This is my healing journal.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

An Update from Esther Ruth

I should be home soon. Bea received a call from Scott (Stretch) and he's been taking really good care of me. Will post more about how I'm doing once I'm home.

Esther Ruth from the Guitar hospital at Elderly Instruments.

P.S. Tom, she's bbeen reading your blog, and she wanted to make sure you told Bill V. she's fine and about ready to play again and to you both, she's ready to make the new CD, anything to be played again. She also told me that I need to have Stephen post about riding in old vintage cars, like the Scout on South Manitou Island. He is shy and says he doesn't want to post that yet. But, he said when he does, he'd like yu to tell your daughter about it.

Suzanne, she says thanks to you for saying she speaks eloquently. She just thinks she sings.

Everyone else, she just says hi to.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A blind Woman's Rant

So, everyone is excited about the new Governor of New York, Mr. Paterson. Everyone is hopeful that he will be able to take care of the problems left behind by his predecessor. But, is that what they're talking about?

Guess what? The anser is no! Instead, they're talking about the fact that he is the first legally blind governor. Yet, there are those in the media who have him under severe public scrutiny for not living up to the standards of other blind people as far as living independently. There are those who believe that he needs a cane, that he needs to learn Braille. If he can read print up close, why should he learn Braille? If he can see well enough to not need a cane, why should he have one?

There were a couple of people on the school for the Blind alumni list who pointed out some of this stuff. They then went on to say that certain people who had attended the school who have enough vision to drive, should not be given the opportunity to do so, let alone live a normal life. Somewent on to say that everyone should learn to use a cane and read Braille, so that when they lose their sight entirely, they can still cope.

Tom, I've never told you why it is, I don't truly envy you for being able to see, let alone drive. It goes back to my father's family. Both his brothers Marvin and Sydney lost one eye each, due to accidents. Yet, they both went on to have high jobs in their professions. I think my Uncle Marvin became a civil engineer. I know he continued to be an avid fisherman in Long Island. He and his wife drove from New York to Michigan a couple of times when I was a child, and we were able to see him in his environment. It's because of their examples, my father insisted I would be the most independent person I chose to be. For that, I am grateful.

Anyway, then I heard a news report in which the "astounding statistic" was given of "over senvety percent of the blind population is unemployed". Well, who's fault is that? You've got the Social Security system causing blind people to feel trapped in the "I can't" mode for startes. Those of us who receive SSA benefits on our own work record, tend to be left alone. However, those who receive it as a single person based on a parent's retirement record and those who receive SSI benefits are often hounded by the administration to give up a percent of our check, if we make too much and that's based on a month-to-month basis. I personally never had to worry, as the company I had worked for as a social worker paid me well below the maximum. Yet, there's another reason the blind are unemployed at such an "astounding statistic". You earn just enough to get by in most cases. My boyfriend at the time (who subsequently became my husband) and I often would pool food resources, so that I would have enough to eat. I lived frugally and managed to cope. However, I also lived well enough.

Then, there's the lack of proper training. Sure, college is possible. Yet, most blind people may not know proper grooming habits, or even the fact that they will face discrimination. How well I remember when my internship supervisor looked my field supervisor from the university in the eye and asked her if school had prepared me for the road I would have to walk down. He then pointed out to her that she should take the time to talk about that with me and with any other fellow students who were minorities of any kind. (She was an African American woman, who as far as I know, never took his advice to heart.) I remember sitting in his office crying, becauase some of what he had nailed me on, I deserved to be nailed on. (I had let some good grooming habits go by the wayside, due to depression, and got caught for it.) Yet his comment about how the rehab centers, colleges and schools for the blind have forgotten how to train people to deal with discrimination and poor grooming skills were not doing any favors really hit home. I have since thanked him, shortly after landing my first job.

Often, lack of accomodation has caused blind people to lose their jobs, let alone their hope. No one should have to wait four months for the forms to be in an accessible format, if they work as a social work evaluator for a mental health agency. No one should have to wait three months until an adequate computer can be provided. Both things happened to me in my second job and both problems were not indirectly the fault of the Commission for the Blind. THe company I was working for was not cooperating with them.

