Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Save It for Later: Voices of Healing

In my highly neglected series, Save It for Later, I summarized things I found and bookmarked throughout the week from around the Web, reading them later, and then sharing them with you.  Although it is not technically the end of the week, I resurrect the series on the day when we expect to be visited by ghosts, Halloween

Consider this installment of Save It for Later a transition of a series from ghost to reality, and enjoy.

Your Roots Fridays

Last week, I was thrilled to be featured at Erin Margolin’s space for her series Your Roots Fridays, where writers explore their beginnings.  I struggled with this post because, as I am sure some of you experience, it’s difficult to articulate where words come from and where the need to write originates.  Please check out my submission, Me Too, and then explore the rest of the great stories submitted by others in the Show Us Your Roots series.  

As I explored Erin Margolin’s space, I realized she is an active voice and co-founder of the Gay Dad Project.  This is a project that you must take note of and share with friends.  Not only does Erin share her story about the day her dad revealed to the family that he was gay, but you will also find the story told from the perspectives of her mom and her dad.  What struck me most about these stories is the power in more than one person in the family sharing their experiences. 

In my own experience of healing from my hurts that occurred within my family of origin, I have had to separate from family members completely.  Seeing that Erin’s mom and dad were willing to share their stories is profound, brave, and a giant step in the right direction to healing their family’s hurts.  Also, through their words, other families will find strength and courage to live in honesty and love. 

One of Erin’s partners in the Gay Dad Project will appear on the Ricki Lake Show this Friday. 

Spiritual Journey of Healing

Spiritual Journey of a Lightworker
Patricia Singleton is another very powerful voice of healing.  I visit her space, Spiritual Journey of a Lightworker, regularly for inspiration and have written about her before here.  As an incest survivor who is thriving, last week Patricia celebrated the courageous voice of Aaron Fisher, Jerry Sandusky’s Victim #1.  Be sure to read JerrySandusky's Victim #1 Is Hero #1 For All Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse.

Sperk* at One Year

BlogHer '12 VOTY eBookLast week I celebrated one year at Sperk*.  When I started writing here, I had no idea what I was doing.  Presently, I still have that feeling.  Reflecting upon the past year caused me to question if what I am doing here is of any value.  After a bit of self-loathing, I came to the conclusion that Sperk* does have value. (Not only that, because of being a BlogHer '12 Voice of the Year Honoree, I am now published!)  Within these posts, I've grown, become stronger, and know that if I stay the course I will get to a place where I can not only survive, but also thrive.  I appreciate you being my witness on this journey.

Wordless Wednesday: Halloween Archive

From the Archives:  Halloween 2004
Sophia age 6, Antonia age 4, and Me.

Wednesday's Woman: In a Sentence

Today’s guest blogger, Tara Pohlkotte, has a gift for writing.  She is somewhat new at embracing her talent and sharing it with the world.  She recently wrote:

“So, slowly but surely, I began to bleed onto a dusted off blog page I’d started but neglected, and wept and laughed as I read words of more and more people out there doing the same thing.  Through these blank spaces that we sent our words, I felt shoulders next to mine, and I realized that we are all connected, just as I had been in my daddy’s church.  All of us different but united through text, through telling the stories of humanity.” Rooted in Writing, Committed to Life via Erin L. Margolin

Her bio is as follows:

Tara Pohlkotte lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two children.  She writes about life, motherhood, and memories at Pohlkotte Press. To get a feel for Tara’s work, you should start here: And For Tonight; Pocket of Sorrow, Six Feet Deep, or Birthing Warrioress. She is a contributing author to two upcoming titles, as well as poetry publications.  To keep connected with Tara you can follow her Facebook page for the latest updates. You may also find her Tweeting on occasion!

I am so thrilled Tara is here today, sharing the story of her Wednesday’s Woman, giving more insight into where her striking voice originates.

Wednesday's Woman: Madeleine L'Engle
by Tara Pohlkotte

“It was a dark and stormy night...”

With one common phrase, I was pulled into A Wrinkle in Time with Meg, Charles Wallace and all the others.  Madeleine L’Engle opened my 3rd grade eyes to the possibilities of more.  Of realities that were not my own.  She brought me deeper into my dreams; allowed for my imagination to soar under her gentle leading.  She painted the stars for me, drew me into the cosmos held on the back of my hand. 

