Monday, December 30, 2013

Being Whole

It's amazing what you can walk away from, understand or do when you are whole.

Whole, meaning balanced and integrated by connecting:

left and right
front and back
black and white
yin and yang
light and dark
strengths and dark side
from the bottom up
roots and tree
research and practice
process and content
task and process
details and the big picture
judgments and perceptions
thoughts and feelings
instincts and analysis
brain and gut
adult, parent and child
mind, body and spirit
love, work and play
character and image
words and actions
good and bad
saint and sinner
Madonna and whore
a good time and a keeper
scared and courageous
vulnerable and strong
hungry and full
past and present
then and there with the here and now

To wholeness in the New Year :)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Notes from Lecture by Dr. Fellitti about Trauma Assessment

Trauma assessment helped to treat intractable medical problems. Change will be resisted despite enormous benefits. Trauma oriented approach to medical care is feasible, affordable and acceptable. Trauma assessment as a routine mechanism of all entry care.  Simply asking, listening, implicitly accepting. 

Why the resistance to Trauma Assessment?
  • The awakening of personal ghosts and unpleasant memories
  • It flies in the face of social convention
  • Magnitude huge
  • Haven’t been taught what to do with this and be comfortable

Hospital Administrators fears about Trauma Assessment: 
  • “Patients will be furious” 
  • “Make people suicidal if you ask those questions” 
  • “Make people decompensate” 

Elderly patient response to Trauma Assessment:
“Thank you for asking [about trauma] – I thought I would die and no one would know about what happened.”

Friday, December 20, 2013

Creativity & Madness

In a mental status exam, a clinician asks: "Do you ever see things that other people don't see?" in order to assess for possible hallucinations.

But what if the answer is, "Yes" and you are not hallucinating (organically or on substances)?  What if you are visionary?

...creatively delighting in the same waters as those who suffer madness...

There is a thin veil between the natural and the spiritual. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Self-Determination & Detachment

We don't gotta pay for the consequences of someone else's choices - it is not our role, it is not our responsibility.

Duh, right?  But we need the constant reminder - like a mantra, affirmation or prayer - because the urge to rescue is so strong.  The pain of seeing a loved one in pain seems intolerable.

Sometimes the important lessons are only learned through pain.

If there ain't no shit, the grass don't grow.

I don't wanna stand between someone's lesson and growth.  I don't wanna interfere with cause and effect.  The lesson to be learned is way too important.  It's the difference between staying in the cocoon and flying.

There is a role for us - listening, bearing witness, empathizing, understanding, acknowledging.  That is caring with respect.  To a person in pain, it makes all the difference.


 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Our Stories

The role of theater is to help people speak about the otherwise unspeakable.
--Peter Sellars

Job Talk

The day started at 10 am.  I was interviewed by the search committee for an hour.  Thoughtful questions:  Have you participated in any change efforts, if so, please describe?  What is the primary issue facing social work that needs to be addressed in education? Talk about your scholarly activity and teaching philosophy.  What are your strengths and limitations?

At 11 am, I got to meet with the Dean.  He spelled out the state of the college and university and trend projections.  He talked salary and perks.  It all sounded very good.

At lunchtime, I ate with some of the faculty, including new and familiar faces. They suggested that I consider negotiating for items in addition to salary (technology, travel expenses, etc.). I asked about the challenges and strengths of working at this school.  I got candid responses.  So far so good.

My colloquium was at 1:30.  It was a packed room.  They were attentive and asked questions.  The job talk tips I found online told me to be prepared for zingers.  Few zingers were asked, thankfully.  Mostly, they were curious.  They wanted me to ask them questions too.  I asked them what they were looking for in a candidate.  They said, "someone who likes to teach, which you clearly do."  They read me like a book.  They also said, "someone who has a sense of humor, which you have."  Flattery is always appreciated (thank you).

Then there was about an hour of informal Q&A scheduled.  Half a dozen of the faculty and staff attended.  Everyone came off as warm and friendly - in a very real and honest way.  Like they have been together for a long time (which they have) and gotten really comfortable with each other (in a good way).

Next was a meeting with the director.  He was engaging, complimentary and supportive.  He gave me positive feedback about my presentation and extolled the virtues of the school.  He was also clear about expectations - what they were looking for in an Assistant Professor.  All still good.

The day ended with dinner.  Very nice restaurant - 20s decor and ambiance, eclectic menu and smooth house wine.  It was just me and the search committee again.  I had been asking questions all day (how to get tenure? how many publications required? what is the teaching load and schedule? is there money for travel to conferences? what are the opportunities to secure internal and external research funding? how did you manage to secure NIH funding? and so on).  I didn't have many questions left and my head was spinning with new faces, information and all the experiences of the day.  I asked them what made them decide to come to this particular school.  Their answers reflected who they are and what was happening in their lives at the time they applied.  Mostly it boiled down to deciding what's best for you, right here and now.  Also, just like in real estate, location mattered.

One of the committee members recommended a book written by his mentor, Karen Sowers-Hoag (and Diane Harrison):  "Finding an Academic Job." It includes all the informal stuff that is important in these kinds of searches.  I've already ordered it from amazon.

I got home after 8 pm. I brought in the trash bins that were curbside.  I kissed my daughter good night.  Then I played the meditations on my iPhone to put me to sleep.

Thank you, Yesus, and good night.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Exercise in Trust

When I am stressed about something - BIG or small, I hear God asking, "Do you trust me?"
And I'm like, "Duh, God, of course I trust you.  I just don't wanna fuck this up for us."
Because me and God are like that.

I'm walking into a daylong interview on Tuesday and I'm feeling it, all of it: excited and numb, hopeful and wary, confident and unsure.

I'll do my best, whatever that means in the 5th year of my doctoral program.  But the rest is completely outta my control. 

1) On the one hand, the pressure is off because I can only do what I am capable of right now
2) On the other hand, I have NO CONTROL OVER THE OUTCOME (!!!!!).

Doing my best and then letting it go.
Showing up and then going with the flow.
Trusting and losing control.

This is my dance with God.
This is my exercise in Trust.