Family, Love & Marriage, Uncategorized

Conscious Coupling

So Gwenyth Paltrow and Cold Play front man, Chris Martin, have done the “honorable” thing and used social media to announce their break up (sarcasm dripping from my proverbial pen). Titled “Conscious Un-Coupling” (the term that will have all word connoisseurs digging out their Urban Dictionary), this short-paragraphed statement sent the goop website into crash mode with readers scrambling to find and try to make sense of it all.

Apparently, the term is based on an approach in psychotherapy geared towards work that is done with divorcing couples or rather those who want to create yet another way of justifying why we can opt out of marriage. The premise behind consciously uncoupling is it determines how to “lovingly complete a relationship” so one can “make emotional breakthrough in the way you show up in your life and in the way you show up in your next relationship”. As if to say part of walking away from one commitment is to get ready for the next commitment, and the next.

The doctors at the end of Paltrow’s blog justify un-coupling as part of a solution for this generation of people who are living too long to actually be able to live with one person for a lifetime. I’m just through dealin’ on that one.

They got one thing right in all of this. Coupling is in fact a conscious act. When you lie and wake next to someone for years, it was to know that you consciously recognized that on the mornings you awoke upset, you made a conscious effort to fight through the red haze of anger. On the days when your spouse couldn’t move from surgery and depended on you to wash their toes in the tub, you made a conscious effort to heed the “in sickness” part of that pretty speech you said years ago.

It takes conscious effort to put marriage first for the sake of our children. That putting children first and deciding to walk away from one’s marriage isn’t really putting the children first, rather putting self first.

Where are you on this conscious-uncoupling wave? Are you the come hell or high water type or the one who jumps ship at the drop of trouble? What are some marriage deal breakers? Is there such a thing as friends after marital separation? Can divorced couples ever become conscious enough to co-parent in a healthy way? Share your thoughts.

Here’s the link to Gwenyth’s words: http://www.goop.com/journal/be/conscious-uncoupling

20140326-083349.jpg

Current Events, Family, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized

Little Black Boys

I have always been a sucker for little black boys with beautiful eyes and gorgeous smiles. Something they all seem to have at that age. When they grow up to be handsome young men I am thankful to say I knew them when.

Not all of our little black boys are making it into full manhood safely these days. Of the many that came through my doors in my years as a school social worker, I can count on only a few set of hands how many made it to post secondary education. College education for me isn’t the litmus test but it represents a safe haven and a sifter for the many black men who have managed to beat the odds that are stacked against them. College is that holding place where I would know that both learning would take place and that for a moment in time, our black males can be held safe.

I spent half my time jamming common sense and wisdom down my youngest brother in law’s throat during his adolescence years. Angry the day he came home wearing a long baggy white shirt instead of the uniformed ones that were waiting freshly pressed in the closet. You look like a thug crossing that bridge to school on Miami Beach I said. Me and his brother, my husband, would have knock down drag out debates on how to best reinforce pro social behaviors. Society won’t be too friendly to him and we have to prepare him now I said.

He spent most of his days rubbing elbows with children of TV executives and diplomats and most of his nights on the football field. We kept him too busy and too tired to care about much of what was taking place on the block. Yet on that winter break when he was home from college and tied up with other friends, detained by police down the street, we would remind him that you can’t take everybody where you’re going. When a friend of his, another college student, would witness a childhood friend shot and killed right next to him, we remind him yet again, you need new friends.

No child should have to be told that they have to forsake their childhood friends. No child should have to be told to stay away from their running buddy, the friends who they rode bikes with and enjoyed living out their youth with. Yet it’s become our reality.

I worry about my brother in law sometimes. I worry that he is losing his core identify as he slowly loses friends. They aren’t all dying but they are dying little deaths in the form of drug abuse, a life of violence, and social immobility. Relationships he formed are slowly losing their depths as his quest for personal achievements and dare I say survival takes precedence.

Our roots are what keep us grounded and as more of our young black boys’ blood seep through these concrete streets, those who are left behind begin to stand alone.

Faith

Nothing Is Impossible

I have recently re-discovered Readers Digest as a treasure trove of written wisdom. I came across an article about a self-described former drunk on a mission to bring back the massive sequoia trees that have stood on this earth for thousands of years. These massive trees barely dot the surface of this earth today. Everyone thought he was a crackpot. God bless his wife and sons who stood by him. It’s impossible people said. Yet his cloning has since produced replica plants of those planted by George Washington himself. His mission to restore the redwoods is still on track. “Nothing is impossible,” he said.

The word impossible brings us angst and tension. It denotes waiting or in the King James way of speaking, it reminds us that we are in “long suffering.” No one wants to wait on anything. Especially when it seems as if a conclusion will never come.

In Genesis 18, God had to take Abraham aside and I’d like to think the conversation went like this.
God: Did Sarah just really laugh at what I said about her having this baby in her old age? Abraham: Well God, you know women. They have to see the end game of everything before they can believe it. God: The nerve! Is there anything too hard for The Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and you WILL have had this son. Only God can speak in third person and get away with it!

God is hilarious like that. He asks questions and doesn’t wait for responses. That’s his classic modus operandi in that he takes what seems impossible and reminds us that for him NOTHING is impossible! That job that seems beyond your reach. That marriage that’s not currently in sync. That relationship that’s taken a turn for the worse. That depression that’s taking you into darker places. He has already declared, NOTHING is impossible for God.

