Friday, November 27, 2009

Giving Thanks

I'm debating whether to come back to this blog, yet again. Partly because many things I would like to write about I fear I will disrupt confidentiality. So, I am going to attempt to restore some anonymity, and play around a bit with it while I decide.

Given yesterday was Thanksgiving, I thought I would work my way back in by giving thanks. I am, of course, thankful for my parents, brother and other family members and friends that have always been a constant in my life. But most of all these days I am thankful for my husband and the life and partnership we share together. I am thankful he loves me enough to put up with my quirks and let me know how much he loves and appreciates my strengths. I am thankful for the little family unit and happy life we have created with our dog and cat in our little humble home.

I am also very thankful for the path my career has led me on. I am so grateful that I have been able to make positive connections with clients and professionals so that I maintain respected among my peers and appreciated for the work I am capable of. I am so thankful that those professional relationships have led me to the new job I will be in full time come January. It's been a disappointing month to learn that the agency I work for will not sustain the school mental health program I have been a part of for three years. I hate that my kids at the school will possibly be losing that very necessary service in their community. But I am fortunate that I can move forward to help other families and hope to ensure I link all my current kids to appropriate services as I leave.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I've neglected to post anything for awhile because I have been very busy and very tired. School is done. My school is now closed permanently. There has been a lot of possible changes thrown around about where I will be in the fall. It's now come full circle that I will remain at the school I was intended to transition to. We've started camp, it's a nice change of pace but already exhausting. On top of the schools, I am now working every weekend at the Crisis Center I cover shifts at, at least until mid July. In addition to that, I have been offered the position at the treatment office I recently interviewed at. I will be providing treatment to kids and families who have experienced trauma, are involved with DCS or have special needs. I should be doing this only 10-15 hours a week, so hopefully I don't completely burn out doing all three of these jobs at once.

Needless to say, with all this working and wedding planning going on (we're coming into all the busy details now with less than three months to go), I've little time or drive to write on the blog. I'll probably get back into it soon. I often write things in my head, I just don't post them. I think some things lately are too close to breaking confidentiality or they are things I just don't wish to share. So, you may not see much on here for a bit, but I am sure it won't last long.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Talent Shows, my new side business

I think I mentioned before I had agreed per some of my clients' request to help coordinate a talent show for the entire school. As soon as I committed I began to wonder why. I had so many kids sign up, I had to hold auditions. I hated to pick and choose. Social worker me, I wanted to include everyone. But, I had a teacher and the music teacher help me pick out the participants. Once that was set, I then had kids walking into my room at various points of the day, every day, to talk about what they were doing, when they could practice, etc. I was happy to help them facilitate what they needed for the performance, but I had to get snippy when kids just started walking in my room. I already have that problem with teachers- walking in without knocking. Confidentiality is a paradigm not all teachers understand. . . .

But as we got down to the wire, I had three students (who are also three of my clients) hosting the show and they worked hard to help me organize and get things together. We had some amazing performances and some that seemed to go on forever, as happens with elementary school talent shows. I got lots of great feedback from the teachers and I think many of the students enjoyed. I think the participants particularly got a thrill from the excitement and applause. All in all, I would probably do it again. Now that I know how to organize it a little better and make sure I have plenty of allocated time for rehearsals.

The side story is in the midst of coordinating the script, who was performing when and such, was that the principal almost put an end to it when one of the students was found to have pictures of naked men on the camera she had brought in to take photos of the show. She wasn't aware they were on there, but they were there. . . scandalous and made the afternoon all the more crazy, on top of the usual afternoon blow ups.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Experiencing work related trauma

My friend and the school social worker noted in our staffing team meeting today that we have not perhaps spent enough time this year debriefing our traumas. Trauma seems like such a significant word with so much heaviness to it. Trauma is the word I attribute to the children who are severely abused in various ways, experience extreme violence, house fires and other major horrific events. But she is right, we as the professionals have repeatedly been subjected to trauma throughout this year.

In this year, I have been attacked physically more than I ever was working in residential. I've been verbally accosted by kids and parents. I have played a role in supporting initial disclosures and treatment of significant sexual and physical abuse and other trauma with many children on my case load this year. I know two families that have lost all their possessions to house fires. I know at least five (maybe more) families that have lost a close family member to gun violence in the past six months. I have been threatened by a colleague I should be collaborating with, who instead made me feel like she wanted me removed from my job. And as egotistical as it may sound, I did not in any way deserve to be removed or threatened in such a manner. I am good at what I do. You have to engage with this woman and see how she operates and communicates with others to understand the stress she caused for not only me, but many teachers and other staff.

The school has functioned this year in a constant state of crisis, only worsening as the year progresses towards the end. The cycle of each school year always makes things challenging in the late spring, last months of the semester. But with the closure of the school and lack of a cohesive team or school, it has been much worse this year. Going from one crisis to another, we have had no time to really debrief as one should when there has been a major trauma. The lack of a team as compared to what was in place at the school last year has left me often feeling very isolated, with only the support of the school social worker. I think if we didn't have at least some moments with each other to vent (they are hard to get sometimes because we are so busy), I would have had an even greater struggle. In addition to the increased professional isolation within the school, my position is one that I am left to be very autonomous. Although I like this in many ways, I do not have the supervision and clinical support that I have come to realize all social workers need, regardless of skill level.

