Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fuel for the soul

I don't know if I've ever mentioned before what my other job is. In addition to alpaca farmer, wife, mother and all jack-of-all trades, I also am a social worker. I've worked in several different position, but for the last 10 years I've been in child welfare (it sure does date me to acknowledge my career in social work is longer than 10 years, but on the other hand, I've already admitted I have a 10 year old daughter, and no, I wasn't a teen mom :) ). For the last couple of years I've been an adoption worker. I know most people think of newborn adoption, or children from other countries. I do a different sort of adoption. I work with older children who's parental rights have been terminated. These are children who had to be removed from their birth parents, and for a variety of reasons the parents were not able to regain custody of them. Their stories are as unique as each of them are. And as you can imagine, there are days I come home from work drained.

I won't get overly religious on you, but I do think that's part of what motivates me to do this job. One time at a training I heard someone compare being a social worker in child welfare to meeting God's request of "feed my lambs." I don't think God meant for everyone to have sheep farms. God was talking about his herd, his family, his children. Sometimes feeding God's people is hard and draining. The world is complex.

I think the only way someone can stay in a job in the helping field is to have a genuine belief in what they are doing has a purpose, having a strong support system, and having a way to rejuvenate, a way to refuel their soul.

Alpacas do this for me. After a long day at work, I rush home to the barn. (I know I should rush home to my kids and family, and I do desire to see them. But I've found my kids need to unwind when they first get home, by playing outside or something like that. I spend time with them after we all eat dinner together).

On the really stressful days I do what I refer to as "poop therapy".

This is where I scoop up poop with vigor and drive. The more stressful the day, the harder I scoop. It's a time I'm alone in my thoughts. The combination of the fresh air and the exercise lifts my spirits. The hum of the alpacas, the calmness of them, brings me back to the world in a positive way.

Alpacas (like sheep or lambs) are actually easy to feed. They enjoy their hay, and look to me for their next meal. I see them there and think "feed my alpacas." They are so easy, and rewarding, to care for. I give them hay, they give me a calmness, tranquility, a piece of mind that I can't find elsewhere.

Seeing the newest cria roam and eat and play, how could one not feel blessed:

I swear some of them smile at me:


Noah and Jillian Schwander said...

Loved this post. I know what you mean about draining work and needing something to rejuvenate your soul. I also love your "poop therapy" term...it can be very relaxing and a time to reflect!

Louellen Lawson said...

Keep up the good work.

I grew up on a horse farm and I can scoop poop with the best of them! It is probably the ONE thing I am REALLY good at.lol

The little black and white alpaca is so cute.

WonderWhyGal said...

Thank you for your other job. It takes a special person to be a social worker.

Poop Therapy...yes, the best part of my day. I think my best ideas, biggest tears and heaviest soul searching come from scooping those pellets.

I do believe the Alpacas smile at us and also know when we are sad and happy. My one girl, Confetti Reigns, didn't start giving me "kisses" until my Dad passed away. I would go out to the barn and poor my heart out to my her. One day she approached me and rubbed her nose to mine. It was the best hug I had ever received. She still does it but she picks and chooses when.

Kathryn Ray said...

It's true. Alpacas are a great respit from the rest of the world.

I can always count on them to bring my blood pressure down and a smile to my face.

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