xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Community Voices (Helms): Our jobs can teach us a lot about ourselves

An eclectic array of jobs helps me reflect on some of my most influential teaching moments from my past. Matching my vocation with what brings me joy and what fills me is totally different now than my way of thinking in my younger years. Somewhere my mind took on the belief that if a job was difficult or unpleasant, my responsibility was to barrel through and overcome. I believed “the rub” or struggle was building character.

One of the most difficult jobs was working on the locked wards of a state mental hospital. I worked with patients suffering from schizophrenia, paranoia or psychosis. The women’s and men’s locked ward were separated by a long hallway. What made my job most difficult? The truth is, the circumstances under which I was asked to work with my clients was unreasonable.

Advertisement

During my training phase, I was injured and so I started the job with my right leg in a Velcro cast. Then we were informed that as new employees, we would be starting on the locked wards without keys as it would take time to have them made. I would have to depend on other staff to get me off and on the wards. This was potentially dangerous especially when I found myself, a young woman in my twenties, on a locked men’s ward with a bum leg, no key and a fight broke out; my music therapy guitar used by a patient as a weapon to hit another patient. Soon after, I found out I was pregnant which was reason enough to move on to a different job.

When a job situation challenges my safety or my values, the cost is too high. My journey has taught me to choose jobs that bring joy. Listening to what fits me and fills me is now my priority. If a vocation feels like a fight, it’s not right.

Advertisement

I arrived at the adult home, only this day would remind me why I became a music therapist. Crowded with an array of circled wheelchairs, clients were ready for me to break out my guitar and begin the morning’s session. Staff were bustling around in the adjoining nurse’s station with their morning duties. I sang a personal hello song to each client using their name. And then it happened. 

Standing in front of an elderly stroke patient, I looked into his eyes and sang, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine ...” He began to sing with me; every word! The staff came running into the room in disbelief. Afterward, nurses shared that since his stroke, the man had been unable to speak a word! Music had unlocked a door to communication. This is just one example from many different jobs I have had over the years that have taught me a lot about myself.

I have always recognized the magic of music and its healing qualities. Its therapeutic value as a vocation confirmed its capacity to break through barriers. Music continues to speak without words and addresses emotional, psychological and physical issues. The therapeutic use of music has been a privilege for me to share in the lives of people.

In a variety of job experiences, I have worked with children and young adults. My love for them has provided opportunities for me to teach, guide and help on the journey with their struggles, their discoveries of who they are.  Children and young adults have taught me how to champion for them with an undying hope for the future. I discovered through having four children of my own how much children are here to teach us! So often, they don’t need my advice or my wisdom. They just need me to be their biggest cheerleader and to believe in them. This is also true for my clients.

One of the greatest privileges for me was serving as a senior mentor for F.I.R.S.T. Robotics organization. My job was to be an encourager and a resource person for hundreds of students and their engineering mentors. I enjoyed every moment of being in a position to inspire young people towards engineering and technology.

The most meaningful jobs have been those that are transformational in life. After much soul searching, recognizing my own needs and the way I’m made, I embraced being a meditation instructor. 

The process has allowed me to learn from my own life lessons. Being aware of these changes, I am then able to share these with clients who are at a place in their own lives where they are ready to connect spiritually to a deeper and more meaningful direction for how to live their own lives. I’ve learned over the years the importance of listening to my own intuition and self truth.

Kat Helms writes from Taneytown.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement