August 24, 2008

What can I say...if it applies...apply it!

This woman is my new best friend, she shook me out of my two week depression...she's Rosanna Guadagno, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama. Today I came across her study of three hundred student bloggers. While I was not willing to pay for her research paper, it states that women bloggers tend to be more neurotic. It was just what I needed to move me up and out! I set my little timer and off I went!
On the other hand...300?? That seems like a very few compared to the millions of bloggers out in cyber space...many of which I have spent my time reading since I've been depressed. Many are not American woman, many have amazingly interesting topics they blog many I could not name them all! Unfortunately, numbers are always the name of the game in today's world, but 300?? And college students at that?
Oh well...Dr. Guadagno is still my new best friend! Nobody wants to think of themself as neurotic, even if they are....and besides, I already finished the wash and kitchen! My depression? That's a blog for another day.

Aren't kids great?

August 19, 2008

Olympic Angst

Kindness Girl's take on the Olympics is where I have been camped all week! Good, bad....watching gives me so much angst (though I haven't had Braxton Hicks for 30 years! ) The emotions just pull me in till my stomach hurts. Like an alien with incredibly long spindly fingers and toes, Michael Phelp's lanky body smoothly forges ahead of the others; but I am still wondering about the swimmers behind they still have hope for a medal or do they know they will never catch him? Chinese gymnast Cheng Fei won the bronze for the vault even after falling, and finished 7th in floor exercises, but she was expected to take gold. She sees her family once year, her life has been committed to earning gold in Beijing. Her countrymen still love her, as do we but how does she feel?

Alicia Sacramone be remembered as the gymnast who cost the US a medal in the finals?

And it isn't just the's their moms, their dads, the brother, the sister, the wife holding a baby, their coaches...all watching with great anticipation. They too have been on the journey. Everyone has a story, most involve years of hard work, dedication and commitment. So I wonder about those who swim their hearts out, but will never catch Michael Phelps'. Or those who get eliminated when they stepped over a line or inadvertently fell into the pool. And how about those young athletes who are predicted to "take it all" but they just don't. It isn't just a sport, it is their life, their very heart, their story.

I probably do not understand it all, not being much of a sports I leave them all with a blessing, whether you won or lost at Beijing. .......May your dreams come true even if it does not happen in the pool, balance beam or track...may all your efforts, hard work take you to a place of true contentment where your story has a very happy ending and peace fills your heart.

August 9, 2008

Olympics 2008- Beijing

Last night we watched the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. I am incapable of describing it, what an amazing display of creativity!! The combination of centuries-old art forms and state-of-the-art electronics, plus fireworks for a thousand Fourths of July left us speechless. The beautiful Chinese traditions and stories were woven together with unbelieveable technological feats. It was long but never lost our attention, each part could have been the finale, it was so unbelieveable. Lovely as it was, it seemed like a greater message was being sent, unsettling for one who follows the news in Sudan, Burma, and Tibet.

Kevin Garside's article was thought provoking.
"Tibet, Burma, Sudan and the colonisation of Africa are the issues routinely raised to keep the dragon in check; human rights the moral stick to beat the beast into submission. Don't waste your time. This was history set to music and dance, every step reminding Bush and assembled world leaders that Beijing stands at the centre of a universe every bit as legitimate as those born of Greece or Rome"
While the spirit of the games is beautiful, China's ever reaching omimous hand silently stretches towards far away places like Sudan. There people suffer daily from the oppression of a government dependent on funding from China. Would there be so many civil wars in Africa without foreign nations supplying guns and weapons while greedily standing in the wings waiting to snap up their rich national resources? The games will soon be over but people will daily awake and live with to the decisions China makes in their far away land. I hope we never close our eyes to that.

August 8, 2008

What makes a GREAT athlete??

“.... my philosophy toward sports is a cliché: it isn't so much the result that makes me proud of an athlete or a performance; it's the effort. It's how an athlete handles wins and losses, it's attitude. And it's about understanding that being great at a sport doesn't make you a great person.” Excerpt from TIME magazine by Dan Jansen 4/30/06

Today I read the wonderful comment Dan Jansen made in an online TIME article about Joey Cheek. It expressed what I have not been able to put in words for years. Truthfully I have been a critic of professional sports figures and have often times missed all the wonderful men and women out there who have used their talents to give back to their community and world. Stereotyping is a bad thing most of the time, so I want to give a shout out for Joey Cheek. He put his money where his mouth was when he gave his bonus medal winnings, earned at Torino for speed skating, to the Darfur cause. Since then he has co-founded TeamDARFUR, an international coalition of athletes committed to raising awareness about and bringing an end to the crisis in Darfur Sudan.

In a country where the average fan idolizes sport figures, will buy endorsed shoes and clothes but could not even afford a ticket to a game or the Olympics, it is wonderful to know there are people like Joey Cheek and many others who will set an example and give back to the community and world.

August 5, 2008

$%!!#&^Pet Peeve ... the Chit-Chat "F" WORD

I am soooo over the profanity everywhere you go… Cursing is so commonplace today that few people truly notice. Especially the F-word!! My husband tells the story of seeing a man cussing on the street when he was a small boy in Bridgeport, CT and how they “hauled the guy away in a paddy wagon” (wow…that ages you Babe) for swearing in public. Now my Jim has been known to exaggerate from time to time, and I often thought the guy was probably disorderly or drunk but the point is, there was a time when swearing was not acceptable.

