Archives for category: Inspiring

ote:  Esther:  My husband died November 2014, and I faded out of my SorryGnatWorldCitizen blog; I am still a sorry gnat on the spiritual path of becoming a giant eagle, but measurement of who I am these days is not my quest.  I am still connected to TC, a privilege I feel, and am posting her latest newsletter.  I noticed in the LA Times today, someone got 23 years for murder, and TC and her mom, have been in prison for ever; her stepfather abused her forever, but she and her mom, Barbara, didn’t receive battered woman status.  Prayers are the best thing when all seems hopeless.  She’s spunky, and is amazing I think.

The Uncaged Voice

4th QTR, November 2015

Dear Family of Friends,Has it really been nearly a year since last Christmas? They say that time flies when you‘re aving fun. I reckon it also flies when you‘re not counting the days, but instead, counting your blessings. We have more than we can count, and then very recently, had one that is the equivelent of the cherry on top. I‘m referring to the attorney and law professor that agreed to defend Mom‘s case pro bono! Who said that lightning doesn‘t strike twice? We beg to differ. This is Mom‘s second pro bono attorney, but technically, it is the third one to look at the case on her behalf. We believe this third time is a charm, and well, things are looking up!

This is the season of gratitude, and hopefully more love and humanity, and less violence. This is when people stop to actually focus deeply on what they have, more than on what they do not. What we are most grateful for is all of the family of friends who embrace us from across the miles with a letter in the mail. We are so blessed to have such angels in our lives, and we can never thank you enough. That connection to the free world makes all the difference. Each one of you, in r own way, makes a world of difference.

Thank you so very, very much.Love, Peace, and Light,TC and Mama ‚P‘

Prison Lingo

For those in the free world, you may sometimes be a little unclear on what we‘re talking about if we don’t explain our prison lingo. We usually do explain our use of such slang or shorthand but there are times when we are simply on a roll in our letter and neglect to be more informative. So here’s a little Prison Lingo 101.

BPH: Board of Parole Hearings, a.k.a. The Parole Board. When I say I’ll waive my BPH for two years, I mean I will request to not hold my parole hearing for two years.

ADA: It could mean Assistant District Attorney or Americans With Disabilities Act, depending in the context.

AD-SEG: Administrative Segregation, or The Hole.

805: The building number for the infirmary.

OTC: Out to court; transferred back to county jail.

OTM: Out to medical; transported to medical office or facility in the local community for treatment.

C/O: Correctional officer.

I/M: Inmate, as in I/M Paulinkonis

C/C: A double classification called “c-over-c” – basically punishment status for the I/M‘s who don‘t want to work, keep testing dirty for drugs, or are habitual behavioral problems for staff.

LTOPP: Long Term Offender Pilot Program. It is provided to I/M lifers 2-3 years prior to next BPH hearing           

Q & A with T.C.

 Q) Why waive your BPH for 2-3 more years? Couldn‘t you do more for Mom from the outside if paroled?

A) Everyone believes that, but I have carefully evaluated the facts, options, and worst case scenario. I can do more for Mom once I go OTC to begin a new trial. There is evidence that we haven’t openly discussed in letters on this format, but please people, I know what I’m doing. Everyon’‘s hearts are in the right place and so is mine. Once I am released, I’d never be truly free until my mother is released too. A new trial means new evidence and exposure of exculpatory facts that BPH and the DA hid for years. Parole is not an option.

Q) But, wouldn’t you have more benefits on parole?

A) Yes, That and a lifetime leash. My being paroled does not help Mom. If it doesn’t help Mom, it’s not an option.

Q) Okay, so what are your options, released without parole?

A) The short answer is that I’ve done a lot of research. I have sent out inquiries, many not acknowledged with the courtesy of a response. The good news is that I found a re-entry for only seniors aged 50 and over. Being that we are fed up with Romper Room on drugs around here, we’d love a place strictly for real adults. I wrote the Executive Director and await a response.                                                        * *   

A.R.C.‘s Ride Home Program

The Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) is formed of mostly formerly incarcerated people. ARC sends ex-felons to California state prisons to pick-up long-termer parolees on their release date. Long termers are people who’ve served ten or more years while the outside word has changed. ARC reduces culture shock.

I read about ARC in The New York Times Magazine and I agree that such a program needs to exist. The parolee is met at the prison release area by a couple of guys, ex-cons themselves, who offer the parolee a cell phone to call home, and a ride to a restaurant where they can be served a hot meal without having to stand in a line to get it, or be threatened if they get up out of their seat until told it’s time to leave. For the long termer, that goes against the conditioned behavior that has been instilled in them for years, day after day. They need to relearn life, free and in public, and ARC is there to help them do just that.

The two-man team of ARC drivers take the parolee to the DMV to get a photo I.D. card, and to a nearby department store to get new clothes. The parolee doesn‘t have to touch the $200 gate money they were given. ARC gradually inches the parolee back into the free world during the day trip, before dropping them off at their destination, usually a re-entry program.

This ride home program is currently only for male drivers to pick-up male parolees. That led me to ask why not a female driver to pick-up female parolees? And the light grew brighter! I am in the process of contacting an attorney who is one of the ARC board members who was responsible for helping all non-violent Third Striker inmates released in the aftermath of 2012 changes in law. I want to ask him that question, but more importantly, I want to ask why not me? He teaches law at Stanford University, and well, why not me? Why not a ride home or to a re-entry facility for women who’ve been locked away while engineers taught cars to drive themselves? It’s a whole new world out there and women need reduced culture shock too. Where I see a need I see a purpose. Time for some equality. I am woman – hear me roar!

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Beauty Tips by Audrey Hepburn

Ms. Hepburn wrote this piece when asked to share her own beauty tips. It was read years later at her funeral. Thank you to Carol Rischette for sharing with us, now we can share with others. Here are words to live by.

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.            For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.            For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.            For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.            For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others

tear

Army of Woman await their men’s return from Baghdad

Troop Day by Sally M. McNeil (USMC)

Troop Day was held at CCWF on 10 Oct 15 by the Veterans Support Group (VSG) and Dependents Support Group (DSG). It was planned many months in advance, and my day began at 0500 hours.

VSG and DSG planned Troop Day to honor the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). We planned a PFT (Physical Fitness Training) for the women who wanted to participate. Think Boot Camp. Each participant had to complete as many push-ups and sit-ups as they could in two minute test times each. Once that was done, they took to the track for a two mile run, seeking their personal best. Some struggled on the PFT, and some plowed through it like the warriors they could have been.

The PFT is meant to keep soldiers conditioned and physically fit to withstand going to war, in the deserts of the Middle East, jungles of Vietnam, or the mountains of Afghanistan. It takes endurance to fight in a war. They don’t cancel a war because it’s a scorching 133°F or a chilling -22°F. Wars are fought seven days a week for 24 hours a day. Holidays are not observed or honored by the enemy. They‘ll attack when we’re not ready, so you have to have three shifts a day for 24 hours of surveillance. It is the assurance that the enemy cannot sneak up and attack at the dawn of a day.

Conditioning is important along with support from the American people. As prisoners, we may be incarcerated, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that we still love our country and are proud of the branch of service that we represent and served in.

I was in the United States Marine Corps for 11 years. I served my country honorably, and CDCR can never take that away from me. Being a Marine prepared me to endure 20 years of imprisonment. I‘ve kept myself conditioned and do my time like a prisoner of war. I will survive my incarceration due to my military discipline and training.

I am a Three Blue Star Mom. All three of my children have been to war. My son, John Jr., is a Green Beret who has been to Afghanistan three times. My daughter has been to both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She had to leave her son with my niece as she went off to honorably fight for our country. My children were welcomed back with wonderful greetings from the press. However, that did not happen for my three uncles who fought in the Vietnam War. Because of this, I painted a yellow ribbon to respectully welcome back all Vietnam veterans. The back-drop of the ribbon was cammoflauge in an array of green, brown, black and beige. It was displayed in the gym during Troop Day for everyone to see … and reflect upon.

For me personally, Troop Day meant thanking the VFW‘s Vietnam vets. They were given a hard time when they returned from the war. I want to thank all of the veterans who did not receive a hearty welcome back home to their land of the e. God bless them, and God bless the U.S.A.Thank Veteran’s for Giving Day

It‘s not a day off of work or school to play video games or to finally reorganize your spice rack.

It‘s not just another day on the calendar. Veteran’s Day is a day of remembrance and gratitude. It’s a day to mourn the loss of lives cut down in their prime, or to have a sincere empathy for those still alive but forever changed. It’s a day to not take their personal sacrifices for granted.

Some came home but far too many didn’t. Sadly, there are those still fighting the battles in their minds. It isn’t like a bad day at the beach. It isn’t a forgotten memory. They remember. We need to remember them. Even if it is only to say a prayer, go on; God is listening. For those who can, visit woundedwarrior.org and give what you can. They need us.

Is it any wonder that in November, Thanksgiving falls just two weeks after Veteran’s Day? Let that be one of your reasons to celebrate – the service of our military personnel. They certainly deserve to be appreciated and remembered.

Ed. Note: Wounded Warrior has come under criticism for the limited amount of their funds that they spend to directly support veterans. Please consider researching other reliable organizations to send donations.

 

 

 

 

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… And I Am Grateful

 

Somewhere on the streets of Guatemala there is a ragged child who hasn’t eaten since yeasterday. The pain of their growling stomach is only one of several stages in starvation, something they know all too well.

Somewhere along the Ivory Coast, a man can feel the warmth of the day fade away, ebbing from daylight as the sun begins to set. He cannot see the blend of yellow and orange hues that paint the sky, his vision long gone from wounds suffered in a bloody civil war.

Reading a discarded issue of National Geographic, I see the vivid reality of childen without shoes, I see someone who must carry heavy barrels of river water to their mud hut, I see faces of people who truly know what it is  to live a hard life.

And I feel grateful.

Somewhere, there’s a woman wrinkled by time who weeps over the ashes of a war that has taken good men from her family, and some grandchildren too.

In the ruins of Syria, innocent people trying to escape inevitable death by terrorism scrape together what little they have in order to seek a new life in Europe. Some cannot afford the life vests to protect their childen for the desperate sea voyage but they risk the challenge all the same. And children become another statistic taken by the sea – innocent and so young.

With tears in my eyes, I am grateful.

In many places across America there are people trapped by floods or hikers lost in the wilderness because they took a wrong turn. Perhaps a child sleeping on the couch is struck by a drive-by bullet and hangs on in the ICU. So much misfortune, so much pain, loss, and inhumanity. It all makes me that much more grateful to live the life I’m living.

I‘m not saying that I’d want to re-live my entire childhood or this prison experience all over again if I had the chance not to. But I cannot deny that both have made me more resilient for what lies ahead. My experience has given me a strength that I otherwise would not have. I am a better, stronger woman for the journey. It has introduced each of you into our lives, and we would not want to erase that. And with heartache, with life’s struggles, wounds and scars, character is born. I am a better daughter, friend, and confident for the entire experience.

And for all of that, I am grateful.

 

To Quote a TV Show 

One of the television shows I watch is Madam Secretary. On the October 25th episode, the daughter of the Secretary was caught up in a scandal. Apparently, she made the mistake of taking selfies of her boyfriend (The President’s son), and herself in bed. A former secret service agent out to avenge being fired took possession of the lost cell phone that held the photos and not only released one risky photo to the media but also threatened to release the rest if not paid handsomely not to. Once he was caught, the daughter of The Secretary wanted 15 minutes alone with the guy. Clearly, she had something to say.

The two were put in a room where she broke the ice by asking about his family. She asked questions about him. He answered politely, but then finally he said, “Look, I don’t know what you want from me.” She looked him in the eye and ever so calmly replied, “I just wanted to get to know you better. I didn’t want to reduce you to the one bad decision you had made.“ Something he had done to her.

I grabbed a pen and wrote those lines down. I love a good quote and this was enormous! Those words spoke volumes about each and every one of you who have met us only through the written word and not yet in person. It spoke directly to my heart. Thank you to each of you who took the time to get to know us better and did not reduce us to the one bad decision I made on New Year’s Eve, 1988. And thank you for letting us in return get to know yyou. Thank you.

From The Heart 

Years ago, I heard another quote but I cannot recall where I heard it. I only know that I wrote it down:

“What hurts us the most, that’s where we find our strength – that’s what keeps us going.” 

Words to live by.

Some of you tell me how impressed you are by my strength to carry on after all we’ve been through. Some are even more surprised at my tolerance and patience with the long, drawnout process of this appeal for a new trial. Many have told me that they’d have lost patience by now. So, how do I do it? What hurt me is what keeps me going. He’s not allowed to win every battle, even in death. My stepfather is not allowed to define my character by his own flaws.

First of all, I’m really in no big hurry to leave Mom here alone without me. I do have to leave at some point but I‘m not in a hurry. I’m on God’s timetable, not my own. If I had the choice to rush into court for a new trial clear back in say, 2005, I would not have been as ready as I am now, nor would I have the evidence that questions the DA’s integrity. So yes, God knew what He was doing all along. The DA thinks that they are running the show, but I know better.

I have the will to face down the dragon. I don’t know how to give up, so quitting was never an option. I kept the faith, allowed hope into my heart, ran with patience the race before me, and well, like the song says, “I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.” I can relate deeply to the lirics in :Fight Song:”

Like a small boat, on the ocean            Sending big waves, into motion            Like how a single word, can make a heart open            I may only have one match, but I’ll make an explosion            This is my fight Song, take back my life song            Prove I’m alright song, my power’s turned on            I don’t care what no one else believes –            I still got a lot of fight left in me!

So, I say from the heart to you – my strength come from a power greater than myself. My willingness to face demons from the past and ressurecting old ghosts is all part of doing what this girl has got to do. And yes, it would be a badge of honor to hear them say, “You fight like a girl.” Your darn right I do. Right into the New Year and beyond! Its’ time to fight lik a girl!

Happy Christmas & New Year,TC and Mama P

Teresa Paulinkonis                                                                  Pauline (Barbara) Paulinkonis

W45118     513-5-3U                                                             W45120     513-5-3L.O. Box 1508                                                             P.O. Box 1508

Chowchilla, CA 93610                                                           Chowchilla, CA 93610

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Life Apart – L. Y. Marlow 9780307719393

A Life Apart

L. Y. Mar

This is a historical novel dealing with race, World War II, specifically Pearl Harbor, relationships of the black and white kind, and a love story. The title A Life Apart implies to the reader more than one meaning. The author is indeed a , and as she takes us deeper and deeper into the novel, complexities of other families, life of African-Americans, how they differ, and a coming to love. It’s gentle, and it’s a story about love, about skin color privilege and hatred, and human beings caught on the corners or jagged edges of history’s transitions. I’m from Boston, and went to secretarial school in Roxbury. I was born a little before World War II, and grew up in the suburbs of Boston. I was oblivious to racial prejudice until I came to California in 1992, discovered the Baha’i Faith and the concept of the oneness of humankind.This book is important. There are no strident notes or harsh retaliations to the way whites treated our fellow African-Americans (grievously, beyond measure), and the author writes about these times, which are exceedingly important. If we are to know and love each other, and realize skin color is an illusion, we have to know of our insides, our hurts, our triumphs, frailties and joys. A Life Apart is a compelling story, and it works on many levels. I definitely recommend it. I read this book because I signed up for Blogging for Books, a worthy adventure in itself. Otherwise I might have missed A Life Apart. My life is enriched because of reading this. I think readers will hear more from L. Y. Marlow. She is also author of Color Me Butterfly, which I intend to track down as soon as I finish this review. Kudos to this writer! Thanks again Blogging for Books!

<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17324149-my-mother-s-voice&#8221; style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”My Mother’s Voice” border=”0″ src=”https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1359982576m/17324149.jpg&#8221; /></a><a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17324149-my-mother-s-voice”>My Mother’s Voice</a> by <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/614105.Kay_Mouradian”>Kay Mouradian</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/886920404″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
<br>I met Kay Mouradian at a very crowded Author’s Day in Pasadena.  Their first such event.  We all had assigned spots at tables and then were free to wander to meet fellow writers.<br><br>My Mother’s Voice is a profound book and a must read.  Of course, it was a gripper, but perhaps that word shows a paucity of feeling;so many people go through such terrors, abuse, genocide, and in the western World, some of us can become numb to these conditions or simply are unable to read about any kind of suffering.<br><br>Nobility and anonymity are huge themes in my life, and I read about these people, always giving me a higher and higher standard to attain.  Then, become mine.  We have a history laden with heroes and heroines amidst the chaos of a world destined to come of age.<br><br>This is one such book.  My Mother’s Voice.  I haven’t checked amazon, Alibris for it, but its ISBN 978-1-4525-6169-1, Balboa Press, a Division of Hay house. This has received Honorable mention as a documentary and considered Best Documentary at a film festival in Toronto.<br><br>
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<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

imagesCAUFKWM11359165214-protest-at-holloway-prison-supports-women-prisoners-rights_1750354The Uncaged Voice
4th QTR, 2013
Available free upon request at: elayneclift@gmail.com

Dear Family and Friends:
So much has happened this year, the fourth quarter is already here! We have been grateful for every blessing, and each of you is counted twice. Thank you for joining us on this journey of hope, faith, change, and personal growth.
In this issue, we asked a few inmates to write about their personal journey, with emphasis on the positive. We are very grateful for their willingness to be honest and forthcoming, using this forum as a stage to share from. One woman in particular requested that her identity be confidential, and as always, I will honor that.
I understand that many have questions about how my parole hearing with the BPH went on September 11th so I wrote a summary report that I hope makes the realities of that experience absolutely clear. It would not be clear without a little history that led to the decision; therefore, I included that, as not all readers have been privy to the facts.
As always, we hope this edition finds you doing well, safe from harm, and embracing each day as the gift that it is. We are grateful for your support, and ask that you continue to share this publication in any way available to you, even on Facebook, blogs, etc. Knowledge is to be shared. Each writer is a living testimony, as they too celebrate their uncaged voice.
Namaste,
TC & Mama P
SB-260 Update
When California Senator Loni Hancock introduced the Senate bill, SB-260, in March 2013, she knew it would be a battle. The bill recognized that juvenile offenders differ from adult offenders, mainly due to the lack of brain maturation. Hancock pushed this bill because she believed in experts like Lawrence Steinberg and advocates such as Human Rights Watch, who were speaking out about the barbarism in sentencing youth under the age of 18 to lengthy life sentences in adult prisons. I’ll refer to them as JOSAA.
SB-260 passed on May 20, 2013 by a vote of 27:11, and again on July 2, 2013 in the Public Safety Committee by a 4:2 vote. Whew! The big vote on September 6, 2013 by Assembly members was 51:21 in favor of passage. We’re happy to report that Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill on September 16, 2013.
This does not mean that all juvenile offenders will automatically be released. It simply means that there will be an opportunity to be found suitable sooner than they would have using the adult matrix set term protocol. The matrix is determined by case factors. So far this is what we know:
• Any JOSAA with 15 years or more will be eligible for parole after 15 years, but only by a special BPH panel.
• Those serving life sentences will be eligible after having served the base term of their actual crime; this means minus the enhancements that got stacked on top.
• Adults don’t begin life term until they enter state prison, which means county time does not really count at first until after found suitable. JOSAAs will begin their life sentence or determinate term from the day of initial arrest and incarceration. All time credit counts.
o Example: A 16 year old, sentenced to 25 years-to-life for homicide, plus an additional 10 years for a gun enhancement, is received in prison in 1998. Her time begins at arrest in 1996, with the 20 year base of the life term, minus the enhancement. In other words, she is eligible for parole in 2016 instead of 2028.
For more information on SB-260 go to http://www.hrw.org or call Elizabeth Calvin: 310-477-5540. Thank you so much for all of your support in passage of this vital bill. Everyone who helped made the difference. Thank you!
Not Everything About Prison is Negative, by Cora Murry
My story begins on August 3, 2003 when I arrived at prison a very angry person. When I was sentenced to 24 years, I thought it was the end of the world. It seemed like a lifetime away. I had only one thought and that was to make a name for myself behind these walls. Fighting was an outlet for my anger until my dear friend, Shawn, reprimanded me. She bluntly got my attention with “Cora, you’re not going to succeed like that! What about our plans?” At that moment, the light came on. It was clear that if I was going to make it in here I wouldn’t get very far by fighting. From that day forward I managed more control over my emotions and began planning for my future.
About eight months later I obtained a job on the yard crew. I performed my duties so well that I was recommended for a seamstress job at my facility yard clothing room. All I knew about sewing was what little I had gained from watching my mother years earlier. However, I accepted the job offer to stay on course with reaching my ultimate goal of working at Joint Venture. In order to achieve that goal I needed to build a strong resume. I was hired as the clothing room seamstress.
After doing well in that job for six months I applied for a position at PIA Fabric, a warehouse setting very similar to the 1920s sweatshops. I was quickly hired but the position required that I move from B-yard to C-yard, leaving the very peers who had mentored me to that point. It was scary relocating like that, but I adapted to new people, roommates, and the yard change in general. If nothing else, prison forces adaptation and you can either resist or go with it, and in this case, it was a new path toward my goal. I left the seamstress job at $36/month for the PIA job at $75/month. My goal at that time was to receive my five cent an hour raises every three months in order to raise my earnings to upwards of $100/month. Given all of the overtime and Saturdays that I worked I was well on my way.
I added being a WAC member to my responsibilities. WAC stands for Women’s Advisory Council. I became a voice for the women who couldn’t, or simply did not know how, to speak up for their prison rights. I spent one year doing this, keeping myself busy with as many positive activities as possible. Life was good by prison standards – until May 5, 2004.
I had done well for myself and was reaching goal after goal. Then I received the call that every prisoner fears, which is to report to your counselor’s office for a personal phone call. That was the day that my family informed me that my beloved mother, Alma Murry, had passed away. My flame began to flicker as I felt the oxygen leave my body. I had never been more crushed. I cried for three straight days in my solitude of bereavement, and then I knew that I had to make a decision. I could pick myself up and move forward or rebel in my pain, losing my job while other inmates waited to fill my position. I did exactly what my mother would have wanted me to do: I pushed forward, refocusing on my goal anew. I didn’t quit.
Exactly one year later, on the anniversary of my mother’s death, I was hired at my prison dream job: Allwire Electric Company, operated under the prison title of Joint Venture. I had made it! I went from one goal to the next until I reached my then ultimate goal. I started at the legal minimum wage as opposed to pennies on the dollar and did well for three years until 2008, when 15 others and I were laid off due to reduced work production. Still, I’m grateful for all that I learned.
My next goal is to be hired at PIA Dental. I earned my GED on August 5, 2013 and now intend to pursue my AA degree. It hasn’t been easy but I’m living proof that hard work and dedication does hold priceless rewards. In sharing my story, I hope my message is loud and clear: a lot of positive things can be achieved in life, even in a place like prison. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved thus far, but I’m still a work-in-progress. You can do anything you set your mind to, and like me, you too can be your own success story.
What Happened?!?
There are a good many of our friends scratching their heads, trying to wrap their brains around what happened at my parole suitability hearing on September 11, 2013. Given my positive prison record and impressive C-file, many cannot grasp the idea that not only was I denied parole for three more years, but that I asked the panel to permit me to stipulate to such a decision. I will do my best to explain how that sort of thing happens.
First, we need to time travel backwards to the year 2005 when my first suitability hearing was held. Prior to any hearing, all lifers must submit to a psychological evaluation that not only digs into their past but assesses their risk for recidivism likelihood. The BPH relies on these reports, providing them with the professional opinion of a licensed psychologist, which carries a lot of weight in that room. I had 602’d the report for its inaccurate assumptions and biased declarations that I have since proven false, but my 2005 hearing was held with that 2005 analysis used heavily against me. I learned something that year: I learned to fight lies with real evidence. But, what lies?
My interview with Dr. Hartung had lasted all of 45 minutes, with three phone call interruptions, one of which was so private he had me step out of the room for about seven minutes. I had answered questions about my childhood including the ugly truth of abuse. I explained how when I was five years old I was a chronic bed-wetter and my parents had me see a doctor to fix the problem. I told him, “They scheduled me for surgery. A surgery that was not necessary, because I didn’t have a bladder problem; I was wetting the bed on purpose to keep my stepfather out of it. The smell of urine appalled him, so even at five years old I had figured out a way to protect myself.”
In his report, however, Dr. Hartung had said that I had completely fabricated the story about the surgery. He wrote that not only is such a surgery for chronic bed-wetting unheard of at such a young age, but that I was narcissistic to think that I could manipulate him into believing the story of a conspiracy against me by my parents and the doctor for this unnecessary surgery. I never said it was unnecessary in the cruel sense of a conspiracy. I said it was unnecessary because I was wetting the bed on purpose to keep my stepfather out of it.
Oh, it gets better.
During our interview, on at least three occasions, he asked me if I had ever set fires or tortured animals. I was annoyed when he asked the third time. I’m in prison for killing my stepfather, yes, but I’m not a serial killer, for Pete’s sake! However, in the printed report, the good doctor based part of his claim that I lied about the sexual abuse on the fact that I had denied being an arsonist or sadist. I was raised to respect other people’s property and everyone knows I love animals. I don’t know what textbook he got his theory from, but not all incest and rape survivors resort to arson and sadistic acts of animal torture.
In a nutshell, he called me a sociopathic, narcissistic, antisocial liar without empathy or remorse. He called me a freakin’ liar! I was so outraged to have my voice shoved to a dark corner like that I decided to put that anger to good use. Instead of acting out, I responded with a mission to prove that Dr. Hartung’s report wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. I had to find the evidence, so I wrote every hospital in the Bay area until I obtained my medical records, and I had the proof staring me in the face. I not only had records of what led up to the surgery and the surgery itself, but other medical records that, had my trial attorney done this research before the 1992 trial, the jury would have had an entirely different perspective. Armed with those documents, I was actually grateful that Dr. Hartung set my anger on fire because it sent me into action. No survivor likes to be called a liar. As a matter of fact, it is that very fear that prevents most victims from speaking out. It takes guts and raw courage to speak up and it is almost condemning to not be believed when you do. Thank God I was already ten years into my recovery when that happened; otherwise I may have just shut down. However, I had found my voice. I didn’t shut down. And I didn’t shut up.
In 2008 I had a roommate named Echo who advised me that I could put a free ad in the Craig’s List website to draw attention to our case. We certainly couldn’t afford legal counsel so I thought, why not place an ad? I asked Steve and Carolyn to place the ad for me and they did, using their email address for responses. There were several hits which eventually led to my mother and I both gaining pro bono legal representation.
In 2009 I was scheduled for my subsequent parole suitability hearing, therefore [sent] to see a psychologist to perform a new assessment analysis report. I explained that I had legal representation that was putting together a Writ of Habeas Corpus and that I had already waived my 2009 BPH hearing because of this. He agreed that holding the lengthy interview would be irrelevant if I was not holding my hearing and also seeking to go back to court. He excused me from the interview, then once I left he proceeded to evaluate me without my being present. He used the 2005 report as his test subject instead of using me for that purpose. If that is not illegal, it should, at the very least, be deemed unethical. In essence, the 2005 report was still haunting me.
Fast forward now to 2013. I had to tell you all of that in order for what I’m about to tell you to make sense. When changes were made to BPH policy after passage of Marsy’s Law, it was determined that all psychological evaluations of lifers up for parole would carry a shelf-life of five years. The 2009 report is still valid until about 3rd quarter, 2014.
Due to the unethical nature of the 2009 report, my state-appointed legal counsel, Michele Garfinkel, requested of the panel that I be allowed to postpone my hearing so that I can be re-evaluated for a fair and impartial hearing. The panel denied that request. Michele then asked to speak to me privately to review my options, which we did.
Okay, I could go forward with this hearing using that foul report full of false accusations and risk what could have amounted to about a five year denial of parole. Michele, however, patiently explained the benefits of option #2 which was clearly in my best interest. I chose to stipulate to the minimum denial of parole which was three years. By doing so, I could wait out the shelf-life of the 2009 report and then take my medical records and evidence of abuse into an entirely new interview process for a new evaluation. That should help nip presumed assumptions of sociopathic lying. Well, I’m hoping that seeing the proof will make a difference. After a year I can file a 1045A formal request to have my next hearing held prior to the three year wait. Yes, in other words, I still obtained a postponement to obtain a new evaluation, but we’re calling it a three year stipulation of denial of parole. It’s just part of the political process. Had I faced the panel with the warped 2004 report it certainly would have been freedom suicide. This is not a matter of manipulating the system. I see it as a matter of using their written policy as a means to pursue my path to freedom, even if it requires that I file extra paperwork in order to do so.
I’m very satisfied with my decision and definitely grateful to Michele for her careful explanation of the law and my legal options. She says she does BPH law because she believes in the process. Her demeanor and professionalism was evident that those were not just words. Any lifers interested in a competent and caring BPH attorney, contact Michele Garfinkel, 1611 S Street, Suite 202, Sacramento, CA 95811.
There’s Nothing Funny About It
While it is true that the California state prison system has become a warehousing debt maker to hold inmates bulging at the seams, it has also warehoused the mentally ill. With the closures of many of the psychiatric hospitals, those patients need to be placed somewhere to obtain the help they need. They are being housed in prison, where they may not necessarily receive the medical attention that they need. Budget cuts have decreased the available staff and options for the mentally ill are limited.
Inmates who hear voices walk the grounds here, arguing and socializing with those voices. Those of us who cannot hear their voices are clueless as to what they are going through. There is nothing funny about an individual who is struggling on the brink of sanity and insanity. However, there are those who point, laugh, and even mimic the women devoured by inner demons in a fight for control. It is sad. It is preventable. It is inappropriately on display to be ridiculed by those who are fortunate not to be one of the mentally ill, lost in a wasteland of voices and finger-pointing. It is a lot of things, but funny it is not.
I learned that prison has a pill-popping policy that is their answer to everything. Now mind you, I can grasp that in some cases people need a pill for this or that. In 1995 I was having trouble sleeping. I was battling my own demons of the past. The staff here in white jackets wanted to give me Elavil, a psychotropic medication. A mood changer. I didn’t need a pill, I needed to talk. However, being overworked and understaffed, they would rather give you a pill and send you on your way. Since I refused pills to numb my pain they removed me from the list to be seen. By the way, the guy who did that was eventually walked off the job for inappropriate sexual behavior with a patient. Need I say more?
There are a good many individuals who are doing well with the use of medications but what about the ones on the walkway who argue loudly with the voices in their heads? The ones who officers walk right past? The ones who are getting the short end of the stick? They don’t belong in prison. They belong somewhere where they can receive help. Real help.
CCWF has a policy in place called EOP – Enhanced Outpatient Program. There is a unit in the receiving yard that houses those not ready for assimilation into the general population of inmates. There are rooms in each of the general population units that have “step-up” rooms. They are called that as a means of stepping up [or transitioning] from EOP. If the women can’t make it there they are returned to EOP. What is sad is that there are many who really aren’t making it as opposed to barely hanging in there. Since these step-up rooms are in G.P., we are all mingled together. If the EOP/Step Up inmate attacks one of us, they get a pass. No repercussions because they are deemed mentally ill. If we defend ourselves we can get a write-up. So not only are they vulnerable in this situation, but we are as well.
There are a lot of things broken in the penal system, but especially at the level of incarceration. There are people who do belong here, most certainly, but there are way too many who should be in a different environment. Definitely not criminal isolation. So when you are saying your prayers, add one for the mentally ill prison population. Someone needs to care about them, and if it’s not the system, it needs to be us.
When You Complain, You Remain by Niki Martinez
Who among us just gets frustrated and walks around saying, “I hate this place!” or “I’m sick of being here!”? We all have those days. And it puts you in a crappy mood. But I need to remind you: when you complain, you remain! It tends to set the tone for your day, your attitude and your perspective. It is so easy to get caught up in the mentality of “I hate it here.” But what we need to realize is that it could always be worse. When we change our perspective, we change our attitude, and when we change our attitude, it affects our lives! Why walk around feeling crappy, making life worse than it has to be, because we choose to? We have to know what thoughts to ignore, and respectfully, what people to ignore.
Too many people are negative and discouraged because they don’t like where they are. It’s just not where they want to be. They missed the unlock, their roommate locked them out, they’re stuck at the gate, they want in, they want out, they can’t wait for the door to open to go program, they get to work and they’re still irritated. They want to shop, they come back and they’re mad about being locked out and not getting this or that! They are always fighting against something. They are always trying to be somewhere else. We really need to begin to understand that change begins in us, not in our circumstances. The wrong attitude will keep us right where we are! So often, we find ourselves fighting our way to happiness, thinking it’s some sort of destination. We’re always trying to reach somewhere else and then we will be happy. “Once I shop, I’ll be happy.” “If I could just move then I’d be happy.” “If I had that other job, if I could move off this yard…” Or the bigger one that all of us are so convinced of: “If I could just get out of this prison, then I’d be happy.”
When we think of it like that, it only holds us back from our own happiness. A better approach is “This is where God has me right now and until He moves me, I’ll be happy right now, right here.” It is our choice. Our happiness doesn’t involve our circumstances or our place of residence, it involves our perspective and our attitude. We have to be determined to enjoy our lives no matter where we are living them. And when we understand that God has us exactly where He wants us, and when we learn to be happy where we are, He will take us where we want to be.
If we want to see God open new doors, the key is to bloom right where we are planted. We cannot wait until everything becomes better before we decide to have a good attitude. We have to be the best we can be right where we are.
When we change our approach, slow down, and just enjoy the journey, or take in all the journey has to offer, we will arrive where we’re supposed to be, but our lives will be much more fulfilled. And then we will be blessed with the perspective that it was all worth it. Instead of looking at what w don’t have, be grateful for what we do have. Somebody in this world would gladly trade places with us. Somebody would love to able to breathe like us, or be able to walk like us or see like us. Somebody would love to living where we are living.
Complaining only delays better days.

