Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Speaking Up is Never Inappropriate

We are at the end of the school year.  A magical time when kids get to reminiscence about all they learned, play kickball with their teachers, have dances, plays, and generally waste the last short week of school as their minds are already into summer activities.

Such is the case with my daughters. One will be ending third grade and the other will be ending fifth grade.  Both are making transitions in their lives and as such, are navigating their own increasingly peer-to-peer environment.

My eldest daughter recently had an experience, actually two years of experiences, that came to a head when what should have been a momentous occasion for her and her peers was reduced because the leaders didn't want to move forward.  It hurt her and her friends that this opportunity to officially step over into that middle school level was denied them.  She came home upset.

I did what any good mother would do, I contacted the leaders and inquired why.  In contacting them, I did the at-home-mom no-no...I questioned the queen bees.

There has always been a bit of a hierarchy at every elementary school, usually run by the at-home moms who have the time to be the school volunteer that the working moms can only send in treats to be included.  It is a realm that was virtually unknown to me for 20 of the 30 years I've been a parent.  With my three living sons, I was a full-time graduate student when my last child started elementary school and was an at-home mom beginning the last month of his fifth grade year.  That meant I was able to put a toe into the school-mom-hierarchy during his last year of elementary school - sixth grade.  I was barely the book sale volunteer and since I am a bit of an introvert, didn't know many of the moms except to see them while walking in our subdivision.  That was ok with me, I am not a lady who lunches with other ladies who only have school to talk about.

So it was with very little working experience of the queen bee moms that I ventured more into the elementary school with these last two of my children - both girls.  Lessons, lessons, lessons!

My first experience at their former elementary school in our now newish town, was ok,  I love books, they love books, helping with the book sale was something I was familiar with.  I did that for three years and then did snacks for their class, since they have food allergies, thought it would be helpful for me to take this on as a challenge for first grade, it was a successful and yummy adventure for the kids.

It wasn't until we moved to another elementary school at the start of the girls' first and third grade years, respectively, that I understood the playground dynamics of these moms with too much time and yacking on their hands.

First couple years were a bit of a blur because I was heading up a summer youth program that commanded all my time, my extent on the school volunteer list was a lot like my fellow working moms - sending in a snack and taking one day a month to read in the class.  I was also teaching at a university and needed those precious daylight hours in my home office to prepare for lectures on the the days I was not standing before a group of undergraduates waiting for me to enlighten them on all things marketing and management.

There seems to be a place for everyone, a pecking order, and if you step out, boy, do they ding you.

Such was fourth and more so fifth grade for my older daughter. And me.

First, I had to help her navigate her first and worse girl-on-girl bullying experience led by none other than the queen bee's daughter herself.  Queen bee who also had her toe in every volunteer thing at the school - even as an at-home mom, who has that kind of time? Didn't she have laundry, a house to clean, and a husband to feed?  Anyway, I digress.  Queen Bee was also the co-leader of my daughter's extracurricular activity and as such, neither of us could fully be away from them.  Year one was ok, year two was a flop because they barely had meetings and only did one or two things all year - suspect they were more striving for something to put on their resume rather than something for the girls - and culminated in year three being an almost total waste if one of the other moms hadn't taken over a major project so the girls could at least get their major award.

It was this backdrop, and the daring thing I did from January-April that put me more in the public sphere and in the direct cross hairs of the mean mom crew from the elementary school.  I know I am  "not from here" and thus, not welcome at the swing set, could care less actually, my interests are far outside the domain of just these nine square miles. But for my daughter, I spoke up. I had to, she was hurt, and no one knowingly and continuously hurts her without me saying anything.

Being a writer, I know the power and use of words.  I tried to be very optimistic and diplomatic in the first communication I sent when I questioned why the girls would not be participating in this school-wide event.  There was a "clarification" sent back that because "some" of the girls weren't sure they wanted to go on, the leaders didn't want to participate for fear those girls would feel left out - never mind that it was one of their girls what wasn't sure.  The rest of the girls felt neglected and left out - this school district ends elementary school at fifth grade - there are some experiences that can never happen again. What about the other girls who felt left out?

I found through the experience of trying to seek resolution for not only my daughter but the others who were also wronged, that the girl clique and playing favorites continues on into adulthood.  I found it was one of the reasons that for the almost six years I lived here I tried to stay away from their their little huddle spot during afternoon pickup.  I have more things to do and despite how pretty the bench, I would rather stand far, far away.

