Real Friends

As many of you already know, I have a Facebook page but I don’t use Facebook much because I have my blog set up to update onto my Facebook page every time I write a new post. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook as a way to keep in touch with family and/or friends who are out-of-town. But I don’t use Facebook to replace real, live, relationships with my family/friends.

I have a whopping total of 37 “friends” on Facebook and I like it that way. Why? Because my friends and/or family on Facebook are the same people I consider my friends and/or family in real life. I also have some friends and/or family in real life who don’t even use Facebook if you can imagine that!

I had to laugh the other day when chatting with my daughter, Shantel, and she told me she has something like 286 plus “friends” on Facebook! I said “OMG, I don’t think I even know 286 plus people so how in the world did you make friends with that many people?” Shantel laughed and said “oh mom, were not really all real friends like you are with your friends, it just looks good to show a lot of “friends” on your Facebook page.” I guess I must be missing something here, which wouldn’t be the first time, but, that just doesn’t compute in my giant, living in the real world, brain!

I also had to laugh when more than once over the past couple weeks I saw different posts on Facebook that showed a little questionnaire that said “I’m cleaning up my friends on Facebook let me know if you want to stay” or something to that effect… The first thought that came to my mind when I saw that was if you have to ask me if I want to stay friends with you, than apparently we weren’t really friends to begin with… I couldn’t imagine going up to one of my real friends, in person, and asking them if they wanted to stay on my friends list, could you? But, I guess that’s what happens when we as a society turn to “virtual friends” vrs putting in the time and energy it takes to make, nurture, and sustain real live friendships. And, yes, I believe it does take some effort to sustain real friendships, but it shouldn’t ever be too much work. You just need to not worry about who contacted who last and just send that card, email, text, or do a Skype if you are thinking about your friend. Why should it matter who contacted who last? You also need to not be a jealous friend but know that your friend can have other friends besides you without jeopardizing your special bond. I have that kind of special relationship with my real live friends, and I wouldn’t trade them for 1,000 people on Facebook who I may or may not even really know…but that’s just me. What are your thoughts?

Next: My next post will be number 100!!! How About You Pick A Topic & I’ll Write About It?


Oh don’t you just love to laugh? I’m talking about the real deep down in your belly kind of laughing. And, don’t you just love being around people who have that kind of throw your head back and laugh until you cry laughter that seems to be contagious? I love, love, love, to laugh like that and I have two very special friends, frissy (aka Robin), and Megs, who make me laugh like that whenever I am with them, which is never often enough. These two beautiful women can create fun in almost any situation. They love life to the fullest and when I’m with them it’s like stepping into another world. A world full of joyous laughter.

My frissy has been here in her beautiful home in Scottsdale for the past few weeks, and I have had several occasions to get together with her, Megs, and several other mutual friends. OMG what fun we’ve had! This past Saturday night we all attended a 75th birthday party for a mutual friend of ours and at one point during the party, Frissy and Megs wandered into a sitting room and were chatting away when I heard that beautiful laughter that they both have. So naturally I found my way into the room to join them. Before long the room we were in became the life of the party as one by one others came in to see what the laughter was all about then decided to stay and bask in the “ephodorians” (you might remember that word from one of my previous posts. See New York City post) that filled the room. The room became a sea of smiling faces and deep, deep, belly laughter. That’s the kind of joy my two special friends, Frissy, and Megs, bring to me, and anyone else, who spends any amount of time around them. So, I want to dedicate this post to them, and thank them both for being my friends. For the love, joy, and most importantly the laughter we’ve shared.

Frissy leaves to go back to “her” New York city tomorrow. I’m already feeling sad to know she will be so far away again. But we do stay in constant contact and as her Bro (aka, my husband, Bill) says “we can skip” (he meant Skype but who cares…Ha!) In the meantime, I’m already turning my thoughts toward Frissy’s return in January and smiling at the fun we will have again then. My dear friend Megs will be missing Frissy too and we will make plans to spend time together so we keep our ephodorians flowing every chance we get. I love both of these strong, beautiful, women, and I am so blessed to have them, and their laughter, in my life!

Next: Real Friends!

