Sunday, November 13, 2011

S for Self-Care

Once again it would seem I’ve neglected the blog. Poor, poor blog. Good thing we have the relationship we do, you and I. You get me. You understand that, even when I’m busy, I don’t forget about you.

In order to ease gently into posting after such a long absence, I’m just going to give a quick recap of my first term (8 weeks) of social work school.

We learned about self-care. It was one of the most important things we learned. It’s absolutely essential in a profession like social work, which tends to involve work that is often thankless, frustrating, emotionally exhausting, and a myriad of other not exactly pleasant adjectives. It’s hard to believe I can’t wait to join the profession, isn’t it! ;-) I’ve worked on exercising good self-care by returning to knitting, which I absolutely love. I’ve probably over exercised self-care in that I’ve sometimes placed priority on knitting over homework. OOPS!!!

I’ve dabbled in running again. Musicman and I are signed up to do the Turkey Day 5k in Minneapolis on Thanksgiving morning. It remains to be seen whether I’ll walk or run it. I will likely do a combination of the two with more of the former and less of the latter. I just might not be cut out to be a runner in any way, shape, or form, but I’m not quite ready to give up completely. I've moved to interval training, which seems to be working pretty well. I'm currently doing 30 second runs with one minute walks. My goal is to increase the running and decrease the walking, but with my asthma, I just might need to remain at these intervals for a while and that's ok.

I need to keep doing whatever it is I’ve done this first 8 weeks, because I did veeeeeery well. My streak of A’s continues. 4.0 GPA, baby! I doubt this will last, but I’m going to enjoy it while I can.

I’ve developed some great friendships with members of my cohort and truly see some of these people turning into lifelong friends. Half the class went out for drinks on our last Thursday of the first 8 week term, and though I regretted the next day how late I’d stayed out, I was too ecstatic over having bonded with some of my classmates to care about how tired I was.

Every one of my four instructors has given high compliments on my writing, which just means the world to me. I’ve done a very good job of working on being concise, but I still have a ways to go. Of course, just when I got used to writing short papers, we’re assigned longer ones. I think I have three or four 10-15 page papers due by the end of this term. Fun stuff!

I do not like the advisor of the social work program, who also happens to be the instructor of the general practice class I’m currently taking. She sucks at communication. She provides no guidance and is often unclear in her expectations. (I know, I know…welcome to social work!)  Class time with her is all about what a great social worker she was (is?), and none of us feel as though we’ve really learned all that much.

Also, she’s supposed to be working out some credit transfer issues for me, which she assured me would be done by the end of the fall semester, but we’re now halfway through and there’s been no progress. Needless to say, I’ve lost trust in her and I don’t have much respect for her at this point. If the credit issue doesn’t get figured out soon, my ability to pay for the rest of the program (i.e. financial aid) could be in jeopardy. I am not pleased.

I had a really uncomfortable and difficult conversation with my boss about eventually moving to part-time at work. I explained that field practice starts in March and that I can’t do 25 hours a week in internship and 40 hours a week at work. The reality that I will be leaving here someday hit him hard. That reality also hit me a lot harder than I thought it would. I just celebrated 14 years with the company...I’ve basically grown up there; it’s really all I know. It’s hard to believe that I will be leaving within the next couple years.

I’m hoping BossMan decides he wants to work with me on this, and thus will keep me around on a part-time basis. I made it clear that, if this wasn’t possible, the only alternative was for me to leave. Now I wait…not only to find out what his decision will be but also to find out where I’ll go for my first field placement and all that’s involved with that.

I’m scared. I have had a job and my own source of income since I was 13, so the prospect of being jobless and having no income makes me almost physically ill. However, I have to do what’s best for me. I am fortunate to have the love and support of my amazing husband and am trying not to worry too much. Things will work out. It might not all go exactly as I’ve planned, but I’ll find a way to make it all work. There’s an exciting journey ahead; that’s for sure!

Creative Commons License

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

C for Cohort

Hello, lovely reader! I’ve written before about the importance of a support system for adult students (and, really, any student for that matter). Much of what I wrote there still stands. In fact, the further I’ve gotten along in school, the more I realize just how necessary a good support system truly is. Sadly, I seem to have lost quite a bit of that support along the way as friends and family members seemingly all decided I’m entirely too busy to be bothered with (which is what they tell themselves, I’m sure, to feel better), but more accurately to bother with.

It seems everyone just thinks, “Elle’s too busy with school” without actually asking me if that’s the case. It’s frustrating. And while, yes, there have been quite a few times that I’ve said no to invitations, I don’t think it justifies writing me off forever. It’s frustrating, and frankly, hurts a little bit; especially when I consider how much support I’ve provided to individuals I suddenly find have abandoned me. I mean, really, how hard is it to send the occasional “How are you?” email or text?!

On the other hand, I truly don’t have a lot of free time. And while I feel badly about that, I also feel as though I’ve tried to prepare people’s expectations, and I’d hope that truly supportive friends and family members would understand that I’m never too busy for a quick chat here or there or a few emails or texts back and forth. I’m thankful for the few who do understand that.

I guess, despite my best attempts at explanations, a lot of people don’t understand just how much work it is to be an adult student who works full time and has a family of her own. I never thought it would be such a lonely and isolating experience. I am, fortunately, now involved with a group of people who do understand and can relate: My cohort—errrrm—learning community.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before, but the social work program I’m in is setup as a cohort model, which means we progress through the program together as a group. Unlike community college, where I had a new set of classmates for each class, I’ll be with the same group the whole way through social work school. I’ve only been in a school for a few weeks now, but I can already tell that the learning community concept can be both good and bad. I think it will be mostly good though.

I can definitely see the potential for lifelong friendships to form based on the fact that we’re all in the trenches together. Who better to provide support and lend an ear than those who are actually in the same position as you are? And, of course, it’s advantageous for a social worker to remain connected to other social workers for educational and networking purposes, and we all have that network built for us already. It’s just up to us to maintain it beyond school.

We’ve really lucked out, because there are three men in our learning community, which means both the female and male perspectives are represented. This is unusual, since it seems men don’t often choose social work as a profession. Our program coordinator told us it’s been a while since they’ve had a cohort, or learning community, that has included even one man. So, it’s pretty great that we get that male perspective. I, for one, am grateful for it.

So far I find my learning community, which is comprised of about sixteen students, to be a fascinating mix of individuals. Introductions have been interesting, and I’ve already learned a lot from, and shared a lot with, my classmates. We bring varied life experiences, ideals, and goals to the table, which provides for lively and interesting conversation and is a great opportunity to hear thoughts and perspectives different from my own. I already feel a sense of camaraderie with the group—there’s a good vibe—and I only hope that continues to grow.

Of course, the learning community model is not without its problems. You know how we all have those types we just don’t mesh with? (Be honest, lovely reader…if there’s anything I’ve learned from blogging and life in general it’s that none of us exists in a vacuum. Meaning, even when I think no one gets it or I’m the only one who feels something, I’m usually not.) Well, there’s a classmate or two I don’t see myself ever really meshing well with. That doesn’t mean there’s anything particularly wrong with these individuals, of course. It just means that, for one reason or another, they rub me the wrong way.

