Self-Care: Pages of a Career Journal

It is common in my organization for people to disclose their illness when calling in sick. I don’t mind doing this when it’s something mundane, like a cold. But sometimes one has personal issues that you don’t feel like telling your boss about. I’m talking about something that means one or two days out of the office — not a week or more, when I feel some sort of disclosure is probably appropriate. My concern is that I look as if I’m dodging work by not divulging the reason for a particular health-related absence. – NYT


The headline “How specific do I need to be when calling in sick?” transported me back to graduate school. I was working at my advanced practicum at a homeless youth clinic. I had created and fought for that position and was told in no uncertain terms “Don’t let me down!” To my ears that equated to “Don’t you dare let these young adults down. They have had enough failure and people not showing up for them.” Well, I got sick that’s what freaking happens when you’re a graduate student working full time, going to school full time, and working a practicum part time. That’s 21 of your 24 hours. Something had to give, and for me it was sleep. I hit a wall of exhaustion, I mean one day I couldn’t get out of bed, my body wasn’t having it. I, however, couldn’t call my practicum and say “I am suffering from exhaustion and I won’t be in the clinic this week.” I am unsure what I said, but as I have students parading through my offices to discuss spring and summer internships and am fielding personal calls from nieces and nephews who are looking to obtain free housing, it must have sufficed.

I will share this article with them as it is important to know your limits, have self-care, and have good accountability. I agree with _. If you’re not comfortable revealing the cause, just focus on one symptom; if you don’t want to get into the symptoms, just name the cause. I did find my old journal entry and it read “Today, I woke up feeling like shit. I mean I can’t move I feel like I am paralyzed (God please don’t let that be the case), my eyes are burning, and I feel like someone’s holding me down and preventing me from achieving my dreams”. I had to call _ to tell her I wouldn’t be in tonight. My heart quickened when she answered. I simply told her I wasn’t feeling well and would be out. She shocked me by laughing and then told me okay, as she never had a student with a perfect record but that I was close. She told me to get some rest. Did she know I had exhaustion? Did it show in my work? I pray not” The entry made me smile and reflected the super worrier I used to be. What do you say when you call in sick?

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Ribollita a Tuscan Dinner Party


During the holidays I went to a wedding and the wedding favor was a seasoning blend that the bride had made (yes, she’s a chef). I was so excited to get this and happily have been using it, to the point that I could almost see the bottom of the tin. When my spouse informed me he was inviting the couple to dinner and we should use their seasoning, I had just enough seasoning left and the perfect dish for this rain day. Ribollita (Tuscan Vegetable Stew) sounded sexy and fancy, although it just means re-boiled. Though the best part is that it can be made with whatever vegetables you have on hand . It also goes great with pretty much any wine. Bon Appetit.

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 carrot, chopped
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1  can cannellini beans
  • 1 can of garbanzo bens
  • 1 bell pepper (I used yellow)
  • 1 15-ounce can Italian diced tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 1/2  bunch of basil
  • 1 pound chopped kale
  • Parmesan rinds
  • Few pinches of heart seasonings ( insert your favorite seasoning)
  • 1-2 Chorizo Sausages

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. In a food processor add onion, carrot, jalapeño, bell pepper and garlic; pulse and add to Dutch oven. Stir occasionally until vegetables are soft, five to 10 minutes. Drain and rinse the beans. Add them to the pot along with tomatoes and their juices, stock, and rosemary. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so the soup bubbles steadily; cover and cook, stirring once or twice to break up the tomatoes until the flavors meld, 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse kale and give it a quick chop or pulse in the food processor and stir in kale, chopped zucchini , chopped chorizo along with your favorite seasoning. Taste and adjust seasoning. Pulse Parmesan rinds and basil in food processor, add to soup, and stir.Cook 10 more minutes. Serve with a baguette and endless wine.


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Travel. Even if it’s just down the block. Or farther. Always go farther change your environment, take a trip, go see what other people are doing – Liz Lambert


Positively Purging-I welcome your feedbacks in the comments and your likes and passing the real life wisdom on to others as I embark on this new venture of “positively purging“, as I know each of these pieces represents something…

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Benefits of Exercise in Parkinson’s Treatment

I am a naturally quiet observer- it comes with the title of being a clinical social worker. For the last several weeks, I have walked across the hospital campus observing a group of adults doing everything from Thai Chi, lunges, and Pilates. I often slowed my steps to watch these individuals and their fluid movements. I wonder if it was some perk of the job, as the hospital is huge on self-care incentives (You get paid to ride your bike and walk to work). I recall receiving a bright colored sheet that read “what is self-care, exactly? in the onboarding process. A commonly referenced definition of self-care was developed in 1983 by the World Health Organization (WHO): “Self-care in health refers to the activities individuals, families and communities undertake with the intention of enhancing health, preventing disease, limiting illness, and restoring health. They are undertaken by lay people on their own behalf, either separately or in participative collaboration with professionals.” (I keep the document on my bulletin board as a reminder) Later that day I mentioned the daily exercise groups to my coworker. He smiled and said, “You are a woman of many hats, are you interested in joining?”

I told him I was curious, not wanting to sign up for a workout program that I couldn’t attend or was far more advanced than it appeared. He told me he would send me the material. I was surprised later on when I checked my email and there was a brief email from him “Hey, I think you would be a great asset to the Parkinson’s research team. Look over the links and attached article  (Exercise Can Be a Boon to People With Parkinson’s Disease),and get back to me”. I was amazed that it wasn’t an exercise group for employees, but a research study. I settled in to read the article and the sentence that hooked me was “Unfortunately, Dr. Moffat added, ‘no one tells people with Parkinson’s what they could and should be doing unless they get to a physical therapist’.” This resonated with me and my clients, as many didn’t get what they needed until they were assigned a case manager, although many were told you’re aging out at 18 (what the hell does that mean when you’re 16?) or you need to see a doctor (for what? what should they ask?). Though I digress, the longevity and the curiosity made me want to learn more about how Parkinson’s is not a muscle wasting disease.

What does “healthy” mean for you personally? What does it look like? Having a vivid mental image of a healthy future helps increase motivation and activation. Perhaps the first place to begin is exploring what self-care means to you personally.



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Pasta Fagioli


I found this bag in the pantry. I am not sure when I bought it or why. I presume it’s because I never had Pasta Fagioli and I bought it while hungry. I added a few real life essentials. Bon Appetit.

  • 1 Cost Plus World Market package of Pasta Faggioli
  • 1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 4 cups of beef broth
  • 3 Scallions
  • 4 Garlic
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 smoked sausage
  •  a few pinches of Herb ‘n farm

Preparation: Roast tomatoes, bell pepper and poblano pepper until charred. In food processor pulse onion carrot and garlic (this is the mirepoix). Place mirepoix in Dutch oven or lightly oiled skillet and cook until fragrant. Pulse roasted ingredients and stir into Dutch oven along with fire roasted tomatoes with liquid, beef broth, beans, half the seasoning pack, and half cup red wine .Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for two hours. Add pasta, the rest of seasoning packet, and remaining cup red wine. Continue to simmer covered for about 10 minutes or until pasta is tender. Add smoked sausage, cook another five minutes. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese if you desire.


Verdict: I wouldn’t buy it again. The pasta didn’t stand out. It cooked for hours but the savory scent never filled my home and it just tasted like chili. I do applaud them on the variety of beans.

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