Friday, January 31, 2014

Post on Divorce

And on the topic of divorce and my mom, an ironic post was made her yesterday. She posted the image below on Facebook and wrote, "I like this judge". It would have been nice if she'd agreed with the judge during my and my sister's youth when she put us in the middle and tried to make us choose a side between she and my dad. And if you asked her to comment on my dad now -which she does from time to time -she'd give you a series of expletives to describe him. I don't understand people sometimes... 


Ghost Activity 1-31-14

Well the ghost is usually active about 1 night a week. Last night was apparently this week's night. 3:00am exactly I wake up and start hearing noises. Lately it's been the ceiling. It's the kind of snapping sound you hear if you're on the first floor and someone is walking or shifting movement above on the second floor. Only I'm on the second floor and there is no third floor -it's just the roof of the apartment complex. Then I'll hear noises in the living room like the T.V. snapping and making similar noises. Then last night my stupid wall heater vent -which has been off despite my attempts at turning it on for the past 4 months -randomly kicked on. I had to get up and turn it off because it started making my apartment too warm. 

But overall I'm no longer frightened. Just annoyed -the way it used to be when I would experience stuff at my mom's. There's only been 3 legitimate times when I sensed/picked up on something spiritually that left the realm of "ghost" and entered the land of "demon". And then I thought last night: Why? Why a demon if it is that? I know my parents originally lived in a house whose backyard was attached to a cemetery, but why would the ghost follow my sister and I after all these years? Then I remembered how demons are said to enter the "physical world" in the first place. 

Basically if there is an incident/event of dark unrest a "split" will be made in the spiritual environment and a demon will enter in. Kind of like if there's a crack in the wall of your house, bugs are more likely to enter. This "crack in the spiritual wall" is caused by incidents like murder, abuse, fighting, suicide, and in my case loud arguments and divorce. These kinds of events create a space for darkness to enter into. I think that's why whatever entity this is found its founding in my family. The reason it doesn't bother my mom is she's my mom: very blunt, overt, loud, and dominant. My dad's kind of a push-over, but he's still a grown man that can be vocal when he wants to be. My sister and I on the other hand -we're low-key, accommodating, and spiritual. People with more grace and a quieter spirit are "easier" targets -though ultimately cannot be conquered because of those very same characteristics.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

DBV 1-30-14

"In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians." – 2 Chronicles 16:12 (NIV)

Thoughts: This is a very specific reference to something I have not read yet. My guess as to how it ends: The physicians couldn't figure out what was wrong with him as sometimes happens (especially back in ancient times) and things did not end well for Asa. I figure if it's something physicians can't heal/handle -look elsewhere. Also physicians = people, and people make mistakes/ aren't perfect. 

I enjoy putting faith in God's hands and trusting that things will turn out well because He's in control. It puts my mind at ease and every time I start to worry I remember: "Oh yah, God's got this. Just pray and He'll handle it." You don't have to do anything on your own. You don't have to go it alone.

Teens These Days

I'm friends with my 2 teen mentees on Facebook. Only 1 goes on regularly, but I've been seeing the way she interacts with others and more importantly -the way boys interact with her.

Comment Posted by Random "Selfied" Dude: 
Tbh: i like ur eyes o.o but u stranger ._. We should change that :)
Date or pass: Date

-"Tbh" translated means "To Be Honest" which is used before almost every sentence the teens post for some reason. Often these comments guys make will say 3 things: 

1. A statement of "Tbh, I don't know you/ we're strangers..."
2. We should meet/message each other
3. A "rating" of the girl's physical appearance -in this case a 10

Comment Posted by Another Random Selfied Dude: 
Tbh ur cute but we total strangers

Comment Posted by Yet Another RSD: 
Tbh: ur pretty
Tbh: ur a stranger
Tbh: i dont knoe u

Comment Posted by RSD #4: 
Rating: 9.5 <3

Comment Posted by RSD #5:
Tbh: cutie c;
tbh: burn it !
Tbh: dont flake froday keep it lit (;

Comment Posted by RSD#6: 
Goodnight Babe <3
Return back ^.^

Comment Posted by RSD#7:
Tbh ur cute but u stop texting me

Comment Posted by RSD#8:
Tbh your pretty
Tbh your a Stranger
Tbh hmu

-"Hmu" translates into "Hit Me Up" aka "Call Me/ Go Out with Me"

Comment Posted by RSD#9:
Tbh : were strangers.
Tbh : your beautiful :)

Comment Posted by RSD#10:
 Tbh~yur prwtty asf

-"asf" Translates into "as f*ck" aka "very much" 

Comment Posted by RSD#11:
Tbh? (;

Comment Posted by RSD#12:
tbh: Your adorable
tbh: Your cute
tbh: You seem short
rate: Bms <3
We should : chill and talk more (:

-"Bms" translates into "Broke My Scale" aka "You're off-the-charts"

Comment Posted by RSD#13:
Rate 9 .

Comment Posted by RSD#14:
 Date/Pass: Date ;} <3

All of this reminds me of Linked-In only instead of giving endorsements your rating someone on their datability/ appearance. I don't like it. She's only 14 years old. All she's learning from guys is that you gain approval/ acceptance from them if you post hot "selfies" and message them with flirting. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Passive Effective

Someone came up with that phrase and I like it. It's like "passive aggressive", but it means that being passive will effectively accomplish things. In other words: occasionally patience pays off.

Tuesday night I went to a "2014 Goals" kind of event. My 2014 goals have slowly been evolving out of the muck of me being lazy and not wanting to make any to starting to see them clearly because so many people keep bringing them up. 

What do I want to achieve?

On docket right now:

-Begin a regular workout routine to gain better physical presence
-Finally get a hold on and better management of PHB
-Really start to contribute more at work and act freely upon creative ideas
- Gain more spiritual connection (with God and my own soul)
-Connect more deeply with a friend or two 
-Actually work on artwork, which I've been neglecting for a while

Yah. And then as far as "Goals of Being" are concerned:

-Clear, Self-Assured, Spiritual, Confident, At Peace, Understanding

And in the process of figuring out these goals, something else also occurred to me: 2 Patterns emerge in the process of goal setting. 

Pattern 1: Things that inspire you to act (aka your passion in life)
Pattern 2: Things that prevent you from acting (hinder you from your passion)

For me, Pattern 1 is as follows: 

-I am confused by something I don't understand
-I learn and discover a greater enlightenment of a subject/lesson
-I then feel compelled to simplify and explain beautifully this new subject/lesson I want others to know because it matters to me
- From this state I become impassioned

Pattern 2: 

-I am inspired and passionate about what I'm doing
-I try to implement my new plans and ideas 
-Time passes and not much changes or people don't care/notice
-Changes either do occur or they don't
-I feel my time is wasted and I'm getting nowhere
-I become dispassionate about the subject/lesson/idea and become bored and uninterested

I've also noticed "signifiers" or ways to recognize when Pattern 1 (Passionate Motivation and Inspiration) is occurring and when Pattern 2 (Disheartened Decline in Interest) is occurring. 
During Pattern 1: I do a lotttttt of research on the subject and begin either making tables, images, or files without being asked by anyone to do so. 

During Pattern 2: I get tired, make excuses, day dream a lot, avoid people/situations, and feel a lack of energy in general. I am bored and stressed.

Noting these 2 patterns and how to tell when they are coming up in life is important to seeing what moves you forward in life and what halts you. It's easier to create goals when you know what it is in life that really brings you alive.

