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. 

❤ 

❤ 

Dreamers can dream and dream big

I have lots of interests and lots of dreams. One is to operate a successful food truck (yes, I love to cook and bake). Another is to get my youtube channel going and inspire those also dealing with physical differences and show that nothing is impossible. I also am interested in writing and publishing books (one being my life story, others being books of creative writing works and children’s literature). I also would like to write for childrens tv and movies, especially including characters with different special needs, I’ve also been inspired by seeing the new creations of dolls with special needs and the creation of clothes for children with special needs…I’d like to help do more of that- more special needs included in the toys, and more clothes/costumes for those with special needs, and have my own makeup/accessories line/ clothing line, etc.
Dreamers can dream and dream big. 

🙂
But my biggest dream that I’ve always had since I was 3 years old, is to become a mommy 

🙂 and my passion since seems like forever, is to help make the world better and more accepting for those with special need- #Advocate and #CharityWork. Only through God’s will and power. God’s will be done. 

❤ Amen

Life update–rambling–YouTube video

New YouTube video on my channel basically just rambling about life in general; childhood memories, dolls, my future, surgery, decorating for fall/Halloween, etc.

Wedding plan update…still gonna get married..

There’s been a mutual decision between David Piazza and I after all of us discussing things over with Mom, to push the wedding back another year. So it’ll be may 2021.. we haven’t gotten much done as far as planning and in Catholics churches, need to let church priests know 6 months ahead of event.. That’d be next month, plus we’ll be moving into my parents’ house the beginning of 2020. Plus this way, I’ll be over a year post-op and better able to plan and enjoy it. Sorry for any disappointments but tis life ❤️❤️❤️🤷 we feel this will be better in long run.

Lost… Who is Jamie Elizabeth?

My Mom used to say, that as a child, I had “a smile that was infectious and could brighten others days,” and I was an inspiration with how I handled my disability with a smile. However, over the years, between trying my best to fit in with society’s ideals/standards, trying to live up to what I was taught by my parents or CCD Religion classes, relationships with people I thought of as friends who turned out to be toxic (only to discover my true friends), relationships romantically, stress from struggles as a college student, and the struggles of living on and off with pain or other medical problems, I seem to have lost a sense of myself.

It’s like a constant battle between my heart, my brain, and the outside forces of voices from people around me. I am 28 and enjoy childish things like dolls, stuffed animals, playing games at the local fairs, I enjoy cartoons and childish movies, tea parties, parties, I get separation anxiety and sad when my friends have to leave; it is like I am still a child trapped in the biological fact that I am 28 and some people point it out and judge me and tell me, “You are 28, act your age.” But my question is, “Is it they are just jealous that I am trying to find joy in the things I have always enjoyed?” I am just trying to block out the darkness and cruelty of the world going on around me. It may make me ignorant, but I refuse to watch the news because it’s depressing and angers me, I rather “stick my head in the sand,” and tune it out, and leave it to God. When the world is so sad and depressing, who wouldn’t want to go back to the simpler times of innocence of childhood?

Don’t get me wrong, I still know some things I enjoy: Spending time with friends/family, parties, dancing, theater, crafts, creative writing, etc.; however, lately, I been really tired a lot and seem to stay in front of screen watching movies/tv or YouTube videos. It’s like I have no motivation or anything right now. I have wanted to do more blogging, more YouTube, more artistic and creative, but I just can’t get myself to actually do it, or how to put words out there.

Hopefully, I can rediscover myself again.

One Mountain conquered, but life dealt me another summit to excavate.. *Latest Update*

People often say “The world is a rainbow of different communities spreading love and good, frolocking with others. There are the ones who are the pessimistis who see their world as a never ending burden of turmoil and misery, and then the type that are the “fakers”- The ones who walk around all jolly and happy and wearing a complete “mask” in public. That is me.

I guess you are probably wondering “what is this going on about? The title says ‘One Mountain conquered, but life dealt me another summit to excavate.” What I mean by this is, I had my surgery to fix the broken rods and it was a major success, however during that surgery another issue was discovered; an infection in my rods.

Below are my newest X-rays.

To combat this infection issue, a pic-line was placed in my left arm while I was at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St Louis, Missouri, and put on antibiotics via IV infusions for 6 weeks and then will be switched to an antibiotic pill indefinitely until the doctor sees fit to get me off said antibiotics.

A week after my surgery, on Aug. 21, I was discharged from the hospital to go back to my home in Louisiana so that Medicaid would cover my IV antibiotics; if not, We would’ve had to pay out of pocket for the treatments and it was $120 a treatment (6 weeks of treatments, 2 x a day- so $120 a treatment x2 times a day x7 days x 6 weeks = $10080, and then if we stayed in s Louis but not at the hospital (haven house)= $50 a night x 6 weeks at least = $2100..yeah, I think we made the better decision by coming home…LOL)

Now 2 weeks and 4 days post-op, I awoke to my IV tape rolled up, the pic line area exposed (I am thinking that I was scratching in my sleep). When my fiance went to clean it up and re-tape it, he noticed that the pic line was out more than the doctors like, so we rushed to our local E.R., Lady of Lourdes Hospital. Once there, they were swift about getting me to the back; a nurse, however, decided to remove my pic line from my left arm (which was covered in red splotches due to allergic reaction to the tape) instead of leaving it for the specialist to push it back in. Hours later, the specialist showed up and had to re- stick me for a new pic line in my right arm now, when she said that had the nurse previously not removed it, they could’ve just pushed my other one back in. Now I am back home and my right arm is sore and throbbing because the lidocaine sedative is wearing off and my muscles are aching.

Oh well, I did what I needed to do and I will “grin and bear” this burden I have to deal with for 6 weeks until I can switch to my pill version of antibiotics. I cannot wait for this darn pic line to be out of my arm, but all good things come to those who wait. I will pray for God to grant me patience to deal with it.

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.