20 years later, as I formed within myself the first inklings of “I want to write. Now what?” followed closely by, “Who the hell do I think I am?”  I felt at odds with myself, my former realist self was trying desperately to keep tabs on my creative spirit.  I was a wife after all, a mother, with a 40-hour-a-week job.  What could I offer an already saturated world with my words?

It was in this place of self-assessment, self-doubt as well as self-discovery that I curled up with A Circle of Quiet, written by Madeleine later in her life, the first of a four book series of autobiographies.  In this book Madeleine discussed the balance of being all the things that I am also signed on to: wife, mother, worker, writer.  I found her words a pool to sink my unsure bones into and I eagerly waded into her years of knowledge.  She became my writing grandmother, sharing her life and wisdom as I took in every parcel of what she imparted upon the page.  She took my hand lovingly in her lap and held tight until I felt my own expectations loosen in her grip into the comfortable hold of understanding. 

A Circle of Quiet
..And I think too, and possibly most important, that there is a faith simply in the validity of art; when we talk about ourselves as being part of the company of such people as Mozart or van Gogh or Dostoevsky, it has nothing to do with comparisons, or pitting talent against talent; it has everything to do with a way of looking at the universe. My husband said, “But people might think you’re putting yourself alongside Dostoevsky.” The idea is so impossible that I can only laugh in incredulity.  Dostoevsky is a giant; I look up to him; I sit at his feet; perhaps I will be able to learn something from him.  But we do face the same direction, no matter how giant his stride, how small mine.” - - Madeleine L’Engle ~ A Circle of Quiet

There in a sentence, understanding poured over me, and I picked up my pen.  I would not try to match the wonderful writers that I have grown under the shade of, or match the stories of my youth that became as much a part of my childhood as the neighborhood girls that I shared everything with.  I would not be concerned with burning with a blaze as bright as my wonderful contemporaries.  I would only force myself to show up, set my shoulders back and face my feet in the same direction as these other writers; knowing that in doing so I am adding my voice, no matter how small, to a larger story being told. 

I will always be grateful to Madeleine L’Engle for expanding the world for me. And now, I smile, as I tuck deep inside my daughter's twin sized bed with her beside me, knowing that the power of Madeleine's words do not belong just to me.  I feel my daughter's chest rise and fall, her breath heavy with anticipation as the opening line starts again, "It was a dark and stormy night..."

Wednesday's Woman is a weekly feature dedicated to spotlighting women who are role models for our daughters. . . and the world.

photo credit: Taylor Dawn Fortune via photopin cc

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday's Woman: A Glimmer of Hope

Today's guest blogger gave me the following bio to share here today:

Cindy Reed is a wife, mom, educator, blogger, and part-time grownup who blogs at The Reedster Speaks. She writes about everything from the irreverent to the serious, and also serves as a Contributing Editor for the Yeah Write weekly blogging challenge. She lives with her long-suffering husband Matt, their girls,adopted from China and Ethiopia, and two ill-trained dogs in Asheville, North Carolina.

I have to add, Cindy makes me smile.  Not that, "aww, isn't she sweet" kind of smile, but the kind that is sincere, authentic, and real.  She's a true talent and an inspiring voice.  I am grateful to welcome her here today for Wednesday's Woman.

Wednesday’s Woman: Kristen Meier Greene
by Cindy Reed

A Glimmer of Hope

Have you ever looked at all the myriad problems in the world and felt like throwing up your hands? Sometimes, it just seems like too much. When I’m feeling that way, I like to remind myself of one of my favorite quotes, from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

My friend Kristen Greene, a young mom who, with her husband Jeff, adopted siblings from Ethiopia in the same travel group as me back in 2008, is the embodiment of Mead’s sentiment – one so-called “ordinary” woman from Beaverton, Oregon, who is changing the world by giving back to her children’s birth country, one project at a time.

“The trip to Ethiopia forever changed us, and we felt compelled to give back to the region where our beautiful children are from,” says Kristen. She was appalled and saddened by the conditions they found in the villages near where their children were born.

“So many in Ethiopia go without basic needs like clean water sources, schools, and health care facilities.” In fact, over 250,000 people in Ethiopia die each year due to water borne illnesses, most of them young children. She started to think: What would it be like to go into labor and be a 3-4 hour walk from the nearest hospital? What would it be like to not have access to clean water – to drink from the same muddy water holes where animals bathed and urinated?

