Welcome back to A Trip Back in Time! In part two we are going back to 2011 briefly, and in lightening speed with a brief summary of the last 3 years, we will reach 2014! The ride will slow as we reach 2014 and discuss it in depth. So…. Here we go again! Enjoy the fast ride through the wormhole of time!
∞∞∞∞∞∞woosh, woosh, spiral, spiral∞∞∞∞∞∞
∞∞∞∞∞∞2011 – 2014 Summary∞∞∞∞∞∞
Late winter to Spring, 2011∞∞∞∞∞∞
2011 was an enlightening year for me, both on the school spectrum and in personal life. In 2009 I started community college and majored in Psychology, but only learned basic concepts of the field. I always wondered what was beyond the written textbooks, and what it is, inside ourselves, that keeps us going in our lives. So, in 2011, in my personal life, I started studying heavily the unconscious mind, and dabbled into studying mysticism books. I suppose you can say, I started studying the subject of “New Age”, even though, really, it is just a mix of ancient writings and beliefs becoming “popular/noticed” within the western world, once again.
In 2011 I began reading the works of C.G. Jung and Carlos Castaneda, Teachings of Don Juan series, and began meditation as well to become in tune with my Self in order to find some direction and drive in my life. I will speak more on my Spiritual Journey later on.
Click here to read a bit about C.G. Jung
Click here to learn a bit about Carlos Castaneda and the Teachings of Don Juan series
In the school spectrum, after taking one semester off from school to “collect my thoughts” I decided to return back to school, where I gained new insight from a Human Development course, where I was introduced to Hospice care. I started volunteering at a Hospice, which in turn helped me to choose my chosen career path of Social Work.
∞∞∞∞∞∞Time speeds on, in comes 2012∞∞∞∞∞∞
This year I continue to self study the unconscious mind, meditate off and on, and develop self-determination and gain more knowledge about my chosen career path of Social Work. I gain purpose, determination, and more self knowledge in the Fall of 2012 as I begin the two year Social Work program at my local college.
I continue to grow, develop, as I study, volunteer, prepare presentations, write research papers with classmates, gain new friendships, gain knowledge of what I want in an intimate relationship, and ponder my future career in Social Work outside of school. Anxiety grows within me, but I still remain hopeful.
∞∞∞∞∞∞2013 ends, 2014 begins ∞∞∞∞∞∞
(The ride will now slow, go on and catch your breath)
(this first paragraph may sound a bit repetitive from beginning of part 1, but it is with a purpose).
As stated in part 1, January was a hopeful time. Since I didn’t know what to expect, I was feeling anxious, a feeling that carried throughout most of the year, but of course, I remained hopeful. I was in my last semester of the Social Work program! And I began my 480 VOLUNTEER hour internship at a local Hospice, a place I was already volunteering at for, at the time, over 2 years. I already knew the respite experience of Hospice, but I didn’t know the Social Work side of Hospice. I wanted to know all sides of the place I’ve dedicated so much of my time to, and around a subject that many are not comfortable with: death and dying. I was hopeful for an opening and growing experience that may hold certainty of what I, my self, would want to do as a profession. It would answer the question: Do I want to work in a Hospice setting, around the subject of death and dying?
January was full of introductions at Hospice, speaking with the staff about what Hospice is, meeting the staff, meeting the three Social Workers, watching documentaries related to Palliative care and Hospice policy, and planning out what will go on throughout the internship that’ll go on until the end of April. Similar planning was done at college, planning the events, assignments, presentations and such that will be conducted in my last semester, and preparing for graduation in May. My wheels were spinning, so much to take in…
January was a bit slow, it was filled with planning and little action, but February picked up. In February, at Hospice, I began going on Home Visits with the Hospice Social Workers. At first I didn’t take part in the discussions on the home visits, but halfway through February I started to take part in the discussions, but still haven’t conducted an entire assessment on my own. At the end of February I was introduced to the Suncoast program they used on the computer to document the assessments. I also took part in weekly IDT meetings, where information and data about patients were given to the interdisciplinary team. At these meetings they discussed interventions if needed for certain patients and their families. Taking part in these meetings, and being introduced to the software they use in documenting the assessments, helped me to feel professional and a bit at ease with the profession of a Hospice Social Worker. I was beginning to feel I had some sort of purpose, importance, and the staff always made me feel welcome. I was beginning to feel comfortable, despite my anxiety and timid exterior.
