Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Iraqi Family: Story Interrupted......

What you are is what you have been. What you'll be is what you do now. ~Buddha

First off to Everyone Who Cared for this Family,
I need to say Thank You, thank you for caring and giving with your hearts and reaching out to this family in need. I am so grateful to have met such giving people and such generous souls. I was raised by a granma that if you give with an open heart and give what is needed that you can help heal much pain in the world. I still really believe that.

Sadly the Story will remain one that has many loose ends and in many ways it is a Story Interrupted. Forces beyond me will create the ending and there will be no closure for me. I did not want to blog about this on my regular blog for safety reasons and also because it is more of a private matter, hence using my Other Blog.I also did not want to discuss any of this close to Christmas as it is heart tugging and sadly a darker tale than any of us could have known.

Mama and the Children were so very grateful for your caring and your gifts. Everything that everyone sent was delivered to them, every last shoe, sock, mitten, book, and crayon. And there were many deliveries, I went almost every day bringing them what was sent, often taking my little grocery cart stocked with blankets and pots and goodies. I was careful not to share addresses, but I always took a map and showed them Where on the Map -Which Americans sent what. I wanted them to understand that there are Warm Welcoming Americans all over the Country. In the end close to 100 people(many families) in Nine States helped take care of them. Everything was delivered, even the Complete New Baby Gift basket that had everything a New Baby needs down to itty bitty socks......Mama and the girls were so happy. Their eyes would shine brightly and gleam with wonder.

There were many trips there where all we did was work on English, naming everything in the apartment and they would try to teach me Arabic. And since I was horrible they would laugh and giggle. Other days I took them for much needed dental care and medical care and Mama for prenatal care. I also brought them many groceries and treats and tried to teach them about Holidays and American Rituals.

When it was stormy and the lights were out I brought them candles. When the baby and four of the children were sick I brought them all to the doctor and went and got them their antibiotics. And even managed to explain all of this to them in bumbling fashion how to give Breathing Treatments ( Home Nebulizer) and meds in different doses. And I even ran out at night and found a Steaming Humidifier for the baby when he was croupy. I did all of this because Mama clearly needed help. In many ways I felt like a Doting Auntie to them, and I did know that they left doting Granma's and aunties behind, so in some ways a void was filled for the family. And as much pain and loneliness as they had and have it was a void I willing adopted and understood. Other days we colored and Painted and I let them go through my bag looking for goodies. And Mama got to share of herself with sewing and cooking and photos. Bonds were formed.

I also thought that Daddy said he was trying to learn a trade, a mechanic skills, and he was rarely there. So I thought that since he was so focused that helping Mama and the children was a good thing. But I also knew that when he was around he was erratic, sometimes angry and volatile and not always rational. He was consistently disparaging of the Refugee agency and I constantly reinforced that the Agency was trying to help him get Settled and work through the whole Resettlement process.
I was worried did he suffer from a stress disorder, or was this normal stress. Should I learn more about the Resettlement Stress process ? I started researching Mental Health Issues for Refugees and also studying what was available to them for care and resources. Not only for Papa but for Mama and the Children.

I began to realize that as much as I was trying to nurture and care for all of them a Family of seven, that Papa was on his own trajectory. And his anger was all consuming and could not be negogiated at all times, and in some ways was not "New". The family was in stress. He "fired "all that tried to help him and also made clear that he would cut off contact for the mama and children whenever he wanted. Now some of this is cultural, but some of this is not. I would go there and it was clear no one was to eat until he gave permission or set the time. Other times there was not food, and he controlled the food ( as he controlled the "Card".) Other times I realized that the children and Mama were hiding what I brought them, when "gifts" and necessities cause anger, there is indeed Something very wrong. He would "fire" any translators that the Agency tried to provide. So I had to get very creative with Communication and find other ways for Mama and I to communicate. ( Computer and cellphone and reaching out to some Arabic Medical people proved incredibly important.). Also I realized that even simple things like Toilet paper and Soap were even under Papa's Control. That was when I realized that Something Was Very Wrong.

As an RN , A Nurse of many many years I have always been able to problem solve with other Team Members and even find Resources. But this situation quickly grew more worrisome. And yes I did understand that the home was not a happy home, that there were little people at stake, and Anger and Fear levels were of concern....As a nurse I did what was needed and tried to get help from the correct authorities and resources. I got Mama an emergency cellphone and I taught the children how to ask for help and who to trust. And I kept giving them much needed love and reassurance and many hugs....and that I was not just bringing them supplies and teaching them English, I was also bringing the "World" to them to their apartment.