Now, combine the minor annoyance caused by those individuals you don’t really see eye to eye with, the fact that you’ve had a looooooooooong (and maybe wee bit stressful) day at work and want nothing more than to go home and curl up on the couch with a fun book or mindless movie, and you’re tired but facing four hours of class, and you’ve kinda got a recipe for disaster. Well, maybe not disaster per se. That might be a little dramatic. But, definitely, a bit of unpleasantness. But this is life. You take the bad with the good.

Right now, I’m choosing to see this one downfall as an opportunity to learn how to work with those people who just aren’t on the same page, or even in the same book, as me. I have to deal with it a little bit already in the working world, so it's really no different I suppose. Yay for learning character building opportunities!

Give me your thoughts, lovely reader. How do you deal with those you don't exactly see eye to eye with or whose personalities perhaps just rub you the wrong way?

Creative Commons License

Friday, September 16, 2011

V for Verbose (B for Bad)

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you already know that I tend to err on the side of being verbose. I like words. A lot! And, I like using words to paint very detailed, very vivid pictures. I try to be concise and to contain my thoughts. But once I start writing, my mind speeds off into a thousand directions, and my fingers fly along the keyboard as I try to keep up with my thoughts. It has become apparent that this is a quality that will not exactly benefit me in social work school.

Of the two papers I’ve received back so far, the only “negative” feedback I’ve gotten is basically that my papers need to be shorter. The assignments have been to write three page papers (typed, double spaced, which really isn’t that much when you think about it), and the papers I’ve submitted have been 4-6 pages in length. I’ve officially been confronted with my first real challenge so far in social work school, and it is not at all what I expected it would be!

You see, when I wrote papers in community college, the instructors usually set the page limits as a minimum. It was implied that one should feel more than welcome to go beyond that, if need be, and I almost always did. Heck! For the sociology assignment I did this past summer, I was to write 10 two page papers, and even though I didn't want to write those papers, each of those turned out to be in the 3-6 page range. Clearly, I don’t have a problem expressing myself. However I apparently do have a problem doing it in a succinct manner. This is obviously something I’ll need to work on.

If I’m being honest, it hurts my soul just a little bit. I feel stifled and constricted, as though wrapped in a turtleneck three sizes too small but with an extra long neck that goes up over my head. I honestly nearly cried last night when I read the instructor’s note on the last page of my paper: “The only feedback I really have is pay attention to page length.” That paper was only four pages. I only went over by one, and really it wasn't even a whole page (more like a paragraph, really)!

I just can’t get this to make sense, especially considering that these papers are to be reflective in nature. Last week, I had to read three chapters for this particular class and then write a reflective paper on what I learned. So, what you’re telling me is, out of over 100 pages of reading, I’m supposed to grab on to just one idea (maybe two ideas) and write a very quick, only surface level reflection? Well, what’s the point of that?! If I’m reflecting, I’m baring my entire soul. I have nothing to hide. Also, some of the stuff we're reading is so interesting and inspiring that it's hard not to find half a dozen to a dozen passages that really resonate with you.

I guess I’ll have to learn to rein it in a bit and to reflect a little less. This week’s Learning Moment paper assignment clearly states at the top: “This should not be more than 2 pages long.” But…(lip quivering)…but…(small tear)…BUT there are three questions to answer! Annnnnnd the first one has three parts to it. I die!!

I suppose this isn’t all bad. (That’s called reframing.) My soul won’t be completely asphyxiated. I still have this blog, and I still have you, lovely reader. It has now become more a priority for me than ever to blog on a regular basis. I need this outlet. In fact, I already have two or three post ideas I've jotted down in the past week alone. I look forward to interacting with you more as I share with you on a more regular basis.

What say you, lovely reader? Do you have any advice on how I can be more concise?

Creative Commons License

Sunday, September 11, 2011

S for School Daze

Well, lovely reader, social work school has started. The program coordinator and other school staff weren’t kidding when they said this was an accelerated program. I went to orientation a couple weeks before classes even started and came home with assignments that were due the first day of class! I had four chapters to read and two papers (thankfully smaller ones at three pages each) to write as well as a worksheet to complete.

This is a snapshot of my homework assignments that are due next week: (Thanks, google calendar, for the awesome ability to make many different color-coded calendars and to view them in an agenda view!)

I’ll translate it for you. That’s nine (9!) chapters of reading. Two papers—Learning Moment #2 and Reflection Paper 1—that are to be a minimum of three pages each (typed in 12 pt. font, double-spaced, with one inch margins) with two cited sources in APA format and an APA formatted reference page. And, finally, two smaller writing assignments: Policy Article involves searching for an article on social policy and writing up a paragraph that includes a summary of the article and my opinion on it, and TD 1 is a response to a discussion board question that needs to be a paragraph to a page in length. (The latter is practice for future weekly discussion board threads in which we’ll be expected to post a paragraph to a page of writing in response to a discussion question posted by the instructor as well as writing a few responses to classmate’s posts.)

I have to do the reading assignments for each class in order to be able to write the necessary papers, because the papers need to include material from the recent assigned readings and my reactions to it or my reflections on particular topics in the texts. I’ll need to complete readings related to TD (threaded discussions) within a day or two before class in order to have time to engage in the discussions, which are to be completed by 11 PM the evening of class.

I work 8-5 Monday through Friday and attend classes from 5:30-9:30 on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. This leaves lunch hours Monday-Friday, Monday and Wednesday evenings, and weekends for homework. I am fortunate to have the ability to read pretty quickly, but I’m still incredibly overwhelmed at the moment. My schedule for the upcoming weeks looks similar, and in some cases worse, because there are also larger projects due in each of the four classes sometime within the semester. Project work will have to be worked into the “regular” schedule somehow.

I’m trying to wrap my head around how I’m going to space out all of this work each week. I’m sure I’ll figure something out soon. * PITY PARTY STARTING NOW * But right now, I’m imaging my weekends being majorly sucky as I work to complete most, if not all, of my homework each weekend while Musicman and the dogs do fun things like go on walks outside and enjoy the beautiful autumn weather that is on its way to Minnesota. Though I will be home with Musicman and the dogs on Monday and Wednesday evenings and on the weekends, I don’t anticipate spending much quality time together. * END PITY PARTY *

Depending on whether or not I can find a way to juggle this workload*, I might just end up having to cut my hours at work down to part-time (if they’ll let me). I was just starting to get used to the idea that I’d have to do this in a couple semesters in order to accommodate my first field placement (internship), so I’m not quite ready to give up half of my paycheck (and paid time off) just yet. I’m hoping that I’ll still be able to work part time through my second field placement, but due to the amount of hours required, it looks doubtful. I’m not ready to quit my job. The prospect of not earning any income at all scares the crap out of me. I’ve worked since I was 16 years old. I’m also very independent and stubborn, which translates to: I like to be able to take care of myself financially. I am having reeeeeeeallly big issues with having to go part-time and/or quit my job.

