Saturday, December 14, 2013

My life in one week - a photo essay & diary of sorts

 A couple of years ago I did a blog post where I took photos throughout the day of stuff I did.  It was mostly sedate stuff - dropping kids off at the pool, getting a diet coke at Circle K - that kind of thing.  But the post ended up being kind of fun to do - it was fun to take photos all day, and it did end up being a pretty popular post.  A couple of weeks ago I basically complained that it is difficult for me to blog right now for many reasons.  Time and lack of content being two of many.  So this week I struck upon the idea of doing a photo essay for the week.  To be honest, I did this more as a means of keeping my own sanity.  I need something in my life besides school and work with the occasional chore or obligatory stuff I have to do.  Almost nothing I do serves to renew me in some way.  In "therapy talk" this is called "self-care" and I don't do much of that.  If you exercise, read, go on trips with family or friends, long walks alone, or even crochet - you are doing a form of "self-care" and self-care is something that kind of renews and sustains us during the long days when very little if anything you are doing is something that you just "want" to do.

I know it's important. I have some things I do - typically a hot bath or taking myself to a movie occasionally.  But not something I do every day.  So this week I challenged myself to take photos as often as I could remember and when it was appropriate.  I honestly had far less time to do it than I initially thought I would - and even sometimes when I really remembered and thought it would be awesome - such as taking photos of my clients chickens as they surrounded my car - I had absolutely no time to stop and take a photo even though all these photos were just taken on my Iphone.

So here's my week - starting on a Saturday and ending on a Saturday with some commentary to give you an idea of what I did this week.  I enjoyed taking the photos.

My Saturday started at a high school where I was judging a speech and debate tournament.  All 3 of my kids have participated in these tournaments now and I try to be a judge when I can as all the school have to provide judges for the events.  We don't judge our own kids or kids from our own school obviously, and so given this fact, I very rarely see my kids the whole time I am at the event.  But I like doing it all the same because as I may have mentioned before - watching these dedicated kids meet up in suits and ties at 6 am on a SATURDAY to spend ALL DAY at a tournament where they are judged for the speaking and debating skills warms my heart more than I can explain.  

While there Jordan did come and find me on her lunch break.  She was worried at the time that maybe she wasn't performing as well she would have liked.  She expressed frustration and worry.  She really did not need to be worried as she ended up not only making it to the finals in Expository but she won the whole tournament and took first place.  (of course, being a perfectionist, she still allowed it to bother her that she did not place in finals in her other event!  we need to work on this! but she was VERY excited to take first, because she honestly did not expect it).   I left before all of that excitement because the finals and awards don't happen until late in the evening and I had been there since 7:30 am and I had homework to do.  When I got home I took a bath.  Judging can be exhausting (that sounds whimpy - but for reals, it is mentally challenging to do that all day) and those were all the photos I managed that day.  

On Sunday I had a little more time to think about what I was doing and take some photos even though probably maybe technically I did not have permission to take photos of all of the children at church, I have contacted the mothers in post production to get retroactive permission to view them here.  My new "calling" is working with the primary aged children.  If you don't know what that means it's basically junior sunday school - all the kids 12 and under go to a separate are while their parents are in different meetings and classes for the 2nd two hours of church (The first hour, is sacrament and everyone is together for those).  My "calling" is to basically help run the program for these kids working under and with some other ladies who are awesome.  Which basically means I don't have that much to do because they already have it totally together.  Initially that day I was laughing my butt off during this photo: 

oh I know - this doesn't look very hilarious.  But it most definitely was - because David Hale was helping with the music and singing time and he was having fun by having the kids sing the same song over and over again while having them sing it in a "voice" - OKAY KIDS - let's sing it like an OPERA singer!  Which is hilarious when a bunch of kids are singing like opera singers and even more hilarious is watching David do it.  But then he started throwing out some really random ones - singing like a cowboy...or was that elvis?  I was so confused right then.  After everything started to have a British accent when David was doing it - so it started to sound like John Wayne, doing Elvis with a cockney accent.  And then the robot voice the kids requested also had a British accent but with blinking lights Dave added by using his hands to make flashing motions and at that point I was nearly falling off my chair with laughter.  (to be honest, in the whole world of church stuff that David should or could be doing - he should only be doing this). 

