“If you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.” ― Junot Díaz

Below is a link to a video of a young girl who receives a doll with a prosthetic leg. This is significant because the young lady has a prosthetic leg as well.
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGhAcBwwpo0)
The young girl’s reaction is priceless. She opens the box and immediately begins crying because she has a doll that looks like her.
The crux of this statement emphasizes how important representation for all people is, specifically minorities.
We live in a society where the majority of people are white straight cisgender people and dominate pop culture. This is natural and makes sense that a majority is well represented in the society they live.
However, collectively we should always be working towards a more inclusive society. One way to do that is by representing all people in that society. This may mean through media, politics, educations, and other outlets.
It is imperative that children see people like them excelling in a happy and healthy way. This is one of the building blocks for developing positive self image and identity.
The little girl from the video doesn’t have many role models that represent her. I don’t know many celebrities or influential people in our society that have a prosthetic leg. So for her to receive a doll with one was a major deal for her. The same is true for People of Color, the LGBTQ community, women, and others.
By representing minorities in popular culture we are providing our youth an accurate depiction of all peoples that live in our society. Our media representing those communities should illustrate them as authentic three dimensional beings. We tend to think of people in only one way; usually the label we place on them. If our TV shows, books, and music provide depth to these minority characters it expands our youth’s ability to develop a positive self image.
The LGBTQ community, People of Color, women, immigrants, and other minorities don’t have much representation in government, academia, pop culture, and other aspects of life. By providing youth that is more inclusive and more like them we are cultivating a generation that feels more free to live genuine and more authentically than ever before.
If you this concept is new to you or you don’t understand it, count yourself lucky. You have had impactful person in your life that you could identify with. Not many of our youth get that opportunity. Working to be more inclusive of all others is a goal we should all work toward.
For the sake of the young lady in the video or others like her, we owe it to them. For the next generation.

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to them their own.” —Benjamin Disraeli

March is Social Work Appreciation month and as we wind down the third month of the year, I wanted to write about my passion and chosen career. Many folks have a misconception of what Social Work is and what a Social Worker does. Many people see Social Workers only responsibility is to take children out of unfit homes, which they do but also so much more.

Social Workers work in many different settings. Some work in hospitals, some hold government positions, some are DCS case workers, others work for insurance companies, nonprofits, charitable organizations, and many other places.

I have known some social workers to be therapists, presidents of hospitals, and coordinator of Dolly Parton’s Imagination library. One of the executives at my company was a neonatal social worker. We come in all shapes and forms. Its astounding.

I am very lucky, for which I completely recognize, that I found a career that is also my passion. Not everyone is lucky enough to say that. I feel as if I have found my purpose and wish to spend the rest of my life pursuing it.

My current role is to work with children and adults who suffer from mental illness. I am to provide them with the tools and education that will allow them to function at their absolute best. This is the mission of every social worker. We also advocate for those who are unable to. We provide a voice for someone who is too afraid to speak. Some social workers advocate for an abused child, woman, or man. Some social workers seek to protect the elderly. There are social workers who seek to restore the rights of oppressed people. Advocacy is a large part in what we do. Unfortunately, there are people in this world who seek to use their power and privilege for their own evils.

I make it my mission to restore dignity to every person I work with. Sometimes other people have a way of taking people’s humanity away and social work seeks to reverse that. I believe that all people have basic rights. I believe that everyone is entitled to live their best life and should not be impeded on what other  think or believe. I believe people are good. I believe people have obstacles in life and they can be overcome. I believe folks should be given an opportunity and they shouldn’t be discounted who they are, where they live, who they love, or what physical/mental impairment they may have. Everyone deserves respect.

I  came to this profession for two reasons; 1) I wanted to help people and 2) I believe God led me to this career path. I always say that Jesus was the greatest social worker to ever live. I thank God for Christ and his powerful example of how to treat mankind.

I wish to make an impact on the world. I never wanted to do that in a grandeur way. I work with people within my community and attempt to meet their needs Often people believe social problems are one dimensional and easy to fix. That notion is false. Social problems are complex. People who suffer from the disease of addiction cannot just stop using. There are serious biological and psychological factors involved. Furthermore, people who are an addict never stop being an addict. That is something that is maintained as a life long goal. Family dynamics are crucial to social problems as well. Many times social issues are generational and cycle through families. Without intervention those cycles cannot be changed.

