Developing Tree of Stars

I wanted to share abit of the process & change with Tree of Stars, to the best of my ability since April 2017.

First I wanted to mention that our mission statement has changed a couple of times which is due to the growth in participation & many learning curves which leads us to amazing successful moments.

My name is Jessica Compton, I am the founder & director of Tree of Stars. I started reaching out organically in the development of a hand mapped out Cafe tour in the Hamilton area that consisted of a brochure/flyer that had me telling my story.

I walked around Hamilton handing the brochures to cafe owners asking them to post them for outreach. Some days I would drive and take a friend with me. I remember my cousin Teresa McLean I completed 25 cafes in one day.

I would encourage others to connect with me on social media/email/text, to meet up in person for peer support, or offer anyone to attend the workshop I created.

I created the workshop/meet up at a cafe on Ottawa st in Hamilton Ontario, which is no longer open.

I had the lovely cafe owner Julie from Shady Grove Lukaya Cafe offer Tree of stars space to have the workshops/meet ups in her cafe. I accepted with huge graditude.

The first couple of months the workshop/meet up consisted of different musicians I knew from the community volunteering their time in performing for half an hour. I would then have individuals hear me tell my story. I would encourage others to share in conversations with one another, sometimes individuals will share poetry, some would sit and not say anything which is completely optional and okay Some would even come & colour.

I observed for months, and I thought maybe if I give journals & a pen as a safety piece & guide with prompting topics, as e l know dealing with unknown faces and paces can cause anxiety. In which I decided to detail step by step what to expect on my workshop events that I post on Facebook.

When I first started my outreach, I would sometimes sit in the cafe alone. Since April 2017 the outreach in my Journal Workshops will have approximately 5-25 people that show up & participate.

I guess this also pieces together that I have been a consistent resource through my workshops every other Tuesday since April 2017.

Another questions people ask me…What inspired you to create Tree of Stars? I have been inspired & encouraged by many people who have passed through my life, who have passed away, who never gave up on me & many therapists reminding me to work on certain goals.

My beautiful aunt Angela Betts and I met up one day to visit my grandmother. We were talking in my car about house sitting my other aunt’s place that is located out in the country, & I would be by myself. Right away I said I couldn’t because it’s my biggest triggers from my past, the trauma of being abducted. My aunt who has a huge heart encouraged & inspired me to try & overcome or work on one of my biggest fears. I did succeed in watching her house alone for one week. In that one week I took my print of the tree with the star in it and, I started to develop the cafe tour.

Personally Tree of Stars is a blessing to me, it has and is a continuous self care healing journey. Yes, I have my daily struggles that I have to cope with, I do take medication for my mental illnesses and I know I will always have to check in/follow up with my therapist as apart of my life plan.

Professionally Tree of Stars has been a continuous learning & growing experience, especially since I solely run my business & fund out of pocket. I have learned a list of things such as designing brochures/flyers/posters for our outreach events, business cards, banners, booth set ups at many public events, prints for photography pieces as merchandise, funding/expenses/budgeting, networking, marketing, branding, time management, schedules, skills for successful leadership, limits & boundaries, donations, communities, learning to say no, learning about proper documentation & signatures, evaluation & observation of others character traits to build trust to “share the sandbox”, setting logical goals when developing T.O.S community outreach projects, being creative in mindful ways especially when collaborating with others, providing specific details of expectations, value others feedback to a certain point and most of all “Self-care & Be Yourself”.

There are many reasons why I am blogging this article today. But the main reason is I wanted to do a huge shout out to Big Heart Equestrian. They are the first organization to provide us with a portion of proceeds for an upcoming event they are doing.

Ibwant to Thank you personally & professionally. It’s greatly appreciated in so many ways.

I hope you all try to connect with myself & T.O.S.

Reminder you are not alone, you are not a burden. You are enough and we want you to reach out at anytime.

If we cant help you,or be of any resource to you, we want to guide or reference you to a place that can.

Note:

Tree of Stars had 2 music event fundraisers in Hamilton that raised funds. It was organized and ran by myself and a couple of volunteers.

In addition any gift cards/prizes that have been donated in the past from businesses that have given out free items were given out at T.O.S CD charity release party.

Currently If any items are given we give right back to the community for a free door prizes at our Free Community Events & Journal workshops.

