forward to what awaits in 2013! 

 About Author

Daniel Jacob, MSW  Email
Founder oCan You Hear Me? External Field Instructor at University of Southern California School of Social Work MSW@USC. Daniel has a Masters in Social Work (Families and Children Practice/School Social Work). He is currently nearing the completion of the LCSW testing process.  More about the man behind the mission ⇢

December 21, 2012

Capability vs Ability

*This is a post I put out last year.  I was in a different place and space at the time of this writing indeed.  However, the message and opportunity to empower, support and instruct have not changed.  As we approach the end of another year, an opportunity for many to reflect and contemplate, suppress and avoid, and once again be given a choice, may these words help you help yourself.  Head up and heart open!

 Change...  It sounds so simple, people use it often on a daily basis as a way to correct, improve outcomes, gain knowledge, etc.  However, I believe the greatest reward associated with positive change, is the ability to move forward.  We are all capable of having positive change in our lives, but often we are not able in making it happen.  Reflect on that statement for a moment.  Having  (personally and professionally ) had several opportunities to help others change ( for the better) I use this example in the most clear and straightforward manner that I can.  If you are in a state where your path in life is just a series of roadblocks with no sight of an opening, you often feel stuck, hopeless and helpless.  At this point you may not see change for the better as a way out because you are so frustrated, angry, tired, and all the other feelings associated with a life filled with roadblocks.  Your too physically and mentally drained to even think about taking action, and often many  convince themselves that it is easier to keep on suppressing.

This is where the work part comes into play.  You yourself have the answers, you just can't see them, and instead of moving towards a plan of positive change, you settle for being stuck.  This makes sense as I have mentioned prior it is easier to settle for being stuck.  It is hard, very hard to do the necessary work to get unstuck and move through and forward.  So, when I say that we are all capable of change for the better we are.  We are just not always able.  This is the underlying message in it all.  Capability vs Ability.  If you just look at those two words and there meaning, you hopefully can see the solution to getting through those roadblocks.  You can see that there is a way to change for the better. Furthermore, you have to really understand and remember that you must be patient with the process, you must!  While changing for the better is the hardest work that you will ever face, it does not happen quickly and often in the time frame that most desire. This is why we often have setbacks because we become frustrated or nonbelievers to the process when we don't see it happening as quick as we would like.  Well, ask yourself what option is better?  To have a life filled with negative outcomes and opportunities fueled by the actions and behavior that are creating such?  Or have a life (still with challenges and roadblocks, life does not provide a challenge/stress free existence) filled with positive outcomes and opportunities influenced by your ability to trust the process, be patient with it, and implement the appropriate skills/tools needed in order to change for the better?

My hope is that this example can provide you with an understanding that life is a series of learning opportunities that allow YOU to determine the quality of your life.  It is up to you and the choices you make that will move you forward, or keep you back.  I hope these words can provide that opening so that you will be able to start the process of changing for the better, with the understanding that the person writing this is the same person who had to learn this lesson, and will continue to.  Until we meet again may you be well to your day, and the day shall be well to you.

 About Author

Daniel Jacob, MSW  Email
Founder oCan You Hear Me? External Field Instructor at University of Southern California School of Social Work MSW@USC. Daniel has a Masters in Social Work (Families and Children Practice/School Social Work). He is currently nearing the completion of the LCSW testing process.  More about the man behind the mission ⇢

December 15, 2012

Give and Receive!

When you give you receive.  How do I know this?  I am fortunate to be witness to it, with the availability and awareness to recognize the opportunity I am presented with!  If you can see it then the openings will continue to show themselves.  I'm writing today from the mountains (the picture to the right is the visual) and couldn't ask for a better place and space to share from.  Today my reflection and words are influenced from having the recent opportunity to give and receive with aspiring social workers to be.  I'm wrapping up with my year serving and supporting MSW students with their field education practicum, so the reflection and evaluation process is in full effect.  This process, one that has involved guiding, teaching, empowering, and supporting has truly provided me with opportunity!  You see, when you teach, there is a dual process going on, as both the teacher and student are learning.  As it has been stated "when one teaches two learn"  and this is something that I have come to embrace!

