"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

January 31, 2013

Breaking Open

This is a re-post of a piece I put out March 2012.  What I have come to know about the world of blogging is that you have to continue to expose your audience to what has come before the present day, while allowing them an opportunity to tap in to what truly influences the writer.  May these words find you available to hear them, be well out there! 

Been a few since I last put down some words of hope, strength, and at the end of the day progress.  I find myself reflecting back to a period in my adult life that challenged me in a way that I had never experienced before.  Three years (to the date of this writing) have passed since I began a path that has me recovered in a manner that has changed the quality of my life in so many positive ways!  I have written and shared along the way in previous posts but today I feel its appropriate to share a part of me that has stayed mostly private, but not anymore as I have embraced the vulnerability that has moved me towards change, for the better!

The reflection takes me back to my job working away as a school social worker (you can refer to At The Crossroads posted last year to see where I was at during this period in my life) it was a typical work week, nothing too demanding other than the demands the job always provided.  I finished my week earlier than usual (on a Thursday) off to catch a plane (a red eye) to NYC for a family celebration, set to return to Los Angeles on Sunday, back to work on Monday.  New York represented some defining moments for me.  It was the place that I escaped to from an abusive period (physical and emotional) when I was a teen.  It represented a reconciliation with my father who over the years was distant and absent, and our relationship as a result wasn't much of one.  It represented getting to know a brother and sister who shared the same blood, but not much else due to distance, age differences, and my disconnect from that family system.  It also represented me traveling back in time (in my mind) reliving all that transpired up and to this point.  I wasn’t fearful or nervous about going, I was excited to go.  By this time in my life I had done some serious self work and had evolved into a healthy well adjusted man.  I was all about creating positive new memories with my family and my wife. However, when you time travel and reflect on some moments that challenged you to your knees, remembering what it took to overcome them, there is an energy that takes its own course of action, in this case it was intense and powerful!

What I didn’t see coming was 6 days of no sleep, a trip to the psych ER for a 5150 (code for a 72 hour psychiatric hold) assessment (and because of my training and insight I talked my way out of staying, not trying to be a hero, I just didn't want to stay), several days of the most extreme anxiety that I had ever experienced (the kind where you can not physically move) at my  house, a return back to the hospital for a 6 day stay followed by a discharge and then a return back 2 days later for a 24 hour stay in an emergency room bed!  This all began February of 2009 and the road back has been a path that has tested me beyond measure, but I made it through and as I have always done through out the course of my life, I fought and I moved forward!  Sometimes the unknown has its way of showing itself when it wants to, not when you do.  What happened to me happened because it needed to, and I was ready to work with it, cope, and begin to peel back the layers.  By addressing and understanding a past (that exposed me to transformative pain and suffering) in a manner that I never expected, it created a new part of me. 

The experience itself was intense and I will never forget what transpired, but by breaking open I was able to make some positive choices and decisions that have truly changed the quality of my life for the better.  One of the biggest was resigning from my job and committing to a new job, getting healthy and well.  You see, you can’t put a date or time on your wellness.  To be well you must commit to every day for the rest of your days.  The hardest work out there is changing for the better; it takes a tremendous amount effort, sacrifice, risk, discipline and much more.  However, when you commit to your well being you are able to see and feel many wonderful positive outcomes.  I am so strong, so empowered, and so aware of how to manage my well being these days, and it took this experience (and many moments prior) to show me the way.  What you have read is obviously the abbreviated version, and there is much more that can be shared.  Perhaps you can now see how my “Breaking Point” greatly influenced my decision to go out on my own (professionally) and share a part of me via my experiences, all of which are fundamental to what I bring into Can You Hear Me?

For all those that have and will fall down along the way, it’s going to be okay.  Yes, we helping professionals all have a story, something influenced our decision to help those in need.  When we suffer professionally it exacerbates the unresolved pain, trauma, and suffering that we carry within us.  We can not do justice out there if we are unable to help ourselves.  If you're willing to do the work while trusting your providers, you will see a change that will translate into opportunity that you deserve. We all fall, it's only a matter of how you get up, that’s when you learn, grow, and move forward.  So, stay strong, stand up and stay up, and as always may this find you well!

 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. 

January 25, 2013

What's It Gonna Be?

If you’re not sure where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.” 
~ Anonymous

Like many out there who put their thoughts to page you sometimes have to search for topic, motivation, and all that goes into supporting your mission...  This is not to say that you don't have something to offer, give, and put out to the universe.  What this means is that you are aware that what you put out is a representation of you, your model, and the desire to communicate (your said goals) in order to promote effective change, while creating a community of support.  Therefore, you choose wisely, while making sure that what is being shared has the potential to be heard.   

"Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.” 
 ~ Napoleon Hill 

So, this is where I found myself at prior to hitting the keys this afternoon.  I began the day in the early hours of the morning, practicing as I often do in order to get the mind straight, and move into the day with my head up and heart open.  First, I put some thoughts into the journal, and then I immersed myself into some reading, digesting, and another learning opportunity.  One that would allow me to better myself, so that I would be further equipped to help support others.  In order to be available to this, one has to not only make it happen, but be in that space that has them present and well, with the ability to comprehend and interpret.  Many out there may be thinking, "I wish that was possible, or I am so far removed from having that opportunity."  What I will say to that is it is not impossible, but it takes determination, discipline, and a change in self-talk from I can't (= I certainly am not trying) to I can!  

 “The golden opportunity you are seeking is in yourself. It is not in your environment; it is not in luck or chance, or the help of others; it is in yourself alone.” 
~ Orison Sweet Marden

The book in mention, and what I am currently reading is Trauma Stewardship by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky (with Connie Burk).  I'm half way through it, and let me just say, there are about a dozen little yellow sticky notes coming out of the pages, so that in itself should tell you that there is some great information and insight within this work.  The book offers the reader an opportunity to explore, grow, hope, and recover. I would say the book style is parallel to a didactic teaching experience, one that shares information, guidance, practice wisdom, and plenty of resources (books, websites, experts in the field, etc.). As with everything that I share, you now have a choice on whether (or not) you will take the opportunity that presents itself.  My only hope is that you do not reinforce any type of resistance or avoidance because you feel it will be too difficult to explore, or ask of you what you may feel you can not give.  Changing for the better is hard work, it takes much, and exactly what you project in your practice (and ask of your clients) is what it takes, so...

Until next week, may these words find you at the door, what lies on the other side will only present itself when you turn the handle and move forward.  Breathe well out there! 

 About Author

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 ⇢

January 18, 2013

LA to Chicago...

As my week has moved me forward and toward, my thoughts are with all of you out there striving to provide.  I hope the week has treated you well, and if not, I hope you have found an opportunity to learn from the "whatever" that may be presenting a challenge.  Remember, you always have a choice on how you want to handle, manage, cope, and all that goes into walking through life's greatest lessons.  As I reflect on just that, I realize that some of the greatest lessons that I've been fortunate to receive have come to me from a place that I will be seeing real soon.  I'm heading out to Chicago in the morning, a place I have frequented much over the years.  Chicago has always been a city that I embrace well, not only because of the ohana that awaits my arrival, but what the city itself has given me.  Over the years, no matter where my life was at, Chicago was that place that was stable, supportive, and gave me a sense of comfort that just felt right, no more need to explain.

I have lived in Los Angeles (one of the most impacted cities in the nation) for the majority of my life, with a decade plus stop in New York.  Los Angeles has much to offer, however over the years it has become more and more disconnected and disengaged, and thus the sense of community at times is not so present.  I can break down the reasons why from a sociological perspective, but that's not the intention here, all I can say is somewhere along the way many people stopped making eye contact, saying hello, holding the door open... In Chicago I have always felt welcome, engaged, and a part of something bigger than myself.  Now, I'm not naive to the point that I don't recognize that I have not lived or worked in this place, and my time spent there has been only brief periods over the years, I get that.  I am not making any type of comparison here, just an observation from a participant observer who has an interest in the environment that they are immersed into.

You can say that urban ethnography is something that I gravitate towards, and thus when I visit the inner workings of cities, my lens is different.  I'm observing, listening, and taking note of what most may walk right by.  This skill set has suited me well as a social worker, having the sociology background in conjunction with the social work framework really has allowed for a smooth transition from the subjective to the objective, with an informed perspective. I stay up on my practice, while taking pride working on my craft, never speaking to what I do not know. You see, with our work, the learning only stops if you stop it.  I encourage any all that are listening to keep working on your self and practice, because when you do the benefits translate into positive outcomes, which most likely will move you one step closer to helping those in need thrive, instilling more hope than not, while walking with your head up and heart  open!

Another week has come, and although it's not quite over, I hope that you have been able to reach and teach, support and empower, and walk towards progress.  That in of itself is not always an easy task to accomplish, and in the field of helping others change for the better, we take incremental successes as they come, while hoping that these will add to a much greater outcome, in time...  As I reflect on my week, like many, I have put it out there with the intention that my efforts (to help others) will take its course into something positive, and all that goes into doing the right thing without thinking.  You see, with the service involved in helping others we don't always see an immediate outcome, and so, we must trust the process.  We must recognize what is possible, and walk confidently within our abilities, knowing where to turn when we need support.  We must recognize what we have accomplished, while learning from the challenges that presented themselves.  We must do our best to not take things personally, and when we find ourselves in that space, stop to recognize the difference between what we can not control vs. what we can!

As I leave you for this week, may the weekend bring you an opportunity to breathe and exhale, as you take care of yourself.  Don't over think what will still be waiting for you on Monday.  As we celebrate and honor Dr, Martin Luther King Jr., and welcome back President Obama for another four, embrace the message that both of these great men represent, while you allow it to transfer as it should! 

