Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Grading papers, paying bills and watching birds

Yep. It's been one of those days - weeks. The papers are great and I have to finish all the reading before 5pm tomorrow. Sigh. I also have three appointments and in the midst of all of this work I have learned that a special friend has died.

She was funny and energetic and she introduced me to birding. I never thought I would enjoy standing in the tall grass waiting for that single winged creature to light on the branch hanging over our hidden spot. She took me with a group of serious birders and I discovered following those creatures could be an exciting adventure.

For most birders, it's about collecting a list of birds they have actually seen. For me it has become a much simpler venture - proof that the world is filled with creatures that I can actually find and view even in my own backyard. I am always amazed when I have seen a feathered friend that is rare and generally not found in this location. I love the feeling that I am part of something so much larger than myself and completely out of my control. After a morning (it is always very early when you can spot those unique birds) waiting for a specific creature to land, I am motivated to be more aware of how my behavior impacts their world. While it may sound trite, birding is a powerful influence on my environmental consciousness.

So this message is a thank you to my friend who died this week. She will continue to live through the birding I include in my days.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Summer Plans!?

Already? I've been told it's important to have an activity or event to anticipate. It could be going to the JPL open house next week and satisfying that part of me that has fantasies of exploring a whole untouched and in known world.

And then there's the plan to take a five-day retreat in the forests near Monterey and Carmel. Such a beautiful area in which to sit quietly with no access to phone or internet.

In today's world of constant conflict, it is important for us to take care of ourselves in every possible way. We live in very stressful times. Our relationships are challenging and the world outside our safety zone is constantly changing. We must be strong enough to tolerate those unknown events that we confront daily.

Even something as simple as listening a a favorite piece of music or looking at a favorite piece of art provide a momentary sanctuary from the intensity of the world in which we are living. Choosing simple pleasures regularly make it possible to manage those challenges that are also thrown at us everyday.

Today as I walked the dog I passed a van for a floor finishing business. The van was covered with a famous impressionist painting that is one of my favorites. What a spark of pleasure and humor viewing that truck gave me. And because I was aware of that moment of positive feelings, I was able to handle the three intense calls I have managed this afternoon.

Be aware of those moments of pleasure when they happen. It is those moments that make the rest of the intensity tolerable.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A whole Semester!

I have been so lax - I have spent the past four months preparing for, writing for and teaching my classes in the School of Social work at USC(So. Cal.). Classes are complete for this Spring semester at USC and all that's left is the grading. Sigh.

It has been a truly wonderful semester that taught me as much as I offered my students. Now I get to sort through all the lessons in order to understand what I gained and to enhance the courses for Fall. There is nothing as exciting and simultaneously, as satisfying as participating in the development of new members of the health care community. It is in this experience I get to offer my own experiences as examples of what to do and what to avoid when supporting our clients.

And, yes, the clients - it's always two steps forward and sometimes two steps back. Sometimes it's only one step back and sometimes my clients actually graduate from the hard work of learning how to make the strong choices that demonstrate they are taking good care of themselves.

More later about my lessons and the skills my clients have learned and the next steps in the changes that are ingrained in the work I do.