In the communications, the leaders told me it was "inappropriate" for me to question them, essentially, to ask why they didn't really do anything, why I essentially had the audacity to question them in the first place. In the ensuing communication, none of them expressed concern for my daughter or the other girls who were wronged by their behavior.  Typical "I'm so hurt" comments that showed much more than I ever expected.  Wasn't high school a long time ago?

 Inappropriate in whose opinion? That of the queen bees and wanna bees that flock around them like worker bees in a hive? The administration that sanctions the behavior?  The other parents who want to speak out but don't want the arrows and darts thrown at them? Inappropriate in whose book?

Then it hit me.  They just want to be seen and liked and have everyone compliment them on what a great job they are doing, even if they are not.  They drink the kool-aid and want everyone else to also, if anyone dares to drink water instead, they are ostracized.  Just like the fifth grade celebration that was not, everything is not always wonderful when you rely on the same old, same old.  The girls, the kids deserved better than cold pizza and their name on a wall.  There wasn't anything kid-focused about it.  And that is often part of the problem with over-eager moms who volunteer for everything, it is often about their own reputation and not the benefit of the children.

Speaking up is never inappropriate, especially when a child is harmed or disappointed.  The queen bees, like in high school, will still talk about you, still not like you, and still not invite you in, but in speaking up, at least you let them and others know that everything is not roses in their flower patch.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I am a nice person.  Have always had people comment about that, how nice I was, despite everything I had to overcome in life.  I am pretty introverted unless I know you, then I am very extroverted.  It is that quirky equally I/ENFJ of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

I am deep thinking and feeling.  I am concerned about people and the world we live in, the environment and what we do about it.  I am concerned about emotional health, bullying, and misue of power.

It is all of these things that converged this year.

When I ran for public office, I never expected the windstorm that I received, especially from my daughter's elementary school where another parent was also a candidate.  Perhaps that was naive of me, but I just thought choice mattered.

Yesterday, we were all sifting through the devastating news of what happened in Oklahoma, that children in schools were killed with the tornado made a direct hit at the school.  I believe every mom's heart stopped beating and we held our children a little close. If, like me, you wondered about the "safe room" and "storm shelters" at your local school.  The destruction still seems so unreal, even as the news cameras show it more and more.

The same can be done regarding the destruction of the heart and what happens when a small community attacks instead of nurturing, when school bullies are allowed to reign over all simply because their parent is on the school board, what is left in the wake is often debris that will take a long time to clean up.

I have never been in clicques, wasn't in one in high school, college, or even my adult life.  Maybe it is the introvert in me or that for a long time in my life, I really didn't care for the cattiness of women.  Being in my small suburb, I see why.

An adult can take it, being ignored, maligned, or mistreated, but not a child.  And it was a child, my child, who is being mistreated by the adults who are supposed to be leaders in an organization.  Why? Because I ran for public office against one of their husbands and they felt threatened - that is why bullies attack in the first place.  I can take it, but not the heart of my child.

So I spoke out.  I called, emailed, and contacted the parties-that-be and in their communication back, they were more concerned about their "hurt feelings" instead of the tornado they caused in the heart of a little girl.

Sometimes storms come and wash away all the dirt and give an opportunity to start anew, to make it stronger, more resilient, and better in the end.  I hope that by speaking up and out, but not cowering in a corner because of the mean mom, that I am speaking up for all the other girls and moms who have been afraid for years to speak out about this person's meanness.  Hopefully, a new year, a new school, a new start will change it all, we will see.

In the mean time, we pick up the pieces, clean up the mess, remove the debris, mourn for what is lost, and resolve to build stronger next time.

Friday, May 17, 2013

In Praise of Shonda Rhimes

There are not enough words to describe how amazing, awesome, and authentic is the writing of Ms. Shonda Rhimes!

That woman has singlehandedly rewritten the script - literally and figuratively - for the image of who black women are.

Not only has she been successful with one made-for-television dramatic series, she has done it with three.  In all three, she has tackled social issues (teen pregnancy, abortion, abuse, addiction, infidelity, racism, sexism, classism, corporate greed, first love, sex, political intrigue) with such style, grace, and class.

