Trash, Treasure, Donation

That is always the BIG question when I go to clean my mom’s “space” at the Care Center where she lives. I call it a “space” because unless you have the money for a private room, and there are only a few private rooms available, residents share rooms…and in reality the room space is just big enough for a hospital size bed, a hospital size closet, and a hospital three drawer bed side table. I actually got creative, and requested my mom’s bed be turned so the side of the bed is against the wall which allows room for a three shelf metal TV stand at the end of her bed that holds her TV, and any “extras”, she needs readily available to her, like bottles of water I bring up so she always has water…

Twice a year I remind my mom that “we” need to “clean out her space”. She always agrees but is also VERY reluctant to let me just get in there and get rid of things that “I” think” need to go…She always wants to be there when I start cleaning out her drawers, closet, or bed side table, saying “I don’t want you to throw away things that I really need. So, I always honor her request and go in with high expectations of getting rid of most of the “stuff” like seasonal art/craft things the residents make that I know she will remake in the new season…

Cleaning out my mom’s space may sound easy, and it should be…BUT…I have come to realize over the past four years that my mom has lived at the Care Center, that little things I look at and consider “throw away things”…sometimes have deep emotional meaning to my mom… For example: My mom has a small vase of green, silk, carnations, sitting on her TV stand that have been there for over two years…I was ready to get rid of them when she stopped me, dead in my tracks, saying “No, don’t ever get rid of those flowers…, those are the last flowers that Stephen (her youngest son, and my youngest brother) gave me before he died a year ago last October. Of course, those flowers will sit in their place of honor on my mom’s TV stand for as long as my mother lives…

But, still, there were many, many, things that we could get rid of, except every thing I held up to my mom and asked if we could throw this or that away or donate it …she almost always said…”well I better keep that because you never know when I’ll need it again…things like empty plastic containers she takes her pills from, little plastic cups they give her for water to swallow her pills… let’s just say there were many, many, many , of them tucked away in her drawers etc…

Thankfully for me, the day I was there to “clean mom’s space” was one of her shower days…so just as I got started really getting into the “deep clean”…mom’s aid came to take her to have her shower…so I sifted through the treasures that make up my mom’s life now, and didn’t throw away  or donate ANYTHING questionable without her permission after she returned to her room from her shower…but still, I ended up removing two large yard leaf bags of trash and donations from mom’s room… Things like this handy little tool which is great for picking up things off the floor…IF you are still able to squeeze the handle that allows you to grab the object…Mom can’t do that:

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Or this witch hat from Halloween two years past…I think we can store this mom…thankfully, she agreed.

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Well, now,… I have no complaints about anyone having a bag to carry their wine in…except this is not something my mom will be taking to the grocery store anytime soon…:)

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And, this little treasure, has someone’s name inside it, someone who already passed, and it is at least four sizes larger than my mom needs…I think we can donate that right?

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These are but a few of the many, many, various objects mom had tucked away. The bunny was from three years ago from a church group that came to visit…I’m sure she will get another bunny this Easter, and I can donate this one to Maggie’s Place where my daughter, Shantel and I volunteer.

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This overnight bag is what both my mom and dad used whenever they had to go to the hospital…this has been sitting in my mom’s closet for over four years…she told me I can take it…but made me promise her I would always keep it,  because it is the last thing both she and my father shared…of course,  I agreed to keep it for her, and it is now housed in my garage with our other suitcases…

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I also found this new bed blanket in the back of mom’s closet. Mom can’t remember where it came from, or why she kept it…but I was able to convince her that she has enough blankets on her bed so we could donate it to Maggie’s Place…

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I also cleaned out five pairs of slippers (mom never wears slippers because she says they won’t stay on her feet) three pair of lace up shoes, and one and one half pairs of strap on sandles…where did the 1/2 sandal come from you might ask…? Well, it was attached to the artificial leg that belonged to my mom’s roommate, and my dear friend, Reha, who passed away this past year…OMG mom, I gasped!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH REHA’S LEG IN YOUR CLOSET? Mom looked at me like I had two heads and said…”I thought her family might want it back but they haven’t come back to get it”…I said, ” well, I don’t think they are going to need it for anything and we need to let the duty nurse know you have this right away” which I did…The duty nurse thought I was kidding her when I told her my mom has an artificial leg, that belonged to Reha, in her closet… but she did come to take a look and almost passed out when she saw I wasn’t kidding…she just wrapped the leg in a towel and carried it down the hall..I never saw the leg again and I never asked what she did with it…some things are better off left alone…right?