Choices by Christina Francis
Life is about choices- good and bad, positive and negative – and the consequences of actions taken because of the choices we make. My own choices led to my being a juvenile offender sentences as an adult. I entered State prison only three months after turning 17 years old. At that time I was the youngest person housed at CCWF, not exactly the claim to fame one strives to reach. I was instantly defined as a lost cause and led to believe that this was true. My truth. Not knowing any better, I embraced that [stigmata]; that is how I began serving my life sentence.
Through many trials and tribulations, today I now know that this is not true. That it need not be my legacy. I’ve learned in my own way to turn that around and to re-evaluate my views and values. Incarceration really is the biggest time out ever. It has brought me face to face with the here and now. Although I am separated from the outside world, prison has offered me the grand opportunity to stop and think about the natural flow of life, and to reflect on my place in it.
It has not been easy to grow up in a women’s prison. To be raised in such a volatile and angry environment. My vision, hope and faith were distorted by the daily madness; I simply let it envelop me and became a part of it. I somehow settled it in my mind that not only would this be where I will die, but that I was okay with such a desolate reality.
Over the years, however, that 17 year old kid has grown up, and in that development process I forced myself to look deeper into my core issues. I did not do this alone, but with the help and support of good friends who had pure motives and who hoped to see me reach my true potential. It took time but I found that it really is possible to overcome challenges. It took all the super-human dedication and effort that I could muster, but I grew tall enough mentally to see over the mountains of what I perceived as impossible. I’m content with the struggles that I’ve encountered. In life, every struggle, every circumstance of pain and chaos is in itself a lesson in progress. I have gained wisdom and personal strength through this philosophy and it allows me to perceive and respond to things as they are.
Growth requires limitless courage and through the experiences that taught me that I now believe that anything is possible. Before I could ever take control and rebuild my life I needed a firm desire to make my wishes sincere and real in every way. The more progress I made, the closer I drew toward becoming a useful person with a purpose in life. I learned that making excuses for not growing and feeling sorry for myself and my predicament was wasted energy. The negative sources of stagnation that I surrounded myself with only delayed my growth process – time I can never get back. When I hear someone say that I never had half a chance, I hear a voice of knowing that says, “You create your own chances, or lack thereof.” And I know this is true. At least for me it is.
I am a true believer that an inner drive for growth will push you forward; I’m living witness to how you can conquer many obstacles by demanding such commitment to personal growth. Being incarcerated, I have little control over many aspects of institutional life, but I have control over myself, how I see things, and most certainly, how I react to all of it. We can choose to advance or sit in our self-pity and rot. The choice is ours. As for myself, I keep putting one foot in front of the other and progressing forward. Doing so has made all the difference. A difference I now embrace.

I Saw God Today by Patti Garrison
I saw God today,
In the sunrise;
Beautiful hues of pink and purple,
Brush strokes in the clouds;
Painted by a master painter.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is beautiful.

I saw God today,
In the forest;
Awed by the majestic trees,
Which have stood against
Winds and storms, yet stand proud.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is strong.

I saw God today,
In the eyes of a man;
He rises early to feed the hungry,
And help the needy,
His only reason being that help is needed.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is kind.

I saw God today,
In the actions of a woman;
She stopped to help a homeless man.
She extended her hand and he was hesitant,
Until he saw her smile.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is compassionate.

I heard God today,
In the laughter of a child;
So pure and sweet,
Filling the air,
With happiness and innocence.
Yes, I saw god today,
And I can tell you, He is joyous!

I thanked God today,
For allowing me to see and hear Him,
In the simple, yet beautiful everyday things,
Which surround us all,
If only we take the time to notice.
Yes, I thanked God today,
And I can tell you, I am blessed.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving by Strictly Anonymous
I, like anyone else, have a story to tell. I believe we are all the walking proof of our pasts. While my story may not be pretty, the truth is that for prisoners it never really is.
In high school I never really had very many friends. The jocks all thought they were gods, the cheerleaders were total snobs, and the in-crowd could see that I was more out than in. I felt like an outsider looking in to a world that didn’t care if I even existed. I felt alone in the world.
And then I met him. He made me feel like I mattered. He actually wanted my time, my attention, to hear my own thoughts; he even asked about my dreams. His name was Jeff. I was 16 years old and in the 11th grade. Jeff, however, was 21; he worked as a forklift operator at a large warehouse. He made money that he readily spent on me. I had never felt so special in all my life. For the first time, I felt loved.
Because of our ages we had to keep our relationship a secret. Even from my sister, who almost always knew what I was up to due to her snooping nature.
We had been dating for over a year when Jeff hit me for the first time. I never saw it coming. He kept it invisible to the peering world by leaving marks only where clothing hid the bruises. Somehow he had convinced me that it was my fault. That I made him so mad at me I had it coming. I actually believed that.
In a relationship like that things never get better. Ours got worse and when he realized he had gotten me pregnant, he expected me to get an abortion. Hiding the relationship was one thing, but hiding an abortion from my devout Catholic parents was a whole other idea. Jeff and I argued over this. I was 17 years old by then and he kept telling me how he could get in trouble if I didn’t get the abortion. The final straw was when he began to threaten that he’d kill the baby himself. I imagined his kicking me in the stomach. I agreed to the abortion to escape that sense of a beating. The next day I disappeared from his life.
Jeff couldn’t contact me at school and he couldn’t contact my family for fear of statutory rape charges. What he didn’t know was that I’d told my parents the truth. It was all I could think of to do. First I told my mother, then with my mother’s support, my father too. I went to live with my aunt in southern California and spent my son’s first two years under her roof. She was my saving grace. I was able to get a job and my GED with her help and daily encouragement. I made a life for myself in southern California and life was good. Jeff was only a memory.
When I was 24 years old, my son Dalton was six and in school. I was working at an office building that had a front desk with security personnel. One day I was called to come down from my office to see a visitor at the front desk. I was told his name: Jeff had found me. I felt my breath get trapped in my lungs. The walls were closing in. I couldn’t even speak for the first few seconds. Reluctantly, I agreed to meet him at the front desk, but I warned Perry, the security officer, on the phone, “This may not end well. Please stay nearby.” Perry assured me and I reported to the desk.
Well, this story actually did end well. Jeff asked me to sit on a couch in the lobby with him and he proceeded to tell me how he had found me. It wasn’t very hard; I had never changed my name. He assured me that he had grown up, changed his ways, and was a better man than the immature person I had left behind. He apologized and then he asked, “How is life? Tell me about the baby.” I told him he had a son. I gave him ten minutes, and then had to return to work, but agreed to meet him in a very public place – a restaurant. I showed him photos and literally let him see his son grow up in pictures. Our son. My intuition was that Jeff really had changed.
Although Jeff and I never got back together again, we were able to maintain a personal relationship of respect and I introduced him to Dalton. After about three months, Jeff relocated to southern California to be closer to his son. They have formed a beautiful bond and I am grateful for that. Had I held on to my anger, hatred and mistrust of Jeff, I would have robbed my son of the privilege of knowing his father. I chose to accept Jeff’s apology, and I truly forgave him. Once I did, I was freed from the past.
A few years ago, I took the law into my own hands against a coach, to protect Dalton. The law didn’t like my idea of a mother’s love and I was sentenced to 16 years in State prison. However, Jeff brings my son to see me twice a month and on holidays. My one act of forgiveness has come back to me over and over again.
When I began telling my story, you may not have expected this ending, but what it amounts to is this: Life is beautiful, even in prison.

Hey, Sports Fans!
Joe had tickets for the Super Bowl with a seat on the 50-yard line. As he sat down he noticed that the seat next to his was vacant. He asked the man on the other side if anyone was sitting there.
“No,” the man replied. “That seat is empty.”
“This is incredible!” Joe said. “Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the Super bowl and not use it?”
The man looked up and said, “Well, it actually belongs to my wife but she passed away. This will be the first Super Bowl we haven’t been together since we married 23 years ago.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” said Joe. “Couldn’t you find a friend or relative or even a neighbor to take the seat?”
The man simply shrugged, saying, “No. They’re all at the funeral!”

From the Heart
I remember my first trip to Yosemite National Park in 1982 with a few of my co-worker friends. We drove late at night so didn’t see much scenery going through Mariposa. We couldn’t see much more than darkness around us beyond the bit of road in the headlights. It wasn’t until daybreak that we really saw the beauty of the valley floor. It was nearly intoxicating.
After checking in and locating our canvas tent cabins the four of us set about exploring the park. We headed straight for the tourist spot of the magical and fantastic Yosemite Falls. The way the mist kissed your face you knew you were somewhere special. I wasn’t the most religious person in the world and even I felt as if I’d been misted by God.
Garfield, Lynn and Lori were good company as we hiked up the fall, the slippery wet rocks beneath my boots. We could feel the change in altitude taking effect, the higher we went. I think it was my legs that felt the burn equal to what Garfield’s lungs did. That’ll teach her to smoke! Lori and I wanted to go up higher but Garfield couldn’t make it, and well, abandoning her wasn’t an option. We did make it to a high pool where we could sit on some boulders and just take it all in for a moment. It was absolutely magnificent. Here was clearly a landscape that paintings could not do justice to, for it was a creation not of man, but of a power greater than that.
In those few minutes before we trekked back down the falls I took it all in. I breathed it in. I soaked it up like a sponge and I have kept it all these years. It was one of those experiences that photos cannot convey but can only capture frozen in time. In those few minutes, I truly appreciated that I had the opportunity that not everyone does. I’ve met many women here that never had that chance. And every time that I do, I feel blessed all over again.
So I say from the heart to you: Don’t ever take anything for granted. Not your knowledge, mobility, senses, or next meal. Don’t take it for granted that you can breathe or talk or have clothing and clean water to drink. It is said that the best things in life aren’t things, but everything. I agree. When you struggle, it is part of your life’s blueprint, and even the butterfly must struggle out of the cocoon before it can fly. A woman goes through pain when her child is being born but she is grateful for the priceless gift. Stop and think about the people you haven’t spoken to or seen in awhile. Then tell them that you’re thinking of them. You just may make their day. Better yet, they are given the opportunity to make yours. Works for me. May you all have a safe, healthy, happy holiday season.
Love and Peace,
TC and Mama P
T.C. Paulinkonis Barbara Paulinkonis
W45118 (514-16-04U) W45120 (514-15-02L)
P.O. Box 1508 P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610-1508 Chowchilla, CA 93610-1508

(In typing this newsletter, some minor edits were made for clarity. Words in brackets indicate that the handwritten version was unclear.)

imagesThe Uncaged Voice
2nd QTR, 2013-04-25
available free by request at annaing@centrum.is

Dear Family of Friends
You will notice that we‘ve changed the name of this newsletter. The truth is, we‘ve thought about it for a year now, and the new name came to me while I meditated out of this place. It moved me so The T.C. and Mama P Newsletter is now renamed TheUncaged Voice.
This newsletter began many years ago as an easy way for us to better inform family, friends, and pen pals of the realities of our life behind the walls. It was mostly updates on health status and BPH matters. The more I wrote, the more vocal I became, the more informative my writing became. Along the way, I discovered I had a politically outspoken revealer within myself. Then I began to seek other prisoners that had something to say. We may be in prison, but this newsletter has carried our uncaged voices out to society. With every one of you that posts it on your blog, web page, or copies and circulates it, you help us spread not only the truth, but our reality for others to see. Please continue to help us expose our words ….. our voices.
In this issue, the topic tended to focus on moms. I sat down to write, and blam! There it was. This will likely not reach you until after Mother‘s Day, but it is dedicated to all of the moms out there. You have the hardest job in the world. I knew it was hard when I was a kid, and that‘s when I decided I‘d rather just be responsible for a pet cat. Works for me.
Anyhow, I‘ve asked a few others to share their own thoughts, feelings, and realities in this issue about what it is like to either be a mother in prison, or to be in here away from their mother. Everyone has a different story, so I hope to be able to share other women‘s experiences, other than my own. I have my mother here with me, so every day is Mother‘s Day. For most however, prisons are built in the middle of nowhere, and then a community grows around it as jobs become available. Therefore, visits are never guaranteed, but they make all the difference.
Please share this newsletter with others. Hear our voices.
Happy Mother‘s Year!
TC and Mama P

Life Scripting – written by Wilma Kilpatrick
I know that while there are many free citicens reading this newsletter, many prisoners do as well. I would like to inform both groups of people about a class at CCWF calle Life Scripting. I do hope to encourage other prisoners to enroll in it.
Life Scripting is a very positive and informative 80 hour class that I recommend to those that have the opportunity to participate in it. It has taught me techniques in how to deal with negative energy regarding people, places, and things. It also guided me onot a path of self-discovery as I learned how to get in touch with my inner child. In doing so, I was able to gain insight into why I did many of the things I have done, and to grasp a clearer perspective into my thinking patterns. Negative habits cannot be broken unless they are recognized and addressed when you‘re ready to be honest with yourself, this class can help you.
Oh, sure there‘s a lot of writing! Anyone too lazy to write, need no apply. Change requires work and effort. For those willing to take a step in a new direction, this class offers hope for a better self-reflection. Participants are educated in the four key areas of self, family, relationships, and society, by arming women with the psychological strategies needed to make healthy, personal choices. The lessons motivates the students to want to alter their social and anti-social behavourism.
My personal experience allowed me to witness the unique approach the class exercises in helping women heal from their own traumatic experiences. Many suffered mental, emotional, sexual, and verbal abuses as children that left scars that lingered into adulthood. They‘re taught how to reframe, which is to rethink and look at things differently.
From what I understand, many of the Free Worlder‘s reading this newsletter are avid writers, some members of writer‘s clubs and guilds. Maybe there‘s an avenue there to seek something similar, if not at YWCA or local women‘s shelters that can recommend resources. For those at CCWF, I cannot stress enough how much you can get out of this class. Take advantage of this golden opportunity while we have volunteers that sacrifice their time to offer us hope for a new improved self.
Thank you for letting me reach out to you all.

Inmate Manuscripts / Publication Opportunity
Everyone has a story to tell. It could be a mystery of pure fiction, or an account of their incarceration experience. It could be of fantasy, science, or romance. It can be an open no-puncher-pulled memoir that exposes all of their well kept secrets as a means to tell the world, „I will no longer be silenced!“ We all have voices.
Prisons Foundation wants to publish inmate manuscripts. All genres welcome. They will not be screened, or censored. All work will be scanned as received, no editing will take place, so that means errors and all will be published. Proofreading is your responsibility prior to submission. You work will be placed on the internet for free worldwide reading on thier website, http://www.prisonsfoundation.org, and will remain there indefinitely (unless a problem arises where at their discretion, it needs to be removed). Anyone can view, read, even download your work at no charge. However, you do retain full rights to your book, should you later wish to later seek commercial publication for profit.
No manuscript will be returned. If you want a copy for yourself, either make one prior to submission, or wait for it to be published online and have a friend or family member go to the above website to download it for you.

Below are guidelines you must follow to publish your book. Your book will be rejected and will not be returned to you if it does not follow them.
1. Every page of your book must be on 8 ½ by 11 paper and unbound.
2. Nonfiction and fiction books must be over 100 pages and no more than 500 pages.
3. Plays, screenplays, poetry, music books, art books and comic books must be over 20 pages and not more than 150 pages.
4. A self-addressed stamped envelope showing your prison address must accompany your book so they can inform you of its imminent publication and verify that you are indeed the author.
5. The cover of your book must contain your name, title of the book (not to exceed 10 words, including subtitle), date, whether the book is nonfiction or fiction, a brief paragraph about it (to entice readers to read your book) and both your prison address and your outside permanent address.
6. Legal motions, transcripts and court records (unless they are brief and part of your book) will NOT be published.
7. If your book includes photos or drawings, they must be glued firmly to 8 ½ by 11 paper exactly where you want them in your book.
8. Use only one side of each sheet of paper (though you can use paper with one side previously used for another purpose as long as you mark out the side that is not part of your book).
We also recommend that you number and put your name on every page, write or print your book legibly and get another prisoner or staff member to edit your book before you send it.
Send your book to:

Prisons Foundation
P.O. Box 58043
Washington, DC 20037

She Did Not Fail Me by Randi Sorlon
It‘s getting harder and harder to do time. This prison sentence is of my own doing. I cannot play the mental battlefield game of, „If I had only done this. If I had only done that.“ There is simply acceptance. However, my actions have affected others, especially my mother.
I‘m not going to go on a merry-go-round of excuses for what may have led me to commit my crime. My mother did the best she could with me, and while I feel like I let her down horribly, I want her and the world to know that she did not fail me. It is I, who failed her.
I‘ve missed a multitude of holidays and one-on-one talks with my mother. I haven‘t been there for Christmas or her birthday, let alone Mother‘s Day all of these years. For years, she took care of me, my every need, and here I am at a point where role reversal should be in place, yet I‘m not home to take care of my mother, who is in failing health and aging more rapidly from the stress I‘ve caused her to endure. You could say, she‘s one more victim of circumstances I caused. Whenever I start to think to myself about how hard this sentence has been, I stop and remind myself that it is harder on my mother.
I make each day in this caged in world, not knowing if she made it through the night. Is her heart still beating? Do her lungs still take in air on their own? Has she not given upp all hope of our being reunited? Will she make it out here this year to see me? If not in May, what about by December? I wake up each day not knowing but more important is what I wake up each day that I do know. I know that I haven‘t made life easy for my mother, when all she ever did, was try to make it as easy for me as she possibly could. And I know one more thing. I know that she loves me unconditionally. The question is, what did I do to deserve that?

