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!

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.

Magic Beans

New Year’s Eve 2003: I had talked my then husband into getting a new puppy. We already had a 1.5 year old lab named Gracie, but I had seen an ad online for free puppies in a nearby town. Of course, I was younger and more naive, and didn’t know the dangers of “free puppies” but it all worked out. We drove 30 minutes to the neighboring town, already dark out, and walked up to the house. The people were very nice and friendly, explaining that their son and daughter-in-law had their purebred German Shepherd at the house and she had somehow escaped the yard one night. And here she was with a litter of puppies - except there was only one left. He was the biggest of the litter. As soon as I saw him, I fell in love, though I had no idea just how deep it would go.

We got home, introduced him to Gracie, and debated on names. A friend of mine was over and suggested Rocco - as in Rocco DiSpirito, a popular chef who had a television show at the time. I liked the name and decided Rocko fit my little guy, so Rocko he became.

Over the following months, it was interesting to see how different he was than Gracie. Rocko was mellow, more easy going, not the insane chewer that Gracie was. Gracie had learned house training very quickly, whereas I sometimes wondered if Rocko would EVER get it. He eventually did - and understood it so well, he rarely had an accident in all his years.
When my ex-husband and I split, I took both the dogs for a while, but eventually, he took Gracie and I took Rocko. Rocko had always been my baby, much more interested in what I was doing and where I was going than he was of my ex-husband. In fact, Rocko and I had a bond - it felt like I could look at him and he knew was I was thinking; he knew what I wanted or expected. He also knew what I needed when I was upset or unhappy.

Through divorce, moving to Arkansas where we lived with my sister for a while, then on our own, with a boyfriend and his Belgian Malinois (retired K9), back on our own, and back to Colorado, Rocko was my one constant. Breakups, divorce, cross country moves - he was with me all along the journey. Loneliness, happiness, Rocko Beans was there to share it all. 

And oh, the memories we made. Like when he somehow got a soup bone (marrow bone) that was hallowed out lodged on his lower jaw, behind his canine teeth. A trip the vet so they could saw it off solved that problem. Or the time it was subzero temps outside, with snow everywhere, so I thought I would keep his little paws warm by putting socks on his feet. I thought it was ingenious to use an elastic ponytail holder to keep then on his feet. That is, until the next day when Rocko started limping, then started not walking at all on one of his rear legs. He would not let me look closely to figure out what was going on. I assumed he had stepped on something or had something major going on. After trying to sneak a closer look for a while, I finally caught a glimpse of what was causing the issue and I was horrified. I had, apparently, not taken off all of the ponytail holders - one was still around his lower leg, cutting into his skin and causing pain and discomfort so that he didn’t even want to walk on that leg! Obviously, it wasn’t the ingenious idea I thought it was and I felt like the biggest pet mom failure. I had to call my best friend to come over so she could hold him down and I could cut the elastic off of his leg. Sure enough, he was back to walking like normal within just a couple minutes. I felt so terrible. I also never used socks or ponytail holders again to keep his feet warm. Lesson learned. 

Rocko was in great health for most of his life. As he started getting up in years, I started him on supplements for his joints and hips. When he started to slow down considerably and showed signs of pain and discomfort just getting up and down, the vet explained that Rocko had arthritis in his back end. As it progressed, it spread to his spine and nerves to where sometimes he looked like he was drunk, having a hard time balancing and walking straight. Through it all, he always greeted me at the door. And as he lost some hearing, if he did not hear the door, he would come to greet me as soon as he realized I was home. He was always happy to see Mom. And I was always happy to see my sweet boy. 

The hardest decision I’ve ever made was not just to euthanize my beloved boy, but WHEN to do it. He still had good days. He still had days where he wanted to romp around outside and was so happy and smiling in the sunshine. But those days became fewer and further apart. I read article after article online. I talked to friends who had gone through this awful part of having a pet. Eventually, with help from my soon to be husband, I decided it was time. It was clear he was in pain and was not the happy, mellow dog he had been, but instead uncomfortable and showing signs of doggie dementia, barking at things in the middle of the night that weren’t there. I truly couldn’t bear the thought of a life without my Beans, but even more so, I couldn’t bear the thought of him suffering in silent pain because I was not strong enough to let him go, especially after all the years of love and companionship he had given me. 

My (now) husband made the vet appointment for me, at my request. I will say that his love for Rocko is one of the things I love most about him. He adored Rocko, would spend time brushing him, spooning with him on the floor, or even cooking rice and hamburger when Rocko’s tummy was upset and I was out of town. The morning of the appointment, I came home from work and laid on the bedroom floor, holding my sweet Rocko. I cried and cried. Waiting for the time to go was torture. I just kept thinking how was I going to make it through? He had been my one constant for over fourteen years. What would life without him be like? As much as I always knew the time would come, I was not prepared to actually have to face it.

At the vet, they took us to a quiet room with a small couch and big area rug, where we could sit with Rocko and be comfortable. We said our goodbyes and I held Rocko, whispering in his ear and hugging him. They gave him a shot to put him to sleep before giving him the fatal shot. I cried like I’d never cried before, knowing he was never coming back. He was not coming home with us. I would never again be greeted at the door by his big pink tongue or his bushy, wagging tail, or those huge, soulful brown eyes. 

