How My Past has Brought Me to The Present – as a Rehab Counselor! Part 4

My story leading up to my career as a rehabilitation counselor who focuses on job placement continues!

Many of my first jobs in the big city of Des Moines, Iowa were secured through temporary staffing agencies.  I find the benefit of staffing agencies invaluable! From a personal perspective, working for a staffing agency really helped me to develop my career. Here’s a link to an article of the benefits of staffing agencies from a business point of view.

The View Wasn’t Quite Like This When I Started as  Kelly Girl!

Specifically, at this time in my life in 1984-85, I started employment through Kelly Services.  I worked at many businesses, mostly in downtown Des Moines, but also at businesses in other areas of the city for about a year. I worked around a variety of people, and in diverse environments. It was great!

The clerical skills I used (and greatly enhanced on the job) to help these companies included ~ 95 words per minute typing speed, (can’t quite reach that speed anymore!), reception responsibilities such as greeting clientele, answering phones, taking messages, filing, and other general secretarial office procedures. Again, it was great!

To name a few of my assignments from memory (come on little computer in thy brain):  American Can, The Embassy Club, Chamberlin Kirke-Van Orsdel, Sears Credit Card, Younkers Department Store (in the Marketing Department). Besides the tragedy, this is another reason why I shed a tear over the Younkers fire in March 2014…

Image result for many jobs I loved my temporary clerical jobs!

While working for Kelly Services as a temp during the day, I also worked part-time at the Target Café on the weekends (when the Target was on Fleur Drive).  I catered to all the hungry shopper’s food needs.  I made pizzas, pretzels, popcorn, nachos, sandwiches, chicken tenders, fries, and the rest of the snack bar options.  It was a nice job to have. And I never left hungry! At that time, I also lived right across Fleur in an apartment with my sister Janice, so I just walked to and from work!

Additionally during this time period in my life, in the evening I worked on the top floor of the Federal Building for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  (I remember watching the construction of The Plaza across 3rd Street…which was completed in November of 1985) After receiving on-the-job training, I called farmers and asked specific questions about crops and livestock, while entering codes and farmer responses into the computer. It was an interesting job to have! Data entry was valuable, as was good communication skills.

I’ll never forget one farmer, who upon listening to my introduction replied “I’m sleeping.”  I appreciated his ability to sleep and talk….and respected his underlying wishes (and politely wished him good night – it was like 8:00pm, and hung up…farmers=hard-workers.)  Because of my direct experience with telemarketing in a call center environment, I have insight into the nature of work as a telemarketer and its business value.  In other words, it’s a viable occupation and the person on the other end simply has job to do.  Please respect that.

Work as a telemarketer requires excellent communication skills

In 1986, I applied and was hired at Mercy Medical Center as a correspondence clerk.  The medical records clerk job description is very important to healthcare. Click here for a job description for medical records clerk.  Commonly a medical records clerk needs an associate level college degree.

I was hired at Mercy because of my nursing background, my knowledge of medical terminology and the courses I completed in anatomy and physiology, as well as my clerical abilities.  At this job, I worked days (the medical records department was a 24/7 operation). Each day, the phones were incessant with callers wanting medical records and the incoming mail filled with correspondence from patients, doctors and other medical facilities requesting records.  Oh, and the back log – stacked to the ceiling in my supervisor’s office…

My work as a correspondence clerk was a lot!  After opening the mail, I logged everything in.  Then, I had to locate the medical record file.  The storage area containing medical records was vast as was the sheer size of some of the files.  There was a lot of paperwork, nursing notes, testing results, surgical records…on and on and on.  At times the record was on microfiche, which required visiting the basement to locate boxes near the (aahhhh) morgue.

After locating and retrieving the file (which involved accuracy and a check and balance process), the contents of the file were reviewed, the information that was requested was clipped and copied.

Image result for copy machine cartoon To this day a bit of animosity to large copy machines remains within. 

Then the requested information was prepared, a cover letter attached, and mailed, faxed, or delivered via internal mail procedures.  Again, a lot of documentation of what was done and to who, oh and how much was charged.

One day, I learned about the availability of civil service tests to work for the government.  So, I took a test or two or three, did well, and applied with the State of Iowa.  I was hired as a Clerk Typist III-IV for the State of Iowa at the Bureau of Disability Determination Services (DDSB) in the Department of Education.

At that time DDSB was located in the Jessie Parker Building, 510 East 12th Street, Des Moines.  I have lots of good memories, met many friends  (I love you Chele Ridout!), and learned a lot about work and disability.

As I blog through time and space both forward and backward, I have no idea how many parts this story will go!  I hope you enjoy it.  Please provide me with feedback or comments.  I love to learn about what people do with their skills and abilities!

More to come, please stay tuned for Part 5.

Initial publication date: December 12, 2011

___________________

 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Why I Got Into Rehab Counseling….I Love Placement and Life, Too! – Part 3

HERE IS MY STORY, continued oN – Part 3

To understand my passion for job placement (and caring for others!), I’ve blogged about my former jobs and learning experiences.  This helps me (but I do feel kinda old going waaaayy back in time) look at a variety of occupations from a unique advantage.  Thank you for reading….and continue on!

In June of 1983, I enrolled at North Iowa Area Community College, Mason City, Iowa  and took practical nursing coursework.   Here is a list of the coursework along with the everyday tasks in a Licensed Practical Nurse Career.

NIACC, known at times as Tinker Toy College!

