Octavia was nervous, but came out of her shell to shine bright and let others know that anything is possible. Octavia is a youth ambassador who worked hard t…
Octavia, Youth Ambassador, was brave enough to share her story at the 2013 IL Youth Retreat. Hear her story. We are very proud of her and all of the foster youth who work hard despite what life gave her!!
Hey, hi, hello! My name is Octavia D Lacks, and I am the newest Youth Ambassador for the Child Welfare Resource Center. I have been tasked to write for this blog (Life is Transition) indefinitely! Meaning, I get to ramble on in a post in hopes that you read and enjoy it, which you will, because I am awesome. Hmm, so a little about me; I am 18 years old, I turn 19 on October 27th (hint hint, J), I am in college majoring in Criminal Justice, and I have been in foster care since I was 14 years old.
Enough about my level of awesomeness, and more about you; the youth! In order not to recreate the wheel, I figured I would skip what a “youth” is, what “transitioning” is and all that jazz because you know this, because you are brilliant! And also because if you have read the introduction post from Chris Nobles about 2 years ago, he covered it all. J
So, in talking about life transitions, I figured we could talk about the transition from high school into college. The homework load is different, the teachers are different, and the number of times you actually come to class matters in a different way. See in high school, it was mandated for you to show up to school on time and come to class, but in college you can miss all the classes you want. In college, the professors don’t care if you miss class, but they aren’t going to reteach material; and it is your job to go to them for the work and information you missed. Another thing about college, if you decide you want to sleep that extra hour and a half enough times in one semester, you will be dropped from class! Bummer. $600 for a class only to be dropped from it because your desire to sleep in out-weighed your will to show up to class. In conclusion, don’t skip class!
Join clubs, stay involved, ask questions, study, make new friends, if you have the opportunity to study abroad; do so. College is a challenge, but I am sure your life has thrown more difficult challenges at you, and if you have made it this far, you can make it through college.
Post number 1 from me, is complete! Any questions/comments or topics about transitioning you want discussed on here can be sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be anonymously answered in a post on the blog.
Life is a continuous transition; remember that your reaction to the transition will help constitute how smoothly it is.
Colin, North East YAB and YAB Core Member, wrote this following the YAB Summit:
As you know, life is transition. Whether you’re 15 or 55, life is constantly evolving and throwing new obstacles is your path. No one knows this better than system youth, especially YAB youth. We try our best to adapt and adjust and we use whatever tools that we have available. In YAB, we use our tools of experience, partnering with professionals and much more to assist ourselves and our peers with the transitions of life.
This why I love YAB Statewide get togethers. Whether its the Summit, the Retreat or even a quarterly Statewide meeting, this is where the most fun and most amazing things happen. Every person’s story and situation is different. Some youth, like myself, may have had to grow up quickly and never fully enjoy the treasures of childhood. Some youth may have been abused, neglected or even forgotten about by the system until they found YAB. But at the end of the day, especially at big statewide functions, none of that matters. When we get together we get work done, but we also have fun, we network and socialize, but most importantly we pay it forward. When we get together we are NOT our problems, or our past. We are one. We are a group of youth and young adults whose sole intention is to better the lives of our peers and even of those whom we may never meet, but know that their time in care is better than ours was. We give a voice to those who need it, and we make sure that needs are met. Because after all, It’s not about us without us.
My favorite animal would be a camel. “A camel’s hump is a storehouse of fats which provides energy during its long journey in the desert…” For me a camel represents a long journey through the desert of life. At times there will seem like you will never reach a resting point, your destination. But you do. My ‘hump’ of energy stored during the journey is God and all the people who have never walked away or given up on me. That has been my support and foundation to help me go a little further than I even thought I could. The desert doesn’t last forever; therefore the trials can’t last forever.
What is one change you would like to see in the system?
One change I would like to see in the system is more foster homes offering age-appropriate freedoms to older youth. Older youth make up a huge population of the foster care system; if they aren’t placed into foster homes they are placed in group homes, shelters or where ever there is room. For me that breaks my heart. Whether a youth is 8 years old or 17 years old; they need the family connection. The family connection provides a sense of support, stability and guidance that helps the youth make an easy transition into adulthood.
What advice would you give to youth in care who want to go to college?
Never think that you don’t have the capacity or you aren’t good enough for college. If college is the route you want to take, take it. There are so many grants and financial aid available including the Chafee Grant for youth in care. Don’t let finances or anything else distract you from going to college, if that’s what you want to pursue.
What is your favorite Youth Advisory Board memory?
My favorite Youth Advisory Board memory; hmmm, there are so many! I guess one of the things I remember most is when I first started YAB in 2011, working with Justin to plan a Stakeholders Banquet with other members of SC YAB. It was a great experience to work with other youth (my peers) and working with Justin. He was fun, motivating, encouraging and very informative about anything IL. I learned so many things about myself working with Justin. Plus, it helped me network to find out about the position I am currently in as a Youth Ambassador! J
Octavia Lacks grew up in Littlestown, Pennsylvania; known for only having one stoplight. Although Octavia grew up in a small town, her heart belongs to the city.
Octavia entered foster care when she was 14 years old. After 6 foster home placements, she has found a sense of stability in the foster home she is currently in. Octavia plans to stay in foster care until she is 21. She is currently pursuing Supervised Independent Living to get her own apartment. Octavia is a freshman at Harrisburg Area Community College and is working towards a degree in Criminal Justice and ultimately becoming a Juvenile Probation Officer.
One of the things that is important to Octavia while being in care is family relationships. Despite numerous placements, Octavia has been able to maintain a relationship with her biological brothers and sister. Whether it was at Milton Hershey School or a foster home in the area, Octavia has always made it a priority to keep in touch with her biological family. She views it as, “you don’t have to be a product of your environment(s), but you can still have a relationship with people from that part of your life”.
Even though Octavia’s childhood has not been easy, she tries to make the most of any situation she is put in. Octavia has found a voice while participating on the Youth Advisory Board. She was recently elected as a representative for her county in 2012.
Octavia’s long-term goal is to finish school, earn her degree and move to an area such as Washington, DC to pursue her career goal.
Stay tuned next week for Octavia’s question and answer!
Now that we are fully enmeshed in holiday spirit, I think it’s time to talk about the Holiday Blues.
I love Christmas! I decorated a week before Thanksgiving, I have a Christmas mug at work and if you’re friends with me on Facebook, you might have seen a cheerful post or two.
Though, while talking to some current and former foster youth, the holidays seem to bring more grief than happiness. Those nagging memories from past holidays seem to float to the top of our consciousness, or if ever there was a time for family drama, this season always brings it full force. If only that baggage could just be left at some curb for someone else to deal with. #AmIRight?
So for the next few weeks, I want your Holiday survival tips. How do foster youth and alum around Pennsylvania survive the Holidays? I’ll be posting them in various YAB hot spots during and after the holidays. Remember, you aren’t alone and there are people around to support you during the holidays and throughout the year. So again, how do you keep festive during the festivities? How do you remember to feel the Joy in joyful? I want your stories, your advice, your checklists and your quotes. Let’s help each other out!
Colin McShane, a North East YAB Member, writes about how being a part of advocacy has helped him Transition.
Life is most definitely transition. And for some of us, part of that transition is advocacy for our fellow peers. I first got into youth advocacy four years ago, when I was still in the substitute care system. I was in a group home outside of Philly, and I was reading through my orientation packet when I came across a piece of paper that had youth rights on it. Doing some further research on my own, I found out so much more about the rights we had as youth in care and often spent my time speaking up for my fellow peers and even made my way into the weekly staff meetings to voice the ideas and concerns that other youth came up with. Later, as my discharge from the group home was getting close, the vice president of the facility came to me and asked me if I was interested in joining their Board of Directors as a Youth Representative. Two years after that, I was approached by YAB.
Today, four years after my advocacy journey began I am still a member of YAB, still the Youth Representative of the Board of Directors and I also serve on my county’s MH/MR advisory board. I must say, it hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been enjoyable. Not just because I’m helping other people, but because these same people are helping me. Every story I hear, every idea that is brought up, is new insight into life. Every person has their struggles and hardships. And every person has found their own way to cope and move on. As an advocate, I feel as though it is not only my duty to speak for youth, but to assist them with their transitions through life. Often times, these youth do want to make changes in their own lives but don’t know how to. When we as advocates are fighting for their rights or creating legislation to help make their transitions easier, we are not just empowering these youth. We are giving them the second chance that they deserve. At the end of the day, even through there are plenty of youth that might not know what YAB is, or that we are fighting for them, simply knowing that I am influencing positive change and providing that second chance through policy and action is enough for me. I am proud to be a member of YAB and am grateful to have the chance to experience transition through advocacy.
Once again, the Youth Advisory Board has been busy learning and making themselves heard! At the recent 2012 Youth Summit, held in State College, youth representing all of the regions of Pennsylvania Youth Advisory board met to discuss the new Fostering Connections Law, learn about strategic sharing, and participate in either a Know Your Rights workshop, or a time management workshop. The summit culminated in a panel of youth presenting ideas of why parts of Fostering Connections are important and some recommendations for the implementation of the new law. All parts of the Youth Summit created great discussion and we all learned a lot. Youth learned about taking care of themselves while sharing their stories, and considering their audience and purpose. Youth also became experts of the Fostering Connections law and learned all about the requirements and important components of youth reentering the system. These trainings were extremely productive and we all had a great time getting to know each other while increasing our knowledge. During the Know Your Rights workshop, youth had the opportunity to learn about updated Know Your Rights information. The time management workshop showed youth great ways to minimize stress and prioritize their schedules. In this workshop, youth brainstormed ways to motivate themselves and stay organized, and how to apply these skills to being involved with the Youth Advisory Board and participating in the Youth Summit. Finally, each region represented at the youth summit came up with recommendations for the implementation of the Fostering Connections law for and what it should look like for older youth reentering care. The parts of the law that were focused on were permanency, housing, re-entry and planning, and age appropriate freedoms. The Youth Advisory Board regions determined what their recommendations were and recognized potential barriers to their goals for their recommendations. From this, they made strategic plans that outlined quick wins and goals for their ideas. The youth developed some great recommendations and excellent plans for follow through! For the second and last day of the summit, six youth representing the Youth Advisory Board spoke as a panel to the Pennsylvania Children and Youth Administrators. The youth talked about why permanency, housing, re-entry and planning, and age appropriate freedoms are such important parts of Fostering Connections. Some of the recommendations that were planned the previous day were also shared. Some impactful personal experiences were also shared by the members of the panel, who represented 65 years of experience with the child welfare system. The input was powerful and was clearly heard by child welfare leaders. It’s exciting and inspiring to think about where these recommendations will lead and how they will impact older youth!
Chris Nobles here. I’ve recently moved on from the Child WelfareTraining Program Resource Center to a position as an RA (Resident Advisor) at a new Valley Youth House SIL (Supervised Independent Living) site in Delaware County. I’m sure you haven’t quite had time to miss me yet, but I wanted to keep you posted on a few things I’ve noticed since I’ve been out here. Another list, for the cause:
1. LIFE IS HARD! Seeing youth no more than five years behind me going through what still feels so fresh in my memory actually blows me away. I’ve told plenty of people that age 17-18 is likely as hard as I’ll work my entire life and… seeing it from the outside or at least from a mentoring perspective… it’s 100% true. Just to break even, to start up a relatively normal life, these youth really have to grind and keep out of any sort of trouble. It’s tough. Buy they’re up to the task.
2. LIFE IS HARD (2)! To manage this transition personally, I somehow had to manage to change places of employment, change residence, attempt to get a license, attempt to get a car, figure out how I was going to move my things from one residence to the next without having secured a license or car, get to know my new position, get to know my new supervisor, get to know the new area, help set up the house so that it was livable, introduce the program at a few speaking engagements, and THEN get to know the six residents. Wait, wasn’t life supposed to be easier after 17-18?
3. Motivate. A very wise person once said to me “Human beings are the last great untapped resource on the planet,” which is a quote I cite very often. Like most quotes though, it’s misquoted and I admit that. The second part of the comment was, “…so if you think oil companies manage to run the world, imagine what you could do if you could manage to move people the way they move barrels.” A bit obscure, but a good point. I’m beginning to learn that, often times, the greatest good can be done by influencing and motivating other people in positive ways. I couldn’t pay a system youth to take pride in themselves and want to achieve—-there is nothing I could give them, other than a positive example and encouragement, which could grant them the energy and drive to be more.
4. Some assembly required. As a one receiving services in the system for a long time, and working with professionals afterward, I always sort of got the impression that the pros had everything together and knew what they were doing. I bet some of the people I work with now get the same impression about me. I now find this hilarious—-every day, for different reasons, no matter what your circumstance, everyone winds up throwing themselves together enough to be presentable and just doing their best. This experience has shown me that youth in care are at a disadvantage not for the nature of their life issues (because everyone has them), but because of the form the issues take and lack of resources to aid in working through them.
5. Life is Transition. Yeah I’m saying it again. Because it is. The more different people I meet, different angles I get on life, the more I notice that it all looks pretty much the same in a very beautiful way. Everyone’s going somewhere. Seeing, and appreciating, and enjoying that change is key.
This year’s retreat theme was C.L.A.I.M! We Are Taking Over… Changing Lives- Advancing Your Independent Memories. I had a great time this year hanging out with you guys! The Retreat Steering Committee for IL Retreat 2013 should be meeting soon! See you next year! —Babs
What does Claiming your story mean to you?
Here are some quotes from this year’s retreat!
"I absolutely love the retreat, I think it is a great way to get to meet teens going through similar situations. It gives me a sense of comfort knowing I’m not the only one, and having someone to talk to. Definitely started connections with life long friends. Not to mention I love helping and talking with people:). YAB is the Way To Go." -Ashlee, Steering Committee Member
“The retreat was great! I learned that you cannot demand youth to do what you want them to do. Sometimes you have to just give direction and give the youth the opportunity to be a young adult and make right decisions.” - Cortez, Youth Ambassador
“There are so many teens out there going through the same things I am. I met people who completely understand me. It was weird, because normally, No one does. I guess it just feels nice knowing there’s people out there I can really relate to, and that I’m not alone.” - Christy, participant
“The 2012 IL Retreat was so engaging and well ran by it’s wonderful staff that it makes me wish I could be 16 again so that I could attend every year for the next five years!”- Kevin Brown, Banquet Speaker (His Website!)
Here is a short introduction to me, your new PA YAB project manager. You can call me Babs.
· I’ve been an active member of the YAB since 2004
· I was a Youth Ambassador
· My favorite color is orange
· My current band on repeat is Walk off the Earth
· I was a Regional YAB coordinator in the South East
· I am currently a Youth Quality Improvement Specialist
· I play the Ukulele and I enjoy running
· I have a blog about coffee and Foster Care
One of my goals for the Youth Advisory Board is that every youth would walk away from it feeling empowered, valued and expanded. I will be looking at Empowerment as it relates to youth in Transition
Two weeks ago, I was at a “Communities on Transition” Conference. The theme this year was Empowerment in an Environment of Change. The participants of this conference were organizations, parents, case workers and youth who work with and have disabilities. I learned a lot, and made friends with the Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network! I hope that the Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board can partner up with them.
The first speaker was Ako Kambon, and he walks us through Empowerment like this. There are four stages, and everyone is somewhere on the continuum, so as you read this series try and figure out where you are, and where you would like to go next.
I will end this post with a question: How does Empowerment and Transition relate? How can the Youth Advisory Board empower, value and expand? Hit me up!
I write articles and present in front of people all of the time, and it is always the hardest to write for my peers. Do I go serious with a guest post? Or do I go funny? My goal is to impart some sort of wisdom gleaned from a quarter of a century of experience. My other goal was to try and use the least amount of exclamation marks as possible. You probably have enough people shouting at you. I’ll start with a few of my thoughts that occur throughout the day.
“One step at a time”, “day by day”, “feared things first”, “Follow a To-do List”, “Compartmentalize that pain”, “You can do it”, “You can’t do it”, “Will I ever get over it?”, “Your story wasn’t as bad as others”, “What happened to you was wrong”, “Your feelings are valid”, “Your feelings are not valid”, “You are special”, “You are not special”, “I’m a survivor”, “I feel so fragile”, “Be Productive”, “Be Functional”, “Mind your finances”, “You are beautiful”, “You are awesome”, “You suck”, “You can do this”,
The above is how I self-talk. The way you self-talk may look different. It is how I get up in the morning, it is how I get my work done and it is how I plug along. Some days I feel so honored to be a former foster youth, and other days I just wish the baggage would dig itself a hole and disappear. It leaves me feeling drained and fragile. Yet, something inside of me keeps me going, keeps me climbing that mountain. There is something special inside all of us that keep us going. We survive, we strive, we lift, and we throw down. We keep our head up.
If you are a former foster youth reading this, you already have survival skills. Move over Bear Grylls! Some of these survival skills are really hard to turn off because they have served you very well. Here’s a life example, one of my personality traits is that I’m a pleaser. It served me well as a survival tactic, because it made working with foster parents and case-workers easier. They naturally liked me and I was considered “low-maintenance.” It has served me so well, that I have wrapped my self-worth up in my ability to please or assimilate. It has also made me loyal to a fault, if I can’t make a relationship work; it is because I wasn’t able to please enough. I wasn’t good enough, or there was ultimately something I was doing wrong. I worked very hard to gain my foster parents love, acceptance and approval. That is not something you can simply turn off.
As you transition out of care, you are going to have lot of emotion. You may move from surviving in one system to surviving in another. If you are no longer in a situation where you are simply “surviving,” you need to grieve, because you don’t have the time to acknowledge it while you are experiencing it. I attend therapy on a pretty regular basis and I talk constantly about how I am feeling. The act of figuring this out has me being more forgiving of my faults. The self-talk I listed above, comes from years of negativity from the people around me, so in grieving I’m learning how dead wrong they are. I’m a survivor and I know you are too.
This just in: Life isn’t a fairytale. Life, as it turns out, has no happily ever after. Even after the harrowing escape, the chance to start new, the hope for a future, the sun still rises the next day.
Things continue to change, and they always will. Life bears far more resemblance to a series of books than an uplifting movie—-no matter how satisfying the end to a chapter may be, that’s all it is. The end of a chapter. A way of moving from one event to the next, with almost a comical consistency. What happened in the past eventually only has the relevance of leading up to what happened next.
Life is a lot of things. As best I can tell, living is the art of moving between those things without getting frustrated.
Thought I was going to say life is transition, didn’t you? That’s for the end of the series, people!
During year two, all I wanted to do was establish that I could be dedicated to my job, and to school. Good traits to have, but not at the expense of actually living. I had no social life. I didn’t trust anyone to not throw off my relentless pattern. I didn’t treat myself like a human being—-all I was here for was to be the youth who never missed work due to being out late, who didn’t miss an assignment, who didn’t care about always being asked to stay the extra shift, who didn’t bother with silly things like holidays or birthdays.
I was still just trying to keep my head down. And I burnt out.
To be honest, I didn’t transition well to the next set of challenges. I wasn’t prepared to deal with me, learn to value myself a bit more, allow myself to develop ambition and go for things for a reason other than satisfying others or having the pitiful satisfaction of not being the ‘trouble kid’.
So year two blurred by, and I got nothing but tired.
Hindsight gets involved a little bit here, because now I know far more than I knew just three years ago. Three years ago, I really wasn’t much more than a product of my environments. Environments, with an ‘s’ because sadly there was a lot of moving around going on. Environments which included an unstable, disintegrating family, and abuse in most of its varied forms.
I wasn’t much more than a young man who’d managed to stay out of trouble (for the most part) in his stay in group homes—-a young man who so often, even to this day, accidentally fits into the mold of ‘the good kid’. Back then, I didn’t understand that I sort of want to show my scar, that I want people to know what being me actually entails. Back then I didn’t even understand that my scar, when it is showing, shows in the fact that my life’s ambition for too long was to stay out of everyone’s way.
Back then, I just wanted a moment of peace and safety. Somewhere to hide. Life was that list of bad things I woke up every day attempting to avoid, and little more. Then, life starting happening to me again. Frighteningly fast… but it went something like this:
February ‘08: "Why don’t I have a valentine?" Basically, nothing better to think about.
April ‘08: "Am I seriously going to be in this group home for another year plus?" It might have been the end of the world. Seriously.
June ‘08: "Yay I’m graduating! Turns out they found some credits, and I’m a senior, and I get to be a senior for a whole week and then I graduate! Yay!" Wait for it…
July ‘08: "How do you lose credits anyway?" Wait for it…
August ‘08: "Yay I got to move to an ‘independent living’ group home! And I’m turning 18!" …aaaaaaand now.
Late August ‘08: "Aw cool I get to start my first semester at college which will require me taking a bus and train two hours each way, while securing my first real jobs and preparing to move out on my own soon!" Wait, no, yield to optimism… how long will that last?
October ‘08: "… oh $#!%" There it is. The moment you realize you’re ‘transitioning’ from being a youth in a highly restrictive group home, to being out in the world generally solo far before you’re ready.
"Before I was ready," turned out to be December of ‘08. I moved into my first apartment (where I’ve been for the past three years) with all of my possessions in a few trash bags. When I think about it, those trash bags represent the #1 thing which needed to change about how I lived my life.
Never should one feel like everything they own, everything they are, everything they have to help them become something more, is so worthless that it doesn’t matter if it’s simply tossed into a few trash bags.
In order to salvage something out of the hand I’d been dealt, I was going to have to pick through the trash. Maybe that was the reality. I’ve always wondered, though, what kept me from asking for luggage.
I don’t think I want to know the answer, now.
If the answer has something to do with alarming amounts of apathy, this trait DID come in handy for a few things at that time. I was going to be out on my own, but I still thought like the kid who just wanted to be invisible in the group home. So I didn’t buckle under the pressure, because I was so eager to please. I didn’t try to make any connections, other than those which allowed me to mindlessly cycle between work and school as smoothly as possible.
So the following months went something like this…
December ‘08: "Yay! My very own apartment!" Actually, that’s still pretty sweet.
January ‘09: "I need a job."
February ‘09: "I got a job." Followed before the month was out with ‘I hate my job’
Late February ‘09: "Work. School. Rise. Repeat. Everything will be fine now. Right?" Right?
Hello, world! Chris is busy preparing to take over the internets with his newest Life Is Transition series of blog posts. While he’s in the lab, I’m going to share a guest post with everyone.
My name is Justin Lee; I’ve been lucky enough to be a supporter of the Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board (YAB) since 2001. I currently serve as the statewide coordinator of the YAB where I serve as a professional link for YAB members to help them get their work done. Check the website at www.independentlivingpa.org.
Throughout my career, I’ve worked with older youth transitioning out of the child welfare system. I’ve seen a lot. I may have seen it all; there’s been youth sleeping on friend’s couches not sure how long they’ll be able to stay; youth reuniting with family they haven’t seen since childhood; youth (a lot) being accepted into higher education as the first in their family; and youth battling every type of adversity you can imagine.
There’s one common thread that connects all of these youth: they are an inspiration to me.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I will bet my bottom dollar and put these youth up against ANYONE to succeed in life. In the media, we usually hear about people living in poverty or those that are disadvantaged looking for “handouts.” I’ve worked with older youth in and out of the child welfare system for over a decade and I have yet to meet one looking for a “handout.” I’ve actually seen the opposite; youth that want to succeed on their own terms by any means necessary. More often than not, I spend my time trying to convince 19 year olds that they don’t have to be Superwoman or Superman.
At 34 years old, I’ve realized these young people that have faced horrible circumstances in their lives, and I mean horrible, have more courage and resiliency than 99% of the population. YAB members and all of their brothers and sisters in the child welfare system aren’t just survivors - they’re winners. Sometimes, the win doesn’t come on time. There’s also times when the losses happen many times before the wins start coming.
Know this: the wins will come for all of these young people. No doubt.
I could stay shouting on this soapbox all day but I won’t. I’ll end with this - thank you. Thank you for energizing me in the cause. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for teaching me about the power of the human spirit and resiliency. Thank you for being you.
Peace and best wishes. Oh yeah, one more thing, when you’re a CEO of your own company or a millionaire try to remember me and hook a brother up!
Yes, I’m still alive. And yes, you were promised complete stories of all of the events leading up to the September post (which I will make good on, double promise) but oddly enough life doesn’t seem to want to pause so that I can collect myself and tell the story.
It’s almost as though the story is better told in-media-res (that would be from the middle of the action or as it happens for all you non writernerds out there) in some form of less formal format which could be updated in weekly or even daily installations…
Novel concept, right?
Well ironically I’m going to start off the exploration of this concept by noting an anniversary: I have been out of care now for three years.
It’s funny—-I don’t even really celebrate my own birthday (well I did this year, because it just happened to be my 21st birthday and that’s something worth a nice legal hurrah) and I’m not too big on holidays or other events which usually cause a stir on their annual appearance… but early December is always quietly important to me.
Three years ago, in early December, I left the ‘system’ behind. No more group homes. No more forced therapy sessions. No more forced medication. No more false hope that somehow, at the end of all of this, I’d be going home. The reality was that I was leaving all of that behind for a new place I’d eventually call home, a new list of trials and troubles, and a very interesting three years leading up to now.
So this year, to honor the anniversary and finally give some context into what got me here, I’m going to tell the story. The whole story, as best as I can. One post a week for the month of December (not counting this one), with the last week of the month being an actual what’s happening right now post.
Remember folks: Life is Transition—-and it can be very difficult to transition to something, if you haven’t quite put together where you’re transitioning from.
“Hello again fellow transitionees. I’m writing to let you know that I will no longer be updating this Blog.
That’s right, transitioning has ended for me, and I now have absolutely nothing to write to you about. I have finished transitioning. It’s over.”
Were it so easy.
The above was a joke. I’m going to give you an update in brief of what has actually been happening in my life since my last post in… Well let’s not talk about how long ago that was.
“Chris, you went to Washington?”
“What’d you do there?”
Awesome NYTD (National Youth In Transition) Survey conference, at which I was the youth representative for Pennsylvania. There were other youth and staff from all over the country, with forty-something states present, and someone from Puerto Rico.
“Well, Chris. That’s pretty cool. Why didn’t you tell us about this?”
I dunno. I’ll share more shortly.
Pennsylvania Independent Living Youth Retreat:
“Hey Chris, how was that retreat you never shut up about?”
It was awesome. A week of fun and exhibits of inspiring talent from IL youth hailing from all across the state, and awesome keynote speech at the Banquet—-a spiffy banquette where everyone got all dressed up (some fine looking people, these PA youth…)—-a talent show, a dance, some good ol’ fashion competition in various forms. I’d say it went pretty well.
“That’s nice, Chris. I see you’re already revved up to talk about it for the next year. Can we ask another question, though?”
“Why didn’t you post about that too?”
Next question please.
Focus Group with Group Home:
Before you ask, I’m going to write more about this.
“Woah. Was that initiative?”
