Where Have I Felt This Before?

energy vampire

I recently realized that I have been sleeping on the job when it comes to minding my relationships. I have allowed someone who feels toxic get too close.

It happened gradually, little things that made me feel off.. an assertion of control here, manipulation there.. Then it became more apparent like attempts at isolation. Before I was even fully aware of it I was feeling dread when this person would reach out to me and finally realized I was actively avoiding this person. That is when I snapped out of it and realized what was going on.

I have been so busy I really haven’t had time for this person anyway which is why I don’t think this was on my radar. What really grabbed my attention was something that happened recently that felt like complete deja vu. I could not figure out what was causing the feeling then after meditation it all became clear. I have felt this before with other toxic relationships. The manipulation, the control, the attempts at isolation, the overall negative energy.. I realized the only reason I had not walked away yet is because every time I interact with this person they make multiple comments about how I am “the only one”, the “only person” they can talk to, or that they have for this reason or that. I didn’t realize how much I was internalizing these messages. I was keeping contact out of guilt, I am their “only one” for this reason or that.

Um, I did not sign up to be anyone’s “only” anything. Even my husband has relationships outside of our own. We are introverts but we have friends. I have been in friendships and intimate relationships where this kind of thing took place, never again.

Thankful for mindfulness and meditation. I am much more in tune with myself now than I ever was in my twenties.

 

Recharging

introvert

This is literally my day.

Last night we went out with friend for tapas and drinks (and impromptu dancing). It was a fun night with great company. Tonight we are going to get dinner and drinks with another married couple. Tomorrow is Easter. All of these plans are plans I know I will enjoy but it is also a lot for one weekend. Todd and I normally protect one day out of the weekend for just us, and when I say “us” that can mean different things. It can mean us spending time together or us spending time apart. We protect one day for introvert recharging time. This weekend we do not get a day and although we are excited about our plans we are sad we are losing our day.

While walking Lucy earlier we talked about it. The agreed upon solution was that once we got home from the walk we would have our introvert time for a few hours until we had to get ready to go out. It’s not a day but even a few hours is better than not having it at all.

Today my introvert time is spent reading, writing, drawing, sipping my unfinished coffee from the morning now put over ice, and listening to music in an otherwise quiet room of lit candles. I do not have a door to bolt in this room but Todd has shut himself up in his room so it feels about the same. Peaceful and quiet.

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Recipe for the Perfect Kid

I read this article earlier today and thought it sounded about right. Todd and I have talked before about the “parenting style” thing and agree that we are not into the idea that there is one right way to raise children. Also, we agree that committing to a certain “style” feels not only limiting but like a lot of undue pressure. I think being a parent comes with enough pressure, why add on?

I’d be willing to bet that all of these different styles have strengths and limitations and the whole thing seems much more subjective than maybe people want to believe. I am not sure that I believe there is one full-proof, objective, right way to do this. Parenting, caring for another human life, is not baking. There is not perfect recipe where if you follow each step precisely you are guaranteed the perfect kid. In that same breath making a mistake as a parent does not ultimately guarantee your child will grow up to be a sub par human being (if there even is such a thing), like a souffle that did not rise.

Clearly there are extremes that I am not accounting for, abuse, trauma, neglect.. This will all have an enormous impact on development but I am not talking in extremes for the point I am trying to make. I am simply saying parenting, like most things in life, exists in a gray area where there is no one right or wrong, good or bad, in terms of these different styles some of us seem to get caught up in.

 

 

A Really Big Week

Last night was the social work celebration that was put on by our professional association. I had rsvp’d a few weeks back, my supervisor has been honored as social worker of the year in central Florida and my brother has been honored as social work student of the year. I was really looking forward to attending my first social work celebration and celebrating my people. Half way through last week I got a call that changed things just a bit though.

