I finally know what I want to do with my [work] life

Lately in my church we’ve been doing a series called “Trusting God with…” and one thing I’ve started wrestling with in regards to this series is work.
I love what I do, and yet I have 3 things on my plate as to what I want to with my work life:
1) Youth ministry
2) Social services, working with those who live with mental illness
3) I’m not sure what the job title would be, but I like what The Marin Foundation does, so something along the lines of building bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community.

But I have made peace and I’m reading to move forward into…*drum roll* šŸ™‚

I’m going to continue on in Social Services, working with individuals who have mental illnesses.
I’ve crossed the threshold of 2 years doing just that, and I like it, but the issue I have is that Illinois is ranked near the bottom (48 out of 51) when it comes to supporting those who need Social Services and funding (pay-wise) those who work jobs in Social Services, but still I am going to give IL a little more time and here’s why.

My annual review will be coming up soon and I’m putting together a proposal as to how my agency can return to a more client-centric approach in how they do things. I’m also putting together a book, a self-help book on mental illness and yet I realize that the general population will benefit from learning what I have learned, that (hopefully) the stigma of individuals living with mental illness will be decreased.

But despite all that, if I’m not able to prove my worth in this manner among other things, I’m starting to look elsewhere. I’m looking back to Memphis TN and see what’s available in this field that has proven to be the most stressful, most tiring, most emotionally jarring job I’ve ever had…but it is also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done job-wise. People are people, and this is how I want to invest my work life.

Part of my game plan does include going back to school, Masters in Psychology with an emphasis in Counseling. So maybe Illinois is where I’ll be, but then again Memphis appeals to me as well for many a reason. I fell in love with the people and that city when I was on vacation, good old “southern hospitality” is what I experienced wherever I went. Plus now that there’s a branch of The Marin Foundation being run by Jimmy Cornfoot I’ll still be able to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community.

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

My vacation in photos (part 2)

One of the main pulls to going to Tennessee was Memphis Pride, I’ve already written about it here but here’s some photos…enjoy!

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There’s a lot of cool architecture in Memphis, including this church:
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Photos of our group that represented the I’m Sorry Campaign:
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Priding in Memphis off of Beale šŸ™‚
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The parade!
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(That’s another thing about this year’s Memphis Pride, it rained nearly the entire time of the parade…but the same came out and dried things off very quickly)

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Purple El Camino with purple rims? Heck yes!
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During my camping at T.O. Fuller State Park I grew restless. The woman who took care of adding a few days on to my Memphis part of my vacation in Memphis suggested that I give Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park a try, I did and it was fun! šŸ™‚

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The Mississippi River!
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Hobbs watching a barge go by.
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Hobbs and a 4 inch grasshopper!
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This sandbar’s mine! See, it bears my signature and everything šŸ˜‰
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More to come, soon enough šŸ™‚
~Nathanael~

My vacation in photos (part 1)

I recognize that a lot of my readers are also friends I know on Facebook, for those of you who haven’t been subjected to viewing photos I’ve posted during my vacation here are some with a bit of narration…enjoy!

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Obligatory 0 miles/tabla rasa automotive shot…I rented a car for my trip, just because. The rate was good, and I’m considering renting again for another extended vacation.

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This is Missouri, and on my car is Hobbs the Duck. It’s a lawn ornament/mascot of sorts at my work, he has been on cruises and enjoys traveling with Staff.

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Hobbs, dusk, Arkansas

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I didn’t know Arkansas was The Natural State, but now I do šŸ™‚

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Another shot of Arkansas at dusk.

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My tent…with the wrong shock cords! I was so pissed off at myself, but I made the best of it…what else could I do?

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Big modified State of Liberty, even bigger church…this is in Memphis and nothing really rivaled its size church-wise.

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The church was off this street…heck, the church was the only building on this street.

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Best Vietnamese buffet I’ve yet to have! The dishes were primarily tofu-based, and they do a heck of a good job with marinating it thoroughly. By the second time I was there I was a familiar face šŸ™‚ Hi again! I love it.

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The site of where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated which is now where the National Civil Rights Museum is. I stated it was heavy in a previous post, and it feels heavy still just looking at these photos again.

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“The idea began with just one person” I like that, and sometimes you have to be that just one person, can I get an amen?

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A panorama from the balcony where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

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Outside Martin Luther King Jr.’s room from the ground level.

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My only photo of Graceland. It was somewhat of a Presley compound, and cost $30+ to get inside! I’m a fan of Elvis, but not that much šŸ˜‰ Maybe some year, but for the time being postcards and talking to people about their experiences in the gift shop[s] parking lot was enough for me.

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Beauty in creation shortly before the sun set.

More to come, but at a later time!

~Nathanael~

Camping 201; not necessarily for beginners, but for returners

So while I was camping I…wasn’t completely prepared for it, so I’m going to dispense with some camping knowledge for those who are returners to camping not necessarily beginners.