It’s important. Next question.
“There was a hurricane?”
Do you live under a rock?
“Yes, after the earthquake.”
Aren’t I supposed to be the one with the snarky sense of humor here, oh reader?
“Really. I hear you live next to the Schuylkill…”
I lived in the Schuylkill, briefly. I assure you I did not drown.
“Is everything alright?”
A night in a shelter, met some really cool Red Cross people, got a free refugee blanket, met all of the people in my apartment complex who I never spoke to before, lost a tiny bit of cynicism at the amount of good will I saw that day. All in exchange for a somewhat soggy carpet—-think I made out alright.
“So what you’re saying is, you laptop wasn’t on the floor. So you were entirely capable of posting during that.”
“Back in classes? How’s that going?”
I’m going to post about the difference between online courses and actually having to show up for class. But, this semester I actually have to show up for classes—-which, I’m coming to understand, is actually in exchange for doing real work. See, in the online courses I took over the spring and summer we had regular assignments which were moderately time consuming and some of which actually required me to know what I was doing on. That difficulty is stripped, and replaced with an attendance grade.
“Still on that ‘participation shouldn’t count’ horse, are you…”
“You know you’re wrong, right?”
“Would an accusation of laziness offend you?”
Flooding (Round 2):
That’s what I said.
“Still the most fulfilling part of your life?”
Word to the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program.
“Have you done what you said in an earlier post and started balancing work/necessities with the things you WANT to do?”
So, I got to do this cool Webinar thing recently. New experience, speaking to a large group of people I can’t see was sort of—-
“Is that your way of saying ‘next question’ again?”
“This is the next question.”
Still a transition. Figuring out housing changes in the near future, figuring out where I want to go with the whole college bit, figuring out where I stand with my often-absentee family, figuring out whether I’m happily distracted with plenty of tasks or distractedly unhappy with tasks that I need to do quicker.
“That’s pretty vague.”
Tell me about it.
“Are you going to post more?”
“Is there anything we can do to help?”
The ‘Ask Me Anything’ feature is pretty neat. It allows you to ask me anything. I’m not required to answer, but you do have the option to ask me anything.
Nope. Just check back for more.
Remember: Life is Transition. So on a blog about someone Transitioning, it’s pretty absurd that they can’t at least throw up a happening or two as an update.
Greetings fellow Transitionees. If you’re here, you’re used to reading a lot of references to presentations and meetings—-that’s because that’s what I spend most of my meaningful time doing.
It gives me the chance to observe people in a unique setting, which I suppose I should be grateful for. It’s one thing to observe people when they know they’re being observed, or even when they don’t—-but a chance to observe people when they’re observing you is unique.
While everyone is sitting there staring, I’m usually staring right back. I’ve noticed, in a far less scientific manner than Color Q, that there are about… three to five types of people in any given crowd.
They stare. They stare, and they stare, and sometimes their mouths are even part way open. They look as though they might want to eat you, or that the next thing from their mouths is likely to be "Braaaaaains….". These people are either paying attention to everything you’re saying, or they’re trying to figure out in their zombified minds how fast they would have to shamble to catch you.
Effects of making eye contact with one of these individuals in the audience range from mild hypnosis and paranoia to moderate self consciousness and memory loss.
Nodders have to be my favorite type of person in the universe, when I’m presenting. Theory has it that Nodders actually absorb the energy which allows Zombies to remain so still, to fuel their enthusiasm. They will nod about everything you say. They are extremely happy to see you, so happy in fact that they agree with every syllable you have to tell them whether or not it was in fact a lucent thought.
If ever you are lacking for confidence, find the nearest Nodder in the crowd, and think a happy thought. For example:
An awkward pause after losing train of thought. You continue to speak, but can’t help the thought, “I pulled that off, right?”
You find your nearest Nodder. He/She nods.
Effects of interaction with a Nodder can include confidence boosts, out of place smiles while presenting, ‘counter nodding’—-a disorder which causes a nod in response to the Nodder. See: Agreeing with Agreeing with Yourself.
#3: Mrs/Mr Blackberry
You’re a good person, and a good presenter. You’re sure they have a very busy life, or something very interesting is happening on Facebook. You’re not sure what it is, but you wouldn’t dare think that what you’re saying is actually more important than the constant deluge of correspondence they have the rest of their day—-and in fact, the rest of their lives—-to take care of.
You will smile when they make eye contact by mistake and then look back down at their phone. And you will pretend that they are not in the audience. Because you are good at what you do. You’ll tell yourself you’re not offended, and then you’ll look at a Nodder to agree with you while imagining the Zombies will maul them.
Ethics and Policy in Social Services: B Final ______________________________________________________________
Hello fellow Transitionees. Have you learned anything today? I have. Today I learned something entirely underwhelming: I am not an A student.
Usually, in pursuit of that feeling that I completely aced a course, I’d either freak out or fall into a slump about half way through any given course. Because I wasn’t going to get an A.
Would you like to know the most useful thing I’ve learned in college thus far? Prepare to have your mind blown.
I can graduate without an A average.
I know, right? Woah. I’d like to be an A student. But I’m not. Sometimes I’ll miss an assignment, sometimes I’ll do an assignment with approximately enough attentiveness to it to say I did it, sometimes I’ll cram the night before a test. Sometimes I’ll cram the day of a test. Sometimes, I’ll cram the instant before an open book test (skim through things, highlight keywords so I know where to go when I see the word/subject in a question—-it works, trust me… best way I’ve ever found to circumvent actually knowing what you’re talking about). And you know what? That’s okay.
Does it make me a role model? Yes. It does. Because some of us are A students. Some of us can keep up consistent, high grade work all of the time—-or at least enough of the time that, by any measure, it’s kept up all of the time. However, A students would be so special if it weren’t for the fact that by all logical reasoning, not everyone can attain that score.
There is a method to being an A student. There is a method, no easier to learn, to being a B student. Or in my case, a strong C student. I have learned that, despite the fact that I have a thoroughly average work ethic and attention to detail, I should at least show up to class and do the assignments in all my average scoring glory.
Because there is really only one way to get an F.
Now, this blog is about Transition, right? Transition and all of the things that happen to one blogger in particular during the course of said Transition. So what does this have to do with Transition? Not everyone chooses the schooling route in their Transition, what’s this mean for them?
Life is Transition. Life is also graded on a curve, believe it or not. No matter what you’re doing—-work, school, both, parenting, friendships, hobbies—-you’re being graded. The only way to guarantee a big mean F is to clam up because it’s not looking as perfect as you’d hoped it would.
Chances are, if you just keep at it, you’ll get it out of it with a C. And hey, that’s passing.
The group of young men and women could be at best described as ‘motley’ on first glance. No one could look around the room and spot any particular similarity in the youth present. They all recognized themselves as youth when they spoke, but any other ties between them beg to be questioned.
