"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

June 27, 2012

Can You See It?

Here we are again, as the keys synch with my thoughts and reflection, my heart breathes easier.  Today's piece is inspired by two separate but similar observations I had earlier.  I'll begin by setting up the stage, so take your seat, tune out the noise and come along with me.  As I sat waiting for an appointment this morning, reading away as I often do I was interrupted by a woman who came busting through the hallway clearly upset from the appointment she had just left.  As I lifted my head to observe, never being so obvious as to cause discomfort or concern, I locked in.  You see, as a social worker with a history working with at-risk populations in at-risk systems and settings you become quite good at observing without others realizing that you are.  In fact, I would say that I really began to acquire this skill during my time in law enforcement (which preceded my social work career) where it is ever so vital to have eyes in the back of your head, while developing that internal "gut" feeling when something is about to go down.  Well, this morning' situation was not that serious, but none the less someone was in pain.  You see this woman clearly was upset at whoever and whatever triggered her anger. How do I know this? If the yelling and belligerent tone didn't give me clue, than perhaps the repetitive punching of the wall as she waited for the elevator to come let me clearly know that she was not well.  It was not hard for me to zero in to her suffering and pain, thinking to myself  "if you are unable to help yourself, then you will not be able to see the help that is available."

As I moved through the day going about my responsibilities and duties I came across another situation that once again showed me another' suffering in it's truest and most available form.  As I was heading through a parking lot to my car I was struck with a very loud conversation between a woman and man.  Actually, I wouldn't call it a conversation as the woman was shouting for all to hear, and the man was taking on the barrage of words and insults with not much of an opportunity to speak.  As this interaction moved closer to me it was apparent that I didn't exist, and what I was observing was not my concern.  However, once again I was witness to someone in pain, their suffering on full display to anyone they came in contact with.  I thought to myself "if you are not well, there is no way that you are available and present to receive."  You see, the whole time this woman was going off, the man (when he could) was trying to help, support, and be.  Now, of course I didn't have the entire story, but the behavior is something that I do know, and what exacerbates this state is something I really know.  It is fair to say that as a social worker you become much more aware of dysfunction and despair, but hopefully in a manner where you understand the balance and boundaries one needs to have as they separate the professional from the personal.  For someone like myself the balance is there, but my ability to observe, recognize, assess, and understand is so present that when I am exposed to any of it my world slows down...

I use these two examples to help all those that can hear me the opportunity to embrace that message of wellness and self-care, in and outside of the services you provide to others.  I use these examples to allow others to see the parallel between those who need help and those who are there to help. When you are not well, your world is often met with more closed doors than open ones.  Your anger, frustration, and helpless feelings as a result will only magnify and multiply if your state does not change for the better.  An example is only a portrayal, but a story that we can relate to often is the truth that we can not deny.  You may not be at the same level of risk as the two women I came in contact with today, but I am hoping you can connect the dots and see that when you are suffering and in pain the result is more similar than not.  I will leave you with that.  As you continue to move forward and toward as always keep walking with you head up and heart open!

June 22, 2012

When You Learn Teach

I met up with some students of mine today.  Another great opportunity to guide, support, and teach.  The process is honestly one that I never imagined myself doing some 20 years prior.  You see, back then I was immersed into a different journey and opportunity.  Back then I was surviving, trying to somehow just get through the day, not knowing much about what I do now.  That is the beauty of it all, I can reflect (and I often do) and tap in to so many experiences and opportunities that I was fortunate to have.  Opportunities that have shaped me, strengthened me, and moved me forward and toward this point in my life.  Therefore, when I teach (from a didactic style) I have so much that I can go to (experience gained and wisdom earned) that helps me share and provide some very effective teachable moments.  I have come to embrace those moments when your teaching has allowed your students to learn and grow.  Those moments when what you are instructing has resonated and struck your students in a manner that clearly says "I get it, I never thought about that."  These moments really reward  me, providing another opportunity to receive from the process.

I can't predict what the future will hold, where I will land, and what other opportunities await.  What I can confirm, something sister Maya exposed me to is "when you get give, when you learn teach."  May this find all those that can hear me well, and may you always hold on to the idea that anything is possible, you just never know where you will end up.  Keep your head up and heart open as you move in to the end of the week...

