So, who had to turn in a term paper in high school? Do you remember the feelings you had about it…sitting in your desk, awaiting the teacher’s announcement of looming dates and lots of deadlines. The topic was sometimes chosen by you or sometimes it was assigned. Every time I knew I’d learn something new, but I always had so much anxiety. I knew it would entail many trips to the library, using the card catalogue and doing research. Finding the books in the library was like pursuing a needle in a haystack (they had numbers). At times, I’d arrive right where the book was supposed to be, only to find it absent.
“Ugggghhhhh,” was my response in my insides cause that meant: REPEAT- back to the card catalogue, find another book on my subject matter and start the process all over again. My nerves would be frazzled: there were no snacks or drink machines in the library, I couldn’t talk (fathers!) and I was doing research, typically, on topics that really didn’t touch my soul or resonated with me. But, I didn’t like to get in trouble; I wasn’t a fan of disappointing my parents or teachers either.
Actually, I tried it a few times, leaving a paper until the last minute. I am forgetful, but some things stick with me. I had a paper on the Liriomyza trifolii and left it until the last week or so before the deadline. I believe I shut down a bit- I had notes everywhere, nothing was organized and ready to be typed and my deadline was quickly approaching. My typing was a matter of pecking and at 14 words a minute (with errors); I wasn’t getting anywhere fast. Oh, let’s not forget those infamous foot notes and endnotes, those liked to about send me over the edge.
My Mama called in the troops: my brother, Fred (very smart) helped to organize my heap of mess papers and notecards into some sort of order. I believe it was then that I made an outline, which probably would have been better for me to have done at the start. Josephine was typing at the speed of light (160 words a minute with maybe 1 error) as I handed her my papers. Mama was providing drinks, snacks and encouragement to us. In the midst, I was also receiving the death stares from Mama, loudly expressing, “I want to ring your neck!!!!” SCARY, even the thought, all these years later. Eep. They all three made it clear that this was a one time occasion and wanted me to chalk it up to “a learning experience.” And so I did for my nerves were shot from the whole experience. I got a “C” on that paper I believe and I was thankful. I deserved a “C” and it taught me many life lessons.
Suffice to say, I was a little nutty about term papers and pre planning, meeting deadlines, staying organized by binders with dividers and color coding notes, index cards, you get my drift. It didn’t always ensure an “A,” but it helped me to keep my sanity, which I valued, just a wee bit. I can hear Mama saying, “It isn’t the end of the world ANN, just always do your best.”
That was taught to me by both my parents. They had an incredible work ethic and always put forth great efforts to “do their best” in whatever it was in which they were involved or committed. So, the moral of this BABBLING…this has always been my approach for Rachael Elason Lutz. We have asked her as well to try to do her best. We’ve succeeded, we’ve failed, we’ve tried again. The trials and tribulations in her life have been real for sure, but she has somehow, someway (with lots of love, help, support, nurturing, pitfalls, prayers, promises, medications) continued to persevere and prevail. Huge blessings and grateful hearts over here!!!
We’ve hit a CROSSROADS- it’s “Term Paper Time” it feels like for sure. Once upon a time, I was under the illusion that I was “even keeled.” I’m not. I’m a passionate soul who feels deeply, thinks deeply, loves God, has a lot of Irish in me (as I’ve said many times before) and am a Gemini. I love deeply too and inside resides a “Mama Bear” that hibernates most of the time, but, once awakened…I’ll NOT QUIT, I’LL NOT STOP, I’ll KEEP GOING, she is our child, she is worth it, she counts.
Rach got back into the Public School System with great efforts from many folks. The “BIG MEETING ” was in between my brother dropping dead suddenly and my sister (two weeks and two days later) dying from a brain aneurysm. To say my nerves were completely shot was not even a remotely close assessment. Again, many folks were Rachael’s advocates and made it all come together. Rachael needed school, a place where she belonged, a spot where she was able to help others and learn as well as grow. Johnson High School provided her with a safe place where all of the above happened. Lots of hoops had to be jumped through and lots of us “jumped” to pull off this plan for Rachael being a part of the special needs program.
Fast forward to 2018 (probably October) and FEAR began to consume Rachael. They’d wanted her to try Project Search through the school system. She was going to have deadlines, interviews, senior year activities, you name it. I saw the LOOK and I knew THE LOOK all to well. She was headed in a spiral downward. There was no “pulling it together” to meet her deadlines. FEAR was like a ‘THIEF IN THE NIGHT” for sure. It had swooned in, STOLEN her JOY and replaced it with “FULL BLOWN DEBILITATING ANXIETY!!!”
In 2015 I’d started lots of files in a basket for Rach. A brand new basket as there are lots of boxes/ baskets already filled in our attic with her medical history, academic history, speech, OT, Pyschiatristy, social skills paperwork, play therapy paperwork, equine therapy and surely something I’m forgetting. I’ve kept a very long paper trail. With the help of our oldest daughter, Kira, and a dear friend, who had walked this “Rachael road” with us almost all of her life, we got all of my files organized and into a new basket to move forward with her into her very promising future:).