I think back from time to time about the days when I was so far removed from the place that I find myself in today.  My journey as they say has taken me from barely graduating high school, to working as a warehouse worker, using and abusing, just getting by with no plausible direction to achieve. I transitioned from this world into the field of construction where I learned so many difficult but necessary lessons. This is where I learned about work ethic, responsibility, and the ability to gain strength from being educated the hard way within a culture and population of tough cats.  Then something wonderful happened along the way, I found that true learning and living come from the experience and the opportunity to fall, rise, and work towards progress through the most difficult and challenging circumstances!  It was at this stage in my life that it all slowed down for me.  It was at this point in time that I made a decision to change my life for the better and so... I began to educate myself while being immersed into the world of work to survive and pay the bills, and go to school in my spare time if you get what I am saying?  When I think about the past several months and the work I have been a part of, it empowers me in many wonderful ways.  I am able to bring the influences in my life that have shaped and guided me through effort, perseverance, patience, and resilience, while I give and receive in the process.  I am able to tap into the challenges and difficulties of my students and with out saying much, I convey to them that I understand, "I get it" while validating that "I hear you."

Yes indeed the ride has been amazing because of much... I own my story, and because I am able to better help myself, in turn I am able to help others in a positive, effective, and sustainable manner!  Life is really how you see it, use it, and learn from it.  If you take your story and all that goes into the process that shapes and influences you, and you are able to use it to change your life for the better, then the opportunities that present themselves will be of use.  If you do the opposite and approach the situation with the idea that you are not receiving what you want or need, then you are working against your most difficult of opponents, YOURSELF!   May these words find you in that place and space that has you well.  As you move closer to the holidays, may you continue to give and receive, because when you do I know you will see that all of the wonderful gifts that life affords are available. Head up and heart open!

December 7, 2012

Practice What You...

You ever have one of those moments when you are in the midst of it all, and then you stop and...  Life is so much about just that, the ability to pause, and catch yourself immersed into that cycle of challenge that often takes on a force and direction of its own.  The next step, the most important of all, is up to you.  This week I had one of these moments that allowed me to pause, breathe, and take another opportunity to practice what I know to be the only way.  My week has been a busy one, several projects going on at the same time, all of which are dependent on the collaboration and interaction with others. This in itself was the source of my challenge, waiting on others in order to move forward with something that I was prepared for, ready for, and waiting for!  I put myself in a state that had me sorting through, figuring out, and contemplating what I had no control over; another persons timing, work ethic, inability to effectively follow through and communicate.  All of these factors, and perhaps others that I do not need to further acknowledge had me in that vulnerable place, with my hope and being unable to complete my duties, and thus meet my own expectation. 

"All the advice in the world will never help you until 
you help yourself.” 
~ Fred Van Amburgh
If you've been a follower of mine for some time now then you may of have heard me discuss the idea of our own "expectation" and how this can ultimately lead to further challenge and difficulty if you are unable to meet it.  You see, when you recognize that it is your "expectation" and it doesn't always act accordingly, realistically, practically, and any other word that ends in "ly" that may fit this example, you are able to understand.  The source of my challenge and subsequent stress was indeed not being able to meet my expectation, and the experience of frustration and disappointment that presented themselves as a result.  So, I had to implement what I am able to practice because I have acquired the necessary tools and skills to do so.  I had to acknowledge, recognize, and appreciate where I was at!  I had to practice what I speak to, and what I empower and support others to do in similar circumstances.  I was now the student, and my lesson and further learning was calling my name.  I had to stop, breathe, and remember that everything will work itself out, no matter how it plays out I am still here, I am still giving and receiving, and I am still able to accomplish my goals at hand.  Therefore, it is unnecessary to create more stress for myself and my overall well-being needs, and it is time to let this one go! 
“No matter what happens, it is within my power to 
turn it to my advantage.” 
~ Epictetus 

I cannot be in the position to help others change for the better, if I myself do not practice what I know to be true.  I am here to say and share that the learning and opportunity to add further to our awareness is present at all times, as long as you are able to see it.  I have embraced the path that I am on, helping others change for the better, but I am nowhere to be found in the process of, if I can't help myself.  So, as you reflect and digest my words for the week, may this find you in that place and space that can help you help yourself, while continuing to move forward.  Thank you for affording me the opportunity to be heard.  There have been many rewards involved in my efforts to help others, and one of them is the ability and opportunity I have been given to help myself. I aspire to do many great things within this field, and I will always complement that with the self work that I continually put into action, because without me at my best, I have no chance to reach those in need!  May the weekend be well to you, and you be well to your time to breatheUntil we meet again...

 "There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” 
~ Denis Waitley

November 30, 2012

Learning New Things!

I am so pleased to be back after taking a little break for the Thanksgiving holiday.  I am hoping that your holiday time treated you well, allowing for some time to breathe, reflect, and connect with those you hold close to your heart.  As we approach the end of another year, it presents us with that opportunity to look back, acknowledge what we have gained, what we choose to build upon, and what may come next.  As with all of my writings I use my own experience, as well as the learning that I receive through the eyes of others.  This week I find my inspiration coming from two sources.  One is from a book I read over the recent break, and another came to me yesterday from a fellow helping professional.  Both sources shared something in common, although the experiences are different, they both demonstrated the wonderful changes that come with learning new things...

One of the driving influences that I bring into my model of service is the need for self work.  When you are able to work towards progress, improving and expanding your experiences, awareness, and so much more, this leads towards valuable growth and development that not only impacts your personal self, but your professional practice and your ability to facilitate change for those in need. Therefore, it is not solely about learning new things, but how you apply what you have learned to change parts of your self in positive ways. I had no knowledge of the book How Starbucks Changed My Life until I came across it in the book store.  After reading the cover I knew I would learn some things.  It wasn't necessarily a desire to learn about the world of Starbucks (although I now have a better understanding/appreciation of their model, opportunities for their partners, and attention to service) but a story about loss, prejudices, respect, change, race, age divisions, and friendship that I would be exposed to within these pages.  As a social worker and participant observer it was exactly the kind of story that empowers and inspires me through the example of the life change that presents itself through challenge. It was the learning that comes with being witness to overcoming in a manner that impacts the quality of one's life circumstances.  It was another opportunity to add to my "work in progress" while reinforcing the idea that change comes when we do the work, while accepting and not resisting!

The other source of inspiration came from a comment that I received from someone that I have connected with through my Can You Hear Me? efforts. It was in response to our Learning Through Your Eyes Series and was truly rewarding as it demonstrated what I know to be possible when you are available to receive and embrace the change that comes with learning new things.  It was about the learning of oneself and how this translates into effectively helping others change for the better.  It was about stepping out of your comfort zone and working with a client that you never thought you could, but now you realize the gifts that you received as a result of this work.  It was about recognizing and acknowledging the difference that is made by just showing up.  These comments resonated with me because these outcomes are the true rewards of our practice, without judgement or vulnerability they showcase exactly why one chooses to be in this profession, and the benefits of such.  I am hoping that these comments will lead to more sharing and an opportunity for others to see an opening that will touch their own personal self, and professional practice.  You can see the entire comment on our facebook page.

As you move into the end of your week, may the words that I have shared allow you to feel heard, while providing you with further opportunities to work towards progress.  Be the change, learn new things, and you will receive wonderful benefits in return.  Head up and heart open, until next time...

November 16, 2012

Transitioning Into Opportunity

Op-por-tu-ni-ty- a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal, a good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success.  This is the definition that comes straight out of the dictionary.  However, the meaning can have different references, understanding, and attachments depending on how we see it.  This is exactly what has been in my thoughts as I strive to empower, support, and instruct.  It has come up in recent discussion as I am currently working with several MSW students who are at the end of their program requirements, set to transition into opportunity.  What will this transition look like?  What opportunities will present themselves?  How can I cope with the uncertain and unknown?  Will I be ready?  These are just some of the questions that come up as one prepares to transition into opportunity.  A process that can provide challenge, learning, and much needed growth!

