Recovering Addicts Share 3 Surprising Benefits of Sobriety

People working to overcome their substance abuse issues are fighting the battle of a lifetime. It’s not just about rebuilding a healthier life that doesn’t revolve around an addiction — it’s also about learning how to find joy in the simplest details life has to offer.

Through our discussions with people in recovery, we learned that maintaining a positive perspective in your sobriety is a wonderful tool for staying focused on living a fulfilling, drug- and alcohol-free life. And our conversations showed us that there are plenty of ways to stay inspired — many that the people we spoke with never even thought about until they were on the path to recovery!

“We help each other when we’re down and we’re happy for each other when something good happens.” So says Zach, who reached a year of sobriety in June with help from the Treehouse in Texas. Zach and other recovering addicts spoke to me about some of the positives that come with life in recovery, and it turns out that some pretty inspiring stories commonly emerge from the dark experiences of addiction.

1. You can inspire others.

You can inspire others with your story. While you may not have ever considered your life to be inspirational, the fact is that what you’ve accomplished through recovery can show others trying to get to where you are that they can do it too.

I spoke with a number of recovering addicts from various facilities around the country, and I heard time and time again that they learned more from their peers than from trained professionals. That help that you can give to others is a feeling like no other, and can work wonders for your self-esteem.

“I loved seeing people’s faces light up while I was helping them in treatment, and I liked being able to understand what others were going through,” Zach told me. He now hopes to become a licensed substance abuse counselor.

“I want to go on and get my education so I can help others the way the people at the Treehouse helped me. I want to give back to those people,” he added. “By helping just one person, you’re really helping a whole family. If I can make an impact on just one person’s life, I’m fine with that. I just want to do what I can to give back and pass on what’s been given to me.”

2. It becomes easier to open up to people.

Another benefit of sobriety is that you’ll likely find it easier to open up to people than you did while you were using. Wendy said she shares her story as often as she can in the hopes that it will help others.“A lot of people are in denial. I’m not afraid to tell people my whole story, including that I relapsed,” she told me. “That’s probably the best thing that happened to me because it made me realize that I had a drinking problem [in addition to a drug problem].”

3. You’ll find yourself in a better mood more often.

People often think about drugs and alcohol as a way to put themselves in a better mood as they take a break from their problems, but in reality, sobriety will give you a more positive attitude than dangerous substances ever will.

“It’s very rare I’m in a bad mood now, because I’ve learned how to turn my bad mood around,” Wendy said, recalling a time when she came home from work with  groceries, but didn’t get any assistance from her significant other carrying them into the house. She admitted she was perturbed at first, but added, “I sat in my car for a few minutes and thought, ‘Really? Is this something to be mad about?’

“Now instead of letting myself be overwhelmed by negative thoughts, things just disappear,” she explained. “Things aren’t as bad as we make them. We tend to make huge deals of things that are really just tiny specks on the spectrum.”

While it may feel easier to turn to drugs or alcohol to try to cope with your problems, the reality is that you’ll get far more benefits from remaining sober with the right perspective.

Using Superheroes in Play Therapy

family-books-superhero-leadWe all have our superheroes especially because superheroes have the ability to inspire, empower, support and occasionally save us. Sometimes, superheroes help us to save ourselves.

I have already penned some articles about the magical technique of Superhero Therapy, and how the concept of superheroes can be used in different psychotherapeutic approaches to support people who are in distress. However, that exploration was mainly about how we might use superheroes with adults in therapy.

What about using superheroes for children?

Many of the points that stand for adults are true for children. Thinking about superheroes – their lives, adventures, challenges, friends, powers and weaknesses – can provide a range of creative ways of working. This might include problem solving, being kinder to oneself, hearing stories of triumph over adversity, working out what one’s own superpowers are, and finding strength.

The narratives that children tell about superheroes might lead us to understand what they are trying to ‘work through’ (e.g. do they focus on battles, sex and sexuality, people being saved, when things go wrong, when the superhero has to lie about their true identity?). We might also wonder who the child identifies with (sidekick, superhero, police chief, villain), and whether the characters of which they speak represent either feelings, themselves, or other people in their lives.

However, one of the main differences between adult and child therapies is the difference in how playing is used as part of therapy. The organisation Play Therapy UK suggests that around 8/10 children with severe problems, such as emotional or behavioural difficulties, will show positive change after play therapeutic interventions.

Engaging in play, fantasy, and the realm of the imaginary can also make it easier to access and talk about difficult topics. In some ways, this may particularly true for younger people who don’t have the words, experience and knowledge to talk about things directly. Although, being an adult and having more experience is no guarantee that it will be easier to talk about things. Roleplays could be used to help children and their families take different perspectives, and understand each other differently.

Psychodynamic play therapy may simply be allowing a child to play with anything from a box of toys. This could (and probably should) include characters such as superheroes. Commenting on how the child chooses to play, without the therapist actively directing their play, can lead to useful insights about a child’s wellbeing due to the themes and ideas that occur during such play.

Children and young people may also use sandplay – arranging toys and items within the confines of a sandbox, to represent their inner states of mind. The work of Dora Kalff is cited in both the American and British-Irish sandplay organisations – her work is based on Jungian principles that the unconscious will guide the play. Of course, this is not restricted to children and young people, but sandplay is certainly a useful way to reach children particularly.

Filial therapy is one branch of play therapy, which focuses on the relationships. Parents (or caregivers) are seen as the main agents of change, and the sessions are often led by them. The therapist supports the parent in using skills that are similar to nondirective play therapy. The scope for using superheroes here is huge. Superhero narratives can support parents to understand and frame their children’s feelings, or it may be a way for parents and children to find something that they have in common. Using superhero-based toys may also open up a range of potential narratives to parent and child, as described above.

Theraplay®, another type of play work with children, “is a child and family therapy for building and enhancing attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement”. Play tasks have particular aims, and they are designed to develop particular skillsets whilst being fun for all. Theraplay® involves children playing games – with their families – which tap into challenge, structure, shared engagement and nurturing. Children’s favourite superheroes could be incorporated into how the tasks are explained to the child, or superhero-themed items such as soft toys, bubbles etc. could be used as part of the play.

Attachment-Based Play Therapy (ABPT) is a different (less researched) approach, which focuses on teaching children how to feel and experience emotion. It suggests that children should learn how to be accepting of feelings, become able to ‘attach’ to themselves, and take care of themselves from a position of compassion and kindness. In this way, superheroes could be used during play to teach a child how to express and accept their feelings. Examples could be drawn from how superheroes look after themselves, or what the person would say to their favourite hero if that person was sad or distressed.

