Thursday, March 15, 2007

Some days...

I've been really sick for the last 3 or 4 days. The doctor thought I had hepatitis. I was beginning to think so, too. And being sick, with a baby, not easy. Plus worrying about him having hepatitis, too. But today I found out my tests are negative. Probably just all my usual chronic illnesses, coupled with lots of stress. So I figure my body is trying (really hard) to tell me something. Slow down and remember what's important. Taking more care to eat right. To do some yoga - how many years have I been talking about that?

Anyway, I made it through my first day back at work today. And got rewarded by seeing Luke's sweet face waiting for me at daycare. Our little routine of his dinner, play, bath, story, bottle, and bed. What an incredible joy he is in my life.

This evening I'm just so incredibly grateful for so many things. Neither of us has hepatitis. I'm smart enough to figure out what my body is trying to tell me. My comfortable home and pets waiting for me. Just stuff. Just another day in paradise. Gotta go make some baby bottles for tomorrow's day in paradise.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


I know I complain a lot about my job at prison. Some things about it are really nice. Like the people I work with. Being able to find your "no-shows" and fuss at them, because they're locked up somewhere in the dadgum prison. I also like the paycheck and of course, the benefits.

Yesterday, I thought I was being smart by getting to work a half hour early. Just to have a head start. Had to work in the morning at the prison next door. Fortunately, I only work there one day a week. Walked in and found they had a homicidal patient waiting for me. Evidently he had been waiting over an hour. The nurses had called the on-call psyc doctor, who had told them to just wait until the psychotherapist came it. I had barely turned the computer on when I had security officers in riot gear bring the offender to my office. Then, get this, they left. That's right. The offender was such a danger they had to use shields and all sorts of protective gear to get him to my office. But apparently once he sat down in the office with little old me, he was no danger at all! I would have put up a fuss about it but I really didn't feel any danger from the guy. He was definitely a strange one though. Said he was feeling bad and he wanted to hurt someone. Then he would feel better. He had no preference on who he hurt. And from a few questions I asked, he had a long history of hurting others in not-so-pretty ways, then feeling much better about it all. Now when you get a truly antisocial personality disorder guy talking to you, you realize that they have absolutely no conscience. They recount these incidents with no more passion than they would read a grocery list. I didn't argue with him. Just transferred him to a crisis mangement unit. Bye-bye.

Saw a few other offenders there who have figured out that I go on Fridays. My boss, a male, covers the other days there. These guys try to time their sick calls to be seen by me. Trust me, I don't feel special. Just female. And a bit yukky about it.

On to my own unit after I finish there. I walk in to find the offenders walking around in their underwear. Please remember, my own unit is a medical one. Mostly old guys or just severely chronically ill guys, a lot of AIDS and Hepatitis C. Seeing these guys in their underwear is NOT a pretty sight. Turns out the unit is on lockdown. Someone saw a handgun and everything gets real serious until they find it. There is a lot more drama about the incident that I am not at liberty to discuss. Not due to patient confidentiality but due to me wanting to stay safe personally. Working in prison may be many things but it is rarely dull. Turns out I transferred another patient to crisis management yesterday. The intake folks at that unit were getting a little curious when I was calling from different units.

I started out to mention something about personal and professional conflicts. So just briefly, I sometimes treat offenders (my most frequent patients) who are convicted of sexual assault of children. Most of them tell me they are falsely convicted. And maybe they are, who knows? The others tell me they offended because they were victimized as children so it's not really their fault. Still others will say the children looked much older. I don't encourage them to discuss their crime. Pedophiles will never change. And talking about it sometimes excites them in ways I don't care to participate in. Here's the thing, when they get to prison, obviously their population of sexual preference, children, is not available. So they get frustrated and depressed. Then they come in for medication and/or counseling. They just want to feel better. As a therapist, my job is to treat the target symptoms. So I help them get access to medication. And they feel better. As an individual though, there is a big part of me that does not want them to feel better. I want them to feel very, very bad.

Even if you can't personally relate, can anyone give me input on how they would handle the conflict? Any suggestions?