Then pure bedlam nearly started.  Oh sure, they look pretty ruley here, but as in the other photo you don't quite get the flavor for how funny it was - in this photo you don't quite get the gist of how much we might not have known what we were doing bringing the kids to the stage to practice for the nativity being performed the following Saturday.  Eventually all of the adults figured somehow it would work out in the end and we tried not to micromanage it too much.  But hey look, there were cute donkey ears and sheep ears and angel halos made in previous weeks, so we figured if the costume is good, you're more than half way there right?  Production value being everything really.

PLUS adorable children on a stage not quite knowing what they are doing?  What can be more cute?

Next up came the part of my Sunday that needed to be wholly devoted to homework.  And I spent the rest of the day doing that no joke.  I do not like to start Monday knowing there is anything due.  I like it to be all be finished going into my week or I feel panicky.  I was on my bed all day reading for a looooong time.  Then I was on my computer and ipad typing.  So these were the only photos I took - one of the ipad and one of the wall above my bed.  

Later that night I did sneak in some time on the couch with my daughter and my dogs for a little while.  But not long.  I was up until midnight finishing a very long assessment paper and agonizing over it a little bit.  

Monday morning came a little too early.  I am up at 5:20 on seminary days getting Jordan to seminary by 6:20 (okay we are often a little late - but I TRY) I took this photo on my way to the office.  It was 6:30 on monday and there was already significant traffic considering.  I shot this photo making note of being on the freeway and only going just over 30 miles an hour.   I am not suppose to get to the office this early.  I wish I was just on salary instead of hourly because I just want to get my work done - I do not care about the whole 40 hour work week nonsense.  But with traffic this slow I figured by the time I stopped to get Starbucks hot apple cider near my office I would not be all that early.   

You can see that the sky is starting to significantly lighten by the time I get there.  I love the mid century architecture of this Starbucks on Osborne and 7th street. 

And here is my office on the outside.  By the time I got there it was fully light.  (the starbucks line was super long).  I spent the vast majority of my day inside that office building dealing with whatever it was I was dealing with.  Being a high needs case manager for kids I the majority of my clients are in CPS custody and in a foster home, or being fostered by a relative.  A few are in a group home or therapeutic intervention.  For a few, CPS is not involved.  But I can only think of two clients where CPS is not now nor has ever been involved and they live at home with parents.  In the afternoon on Monday I had a meeting at a therapy office who only deals with children with sexualized behaviors - either victims or perpetrators (keep in mind child perpetrators are also often first victims themselves).  Later I met for another meeting at group home in a stucco neighborhood on the border of Mesa and Apache Junction that looks like all other stucco neighborhoods in AZ.  The only way that you can tell that is a group home down the street there are all those white vans out front.  I can always find the group home if I look for the white vans.  This meeting went well - it's a new client for me.  Sweet girl.  Lots of problems but even though it was overwhelming to look at her records before I met her, I have a feeling she is going to be okay.  It's just a feeling - I don't know, nothing about the situation looks good on paper.  I just feel like she'll make it. 

this was shot on my way home as I neared Tempe and Phoenix again.  Long day.  I needed to get home and take Jordan to her dad's house for the night.  After I got back to my house and picked her up I headed to downtown Phoenix where her dad lives and where I took these photos - I got out of the car and walked around downtown for a little bit while I was talking on the phone and catching up on a some personal calls I missed during the day that I needed to return. 

After I got home I started in on reading homework again.  Although my paper was finished I had some other reading assignments I needed to do.  A huge part of my life right now is learning to assess for mental illness and learning the DSM.

On Tuesday I didn't have to get up quite as early since Jordan was taken to school by her dad.  I slept in clear til 7 am which felt like a luxury!  This is what it looked like when I lifted the blind on my bedroom window (I know I have a lovely view of my neighbors house, but it is the quietest room in the house and I am grateful for that even if the view is the worst in the house).   I love the sunrises and the sunsets in Arizona. 

