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Weekend Art Project

While skimming through Pinterest recently, my daughter and I came across a project that looked fun and inexpensive so we thought we’d give it a try. It utilizes heavy art paper, a lot of crayons, white glue, scrap paper, and painter’s tape. 12715686_10153753304735660_3061785048652222276_n

Start the project by applying a thick layer of glue where you want the crayons positioned, then set the crayons into the glue. It will take several hours for this to dry, so just lay it flat for a while (we let it sit overnight).

Next, cut out a shape you’d like to have centered in the color splash (or several, or even none). It’s important to use painter’s tape because the hot blow dryer will not melt the adhesive (trust me, other types of tape failed). Tape around the edges of the shape, then trim it to shape and place on the canvas under the drip line.

With a blow dryer, melt the crayons and let the wax run down over the entire canvas. You’ll need to hover over a section until you get a good amount running down then aim the blow dryer to spread it out.

The wax will dry in a few minutes so when you’ve covered the canvas, peel up the taped-on shape while it is still wet. If you wait until it dries, it will tend to pop and crack off. Try using different color combinations and shapes and get creative!

ISO: Stability

Bear with me as I reflect on some out of the way things here, like the connection between Daytona and God.  I’m still unsure which led me to which, but here I am, borderline homeless in Daytona (defined soon) and wondering why after such fervent prayer, life keeps throwing me one backhand after another just trying to knock me down – which, admittedly, it has a few times in the past five months – and keep me from getting back up.

After losing my job in January 2013 due to the death of the owner of the company and subsequent company closure, I spend the next 8 months looking desperately for work that would pay enough to cover my basic expenses: rent, utilities, transportation, food… I’d taken a couple temp jobs in that time frame because they were all that were offered, but it was still nowhere near enough to cover even rent.  After my tax return had run out, rent of course fell behind.  I had given up numerous comforts (if you can consider a proper diet and asthma/heart medication comforts) in order to start paying a little over each week on my rent to catch up.  By August, I was essentially destitute. Knowing I couldn’t continue to pay rent, I gave my landlord 2 weeks notice and moved in with the man next door for a couple weeks.  That turned out to be a nightmare, as he was an ex felon and was extremely controlling and cruel.  He was also just plain disgusting as a person.  His treatment of me made living there unbearable and so I got out before I got into a situation that I wouldn’t be able to escape.

In September, someone I used to date back in 2010 contacted me from Daytona and offered to let me move in there.  It took a lot of very difficult decision making as this would put me 3 hours away from my daughter of whom I have shared custody.  Seeing her 4 days a week would then mean seeing her only once every 4-8 weeks due to miles, gas, funds, etc.  Without work and without a place to live however, I had to make the decision to relocate to try to get back on my feet.  You may as well have ripped my heart out of my chest and taken my last breath away because that’s what it felt like as I started heading to Daytona without my baby girl.  There was no work, unemployment had run out, my tax return and savings had run out, and I was without shelter.  What else could I do?

I get to Daytona and just as I arrive at the house, I find out the water has been shut off.  Not a good omen.  Ex is scrambling to find the funds and we are out of water for days.  It goes ok after that for a couple months, I learn my way around town but never quite feel welcomed. These people have a completely different set of ethics (or lack thereof) from the way I am.  I find work within a week of arriving, but instead of being helped to get on my feet as was promised, I end up financially supporting a household of seven people, sometimes in full, on bills, food, gas, cigarettes, personal supplies, household supplies… The ex… he makes a decent sum of money, netting far more than I ever have in a month, but spends it all as soon as it comes in. As many times as I asked him to sit down and create a household budget with me, he changed the subject. Soon, the money I was making was running out, leaving me with nothing at the end of the week for having to support everyone but myself.  That’s December, about the time his whole personality changed.  He began to withdraw, to push me away, then one of his own exes came back into his life. He stopped coming to bed, started staying up all night on the phone with her, spent nights out (taking personal supplies that made it obvious it was a planned “sleepover”), and started becoming emotionally abusive. Then mentally abusive, eventually moving into screaming, cussing, threatening and being all out vicious toward me.  At that point, I was scared as I’d been through this before and each time it only escalated. This man was becoming completely unraveled and was getting progressively and rapidly worse.