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Luke has a new tooth!

While I was sitting in the dental surgeon's office yesterday, awaiting the removal of two teeth, I actually got a pleasant surprise! We found Luke's first tooth! I know, I know, this is not my first baby and it sounds a little silly.'s amazing all the same. He laughed so hard when I felt it. Like he is incredibly proud of growing a tooth! Well, he should be. He's been working real hard at it, with lots of discomfort and drool, for a while now.

By the way, anyone who knows me and my mouth (I did not say my BIG MOUTH), will not be surprised at this other development. When the surgeon was removing my teeth, he accidentally broke off another tooth and had to remove that, too. So now I'm recovering form the removal of THREE teeth. Ouch!

No, candance, it's not Castle dental this time.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Yes, the weekend!

Another really crummy day at work - struggling not to absorb all the yucky stuff.'s Friday! And I have all weekend to spend with my grandchildren. I'm going to play games and read books and make fun snacks and rediscover my inner child!

Anyone else have great plans for the weekend?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Today at work I...

..Resolved several patient psychotropic medication issues

...Provided crisis counseling to an offender who believed the microphone in his housing unit was beeping at him through the night - and suddenly discovered that his requested "faith" unit annoyed the heck out of him because he couldn't stand hearing about Jesus all the time

...Transferred a patient who suddenly decided he needed to cut someone, himself or an officer or just anyone

...Provided crisis counseling to a severely depressed patient who hears voices telling him awful things (they never do say anything nice), including telling him not to trust me

...Handled a patient who suddenly discovered his change in work assignment was going to devastate his daily schedule

...Made rounds in the solitary cells, providing counseling to one patient who is facing life endangerment issues (other offenders are trying to kill him)

...and then saw my regularly scheduled patients, charted on everybody, and then scheduled about a zillion more patients for tomorrow.

Not complaining. Just venting. Big difference.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Fantastic Women

I've just got to plug my Women's Group here. We met tonight, as we do about every two weeks, for our book discussion. Part of the meeting ends up being about the book and the rest is about our lives and what's important to us. I love that we can talk politics, world events, women's rights, you name it. We disagree with each other about as often as we agree. That's what makes the group so special to me. When everyone thinks entirely alike, how can you learn from one another? The other part that I like is that we are all women with metaphysical beliefs. No real fundamentalists here. Not that there's anything wrong with that (insert Seinfeld moment here). Just that we all have the same overall perspective and share the same basic spiritual beliefs. How great is that???

So tonight we briefly got off on a tangent about the choices we make before we're born and the choices we continue to make that affect every aspect of our lives. Told you we're cool! Then I get home and check my email. There's a message from the Universe. Yep, we correspond. We're tight. Actually, it's a service offered (free) through So here is my message for today:

I'm alright with the concept of Karma as it's generally understood, Cheryl, kind-of, sort-of.

The idea of spiritual contracts is pretty nifty, too. You've always been a wheeler-dealer.

Except, of course, if either were laws, you wouldn't be unlimited.

Not even a little.

Oh well, they were cute ideas for awhile.

The Universe

Me again. That Universe! Always so timely! So where do you stand? Spiritual contracts? Karma? Law of attraction?

P.S. Emily has really great stories about being a Colonel on the drill team - and she's only 12!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Self Love

I read this last night in this month's issue of Indigo Sun, The article is titled, "A Gift for YOU: Five Steps to the Ultimate Love Affair" by Jody Howard. Here is an excerpt from the intro:

It amazes me how much easier it is to give our love and compassion to someone else rather than to our Self. We are quick to hold and comfort someone hurt and crying. When we experience our own pain, we feel frustrated with our self and with those that caused our pain, instead of comforting our self. We believe we heal our self by justifying our actions or blaming others, when in truth we heal by loving our self.

I tend to do that, you know, the being frustrated with myself part, when I make a mistake. Wonder how many of you out there do the same?

