WE’VE GOT YOUR SOCK, AND SO MUCH MORE!

IMG_0677IMG_0696IMG_0685IMG_0690-0Letters from happy customers hang on the walls at 702 Freedom Plains Road at the laundry mat in Apple Valley Plaza. As soon as customers walk through the door they are greeted with a bright smile, a warm ” hello”, and “what can I do to help you?”

For Suzy Kee, the owner, doing laundry isn’t only a job, it’s a passion. Both sets of Suzy’s grandparents owned laundry mats, and it is a tradition that she has found a way to embrace and make a huge part of her life. ” I love what I do,” Suzy says. “I’m not one of those people who gets up in the morning and hate going to work,” she said.   Suzy said when she started the laundry mat she wanted to pursue the American dream. ( that of being a business owner) She also said she wanted to reconnect with her ancestors, and that she felt that by starting the laundry mat she would be following in their foot steps.

When  deciding on a name for the business Suzy said she wanted something that was distinctive. She said, “I wanted something that reflected my personality.” She said that We’ve Got Your Sock, also displays a sense of humor. She said everyone has lost a sock at some point so the name fits with doing laundry. People have told Suzy that they’ve come to check out the laundry mat because of the name alone. But the name isn’t the only thing that makes this laundry mat unique.

The letters from customers line the walls of the laundry mat, but nostalgic memorabilia and antiques also line the shelves and extra spaces. Suzy gets the antiques from a variety of places. Sometimes she said she orders things from e-bay. She said she is always looking for something to make the place more appealing and relaxing.”I want it to be relaxing for the customers,”she said. ” I want people to have something to look at. Laundry is sometimes seen as a chore, if I can lighten it up for them, all the better,” she said. The antiques include a Maytag washing machine from 1946, a cold iron from the 1800’s, and a variety of cleaning supplies that are no longer being manufactured. She said it pulls things together and makes it pertinent. She said she didn’t want the laundry mat to be seen as just a place. She said that having the memorabilia makes people smile, which makes her smile.

Suzy’s former occupation was teaching, but she feels she isn’t far removed from it at the laundry mat. Suzy said, “No, I don’t miss teaching, because I’m still doing it in another way.” “I’m still doing the social aspects of teaching, it’s not just about book learning,” she said, “it’s about learning about life.”

She said she meets so many interesting people and that she learns from the customers all the time. “I’m learning about life through them,” she said. ” I get to know their life stories, they get to know mine,” she said. Suzy said she wants the business to be an interesting and friendly environment. “I want this (the business) to be an active part of the community,” she said. The business is becoming what she wants it to be. Students from the Anderson School for Autism come in once a week to learn about life skills such as cleaning, running a washing machine, taking out the garbage, etc.. She said they are learning about things that we take for granted. She said, “I’m blessed to have their assistance here. It reminds me of people who may be different from my immediate circumstance.” “We are all connected ,”she said.

We’ve Got Your Sock is extremely kid friendly. There are two aquariums, a children’s library, a maze bead cube, and a Fisher Price toy washer and dryer for the kids’ amusement and play. Suzy said, ”  making a place for the kids, that is the teacher in me.” She said, “kids will be bored and drive parents crazy if they don’t have something to do.” A bag filled with stickers, toys, and decorated pencils is kept in the corner for the children also. The child friendly atmosphere makes it easier for the parents to do their laundry without too much distraction she said.

Suzy said the laundry mat business is her life. She said, “I’ve met many close friends through the laundry mat.” “I met my boyfriend here,” she said. Among the services offered at the laundry mat are: self-service laundry,wash and fold, dry cleaning(not done on the premises),fax and copy machine services, alterations and repairing of clothes,and she sells Avon as a side business.

“I think if customers see that you are sincere, honest, caring, transparent, and hard-working, and you keep the place clean; they will come back,” she said. Suzy said,”If people see  that it’s not just a place, but that it’s a warm, caring, clean environment, they will want to come back.”

“I share whatever I  have,”she said. “There is nothing like seeing someone smile whether that person is an adult or a child. That makes my day,” she said.

THE EMOTIONAL VACUUM AFTER THE CHILDREN ARE GONE

.I never thought it would happen, but somehow, I have become my mother. I was  seventeen when my mother remarried and moved to another region of the country. Although I was remorse over having her move away, I was ecstatic that she had found someone who made her happy and to share her life with. Yet, her married bliss isn’t the topic of this post. A few weeks before she was to make that famous journey to New York, we sat at the kitchen table and she said,” Jo, the memories of raising children will overtake you if you don’t have something to fill the space of them leaving.” I didn’t have a clue as to what she meant as a seventeen year old.  Her words stayed with mewpid-IMG_20120818_173519.jpgIMG_0257.As a child I must have taken up a lot of “space” in her life

I can still hear my mother’s voice calling me every morning, that it was time to get up for school. She would call from the kitchen, “Jo-Anne, it’s time to get up.” I always overslept a little and she would wake me every morning until I entered middle school and got up on my own. Mother also woke up well before me and baked biscuits, made grits, sausage, or pancakes and bacon; whichever was in abundance in the kitchen cabinets.