Last night, there was a literal gasp heard around the world when Kerry Washington, as Olivia, was doing her signature fast, confident walk only to face a barrage of cameras and then be physically whisked away to a waiting limo, confusion all over her face, upon being seated, looks up and questions, "Dad?" - fade to black, Season 2 ended.  Facebook and Twitter were ablaze with "I did not see that coming!" and "Shonda Rhimes is the Queen!"

It was like being on a roller coaster flipping upside down and right side and spinning round-and-round to zoom to the unexpected stop.  Bam. Scandal. Speechless.

She has created something that has the power - if the networks continue to be courageous - to change the image that my daughters will see on television during their teen and young-adult-ages.  None of Shonda's characters were maids, hookers, or secretaries - the usual roles for black and Latina women.  No, she empowered each of her roles with more-than-we-are-used-to realized men and women with lives and situations we can imagine possible (well, except for that Fitz and Olivia thing, even if they were both white, that would be hard to imagine!).  She handled love and loss in all three of her shows and Scandal has by far has been her most daring writing yet.

In her work, she has given the world a glimpse into the more realized lives of real women and not the caricatures created by white male dominated Hollywood executives.  She has also made these real women of real sizes - Olivia Pope - is a tasteful fashion maven who does not reveal her body but has real curves.  The same thing with her character Dr. Bailey of Grey's Anatomy and Dr.Bennett of Private Practice.

She is not without her critics, however, who believe she skirts around the race issue and gender issue.  She has been discussed by black men and women because of the "tragic mulatto" type romance happening between the Fitz and Olivia characters.  She had to endure white network executives who had a problem with the strong, handsome, decidedly black character played by Isaiah Washington who was eventually written out-of-Grey.  She had to endure the rewriting of her creation to have Meredith Grey married to a white man instead of the black man Shonda dreamed up.  She continues to be discussed about the lack-of-developed story surrounding her black characters - who they are outside the office or the hospital - except for a few glimpses.  Her white characters are fully realized with back stories and plot lines that help the audience connect with them.  She has revealed glimpses into the situations black women face (like the one where the white woman executive thought the white woman assistant was the boss instead of the black woman). She bravely tackled LGBT issues with the relationship of a white woman and a Latina woman.  She has handled some tough issues, her black critics want her to develop her black characters even more.

Shonda Rhimes is deserving of every award for expert writing, producing, and directing.  She has a cult following that includes women of all races, ethnicities, and economic levels. Thursday nights is "put the kids to bed early" night with many of the women, and increasingly, men, hosting watch parties, finale parties, and premiere parties to engage in the communal experience.  Her shows beg to be experienced with someone else - in person or through social media - because they are just that much of an event.

Definitely an expert.  Is it September yet?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Leaving Peyton Place and The Power of Rhetoric

Peyton Place, that idyllic little southern town with the glistening lake, ice cream eating boy, bicycle riding kids, white picket fence, and middle class normality of yesteryear, is just as false then as it's replicas today.

The description is used to describe those primarily closed-in, usually white bread, middle-to-upper middle class communities of 2.5 children, stay-at-home moms, and the working dad. The community with the white picket fence and manicured lawn, the perfect van with the little stickers of how many kids and pets reside in the home on the tree-lined street.  It is the community with the nation's top schools and the moms who rule the PTO with an iron fist.  The place with high property values and the requisite less than ten-percent minority population, the quaint coffee shop, little restaurants, unique shops, and purposely locating the big box stores far away from the town center.

In a community such as this, everyone is supposed to know where they belong, which side of the street, which bar or club or restaurant is welcoming to "their kind" and which ones are best to avoid.  They are supposed to know the correct swing of the pony tail and which headband to put on their daughters and make sure their sons are clad in the acceptable jeans.  It is supposed to be uniform, general, the same.

Yet, all is not well in Peyton Place, not with the assault way out in the cabin woods or the gossiping older neighbor or the upper class company boss whose son wanted to marry the step down flirty girl with the swing skirt or the visionary young writer who wanted to defy convention and get on the first bus out of town to see a world beyond those nine square miles.  It is not well in the school that still segregates the "us" from the "them" and make sure the "ruling parties" still have a tight reign on everything from the school dance to the 5th grade celebration.  They want to make sure only "their people" are the ones elected to the school board and then make sure they get that stadium built for the all-star football team, even though the nationally ranked orchestra is better.  No, all is not well in Peyton Place.

