In January 2022, with less than a month to plan, the NASW-MD presented The Black Health and Wellness Symposium to celebrate Black History Month. What I took away from this amazingly beautiful experience is that when people say you can’t, or shouldn’t, or slow down, think deeply about what you want. Sometimes the advice is solely intended for your good. Other times, the advice is based on what the other person feels they shouldn’t or wouldn’t do. Listen to your voice. Find those who believe in you and keep going.
We experienced such great success at our symposium that the audience asked us to bring more. Stay tuned because we are back at it again! Onward!Learn More
In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.
- You’ve been feeling low or irritable for most of the day, every day for two weeks or more. You might have found yourself worrying about past or future events for long periods of time, or simply feeling sad, cross or tearful. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize a gradual change – have others noticed that you don’t seem your usual self?
- You’ve lost interest in activities that you used to enjoy. Perhaps you have been seeing less of your friends or family recently, have stopped going to the gym, or cooking balanced meals. This is really about recognizing changes in what’s normal for you – no one is saying you have to exercise five times a week or eat your greens, but changes in your routine can offer concrete indications that your mood is changing.
- You are struggling to concentrate. You might notice that you struggle to focus when reading or watching television, for example, or to follow the thread of a spoken conversation. This could be affecting your performance at work, or limiting your ability to perform routine tasks such as food shopping. Again, we are looking for a change in what’s normal for you, so if concentration has always been something you find tricky there is little cause for concern.
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.
– Robert Frost
It’s all coming together. We have a week-long line-up of culturally informed events curated just for you. The conference week will start with an opportunity to get to know us and you. On Monday evening, we will host a fun and interactive online networking night. On Tuesday afternoon, take your lunch to your desk and join us for a quick lunch and learn event. Be sure to finish your work on Tuesday, because come Wednesday we want you to clear your desk and prepare for your journey into culture. We will begin with a morning webinar followed by an evening in-person meet and greet. After two years, we get to fellowship in person! Enjoy conversations with other professionals and businesses to help support the work you do and here’s another bonus… you get to come outside! Be sure to party responsibly and get a full night’s sleep because, on Thursday, we will join in a full day of engaging learning experiences. Finally, to help celebrate the reason why we are doing this, we will have a surprise for conference attendees on Friday to help celebrate the newly federally recognized holiday, Juneteenth!
You absolutely cannot miss the time for all of us to be together! Looking forward to celebrating with you!
The things that overwhelm me are the things I invite into my life. My calendar overflows with work, and personal and social obligations. Most overwhelming are the regular life events like being on time for various appointments, scheduling appointments, returning voicemail and email messages, etc. Weirdly, catastrophes don’t throw me off my center. Perhaps I haven’t met a catastrophe big enough, but when tragedy comes I somehow feel like I’m “dealing with it.”
I’ve decided it’s because tragedies require focus and they are not optional. Tragedies demand attention and I give it my fullest, ride it through, even if it’s on a wave of tears.
The nit-picky, mundane details of living a grown-up life can potentially flatten me. Most of the time I win. There are several pages of to-do lists strewn about my office and home with precisely drawn cross-out lines. Victory for me.
Then, truthfully, there are some days those pages stay tucked away. Blame it on laziness, distraction, boredom, and all of the above.
I hoped by writing this post that a magical affirmation would float from the sky and gently land in my lap. “Oh Great Universe, what is the solution to cure my overwhelm?”
Silence. I only hear the breath flowing through my body. It’s as if the Universe is saying, “There is the answer. Slow down and breathe.”
Usually, when I follow that advice, clarity surely wins. I keep myself accountable for the most urgent and release the pressure from needing to do it all today. There’s always tomorrow and if tomorrow doesn’t come, I think I will be glad that I didn’t waste time on the unimportant.
That’s my affirmation for today. Always subject to change….. (more…)
Janet Harmon Bragg is not a common household name but most of us can experience the essence of her story.