I just happened to have my cell phone out on the desk when one of the faculty from my university called, they were calling to let me know that I was being recognized by my university/program as the BSW intern of the year. My supervisor was sitting next to me at her desk and could hear what was being said on the call, she started giggling. I turned to her laughing and said, “Diane what did you do?”

I was really touched. I know I am doing well in field, I love the work, this is has been a great learning experience for me, and I wake up each day excited for the what the day will hold. I have all of this without being recognized, it is always nice to be recognized for doing well though.

I think the timing is so interesting, it feels almost like a sign. This award comes in the same week that I experience a major win with clients in the community I care so much about, and right when I am getting back involved with the health clinic to help meet needs. Another big event this week is that I had my site visit with my professor. It was the best case scenario. Both my supervisor and my professor sang my praises. Under the area of “growth” on my professors form she said she had nothing to comment on because I am always working on growth on my own, she did not feel like she had to give me specific action steps because she knows I am always focused on it anyway. That was hugely validating for me. I am very concerned with my growth, I am always trying to learn, I am glad that is so apparent.

This week was a good week without any extra recognition, I am doing work I feel good about, I am seeing how my education really has prepared for me to do this work, I am seeing first hand how the macro and micro are connected. I feel good about where I am and my direction forward.

So last night Todd picked me up at the office and I got to celebrate my people while also celebrating my own personal wins.

As an aside, I really understand now what my professors were saying about the importance of networking when I first started the program. In a room full of social workers I realized I knew more than half the people in attendance. I am not even done with undergrad and I have made that many connections with practicing social workers. Not just that but I met someone new last night that sought me out to introduce herself. She said that three other social workers had told her about me and said that she needs to meet me. I knew who she was as soon as she told me her name, her reputation proceeded her as well. How amazing is that though?! I have made enough of an impression in this very small social work community that I belong to in central FL that people are saying, “you need to meet her”.

When I started this program I had goals for myself that included being involved and active in the community and makingĀ  a name for myself. I never imagined this is where I would be two years later. I am grateful for my growth, for my direction, for the work I have been able to do, and for the connections I have made. I feel like I am exactly where I am meant to be and it feels so good.

We Need to Talk About Sex

Yesterday my friend from school and I went to the local health clinic we supported last summer and dropped off male and female contraception. It was my hope to speak with our contacts at the clinic while we were there about what resources they have to address this need going forward, unfortunately everyone but the front desk employee was at lunch when we arrived.

This evening when I got home from internship I saw a text from my friend. When we left the clinic yesterday she agreed to send a follow up email to our contact at the clinic just to make sure she knows we dropped off the supplies and to ask them about their resources. Today she heard back and I was stunned to discover they have zero resources to speak to this need.

Last year when we were on campus at the high school this community clinic supports one of the employees mentioned the number of pregnancies at the school and how this results in high dropout/low graduation rates. The county is only allowed to teach abstinence which completely ignores what is actually going on with the students. This is where our class decided to get involved. We couldn’t provide contraception to the actual school but the free health clinic is right off campus and because it is not on campus they could accept the contraception and distribute it to students.

We provided 4-5 large boxes last summer and in less than 9 months they not only ran out but still have a high demand. The clinic pretty much said that they didn’t even realize how high the need was until we got involved last summer.

This is something I am really concerned about. I have reached out to two people I hope can help me figure out how to get the clinic connected.

In the interim I kind of feel like my head is going to explode with frustration at the system. I cannot handle how the county is still teaching abstinence in schools when the research and statistics show that teaching abstinence IS NOT EFFECTIVE! Teens are having sex, why are we, as adults, still in denial? We are failing our teens by burying our heads in the sand and ignoring their needs. We need to be teaching them how to be safe, we need to be talking about consent. We need to be providing contraception and birth control. We need to make them feel safe to talk about sex. We need to stop framing this as a moral issue, it is a social issue.