So as the former drunk continues on his mission of restoration of beautiful trees across this land, he tells the writer of the article that in truth, nothing is impossible. Impossible just takes longer.

20140324-075854.jpg

Uncategorized

These Old Keys Won’t Work

I’m a Pinterest junkie. I’m pinning anything from Spring fashion to funny Tshirt quotes to how to get these short legs to look like Carrie Underwood’s long ones. Hey, some of this stuff is reachable others not so much but I digress.

I did come across a quote that I could start reflecting on right away. It read “Old ways won’t open new doors.” Old as in things that have expired, of no use, and have reached its end. New as in fresh, not existing before, or current.

Everyone will reach a juncture in their life when decisions have to be made. I have found that these junctures are coming a mile a minute for me. Each time I turn around there’s a choice I have to make, one that can’t be put off. The keys that may have fit before just aren’t working this time around.

Isaiah 43 reminds me that it’s pointless to remember the “former things” cause God promises to bring about something new. In bringing that something new, it means I have to drop some old habits and even just how I think about certain things.

I have always been disciplined but I realized that I needed to take things up a notch professionally and personally. One such new way for me was handling social media differently. When I realized Facebook was where I was getting my news, that worried me. This is the same girl who read her entire 1987 World Book Encyclopedia in middle school! I had reached an all time personal low. So I dumped Facebook for Pulse and Ted Talk. Now I get my news on faith, psychology, fashion and anything else that strikes my fancy the way I need to: without the “do it for the Vine” drama.

You will find new ways will alienate you from some people and that may be uncomfortable in the beginning. You may find that new ways will be misunderstood. Folks will think you’re on this personal “diva trek” to an imaginary mountain top. They will smirk behind their hands. That comes with the territory. Keep it moving.

Insanity for me was trying to tackle new things with old approaches. The straight jacket wasn’t a good look and I needed to get out that padded room. I got these new set of keys jangling in my pocket and am headed to the next set of doors.

20140322-093352.jpg

Career

Social Work Month: Why Social Work Is Sexy Part Trois

I love my job. I cannot say it enough. We are a ways away from the soup kitchen, child snatching images that have been society’s idea of what we do. I shun family member’s hidden disappointments of nursing/lawyering/doctoring dreams deferred. Rather, I embrace days and hours that never look the same.

Today I sat with a client and watched her mind go from zero to one-hundred in one hour. It was refreshing to have someone hear her out for a change. Someone who “gets it” in a judgment free zone; someone who walks away making no promises other than “let’s do this again next week.”

Today I sat stunned to watch the face of a former client caught in a hale of bullets now laying in a hospital bed tonight. The picture on my phone of a youthful face, whose tomorrow is now uncertain. I recall an unmet need and the limits of my willpower and my reach.

An exhilarating and ever humbling experience is my norm as a social worker. No two clients, story, life, moment is ever alike.

Uncategorized

Social Work Month: Why Social Work Is Sexy Part Deux

Three times a year I make it my business to trek 20 miles to my alma mater, Florida International University and sit on a Humanities class panel of guest speakers. It’s the least I can do for the school where I got my first degree in this field. This year I went on my birthday of all days and had my hubby in tow. Wondering all the while, why do I still do this? Then looking into the fresh faces of these students, I remember why I will come every time they call.

The Millenials are at such a loss, gripped in fear of making the wrong degree choice, paying too much money, and not landing a job right after college. I have sat next to FBI agents, attorneys, journalist, educators among others. No student ever thinks first to consider social work. So I come and play part life coach and part social work salesman, angling to make my profession look sexier than a Sports Illustrated Model.

My Spiel
-No we don’t take children out of homes. That’s what case managers (not to be confused with social workers) do.
-Yes, my clients come in every income bracket, every God-made shade, and every zip code.
-Yes, if you are ADD, OCD, ADHD with a hint of narcissism, then you will enjoy one minute sitting at your desk working on a substance abuse data report then in the next grabbing your bag and heading off to a school crisis. Such is the life of a school social worker.
-If you have no qualms about sitting on a crate in a leaky home or on a Louis XVI chair in a hi-rise condo, then this might be the career for you. Such is the life of a home health medical social worker.
-If you plan on writing a book or a Hollywood script one day, you will certainly not lack for themes and narratives to choose from; we can’t make this stuff up people. It’s all true!

So I won’t get tired of fighting traffic and that god-awful parking system to put my profession in the spotlight. As long as there will be human beings, there will always be a need for this profession.

20140307-060720.jpg

Uncategorized

Social Work Month: Why Social Work Is Sexy

My profession celebrates for an entire month. I’m sure the nurses are like “we get a week and how did they end up with a whole 31 days?!” Well who else can celebrate us but ourselves? It’s thirty-one days of asserting ourselves in the professional landscape and reminding our peers in other disciplines that we put SOCIAL in social work.

Kings With Common Touch
We are a long way from the soup kitchen case management life of Hull House. Social workers can be found working in human resource using personal and emotional intelligence to assist in the hiring process. Businesses recognize that company growth and effectiveness hinges upon capacity building a workforce that is emotionally and mentally prepared to be productive in the job setting.

We Are Better Than Fortune-Tellers
Those in this field have a knack for understanding human nature. We recognize the complexities of the mind and respect the power of the brain to heal itself after great trauma. Best person on your team to have is a social work colleague who digs deeper than the obvious and arrives at a meaningful conclusion that is grounded on both theory, experience, and the good old hunch.

And I’m just beginning!

I have got a whole month to stand on my band wagon, beat my own drum and toot my own horn.