April 8, 2015

The Beauty of Social Work - My "aha" moment.

You ever have those “aha!” moments? Those moments that brings your purpose together? I had one of those moments the other day.

I chose social work because I wanted to help people. I chose the degree because I thought it was pretty versatile. And it is if you’re creative, and even more so if you have a master’s degree- something I’m still not sure I want. But I knew I wanted to help people.

On this academic journey I’ve written many papers about inequality, the dignity and worth of the person, how I’d connect the client to resources, innovative evidenced based practices, etc. I write good papers. I get good grades. I’ve done really dumb group projects. I’ve heard about the good of social work. I hear our teacher’s stories- I had pretend clients in class. I still wasn’t sold. I knew this work was one I wanted to do, but I didn’t really know until last week.

I’m about to graduate soon. May 7th to be exact (!!!). I’ve been doing my intern hours at a fantastic organization that helps LGBT+ youth. My role at the organization varies, but in general I’m a case management intern. So I help connect the client with resources in the community to help increase their life skills and their chances of sustainability.

This organization also has a housing program. There are 6 beds. One room has been infested with roaches. Don’t worry you’re getting the shortened version of this story. We asked the property managers to go in and treat this room, as we were moving a youth onto the property later on that day. So they did. Needless to say… hundreds of dead roaches, with plenty of alive bodies as well. We came to this room with youth in tow. The case manager stood in the room for a minute, and said, “Nope. I’m not doing this. We’re not putting you in here.” And I watched the advocacy begin.

See the issue was that we had another bed, but it was in a room with a girl. And for some magical reason that still hasn’t been explained, since they don’t identify as the same gender, they can’t room together. This is an organization that lets a trans person room with the gender they identify as, and folks with the same sexual orientation can room together so it’s not necessarily about sex, so there are a lot of holes in that argument (what about agender or gender-fluid individuals? Where do they fit? But I digress), but that’s what our superiors stated.

After trying different avenues and none of them really working out, the youth was granted an overnight stay in the other room until the vacant room we had could be move-in ready.

The case manager asked me what I would’ve done- if I ‘d moved the youth into that room. And I told her I probably would have. I probably would’ve been there sweeping up roaches, and trying to rush and clean, I probably wouldn’t have advocated because I wouldn’t have believed in my voice. You see the problem? If I would not have spoken up, I could’ve left a client in a deplorable situation. Those are not the moments to be shy.

That was a mess of a day. That piece was only one item of many, but I learned why I chose this path that day. I learned about what advocacy is. I learned how important it is to fight for my client. I learned how important it is to build a trusting relationship with my client, so I can support them in times like these. And if I couldn’t build that rapport before a moment like that, then I need to have the skills to do it in that moment.

I learned the value in being a case manager. So many people want to go on and do bigger and better things. Shout out to those people. But for me, I believe case managers are so crucial to a client’s success. I believe connecting that client with resources they didn’t have access to before is important. And advocating for those resources that they client may not have access to is also important. I get to help make sure people’s basic needs are met. I get to work side-by-side with someone as they create their goals and move closer to achieving those goals every day. Some of them turn around and go the opposite way. Some of them don’t have motivation. But that’s where my skills come in. That’s where I help guide them forward. That’s where patience comes in. It’s such beautiful work.

This is a profession that will challenge me. It will be hard, but it will be so worthwhile. Self-care is even more important. I’m trying to do something for me each day, even if it’s just a moment. Connecting with people who vibe with you is important. I was excited to begin working, but I’m even more excited now that things have truly clicked for me. I love moments like that, don’t you?

Confession time: I shy away from talking about my work. I’ve been embarrassed to call myself a social worker.  However I’m so proud to be a part of this profession now. They work long hours for shit pay, too many clients, and dangerous conditions sometimes. But it takes an amazing person to be an affective social worker. You have to see each individual as brilliant and capable of living a fulfilling life. You have to be able to think on your feet. You have to be able to gauge your client and build rapport pretty quickly. You have to see terrible things happen to people and people who have done terrible things, and you have to pull out their strengths when no one else can even see them. And you get the honor of walking with someone on their journey- whatever that journey might be. You get to be there and help them. That’s not something to be ashamed of.

So I’ve had my “aha” moment. I’ve grown to love my work even more. I have a lot of dreams and aspirations, and I’m not sure about all of them and that’s perfectly fine. But it’s really nice to be sure about something for once. It’s refreshing to know that I made the right call. That clarity helps when the stresses of being a mother, financial stress, end of semester stress weighs you down. It’s nice to have that little gem to carry when life gets hard. Those little gems remind you of why you’re alive- they remind you why you keep going. I’m super grateful for that. I’ll always be grateful to the person who showed me what the beauty of social work looks like. I was in a position to learn and through that observation I recognized my own areas of growth. I have a lot of work to do, but to have the honor of doing this work? It’s definitely worth it.

