“Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all.” ― Nathan W. Morris

I like to purge. I consider myself a purger but not of the body. I like to purge stuff and find that very cathartic. I have always lived by the motto if it isn’t serving a purpose, I don’t need it. Its worked out well, so far.

I have decided to take that motto and take it a step forward. I have a friend who is a minimalist. Its quite fascinating that she cannot survive with less stuff in a society that tells us we need more stuff. I have imagined its very freeing.

Being a minimalist is something I have always seen myself doing. I truly like the idea to not being bogged down from having things I simply do not need. So I have taken the first step to becoming a minimalist. I have gone through my closet and gathered all the clothing I intend to donate. I mean were talking five pairs of shoes, numerous t-shirts, polos, sweaters, and jeans. Every bit of clothing is something I haven’t worn in years. I find myself saying I will wear it eventually or when I lose a few pounds. This type of thinking isn’t productive.

So with anything, I research minimalism and found that this concept isn’t limited to “stuff”. It can be a lifestyle. I found that you can start with stuff but you can minimize your job/school, stress, debt, friends/family, and health/diet. I became obsessed with this notion. I’ll be it, I won’t be minimalizing much of friends and family. I already have a small and close knit support system but everything else sounds appealing.

One article I read even discussed mental health as an aspect of minimal living. Learning to minimalize the stress and conflict in your life. You see minimalism is about a person’s whole being and is intended for optimal living. You create more freedom for yourself when you are not tied to stuff and negative baggage.

Minimal living in regard to health and diet requires more planning. Everyday I spend ten dollars to eat lunch because I make no preparation for what I intend to eat. So by planning my meals and minimally spending money, I am giving myself freedom in more healthy living and saving money on food that is not spur of the moment.

My end game is that I hope this provides me with more time to do what I want. I think this will be a good way to get it. Living minimally is living more purposefully.

I started with my closet and intend to move to other parts of my life. Lets see how it goes:

 

 

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“If this planet is to be transformed for the better, then we as individuals must first transform ourselves.” ― Auliq Ice

Lately, I’ve been in my head a lot. Those that know me understand this is typical for but it’s been a good “inside your head”. Recently, I’ve noticed I have felt very grateful for life and my people, places, and things, especially my career. I have never been more fulfilled in what I do. I got to thinking why this is.

I have this firm belief in people, goodness, and easing other folk’s burden. As a kid, I had a youth leader at church that impressed upon my cohorts and me the belief that we should “leave things better than we found them”. I have realized that this sentiment impacted me more than I knew. This thought has driven many of my decisions in life. I want to know I am leaving my people, places, and things better off that when they came to me.

Social Work is how I have fulfilled this. What we do matters. Who we work with matters and I love to do it. I work with all different types of people. I work to solve many different types of problems. We should be meeting people where they are at and not where we expect them to be.

When working with folks, it is important to remember not everyone is like you and that is okay. We should not expect everyone to fall in line with our beliefs, customs, and way of doing things. If you do, you’re in for a sad life.

Social Work seeks to improve the lives of others and the communities in which they live. Everyone truly is interconnected on a level that none of us can see. We share problems and should be empathetic to folks.

Social Work seeks to “leave things better than we found them”. Social Workers advocate for those who do not have the ability to advocate for themselves. This looks like different things. Sometimes we intervene with a landlord, teacher, doctor, or family member. Other times we intervene with folks who you wouldn’t expect. An example would be another person who is in the field that should be working for the same goal, bettering the client’s life. If you want to piss me of the fastest, its being a stumbling block for someone else when your job is to be a support for that person.

Unfortunately, I see it all too often. “Do No Harm” is something doctors live by but my coworkers and I have adopted that motto as well in response to seeing people not living up to what they should be.

That vow is a serious one. If you aren’t working to better your client’s life you aren’t doing your job.

It is very important to leave the world a better place. This is done in very complex ways and also very simple ways. You do not have to be the President to make the world a better place.

We can make the world a better place by simply being there for folks. Sometimes a strong silence will do more for a person than a bunch of hot air. We can volunteer and work for different social agencies.

It even can happen on a smaller scale, hold a door open for someone, make a phone call, smile at someone. Small gestures make a big impact.

Remember that you can make an impact on people and leave things better that when you found them. Look for a need and fulfill it, no matter how small.

“This Too Shall Pass” -Unknown

Rarely do I ever need to remind myself of this quote. I have had this mentality as long as I can remember. I tend to be optimistic about things. I am not naïve about the world. I see reality but I have lived long enough to know that most things are temporary.

