Sadie

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Sometimes the poverty that exists in this country just blows me away but what blows me away even more is the politicians that have no regard for those less fortunate than they. I have come to believe that before any politician can actually take office they should be forced to live in the middle of any city with their families, they should have to survive on food stamps, and should life without health insurance. They would have to live in buildings that long ago should have been condemned, have to take their clothes to a public laundry mat, and have to rely on public transportation wherever they go. I suspect that most would be so far out of their element that they would die of fear. Hearing guns going off constantly and living in economic chaos will do that to you.

Meet Sadie. She was a product of the foster care system until she became an emancipated minor at 16 years of age. At that time she was pregnant with her first child.She had nothing when she was pushed out into the world and she still has nothing except a broken-down rental, no furniture except a worn-down worn-out mattress, and no stove. She was never cared for properly and because of this she doesn’t believe she is entitled to anything more than she has ever known. She doesn’t think she should be doing better because she has never known what “better” is. What she sees on her neighbors tv (she can’t afford one) is just a fairy tale and not attainable to “someone like her.”

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Sadie had another child by the time she was 18 years gold and things were going well until her husband died unexpectedly. Depression hit her hard and she couldn’t get the mental health support she needed. Currently there are 14.1 state mental health hospital beds per 100,000 people which is essentially at the same level as in 1850.  Because of this breakdown her children went to live with their grandmother and her guilt is immense. She wants them back but knows that they are better off where they are so she puts them first before her own desires. I think our elected officials could use a little of Sadie’s “doing the right thing” towards others mentality.

Sadie met another man and once more she found herself pregnant. She couldn’t afford birth control and there was no Planned Parenthood available. Her baby died at birth in the hospital. She doesn’t know how or why and regrets that in her sorrow she did not demand answers but she wouldn’t have known what to ask anyway she tells me. When you are poor you have no power and you expect nothing.

She’s pregnant again and her boyfriend is in jail. Hopefully, he will be out to be at their child’s birth but Sadie isn’t sure. She didn’t have the money to post bail and so she waits hoping that the judge will see what she sees in her boyfriend…a caring human being with flaws.

Maybe if a politician or two were to live with Sadie for a month they might come to understand that when you aren’t born with a silver spoon, when you haven’t been to the best schools, when you haven’t had parents there to meet your needs, when you were forced into a foster system that often exploits rather than nurtures, when you aren’t tall and beautiful, and when you don’t have an IQ of 120 that life is just tougher. Period.  Unfortunately, our rich representatives do not understand that they did nothing to deserve their good looks, their good parenting, the plentiful food they had on their table, and the comforts that their parents were able to provide for them. It was just dumb luck that they ended up living a life of privilege instead of a life of poverty.  Most didn’t earn what they got… they were just lucky to be born into various combinations of advantages through nothing they did no their own. The lives they were given taught them to think in ways that many in poverty have never been exposed to nor could they conceive for themselves.

So before you let the politicians convince you that the poor are to blame for their circumstances I hope you will really contemplate where you would be in your life if you were Sadie. Then I hope you will go up to her, give her a hug, and help in anyway that you can…including holding our elected officials responsible for taking care of those less fortunate then them.

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Stilettos

“Mom,” says Gracie. “I have an orchestra competition and I need black shoes with heels.”

Heels? I think. She can’t be old enough for heels, can she? There is no way. Just yesterday I was rocking her to sleep, picking out her clothes and teaching her to ride a bike. Heels? I am not ready for this! Heels means makeup, makeup means proms, and proms mean BOYS. Crap…not boys! Not yet! Not EVER!

An hour later we are headed for the store doing the joint mother/daughter thing to pick out her first pair of heels. As I drive a feel a pull in my gut warning me that I should just turn around and go home.

” I like these,” she says as she holds up a pair of 5-inch stilettos that any good hooker would covet.

OH HELL NO! explodes like white lightning throughout my feeble brain. My mother’s words of “No daughter of mine…” come flooding back to me and trip over my tongue on the way out of my mouth.

I feel compelled right here and now, in the middle of the shoe department, to the have “the talk” about what is appropriate and what is not at her age. As I drone on she grimaces, “oh moms” and rolls her eyes more times than I care to count but I think my point has been well taken until she whines…

“I’m not a little girl”

“You’re not twenty-five either nor do you have a job and you don’t earn your own money to buy the things that you want.”

“Of course I don’t have a job,” she shoots back. “I am only 12! But if I did I would be buying those shoes!” her hands gently caressing the soft black velvet.

I take this as a cue to hold up a pair of ballet flats figuring if I show her THESE, knowing she likes THOSE, perhaps we can find a compromise somewhere in this warehouse of shoes.

Gracie holds up a different pair with four-inch heels that climb up her legs like a vine on a tree.

“How about these?” she says with a smile that looks more like a dare.

“How about not.”

And so it goes until she shows me the 10th pair with heels that shoot you up towards the sky.

“Honey,” I ask. “Why is it that you are drawn to shoes with such high heels?”

“Come on mom, think about it. I am the shortest one in my class and on the diving team. No one sees me. Just once I want to look up at someone instead of them looking down on me.”

Finally, I get it. Her need for height is a need for being seen. For being like everyone else, in a world where Asians are often not seen nor heard. For being “looked at” instead of being invisible.

I give her a squeeze and suggest we find something that will give her lift but not up to the clouds. We finally settle on a two-inch inch wedge that gives her a little extra notice but not in that over-the-top teenage way.

As we drive home we talk about girl things. Things I once understood but don’t quite get now. Things I have forgotten as the years have rolled by. Big feelings that once threatened to overtake me when I was her age.