In conclusion, superheroes have an important place in work with children and young people. Superheroes can fit pretty much anywhere depending on the person and the therapist. For younger people, superheroes can particularly serve to be role models, relatable characters, characters through which a young person can parallel their own experiences, and of course a way to build a rapport with their therapist. With these insights, perhaps more of us can go forth and prosper with the youngsters with whom we work.

Communities Build Tiny Homes for the Homeless

pods

In the city of Austin Texas, a group of people have come together and begun to build small mini pod homes for homelessness individuals in the city which has been deemed the Tiny House Movement. There are also homes that have even been called “Dignity Roller Pods” that were built by Gary Pickering, a man who was once homeless himself.

Around the world, there have been other cities that have taken homelessness into their own hands by creating these mini homes. Some of those places include Florida and Utah. These homes, which require volunteer effort, community support, and donations are being coined as the cheapest and fastest way to temporarily end homelessness.

According to The National Coalition for The Homeless 

  • The number of homeless families with children has increased significantly over the past decade.  Families with children are among the fastest growing segments of the homeless population. In its 2007 survey of 23 American cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that families with children comprised 23% of the homeless population
  • On an average night in the 23 cities surveyed, 94 percent of people living on the streets were single adults, 4 percent were part of families and 2 percent were unaccompanied minors.
  • Seventy percent of those in emergency shelters were single adults, 29 percent were part of families and 1 percent were unaccompanied minors.  Of those in transitional housing, 43 percent were single adults, 56 percent were part of families, and 1 percent were unaccompanied minors.

I applaud this movement and the efforts put forth by this group of people. I love this idea and it’s extremely creative. However, I am also saddened. Is this the best America can do collectively to help provide shelter to the millions of homeless citizens within our borders? There are numerous services the homeless can benefit from, but due to the abundance of people who are in need, communities are having to take matters into their own hands to see a real change.

These small pods may help some homeless individuals, but what about food, clothing, warmth, being able to take care of their hygiene, or being able to cook healthy meals? What about the homeless families in need that may have more than just one person who yearns for shelter? They may have young babies or newborns that cannot fit in a small pod altogether. It takes more than just a temporary fix, and more Affordable Housing and Transitional Housing Programs are needed.

Children From Adversity: Interview with Travis Lloyd

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Children from adversity is a term often used to describe children who have experienced childhood traumas, abuse, and/or stressful conditions which could dwarf their emotional and physical growth. When we think of children from adversity, we tend to imagine children heading down the wrong path towards prison, and we often hear the horror stories of the foster care system going wrong.

What about the successes, and those who defy the odds of escaping their circumstances? Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Travis Lloyd, an artist, and motivational speaker, who had to navigate his way through many foster homes and group homes in order to get where he is today.

The experience and knowledge of a child from adversity is a valuable resource helping professionals should be utilizing more often as a source of expertise. Are we adequately measuring, identifying, and using as resources children from adversity who have escaped their childhood circumstances in order to determine what’s working and what’s not?

Children from adversity who are able to flourish despite their environment often display resiliency and survival skills many researchers still can not predict. Fortunately, Travis is using the skill sets he has developed in order to help others. I ran across Travis on Twitter when I viewed a YouTube video someone tweeted me, and I had to share his story with you.

SWH: Tell us a bit about your background, and what lead to your current role as a motivational speaker.

Travis: I have a story of Achieving Success Against All Odds, which is the mantra that I’ve built my speaking platform on.  This stems from beating the odds of the negative statistics related to foster care.  As far as my young mind could tell, I had a fairly normal life as a child. All of that changed when my parents divorced around the age of 9.  My parents had a rough divorce, as far too many people can relate to.  My father ended up in county jail due to the physical altercations and my mother wasn’t quite able to hold things together so she ended up hospitalized for her emotional instability.  My sister is six years older than me and struggled to cope as a teen.  She ended up running the streets and doing drugs so she went to drug treatment.

I ended up in two foster homes for a couple of months before my mother, sister and I relocated to Iowa, where my mother’s family is from.  Middle school was a struggle between a constantly unstable home life and bouncing in and out of a few group homes.  My aunt and uncle made a difference in my life by taking me out of that environment and giving me a permanent home to live in when I was about 14.  I stabled out in high school, but still struggled with some identity issues when I went away to college.  I started as a business major, but switched to nursing to have a guaranteed good income upon graduating.  I started a career as an ER nurse at the same time as taking custody of my 9 year old nephew.  I wasn’t satisfied working long hours in a high stress environment so I sought other ways to spend my time.  I ended up volunteering for a foster care empowerment program where after only 3 weeks I became the regional program facilitator.  Soon after that, I realized there was a need for people to speak and inspire foster youth and launched my first website.

SWH: When you are sharing your story, what is the reoccurring narrative or feedback you receive from your audiences?

Travis: People often share comments like “your message was very inspiring and encouraged me to stay true to my dreams. I really feel like you touched the hearts of every single person in the room.” I always get a few people who said that they started crying.  Most of these people are the ones who can relate to the childhood struggles or have a close friend or family member who has been through similar things.  They love seeing that “its possible” to overcome and succeed.

SWH: What do you believe are some of the biggest barriers and challenges facing our youth?

Travis: A lack of inspiration for dreaming and a lack of encouragement from the adults in their lives.  There’s a difference between being supportive through providing basic needs versus providing all of the unconditional love and compassion that encourages someone to never see a glass ceiling.  The majority of our youth haven’t had the basics of how to be successfully demonstrated to them.  It’s hard to do something that you’ve never seen before.  And if you don’t have a dream, or feel like your dreams are unrealistic, then what’s the point in staying on the grind?

SWH: How do you feel hip-hop helps you to reach youth who have difficulty opening up to adults?

Travis: I see how drastic of a difference there is with the varied approaches to youth on a regular basis.  I actually still work part time as a mental health crisis worker.  I do psychiatric evaluations for people who are suicidal, homicidal, psychotic, or otherwise in emotional distress.  Sometimes I run into teens who won’t talk to the police officers or any of their friends or family.  When I am able to take off my “professional” hat and talk in their language they almost always start to open up to me.  Sometimes I’ll even spit something a-cappella or encourage them to share something creative of their own.  It is pretty simple.  People open up to people they can relate to. Being able to relate to people from different ages, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds is key.

SWH: What future aspiration do you have, and where do you hope this path leads you?