It is important to recognize that there are two different processes going on here.  One would be transition (the idea of change) and the other would be the opportunity that will present itself.  You have to be able to respect the change, and the various forces that come with it, while being open to the idea of the possibilities and learning that can present themselves, this is opportunity.  The difficult part here is that change and the uncertain/unknown are often factors that produce fear, anxiety, and other stressors that can (and do) impact us in a challenging manner.  Therefore, what I speak to, and what I believe is often lost when we are immersed into the idea of transition (change) are the opportunities that we don't plan for or expect.  How many times have you heard "I never thought this would happen, but I am so grateful/happy/excited/ that it did."  What this means is that the expectation that you felt was necessary, had to be in place, and hoped for was not the one that presented itself.  What this means is that what you wished for, what you thought you needed to have, and what may have been causing some undue pressure didn't even make it off the ground.  You see, no matter what the opportunity is, the unknown or predicted, they are both opportunities.  I point this out to all of my students, and to any and all that can hear me, embrace the change, welcome the opportunity, whatever that may be, and use it in a manner that will empower you, support you, and move you forward to that place that will allow you to thrive!  

As I have come to learn, through many of life' lessons, there are opportunities that may not always equate to success or achievement (in the traditional sense) but these are the opportunities that will provide you with many rewards. These are the opportunities that will enhance your development, empower you, and give you that wisdom that allows you to walk through life with your head up and heart open.  There is much to experience when you transition into opportunity, as long as you can see it.  I encourage you to be available and present when you are in this place and space, because when you are, you will more than likely be given opportunities that will change the quality of your life long term. The short term may seem like the most important at the time, my hope is it that you will be able to recognize and appreciate the difference, while you learn and grow in the process.

Until we meet again, be well to yourself as you move into the upcoming holiday.  May you be mindful of and thankful for all the wonderful gifts that life affords, the ones that don't cost anything other than your time and availability...

November 9, 2012

Change Will Not Come...

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." 
~Barack Obama

I have returned, and with that I hope these words find you well.  Today, I am touched like many with the energy that comes with another opportunity.  What exactly is that?  Another four years to see where we can possibly go.  I do not use this forum as a political platform, not my thing, and so I am mindful and aware of this, my intention here is to enlighten, empower, support, and help you help yourself.  It just happens that my inspiration this week is reflective to what we all were exposed to this past week, "change."  No matter how you see it, what the past few have looked like, or what the future ahead will be, we are presented with another opportunity.  This is an important part of the process of "change" as often we can overthink what we don't have, not what we do, and all that goes into being upset and disappointed because of... So, I present to you what most claim to know, but can't always understand.  The idea that we must recognize the progress that has been made, the steps taken to decrease and eliminate some barriers and obstacles, and the opportunity to move forward.  Now, for some these are just words, with no plausible outcome that equates to success or benefit.  Well, what I will say about that is that if you measure success or benefit as a positive gain based on a few parts of the sum, but not the whole, you would see exactly what you want to!

We live and breathe in a country that provides us with more opportunity to better our selves than most around the globe. There is no mystery as to "why" many choose to come here, start over, and work towards a better day.  We also live within a culture (at times) that spends more time than needed focusing on what can not change, versus what we can.  With that being said I am hopeful because I know what "change" represents, I understand what it takes to be part of the process, the solution, not the...  Does this mean that there will be no challenge, disruption, setbacks, and all that comes with "change?"  No, it does not.  What it means is there is an opportunity to move forward (i.e. progress), as long as you can see it that way.  Am I optimistic and hopeful? Yes, I am but I am also very in tune with what is real, predictable, and all that goes into being honest and open to "change."  Stay with me, the idea here is not that everything that is perceived as negative and impacting us in a detrimental manner will somehow disappear.  No, the idea is that it will become more manageable, we will find ways for things to work with us (solution focused), not against us, and we will create the systems of support to help when needed.  Whether you agree with this one (think candidate) or that one, the same outcome is spoken about when it comes to our future, "change."  How that will translate to what the outcome(s) will look like is going to be different, this we know, and often this is what really speaks to their (candidate) audience and the ideologies, norms, values, and all one may subscribe to, how will this change affect and effect my (individual & family) story.

The example I have shared, based on the recent transition for another four more, is just that.  However, there are several opportunities within these words that can provide you with an opening when you are presented with "change."  Embrace what you can control, and what you can not, ask yourself "how can I learn from this experience in a manner that will add to my bucket, not?"  It's your choice as always, but being hopeful and resilient can and often do provide one with positive opportunities.  If this sounds familiar, you just may have heard these words somewhere over the last several months, perhaps... You be well out there, keep your head up and heart open as you take care of you own needs, while impacting those in need.  When you give you receive!

