Every day in our North Hills clinic, I am aware of so many connections being made; staff joining with their clients, their caregivers and siblings, and even engaging with our community members. But what has struck me the most lately have been the connections I have witnessed between our own Penny Lane staff. How we support each other is a beautiful process.
As a “Diversity Beyond the Basics” facilitator I was privileged to see so many employees connect with each other over their similar life experiences and perspectives, as well as witnessing them embrace their differences. This is something I have seen ripple outward since then. Now I am seeing this take shape in the form of our team meetings, case consults, supervision groups, department meetings, and just random encounters in the office.
I am grateful to supervise several our adjunctive services (TBS, case management, and CFT facilitation). It is through my work supporting their teaming efforts that I witness the positive effect that a dynamic exchange of energy can have on each individual. There is no doubt that our clients are much better served when their team members are consulting, ensuring they are supporting each other’s interventions, and working toward the same goals to move the client toward improved mental health. But then this amazing thing happens. We find ourselves moving beyond the work of our clients and actually taking care of each other. When we inquire how the kids or pets are doing, or when we chat about similar hobbies, or ask about an experience, we are seeing the other as a whole person, not just a co-worker or someone providing a service.
This job we do is not easy and the emotional load we hold for our clients can certainly take its toll. We are not machines, nor should we try to be. Machines cannot do the soulful work we do. It is in this genuine human connection that we are helping each other to focus on our personal wellness, further strengthening our Penny Lane community in the process.
Brené Brown said, “connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued – when they can give and receive without judgment.” And it is this energy that will give us…
Now sometimes we find ourselves on autopilot and we move through our day fast, not making time for these connections. I have days like this, when my intention is to complete my whole to-do list and “power through.” However, it is usually on those days, when I find myself trying to avoid “extra” communication, that I find I need that connection the most. Recently I have found myself stopping even more to engage with others, despite my busy schedule. Just a moment to connect in the present helps to shift my energy, my mood, and helps to bring my focus outwards, to a world beyond my internal agenda. It is also very humbling to remember that my schedule is not “the only” schedule and we each play an important role in keeping Penny Lane strong, for each other and for the families we serve.
So, the next time someone takes the time to ask how you are doing, take a moment to answer them honestly. That real connection may be just the thing you need to get through the rest of your day with a smile. Or perhaps it was that someone that needed the smile instead. No person is an island. We were built to connect. Our energy is meant to be shared. And it is in that exchange, that outward ripple, that we will continue to help each other through.
-Diane Nunn, Penny Lane Centers