I’m back in good ol’ North Carolina after a wonderful visit with my family! (Recap coming soon.) Now that I’m back at work, I’ve been reflecting on a recent experience with a patient. It’s a complex situation that I obviously cannot delve into here on BNP, but suffice it to say that my patient and his wife has been through a lot. I marvel at their ability to keep moving forward despite obstacles and let downs, and it made me think of the quote below.
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” ―Mary Anne Radmacher
May we all find the quiet courage we need.
In honor of International Women’s Day, I wanted to share a quote from one of the women I most admire. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the second female Supreme Court Justice and an all-around remarkable woman.
“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made… It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg
This weekend my friend Caroline and I headed to downtown Raleigh for HKonJ’s Moral March. HKonJ stands for Historic Thousands on Jones St People’s Assembly Coalition. The purpose of the Moral March on Raleigh is “to hold a mass people’s assembly to reaffirm its commitment to the 14 Point People’s Agenda and to hold lawmakers accountable to the people of North Carolina.” The agenda addresses public education, health care reform, living wages, environmental justice, voting rights, and more.
Though I marched for many reasons, I was most motivated by supporting Medicaid expansion in North Carolina. I find it truly repugnant that the leaders of this state will not expand federally-funded health care coverage to 500,000 of North Carolina’s low-income citizens. It sends the damning message that some lives matter less, and a political statement is more important than those lives. Reflecting on the fallacious notion that some people are more valuable than others made me think of this quote:
“The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. ” -Paul Farmer
This is why social justice is the keystone of social work. I believe my most important role is to make it known and understood that all lives, especially the lives of those who are disenfranchised, matter.
P.S. If you don’t know much about Paul Farmer, I highly recommend Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder.
When I think of Chipotle, I think of delicious burrito bowls, quirky stories on the cups, and the weird music that they play in there. However, my recent visit to Chipotle was inspirational. Yes, last week I was inspired by a Chipotle bag. (I’ll file that one under “Things I Did Not Expect to Write in My Blog.”) The quote on the bag was from Steven Pinker, psychology professor at Harvard. The bag I saw had the last line from his “Two-Minute Case for Optimism.” Hope you enjoy the quote and essay as much as I did!
“We will never have a perfect world, but it’s not romantic or naïve to work toward a better one.” -Steven Pinker
One of the oldest sayings in social work is, “I’m a social worker, not a miracle worker!”
While it’s mostly a joke, I am frequently called into situations when no one knows what to do. In some ways, it’s intimidating to be viewed as the resident problem solver, but I also love the opportunity to be creative and explore options. Those “What now?” situations can be frustrating, especially if I’m in a time crunch or none of the options are good, but they keep me on my toes and teach me so much, no matter the outcome. My friend Caroline introduced me to the following poem, and it resonated with me. Perplexity, though trying, is what brings out my best work and the most important lessons I learn.
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
One of the trickiest things about social work (or really any helping profession) is genuinely caring about people without taking on all of their burdens. Obviously most people are attracted to helping professions because they want to do just that: help. However, it’s easy to see why people burn out in social work and related fields. As caring people, there is a tendency to empathize and take on that person’s pain, but you also need to be able to step back and see the problems without being overwhelmed by them. I was recently introduced to the quote below, and it resonated with me. It speaks to the paradoxical nature of being a social worker; you must care deeply but retain a certain level of detachment.
“Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.” – Andrew Boyd, Daily Afflictions: The Agony of Being Connected to Everything in the Universe
It’s been a while since I posted a quote, and I’ve had this one on my mind this week. Have you read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch? If you haven’t yet, I recommend it. It’s a short and easy read, but it’s also remarkably moving. Prior to his death, Pausch provided a great synopsis of the book/lecture on Oprah as well.
One of the most memorable parts of the The Last Lecture is when Pausch writes about brick walls. Rather than viewing setbacks or rejection as the end of the road, he chose to see them as opportunities to prove how much he wanted something. What a powerful way to reframe perceived failure. The brick wall isn’t the end; it’s an obstacle.
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” —Randy Pausch