DBV 1-29-14

"But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul." – Deuteronomy 4:29 (NIV)

Thoughts: It serves as a good reminder on where to find God. It seems like in our soul there is a yearning inherently to be connected with God. When people aren't and they don't know where that sense of "lacking" comes from they try and fill it with external things -like wealth, power, objects, people... and it is never satisfied. But when you let God into your life and He fills your life with His presence -you feel a deep sense of peace and fulfillment. You then want for nothing and are content wherever you are. To live with God in your soul is the goal.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

DBV 1-28-14

"Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise His name; proclaim His salvation day after day." – Psalm 96:1-2 (NIV)

Thoughts: It serves as a good reminder that reveering God and praying to Him isn't just for yesterday or 2 weeks ago. It's for every day. It's for always. It's forever. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Alotted Time

Well I officially am back on typical "time standards of measurement" now. I hate it. 

I actually have to schedule time for myself on my own calendar of life!!!

My Aunt Debbie is coming down from Oregon this weekend. She rarely makes these travels down. Last time I saw her was at Christmas (and that was for the first time in 5 years). So when my mom told me she was coming down, I had to tell her "I have to check my schedule" to see if I could make it to Oakdale. And wouldn't you know it -I can't!

If it's not CCPY, it's planning sessions and events for Promote Her Business. AND there's Toastmasters meetings that are also supposed to be occurring monthly so the officer team I'm on knows what goals it's trying to hit. I got so pissed this passed week though. After coming back from camp (sick with a runny nose) I had to go after work to one meeting after another meeting to a Toastmaster Training to more meetings... Then Friday and Saturday afternoon was booked. The one highlight was visiting with my friend Alex at Red Lobster before the 2-6pm (turned 7:30pm) strategy session for PHB. Then Sunday I planned on sleeping in and doing laundry/house work -but instead got signed up for another strategy session from 12 noon -4pm.

This ENTIRE week is book. 7:30am-4:00pm I have my actual Job. Then from 4:30-7pm I have numerous engagements going on. I get NO DAY out of this ENTIRE WEEK including the WEEKEND for myself. I don't mind giving up time for these projects as long as they're productive, but the past 3 days the PHB ones haven't really been. Mondays and Sundays are officially booked as "Josdays" from now on.

PHB has evolved numerous times over:

Beginning of 2013: Initially the goal was to focus on/launch a mentoring program for up-and-coming women entrepreneurs being paired with seasoned women in business. The mentoring program would then gain a community/group/following by having various ongoing events.

Spring 2013: PHB focused on signing people up for various committees and making the "events" more of a "chapter" mentality while research was done for the mentoring program which we realized was not ready to launch. 

Summer 2013: BIG events should be done every other month and smaller events done twice a month. Planning for 2014 begins... Template everything so we can copy/paste it next year! 

Fall 2013: We need to make PHB a Chapter and then launch multiple chapters throughout California and eventually the U.S.A. and then the world at large. We need official officer roles and comittee positions established. Template a Chapter Leadership Guide so people can start these chapters and follow procedure.

Winter 2013: Need to start planning the launch of the mentoring program in early 2014. All the research done amounts to a few nice guidelines to take into consideration, but it's just going to be a "we'll see as we go" kind of plan from here on out. We also plan to launch official Chapter Membership in Summer of 2014. 

Beginning of 2014: The distinction between "PHQ" and San Jose Chapter needs to be made. Where does one begin and the other end? PHQ now consists of: 
-Jos the CEO for PHQ and current Chapter President
-Jessica (me) who is now Chief Operating Officer for PHQ = Logistics and Implementation Manager/ Advisor for the Marketing Division of the Chapter/ Advisor to the Favorite Cause Division of the Chapter/ Current Chapter Treasurer, 
-Leslie = Strategic Communications for PHQ/Current Chapter Membership Director/ Advisor to Speaking Events Division
-Hollman = Chief "Title I can't remember that involves coordinating events and strategizing" for PHQ/ Current Chapter Membership Director (with Leslie)/ Advisor to Healthy-HER Division

The Chapter itself now consists of : 
-2 Ment-HERing coordinators
-1 smaller meetings coordinator 
-a lot of potential Marketing Division members
-1 Favorite Cause Division member
-3 or 4 Healthy-HER Division members
-a bunch of other roles that have yet to be defined/filled

And now the plan for the nature of the Chapters themselves have started to change. We are also planning to launch a virtual training program next year. We are also still working on templating EVERYTHING. Making templates is easy for me, but for Jos it's one of the hardest things on the planet to do. Jos is not an Excel/Word/ Typing in Data -kind of person. I love data entry. It's one of the reasons we succeeded working together this long. Unfortunately we're now planning things with Leslie and Hollman -who are great visionaries/brain-stormers/planners -but also aren't the greatest at templating/data entry (at least when we get together as a group of 4). Which is why our Fantastic 4 Session Friday and Saturday then added Sunday. In our attempt to complete a "Business Plan for the Next 2 Years" we completed 2 pages and went off on a tangent of about 5 pages worth of side notes, new ideas, and action items.

I just want it all done. I want all the events templated and put in a booklet. I want the Favorite Cause Division to carry on its own and raise funds for the 2 non-profits we chose this year. I'd say that I want the Marketing Division to carry on its own but I'm still not quite sure what their specific duties and responsibilities are. I'm still going to be the graphic designer/social media implementer for PHQ for a while and it's still hard to see where PHQ and the Chapter separate on the Internet.

What I Got from Camp

I've been asked before, during, and after camp: What do you want/ are you getting/ did you get from your experience at camp?

Which is weird because we were also told camp isn't "for us" it is for the mentees.

I think the biggest thing I learned from camp was to a change in perspective on TIME.

The first day at camp I tried managing TIME by typical standards. It's now 7pm -Dinner Time. It's now 9pm -Course Room Time. It's now 11pm - Sleep Time.

Then for the next couple days -due to the fact that I didn't know the schedule or have a watch to look at, the meaning of TIME changed for me. If you want to make it through camp, you have to adjust your view of time. Waking up is whenever someone else's alarm goes off. Breakfast is when you're told it is. Course room will last as long as it lasts and then something else -maybe lunch -will occur. 

Time was essentially placed in someone else's hands. It wasn't yours to worry about. What you had to focus on was pacing yourself for each "session" be it lunch, an activity, or course room. You had no way of measuring or predicting how long or short something would be so you just had to give patience and allocate in your MIND time for things to transpire. In doing so you were able to go from session to session without getting impatient, anxious, concerned, or worried. It wasn't your problem.

I continued this mentality when I came to work on Tuesday. I'll do my day project by project, session by session, moment to moment. It worked a lot better than my usually way of eyeing the time. Normally my day runs like: It's 9:30am, better get ready to post stuff for PHB. It's 11pm I should start worrying about lunch now. It's 2pm, 1 hour until it's 3pm and I begin "shutdown for the day" time. When time isn't an issue, you focus more on WHAT YOU'RE DOING -not what you should be doing based on the current time.

Your day is separated into sessions/experiences/moments -not time. It makes it easier to "give patience" and "be present" to what's going on.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Mentor Camp: Day 4

The last day of camp was Monday. Every teen there was asking, "When do we get to go home???" I was told by someone it was 12 noon. Then it was 2pm. Then it was 3pm. The one downside to being a mentor was that we weren't as in-the-loop with the times of activities as the mentor coaches. We were just as in the dark as the mentees. 

I figured I'd shower at lunch because I knew we weren't staying around for dinner. The one event that day that had been set in stone was the "returning home ceremony" from 5-9:30pm. I KNEW there was no way I was staying past 9pm. No way. 