Thing is, I bought a hog about 2 weeks ago at work. Read previous posts for what buying a hog entails in prison speak. I've blamed myself because I knew the patient was selling me something and I just thought it would be easier to go along with it. He was threatening suicide and despite my efforts to calm him down, he insisted he needed to go to the crisis management unit. So I sent him. It was a Friday night. I was late for daycare. As soon as I started the process, he changed his entire attitude. You see, I believe he knew that once started, the process cannot be stopped. I don't care if God herself came down and said, "it's cool, he can stay," that patient HAS to be transported. So he began saying really awful things to the nurses. Making threats. Getting a serious attitude with me. I found out later that if he is transported to a crisis unit, all of his disciplinary cases get dismissed. That includes the ones he had pending before the "suicide" threat and the ones he got right before being transported. When he came back from the 3-day "vacation" he had the nerve to come in my office and thank me for making all of the cases go away. So not only did I allow this manipulator to get off without any consequences, I also feel I let down my co-workers who went to the trouble to write disciplinary cases against him. They don't hold it against me. They know I regret my decision. And they didn't know either, what would happen with the transfer. So I'm the only one who has been kicking myself.

Plus, he's still my patient. A little tough to have that old unconditional positive regard here.

This article spoke to me on so many levels. Why didn't I just comfort myself for that awful Friday evening? Why wasn't I more understanding of myself? Yes, I've got a lot more to learn about Self-love. (For helpful tips, be sure to check out StaceyG's blog - she's got some GREAT stuff!)

For me, I'm beginning to dislike the taste of pork.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

By popular request

More prison stories to follow...

In the flow

First, a great big "Thank you!" to all those who have helped me be in the flow these last several weeks:

Christy - who loaned me her husband's car to use for a week! And to her husband, Jim, who graciously said it was fine with him - Jim, you're a gem, but I bet you've heard that before!

Marcia - who drove to prison to pick me up from work, altering her sleep schedule to make sure I didn't end up sleeping at prison :)

Rachel - who got up extra early to drive me TO prison - what a kid!

Candice - who said she'd be there for me - and meant it

Stacey - whose faith in me keeps me afloat and whose faith in the universe inspires me

And to all others out there, from church, from women's group, and everywhere - thank you for continuing to hold me in the light and see me through this.

I did keep going to work even when my car was repossessed. And I did get the car back before it was auctioned. Even more importantly (and boy! are those first 2 things important!), the universe kept me afloat. I continually remind myself that my job, my car, my paycheck, and everything else that may appear paramount - are not my true source. The universe/God is my source. Yes, Bubba's Sis, I use the terms "universe" and "god" interchangeably. I also use "creator." They all mean the same to me - my higher power.

I believe that gratitude is one of the tools that keeps my good flowing. Actually, it's not just ME that believes that - a great many friends also hold that belief. And it's a principle that Unity has been teaching for about a hundred years. Also, The Secret (a DVD totally worth your while to watch) is spreading the news.

I remain incredibly grateful for all the big and little things in my life, all those things I see now and all those that have yet to manifest.

A mini-list:
1. My faith
2. My family (extended)
3. My friends
4. My bed (hey! it's a pillow top...)
5. My education
6. Job/job skills
7. Vacations
8. Pets
9. My very own home
10. A forum for my thoughts

Saturday, January 27, 2007


My car was repossessed last week. I've been having trouble making payments for a while now. Despite my best efforts to work things out with the finance folks, they came in the night and took it. I've been struggling this week to get to and from work and to get Luke to and from daycare. People have helped and I am immensely grateful. I know that if they could help me get the car back, they would. I am blessed to have such good friends. I thought I had things figured out and that I could get an instant loan for the tax refund only to find out this morning that I wasn't approved and that I have to wait another 10 days. And I've been concerned that my car will be auctioned off before I can get the money. Luke's stroller and other things are in my car and I feel bad that I was careless enough to leave them there. This is a bad time for me but there is a bright side.

My email from "the universe" this morning said that I just need to give myself permission. And the universe will take care of everything else.