While at NIACC, I lived in the dorms. Yes, many interesting stories in my memory bank! I recently visited campus and my room looks exactly the same (read outdated)!  It was cool to walk around the campus and relive some memories : ) .  The dorms are on one side with a path across a lake (read waaaayy  COLD in the winter) leading on to the classroom buildings.  When not taking campus courses, we were doing practicums at the hospital or at a nursing facility.

The hospital training was at Mercy Medical Center North Iowa.  Keep in mind it’s a bit of a driving trek from the NIACC side of Mason to the hospital. I remember one extra cold morning (aren’t they all!).  I went out to the parking lot carefully, it’s dark, windy, icey and cold. Brrr. There’s my little blue car (a Plymouth Champ – fondly called Chump). The Chump was frozen solid in the dorm parking lot. Originally Chump was my mom‘s car, and I eventually acquired her and drove many a trip back and forth from Iowa Falls to Mason City, mostly on Highway 65.

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The Chump, she had a 5 speed stick shift and a sun/moon roof!

I had to go back into the dorms and locate help! Hey, don’t forgot how butt cold I would’ve been, and am right now just thinking about the cold. BTW, I have Raynaud’s syndrome, probably related to this day!?! No, there have been many many times growing up in Northern Iowa for a young lady to freeze her arss off!

I found help from a maintenance worker to unfreeze the locks, and ultimately I ended up going through the hatchback of the care (not the first time this would happen in my lifetime!)  I was wearing my light weight nursing uniform (coat too of course) and it wouldn’t been either a dress or top with linen pants). BTW: The average temperature in Mason City (population 28,000) is like 15°F in January! I’m pretty sure I had a fellow nursing student with me and we made it to the hospital for our clinical practicum on time which was 6:30 AM, or close to it! Our class had two males in it; and I’m curious what they’re up to so many years later.

Another update from Amy and hey, this is a great result from my decision to revise/repost some older writing material!  FYI: Mason City, Iowa, boasts the largest collection of Prairie School architecture outside Chicago.  A local non-profit organization, Wright on the Park, Inc. has information for me to share with you! I love architecture. Her’s an idea leading me to plan another trip to Mason in the future!

As an LPN student I wore a little white hat!

Another portion of the LPN clinical practicum was work at a nursing home (yes in Mason City….can’t recall the name of it at this point in time).  I recall caring for a man deep in the throes of Alzheimer’s disease.  When his wife came to visit, their interactions were …. well it’s hard to find the right words.

But it’s something I will not forget, as were many other experiences in the hospital and in the nursing home during my nurse training days.

Image result for nurse training cartoonI’ve always had a strong desire to care for all life!

Back to my nurse training days. During my clinicals, I learned the importance of being aware of other’s reactions and understanding why they react the way the do (Social Perceptiveness).

Nursing requires talking to others to effectively convey information (Speaking Skills), actively looking for ways to help people (Service Orientation), knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services including needs assessment techniques, quality service standards, alternative delivery systems, and customer satisfaction evaluation techniques (Customer and Personal Service Skills).

Nursing definitely requires the ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem (Problem Sensitivity) and using logic and analysis to identify the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches (Critical Thinking).

Image result for valueI value my nurse training immensely!

And of course, I also value my nursing career that followed! : )

Please note that Our country has a critical nursing shortage that is expected to intensify as baby boomers age and the need for health care grows.  This four page document titled Nursing Faculty Shortage Fact  was last updated: March 16, 2015 reveals many facts.

The value of positive clinical learning experiences is invaluable if we as a society want to attract, and retain good nursing students.  Click here for a article to reinforce the statement I just made. And we need to support our students and existing nurses. Here’s a link for information on the importance of nurse mentoring.

Image result for nurse cartoonI admire and respect nurses considerably.  

When hospitalized myself a few years ago in the summer at Iowa Lutheran Hospital from a severe reaction to poison ivy I paid a lot of attention to the staff. I was sent by ambulance from my doctor’s office to the ER, where I was treated and watched for a few hours, to be released home.  …Only to have to return hours later to the ER after calling out in the middle of the night [to my husband] that I really needed help!

I was full of poison from inhalation of smoke from burning logs / sticks in a firepit out at Cottonwood (Saylorville Lake). The sticks (I collected the sticks from my own back yard……..and made the fire) had the nasty nasty resin that I’m highly allergic to. I was an inpatient for about a week recovering from severe allergic contact dermatitis. And I made sure to give thanks and praise for such good nursing care.

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Be sure you do the same when you encounter a nurse!

Again, back to my nurse training days. I remember my initial CPR training with the full size dummy’s (Annie)! And I’ve received training ever since (oops Amy, update 12/16/2015: I need to recertify in First Aid, CPR and AED and I know my instructor training certificate has expired.)

Some training for you:  : ) Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency procedure which is performed in an effort to manually preserve intact brain function until further measures are taken to restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing in a person in cardiac arrest. The source for your training is through wikipedia : )

Anyway, I have been trained through the American Heart Association and through the American Red Cross.  In later days I would become more involved in both these agencies through the progression of my career. Ahh, time to link you to my resume….it’s in the download section of my website.

I’ve been wanting to design an interactive resume, as it will help me pronounce what’s most important in my background for a specific case where I may be called upon to serve as a vocational expert!

CPR is hands-only (no breaths) nowadays.

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On with my story… At some point, hard to pin that exact time in history at this moment, I traveled to and stayed in Irving, Texas for a month and a half or so, to help a friend with her growing family (play with babies and have fun). Right Tammy & Tony (RIP) Silvey!  I had one job interview, but never worked anywhere during my visit and returned to Iowa. Then I moved to Des Moines, Iowa in 1984 and stayed with my sister Janice who had an apartment on the Southside near the airport! I eventually moved in after her roommate moved out!