The day started with the teens doing their 3rd and final run around the track through the woods. Then it was breakfast. Then course room. The teens were moaning that they wanted to go home. Screw course room! 

During the 9am-1pm course room session, a lot happened. First they read aloud the track times of the mentees. "John, on Sunday your run time was 15 minutes 46 seconds. Today your run time was 13 minutes 34 seconds. You improved your run time by 2 minutes and 12 seconds. Who was running today: You're player or your opponent?" The teen would then answer the question "Player" if their time had improved and "Opponent" if they were lazier on the run. "And who will run your life after you leave here today." 90% of the kids said "Player" aka "The Victor/Hero/Leader" outright. A few initially said opponent and then were lectured by the program leaders about being obstinate. One tried being honest and said "player and opponent" -and then she was also lectured.

Over the 3 days of jogging the trail, one of my mentees had consistently improved her time by about 2 minutes a day. The other improved her run on Sunday and then tanked  on Monday by about 5 minutes. I was proud of both girls for still being under 20 minutes for the run and participating in it. 

The pride I had for them quickly wore off however when they were given yet another writing task. From their journals they wrote in the day before, the mentees were to take their 3 positive "declarations of self" and write them on a wooden board that was being handed out. The wooden board was to be split down the center with a line. On the left was to be written the positive thoughts they usually tell themselves like: "I'm great!" "I can do this" "Don't give up". And on the right side was to be written the negative thoughts: "I can't do this." "I'm not strong enough." Given that ALL of this content was simple, strait forward, AND written in their journals you'd think it'd be an easy enough copy/paste situation. Not my girls. 

Again came the dead-eyed, hazy response of "What?" "Huh?" "What do I write?"... For 30 minutes. Then after their boards were done everyone got up and the procession was led out towards a new part of the camp we hadn't been to yet. I had to go to the bathroom. I asked my 2 girls if they needed to go. They of course said "YES". I then asked my mentor coach if I could take a bathroom brake. He said there were bathrooms right next to the building we were going to, but we'd have to rush ahead of the pack so we'd have time to go and return to the group.

So as the pack started moving, I tried getting my girls towards the front so we could make it. Then about mid-way I see them slipping behind because they were walking alongside their friends. So I looked at them and motioned for them to hurry up and said, "We need to hurry otherwise we won;t be able to go." So then Alicia and Karen come walking closer behind and one of the girls from their group asks where they're going and Alicia turns and says, "I'm going with mom." 

I seriously was like, DID you just say that? I was pissed. I'm going out of my way to take you to the bathroom and you're going to make that kind of remark? So I said, "Well if you don't want to go to the bathroom you don't have to." Then she went back to being quiet and followed along. I kept thinking, I am not your mother. If you were my daughter, things would be very different. I am not your counselor, I am not your judge, I am not your lawyer -I'm your Mentor. Period.

So we went to the bathroom and returned to the group which started filing into a small building that consisted of one big room. In the room were 8 "stations" of stacked cinder blocks. "We're going to teach you how to split the wooden board you've just written your declarations on down the center -to symbolically sever your negative thoughts from your positive thoughts."

So we got into a group and kept cheering for the mentee at the front to karate chop their board as they were being shown. My mentees became split -Karen wanted to stay in her current group because her friends were in it while Alicia wanted to veer to a new group that was less crowded so she could get to the front. As I'd seen her do countless times before, Alicia caved and silently followed along with her friends. Until suddenly a mentor coach grabbed her arm and started leading her to a station that had just finished and was now completely open. She hesitated, and looked back towards the station she had just come from. Then the karate guide started showing her how to make the moves to cut the board with her hand. 2 minutes later BAM! The board was split in two by a girl that weighs less than 90 pounds. I was amazed.

Then after the boards were split, the girls handed them to me to look after as they went on to their next exercise before lunch. Fast froward to after lunch back in course room another session that lasted until about 3pm when it was announced we were officially to head out back to the high school in San Jose. My stuff was packed in my car and I was ready to go -though less certain about how to get back. One last bathroom break, and we made the walk to the car. Getting out of the parking lot was fun because the other mentors and mentees were stopped alongside so we got to talk across the cars to them while we waited for the line to move so we could pull out. Then the program managers gave us snacks. A ham sandwich, a granola bar, a fruit drink, and chips. WHY did n't they give us a snack DAY 1 on the trip up???! The snack we got leaving was not needed.

The windy road through the woods was definitely easier to handle in the daytime. The girls started getting a little car sick, but I figured they'd be ok once we got on 84 Woodside and the road straightened out. There was a slight hiccup when I thought I had gone down the wrong road but then found out it was the right road and had to turn around twice. 80 Woodside sounds like a freeway -but then there's residential homes you pass by and it gets confusing because the road is not well marked. Am I on 84? Maybe I passed it? I'll turn around. Oh woops I was on it. I'll turn around. Yup this is 84. Now I look like an idiot yet again in front of my mentees. They'll never trust me to drive them anywhere ever again...

Finally I made it to 280 heading towards San Jose!!! FREEDOM! I made it back to the high school in less than an hour. Then we got into the school library and I thought we'd head to the gym where the celebration was being held, only to find out there was another activity before that. They had all the mentees get into a circle -standing side by side- facing out from the circle. Then they made the mentors stand around them in a larger circle -facing towards them. So now you're standing face to face with a mentee that isn't yours that you sort of know because she's spoken during the course room sessions and stated some things but you've never actually talked with her before. And the program leader announces -"We are now doing a silent activity. Just look into the eyes of the person in front of you. Let them know you appreciate them. Don't speak -let them know with your eyes. Maybe they helped you at camp in some way. Maybe they coached you. Let this person know what you mean to them..." 

For the first 15 minutes it was smiling, awkward glances away, trying not to laugh... then they started playing a sappy Michael Jackson song. It was hard to stay focused. Then after about 25 minutes the mood shifted and I really tried "reading" the person in front of me. I figured it was a good time to practice being psychic. What did I "see" in the person in front of me. Mostly I saw sadness. Even when they were smiling you could see sadness. With a few people I had more of a weird spiritual experience. With some of them it was like looking in a room for something, but with others they could tell you were looking in them and they looked right back and searched in you -which was kind of off-putting.

One of my mentees wouldn't really look at me -just bored and uninterested and awkward. The other smiled and stared back at me more directly. Some of the mentees were crying and I remember trying to convey the message to them, "You're strong. You'll be fine. You'll find peace." With others who had tears in their eyes but tried smiling because they didn't know me and they didn't want sympathy or judgement I tried to convey, "It's ok. You can be sad. I won;t judge you." This was the kind of connection I had with the last girl and instead of holding back she let her tears fall more. Then the music stopped and it was announced that the person standing in front of us was the one we'd walk into the ceremony with -side by side. 

So then we were ushered out of the room -two by two -and made our way to the gym which was lined with parents, relatives, and supporters of the youth. At this point in time I knew Karen's mom would be there, but I wasn't sure about Alicia's. "Sometimes the parents don't come and the mentors end up taking them home." We were told that some of the parents really don't care about their kids and won't feel like it matters to be there when they return home. I hoped Alicia's mom would come so I could meet her.

We filed into he auditorium and took our seats. There was about 20 minutes of talking by the program leaders about the mentoring program and camp. Then the mentees were given the opportunity to stand up on stage in front of the 200 people there and say what they'd learned from camp or what they wanted to share. It was the most emotional part of the 4 days we experienced. The teens got up there and cried into the microphone saying things like, "Mom I'm sorry I've been disrespectful to you. I love you and I want to change. Please forgive me." Then they'd get off the stage, walk to their parents who were standing in the audience, and embrace them. 20 kids spoke. Then the parents were invited so speak. 5 did and said how much they'd missed their kid and how proud they were. Some said they could see the change in their behavior already and were grateful to the program. 