Come January, he’d left me for the third time.  The final time he broke up with me, he did so online without telling me, then told me finally and had the nerve to immediately ask me for gas money. Upon refusing to give it to him because – well – he’d just left me, he threw me out, first with 30 days notice, then with 3 days notice.  I came and went, sleeping where I could but the room he had just haphazardly thrown my few remaining belongings into was unlivable – it is a storage room, full of junk and mold, there is no door, no privacy, no bed, only a bare box spring, and a filthy couch that made me sick to sleep on one night. I felt like an unwanted dog being banished to a filthy kennel, only I think he’d have treated a dog better than he was treating me.

My dad being my angel, he ended up providing a clean, safe place while I looked feverishly for a roommate but Friday will be my last night there.  In the interim, a woman I’ve known for several years and used to work with ended up offering a room to me with her in Sebastian. We talked about it, sorted out the details, and I was to move in with her this coming Saturday, the 8th.  Trusting that my friend was acting honorably, I gave my daughter the good news that I would only be 45 minutes from her now instead of the impossible 3 hours and that I’d get to see her every week like normal again.  She was ecstatic, as was I as we miss each other terribly.  Well I don’t know what happened, but 3 days before I was supposed to move in with her, I noticed she’d deleted me from Facebook.  I called, no answer. I texted, no response. An hour later, I tried to go to her page to message her and it turns out she had blocked me.  There was NO warning or reason as to any of this.  I left her several voice mails yesterday and still no response, so my dearest William sent her a message on my behalf asking her what was going on and still has not heard back. 

Still have no idea why a friend of several years who so happily offered to have me move in with her, saying I’d done so much for her over the years, would – without any warning – delete me from Facebook, block me, refuse to answer her phone, return a text or a voice mail.  Why would someone do that? She knew what I had at stake. She knew I’d already told my daughter that I was moving back to the area, she even offered to come up to Daytona to help me bring some of my things down. The last conversation we had, she gave me the new address and we were making plans for the move this coming Saturday. It was all a go and she said she was happy to help, that I owed her nothing.  I would really love to know what is behind all this, why someone who was always so sweet would out of the blue do this to me.  Does anyone have any insight to offer as to why someone would do that?

So thank God I did not turn in my resignation at work, as I would have had to do had this move gone through.  Something stopped me from doing it, “Just in case.”  I returned to my search for a roommate and happened to call on a listing last night for a room for rent in the area… a little more than I was budgeting, but I will have to work something out if it goes through.  I spoke with the homeowner last night for a solid hour and she was very friendly, an older lady, who really seemed to resonate with me.  In exchange for helping her around the house, she offered to drop the deposit and pay for half the internet that I would be transferring over. I will be meeting with her tonight and am praying to God that everything works out and I can move in Saturday.  At this point, I have no other options so if anyone reading this would please join me in that prayer that I find a place to move into this Saturday, between my faith and your intercession, God can do some amazing things.

The other question bothering me so much is why does God continue to test my faith by allowing me to come into worse and worse situations?  I mean I have lost everything over the past 18 months, including access to my child who is the single most important person in my life.  I’d go as far as to say she IS my life.  Every time I have prayed on this, I have received the same answer:  “I do this to draw you nearer to me.  If you see that I can raise you from nothing, then you will have everything.”  But how much more pain and loss can I take?  I realize God knows my limits, but life has become unbearable far too often, especially in the past five months. In RCIA, they discuss depth of faith often.  It’s so difficult to have faith when all you’re doing is futile even down to your most basic needs being stripped away and the longer it takes to get an answer – or see a miracle – the further that faith sinks.  This becomes a vicious cycle as God detests the lack of faith and puts the person in an even lower situation, pressing the faith to return.  It’s a Catch 22 – how does it stop?  As life – and faith – elude me, I will leave off here, hoping some answers come in the way of a safe place to live with my meeting of this seemingly nice woman tonight.  Thank you for listening, and please – keep me in your prayers.

 

Challenges never cease

Yesterday, I was looking forward to making the trip 2 1/2 hours south to go pick up my daughter who I haven’t seen in far too long. We miss each other terribly but its been nearly impossible to get up the money to get there as far behind as everything had fallen. Well, the thrill of having my daughter back has been taken away from me yet again as I have been in the hospital since Wednesday with a very sudden onset of right lower lobe pneumonia. I have been unresponsive to most of the breathing treatments, antibiotics and steroids that they have been pumping me with. I was in such respiratory distress yesterday that the doctor strongly suggested intubating me for 48 hours and waking me up after 2 days of ICU treatment. Of course I fought it tooth and nail. He diagnosed me with COPD. My blood pressure upon arrival was stroke level 236/120. My blood sugar is running in the 200’s so I’m shooting insulin three times a day. I’m an unholy trifecta of health problems right now. I had been praying for healing but certainly did not have to go through all this to achieve it. I think I was hoping for more of a miracle than missed child, missed work, missed home. I just hope to God my daughter understands that my being away is not by choice, that I want us together but that I am still financially destitute and severely ill. I still, after all the treatment, cannot get out of bed without taking ten minutes to catch my breath. I don’t know how long I will be in hospital, but I need to start responding NOW to treatment.

PerBlog September 10, 2013

Hello, friends.  Please bear with me while I vent.  Maybe you can even relate a thing or two to your own experiences and silently lend support with a shake of the head and a sighed, “Been there…”

So yesterday was a MONDAY.  It was a Monday to the extent that I tweeted an exasperated:

 

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It took no less than a half hour to get my sleep-through-a-nuclear-annihilation child out of bed in the morning. No matter how early she is sent to bed, every Monday morning is still a battle, some worse than others.  We ended up running late in getting her back to her dad’s house but after we’d left, it came to realization that she’d forgotten her notebook of homework so we had to turn around and get it.  

I barely skidded into work on time and no sooner did I sit down at my desk to log into the phone did my team leader come by, “I’m sorry, I have to send you home to change.”  What the?  See, during the summer, the dress code is pretty lax, with shorts and hats allowed in the call center.  Friday however, apparently an e-mail had gone out notifying staff that we had corporate company coming this week and were on a “business casual” dress code – no shorts, jeans, hats, etc.  This notice went out at 4:45 p.m. on Friday – my shift ends at 4:30.  Brilliant.  Trying not to miss *too* much time, I lead-footed it home and ended up getting stuck waiting for one of the Tropicana trains that snakes slowly across several intersections in the neighborhood, leaving no way around it.  I get home, I change, RUSH back to work, log in 32 minutes late and start having trouble breathing.

Rummaging through my purse, I cannot find my inhaler (I have chronic asthma) – Ok, I’m thinking, I’m going to drop dead at my desk.  Calls are pouring in, I’m trying not to sound like a pervert breathing heavily on the phone and trying to basically meditate myself out of this asthma attack between calls.  I make it through to lunch and call the pharmacy who has been trying to reach my doctor for an inhaler refill for two weeks now.  They still haven’t gotten a response but the pharmacist offers to try calling her directly to get an emergency refill.  I only made it until 2:30 when I could no longer talk on the phone and had to flag down my team leader to tell her I needed to go get a breathing treatment.  She said I could leave but would have one “occurrence” against me.  This is essentially their writing me up.  We are not allowed any time off for anything, period.  Screw it.  Breathing is kind of important.  I drive myself to the hospital and decide to take one last look through my purse, dumping the entire contents out onto the passenger seat.  Wouldn’t you know it, there stuck in the *lining* of my bag is my inhaler.  I contemplated going in for a treatment anyway because by then the asthma attack was so bad the inhaler wasn’t working fast enough but I eventually did get it under control.  As I was pulling out of the hospital parking lot, I get a call from the pharmacy that my prescription is in.  Of course, the price of it ended up being too much for me to afford this week so I would have been screwed anyway.  

The majority of my bad day ended there thankfully. I did leave out one bit that I didn’t think needed to be aired here, but still… yesterday was one of those, “Enough already!” moments when I just wanted to break down and cry and be held.  But of course crying would only give me a headache and there is no one to hold me anyway, so I just kept pushing through it all begging for it to end.  Anyway… signing it off here, writing off yesterday as just another day in hell and waiting to see what kind of mood the roommate is in once he wakes up.  Then again, with him just staggering out of the bedroom, my asking him, “How you feeling?” and his response being a sinister, “Don’t. Talk….” I can see how this night is going to go.

 

Unexpected Recognition

This news won’t come as any surprise to my Facebook followers (where this blog has an autofeed) but it is still worth sharing here. A couple weeks ago, motivated by some friends on Twitter, I decided to chase a dream to get involved in social work – officially.

In the past, I used to counsel and mentor runaway youths, then moved on to working with parent-child dynamics and on to battered women. I had gone through the ordination process to become a non-denominational minister to back the services I was providing.  Years of doing this however had left me emotionally drained. It became very hard to remain compassionate while staying emotionally detached from the cases and I had to step away.

In speaking with a friend recently, he pointed out a link to two things I enjoyed: helping others and doing research on just about everything. This led me to start a project called Helping Hands Community Research. The propose of this project is to assist people in finding local resources when they are in need – things like food pantries, clothing, financial assistance, etc. – as these sources are often difficult to locate. Since the inception of HHCR, I’ve gotten numerous requests through the website thanks to friends helping spread the word of it via social media.

What has me excited today is that I got a call from CASTLE, a local family services non-profit, who heard about my project and asked that I meet with them in person to give them more information on it. They said it sounded like something that was in line with what they do and would like to try to fit it in as a part of their family services programs.

This… has blown me away. Never before have I been this recognized for anything I’ve done and this presents a huge opportunity for me to really get involved in community service with other local organizations supporting my cause. I’m just amazed! I meet with CASTLE Friday afternoon and am so excited to be able to discuss the project at length and drum up some support.

In the short run, I do hope this becomes a networking opportunity toward actual paid work as I remain unemployed and looking daily, but in the end, just knowing I have done some good here, created something worth being supported – that just makes me so happy. As always, I am here to serve.

Working For Free – Oyster Reef Volunteer

Having been out of work for some time now, the cabin fever was setting in pretty hard.  Between having no income yet still spending gas to get to job interviews, there was no gas to just get away for pleasure, a break from the monotony and certainly no funds for entertainment.  I needed to feel useful again, productive.  That is when I came across a request in the local paper for volunteers to help that coming weekend on a project to build an artificial reef in the area.  I’m a nature lover and have always been interested in (and often active in) conservation efforts – how cool was that?

After e-mailing the listed contact for details, I was excited to get to work – even if it was for free.  I let a friend of mine know about the project and he was on board as well.  That Saturday, he picked me up early and we went out to Harbour Pointe on the inlet where several tons of oyster shells were ready in large barrels and on sheets of plywood in huge piles.

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About 20 other volunteers showed up and we were given a brief primer on the task at hand.    We organized ourselves into each area – shoveling, bagging and tying off.  I shoveled shells into smaller buckets while my friend bagged and tied them.  They were then loaded onto a truck to be moved to their final resting place in Wildcat Cove.  

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During a break in which bottled water and other drinks were provided, the leader of the operation and a colleague commended us all on our efforts which far exceeded their expectations.  In just about 2 hours, we’d already assembled about 400 20-pound oyster bags for deployment.  My friend and I stayed for a 20-minute informational lecture about oyster reefs, their local benefits, lots of statistics and zoological info as well.  We broke for lunch then and would meet up at low tide a few miles up the coast at Wildcat Cove.

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Upon arrival at Wildcat Cove, we found the oyster bags in a neat pile in front of the canoe launch.  Another 100 bags had been assembled and brought up in two deliveries.  It took a little brainstorming as to how we were going to get the bags to the reef area, but one adventurous girl with her own kayak said she could pull floating tubs of about 30 bags per load out to the location.  There was some interesting trial-and-error in getting the system going, including one thankfully good-humored man getting impossibly stuck in the thick muck at the bottom of the river.  It took more than ten minutes to get the river to release his legs and he lost a shoe, but we got him back safely!  Note to self: Don’t go into the water without a boat here!

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Once we got the production line going, the rest was – pardon the pun – smooth sailing.  Bags were floated out to a mangrove area where a 4-foot high oyster “wall” was built staggered around the mangroves.  Once settled and cemented, these artificial reefs will provide settling places for new oyster spawns, as well as providing habitat for young fish and feeding grounds for birds such as herons, ibis, loons, cormorants, anhingas and more.

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I remain in contact with the organizer of this effort who works for the county in coastal restoration and he is helping me network with other people in the field so that I may actually find work in conservation or a related field.  Even if it is a desk job, it would be a great opportunity (and has been) to do something productive in a field I really enjoy.  Another reef build is coming up in two days.  This time my daughter will also be involved, getting her hands dirty and having a positive impact on our local, unique and delicate ecosystem.

Oregon City and Newtown

This past Tuesday, someone very close to me sent me the following text:

“No idea what’s going on but Clackamas Town Center is literally surrounded by police w/medical and fire on hand en masse.”  4:02 PM PST Dec 11

He was right there, trying to get through the chaos, texting me as it happened:

“Units still arriving, all agencies, well over 100.” 4:03 PM PST Dec 11

I’m pacing at this point, wondering what the hell is happening.  He’s in Oregon City, I’m 3500 miles away in Florida and helpless to do anything to follow my first instinct to get him out of there (not that he’d have needed my help, that’s just the way I am).  Dreading what I’d see, I turned on the news…

http://www.oregonlive.com/milwaukie/index.ssf/2012/12/masked_gunman_unleasheas_fusil.html

http://www.oregonlive.com/clackamascounty/index.ssf/2012/12/live_updates_on_clackamas_town.html

http://www.koinlocal6.com/content/breaking/story/Suspected-gunman-among-3-killed-in-Clackamas-Town/b56vE1pNmEWgkRmcWwejkw.cspx

This was hitting way too close to home as someone I love was THERE.

Then Friday… Newtown, CT… I could not believe what I was hearing as I was listening to the reports coming in on NPR.  As the count rose of all the children senselessly taken from this quiet community at a place where they are supposed to be safe, all I could think of was my daughter.  She was at school here and at that moment all I wanted to do was hold her, protect her, from anything and everything.  But that’s impossible.

We are coming into a time where people are becoming so desperate that they are more and more often resorting to more violent means of crying out for help, for getting their points across.  Only two emotions can remain after such attacks in our own communities: Anger and Fear.  The anger will only progress into rage and more calculated killings.  The fear can only drive innocent people away from public places, into their homes afraid to go out in public anymore.  No place is immune from someone snapping and opening fire.  Temples, churches, schools, malls… I think if we really come together as communities and pay attention to what is happening around us, pay attention to the signs that others are giving, we may be able to prevent some future attacks from occurring.  If we can catch warning signs earlier that someone is hurting, perhaps we can direct them to help, or get help to them.  I don’t know – I don’t think anyone does.  There is no one solution to the growing problem and definitely no easy one.  I do think however we can all start by caring a little more, reaching out, pulling together.  We are our brothers’ keepers.

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White Lighters vs Dark Entities

For the past couple weeks, I have been poring over Sylvia Browne’s book “End Of Days,” and have been utterly fascinated with the spiritual insights both remembered and gained. 

Today, I got to an area near the end of the book called “The Dark Side At The End Of Days,” and once into this section, I began recognizing my EX-HUSBAND as being perfectly described here.  Not only him, but his entire family, as they all follow the same line of thinking, the same predictable actions designed to cause any sort of harm to others as they can for the sole purpose of “feeding” themselves.  For years, I have said it is as if they are not happy unless they are hurting someone else, that this is where they get their joy and sense of achievement.

Let me quote some of the passage here, and I’m curious if any of you have someone like this in your life as well…

* They have no conscience, no sincere remorse, and no sense of responsibility for their actions.  They take all the credit and none of the blame for everything that happens around them, and self-justification is their first and only response to criticism.

* In psychiatric terms, they’re true sociopaths.  They expertly mimic human behavior without ever really feeling it.  They can simulate charm, sensitivity, empathy, love, regret, and piety to gain proximity to us (the White Lighters).  They promptly drop the act once they’ve won us over, though, having no further use for it and frankly finding it to be too much work.  We White Entities, because our emotions and faith are genuine, have trouble imagining that we’ve been witnessing a performance.  So we cling to our trust in them and our loyalty to them, trying desperately to reinspire that wonderful person we’re sure is in there because we saw them with out own eyes, unable to grasp that that wonderful person never really existed in the first place.

*  As far as the Dark Side is concerned, we White Entities are nothing but a collection of walking mirrors.  If their reflection through our eyes is flattering, we’re valuable to them.  But the minute we catch on that we’ve been looking at a mask, and they no longer like the way they look in our “mirror,” they’ll react in one of two ways — they’ll get as far away from us as possible, or they’ll repeat the award-winning performance that attracted us in the first place in the hope of attracting us again.

{I would like to add a third possible response here, that being that I have noticed they will also ATTACK when challenged, as I go through this constantly in my own divorce and even when I thought life with him was “good.”  These attacks take on many forms, and are directly related to finding the weakest point within the Light person and seeking to taunt and harm it as much as possible.}

*  Dark Entities couldn’t care less about the laws of God or the laws of respectable society.  They live by their own self-serving rules, which change at their convenience and don’t necessarily apply to anyone else around them.  They view even their worst behavior as perfectly, invariably acceptable; but they might become outraged if someone aims that same behavior at them.  The result of this seeming inconsistency is that the White Entities close to them are kept constantly off-balance, which gives the Dark Entity that much more power.

*  The goal of the Dark Entity isn’t to turn a White Entity dark.  They know that can’t be done.  Their goal is to extinguish the White Entity’s light (AYEA!) since darkness can’t exist where light is present (literally and figuratively).  They don’t necessarily try to destroy the White Entity physically.  More often they’ll create as much emotional turbulence, self-doubt, guilt, and depression as possible in as many White Entities as they have access to, so that the White Entities lose their self-confidence, strength and power.

*  Dark Entities rarely enjoy each others’ company – with no light to extinguish, no flattering reflection to gaze into, and no control to be gained over someone with the same bag of tricks, there would be no point.  Instead, they methodically and deliberately seek us out.  And at least once in our lives, we’re likely to seek them out too.  It has nothing to do with being stupid.  It has to do with taking our spiritual responsibilities seriously and believing it’s our moral responsibility to reach out to someone we perceive to be lost, in trouble, or misunderstood.

She goes on to state:  “A Dark Entity can’t be turned white any more than a White Entity can be turned dark.  We can’t appeal to a conscience that doesn’t exist; we can’t inspire genuine remorse in someone who takes no responsibility for their actions; and we can’t ignite sincere love in someone who only loves God Himself on an as-needed basis.” 

Or, I would add, “who only loves himself.”

This section really shed a lot of light (no pun intended) on my understanding the continued harassment and abuse I still get from my ex-husband.  The selfish acts are only outdone by the way he (and his family) so blatantly turn the guilt over their own actions onto others, blaming others for things that they themselves actually did (and are doing). 

This theme has echoed throughout my entire time of knowing him, and a long time ago I realized that this theme will continue until it is possible to completely and finally cease all contact with him.  However, with a young child and shared custody, this will not be possible for many years yet.  It is exhausting to think about, it is stressful to say the least to have to endure, but I know that it will all end one day and the thing I am MOST thankful for is that my child, young though she is, also sees these trends, recognizes them, and bless her pure soul, she will NOT let his darkness overcome her, or me. 

She is strong in herself, and she trusts in me.  I show her the Light whereas “they” shower her in darkness, concealed as “good intentions,” and she takes these occurrences smiling while in her heart, she knows the Truth.  She talks to me about it.  To a point, she understands it.  She definitely sees the patterns.  And she refuses to follow along.  I wish I had not, however if it weren’t for that Dark Entity worming its way into my life, I would not have my daughter today, and for that I am ever grateful.