My life has seemed like this constant struggle. To raise myself and then my children. To care for my grandchildren, especially Luke, who is totally dependent on me. Getting my bachelor's degree and then the graduate degree. Working even though I'm medically disabled. Struggle and more struggle.

Struggling hasn't worked for me and we all know what it means to keep doing the same thing expecting different results. I just need to let go. Let go and give myself permission to expect miracles. I tend to get so caught up with worrying about what form the miracles will take. I know, I know, ridiculous. My worrying will only block miracles.

So here I am folks (and universe) -- letting go. I give myself permission to stop worrying. To stop struggling in the same old ways. And finally, permission to accept the miracles the universe has waiting for me.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

From Rev Alicia

So...what are your "soul mate" thoughts? Are you looking for your "other half;" your soul mate? Have you found him or her? Do you believe such a thing exists?

I will never forget the day, when I was 15 years old, and my dad and I sat at the kitchen table and had a talk about these things. Now, to set the scene, you have to know that my mom and dad had an incredible marriage. They not only loved each other, they liked each other. They rarely fought, and had lots of fun. I surely would say that they were one-and-only soul mates. As my dad and I talked, I asked him if he believed that there was one perfect mate for each person. My romantic heart was horrified when he replied that he thought that a person could fall in love more than once, with more than one person, but when you make a decision that you will spend your life with one then you commit to that one for the rest of your life. Not the romantic reply that would support my "one and only" theory. Of course the reply I had been looking for was that when he saw my mom, it was all over; that was his one and only and there never was nor would there ever be another woman for him. As it turned out, my mom and dad were married for almost 60 years when he left this realm. And my mom still says that there was no one but my dad for her.

As I have come to grow and mature personally and spiritually I, too, have come to see things differently... differently than I had previously...differently than my dad. The concept of soul mate has changed dramatically for me. I have learned that "falling in love" and loving are two different things entirely. I learned that romance and soul mates are not mutually exclusive, nor are they always what we thought they were. To say that there absolutely either is nor is not such a thing as soul mate would be to limit God.

Like all of our wonderful, diverse universe of body, mind and spirit, the concept of soul mates is a paradox. So, I invite you to consider this possibility. In the Revealing Word, Charles Fillmore co-founder of Unity states: "Man is Spirit, soul, and body. Spirit is the I AM, the individuality (the God part of us). The body is soul expressing, and soul includes the conscious and subconscious minds. Soul makes the body, the body is the outer expression of the soul, and bodily health is in exact correspondence to the health of the soul."

In other words, the soul is the sum total of our present level of awareness. It is the vehicle through which we are growing and perfecting our awareness to it's full potential. This is the part of us that grows and develops as we mature and gain spiritual wisdom and understanding. The more we grow and develop, the more of our true essence; Spirit, we express...the more health we express...the more prosperity and harmony we express...the more love we express and experience.

Considering me a soul mate is more like something we earn by right of consciousness than something we find by chance in the elevator, telling us "you complete me."

According to the law of attraction, we draw by right of consciousness that which we need for our spiritual growth. Could this mean that the unhappy relationship experiences we have had in the past were soul mates of sorts...helping us to develop our soul? And then when we "got it," when we learned the lesson, devloped the spiritual quality or strength, we were able to either release, or elevate that uncomfortable relationship to a higher level. Hmmm...worth pondering. Holding THAT thought, what if we quit too soon...before we "got" the lesson? What would we most likely attract then? This is where the "frying pan into the fire" cliche comes from.

I think that the biggest error belief that some of us tend to hold about soul-mates is that we will meet our soul-mate, fall in love at first sight, and live happily ever after. We think it will be easy and smooth riding for the rest of our lives.

Our relationships, like our souls, are vehicles through which we grow and develop. We learn and grow not by basking in the glow of romance, but by learning to give and receive and share; we learn and grow not by our easy compatibility but by overcoming our differences and challenges; we learn and grow not by the downhill coast, but by the uphill struggles we share and support each other.