I. JUST. CAN’T.

 

 

 

I Built a Bridge

Yesterday I went on a home visit in the community I spent a great deal of time in over the course of undergrad. Last semester the research and work my classmate and I were doing had to be put on hold because of our increasingly busy schedules but I am still very interested in this community and it’s residents so I always look forward to an opportunity to work there.What I found yesterday is having the background knowledge I do on this community really can really make a difference when engaging with clients in the community.

We were there to see an older couple and unbeknownst to our team the couple did not make their family/caregivers aware we were coming. This is a tight knit community where people know their neighbors and outsiders are treated with great skepticism. Our patients greeted us warmly but the family treated us with mistrust initially and were clearly uncomfortable with our presence in the home, it felt like they thought we had an ulterior motive for being there.

Our lead doctor introduced the team and explained the reason for the visit but the tension in the room did not lift. After taking vitals and reviewing one of the patient’s medications half of the team left the room to go inspect a hospital bed in the bedroom that was reported to not work properly. This left myself, a med student, and the chaplain with the two patients and their still very suspecting family to sit together staring at each other.

When we arrived I noticed on the doorstep the year 1941 had been written in the pavement. I asked the patient if she had grown up in the community and she confirmed my guess, that she had in fact grown up in this very house. The patient told us the story of how her father built the home with the help of neighbors in 1946 (apparently I misread the year but that is ok) and then turned around and helped those neighbors build their homes. We talked about the local school she went to, back then there were still schools in the community, and how after she finished school there was no work so she moved to NY which is where she met her husband.

I asked her if she or her family ever went to the local hotel/casino in the community growing up, knowing that was a big part of the community back then and that celebrities such as Jackie Robinson would stay there when they came to town. I know some history about the community from my research and from speaking to residents but never have I had the opportunity to speak to anyone her age who has truly seen how the community has changed over the years.

This also gave us a chance to connect with her family because this is their history too. They all grew up in this community, they all had a story for us. By the end of the conversation everyone in the room, our team and the family, were taking part. Our patient’s have been married for 66 years, the wife was giving our med student advice on how to make a relationship last, “trust”, “love”,”you have to believe in each other” and know “it ain’t a bed of roses”.

By the end of the home visit the family had completely opened up, they were working with the doctors to brainstorm the best course of care for the patients, what the next steps should be to address current conditions, and questions were raised and answered. At the beginning of the visit I honestly thought they might throw us out because they seemed so unsure of our being there in the first place, at the end we couldn’t get out the door because they kept thinking of more questions.

While I waited on the side walk outside with some of the team, the rest had been pulled back in again for more questions, one team member madeĀ  a comment about how rude one of the family members had been at the beginning. I knew the behavior she was referencing had nothing to do with manners or rudeness. I explained to her about the level of oppression this community has historically faced and about the gentrification and how the community views outsiders.. By having just a little knowledge about where your clients are coming from it can give so much context to what is actually happening in a encounter.

To someone on the outside what took place in there may just look like a conversation but I know that conversation built a bridge, a bridge of trust that our team was able to cross to then work with the family. If that conversation had not happened, if we had not taken an interest and showed the client’s and the family that we really do care and are interested I do not know that the appointment would have been as productive.

For me yesterday was a good day. Maybe it was just a conversation but I feel really good about my contribution.

Drawing with all my girls

Saturday night Todd and I were outside playing the kids, he was playing basketball with Isaac, Maddie and I were drawing on the front porch with chalk. The rest of the family came out with the babies, who are now roughly a year and three months. Cassie has started walking and Emma does a crab walk of sorts but is soon to follow in her sister foot steps, literally. So the girls toddled out to see what Maddie and I were doing. I handed a piece of chalk to Cas, closely watching to make sure it didn’t end up in her mouth, I took her hand and showed her how the chalk could make marks on the ground. From there she started scraping it against the ground drawing. Then Emma came over plopped down and followed suit.

There we were, me and my three girls drawing on the front porch. Mom and Kris were snapping pictures and I just sat there thinking, this is the very first time I am drawing with the babies. Maddie and I draw together all the time, it is one of our special things, but I don’t remember the first time we did, this was sweet.

