Friday, March 9, 2018

Respect Thy Mother

            My mother took the wheel of the Suburban. It was perhaps the biggest car she had ever driven, at least to my knowledge. From my view in the back seat, I saw her look from left to right, slowly scanning the layout of the driver’s seat, and necessary controls. She had refused to let anyone occupy the passenger seat. There was a long silence, followed by several seconds of inaction.
            “Mom are you sure you want to drive, one of us can if you're not up for it,” I offered hoping she’d take the bait.
            She ignored me, and began to pull out of the parking space at a snail’s pace. I looked at my father, my brother and my girlfriend in that order, my doubt was on full display. However, their faces seemed resigned to the fact that there would be no stopping her from driving. Slowly and precariously she backed the Suburban out of the spot. This whole process took about 5 minutes. 
            “Mom, really you seem a little uncomfortable. I can take over--”
            No! David you just sit back and relax I am going to drive!” She checked every mirror two, and three times over, “We had a nice day shopping and now we are going to go get something to eat. And I am going to get us there.” 
            Mom you seem a little lost driving this thing. Really its okay. I can do it.” My offer was met with a lecture.
            You know you need to have a little bit more faith in me. Just because I'm old does not mean I can't do it myself.” 
            Again I looked around at my family members within the car, but they gave no responses. “Alright fine do whatever you want, just be careful.” 
            My mother’s progress and driving the vehicle was slow. But it was progress nonetheless.  A few painstaking minutes of quiet followed wherein my mother continued to navigate the large SUV down each level of the parking structure. I relaxed a bit and began to look at my phone checking a few emails and other menial tasks 
            It took only a few more minutes before my concentration was ripped away as I heard the sound of metal meeting metal. I looked up from my seat in the rear of the Suburban only to see my mother finish driving straight through a rolled steel gate.  

            I looked around at everyone else in the vehicle and if they took any issue with this driving tactic, it didn't seem to register on their faces. “Oh my God! Mom what the fuck are you doing?!” 
            “Oh David, I figured you'd be upset with me. Don't blame this on me, you know I'm getting older but you let me drive anyway. 
            I was livid at the words, but didn’t say so. The car was now stopped, fully outside the gate. As I looked around us it seemed my mother had not only driven through a closed gate, but she also missed the actual street exit of the parking garage, as the vehicle, including as its occupants, were now in a service alley of some kind behind the mall we had just visited.  
            “Turn off the car Mom.” I heard a dating jingling of keys and the engine was quiet. “Is everyone okay?” I said almost absently as I stepped out of the car
            Surveying the Suburban’s exterior, I noticed some minor scratches around the front side panels. “Ok it doesn't look too bad actually.” I turned to look at the gate, it however hadn't fared too well. The Suburban had made it look as though a bomb had went off from inside, removing it completely from its guides on one side.  I took a breath and reentered the SUV“Okay we need to find the office so we can tell them what happened.”  
            “I'm not going to do that, we’re going to go eat.” 
            “Mom, are you kidding you drove through a their damned gate! What’s wrong with you?” 
            “What’s wrong with you?” she snapped back, “How dare you talk to me this way!”
            “Are you insane? You had an accident; the right thing to do is report it.”
            “No, I’m hungry- we are all hungry, and we need to eat.”
            I turned to my family, and girlfriend, looking for any support, but they were all quiet, Their faces nearly blank as a matter of fact, I took at as no one wanted to pick this battle as worth fighting.
            “Sit down and get your seatbelt back on.” My mother ordered, “Just focus on something else if you’re so nervous about my driving. You typically multitask when I talk to you anyway.”
            “Ok fine, but after we eat, we come back here and tell them what happened.”       
            “Agreed. Take a nap or something until we get there, as you might say, with the way I drive it will be awhile.”
            I did as I was told. Eventually, I dozed deeply, jostling awake only when we hit a hard bump. Once I got my wits about me after waking, I feared the worst. Dragging my chin up from my chest I asked, “Oh God, what happened now?”
            I looked around me and everything had changed. Well almost everything. I was still in the Suburban’s rear seat, but seated around me were faces I didn’t recognize. Three blonde children that were maybe ten to twelve years old had replaced my father, brother and girlfriend. Their blue eyes gleamed eagerly at me, but the looks on their faces showed only distain.
            “Who the fuck are you?”
            “Hey don’t cuss in front of my kids jerk.”
            I looked up to the driver’s seat and my mother had vanished as well. In her place was a rather large man in a t-shirt. The t-shirt plainly showed biceps nearly as big as my head. “Brock Lesnar?”

