I first encourage you to watch this clip of Trevor Noah reacting to the Larry Nassar verdict before reading this entry, as it will be more helpful/make more sense.

In the end of this clip, Trevor asks what would happen if the enablers in certain situations were to receive up to 10% of the consequences of the perpetrators. He suggests that people would be a lot more forthcoming with helpful information and that abuse would stop a lot quicker than it currently is.

To a certain extent, it already is a law for many, supposedly all, adults to report instances of abuse. It is called Mandatory Reporting. By law, social workers, nurses/doctors, police, and teachers are some of the top persons who are bound by their duty to report to appropriate authorities that abuse is happening so that something can be done about it. The punishments for knowing about and failing to report instances of abuse can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the state. That is, if it is implemented. So, technically, there is supposed to be some sort of punishment- but alas, we don’t typically live in that world.

In another opinion piece, I am reading the book “tiny beautiful things” by Cheryl Strayed where she had served as an advice columnist of sorts to anonymous persons who would write her out of a desperation of position and in need of some sort of answer/human empathy/contact. In the second response to a “how do I get unstuck” question, Cheryl talks about a year spent as a youth advocate for teenage girls who were at risk. She talks of how once she gained their trust, they told her all about what was going on in their lives. It was horrible to hear about. Cheryl gives examples of some of their stories. She told the girls in the beginning that it was awful and horrible, these things should not be happening to them, she would report it, something would be done/it would be STOPPED. So she did. She called the police, she called child welfare services, etc. And in many/all of the cases- nothing happened. At one point she asked social services why, and they explained that there is no funding/people are overworked/there is nowhere for these girls to go, etc. (Which, I can tell you is veryyyyy fucked up and yet verrrrry true. I know, because I am a social worker.) So then, she decides to tell the girls that it was awful and horrible, that these things should not be happening to them, she would report it, but that it probably WON’T stop, and probably nothing will be done, and the only way they are truly going to get out of it is to make it happen for themselves. They have to be strong, they have to survive. They need to join support groups, find people in like-minded situations, have friends they can confide in, get therapy- yes!- but no one will do it for them. They have to get themselves out. Because this is the society we live in.

On the one hand we have a person who is saying enablers have to be held accountable (I completely agree- KEEP REPORTING) and then on the other we have someone who does report, all the time, everything- and sees that to a large extent nothing is being done.

What we need to see in this situation is that both people are right. Trevor is using his voice and his influence to raise awareness to an issue and encourage people to not be enablers, while Cheryl was engaging in one on one relationship with girls being abused and telling them directly, out of a place of relationship, that they can make it-they just have to fight for themselves.

A friend recently said that she doesn’t like fiction because much of it feels like an attempt to force or contrive a feeling or sense of sadness to engage with readers. I understand and respect this opinion and desire to not want to feel sad/or strangely manipulated in a sense to arrive at a feeling or conclusion of sadness- but a part of me also wonders if fiction is commonly just a way for each individual person to express an element of their reality that they do not feel is appreciated or safe to address directly in real life. Are fiction writers writers who feel compelled to tell their personal stories of sadness or grief or distress but do not feel it is safe to do so in a real way in our society? Because to say someone hurt us directly, in writing, could cause that person to feel awful or even worst- unexpectedly confronted with their ability to wound those they love? Or because they know no other way to express their sadness than creating a fantasy world where something horrible happens to a fairy or a bear? Is fiction not an attempt to contrive sadness, but an attempt by the writer to feel heard even if it isn’t true, because we as a society are SO BAD at recognizing/respecting/confronting actual feelings of sadness, grief or loss?

I am not saying that this friend is wrong in her opinion. She can not like fiction all she wants, and is perfectly entitled to do so- I just wonder if the authors aren’t making an attempt to force or contrive anything, but are only fumbling, perhaps sometimes even unconsciously, into trying to explain an emotion that as a society- we SUCK at addressing in the only form they feel is acceptable?

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I just finished watching episode 1 season 1 of the Netflix show Abstract. It was about an illustrator and was done incredibly well. I enjoyed it because it taught me something, it challenged me, and it made me think.