Asking For Help And Helping Others

As I’ve been getting more and more into my therapy sessions and doing the “homework” my therapist instructed me to do, I find myself wondering why it took me so long to get to the point of admitting I needed help sorting out the issues in my life that were having such a negative impact on me over the years. I wonder if it is because I really thought I was handling things fine on my own or was it because I grew up in a house where you just didn’t talk about your problems, especially not to “outsiders” and certainly you would never, ever, consider going to a “so-called expert” as my father would say. No, in our family, when “issues” came up, you just kept going. You pushed through and “got over it”, because no one really wanted to hear about your problems. Probably because everyone was too busy trying to coverup and hide their own vulnerabilities and flaws and God forbid anyone should discover our weaknesses or imperfections…

I think the reason it’s difficult for me to understand why it took me so long to ask for help is because I know I am always first in line to offer my help others. I absolutely find helping others one of the most gratifying things I can do. And, if someone needs my help in any way, I never, ever, see that as a sign of weakness on their part. No, in fact, just the opposite rings true to me. I admire people who can ask for help with ease, and I am honored that they think enough of me to share their needs. However, as much as I find joy in helping others, in the past, I would never ask anyone to help me. Even when someone would offer help for different things, I would simply thank them for offering but let them know I had everything “under control” or so I thought. I am working hard now to get over that kind of thinking. Why? Because I am learning that most people do have a caring nature and want to be helpful if they can. I can’t just assume that others wouldn’t get as much pleasure out of helping someone as I do. Now, that said, I also know there is a difference between asking for help and taking advantage of someones kindness or taking someone for granted. I would never want to do that.

Looking back, I now know not asking for or accepting help from others was so wrong and it makes me sad to think of all the years that were wasted in that mind-set. What I’m learning now is it’s not only OK to ask for and let other’s help you, be that from a family member, friend, or yes, even from an expert… but in fact, asking for help when you need it can be one of the best things you can do to help yourself so you in turn can continue to help others, and after all, isn’t that what life should really be all about?

As I continue to work through my issues I will hold onto the belief that life is a journey and when we know better, we do better, and I’m getting better all the time!

Next: Laughter !

How EMDR Works!

The information I received from my therapist about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and how it works says “in 1987, psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro made the chance observation that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts, under certain conditions. No one knows how any form of psychotherapy works neurobiologically or in the brain. But it has been found that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes “frozen in time,” and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and they way they relate to other people.

EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.”

Let me just say here that when I first heard about this treatment, I was not sure this was going to work for me. I couldn’t understand how putting a headset on and holding a small stimulator in each hand could possibly help me with the trauma I had experienced. But, I was open to anything because I knew I couldn’t go on the way I was. I was a mess to say the least. I couldn’t sleep at night without a bright light on (so if I woke up I could quickly scan the room to make sure there were no scorpions around) and even with that, I wasn’t really getting much sleep at all. If I saw a scorpion during the day, I would spray it until it was dead and get rid of it, but I just couldn’t get my emotions settled down again after that, sometimes for days. I knew I had to do something not only for my own well being, but I also didn’t want to put all that on my family and friends. So I sought help with the open mind of trying whatever it took to help me understand and deal with what was happening to me.

My therapist explained the whole EMDR process to me on the first visit, then I came back to have the actual treatment done. All I can say is it was THE most amazing thing I ever experienced. I was sitting in a very relaxing overstuffed chair and the room was dimly lit. My therapist gave me a headset to put on over my ears and I held a small stimulator in each hand. Then, my therapist had me close my eyes (I had to keep my eyes closed throughout the entire treatment session ) and do deep breathing exercises that she talked me through. I never was asleep, but I did become very, very, relaxed. Then, I was asked to bring up the image of the scorpion in my mind all the while keeping my eyes closed. My therapist began to talk to me about what the scorpion looked like to me and my heart started to beat faster as I began to describe what I was seeing. As I spoke my therapist stated the EMDR machine which would beep in one ear and then the other while I would feel the stimulators in my hand one and then the other. I immediately began to sob and cry and I was shaking so hard I could hardly speak. All the while my therapist would talk to me and tell me I was fine, and that I could coexist with these creatures around me as long as I knew how to deal with them.