That includes the good things, not just the bad. Life seems to be a balancing act of good and bad events and everyone of them has not lasted. It passed.

I have this unyielding belief that things get better. I believe I was born with that disposition but chose a long time ago to nurture it.

You can chose to see the world two ways:

1) Life is good with some bad events.

or

2) Life is bad with some good events.

Every human falls into one of those categories. Obviously one is more  harmful than the other. And it is all temporary.

It bring comfort to me to know that the negative events that happen to me are not forever. The sun will really come out tomorrow. Metaphorically at least. I know that a few bad days strung together might make a terrible week but my month can still be good. Its all about perspective.

Asking yourself questions like “Why Me?” only perpetuates a negative attitude. It also demonstrates the thought process that you are above hardship. No one is above hardship. Everyone will suffer. Instead ask “Why not me?”. I do not mean that in an excited way but instead mean it as a way to put things into perspective. There are over seven billion people on the planet. Negative things are happening to someone somewhere. Its bound to catch up with you sooner or later. But on the same side of that coin, good things happen as well. Life’s pleasures happen to you as well. Humans tend to only focus on the negative events, which reinforces our beliefs that negative things are always happening to us.

It is my opinion that we focus more on negative events largely because it feeds the innate insecurity that humanity has. Obviously there are more things in play than insecurity but I believe that is the most driving force in all of humanity. Even love.  However, that is for another topic at a later time.

The proverb “This Too Shall Pass” should be a reminder that negative events do not last. They are finite. They appear for a small time and then vanish. Sure the effects may be felt long after they are gone but healing may occur. Life goes on; as Robert Frost pointed out. Also, “This Too Shall Pass” should help us understand even good things do not last. We should be appreciating them as we have them. The people in our lives. The time we spend with those people. Even our material blessings.

I read a meme once that affirmed if you count her blessings and material things are among them then you do not know what blessings are. While I agree material things are not the most important of blessings, I believe they are still blessings. Any good thing in one’s life is a blessing and maybe some of the bad too.

It is my hope that we remember that bad things happen but not forever. Good things come into our lives and also leave. We should just be thankful we have the experiences that shape who we have become. For even those awful experiences add to ourselves. You can learn and grow as a person. You can work towards being better for it. You can choose optimism.

This In Itself Is Humbling.

“We must meet the challenge rather than wish it were not before us.”—William J. Brennan

Six months in and I cannot save the world and I have to be okay with that.

This has been going through my mind this week.

Yesterday (4/8) was my six month anniversary since I started working with Centerstone. I was told on my first day that “time doesn’t exist here”.  I thought this was a joke. Now, I know how true that statement was. The past six months have been a blur.

Centerstone, in the short time I have been with them, has taught me many invaluable lessons. One of which I shared at the beginning of this blog.

You are taught in college that you may have that “ I can change the world attitude” but you can’t keep it for long. Otherwise burnout can happen.

I think it’s a lesson we all learn. I also think it’s very normal to have that belief. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have gotten into the field of Social Work. We just learn to rein it in.

I am still very optimist about every client I have but also understand that I cannot make happen what they won’t allow to happen.

Some other lessons I have learned are:

You can provide all the education, support, and resources to someone. Until they decide for themselves its time. It isn’t time. I dealt with that lesson last week.  I doubt its one you ever really get used to.

The toughest lesson I have learned is sometimes your best just isn’t good enough. Sometimes you can do everything right. You do what you are supposed to do and there still isn’t a winner.  You can only do so much. There are times when all you can say is “I’ve done all I can do”.

It never feels good.

A side effect of my job was learning how to deliver bad news. It’s never comfortable. But it has to be done. Especially, when you are the person providing that sliver of hope. There have been times when I’m on resource number three and another one has fallen through. You just plow through and provide support and encouragement. You let the client know you haven’t given up and neither should they.

I’ve dealt with the death of a client. It was a suicide. I had been working with this client for many months. As always, it was a total surprise and difficult to deal with.

This wasn’t meant to sound glum. I’m afraid it teeters on depressing. I hope that’s not what is taken away from this blog.

At times, my job is emotionally draining. At times, I feel as if I am making no difference. And then a client obtains a safe place to live, or a client decides to seek treatment for addictions, or a client you have been assisting tirelessly to find funding for a medical issue is accepted into the program.

The silver linings are there my friends. They are rewarding. They reinforce that “ I can change the world attitude”. Hold tight to it. You just might!

I know I have made the right career decision. I cannot tell you where I will be in ten years or even twenty years but I know it will be striving toward making the world a better place.