Some are dressed in common clothing for their age group. The things you expect to see on the backs of an 18 to 20-sum crowd. Others are clad a bit differently, business casual. The interactions between the individuals sporting the superficial differences? No different, to the blind man. Something above and below their current status or occupation ties them together.
One speaks, the other are silent.
The presenter speaks, the group in general is silent.
"…even this bulletin has been in the work for around eight years. So, you see the issue here. Some of you were…"
Using whatever wavelength the varied young women and men in the room use to communicate their invisible commonality, there is a general fidget of discomfort. The presentation moves on, the conversation moves on, but whatever tied them together allowed for a swift communication in a series of uncomfortable re adjustments in chairs, and meaningful glances.
Hello fellow transitionees. The above is a scarcely dramatized take on a recent YAB meeting. For those of you who do not know, the YAB is the Youth Advisory Board—-officially its name is the Pennsylvania Youth Advisory board, but the PYAB is hardly as catchy and the PaYAB might be misleading. No one’s there because their salary depends on it.
The Pennsylvanian Youth Advisory Board’s declared objectives are to "Educate, Advocate, and bring about positive change in the Child Welfare system." but even that hardly embodies the work that is done. Or at very least, it doesn’t say much about just how serious these youth are about the task.
The presentation described above was on a bulletin issued state wide to counties concerning Trial Discharges. I don’t have enough space here to explain the whole business, but I will leave some link breadcrumbs for your viewing pleasure if you want to do some homework. In a nutshell, it would allow youth choose to sign themselves out of the system at 18 to be instead given leeway to return in an ambiguous amount of time that can range from sixty days to six months.
That presentation, and many like it, concern things you wouldn’t expect a mismatched group of 18 to 20-sum youth to be concerned with. Statewide policies. Federal laws. Implementation of practices on the county level. It can be any number of things, and in this case the subject was this bulletin of great importance to some existing members of the YAB, and an infinite number of youth coming up after them.
YAB members tend to have similar stories and experiences in care, and just as often have differing opinions. They’re from different walks of life, and walking in different directions. In fact, many of them might have nothing to do with one another if it weren’t for that subtle, unspoken factor which ties the group together.
It’s time for a change.
Willing to do all they can to bring about necessary change, these young adults toss their effort and brainpower into helping along positive changes such as the trial discharge. The issue?
The bulletin which includes suggestions to counties on the Trial Discharge has been sitting around unfinished for eight years.
It is the time for change. The glances among the group when that passing comment was made all had very clear intents—-eight years ago, the current members were somewhere between nine years old and fifteen years old, roughly.
For some, these suggestions on how to better situations they’ve all seen had been in the process of being implemented, or discussed, or re written, since before they even knew what care was. Or for others, they were in care but children. Children who would never have seen the issue, if it hadn’t taken eight years for the bulletin to get to the point where it were even possible to be released as suggestions to counties.
Get to the point, Chris. Fine.
It is time for changes. That time is right now—-because we don’t have the time to waste waiting for the right time. It’s easy to see progress in terms of its increments, and if this bulletin goes through and these changes begin to be made, it will be seen as one of those incremental victories.
But. In the eight years this took? I went from age 12, unaware of the issues and living a relatively normal if ill fated family life, to age 20.
Ever try to have a conversation with someone and realize, about forty five second in, that for one reason or another you absolutely cannot communicate with them?
Recently, I came across an idea of why that may happen, in an interesting activity done at [insert agency here]’s staff retreat. It has a great deal to do with your color.
I wish there was a way to know how fast your eyes jumped down the page to find out what I mean by that. Rest assured, I’m not talking about race. You can breathe, or breathe slower if an appalled rage was working its way to the surface from deep within your open minded and progressive soul.
The “Color Q” activity is a personality exercise. In about twenty questions, this test can pretty accurately peg at least the most basic parts of the personality of the text taker. Don’t believe it? I’ve seen it myself: here’s the link - http://colorqpersonalities.com/. Give it a whirl, read about your color, and most of all read how you can best interact with other colors.
Incidentally, if you think that personalities can’t vary so wildly as to actually effect communication that strongly… You’re probably a Gold.
And if you’re writing this, you’re probably a Blue.
1. movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change: the transition from adolescence to adulthood. _______________________________________________________________________
Dictionary.com, how convenient your wording is. Hello fellow transitionees. It’s been a while. How are you? Where have I been? Oh, just getting the term transitionees copyrighted so that I get five cent whenever someone says it. How do I keep track of who says it? There’s an app for that, trust me.
Anyway. I’m going to passively excuse myself for my unannounced hiatus, by speaking on a broader idea that’s come to mind since I’ve been gone. Here goes: Transition, at least by the Dictionary.com definition, seems to be a word inherently charged with movement. Movement is the first word, after all. Passage, change, all of these things require movement. So, while the transition from adolescence to adulthood seems inevitable, we all know that—-via the great man Newton—-movement isn’t something that just happens on its own.
Let’s talk inertia. And in talking about inertia, let’s talk about weight. Baggage, tasks, responsibilities, we all have plenty of things piled upon us which should in theory weigh us down. Making the motion necessary for transition harder. Newton teaches us, though, that inertia can only be overcome by applying force—-that is to say, sitting and thinking about it will not have even the remotest of effects on said weight.
So there are a few options:
Reduce the weight. Increase the available force. Make the weight easier to move. (Leverage and such.)
We can rarely reduce the total weight. "It is what it is." describes the day to day for most of us. And, like any Newtonian object, we have a hard time being what we are if something just arbitrarily takes away what makes us what we are. If we’re heavy, we’re that way for a reason. In life, it’s difficult to get rid of responsibilities or to just forget yesterday. Weight reduction is not an option.
We’re all trying our best. It’s easy to build a bigger engine, to build a better plane, but humans are already well engineered machines. Most people try their hardest, as often as they can. Sometimes, there simply isn’t any more force available. So, make the weight easier to move. I’m NOT going to sit here and type to you that the answer is perspective, or proper planning, or any of that. Because I make a point not to lie, as often as I can avoid it. The difference brings me back to the point of why I haven’t posted in over a month.
I like to write. I love to write. That is why I started this blog, and am so fortunate to have this blog as a side project to my actual job. So would you like to know why I haven’t been posting?
I was too busy.
Too many things piled up. I have to carry the weight one way or another, and although this blog is in its way part of said weight of course I push this to last priority because it is something I enjoy. That makes sense, right?
Life is transition. We have to move our weight, one way or another—-and everything counts as weight. Whether you enjoy it or not, if you choose to do it, you have to carry it. So why exactly did the project I enjoy most get pushed to the back burner first?
I’m not sure. But the third option is to make the weight easier to move—-I can’t reduce it, but in life there is at least at times the luxury of changing the form or distribution of the weight. Eighty pounds of lead, and eighty pounds of feathers, both weigh eighty pounds. It might even be less convenient to carry feathers. Harder to squeeze through doorways and such.
