For the record, I was assigned #8 (These are more like stories, rather than facts)

Today, my post was inspired by my cousin; she posted ten interesting things about herself; I “liked” her post, so she assigned me to write eight statements about myself. Today’s inspiration comes from my cousin, in more ways than one; she is a teacher, so all of my “interesting” facts/stories are about my educational experiences.Thanks Melissa! And here I go…..

  1. Every year in elementary school, I tried out for the annual talent show (My talent was always singing and/or lip-syncing and dancing) . I never won a spot, but I never gave up;  in 5th grade, I was invited to be a clown and perform during intermission; I threw a bucket of paper on my teacher, Mr. Sanor. #ialwaysfoundawaytolaugh
  2. I participated in a food fight in fourth grade (this guy Chad threw a banana at my friend Catana); this happened on the same day that we had planned a surprise birthday party for my teacher; I cried and wailed in the hallway while my class  still had the party during recess: I remember all the teachers laughing at me as they passed me in the hall. Mrs. Amick eventually invited me inside the class and I gave her earrings. #donteverthrowfoodinschool
  3. In fourth grade, I was elected to class council and I also won the fourth grade spelling bee! However, I lost the school spelling bee because I spelled broiled wrong! Looking back, I still did a great job, despite having dyslexia, being held back in third grade, and overcoming a speech impediment. #getoutofmyway
  4. In Spanish class in 8th grade, I was soo quiet (I guess being in foster care can do that). After returning to Spanish class (with the same teacher) for a couple years, during one of my classes, my teacher asked me to stay after class; I knew why; I was talking in class when I shouldn’t have! After class, Mrs. Barboza, told me that I needed to do less socializing and more practicing of my verb tenses! However, she also addressed a transformation that she had witnessed; she told me that I had emerged into a beautiful butterfly, from the first time she met me, until that intervention; her words (even in a different language) always had a tremendous impact on me. She forever imprinted a positive self-image upon my heart. She reinforced that I had truly survived and thrived through personal hardship to become a strong woman. Thanks, Mrs. Barboza! #abutterflyemergedinthewinterwoods
  5. I was inducted into the National Honor Society in High School; during my senior year, I took Transition to College Math; a lot of folks cheated in that class and they told me to cheat too. I refused and I flunked the class (I literally got a “F”); before graduation, I actually went to the H.S. guidance counselor’s office and asked her to revoke my honor society status, to which she responded, “Go back to class Kim, it’s okay.” #onefaildoesnotchangeanything
  6. In college, I spent my first semester of college sleeping in the laundry room; my first roommate was a nightmare (I’m sure that I was no picnic either); I learned from a friend that her parents demanded that the school remove me from the room and I was asked the Sunday before thanksgiving  to move out of my room.  She never returned after Christmas break. I guess if that didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have known the pleasure and angst of being roommates with my second roommate, Buffy!! #justnotroommatematerial
  7. In 8th grade, my gym teacher told me that I couldn’t run in a straight line, in 10th grade, he told me that I wasn’t supposed to slide into first base,  he also took my golf club away and told me that I could walk around the field instead. I guess he remembered that I couldn’t run in a straight line. ” I’m surprised that I passed gym class at all…. Thanks Mr. McCullough. #notagymclasshero
  8. During my freshman year of college, I had heartburn to the extent that I thought I was dying; the school referred me to a doctor, who just told me that I was adjusting to college food (huh?). During the summer, I went to my pediatrician and she immediately sent me to the hospital for an ultrasound; I was diagnosed with gallstones and I lost 30 lbs by rollerblading everyday to prepare for my gallbladder surgery. Oh, by the way, I counted my gallstones and I had 60! #nevershallackedmygallstonesImage


Imagine the sound of a breaking glass; how does it make you feel? How long does it take to clean it up? How long do you spend making sure all the pieces are completely gone from the room?  Do you feel comfortable at all? I feel uneasy, I vacuum repeatedly and then I get on my hands and knees to make sure I haven’t forgotten any remaining shreds of glass. I want to protect my toddler from getting hurt.