Then the mentees were called by name to the stage and handed certificates for completing the camp. Then it was food time. I didn't eat the food though. I had other concerns. I had accidentally left my purse in the library and was worried it would be locked up in there. I also wanted to make sure Alicia's mom was there -otherwise I'd also have to take her home. Problem 2 was solved first. I got to meet Karen AND Alicia's moms. I loved Karen's mom instantly -very positive and welcoming. Alicia's mom was a lot more stand-off-ish and didn't say much. Kind of a "why are you talking to me?" attitude. 

Then Problem 1 was solved and I was able to retrieve the check the women's group Jos and I founded had written out to the mentoring program non-profit. We had raised $1200 last year for 3 causes and this was one of them, so I presented the $400 to one of the program leaders who was very surprised and happy about it. Then I called it a night. I made it home at 9pm, got some of my stuff unpacked, and crashed. So ended the long saga that was camp. Sort of. I was sick with a runny nose and a sore throat from Monday - Thursday. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mentor Camp: Day 3

Sunday. I woke up again at 6:30pm and this time decided to get dressed and then return to my bed to rest until 7:00am rolled around. I was finally getting the hang of things. 

Same as before my mentees and I went to the recreation baseball field and got in our lines for opening stretches. We were actually the first ones from our cabin to get there. I was pretty proud. :) 

Then the mentors were again taken aside and told to resume their posts along the jogging trail as they had before to cheer the kids on as they ran. Again it was awkward clapping and cheering-alone- while standing beside a tree in the woods as teens ran by. Luckily this time round I didn't have to run the other 70% of the track like I had on Saturday to get back to camp. I got to cheat and head back the other 30% of the beginning trail I had taken to get to my post.

Then it was breakfast time! We had pancakes and bacon. And I hate 2 cups of hot chocolate. And orange juice. I had learned that the wilderness waits for no one and on this program's random schedule you didn't know how many hours it would be before your next meal or what was coming up ahead. Eat until you are entirely full.

My girls -as I feel like calling them now -were sitting with me and their group of friends at the breakfast table asking me what we were going to do today. I said, "It's going be mostly course room today. There's no outdoor activity that I know of, but we might get a break to go back to our cabins later. But it's going to be mostly course room." They moaned and complained. It's like giving a little kid a shot so they get better when they're sick. You feel bad because they seem to be in pain, but you ultimately know it's good for them. 

Course room started at 9:15am. We were warned that Sunday was going to be when the real work happened and it was going to be very emotionally draining. The session opened with everyone (mentors and mentees) getting around in a circle around the corners of the room. At the center of the room was a smaller circle outlined in masking tape. The lights were turned down and we were told that a scenario would be called out and if that scenario applied to you, then you walked from the edge of the room into the smaller circle. Then some people from the circle might be asked to comment. Then they would be asked to return to their place in the bigger circle. Besides answering when asked, the activity was to be completely silent. 

The first question asked was: "Who here has a pet that isn't a cat or a dog?" 20 people stepped into the circle. 10 were asked to say what their pet was. I didn't realize how popular turtles were... 

Another question: "Who here was born outside of the United States?" 15 people stepped into the circle. 70% were from Mexico. One was from Canada. Another was from Spain.

Question: "Who here has a relative or close family member that they haven't seen in for over a couple of years?" 25% of the room crammed into the circle. Most of them had fathers they hadn't seen -some since they the day they were born.

Question: "Who here has recently had a close friend or family member pass away?" 10 people went into the circle. All answered. For some it was a parent. For 3 it was a younger brother or sister. For 1 person it was a best friend. 

Question: "If someone in your close family has abused drugs or alcohol, step into the circle." I stepped in but was not asked to speak. Mostly "parents" were mentioned. Most did marijuana. For a few it was cocaine. For some it was alcohol.

Question: "If you have witnessed a member of your family being harmed in a physical way, step into the circle." 15 teens and 1 mentor stepped in. "Siblings" were mostly the answer. For a few it was "mother". 

Question: "If you have physically caused harm to yourself or attempted to commit suicide step into the circle." Only about 6 people stepped in -one of which was a teen named Carl that had already been pretty open about his multiple attempts to kill himself. 

I noticed my mentees were giggling in their small group of friends across the room from me. My initial reaction was, They better not be making fun of the kids in the circle. Or purposely not paying attention to this. Especially since my girl Alicia had stepped into the circle when she answered "Mexico" for being born outside the U.S. In my own mind, because I still didn't entirely know the full story of what my 2 girls have and haven't been through -I was watching and praying each time that neither would step into the circle for any of these questions asked. 

Question: "If you feel like God or a higher power has taken a vacation from your life and doesn't care about you, step in the circle." 20 people! Including a 50 year old mentor I considered spiritual and possibly Christian. Really?! Come on!... It did bug me. And then to see the hoards of kids who you then have to acknowledge feel completely unloved and uncared for by God. It hurt. 

Last Question: "If you have been emotionally or physically abused, step into the circle." 25 out of the 49 teens stepped into the circle. 

"If you have only been emotionally abused, step out of the circle." 15 still standing. 

"If you have been sexually abused, stay in the circle." 8 teen girls. 2 female mentors. 1 male mentor.

The girls in the circle were crying and holding onto one another, weeping of the other's shoulder.

They were then asked to return to the bigger circle. The lights were turned off and we were asked to lie on the floor and do calm breathing. We were told to relax.

After 15 minutes of laying on the ground, we were then paired with one of our mentees and asked to walk around outside for 20 minutes to talk and check in. I got Alicia. We proceeded to walk outside and I was handed a sheet of paper with questions about some of the main concepts the course had taught so far to see how much the mentee had retained/understood -which I thought was a stupid and inappropriate request being made by the program given the more significant conversations that should be taking place at that time.

But I asked my girl, "Do you know what it means to Honor Yourself As Your Word?" AGAIN for the 235738295328 zillionth time my girl says, "Huh?" Not caring or paying attention -just playing dumb. So, at this point, with my patience running thin, I ask her a common sense question, "Well what does it sound like it means? 'Honor your word' -what does that usually mean?" "And she says, "Oh like being honest and doing what you say you're going to do." And I answer, "Well there you go. Honor yourself as your word means keeping your word." 

Further conversations like that one ensued -until I gave up and decided to stop asking. Then as we were standing off to the side by some trees I asked, "So have you ever done drugs or anything -you haven't had you?" I honestly doubted that she had. I was about 70% certain that she hadn't at this point. 

"Yah I've smoked a couple times." 


"Really? Wow. Ok. Well what happened?" 

Mentee: "Well I was with my cousin once and I decided to try it and I also got drunk. I've also done it a couple times with my friends on the weekends." 

Me: "Do you do it anymore."

Mentee: "No, not since my friends haven't been hanging around." 

Then once again it was awkwardness and kind of silence between us. She asked me when lunch was and what was coming up next. I guess she was bored -which kind of surprised and disheartened me given everything we'd witnessed less than 20 minutes ago. Out of pure desperation I asked her, "So did you cry or anything when all that was going on?" "She looks at me in subtle, conceited way and says, "No." God forbid. 

"Well did you feel anything? I mean did you at least feel sorry for them or something?" Is my girl some sort of heartless robot?

