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INTERNATIONAL SURVIVORS OF SUICIDE LOSS DAY

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International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is November 23rd

Before I was unfortunate enough to becoming a survivor, I thought a survivor of suicide was someone who had contemplated suicide and had failed. It wasn’t until I was a survivor that I realized it meant more than that.  It was someone left behind, someone who had lost a loved one by suicide, a person who was merely existing with the agony of destruction of losing someone who they deeply loved.

A survivor is someone who drags themselves out of bed each morning, but yet somehow finding the courage to face another day; a day that may have moments of laughter, a day that may result in shedding many more unexplained tears of sadness, but in all the aftermath, this person is one of incredible strength because those of us who are survivors of suicide are some of the strongest and most courageous people I’ve ever met.

I personally like to spend this day with people I love, while remembering the person I lost.  A suicide survivor is someone who lives with the pain and emptiness of losing a loved one to suicide.  I believe the best way to spend this day and every day is by remembering their laughter, their joys, their funny phrases, and doing the things they loved doing with you.  It’s easier said than done but I believe that staying positive is one of the most powerful actions we can do in desolate moments like these.  I think it is important to remember our good memories with them, knowing that they are happy, and in a better place. It’s a cheesy phrase that we hear a lot when we lose someone, but it holds a deep meaning for me.  My wish for you is to find peace throughout your day.

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SAYING GOODBYE TOO SOON

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As I sit here, looking into your eyes and smiling face – staring back at me from your picture that still sits on my desk – I’m reminded of the never ending pit in the bottom of my stomach, as the aching in my heart reminds me that you’re gone.

It’s been almost three years now, but the emptiness that remains has not left me; however, a reminder to my soul that will never be replaced.

Your picture reminds me of how fragile life can be.  How could I have known that this picture was to be the last day we spent together.  Even now, as I gaze into your happy face, I can’t believe that you are really gone.

It only makes me realize how short life can be and the everlasting importance to cherish every day – never taking those we love for granted.

Love is a gift.  When we die, this is what remains with those we’ve left behind, not the materialistic things we chose to value in our existence, but the love we carry in our hearts for those we are blessed to have in our lives.

When we’re feeling lost and alone, look around and reach out to those you love.  At times, we may feel alone and as if nobody loves us, but trust me, as a mom who has lost a big part of my heart the day God asked for his angel back, love is all we have.  Nothing else matters, but our love for those we have chosen to keep close to us and forever in our hearts.

 

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Join us at the Out of the Darkness Community Walk on November 2nd

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Support The Jewels’ Angels Foundation as we walk to fight suicide in the Out of the Darkness Inland Empire Walk .

This mission is so important to us.  We lost Jewels to suicide on November 26, 2016.  She was only 14 years old.  We miss her everyday and don’t want any more families to have to live with the loss we have lived with for almost three years and have to live with for the rest of our lives.  The more we speak about suicide, the more lives we can save ❤  She was our light in the darkness and we miss her terribly everyday.  This is why we will never stop the fight against suicide, until we as parents, siblings, friends, and family, can lay our head down at night with the peace in our hearts knowing that another loved one will NOT die by the fate of their own hands.

MAKE A DONATION  Donate to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of the Darkness Walk on November 2, 2019 in Rancho Cucamonga
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World Suicide Prevention Day

Reconcile Photos_1918Why is World Suicide Prevention Day important?  It is important because it reminds us that suicide is real and sadly it does exist.

Some people think that suicide is contagious, that if you speak about it, out loud, it will give others ideations.  This is not true.  In fact, it is the opposite.  The more we speak up and talk about suicide and mental illness, the greater the chances are to prevent it or at the least, it will bring up a conversation that wouldn’t have been brought up if it hadn’t been asked.

So, on this day, let’s join in the conversation.  If someone you know is feeling depressed, isolating themselves, showing signs of self-harm, withdrawing from normal activities, taking on more risks than normal, talking about immortality, giving away personal items, fits of anger or aggression, or obsessed with death – pull them aside and ask them if they are thinking about suicide. Then be prepared to sit down with them and listen, and with any luck, they will open up to you.  But you must listen with kindness; without judgement, because they need to feel safe with their thoughts and their feelings about their darkest moment.

And as always, you are not alone in this journey called life.

