What the world does to you as a woman is something to ponder. As a young girl, I was soft and sweet. It was what society expected of me, but it was also my sensitive personality. As time went by, I had to fight, even though I didn’t always want to. It became necessary to survival. When I was sexually abused as a child, a part of my soul was silenced. When I went to college and learned to drive at the same time, after already working for many years, I had to stand on my own. When I left my cult religion, I had to leave everything I had ever known behind. When I became a mother, I had to face the world that considered me and my beautiful gift illegitimate. When I worked to raise my daughter, and balance the world on my shoulders, I also had to teach her how to survive this life as a woman. When I finally escaped every controlling and abusive situation, and there were many, I had to rebel against the system at hand. When I became an advocate, I had to use my own voice, even though people didn’t understand it – so I often spoke alone, though knowing there were others out there who were hearing me and knew they weren’t alone. When I have had to fight because society doesn’t understand how to deal with traumatized, depressed, grieving survivors, I had to know I was enough even though I was told that I was broken. And now as a scarred, tested, wise woman, still not even old, I am this. I will not let anyone beat me into submission, fuck with my mind, tell me what I can’t do, strip me of my dignity, steal my rights, or hush me with their ignorance. I am a woman who has been through the alleys and the valleys, and I may be tired and heartbroken, but I will not be owned. I will not be owned by you for any reason, especially not your desire to kill my spirit as a woman and mother, disabled person, or survivor of poverty and violence. I will not be owned.
Disability Viewpoints is a great platform for the disability community and last night we had an amazing show about Partnership Resources (PRI) and the ReelAbilities Disability Film Festival. I hope a lot of you can attend June 11-14. It’s a celebration of disability and our shared human experience through film, put on with a huge collaborative effort involving many groups and advocates. Art can change the world and touch our hearts in a powerful way like nothing else can. It’s going to be magnificent!
Imani’s guests said she made them feel comfortable and she was a good listener, so it helped to ad lib in spots to make it more natural. The show’s director, Jo, said that was one of her best episodes. She has been participating for several years now, and like all things, you get a little better every time you try. Everyone seemed to have a great time!
Being In Bloom
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Compassion
Chapter 2: Courage
Chapter 3: Contemplation
Chapter 4: Grace
Chapter 5: Love
Chapter 6: Legacy
Chapter 1: Compassion
Empathy is not only right and good, but strategic for our own preservation.
Thank you to all the good people in the world. You’re the only reason that many of us feel safe to open up. And that is a gift.
A lack of compassion is the root of all evil.
If someone can see the person in you that they love no matter what is happening in terms of circumstances or the external, that is truly powerful, wise, and authentic.
It takes courage for your friends to stand by you at times. I understand when they can’t. It’s beautiful when they can.
I love people who care, have heart, and stand up for principles, no matter the risk or consequence. You are the ones who change the world. Thank you!
Women sometimes like the idea of powerful women when it is they who are on top, but are not necessarily ready for the idea of other women succeeding and being powerful in their own unique way. Let’s celebrate many brands of what it means to be powerful. If we are sincere women leaders, we can.
If you’re exposed to enough people, you don’t see anyone as different.
I know what a sincere heart looks like.
We can remember and acknowledge people that we appreciate for who they are and what they do, and for putting their heart into making the world a better place.
I’m not less because of how I think, feel or express myself, or because of what I have been through. I’m a survivor and I’m proud of it.
The world has changed, thanks to loving, courageous people who created safe spaces to share, express, and be, as ourselves.
A friend is someone you don’t have to hide yourself from, but who makes it safe and good to emerge as you are into a loving space.
As I was driving through the night, I stopped at one of many gas stations. I explained that I was going to try to make it back and hoped I would be able to stay awake long enough to do so. A man working at a gas station said that might not be a good idea and he didn’t want to see me get into a wreck, so he offered me a safe place to park my car and take a nap, wake up call, and a cup of coffee. After camping out for an hour and a half, I felt ready to get back on the road, and I wanted to avoid rush-hour traffic because I knew that would make me even more anxious than nighttime driving. This man is one of those ordinary heroes that nobody knows about and probably would never consider himself one.
Chapter 2: Courage
Ode to my parents: We took a vote in the family. Instead of building a house in the desert, we were moving to Minnesota. It would be bittersweet leaving Arizona. My earliest memories emerged there. The world that I first saw. What I first opened my eyes to. My mother gave birth to me in Minneapolis, but my parents decided to move to Phoenix when I was a baby because they had so enjoyed their honeymoon there. What a romantic beginning for a family. A young couple in love with their new baby girl. It was magical. My mom and dad doted on me. I was very loved and felt special. They delighted in the things that I did, and treated me like they had not only wanted me, but were even happier now that I was there. They cuddled with me, read books to me, sang with me, and took me everywhere. They were so proud.
“Bridgie, show grandma how you can say the alphabet!”
“Bridgie, walk silly!”
“Bridgie, tell us again about the dream you had!”
They were very sweet. Every child should enter the world to such a grand welcome. I’m not sure where they learned how to be so amazing, but they made life so good that I would go back and relive it.
Thank you, Mom and Dad! I love you!