Such is life, I guess. This is what I signed up for. And, I have to keep reminding myself that it’s all going to be worth it in the end. I’m also so incredibly fortunate to have such an amazingly supportive husband. Musciman assures me that we will be fine. He has no trouble covering a larger portion of the household expenses, and he reminds me that this is only a temporary situation because I will find a job once school is over.

I’m trying not to worry, because I have enough on my mind and my plate as it is. I need to learn to take things as they come and roll with the punches. I’ve never been good at facing the unknown, so this is way out of my comfort zone, but that’s a good thing. I need to learn how to adapt to the world that resides on the other sides of the borders to my comfort. I’m going to try to be more even keeled and trusting of what the universe has in store for me.

I have to admit, despite the workload, I am so freakin’ excited to be embarking on my journey to becoming a social worker. I will post as I can in the days, weeks, and months ahead, lovely reader. I’m really going to try to take a little time to catch up with you at least weekly.

* It reeeeeeeeeally doesn't help that I've recently discovered the amazing time suck that is Pinterest! LOVING IT! 

At the time of posting this (it was written a few days ago, but was waiting to be edited and posted), I have finished 2/3 of the reading. I plan to start the Learning Moment paper this afternoon and to finish up the three chapters of reading I have left. That will give me Monday through Thursday to complete the smaller writing assignments and the Reflection paper. I'm feeling really good about my progress!


P.S. I know that no body likes a braggart, but I feel the need to tell you that, despite all the stress, I've remained smoke free. I haven't had a cigarette--not even a puff--for a little over 8 months!!! I've also stayed committed to Weight Watchers Points Plus Plan, and my work is paying off. I've lost over 30 pounds!!! Now, if only I could find some time to work some activity--even just walking--into my day, I'd be all set.

Creative Commons License

Friday, August 26, 2011

P for Pug Life

Our Pug, Dexter, has had a rough couple of weeks.This really sucks, because the poor little guy has had a hard enough life. We adopted Dexter two years ago from the Minnesota Pug Rescue. They couldn’t tell us how old he was, because he was a former puppy mill dog, but best estimates put him at about a year and a half. Puppy mills are not nice places (this is a HUGE GIGANTIC understatement), so the first year or so of Dexter’s life were filled with abuse and neglect, culminating in him and his sister being left in a large garbage can outside of a humane society. They were thankfully found and eventually ended up being placed with Minnesota Pug Rescue.

Dexter’s former life had obvious effects on his personality and demeanor. When we first met him, he wouldn’t let us near him because he didn’t trust strangers. Of course, given his past, this was totally understandable. He was skittish, flinched at the slightest movement, and spent his first week at our house curled up in the corner of our sectional couch where he could watch everything around him and no one could sneak up from behind. We’d have to be really careful trying to pet him, because if you approached from anywhere near his head, he flinched and dove to the ground in a seemingly uncontrollable reflex response. In addition to trying to gain his trust, we also had to try to potty train him. This was no easy task.

He has changed by leaps and bounds since joining our family. He’s a much more confident, happy, and all around good dog. Words cannot express how much love we have for this silly little dog. The tough road we’ve all traveled since taking him in has bonded us as a family. That’s why the past couple weeks have been so devastating…

It started with his feet. He would NOT stop licking his feet. We thought that his paws might just be dried out as a result of the soap daycare used for his bath perhaps not being fully rinsed away. When a good cleaning and rinsing of his feet and the application of puppy moisturizer didn’t help, and he escalated to chewing his paws, we knew it was time to go to the vet. Musicman made the appointment, and since he gets off of work earlier than I do, he brought him in.

The night before the appointment, I reminded Musicman to have the vet look at the bump on Dexter’s neck. For about a month now, he’d had a bump that started out looking like an ingrown hair but had grown to the size of a large wart or cyst. We’d decided that, since it didn’t seem to cause pain or problem, we’d have it looked at the next time Dexter needed a vet visit. That time had come.

I beat Musicman and Dexter home the day of the appointment, so Lucy and I sat and waited for them to return. When I’d gotten home, Lucy’s mad and persistent barking let me know that she was not at all thrilled that daddy had brought brother somewhere and left her home alone. I had just gotten her calmed down when we heard the car pull into the garage. I was shocked when Dexter came running into the house with a giant plastic cone around his head and neck!

Musicman informed me that Dexter’s paws were infected. As a result, he would be on antibiotics for 10 days, the cone would need to stay on for the duration to prevent further licking, and we’d have to soak his paws in a Betadine solution for five minutes every night. Poor pug! (We went out a few days later and got him an inflatable collar in lieu of the cone. He now looked as though he were prepared for a shipwreck.)

Then, Musicman broke the really bad news to me....

The doctor was pretty sure the lump on Dexter’s neck was a tumor. The needle aspiration they’d done at the office during the appointment caused her to think it should be removed as soon as possible. After removal, they would send it out for a pathology report to determine whether or not it was cancerous. If it was, we’d have to discuss treatment options. The vet said radiation wasn’t a good idea for dogs of Dexter’s size, because little dogs don’t seem to handle it well at all. However, she seemed quite positive that, even if the tumor was cancerous, the surgery would take care of the problem.

We were devastated. How could our poor little dog have cancer? He’d had a hard enough life! This was the last thing he deserved! After getting over the shock and crying for our poor little Pug, we agreed that we’d spend the $400 for surgery. Of course that meant we wouldn’t be going camping, or going to the Minnesota State Fair, or doing a few of the other fun things we’d hoped to do with the few weeks I had off this summer, but that $400 was a small price to pay to possibly prolong our little boy’s life.

We scheduled the appointment for last Friday. We both took last Friday off of work in order to drop Dexter off for his surgery; we both knew we’d be too worried to be able to focus on anything at work. I cried as we got ready to leave the house. Dexter seemed to know something was up as he was extra cuddly. By the time we got to the vet’s office, I was a complete mess.

I felt like a horrible puppy mom and awful wife as I told Musicman I’d wait in the car with Lucy while he brought Dexter into the clinic. I knew I just couldn’t handle leaving my little guy there. Our family short one member, we dropped Lucy off at daycare so that she could run out her energy for the day. A tired dog is a happy dog, and the exhaustion she experiences after a day at daycare would prevent her from bothering Dexter that evening as he tried to recover.

Musicman and I went to breakfast and then spent the day at the Minnesota Zoo, reliving our second date, as we tried to keep our minds from wandering into negative “what ifs.” We did end up having a really fantastic day. We were relieved when we finally got the call from the vet that the surgery had gone well. She warned Musicman that they’d removed a wide margin around the tumor, so we should be prepared that Dexter’s neck might look worse than we’d imagined when we picked him up later in the evening.

