Hello Photo!

I have (to date) taken two photography classes and when I tell you I am in love, I am IN LOVE! It took all of two minutes while sitting in the chair to feel at home. While I will admit that being one of two students in the class did give my anxiety a jump in the typical direction, I was pleasantly surprised at how at ease I felt from just diving right in and learning. Perhaps a part of me missed being in a classroom setting but I do believe that combining the lesson with in-class practice left me feeling inspired.

So inspired that I decide to submit some photos to an online photo project. This is a thing that I would have over thought for days at a time but this time I just did it. Maybe these are the beginning of a long portfolio 🙂

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In another thoughtful gesture, my current employer offered each staff member $300 to utilize over the summer for a professional development opportunity of their choosing. Obviously, I think this is fabulous. We have long ago established that many of my previous employers have been less than giving.

The interesting thing about this opportunity was that it did not have to be directly linked to your position. It could be anything that you feel would have a benefit in how you do your job.

As I write this, I currently have 13 browser tabs open (including this one). The sad thing is that this many tabs being open is an improvement. Probably because I am on vacation. Check back in October and see if I have regressed. The goal I set for myself by the end of the year is 10. Hopefully I will be able to decrease the number in the coming year.

I bring this up because, this image is one of my favorites.

Tabs

Not because its funny, not because it is true, not because that is typical social worker life but because it is the most accurate representation of my own life. Sometimes I do feel like ADD is a super power. Other times I feel like it is my greatest arch rival. The best is the other times when I think I am dreaming or in a movie and that none of the struggles associated with not being able to finish a thing are real.

I believe that it is partly why I hold on so tightly to accomplishments. When I get stuck in why I can’t just start something and finish it before moving onto the next task, I recall. I try hard to. When the wheel is always spinning, it tends to go so fast that all the images are not always clear or simple to pick out. While I have a lot of faith in myself to persevere, I struggle with the same things that all human beings struggle with. I believe because of the husband (formerly known as the boy, not sure if I will stick with this name) I have come to a place where I struggle less. His insights always have a way of making much more sense to me. I guess he speaks my language better than most.

He is the indirect reason I write this post.

Coming back to what I begun to write about (I planned this one, I swear) initially was that I wanted a chill summer and I did not want to think about anything work related. I thought I would overthink this whole professional development thing so I just decided I wouldn’t use the money. Then I started to realize that either hormonally or emotionally I was feeling rocky. To be able to say that out loud and now in written form is a HUGE leap for me. Well because saying out loud makes it real. As a result, I tried to think about what I could do for myself not because I had to but because I wanted to. It is so seldom that I do anything for myself, with myself just because I want to. So here I go.

I enrolled in a photography class on Saturdays at a photography school in Manhattan. Even more challenging, it is a small class of 9 people for two hours each session. There will be no back corner for me to hide against the wall in a sea of people and watch the room. Even though I do this because I want to and it is a thing I have loved for so long. The thing that I wholeheartedly believe saved this little awkward nerd girls life. It will also be putting something I love into something that makes me uncomfortable. A level of visual vulnerability in a way. Something I don’t do, but I believe will help me to develop. Hopefully help me to close some of those damn tabs.

Everything

 

When people tell you it is the best day of your life, you believe it. When the day came, I felt it. Words will always fail to describe what this day was, what I feel for the boy (who now finally has a face for you guys lol) and how awesome it was to have all of our people in the same place at the same time. Everything and all of the feelings that led up to this point were beyond worth it. May 28, 2017 was realness. Best day ever ❤

Less days ahead than behind…

18 to be exact.

On May 28, 2017 at 6:00pm, I will marry the boy. I guess I will have to call him something else. When I speak to him on the phone I call him “boyfriend”. There was no desire at all to call him “fiancĂ©” since in my mind I would do that for a year and then the next title would come. “Hubby” is corny and I have never been a fan. Utilizing “Husband” seems to stick in the mud. While he hasn’t been a boy for some time, calling him that reminds me of when we first started and I like that. Of all the cast of characters before and after we got to this point, he is the only one (until this day) who still give me the same feelings like the first time around when I was 17 and did not know my ass from my elbow.