I firmly believe that family is the bedrock of society. I do believe you can look at any social issues, whether its imprisonment, poverty, addiction, abuse, and so forth, and link it back to the family unit. Its my believe the breakdown of the American family perpetuates many of these issues. I am lucky to work in a career field where I am helping people break the cycle. All I can do is provide people with the tools and education. They must put in the work. Frankly, its a miss more times than not but when you do see people making progress it reinforces why you do what you do. That light bulb moment is priceless.

Finally, I have to philosophies in life.

Fredrick Douglass once said: I is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.

And

Napoleon Hill said: If you can’t do great things, do small things in a great way.

As a social worker I work with families to provide a foundation that will foster healthy, strong and productive adults. Lastly, not everyone can be the leader of a movement or become president and enact major social change. However, every person has the ability to do something insignificant to themselves that may be significant for someone else. I am very lucky to be living my passion.

 

This In Itself Is Humbling.

“America is the story of everyday people who did extraordinary things. A story woven deep into the fabric of our society. ” Marco Rubio

I attended my first political rally today. Marco Rubio came to Franklin, Tennessee, which is about 1 hour and ten minutes from my home. It is a total of 78 miles from my drive way to the Embassy Suites where the rally was held.

My experience was very good. My group and I arrived early and were able to position ourselves in a good spot. I’d say I was fifteen to twenty feet from Rubio. As we arrived it was immediately apparent that the number of people who were showing up was huge. As we checked in we learned the number of folks coming was more than the venue could hold so they moved the event to the parking lot right outside the hotel. One of the speakers advised they had 4000 register but thought the crowd looked more like five to six thousand folks.

As I said, we arrived early. As I was waiting with my sister I observed the crowd, listened to some conversation, and met a lady who emigrated from Japan thirty five years ago. Her and her husband had driven from Jackson, Tennessee, which is easily a two and a half hour drive west. I must confess we spoke for an hour on many subjects but I never got her name. She spoke of the differences between the United States and Japan and how she wanted to raise her children in America. What struck me was she truly appreciated the fact she lives in the greatest country in the world. I found her interesting.

Then the event started and the three speakers warmed the crowd up for Marco Rubio. Rubio came out and gave a fifty minute speech detailing his agenda if he were president. However, he kept true to his theme of unity and connectedness. He spoke about being a president for all people, including the ones that don’t like him. He even joked about lowering their taxes too. At times when candidates speak about unity it may fall on deaf ears. Each candidates hopes to bridge different communities but never has the ability. Marco Rubio is different.

I observed many different types of people at today’s event. I saw old people and young people. I saw White people, Black people, and Hispanic people. I saw women and men. I saw veterans and disabled people. I saw folks with what looked like Indian background. I saw what America is founded on, people of different backgrounds coming together for a common goal. Everyone in the crowd was there to support their candidate and hear his vision and plan for America. The crowd was enthusiastic and in turn made Rubio comfortable. As he spoke about inclusion and the new face of the Republican Party I saw what he sees, the evidence for this new party. It is clear he sees a turning tide and has the ability to harness it in his favor. As I listened to him speaking passionately about his vision of America, I thought of the lady standing next to me and the story she told me about her life in Japan and her immigrating to this country. It parallels Rubio’s parent’s story and their efforts to attain the American Dream. In a few words that is what Marco Rubio wants to do for the American People. He wants to make available the same American Dream that his parent obtained for themselves. It was quite a moment.

My first political rally will be a good memory to reflect on. An intense feeling washes over a person when they say the Pledge of Allegiance with five thousand people or cheering on the impassioned words of someone whom you share your beliefs and vision for the country.

Marco Rubio is optimistic, inclusive, and passionate. All of which is what we need for a New American Century. If you are interested in his policies, I’d visit his website: www.marcorubio.com

rubio

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” ― Ernest Hemingway

There is no shortage of blogs and articles about the new year and how to “be a new you” this year. Considering the theme of my blog is about mental wellness, I wanted to type out a few tips for a good year. Like most, I want this “new year new me” feeling to last all year. Side note: I hate “new year new me” announcements. It wasn’t until just yesterday I realized why. I find announcing to the world “new year new me” attention seeking. Seeking attention is a huge turn off for me. But I love when people decide to better themselves and work who they are as a person. I always encourage folks to do that year round.