The Anger filled Incidents became more frequent and not really safe for me even to go to the Home. I had to even be more and more careful to go there and not run into Papa. He also had his "friends" from the Mosque and Blackwater associates attempting to connect and monitor me on Facebook. And he made threats against me and my son, and even tried to come to my home. He was not rational enough to come to my home so he was not allowed in or near my home. Papa became more erratic and angry missing English classes and arguing with most trying to help the family.....Rent went unpaid and other services became problematic....

And yes eventually situations arose where I was concerned for Mama and the Children and yes, I stood up to him, you need to know that. And yes, this only made the situation worse for Mama and the Children. But I also taught those children that Men are not allowed to act Like That in this Country. It was a very ugly lesson, but I tried to teach those little girls that lesson with Courage and conviction.

But as Papa "Fired" more and more people, I knew at some point I would be cut off from them and removed from the Situation and that it would no longer be my choice to "help."...That his anger might even cause the children and Mama Misery. ( I found some of what I brought them ripped to shreds down by the Dumpster by their home.)

2 Weeks before Christmas he announced that I was no longer needed or wanted at their home and that HE was in charge of all Medical Care....And I made the decision with the Agency that it was indeed time for me to remove myself from the Situation. For exactly 2 months, I had seen them almost every single day, missing only three days. And I need to be clear that Mama had always asked me to come, that I had tried to respect their Lives and their Privacy....but that I also had tried with all of my being and an open heart and mind to help them Settle Here......But it all came to an Abrupt End...There were no Goodbyes.

So to Everyone I say Thank You and from Mama and the Children I give you much gratitude. I know they will never forget that Good Americans did reach out and care for them....and I ask that you keep them in your prayers and still send them Light and Love.

The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart. ~Buddha

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dear President Obama, A Letter about the Gulf Disaster..

"We are tied to the ocean and when we go back to the Sea, whether it is to sail or to watch,we are going back from whence we came."~ John F. Kennedy
Dear Mr.President,
Millions of us worked to get you elected. We worked for you because we believed that you were the kind of man that when Trouble came Knocking you would be up to the challenge. A man of wisdom, integrity,and a Man wise enough to have the Integrity to listen to Wisdom. There is Wisdom knocking on your door, and I worry you are not listening. Millions of Americans are watching the Disaster in the Gulf unfold. Many are Scientists who are worried about the Situation because they have the Wisdom to see what is going on and what it holds in the Future.

Millions of People need answers and assurances that your Leadership is committed to them, but placing BP in charge of the Disaster the message to the People is that BP a Corporation is more important than them. For the Gulf residents that were abandoned, shunned, lied to, exploited and mistreated during and after Katrina, your Leadership is Critical at this time. Instead they have been given a BP hotline for everything for Dead Oiled Carcasses, Fume Reports and Questions about Seafood. And they have watched BP lie about the Gusher and yet they are supposed to call BP for wounded animals ? And they see that EPA is working with BP while hundreds of thousands of gallons of Toxic Dispersant are poured into their gulf. Yet has your administration reached out to the Fishermen , the Shrimpers, the Workers in the Gulf ? Have you offered them relief and Programs for this situation ? ( Again FEMA, National Guard, HLS have been sparingly sparsely committed and silently deployed) This is your moment to historically provide Aid and relief.

So far those Scientists have had no avenue to share their concerns and their skills. They have merely been tossed the BP phone number and told to leave a message. In this kind of Crisis Energy, Vision and Scientific Expertise should be harnessed and utilized. There are Scientists who have worked to protect the Gulf for years and now they would problem solve to save it or try to save what is left of it. ( Woodshole, Oceanography Programs across the Country, Engineering Programs ).Scientists who work with National Geographic and Sierra Club, NWF, NRDC etc all have people who have studied and prepared and protected Ecosystems for years they are not compromised by Greed of Oil Laden ambitions.

You have been given your first American Disaster of Epic Proportions and it was created by Corporate greed and mistakes.Yet the Company that is Responsible for the Disaster is still controlling the Crime Scene. 11 Good Men died in an Explosion and yet instead of hearing that the Justice Department is Investigating Americans are told that BP is now in charge of the Disaster. Can you see how unjust and corrupt that appears to Americans ? I have read the Justice Department is in NOLA,but you as President need to Announce that the Justice Department is investigating this Event and the Oil Slick.

Your Administration and even you should be giving Daily or bi-daily Briefings with NOAA, Coast Guard and EPA and DHHS issuing accurate Unbiased Uncompromised information regarding this Oil Slick. Hurricane Season is fast upon us, and this is your chance to help people prepare and work together to prevent panic and distress.

Mr.Gibbs has been mishandling the Pressers, mocking and dismissing Reporters concerns.Yet the Press Corps has been asking the same questions as millions of Americans have been asking. You need to acknowledge this anger, this frustration and angst. Americans watched on their TVs on May 18th when a CBS reporter was threatened with arrest for photographing Marshland Slime. The Reporter was told by a Coast Guard official that "BP is in charge". In that moment millions of Americans had their worst fear confirmed. BP not only owns the Disaster, they own the Gulf and Our Government Supports and Condones BP being in charge of this Disaster. The Message was that the Government has submitted Power to BP. And the Presser with Gibbs on the 20th and 21st confirmed this fear.

The Press needs to be able to report, interview Scientists, Fishermen, Residents and to take photos of the Dead Animals, the Damaged Gulf. This Crisis needs transparency and honesty and action. Silence will only be construed as part of the BP Coverup at this point. After numerous Coverups under the Bush Administration and 8 years of Lies, Americans are smart enough to KNOW they want Honesty and Leadership during this Disaster. We need you to do the Right Thing Now, Declare it a National Emergency.

Just a Mom, Nurse,.....

( mailed and posted to White House Blog May 22,2010 Day 32 of the Gulf Disaster )

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Why the Gulf Matters To Me......

I have been trying to Blog and Tweet about the Gulf and the Oil Disaster, I have been trying to post Information, Science, Facts, videos and updates. I have tried to approach it clinically like a very sick patient, keeping my emotions to a minimum. Yet as it is now Day 32, my emotions are getting in the way. My Memories are getting in the way. My Longings and those memories are now haunting me and distracting me from my mission of blogging with clarity.

As a nerdish liberal child I grew up in a VERY Republican family. Yet the year I turned 11 we started spending much time in Florida on the Gulf of Mexico. Partly because my grandmother was moving there due to health problems. It was partly because my parents bought a condo at a bargain price and all vacations and summers were then spent there. By the summer I was 12 I was grossly absorbed with the Watergate Break In and then the following summer it was the Watergate Hearings. I was absorbed with spending hours walking the white sands and watching tide pools and touching shells and hermit crabs and other Sea Wonders. I was spellbound by the wonders of the Gulf, the beautiful azure waters against the White Sands with the number of Birds swooping overhead and Sunsets that transformed my soul.

Going to the Gulf was my Escape , but it was also very much where I found myself as I moved from childhood to Adulthood. It was where I was allowed to have compassion and hope. I sat on the Beach watching the Birds and wrote. I participated in Turtle Counts and Bird Counts. Where silent observations was a valuable gift. The Island where were , Sanibel was devoted to the Preservation of so many animals,buildings limited in a height and a Preserve ( Ding Darling) that was beautiful. Every year the Turtles come to lay their eggs and then the eggs hatch and the Turtles would return to the Sea. As a young teen I hollowed out a hole on the beach with another Teen and with special Goggles and Binoculars we observed this Beautiful Event. And we sat and wrote our notes in the Dark of the Night. And in the Morning we touched the gentle trails left in the sand with awe.

When I was 12 my mother went out and told us to stay home and read. But the Gulf was beautiful and I had just passed my LifeSaving classes. So I did what an obstinate lonely teen would do, I went swimming . And on the 3rd Sand bar I stood up and admired the beautiful gleaming sea. When I stood up I felt the water move not far from me and realized there were "Finned Fish" moving my me. Three of them. My first thought was "Oh no, My mother will be right and I will be eaten by Sharks because she was right." I didn't have my glasses on, I am legally blind without glasses, so I really had to breath deep and calm down and try to assess the situation. I stood very still barely breathing and then I realized as one got very close that it was a Dolphin and that up close they really do look like they are smiling....And I did the Unthinkable, I reached out very slowly and very gently and tenderly touched the closest one. It was so smooth, gentle and cool to my hand. It did not back off or go away but circled around again. They circled about and dove with each other clearly playing and clearly enjoying showing off. It was the most mystical magical moment I have ever had. It took my breath away.

