Remembering Crispin Webb

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Tonight, I came across a flash-drive and found so many images and memories of a friend of mine, Crispin Webb; he died on Thanksgiving day, on November 23, 2006.

A few years ago, my son was born the week before Thanksgiving, so I am reminded each year of how life miraculously comes into the world, and how quickly, a loved-one can be gone from our lives. This year, I had my son’s birthday party on November 23rd; even though I didn’t write about Crispin a few weeks ago, his  memories are kept on a bookshelf in my mind,  they wait for my heart to open them…..

It’s been 7 years since he left this world to meet Jesus. I am thankful for Crispin and everything he taught me. I have keepsakes and artwork that he gave me and I cherish them, but I also cherish the way he lived his life and how he expressed his faith and beliefs; he had a radiant soul and gentle spirit.

Crispin would have turned 36 on December 12, 2013; I am posting this to remember, celebrate and honor his life and legacy. Over the past ten years, a group of artalum  (art alumni) have been hosting a silent-art auction to raise money for art scholarships; Crispin was very integral in launching artalum in 2003.  A few years ago, we named the fund, the Crispin Webb Art Endowed Scholarship.

I would like to challenge folks to remember him this year by donating $10  (or more) on December 12, 2013. A little can go a long way…and all of the proceeds will help provide scholarships for MVNU art and/or design students. The Crispin Webb Art Award is awarded to students with Senior Art Projects for the academic year, have a 2.5+ cumulative GPA, have art declared as their first major, and remain an art major for the entire academic year. Students must apply through the art department.

To learn more about Crispin or make a donation please visit MVNU’s website and make a donation online; make sure you click the drop down box “My gift is designated to” – click the drop down box and choose Endowment AND then below that is a text box “Gift to be used for” . Here you must type in Crispin Webb Art Scholarship. This will ensure you gift will go specifically towards Crispin’s fund. Thank you for keeping his legacy alive and for helping current and future art students at MVNU.

You can also google Crispin’s name! There is a beautiful tribute on wordpress and Crispin had a blog on blogspot that is still up. I hope you explore his legacy and leave comments about how he touched your life on his tribute page.

P.S. I still remember when Crispin told me that he wanted a book of his artwork to be in every library; if anyone would like to collaborate with me to work on this endeavor, let me know. I want to make this happen next year!

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Twinkle Twinkle

As a new mom, three years ago, I didn’t have a pre-existing catalogue of songs stored in the library of my mind. I don’t remember my biological mother being very nurturing or singing to me when I was a child; we never had a close relationship. Sometimes she would even say she wished I was never born…..

Since I held my son in my arms for the first time, I have been singing “twinkle twinkle little star.” It seemed basic. I remembered the words. I added a few lines of my own. It works for us. He was a calm baby and always a good sleeper. After he was born, the nurses in the hospital said he was the calmest baby of them all. Someone  recently told me that meant that I was calm during my pregnancy. Wow. I would have thought the opposite.  I was blessed to be a part of a faith community (Not Another Church) during my pregnancy- their love actually calmed my heart and grounded my faith. I give God the credit and the glory.

My friendships within my community were the balm that soothed worries and fears, created laughter,  and held my hand through the newness of becoming a mom. I remember how they brought me a chicken ranch sub from subway after I gave birth; they were in the room when I read my son his first book; they picked me up on thanksgiving day to share a meal with them. They took me to the emergency room when my son had jaundice; all in all, beyond their actions, they loved me and allowed me to be me. They helped me to grow in my faith and I learned to listen to my creator’s voice. I am so thankful that they were there for me when I was far away from home; they were very much my family and God’s hands and feet, when I needed someone to hold my hand and walk beside me. Beyond their acts of compassion; they embraced me; their friendships helped me as a mother and christian trying to find my way.

Today, my faith has not been diminished, but I am lacking a faith community. Which I have repeatedly promised myself that I would plant my feet somewhere. But my heart has been distant and I have been anxious, however, I have a longing in my heart to be more authentic in a shared community,  but it hasn’t happened yet–due to a lack of effort. Just honestly speaking.

And then, I check on my son at 2 am and normally he doesn’t wake or make a peep. But he says something so precious, “mommy, twinkle, twinkle.” He was asking me to sing….this time as I sang, my eyes filled with tears, just as they are falling once more as I pen these words…  no matter how many songs I don’t know or never learned, my son understands the most important one, “twinkle, twinkle little star, Carter Jacob,  your momma loves you, yes I do, I love you. ….”

This time, my son calmed my heart and he reminded me to find a faith community…

Gratitude defined…

I’ve been learning a lot this past year; my personal lessons of self-knowledge involves pushing through circumstances and not being pushed by them. It’s been a tremendous year of challenges and blessings, for which, I can say that I am thankful and my heart overflows with gratitude.

This month, everyone has been writing daily posts of gratitude, which I have enjoyed reading, but this is my short-list, which I think, covers most everything…for the moment.

I’m thankful for….

  1. My son, the gift of motherhood and life after 8 p.m.
  2. My car, home and job
  3. Wisdom and the opportunity to grow
  4. The nursing home that is caring for my mom and their compassion towards my mother (and me)
  5. Technology that keeps me connected to all the people I care about and allows me to express myself creatively
  6. Restorative time (prayer, meditation, etc.)
  7. Connections:
    1. My faith
    2. My family (Biological, Foster, and  Adoptive)
    3. Kinship & friends who act like more like family than friends
    4. Best-friends, folks who love me, even when I’m not lovely
    5. Colleagues, co-workers who go the extra mile
    6. Mentors, who support me and ask the tough questions
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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. . .