On the school front, I was beginning to brainstorm what I wanted to write my capstone thesis on. The field of Mental Health has always fascinated me, and always is the first thought when I think of what I want to do as a career, so I figured I’d write my thesis on something related to Mental Health. But which area? Children and families? Adults? Young adults, adolescences? Special Needs children, Special Needs adults? The elderly? Severely Mentally Ill? Substance Abuse? What specifically is it about Mental Health that interests me…? Specific disorders? Mood disorders, dissociative disorders… which area? Specifically what? Why? How are you going to help improve this area of study? What is lacking?
So many questions were popping up… I had no direction… I was so scattered… Mixed emotions… I was beginning to feel mania, even, the highs and lows of hyperactivity, anxiety, to the lows of depression, slow moving, and lethargic in a sense but not to the point of it harming my studies or ability to function during my internship.
Also, outside of school and Hospice, I met up with my team, classmates who I conducted research with, related to Homebound Elderly and Friendly Visiting. The purpose of this study was to determine if weekly one-hour friendly visits with homebound elderly individuals would decrease feelings of depression and social isolation among the elderly population in the local area. We are to present our paper in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in April. My wheels were spinning, mind on over drive… How the hell am I going to present and the WSSA conference when I can barely speak to in front of the class, to my own classmates, without being awkward and timid!?!?!?!?!?
But maybe this group presentation (that we have been preparing for the past month, since end of January) I have to do in front of the class will help ease my anxiety. I mean, if I can do this, I can present at WSSA conference right? I’ve known my classmates for a year and half now. This will be cake.
Ah, how I was going/feeling crazy inside by the beginning of March. Hope was still there, but teetering, but I refused to let it go. I never was one to be a pessimist.
First week of March came. First presentation to the class of the semester is here. My three team members start it off with awesome presentations and introductions, with some experience from their own internships. When it gets to my turn I become discouraged, they have had awesome experience… me? I have too but not on the level as them (so I thought). I become insecure, I freeze, my voice shakes. Another awkward presentation. Then the role playing bit… I did OK with that, FINALLY getting use to role playing scenarios, but… still awkward. I am now discouraged and nervous about WSSA presentation. But there is a silver lining! Inside me I feel a heated determination, almost like a calm anger (that of course never got released). I REFUSED to choke up again! So, instead of winging my presentations like I have always been doing (which is probably why I did horrible in them, since my personality isn’t quite like my outgoing proactive team members), I began practicing at home.
I practiced my part of the WSSA presentation over and over until I felt comfortable enough to present it to myself in my room. I practiced with my team members. At first I choked up even with them, but over time and with their patience, I finally was able to do my part in front of them with comfort. My team members always knew of my shyness, but they were and are always encouraging, which is why we all became good friends.
In the last week of March, a week before we were to fly to Albuquerque, NM, to present at the WSSA conference, my teammates and I presented our presentation to our classmates. I, finally even though nervous, was able to successfully present my piece without awkward pauses or shaky voice. My team, classmates, and professor were proud. I was proud of me. I felt a small sort of accomplishment. I knew, then, I was ready to present at the conference. Ah, but if only, if only, this feeling of accomplishment would transfer over into my Hospice Social Work internship.
I was still nervous, anxious, and hesitant about doing a full assessment on my own at Hospice. The Social Workers were encouraging of course, but in the end a job needs to be done and Hospice’s good reputation must not falter, so if I was too slow in beginning the assessment, they’d do it instead. Of course, that’s understandable, they are getting paid not me… and we can not add more stress, confusion, to patients and their families. I began thinking, maybe Hospice wasn’t for me after all?