During the treatment session, my therapist facilitated the directional movement of my eyes with the controlled beeps I would hear in each ear and by the stimulators I held in each hand. This would continue until the memory became less disturbing and was associated with positive thoughts and beliefs about myself. For example, my therapist reminded me I was strong enough to handle whatever I needed to do to stay safe within my environment and reminded me how much I love my new home and how it was going to be my safe place etc. My first treatment session lasted for about 90 minutes and at the beginning my stress level was a 10 on a scale of 1-10 but at the end of the treatment session my stress level was about 3-4. This was with just one treatment session.

In addition to the first session at the office, I was given some things I need to do at home before my next office visit when we will discuss if I need another EMDR treatment or if we can begin counseling sessions. What I know for sure as of this writing is I haven’t seen another scorpion since my first treatment so I don’t know how I will react if/when I do, but I am happy to say, as of Monday night, I have been able to turn off the bright light and/or lamp in my room (something I haven’t been able to do since this all started in April) and now I sleep with only a very small, night-light on. That in and of itself is worth the treatment for me as it is a huge improvement for me for right now. I am looking forward to my continued work with my therapist, and my continued success.

Next: Asking For Help & Helping Others

EMDR Therapy

In my last post I told you I was seeking therapy to help me work through what I thought started out as my fear of scorpions that may have turned into a full-blown scorpion phobia. I promised to give you an update as soon as I could. It’s been a while since my last post because what I thought was going to be a simple fix turned out to be so much more. I will share all that with you but, first, I want you to know why I even want to share my personal issues here at all.

When I started my blog my goal was to share things from my life that I felt might help someone else who might be dealing with similar issues. My bi-line on my blog clearly states my blog is about “Family life..with a unique perspective of motherhood”. So what does that mean? Well, to me, it means I will share honestly with my readers, everything I know to be true from the events of my life because I wish I would have had someone being honest with me as I was growing up, as a young adult, and as I became a mother. Life isn’t always easy and I know we all have our own crosses to carry in this life and my struggles are no more or less than anyone else’s, but I am more willing to talk about my issues in the hopes I can help even one other person who might be dealing with big life issues like the betrayal and broken trust of a loved one, which for me, that lesson came directly at the hands of my father. Growing up, I never knew that sometimes father’s aren’t always your hero, and mothers can live in denial… I wish there would have been someone sharing with me how one moves past all that and what can happen to you if you don’t deal with the impacts that kind of hurt and grief brings. Even though I forgave my father, and I did, I never sought the help I should have to help me put me back together as a healthy, whole, person. I went through the motions, and even took care of those who hurt me, but I was not skilled enough to patch up all the holes the emotional stress caused me and had no idea how the walls I put up could come crashing down around me.

Turns out, as I went merrily along my way in life, I thought I had all the emotional hurts packed neatly away and I would never be haunted by them again. Then, we moved to this beautiful little dream house, and I found out we had scorpions, not unlike thousands of other people who live in the beautiful Arizona desert. But, for me, what should have been a “healthy” respectful fear of the scorpions, quickly turned into Traumatic Stress as diagnosed by my Therapist.

Well now, how did a fear of scorpions turn into traumatic stress? Turns out, all the stress I have been packing neatly away all these years from growing up in a dysfunctional family, Shantel losing her eyes to cancer, my Katie not stepping up to be a real mother to Shantel, my father hurting Shantel which in turn tore our entire family apart, my mother’s denial, my brother’s deaths and not having them in my life which has direct ties back to the hurt my father caused… and all the other things I discussed in my past blog posts, all these things I saw as evils in my life… then, one day, after we moved into this new home, I saw a scorpion, and suddenly I had a break from reality as that scorpion represented every EVIL I have ever dealt with in my life or thought I dealt with. I am finding out the human brain will shut down what it cannot process or it will put the excess stressful information into a part of the brain where it gets locked in and causes traumatic stress until that information is unlocked through psychotherapy followed by intensive counseling.

I found a wonderful Therapist, who not only is a professional counselor, but also a EMDR Trauma Clinician Level II. EMDR is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a powerful method of psychotherapy that has helped an estimated two million people of all ages relieve many types of psychological distress.

Next Post: How EMDR Works!

