Holding Hope Services

Julie Fanning LCSW

July MSW ONLINE POST – Self Determination and Social Work

I have so many great ideas for my blogs but I keep not making time to write them!  So…all I have been able to get written is another post for MSW online geared to those who are interested in social work or new to the field.  However, being candid,  I think even the older ones among us (meaning me) can use refreshers.

I am a very big proponent about people having their own choice.  One day I was complaining to my BFF about a situation and I said “I don’t know why that makes me so mad!”  She said “you always hate it when you think someone’s choice is being taken away.”

Lightbulb!  I do really hate it when people’s self-determination is taken away.  In fact one of my pet peeves ( and oh there are many) is when people say “If I were them I would…”     NO!  If you were them you would make the same choice they made because that is where your path and experiences would lead.  If you were confronted with the same situation you would make a different choice because that is what your values and experience have shown you.

Anyway, please click on over and read this months blog.  Wishes for tons of joy to come to you!


If I were them…Self Determination and Social Work


June MSW Online Blog Post – Tips for Social Workers Helping a Distressed Client

June is almost over and I am just now getting around to my June MSW online blog post.  Since it is geared for new social workers or those interested in being social workers I thought tips for helping a distressed client could be helpful.   I think they are great tips.  I use them regularly with clients.   Hmmmm.  That being said,  I have done poorly using 4 out of the 5 tips with my work and personal relationships this past week.  I guess I really do teach what I most need to learn.

Hoping everyone is finding moments of joy each day!


Helping the Distressed Client – Tips for New Social Workers



May MSWonline Blog – “Let’s Talk About Ethics”

Happy May.  We are finishing up Mental Health Month.  Keep fighting stigma and remember that it is not shameful to have a mental health issue.  #noshame

This is my contribution to MSWonline this Month.  I actually have a couple of new blogs written for this blog but can’t seem to actually post them.  Something to look forward to – or not!  🙂     Hoping you are all being the best you that you can be.

Do you have what it takes to be social worker?

Happy April everyone!  It is a cold and windy day where I am.  However, I have already switched out my closet to spring/summer clothes so it is Spring.  I will wear spring clothes and adorable shoes I just bought because I am ignoring the weather.  True Story.

Also – I finished another blog for the page I contribute to.  It is geared toward social work students and new grads.  Check out how I did.

Life is meant to be lived not endured…

Hi everyone,Taking My Own Advice

I am a contributor to a blog that is for those entering or in the social work field.  My first post is titled life is meant to be lived – not endured.  I think the tips for living life can be helpful for anyone.  Click on over and check it out!  Thanks.

Oh — And Happy Social Worker month to all of the social workers out there!

It is a movie. I liked it.

This is a little different from what I normally write but I noticed I was having an emotional reaction to people’s opinions regarding the movie American Sniper.  One of the best ways to process an emotional response is to express it – so here I am.

I read several blogs and watched a couple of video segments on critiques of the movie.  Mostly negative and scathing.  I kept wondering – “What movie did you all see?”  Then I realized many of the segments started with “I didn’t see the movie and I don’t intend to…”  Oh.   Random Pet Peeve:  Shredding apart a movie you have never seen.  Go see it and then shred apart to your heart’s delight.

It dawned on me that of course everyone takes something different from the movie.  What we get out of a movie or music or art or a book is really about us and who we are.  It isn’t about the movie at all, so in essence we all did watch a different movie.

As an overview, I do not believe we should have been fighting in Iraq.  At the same time I respect and honor the military and their families that sacrificed to do as their country asked.  I am proud of my brother who served in Iraq and won’t diminish the soldiers sacrbigstock-War-and-Peace-Conflict-Concep-46628032ifice by indicating that military members are all blood hungry, glory hounds incapable of seeing ambiguity.  Before I saw the movie I had no idea Chris Kyle even ever existed.  I only went because I had the day off and my Aunt said “I have to go pick up tickets at the movie theater – want to see a movie.”  A movie – as in entertainment.  A movie that I’m pretty sure wasn’t supposed to be an end all/be all documentary of snipers in the Iraq war. I actually laughed out loud when I saw the quote about Americans going to the movie as a patriotic act.  What?  The writer might be over-thinking it some.  I’m pretty sure people aren’t sitting around thinking “I could donate to a veteran’s clothing drive but hey – going to see American Sniper is the same thing.  Boy aren’t I patriotic.”

I will say out loud that I actually liked the movie.  I was a bit dismayed to see that Clint Eastwood directed it because in the political belief world I’m pretty sure Mr. Eastwood and I are not only  at opposite ends of the Spectrum, I suspect we are on different spectrums entirely.  Of course – it doesn’t matter who created the movie – I often say if our beliefs won’t stand up when people question them – how solid are they to begin with.

What did I get out of the movie?   War is fucked up.  Yep.  That is it.  War is fucked up.  People are placed in fucked up situations.  People are expected to do Fucked up things. Sometimes in the situation people will say and do even more Fucked up things.   After they are done and go home – people are expected to go on with their lives and their families as if none of the Fuckedupness happened.  That is what I got out of the movie.

One complaint I have read several times is that the movie is too black and white.  (Ironically actually, since many of the critiques of the movies were very black and white!)  Complaints of the movie said it depicted that all Iraqis were evil and the Americans all good.  Definitely a bit of that.    One thing the movie did do was show how the one Iraqi had been an Olympic athlete, hinting that hey – these are just people too.  Again – it is a movie.  No movie no matter how excellent can cover each and every nuance of a situation.

I suspect that the troops in country would necessarily have to have some type of black and white belief.  Don’t tell me that people who choose the military are sociopaths.  There are likely sociopaths at your work, in your neighborhood and even in the military.  However, all the military people I have met are people who love their families, their lives and their countries.  How would someone who has a conscience and empathy justify killing people if there wasn’t some distancing and some extreme good vs. evil thinking?  Could you do it?

It remindedPTSD - Magnifying Glass on Old Paper. me that as a society we often forget why soldiers struggle so much when they come home.  Trauma and PTSD are real and prevalent and it seems like one of our society’s tenets is that “bygones should be bygones” It is over and done with so people can get over it already and move on.  Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that.  Often, members in the military do not seek assistance because it seems weak and there is such stigma for a soldier to see help.  A movie like this can remind people that the experiences for military individuals doesn’t end when they come home.  It many times never ends.  The movie showed the main character even talk to what I presume is a therapist at the VA.  How awesome is it to give permission to a soldier that talking to a therapist might actually be helpful (gasp!)  It would be so easy or neat in real life but the thought was there.

The movie spotlighted the struggles families have.  Not just the soldier dedicates their life and time to the military – their family is connected too and often not by their choice.   The movie showed how even when the military member returns home – life doesn’t just go back to what the family considers normal.

As much as I – with my peace sign tattoo and all – want a world where human rights are protected and we see everyone as part of one human world and there is no war – we aren’t there yet.  I will continue to work and advocate for better lives for people but as many of the critiques said – Life is not black and white.  American Sniper as well was not all good or bad.   Life is ambiguous and full of both pain and joy.  Keep writing and speaking about the things that are important to you and as I will also try – work on being OK with ambiguity and that there can be value in ideas and beliefs that may not be congruent with your own.


Free therapy for veterans  of Iraq and Afghanistan and their families.
Free therapy for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.





Have Faith in Something…

One of the men I supervise often puts quotes on his instant messaging for the world to see.  Today’s quote caught my attention.   “Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.”  Helen Keller.  It struck me as beautiful.  I don’t know what she was referring to us having faith in but I would argue it doesn’t matter.

May she is talking about faith in God – that no matter what burdens fall upon you, you’ll be seen through your journey, have purpose and make it through.  Maybe it is faith in human nature.  Faith that in the end there is a part of our souls that shine with compassion and love and will make strides toward peace and happiness.  Maybe it is faith in friends or family.  Maybe it is faith that the sun will rise or tomorrow will come.   Maybe it is faith in yourself that you are up to the challenges that arise and can overcome and live fully.

I don’t know specifically what faith is being talked about but I know that faith is essential.  (I know someone who is all about hope also believes faith is important!  Who would have guessed!  🙂 )  I’m not sure  but it seems to me that if we only believe in things we can see or touch or that have been ‘fact-checked” that we will not fully realize our potential.  How do we take those jumps of intuition, creativity or genius if we don’t sometimes just take a leap of faith.   How do we get through the darkest days if we don’t have faith that somehow we will be all right.   Having faith in something intangible allows us to achieve greatness.   I am not sure a person can live a full life without faith in something even if it is just that they will get through the day.

As the hustle and bustle of holidays and our everyday life surrounds you, stop.   Take a few minutes and think about what you hold dear.  Don’t worry if other people scoff at where you choose to put your faith.  It is your soul that chooses what is right for you.   In what do you have faith?


It is about pain and loss of hope – not selfishness

I’ve been reading through many of the comment posts on articles regarding Robin William’s death.  Most of the comments are supportive and understanding but as whenever the possibility of suicide is mentioned; there are also the cruel comments.  Comments about selfishness and being self-centered and comments about if the person had just practiced their faith in God more than everything would have been fine. Those type of comments discourage others from seeking help or hanging in there the extra moments they might need to regroup and go on.  It is just another message to someone suffering from depression or who is in such pain can read and say “yep – there is something so wrong with me – I can’t do this anymore.”