I walked out of the vet without the love of my life that day, bawling and lost. 

Not too long after we lost Rocko, we adopted a puppy from the Humane Society. To this day, I cannot imagine sharing the same bond I had with Rocko with any other animal. I miss him dearly, as his ashes and photo sit atop a shelf in our living room, dedicated completely to him. He left a huge void in our lives and giving a home to another puppy was something we knew we wanted to do, although she, nor any other, will ever replace my sweet Beanie Boy.

Basics for First Time Travel to Australia

What You Need to Know... 

 After dreaming about it for decades, I finally had the opportunity to visit Australia, last October. I was beyond excited as I had been reading about the land down under since I was 15. I used to visit travel agencies and ask for brochures about Australia, then make collages out of the photos in the brochures and hang them on my wall. Yes, I was a dork, but the bottom line is that I finally got to go! It was an amazing trip that I got to share with my sister. Now that I've been there, I'm hooked and would love to go back. This time though, I know more specifically what and where I'd like to see. I've put together some of the basics I learned and feel are important for those traveling to Australia for the first time.

 1. If you can travel First Class, DO IT! It was about a 15 hour flight from LA to Sydney, on top of the flight from your city to LA. I was so fortunate that my sister upgraded us to First Class with credit card miles. The catch is that it was only for the trip there - we flew Coach for the trip back to the states. Since this is not your typical flight across a few states, the First Class seats made all the difference. First Class offered room to stretch your legs, pampering from flight staff, and the ability to sleep comfortably. It also offers BOSE headphones, lots of little extras like toothbrush and socks, but those were not as important to me as the huge difference in comfort.

 2. Learn public transport. In my home city, I've never ridden a bus or a train. However, that was how we got around the entire time we were in Australia, other than a cab ride from the airport to the hotel. (If you are going to take a cab from or to the airport, make sure you negotiate the price ahead of time.) Australians have made it really easy with the Opal Card. You can load it at most stations and stops through an automated machine and just swipe when getting on or off a bus, train, or even a ferry. There's an app, as well as lots of boards with information listed at the stations and stops.

3. If you smoke, now is the time to quit. While it's incredibly unhealthy and I'm sure you know all the negative aspects of smoking, maybe the most detrimental is to your wallet in Australia. A pack of cigarettes will run you between $25-$35 and will come with a very unpleasant photo on the package. Black lungs, a dying baby, missing or cancerous mouths - not exactly what you want to see when you are lighting up.

 4. Ice is hard to come by. When you order a drink (water, soft drink, etc.), it rarely comes with ice. Even when you ask for "ice water," it often comes without the ice. Funnily enough, I drank a lot of Icees AKA frozen Cokes from Hungry Jack's (Australian version of Burger King) because I needed something COLD and it had ice in it!

5. Tipping and eating at restaurants is different than what Americans are used to. I had read before we left the states that Australians don't tip at restaurants, typically. It seemed like a really foreign idea to me that I had a hard time wrapping my mind around, especially since it's so important in the states to tip servers and bartenders, as that's how they make their living. One morning at breakfast, we had a server greet us and bring us our water, but then another server came to take our order. Then, yet another person brought us our food. While it would seem like stepping on toes back home in the states, servers in Australia are paid a living wage and do not rely predominantly on tips, as they do in the U.S. If you receive outstanding service, of course you are still welcome to tip! But do not feel pressured by the 15-25% standard from the U.S. Also, keep in mind that no tipping and paying livable wages means they make it up somewhere - and you will see it in the prices. Restaurant prices, for the most part, are quite a bit pricier than in the states. Keep that in mind when planning your budget and travel arrangements.

6. In an emergency, you call 000. It works just like 911 in the U.S. but is important to note in case of emergency.

Stay tuned for more about visiting Australia!

The Ultimate List of Must See Movies from the 80s and 90s

One of my Facebook friends recently posted that they were having a family movie weekend and were
looking for suggestions for 80s and 90s movies to share with their kids. This is a subject a lot of people have definite opinions on so I decided to make my own list. Whether you have kids or not, these are some great movies to indulge in for a long movie weekend or for a nostalgic, feel-good evening in.

Take a look and let me know what you think. In (mostly) no particular order, here they are:

The Princess Bride (20th Anniversary Edition)Ok, so this is my very favorite movie ever, so I had to list it first. This movie has it all, including about a gazillion lines that are perfect for quoting! Though a lot of people have been turned off by it's "chick flick" sounding name, this has something for everyone. I saw an interview with Rob Reiner once, the director of the film and about a thousand others, who said this was one of his all time favorites. That's got to mean something, right?

Home Alone It's not Christmas time without Home Alone! (And Home Alone 2: Lost in New York) My favorite holiday movie, I have to watch it for it to truly feel like the holiday season. And then I watch it no less than 20 times before Christmas is over. ;)

The Goonies - Josh Brolin as a young, buff older brother to Sean Astin, along with Corey Feldman and the rest of the gang made this movie easy to watch over and over. Even now, when it is on TV, I find myself drawn to watching it.

