This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.

This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.
25 Jan, 2017

Putting Community in Self Care

By | 2017-01-25T14:58:36+00:00 January 25th, 2017|Categories: Activism|Tags: , |0 Comments

Since going to the Women’s March this past Saturday, I’m more dedicated than ever to fighting for Social Justice, Reproductive Justice, and Racial Justice. And since the March, the Global Gag Rule was reinstated, denying women access to safe family planning, including the option of abortion, the House of Representatives passed HR7 (and if it passes the Senate and is signed into law, it will make the Hyde Amendment permanent), an executive order to reinstate the Keystone XL and Dakota Pipeline was enacted, getting visas to travel to Muslim countries will become more difficult, we’re building walls as security, and our national parks are being asked to remove tweets about climate change.

We have a lot of work to do. That work is going to be draining, and everyone is talking about self care.

But organizer B. Loewe writes, “The problem with self care is that there is an underlying assumption that our labor is draining. The deeper question is how do we shape our struggles so that they are life-giving instead of energy-taking processes. When did activities that are aimed to move us closer to freedom stop moving us?” These are good questions. Burnout impacts how we function at an individual, community, and systemic level, and can result in not only emotional but also physical trauma. The Women’s March, rallies in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and more are life-affirming to many, despite the dismal experiences that lead up to these events.

At the start of 2017, I made a pledge to care for myself more fiercely than I’ve done in the past. More exercise, more healthy eating, more pampering, more social media detoxing, more travel for pleasure. But I’ve been revisiting what I’ve said about self care in the past, and how many feel that it isn’t an option for themselves and their communities, and I’ve been making some gradual shifts in identifying what self care means to me.

While meeting with one of my clients, she shared that she helped organize vigil for communities impacted by the 2015 shooting at Planned Parenthood in Colorado . In fact, she said that her way to caring for herself is by caring for others as well. Cooking for people, helping around the home, running errands. Things that we normally associate with piling more onto our plates. Caring for others was emotionally fulfilling to her, in spite of whatever struggles she may be  facing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what self care will mean for the women, communities, and organizations impacted by harmful legislation during the next four years. And when I think of what I really want in self care, a massage is far down on the list of priorities (though they are nice). What I’ve been missing in my self care is community, because I’m going to need my community more than ever as I do this work.

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18 Jan, 2017

Why Are You Marching?

By | 2017-01-18T10:09:27+00:00 January 18th, 2017|Categories: Activism|Tags: , , |0 Comments

“Few times in a nation’s history is the conscience of its citizens shocked and awakened – across racial, economic, generational and even ideological – lines. Times when the collective consciousness of a people screams – and demands without apology – that it’s time for a change, that things must be different and that it must start today.” ~ Marc H. Morial, “When People Ask: Why Do We March?”

If you’re like me, you’re still going through the 7 stages of grief to process the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election. For many people who share my political views, there was a sadness in the air, unlike any other period I’ve witness before the days, weeks, and month after a presidential election. It feels like the progress the United States has made towards more inclusiveness is tumbling down before our eyes, and the fact that this week started with the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and ending with the presidential inauguration of the most unlikeliest and most unqualified person to take the position is a hard pill to swallow.

And if you’re also like me, your inbox is filled with messages from local and national organizations who plan to be at The Women’s March, scheduled for Saturday, January 21st, 2017 in Washington, DC, and in many cities nationally and overseas. The fact that 200 buses have applied for parking for the Inauguration ceremony on Saturday, but over 1200 buses applied for parking the next day for the March  (in addition to over 600 Marches happening simultaneously) is an indicator that this weekend is going to memorable.

While the March itself isn’t exclusively focusing on reproductive health, rights, and justice, it’s important to remember that the day after The Women’s March, January 22nd, marks the 44th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade (1973), which made abortion legal in the United States. According to a newly released report from the Guttmacher Institute, the U.S. abortion rate hit an historic low in 2014. Some factors include better access to birth control methods and a push for comprehensive sex education, but when states have enacted 231 abortion restrictions since 2010 , the fate of the Affordable Care Act hanging in the balance, and Planned Parenthood gearing up for another government showdown, there’s a lot to be raising our voices for.

But if you’re definitely like me, you probably debated if you actually want to go. The inauguration is on Friday, and the March is the next day, so what would be the point? When I signed up to take one of the buses down to DC, I still was undecided. When I began to hear rumblings about the March, I saw what other women and girls of color saw: a major lack of intersectionality. I didn’t want to attend a March in New York City, let alone DC, if the interests of people who look like me were not going to be centered.

(And the fact that it was initially called the Million Women March? Really?)

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15 Jun, 2016

“My Name is…, and I Represent…”

By | 2016-10-25T01:47:59+00:00 June 15th, 2016|Categories: Activism, Program Design & Evaluation, Social Work|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Blog Post

 

Does you voice matter less when you’re not part of an organization?

This became part of my consciousness back in 2012 when I attended the Strong Families Summit. I was invited to assist with Strong Families’ social media team to highlight the goals of the Initiative, the participants’ general feedback, and how the Initiative can move forward.

As attendees introduced themselves, they shared the basics (name, organization, preferred gender pronouns, and their intention for being present at the Summit), and as they shared the name of their organization, there were a few attendees that said:

“My name is [insert name], and I’m representing myself”   or

“I’m [insert name], and I work with [insert name of organization], but I’m speaking on behalf of myself”.