"Yah I felt bad for them I guess..."

Shoot me. Just shoot me. I remember shortly after this point a thought occurred to me: How do you teach someone the value of life when they don't even value their own?

The course room opened again and we walked back into the room and resumed our seats -which had been slightly re-arranged. The format for this portion of the session was the same as what we the mentors had been taught through back in November. The mentees were asked to recall a time:

Between the ages of Now and 13
Between the ages of 10-13
Between the ages of 7-10
Between the ages of 2-6

A time when everything was going good and then something happened and ruined it. The happiness went away and you were impacted in a negative way. 

NONE of these times when given 10 minutes to visually recall these moments with eyes closed did my mentee ACTUALLY DO the assignment. I'm pretty sure she was half dozing. Each time her eyes opened and I was holding the pen to her journal asking her to tell me what memory she'd found so I could write it for her as the program had asked all I got was, "Oh,...I couldn't think of anything." So I got used to just asking her on the spot. 

She my 14 year old mentee gave 4 really interesting stories:

-Between the ages of 2-6: Her parents broke up and she was sent to live with her father's sister and her cousins in California. It was then about a year later that she found out her dad had gotten a girlfriend who then gave birth to a girl and a boy -half siblings my mentee later met. She said she liked her dad's girlfriend and met her family. Then her mom came to California and I think moved in with her aunt and cousins. Then her mom and dad started talking again and eventually he broke up with his girlfriend and got back with her mom. They now live together and she shares a room with her younger brother and sister who are 6 and 8 years old. 

It's a lot of stuff for a young kid to take in. 

We were asked to then ask the mentee: "How did you feel/handle the situation?" To which she replied, "I was scared and afraid at first when we were moving and stuff and then I was mad at my dad for a while." 

-Between the ages of 7-10: Her dad went out one night with her younger brother to a restaurant. Her dad started to get drunk so he called her mom to come pick up the son so he could stay and continue to drink. Then late at night he asked a woman at the restaurant to drive him home. She dropped him off a mile from his house, but he was too drunk to know where he was and got lost. Her mom tried calling him but he wouldn't answer his phone. Then they found out the police had picked him up for illegally crossing the street in traffic, and her mom and she got in the car to go pick him up. 

Me: "How did you feel during that?" 
Mentee: "I was scared and worried -and angry at my dad."
Me: "Why do you think he went out of his way to get drunk like that? Was he stressed over something?"
Mentee: "Yah probably raising the younger kids." 
Me: "And what did you think about your mom in that situation?"
Mentee: "I thought she was strong and I kind of admired her."

-Between the ages of 11-13: She went out on her bike from her house with her friend. They rode 10 minutes to a nearby liquor store to get some chips. She then rode back. Her mom saw her come in and was worried and asked her where she'd gone. She then told her mom that she was at her friend's house and her friend's mom was there. Unfortunately for her, her amiga had told her mom they had rode to the store -so when the 2 mom's checked in with one another, my mentees mom found out she had been lied to. Then my mentee got in trouble and wasn't allowed to go out for 2 weeks. 

Me: "So what did you learn from that?"
Mentee: "To tell my mom where I'm going and what I'm up to?"
Me: But do you tell her what you do -like when you smoked pot with your cousin?"
Mentee: "Yah I told her about that. She didn't really care since it was with family."
Me: "But did you tell her about your friends that you smoked with?"
Mentee: "No. I know she would be angry if I did."

-Between the ages of 13-Now: Her first day of high school she was supposed to get picked up by her cousins (16 and 17 years old). She waited 3 hours outside the school and they didn't come. She called them and they said they were lost so she had to try and find out where they were parked. She said she had been kind of frightened and worried during the experience. 

Me: "What did you learn?" 
Mentee: "Always tell people where I'm going and where to pick me up." 

Then we were asked to find common traits between the 4 stories:

-Involved family
-She was put in situations often outside of her control and kind of taken along for the ride
-Often scared
-Had to grow up fast
-Resented father 
-Learned to be more independent
-Learned adults don't always have it together or do what's right

We were then asked to find the common Theme of that person's behavior/attitude toward themselves: 

-The need to be strong and tough so she can handle life (especially since it can be frightening and unpredictable) 

-Being quiet because speaking won't change anything and no one will listen anyway

For there we got the Theme of Her Life: "I have been acting invisible because I am scared."

Then each mentee was asked to stand in their spot and proclaim their theme to the entire group. My mentee and 2 other members of her group of friends went last. Hiding until they were called out by name. I realized at this point how much I had in common with my mentee. The only difference was the way we handled things: I was less self-confident and more introverted so I thought everyone was better than me. She looked down on/judged other people silently -maybe out of jealousy.

Then the mentees were asked to pick out 3 things they want to "be" in the future: like "brave" or "honest".

It SEEMS like any easy thing to do. But AGAIN my girl asked, "Huh?" "What are we doing?" It's like she's high or drunk but I know she's sober... So AGAIN I re-explained things. Twice. In a row. Then a mentor coach came by and threw out some suggestions they then quickly wrote down. I think my mentees just refuse to think for themselves. It's like a game. How clever can you be by acting stupid so everyone around you will do the work for you. 

Then each mentee was asked to stand up on their chair and assert to the room what their 3 new goals of being were: "I am Jessica Power and I am Self-Assured, Spiritual, and Courageous." -To which the entire room would reply, "Yes you are!" and the mentee would then say, "I know I am!"

Some of the teens actually cried during this. Some needed their themes to be readjusted. A lot of them spoke their statement as more of a question: "I am Jessica Power and I'm strong, independent, and creative?..." Then they'd have to say it again until you could FEEL what they were saying was true.

My 2 mentees and 1 of their friends were the last 3 standing. They whispered their words. They stared at the statement they'd written out on the paper in their hands. They were bored and uninterested. Dispassionate. Mentee #2 finished first among the 3. I've had to admire her from a distance because during this session she'd been given over to a mentor coach while I worked one-on-one with Alicia.

Alicia had to restate her statement about 5 times until she mustered enough power to get the words out somewhat confidently. Their friend was the last standing.

Then it was lunch time. Burritos for lunch.

Afterwards there was more course room and some more lessons were taught. During this time my girls proceeded to pass notes back and forth and tap their feet in boredom. 

Then after about 4 hours it was dinner time. I don't remember what we had but I do remember that after I ate I went to take a shower and the bathroom was completely empty. Hallelujah!!! I took 10 minutes in the shower. It was great. Then I rushed back because the next course session was beginning. 

8pm the course room filled and the mentees were told to write down the initial, negative themes of their life on a piece of paper. We then left the course room and went out into the woods to a seating area that had a bonfire at the center of it. The mentees then had the chance to circle round the fire and throw their past into the flames.

Afterwards we returned to the course room which had been converted into a dance hall. My immediate reaction: Oh crap, I hope nobody pressures me into dancing... 2 minutes later one of the program leaders grabs my arm and tries to drag me out of the chair I found saying, "Come on! Let's dance! Lead by example." Which was stupid because NONE of the mentees had any trouble finding the dance floor. At one point I saw one girl place both arms on a table, back her ass up while another girl grabbed her hypes and proceeded to grind against her while 2 boys stood and watched. No troubles at all stepping onto the dance floor at all...

I got up and wandered over to another side of the room. Then rejoined 5 other mentors who were sitting out as well. The problem is attempting explaining this to people. People think you don;t want to dance because you're being "shy". I'm not that shy. Not as much as I used to be anyway. I'll get up and do jumping jacks in front of everyone if asked. There have been times when I was shy and sat out. There have been times when I've "let go" and joined in the dance. But during the times I did dance, I never enjoyed it. It has always been forced.