She wasn’t kidding! When we were finally able to pick up our little buddy, we were stunned by what we saw. This is how he looked the next day:

They shave almost his whole neck!!

The vet gave us pain pills for the next few days, told us she’d call us when she had the pathology results, and had us setup an appointment two weeks out to have Dexter’s stitches removed. As we drove home, all Dexter did was cry. It was so pitiful and so sad, because we didn’t know exactly why he was crying. Was he starving after having not eaten for almost 24 hours? Was he in pain? Was he just out of it? We assumed it was a combination of all three. Thankfully, once we got home and gave him a couple treats and some water, he calmed down and cuddled up for a nap:

Musicman got the call on Tuesday, our third wedding anniversary, that the pathology results were back. I was at orientation for St. Scholastica (happy anniversary to us!), so unfortunately Musicman had to hold on to the news until I got home at 9:30 that evening. The report indicated that the mast cell tumor was cancerous. However, we had fortunately caught it early; it was Stage 1 cancer. The news wasn’t all bad. The doctor had taken a really wide margin and the marginal tissues showed no cancer cells, meaning it hadn’t spread. This means they got it all with the surgery!!!

Though we still have a week to go before his stitches are removed, Dexter seems as though he’s back to normal. He’s gonna have one heckuva badass scar! We joke that this will make him look way tougher. Next time he goes to daycare, he can tell the other dogs that he was shot or stabbed in a knife fight, because that’s PUG LIFE. (Get it? It’s a play on thug life. Yep….we’re totally those crazy dog people.)

The vet warned us that there is a chance that Dexter could get another tumor sometime in the future, so we should keep a close eye on him. However, for now at least, our little Pug is cancer free and we are incredibly thankful and happy! We’re going to continue on as though we have a perfectly health dog, because we do now. And, of course, we’re going to continue to spoil the heck out of both of our dogs and enjoy every single moment we are fortunate enough to have with them.
Creative Commons License

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

B for Back in the Saddle

Hello, lovely reader!! Once again, it’s been a while. I’m hoping this fall, once my school schedule is more stable and predictable, that I’ll be able to have a more stable and predictable blogging schedule as well. And maybe—just maybe—I’ll actually get some readers back and/or will attract more readers.

As you can already tell based on the fact that I have written this post that you are now reading, I survived summer semester. Just barely. It was the most difficult semester I think I’ve ever had, which is saying a lot. I was cursing myself for saving two Prior Learning Assessments (PLAs) until last. What on Earth was I thinking attempting to do two PLAs in one semester?!?! Obviously, I wasn’t. Thinking, that is. Had I actually been thinking I’d have realized how emotionally draining the Death and Dying papers would be and I’d have given myself plenty of time to work on them while allowing for breaks.

I didn’t anticipate just how much I’d drag my feet on these assignments either. I’m usually pretty good about getting myself out of my procrastination mode with a little positive self-talk, but it just wasn’t working this time around. Nope. I dug my heels in. Hard. I did not want to analyze or rethink my personal experiences with death. Especially the “significant” experiences the instructor requested we write about. I wanted my most significant experience to stay right where it was; locked up safely in my head. I waited so long to get started that it became clear that there was a distinct possibility that I wouldn’t finish on time.

Before I’d even started, I’d given up. Instead of working hard to complete the papers I needed to write, I started thinking about what my advisor at St. Scholastica would say to my request to delay starting their program until next fall. Was that even a possibility? I had already been accepted, so surely I could delay my start date without having to reapply. I rationalized that I could spend the fall doing Death and Dying, spring semester doing that ten paper Family and Society PLA (which I hadn’t started at this point either), and summer semester doing the fine arts class I’d still need because I had dropped my music class this summer (there was no chance I’d be able to keep up when I was now panicking because I hadn’t started either of the two PLAs). I had a plan. It wasn’t a good one, but it was a plan.

I battled with myself. I screamed at myself (in my head only, of course) that I at least needed to try to finish the PLAs on time. What if I could do it? There was still time. The final papers I turned in wouldn’t be my best work, of course, but I could at least turn something in. It wasn’t worth setting me back a whole year. Besides, when I’d taken that very first course that explained the process of PLAs, they’d said you basically had to work hard to fail them. In other words, it’s almost impossible to fail them if you hand something in on time.

Words cannot express how physically and emotionally exhausting it was to complete the assignments. I ended up using up vacation days at work in order to stay home to write in the hopes that I’d finish the papers on time. THAT’S how long I procrastinated, lovely reader. I’m not proud of it. I hope I learned from it and that such a thing will never happen again. It's just that I was in such a funk that I literally ceased all forward motion. I just could not get started.

I somehow managed to get the Death and Dying project done with hours to spare. And then? I found out they moved the meeting time out a day, which meant I actually got it done with hours and a day to spare. It was not my best work; nowhere near it, in fact. But, it was done.

Though the Family and Society assignment seemed even more daunting, what with ten papers to write, I expected the papers to be easy. I’d done four or five of the same style of papers for this same instructor in the sociology class I took last summer, so I was familiar with the format she expected. Also, each paper only had to be two to four pages. I could do this. Except…

I didn’t anticipate how draining these papers would be either. I had to think a lot about my past. I had to deal with a lot of stuff that came up. I had to write about my dysfunctional childhood, which led to me being a dysfunctional teenager/young adult, which led to entering into bad relationships in which I was abused. It was not fun stuff to think about or relive. I don’t like drudging up the past. I’d moved on with my life and was done with the past. I am a totally different person now. A survivor in a lot of ways. I didn’t want to think critically to apply sociological theories to my life. Panic mode set in again. And, once again, I ended up having to use up a vacation day at work in order to stay home and finish up the assignment.

I did end up passing both PLAs. I am now done with Community College. (Kinda. I’m two courses short, but I’m taking them as part of my bachelor’s program and transferring credits back to Community College in order to get credit for completing my associate’s degree.) I’m ready to move on to the College of St. Scholastica (CSS) and the pursuit of my bachelor’s degree. Kinda.

I have come to the conclusion that I’m burnt out on school, lovely reader. I’m just ready to be done. It’s been a really long two years, and I almost can’t bear to think about the fact that I have sixteen months to a year and a half left until my bachelor’s is complete. Then, a year left to get my master’s degree, should I choose to do that. Right now, that’s looking quite unlikely. Perhaps I’ll get some work experience and take a little break from school before pursuing my master’s degree.

The only things propelling me forward at this point is (1) I already have so much money invested in school that it would be absolutely stupid to give up now, (2) the bachelor’s program will provide a much-needed change of scenery, and (3) I will finally be immersed in studying social work, which is what I have been working so hard to do.

I attended my advisement session a couple weeks ago at CSS and was disappointed to find out that, though I had completed the steps advisors at both schools told me I needed to, I’m over 20 credits short to transfer. It’s fuzzy to me how it all works, and I don’t want to get into a long-winded explanation, but it was to do with the fact that Community College accepted 16 transfer credits from the technical college I attended right out of high school. While I was under the understanding that those 16 would transfer as is to St. Scholastica, based on what the previous advisor had told me, that’s proven not to be the case. I cannot tell you how frustrated and angry I was to find this out!