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COMMUNICATION BETWEEN HORSE AND TEEN

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“Since horses communicate primarily through body language and feel, they interpret our actions in their own terms, not only to understand what they are saying to us, but to also know what our position, posture, and movements are saying to them.”  According to author Cherry Hill.

This form of communication is what lead us to start our Emotional-Support Teen / Horse Program.  Understanding non-verbal communication is so important, especially with teens because they aren’t so inclined to want to freely communicate or express their thoughts and emotions, as it is.

Let’s go back to the basics…cavemen had their own means of effective communicating and subsequently, so do horses, most animals, and teenagers.

Do you see the correlation?  First, by allowing the teen the opportunity to study a horses’ behavior, they too are learning about their own non-verbal communication and body-language.

Second, this simple and basic distraction is allowing the teen to think about something else, by tending to the horses’ basic needs and wants, taking the teen out of their head, if just for a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days.

To sum it up, each time the teen is interacting with the horse, they both are having a conversation with each other.  Through time, they will learn to understand one another’s behaviors, needs, and wants, without verbal communication.  And with this, with time, will come a stronger ability to trust, not only the horse with the teen and visa versa, but the teen with themselves, their peers, and their family.

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BENEFITS TO GIVING TOWARDS NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS

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We all have our favorite charitable organizations we like to support, but do we really know the importance to our giving?

There are so many benefits to giving towards our favorite non-profit organizations. First, it releases additional endorphins into our system that gives us a boost of satisfaction and pleasure.

Second, giving is a huge tax write-off.  There are several ways to give, to use this benefit.  You may chose to give cash (and any form of currency related to cash), donate an item, such as supplies, vehicles, land, or equipment, and one most people don’t think about, stocks and bonds.  Stocks and bonds is a great way to donate because it allows you to keep your cash for future investments, while you don’t have to pay capital gain taxes; whereas, if you sold your stocks or bonds in the stock market, you are now required to pay capital gain taxes on your gain in your investment.

And third, your giving gives you the recognition that you are helping to make this world a better place.  Non-profit organizations are primarily funded by grants, fundraisers, and your donations.  Without your support, they wouldn’t be able to continue their noble cause to changing dire situations and conditions to positive and healthy outcomes.

We can’t change the past, but we can make a difference in our future and the future of those needing the support from non-profit organizations.  Remember, they don’t exist for their personal satisfaction, but to help others in need of their services. It’s a very noble industry.  It takes a village to make a change, one person can not do it alone, but with the help of a community, there are no boundaries.  It probably isn’t said enough, but thank you…without our donors, we wouldn’t exist.

 

 

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Special Days for Survivors

One of the first arbitrary questions that came up for me after the suicide of my sister was what do we do for her “death anniversary”? Death anniversary. What a horrible day to celebrate… But it is a marked date, a passing of time to remember our loved one that we have lost. Although it is a sad day to remember, I felt it was important to celebrate. There is no right or wrong answer for how one should celebrate this day. But for my mom and I, we decided to do something adventurous and fun every year on November 26. We push our limits and test our fear! We decided on this because it is what Jewels loved, and what she would have wanted. Jewels was very adventurous, and had many items on her bucket list that involved nature and adventure.
During the first anniversary, we went zip-lining. We knew this is something she wanted to do; but we never got around to planning it with her. It was exhilarating, and we knew that Jewels was living through us.
During her second anniversary, we decided to go up in a Cesna airplane. My mom actually flew the airplane herself. We flew from Corona to Big Bear. It was gorgeous, flying right over the lake and seeing hiking spots at Mt. Rubidoux. She would have loved it.
Her third year anniversary is coming up, and although we know she really wanted to sky dive, we are a little hesitant on that one — okay, we’re scared!! We should face our fears eventually, but for now we might just settle with rock climbing.
Another hard one is what to do for her birthday. My mom took the reins on this one, since she was always the one who planned the birthday parties and got everybody organized. This day is especially hard, because every year that passes you imagine them getting older and you visualize what you guys would be doing if they were here and what they would be doing, based on their age. Today is Jewels’ birthday, and she would be turning 17. I’m sure she would have her license already, and maybe even a little putter car. She would be starting her senior year of high school, and prepping for what college she would be going to, or what her next steps in life would be after high school. But since she is not here, instead we get to remember her beautiful soul, and reminisce on the wonderful memories that we do have. We choose to celebrate her birthday by buying her favorite snacks and treats and eating them for her. We also choose to go out to eat where she would love to eat, but where we also greatly enjoy. It is important for us to celebrate her life, but also to celebrate us, because we are survivors.
There is no handbook for how to grieve, and how to celebrate a lost loved one. I hope sharing our personal experiences can help others understand that there is no right or wrong way. Everyone needs to do what ultimately makes them happy, because we are the ones who are here to carry on for them & we have to make sure we are taking care of ourselves, while we celebrate and remember.