She Never Stood a Chance
One day, a little girl was born into this world, the product of either and unplanned pregnangcy, or quite possibly rape. For, what other reason would the birth mother have for being so angry that the child was born at all? The mother, not wanting to have anything to do with the child, passed the newborn off to her own sister to raise.
The newborn was raised by her aunt and uncle, but was none the wiser. She was clueless that they weren‘t her real parents. She believed that her cousins were her four siblings. She believed she was loved in a family that she was born into. However, as fate would have it, her little world was rocked and as a teen, she was dropped off at her birth mother‘s front door. Highly aggitated by the unexpected circumstances, the birth mother greeted the child with a slap across the face so hard that she saw stars. She was clearly an unwanted burden.
It didn‘t take but a minute for the live-in boyfriend of the reluctant mother, to make sexual advances upon the child, now a teenager in girly development. Discovering that the mother had no intention of protecting her from being molested and raped, the teen walked across San Jose to the police department to report the situation. There were no reprecussions for the adults, but the teen ended up in the foster care system. While there are many cases with wonderful stories in foster care, the same cannot be said for this one girl in particular. She went from foster home to foster home, being molested, raped, sadomized, and threatened to remain silent. Her terror and horror had only multiplied by her not remaining silent. She never stood a chance.
She did finally end up in one good foster home, but her ride on the Terror Train was about to end, as she was nearing the age-out date: her 18th birthday. Not long after that, she met a man that made her feel like someone finally cared about her. And maybe he did. At first. But, before long, he was proving to not be husband material, but by then, they had already been married. Another few layer of self-esteem evaporated by the time their second child had been born. And it was about to get worse.
Her husband wanted to „live to ride and ride to live.“ He wanted to ride with the Hell‘s Angels, chase women, and live a wild and crazy life that came from being connected to that particular motorcycle club. He wanted it more than his family he had already helped create. He wanted it so badly, that he agreed to let 30 to 40 of them come into his home and do dispicable things to his wife to prove his loyalty to the H.A‘s, putting them before any women, any thing. He wanted it that bad.
The first time it happened, it‘s any wonder she survived it. When she knew it was about to happen again on a different night, she made plans to avoid it. She fed and bathed her babies early and put them to bed. The infant and her three year old sister would be safe, as the H.A.‘s would never cause harm to a child. Believe it or not, no matter what one may wish to say against them, the don‘t hurt children. There really is a moral compass there after all. Before they could arrive for a second round of Boys will be Bullies night, she left the house. She didn‘t know where she‘d go, but her feet took a hike and she ended up at a bar. And that is when she met Mr. Nice Guy.
Nice Guy struck up a conversation with her, and she found him to be empathetic. He listened to her. By the end of the night, before she left to return home hoping it was safe, Nice Guy handed her a $100 bill. He told her the best thing to do was to get her babies out of that house. The money was to hole up and hide out in a motel room. The year was 1964, and you received a lot more stay in a motel room for $100 back then. He assured her that there was more help to come, and there was.
The girl was now a woman with two children and barely escaped a nightmare. She had help. She and Nice Guy began to spend more and more time together and he eventually married her. He adopted her children as his own, giving them his last name. He provided healthcare, food, clothing, a roof over their heads, every necessity for daily function and survival. He worked full-time, was a good provider, and treated his wife with respect. Her whole life had turned around. It was almost too good to be true. Well, not almost …. it was too good to be true. It took several years before he changed, but unlike the H.A.‘s, this guy didn‘t have a moral compass when it came to crimes against children. That is another story in itself. He was however like the others in his deviant acts against his wife. It comes on gradually and gets worse over tiime. That‘s how abusers do it. He was indeed an abuser.
After all those years in foster care, she thougth the worst was behind her. After those years in a hopeless marriage, she still had thought the worst was behind her when Mr. Nice Guy became her knight in shining armor. But it only got worse.
If you were to ask her why she never left him, she has more than one reason. First, she loved him. Defects and all, he was the man that not only rescued her, he also secured a future for her children that would not involve the foster care system. Secondly, between her childhood and two husbands, she had absolutely no self-esteem or confidence in herself that she could function alone, for she had always had a man telling her what to do. And third, he had told her that she owed him because he rescued her and her children. That if she left him, it‘d be the last thing she‘d ever do. Fear had once again ruled her life and both dominance and control were in some one else‘s hands, not her own. She was defluted, defeated, and empty. She was trapped in a home that felt more like a prison. In a sense, she was a sex slave, but because they were married, it wasn‘t deemed rape even without her consent. Oh, sure, now they call it spousal rape, illegal by law, but they didn‘t in 1988 to the best of my knowledge it wasn‘t until the 1990, but I‘m not sure.
I felt badly for this woman, for her past was one big open wound. I felt anger at the husband, because he was my stepfather, and that woman is my mother. All her life she was somebody‘s victim. She never really stood half a chance from the day she was born. I feared he‘d eventually kill her – and who‘s to say he wouldn‘t have? My fear kept me from thinking clearly, and I put myself into a position that ended his life, but affected so many others. My actions resulted in her coming to prison because she felt responsible that I killed him. In her mind, if she hadn‘t told me about his series of sexual violations and buttery, she believes I‘d never have gone to their house that night to stand up to him. What she doesn‘t realize is, none of this is her fault. I didn‘t need her to tell me anything at all. I could see it in the tears in her eyes, the bruises of perfect handprints around her wrists. I saw it in a black eye. I heard it in the tone of her voice. It was evident in her fading joy of life, her state of mind as a darkness called depression was engulfing her. I didn‘t need her to tell me. I knew. And I felt like a coward for not having stood up to him before then. Her past wasn‘t her own doing any more than that night was. I‘ve crtainly learned that there are other ways to deal with perpetrators in non-violent ways, however, it has been pointed out to me that the fact remains: My mother has not been raped, sodimized, beaten, bullied, or victimized by violent intent since the day I killed my stepfather 24 years ago.
From the day my mother was born, she‘s been in one type of prison or another. Right now, it is this manmade one in Chowchilla, even an LWOP sentence is up for parole consideration after 30 years. She‘s served 71 years. Technically …. A little girl was born in Jan Jose November 30, 1941 … and she never stood a chance. Tell me, where is the justice in that? Is it any wonder Lady Justice was a blindfold?

The Raw Truth About a Prisoner‘s Mother‘s Day by Cora
Every woman in prison eperiences their own Mother‘s Day. Some are mothers that have the privilege of visiting their children. Most have their mother‘s who want to visit them. And some enjoy the privilege of both. A good many have a good, happy story to tell, but no all of us do.
I am 48 years old, and mother to five children aged 17 to 31 years old. When I came to prison, my children were still in school. I left them in a changing world, but promised that they would still see me no matter what. Twelve years ago, that promise seemed realistic, but over a decade later, I can count on one hand how many times I have seen my children. On a number of occasions I broke down and begged other family members to bring my children. I felt so powerless.
Throughout the years, my mother‘s vision deteriorated, and blindness was setting in. I finally got my mother, health concerns and all, to agree to chaperone my children to visit me. That was the year that she died of heart attack. That was 2005, eight years ago, and when my heart began to harden. The pain is unexplainable, as I deal with this double-edged sword each Mother‘s Day now.
As Mother‘s Day approaches again, I‘m beginning to feel the nervous energy and anxiety, that includes sleepless nights, and when I do sleep, nightmares. This is the wrost holiday or the year for me, because it represents a day of celebration with the children that I gave birth to ….. only there aren‘t any reunions or celebrations. I perceive the day that I received my sentence, as the day that active motherhood ceased to be a reality. And I miss it every single day.
The Dept. of Corrections declares that they favor and wish to encourage family visits, however that is not so simple for many of us. For many of us, we‘ve been relocated several hours away from our loved ones. My family lives five hours away, and in this economy, it is not cheap to travel halfway across the state for such reunification. This is not something you can prepare yourself for. It‘s not something I added to my Bucket List. The truth is, my decision one day has led to my children and I growing apart. It is my burden to face.
That God for the Get on the Bus Program (GOTB). It is a community contributed opportunity for children to be brought on buses on Mother‘s Day weekend to see their mothers in prison. The GOTB takes care of gas, transportation, and food for the families to eat at their visit, as many are economically strapped, if not just downright dirt poor. My second daughter who is now 22 years old, began coming with GOTB when she was 16 years old. All that was required, was a chaperone. She has a dream that the governor will reduce all 85% prison terms to 65%, which would get me home to her much sooner. In the meantime, she tries her best to keep our family together.
One year, my daughter came with GOTB, and I noticed that she had bruises on her legs. She didn‘t want to talk about it, but I discovered that another family member had put their hands on her in frustration. Why? Because she fell asleep on the toilet at 4 A.M. getting ready to come see me. I had to promise her that I wouldn‘t say anything. To do so, would have resulted in my family terminating any future visiting plans. How would you deal with such a revelation on Mother‘s Day, in a room with dozens of children and several correctional officers that would have seen a negative reaction as violently disruptive? I honored my daughter‘s plea for not reacting or speaking out on it. No and easy decision to make, nor to live with.
My two oldest boys, aged 21 and 30 now, stopped coming to visit or write when they joined their new family: gangs. When my younger son had a chance to visit me, the authorities refused to allow him in due to his birth certificate being too worn. He was enraged and stood out in front of the prison screaming, „Free my mother if you won‘t let me in!“ That day, my sister was allowed to visit with me while they had my son visit in a trailer where he cried in bitter defeat. I spent 15 minutes listening to her tell me how vital it had been for me to see my son that day. He was dealing with peer pressureto join a gang. He needed to talk to his mother. That was two years ago.
Here it is again, Mother‘s Day is once again upon us. Like many, I can‘t see my own mother, for she‘s left this world. Like many, I can‘t see my children, for I left their free world and reside a world away in prison. The anxiety and stress sets in. I‘ll be a nervous wreck on the Saturday before the holiday, and I‘ll dread the inevitable … dozens of women on the walkway, in the unit, and even those in my room, greeting me with, „Happy Mother‘s Day!“ It hurts to hear it, because I have a few thoughts that ramble around in my head, and deposit themselves in my heart. First, will I get to see that little boy I left 12 years ago, who is now 17? Second, will my daughter travel safely, let alone make the trip at all? And third, what about my two oldest sons in the gang? When will I see them again? No, no, no …. will I see them again?
As I write this, I cry. I have tears rolling down my cheeks, it‘s hard to breathe and the lump in my throat is getting even larger. Call it regret or maybe remorse. Call it loss or devastation. No matter what you call it, it is the consequences of being a mother in prison. And that is a hard pill to swallow. It‘s also, the raw cold truth.

I‘ll Never Know – by The Truly Remorseful
I dont know what it is like, I‘ll never be able to epress enough,
To be alone on Mother‘s Day, Remorse for what I‘ve put you through,
To never again, feel her embrace. And I will never truly know,
I don‘t know what it‘s like, I don‘t feel sorry for myself,
To be a mother who lost her son, On Mother‘s and Father‘s Day,
To be her the second weekend of May, What I do is think of you,
Coming all undone. As I hit my knees and pray.
I‘ve never known that pain,
The loss, the ordeal,
Losing a child so young,
Then being told my would would heal.

Unconditional Love Without Boundaries – written by Niki Martinez
I have been extremely fortunate throughout these 19 years that I have been incarcerated. Many times I feel so unworthy and undeserving of the unconditional love that is so freely given to me.
I have caused tremendous pain and devastation, and I have hurt so many people because of my actions. I have continuously failed my parents throughout the years, and disappointed them in ways that no parent should ever have to deal with. I have brought them excessive heartache that I constantly created in „this world“ with my own self-absorbed, self-destructive hehavior. How ignorant I was!! I never took my parents for granted, but I can honestly say, that I didn‘t appreciate them as much as they should be appreciated and valued. They definitely deserve so much more and better that what I have given them. They are precious, priceless gifts froom God that I truly cherish today. It blows my mind, swells my heart, and humbles my spirit, that after all these years, after all of the disappointments, agony, and shame – they still love me and are still by my side.
I remind myself constantly that they don‘t owe me anything. They do not have to accept my collect calls or come to visit. They do not have to take care of me, and they don‘t have to even care. My iniquitous crime and actions brought me to prison – and yes I was only 17 years old at the time, but I am the one who committed the crime. Not them. I created this catastrophe. I ruined, destroyed, and shattered lives, families, and communities. When the world judged me as a vicious, teenaged monster, my parents seen their precious child. They could have easily walked away and gone on with their lives, but I must say, thank God for my parent‘s love. It has been the ultimate force that has definitely carried me through the years. My love, gratitude, and appreciation for them is completely immeasurable.
My Dad‘s love is unconditional and so fulfilling. He has blessed my life with his love, his care and concern, his dedication and his presence. He travels all the way from his home in Chicago to visit me at least twice a year. He even rides his Harley out here in the summers. He spends days on the road just to get out to California to see me. Talk about love! He even brings an entourage of friends and family to come and visit me just to make sure I feel the love, and that I will know that I am loved. How amazing is that?!! I haven‘t made it easy on him, but his love is endless. It has been empowering, and his love is what keeps my heart beating – literally – to this very day. My Daddy is a phenomenal father, and yes I am extremely fortunate and beyond blessed.
My Mom has been the ultimate blessing to my life. The agony that she has had to endure because of me, has been inconceivable, yet she still showers me with unconditional love. She has been there to comfort me when I felt like I was falling apart. She has been there to encourage me when I felt like I couldn‘t stand to do this time another day. She has picked me up and carried me when I felt defeated. She fed my spirit hope when all I could think about was giving up. She has taught me the lesson of faith, and blessed me with her knowledge, wisdom, and of course, her love. She has given me the greatest gift that any mother could give their child – and that is to know Jesus. She has been on her knees praying for me every single day for two decades. No matter how much trash and devastation I have brought to the table, she continued to love me, and she never gave up on me. My mom has helped mold me into the woman that I am today … with morals, ethics, integrity, and the love of Jesus in my heart. She is truly an inspiration and I pray to aspire to be half the woman that she is. I am so honored that she is my mother. She has saved my life, my spirit, and my soul. It is only by the grace of God, and the wisdom and love from both my mother and father, that I still have my sanity, my health, and I am with a faithful heart and an encouraged soul.
I continue to breathe every day not only because of my parents, but for them, God has blessed me with the capability of breathing on my own, and I thank Him every day. What a gift!!
I am blessed with wonderful parents: Jesus, Jesse, and Gladys. I thank God for my life, and that they are all in it. Cherish those whom love you. Happy Mother‘s Day. Happy Father‘s Day. And God bless you all.

Q & A with T.C.
Q) How is the VSP to CCWF transition going?
A) Hmmm … to quotate an officer, „I haven‘t seen so many disrespectful, angry at the world, youngsters in all my life! They think they can do whatever they want!“ Apparently, the rumors we had heard for the last 15 years about VSP being strict with structure were, just that – rumors.
Q) What‘s up with Folsom housing women?
A) They don‘t live with the men. They can only house 403 women, and in an open dorm setting – no cells. Basically, they sleep iin cubicles like in an office building, so no electrical appliances are allowed.
Q) Whatever happened to that Correctional officer that got arrested?
A) Sergeant Edward Tovar, who volunteered at a local high shool as a girl‘s softball coach, took a plea bargain to avoid a trial. He was sentenced in Madera County court on March 27, 2013 to a lousy 128 days and 5 years probation for multibple charges of child sexual molestation. He got a slap on the wrist, and the D.A. had the nerve to say, „He‘s not going to have it easy.“ Why? Because he lost his job as an officer? Because he has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life? Because he is jubject to random polygraphs? How does that serve justice? I can just imagine the outraged parents when they heard it‘d be days served, and not years. He was a mandated reporter. He was in a position of authority and trust. Ask anyone. He got off easy. That‘s the census here. Go on, Google it. Once you have all of the facts, you may agree that being in a position of authority does have certain privileges.
Q) How is the Medical there these days?
A) The Medical Receiver, who was federally appointed to oversee all of the 33 state prison Medical Depts., has slashed the budget and spending from $600 million to $300 million across the board. A lot of medical procedures and surgeries requested by doctors, are being denied. A local hospital in Cororan has had to close their doors and let go of staff, because the bulk of their business was the nearby Cororan State Prison for men, where 10.000 inmates are housed. Yes, ten thousand! So, with costs slashed, it is bound to directly affect the well being of chronic cure inmates.
Q) What happened to CCWF trying to kill of the rabbits there?
A) You can‘t keep a good rabbit down! While many were victims of rabbitcide, our furry little friends put on their bunny armor and refused to go down without a fight. They‘re everywhere! And these little guys are picky eaters. They won‘t eat lettuce, but give them apples and bread and they‘ll love you for life.
Q) Any more news about the 85% rumors?
A) An inmate told me that a friend of hers got word from her mother via telephone, that affective June 1st it should be in effect. The mother apparently had a letter signed from Jerry Brown himself. Whether 85% term inmates will drop to serve only 65% of theyr term, remains to be seen. I‘ll believe it when it happens.
Q) Any other rumors you can speak on?
A) No, but I could make something up. You‘d be surprised how fast a rumor will spread in here, and what gossips will believe.

A Letter to God
Dear God,
I want to thank You for having kept my mother and I together all of these years. There were times when circumstances beyond our control separated us, but You kept placing us back together ever since county juil. In our darkest hour, You let us share our own light with one another. Thank You.
I don‘t know what it is like to not be able to talk to my mom on Mother‘s Day. I don‘t know what it is like to wonder if I will ever see her again. I don‘t need to rely on the phones or mail system to express my love. While her being in prison for a crime I committed is not fair at all, I do see the bright side. I do see that I have not missed the last 23 years with her physically present in my life every day. There are a good many here that wish they had this blessing. I do see the blessing that it is, really I do, but I also see the downside, Lord. I can‘t help but to see what is right before my eyes.
Above all others, You know how hard prison has been on my mother‘s health. The older she gets, the younger they come in here, and I stop to wonder, „who raised some of these people?“ In March, my mom could have walked out of here and paroled to Crossroads, but her fate was decied in October 2012 that that was not to be. Not yet. I‘m sure You have Your reasons, although the panel had their own. I don‘t want to question Your will, but I‘ll admit that there are times when it is easier to pray The Lord‘s Prayer, than it is to exercise it.
My mother is tired. Anyone with half a brain can see it. I believe the only thing that keeps her hanging in there, is me. You‘ve given us a couple or close calls with her strokes, and it scared the heebie-ba-jeebies out of me each time. The fear of not knowing if she‘d return from the hospital, or be physically independent if she did. That‘s a fear that many lifers and others here experience with their own mothers in society. The question too fearful to voice! Will I see her in the free world again?
God, I know You have millions of people in Your ear all day long, and believe me, I do not envy You of Your job, but I want my request officially in Your Prayer Request Book …..
Lord, if You have any plans to take her home to You, could You please not let it be in here? Please, let her be free to pet a purring kitten once again, to make her homemade Portuguese Sweet Bread, to sleep in a real bed, and know what a bubble bath feels like again. I don‘t know how I‘d react if You took her before the system set her free first, but I can assume I‘m likely to lose it. She‘s here because of me. I was only trying to protect her that night. My way did not work, obviously. So I ask that You protect her Your way. I pray that my request reflects Your will. Nobody knows what it‘s like to be. Nobody, but You. Please don‘t let me be held accountable for two deaths.
In Jesus‘ name, Amen

On a Lighter Note ….
So much emotion in this issue of the newsletter, huh? Well, to lighten the mood a moment here, I want to share one of the funniest jokes I‘ve seen in awhile. It was sent in by Lisa Santimaw a few moths or more ago. It goes like this …

Mr. And Mrs. Fenton are retired, and Mrs. Fenton always insists that her husband go with her to Wal-Mart. He gets so bored with all of the shopping trips. He prefers to get in and get out, but his wife loves to browse. He racked his brain to find a way to get out of having to tag along. One day, Mrs. Fenton received the following letter from Wal-Mart:

Dear Mrs. Fenton,
Over the past six months, your husband has been causing quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and may ban both of you from our stores. We have documented all incidents on our video surveillance equipment. All complaints against Mr. Fenton are listed below.

Things Mr. Bill Fentoon has done while his spouse was shopping in Wal-Mart:
1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people‘s carts when they weren‘t looking.
2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in House wares to go off at 5-minute intervals.
3. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official tone. ´Code 3‘ in house wares … and watched what happened.
4. August 4: Went to the Service Desk and asked to put a bag of M&M on layaway.
5. September 14: Moved a ‚CAUTION – WET FLOOR‘ sign to a carpeted area.
6. September 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told other shoppers he‘d invite them in if they‘ll bring pillows from the bedding department.
7. September 23: When a clerk asks if they can help him, he begins to cry and asks, ‚Why can‘t you people just leave me alone?‘
8. October 4: Looked right into the security camera; used it as a mirror, and picked his nose.
9. November 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, asked the clerk if he knows where the antidepressants are.
10. December 3: Darted around the store suspiciously loudly humming the ´Mission Impossible‘ theme.
11. December 6: In the auto department, practiced his ´Madonna Look‘ using different size funnels.
12. December 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browse through, yelled ´PICK ME!‘ ´PICK ME!´
13. December 21: When an announcement came over the load speaker, he assumes the fetal position and screams ´NO! NO! Its those voices again!!!!´
And last but not least.
14. December 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited awhile, then yelled very loudly, ´There is no toilet paper in here!´

From the Heart
The telephones attached to the white painted cinder block wall don‘t really look like much to the casual observer, but if you ask Dee Dee, Becky, or especially Niki, they‘ll tell you that they are a lifeline to the outside world. The policy requires our family and friends to set up ability to hear the voice of their loved ones. The bills are paid before the calls are made, but still when they accept the charges of those collect calls, it screams, „I Love You! You matter to me!“
Whether a letter or just a signed card, the fact that we are worthy of a little of your time and a 46 cent stamp speaks volumes. At Mail call when the officer says your name, what they‘re really sayiing is, „Someone out there thinks you‘re pretty darn special.“
We would be lost and lonely, hopeless and empty of any fight left in us if not for the love of family and friends. I speak for all prisoners, not just mom and myself. The first and third verses of the Blake Shelton son „God Gave Me You“ says it all. Here‘s the first part of that song:
I‘ve been a walking heartache / I‘ve made a mess of me
The person I‘ve been lately / Aint who I wanna be (but)
You stay here right beside me / And watch as the storm blows through
And I need you …. cuz
God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubts
And for when I think I‘ve lost my way
There are no words left here to say
It‘s true … God gave me You.
So, I say from the heart … not just on Mother‘s Day, Father‘s Day, Christmas, or Thanksgiving, do we celebrate each of you in our lives. Dear loved one, please know that your love and support makes everyday a personal holiday in our hearts. And that is straight froom the heart!
Namasté,
TC and Mama P

T.C. Paulinkonis Pauline “Barbara” Paulinkonis
W45118 514-16-4U W45120 514-16-41
PO Box 1509 PO Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610 Chowchilla, CA 93610

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.com

In view of the recent sufferings and the accompanying feelings of oneness I would like to offer the quote below from the Baha’i Writings, revealed by Baha’u’llah (whose name means the Glory of God) with hopes it will lighten hearts that are heavy. esther

CXXX: Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in…

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.

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The T.C. and Mama P Newsletter
1st QTR, 2013, Available free at annaing@centrum.is

Dear Family of Friends,
With a new year upon us, we look forward to what we hope is a good year of changes for the better, and new insights as we face each day as it comes.
The 4th quarter of 2012 was especially stressful on Mama P and myself and we prepared her for her parole hearing. She went into that hearing room hopeful, given the good fate of many lifers before her who received parole grants. Have you ever been at the beach and had a big wave crash down upon you and literally knock you off of your feet? You think to yourself, „what in the hell just happened?“ as you try to regain your composure? Yeah, well it was like that. That is the best way to describe it. It sort of takes the breath out of you.
On top of the parole hearing, which got put off until it was held in October, we had other prison politic‘s taking place as well. If it wasn‘t the transfers of women from VSP coming over in droves, it was the stress level of those around us. The air was thick with it. We had a lot going on in our minds. A lot of „what now?“ questions. Yes, we were so self-absorbed in our own world here behind razor-wire fences, considering our own futures, that for a little while, we forgot what it meant to relax.
And then it happened. The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. When something that horrific takes place, it puts things in perspective for you really fast. You‘re grateful it wasn‘t your child. You‘re glad you have someone to hug, your loved ones to talk to. Why is it that people wait for tragedies like this before they wake up and realize they‘ve taken others for granted? I challenge you to live each day like tomorrow may not come. I you care about someone, tell them. Don‘t assume that they already know and don‘t need to hear it. People need to hear it. A little effort on your part can go a long ways. For every day that you wake, be thankful. For every breath that your lungs automatically take in, be thankful, for there are countless others who cannot on their own.
Folks, for every day that you can rise out of bed, be it in the free world or prison, be grateful that you can. There are six school staffers and twenty innocent children who cannot. There are 26 families who can no longer say, „I love you“ to listening ears. We have that chance every single day. Don‘t take it for granted. Please, for the love of God, don‘t assume they don‘t need to hear it. You never know what kind of day they are having. A few kind words from you could make all of the difference.
I challenge you to love …. and love well.
Happy New Year,
T.C. and Mama P

About Mom‘s Parole Verdict
We understand that many of our loyal supporters have questions about what happened during Mom‘s parole hearing. We‘ve been asked what was asked, what was said, how it all went. Please understand that we‘ve reported what we thought was sufficient to help y‘all understand why mom was denied parole. Her legal team wants to keep any such statements to a minimum. We need to respect that. They are acting in her best interests and will continue to do so. Calling their office to voice your opinions isn‘t going to help matters.
According to the law as it is written, mom can file a special form called a 1045A Petition, to request a hearing sooner than five years. If she has her ducks all lined up like the BPH recommended she do, she could possibly be reheard in three years. It‘s all a matter of more time.

You Be the Judge
Let me introduce you to Steven C. Martinez.
While serving his 157 years to life sentence at Centinela State Prison, he was attacked by two inmates and stabbed in the neck. The laceration of his spinal cord caused instant quadriplegia. Martinez requires 24 hour around the clock care, and will so for the rest of his life. He can barely turn his head, yet has zero motor skills in his arms and legs, nor control over bowel and bladder functions. He is not expected to ever regain any, let alone all of these bodily functions again.
Would you say he qualifies For Medical Parole under legislature act 3550 for medically incapacitated inmates? The parole Board denied his petition For Medical Parole due to his heinous crime and his aggrivated potential towards violence against women. Oh, you need more facts, don‘t you? Well in that case, read on.
In 1998, Martinez deliberately drove his car into two young women, pinning one beneath the vehicle. He then grabbed the incapacitated woman by the throat, broke her nose by punching her, and threw her into the backseat before driving her to a secluded location. That‘s where the worst part of his crime was committed upon his bloody and battered victim. I‘ll spare you the graphic details evident in his convition list of charges! Forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, rape with a foreign object, assault with a deadly weapon, battery causing serious injury, hit and run causing injury, and finally, kidnapping.
While in custody, he‘s threatened custody staff and nurses with great bodily injury, even provoking responses about knowing where they live. He was constantly verbally abusive using both vulgar and derogatory name calling to berate the nurses who tried to help him. Being that he was completely reliant on medical staff due to his paralysis, you‘d think he‘d be more respectful. That is not the case. He threaterned them on a regular basis, so is denial of Medical Parole, Poetic Justice?
So, you be the judge. Although paralyzed with no hope of normal motor skills ever again, does he pose a threat to public safety? The BPH thought so. And so, he appealed their decision, to which the 4th Dist. Appelate Courd ruled in his favor. They ordered the release of Steven Marinez, subject to whatever conditions The Board deems appropriate.
Before you say yes or no on this sensitive issue of Medical Parole, let us not for get that there was a young lady who was savagely raped over and over again by this guy. There‘s a part of her that‘s paralyzed as well for the rest of her life. Why should she be robbed of justice just because Martinez picked the wrong fight with the wrong inmate? Yes, he‘s paralyzed, but his mentality is that he‘d do it all over again if he could. Lifers are not allowed to be paroled until we change our way of thinking. The Board is very adamant about this criteria for parole. Does paralysis change that?
So, if you were in the position to decide the fate of inmate Steven Martinez, would you agree with the BPH, or with the Appellate Court? And more importantly, no matter what you decide, could you sleep at night with that decision?