Within the month of March I also spoke frequently with my Supervisor, who once was a Social Worker. He said it may be best for me to seek counseling to help me over come my anxiety. I mentioned to him my interest in Mental Health. He said, kindly, that the supervisors will “Eat you alive” if you don’t over come your anxiety, or learn to work through it. But, you know, the traditional route of Social Work may not be for you, and if not that is ok. You can look into Social Media and online Social Work, you write very well… If you bring in your resume I can even help you set it up… I am here to help you in any way I can.” Despite his, somewhat, encouraging words, I still felt discouraged… eat you alive… part stuck with me for a long time. It brought back memories of what my Crisis Professor stated early in the semester… “there is no room for a timid Social Worker… timid Social Workers remain case managers: overworked, underpaid…” were along the lines of my professors words (but of course not his EXACT words). I know he was trying to encourage the class to take action, be proactive, and work through our fears and be ok to make mistakes, but… I felt those words were directed toward me (even if they weren’t, exactly), so I was like… How can I be a traditional Social Worker, and work in the Mental Health field, with this anxiety? I, then, really began to think about my future, and also to analyze what I am feeling within myself.
I left my cares and worries behind for a few days during the first week of April, while in Albuquerque, NM with my team members and professor. I was anxious but excited about the presentation I was to do with my team, maybe because I knew I wouldn’t know anyone I’ll be presenting to, nor will I meet them again. So, when the day came for us to present, I did my part successfully, even if the nerves were there. So I was hopeful, and overcoming my stage fright. My team and I enjoyed our three days in Albuquerque, and we became closer friends due to this experience. It was a great experience, and I wouldn’t mind taking part in another research project that will be presented at WSSA conference in the future. Possibilities are endless… right? I will see where the future takes me.
So the trip to Albuquerque came and went, and the same ol’ routine was once again picked up. One major thing done successfully and out of the way, off to another: finishing my internship, thesis paper, and anticipating graduation. Oh, and of course, doing a couple assessments ON MY own at Hospice, so that I can prove I am capable of doing it.
Well, I did to two assessments on my own but, they were a bit awkward… though passable to get my grade and pass my internship, I didn’t feel I was well prepared to go out on my own and be a successful social worker in the Hospice field, at this point in time. So, the place I dedicated so much time to as a volunteer, around a subject I held dear and close attention to, was, after all, not a place to start my social work career. I felt disappointed, discouraged, and a little brokenhearted. But, it’s part of growing pains! There’s a blessing in every disappointment, or ever road block. Sometimes we have to backtrack, or pause, in order to really find what we need for ourselves.
Despite my realization that Hospice Social Work, at this point in my life, is not for me – not quite yet – I will not take back all the time I spent with Hospice. As a volunteer, and as an intern Social Worker, I learned a lot, matured, and gained new perspectives of my life. I saw what I need to improve on, and what my strengths are. I still have drive, purpose, even if my somewhat child like “hope” seemed faltered.
On the school front, April was the month I really got cracking on my thesis, other than flipping through research articles related to mental health and mood disorders. I decided to do my thesis on Psychosocial interventions and Pharmaceutical Treatment for Maladaptive Behavior in Individuals with Bipolar Disorder. I have personal experience with Bipolar, not necessarily with my self, but my mother has been diagnosed with Bipolar Type 1 disorder. I am not a fan of labels, but as I researched the disorder on my own, I was able to relate many of its symptoms to my own life. I learned a lot through researching mood disorders, with emphasis on Bipolar, and the different types of medications, and the side affects, as well as psychosocial interventions that are used to treat Bipolar. My research broadened my perspective, once again, and fueled my drive even more: I definitely want to pursue my Social Work career within the mental health profession. But I still felt I was not ready to pursue this field proactively, right off the bat… they’ll eat you alive… there is no room for timid Social Workers… these whispers still haunted my mind. I knew, for sure, I would have to do a lot of soul searching before I can dive head first into that unknown professional field.