I had to do a bit of footwork to try to get syllabi from old courses I took back in 1997 in order to see if St. Scholastica will accept them. The social work program coordinator is pushing hard for this to happen, but we won’t know the results for sure until towards the end of fall semester. If the school decides to accept them, great! If not, I guess I’ll have to take 20 extra credits on top of my bachelor’s degree classes. I am not pleased. At all. If they do take them, I’m wondering if I’ll have to deal with the same issue if/when I decide to complete a master’s degree. I’m certain I will. Whatever school I decide to transfer to probably won’t accept the technical college credits either, because the problem is that the technical college isn’t accredited in accordance with new standards that were implemented across the state well after I graduated from there. It’s a sucktastic nightmare. When all is said and done, I’ll likely have completed two whole associate’s degrees (including the technical college associate in applied science), which is pretty ridiculous and unnecessary.

Let this be a lesson for those of you with children. If you want to send your kids to a community or technical college, make sure that any work they do there will be transferrable to other colleges/towards a higher degree should there even be a slight possibility that your child would want to pursue a higher degree. Otherwise, you’ll have wasted a whole lot of time and money on that technical school degree if your child does decide to pursue a bachelor’s.

I hope all is well in your world, lovely reader. I look forward to sharing my journey towards a social work degree and license with you and I look forwad to interacting with you more as I setup a more regular blogging routine.
Creative Commons License

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

S for Summer Break (Already Over?!)

Two weeks wasn’t a long enough summer break. Of course, I knew it wouldn’t be. Still, I am shocked and sad and downright grumpy over just how quickly it managed to fly by. I cannot really tell you what exactly I did, because I didn’t really do anything incredibly noteworthy. The best I can recall is that I was pretty much lazy, which hindsight tells me is probably exactly what I needed. I enjoyed a few weekend naps here and there, which was lovely. Oh! I also got to read a few books for pleasure instead of learning. THAT was incredibly awesome!! I still absolutely adore my Kindle and cannot wait to return to the days of reading for pleasure and fun.

Oh, and I did a 5K on May 22 (the day before my birthday). Musicman and I did it together, and we walked most of it (due to my breathing issues and having had to abandon C25K temporarily) with sprints here and there to get through the crowd. We finished in less than an hour and were super proud of ourselves for having completed our first 5K despite the fact that we were rained on for the whole first half. I tweeted a little bit about it and ended up winning a Sketchers prize pack from Weight Watchers, which I was pretty excited about. (I have yet to receive said prize pack, and am pondering whether I should contact someone about it or be patient and wait a little longer.)

Then, I got sick. I have been in a downward spiral health wise since around my birthday, which I attributed to allergy season. It’s just gotten worse and worse, and I’ve gotten more and more lethargic, culminating in my missing the last two days of the work week last week as I battled what I’m pretty sure was a nasty sinus infection. I slept pretty much all day both of those days and still felt as though I didn’t get enough sleep. I’m slowly getting my energy back, but Minnesota is currently having a really rough allergy season, so I don’t expect to be completely back to normal anytime soon.

And I hate that. I’m frustrated at the lack of energy especially; I don’t do well with feeling tired. It just serves to make me even more grumpy and less tolerant of pretty much everything. I actually broke down crying on Sunday because I was just so sick of feeling sick and I just feel so lazy and worthless. Musicman, of course, was super supportive. He reminded me that I might also be a little burnt out considering that I’m doing the work of 2-3 people at work, I just finished a really long and trying semester at school and am now facing yet another trying semester, and I’m still working hard to be a good wife and puppy mom (and sister, daughter, daughter-in-law, aunt, etc).

When put like that, it would seem my plate is quite full. It would also seem that Musicman is an awesome and super understanding husband, which of course he is. (A quick side note: Musicman graduated from C25K yesterday. I am so super duper proud of him for completing the program! He’s still going to work on increasing his speed and distance and is thinking about when he’s going to try running his first 5K. If I’m being honest, I’m a little jealous. I should’ve been finishing the program at around this time too, but my stupid body refused to cooperate. I’m hoping to pick it up again soon.)

I should probably try to find the time to go see an allergist and maybe get on some new allergy meds, and I should get back to the doctor to talk about my asthma. But, I don’t have the time right now. I also really don’t have the patience, considering that my doctor kinda just glossed over my asthma concerns during my annual visit about a month ago. I’m especially frustrated that I made some major life changes—quitting smoking (it’s been 5 months!) and losing weight (down a little over 23 pounds!)—that should have improved my health by now, but so far, I haven’t reaped many of the benefits I was looking forward to. I’m specifically talking about the energy increase both were supposed to provide. So far, that has not happened for me, and I’m a little pissy about it.

Summer semester is in full swing and I find myself really not giving a damn. It’s my last semester at Community College, and I want to give it my all in order to leave with a 4.0 GPA, but I find myself just completely apathetic about getting anything done. I think it’s a combination of the fact that it’s my last semester, thus I already have my sight set on bigger and better things as I finally embark on the social work curriculum, and I’m just burnt out on school (and in general).

I have two competencies, Prior Learning Assessments (PLAs, which are self-directed projects), to get done and one online class that starts in the beginning of July. One PLA, the Psychology of Death and Dying, involves reading an entire textbook to familiarize myself with principles and concepts that I will use to write some papers and which will also be discussed at the meeting in the middle of July where we’re expected to hand in our work. There’s also a two part writing assignment. The first part is a “deathography” in which I must write about my significant experiences with death, applying at least 5 concepts from the textbook. The second part involves researching and responding to the ethical questions surrounding two death-related topics from a list that includes: physician-assisted suicide, capital punishment, withdrawal of life support, green funerals, stem-cell research, etc. I’m just not thrilled about this one. Death isn’t fun, and it’s certainly not entertaining. This one is just plain difficult to work on and complete.

The other, Sociology of Family and Society, involves reading ten 2-6 page essays regarding various family matters from an assigned book and writing ten 2-5 page summary/reaction papers, incorporating various sociological principles and my personal life experience into these narratives. This one shouldn’t be too hard. I had this instructor last summer for my other sociology class, so I know exactly what she expects out of these papers. I did a fine job of bullshitting my way through the four papers we had to do in that class, so I should have no trouble doing the same for these ten. It’s simply a matter of buckling down and getting it done.

Basically, I need to do lots of reading, research, and writing. I seriously don’t know why I ever thought PLAs were a good idea for a procrastinator like me. I don’t do self-directed well. I don’t know what it is. I guess I’m just not disciplined enough, and I get too involved in the minute details, such as breaking larger projects into smaller pieces. I try to get everything done at once, end up getting overwhelmed, stop for a while, and then panic as the deadline approaches. I’d really rather just take the classes, but there’s no time for that now. I must finish these two projects and the upcoming music class in order to have all the credits I need to start at St. Scholastica in the fall. THAT’S the only thing keeping me going at this point; knowing that, if I screw this up, I screw up starting my bachelor’s degree.

