Monday, December 7, 2009

15 Hours With Simply Cats

I finished my hours this past Sunday. I probably would have gotten them done sooner, but I am only available on Saturdays because everytime I volunteer I give four hours of my time. Two are spent at the shelter, and the other two are spent walking from the bus stop and back again. I have loved volunteering at Simply Cats. I have met a lot of new people who are all very friendly and helpful. The kitties are always so adorable and I hope to adopt one when I have my own home. I have greatly enjoyed this class. It has helped me grow as a writer, and I think that the Service Learning aspect was a wonderful addition to an already fantastic course. I look forward to working with Simply Cats in the future. Even though my hours are complete, I plan on staying with the kitties and making sure they have a clean place to live, and plenty of food and water.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Volunteering With Simply Cats

So far I have absolutely adored volunteering at this wonderful place. The animals are so incredibly adorable! My roommate has been volunteering with me and I am so glad that she is. I don't know anyone here in Boise, so we have to catch the bus and walk down Overland and Maple Grove in order to get there. However, as soon as we walk in the door I toss down my coat and head as quickly as possible to room 3-the KITTY room. I love this one the best! It is a challenge to clean, but I love watching the scramble around and play with each other. There is a tabby kitten that runs across the room straight into the door every few minutes. It is so adorable! This last week there were two new additions, twin grey kitties! I could pick one up in each hand they were so small! They purred so hard when I held them and I fell in love! But sadly when I came back this week, they were gone. Someone had adopted them :) That is one hard part about this. You find a kitty to love, but the next week it has been adopted to a nice family. But oh well! There are so many kitties that it is really easy to find another one to give your heart to. Another kitty that I just love to death is Brandy in room 10. These are the kitties that can't be adopted because of health problems. So far, Brandy has always been curled up on a blankie every time I go in there. However, this time she was on the scratching post and put her two front paws on my shoulder when I came in the room. She meowed at me and began to hug my with swipes of her paws over and over again. No claws, just love. It was so sweet! I kept petting her and giving her loves until finally I reminded myself that I had a job to do! I finished the room and joined back with Crystal and we said our final goodbyes to all the kitty's and headed home. I love volunteering at this shelter. It brings me such joy and happiness and I can't wait to adopt a kitty as soon as I move out of these blasted dorms!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

First Session at Simply Cats

My first time volunteering at Simply Cats was wonderful. Jennifer, the volunteer coordinator, was extremely helpful and answered all the questions I had. The cats were so cute. I loved watching them scramble around after each other or just lounge in their cat beds. I always felt great every time I finished cleaning a room. The counters were clean, the floor shined and the kitties had clean laundry and fresh litter boxes as well as food and water. The room that left the most impression on me though was room 10. That is where they keep the kitties that can't be adopted out. They all have neurological problems or other diseases that require lots of medicine and attention. This room is the messiest. There is little spills and mistakes all over the floor and counter so it takes a while to scrub them away. However, as soon as I was done I looked at all the cats looking very comfortable and was proud that I could help them out. :) It was a great first experience.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Simply Cats Orientation

This past Saturday I attended orientation for my service learning class. Simply Cats is a wonderful no kill shelter for kitties who need a home. During orientation I learned that some of my volunteering task will include cleaning the kitty rooms, feeding the cats and my favorite part, Kitty Love. During this semester I will be helping out at Simply Cats on Saturday mornings. I am very excited to help the kitties have a clean, safe and fun environment to live in. My first volunteer session will be happening sometime this next weekend.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Never to Forgotten

For my English 102 class I was asked to write a personal essay as well as provide a list of the strengths and weaknesses of my writing. I would love if you would read through it, and then leave me a comment listing the strengths and weaknesses you found when reading. Please be kind but constructive. Any help you can give is greatly accepted. I am also going to provide you the prompt for this essay. Will you also tell me if you feel I met the criteria she listed? Thank you for your help.