I plan to expand the reach of the message “Achieving Success Against All Odds” into books, audiobooks, hophop CD’s, and training videos.  I recently released my first ever music video for the song “Take Me Away” and plan to produce several more music videos with inspirational messages related to topics that are relevant to youth, social service, child welfare, and mental health advocacy.  As this brand grows, I will expand my company Changing Lives Entertainment to hold hip hop events that make a difference and have a speaker’s bureau for speakers in various markets with similar goals.  Sometime down the road, I will go back to grad school and potentially pursue a doctoral program.  I also have a dream of being the next Dr. Phil.

You can learn more about Travis Lloyd by visiting www.travislloyd.net or visit him on Twitter at @travislloyd

Our Capacity for Compassion…

by Daniel Jacob, MSW

imagesOur individual capacity for compassion is often uniquely different. However, have you ever thought about what we as helping professionals share in common, and how this in itself could impact our well-being?  Turns out that if you bring true compassion, empathy, care and concern into your practice, you’re more than likely to be vulnerable to Compassion FatigueWhat is Compassion Fatigue?

Its our capacity for compassion, but it can impact us in ways which can ultimately impact our personal self and our professional practice.  Many helping professionals continue to experience the feelings and symptoms of this important concept, and thus are reaching out to understand it, learn from it, and hopefully take action to manage it.

Compassion Fatigue: An Introduction.

“Most of us became counselors because we wanted to assist others in need. Yet our capacity for compassion, along with the intensity of our work can, at times, leave us vulnerable for “compassion fatigue.” This is a term that was coined to describe the set of symptoms experienced by caregivers who become so overwhelmed by the exposure to the feelings and experiences of their clients that they themselves experience feelings of fear, pain, and suffering including intrusive thoughts, nightmares, loss of energy, and hypervigilance. It can be cumulative (from the effects helping many clients) or occur in response to a particularly challenging or traumatic individual case. This extreme state of anxiety and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped becomes traumatizing for the helper. For this reason it is sometimes called “vicarious traumatization” or “secondary traumatization” (Figley, 1995).”

My hope by writing this piece is that it will give you a clear and concise understanding of how your own capacity for compassion can impact your well-being while becoming informed. It’s important to be aware of the how, what, and why is behind the fatigue you can’t seem to recover from. There is plenty of available research and information on this topic. Understanding the presenting signs will hopefully lead to early recognition and awareness which is vital to your resiliency in managing the effects of compassion fatigue. Understanding and Preventing Compassion Fatigue is another resource to help you further your search for information.

As I have given you a base of knowledge here, the next step is for you to open the door towards change. Even, if this means advocating for and educating about compassion fatigue within your own professional setting.  May this find you well as you continue to reach, teach, empower and support all while helping yourself in the process!

Interview with Daniel Jacob: Guest Expert for Live Twitter Chat 5/6/13 at 8PM EST

by Deona Hooper, MSW

***Update***

View Archive Chat:

Join us on May 6, 2013 at 8PM EST on the Social Work Helper Live Twitter Chat with Guest Expert Daniel Jacob on Burnout and Self-Care using the hashtag #SWUnited. Daniel is the founder of Can You Hear Me?, and he is a regular contributor to SWH. Recently, Daniel did an extensive interview on why he created his organization, it mission, and who it was designed to help.

Here is an excerpt from his in-depth interview in Social Justice Solutions:

Discuss your blog, Can you Hear Me? Why did you create it, what is the goal of the blog? Who do you hope to reach through the blog?

The Can You Hear Me? blog; words with a voice, a story and an opportunity to inspire others to change for the better! This platform has given me such a great opportunity to express myself in ways that I truly hope are reaching and impacting those in need. The creation of this blog was at a time in my life when I was transitioning from a history and exposure that taught me so much and yet greatly impacted me from a mental health and physical standpoint. By having a forum to share the affects and effects of my own personal and professional challenges and struggles, I was helping myself as much as I hoped I was able to help others. As a social worker who strives to be a work in progress, embracing any and all opportunities to better my quality of  life, while continually adding to my personal and professional self, my hope is to share this with those in the field who are experiencing their own challenges and struggles.

My blog is a continual effort to empower, support, and instruct. When I write, it comes from within. The motivation and inspiration that I use to engage this process is based on my own personal and professional history; one that has and will continue to be my greatest resource.

My hope is to reach anyone in the helping profession in need of support, whether one is a recent MSW graduate unsure of their own skill set or a seasoned veteran who somehow became apathetic, complacent, and doesn’t even know where to start. My hope for those that are available to read this interview is that they will have a better understanding of this model of support, one that is influenced (and understood) by an experiential and empirical journey that is ongoing, Can You Hear Me?  Read Full Interview

Who Is Superman

Author Unknown
Even Superman needs help

The question came my way the other day, Who is Superman? The context came as a result of walking a path of invincibility. Many of us are guilty of  striving, whether it’s conscience or not, to get everything and/or anything on our plate done. We want everything on our list checked off and completed without realizing how much we really need to slow down. The root cause of this mindset can come from various sources  to include historical, personality and perceived identity to name a few.  Although we may be aware of as it is happening, it can still hang around like a bad cold!

So, I ask you Who is Superman? At the cost of our own well-being, invincibility does not help us move forward in a healthy and productive manner. You may be thinking, this internal motivator does get things done, so I guess it’s not that bad. Yeah, I hear you, but the constant energy can be consuming and draining and if anything its effects are causing us to move into an area that will not support our best interests.

Everything is going to be OK, and it always gets done in one way or another. What this means is that you usually meet the objective, and if not, it will still be waiting for you the next time you press power!  Therefore, you don’t have to think about what you need to get done (or what you may think has to get done) from the time you awake until the time you lay your head to rest. All you have to do is ask yourself Who is Superman?  You have a choice here, one that at times can be difficult and challenging, but there is always an opportunity to do the right thing without…burning yourself out!

It is fair to say that when one is in a career and/or position that requires supporting and managing others needs, you are more susceptible to being that superhero. Sometimes, you may see there is no other way.  Furthermore, if this representation has been reinforced and ingrained for some time, there will be some work ahead in order to break the madness, a place and space that can ultimately impact your well-being, which in turn will impact your professional practice.

Who is Superman? is independently different for each of us because we are all uniquely special. However, the opportunity to change a behavior or mindset is something that we all have the ability to achieve, as long as we see it as something that needs to change. The lessons that we advocate for while supporting those in need are right there in front of us for ourselves as well, what we choose to do with them can either empower us to move forward, or we can just decide to keep on reinforcing the cycle of… So, I ask you, do you really have to be Superman? Even Superman needs help!