Mom bathed my chicken pox and gave me St. Joseph’s baby aspirin for fever. She would pull the quilts over me when I had the chills; she would also remove the quilts when I was too warm from a fever. Mother would sit with me for hours at the doctor’s office because I was often sick as a child.

She washed my hair, dried it with an old towel,applied Royal Crown “grease” to make it shine, and straightened it with the “straightening comb”; sometimes burning my scalp. She took me to “town” to buy shoes from the only Buster Brown shoe store. She would buy patterns to make me dresses, and sit for days at the Singer sewing machine finishing those dresses . She planted a garden with tomatoes, onions, greens, and potatoes so there would be extra food on the table.

Mother buttoned my coat when I stood at the school bus stop in the cold. She drove me to school when I missed the bus. She worried about me every time I was in trouble. She cried inside when I didn’t have a boyfriend. She disciplined me when I skipped school and was incorrigible. She did all this for me and she still had seven other children to care for alone, after my father died.

I drove my last “baby” to college last September. When I returned “home” the house had taken on an enormity that I couldn’t describe. Even though the rooms were physically empty, all these pictures I envisioned kept going through my mind. These pictures included: Jaynae riding her bicycle outside and me yelling, “Be careful, don’t fall.” My walking Ima and Uyime to the bus stop on a crisp Fall morning. (seeing the two of them as a kindergartener and a third grader) I saw me and the children praying in the doorway before they went to school.I walked into their bedroom and saw myself reading to them before they drifted into sleep. I partially heard the repetitious songs I sang to  them at bedtime.

Then the years of driving them to dance class, piano practice, and  choir rehearsal came to mind; and the excitement of the recitals and of course the gorgeous stage costumes hanging in their closets. The day that I realized Jaynae was never coming home again surfaced. I walked once again into the room that holds every physical memory I managed to salvage of her life.

There were no voices to be  heard or physical bodies to be seen. All the noise that once so irritated me was now gone: I longed to hear one little “peep” of anything. The person that I’d created all those pictures with was gone too.(my ex-husband)

My mother’s words resonated in my head,”Jo, the memories of raising children will overtake you if you don’t have something to fill the space of them leaving.”  I hear you Mom and I  know for the first time in my life that because I am without my children doesn’t mean  I am without usefulness or purpose.

MY SIDE OF THE VACCINE DEBATE

My journey through the vaccine debate began when my oldest daughter was an infant. I was a young mother and believed everything I was told about immunizations being essential for good health. Yet when it was time for her immunizations, I felt apprehensive and sometimes even afraid. My fear stemmed from the fact that after every “shot” she received she would sleep for hours and develop extremely high fevers. I was told that this was a normal reaction to the vaccine. It was normal all right; it was the child’s body trying to fight off a toxic substance without going into  shock.

The first book I read that caused me to question the efficacy of vaccines was titled, ‘A Shot In The Dark’.  The book chronicled families whose children had either died or were crippled after receiving the DTP vaccine in toddlerhood. After reading this book I never felt the same about vaccines or disease again. My journey into the vaccine debate was only beginning.

I thought back to my first encounter with vaccines and how my youngest brother was an infant when he contracted a skin infection from touching the pus from a sore on my older brother’s arm from a vaccine my brother received. This was when the science of vaccines was relatively new, and my younger brother almost died from that skin infection. Roll the cameras forward a quarter of a century. I am a married woman; my next daughter is five years old. She goes to the doctor for her “booster” polio shot. For a week my daughter is unable to walk; my husband has to carry her around on his hip. For a time I thought she wouldn’t be able to walk again. I was floored by the guilt of allowing her to receive the immunization in the first place; I vowed she will never again be vaccinated with anything. The fight along the journey was still in its incubation period.

Yet another baby is born, and she was a miraculous birth, because she was born without my taking any anesthesia, spinals or anything. I boasted of my baby’s natural birth. I waited long past the time to take her to the doctor for a check up because I didn’t want them pedaling the vaccine drugs into her system. In  the doctor’s office, at the government level, and the school system, they all  sent the same message: if you want to protect your baby’s health, immunize her.( It is true ;if you want someone to believe a lie, speak it often and speak it loudly)

I succumbed to allowing the vaccine pushers to push two rounds of these “shots” into my toddler’s system. After the second round the child screamed so badly I said that’s it,, No child of mine will ever receive another “shot”, vaccine, immunization, or whatever you want to call it ever, ever again. And they never did. However, the vaccine proponents weren’t going to let me off the hook that easily.