“As a woman and a mother, I have been extremely burdened by the difficulties the women of Ethiopia face on a daily basis,” Kristen continues. “Our two children, Tigist and Mihiretu, were directly impacted by the lack of medical care in rural southern Ethiopia. For most of the people in the region, medical care is non-existent.”

Kristen graduated from George Fox University and majored in psychology. While staying home to care for her children, she also works full time working on the family’s Ethiopia fundraising campaigns, in partnership with A Glimmer of Hope, a charitable organization based in Austin, Texas, that focuses on Ethiopia and has a grant to cover 100% of its administrative costs so that every donated dollar goes directly to the charitable campaigns. Glimmer’s goal is to choose a community and go deep – to find its needs and to provide the infrastructure and training for the people who live there to maintain the projects.

So far, Kristen’s family’s efforts have raised $500,000 for two villages in Ethiopia. In the first community the Greenes worked with, Dali, there are now 16 furnished classrooms, 12 latrines, a three-room health clinic, and seven clean water points. “We’ve used every resource we can think of to raise money,” says Kristen. “We have been amazed at the outpouring of support – not only people who want to give, but people who want to join our team and fundraise on their own.” Under Kristen’s enthusiastic direction, friends, family, church members, and community organizations have sold jewelry and donated the proceeds, run sponsored races, sold baked goods, donated birthday gift proceeds, and made monetary gifts large and small. 

The Greenes’ projects are the second largest in the nation for A Glimmer of Hope. Kristen raised over $175,000 for a maternity clinic for the women of Tercha, and her current campaign is equally ambitious - $100,000 for a pediatric clinic for the village’s children. Knowing Kristen, I have no doubt the children of Tercha will soon have the quality medical care they deserve.

Never underestimate the power of one person – of one mother – to change the world. Kristen is a powerhouse of energy and inspiration, working tirelessly both for her family and for her children’s homeland. She’s more than just Wednesday’s Woman – she is a woman for every day of the week, every hour of the day.

You can join her. Donate here to help provide health care for the children of Tercha, Ethiopia:

 Wednesday's Woman is a weekly feature dedicated to spotlighting women who are role models for our daughters. . . and the world.

photo credit: soddochristianhospital via photopin cc

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

If I Say It, It's True

I haven’t opened my laptop since Friday.  Night.  My legs started aching and I started sweating.  Thought I was going to vomit.  But didn't.  I had a fever. Hot like a light bulb to the touch, but I was freezing.  How does something like that just wash over you?  Like out of nowhere? 

It’s lingering.  Going on five days.  No fever today.  But I’m tired, weepy, and have a hell of a cough.  I feel like I’m writing from the front line of Armageddon, the day the flu takes over the last survivors.

Such drama.

Drama is exhausting.

My finest parenting moments have occurred during this bout. 

My thirteen year old came home from her dad’s and said, “Mom, I watched the movie Juno and loved it!”

I said, “Don’t get pregnant.”

Unfortunate that I failed to seize the moment, taking the opportunity to discuss teen pregnancy within the context of something that interests her.

This evening I drove my 12 year old around for an hour searching for this mysterious place wherein her softball instruction was to take place.  I had the directions.  They weren't accurate.  I called.  I was so close, but too late. 

Now she can’t sleep.  It’s possible that our viewing of John Carpenter's Halloween right before bedtime wasn't the best parenting choice.

It’s great to be here and I’m great.

I’m just going to keep saying that until it’s true.

Damn you, flu.

photo credit: atomicjeep via photopin cc

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tomorrow's Wednesday Woman

Even before I began blogging I was reading the blog These Little Waves.  I was stunned by the candid beauty, the visceral awakening of thoughts and moments I often struggled to pair with words.  The writing at These Little Waves continues to inspire me to do it better, but with reminders to be kind to myself, to notice what the world is telling me.

Today, for Wednesday’s Woman, I am honored to welcome the author and creator of These Little WavesGalit Breen.  She reminds us that the world will view our daughters based upon perceptions—the perceptions we help to mold as we parent our children.  She reminds us that tomorrow's Wednesday's Woman is in our presence every day.

Tomorrow's Wednesday's Woman

“What did he say?” I ask over muffled laughter and loud whispers.

We sit shoulder to shoulder in a row, mothers in varying shades of yoga pants and jeans, sneakers and high heeled boots, edging this large room, facing our children. 

I’m at Brody’s gymnastics class, watching him across padded mats in the brightest shades of blue and tall bars that glint beneath florescent lights. 

