Great Again: Post 1 from What I Learned in School Series

Something had to wake me from my bloggers' grave. For a whole year, I had made one recycled post wishing a Happy New Year to everyone. But, as a human being, a person with deep convictions about life, I cannot lie still. The comment the man in the highest office made yesterday grieves my soul. And I won't go into all the details why the comment affects me so much, but I'll share something I learned while working on my M.A.

I had designed my own course and a professor agreed to work with me. The course was about sexuality and colonialism. There was so much I could not understand about the brutal and contradictory colonial and colonized worlds. White men were having sex, fathering children, domineering and doing just about anything they wished with the people they colonized and often treated as non-human.

I said to my professor, an older Caucasian man, "Why would white men sleep with Africans, Indians and all these people, but think they are not human beings and treat them anyway?"

The professor looked at me and said, "One day you will understand."

I learned I had to figure this mess I was digging into all on my own.

I have gotten older. I now understand. I understand why the man in the highest office in the United States of America can have "friendships" with non-whites and still see them as inferior. I understand why he can have a sexual/intimate relationship with someone who is not white and still see her ancestral home as "shitholes." I understand why he does all he has done and gets away with it.

It's still real. Racism. "It" reigns in the highest office in the "land of the free."

Racism exists everywhere. This post is not political, it's personal.

Angela's Heart-rending Story


“My name is Angela McNabb.” That’s how Angela starts her heart-rending story. Tears—unwelcome—stream down my face. Angela can’t see my tears because she can’t see. I don’t cry when I listen to stories, or I try not to. But, this time, this story, with tragedy after tragedy, penetrates my being and this is the reason I must share Angela’s story with you.
Here’s Angela’s story

Confused and Scared
I had terrible headaches and I didn’t know what to do. One day, my headache was really bad. I went to the doctor and he did a physical test and said there was fluid on my optic nerve that caused the headache. He suggested I pull the fluid. I did the surgery and came home. A day after the surgery, my vision was not like it was before. I felt like something was over my eyes. Each morning I woke up, my sight was worse than the day before. One morning when I woke up, I was walking but felt I was walking through a dark cloud. I was confused and scared. I started wondering what was going on. Something was wrong. I started to cry. I was twenty-six and I knew I was blind.

His Pain Got Worse
After losing my sight, my aunt told my boyfriend, whom I lived with, that he didn’t have to stay with me and that if he wanted to, he could send me back to my home. My boyfriend said he didn’t care if I was blind and he said he would marry me. We got married in June, then I got pregnant and had a daughter in July, the following year. 

Suddenly, barely three months after my daughter was born, my husband got sick. His head was hurting really bad. His family took him to the doctor and the doctor gave him medication. But the pain got worse. His family started caring for him and gave him herbal medicine, but nothing helped. Each day, like my eyesight, his pain got worse. Then he had an epileptic seizure. Then he couldn’t walk. He became totally disabled. Just like that. Within nine days after his first headache, he died. I cried and I cried. My husband who took care of me was gone and I was blind with no job and I had my daughter that I could not see. 

I Thought I was Dreaming
Two months after my husband died, my aunt took me from my husband’s family because she did not want me to become a burden. I lived with my daughter in a little house. But if things were bad before, they would get worse. A year after my husband died, I was sleeping. Then I felt like the house was hotter than normal and I got hotter and hotter. I thought I was dreaming. But I felt like something woke me from the dream and I grabbed the baby and ran to open the door to escape. I didn’t know what direction to take. I felt like I was still dreaming because I couldn’t see. As I fled from the house with the baby in my arms, I fell into a gutter near my house. The baby was crying and I got some bruises. 


The house was on fire. It burned to the ground. Everything I owned was gone. Everything that was important in my life was slowly being taken from me. I lived with my family for a while—they helped me. A politician heard my story and built this one-room house for me. Thank God for helping me through that sad time.


I got saved [and became a Christian]. I met a guy and he said he would marry me. I was happy that he wanted me even though I was blind. Then he left. I cried and cried. I was sad and I got depressed. I had a nervous breakdown and was taken to the hospital and put on medication. But God was my best friend and He carried me through.