Until the next time my words and your availability cross paths don’t forget to check in with yourself when in need. It can be as simple as we see it, or as difficult as we choose to make it be…

“Seeing yourself as you want to be is the key 
to personal growth.”    
~ Anonymous

What Are You Holding On To?

by Daniel Jacob, MSW

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As my thoughts turn into words, I am empowered with another opportunity to share inspiration after receiving the quote (and intended message) you will notice to the left.  So I ask, what are you holding on to?  We all find ourselves in this state at times, it’s not something that any one person is void of.  However, what differs amongst us varies; the triggers, our reaction, and our coping mechanisms to name a few.  Some would imagine that just because you’re in a role (and career) that helps others manage their own issues, that you may not really have any of your own…  Well, we know that is not the case, and thus I digress.

When you work as a helping professional you are exposed to so many influences and triggers that often can produce these emotions, and often times it’s not even at a conscious level when it arrives.  So, I ask what are you holding on to?  When you recognize what it is and how you can live with it while learning from it, you can move forward.  None of this can be true, if you are not living and breathing (in and out of your professional role) which equates to your self-care and well-being.  You see, when you take the necessary steps to be well, you are more than likely in that space and place where you want to be well, believe you can, and thus commit to the necessary work.  Does this mean you will never experience moments when you are confronted with this emotion (that we all visit from time to time)?  No, what this means is that when you experience such emotions you will most likely be aware and mindful of the what, how and why, and your ability to address it in a healthy manner.  Sounds pretty straightforward, but as we do sometimes, we can complicate the process.  This is when challenges stay around longer they have to…

You can’t always control the situation, but once again there is much that you can control.  It begins with a determination to be on the page that has you thinking for the right thing without overthinking the moment.  If you are with my intention, then just maybe the next time you are faced with the emotion that you just can’t avoid, you will understand where you are at in a much more clear manner and see exactly what are you holding on to? 

We are exposed to some very complex and ingrained stressors within our efforts to help others change for the better.  With that we take on more than we know at times, and as we attempt to breathe and exhale we don’t always see the support necessary to help one move forward.  Does this mean there is none to find?  No, what it means is that you first must be available to see it, and then you must strive to find and create what will only help you help yourself.  We are all works in progress, and If we choose to look at our life as such then we are able to embrace any and all stressors that present themselves, including that story from the past, the one that is rarely shared but can continue to present challenges if not dealt with appropriately.  Those that are familiar with my writing understand that what I choose to point out is influenced by living through it and learning from it, in addition to what I have observed through the lens of a social worker that cares about his fellow helping professional.  You see, often one’s inability to give and provide in a positive, effective and sustainable manner is not due to a lack of skill, desire or passion, it’s most likely a result of what are you holding on to?

As you transition into your weekend stay strong, stand up and stay up.  No matter where you are at, or what you just can’t seem to shake, opportunity is waiting as long as you can see it!

Thank You More Please!

by Daniel Jacob, MSW: Founder of Can You Hear Me?

Thank you more please!  This is what I tell myself when gratitude comes my way, often reminding myself that I must say it more… You see, when we stop and pause (as we often should) we can easily remind ourselves of all that we have. This is exactly where my thoughts are as I recently had the opportunity to disconnect for several days, and I thought thank you more please!

Along with several of my brothers I ventured to Death Valley National Park to explore and breathe easy, while disconnecting from the attachment that consumes us all from time to time.  I had never been to the valley with death in its name or had any real knowledge of this land that I came to embrace.  As many do, the association to the desert is often; hot, dry, sand and factors that don’t necessarily equate to comfort.

However, what I was exposed to was perfect weather, amazing landscapes and the kind of peace that permeates gratitude.  My experience may have been a little different as our group ventured off the grid (an hour off the main highway in the park) accessible only by vehicles equipped to make this kind of trek.  Therefore, the remoteness of our camp provided all of us with a welcome that you just can not always receive when you are in the midst of it, thank you more please!  As I write I reflect on how fortunate that I am to have these kind of opportunities, with a support system that is and wants to be on the same page adding to their own individual works in progress, while helping me support my own.

Thank you more please!  As I have transitioned back into my reality this week there was an adjustment period.  After all being away from allWhat are you grateful for today? devices and communication efforts, not to mention the contact with others, interchanging systems and all of the moving parts that can distract and persuade, I made sure of being mindful and aware.

This is something that we all must make time for, the opportunity to detach and disconnect.  It doesn’t have to be a grand plan complicated by time and money. It can be as simple as the experience I had, or the one that YOU come up with that fits into your reality.

However, the most important factor here is- that you make the effort and do it!  When we choose to live the quality of life that fully supports our self-care and well-being we are able to move forward and toward a better day.  Here are some healthy habits to support this process, ones that can and will help you help yourself, thank you more please!

Until we meet again, may these words find you well with opportunity and gratitude on your side.  The life that you want to live is always influenced by the life you choose to live.

Social Work Month: Proud to Be One

By Daniel Jacob, MSW

social work monthAs we honor National Social Work Month, I thought it would be fitting to share some words…  There was a period in my life when my direction was far from having a career as a social worker.  In retrospect, it is so fitting that I had to be empowered along the way, moving towards self-determination in order to find my true calling, helping others change for the better!  I can say with my whole heart that I am proud to be a social worker, and I welcome every opportunity that presents itself to share, expose, and advocate for the profession that has given me so many wonderful lessons and experiences.

I can give you many reasons why social workers are important, but what I really want to share is how this profession helps those in need, as well as those who serve.  I have always maintained that there is no greater feeling than when you see “change for the better” happen right in front of you.  That moment where the individual (or family) you are supporting gets it, and thus the door towards opportunity has been opened.  To be part of this outcome is empowering, and the mutual process that transpires for both parties is truly rewarding for all.  Yes, of course there are tremendous challenges, obstacles and barriers involved with this work, but this in itself is just another opportunity to utilize your skill sets, training, experience and wisdom to help you grow and further develop.

I love being a social worker, having the opportunity to continue to evolve and work on my craft, while improving my personal and professional    self (in order to better serve those in need) is inspiring.  Having the ability to facilitate change for the better, an outcome that can transform for years, on to others and within communities and organizations is powerful.  This profession is not for all as we know, but for those that it is, there are no further words needed other than I am proud to be one!  Until we meet again be well to yourself, because when you are, your impact on those you serve will be as well!