November 2, 2012

Do You See What I Do?

Good day to all those that can hear me!  Today, my words are inspired from a place of honesty, integrity, and the passion that fuels Can You Hear Me?  When I created CYHM? it was born out of having that clarity, insight, and availability that I needed in order to see my opportunity. It was influenced by many experiences that I had traveled through professionally, personally, academically, and of course the lessons that life always provides. Therefore, when I envisioned my mission, purpose, and overall vision, it made complete sense to me.  However, there is this process that takes place when you put your creation out there, for all to see, dissect, interpret (or misinterpret), and all that one could possibly overthink.  I have done my best to not go to that place of uncertainty or the unknown, you know, thinking about what I can not control.  I have learned much along the way, and that in itself has added great learning, growth, and development for me. I can definitely say that I have been all in, trusting the process.  So, today I thought it would be a great opportunity to share my thoughts, vision, and mission as it pertains to what I see for Can You Hear Me?

"Our mission is to empower, support, and instruct those who strive to help others change for the better, while enhancing our client's delivery of services in a positive, effective, and sustainable manner."  As you might of guessed these bold words are the CYHM? mission statementLet me now take an opportunity here to break this statement down:

What is it that we are striving to do?  Empower, Support, and Instruct.  Who are we targeting? Helping Professionals.  Who exactly are they? The professionals that strive to help those in need/at-risk (whether they identify with this or not) change for the better.   Here are some examples: Counselors, Teachers, Social Workers, Probation Officers, Case Managers, Medical Professionals, Psychologists, MSW/MA/MFT Students, Parole Officers, Interventionists, and to those that I did not mention, no need to feel slighted, I hear you!  Here is the Helping Professionals Model for further clarification.  What outcomes do we see with our services to this population of professionals?  Enhancing their services in a Positive, Effective, and Sustainable manner.  My goal is to support those in the field!  I want to be part of the solution (and their support system)! I want my clients to feel validated and heard.  I want to effectively instruct and guide, evaluate and assess, and support their needs in a manner that will help them help themselves.  With that being said, when you come for service, you will be in need, and most likely in a vulnerable place.  Let it be known that this is where we will start, and when I assist and support those in need, the process begins and the opening towards change will be set in motion.  This is a process that I get, primarily because I have gone through it myself...

Do You See What I Do? 
In order to even begin to trust the process of changing for the better, I had to let go of my pride, resistance, and avoidance of what I truly knew was pulling me further and farther from my life's work!  What does that mean?  When you are in the profession of helping others change for the better, it is very difficult to recognize, act upon, and want to address some of those issues that are negatively impacting your well-being and profession...     

Listen up,  I am not in the business of giving false promises, but one thing I do know for sure is that when you address what needs attention and you want to start the process, believe you can change for the better, and commit to the necessary work, the quality of your life (personal and professional) will greatly change!  It is hard enough doing the work that we as helping professionals provide, this we know.  I was tired of seeing the stressed out, burnt out, and checked out professionals providing service right next to me with no direction towards positive change.  I was tired of being a part of a professional circle that stopped working on their craft, or when they were mandated to, often presented with negativity and complaints.  I was tired of being witness to the professional that did not practice what they spoke to.  I was tired of being a part of a population that didn't quite no where to turn to for support, guidance and instruction.  I was tired of the resistance and avoidance that was being reinforced in a profession that should be all about changing for the better, in and out of the job site. This culture, energy, and exposure to these experiences were killing my spirit, and in turn it was killing me, but within this challenge I was given an opportunity, one that I am taking full advantage of with passion and drive!

Thank you for your time and availability, I appreciate it to the core.  I hope all those that can hear me have a better sense of what motivates, inspires, and empowers all that I put into Can You Hear Me?  Please be mindful that what I shared above is not a generalization of all those who strive to provide, there are many within the profession who are all about doing the right thing, and I recognize this and do not discount or dismiss their efforts and contribution to the field.  However, there is definitely a population out there that is well known, but often not addressed or supported. I'm going to speak to this, in a respectful and supportive manner.  As you move into your weekend may you be well to yourself, embrace what is important, and what is not, well you know what to do!

