Friday, May 22, 2009

Lots of things happening. Life, love, doves.

First of all, please forgive me for neglecting this blog for so long. I have been incredibly busy with work, and when I have time, I do things like clean my apartment and eat something decent. Things from my former life have gone by the wayside. YouTube, podcasts, video editing, working out, and Rayne's World. But this blog is too important for me to put aside any longer. I will keep posting on a regular basis from now on and forever more. Crossing fingers...

Okay, with all the excuses out of the way - how are you all doing? I miss my blogger friends. I hope everyone is doing great! I keep up with some of your blogs, so I know what a lot of you have been up to. I'm just glad you're still blogging!

My life is moving incredibly fast. My work is the most important thing in my life, and it has been quite a challenge. The Peer Support and Wellness Center definitely has its challenges. Last time I wrote anything significant, we were still in the infant stage. Since then, we have been through the terrible twos, and now we are at a more reasonable childhood stage. It has felt like raising a child - all consuming, challenging, and rewarding. Yes, rewarding. When we reach a milestone (masked as a challenge) and work though it, coming out ahead, it is like a growth spurt. We have had many of those.

One of the challenges has been Personal Care Home managers. Personal Care homes are, in my opinion, a tragic extention of institutions. They are hospitals without walls, and they serve to keep people oppressed and dependent. There's very little self direction. But the individuals who come to the Center from Personal Care Homes are experiencing self direction at least while they are at the Wellness Center. It is frustrating because I feel that Personal Care Homes have an ideal setup for people to become self directed, if only the managers understood the concept. If only! It just breaks my heart to see so many people who have so much talent and insight to live in another institution. It feels criminal.

So it's very difficult to communicate with Personal Care home managers. We don't speak the same language, and their objectives are opposite of ours. They want to keep people "safe" and "compliant." They don't understand the fact that we do not keep files on our peers, not do we discuss our peers with anyone except our peers. Duh! Case workers and parents often have the same expectation of us. Medicaid van drivers too! So when our peers come to the Center from those environments, many are hearing about self direction for the first time. And practicing it is a challenge as well because once they return home, they have to be compliant again. I understand this, too, because when your living siruation is at stake, you will do whatever it takes to have a roof over your head.

I see the Center as such a reprieve for so many of our peers. Many people who don't have a home will come to the Center for a nice home environment, at least for the day. We work with people on housing issues, and many have found the home of their choosing through networking and resources while at the Center. Others are still struggling with homelessness, and I wish there were more housing resources in this area.

The Center is directed by four core values - making connections, sharing worldviews, creating mutuality, and moving toward (life). When someone comes through those doors and simply wants to sit on the couch and hang her head, another peer will approach that person and attempt to make a connection. I have seen eyes light up and personalities emerge from that simple act. It happens a lot, and tears are falling now from thinking about it. OMG! That's the reason we are here! Nothing is more rewardng than that!

My personal life has been moving fast as well. Yes, I do have a personal life! I moved out of the Center last December 27, exactly one year to the day that I had moved in. I didn't plan it that way! But I have a very nice apartment about a half mile away. It's the most beautiful apartment I've ever lived in, and it's secure and peaceful. I needed to move. The daily participants at the Center have grown in numbers to the point that it was becoming difficult to find a space for myself. And I need my space!

I saved up all I could during the year I lived at the Center and left all my belongings when I moved out. I needed to start fresh and new. I went to Havertys and furnished my new apartment. WOW was that a blast! So when I moved out, everything got delivered to me rather than dealing with all those boxes. It was a VERY pleasant and effortless move!

I left my dove Angel at the Center. I'm there most of the time anyway, and I think he is happy there. He did miss me when I first moved out, though, so I found him a companion dove. Her name is Angela, and she adjusted to her new home immediately. She and Angel are best friends, and soon to be mates. It's just a matter of time. I see them kissing a lot :o)

I still edit videos, but I sure do have a lot of footage that I haven't even touched yet. Beth was here for a visit, and I'm sure you all remember her. She moved to Kansas about the same time I moved into the Center. She's been here to visit twice, and both times we got some good videos. Maybe I'll work on those first.

OH - and the beginning of May, I was invited to DC to a "Innovations in Recovery" seminar put on by SAMHSA, which is the federal division of mental health, so to speak. The feds, I call them. Anyway, the seminar covered several topics, and I was asked to do a presentation on "Crisis/Respite Alternatives." I showed the DVD of the Peer Support and Wellness Center, and people told me they loved it and wanted to come to Georgia and see it for themselves! This event was such an honor for me to attend. I had never traveled to an unknown city by myself before, and now I am no longer scared to do so. I was terrified before the trip, and I even considered declining, but that's not the way to grow, right? I gotta face my fears, and in the end, there was nothing to be afraid of.

Well, those are the highlights of my life since I last wrote. OH yeah - I also went to Dallas with my sister Jody. We met my mom, sister Michele, and niece Katie there to watch Katie compete in the national cheerleading championship. I have footage of that, too, which I will get to one day soon. Oh where do I start with all these videos?

OH yeah! And Karla is due to have another baby in July! A boy!

Okay, I am signing off before I remember something else. I'll be back soon. Thanks for reading my ramble.

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