Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Thank Our City Workers!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Des Moines Public Schools had planned to use MLK day as a snow make up, but it was overturned by the school board based on good speaking and listening skills of many people.

MLKDr. King  would be proud of the process involving our community and his holiday!

I also think he would appreciate students being in the classroom on January 21 learning and growing! He obviously had a passion for education, as did his wife Coretta, and knew how important learning is at every age. I totally agree!

I have more to learn about MLK and how his life continues to evolve throughout communities across our country. 

Green garbage truckThankfully, every Tuesday morning the garbage in my hood gets picked up!

The evening before he was assassinated, MLK was prepared to lead a protest march to help support striking garbage workers.  He was just doing his job to help others do their job.

Thank you to the city garbage workers and thank you to the city street sweepers. I appreciate your work. Des Moines is a beautiful city filled with people who care about our community and I’m proud to live here.

Street sweeperI hear the sweeper on my street quite a few times throughout the year and rush to watch it pass by my house!

Thank you Dr. King for all you’ve done, especially for your call to service helping working people across the nation. I’m particularly fond of this quote:  

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” ~ a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King.

Be the best you can be at what you do as an attorney. Let me know if you’d like my help to help you help your client on a case involving work and disability!!

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

I’m A Lot Like A Mole…Fortunately to Help on a Legal Case!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Okay, so I do something I’m not so sure many other people chose to do and it’s clearly an inherited trait.  Dad did it too. Okay, it’s…it’s…I’ll just come out and tell you. I use bar soap and I use the soap until it is totally gone. And I mean totally!  I don’t waste soap.

Like dad, I also save and reuse paper napkins if possible (but prefer cloth!) and keep paper towels (ditto) the same way he did, until they’ve been totally used up! He’d toss, recycle or burn what he had to.

Waste Not, Want Not (Learned the saying from dad) and ya, it’s a proverb: if you use a commodity or resource carefully and without extravagance, you will never be in need, or, if one is not wasteful then one will not be needy. You get the point, and so did I back then and still do.

Dad would also say things like “It’s your nickel” back when the home phone rang in the 70’s with the cost increase to “It’s your dime” in the early 80s! Which really both made no sense at the time. But the point is my dad was cost conscious (boy oh boy am I too)! Dad was not wasteful and I greatly appreciate inheriting certain traits from him. I miss you so much dad! I know you are a part of me that I will have forever. 

Here’s a picture recently uncovered…my dad Dick and his baby Amy…no idea where we are and why I’m wearing silly glasses! Pretty cute though, huh! My dad, always a good looking man!

I am also quite cognizant of what I throw away. I don’t want to be wasteful and I don’t want to worsen any landfill with un-recyclable garbage (read: plastic packaging). I know plastic has many very practical and very useful purposes. But when it is used once and thrown away…that bothers me. Especially when I’m at a conference in a “green/sustainable building” and they serve all food items on disposal products.

I recycle everything possible (and feasible considering time and other factors) and started composting (thank you to my sister Julie who gave me her used Earth Machine)! To me, the smell of good natural composition of kitchen and yard waste is incredible and to think of how it was made by helpful microbes, worms and other organisms!

When mixed with your soil, compost will revitalize it, make it healthier and more productive, and increase moisture retention! Can’t go wrong there, huh!? So, I used compost this year spreading it out in my yard and garden. I don’t use any chemicals and pick weeds by hand! Plus I’m into the No Mow method of lawn maintenance.

Viola beautiful lawn and it smells so fresh! However, and much to my chagrin……we got moles. They must really like their meals found in our front and back yard. So the good can seem not so good when now my lawn is disfigured with raised soft ridges and scattered holes. So, this is all natural and meant to be, right?

A mole is really interesting looking, lives underground and is nearly blind. There’s been a couple deaths ~ a baby and an adult ~ with corpses delivered by most likely my cat Alaska in the driveway and later buried by my animal loving husband Randy….yes I make him dig a hole and bury. 

I read that although a mole can detect light it does not hunt using its eyes. Instead, it relies on smell (hence the interesting snout!) and on touching wriggling prey (hence those crazy nails) using sensory hairs on its face. So a mole is good for underground life.  A mole is also (based on my research : ) ) territorial, strong, a hard working solitude industrious digger (a natural engineer like my brother Michael).