October 26, 2012

What's The Expectation Here?

As I am often exposed to, I find myself immersed into learning opportunities, as long as I can see them.  This week has provided just that through the challenges that I created.  It was one of those weeks that I just couldn't seem to find the level of motivation, inspiration, or energy that is needed in order to give to myself, and definitely needed in order to see my opportunities to give to others.  It happens, and without overthinking what I was feeling, I was still able to take care of my needs, while not resisting what I was experiencing.  I accepted where I was at, while embracing that this is just another lesson amongst many more to come.  I recognized that I must continue to practice what I speak to.  I trusted the process while embracing the necessary steps; want, belief, and commitment.  I approached these moments I was experiencing in a manner that allowed me to see an opening, versus a closing.  By doing this I was able to ask myself, what's the expectation here? Yeah, so?  Well, often we don't ask ourselves the needed questions that we may avoid or resist because it protects us.  It puts it (whatever that may be) away in that place that we may feel has our back, but quite honestly only makes us more vulnerable...

So, as I thought about what I wanted to share today I was influenced by an experience that came my way earlier today.  I took part in a collaborative meeting with a student (I am overseeing) and a colleague of mine/field faculty member.  My role in this meeting was not only as a facilitator of learning, but an extension of support, guidance, and availability.  The meeting was a great opportunity to once again model a positive example that we can give as helping professionals. The opportunity to provide feedback, direction, and validation to this student was not only necessary, but a powerful tool that can instruct, empower, and move one forward.  What happens as a result can provide awareness, growth, and areas of development that can truly impact future opportunities for this student.  My participation in this meeting is something I value, respect, and am truly invested in.  When one teaches, two learn, and as I struggled earlier in the week with something that I would not let get the best of me, I gained some further perspective...

You see, often we walk into our daily activities and responsibilities with an expectation.  "If we don't accomplish this then..."  If we don't hear back from X then..."  "If I don't get that job then..." and many, many more actions that can come into our space.  This can be a challenging process that often finds us punishing ourselves with what really we can not control.  Often we can be very hard on ourselves, judgmental in a manner that creates only more suffering.  So, I ask you, what is the expectation here?  What is it that you are striving to achieve? What's going to validate it for you?  I want you to think about all of this as it pertains to your experience(s), and use my example as an opportunity to find that opening that works for you. When you are able to stop, reflect, and see where you are at, it is much easier to recognize what you can control, and what you can not... 

My participation in this meeting and what I was able to give and receive (in the process) allowed me to put my week into perspective.  It allowed me to see that I am doing exactly what I should be doing.  It allowed me to recognize and appreciate that the expectation that I created for myself, the one that had me questioning what I could not control is exactly just that, my own.  Another opportunity to add to my work in progress, while continuing to trust the process.  It's all good when you are, everything else will work itself out as it should.  If it doesn't there is no need to worry or collapse, there is still an opportunity, as long as you can see it!  Be well to yourself as you move into your weekend.  If I have opened a door for you, then I have accomplished what I set out to do, the next step is all yours...

October 19, 2012

Who Am I...

Good day to all those that can hear me... I hope that the week you have been moving through has treated you well.  Providing you opportunities to learn, be challenged, grow, and overcome what may have initially appeared impossible to do so.  Today, I am inspired to write from that place that has me in thought, reflection, and the ability to visualize what may not be present, but I can see it becoming.  As I have ventured into this arena of expression and sharing I have been exposed to a tremendous amount of information, ideas, thoughts, education, and any and all that one can learn from others who are given the choice to put it out there.  With that being said I have taken note that some allow the reader an understanding of who the "person" behind the words is.  While others just give the facts, data, and knowledge at hand, with the idea that it will help, support, and teach, but for whatever reason (that is entirely theirs) the "person" is not presented in the writing.  This is where my thought went to when I thought about my opportunity here, who am I...  Let me point out that there is no ? attached to this statement.  The reason, it is not a question.  I know who I am quite clearly, in fact, so well that at times it is scary.

