The Fountain

Ten years of age and all I can fathom are toys. Boxes upon boxes upon boxes, and no toys can be found. The heat is almost too much for my little bathing suit clad body to take. Every new box holds incredible promise; navigating each sticky piece of tape without my stuffed animals, without My Pretty Pony crushes my juvenile spirit. Leaving the box-swallowed room, I enter my parched paradise.

Surveying my exotic surroundings, it begins to sink in that I am really in Nicaragua. With an increasingly familiar Latin taste, it feels more like my last home, Guatemala, than my first home, Pennsylvania. Here, my grandmother is not making fruit salad in the kitchen anymore; she is in an air-conditioned bedroom with Alzheimer’s disease, exploring the world of Spanish Wheel of Fortune re-runs. My father is making everyone happy in a clothing factory, because he is the sweet, perfect father.

Wiping sweat from my forehead, I smell food. This food it is not pleasing to my palate. The woman cooking it only knows how to cook with outside fires—not ovens. My mother gently reminds her that black beans do not have to be served with every meal. My sister, fourteen, is following me discreetly to ensure my safety in this new world.

While exploring my new abode, I discover a circular fountain at the core of a beautiful garden. The fountain is pleading with me to partake in its jubilant dance. The fountain, sadly, is empty, but I remedy its dry and hot stone interior with the promise of water from a nearby hose. The water filling the fountain becomes a whirling cure for the sultriness of the day. I check on the height of the newly created pool approximately every 20 seconds. The first time I check my knuckles are covered with cooling water. By the 15th time, it has reached my elbow and my excitement overflows.

The water that runs from the end of the green hose fills the placid stone pool. I play a game of pretend—the hose becomes a snake, its nozzle hissing and its green scales growing wet and slimy. Venom spitting, the snake is unstoppable to any common man! Secrets of the jungle are known only to me, and as I turn the nozzle, the fluid ceases.

One toe at a time, my foot sweeps the top of the water, and I sit on the edge bracing myself for the moment that is inevitable. Overwhelmed by anticipation, I fully submerge myself in the fountain. The water eases the sweltering heat, and carries with it an almost baptismal like peace.

That afternoon of fountain dipping in Nicaragua is one of my fondest and most cherished memories of childhood. For a number of reasons, life changed after that dance in the fountain. My father died without warning only three days later and we left one foreign country filled with family to relocate to the United States. Life changed completely. When I recall the sleek, slippery, formfitting water, I feel alive, comforted, and innocent.

August 2005

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Hope

As we rise here together, we hold our breath.
A new Father, a new hope;
The power to change the stagnant waters and raise a new love,
A pure love,
An honest love of others.
One world, one love, one nation under God.
A hope of teaching respect of all;
Acceptance despite religion, life choices, or nature.
A hope of banishing prosecution of others, because someone simply deemed it so,
And promoting love and kindness, because that is truly is in Your image.
I have such high hopes.
I pray that the truth will ring through the heavens
Unto our ears
And into our hearts.
Please, let this be what we’ve been waiting for.
Please let this be.
3.22.13

Bipolar Confession

“And with the strength of a thousand men,
Both before you and within,
You came clean.
You did everything but shout it from rooftops for years.
But, alas, that was never enough.
“This is me, in all my unforgiving ‘crazy’ glory.”
And now you are free
to love yourself.
And now you are free
to begin healing.”

The above was written to commend a former professor of art who recently announced that he has suffered from bipolar disorder for years. He let everyone know that he recently hit his “all-time low.” I’ve seen people suffer from this illness up-close and personal, and they have always been the kindest and most sincere souls, despite their aggressive day-to-day battles. I want to honor this man for the strength and courage it took, and will continue to take, on the long and winding road of recovery.

I can’t help but notice that all of the people I have met with this illness have all been great artists. I equate the often erratic behavior they experience to an emotional scale that surpasses what most people feel day to day. The hard and fast emotional roller coaster can take someone to their highest point, immediately followed by their lowest. But I’ve known many other people who never really get to experience either end of that spectrum, because it takes extreme emotional availability that is often unstable and frowned upon in society.

But look at the capacity for love these people have, so often juxtaposed with their prominent self-loathing and painful realizations that they are different from the “norm”. I believe this emotionality doesn’t always need to be their downfall. I believe that successful
recovery can bring people who suffer from this illness to the top once more, in a more even-timed dance with life, because they have seen hell and risen beyond it. Not above it, no, because those times still remain within them always. But with proper care and love, and at times with hospitals and medications, the people who used to suffer uncontrollably are able to love wholeheartedly and teach the world to do the same.
3.19.13

Where Family Begins

When two people understand that kindness begets kindness, a family begins. You choose whom you love and how you love them; you create your own family. We all have a family of choice that becomes our blood.

