Learn the facts & take action now

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In honor of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, I wanted to share this online article:

Five Facts To Remember On The UN’s International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women

I did this painting (below) over three years ago, it illustrates many things, but I believe that it captures the transformational process required to heal; there is chaos and cosmos that forges a path to understanding. It’s never easy and always difficult to overcome; I do believe that survivors of violence and abuse can find healing in their lives. I hope the world becomes more aware and learns to do more than we are doing now, to take action and prevent violence from happening within our country and around the world…

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Move the World

My mom finished her radiation treatment on Friday; she wore a mask  (like this one) to keep her face from moving during each of her 18 radiation sessions. For her, the mask was very uncomfortable, but I think she was extraordinarily brave to undergo treatment, knowing that her type of brain cancer is terminal. She put on the mask to have more time on this earth to spend with her grandchildren. I don’t know how much time she has, no one does; not knowing is not easy, but we are taking this all, one day at a time, and I think that her determination is a reflection of the love she wishes to share…..

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At the end of her treatment on Friday; my mom asked to keep her mask; she is going to make it a piece of art.I can’t wait to see what she creates.

Throughout my mom’s treatment, I have been contemplating masks and why we wear them; a mask protected my mom; positively or negatively, we each have our own reasons for wearing masks; but the motivation is not always to hide or conceal; sometimes, it’s meant to heal. So, be sensitive to the needs of others; you never know what they will reveal…..

Today’s post was inspired by this quote (please explore the links):

“One day you wake up and realize the world can be conquered… I’m going to put a mask on and scrawl my name across the face of the world, build cities of gold, come back and stomp this place flat, until even the bricks are just dust. So you can just shut up. All of you. I’m going to move the world.”
Austin Grossman, Soon I Will Be Invincible

Ready to win my life back

Today’s post is inspired by a phrase that Dolvett Quince speaks to his contestants on The Biggest Loser. During workouts on the show, he shouts, “win your life back!!!”

Last week, when I heard him shout, “Win your life back,” I wept.

Since I was 11 years old, food has been an inappropriate coping mechanism.

At first, I ate, because I thought if I was fat, I wouldn’t be (sexually) abused.

But he didn’t care; he abused me daily, for three years.

Eating food was the one thing I had control over, so I kept eating and eating; Unfortunately, this has been my fight for the past 25 years; even when I was in foster care and had a supportive foster family, I kept over-eating;  even after I had my gallbladder removed, I kept over-eating;   even when I earned my MA in Creative Arts Therapy and knew better, I kept over-eating.

(Deep breath)

Over the past month, while spending time with my mom during her radiation treatment (for her brain cancer),  memories have resurfaced in full force about my childhood. At first, I wanted to maintain a safe distance; but during the process of forgiving her, I realized how important it is to accept grace and forgive myself too (daily).

Over the past few months, I have gained weight; everyone has been kind; no one has pointed it out, except, I feel it every day, when I try on my clothes and they don’t fit like they should. It’s as if my childhood is mocking me; I’m definitely ready to stop reaching for the comfort food; it’s so ironic, that comfort food actually makes me feel so uncomfortable; I just want to build a fort and hide; instead, I just need to sit at the table and give myself permission to eat healthy and be thankful for a new day to begin again.

I always wanted my mom to fight for me (she didn’t), but now, I need to win this fight once and for all. It’s time to win my life back…25 years is weigh too long to be carrying an albatross around my mid-section. I am ready…

The following is a poem/narrative of sorts, that I Initially wrote in 2010:

Thick

A pinch turned into a roll into curves into the full-figured voluptuous woman that appears before you today, but when I was a child, a natural instinct to eat three meals a day was warped when self-confidence diminished at the hands of an abuser.

A candy bar turned into a bag of chips into a pint of ice-cream into stuffing my body with food; this process insulated my body with a layer of protection to fight off his advances at age 11.

I had convinced myself that if I was overweight, he would leave me alone. I figured that if I was unattractive on the outside, that he would stop looking at me; all of this thinking and eating did not stop him at all.

