Month: October 2012

I am in control

You stay in control

I was lazing around on the Internet and i came across the above quote from my favourite author Paulo Coelho,  i thought to share. I am a firm believer in the notion that I control my own destiny and this quote affirmed that for me. At times when we feel down and out it is so easy to feel like we are no longer in control. Then we surrender to “fate”and that means we are basically saying whatever happens happens. I feel this is taking the easy way out…this is surrendering responsibility of our lives to an unknown force,then we sit back and do nothing. That way we don’t have the blame if something goes wrong….mmmh wouldn’t that be nice. To just blame fate for everything….

Well I am learning everyday that I am responsible for my thoughts which in turn inform my actions. Yes in some way our lives are predestined, but our everyday actions make us who we are and we actually might not get to our destiny if we keep making wrong decisions. So its my choice to decide what is happening to me, my choice to decide whether I like that situation or not and then my choice to leave or stay in that situation. It is my choice to decide to do the right thing, to choose the left turn and not the right. Look at it this way, you might get lost but then you went on an adventure trying to find your way. A chance to learn.

I remain in control….I like knowing that I chose this path and I can answer for it. Surrendering to ‘”fate”means not being able to explain how it happened. I guess I am a control freak in that aspect.

So thanks to Paulo for the above quote and for reminding me that I shape my own destiny. This means my circumstances do not define me, do not cripple me because I can take steps to change them. If  you are not happy with a situation do something to change it and if you cannot change it pray for the serenity to accept it. Life is an everyday challenge but for someone who loves challenges I say bring it on….

Dress Code….None!!!

Today was not a good day for social work. It was windy and cold, another Cape Town moody day. Really when is this weather going to turn around?? It is October for crying out loud. Anyway it got me thinking do social workers really have a dress code??? I was standing by my wardrobe debating whether to wear tights or thick socks but whatever i was going to choose needed to go with flat shoes!!!

In the end i settled for a plain pair of black pants, red top and matching jacket. I chose a pair of socks to keep out the cold and wore my favorite pair of flat pumps. Does not sound glamorous does it??? Well in my day i have come to appreciate the value of flat shoes….if you recall my article “A day in the life” you would remember that I am often chasing down moody teenagers and trying to put out fires (sometimes literally),… well in this case I mean stop fights. So high heels stopped making sense to me. Besides being office bound all day really makes one choose a more laid back wardrobe.

I love to see social workers who come for meetings or those I meet on the off-chance that I have to run to the Children’s Court, all dolled up in their matching outfits and killer heels. However most social workers are very practical in their dress sense. Its funny that before I became a social worker I pictured social workers as the conservative types who wear practical court shoes and spectacles. Looking all serious and business-like. Then I became one and realised its an old stereotype and today’s social workers are young and hip… mostly well dressed and fashionable. And yet they remain business-like and are also taken seriously.

I believe one’s appearance is the first impression people are going to get from you!! So even if I cannot wear heels everyday I try to look fashionable in flats and still wear some make-up. Not to forget that dazzling smile one greets clients with everyday….our smiles adorn us more than our clothes can ever manage to do.

So in a nutshell social work does not have a dress code. I wear what is comfortable and practical yet still fashionable. As long as one remains professional…not showing tattoos or wearing extremely revealing clothes to maintain the dignity of the profession. And I might add tattoos in an environment with young impressionable adolescents need to stay covered, next thing you will see them with identical ones. I speak from experience because once I had a child copy my hairstyle and dress style to the last dimension, we looked like twins. Lucky it was a good image,not a bad one.

Stay sassy!!!!

Comfy is always best

Be Like an Eagle…Fly high and Grab your dreams

Soar Like an Eagle

Do you ever feel disconnected??Like you are on to something, you have an idea but somehow its not connecting with your life? But the idea keeps coming back forcing you to question where you stand.

I have often felt this way, in fact i feel it right now. I sometimes get the feeling that i should be doing something with my life, something more than what I am doing. Does this make me sound dissatisfied?? I have a fountain of ideas and granted if i were to act on all of them I would probably be crazy or on the flipside I would have made necessary changes in my career life or personal life. So how does one know their purpose or whether they have reached a certain point in their lives??

I know I was born to soar, I have an eagle spirit and I just want to spread my wings and fly as high as I can. So when opportunities present themselves I often jump at them, im full of ideas, i lose sleep planning and jotting down only to wake up with a more realistic stance that ok maybe not. So what is that voice? The voice of reason or im being a coward at times??? Realising your own limitations is not exactly cowardice but I wonder what is the worst that could happen if i just try putting this one idea into action???

I know i am currently in social work but my personal ambition tells me this will not be enough until I can specialise on a particular field,become a specialist in one thing not everything and then do that to the best of my ability. What does this entail, STUDY!!!! Ok so yes I am ambitious and I want to study further and go into private practise, make social work my business. Or take it to developmental standards and open an NGO.

Bottom line there is no limit to what one can dream of becoming. It is what one does when that idea comes. Am I ready to take action or am I waiting by to allow someone to hand me something that will change my life? i have seen in my short life….26 years now, that this does not happen often. If you want something go out there and get it. But first know what it is you want, it makes it easier.