 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 ⇢

January 11, 2013

It Is What It...

You ever heard a saying and it just didn't register with you as perhaps it should?  Now, move forward some years, with some living, awareness, and growth achieved, and the saying is crystal clear. This is exactly what has inspired me this week, and as I do I am honored to bring it to all those that can hear me.  I have transitioned into 2013 with intention, purpose, and action and thus I am in a good place to express into these words.

So, getting back to the saying in question.  I had heard it over the course of time, but I really began to embrace it in my latter adult years, as the result of a truly special relationship I was given.  My grandfather JJ would of turned 99 in just a few short weeks.  He lived 94 great years, and the relationship that I had with him showed me what it meant to carry yourself with respect, integrity, and an unconditional love that demonstrated how to live it and love it!  He was a very simple man, but the lessons he modeled didn't need too many words.  What he was able to model with his actions, character, and presence said it all.  Whenever we would connect he would convey another learning opportunity for me, I am sure many that he never realized were happening right in front of him.  Often, after our talks he would say "It is what it is" as to bring the lesson into context, at this point the nod of the head signified that we both understood, and the learning was transferred.  You can interpret this saying in whatever context you choose, but what I want to share is something that was often shared with me...

You can resist, avoid, and challenge yourself at the detriment of you own well-being, or you can accept the opportunity.  This is what I gained from this saying after an evolving learning process that would take me through many challenges, obstacles, and barriers that I often created for myself.  "It is what it is" allowed me to put my challenges into context, showing me that acceptance, understanding, and ownership to them, would only move me forward and toward a better day!  I was able to reflect on just that this week after an appointment with one of my providers. I was engaged (and asked to share) about "my recovery process" and how I was able to get to the place I find myself at today.  I told my doctor that it began with a choice, that was brought to me via an extremely intense experience.

It was followed by a commitment to change some ways, leave behind some substances, and work, work, and work some more.  I told him that it is the hardest work out there, and to be well, it is something that I have to commit to every day for the rest of my days.  I have surrounded myself with the necessary support, and I do my homework with out any resistance.  "It is what it is" represents my commitment to my wellness, it inspires me because of who and how I learned its true meaning from.  It empowers me because after all these years I have found my way, with no need to mask, suppress, or stay in the shadows.  I am front and center with my story, embracing the vulnerability that will always be around to teach and guide me.  I own the experience, and by working towards progress I am able to help others in a positive, effective, and sustainable manner.  Once again, let my words take to you to a place of thought, reflection, and hopefully the process that leads one towards opportunity.  2013 is going to be a great year for all of us, as long as you believe that you can do whatever you determine is possible! 

Until we meet again, may this lesson find you well.  Whatever you choose to do with it, please choose wisely, you always have a choice.  Head up and heart open!

Wherever it is, it is up to you to find it!

 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 ⇢

January 4, 2013

Back to Reality

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

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style”  
~Maya Angelou

Like many of you out there I have faced the transition back this week, and all that this can provide. Having the time away to breathe and re-focus while enjoying time with family and friends has been a benefit to say the least. However, there is a point when you realize that this will come to an end and it is time to get back to your reality, one that can create a level of stress that does not always find us in a relaxed and comfortable state. This state can be attributed to much, but primarily it is rooted in what we choose to create as that "something" that we see as negative, challenging, uncomfortable, and... This energy that we create becomes more of a discomfort and sure enough we bring it right into our transition back. Now think about how this would not only impact our self, but the service and support that we (as helping professionals) strive to provide to those in need. Our line of work is to help others change for the better, and if we are off, I can guarantee you that our clients will be able to feel and see such. As I have said before, just because those we serve in need are challenged in areas that prevent them from living a healthy and adjusted life, it does not mean that they are not aware of our presence and availability to help them help themselves. Sure, you can put yourself on auto pilot ("I can work with clients with my eyes closed") but is that really the standard you set for your self and the work you have chosen to provide?

“Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved.”  
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I hope I have you thinking in a manner that has you reflecting on what you value, believe, and know to be true in order to have an effective practice. At times of transition (post holidays/time off) there is an adjustment period that we must embrace, but how you choose to do so is the underlying focus here. I would encourage you to focus on what you can control, while acknowledging what you are experiencing. The more you resist and reinforce what you can not control ("I wish I was still off from work") you will find yourself in that place and space that does not have you present and available. I recommend that you focus on your self-care, now is not the time to make excuses or suppress what you need to be able to give to yourself. As with everything that one perceives as a challenge, if you negatively reinforce the experience, you exacerbate the problem. It's when you work towards a solution in a healthy and positive manner that you move forward and toward a better day. This is the place you want to find yourself at, when you arrive here you not only feel empowered, but more than likely you will be modeling this intention to those in need you are trying to reach! So, as you finish up the first week back, or find yourself preparing to return, may these words find you available to receive. Be well out there, keep walking with your head up and heart open and you will...

About Author

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 ⇢