Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Flasback to my death defying leap

In editing some of my old posts and revising this blog a little in order to redirect it's content, I realized I never posted images from my first skydive. I pretty much abandoned this blog from January through October- there wasn't much lost in the spring and I was too loved up to think about much else in the summer. But, I wanted to revisit the dive and share a couple images. My uncle Ken took me with him for his first skydive, on his fiftieth birthday. It was my early 30th birthday present. We did it at Skydive Deland, in Florida.

I have always wanted to skydive. It's one of many adventures I think everyone should do at least once before they die, but perhaps I should speak for myself. It was one of, if not the most exhilarating experiences I have had in my life so far. I would definitely like to do it again. Perhaps I can talk Luke into it on one of our trips down to Florida. If you are contemplating, but feel unsure, I say do it! You will not regret it. Be sure, I did confirm with my tandem instructor that he had years of experience. I think he had been doing about 8 years and had done over 13,000 dives- or maybe it was the other way around. . . .
My Uncle Ken making his leap

Yep, that's me!

Chute's out . . .

. . . And a smooth landing.

Posted by Picasa

Reflections on how I spend my time (reflections with too much time off sick)

Fortunately, Luke has been off or not working at the times I have been home sick most of this week, so he's been around to keep me company and allow for a moderate level of my whining and attention seeking. I've got some bad sinus infection/cold thing that has also been accompanied by lovely intermittent bouts of nausea. But, while he's at work, I once again allowed myself to be magnetized to the computer, searching various wedding ideas and engaging in useless activities such as facebook fishing games. I did come across a great website in my wed idea search however. I love the woman who writes, I believe, most of the entries and have enjoyed reading her thoughts and suggestions not only on the wedding hoopla, but also on other policital, social and environmental matters.

I especially like the worst wedding advice she shares as she comes across, and her list of what is actually important. I concur with all of them. While I am very excited about our big wedding and the lovely location it will be at, I've reminded myself in all this sick reflection that we still have 8-9 months until that day. Although, we've joked today that if we went ahead and got married down at the county clerk's office, we could get Luke health benefits. I am most excited now about how we will write our ceremony so that it is personal to us. I know it will be beautiful and elaborate, in many traditional ways, but it will also be ours and very untraditional in that we plan to ensure we express ourselves and who we are, as opposed to what is expected. Now that all the major venue and vendor needs are settled, I can pull myself back (really, I can!) and enjoy the daily happiness I have in our home together. Or, until my mom arrives in January for dress shopping. . .

In the meantime, I intend to refocus my free time. I may be looking for a part time job to supplement our tight income, but for now I need to regain focus on studying and passing the LCSW exam once and for all, as well as contributing something more than what I do outside my job. I know it's post the big vote, but I don't think it is ever too little too late to become involved in politics, so I have signed up with some of the local politicians I support to start engaging more in the process. I also am seeking out environmental organizations that I can offer volunteer support to. I need to do something a little different from what I do at the schools each day, but also feel like I could and should be doing more than what I do with my kids Monday through Friday. Now, if I could just afford to take the LCSW exam . . . that is really the next step. I guess that's where the second job comes in.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Perhaps stuffing and casseroles should be made more than twice a year

Happy post Thanksgiving everyone. Luke's parents were here with us for the holidays. It was my first time cooking the meal for family (my only other Thanksgiving hosting experience being when Bri and I were in England for all our Brit friends). I think everyone is in agreement it was a successful holiday. We had a good time with each other's company and all my food was good. Too good, I think. I'm not sure if it is the excess of eating, the wine or coffee, but I am still in recovery from all the tasty treats had yesterday. In my family, dishes like stuffing, broccoli casserole and other dishes drenched in butter, are only served at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Perhaps we need to change that. Maybe if we had more moderate indulgence of these delightful dishes more than twice a year, we wouldn't be so eager to gorge ourselve at the holidays. But, I suppose that is the fun of it- making the feast a rare treat. Plus, with our attempted running regimine, I don't think I could handle eating like that and getting up in the morning to run. I know I won't be running today.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday as we did. I missed my family in Florida but had a lot of fun with Luke and my future in-laws here. I'd probably be in even more pain today if I had celebrated with my family!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Ah, the joy of working with professionals that know how to communicate

I have been really struggling with my job to the point that apathy was starting to get in the way of my quality of service. In social work, there are always ebbs and flows of challenging times that make it difficult to want to come to work and do the job well, but recent months have been especially difficult. In this academic school year, the school I primarily work at has obtained a new principal and new support staff. I was optimistic that we would after a short period be able to redevelop a working team, but this has not occurred. Perhaps I have been spoiled in the past or perhaps I am still a little naive regardless of my experiences. But, I feel as though I went from a healthy working team to a team that is non existent.