I compared it to this:

Say I offer you brussel spouts and you try them and decide you genuinely don't like them. 

2 days later if a group of friends peer pressures you into the brussel sprouts again -would you? Maybe. But would you like the brussel sprouts? NO.

Is it possible that you could choose to become a master chef and learn what ingredients go into making a great brussel sprout dish and then create something you actually like? Yes. But it would have to happen over time by your own choice for it to be enjoyed. 

Same goes for dancing.

At 11:00pm we were then told to return to our cabins for lights out at 11:15. My girls decided they wanted to shower. I handed them over to another mentor who was going to the bathroom and called it a night. 

That's how you survive camp. You go and go and go and go. Then when you know you can't be there to watch over your mentees you let another mentor take over. It's like tag teaming. Since my girls were in a group of 7 friends, there were 3 mentors between us to watch over them. Sometimes I would lead 3 or 4 girls back to the cabin, sometimes I'd hand both my 2 over to another mentor. Just as long as everyone was on the same page, everything was fine. 

It was also like that for supplies. 

"I need soap, does anyone have soap they can spare." 
"Yah I have an extra bar I brought that you can have." 

"Does anyone have extra shampoo?"

"Does anyone have a hairband?" 

"Does anyone have an extra blanket?"

Maybe it's because 80% of the people at camp were female -making 80% of the mentors WOMEN, but everyone was taken care of. Everything was shared. Saturday night when I got my bed situated and was about to go to call it a night another mentor came over and gave me an extra blanket just because she thought I might not be warm enough with mine. I borrowed Bonnie's hair tie. Brenda borrowed one of the extra conditioner bottles I brought. Vy offered to take my empty dinner plate and Linda's after we'd finished eating. Padma gave me her marshmallow at the camp fire because she doesn't eat gluten or sugar or something. 

We were always sharing and always making sure everyone had what they needed. It really started to feel like a community at the end.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mentor Camp: Day 2

I awake at 6:30am (technically I woke up at 5:45am and stayed in bed waiting for 6:30am). I got up off the cot I'd slept in at the nurses office and was relieved that the nausea had passed. Now I had 30 minutes before camp started to get my luggage out of my car and into my cabin. Jessica helped me figure out which cabin I was in and a Mentor Coach named Greg walked with me to the cabin so I didn't get lost. Tired, freezing cold, and very hungry I pulled my pillow, suit case, and bathroom bag out of the trunk of my car int he designated parking area and rolled it up the steps and across the small bridge to Cabin 6.

I dumped it all in front of the empty bottom bunk at and started ransacking my suitcase for clean clothes. I made my way to the girl's bathroom/showers and changed in a bathroom stall. The bathroom at this point was filled to capacity with teens shouting, "Are you almost done! I want my turn!" Only 4 showers. Only 5 minutes granted to take one. I skipped it. Just put on new clothes and made my way outside. 

I thought we'd eat breakfast first. But the mentors and mentees were quickly herded into an open baseball field. We got into single-file lines based on what cabin we were in. Then it was time for morning stretches. This lasted about 20 minutes. I was worried I would either get sick again or pass out given I essentially hadn't had food since lunch time the previous day. But by some miracle, I felt pretty good. My hands were numb and in pain because of the cold, but otherwise I was feeling pretty energized and ready to go. 

I thought we would have to do the morning run, but in the middle of stretches the mentors were tapped and brought away to the beginning of the start line for the race. We were told we would be placed along the race line at specific points and we were planted there to encourage the kids on as they did their run. So we were led up the steep, woven path through the trees until an open spot became available and mentor after mentor was planted in place. It's really hard to cheer on a bunch of teens you don;t know who are running down a path you've only seen 30% of at 7:30am in the morning.

When the last of the teens went by the mentors followed and slowly accumulated at the end of the pack. We then proceeded to run the rest of the race -alongside the slowest mentees at the end. It was a pretty hard track to run -and pretty dangerous if you consider all the downhills covered in loose gravel and the random roots of trees peaking up underfoot that we had to run over.

We made it to the end of the line and it was breakfast time. Sausage, home-style potatoes, and a some hot chocolate. I didn't trust eating a banana. Then at 9am it was "course room" time. The heads of the program spoke on a couple of principles they wanted the kids to know/understand. I think they covered "Player v. Opponent" at that time. 

-Player = Positive Internal Thoughts (a.k.a. You're True, Virtuous Self)

-Opponent = Negative Internal Thoughts (a.k.a. You're Nagging Doubts and Viceful Tendencies)

My mentees were forced to sit by me -otherwise neither of them wood have and they would have clustered together with their friends. They were both bored, uninterested, and kept asking, "When is this over?",  "What's after this?, and "When's lunch?" (I found the last one amusing since we had just had breakfast).

At around noon we were given 30 minutes to eat lunch in the cafeteria. Lunch of course consisted of the only thing lunches ever consist of: sandwiches. I ate mine and got another hot chocolate. I sat with my mentees and their 4 friends. The girls were all complaining that the course room sucked, they didn't like sandwiches, and none of them were going to participate on the upcoming ropes course.

At 12:30pm we were piled into the back of a van and driven down the road to the base of Gulch Road. From there, across the street, I could see a clearing in the woods and knew that was the path we were going to have to go down to get to the ropes course. The 7 girls stayed in the group and talked amongst themselves as more mentees and mentors were brought in vans from the camp to the spot. Then we were finally led across the street, separated into groups of 3, and taken to the different ropes course stations. The first station involved walking across a tight rope 5 feet off the ground while holding onto a long rope tied to the tree you start walking from to get to the one across the way. We were all "spotters" for the person walking. About 70% of the mentees made it across. Both my girls tried, but neither one made it. I was kind of impressed. Out of the 7 girls, only 1 refused to walk across the tight rope. She was pretty stubborn, and firm in her position -even though she went out of her way to coax her friends into walking the rope.

Then came station 2. Between 2 trees were placed 2 large beams -one was 30 feet up and the other 60 feet up. On the left tree were steps leading up to both beams. The mentees were harnessed in and tied to a tether so if they fell they'd be ok. Out of our group of 15 mentees, the first 8 went quickly and nervously up the trees -a few even making up all the way up to the highest beam. Then to my amazement my mentee Alicia climbed to the 30 foot beam, walked all the way across, touched the tree on the other side, and then jumped down. Meanwhile my second mentee wouldn't go up and the girl who had refused the first tight rope only walked up the steps towards the first beam, then backed down and decided not to go for it. All in all I was impressed that all the mentees and participated on some level during the ropes course despite initially saying they wouldn't at all.

At 5pm we rode cramped in the back of a van back up to camp. I thought it would be dinner time. Nope. It was course room time again. The course room session lasted from 5:15pm-6:30pm and in my eyes was a complete waste of time. ALL the mentees were tired, falling asleep, hungry, and unfocused. Justin Timberlake could have been performing in front of them and they wouldn't have given a damn. Everything went in one ear and out the other. The only thing of worth was the beginning of the session when mentors AND mentees were allowed to stand up and acknowledge someone in the room. Some mentors commended their mentees on the things they achieved during the ropes course and some mentees got up and thanked mentors and fellow mentees for supporting them.