So, while the media talks about what a wonderful man Mr. Paterson is, I hope they will look closely at how their comments about other blind people are infecting, yes infecting blind people to think less of themselves. I am proud of my accomplishments. I am grateful that I can work for myself. But, I feel sorry for those who have maybe heard the media comments and feel kicked down and beaten up yet again.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Weighty Decisions part Two

I'm listening to Pierce Pettis as I type. I fell in love with his music in the late eighties. But, I never purchased any of his music until I saw him shortly after Hurricane Katrina. I've always found his music to be somewhat comforting when I was at Western Michigan University and I heard him on NPR. He's a man with a strong barritone voice with a trace of the Alabama hills evident in his writing and in his delivery. He's a contemprary folk songwriter who just happened to have a few of his songs go big. The one that everyone would know for sure is "You Move Me" which was recorded by Susan Ashton in the Contemporary Christian circles and by Garth Brooks in the country/pop circles. (Tom, I found myself thinking of you, when I heard the song "My Little Girl" a few moments ago. You need to find the CD that's on.) In his songs, you hear about the importance of being a community, though we live in a society that is constantly in a state of isolation physically.

Maybe some of you are wondering what I mean by that. Well, when you think about it, I've never met a lot of you physically. We've forgotten what it's like to reach out and truly touch someone. Yet, we crave it so much. Often in reading other's blogs, we at least find people who can speak to our emotional center. But, do we really reach out to those physically close to us?

Anyway, I know I'm straying way off topic from my original topic, and yet, I'm not. Pierce helps me take a close look at where I stand in what and who I believe, and I've always appreciated his writing for that. You can find more of his music at http://www.piercepettis.com/ and I hope y'all will enjoy.

My talk at BNI went really well on Tuesday. I think some of us were frustarted at who wasn't there to hear it. Yet, those who heard me were able to walk away thinking.

My friend Denise, her husband Richard and her mother Connie have all been charged with neglect of her children. The cool thing is, they're finding out who their friends are that are close by. Their churches have stepped forward and told them that they have connections who can help them with specific needs. Several are coming to help Denise and Richard clean out the house. Friends have agreed to store the stuff that needs to be sorted through that has not been damaged. A cousin has agreed to put Denise, her mother and Richard up in their house at some point. The church is paying for them to stay in a cheap hotel for now.

Denise's younger sister who lives in Texas is fighting for guardianship of the children. But, Connie said that she will do anything and everything she can to help Denise keep her family together. Frankly, I think if Denise's children are placed in foster care, it will be for such a short period of time, as Denise has the determination to fight for things that really matter to her. She told me that she is overwhelmed with grattitude for those who have stepped forward to do what they can for her.

I'm finding that more and more, I am becoming a person of action. I choose to act rather than stand by and let things I can do something about fall by the wayside. I had to call someone out on an ethical matter today, something I never thought I would have to do in BNI. It was actually in another group where I was subbing for a friend of mine. This woman started bitching about how she was treated by a client durring the part of the meeting which is supposed to be the inspirational time. When I got home, I sat down and wrote a friend of mine in the group and said, something has to be done about that, because there had been three visitors who were considering joining the group as potential members. I also pointed out to her that this woman who is a travel agent had lost my business in the future by being who she was.

The woman I knew myself as would never have written that letter, without being a total bitch. But, the me I'm becoming was actually calm in my writing that letter, and I got a kind letter back from my friend, thanking me for what I had to say.

I really like the woman I am becoming. I just never thought I would find her at close to forty-five. She is beautiful, strong, with a good heart, though somewhat overwhelmed at how much she has had to think about these past few days.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Weighty decisions

This week seems to be one in which I find myself needing to take stands on so much. It's not that I have not taken stands on things before. It's just so much seems to be happening to people around me.

On Tuesday, the president of our BNI chapter asked me if I would talk tomorrow as the educational coordinator for our group on integrity between members. His reasoning for me to do that was to get back at a member who had wronged him deeply. I've been grappling with how I am going to give the talk Brad asked for, and decided that instead, I would talk about what I originally was going to talk about, waking up each day and "greeting it with a forgiving spirit". I've been doing the talks for the past few weeks based on "The Traveler's Gift" by Andy Andrews. In this novel, Andrews talks about seven decisions to success, all of which I have been following to some degree since I read the book two years ago. I've re-read it several times as a refresher. The choice to greet each day with a forgiving spirit is the sixth decision. I will talk about the importance of integrity. Yet, I will talk about it in the context of forgiveness. My prayers are that Brad and the member he is having some disagreement with will listen and understand the importance of forgiveness.