Have appropriate clothes – Might seem obvious but that’s what sent me home early. I had plenty of warm weather shirts and hoodies,Ā  alas I didn’t have a good blanket and pair of pants that would handle cold weather.

Bring more than one pair of shoes – Bring a pair of comfortable shoes for whenever and a more durable pair for hiking and whatnot. When it came to my camping, I had two pairs that were comfortable, as most of the hiking I did wasn’t strenuous but it’s good to be prepared in this way.

Be hospitable – I like entertaining people, even when I camp. So I packed accordingly to share what I had with others šŸ™‚ Alas I was turned down by those I invited to my campsite for cheesecake and coffee, but I was still prepared in this way.

Accept the kindness of strangersĀ (within reason) – At my last campsite a woman who worked the campground gave me 15 pieces of hardwood for my campfire! She even unloaded it from her pickup truck. There’s something to accepting kindness from others, they hardly fit the “stranger” bill afterwards.

Cheat if needed be (when it comes to campfires) – I love getting a campfire going, but at the second campsite I was at there wasn’t a lot of kindling to get a fire going to fuel my firewood. So I went to the local grocery store, bought charcoal and lighter fluid, voila! Campfire! Given that it was charcoal it was sustainable to get my campfire going for quite a while. It’s okay to use these, no need to be a pissy purist if you’re unable to get a fire going.

Take photos – I like photography already, but having snapshots of where I went and who I met and what I ate…they’re a good way to recall such trips. Plus you can always show the photos you have taken to others once you come back šŸ™‚

Bring what you need, but don’t go overboard – I think I brought more stuff than I needed on my camping trip. Realizing that I know how to streamline next time I go camping, because I didn’t read the books I brought and some other things kind of took up space because I thought I was going to use it, I thought wrong.

Carry some ca$h with you – I didn’t have this problem, but some places you go might not accept your debit/credit card.

Shock cords are not universal – I found this out the hard way šŸ˜¦ As I grabbed the wrong ones to my tent (I have two tents). It was more of a lean-to than a tent, and one night/morning it collapsed upon me, I survived if anyone wants to know šŸ˜‰

Bring an axe/hatchet/knife/pointy stick – Yes, for assisting in the camping and defending if necessary. The former came into play quite often, but thankfully never the latter.

Manners please – Manners, ’nuff said.

Bring a cooler – I have one and it served me well in keeping my food cool and all in one place.

Bring a lot of water bottles – Thankfully I had potable at each of my campsites, but realizing that it might not have panned out that way I brought 5 Nalgene bottles just in case.

and lastly…

Have fun! – Kind of self-explanatory, but sometimes it’s more of an endurance than a trip or dare I say vacation. Go to town, go walking, go swimming, do something you’ve never done before, try the local grub and craft brews, write postcards to your peeps (don’t forget the stamp in the upper right hand corner), write, journal, meditate or pray, etc.

Happy camping!

~Nathanael~

I’m Sorry Campaign – Memphis Pride 2013

So the first leg of my vacation to Tennessee was marked by coming into town for camping, but also Memphis Pride. My friend Jimmy kept me in the loop when I was still in IL, when I was still in limbo with my job pertaining to vacation…but IĀ  made it out to Memphis, and have been enjoying it ever since.

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Okay, so yes I come from Illinois and I have attended 4 Pride Parades in Chicago, so the lag and less of a parade was a little quirky…but still, there were windows of opportunities all around us! People did in fact want to know what we were sorry about, and we talked about the I’m Sorry Campaign on individual levels but also on behalf of Christianity as a whole.

After the parade we all manned a booth in Robert R. Church Park in Memphis, more people talked to us but there were also different churches present who were happy for our presence, happy that (I assume) we were quite the diverse group; both members of the LGBT community, but also allies. I walked around the park checking out the different churches and talking to the people who represented them, it was very encouraging to hear their stories and their church’s goals to promote equality, affirmation, and acceptance as a church community. One church, a Roman Catholic church, has been on quite the journey of being accepting and affirming; after a parishioner’s son committed suicide the bishop, J. Terry Steib, became vocal within his church community but also the community of Memphis. More information about what he said can be found here. It was very encouraging to hear what was said by those who align themselves with Roman Catholicism, because at times I don’t hear their voice all that much or their voices get vocalized by someone else.

It was different from the Chicago Pride Parade, but it was a worthwhile experience. I kind of enjoyed it because it wasn’t such a large parade, which provided more intimacy in putting out there what we were sorry for. Yes I like Chicago for the largeness of it (number 3 in the country, woo!) and for the stop-go foot traffic that gives more opportunities to talk about what I’m sorry about.

I don’t know what next year holds for me in reference to Memphis Pride, but if I can I will be back! šŸ™‚

~Nathanael~