2020 Vision

I have been silent, mostly.

Today I was challenged not to be silent.  Having a child changes my view in many ways. I have been careful in my postings but not careless in my beliefs or actions. The most important conversation I had this week was with with my son who is about to turn six…he asked me “why did people vote for a bully?”

And I told him only half of America did and that we are a democracy. We had a crucial conversation about the president elect and we prayed for him. We honestly prayed for him.

And we also talked about 2020, the year that Carter will turn 10. And 2028 when He turns 18 but won’t be able to vote because his birthday will come right after election day. So we talked about 2032. Can you imagine what our world will be like by then?  That’s what is ahead of us…not just 4 years or 8 years, but 16 years from now…..

Just a blink of an eye..and I pray that we grow and learn how to build bridges….that we learn that love begins at home. Sounds so nice right???? That is where the  conversation ends with a five year old.

Over the past week I have been more heartbroken than ever — with other victims of sexual violence. Of course I cannot have this conversation with a five year old but I can say that given the hateful rhetoric of our president-elect — it does not make it very  easy for me to build bridges.

Matter of fact, the “grab the #*$$&” quote is not something anyone would put on letterhead, let alone Presidential letterhead. It’s not just words. It was action without consequence. My question for you…, “Have you ever been grabbed by the #*$$&?”

I have. For three years of my life. No one intervened until it was too late and I was too afraid to ask for help as a fourteen year old.

So tell me America,  how am I suppose to cope and set aside my grief and trauma for a greater democracy,  in order for a man –who self admitted he could get away with murder— to be given the highest power possible?

So America, why did you vote for a “bully?”

This is honestly where I cannot write anymore. This is not about winning and losing. This is about fighting for resiliency…not between each party…but for humanity.

To learn about and support survivors triggered by the President-elect (and half of America voting for him), please visit: https://www.romper.com/p/how-to-help-sexual-assault-victims-following-trumps-win-because-his-victory-is-a-trigger-22347

Until my son actually has a voice, I will keep praying &  striving to build bridges, and doing what I can to make a difference and we will pray for the President-elect.

AND I will be counting down the days….

#growthmindset from age 5 to 39

I told myself that I would write at least once a month ( AND WRITE AUTHENTICALLY) in order to practice reflection.

Right now, I feel like death. I have a cold with the absolute worst congestion and an unbearable sore throat….but this is my motivation for writing. So I press on, literally.

No one OR nothing can stop me from striving to be my best. BUT my effort doesn’t make me perfect -not as a mother, friend, girlfriend, supervisor, Christian- well, you get the idea…Shocking…I am human! Feedback is directed at us in many ways. Directly or indirectly- sometimes it stings, stresse, polarizes, inspires, humbles, and/or challenges us-no matter the delivery, we have to choose to rise above and most importantly respond. Call this developing a #growthmindset because it is a part of our composite. So many things do not matter, not our age, degree earned or socioeconomic status; we each make a choice to grow (or limit our growth).

Sometimes our deepest lessons of acquired knowledge do not come from a standardized test, but rather meaningful reflection and the ability to see yourself as how others might see you. I have been receiving feedback and information about how others experience who I am, and that knowledge is opening the eyes of my heart.

For example, I recently read mostly positive feedback from a state-wide workshop that  I gave and there was just one evaluation that mentioned that “she could have been more comfortable with the crowd.”

I wasn’t surprised because first,  I always get nervous and it was a big room with a very large crowd. To make it difficult upon myself,  I was missing my transition bell to alert the room to be aware of time changes. Instead I had to yell over 70 happily engaged participants (my partial dream of what success looks like) and that’s also what made me feel slightly uncomfortable. I was scanning the room because I was trying to pay attention to people’s comfort levels; I was never thinking that someone was scanning me that closely!  I am never going to forget my bell again! Plus I plan to focus on increasing my self-awareness so I can be more in tune with the room rather than my own hang-ups (missing supplies).

Even though the majority agreed it was an excellent or good session, that one voice is what challenged me to grow. Reminder: We do not always get an evaluation in life and sometimes we have to self-assess on our own!