By the time we were done all three girls were covered in a rainbow of color. I helped bathe and dress the babies then sat with Maddie while she took her bath. We talked about what she is doing in school, she showed me how she can count by 5’s and 10’s, we counted together. She told me that when Uncle Todd and I have babies she hopes we have girls and that we should name them Rosie and Flowery Elsa. She said if we have a boy we could name him Snowflake Jr (Snowflake is her elf on the shelf). Then we talked about our summer sleep over and all the fun things she wants to do.

After I washed her hair, brushed it, and got her in her jammies we built a fort out of sheets and sat in it with all her stuffed animals talking more about her plans for our summer sleepover. Isaac joined us and built legos while we all talked.

I love all the one on on time I get with the kids. I know at some point they will have other things they want to do than play with Auntie so I want to soak it all up while I have it. Life is really busy right now and there are always things going on, I am so grateful for all these little moments with them. Watching the babies draw, talking with Maddie, brushing her hair, sitting in a sheet fort with the kids, really grateful for it all.

 

Safe to be Loved

Todd and I attended a wedding for a friend this weekend. I have had a few opportunities to celebrate her recently and I am so honored. Life accomplishments are so exciting but when you are coming from a place where maybe you thought for a while some of these things were out of reach.. it is more than exciting. It is special, special in a way that few understand.

She has celebrated me during my recent life events, marriage, buying a home, acceptance to grad school.. I am glad to be a part of her special moments now. At her reception her mother gave a speech that left few with a dry eye, especially those of us who know my friend’s story. During her speech she thanked her new son-in-law for making my friend feel safe to accept love. It was so beautiful, their love is so beautiful, I am so happy for her.

I too am grateful to have found someone who made it feel safe for me to accept love. I am grateful for all the people in my life who have made me feel safe to accept love.

todd n me

You, Me, and A Blank Canvas

Friday was my day off from internship. I cleaned, I read, I painted my nails, wrote a paper.. It was relaxing and by the time Todd got home I felt good about what I got done. That evening Todd grilled, I roasted some root vegetables, and one of my friends came over for dinner, drinks, and painting.

It was a great night. Talking, laughing, listening to music, and creating. Recently I was talking with someone about painting and other aspects of creativity and just how vulnerable being creative can feel. I know that for me it is maybe not something I could do in the company of just anyone, but her company was perfect.

paint5

paint6

Learning so Much

This week was full of firsts at my internship, it was a long week but I learned a lot. I made my first DCF call this week. I wasn’t that intimidated by it, I was excited that my supervisor was letting me call while she stood by in case I needed her. When the person taking my information actually answered it hit me though. Suddenly I was very aware of every word coming out of my mouth, I wanted to make sure I was very clear and objective in what I was reporting. I did end up having my supervisor step in and help just to make sure nothing was left out. Overall that was a great first experience for me. Not great that I had to make the call, I never want to have to call, but it was not as scary as I thought.

This week I also shadowed in the hospital. I was in the E.D. and at mother-baby. I again learned so much. This was my very first hands on experience with hospital social work and while I liked the work we were doing on the whole I would say that based solely on this experience I do not know that hospital social work is for me. I know this is a very limited view of the work though. I did get to assist with two clients which was nice. I learned about a lot of resources that were new to me (a big one was inpatient facility that treat addiction, eating disorders etc). I also learned a lot about the challenges that come with working on the mother-baby floor. There are a lot more dcf calls than I realized for one. This is another area I do not think I could work long term, I think my boundaries would be awful, I would want to take all the babies home with me. I am half joking when I say that but I do think it would be really hard and would take a big emotional toll.

I am really grateful my supervisor allows me to go on these field trips. I am learning so much this semester and really building my confidence.