More to write about next week! Stay tuned for Part 4

Original publication date: December 5, 2011

__________________

My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

My Passion for Job Placement! Here is My Story – Part 2

To understand my passion for job placement, let me tell you a little about some of the jobs and experiences I’ve had growing up.  I mentioned in an earlier post the fact that childhood interests can help you find the right career.  This is so true!

To Thine Own Self Be True

My first job at age 13 was babysitting (okay, child care provider). Besides gaining transferable skills, Click here for transferable skills of a Childcare Provider, clearly “babysitting” sets the stage for good parental skills (I have 3 children).

However, even before this time in my life, I “held a job” as a swimmer.

Starting at age 6 through about age 17, I was a member of the Iowa Falls Scenic City Swim Club.  The coach, Bruce, was one hard arss.  Swim club is where I learned the art of practice, perseverance, perfecting a stroke, team work, and how to really hold your breath!

I recall the feeling of free style swimming the full length of the olympic-sized swimming pool (164 feet) without turning my head even once to take a breath.  I pretended I was a fish!My favorite trophy! (Body shape certainly wasn’t like mine!)

With babysitting, mowing neighbors’ lawns and swimming, along with cleaning my dad’s office space and the shop’s bathroom (ugg) at Culligan Soft Water, my summers were busy.

When I got a little older, I started walking beans (I was not very good) and detasseling corn (I was horrible.) Could be a height challenge (and my “accommodations” included a walker who was just a lot better than me with that horrible hoe and worse knife; and a tall guy who liked to help me by pulling the stalks way down to my level.) Because these were not reasonable accommodations and I knew that back then!, I voluntarily left….or I wasn’t called back to work a field, a mixture of both probably.

Randy, my beloved hubbie, on the other hand was retained by a farmer who “fired” the other boys because they ditched the hot fields in lieu of a cool dip in the nearby pond. Yes, he has a history of walking entire bean fields by himself……ahhh…..could you do that?

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Corn Stalks in Iowa Are Way Tall!

My first official job – with a real bonafide paycheck – was at Rocky’s Pizza as a food server (waitress is what we called it in the 70s, duh!) Rocco “Rocky” LaValle, (he was our guest speaker at our 30th class reunion dinner in July 2011) hired many young people in town to work for him for many years….there is much history.  As a food server skills in need are aplenty.  Click here for more information.

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Rocky’s Pizza Box Sign

I found both the above and below images online (click here for my disclaimer!!).  I’m not sure of the year, but Rocky’s moved into to a beautiful new location on Washington where you could really see the pizza making action in the front window!

I worked at the original location in about  1978 at about $1.85 hour,  plus tips of course! There’s a Facebook page about The History of Iowa Falls that gives great historical information about Rocky’s . What’s cool is how many past workers, including myself, post our memories!

Original Rocky’s Pizza

Along with the pizza joint, I also worked as a food server at an “upscale” fine dining restaurant – The Chateau.  It was actually a brick mansion on Rockyslvania “converted” into a restaurant. This food server work required a tweak on approaching customers and serving food, and I enjoyed it greatly.  Oh, I also wore a black and white uniform and got to serve beer and wine!  At the Chateau, I learned the art of salad making, and eating left-over crab legs (I know, I know, right off a used plate – ugg again!).  I have a picture somewhere of me in my uniform, ready to go to work. Mary Dunlay, remember working together as food server extraordinaires?! Remember the upstairs where we had to serve for special dinner parties, that wasn’t too convenient…let alone accessible!

On the flip side of “fine dining” establishment and fast food (I worked at Hardees too), I also have food serving experience working at a small truck stop in the country called The Junction north of Iowa Falls on the way to Hampton.  I remember some of my favorite customers, like the old farmer named Chris, of course in his overalls. He always tipped me! Along with serving, I did some food preparation and of course a lot of clean up and replenishment of food products and dining items. And I was responsible to operate the industrial dishwasher!

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The dishwasher was fun to run! (Most recently I am back into operating an industrial dishwasher, at our church when I volunteer for funeral meals!)

Alice the Cook was Queen! And she taught me a lot! There is a bench dedicated to her along the Iowa River in Foster Park, Iowa Falls, Iowa).

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I really loved making the incredibly yummy malts.  The leftovers!

I loved working at The Junction truck stop!  It was also really cool that my brother, Steven, worked next door at the truck stop’s fuel filling facility.  My brother Steven – I love you…RIP.  He was one hard worker…!

 

Image result for flagger cartoon    Image result for follow me truck

Stop! Now Follow Me!

I also worked as a  heavy road construction flagger, the person who moves the stop sign to control traffic.  I remember some interesting motorists who long ago passed through….! And I also drove the follow-me truck, But that got un-nerving to me as each time I made a back and forth pass through the zone, the [male] construction workers would stop and stare at me…how silly of them. ? Would’ve that been sexual harassment on the job? Nahh, these were just the big old road crew boys…! I just thought it was annoying, and just wanted to do my driving job!

Image result for ear of corn cartoon       Image result for forklift operator cartoon

Machine Operator and Forklift Operator! I loved it!

Additionally over the course of my early work history, I worked light industrial at the Alden Corn Processing plant in both the corn processing facility…standing at a de-shucking machine and shoving ears of corn through; and in the packing facility….working at the labeling conveyor as well as shrink wrapping pallets, and watching out for the fast moving forklifts. I was trained and did drive a forklift!