“Mom,” Gracie says. “I have a confession. I didn’t really want those big heels. I just wanted to see what you would let me get away with.”

“Really? Why would you do that?”

“Geez mom, I’m almost a teen. I have to start pushing the boundaries someday you know.”

I laugh and I know that she does, but I hope she will wait just a little bit longer before the boundaries are pushed all the way to Siberia. For the truth is it isn’t the boundaries that worry me it is the fact that she is my baby and there is a small part of me, in a world that moves too fast, that wants her to remain that way forever.

Emergence

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I feel as if I am emerging from the womb

Of a creature as of yet, undefined

Struggling to birth myself

In this newness that surrounds me

Trying to figure out

Who I am

What I am

What I will become

As I rise up alongside the Phoenix that will

Protect me and keep me safe

Along this lonesome path that I must journey

What form I will take?

I do not know

But  throughout this ordeal

I hope to maintain my DIGNITY & GRACE

Being kind and loving to all who are affected

By decisions that they did not ask for

For if I cannot act as the person I envision myself to be

There is no point

In trying to convince myself

That I deserve to be… ME

Whole and not dissected by others opinions

Snared in the net of roles

Deemed acceptable for a woman

I want to live fully

Genuinely

Inspiring a sense of power and truth

In my words and actions

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I want my inner brilliance to shine

Outward from a radiate personality

Incorporating that light within the way I live my life

And how I express myself to others

Upholding the values that I cling to

I do not want to live a life

Of Mediocrity

In which I feel

My essence is not worth showing

For I am a living breathing creature

Full of magic, joy and adventure

I am waiting to be born

Into the me I was meant to be

 

So long ago

 

 

 

Christmas Past

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This year as we celebrated Christmas I couldn’t help but be thankful for how technology has enabled me to celebrate the day in such a profound and meaningful way.

Years ago, being away from your loved ones meant trying to make a phone call to them. And when I say TRYING; I exaggerate not. You would pick up the phone and dial only to hear DAH-DAH-DAH, “I’m sorry all circuits are busy…please try back later,” pre-recorded by a cheerfully chirping white woman who sounded like your Aunt Betty. This telephone fiasco would last all day and well into the night until your knew the telephone company’s “Aunt Betty” intimately.imgres

Finally, around 9 p.m. Pacific standard time your call would go through and you would feel like you had won the lottery! Of course, by the time you actually did reach your party on the East Coast, they would already be in bed, half-asleep, and pissed that you had woken them up. “Why didn’t you call earlier?” would be their endearing response. Three weeks later you would receive your telephone bill and and have to mortgage your house to pay for the  exorbitant bootlegger fees you incurred for the privilege of talking to your pissed off relatives. Ahhh, yes, those were the days!

Yesterday, I skyped with our grown son and daughter. I saw the babies playing with their presents and the happiness in Nicole’s eyes as she spent her first Christmas in her own home. I saw the seven-month-old crawling for the first time, heard the dog barking, and listened to the two-year-old sing me her rendition of Silent Night. And during this time of immense family pleasure and connectedness I kept thinking that this is what new technology is suppose to be all about. Not about killing, not about using it for countries to spy on their citizens, and it certainly should not be used for torture. Technology is meant to be used for good…saving lives in hospital operating rooms, warning us of weather emergencies and brewing that first perfect cup of steaming coffee on an equally foggy day.

And so, on this day after Christmas, may you use your new technology to skype, ipad, and keyboard to bring happiness, joy, peace and love to people near and far. May your smile brighten someone’s day, may your words inspire a friend to reach farther than they have ever dared, and may your mere presence on that computer screen bring comfort to a loved one in need. And most of all use your technology to do good in a world that thirsts to see the kindness and love that is innate in all of us.

 

The Princess Returns…301 Days To Fix This

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Last week was poignant.  The baby of our brood headed off to Science Camp for five days. It is a rite of passage in this neck of the woods and she didn’t want to go. She has never been able to spend the night at friends houses because she would get “homesick” and end up back at home at 3 a.m. Obviously, this was a big deal.

Sometimes it is interesting what people are afraid of. Gracie is a champion diver. She falls from dizzying heights and lands in water that can be sharp and chill you to the bone. She has the courage of Spider Man and flies higher than a squirrel; yet nothing was scarier for her than leaving her Mommy and Daddy behind.

We tried many things to convince her that she would have a wonderful time up in the woods and that she wouldn’t miss us one iota. We bought  tons of “girly girl” hair accessories  so she could perform magic on her cabin mates hair. We bought a disposable camera for her to take pictures of all the fun she would be having. I stuck “love notes” in her suitcase that she could open one day at a time.

And finally the big day arrived. In the morning she sniffled a bit in protest but by the time she arrived at school she was talking with her friends like she had everything under control. A few minutes later she rode away on that big yellow school bus, hand out the window, waving goodbye with a big smile on her face. The last thing I saw of her was the back of her head while she giggled away with a friend. Then she was gone for five long days.

Yesterday, the big yellow school bus returned and with it a more confident and secure young woman. We hugged (Oh Mom, do we HAVE to!)and Gracie related a few choice camp facts. Then she went off to claim her luggage while I called B.

“We’re screwed,” I told him.

“Why’s that?” B replied.

“Because she now knows she can make it without us. We are no longer the people who keep her safe and secure in her mind. We are now officially relegated to accessory mode. ”

It was then I heard Gracie’s sweet voice.

“Come on mom, I need your help carrying my suitcase.”

And it was then that I realized that although I may be regulated to accessory status, my little girl still needs me a little bit even if it is just to carry a portion of her load.