So far, I’ve managed to read almost two (out of 15) chapters of the Psychology textbook. I’ve also spent a few hours making up a fancy calendar and schedule to plan out how I’ll complete these projects and to track my progress. I’m already off schedule. Shocking, I know. I blame getting sick last week; however, I have to admit that I haven’t exactly been chomping at the bit to get caught up. I still have plenty of time to get it all done, so I’m not too worried at this point. Unless, of course, I can’t get out of this funk; then I’ll be in trouble.

What do you do, lovely reader, when you’re generally just overwhelmed with life and in a funk? How do you get yourself back on track?

Creative Commons License

Friday, May 27, 2011

H for Helpless (A for Angry)

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHRAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! (That’s a primal scream in bloggy speak.) I am so frustrated, lovely reader!!! It seems as soon as life starts to go well and I start to feel good and energized and just positive in general, something has to happen to damper that. And usually it's family drama.

Soooooooo, there’s no delicate way to say this, and I’m honestly not thinking incredibly coherently right now due to a weather system induced migraine (yay for crap weather moving in right before the long weekend), but I had to get it out. My middle sister was beaten by her “fiancé” last night. In front of her kids. (Yes; again.) But this time? It was worse.

This time, my 10 year old nephew tried to intervene to save his momma. He gave it his all—throwing some of his biggest and heaviest toys at his dad. (Thankfully dad was far too busy beating up mom to worry about striking back at his son.) And this time, her “fiancé” tried to strangle her. Thankfully the kids weren’t there for that last part, because my sister had screamed at my nephew to get his sister (my 5 year old niece) and go outside and call 911. What a lovely way to celebrate niece’s pre-school graduation day, huh?

Thankfully (also), my sister and her neighbors had their patio doors open to let in our lovely spring weather, which meant the neighbors heard everything, resulting in two neighbors calling the police. The bastard got away before the police got there, and my sister didn’t want to press charges lest he lose his job and get even more angry at her, so as usual there were virtually no consequences for him. Except, of course, that sister is done with him. He is not welcome back at their home. She is going to change the locks.

I should be happy that my sister is finally done for good. But, I’m really not. It’s hard to be happy when all I want to do is scream and cry, and I’m so angry that I can barely contain it and feel as though my body could just burst into flames, creating a giant explosion of fury such as has never been seen. She’s been “done for good” too many times now for me to believe that this time it’s really true. I wish it was. I want so much for it to be true. But, I just can’t get my hopes up.

I am almost incomprehensibly angry at my sister. (I am, of course, angry with her abuser too, but he’s a lost cause and has been dead to me for a while now.) I’m ashamed to say it out loud, or type it rather, but I’m really angry at her. She’s always been selfish, but seriously how selfish can one person be and for how long? If she doesn’t want to save her life for her, then why not at least do it for her kids? How about thinking about them for a change? How about thinking about what you’re doing to the rest of the family? Haven’t we all been through enough? I know that last part makes me sound like the selfish one, and I'm okay with that.

It’s too bad my youngest sister, Kristine, was cremated, and thus doesn’t have a grave. She’d probably be rolling over in it. And, it would be easier to watch my middle sister go and desecrate Kristine’s grave than to desecrate the memory of her by refusing to learn from her circumstances. I wish I could drive middle sister to Kristine’s grave right now and say, “HERE! DANCE ON IT!! SPIT ON IT!!!! Do it NOW! Because you know what? That's EXACTLY what you’re doing by continuing to live this life!”

I am livid for my nephew and niece. They didn’t ask for this life. They should not have to live like this. Statistics show that, simply as a result of living in a home with domestic violence, my nephew is highly likely to become an abuser and my niece is more likely to become a victim of abuse. I know that people say statistics lie, but these ones don’t. I know that for a fact. Because my sisters and I all grew up to be victims as a result of watching my mother be both a victim and a perpetrator. So far, I’m the only one who’s managed to escape. (Not without a lot of work on my part.) And, thankfully, my brother doesn’t seem to be an abuser, but then again, he hasn’t been in a relationship for a long time. (Still, his overly laidback genes, which he got from my father, I think prevent him from being capable of being a batterer.)

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you already know the fate suffered by my youngest sister. I don’t want to watch my middle sister suffer the same fate. I honestly don’t know if I can survive such an ordeal again. I know I probably sound selfish and terrible and awful. And I feel awful. But, I’m at my wits end. I don’t know what to do or say or think or feel anymore.

I feel helpless. One of the main reasons I wanted to become a social worker, and work so hard towards that goal, is to help victims of domestic violence. But, I'm not in social work school yet, so I don't have the appropriate tools to help my sister. That doesn't prevent me from trying, of course. I have done so much research on domestic violence, and I understand why it’s hard for women to leave. I don’t understand why it’s so hard for my sister though. Especially given her past, her life experiences (our shared experiences), and the support her family has offered.

Last time there was an “incident” between middle sister and her “fiancé,” MusicMan and I helped her search for apartments, offered to pay her security deposit, offered to give her one of our TV’s (we don’t need two after all) and buy her a laptop, help with finding furniture, help her move, etc. All because she was “done for good” and we wanted to show our love and support. She turned around and basically slapped us in the face by going back to him. That can’t happen again.

I’m ready to issue an ultimatum to my sister. Either this is it and she's really done for good, or I’m done. Completely and for good. And unlike her, I mean it. I will full on admit that it’s more for self-preservation than anything, but she’s really left me with no other choice. Along with that, I will do everything in my power to see her kids removed from her home. My mother has threatened to take them away before. I will do everything in my power to help with that. If she wants to continue down this self-destructive path, she can, but she cannot drag her kids down with her. Not if I can help it anyway.

I cannot—will not—stand by and watch her succumb to her awful decisions. I can’t. I just can’t.
Creative Commons License

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

L for Lovin' It

It’s finals week. I’ve been beyond stressed. If you follow me on Twitter, you already know it’s that kind of stress that completely paralyzes you, thus preventing you from actually completing the things you need to get done. It's totally my fault. I procrastinated and I am really too much of an overachiever at times.

By writing this post, I am procrastinating even more (I don't learn lessons sometimes...or maybe some habits are just hard to break.) and further delaying the inevitable: my Philosophy of Religion final. It’s the only thing I have left to do to complete the semester. It’s the only thing standing between me and two whole weeks of vacation from school and homework. Unfortunately, it’s a 3 hour essay exam, and I’ve already checked out for the semester. I have until midnight tonight to take it, so it’s going down tonight after dinner, whether or not I feel ready.

In the mean time, none of the things bouncing around in my head are themselves worthy of a full blog post, so I thought I’d give you a quick list of things I’m loving and things I’m hating loving not so much at the moment.


