Google+

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

“Christmas Spirit” and a Holiday Attitude of Kindness

By Stephen C. Schultz


The day was overcast and chilly. There was a brisk wind blowing from the North and scattered rain drops splashed off windshields of parked cars. I pulled my collar up around my neck, dipped my head into the wind, and started walking toward the local department store as cigarette butts and bumps of old chewing gum seemed to glide past me on the sidewalk below.

As I approached the east side of the building, I noticed a father and mother, each with a young child in their arms, rushing through the wind towards the door. They had coats wrapped around their young children and were doing their best to shelter them from the ensuing storm. I sped up my pace just a bit and reached the door before them. I swung the door open and stepped back, just as they approached. The mom looked up, turned and caught my eye, and with a sincere look of gratitude simply said, “Thank You.” They then moved on to the shopping cart area where they did that proverbial parent/child dance of getting their young ones situated and strapped in a cart. They were then off into the store, wheels wobbling as they disappeared behind aisle five.



Just two nights ago, having had our fill of turkey leftovers, my wife mentioned that I go down to the local Mexican food place and get some tacos for dinner. So, I grabbed my thirteen year old daughter and off we went. It’s not far, so there was some light conversation about school, her latest babysitting job and whether we would do drive-thru or walk-in to order.

I’m not a big fan of the drive thru. In my entire life, I have yet to receive an order through the drive thru that is correct! (OK, maybe just half my life!) Then, you’re left with that nagging decision of turning around and going back or just accepting the fact that you get screwed at the drive thru!

So, we placed our order at the counter and moved a few steps back to wait. My daughter was checking her phone and I’m simply watching the process of filling orders and cooking food that is taking place behind the counter. The woman who placed her order prior to us was standing to our right, with a young girl about six years old. Her daughter had some crayons and was coloring a child’s place-mat featuring cartoon characters.

The teen behind the counter called this woman’s number and she stepped forward. As she approached, her order required about five different small bags to fit her order. She started to struggle gathering all of the bags together in a way that would allow her to carry them outside to her car. I tapped my daughter on the shoulder and whispered, “Why don’t you help that lady carry her food out to her car?” Without hesitation, my daughter bounced up to the counter and offered to help. The lady hesitated for just a moment, but my daughter insisted. They then split up the bags and out the door they went. My daughter returned just a few minutes later wearing a big grin.

As we returned home, my daughter ran into the kitchen declaring, “Mom! I helped a lady! She had a little girl and I helped carry their food to their car!”

These two experiences have been on my mind lately. I’m not sure why. But it is apparent to me as I get older, that the “Christmas Spirit” and a Holiday attitude of kindness really are about the small things. It’s about the subtle acts of kindness. Its opening the door for young parents and helping a lady carry her food to the car. It’s about offering a smile as you pass on the sidewalk and patience as you pass in a traffic lane.  

Let’s do our best this Holiday Season to reach out to others with Kindness. I'm interested in any random acts of kindness you have been involved in; either as a giver or receiver. When we share, it becomes contagious...in a good way! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

When Holiday Gratitude Blows In On A Cold Wind

By Stephen C. Schultz


The arctic blast had settled in...17 degrees Fahrenheit and I was walking down the street yesterday to get my hair cut. At the time, it didn't seem like such a good idea. I've heard that the quickest way to lose body heat is through your head. That’s why a beanie or stocking cap is a good thing in cold weather. Here I was, consciously cutting off what “insulation” I still had!

I leaned forward into the brisk wind and continued on my way down the street. I had some errands to run and it was a tight schedule. I had called ahead of time and the young lady who usually cuts my hair was unavailable, so I took the next person on the list to be assigned a “Walk In”.



It’s the front end of the Holiday Season and I was going to be out of town this week. I would be back home in time for Thanksgiving, but it was a tight schedule. So, this was truly the only time I had to get this done over the next week and a half.

I stepped to the door, head down, and turned the doorknob. The little bell hanging above the door announced my arrival as the door swung open. Nobody noticed. Conversations seemed to originate at the back of the building, slowly building and cascading forward past each stall, picking up the dull roar of conversation as hair product fragrance filled the air. It then seemed to dump right at the front counter. I stepped to the counter and gave my name. There was a pause, a check of the database and a soft spoken “just a moment” as the young woman turned and walked away.

This was turning into a bad experience quickly…and it hadn't even really begun. I was frustrated because of my tight schedule, the person I usually have cut my hair wasn't available, the weather sucked and the customer service at the front counter was less than desirable.

The girl from the counter came back to the lobby with another young lady and introduced us. I followed her to the stall and sat in the chair. She seemed a little timid and nervous. I thought to myself,

“Great…I get the new one right out of school.”

She asked how I usually have my hair cut. (I wear it short, not quite a crew cut, but messed up with gel…not real complicated.) 

We finally got it figured out that she would cut about a ½ inch off and trim up the back and sides. She reached for the clippers and the cord was in a huge tangle. She stood awkwardly trying to get the cord untangled, moving the prongs through loops and wrapping the cord forwards and backwards. Once it was untangled, she plugged it in and moved closer to me only to realize she had not put the drape thing over me. So, she reached forward to put down the clippers and simultaneously leaned in front of me to grab the drape thing.

She asked if I wanted my hair washed and at this point I simply said, “No thank you”. 

I knew that would only be one more opportunity for “Chaos Theory” to continue its ugly rampage through my already busy day!

I was now settled in and she started to comb through my hair. The scissors made that snipping sound. Her fingers trembled and she meekly asked, 

“So, are you from around here?” 

My mind screamed, “Oh, you have got to be kidding me!!!!” 

Why is small talk a necessity when you get your hair cut? Is there any reason to drag a 5 minute process into 10 or 15 minutes? I then simply mentioned that I was from town…and I closed my eyes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Remember parents...create memories with your children

By Stephen C. Schultz


The whistles are blowing constantly and the sound of shoes squeaking on the hardwood floor is relentless. Cheers from the spectators are mingled with the stomping of feet every time a point is scored. There is a level of anticipation and excitement that can only be felt at a sporting event of some kind.



For me, watching volleyball has become a weekly event. All of my kids have shown an interest in sports. My oldest daughter as well as her two younger sisters had years of soccer, softball and volleyball. My son gravitated to basketball and baseball. He did have a few years of chasing a soccer ball when he was barely beyond being a toddler.

Athletics and team sports provide exercise and the development of essential character traits that are so important when navigating the child and adolescent stages of development. Kids learn about hard work, focus, determination, courage, collaboration, problem solving, assertiveness and empathy to name a few.

However, my own personal opinion is that the shared memories are the most important aspect of sports activities. These memories foster healthy relationships. You see, the day will come when the sport is no longer played. The practices fade away into the rigors of life, work, civic and family responsibilities. What's left are the memories of playing, memories of the conversations in the car afterword and the bonding that takes place between a child and their parents.

For this reason, I share some of the memories of my daughter and her volleyball season. I am a proud papa, but these days won't last forever except as memories. We always seem to be fighting that elusive nemesis called "Time".  I hope you enjoy!







Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Healing Arms of Mother Nature

By Stephen C. Schultz


The air was thin and cool. Stars speckled the sky as the faint flashing strobe of a commercial airline silently glided across the cosmos. The leaves rustled in a slight breeze that carried the unmistakable hum of crickets through the canyon. I turned and noticed the feather of a “Bird of Prey” dangling from the limb of a pine. There was a nervous energy that seemed out of place in such calm surroundings.



This was the beginning of an early morning Phase Review for three students who were enrolled at Oxbow Academy. They stood at the trail-head a little disheveled and groggy. The boys circled up and had a brief conversation with the therapists about situations in their lives where they have made some decisions that actually betrayed the trust of their parents and other loved ones. In fact, some their behaviors have been downright painful for others to endure.

