Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Because We All Need Parents

Today I had the privilege to attend a conference about achieving permanency for older youth in care.  For my non-social worker friends that basically means finding parents or forever families for older youth in the foster care system before (or even after) they age out of the system at 18 or 21 (depending on where you live).  As a professional there were a lot of great takeaways on how to be more creative in this area of my job. But just as a fellow human being my biggest takeaway was that we all need parents. No matter how old we are. 

I'm 25 years old and I call my mom almost every morning. Sure I could say that I do this for her benefit. Citing that my siblings and I have all left home and my dad travels so I should check in on her.  I could say that it's my duty as her child to call and let her know I'm doing well and being a productive member of society (most days). In reality though, that phone call is for me.  That phone call is about me knowing that someone is there to answer it.  Someone wants to know how I'm doing.  Someone cares if I had a great day. Someone cares if my car got towed.  Someone cares if I I have a funny story to share. Someone cares if I slipped on my stairs in my night gown and flashed parking enforcement as I tried to beat them to my car on a rainy day. Someone Cares. And we all need to know that someone loves us and cares for us unconditionally. That doesn't stop with age.  There's no magic age we reach when we no longer need the love of another person.  There's no magic age when family and lifelong connections become unimportant.  So whether we're 5, 12, 18, 21 or 55 we all need someone to pick up that phone when we call.   

You can be that phone call.  The idea of fostering or adopting a teen seems daunting.  Teens and young adults, especially those in foster care, come with a lot of what we like to call "baggage".  But they also come with so much to give and share. So much that they're bursting at the seams to share it if anyone would ask for it.  Have you ever wanted to make a difference in someone's life? What about making a difference in one person's life that translates into changing multiple lives? Because if you change the life of a child you change the lives of their children and their grandchildren.  You can change the course of history for a family for generations to come by investing your time and love into one individual.  What a powerful way to impact the world.

A presenter at today's conference shared this well known quote:  

One hundred years from now,
It won't matter what car I drove,
What kind of house I lived in,
How much I had in my bank account,
Nor what my clothes looked like,
But, the world may be a little better
Because I was important in the life of a child.

In times of joy or crisis, who is the first person you call? Who is the second?  What if you kept calling but no one answered? What if there was no one to call? Consider being the person who cares. Consider being a permanent family member for a teen or older youth. Consider changing their world. Consider changing yours. 


Monday, March 25, 2013

Teaching Bible Class with Gymnastics

On Wednesday nights I help teach the 4 and 5 year olds in bible class at my church. My friend Emily does most of the teaching this quarter and I've been assisting her. Last Wednesday night she was teaching the story of Doubting Thomas. While these kids are exceptionally bright it is not easy to convey the meaning of the word doubt to 4 and 5 year olds.

To illustrate Thomas' doubt, Emily asked the class "If Miss Molly told you she could fly, would you believe her?" She quickly realized this wasn't the best example and then asked me, "Miss Molly, what's something you can do that we wouldn't believe?" I took a quick mental catalog of my innumerable hidden talents and for some reason "a headstand" is what came out of my mouth. Emily asked the class if they thought I could do a headstand and much to my dismay they answered with a resounding "No". What? Don't these kids know I took all of 3 months worth of gymnastics classes when I was 6? Don't they know I was Daddy's little gymnast? So that hurt my pride a little, but I was happy to see that they were starting to grasp the definition of doubt.

As fate would have it I was in a dress that night and not able to demonstrate my abilities. I promised to wear pants on the following Wednesday so as to dazzle them with my skills. Which works out perfectly because Thomas had to wait a week to see Jesus after the disciples told him of his resurrection. The only potential flaw in this plan comes if I am unable to actually do a headstand this Wednesday. It's been a while since I've tried. I guess I better start practicing. It wouldn't do to lie to the children. Why couldn't I have said something like "eat an entire box of girl scout cookies in one sitting"? That would have been much more fun to prove.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Cadbury Bunny Sits on a Throne of Lies

A random blog post about Easter and turning 25. 

First, Easter is evil. 

It is a conspiracy between the fashion world and candy makers. Here are the facts: From the beginning of March until Easter arrives, these two industries prey upon our weaknesses. These weaknesses being our desire for Spring after a long, cold winter and a love of Reese's Easter Eggs. While shoving delicious chocolate in our faces they convince us that we need a new outfit for Easter and other spring wardrobe items. We buy the delicious candy "for Easter" that seems to be in every aisle of the store. Then we have "just a few" until it's all gone. Purchase, eat, repeat for almost the entire month of March.