Sometimes it feels like it can take just one voice to dismantle a good thing, but we have to rememember that if we really want to help others, we have to self-reflect and grow ourselves intentionally in order to best demonstrate our capacity for a #growthmindset. I also have several mentors (professional and spiritual) whom support and guide too.

We ultimately have to believe in our purpose and imagine what we can acheive. For me, being a mother is my highest purpose and I want my son to acheive self-actualization as he matures throughout his lifespan.

Recently, my five year old has been challenging me to better help him navigate his world without a father. (Breathe deeply)

My own parents divorced when I was just a baby. I didn’t really see my father until 3rd grade and that was just for a moment and then I met him for a second time when I was 14, when I was placed in foster care. I never went home to my mother’s house and I never went to live with my father.  So I remember thinking all those years,  “Why me?” “Am I not good enough” “Was it my fault?” “Is she/he ever coming for me?” More questions formed and none were answered fully, not until my late twenties, when I finally figured out how to ask them outloud to my father and my mid-thirties when I finally asked my mother. My father’s expression of love and support always looked and felt different. It didn’t make me feel like I belonged. But I know my father loves me- without a doubt.

So yes, I know the feelings that my son may feel and the feelings he will continue to encounter as he navigates his future. That is why it hurts so deeply for me- I know I cannot wave a wand and make a father appear. As much as I blamed my mom all those years, my father-in the midst if his own struggle- For 14 years, he had made a choice to stay away. I know that my words and actions mean everything to my son.

When my son brings up his  father- I am limited to what I  can say but  I try to provide an age-appropriate response. But what I haven’t let him see is my grief- I never cry.

But yesterday, when I had a temp of 100° and I was feeling extremely sick, my son said something about not having a dad and I cried- the tears just flowed….. And something happened.

My nearly six-year old heard my tears and turned to look at me- it was like he had to see that they were real. He was reading me, like a book. He needed to know I felt something. I do not want his little heart to be filled with so much sadness.

I cannot tiptoe around the fact I am a single mother. Even when I was pregnant, people asked me if I was going to give up my baby because he deserved two parents.  I fight to push through limited points of view; I am changing the cycle-I am a better mother-and I am making sure he has good male role models, mentors and family in his life, to love and lift him up always!

This was not the plan as they say, but it is God’s plan now.

This is a life-long conversation and it will require us both to have a #growthmindset..

It is possible, even with a kindergartner or first-grader to develop the heart, soul and mind…..

My son is about to turn six in a few weeks; we have been reading since the day he was born. During my  parent-teacher conference session,  his teacher stated that I could help him by explaining/reviewing the author and illustator each time we read. I should have been doing this all along but I hadn’t been explicably told.

We began doing this daily talk for a few weeks; my son is now pointing out the author and illustrator on his own. Each time we read a book, he is like, “you don’t have to tell me, I got this.”

So, we have been developing our #growthmindset through reading and developing conversations. Some of our #growthmindset lessons have been building from a few children’s books:

  • What do you do with a problem?
  • (See the opportunity)
  • Rainbow Fish
  • (Quit being stubborn and start sharing)
  • Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons
  • (Buttons come and buttons go)
  • (There is always another way to address/sing a problem)

Wrap up:

In order to practice growth, we have to intentionally lead our lives with purpose through action; this process often leads us on the journey of transformation and creates a shift for the expansion of a growth mindset.  FYI: It never narrows; it only  widens through feedback and self-awareness.

Who are you becoming?

Reflection Questions:

  1. Is it hard for you to ask for feedback? Why?
  2. How do you respond to feedback? Please describe how it makes you feel physically, mentally and emotionally.
  3. If you made an action plan today, how would you utilize resourcessnd/or mentors to explore your growth?
  4. Finish this sentence: To grow is to practice__________ and to eliminate____________.


My 360° Moment at MVNU

I have prepared many speeches but yesterday was more than unique; sharing my testimony in chapel at Mount Vernon Nazarene University challenged me to dig deep in order to tell my story of reconciliation which covered the past 39 years.

