awareness, challenges

Jail Time Revisited

Recently I had the opportunity to experience a county jail with an added twist. I’ve written about visiting the jail before as a contractor recounting an inside view. I visited the exterior as part of a jail run a few years back that included running the officer obstacle training course (so much fun) and the campus which bordered the barbed wire fences and guard towers. Both experiences were memorable and offered different views of the same place.

Over the past week I had yet another view. An unexpected view. I needed to try to visit an inmate. What started out as a simple endeavor ended up extremely complex. So many things I didn’t know, didn’t expect or just couldn’t wrap my arms around.
The first big blow is no in-person visitors which is the exact opposite of the county website, which states visitation Mon-Fri and Sat/Sun for under 18. I guess they are still under COVID protocols even though most other places are not. This was funny in itself as you don’t  need a mask to enter the jail but you can’t visit. The next option is a fee-based video visit, but figuring this option out almost requires an IT degree and a lot of patience.

That’s right. Get the app. Download the app. Set up a user ID. Add funds. Upload identification documents to prove who you are. Now wait. Wait until somebody in an office somewhere approves you. This took three days in my case. Once you have access, you can schedule a call. I almost forgot you need to deposit more money for the call and pay more service fees. Just when you think you are at the finish line you have to be patient again. It seems the schedule is not the same day. That means you wait longer and the person inside has no idea how hard you are trying to make contact. Big sigh.

What’s the other option? Send a letter. I was told happy mail is very uplifting. Okay, what’s the address? Well the address you mail to is far away. It has to be sorted to make sure there is no contraband. Well over the holiday, mail delays, etc. would lead me to believe this would be another dead end.

How about a phone call? Can the person make a call? Only if they have money they tell me. How do they get money? Glad you asked. There is a jail ATM. Never seen one of those before. You have to upload your picture, your social security number, address and so much more. Then you can pay money and exorbitant fees. Again, it’s not instant. It takes a day to process and the funds need to be deposited by 8am. That means if you put money in the ATM on Sunday at 4pm the inmate won’t see it until Tuesday after 8am. Delays galore.

Four days it takes to get any form of contact. This provides so much insight into what folks deal with when they are immersed in the jail system. I can’t even imagine if my parent was in jail, how a young adult could handle all the chaos associated with saying hi to somebody who probably needs some extra support during their incarceration.
This experience has taught me I for sure don’t ever want to spend time in jail. I also don’t want to have to visit anyone I know in jail. I like my freedom too much. I like to choose what I do and when I do it. I thought visiting somebody in an assisted living facility was hard in the heart of the pandemic however I would definitely say visiting a jail is 1000x harder current day. 

With mental health issues challenging society today, it is bothersome to me that inmates lose not only their freedom but their ability to get compassionate care. I define compassion to include communication with willing visitors vs. starving them of hope and friendly faces.

in summary, I’d always tell somebody think carefully about actions or inactions that can land one in jail. It’s not a place I’d recommend at all.

challenges, perspective

A Life Cut Short

Recently, someone in my daughter’s close friend group experienced a great loss. A tragic accident. A death, completely unexpected. Not his fault. A shock out of the blue.

I had met this young man a couple of times. I have photos of him, since he was in the group for my daughter’s high school dances. I had been introduced to him once. Still, such a sudden loss makes every parent in the community shudder.

My kids laugh at them when I tell them to be safe. Don’t drink (and if you do, don’t drive). Don’t do drugs. Stay alert. Make good choices. Check in when you get there. Leave early. Slow down. Assume everyone else is drunk or not paying attention. This young man probably followed every single one of these rules and still, he is gone.

In most cases, you may not know the last words you’ll say to a person. A loved one. A friend. Every time they leave you, every time you hang up, every time you text it could be the last time. Stop and think of the people who mean the most to you. How have you left it with them? Yes, right now. Today. Sure, saying “I love you” to a friend all the time may seem foolish. Maybe you just aren’t that way. But how can you leave things so that you’d be content with those being your last words with them? Think about it. Do they know how you feel? Do they know what they mean to you?

Memento Mori. One of the tenets of stoicism. Remember your death. To some this might seem morbid. Too heavy. Honestly, it is useful for me. It means pay attention to what matters. Keep your shit in order. Don’t drown in the trifling details. Don’t waste time on petty arguments or people who are just not meant for you. Invest in what is meaningful. All you have is now. Don’t waste it.

I watched the beautiful slide show for this 20 year old young man. I saw his smiles. His family vacations. Trips to the university his family loved. The dinners with friends. The light in his eyes when he looked at my daughter’s friend. I wept for him and what everyone who loved him lost. All the dreams that would go unfulfilled. The awful anniversaries that would come over and over and over again. I wept for the life cut short.