So to safely say, I’m a lot like a mole. Yes I need to get new prescription glasses, there’s nothing wrong with my sense of smell, my nails are natural, and I have a somewhat fuzzy face according to my husband. There may be other similarities, but I’ll let you make them on your own!

I’ve talked to people, including my sister Julie, who have attempted to wage all-out war on moles without success. What I’m realizing is that molehills are signs that the soil is in good shape. And I can celebrate that fact! But there is lingering doubt and some anguish over the mighty, mysterious and resilient mole. And I’ve concluded a mole deserves respect, and as often as I can offer it, tolerance.

The bottom line is that with me, I see value and purpose in everything that surrounds me.

So, with this post, I ask you if you need help in helping your client through the difficult maze of their claim, please let me help. I won’t come to court looking like a mole, but will show up like an industrious mole:  ready to dig in and get to the bottom of the deal.

Thanks for reading my post. Give me a call! 515-282-7753  vocresources@gmail.com to discuss your case. I love to help out using my forensic rehabilitation services!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

Yoga Yogi to the Rescue…What’s Your Favorite Pose? Helping Myself to Help Others!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I’m a strong proponent for practicing yoga as a form of complementary and alternative therapy.  Well, for me, I practice yoga to relax and rejuvenate thee ole’ muscles after strenuous physical activity.  Yoga is great to reduce stress, strengthen and tone your body, and increase your flexibility.  What’s cool about yoga is you can do it right in your living room!

Yoga Yogi to the Rescue!

I practice many yoga moves and have been practicing since fall 2010.  My favorite yoga poses include those I can describe as fire hydrants, salute to the sun, shoulder stand, t balance, triangle, mermaid, spider, butterfly, fish, tortoise, camel,  gliding swan, kneeling dolphin, pigeon…I could go on and on! For my ultimate vote I’d recommend Sun Salutation!

The Sun Salutation (or salute to the sun) is an incredible move that stretches ligaments and muscles to increase the elasticity of the vertebral column and joints. It’s actually a series of 12 yoga moves performed in a single, graceful flow.

Sun Salutation

Yoga has helped my mind, body and soul in many ways! Thank you Noreen Gosch for being my first excellent yoga instructor.  She teaches through the Des Moines Public Schools Community Education Program and I highly recommend any course, whether exercise related or not, that catches your interest!

Time to roll out my mat!

Keep in mind there are numerous variations of yoga! Most poses involved creative stretching, like the crocodile pose! Be sure to try the horse posture, it works on the outer thigh/hip pocket area ~ yea the saddle bags; and the reclining warrior, excellent for stretching the thighs and strengthening back muscles…and…and…you figured it out, I love Yoga!

As on update to this post (evergreen in my eyes), I obtained a dream goal (in July 2016), which was to lead a yoga class! Hum, a calling? No, I just want to share my gifts with others.  I want to make myself as good as I can be do help others! (BTW, I love Healing Touch too!)

If you’d like to discuss the benefits of yoga, or any therapy that catches your interest, let me know. I guarantee if you practice any form of yoga that works for your body, you will be in a better state of mind!

Amy E. Botkin, MS, CRC, CLCP * Vocational Resources Plus, LLC 

lcpresourcesplus.com

VocResources@gmail.com

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

A Success Story About A Veteran I Was Proud To Help

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Following through with my last post on honesty, here’s the success story I mentioned:

During the placement process, I assess the client on his or her take of honesty at work using interview techniques, a self-report scale, and ensuing discussion. I’ve heard great stories.  I remember one client, a veteran I helped ~10 years ago when I had a contract to provide vocational services to VA Voc Rehab. The veteran (served in Nam) wanted a more suited job using his many transferable skills.

One day, while he was at work cleaning the men’s restroom at the I35 rest area near Osceola, the veteran found a wallet filled with cash. He called his supervisor who drove to the rest areas to retrieve the wallet, and it was returned to it’s owner.

Lost Wallet, Honest Worker

What makes this story even more honest is the veteran was being paid ~$6.00 an hour to clean the rest area (all areas and facilities inside and outside). The wallet he found was filled with enough money to have paid his wages for nearly 2½ weeks of work (cleaning disgusting toilets, working out in the cold, being treated like poopy by people who just want to get in and get out…) And he returned it all. All.

References are Golden Nuggets!

To help with placement to a better job for the veteran, the supervisor, following my request and with my help wrote a superb reference letter. The letter helped with the success of this veteran securing his new job. He was hired at Homemakers Furniture where he made use of his transferable skills (one was leather upholstery) and excellent work references along with the help of the VA’s hiring incentive program.  Nice work! I love this success story!

