Capella is SSWAA’s new Membership Coordinator. Capella is a graduate of New Mexico Highlands University and practiced school social work in Arizona for five years. During a recent move across the country to Louisiana, she found she could no longer practice school social work in her new location. She is thrilled with the opportunity to shift her career and support school social workers in her new role with SSWAA. Here is a little bit about Capella’s transition, and some tools she uses to stay grounded during this time.
In June, my comfortable life in Tucson, Arizona was upended by a once in a lifetime job opportunity for my partner. While this move was a requirement, and we knew it would eventually come, doing so in the middle of a global pandemic was obviously not what I had prepared for. I had to say goodbye to my chosen family and dearest friends from a safe distance of six feet. I left coworkers who terrified for the upcoming school year, feeling like I abandoned them. I cried in front of my computer camera as I had my last meetings with students, some I have supported for five years, my heart breaking into a million pieces.
As you can probably tell, this move was not easy for me. It continues to be a major adjustment. The majority of people are like me and do not thrive in the midst of major changes. But, as we all know, the only constant in life is change. Gratefully, I have had some time to meditate on this sudden shift in my life. I have found a few things to be grounding during this time and would like to share in the hopes something may also resonate with you, especially as we dive into a vastly different school year.
Relationships, Relationships, Relationships. The fact is we are in a time of crisis and trauma. We are being forced into our lower brain, and most of us will be stuck in this perpetual fight, flee, fawn, or dissociative response state. We social workers understand the impact of trauma and stress on an individual. We also know neuroscience shows the key antidote to trauma and toxic stress is positive relationships. So, while you may want to crawl into a blanket fort with Netflix and candy bars (which I am not totally against) be sure to balance it out with positive interactions. As your stress levels increase, positive interactions with trusting relationships must also increase. Call who you can, plan a virtual coffee date, or catch up with friends you haven’t spoken to since college. Keep in mind your threat response may be to hide while your coworker, client, or friend may be working the hardest they have in their life. Everyone’s response will be different. Be kind to others and yourself.
Get grounded - Literally. Find a way to connect to the ground and do it your way. Pound your feet on the ground through walking, running or dancing. Try yoga or mindfulness, check out forest bathing, or just cuddle a loved one or pet.
Remember your why. Whenever I find myself disconnected from my career, questioning why I would choose something that often breaks my heart, I ask myself why I started in the first place. I knew I wanted to help disadvantaged youth since I was eight years old after meeting and hearing stories from Tibetan children who lost their families while escaping to Nepal. From then a desire to advocate for children swelled and I never looked back. When I need to be brought back to my purpose, I first ask myself, “Why did I choose this?” and second, “If the eight-year-old Capella could see me now, would she be proud?”. Often, the answer is a resounding, “Hell. Yes.” So - what is your why? Does it still fit? All responses are valid.
One Percent. Think of a line going straight across a typical, x-axis/y-axis graph. One of my favorite professors, Don McAvinchey, once shared that if you can make even a 1% positive difference in someone’s life, that 1% shift can create a trajectory of positive change. Imagine the line on the graph being shifted just one percent. As it shifts, the line’s trajectory changes. You can affect a 1% shift, and you may never see where the line (or life) ends up. But know your work is constantly motivating positive change in the world.
I may not be practicing in schools this year, but I am thrilled to be joining SSWAA as the new Membership Coordinator. I hope I can be a steady support for you so together we can make that 1% shift for our clients every day.
Capella Hauer is the Membership Coordinator for the School Social Work Association of America. She graduated from New Mexico Highlands University in 2015 with her Master’s in Clinical Social Work. She practiced School Social Work for five years in Tucson, Arizona where she obtained her certificate in Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics and ran a non-profit bakery out of her home. She currently lives in Louisiana with her husband and two dogs. If you popped into her home, you would most likely find her reading or dancing to reggae while baking cookies.