Then it was dinner time and spaghetti was served -which pleased everyone greatly. The girls asked what was going to happen after dinner and I said, "More course room stuff". They groaned so loudly... And started complaining about course room and saying they were tired and that it was boring. I on the other hand was focused on eating dinner quickly, heading up to the cabin, and taking a shower. We were only given 1 hour to eat and do anything else. I had 30 minutes to plop in and out of the bathroom and get back to the course room on time.The bathroom was crowded and showers were already filled. I panicked a little bit, but then a shower opened up and it was go time! It's like those team members who change the wheels during a Nascar race. I was in and out in about 8 minutes. Then I bolted back to course room with 5 minutes to spare. I felt so much better and more awake. 

Then from 8pm -11pm course room continued and different lessons were taught to the teens. I think at this point they covered. The Morning Run. They had the teens draw a map of the race track as they could remember it and what their pace was over the run (whether they were running or walking). Then they were asked to write words by their "walking" and their "running" paces stating what their internal thoughts were. "Why did you start walking here?" Most of the thoughts were: "I'm sore." "I'm tired." "I don't want to do this..." But listening to the reasons for "running" were pretty interesting. "Well I was walking but then Frank caught up to me and I didn't want him to make fun of me for being slow so I started running." The thoughts were then put into categories called "AM" or "FM" thoughts. AM = Against Movement, FM = Forward Movement. Which thoughts motivate you and which thoughts stop you. 

During this entire lesson my 2 mentees proceeded to pass notes to their friends sitting nearby, widdle their hair in the hands, stair up at the ceiling... and when it came time to write about their run in their journals, my mentee Alicia kept redrawing the path over and over on several pieces of paper trying to fill time. She took FOREVER!!! to write down her pace. She kept asking, "What are we supposed to be doing?" Not out of genuine interest, but because she either didn't know what was happening because she hadn't been listening or what seemed to be more of the case just wanted to bide time or get someone else to basically do it for her.

In honesty, I became somewhat disappointed in, annoyed with, and tired of Alicia. It just bothers me when people act like that. She acts "practical" minded and silently judges anyone who does anything different by mentally calling them "weird" or "uncool" but giver her an assignment that involves adding 2+2 to equal 4 and she'll look at you like you just asked her to figure out the circumference of the planet Jupiter. You can't act like you know everything and then act like you know nothing and expect me to believe you in either way. And you have a BRAIN. A God-given, full functional brain. Stop acting like you're stupid or inarticulate. 

UGGGHHHHZZZZZ!!! For the first 3 hours I just accepted this pattern, but after about 7 hours in the course room with this behavior coming up over and over again for each and every writing assignment... It got old. Very quickly. 

Then at 10:45pm were told we had 15 minutes before lights out. Get your P.J.s on and go to sleep. It was at this point my mentees told me they planned to take a shower. OK... "It better be a fast one." 

I proceeded to make my bed, with my many many layers of warm bed sheets. I slept wonderfully and was warm and completely unconscious throughout the night. A complete 180 from my first night. So ended Day 2: Saturday.

Mentor Camp: Day 1

Last Friday I embarked on a 4 day trip to the YMCA Camp Jones Gulch in San Francisco for the mentoring program for at-risk youth I joined fall of 2013. 49 mentees (teens) and 20-something mentors.

Friday morning (Departure Day) was spent with me scrambling all over my apartment trying to get stuff ready. It was weird, because I'm used to traveling and can usually get my stuff together in about 10 minutes. But that day I was stressed, nervous, and racing to get my stuff together. Part of the problem was that I had to do laundry and the gate to get to the laundry room was locked so I had to go to the front office and tell them to unlock it. Then they looked confused like, "What? You don;t have a key?" And I said, "No", but was thinking: I've been here for 2 years now. At what point did you give me or anyone else here a key. In the past when I was locked out, I had to wait another day or 2 before I had the time to do my laundry again. And then I would just have to pray the gate was unlocked. What kind of apartment complex is this? You say your residence can get laundry, but then lock them out from doing laundry. Jerks...

Clothes were finished and packed. I had to decide whether to bring a sleeping bag or a pile of sheets and blankets. Since I didn't have a sleeping bag I opted for sheets. Really thick, warm sheets. Then I went to go load my car and realized: I have 2 things filling up my trunk already. Crap! So I got out the stacked filing system of scrapbook pages my step-mom gave me and lugged that upstairs and plopped it in my apartment. Then I looked at the other stuff: 2 plastic bags of clothes waiting for me to drop them off in a donation/recycling bin at the nearest gas station. So I figured I'd drop off the clothes when I went to go fill up with gas and kill two bird with one stone. 

Then I got to the gas station -car loaded and ready to travel. But there was no donation/recycling bin. CRAP!!! At this point it's 12:30pm and I told the mentoring program leaders that I'd be at the high school to help out in the process of kids getting sorted around 12:40pm. So I quickly drive around looking for a donation/recycling bin and finally find one. Then it's off to the high school. 

The teens were told to bring their stuff (suitcases, pillows, sleeping bags...) to the high school gym. From their ALL of their items would be sorted through so that any weapons, drugs, alcohol, or other items can be identified and removed so it didn't come to camp. Cell phones and other electronics were also confiscated. Then the kids were picked up and sent over to a nearby church. At the church a body search was done to make sure they weren't smuggling anything not allowed in.

This is where I set up shop. I arrived at the church and was told to guard the area outside of the body scan rooms. I was to make sure none of the kids who hadn't been checked yet went wandering away anywhere. At this point the teens were pissed because some of them had had their cell phones taken away -which they weren't happy about and many of them didn't know a body scan was part of the process. The whole process was long, tedious, and worse than the TSA. They'll never complain about airplane rides again. 

Then after everything was checked they were sent into the church room to sit and wait for all the other kids to come in. I thought we'd depart for camp at 3pm but around 5pm the last of the teens (including my 2 mentees) showed up for the body scan. A problem arose with one of my mentees -Alicia -because the night before she had asked me if she could bring snacks in my car on the ride to camp. I told her, "I don't have a problem with you bringing snacks in my car as long as they aren't messy. But the snacks may be confiscated by the program managers -so let them know the snacks are only for the ride up to camp and not for camp itself." Snacks were the items not allowed for camp, but the mentors were also told we could bring snacks up to camp in our cars. So there she was having her snacks confiscated and I was brought into the room to clarify what was going on. I told them, "It's ok she's just bringing the cheetos and juice to eat in the car. She can throw them away once she gets to camp. Then one of the program managers said: "As of right now, these snacks count as contraband. They are not allowed." And I was like, Seriously??? How big of an a**hole do you have to be not to allow snacks on a trip up to camp. Especially since it was 5pm and the girl may not have had lunch yet.  

So then my mentee Alicia was pissed at me because in her mind I had "lied" to her about being able to bring snacks in the car. All I could think was: I wish I had brought snacks and put them in my car beforehand just in case something like this happened. So when I went into the church room and was waiting for her to come in and I saw her enter the room and I waved at her to come sit by me -her mentor -guess what happened? She openly locked eyes with me and veered off away from my seat and found her friends on the other side of the room and purposely sat with them. Ditched again. For like the 1328645th time by her. Granted she has 5 of her friends in the program, but still... 

Then Ade -a guest host/speaker/program leader from New York came up and spoke about possibilities and encouraged the kids to be open over the camping session so they can make good changes in their lives. 5:45pm we're finally dismissed to leave. I get in the car with the girls and head out. I've got my music, I've got my map, I've got enough gas in my car, I've got the mentees -I'm good to go.