Dansko shoes. It took me a bit of work to figure out which European size I needed to accommodate my rather large, rather wide feet, but once I got it figured out, I fell in love. I am not the type of girl who falls in love with shoes. Seriously. Ask anyone who knows me. To me shoes serve an imporant function, but they are hardly worth loving. I most certainly am not accustomed to paying more than like $20 for a pair. However, in the past month, I’ve purchased three pairs of Danskos. My justifications for these purchases (not that I need to justify them) are as follows:

(1) I have a surplus of money now that I’m no longer wasting it on cigarettes, junk food, and fast food. I seriously just do not seem to spend money anymore. It’s mind boggling how much money I used to spend on cigarettes, lunch, and snacks every single day. Now, I allow myself to purchase lunch as a "treat" every week, but that's about all the money I spend.

(2) The shoes are very well made and sturdy, which means they should last at least a few years, which is something my Payless cheap shoe buying self isn’t used to. The price of one pair divided by the number of years I’d expect them to last (3-5) makes the price of each pair much more reasonable.

(3) I purchased the first pair at a greatly reduced price—they are a season or two old (a detail that doesn’t matter to me) and I found a fantastic online sale. I thought they were too small, so with the intention of returning them, I went to an actual shoe store to get sizing advice before reordering from online. There, I fell in love with and purchased the second pair. (Because I'm a sucker for shoes that make my giant feet look cute and small.) Days later I realized the first pair was actually a size large than the second, and thus were not in fact too small but just needed to be broken in. I therefore decided to keep the first pair. You’ll note that the first two pairs are more dressy type shoes; they’re meant for work. Of course, I needed a casual pair too, and the embroidered clogs were just too cute to resist.

Adele’s 21 Album. It’s so full of awesome. The girl can sing! Love, love, love, love, love this album. So much. It’s on continuous play in my car.

Fage Greek Yogurt. This yogurt rocks my socks off! It’s so rich and creamy that it almost seems too good to be true. A decadent indulgence, it’s become a staple in my diet (and Musicman’s too). Costco sells large tubs of the plain for a very reasonable price, so we stock up each week. I love the versatility of the plain—I’ve found about a gazillion ways to flavor it. My favorite, by far, is mixing a tablespoon of lemon curd into a cup of yogurt and letting it sit overnight. So freakin’ delicious! I never used to be a breakfast person, and now I look forward to breakfast every day. Because it’s packed with protein, the yogurt combined with some fruit and/or a bit of cereal for crunch keeps me full until lunch time.

Quinoa. Not only is it fun to say, but it's delicious and fun to eat too. There is something about the texture that I just love. Combined with blackbeans, corn, onion, and various seasonings (specifically cumin and cayenne), it makes a super delicious southwest-style salad. Yummmmmmmmmm!

Weight Watchers Points Plus Plan. I’m amazed at how well it’s working, and I truly don’t feel deprived at all. I still eat delicious pizza, cake, and cookies, but I’ve learned that moderation and planning are key. I’m finding that my tastes have changed too. For example, I now crave certain fruits and vegetables. I simply must get some fresh fruits and veggies in everyday or something feels off. (Though I do have to admit that tracking every single thing I eat gets tedious at times. The end result, however, is totally worth it.)

This semester is almost over. My two week "summer" vacation starts tomorrow, and though I have no grand plans, I couldn't be more thrilled. I swear this semester has been longer than any other over the past two years.

My husband. (Duh, right?!) I saved the best for last. What can I say? Musicman is amazing. He’s my rock, my inspiration, my head cheerleader, and my all around most favorite person in the whole wide world. I feel so fortunate to have found and married someone who is such a perfect match for me. Our marriage is more than just a partnership; we truly are best friends. I love that we are very like-minded, but different enough that we complement each other so well. He truly brings out the best in me, and I’m just loving having him by my side through this amazing journey we call life. I truly don't know if I'd have made it this far with school without his encouragement and support.

Loving NOT so much:

Asthma/Allergies. The ridiculous weather we’ve had in Minnesota (snowing and 40’s last week, 90 and humid yesterday) over the past month hasn’t helped, but I have been downright miserable more days than not over the past few weeks. I was forced to take a hiatus from running due to the fact that I just could not seem to breathe after a certain point. I’m sad. I miss C25K (kinda), and with how much time I’ve taken off, I feel like I’m going to have to start all over. If I ever manage to get the breathing thing under control, that is.

I had a physical last week and the doctor ran a bunch of tests, but I haven’t heard anything about results yet. She prescribed an inhaler that has yet to really make a difference, and she didn’t seem too concerned about the fact that I sometimes have trouble catching my breath after even the smallest amount of exertion—like carrying the laundry up the stairs. I’m frustrated and worried. What if it’s something serious like emphysema? I know I’m probably too young for that, but it wouldn’t entirely be surprising after all the years I smoked. I might need to seek a second opinion.Not being able to breathe is just not cool.

Work. More often than not, it is abundantly clear that this is just not the environment for me. How I’ve lasted at my company for 14 years, and in this job for about half of that time, is completely beyond me. Some days are so bad in terms of frustration and ridiculousness that I really question whether I can survive another few years here with my sanity intact.

Asshat Drivers. I think I may have mentioned before that I might possibly have a slight tinge of the road rage. It's one of the things Musicman loves about me. (No. Really. It is. He finds it Hilarious! Apparently I am a completely different person once I'm behind the wheel of a car.) Nothing gets my blood boiling faster than when Adele and I are belting out the performance of a lifetime in my car, and the beautiful moment is interrupted by my screams of “Way to go, douche!” “Learn to drive, twat waffle!” and “Die, asshat!” I cannot control this automatic response to the jackassery of the moronic drivers around me; it's hardcoded. I don't think it helps that people seem to assume that since I drive the cute, apparently feminine, VW Beetle that I don't mind being pushed around on the road. Yes! Go ahead and cut me off, because that totally makes my day. Said people quickly learn that they were incredibly wrong in their assumptions as the Bug's horn isn't as whimpy as one would think, and I use it often.

The Redesigned VW Beetle. I'm glad I got my Beetle when I did, because VW has totally ruined it! I read somewhere that one of their golas with the redesign was to make it more masculine. WHY?!? Why does everything in this world have to appeal to men? They've gone and completely ruined a classic because men needed a more manly car. Really?!? There weren't enough masculine options out there already?

Weather. It’s been an absolute roller-coaster of ridiculousness weather-wise here in Minnesota. Given how long the cold weather stuck around, I feared we’d end up skipping spring (one of my favorite seasons) and heading straight into the dog days of summer. And, it looks like that’s exactly what’s going to happen. It was 90 degrees and stiflingly humid when I walked out of work yesterday. In other words, disgusting. With my birthday coming up in a couple weeks, all I’m wishing for is some lovely spring-like weather to offer an easy transition into the summer heat and humidity.

Also? Sandal season is coming. I want to order some Dansko sandals, because I’m betting they’ll be just as great as the shoes. However, I cannot justify spending a couple hundred more dollars on shoes. Sadly, the sandals I already have will have to get me through one more summer. (Or at least the next month or so. Maybe then I can justify buying at least one pair of Dansko sandals.)