Mrs. Bragg was born in 1907 in Atlanta and was raised to believe “if Jack can do it, Jill can do it, too.” Mrs. Bragg received a nursing degree from Spelman, moved to Chicago, and became a nursing supervisor and then a health inspector. But, in the then home of Black Aviation (Chicago), Mrs. Bragg yearned to fly.
She did all the right things. She was the first Black woman enrolled in a grounds school of flying, earned two pilots’ licenses and purchased a plan, but was denied entry as a WW II Women’s Auxiliary Service pilot because of her race.
Despite her disappointment, Mrs. Bragg earned a commercial flying license. She denied the opportunity to fly commercially because, at that time, those paid opportunities did not exist for African-American pilots.
All the right credentials and experiences couldn’t get her to make a living soaring through the air. Seemingly, her dream and passion were grounded.
Later, an opportunity arose for Mrs. Bragg to purchase an apartment building that she converted into a recovery home for patients receiving public assistance. Another opportunity came and she went on to provide nursing care in a 22 room mansion that also housed students visiting from Ethiopia.
In 1955, the nurse by trade and the pilot by passion was a three-month personal guest of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie.
While Mrs. Bragg may have dreamed to be in the clouds, her story shows that with coming through disappointment, opportunities and untapped talents can travel and form in emotional and physical places never before imagined. While her physical plane was grounded, Mrs. Bragg allowed other dreams to soar.
Opportunities can bring forth multiples dreams.
In “Dreams,” Langston Hughes wrote:
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
Call our to your DreamS, not Dream. Keep Soaring!Learn More
There’s a difference between sharing opinions and being overly critical. It’s easy to sit in judgment of others. Be well informed before giving your opinion.
Opinions can be shared to help, not harm. Being the expert in someone’s life is a dangerous responsibility. Once you get into “They should say and do this and that,” then you should be able to predict and deter them in harmful acts. Are you ready to be the expert of all people’s thoughts and actions, or do you think you want to try being the expert in your own life?Learn More
I heard that phrase while watching a documentary. I can’t remember the name of it, but it had to do with some union members (industry? can’t recall) who developed an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with people who struggled with alcoholism. This EAP was unique in that it was staffed by employees of the company who were recovering from alcohol addiction. It was a great piece; the kind of thing that a social worker loves. It showed community, self-determination, mission, assistance to the vulnerable. One gentleman on the piece said something like, “the guys in here know they can come to us because we work with them and we’re they’re for them. They know we’ve been through the same thing. Not like some social worker…’
I believe that statement is what got me to forget the name of this beautiful documentary. My mind trailed and ruminated on Some Social Worker. The words circled in my head like someone had just told me devastating news. Like someone called me a dirty name. I could not get myself together. Why would a quick statement like that jolt me as if I was learning more details on war around the world?
In reflection, I suppose I did take it as heart-breaking. The profession that I feel is right for me in its compassion, fortitude, commitment, and advocacy was whittled down to, Some Social Worker.
Secretly, I admit that I understand why this guy covertly dismissed my profession. He probably assumes that social workers are heartless people who take children from their homes, who give out social services, or who recklessly handle people and sit in judgment of them.
That’s the way we are portrayed in the media. But this piece is not about lamenting on the media’s irresponsibility.
This is about social workers standing up for social workers. I was taught that in order to be treated a certain way; you must command a certain presence. I am guilty of not commanding the presence that would demand professional respect. I’ve called myself many things professionally to make a conversation go quicker or to give a more easily identifiable name to what I “do” and to avert the glaring eyes of people who pity me or fear me when I say, “I’m a social worker.”
My journey into social work is, in my mind, unusual. I had not been introduced to social work until I arrived to my undergraduate campus. I created the vision of my career in my senior year in high school; I was going to be a prominent psychologist who was going to figure out ails of the world, write a book about it, guest on Oprah and retire to my summer home in the Hamptons.
I was interested in the human mind and thought that psychology was my ticket to its discovery.