            “That’s right you little weasel.”
            “What is going on?”
            “Your mother asked me to take care of you.” He spoke to me while driving, but was doing little in the way of watching the road. The children, who I assumed were his, continued to judge me with their gaze.
            “Take care of me? I thought we were going to dinner.”
            “Oh we're still going, it’s just when we get there I’m going to beat your ass.”
            “Hey, language in front of the kids remember?”
            “Shut up you little twerp, I’m going to knock you into next week for disrespecting your mom. You should be ashamed of yourself!” The kids nodded profusely for punctuation.
            As timing would have it, we coasted up to the front of a restaurant at that moment.
            “Oh, I get it, this is a dream.”
            With these words the children and my celebrity driver looked at me with confusion. Mr. Lesnar spoke, “What do you mean dream? You’ll be on Dream Street when I knock your sorry carcass out cold.” Mr. Lesnar giggled maniacally at his statement.
            “No Mr. Lesnar, you won’t this is a dream and you can’t hurt me.”
            “Pshh, you’re rude and nuts. Just how do you think you’re going to beat me?”
            “I’m not. I’m going to run away.” Even as I spoke, I clamored forward into the seat ahead of me, over the kids and flung the passenger door open. Stepping on the curb, I began to run, as fast as I could. “It’s a dream!” I screamed back at the vehicle, laughing while I did.
            I ran for only a little while before I knew I needed to hide. If Lesnar decided to chase me, it would be a one way ticket to suplex city. Even in dream form I did not want to experience that.                       Looking around I realized where I was. I was at Westgate, an “entertainment district” in Glendale, Arizona- or at least it was my subconscious mind’s recreation of Westgate. Thinking on my feet I past the first few places I saw, running into a bar there that had a patio on its west side. I thought if I got cornered, I might be able to flee through there.
            However, my plan was quickly forgotten. Running through the dining area, I pushed my way through a door with a crash bar and ended up in another service alley. It looked remarkably similar to the one my mother had drove into earlier. “Really? Did most of my dream budget go to securing Brock Lesnar as guest star?”
            I looked around, there was no exit. I was surrounded by trash and concrete walls on all sides. “Shit, I’ve got to get out of here! I need to wake up!”
            As I was trying to figure how to best do that, a classmate of mine appeared before me. We’ll call him “Will”, because that’s his name.
            “David, me and some of the others from school are here, you ok? We saw you run through the bar. You good?”
            My only answer, “I need to wake up!”
            “Did you have too much to drink?” he asked, edging closer to see if I was alright. 
            When I shouted, “I know I’ll hold my breath!” he shuddered away.
            I had no time to waste to act on my brilliant idea. Immediately, I threw myself on the dirty ground and forced myself to stop breathing. My subconscious did its best to simulate my lack of breath, but I was not fooled. The sensation felt more like a deep clenching in my chest muscles, but I could tell I was still getting oxygen.
            However, when I realized it wasn’t working as a method to wake me up, I stood up, now covered in murky trash water and grime from the ground. “Shit!”
            In my peripheral vision, I saw Will still staring like I was a lunatic.
            “Try something else.” I repeated, “Try something else.” Another thought came; I began to scream, “SAAARRRAAHHH! HEEELLLPPP MEEE!”
            My thinking being that I would force myself to scream in the dream-world, and I would consciously begin to cry out in the real world, prompting my girlfriend to come wake me up before Lesnar could reach me.
            I looked to the night sky in my dreamscape, waiting for a sign that my technique had worked. But the dream world remained.
            “Think of something else,” became my new mantra. If only there were a way out of here, I could escape and no one could find me.
            The thought was never even verbalized, but as it came and went in my mind I saw one side of the service area burst open. It started as a warm yellow-orange light, but gradually I could see shapes; a street, flanked by a sidewalk, glowing neon of other restaurant and bar signs greeted me. I saw other people walking within this newly created route. None of them seemed to notice the hole that opened up in the concrete wall in front of all of us.
            I looked back at the door that led inside, it was closed. Will was gone, and Lesnar had not busted through while I was distracted.
            I smiled and trotted towards the way out.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Group Pilot, err I mean Facilitator