All my mom could say after the nurse took Reha’s artificial leg away was…”will you blow dry my hair now”? I did fix mom’s hair and all was right again in “her world”…

Keep me in your prayers and stay tuned!

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Maggie’s Place

My daughter, Shantel, and I attended our training session at Maggie’s place this afternoon and accepted our official volunteer schedule for Fridays from 10:00 a.m. -…? We are so excited about getting started because we both truly believe this is something we have been “called” to do…

What can I say about Maggie’s Place..? Well, Maggie’s Place has three houses throughout the Maricopa County, and one in Ohio. Shantel and I will be providing our services at the Elizabeth House, located in Tempe Arizona. The Elizabeth House, is so named after Saint Elizabeth, whose child leaped for joy in her womb, when she welcomed the Virgin Mary, when she came to tell her she was with child with the baby Jesus… Elizabeth House can accommodate up to six pregnant women until they deliver their babies. Once the women deliver their babies, they can continue to live at Elizabeth House with their babies (free of charge) until their baby is six months old.

While the pregnant women are at Elizabeth House, awaiting the delivery of their babies…,they receive counseling on how to parent their children, and/or counseling on adoption services if they choose to place their child up for adoption.

Elizabeth House is officially considered a House of Hospitably, and not a Shelter. It is of the utmost importance that the mother’s- -to- be, do not feel like they are only being provided a “roof over their heads” for a moment in cricis…instead, while the mother’s- to- be- are at Maggie’s Place, Elizabeth House, they are provided every service available to help them get their GED if needed, find employment, and/or housing, learn parenting skills if they are going to parent their babies, and/or receive counseling about placing their babies up for adoption if they choose to give the gift of life to couples who are seeking adoption.

Today, during our official training session, Shantel and I learned what the house rules are for the women living at Elizabeth House. For example: Everyone, both mother’s to-be, and the four full-time staff members who live there are required to be up, dressed, beds made, and ready for the day by 9:00 a.m Monday – Saturday. Sunday is the only day of rest and only day when volunteer’s are not allowed in the house. No TV, or other entertainment devices, are allowed between 9:oo a.m 7:00 p.m Monday – Saturday. The only electronic device allowed is the computer in the “community room” which is like a family room, that the mother’s share for school projects or job search activities. There is always a staff member or volunteer member assigned to the community areas to monitor the usage of the computers….

All the mom’s-to-be and/or moms with babies under six months old, and full-time staff members, prepare their own meals everyday except for Tuesday’s which is considered “community night” when everyone in the house, and volunteer’s who want to join, come together to share a meal, that is most often prepared by a volunteer to share with the group…guess what Shantel signed up for…YEP..Chef Shantel answered the “call to duty” and is all set on ready to make her homemade, seven hour pasta sauce, pasta, garlic bread, greens, and homemade pie with homemade whipped topping just as soon as we have the all clear with our finger prints (in a couple of weeks) and are allowed to be alone in the house without a staff member monitoring us…:)

There are soooooooooooooo many opportunities for both Shantel and I to share our talents at Elizabeth House… I received training today on how to answer the phone…which sounds simple, but keep in mind on the other end of the phone might be a young, pregnant, girl, crying and begging for a bed…, I just hope I remember I am to get her name and number and ask her to call back on Tuesday, because beds open up on Wednesday…,or if it is a real emergency,,, I have emergency shelter numbers I am to provide…I just hope I don’t forget and give her my home number and tell her she can come to my house…because that is NOT part of our training agreement…I hope I remember that in the “heat of the moment”…

I just told my husband, Bill/Bro, this evening, that “sometimes you just know you are being called to service…” and I just know this is what I am being called to service to do….Why, Elizabeth’s House even has a small chapel on the lower level that has a tabernacle which houses my precious Jesus in the Holy Eucharistic…and Mass is said in that little chapel ever week…what more could I need to convince me this is the place for me to be…? As the old saying goes…”Here’s your sign…” I don’t need to get hit upside the head…I BELIEVE!

Stay Tuned!

The Big Spill

What a beautiful day for a bike ride, I said to myself, and I agreed. So I got my iPod so I could listen to my tunes, put on my helmet, grabbed my cell phone (just in case) and off I went…

I was riding along listening to something really great, but I can’t remember what now, because about a mile and a half into my ride, I had to swerve to avoid running over a big piece of concrete in the road. However, I over shot my swerving abilities and ended up flat-out on the ground with my bike on top of me…Not a pretty sight my dear friends, not a pretty sight at all!

Thankfully, when I swerved, and fell off my bike, I landed on the inside of my neighborhood CVS Pharmacy parking lot. If I fell to the other side, I would have landed right in the middle of oncoming traffic…and I may not be here to share this bike riding blog post with you…:)

As embarrassing as it was, after the initial shock of realizing I actually fell off my bike, and taking inventory of myself to make sure nothing was broken… just a cut…

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and some road rash…

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I just picked myself up, brushed myself off, got right back on my bike and continued on my way…:) Really, there is nothing else you can do, except laugh all the way home thinking I really earned these Weight Watcher Points the HARD way today!

Stay Tuned!

EMDR – It Works

Back in July of 2012, I entered into therapy for what I thought at the time was a phobia to scorpions. If you follow my blog, you might remember we moved into our beautiful, new home, in Chandler Arizona, in April of 2012, and immediately I came to realize our new home was also home to scorpions. I’ve lived in Arizona all of my 60 years, and I had never seen scorpions in or around any home I ever lived in. Since I never encountered these evil creatures, I had no idea I would be absolutely TERRIFIED of them. A long story made short, I also came to realize my fear/terror was far beyond the reaction other’s expressed when confronted with scorpions. I knew I had to seek help, and help came in the form of my wonderful therapist, Barbara, who just happened to also be a EMDR Trauma Clinician Level II.

Barbara immediately assessed my situation and told me I suffered from a “break with reality” which was causing me to see the scorpions as a much bigger threat to me than they really are. She was right. When I looked at a scorpion back then, I saw Tyrannosaurus Rex, instead of a tiny little creature that it is. And I was not able to see that in reality, it is more afraid of me than I am of it. Not a concept I was readily able to accept back then.

However, after working through intense therapy with Barbara who administrated EMDR as needed, I could feel my anxiety level begin to subside. It didn’t happen over night, no, it started slowly and very gradually. In fact, it came in small, baby steps. The first time I saw a scorpion after receiving EMDR, I was still filled with fear, but I was able to get the scorpion killer spray to spray it dead, then get the long BBQ tongs and take it outside where I smashed it over and over with a long-handled hammer, just to be sure it was really dead, and not just stunned…

I was just thinking to myself yesterday that I haven’t seen any scorpions in or around our house for months…I was finally starting to think we finally got rid of them for good…but, NO…much to my surprise, this very morning, as I was pushing the dust mop through the kitchen, I noticed something move…and right there in front of me was a big fat scorpion…

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BUT, I did not panic as I have in the past…NO, I had moments to make a flight or fight decision because the scorpion was already starting to run towards the refrigerator, where I would not be able to reach it even with the scorpion killer spray, which in turn would have caused me to be anxious all day wondering where it might end up, and of course, I might have a tendency to think it would head straight for my bed as a form of revenge for me killing so many of it’s realitives….But I DID NOT PANIC…I simply, and quickly, killed it with my slipper…my slipper that was still connected to my FOOT people..

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I stomped that evil scorpion like a tent-peg…

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Now, don’t get me wrong…my heart was racing, but not until after the scorpion was dead, and I realized what I had just done with my very own foot…But, I felt such a sense of accomplishment! Now, some might not think this such a BIG deal, and to them I say thank God you never had to confront your biggest fears….but for me, it was a VERY, VERY BIG VICTORY, one I couldn’t have even imagined before I entered into therapy with Barbara, who introduced me to EMDR, which I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt…EMDR really does work, and for that, I will be forever grateful because it brought me to a brand new me, who is now able to confront my biggest fears, and a me, who looks forward to each beautiful, brand new day.

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I continue to work with Barbara knowing each session helps me understand myself better as we pull back the layers of what shaped my life thus far, and work together to mold my life into what I want and deserve it to be.

Stay Tuned!

Hair And Memories

Saturday I took my daughter, Shantel, to South Phoenix, to get her hair done. She has a friend from school that works in a salon there that specializes in African/American hair. Shantel wanted to get a deep conditioning treatment, her ends trimmed, and have her hair flat ironed for her first day of school on Monday. The whole process is VERY lengthy, like 3-4 hours…and the last time I took Shantel there I sat and read a book the entire time.

The process of course begins with a shampoo and application of the deep conditioner.

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Then a plastic cap is placed on the hair and under the hair dryer she goes.

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Out of the hair dryer and into the chair for a comb out.

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Which is followed by a blow out.

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Then on to the sectioning of the hair so the VERY hot iron can be applied to straighten every strand of hair.

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But, the final result is one beautiful, VERY happy Shantel!

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This time, while Shantel was getting her hair done, I decided I would venture out and take some pictures of my old stomping grounds…You, see, I grew up in South Phoenix. In fact, I lived there for almost 30 years!

This is Saint Catherine’s Roman Catholic Church where I attended Mass 6 days a week.

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All good Catholic boys and girls attended Mass everyday before school, and of course, ALWAYS on Sunday. Our parents dropped us off at church every morning, and after Mass, the Nun’s would walk us in a straight line, across the street, to Saint Catherine’s Catholic School (below). The school only had eight rooms for grades 1-8 and we had as many as 52 children in each classroom if you can imagine that!

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This is a picture of the little house we lived in that was just two streets over from our school. All six of us lived in that tiny little house that didn’t seem as small back then.

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Right next door to our little house (below) lived my very best girlfriend, Ellen. I will never forget the time she hurt her leg and had to have it in a cast and she had to be in a wheelchair and we decided we were going to sneak out one night when I was spending the night at her house. I pushed her right down Central Ave at midnight in her wheelchair. I don’t know where we thought we were going…all I remember is it was REALLY hard pushing her in that wheelchair in the dirt because at that time, Central Ave didn’t have sidewalks… Oh, the things you do when you are young, and dumb, and call it fun:)

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This is the Corral laundromat my mother took me to every Saturday morning. After I cleaned the whole house, my mother would drop me off with all the laundry for our entire family of six. I had to wash, dry, and fold all the clothes. When I was done, I would call my mother and she would come pick me up and take me home where I spent the rest of the day ironing all the clothes for our family….yes, that’s how I got the name Cindy, which was short for Cinderella, because I had to do all the work!

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This is the much larger ranch style home we moved to when I was in the sixth grade. I lived there until I got married and moved out, at the tender, young, age of 16. By the way, two weeks after I moved out, my parents bought a brand new washer and dryer:)

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When I got married, my ex-husband and I rented this little two bedroom house located just across the street from Saint Catherine’s Church. The red brick addition was not on the house when we lived there, it was just the tiny little white house you can see part of behind the red brick.

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There was a Kentucky Fried Chicken store right next door to our little house, and when my ex-husband got laid off work in June (we got married in January) and we didn’t have any money and even less food… (I had a little job but only got paid every two weeks) he wouldn’t go ask his parents for help and I for sure wasn’t going to go ask mine…so we had to smell all the chicken being cooked for two days, until I got my little check, knowing we couldn’t have any. All I can say is I guess it’s true what they say about “what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger”…I know my life’s experiences made me strong. What about you?

Stay Tuned

Going Down

Just like a one way elevator, I’m going down one level at a time on my Weight Watcher’s (WW) Program.

A couple posts back, I told you my husband, Bill/Bro, and I joined the On-line Weight Watcher’s Program.

Today was my weigh-in day for tracking my weight loss on my WW Program. I am pleased and proud to announce I had a weight loss of 3.7 lbs AND a total body measurement loss of 6 inches! And, that, my dear friends and family, was enough to put me right back into a pair of my favorite jeans!!! You gotta know I am doing the HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY dance today!

I love the new on-line WW Program because, you don’t have to go to meetings, but you still get motivational messages, and when you input your food intake, the program tracks your food points for you. It also tracks all your exercise points and gives you progress reports on your weight and measurement loss and your exercise challenges.

My husband, Bill/Bro, is on the WW Program with me (we are a team, “team healthy” as we dubbed ourselves) and he had a 2.5 lb weight loss as well. We didn’t take Bill’s measurements last week but have started tracking that for him this week so stay tuned for progress reports on that.

An important note to keep in mind is that Bill/Bro joined the WW Program Friday a week ago and I joined on Saturday a week ago. However, we didn’t actually begin the program until Sunday a week ago. So, in reality, Bill’s/Bro’s 2 .5 lb weight loss is really for only 5 days and my 3.7 lb weight loss was really for only 6 days…That said…all I can say is WATCH OUT BELOW for next week because, Bill/Bro and I are GOING DOWN!:):)

Stay Tuned

Back To Class

My daughter, Shantel, starts back to college on Monday, January 14, 2013. As usual, we made a trip to the campus to find her classrooms, and map out the best route for her to memorize and navigate her way from class to class. This year, Shantel has classes from one end of the campus to the other. So, we went to the student service office and obtained a campus map and walked from class to class looking for landmarks that will help Shantel find her way across campus alone. We started at a familiar landmark just across from the student service center.

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The first landmark lead Shantel to the long hallway where she can use the sidewalk edge to navigate to the next landmark.

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Which is this curved wall that leads to the wide open intersection she will cross.

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At the intersection, Shantel knows to keep her cane directly in front of her so she doesn’t veer to the left or right until she completes the crossing. She will do this all while navigating other students, and even gulf like carts used my maintenance.

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Once Shantel successfully navigates the wide open intersection, people, and gulf like carts, she will arrive at one of her classroom destinations. Great Job Shantel. Now, we can move on to finding your other destinations.

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After our mobility session at the college campus, Shantel wanted to stop by one of her favorite stores, YES. That’s the name of the store “YES”. This store carries a wide variety of hair product and make-up  specifically designed for African/Americans. And, the thing Shantel loves the most about YES is all the products they sell are discounted or like she says “on the cheep”.

Shantel purchased two make-up compacts, and  two eye shadows.

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She also purchased two placenta hair conditioners, and some pony tail bands.

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After making these purchases, Shantel wanted to walk across the parking lot to the K-Mart store. Just as we entered K-Mart, and were starting to look around, Shantel told me she thought something was leaking in her bag from the YES store. I looked in the bag, and sure enough, one of the placenta bottles was almost empty because the top had not be screwed on tight. Shantel and I walked back to the YES store and explained the situation to the owner. He wasn’t too happy to hear our problem but he took the bag and began to lay the items out on the counter where he began to wipe the placenta conditioner off each item. I told the owner I wanted to get new eye shadows, even if we had to pay for them again because Shantel’s eyes are prosthetic and I didn’t want to take any chance that the placenta might damage them. He just kept wiping and telling me “it will be OK” . I could see the liquid placenta inside the eye shadow compact and had to insist her throw them away. Finally, the owner of YES said he was going to give Shantel another bottle of the placenta for free…but he would not replace the eye shadow because I made the decision to “throw it away”… after that, Shantel did buy two more eye shadows and we left the store.

Shantel also wanted to stop by another favorite store called Mid-K. Shantel loves Mid-K but they don’t always have the same make-up that YES carries.

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As we were browsing around MID-K, I happened to look in the make-up section, much to Shantel’s surprise…there was her favorite make-up in the same shade she just purchased from YES. Mid-K even had the same eye shadows.. and, in addition, they carry a huge selection of hair accessories like these beautiful headbands.

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And these adorable headbands.

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And even this beautiful hair clip.

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Shantel was so excited on scoring all these additional items at Mid-K and finding out that they now carry all her favorite make-up that she said “well, YES just lost a devoted customer, and Mid-K just gained one”.

All in all it was a very productive and fun-filled day!

Stay tuned!

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