"Coach: Put Me in the Game!"

My dad played football from the time that he was a young boy all the way through college.  He is one of those guys who identifies himself as a football player, often talking about football before he even mentions his lifelong profession.  He is still in contact with his teammates from years ago.  They love to get together and tell stories from the good ole days of football.

My favorite story is from the football game when my dad broke his arm. (Stick with me and I promise you’ll see the connection to the topic soon.) My dad was a receiver for SMU, but in those days they had to play defense too. On one particular play against Notre Dame Dad tackled a big fullback. He got up and started walking back to his position, when he noticed his left arm was sort of “flopping around.” He went to the referee and showed him the problem. Time out was called and my dad walked to the sideline.  The doctor told my Dad that he had broken both bones in his forearm and needed to get in an ambulance and go to the hospital for surgery right away. My dad told the doctor that he wanted to stay and see what happened in the final seven minutes of the game. The doctor told him that the delay might result in the necessity of amputation. So Dad said “I changed my mind” and he went to the hospital where they placed metal rods in both bones.  He was so passionate about football that he couldn’t stand to miss the end of the game – even when he had a broken arm.

When I was young I played soccer and volleyball.  I loved swimming and was a member of my high school drill team.  I am still a huge sports fan, but playing a particular sport didn’t turn out to be my passion.  When I was a sophomore in college I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do when I grew up. I was in the process of transferring from a small liberal arts college to Texas Christian University and it was time for me to declare a major.  I was standing in the admissions office where they had a bookcase with a short brochure on every major that they offered at TCU.  I was desperately reading through the brochures and picked up one that said “Social Work.”  I had never heard of social work, but I read the description and I just “knew”.  I found my passion.  I majored in social work and I haven’t looked back since that day.

Throughout my career I have worked in diverse settings with clients who have intense needs, from homeless shelters to housing programs and from hospice care to hospitals.  I’ve been challenged professionally in a way that reminds me of football training camp when athletes are doing “two a day” workouts to get in shape for a new season.  I’ve taken a short break from my work to care for my children when they were babies.  This reminds me of the time between the Super Bowl and the start of training camp when players get to rest, spend time with their families and take time for other activities.  And boy, have I ever been sidelined with my own injuries and personal challenges.  During one phase of my life, I was a single mom working with hospice patients during the day then rushing to pick up my kids from school and daycare before closing time.  Within a few short months my apartment flooded, my car broke down several times and I had spasms in my back that left me laid out on the floor unable to get up.  Life got stressful and pushed me to the brink of my limits.  During that time period I had to push through the pain and keep working to pay the bills and be present to my kids and the hospice patients that I served.  If we go back to the sports analogy, the coach and trainer had to do an assessment, tape me up and send me back into the game.

A few years ago I left my job as a social worker in the senior behavioral health unit of a hospital in order to take care of my family full time.  My husband and I have four kids in four schools with a variety of extra-curricular activities.  It was time to take a break between seasons.  A little time passed and I started to get the itch to get back in the game.  For the past two years I have been building my business, SoYoCo Wellness, between shuffling kids to school and helping out with our family farm business.  You see, being a health professional is my passion.  It’s the thing that I love to do and learn about and talk about with peers and mentors.  While working as a social worker over the years I also trained to be a yoga instructor and a life coach.  I spend just as much time applying what I learn to myself as I do applying my knowledge and skills with those that I serve.  This is why I now offer self care tools to mental health and health care professionals.  You are my people.  You are my teammates.  We share the same passion.  I want to help you stay in tip-top shape so that you can continue to work in the field that you love.  If you get injured or need a break, then take a break.  Rest, take care of yourself and be ready to say “Coach: Put me in the game!”