Happy holidays to all! May you enjoy happy and restful holidays, and a wonderful, healthy, and prosperous new year! Thank you for all of your readership and support during 2017.
Happy holidays to all! May you enjoy happy and restful holidays, and a wonderful, healthy, and prosperous new year! Thank you for all of your readership and support during 2017.
Life and life experiences bring many joys and challenges, successes and failures, jubilation and pain for all of us. Of adults, women often seem to face many more challenges than men. There are different familial, cultural, and societal expectations of women. Women are portrayed differently (and often less respectfully) than men throughout the media. Women can be leaders or followers or somewhere in-between. However, women are always women, regardless of the types of experiences and lives we lead. There is so much that women embody, and there is so much that women do and say. More often, I encourage women to be more supportive, understanding, and helpful toward each other. One never knows exactly what another person is experiencing, and just a simple smile or word of encouragement can go a long way. On International Women’s Day, it is the perfect day to promote awareness of all of this.
In my own life, I have experienced many joys and challenges, successes and failures, jubilation and pain. I recall some of the happiest times of my life being when I gave birth to my son, my wedding day, and each of the days that I graduated from school, college, and university. Additional happy times have been in celebrating happy occasions and accomplishment of my son. Some of the most painful experiences I have had have included my divorce, being unemployed, and having financial challenges. I am thankful for the people in my life who I am closest to and my faith for helping and supporting me through the ups and downs of my life. I am thankful for those, whether female or male, who have helped me to become a better, stronger, more sensitive and compassionate person. I am thankful for all those in my life who supported my life, growth, and development, as well as my beliefs in myself, my self confidence, and my self esteem.
There is so much expected of women. We are expected to be wives, mothers, teachers, caretakers, bosses, employees, leaders, and followers. We are expected to carry our religious faith and convictions over to our children, and even to others’ children. We are expected to help others, to volunteer, to give of ourselves, sometimes until there is nearly nothing else left to give. What is there left for ourselves, at times? This is what we have to find, and this is often the balancing act that we have to play. How do we get our own needs met while also fulfilling (or helping to fulfill) the needs of others? For some of us, we have it all worked out; for others, it is a lifelong journey.
Some of the most important aspects of my own life have been the support and interactions of family, friends, and/or colleagues (emotional and/or financial); religious faith; education; and career. Supportive people in my life are sometimes few and far between, however those who are supportive are those I highly value and cherish. My religious faith has always been there, and while I do not support everything within my faith, I know where I stand with it. Education has always been something I have supported. Knowledge is power, and one can never have too much knowledge. Regarding career, I am a woman who believes that working in a career position, such as a teacher or counselor, is as much a career as remaining at home and raising one’s children. And, there are many of us who do both of those and do them well.
Therefore, these aforestated aspects of my own life have contributed to shaping me into the woman I am today. While I am a woman who would like more work and career opportunities in order to be more financially independent and self-sufficient for my family, I am also a woman who is thankful for the opportunities I have had to be an involved mother, role model, and guide for my son. I am thankful for being able to be personally involved in my son’s life. I am not a woman who regrets being unable to spend quality time with my son because I am one who has done that. And, it is my hope that it has contributed to his welfare and benefit, and that he has and will become a better and stronger person for it, as well.
As women, we are all intertwined with each other, whether male or female, girl or boy, woman or man. I encourage women to be more supportive, helpful, and understanding of other women. Our society so often encourages men and women to be hard and insensitive on our way to the top. However, I question whether what society perceives as “the top” might sometimes actually be the bottom, based on my own values and perceptions. We must all consider who we are and how our lives and life experiences has contributed to making us into who we are. I would like to ask that, on this International Women’s Day, we all consider and take action toward being more supportive of women, and reflecting on who we are and what has made us into who we are. I would also like to encourage that if there is anything in those perceptions and reflections that we dislike and/or can improve – in a values context – that we do so. If all of us do this, it will have a positive ripple effect throughout our society, one that we can definitely use.
This week, there were three lottery tickets that were sold with winning numbers for the lottery jackpot of $1.6 billion. Just hearing about the extremely high jackpot was incredible to me, not to mention more incredible that the winners of the three winning tickets will be splitting those monies between them. That kind of money is simply that which I am unable to fathom. I mean, what does one do with 100s of millions of dollars? Certainly, it is nice to have money. More than just enough to live on, with a bit of a cushion or buffer, is always good. But, being the winner of a lottery jackpot requires a lifestyle change that is likely a difficult adjustment for some.
Believing myself to be a person who is not very “lucky,” I am not a gambler. There are definitely certain calculated risks that I have taken in my life, I have invested in the stock market in the past, and I have earned some money on some investments, however I am not one to play the lottery. In fact, I think I may have played the lottery only once. That was in a similar situation in the past few years when the jackpot was insanely high. I really just played it for the fun of it, and bought only one ticket. The odds of ever being the winner just never pan out in those types of situations anyway. Why put money out there if there will be no return on it? And I already know that I am generally not a person who is “lucky,” so why waste my money. That’s my philosophy.
I am a person, however, who will apply for scholarships, grants, fellowships, and monetary awards. In the past, I have applied for several of them, and have received them. Most recently, between six to seven years ago when I was earning my healthcare certificate at a local technical college, I received the Hope Grant which helped finance my studies. I am thankful to all of the taxpayers out there in Georgia who supported my education in healthcare. I believe the grant I received was about $750 per semester for three semesters. That was really helpful!
More recently, in the past three years, I have applied for several scholarships and a grant to support my studies in counseling. Unfortunately, while I have been eligible to receive them, I have not been selected to get any of them. I applied for merit and academic scholarships at my university, and would likely be among the top candidates for receipt of them, however none have been awarded to me. Within the past two months, I applied for a $5,000 grant in the counseling field through a national counseling organization, and was not selected for that either. More recent than that, I wrote an essay for yet another national counseling organization in application for another scholarship, and am waiting to hear back – probably that I was not selected to receive it.
Certainly, I have the writing skills, and I have the knowledge, commitment, and dedication to always do my best in whatever I do. However, receiving $500, $1,000, or – can you imagine – $5,000 would really go a long way for me. I often wonder why it is that those people who sometimes have the greatest financial need are those who are most often overlooked. I would be happy to provide my tax returns for the past several years to reflect my financial status and to prove my financial need. This, however, never seems to be good enough.
So, here I am again, back at square one. I am glad not to have gotten my hopes up about any of those grants or scholarships. I could have recently applied for a fellowship, as well, but the particular organization that hosted it wanted winners to invest too much out of pocket than I am willing to do. At any rate, it would have been nice to receive even a small scholarship or financial award rather than financing so much of my education for my second graduate level degree through student loans. Obtaining the $5,000 grant could have already paid down the interest that has accrued on my student loans.
I cannot say that I did not try. At least I made the effort to apply for these scholarships and the grant. Now I know that I would not have received them whether I applied or not, but at least I applied. One never knows unless you try. I have gained nothing, but I have lost nothing either. I am not that discouraged because I did not elevate my hopes for anything, though it would have been nice to receive a small sum to support my efforts toward becoming established in the counseling profession.
Already, another year of blogging has passed and I am into the next one. I must say that I have been somewhat remiss in keeping up with blogging about many interests and issues that I would have liked to, particularly in the past six months or so, however it is a comfort to know that this WordPress platform is here when I have the time for it.
Therefore, I would like to take a moment and express my appreciation to the 34 regular followers of my blog, for recently attaining 100 “likes,” and for amassing nearly 26,500 hits to my page! While I have not kept up with the specific stats this past year regarding the most popular topics on my blog, and it is not a goal to acquire an obscene amount of followers or hits, I am grateful that there are those out there who read and take some enjoyment from my posts.
So, thank you, again, and I hope you continue to have an interest in my posts on WordPress! 🙂
If I was a gambler, I would bet that no one ever thinks she or he would lose financial stability and become impoverished in our great land of opportunity. I mean, 65 years ago, my mother’s family immigrated to the United States from Poland and Germany because this is the land flowing with “milk and honey.” After all, the streets in the United States are supposed to be “paved with gold,” right? I guess it all depends on who you talk to.
Sure, my immigrant grandparents obtained work and opportunities in America, but they worked and slaved hard to achieve it. Sometimes, they worked up to three jobs at a time to pay for a home, food, and clothing for their four children. Though they worked hard, they were still poor. There was no money for sending any of the kids to college. But, that was also a time when people could make a decent living by having only a high school diploma. Today, the expectation is that one must have at least a college degree.
My dad has also always been a hard worker. Beginning as a little kid, he would sell soda pop at the weekly community bingo games. Then, he would collect the empty bottles back and return them for deposit compensation. He was also a newspaper delivery boy, and then he pumped gas to fill customer’s vehicles at the gas station. My grandfather worked, but my grandmother did not; and my grandfather died when my dad was 17. There was no money for college. I doubt it was even considered. Even so, my dad became a dedicated employee of the State of New York for 37 years.
As a girl, growing up, I had all the expectations about life that many girls probably do. When I grew up, I was going to have the million dollar family, the home in the suburbs with the white picket fence, a great career, and everything was going to be rosy. We would live happily ever after – or so I thought.
The real fact of the matter is that a few things have been rosy, but most things have been a great struggle. I never imagined that from my upper middle class background that I would be at below poverty level status. I have experienced the feminization of poverty in America. Considering everything, however, I think that I’ve done really well. I have avoided poverty as much as possible, but it is still with me. Poverty has been my lover for the past 7 years now. I don’t love him, but he can’t seem to get enough of me.
No matter what I’ve tried, no matter how I’ve tried to help myself for the past 7 years, I’ve been unable to escape the specter of poverty. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I’ve never used drugs, I am intelligent and hard-working, and I am one of the kindest people you will ever meet in your life. I have also learned to be extremely careful with what I have, in both possessions and finances. I am also not one to complain…because I know there are always those out there who are in a worse position than me.
Perhaps these are reasons that no one ever would suspect my true financial status. In fact, when I attempt to broach the subject with people, nearly everyone always brushes it off. They don’t take it seriously. I mean, how many impoverished people look as good as I do? How many care for and support their family as well as I do? One charity volunteer who interviewed me a couple of years ago honestly stated to me, “You don’t look poor.” I don’t look poor. And, I am not poor – I am impoverished.
Throughout these past years, I have tried to do what I can to help myself and my family. I have tried to avoid poverty. I have tried to be as frugal as possible. I don’t have healthcare, nor do I have the money for it. I have been unemployed out of my main career field for the past six years. I have gone back to school, twice, in an effort to jump start my career and get back on my feet. Either those efforts did not work or there were unforeseen setbacks that occurred. I can already foresee student loan payments in the near future that I will likely be unable to make, thus destroying what little progress I’ve managed to make recently.
There are so many other things that I could say and identify that have happened, but there are some things that are just better left private. I do not want the situation to get worse by divulging too much. After all, I’ve learned in life that when you’re down, most people are there to ignore you and/or kick you around. Those who are encouraging and supportive are truly few and far between.
Life is truly about the survival of the fittest. In our competitive United States, I think cooperation. Where I think kindness, too many others think selfishness. And, people who have never experienced poverty simply cannot and do not understand it, nor can relate to it. When you try to explain it to them, they have no clue about it. For someone such as myself, I do not look for sympathy, but understanding, support, and opportunities for empowerment. If people are unable to relate, then there is no chance for any of that to occur at all.
So, while I have done and continue to do what I can for the best of myself and my family in trying to avoid Poverty, it seems to have gotten the better of me again. Just when you think you cannot cinch your belt any tighter, it becomes even more constricting. So, I have thought that, perhaps, I am doing it all wrong. Maybe I should not try to avoid or run from Poverty, maybe I should just embrace him. But, then again, I cannot do that, or Poverty will have won. Remember, Poverty loves me, but I do not love him. He might think that he has won, but he has not. I will be okay; I will be a Poverty survivor.
Mental health care is a challenging, but rewarding field. There are many positive sides of mental health care, and also areas that need improvement. One of the biggest rewards of mental health care is observing and experiencing progress, recovery, and a return to wellness of clients. Healing, recovery, and a return to wellness of clients in mental health settings requires patience, understanding, respect, and sensitivity. Agency and organizational stability is also needed for clients in order that they receive optimal care. While each agency and/or organization has its own culture, a culture in which workers live in fear of becoming a statistic in extremely high turnover is unhealthy in itself.
As an individual working toward licensure in the mental health profession, I am one whose perspective is from a position of wellness. First and foremost, one must view a person as a person. To perceive and treat a person with respect, kindness, nonjudgment, and impartiality are requirements in supporting and empowering the wellness, healing, and recovery of clients. In the counseling profession, one based on a view of wellness in people, there exists a positive and supportive hope for the overall optimal health of the individual.
This view is different from many other mental health professions in which the general view of the client is one of sickness. Certainly, approaching an individual with a perspective of what can be improved is helpful, and for insurance purposes involving payment for services rendered, a diagnosis of the client is required, however it is my perspective that viewing the client from a wellness standpoint is much more healthy for all involved rather than judging a person as being sick.
Those who view and describe an individual as a “sick person” have already negatively judged him or her. They have not viewed the person as a person, but as an “ill person.” Such a perspective held by such individuals causes them to treat the client differently, as one who needs more and more treatment, more and more medication, more and more confinement. In these situations, the positive view of wellness is gone, and is replaced by a judgment that the “sick person” is unable to become well.
While clients have challenges to achieving and maintaining wellness, it becomes even more of a challenge when many in the mental health field view clients as sick, and only they as the professionals who hold those views have the power and expertise to make them well – or they have already judged that they will never become well. A professional who approaches a client from a perspective of wellness (a perspective that is in the minority), therefore, faces even more challenges, not only for themselves but also for their clients when others view them as sick and unable to become well. A person is still a person, regardless of their diagnosis or disorder. A person is still a person, and has the capability of becoming well. A hopeful perspective toward client wellness must exist in the mental health profession – rather than client sickness – in order that clients are supported and empowered to experience that wellness.
A further challenge in agencies and/or organizations in which a “sickness” perspective prevails is that experienced clinicians fall into the trap of believing that their views and judgments about clients are the best – that they are the experts. Certainly, the experience of a veteran clinician is extremely valuable in treating clients, however experienced clinicians who believe that only their views, judgments, and culture of sickness are the most helpful approaches create a potentially dangerous situations for their clients. Clinicians of all levels of experience must be open-minded to considering and perceiving different views – including those from a wellness perspective – so that their clients receive optimal care and so that they profession, itself, can grow and develop in a healthy way.
Clinicians who view clients from a perspective of illness and negative judgment place their clients at risk for further illness. Clinicians who are set in their ways of expertise toward mental health treatment, and who are unable to be open-minded toward viewing different perspectives regarding it have already erected walls around themselves that are harmful for themselves, their clients, the culture of their agency/organization, and the field of mental health.
What clinicians must always place as a primary priority is that people are people. As such, people should be treated with dignity, understanding, kindness, respect, and sensitivity. If a perspective of client wellness is lacking or absent, clients will likely experience a more difficult road to recovery and may not achieve wellness. What is healthier – being an “expert” clinician whose views of client illness cause him or her to be closed to considering a client’s optimal recovery, or being a clinician who treats a person as a person, and who applies a wellness perspective that supports rather than negatively judges the client? You be the judge.
Rape, sexual assault, molestation, and other sexual traumas are far too common throughout our society. So many people have experienced sexual traumas in their lives; unfortunately, it is much more common than might actually be fathomed. Pediatricians, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and first responders are those who may often have interactions with patients or clients who are victims and survivors of sexual traumas. They are those who often work with individuals following sexual traumas, though I am one who is also interested in teaching about the respect and protection of the human body in order that sexual traumas may be lessened and/or prevented in our society.
Last year, writer and political analyst Zerlina Maxwell shared five objectives regarding how men, particularly young men, can be respectful of women’s humanity rather than viewing women as sexual objects. Maxwell’s objectives were in regard to addressing the issue that women do not need guns to protect ourselves from rape because that places the blame on the victim/survivors, rather than placing responsibility on the offender.
I agree with that. Society still often blames and stigmatizes victims and survivors, though I have observed that to be changing slowly as a result of more survivors speaking out about their experiences. Speaking out is a good thing for many reasons. It helps survivors heal, it can help provide information that protects others from experiencing sexual trauma, and it helps reduce and/or eliminate societal blame, revictimization, and stigmas experienced by survivors.
Also important to address is that people of all ages and backgrounds can be sex offenders, whether or not they have been charged and/or prosecuted. Research that I, myself, have completed in this area has reflected that those who experience sexual traumas by others may be infants, children, teens, or adults. It is also important to state that males an females may experience sexual traumas, and that those sexual traumas may be perpetrated by males and/or females, as well. This is not an issue, therefore, that solely affects women, but also is a worldwide issue that affects our entire society.
That stated, a focus that I would like to bring to this post is in relation to protecting and educating young men about the humanity and integrity of young women’s bodies. A particular focus in these respects is one that I direct toward male undergraduates and male entrants into the military. Perhaps, then, a focus can be on stopping and/or preventing rape, as well as including language that focuses on protecting and respecting women’s bodies.