These scare him because they’re so high, too high. But right next to them is the ever enticing trampoline, a perfect space to soar, and to hold someone’s hand if the landing seems too far.

I zoom in on my guy.

He stands by his coach, their fingers threaded. Brody’s shock of blond hair is mirrored on the coach’s other side by a little girl with equally bright curls pulled back with tiny pink plastic berets.

“What did he say?” I ask again, my voice unsure. 

“He said he doesn’t want to race a girl.” The mother by my side answers, smiling, not unkindly.


I peek at him through the rearview mirror. The sun reflects his hair, his eyes, the silver buckle. 

Someone once told me that boys connect better in motion - immersed in an activity, running, walking, - so I wait until we’re on the road to speak.

Oh, a Mothering Talk. The beautiful, bothersome ribbon I’m starting to curl around our relationship.

“Brods, why didn’t you want to race against that girl?”

I meet his eyes. They’re hazel and wide and rimmed in the longest lashes I’ve ever kissed.

“Because I wanted to win.” His little voice carries between us.

Of course that’s why. A boy with two older sisters whose legs are faster and arms are stronger and years are longer, would think he’d lose playing against a girl.

My assumptions about how girls are viewed, are all on me.

Not on him.

Because the beauty of youth is that they’ve yet to carry our baggage.

A week later, we’re back beneath those bright lights.

He threads his fingers with mine. They’re small and warm and fit just right. I squeeze him once to say, I love you, twice to say, You can do it, and three times to say, Always hold my hand.

We face the girl with the blond ringlets, her berets are blue today. She sits on her mother’s lap, their matching hair blends against their shoulders.

Brody is hidden, wrapped around my leg. I feel his weight against me. 

“Hi honey.” I smooth his road. “Brody wants to talk to you.” I nudge him forward.

“I’m sorry,” He starts. “That I said I didn’t want to race you.”

When Sperk invited me to write for Wednesday’s Woman, my HeartMind whisked faces of women I admire. I’m lucky to say there are many.

My grandmother, a Holocaust survivor. My aunt, a breast cancer victim. My mother, an Israeli emigre who changed careers and language and culture and community with grace.

But that’s not who I ended up writing about. 

My Wednesday Woman is my daughter and yours, the girl in your classroom or your soccer team. The one that wins races and doesn’t see the wow in that - because it’s just who she is.

Our job is to raise these girls to keep seeing themselves the way Brody does.




And to raise our boys to keep Seeing them in the exact same way.

 Wednesday's Woman is a weekly feature dedicated to spotlighting women who are role models for our daughters. . . and the world.

photo credit: [auro] via photopin cc

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Women, If Romney Wins, We Should Be Very, Very Afraid

According to yesterday’s USA Today, Mitt Romney is leading in the polls with women voters.  I am against using scare tactics in the media in order to gain votes.  You know, those messages from both presidential campaigns that in essence say, “If you vote for my opponent you should be very, very afraid because THIS will happen.” (Insert your own frightening scenario in place of the word “this”).  Those statements are usually misleading and are put out there in hopes that one doesn't actually research the issue, finding what could really happen.   It’s the hope that the voter makes a decision based on fear and not fact.

BUT. . .

Women, if Romney wins, we should be very, very afraid. 

I am not talking about the economy, which is the reason women are moving towards Romney’s side.  I do not think either side has a great plan.  Besides, it’s such a giant issue, the fix is too large in scope for the average American voter to understand.  The candidates know this.  Their campaigns focus on giving us the information that merely sounds good.

The reason women voters should be afraid of Romney is for fear of losing the right to take care of their own bodies.  Even if one thinks the economy, or employment outlook, would be better with Romney in office, if he wins, our daughters lose.  Better jobs for our daughters doesn't equate to better choices for their bodies.

I am not pro-abortion, but I am pro-choice.  The minute the abortion laws are modified, which Romney will do, options for our daughters’ health decrease.  No, I do not want my daughters to have abortions, but I want them to have the right to affordable reproductive health care, which in some cases, only Planned Parenthood can provide. 

Romney may sound better for the economy, but with him in office, the type of economic freedom required to take care of an unwanted pregnancy is only available if you have access to Romney’s personal bank account.   Unless your daughter is going to suddenly fall into a large inheritance, with Romney in office, she won’t be able to afford, or have the choice to take care of herself. Whatever your religious or political convictions are, you can't deny your daughter's right to be healthy.

photo credit: Gage Skidmore via photopin cc

Monday, October 15, 2012

Five Ways I Am The Same, Five Ways I Am Different

I love Monday Listicles (the blogging meme created by Stasha at The Good Life) because on a day like today—cloudy, rainy, and windy—I could easily crawl back into bed and blow off writing all together. However, Monday Listicles makes it easy to flow back into my weekly blogging routine.  It’s always fun and the community of writers is simply great.  