The conversation then moved to the various struggles of life. The therapists pointed out that the trail they would hike represented “Life’s Journey”. Then without another word, they were off, hiking up the trail.



The boys started off at a good pace. Things were pretty smooth and the focus was strong. About fifty yards into the hike, at a very steep incline; one boy started to demonstrate fatigue and started to slow down due to the rocky terrain. He stepped off the trail and leaned against a tree. He was whining and complaining about how hard it was. He mentioned this isn't what he was expecting and that he is not an outdoors type of kid. He was trying every trick in the book to get the therapists to say he could just go back to the car. Then the conversation turned to what he would say or do with his parents when things got hard. There was silence…then one slow step…then another. He was back on the trail and slowly making his way to the top.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Food for Thought on Young Adult Career Development

By Stephen C. Schultz


The smell of roasted turkey filled the room with just a hint of sage. Sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie lined the counter. I was sitting on the couch having a conversation with my brother Dr. Jared Schultz. He and his family were visiting for our annual Thanksgiving Day Dinner.




My brother is a professor and assistant dean at a local university. His specialty is in rehabilitation counseling.  My career has consisted of close to 30 years working in the field of addiction counseling and mental health services. My other brother Scott Schultz is an estate planning attorney in Eugene, Oregon. He has spent years advising and counseling with families on the best ways to facilitate caring for dependents and family members who struggle with failure to launch, substance abuse and other physical disabilities. As parents begin to move through retirement, this process of planning is crucial for managing family financial resources and protecting the family legacy. My oldest daughter Stephanie has a unique duel degree in Elementary Education and Special Education. Stephanie is currently heading up a special education classroom of 12-14 year old students with mild to moderate disabilities. She made an interesting observation just this last weekend when she said,

“You know, I’m working with the same population in my classroom, just at a slightly younger age.”

I mentioned to Jared at dinner that there were some common parental concerns. These included helping their teens and young adults make the transition to a self-supporting, responsible, productive member of society. Often this is a subtle struggle after receiving substance abuse or mental health services that grows in severity over time. While in the process of dealing with clinically complicated concerns, they have no opportunity to focus on career and educational aspirations. When the treatment interventions are no longer the focus, they then feel behind in their social and career development and get discouraged. Many young adults in the “Failure to Launch” population fall into this category.

Historically, there have been two competing avenues for receiving career and vocational services. They each come with government bureaucracy and generally poor customer service; leaving families feeling overwhelmed and uncared for. Here is a little more information about government services.


General overview of State Services (USA)

State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a program that is available to anyone with a disability provided that they;

1.      Meet State criteria and have a disability

2.      The disability is an impediment to employment

3.      They can benefit from services.


The vocational evaluations provided by the State consist of testing to assess the interests and abilities of the client. Sometimes the work and family values of the client are tested, but this is infrequent and varies from State to State and case worker to case worker. Case managers generally don’t make recommendations of support or train families on how best to support the client. You may have a local case manager say they do, but families expecting a moderate level of “customer service” will be disappointed.

By Federal Law, VR Services are available if a student meets the above requirements. However, in practice, parents find themselves being passed between the local VR agency and the school district. This is because Federal Law also regulates how Special Education services are provided through each school district. By law, special education accommodations and Individual Education Plans (IEP) must be provided up to the age of 22 based on severity of the disability.

For those students who are between the age of 18 and 22 this situation tends to be very frustrating. Families find themselves caught in the middle of school districts and VR services; with each saying the other agency is responsible for funding the services. Consequently, most families simply give up seeking services.

Because Public Rehab is a government run agency, there are some cultural and bureaucratic issues each family should be aware of:

1.      Delays in services. VR counselors have caseloads of 150 to 300. While they do the best they can, they simply can't provide customized and individualized service.