Photo Credit: National Association of Social Workers

Back To Reality

By Daniel Jacob, MSW

inspirationLike many of you out there, I have faced the transition back this week, and all that this can provide.  Having the time away to breathe and re-focus while enjoying time with family and friends has been a benefit to say the least.  However, there is a point when you realize that this will come to an end and it is time to get back to your reality, one that can create a level of stress that does not always find us in a relaxed and comfortable state.  This state can be attributed to much, but primarily it is rooted in what we choose to create as that “something” that we see as negative, challenging, uncomfortable, and…  This energy that we create becomes more of a discomfort and sure enough we bring it right into our transition back.  Now think about how this would not only impact our self, but the service and support that we (as helping professionals) strive to provide to those in need.  Our line of work is to help others change for the better, and if we are off, I can guarantee you that our clients will be able to feel and see such.  As I have said before, just because those we serve in need are challenged in areas that prevent them from living a healthy and adjusted life, it does not mean that they are not aware of our presence and availability to help them help themselves. Sure, you can put yourself on auto pilot (“I can work with clients with my eyes closed”) but is that really the standard you set for your self and the work you have chosen to provide?
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion,
some humor,and some style”  
~Maya Angelou

I hope I have you thinking in a manner that has you reflecting on what you value, believe, and know to be true in order to have an effective practice.  At times of transition (post holidays/time off) there is an adjustment period that we must embrace, but how you choose to do so is the underlying focus here.  I would encourage you to focus on what you can control, while acknowledging what you are experiencing.  The more you resist and reinforce what you can not control (“I wish I was still off from work”) you will find yourself in that place and space that does not have you present and available.  I recommend that you focus on your self-care, now is not the time to make excuses or suppress what you need to be able to give to yourself.   As with everything that one perceives as a challenge, if you negatively reinforce the experience, you exacerbate the problem.  It’s when you work towards a solution in a healthy and positive manner that you move forward and toward a better day.  This is the place you want to find yourself at, when you arrive here you not only feel empowered, but more than likely you will be modeling this intention to those in need you are trying to reach!  So, as you finish up the first week back, or find yourself preparing to return, may these words find you available to receive.

Be well out there, keep walking with your head up and heart open and you will…

Capability vs Ability

By Daniel Jacob, MSW

Change…  It sounds so simple, people use it often on a daily basis as a way to correct, improve outcomes, gain knowledge, etc.  However, I believe the greatest reward associated with positive change, is the ability and capability to move forward.  We are all capable of having positive change in our lives, but often we are not able in making it happen.  Reflect on that statement for a moment.  Having personally and professionally  had several opportunities to help others change for the better, I use this example in the most clear and straightforward manner that I can.

If you are in a state where your path in life is just a series of roadblocks with no sight of an opening, you often feel stuck, hopeless and helpless.  At this point you may not see change for the better as a way out because you are so frustrated, angry, tired, and all the other feelings associated with a life filled with roadblocks.  Your too physically and mentally drained to even think about taking action, and often many  convince themselves that it is easier to keep on suppressing.
This is where the work part comes into play.

You yourself have the answers, you just can’t see them, and instead of moving towards a plan of positive change, you settle for being stuck.  This makes sense as I have mentioned prior it is easier to settle for being stuck.  It is hard, very hard to do the necessary work to get unstuck and move through and forward.  So, when I say that we are all capable of change for the better we are.  We are just not always able.  This is the underlying message in it all.  Capability vs Ability.  If you just look at those two words and there meaning, you hopefully can see the solution to getting through those roadblocks.  You can see that there is a way to change for the better.

Furthermore, you have to really understand and remember that you must be patient with the process, you must!  While changing for the better is the hardest work that you will ever face, it does not happen quickly and often in the time frame that most desire. This is why we often have setbacks because we become frustrated or nonbelievers to the process when we don’t see it happening as quick as we would like.  Well, ask yourself what option is better?

To have a life filled with negative outcomes and opportunities fueled by the actions and behavior that are creating such?  Or have a life (still with challenges and roadblocks, life does not provide a challenge/stress free existence) filled with positive outcomes and opportunities influenced by your ability to trust the process, be patient with it, and implement the appropriate skills/tools needed in order to change for the better?

My hope is that this example can provide you with an understanding that life is a series of learning opportunities that allow YOU to determine the quality of your life.  It is up to you and the choices you make that will move you forward, or keep you back.  I hope these words can provide that opening so that you will be able to start the process of changing for the better, with the understanding that the person writing this is the same person who had to learn this lesson, and will continue to.  Until we meet again may you be well to your day, and the day shall be well to you.

Give and Receive

by Daniel Jacobs, MSW

When you give you receive.  How do I know this?  I am fortunate to be witness to it, with the availability and awareness to recognize the opportunity I am presented with!  If you can see it then the openings will continue to show themselves.  I’m writing today from the mountains (the picture to the right is the visual) and couldn’t ask for a better place and space to share from.  Today my reflection and words are influenced from having the recent opportunity to give and receive with aspiring social workers to be.  I’m wrapping up with my year serving and supporting MSW students with their field education practicum, so the reflection and evaluation process is in full effect.  This process, one that has involved guiding, teaching, empowering, and supporting has truly provided me with opportunity!  You see, when you teach, there is a dual process going on, as both the teacher and student are learning.  As it has been stated “when one teaches two learn”  and this is something that I have come to embrace! by Daniel Jacob, MSW I think back from time to time about the days when I was so far removed from the place that I find myself in today.  My journey as they say has taken me from barely graduating high school, to working as a warehouse worker, using and abusing, just getting by with no plausible direction to achieve. I transitioned from this world into the field of construction where I learned so many difficult but necessary lessons. This is where I learned about work ethic, responsibility, and the ability to gain strength from being educated the hard way within a culture and population of tough cats.  Then something wonderful happened along the way, I found that true learning and living come from the experience and the opportunity to fall, rise, and work towards progress through the most difficult and challenging circumstances!  It was at this stage in my life that it all slowed down for me.  It was at this point in time that I made a decision to change my life for the better and so… I began to educate myself while being immersed into the world of work to survive and pay the bills, and go to school in my spare time if you get what I am saying?  When I think about the past several months and the work I have been a part of, it empowers me in many wonderful ways.  I am able to bring the influences in my life that have shaped and guided me through effort, perseverance, patience, and resilience and give and receive in the process.  I am able to tap into the challenges and difficulties of my students and with out saying much, I convey to them that I understand, “I get it” while validating that “I hear you.” Yes indeed the ride has been amazing because of much… I own my story, and because I am able to better help myself, in turn I am able to help others in a positive, effective, and sustainable manner!  Life is really how you see it, use it, and learn from it.  If you take your story and all that goes into the process that shapes and influences you, and you are able to use it to change your life for the better, then the opportunities that present themselves will be of use.  If you do the opposite and approach the situation with the idea that you are not receiving what you want or need, then you are working against your most difficult of opponents, YOURSELF!   May these words find you in that place and space that has you well.  As you move closer to the holidays, may you continue to give and receive, because when you do I know you will see that all of the wonderful gifts that life affords are available. Head up and heart open!