Today’s theme comes from Christine who has a thoughtful blog called Random Reflectionz.  Her theme, 10 Ways You Are Different Than or the Same as Your Younger Self, sent me in several different directions and possibly proved that simply writing a list isn't always easy.  Each point on my list carries with it a lengthy explanation.  Each would make a decent blog post in and of itself.  Today, you're getting the list sans the thought behind it.  For the rest, stay tuned.  If you can't wait and you desperately need some insight into Sperk*, check out this letter I wrote to my 18 year-old self.

Five Ways I Am the Same as My Younger Self
1.  I think I am fat, but I am not
2.  I would rather be doing anything else other than washing the dishes or doing the laundry.
3.  Music makes me happy.
4.  I wait until the last minute to do things I do not want to do but have to do.
5.  I have a dream.

Five Ways I Am Different Than My Younger Self
1.  Drinking is not a good time.
2.  Learning is fun.
3.  I now understand that everything is not about me.
4.  Doing nothing with the person I love always trumps doing something with the person I love.
5.  I know I’m OK even if everyone says I’m not.

Great topic, don't you think?  How are you different than or the same as your younger self?

The best way to spend Monday in the blogosphere!
photo credit: tonyhall via photopin cc

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Bully Wins When I Am Silent

I am not going to whine by saying, “People were mean to me in high school.”  High school was and is weird.  When one enters adolescence, one can no longer discern between right and left but are required to discern between right and wrong.  Coupled with the academic and social pressures, it is a wonder any high school student is “nice” to anyone.  I get it.  However, people were mean to me in high school.

Like most teens, I was lacking in the area of emotional intelligence.  Like most survivors of sexual abuse, I was lacking in self-esteem and skills to defend myself.  High school for me was years of rumors (most of which were not true), gum-throwing-into-my-hair incidents, shoving-my-body-into-locker moments, etc.  Yes, etcetera.  Yes, there was more, the most painful I’m not ready to share.

There were many afternoons I would come home from school and simply bury my face in my pillow and sob.  My mom would attempt to find out what was wrong.  Half of the things I told her about and half of the things I didn't.  Her best advice was to keep smiling and ignore it knowing that the attacks were due to my peer’s jealousy.

I went with this tactic and I survived.  But it didn't work.

Last Friday, my 13 year old daughter, a freshman in high school, and I were bickering during the ride home from school.  When we got into the house, she went to her room and began crying, face down in her pillow, sobbing.  I thought she was upset that we were arguing, so I at first tried to ignore it, the sound of her sadness paralyzing me.

Then, my own high school experience flooded over me.

I knew if I remained paralyzed it could potentially paralyze my daughter.

I went into her room and said, “Why are you crying?”

No answer.

“Is it because we are fighting?”

She answered, “No.”

I sat down on her bed and asked, “Did something happen at school?”

Something did happen at school.  It made me mad.  I yelled. She cried.  We calmed down and talked.  In essence, I told her to never allow anyone, even her best friends, to be mean to her.  We discussed strategies for solving the problem that would cause as little hurt as possible.  I held her face in my shoulder and she sobbed some more.

During the course of the weekend, by talking to the person who hurt her, she peacefully worked out her issue.  I would like to think that our talk helped and I am really grateful I was able to put my own experiences aside and offer her support.

I now see why a lot of parents are emotionally absent from parenting.  It’s painful—painful to watch one’s child hurt while at the same time re-experiencing one’s own hurts over and over again.  But the hurt is no excuse. 

The bully wins when I am silent.  I am done being bullied.

(This post is dedicated to Xiomara A. Maldonado who shocked me out of the self-pity that was keeping me from writing with this post:  You Hide It Well: My Secret Battle With Depression.)

photo credit: Miss Blackflag via photopin cc

Wednesday's Woman: Inspiring Joyful Lives

The Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms is two moms, Ellen and Erin, who are friends taking time out of their busy lives—with 7 children between them—to share their stories, give us advice and book reviews, and to ultimately remind us that even though this parenting business is very serious, it does not have to be humorless.  They are funny, intelligent, insightful and real.  They have been a steady resource of support, inspiration, and joy for me and are sure to be the same for you.

