via Daily Prompt: Extravagant
The word extravagant may stir up visions of jewels or an exotic car for many folks. But to others it may be something as simple as a box of corn flakes with a quart of milk. So many of us are blessed to be able to dream of jewels or fancy cars while others dream of having a meal in their stomach once in a while. I learned this from a young man in Haiti whom I grew to love dearly. He taught me so much about life. I learned that there are those in Haiti who go days with no food. I also learned that an education there is not free. They must pay to send their children to school. In many instances it is a choice between that and food. To them a days wages may be only a dollar. That is enough to buy one bottle of pop at the local store. That is not enough for one person for the day let alone a family. While in Haiti I saw dirt cookies for sale on the streets and asked why they had them. They were eaten to absorb the acid in the stomach and curb hunger pains. It was uncommon there to see anyone who smoked. They could not afford the habit. Nor could they do many other things that we do such as have a pet.
Extravagance for him was a simple bowl of cereal and some clothes. How many of us would call that extravagance? Not many I would suppose. We sit in our heated homes sipping beverages and filling our tummies on a daily basis. Yet, so many in the world do not have a building to sleep in nor clean water to drink. I am not trying to put you on a guilt trip. What I am doing is asking you to think about what your item would be if you were told you could have something extravagant for free? As for me I am getting better at seeing how blessed I am in this world in which I reside. I am as a queen living in a castle my friend from Haiti once told me. I sit in my castle while I dine on fine foods and fatten myself all the while knowing that there are people living in the villages starving. Extravagance to me is no longer a classic car or diamonds. It is a desire of the heart to reach out to those in need and to help them. If I could have something extravagant I would choose to build a hospital in a third world country that has a food bank for those in need. I would dream big, but not for myself. Yes, I could work at that facility but more than that I could help those stuck in a situation from which there seems no escape. That to me is extravagant.
As I walked to the mailbox I was expecting to find a packet from STRS about my disability retirement. Finding an envelope that had been shipped via express USPS I grew excited in hopes of good news. Instead, inside I found a letter from you. It explained to me how to go about cashing the cashier’s check and from there to deposit in into my bank account etc. I thought it was a joke when I saw the check for over $2,000 inside with the letter. I began to do some research on the firm you stated you were mailing the check from. I know I was supposed to be a mystery shopper for you and in return I got money to spend at a local store. But, the whole idea seemed ludicrous! I was going to get over $300 for shopping! Well, when I broke it down I realized that if I deposited that check into my account and then made out no name on them cashiers checks to mail to you I could lose big time! If your check was no good you would get a good check from me and I would be out. I am not that stupid scammer person. I may have a traumatic brain injury but I am not stupid! I want you to know that you are hurting people that you scam. You don’t even know me. I have been without a pay check for over two years now! My spouse has been supporting us and paying all of my medical bills. How DARE YOU try to scam me? DO you even have a heart or a sense of what you are doing is WRONG? Now, you are texting me. I am not going to cash that check nor deposit it! I am not going to be a part of your making money off of hard working people who are barely paying their bills. How did you get my name? How did you get my address? I wish you would leave me alone. I want you to get caught scammer person. You are the low of the low in my opinion. I am not to judge as I am a Christian and I want you to know that I almost cashed your check for cash and gave it all to the poor. But, I didn’t. I will not stoop to your level. I would know I have sinned and would regret it. God knows what you are doing scammer person. He knows all and sees all. Someday you may have to answer for what you do. But, as for now know that I am one who did not fall for your scheme. I hope you lost money because of it. I will stand up for what is right and I pray others do as well. I pray you get caught. I pray you find a way to make money without scamming good people. I have had no income for a long time and yet you chose me?? LOL I have no money to take scammer person. I have faith in most people. but you take the cake. Get a job!
via Daily Prompt: Cozy
Whenever I see the word cozy it brings to mind a dear friend of mine who makes tea cozies. She sells them in some shops down south as well as at a local shop in the area. Her handmade items are so perfectly made. Each stitch weaves into a design that makes one yearn for such a wonderful cover for their tea pot. I honestly have to say that I had not known of tea cozies prior to her introducing them to me. I love tea and have enjoyed it for years but had never seen a cozy that could be placed over the pot to keep it warm. Each one of her pots has her design signature on the back. It is a star symbolizing her relationship with her higher beings. She is a woman who is strong in faith. She always makes things with love and charges only enough to make a minimal amount for herself. It is her passion for others that drives her. Sewing quilts and so much more I have seen her talent from God used as a means to make so many people happy. One year at Christmas I walked with her as she distributed her handmade fabric bookmarks to those residing in a local nursing home. For her it is not about the money, it is about seeing the recipient of her craft create a smile on the face of someone she meets. I can recall one Americana quilt in particular in that she made it for a cause. She labored on this quilt for quite some time to then donate it to the cause for a raffle. She made no money at all. I admire her ability to sew as she does. But, even more than that I admire her ability to bring joy to others. I am blessed to call her my friend and sit with her from time to time to have a formal tea in her home. I love seeing her handiwork at my side as we sip tea from her special cups placed at the table just for us. Her cozy home set with tea cups and a tea pot covered in her handmade cozy make me feel relaxed and loved. A cozy little setting that only a few have been honored to have. Blessed, truly blessed, are we who know this woman who creates this atmosphere. I am blessed to know Klittlestar – she is a light to many.
Having been through the process of attempting to get disability for two years now through STRS I thought I would journal some of my experiences, not as to complain, but as to allow others to glean from my experiences with that system. As one who believed the system was there in case I needed itH I must admit that I was more than stunned by the paperwork needs for proof. Not because of the difficulty of the task which appears to be quite simple, but because of the variety of issues trying to figure out how to get the paperwork done. About two years ago I began to collect paperwork to prove my injury from an accident. At that time I did not even know I had a TBI. I went to a neuro psychologist to take his tests and also went to other doctors for documentation. Being that my primary physician would not complete the paperwork I sought out a new doctor that would. That doctor did fill out the first set of paperwork as he promised and I submitted it. The first round of paperwork was declined. I see now that I did not have enough proof. Yet, I hired an attorney and went to court. (DO NOT pay up front – we lost $2,500 as I thought that cost was for the entire process and it was not.) We lost. That week I called in to the office to report I had gotten the denial and to ask how we should continue to find that my attorney had left the firm. I had no records of what had transpired in court as I did not pay for it to be typed up. I was more than upset. She had never mentioned to me she was leaving the firm. Moving on I went to therapies for months at a time etc trying to get my vision returned to normal. It was during this process that I learned I have post traumatic vision syndrome and a TBI. It can be improved through therapy, I was told. The therapy made me ill and I really hated doing it. I went from there to find a neuro ophthalmologist to be told that nothing could be done and that the therapy was a waste of time and money. I needed to accept what was happening. My vision issues were permanent. But, that doctor who was an MD would not sign the paperwork for disability. You see, I had a signed paper from an eye doctor that is world renowned for her vision therapy techniques but because she was not an MD or DO (which I thought was a doctor of optometry) , her paperwork would be acceptable as additional commentary but without the signature of an MD the paperwork would not even be looked at. I went to so many MDs trying to get paperwork signed. But, as many of you know a TBI is not easy to prove. Meanwhile, my attorney had told me that a new person was taking over my file. He let me know that when I had a doctor that would sign the paperwork he would help. Basically until then I was on my own. I was told that I had the EASY part getting the doctors to sign the form. He gave me no suggestions as who to go to for the form to be signed nor any help at all. He seemed to be one that gathered my paperwork and sat on it while I did the work. When I attempted to give the firm a bad rating I got a letter in the mail that was not nice. I got scared. Anyway, finding a doctor to sign the paper is not an easy task and will be a topic of another blog. I went to visit STRS when I was almost out of time and the person assisting me explained to me that there are teachers in Ohio that are completely blind and teach. Even if I went totally blind I could not get disability from STRS. I called senators and congressmen trying to find help. They said it was not their jurisdiction although one did call STRS to state I had called them. ?? Not much help in my eyes. I ended up not being able to get a doctor to fill out my form so that STRS would review my file a second time. I recently ran out of time and am now waiting on paperwork for standard retirement to process.
Those of you who teach in Ohio, I suggest that you not rely on the STRS disability system. It is not what I thought it was at all. I have had no income now for over two years. I will not have an income for a month or so even with the standard retirement. When you file for that you cannot work for a few months, even part time. Paperwork takes time. When I tried to work a few hours during the process even the local service to assist those who are disabled told me that I could not work and file as STRS is very picky and will decline an application for anything they can. I might be able to work a part time job a few days a week but have been unable to do so. You cannot get unemployment during the process either. If you do that you are in fact stating that you can work. You will be denied if you take unemployment. In addition most all applications are denied the first round. You will need to be seen by the STRS doctors that they assign you to. Some say that they have more clout than the doctors you choose to go to. I am not one that knows that but can see how it can happen. My suggestion would be to look into a disability rider on your insurance. It would possibly help to pay your bills during the process. People have lost their homes etc. during this process. I also suggest that you spend less out of your pocket for classroom materials. Put that money in the bank. You might need it one day to buy food for your loved ones. By the way, if you become disabled and do not have enough years in service you may need to wait to get payment from your file. I was told I needed a certain number of years to get retirement at my age or I would need to wait until I turn 60 to get anything. Know the rules. Pay off you house. Pay off your cars. Be ready in case. I am blessed to have a spouse that supported me. Can you live on one income for years? Are you a single income family?