2.      Vended services. Because of heavy caseloads, VR counselors don't generally provide services directly. They vend with service providers in the field. The qualifications of those service providers are much lower, especially in providing employment services (most have a HS diploma, or possibly a BS). Additionally, they will be limited to the services available in the local area.

3.      The family may have limited involvement in the process. The public VR process is very focused on the individual, and they do not have much experience working with families per se. It really depends on the capabilities of the rehab counselor assigned to the case. (Families aren't able to “choose” their rehab counselor; the counselor is assigned…luck of the draw.)

4.      The family will have to go through the eligibility process. Students are required to wait until 1 year before high school graduation to apply for State VR services. Often, if the agency budget is limited, they go to what is called, "order of selection" which requires them by law to serve the more significant disabilities first. 

A Solution for Families


If your son or daughter has struggled with a disability of some kind or suffered with emotional, mental health or substance abuse concerns, then a private and personalized career evaluation is something that you may want to consider. Please click here to review this sample evaluation. It is an actual evaluation that Schultz & Associates, LLC was contracted to provide for a young man from Washington State.

Friday, October 3, 2014

When your young adult asks; What should I do?


Career Evaluation Report


Client: John Doe

Evaluator:
Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (Certification #:00047679)
Utah Licensed Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (License #: 7558655-6101)
Human Services Board Certified Practitioner (Certification #: 0000096)


Evaluation Date: November 5, 2013
Evaluation Location: Anywhere, USA

Career Evaluation Referral:
John was referred for vocational evaluation, for the purpose of assessing his vocational interests, values, abilities, and social skills to assist in determining a vocational goal. A personal interview was conducted, and the Career Occupational Preference System (COPS), Career Orientation Placement and Evaluation Survey (COPES), Career Ability Placement Survey (CAPS), the Test of Interpersonal Competence for Employment (TICE), the Job Match Index (JMI), and the Career Maturity Inventory-Revised (CMI-R) were administered.

It should be noted that the recommendations contained within this report are based on consideration of all of the data collected through the assessment process. The scores from a single assessment tool should not be utilized exclusively in the determination of a vocational goal. Click here to review the results.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

No More Dirty Diapers for Mom


By Pamela J. Schultz    
           

I silently groan as I stare at the laundry pile that has now escaped the boundaries of the baskets and is spilling over onto the laundry room floor.  “It’s actually able to creep under the door all by itself,” I mutter.  Yes, this is what my life has become.  Now, I actually talk to laundry!  I marvel at the abrupt changes my life has undergone since becoming a full time “stay at home mom” six years ago.



For one thing, I wouldn't have been caught dead in the sweat shirt and torn jeans I was wearing today.  Although I’d only been dressed about two hours, my sweatshirt already had juice stains, toast crumbs, and a nice blob of dried oatmeal on it from my 15 month old's breakfast, and, as for the jeans, well, they were comfortable. As recently as baby number two, I would have changed the stained sweat shirt, but, hey, after three kids I know it’s a wasted effort—the clean shirt will be dirty within the next hour, and besides, the sweat shirt thrown into the dirty basket would tip the delicate balance on the mountain of clothes already there, and they really would begin to move into my kitchen.  I give myself a little pep talk by remembering that I still put on makeup AND exercise.  Oh, and I wear earrings every day.  For some reason, this small bit of “accessorizing” makes me feel in tune with my former, super organized self.      

I have to admit that sometimes I wistfully think about all the designer suits and dresses that used to hang in my closet.  I used to be a working professional.  As a broker for one of the largest brokerage and mutual fund companies in the nation, I was knowledgeable about stocks, bonds, options, and mutual funds.  My conversation used to be littered with phrases such as, “The P.E. ratio on that particular stock is…”, “We’ll set your net credit and debit on your option spread order at…”  I now spend my day saying such things as, (to my son who just turned five while he’s in the bathroom) “Please aim it in the water!”, and to my 15 month old daughter, “Hello, pretty princess, mommy loves you so much.  Tell mommy what the dogie says,” as I proceed to loudly make every animal sound imaginable for her.