I held other good jobs at the Red Rooster Grill as a waitress, at Kmart as a cashier and at Hardees as a fast food service worker. All links provide further information on transferable skills!

In the summer of 1981 I took a nurse aide training course.  Following the training and upon receiving the certificate to be a Certified Nurse Aide, I was hired at Ellsworth Community Hospital.    I gained experience working on each shift over the course of my employment.  Each shift has its unique characteristics.  Talk about gaining incredibly valuable nursing skills.

On to nursing school……..stayed tuned….as I explore my past…..and realize it turned into a passion for job placement.

Stayed tuned for Part 3

Original publication date: November 28, 2011

__________________

My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

How did I Get Into Rehab Counseling? Here’s a Little Story

To understand my passion for rehabilitation counseling (my beloved career), let me first tell you a little about myself.

HERE IS MY STORY – Part 1:

As a September baby  – a Virgo!

I was born in 1963 in Libertyville, Illinois, into a hard working family.  My parents are from Chicagoland.  During my infancy and toddlerhood, my family lived in a small house in Mundelein, Illinois.  My father Richard “Dick” Prochnow worked for Sears Roebuck and Co earlier, and then later hired on with Culligan Soft Water.  He would end up working for the company for many, many years.

My mother Ann Dodge Prochnow cared for their five children (we are each 13-15 months apart!) and I am the “baby” of the family. Siblings are Julia born January 1959, Michael March 1960, Janice April 1961, Steven July 1962 and me Amy in September 1963. Ann & Dick’s first child, Richard, died in infancy in 1955, the same year my parents were married.

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Mom from Northbrook and dad from Buffalo Grove

Culligan promoted Dick to management and moved him (along with the crew later on) to Davenport, Iowa in 1966 and later we relocated to Battle Creek, Michigan when I was a preschool age, before moving to Iowa Falls, Iowa in 1968 and settling in. I started kindergarten at age 4.

The Scenic City

I’ll expand on my family and their work in another post.  Read all about it!  But on to me (well, I am the one posting this on my website!)

In a nutshell:   I was in a serious car/train accident in June 1979, the summer before my 11th grade.  I was 15 years old. I was a passenger in a car, sitting in the back seat. The car slammed into the train, and me, well, my body through the bucket seats and the nonexistent windshield with my head being smashed into a bolt on a box car. But the creepier thing is the train actually started to move, as the conductor was moving it into the yard. Of course, I had no idea what was going on at all. Thank God.

The car was totaled.  There were 3 other people in the car, all who sustained serious injuries, but we all lived. I used to have a disdain for the make and model of that green car, however in a sense it did save my life.

The train stopped moving, having only traveled a few years, stopping inches from a culvert. A passing car with a young couple came upon us. And for me, what I know now, is that a woman named Teri saved my life. Thank you Teri.

I was first transported by ambulance to Ellsworth Municipal Hospital to the ER and then moved by ambulance. I was hospitalized (in Mason City, Iowa) for a week with a broken right arm (ulna and radius), numerous lacerations, and a severe head wound requiring extensive plastic surgery.  We’re talking a lot of stitches, and bruises. I don’t remember any of this time in the hospital until I came out and was clearly doing better…

The accident kinda screwed up my life at that time (sure wish I had a rehab counselor to work with me!)  I dropped out of high school ½ way through 11th grade.  At the time, my mother  was working at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls in the placement office.  She “forced” me to enroll at the college, which I did reluctantly.  I was 17.  I first had to take the GED and pass!

State of Iowa High School Equivalency Diploma ~ Amy Elizabeth Prochnow November 10, 1981

After this positive life event, I moved on and audited courses at ECC ~ Ellsworth Community College (with much older classmates).  I then enrolled officially and took secretarial coursework….and in 1981 also graduated with a certificate in secretarial science.

To clarify these dates, 1981 was the year I should have graduated with my original high school classmates.  But instead, I went to college with “older” people, and my sister Janice Prochnow, two years older than me. I think we had one class together.

In the ECC Class of 1981 program below I’m listed under the first section, One Year Secretarial, the fifth student.  Janice, her name is the second to last column under the last section of the program titled Associate Degree Diploma, has 3 asterisks *** because she received honors and was a mid-term graduate.

Other people in the program are a couple friends who Janice graduated high school with in 1979, Patti Rieber, Janet Roozen and Melinda Rutzen. I remember being in class with some of the ECC male (read tall to me) basketball players!

panther

Here’s a picture of me and my older sister Julie Prochnow who is five years older than me, on the day we both graduated in October 1981.  (No picture of me and Janice for some reason, at least that I have!) I graduated from ECC with my secretarial science certification and Julie did from Iowa State University in recreational studies.

Notice Julie’s honor cords –  valedictorian!

After this robe wearing event, time to move on again!

Stayed tuned for Part 2

 

Nov 21, 2011 original publish date

 

___________________

 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

How My Past Brought Me to the Present! Death as Part of Living ~ Part 19

In the summer of 1994 I took a course called Death as Part of Living. The ISU course was held at the DMACC campus in Ankeny Iowa. Our class often met outside, which was really nice. I also remember taking the class with Chris Fehn, who would go on to join the rock group Slipknot and play drums as #3, Mr. Picklenose.

