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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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GoFundMe – Jewels’ Angels Ranch

Addressing teen suicide – Jewels’ Angels Ranch  GoFundMe Link  :

We started The Jewels’ Angels Foundation, Inc. shortly after losing Jewels to suicide in 2016.  She was only 14 years old.  Our mission statement is helping teens see that they are not alone with depression and educating on the awareness and prevention of suicide.

Our goal is to save teens and other families from having to go through losing someone they love to suicide.  This gave us the idea to start-up the Jewels’ Angels Ranch, by offering supportive, co-ed groups, led by dynamic, responsible, and well-trained leaders, teaching teens the ability to learn about themselves individually through acceptance and personal growth.

Targeting teens, between the ages of 13 – 18 years old, with depression and mental illness, our program provides a healthy and healing atmosphere for the teen to bond and connect with a horse trained for emotional healing, with an emphasis on educating about the importance of establishing a healthy, mental well-being, as an alternative to making poor choices; by providing them with a sense of belonging and self-love.

But we can’t do this without proper funding and we need your support to make Jewels’ dream a reality.  IMG_6233

We have provided an itemized list of costs to start our ranch (organizational costs) and to cover the first year of operational costs:

Organizational Costs:

Purchase property (land):  $200,000

Cost to build center (includes excavate & slab):  $51,273

Costs to build stables / barn / fencing / corrals:  $142,800

Permits / Build well / Sewer line installation / Electrical:  $34,286

Purchase horses / feed / care & maintenance:  $22,335

Operational Costs:

First year operational costs:  $66,308

Overhead costs:  $9,946

This ranch is desperately needed in our community with teen suicide on the rise.  Teen suicide rates and teen depression have increased with each passing year and especially among teen girls, nationally.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, teens between the ages of 15-24 years of age have a suicide rate of 14.46 in 2017.

Teen suicide between the ages of 15-24 is the second leading cause of death among the age group.

This needs to stop and we can make a difference, but we need your help!

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School Districts’ Play a Vital Role in Students’ Lives

School districts play a huge role in students’ lives. After all, it is their responsibility to protect our children / their students to the absolute best of their ability, even if it may mean them looking bad.

Bullying, for example, has shown its ugly face at too many schools, in the past decade. How are the school districts handling this outbreak of hostility? Many of them have picked up the anti-bullying campaign, but what are their tactics for handling this problem? Do they bring the student accused of bullying into their offices and confront them, along with their parents to discuss the seriousness of the situation?  Or is the school district weary of publicizing it to the student and their parents and for what reasons?

School districts have a reputation to uphold. They don’t want to look bad or as if they are to blame, in some way, for the bully’s behavior, so perhaps they keep it quiet and handle it in their own way, rather than confront it through a one-on-one confrontation. I’m sorry, but a school rally, preaching about anti-bullying isn’t going to fix it. Yes, anti-bullying rallies are good for bringing awareness to the student-body, but they do not stop the bullies in their tracks, nor do they make it undesirable to be cruel to another student. This is attained through direct communication.

The truth is, many schools experience bullying and a huge reason for this is because there are no distinct consequences established for bad behavior. Most kids will do things that they know they can get away with, without getting into trouble. However, if there were more consequences enforced for their bad behavior, perhaps, those same students may be less likely to act out through bullying.

Bullying is a serious crime, especially in today’s age, where the bullying can continue even after all the students go home…thanks to social media and cell phones. The day when we preached “words don’t hurt” are over, we all know that they do hurt. The school is obligated to protect their students, by making them feel safe, at least while the children are in school and on their campus, because all students have the right to feel safe while away from home. It is our responsibility as parents, friends, teachers, and especially administration, to stand up for students who are being bullied, and let them know we care and that there will be something done about it. The bully will be brought into the office with their parents and if the situation does not correct itself, the student who is bullying will be suspended and or expelled.

Drastic changes need to be made. The school districts are simply not doing enough to deter students away from bullying. As a community, we need to practice and teach kindness to others, and set a good example for the younger generations; by enforcing, that being mean to another human being is not okay and will not be tolerated! It is also important, as parents, to teach our children, in home, to be kind and that under no circumstance will bullying be accepted.  Remember, children follow our lead, so make sure to practice what you preach.

Please, spread kindness! The world needs it ❤

 

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OUT OF THE DARKNESS COMMUNITY WALK

Join us for the annual Coachella Valley Out of the Darkness Community Walk, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) in Palm Desert, California.

When: Saturday March 23, 2019

Time: 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Event:

  • Walk to honor and in memory of a loved one lost to suicide
  • Honorary Bead Ceremony
  • Celebration of Life Speech – Speaker: Jayne Wilkinson

Come and join us or you may donate to the cause by following the link below:

Donation Button to AFSP Website

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MUSIC TO MOOD CORRELATION

How does music affect a person’s mood? 
There have been several studies on music and how it may affect one’s mood; such as, in a study using rats. The study was set up using music with several different types of genres that were played to the rats; such as rock, classical, and rap music.
During the rock music, the rats started getting violent and trying to fight with each other. They acted as if there wasn’t enough food in their cage, as if they had to fight for food or resources. (Although there was the same amount of food and resources for each experiment).
When the rap music was played, the rats acted nervous and anxious. They scurried around their cage, more often than usual, unable to stay in one place; compared to when there was no music playing.
When the classical music was played, the rats were calm and kept to themselves. They generally stayed sedentary, only moving about when necessary; such as to get food and water.
In conclusion, this study is a good example, showing how different types of music can affect your mood. Listening to rap music all day, using vulgar words and singing about illegal activity, is going to have an impact on your mindset. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to go out and perform these same acts, but they have been stored into your subconscious and conscious mind.
Negative music may over-stimulate your mind with these thoughts, especially since they are being stored in your conscious mind, which is in the front of your brain and easily accessible, while navigating through your everyday activities.
The same happens while listening to something more positive, such as classical music; subsequently, it is naturally calming and that is more likely to put your mind and body into a calmer state.
These findings do not mean that everyone needs to change their music preferences. I personally enjoy rap music. However, we should be wary how often we, and our teenagers, are listening to it.  The world is filled with over-stimulating devices, videos, and music, so wouldn’t it be better for our mental health to chose positive words, songs, and music to allow into our subconscious and conscious minds?  Perhaps, over time, it will give us a new perspective, making an overall difference in our mood, body, and attitude.
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