#makingadifferenceischangingtheworld
#mentalhealth #addictionsrecovery #tellingourstories #HamOnt

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Arrested

Arrested- Trigger Warning

I’m going to make this a simple blog and state my charges. I want to share that I was on drugs and or alcohol on every arrest.

1. Mischief

2. Escape of Custody

3. Assault Police Officer

4. Joy Ride

Each charge I completed time in custody and in addition probabtion. I had to wait 11 years to apply for a pardon and to be cleared. Every 5 years I still have to apply for a waiver to enter the USA and pay over 1000 dollars.

When we make mistakes in life sometimes it will teach us a lesson and help others not make the same ones.

Photo Credit: Jessica Compton

A.D.D

A.D.D- Trigger Warning

I was always a day dreamer & wondering at that. I was super hyper & highly active, I had a low attention span, I just couldn’t focus, sit still or listen.

I would have daily temper tantrums at school and at home. I would bully everyone at school, I would steal out of their lunches, spit on them, kick them and call them names. If and when I did my school work I would have to go in a seperate room so that it was quiet and a teacher could help me understand the work & remind me every minute to focus.

My father took me to the doctor’s but my father refused to put me on medications. Well I managed to graduate high school & college. In the last 14 years I’ve been working two full time jobs, one as Child & Youth Worker and an Educational Assistant for the last 5 years. I had to work 50 times harder than others for me to focus, comprehend, and read things over and over again to understand & remember the information.

Today, I still have hard times with the diagnosis. However I am medicated, and it does help at times. The medications don’t change the symptoms of what ADD does to me, but it does help. what I do know it doesn’t make who I am as a person.

In saying this, I have apologized to as many as I could on social media and contacting certain people to say I am sorry for bullying them. As it wasn’t them it was me who was having the issues.

Side Note: one of my therapist stated if I wanted to get reassessed as an adult she is pretty sure its not A.D.D she was sure it is PTSD. Funny how after being in the system and being older we get to see the broken systems and missing puzzle pieces.

Don’t believe everything you hear.

Photo Credit: Jessica Compton

Addict

Addict- Trigger Warning

Approximately age 11 had my first cigarette. By age 12 I was buying my own packs or asking for them on the street, or stealing from adults around me. Age 12-13 trying beers and smoking weed. Age 14-15, LSD, mushrooms, speed and really any other free pills I could get my hands on. I wasn’t sleeping or eating properly, I was out on the streets & couch hopping, and at times I was sleeping in a friend’s closets. By the time I was 15, I was working at McDonald’s and I had an apartment with a friend.

We were partying almost every day. We broke into cars, houses, running around North Bay at 3am, sleeping all day and again not eating properly. We had no money, it all went to drugs. At this point I tried every drug except for heroine.

Every day I woke up needing some sort of high, the days I couldn’t get a buzz of some sort, I would stay awake for almost 3 days straight, then I would sleep for days. I was 110lbs. Not well at all.

One evening I was super high and I was playing with my lighter and lit the phonebook of a payphone on fire. It blew up. I thought at the time it was funny, so I then lit 3 others on fire. Within 5 days I was arrested. I called my father. He bailed me out. I was to reside at his place until my court date. I was sentenced 3 months in custody.

During my story I will explain my arrests on going, but in this section of Addict, I will express or explain that I was using all drugs except heroine up until age 21 and drinking large amounts of alcohol, I remember at one time I drank myself sober, 36 beers later. I did attend rehab at age 16 court order for 3 months, and every time I was on probation which was age 15 to 19 I had to follow court order to see a drug counselor once a week, which I did, & most times I would go in high. They really didnt care. I continued to smoke weed daily and drink on weekends. This worked for me. I knew I was still addicted to substances in so many ways.

On my 40th birthday I was hung over for 3 days. I knew at this point I just couldn’t drink anymore. My body felt sick. It wasn’t that I drank like this all the time, as I got older it seemed to get harder to wake up, and it was alot of work to be hung over, the shakes, sweating all the time, getting sick over the toilet, calling in sick to work. To this day I will have a couple of drinks once in awhile. But I am still an addict and always will be, I know I would love to dive into drugs to escape but it’s not worth the pain and struggle. I’ve come so far, in reality Its dealing with why I want to escape. It’s always going to be a ferris wheel. Getting through the downs will give me the strength.

