Never Stop Wandering Into Wonder. – Suzy Kassem

So we are just a few hours from 2017 and I am preparing for the festivities of tonight but I wanted to hammer out a blog to wrap up my thoughts bout 2016.

So the internet has decided 2016 is the worst year we’ve had since the plague. They could be right but I’d say it all depends on who you ask.

I’ve seen many good things happen to family and friends populate in my news feed over the last twelve months. Don’t get me wrong, I know a few people who would disagree because they have had some terrible things happen to them this year. May they know they are in my thoughts and I’m here for them.

This year has been an interesting year:

I attended three weddings two of which I was in the wedding party and one where I was a guest. I wish each couple nothing but happiness and many years with their new partners. One of those weddings was my brothers so my family added a new family member! I really do have an awesome sister-in-law and then my family celebrated fifty years of marriage for my grandparents. My mom, aunt, and I planned a surprise party where guest came to celebrate with us. Some of the guests were lifelong friends of my grandparents. It was a great occasion.

For me personally, 2016 has been a good year. This last year is arguably my best year maybe ever. I was promoted to a supervisor position at work, I was accepted into graduate school and successfully completed my first semester with a 4.0, and I paid my car off, and started a journey of self love and acceptance. I struggle daily but look forward to reaching my destination.

I began a new thought process about the people in my life and am very thankful for them. I feel as though those relationships have been enriched and are much fuller and deeper. I look forward to carrying that into the New Year.

I don’t expect 2017 to be much different than 2016. Years tend to blend but I will continue to work towards my professional and personal goals. I want to keep working to complete grad school and furthering my passion of reducing mental health stigma.

I am really not the type to make a big deal about New Years. It’s just another day. The only thing significant about it is that I flip the calendar. I believe that people can start everyday as a “new year” so I don’t get caught up in the hysteria. If you want to change something don’t wait until it feels like a magical time. Create the magic and it will happen.

To you reading this,

I hope you make that change you are desperately agonizing over, go after your dream job, find the love of your life, develop your passion, apply for your dream school, travel and love more, respect yourself and others, get out of that bad relationship, leave the job you hate, and reduce the negativity in your life. The magic of New Years isn’t the fact the date changes it’s the possibilities and wonderment that comes with it. If you want 2017 to be different you have to become different. Remember that!

Happy New Year and good vibes!

“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

“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.

“Marines—you beat them down and they come back for more.” -Chris Kyle

I have not yet seen American Sniper. I plan to watch it. I look forward to watching an American hero’s story told.

Chris Kyle’s story has been made into a movie by director Clint Eastwood. It has been met with praise by many. The movie has six Oscar nominations. It was nominated for, Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role (Bradley Cooper), Adapted Screen Play, Film Editing, and Sound Mixing.

The movie broke records on its opening weekend. It has grossed $105,000,000 so far. However, not everyone loves this movie.

On Sunday Seth Rogan tweeted a couple of statements appearing to compare American Sniper to Nazi Propaganda.

American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglorious Basterds.

I just said something “kinda reminded” me of something else. I actually liked American Sniper. It just reminded me of the Tarantino scene.   — Seth Rogen

What gets me about Seth Rogen’s indignation is the hypocrisy of his tweets.  Seth Rogen was associated with the most buzzed about movie of 2014.

I’ll beit the movie was a comedy and certainly doesn’t reach the cinematic standards of American Sniper. However, the premise of his movie involved two American journalist assassinating a nonfictional evil dictator and enemy of the United State of America.

How is the subject matter different? Both movies depict good forces, the United State of America overcoming evil in the world, regardless of whether the stories being toward are fake or real.

Seth isn’t the only Hollywood elite who is up in arms. Hollywood fundamentally doesn’t understand mainstream America’s acceptance and appeal of American Sniper. There is no exaggeration when I say Hollywood doesn’t get it. Hollywood has long been out of touch with main street Americans.

Believe me Jane Fonda or Sean Penn don’t get you. Then again Hollywood is no stranger to hypocrisy. See any Hollywood elite who calls for gun control yet stars in a shoot’em up blockbuster movie.

