The Forgotten Cops

Imagine going to spend your day amongst the worst of the worst - murderers, pedophiles and rapists, bank robbers, etc. Now imagine that on top of the 8-12 hours you will spend with these people, you will do it outnumberd by at least 80-100 to 1. You will not be armed with a firearm to protect yourself. If you're lucky, you may have OC (pepper) spray and you may have a stab vest. Maybe. Imagine that you are the voice of authority and it is your responsibility to keep these prisoners peaceful in a confined space, knowing that being locked up in an incarcerated state, some with nothing to lose, can make people act and react differently. Now imagine doing this day after day - essentially locked up for an entire shift with the very people that society deems unsafe; the offenders that society doesn't want to deal with. These offenders were sentenced by a court of law and then basically forgotten about as they were sent "away" - except some people still have to think about them, deal with them, protect YOU from them. 

The people that stand between US and the criminals our judicial system has deemed unworthy to live in the open world are Correctional Officers and Workers. And in 1984, President Ronald Reagan admitted that "the important work of correctional Officers often does not receive the recognition from the public it deserves." He then deemed the first full week of May, each year, as National Correctional Officers and Employees Week. This year, it will be May 6th-12th, 2018.
While I may be somewhat biased as I am married to a Correctional Officer, their job is one that we should ALL be concerned with and appreciative of. My husband spends his days supervising men convicted of possession of large amounts of child porn, men who have taken the life of another person, men who have met children and teens for sex, men who have schemed and connived to swindle hardworking people out of their life savings, men who have led corrupt and shameless political lives. While they are still human beings and I'm proud of the way my husband treats them as such, they are also demented and dangerous; unfit to walk alongside the rest of us in the free world. Without Correctional Officers and Workers, these dangerous criminals would put our children, our livlihoods, and our lives at risk. Instead, Correctional Officers put their own lives at risk to keep the rest of us safe.

Mu husband has come home with bruised ribs when an angry inmate didn't like the particulars of his laundry service and attacked him. He has seen a crazed inmate sever his own penis. He has seen men who can no longer take their guilt or their incarceration hang themselves. The sounds and sights he, and others like him, have seen and had to live with are more than most of us can even imagine. Yet when discussing first responders, protectors, sheepdogs, most people never think of Correctional Officers. We send dangerous criminals away, out of sight, out of mind - but don't think about the heroes who put their lives on the line each and every day so that we can feel and be safer without these dangerous people on the loose. We don't think about the things these Officers endure and live with so that we don't have to.

So in the upcoming couple of weeks, particularly May 6th-12th, please think about the men and women who go to work each day in an enclosed, locked down environment; surrounded by the worst our society has to offer, some with nothing to lose; unarmed; knowing their lives are at risk so that their own families and even strangers can sleep better at night, knowing these criminals cannot get to them. Please say a prayer to keep them safe so that they come home unharmed to their loved ones each night. And if you see a Correctional Officer or know one, please tell them Thank You, that you appreciate the work they do to keep us safe.

If you love a good bargain and a great value, you HAVE to try Ipsy!

I've mentioned Ipsy before, but after getting this month's Glam Bag, I had to share! By now, you might have picked up on the fact that I love a bargain and aim to be budget friendly. Those are two reasons I LOVE Ipsy! Each month, I get a super cute little bag filled with various items - each, individually, almost always worth the $10 price on their own - yet I get all five! 

Ten bucks a month, five awesome items to try (and buy at a discount if I want more), AND each arrives in a cute little bag to reuse over and over. Here is what I got just this month:

If you are on a budget, love trying new beauty products (tailored to your preferences), and love a great value, you have to try Ipsy

5 Favorite Drug Store Buys

There are some products that I splurge on, spending a little extra because I really love the way they work and haven't found a cheaper equivalent. But with so many different brands and companies catering to millions of skin care and cosmetic product buying women (and men), the quality of products sold at drug and discount stores has dramatically improved in the past 10 years. I've put together a list of 5 of my very favorites for you to try and hopefully, love as much as I do!

Neutrogena Pore Refining Toner - Not only does this give my face a clean, fresh canvas in the morning, but it also helps reduce the size of pores. How to use: Apply to face with a cotton ball, after washing, before moisturizer. Let dry before applying moisturizer.

Loreal Paris Advanced Hairstyle SLEEK IT Iron Straight Heat Spray - I might have been a little behind the game on the whole heat spray thing, but now that I've caught on, I'm never going back! This stuff makes drying my hair (and I have LOTS of it) much faster, and it gets rid of the weird wave my hair has if I don't straighten or curl it. How to use: Section hair into 2-3 inch sections and spray mid-shaft to end. Comb through hair and blow dry. Style as usual - though I've found little to no need to straighten if I use this stuff!