Chris Fehn at Allstate Arena in 2009

In the class we made genograms. According to good ole Wikipedia: “A genogram is a pictorial display of a person’s family relationships and medical history. It goes beyond a traditional family tree allowing the user to visualize hereditary patterns and psychological factors that punctuate relationships.It can be used to identify repetitive patterns of behavior and to recognize hereditary tendencies.

A genogram is created with simple symbols representing the gender, with various lines to illustrate family relationships.

Some genogram users also put circles around members who live in the same living spaces. Genograms can be prepared by using a complex word processor, or a computer drawing program. There are also computer programs that are custom designed for genograms. In class, we hand drew ours, and I still have mine.

It was really helpful to just think about members of my family, and gather more information from my parents. Ann & Dick’s firstborn son died in infancy.  Jump forward….my parents have been married for over 50 years (married September 3, 1955.). They are ages 74 & 78….  I have 3 brothers and two sisters, all close in age. Here we be:

Richard ~ born in 1955, died 4 days later

Julie ~ born in January 1959

Michael ~ born in March 1960

Janice ~ born in April 1961

Steven ~ born in July 1962

Amy (that’d be me) ~ born in September 1963

You Again!?

~ Ann and Dick Prochnow were busy ~

This closeness in age allowed our family to be involved in a wide variety of activities, some of which we did together and some apart. One example, each summer we took a two week vacation and traveled by station wagon around the United States. I remember South Dakota, Colorado, California, even Mexico and Canada….visiting many incredible places! Thank you mom and dad for these growing up experiences!

Our family togetherness instilled strong bonding, plenty of compromise, and of course, plenty of down and dirty drag out fights. Ahh, the memories. My family of orientation taught me how different personalities can be.  And you can say that again with my brothers and sisters….Totally Different!

Totally Different Peas in Our Family Pea Pod!

I want to share with you my brother Steven died at age 35 in a motorcycle accident. When I took this class, he was alive and living his life to its fullest.  I’ll write more about my bro next week.

Sometimes I worry about my parent’s deaths. Or my husband’s. Or heaven help me, one of my children. But I have to stop and remind myself that death is part of living. My friend Becky Tjaden is on her death bed. Becky served as my “surrogate golf mother.” What I mean is that because my mom had 3 daughters, when it came time to participate in daughter/mother golf tournaments, I was luckily passed on to Becky. She was a great teacher of golf for me. I still have the Daisy putter she gave me.

I Always Think of Becky When I Use It

I see death as a way to have a renewed relationship ~ with yourself, another human, or God. To me, death is change, and if you’re prepared, the best change you’ll ever experience! So those you leave on Earth know you’re where you’ve been heading throughout your lifetime!

I came across a beautiful paper by someone who agrees, that being Olive Jones. Here’s a link to what Olive wrote titled No Death Just Change by Olive Jones

Death is what makes life precious…

Yesterday was Easter. I hope you had a blessed and Happy Easter along with a great time.  We did here.  Mom and dad, Julie, Mike and Myra and Ryanne, all my children (Nick, Jake and Arin) and Jake’s girlfriend. All during Lent we have a special time to think about death as part of living. And now into the Easter Season, we have a special time to really start living.  

Have a great life!

___________________

My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

How My Past has Brought Me to The Present! ~ A Non Traditional Student, Enlightenment & Marshmallows ~ Part 18

In my last blog, I started with the Little Brain – so on to him! Being the “non-traditional student” (aka not being 20ish) and being pregnant was … I’m trying to find the right descriptor ~ enlightening.

I was given greater knowledge and understanding about my situation!

Seriously I was enjoying my life immensely (still am!)  At that time, I was 30 years old, on my second pregnancy and feeling great.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound 2-1-1994……he’s sucking his thumb!  He being Jacob!

Here’s another glimpse of my story while attending Iowa State University. In the Spring of 1994, along with the 3 credit hour Social Work & Social Policy course I took and wrote about in the blog on March 5, 2012, I was taking 16 more credit hours, including one course called Human Diseases: Causes and Prevention (Health Studies 350).

Here is an excerpt from a paper I wrote on May 2, 1994, titled Personal Disease Projection: An Awareness Guide to My Own Health and Lifestyle.

My current lifestyle finds me reaching explicitly for a very positive and healthy outlook. I am very much enjoying my happy (yet workaholic) husband and our rambunctious five-year-old. We are eagerly awaiting a new child sometime in early August. I feel being 30 is treating me pretty good and I really can’t ask for more at this point in time (except to have my degree in Community Health Education NOW).

Since I am taking 19 credits this semester it was mandatory that I quit my day job, therefore, I only have one part-time job which pays a lot and is pretty non-stressful (I moonlight as a transcriptionist).  We recently (last October) purchased our first home and live in a nice, quiet neighborhood with friendly neighbors (except the mean old man right next door – anyway….)

During this time in my life, and I mentioned it in at the end of my paper,

“A possible cause of alarm is my stress management level.  I plan to learn new strategies to alleviate the stressors that can get to me. I am going to listen to more relaxing music – and try out the old adage of counting to 10 before I get angry.”

Gee, I guess I should’ve given my self a break…..!  And I hope you do whatever you need to/want to do to relax as well.  Here’s some great ideas for you to choose from to squash the stress:

Fun Ways To Reduce Stress

Author Unknown

Did you know…

-Laughter can reduce stress hormones
-Laughter boosts your immune system
-Laughter lowers your blood pressure
-Laughter can exercise certain muscles (diaphragm, abdominal, facial, neck, back, and leg)

Looking for a quick easy way to ‘work out’? Laugh! Did you know that laughing 100 times is the equivalent to 15 minutes on an exercise bike or 10 minutes on a rowing machine. Yep…it is. Amazing isn’t it?