I wrote my speech a month ago and began practicing it in the car twice a day going between my son’s school and work. Sometimes I would start crying and I knew this was going to be more than an emotional speech-it was going to become a  platform for others to think about their own hurt and heartbreak. I wanted to tell the story of how we can experience hope and healing to move forward in our lives. I also wanted to create an awareness that our purpose can  drive us forward too-but more than anything-I wanted to convey that life is not a solo act and that life is spent best in community.

I arrived at my alma mater Tuesday night….I sat in chapel and fine-tuned my speech. I also went so far as to stand on stage and mentally give my speech. That night I stayed with my friend in town; she was my first job supervisor in college and she also taught me how to drive. The next morning my friend came to check on me and she asked me if I knew my shirt (pajamas)  was on backwards. We both had a good laugh!

I left the house and headed back to campus; I was given my ear mic and I started to walk around to get my nerves calmed. I was about to pour out my heart and I didn’t know how I was going to handle the opportunity in front of a thousand college students (attending mandatory chapel).

And then I ran into Joe- the Chaplain (and my former professor) that invited me to share my story. He blessed me with a hug and walked me back into chapel. We walked into the back room with all of the students leading morning worship, and he said a prayer. I was thankful for this moment of heart preparation.

We exited and I found my place in the front row next to Joe. We sang worship and then my foster parents joined me too. This moment was too incredible not to stand in awe of God and His power to transform. Worship prepared my heart and I was aleady fighting back tears! I was telling myself to pull it together. At that moment, Joe took my hand and squeezed it, as if he was sending me a message, “you are loved and you got this.”

Finally, Joe introduced me and I walked up to the platform to deliver my message….

(To view my testimony, please visit this link)

(I start speaking about 22 minutes into the service)

To my surprise I felt calm….but my emotions ran through me like a mighty river. Joe had been right, I hadn’t shared my testimony like this before, especially in front of my friends and family.

Twenty years ago, I was a student sitting in chapel and yesterday,  I was speaking in the same spot that I had heard Brennan Manning, Joe Noonen, Gary Sivewright and LeBron Fairbanks speak – just a few of my hereos and mentors!

Following my speech, a group of students came up to me and gave me a hug. I was blown away with thier generosity of kindness. A few students also asked me to pray with them, which was so humbling. At the same time, I completely felt peace and assurance that God used me in a way that I couldn’t have imagined….Thanks be to God!

I would also learn later, that my dad (a professor at MVNU) stated that he had never heard the students in chapel so quiet!

Following lunch, I gave an artist talk to a painting class and shared my website and my experiences in art therapy. I also participated in a painting critique which was a wonderful gift added to the entire day. I guess that’s when I had my 360° moment.

I had mentioned being an art student in my speech; I talked about the pressure of a critique and putting your best work (Only “A” quality) up on the wall and then waiting for everyone to tell you why it is not an “A.” During my visit to the class, I realized how far I had really come.  What I mean to say,  is that I felt like I had finally made it. “Made what?”  you might ask?

As an artist? Alumnus? Art Therapist?  Higher Education Administrator?   I made it as a whole person -even in the midst of my imperfections & brokenness- with everything to offer. I  just had to believe in myself first.

P. S. Don’t ever believe grace doesnt apply to you.

-Kimberly Colleen

* I am so thankful for Joe Noonen and John Donnelly for the invitation to share; thanks for entrusting me with your students.



Self-care and so much more…at Ohio Reach’s first College Retreat!

I have attempted to keep my writing separate from my work, but this week,  my professional career and personal journey of transformation blended.

This week, we conducted a week-long conference and  inducted new Scholars (former foster youth) into the Columbus State Scholar Network. We have nearly 20 students this semester! Yesterday, Columbus State Community College also hosted the first State-wide College Retreat coordinated by William Murray IV and Ohio Reach.

Ohio Reach improves post-secondary outcomes for foster care youth and alumni through leadership, empowerment, advocacy, research and networking (L.E.A.R.N.)

Thanks to William Murray IV,  Ohio Reach had six colleges in attendance including Clark State, Cincinnati State, Ohio University, Central State University, Columbus State, and Cuyahoga Community College.

In my own words….

