Tuesday, November 22, 2016
It's important to note that these well meaning kind gestures almost always come from people who do NOT work with youth. If they did there would be a few things they would understand. Like the fact that sometimes when discussing a case with a co-worker, you might refer to a teenager as a "complete dick" or some other colorful descriptive term. Like the fact that on many occasions you find yourself nearly dissociated in the midst of chaos and arguing questioning all of your life choices up to this point and considering that throwing your keys on the desk and walking out the door might be your best chance at salvaging what is left of your life. That you look at your paycheck in comparison to your student loan debt and realize that you will never be able to pay even the interest. That you will probably never own a new car or a house (unless you are lucky enough to be partnered with someone who has made more lucrative career choices)
A very good friend and co-worker of mine once responded to the old "you're such a good person" platitude with the best response I've ever heard. He said, "no I'm NOT a very good person, that's why I do this work" I understood his meaning behind that. It was not intended as a sort of self flagellation an atonement for mistakes made earlier in life, but rather an affirmation that it takes one to know one. In order to be fully present and empathetic with troubled youth, having a history of one's own troubled youth goes a long way. It goes a long way in having the strength and resilience to let the insults roll off your back, because you have probably hurled similar insults at adults in your day. You understand that the testing they put you through is merely their way of finding out if you will care for them unconditionally or if you will turn your back on them and abandon them as so many have done before you. You know that they crave the same things you craved yet resisted when you were a troubled youth. There is the promise of some redemption, some healing of your own wounded child if only you can give them the kind of guidance you were denied. But don't expect accolades from the ones you nurture, they are more often than not likely to reject your acceptance, because it goes against everything they have experienced so far. No we don't do this for accolades and appreciation. In fact many of us don't even really understand why we do it, we just do because it's something we feel driven to do. A calling perhaps, a compulsion, maybe if you've been lucky, a tribute to someone who helped you out along the way.
So, please, when I tell you what I do for a living don't tell me what a wonderful person I am. Don't attempt to canonize me. Just say thanks. The appreciation for a job well done goes a long way in any field.
And it wouldn't hurt my feelings if you ever have the chance to lobby or appeal for better pay for youth workers. We make on average 10 to 20 grand less per year than teachers. And we don't have a union (in fact the National organization that represents social workers seems to recoil from the idea of unionization...we're supposed to be in this for the love of the work, not much more. And while we do love the work, (who would go back to the place that just yesterday triggered a massive existential crisis if they didn't? ) we work very hard and for not much more than fulfillment of that nagging compulsion to be where we are. We are not saints, we are simply following out destiny.
© 2010-2016 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Probably the biggest lesson I picked up on is that my jail fears were way off base. For most people the biggest fear of jail is the other inmates. You know all the horror stories and jokes, I don't need to repeat them. In reality most people who are in County jail are not murderers and/or rapists eagerly rubbing their hands together at the prospect of "fresh meat". If anything my grand entrance to the dorm with my arm load of fresh bedding and false bravado, was pretty anti climactic. Most of the women barely looked up from their game of cards or tv show or whatever it was they were using to pass the time. When someone finally did approach me it was an older woman with a gentle and motherly nature who took me under her wing, telling me that since I'd just missed canteen day she would hook me up with coffee for the next few days. Within minutes we were in her cell sipping lukewarm instant coffee mixed with "hot" tap water, looking at photos of her grandchildren. Like any grandmother she was beaming with pride and full of stories. She was clearly an elder, both on the inside and out, and by befriending her I managed to secure a fair amount of space for the remainder of my stay.
© 2010-2015 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Of course there are many brilliant minds and amazing writers who do have blogs worth reading. Why bother trying to get published in an industry that is overwhelmed and frankly probably highly controlled for content? Write a blog.
Then there are people who really, really just like to hear themselves talk, no shortage of those, and they can reach a much larger audience with a blog. Why limit your rants to friends and family who have all heard what you have to say a zillion times?
I am fascinated by how different the world is for young people who have always had the internet. And smartphones. For them instant communication with a relatively unlimited audience is just the way things are. They can't imagine having to wait to use a telephone to confess some deep dark secret or some bit of exciting news to their best friend. Or having to wait for a piece of mail to arrive in response to a letter you sent a week earlier. Or the intimacy of the sweaty piece of paper cautiously being unwrapped while hiding in the bathroom stall at school awaiting the answer to the big question 'do you like me?'
