Tough Skin 

Criticism. 

Does anyone like it?

Even if you put the word ‘constructive’ in front of it, it doesn’t feel good to receive criticism. 

I’ve realized I’m not good at criticism. 

I internalize it. I take it personally. I carry it with me. 

And that is a dangerous thing in child protection social work. 

Because basically every conversation I have with parents involves some kind of criticism. 

You’re not working fast enough – I know. I have 30 other families that need things from me too. 

You didn’t return my call – I know. But I had six other calls to return and then an emergency happened and I ran out of time. 

You didn’t do what you said you would – I know. I forgot. Or I got busy. Or on the list of things that had to get accomplished today, that was the one that got missed. 

You’re not even doing your job – I am, but it’s not my job to work harder than you. 

You’re not letting me see my kid for no reason – except there is a reason, you just don’t want to see it. 

You’re not giving me my kid back cause you don’t like me – there may be truth there, but that’s not why. It’s because I’m not convinced your kid is safe with you. 

Social workers have tough skins. They have to, to survive in this field. They have to let the words of criticism said in anger or frustration every single day roll off their shoulders. 

My skin is still growing. 

I know there is some truth in the criticism of the parents. There are things I’m not doing, simply because I can’t. 

But words are just words. And it’s time to let them go. 

Some criticism is important. From people whose opinion matters. From people who are teaching you. 

And the rest are just words. In one ear and out the other. 

At least in theory. 

My skin will grow tough. I will let go of words. I will learn to deal with the never ending stream of criticism. 

I would like it to grow faster though…

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Mistakes 

Mistakes happen all the time. 

You accidentally take the wrong lunch to work. 

You accidentally call the wrong number.

You accidentally forget to do what you said you would do. 

You use the wrong name, say the wrong thing, say what you were thinking but didn’t mean to say. 

Mistakes can define you. 

Even the smallest mistake can run around and around in your head. Reliving it. Figuring out how not to do it again. 

I’ve made some mistakes at work lately. 

And mistakes at work could jeopardize the safety of a child. 

I haven’t finished things in time. 

I’ve listened to the advice of the wrong people. 

I haven’t done what I should have done. 

So far, the consequences haven’t been grave. 

But I’m not used to making so many mistakes. I’m not used o having so little confidence in myself and my abilities. 

And these mistakes go around and around in my head. I wonder where I went wrong. I wonder how I could have done better. I think through my decisions and second guess them all. 

I’m good at my job. Well, decent at least. I’m new. I don’t always know what to do or how to do it. 

I hope that I will only have to make these mistakes once. That I will learn. 

And I’m smart. I will learn. 

And mistakes are part of learning. And part of any job, or really anything that happens in life. 

This is my reminder to myself: I will make mistakes. And they might be big. Or small. Who really knows. But they will happen. And I will grow from them. I will not repeat them again. Even if I have to be talked to by my supervisor, it will be okay. Mistakes do not make me incapable of my job. Mistakes do not mean I am stupid. Mistakes are a learning opportunity. A growing opportunity. 

So now it’s time to let it go. To move on. To take a deep breathe in and breathe out the day. To learn and to grow. 

Today is gone and can’t be changed. 

Tomorrow is a new day. 

And it will have its own mistakes. 

And it will be okay. 

Thankful Thursday

This week I am thankful for:

  • Church: it had been a few weeks since I was at church as I was on vacation one week and teaching Sunday school another. But being in church, worshipping, praying, listening, it refills my soul. Makes me feel whole again. I need it like I need air to breathe. 
  • Grandparents: I don’t get to spend a lot of time with my grandparents. There’s not even a good reason for that. But when I’m with them I’m reminded of a few things: they love completely. Each other and their children and their grandchildren. And it is unconditional. They have the power of prayer behind them. I can’t tell you how many times my grandparents have told me that they are praying for me and I know it’s true, without a doubt. And prayer is powerful. 
  • Walks: I’ve been trying to get more active. And I’ll be real, I went for a grand total of one walk this week. But it was nice, nice to be outside in the sun, nice to get off the couch, nice to be active. 

What are you thankful this week?

Powerless

I saw this today on Facebook. 

It brought me comfort, knowing that I am not powerful enough to mess up God’s plan. I am insignificant. But I mean something to God. And he uses me and places me where he needs me to be. Because even in my insignificance, I am significant. 

Without God, I am nothing. 

With God, I am everything. 

Sleep Fear

I can’t sleep. 

It started a week ago. This inability to fall asleep. This inability to stay asleep. 

I’ve been waking up around 5am. And be done with sleep. No falling back asleep. 

My mind turns on and it doesn’t go away. My thoughts start racing. About today, yesterday, tomorrow. 