Change – Submitted by Snoop, Aka Raphael
Long ago someone taught me that people enter our lives, some for a reason, some for a season, and some for a lifetime. Expect nothing to remain the same. For it is in the order of change that some thins must grow. It is also in the order of change, that some things must go.
Expect a change to come. Change will come whether you welcome it or not. It must first be recognized before it can ever be utilized. Change implements new ways and ideas in doing things. It is the order of change that brings about prosperity. You must seek to prosper in everything you set out to do, but the ideas must be done with the order of change.
Ideas begin as a thought, which are seeds that have been planted in the fertile ground of your mind. If you want change to manifest in your life, you must change the way you think. In order to do this, you must change your heart. Your mouth will speak whatever is in your heart. So, if you are speaking ignorantly, idly, or just plain old hating, that‘s what‘s in your heart and what you see in your life is the very manifestation of it. You must change your heart so that your speech can change. You are actually creating your future with the words you are speaking today. Change what you‘re speaking to words that bring life, words that will build you and the next person up.
Seek not to destroy others with angry words of malice. Remove envy and jealousy from your heart. These are the very things that will surely tear your hopes and dreams apart. Indeed you are committing suicide. You are killing whatever good that may have began to grow in yoru life before you could ever see it blossom. That‘s why some people think that speaking words of faith don‘t work. While waiting for the very thing they were hoping for, they killed the manifestation of it by speaking unencouraging words into the atmosphere against the thing they were hoping for, or against someone else. You reap what you sow. You planted a seed of death into your own garden. Now you may never see the manifestation of it simply because you trampled on someone else‘s garden.
Change your heart, so out of it will flow rivers of living water that will empover you to speak words of life, building and edifying yourself and others. From these seeds that you plant will return unto you a harvest of the very thing you were hoping for. Your garden will surely grow and bring forth nothing but good.
Dare to do different that the rest. Don‘t be persuaded to fall back just because no one else is taking this courageous stand. Be committed. Greatness requires everything that you have to give and more. Greatness will never go on sale, nor does it come cheaply. You must pay the price to obtain greatness. Don‘t allow anyone or any circumstance to detour you from your commitment to achieve greatness.
You must know that change can be a desperate thing. In the order of change, it can make on quite uncomfortable. It is the very thing needed to take you into your destiny. It will cause you to enter different choices and decisions in life in an effort to transform your into the new and improved you, preparing you for your future. I‘ve experienced a temendous amount of change in my personal life this past year. To be honest, it was quite disturbing at first. Nevertheless, I had to embrace the change in an effort to grow. When God closes one door on you, He will always open another door for you, allowing you to begin again.
In order to become an innovator of change, one must simply set out to gain knowledge, get understanding of that knowledge then, utilize wisdom and discretion based upon what you‘ve learned. Without knowledge people perish, so don‘t be ashamed, cry out for it.
Whatever you want outta life you simply have to get acqainted with what it will take to acquire it. If it is just to survive in life, then find out what it will take to achieve it, meditate on it constantly, then set out to accomplish it. If you set your sights higher and you want ot have a career and be successful at it, then research your field of choice and if at that time you still decide that is what you want to do, then go get it with all that you have to give. Don‘t shortchange yourself by taking shortcuts, because the time will come when your knowledge will be tested. If you are in school, do your own homework, ya dig? Save yourself the embarrassment of your conversations not measuring up to your degree.
Some people remain in their current position in life due to their lack of knowledge. They don‘t acutally know what it will take in life to go from their current status to one of elevation. The knowledge is out there, but some feel as if society owes them something and want society to come look for them and drop it in their lap. These people become stagnated and never grow up.

Q & A With T.C.
Q) How is Mama P doing after parole denial?
A) One day at a time. The blow of „No“ hurt, but she still gets up and faces each day. Depression is normal in such a situation, but she‘s coming back into her usual self. She has me right here beside her. If need be, I‘ll hold her up.
Q) How has the VSP to CCWF transition gone?
A) More smoothly for room #/6 than for some others. This cell has been blessed by the hand of God since I‘ve been in it beginning in July 1995. Mom and I are the only CCWF originals, the other six are all VSP, but let me tell you, they are a good crew. Some real keepers for sure.
Q) Is it true about the 85% going to 65% time credit?
A) That rumor hasn‘t been true since it began circulating over a decade ago. I have more of a chance of seeing Big Foot out my back window wrestling the Locness Monster.
Q) What‘s up with Marsy‘s Law and how it affects old lifers?
A) Old lifers, meaning those sentenced prior to the voter approved Victims‘ Bill of Rights, ADA Marsy‘s Law, are still being denied parole at terms consistent with the 2008 approved law. An inmate named Michael Vicks, not the pitbull fighting ring football player, but some other guy, filed an appeal on this matter. As a lifer sentenced prior to 2008, Vicks appealed the BPH denial of parole that they kept in accordance with Marsy‘s Law. The California Supreme Court granted review, however no decision as to the legality of the BPH decision has been determined yet. It should be noted that whatever the court rules in the Vicks case, will affect all lifers convicted before the effective date of the amendments applied in 2008.
Q) What does Prop 36 mean for Third Strikers now?
A) Okay, there‘s a lot involved here. First of all, not every third striker qualifies for resentencing. If one has a serious or violent felony as their current offense, they are not edigible. That long list includes the intent to cause great bodily harm. In order to get resentenced, any Third Striker that qualifies, needs to file a petition for recall of sentence under the newly created Penal Code 1170.126 to get a hearing. It must be filed within two years, so any Third Strikers reading this, need to march their butts to the Law Library.
Q) Whatever happened to Richard Masbruch?
A) After he met his march at CCWF, he got transferred to VSP and placed in a sort of protective custody medical ward. A friend at CIW reported that he was transferred there in October, again in PC. Word is that he‘ll remain on that status until his previous victims all transfer or parole from CIW. At such time, word is that he‘ll be released into the General Population. Nothing like setting a prihana loose into a pool of little fish, and acting like nobody will get hurt. I guess CDCR hasn‘t accepted yet that Richard is a threat to all woomen and that will never change, because he won‘t change.
Q) Do you have access to vitamins and other supplements?
A) Yes. They sell a multivitamin on canteen here, plus our quarterly box vendors all offer a list of the approved options. They offer Omega-3 fish oil and Glucosamine chondroitin, as well as your alphabet variety.
Q) Will CDCR house inmates in the dayrooms soon?
A) We hope not, but once we‘re at capacity, they‘ll need to house them somewhere. They can‘t just start taking us out back and shooting us. The odds are that they‘d house in our dayrooms before they ever did the gym. So much for the Supreme Court‘s ruling to reduce over crowding, huh?

December 14, 2012
I see in my mind‘s eye
Children playing in the street
They hold no fear now
Of whom they may meet

They‘ve never been safer
Than they are at this time
Where there is no sickness
No evil ….. no crime

Children playing with each other
Adults they‘ll never be
But as childen in heaven
Twenty angels with wings

On streets of gold they play
In fields they pet a lion
While here on earth families mourn
Day after day cryi‘n‘

And the teachers that died beside them
Making the ultimate sacrifice
Continue to watch over them
Until their parents arrive

They are safer now
Than they could ever be
These twenty innocent children
Angels with wings

Take Nothing for Granted
Whenever I stare at the walls in my cell, i am reminded that I can see. My mother has failing vision, and there are several who lost their vision today before the noon hour. I thank my God in heaven, I am not one of them.
When I awake each morning to the cold reality that I am in prison, i am thankful that I awake at all. I thank God that I have a bed to sleep in – it may be a cracker thin pad on a metal cookie sheet, but it‘s a bed all the same. I have blankets, a pillow, and a roof over my head. I pray for those who aren‘t so fortunate. I‘m reminded that although we lost our home in the aftermath of our arrests, we are not homeless. We are not at the mercy of the elements on the street.
When I‘m released to morning chow to race around the track for a meal I have no intention of eating, I thank my God for the mobility to do so. I‘m thankful for the option to eat when so manu don‘t know where their next meal will come from. I‘m grateful to be given the opportunity to be a blessing to my mother and a friend, who don‘t let that food go to waste.
When the dayroom is so loud that I can‘t hear myself think, I am thankful that I can hear at all. Somewhere in Afghanistan, an American soldier will lose his hearing to an explosion. He may lose more. I‘m not only thankful to his service, I‘m grateful it is not me. I‘m not that brave.
Every morning when I hear my mom in pain as she struggles to get out of bed, I stop whatever I am doing to help her. I am grateful that we‘ve been blessed to be together these last 23 years, even if not always in the same cell. I‘m grateful that every day is Mother‘s Day. I‘m thankful she‘s still alive and that my stepfather didn‘t kill her. I thank God for letting me see her each day. There are so many without that daily blessing.
What are you grateful for? When is the last time you voiced it? And what are you waiting for?

From The Heart
Let me take you an another journey down my Memory Lane.
The year was 1981 and I was 16 or 17 years old. My best friend since the fourth grade was Nancy Caruso, and in our Junior year of high school, her parents went on vacation. A long week of teenage fun, no parents, and the house all to ourselves. Gee, where is this going?
Nancy‘s sister, Cathy, had recently gotten married, and there was more than a case of beer left over in the garage. So, with her parents gone, her brother (over 21), agreed to say if asked, that he took a 12-pack. We had ourselves a little gathering of no more than five girls in the house. Because we couldn‘t take too much of the beer, we decided in our adolescent minds that drinking two bears each with a straw, would be equivelent to say four beers. Well, it sounded like a good idea at the time.
I had already had two beers, but Tracy was going to go be with her boyfriend two doors down, and gave me her open beer. Insert straw, will drink. That is right around when I did my Angus Young impersonation to „Whole Lotta Rosie“. We had the AC-DC tape in, and it was during „Let There Be Rock“ that the aire accumulated witin me from using the straw, made a most distubing announcement to my senses. I ran for the bathroom. It served me right, too! I puked my guts up. I‘ve always been a lightweight, I‘m not much of a drinker, and this is partly why.
I spent a good amount of time hugging that toilet like a long awaited lover. The intimacy with a toilet is so unbecoming, but there I was in all my glory ….. RALPH!
At some point, someone needed to use the toilet, so they helped me to the couch with an empty paint bucket, just in case, and not to paint. I remember Tracy was there, having come back. Next thing I knew, I was out.
The next morning I went to check on the bathroom, to clean it. Nancy had done it the night before and told me that I owed her one. I didn‘t really have a hangover, but remembering how I felt the night before never left me.
Cut forward to the day after Nancy‘s parents came home. Nancy and I had returned from Winchell‘s Donuts, and her mom asked if we wanted to play Spades. She hand been laying solitaire, and quickly shuffled the cards waiting for us to sit at the table. We were into our third or fourth hand when out of nowhere Mrs. C asked, „So, who got sick in the bathroom?“
You could‘ve heard a fly fart.
We were both looking down at our cards, and jolted our heads up looking at each other. Busted. Cold busted. Neither of us was open to being the first to respond. We both wondered if her brother, Rick, had already given us up. Our silence was met with information.
„Look, I‘m not mad, I just want to know what I missed. When I returned home, the blue rug was ont the bathroom floor. I changed the rugs before I left, so for it to be back oon the floor, tells me that Nancy cleaned the bathroom and changed the rugs. And Nancy never changes the rugs. Never! So that tells me that someone got sick. So, I looked in the garage and I fould empty beer bottles in the opened case. So, who got sick?“
Busted. Bold busted. Rick didn‘t tell on us. Our own immature ways told on us, but Nancy didn‘t A true friend till the end, she let me tell on myself. Her mother held my secret, never telling my mom, who would‘ve blown a gasket … and a few blood vessels too probably, ranting, „I raised you better than that!“ Yeah, well truth be told, I cherish the memory.
I learned a few things that weekend. First of all, don‘t , I repeat, don‘t drink beer through a straw! That‘s a big No-No. Secondly, if you do, it is strongly advised that impersonating Angus Young‘s wild guitar antics is a really bad idea. But, more importantly, it‘s vital to know who your friends are. I once heard a joke that a good friend will bail you out of jail, but a true friend will be sitting right there beside you iin that hole and say, „whew that was fun!“ Nancy was that friend. She let her mother answer her own question more or less, and then allowed me to tell on myself.
Over the years, I‘ve had many friends in and out of my life since Nancy and I parted ways prior to my arrest. She had her life with Bob, I had my life as a workaholic. In prison, I‘ve had people flow in and out of my life like water through a sieve. One however, has been there through thick and thin … through witnessing my heartache after betrayal, and even in those moments of shared silence, our hearts spoke volumes to one another.
I met Dee Dee Sala in 1999 while we were both enrolled in a Vocational Info-Tech class. We hit it off immediately. In the over 13 years that Dee Dee has been my Best Friend, we have not had a single argument. Not one disagreement. We listen while the other speaks, and we also hear what they are not saying. We have shared secrets and dreams and hopes. While my mom will always know me best, Dee Dee will always know me better than anyone else. They key to this friendship is an open line of communication. But also neither of us takes the other for granted or has that „what‘s in it for me?“ mentality. So often, I‘ve been hurt by those that have impure motives or a lack of appreciation for what I bring to the table of friendship. An open line of communication is the key to any healthy relationship and especially my friendship with Dee Dee.
And so I say from the heart … learn from this past year what hurt your feelings, and see what lessons you gained in those connections. If a friend made you feel jilted, is it a matter of perspective, or a matter of ethics? If you wish that your friends would be more open with you, are you willing to be equally open with them? Can you tell your friends anything and know it won‘t go anywhere? Why or why not? Friendships are like gardens … you need to cultivate them, tend to them when you can see that they need attention, and not wait to see something dying before you do.
I‘m not one to make New Year‘s Resolutions. I never believed in that sort of thing, but if I did, I‘d say that I would cultivate my garden of friendships, continuously. If tomorrow weren‘t to come, at least today, my friends know that I love them and that my heart beats stronger because of them. I wish you could all have a friend like Dee Dee, but that‘s not to say that you can‘t be a Friend like her. Hever, ever assume that they know how you feel. Tell them. In notes, cards, the smallest of gestures … everyone likes to feel special. If you‘re reading this, you are!
Namasté, TC

T.C. Paulinkonis Pauline “Barbara” Paulinkonis
W45118 514-16-4U W45120 514-16-41
PO Box 1509 PO Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610 Chowchilla, CA 93610

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13547180-brain-on-fire” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness” border=”0″ src=”http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1353173297m/13547180.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13547180-brain-on-fire”>Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5778057.Susannah_Cahalan”>Susannah Cahalan</a><br/> My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/450391922″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />

<br/><br/> <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

eloquent, nonpartisan, well-considered response to corruption!

Mel's Madness

The headlines overwhelm me. The financial markets. The NATO rioting. Our own politicians’ posturing about the debt “crisis.” I have grown weary of the political forums on Facebook and elsewhere. The caricatures of Obama as monkey. The tar baby references. The Right tells gays they are abominations.  The left talks loudly about dildos in response. The Right blames Obama. The Left blames eight years of George W. Bush. For everything. Believe it or not Ayn Rand is STILL being talked about though she never had anything to say. Every year teens “discover” her and use her as an excuse to not clean their rooms or take the trash out or babysit their little brothers and sisters.

A pop singer’s nipple was exposed during Good Morning America. Why do I care? We spend $13 billion on porn every year in the United States and girls are sold into sexual slavery

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Stevenleocampbell.wordpress.com-Thank you Steven!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He  gave out Reader Appreciation Awards to 7 people – My blog was one of them!

I Googled the award today, looking for the bright sunflower, and didn’t find its source. So Reader, this is what I think it is.  We bloggers, who run across out computer keys at night when the earth sleeps, play word games in the velvet ether of the night, toss out sorrows, hug happiness, create metaphoric mountains and potholes, and all the while race towards the world and each other in a prepublishing, I’m going to publish this tomorrow on WordPress!  We all fall into this category.  We who blog.  Those who read blogs.  Both, all, none, many.

The rules of the Reader Appreciation Award:

1. Include the award logo somewhere in your blog – check center photo above.  Ta da!!

2. Answer 10 questions (listed below) for fun if you want to.

3. Nominate 6 or 10 to 12 blogs you enjoy

4.  Provide the links to these blogs and let them know they’ve been nominated

5.  Provide a link to the blogger(s) who nominated you —- http://stevenleocampbell.wordpress.com

10 Questions and my answers for the Reader Appreciation Award

1.  What is your favorite color?

The color of the current book I am reading, or the wine colored cover of Gleanings, Baha’i Writings.

2. What is your favorite animal – no need for me to answer; everyone who reads this post will roar back.  Pug Dogs.

3.  What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

Lemonade, don’t drink Alcohol

4.  Facebook or Twitter

FB, my home away from home, the entrace to the train station called my life!

5.  Favorite patterns?

Pattern of oneness and connectedness in relations throughout the globe.

6.  Do you prefer getting or giving presents?

Giving, giving.

7.  Favorite number?

Nine (9)

8.  Favorite day of  the week?

Wednesday

9.  Favorite flower?

Purple Iris

10.  What is your passion?

Giving people opportunities to discover and/or develop their voice – teaching creative writing.

My 8 nominations for the Reader Appreciation Award:

http://normanpickles.blogspot.com/  – Pugs, pugs, and more pugs.  Enchanting when the heart is orphaned      and one’s physical space not allowed this type of 4 legged package of      entitlement.

http://pagesforsmallwages.wordpress.com/  Gwendolyn McIntyre – perceptions on      writing, life, things that go bump, keep the writer going!

http://www.bahaithought.com   Phillipe Copeland is author of the blog, “Baha’i Thought” which offers commentary on issues of religion, society, and culture based on the teachings of the Baha’i Faith.

http://mrslittlejeans.blogspot.com/,      mrslittlejeans is a scientist and offers enchanting views of her two      felines, photographs of same, and a sharing of mystic perceptions.

http://writingasasacredpath.blogspot.com/   Jill Jepson – I have her book, the back cover of which reads in part, “Discover the Soul of Writing,” writing medications, prompts, rituals, exercises all drawn from traditions of Buddhist monks, Navajo storytellers, and much more.

.http://www.studiomorran.com/  Studio Morran, dogs, crafts, art, visual whimsy!

http://gerrygwilson.com/about/  A published writer, writing teacher of note, an encourager to all

http://whimsygizmo.wordpress.com/  prolific poet, enchantress with words …

http://wordrustling.wordpress.com/  metaphors and smiles – enchanting poetry-Hannah Gosselin

http://swthink.blogspot.com/  so whatcha think  – Brooke Ryter – a book, an impact, soon to be revealed – check it out.

http://arachnoidcystsupport.blogspot.com 

Maria McCutchen has written a book, It’s All in Your Head, and I think her story should be widely read.  I’ll show image. I got my book at Alibris, an online bookstore, which sometimes has prices less than Amazon.  At any price, this is an important book.

http://lublenok.blogspot.com/  Leonid’s World  is the name of his blog.  We met him inMinsk when we gave English Club sessions.  He’s fascinating, innovative, and dear, and he speaks of past history and his family.

Love and best wishes to all.

Lynne Hippler and I participated in a remote viewing/healing process about a week ago, on me, the happy subject.  What follows will dip into that type of therapy. Perhaps I should mention, I was a 4 pound baby, had a heart quirk (2 aortic valve openings, instead of 3) which was discovered when I was 53 (smile).  I have done traditional and alternative healing for years.  First one in family to get the childhood diseases, had Mono twice, and when 42, returning to the University, had Epstein Barr Virus, which the medical profession didn’t acknowledge.  What followed were hilarious essays way after the fact.  I was single mom with obstreperous but wonderful young boy, living on campus with him, going to school, hanging in.  I had sold everything to go back to school.  Immune system plague followed me for years.  It liked me, what can I say.  Went to Russia/Ukraine/Belarus, a dip in Siberia.  Home, stenosis of aortic valve, and more, too much to mention.  Health returns through surgery, antidepressents, a good psychiatrist, rolfing, walking, fresh air of Seattle, and a loving husband.  I have had other sagas, but that’s for another day.  So I am pretty much like an old engine which keeps on chugging, and help is found in varied ways.  Below is one of these ways.  I hope you enjoy.

Esther:  You read my Without A Net, a Sojourn in Russia and emailed me.  It turns out we have mutual friends.  I offered to send you my second book You Carry the Heavy Stuff, and then you said you would like to thank me for the book by giving me a remote treatment from where you live, in Norway. Mind you, I am in Pasadena. (Readers:  I have lung and heart stuff, and toot around like a good used truck).Of course I said yes because I’ve done a lot of body work and this intrigued me.

Esther:  Do you have a definition of your practice?

 Lynne:  I give alternative treatments, both onsite and remote.  I’m a Registered Nurse and Zone Therapist, and I’ve helped to form The Norwegian Healer Association and was a member of their first board. 

Lynne: I’ve worked since 1984 in the alternative field.  The methods I use are:  Zone Therapy, Healing, Nutritional Counseling, Energy Balancing, Caring and Counseling Conversation, Electric Acupuncture, Stones and Crystals, Affirmations and Visualizations, Bach Flower Remedies, and Remote Treatments.

 Esther:  You also give remote treatments for animals don’t you?

Lynne:  My intention is to help people and animals to get balanced and feel better.

Esther: I had a Rolfer who practiced on horses.  I called him “Mr. Thumb” because he had so much strength in his hands.  I was Rolfed months after open heart surgery, and it was exceedingly helpful.

Lynne:  Yes, Rolfing has a lot to offer.

Esther:  How did you get started in this type of practice?

Lynne:  It all started when I was working as a nurse in a hospital in Hammerfest,  Norway.  One day, while assisting a patient into a wheelchair, I injured my back.  I had difficulty sitting for a while, and while I was attending my Saami language class (the Saamis are the indigenous peoples of the North Calotte), a friend sitting next to me said, “You should contact my sister.  She’s the only Zone Therapist in Finnmark (the most northern part of Norway).  I did, and after six treatments, I was much improved.  Soon after this I moved to the eastern part of Finnmark to Tana.

While there, I started having problems with my stomach and was sent to the hospital three times.  While in the hospital, I had the good fortune of getting acquainted with a resident doctor who got to know me and then told me to, “Go home and heal yourself.”  And, I did.  Still, I knew that I didn’t know enough, and in fact hardly knew anything at all.  So I contacted the Zone Therapist who lived inHammerfestand said I wanted to become a Z.T.  I asked where she had gone to school.  She gave me the name of her instructor and the school in Oslo.  I applied and was admitted to a 2-year course of study.  I graduated in 1986.  During that time I also learned how to use the pendulum (The pendulum measures energy, i.e. you place it over an area and note which direction it rotates and how large the circle is. This tells you about the energy of the object).  My instructor said, “You have warm hands.  My instructor was also a homeopath, so we learned about homeopathy too.

Esther:  Do you practice this inNorway?

Lynne:  Yes I do, as well in Sweden, Finland, and the States when I am visiting in those countries, or if people want a remote treatment.

Esther:  What are your other interests, professions?

Lynne:  I received a B.S. degree from the University Of  Iowa (USA) in Therapeutic Recreation in 1966.  During my years inEurope I became a Registered Nurse and a Zone Therapist, as well as studied various other forms of alternative treatment.  I was also a member of the first board for The Norwegian Healer Association.

Esther:  Can you give the reader an image or two of what you experience when you view someone from afar? 

Lynne:  When I am doing a remote treatment, I need it to be quiet around me.  I try to create a spiritual atmosphere, and I want to be open to the guidance that comes to me. 

Esther:  I now know they should be lying down quietly, just breathing in and out, calm, and no disturbances.  I tweaked that a bit, but was in a good tranquil space.

Lynne:  Yes.  It is important to have a quiet atmosphere around the person receiving the treatment. It’s also very important that there are no electrical devices close by, i.e., TV, radio, microwave, computer, etc.  They can emit electrical energy that gets in the way of what I am trying to do.  For the same reason, it is important not to eat or drink during the treatment, because the body should be free to receive what is happening and not have other duties to take care of, i.e. if you are giving it food or drink to deal with.

Esther: So take us down the reader path of remote viewing, healing from afar. 

Lynne:   In addition to what I said above, I try to be as open as possible to receive the necessary guidance and then do what seems right. Nothing is planned ahead of time. At the end of the treatment I use muscle testing (kinesiology) to test if there are any affirmations, exercises, diets, etc. that would be helpful to assist in “getting balanced and feeling better”. These are sent in an email to the person who received the treatment. I also encourage people to contact me by email if they have any questions or comments.

Esther: You may use me as an example if you wish.

Lynne:   I don’t discuss what I specifically do during any treatment.

Esther:  Why are you in Norway?

Lynne:   That’s a long story…..The short version is that I decided to move toFinland in 1973, after having become a Baha’i in 1971. At the time I had never been out of North America and I felt there was a lot out there in the world that I could do and experience and many friends out there waiting to be met.

I lived in Finland from 1973-1980, graduating from nurses’ school in 1980. Things worked out in such a way that I moved to Norwayafter I graduated, because some friends suggested that I might like to live in Norway. So, I moved. I have always been open to new and different ways to do things, etc.

I have been a Norwegian citizen since 1985.

Esther:  What are your hopes for the future?

Lynne:  I very much enjoy living in Norway.  It is my home now, so I can’t imagine moving to another country. As far as how I live the rest of my life, I hope I can be useful to others as long as I can, in whatever ways I can, and to enjoy life to the fullest!

Esther: Any other comments?

Lynne:  I’m glad that I bought your first book, Without a Net: A Sojourn in Russia.  That’s why I got in touch with you, and now here I am sharing with others through you. Very interesting how things work out, isn’t it?

Esther:  What other types of work do you do?

I also do translations from Norwegian to English, in case that is of interest to anyone. While I was in the States from 1996-2006 I did some work with genealogy – letters and books that people, originally from Norway, wanted translated.

If people would like to contact me, here is my website: http://www.behandlingsplassen.no.

Lynne:  Below is the text of the email I send out to people who are interested in a remote treatment:

This is how my remote treatments work:

We agree what day and time of day we will have the treatment.

($XX USD or $XX CD is deposited into my account.

You send me an email when this has been done, and then I do the remote treatment at the agreed upon time. Most people experience that it is best to be quiet during the treatment,

i.e. to lie down, just like you would during a physical treatment.

