Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hope Lives among Us

My son Isaiah has been once again nationally honored for his contributions and recognized as being a champion of hope. The event was a celebration of the 50th birthday for The Los Angeles Department of Mental Health hosted at the California Endowment Society in downtown Los Angeles.

As I tagged along in mommy fashion, I found my heart wretched cleanly from my chest throughout the day. As I gawked in sheer amazement at his artwork for the event and the outpouring of love and adoration for my son’s shining achievements, I was struck in awe and a little bit paralyzed. Watching him charismatically weave his way as he was surrounded by celebrity as well as professionals in the Mental Health Care industry was nothing short of stunning. His bright humility, moved with sincerity warmth and kindness, neglecting no one.

We soon watched the tearful video he created in company with his mentors, which inevitably moved hundreds. >>>

His story, as he tells it, is his testimony of hope for all he has been through and his purposeful effort to transform his pain into art.

As he talked about his trauma of being homeless or rather "houseless", it hurt to the core of my existence. He talked about our family struggle and the ripple in the water effect it had on him. In my attempt at listening as an objective observer, all I could feel was beyond grateful. Even though sequences of actual events are a bit blurred in the translation, his heart bursted through every precious reflection. It is his story and the telling of it, is his right to champion for his own healing and the healing of others as it turns out.

The LADMH and their affiliates of this event, deal personally and professionally with all issues dealing directly with the voiceless of our American society. In a land of the free, there are so many shackled and imprisoned by the stigmatism of a mental and/or emotional infliction.

The seemingly voiceless, are creating a world of hope walking with an invisible limp. All the while, the language they speak is about wellness. I was enthralled as I heard testimonies from war veterans, the hearing impaired and the physically paralyzed, to the victims who have lost family members to suicide. Every person now apart of an advocacy program mentoring others through hardships they themselves had been through.

The list is endless and came up close and personal when our Key Note speaker Mariette Hartley addressed us with her own brave and heart wrenching story. As she mentioned the term PTSD, I was capsized. Having been in stronghold from within throughout the day, her bravery unraveled my heart.

The power of her warm words made me realize how powerful my son was as she mentioned him several times having been moved by his story, but also how alone I had been feeling for years. She melted me and made me realize it was time for me to come forward.

When I was first diagnosed with PTSD, I attempted to write the about the experience of the trauma I had suffered in a paper I called Corporate Cancer. However, since then I made a conscious decision to attempt to keep moving forward, with my maimed inner self. Not because I was in denial but honestly because I felt no support for what I was going through. There simply has been no voice for it and even though I worked within the healthcare industry to support my sons, most of their young life, there was no advocacy or support. After all every mama needs a village and unfortunately the one that surrounded us was severely lacking. Sometimes it seemed there just wasn't enough "village" to go around.

The fact that my son found the resources I needed all along is not lost on me. This is so telling, the ways of the ironical vortex and how it always seems to find a through line. Needless to say, I too will be contacting these people and finally get the care I have needed for years. So in truth my son will by default also be healing his mom.

The life events and traumas which created my sons story is only one among many thousands of people who have suffered throughout the world as well as throughout history. But the difference my son makes is the voice he is willing to give to his story through his art and his generous heart and soul. My job is done. My baby son can be one of the finest human beings on the planet.

So, should I discuss the hardships we all suffered that made this so? The truth is if it could happen to us, it could happen to anyone, and often does. An entire family can fall apart from one single trauma. Whether it is a lengthy hospital stay from an illness, to a car accident, job loss, loss of a loved one, or even something as seemingly simple as a broken heart.

I could say if I hadn’t been diagnosed with PTSD, he could be already teaching and sitting in a bistro in Europe by now discussing philosophical art and its impact on humanity. I could talk about long painful nights in worry about my all children and my own illness. But really the truth is, Isaiah has become the person I ultimately wished him to be as I cradled him in loving sincerity. Now he is well on his own life path which screams to the universe his right to exist, much the same way he kicked while in the womb forcing me to my knees. Today he brings the universe to its knees, in souring hope. I know I don’t regret a thing, as long as whatever it was, it got him here; to these moments of triumph and understanding as he waves his banners in colorful benevolence on canvas.

Isaiah’s story began before he was even born, before I was born. But the one he tells is appropriate and timely. In response, I can only say I have always been proud to be his mother, and likely would have found him in friendship even if I hadn’t been. My testimony is I am grateful others value and love my son as much as I do. There is no greater gift for any unselfish parent.

In Isaiah’s artwork is a logo which was coined the “stigma buster”. If someone else had created such a logo during our little family’s time of trauma, there may not have even been a story for him to tell. When he was born, he looked as if he’d been dipped in gold. Now he has the heart to match. What more could a mother ask for? Thank you Isaiah, my sweet baby son, your artful banner is healing my soul.