This has been a true learning process. Starting a full time job, starting a new part time job, planning a wedding and just being has shown me a new level of focus and organization that I never even knew I had and honestly, may never see again. Personally, the most challenging part was trying to make it fun and simple for everyone involved and despite my best efforts that not being the case. In some ways, I can totally see how women become a bridezilla though I have tried my very best to be as chill as possible. As much as I love him, it is not worth a spike in my blood pressure for one day.

Over it, doesn’t completely describe how I am feeling at the moment though. Saving, spending, planning, organizing, reviewing and revising has officially become beyond tiresome. We moved quickly after the 4.23.16 proposal date as I was firm on my desire to marry on Memorial Day Weekend so being able to jump on it was important. At the present moment, I just want to get married already. I want to put on that absolutely gorgeous overpriced dress that I am head over heels in love with and wear more make-up that I have ever worn in life (and couldn’t apply if my life depended on it) and walk down the aisle to meet him. I have never considered myself to be a girly girl but I must admit how excited I am to hold his hand and try to find the words to convey what he means to me in vow form knowing full well that there have not been words yet created that can give meaning to what I feel for this man.

It snuck up on me. When the day comes, the count starts over and I legit could not be more hype for that next step in the journey.

I will really have to find a new name for him then.

Punishment?

When I was a child I was constantly getting into trouble. Not because I was genuinely bad but because I had some old school West Indian parents (especially my single minded father) and I was very outspoken. I was a little bit bad. Couple that with speaking directly, I was regularly in some type of issue.

My dad used to give me a schedule of things to do over the weekend that I remember feeling as though I would have been better off living in an orphanage. Doing pages of vocabulary builder oddly enough didn’t bother me, but pages of additional math and reading several chapters and doing a synopsis was just too damn much. Where the hell is my weekend?

The punishments would include reading extra books (no problem), not being able to watch tv (no biggie) and I could only listen to the radio and none of my mom’s records (big whoop). I recall rather vividly almost 25 years later thinking that though this was tedious it wasn’t a real punishment. It was just supremely annoying. It never stopped me from speaking my mind and questioning relevance. The think that until this day upsets me is what was all this supposed to teach me? Was I supposed to just eat what I was told? Was I supposed to just fade into the silence? Was I supposed to be the robot that my dad wanted me to be? I never turned out to be any of those things. He and I still have a strained relationship. He will not be walking me down the aisle at my wedding in May. At this point, I’m not sure if he will even be in attendance since he has made no legitimate reference to the wedding at all. To be honest, I don’t really have a problem with it in the event that he doesn’t show.

What is a real punishment? I mean I understand the definition but what is it?

This is now just about the middle of my third year working in the capacity of social worker within a school and I still have not fully grasped the punishment/discipline aspect. There has been a big shift to move toward restorative practices within schools which is where money is being thrown currently until the next initiative come along. The clinical side of me grasps the restorative mind frame as well as the benefit but how do we get to the goal? What is the goal? How do we track its attainment? What if any investment is there is in the goal?

An archaic concept that…

 

 

 

 

 

A new kind of rewind

Almost four Thursdays ago I was a guest lecturer at NYU Silver School of Social Work. Purely by circumstance no less. A friend/colleague of mine was unable to make it work so he recommended me to the professor and things went from there.

This was (to date) the coldest day of the season. To add insult to injury, I was getting over a bad cold. Speaking a great deal aggravated my sensitive throat so I armed myself with a Venti hot tea and come Riccola cough drops to support me through.

As I walked down Washington Square North, I remember vividly thinking how many times I walked down that same street in the 90’s and early 00’s to go to clubs/lounges, have dinner or just figure out what was coming next at night with friends. I also thought that the fact I am now old enough so refer to times in my life by decade is not exactly exciting but it means that it brought me to this point.  Has a little over 5 years as a licensed social worker has given me enough experience to facilitate conversations with a set of upcoming social worker who are eager to carve into this challenging helping profession? Yes. It has 🙂

I am fully aware how silly this will sound but I am going to say it anyway. As I walked into the building to sign in with security, it smelled like grad school. It smelled of coffee and sweet treats, fried fast food and exhaustion from finals. It smelled of the negative $h!ts that people had to give at this point in December with the 5% of sanity left that tells you if you fail that it will cost money to take the course over.  Honestly, one of the best experiences about the entire thing that I remembered. Part of what I pride myself on is my ability to remember how I felt in certain situations. I feel that it is important, not just in my professional practice but in my personal life. To remember how much our emotions drive our actions sometimes is important as human beings. We at times forget the “being” part.