Please turn off computers, radios, TV’s, etc. The treatment lasts one hour.

Usually there are some treatment suggestions I have after the treatment,

and I will email those to you.

If you have any questions or comments, please email those to me: Lynnehi9@live.com

My bank account in Washington Mutual Bank/Chase,Palm Desert,

California is: 440 2088 060.

Thank-you for your interest,

Lynne Hippler

Jon Klæbosv. 1 C

8019 Bodø

Norge/Norway

47 786-03744

Website:   www.behandlingsplassen.no

(Reader, I experienced a state of calm, but towards the end of my session, I felt enormous fatigue.  Her advice to me was right on, and I might add, exceedingly helpful.  Healing is a process, and I’m glad I was part of this process.

an odyseey harrowing and yet incredible

a journey of illness, misdiagnosis, conundrums and courage

Maria McCutchen, a stay-at-home mother with two young children and a tight schedule, couldn’t find the dairy section of her local supermarket one day.  After the usual questions women ask themselves, about stress, being over tired, or I’m imagining this, she asked her husband one night, “Squeeze my head,” and he does.

Her head ached, and her head also felt like a water balloon pumped full of water, a sense of building pressure.  He wrapped his hands around her head, and he squeezed.  Her thoughts became more clear, and she felt better.  He stopped and a feeling of flood water filled her skull, and her brain fog returned.

She consulted a mild, quiet and pleasant doctor.  He will be the first of many.  She answered the questions, and then follows a routine she will learn by heart:  “Stick your tongue out, smile, hold your hands out in front of you like you’re carrying a pizza and close your eyes.”  Ah, and she also walked across the floor of his miniscule office. Long story short, after an MRI, and a call the very next day, “We see something,” the doctor’s voice matter-of-fact, offering no more or no less says, “I need you to come in.”

She had a cisterna magna, a posterior fossa arachnoid cyst. But the doctor was not concerned, words such as “benign” and “unremarkable” floated over her head.  Moments later, a handshake, and a “You’re fine,” because you see most people are born with type of cyst and they don’t cause problems.  She returned home wondering, what if I’m the exception?  No time for that.  Her husband lost his job.  Their insurance will run out.

Fast forward to  a harrowing pain-filled drive to live in New Mexico, episodic endurance of brain tests done incorrectly, dismissal of her symptoms, suspicion by doctors and blatant repudiation of her illness.  Lace that in with family concern, trying to raise 2 kids, keep a family together, and obliterating pain, agony, nausea, you name it, but then, she finally finds a doctor in Arizona.  He will recommend brain surgery.  the tests before, during and after are trauma filled and painful, and there will be trouble in River City after her brain surgery.  But still she reassured herself that she’s in the hands of a good neurosurgeon specialist in neurology in Arizona.  She must, however, return to New Mexico.  More happened.

I sat down after 7 o’clock last night to read this book.  I got up at 12.30 noting, “I’m up too late again,” but I had finished the book.  I didn’t move.  I sat on my black leather couch in our small pool house turning page after page.

The unsaid around her struggles reveals a very courageous, loving, gutsy woman in extreme pain, with great times of hopeless and yet a warrior spirit.  That makes a noble being in my book.

Her account is well written.  I think this book should go viral.  Yeah, I just broadened my blog base, and here I am using trendy terms, go viral, but the bloggers and FBers out there will know.

It’s All in Your Head – Maria McCutchen.  Copyright (c), Tate Publishing, LLC.

http://www.creativewritenow.com

280 pages – $15.99 (paperback)
$9.99 (digital download)

A harmonica

We sit inside a lodge near Lake Baikal in Siberia. It is 1990 and all the young people are going off onto a boat, where they will come back and say with a crooked grin, “We had to eat the raw fish lunch.”

Leslie, myself and a few others have stayed behind, feeling a bit ragged in a large hunting lodge, alone, empty time, tired.   I have an enormous sore throat.  I feel hot red fur going from the back of my throat down to the back of my ankles.  Well, yes I do exaggerate.  But this is coupled with the fact we are in the middle of nowhere, in the tundra maybe that’s what it’s called.”  I will later incur a toe plague which will itch interminably as we wait at the Ulan Ude Airport, and I will be hustled away to some hallway in an inner corridor and a Russian lady with white hat and lab coat will apply green stuff on my entire foot liberally.  This green stuff will remain stuck on my whole foot for the length of the full 63 days on tour with a musical group in Siberia,Ukraine, i.e.,Kiev, L’Vov.  I was like an aging rock star, no voice, green feet, stuck in the back of the chorus.

In L’Vov, we will hear rumors of a revolution which will turn out to be two arguing forces yelling at one another in a downtown park, and where we have found a coffee place and gorgeous pastries, but that’s another story.

Leslie walks into my room, a large woman, with a very small harmonica.  She sits on my camp-type bed and plays,  Notes, small, steady and true fall into my heart.

A knock at our door.

We open it, and a doctor whom we met the previous week, on instinct stopped by to visit.  He gives me stuff for my throat, and I am agog by the fact that we are so isolated, in a strange city, trees, roads, fish and the vastness of Lake Baikal, and my very unspoken needs are met.  It’s like that.

Leslie plays and plays, and I settle into my bed, comforted.  She then says, ‘I had a dream last night.  We were all knots in a fisherman’s net.  When my knot went down because of something I did that was negative or plocha, Russian word for not so hot, bad, I pulled the whole net down a little.  Then she said, pausing to pipe out My Old Kentucky Home’s first few bars, “When my knot when up, I also brought up all the knots with me.  We are all knots in a fisherman’s net.”

Sore throat and all, those simple words, framed in amber notes of harmonic beauty, stayed in the inner lining of my soul.  And that’s the news from Lake Baikal this week, where the fish are full-bodied , the lake is wide and pure, and all the people in the lodge go home deepened and filled with the wonders of humanity.

Five weeks ago I had a steady Sorry Gnat blog following of about 7 people.  People know me a bit around the City of Pasadena.  A few months ago my Irish Mug was on the cover of Pasadena Weekly, because I teach writing at the Women’s Room in Pasadena, a workshop for volunteers, homeless women, and women in transition.

I also teach a couple of other  writing workshops in the Pasadena- mainly at the La Pintoresca Branch, and conduct a small one, for donation only, in the basement of Ten Thousand Villages, the most fantastic and aesthetically snappy fair trade store, located on Lake and California.

I felt stagnated by my inadequacies with my blog.  I had a major friend who has helped me a lot.  The fabulous Mizz V – shrunk my SorryGnat banner, twiddled and twaddled comments and headings appropriately, but she got a job, and I ordered 10-12 books from the library on Blogging.

I need to stretch I thought.  This is how I get creative thoughts.  They nudge me or pop up when my nose is halfway down my first cup of coffee in the morning.  Along came #@MNINB, and I was a hashtag apprentice, a Linkedin Babe, a Twitter type of gal.  I’m already on FB with people from around the world.  It helps to travel and live in other countries.

A few weeks ago someone sent The Versatile Blogger award, and I have still to figure out how to affix it to a margin type area so it hangs out in the neighborhoods of facts and figures about this writer who’s up there in age, but has the writing voice of a 35-year old.

This week, of which Monday seems a 100 years ago, 2 of the #MNINB recommended me for a Liebster because for the month of  April MNINB challenge a goodly amount of writers scattered from Massachusetts to Malta (not really) connected, with a spirit of oepn welcome and we cheer each other on.

So thank you to  Susan Craig, http://bysusancraig.wordpress.com/ .  She’s a scientist with a background in neurobiology, and studied effect of Alzheimer’s disease proteins on brain cells for over 10 years.  She currently teaches college biology.  Her favorite thing to do is write books about strong, smart women and men who love and appreciate them.  Her blog reveals true stories, science material, fiction, inspiration, and you name it.  Lucky us.  Lucky me, I subscribe to her blog.

And also, another blogger nominated me during the same week of 100 years:

Thank you Kristi Carver, http://kristicarver.blogspot.com/2012/05/  Kristi is a writer, small business owner, and Registered Nurse.  My twin was a Registered Nurse, and believe you me, I felt safe with her in my life. Thanks Kristi.  When you visit her blog, you fall into a heavenly photo of a lake in Colorado, and all tension slips away.  Colorado beauty, plus aspiring author, who is a blueberry fanatic, wine enthusiast, and constant reader, and a memoir addict.  Be still my heart.

Now, I pay it forward and nominate up to 5 blogs with less than 200 followers, and let these nominees know they’ve come under the Liebster shadow by leaving a comment on on of their posts.  I added the Liebster image, so I’m okay ont hat.

My nominees are:

http://kofeart.wordpress.com/category/doodles/ – what can I say? When the world gets too lurchy, self-absorb, insane, I click on Kofeart’s site and her art enchants me.  I hope you like it too!

http://blackwatertown.wordpress.com/ I don’t know if he has 1,000 followers, but he was one of my original 7 devotees, and he’s special in my blogger’s heart; funny, current, aware, and enchanting.

 The blog & the book – are by Paul Waters from Northern Ireland, writes, makes radio & telly shows, blogs and footer about with social media. Get in touch if you’d like me to do it for you, either here or at paulwaters99 at hotmail.com .  It’s not a kangaroo, it’s a horse’s head, which might be from The Godfather. The pith helmet however, definitely used to sit on the head of Spike Milligan.

http://krpooler.com/feed/ (Memoir Writers Blog)I need all the information on Memoirs.  I don’t know if she’s widely blogged, so I added her, because I learn from people like this blogger.

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-of-cake.html – okay, okay, the blog is about depression – but to a writer, artist, or whatever creative type, depression is a fantastic topic, and I am sure she heals herself by her work.  Her images are enchanting.  I adore her post.  What can I say, check it out!

http://swpulley.wordpress.com/ – Artist, writer, traveler, whimsy, E.B.-White-wit goes outer space, early member of CHPercolatorcoffeehouseforwriters.com, incredible friend, encourager, and lives next town over.  His Uneasy Rider posts are terrific.  He’s the reason why I write better than I used to after my first book, and why I published (he helped-bless his saintly soul) You Carry the Heavy Stuff, and is just all in all an enchanting wit and fried of both myself and Bill and so many others.

So that’s it. Now they check out The Liebster Award, and sally forth.  Gratitude to all who labor! Smile.

http://educationunderfire.com/the-vision/

Rainn Wilson did a college tour, not for the sake of comedy, but for that of human rights. Along with other panelists from Amnesty International, Education Under Fire, and the Bahá’í faith,Wilson spoke to a packed auditorium about a serious topic: the religious persecution of over 300,000 Iranian members of the Bahá’í faith.

The history of Bahá’í persecution dates back to the group’s inception. However recent government-sanctified systemic disenfranchisement (or as it’s called in polite circles, the passing of discriminating laws that bar Iranians identifying as Bahá’í from basic human rights like public services and education) has escalated to the point of attempts to shutter the underground university, Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education, and mass arrests of BIHE professors.

Many teachers are serving 4-5 year prison sentences from their arrest in May, 2011.

But why is the funnyman on a college campus for something so grave? “My family is Bahá’í. Had our family been living in Iran, my 7-year-old son would not be allowed go to school.”Wilsonhas appeared in Baha’i conferences before, but it was the events in May that helped organize these groups together. Amnesty International had been trackingIran’s human rights violations since the overthrow of the Shah during the 1970′s. Another group produced its namesake documentary, Education Under Fire, was born from the reactions of volunteers to keep the secret school operating and to spread the news of the persecution. The team spoke at several local Boston colleges like Boston University,Wheelock College, Harvard, and Tufts.

                       

Director Jeff Kaufman, actor Rainn Wilson, BIHL graduate Mojdeh Rohani , and Northeast Regional Director of Amnesty International Joshua Rubenstein .

The documentary screening and subsequent talk was intended to be a call to action.Wilsontold the audience, “Go and ask your schools to accept BIHE credits or help teach an online class.” Flyers given to attendees listed over a dozen ways potential activists could help their cause. But perhaps the best testimony came from a BIHE graduate, Mojdeh Rohani, now a graduate of BU’sSchoolofSocial Work.

“I still love my country. But when I’ve been asked to go and help them with disasters they find out I’m a Bahá’í, and I am rejected immediately. I have not been able to go back.”

The panel disbanded, and Wilson was whisked off towards the next stop of his tour, the airport.

To find out more about Education Under Fire, check out their website.

I hope people can respond to this! Thank you, Esther

The theme was forgiveness, i.e., “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”  Luke 23:26-34

First a group poem – in a writing session each woman took 2 lines and voila:

Friday, April 6, 2012 – Women’s Room Group Poem – Jennifer Robinson read:

 

Women Speak

Voices from the Women’s Room, a Group Poem

 Forgiveness is such a big word of many colors,

bruise yellow, anger red, wounded blue, white hope.

Most of the time we feel unforgiven.

The world would be a better place if we acknowledge we are forgiven.

“Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.”  Even their

unforgiveness causes us to be unforgiving.

Forgive us, Father, for we sometimes know what we do.

Though my flesh is torn and our hearts are broken.

Forgiveness comes from love we received

when we were made in God’s own image.

I see the world of peace within my eyes growing together as we do our part.

The days seem long, and the nights seem short.

and

FORGIVENESS      by     Esther Bradley-DeTally  For Good Friday Service April 6, 2012

To everything but anguish the mind will soon adjust…Roger White

 

After a great wound no feeling comes,

But, a white hot pain settles upon you.

You stand shivering in a fire of agony,

“Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do,”

is a whispered voice, hidden deep within cumulus clouds,

blocked tributaries of feeling, your heart a mere stump.

Enough, enough, enough.

The well-intentioned speak of forgiveness.

Skippingly on the tongue they toss

“Turn the other cheek” which produces

a yellow, curled up feeling within.

You’ve turned the other cheek so much,

you have whiplash, and your chiropractor

is upping his fees.

You are so done

Chumped out by the world

Sick of greed lurch on the planet

Numb to the scalding rhetoric of gossip,

absolute abandonment of your Lord’s teaching

on mercy, on love Thy neighbor,

Dormancy pokes its head up, a tickling feeling

Your nerve endings prickle, and you realize

not wanting to, you are coming to life.

It’s a crucible this world, and you have

gone through the white heat of change

Ignorance and love will not cohabit within

You cast away the purple bruise of resentment

Which led you to the heart of your journey.

Your crucible.

You will no longer resent

You will not forget

Never forget

But, you are a leaf in the wind

Of the Will of your Lord

And you will love again.

It was a good day.

A friend, Al, who is in advertising,  said to me one day over coffee at Peets in California, “You need to have a blog,” and so because of that casual remark and my faith in his techy wisdom.  I commenced walking over rocks and pebbles of techy knowledge, and a blog was born.

September 5, 2006, Sorry-Gnat enters hyperspace life letting those who are interested know that in the Baha’i Writings one can go on the path of transformation and be a sorry gnat and become a giant eagle.

“I’ve just had lunch at Tuohey’s Restaurant in Alhambra and had dinner there last night.  No I’m not trying to be giant like an eagle physically.  I’ve ruminated a good deal about stuff to put into this blog:  poetry?  pug dogs? notes about books?  human rights? racial justice: schlepping, Esther, don’t forget schlepping.  I have a lot to learn on this blog, and will consult with my techy friends as to how, what, why, when!  I’m reading The Earth is Flat, Thomas Friedman, excellent. Very good writer.  We just saw Jessica, our granddaughter, at an early soccer practice.  She’s almost 7-going into first grade, and all the little girls are not aggressive players at all, but very cute.

Today, April 5, 2012.

Well Jessica is 12 now, and has an equanimity about her and kindness to all that I adore.  My family was like a Rorschach test, and I used to wonder what it’s like if my kid had the soul of an accountant.  He didn’t, and that’s okay, but Jessica, my granddaughter’s mom, leans to that side:  stable, and a tremendous educator with regards to child rearing.

Okay, I do blogs, and  at times in my life the only themes seem to be pug dogs or spirituality, and for a while pug dogs were winning.  Of late, it’s books, and maybe a while or so about my adequacy level down by my ankle bones,  blogging wise-the techy side.  I’ve avoided Twitter.  Facebook?  Boys and girls, I’ve got FB down; I have friends all over the globe.  The good thing about moving 17 different times in 25 years is you meet a lot of people.

Sure I grieved over leaving some, but I tell you, I’ve met incredible people and to this day I never cease to wonder.  Today we had lunch at Farideh’s and we had Tadiq, golden crusted flat slabs of potato under Basmati rice.  Oink.  We had wild salmon, vegetables even turnip.  Then we had dessert served on creamy white china and looked like a vibrant water color:  blueberries,  peachy colored mango, and a scoop of vanilla soy ice cream.  I’m so slogged with fatigue and memories of good food, my brain turns to sludge.  Later I hooked up with Jean a new person in our Baha’i community.

She’s new to Pasadena, and hasn’t been in the States for 10 years.  She has lived in India, and I can’t remember the name of her city; small – 5 million, but she’s traveled all over. Did I mention she’s blind and gets around by cane.  We’ve hung out before.  She’s done everything; social worker, worked in radio stations, done voice over, teaches ESL, works via the computer.  No dust on her heels!  It gave me just another chance to marvel.

Tomorrow, I’m off at a little before noon to a Christian church up the Street on Lake, in Altadena/Pasadena area, where the Ecumenical Council is observing Good Friday.  I remember Good Friday when I was Catholic, sitting in the silence of the church, the religious figures draped in purple silk, and I remember a day before, called Holy Thursday, when Liz, my twin, and her best friend Jannie Cleary, walked and visited the 7 Catholic churches, a tradition we participated in only once.  When we got home that day my sister Meb (Mary Ellen Bradley) was hanging her head out of the bath room window on the second floor, showing a newly bleached blonde.

We were three sisters; close in many ways, and yet Meb would die of alcoholism, as my mother did.  They were terrific.  They both played classical music, and I can’t not stop when I hear Chopin’s polonaise in something Minor.  My mom died when we were 17, and my sister died when I was living in Dnepropetrovsk. She was the size of a twig, ravished by emphysema and years of alcoholism which I think she kicked towards the end.  She had once survived on the streets for five years.

So back to homeless women.  I’ve done two things in my life influenced by these two women so close to my heart.  My mom had Latvian Babushkas come to our little house on Wren Street, tuck into the small kitchen with the red checkered oilcloth table covering, and she’d teach them English for free.  They talked of their husbands, “lost behind the Iron Curtain,” and I’d visualize a large iron shower curtain stretched across a vast empty land.

Years later, in 1990, I traveled to Siberia with Bill, my husband.  I wrote a book Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, which tells about Meb, Russia,Ukraine, and all.  People like it.  I often thought  my mother’s selfless act of reaching out had reverberations into the future, when I, her daughter, very much her daughter, went into Slavic countries for service only.

That said, we’ve lived in Pasadena for 11 years, and it’s the longest we’ve ever lived anywhere.  Bill is 77 and I am 73, and first we house sat in a gorgeous condo for 3 years and then found this pool house, and we can afford the rent they charge which is not high.  I’ve survived open heart surgery, having the surgeons write the whole business off for free, and I’ve had a lot of trips to Cardiology at Kaiser, bleeding out, stuff like that, but now I thrive.  I’m like a Russian doll that tips over and bounces back.  Someone said to me the other day, “You have a strong life force,” and I do.  I feel life gets better and better for women as they age. I am no longer moth-holed by self-doubt and scalding inner words of rebuke.  I’m me now, and I sort of glow at times, at least when I’m teaching writing, meeting friends for coffee and always stretching to do more.

Poem by Chris Annick

poetry of women from women's room - fund raiser flyer

A few years ago I gave a goodly amount of writing workshops-method, process, and did so for free at the local library branch of La Pintoresca in Northwest Pasadena.  The Women’s Room a group formed and created by members who were connected to an Ecumenical Council realized women in Pasadena, either homeless or in transition, had nowhere to go.  This is a day refuge, but oh what a refuge. Showers, laundry, good food, make up suggestions now and then are available, and oh, my writing class.   Long story short, a room above the food pantry of Friends in Deed was created, like a small living room, dusty peach walls, art with symbols of 3 poppies, art on the wall, small kitchen and on Tuesdays 1-3 I teach writing.  Everyone is welcome, the volunteers and the guests (homeless/in transition) and it is truly solidified in love and community.  The bonds are strong.

We were asked to have something for tomorrow’s program at this Church.  I wrote a poem on forgiveness.  I’ll publish it later.  Then I had the women do a group poem, each writing 2 lines.

They’ve performed before; different women, different voices, and at first they were terrified.  But after they had the guts to get up behind a microphone and say their piece, their pieces, they were and are proud.  You can’t take that away from anyone.  Above is a poem written by Chris Annick which graced our first fundraiser flyer.

I always say to them before they read, “Own this.  Own your voice,” and by golly they do.  So with that, I didn’t expect this to be such a rattle on blog, but here you go, and that’s the facts Jack.

 From You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Esther Bradley-Detally – on Lulu.com., Amazon, and   Author’s possession 

Children of the Stolen Ones
(for Gloria Haithman—December 2, 2004)

“Greens” makes me think of Ola Mae’s Greens, down in my belly, in Olean,New York, as crowds of us burst into Ola Mae’s Restaurant on a regular basis to shoot the breeze, eat her famous Greens, and just to feel all’s well with the world.  Here in Pasadena,California, the subject of greens and chitlins came up.  I thought of Ola Mae, the camaraderie, her corn bread too, and just feeling part of the woodwork welcomed by her open heart and Best-Greens-Cook-In-The-World self.

In Pasadena, on a Wednesday night, Gloria talked about the same thing, but went a step further.  She spoke of soul food on another level, the spiritual teachings of love, hope, and faith.  She spoke to our insides where there are no colors.  Gloria said, “We were not colored when we were born.  Yeah, I thought, we came in that way, and no one crayoned some in, or bleached others out.

What if, instead of calling the dark ones, the Negroes, the People of Color, names given by history book scribes, say, “Black or African-Americans?” Then a phrase measured out, by Gloria, entered our gathering, all the while she was telling of a story of friends who called themselves The Sisters.  These Sisters went to South Africa, honoring their roots, and seeking answers to their identities.  On the trip they were constantly greeted by groups of women who would sing to them.  One day they met some African women who had the “Who are You? Where are you from?” look in their eyes, all the while staring at The Sisters.

One of the South African women said, “They are Children of the Stolen Ones.” Back in Pasadena, sitting on the orange velvet couch, those small noble words, “The Stolen Ones,” bombarded my heart as I felt my soul sink into a place of utter knowingness, of a reverence and majesty revealed.

As a white lady, an older one, who learned of our essential oneness some forty years before and humbly stayed on the thorny and pitted path of discovery and unity, I sat there stunned.  I repeated the phrase over and over to myself.  “Children… Children of the… Children of the Stolen Ones….”

Yes, and for me it was a rightful and merciful appellation.

Finally, dignity and solace packed into five words.  Measure it out on the tongue, slowly: “The Stolen Ones… Children of the Stolen Ones.” Feel your heart melt as if a great and timeless grief has finally been acknowledged.

My heart bowed a humble bow to the true nature of an incredible people, their majestic endurance, their ancestors.  I’m no artist and don’t know my colors, and I live in a world that thinks it knows its colors, and colors inside the lines, not outside—the “lines” being the operative word.

Well, I’d say in this year of 2004, “Maybe we should hear The Sisters, our sisters’, call from South Africa,” and use lines to wrap around: Majesty, Dimension, Endurance, Courage.  Name every quality our sisters and brothers of African heritage carry with fortitude, and you come up with, in my book, “The Chosen Ones.” And, what if God and his Messengers and Prophets saw that these Chosen Ones endured trials similar to the Minor Prophets? And what if Bahá’u’lláh knew His love for His Chosen Ones, knew they suffered the banishment, the chains, the whippings, as He, in the Path of God?

So here’s the final what if—what if this planet really was a testing ground to see who could show courage under fire, love of God, love of people despite that the Stolen Ones and their kin were also robbed? But wait, here’s another view.  I think the Children of the Stolen Ones are the Morning Glories of our age! Their children; their children’s children.  It’s the story Morning Glory.

Let’s proclaim, let’s shout, and let us bow in reverence to our ancestors, ransomed so we might reframe our hearts and join each other in history’s future where lines are a thing of the past and colors are loved-filled stripes of every hue.

Skin Color

At the Black History Parade, put on by the Jackie RobinsonCenter, one cold, but sun-emerging day, paralytic agony stops my nouns, verbs and adverbs describing skin color or lack thereof.  Pain fills my heart as my eyes Braille the sadness of a man’s face, deep rivets line his cheeks, highlighting generational discounts and the pitter patter of white voices.

Numbness clots my throat at this morning’s Parade, while those in other parts of the city, those from White gulags, tuff lawns, buff cars, and spread glossy interracial magazines, photo ops on tables, never viewed by the living.

Brown vs. Board, wasn’t that inTopeka?

In Idaho, Bill and I share a table with a Nigerian psychiatrist.  It’s lunch time in a hospital cafeteria,  and Bill asks a question which floats over our salads:

“Do you have to emphasize your African heritage”?

An acknowledged “Yes.”

A rueful, half-stated reply, “My children will not have that advantage.”

On the broad palettes of television’s life experts on society, are noticeable by their absence of color. Hey, what about The News Hour with Gwen Ifill?  Yeah, and Colin Powell, and… Yeah?  Hey guys, take the tour of Any City, USA, where two separate neighborhoods exist—bookends of ideological contrast.  One is spacious, forgiving, and tolerant, with wide streets, large houses and gracious plants, suggesting it’s easy to feel benevolent.  The other part contains narrow streets, boards on windows, hunger at night, restless poverty, and shootings.  Skin color privilege cuts its wide swath.

I can say no more.

Image

A string of laughter is all the trees lining our long driveway, the bamboo, the eucalyptus, all laughing, small nasty chuckles, because once again, I am thatched headed, in pjs and not walking.  It was a choice, but then the lure of words, the Zen of quiet air pushing out of the fan under my laptop; which if you really must know, I found this fan at a garage sale for $1.00, mighty fan.

A string of laughter makes me think of kites flying over Afghanistan, that land of dust and caves, and cities, and brave women’s hearts, and children’s tears, and when the kites are allowed, they fly into the air, twisting, turning, colors.  What are the colors of kites in the Afghan air? And someone’s heart exults, and then of course, there’s the birds.  They were banned during the time of the Taliban, and now I hope they are back, and I will sit back, and stop clickety clacking across the a, ;.s;. k, dk’s and think in peace you can’t own the sky..  It’s been tried, but the sky is ours, and then a heavenly invisible low long drawn out chuckle, like God was a Westerner with a Cowboy Hat, and then a belly laugh which translates into winds over the mountains, cleansing air, and Scattering Angels of the Almighty seeking the hearts of righteous men (generic of course); women too, and then what do I think.

Hmmm, a string of laughter is a word sky, where the sun and the moon negotiate, because now there’s lots of new solar stuff out there, and it might be a night game of “Olly, olly oxen free… ready or not, here I come.” Or maybe lawn bowling will be the game of choice, except it would be sky lawn ball, and then there are balloons, another topic altogether. Some balloons laugh, go up on a string, and twist out of grasping hands of greed.

You can take a lot of things away from people:  money, a place to live, shoes, health, but laughter always springs from some invisible source, and laughter moves the ribs up and down and up and down, and you can’t take that away.

how to be a racial transformer

from Colorlines.com, Hatty Lee’s infographic, ARC toolbox, research, activism, media, Rinku Sen, ARC President – arc@arc.org.

This organization gets things done; they put “hope” back in the horizon! I hope it’s okay to publish this

Siobhan Fallon writes well, eloquently and her prose and content are straight arrows to the heart. I don’t know how many books have been written from her point of view, but these stories, with exceedingly diverse points of view, points of view that bring you inside the characters’ soul, are just in time for the rest of the world to view.

Fort Hood.  Women Left Behind.  Heart in throat kind of stuff.  Factual insights into life at Fort Hood.  She brings the sound of loneliness and waiting to the page in a visual way.  Agony, waiting, lives upended, lives united.  These are the stories this reader feels everyone should read.  What a tribute to all who serve and all who wait.

 

Rhythm Of The Universe – Anthem For The World **OFFICIAL**

www.youtube.com

CXXX: Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in …

1

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.

amazing dystopian thriller

It is just fantastic to see a new writer emerge. Mudbound was Pasadena’s One Author One Read book, and now first week of November I believe she’s going to speak, not at Vroman’s, too small but at Cal Tech. Kudos to Hillary Jordan!

The Barbarian Nurseries: A NovelThe Barbarian Nurseries: A Novel by Héctor Tobar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Delicious, fantastic, delicate, strong prose, and author nails a view of life from combinations of views. A Mexican immigrant maid and a clueless, but well meaning family, said family totally unaware of the lives around them, or for that matter, each other.

His writing is fantastic. A profound book which needs to be inhaled by all. I inhaled it, yes I did. I am now going to look for Hector Tobar’s other books – Translation Nation and the Tattooed Soldier. Mr. Tobar is a writer for the Los Angeles Times, is a Pulitzer prize willing journalist and a novelist. Writers would “kill” for his phrases – Barbarian Nurseries is a must read!

View all my reviews

“To All” – A message from Troy Anthony Davis.

In my reading of Logos and Civilization, I found on page 86 “The concept of destiny in the Baha’i writings, on the other hand, becomes compatible with the relative freedom of human beings. It is clear that Baha’u’llah’s concept of the mystery of destiny is not one of passivity and unfreedom. To realize one’s destiny is not a mere acceptance of whatever “is”; on the contrary, it is an active movement toward realizing spiritual values in one’s own life and developing the potentialities and perfections hidden like “gems,” in the “mine” of one’s own being (Gleanings 260). the mystery of destiny, then, among other things, precisely implies transcending the opposition between the divine will and the individual will. It represents the actualization of all one’s spiritual powers and the maturation of one’s potentialities to the degree that one freely chooses spiritual values and the will of God. this is the stage of perfect freedom and moral autonomy, in which human potentialities are actualized in harmony with divine revelation. That is why Baha’u’llah defines this valley as both the station of mystery and the secret of maturation. it implies the integration of the approaches based on self, reason, and love.”

— Logos And Civilization Spirit, History, and Order in the Writings of Baha’u’llah, Nader Saiedi
Please note, I, esther, can’t find out how to accent appropriate syllables.

Reader, my on line writers’ group, CHPercolator, prompts Post July 31, 2011:

You mean life is more than material for books?
Seeds of crazy believe
Black marks march across the page
Working like a canine for very little money
Mended, the floor of my soul was finally strong enough to bear my full weight.

The floor of my soul is doing pretty good now, occasionally it has the strength to do an oingo boingo, like a brand new trampoline! Yesterday, my soul went oingo boingo all day. You betchum Red Rider, The funny thing about souls and weight, when you lean into fine tempering your soul through life experience, or just pulling the splinters and shards of same off the floor, once you get it down, get your soul mended strong enough to bear full weight, it becomes gossamer light.

Which brings me to a gossamer event yesterday of two people who found each other, Red and Jan, and their wedding. No black marks march across the page on this wedding; nope letters of every hue; flamboyant pink, awesome yellow and rainbow blue and ultraviolet appeared in the sky.

Some people might say what kind of seed of crazy are you ingesting old girl, and I tell you, most of the time I live in the land of practicality. Years ago I worked like a canine for good money as a secretary in law firms, good law firms, and now I work like a joyous canine for maybe not as much money, but I am like an abused greyhound dog, or Black Beauty the horse, remember Black Beauty, finally out sharing the pasture of words and events and how to do this and write like you talk, sing, dance, you know. You catch my drift.

A lot of people comment on how much I read. Okay I admit turning our one and only walk in closet top shelves into a library, despite the fact that we live in a two-room pool house might be excessive, but they leave such a lovely glow in my heart. Yes, books glow, but I tell you this reader; are you still with me? I tell you, life is more than material for books!

See you around the trails, around the bend.

Available free on request at annaing@centrum.is

Dear Family of Friends,
Welcome to another issue of our quarterly newsletter. Your feedback regarding additon of other writers to introduce additional perspectives, has been upbeat and positive. We have continued to request submissions by other prisoners and hope to keep providing new writers in each issue.
In the years that we‘ve published this newsletter, we have only ever once dedicated an entire issue to a single person. That was to Deborah Peagler, AKA TRIPP. Well, that‘s about to change. This issue is being dedicated to Molly Kilgore. Yes, that‘s right Molly! This one is for you!
When Molly received her 7 years-to-life sentence, I was in the eigth grade. She had no idea she would need to witness seven Presidential terms, two wars, and a parade of governors before hope would be rewarded. She stood tall through it all. If you look up the word perseverance in the dictionary it should list names like Harriet Tubman, Nelson Mandela, and now … Molly Kilgore. You have no idea what it has been like for her. I‘ve only been locked up 22 years compared to her 33 years, and I can only imagine.
Another think that I can only imagine is the elation that filled her as she was reunited with her family on June 20th. I can only imagine what was going through her mind as they drove her off State property to freedom. Yes. Friends, Molly Kilgore is finally free on parole! It took 33 years, a world of hope, a heart of faith, the support of good family and friends, and most of all, the mercy of God.
On Molly‘s behalf, I would like to thank each and every one of you who wrote those letters to the Parole Board and the Governor. Thank you for signing her petition on the web site that was set up to aid in her plight. Every last letter and signature made a difference. Not only the night before, but the morning of her release, Molly gave me far too much credit. She credits our featuring her in the newsletter as a vital turning point in her battle. While we stood together united to support and plead for her release, it is Molly who served the sentence. It was Molly who never put down her shield and kept facing the dragon in battle. I guess it just made it easier when she had a small army behind her. It inspires and reinforces hope. That‘s a terrible thing to lose, hope is. But she gave us too much credit. It is she who persevered.
So, I say to each of you – thank you for helping us, help Molly. Thank you for being a spoke in the wheel of change. God bless each of you for your prayers and assistance in helping the freedom fight of our Friend Molly Kilgore.
And Molly? Yes, I‘m talking to you, girl. You simply amaze me. There are short timers here sniveling about a parole violation and a lousy ten months to serve. Girl, they aint got nothin‘ on you! I‘m so glad you never gave up. I‘m so happy your family was here to embrace you at the gate. It has been our honor and privilege to help you. It has been a true blessing to call you a Friend. We believe in you. You have so much potential, so much to accomplish yet. Take it one day at a time and don‘t let things overwhelm you. Girl, you already beat the dragon. Now is the time to celebrate your life. Congratulations!
Love, Light, Prayers & Hope T.C & Mama P

Mail Delays
Thank you for your patience and understanding regarding the delay in our responses to your incoming mail. The mailroom is understaffed and slow as molasses in January. A 602 was filed to resolve the problem. We hope for the best.

My Friend Molly Kilgore – Respectfully submitted by: La Donna Robinson

Congratulations Molly, I keep hearing people say, „I want to be like Molly!“ Well, I‘m not one of those people. I don‘t want to be like Molly. I don‘t want to give the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation 32 years, 6 months, and 5 days, of my life. Does anyone remember the phrase „Cruel and Unusual“? Well, it is still cruel, that hasn‘t changed at all. But it certainly isn‘t unusual. It has become habitual and routine in the state of California to hold prisoners who are sentenced to an inderterminate sentence, to 20, 30, even more that 40 years in some circumstances. Some of these inmates were sentenced to only 2 years to life, 5 years to life, 7 and 15 years to life long before the mandate of completing the base term even came into effect. In Molly‘s case, she was sentenced to 7 to life, but served the time of someone who was sentenced to two first degree murders. Her prior grants for parole by the Board of Parole Hearings were subsequently overturned by then governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Molly will forever be loved and remembered by me and will live in my heart for the rest of my days. As the saying goes, „Bye Molly! See ya…but most definitely do not want to be ya.“

Making Amends submitted by Angel Meza
Sometimes, we as humans lose ourselves on the highways of life. We fall short of our direction of just who we truly are, or the values our mother, father, grandmother, and others taught us as we were growing up. So, today let‘s make a difference by making amends.
For years I have struggled with trying to atone for the harm that my actions have caused others. This goes for those that I have harmed both directly, as well as indirectly, through my poor example.
I have a gnawing guilt for those that I misguided through my actions, and whose futures I feel I have robbed by way of my example. Whenever I see or hear about a youngster coming to prison, I am reminded of the painful fact that my own actions contributed to the negative culture that influenced that individual. This awarness …. insight if you will … provides the fuel for my desire to atone.
Over the years I have come to understand that making amends is not an act, but rather a way of life. It is a spark that ignites within you (remorse) and empowers those around you.
As the saying goes, „You can give without loving (an act), but you cannot love without giving (a way of life).“ Making amends is exactly that. You can make amends without being remorseful, but you cannot be remorseful without making amends. Writing a letter to your victim is an act of amending; having the nature of character that seeks to contribute to others is a way of life. One is fleeting, while the other is lasting.

In making amends I cannot undo what has been done, but I can do better than I did. In other words, while I cannot change the past, I can affect the future. By improving on my self, I can positively impact those around me as opposed to the negative results of my previous behaviour. I can be ever mindful of my ability to influence those around me in a more positive manner. Especially the incorrigible youth offenders coming to prison nowadays. It gives me the opportunity to honor my ability to encourage change. Not when I get out, but now. Nothing like the here and now.
We may not be able to fix all of our past mistakes, but we can address the ones we can. I cannot express enough how making the smallest amends can make the biggest difference. Anything doen from the heart is always worth the effort.
Always.

Nothin‘ Like Friends In Low Places
When I first arrived at C.C.W.F., I was warned that you don‘t have friends in prison. I was told that people will use me and take any kindness for weakness. I have been there many-a-time both in the free world and this concrete paradise. I know I‘m not alone, you probably have been used, manipulated, and had your heart broken too. With each relationship, regardless of being platonic or more intimate, I have gained knowledge moreso about myself than other people. Each circumstance was a life lesson that was part of my personal blueprint. Each scenario resulted in a personal inventory.
To this day I still hear that you don‘t have friends in prison. They prefer to say that you have associates. Yes, while I have many associates, I still have friends that are at home in my heart. If you were to ask me what I thought of or feel for Dee Dee, Pops, Niki, Belinda, Tanisha or Molly, i lwould tell you that they are my friends, and I love them. Ah, there is that L-word that is thrown around all too loosely in prison. I hear „I love you“ so much that I now joke, „oh, so much love in prison!“ I‘m telling you, if there was half as much love in the middle east as there is in prison, we never would have gone into Afghanistan or Iraq.
What is love anyway? My definition includes being when you care more about someone else than you do your own self. It is unselfish and kind, it is given without expectation of reward. It can be in the smallest actions or compassionate deeds. It is when Dee Dee needs to talk, and no matter how dog-dead-tired I may be, I‘m right there. That‘s what I mean by putting someone before yourself. It‘s when Pops missed Huera when she paroled, and needed a shoulder to lean on, so I volunteered on weekends to work even when it was windy as Chicago and cold as Alaska. It was when Niki needed help with her case to see if she could get a reduction in her ridiculously lengthy sentence. I didn‘t really know a lick about legal research or where to even begin, bu I‘ve learned to navigate my way around the law library and find case law that may be of relevance in her freedom fight. What else would a true friend do? Yes, you do have friends in prison. I have friends in prison, and I love them. Yep, the L-word.
No matter where you are in life … free society or prison, people are people. They are like pebbles on the shore, each unique in their own way. It doesn‘t matter what their ethnicity or background is. Some of the nicest people can be found in prison. There are many people in society that probably shouldn‘t be, so it makes no matter where you are. All that really matters is who the person in the mirror truly is.
To open myself up to another person invites the reality of vulnerability. It requires that I open the door and let them in. While I have my own trust issues due to my own childhood and personal relationships that scarred my heart, I still find and believe that there‘s something good in everyone. When I look back on my life once it is over, I would hope to see what looks like a road map. I want to see my own path having crossed many more in this life‘s journey. With each crossing comes insight, growth and wisdom. There may be hearthbreak along the way, but even an airplane is safer on the ground than in the air, but that is not what it was created for. You have to be willing to take the risk, otherwise you‘ll never know what you are missing. The same is true of love and friendships.
So, whenever I hear someone tell me that you don‘t have friends in prison, I just gotta smile, because they are wrong. I know that I have friends, I have friends in prison. And I honestly believe that they know that they have a friend in me. Just goes to show that you shouldn‘t believe everything that you hear. There‘s always going to be a Dee Dee, Pops, Niki, Belinda, Tanisha, Molly or lil ol‘ me to prove them wroing. Why?? Well, don‘tchu know? There is so much love in prison!

*August 7, 2011 is National Friendship Day
So, if you received this in the e-mail or saw your name in print, please know that I am your Friend … and I hope I‘m the kind of someone you‘re glad to call a Friend, and not just an associate. I‘m here for you … and I always will be.

„Da Brain! Da Brain!“

Let‘s talk about the human brain. You know? That thing that weighs about 3 pounds and has about 100 billion neurons with another one trillion supporting cells. The brain has several sections, or structures, all with their own purpose. My focus is on the frontal lobe.
The frontal lobe is where the prefrontal cortex is located. This is where judgment, rational decision making, reasoning, and the logic and understanding of consequences originates from. It governs one‘s capacity for abstract thought, aggression, goal setting, and impulse control. Sounds pretty important, doesn‘t it? It is the power house and command center for cognitive flexibility, however, it is not fully developed until about the age of twenty-five. It is one of the last areas of the brain to mature.
Now, let‘s discuss the temporal lobes. Please, just bear with me, I do intend to make a point. This area contains the limbic-reward system, which includes the amygdala, which regulates emotions that are essential to one‘s survival. This can include fear, pleasure and anger.
The brain is composed of axons, which are like little messengers that communicate across a synapse to a dendrite of a neuron. What T.C.?! In simpler terms, there is a constant circuitry of impulses with a bunch of actions and reactions taking place making it possible for you to read this right now. The axon has a coating on it called the myelin layer, which is like insulation that permits all cognitive funtions. Myelination is a continous process as well, that begins before birth and takes place gradually until adult age.
Okay, so now that you know all of that, let me explain why I presented a biology lesson. You see, there is scientific empirical evidence that the above is all true. We now know that the adoloscent brain is not maturely developed until age 25, with special emphasis on the prefrontal cortex. We are aware that juveniles react emotionally centered (amygdala) because they lack a mature prefrontal cortex that would better regulate emotions in given stressful situation. In realistic terms, a 17 year old is not capable of thinking like an adult, so why is it that our collective society allows retributive justice to be carried outon juvenile offenders, equal to that of more mature adults? The Supreme Court ruled in Roper V. Simmons to ban the death penalty in all juvenile offender cases due to, in their own words, „The court observed that juvenile‘s lack of maturity and comparatively underdeveloped sense of responsibility ofen result in impetuous and ill-considered actions and decisions. Juveniles are more susceptible to negative influences and outside pressures, and that the character and personality traits of juveniles are more transitory and less well-formed.“
We live in a society that has heard the evidence, yet lacks the will to help reverse the error in law that they voted into existence. With new emerging science that clearly shows that youth rely upon their emotional center of the brain, which in turn can result in negative consequences, I have to wonder how you can read this and not get mad. I mean, what if were your kid, right? Did you know that between 1992 and 1999, every state except Nebraska passed laws making it easier to try juveniles as adults? Twenty-three states have no minimum age, and last I heard, Kansas and Vermont can try 10-years-olds as adults. Are we still calling ourselves civilized? Is that not barbaric by any measure?
Back to the brain, people. If a 15, 16, or 17-year-old doesn‘t have the biological mental capacity to rationalize a situation in a matter of minutes, let alone the blink of an eye, how can we call them adults? After all, if you sentence them as an adult, you‘re calling them an adult. Want to make a difference? Get involved. Burying our heads in the sand will not fix the problem. Only action on your part will. Go to http://www.fairsentencingforyouth.org or write to them at:

Human Rights Watch
11500 W. Olympic Blvd. #441
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Q & A with T.C.

Q: Did that story about the trip to Yosemite really happen?
A: Yes, it did. I had the time of my life!
Q: What is all the hoopla over releasing prisoners early?
A: On May 23, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that overcrowding conditions in California‘s 33 state prisons is a violation of our Eighth Amendment rights in regards to cruel and unusual punisment. It had mostly to do with the prison system‘s failure to provide minimal care to prisoners with serious medical conditions. A three-judge panel in a lower court had stated that „it was an uncontested fact that an inmate in one of California‘s prisons needlessly dies six or seven days due to constitutional deficiencies.“ The U.S.S.C. has given Governor Brown until May 2013 to reduce the prison population down from 144.000 inmates to 110.000. The prison were built to house only 80.000 people. Only non-violent feons will either be released or transferred to county jails. There are already about 10.000 inmates who have been shipped out-of-state over recent years, but more can fit into such a proposed plan. So in a nutshell, NO they are not releasing murderes, child molester‘s or savage beasts that are in custody for violent crimes. Those news reel bites are mostly of over zealous tough on crime advocates that think every prisoner is another Charles Manson or Richard Ramirez. Without proper data and hard cold facts, people can create the worse scenarios in their heads.

Q: You forgot to list the medical hotline info in last issue.
A: Ooops. To contact the California Prison Health Care Services people in Sacramento regarding your concerns about an inmate‘s inadequate health care, phone (916) 324-1403.

Q: Why are you overcharged so much at your special sales?
A: The fundraiser is a privilege for us to taste or obtain select items that as a prisoner, we would otherwise not receive. We recently had a KFC and Costco bulk item sale, which raised over $9k for charity. Any charge over the actual item price goes to a charitable organization. So if you think about it, a fundraiser/special sale is a win-win for both us and the organization receiving theproceeds. Right soon we are expecting two more sales by or before October. One is Little Caesar‘s Pizza … and who doesn‘t love pizza? The other is another Costco bulk items sale.

Q: What is going on with Marsy‘s Law?
A: Marsy‘s Law, which was ignorantly voter approved using scare tactics, permits the Parole Board to deny a lifer seeking a release date, far up to 15 years until their next possible parole hearing. An inmate named Michael Vicks (not the Pit Bull fighting football player) filed a writ when the BPH denied him parole using Marsy‘s Law as their justificationfor a lengthy denial. Because Vicks was in the system before the passage of the „Let‘s screw over lifers“ law, the BPH should not have applied it to Vicks. The court agreed when they heard his case. Marsy‘s Law only can legally apply to prisoners sentenced to life terms after the law was enacted. In more simpler terms – it does not apply to any lifer given a life term prior to the law‘s passage, January 2009.

Q: Is it true that more lifers are being released now than before Jerry Brown became Governor?
A: Yes. He has made it clear that if the taxpayers are payiing the BPH decision-makers over $100k a year each in salary, plus all of those ridiculous travel expenses, then he will need to trust that they can do their job. He‘s not treatening them like Wilson & Davis did, nor is he insulting them like Arnold did. He‘s not running for any higher office, so he has no personal agenda that would cause him to trample on a lifer‘s hopes. Ole J.B. was in office in the 1970‘s. Yes, he was Governor when Molly became a lifer prisoner, and he‘s Governor to release her. Do you like apples? How about them apples? Yeah!

One of the Things I‘ve Learned in Prison by Jennifer Hall
I‘ve been incarceratedat CCWF since 1993. Over the years I have particiapted in workshops, self-help groups, and numerous other classes which have enabled me to grow as an individual. By far, the most rewarding and challenging class I have taken, is ASL-101 (American Sign Language).
Not only am I learning another language, but it has opened up the door to an entirely new world for me. It takes patience and tolerance to teach this class. My teacher, Ms, Vonnie, is outstanding – not only as a teacher, but at understanding a group of people and being able to transfer that knowledge over to us. What she has taught me I could never have learned from a textbook.
I am learning more than just sign language. I am learning life lessons that are invaluable and will stay with me forever. The compassion Ms. Vonnie has for the deaf community has had a profound affect on me. I‘m looking forward to completing her Religious Signs class, and am excited in taking her ASL-102 class in the fall.
There are many things one can learn in the prison environment … some negative, some positive. I choose to seek the latter of the two. What I‘m learning in these classes offered to prisoners here, has opened my eyes, mind, and heart in new ways for a better tomorrow.
Ms. Vonnie, you rock!

Best Friends For Life:
To Molly May Kilgore, From Vickie Lee George
Molly, I want to tell you (and the world) how much I love you for being a family member to me while I have been in prison. When I first arrived at CIW (California Institute for Women in Frontera for all readers outside of California), I believed in my heart that I would do my 25 years-to-life alone … but then I moved in with you into your cell, and I felt that I was not alone. And I wasn‘t.
Molly, thank you for helping me learn how to do my time by both sound advice and demonstration. Not every new lifer is so blessed. When I count my blessings, I count you twice.
Now that you have left CCWF for new horizons, frontiers and a better life … a well earned life, it takes some time getting used to the fact that your prayers were truly answered. I look down A-Wing and after a minute I realize allover again that you are no longer there. When I was you go throgh the R&R door and you waved good-bye to me, I turned and said „thank you, Lord, for putting my best friend in my life.“
Molly, I wish you the very best out there. You‘ve worked so hard and waited so long for this freedom you‘ve been allowed to embrace. My Friend, I believe in your true potential. Yes, I miss you, but I wouldn‘t want it any other way. Besides, give me a minute … I‘ll be joining you soon.

Love Always – Your Friend – Vickie George

The Kindred

A new roommate moves into the cell and introduces herself. You discuss the house rules – simple structure of common courtesy and respect. They‘re always happy when I tell them that they don‘t have to remove their shoes before entering. More than happy actually … more like relieved. Once they settle in and realize that I don‘t bite and I most likely have all my shots (well, the ones that count), they ask that one question. You know? THE QUESTION. Sooner or later they ask, „so, when are you going home?“ And half of the time they don‘t comprehend when I reply, „I don‘t know.“
Being a lifer is an experience, not for the weak. We are a strong breed. It may have a little something to do with the road that got us here, but it has a lot to do with how the system has affected us too. If you were to ask me what it is like to be a lifer, it would take more than a simple sentence or minute to explain. To say that you‘d have to be one to understand is an understatement.
As a lifer, I have seen more roommates parole from my cell than I can even guess to number. I‘ve been in this same cell for the last 16 years of my 22 years of incarceration. What can I say? I play well with others. There are times when someone on the walkway will get annoyed that I don‘t remember them. They will try to make me remember their being my cellmate six, ten, twelve years ago. Really?! More people have passed through my cell like water through a seive than I can count. If anyone should be annoyed, it is the lifer who watches the parole violators keep coming back through the revolving door. It is like a slap in the face of freedom.
As a lifer, I know that to get close to anyone in here automatically requires trust. The reality though of getting close to a non-lifer, is that the other prisoner will eventually parole. It‘s gonna happen eventually. Our reality is that we watch many others get a second (third, fourth, and often tenth) chance, when all we want is half a chance. When it happens to someone that we care about, we have mixed emotions. On the one hand we are happy for them that they get to leave this place. On the other, it almost feels like a small part of us has died, as they take that part of our hearts with them. We don‘t want to be selfish, and so we let go. With each good-bye, we let go. It hurts … it hurts like hell. Can you imagine saying so many good-byes over a couple of decades? Unfortunately for the lifer, we need not imagine it. If anything, many avoid it by keeping their hearts guarded. Even hardened. However, like the storm clouds in April, a calm comes over you and life goes on.
Ironically, most of my prison friends are lifers. The ones I‘m closest to at least. They understand what it is like to wake up in here every single day and not know when they‘ll go home. They know what it is like to stress with anxiety the preparations of a parole hearing and to be abused by the panel (emotionally, mentally). They have the same fears of either dying in here or being stuck in here when their loved one dies … and not being able to attend the funeral. They have forgotten the feel of a real bed on Christmas morning and the taste of the home cooked meal that only mom could make. They know all too well what it feels like to be judged, condemned, and misunderstood. They comprehend that to quit is to die, and same question what the hell there is to even live for after all. They understand. They are my kindred. They are just like me, but also different.
So, when are you going home?
I don‘t know.

Umm … huh? I‘m a lifer

Oh, I‘m sorry. Why are you sorry?

I don‘t know. My point, exactly.

