Is Good Work Enough?

UntitledFor those of you who don’t know, I am a community social worker administering services in the form of a community development model. All this really means is I am a well-informed friend and cheerleader to people who don’t have anyone else to play that role for them. I work with some of the most vulnerable and troubled people in the City. I see and hear of violence, addictions, serious mental illnesses, trauma, physical health issues, systemic racism, and many more things on a daily basis.

Those things take a terrible toll on the folk I work with everyday. But, as much as I hate to admit, those things have taken a terrible toll on me over these last three years. I’ve begun to take these things too personally, like these things are happening to a family member or friend. I’ve let my boundaries come down as I’ve gotten to know these people over years and I’ve gotten too close to many clients.

I wouldn’t normally consider this to be a problem in the type of work I am currently doing. As a social worker, trust and positive relationships can be difficult to come by. I am thankful I’ve been able to break down barriers and provide accessible service to those who are mostly forgotten by other systems.

But, back to the problem- recently, I’ve had to deal with the deaths of two clients I became very close with. One was expected and I found easier to deal with. The most recent was very sudden and it has really hit me hard. I visited her in the hospital two days before she passed, she seemed in decent shape and I was really looking forward to her recovery when we could do more things together to increase her quality of life. I thought this trip to the hospital might actually be a good thing as it would force her to address her neglected health and get her the services she didn’t want to admit she needed.

After all the work we did together- renovating her rooming house, planting gardens every year, endless chats, problem solving, and so much more… I find myself wondering:

“what good did it really do? I couldn’t convince her to address her health
conditions. I couldn’t get her think of her future. I couldn’t save her life.”

So, is my good work really enough?

I know people will step in when I relay these concerns and tell me that what I do really does make a difference in lives. But when the vast negatives overshadow those teeny, tiny victories it really makes you question yourself and the systems you work in. Is all this heartache and acquisition of vicarious trauma really making the world a better place for anyone? Am I working myself into burnout for the good of others? If someone benefits, I’m happy to take on the work and the trouble. But, how will I ever know?

How will I know that good work is enough to make a difference in these lives?


Musicians and Cats Being Sexy (or trying to be anyway)

Here’s a silly post as a prelude to a more serious one to come.

Men and their cats. Is there anything more sexy? Okay… there are many things more sexy. But this collection of musicians with their kitty cats still makes me feel all giddy and only some slight attraction.

jacksonThis was probably not that out of the ordinary for Michael.

mccartneyWhile doing this photo search, I came across a photo of every one of the Beatles with a cat.

morrisseyThere are so many photos of Morrissey with cats that there is an entire Tumblr devoted to it.

stewartRod Stewart. If you think he’s sexy when he’s singing, check him out naked, in bed, with a siamese cat. /Swoon

bowieAnd saving the best for last. I don’t know what or why this is happening… but I’m so glad it did.
Thanks Dave & Kitty Stardust, for all that you do.

What I’m doing with my extra hour this weekend

It’s everyone’s favourite time of year! Daylight savings! Okay… that could be a slight overstatement. But it is the “fall back” time of year where we supposedly get an extra hour of daylight. Or more aptly known for getting an extra hour of drinking and partying at the pub. Amirite?

Here’s what I’m doing with my “extra hour” today:

1. I’m continuing to nurse a two-day hangover, acquired on Halloween night. I definitely lived up to my costume- Holly Golightly. I played the charming, party girl that night and payed for it the next day- regrets and headaches. Oy! I might be getting too old to drink like I’m 20 years old. Time for this ol’ girl to give this liver a much needed rest.
2. Listening to the Mood Booster playlist on Spotify. Already I’ve heard The Jackson 5, Presidents of the United States of America, Pharrell, Fleetwood Mac, and the list goes on. Great music to wash dishes to… which brings me to my next point.

3. I’m giving my apartment a long overdue cleaning and organizing. I’ve been a bit slack on the keeping things in their places these days. That’s what happens when you live alone, no one to complain that you left your hair dryer on the floor again or that yarn is literally EVERYWHERE.

4. I’ve been laughing my ass off at this site today- this really is the worst cat.

       Worst Cat Ever.

5. Finally, I’m taking the time to brew some real coffee today. Boy, do I need it. On weekdays I usually make a single cup in the Keurig with the reusable cup. It’s fast and convenient for someone who hates getting ready to leave the house. But, when I have the time, I like to use the good beans- I’ve been using these from Fernwood Coffee. Once you buy decent beans… nothing is quite the same. Today I brewed a couple cups in the Bodum French Press and drank it out of my huge Le Creuset mug. Ahhh. Simple pleasures.

    And the design of the packaging is just beautiful to boot.

Hope you’re all enjoying your Sunday. What are you doing with the extra hour?