In other social work news, I attended the mock site visit this week with five other students. We had, what felt like, a really productive meeting. At one point the mock auditor asked us about the work the program has allowed us to do outside of the classroom and one of the students looked to me and said I should be the one to speak to this (knowing how involved I have been in the community). As I explained the different opportunity for engagement the program has provided me it really gave me a chance to reflect on the impact I have had. I am so thankful for that as well. I have made some really meaningful connections and been able to do work that I feel good about. Tomorrow my girlfriend from school and I are going back to the free community clinic our class supported last summer to drop off contraception, talk about sex, and help connect the clinic with resources for long term support. This would not be happening without this program.

Tomorrow is a day off for me. I am excited for little things like checking in with the community clinic, having a chance to get ahead on school work, painting my nails, and maybe even watching a documentary. A bath, a long hot bath, that sounds so nice. It i the little things. Hell maybe I will really get wild and paint, I have a canvas that has been calling my name for weeks.

 

 

Magnetism

Someone said something to me today that made me reflect on how I spent my weekend and who I spent it with.

“Have you ever experienced that feeling when you see someone across a room and you feel pulled towards them, like you know you need to speak with them”..

I thought about it, I definitely know that feeling, many times over in fact.

This weekend Todd and I attended a charity event in support of a friend, who is a survivor, and was speaking at the event. She is one example of this phenomenon in my life. The universe put us in each other’s paths many years ago, our energies were drawn towards each other. I was overcome with light and love listening to her share some of her experience this weekend. I know she was nervous, she was amazing though and I am sure I am not the only one that felt touched by her.

My heart was so open after starting the day on such a beautiful note that I was open to receive a new energy later that day. Todd and I attended the Bernie Music Festival and I personally felt very connected to the sense of community at this event. When we arrived we found a table outside where the first band was setting up. There were vendors set up around us, it felt like Lollapalooza on a much smaller scale and with a stronger sense of connectedness.

There was a woman sitting alone at the table next to us, not long after sitting down she turned and started speaking with us. We spoke for well over an hour. This event created a space where I think people felt safe to have a dialogue about issues that are important to them without fear of backlash. It was really nice. She is a law professor, we made a fast connection and exchanged information to keep in touch. How often does that happen in life that you can walk into a space filled with strangers and so easily make a meaningful connection?

After the event we got back to the car where I had left my phone and I found that I had a missed text from one of my favorites. We met her an hour later and had a great time with her and a few of her friends. I danced all night, I was pure joy.

This morning I woke up gradually and sipped on iced coffee while I got ready for a workshop I was attending in the afternoon. I spent the afternoon painting, writing, meditating, and discussing love and acceptance with other women. Again my heart felt open. Sharing this space of vulnerability, creativity, and love with others was a wonderful way to close what was a very special weekend.

I spent my time supporting those I love, allowing others to support me, dancing, talking, hugging, laughing, writing, painting, in quiet reflection, and cloaked in love.

hannah

marie

A Different Perspective on the End-of-Life Discussion

Today I attended a training that was being put on by the fellows for the residents on how to discuss advanced directives. This comes up a lot during internship for me and it is relevant to the work I want to do in the future so I was intrigued to get a different take on having the conversation. It was really interesting, after discussing some of the basics (DNR, Five Wishes etc) the residents broke into groups and conducted roles plays to practice having the conversation with patients.

Watching the doctors do role plays was way different than my experience with role plays in social work. I think it was a good learning experience for all of us though. The last vignette was not the ideal situation in terms of advance care planning. Ideally I think the idea is to start having this conversation with patients and caregivers while the patient is in good health before a crisis. This way everything is in order and everyone is on the same page in the event of a medical emergency or just general decline. The last vignette I think was maybe a bit more realistic though because unfortunately sometimes advance care plans are not made before but rather during a crisis.

In this role play the patient was being told that the cancer they had been receiving treatment for had metastasized and that their oncologist had made the determination that the patient was terminal. In this scenario the patient did not seem to grasp the prognosis and was wanting to do everything possible, even things that were not medically possible, in order to get better.

