Book Review, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Book Review: Sowing My Quaker Oats by Armin L. Saeger Jr., MSW

As a social worker myself, I always wonder what leads an individual to become a social worker.  Armin L. Saeger, Jr. was raised during difficult times and faced challenges of the Great Depression and World War II. As an 18-year-old, he registered as a Conscientious Objector (CO) during the war for religious reasons; he was a Quaker who held beliefs and practices of non-violence. Armin entered the Civilian Public Service (CPS) and was stationed around the U.S providing service in Oregon, New York and Tennessee; he volunteered for human guinea pig assignments as well. He was actually discharged a year after the war ended in 1946. As a member of the CPS, he was ineligible for medical insurance, benefits, pay or access to the GI Bill after the war because of his CO status.

It amazed me to read about the medical system back in the early 1930’s when Armin, as a little boy, went for surgery. His parents were not allowed to be with him before, during or after the surgery and visits were restricted. Imagine being age five and alone in hospital for a month with few family interactions, scared and lonely. Now fast-forward three years to age eight and imagine the same thing, except it was for a different surgery. It seems wrong, and I am glad the medical system has changed in this regard.

This all shapes the man Armin became later in life, including his involvement in Indiana’s Civil Rights protests and seeing Jim Crow laws change. He began university, majored in Religion and married. While obtaining his Master of Social Work degree, he worked as the director of the Kickapoo Friends Center for the Friends Indian Committee. He became a medical social worker, a clinical social worker for the U.S. Public Health Service at Tahlequah Indian Hospital and was involved with grassroots efforts and community organization between the Cherokees and the hospital. Armin then became the Director of the Indian Rights Association, a therapist at the Tulsa Psychiatric Center and began training in Bioenergetic Analysis, eventually establishing a private practice as a psychotherapist.

Armin learned much along the way and shared memories of interactions with clients. This is how social workers learn from one another. He described a rich and rewarding professional career. At the same time, he shared descriptions and memories of his personal life, which included speaking at a church right after Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed. He grew through turbulent and trying times: the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and Civil Rights, all of which affected him, even though he was non-violent and held religious beliefs that did not agree with the many wars or the forced draft.

The book depicts an individual willing to stand up for what he believed, a man of conviction, a social worker that another can learn from. Armin had his insecurities, his own experiences with anxiety and depression, and his writing allows the reader to enter his world and see him as human.

This book is a mixture of American history that cannot be learned from a regular history textbook, as it depicts an individual’s memories and an individual’s journey into the field of social work; it’s a good mixture. It is definitely a book worth reading!

  Armin at 81

Sowing My Quaker Oats, by Armin L. Saeger, Jr., is available as both a paperback or Kindle e-book on Amazon. This week only, February 21-25, 2014, the e-book is available at no cost. Remember, you do not need a Kindle reader to enjoy e-books. Free downloadable Kindle reading apps are available for any computer or smart device on the Amazon website.

By Victoria Brewster, MSW


15 Things I Wish I’d Known About Grief

After a year of grief, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve also made some mistakes along the way. Today, I jotted down 15 things I wish I’d known about grief when I started my own process.

I pass this onto anyone on the journey.

1. You will feel like the world has ended. I promise, it hasn’t. Life will go on, slowly. A new normal will come, slowly.

2. No matter how bad a day feels, it is only a day.  When you go to sleep crying, you will wake up to a new day.

3. Grief comes in waves. You might be okay one hour, not okay the next. Okay one day, not okay the next day. Okay one month, not okay the next. Learn to go with the flow of what your heart and mind are feeling.

4. It’s okay to cry. Do it often. But it’s okay to laugh, too. Don’t feel guilty for feeling positive emotions even when dealing with loss.

5. Take care of yourself, even if you don’t feel like it. Eat healthily. Work out. Do the things you love. Remember that you are still living.

6. Don’t shut people out. Don’t cut yourself off from relationships. You will hurt yourself and others.

7. No one will respond perfectly to your grief. People–even people you love–will let you down. Friends you thought would be there won’t be there, and people you hardly know will reach out. Be prepared to give others grace. Be prepared to work through hurt and forgiveness at others’ reactions.

8. God will be there for you perfectly. He will never, ever let you down. He will let you scream, cry, and question. Throw all your emotions at Him. He is near to the brokenhearted.

9. Take time to truly remember the person you lost. Write about him or her, go back to all your memories with them, truly soak in all the good times you had with that person. It will help.

10. Facing the grief is better than running. Don’t hide from the pain. If you do, it will fester and grow and consume you.

11. You will ask “Why?” more times than you thought possible, but you may never get an answer. What helps is asking, “How? How can I live life more fully to honor my loved one? How can I love better, how can I embrace others, how can I change and grow because of this?” 

12. You will try to escape grief by getting busy, busy, busy. You will think that if you don’t think about it, it’ll just go away. This isn’t really true. Take time to process and heal.

13. Liquor, sex, drugs, hobbies, work, relationships, etc., will not take the pain away. If you are using anything to try and numb the pain, it will make things worse in the long run. Seek help if you’re dealing with the sorrow in unhealthy ways.

14. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to need people. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.

15. Grief can be beautiful and deep and profound. Don’t be afraid of it. Walk alongside it. You may be surprised at what grief can teach you.

Written by Teryn O’Brien- Guest Blogger

*The original post can be found at: It is reposted here with permission from the author.