Now, imagine the sound of screams; the breaking of glass and the agony of the Holocaust ripping apart families and the loss of life that followed; no one can really fathom how many hearts and lives were broken. Do you feel uncomfortable? When I watch movies like Schindler’s List, I am moved with compassion to do something today, for displaced foster youth. Movies are able to capture a glimpse, but they cannot fully place us in the same shoes that were removed just before thousands of people died together in gas chambers. If I sat through this film today, as a mother, I know I would be moved to tears, even more so,  than when I watched it for the first time in 11th grade; what I am trying to say, is that we can’t fathom what it felt like for all of the Jewish people, but it is possible to embody the spirit of those who stood up and risked their own lives to save others.

When I lived in NY, my heart expanded after I gained a better understanding of what it meant to be an advocate, I sought to help college students stand up against injustices. During my time working in Higher Education in NY, I acquired insight about Kristallnacht (also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass); November 9- 10 (just last week) marked 75 years since the night of broken glass occurred.

This post was written because tonight, I came across two instrumental people who helped save Children during the Holocaust; Nicholas Winton (he saved 669 Jewish children) and Irena Sendler (she saved 2500 children). I was brought to tears, as I sat and watched videos on youtube about these two individuals; for many years, they were unknown heroes, only known by the individual lives they touched, they went completely unrecognized for their relentless compassion. By chance, their stories were uncovered; they didn’t seek to be in the limelight. Their stories are so powerful; they made decisions in their lives to put others before themselves. That gift is transformational in so many ways…

Do yourself a favor, visit
and then don’t visit (because I’ve already done the math)  Miley Cirus’ video, Wrecking Ball.

Take a second to compare the views:

1,146,626 vs.  320,786,459

Why is there such a gap? (Oh, that’s a completely different post all together)

I truly believe that both Nicholas Winton and Irena Sendler’s stories need to be heard atleast  300 million times and acknowledged, so we can take bold steps to accomplish more good in the world. For instance, instead of wasting our time giving musicians grandiose notoriety, we can support causes, such as the Red Cross who currently champion the Relief efforts for the Philippines; or we can pay attention to the statistics of children in the foster care system and think about becoming foster parents or giving an extra gift or gift card this year to foster youth during the holiday season; or we can volunteer and give our time; or we can donate our piggy banks to a charity of our choice; after all, there are so many expressions of kindness that we can demonstrate daily in our lives, it’s all a matter of priority, sacrifice and opening our hearts wide enough, to allow compassion to expand into every chamber of our lives, so we can embody the spirit of those who stood up during the Holocaust and risked their own lives to save countless children.

Your heart may break (a little or a lot), but I promise your efforts will heal hearts; maybe even your own. . .

Purposeful Beginnings (Via Family Tree)

ImageFYI: This post was inspired by National Adoption Month!

  • I am thankful for folks who choose adoption, especially my grandma and grandpa, who adopted my Mom.
  • I am thankful for my foster parents who didn’t adopt me legally, but who still call me their middle daughter, 20 years after they invited me to join their family.
  • I am thankful for my cousins (via my mother’s adoption). My cousins “adopted” my son and I; they love us, just as my grandmother loved me.

When I was in my graduate school program for Creative Arts Therapy (2004/05-ish), I was given an assignment to create a family genogram. I knew my family history, but I really didn’t know the “entire” story. To explore a genogram, is to look for patterns and make connections about all the different generations.

In April 2011, I wrote a poem (see below) about my family’s patterns of connection and disconnection. One of the connections that strengthens my spirit, is the fact that a woman, my grandmother (my mother’s adoptive mother) adopted my mother when my mom was four years old. My mother gave me up twice, both when I was a toddler and then again, when I was an adolescent. Prior to my son’s birth, several folks asked me if I was going to give up my son for adoption; I respect those women who make that choice, but for me ( I was 33) , I knew that I wanted my son and I decided to be a single parent. My son and I are connected to our larger family, which ranges from biological to foster to adoptive; the definition of family is most transparent through my son’s eyes; my son doesn’t understand the difference between foster, biological and adoptive, he just loves our family as our “family.”

Tonight, I asked my son what he wanted for his birthday this month; he didn’t ask for toys, he joyfully said, “MY COUSINS!”  He said them all by name (biological, foster and adoptive). This makes my heart smile; he teaches me that “love is blind, except, blind can see hope.” I am so thankful that he will teach future generations about my grandmother’s legacy of love!