So lesson for today: be like an eagle. Soar as high above the ground as you can, scan the earth for what you want and go in to grab it….Have the confidence to go for your dreams.

DOnt be scared to grab what u want
Go in for the kill....

A day in the life…..

I just thought about how different a typical day in my life would be from someone in a different field of social work than mine. So i thought what’s a typical day in the life of a residential social worker like…. for those in different areas of social work who might wonder!!! Well first of all a day in my life is a blessing and a curse..all in one.

What is residential care one might ask?This is when a social worker works with children or adults who are in an institution such as a children’s home or shelter. This means the child/adult resides there and the programme caters for their accommodation needs as well as all their other basic needs. So im one of those social workers fortunate enough to be office bound and working with children residing on the premises until they can leave care. My particular residential care programme caters for behavior problem children….which makes it all the more interesting and different from someone dealing with regular kids. I shall explain….

So i wake up in the morning, if it is a Monday i cant wait to get to the office because I have no idea what was taking place all weekend. In most cases its chaotic during weekends considering my age group 11-18, yes your adolescents!!!! So i get to the office and before i even get a chance to get my first cup of coffee im greeted with an incident. Two girls absconded over the weekend!!!!*sigh* Now this is a normal occurrence in residential care. When a child absconds they go off the premises without permission and they do not come back. When i first started my first thought would be “are they missing”, “we need to find them”!!!!  Until i learnt that these young adults are so eager for freedom that they go out on weekends to have some fun and come back late Monday afternoon. So then I stopped worrying so much about searching for them, but what if one day this is not the case??? What if one day something has in fact happened???

Anyway so i have a discussion with the child care worker on duty and find out what went on during the weekend and all the other details. I take time to read the record book, which contains the record of all the happenings everyday. My task then is to inform all the outside social workers of the absconders that the children are gallivanting around town somewhere and need to be found and brought back( lucky this is not my task, the external social worker has to do it). So then I inform the families and ask them to keep a look out but these children seldom run back to their families. Its usually boyfriends and friends they run to. This takes me about 2 hours to complete (discussion, reading and then phoning around). Lets not forget explaining to the external social worker how the child managed to abscond in the first place…oh joy!!!!they never get that these children ask to take an ïnnocent walk” to the shop and then never come back.

Finally i can have a cup of coffee and get on with the day’s work. My day then consists of ensuring that the children remaining in care are all fine and there is nothing that needs following up ( medical check-ups, school, social work reports, letters to organisations for various things,intake meetings with social workers bringing children who want to be placed). I do this and sort out any loose ends. The phone calls also come in during all this and I have to address the same concerns from schools, external social workers,parents and guardians. And then before you know it its lunch time.

Do i get a lunch time in a children’s home? Yes about 30mins if i leave the premises. But if i do not leave then my lunch hour is filled with phone calls, dealing with any concern a child feels needs attention now and not 30 mins later. If you are present then you are there, deal with it. I don’t complain, i love what i do.

After lunch is probably my best time.., counselling sessions with the girls. This is our bonding time, our time to share the emotional and the good. This is when the tissue box comes for the tears or when we are having quiet sessions drawing or writing how we feel. i love this time. This is when I feel useful to the children i work with, this is when i dig deep and get to the source of why the child is not at home with the parents and deal with whatever feelings come out. Its also when i feel most drained if i cannot do anything to take away one’s sorrow, but sharing always goes a long way. So i can see about three an afternoon, 30 mins-45mins each and the day is done.

This is a typical good day by the way….without the tantrums, without the suicide threats and emergency trips to the hospital, without the fights and having to spend hours breaking them, without the irrational external social workers who come and make decisions for the children that are not in their best interests,without having to answer questions like why did my mother die,without the moods from the teenagers when they are on their period and having to be sworn at.

This is definitely an example of a good day.

Still smiling……

Where are social workers in South Africa

Searching for you

I am an avid social networking fan  and I find this hobby of mine to be enlightening as well as giving me an opportunity to link with individuals who think the same as me or even differently. One thing for sure is that i am always inspired and stimulated. However in my everyday runs and walk ins along the twitter streets i have been disappointed to not find any South African social workers talking about social work issues on the web. Am i missing something or is there a secret social work forum i dont know about?

Im not complaining about my increasing number of overseas social workers who tweet about their challenges in the profession everyday. My twitter profile usually consists of my everyday social work challenges and highlights too as i have seen it is a good way to interact with other social workers. But i have found the gap of social workers from South Africa or even the  African continent!!! Why is this???

I would love to hear the  social work view point from developing nations, lets be honest our challenges are different. I twatch (watch on twitter) my British social work counterparts talking about how CP (child protection) is the most brain frying type of social work one can do, the one that can easily lead you to the path of burn out. In USA they talk of mental health as the number one problem they face. I would like to engage with South African social workers. What are our challenges???

My guess….poverty will top the list and our social work will be more developmental. But this is my view!!! Where are the African social workers? I once joined the social worker forum in South Africa, thats about the only group of African social workers I have seen and interacted with.But are there any blogs?? Tweeter handles of social workers in Africa???

I AM ONE!!! but i wish there were more of us sharing the beauty and pain of this profession. If you are one of these please follow me @gettyhottie. Lets get interacting.