Sitting in a room in a circle (it was a groups class) was weird because I was in the front of it. Never in my life have I sat in the front of the room unless I was forced. The strange feeling disappeared once I started speaking. There are so many things in my life that I at times question my ability to do with proficiency or with precision but this is not one of them. I am glad everyday for this.

The women in the room had already cultivated so much experience within their placements it was impressive. It give me so much hope, not just for the profession but for the diverse population of women who were able to so seamlessly reflect on their facilitation experiences from a strengths based perspective. Its a very nice thing to know that schools of social work are really doing a quality job of educating thoughtful socially conscious practitioners. I felt it in the room and it made me smile.

Time went very quickly. I went over things in my mind and till this day I was even impressive with myself. Honestly I couldn’t help but think, “I really sound like I know what I am talking about!” I do. I take that statement seriously. I own the fact (I shared this with the class) that your experiences in the field and in facilitation will undoubtedly strengthen your practice but that there will be a few key elements from school that you will carry with you and really work to craft. The practitioners who thrive, who create, who continue to learn, who think on their feet are the ones who live their practice. It’s something that school can’t teach but I feel that they do  good job of instilling the themes necessary for success.

Moving forward, this was a good spring board for me. I will be taking on a new challenge later this month as an adjunct professor in an online MSW program. Having a hand in shaping the practice and experience of the next set of future social workers is exciting. I think a part of me is more excited about what I will learn from them. Its a strange thing when you rewind a piece of your life in a different way and find a way to pay forward some of it.

 

 

 

You are really quite the mess…

Since I was in the 7th grade I have heard people refer to each other as a mess. As a child, a mess is something that if you made you were responsible for cleaning up (provided your parents made an attempt at teaching you how to be accountable for your actions). As an adult, a mess is similar to that of a child but now we have graduated to also including people.

 

ADHD Brain…

I have been fortunate enough to no longer floss my social work skills in Bed-Stuy though I readily admit that the kids are what I miss most about it. I am now flexing my social work guns in a K-8 school in my old neighborhood. This gives me great pride for many reasons. The first of which is that I am a very proud Bronxite, for lack of a better term. While I don’t believe my borough is “the best”, I know that it has a great deal to offer and that I don’t need to leave it for very much in the grand scheme of things. The second is that Norwood is a big part of the woman I have become. It is where I met my fiancĂ© (yes! more on this later) and it is what shaped and supported my desire to enter into a helping profession. Though no job is perfect, this one has renewed my faith in ability. To some this may seem small but to me it means a great deal because over the course of the past two years I began to question everything in between time and space. So basically, everything. The best part of my Brooklyn experience was the people who I had the opportunity to learn from. Of those, my last set of interns taught me more than I ever thought they could. For this and many other reasons, I feel as though the mind frame I was placed in had to come from two years in Bed-Stuy and the level of endurance that I believe came from it.

Earlier today, I overhead a snippet of a conversation where one female student told a male student that he was a mess and needed to get his “life together”. The male student dropped his bookbag which was open because he didn’t close it and all of the items fell out. I wasn’t surprised when he didn’t respond to her comment and just began to pick up his things. This is a student who at this still tender age knows that there are bigger things to tackle than what one girl thinks of him. He just lets it roll off and continues to be a model for how to handle typical 7th grade crap. If this is the kind of mess that I have to aid in cleaning up this social worker is happier than a pig in mud to be able to do so.

This 5 year journey into this profession is about as messy as anything as anything I have ever done in my life. The chaos, the ups and downs, the losses, sleepless nights, feeling like every part of me is being torn apart is the stuff that makes me so confident in my ability to do this job, to answer the call of this profession. I feel shaky sometimes in other ways but this mess, my mess is my greatest achievement.