This day I never made it to the office. I had to head straight to Queen Creek to meet with a foster mom, then I went to Canyon State Academy to visit another client (it's a high school boarder program for wayward boys), and then to a third foster family to end my day.  I also stopped to see a friend who lives out there and to do some homework while I was on my lunch break.

I'm not allowed to take photos of my clients or anything but I did take a photo of the project we worked on at the last foster home - we made these Christmas trees.

This last client of the day lives all the way in San Tan (and hour and 1/2 drive from the office!) and I shot this while I was driving out there just to show you that although I may live in the city, some of the people I help very much DO NOT live in the city.  

This shot was taken out the car window as I was rushing off after this last clients house.  I was going to be late for school and I was a little panicked.  School is in Tempe and at least about an hour away from my last client.  It starts at 6 and I was pulling out of the client's dirt driveway at 5:30.  I may or may not have sped to get to class and in my seat by 6:08.  I was too harried to take photos at school. 

I took this shot waiting for a tuna sandwich at Culvers at 10:24 pm.  I know I should not eating at 10:24 pm but on this day, that's just how it rolled.  I was grateful also for the fact that I drive a prius because right now I am averaging 62 miles per gallon and I calculate it every time i stop for gas (which is not all the frequent!).  I don't see how I can ever drive a non-hybrid again. 

The next day I spent the whole day in the office and I was super super super behind on paperwork all day and I kept trying to get the paper work done but I kept getting phone calls upon phone calls from a seriously crazy person who should not be raising children.  Seriously.  She is so not correct in the head.  Sometimes I find myself zoning out while I am listening to her because I feel completely helpless and frustrated because I want to take her child home with me and never let him go back home and raise him myself and he will be fine I imagine (and even though this is probably not true and he probably would not be 100% okay even in my home because of the abuse he went through earlier in his life - it is not okay for CPS to decide this is where he should live either.  but kinship placements are usually the easiest option and the most legally easy thing to do but I don't agree that they are always best for the kids...clearly they are not!  and clearly I am helpless and I have to listen to her ramble and be crazy for long periods of time and all I can do is mimic to my co-worker Bill that I am slitting my wrists as he walks past my desk for a little bit of levity but it is really not funny and can you feel my panic panic panic?)

Then I walk downstairs and get a snickers and a diet coke because I have to eat my feelings. 

And those post it notes have upwards of 20 tasks that need to be done. And they will no way get done today.  And my boss emails at 4:30 wondering why my notes are not all in for the week and do I have a plan for how they are going to get done?  and I tell her that I will work as late as I need to get them done tonight if she will give me permission but that I also need to attend something one of my kids is doing tonight and so I need to go do that at 6 but I will got back to work afterwards.  And she says okay, but she is not thrilled about it.  And neither am I but I am working as hard as humanly possible.  And at 6 I enter the freight elevator near my desk and go to the parking lot and get my car and drive downtown where I am meeting Jordan and going to see Holden & Noelle's set up where they are selling Noelle's "Sass Kisser" lip products at Phoenix Downtown Market. 

When I stepped outside for the first time today it looked like this - all dark with Santa and his sleigh up there in the sky, slung between the two buildings that are adjacent to mine. 

When I get to Phoenix public market it's a challenge finding parking, but I finally get a spot and then I find them and I find Jordan.  And Jordan is exhausted from her own drama of the day which is trying to finish an online class that Kirk stayed home from work to help her with.  She's really tired and we decide to just eat dinner at the Market.  We stop with Kirk for Shortleash hotdogs before we head back home.  We pop by and see Holden & Noelle twice and they are busy hawking their excellent wares.

As soon as I get home it's about 8:30 and I need to start working again - so a quick bath and then back to work. I finished 2 minutes shy of midnight and fell into bed.

On Thursday morning I drove down Central on my way to work.  I love how the trees almost touch in the center.  Central is really not a bad route to the office.  And it's pretty so that's a bonus.  I hardly had a chance to take photos this day.