We are born with bowls-

not hearts- in our chest,


we are able to receive and contain love,

enough to overflow

and fill our souls

until life’s consequences

or pure selfishness forms holes,

one at a time,

pressing pain

like pins and needles

through what was meant to protect us

from aching.

These bowls are passed down

from one generation to another,

from one mother to her daughter,

to another daughter,

and another.

My family bowl

has seemingly

been empty and repaired for years

the strongest women

have learned how to patch up the holes

placed there by my ancestors-

if the truth be known,

during the great depression

my great grandmother

gave birth to many children

she became a widow,

she was rescued by a man’s proposal

he gave her one condition,

she could only bring one child into the marriage.

This is how the story began,

with loss and more loss,



my great-grandmother

had two more children,

one in 1925, my grandmother,

a beautiful girl.

She grew up

and patched her colander,

finally married,

but couldn’t bear children,

found it within her heart to love a child,

not born under her heart,

but in it.

She adopted my mother,

a beautiful girl in 1960

My mom inherited a patched up colander,

but love poured through her

as if she couldn’t feel anything at all-

her own biological mother

was addicted to drugs,

abandoned all of her children.

it’s a fact,

life’s consequences or pure selfishness forms holes,

one at a time,

pressing pain like pins

and needles

through what was meant to protect us

from aching.

In 1977,

my mother’s colander

was passed down to me,

a beautiful girl,

who was physically, verbally and sexually abused

by the men my mother invited into our lives;

she relinquished

her rights to me,

her only daughter;

so my mom’s own existence

could only be validated by

a marriage to a criminal;

I was abandoned,

but I was patched up

by the embrace

of a foster family-

I was invited to become

their middle daughter;

To be welcomed-

Meant not being lost anymore-

While discovering

My identity,

I learned to be more open than closed

It didn’t happen all at once-

to consciously break the cycle,

I attempted to prove failure

wasn’t an option;

for many years,

I successfully pushed away

every opportunity

to be intimately connected

with another,

I built up a resilient shield,

until I stopped caring and

allowed one man after another

into my life

who didn’t deserve

to be there at all.

It’s a fact,

life’s consequences or pure selfishness forms holes,

one at a time,

pressing pain

like pins and needles

through what was meant to protect us

from aching.

In November of 2011,

I became a single mother

and my son was born-

I will gave him

my patched up colander

pressing my love

as a permanent patch

of healing

to protect my child

from aching,

to prevent a 100 year cycle

from being interconnected

to further victimization

and ache;

through the written word,

hope will patch and restore

our family’s colander

for more purposeful beginnings,

to receive and contain love,

enough to overflow to future generations.

FYI: Learn more about National Adoption Month at

The Experience of Hoping…..

ImageJust a little while ago,  I cleaned up the living room and managed to make a path from here to there. And then I decided to turn off the TV… Thankfully,  this process prepared me to clear my mind. I now hear the rain, my son’s cough and the humming of the fridge; thank goodness, I can finally listen, at midnight, to what is important;

And so, I finally picked up a little blue book called, “Gone from my sight.”

For the past two weeks, I have been sitting by my mother’s side; I have been traveling to her radiation appointments to give her support. I frequently feel full of  feelings and empty of emotion; the emptiness wipes me out.

While sitting with my mother, I  remember happy moments of my childhood and equally, I  recall the pain that accompanied me during the best and the worst of times. In this moment in 2013, tears cascade into a reservoir of ache; I intentionally stop to breathe; I inhale and exhale and think upon my life, before it was too complicated. Honestly, I have never had the best relationship with my mother, but I have been thinking about our shared experiences that were more positive than negative. And so, I’ve asked myself, what if?

What if, I just focused on the happy memories for one day; what if I just made a conscientious effort to completely fill a room with positive energy; what if I left my disappointment and ache in the past? Instead, I  need to focus on what I can completely bring to each day, especially tomorrow and the next day.

Tomorrow, I will dwell in happy memories from my childhood, this is my current roster of experiences that I choose to celebrate and acknowledge, in honor of bringing positive energy into my mother’s room:

1) As a young child, I had ear-aches; I would be in a lot of pain; during hospital visits, my mother brought me great comfort; I sometimes felt closest to her, when I was sick, whether it was an ear-ache in first grade or phenomena in 4th grade–I felt loved.