I am well.  I am strong.  I am able and willing.  I am focused and determined.  I am passionate and empathic.  I am sensitive and aware.  I am informed and engaged.  I am patient and honest.  I am selfless and giving.  I am all about doing the right thing.  These representations are just some of who I am, what I strive to be, and what keeps me trusting the process.  These qualities are what I put into my words and sharing, with only one goal:  to empower both the storyteller and reader.  So far, I am receiving exactly what I put out there, without overthinking the opportunity that I have given myself.  When I say "give" I know that I am moving in the right direction, once again embracing the idea that "when one teaches two learn."  I am without a doubt learning every day, and with this outcome I can clearly see how my effort, persistence, and resilience have indeed helped me move forward! 

As always I thank you for your availability and time.  I hope that I have allowed you to pause, reflect, and process where you are, where you want to go, and who you want to be. We don't often ask ourselves the questions that can help us help ourselves.  With that, there is always an opportunity to do something different or unfamiliar, as often the unexpected arrives when we just trust the process, don't overthink, just act.  Live it, love it, and work on it, everything else will move as you do!!!

  Who am I... 

 "When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us."
~ Alexander Graham Bell

October 10, 2012

Self-Care, What Exactly Is That?

by Daniel Jacob, MSW: Founder of Can You Hear Me?

It doesn't take much effort to get to the information source these days.  It's just a matter of logging on and booting up and you can find out anything about anything.  Does it mean it is the truth, fact, or the kind of information that you would welcome?  Not necessarily, but it does give some direction, perspective, and our own interpretation as we see it.  As I reflected on the idea of "Self-Care" and what exactly that means, there was a need to share.  There are plenty of experts out there as it pertains to self-care and well-being.  However, the one who truly needs to be the master of this practice is yourself!  You can read, study, and learn everything you need to about self-care, but if you are not able, willing, or ready to practice it, then guess what?  YOU WON'T!  So I ask you, what exactly is Self-Care?

I hope that I now have you thinking, in a manner that has you open and available to receive.  You see, I really have something to share on this particular subject matter.  Like many out there I thought that I had this self-care thing under control.  I mean, I was healthier than most, maintained an active lifestyle, had great support systems, and guess what?  I was far from healthy, and in fact what I should of been focusing on and attending to, I was not.  Therefore, it was only a matter of time when the vehicle known as "Me" was going to break down.  Often in life our greatest learning comes directly as a result of being confronted with challenge.  When challenge hits us we are presented with some choices.  We can either embrace it and take steps toward changing for the better, or we can resist, avoid, and keep on doing what will only lead to more challenges.  I'm the first choice kind of guy, and because I am, I have been afforded so many wonderful learning, growth, and self-awareness opportunities.  Because I have chosen to fight on when I am hit with suffering, I have allowed myself to move forward...

So, let me now move you forward and toward the meaning behind this post and subject matter.  Self-Care is a practice that is a part of your daily life activities.  What that means is that you do it not only because you know it will keep you well, but because if you don't you will move farther away from the exact thing you are trying to reach.  You practice self-care because you can see the benefits of this in your actions, personal relationships, professional opportunities, physical, mental, and emotional well-being, and so much more that you can achieve and receive.  Self-Care is what you make it, and when you get to that place and space where it is a daily practice, then it is by far the most important job you have!  To be well you have to work at it every day for the rest of your days. If this sounds like too much effort or work for you and you're just not feeling it, guess what?  You are right about one thing, it is the hardest work out there, and it takes a tremendous amount of effort, patience, and resilience to accomplish.  The experts can share the facts, data, and this or that model as it pertains to your wellness.  However, there is only one person who can change their quality of life for the better, and that person has to make a choice.   


Self-Care, What Exactly Is That?  It is what you make it to be.  Life is not a dress rehearsal, you either give yourself the opportunity to change for the better, or not.  Until we meet again you be well to yourself, because when you are, that person you see in the mirror will be the same person you are looking at.  Can You Hear Me?

 About Author

Daniel Jacob, MSW  Email
Founder oCan You Hear Me? External Field Instructor at University of Southern  California School of Social Work MSW@USC. Daniel has a Masters in Social Work (Families and Children Practice/School Social Work). He is currently nearing the completion of the LCSW testing process. 