I believe social work is what will do that.

This in itself is humbling.

“It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.” -Andy Rooney

TV Land is introducing a new dramadey called “Younger”. It is about a forty-ish recently divorced mother who is wanting to rebuild her life.

Not an original concept right? There is a twist. Their is always a twist.

In order to rebuild her life she obtains a new job and friends. In this new life everyone believes she is a twentysomething. I get it. Its a TV show. The producers needed a hook and a reason for the audience to watch.

What will be telling is how receptive TV watchers will be.

Society has a preoccupation with youth. Its no secret. I’ve just never gotten that mentality though. I suppose its easy for a twentysomething to make comments like that.

I don’t long for youth due to the fact I’m in my prime. I’m the definition of youth and twentysomething-tude. However, I have never understood being nostalgic for the past.  I have always said I never want to wake up in twenty years and desire the old days. I had a great high school experience, college experience, and now young adult experience. But I do not wish to go back to those days.

I understand the appeal. Why would anyone not want to go back to a time when he/she had limited responsibility.

I have always affirmed I wanted to live in a way that every faction of my life is good. I want to be happy everyday of my life. I want to be so happy with where I am in life that I do not long for “glory days”. Up to this point I have been able to do that.

I believe its normal for everyone to have a few days every once in awhile to pine for a simpler time. However, there are folks who think of those simpler times and stop living for the present and focus completely on how good they used to have it.

Here are a few characteristics that can help a person to stop living for the past and enjoy the present.

1) Stop acting like a victim. Understand that things happen. You weren’t singled out. Life isn’t fair.

2) Life and no one else owes you anything. Stop thinking you deserve something for nothing. Work for what you want.

3) Appreciate the people in your life. Accept that everything in your life can change at anytime. Loved one’s aren’t with us forever.

4) Thinking on positive things will help you have a positive outlook. Your outlook dictates your ability to handle your situation.

5) The present is the only time we have. We shouldn’t waste it on the past. Good or bad.

Often what we think about a situation will determine how we react to that situation. The present time can be as good as the “glory days” one so desperately clings to if one attempts to change his attitude about it.

At times its normal for one to think about past good times. However, it becomes unhealthy for one to dwell on the past so much he/she cannot live for the present.

We must love our life in all aspects. We must want to be so in love with life that we do not dwell on better days. If you find you could use better days, you should work towards them. You have the power to change your life and make improvements as needed. Isn’t that a lovely thought?

That in itself is humbling.

“Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion.” -Daniel Goleman

Self preservation is a powerful thing. It is not singular to humans. Animals do it and even plants do everything in their ability to preserve self.

It is a basic survival instinct. It is innate. Everyone implores the skill of self preservation. Adam was the first human to apply one of the tenants of self preservation. Adam blamed his sin on another human, Eve.

Self preservation comes in many forms. At times it looks like lying. It can mask itself as stealing, self defense, and even coping.

Everything we do is a form of self preservation. However, most forms of self preservation are rooted in selfish behavior.

One of the most common forms of self preservation is living above the law. People who choose to believe that the rules do not apply to them or their situation.

Oddly enough, this behavior is associated more with wealthy people who have connections. After all, it is easier for them to bend rules as they need them to. However, this attitude does not discriminate. Rich folks, poor folks, everyday common folks, white folks, black folks, and any other type of person can have this attitude.

I cannot say what makes a person feel entitled to break the rules. I would wager familiarity in a particular situation would aid in the sense of entitlement. People will take more liberties when they feel comfortable. People attempt to get away with more when they are in a familiar setting.

I suppose that is normal. Quickly, we find our little ways of justifying our actions. We introduce those little thoughts. “I do X so I deserve Y”. We may even think “Well Mrs. Y does J so I can do T”. Our justifications are what help us make our decisions.

However, some people have a sense of entitlement without familiarity. These people do not ask. They just do. Most likely they subscribe to the belief of “Its better to ask forgiveness than permission”.

This belief sadly reflects many people within our society. It bolsters the premise of “let’s do as much as we can and see what we can get away with”.

Many people have a disregard for the rules. People attempt to get away with everything they can. Lying, stealing, and cheating become the norm for these folks.

And their justification is always the same. I am owed this. I am a good person. I’m not hurting others.

Whatever excuse can be thought of is used as their justification for their behavior. I believe this is where self preservation comes into play. People lie as to not face consequences. People steal for many reasons but gain for self is usually the leading reason.

We should evaluate our behaviors and motives of why we participate in different activities. Self preservation is a powerful instinct. It is innate. But it doesn’t mean we cannot rise above our selfish desires.