Prompt: Your personal essay should be about an experience in your life that changed the way you thought about the world and made you who you are today. Your essay should be well-focused on a single even or short series of events. Do not try to cover several years, or even several months, in one essay. Also, your essay should be true and you should be directly involved in the events you describe in your essay.

Never to Be Forgotten
The room is full of too many flowers; their scents attempt to suffocate me with their false sweetness. The room is full of dozens of people, all jammed into this small space. Some are here out of obligation, and others have come because of genuine concern and heartbreak. But mostly, the room is full of a heavy sorrow; a sorrow so tangible that I feel it pulling and tugging at me, trying to drag me down into despair. This evil emotion plagues me because of the smooth white casket in the corner. This casket taunts me, playing with my emotions just as cruelly as the sorrow in the room. I grab my sister’s hand and shed a few tears, trying my hardest to fight this malevolent feeling that has overcome me. As I stare at the casket, I begin to realize that the women inside of it would not want me to succumb to this hopelessness. No, my mother would have wanted to me to raise my head and be strong. As I hear my mother’s voice in my head saying ‘Laugh instead of cry Mariah,” I grip Samantha’s hand harder. I close my eyes and remember the happy times I had with my mom. As I do this, the heavy weight lifts and at last I am able to smile.

As I searched through my memories this last week, I tried to decide which moment in my life really stood out to me. I quickly became worried, because the only ones I could think of were all depressing and didn’t seem like they fit under the personal essay topic. I voiced my worries to the ladies in my group and one of them told me something that had me thinking a little bit differently on how to approach my personal essay. She said that we never really learn anything from the happy times in our lives. It is the struggles that we deal with that teach us who we are. I realized then that the topic rolling around in my head would be perfect. My mother’s death was the defining moment of my life.

On February 20th, 2005, I lost my mother to a blood disorder known as Leukemia. I don’t remember a lot about what happened in the months after her death; that summer is lost in a blurry fog. I do however; remember the days before and directly after her death. They were filled with such profound emotions that they are difficult to forget. In her last days my mother taught me a lot about forgiveness. I watched her as she struggled with past grudges, wondering if she could truly let them go. I was so proud of how brave she was. Her ability to say ‘I forgive you’ was a trait that I hope I will be able to call on in the future. She told me that no matter how angry you are at someone, none of it seems to matter when you get ready to see God again. I remember being so angry at her when she first came home from the hospital. I was so mad that she was just giving up and leaving me. But as the days grew shorter, she demonstrated what forgiveness does for the soul. I saw how every time she said ‘I forgive you;’ she would look happier and less worried. Slowly, due to her example, I was able to lose my anger and become closer to my mother. Forgiveness was my mother’s last lesson to me in life, but she continues to teach me now, in death.

After my mother’s death, I became increasingly aware of the value of life. I had always been told the cliché sayings of ‘treat each day as if it were your last,’ or ‘don’t take life for granted,’ but I had never really taken them to heart. Life is a very precious thing, and we must all understand what a great gift it is. I find myself frustrated with people who complain about growing older. I don’t like hearing them gripe about how they found a gray hair or another set of wrinkles under their eyes. They don’t seem to realize what a blessing that gray hair is. My mother never even got to have a 40th birthday party. She wasn’t given the chance to deal with the struggles and miracles of being old. Instead, her life was ended at an early age. Appreciating things to the fullest is a lesson that my mother taught me in death. I plan on accepting every gray hair and wrinkle I get. I also plan on rejoicing in seeing my grandchildren. I will do as my mother taught me and accept all the things that life gives me, whether they are trials or miracles.

There was one other significant moment at my mother’s funeral that taught me a lot about love and changed my views on relationships between the dead and the living. I think I will be able to better explain what I learned if I describe to you the exact moment that changed my opinions.