And I embrace and even higher concept of soul-mate. I see all people, and all creation as soul-mates. Through our actions and interactions we come together to learn and develop as together we succeed, fail, love, hate, laugh, cry, pray and praise; as together we overcome self-centered narcissism in favor of the truth of our Oneness in Diversity. Then...and only then...will we truly, fully and completely experience our Oneness in God.

On being assertive/a hard ass

Having patients "no-show" for appointments is nothing new for many professions: doctors, nurses, and therapists. In the "world" being a therapist and having someone not show for their appointment can be frustrating and expensive. In prison, it is likewise quite frustrating. Because in this setting, I have to actually hunt them down and talk to them, even if they decide not to show. And they know this. They can request an appointment, knowing full well that their rights as offenders means I have to see them within 48 hours after I get their request. So I go through the TDC computer and have a special pass that gets printed and handed to them the night before, in their dorms, that says they have an appointment for the next day. They use that appointment to get out of going to work or to school or whatever. And sometimes, they then decide to just hang out in their dorm and sleep, watch TV, play dominoes, or whatever. After all, they know I've got to come find them, right? So that's what I've been doing. And whenever I try to bring this up as a therapeutic issue, they tell me they did not get their pass or else they got it and the security officers wouldn't let them. And because I do know these things are POSSIBLE, I have let them go. Other folks do not and write them disciplinary cases for this. So I finally started writing cases myself the other day. And sure enough, I had two patients who came in very angry with me. One reminded me that he was in prison for assault. Yet I held my ground and informed them that we would deal with their anger therapeutically. Likewise for their lack of accountability. It worked out okay and both ended up leaving much less angry than when they came in. Since I wrote an additional five cases yesterday, I'm sure I'll have lots more angry men on Monday. And eventually, I'll have a lot less no-shows. One of the nurses said I officially became a member of the hard ass club, congratulating me. And you know what? I'm okay with that. And with the respect that it garners.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Living alone (just the two of us)

The empty nest is underrated...Nora Ephron

That quote stays at the bottom of this blog but I don't think it's very noticeable. I always know it's there. And I fervently believe it. Not that this applies to Baby Luke, but it does to everyone else in my nest. Those who live in it and those who visit a bit too frequently. I'm dreaming of the day when Luke and I can move out and get our very own place. May 2007 is the plan.

We'll do very well in our own quiet home. I've always enjoyed living alone -- during the times when my little (or not so little) birds have flown away. Luke and I both do best with limited stimulation. I know, I know, I used to be somewhat of a social butterfly but that side of me comes out for very limited engagements now. And I've always liked a place to charge my batteries. Don't you all? One of my favorite readers just got her very own home and I know how much she adores it. Somehow I think she feels more alone in her house than she did living alone in an apartment. I can understand that. Of course, I also know she'll quickly fill the house with her beautiful art work and then with memories of good times with family and friends. But I do envy her. Not just for the very cute home, but for the place to herself. Luke and I would/will have a ball in our very own HOUSE! And that is something that I am intending for us. Would those of you who read this posting hold that thought for us? And while you're at it, hold the thought that I'll be able to keep Luke and raise him as my own. He already is, you know, in my heart.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Everything is relative

Yesterday, an inmate threatened to kill me. He was in my office, lunging over my desk, with spittle flying from his mouth as he described how he planned to do away with me. His plans were not very practical, if I must say, because he planned to "lethal injection" me. And as he was handcuffed at the time, with no syringe in sight, I felt rather safe from that threat. All the same, I still did not feel comfortable until I finally convinced the security officer to remove him from my office. Even then, he still loitered, shouting at me and about me, at my doorway. I promptly stood up, closed, and locked my door until he could be taken far, far away. Now the guy was genuinely psychotic and so I did not file charges against him. And I genuinely felt that I was in more danger from whatever his spittle might have contained. Spittle...handcuffs...lethal injection...everything is relative.

Today, I was called to an emergency in lock-up where an inmate was threatening to harm others because he had been denied his commissary. After hearing his story, I began to understand his concern. When you have been locked up in solitary confinement for 6 months, having a little store-bought food can be very important. Everything is relative.