But you know what, fellow transitionees? At least, if you carry eighty pounds of feathers, you can make a pillow to rest on when you’re tired. So remember: Life is transition. It’s all about movement. We’re told it’s better to carry the lead than the feathers, to just get it done as quickly as possible. But it’s a lot to carry either way, and it’s hard to take a nap on a lead weight.
It honestly feels like the world is going to end. That hollow, sinking feeling settles in your stomach—-it burrows deep. Sometimes if you take a deep breath you can force it away, you can muster up the will to be sure and be confident and to know that what’s happening isn’t the end of the world.
But then you think of what you’re about to do. All of the eyes on you. The smile you’re about to fake, the words you’re about to say and not remember—-the words you’re about to say and adjust based on the reactions of those around you. Your self worth, for the time being, depends entirely on how they react.
No. No, your self worth is the same regardless right?
It’ll be over soon, it won’t even matter.
You’re brave, these people mean nothing to you. You don’t need them to like you, you don’t care what anyone thinks about you really.
But then time drags on and the person before you is taking way too long and you’ve forgotten where you want to start and where you want to end and you’re not sure how you should adjust your performance based on the one just before you—-you know they’ll judged based on what they’ve already seen.
You’ve got to be different.
Livelier? Not too lively, you can’t seem like you’re trying to hard.
You have to be solid, confident, exciting but not too excited yourself and for the love of whatever deity you praise just impress them.
The feeling of dread mounts, you’ve got to do it now or never, you tell yourself it can only be worse if you freeze now and make it awkward, you remember to fake your smile and your confidence and you get up and you do what you do best—-or at least what you set out to do, and the best you could do.
This might sound familiar to anyone who’s ever had to present before a group of people—-did you know that public speaking, or being judged by a large group of individuals is a fear that ranks above death on most polls?
I’m not here, though, to gripe about how nerve racking presentations can be. I do them a lot. It’s never any easier. But I volunteer to do them, at the end of the day—-so I have no right to complain.
I wanted set up a familiar experience for all readers, then drop the point right about here… This blog is not about presentations.
This blog is about my “transition”, a commentary of a “transition” age “youth” on “transition”. The point of that is to tell you, reader, that you know how it feels. Take that feeling, and make it a constant. Every day is an audition. It’d be foolish to measure my self worth based purely on what others think of me but…
What else is there for a group set apart from others specifically by lacking supports others might have? Recently, someone asked my why I was so stressed. It took everything in me not to laugh, because it sounded like such a ridiculous question.
Why am I so stressed?
Why am I so stressed?
When is the last time you had to audition? Interview? Impress? For the average person, it’s actually pretty often. I understand that. Now, make that the basis for your life—-the grounding of your survival, your future, and on some level for me personally the only way to make the past go away.
Take the stress and anxiety of an audition, and infuse it into every waking and resting moment because you know that the only way out of what has been a genuinely unpleasant life is to impress.
Whatever you do, impress. The only thing that could make it worse is to freeze up, then things would just be awkward.
The psyche of a transition age youth shouldn’t be alien to anyone. Everyone’s felt it before. I—-and I’m almost certain other “transitioning” youth feel the same”—-understand that some circumstances cannot be helped. We’re pros at a lot of things, and among them are swallowing circumstances that just can’t be changed. Dealing with them. I’m not complaining, because for anyone who’s made it to this stage complaining just seems like a waste of time and energy.
I wrote this because the question was just… amazing. Mind blowing.
Why are you so stressed?
Many people go through their lives, choose their career, even choose who they surround themselves based completely on the avoidance of performance anxiety. I am absolutely certain they know why I am so stressed.
Remember: Life is transition, asking a transition age youth why they are stressed is frankly a silly question, and silly is a nice way of saying loads of other things.
It’s spring, so right about now the world is waking up from the boring gray shades of winter. It’s very easy to tell what plants are healthy and what plants are not. Who has a lush, well tended lawn and who doesn’t.
Similarly, this is the time of year when this transitionee is most likely to compare the general health and appearance of his situation with that of others. I won’t lie to you, no matter how you look at it my situation isn’t entirely the most favorable. There is a lot of pressure, as any transition age youth (or human being in general, we all go through it) will tell you. A lot of uncertainty, a lot of pressure.
That old adage then, doesn’t seem to apply. “The grass is always greener…” but what if the grass is really greener? What if our grass is nothing but weeds and dried out straw at this point and it’s not just the illusion of thinking greener pastures are thataway?
This week, while co facilitating a training for Philadelphia’s quarterly SWAN meeting (btw, shout out to all those folks—-genuinely good people, trying to make positive changes) I think I heard the answer to that little issue.
"If the grass is greener on the other side, then water your own."
I’ll give you a second.
Yeah. That’s the sound of truth. Some real wise people, those SWAN quarterly goers. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this—-or at least what I got out of that. Either things are really better elsewhere, or it just always seems that way, but it doesn’t actually matter which is true. Either way, if you just water your own grass then it’s not a problem.
The solution is not to figure out whether or not it’s actually better elsewhere, but to improve where you are to the point where it’s a non factor.
Remember, life is transition. Transitioning from winter to spring is a given, doing it with the right mindset takes practice. Check back next week for more.
1. interference heard on a telephone or radio because of unintentional coupling to another communication channel.
2. incidental conversation; chatter, as opposed to formal discussion.
Greetings folks. It’s about time for my not-so-weekly post. The good news is, there’s lots of good going on if you’re the type to be concerned about PA Youth. The bad news is I’ve been very busy, so either the blog will be losing some of its regular structure or infrequent posts will become the norm.
I’ll give you two guesses which. We don’t sit stagnant in transition people, we innovate! This week is an ode to all the conference, all the sit downs, all the youth engagement and generally productive communication I’ve been seeing lately. From conferences to Child Abuse Awareness Month info sessions, to stellar YAB participation to some sweet discussion of long overdue legislation… April has been the month of informal informative chatter.
As such, you get a little something different this week. Let’s talk.
Remember: Life is transition. It’s impossible to begin life and end life exactly the same way—-and I’m pretty sure that applies to almost everything in the in between period as well.
(Where’s the commentary from the interview with Peter Picari from your Tampa trip, Chris? It’s coming, sit tight.)
That’s where I am at the moment, and no that’s not really what it’s called. The 24th Annual Children’s Mental Health and Research Policy Conference in sunny Tampa (Did I just name drop a location? You bet I did.) is a longstanding tradition amongst the Child Welfare and Mental Health fields, and a very positive place for system workers and families to get together to work on bringing forth change all across our country.
Alright, I’ve gotten the official statement out of the way. Now for why you oh reader, care about the CMHaRPiT (which I’ve dubbed the Conference for Really Awesome Stuff and I think is a little catchier and will require royalties on if it’s officially adopted). This conference is where it’s at if you want to find 6-800 professionals really digging for ways to help the youth and families that are their life’s work.