For today’s Wednesday’s Woman, Erin and Ellen have chosen to honor someone who is an inspiration in the true sense of the word.  Erin and Ellen describe her as someone ". . . you would want your daughter to grow up to be. . . ." and I agree.  She has been a victim and a survivor.  She now thrives.  She claims to be "Inspiring Joyful Lives" and she actually is.  Her name is Angela Shelton.

Wednesday's Woman: Angela Shelton

Angela Shelton (All Rights Reserved)
"I share ways for survivors of trauma to move on from fear, anger, rage, and resentment and find peace, healing and happiness.  I don’t believe in staying on the trauma and recovery train.  I fully support Moving On from trauma, but we all go at our own pace, so there are many steps in the process – living happily ever after is the most fun!" ~Angela Shelton 

We have “met” many amazing women online through our short time blogging, but one of them takes our collective breath away with the scope of her work and her indefatigable spirit: Angela Shelton. Strong, powerful, beautiful, charismatic and tireless, Angela is the woman you want your daughter to grow up to be, the chick you want to hang out with over coffee, and, quite frankly, the answer to the world’s energy crisis. A whirlwind of activity with boundless enthusiasm and limitless heart, Angela is the very definition of a role model.

The Adventures of
Tilda Pinkerton
Angela describes herself as an author, screenwriter, performer, public speaker, and filmmaker, but her list of attributes, jobs, and accomplishments goes on and on and on.  She even has authored a new book series for kids, The Adventures of Tilda Pinkerton, which we were happy to read and review. She is practically a superhero (We really wish we had been bitten by the same radioactive spider! She seems to have about 10 more hours in her day!), but she is also pretty darn funny and we like that here in The Sisterhood. We like women who get things done, but don’t take themselves too seriously, and Angela Shelton is just that kind of woman.

At the very heart of all her accomplishments, her tireless energy (seriously, the girl could power a small nation all by herself), and her passion is the thread that brings it all together: her work as an advocate for victims of abuse.  She has traveled the country, spoken to Congress, written books, guest-starred on television, authored screenplays, acted, modeled  and edited and produced her own movie, but in the end, it all comes back to this simple but important mission. We could go on and on (Angela’s enthusiasm and energy is infectious), but Angela has a great voice and spirit and we will let her speak for herself. We couldn't help asking her our burning questions and she couldn't help but answering them with sincerity and kindness. That’s probably why she makes such a great Wednesday’s Woman.

1. You are a multimedia whirlwind. What is the driving theme to your body of work?

My mission is to work on projects that inspire people to live happily ever after - no matter what they've been through. That includes healing from past traumas and moving on with our lives. 

That drive shows up in everything I do (hopefully) from my projects to inspire trauma survivors to heal to the books I'm writing to help teachers teach larger vocabulary and concepts. 

2. How does Tilda fit into your body of work?

By writing the Tilda series, I get to practice what I preach--- living happily ever after. I've had a dream to write books in a barn house for ages.  Now, the series has begun and the space for the house has been selected! I'm doing what I love to do, which is what I try to inspire others to do. 

Plus, Tilda is full of inspiring life lessons. The thing she is most insecure about happens to be what saves the planet and all her friends. There are many people out there sitting on a creative idea out of fear that it's not good enough when in fact it may just be their most beautiful contribution to the world. 

3. You are an advocate for children. How does Tilda promote your message?

A publisher told me that Tilda is like a modern Mary Poppins, and I think that fits beautifully. Pinkerton, like Poppins, arrives in all her fabulousness and teaches children to be as great as they possibly can be, despite any adversary - even if the opponents are their own fears, worries, and insecurities. She leaves the places she visits better off than when she arrived. 

Like the work I've done in the recovery community, it's not about me - it's about the person who hears the message. It's up to them to move from victim to survivor and then to thriver. I can only point out the pathways I took along the way. Tilda gives you a magical hat. It's up to you to wear it. 

I would love my children to have a teacher like Tilda - so I wrote her for them! 
We love the humility and humanity inherent in her answers. We love this honesty from a woman who has won a regional Emmy for her role as Safe Side Superchick which aims to keep kids healthy and safe. We love this outlook from the mind that created the Be Your Own Hero Workbooks which empowers people to move beyond their painful pasts into healthy, happy tomorrows.  We love this passion from the whirlwind behind Searching for Angela Shelton. This is what classy and powerful and determined looks like. This is what every Wednesday’s Woman should be. Ellen and I both have girls on the cusp of young adulthood, so we LOVE Sperk* for celebrating wonderful women for them to use as guideposts. Wednesday’s Woman is truly a special place to land on the web.