Maybelline Total Temptation Eyebrow Definer Pencil - Not a fan of the sharpie brows, but still wanting some definition, I love this stuff. Easy coloring to draw/fill in with a convenient brush on the other end. How to use: Use the colored end to fill in brows and define edges, then brush through with the other end.

e.l.f. Hydrating Face Primer - To be honest, e.l.f. has several really good items for an inexpensive price, but this one is my favorite. It delivers on the hydration, which if you live in a dry climate like I do, you can never get enough skin hydration. It also goes on really easy and lays a great foundation for your foundation! How to use: Apply generously to entire face before foundation or BB cream.

Cover Girl Clump Crusher Extensions Lashblast Mascara - I cannot believe the incredible number of different mascaras in the world! I've definitely found it overwhelming, especially when so many of them don't deliver what they promise or what I want. Drugstore brand or not, this is seriously my very favorite mascara, to the point that I've even layered it and use the brush over the higher end mascaras that cost way more. This brush truly is a clump crusher and works amazingly. How to use: Apply even coat to your lashes. Layer until your desired length and thickness.

So there you have my top 5 choices for discount/drug store brands. What are some of your favortites?

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

For almost 40 years now, the second week of April each year has been recognized as National Public Safety Telecommunicators’ Week. This is a week when those who are often overlooked and rarely thanked are recognized and acknowledged for the crucial and extraordinary role they play in public safety.

Emergency Communications is not a career you join for notoriety or fame, as dispatchers and call-takers are often dismissed, overlooked, and generally, forgotten about. Unless you have had to call 911 (and even if you have, at some point), who thinks about that job, really? Rarely seen, it’s easy to forget the many, many professionals it takes to keep things running smoothly. It is also not the career field for you if you want to have a “normal” schedule, want to be able to attend all your friends’ and family’s functions, or want to have a low-stress schedule and job to visit every day.

A career in Public Safety Communications will provide you with sometimes lasting memories of those you tried to help, voices of the helpless as they witnessed their loved ones dying, breaths of those who reached out in desperation or hopefulness, screams from mothers who cannot find their children or worse, have found their children harmed, and the unsettling tone of an officer when you know something is not right and they are in potentially grave danger. This career field may also furnish you the opportunity for PTSD, excessive overtime hours, negative health effects and risks, high stress levels, anxiety, and depression. Numerous studies have linked the stress and vicarious trauma experienced by 911 professionals to ongoing emotional damage and disorders.

Emergency Dispatcher has been repeatedly named as one of the most stressful jobs there is in numerous studies. These multi-tasking experts speak to people in crisis, often on the worst days of their lives. They provide the calm voice in a tornado of emotion, the rock-solid logic in situations beyond conscious comprehension, the steadfast voice of devotion and support to field responders.

Dispatchers listen to callers yell at them to send the police faster, curse at them for perceived injustices that have nothing to do with the dispatcher or even police or fire at all, and listen to he-said-she-said stories convoluted to the point you wonder when people stopped being adults. Dispatchers listen to the public critique their job performance, with little to no actual knowledge of the job or circumstance. They listen to others label them as clerical workers, with no understanding of the highly technical and skilled work they do. And through it all, they answer the next call, not knowing what it might be.
Why would anyone sign up for this?? The answers vary as much as the diverse group of individuals talented enough to do this job, but it always comes down to this: they care. Sure, they have dark senses of humor to be able to emotionally handle the horrible things people do to each other; they joke about having black souls or hearts; they learn how to compartmentalize circumstances and emotions so that they can cope with the plethora of situations they come in contact with each shift. They sometimes experience unexpected side effects of the job like no longer being able to sit through an entire movie without doing something else on the side, hating to talk on the phone outside of work, a disdain for empty small talk, or always thinking of the worst that can happen because they actually deal with the worst. But each time that phone rings, they are there to answer.

They are there to obtain information and details to send assistance and to help field responders not only provide the absolute best care possible but to be able to do it safely so they can go home to their own families and lives. Dispatchers are there to calm the scared, settle the upset, and simmer the deranged. They do it because they believe in what they are doing and they truly want to help. And they do it whether you know their job title or not, whether their officers and firefighters know their dispatchers’ names or not, and whether they are thanked or not.

That is what makes National Public Safety Telecommunicators’ Week so special. It is a week when these ultimate professionals are reminded that though often unseen, they are not invisible. Please keep that in mind this NPSTW. It may be just another week with business as usual, but it’s also much, more more. It is an expression of gratitude towards those who seamlessly perform their complex role with little to no recognition. It is a gesture of support from those who dispatchers tirelessly support, assist, and defend - their co-workers, whether they be police officers, animal services officers, firefighters, paramedics, city services officers; their families; and their citizens. And it’s an expression of loyalty that although dispatchers are not there for the recognition, they are worthy recipients of it.