2) During elementary school, I would go  clothes/supplies shopping with my mom; it was an annual tradition; I went shopping with my mom without my three brothers tagging along. I can still remember sitting at the Woolworth’s counter in Heath, drinking milkshakes with my mom. I felt so special during these trips….I always wished that the start of school came twice a year….

3) One day, we were walking home from Meijer and I did something silly and fell. My mom, brothers and I, had a really good laugh. For some reason,  I remember that moment so vividly; too often, it seemed as if we knew  only how to hurt each other with words, but when we laughed together as a family, it was if we really loved each other and all the pain was an emotional mirage.

4) My mom is an artist; I watched her make art  when I was just a little girl; she inspires my art-making today; I’m truly thankful for this gift, which she helped me to develop in my own life, again and again. I am a creative soul and I have my mother to thank for teaching me how to draw and express my inner-being.

5) My mom loves my son, her grandson; to see her with him, is to see someone completely untouched by heartache and cancer. She smiles with so much love, it is a miracle to share this moment (and hopefully more) with her.

I wish I had more to write; I know there are more…I promise. Maybe I will add more examples to this list, as I remember special memories……..Right now, I’m finally feeling rather tired and need to get some sleep!

Take care,


FYI: (Re)Centering in Progress!!!


Meditating and journaling are tools that I have practice since I was in 4th grade; I have learned to thrive and evolve as a former foster youth/leader/ professional because I invested time in taking care of my core, the center of my being.  Journaling is a tool to self-reflect, record thoughts, evaluate options, share lessons and develop ideas; my journals are a record of my footsteps, illustrating hopes, dreams and aspirations (and I can’t forget, shortcomings).  Meditation is a coping tool to assist with life’s stressful experiences. Whether it is deliberately breathing, purposely being still or praying earnestly, meditation has helped me face situations with an open mind and a calm spirit. My experiences in life have culminated into a series of lessons which remind me to dive deep into the unknown, discover my passion and develop my purpose, while holding steadfast to my values and beliefs; but even so, I have failed and (re)imagined life more than a few dozen times! Recently, I (Re)discovered my need to journal (on blue lines, not online): I know my progress as a writer/mother/leader is challenged/improved/strengthened, only when I make time to breath and (re)center my being.

During November, I plan to be aware of my life-path, though sometimes, I am very unclear of a specific trail to follow, I know the destination is either within or beyond my reach, but uncertainty doesn’t stop me from trying to find my way; I truly believe that my progress is not defined by how swiftly I arrive, but that I simply practice self-awareness to arrive more succinctly, rather than only focusing on how to reach the destination successfully. Life-lessons are discovered without having all the details planned out. I am becoming (re)centered…daily, weekly, monthly, yearly… experience what it means to be transformed by the (re)newing of my mind—It begins with being fully present, practicing patience and living  peacefully; all of these ultimately culminate in productivity to (re)store the path of perseverance, no matter the prevalence of pain persuading  every fiber of my being to just give up–but I refuse to give the past power and intentionally step forward into the circle of connectedness with the universe and God. I do know what I want-to live kindheartedly without reservation and/or fear.

At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.
Lao Tzu

When you become centered, suddenly there is great freedom because you know you are not the mind and you are not the body.

(Heart, Soul and Mind).

To be transformed, in my opinion, is to have an experience that completely revolutionizes one’s way of thinking and doing; in other words, it’s an experience that alters your state of being, including every fiber of one’s existence.

I can share many stories about “leadership transformation,” but there is just one, which truly revolutionized my heart, soul and mind; It was a religion class that I took in college. First, you should know that I was an art major, with a youth Ministry Minor; throughout college, I flipped my major back in forth between Art and Youth Ministry. During January 1998, when most of my friends were taking a stained-glass/paper-making class, I decided to take a class called, “Contemporary Forms of Ministry.” I traveled to Washington D.C. with a bunch of religion majors and learned how to live my life with purpose. During this course, my professor taught us from life experiences, not just from books (FYI: That class also had one of the most difficult books I have ever read; I literally needed a dictionary, from start to finish!).