I took my youngest daughter to the doctor because she suffered from eczema; she had a bad case of it. The doctor asked me, “Has she received all her immunizations?” I said,” No, we don’t believe in immunizations.” From the look on his face I might as well have said, we are taking her out back to sacrifice her. He became very arrogant and said, “Ok, if that’s how you feel.”When I pointed out her skin condition to him he said,”It’s there.” It took every ounce of restraint and Christianity that was in me to keep me from reaching across that man’ desk and slapping him. I later received a letter from the doctor’s office stating that in order to protect his other patients, he wouldn’t be able to treat my daughter. This was not the last doctor who would refuse to treat my children as a result of my stand against vaccines.

Jaynae was entering Middle School in 2001, and according to health officials she was due for her “booster” “shots”. This was the same child who couldn’t walk for a week after receiving a polio booster. School was about to open and she still wasn’t vaccinated. I received a love note from the principal telling me that if Jaynae wasn’t vaccinated by the time school opened, she would not be able to attend. I sent him a return love note stating: “Dear Principal: According to New York state law, I can claim exemption from receiving vaccines based upon my religious beliefs. I refuse vaccines for my daughter based upon my religious beliefs. If you have any further questions on the matter, I refer you and the  school district to my lawyer.”

The difference between living in a free society and a dictatorship is the ability to exercise your free will. Forced vaccinations takes free will  away from the citizen and puts it in the  hands of a tyrant. People may not be  being forced into vaccinating their children now, but they are certainly being coerced. The lie that is being put forth to the public is that vaccines are safe and effective; when neither is true.

THE PEACE OF GOD THAT PASSES UNDERSTANDING

Peace isn’t merely the absence of conflict. One can have peace even when things around you are not peaceful or pleasant. True peace has nothing to do with the circumstances going on around you; for real peace comes from Jesus Christ.

Before Jesus was to be crucified he told his disciples that he was leaving them with peace, but not the peace that the world gives.(St. John 14:27) The peace of the world is when everything is good, I have peace. When everything isn’t good, I don’t have peace. The reason the Christian can have peace in trying circumstances is because our trust isn’t in the system of things called the world; A Christian’s citizenship is in heaven, and even though we are affected by what goes on in the world, we are not controlled by what goes on in the world.

There was a story of a woman who was a Christian and she was on an airplane that was certain to crash. I believe that this woman was saddened that her life was about to end; however what she  did rather than  focus on her  impending death was to minister to those aboard the flight who did not have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. It is unknown how many souls she may have led  to the Lord in the final moments of her life, simply because she didn’t allow the dreadful circumstances to disturb the peace that God had given her and her purpose.

The Christian is to seek peace and there is a reason for it. (I Peter 3:11) One thing that God wants for his people is soundness of mind, It isn’t possible to have a sound mind if your temperament is changed by circumstances. Jesus also told his followers that in the world they would have tribulation, but that they were not to worry; he had overcome the world. ( St. John 16:33) Not only are we to seek to maintain peace in our own hearts, but we are to seek peace among others; even those who have no desire to be peaceful with us. Matthew 5:9 says that “Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Being a peace maker does not mean being a door mat; it means continually seeking understanding and communication among those we come in contact with, even when it may cause us discomfort.

Isaiah 26:3 says” You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.” It is impossible to keep your mind focused on God without focusing on his word, the Bible. If you believe God’s word, it is equal to trusting in him. God can not be separated from his word. Another way we seek peace is by being thankful. It is difficult to be peaceful with a spirit of ungratefulness. Colossians 3:15 says,” Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Being thankful in all circumstances brings about peace. So if  I have enough money, I am thankful; if I have no money, I am thankful. That is what I Thessalonians 5:16 means when it says to be thankful in every circumstance.

In Ephesians 4:3 we are encouraged to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond  of peace. Peace strengthens unity; it is peace that binds us together. There can be no unity in the body of Christ without peace. Peace is what the world is yearning for; and it will attempt to bring about peace with a forced unity, which will not work. Again the source of unity in the body of Christ comes from striving for a Christ- like life and having the mind of Jesus Christ.

Finally, peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Fruit takes many years to mature in the natural; it is no different in the spirit realm. It is through time and learning that we acquire the peace that transcends understanding. This peace the world can not give. As the words of the spiritual IMG_0663 says, “…This peace that I have, the world didn’t give it, the world can’t take it away.