I have never seen a doctor diagnose a patient as terminal, I have seen a patient receive bad news though and it can be heart breaking. The “doctor” in this role play was a medical student so (although I do not know this for sure) I am willing to bet that she probably has not had to have this conversation with a patient yet. I was really impressed with how she handled the situation. I have no idea what this is supposed to look like, I have no clue if the other doctors present thought she did well or not, but I thought she showed great empathy while relaying the information in a direct way and in concrete terms in order to avoid confusion. From there she discussed end of life planning which again I thought she did beautifully.

It must be so difficult to be the one responsible for delivering life changing news like that, it gave me a lot of compassion for what that must feel like for doctors in that position.

Today’s training gave me a new perspective on material I am already familiar with, I am glad I was able to participate.

In other news I just rsvp’d for the NASW social work month celebration event that is going on at the end of the month. I have no clue what to expect but I am sure it will be nice. I am hoping some of my friends from the program will be going so I will have a chance to catch up with them. This is such a busy semester for all of us though that I am not going to hold my breath.

Tomorrow my supervisor, myself, and my colleague from the program are meeting with another local agency to learn more about their services. This is an important meeting because we refer a lot of clients to this agency and I do not fully understand how they work so I am excited to learn more what they do.

 

Planning for Company

 

I recently found out that Todd’s best girlfriend from college is coming down this summer to stay with us and I cannot wait. I am sure we will stay at the beach for a few days while she is here, as is custom with her visits. I am thinking she might be bringing her new S.O with her this time so I am excited to meet him if he is able to come.

I just have to say how much I love this girl. Fr many reasons really, she is so genuine and herself and I am so drawn to that, she is an avid reader, she has the best recipes for everything, and she is just a gentle human being. The first time we met I was picking her up at the airport because Todd was working, we connected instantly on that car ride back to the house. Since we first met it has always felt safe to be completely myself with her, that is so special and I do not take it for granted.

I am really excited about and grateful for the time we will get to spend with her this summer. I am thankful to have people in my life that I feel excited about, she is certainly not the only one.

Social Work Month

1social work

Is it just me or is March an outrageously busy month? Between social events, spring break (that has been relevant in prior years, this year not so much), Easter, classes, and this year my internship.. It feels like this month is an explosion of activity.

On top of all of this March is social work month. I think this is the first year I have actually gone out of my way to recognize that, years prior it seems to get lost in everything else that happens in March.

This year since I am internship though there is more of a reminder. So here are some social work related things going on with me this month:

This year our program is going through the re-accredidation process and our program head reached out to me and some other students to ask if we would be the student representatives who meet with individuals from the organization who we be on campus to do this. Luckily I was somehow able to fit this into my schedule so this will be taking place over the course of the next month starting next Tuesday. I do not know what to expect but that is the point of next Tuesday’s meeting, it is a training (of sorts) and kind of a simulation to prepare us.

In April I will be co-facilitating a group at the bereavement day camp for kids I volunteer with twice a year. November was my last camp and it went really well. This will be my third time co-facilitating with an LCSW and I have been assigned to the same age group from last time, I am really looking forward to it.

There is a lot I could say about what I am doing in field right now. The most exciting, out the norm, thing coming up is that I will be shadowing an MSW at the hospital next week who works in maternity, they call it mother-baby. That is a far cry from the work I do on the end-of-life side of the spectrum. I am really looking forward to it. That will be a very new experience for me, I am sure it will be eye opening.

While I have been in field this semester I have still had opportunity to stay connected with the community outside of my internship (I really don’t know how time has allowed for it). Last month I helped coordinate a contraception drop off at a local health clinic that supports an area high school that I worked with last summer. I have also continued to be involved with hospice, however less active because of time constraints. Next month is our semi-annual memorial service for all the patients who passed on our services in the last 6 months. I participated last fall and it was very meaningful. I have also had the opportunity to stay in touch with my friends at hospice through referrals I have made for clients, and friends unfortunately, this semester.