My Wish for Today or Tomorrow
Most of the time, I’m happy. If could move around more, maybe I wouldn’t be sad at all. I do everything. Even the white clothes I wash are so clean and white that that people say I can see. The only thing I do not do is walk on the street because I’m scared I could get hit by a car.

I hope my eyesight will return. Every morning I wake up I hope for that. My biggest wish is see my daughter’s face. I want to see her face and say, “You are pretty. You are beautiful.” If I wake up and see my daughter, I think I would fly. 
                                               ~~~~~~~~
(Angela lives in Jamaica. There is no social system there like the ones that exist in North America or in some European countries. Securing a job is difficult and securing one with impaired vision is almost hopeless. I hope you will open your hearts. I have set up a GoFundMe page for Angela and I ask that you share her story or contribute a small offering (5.00 or more) to help brighten Angela’s Christmas. My goal is to raise 500.00 so that Angela can buy some of the necessary things she needs for Christmas. 

This is the GoFundMe link to her page. And, if you know of an organization that can help Angela to regain her eyesight, please help. She has faith that a doctor can help restore her vision. Thank you.

Thank you for reading, sharing or giving.

Update
Thank you to everyone who shared this story, wrote a comment or gave a donation. We achieved our goal. Angela received the funds. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

The Eye Exam

Other than wearing glasses and having dry and itchy eyes sometimes, I don’t have other problems with my eyes. Yet, out of curiosity, I ask the optometrist to check my eyes after she examines my son’s eyes.

The optometrist does a general test. She asks me to return in the morning with my son to check the back of our eyes. The next morning, after examining my son’s eyes, she examines mine. Then she says, “You need to see a specialist immediately.”

She makes an appointment for me. I feel scared.

One week later, the eye specialist examines my eyes. Two days later, I return for my results. The specialist seems concerned.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.

“You have glaucoma.”

"What's glaucoma?"


"It's a buildup of fluid in your eyes and you could go blind. We need to take care of you and monitor you every month.” She prescribes Xalatan eye drops and recommends I learn vision impairment skills for precaution.

I have pigmentary glaucoma. My left eye pressure is 27 and my right eye pressure is 20. When I was young, I remember that some people in my family became blind, but they were in their 70’s or older. I thought they were blind because they were old. I’m 39. I don’t want to be blind like the people in my family. I hope the eye drops work.

Every day I look at things twice to see if I can really see. I worry my husband will leave me. I worry about my children. I want to make them happy, not depend on them. I want to see them do many things. Graduate from high school. Get married.  But, I must face the future and hope I will always have eyesight to guide my life and my children.

This is Alesha's story. I interviewed her. Alesha is not her real name. (I gave it to her because it means protected by God). She wants to keep her name private because her children does not know of her condition.
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Glaucoma info: http://www.kellogg.umich.edu/patientcare/conditions/glaucoma.html

A New Life


I was scared to ask my mother to provide items I needed to create an ecosystem for my high school science project. We did not have a good mother-daughter relationship. I learned that asking could result in a verbal assault that bullied me into a shell. I learned to ask for “necessary” things. A school project was not necessary.


I decided to create a marine ecosystem without my mother’s help. I knew a kid at church. I knew he had an aquarium. I knew he liked me. I knew I could get a fish from him.

I asked him for a fish for my science project and he gave me one. I do not remember how I got the other items, but I completed my marine ecosystem, which was a small jar with the fish, algae and sand.

After the exhibition, all the kids took their projects. I was scared to take mine home. How would I explain it to my mother? I left it at school.

A few weeks later, my teacher called me and said, “What do you intend to do with your fish? It is growing. It needs a bigger place or else it will die.”

“It’s OK to leave it there,” I said
.
“I’ll put it in the school’s aquarium for you.”

I felt happy. I did not think a fish from me was good enough to go into the school’s aquarium. For a while, I visited the fish almost every day. I felt good about myself. 

In retrospect, many people, like my teacher, have helped others to take the next step to keep going. My teacher’s deed stretched beyond the story of my fish. My teacher—consciously or subconsciously—gave me new life to be a better person than the one who was scared of her mother.

    --This is Judith Kerr's story -- I interviewed her.
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Image above taken from http://www.desktop-xp.com/free-aquarium-screensaver.html

Strong Enough to Live His Truth


It didn’t cross my mind. There was no pattern—if there should have been one. No, I had no idea. I thought puberty created the feelings of frustration, anxiety, and moodiness I had never seen.

