This Work is Hard

Guest Blogger: Paxton Leibold, Our Front Porch 2017-2018 Intern

Hurricane Harvey. Photo Credit: Olivia Vanni/The Victoria Advocate/Associated Press

Coming into this internship, I did not know what to expect. I had little to no clinical experience, I had never worked with the ‘short term’ homeless population nor clients who had severe trauma, and I honestly did not know how to do case management, let alone effective case management. However, while being a part of this organization, I learned how to do all of this and so much more. I learned that trauma can manifest in completely different ways within the same disaster, and that people are the most resilient when something tragic happens to them. From clients that have anxiety and depression, to clients that just want to move on; they are all resilient and deserve help. Another thing that I learned is that I am so irritated with how our society is ran. These types of clients (short term homeless) get little to no assistance through resources through in communities; why you ask? Because these people are physically not living on the street; per the homeless requirement in Denver, so they do not meet the criteria for government aid.

How messed up is this?

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Sympathy is a Garbage Emotion

Guest Blogger: Taylar McCoy, Our Front Porch 2017-2018 Intern

While working at Our Front Porch I have been able to hone some really useful skills, but one thing seems to stick out the most. Our Front Porch has given me an outlet to truly understand the difference between sympathy and empathy. Some people see these words as synonyms, but they are quite different. There are four words that I would consider to be related, but distinguishable: pity, sympathy, empathy, and compassion. Sympathy and empathy tend to be the two ideas that are intertwined the most. I would argue that empathy includes a component of connection and emotional intelligence that only comes from practice.

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How Our Front Porch Helps

Guest Blogger: Paxton Leibold, Our Front Porch 2017-2018 Intern

Every person in the United States faces struggles on a daily basis. From running out gas, to losing a credit card; the human race struggles in every aspect of life. But what happens when a natural disaster hits and you lose everything you own and love? Would you be able to pick up and move on, know what to do, or be able to function soundly? I know in my personal life, I would not be able handle the most basic of everyday tasks. People are resilient and can handle so much, but sometimes they need help in this crisis period. I say this, because this is what I do in my internship: I help individuals who have lost everything due to a natural disaster.

Residents wade through floodwaters in Beaumont Place, Texas during Hurricane Harvey. Photo Credit: Jonathan Bachman/Reuters/Newscom

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Compassionately Listening

Listening with compassion sounds pretty straightforward, but it is often more challenging than you think. I have had lots of practice, especially when I’m working with disaster survivors, and I still have plenty of room for improvement. I have often gone back to this Dalai Lama quote as I think it so well describes how to truly be compassionate:

“Usually, our concept of compassion or love refers to the feeling of closeness we have with our friends and loved ones. Sometimes compassion also carries a sense of pity. This is wrong. Any love or compassion which entails looking down on the other is not genuine compassion. To be genuine, compassion must be based on respect for the other, and on the realization that others have the right to be happy and overcome suffering, just as much as you. On this basis, since you can see that others are suffering, you develop a genuine sense of concern for them.”

~ The XIVth Dalai Lama

Heather responding to a disaster as part of the Red Cross Disaster Assistance Team.

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Mindful Eating While Stressed Out: Part 2

Here’s more from our guest blogger, Paige E. Butkus, Nourished to the Core, LLC – Holistic Nutritionist & Yoga Teacher, on how to stay healthy when dealing with stress.

Work on keeping a healthy gut flora.

In order to combat stress we need all of our defenses strong including our gut bacteria. The microscopic bacteria that live inside of our digestional tract help us with more than you may know. Scientists have labeled the stomach our “second brain” for a reason. As much as our mind influences our body, our gut influence our mind. When our healthy bacteria are out of whack:

  • Our immune system is compromised.
  • Our digestion is weakened.
  • Our mental state and mood is negatively affected.
  • Our energy levels are reduced.
  • Our oral health is affected
  • Our craving for unhealthy food increases.
  • Women’s vaginal health is affected.
drinkingwater

Image Credit: Creative Commons

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Mindful Eating While Stressed Out: Part 1

Guest Blogger: Paige E. Butkus, Nourished to the Core, LLC – Holistic Nutritionist & Yoga Teacher

Stress is a part of life and how we deal with it determines the quality of our life. One way of dealing with stress is to eat foods that comfort us such as pasta, pizza, ice cream, cookies, and the list goes on. Just reading these words might conjure up feelings of happiness as carbohydrate-rich foods have been shown to increase your feel good neurotransmitter serotonin. Food has a profound impact on our lives in a multitude of ways from reminding us of our childhood to distracting us from dealing with our problems. In order to combat stressful eating, prepare yourself with awareness and knowledge.

fruit&veggie

Image Credit: Creative Commons

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Yoga: Healing with Intention and Beginning Your Yoga Practice – Part 2

Guest Blogger: Nora Josephson, MA, LPCC, RYT-200

Start with an Intention.

What are you needing right now? What intention can you set for your practice? These can be similar to affirmations or coping thoughts. Maybe you need to hear:

  • “I am okay in this moment”.
  • Possibly it is as simple as, “Breathe in…breathe out.”
  • Or “Inhale” as you inhale and “exhale” as you exhale.
  • Or “I am ______” (examples: I am strong, I am enough, I am loved).
childspose

Photo Credits: Erin Stotts

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Yoga: A Healing Practice – Part 1

Guest Blogger: Nora Josephson, MA, LPCC, RYT-200

“Try to do everything in the world with a mind that lets go. If you let go a little you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace. If you let go completely, you will know complete peace and freedom. Your struggles with the world will have come to an end”. –Achaan Chah

At this point in time, most people in the Western world have become familiar with the term “yoga”, however, there seem to be many varying ideas about the practice. People may often think of comfy yoga pants, or someone who is limber and flexible or possibly a monk sitting cross-legged, chanting “Om”. The truth is that anyone can do yoga! Many of you might be hesitant to try it out, or believe that you could in fact be a “yogi”, but if you can breathe…you can do yoga! “Once you rest your attention on your breath, everything else begins to open up with ease” (Stiles, 2012).

upwardfacingdog

Photo Credit: Erin Stotts

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The Stressors of Crisis on a Marriage

Guest Blogger: Brittany Siegel, MA MFT  

married couple

Image credit: Creative Commons

Natural disasters have a profound effect on marriage. A marriage can be tightened or eroded by a disaster. When the unexpected happens, couples can undergo severe strain if they are unable to comfort each other. Of course people make adjustments, but for some their life will never be the same. They will never again have what they had.

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Why I Volunteer with Our Front Porch

Guest Blogger: Erin Stotts, MA, LPCC

Being a volunteer for Our Front Porch is something I do with passion and purpose. It aligns with who I am as a person, a community member, and as a clinician. This adventure that started about two years ago has been everything I had hoped it would be, and much more.   Yes, Our Front Porch is an outstanding start up, but the reason I highly value it goes deeper than just being part of something new.

Erins blog photo

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