I Don’t Want To Do This Anymore

For those of you who follow my blog, by now you all know we bought a new little dream home in April and I was so happy and filled with joy until I found out it has scorpions. I also found out I am terrified of scorpions. Now, when I say terrified, I really mean TERRIFIED!! I have never in my entire life had anything affect me in this way. I’ve lived in the beautiful Arizona desert all my life and have never, ever, even seen a scorpion in our around any home I ever lived in, until now.

I have tried everything I know to deal with this debilitating fear. We have a professional pest control company spray our home every month, we bought special sprays, crystals, powers etc. on our  own to fight of these horrible things. We’ve put down Rhino Sticky Tape, Real Kill Glue Boards all of which help, but still every time I think they are gone I find another one somewhere and the terror begins again. Then, just to set me right over what is left of the little ledge I have been standing on, and diminish what little sanity I had left to cling too… the other day, I find a huge wolf spider out in the garage. My dad used to  tell me they won’t hurt you, but I looked them up and they do pack a powerful, painful, bite of which I just don’t ever want to experience. Nor do I ever want to be stung by a scorpion or even have one anywhere near me or my family, EVER…

I hate to admit defeat, but nothing we have tried has helped reduce my stress or fears. I can’t sleep without a light on (if I sleep at all) my hair is shedding due to the stress and I have a rash all over my torso that I now have to have a dermatologist treat because it keeps coming back as soon as I finish the medication the doctors gave me to treat it…

I have come to realize that I don’t want to do this any more. I can no longer live in this constant state of trauma and debilitating fear which I now know has moved way beyond fear and developed into a full-blown phobia and I believe the first step in getting cured is to admit you have a problem and ask for help. I’ve done that now and I have enlisted the help of a licensed professional who deals with trauma and phobia’s to help me deal with this before I go over the deep end never to return again my dear friends.

I will keep you posted of my progress as I learn what I need to do to cope with all this. Just please hold good thoughts that part of my therapy will NOT include touching or holding any scorpions so I learn how to “move’ past my “fear’…if that were to happen to me, all I can say is it was nice knowing all of you and I will see you on the other side…

Stay Tuned!

Social Security

When Shantel turned eighteen she applied for her Social Security Disability benefits as she is entitled to receive due to her being totally blind. After going through mountains of paperwork where she had to supply all the official medical documentation to “prove” she really is blind (she had both eyes removed when she was two due to cancer) and months of waiting, Shantel was finally approved to begin receiving a small monthly social security check to help her with living expenses. But, that wasn’t the end of the ordeal. No, a few months after she started receiving her monthly checks, she received a letter from the Social Security Administration Office saying she needed to contact them immediately because they had received information indicating her condition had improved. We were shocked to say the least. How does one grow back eyes that had been removed? But, if you don’t do what they say, when they say it, they simply inform you that they are stopping your checks.

Shantel contacted the Social Security office and was told she would need to resubmit all her medical records again. That created a lot of work for me because I have all her original records from the time she had her eyes removed, when she was two, until she turned eighteen. So I then had to go and have copies made all over again. What a PAIN! But, I did it, and we got everything sent in on time, and her checks did continue to arrive. However, that still was not the end of the ordeal…, No, a few weeks later Shantel receives a letter saying she needed to send in proof of her banking accounts because they are seeing where she is transferring money every month from the bank account she told them about into another bank account number and they need to know why she is transferring money and they also need to know that she reported all bank accounts she has to them.

What the Social Security Administration failed to realize, and would have known immediately if they had bothered to even read the mountains of paperwork they forced us to complete when Shantel applied to receive her disability benefits, is that Shantel reported that she pays $400 per month for room and board which was a requirement in order for her to even receive benefits to begin with, and she has to prove she does pay this every month. So, to cut down on paper, and so she doesn’t have to go to the bank to get the money out every month to pay her room and board…she  simply transfers the $400 from her bank account into our bank account and it’s all done on-line. Shantel called to let her case worker know this, but that wasn’t good enough for them. No, we had to pull both Shantel’s bank records and our bank records and explain everything to them in writing. All we can hope for now, is that someone will actually read the letter and review the bank records we sent them…stay tuned.