It was not until that day on campus that the psychology department chair and social work department chair had an information table. I was wandering around the psychology department hoping to rub elbows with the professors. They called me over to introduce me to the school’s dual major program. The psych chair asked me of my future interest and I told him about Oprah and saving the world. He suggested that if I wanted to save the world that I consider the dual undergraduate program and consider a social work graduate school. I slightly glanced over to the social work chair and thought, “the people who snatch kids? I don’t think so.” However, I took the information and seemed eager because I wanted to be able impress the psych chair. No need in upsetting the man when I could really use his reference one day.
Slowly returning to my dorm, the information sat in my bag. Mentally, I prepared my list of all the reasons I would offer to the psych chair on why social work is not for me. I figured within those reasons should be some key words, so I dug out the social work literature.
I was impressed. While I read this literature, the pages of my life up until that point slowly turned. The social work and psychology courses were so similar. The more I read, the more I knew that I was not just interested in the mind; I was interested in the human condition.
I was always the child who questioned injustice listening to my parents talking about discrimination at the workplace. I was compassionate to others as I would listen to my friend’s problems from suffering with abusive parents or broken homes. I think I was the only kid who missed curfew because she was trying to help her friend solve a life problem. I was that child who did not fear my grandmother’s friend who would have elaborate manic episodes yelling and threatening in church. I just knew she was the nice lady who gave me a dollar for ice cream, she was a little loud, but nice to me.
I was that kid who listened to my grandmother and her friends talking about raising chickens “in the country.” I never got bored hanging out with them. I didn’t look at giving my clothes to others as charity; I just figured that someone could use this cute outfit now that I’ve outgrown it. I didn’t stare at the blind man my grandmother would pick up from the rehabilitation center on the way to church and I didn’t question why he was the only white worshipper in our African-American congregation.
I’ve never really been in fights, although with my often debilitating allergies, I was a great target to childhood bullying. Never really bullied and had great friends. During one verbal rouse with a peer, I actually remember quoting Martin Luther King Jr. and demanded that we have peace in our friendship! My mother would refer to our home as the Kool-Aid house as she recalls that my brother and I being very generous with our treats. I was the kid in high school who counseled a friend’s parents with their marital problems. I was my family’s mediator and spokesperson; a charge I think I was groomed in. My parents allowed me to express my opinion always with respect in the forefront. They raised me to have “a voice” and humored me through all of my soliloquies on why I should have certain freedoms. I was intrigued by their childhood stories of family bonding, segregation, poverty, and their grown up challenges of workplace racisms, parenting and the drive to do better than the last generation. I was the product of parents who were young. I benefited from all of their foresights and missteps and appreciated their journey and the journeys before them.
With all those thoughts circling my head, I thought to myself, “I’m becoming a social worker” I realized I was becoming something that I didn’t know existed.
The next day I headed to the registrar’s office and declared my new dual major. The academic knowledge poured into my skin and I was a willing and happy recipient. My social work classes gave me room to question the world, with its issues and its hypocrisies. My professors welcomed the challenge and my mind would swirl with excitement. I would spend moments sharing my new found knowledge with my girlfriends and since I am a long-winded storyteller, I prayed for their patience with me while I spoke of my events as a social work intern a state psychiatric hospital.
The most difficult challenge was trying to explain what social work is and how it would benefit me. This persisted through graduate school and even still today, some in my family call me a psychologist, shrink or more than a social worker or a nurse. Admittedly, I would hid my field and refer to myself as a psychotherapist; it was more recognizable and easier to explain.