Recently I have been made aware one professional I work with daily experiences misunderstandings and inappropriate judgements which are directed at me. This is no surprise, given the way she communicates with me. And although I feel I am always tactful, I refuse to accept someone's statements if I know they are not fact. I am confident in my skills in direct practice and in my history of positive working relationships with other professionals, that I know I have not been inappropriate. In order to continue maintaining an appropriate level of communication, I choose avoidance. This isn't really all that healthy and does nothing for the daily anxiety I now experience going to work and dealing with confrontational situations on a regular basis.

But yesterday, I was reminded that the work I have put forth in my local community is recognized, and there is everlasting value to my work ethic and how I put it into practice each day. I engaged in a meeting with other professionals who came together as a proactive team, for the benefit of the child in question who hasn't had his needs met in the past. I was also encouraged for my efforts with this child. It's not that I need constant praise, but it is necessary for everyone to have occasional recognition of their efforts in order to have an increased validation in what they do. That's just human nature that everyone needs positive encouragement. It also propelled me to reflect on the issues I have had in working relationships recently. I reminded myself of my own capacities, my strong rapport with most of the teachers in the school and the relationships I have with my kiddos.

I know the rest of this year is going to continue to be difficult. It seems unavoidable given certain constraints and the impending closure of the school after this year. But, I also have reminded myself by leaving the work day yesterday feeling proactive and influential in assisting my kids, that I have an important and special job to do. I am getting better at it all the time, and rather than bail because I am getting my first-likely not last- taste of a toxic professional, I need to stick this out. I need to be with my kids when their school closes in May and assist them to transition on. If I can make it through this year, I will be able to move on to another school location, where I already spend one day a week. There I will have the support of an awesome team, air conditioned classrooms, and more wonderful teachers to work with. I think as much as I bitch sometimes, I belong in the schools. I love these kids and believe with the right support, the power of a positive education will do so much for them. I just need to keep reminding myself of that on the tough days. . . .

Monday, November 03, 2008

LCSW Approval!

I got approved late last week to take my LCSW exam. They gave me flack about my time in England, as I knew they would. Once I clarified that my supervisor there was every bit, if not more so, qualified than many LCSWs here and they took it before their board, I got approved. Now comes the hard part. Once I have the funds, I will be signing up to take the test. The goal was Thanksgiving but now I think it will be Christmas. It all depends on when the test is available to take, which I will not know until I pay the fee. If I could get it done before the end of the year, though, it would be a nice bump in my salary to take us into 2009. Let the studying begin . . .

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Get over it!

Lately I have been suffering from an excessive bout of irrational jealously. Being a self-proclaimed social scientist and therapist, I should know how to deal with irrational thoughts. I do know how to deal with irrational thoughts. I am utilizing cognitive-behavioral interventions with clients all the time. But, I'm still an average human- not the super human counselor with a magic wand (that some parents expect me to be). Whether by my own doing or the fact that I used to attract jerks- likely a combination of the two- I think my relationship history poisoned my ability to have complete faith in my current healthy relationship. Don't confuse the word faith- I have nothing but faith and trust in my partner, our relationship and our future. I have never been more sure of anything in my life. Really, it's my own insecurities that get in my way. But, I can't help but freak out sometimes, completely without reason, regarding our pasts and how they may impact us now. It's been made very clear to me that they don't impact us. Sure, everyone's past impacts them and has some influence on who they are in the present. But the past is just that. Any one or any thing that may have effected me or others negatively in the past is done, and will never be a part of what's here and what's to come. What I have now is an amazing present and exciting future. I am the happiest I have ever been in my life and know it will only excel, which is what I must remind myself when these irrational thoughts attempt to creep in.

I read up a little on this, knowing there is some scientific evidence to this. It helps to know you are not the only one, right? Perhaps part of the catalyst for this rant. The Oxford English Dictionary relates the meaning of jealously to a belief in the presence of having a "rival." It is interesting that many people struggle with their partner's pasts. I think particularly those past relationships that were significant in emotional involvement or in the dramas that may have ensued, we tend to pinpoint those as rivals we need to compete with in order to vie for our lover's continued attention. This is, of course, ridiculous. If you know your partner and have an honest loving relationship, you should feel confident that any past persons will play no role in your current relationship or your future together. There is actually a psychological reference to extreme jealously of this sort, often dubbed "Othello Syndrome" for obvious reasons. Really though, those who reach such a significant level of jealously that it damages their relationships and interferes with their daily lives are likely suffering from other significant psychological difficulties, particularly tendencies toward anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. Luckily, I don't suffer from these issues at a level that I would allow any natural human sense of jealously to create a schism in my relationship. I would hope that anyone that did, would seek social or therapeutic support, as it is a form of anxiety that could be very toxic.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Links and stuff

So apparently I lost all my lovely links when I changed my blog template. For the best I suppose, I wanted to update them anyways. I will be adding some new ones when I have a chance, as well as other updates and posts.