I’m so tired of women feeling like they have to be skinny and pretty. How about powerful? Smart? Accomplished? Bad-ass? It is so sexist that we are expected to look a certain way and be the ones to give up everything. So glad we have some role models that aren’t fake beauty babes in the mags!
A girl who isn’t afraid of science, being smart, and expressing her opinion on something controversial – that’s what’s hip!
Sending love to all the sad people who need it most. The mean and angry ones also because deep down, they are hurting. Much of our negativity is rooted in pain and comforted by love and compassion.
I was once a young single mom with a sick baby, living in subsidized housing, walking to work, and getting a holiday meal from the food shelf. Now, I’m working to help people like me. That’s the beauty of America. Help your neighbor, pay it forward, be American.
Chapter 3: Contemplation
Being poor is not immoral, but shaming the poor is! A society that kicks people when they’re down, instead of trying to understand how to solve systemic problems that contribute poverty in the first place, needs to engage in some deep, long overdue self-examination.
My daughter received a letter in the mail from her good friend who moved away. This morning, she had a letter of her own to send in return. When we got outside to the car, which takes a while with a walker and partial paralysis, I asked if she wanted to put it in the mailbox, or if she would like me to. At this point, she was holding onto the door handle with her walker off to the side, getting ready to get in the car. She smiled at me, gestured to leave the walker behind, stood tall, and said, “Just hold onto my arm, mom.” So I gave her my arm and she proudly started off, each step increasingly confident. We were surprised by her agility. Sometimes she needs a lot of support, and each step can be an achievement. But this morning, why, she delivered that letter herself, putting the flag up, and going back to the car. What could have been a very ordinary exercise was instead a delightful one. What could have been a moment to wish things were easier became a proud one. That set the tone for our day – a little trip to the mailbox. I hope you have a nice moment to set the course of your day, too. Or redirect it.
Chapter 4: Love
Love is all around us.
My Grandma doesn’t know me anymore, but we shared such intimate moments today. We sang together – “Jesus Loves Me” – just like when I was a girl. After a couple verses, I got too choked up to continue, so I just watched her beautiful face carry on. She sang for the next hour, wherever she went, her eyes so bright, her smile so joyful. It was breathtaking. And when I left her to her dinner, after she settled in for a few minutes, I kissed her and said I love her. She sweetly, almost still singing, and without hesitation, said “I love you” back to me. And as I walked away, she called, “I love you!” Our seniors are such treasures. We need to spend more time with them before they leave us. Their time is short, and precious.
I still get to snuggle with my daughter like I did when she was brand new. I told her at bedtime that I love her always and that she is forever my baby. I cherished the moment, knowing she will one day grow up…but, not today, not just yet. I know I will run out of time to have such moments, but they will be gifts in my heart, and there will be more, different moments waiting ahead. I hope she’s having sweet dreams, knowing how special she is to me. I will sleep happy, knowing she’s happy.
There is nothing quite like a sunset at my parents’ home in the country, and a dinner with the family. Cozy and warm inside a house filled with the aromas of spices released from cooking, the chatter of our clan, the babbling and crying of babies, and the ambiance of good energy and happiness.
Chapter 5: Grace
Tonight, after work, I waited for a long time at the store behind a woman who was buying a lot of toys. I figured she was gift shopping, so I amused myself with looking at tabloid magazine covers and items I wasn’t the least bit interested in. When she had finished her purchase, she proceeded to put every single toy into the toy drive box on the counter, leaving only a gallon of milk on the counter to take with her. It was none of my business, but I was so delighted by her generosity that I blurted, “Wow, you’re donating all of that to the toy drive? You’re a sweetheart!” She responded with a modest answer about how it was no big deal and that she had saved money on her total bill, and then left with her gallon of milk. Right under our noses, people do so much good – like it’s completely ordinary.
Freshly-fallen, very fluffy snow. I love how it hangs on the branches of the trees.
We need to do a better job of loving each other in this world. Less hate, more love. That is all.
Take care of each other.
Our hearts are wells of both sadness and joy, which would not exist without each other.
When I was a teen single mom with a medically-fragile baby, I told myself that I would use my experiences to help others, and that kept my spirits up. This year, I went further into politics to make a bigger difference, fully mindful of where I’ve come from. I am doing what I promised myself I would do. It’s happening right now.
My daughter told me this morning that she likes her limp because it’s like a dance that tells part of her story.
Chapter 6: Legacy
I am being tested in every which way right now. Yet, I feel like a graceful tree dancing with the hurricane winds. Seems that every adversity until now has taught me well. I can remain whole, I can breathe, and I can smile. I am not afraid, weak, or retreating. I am only dancing.
Hold your head high.
You are original art.
I was at a park in Minneapolis today when a preschool class swarmed the playground. I noticed a darling little girl at the bottom of a slide. While thinking to myself how cute she was and wondering her age, I noticed that she had a physical disability affecting her legs. She was totally inconspicuous because nobody treated her like she was ‘disabled.’ When the class was rounded up, she fell in line – just like everyone else. These preschool teachers ‘get it’ and may not fully realize the level of inclusion they are practicing. Fabulous moment.
When one dream dies, breathe life into a new one.
My life is rich because of the people I’ve met and the people I’m lucky to know.
And when all is said and done, the trail we leave behind us shines brightest where we sprinkled kindness.