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PRIDE MONTH

Pride month is celebrated every June. It demonstrates that the LGBTQ community is proud of who they are, and they should not have to be ashamed or feel stigmatized for their sexual preferences. There are celebrations, parades, parties, and fun events in which everyone can come and show their pride, by helping them support themselves or a friend.

Pride month is just as important as mental health month because it is important to know that just because you aren’t heterosexual does not mean anything is wrong with you. The same with mental health, just because you have a disorder or a mental health condition, doesn’t matter. Your mental health and your sexual orientation does not define you. It is a PIECE of you, a piece of the larger puzzle that creates a human being.

Support for the LGBTQ community has really made strides in the past decade. I remember when legal marriage passed in the state of California, I was super happy. I am all for human beings having the freedom to pick who they want to be with, based on love and attraction and not simply based on their sex. It is never okay to make someone feel as if they are not good enough, as if they are not ‘normal’ and to stigmatize someone. We are all human beings, and there are more important aspects to consider. Are you kind? Are you dedicated? Are you trustworthy and loyal? Our society has become consumed with judging everyone based on shallow principles that do not speak to a person’s character.

Having PRIDE for who you are is so important. Embrace yourself & don’t let others drag you down or make you believe you are less than you are. In honor of June, GO PRIDE MONTH!

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The Benefits of Horse Therapy

THE BENEFITS OF HORSE THERAPY

This past weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer at a horse rescue ranch in Chino Hills.  I have to say that I was quite impressed with the presentation while walking up to the front office.  The grounds were immaculate with a peaceful energy surrounding me.  I felt welcomed.

As I listened to the team members, I noticed two horses in the corral to the right of me and a donkey.  They were playing, almost showing off for us; happily trotting around their corral, gently nudging one another with their noses.  It brought tears to my eyes, it was so cute, for they were so full of life, spilling over with joy.

But their lives hadn’t always been that happy, for once they were on a truck headed to a kill farm, to be slaughtered.  Prior to their new home, they had endured tremendous abuse and neglect, filling their lives with emotional scars.  Most of these horses will heal, but there will always be some, with different personality traits and circumstances, that will never completely heal.

We’ve studied the positive effects an animal brings to an individual or a family.  It has been said that a person will live longer when they have a fury companion because they love unconditionally and communicate using non-verbal communication.

Horse therapy seems to be a new study, but is it?  Horses have a long history, going back to the time to the cowboy days.  Native Americans found a spiritual connection with these wonderful animals long before anyone saw the great benefits these majestic animals bring.

Can there be a connection between people, primarily teenagers and horses?  Can a damaged teen find healing from an animal; subsequently a horse?  Someone once told me that a horses’ temperament is like that of a teenager going through adolescence.  Their moodiness and stubborn attitudes, making them almost intolerant to be around.

This connection is what sparked our interest and motivation to start the Jewels’ Angels Ranch.  We want to give rescue horses a second chance at love and peace, whereas, we also want to bring this to our teens in our programs.  They need a place where they can feel safe again.  A place away from the city and the stresses of school and social media.  A place where they can be a kid again.  A place where a teen will benefit from our horses, by educating them about self-love, self-care, self-esteem, confidence, copying skills, acceptance, and empowerment.

Isn’t it time for us to dream again, dream for a better tomorrow, in the hopes of bringing a better tomorrow for the young people in our community?  This was Jewels’ dream and now it is ours.

I do believe the human spirit can be healed, but it takes a lot of trust and time.  This is what our ranch and our horses will offer them; patience, kindness, and compassion.  It won’t happen overnight but with time they will find the acceptance with in them that they never knew they could have and that is called self-love.

We don’t walk this journey alone!

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