Tuesday, November 25, 2014

If Pain Were A Lemon

If pain were a lemon, I've swallowed hard, but I've learned nothing will stop me from succeeding in my goals because I have too much to live for.  My obligation is to be the pillar for our family.  The bitter sweet berry creeps into the mind just as you enter your prime, when one is supposed to be making the leap from childhood into adulthood.  I recognize that my gifts are unique.  I choose to recognize that I have abilities not disabilities.

I discovered long ago I could draw, write, and compose songs with the guitar.  The world may choose to beat you down, but I say don't allow this, reach deep within your soul and profess the inner beauty that you were granted at birth. We are the image of those who bore and the essence of those we know and love.  If you lose everything, claw again to discover the who of I am. Never lose sight of the fact, that each of us was once in the womb, and it was circumstance that lay to bare the children we were and the adults we became.

I will not lie and say I have never been without hope, but I have always been able to fight back. Maybe that is the Irish in me.  Life may knock me down, but as long as I live and breath, I will rise again. I look forward to the day when all who walk with the stigma of an illness are not identified this way, but rather are known by their name.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Anger vs Peace

Anger is such a raw emotion.  When it is not harnessed, in an instant it can change a situation from calm to explosive violence.  So how does one learn and teach peace?  Is anger justified?  Of course it is a part of human existence and there are times when it is warranted, but learning how to stay calm and advocate for oneself in the process of wrongdoing requires skill.  I will never be an advocate of violence because it leaves so many victims behind.  I do believe; however, that one must stand up for oneself in the event of  inappropriate conduct.  The way I choose to stand up is by allowing my voice to be heard through the written word.  My priority is to reach out not only to my children who are now grown adults, but also to many young people and their mentors to carry the torch of peace so violence will not result in places such as Ferguson, Missouri.  Violence begets violence.  Peace will leave an indelible mark for change and a lesson for a lifetime.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Passing Through

No matter how grey the sky or the snow piled high,
The lack of direction or the feeling of isolation,
Learn how to survive and keep your head held up,
This world too quickly writes people off and looks the other way,
Ah, but I say find that inner strength--dig deep down within,
Your body may be older now, but do not give up on your dreams.
The torch must burn in your heart and you may have to be the only one who believes in you,
But my, when success comes,
You will know that it is because you never gave up on yourself,
If you find consolation through faith, then pray with all you might,
Never ever surrender because the chips are down,
Laugh at yourself, you've nothing to hide, God made you his perfect surprise.
When death is knocking upon your door open it slowly make sure you know who it's for,
Maybe you'll have one more day to smile before your final breath.
I am grateful for each day I am sane,
For that I cannot complain.
Orphanages, institutions, foreclosure and deaths are merely my obstacles, but I have yet to see my final quest.
Mental Illness does not make me who I am,
I choose to be defined by what I do while I am here and by what I will leave behind.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

SSI proves no help to me

The snow is blowing hard outside, but I bundle up and head outside thankful that I am alive.  My debts are mounting, but I press on because I know somehow, one day my efforts will pay off.  I have to laugh and take it in stride when it seems Social Security continues to mess up my life.  Several trips to the office to try and make sure everything is right with letters in hand saying I am entitled to x number of dollars is now being stated as a problem.  They claim now the Social Security Income portion was in excess of $2,000 they paid over the past several months.  I cannot believe how ridiculous the whole thing is.  I have been paying for everything, no bridge card here. I have no car, so I ride the bus.  I refuse to be a bah hum bug, but if this plea were to reach the President's ear, knowing he is an attorney, I think even he would agree the Federal Government and Social Security need to fix this matter.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Life Circumstances

As the years go on, I realize how fortunate I am that despite the life circumstances that I have faced, I feel like a mended being who is now in control of my destination.  If  I visit a difficult time in my life, I do it in a manner that does not affect my present situation.  The best possible way I have discovered to do this is by writing about the past and surrendering it to experience.  I would not choose to have any other being go through what happened to me, but I know there were special people in my life who were like angels in my hour of need.

I alluded to the foster grandparent program at the orphanage.  These people were god sent.  I could count on them to come on a regular basis, but I also learned about death through this program.  My first grandparent who preferred to be called Uncle Hobart came to see me on Fridays, I believe.  One day he did not come and I asked Sr. Margaret Ann where was Uncle Hobart.  Her response made me feel horrible, but I could not cry.  I could never cry in public.  She said Uncle Hobart had been driving against doctors orders and struck a telephone pole dying instantly of a heart attack.  I am not sure how I knew what death was, but I knew he would not be coming back.