I am not so sanctimonious to say I don’t swear myself, I do. But remembering back several years I think of a client who came to our office one day. She sat drawing for a couple of hours. It was quiet and a rather peaceful time as she began to reflect back on her childhood. Remembering warm memories of good people left behind, far from the ugliness that brought her into care…it touched a chord in her heart and ours as we silently imagined a past that might lead to a future. A while later, her harried young case manager appeared to collect her, a casemanager at end of her rope, but the child had been tangling from hers for a long time.

The day ended sadly, a confrontation in the small visiting room across from our office, quiet voices of the staff trying to seek the right path, escalating conversation, police, scuffling and metal cuffs banging against the large glass window. But ingrained in my memory is the shouting of 14 yr old, screaming over and over at the top of her lungs “F-you!! F-you!! F-you all!!!!” Screams unleashing all the pain she ever felt…endless, endless pain. They were good words she was using, true words…and they were not ugly enough…surely there were worse words for the occasion?

So when I think about the F word…that’s the day I remember and I think it should be reserved for times like that. Shouldn't you save a bad word for a very bad time? Of course that would make it very subjective...that's okay too. Maybe your bad is nothing compared to my client's but it's your bad time. I will not judge another's pain...but the chit-chat has to stop!
Interestingly there is an actual organization called Cuss Control Academy, they actually get paid ($1500) to come out to your company to give a presentation about the negatives of swearing in the workplace. Even though I probably agree with the principle....that’s a little too much! Today for me, I just want to voice a pet-peeve and that’s the use of the F-word to chit-chat about everything in life, it is really on my nerves and we should upgrade our language skills!!

August 3, 2008

Do Clothes Make the Man?? Maybe...

Mark Twain once said, "clothes make the man. " There is something to be said about that. I remember the first time I met Jack...he was a cute smiling kid. The next time I saw him, he was in a group home, sullen and pensive after moving from his foster home of many years. Jack was like a kid misplaced, his soul seemed stomped on. Everything was done properly but some times you can't fix a child's heart, not even with a lot of therapy. So Jack's life was full of school trouble, police altercations, and multiple placements.

He's tough now, he's a self proclaimed thug and quite proud of it. In the semi lock-up where he lives, he has advanced and now frequently rides the bus to the office. Usually he slinks in with shorts hanging under his backside, a tee-shirt covering it. Some days he complains endlessly about what's not being done for him. It's true he's had a bad life but if we do not redirect him he will acquire an attitude of entitlement which will paralyze his future.

Last week he wants me to buy his lunch, I tell him no but he can share mine. Thanks but no-thanks he says but quickly changes his mind. We talk as I microwave our meal; my patience is waning and I find myself telling him, at 30 no one cares that he had a bad life in foster care, they want to know that he comes to work on time and does a good job. I don't know what makes me say this but he's not listening anyway, he's asking how I make soup. I smile and tell him. The words about his future are not for him today, he's not quite ready...but he will hold them for another day.

In summer the office is like a second home where many kids would stay all day if they were permitted. Amazingly, over the years it has become quite easy to see through the facades of the children. And this child is easy....he's smart, deep and pensive...and there is a promising future for him .... if he can just make a few good choices and just ONE PERSON will hang in with him!

Thursday he appears at the door with a clothes bag slung over his shoulder. He is so excited he can barely talk. "ONE PERSON" has arranged for Jack to meet an attorney. Later Jack emerges from the men's room in dress pants (actually covering his backside) and a maroon designer dress shirt and tie. He is transformed in some strange way. Are the pants too tight he wonders? No, he looks great, I tell him. He rushes off to have someone teach him how to tie his tie. He finds Booker, the best dressed guy in the office.

It chokes me up a little, Jack treats us like we are his family. I wish this moment was shared with his real family, not people working at a foster care agency. But Deb, my supervisor reminds me...we care about him and he knows it. She's very practical. With that, Jack reappears, looking sharp in a windsor knot. Soon it's time to leave and his anticipation turns to anxiety.

What should he say??? What should he do?? He's sooooo nervous as he awaits the elevator. I tell him to relax, be himself. He's very disturbed by that response, he tells me he can't possibly do that, the guy won't like him. No time for self-esteem lessons, so I tell him to put out his hand and "Hi I'm Jack, thanks for meeting with me!" I hug him and he's off! I return to my desk, Deb and I are like mother hens praying this man will be great for Jack. Time passes, there's work to be done but we are still thinking about Jack....

Later he returns, full of details, a $26 plate of pasta..$26!!!, a Jaguar something, the man's office in detail....he happily chatters on confidently, ..."a job...our relationship starts today, not interested in my past mistakes"...the man has planted hope in Jack's heart! I wish the man was there, I'd kiss him!! I push away the worries...will the man eventually weary of Jack, will Jack return to his old ways? Those fears are not for today, there's hope and in foster care you have to seize every moment of hope!
Some boys are fooling around in the hallway, yelling, pulling, pushing...Jack calls to them "Cut it out!" Debbie reminds them that they should go to downstairs, so Jack herds them to the elevator...but I call after him telling him I think he looks great! With great confidence he calls back " I feel GREAT!" He's a different boy, he sounds different, acts different and is full of GOOD dreams! Is it the clothes?..maybe just a little! Maybe the clothes mirror the new hope inside!