So I have about six habits one should do in the new year (or at any time in the year) to add to their over all wellness.

 

  1. Say “Yes” more often.

A couple of years ago I told myself I would not deny myself from activities or experience because I was fearful or thought I would not like something. Saying “Yes” to events, people, or experiences that you have not done before is a great way to get you out of your comfort zone. Life is about growing and expanding your comforts. Take a trip, try a new employment opportunity, start school; examples such as these will assist you in expanding your comfort zone. Its a cliché but life cannot be lived on the side lines.

2. Tell people “No” and do not feel guilty about it.

At this point you might be asking yourself isn’t this contradictory to the first point. Its truly not. Too often people pleasers only go along with something because they are afraid of disappointing someone. You have to recognize not everyone is looking out for your best interest and only want what they can get out of you. Be selective with those who you say yes too. If a person wants something from you and its not something you are comfortable with, or its not feasible for you, or anything else do not be afraid to tell them no. Remember “no” is a complete answer in itself.

3. Learn to do activities alone.

For many the thought of being alone is scary. (Note; there is a difference between being alone and lonely) Being alone is healthy and normal. Being alone isn’t good for a person and isn’t healthy. Reach out for help if you are lonely. However, being alone is normal. We need that time to recharge and to regroup. Going to a movie, reading a book, or going on a run is a good way for a person to recharge. Learn to like yourself alone or other will not be able to tolerate you n a group.

4. Be more specific about your intentions and desires.

Too often we do not properly communicate what we want from others. We must be direct with people. We have to remember people cannot read minds. You cannot read other people’s minds so why do you think other people can read your mind. Be specific. If you are upset with a person share your feelings. Be honest. Its not a sign of weakness. It saves heart ache and grief. If someone is bothering you its best for find a way to communicate this without escalating the situation and do not keep it bottled up so that you eventually blow up.

5.  Learn a new skill or hobby.

Broadening your horizons is important. Personal growth is important. One way to do this is by learning a new skill. Take a class, learn a new language, join a club or gym, anything that will help you step out of your comfort zone. It is a good idea to do something that would translate into an employment opportunity. Bettering yourself in this fashion could also pay off with better opportunities.

6. Be more aware of how you come across to folks.

Being self aware is very important. If you are more aware of your mannerism it can help you connect with others. If you come across as aloof, angry, bored, or happy it affects how others will respond to you. Monitor your body language and other nonverbal queues. Remember to smile more. Stand straighter. Look people in the eyes. All of these non verbal actions can dictate how people respond to you.

 

These tips can help you live a better life all year round. Everyone wants to be their best self. These tips are a good start. Add any tips you may have in the comment section.

“Choices made, whether bad or good, follow you forever and affect everyone in their path one way or another.” ― J.E.B. Spredemann

We walk a tight rope when it comes to the first amendment. One must balance the ability to say anything with the responsibility of saying anything. I am thankful we live in a country where our government cannot penalize its citizens for its speech. However, society may do with the speech giver as it wishes. I always remind folks you have the freedom of speech but not the freedom of consequences.

Every one of us has a responsibility for what we say. Some of us have bigger platforms but we all have a voice and people listen to it. As an average twenty something male I recognize I have a responsibility with my speech.

I have two younger sisters that are affected by the things I say. I have a reputation that I wish to hold intact. I have friends and family members I have a responsibility to. I also have my employer and coworkers to consider when I make my thoughts public. Lastly, my speech, on a small scale, affects society.  At this point some of you are rolling your eyes.  But think about it. The above people mentioned are my world. I socialize with these folks on an everyday basis. For better or worse, they affect me and I affect them. In turn those folks go home to their family, coworkers, and friends and they affect them. People change people. This is why society is an ever evolving collection of ideas and norms. It’s quite astounding if you think about it. You where ever you are in some small way are affecting someone you don’t know half way around the world. Our interconnectedness is often astonishing. And we are lucky enough to live in a time when all of it is recorded and put on the internet. While I hate internet fad videos, it’s a perfect example.