So those are all my relevant updates for the social work stuff I am involved in during our special month. In closing I want to share an article I read this morning. One big take away I had is how we may be don’t do enough to promote ourselves and our profession. We need to be talking about what we do and why it is important.
Self-promotion is not really a social work value but advocacy is and this article does a great job of highlighting how important our role in society is.

Social Work has Become the 21st Century Law Degree

Politicians in FL before the Primary

bernie

Last weekend turned out to be really fun. Todd and I went to his work banquet Saturday night, so glad I found the dress I did, I fit right in without standing out (which was the goal). It was by far the most formal event I have attended as an adult, weddings included. It fell like a super swanky adult prom, and there I was just trying not to spill food on my gown. It worked out fine.

Saturday was also the Trump protest on campus and from what I hear it went well also. It sounds like it was mostly peaceful, glad to hear that.

Technically this week is spring break although I am in internship all week so it doesn’t really feel like it. Today was my day off so I cleaned, ran errands, and met a girlfriend from school for lunch downtown at one of the vegan cafes. We talked internship experiences, graduation, grad school (we are both accepted), and her birthday which is around the corner. It was a blast. After lunch I had to run an errand downtown before returning home and while I was out she texted me. Apparently Bernie is going to be local for a rally on Thursday! She can’t go but knew I would be interested, so glad she shared that with me! I already rsvp’d, now I just need to talk to Todd and see if he can get off.

This Saturday is the Bernie Music Fest in the Milk District which Todd and I have been really looking forward to, it would be so great to attend an actual rally though if we can make it work with our schedules.

A Matter of Life and Death

I was listening to NPR on my way in this morning and they were speaking to this documentary film maker about her most recent documentary. The documentary is about a woman in Pakistan who defied her father’s wishes and eloped, a familial crime that is apparently punishable by death. After her wedding her father and uncle found her, shot her, and threw her body in a river as a message to her sisters and other women in their village about what happens when you disobey the men. To the shock of many she survived this attack, was able to get help, and upon recovery file a police report that led to the arrest of her father and uncle.

The story was horrifying but unfortunately not shocking. A while back I watched a documentary called It’s a Girl that discusses how some cultures do not value female life. It covered infanticide and how some cultures view females as a burden on the family. Females are seen as objects that the male heads of the family own and can use as a way to achieve financial gain.

When I got into the office my supervisor and I talked about it at length while we walked over to the cafeteria, she had been listening on her drive in as well. I am really looking forward to watching the documentary in its entirety.

 

 

 

Who Were You Back Then?

I was skimming an article today written by women who were talking about who their mother’s lives before they became mothers. I often think about who my mother was before I came into her life, before she became a mother. I also think about her mother, my Nana, who was she when she only belonged to herself and not her children/grandchildren?

I also often think about my future daughter, should I be so lucky to have one. I wonder if she will wonder these same things about me.

My ponderings about my mother, and even more so about my Nana, go deeper than just wondering what they liked and how they behaved.. There has been a cycle of turmoil in the mother/daughter relationships in my family (my mother and I, her mother and her, and maybe even my Nana and her mother – but I do not know about the latter). I have taken many steps to break the cycle now in my relationship with my mother in order for it not to carry on to the next generation. Bluntly put, I do not want the relationship with my daughter that I have had previously with my mother. I want more for her and I want more for myself.

Because my Nana died when I was 9 I have never known who she really was. I have very few memories of her, the most prominent is of sitting on a porch swing with her and offering to share my Sprite. When she took a sip she was caught off guard because she had thought it was water, I remember thinking that was funny. For the rest of my life anytime this kind of thing happens (mistaking a food or drink for a different food or drink) I think of her. We only have a few heirlooms, her Christmas ornaments, an old radio cabinet, her costume jewelry, and a few dishes.. All of which I cherish deeply. They are little clues into this woman I never really knew.