I have been gifted the blessing of welcoming a new sister-in-law into my life just a few weeks from today; my brother is getting married. We have led different lives and we have seen different things, but I believe from the bottom of my heart to the top that she is my family. We are already sisters by choice.
February 2013

Siblings

My entire family affectionately called my grandmother “Mom”. Though she suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease for many years before her passing, we had many loving moments together that I still think about today. She had several phrases her swiss-cheese style brain would repeat without prompting: “1, 2, 3, 4”, “It’s nice to be nice,” and “Only a stone should be left alone” to name a few.

But sometimes she was sharp as a whip and would say things that deeply struck a chord with me. For instance, she always told me to be nice to my sister when she witnessed my young, bratty tendencies. “She’s the closest thing to you in the world. You’re made of the same thing. You are the same.”

I was raised with my brother and sister; raised in the same home, shared the same love. To this day, I believe we care about the same things at the core of it all, no matter the discrepancies. We are the same at the center of it all, the same at the center of ourselves.
February 2013

What are you afraid of?

actingSpeaking loudly, not speaking at all,
Repetitive sounds, or listening too hard.
Someone in a waiting room, someone in a class—
What makes an outsider?
The answer is you.

Everyone on this earth is so different.
We have all been taught different “norms”.
We all have different behaviors and reactions.
What holds you back from reaching out to someone? What makes you afraid?

What makes you think that you are so special, so precious, so “normal”?
It’s not you alone that has made you as wonderful as you are,
It was all of the help you received along the way.
It’s the everyday kindness you were gifted since birth.
Who gave you that gift? Who took it away?

Everyone has this strange tendency—protect your own but shun the other.
What makes the distinction in your heart? Fear of the unknown.
What will you say? How will I respond? What do I do if—

Just say hello. Just answer the question. Just smile instead of averting your eyes.
Simply encourage and foster kindness whenever you can.
You lose so much more when you keep it to yourself.
Take a second and consider a stranger as your own flesh and blood.
It’s appreciated.

February 10, 2013

Listen —

lots-o-peopleFostering a relationship is your choice but respect is mandatory.

Every relationship must be respected. With a friend or loved one, the task seems fairly simple. With strangers and enemies, it feels almost impossible to listen and understand thoughts and emotions so far from our own, and yet it’s pertinent to leading a life worth living.

Negativity spawns negativity and once it is started, it’s almost impossible to stop it. Always take the high road. By fostering kindness, you in turn foster growth.

Choose respect.

1-4-13

Similarities

fruit1You make me remember who I am.

Two completely different women in two completely different places,

Both physically and emotionally,

And yet there’s no judgment, no anxiety.

It’s the mutual understanding of pure kindness.

I’m fascinated by what fascinates you;

What doesn’t come easily to others, comes easily to you.

If I met you ten years ago or ten years from now, it would be the same.

We’re just cut from the same cloth.

1.26.13

The change

lots-o-peopleWe have to be involved in our life and foster kindness in our communities in order to increase the quality of our lives and the lives of those around us. We need to do what’s best for us, beyond the cause. Get involved in the effect. Take part in your own evolution.

December 26, 2012

To respond to your status.

actingIf you remember to try to smile, your brain will follow suit.

It’s science, I think.

The holidays are always hard, but it’s good to let people know how you feel. It makes it easier to feel better when you can say it, acknowledge it, and try to again focus on the bright side of things; focus on the positivity and the love.

I think about it a lot, and it changes you. But it can also be something beautiful when you let it be. When you go through hardships, you gain empathy. You gain the ability to see the world through everyone’s eyes.

It’s always knowing it could be worse… and appreciating what you have. Always. No matter what it is.

Two years ago my roommate in school lost one of her best friends in a car accident. It was so terrible, she was so sad to her bones. I talked to her every day that I could, trying my best to help her heal and make her realize that life is still good. All the things we both know now, through and through.

3 weeks after that accident, I lost my cousin is an accident on Halloween. He had just turned 24.

I had to then listen to myself replay every single thing I had said to my friend day in and day out and I still do the same today

Life is bizarre, but if I hadn’t helped my dear friend I don’t know how I ever would have found the strength to help myself.

You’re so strong. I hope you know that. No one can ever really imagine how it could be until it is.

I always say that if I was a superhero, I’d be “Worst Case Scenario Girl” because that’s my super power– to automatically see what the worst case scenario is and go up from there. Since losing my father at 10, I always said that if something else happened I’d completely lose my mind… but somehow, when you need to find the strength it just comes.

And that’s why life is so beautiful

December 2012

The above is a summary of a conversation I shared with someone I went to high school with who had recently lost her father. It is an excellent example of how the Internet is a magical thing when you let it to be.  It allows us to stay in touch; stop stalking and start talking. Get in touch. The importance of kind communication is bigger than you and me.