June 21, 2012

Start Where You Are At

"Not everything that is faced can be changed.  But nothing can be changed until it is faced."
~James Baldwin

Often when I write a new piece I go back over my previous entry.  This gives me an opportunity to self-reflect, see where I was at, while recognizing what I have moved into since.  This week was one that had me feeling off, you know those ones where you feel a little less motivated and engaged in the active process of life.  When I feel this way (and I do from time to time) I stay with it, I embrace what I am experiencing, with the idea that I will move through it, always learning from it.  You see, it's okay to not always be on top of the world, or not in that state that defines you as someone who has it all together.  Well, being all together can be up for interpretation, a subjective experience at most, but an opportunity...  I say opportunity because how you define your experience is often how you move through it, how you address what needs to be changed, adjusted, and dealt with.  For myself, I know that when I not in a good place or space, I acknowledge just that without over thinking or causing myself more undue stress or challenge.  I think it is fair to say that when we are not feeling all there, depressed and stressed, we are more susceptible to those negative influences that can produce the outcomes that we really don't want.  We can be really hard on ourselves, judgment comes in as if it is going to support you and be your best friend, well we know that is not the case.  If you can see where you are at during these moments of uncertainty (I say uncertain because often we are attempting to figure out something that has no plausible outcome) I can tell you that you are one step closer to working yourself out of it.  Please recognize this, as often when you become aware of your state and how you may not be supporting positive change or growth, you kinda of wake up.  You do, and the reason you can is directly related to a choice, your determination to want better, the belief that you can get there, and the final piece, the work you commit to in order to work yourself through it.

As I close this piece for today, an example that is as authentic as the one who is writing, I want all those that can hear me to embrace my words.  I want you to embrace the idea that the life you are living in is the ultimate learning opportunity.  If you miss out on the lessons that are there to take, you may struggle with much.  You can always point the finger, or attribute your challenges to someone or something else' doing.   However, at the end of the day you have a choice, and this decision often is based on how you interpret your ability or inability to get through and to the other side.  I know you hear me, and as I let you digest my lesson for the day, I encourage you to start where you are at, recognizing that you can and will get through it, you will.  You be well out there, stand up and stay up as you continue to walk with your head up and heart open!

June 13, 2012

It Never Stops!

Good day to all of those that can here me as we move through another week.  I hope the days have allowed you all to be productive and positive, while doing all you need to in order to be well.   Today, I wanted to share and reflect about something that we can all relate to, and if you can not, there is always time to add to your self awareness.  I have been immersed into a project for the last 4-5 months, one that has needed my intention, focus, patience, and effort.  It is something that I was invested in, something that will eventually lead to some professional goals and opportunities presenting themselves. To say there were not several moments that created some stress and anxiety (mostly from myself), I would be kidding both of us.  As I do, and as I often share with all of you I embraced these moments, utilizing my well-being skills, maintaining my self-care needs, and reaching out to my supports when it was necessary.  All of the things that can and do help us when we are immersed into that consumption.  I would allow myself the opportunity to reflect, process, and embrace where I was at.  Often,  I would recognize that I was making more out of something that I could not control, understanding that where my mind shifted to sometimes was an area that was not beneficial to my overall wellness.  So, I managed it and told myself that everything will be fine, everything will work itself out.  I am prepared, I am ready, I am well, and whatever outcome awaits I will accept it and move forward with it.

Well, the outcome that I had hoped for happened and I was very pleased.  I was also quite exhausted as this was something I was carrying with me for several months.  What I knew then and what  I want to express to you all is that now that this task is complete, it does not mean that there is not something else waiting for me that will provide a similar experience or challenge.  There always is, and no matter how challenging or consuming it can be, how you manage, cope, and move through it really matters.  It matters because it reinforces all that it took to get through the previous experience (or challenge) will be needed again, and again, and again.  You see, it never stops. You may tell yourself  "man, once I get through this everything will be so much easier."  Well, you can tell yourself this but is it ever really easy?  Being honest with what life affords, and the message I am trying to once again share is that when you are well, you still face challenge, uncertainty, and difficulty, but your ability to manage this state while your are immersed into it, and your ability to recover from it are what allows you to breathe and move forward.  I didn't stop taking care of myself during the process, and once the process was done I am still doing it.  For example, I am having a pretty busy week, but today I still found the time to hit the gym, work it out, run a 5K and then get back to work.  So, in closing recognize that the cycle never stops, when one door closes another opens, and the house you are living in will always need some repairs and fixing.  You have the tools and skills to fix it, and with this you provide yourself shelter and coverage, understanding that at the end of the day you know you are safe and protected.

You be well to yourself, and may the days ahead embrace you with the quality of life that you deserve to have.  Keep walking with your head up and heart open, and you will move closer to...

June 8, 2012

Maintain You!

Hear we are the end of the week, how has it been?  I was motivated to write today after reflecting and processing the week I had, the learning that came my way, and the giving and support I sent out.  Today, I write with intention and purpose, I write with awareness and a sense of self that is so intact that I see it all unfolding right in front of me.  Life as it is can always provide us with moments of uncertainty, challenge, and all that goes into holding us back from moving in the right direction.  However, when it comes down to it we have a choice, one that includes acceptance, understanding, and the ability to learn from it so that you can ultimately not allow it to control you in a manner that is unhealthy.  I was able to share this message and understanding with someone this week.  You see, I am fortunate to be in a position of a teacher, mentor, and a role model to someone who is in the early learning stages of this field we know.  The one that can produce so many challenges, the ones that can ask one "is this the right fit for me?"  No matter how much love you have in your heart, compassion in your actions, and awareness in your spirit you will be challenged.  This is exactly what is happening to my student, and the resistance and negative experiences she is being exposed to are not related to the people she is serving, but in fact the professionals she is being trained by.  Can you imagine?