Back to me for a bit. A story of mine about honesty ranks up there too and simply put, that’s what a morally and ethically sound person does! I’ve returned found cell phones, various personal items, coats, neighbor’s mail, and money. Yes, money, in fact thousands of dollars.

Find cash on the sidewalk down the street! Get shortchanged? Too much change? Overpaid? Underpaid? What do you do?! A money dilemma!

Okay, here’s why I’ve literally returned thousands of dollars. As an independent contractor I more often than should happen experience  a long, long wait to get paid for my work. Not fun and not fair.  In fact, not that long ago I waited months to get paid, and then I received three checks in three separate envelopes for one invoice. Of course I returned the duplicate checks!

check

It literally added up to over $6,000!

Since 1999 when I started my business, I’ve been overpaid probably about six times. I couldn’t tell you why, but I return the checks…and pay postage doing so. And since 1999 I’ve been NOT paid once. I still remember it. It was for my hard work performed on a complex case. My final invoice totaled ~$500 and for some horrible reason the insurance company didn’t pay me. Ironic the [workers’ comp] case ended up being a NON permanent total disability. Needless to say, I won’t accept assignments from that representative any longer. Okay, I’ll stop…but could write a lot about unethical people!

I’ve written papers on my work and ethics. Please visit my LinkedIn Page to read the papers or call me at 515-282-7753 and I’ll send you copies.

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

Congratulations to my Beautiful Daughter….She Starts a New Job Today!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

As I mentioned in last week’s post, Arin was in interviewing mode. She found success! Today she starts her training at the Des Moines Public Library. My daughter, a librarian aide! I love it. She is so excited! It’s a part-time position, which the library does for all aides, that pays pretty good! She will continue at Walgreen’s as well, so will be working plenty of hours. Do you remember what job(s) you had at age 18? Click here for my earlier work history.

AJ the L

Arin the Aide To the Rescue!

I have blogged about Arin in the past and my grandma’s love for reading. Reading helps in lots of ways; one being that your vocabulary will become larger and more sophisticated. I remember one of my professors at Drake University (Dr. Bob Stensrud!) said something along the lines that a strong vocabulary is a sign of high intelligence. I’m sure there’s plenty of variances on that statement from people much smarter than me, but I agree that intelligence drives the need to acquire the vocabulary in the first place.

On Saturday, Randy and I took a road trip. When we realized from listening on the radio that the Cyclones just might win, we decided we needed to watch the second half! We found a nice place in Oxford, Iowa and stopped on in. There were some buddies hanging out at the bar and one was kinda making me sick. He was a “chain swearer”. You’ve heard one. F this and F that in almost every sentence. And when watching college football on a big screen tv, you can imagine what I heard. Yuck!  I will admit I heard myself say “Poopy” over and over towards the end of the ISU game….

I thought hummmm is my theory that people who swear excessively have low vocabulary levels and corresponding low intelligence? I don’t know, but there are studies out there I’m sure. I do pay attention when interviewing evaluees about their use of profanity and will report on it (while also offering counseling “advice”) as it certainly affects one’s view of professionalism in the workplace.

Profanity BoyPeople Swear, and Unfortunately I Am One of Em

But I don’t want to and I do notice it when I swear and chastise myself! And I try to stop hubby too. And Arin. And Jake. And Nick….and on and on! When my mom swears (not often) I sure take note! Woah!

I cringe when I hear a person swear in professional environments (and on the playing field…and  especially in front of children). I certainly hope Arin doesn’t let a big “F-bomb” out when she is at work at the DMPL (frown upon for sure!) She won’t! [I’m making her read this post…]

Back to the point of this blog and successful interviewing. The keys to a successful interview are preparation and practice. Let me know how I could help and download this tip sheet titled on Interviewing.

P.S. Don’t swear during an interview! Use the best communication skills you have!

P.S.S. My grandma Jean’s favorite “bad” word was “Horrors!”

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

Preparing to Graduate…Again!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Just an update to let my readers know I am nearly done with my most recent learning adventure through George Washington University….that lasted well over a year! I certainly learned a lot about forensics rehabilitation consulting, and really appreciate my cohort comprised of really smart rehabilitation counselors across the country!

There are students from the great states of Iowa (me!), Texas, Ohio, Washington, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, the District of Columbia, and who am I missing? Kansas?!