Ohio teachers, did you know all of this? I will write more when I can. Eyes are tired. I want to let others know what you face in the real world. It is not an easy thing to get. Your life can change permanently at any moment. HUGZ
via Daily Prompt: Cherish
“Cherish is the word I use to describe… all those feelings that I have hiding deep down inside…. ” These lyrics rang in the mind of my younger self. I loved the words to this song and yet I had just begun to understand the true meaning of them. To cherish back then was to love in a simple way; holding another’s hand or to view a brief kiss of a couple nearby. Yet, now I see so much more depth and breadth to that simple word. To cherish now means to hold one’s heart in your hands and in your heart. To be blessed enough to have that person in your life for the long haul no matter what is to be able to cherish them. It is to know that person inside and out and to love when they walk into the room even after forty years of marriage. Cherish is only one part of the vows I took so long ago – I pledged to love, honor, and cherish the man I love. Those words spoken to be done in any condition even in sickness. In the last few years since the accident that left me unable to work I have watched my spouse take on all of the challenges including the monetary ones without even one word of complaint. In those years I have watched him work hard as he always has asking nothing in return. He has even told me that all will be okay and has encouraged me on so many occasions. I am so blessed to have a man in my life that is so loving and caring. I cherish my time with him. The time home has brought us closer together and allowed me to love him through simple acts such as baking or cooking meals for him. To cherish is to love in a way that nobody else will ever know of. Even if you read this you will never understand the meaning of our love.
As I read posts on Facebook from those who are caregivers I see so much distress in their words. I see their emotions that they wear on their sleeves. I feel for them. Yet. I also feel for their loved ones with the TBI. I wonder if their loved ones read their posts. I wonder how they feel being caught in a world that they did not ask for with someone they cherish complaining about them. To lose one’s self has to be hard enough. To lose one they cherish and live through their opinions and blasphemy has to make it far worse. My old self is gone. But parts of that old me remain. I am thankful that my love for my spouse remains. I am thankful that he cherishes me enough to not cast his problems on me as I heal.
“Cherish is the word I use to describe… all those feelings that I have hiding deep down inside….” Do you cherish the person you are a caregiver for? if you do then think of how you show that to them in your every day actions. I am blessed to have my spouse. Are they blessed to have you?
via Daily Prompt: Proclivity
I wish that I could state that my thing I do regularly is blog. But I don’t. I seem to do well for a while and then life and it’s activities grab ahold of me and I am not focused on my writing. My tendency is to choose other things. I do so many things on a regular basis, but not write. I need to make it a predisposed part of my day.
I have been so busy attempting to fulfill the requirements of the STRS disability board that my life has been like a ragdoll tossed to the side for near two years now. I just ran out of time with the whole process of getting disability. It seems as if proving ones traumatic brain injury is not easily done. I have been to so many doctors over the course of the last two years and to no avail have not one doctor who was willing to fill out the documentation. I am left with no money; no pay for over two years now and bills from trying everything I could to get what they asked for. I feel as if I wasted thousands of dollars in an effort to get something I was due and lost. I paid into a system that was supposed to be there if I needed it. But, as for me it was not. I now must accept the lower payout of standard retirement. I will not get any money for a while now as the process will take time. I cannot work as I am disabled – just not on paper for STRS. I had lived in a world filled with illusions that the money I had put into the fund was there for me if were ever to need it. But, I have found that to get that money back out is not that easy. I wish I had bought disability insurance prior to my accident. My hope is that I will be able to find a part time job that I can do a few days a week for a few dollars. I am not sure I can work in fluorescent lights at all but I think I would like to try.
Perhaps now I can write a bit each day as the paperwork attempt is over. It filled my life and robbed me of so much. I need to move on. HUGZ
via Daily Prompt: Confess
Confession, to me it is much more than what it is to anyone who is a non-Catholic. As one of the Catholic faith it is about meeting with a representative of Jesus – the priest – to cleanse ones soul. As a priest, or man of the cloth, our father listens to us as a representative of Jesus to intercede and allow us to tell God all of our sins. I have to say that when I first came back to the Catholic faith from having been in the Protestant realm I thought that I really could just talk to God on my own. I had the mindset of many in that GOd hears our prayers when we talk to him and so I did not need to go to a confessional. Yet, when I went back to the confessional after many years of having been away I noted that there was a feeling unlike when I just talked to God. I was in the presence of a man of God who listened and then blessed me and absolved my sins. So often as a Protestant I confess and re-confessed my sins hoping that they were resolved. Yet, here I knew for a fact that God had heard them. I also knew what to do for my penance whether it be saying a prayer or doing an act of contrition. I know that this post is different than the others I tend to write, but it is my faith that has sustained me in times of the accident etc. I rely on God for so many things. I confess to you that I am not one to tell anyone what faith is for them. Yet, I know that confession is an element of the Catholic faith that I believe in. It is for me. Is it for you?