May is here! My internship officially finished, thesis being polished up and turned in, and graduation in the middle of the month! Soon, BSW I would have!
Well, graduation day came and went. A small celebration and graduation high ended. My hope is wavering, still. I’m confused, lost, and filled with uncertainty… they’ll eat you alive… there is no room for timid Social Workers…
My college years came and went. From Psychology, to Sociology, to Human Development, to Social Work, with a trail of essays, research papers, and awkward presentations, I have begun developing my vision of my future Social Work career. But my steps forward are toddler like, and one foot feels glued to the ground, while my other foot hangs loosely in the air, wanting desperately to step on the ground and force the back leg forward.
June was spent mostly in contemplation. I began going for long walks once again, searching half-assly for job opportunities online, not being too proactive because I felt I was not ready yet to be. I needed to figure out ME first, what I REALLY want to do. So, my soul searching once again was picked up, something I put to the side for a year and half, while I was busy with the Social Work program.
So, I began going for long brisk walks, exercising again on and off, to physically and mentally improve myself. Clarity was forming in the back of my mind, but has yet to surface to the front, to my conscious mind.
In July some progress was made. My resume was revised, and I applied for a job at a local Nursing Home for Social Worker position. I was feeling hopeful. Once I submitted my application, I got called in for an interview. I was grateful and excited about this, but nervous; I never did have an actual job interview! So I prepared to the best of my ability for it… or so I thought.
I went in that morning, at the end of July, for my first job interview. I was nervous, timid, and at first I was doing ok in the interview. But then my nerves took over, and I choked and a long awkward pause came. They asked me questions related to a scenario, and asked how I’d handle the situation. It had to do with reflection of feeling, and I knew that, but for some reason a mind block came and my mind went blank, and I just stared with a red face of embarrassment. I then was embarrassed because I didn’t speak! It was a mess… I finally regained my cool though, and was able to answer the rest of the questions in an ok fashion but… I don’t think I passed the interview because I froze! It is kind of comical as I look back now (I’ve had a couple more interviews after this one) but at the time it was very embarrassing and discouraging.
More soul searching, more fishing for a job (online). The last week of August, I got another catch at another Nursing Home in town. I again, went in for the interview, and, once again, bombed it… I don’t think working with the elderly in nursing homes or Hospice is my forte at this time in my life. This interview too was a bit comical; I am laughing at it inside at the moment, but again it was a growing experience. Ah, growing pains! I know now to mark out Nursing Homes and Geriatrics, for now, off my list of possible careers in Social Work. But who knows where my path will lead me, because Geriatrics and Hospice, too, are still areas I’m very much interested in. With more professional experience in Social Work (social services, too) I may feel more comfortable about perusing Geriatrics and/or Hospice (or even Home Care) once again.
In September I once again began mediation, getting more in tune with myself, and began writing creatively again, something I haven’t done int the past couple years. And at the end of September, I again had a job interview – but this time I did well! I learned from my past two experiences! The interview was for a “behavioral technician” position at a charter school, in the “Special Education” department of the elementary section, to work with children ages 9 years to 13 years old, who have a form of emotional disability, or other behavioral issues that keeps them from functioning in a “normal” classroom. I feel purpose building within me once again. I was hired through a company called Learn It systems. Learn It systems “provides comprehensive special education services for students with emotional disabilities, as well as an alternative education program for students with challenging behaviors.”
Click here for more information about Learn It systems
From Hospice, to Nursing homes, to Pubescence
June, July, august, September goes by. Summer ends, Fall begins. Talk about retrograding: I went from Hospice, elderly in Nursing Homes, to the beginning of pubescence years. What a change! But purpose is building, because in the back of my mind I always wanted to work with children around the ages of pubescence or younger (hence my short volunteer experience at the local Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club that I mentioned in part 1).