I know there are always those trolling comments but to read these are so disheartening.  Generally – people do not want to die – even those who take their own lives.  People want to not be in pain.  I believe, that when someone commits suicide there is a moment, a moment when pain is so great and hope so missing that there really doesn’t seem like there are any other options.  Even if you know intellectually that you have people in your life that love you and will deeply feel  your loss that your emotions just don’t feel it.  Suicide is not about weakness.  It is about being strong for so very long and having a moment when it is too much.

If you are someone who would lean toward the “I just don’t understand suicide – It is so selfish” belief.  I encourage you to take a step back and feel gratitude that you have never been in that moment.  Feel grateful that you have never felt such pain, loneliness or loss of hope that getting through to the next moment feels insurmountable.  Learn about depression.  Learn that it is not just about being sad or having a bad day.  Share the information you learn and be available to those who may need the support.

If you are someone in that pain  – please hang on.  Sometimes just getting to the next moment doesn’t make everything magically better but sometimes just enough hope comes back that you can keep going and even get the help you need.  If you are this person contemplating suicide, consider letting your “everything is OK” facade down and ask someone to help you.


Mother’s Day – Not so Much My Favorite Day.

Happy Mother’s Day!  We all will hear this repeatedly today (and have likely heard it non stop for the past week.)  I honor all the mothers out there.  There will never be anyone else in your life like your mother – something your children may not even understand till they are old and experienced in life.  I like that we take a day to say “Hey – you should always remember this but make a special effort to tell mom she is awesome because you probably usually forget.”   I love that we have a Mother’s Day.   I honor mothers in whatever form they take.  Mother’s Day also is my least favorite day of the year.

Yep,  that is what I said.  For all the I am on board with Mother’s Day I hate today.  I am not a mother and I no longer have a mother with me on earth so the day becomes awkward at best.  I am doubtful I am the only one who feels this way.  Before my mother died I always had a purpose on Mother’s Day because even if my mom and I had shaky relations the rest of the year on Mother’s Day she could hear my explain how much I loved her, how much I appreciated her and how I wouldn’t trade her for any other mom in the universe.  Now that she is gone – I get a day where I’m reminded over and over again that she isn’t physically with me any longer.  Now to the other part.

It is a weird phenomenon on this day where if you do not have children you are not quite a real woman – especially if you are over thirty.  It is a day that’s inadvertent side effect is to put down all non mothers as less than.  The thing is generally most woman have their own journey with becoming or not becoming a mother.  A woman may be struggling with infertility or waiting for an adoption or praying with all their being to be mother and it may just not be happening.   A woman may choose not to be mother for all  sorts of reasons. (Side note: I have been told multiple times – yes multiple times – that only selfish women choose not have children.  I don’t know any way that would not be construed as insulting .  Every time someone asked they are generally people who are kind and that I liked.  Weird.  It is almost like it is OK to be insulting to figure out what is wrong with me that I don’t have children.   Just keep in mind there are many reasons people choose not to have children and very often selfishness is not one of them and if it is – yay for knowing themselves well enough to make healthy decisions!)

Today a childless  woman gets to have the constant reminder that they are different from other women.    A woman may have lost children or miscarried or chosen adoption or may have just not had a path that led to motherhood. I’m guess for a lot of these wom  Any other day a person may be confident in their choice to not be a mother.  Any other day a person may cope with their loss or grief in a personal way but not on Mother’s Day where they will be reminded again and again that they are not a mother.

On this day when we honor all mothers – do honor and appreciate them.  Maybe keep in mind that this isn’t always a joyful day for everyone.  Keep in mind that people mother in many ways – not just with their biological children and sometimes-they go unnoticed most of all because they aren’t a mainstream mother.  We have the day because mothers do so very much and are so very under appreciated.  Remember to honor all mothers on the their journeys.    Honor your own mother, honor the new mothers who are just starting, honor the mothers who have been in the game awhile now.  Honor the mothers who are driving their children to every single event and fundraising and working in their child’s classroom.  Honor the mothers who are there for their children throughout their lifestyle and in their child’s corner like only a mother can.


Gratitude and Worth


Honor the mothers who feel inadequate or have struggled with motherhood.  Honor the mothers whose children are unable to show their appreciation. Honor the mothers with no children.  Honor the mothers who have lost children through miscarriage or death.  Honor the mothers who are step and foster mothers.  Honor the mothers who are unconventional and mother those who aren’t her own emotionally or spiritually.

Please honor mothers today while keeping in mind today isn’t joyful for everyone.  I also will honor mothers today and at the same time try to bear with grace each time someone asks me if I am a mother today and I will  just say thank-you each time someone wishes me Happy Mother’s Day.

Thank you all mothers in whatever form you take and Happy Mother’s Day!!!!

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