From The Heart
In the summer of 1978, I spent two weeks at Mt. Cross, a Christian faith based summer camp tucked in the Santa Cruz mountains. I didn‘t go there alone, but with my best friend Nancy. It had the usual campfire sing-a-longs at night, arts and crafts, and whatnot. The first week we were there, we heard about the hike to the summit, a good two hour hike one-way. We passed on it the first week, but come week two, we were gung-ho about making the trip. The thin was, we didn‘t want to look like wimps if we couldn‘t make the grade, so we decided on taking our own practice run. We thought that if we could hike uphill for about half the run, then we were good to go. So, we make plans, told our cabin counselor, Bear, and set out that late morning.
We headed up the incline path behind our cabin, which was set at a short fire line that separated the woods from the line of cabins. On the way up, we had to climb over a couple of downed trees, and around at least one too large to climb. After about fifteen or twenty minutes, we came to a clearing set aside for night campfire. We had met everyone there the week before. It was large enough for a good fifty people to sit on the logs that encircled the fire pit in the middle. Nancy dicided she wanted to take a break and she headed into the circle. I followed her into the wide open space and sat on a log. That‘s when she pulled out a pack of cigarettes, and I reminded her she wasn‘t supposed to smoke in the woods. Camp rule. She claimed she‘d be careful and lit up anyway. I can‘t stand cigarettes, and anyone who knows me, knows why. So, I stood up and as I did, that is when I felt it. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. My stomach flipped with anxiety and dread. In an instant, I knew we were not alone. We were not safe. My strong sixth sense said, „RUN!“
I stepped directly in front of Nancy and whispered only loud eonugh for her to hear, „You know how I sense things?“ She said she did. I continued, „Don‘t look around. Don‘t do anything unusual. Just put out your cigarette and lets head back to the cabin.“ She just looked at me like I was pulling a joke on her. „Nancy, we‘re not alone. I‘m leaving. You coming or what?“ I headed to the circle‘s entrance and turned back downhill. Nancy was behind me, uncertain of wheter or not to believe me. Finally, she said, „Teresa – I swear, if this is a joke …“ I turned toward her over my shoulder to tell her that it wasn‘t, and that is when I saw him.

Behind Nancy, higher on the incline, but on the path, was a man. He had white clothing on, dirty and torn. He looked like he crawled out from under a rock. But hat wasn‘t the first thing I noticed. No, the first thing I noticed in the three fastest seconds of my life, were his eyes. Almost not even human. All I could do was yell, „RUUUUUUNNNN!!!“

It wasn‘t until later that I found out that Nancy afforded herself a quick glance overher own shoulder before she began to run behind me. I‘m telling you folks, it doesn‘t just happen in the movies. There‘s always that girl who will ask, „Run? But why?“ One look and she was like the wind on my heels.

I wasn‘t sure if he was chasing us, but I wasn‘t about to slow my pace to find out. What if he wasn‘t alone? I could hear Nancy behind me mumbling jibber jabber all the way down the mountain. The mysterious man bought us a little space when we heard him stuble over on of the downed trees, not landing very gracefully. The clean air burnt my lungs, but I kind of liked being alike, so I kept running.
As we neared the cabins, I began to yell the only thing I could think to yell: our cabin counselor‘s name. Nancy began yelling too. The funny thing is that everyone came out of their cabins because we were screaming „BEAR! BEAR!“ They all thought we were being chased by a bear. Our counselor, Bear, stood with them and grateful to see a crowd all I could do was point into the woods behind us. Nancy was ghost white drained of all color. She couldn‘t even yell anymore. Nobody understood what we were trying to tell them, then suddenly their faces all lifted, looking into the forest at my back. Their eyes displayed amazement and fear all at once. I turned and locked eyes with Mystery Man. His were black as far, possibly also the color of his soul. He made a wide panoramic sweep of the crowd left to right, then right to left. And then he locked eyes with me. He got this crazy little smile on his face, and the he turned and walked back into the woods. He never said a word. I don‘t recall anyone else saying anything either, let alone trying to follow him. He just disappeared out of view.
It didn‘t take long before Pastor Crowley had us called into the dining hall to meet some police looking guys. Forest Rangers or State Police? I don‘t know. They had those Smokey the Bear hats on. Nancy and I were shown a few photos. Instantly, we recognized the guy in the ice cream man uniform. Turned out he had recently escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane. I really know how to have a good time don‘t I?
The moral of the story is, always listen to your gut instinct. It is like a compass that will always point you to the North. God put it in each of us to help us, protect us, and guide us. It is when I ignored my gut instinct that life dealt me some of the hardest blows.
So, I say from the heart to you … no matter what you may be going through, regardless of what other may think, always follow your gut. It tells you what is best for you. It is allabout you, and well, you‘re kind of a big deal. The world is a far better place with each of you in it. And if you ever feel a little lost or overwhelmed, call a friend, or, just yell at the top of your lungs. „BEAR!“ Trust me, someone will come running to see what is wrong. Worked for me. Namaste -T.C. and Mama P. me.for

T.C. Paulinkonis W45118 514-16-4U. PO Box 1509, Chowchilla, CA 93610

Pauline (Barbara)
W45118 514-16-4L
PO Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610

HAPPY NATIONAL FRIENDSHIP DAY!

III John, verses 13-15

Jim Nelson passed on last Saturday night, surround by intimate family, and joy. Since then our hearts pulsated for Dorthy Nelson, his wife of over 60 years. They are spiritually humble giants, and I personally think no one in the Baha’i Community took them for granted. We treasured them at evry moment.

Last night was the Baha’i Community’s Feast (Feast of Ala Glory) Lord, it’s late; hope that i have that right. Our chairperson when she introduced consultation, said, “I offer you all condolences,” and I was struck by her sensitivity. Everyone who met Jim loved him. He had a huge, huge spirit, honed from years of perceptions. He had a fine mind, and could say thing in ways none of us were or are able to, and he and Dorothy were incredible together.

Below is a brief passage of life after death concepts.
Tonight we all went to “fireside” which is a gathering people of all ages, skin colors, creeds, heights, weights, gather for inquiry regarding the Baha’i Faith. There must have been 50 people in the room; it glowed, and flowers all around reminded us of his recent passing. A husband and wife spoke, as they had met each other in that very room, some umpteenyears ago, and their 13 year old son wrote a song, and played the guitar, while his 11 year old younger brother sang the lyrics. Our speaker spoke of the soul eloquently and engagingly. Heaven and hell: a Bahá’í view of life after death.

One of our friends played the piano at the end of every evening, but tonight, did it before a social hours

“What song are you going to play, John?”, Dorothy asked

John, his hands already on the keys, said, “For Me and My Gal.” and the timing and the serendipity of the title of the song was incredible.

what an evening. Tomorrow Jim’s burial will be at the Inglewood Cemetery in Inglewood where many Baha’is are buried. Thornton Chase, the first North America Baha’i is buried there. He died in 1912. No quite sure of exact year, but thin i have it.

As in the world’s other religions, the Bahá’í concept of life after death is deeply integrated into teachings about the nature of the soul and the purpose of this earthly life.

Bahá’u’lláh confirmed the existence of a separate, rational soul for every human. In this life, He said, the soul is related to the physical body. It provides the underlying animation for the body and is our real self.

Although undetectable by physical instruments, the soul shows itself through the qualities of character that we associate with each person. The soul is the focal point for love and compassion, for faith and courage, and for other such “human” qualities that cannot be explained solely by thinking of a human being as an animal or as a sophisticated organic machine.

The soul does not die; it endures everlastingly. When the human body dies, the soul is freed from ties with the physical body and the surrounding physical world and begins its progress through the spiritual world. Bahá’ís understand the spiritual world to be a timeless and placeless extension of our own universe–and not some physically remote or removed place.

Entry into the next life has the potential to bring great joy. Bahá’u’lláh likened death to the process of birth. He explains: “The world beyond is as different from this world as this world is different from that of the child while still in the womb of its mother.”

The analogy to the womb in many ways summarizes the Bahá’í view of earthly existence. Just as the womb constitutes an important place for a person’s initial physical development, the physical world provides the matrix for the development of the individual soul. Accordingly, Bahá’ís view life as a sort of workshop, where one can develop and perfect those qualities which will be needed in the next life.

“Know thou, of a truth, that if the soul of man hath walked in the ways of God, it will, assuredly return and be gathered to the glory of the Beloved,” Bahá’u’lláh wrote. “By the righteousness of God! It shall attain a station such as no pen can depict, or tongue can describe.”

In the final analysis, heaven can be seen partly as a state of nearness to God; hell is a state of remoteness from God. Each state follows as a natural consequence of individual efforts, or the lack thereof, to develop spiritually. The key to spiritual progress is to follow the path outlined by the Manifestations of God.

Beyond this, the exact nature of the afterlife remains a mystery. “The nature of the soul after death can never be described,” Bahá’u’lláh writes.

Judge James Nelson

A Humble Tribute
(Written to CHPercolator Writing Group)
Esther Bradley-DeTally

Well, I might as well spit it out, and I think the best people to spit it out to is the CHPerc community, because you know what? Are you with me? You guys, and me too, include me, yep, are solid. We have something here, more than exchange of little, Times New Roman 12, words going across the ocean, and up into Wyoming, Nebraska, England, India, Pakistan, and even down in Temple City, California. We are a mix, we guys, and sometimes we rendezvous at restaurants near Disneyland, in Anaheim, (eat your heart out), or sometimes we just smile when a Haiku from Cochabamba trots up to our eyeball level. We are a tender, loving community, and we surf our waves, up, down, across and under.

I first thought about our circle of writers and their compassion for one another. We are Muslim, Christian, Bahá’í, Agnostic, you catch my drift. We are old, young, funny, serious, and all becoming people who sling words around either like the best fried hash in town, or bonbons wrapped in chocolate to kill for. I particularly noticed this underlying theme of caring a few years ago when one of us died, and Mike, Mike the wonderful Army man, often times in the Middle East, had a week off and somehow managed to be in the States, and managed to go to the funeral.

Something happened the other night at 8 p.m. which I’ll get to. Be patient reader. You know it’s all grist for the mill, but you know me. I have to go down and out and twist and turn within the rabbit warrens of my mind, before I spit it out. Yeah, spit it out.

A wonderful man, married for over 60 years to an equally wonderful wife, sat in a quiet family celebration, Bahá’í days of gift-giving and service. He just had dinner, and was sitting in his favorite chair, when all of a sudden, silence, and his huge, huge spirit left the physical world. Yep, this world we all know and love called the blue marble, the planet of names, this Purpose of Physical Reality, this soul workshop. He soared on to the other worlds of God.

This man was the cause of my finding my beloved Faith, a Faith often referred to as the “Spirit of the New Age.” This Faith has carved me out, taken barnacles off my soul. Now, I look at a lot, a lot, a lot, of people and see the Face of God in them. It’s not about lines, or borders, because the human heart doesn’t measure souls that way.

He was like a spiritual father to me and countless others. I will add my relationship to my birth father, although try as he may, was hard for both of us. We seemed to be two peas in the wrong pod. I often felt I never sang for my father, which is the title of a play and a play on words, which means I never was enough. But fortunately, I know deep in my bone marrow, most of us do our best, and if there was sand in my Becoming-A-Pearl-In-My-Shell, this sand grit buffed me up, polished me, for the here and now of today, and as I write these words I think, yeah, I’m an old Poil of a Goil.

So this man Jim, in whose Bahá’í community I live, sat and encouraged every fledgling speaker trying to reflect oneness in the world, shape their words. He also performed the marriage ceremony of my son Nicholas and his wife Laura. He’s visibly gone now. When I first heard the news, I felt a gasp within me and then my thoughts rushed to, “Dorothy, Dorothy,” his wife. They are like overlapping Venn diagrams, circles within, over, around, under each other. We in the local Bahá’í community know our treasures, and passionately love them. We never have taken them for granted. Every minute of their lives they welcomed, hugged, encouraged, and shed love and wisdom unto all of us waiting souls.

I know I’m overwriting. I’m trying to keep this simple. That’s why for you writers out there I’m doing a little bit of “write like you talk” with a “straight talk” phrase thrown in. If I really went into the majesty of this couple, my writing would become so multisyllabic and operatic that my prose would jump off the page.

So instead, I imagine this man who was magnanimous and majestic and prodigious in thought (had to get that word in) in his physical and spiritual presence, now seems to me like a 500 pound canary in spirit. You might say, “His cage door opened, and he went.”

May my life be worthy of all those who serve in this century of change.

Thanks for letting me share, and now, prayers and solace to his incredible wife—I will carry her around in the inner folds of my heart for a long time.

I think in the end, we all end up pulsating with love for one another.

Subject: Total Moral Victory in the World’s Worst Prison Today (For Friends, the Public, as well as the Media)

Dearest Family and Friends:

The following is a vivid testimony to the ultimate moral, mental, and spiritual integrity, dignity, and destiny of the Baha’is and indeed of the entire human race:

Ever since the most unjust and undignified imprisonment some three years ago, without a single crime, of the most innocent, the pure, and the saintly Baha’i Leaders in Iran called Yaran, and their subsequent transfer from the Evin Prison to the most backward and unusually harsh prison of Rajaei Shahr where some 5000 topmost killers, drug dealers, and others are kept in clusters under sub-human conditions, despite the lack of food, toilet, sanitation, and basic subsistence conditions, despite the dirt, filth, and illness, in pitiful conditions themselves, the two saint Baha’i ladies Mahvash and Fariba, as with the other five in the men’s quarters, have by the power of their Faith managed to support and uplift the minds and hearts of their fellow pitiful prisoners by giving them their relentless and genuine loving support to the poorer, the more needy, and the more frail fellow prisoners, seeing no evil in any soul, finding and nurturing dignity even in such a man-forsaken hell, and by such genuine constant manifestations of loving kindness, tact, and wisdom, they have now won, as a testimony to human moral triumph, the hearts and minds and the respect of the entire company of these same so-called “criminal” fellow prisoners, despite the moribond conditions and with all forms of dangers to their own very lives!

Over the months, whenever by token of the only good modern-day miracle of cell phone in the prison yard it was made possible for me to hear several times from Fariba herself, and on the one and only occasion when I got the chance and was so blessed by Divine Destiny to visit the two most precious ladies from behind their prison cabins two months ago for one hour myself, as well as from other family members and even directly from prison guard, I heard myself how miraculously the dangerous killers and criminals had been overwhelmingly moved and transformed by the vivifying souls of these two saintly Ladies.

One can recall the moving poem by Mahvash which shook the world, who, amidst the extreme pains of her own, backed against the withered single pomegranate tree in the prison yard, contemplates how the entire burden of these soul-and-body tortured fellow prisoners and indeed all the down-trodden suffering women of the World are now on her shoulder.

I am still amazed how for the entire three years during the rare occasions she could talk on the phone at various times, I never heard Fariba’s voice even once tremble slightly except for joy, with full faith, complete optimism, and total jubilation, as if walking in the highest Paradise all these long suffering days and months and years.

I still recall the moving sharing lessons of Fariba relaying to me how she had found the single remaining hidden spot of beauty and purity in each and all of these worldly despised and abandoned souls. I remember when she described to me the miracle account of how the most feared gang leader of the prison mafia, despite the huge body, knife-cut and broken face and other fearsome features, shun by all other killers and criminals, had been so moved by our twin spiritual heronies over time that she had on one occasion when Fariba had to pass a toilet dirt mud which had become watery sludge after rain, with their prison-customary slippers, she saw Fariba from far and told her from the distance “Please wait, please wait, may your holy feet not be touched and smeared by these dirts”, then, throwing her own slippers bode and insisted Fariba to kindly step on her slippers and pass by the place lest she be mired. No such things happen in any deadly criminal prison anywhere in the world, specially not in any place similar to this Rajaei Shahar, where only for the mere sake of prolonging an already issued death sentence with formalities paperwork procedures, often the killer kills one more unfortunate and helpless person often at random in the prison, days prior to the execution.

I remember how once Fariba was so overjoyed to tell me how one of her friends, where a few had died mercilessly by swine flu and cast and treated like swines by prison authorities, had first completely given up strong drug addiction, only to replace it with super heavy cigarette addiction, then, by the loving care of our two Baha’i Ladies, day by day she had been reducing smooking to the last one cigarette per day. Fariba told me how that day, just a month ago, Fariba hugged that lady, and rather than insisting or requesting her to give up the final cigarette, only told here gently how much she loved her and was proud of her who despite her years of bad luck in life turning her into a despised criminal, she had obtained the positive hope, the will power, and the supreme determination to accomplish what so many others in the free world had failed to succeed despite all facilities, toos, and support. Fariba told me how the lady, now a close friend, immediately threw to the ground the last final cigarette, crushed it with her heels, and, cried and said: Today I finally give up this addiction for the sake of love of you, as I feel and know that some day I shall visit you in your home and tell you and show you the effect of the loving transformation you have affected and created in me and our many other fellow prison mates!

This is how a candle can shine like the torch, nay as the mid-day Sun, in the darkness of desolation, pessimism and hopelessness, and selfishness that has overshadowed the human society.

Now, I just spoke to Fariba few hours ago on the phone who called from the Rajaei Shahr Prison.

For your information, as the latest news, by tomorrow the two most precious angelic ladies, and the crowning pride of future human civilization will be transferred to the worst section of the Prison entitled “The Under-Ground Dungeon for the Worst of the Villains and Criminals”.

This latest panic move by a remorsely helpless oppressor signifies an entirely unparalled scenario in the World History ever, even up to the present date; that is, for the holy and saintly riligious prisoners of conscience to be once more exiled within the prison, one more tier down from the already terrible exiled Prison allocated for the worst of criminals, killers, and drug addicts to the lower degree underground dungeon for the most dangerous criminals amongst them, just becasue these two already grossly-wronged innocent Saint Lady Prisoners, while in the prison under sub-human conditions, have by their shear Faith and their most pure love and consistent un-conditional tireless and selfless caring actions have transformed the prison-hell into a moral and spiritual Paradise, by moving the souls, changing the hearts, educating the minds and rectifying the conducts of the worst criminals, killers, and drug addicts to such a degree as to empower on the one hand many to give up their severe drug addictions simply on their own free will and by natural encouragement they so lovingly received rather than by persuation and without the need to appeal to any medicine or doctors or tools, or force while against all odds in such deprived hell-prison, and on the other hand enable most others to repent and wash their hands and hearts away from all crimes, purely through the power of real love and by the intense natural free persuation of mind and transformation of heart solely affected via the dynamic power of example of the Twin Tahirih’s of the Time!

Fariba said today on the phone that despite the repeated public prison loudspeaker announcements and stern warnings for all prisoners to stay and shun away, and do not associate with the Baha’i prisoners, groups upon groups of prison ladies thronged and gathered around their cell these past three days, with tearful eyes and warm hugging arms and in a unified supreme array of moral support and expressions of reciprocal love and as spontaneous sign of total unified allegience by all prisoners to the Two Saint Ladies whom they have grown to know as Angels from Heaven stationed in this human hell of a notoriously fanatic and repressive unhumane and dark Regime. Even in the oppressors, the Baha’is see light and apply the transforming and healing power of Baha’ullah’s Revelation which is the Most Great Elixir to ultimately
apply the unifying panacea to the ailing body of the World of humanity and finally affect the evolutionary transformation by God’s Will to the entirety of humankind.

“God hath, likewise, as a bounty from His presence, abolished the concept of “uncleanness”, whereby divers things and peoples have been held to be impure. He, of a certainty, is the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous. Verily, all created things were immersed in the sea of purification when, on that first day of Ridván, We shed upon the whole of creation the splendours of Our most excellent Names and Our most exalted Attributes. This, verily, is a token of My loving providence, which hath encompassed all the worlds. Consort ye then with the followers of all religions, and proclaim ye the Cause of your Lord, the Most Compassionate; this is the very crown of deeds, if ye be of them who understand.” Baha’u’llah; Aqdas #75

Just hours ago, Fariba in most happy tone of voice told me that one of the miracles of the Supreme Manifestation of God, Baha’u’llah, is that to the degree He gives His loved ones sufferings for the sake of the mental and moral and spiritual education and upliftment of humanity in this dark age of the transition to the collective maturity of the entire human race, to a multiple degree of that He also bestows upon them true felicity, joy, and jubilation; and that how truly happy she is that she is going down to the underground dungeon, with no fear nor a bit concern for imminent interrogations and torture.

This, reminded me vividly of her hand-written letter to me some thirty years back, in 1982 or 1983, posted from Babolsar to Boston, when our dearly beloved martyrs had just ascended to the Abha Kingdom, how she wished to be like the example of the root of the Cause of God, that Divine Tree which is neither of the East nor of the West, whose roots are firm in the earth (dark, cold, wet, lowly soil of the earth as she described), so that its branches and fruits, us, the Baha’is and all the people of good will in the outside world, can overshadow and benefit the entire human kind. Surely that Divine Tree is growing to overshadow the entire human race, now that the roots are going deeprer inside the darkness of human soul in order to bring and apply the world-wide healing remedy of Baha’u’llah.

What a sublime drama in the human history!

Speechless in awe and admiration, I remain.

Ya Baha’u’l – Abha!
(Oh Thou The Most Glorious Glory!)

(name deleted for safety purposes)

http://media.causes.com/1005500

I humbly suggest if this concerns you, not to react with hate or anger towards anyone, but to find Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, and go to page 285, and Paragraph CXXX. “Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generaton, a fruit upon the tree of humility.”

thank you, esther

Well the morning started with Lindsey, Matt’s wife, my twin’s son and treasured daughter-in-law FBing about cocoa and one made by some brothers, to which Matt added, a bon mot phrase about other brothers, and I added the paucity of my memory of old jokes, including Prince Albert in a Can.

then writing workshop at Altadena Healing Arts Center; good group; and then quick dash home, look under the bed for those pre-purchased greeting cards, not like a pre-purchased automobile, which in my day simply said, ‘used’ and now to head back to the closet and put on my incredibly chines red silk jacket; found and fit to myself immediately while hoofing through an estate sale, and the other witness Renee will wear red too; we say to each other “we’ll be the babes,” and meanwhile the above pictures show the Western Justice Center, a title deserving a distinct blog input of its own, but time and joy restrain me.

Chiara and Sean are getting married. So despite a horrible shooting in Arizona, politics again. “A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the human heart.” something that needs to be heeded more. Our atmosphere has been infected with coarseness, hate and anger, but Sean and Chiara, Chiara and Sean, are getting married, and it’s time to suit up, and spend a splendiferous afternoon with two wonderful young people, and then tonight book club! Wow

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2316197.Prayer” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Prayer: A Baha’i Approach” border=”0″ src=”http://www.goodreads.com/images/nocover-111×148.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2316197.Prayer”>Prayer: A Baha’i Approach</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1041260.William_Hellaby”>William Hellaby</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/122435751″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
profound, and contemplative, and insightful, and perceptions which lead to action shown.  Madeline Hellaby just died, and I fear this book might not be republished.  It’s a must.
<br/><br/>
<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

On the back cover, “To Baha’is, prayer is indispensable:  ‘the core of religious faith,’ writes Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Baha’i faith, ‘is that mystic feeling which unites man with God.  This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of prayer.

Written by William and madline Hellaby, I’m focusing on Madeline, who just passed.  She writes of “prayer as a living reality–prayer as ordinary people experience it in their daily loves.  ‘How can we practise the presence of God?'” she asks.  Describing with honesty, good sense and humour the various obstacles to effective praying, she finds insight in quotations and examples drawn both from the Baha’i Writings and from a wealth of religious literature, history and day-to-day experience.”

PS I use Alibris a lot to find 99 cent issues of books and up.  I like them.

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7840064-mentor” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Mentor” border=”0″ src=”http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1273513481m/7840064.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7840064-mentor”>Mentor</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/297212.Tom_Grimes”>Tom Grimes</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/121643444″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
Oh  Oh, Oh!  I liked this book so much! No, make it loved the book.  I got a Borders’ gift card and hotfooted down the street.  This book called out to me, and the writing is superb.  Tom Grimes takes the reader down the path of working in construction, to waiter, to this, to that; and his writing career unfolds.  He meets Frank Conroy, and this book is valuable for writing, but also the writing process and the struggle and the joy, and I felt as if I were folded within the words and became one with the page.  I couldn’t put it down.  Insightful, dear, honest, revealing, educational, terrific.
<br/><br/>
<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

Girl in TranslationGirl in Translation by Jean Kwok
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviews »

Readers check this out. I am outstanding and joyous at the fertility and unexpected

twists and turns of the artistic mind!

http://myloveforyou.typepad.com/my_love_for_you/

“How numerous are those peoples of divers beliefs, of conflicting creeds, and opposing temperaments, who, through the reviving fragrance of the Divine springtime, breathing from the Ridvan of God, have been arrayed with the new robe of divine Unity, and have drunk from the cup of His singleness!

This is the significance of the well-known words:  ‘The wolf and the lamb shall feed together.’    Baha’u’llah (Gleanings)

Morning reading, Jalal 14 (Glory-14th day of April – Second day of Ridvan

“Meditate on what the poet hath written: ‘Wonder not, if my Best-Beloved be closer to me than mine own self; wonder at this, that I, despite such nearness, should still be so far from Him.’  ”

                                                          Baha’u’llah (Gleanings, p. 184)

The Festival of Ridvan — the most sacred Baha’i holiday

http://www.bahai.us/

The Festival of Ridvan (Riz-wahn), celebrated from April 21 to May 2, commemorates the anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s declaration in 1863 that He was the Promised One of all earlier religions.

The Ridvan period is bittersweet, as Baha’u’llah was soon to be exiled to Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey). Baha’u’llah spent 12 days in a garden in Baghdad visiting with His followers. He named the garden Ridvan, which means “Paradise” or “good pleasure” in Arabic.

The Most Great Festival is, indeed, the King of Festivals. Call ye to mind, O people, the bounty which God hath conferred upon you. Ye were sunk in slumber, and lo! He aroused you by the reviving breezes of His Revelation, and made known unto you His manifest and undeviating Path. — Baha’u’llah

When He entered the garden, Baha’u’llah proclaimed the Festival of Ridvan and made three announcements: First, He forbade His followers to fight to advance or defend the Faith (religious war had been permitted under past religions); second, He declared there would not be another prophet for another 1,000 years; and third, He proclaimed that all the names of God were inherent in all things at that moment.

Baha’u’llah’s arrival in Ridvan and his announcement of the Festival of Ridvan mark the moment when the essence of the Baha’i Faith was expressed.

Baha’is suspend work on the holiest days of Ridvan—the first, ninth and 12th . These mark the day of Baha’u’llah’s arrival in the garden, the arrival of His family and the group’s departure for Constantinople.

Throughout Ridvan, Baha’is gather for devotions and attend social gatherings. In Texas, Perry Productions has been staging a Ridvan pageant for the last 10 years. 

At Ridvan, Baha’is annually elect members of local and national administrative bodies, called Spiritual Assemblies. Baha’u’llah taught that in an age of universal education, there was no longer a need for a special class of clergy. Instead, he provided a framework for administering the affairs of the Faith through a system of elected councils at the local, national and international levels. All Baha’i elections occur through secret ballot and plurality vote, without candidacies, nominations or campaigning.