Yesterday, I was honored to speak about practicing self-care while also sharing my story as a former foster youth.  Self-care is so important….there have been times that I wanted to give up but did not because I implemented practices in my life that sustained me and kept me on the right track. I focused on meditation and journaling as key ways to cope with stress.  I shared specifically about my journey, not just my life in foster care. I spoke of my desire to reconcile with my biological mother and the day I introduced her to my son. I shared about my emotional path from hate to love, and ultimately about the process of developing empathy and unconditional love for my mother- who died in 2014 from brain cancer.

As I opened my heart to future leaders, I felt this amazing energy in the room and it propelled me to push through to be open and vulnerable about my journey of transformation and impact.

Over the course of my life, I never once imagined I would be working in Higher Education – and I never ever thought I would be supporting foster youth. I always ran from my identity as a foster youth. I wanted to be more than a foster kid & I believed that I would be the one person in my family to change to cycle of abuse. And when I had an unplanned pregnancy….so much of my fear and denial made me come face to face with my past; I made a promise to myself to build a better future for my son and I.

So here I am…

I am blessed to be a collaborative partner in growing the next generation of foster youth into scholar leaders; I seek to cultivate a culture of mindfulness so they can make their dreams a reality!

Today’s retreat was a reminder that no matter life’s barriers and obstacles, we can all aim higher via education,  reflection and action. All of the speakers focused on moving forward, purposefully! Speakers for the College Retreat also included, Genesis Shine and Nikki Chin (Columbus State Scholars), Rayshawn L. Wilson, “LionHeart,” and Dr. Stephanie Krah (Central State). All of the students also received 10 Ways Anyone can Graduate from College Debt-free, by Kevin Brown (former foster youth), Amazon Fire tablet and a twin-sized quilt from My Very Own Blanket.

FINALLY, I am so incredibly thankful to be a member of the Scholar Movement that is spreading across Ohio!

Writing, Contemplation & Change

Over the past week, I started to write August’s post on three different days. I was torn because I have been asking myself (in the greater context(s) of both the election season and social justice), “What can I do- of significance- to make a difference?”

I do not write every day or every week – I simply haven’t had the time or space to dedicate at a micro level to write more frequently but I figured if I could just get into this writing zone once a month, then I would be able to establish consistency in my writing to progress my creativity for the long haul. But more than the practice, is the PURPOSE. I seek to write to reflect (and encourage others).

I spend a lot of time meditating and breathing purposefully; this is an intentional practice that I began in college that impacted my ability to cope with stressors. MEDITATION PREPARES MY HEART TO LISTEN. When I am at odds with the universe,  I find myself focusing on what I can change-ME.

The best way I know to change myself is to zoom in on “WDYDWYD?”  (Why do you do what you do?) For better or for worse, I think about my intent and the desired results of my actions. And meditation is my practice because I know that sometimes my intent becomes operationalized in a series of actions and reactions that can be misguided because I get caught up in the results- instead, I should stay longer in the PROCESS.  The motto of my alma mater (MVNU) states, “To seek to learn is to seek to serve (& understand).”

(BTW, I added, “& understand”)

I am a better learner when I become still. If I just slow down. STOP. And LISTEN. I become more aware and suddenly I begin to pay attention to the moment itself- which is usually focused on RELATIONSHIP building- and I become less distracted by results; only then do I  begin to realize the importance of my own role to “BE the change.”

AUTHENTIC change begins within; but every word and action says something about what we value or do not value. What do you value and reflect those values on a daily basis? We can embody change when we learn to open ourselves through contemplation, followed by action by giving our TIME to OTHERS; this is another way of expressing our vulnerabilities and learning to be more RECEPTIVE. Ask yourself, just as I have asked myself….”What can I do- of significance-to make a difference?” And then, take a step in your own life to  “BE the change.”

What matters more than ever to me? Relationships and RECONCILIATION

Please look for more  in September’s post!

Beyond the flower: #nomudnolotus

So…why a lotus? Since my arrival into this world, my beginning was a struggle of survival.  My parents divorced when I was just a baby. My dad was just gone. My mother was present but gone from my sight. She was addicted to drugs and abusive men. Trauma was my building blocks and it would impact my ability to speak and learn.

