Bessert euch drauflos

Three things that happened in 2022 appear remarkable in retrospect: first, I went back to work full-time for the first time in five and a half years; second, I went to a doctor for myself (well, actually, urgent care) for the first time in twenty; third, I finally joined a synagogue (first time in twelve). I don’t know if those are all the big changes but they are significant.

re: the second — I had been feeling inexplicably dizzy for several days in ways that concerned me. Verdict: I do not have heart disease, a-fib, or congestive heart failure, and I did not have a stroke or heart attack or COVID. I left with a mild blood pressure medicine as my blood pressure was really high. They did not know why. My health is not something I talk about all that often, but if you know me well you know I regard this as the first step down the garden path. Still, I took the pills, so it’s my own fault. Another reminder (along with the arrangements around dad’s estate) that I’m in the last third of my life now. Almost no one on my mother’s side of the family lived past the age of 72 in the entire twentieth or twenty-first century. What will I do with the last (maybe) twenty years?


re: the first — not unrelated: According to my boss, I am really successful. At the same time, I don’t know if I want to stay in this kind of role for that whole time. Although I can’t imagine retiring, either, as the five and a half years with dad were very frustrating in that regard; I was not cut out personality-wise for that task, no matter how important it was and how much I was praised for doing it. I do feel like I am doing something now that not just my clients, but also people in general find important (way more important than being a professor, anyway). I have helped roughly thirty people find work, and most of them are still in the jobs they took. As word about the program spreads, more people call for assistance, and we’ll be starting a new outpost in a public housing setting in the new year. I’m really pleased for clients and proud of the steps they are taking to change their circumstances. But their problems are often really severe, even in situations where they are not contributing to them, themselves, and the emotional toll on me is high. I do not know how to detach, and am not confident I will learn. I miss both the hopefulness of teaching young adults, and also the creativity. In any case, this was a huge step forward but more thought will be required. Side note: I spend way too much time driving.

re: the third: I won’t get into the reasons why I delayed doing this, but now was the right time and after the frustration of this year’s Rosh Hashanah / Yom Kippur celebrations, I decided I needed to set myself up for success in future. It’s been a great experience, and I feel a strong sense of belonging, although some of my reservations were immediately confirmed. In any case, I have been warmly received and after only two months, asked to join a number of committees and groups. Most notably: the ritual committee. I imagine I will eventually have a lot more to say about this. Inevitably the decision to join a Jewish group was going to lead to the excavation of a lot of my feels about religion generally and Judaism specifically.

Resolutions for 2023:

1. Stop buying things in plastic bottles.

2. Strongly consider employing a cleaner.

3. Be more creative / blog more.

~ by Servetus on January 1, 2023.

34 Responses to “Bessert euch drauflos”

  1. Have a lovely New Year, S. On the detachment, I absolutely hear you.


    • Happy New Year to you, too, J.

      My colleagues are always saying “you have to develop it” and “you will when you do this a bit longer,” but I just don’t know. I never really developed any detachment while teaching. It’s just that mostly the students’ problems were not as deep-reaching as those of my clients right now. There’s definitely a sense in which I am practicing social work without a license, and maybe there’s a class I can take …


      • When we lost over 30 people in six months during COVID I had to come up with a way to let them go. It was nearly unbearable in a small community.


        • (((Jazzy)))

          I feel like it’s the unacknowledged topic in a lot of conversations I have with people that start off with “how are you doing?” It seems like basically everyone has lost someone close in the last three years. We’re all just supposed to move on, but it’s difficult. It must be just that much worse for people in your situation.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Have a Happy New Year! I understand the human condition of getting wrapped in others lives when working with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What do you tell yourself?


      • J’essaie d’être intègre et fais preuve d’empathie, en gardant une distance affective. Le cumul des expériences permet de relativiser.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I try to do my best for them but since I work with younger children it can be very hard. Some live with horrible homes and I can hope that all of us at the school can make a lasting change in their lives. Not always going to happen. Also the students I see need more help because of quantifying for Special Education services and quantifying for Occupational Therapy school based. There are every once in a while you really wish you could do more. I truly do what I can and go the extra mile.


        • I’m glad you do — I hope don’t feel burned out. It’s such a big risk. I sympathize with the feeling that sometimes you do stuff even though you know it’s not going to have any big effect.


  3. This isn’t rah rah or diagnosing, but I will say I”m in the same position as you regarding living the last third of life. It’s a challenging prospect. That said, I retired about a year ago and don’t regret it for one second.


    • I probably expressed that a little too forcefully, but one of my problems with wanting to blog the last two or so years was a commentator who would not stop telling me how to feel, even when I asked her privately and publicly. So it wasn’t about supportive comments — and I appreciate your insights.

      I think I am still sort of “too young to retire” and I might feel differently in ten years. Part of the issue is probably that the job I’m in now is the first one in years where I have an externally determined start and finish time. So the whole “gotta be there at 8 on Monday” thing still feels really odd to me, but I appreciate that there are a lot of finite tasks in this job. I think if I had a big goal for retirement it could be different. How are you handling the organization of your free time now? (I assume spending some grandchild time, of course)


      • Yes, I certainly try to help out with the grands. The baby has had a rough autumn, health wise, and my teacher daughter gets very little time off so I’m trying to cover for her when one of the kids is too ill to attend daycare.
        That said, when you spoke of wanting to become involved in your new synagogue I saw right away that could be an option for retirement. I myself play bridge three days a week, mahjongg every other week, i’m in a book club, and lunch with friends every week or so, and i try to fit in daily exercise.


