Social service is unique because the profession jokes about self-care and reflective practice, but deep down we all know how pertinent routine use of both skills are to our work and the outcomes of the work we do. I wrote this poem for my last assignment of my field seminar class during my junior year of college in pursuit of a BSW. My internship was at a residence for homeless women with mental health and/or chemical dependence pasts and I had learned so much about my own person in addition to that of others. I didn’t take the assignment, which was to conduct a journal, very seriously because I was cynical, tired, and done with writing journal entries that let the faculty know that I was indeed paying attention. But after I turned it in, I received an email from my professor adjunct, asking me if she had permission to share my reflection at the faculty meeting. To my surprise, I reread the poem and decided to share it here too. In short, reflective practice is the practice of thinking about where you are, what you do, and how you do things- it’s a life-long skill that makes an incredible difference in how you see the world and who you are. Here goes, enjoy!
Frustration boiled from my nose,
Halfway brewing down my toes,
Feeling almost like burnt coals,
As midday starts to toll-
‘Round the halls and down the road,
Past the officer being bold,
Beneath St. Thomas’ arches rolls,
Around the world, it can’t be told…
The tiny voice inside my head,
I knew it couldn’t stay in bed,
It haunts me with thoughts instead,
Ideas bounce as thick as tire treads-
Where to go and who to see?
Who will I meet at half-past-3?
Why do colors come and leave?
What have I done to bruise my knees?
Triumph fills my heart with joy,
Success’ fist on distraction’s toy,
My own brain enemy to my envoy-
A crucial step to breaking noise:
Recognizing the least expected,
Understanding when I become distracted,
Knowing that it’s fine to pause what’s listed,
Helps me sit and pause and listen.
I’ve known I’m high-strung, wound, and gifted,
I know I stink at stopping to listen,
And when I’m stressed my attention misses,
Opportunities for me to grow that distance.
When I breathe I hear that voice
That tells me what I am missing:
Character, qualities, and actions too-
It all comes down to me and you.
We value clients, past and all,
We serve to advocate against discrimination’s call.
We stand for dignity, no judgements made,
We love and laugh and celebrate.
We embrace perspectives, and I have too-
I’ve learned to live and love like you.
We learn life-long with work and school,
We learn to better ourselves and tools.
We work for justice, not monetary goals,
We hope to make this world a home.
Humans behave- I’m not an exception,
It’s something I’ve learned from this practice intention.
Environments impact a system galore,
Sub-systems help the world explore,
Differences across times, generation, and more-
Something to investigate for our future world.
We think in patterns and live predictably,
Something that’s obvious if experience existed,
The Earth spins around politics, tradition, and war,
Systems exist and refuse change more and more.
I breathe to ensure I intentionally stay,
I breathe to make change in positive ways,
I breathe to keep my mind sharp day after day,
I breathe to avoid harm- at all costs I’ll pay.
I breathe to approach peers without a delay,
I breathe to examine myself from my mind to my ways.