Worst yet, my mother ignored the abuse and told me that she wasn’t going to have a fat daughter, so she forced me to exercise each day, proving that she didn’t give a damn about what I was feeling on the inside.

Three years passed and I was thickened like a plump chicken; I wanted nothing more than to die; a recipe for redemption was inscribed upon my right thigh and I found a way out by speaking the truth.

Years of molestation ceased to be a part of my daily routine but food continued to console my mind and 126 pounds turned into 157 into 176 into 198 into 210 into 234 into 246 (what I weigh right now).

A pattern of compulsive eating without exercising has given my body an over-sized shape and created a false facade; my curves are my battle wounds; they have been gaping open for 25 years.

Today, I begin to heal, inside out….

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

Daily Prompt: Inside the Actor’s Studio

On the interview show, Inside the Actors’ Studio, host James Lipton asks each of his guests the same ten questions. These are my responses.

  1. What is your favorite word? Beloved
  2. What is your least favorite word? Potty-training
  3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Quiet.
  4. What turns you off?  Noise.
  5.  What is your favorite curse word? *&^%
  6. What sound or noise do you love? My son’s laughter
  7. What sound or noise do you hate? My son’s crying/tantrums
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?  Massage Therapist
  9. What profession would you not like to do? Merry Maid (Only because I did it before and I know I don’t ever want to do it again)
  10.  If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Your family is here…

Breaking

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  http://thearcanefront.com/nicholas-winton-how-a-29-year-old-stockbroker-saved-669-lives-on-nights-and-weekends-2/4421
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. . .

Connected and #inspiredby (People who have made a difference in my life)

ImageI was inspired to write today’s post by Hoda Kotb’s examples of inspiration from the Today Show.  She was told by Ken Duane, “Don’t hog your journey,’’ and  “Share your journey with others, and you’re a power of example. Think of what you are able to accomplish.”

On Sunday, I had brunch with a good friend of mine; she asked me, “Does keeping a blog help you?” Of course, my response was, “YES!”  For as long as I can remember, writing helps me process life, but I also want to be “a power of example.”  I hope my openness helps someone each day (and maybe my son someday); that’s what I truly want to accomplish when I write, but I dream of accomplishing more with my life (that’s another post).

The intention of today’s post is to honor five people in my life who have inspired me on my journey and changed my life.  I’m sorry, I couldn’t list “just” one; I have decided to list them by year, in the order that I “met” each of them:

Right in my own backyard, she inspired me to redefine family…

In 1996, I was in my college cafeteria, standing by the cereal bar, when a random girl came up to me and said, “Do you know who I am?  I’m your cousin!”  That moment catapulted into an incredible friendship; we lived together during my junior year and have been friends ever since.  I have learned that being family has nothing to do with biological connections; my biological mother was adopted; my cousin and I are not related by blood, but we are definitely family; she has always been a confident and one of my friends, but she is my “cuz” and one of my closest allies; we have a special tie that bonds; I believe this tie exists because our grandparents were siblings and they instilled within us the fortitude to value the connectedness of family; for this reason (and many more) we are connected through our family tree and love.

No matter the distance, they inspire me to be authentic…..

During college, in the fall semester of 1998, I met two guys at an informational meeting for a trip to Italy; the trip would be for a class, “Art in the Western World.” During the month-long class, we traveled to Italy for two weeks and explored the sights; I’m so thankful that our friendship has evolved over the past 15 years. Truly, no matter the distance, we’ve always had this uncanny ability to stay connected; I can honestly say that I have been able to be my most authentic self with them (and I hope they can say the same about me). The longer we know each other, the more I appreciate the early days of becoming friends. For example, I was recently reprimanded for calling one of them my “former apprentice;” oh, but I loved the days, they would visit me in my studio and talk. In my jewelry box, I still have a little yellow ring that was made for me. I am a sentimental fool- but I think they love me for it. We have lived all over America (California, Colorado, Tennessee, and New York), but we still manage to have had countless laughs, pep talks, critiques, real conversations, etc.  I am so thankful to be connected by a nexus of artistry, faith and veracity.