Practice What You…

By Daniel Jacob, MSW

You ever have one of those moments when you are in the midst of it all, and then you stop and…  Life is so much about just that, the ability to pause, and catch yourself immersed into that cycle of challenge that often takes on a force and direction of its own.  The next step, the most important of all, is up to you.  This week I had one of these moments that allowed me to pause, breathe, and take another opportunity to practice what I know to be the only way.  My week has been a busy one, several projects going on at the same time, all of which are dependent on the collaboration and interaction with others. This in itself was the source of my challenge, waiting on others in order to move forward with something that I was prepared for, ready for, and waiting for!  I put myself in a state that had me sorting through, figuring out, and contemplating what I had no control over; another persons timing, work ethic, inability to effectively follow through and communicate.  All of these factors, and perhaps others that I do not need to further acknowledge had me in that vulnerable place, with my hope and being unable to complete my duties, and thus meet my own expectation. 

“All the advice in the world will never help you until 
you help yourself.” 
~ Fred Van Amburgh
  
If you‘ve been a follower of mine for some time now then you may of have heard me discuss the idea of our own “expectation” and how this can ultimately lead to further challenge and difficulty if you are unable to meet it.  You see, when you recognize that it is your “expectation” and it doesn’t always act accordingly, realistically, practically, and any other word that ends in “ly” that may fit this example, you are able to understand.  The source of my challenge and subsequent stress was indeed not being able to meet my expectation, and the experience of frustration and disappointment that presented themselves as a result.  So, I had to implement what I am able to practice because I have acquired the necessary tools and skills to do so.  I had to acknowledge, recognize, and appreciate where I was at!  I had to practice what I speak to, and what I empower and support others to do in similar circumstances.  I was now the student, and my lesson and further learning was calling my name.  I had to stop, breathe, and remember that everything will work itself out, no matter how it plays out I am still here, I am still giving and receiving, and I am still able to accomplish my goals at hand.  Therefore, it is unnecessary to create more stress for myself and my overall well-being needs, and it is time to let this one go! 
 
“No matter what happens, it is within my power to 
turn it to my advantage.” 
~ Epictetus 
 
I cannot be in the position to help others change for the better, if I myself do not practice what I know to be true.  I am here to say and share that the learning and opportunity to add further to our awareness is present at all times, as long as you are able to see it.  I have embraced the path that I am on, helping others change for the better, but I am nowhere to be found in the process of, if I can‘t help myself.  So, as you reflect and digest my words for the week, may this find you in that place and space that can help you help yourself, while continuing to move forward.  Thank you for affording me the opportunity to be heard.  There have been many rewards involved in my efforts to help others, and one of them is the ability and opportunity I have been given to help myself. I aspire to do many great things within this field, and I will always complement that with the self work that I continually put into action, because without me at my best, I have no chance to reach those in need!  May the weekend be well to you, and you be well to your time to breathe Until we meet again
 
 There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” 
~ Denis Waitley 
 
 

Learning New Things!

By Daniel Jacob, Founder of Can You Hear Me?
I am so pleased to be back after taking a little break for the Thanksgiving holiday.  I am hoping that your holiday time treated you well, allowing for some time to breathe, reflect, and connect with those you hold close to your heart.  As we approach the end of another year, it presents us with that opportunity to look back, acknowledge what we have gained, what we choose to build upon, and what may come next.  As with all of my writings I use my own experience, as well as the learning that I receive through the eyes of others.  This week I find my inspiration coming from two sources.  One is from a book I read over the recent break, and another came to me yesterday from a fellow helping professional.  Both sources shared something in common, although the experiences are different, they both demonstrated the wonderful changes that come with learning new things…
One of the driving influences that I bring into my model of service is the need for self work.  When you are able to work towards progress, improving and expanding your experiences, awareness, and so much more, this leads towards valuable growth and development that not only impacts your personal self, but your professional practice and your ability to facilitate change for those in need. Therefore, it is not solely about learning new things, but how you apply what you have learned to change parts of your self in positive ways. I had no knowledge of the book How Starbucks Changed My Life until I came across it in the book store.  After reading the cover I knew I would learn some things.  It wasn’t necessarily a desire to learn about the world of Starbucks (although I now have a better understanding/appreciation of their model, opportunities for their partners, and attention to service) but a story about loss, prejudices, respect, change, race, age divisions, and friendship that I would be exposed to within these pages.  As a social worker and participant observer it was exactly the kind of story that empowers and inspires me through the example of the life change that presents itself through challenge. It was the learning that comes with being witness to overcoming in a manner that impacts the quality of one’s life circumstances.  It was another opportunity to add to my “work in progress” while reinforcing the idea that change comes when we do the work, while accepting and not resisting!
The other source of inspiration came from a comment that I received from someone that I have connected with through my Can You Hear Me? efforts. It was in response to our Learning Through Your Eyes Series and was truly rewarding as it demonstrated what I know to be possible when you are available to receive and embrace the change that comes with learning new things.  It was about the learning of oneself and how this translates into effectively helping others change for the better.  It was about stepping out of your comfort zone and working with a client that you never thought you could, but now you realize the gifts that you received as a result of this work.  It was about recognizing and acknowledging the difference that is made by just showing up.  These comments resonated with me because these outcomes are the true rewards of our practice, without judgement or vulnerability they showcase exactly why one chooses to be in this profession, and the benefits of such.  I am hoping that these comments will lead to more sharing and an opportunity for others to see an opening that will touch their own personal self, and professional practice.  You can see the entire comment on our facebook page.

As you move into the end of your week, may the words that I have shared allow you to feel heard, while providing you with further opportunities to work towards progress.  Be the change, learn new things, and you will receive wonderful benefits in return.  Head up and heart open, until next time…

This is a contribution by Daniel Jacob, Founder of Can You Hear Me? His latest project and a real opportunity to empower, support, and instruct helping professionals. Currently, he provides instruction and support as an External Field Instructor for MSW students in the distance learning program at the USC School of Social Work.]  Can You Hear Me? Blog  and  Can You Hear Me? Website

Transitioning Into Opportunity

By Daniel Jacob, MSW

Op-por-tu-ni-tya situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal,a good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success.  This is the definition that comes straight out of the dictionary.  However, the meaning can have different references, understanding, and attachments depending on how we see it.  This is exactly what has been in my thoughts as I strive to empower, support, and instruct.  It has come up in recent discussion as I am currently working with several MSW students who are at the end of their program requirements, set to transition into opportunity.  What will this transition look like?  What opportunities will present themselves?  How can I cope with the uncertain and unknown?  Will I be ready?  These are just some of the questions that come up as one prepares to transition into opportunity.  A process that can provide challenge, learning, and much needed growth!