Do the important things now. Make a list. Start checking it off. Do them with the people who matter to you. Time is ticking and we don’t get it back. Not fun to think about. But let that motivate you to embrace life NOW. Not next year. Not when you have more time. NOW. Live big. Love well. Embrace life.

Now.

challenges

Decisions, Decisions

This year end has me faced with many decisions. Many things I really don’t want to deal with but have to because I’m a responsible adult.

Decision one involves updating the will and other legal documents for the family. I’m pretty sure this was on a to-do list before the pandemic so scratching it off the list is a good accomplishment. However the process of it is still a bit morbid as you are planning for what happens after you are gone and I’m not really ready to go anywhere so to speak. Just all around blah but a necessary step.

Round two gets more complicated. Of course anything involving people can be messy. Add negative environmental conditions and the plot thickens. I need to define my parameters for supporting a person rebuilding their life. I know what I should do but then emotions come in to play. I also can’t ignore the background noise of those who cast opinions on me.  It’s almost seems like I’m doomed no matter which path or decision I make on this one which is probably why I don’t want to deal with it! I also want to not look like an ATM machine while feeling like a doormat.

Next up is the birthday bash plan. Do I stay local? Do go regionally? Do I head off into the sunset for a grand adventure? I’ve been on the road a lot making travel seem meh at best but it’s a milestone birthday which has me leaning towards go big. Decisions. Decisions. I have just a short window to decide and I don’t want to rush my thoughts on this one. 

I also have many little decisions to make as well. Each decision is small in size yet intertwined with other little tidbits of life magnifying the complexity of the choice. My head is like a flowchart, decision tree, or maze thinking about the impact of each decision. I know I’m not alone in this arena but decisions are on my mind thus I wrote about the topic.

Hoping you had a great holiday season no matter how you chose to celebrate. Keeping it real in 2022 on this blog.

challenges

Just Show Up

Life is hard, lifey, challenging, et cetera.

We all know this. We are in it.

Right now, what keeps coming up for me is one small thing:

Just show up.

The first step on the path to success is just showing up.

When a friend calls, overwhelmed with life, just show up.

When you need to get to the gym to start your day the right way, just show up.

When there’s an issue at work that needs addressing, just show up.

When you’re not sure what to do, just show up.

If you’re as exhausted as many of us are, it can be so tempting just to hide away from problems, tasks, anything that needs to be done. Life is too much. Why bother? Nothing matters. Do you ever feel that way?

Still, in the face of it all, here’s the challenge: show up. Does showing up solve the world’s problems, or even my own? No…but it does set me on the road to solutions. If you don’t show up, things can’t happen. If you don’t show up, progress doesn’t get made. If you don’t show up, you lose the chance to be good, to be great, to even contribute.

How I show up is a matter for another post. Today, start by just showing up. Do what you need to do. Get there.

challenges

My OLW for 2022

It’s a new year. I haven’t felt especially inspired to write down goals and priorities this year, except one. This priority has become my OLW (One Little Word) for 2022: Rest. (You can read about some of my previous OLW choices here and here.)

I’ve been thinking about rest (and my issues with it) for months now. I have midlife sleeplessness that I need to work on to improve my wellness. I’ve been bookmarking strategies to work on that for a while. But there are less obvious ways I have noticed I need rest. For example, I scroll mindlessly through social media too often. This usually just fills up space or extra time or just keeps me occupied. A half hour can easily slip by and I feel like I wasted time. Sometimes I even feel tired afterwards even though it’s a sedentary activity. On the flip side, if I go outside and take a walk for a half hour, I feel so much better. I feel refreshed, renewed, and like I did something for myself. Nature has that effect on me. The same thing happens when I take time to do something creative.

Here’s what it boils down to: I’m not just physically tired, I’m often mentally / emotionally / spiritually tired. So this year’s rest isn’t just a focus on more or better sleep. It isn’t just napping or zoning out. It’s more about taking intentional and purposeful breaks. And not just distracting myself during those breaks, but trying to savor those pauses as a part of my health and life balance.

I made a list of all the things rest can look like this year. I may add more. For now, I’m just trying to incorporate more into each day and notice when I am doing it (or not).

Here’s just a few from my list of what rest can look like:

-stretching

-reading / writing / reflection / daydreaming

-meditation

-pulling back

-nature

-saying no to commitments that are too much

-play

-focusing on my breath

We will see how I do in my quest for rest!

Did you choose a word, a goal, or something else to guide your new year?