And that’s not sarcasm, people. They really bring to the table everything they’ve got. They discuss why youth not being socially isolated while in care is important. They talk about the need for mental health care for the parents as well as youth. They talk about the glossed over issues, essentially—-and then, they encourage one another to do something about it.
This transitioning youth was impressed.
I can best express it via a quote from a unique man who is probably on my top 1000 people ever, Geoffrey Canada.
"This country has gone as far as a country can go without taking our children with us." That one hit me after I took a moment to realize he was speaking to a room full of professionals, not youth. Brave and to the point.
If that doesn’t do it for you, he charismatically harped on certain current event issues—-such as the fact that our nation is forty bajillion dollars in debt* (*estimated, and also joking…it’s only 14.2 trillion as of this writing) and why that can’t be an excuse to pull resources away from educating or caring for the next generation.
"We cannot afford to balance our budget on the backs of our children…"
Nice. There was much clapping, much agreeing, but in the end what I want to tell you is that this place is a good place. Geoffrey Canada had the most rousing way of phrasing it, but these are common themes at this conference. They care.
Alright, so what’s the point other than "Chris went to Tampa and there were some people who said some stuff that was good and will be better if it actually turns into real results in the systems which Chris seems to believe will actually happen so maybe he’s been out of the system for too long and forgot his trusty cynicism lenses back home or better yet in the 15 feet of personal space he had back in the group home."?
By my count, at this conference, there were probably about 30 youth, counting myself. So that means 29 youth who weren’t even in ‘business casual’ outfits and doing the whole professionally acceptable masquerade. They were here, participating just a youth who are involved in the system. We’re being listened to, in big ways.
If you have something to say, now’s the time to say it. People are realizing it costs less money to help us out when we need it than to wait for us to be state or federal issues later.
They can hear us now.
Remember: Life is transition. And whether you’re miserable transition from cruising altitude (check the Sticks in Transition this week), or watching the ‘system’ make serious attempts at becoming something positive, your best bet is to go along with it. Make the most of it.
I have a friend, who prefers to go unnamed, who has family back in Japan.
I saw a report, of people stunned that a seismograph in Missouri easily registered the earthquake.
I wonder if, had that not been so, we’d all be just as aware that tragedies half a world away are just as easily felt here. Or everywhere.
What’s this got to do with Transition? Almost nothing. We’re not the center of the world after all, and apparently even if we were it’d be impossible to ignore bigger problems going on in different areas. Try to help someone today. It’s never not your problem.
Remember: Life is transition. And bad over there will eventually transition its way to your doorstep. Let’s be proactive, people.
“I try to think of it this way—-calling out sick can be hazardous, but a no-call-no-show is an easy way to get downsized. Have you ever heard of someone calling out of work posthumously? Exactly. That report will never get finished if you die half way through lunch. Do it for the sake of productivity.”—
"Where were you last few weeks Chris, we really missed your sage insights and excellent artwork! What wisdom have you for us? How are the Sticks in Transition doing?"
Fear not, faithful reader. I am here.
"…okay seriously, what’s with the not posting?"
Well…let’s skip right to the advice portion this week. If you are sick, be it head cold or stomach virus (as was the case with me), you are much better off just taking care of it and yourself and getting back to work/life when you’re able. I’m in the office right now, being a tough guy and hypocrite but you can’t call me on that because I’m the one writing so it’s cool.
I was doing the same yesterday, until I was forced to go home by the power of nature and all its…bowel moving glory. Yeah. Anyway, I’ve gotten nothing done all week which probably could have been prevented by one or two good days of intentionally doing nothing. I know that in our transition we have become very tough, very efficient, very dedicated people…
But no one likes working with the guy/gal running a 101 fever and working on changing their permanent legal residence to the nearest bathroom either. So, if you’re sick? Swallow your pride, swallow some chicken broth, see your doctor, and stay home.
Can’t find your doctor? The pretty blue links this week are guides for doing just that.
Remember: Life is transition—-and if your lunch is transitioning faster than you can transition to the restroom, you should probably just stay home. Check back next week for more.
· Stop worrying about money constantly. (In progress…)
· Pay rent. (Done, most of the time.)
· Eat responsibly. (Nope.)
· Drive. (I’ll probably hit a pole.)
· Self motivate. (This blog is posted Thursdays. Today is Wednesday. This is an improvement.)
· Relax. (Nope.)
· Forgive without forcing myself to forget. (Well…)
· Live. (…about that.)
· Enjoy living. (Can we change the subject?)
It’s very easy to forget that life is about living, when the focus is constantly on living ‘correctly’. Plan, avoid mistakes, and this week’s links should help with that a bit. But remember what you’re doing it for. Work hard so you can enjoy the good times as they come. We all know good times come and go, but few really internalize the fact that once they are gone you don’t get them back. Don’t ignore a good day for the sake of getting two gold stickers instead of one. The stickers will still be there. Today, though? You only get one of those.
Life skills are great. Remember though that it’s all in hopes of resulting in a pleasant, somewhat normalized life in which you can both excel and be happy. Don’t forget the happy.
Remember: Life is Transition. No need to rush through the inevitable.
When the transition from one phase to another decides to knock the monotony out of life, we rarely see it until after the fact. It is easy, as a youth or otherwise, to lose perspective on just what’s going on. How much will change? Where will I be in a month because of this? Three months? A year? These are very important questions to ask for anyone, and in particular a youth in transition.
Anyone can say the remedy is to make a plan—-but as youth, we know that we have more than enough plans. Plan after plan, list after list which supposedly instruct us on how we’re supposed to handle these life transitions…namely, in this case, the transition from high school or care out into higher education or the workforce or some mix of the two. It’s important to not get lost in the fog of a billion plans suggesting what decisions to make and what goals to reach.
As I aged out of care, left the group home and high school behind, there was a period of really becoming acquainted with my situation. I was going to be living on my own, I wanted to go to school, and I was going to need money to pull that off. I quickly found that deciding which way to go with things was much easier when I turned the plans and goals into more concrete thoughts. Getting a clue as to where I should go, what I should do, based on the context of my life. Hence the ‘witty’ title of this post.
So this week, a link or two of resources to help put some context around your life situation to help you find clues for a smoother transition. They’re big, they’re blue, you should click them.
Also! If you’ve got any burning questions or topics you’d like to see addressed here on LIT, you are still welcome to send a message to email@example.com. But, we’re transitioning constantly and this week we’re transitioning into this decade with interactive content! Explore and enjoy the new ‘Ask Me Anything’ feature, with which you can ask me things. Anything! Including how I come up with the amazing stick figures. It’s in the same box as the Blog title. Just above ‘Archive’.
Remember: Transition is constant, and isn’t scary if you know where you’ve been and where you’re going. Also, transitioning to another page by clicking links is a great idea most of the time, so be sure to click the one linked to the PA YAB website. Because we’re great at transitioning, around here.