When the community, located inside a metro area, is so closed off that it seeks to destroy new voices instead of listening, you need a Doc Swain to stand up and point out the flaws, to put them all on notice that their plates are not that clean, that their false tears and calls of "oh I am so hurt" when their wrongs against fellow citizens are pointed out, a Doc Swain is needed to break through the inertia and help the community wake up  .
One does not know what happened to the characters of that 50s-era drama, but the hope and expectation, right on the cusp of big change in the United States, that they realized dreams, the writer published her book, the woman scorned was redeemed, the gossip apologized, and the "others" were able to cross the street like everyone else.  One can only hope, at times, against hope, that the Doc Swain speech was finally heard and acted upon.

Otherwise, more and more will leave the suffocating sameness of Peyton Place and find peace, resolute, and connection in a more exhilerating diversity of a place where the perfectness of the lawn does not matter as much as the openness of your conversation, where the right outfit is the one you have on, where what your spouse does for a living doesn't define you, where the ruling moms of the PTO are put aside to open the doors of opportunity for new voices.  One can only hope it is more than a television drama..  

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Abusive Rhetor: Essay on the Emotion, Power, and Control of Repeated Word in an Emotionally Abusive Situation

Rhetorical Composing 
by Susan Delagrange, Cynthia Selfe, Kay Halasek, Ben McCorkle, Scott Lloyd DeWitt

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide

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  • This week we have been learning or reviewing many terms, aspects of critical thought, and rhetorical expression. This is very useful in writing, but I find it is most useful in living.
    When I read the prompt for this assignment “contribute to a conversation among participants about how analysis informs our daily activities and can provide a useful means of engaging the texts that we encounter,” what came to my mind is manipulative individuals.
    Manipulative individuals are very clever, and I feel I can safely say that they don’t learn their craft through reading books and watching lectures on rhetoric; it is part of their personality and they practice. They practice on those who are less aware of how abusive rhetoric works.
    For us to learn about rhetoric, and how messages can be used with high regard to time, emotion, position (how much power you give someone), and logic to potentially sway us to think or act in a way that we normally would not is crucial.
    Like I said before, abusive individuals are very intelligent, and they will not expose their intentions clearly, so it is useful to be familiar with the typical profile of such an individual in order to analyze his or her true intentions, and protect yourself. Northwestern University's Women's Center webpage "Warning signs of an abusive person" has a list of indicators, but I will focus on one—what the University terms the Jekyll-and-Hyde personality.
    An abusive person has a tendency to react very emotionally. Take this example of a couple with an abusive member:
    Abuser: I love you
    You: Aww, that’s sweet! (smiling toward the partner)
    Abuser: Wow! You don’t even love me do you? All you care about is yourself! You take me for granted, and I just let you get away with it because I actually do love you!
    You (shocked and confused): Why would you say that?
    Abuser (cutting you off): I’m trying to show you how much I care about you, and you don’t even care! Is there someone else? I wouldn’t be surprised. Who is it? (he or she continues in this way until satisfied. Then…)
    Abuser: I’m sorry. I’ve just had a long day at work. I'm so stressed out. You don't know what it's like. I know you love me. I just don’t understand why you couldn’t just say it. You know that makes me angry. I probably over reacted. Can you forgive me? I’ll never do it again. I promise. That’s really not like me. You know that. Please. I beg you.
    So it begins with the abuser (Jekyll) speaking with the intention of receiving a predetermined response from you. You don’t respond in the way that he requires so he becomes infuriated (Hyde). I imagine this would be shocking if you are unfamiliar with this sort of behavior, and you would likely try to share your perspective on the matter. The abuser probably wouldn’t give you the opportunity, and would only stop once your resolve is broken. Then the kind, remorseful aspect would return to sooth you into comfort once again(Jekyll).
    The problem with this is that it tends to be a progressive change and the abuser becomes more bold the longer the relationship has been in place, and the non abusive partner tends to fall into a pattern of fear, where everything he or she might say has to be carefully thought out since it might trigger Hide. Also, for someone unfamiliar with these mood swings it can be a challenge to try and reconcile the two extremes coming from the same person.
    This is one of many instances in which we should not only treasure this knowledge and the skills we learn consequently, which will help us understand these situations and avoid them or protect ourselves from them, we should also aim to share the skills and knowledge with those we love. Some of us already do without considering it propagation of rhetorical theory, but those of us who don’t should aim to.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ten Years

It has been ten years since I have worn a suit every day, made a commute, sat in an office, and proclaimed I only worked for "so and so company."