Photo Credit : Jessica Compton

Abused

Abused- Trigger Warning

Where do I start. I was neglected in many ways with my mother at a young age . When she was hung over, my sister and I had to sleep in or take unwanted naps. We would see her with different men coming in and out of our lives that were drinkers & some were rude & disrespectful to my mother, my sister and I. Apparently we didn’t get proper nutrition stated by a family member of mine. I remember being slapped in the head, pushed up the stairs, my arms being grabbed & pulled. This is what I remember.

Living in North Bay with my father & his wife, I admit I had major behaviour concerns. I was trying to run away all the time, I set fires, I wet to bed, I was lieing, I was stealing the list goes on. I was punished for everything I did. Soap in the mouth, spoon smacked on my behind while bent over the bed. I had to stay in my room for weeks because I was grounded, I had many chores that started sometimes at 6am before I went to school and after school too. If I missed my bus I would have to bike an hour into town. I had to do my own laundry especially when I had an accident. If I didn’t tell the truth I was made to stand in a corner until the truth was told. I remember at one point it lasted about 4 hours. At such a young age I was also unsupervised and my sister who was 9 was allowed to babysit me. This all seems wrong and back then I’m going to say it was abuse. I wasn’t happy and I felt it in so many ways. I was confused and lost. I was then placed in a foster home. This foster home I was abused as well, I had to sleep on the floor on a mattress and the foster father use to come home and lick my face. Weird right. It just seemed where ever I went people were abusing me. I then went to another foster home and there was a teenage girl there and I was 11 at the time & she was 17. She also sexually assaulted me. I was then moved to another foster home. It was out in the country so I wouldn’t run away. When arriving the first couple of days I got really sick. I really didn’t know what was going on. Being so young, all the trauma that had happened, & being moved around so much. I knew I was up for a fight and at times I just wanted to die.

After a year in this foster home I was then placed with my father who was single living on his own & working lots. I was happy for the most part. My father was a quiet kind of guy, played soccer, he was an electrician, a DJ on weekends and going to school to be a welder. He was also into being with alot of woman. I was left alone alot, sometimes three daysdin aarow. I was very independent by the age of 12.  I would prepare my own dinner, do my homework and laundry, watch tv and sometimes have friends over. I did my own thing really.

Back Note: I was sexually assaulted by a babysitter, a neighbour, a family member and in addition raped when I was 17.

By the age of 12, I was smoking cigarettes, drinking beer and doing drugs. Once I hit high school my father couldn’t get a handle on me. I was skipping school, stealing, telling lies, going to parties and hung over all he time, not coming home when I was suppose to, I was a problem. My father told me if I can’t follow the rules to get out. So I left. Again I was lost and confused. My father never checked up on me, didn’t know where I was until he got a call from the police, I was arrested.

Photo Credit : Jessica Compton

Abducted

Abducted- Trigger Warning

I was approximately 7 years old living in North Bay on the reserve. My father & his wife had a Thanksgiving party. I remember waking up in the arms of a strange man, taking me out of my bed. I wasn’t sure who he was but he brought me to a car out side. It was raining & it was dark. The man put me in the passenger seat & sexually assaulted me. I could smell the booze on him and I remember at one point my eyes were rolled back in my head. I was in shock. When the man was done doing what he did, he carried me back in the house and put me back in my bed. He then left. My sister was awake and then took me to tell my father. I was checked out at the hospital but I’m not even sure to this day if anyone knew who the man was or if he was charged.

Photo Credit: Jessica Compton

Abandoned

Abandoned-Trigger Warning;

I have many broken pieces to my puzzle, meaning my story. I’ve decided to blog them into 6 sections on paper back in April 2017. It’s Now August 2018, I am now brave enough to share it online in detail to the best of my abilities.

Photo Credit: Jessica Compton

Abandoned:

When I was approximately 4-5 years old, my parents divorced due to my father cheating on my mother. My father moved to North Bay and my mother attempted to care for my sister and I on her own. Most of the time I remember her coming home drunk, not being able to care for us, and yes it came to the point where my sister and I were left alone during a night of my mother partying, the police came in, found us under a bed. The police then placed my sister and I in the care of CAS and placed in foster care. After a year in foster care my father won custody of us and moved us to North Bay.

The second part of the abandonment was my father worked alot, and had a new wife & girlfriends. We never really saw him much. As years went by my father was caught cheating again on his new wife. When he was with different woman we were pushed to the side. At times I would be left on my own at age 12 for max 3 days.

In my lifetime I kept abandoning myself in so many ways and there is more detail to this said, but I’m wanting to keep this very simple & to the point.