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Archive for the ‘Song of the Week’ Category

What I Do

So I tried to be a pastor once. It just didn’t work out. I drink, smoke and swear. Sometimes I do all three too much. Plus I’m a woman and therefore not welcome at many a pulpit. To top it off, I have bipolar disorder which means I had Sundays that I was full of gusto up front, able to spur the congregation on to praise and thanksgiving, able to open the service with the kind of energy the pastor and worship leader were looking for. Other Sundays, I was melancholy and invited the congregation to reflect on their struggles and cling to the cross as they sought out help, mercy, forgiveness and lifeline. Those days I brought a somber soul. Somber wasn’t what they were looking for. Needless to say, I didn’t feel all that welcome, so I quit being a pastor.

Now I’m a social worker. A mental health and substance abuse case manager to be precise. At any given time, I am serving close to 45 clients who are looking for housing, trying to get clean, battling the court system, and striving to understand and cope with their mental illnesses. Their substance abuse issues and mental illnesses range in severity, but no matter where they are at on the spectrum their disorders are debilitating and most are unable to hold a job. They struggle even to get along with other people and to understand societal norms. They all live in poverty and to be honest, have very little chance of getting out of poverty. They are engaged in their recovery at different levels of commitment as well. Their commitment levels range from, as we’d say clinically, precontemplation to action.

I love my job. My clients are tough. Some are tough because our personalities simply clash. Others are tough because they come to me with problems that truly have no good solutions. But they’re also hilarious, good people who have good stories to tell (some true, some based in psychosis, some straight up lies) and they all deserve respect. They’re all short on money, but they’re running even shorter on respect.

Found a song this week that completely describes what I do and the how’s and why’s of what I do. It’s by Fort Minor and called The Name.

You ready?! Let’s go!
Yeah, for those of you that wanna know what we’re all about
It’s like this y’all (c’mon)

This is ten percent luck
Twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure
Fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name

Not exactly bullet points I’d put on my resume. But that’s how I pull off what I do every day. And I do it because the people I serve deserve to be remembered. They deserve to be respected. I also do it because I have my own struggles and can very much relate to where they are coming from. But the biggest reason I do it is because I am a pastor at heart and I believe they all deserve to have someone in their life who can find that piece of gospel dwelling inside of them, call it out and cultivate it.

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So as I’ve mentioned, I’ve been listening to a lot more music lately. I am hooked on Macklemore. Today I heard “The Magic” and it just caught me off guard and gave me something to reflect on for the rest of the day.

And then I remembered the magic
Forgot that you can’t plan it
It’s always there in front of us
Just trust and it happens
And the star dust from the universe of this planet
I just get stressed when I try to understand it
And then I remembered the magic
Forgot that you can’t plan it

Dan is gone. For the fifth time in the last 7 weeks. I am a hot mess when Dan is gone. I just barely qualify as a “good enough” mom. The kids eat. Nobody dies. I pay a babysitter to give my kids bath once or twice while he’s gone so I can go out and get a beer.

Not today, people! I made pancakes for dinner. I did laundry. I snuggled. I watched Dinosaur train for over an hour. I didn’t scream at my kids. There was magic there today. Definitely didn’t plan it. I can’t say I was trusting, but it totally just happened.

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Hey, Mr. DJ…

I used to be a music snob. Music was an escape for me growing up. I spent my adolescence and early adulthood basking in all the music I could find – drinking in the music my mom handed down to me, the sounds of guitars and harmonicas soothing my soul. My music horizons broadened as I grew up. I sought out the singer songwriters whose lyrics I’d devour. Music meant everything to me. I can’t even count how many concerts I went to in that time.

But until this week, I hadn’t listened to music for three years. When I was pregnant with Lydia, something shifted inside my bipolar brain and suddenly the music meant nothing. The lyrics were too familiar and boring. The sounds of the instruments gave me a headache and put me on edge. But I just didn’t care enough about it to find new music. I was so melancholic. NPR became my companion. It’s all I listened to for three years. I’ve been to one concert in three years.

This week though, my bipolar brain shifted again thanks to a medication change. I hope the shift lasts forever. It has brought music back to me. I listened to my old standards for days. The joy started waving over me. Then Dan showed me how to use Pandora in my van. Revolutionary move! I’m listening to new stuff by my favorite artists and trying artists and genres I had previously ignored. It’s glorious.

I spent a whole day listening to the Macklemore station. In this very moment, I am sitting in my favorite chair, writing and listening to Shawn Colvin. CNN isn’t on. It’s music.

I know that because I have Bipolar Disorder, this upswing isn’t likely to last forever, but now maybe next time I am in the depths of where I’ve been the last three years I’ll have a broader range of music to provide me with relief.

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Wise Up

What I wish I could say…

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