Later, Grandma Jeannette would be my foster grandparent.  Our relationship lasted beyond the orphanage as she and I would live merely streets apart from one another.  Sadly, I did not get to say goodbye to her when she passed away as I was hospitalized when this happened.

Grandma Abbey was wonderful person who crocheted hats and scarfs for the girls.  One day she did not come for awhile and I asked her why she had not been coming.  She told me her daughter had been in a horrible car accident (prior to seat belts and car seats), she was holding her newborn and the baby flew out the window.  I listened and snuggled a little closer to her then.

I am grateful for so many people in my life because it easily could have been steered permanently off course.   

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Potential Within

What many individuals may not realize is that there are tax incentives for companies that hire individuals with disabilities.  The individual may be highly skilled, but the company may not pay an equitable rate of pay for the individual because of the disability.

The dilemma then becomes does the individual who has say a mental disability, which may not be a visible illness, inform the potential employer or keep it a secret so he/she can reap the benefits of insurance, 401k, paid time off etc.

Whether or not one wants to admit it, stigma surrounds many illnesses including mental illness. Sadly, the potential of individuals may be lost because of the difficulties in trying to assimilate into society.

I am aware of individuals who were caught in the mental health hospitals so long that their emotional progression halted and their education stopped before attaining a high school diploma.  Additional educational difficulties may include special needs, affecting speech, reading and eye hand coordination or other abilities.

Housing in the form of HUD or section 8 for low income individuals is available, but at what cost to tax-payers.  If these same individuals were permitted to discover the talents within, what would the contribution to society be?

Group homes are often poorly managed and individuals are subjected to unspeakable abuse.

Education is currently available for individuals through age 26, but often there are many barriers to completing that education including transportation. Young people just learning they have a lifelong mental illness find accepting the fact they will need medication for the rest of their life often choose to rebel, which interferes with their ability to acquire the high school diploma let alone a college degree.

Bottom line parents or loved ones of those with disabilities are the lifeline to assuring the best advocacy for those affected.

The summer before entering my senior year of high school, I was working for Neurosurgeons and contemplating a career in the medical field. By the end of the summer, I had my first breakdown. About six months later, I began the road to recovery.  I had fulfilled all of the requisites to graduate except for a religion class (Catholic) and government.  A relative who stood by my side through thick and thin made sure I graduated from high school by transporting me every day for six weeks to Immaculata High School in Detroit where I successfully completed my coursework.

This same relative urged me to go onto college.  I earned a B.S. in English, language and literature from EMU and an Associate in Business Administration from Oakland Community College.  I attended other colleges as well lacking direction, but thankfully I was encouraged to continue.  I have had the privilege to work in both the regular classroom and with special needs.  Additionally, I have success as an independent contractor working for various newspapers.

My dream is to encourage others by example to never give up no matter how difficult the challenge and to be a mentor to those who need a listening ear.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


I listen attentively to the Russian Jews who speak in the coffee room where I reside.  I do not know what is being said, but like a child, I try to understand.  Their patience with me makes me feel loved. Over and over again, I try to practice even the basic word .. Привет! (Privét!) - inf. Hello.

They speak with me in broken English, but I have learned one individual used to play base in the Russian Symphony Orchestra, another has left an ex-husband behind. There are stories of Aushwitz, and the pain associated with such woes.

When I was a child in an orphanage, we had foster grandparents and the loved shared by them surrounded me with warmth.  The Russians rekindle that feeling.

Perhaps, one day individuals will recognize that our moral responsibility is to view one another with the love and kindness that we felt in our mother's womb. 

Unfortunately, not all infants feel this, but fortunately, most do, and if the world is kind when that infant enters the world--even during difficult circumstances; perhaps, that child's voice will become the one that offers reforms that improve the lives of so many others.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Baby Christmas

     When I was about ten or eleven years old, while living at St. Vincent Sarah Fisher Home for Children, Sister Helen had me work with a baby who had a body cast from her hips on down. The baby's name was Christmas. When I asked Sister what had happened to her, she told me her father had thrown her against a wall. I could always count on Sister telling me the truth even when it was hard to hear.

     I loved this precious baby as if she were my own. Her skin was dark and her eyes black as marbles. Her smile was endearing and I simply could not understand how a father could do this to his own child. I was glad I had the opportunity to work with her, but like all of my orphaned friends one day she disappeared.