Easy Way to Make Extra Cash AND Declutter Your Closet!

Looking for some extra money? Or just wanting to get rid of some clutter? It’s so much easier than you think!

Having a garage sale used to be the way to go to get rid of all those clothes you don’t wear, but I am about to tell you about something SO much easier and way more lucrative! No more price stickers, table set up, cleaning out the garage or driveway, or having strangers rifle through your things, at your home, just to make $2 off a pair of jeans that cost you $80 originally.

It’s been estimated that Americans only wear 20% of what is in their closets - whether that is because you have a bunch of impulse buys hanging in there or “bargains” that you had to buy because it was such a good deal, even if it doesn't fit or look quite right. If you are anything like me, it is hard to part with these items because you spent your hard earned money on them! They idea of selling that great $40 sweater, even if it’s too small, for $3 at a garage sale is a tough pill to swallow!
So let me introduce you to Poshmark. Poshmark is an online marketplace of clothing, bags, accessories, and beauty items. Not only can you purchase new and used items from other sellers, at the same flat shipping rate, but it’s an amazing way to declutter! I’ve sold many, many items of clothing, curling irons, shoes, etc. for prices that I would never get at a yard sale!
To sell an item, I just take some good photos with my phone, upload them to the Poshmark app, add a description for potential buyers, and wait for someone to purchase it! I can offer discounts if they purchase more than one item from me. I set my own prices, with a small portion going to Poshmark as a selling fee. In the time I have casually been using Poshmark to weed through some of my closet, I’ve made $672! When have you ever made that much from a yard sale? (Not including furniture and large items, of course) AND, I post and ship at my convenience. When I make a sale, Poshmark sends me the shipping label. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
Like I mentioned, you can find some great deals on Poshmark, as well. We all know that when you go on vacation, you have to have some new “vacation clothes”, right? I’ve found some amazing deals on name brand clothing, in new or great condition, for a fraction of what they would cost in stores. There’s also special occasion dresses, new shoes, you name it.

So bottom line, this is a super easy, efficient way to make some cash and declutter your house and closet, at the same time. And if all of that wasn’t incentive enough, sign up for Poshmark with the code JAMISON12306, and get $5! That's free money, on top of what you will earn on your own!

First Trip To Australia - Part One

Dream Come True

I have seriously wanted to visit Australia, more than anywhere else, since I was a teenager. I was a dorky kid that would check out books about Australia from the library, and would visit travel agencies to get brochures, then cut them up and make collages about Australia that hung on my bedroom walls. So suffice it to say, I really wanted to go there. My fascination started when I went to an INXS concert when I was 15. They were my favorite band after that and because they were from Australia, it piqued an interested in the land down under. The more I learned about Oz, the more I fell in love and just knew I would love it there.

Fast forward a few years, (OK, more like 20+ years) and I finally got my opportunity! My sister decided she was going to take her annual vacation in Australia. This was my chance! So with a little planning, we did it. We visited for a full week, which was definitely not enough but still sufficient to get to see some things and make the very long flight worth it.

My sister and I live in two different states, so we both flew separately and met up at LAX. I had never been there before and it is a big airport, but surprisingly easy to navigate and not too confusing. From LAX, we boarded our 15 hour flight to Sydney, in FIRST CLASS, courtesy of my sister generously using her credit card points to upgrade us. Let me tell you, if you have the option or budget or even rewards points or miles to upgrade to first class, for a trip like this, it is SO worth it. We flew coach on the way home, and it is totally doable - definitely don't be discouraged if first class is not in the cards.

This was the first time I had been on a flight that was more than 3 hours. Fortunately, we flew overnight - leaving LAX around 11pm, which means we could sleep most of the way there and land refreshed as it was morning, the day before, in Sydney. The time/date change was kind of confusing but it all worked out.

For a flight this long, make sure you bring a few essentials:
  • pajamas or comfortable clothes
  • warm socks
  • warm sweater, scarf, shawl, or throw blanket
  • toothbrush and toothpaste
  • makeup or cosmetics - whatever will help you feel refreshed and clean
Even flying overnight and getting there in the morning, jet lag is still very real so make sure you plan for that and don't try to accomplish too much the first day.

We arrived in Sydney, grabbed a cab, and headed to our hotel. We stayed in Circular Quay (Quay is pronounced 'Key' for some of you Americans, especially you southerners) at the Marriott, which was perfect for first timers. Circular Quay is not only where the Opera House is located, but lots of shops, restaurants, and it's a bustling area for catching ferries or trains to most other places around Sydney.

Our first day in Sydney, we spent walking around Circular Key, getting our bearings, getting our Opal card (public transit), and familiarizing ourselves with how things worked. Our first glimpses of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House were surreal and very exciting! We took a nap in the hotel room before heading out for our first evening in Sydney.