As I mature and as I appreciate my history and myself, I proudly admit that I am a social worker. It took a lot of education and experience to reach this place. No longer will I discount my efforts, my success and my ambition by trying to please others view of what I do. I am social worker. As a matter of fact, I am Some Social Worker!Learn More
You’re doing it again, aren’t you? They are so pleased to see you. You make everyone feel better. You’re the team player who lets everyone shine. Everyone comes to you to solve the problem and to be available and, for the most part, you always achieve that goal. That twinkle in your eye and that pep in your step lets everyone know that you’ve got it right; you’re a winner and such a nice person. Is this you? Is it happening again? Do you get those messages in your head that build you up and lets you know that you must always be there for others? Forget that you’re tired, forget that you haven’t done anything for yourself in so long. You are the master of everyone’s universe. You don’t give to receive. It is your role at work, at home, with friends to never get what you want.
In my opinion, slothfulness gets a bad rep. It’s the name of an animal that moves kind of slothfully and is defined by humans as laziness that ranges on the scale from resisting work to practicing a deadly sin. However, it’s defined, that sloth is not a pleasing characteristic.
But, I would like to argue that the state and art of sloth have its appropriate place in society.Learn More
The magical joy of getting an album putting it on the record player and listening to new music over and over again while staring at the album cover. While the music is playing, the soul of the artist seeps in and the lyrics play like a movie. The scenery is set and there is bated breath waiting for the crescendo and denouement.
Music is influential and in my case, it helped shape a career.
In France, a skinny man died of a BIG disease with a little name. By chance his girlfriend came across a needle and soon she did the same. At home there are 17-year-old boys and their idea of fun Is being in a gang called The Disciples High on crack and totin’ a machine gun
Hurricane Annie ripped the ceiling of a church and killed everyone inside
U turn on the telly and every other story is tellin’ U somebody died A sister killed her baby cuz she couldn’t afford 2 feed it And yet we’re sending people 2 the moon In September, my cousin tried reefer 4 the very first time Now he’s doing horse – it’s June
It’s silly, no? When a rocket ship explodes and everybody still wants 2 fly But some say a man ain’t happy unless a man truly dies Oh why?
Baby make a speech, Star Wars fly Neighbors just shine it on But if a night falls and a bomb falls Will anybody see The Dawn?
Prince Sign of the Times © 1987 Paisley Park Records
Is he black or white is he straight or gay?
Mommy, why does everybody have a bomb?
Money don’t matter tonight. It sure didn’t matter yesterday. Just when you think you’ve got more that enough, that’s when it all flies away.
In France a man died of big disease with a little name?
The beautiful ones, they hurt you everytime.
Paint a perfect picture
Bring 2 life a vision in one’s mind
beautiful ones always smash the picture
Always, every time
Honey, I know, I know, I know times are changin’
It’s time we all reach out
4 something new, that means U 2
U say U want a leader, but U can’t seem 2 make up your mind
I think U better close it and let me guide U 2 the purple
How could U just leave me standing Alone in a world so cold? (World so cold) Maybe I’m just 2 demanding Maybe I’m just like my father – 2 bold
Maybe U’re just like my mother She’s never satisfied (She’s never satisfied) Why do we scream at each other? This is what it sounds like when doves cry
He used 2 say so strong unafraid 2 die Unafraid of the death that left me hypnotized No, staring at his picture I realized No one could cry the way my Tracy cried
Sometimes it snows in April Sometimes I feel so bad Sometimes, sometimes I wish that life was never ending And all good things, they say, never last
Money don’t matter 2night It sure didn’t matter yesterday Just when U think U’ve got more than enough That’s when it all up and flies away
That’s when U find out that U’re better off Makin’ sure your soul’s alright Cuz money didn’t matter yesterday And it sure don’t matter 2night
Black day, stormy night No love, no hope in sight Don’t cry, He is coming Don’t die without knowing the Cross
Ghettos 2 the left of us Flowers 2 the right There’ll be bread 4 all of us If we can just bear the Cross
So what is the answer 2 the question of U? What do I look 4? What shall I do? Which way do I turn when I’m feeling lost? If I sell my soul, now what will it cost? Must I become naked – no image at all? Shall I remain upright or get down and crawl? All of the questions in my life will be answered When I decide which road 2 choose What is the answer 2 the question of U?