The weather here in this part of St. Louis has been a bit precarious and asthma has decided to win the battle today.  That meant I had more time on my hands to breathe and think and it struck me that today is May 8th.

It is significant because it is my aunt's birthday, two days after my birthday, and exactly ten years after I picked up my purse and walked out of my corporate job and into my destiny.

In these ten years I have helped open a high end retail store and work with great designers, I've been writing and performing my poetry, I taught students at two universities, led a team in helping kids walk over the summer bridge instead of succumbing to the academic slide, I've watched my daughter journey from quarterly surgeries to remission, helped guide my son to his educational destiny, been a military mom of a son who served a tour of duty, was promoted to Petty Officer, and is back in the states.  I've moved from one city to another, I've traveled, met great people, sat on boards of directors, ran for public office. I was invited to an invitation only PhD conference and have outlined my doctoral research topic.  My brand is registered, my business was started and I worked on some interesting projects.  I'm renewing my love of learning through Coursera and have had the opportunity to journey with a young woman to the publication of her first book.  I've lost also in these years, someone dear to me, but I've also gained the birth of my daughter and celebrated weddings and the birth of three phenomenal women into my family clan.  I've attended plays, recitals, and listened to more squeaky violin strings and pluky guitar chords. I campaigned for history changing, been interviewed, performed a spoken narrative, and gave a great speech at The Ethical Society.  I've seen the Gulf of Mexico and sipped some wonderful lattes.

In these ten years, I've lived a full life that may not have been possible had I not had the courage to say that I am worth more than what was coming to me.  My life has more meaning than something put on the shelf that honestly, when I take my last breath, no one will remember.  It has allowed me to redefine success and to know what is important to me.  I've taken on projects and risks I wouldn't never done before had I remained in that midwestern company.

Ten years can change a lifetime.  It certainly did for me and when I stop to look back at it all, I wouldn't change a thing about that day I walked out.  I felt an enormous burden of shackles lifted off my shoulders and while I sometimes miss the guaranteed fat paycheck, what I have gained in the interim is priceless.

Monday, May 6, 2013

My Born Day

This is one of my favorite dates.

It is my birthday!

I am older, wiser, and more thoughtful.  I am sure of my voice and the words I write, sure and confident of my contributions in life.  It is that calm feeling that comes when you are at the end of something and the beginning of something.  This is what it feels like to be grown up.

There are other dates that are equally my favorite, but only one when I get to pause for a moment and think about their late parents and their excitement over my birth - I am their baby girl.  I close my eyes and see my late mother, my face is her face, and can only imagine her laboring to deliver me -her fifth child.  Back then, labor and delivery was the domain of women and men just showed up after everyone was beautiful again.  My father was pacing and waiting.

Both my parents have passed on, my mother when I was barely out of toddlerhood and my father when I was in the throws of parenthood. It is funny to me, I feel like I am not old enough to be parentless, barely absorbing that I am the parent of six.

My children are reflections of my heart, walking testaments of the love in my soul, forever etched in the world as words of my spirit.  Each one of them has a place inside my mind.  My four sons and two daughters, still keep thinking am I old enough to have my own clan?

Today is my birthday, the end of one and the start of another, generation, life, decade.  I am determined to complete the promise my parents saw in me.  My late mother wrote "chairman of the board" on the back of my baby picture, the imparting of life, purpose, and destiny happened right then.  She never lived to see me become the woman I am today, but her guiding spirit has always been there to reassure me that this is the right path to take.

I am a  year older.

This is one of my favorite dates on the calendar.

Life is the reason why.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Honor On His Birthday

He literally changed the narrative of my life.

When I thought I was finished, one in each hand, his essence filled my being and on this day, 19 years ago, he literally burst forth to proclaim, "I'm here, are you ready?"

The ultrasound with him proudly standing full front, waving, and letting us know without a doubt he was a boy, was the moment I knew that his personality was going to be big and his purpose in life was going to be enormous.  He hasn't ceased to amaze me.

This kid, so skinny, still skinny, stands tall in my heart with his wisdom and compassion, his keen insight and understanding, his brilliance, and his honor.  He is thoughtful, sensitive, and engaging.