February 11, 2015

Here Comes the Fear...

The only thing that I've been able to think about saying, is how I'm scared to come back to this space. I know, I've said that before. And that's why I've been stuck. I've been stuck with these words, and I haven't moved forward with trying to express myself despite the fear. 

Fear isn't the only thing that is keeping me back. I didn't know what I wanted my message to be, and if I even needed one. I've changed since I've started this blog. I'm almost done with college. I'm doing my internship at an amazing organization that helps LGBT youth. It's such an empowering experience because they allow me to speak my truth, and really value their members. I've been challenged to be authentic there- to not hide there, and I'm learning so much. My daughter will be two in three months. Fucking TWO. She's still the light of my life. She teaches me patience, and kindness. She teaches me to be slow, and observe. And of course she pisses me off to the point where we are both having tantrums. So I'm different.

When my daughter was born I was forced to deal with my demons. There were so many that I kept locked up and I didn't even realize how much it would affect my life. I became depressed. I was angry all the time, I got help. I had individual therapy for the anger, and group therapy for my trauma. I didn't know how transformational group therapy would be for me. The release I had there cannot be described, only felt. I wish I had time to continue with the group, because those women helped me so much. I like to think that we helped each other. There are still more demons, but I manage a little better now. I'm still guarded but I'm learning to soften over time. I know I don't need to rush things.

I've always just wanted to tell my story. I just wanted people to know they weren't alone. I wanted to know that I wasn't alone. And sharing in this space was safe for me, until it wasn't. I talked about some of the reasons in a previous post, but I still couldn't move forward. The more I tried to branch out, the more I tried to hide who I was and what I do. And not just writing here, but writing in general. I stopped sharing my photography, I don't sing in public, I hide my paintings, I do yoga alone, I hide what books I'm reading, I don't share my musical tastes. The only thing I would share is a sort of sassy sarcastic attitude that would make people laugh. Making people laugh is safe. Showing other aspects of my personality? Not so much. I can't pinpoint exactly when I started closing in, or why, but it happened. I want to fix that.

I can't say that from this point forward I'll write, and I'll share, and I'll be authentic, and I'll make friends being my true self and all that. I know the importance of authenticity, but I also know how hard it is to do that when you're healing at the same time. All I want to do is share my story. And sharing the fact that I'm struggling to be me, to open up, and how terrifying that is, is part of that story. I can promise that I'll try but I can't always promise that those efforts will be seen. I have a folder filled with words. Notebooks, too. I have photos and paintings, doodles, and I'm even challenging myself to get stronger at doing my handstands. Things are happening. Internal stuff is happening, but there's so much else that is not. I do celebrate my victories, but my heart still yearns to express.

Maybe this will start it all. Maybe you won't hear from me again for another year. I don't know. I just hope that when I come back, when I do decide to share myself, I hope that I will know that I'm not alone.

January 3, 2015

Intimidation...Unworthiness...Courage. Here's to moments like these.



I feel like I have to live up to something. Something great. Someone to be proud of. And when I think about those things, who that person would look like, I picture other people. I have to be like that person – they are doing extraordinary things. They have an image that I want. No one would look at me and see extraordinary.

This isn’t a post where I wine about how not-awesome I am, because I am the awesomest. But I have to acknowledge the times when I’m not feeling so extraordinary, and even the times when I’m not feeling ordinary, because in those uncomfortable feelings where I’m searching outside of myself for whatever it is my heart craves, there is a message. And it’s my job to listen. It’s my job to explore those feelings.

Well what do I like about that person?
What makes them extraordinary to me?
What are the feelings I’m trying to receive from trying to live in this person’s light and not my own?

I admire their creativity. Their beautiful photos. Their social media presence. I admire the way they treat their business. The way they explore nature or the things they do in the kitchen. I’m kind of jealous that they find the time to maintain their blog and business. Which probably means I want to be more creative. I want to go out and be adventurous. I want to cook something beautiful in the kitchen. I need to explore ways to spend time on things that are important to me.

This doesn’t always happen. Most of the time I end up in a ball on my bed eating ice cream or watching Grey’s Anatomy. And that’s important too. I can let myself fall sometimes. I can’t imagine how hard it would be for my spirit, if I never let myself crumble- if I always tried to find the positive right away, if I never let myself not smile, if I never let myself cry. I know from experience that when I crumble from all of that pressure, the damage affects my entire family.

Here’s to more creativity.
More writing.
More art.
More asking for what I need.
More being selfish.
More crumbling.
More tears.
More laughter.
More forgiveness.
More moments of intimidation.
More moments of envy.
More moments of Joy.
More moments of fear.
More moments of darkness.
More moments of finding the light in that darkness.
More moments of Love.

More moments of life.

November 12, 2014

New beginnings- reconnecting with "her".