Monday, October 13, 2008

An update via some rambling

Hello to my friends across the pond and any others that may read this. I am thinking, if anyone at all looks at this any more, it is a few folks I left behind in jolly old England in order to see what I am up to. Well clearly, coming on almost two years back now, I have not done well at keeping you informed. So, an update. A ramble, more likely. Hopefully the start of reinvigorating this blog. I doubt it will be the photo diary it once was, given I've had a harder time with the photos lately. But, more a chance for me to get some thoughts on a page- somewhere other than my head where I often tend to store them for too long.

So, since my last update a lot has changed in my life. I am still in the job I acquired when I returned home, but feeling more and more disenchanted by the day. I still find resilience and cope with the stress of my job through the slightest tokens of success I rarely receive from the kids and families I work with. I find though that it is getting harder and harder to put up with the lack of accountability that individuals take for their own choices and actions. Maybe I am becoming a better social worker without even realizing it. Perhaps my frustration will allow me to better empower people, rather than enable them to feel sorry for their predicaments, without instigating any change. I am up for my license soon, assuming (fingers crossed) there is no difficulty posed with my England hours on my application. I can't seem to bring myself to study for the test. I think Luke is right, I need to get approved to take it and sign up for the exam. Then I will have a tangible goal to study for. Right now it just seems to be floating out there- something I know I will accomplish soon, within the year, but can't seem to buckle down on it just yet.

Outside the professional realm, I am happier than I have ever been. I have met a wonderful guy (that dude Luke I mentioned above) who I will be marrying next year. It's wild to think a year ago I was trying to plan my life, sans male partner, thinking that I would never really be able to find someone I could put up with day in and day out, and who could put up with me. But, I would venture to say we put up with each other quite well. When I come home upset from the chaos of my job some days, he is able to use humor, affection and compassion to ground me and remind me of everything I have that is great. He's also able to put up with my irrational jealously and silliness that we girls tend to express. Come on girls, I know I am not the only one. But again, he is able to make me laugh and get past my silly stuff- my best friend and the person that knows me best.

Otherwise, the aspects of life are the same. My friends around me are growing and developing their own families and personal niches. My brother and sister in law continue to have the cutest kids around (in addition to my future additional niece, of course). My parents are living happily in Florida among the rest of the extended family. Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy my life here in Indy with-cliche as it sounds- a wonderful future ahead of us and will always be the social worker in a constant strange land.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Commemorating the Movement and struggling to keep it going

I went to the historic Madame Walker Theatre today to commemorate Martin Luther King Day and the things that he stood for. I think I counted about ten folk of Caucasian appearance, including myself. The event itself was from an Afrocentric perspective, but that does not mean that African American faces should be the only faces seen. I was moved by nearly every speaker and the performers that were in attendance had me in tears (course that's not hard to do with me, especially recently). The power of community and strength that came over me while I was present for this occasion was indescribable. While the focus was, as these days and events often preclude, on the struggles of Black Americans and the fact that (as was quoted today) only 50% of our African American children are completing high school, the rate of kids killing each other and using drugs seems it to be on the rise rather than decline, there was the overall message that I think needs to resonate more passionately with everyone. That change starts with you. And everyone, no matter what your background, is responsible for doing the best you can in your role in life and putting forth all that you can to allow for any possibility of change in our communities and in our world.

I get caught up in my own head a lot of the times. My own views and ventures to see and love everyone as an individual and to encourage peace drive my life as much as I can remind myself to allow them to each day. But so many people do not feel that way. I often get teased for being a "hippie" or for being too much of a pacifist, and have since I was very young. But I really do believe by treating others with a smile, utilizing the Golden Rule, "killing them with kindness" as my mother always said to me, we can all get a lot more accomplished in life and hopefully with that kindness empower others to do the same. I'm feeling very egocentric and perhaps definitely on my soap box, but I am proud that I was raised by parents who fostered mine and my brother's curiosity to travel, greet strange experiences with openness, and respect everyone that crossed our path. It drives a hunger that I think both my brother and I share. Neither one of us ever seem fully satisfied with what we are doing at that present moment. There is always more to be learned, more to experience, more to do. But, as I am often reminded and was today, while it is so important to constantly strive for change and growth and challenge those who resist it, it is also as equally important to be mindful of the present moment. What are you doing RIGHT NOW? How can you do it the best way possible to ensure that you are making a positive mark to the height of your capacity?

Myspace censoring art???

Does this image look pornographic or lude to you??? Is it because there are abstract circles signifying breasts??? I'm just not sure, could someone tell me? My Aunt Toni did this painting, which I think is lovely. She sent it to me as a birthday card. I have a few other paintings of hers as well as some of the paintings I have hanging in my house and some other favorite artists posted among my photos on Myspace. I received a message today that a photo had been removed because it "violated our Terms of Use. Our site is for people as young as 14, so we can't have certain kinds of pics (nude/sexually explicit, violence, material protected by copyright)."

So is this what we are getting to that we can't share a loved ones art of two abstract people happily dancing? Is it the pressure on Myspace to restrict potential risks to the younger users on the site, or is it Myspace trying to control the content of our pages to their liking? I am incredibly frustrated by this. Will I stop using the site, probably not, but I needed a brief vent at least.