So, after a couple weeks of filling out paperwork and being put in the system, I was finally able to begin “training” at the charter school I’ll be working at. The training consisted of three full days of “shadowing” and being introduced to the point system they use in the classroom. I learned students are able to graduate out of the program by earning enough points. Points are earned by following the 5 classroom rules: Follow direction, respect, on task, self control, and participation. The program is built on building a “lotus of control” within the self. Self control is important and is taught through this program. Part of the training was to get to know the 12 students in the classroom.
The three days of “training” was definitely an experience, but a good one. I learned that there are multiple forms of autism, as well as how creative those who are hyperactive (like who have ADHD) can be. I learned that “special education” doesn’t always mean a physical disability, or a disability that cant be worked with, nor does it mean they are “intelligently impaired”. I learned they were, and are, like typical children at that age, just at times their behavior and emotions are out of control. With the proper attention, and way of speaking and behaving, they learn that they are in control of their own behavior, and their own actions is what creates consequences, and that it’s not someone else’s fault for how they react to their emotions, but their own. With every “point” they students may lose, praise must be given as well if they decide to follow that rule, and an explanation must be made as to why they lost that point or points for a certain period.
The students, at first, didn’t warm up to me well. Some tested me with their comments and “acting out” when I decided to help them become aware of their behavior. They told me “you aren’t a teacher, you’re just a substitute.” But I told them I’m in training, and that I should be shown respect to (in a nice and fair way of course). Over the past few days I was training, some of the kids did warm up to me and were willing to listen to me. Most of the students, due to the emotional disability they may have or behavior issue, do not adapt to change very easily, and that includes meeting new people. So I knew that it may take some time for the majority of the students to warm up to me, accept me, and respect me as another Behavioral technician in the room (there are always two Behavioral Techs in the room with the teacher).
And also in October, the first week, I started this blog, which I have been posting (for the most part) at least once a week! 🙂
November was a great month, filled with wonderful experiences. In the second week of November a special friend came to visit me. We went on a week road trip to Northern Arizona and Southern Utah, where we hiked a variety of canyons: Southern Utah, Bryce and Zion, Northern Arizona, part of the North and South Rim of Grand Canyon, and some of Sedona. We also visited Vegas, NV (the city of lights) and San Diego to see the beach. To read more about the road trip experience, please go to categories page and click travel!
Also, since the Behavioral Technician job I currently have is per diem (as needed) I do not work a set schedule, and not often, but in the third week of November (after I returned from the road trip) I was able to work that entire week. During that week I became use to the system, and the majority of the students became use to me. I was beginning to feel I have a place here, at this school, as a Behavioral technician.
I was only able to work one day this month! But I am still hopeful. I’ll see what my future holds in relation to my career and position here at this school, and my options are always kept open.
So, Winter came, as did a quiet Christmas holiday and New Year, and contemplations of the year 2015 began to form.
Brief overview of 2014
January through May: Hospice Social Work internship; WSSA conference; Graduation with a BSW
June though October: lots of soul searching; job hunting; job interviews (mostly failures but one successful one); new job (though per diem)
November through December: Travel with close friend; hiking; contemplations of coming year;
So, after a couple failed and at first embarrassing for me interviews, I realized what I wanted in my life, and I let go of my old fantasies I held so dearly onto for so many years (this will be spoken about at a later time). This summer I learned that working with the elderly in nursing homes and Hospice isn’t something I want to do at this point in time, and I also learned a thing about growing pains, leaving one’s comfort zone, while entering adulthood.
|A look forward to 2015|
So… A Trip Back in Time has now come to an end. I hope you enjoyed the spirally ride!
This year of 2015 I do not know what to expect, and I am ok with that. I have learned to let a lot of things go, including old habits, and let the light within me shine through and guide my path.
Instead of writing a long detailed post about my “plans” for this year and goals, I’ll just post about my journey little by little. Life is ever changing, as am I, so no way to really plan it all out in one post! For now, I will enjoy my Spirit journey, my path of life.
More to come, stay tuned!