Wednesday's Woman is a weekly feature dedicated to spotlighting women who are role models for our daughters. . . and the world.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wednesday's Woman: The Door is Always Open

Brandon's House
As I type this, Sophia, my 13 year-old, sits working with her tutor on Algebra II.  Antonia, my 11 year-old, is finishing her homework so that we can make it to a 7:00 pm showing of Finding Nemo in 3D

Things have been a bit overwhelming lately. . . .

I was going to fill you in, however, I think you can imagine:  two daughters, one in middle school and one in her first year of high school. 

But just like Dory, I am going to just keep swimming.

Today’s Wednesday’s Woman is from a very special person, my significant other, M.  He chooses to honor someone who was there for him during his tumultuous teen years and continues to be a steady support to him as he approaches middle-age. 

I am quite envious that he had this person in his life during his adolescence and I often wonder if I am a similar presence of unconditional and non-judgmental love for my own girls.  I do know that when he talks about her it is a great reminder to be patient, kind and loving even to those crazy teens that I like to call my daughters.

Wednesday's Woman: Susan Parr
by M.

Susan Parr
Susan Parr is my choice for Sperk’s* Wednesday’sWoman. Susan is the mother of three extraordinary people and although I am not her son, I like to count myself as her fourth. She is married to an awesome man and father Rolf, is active member at her church and holds a master’s degree in counseling.  Susan has devoted her life to helping others. She is the founder and director of Brandon’s House Counseling Center in New Albany, Indiana. While working on her degree, she approached the board at her church with a proposal that they remodel an old house behind the church. The idea was to create a space for a youth counseling center. During this time, a 17 year old member of the church, Brandon Dukes, unexpectedly died from a heart attack. With the blessings of Brandon’s parents, the soon to be completed center would bear his name. Brandon’s House opened in 1993 and to date has helped over 3,000 families by contributing over $2,000,000 dollars in counseling services. Susan’s contributions to the welfare and caring of others reach far beyond my comprehension and ability to count. However, the following story is one small example why Susan Parr is so special to me. It is a story that her husband Rolf tells people about to this day.  

Susan’s middle child, Kevin, has been my closest friend since early high school. I spent many summer days and nights at their house during my high school years. I am sure there were times Susan wondered if I was ever going to leave, although she never let on. I really never wanted to leave.  

While driving home late one summer night, I decided that even though Kevin was in France, I would stop off at his house. I was aware that Kevin was not going to be there, but I was feeling hungry and Parr residence was on the way.  When I arrived, the lights were on so I walked through the front door as I had done hundreds of times before. Susan and Rolf were in the living room watching television. I said hello but did not stop as I made my way to the kitchen and found the refrigerator. I spotted a tasty looking pot of chili. (Susan makes the best chili.) I got a bowl from the cabinet and filled it. While my meal was heating in the microwave, I poured myself a glass of Hawaiian Punch. I always gave Kevin flack for drinking the stuff but I always held a secret love for it.  I took my food and drink to the kitchen table. When I finished my meal, I placed my dirty dishes in the sink, said goodbye to Susan and Rolf as I passed them in the living room, and drove to my parent’s house.

When I spoke with Susan to ask permission to write about her for Wednesdays Woman, she asked me why I came over to her house that night. My answer was because I felt safe. Like what home should feel like. A home where the door  would always be open, a place where I could be myself, a place where help and advice was always there but never thrust upon me and a place where I was accepted and not judged but where subtle caring guidance was a constant. I imagine that she has provided this to the many families and young people who have been to Brandon’s House.

Susan remains a phone call away when life has my mind in a mess and I need someone to talk to. She always listens to whatever comes out of my mouth. Whether I am in tears or in a manic frenzy, Susan always listens. She does not offer unsolicited advice. She does not judge me. She listens and asks how I feel. Susan Parr stands for everything that a Wednesdays Woman is. Just yesterday, she let me know that there was a pot of chili in her refrigerator and that I was welcome to it at any time, day or night. And for this, I love her.

Wednesday's Woman is a weekly feature dedicated to spotlighting women who are role models for our daughters. . . and the world.

photo credit: waferboard via photopin cc