Another emergency today, an offender was threatening to harm others because he was angry about being housed in a dorm he did not like. Two weeks ago, I shipped him to a crisis unit for similar threats. They sent him back, with notes that he was doing just fine. Today, I informed security they could take disciplinary action against him. He was just fine and I was an hour late leaving work. Everything is relative.

I get home, tired, hungry (no time for lunch again today), and in need of a bit of understanding. I have an argument with a family member who is not in the least understanding. Again with the relative.

I'm going back tomorrow and plunging in again. Surely I do more good than harm there. And being there will keep me from being here with the family. Everything is indeed relative.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

More of life in prison

I feel at time that working in prison and coming home to live in the world is a bit like straddling two very different lifestyles. The lingo, for instance. To "buy the hog" or to "sell the hog" refer to playing a con game. The "hog" is a scam, B.S., or being played. This happens constantly. The offenders have nothing but time on their hands to find ways to con the employees. And they are very good at this. Remember, most of them have the diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder. They have no qualms about hurting someone for personal gain. Sometimes the gain is leverage against an employee. If they can get close to that employee, by learning some personal information about them, they can eventually get that person to break a rule. Once the rule is broken, the offender will then use that to blackmail the employee to break more rules. Eventually the broken rules will include bringing contraband into prison or having sex or doing something else that will benefit the offender. Buying the hog is when the employee gets played. Sometimes the hog is very small. The offender may ask the employee for a paperclip. Contraband. Who would think? That's the thing, employees have to be constantly diligent. I believe this is more difficult for health care workers. We're trained to help people. Even inmates, right? That's our job. And the inmates love that. We're such easy prey. But I've noticed the guards are also easily played. The offenders will call the guards "boss" and the guards begin to depend on the subserviance for their own sense of self-worth. They compliment the guards. They notice when they have on new uniforms or new hairstyles (the women). And if they learn information about the families, they'll ask about them often. I've noticed myself beginning to buy the hog a few times. In my case, it's when I'm beginning to buy into a patient's report of ficticious symptoms. Or when they tell me they're meds aren't working (I later find they're not being compliant with meds). Sometimes they'll tell me they've never been able to trust any other therapist (man, they're good). Many times they'll start crying in the office and then apologize for it over and over. Friday, an offender stopped me when I was walking past the dorm cells. He told me how he had to talk to me right away. He just heard his young daughter was pregnant, considering abortion, and he felt stuck in prison and unable to help her. He just HAD to talk to me immediately, without going through "all that paperwork." He could tell I am a really good person. (I assured him he had no idea what kind of person I was). But these are just a few examples. Then I'll get this sinking feeling in my gut. And I get angry, both with myself for buying into it and with the offender who is working so hard to sell it. Then when I leave work, I find myself continuing to be diligent about people selling the hog to me. I guess for me, that's not such a bad thing. I have had tendencies to be naive. This is an important learning experience for me. I just have to find a way to balance without becoming jaded.

And I know that very bad things happen in prison. So much of it is hidden, of course, from the eyes of employees. But in counseling, you learn how dangerous it can be for offenders. And so many of them proclaim their innocence to me. Especially the ones convicted of sexual assault or sexual assault of a child. And there is a part of me that wants to believe them, if for no other reason than that it would make it easier to provide that unconditional regard. Someone said Friday that our population there is 65% child offenders. How do I maintain an attitude of wanting to help them with their depression or anger or anxiety or whatever when there is a big part of me that things child offenders should suffer in prison? Things I'm working on. That and trying not to buy any hogs.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Note to previous post

I've got to correct myself: Big Unity did not actually tell us to leave the church that year and go into the cold winter snow. What the usher said was, "would we please take the child into the cry room?" Not cold, no snow. The Big Unity is full of very nice people. And my friends from Little Unity told me they were actually entertained by the granddaughter's dancing this year. REAL nice people.

And I'm SO excited about the new year. Glad I stopped making all of those troublesome resolutions and just decided to be good to myself. Is anyone else out there as excited as I am?