I believe this illustrates my point about the responsibility we have with our words and speech. I love social commentary. I see myself as a social observer. I then write how I see the world. Some of today’s TV shows are a great source of social thought provocation. Criminal Minds had an episode from 2012 where a politician was speaking hateful rhetoric. He was campaigning on the notion that crime is committed only by nonwhite folks. This fueled a deranged man’s murderous plot to stage the murders of upper middle class white families preformed at the hand of minorities. I get it. It’s a TV show.

However, put it into perspective.  Two and a half weeks ago a white man opened fire on nine innocent black folks who were worshiping God. One of the most people acts a person can commit and they were hunted like animals. Its alleged that the murder was involved in several white supremacy groups or at least believed their ugly beliefs. As I watched this episode this was all I could think of. Those poor folks are victims of a sick twisted individual that was indoctrinated by evil vicious thoughts. I soon thought about the responsibility we all have for our words and to each other. Whether you like it or not you are an example to someone. You change someone and they change you. People change people.

Once we realize this we can work together to become more cautious with our words and thoughts. In no way am I affirming we do not have a right to say what we want but only reminding ourselves that we have a responsibility for what we say as well. May we use our words to build up rather than tear down.

This In Itself Is Humbling.

“Social work is a band-aid on the festering wounds of society.” -Alexander Chase

The above quote was on a white board we have in our office area. The quotes change everyday, due to a diligent coworker, but not all of them catch my attention the way this one did.

This quote speaks to why I chose Social Work as a profession. I simply want to do good.

It is idealistic. I think most folks who choose this profession are idealistic. Perhaps starry eyed about changing the world.

I seek to leave a better world than I was given. That actually was a principle I was taught at church camp. I never forgot it.

Society has many ills; Homelessness, Addiction, Suicide, Disease, Alcoholism, Poverty, and Loneliness.

Each one devastating in its own right but usually found co-occurring amongst individuals suffering even one of these afflictions.

I have my degree in the Human Services. I have been working with a mental health facility for about four months and I’m in the processing of pursuing an MSW (Masters of Social Work).

You can consider me a novice. I have just gotten my feet wet. I am only beginning what I hope to be a life long career of service to others.

However, I have encountered every above mentioned issue and then some. My first month on the job I had two separate client’s attempt suicide. In month three I found another client emergency housing in about an hour. Currently I am assisting a client without health insurance, and no way to afford health insurance, find treatment for Hepatitis B.

One of the observations I have had is that some of these issues are cyclical:

For instance, a person has anxiety. They are unable to leave their home due to the extreme anxiety. They cannot have a job and struggle to come to their therapy appointments. They cannot work due to the extreme anxiety. Since they cannot work they cannot afford their medications. Since they are unmedicated they have no control over their social anxiety. Therefore they cannot go outside much less pursue a job opportunity.

There are possible solutions. Ideally a strong support system should be put in place to assist the person until he/she can become medicated and taken to therapy to work his/her issues.

Not everyone is so lucky. Not everyone has a support system. Sometimes a person only has himself.

I see more of this than I care for. I see people so starved for attention. I know that I am possibly their only regular contact with another person. Its disheartening.

A person can become so wearied and worn that they become a shell. They are no longer who they once were. I want to give that person the tools they need to rebuild their life.

Everyone in this field has a particular population they prefer to work with. Some folks like to work with children, adults, elderly adults, people who suffer from various disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, veterans, and so on.

I prefer veterans and specifically veterans that suffer from addictions. This stems for my love of country and respect for the Armed Service. These folks give so much and come back with invisible wounds. I want to spend my life serving these amazing folks.

Yes, I am idealist. Yes, I believe I can make a difference. Yet, I know I cannot do it alone. It is a collective effort we all must accept responsibility for.

Some days are tough. Heck, some weeks are tough. But it really is worth it because of the one person you have helped. Often we hear that and question a person’s sincerity by that statement. I’ve felt it though. The bad days can’t compare to the good days. The days I have found housing for folks. The days people have gained insurance and now can seek treatment for their medical problem.

Those are the reasons why I do what I do.

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.