            My field instructor smiled at me, “You’re going to be running this afternoon’s group.” I immediately looked behind me to make sure there wasn’t someone more qualified, or someone else he had meant to address. There wasn’t.
            “Great, can’t wait,” I lied through clenched teeth. Already I could feel the sweat building from my armpits. How could this be I thought? Why in God’s name would they want me to run group? Who called off? Are they trying to redefine the word ‘desperate’?
Image result for cognitive behavioral therapy
            And then it dawned on me…I am training to be a social worker, one who will eventually be going on to work with those that have had mental health issues, experienced trauma or been trying to live a substance-free life. While this realization did give me some comfort, I still felt my heart begin thumping as if it were about to break through the outer wall of my chest.
            After doing my best not to float away in my own nervous perspiration, I quickly worked up the nerve to ask my field instructor what exactly that meant.
            “Relax, I’ll sit in with you and see how you do for a bit, and I’ve already put together the lesson plan.”
            My mind still protested. I can’t! I’m not ready! You’ve got the wrong guy! My mouth said, “Sure, I’m ready, I was wondering when I would get the opportunity.” Stupid! Why’d you say that? Now you have no other choice but to run away. That’s right, leave at lunch, don’t come back. Ever. That will do the trick!
            Luckily, I had a full two hours to review the material beforehand. Today we would be looking at commonly held irrational beliefs and typical thinking errors. Oh no, and I was already catastrophizing the event and it hadn’t even taken place yet! I beat back the thoughts as self-destructive and set to work making scribbled notes and highlights all over my worksheets for the full 120 minutes that followed.
            Before I knew it, there I sat, face-to-face with a room full of twenty men, not much different than myself- all of them staring at the front of the room waiting to get started.  
            “Well…” my field instructor hinted as he sat next to me, arms folded.
            “Oh me? I start?”
            He nodded.
            “Alright gentlemen…” I proceeded to lay down the ground rules that I planned to use in order keep the meeting on track. It was exhilarating! That was the catalyst that sent me into a deep state of focus. I put on my reading glasses just to make sure I was centered, and the fear and anxiety that had gripped me for the last two hours left me completely.
            My field instructor turned to leave the room after only a few minutes. Oh my! You’re on your own! I felt like I was flying a plane for the first time all by myself. Keep it steady, do not screw this up!
            I set the tone; they shared, elaborated on concepts and were respectful of one another. It was a magnificent experience for me.
            Of course, in this setting it’s not about me at all.
            Following the meeting I asked the guys to provide feedback to my instructors. They did. It was honest. It was constructive. I was also not surprised that some of these gents were not shy when it came to telling me personally how I did.
            To be honest, it wasn’t all great- but nor did I expect it to be. It was my first time facilitating a group such as this. Although, they did give mostly favorable feedback. My field instructor echoed their statements telling me that I had indeed done a great job.
            It was a rewarding feeling. To celebrate the first thing I did was to come home and continue to study up so I could do better next time.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

I'm (Pro)Found

Hot damn have these last few years been infused with self-discovery and self-exploration.
I’d have put an explanation point after that statement, but to be honest, it wasn’t exciting- it was frightening. Was it worthwhile? Yes. Was it hard? Hell yes. Was it uncomfortable? Absolutely. Would I trade it for anything? Fuck no.

I learned I am in no position to gauge the worthiness of another man (or woman, or anyone else for that matter). You might read that statement and think “Well, ya YOU had to learn that but ME, nah I already know that.” Ya, sure YOU do pal. Good luck to you, see ya in the funny papers.

I learned that I have capacity to change for the better and I have the right to seek self-improvement. During that time I also learned those around me can do the same, no matter where they started from. It was a hard pill to swallow that someone else’s opinion could have relevance other than mine.

I learned that the truly intelligent never stop learning…from anyone, anywhere, at anytime.

I learned that no person is defined by one act within their lives, nor several. We are defined by what we do to make this world better than we found it.

I learned that I am not perfect, and really no one is…though I had that one put together a while back.

I learned that I am not the smartest person in the room… Well, to be honest, I’m still working on that one, and also changing the actual rooms I hang out in helps quite a bit.

When I started this journey, I thought that human existence was a highly overrated phenomenon. Now I have come to learn that empathy is what is really a truly UNDERrated phenomenon.

This is to everyone that I have crossed paths with in the last two and a half years that has made me pause and ask myself, “Could I do better?”

I am here to tell you: You can make it, you can do better, and to hell with all the people that think otherwise.

Friday, January 26, 2018

What's the deal with HB 2406?


UPDATE 1/30/2018:Per the NASW's website has been updated to state that this issue will likely not move forward in the legislature! 