The directions on the map went as follows: 

1. Go head down 280 from San Jose towards San Francisco for about 40-50 minutes (depending on traffic). 


2. Take a left down 84 Woodside towards La Honda. 


3. Pass the city of La Honda. 

NOT EASY. There are 2 small "towns" you pass through before La Honda. They're out in the woods so it's not easy to distinguish the names of the towns you are passing through at 6pm as the light is dimming. I kept thinking "Oh, this must be La Honda". Then 5 minutes later, "Oh wait, that wasn't La Honda, this must be La Honda!"Then I actually came to La Honda. I could tell it was the right town because there was a fire station and a small diner with "La Honda" in their names.

4. Turn left 2 minutes after passing La Honda down Pescadero Rd. 

REALLY REALLY NOT EASY. Pescadero has to do with "pescado" which are fish in Spanish. So I kept looking for fishy, Pescadero road. So I'm weaving through the woods at night in the dark, kind of worried about getting there soon, straining to see the tiny road signs along the way and up comes one big sign that says: "Turn Left to Go to Blah Blah Blah Camp Site". In my mind I'm like, That was NOT the name of our campsite, but it IS 2 minutes away from the town I'm pretty sure is La Honda. So after 20 wasted minutes of going back and forth and realizing that the WAS Pescadero road -I just couldn't see the sign, I turn down Pescadero road. 

5. Turn Left on Gulch Road. 


The road up to Camp Jones Gulch at 6:45pm was windy, tight turned, and dark. I started getting really, really nauseous. The mentees had entirely lost their faith in my ability to find the camp. And then I passed up the turn for Gulch road. CRAPS!!! So for the 357329 zillionth time I turned around and headed down Gulch road. Finally made it to camp. Ubber tired.

So we headed to the main hall -I kept my stuff in the car not knowing yet which cabin I would be in. Then dinner was served at 7pm and I had chicken, scalloped potatoes, a banana, and some lemonade. It was hard eating because the nausea was starting to get pretty intense, but I managed to swallow it all down. Until 5 minutes later when out on the wooden balcony I suddenly leaned over the railing and upchucked my entire dinner. I wasn't sure what to do, but someone nearby alerted "Jessica" the Wellness Nurse to come and help me. So Jessica walked Jessica up to the main office cabin and into the small nurses quarters. Then after 30 minutes of staying close to the bathroom I threw up again. Lemonade was a REALLY bad choice of beverage that night. 

So I was told to lay down on the mattress/cot they had in the room until I felt better. 9pm -still shaking and feeling horribly nauseous. 10pm -I really want to get to my cabin and be with the program, but I also don't want to throw up again because I'm still really nauseous. 11pm -it's sleep time for the camp and I face the reality that I'm going to spend my first night at camp in the nurses office.

The only blanket Jessica could get me was the bottom bedding sheet to cover the mattress. So I slept in my jeans and clung to my warm coat with my life because the temperature out in the woods dropped to about 30 degrees that night. I was also awakened to the sound of a baby crying because of the the mentor coaches who was staying at the main office brought her 6 month old son with her to the camp. 

So that was my Day 1. A long, rather depressing way of starting off the camping trip. :(

DBV 1-21-14

"With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith." – 2 Thessalonians 1:11 (NIV)

Thoughts: There's a lot being said in this sentence. 

1. Pray to be worthy of His calling. Meaning that you should consciously seek out the life God has intended you for.

2. Pray that He will bring that life into reality as well as every spiritual instinct you have to genuinely do good. It's interesting because most people assume that "desire" is something selfish that people want for themselves and crave deeply in a shameful way. But there is a part of people that also deeply desires "good" things -like love, patience, courage, and helping people. This sentence is talking about the God-given desires, not the man-driven longings. 

3. Pray that with His strength, every action you commit that is prompted by faith is seen through and comes into being. This can be a vision, a goal, or even something small and simple that you struggle with achieving. As long as it comes by faith, it can be done through His strength. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

DBV 1-15-14

"What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to Him?" – Deuteronomy 4:7 (NIV)

Thoughts: You know it's interesting from what I've learned and gathered about what happens when a person worships external beings outside of God.Whether you're communicating with or worshiping gods/goddesses, demons, ghosts, nature spirits... It never ends well. It's not that these things don't exist -it's that they do. In some form or another, there are spiritual entities that can and sometimes do answer the calls of those who make sacrifices of alters of worship to these things. People make requests of them to get them more money or power or pleasure in life and sometimes these entities do. But at no point do the entities not expect or demand something in return. A sacrifice from the person always has to come first. And the things these entities bring are always superficial -nothing like peace, grace, hope, strength. And never do they bring Love.

God on the other hand always seems to be the opposite. He won't always give you what you ask for. Instead He'll give you what you need. He also demands you to sacrifice nothing first before He gives, but instead gives from Himself freely to everyone. He sacrifices first. He makes the request of you. You choose whether to have Him in your life or not. God is the only God that looks after and loves people whether they worship Him or not.

The Speech I Gave Today

I gave the blog I wrote in May titled "Mother's Day...and Night....and Morning" for a speech this morning. It went well. 
I was torn about what to speak on yesterday. I was leaning towards all the Facebook posts my mom has been making lately and (not mentioning her by name) using what she said as an example on how to handle a friend's inappropriate or bigoted posts on Facebook or speaking in person. But it seemed too harsh. Then I reread the post from May and was surprised by how hilarious it was. I think at the time it was written in sarcasm and frustration but now it's just kind of hilarious. So I decided to go with that. 

What surprised me the most about what I'd written was the moral I wrote at the end of the story back in May. It seems to resonate with the struggles I've been having with my mom lately and serves as a reminder to be there for people -especially when it's hard to. 

"This is what Family means. Because anybody can fill out a stupid card they buy for $2 at the store and throw in some cutesy Mother's Day gift that means nothing, but how many kids would go out of their way to open their meager home to be openly scrutinized and altered by a parent?

Family is shown in the moments when it's an inconvenient pain to be there for someone you love, but you do it anyway because you love them. It means opening yourself up to the exaggerations and the criticisms because you love that person regardless of how they see you or present you to others. It means Being There for someone when they Need You. Family is shown in the moments when you need Family.

Be there for people. Be there for Friends. Be there for Family. Be there for Strangers. Be there to love the people around you because they need you to -even if they're sometimes a pain to put up with." 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

DBV 1-14-14

"For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” – 1 Peter 3:12 (NIV)

Thoughts: God is like a Father -He pays close attention to His children and looks after them. I usually get the sense that God is more indifferent to "evil" people for the most part though, because He's more focused on the good. Not to say that He is indifferent to their actions and what the harm they cause others, just more focused on the well-being of His children than what those we are damned are up to given that in the end they won't be His problem to worry about and they'll end up where they belong. 

Morning Activity

In general not much has been going on with the ghost activity. I've grown accustomed to it for the most part. I still hear the ringing sound and feel a presence before I go to sleep but it doesn't bother me. It's actually just kind of annoying. 

But then for some reason between 5:30am and 6:20am (when I officially get up) the activity increases. Today was weird. Ears ringing. Felt a presence. And then I actually heard what sounded like shuffling.moving around on the floor beside my bed. Then at one point I heard someone breathing out. I couldn't tell if it was my own breathing or something else because it happened so quickly I wasn't sure. Then I almost started to doze off again and heard a "click" snapping sound in the living room. 

The other thing I've been experiencing in these moments is my arms going "numb". It's almost as if they're falling asleep, but there's no tingling feeling like you usually get. Your arm just goes numb. You can still move it and the feeling comes back, but then a couple minutes later it goes "numb" again. 

This stuff gets intense every once in a while when it's that blatant or clear that something weird is going on. Oh well.