Friday, October 24, 2008

Who we WERE and who we ARE today

When do you feel most like yourself? What are you feeling? What are you wearing?

Tonight, I am wearing a dark blue sweatshirt that says "Maxwell Elementary." I have owned this particular sweatshirt since college... It dates back to when I worked at an after-school program at a local elementary school.

This sweatshirt resonates with me on a deep, internal level.

I can remember being nine years old, playing outside and wearing my "grubbies," which included a similar dark blue sweatshirt.

When I was 9 years old, I loved one person the most in all the world. That person was my mother, and she was drifting away...

Cancer was eating away at my mother, like an evil force - determined to rob me of her presence, her comfort and her security. It had diabolical plans to leave me in the hands of my father, who was cold, detached, removed, and abusive - a man I knew didn't love me.

But in my sweatshirt, I felt most like myself. And I knew that there was still time.

Time before my mother left me forever. Time before my father would abandon me... as, deep down, I always knew that he would.

In my dark blue sweatshirt and blue jeans, with a string of fake plastic rubies around my neck, I was ready to wait things out. I knew that ultimately, I was going to survive and kick some a** and make a difference in the world.

I could see the shadow looming above me, but when I looked deep within myself, I knew that I could and would survive it.

So.... tell me, are there any similar outfits, songs, events, etc. that resonate with you and remind you of your childhood, how you survived and how YOU became the amazing person that you are today?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Open the Door to the Future, Closing the Door to the Past

Do you see this tall slab of wood? Today, it is nothing more than an ordinary door. But it will be transformed over the weekend into a vehicle for dreams.

The front of this door will be decorated by young people in and from foster care with their hopes and dreams.

The theme of the statewide independent living summit in my state is: "Opening the Door to the Future."

Later this year, during our Thanksgiving Reunion, the theme will be: "Closing the Door to the Past."

The back of this door will be decorated by young people in and from foster care with symbols of things from our past which, as we move forward, we are going to leave behind.

For some people, this might be anger or bitterness. Others might try to save their biological family at the expense of themselves.

Sometimes we who have experienced foster care feel we are unworthy of love, because we weren't loved as children. We might remember negative predictions that other people have made about the future outcome of our lives, and foolishly measure ourselves based on other people's shortsighted estimations.

These are the kind of things we want to leave behind as we continue to move forward. And, we want to support one another and move forward together.

Many thanks goes to Home Depot to donating this door to the Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America.