I would personally like to thank Gina Perez with the Pacific Clinics for her warm mentoring, kindness beyond the call of uh oh from the very beginning.

My gratitude continues for Kathleen Piche, LCSW with LADMH for championing Isaiah right to the steps of everyone’s heart.

To his older brother David, my sweet son, who has never let go of his brother’s hand in caring and love.

I would like to also say thank Mariette Hartley for her beauty and bravery. She truly is a triumph of spirit. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for embracing us.

For anyone dealing with these tragic circumstances, please never give up. I have seen for myself that there are resources and more importantly PEOPLE who not only care, but understand. There is HOPE among us.

See more of Isaiah’s beautiful artwork >

“Stigma Buster Website” > http:/

“Breaking the Silence” by Mariette Hartley & Anne Commire

National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence Inc. - helping individuals a& families facing addiction 800-622-2255 800-622-2255).

"National Center for PTSD" -clinical care & social welfare for US Veterans/General public-

"Suicide Prevention Action Network USA" -opening minds/changing policy/saving lives-

"It's very hard to be useful & unhappy at the same time" ~Spencer Tracey

"A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart." ~Johann Wolfgang Goethe

"Nothing and no one is a lost cause" ~ djs

* jussayn *

******************************** ~ *********************************


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Brothers & Sisters

At the request of my sister, I am back to watching the television program “Brothers & Sisters”. The show pulled me in when it first aired, for my fondness of Sally Field and for the obvious title. I stopped watching after my mother passed away because it was serious "in your face family" at the time and I just could not deal. There are elements of the show’s heart and story lines that can speak a hard reality.

Being able to relate to some of the story lines, can be like reliving them. But now, being pulled by my sister, I’m again taken in by the warmth of Nora’s kitchen, sweet banter and fast paced hydro-drama. Through Kitty’s cancer and barrage of sibling eye rolls there are the tugs that yank on my own life strings.

I suppose it’s silly to compare my family to the Walkers, because in truth we are nothing alike. We are not running for senate or together running a family business or dating people from Paris. But we are survivors, my own siblings and I. We walk the planet in testimony to it. We all have our own warm kitchens and conference call rally every now and then. But we have no one person at the helm in control like Nora. We had our mother as a touch point of comfort when she was alive, but we are all ships with our own sails and I might add, without a neutral common port.

We are blessed with a great bond and are given to hysterical comedy and music between us. But we are not very good at the hard eye rolls or the rally. When something happens of course we are all there for one another. But we are not very good at listening to each other either. So when one of us is in trouble or has discovered an anomaly, we often run rapid in judgmental terror to try to fix it, or we sail off in the direction of a disconnect button. All of us are guilty of doing this to each other. We are also extremely charismatic and have a lot to share at once, whenever we get together. Everything is always important and cannot wait, which is something we do have in common with the Walkers. Vibrating with high emotion, we also can not help but run toward each other in deep sentiment.

Above all there is always the element of surprise and our random acts of kindnesses we give each other, even though we are infected with conversation "interruptUS". In truth, we never really learned how to work together except when it comes to the kitchen or our music. It fascinates me. When we cook, it is a poem of pleasure as we gather around the table by candlelight and toast mom. When we sing, all four of us are the loveliest blend of harmony anyone has ever heard.

Now personally, I have never been very competitive. As a matter of fact, the discovery of this took me a very long time to understand about myself, coming to the conclusion in loath, even for the word "competition". So when the green eyed monster of sibling rivalry rears its tenuous head, I have mostly recoiled. In doing so, permitting my siblings the limelight of conversation or song. This gave me a deep appreciation and value for observation. Of course I have my own frustrations with each of them. But I do get my point across and my turn. We are each mini powerhouses, not to be trifled with. Even stranger to me is we have so much in common, yet we spin in separate orbits. A curse and a blessing. But, whenever we do join forces, we are together a stronghold of intention unbreakable. It is all a perfect balance of contractions and perfect imperfection. My brother and sisters and I, are so very lucky to have each other. Maybe we don’t have Nora’s kitchen as a common port, but we have four of them at any given time.

I’m glad my sister changed my mind to watch the show again. Aside from dreamy Gilles Marini and tearful moments, the show gives me warm perspective about our own little family. Maybe we are not very good at the conference call rally, but we mostly hold each other close to our heart squeezed marshmallow centers, such as we are. I would not change us for the world. We just need patience, a lot more wine and a gentler eye roll. Oh, and the listening part.

I’ll be watching … thanks kid :) *kisses & grins*

"Speak kind words and you will hear kind echos" - unknown

"The National Mentoring Partnership" -a resource for mentors & mentoring initiatives -