The scariest part is I started to believe, this is just the path I have chosen. This is what I am supposed to be able to handle each day. If I can't handle all the abuse, maybe I'm not as good of a social worker as I thought I was.

I know these thoughts are incorrect. I know I deserve a reasonably healthy working environment, despite the high needs of a population I may work with. I know I deserve to work among a supportive and collaborative team. I've had it before, and I think we as individuals do our jobs better when there is collaboration and support from those around us. I just hope I can attain some sense of that next year . . .

Did I mention the nine days? Actually, it is eight with Memorial Day holiday. Sweet.

On a lighter note- a parent actually picked their child up on the family's horse today. This is an urban neighborhood, y'all. At least there are those moments to shake your head and laugh about.

I thought I left shoplifting in the past with other childhood risk taking.

I stopped by the drug store on my way to the second job tonight, mainly to pick up anti-itch cream for my third bout of poison ivy (so far this year). Our yard is plagued with all sorts of itch causing contaminants and random plants. We are working on eradicating them.

So, I get my anti-itch cream, decide to treat myself to a carbonated beverage, and walk right out the door. I realized as soon as I walked out that I had forgot to pay for my two items. I freaked out and walked back in, waiting for alarms to sound and someone to place me in handcuffs. In reality, I probably would have never gotten caught. The cashier was oblivious to most things around her. But, I managed to wait in line and add a pack of gum to my purchase.

Can we say exhaustion? Nine days of school left. . . .that is the current mantra, subtracting one each day.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Two weeks to go

I haven't posted much lately because I haven't had much to say. Just busy, tired and extremely stressed. We've got two weeks left at the school. I've agreed to do a talent show, which has put me in an unusual position given my role at the school is somewhat of an outsider (working with an outside agency). I've got all these kids that are now seeking me out for support and guidance on their performance or whatever is on their minds. "Miss Lisa, Can you be my mentor, too?" They don't get it. On top of agreeing to do this to facilitate some closure for the kids, I am dealing with daily driving one of my kids to partial (intensive daily outpatient treatment) on top of everything else that goes along with the last two weeks of the school year. Teachers and staff, including myself, are wiped out and we are just trying to maintain as best we can to make it through the end.

I'm also working out the second job thing. I've been connected with a therapy position at another agency that I can do in the evenings part time, and I will be picking up shifts at the crisis center I worked at during grad school. We'll see how this goes. I need the extra money, but I am not sure what my threshold is for working with kids and families who have been abused or are at high risk in other ways. Can't hurt to try though right?

So far, I have managed the last couple weekends to really enjoy myself and get what I want out of them. I need the time in order to survive the upcoming week. We were going to take care of some wedding stuff today, but have decided instead to work around the house, work in the yard and engage in our hobbies (me on the pottery wheel and Luke with his playstation 3). The wedding stuff can wait. There's plenty of time and I just need to get through the next two weeks.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Mother's Day Brainstorm

I am at my other school today, the one I am at only one day a week (but slated to be full time here next year). It's nice and quiet compared to my Monday-Thursday school. The therapist here yesterday does a weekly group. It appears that she probably had the boys in the group make Mother's Day cards. There's a lovely list of brainstormed ideas of what they could write. It made me smile, so I wanted to share:

You are:
a good cook
supercalafragalistic (this is how they spelled it on the board, I really have no clue how that should be spelled.)
a great mom
a wonderful mom
a special mom
an adorable mom

You take good care of me.
You listen to me.

The Facebook Dilemma

I have been thinking about rejoining Facebook. But, I continue to resist the urge to succumb to this form of communication. Once there was a time when email was considered impersonal. Now we stay in touch with each other by status updates? Part of my problem is I have a tendency to over personalize things. Missing out on certain information with friends or certain events, because I am not on Facebook. I tend to find it a little hurtful, although I know it is not personal. That is really the only reason I would rejoin- because I feel like I am missing out.

Also, part of my personal insecurities are simply the fact that my relationships have begun to change. With Luke, I have established a happy and more domestic life. We do not have money to go out very often, so we don't. I am not intentionally anti-social with others, although sometimes I fear my friends might think that I am. Paranoia. It's a sad thing.

So, due to these fears, I think maybe I should get back on Facebook. Maybe I just have to accept that this is the evolution of communication among loved ones. It's the fast track to feel connected to each other when we are far apart and/or too busy to actually call or email each other. But, I just don't want to accept that. I think if we want to sustain our relationships, we can and should make the time. I am speaking about myself here, too. I know I need to be better about communicating and keeping up with loved ones. But, I am thinking I would like to be better about writing letters and making phone calls, not letting everyone know on Facebook in a status statement that I am tired at work today, or plan to see Star Trek this weekend.

So, the internal debate continues. . .

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Let's Hear It for the East

I think I will encourage Luke to go to grad school on the east coast. They definitely seem to meet my liberal needs more than our current living environment. Let's hear it for civil rights being expanded to now the state of Maine.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

My accomplishment of the day

After working at school all day and then working (albeit, it was pretty easy) at the crisis center all evening yesterday, I managed to get up this morning and do a full 25 minute run on my own. Granted, Luke had to poke me to get out of bed a little. And for those who have lived with me they know me and mornings don't always mix. But I ran it without him, without stopping. I'm pretty proud.