I try everything. Counting. Deep breaths. Focusing my thoughts. 

And still it continues. 

I know the cause. 

It is anxiety.

Anxiety about my job. About what I’m doing or not doing. About whether I’m even cut out for this job. 

It’s anxiety about me as a person. Judging myself. Judging my life. And finding myself lacking. 

And it’s anxiety about sleep. I am so anxious about my need to sleep that I don’t sleep. 

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

I go to bed expecting to wake up at 5am. And, shockingly, I wake up at 5am. 

But I need to let go. 

Let go of the anxiety.

Let go of the fear. 

Let go of it all. 

I am in control of my life. 

And sometimes I will be hard on myself. 

And sometimes I will fail at my job.

And sometimes I won’t sleep at night.

But I’ll be okay. 

I’ll learn. I’ll grow. I’ll develop.

There’s no where to go but up. 

And now, good night. 

I hope you all sleep well. And that I do too. 

Mind, Body, and Soul 

What is health? 

I focus a lot on physical health when I think about health. And, to be honest, I am not physically healthy. 

I’m a tad bit lazy and I like my junk food a bit too much. 

But physical health isn’t everything. There is more then just my body at play here. There is also my mind and my soul. 

And health is a complete picture of those three things. One is not enough. One will not keep me standing for long. One will not keep me happy, healthy, and sane. 

And so here is the question I ask myself: how to do I keep myself wholly healthy? 

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. Again, with my new position in child protection I feel an urgency to this that I didn’t feel before. I feel a need to have a plan. To take care of myself. 

So here is my plan:

Mind: I spend a lot of time staring at a screen. Some of that is healthy, like this blog. This will continue to be a place where I can process my thoughts and write them down. And this is one way to keep my mind healthy. But what else? I’ve added art to my week. More on this later but I think that it is another way to work my mind.  I hope to turn the tv off more. The fact that this is not a clear goal should tell you how committed I am to it. Maybe read more (I already told read a lot). Journal in nature. I’m not sure what other ideas I have for this or what else will help. 

Body: like I said, I’m a tad bit lazy. I’m honestly not sure when I was last at the gym (actually it was like couple months ago doing Zumba). So how do I motivate myself to get exercise? I’m really asking cause I have no idea. My hope is to start going to some classes, starting in the fall, that will be a bit more interesting then just free gym. I also want to start doing some simple (think five minute) excercises at home. (Send over some suggestions if got them). And I want to walk more. It’s hard cause it rains a lot here, but it’ll be a goal. 

But body health is more than just excercise. I want to eat healthy. (Or healthier at least) And what will work for me is rethinking lunch. I plan to work on some meal plans and have Sundays as meal prep days. So far this worked this week. My hope is this will help me put some more thought into my lunch and start a healthier eating trend. 

Soul: for me this is the most important area. I am a Christian. I believe in God. And it is the most important thing to me. But it is also easy to let slip away, to not focus on the daily discipline. So I’m trying to be committed. And there are several things I plan to do: go to church. Seems simple but that time of worship is invaluable. Spend more time in prayer. Again, a no brainer, and yet something I’m not very good at consistently. Bible study during breakfasts. I was good at this for several weeks and then suddenly it disappeared. Now I will start again: every morning with my breakfast I will read a passage from the Bible and answer some questions. Memorize scripture. Every Sunday I will pick a verse and spend the week memorizing it. I may have been a Christian basically my entire life and yet have very little scripture memorized. Time for that to change. I also plan to use these weekly verses and dwell on them for the week and use it as the inspiration for drawing. I am not an artist, but I think it will be good to try something new. To draw what is in my mind. To express myself through art. 

So there you go. This is my self care plan. My plan to be wholly healthy. 

I hope the motivation I am feeling now will remain. That I will commit to the vision that I have for my life and I will grow as a person. 

Stay tuned for an evaluation of this plan. And my commitment to it. 

And if you have any suggestions to add to this, send them my way!

Thankful Thursday

This week I am thankful for:

  • Art: this one is strange, not something I would have ever thought about before. But in trying to develop some self care ideas I came across this inner desire to draw. I’m not good at it but for me it’s about expressing what’s inside my mind, putting it on paper. It’s about connecting with God. I’m hoping I’ll continue this long term, but at least for this week I am thankful for this new desire. 
  • Laughter: because laughter is the best medicine right? I had a good time with family, eating, drinking, and laughing. 
  • Walks: again, this comes from my self care needs. I’ve realized I need to be more active. So I went for a walk when the weather was nice. Listened to some music. And enjoyed the feeling of being outside for no real reason. 

What are you thankful for this week?