I hope you can imagine that, you may be called a "professional" but that does not mean that you carry yourself as one. Is it inappropriate and unjust?  Is it correct and fair?  You know the answer to these questions.  As I was able to share, providing some teachable moments, it is something that you will be exposed to at some point in time in the field of helping others.  In fact, as a helping professional you will use your skill sets often with the adults you have to work with, just as much as the clients you are serving.  There is much to be learned here.  There are many influences and factors that go into the why, how, and all the rest.  I am not going to spell them out.  What I will say, and what I shared with my student is that you always have a choice.  You can choose to let it affect and effect you in a detrimental manner, or you can learn from it, pick your battles wisely, and ultimately accept it (not as right or fair) and cope with it in a healthy manner.  The last part is really important and if you've been hearing me along the way, you know I am real serious about self-care and well-being.  You see, the student was having such a hard time with what she was being exposed to that it was now hindering her in her personal and professional worlds.  Wasn't sleeping well, couldn't concentrate, not eating, not exercising, having a hard time being organized and following through, etc.  Yes, it was like that and that is not good, no it isn't.

So, as I write today with this example and my words.  I will say it again, and again,  Our profession is a tough one, often unpredictable, providing one with much challenge, at times coming from outside of the clients and cases we see.  If you do not maintain you amongst the day in an day out, you will see a change.  The question I present to you is, are you ready for it?  We are a prideful bunch, we help others, we're OK, we got this.  No, the strong ones are those that know when it is time to act, get the support, and the necessary help that will allow you to stay in this profession and be healthy while providing quality services, effective services, and sustainable services.  I know you can hear me, now digest this lesson and if you need to make some changes do so, if you can't get there give us a call, we are here to help you help yourself!  I wish you all well and may the weekend be spent loving and living.  As always, keep your head up and heart open!

* That is me in the pit (the holding pen where the bulls are held prior to the run) the day before I ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.  The year was 2003, I just came off nearly 10 years of running and it was now time to run with the bulls.  The experience was by far one of the most amazing and rewarding!  That pose was all about Can You Hear Me?

June 5, 2012

The Man With The Typewritter

Look around, what do you see?  Immersed into intention, purpose, and action I see the man with the typewriter.  The first time I saw him carry this object from the past it caught my attention, I did a double take making sure I was seeing correct.  It stuck out like it should, amongst the community of laptops, Ipads, smart phones (so smart because they stop you from actually thinking?) Ipods, and all the devices that have made the typewriter obsolete, or not.  The man with the typewriter went about his business, paying no mind to the group, one in which he did not subscribe to, he was definitely old school.  It made me think about just that, how far we have come, or perhaps how limited we have become.  I am inspired by the man with the typewriter, he taught me something that day.  He taught me that we really do not need all of this or that to get the job done, and in fact maybe all of this and that influence our opportunities in a not so beneficial manner sometimes?  We can get so caught up in what we feel we need to accomplish, while we forget and dismiss what we already have, what is enough, and what really matters.  I am thankful to have crossed paths with the man typing away.  Once again I was provided an experience that made me stop, reflect, add to my awareness and understanding, while grabbing my hand and leading me forward...

When I began writing this piece the man with the typewriter entered our shared space.  I was in the middle of a project that had outlived its time, and so I was ready to switch gears and move on.  As he arranged his writing device to begin with his work, I became inspired.  To the point that my fingers hit the keys and I just went with it.  As with everything I put down and out for those who can hear me, there has to be meaning, a message that helps you see through my eyes.  Today' message was born from being in the midst of it, and it was awareness that brought it my way.  The man with the typewriter helped me understand once again that I got what I need, and what I don't have is truly not going to negatively influence my effort, persistence, and resilience as I move forward and towards my goals.  You see, it's not the device(s) that enables you to make an impact, a difference in someone and something.  No, what you need is already there, and what it truly requires is your own effort, persistence, and your resilient being.  The man with the typewriter taught me this, and so I share this lesson with you.  As I look around at the many others staring into their laptops, consumed with the social media wavelengths, mindless and unaware, the one who is truly working is the man with the typewriter.  Remember, to keep it you must continue to work at it, to have it you must continue to embrace the learning that is present, and in order to have both you must always be available and well to receive it.  I hope you are able to see the man with the typewriter the next time you are in the middle of it.  I hope you see it so clearly, and when you do you will have just added something positive to your bucket.  Until we meet again you be well to your day, and your day will be well to you. Keep that head up and heart open!