 

It is important to recognize that there are two different processes going on here.  One would be transition (the idea of change) and the other would be the opportunity that will present itself.  You have to be able to respect the change, and the various forces that come with it, while being open to the idea of the possibilities and learning that can present themselves, this is opportunity.  The difficult part here is that change and the uncertain/unknown are often factors that produce fear, anxiety, and other stressors that can (and do) impact us in a challenging manner.  Therefore, what I speak to, and what I believe is often lost when we are immersed into the idea of transition (change) are the opportunities that we don’t plan for or expect.  How many times have you heard “I never thought this would happen, but I am so grateful/happy/excited/ that it did.”  What this means is that the expectation that you felt was necessary, had to be in place, and hoped for was not the one that presented itself.  What this means is that what you wished for, what you thought you needed to have, and what may have been causing some undue pressure didn’t even make it off the ground.  You see, no matter what the opportunity is, the unknown or predicted, they are both opportunities.  I point this out to all of my students, and to any and all that can hear me, embrace the change, welcome the opportunity, whatever that may be, and use it in a manner that will empower you, support you, and move you forward to that place that will allow you to thrive!  
As I have come to learn, through many of life’ lessons, there are opportunities that may not always equate to success or achievement (in the traditional sense) but these are the opportunities that will provide you with many rewards. These are the opportunities that will enhance your development, empower you, and give you that wisdom that allows you to walk through life with your head up and heart open.  There is much to experience when you transition into opportunity, as long as you can see it.  I encourage you to be available and present when you are in this place and space, because when you are, you will more than likely be given opportunities that will change the quality of your life long term. The short term may seem like the most important at the time, my hope is it that you will be able to recognize and appreciate the difference, while you learn and grow in the process.
 
Until we meet again, be well to yourself as you move into the upcoming holiday.  May you be mindful of and thankful for all the wonderful gifts that life affords, the ones that don’t cost anything other than your time and availability…
 

Change Will Not Come…

By Daniel Jacob, MSW

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” ~Barack Obama

I have returned, and with that I hope these words find you well. Today, I am touched like many with the energy that comes with another opportunity. What exactly is that? Another four years to see where we can possibly go. I do not use this forum as a political platform, not my thing, and so I am mindful and aware of this, my intention here is to enlighten, empower, support, and help you help yourself. It just happens that my inspiration this week is reflective to what we all were exposed to this past week, “change.” No matter how you see it, what the past few have looked like, or what the future ahead will be, we are presented with another opportunity. This is an important part of the process of “change” as often we can over think what we don’t have, not what we do, and all that goes into being upset and disappointed because of… So, I present to you what most claim to know, but can’t always understand. The idea that we must recognize the progress that has been made, the steps taken to decrease and eliminate some barriers and obstacles, and the opportunity to move forward. Now, for some these are just words, with no plausible outcome that equates to success or benefit. Well, what I will say about that is that if you measure success or benefit as a positive gain based on a few parts of the sum, but not the whole, you would see exactly what you want to!

We live and breathe in a country that provides us with more opportunity to better our selves than most around the globe. There is no mystery as to “why” many choose to come here, start over, and work towards a better day. We also live within a culture (at times) that spends more time than needed focusing on what can not change, versus what we can. With that being said I am hopeful because I know what “change” represents, I understand what it takes to be part of the process, the solution, not the… Does this mean that there will be no challenge, disruption, setbacks, and all that comes with “change?” No, it does not. What it means is there is an opportunity to move forward (i.e. progress), as long as you can see it that way. Am I optimistic and hopeful? Yes, I am but I am also very in tune with what is real, predictable, and all that goes into being honest and open to “change.” Stay with me, the idea here is not that everything that is perceived as negative and impacting us in a detrimental manner will somehow disappear. No, the idea is that it will become more manageable, we will find ways for things to work with us (solution focused), not against us, and we will create the systems of support to help when needed. Whether you agree with this one (think candidate) or that one, the same outcome is spoken about when it comes to our future, “change.” How that will translate to what the outcome(s) will look like is going to be different, this we know, and often this is what really speaks to their (candidate) audience and the ideologies, norms, values, and all one may subscribe to, how will this change affect and effect my (individual & family) story.

The example I have shared, based on the recent transition for another four more, is just that. However, there are several opportunities within these words that can provide you with an opening when you are presented with “change.” Embrace what you can control, and what you can not, ask yourself “how can I learn from this experience in a manner that will add to my bucket, not?” It’s your choice as always, but being hopeful and resilient can and often do provide one with positive opportunities. If this sounds familiar, you just may have heard these words somewhere over the last several months, perhaps… You be well out there, keep your head up and heart open as you take care of you own needs, while impacting those in need. When you give you receive!

[This is a contribution by Daniel Jacob, Founder of Can You Hear Me? Can You Hear Me? is my latest project which is an opportunity to empower and support helping professionals. Currently, I provide instruction and support as an External Field Instructor for MSW students in the distance learning program at the USC School of Social Work.]

What’s The Expectation Here?

As I am often exposed, I find myself immersed into learning opportunities as long as I can see them.  This week has provided an opportunity and what is the expectation here?  It was one of those weeks that I just couldn’t seem to find the level of motivation, inspiration, or energy that is needed in order to give to myself, and definitely needed in order to see my opportunities to give to others.  It happens and without overthinking what I was feeling, I was still able to take care of my needs while not resisting what I was experiencing.

I accepted where I was at while embracing that this is just another lesson amongst many more to come.  I recognized that I must continue to practice what I speak to.  I trusted the process while embracing the necessary steps; want, belief, and commitment.  I approached these moments I was experiencing in a manner that allowed me to see an opening, versus a closing.  By doing this I was able to ask myself, what’s the expectation here? Yeah, so?  Well, often we don’t ask ourselves the needed questions that we may avoid or resist because it protects us.  It puts it (whatever that may be) away in that place that we may feel has our back, but quite honestly only makes us more vulnerable…

So, as I thought about what I wanted to share today, I was influenced by an experience that came my way earlier today.  I took part in a collaborative meeting with a student (I am overseeing) and a colleague of mine/field faculty member.  My role in this meeting was not only as a facilitator of learning, but an extension of support, guidance, and availability.  The meeting was a great opportunity to once again model a positive example that we can give as helping professionals. The opportunity to provide feedback, direction, and validation to this student was not only necessary, but a powerful tool that can instruct, empower, and move one forward.