        • I’m sure your daughter is grateful for your sacrifice, and it’s great to build such a solid relationship with your grandchildren.

          Synagogue: yes, definitely. I’m just trying to ease in slowly so as to avoid overcommitment at the beginning. There’s another context in which I think it’s important, i.e., the local synagogue is withering away. Jews aren’t moving here at the moment (the main source of membership, as Jewish children who grow up here tend to move away). I can probably stand in the way of that development for another decade or so, if it’s a worthwhile purpose.


  4. Puisse l’année 2023 vous apporter la sérénité et des réponses à vos interrogations. Vos résolutions s’accordent aux miennes.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. No suggestions, diagnoses or well-meant advice. I just wish you for 2023 the resolution of what may currently occupy your mind, as mentioned in the post. I would love to hear more about your job, but I suspect that would be difficult, for privacy reasons. Happy new year!


    • Thanks, and Happy New Year to you, too!

      Yeah, I make a promise of confidentiality to my clients, so details are out. In general terms, I “help people look for jobs” on behalf of the state, but I also “connect them to resources to support their job search.” The program helps anyone (no disability or income qualifications) but in practical terms, I am mostly involved with people who have really severe obstacles to participation in the job market, so I navigate a lot of social services and call a lot of employers to beg them to interview my clients or even just look at their resumes; I drive people to job interviews, I help them pick out clothes; I practice interviewing with them; I rewrite resumes; I help them locate and then get their kids into daycare or afterschool care; I locate and attend drug recovery meetings with them; I scour used car lots for affordable vehicles … essentially, I’m supposed to do anything to get people who are authorized to work into jobs. I’m also supposed to go out into the community and look for people (as opposed to waiting for them to approach the state’s programs), including in some unconventional settings.

      In essence I’m sort of a professional best friend / social worker. I have a third the case load of a regular social worker, and many fewer boundaries on what I can do to help. Initial evidence is that the program is going to be found (a) successful and (b) much more expensive than the state’s conventional job services. I don’t think the average person around here as any idea of the level of problems that many poor people experience — I know I sure didn’t.

      Liked by 2 people

      • That sounds like an extremely interesting but also mentally exhausting, potentially rewarding job. If anything, it’s probably great to be hands-on rather than “just” theoretical with clients. But I understand that it is hard to leave the job in the office and not take it home with you. The initiative sounds great, though, and is probably what is needed to bring people back into the job market. I hope the funding keeps coming!


  6. I have always found that the best way to take care of myself is to indulge, moderately. Embrace life, eat chocolate and swim naked. Or something like that. I don’t want to be well preserved when I die, I want to be very well used!


  7. Have a great year 2023, Servetus and all RA fans. Well, good resolutions are what we cling to and… our dreams…, for peace in our our countries and in places we all think of for months, more freedom for Iraki people and specially women and of course in Afghanistan (I’m no feminist and no radical wokist I dare admit indeed but I just can’t live with obscurantism) and peace in our hearts…and if (moderate and open-minded) religious beliefs (or, moral principles more generally) can help with that then it’s just ok, we all find our ways to fit in this world, we evolve, we fulfill and do our best. Good health Servetus and all of you, happy new year 2023 !


  8. That headline made me smile because it sounds like something my father would say on New Year’s Eve when I was a teen and way too lazy in school 🙂

    Gute Besserung für den Blutdruck and good luck with the resolutions for 2023 and the committee work (and of course everything else you want or do this year)!


  9. Very very late to this, but I wish you all the very best for 2023!

    So sorry to hear about your health issues. Will they resolve, do you think, or stay permanent? I know all about dizziness and it SUCKS.

    Yeah, distancing yourself from work like that is difficult. It’s why I decided to not do full time social work and why I declined to apply for a team leader position at where I do refugee volunteer work when I was asked to apply. But yes, it’s also rewarding and cool to hear how well you are doing! I guess, in the end it will be a matter of balance – what can you accept and when does it become unacceptable for your own well-being. It’s a tough one to figure out.

    I’m glad you’re finding your place in a community! Hope it stays good!


    • Thanks for the good wishes, and of course “ditto” if I haven’t said that already.

      health: I really don’t know. I haven’t been dizzy since taking the medication, but at the same time they weren’t entirely clear that BP was the cause and I don’t really care to put myself in the hands of the doctors for more investigation, either. I have been feeling physically older lately. I suppose I was lucky to have gone this long without feeling my age. I’m not that invested in long life, though, so it’s easier to look at philosophically than I might have if (say) I were an athlete. I did clear five inches of snow from the drive on Thursday with a combination of shovel and snowblower, and was quite proud of myself, but for the first time I thought, huh, maybe I should pay someone to do this.

      the shul is really great — that continues to be very positive. Lots of room for development there.

      Liked by 1 person

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