I found myself the other day.

I put her in the corner, and sort of forgot she was there. I neglected her, but I found her the other day.

I think I was ashamed of who she was… who I am. I was ashamed because I felt alone. I felt like the people whom I was around were different than me, which is true, but I let that truth create a rule in my head that the path I chose to follow was silly. My silly, wooey ways didn’t fit into a mold that would allow me to be accepted into society. My silly wooey ways would be laughed at, and definitely not taken seriously. I don’t really know how true this is, but it was true enough for me that I hid myself.

I hid the woman who believed that all things were divine, and sacred. I covered up the woman who believed that there is beauty in all things. I hid the woman who believed in the healing power of the earth, the grounding nature of leaning against a tree (and yes, even hugging one).

That woman, me, would proudly wear her mala beads, and her three stone pyrite to protect her sensitive nature. She… I, believe in the power of gemstones, and would carry one (or more) with me depending on what I wanted to receive from the universe. I would chant to the universe. I would chant until it brought me to tears. I would chant until I was compelled to dance and spin freely. I would chant to Ganesh to remove the barriers from any obstacles in my way, and chant Om Namah Shivaya to remind myself that we are all God in various forms.

This woman would still get sad, but she would understand that this emotion, that particular moment, was just part of the ebb and flow of the universe. And that rough moment made her realize even more the interconnectedness of all things. This woman wouldn’t shy away from pain. She would feel it with all her being. She would go outside, and feel the wind against her skin, and know it was the universe’s nurturing touch.

She would’ve cleansed this new house with some damn sage a long time ago. It really needs it.

She wouldn’t sit in a corner.

It’s important to have friends around you that believe in different things. I’m not saying that I want carbon copies of myself. But I did get lost, and I realize now that’s normal, too. I hid myself but I also knew it was time to grow and stretch a little more. I became confident in different areas of my life. I got more comfortable with being a feminist, I became more comfortable with being a black woman (which is a super huge thing in this society), and I’m still getting comfortable with advocating for women, and people of color, which is what I really want to do because these types of discrimination are really close to my heart. Calling out the bullshit – in people, and in society, is something I need to do with my whole self. I need the hippy goddess in me to tell me the universe has my back. I need her confidence. I need her strength. I need her grace.

I am learning that I can continue to add to my identity. I don’t need to shed any layers unless I truly believe those layers do not serve me any longer. There’s a difference between knowing it’s time to let go, and letting go because we feel we will be rejected for being ourselves. I’ve had a couple of people tell me that if people do not like who I am, then I need to find new friends. A simple concept.

Friends don’t have to be like-minded, but they should be accepting. They should be loving and caring. Compassion is healing, nourishing, and super beautiful when folks show it. No hippyness is required to show compassion.

I miss this space. I miss writing. I need to do this. My spirit feels deprived. It feels dull and undernourished. I am in great need for some self-care.  I need to put myself first for a while (as much as I can with a needy, loving, toddler). My hope is that the fear of writing will begin soften by the strong desire to nourish my spirit. This is my attempt at doing that.

I’m currently reading Patti Digh’s creative is a verb, which is off to an amazing start. She says that living is creative- that we can find art in anything. And I’m reminded that there is beauty in all things, anything can be nourishing, spiritual, and sacred.

There’s always a little light in the darkness, but it has to start within. We have to see ourselves as worthy, sacred, spiritual, and filled with light. I’m working on it, are you? Let’s work on it together.

January 1, 2014

Show Up.

2nd photo of the new year. I took this photo because looking into the camera is very uncomfortable for me. 

I'm trying to just show up.
Just be here.
Not edit my words so much...

That's really hard.

It's amazing what happens when one simply wants to remove the filter.
When one simply wants to just be.

"But will they like it?
But will it be good?
But will anyone care?"

Maybe, maybe not.

Showing up feels scary. It feels shaky. And at the moment I'm working with being in that space.

I read recently about the middle way. The Middle Way isn't so much about not feeling happy or sad, you know, some sort of nothingness - it's really about being with where we are, especially when life becomes uncomfortable. The middle way requires us to live with our discomfort, instead of searching for an instant cure. This path also requires not becoming attached to our pleasure and happiness. The constant seeking and searching for that feel good thing, the never ending search for the salve to sooth our wounds... totally unnecessary.

In pain and pleasure there is wisdom. In both there is love, and kindness.

I'm hesitant to do some sort of 365 thing because I don't want to get caught up in that search for accomplishment, or shame if I forget a day. Honestly I'm more afraid of the shame. Then I must think if it's just the fear holding me back?

That's why it's important to explore our emotions. Even if I am feeling a little afraid, that's OK. And if I'm feeling excited, that's also OK. They are both on the same level. And it's OK if there's not an immediate answer.