 

BeautifulOur Beautiful Country is so Colorful!

I’ve been in all our states but Washington, Hawaii and Alaska. This was traveling done mostly as a youngster, in the back of a station wagon with the entire family (oh, the memories!).

Back to the current times Amy….! During the forensic rehabilitation coursework, I placed heavy emphasis on the study of ethics. Because I feel comfortable with my own ethics, in turn I feel comfortable with forming my own opinions (and expert ones at that!)

One ethics paper I prepared in October, 2013 for the course Foundations of Forensics Rehabilitation Counseling II (COUN 6396) emphasized Ethics, Values and Character Surrounding My Career in Private Practice.

In another ethics paper I submitted in Spring 2014 for the course Law and the Rehabilitation Counseling II (COUN 6396), I analyzed Ethics and Vocational Reports. Specifically, I critiqued a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and his USE OF TESTING INSTRUMENTS in VOCATIONAL EVALUATIONS.

Along with submitting my paper to GWU, I also submitted it to a professor from the great State of Washington who teaches ASSESSMENTS to master’s level rehabilitation counseling students. I received powerful feedback from her.

 Knowledge

I am happy to share what I’ve learned and how it can be best applied to meet your litigation needs. My papers are available, just ask and I’ll see if you really want to read all about it! Call me at 515-282-7753 or email vocresources@gmail.com.   Or easier yet, connect with me on LinkedIn. I’ve posted them there!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

Never Underestimate the Power of Volunteering!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I want to reflect upon my volunteering experience … and engage you in thinking of your own. Does volunteering pique a developing interest? What specifically do you, or have you done to volunteer? Did the time fly when you were engaging in the experience? What were you responsible for in the role?

Even if it’s low key, your contribution and what you gain from any volunteering experience is of value.

Job Placement Network

For three years, back in 2006 – 2008, I chaired the Job Placement Network group. So, my interest was (and remains so) networking! My role to serve as the leader of this diverse group of community service providers offered me the opportunity to expand upon my existing skill set.

I tasked myself to administrate to the non-profit’s mission, organize meetings, market to employers, design and deliver materials and resources, recruit members, communicate ideas and detailed information, and most importantly network, network, network! And have fun!

Your network can grow as much as your mind can think. And there is no limit to your thoughts!

Currently, the networking group has not been engaged, although I’m sure hopeful in the future with new leadership, JPN can really make a splash in the future of our community!

Here’s a quick slide show about JPN designed in 2008.

If you are interested, (how about you, you wonderful Drake student?) please contact me for more information.

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

 

 

 

Whistle While You Work…or Grunt and Groan!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

It really does help to make noise while you’re working. I often work in complete silence. But when I whistle or listen to music, it does seem as though the work goes more smoothly. I have no idea why. I guess the Dwarfs did.

Maybe the sound helps distract the mind from trying too hard and prevents mental overload.

As I’ve written about in the past, mom and dad raised 5 kids. Us children are all only 13-15 months apart. Think about how much hard work Ann & Dick had in order to get us all out of the nest!

Here’s a great little YouTube Video of what it may have been like from the 5 babies viewpoint! The momma bird is hard at work and the song Whistle While Your Work is playing to help her!

Thanks for feeding us! 

 I completed my second week of boot camp (six more weeks to go …) and will say Linda Ross, our trainer is an excellent coach and instructor. She encourages us to do our best and to MAKE A LOT of NOISE when we exercise.

 It helps when you grunt and groan while you work out!

As I continue my journey in life, I find how important it is to work hard at whatever is at hand. Life isn’t easy. Whether it is mentally or physically, there is always more to learn and to improve upon. So, make noise! Be alive! Whistle, grunt and groan at work!

Don’t wish it were easier. Wish you were better.”
― Jim Rohn

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce.

Interview Motivation & My Daughter The Hulk!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Original Post dated: 11-2-2012

In this week’s writing, I’m enhancing my blog from last week about job interviewing  and encourage you, if you are seeking a job, to study certain traits to create a positive image during an interview (or for any type of communication with a human)!

But first, I want to congratulate my daughter Arin for landing a new job. She clearly presented herself and interviewed well! She starts tomorrow, after school, at Walgreens.

You’ll find Arin working in the cosmetics department!