Living in Nashville you are bound to run into crowds of insanely talented people everywhere you go. I have had friends here for years now, and I am still learning about new hidden talents they possess over time. I loved this show because while the illustrator, Christoph Niemann, is talking about his process, I was struck by how I see things differently from him, and that was transcribed to how I see differently from so many of my talented friends as well. There is something intrinsically beautiful about how I see in words, and my friend Micah sees in nature, and Chris sees in a lens, and Kelly sees in pattern and color but how we are ALL able to grasp at least a sense of what each other person was thinking when they looked at something by our own individual interpretations. Chris may take a picture of a building, and then Micah may paint it, and Kelly may create it out of miscellaneous material, and I may write about it; it could be the same thing but we are all bringing something unique to the table to describe it.

And what is even more unique and beautiful is that Micah can also take photos that take your breathe away, like Chris, but in a different style. And Chris can illustrate and draw and create with felt and material like Micah and Kelly can- but with a different interpretation.

I may communicate to them how valuable I believe their talents or their gifting, but it will often be in the style of writing and letters and cards. And Becca and Jonathan may sing about it, or Patriq may dance the story, or Terrance write it into a play so that it can be interpreted through each component of writing, singing, and dance. The actors in that play bringing expression and movement through their very bodies and being in a completely different way.

This life we have is filled with the community’s of our choosing. We each bring our own interpretation and perspective to the table. We can all enjoy and experience something new just in communing with one another.

I am so lucky, blessed, fortunate (choose) for the community that I am a part of. That I am able to see and learn from others in a vibrant capacity that brings my life more meaning. I hope that we will be able to continue learning from and experiencing one another’s perspectives in some fashion until we are old- through potlucks, worship nights, simply sitting in one another’s living rooms. Through painting together and learning technique at Lauren’s, or hearing a lesson on drawing from an Industrial Designer named Evan– we are being enriched simply by choosing to be with one another.

So whoever your Kelly, or Chris, Micah, Becca, Terrance is- commune with them. Learn from them. See with them and DO NOT forget to contribute in your own powerful voice. We all have something to learn and something to teach. We all have the capacity to make our lives in this imperfect world more worthwhile.

Republicans have been using the issue of abortion to win elections for years. It has been, for many, the sole platform they have used to sway the “christian” vote. I use the word christian here EXTREMELY lightly with a high dose of sarcasm- just in case the quotations didn’t tip you off….

I have heard from too many people that they only voted for Roy Moore because he was a Republican and save the babies and all that shit. And same for Trump. (Thankfully, at least one of these incompetent men did not win their individual election.)

My own grandmother wrote me a letter telling me how ashamed she is of me for marching in a women’s march because ‘don’t I love unborn children?!’ And you know what? To be completely honest, yes, I sure do. I am actually not a fan of abortion! Surprise! However, I have the opinion that politics encompass many issues, not just the issue regarding abortion. Strange right? To think that women’s rights may be more than just about whether or not they have the right to get an abortion or not? To think that maybe they are also about women’s health and equality in the work place, maybe even about equal pay opportunities or the opportunity to have a safe environment to live in and to be able to cry out for their own rights when they are being violated by a man? I don’t know. And that is just about the women’s rights issues, Republicans are using the abortion debate to cover ALL political fronts. It is being used as a platform to highlight the issue of “we don’t like abortion” and underscore that there are a plethora of other issues that we need to be thinking about; such as, I don’t know…maybe the state of the economy? Or health care? Or war? Or poverty, hunger, the militia, ISIS, ICE, social injustice, racial inequality, our corrupt incarceration practices, police brutality and….oh wow. Sorry, I got really carried away by ALL THE OTHER ISSUES THERE ARE TO DISCUSS other than abortion. I apologize.

But if we really take the time to stop and think about it, which I know, takes time and energy and who reallllly has that when there is Netflix to watch and numb ourselves with….but just stick with me for a second anyway, please. If we really take the time to stop and think about it, are Republicans not exploiting unborn children more than any other person group? And isn’t the exploitation of children kind of a part of their platform for things they DON’T want to happen? Because for some reason, I was under the impression, as is Webster come to think about it…that the definition of exploitation was:

Definition of exploit

aka using the issue of abortion to (exploit personal opinion) push your own political agenda? Or more specifically, to use the issue of a woman’s right to give birth or not to her unborn child to mask any other plans you may have for the future of the American people? Using abortion as a key issue to mask the fact that you don’t know what you actually stand for politically but you know that if you just preach the non-killing of babies people won’t actually care? That maybe the exploitation of children’s rights will allow you to sway the mind of entire groups of people because it is a hot button issue that has been used, successfully, for several years…to bully and manipulate uneducated people into voting for you blindly?