We all have the ability to do good. We all have the ability to change the world for the better. We should always strive for “us” preservation instead of self preservation.

This in itself is humbling.

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals.” -Laurence Sterne

I’m never sure where to start when writing this particular blog topic. So, I’ll start with what prompted me to write.

I’m sitting on my bed listening to the radio and Pitbull’s number one single “Time Of Our Lives” starts to play. Anyone who knows me understands I have a distaste for Pitbull. If you hear one of his songs you have heard them all. Each song is like, insert: random city, a few Spanish words, and “Mr. Word Wide” and you have a Pitbull song.

I digress. This isn’t what prompted my blog. I hate the song “Time of Our Lives”. There isn’t anything redeeming about it. I especially hate the message it promotes to young people. I’m long past sounding like a prude. I get it. Its just a song. However, lyrics such as:

“I knew my rent was gon’ be later ’bout a week ago, I work my ass off, But I still can’t pay it though, But I got just enough,To get off in this club”

“I’m not talking ’bout love, I’m talking ’bout lust, Now let’s get loose, have some fun, Forget about bills and the first of the month”

“Go ahead baby let me see what you got, You know you got the biggest booty in this spot, And I just wanna see that thing drop, From the back to the front to the top”

promote irresponsibility, anything for a good time attitude, and objectifying women as sexual objects. Pitbull is not the only culprit. Frankly, our culture is saturated with this pollution. This garbage is being pushed at young people from every possible outlet. Its scary. Pitbull’s song is a good representation of what is wrong with our culture.

I will give the writer of the song props. The song is written as an excellent narrative. You have the ‘club goer” who explains why he is going to the club. He is frustrated/upset he cannot pay his bills and must have a release for his problems. So he goes clubbing to get his mind of his problems.

I’m all for a good time. This, however, is not what will help the “club goer”. The song is promoting irresponsibility. When you can’t afford your rent. You should be looking to understand why. Are you spending too much in another area? Where can I save money so I can afford basic amenities?

Truth is, if you cannot afford your needs you can’t have your wants. Its a simple concept and sadly the family unit doesn’t teach it. People want what they want when they want it. So the “Club goer” spends his last twenty dollars on a good time. Forget that heartache that will cause at a later date.

If the “Club goer” was under distress about the situation he should have been looking for a way to make some extra cash to pay his bills. Legal ways mind you. There is nothing like working for an honest days pay.  That should be the message that is promoted in our music and culture. Not something for nothing.

If you can’t afford housing you shouldn’t be going clubbing.

The second lyric I have highlighted illustrates the desire for a good time. Its something we should all want but unfortunately our culture’ s idea of a good time is meaningless sex. The “club goer” is only interested in lust. He doesn’t care about love. He only desires the here and now. It doesn’t even matter with whom he has the sex with. This attitude is rampant in today’s culture.  Why do people go to bars? To meet other people. Where are they hoping it leads? To bed. It is sad.

A good time can be had by committing yourself to the right people. I haven’t met a single person who actually favors going to the club, getting sloshed only to not remember the events of the previous night as opposed to spending an intimate evening with close knit friends enjoying each other’s company.

Give me a few friends, good conversation, and coffee and I’ll show you a good time. People perpetuate the myth that young people need to have crazy times to be happy. People want young and crazy days so they can look back and say “look at how stupid I was when I was younger”.  Some of us never needed to go through that phase. It isn’t necessary.

I grow tired of society perpetuating the myth that something is wrong with you if you aren’t interested in doing things deemed as “cool”. What are we, in 7th grade?

Lastly, Pitbulll and every other male artist is awful about objectifying women. I have always found it interesting feminist tend to be quite when the Liberal Hollywood elites are participating in anti-feminist behavior.

This song details what is wrong with our culture. The woman in the song is seen as a sex object. She is told to get her booty low. Because the “Club goer” wants to see her get down.

Why is she being gawked at for her looks? Why is the “Club goer” not appreciating her for her intelligence?  He only sees a conquest.

Unfortunately, today’s culture perpetuates the idea of over sexualized women. The woman in the club is not there for your sexual pleasure. She isn’t there to ensure you have  good time.

Yet, music such as this perpetuates this thought. It is sad.

Our culture is saturated with these issues. It isn’t just one Pitbull song. Young people are being bombarded with these concepts from every orifice society has.

Our goal as well rounded adults should be to combat this thinking. We should help young people learn responsibility, the good in an honest day’s work, and  dangers in seeing people as only sexual objects and not humans.

This in itself is humbling.