For those of you of you that haven’t heard the Arizona House introduced HB 2406. This bill serves to deregulate many professions that fall under the oversight of the Board of Behavioral Health examiners. This bill would eliminate the need for professional licensure for the following practitioners: Social Workers, Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, and Substance Abuse Technicians, Licensed Associate Substance Counselors and Independent Substance Abuse Counselors (National Association of Social Workers, 2018).

Simply put, the proposal is ridiculous.

This bill potentially threatens the legitimacy of those in the above listed helping professions. Moreover, if passed, it would negatively impact client’s ability to receive behavioral health services and have them billed through their insurance companies (Arizona Counselors Association , 2018).

This bill’s nefarious purpose will only impact the mental health and well being of many of Arizona’s diverse populations. This proposal would ensure that veterans, those suffering from addiction, families and married people in need (and many others) would be on their own for mental health services previously supported by their insurance.

The fact that this bill was even conceived by legislators, let alone introduced, is a slap in the face to Arizona citizens from ALL backgrounds, cultures, and walks of life.

Odds are that 87% of us will visit a behavioral health professional, in the guise of a counselor, social worker or therapist at some point in our lives. Statistically speaking that means you are likely to have been helped, or receive the help of at least one of these professionals who deserve fully recognized credentials for their technical training. If this bill continues to move forward I urge anyone and everyone reading this to rally on the side of your friends, and loved ones.

Voice your opinion to your local Arizona state representative!*
Feel free to circulate this post or the included links in order to spread the word.

*There is a link within the NASW resource below that can help you to locate your AZ State representative, if you are unsure who that person is, or how to reach them.

*taken from

Resources and related links

Arizona Counselors Association . (2018, January 22). HB 2406 - Elimination of Licensing of AZ Counselors. Retrieved January 26, 2018, from AZCA:

National Association of Social Workers. (2018). Legislative Alert. Retrieved January 26, 2018, from NASW:

Sunday, January 14, 2018


                First off, I’d like to start this post with a disclaimer:
                I typically do not get much into politics, which you could argue runs against my ideals as a social worker. However, before you judge, hear me out. Contemporary politics are more about party and profiteering, less about people, and certainly not about progress. This has been the case for years.
                Thus, my position as an American citizen is that if you are waiting for a politician (Republican, Democrat, whatever) or government entity to help you, then you are going to be sorely disappointed.  In the same vein, the social worker in me says that the best positioned person to help you is, well you. The tools of resiliency and empowerment go a long way towards bettering yourself.
                David I WriteStuff
                We now return you to your not-so-regularly scheduled rant…

*             *             *

                There has been a great deal of media attention given to President Trump and his [alleged] use of vulgarity and racially charged comments. As such, I felt obliged to weigh in on the current kerfuffle involving these [alleged] comments regarding certain lesser-developed countries during a meeting about DACA. Particularly, the President is stated to have remarked that certain countries, Haiti among them, were nothing but “shithole” countries. He [allegedly] went on to even question the very notion of why we would even consider letting in immigrants from these countries to the United States.
                There are three points I’d like to address about this:
                1) I have no doubt that Trump uttered these words       
                To begin, I have no doubt that President Trump would refer to any number of lesser-developed nations by the term “shithole”. He has demonstrated that his character and vocabulary are oafish and limited. Further, I can only hypothesis that he is the latest in a long line of government officials- perhaps even presidents- that have uttered similar sentiments in service to this country. To take things even a step further, I would argue that the majority of the American public likely holds these countries in the same dim view.
                That doesn’t make remarks like this okay, nor does it give Trump a pass. That makes these thoughts a bias inherent to a majority of Americans. This also means through education, and oh gee, I don’t know maybe meeting someone from Haiti, these myths can be dispelled.
                2) Circle of Trust
                Building on what I’ve said above, I believe that most everyone has said something in the heat of the moment that was perhaps off-color or inappropriate. Usually, the smart ones among us do so in a circle of close friends, family, or business acquaintances that we trust.
                What I mean is usually, when these things slip out, we apologize, and/or those around us know our character well enough to know that one statement does not, nor could not define us.
                Unfortunately, for the President he made the mistake of spewing whatever comments he made in front of those with which he had no rapport (It was in fact, a bi-partisan DACA meeting). That coupled with the fact that Trump has already had a questionable history when it comes to shall we say, “less-than-acceptable” (or accurate) statements. These things together create an environment where several around him are poised to react defensively.
                This leads us to a point where you now have Democrats and Republicans who attended the meeting bickering over what was said versus not said. This is equally as shameful as uttering the words themselves.
                3) Deny, deny, deny
                What disappoints me the most is the fact that as President, Trump seems incapable of admitting fault. This marks only the latest scenario in which he denies what he said, and tries to rewrite history, in spite of other people clearly being present.
                I learned early on in my business career that if you make a mistake, own up to it. It is only then that you can begin to correct the mistake. Not to mention, these two things are essential in improving your integrity, and reputation.
                Some detractors may ask, “But David, how do you know he said these horrible things? And if he didn’t why should he fess up to something he didn’t even do?”
                Elementary my dear readers; Trump denies (or attempts to outmaneuver) anything that flies back into his face as overly controversial in order to save face. In fact, he has a heaping track record of doing so, well before he took office. In fact, if it weren’t for denials, backpedaling and distraction that Twitter account of his would be nearly dormant.