The viewing was over. It was time to seal the casket and begin the funeral. The director called on anyone who wanted to come and pay their final respects. I watched as my little cousins gathered around and said goodbye to Aunt Suzie. I heard my sister crying next to me as she said her soft whispered words of goodbye. Finally it was my turn. I felt as if I was choking with the fear of saying goodbye to my mom. I didn’t want to lock her away in the dark forever, and I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving her alone. As the temple veil was brought up to cover her face I began to panic. I wanted to scream “Stop! Don’t take her from me! Please . . . please.” I had this terrible feeling that if I let her go I would forget everything about her.

I wouldn’t be able to remember all the songs she used to sing to me, or how she always smelled like peaches. I wouldn’t remember all the times we camped in a tent in our front yard, or when she took us to the Sand Dunes to go sledding in the winter. My greatest fear however, was that I would forget how much she loved me. By closing the casket I would have to admit that she was truly gone. I didn’t want to lose her; she was everything to me. How was I possibly going to stand there and watch her be sealed away from me for the rest of my life? Slowly, the casket lid began to creep its way towards eternal darkness. It was at this exact moment that I felt a sense of calm. I began to feel arms wrap themselves around me in a comforting embrace. And that was when I heard the whispers of my mother’s voice. They were soft simple words of comfort and love. “Mariah honey, it is all going to be okay. I want you to know that I will be with you always. I love you Riley Jane; don’t you ever forget that.”

I came back to myself just in time to hear the soft click of her casket closing. I held my breath, hoping that her memories wouldn’t leave me the second she was gone. Seconds went by as I stared at my mother’s resting place. Seconds turned into minutes and I began to rejoice. I still remembered! I could still recall the way she smiled when she graduated from Ricks College when I was twelve. I could still smell her peach perfume and hear her sweet voice singing Baby Mine to me whenever I was scared or sad. But most of all, I could still feel her love for me. I knew that for the rest of my life, I would simply have to think about the kind, caring love she had for me and then she would be there, by my side.

My mother’s death was a time in my life that I look back to often. I think of all the things I learned from her when she was alive. I think of how she taught me to respect my elders and to be kind to everyone no matter how different they appear. I think of when she helped me cook my first meal and we used whole rosemary leaves instead of just sprinkles by accident. I think of how she was always so strong despite losing her mom to lung cancer and divorcing my dad. My mother gave me insight to a lot of things and I know that it was her influence that had the greatest effect on me. The things she did for me during her short life helped shape me into the thirteen year old girl I was when she died. It is the legacy she left behind, however, that shaped me into who I am today. Her legacy of love and laughter has greatly influenced how I think about the world and interact with others. I hope that I will make her proud and pass on her wonderful legacy to the future generations of my family. I love you Mom; don’t you ever forget that.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Simply Cats

For my service learning class this semester I will be volunteering my time at an animal shelter called Simply Cats. I chose this shelter because I had to leave my kitties at home when I moved to Boise for college and I miss them. I am excited to be able to help the cats by showing them love and making sure their area stays clean. I look forward to working with Simply Cats this semester.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I Can Write to Change the World

“Writers can inspire a kinder, fairer, more beautiful world, or incite selfishness, stereotyping, and violence. Writers can unite people or divide them.” This statement from Mary Pipher’s novel entitled Writing to Change the World amazed me. I have always been the kind of writer who thought that the only people who would read my papers were teachers. I knew that they would constructively criticize my work, stick a grade at the top of the page, and then hand it back to me. From that point, I would put it in my writing portfolio where it would probably only see the light of day when I needed to prove the quality of my writing skills to someone. However, when I read the beginning of Pipher’s book I was stunned at how she described the power of words and more importantly the power of writers. I realized that my writing did not have to be only for the sole purpose of getting a grade, or an action to relieve the thoughts in my head. Writing could be used as a tool of great importance and worth; a tool that has the power to change the world. I discovered that what I have to say as a writer is important. My writing can connect people from all over the world, and it will make a difference. This semester I plan on believing in what I have to say, and to think of each essay as more than just another grade. I hope to accomplish a passionate tone in everything I write about. As Pipher said, “Your goal is to find the form that allows you to use every one of your talents in the service of what you consider to be your most important goals.” My goal this semester is to learn how to write to change the world.