Meeting Icons

As I mentioned above, I have been an INXS fan since I was a teen and was completely enamored with them. They sparked my interested in all things Australian, so when I happened to see on Facebook that they were having a listening party for their remastered Kick album, in Sydney, on the day we got there, I knew I had to be there. I wasn't sure what to expect, other than it was at a movie theater, but to me, I just felt like it was something INXS while in Australia so it was fitting. 

Fast forward to sitting in a movie theater, only 3 rows up from the front, with members of the band sitting, chatting, and answering questions at the front of the theater, and other members sitting further behind us in the theater. After the initial interview, we sat in the dark theater, full of INXS fans and band members, just listening and enjoying the full Kick album, remastered. It was a really cool experience that I will remember for a very long time! 

Following listening to the album and a question and answer session with the audience and band, I was so thrilled to get to meet a couple of the band members - Kirk Pengilly and Andrew Farriss. These are men I admired and listened to, read about, followed for over 20 years. And much to my delight, they were just as friendly and gracious in person as I hoped they would be. 

We walked back to the hotel from the theater, completely excited and happy at our first night in Sydney, sneaking a walk by the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, looking forward to Day 2 in the land down under!

The Shift Workers’ Guide to Better Sleep

Until I was already in my 30s, most of my career hours consisted of the usual “bankers’ hours,” in which I had evenings and most weekends off. Following my heart to a new career in 911 dispatch led to job and personal fulfillment, but it also led to shift work - a job that does not sleep and unfortunately, depending on my shift, I wasn’t getting much sleep either. My first shift rotation on graveyards was a nightmare. I was tired all the time, grouchy with my then boyfriend (now husband - bless his heart), depressed, experienced weight gain, you name it. After years of rotating shifts and having to work night shift, it is still not my favorite but I have learned to live with it. I’ve also learned some tips and tricks to make it better that I will share with you to hopefully lead to restful, fulfilling sleep and a healthier life all around. 
  1. Blackout curtains: these are a non-negotiable. The difference they make when trying to get to (and stay) asleep is immense. They don’t have to be expensive., fancy, or high dollar. I was extremely lucky to find mine at a local yard sale, but I’ve also found some great looking and functional ones at Tuesday Morning, Ross, and Burlington Coat Factory for budget friendly prices. The only downside is trying to find the right size and matching panels can get pretty tricky in store. Check out these from Amazon as well - inexpensive, great reviews, and I promise, will make all the difference if you are not already using blackout curtains. Side note: many blackout curtains are also thermal and energy efficient, so bonus!
  2. Magnesium: this is something I’ve only recently learned about - thanks to my mom, but have no idea how its not better known! There are magnesium supplements that come as teas, chewable tablets, pills to swallow - pretty much a method for everyone. I tried some cherry flavored chewable tablets that I found on sale because I didn’t know how much stock I put in their power. I was so impressed and surprised the first time I tried them! I chewed two tablets, a little chalky but not bad, and within 10 minutes, I felt so relaxed and calm. For those of us that work in a sometimes high adrenaline career field (law enforcement, dispatch, nursing, firefighter, paramedic, etc), it can be difficult to unwind at the end of a shift. The magnesium supplement is an all natural and super effective way to do just that. Calms, relaxes my mind and body, so I feel ready to rest and sleep. My parents both love and swear by the Calm brand of gummies and teas. As mentioned, I take two chewable tablets of 200mg each.
  3. Cut yourself off from the coffee, tea, even water after a certain time. The caffeinated drinks will keep you awake longer, obviously, but they are also diuretics which means they will keep you awake with a constant reminder from your bladder. Water or any other liquid beverage will do the same so try to cut yourself off at least 2 hours before the end of your shift.
  4. White noise: Even night sleepers sometimes swear by this, but for day shifters specifically, it can be an excellent way to drown out the inherent sounds of the rest of the world functioning when you are trying to sleep. Car doors opening or closing, honking horns or car alarms, lawnmowers or landscapers, you name it - white noise can help eliminate those sounds and lull you to sleep.  
  5. Give yourself permission to sleep!! This one was a biggie for me, especially on weekends when everyone else I know and all the people with “normal hours” were out and about, doing fun weekend and family things. It took me quite a while to be ok with silencing my phone, ignoring notifications, etc. but everyone else sleeps when you are working - you need the same sleep and its imperative to your well being that you allow yourself to do so. This goes for family and friends as well. I am fortunate enough to have a husband who worked shift work for a very long time so he gets it, but sometimes still needs a gentle reminder that I’m not getting enough sleep or that I need to sleep a little longer. If you need to explain it to your family and friends, do so gently but assertively, and do not feel guilty about needing sleep.

The Forgotten Cops

Imagine going to spend your day amongst the worst of the worst - murderers, pedophiles and rapists, bank robbers, etc. Now imagine that o...