“Call Jodi. She’ll know what to do.” That’s what everyone said.
There’s an interesting phenomenon that has followed me around for more than half my life. I turned it into a fulfilling career as a counselor. Let me give you an example… In college, my housemate once knocked on my bedroom door. She entered my room with the phone in her hand, and told me her friend was crying and she didn’t know what to say. She barked into the mouthpiece, “Here, talk to Jodi, she will know how to help you feel better.” I remember thinking this quite odd, I don’t even know this person. I hesitantly received the phone as it was thrust into my face.
Just Call Jodi
I spoke to the distraught girl, because how could I say no? And, I had no idea how to “make her feel better.” So I just listened, and validated her feelings – it turns out this hit the spot. And, it has worked like a charm ever since. Just listen with compassion and without judgment. Letting people’s words pour into my heart. Breathing in their pain and reflecting back love. Like Tibetan Tongling breath.
This Spring semester, marks twenty years of me being a counselor. (In January 1993, I was hired into my first internship as a counselor at a suicide hotline in Philadelphia.)
When I was in 9th grade, I wanted to be an architect. (Those who are close to me, know I still love to design and create atmosphere in physical space.) But high school was a lonely time for me, and I remember realizing that loneliness was one of the worst problems since it made all of the other problems worse. And I had terrible anxiety. (My anxiety story.) (I still think the illusion of separation is the only problem, and isolation makes the negative stories in our head worse.)
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve and you don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
Call Jodi, she’ll walk with you
Anyhoo….I switched gears, I made it my mission in life to “walk with people and hold their hand.” (Inspired by my fav–Leo Buscaglia.) I decided to stand up for the poor and downtrodden, the marginalized and betrayed. Therefore, I decided to be a social worker – and it fit me like a glove.
Loving my work
And I have been forever pleased with that decision, since I grow in love with my work everyday. Even though Rochester has seen some hard times lately. Especially because Rochester has seen some hard time lately.
The following verse was given to me by Patti Fields and hangs over my desk. It has fallen off the wall three times in the last week, as a palpable reminder. (Read line three):
I am here only to be truly helpful,
I am here to represent God who sent me.
So, I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do, because God will direct me,
I am content to be wherever God wishes, knowing God goes there with me.
I will be healed as I let God teach me to heal.
~A Course In Miracles
As you can imagine, I feel quite close to my clients. They become Part Of Me. We celebrate the ups together and make sense of the downs together. And I remind them to let up on themselves when they are judging themselves too much (always). They….
send me more people.
With all my heart and soul
Susie (not her real name) walked into my office Wednesday and before hello, said, “My coworker is a hot mess. I told her to call you.”
Susie acted out the scene. “She was sitting in the back room just sobbing. ‘Here, you need to call Jodi.'” She mimed handing over my card. “‘Jodi will tell you what you feel is perfectly normal. She will tell you, you’re exactly where you are supposed to be. Here,’ I told her,’Take the purple card.”’
I am tickled by this kind of confidence in me. (And for the record I don’t tell everyone the same thing. When someone needs to go right, I say right, when someone needs to go left, I say left.) Susie’s referral speaks to me of her compassion, of her wanting her coworker to experience healing as she did. It’s sweet.
But who says Susie wouldn’t suffice? Many people call me in when they worry they are inadequate. But they have basically saved the life already by caring. Sometimes a friend is all we need. Just a willing ear, a little compassion, some validation. Anyone can do that. Remember line three, I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do, because God will direct me.
In social work school, we learned that it was our job to change the world enough to put ourselves out of a job. This is still my mindset.
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Over to you, how well does your current career fit you?