Maybe we shouldn’t continue to allow people to exploit an issue regarding children as a way to win elections.

But that’s just a silly thought of a clearly uninformed and heartless liberal.

Feminism has finally become become the word of the year

for the first time spoken by some without fear.

Without rhyme or reason

it has become the season

of woman.

 

Whether by persistence or insistence

women are being heard

and taken at their word.

 

TIME magazine has made their “Person of the Year”

the Silence Breakers

-women calling out men for being takers

of their space,

their respect,

their bodies;

reducing them to sex

without a body but an object to be objectified-

where men have lied

they are being caught and fraught

with worry are being told to scurry

from places of work.

 

Now don’t get it twisted-

women aren’t on vacation,

we are still in fact living in Trump nation…

 

But where there is occasion to rise

and not accept demise

at the hands of men,

we just continue makin

moves.

Our virtue can no longer be taken

without the hashtag #metoo

branding you

– the men who created the brand in the first place

 

Where strikes are needed for equal pay

we will say

Let us march.

 

We will fight for our rights

with strength and might

and will not cower in fright of

Man.

 

Not proverbial, but actual.

 

 

 

 

a church in Florida:

pastor: who’s gunna wanna live in a barn if the owner won’t take the time to paint it red?

(on a message for women needing to wear make-up)

a church in Alabama:

worship pastor: cover your shoulder, the men in the front of the church who can see you well won’t be able to concentrate, you will cause them to lust when they should be able to focus in worship.

a church in Tennessee:

guest speaker: during worship I had to bounce my eyes. do you know what that means men? it’s where you bounce your eyes up and down so everything is blurred. i couldn’t be distracted by the women in front of me, they are just worshipping, but if i don’t bounce my eyes, my mind tends to wander.

  • we must stop teaching our women they are something that was created to be hidden. we must stop teaching our young girls that they should not be comfortable in their own skin. we must stop teaching our ladies that they are property to the point where when they need to say no, they don’t know how because they were never taught their bodies were their own in the first place.
  • we must stop teaching our men they are beasts. we must stop teaching our young boys they are hungry animals who were born with insatiable appetites and they have no self control. we must stop teaching our gentlemen that they aren’t capable of saying no when they need to, because shouldn’t they want this?

As I have stated on my blog recently, I am taking a break from social work and nannying in this season.

A lot of people ask me when I am going back into social work, or how long I am going to nanny, or what I am going to do next. A lot of times, when I am asked, I can hear the disappointment and confusion in their voices. Of why someone would choose to quit a career to nanny, which is a huge pay cut and isn’t a “professional” choice. It isn’t moving up a social ladder, which is a foreign concept to a lot of people, esp. Americans.

I quit for self-care. I quit because I was stressed and angry and tired, and, as I told HR when I was putting in my resignation, because I was “no longer acting like myself.”

I don’t know what I am going to do next, but I know some of the things that I told myself I would do while I was on my break.

One of those things is to create and paint, and to sell what I have been working on. This is in progress, and last time I was home a couple of weeks ago, I formulated a tangible plan with a friend to make it happen and gave myself  a time frame.

Another was to learn to be content with where I was. This is something that is slowly getting easier, but as of late when someone asks me what I am going to do next, anxiety creeps up again and I feel this guilt at not doing something “professional” or “career-building” because someone else thinks I should, and I realize I am not quite there yet.

Another thing was to hang out with healthy family’s and around healthy marriages, and that is something I think I have excelled at. I have been hanging out with my friends with children and who are happy in their marriages or who are good parents, and I am learning what it looks like to believe in a healthy family again. I had lost a lot of that in the field. I had lost a lot of what beauty humanity holds. I caught glimpses in some of the families that I served, certainly, but I needed to be immersed in it.