To this day, the memory is so clear even though I had impaired vision I can close my eyes and still see them and their dipping and diving and beautiful graceful swimming. It moved me and inspired me in way that I can not explain. Through the years up until I was married I would return to the Island when I need respite or a break from School or Nursing Life or Wretched Boyfriends. It was where I sought solace. The Island and the Gulf was magical....It was healing..Grounding. It would be where I would lifeguard, write, read too much and learn to sail. It would be where I would learn so much.

There would later be other trips to other parts of the Gulf and the Coast, And in many ways it is true that I am Home when I am by the Sea- Always. But the Gulf and Sanibel was where I wanted to take my son one day, so I could show him the Wonders. And these past few years as I lost so many skills and physical strength I have always wanted to go back, as it is the one place that remains Home, accepting and full of Light. I am mad at myself now that I did not get my son there now. I am worried about the Fishermen and all of the Creatures.....the birds ...the Turtles and the Dolphins and so many more....I have learned over these past few years that Time is a Gift. But I did not realize how fragile Something so beautiful could be...and now it may be out of Time.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Praying for the Miners....Performance Mine Explosion

Natalie Merchant "Which Side are you on " ( Song by Miner Wife Florence Reece and she wrote this while her husband fought for the rights of the Miners to Unionize it's a poignant song ...many in the Appalacian Mts know this song....)

Thursday April 8th AM : Rescue Crews will enter mines early this AM to search for four missing miners...

Los Angeles Times | April 8, 2010 | 12:45 a.m.
Rescue crews going back into mine.Rescue crews are expected to enter the Upper Big Branch mine early Thursday to search for four miners who are unaccounted for following the devastating explosion that killed 25 miners on Monday, federal mine safety officials announced.Four teams of eight men each will wear breathing devices and ride and walk up to five miles underground. They will attempt to reach two air-tight safety chambers, about 2,500 feet apart, where officials hope the miners were able to reach if they survived the explosion.It could take the teams two to three hours to reach the chambers, depending on the amount of debris they encounter, officials said.

((Enigma note: it took 5 Drilled Boring holes to let the gases out...and to reach safe levels for Search&rescue crews re-enter the mines. Sadly today the MSM will all be focused in the Tiger Golf match, I hope instead they will cover the Miners, especially as these brave Rescuers re-enter the mines. It is still a very dangerous mission to search for the four and also plan the recovery of the bodies of the other 25. The Families of this community need their loved ones brought out.))
Coal Miner Daughter.....Dorthea Lange

For many years I have posted this has always been one of my favorites...the girl is young and aged all at once and her face holds prayers and worries....that only the Mines can give a face.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Winter Blues.....

I am fighting winter blues...or trying to.....I have been trying to write everyday....listen to music and am teaching myself French....hopefully that will get me through about 6 more weeks of Winter...hopefully...
I love this video....a little music...a little dancing....and we can pretend we are in Paris.....

Hazy Shade of Winter.....

Friday, January 08, 2010

Art That Heals....

Over Christmas I decided to try a totally new craft...I have plenty of broken dishes that need a new purpose in life....I was inspired by a wonderful woman named Rebecca York, she makes the most amazing Glass Mosaics, her website and her creations and her story are linked to the title, she has an amazing story of how her beautiful art came to will inspire you....move you and her mosaics are so beautiful.....

( the photo is my mosaic that I made over Christmas, I put it in my bedroom window...and it is so much better to have some color against the snow...)
Another little nesting Coffee Table for the TV room...Old Sunflower lamp (thrown out in 2007-acquired and was originally a Bird Bath in back garden....but now I have brought it inside so it won't freeze and put an old garden stepping stone on it- and touched up the paints....Just the right size to sit a cuppa something warm...

(Music has been important these past few weeks too...Breathe Hands to heaven is one such song.....)
And maybe a little Duran Duran,Save a Prayer ....
Spice Girls... a sentimental favorite...dedicated to the two girls we fostered long ago....
More ...
Just Breathe...another version...
And some Toto with Micheal McDonald ...