Home schooling – Looking back!

When I began homeschooling my daughters back in the 80’s, I really had no idea how things would turn out. Many critics said that homeschoolers were deprived of many things; no prom of course, the obvious inability to work well with others, poor social skills, gaps in their learning…..the list went on and on. I was reflecting recently on my girl now, and wish I would have known back them what I know now. Would I have done it differently? Yes, for sure I would. I would have taken them out of school earlier!
They were always excellent students so the transition to learning at home was easy. I provided what they needed and they taught themselves. I also passed along tidbits of wisdom from my parents that had been passed to me. So now, 30 years later, I can look back and see how they have progressed into adulthood. I could not be more proud, and no mother could have better talented and skilled young women to call their daughters than I do.
Michelle went into college at 16 and obtained a diploma in commercial photography. She opened her own studio at age 17. Now, she is a well known and respected Wedding and Portrait Photographer and a Master Photographer. She has always owned her own business and the concerns mentioned above were never of concern.
Leonie started working at a dental office at age 14. By the time she was 17 she had obtained her DANB certification and was a qualified dental assistant. After many years working in the dental field, she decided to change course and now runs her own very successful Etsy business making home furnishings.
Both girls made a smooth transition from the world of childhood to the adult world. I never experienced any ‘teen problems’ with either of them. They were too busy finding out what they were capable of and this is one of the beauties of home education. In fact I used to joke that I was still waiting for the “Terrible Twos”!
I cannot say for sure of course, that they would not have succeeded well had I left them in school, but I like to think that giving them the freedom to find their own path, really supported them on their journey through life.
If you want to check them out now and see what they do, Michelle and all her fantastic photos can be found at Artistique Photographie and Leonie with her beautiful pillows and aprons can be found at Mizzeztee

Marijuana – medical or not!

I have been watching with great interest the ongoing debate of the legalization of marijuana here in Oregon. Regardless of whether this becomes law or not, I doubt very much that there will be any lessening of marijuana use, especially by teens, and in fact I suspect the opposite. At present any teenager who wants marijuana can find it quickly and easily. The myth that those with a medical marijuana license only use it for themselves is totally without foundation as it is without any checks whatsoever. The argument that there are medical reasons for making marijuana legal, do not impress me at all. I cannot state that it has no medical use as I am not a physician. Currently in this state, those with a medical marijuana license are allowed to grow their own drug, and are allowed 6 mature plants. Why I find this strange is that normally, patients are not expected or encouraged to make their own antibiotics or birth control pills. Why should marijuana for medical reasons be any different? If marijuana is to be used for any medical purpose it should be treated as any other drug and prescribed accordingly and the patient monitored by a physician.
After working with families of drug addicts since 2003 I have also come to this conclusion on marijuana. Contrary to what many people say, I believe that marijuana is a gateway drug. Use of marijuana encourages reliance on using a mind altering substance to help deal with the problems of life. Sadly, teens are encouraged to look for a fast fix, be it a legal or illegal drug, to take care of their problems. As their use increases, their ability to get a high from the drug diminishes. Now, the patterns and habit are set, so the search for another better drug begins. To add to this, the places where marijuana can be obtained is often the very best place to make purchases of other drugs. This is due to those who use marijuana as a recreational drug, also often use other drugs and are willing to share the names of local dealers. I believe this will still hold true regardless of whether the purchase is made from an illegal backyard grow, or the store front on Main Street.
Over the years I have had many families of users, and drug users themselves, tell me that their first experience of drugs was with marijuana, and my personal experience with a drug user in my life bears this out. In 1997 I had a business partner who had been a previous drug user, first of marijuana and later marijuana and methamphetamine. When we became partners she was clean and supportive of drug education to stop others from taking the path she chose. Sadly, by 2003, she was once again heavily involved in drugs and also theft. At that time she also shared my house while I was working away. I discovered that she was not only using heavily but was allowing drug deals on the front porch. She gradually spiraled downwards into uncontrolled meth use. My house was trashed and she finally went to jail after attacking me while tweaking.
I found there was little help or support for friends or the family of drug users and at that time I had no idea about the danger from fires, theft, infection, animal abuse, lying, blackmail, drug dealing and assault. This prompted the development of my website, where I provide information for those whose lives are affected by drug use. I also offer coaching for families and provide a service to help identify drug paraphernalia. Had I known what I was looking at, I would have understood the odor of marijuana and the look of a pipe much sooner than I did.
My book, The Dangers of Living with a Drug Addict is available from Amazon or can be found via the website above. My next book, a true fiction account of the chaos caused by meth should be out this fall.

Churches and Drug Addiction

 

About 10 years ago, when I was running a local group to help make people aware of the dangers of drug addiction I approached some local Churches. I was fairly confident that they would be supportive of the work I was doing and would want to learn more. I could not have been more wrong. I was told, kindly but firmly that “We do not have a drug problem”. Only one local Church made any effort to become involved.

Today I spoke with an old colleague that I had worked with years ago. She is also working on addiction issues. I mentioned to her the lack of concern shown by the Churches and she laughed and said that she had encountered the same thing. The slight difference was that in her case, she was trying to work on domestic abuse. She was given to understand that the Churches did not have issues with domestic abuse!

To both of these situations I say GARBAGE! Everyone is affected by drug use and many also by domestic abuse. The sad part here is that these people do not realize just how much they are affected.

In the county where I live, our Sheriff told me some years ago that 80 – 90% of all crime was drug related. 80 – 90%!! Crime costs all of us. It is taxpayer money that bears the main burden of crime. That, along with insurance companies, who merely raise the rates for the rest of us when hit by unreasonable payouts due to crime.

Drug users can cause havoc regardless of whether it is a drugged driver in the car behind us who rear-ends us and has no insurance, or the petty thief who steals a new bike or the crack smoking addict who sets fire to an apartment complex. All costs money and you can be sure it does not come from the addict themselves. It also costs to either incarcerate them (taxpayer expense) or send them to rehab (taxpayers again pay up).  Every day the courts and police departments are spending thousands of dollars dealing with the results of drug users, not to mention the health care system, as few drug addicts have any health insurance. Addicts are not big on insurance at any time, so once again the burden falls on the rest of us.

The ‘rest of us’ must include Church-goers. These are the people who ‘do not have a drug problem’! Actually they do, but until they step forward and are willing to learn just how big of a problem there is with drug use, it will continue to get worse.  Remember, All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. Even though this saying cannot be definitively attributed to Edmund Burke, the principal is correct. While our Churches continue to do nothing, and consider themselves above both drug addiction or domestic abuse, both will continue to flourish.

I know that there must be Churches who do acknowledge addiction and who take steps to help deal with the problem. Sadly, I have not found any.

Overcoming Grief

It is almost five months since I lost my cousin, friend and house mate to cancer. In some ways it seems much longer and in other ways it still feels like just yesterday that she was here. The first weeks were a blur, and I did what needed to be done being numb and trying not to think too much about the future. Now, these few months out, I am trying to take stock of when this has meant to me.

It is strange how people reacted over her death. It is almost like she never lived here at all. She is rarely mentioned, except by close family.  I get the feeling that for many people, I should not still be grieving my loss. After all, she was not an intimate partner nor a parent or a child. Why would I still grieve now?

I knew she had cancer and that it was getting worse. I knew that she would almost certainly die. What I did not expect was that she would die from something else and go very suddenly. One minute sitting and joking with me and the next she was gone. I was not at all prepared for that and it was very hard to deal with. It is like having a double death to work through.

I found a grief group and that was a true life saver for me. It is good to know that I am not alone in waking at 3:00am with nightmares that I cannot really identify. Sleep then becomes impossible so the next day I am fatigued and cranky.

I now have a series of decisions to make. What do I do with the rest of my life, now that it has suddenly changed. Do I move or stay here in my home, which is really too large for me. How to I fill my time now I am no longer a caregiver. What should I give my attention to and how. The coming winter fills me with dread. Long dark days and evenings with no one around.  Caring for all the rescued cats alone is a real challenge too. She was so good with the furkids.  I am happy though that almost all of the cats that I mentioned in an earlier Blog have been adopted. Now, I need to focus on getting homes for a few more.

I know I will make it. I am a survivor and I have survived other tough things in my life. I want to move on and feel joy again. I think it is going to take a while though.

Desperate.

It seems strange to me that after all the years that I have spent helping other, always for free, and all the time and money I have invested in the cats in this area, that I am finding it near impossible t get any help with anything. I have save thousands of cats from being born, unwanted, and dying in pain and misery. I know I am not the only person who does this and I also know that others in this area have done more. But still I have made a contribution. Now, when I am desperate for help in finding safe places for some of these cats, there is NOWHERE. I am heartsick. I am tired of picking up the crap that others leave behind, mainly because people are too lazy or ignorant to get even ONE cat spayed or neutered. Then they stand at Walmart with a bunch of pathetic kittens and expect someone to take them on, or they move away and leave their animals behind for someone else to deal with. Yes, I have a lot of those too. I end up footing huge vet bills to try and take care of these furkids. They don’t expect much; just a safe place and a bed and some food. I still have a total of 36 cats here. Yes, it is a big drop from the 62 I did have at one time, but still more that I can deal with. Financially it is killing me and physically it is killing me.

Learning that my house mate has cancer was a dreadful stunning shock. Without divulging her personal stuff, let me just say that an operation or chemo is out of the question. She has done so much to help with the cats both in terms of physical help and financial help. Now she cannot do either one.
I don’t know where this will end but right now I am desperate.

In need of help for these cats.

It is terrible how your life can change so quickly. My cousin and I were so happy caring for our rescued cats and two disabled dogs. Had dealt with Troopers diabetes and he was doing well. Then Bo got the dreadful news. Cancer.

Stunned disbelief. Pain – hurt – tears – falling apart. Life has changed and will never be the same again. Now I have to chose between helping her and caring for my cats. Right now, as she cannot even manage the stairs, I am doing it all. Feeding, meds, litter boxes….the list is endless and I am exhausted. I MUST find homes for some of these babies. They deserve better that what I am able to give them right now.

sammy1smallThis is Sammy. Age unknown. Neutered male and a poly. Very friendly guy and goes out into the fenced yard but never away. OK with other cats and dogs. He was rescued from drug house. He was totally bald from shoulders down due to fleas. Urgently needs a loving home.

mandii1smallThis pretty girl is Mandi. She was dropped off at SpayInc right before they closed. (Non profit ran out of funds). I took her in as she has some issues. Enlarged nose and sore on her paw which I am treating. Looks like she could have been caught in a trap. If I cannot find someone to take her, the only choice is PTS. I have no money to get her the help she needs. She seems quite young and VERY friendly. No idea if she is spayed. She needs a chance.

Alice1smallThis pretty Siamese Snowshoe is about 18mos we think. Named Alice. She is very shy and does better when with her Mommabetty3smallBetty.

Betty is super friendly and loves a lap. Both girls are spayed.alice and bettysmallMomma and daughter stay together most of the time.

UPDATE on the girls above. They will be heading to their new home this week. My daughter’s parents-in-law have offered a home to both these girls. Thank you Donna and Bob.

kiki4small This is Kiki. Himalayan and a beautiful girl. Spayed. age unknown but think 6 – 8. Has flea allergy and/or nervous licking. Very friendly and good with other cats and dogs.

marmedukesmallMarmeduke arrive to eat here after his family moved and left him. He appears to be partly deaf. Also has knots on his back which need care to remove. VERY friendly and neutered. Age unknown.

If you can help with any of these cats I would be more grateful than you can know. They deserve good care and I cannot give them any but the most basic right now.

That was the Sears that was

 

Sears, or Sears Roebuck as it used to be known in the good ol’ days, was the main store to go to for durable goods and good service. Alas, no longer. Did anyone notice? Along with the shortening of the name came the loss of the service too. Two years ago I purchased a new mower from Sears. It has worked well in that time but this spring I needed a new blade. Simple, I thought. Get on line and order one. Ah yes, well that was fine as I found the correct blade, priced at around $20. What I did not expect was to pay nearly $9 in shipping charges.  OK so on to plan B, go to the nearest Sears store.

After a prolonged wait in the garden department I got a guy to help me, as I was unable to locate the blade on the racks. First he said the serial number I had was not known to him but after assuring him that this was indeed a Sears mower, he finally found the correct blade via his computer terminal.

 “No we don’t have that in stock” he told me.

 “OK well can you order it?” More clicking and he assured me that was no problem, Just $20 plus shipping.

 “No, I’ll pick it up in store” I said.

“Well you still have to pay shipping…”!!!!!!

WHAT?

You have Sears trucks delivering goods on a weekly if not daily basis to this store and you expect ME to pay for shipping to the store. What a joke! I told him thanks but no thanks.

After this fiasco I understand that I should not be surprised that so many of our things are being made in China.  Things that were once made in the USA by American workmen and women, are now made overseas and hauled here.  What I wrote here is one reason why the USA is getting poorer and China richer.

What am I going to do for a mower blade? Well, I am sure that somewhere in China there is a man who would love to make a blade for my mower, probably at half the price that Sears charge, and he would then find a way to get it to Oregon for less that $9. Now I just have to find him.

Help! Non-profits are dying!

The non-profit groups who have helped so many people are in trouble. After years of struggling they are losing funding at an alarming rate. In this past week I have learned that yet another group,  one that helps Veterans suffering from PTSD, is going under.  This is also the case with groups for animal welfare, homelessness, teen pregnancy, drug addiction and even the local food pantry.

We are all going to feel the effect of these cuts. There will be more homeless people living on the streets. There will be more families who cannot pay their rent and also put food on the table.  There will be more babies born to teen mothers who are ill-prepared to care for them.  There will be more animals left un-spayed and un-neutered so there will be more and more unwanted animals.  There will be more people turning to drugs to relieve the stress in their lives and there will be more addicts who are unable to get the help they need to get clean. This in turn will fuel more crime to pay for their drugs. None of this is a pretty picture, so what can be done?

This is a time when we all should be doing our small part to help in at least one of these areas.  Provide a can of food for the food bank, buy a spay or neuter voucher for your local shelter, ask at your local Church how they are helping with the homeless or the drug addiction problem.  If we all do even a small part to help, then we are contributing to the solution and not the problem.

Veterans – Stress to suicide

Stress – Burnout  – Pain management – Addiction – Suicide. I believe these are all parts of a continuum or a syndrome if you wish to put it into medical terms.  Of course not all disabled Veterans nor their caregivers will experience all of these things, but I do believe there is the potential for many to go down this road.

What can be done and how can this potential disaster be averted before it engulfs the VA?  My view of the VA system, admittedly a fairly small view, is of an organization which is overwhelmed already. I have previously likened it to a rudderless ship with no captain. That is not to say that there are not wonderful and dedicated individuals within the system.  However, the system itself appears to be bankrupt, if not in terms of money at least in ability.

Where then are the resources to come from, to address the issues which are facing us now, as more and more service men and women are returning from deployment and many are young and with catastrophic injuries.  Add to that the pressure on family members to be the caregivers, and the lack of support for caregivers in the past and you immediately move into the stress – burnout part of this syndrome.

Then it is doubtful whether many if any returning service men and women are without pain of some kind, be it TBI’s or other physical injury or PTSD.  Emotional pain is as hard to deal with as physical pain and probably less well understood as it cannot be readily seen.  So now we add pain to the syndrome. Let us not forget that the caregivers themselves may be dealing with their own pain. Aging parents may be caring for a wounded son or daughter.  Spouses with health issues may be called upon to be the caregiver.  Who is caring for the caregiver?

Now let us look at the addiction component. Addictions, of whatever kind; drugs, alcohol, cigarette/tobacco habit, gambling, sex, & pornography….. All of these are forms of addiction, and addiction is a way of dealing with overwhelming pain and a way for people to  distance themselves from the trauma in their life. We need also to remember that many people are already active drug addicts or prior addicts, especially  in the area of drugs and alcohol.  The stress/burnout/pain syndrome merely pushes them further into their addiction.

This becomes even more convoluted when you consider the medication needs of Disabled Veterans and the possible potential for other family members to avail themselves of the medications. I do not say this lightly. The stress/burnout/pain component can push even the most stable person to seek relief.

Finally we come to the hardest part of this syndrome – Suicide.  Even small events can trigger an unstable action which cannot be undone.  I also believe we need to consider what I would term ‘familycide’  where the overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and helplessness can escalate into removing themselves permanently from the situation and taking the disabled Vet with them.

Obviously this is a very distasteful thought but one which needs to be considered in the light of the lack of support, isolation, inexperience and overwhelming fatigue Veteran families face. It would be wonderful to think that the VA would be able to find solutions for all of this, but realistically we know that will not happen, at least not quickly enough.  I do believe all is not hopeless though, but once again, “We, The People” must band together in whatever way we can do avert the coming crisis.

Dangers of Living with a Drug Addict.

There are many things that can be dangerous when living with a drug abuser in the house.  Here is an example of just one.

The recent spate of petitions directed towards Facebook, demanding that they shut down the private networks of pedophiles is a case in point. These children are someone’s children.  They are beautiful and well cared for, not scruffy street urchins from some third world country. Whose children are they? They look like the kids next door or the kids down the street.  Well, many of them are! I am sure that many of these photographs are the result of drug users wanting cash for their drug habit. If they have access to children, any children regardless of whether they are their own or the neighbors, they will use them if they can.  The children may not be physically molested – yet – but their bodies may be spread far and wide for pedophiles to share. Addicts have been known to ‘sell’ their children for drugs or money. Yes this does happen here in America and no, it is not uncommon. This is just one of the possible dangers of having a drug addict in the house that I cover in my latest book.