What about you, lovely reader? What are you loving? What are you loving not so much? Any tips on how I can change my procrastinating ways?

Creative Commons License

Monday, April 25, 2011

S for Standing Up

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

On Friday, April 22—Good Friday—I walked into a Planned Parenthood Clinic for the first time in my life. The experience was a bit jarring, but not for the reasons you might think upon reading those words…

I entered the clinic to use the restroom. After nearly an hour of marching outside in the chilly weather, I needed a bathroom break. The reason I was a bit taken aback upon entering the clinic was that it was not what I had expected. You see, when I visit my family clinic for an appointment with my doctor, I walk into a warm waiting area where I am greeted by a receptionist who checks me in. This wasn’t the case at the Planned Parenthood Clinic in St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood. Literally as soon as I walked in the door, I was face-to-face with security guards sitting behind a security desk. Don’t get me wrong, the guards and the Planned Parenthood Escorts who were there were very warm, welcoming, and kind, but I was struck by the fact that security guards even had to be there.

I knew why, of course…

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

Protestors. Pro-lifers, specifically. They protest the clinic often (I’ve heard as much as daily), sometimes harassing its patients and staff, usually in the name of God. They seem to assume that every person who enters the clinic is there to take part in killing babies or to have her baby killed. Apparently pro-lifers don’t realize that abortions are but a small percentage of the vital services that Planned Parenthood provides. Today was different though. Today, the scope was much bigger…

Every year on Good Friday, hundreds of pro-lifers (also known as anti-choicers) show up at the St. Paul clinic to protest. I’m sure this probably happens at similar clinics around the country. They come to pray for an end to abortion and for clinics like Planned Parenthood to cease to exist.

In response, hundreds of pro-choicers gather to show their support for Planned Parenthood, a woman’s right to choose, and the vital services the clinic provides. I am proud to say that I was one of those supporters, which is why I had occasion to enter the clinic to use the restroom on Friday. This was my first time being involved in this, or any, rally and the experience was amazing.

I arrived at the clinic at around 1:30 p.m. I drove down Ford Parkway, passing in front of the clinic, in order to drive around the block to find parking; I will openly admit that I also wanted to see what I was getting myself into. I first drove past the anit-choicers. They were somberly walking in a circle in the temporarily fenced “pen,” formerly a traffic lane, which was designated as their protesting area. They looked like a walking funeral procession. A space as wide as the Planned Parenthood driveway separated them from the “other side.”

I heard the cars in front of me honking just as I approached the Planned Parenthood supporters, also in their own “pen.” I was moved to tears as I laid on my horn and reveled in the hoots and hollers from the enormous group of supporters. The feeling and energy coming from the group was powerful—they were smiling, waving, and jumping up and down. I was excited to soon be joining their ranks. I found a parking spot a block away, right behind the clinic. I could hear the honking and hollers as I got out of my car, and the noise grew louder as I approached the clinic parking lot to check in. The feeling was electric!

I couldn’t wait for MusicMan who, unlike me, hadn’t been able to get the whole day off of work, to join me. I was a bit apprehensive about joining the fray alone, but soon found out there was no need to be. Everyone was so kind and welcoming! I signed in, dropped of my food shelf donation, grabbed a sign, waited for an opening in the crowd of supporters passing by me, and jumped right in. A woman in the crowd began talking to me almost instantly. The same thing—spontaneous conversations between strangers—happened all day. It was as though I was with an enormous group of friends.

For the most part, it was a peaceful event. I can't discount the presence of the St. Paul Police as having played a role, but thankfully their presence seemed to be enough and no intervention was needed. A few pro-lifers who walked and drove by our area scowled, gave the thumbs down, or held their fingers up in the sign of the cross. (So, we’re demons and/or vampires now? Cool.) One guy screamed at us from across the street, but the honks of support and cheers from the crowd were too loud for us to hear what he had to say. It seemed as though every time the anti-choicers had someone on their PA system leading a prayer or hymn, or spewing their rhetoric, a bunch of cars would drive by and start honking to show their support. And, in what became almost a Pavlovian response from the crowd, we would holler and cheer back. I cannot appropriately describe to you the energy and spirit from this amazing group of people I was now a part of. We were a force!

Though I’d given monetary donations to Planned Parenthood plenty of times in the past, donating on Friday was too fun to pass up. Planned Parenthood was offering its supporters the option to pledge a protestor. The idea was the more protestors who showed up against the clinic, the more money was made for the clinic. Genius, right?! I found it to be absolutely brilliant and was delighted that money was being made on the backs of those who try their hardest to stop the good work this clinic does. MusicMan and I pledged a few protestors, because we believe in Planned Parenthood.

It has been proven time and again that sex education and contraception, both services that Planned Parenthood provides far more often than abortions, are key to preventing unwanted pregnancies. Unwanted pregnancies lead to abortions. Thus, it goes without saying that these key services are vital to reducing the need for abortions. It’s too bad the anti-choicers can’t do a little research to figure that out. The fact is that Planned Parenthood probably does more in one day to prevent abortions than pro-lifers do in a year. In addition to the invaluable services I’ve already mentioned, they also provide comprehensive medical exams, for women and men, including STD testing and life-saving cancer screenings.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know that I have some strong beliefs and that I have no problem stating them. Friday I got the opportunity to stand behind my words. I stood up for an amazing clinic and for women’s rights. Because I believe that women—not religious zealots or politicians—should have control of their bodies and reproduction. I appreciated the opportunity to take action in such a way. So much so that this will become an annual event for MusicMan and me, and instead of a two hour time slot, we will participate for as much of the day as we can.

My experience at Friday’s rally restored my faith in humanity a little bit. Seeing all of the support from people from a plethora of various ethnic groups, age ranges, and socio-economic backgrounds gave me hope that one day Planned Parenthood’s patients and staff won’t need to be greeted by security guards. Because maybe—just maybe—rational minds will prevail over irrational, intolerants ones and logic and reason will become the norm.

I leave you with some incredible photos MusicMan took to capture the day.

Cheering for the cars showing their support.

Look at all that support for Planned Parenthood!

A little dramatic, no? Pro-lifers doing a good job of illustrating just how superhuman Jesus truly was. I mean, he did carry his cross all on his own.

Typical pro-life propaganda. As this guy walked by MusicMan, he mad sure to flash this ultrasound photo. Dude obviously doesn't realize there are term limits on abortions. A fetus as developed as the one on that ultrasound couldn't legally be aborted....not at Planned Parenthood or anywhere else. Way to educate yourself there, Mr. Anti-Choicer!

This photo really illustrates some of the energy in the crowd of supporters. Despite the absence of any spring-like downright dreary weather in Minnesota!

I loved this woman's sign. It shows that one can be religious and have faith, but still be rational enough to realize that a woman's choice is her own.

Creative Commons License
Related Posts with Thumbnails