What happens as a result can provide awareness, growth, and areas of development that can truly impact future opportunities for this student.  My participation in this meeting is something I value, respect, and am truly invested in.  When one teaches, two learn, and as I struggled earlier in the week with something that I would not let get the best of me, I gained some further perspective…

You see, often we walk into our daily activities and responsibilities with an expectation.  “If we don’t accomplish this then…”  If we don’t hear back from X then…”  “If I don’t get that job then…” and many, many more actions that can come into our space.  This can be a challenging process that often finds us punishing ourselves with what really we can not control.  Often we can be very hard on ourselves, judgmental in a manner that creates only more suffering.  So, I ask you, what is the expectation here?  What is it that you are striving to achieve? What’s going to validate it for you?

I want you to think about all of this as it pertains to your experience(s), and use my example as an opportunity to find that opening that works for you. When you are able to stop, reflect, and see where you are at, it is much easier to recognize what you can control, and what you can not…My participation in this meeting and what I was able to give and receive (in the process) allowed me to put my week into perspective.  It allowed me to see that I am doing exactly what I should be doing.

It allowed me to recognize and appreciate that the expectation that I created for myself, the one that had me questioning what I could not control is exactly just that, my own.  Another opportunity to add to my work in progress, while continuing to trust the process.  It’s all good when you are, and everything else will work itself out as it should.  If it doesn’t there is no need to worry or collapse, there is still an opportunity, as long as you can see it!  Be well to yourself as you move into your weekend.  If I have opened a door for you, then I have accomplished what I set out to do, the next step is all yours…

Self-Care, What Exactly Is That?

by Daniel Jacob, MSW

It doesn’t take much effort to get to the information source these days.  It’s just a matter of logging on and booting up and you can find out anything about anything.  Does it mean it is the truth, fact, or the kind of information that you would welcome?  Not necessarily, but it does give some direction, perspective, and our own interpretation as we see it.  As I reflected on the idea of “Self-Care” and what exactly that means, there was a need to share.  There are plenty of experts out there as it pertains to self-care and well-being.  However, the one who truly needs to be the master of this practice is yourself!  You can read, study, and learn everything you need to about self-care, but if you are not able, willing, or ready to practice it, than guess what?  YOU WON’T!  So I ask you, what exactly is Self-Care?

I hope that I now have you thinking, in a manner that has you open and available to receive.  You see, I really have something to share on this particular subject matter.  Like many out there I thought that I had this self-care thing under control.  I mean, I was healthier than most, maintained an active lifestyle, had great support systems, and guess what?  I was far from healthy, and in fact what I should have been focusing on and attending to, I was not.  Therefore, it was only a matter of time when the vehicle known as “Me” was going to break down.  Often in life our greatest learning comes directly as a result of being confronted with challenge.  When challenge hits us we are presented with some choices.  We can either embrace it and take steps toward changing for the better, or we can resist, avoid, and keep on doing what will only lead to more challenges.  I’m the first choice kind of guy, and because I am, I have been afforded so many wonderful learning, growth, and self-awareness opportunities.  Because I have chosen to fight on when I am hit with suffering, I have allowed myself to move forward…

So, let me now move you forward and toward the meaning behind this post and subject matter.  Self-Care is a practice that is a part of your daily life activities.  What that means is that you do it not only because you know it will keep you well, but because if you don’t you will move farther away from the exact thing you are trying to reach.  You practice self-care because you can see the benefits of this in your actions, personal relationships, professional opportunities, physical, mental, and emotional well-being, and so much more that you can achieve and receive.  Self-Care is what you make it, and when you get to that place and space where it is a daily practice, then it is by far the most important job you have!  To be well you have to work at it every day for the rest of your days. If this sounds like too much effort or work for you and you’re just not feeling it, guess what?  You are right about one thing, it is the hardest work out there, and it takes a tremendous amount of effort, patience, and resilience to accomplish.  The experts can share the facts, data, and this or that model as it pertains to your wellness.  However, there is only one person who can change their quality of life for the better, and that person has to make a choice.  

Self-Care, What Exactly Is That? It is what you make it to be.  Life is not a dress rehearsal, you either give yourself the opportunity to change for the better, or not.  Until we meet again you be well to yourself, because when you are, that person you see in the mirror will be the same person you are looking at.  Can You Hear Me ?

Trust The Process….

by Daniel Jacob, MSW

I was able to disconnect recently from the energy of the city, and all that it can produce.  Being able to go into nature, a place and space that almost instantly allows one to breathe was received well.  As I thought about what I wanted to share this week, I closed my eyes and reflected.  What entered my mind and thoughts was not what I could see, but rather than the concept trust the process. What I have been able to see so well over this past year, something that has taken a great amount of work and effort to achieve!

This past year I have been able to see an opening that at times I wondered if it would ever appear.  You see, I began this journey back in February of 2009 with one primary goal, to be well.  It sounds so matter of fact when I see the word “well’ but as I have experienced, there is nothing so matter of fact about the inside of this ride that I know quite so…  A ride that has produced challenge, discomfort, frustration, opportunity, growth, understanding, and the ability to trust the process.  This last year has been an opening in many ways.  When you break open your mind and body go through a tremendous change, and when you patiently get back up, it really is a process of starting over.  You are recreating a new part of you (if you have chosen to) and what that means; the “work” has just begun!  There have been many stages and steps in the process when I questioned myself, my ability, and where this was taking me.  Until, it just happened.  I can’t tell you a day, a time, or a particular moment when I felt the change for the better.  What I can tell you is that if I stopped working, taking care of myself (physical and mental health needs) in a manner that was not disciplined, determined, and a part of my daily being I would not have gotten to the place that I find myself at today.

If I didn’t make some lifestyle changes that although began as a social outlet, then turning in to a coping mechanism, I would not be where I am today.  If I didn’t trust the professionals and let go of my pride, I would not be where I am today.  If I didn’t have an amazing and supportive spouse, I would not be where I am today.  If I didn’t do the work every day with the intention of strengthening my mind/body and ability to see what I could control, I would not be where I am today.  Yes, this has been a wonderful path that I have found myself on. I honestly have no idea where the future will take me and that in itself is exciting and empowering.  I know what I can control, and what I can not I have learned to accept.  What this has produced for me is an ever-present opportunity to move forward.  Today is a good day, one that I have created, one that I am living and learning from.  So, as I end this piece for today, let me leave all those that can hear me with this; believe in yourself and your ability to fight on, because when you do you will realize that you are a resilient being and “The impossible can always be broken down into possibilities” you just have to be willing to trust the process…

Until we meet again, you be well to yourself, give to another and you will receive!

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