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Archive for December, 2013

Bah-humbug: How I feel about Church at Christmas

I love the Christmas season, it’s a time of hanging out, seeing family and my favorite playing board games! What I don’t love about Christmas is Christmas Hymns and Church services before Christmas. I cannot stand them, I cannot stand them so much that I actually skip church during the month of December and listen to old pod-casts and my Christian music favorites. Don’t worry, I feel guilty about this but I ask for God’s forgiveness and move on. I’ll be back in the New Year when sermons return to relate-able topics and move past the virgin, the inn, and the newborn babe. I just don’t know how churches stretch this for so long. Seriously?

I know I’m hard on Pastors and churches at this time of year, mainly because I’ve been in the church since before I came out of the womb and sitting in a pew for 32 years listening to the same boring music and the same sermons about the baby Jesus is a bit much for me. Can’t we move beyond it? I know I could try to get beyond my bah-humbug church feelings and show up on a Sunday morning ready to worship but the truth is, once that first hymn is sung after Thanksgiving it’s over for me. I’m annoyed and I bring that to the service. The only service I don’t mind singing Christmas music for is Christmas Eve. Until then I can handle the occasional Christmas song on the radio but once they play 2 in a row I’m onto the next station.

I know this is crazy and that Jesus had to be born this way so that he could die later that way. I get it. I know the theology, I know the Scripture stories. I can tell you everything you need to know about the baby Jesus and his parents and the angels that came and I can sing you every verse of the favorite hymns over and over again without looking at the words. I want something fresh at Christmas, not retired old sermons that I could repeat for you, year after year. I want something new, and since I know I’m not going to get that at church, this close to Christmas I stay at home and keep my bah-humbug ways to myself and listen to podcasts of previous sermons until Christmas Eve and then I am full on Christmas spirit and ready to hear all about the baby boy that saves us.

Until then, you’ll find me home on a Sunday morning listening to Christian music and old sermons. And trust me, you wouldn’t want me in your church during this time of year, I’m much more critical than any other time :).

My new Job

Ever since I got my new job everyone has been asking if I like it or not and I realized that I haven’t shared much about it. Some of that has to do with fear, fear of losing a job I like and some of that has to do with HIPPA and sharing just enough but not too much.

So let’s start with the fear. My last job was ridiculous, lots of pressure for no reason. Sure students taking tests are important but not that important. This job is really important. I’m advocating for people that need help advocating for themselves, I’m part of the checks and balances system that makes sure that they are being treated like people and that they are safe, have comfort, are healthy and have some security. My job is important and I really like doing it and I don’t want to lose it. I’m still in that 90 day period which was when I got fired from my old job. The first 30 days of this job I was on edge, because I made myself that way. No one else did that. I did it to myself. My boss is very nice and she keeps reassuring me at every turn. I’ve settled a little bit because I’m learning the ropes and things are making sense and my case load is starting to grow. Plus my co-workers allow for an atmosphere that allows you  to ask questions and to learn more and more as you go. I love that.

HIPPA is a system of importance but it makes sharing things about my job kind of ridiculous but I can give you some generalities without any specifics :). Most of the time I work in an office with right now 13 on my case load with an eventuality of possibly 30. I make sure that all the paperwork is done for Medicaid, Medicare, and DMH (Department of Mental Health). I also check on my people and go and visit them throughout the year. The frequency of my visits depends on each individual’s personal plan. I visit them in their home, at their work, or at an activity center. I visit with them to make sure that they: are safe, are comfortable, have security (has more to do with money than with safety) and that their health needs are being met.

The people on my caseload are awesome. And they are PEOPLE! They are not their disability. How we talk about people matters.

My office is actually in the same building as the Sheltered Workshop which gives jobs to individuals that can work and choose to do that in an atmosphere that is built for them. Some work in the job prep section that teaches them how to do the job. Some work on finish work like making tables for those in the workshop or making things to be sold in craft shows. Some work in the section that does all the recycling. They work hard and they make a wage. The finishing area is where the ice machine is located so I see the individuals that work in there more often than those that work out in the recycling center. I talk with them every day and they tell me about what they are working on with such pride.  It’s awesome and they look forward to seeing me everyday. It really is nice.

I like my job. I understand it’s importance. I have a 2nd cousin named Brianna who has Sturge-Weber. She had a Hemispherectomy a few years ago and it really helped her because she was able to learn where previously that was not a possibility and it stopped her seizures. I love her. She loves to do all the fun things: watch Disney movies, color, and play with animals and kids. She’s fun. She’s 18 or so (sorry I can’t remember) but functions more like a 12 year old. In the days of the Habilitation Centers she would have been dropped off at the front gate of a large facility and never picked up again.

There is a Habilitation Center in the town of Marshall, where I work, and it saddens me. Luckily it is no longer used as a habilitation center and it is slowly closing it’s doors. It has a long history that saddens me, people simply didn’t know what to do with people with disabilities but that is not how we treat people and they are learning that there are better ways to treat individuals.

I’m really glad that the life of the Habilitation Center is not the life for Brianna and I’m really glad that I look out for people and make sure that it is never again. I love that individuals are given every freedom that they can possibly have. Some live on their own in apartments, or in their own homes. Some live with other people in group homes, like having house mates. And some simply cannot live on their own and need full time care and provided that in the least restrictive environment as possible. We work to do the best for each individual and we do what is best for them based on their needs.

I really like my job and I’m hoping to do a good job and keep it. So far, so good. This week we are hosting a Winter Ball and it should be a lot of fun.

Here is a photo of the old Habilitation Center (remember these people were just housed and were not allowed to do really anything, they lived and died on this land). 

Here’s a link to an old article that explains the closing down of Habilitation Centers: article

So that’s my job. I don’t provide services but I make sure that people are receiving the services that they need so that they can live a full quality life.

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