So I am working on being content with where I am now. In being grateful for what I have. I am learning to be poor financially again while enjoying being rich in sound mind  for the first time in a long time.

So no, I do not know what I will do next. I do not know where I will attraversiamo or with whom I will cross over, if anyone. And I am perfectly okay with that. And honestly, it is my opinion that matters to me right now. It is between me and the Lord, and in that I think is wisdom, and that is what I am going to listen to. So thank you for your concern if you are one who thinks it is time I ‘move on’, but I choose my own voice over yours- and I’ve gotta say, I am pretty damn happy about it.

Iceland

This is in Iceland at the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.

Right before I took this picture, I was throwing up in the parking lot, and then again in the bathroom after spending about an hour in the hotel feeling awful and willing myself to leave and not ruin the day. Gus, my friend who accompanied me on the trip, pointed out reindeer- the only that we would see on the trip, and I missed them because I was too nauseous to raise my head. I felt terrible. I had eaten something bad the previous night and was suffering from food poisoning. But after I threw up and sweet Goose bought me some sprite and a water, I sucked it up and we hiked the lagoon. And took this picture, maybe within 10 min of me barfing ungracefully in the middle of a freaking public parking lot.

It is a beautiful sight, and a fun picture, but social media is so deceptive. I thought about how I would take this picture and post it, and everyone would assume I had the most magical day and this was the most magical moment, but just minutes before I felt AWFUL. There are so many times where social media makes us feel that now-actual-phrase FOMO or jealousy, or the questioning of “why is everyone’s life better than mine?” When we are all out here struggling. Life isn’t always pretty, even if our pictures are. And we need to remember that, we need to remember to have empathy and to not look at a picture and feel like someone is better than us. We need to kill the urge to compare our lives to someone else’s and miss out on the beauty in our own lives.

Because a picture can be nice, but it doesn’t reflect the full reality. It isn’t about “likes” or if someone comments on our pictures, it’s about living our imperfect lives and seeking community and the not “instagramable” reality that our lives are.

Childish Gambino wrote this song: Open Letter on Instagram,describing some of these sentiments, and he is famous y’all. Own where you are. Be okay with not looking perfect, and don’t be so naïve that you think that everyone else is living a better life than you.

I have recently left the social work world and started nannying. I have been a nanny for six months and have been thinking a lot about what I want to do next.

The helping profession seems to make the most sense to me, in terms of things that I am passionate about, but I am having a really hard time determining what I should do next.

Thus far, my experience with non-profits and understanding the child welfare system and mental health agency’s have been grim. I am having a hard time with rectifying the fact that I think the system is overwhelmingly broken and ineffective to have much motivation to go back into it. There are obviously two perspectives to this- from inside the agency and the reality of working there, to the actual system and how it operates.

There is a lot of common ground between non-profits, typically, the persons who are employed to work in the non-profit world are vastly underpaid. This is true for private sectors in social work as well. The burnout is astronomical in many places of helping profession employment, and morale is typically depressingly low. It has always astounded me that persons who are passionate about going into the helping profession find that their job is to lift someone out of depression, debt, crisis of some sort, into a place of more stable mental health and overall well-being; but the way the employees themselves are commonly treated is typically of the opposite mentality.

The place I just left was emotionally abusive and the staff was treated appallingly, the leadership was a joke that left no one laughing, and the morale was so low that people were literally getting sick on a regular basis. I personally was throwing up from stress and nerves and the negative environment, and was having migraines (which I have not had at all in these six months of nannying, and did not even experience in my previous job, which was as a trauma counselor…so that is saying something). Since we are currently under the Trump administration, which is appalling on its own…I don’t see funding for helping professions improving, not that I saw it improving in the first place but…

