Thursday, August 5, 2010

? can't quite get a hold of what that is. I wish I knew what I'm so anxious about so I could make it stop!!!
? Arggh! I feel like such a mess right now but I cannot figure out why. There is something about this new client that is apparently freaking me out, but I

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Emotional Storm

So my now former client just came and picked up his stuff. And he was himself. Or at least, he presented the way I had become accustomed to seeing him. And when he left, I could not keep from crying. My heart just wants to take him back into the program and try to keep moving forward with him. But then, he hasn't even asked for that.

It just breaks my heart.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I've been burying myself in TV for over three days now; buried under blankets, snuggled with my dog, battling a cold and who knows what else. Tomorrow I need to go back to work and deal with the next phases of a drama that began unfolding a week ago; a drama I've been doing everything possible to keep out of my mind because of the pit it creates in my already-upset-stomach.

I'm not sure what I'm so upset about. The drama is not my fault; it is not the direct result of choices or actions on my part. And yet, it has me feeling like a professional failure. I've decided to put out my emotional diarrhea on this issue here so that I can hopefully move beyond it tomorrow when I go back to work.

I've been at this job for just about 4 months now. My 90 day review was positive. Overall I have felt positive and productive with the work. In the past month and half, my first two clients both chose to leave our program, each in their own destructive way. The first was disappointing, but not overly surprising. The second was much more disappointing, but only a little less surprising.

I can't say for sure that I specifically failed. But my physical stress makes it clear I am not at ease over this. I'm sure I've crossed some personal, emotional boundaries in my attachment to my clients. I'm stumbling all over the line between nurturing support and strict accountability. I think I've leaned to far to the nurturing side; but I truly believe that in order to help these men build new lives I must show them trust and respect first. But in working with a population that survives on manipulation, how do I uphold that belief without setting myself up? That, I just don't know how to answer.

Bottom line - tomorrow I need to be able to go in, deal with the situation at hand, then begin brainstorming how to adjust the program to improve our chance of success in the future. I somehow need to disengage my personal feelings for the clients and my own professional skills so I can be thoughtful and productive.

And of course, I've got at least three different illness issues going on now. Ok, whining done. Here's hoping for a good night's sleep and a miraculous return to health in the morning.

Friday, June 11, 2010


The past few months have been a blur. A good blur. An exciting blur. A sometimes overwhelming blur. But I love it. My new job is great. My boss, coworkers are great. My clients are challenging but interesting. I'm learning a lot and I do feel like I'm making a small difference. Everything I wanted.

But I've been so overwhelmed by work and am still so protective of my health (even though I'm feeling really good) that I've basically been ignoring my friends, my communities. And that is not cool.

So here's my promise for the summer: to find the balance between work and play, to remember that my friends and family are just as important as my clients, and to continue to improve my health by feeding my heart and soul through my engagement with my friends.

To everyone I've ignored, not gotten back to, etc., I am very, very sorry. I love you all and I can't imagine my life without you. I'm sending hugs and promising phone calls!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lenten Practice Reflections

I really, really suck at blogging. Clearly. That, and the last few weeks have been super busy. I interviewed for two jobs and then was hired by OAR of Fairfax to work with their residential Beacon program. I'm now in the midst of my 3rd week of work. Whew!

I feel like in the second half of Lent I had strayed from my original intention. But then I have also reminded myself that from the beginning I said that looking for a job that serves those in need would "count". And it's not like I haven't done anything during this time. I have begun my prisoner pen-pal program. I have tried to follow up with Bethany House, but apparently my background check is taking a while to come in and therefore they can't extend a volunteer opportunity to me until it does. I submitted a second application/interest in a program that provides video mentoring for children in South Africa.

I thought when I started this that during the 40 days my "vision" would be expanded to see all of the need right around me. I suppose that this both is and is not true. I do feel I was more "tuned-in" to the needs of my neighbors, family, and friends. And those are valid needs. But what I didn't see, what I struggled to access, were the "least of these" - the homeless, the hungry, the naked, etc. And I tried. But it was difficult to determine which volunteer groups to apply to, how many to apply to, and so on. Especially now that I am working again, I cannot commit myself to 10 different volunteer organizations. But then, even of the ones I tried to commit myself to, only one has really happened. One has struggled to get the background check sorted out, and now I don't think I will have the time to provide the support I initially thought I could. Others just haven't replied or followed up with me.

It is both discouraging and odd to have found such difficulty in trying to provide service to those in need. We live in a very broken and hurting world, but the most accessible way for me to give to people truly in need is to pull out my credit card and make an online donation. I do understand that agencies need to conduct background checks and have volunteer screening processes to protect the safety of their staff and clients, but I cannot believe how much of a hurdle that has been. And I know I can pass a background check - I had to for my new job!

I think the real conclusion I have drawn is that part of the issue is how "sanitized" the area in which I live is. If I worked in DC, I'm sure I would have had more opportunities to buy lunch for homeless individuals, or give them grocery store gift cards. If I lived in a poorer area I'm sure I would have had more opportunities to cook meals for struggling neighbors or mentor young kids. But, I live in Fairfax, VA. Truly sanitized for your protection. I have to work harder to find individuals in need because we have worked so hard to separate ourselves from them. By choosing to live where I do, I am complicit in this segregation of society between the "have it togethers" and the "don't have it togethers."

So, now what. Lent is over. I have joyfully celebrated the amazingness of the Resurrection, of the power of God's love and forgiveness. My heart and soul are renewed and restored to continue to share the story and the grace. I found a great job working with individuals who are in need, who are cast of society. Does this mean I accomplished my goal? Maybe. Yes, if it means that I continue to look for those in need wherever I am. Yes, if I continue to hunt down ways to provide service whenever and wherever possible. No, if I let my job be my service and then settle down each night in my comfortable, sanitized neighborhood and pat myself on the back for my "charitable work". No, if I continue to live my life in the "safe" and "clean" areas without recognizing that I'm making a choice to separate myself from God's children.

So yeah, maybe I learned a lot this Lent about suffering and my role in creating and relieving it. Maybe I had my eyes opened to places of need. Thankfully, God's grace is big enough for my maybe's, and even my no's. And I need God's grace, all day everyday. And perhaps in the grand scheme, that's the true lesson of Lent - that we need this amazing ridiculous, inconceivable love and grace so much, and we are so, so, so blessed that God gives it, everyday, to everyone.

Monday, March 8, 2010

March 8, 2010

So today I finally got around to sending a letter to our World Vision child. We have been sponsoring him for a couple years now, and somehow I have just never gotten around to writing a letter. I think this really highlights how little effort it takes for me to adjust my priorities. I hope that I will actually be able to build a relationship with him now. But yeah, I still feel really lame that I haven't written him before. Boo me.