Exploration is much more important, and we get so much more out of it. If we just remain curious, the answers will come in their own time.

So just show up. Whatever that may mean. It may mean a photo. It may mean writing. It may mean releasing that fear of setting goals.

I'm just going to leave it open and live through it all.

Tell me. How are you showing up today?

December 15, 2013

Sexiness: A Work In Progress.

I want to feel sexy.

Last night while watching my little girl, this desire - to feel sexy, came up. And I felt bad about it. As I imagined myself in red lipstick, and tight fitting clothes, as I imagined my freshly shaven legs strutting down a walkway, I felt bad. I'm not supposed to want to feel sexy. I mean, I'm so against the notion of playing into societal expectations of what women should look like in order to feel pretty. I didn't want my pretty feelings to come from doing what everyone says a woman should do to feel desirable.

But then, I thought, if I'm doing this for me, then what's wrong with it? I mean, it's not like I dress up and make myself up all the time. I don't spend a lot of time in the mirror obsessing about my appearance - even though my 'unkeptness' is a source of insecurity for me. I like being a natural woman, but I don't at the same time because every where I look I'm reminded that natural beauty really isn't considered beauty. It's not normal.

Does this desire to feel sexy stem from wanting to be normal? Am I trying to conform in some way? Am I just trying to tap into my feminine? And what does that even mean? Is tapping into our feminine all about makeup and tight clothing, or is it much more than that? That's a conversation I would love to -and need to- have another time.

I told my husband about this predicament I was having. This tugging at my heart to feel sexy and how I was so conflicted about wanting to wear makeup and be girly and, you know, be pretty for a change.

And then I asked, "What is sexy? What does that even mean?". And I realized I just wanted to feel confident. I wanted to be noticed. I wanted to be proud of myself. I wanted to be unapologetically me. It wasn't about the lipstick. It wasn't about the tight clothing. It was about letting my light shine. I was telling myself that I didn't want to hide anymore. I wanted to be me, but I didn't know how. This desire came from the restless feelings within -- feeling like an outcast, feeling alienated and alone.

For a moment, I just wanted to live and not hide. I wanted to smile and hold my head up. I can't do that yet. I admit that I can't do that yet. But what I figured out last night was that it's time to figure out how to make that happen. How to be Dyamond. Well, I already know how to be Dyamond, but it's time to figure out how to introduce the world to Dyamond. It's time to figure out how to move through the embarrassment, how to move through the world with all the skeletons and dark spaces in my closet, how to embrace the dark and the light at the same time with love. It's time to learn how to accept that I can't change how people will feel about me. People will tease me, make fun of me, and some will be inspired, some will be critical, some will be helpful and encouraging. I can't control any of that. I can't control anything.

I'm a work in progress. Always will be. And I'm learning that if I strive to be anything other than a work in progress, I'm always going to be unhappy. Life is constant change, constant growth, constant evolution. That's just how shit goes down. There's no happy ending. There's just acceptance. Surrender. Gratitude. Compassion. And lets not forget a whole lot of pain, and heartache, and discomfort.

I don't feel sexy. I'll get there. Especially now that I know what I really want. That's the beauty of sitting with the hard moments. Asking questions, diving deeper. As Pema Chödrön says: "Leaning into the discomfort". So I may still put on a little eye liner. I may still shave my legs. There really isn't anything wrong with being a little girly if that's what one feels called to do. But at least I know why I'm doing it. At least I know I'm doing it to be seen, and acknowledged. I'll support myself with Love.

Now, when I think about this, I hear a voice inside say, "Do what you need to do, Love". There's so much love. So much joy. So much patience. She knows we'll get there someday. She knows, lipstick or not, that we are brilliant. I know. This is my truth. The really is no actual destination. There is no "there" in the grand scheme of things. What I really hope to accomplish, more than gaining confidence, is acceptance. No matter what state of being I'm in. Whether I'm bursting from the seams with confidence, or if I'm hiding in a corner... Acceptance. Always a work in progress.

November 3, 2013

Today we create adventure. #NaPhoPoMo Day 2

It's interesting how quickly forget to cherish the little things.
That there is beauty even in the most dreariest of days.

I sometimes forget how to slow down, and savor the day. 

Drink it in slowly, like a good glass of wine...

Today I remember to create my own adventure. Sometimes it takes the low points to help us remember what truly gives our life meaning.

And I'm reminded at my low points that life is beautiful. All the time. I've been letting go so much more. Forced smiles become genuine. Letting life become playful- laughing more. Taking small moments to nourish creativity. 

Every time I get knocked down I am uplifted by the brilliance this life holds.

 And I remember that this sacred life... is mine. Ours. I am in control of my journey, and no matter what has happened thus far, I still have the choice - a chance - to be someone awesome.

Many gifts are not given, but with a change in perspective we can see just how many are just lying around.

Thank you, universe.