However, I know that being paid pennies is a part of the burn out. People in helping professions typically work outrageous hours because we are to help people in crisis, and crisis knows no time frame. It can happen at any time, to anyone, and the persons in the helping professions are the ones to answer those calls. We are the ones who answer the phone when you are crying because your boyfriend just broke your arm, who hear the terrified four year old crying hysterically when they tell you they are hiding under the table and their dad is drunk again and beating their mom, we are the ones your children look into their eyes while they tell you that they have been raped again by (insert family name here) and no one believes them- will you? We are the ones who get the call when a house has burned down and nothing was salvaged, can we help with getting them back on their feet financially? I just found out I have AIDS and I am being discriminated against can you help me? I lost my son in a car accident and I want to slit my wrist can you help me? This list goes on forever. We answer those calls, all day, all night. We go to the hospitals and sit beside you- for comfort or for suicide watch. We do it because we think that people are worth it. That people are worth fighting for and loving, and that all persons deserve to be comforted- but within the agencies we work in? Our supervisors and leadership feel that pressure too, they are also being underpaid- and some of them do not respond well to pressure and financial distress, and being on leadership and not being able to take it out on their clients and not feeling like they have time for self-care because they are also working around the clock…they take it out on their employees at times.

When you are constantly putting out fires, you don’t have time to take a breath of clean air for yourself, and when leadership and agency directly above you have the same lack of resources, they can at times create negative and fear based environments. Obviously this is not true of every non-profit, but it is common enough that teachers are 80% more likely to be on anti-depressants than the average worker, and that the helping profession in general has outstanding numbers of compassion fatigue and burnout.

Also, very obviously, sometimes our clients don’t like us. Sometimes they hate us. Because we “took” their children, because we aren’t going to approve them to be a foster parent for some (valid) reason, because we called DCS on them even though their baby is “fine”- (the baby isn’t, the baby is covered in bruises in the shapes of your hands or where they were thrown against the wall, the baby is covered in burns the shapes of your cigarettes…) and if we don’t have the support, emotional or otherwise from our supervisors while we are getting cussed out by our clients? When they are too burned out to help because they are going by numbers or productivity clauses that are ridiculous and impossible because their bosses (who have never done field work and don’t have a damn clue what it is like) is calling the shots- how in the hell is burnout NOT going to happen??

When on top of all of this, we know the system is flawed, but it is the only system we currently have and we are the face of that system and have to uphold it because we know courts and judges sometimes rule unfavorably with decisions we don’t agree with but have to prepare you for, then you hate us even more.. How are we supposed to want to go back into that? But if we don’t, who is going to help?

So I have no idea what to do next. I don’t know if the only thing that I feel that I am called to and that I feel I am good at is ever going to allow me to take care of myself or be able to afford a home and food. I don’t know if that is okay. I know that I cannot and will not work for another place that treats its employees with a lack of support and disdain, but I don’t know how to find those places. So what do I do? And how can this system ever change?

I just finished watching the movie “The Incredible Jessica James” on Netflix.

It was amazing. I watched it because I am obsessed with the podcast 2 Dope Queens with Jessica Williams (who played Jessica James) and Phoebe Robinson (who also wrote a book I love- You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain and who does the podcast Sooo Many White Guys with Ilana Glazer- who I will be mentioning shortly) and they have been talking about it on the podcast. These two Queens, along with aforementioned Ilana Glazer who is on “Broad City” with Abbi Jacobson (who has another podcast called A Piece of Work) are four of my top modern heroes.

(To be clear, these ladies have soooo many other accomplishments, these are just the means by which I am familiar with them personally.)

These women are my heroes because they are brave, hilarious, and so true to themselves. They aren’t afraid to speak out against the patriarchy and to talk about politics and women’s rights publicly. They tell hilarious and embarrassing personal stories and they aren’t even afraid about their family’s and friends listening in- did I already say brave?! They are strong women who aren’t afraid to be unabashedly themselves and I LOVE IT. They inspire me in so many ways and I am so happy to have these types of women represented during my lifetime, women who are close to my age and who are making it!