What I have heard about my mother’s relationship with her mother only gives me bits and pieces of a picture, I can tell there is a lot of pain there for my mom. My aunt, my mom’s sister, is aware of the interest I have always had in my Nana so a few years ago she started sharing photos with me that she has of her mother from when Nana was younger. This is one of my favorites.

03-06-2016 07;08;12PM

I have no idea how old Nana is here, her twenties maybe. She looks so happy sitting on that wall with the ocean behind her. Was this taken in Rhode Island where her immigrant parents owned a restaurant and bar near the ocean? Was this taken after she married Papa? Was this taken in Portugal or Greece where her parents were originally from? I have no way to know, I do not know this woman.

Her younger photos show a woman who is stylish, always with heels and a skirt, many times a hat and fun accessories. She always looks so put together. This is not the woman I know from stories though. I do not know these stories, the stories about who she was then.

 

03-06-2016 07;09;15PM

This is a picture of the woman I knew, however briefly. This might be the last picture of her with her grandchildren before she died. I believe I was about 9 in this photo.

My Nana was not a part of my life when I was very young. I might have seen her a few times a year, if that. By the time I saw her again she had bone cancer and was terminal. I did not fully understand this. I was just excited to see her after so long. The woman in this photo is not the woman I shared my sprite with. I do not feel like I know this woman any better than the woman in the first photo.

My mother has said that she has a journal of Nana’s from her first years of marriage before she had children. She has said that she would share it with me but has not yet followed through. I do not push it because I think it might be sacred to my mother. Her family life was difficult and that journal may show her a side of her parents she did not know. It might tell stories of when they were happy, I do not know how that would make her feel. Glad to know that her parents were at one time in love and happy, or sad that she did not experience that with them.

I do not think my relationship with my mother has ever been as difficult as the one I think she had with Nana, and mine with my mother has certainly gotten better in recent years. I hope when I have children one day, specifically a daughter, she has a chance to ask questions about who my mother was before she was my mother, and who I was before I was her mother. I will always be her mother, my mom will always be grandma, but especially as we get older I think there is something really specially about getting to connect with the actual woman and not just the role she plays in your life.

 

 

Standing Up for What You Believe In

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Saturday a presidential candidate who has been garnering much media attention will be holding a rally locally and the venue chosen just happened to be my university. I personally find this to be unfortunate because much of what I have heard from him sounds xenophobic, sexist, racist, and generally hateful fear mongering. With that being said, it appears there are plenty of people who do not share my view of him that plan to attend this event in support of the candidate. Such is their right.

One of my colleagues in the program shared a link to a peaceful protest that is being organized on campus Saturday against the candidate and in one day more 2,ooo people expressed and interest in going, myself included.

When my colleague first shared the link I was kind of excited by the proposition of a peaceful protest where I could stand with like minded people against all of these things I feel so strongly against. Throughout the course of the day though as the movement gained popularity I started to feel the idea of peaceful protest was beginning to devolve into something that felt too close to what I wanted to stand up against. I am hoping I am wrong about this but either way what I was seeing posted on the page was enough to make up my mind for me.

I understand the frustration that so many people are feeling, I feel it too but historically meeting hate with hate has never solved anything. There is nothing peaceful about some of what I am seeing being proposed and while I am sure the actions of a few are not representative of the many who truly do want to hold a peaceful protest, I started thinking there has to be another way to stand up for what I believe in a way that feels right to me.

Next Saturday Todd and I are attending a Bernie event downtown so we have decided that we will donate to his campaign while there and see how we can possibly get more involved locally with a candidate we do support rather than one we do not.

I fully support my friends and family who plan to attend the protest, I hope they are able to stand up for love and acceptance both peacefully and safely. I look forward to hearing all about it after and for myself I will put my energy into what feels right for me.

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