The 'BurbsWho doesn't love Tom Hanks? We found this in the bargain bin a couple months ago and brought it home to enjoy again. It never disappoints.

BigTom Hanks again, but he is so good! You'll never NOT notice an Ask Zoltar machine again, and you can't help but love the infamous giant piano, "Chopsticks" scene!

Troop Beverly HillsThis was a slumber party hit when I was a kid! Shelly Long as mom and troop leader, she was so endearing. Her antics made things entertaining, even if they were a little misguided at times. This recently came on a TV at work and about 5 coworkers (all female) did a collective "aww" while this movie took them right back to their childhoods.

Adventures in BabysittingNOT the remake. I am talking the original, 1987, Elizabeth Shue version.

Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's DeadYes, I still watch this occasionally. And yes, I still want to be like Sue Ellen (Christina Applegate) sometimes.

Say AnythingIs there anyone more endearing that John Cusack trying to win a girl over?

The Great OutdoorsJohn Candy and Dan Aykroyd spend some quality family time in a cabin, which makes for some good laughs for the whole family.

Romancing The StoneAlong with the sequel, Jewel of the Nile, these movies had action, mystery, love (with Michael Douglas no less!), and adventure! I'm thinking it might be time for me to have an evening with Joan Wilder soon!
Better Off DeadJohn Cusack, king of awesome 80s movies, tries to win back his girl from a ski jerk. So many quirks and funny scenes in this one!

Father Of The Bride(And FOTB 2) Steve Martin and Martin Short, along with Diane Keaton and BD Wong. Need I say more?

OverboardI've heard they are making a new one, but it'll never compare to Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.

Stand By Me (Special Edition)River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Will Wheaton, and Jerry O'Connell in what they call a "coming of age" tale. So good and a definite must see.

When Harry Met Sally...Though maybe not best for the kiddos, absolutely a must see with Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.

And a few more....

Can't Buy Me Love
Kindergarten Cop
Uncle Buck
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Anything John Hughes - Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful

What are some of your favorites and recommendations?

Must Visit Places in Central/Northern California

Our original plan was to spend a couple full days in San Francisco. However, after spending one day in the city and having an opportunity to see a little of the California "country," we were so hooked on the natural beauty of the state that we both agreed we would much rather explore those parts than spend another day in San Francisco. I knew there were pretty parts of the state, as there are most states, but had no idea of the abundance of breathtaking views California offers.

Our first stop was Muir Woods, outside San Francisco. The drive up to the parking area provided some impressive views of the city from what felt like mountains and cliffs. Winding up and around, it was also really cool to see some of the houses where those lucky people get to live. Fortunately, I had visited the National Park Service website for Muir Woods the day before and knew we had to have reservations to park, so we were set with parking and ready to head into the park

If you have never seen Redwoods or Sequoias, this place is incredible! The size and height of the trees is astonishing, but also quite chilly! We were there in February, so it was a little cooler already, but inside the park with the cover of these massive trees, it stays quite cool so be sure to dress accordingly. Also, be sure to bring your camera as there are tons of amazing photo ops! On the way back down the hill, we stopped at Muir Beach. It was relatively small but uncrowded and absolutely gorgeous! I had never seen dark sand like that, yet it was still so thick and soft. Watching the waves bit against big black rocks, it was mesmerizing to watch. It also reminded me of scenes from The Goonies!

From Muir Woods, we headed to Point Reyes National Seashore to see some sunshine and waves. I had read about the lighthouse and was excited to walk down to it to watch for whales and get some awesome views. Unfortunately, after driving (a beautiful drive on some really rough paved roads) for about 45-60 minutes through the area, we discovered that the lighthouse was closed and only open on certain days. While I was pretty disappointed, it was still not only a gorgeous drive, but some inspiring views from the observation deck. We did not see any whales but apparently, winter and spring are the time to watch for them.

The following day, we were ready for more California nature, so we headed west to Bodega Bay. Between the drive there, the walk on the beach, the drive up the coast, and lunch with wild sea lions swimming around and bobbing up to say hello, the natural beauty is almost overwhelming. The vegetation up and down the coast has flowers and all different colored flora, set against the backdrop of sandy beaches, white waves,  black rocks, and gorgeous blue ocean. This was one of my favorite places in the world. 

 After walking up and down the beach a couple miles, we stopped at The Tides Wharf Restaurant for some seafood. They did not disappoint! We started with an appetizer of calamari, artichokes, and giant prawns that were absolutely delicious. I ordered a crab sandwich and he had chef's choice seafood linguine with vegetables - both were quite tasty! While enjoying our food, we were seated facing the water, which surrounded the restaurant on 3 sides. We saw something bobbing up and down so we lifted the shade to see it better. It was a sea lion just a few feet away! During the course of our meal, we saw at least 8-10 of them, swimming around, popping up to look around. It really made the meal even more enjoyable and entertaining. After several full days of California's seafood, wildlife, and breathtaking landscapes, we can't wait to go back!

National Police Week

Each year, one week is set aside, designated as National Police Week. It began in 1962, when President Kennedy proclaimed May 15th as Peac...