Rachael’s Pyschiatrist had shared many thoughts with me that had really gotten me to think about her future. A parent, who had a daughter several years older than Rach, spent generous amounts of time on the phone with me while guiding me and giving me thoughts to consider. She suggested Guardianship ✅ through the Legal System before Rach turned 18, she suggested going through the process of SSI ✅ (and that was no small feat either), she made several other suggestions, which I deeply appreciated. Another friend suggested Easter Seals ✅ and the Cat Bus System (which was Teleride)✅. It was made abundantly clear to me that if all of this was done (and a few other things which I completed but am going to leave out by choice), that Rachael (and our family) would have a much smoother transition into her adulthood.
So, let’s fall back for a moment into “term paper mode,” metaphorically speaking: my note cards are ✅ done, my information has been gathered✅ done, my information has been organized ✅ done, Rachael has tested for hours and hours and more hours at numerous locations ✅ done, rough draft complete✅ done, and now it’s a matter of all of the pieces falling into place. And, WONKY WORLD sets in…….just waiting…for the Grizwald’s to make an appearance.
Rachael tried the precursor to Project Search last Spring but was fired from the facility where she was working. BONK, she tried it and that so did not work out, for many reasons. Even though we all BELIEVE she can and will one day ACHIEVE a job with some independence and a mentor to help her, right now it hasn’t been in the cards, so to speak. She had become very aggressive at our home and verbally abusive. She had begun to threaten to kill herself again which is NOT OKAY ON ANY LEVEL. It has been several years since she had been coming apart at the seams, but we all knew it was happening. We were all living in the CHAOS daily…she knew it and we did too…she was like a ball of yarn unraveling at a rapid rate. There were LOTS of tears, yelling, begging for help, threats to each of us as well as herself (dreadful!!!!!) and telling us that we just didn’t care about her. I spent so many evenings in desperation on the phone with her Pyschiatrist. He tweaked medications, in review, she was FIRED from her job (through school that they’d placed her in, thinking it would work for her of course) and it was UNBELIEVABLE trying to get her to school (could not have been able to do that without the phenomenal support of her teachers) for her to finish and actually graduate. From the depths of within, she “dug in” and decided she could finish school. And so she did indeed (the moral support she had from family and friends was such a blessing!!!) We also had a great IEP meeting for her where we were all in agreement that for now in her life, Rachael would be most successful with EMPLOYABILITY on Eisenhower Drive. We’d been there twice before for meetings with Rachael and had been very impressed. SUPER!!!! We have a PLAN✅. She was to go to Talisman Camp in North Carolina (a camp for children and young adults who have special needs)✅ and upon returning (Richard and Rachael had a meeting and tour in April at Employability, which went GREAT), Rachael would start working at Employability. There were a few p’s and q’s that needed work, so Richard jumped on that to try to have that taken care of before we even left for our trip to North Carolina ✅. He left several messages hoping for a return phone call, but that did not happen.
So, because of stuff that I’m going to categorize as CLUTTER, Rach still does not have a job. Everyone at Employability has been fabulous. Richard and I have tried to cross t’s again, dot i’s again, jump through hoops again and yes, I am now officially complaining. There has been a breakdown in communication somewhere, I don’t even understand where. “Mama Bear” is AWAKENED, ALARMED and ALERTED TO DANGER!!! This is NOT OKAY.
I did all of that STUFF and have it neatly organized in my basket and to what avail? It would seem as though it was NONE!!! I know Rachael Elason Lutz better than any single person on this planet. She wants to do well. She wants to have a job. It will be hard for her, but she is willing to work and to learn. If she has to test again, even though it is truly tortuous for her, she will do it. She’s had two or three psychological exams since 2013. She has an IQ of 60. She has many strengths and weaknesses, as do we all.
My understanding is that she (we) have to start “the PROCESS” over again. I can hear my Mama saying with her assertive tone,”I beg your pardon?!” Im sorry, I believe I turned “MY TERM PAPER IN” and everything on our end has been completed, even an IEP Placement meeting.
Let me see if I understand this: the powers “that BE” basically just “TORE UP MY TERM PAPER!!!” (which involved hours of our time, hard work, effort, phone calls, delivery of paperwork, notorized documents, her hours of rigorous testing) right in front of me and threw it in the waste basket???!!!WHAT….I’m still in disbelief and trying to process all of these feelings and help her accept that we do not understand what has happened and I’m trying to get answers, but don’t have any yet. That’s been a really BIG HIT (understandably really cause she thought she had a plan in place) over here, just saying.
We are playing connect the dots with Rachael’s life and she is not a game. She is a person who has ALOT of confusion over what feels like a very skewed transition. She keeps asking me 100 💯 questions and I’ve gracefully been asking God to guide us, but now I’ve been feeling a little more stressed,”God, I need help on this here matter please and soon, thank you.”
In the end, I’ll be eating “humble pie” I’m sure as I’m always reminded things are on His timetable not ours and there are always reasons, even if we can’t see or understand them right now. Living a colorful life indeed✅. It will all work out for the BEST and the greater good. Patience is a virtue isn’t it:). I think I’ll put my basket in the attic now:))).