Heart Moments #NecessaryWork

I have a tendency to listen more than I advise. It makes me smile, being aware that I am capable of that particular attribute. #lifelessons

Volunteering has opened my eyes to so much more than an individual’s present circumstances. I volunteer with the Child and Adolescent population in different roles. Lately, my work has included working with teens that are recovering addicts. All male and of all races. They have my heart. It amazes me that so many are addicted, so young, so many trying to cope with life, their way.

I do not see myself as the typical counselor. As I journey towards licensure I pray that I do not lose sight of caring. The type of intimate caring with your heart that becomes easy to lose in all the rules, policies and regulations. I tend to mother first. I am quiet more than intrusive. I have learned in the most difficult way to be quiet, to listen.

It becomes laborious to think outside the box when policies and set therapeutic techniques are the norm. We cannot touch, hug, and show any kind of affection. We know not to preach, fuss, and become a parent to them. These rules are for my protection and quite different for me for I am a mother and I was raised old school in a two parent home. (Most of them just need a good switch and their mouths washed out with soap. I digress. Lol.)

One day while visiting the park, I listen to Brandon. He is 15 years old, Black, appears kind, great dimples. I ask, “When did you become aware of your family’s use of drugs?” He responds, “Four. I was four years old.” My heart breaks. He has seen a lot. He has become conducive to his environment. He has done more criminally than a grown man has. He is 15.  Me, turning away because I am about to cry, “I would hug you but we can’t do that. You know there is more out here. More to life.” Him: “I like my environment Ms. Michelle.” Me, heart completely shattered: “I know. I know you do.”

Our conversation bothered me so much. Why should I be this bothered? He is receiving necessary help. I find out that this is his second time in. For weeks, the word “environment” and his predicament weighed heavy on me. I called my older sons, Damien and Darius. I questioned them on implementing a journal technique, getting the clients to write. Both respond: “Not sure why you think writing is going to help them kids.” It kind of hurts when your children tell you your thinking is off base. The more I learn of Brandon’s life, the more I felt helpless. My thoughts, he is receiving what he needs. He has counselors. He is going to his NA meetings. He is going to be fine.

Yet, the way he talked, his topic of conversation did not change. He was still going to rob people, commit home invasions, and maybe not get high as much but he would still carry out the same behavioral actions. The more I kept telling myself I could not improve the system the more depressed I became. Helping is about change. Volunteering is about improvement.

As God worked my heart, an idea began to form, EFL, Equine Facilitated Therapy. A proven therapeutic technique. I spoke with my Director. She gave me the go ahead to pursue. Throughout all the required business details, I kept quiet. I just knew this was going to fall through. I presented my proposal as a recreational activity. The Director accepted as an additional therapeutic technique for the Adolescent clients! My family responds: “Good, Momma.” I know this is huge; pretty mega. I laugh and I am so giddy.

Oh, how I wish I could share photos. I love confidentiality; I do but man I wish I could share photos. First session: the experience is exciting and unbelievable. Brandon, leader, aka tough guy is the most fearful. Kenny is as well. Remember, all these teens have some sort of record. Yet, they are quiet, scared, and respectful of these great creatures.  Of the twelve, Brandon and Kenny hide behind me, and counselors whenever the horses move. At least eight, take to the horses. They are working as a team to guide, walk and command the horses. Kenny, the one so afraid is able to lead and command the toughest horse there.

As we are watching him, his counselor says to me: “He has been shot twice. Gangs are trying to kill him. He is a tough one. His dad abused him. His mom doesn’t want him.” As she is speaking, I am watching this child smile; laugh, talk and I cannot hold back my tears. Me: “I need to take the time to read their files.” Her: “You haven’t? You put all this together without reading their files. Look around you. I have never seen these boys this way. Good job.”  I smile more, whisper to God a thank you and take more pictures. Brandon, my ringleader has not taken to any of the lessons given. He actually has the other clients surrounding him for protection. Smh, awesome leadership skills. He states he does not want to come back. (The EFL therapy is mandatory!) However, our second session he is riding. He even coaches and reassures me as I ride.

EFL is more for the teens but as I learn and bond with the horses, I am learning so much more about myself. At times, the sessions are so intensifying…its overwhelming to come face to face with your past, your Self in front of others. What I am learning about me at 46 years of age….I am a good person. That although I have been told otherwise and been made to feel inferior over the years I know that my heart is pure. I am proud of me, of who I am, of where this journey is leading me and it is wonderful to be okay with myself. #becoming

The responsibility of communicating with an animal that weighs up to 1600 pounds and it is just as furious about surviving as we are is humbling phenomenal.  I come home completely drained from the experience, happy. The emotional, mental and spiritual content, connection is difficult to express, another reason I have not blogged for a while.