Of course, in discussions around issues pertaining to sexual health and reproductive justice, or any topic that may be controversial, it’s important to raise our own voices. It’s also important to be mindful that what we say may have an impact on whatever group or organization we’re representing.

When I was part of an organization as a front line social worker and direct service provider, my actions and interactions with clients either had a positive or negative effect not only my clients’ impression of me but also that of my organization. Now, as someone who runs her own business, I’ve been able to reflect on the fact that I’m fortunate enough to be representing myself apart from an agency or organization. I’m able to flow in and out of multiple spaces and can be a social worker, program designer, speaker, or program evaluator at any given time, and I can be known for one aspect or all aspects of what I do.

Knowing this, I’m also mindful in how I represent my business in person, through email, or on social media, can impact who wants to work with me as a client. We definitely see this in today’s political climate, sports, and entertainment industries where people quickly lose their endorsements and support.

But back to the original question:

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14 Jan, 2016

How to Manage the Growing Pains of Being an Expert

By | 2016-10-25T01:47:59+00:00 January 14th, 2016|Categories: Activism, Program Design & Evaluation, Social Work|Tags: , |2 Comments

 

At the 2015 American Evaluation Association (AEA) conference in Chicago, I attended a session called “Meet the Pros: Intermediate Consulting Skill-Building Self-Help Fair”. It was a 45-minute skills-building session that featured experienced independent evaluation consultants (including Norma Martinez-Rubin of Evaluation-Focused Consulting, Jessica Pugil of The Working Partner, Susan Wolfe of CNM Connect, Laura Keene of Keene Insights, and Stephanie Evergreen of Evergreen Data) who provided insights and advice on lessons-learned on managing a consulting business.

It was a can’t-miss session for me, so much so that I had to get up at 5am, leave my AirBnB near the University of Illinois at Chicago’s campus at 5:45, grab breakfast around 6:15 and wait outside the session room by 6:30. Luckily for me, most people don’t show up for a 7am session, and I was the first one in line.

Set up in the style of speed dating, participants circulated to different topic areas (strategic planning for longevity, managing community dynamics, finding spaces to work outside of the home, how to select projects, and branding). Each facilitator also provided a useful handout that outlined their expertise and recommendations for managing a consulting business.

Compared to attending my first AEA conference in 2014, I strategically chose to attend sessions that centered mostly on independent consulting and business management, program design, and data visualization. I also chose sessions that were more skill-building focused as opposed to panels, listening to research findings, and the like. Starting a business can be rewarding and stressful. Not only are you putting yourself out there as an expert, you have to do everything that comes with managing a business (including paying yourself and employees, reviewing contracts, getting insurance, and the like).

For the longest, I felt more comfortable in my role as an activist, and then eventually a social worker. Given the beginnings of the profession, social work’s ethical principles are in alignment with being an activist. While program evaluation is a requirement in the social work profession, I sometimes look at the practice as being completely separate from social work (and this is in spite of studying it as a graduate social work student. I’ve written several blog posts on how I became a program evaluator and a reproductive justice social worker. It’s an ever-evolving process, and I still strategize on how to integrate my social justice side with my analytical side.

Whether you’re a social worker, evaluator, activist, or occupy another role, there will be times where you feel you don’t measure up. Attending all the sessions, reading all the books, and networking with all the people can’t erase those feelings that you may not know what you’re doing. In reality, you know exactly what you need to know at this moment. How can you leverage the skill sets you have, and managing those icky feelings that come up when you don’t feel as legit as you’d like? Those feelings are merely your inner critic, and that voice will come up no matter what you do. Here are some ways I’ve found to manage it: (more…)

10 Dec, 2014

What Do You Do When Self Care Isn’t An Option?

By | 2016-10-25T01:48:01+00:00 December 10th, 2014|Categories: Activism|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” ~ Audre Lorde

Today is International Human Rights Day. First commemorated in 1950, International Human Rights Day brings attention to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all nations.  The 2014 theme, “Human Rights 365”, celebrates the fundamental principle that everyone is entitled to the full range of human rights at all times, that human rights belong equally to each of us, and these rights bind us together as a global community.

Given the pain, frustration, and unrest that have resulted in protests in recent weeks around the United States to bring awareness to the increase of policing tactics against communities of color, the constant attacks on women’s reproductive access, continuous news about hate crimes against members of the LGBTQ community, the debates surrounding immigration rights, and countless other stressors on marginalized communities, the state of basic human rights around the world is nothing short of dismal.

As social workers, counselors, and therapists, we are receptacles of our clients’ trauma. We encourage clients to work through a traumatic experience by giving voice to it, but what ends up hopefully being a cathartic release for our clients, leaves us literally holding our clients’ trauma in our hands.

As teachers, agency or nonprofit workers, or community activists, the well-being of our communities is a priority for us. We conduct needs assessments and speak to our students and community members about what needs to change within the school system, agency, or community. What ends up being a positive way for community members to voice their concerns can leave us drained because what needs to change—often at a systemic and policy level—can feel daunting.

When your communities are constantly under attacked, when there seems to be no end in sight, and when your fundamental rights are being taken away, what do you do when self care isn’t an option for you?

When times get tough, I rely on self care activities and rituals that I’ve developed for myself. I mention self care, especially to service providers and activists, because I believe that you can’t raise your voice for others if you’re not able to care for yourself.

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