The System

Of course, after I write about separating work and play….I spend the following Friday night thinking about nothing but work. Despite the best of intentions I can’t always keep work at the office. I didn’t bring my laptop or notebook home with me but I can’t stop thinking about one of my cases. Nothing is neat and tidy about this case and there are so many loose ends I don’t know where to start tying.

To be honest, I was thinking about how this case might just make me lose my faith. In the child welfare system. In the court system. In everything.

Basically these kids need to be adopted and never go home. It sounds harsh and I try so hard to be pro family, but the level of trauma these children have been through and continue to go through warrants that they should not be returned to their parents. Not to mention, mom and dad have never made progress.

Just yesterday the dad was unable to tell me his current address. Note I did not say he didn’t tell me his address. He isn’t homeless either, he has an address. He couldn’t tell me because he didn’t know. I know we ask parents to do a lot of things before we send kids home, but usually knowing your address isn’t one of them. This guy literally does not know his own address and yet someone seems to think he would be able to parent four children.

Despite this, the court system isn’t pulling the trigger and this case continues to be drug out unnecessarily. And the kids are suffering. I want so desperately to say these kids won’t have to go home, but I can’t say that with certainty.

I went into this line of work with at least some hope in the system. I know it’s flawed, but it seems like most of the time it works, or so I’d like to think. I can think of another child who so desperately needs to go home and yet the court won’t allow that either. So broken. So messed up. The most vulnerable members of our society, the children, suffer.

Not so long ago, my small group leader commented that statistics show a high percentage of social workers are atheist. And I’m starting to see why. The system we work in is so deeply flawed. It is so deeply corrupt. At the end of the day, I know the reason there is a chance these kids might go home is because behind closed doors two attorneys struck a deal and it had nothing to do with protecting those who are most vulnerable. Working in a system like this is it any wonder people lose faith?

Not so long ago I thought I was above losing my faith but now I’m not so sure.

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Keeping Work Out of the Weekend

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Ah, Thursday night, you are my friend. Once you arrive I know that the weekend is right around the corner. In my short career as a social worker I have found weekends are not as enjoyable when you emotionally (or literally) bring your work home with you.

This week in particular has been particularly stressful. Every night I lay awake in bed and think about all the things I need to do the next day. Since I don’t sleep well, I get up late, go to work late, get more behind and feel guilty for how behind I am. It’s a vicious cycle.

However, in my short tenure I have found a way to keep work at bay on the weekends. First off, I never ever bring my laptop home with me. Ever. Second, I rarely schedule any appointments on Friday. If I do, they are in the morning or it is with my “easy” clients. There are some clients I only see on Friday because I know when I get home I will probably want need a drink or two. I generally use Fridays to catch up on getting my notes in and that helps clear my mind before I check out for the weekend. Another thing I do is I try not to schedule anything too early on Monday mornings. I just need some time to get settled back into the work week and having a relaxed Monday morning helps that happen. Sometimes things are so crazy I could have a whole Monday free and it wouldn’t matter though.

I don’t know if this system will always work and maybe I’ll end up tweaking it down the line. Maybe one of these days I’ll figure out a system to debrief my mind everyday and not just Friday. But for now, I am very happen that the weekend stays the weekend.

Jury Selection

Last Thursday I was summoned for jury duty. Truth be told, I was excited. I am a dork who secretly loves being in a courtroom, unless I am testifying…then I hate it. Back to the task at hand, jury selection.

Weeks before actually reporting to jury duty I got a letter telling me I had been picked and a questionnaire I had to return. It was pretty intrusive and wanted to know where I worked, where Seth worked, who I lived with, if I had children, etc. things that would definitely be off limits at a job interview.

We were called up into the courtroom and one of the clerks read off names of the jurors who would be questioned first. I’m guess the attorneys had a chance to sift through those questionaries and hand picked us. My name was the sixth to be called out of probably forty. The judge then questioned us. Some questions were pretty basic and to be expected, others were out of left field. Like, do you have any bumper stickers on your car? And what newspapers or magazines do you subscribe to?

Out of the twelve jurors being questioned I was the only one who did not subscribe to anything. [In my defense, I don’t really have a lot of free time or money to be spending on subscriptions and the local paper is worthless.] The judge asked if I subscribe to anything online and I admitted I do subscribe to some blogs. She asked me what kind and I said “home decor” [but to be completely truthful I probably should have said food blogs and mommy blogs, but home decor was the first thing to come to mind] and she asked me to name one of the blogs I read. I said “Young House Love” and she merely remarked, “Hmm, that’s interesting.”. I’ll have you know she did not call any of the other jurors interesting.

The process went much quicker than I expected and in less than an hour the jury had been selected. Only three people were removed before we were left with the final twelve.

Fifteen

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Fifteen years ago today my life was forever changed. As of right now, I can’t say if it was a good or a bad change. It certainly wasn’t all good, but I don’t think I can say it was all bad either. I reflected on my drive home about how different May 7, 2012 was much May 7, 1997 or May 7, 2007 or any other May 7 post 1997. In fact today was almost like May 7, 1996 or any May 7 prior.

You see, today was different because I wasn’t dwelling on the past. I wasn’t wallowing in self pity and playing the victim. I’ve sure done a lot of that in the past. Today was almost normal and almost just like any other day. I did what I had to do at work and wasn’t waited down with grief, sadness, a sense of loss, or self pity. Or even anger. I’ve spent this day angry more than a few times.

Fifteen years ago today, my mom lost her battle with leukemia. Ten year old me came home from school and had no idea what I was about to hear. I spent approximately the next ten years searching for a reason and a meaning and anything that could justify this trauma. I was searching for someone, anyone to tell me that this didn’t mean God didn’t love me. Instead, everyone kept saying “God works all things for good for those who love him” and I kept thinking God didn’t love me.

Almost five years ago I read Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz and it changed my mind about God. One chapter in that book revolutionized the way I read Romans 8. In the moment I read it I had hope. Hope that maybe this didn’t mean God had scorned me. Maybe just maybe my life up this point had not turned out this way because God had it out for me.

And that is why today was almost normal. I know that I am loved by God and the circumstances of my life are not a reflection of the amount God loves me. I have peace.

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The Best of Intentions

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I’ve had the best of intentions to get up and blog in the mornings. But then I open up Google Reader and get lost in the world of all the blogs I follow. Or, I start typing up a bunch of my case notes, and even though that’s a totally different type of writing, I just get tired of writing and end up laying on the couch, instead of sitting at the island, which is much more conducive to writing a post.

This morning, though, I am making a change. Instead of lazily laying on the couch surfing the internets for an hour, I went for a run that was shorter than I care to admit, took a shower and sat down to write this post. Well, let’s be honest: I did open up Google Reader which reminded me I have been a bit neglectful of my own blog.

Last Thursday I had every intention of writing up a post about my first impressions of jury duty. Alas, that post is still floating around in my brain. [Spoiler alert: I was selected to be on the jury and get to go back later this week and part of next to serve. Yippee!] I have also had every intention of taking some pictures of the new digs, but we’re coming up on the one month mark and I’ve got nothing.

This is me promising to my invisible (and probably nonexistent) readership that I am going to be a better blogger. I am going to document my life more regularly and more consistently.