During the course (less than 30 days), we spent a week in Washington D.C. visiting not-for-profits; we were challenged to critically think about each organization’s  mission, purpose and programs; in addition, we volunteered and made a difference through service. I still remember S.O.M.E. (so others might eat) and cleaning the food pantry; I remember dreaming about starting my own not-for-profit/safe-haven for youth-at-risk, utilizing the arts to help support foster youth.

The big “experience” of the week, included a homeless simulation project, which meant that my professor woke each of us ridiculously early and dropped us off in pairs around Washington D.C. I remember that is was cold and that it felt awkward following through this experience; who legitimately was going to take me serious; I was a “privileged” college student, not a homeless student. However, I wasn’t a stranger to feeling alone, I was an emancipated former foster youth. Throughout the day, I had several encounters with the homeless; at one point during the day, I had to use the restroom; I knocked on a very well-known church door; the door was completely made of glass; someone saw me, but they denied me access; several actual homeless acquaintances told me to just go to the nearby hotel; I remember being very hesitant; it was an absolutely beautiful hotel; I was scruffy, hungry and irritable. The doorman let me walk in and use the restroom; I remember crying in the bathroom stall; I wanted to know why I was rejected and accepted; regardless, I washed my hands and there was a life-defining moment when I decided that I wanted to live my life differently; I wanted to be driven to give, serve, and lead differently.

During that religion course, my professor instructed us to utilize several tools, which I still practice today. These tools definitely have shaped and continue to reinforce my leadership philosophy. The following five practices guide my work in Higher Education today;

1) Ask questions 2)  Put myself in other people’s shoes  3) Meditate 4) Journal/ Reflect  and  5) Live Differently.

1) My professor challenged us to go to a college and ask other college student’s questions. This experience felt awkward; some students were open; others were closed. This perhaps, was one of my first experiences learning about the needs of college students; it would be eight years later, that I would begin a graduate assistantship in higher education.

2) To put myself in other people’s shoes means that I may feel uncomfortable and out of place. The homelessness simulation always reminds me that I cannot possibly know everything and the only way I can begin to understand unique perspectives is through listening. To listen is to begin to have compassion for each person’s experience (and to feel moved to do something to create change).

3) My professor included a silent retreat during the course; I became familiar with my inner-voice and I learned to rest; a lesson that I have repeated countless times; it is vital to prevent burnout, by making time to slow-down; to really reflect and determine next steps; following that course, I knew, I wanted to do more, be more.

4) I kept a journal for the class; it was a part of my grade; it was the best practice to develop insight and perspective.  I truly learned to be silent and focus on changing my core first, rather than focusing on changing others or my environment. Today, I have many other outlets, such as this blog, Facebook, and etc. Keeping a journal allows for reflective thought, which promotes constant growth; how can I take this moment, grow and improve myself?

5) Living differently meant not accepting the status quo; for me, it meant building a campfire, dwelling with others and celebrating life. I will never forget the friendships I forged during the class, but discovering my passion for service and making a difference truly resonated with me; It would take me a few years, but to live differently, means to live to make a difference; if my heart is stagnant, it means that I am no longer making an impact and that I need to reassess my dreams and forge a new path.

Again, to be transformed, in my opinion, is to have an experience that completely revolutionizes one’s way of thinking and doing; in other words, it’s an experience that alters your state of being, including every fiber of one’s existence.  I’m thankful for my professor, the course, new friendships, the lessons and the hands-on-experiences that  provided me with tools to reflect and revolutionize my priorities to live differently, keep a journal and think reflectively,  meditate and listen to my inner-voice,  earnestly practice compassion and never quit asking questions!


So, I had this moment (yesterday), where I told my mom I loved her….and she said that I shouldn’t love her, because she caused me so much ache….

