I'm am the opposite of athletic. There are some people that talk about their sports adventures as children, and get a glazed look over their face- drunk with nostalgia. That doesn't happen to me. I remember being picked last for pretty much every team. My desire to run (on purpose) has always been lacking. I don't aspire to run through a muddy obstacle course, or the streets of downtown in my underwear on a chilly winter morning to say I've completed a Cupid Run. Just no. Much like people who hate chocolate, I question the sanity of these folks.
In my work, I am blessed to witness the birth of hope. It's a word we all use casually throughout our day, without much thought to it's meaning. Hope. "I hope that I have time to stop at the store on the way home from work." "I hope that everything goes as planned on our vacation." These passing examples of hope seem far too casual for me. I redefined hope many years ago while wading in my own untreated and sorely exacerbated depression. Depression fools us into thinking that there is no good to be found in the world. There are no plans to thrive, because there are no plans. Furthermore, good things only happen to other people, and aren't likely to land in this path of cracked brick- overgrown with prickly weeds. It's a dark place, most certainly.
When we are young, we don't think much about our health. I can recall all the times I would do cheerleading jumps and my mom would wince, thinking about her knees. Little did I know the "snap crackle pop" I had in store decades later. It's true. When I smoked, I always knew I would quit. When I drank, I counted on my liver's ability to heal itself (within limits). There were many jokes exchanged, "by the time I wear down, they will be able to transplant whatever I need!" It seems so pompous and foolish now. Mostly because I work in healthcare, and I've seen everything break down to the end. Not everything can be replaced. All our parts are precious.
Change is a constant in life. I think we all understand this fate, whether it's fought kicking and screaming, or welcomed like an old friend. I've never really struggled with it too much. I grew up in the same home until graduation, but moved about 15 times after, until finally putting down roots. I'm the kind of person that can cut off five feet of hair, to a pixie cut and focus entirely on my new yummy smelling styling products. All, without missing a beat. However, some things hit us harder. Relationships. Changes in career, health, a child. Some of these changes can rock our world and leave scars that don't fade, unlike the little girl on the Neosporin commercial.
Music is powerful. I don't think I knew to what extent that was true, until I worked in hospice with dementia patients. At the end-stage of this debilitating thief (rotten bastard) of a disease, talking becomes difficult. Expressing feelings is almost impossible outside of gibberish efforts at forming words. Something magical happens when familiar music starts to play. You see, music is stored in a different part of the brain than language. I have seen non-verbal demented patients bust out singing "Old McDonald" when cued with a tune. It is like witnessing a miracle.
All the people in my world know at least a few things about me. I'm obsessed with my daughter, Garth Brooks cheers me up when I'm in a crummy mood, and I'm always attached to some form of coffee. As I get older, I realize that my list of vices is diminishing. I used to smoke, I used to drink. I used to eat all sorts of food that would inspire heart disease. My list of pleasures has gone from glutenous to beige. Beige is boring right? As I approach 40, my neutral and safe universe includes exercise, whole foods, meditation, journaling, and YES...coffee. I can't lose everything dear to my soul.
Sleep is delicious. I use that word because it reminds me of savoring something that you want to last, like homemade chocolate cream pie. We all want comfortable and quality sleep that leaves us feeling refreshed and ready to hit the day running. I spent some time with an old friend this weekend, and her perfect (delicious) baby boy. He was in a very hip child sling- around his mama, the bohemian goddess. Passed out cold, gaping mouth and all. I thought to myself, I would like to know what it's like to be this little guy. Surrounded with a bustling crowd of people, dreaming delightful 8-month-old dreams. At this age, sleep is a simple destination in any position, any time. As we mature, sleep can become more and more elusive.
None of us see a shooting star and wish for hardships. That would be craziness. We wish for things like health, financial blessings, or that job promotion. The only problem with this logic is that growth is often paved with discomfort. Even pain. A lot of people have asked me why I went into social work. To some, this job would be the losing outcome of a M.A.S.H. game teen girls played in the 90's. Any social worker you meet will have a different answer to this question, but I assure you that it is the result of some life experience. I have met social workers that were raised by drug addicts, escaped a war-torn country, a survivor of domestic abuse, freed themselves from an extremist religion, the list goes on and on. Me? Well, any number of things could have led me here. I mean really, pick a journal entry anywhere from 1985-2005. I would say that one of these facilitators of change took place in 1996.
In my practice, with each assessment of a new patient, I ask about their history, interests, health and a slew of other details. The purpose of this exercise is to get a nice picture of what I'm working with before I dig into the "meat" of things. Perhaps one of the most important questions I ask is about the person's support system. I will say, "tell me about the people that love you."
The first journal I got was for Christmas in third grade. It had a fat orange cat on the cover, and a lock to keep out potential snoopers. Though, the most scandalous thing I wrote was in regard to the school lunch being served with an ice cream scoop. Later, I found it to be an outlet for fantasies about how I might meet the New Kids on The Block, or become the next big star on the Mickey Mouse Club.
Addiction is a painfully familiar disease. Every single person you come face to face with in this world has a story to tell about a loved one that has been consumed by alcohol, drug addiction, gambling, sex addiction, or something that takes away the person they once loved and leaves a broken shell behind.
There is not one person within my tribe of friends that will say "That Audrey, she's such an outdoorsy person." In fact, I've been the brunt of many camping jokes. I see nothing wrong with requiring an environment with regulated temperatures and facilities to answer the call of nature and bathe with warm water in privacy. Is this too much to ask? I think not.
Like many, I am often late to the game when it comes to really amazing television shows. There are times when I hear friends talking about a show like "Game of Thrones" or "The Walking Dead" and I'm absolutely unaware of the trend going on in pop culture. I'm cool like that. I have my favorites that I watch again and again, but I don't regularly stumble upon something that shakes me to the core and leaves me powerless to the binge. You know what I'm talking about. A show that grabs you by the throat and takes every waking minute until the anticipated "show hole" comes lurking to swallow your soul (dramatic music swells). Well, my mom had told me for ages to try "Call the Midwife" on Netflix. It's a BBC show that takes place in the late 1950's in Poplar, England- which is depicted as a somewhat impoverished neighborhood still very much impacted by post WWII economic and emotional turmoil. Other than the exceptional character development, costumes and historically relevant happenings, this is a show about the midwives that worked for England's national healthcare system- making home visits in literally all (yucky) environments bringing little ones in the world. As a social worker and a mother I found this immediately captivating and was moved to tears within the first hour of viewing. What especially struck me was the fragility of the whole birthing process. About a million things can go wrong in both mother and baby. Every healthy birth is a miracle. Really.