From here to there, she inspires me to pay it forward…

After college, while serving with the AmeriCorps in 2001, I had an additional opportunity to work as an intern for a not-for-profit; while working there, I met a beautiful person; she once planned a surprise birthday party for me in February (my birthday is in June!).  She is a beautiful person for so many reasons, but most of all, I have to say that her heart of compassion truly revolutionizes my life; she has made personal sacrifices in her life to help me (whether it was money, a bag of necessities from target or a fun umbrella for a new job); she has always given me her time and truly cared about me.  She is the woman I mentioned during today’s introduction; she treated my son and I to brunch (and she survived a trip to Target with my son-she bought him play-dough for his upcoming birthday). More than our Target adventures, she knows my story, I have felt her empathy, but never any pity; she inspires me to pay if forward. When I moved back to Columbus a few years ago, she relocated to Cleveland for a job. Even though we have been far apart, the distance between us  is too narrow to measure; from here to there, we are truly connected by nostalgia, creativity and love.

Across the miles; she inspired me to find my way…

In March 2010, I called one of my best friend’s (one of the two guys from college-described above) and told him about my pregnancy; he connected me to one of his friends in Colorado who could offer me support; she counseled me and delivered words of wisdom and guidance. She shared her own story and sewed hope into my heart and womb. At that precise moment, I was broken emotionally, yet she didn’t try to proselytize or fix me, even though I could tell that her faith was very important to her; she simply expressed compassion through her words and actions. She was the second person who knew I was pregnant, yet, ironically, we have never met in person (I hope to change that someday).  I am forever grateful; we are connected by the information highway, motherhood, and faith!

Okay, that’s five out of possibly a hundred (or more)!

Who inspires you? Please share!

Let it be.

This video prompted today’s post: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGgOimJaqT4Image

Let it be.

Okay, so I had a conversation several weeks ago with a colleague about my anxiety regarding flying on planes (and about being in situations where I have no control over the outcome). And he said something to the effect of, “so your calm demeanor, it’s just an act?”

This statement startled me. Do I really have a calm demeanor?  How does anxiety and calmness coexist?

Umm….it doesn’t. I learned a long time ago, it’s all about developing appropriate coping mechanisms (I say appropriate, because throughout my life, I’ve struggled with an eating disorder, where I fed my emotions – and still do).

So, I choose to breathe. Most of the time, I just close my eyes and meditate. I think about pushing through, to get to the other side. It’s not always effective, because I’m not immune to stress, but my breathing and/or meditation expresses my faith and belief that I am not alone in this world.

(Inhale)

Writing is also a form of  meditation; When I was in my twenties, I remember that  I would always write in a journal before falling  asleep; I would write some really bizarre ramblings; but you know what, I slept much better in my twenties, than I do in my thirties. I think way too much in my thirties: I care too much about what people think; unfortunately, it’s like that awkward space in junior high; do people accept me or do I just accept being alone?

(Exhale)

Oh, but there is irony; to some degree, I accept my aloneness, but that doesn’t mean that I am fragile, it just means that I am vulnerable, however,  I am strong and determined to push through to grow and become better, as a human being, mother, professional, ally, advocate, writer, daughter, friend, and mother. After-all, I’m on my way, but I’m not there yet.

(Inhale)

It is important for me to state that I am neither invincible nor protected from criticism. For example (pretty basic- from the time we are children to being an adult), being disliked (in whatever situation) well, it can feel defeating. No amount of pep talks (self-guided or otherwise) can make me believe that I will be in a better position to be “liked.” I know I am not perfect, but I have always sought to be my best. I lead with my heart. I guess that could be perceived as my downfall. Some folks might assume that I am weak or weakened by the fact that I step into the shoes of others, by attempting to appreciate/comprehend their perspectives; but I do so, to create better understanding within myself. This isn’t really about being liked or disliked, it’s about being progressive and authentic to learn and grow, despite external circumstances,

(Exhale)