                To close, I feel that President Trump would be truly amazed at how fast this “news story” would go away if he would just admit any wrongdoing and actually attempt to do so some follow-up in the name of self-improvement.  However, I won’t be holding my breath while waiting for him to do so.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Mass Effect

            Damn, I miss running. I haven't got to go for a run since December 4th. For those of you playing at home that's a month as I write this. And, as you might imagine, there are some pretty shitty circumstances that forced me to not do one of my favorite activities.  
            See, as a longtime stubborn runner I had been running on a stress fracture in my left foot for, gee no joke about 4 years. The pain kept getting progressively worse, and like a fool I continued to run on it, without doing much to address it. Ahh, who am I kidding, I did nothing to address it! Because, the pain was secondary to my need to run. My need to be out there on the path, the sidewalk, the treadmill. 
            As a result of my own neglect, I went out to run on December 4th and the pain was so excruciating when I initially stepped off on my left foot that I was limping. However, me being me (stubborn bastard) I still tried to run in defiance of the agony. I made it about ¾ of a mile before I could no longer land on my left foot without the pain stopping me in my tracks every other step. I crept back to the house, in my mind defeated, in pain and already feeling depressed because I knew finally my neglect meant I would not be running for awhile. I had ignored my body and the warning signs it had been trying to communicate.
            Since then I have tried to switch over to a high protein diet and adopt a more weight-lifting focused exercise regimen. However, this process was somewhat interrupted due to a two week long road trip, and the Christmas holiday. Have you ever tried to eat healthy when your daily calorie intake is coming from Love’s and Pilot truck stops? It’s not impossible, but it certainly is a challenge. Further, have you ever tried to not eat all that deliciously desirable high calorie food on or around Christmas? Again, not impossible, but indulgences are bound to occur here and there. Since 1/1/2018, I have recommitted myself to my healthy eating and workout regimen. As of that date, I weighed in at 195.6 lbs and a 39 inch waist. This is particularly concerning to me as it is the heaviest I have been since losing about 90 lbs the year I graduated high school (253 to 163 approximately).
            Present day, I sit here banging away on this keyboard, desperately wanting to work out, but I’m again a victim of my own ignorance. I woke up this morning with a back so stiff and pain-ridden that it took me 10 minutes to get myself out of bed.  It seems the L3 and L4 vertebrae in my back don’t like moving furniture alone, I guess they miss the cartilage that used to help them get along better. Yes, I am a fool, as moving furniture is something I also did over the Christmas break. Then in spite of that, I continued my weight lifting regimen even though my back was already tweaked as a result. Alas, no workout today, my spine has spoken. In case you’re wondering, I feel guilty about that, even though I have worked out every day this week and stuck to my diet without incident.
            Now I find those devious thoughts creeping up in my mind: Have a burger, you’ll feel better! You’re not working out today why don’t you relax a little and have a beer- after all you can’t work out, and it’ll dull the pain in your back!
            So what is the point of all this? Well, clearly it’s a self-serving pity fest designed to let me bitch and moan about my own circumstances.
            But it is also something more than that…it’s my not giving in. I haven’t caved, or sacrificed myself to temptation and self-loathing. I won’t be sneaking through the McDonald’s drive thru and greedily smear grease-covered French fries into my waiting maw.  I will not beat myself up for missing a workout. I won’t justify a beer, or a Jack and Coke. I will sit here, I will heal and I will be back at it tomorrow with the same focus that I have had all week.
            And for those of you that as of January 4th find yourself in a similar predicament regarding your New Year’s resolution to get fit, feel free to recite the above paragraph if you need motivation to keep up the momentum.

            I wish all of you readers out there good luck in your goals for 2018, whatever they may be!