Here is what makes American Sniper great and why main street folks appreciate American Sniper.

American Sniper tells the story of an American Navy Seal. Chris Kyle served in the Navy from 1999 until 2009. Chris Kyle’s job wasn’t easy. He served his country and did things others wouldn’t do so our freedoms would be protected.

Kyle, had 160 confirmed kills which was included in 255 claimed kills. He is the most successful sniper in the United States military. The lives he took were of people who wanted to see harm to America. He and his brothers and sisters in the Armed Services did what had to be done in order to preserve the very fabric of America. For this I will not apologize for counting Chris Kyle among America’s heroes. Just like every other service person.

Without these people we wouldn’t be able to quibble about topics of these sorts.

Kyle was awarded some of the US military’s highest honors. He became so good that terrorist called him “Devil of Ramadi”. There was even a bounty placed on his head. May all our service men and women place that much fear in the nonexistent hearts of terrorist every where. I want terrorist to become sick at the very thought of a United States service member coming after them.

I won’t apologize for that.

Kyle’s life after the military continued to be brave and valiant. He worked with service people suffering from post war effects. Even after giving everything he could while in the military he came home and continued to serve other American heroes.

Tragically, his life was taken on February 2, 2013 by a fellow veteran Kyle was trying to help.

Kyle was quoted as saying “MY REGRETS ARE ABOUT THE PEOPLE I COULDN’T SAVE.”

Kyle was brave, tough, and the essence of what an American hero is.  It is okay if you disagree. You can even believe he was none of what I’ve described but it is important to remember you couldn’t have your stupid opinion without this man’s sacrifice. Something Hollywood will never understand….

This in itself is humbling.

“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo- far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.” ― Jodi Picoult

There is pain in life. No one escapes this fact. We all get hurt. It doesn’t matter if it’s physically or emotionally. It happens.This common thread weaves humanity tighter together.

I’m reminded of an incident that happened to me as a child. I stepped on a toothpick. It broke in half while leaving a part of it lodged in the bottom of my foot. My parents didn’t want to attempt to remove it and I was shivering uncontrollably, no doubt due to fear. So I was whisked off to the emergency room. After a very long wait I finally got to see the doctor.

The doctor injected at shot into the punctured wound as to numb the area. He then cut my foot open and removed the toothpick. It was blue.

From that entire experience one thing stood out and I remember his words to this day. The doctor told me that I would have a little bit more pain in order to feel much better. It would help provide relief. At the time he was referencing the huge needle he was about to stick into an open wound in my foot.

However as I mature, I find that needle was a metaphor I would use throughout my life. It’s not as poetic as “Its darkest before dawn” but it works.

Life throws things our way. Some things that seem as if they are insurmountable. They make us feel powerless. Maybe even like giving up.

Whether you are going through a divorce, a death of a love one, an illness, legal woes, or any other awful situation it does get better. The struggle may feel as if it won’t end. It may be an ongoing issue for years and in some cases life but it will end.

Thus far your track record for getting through bad days is 100%. You couldn’t ask for a better statistic.

The path to a solution or better days may be treacherous and long but oh so worth it. Those horrible days that strung together that made months and even years will be a blur.

That is one of the amazing things about healing. One day you raise your head and that issue you thought you couldn’t overcome is a thousand miles away and you’re a thousand miles closer to recovery. We just can’t see that in the thick of it all. We are burdened by problem. Our rational thoughts are clouded by the issue.

That needle may be long and thick and look like it could take out a rhino but once its over you can start healing. The issue will get worse before it gets better but then it heals.

Our past has a way of creeping up on us. Old scars pulse from time to time but they are scars. They aren’t present day problems any longer.  You overcame.

The resiliency of the human spirit is amazing. The will to live is one of our greatest assets. We have countless stories of people overcoming the odds and making it. We should all work toward adding our names to that list. We can work together and help one another achieve that goal. We can push the bounds of human resiliency.

This in itself is humbling.