As the body developed—bigger breasts—the shirts got bigger, and wider hips bought on discomfort that triggered the need to wear baggy pants. I used to wear baggy pants around that age, so I thought it was a tomboy thing.

Menstruation came with more anxiety. Then, with no particular style in mind, the long hair had to go.

One day, he said, “I don’t want to be a girl.”  

“OK.” I paused. “So… like… you don’t want your breasts.”

“Yes.”

“I need some time to process this,” I said.

I felt his pain, his frustration and the relief I could see in his eyes after he told me. I had to help him get through this. We went to therapy and everything made sense. Im thankful that life had me in a place where I could receive the information and address it. I cared about his well-being, his happiness.

I’m more aware of what could have happened if he didn’t tell me. Now, younger than the majority of his peers, he’s now in his first year, in university, in another country, and he’s receiving mainly A grades. ​He’s receiving testosterone hormone therapy to match his body to his gender identity.
 ​
I don’t want to come across as a saint, but I’m coping fine. My biggest regret is not being physically there with him, but I might have stifled him if I were there.

I don't necessarily mourn the loss of my daughter. This is more about acceptance. I accept him. I'm happy that I have a child who is strong enough to live his truth.
 ​
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(Interview conducted with the parent of a transgender child).

To learn more about this topic, click on the following links.


http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/-

  

Awaken My Soul



Awaken my soul
To bloom like a beautiful flower
That comforts others

"Captain of My Soul"

There are many things we do not know, things such as why some people endure more hardships than others do, even when they try in numerous ways to prevent the hardships. In an upcoming post, I will feature a story about a young woman who seemed to have endured personal difficulties higher than a mountain. Why?

William Ernest Henley wrote the poem "Invictus" when saddled with personal difficulties. Nelson Mandela read the poem when imprisoned. I ask you today to read the excerpt I have selected from the poem and share your beliefs with a comment. Thank you in advance.

“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”  - “Invictus” by   William Ernest Henley 

Do you control your fate and are you the leader of your soul?

Spread Sunshine




"Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others
  cannot keep it from themselves." James Barrie

Keep Moving Forward

 “If you can't fly then run, 
if you can't run then walk,
 if you can't walk then crawl, 
but whatever you do 
you have to keep moving forward.”
 – Martin Luther King Jr.


Not a Lab Error by Rosena Joseph


While most babies learn to support their necks in a short time, six-month-old Jordy’s neck folded and his chin flapped on his chest for support. I had mentioned the problem to the doctor each time I took Jordy for a medical check-up. The last visit the doctor blurted, “That could be a symptom of Down syndrome. I will submit a requisition to get some tests done.” I took Jordy to get the tests, but I brushed off the idea of Down syndrome because no one in my family had it.
The Friday, just before Easter, the phone rang. I picked it up.

“Is this Rosena?”
“Yes,” I said.
“I got the result. Your son tested positive for Trisomy 21.” 
“What!”
                                                
I collapsed in the chair. The doctor hung up the phone. Tears welled and flowed incessantly. Moments later, millions of questions flooded my mind. What will I do? How will I care for Jordy? This is unchartered territory for me. My heart flipped-flopped from love to anger. In the crevices of my mind, fear and fury collided. Someone made an error in the lab.

After the shock, I told my partner. We had three daughters. He was happy with Jordy’s birth because he now had a son. However, Jordy was not the son he wanted. After I told him Jordy had Down syndrome, he abandoned the family.

Other than a minor speech impediment, Jordy is smart and funny, loving and kind, athletic and authentic. He is musically inclined, an instrument of joy as he beat-boxes, sings and dances to the latest tune. Jordy shows and gives me love. He is a gift. A loving force so fitting for this universe.

Jordy, my son, is not a lab error.

Written by Rosena Joseph
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Down syndrome day was Saturday, March 21, 2015
To learn more about Down syndrome you can visit the National 




Meet Rosena Joseph. She makes her debut on Day Laughs Night Cries (DLNC) with her inspiring and touching story "Not a Lab Error." She is also a member of the DLNC team. See her bio here or to learn more about her and see her marathon costumes, click here.