What I can’t understand in all of this is, Shantel was told if she didn’t live at home she would receive more money every month, but it still wouldn’t be enough for her to live out on her own without our help. They told her since she lives with us she will receive a reduced payment but she has to pay for her own room and board… So I said to them “you mean if we put her out, or she was homeless, she would receive more money but still not enough to have her own place” Their answer to my question was YES! Am I missing something or does this make sense to anyone reading this? All I can say at this point is…who’s running this insane asylum?

I also have to ask why isn’t the Social Security Administration out capturing the people who are really trying to fraud them instead of constantly hounding Shantel, and people who are legitimate, who are just trying to do things the right way?

Next: I don’t want to do this anymore!

FBC vrs VocRehab

I have been putting off this post because I have been so frustrated with the whole ordeal that I didn’t want to even think about it any more let alone write about it. I just can’t believe how crazy things can get when you have a child with special needs and they are trying to better themselves by going to college and earn the degree they need to have the career they want and live out their life’s dream…

Being the mother of a blind child, my daughter, Shantel, I’ve had my share of dealing with schools that were ill prepared to educate my child. I’ve had to negotiate and navigate my way through the schools, the school districts, and the laws governing the rights of people with disabilities. As if it wasn’t hard enough to deal with the challenges I faced just trying to make sure my child had everything she needed to compete with her sighted peers, in learning the in’s and out’s of our educational institutions, and government programs designed to “help” those with disabilities become independent, contributing members of society, the “resources” made available to us, left me less than impressed to say the least.

I’ve had the High School and District “experts” tell me my child could stay in High School until she was twenty-one years old if that was how long it took for her to earn her diploma, to which I was quick to point out to them that if my child had a learning disability I would be fine with her staying in High School that long, but since she doesn’t, she wasn’t going to stay one minute longer than her sighted  peers just because the school and/or the district didn’t want to do their jobs. It would be an understatement to say I wasn’t the person they wanted to deal with one minute longer than they had to either.

Now, fast forward through High School. Shantel is now over 18 and I can no longer advocate for her. She is now in college where She is learning how to negotiate and navigate her own way through the in’s and out’s of all the institutions and government agencies to get what she needs to earn her degree.

Shantel is supposed to be supported by Vocational Rehab (VocRehab), which is a government agency that helps people with disabilities get their education so they get good jobs and don’t have to depend on the “system” all their lives for support. VocRehab pays the tuition for their clients and in return, when their clients get good jobs/careers, they agree to do work for VocRehab for a predetermined amount of time to pay back what they were given. All sounds simple and good right?

Shantel received a call from the Foundation For Blind Children, a non-profit organization, (FBC) letting her know they would be interceding on her behalf between her college and VocRehab in regards to making sure her tuition, books, etc. were paid for in a timely manner so she wouldn’t be dropped from classes due to non-payment. That happened last semester and Shantel had to go around to all her Professors asking if she could remain in their classes until the matter could be resolved between VocRehab and the college. All her Professors agreed to let Shantel remain in their classes and the matter was eventually resolved. But, if her Professors hadn’t agreed, Shantel could have spent most of the semester in her classes and not have earned any credits and would have had to take all the classes over! Apparently, some VocRehab client accounts were even turned over to collection agencies!!!

Apparently, VocRehab can’t seem to get their act together enough to get tuition, books etc.  payments into the colleges in a timely manner for their clients, so FBC is stepping in to manage VocRehab’s financial responsibilities. In addition, FBC will be responsible for ensuring all of VocRehabs clients have all the mobility, IT and skill set support they need to be successful as they earn their degrees.

While I am happy FBC agreed to step in to help make sure Shantel will have everything she needs and all money due will be paid on time to her college, I also have to say if this sort of thing happened when I was working in my job in Corporate America…I wouldn’t have been around long enough for my boss to ask someone else to come and babysit my job, I  would be looking for a new job or standing in the unemployment line!

In my opinion, VocRehab is an embarrassment to the clients they are supposed to be helping and what a waste of government dollars in keeping them in business…!

Next: Social Security – The saga continues!

Wheeling It: Tales From a Nomadic Life

On the Road Since 2010, Traveling Across USA & Europe With 12 Paws

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