This Makes Me Proud…

It’s the second day of reflection before Yom Kippur, and that means answering the 2nd question.  How would you answer this?

Is there something that you wish you had done differently this past year? Alternatively, is there something you’re especially proud of from this past year?

I am really proud of myself for going back to school and completing the first year of the Masters of Social Work program.  It took several years for me to find the courage to quit my job and pursue a new career, and I believe that it has been the best decision.

It has not been easy.  I have always been good at school work.  I do not suffer from test anxiety, so school has come easy for me in the past.  My goal when starting school this time was to enjoy the experience and learn as much as possible — grades and performance would be last on the list of my priorities.  I have been able to stick to this goal and philosophy of school.

What has been hard has been the immersion into social work.  Social work is about social justice; it is about enhancing the life of others.  In the preamble to our code of ethics, our mission reads “The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed and living in poverty.”  Since I have been in school, I have been exposed to so many cases where people are lacking basic human needs, like shelter and food, and I have met and worked with so many vulnerable and oppressed individuals, like those with mental illnesses, the homeless, the elderly, minorities, and those in abusive situations.

That is what has been hard.  I have been blessed in my life with a loving and giving family and friend support system, food and shelter, access to education, a family environment that encouraged education and encouraged me to be successful, good medical care, etc., etc.  The exposure to those who have only a few or none of these is eye-opening and heart-hurting.

And I have asked myself several times if I have the emotional stability to be in this profession.

This is why it has been hard.

But I love it and am proud to be pursuing this career.


Kindergarten Memories

I met one of my good friends for dinner the other night (*waves* Hi, Nikki!) and one of the things that we talked about was her oldest child starting kindergarten this fall semester.  She’s excited and proud and nervous (about him potentially riding the bus) all at once.

Waking up for the first day of Kindergarten

I started to think about my first day at school, and yes, that included riding the school bus.  Mrs. McConnell was my kindergarten teacher and I remember walking into the school room full of other kids.  Here, I met Marla Miller, Scott Bare, Jimmy Thompson and Lance Shumate.  I remember Marla being the first one to talk and play with me (I was too shy to talk to another kid first myself).  I remember Jimmy Thompson kissing Vicky Barker and being shocked (I was a strict rule follower and kissing definitely didn’t follow the rules of the classroom).

And on the bus home that afternoon, our neighbor’s son, Jamie, who was in 7th grade, took my hand and walked me up the bus aisle and helped me climb off the bus.

Waving “Good-bye” on my first day

Marla, Jimmy, Scott and Lance were friends until we graduated from high school.  With the creation of Facebook, I actually know a lot about what is going on in the lives of many of these same people.  Where they live, what they do for a living, if they have children, even what their children look like.  Kindergarten is definitely a watershed moment in a life.  A great beginning — to make friends that can last for the rest of your life, to begin the journey of learning, to begin the process of your world opening up beyond the confines of your family.  I’m a little jealous that I don’t have any such “big Milestone” moment left in my life.

As I look at these pictures, however, I think that my days are actually not that much different than they were back in kindergarten.  I look pretty much the same when I wake up (no “bright-eyed”, morning person for me).  Then I wave good-bye to Matt and head to work.  Sometimes, though, work feels like spending my day with 5 year olds, fighting for attention and arguing over toys.  “I didn’t do it.  He did it.”  “No, she did it.”  “It wasn’t us.” echo around the halls.  The only thing missing is nap time.  And we aren’t as cute with milk mustaches.

And like in kindergarten, whether I end the day with my name in the column for making good decisions or in the column for being a poopy head is entirely up to me.  I don’t wanna be a poopy head so I’ll do my best not to be.  Unless someone kisses me, then all bets are off.