I went to school and got my undergraduate and graduate degree in Social Work. I did numerous internships while I was in school and excluding a brief 6 month coffee shop job in between school and my first official social work job, have been doing social work for nine years straight. Specialty? Children and Adolescent Trauma Work- working as a therapist for kids who are underprivileged because society works that way, and working in foster care. Needless to say, burnout is real. There are many reasons, but that is another blog, ya’ll. So, before I got the point where I- to say it delicately- didn’t hate every single fucking person who crossed my path…I decided to take a year off. I took a hella pay cut and decided to nanny for the first time. Babies of all the ages I could work with, I mean?! And also dog sit here and there on the weekends for extra money. I only work four days a week and it is normal hours; 8:30-4:30. I NEEDED a break ya’ll, a mental health break. A break to rediscover who I am and what I love! I decided to start painting, and to try and sell some of my paintings. I said I will write more. I gave myself a summer slogan which I am pretty sure I will just keep for the rest of the year of “Be sexy and self-assess” and I have been working out, buying only clothes I love, and writing actual pro- con lists about what I think I do well and what I can improve in. I am giving myself permission to rest. And you guys, I am finding myself again, and it couldn’t be more worth it.

I listen to these ladies and I look at what they are doing and I am proud. I am proud for women, and especially women of color. I mean come onnnnnnn, we need a break ya’ll! Especially our gorgeous POC Queens!!! And I listen and I read and I pick up all kinds of books about fierce women like #Girlboss (my current read) and I think YES and then I think, what am I saying YES to? And how can I be more intentional about that? And you know what? I am watching this movie, and there comes a point where a group is at a theater writing retreat and Jessica goes to talk to a Tony award winning playwright and she is asking how she got there and you know how that dialogue goes?

Playwright Sarah: What does theater actually mean to you?

Jessica: I just love it.

Playwright Sarah: And you’re doing it, that’s why we are here, right? This is it! There’s kind of not more to it than that.

And I felt relief. Like an audible sigh of relief, because we make things sooooo complicated and it just isn’t. What do I love to do? Create! Be around people and love them! And you know what? I am doing that. Maybe it doesn’t look like something concrete, but that is just the thing- this quote is implying that it doesn’t HAVE TO. And my gosh is that a relief! I went into social work because I love people and I want to see family’s succeed, and whether in a direct field as a case worker, as a nanny, or even working in a coffee shop I can do that. I can be creative in and out of a ‘work’ setting. I can love people every time I encounter someone. I am ALREADY DOING IT. I am already living the life that I crave! How can I not find gratitude in that? How can that not be the greatest relief? My mindset is still absorbing this quote, this SIMPLE and profound statement.

There’s kind of not more to it than that.

 

 

Alabama,

You are so beautiful. You are full of life and creativity, of green and beaches and of sunburned tourists; of small towners sipping sweet tea in rocking chairs and fanning their faces. You are a sweet summer day and a cool winter night. But my gosh, how you tend to betray my heart again and again. Your history is rich with kindness and of simultaneous awful deeds. The history of racism is not history but present in so many areas, and you are strife with judgment. My heart was broken yet again in May of this year (!) when you chose to pass a bill that says that same sex marriages cannot foster or adopt children from religious agencies if that agency so chooses.

Sweet Alabama full of beautiful family’s of all different backgrounds, what a sad story you choose to tell so often. What a misguided view. How would you think that choosing the WANTS of a “religious” agency over the NEEDS of children was an opportunity to personify God? How do you choose to pass laws over and over again that do not seek to make the world a more loving place, but seeks to make small minded views ever present in time of need?

Dear Alabamians, do you not understand that children in your state are suffering? That they are being abused and molested, raped and tortured in your two parent mother father homes? That in your “christian” households are where so much of this pain and need for foster care is occurring? Do you not understand that while you may not agree with same sex marriages, two mothers or two fathers may be just what a child who has experienced extreme trauma and pain at the hand of a certain gender may need in that time? That love does not know gender, nationality, race or religion?? That any person has the ability to love a child and if they are a safe person, they should have the right to do so?

I love you, Alabama, and still choose to call you home because that is where my family resides. It is where I have experienced so many incredible memories and met so many fantastic, colorful, incredible people. Where the church has extended a hand of grace to me, even though it is not perfect. Alabama has a special place in my heart, but you wound with more regularity and choose to sleep through social issues of justice with ignorance and a stinging “bless your heart”.

This bill is not helping children, it is hurting them by denying them a potentially loving and safe home. It is hurting them by continuing to limit their options in ever increasing selfish ways and saying it’s in the name of the Lord.

Alabama, you are so beautiful, why are you choosing to believe you are ugly and acting accordingly?

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