My beginning was planted in mud. I went into fostercare but my mother got me back. I had a speech impediment and dyslexia. My struggle to communicate was burried deep within a struggle.  My adolescence was turbulent and filled with detachment; I was molested and endangered. My mother chose to stay with my abuser while she let me go. She said, “Do not ask me to choose because I will always choose my husband over you. You see, I love him.”

Muddy waters was my home but it somehow provided what I needed to stay alive. My existence was harbored between angst and disgust. But there was just one place that I felt safe; between the pages of a book, I could be transported anywhere, with anyone. My love for books evolved into a love of writing. My closest confident was found between the lines on notebook paper, essentially my journal became my mother. I would fill page after page and begin to dig deep into my emotions and reasons for existence. I would figure out my purpose and begin to dream about my future. I would give my self pep talks and write that my life mattered.  This writing practice and relationship with pen and paper provided me with the ability to endure;  no matter what obstacle I would wrestle with throughout my life, I knew that as long as I believed I could make it, I would.

Ultimately,  I would grow up being a writer as I began a lifelong conversation with my Creator. Writing gave me the ability to lasso hope; beyond counseling and living out my faith, writing was my tried and true method to coping with abuse and fear.  Throughout my life, writing has kept me grounded and self-aware in determination to keep pushing through every battle. I choose to be authentic and open through my survivorship because vulnerability gives permission for others to see and feel what I see and feel, while learning to become each and every day.

As a survivor and lotus,  I am fully aware that I came into existence for a purpose and that is to let others know that life is messy, heartbreaking, and painful but it is also beautiful, healing and joyful.

Writing is the process of knowing my greater purpose and fulfilling my destiny through self-discovery. I am becoming through education, action, and reflection.  I teach and write about life’s lessons because I have the unique opportunity to help others understand their own journey of transformation too.  #nomudnolotus

digging deeper

Waking up in 2016, 20 years after I left the foster care system as a high school graduate, I have since earned my bachelor and my master’s degrees but accumulated 70k of debt. The burden of debt is an albatross around my heart, but I perist because I have a vocation, not a job, and that has made all the difference. I wake up as a single mom because I made some choices that made a lot of people doubt me and my spirituality, but I didnt give up along the way, even when many people that I loved the most told me that I should give up my baby. The trauma of my life impacted my belief in myself.

I didnt want to be a survivor of child abuse, rape, assault…. it’s been a hard life, my emotional scarring is continually healing; I have learned to love unconditionally; I understand that wisdom comes from knowing Him who is within me and practicing self-love, which is nearly impossible even when you have two degrees and knowledge not to mess up but the past always catches up and it purposefully suffocates joy and peace constantly. No one ever understands the daily struggle. Maybe I deserve it? because of my decisions?

I have to dig deeper. I have to accept grace.

It’s not that just some random day, I woke up and told myself that I’m not ever going to be worthy of being loved. That’s the messaging I recieved since birth from all the people that are suppose to love you no matter what. I told a friend of mine that I always become depressed in june and july…there is pain everywhere but it is crazy how we can put on a mask so we do not have to be completely authentic. We post pictures but we do not post our vulnerablities and our wounds…..What would really happen if we were exposed as broken and not whole? If people knew that we struggle just as much as we thrive, that we fear just as much as we hope, that we cry just as much as we laugh?

We have to dig deeper. We have to love wider.

I am progressing on this journey but it makes me angry that men who violate, traumatize, hurt, violate and downgrade women are being put in leadership roles and given less jail time…..I am afraid of the messaging of society and its impact on how women see their value.

We have to dig deeper. We have to lead differently.

writers block, sort of…

I just haven’t been posting and sometimes it feels like writer’s block. And I suppose I’ve been holding back – because this platform shouldn’t be my journal. After all, this is a blog – not a notebook of my private thoughts. Right? Agree? Disagree?

Well, this sounds reasonable, except my life has normally been an open book, especially when I’ve faced insurmountable odds. To put it in the most succint of terms -for me- writing is breathing, so what the “block” is wrong?

Writing is the glue that has held my heart together through all my years. The ability to reflect has kept my head above water, even though I’ve never learned to swim- my life preserver has been my faith- writing has brought me nearer still.

To write is to experience transformation. The ability to be changed is the result of knowing you cannot be limited by your experiences themselves. Sharing is the moment I can let it go and words mutate into something I couldnt have imagined – restorative knowledge.

So what gives? I have been writing and not posting because it hurts too (enter explicative here) much. Its like having your insides scraped during an annual pap exam. This past week my doctor said, you look nervous. And without hesitation I said, “ever since I was molested and was examined by a doctor invasively at 14 years old, I cannot help but feel nervous in an exam room. No matter how much time passes, I am still traumatized.”

Writing is figuring out that pain is temporary, and remembering that you are gonna survive.

Writing is a vehicle to transporting your thoughts to the field of dreams. There, I have found peace in the valley, daringly, even in the midst of doubt- somehow writing perpetuates confidence to begin again in reconciliation- with myself, others and God.

Writing has always been a way to create sketches in order to paint the masterpiece of knowing what matters most. There are linear thoughts that become twisted and knotty between the spine of my story but that doesnt mean my life has less value and that’s the chapter I’ve never been able to write until now.

Coming soon…

How I learned to love myself.Note121415_0.jpg

Exposing a redefined soul living for lasting change.

A couple weeks ago, I was in a car accident; the split second in which it happened, I heard the screeching and scraping of metal, which juggernaut-ed my soul to the equator of emergence; but get this, in that moment, I saw and felt nothing; somehow I pulled to the side of the road and I looked at my son. Ultimately, that single moment has replayed in my heart and mind for the past two weeks; I think about all the decisions I made that day, and  have replayed every second of that morning and perhaps the crash could have not happened if I had just made a different choice, but instead, I experienced a knee jerk reaction, it wasn’t pre-meditated; that’s what truly makes it an accident.

We cannot undo, what has been done, but we can try our very best to do things differently next time, right?

And then I think about this metaphor/exercise that I read during college; about listening and obeying to the voice of God; I think it went something like this, “Every time you listen and obey, it creates a pinhole through which you see and experience more of God.” For a long time in my journey, I lived through pinpoints in time, in which I purposefully listened and obeyed and life seemed sequentially and quintessentially fine.

However, not surprisingly, many singular happenings have occurred, in which my heart leapt or paused, just within a single breath of courage or fear; long story – very short, I know I haven’t listened or obeyed near enough in my spiritual journey, even when it made the most sense to do so…

This very sentence couldn’t be illustrated any better, than by telling you something that I have heard my four-year old utter, “I don’t have to listen to you.” Besides the obvious response, “Yes, you do, I’m your mother,” let me just say that his defiant spirit is not much different than my own, at 37, in which, I know I have refused to listen because guess what, “I don’t have to….”

Regardless of your beliefs, I write this all to explain another single moment.

A New Beginning. That’s the name of the book my foster mom gave me in 1993. It’s a book of daily devotions for women survivors of sexual abuse. That same year, when I was 15 or 16, I read every page prayerfully; through the years, I’ve bookmarked favorite devotions and written notes on the pages of the book.

After the crash, I started thinking about this book and I knew I had to find it. And one day, last week, I opened up a box and I saw it. I immediately picked it up and flipped through the pages until I saw it, the newspaper clipping of my abuser’s bond and arrest. And it hit me; I felt my adolescence crashing at 14, when my mother said that she would always choose her husband over me; that singular moment shattered an already broken heart and reinforced my walls.

October 7 (Paraphrased a little, A New Beginning)

He tells me that I am worthy, but I’ve always failed in accepting that  grace. It’s hard to believe that anything good can come from my past rejections. But I have heard God say that that my pain will help others on their path to healing. I choose to believe Him, not my fears.

For the longest time, I have desired to be a part of a faith community; I can articulate a lot of reasons why I cannot find a home church, but none of them ever included the fact that my heart was closed off because of my fears of rejection. My fear of rejection stems from abandonment, judgment and imperfections.

