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I love squirrels, I love this picture, and I love when squirrels initiate photoshoots. Unfortunately, this picture is my least favorite in the NbN collection because of the memories associated with it. In my blog post ISOLATE, I discussed how I finally ended my long-term relationship with my ex. When this picture was taken, I was in Charlotte because I accompanied him for what I thought was a business play, but it was really a dummy mission.

I spent two days in Charlotte miserable, annoyed, and sad. I was miserable because I realized I came on a dummy mission and there was no way for me to get out of it. I was annoyed with myself because I felt like this trip was a dummy mission from the start, but I didn’t listen to my gut. I was sad because I met a sweet lady who poured her heart out to me about her life and everything she was going through, and there was nothing I could do about it.

As a clinical social worker, I have to be non-judgmental and sympathetic to clients. While listening to clients talking about their life stressors, sometimes I’d feel defeated, hopeless, sad, and worthless. I attributed those feelings to me needing to grow more in my profession, but after talking to the lady in Charlotte, I realized I’m an empath. Learning I’m an empath was an amazing self-discovery because it helped me understand why I would sometimes have difficulty interacting with clients in professional settings.

This discovery also taught me to reevaluate my personal boundaries. Depending on the setting, I won’t tell people I’m a licensed clinical social worker. Once I explain what my profession entails, a common response is a person tries to squeeze in an impromptu therapy session. I only like being in “clinician mode” when I’m getting paid. Also, when I’m in a chill setting, the last thing I’m tryna do is help someone uncover repressed traumas or learn how to advocate for themselves, and I'm definitely not tryna feel someone else's emotions.

When this picture was taken, I was walking around downtown Charlotte with a few people. I was hot, annoyed, and ready to go home. I was so annoyed with everything going on, I didn’t even get excited when I saw the squirrel. I think my nonchalant response to his presence offended the squirrel. This little guy ran, flipped, jumped, and posed in front of me for about 5 minutes.

After I snapped a few shots, I realized this little guy was there to take my mind off of what had upset me. So, when I noticed my new friend was doing all he could to improve my mood, I was reminded to embrace love from animals. My mood improved, too, and I was able to reframe my thinking so I could finish that dummy mission and go home.

Life Lesson:

· Embrace love from animals.

How I Apply it to My Life:

· When an animal tries to get my attention or show me affection, I accept it wholeheartedly.


· Kaleb Simmonds – Lion King Beatbox

SLIDESHOW: Squirrels in Charlotte that day and squirrels who’ve shown me affection in the past.


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