Listen to the nudges, pricks, ideas you receive. They should cause us to go deeper, reach further. The possibility of change begins within us. Do the necessary work, it will influence the future. We can.

Love the journey,

A.Michelle!

 

 

 

You are beautiful

 

I have this intrinsic viewpoint of myself. I believe it to be more humble than critical, an innocent naiveté. I speak and communicate with strangers yet it still blows my mind when others want to be a part of my world. All right, I rip myself apart. You do too. I am friendly enough, very independent and make my own way but not at the expense of others.

I have been teaching for the last three months. I have prepared myself so that I will not fall in love with these teenagers. My expectation when transitioning to teaching was and is to gain their respect not to be their friend nor to gain love. My big picture is to finish graduate school, pass the exam and achieve licensure as a counselor. I am a year and half away from the complete process.

I enter the teaching field based on a suggestion, good advice, a solid “to do” until graduate school is completed. My wall is up, my heart guarded and my emotions are in check. I want you to know these children, these teens that are deemed “at-risk”, who are less than respectful, that are mean, they are hurtful and hurting….they come find me now. They seek me out. The ones I have had removed from the classroom. The same ones who call me names, the ones who walk out of the classroom, and the ones who have fought one another in front of me…..they purposely come find me in this huge school. It is a new semester and I have a free fourth block every other day. It is my planning period. I expect them to ask me for something or to do something and I hear, “We don’t want anything. We miss you. You mind if we sit in here with you?” I breathe, we sit, and they talk. My heart melts….I have no clue why they want to be here with me. The children that are expelled….referred over to alternative school they search for little ole me. They come in between classes to speak, to give a hug, to smile and just to let me know they made it to school. It truly amazes me.

I have teen females telling me their troubles. How being girls in their household leads to violent acts, how they are touched inappropriately and how, “Mom has had three different boyfriends. She is pregnant now.” They tell me how being gay and sexually active at 14 years old is, “what I know. I know how men are. I see what my mom goes through. How she takes his side. How she did not come out her room when he was beating me. She threw me out. I mean I’m back now and he is gone.” Her head down and my response: “Our children should come first.” Her: “We should.” I just hug her because I do not know what else to do. I want to bring her home with me. Not just her, all of them. Oh how my heart aches for they go right back into the same environment.

As a counselor, as a mother I know how to do this. As a teacher, I am amazed, blindsided, lost, and heartbroken. I have so many questions. This hurt, their hurt is on a grand scale and it is a lot of them. Her story is not new to me and her story has happened to so many of them in this school. I completed an essay and had an open discussion with my professor. I ask, “Why do they share with me? I do not know them. They are students not necessarily mine. I just got there.” Her response: “You are trusting. That is what they see. You’ll figure out what to do.”

While I am trying to figure out the best way to aid, help, assist who I am does not stop becoming, does not stop progressing. My soul stretches. The gray hair multiplies before my next salon appointment. I tend to wear my glasses more than my contacts. (I think they hide my crying, red eyes better.) I do not see any increased worry lines. I still manage to smile. I have to. I love on my children even the more. I am ever so grateful for my parents, my family and my extended family.

Wednesday of this week, I am waiting in the line at the grocery store talking with my Brutus, my youngest son. An older woman walks up to me: “I love your hair. I absolutely love it. You know we spend so much money on our hair. I know you not spending $300.00 on this and it is beautiful. Do not change. God has blessed us as a people with so much and we try our best to make it into something else. I have dreads and people do not even do that naturally anymore. We so quick to hop away from us. This is what I love to see. I am not going to stop at your hair. I looked at your skirt, beautiful. Your shoes, beautiful. You are doing it and doing it divinely. I had to come and speak to you. I watched you talk to your son. You, your you is just beautiful. Keep it up. Don’t change!” I thank her tremendously. Yet, I still wonder why she and others open up to me. I tell my daughter the conversation and I ask her, “Women will compliment me quicker than men. This woman compliments me and I turn heads but not one man spoke to me. Why is that?” My Autumn, (she is 12) hunches her shoulders: “She is right. You are attractive Momma. Maybe men see more and are intimidated.” My resolve, she is watching me too.

We reflect what we want to portray yet it is what others see that is /will be our greatest impact. Continue to believe more of who you are rather than in what you are trying to do. God has this God-way of making it all work for our good. Your efforts will impact, direct lives to overcome, have others stand strong, motivate change and encourage others not to quit.Be beautiful in every way. Let them see you, your beautiful you.

Light the way,

A.Michelle!