I can not believe this is his first birthday away from me.  Time flies and I look at the baby pictures of my "flying baby" with the "crazy mohawk" and marvel at the years filled with action figures, goofy gestures, jumps down the stairs, so many neighborhood boys, cars, and song.  My son, my youngest son filled my heart and soul with a gladness that I can not describe.

The years have only intensified my admiration of his talent and thankfulness of his presence, even as he changed my life, just two days from my thirtieth birthday, just when I thought more children were not in my life story.  He has always given everyone around him a reason to smile.

One name, two names, three names were not enough for someone of his magnitude and magnificence.  He has six names because his personality can hold heritage in his heart and his culture on his shoulders.  He has a mantle and a voice that booms across the room and declares his dreams are real, his passion is authentic, and his talent is original.

I pause and honor the presence of my fourth manchild, my promised one, my youngest son.  Happy birthday my almost twin!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Why I Write

The fondest memory I have of my relationship with the written word is when my father encouraged me to write my stories and then took the time to read each one.  I believe I was nine years old and was an avid bibliophile in the 4th grade.  Books were friends and companions for me and allowed me to journey to places like Brooklyn and Martha’s Vineyard and to discover humanity, to gain my voice, and to write even more stories that my father read when he returned from his business trips.
My earliest memories involve me lying on the floor in my upstairs bedroom, Big Chief Notebook spread out on the floor, No. 2 tan pencil in my hand, and my imagination taking flight.  I wrote an imagined story about the Irish Potato Famine and a shortage of French fries in 1974 Jefferson City.  I wrote a coming-of-age story about a young girl who lived with her older siblings in a posh New York high rise.  I think I was about ten or eleven when I imagined that world full of rich dialogue and heroines with a purpose to right all the wrongs of the world.
Those early stories are long gone now, lost in a basement flood that always seemed to plague our house on Gordon Street whenever it rained.  It seemed to not matter that we lived on the top of a hill and water should be running down, every rain meant we were lugging out the Rainbow vacuum cleaner to suck up two feet of water that made the boys’ room and the rec room a built-in swimming pool.  It was in one of those rains, us kids all moved on, I was living in Chicago at the time, when my stepmother sadly informed me that all my “stories from when you were a kid” were washed up, soggy, moldy pages now.  She just “had to throw them away.” 
When I learned my writing was no longer in the universe, I felt a tremendous sense of loss and sadness, despite not having laid my eyes on those pages for twenty years.  The mere fact that they existed were reminders that the innocence of my early years also existed, that I did create something magical on those old Big Chief Notebooks.  It also gave me a resolve to try to keep all my writing from then on.
Adulthood, marriage, divorce, moving, and choosing meant that once again, some of my writing did not make the journey with me.  I wrote a very moving poem, Ntozake Shange style, when I was a freshman in college, it is long gone, as well as some of my early attempts at poetry, lost to a boyfriend who had my heart. 
I am almost fifty now and I know now what I wish I knew then – words are worth preserving, worth protecting, worth remembering.  I now create most of my work online because it is eternal and will be protected from basement floods, out-of-state moves, and old boyfriends.  I think I type, even with carpel tunnel, because at 80wpm, it is at the speed of my thought.  Poetry, letters, cards, and my journal are still written in longhand with a very special hand carved Cocobolo wooden pen.  It is when I write in longhand that I connect back to my ten-year-old self and the wooden floor of my upstairs bedroom.  I can close my eyes and see the dormer window curtain fluttering and the top leaves of the big oak tree.  Downstairs, I hear my father’s booming baritone and feel myself wanting to hurry up and finish so my long skinny legs can jump two-at-a-time down the stairs and run to the long dining table where I know he will be sitting, sipping coffee, writing his sermons, and listening to Dan Rather.
Words and I, books and I, writing and I have been companions for four decades, together we have grown in understanding of each other and the needs we share.  I am more comfortable with my voice and am assured that I have something important to contribute.  I write under a pseudonym to honor my late parents, it is a special name my father gave me and a connection back to my fore-mothers.  
 I write because I am, I exist, and I do not fit into a box.  I have married myself, my writing self, my expressive self and have given her room to breathe through black type and pink ink. I have given my ten year old self the space and time to grow into her almost fifty year old self and to be brave enough to share her thoughts with more than just her big, tall daddy who would shower her with praise and encourage her to write more.  I write because I breathe.