 Here are amusing ways to reduce stress: (Some you may not want to try at home)

Yummy 

  • Jam 39 tiny marshmallows up your nose and try to sneeze them out.
  • Use your Mastercard to pay your Visa.
  • Pop some popcorn without putting the lid on.
  • When someone says “have a nice day”, tell them you have other plans.
  • Forget the Diet Center and send yourself a candygram.
  • Make a list of things to do that you have already done.
  • Dance naked in front of your pets.
  • Put your toddler’s clothes on backwards and send him off to pre-school as if nothing is wrong.
  • Retaliate for tax woes by filling out your tax forms in Roman numerals.
  • Tattoo “out to lunch” on your forehead.
  • Tape pictures of your boss on watermelons and launch them from high places.
  • Leaf through a “National Geographic” and draw underwear on the natives.
  • Go shopping. Buy everything. Sweat in it. Return it the next day.
  • Pay your electric bill in pennies.
  • Drive to work in reverse.

 Freddy 

  • Relax by mentally reflecting on your favorite episode of “The Flintstones” during the finance meeting.
  • Tell your boss to blow it out of his mule and let him figure it out.
  • Read the dictionary upside down and look for secret messages.
  • Bill your doctor for the time spent in his waiting room.
  • Braid the hair in each nostril.
  • Write a short story, using alphabet soup.
  • Lie on your back eating celery using your navel as a salt dipper.
  • Stare at people through the lines of a fork and pretend they’re in jail.
  • Make up a language and ask people for directions.
  • Write a message to your doctor on your hip so he can see it during the bone marrow harvest.

Practice up on how to walk like a zombie

  • Count how many minutes it takes to stare at the phone before it rings.
  • Bring “Three Stooges” movies and insist your nurse has to see them with you before you’ll take your chemo.
  • Buy a fake i.d. and have a free Denny’s breakfast for you birthday.
  • Tell your family you have plans and then do absolutely nothing.
  • Leave a message with farm animal sounds on someone’s answering machine.
  • Redecorate your house. Fingerpaint the walls and blame it on the kids.Determine your strength. Thumb wrestle with your own right and left hand
  • See how many people are listed in the phone book with your last name. Call and tell them you’re their long lost cousin.
  • Walk around the block and count all the pot holes in your street.
  • Read tea bags.
  • Give yourself a pat on the back and affirm that you made it another day.

Be truthful….how many have you really done….or really plan to do soon?  In quick review, I have done…well, never mind!  Do you have any good stressor squashers you’d like to add?

Jake's drawing Landshark

Back to Jacob….drawing helps destress him!

Today, Monday March 19, 2012, leads us closer and closer to Jacob’s high school graduation! The ceremony is on Sunday, May 27 at 7:00 pm at the Drake Knapp Center. Time to celebrate!

Happy Spring!

 

___________________

My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

 

 

 

How My Past has Brought Me to The Present! The Student with 2 Brains ~ Part 17

In Spring of 1994 I took 19 credits, and I did really well academically. I like to relate it to the fact that at that time in my life, I had two brains! Yes you read that right!

I was pregnant with my second child!

 Ahhh, the beautiful brain. FYI:  Your brain weighs 2 to 4 pounds. Your brain is comprised of at least 60% fat. It is the fattest system in your body. It’s a compliment when you get called a fat head!

I happen to be quite fond of the amygalda (uh mig’ dull uh).  The amygalda (aka the “emotional brain) is a set of subcortical nuclei that is important for perceiving in others and having in oneself emotional or affective behaviors and feelings (eg: fear, anger). It’s a component of the limbic system. Emotions convey a lot useful information. In a future blog, I will write about emotional intelligence, but for this week’s writing I want to focus on brain health.

The amygalda – the name, comes from ‘like an almond’

I’ve been attending Brain Health Seminars hosted by Emeritus Senior Living in Urbandale, Iowa. The topics are very interesting and revolve around Paul David Nussbaum Ph.D’s research.  Dr. Nussbaum is a Clinical Neuropsychologist and Adjunct Professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.  Website for  Paul David Nussbaum, Ph.D.  

Dr. Nussbaum is an International Leader on Brain Health Lifestyle and has recently written a book titled SAVE YOUR BRAIN The 5 Things You Must Do to Keep Your Mind Young and Sharp”

Yes, there are six slices, but who could resist?

The five critical areas of brain health, or the “slices to the brain health pie,” include:

Socialization, Physical Activity, Mental Stimulation*, Spirituality and Nutrition

One of the Brain Health Seminars focused on *Mental & Cognitive Stimulation.  The featured speaker was Polly Johnston, Program Specialist, Iowa Alzheimer’s Association.  Polly explains Dr. Nussbaum focuses on the mind’s five main cognitive functions:

~  Language Skills  ~  Memory  ~  Concentration & Attention  ~ Visual & Spatial  ~ Executive Functions (Logic & Reasoning) ~

 Polly taught our group how to come up with ideas to cognitively stimulate our brain.  She recommends we try something new and challenging each day.  Here is one I love: If you are right handed, (I am), use your left hand to eat, write or use your car keys. I personally like to shoot pool positioning the cue stick in my left hand (not that it helps my game, but I do it anyway!)