October 5, 2012

Learning Through The Eyes Of Vikki Brewster, MSW

The Learning Through Your Eyes Series was created because we recognized that the opportunity for helping professionals to share their story can be a powerful tool, one that provides an opening to empower and support both the storyteller and reader.  It teaches us in a manner that allows us to inspire and reach, educate and teach, and tap into that space and place that has intention, purpose, and action.  Our hope for all of those that can here us is that these stories will provide you with an opportunity to help you help yourself, whatever that may be, you always have a choice.  May this find you well as you strive to provide to those in need!

Today's story is told through the eyes of Vikki Brewster, a social worker who shares how she came into the field, the changes and influences that have shaped her practice, the challenges she faces serving and supporting the population she is passionate about, and the causes she now finds herself advocating for.  We thank Vikki for sharing while providing another opportunity to give and receive!

I still have the essay I wrote as part of my application for graduate school 17 years ago.  As I read it now, my ideals have not changed, just the demographic (I love working with seniors).  My original inspiration for going into the 'helping profession' was due to my time spent volunteering at a domestic violence shelter while I attended college part-time.  I worked primarily with the children at the shelter who were exposed to domestic violence.  I entertained them, listened to them, and was involved in group sessions with them.  Some of my happiest moments were making those children laugh.

Several years later I applied to graduate school to obtain my Master's in Social Work.  This was the best decision I made academically.  A social work degree was flexible.  I would have more choices for employment after graduation and I truly believed there would be few obstacles in my path.  The graduate program was amazing, the coursework exciting/enriching and the internships extremely beneficial.  Post graduation, I took the licensure exam and became a Certified Social Worker in the state of New York.  I was employed as a therapist with emotionally disturbed children for almost two years until I realized youth was not my niche.  I took a pay cut and decided to focus on case management with adults diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. This was a great experience, but again I realized not my niche. 

I married, moved to another country, and started over professionally.  As a spouse awaiting my permanent residency status in Canada, I was not allowed to work initially and volunteered with adults with developmental disabilities assisting with obtaining employment, as well as with seniors who where Holocaust Survivors.  The volunteer position turned into a part-time job.  Twelve and a half years later I still work primarily with Holocaust Survivors and enjoy my work!  I am able to do group facilitation, case management, assessments, home visits, provide short-term counseling, and I also edit a newsletter.  As my clients are aging, I see the challenges they face and what is lacking in the current healthcare system.  This has led me to End-of-Life issues, Palliative Care and an interest in healthcare.  I have come to see that there needs to be a shift and focus on allowing seniors to 'age in place' and the services must expand in order to do so.   Expansion obviously requires money from the government, both on a federal and provincial level.  Healthcare needs to shift to a Patient-Centered approach with professionals available to the patient in either a facility or clinic.  There is also a need for case managers to oversee the patients with chronic and complex health issues, while coordinating with the professionals that need to be involved in the patients overall care.

I have realized much with the work that I have been immersed into for many years now.  For one, end-of-life needs to become less taboo and society needs to realize that in the cycle of life-there must be death; to be born, one must die.  I feel that we need to let individuals die with dignity and at home if that is what they choose, while having the necessary professionals and services in place.  As a society we need to lighten up, reduce stress levels and find what makes us happy in life.  Again, a shift is needed and I believe this will happen; with less focus on materials things and more focus on human relationships, quality not quantity.   

I feel it is important that every professional re-evaluate their interests and find their passion, their niche population, their niche demographic.  As professionals we should also advocate within our profession for any needed updates or changes.  For example, many social workers have expressed their frustration with licensure and certification requirements and the fact that it is not national, the license or certificate is not transferable from state to state or province to province.

So, are their obstacles to face? Yes!  Politics involved?  Yes!  Is it all worth it?  Yes!

Vikki Brewster, MSW


 About Can You Hear Me?

Daniel Jacob, MSW  Email
Founder of Can You Hear Me? External Field Instructor at University of Southern California School of Social Work MSW@USC. Daniel has a Masters in Social Work (Families and Children Practice/School Social Work). He is currently nearing the completion of the LCSW testing process.  More about the man behind the mission ⇢