 

“Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.” ― Marilyn Monroe

Having a Christian faith in today’s American pop-cultured fueled society will certainly ensure you are seen as an out of touch lunatic.

Don’t get me wrong the media doesn’t mind people believing in God. However, He has to be completely loving with no standards for morality and never chastising.

I recently read an article discussing Sadie Robertson being on DWTS (Dancing With The Stars). The writer called their Christian faith “overt”. Simply because their TV show based on their family and family business includes their faith.

Who would have thought, Christians using biblical principles to raise a family and develop a business? What a foreign concept?

I’m not affirming I necessarily agree with everything the Robertson clan believes. However, it’s ridiculous to me the media treats them like the plague simply because they believe in a merciful God that wishes to fellowship with us, deeply flawed and sinful humans, through His son Jesus Christ.

The media and Hollywood loves to depict the Christian like a nut bag simply because they do not fit their own narrative.

If one believes in monogamy, saving one’s self for marriage, and modesty they are at worst judgmental and at best as cute and naïve as a woodland creature. Oh bless his/her heart that’s so precious.

Just Google Lolo Jones and see how many articles you will find discussing her decision to remain celibate until marriage.

There are many bad “Christians” out there. See: The Westboro Baptist Church or the KKK.

However. The media constantly reminds society those nut bags are associated with Christians.

Forget the average Christian deplores those groups of people. However, when you point this out you are met with opposition.

Furthermore, when you point out the ills of radical Islam, you are labeled an Islamaphobe.

Even when you make the distinction between peaceful Islamists and radicals.

The media loves to highlight stories of the crazy minority of Christians who do believe in awful things. However, they will not highlight radical Islam.
For instance, there are reports of a radical Islamist who killed a 19-year-old freshman in college for being an American. This was in New Jersey. The same guy killed two gay men in Seattle. Why? Because according to radical Islamist homosexuals must be killed. These are not alleged crimes. He confessed to them for the very reasons I listed.

Do you think the mainstream media has reported this or that Hollywood will make movies remembering the victims?

Of course not! Instead they perpetuate a cycle that worships the monsters. How many movies has Hollywood made that outlines how complicated and misunderstood a serial killer is?

Did you know the living Boston Bomber has a following of women who believes he is innocent and doesn’t deserve to rot in jail and face death penalty?

I find it deplorable that the victims of heinous crimes are an after thought and the monsters who commit the crimes are seen as rock stars.

You can’t make this up!

What gets me is the amount of disdain for Christianity. Look, I get it we haven’t always gotten it right. We let societal beliefs seep through Biblical principle. However, I’d like to think that we are making strides to get back to true biblical principles.

What’s more impressive is the media and Hollywood has done an excellent job in convincing the average American that they and their beliefs are in the minority.

A large majority of regular folks in this country believes in God, moral standards, hard work, and family values.

However, what is on tv doesn’t represent this at all. A majority of shows are about hip twenty something’s that don’t work and have the moral high ground of an inch worm. They usually never believe in God lest there is a tragic event to occur in their life.

The belief that you live by high moral standards is deemed uncool, judgmental, and lame.

I mean think of all the fun you are missing out on?

This isn’t to bash folks who live this way. But why is my lifestyle so threatening to you? I don’t openly trash the things you participate in. Yet the media and Hollywood seems to be so defensive of their beliefs.

Media and the Hollywood elites don’t have to convert. Live your life the way you wish. It’s your right.

However it would be nice if the “Christian” character wasn’t a whack-a-doodle that isn’t socially inept.

The average folks that work hard, the average Americans are the ones lining your pockets with cash.  They are the ones that consume your media content. I would think you being respectful to your audience would be the idea.

Instead Christians are insulted, after all they are an easy target. They do not have a billion dollar platform to defend themselves. They are too busy raising families, working hard, and contributing to society in more meaningful and productive ways. With out these people, that are the butt of your jokes, society would not be the well oiled machine that it is.

We should give thanks for those who want to help keep the fabric of society in tact. Those that wish to keep family centered. The people who truly affect society. We need more of that.

This in itself is humbling.