I cried. I truly wept. It was if a hole was finally patched up–I can only explain what happened in a poem-


To forgive
is to give
Myself permission
to step back, waaaay back
22 years—

I was pulled out of school early in 8th grade (during 8th period class)
My mom and step-father picked me up-
We rode in the car for 6 miles,
An awkward silence permeated my senses-
fear invaded my gut,
The weight placed upon my shoulders, doubled-

We finally arrived at the house and exited the car-
Ironically, I tiptoed next to each of the Christmas stockings
And walked up a hundred stairs (or just 22)
and entered my bedroom.
At first glance, I saw–
my bed-sheets were gone,
I quickly checked all my hiding places–
Clothes neatly folded in drawers
Closet organized (all of the hangers faced the same way)
Even the book shelves were neatly displayed–
What in the hell, did she find?
I walked down the stairs,
through the dining room
and sat on a stool in the kitchen–
She unfolded a piece of notebook paper
Time scathingly obliterated my outer-shell,
she accusingly read my secrets
(my abuser stood by her side or she stood by his side)
I felt his gaze piercing my existence;
His threats pressed nails into my spine-
Tears finally escaped through ducts
previously cemented by terror-

And my mother set me free,
While the floor completely fell away
She called me a “bitch”
And recklessly let me go—
And I never returned.

She told me that she wouldn’t leave him
(I want to believe that her mind
was violently petrified by his control).

In other words,
She abandoned me and I was placed into foster care.
As they say, The rest is history. (scratch that)

Until now-
I’m opening my heart.

To forgive
is to give
Myself permission
To step forward
Fully accessing
The present moment—
To hold her hand–
Not because I am completely healed
(Because I still have scars).
Not because she contributed to the cycle of abuse
(Because I am a survivor).
Not because I am a Christian
(Because I am filled with hope and a purpose).
Not because she’s dying
(Because she’s still alive and can hear my words, when it matters).
Not because she has brain cancer
(Because she’s my mother).

To forgive is to give
Myself permission
To love her—

And finally set her free.

Without Explanation

I close my eyes

And exhale-

Squinting through shadows

Focusing on a bright light

A source of relevation

Increasing the capacity to be

Fully present

In this moment

Even though life is

Fully chaotic


Full of knots and cannot-


Fists full of ache




What is and what is not

Nothing changes quickly enough

An uncomfortable space is born

And expands into undecided


Continually battling-

In a knock out fight

Brutally revealing


The pull of gravity

Unravels years of turmoil


Full and empty-

Leveraging the pain

Teetering between

The past and present


Inexplicably divided


A breaking point

Or merely a pinnacle

of strength

Only to be reinforced,

By letting go–

Gaping wounds

Exposed in the light of day

Carve ornate inscriptions-

Within caverns

Leaving behind indentations-

Messages designed to communicate

An evolution of becoming authentic

Vulnerable just enough,

to listen–

Formally addressed

By truth-

Resonating deeply

Rising against


Breaking through


Unveiled by


I don’t know about everyone else

But I press my ear to heaven

And it happens,

Just like that

In a blink

Before it’s too late

A heart realigns itself again

How sweet the sound-

A handwritten note

Suddenly makes me

More aware

Unequivocally declaring,

I am

In need

of a heart

Filled with peace–

I retreat and

Fall to my knees,

Promising not to go back,

the way in which I came–

Learning  to become

all over again.

Pieces of Paper 10/30 (NaPoMo)

my baby book says,

my first word was” good,”

but trauma shut down my lips

I couldn’t speak-


I was held back in third grade

but won a 4th grade spelling bee-

I fell in love with words,

I felt liberated-

but that’s when I was given my first diary-

words of hatred expounded

I  described everything until

my mother found it


threw it away,

she denied it’s truth-

but she couldn’t stop me-

I started writing on pieces of paper


hid them in my room-

under furniture,

in pockets of jeans,

beneath my bed-

any place where

she could find them-

I fought for a voice

in silence,

she never heard me speak,

fear choked me daily-

she was caught up in her land of make-believe

I was too young for reversal of roles

I was already an adult at 14-

In seventh grade,

during reading class,

we began reading,

Not without my Daugher


I started a journal,

and kept it safe in my locker at school-

I wrote for clemency,

for a right to life-

I was kidnapped in my own home

ignored, forgotten, abused,

words were my comfort

they offered solace-

It finally happened

in eighth grade,

December 11, 1991-

she found a note

and forced me to read it-

tears released themselves from prison-

words burst through my spirit like lava,

leveling a path to freedom-

I finally spoke what I had written a million times over-

but she still didn’t believe me-

It didn’t much matter,

I became a survivor-


continued to inscribe my story

one page at a time–

poetry month

is more like a celebration of my life

words linked together,

connecting chapters of my journey

reminding me,

to not give up,

to keep progressing,





(*eventually, at  an open mic)