It is true the key to landing a job is how well you present yourself during an interview. But did you also know there are secrets to getting jazzed about the interview? I found a nice article on the internet titled Job Interview Motivation. It lists five secrets to help you get motivated. In summary, they are:

1. The interviewer might be as nervous as you are.

2. The interviewer has more to do than you do.

3. Find a way to keep the negative thoughts out.

4. Realize you are only human.

5. Get outside help.

Click here for the entire article titled Job Interview Motivation. It is really good and will really help you! I added a bit to it, so please take some time and read it!

Using outside tools and techniques for job interview motivation can really help. Realize that many times nervousness comes from being selfish. I know that sounds a little crazy but typically we get ourselves all jazzed up about something because we are worried about how we are going to look or how we are going to act.

Those are selfish thoughts. Work on the selfishness you might have inside and watch your nervousness go away! I love to help people prepare for an interview. Placement is my specialty! If you have a client, or need help with interviewing, please let me know how I might assist.

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

 

 

How My Past has Brought Me to The Present! More Recollections of ISU – Part 16

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Hope you enjoyed last week’s blog post about motivation. On to more recollections of my days at ISU:

In the Spring of 1994 I took Social Work 261, taught by Stephen M. Aigner.  For the course,  I was required to read a book about the depression titled “In The Shadow of the Poorhouse”, by Michael B. Katz.

I still remember the book….17 years later (woah)

From Library Journal

According to Katz, the American welfare system that nobody likes has been able to resist fundamental change over two centuries because of its symbiosis with the social structure and the political economy. From his analysis of the history of welfare in the United States he finds that there have always been contradictions among its goals: deterrence, discipline, compassion, control, and patronage. Real reform, unlikely in the near future, would require that both social insurance and public assistance be replaced with full employment at fair pay, complemented by a social wage to all who are unable to work or find a suitable job. A stimulating challenge to the benevolent interpretation of welfare in America; recommended for academic and large public libraries. Harry Frumerman , formerly with Economics Dept., Hunter Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

I prepared a report after reading it titled “A Personal Look Into the History of Welfare in America.” The instructor gave me a 100 on the paper and wrote “You’ve worked hard on this and it shows. One of the better papers I’ve had in five years!” The instructor encouraged me to think about a career in social work. Hum, I pondered….

Here’s a few paragraphs from the report I authored April 6, 1994, to answer a couple of questions from Chapter 9:  

Did the claims of critics about the expansion of social welfare hold water?  In my view, the criticisms of social welfare didn’t hold water for a number of reasons. The expansion of social welfare included many new sources of benefits and programs that assisted all level income populations Benefits included in-kind programs, implementation of a retirement wage and increase in public welfare roles. Nutritional programs such as school lunches and dietary supplements for women and young children were expanded. Food stamp application grew and housing projects were subsidized. The commitment of social welfare programs to minimize poor quality living conditions and improve services to enhance human development and the general quality of life was an important step in the continuation of our country’s welfare policy.

Some people criticized the increase in welfare reform. Social insurance was seen to undermine the free enterprise system. And of course, the well known dubious demoralizing work ethic effect thought to exist was ever present. Many people also complained of the increase in federal government expenditures, yet the helping profession wasn’t the only service increased. Perhaps the critics didn’t view health care and legal assistance as beneficial to the entire country.

Relative to other western industrialized countries, how does the U.S. compare in its treatment of its citizens? When all national expenditures for social welfare are added and compared to the gross national product, there is a remarkable comparison between the U.S. and other industrialized demographic countries. The U.S. relies the heaviest on public assistance because our people have lower relative incomes and fewer incentives to work. Our government provides its citizens with a semi (half-there) welfare state. It taxes its citizens fully while only partially helping the disadvantaged members of its population. Compared to Switzerland, the United Kingdom, West Germany and Australia, the U.S. ranks last in its methods and principals of providing helpful assistance to its people.

 Helping Client Systems

Although I didn’t become a social worker, my career as a rehab counselor is similar in nature. Paramount to our work is building relations with clients and client systems. Relationships are based on mutual participation in identifying goals that are practical for the Client.  In my profession as a rehabilitation counselor, I have chosen to focus on helping people find their true vocation.

 A vocation (from Latin vocare, meaning “to call”), is a term for an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which he or she is suited, trained, or qualified. Though now often used in non-religious contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity.  Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocation

 

Into the second week of Lent, I thank God for giving me this gift to help others.

I hope you enjoyed reading. On to Part 16!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce