Emotional: Ode to Mrs. Z

Warning: I am about to be really emotional and sappy.
Mrs. Z, The director of Camp We Can Do until 2010, has been on my mind a lot lately. RIP. I miss her so much and she was a major influence in my life…

Imagine: Being an 11 year old girl with severe physical limitations due to Severe Kyphosis/Scoliosis and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Imagine feelings like you don’t fit in anywhere and that even though you have friends, you constantly question whether your existence is just a burden on your loved ones.

Imagine: Starting a new scary adventure; a summer camp, Something I had never done before aside from daily VBS for a week at Church. Even though, I knew that it was for Special Needs individuals like me, I still was stressing. I remember going shopping with mom for summer clothes; constantly coming out of the dressing room in each article of clothing, asking the same repetitive question “Does this hide my curve? Does my stomach in this? Do I look ‘Normal,” and God forbid if something I liked didn’t look good; Talk about “Dressing room Meltdown!” of locking myself in the dressing room, beating myself up by hitting myself in the face, on the arms, crying my eyes out because I just wanted to be “normal.”
The first day of Camp finally arrived and I was so nervous and scared, I didn’t socialize with anyone, I kept to myself, and didn’t want to participate in any of the activities except kitchen and arts and crafts. When the camp group activity (where the whole camp got together to participate), Mrs. Z Noticed I was not participating and when she tried to get me to participate, I cried like a little baby brat about “I don’t wanna,” and “What if they laugh at me?” It’s like come on, they have special needs too. Why was I so self-absorbed? So ignorant? I am so embarrassed was back then. Mrs. Z let me skip that first day group activity, but we had a “come to ” talk where she explained that I would eventually have to participate and try to make friends, that no one would make fun of me and if they did, they would deal with her. Thanks to her and camp we can do, I came so much out of my shell (at least there) and did things, I never would’ve done anywhere. I did the talent shows, the girl makeovers; I made wonderful friendships, and even volunteered as a counselor after I turned 18. Had I not met Mrs. Z who pushed me to realize I was not limited by my disability, that I just had to find an alternate route and the statement/Motto of Camp We can do, “Yes We Can!” Had I not met Mrs. Z and the wonderful staff who were encouraging and supportive of the campers, I don’t know how I would’ve turned out. Yes, my mom always encouraged me, but I always figured “She’s my mom. She has to say that.” Coming from others, it’s a confidence builder? I 100% confident and in who I am? No. I still have some work to do, but without Camp We Can Do, (and Shriners in St Louis later on), I don’t know what my life would’ve been? I don’t think I would’ve flourished the way I have since starting Camp We Can Do and meeting Mrs. Z. She pushed me out of my comfort zones to explore other aspects life. I wish she was still around to witness my life and accomplishments, but I know she is watching over me, and hopefully I am making her proud. God bless you Mrs. Z, (and I am tearing up writing this), I miss you so much! There is so much I wish I could just talk with you about. I love you and hopefully, I can make you so proud of me. ❤ ❤ 

There once was a lady who was sweet and kind, She worked at Camp We Can Do, For quite some time. Her name was Evelyn Zehner,But to the campers at Camp we can do, Her name was “Mrs. Z” And she was loved by every camper, Including me. She never saw a handicap or Disability, She only saw children, who wanted to have fun, But could also be held accountable for every misdeed. She treated us all “normal”, Never made excuses for us.But loved us so much, that was evident. We were all her babies, Like a parent, Even when we were misbehaving, she still loved us. Every Morning we were given “good morning hugs,” Right as we got in the door, running into her open arms,We loved our “Mrs. Z,” Sometimes, we’d get in trouble just to go sit in the office with her; Or others, like me,Would just sneak away from group and peek into her office, Until she would catch me, I can still hear her saying,“Okay Jamie, I need you to go back with your group.”It was said so often, it should’ve been stamped on my forehead. The days always ended the same,As children’s rides would arrive, the kids would hug Mrs. Z tightly, She’d squeeze them with lots of love, And tell them “Rest well for more fun tomorrow.” Or “Have a good weekend,” Whatever the case would be. She knew what the kids were capable of, What they knew, how they knew how to play “sympathy card,” She was tough, but she was loving; Firm but Fair. She was big on teaching life skills. She knew these kids, That others counted out,Could learn these life skills, And prove something to the world;That they could be something with the right dedication and discipline. Sure some times, her methods seemed extreme and harsh, Maybe “too hard,” on kids who already “had such a tough life,”But I cannot recount a single kid who ever held a grudge;They always would hug her, and still knew her love for them. We learned how to cook in the kitchen, There would be people who came in to read stories to us, People who came to teach us healthy eating, nutrition, hand-washing, etc.We’d go to library, museums, They would teach us how to do grocery shopping,She knew that special needs couldn’t always learn just from textbook and memorization, We also had to go out and experience it, And of course, try and fail over and over till we got it. But she never gave up on us; she never counted us out, Ever! Sure, she is gone, And we are all sad, But her legacy will live on, In the memories and love,The impact she had, On thousands of lives. Fly High, Mrs. Z, You took care of everyone here on Earth,Now it’s your turn to enjoy some pampering,Up in heaven; you have definitely earned your angel wings, Sweet woman. Long Live, The advocate, the disciplinarian, and second mama, To everyone, especially children and parents from Camp We Can Do.

It was in 2008, when we went to Kemah boardwalk for the Camp’s big field trip. I wasn’t riding any of the rides; just watching all the other campers having fun. Mrs. Evelyn ZehnerEvelyn P. Zehner was the one who told me “your parents didn’t pay all the money for the big field trip just for you to be a spectator.” So She encouraged me to try a ride. I got on a tower drop (not realizing that I was terrified of heights), and I never been so terrified in my life, but I also am glad I did it. (isn’t it funny how something can scare you, but you are proud of accomplishing it anyway)
Mrs. Z was always encouraging us to step outside of our comfort zones, and really thats what should be encouraged, because if we don’t, then how will we ever find out what we like or are good at …if we are counting ourselves out before trying, or scared to fail, then what kind of life is that? Mrs. Z had that tough love, but sometimes, that is the formula for success…not always the case, but sometimes. I think the lessons she taught us, and what many influential people in my life taught me, has influenced me into the person I am today. Yes, I still have some “kinks” to work out and smooth out, but for the most part, I am proud of who I am and I have Mrs. Z as one person to thank for that. 

❤ 

❤ 

Rewrite the stars- Greatest Showman song- relates to my relationship with my fiance’

Last night, I was on my pain meds and as usual the drugs made me a sappy, hormonal, emotional wreck; especially when all they do is make me tired and don’t actually help my pain, and as tired as I am, I cannot get comfy enough to actually go to sleep- which causes me to become irritable, frustrated, and emotional. Warning: Below, is how I feel on those kinds of days. You’ve been warned.

Don’t get me wrong, I do absolutely love my fiance’ and most of the time I cannot absolutely at all fathom my life without him, but on my really bad pain days when I am cooped up in the house on pain meds and can’t stand my own life, I relate to Zendaya’s lyrics of the song.

He is so positive and confident about us, and I am like that girl (because of my age difference and looking like a kid, and my disability- the “mountains,” and “doors can’t walk through”) and what the world thinks. and just waiting for him to realize that it is hopeless and impossible for us to truly be happy together. I am always thinking “he didn’t sign on for all these issues: Me hurting all the time, me lashing out at him because I am hurting and frustrated; because I’m irritable.. How can I expect him to love me when I don’t even love myself?”

Maybe he’ll teach me a thing or two, or maybe if I have such idle time, pay attention to the negativity.
It’s a lot of self-esteem issues and idle time, pain meds causing depression, being bullied from a very young age (5 years old)- it’s hard to escape the “voices” of my past, but I am working hard on it because I do love him and I know he loves me.

Place in the world Poem

At a fork,

 unsure which way to go,

which path to take,

 where is my place?

 The Mark that I will make,

 to leave my name on this planet Earth, 

What road do I travel? 

Where will Life’s journey send me?

stuck at the fork,

 indecisions and unsure feelings,

obstacles and road blocks,

refusing my passage,

another mountain to climb,

another challenge to conquer,

How do i choose?

How do I Find my place?

My place, my mark on the world,

 the legacy I will leave behind,

 How do I find it,

in such a huge huge world, filled with endless choices,

 but physical limitations, that and fear,

preventing me,blocking me,

not trusting and believing in myself,

 blame lack of self-esteem and lack of confidence,

but I’m just a small girl,in a huge huge world.

 One day, I’ll grow,

let go of the fear and obstacles holding me back,

I’ll figure it out,

one day at a time, 

learning and growing each day,

 blossoming, and  blooming into a young lady,

I’ll find my way one day,

and have my found my place in the world.

What is Normalcy?

What is normalcy?  Normality is the condition of being normal; the state of being usual, typical, or expected, but what is “normal”? The definition of Normal can be defined as conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.  As humans, especially around the ages of adolescence, all the way up to adulthood, we seek to be accepted; to be “normal,” but who are we to decide what is and isn’t normal?

                If someone is different than us: whether it be in beliefs, religions, color of skin, sexuality, behaviors, physical appearances, etc., we make judgments and assumptions. Due to culture or who we grow up around, sometimes if we see a male with black skin, we assume they are dangerous.  If a child acts up in the store, we assume they need butt-whooping and are lacking discipline, when really there could be underlying issues such as Autism or some other mental disability. If an Autistic child has a sudden “spasm” of energy and bounces around, we judge it as “weird,” or “funny,” and often times our teenage “normal” children mock and make fun of such behaviors.  If we know someone is homosexual or “gay,” we automatically think/judge that those people are “going to hell,” due to religions’ teachings.  We think “our way” is the right way and all or any other ways are all wrong, but God made us all different with different talents and gifts, shouldn’t our differences be celebrated instead of us being crucified and stoned to death for them?  No Matter the differences, we are all human and we all bleed the same. Who are we to Judge others, when we as humans, all have sins and “Skeletons in our closets”? We are not God, even if you don’t believe in him, we have no right to judge others when we have our own faults. Why can’t there be more love in the world and less hate, bullying, and ill-will towards others; like the Black- Eyed Peas’ song, “Where Is the Love?” We as a species need to learn to “drop the arms” and learn to hug it out instead, or we will end up fighting ourselves into extinction.  I, for one, refuse to be “Normal,” I want to be Abnormal. 

Self Esteem Poem

Staring in the mirror,

Once again,

A never ending war,

Another day to settle,

On the reflection,

Staring back at me.

                Scars on my back, stomach, and side,

Evidence of my pressure sore, and trache also,

“My battle wounds,”

Of my Medical War,

Taunting me,

As they still are so evident.

                The Squishy, poor posture,

That prevents me,

From feeling beautiful,

And having that “model look”

In crop tops and bikinis;

                Physical differences rearing their ugly faces,

Evident and tormenting me.

I punch the reflection, then yell,

Holding my hand now,

I sit back and think,

Back on my life,

And suddenly smile.

                All the wonderful people in my life,

Some I wouldn’t have met,

If I had not had,

The bad physical disability that I had.

                The lives I’ve touched,

The people I’ve inspired,

How I gave others hope,

Why can’t I do that for myself?

I suck down the “poor Pitiful me” party,

And break another smile,

I am thankful for everyone in my life,

Because even though,

I am not “normal,”

They are in my life,

                Love me, and make my life,

Which would otherwise be lonely, cloudy, and grey,

Shine with a beauty bright. 

“What is Normal?” Poem

What is normal?

Is there an exact definition?

What does it look like?

Is it defined as:

Someone who looks like you?

But how can that be,

When everyone is designed differently?

                Does it have a common religion?

Or language speak?

Once again, how is that a possibility?

When each person varies,

In faith and speech?

                I know!

Maybe, perhaps, it is someone who behaves as you?

Once again, this cannot be,

The way they present themselves,

And act publicly,

Could be to show off,

Or due to some disability.

                So, I ask this question repeatedly,

What is normal?

To me,

The word does not exist,

Except by segregationists

                Do you wish to segregate?

And insinuate hate?

No? Then hear my plea,

Let’s erase this word,

From every persons’ mouth,

Erase it from the world’s vocabulary.

What is normal?

When you constantly ache Poem

Bomp! Bomp! Bomp! 

Alarm clock blaring its cruel tune. 

Time to wake up, 

you ache all over, 

but still have to face the day’s gloom. 

Yawn and stretch, 

rub sleep from your eyes, 

have to get up, 

greet the day, and

seize your “prize”. 

Another Ache this morning, 

story of your life, 

whether it be back, neck, or head, 

its all the same; 

Pop a pain killer or two or three, 

sometimes you think about Overdosing, 

and ending your misery. 

You decide against it, 

not wanting to hurt, 

those you love dearly, 

by taking your life, 

and making them all teary. 

All you want is the pain to disappear, 

meet its eternal doom, 

and never return. 

When you ache every day, 

life gets hard,

to be happy and thankful, 

sometimes it makes you even turn away from the Lord. 

Don’t forget, 

you are special. 

yes, it’s hard, 

but you are a fighter, 

and so very strong; 

you will be the champion, 

that God had envisioned for you, 

all along.