I empathize, but ultimately, I do not back down, I just slow down to build a bridge of understanding. I am developing my skills about not rushing into judgment or assuming the worst case scenario; I practice mediation and remind myself to let it be; after-all, my heart has always been open.  I know that the path of self-knowledge leads me to recognize my weaknesses, but it also reaffirms my strengths, to which I know and accept, that I am precisely where I need to be, so I can reflect and cultivate compassion; my heart is not closed.  I’m not afraid. I was built especially for circumstances like this; my anxiety can be defeating at times, but it does not hold me captive—I have learned to meditate and breathe, to concentrate on what can be, rather than being chained by the challenge itself. It also requires humility and knowing how to be a good listener, which is not as easy as it sounds. It’s about letting go, to hold on to what is most important; to be faithful.

(Inhale)

I am stronger and more aware than I have ever been, therefore, I do accept the calm; I inhale a promise and exhale a prayer; daily, I choose to let it be.

(Exhale)

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!

COLANDER GIRLS

We are born with bowls-

not hearts- in our chest,

naturally,

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,

afterwards,

however,

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 http://www.davethomasfoundation.org/.

Cause for Reflection

About a month before I found out I was pregnant, I told a mentor of mine, in these exact words, “I never want to have kids.” I was confident in my decision based on the facts, which included my parents getting divorced when I was 9 months old,  my mother giving me up on two different occasions (age 2 and 14), and all the ache (no matter how hard I fought it) that wrapped around my being. It scared me tremendously to think of myself as a mother; I grew up with this fear in my chest, that I was never gonna be loved, therefore, I was never going to be strong enough to love a child (even though, I can clearly identify more than a dozen people who loved me then and still love me now).

When I was placed into foster care as a teenager, multiple people offered advice, which always sounded like, “When you have your own family, you will be able to love as you always wanted to be loved.” I didn’t want to take the risk and convinced myself that I was better off alone.

Considering my personal choices, I shouldn’t have been surprised when I found out that I was going to be a mother, but I was completely floored. The week that I found out I was pregnant, I was about to leave for an alternative spring break trip to Seattle with 12 college students. The week was intense. There was a defining moment; I was volunteering with my students at a site for mothers and their children (the organization helps them get back on their feet); a mother entered the classroom with her infant; she reached out and asked me if I minded holding and feeding her child. I think I hesitated, but of course I offered my help.

There are few instances in my life where I felt comfortable enough to hold a baby; there was one instance in high school; but beyond that, I have always declined—even when my siblings asked me to hold their children.  I can remember changing my nephew’s diaper one time in Iowa, when my sister was helping her oldest son; I heard her youngest crying and I thought about it, and finally, I decided to change his diaper. I didn’t have a motherly instinct; I was actually afraid.

So, back to the rocking chair; I was holding a beautiful baby and feeding her; I began to seriously ponder my pregnancy and being a mother; a sea of doubt flooded my heart, but the doubt was washed away with a peace that passes all understanding. I knew no matter my fear, that I would overcome it, to love my child.

In a week or so, my son will turn 3.

And so, here I am. I am thankful for teachers, mentors and family members who taught me to always follow my heart. When my son was a newborn, I didn’t have a rocking chair, but I improvised.  I sat on the edge of my bed and rocked him to sleep while singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Lately, as his third birthday approaches, my son has been asking me almost every day, “Do you want to be my best-friend?” This little question transforms my existence; my heart is filled with love; my definition of love expands and is redefined; loving a child has restored my path in life; being loved is transformational and I feel blessed to be a mother. The fear has collapsed; I am not the same woman who once said that I didn’t want to have kids. And what is the deepest longing of my heart? I can’t imagine any other path, except for motherhood and cleaning dirty diapers, stepping on toy cars in the middle of the night, wiping up a flooded bathroom floor, and sharing the past three years with my son; his love makes me believe I was born to be his mother and his best-friend. To learn more about my pregnancy and my reflections about becoming a mother, please visit my poetry blog, HOPE.

This is a good opportunity to thank everyone for your support! I’ve learned it is okay to ask for help; I’ve learned to redefine family; and I’ve discovered that it really takes a village to raise a child; I’m so glad you are in our lives and that you love my son and I!