Vulnerability is this experience, where we choose to be welcomed and welcome others into our frayed lives. Honestly, I have walked through many church doors, but I didn’t really try to join a faith community; my walls prevented me from being my most authentic self; I just made excuses time and time again. I finally recognize that his has been my major operating system since I was young child. I have always looked for exits rather than pathways.

A few years ago, when I was living in New York, and I was at iHop with a bunch of friends; I was asked, about relationships and I said I didn’t believe in them; I was quite serious, but everybody thought I was joking, so I laughed too, but deep down, I knew I was being more honest than ever.  But more than that, I was still avoiding pathways to relationships.

So, what’s next?

I am choosing to expose a redefined soul living for lasting change.

I am worthy. I am on my way. My fears do not own me. I am breaking free.

Being loved.

It’s been a year, since I have been carrying her keys on my key-chain; there are days that I’m trying to unlock my door, and I mistake her keys for mine; I get so frustrated and I tell myself that I am going to take them off. But I refuse. I don’t take them off, they are a reminder of the door that opened when I knocked on her door for the first time in 10 years, almost to the day. I’ve read her journals several times over, and I know she suffered her own trauma, but I know she could have made better choices; she was still my mother. So I read in her journal, and found that date and read what she wrote on the day I came to see her; the day I introduced her to my son; she said it was the best day in her life, besides the day she was born.

It’s been a year since I sat by my mother’s side; every day for a month, I remember making that trip with my mom from the nursing home to the radiation treatment facility to treat her inoperable  brain tumor; I remember holding my mother’s hand; I remember the thin white sheet that covered her and the doctor moving in real close to hear her faint voice, as he asked, “Do you want anything?” And she responded, “I want one more day…with my grand-babies.”
It’s been a year, since I brought Carter to see my mom, they would draw together; artistic expression made all of our faces smile. Maybe my Creative Arts Therapy degree prepared me for those moments, in which I could clearly witness the power of healing that transcends pain. In those quiet moments, I felt more connected than I had ever felt before; these moments transformed my heart and life.
It’s been a year, since my brother became angry with me, since he quit talking to me, since I saw my nephews and nieces, since he stepped out of my life, for a second time. As teenagers, when i was in foster care, I could barely comprehend his words, “I want nothing to do with her.” But as a 30-something adults, his actions have severed the tie that bonds and that loss is the greatest loss of all.
It’s been a year, living with this ache….hiding, crouching, much like I did as an adolescent, in which I knew despair as the covering of my soul; this time around, my heart dropped and my faith was dismantled but it did not fade away. I’ve learned that it’s still possible to be suffering and to push the world through the eye of a needle just to try to prove that I don’t need anyone, but I do. Imperfect I shall remain. Striving for a better way; I seek the best path for my family, for our future, for whatever comes next. I stand up and walk out of the past and claim my life back, like never before to connect with others more purposefully and earnestly.

I can’t believe it took 365 days to get to this moment; to let go & to hold on; I have been avoiding this moment; I told my counselor that if I just had my “coming to Jesus moment,” I would be more whole.  I have sat in many churches this past year; sitting, waiting, contemplating, complaining, and sometimes fuming; and this past Sunday, the tears flowed but I did not move forward to kneel at the alter to say a prayer; rather, in the middle of the closing benediction/prayer, I wiped away the tears and stepped out into the foyer, into the beautiful vestibule and kept my eyes down, as to not make eye contact with anyone; I went into the bathroom, checked my mascara and gave myself one heck of a pep talk, prayed and walked out, chin up, to see familiar faces that did not really know me anymore.
Did I have my “coming to Jesus moment?” I think Jesus came to me; I don’t speak religion, I don’t quote the Bible, I don’t try to pry in the lives of others, because I don’t have the right to judge others and no one has a right to judge me.Over the past year – I have been in wrestling with my story, with my inadequacies and failures; the skeletons in my closet are strong boned, they have choked me in a mental head-lock; I know how important it is to move forward, but the loss of my mom and my brothers took a toll on my heart, and I have been experiencing great sorrow while facing my fears of abandonment. This has meant being reflective and really looking within to figure out what’s going to be next.

I have to accept being loved.