In my experience as an undergraduate college student, I am aware that there are those college men who rape, who encourage their male peers to rape, and who believe that rape is sex. Both my experience and that I have observed includes the views of some college men who are fraternity members and football players. It is the attitudes and behaviors of some of these men who reflect negatively on their peers.
Similar attitudes and behaviors are increasing in regard to many men in the military. Those who rape and sexually traumatize others cause and perpetuate trauma, particularly when much of our society still appears to blame, stigmatize, and revictimize survivors. Survivors of sexual trauma should not be viewed as, nor treated as criminals; offenders should receive consequences, treatment, and be held accountable and responsible.
Another focus that I would like to state in this post is to share with young women, teen girls, and others who may be targeted for sexual trauma, ways in which to potentially protect themselves from it. No matter how much one may work to protect oneself, it may not prevent or stop a sexual trauma from occurring, though such information is more helpful to know than not to. One red flag to recognize is when a boy or young man is repeatedly pressuring, particularly about sex and/or drinking alcohol. An objective of teen boys and young men who rape is to get a target drunk and/or spike alcohol with the pill known as the date rape drug.
One way to immediately protect oneself from this is to be aware of and recognize when a male is being pressuring regarding sex and/or drinking alcohol, and to remove oneself from that situation as quickly as possible. Regarding some males, as soon as a female says, “No,” that becomes a cue for them to work more quickly toward raping their target. So, in order to excuse oneself from such a situation, a female should not draw attention to feeling uncomfortable, wanting to leave, or desiring to return home, but should use some other excuse to leave the situation that will not escalate any potential for the male to commit sexual trauma toward her.
Other ways for females to protect ourselves is to recognize and be aware of males who are members of college fraternities, football and/or other sports teams, and who are in the military. This also applies to males who serve in professions that support a strong male patriarchy and hierarchy, including the Catholic Church and other employers or volunteer organizations. Unfortunately, males in many male groups often protect each other with a code of silence regarding offenses and/or crimes that may occur by their members. When such offenses are brought to the attention of their superiors or the authorities, they may continue to be protected by other males, however it is important for such offenses to be officially reported and documented.
Something else for females to keep in mind is that some males believe that rape is sex, and that if they want it, they are going to “take” it by whatever means necessary. Because some males believe that their action of raping another is sex, they seem to think they are “being men,” experiencing a “rite of passage,” and being “one of the guys.” They may brag to peers about their sexual prowess, and how a female who was targeted was “easy,” “slutty,” or “trashy,” thus causing other male peers to become interested in targeting her, as well. Females must be aware that males talk, and that their talk among each other may not reflect a realistic or accurate portrait of what occurred. So, when other males appear “interested,” females must be aware that their interest may not be genuine, but may be based only on the inaccurate perspectives received from the males’ peer(s).
A big disadvantage for women in our society is that society teaches girls to always be agreeable, cooperative, and nice, and to look up to males, respecting them and holding them in high esteem. Certainly, many males are worthy of trust, respect, and being viewed positively. However, for girls who become women who have been taught to trust, respect, and view positively those who should not be, they may be more easily targeted for and experience sexual traumas. Those who target others seek vulnerability. Those who have any potential for being targeted should be aware of this, and also be aware of the other ways identified and described in this post to protect themselves.
Again, when a person experiences sexual trauma, the person who was the offender should be held responsible and accountable, not the survivor or victim. A person may take every action to try to protect herself or himself from sexual trauma, and it may still occur. Therefore, it is imperative for the survivor to know that he or she is not at fault and not to blame. Those who offend have had experiences and/or learning that causes them to believe that it is acceptable for them to commit sexual offenses and/or traumas against others.
If you know of anyone who has experienced sexual trauma, consider going with them to report the crime. Consider accompanying them to their doctor. Perhaps, refer them to and go with them to a rape crisis agency. There are trained professionals who are very sensitive toward survivors of sexual traumas, and there are other trained professionals who are not sensitive at all, but blaming and revictimizing. Survivors and victims of sexual traumas must be supported on their journey to healing. And, society must take every possible action to educate about and protect people of all ages from experiencing sexual traumas. Respecting and honoring others and their bodies is all-important in establishing and maintaining healthy relationships.