Friday afternoon, I received a phone call from one of the massage therapists in my building. She was asking me if I would participate in an event for the Relay for Life.
Relay for Life is linked with the American Cancer Society and while I know the ACS has done a lot of good, they are pro choice, as they support Embryonic Stem Cell Research. If I chose to work the fundraiser, I would be supporting an organization who is for abortion. Too many Christians support the Relay for Life events and don't really understand the fine line there that they cross. I called her back and explained my decision, and her response was that I was not getting it. Oh well... I'm not going to let what she has to say influence my decision, and if it gets back to Kelly our landlord, I hope she will approach me on it, rather than listen to what someone might be saying about me.

Yesterday, I received a phone call from a friend who asked me to keep her in prayer. Because of many ongoing problems between her, her husband and her mother and how they raise her children, Child Protective Services have separated her from her children and her mother. The house they had been lving in had been condemned.

If anyone were to walk into my house, they would certainly not understand how on earth I could live in such chaos, as I have piles. However, each pile is a pile that only makes sense to me, and they are not always in the greatest places. But, I am aware of it, and am actually thinking that it is something I need to improve on. Yet, my house is clean. If I'm not cleaning, Bert is, or Michelle, (my friend who cleans houses for a living who wanted to help in exchange for massages is). I didn't used to be that way, and Denise had been one of the friends who had confronted me on that.

Ever since her pregnancy of her oldest child nine years ago, Denise has chosen not to be an imaculate housekeeper. In fact, she (according to her mom) has become "a filthy slob". I find those words hard, as Connie had told her that she needed to change and then backed away from her original decision to have Denise and her husband and children move out if she didn't see any improvement, because she needed their financial help in order to keep that house.

Denise's husband is slow. At the time CPS had house inspectors come through their home, there had been a flood. He and Denise had moved boxes of junk Denise had been collecting since she was eighteen! (Good God. If I had everything I had from the time I was eighteen... Anyway, he had moved these boxes on top of the range and in front of every exit for escape from a fire. And this was okay with Denise!

In her phone call, Denise made jokes about me coming down to help her. Yet, after talking with Bert about what had happened, we decided that we needed to tell Denise that we love her. But, she's going to have to take care of herself. We can't help her.

Finally today, we went to the house of our tax preparer. I dearly love Nancy. She's been like a second Mom to me, which is why the conditions of her trailer saddened me. There was a strong smell of animal waste, because her seventeen-year-old dog has been peeing in different areas throughout the house. From what Bert told me, there was stuff strewn everywhere. The kitchen was filthy. I found myself longing to leave, as my artificial eyes began to act up and my stomach began to churn. How I longed to actually bring a crew of women in to clean with Nancy's permission, and I probably will talk with her about that, because I just can't get the picture of what I felt and smelled out of my mind.

I don't know why it is I'm being tested with lots of stuff like this right now. Usually, if I have decisions to make like these, they don't all happen at once. The strange thing is, in each case, I found myself while feeling sadness, anger and frustration, I've been at peace with every choice I've made, at peace, and able to make them quickly.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A person's inner beauty

This morning, as I listened to SpeakingOf Faith on the National Public radio station, I was transfixed by what John O'Donahue was talking about to the interviewer. He was saying that each person has the potential to show forth inner beauty to others, thus showing forth God's love, (though not exactly in those words). HE then went on to ask if we have had meaningful conversations, ones we'll remember for a time and that seem to never leave you. I link that to memories as well of those we connect with. It was as if he read my mind, because his next point was that we all have soul friends, those who matter to us, those who understand us the best.

I found myself wondering if I really do have those friends, knowing the answer is yes. Anyone who has been there for me, who has comforted me in a way that runs deeper than the superficial, has become one of those friends to me and has shown me the inner beauty of their souls. Yet, has my inner beauty shown forth to others? Have they truly seen it? Have they felt I have made that connection with them and been the friend they needed at times when they needed a friend most?

I realize that maybe this is a selfish question for me to ask. But, please realize that while I may come across as someone with high self-esteem, it still helps to know that maybe I have been able to be that for someone.

Then, I find myself asking if this is what God wants me to understand, that in showing forth His love to my fellow man, my inner beauty is being created by Him for me to find out about when I am on the other side?

I guess Jackson Brown said it best in the last part of the last verse of his song "for a dancer".

"Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown.
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own,
and somewhere between the time you arrive and the time you go
may lie a reason you were alive that you'll never know."

Go forth today, and let your inner beauty shine!