At the same time we're picking out our new Spring clothes and Easter dresses. Then, just as Easter rolls around all that candy comes back to haunt us and we no longer fit into our new Easter clothes. So we have to rush out and buy something else that doesn't hug our extra fluffy bunny tail quite so much. Which as we know makes us feel bad. And what do we do to feel better? Eat more Easter candy. Especially afterwards when it's on sale. This is the Easter conspiracy. Also known as my absence of self control. 

That concludes the conspiracy, ranty portion of this post. Now, on to the benefits of my latest birthday. 

Happy birthday to me! I turned 25 last week. Quarter of a century. It's kind of a big birthday that comes with a few perks. Here are the top 5 perks of turning 25.

1) I am no longer considered a "youth" by the Federal Government. Which means I no longer qualify for the programs that my clients participate in. A little separation and boundary enforcement is always good for the social work profession.

2) I can rent a car! If you're looking to plan a weekend get away, I'm your girl. My AAA discount and I would love to go exploring with you.

3) I have another year left on my parents' insurance. Maybe that means I'm not fully independent but I don't care. Thanks to federal law and my dad that's one less deduction from my little pay check. 

4) My frontal lobe is fully developed (supposedly). I'm actually still trying to figure out if this is a perk or not. I guess it will keep me from getting that tattoo I've been considering and I'll be happy about that when I'm half a century old. 

and 5) I got another year older! God has blessed me with 24 good years and I'm prayerful 25 will be just as wonderful. 

Happy almost Spring y'all! Enjoy some delicious Easter candy. In moderation of course. We can't let them win! 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

But My Only Math Credit was in Word Problems

I am a person of varying interest. This makes it hard for me to find "my passion". I've been told that finding what I am most passionate about will lead me down the right career path. Sounds great! The problem is I'm a privileged, educated female in my mid-20's who has only been a social worker for about 6 months. In other words I haven't had time to become jaded yet, am still slightly idealistic, and become passionate about almost anything that interests me. My brother would also classify me as an bleeding heart liberal but he's wrong and that's a whole other discussion ;-)

My latest interest comes from a combination of watching the West Wing and a past crush on a former econ professor who got closer than anyone else in convincing me that numbers aren't hard or scary. 

*Side note: I'm a little more than 10 years late to the party but the West Wing is a phenomenal show. If you have Netflix I highly suggest watching the series. Granted I'm only halfway through the first season but I'm a full on senior staffers junkie. Also, the Christmas episode made me cry and I'm someone who only cries about once a year. So yeah*

Back to the story. On the West Wing Martin Sheen's character, President Bartlet, is a Nobel prize winner in economics. Aside from me simply loving his character, I find the economics dialogue fascinating. Yes, I fully understand that it's a television show and probably half of it is not factual. However, it made me think back to the only econ class I ever took in college. Economics and Society with Professor Allen Ryan. Economics and Society was econ for non business majors. Or econ for people majoring in social sciences who are scared of words like math and statistics. Anywho, I professor crushed hard on Mr. Ryan because he was smart, witty and made me like economics. 

All this to say it renewed my interest in econ and how it could be paired with social work to lead me further down this road of professional self discovery. So naturally I started googling (seriously spell check? That not a word yet? I'm even using Google Chrome to write this) everything about economics and social work and making grand plans to start taking online classes this summer. Then I remembered that not all economics courses are taught by Mr. Ryan and numbers are indeed hard and scary. There's also the fact that I can barely pronounce statistics correctly, let alone understand them. The only math credit I earned in undergrad was Finite Math. Basically I got a math credit in word problems. So here's a word problem to ponder:

Question:  If Molly has 2 degrees which she hasn't yet finished paying for and idiotically starts researching a third, what does Molly have? 

Answer:  Molly has a mental disorder that she should have been able to diagnose with her masters in social work. Furthermore, Molly should stop going off on crazy tangents and get some rest.

Finding your passion is tough kids. Paying for your passion is even tougher. I guess I can take comfort in the fact that I'm likely to have another late night revelation within a few months that will lead me to discover yet something else to be passionate about. Perhaps I should start watching Star Trek after West Wing and see what social ills I want to solve for deep space. 

What about you? Have any of you found your true passion professionally? Is it idealistic and naive to believe that I will someday?