I'm only a bit nostalgic for those times. Really I thrive on the ability to be able to have instant responses. I'm thrilled by the fact that some of the people I have the most stimulating conversations with are people I would never have known before the internet, and who I may never meet in person. I care about these people and I know they care about me. I've always been a bit of an oddball and good friends are hard to come by. I think many of the people I've grown close to online are cut from the same cloth. When I was so sick and miserable on treatment for Hepatitis C I found groups and individuals who offered real support and understanding because they knew exactly what I was experiencing. It was a wider base than I could have had access to by going to the one and only support group that was offered in town and consisted of about 20 people at best. In my experience, being an oddball, in a group that size I'm lucky to find one or two who really clicks with all of the aspects of my life not just the topic of the group.
So ok, I've been an inconsistent blogger. I won't say bad, I won't say great, I just am who I am, quirky, oddball, whatever. I am a voracious communicator, although I'm not even sure 'voracious' fits in that context, but it's my blog so I'm using it that way. And isn't that the beauty of all this. We can do it our way, so long as we're not claiming to be experts or speaking on a topic that requires study and expertise. If I am an expert in anything it's doing things in my own oddball way and encouraging others to embrace their own eccentricities. So this post is dedicated to all my friends, near and far, in person and online, I am so grateful for you all and for your humor, honesty and courage to be yourselves! Thank you for being you.
© 2010-2014 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard
Sunday, May 18, 2014
The reason middle aged and older people are comfortable with who we are and choices we make is, in my opinion, largely due to the lack of hormones that these products attempt to stimulate or simulate. It's quite simple, us older people are more wise and confident because we are not constantly obsessing about how to get laid!!!!
Granted I'm not sure how Viagra works, but it is only one of a few products and schemes designed to enable older adults to 'feel sexy', and perform sexy.. There is HRT (Hormone replacement therapy) for women which is designed to help with the symptoms of menopause and presumably is of some benefit in preventing certain types of cancer. I did not choose to try this option myself, but I don't hold it against anyone who does especially if their menopause symptoms are interfering with daily life. I have heard some women, including a celebrity or two, advocate HRT for the youthful effects. Some are cosmetic, apparently hormones can stave off some of the changes that effect the aging process, but I've also heard women gushing about their increased sex drive. I guess this comes in handy for celebrity women who seem to wear young men on their arm like fashion accessories, but most of us don't need to keep up with a 20 something libido. Speaking for myself when recalling my own libido at ago 20 something, I'm not so sure I'd want to revisit that intensity. Hey it was great at the time and I took ample advantage of the opportunities but 30 years later I am just naturally inclined to save my energies for other things.
I'm not saying that once we hit a certain age we ought to become celibate, close up shop completely, but like so many other interpersonal relationships things do change with age and experience. And to give credit where credit is due this change in my activities is not entirely the result of some inner peace and harmony or great spiritual awakening, it's pretty much quite simply a change in hormonal composition. It's a change I can live with and since I was one of those people who seemed to have an overflow of hormones in my youth, it's actually been a relief. It was hard work keeping up with all those demands my body kept insisting I fulfill.
So you all rock on with your pharmaceutical hornyness if that makes you happy, for me I'll take the peace of mind.
© 2014 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard
Monday, March 24, 2014
Yes it has been, literally and figuratively. I opened my blogger account for the first time in over a month and there are a half dozen unfinished drafts.
This winter has sapped me of my soul I swear.
It's really rather unpleasant to have the experience of going outdoors become physically and emotionally painful.
I don't know what my issue is but I've been labeled as depressed, chronically fatigued and a few other trendy diagnoses. All I know is that there are periods of time when I have no energy and no motivation. It's not as though I'm particularly unhappy at these times, I'm just not that into doing much. And that's the average day. On the bad days my body resists any plans my brain might consider. It doesn't just resist, it aches, it refuses, it calls a general strike.
It is in winter that I feel like a bear, I just want to eat a lot of fat and sleep.
I'm waking up and emerging from hibernation now and feeling my creativity re emerging as well, and not a moment to soon, I was beginning to bore myself.
Happy Spring and to those of us in the southern hemisphere, Happy Autumn!