Many years ago, when I broke my right wrist in a car accident,  I had to use my left hand quite a bit for the six weeks it was in a cast. For example, I wrote, ate, brushed my teeth and washed my hair left handed (covering cast with a bread bag so it wouldn’t get as wet!) Using my left hand/arm helped me conceptualize how important it is to try to be ambidextrous. My husband claims to be….maybe to some degree, luckily for him his mother was a lefty!

Other ideas to exercise your brain include get yourself a Brain Games/Puzzle Book (there are plenty on line to do). 

Plan for exciting travel!

 Learn a new musical instrument (this engages different parts of your brain and why our DMPS schools need to never ever rid our students of the opportunities for band, choir, symphony…..).

Additionally, listen to wonderful classical music!

In his high school days, my son Nick played:  alto sax, bari sax, flute, baritone, and piano.  My daughter Arin takes band lessons (thank you Mr. Most Talented Craig Swartz, Instrumental Music Director of Des Moines Public Schools) and plays the flute for her school. She also self-taught in a number of instruments, and plays the guitar, bass, ukulele and piano. As an aside, my 15 year old beauty also self-taught in sign language! I am in awe when she signs songs. Absolutely beautiful.

I blog…..which really helps my brain! I receive the online Word of the Day (I love this). And, well I work! Think brain, think, how else do I exercise my brain? Does golf count (without getting pissed off?) I really want to play the piano again (I took lessons from Ms. Schweiger for many years as a youngster while growing up in Iowa Falls.)

What do you do to exercise your brain?

I started this blog with the baby inside topic….but never did mention Jacob…..next week young man! Read on!

___________________

 

How My Past has Brought Me to The Present! More Recollections of ISU – Part 16

Hope you enjoyed last week’s blog post about motivation. On to more recollections of my days at ISU:

In the Spring of 1994 I took Social Work 261, taught by Stephen M. Aigner.  For the course,  I was required to read a book about the depression titled “In The Shadow of the Poorhouse”, by Michael B. Katz.

I still remember the book….17 years later (woah)

From Library Journal

According to Katz, the American welfare system that nobody likes has been able to resist fundamental change over two centuries because of its symbiosis with the social structure and the political economy. From his analysis of the history of welfare in the United States he finds that there have always been contradictions among its goals: deterrence, discipline, compassion, control, and patronage. Real reform, unlikely in the near future, would require that both social insurance and public assistance be replaced with full employment at fair pay, complemented by a social wage to all who are unable to work or find a suitable job. A stimulating challenge to the benevolent interpretation of welfare in America; recommended for academic and large public libraries. Harry Frumerman , formerly with Economics Dept., Hunter Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

I prepared a report after reading it titled “A Personal Look Into the History of Welfare in America.” The instructor gave me a 100 on the paper and wrote “You’ve worked hard on this and it shows. One of the better papers I’ve had in five years!” The instructor encouraged me to think about a career in social work. Hum, I pondered….

Here’s a few paragraphs from the report I authored April 6, 1994, to answer a couple of questions from Chapter 9:  

Did the claims of critics about the expansion of social welfare hold water?  In my view, the criticisms of social welfare didn’t hold water for a number of reasons. The expansion of social welfare included many new sources of benefits and programs that assisted all level income populations Benefits included in-kind programs, implementation of a retirement wage and increase in public welfare roles. Nutritional programs such as school lunches and dietary supplements for women and young children were expanded. Food stamp application grew and housing projects were subsidized. The commitment of social welfare programs to minimize poor quality living conditions and improve services to enhance human development and the general quality of life was an important step in the continuation of our country’s welfare policy.

Some people criticized the increase in welfare reform. Social insurance was seen to undermine the free enterprise system. And of course, the well known dubious demoralizing work ethic effect thought to exist was ever present. Many people also complained of the increase in federal government expenditures, yet the helping profession wasn’t the only service increased. Perhaps the critics didn’t view health care and legal assistance as beneficial to the entire country.

Relative to other western industrialized countries, how does the U.S. compare in its treatment of its citizens? When all national expenditures for social welfare are added and compared to the gross national product, there is a remarkable comparison between the U.S. and other industrialized demographic countries. The U.S. relies the heaviest on public assistance because our people have lower relative incomes and fewer incentives to work. Our government provides its citizens with a semi (half-there) welfare state. It taxes its citizens fully while only partially helping the disadvantaged members of its population. Compared to Switzerland, the United Kingdom, West Germany and Australia, the U.S. ranks last in its methods and principals of providing helpful assistance to its people.

 Helping Client Systems

Although I didn’t become a social worker, my career as a rehab counselor is similar in nature. Paramount to our work is building relations with clients and client systems. Relationships are based on mutual participation in identifying goals that are practical for the Client.  In my profession as a rehabilitation counselor, I have chosen to focus on helping people find their true vocation.

 A vocation (from Latin vocare, meaning “to call”), is a term for an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which he or she is suited, trained, or qualified. Though now often used in non-religious contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity.  Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocation

 

Into the second week of Lent, I thank God for giving me this gift to help others.

I hope you enjoyed reading. On to Part 16!

___________________

My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

How My Past has Brought Me to The Present! Part 15 – Motivation and Your Homework

In my post last week, I wrote about motivation…and my Grandpa Jack. This week I am continuing with this omnipresent topic of life.  Motivation is what drives an individual from the inside. It cannot be learned or taught, this is just who you are!

But, last week I was so wrapped up in my writing, I forgot to give you your homework! (Is that lack of motivation or forgetfulness?) Be sure to draw that line and not get too strict with yourself if you forgot something!

Your homework On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest level: What level of motivation do you feel is required for you to get fit?  To study hard?  To succeed at your job? (add your own….)