After a brief stop at the office it was out to the Juvenille Courthouse at Durango for court hearings for two of my clients.  I was there all morning.  By the time I left shortly after noon I had to take a forced long lunch because of my working the night before (see why I hate working hourly - I would have preferred to just get stuff done! I have so much work to do! but instead, forced long lunch break).  I drove to my favorite restaurant and figured I would read through emails which nobody can fault me for - I was just doing it off the clock and not doing any "billable" work.  I was eating a delicious tuna sandwich while doing so.  I love La Grande Orange.  It's my favorite.  While there I texted one of my friends and asked if she could stop by.  Thinking there was no way she probably could but she said she could swing by.  And then another friend was already there and stopped to eat with us for a while to.  It was an impromptu ladies lunch that probably never would have worked out any other way except that the cosmic universe fell into place, or God was looking out for me and wanted me to a have a bright spot in my day or something.  It was indeed, a bright spot.

After the lunch I had to head out to Mesa again to the same therapy office as earlier in the week where they only counsel the sexualized issue clients.  We had a difficult conversation and I am exhausted trying to figure out how to help this family.  But we'll keep trying.  I make it out of there at 5:30 and head back home to try to make it to Shadow Mountain High School by 6:30 as Jordan is performing tonight for their end of the semester showcase for speech and debate.  The traffic gets ridiculously slow around Tempe for some reason and I snapped one of these photos to show I am going 8 miles an hour for at least a full 20 minutes on the freeway which was maddening (it's the opposite of commuter traffic! how can this be?!).  But I did make it to the school with 10 minutes to spare.

 Not only did Jordan perform wonderfully but her fellow team members did as well and one girl from our ward who Jordan has known since she was in pre-school is also on the team.  (Karalyn if you don't want this picture of yourself on here let me know and I will take it down, but I feel you look very official, and as always, darling).

While Jordan was performing her actual piece I was too emotional to take photos because it always catches me up and makes me cry.  But I did get one of her at dinner afterwards.  We all ended up eating dinner together as a family afterwards at Babbo (are you getting the idea I never cook dinner?  that would be correct, I don't even when my intentions are good).

 What can I tell you about Friday?  Everything about it was not so good.  Lots of driving from place to place.  My first client's RAT tried to climb up my leg.  And I am still massively behind.  I was looking forward to taking one client to the art museum but his guardian cancelled and so I ended up working on administrative stuff all afternoon that I needed to get done.  I left the office still behind for the week and going into another one next week.  I took this shot staring up at the ceiling inside the freight elevator.

I came home and took Jordan to her dad's and then decided to go to a movie.  It was an Italian movie and I was too tired and I feel like I fell asleep several times and I am disappointed that I did that because it was really beautiful.  So maybe I'll see it again sometime.  I just needed a break but I was too tired to really enjoy it. 

Okay so on Saturday I was torn between all the Christmas shopping I haven't done yet, bills I need to pay, homework that is going to take me many hours, and a house that needs attention.  I did a little bit of everything and didn't accomplish much with any of those things.  In the afternoon I had a haircut and color scheduled.  Luckily this gave me a much needed break.  Isn't the world a better place with good hair?  (and yes, this is a "selfie" and no, I do not take them often because as you can see it is impossible to get an angle that doesn't make me look like I'm psychotic...and I might be psychotic now that I think about it so, appropriate)

and then it was off to the church again to help with the nativity and the church party where I took some photos of these cute kids.  then I spent way too much time writing this blog when I should have been doing homework instead.  OH! I went to the grocery store tonight!  I feel like I really accomplished something when I do that!

finally, I will end this with my favorite photo of the week - taken tonight, backstage at the nativity.

sometimes I realize that life is good, even very good, in the midst of all the craziness.



Roxanne Reynoso said...

Oh isn't it so lovely to be the ones having to learn the not yet extinct DSM-IV TR AND the brand new DSM 5?! I'm excited for you and your new career! Also, I love this post and that's a very cute photo of yourself :) I hope all is going well!

Cynthia said...

Love this post. I have missed you this year with busy-ness and the pressures of life. It's good to get a glimpse into your life. I feel a little of your stress and workload just reading it though. Sounds like you are involved with fascinating and hearbreaking work.

Suzanne Barker said...

Enjoyed your post! Maybe I will do something like this sometime...


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