This sure looks like a baby teething ring!

Your daily “to dos” or weekly goals are a huge part of how you view your level of motivation. They differ from minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, and month to month, year to year! It’s helpful to score your motivation related to specific goal(s) on a daily basis according to your schedule and plans for the day. You don’t have to be detailed.

Your motivation score for cleaning your desk or for cutting your toenails might be a 2.  While weighing yourself or finishing a project a day early might be a 5.  How about a 10 as your score for acing that test, doing well in an upcoming job interview, or working to your best ability every day?

For example, last Thursday, I said:  Hey, Amy, it’s a 10 for the day that I will work on my taxes to get ready for tomorrow’s meeting with the tax guy.  I got it done!

Another example, today is Monday, I’m giving myself a 5 for starting that research project, but in my mind if I don’t get it started today, I know it’ll move up higher in score value (to a 6 or 7) by tomorrow. If there’s a deadline (which I think of when I hear of schedules, assignments, time limits or cutoff dates), be sure to set your task(s) to complete at a 10.  Hey You, that means JUST DO IT.  Be realistic with your time.

You Still Love to Play With This Baby Stacking Toy, huh?!

But of course make time for doing what you enjoy…….or being around those who you love!

Are Babies Motivated to Make Adults Smile?  I Believe It!

___________________

My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

How My Past has Brought Me to The Present! Grandpa Jack & Motivators ~ Part 14

Last week I mentioned the importance of understanding your own inner motivations.  At the end of my post, I let you know I’m into step aerobics.  I started step last October 2011 offered through Des Moines Public Schools Community Education and taught by Rhonda Judge, a wonderfully talented instructor.

I first took step aerobics during a Physical Fitness and Conditioning course at ISU.  I liked it back then (1995) and always thought about getting back into it.  But geez Amy, it took me well over 16 years to do so!  That’s a bit embarrassing, and I hope if you want to do something, please don’t wait that long!

How am I getting motivated to do step aerobics after all these years? 

I am going to compare it to how I am motivated to get fit and how I got motivated to do well in college (recall I was a high school dropout–what a dud!); and I want to look at what motivates people to work to their best ability.

3 objectives here:

First, what motivates a person to exercise? As far as step aerobics, it’s a workout using a step of four inches in height in front of your body. While listening to the instructor (and music) in a room full of like-minded people, you perform a choreographed exercise routine.  Step is a form of endurance training. You burn calories, increase your strength and flexibility, and improve your gait and balance. Sounds good, huh? Trust me, it works in a fairly short period of time….if you stick to it. The most important aspect of any type of exercise or training is the positive impact it has on your mental health.  There’s your motivator #1!

 

Step Aerobics is Fun!

Secondly, how do students find the motivation to do well academically? There are different concepts of motivation (extrinsic and intrinsic). In my case, I love to learn but not in a controlled environment (eg: how school was structured in the 60s, 70s & 80s…do what the teacher says, memorize, take tests, get graded–external pressure/external rewards.) Once I had autonomy (going to college), and I became driven by my interests and enjoyment in the tasks involved in my learning, I realized, hey not so dumb after all!  

My intrinsic motivation soared! 

My quest for learning jumped through the roof!  There is no ceiling in my place, so I’m going for a state of wisdom perhaps, ha ha ha, wishful thinkin!  The process of self-enlightenment shines through when you focus on your interests and tap into your inner wisdom.  There’s your motivator #2!

After the comic scroll down please, there’s more…

And thirdly, let’s take a peek at what motivates people to work to their best ability.  I want to introduce you to my maternal grandfather.  John V. Dodge.  The V is for Vilas. Grandpa didn’t really like his middle name, he said it sounded like a pickle.

Grandpa’s career was in writing, as a publishing executive. Jack (what everyone called him) worked for Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., for well over 50 years. Encyclopedia Britannica is an international educational publisher with products that promote knowledge and learning. For a long time Gpa was the editor in chief.  If you click on the previous link, I’ve attached the typical responsibilities of an Editor in Chief.  Jack was also an Army Intelligence Officer during World War II.

Jack and Jean Dodge (Gpa and Gma) lived in the Chicago Illinois area all their lives.  Gpa had a college degree from Northwestern University (well Gma did too).  Gpa also studied for a time at the University of Bordeaux, France.  For his work, Gpa traveled worldwide.  Gpa was fluent in seven languages, and culture and people simply fascinated him.

Jack and Jean had four children:  Ann (my mom), John, Gerald and Kay.  Here’s a picture of Jack in his room at home.  It was taken in June of 1986.  Besides all the books on the bookcase, notice the print.  I’m not entirely sure what it is, but I’m pretty sure it’s famous.  I’ll find out and get back to you with the info.

G’pa would love love love the World Wide Web!  

Here is a story I wrote about Gpa for an English Composition class in 1981.

Grandpa continued to consult during his retirement (and hang out with Jean in Florida during the wintertime!) Jack loved to help others to learn. When you use your best skill sets and love what your work is about, you become naturally motivated to work to your best ability. There’s your motivator #3!

Every person has different motivations for working. The reasons for working are as individual as the person. But, we all work because we obtain something that we need from work. Working to your best ability is gratifying.  The something we obtain from work impacts our morale and motivation and the quality of our lives. 

As a vocational counselor, I work to help others experience success in their work efforts.  This is always a win-win-win situation….for my client, an employer, and me! I hope you enjoy this post and my blog writings.

Enjoy Yourself

 

Read on and enjoy!

___________________

 

 

My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.