GREAT WRITING ADVICE: I love you Kurt Vonnegut


From Dave R – to http://www.care2.com/causes/global-warming/blog/is-this-really-the-age-of-stupid/

“I just got back from the global premier of the film The Age of Stupid, which included a live simulcast to over 500 theaters in 45 countries as a tie-in to climate week and the UN climate meetings in New York.

The movie is set up as a series of modern day vignettes looked at through the eyes of an archivist 45 years in the very bleak future, who can only wonder at why we were so stupid. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical that this film would cover any new ground: There are only so many ways to represent the potential dangers and damage of climate change, many of which were covered via Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth and Leonardo DiCaprio’s 11th hour (and in the case of a few scenes, the lightweight and unbelievable “The Day After Tomorrow”.)

But I was impressed by the honest treatment of the complexity of the issues surrounding action on climate change. The film acknowledges that it isn’t as easy as simply turning off the ‘carbon tap’. The aspirations of billions for a middle class life, the entrepreneurial spirit, the contradictions between what we need to do for a living and what we believe, and even the simple unwillingness of many to accept aesthetic inconveniences (even while expressing concern over the climate) are all featured, providing an interesting human face and counterpoint to the growing body of scientific evidence and urgency for action. The film is full of ironies, such as the segment on a young Nigerian woman who points out the injustices of Shell Oil in her community, while selling diesel and wistfully aspiring to the “American good life”, which of course is powered at least in part by Shell.

Most of the characters seem to feel “trapped” in a lifestyle that they know is unsustainable, even as the evidence of the planetary impact mounts around them. Perhaps we are not living so much in an “age of stupid” as an age of covet or inertia? Whatever the case, these are very real behavioral barriers to tackling the climate issue. For the “haves”, we need to somehow increase the sense of urgency without waiting for the kind of planetary apocalypse to occur that the film projects. For the “have nots “, as I have mentioned before, using climate action as a tool rather than barrier for development is also a way to encourage positive change.

The post film discussion was equally interesting, featuring the film’s director (Franny Armstrong), Kofi Annan, the head of the IPCC, and many others. All seem generally alarmed at how much hangs in the balance in the next few months, both with US climate policy and worldwide commitment in Copenhagen. There was also a strong and consistent call for serious lifestyle change and economic retooling in the west as a matter of self preservation and social justice.

Finally, Ms. Armstrong rolled out a “10:10” campaign, urging a voluntary commitment to reduce emissions 10% by 2010. While the idea to send a message of public will is a strong one, the target is pretty tame, requiring little change, inconvenience or financial commitment, and is simply not enough. If anything, it may send a message that true public will is lacking.

Has she fallen into one of her film’s traps of symbolic gestures over real change? Or perhaps as a Brit, she has does not fully appreciate that for the average American, 10% is easy. While Europeans have already captured the low hanging fruit, we clearly have not. For this “side of the pond”, I have been a proponent of 20:20 or more, which is 20% via reduction and 20% more via offsetting.

Whatever your commitment, all of this attention is well timed. A strong populist message to the UN and the climate delegates needs to be sent!”

Read more: global warming

Here is a copy of John’s obituary.

John Howard Kavelin January 7, 1944 – July 18, 2009

John died as he lived — with joy, gratitude, wonder, and amazing spiritual clarity and wisdom, defying the effects of brain cancer diagnosed 15 months ago. John was a devoted member of the Baha’i Faith and embodies its teaching to “let your vision be world embracing rather than confined to your own selves.” He gave joy to so many as an art director and imagineer for Walt Disney Imagineering. When he was little, he was called “Mr. Toad” because he moved so fast. He later designed “Mr. Toad’s wild ride” at Disneyland. John received his Bachelor’s and Master’s of Fine Arts degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and Brandeis University. His 40-year career as a designer spans the worlds of opera, theatre, exhibit design, television and film. John is a 17-year veteran of Walt Disney

Imagineering as an art director and show producer, He was the lead designer for “Asia” at Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida and spent 6 years in Japan as Director of Design and Production for Tokyo Disneyland. In 1990, John, his sister Linda Kavelin Popov and brother in law Dr. Dan Popov founded The Virtues Project, a global initiative inspiring people of all cultures and beliefs to live by their highest values. It began on Salt Spring Island in 1988 and spread to more than 96 countries and has been endorsed by the United Nations and the Dalai Lama.

Of all John’s creative projects, the two most meaningful to him were The Virtues Project and the design for the Baha’i World Congress in New York in 1992. John’s sweet nature, loving friendship and wise mentoring will be deeply missed by his family and countless friends. A celebration of his life will be held Friday, July 24th at 11 AM at Harbour House and all are welcome.

I found this book at my local Pasadena library and have been reading it every spare minute. It was a gripper, profound, compelling, and a major voice for all those slaves in all countries who suffered so incredibly. It seems to me I briefly read that getting through it with the dialogue required staying power I think the author was profound and wise with the constant use of the dialogue. It kept the reader, me, in Lilith’s mind and emphasized the never ending horrific process of suffering and slavery. This book should be read far and wide. It was an honor to read. I wish the author so well. What a gift he has given to humanity.


From a Gnat to an Eagle is a phrase in the Baha’i Writings implying one’s potential and range of growth spiritually, and I’ve always adored that phrase. I guess that’s obvious by my blog name.

Reader, I just finished this book, and it’s new. Bill and I knew Nat and his wonderful wife Carol. Bill has worked more in the field of race relations than I and used all of Nat’s books. To put it simply, Bill loves Nat. We once stayed at their house in Amherst for the night, as we were traveling, and they let us have the pug with us in the back bedroom. I was shy with Nat, but Sunday I saw his book and knew Bill should have it for his birthday.

As things go around here, I picked it up first and couldn’t put it down. Every time I went near the book I was filled with this incredible divine sweetness – there’s no other way to portray it. I have been enamoured and spiritually connected to figures in books before, and they have changed my life, but never have I had this sense of being immersed in such divine sweetness. It is a wonderful book, and I just fell in love with Nat, his hopes, his aspirations, his accomplishments and his total humanness. Hope you can check it out somewhere; love to all, esther




IN HONOR OF PUGS
Pictures: Pug and me in 1990, taken by an LA Times Photographer after our Siberian trip. Journalist I knew interviewed us. Sophie The Pug, an enchanting picture taken by friend, and Lucy, who is much prettier in person,and is very sweet.

Lucy, the black Pug, in Pasadena is 14 and struggling, but her thick black tail wags with the enthusiasm of a seven year old. Sophie the Pug, in La Quinta, California, owned by Michael and Margaret, is having hip surgery May 9th. Margaret called this morning. She was our Pug’s Second Foster Mom. Ann Clavin was the first. Wait-backup; Ralph Schreiber, took Puggy for 3 months when we first went into Moscow, Siberia, Ukraine. Then when we went to live in Dneperpetrovsk for the year, Ann Clavin took him. Many tales ensued about Puggy, his brattedness, his toes, his moaning and hatred of the snow, and his incessant need to scold for food. Richard Clavin was chief pug carer, and send a picture into The American Baha’i which was published.
Unfortunatley, Pug didn’t endear himself for another year, so we came home that summer and took him to Margaret in the Desert, and more hilarious stories followed. Margaret had never owned a pug before. I might add, Nikki, her daughter, trained Pug so he was basically dog civilized. Gratitude to both Ann and Margaret knows no measure. Well long story short, Sophie the Pug, Margaret and Michael’s beguiling little pug has to have hip surgery. Her left leg seems to have gone kaput. I am staying with her May 11-17th. I will be Cherry Ames Visiting Nurse, for those of you who remember that childhood series, and Bill will take care of Lucy in town.

Pugs, to pug lovers, light up the universe. Someone else might just see a squished in mug, and hear snorts, but to the pug lovers everywhere, their owners see lights in their brown eyes, a creature like reaction to all innuendos, and they are cuddily, will sit next to your soul and shed hairs on it, and grunt. I personally would jump out of an airplane (at 3 feet) to see a pug. So today is an unofficial Pug Day. It’s Saturday, and we visit Lucy today, normally not seen on Saturdays. But hey, grace is grace!

Anyhow wishing all those pug lovers out there a glorious day! Remember, take a pug to lunch this week!

www.art4worldpeace.com is a terrific website, and I’m going to put it in my list on the side of this blog as soon as I remembeer how.

more later

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2007/lessing-lecture.html

Profound, timely, a must to read and ponder. Oh how we desperately need to be global! Thanks to Steve Pulley for sending this!

Art as supplication, new book “Otto Donald Rogers” released
Toronto, Ontario, 13 November 2007 (Rob O’Flanagan, CBNS) — Every work of art Otto Rogers has set out to make began with a sense of great anticipation. “Within the act of creation lies the anticipation of assistance,” said Rogers, 72, who is the subject of a major new art book from Radius Books, a new publisher based in Santa Fe, New Mexico.Otto Donald Rogers art books against the backdrop of his latest paintings at David Mirvish Books
Otto Donald Rogers was released this month. “It’s a wonderful thing to feel as if you are being assisted from some power outside of yourself – to feel moved,” said the artist, speaking of the potential spiritual incentive that lies hidden in the act of painting.

“I could never anticipate what the work would be like and I still can’t. I always look forward to what the outcome of that assistance might be.”

Rogers’ artistic momentum began at the age of 17, shortly after leaving his hometown in Saskatchewan to begin his artistic education, first at the Saskatoon Teachers’ College and then at the University of Wisconsin.

The vast openness of the Saskatchewan landscape maintains a symbolic presence in his paintings and constructions, which owe much to the visual tutelage of the great painters of the 20th century – George Braque, Kurt Schwitters, Antonio Tapies and others.

In America in the mid-1950s, Rogers first encountered the works of the modernist masters of the day, people like Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell, who would influence his own approach to painting.

It was around the same time that he first encountered the Baha’i Faith, introduced to him by his future wife, Barbara. He embraced the religion. His religious and artistic practices have carried on a symbiotic relationship for nearly half a century.

“The intoxication of the natural world experienced as a child now combined with the impressions of contemporary art to produce a transforming effect,” he writes in the compelling essay that accompanies Otto Donald Rogers, a 177-page book which features coloured reproductions of works completed over the past decade.

Copies of the book – the first printing is limited to 1,200 copies – will be distributed to about 300 libraries throughout North America. Visual artist, art critic and essayist Sky Glabush, wrote the introduction to the book.

“He is modern in the idealistic and avant-garde sense that Picasso is modern or in the promissory brightness of Kandinsky, or the utopian idealism of Mondrian,” writes Glabush.

“Rogers has often described his efforts in the studio as a form of worship. It is not as if his work is emulating prayer, or illustrating a spiritual state; rather, the act of painting itself, when striving towards perfection, becomes a form of devotion.”
Otto Donald Rogers at the November 7th Mirvish Books Launch of his new book “For Rogers, art is a supplication, the highest expression of which is unity.”

Widely recognized as one of Canada’s leading painters, Rogers’ legacy as a modernist figure in this country and abroad will be enhanced by the new book, said photographer, writer and educator Darius Himes, co-founder of Radius Books, which is dedicated to publishing books with broad artistic and cultural value.

Himes and Rogers met about 15 years ago while the two were serving at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, Israel. “I was a young photographer, someone who had just come out of art school, and he was very encouraging and influential in terms of getting me to think more about art and the effect of images,” said Himes.

About three years ago, the two reconnected and began talking about the creation of a “small catalogue.” The project grew to become a major book, and discussion is underway to produce additional books on Rogers’ work.

“Otto’s essay is actually quite monumental, in that it addresses some of things he has tried to address in his life over the last 45 years,” said Himes. “I love his work. There is a certain stillness in it, a meditative quality that is more about quietude. But there is also a great deal of dynamism in it, as well.

“The central issue for me in his approach is this idea of taking diverse elements and creating some sort of unity with them.” Himes summarized the artist’s staggering output, saying Rogers has mounted the equivalent of a solo exhibition each year for the past 45 years.

“And he has continued to evolve,” said Himes. “His work has become very dynamic.”

Having taught art for 30 years – encouraging countless aspiring young artists to pursue creative work – Rogers said he is himself a student of art.

“I just came back from New York, where I spent two weeks looking at art,” he said, “I came back with 35 books. I now have 1,200 books in my art library, and still I’m buying more.” Rogers lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

To learn more about the book visit Radius Books and look under Books, Fall 2007.

THIS is the lady I correspond with at Chowchilla. She was sexually abused most of her life and she and her mom are in prison for killing her stepfather/her mom’s husband. The legal work was shoddy, and there’s a certain amount of obfuscation regarding obtaining police records. I have been writing for several years now, and find TC the pluckiest, most grateful lady one could find. People from the “outside” help, and i give a small amount for her tuition which has to be in money order. I had to get permission to write to her, i.e., fill out a form. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, let me know.

The following gives a true account of life in her prison. I pray for her, give her some money, send stamps, and the like. someone from a writer’s group is putting her book together. If anything, can you pray for her?

The T.C. & Mama ‘P’ Newsletter – 4th Qtr, 2007Dear Family of Friends,We hope that this finds each of you doing well. There are nearly 50 of you that receive this newsletter, and I don’t know how many more that it is shared with. Our goal is to help you see into our world behind the walls,and to answer any questions that you may have. Prison is not like thoseHollywood movies. Sometimes it is worse, most the times it isn’t. We want you to continue to share your world with us. The lines of communication go both ways, and it has made an impact and all the difference in our lives. With love and gratitude, T.C. and Mama ‘P

’Wired Pizza Many of you are already aware of the terrifying incident in which mom choked in the chowhall. Please allow me to quickly update those who are not already informed.One Monday night, Mom & I went to the dining hall for dinner. They were serving cheese pizza. After one bite, she shoked on what could’ve proved fatal! A piece of twisted wire with sharp edges was hidden beneath thecheese topping. She was able to dislodge it, but she had to physically remove it from her throat. Some warm salt water and a few spoons of honey helped to heal it.I confess I was scared to death I could lose her, but somehow I remained calm and instructive. I eventually wrote a letter to the man in charge of all inmate prepared food in the prison, Mr. Cook. Yes, that really is his name. I sent him the piece of wire in a clear medicine baggie so he could see what was in her throat. I also informed Mr. Cook of other incidents thathave recently taken place. I cracked my tooth on a rock that I found in my rice. The dentist charged ME $5 to fix it! The prison should’ve covered it.A roommate found a rock in her beans and another found a hard piece of plastic about the size of a lipstick cap in her tuna salad. I told Mr. Cook that he either had some very unsafe food preparation practices taking place,or a sociopath in his hands. He hasn’t replied.Mom has healed and is doing well. We are scared to eat in the darn chowhall.It is one thing to know that the dishes aren’t washed with hot water,because the inmates don’t want to burn their hands. Or that they use the mop sink in that area as a toilet because they are lock inside. It is sickening to know that dried goods like rice, beans, and cereals stored in bulk bags are being served although they have clearly been used by mice to led inside,and even have babies. We’re disgusted by the spread of germs from hands,hair and spittal from talking over food being processed. But when you add wire, rocks and hard chunk of plastic in our food, it is just down rightterrifying. If this were a restaurant in the free world, the HealthDepartment would have shut it down years ago. We couldn’t be so lucky.Health ReportOn Saturday, October 6th, Mom & I both receive our Flu vaccination shots.Hopefully this will help.We’ve been walking at least one mile 4x a week together. Even with her bad feet and hip, she’s out there on the track. She keeps dropping a pound here,two pounds there. She’s pretty happy about that.I believe I have arthritis forming in my right hand, which is aggrivating mycarpal tunnel. Basically, we’re doing good and hanging in there.

How Do You Do That? I have been asked by several of you just how I manage to make shreddedbeef or ground enchiladas in the cell with nothing more than a bowl ofboiling water. Here’s how. First, we need the following ingredients:
1 bag Nacho Chips, crushed
1 can black olives, sliced1 fist of dried onions
1 bag of dehydrated beans (refried)Flour tortillas
1 Jalapeno Pepper, large chopped
½ teaspoon of garlic powder
1 bottle Jalapeno Squeeze Cheese
1 can Meatballs in Tomato sauce
First, you remove the meatballs from the tomato sauce setting sauce aside.Crumble the meatballs into ground beef, add onion, half of chopped peppers and a tablespoon of the olive juice. Put in cup and place as stove. (Note:the stove in this case is the bowl of boiling water closed within a trashliner which holds in the hot steam for surround heat).Add boiling hot water to crushed chips along with the rest of the peppers and 3 tablespoon of squeeze cheese. Cover and let set. The goal is to have a thick masa, not a mushy mess.Once beans are prepared, place a layer on flattened flour tortilla, cover with a layer of seasoned beef, some olives and squeeze of cheese the length of tortilla. Roll, but do not tuck the ends; keep ends open. Place masa a top the rolled tortilla, packing it in good to where the tortilla is hidden beneath. Pour the tomato sauce over the top, more cheese can be added, and top with olives. I usually add jalapeno peppers to the tomato sauce first,but not everyone likes their food as spicy.I place the trays atop “the stove” for about 45 minutes an let them cook.Once the masa is hard I know the meal is ready to be devoured. In prison,one must be creative to make meals interesting. For about 12 cents these items can be purchased at the canteen, and some ingredients are stretchedfor other meals. We usually have very little problem getting someone else to go in on the meal, which helps cut costs. Yes, one can make emciladas on a bowl of boiling water. And folks, that is how I do that!

Many ThanksThank you to those of you who have answered our request for postage stamps.It is impossible for us to keep up correspondence without the necessary
stationary supplies, postage stamps being the most expensive necessity.Thank you for your generosity. We can always use them, and yes, we’ll definitely need some for the holiday Christmas card season. Again, thankyou.Personals I want to thank a small group of people for their contribution to my college education. Whether it was a one time donation, or a semester pledge, you are appreciated. I could never afford it on my own. I never thought that I’d be enrolled in college. However, I’m halfway to my AA Degree, due to the generosity of Lucy & Max, Elayne, Carol, Anna, Nancy, Uncle Frank & AuntiViv, Esther, Bev, Stella, Laura, Xuya, and Kay. Over the last year and half,totalling 30 units, and currently working on my next nine units, I am forever grateful to each of you. I want to let you down. Your investments in my future are my road to success.Mom would like to welcome Paulette, Linda, Dianne, Carol R, and Lisa to theNewsletter Family of Friends.Mom also thanks Julia for the recent subscription to the Native American Newsletter, and welcomes you to our life. This journey is so much better,when not alone.Judy Rose, it has far too long without word from you. Please, if you’rereading this, drop a quick note.Elayne, your knowledge and wisdom has been most helpful in my seeing th eworld through new eyes. I may never be enrolled as one of your students, but you teach me all the same. While friendship continues to blossom, class is always open …. the classroom of life.Carol Peck, had it not been for your patience and diligence in typing mymanuscript, I wouldn’t be as close to publication of my memoirs as I now am.How do I thank you for that? You’ve been wonderful to Mom & I over the years. Our lives are truly touched.Mrs. Bear, you are truly a gem. There are those who see prisoners as the scum of the earth. There are those who see us as getting what we deserve.And then there is you. Not everyone in our life’s path behind the walls has been as negative, but few were as trusting of us as you have been. You seen our true colors; you sensed that we were good people in bad situation. Youdidn’t judge us, but accepted us, and welcomed us into your life. We know life is tough for you right now, and it could be better. Keep up your strength and know that you’re in our prayers.And to everyone else ….. thank you for your priceless friendships, your much needed correspondence, and the support you lend us in our trials and tribulation. If life were a vessle at sea, you are our another that help us remain stable and calm, as shore is closer in sight.

Freedom Fighting Plans Although I have yet to actually draw up my concept plans, Larnette has agreed to build a web site for Mom & I. The plan is to draw the attention o flawyers who could gain a quick review of our case and hopefully offer to legally represent us for free. We only have until January 1, 2010 to file the Writ of Habeas Corpus for Battered Woman’s Syndrome. The web site could also generate public support for our release. I’m not saying that it will, I’m only saying that this is possible to some extent.I want to make sure I haven’t confused anyone, so let me do a quick reviewof where we are right now.The California Habeas Project, is a non-profit organisation of volunteers in San Francisco. They have reviewed our case and agreed that under the newlaw, we may qualify for a several of our verdict based upon the fact that evidence of Battered Women Syndrome was NOT addressed in trial. They’ve agreed to put us on a waiting list for legal aid, however there is no telling when legal aid will be available. It is also unknown if legal aid will be made available in time for us to file our appeal before the 1/1/10deadline. All attorney aid is volunteered, and the list for women like us,is unfortunately very long. So, while we wait for the CHP to assist us, I’mmerely trying to create backroads to the same destination point. I’m tryingto help the CHP to help us.I’ve also asked Carolyn and Steve to place a free ad at the web site Craig’slist. The goal is still the same: seeking free legal aid for justice. If you have any idea of your own, please feel free to express them.Applications for assistance have already been submitted to the California Innocence Project. This is basically a bunch, how students working on your case for school credit. The problem is, us students, they move on, and new students must begin from the very beginning all over again. There are prisoners here who have been waiting 5 years for results. While the CIP haswonderful intentions, they also seek clients who claim innocence. That means“I didn’t do it!” They’ve had our paperwork for a couple of years now. So you can understand the need for more options. We’ll keep you posted on any web site accomplishments.

Make A Difference More than one in three American Indian and Alaska Native women in the USA will experience sexual violence in her lifetime. They are 2,5 times morelikely to suffer a rape or sexual assault than the general U.S. female.According to article titled Failure To Protect in the summer 2007 edition ofAmnesty International Magazine, 86% of the men who omit these horrible violations against these women, are non-Indians. In fact the majority are white men.Since Alaska became a state in 1959, federal authority took over crimes committed with criminal prosecution if they made any attempt to enforce their own village laws. Tribal councils care prohibited from tryingn on-Native suspects. That would be the 86% mentioned above. This is appalling.Due to nationwide advocacy, congress established the Tribal Title (Title IX)of the Violence Against Women ACT (VAWA) to address specific needs of NativeAmerican and Alaska Native women.I am asking that you help ensure the rights of these women by urging theU.S. government to fully fund VAWA, particularly the Tribal Title (TitleIX). You can do this by writing a simple statement expressing concerns about the levels of sexual violence against Indigenous women and the government’sfailure to punish those responsible. Please ask that the respect and rightsof these women be protected. It doesn’t have to be a long letter. Just copythis last paragraph if words are had to find. This is an appeal for changeand support. Send your letters to:
Rep. David Obey
Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee
2314 Rayburn/House Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515

Overpopulation Situation We had sent out several letters for several of you to sign and send to JudgeThelton Henderson is one of three on a federal panel of judges who are deciding the way in which the problem will be solved.The letters helped make the dilemma a lot less of a burden. We can rest assured that the beds will NOT be added to our side of the dayroom. Mom & I don’t need to worry about being uprooted and separated. We had feared that they’d need our cell for a community shower. That is no longer a fear. As a matter of fact, there is an unconfirmed rumour that the beds are supposed to be removed from all the dayrooms by the end of the year. At this time, a few housing units still have half of their dayrooms with beds filled. That includes our housing unit.In a recent meeting, the Warden said there are only 2500 beds available in the states 33 prison. I can honestly say that there aren’t any in CCWF.According to the 3 judge panel, non-violent felons and parole violators who are in custody for petty violations, will soon be released as part of their plan to reduce the prison population. They also intend to eliminate the practice of petty parole violation such as address changes being reported to parole officers after the fact. If you report it before you move, then you’re okay. To report it even within hours after physically moving, could result in a flat year violation of parole. The judges agree that this practice is nothing less than job security for prison guards and parole agents. Relief is soon in sight.

Who Started This Christmas Stuff?A woman was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable; andafter hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many selves, she finally made it to the elevator with her two kids.She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season time ofthe year. Overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming,taste all the holiday food and treats, getting that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, making sure we don’t forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card.Finally the elevator doors opened and there was already a crowd in the car.She pushed her way into the car and dragged her two kids in with her and all the bags of stuff. When the doors closed she couldn’t take it any more and stated, “Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up and shot.”From the back of the car, everyone heard a quiet calm voice respond, “Don’tworry, we already crucified Him.” For the rest of the trip down the elevator it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

The Shakedown
In From The Cold
Shut in like a fly,
Stuck in a glass,
The last time out
The noise echoes in my head.
the frigid air engulfed me
I can’t think clearly,
frost biting at my heart
A dozen voices so loud,
reluctant to trust again.
They’ wake the dead.
Green suits in the hall,
With a gentle hand
Keys jangling,
a compassion so evident
Latex gloves on hands.
I knew not
We know not why,
what warmth was
This is happening,
until you brought me in
But we all understand.
From the cold.
Stress fills the air,
Chaos on the loose,
The cell door opens wide.
“Step out ladies,”
They always call us ladies,
The sea of green steps inside.

From the Heart On Wednesday, October 3rd, Mom wasn’t feeling very well. As a matter offact, she was in pain from what would prove to be a bladder infection. I had gone to the clinic and requested a favor from my favorite nurses. Being one who never cries wolf, and earning the respect of staff has its privileges. Iwas able to have Mom seen that very hour! Normally, it would take a week.When the RN took Mom into the office, I sat on a bench in the waiting area.I looked up at Jennifer, the nurse, and I said, “I just love her.” Mom was taken care of and when I seen Jennifer the next day, she said, “I told your mom that she’s lucky to have you.” I smiled back, “Yeah, well I’m lucky to have her too.” That got me to thinking, in life, we’re all lucky to have each other. Then again, it really isn’t about luck at all. It’s about blessings.Mom and I are lucky to be blessed with each one of you in our lives. The sharing of your lives, the expressions of your hearts, and the giving of yourselves. We are truly blessed. As Mom’s 66th birthday arrives November30th and your cards find her, we’re reminded of the love and support each of you has for us. We’re lucky to have you.So I say from the heart, look around yourself. Look at your life and everyone in it. It’s more than luck, it is a blessing. Each person in your address book, each path you cross and keep in your life. We’re all lucky to have each other; we’re all doubly blessed. You’re God’s gifts to us.
Happy Holidays,
TCTeresa C. Paulinkonis
W45118 514-16-4U
P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610

Barbara Paulinkonis
W45120 514=-16-AL
P. O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610

AS I SAID, i think you have to get on a list to write. There are restrictions: no more than 5 pages, no more than 20 or 40 stamps, no books unless sent directly from well known publishers,bookstores? money has to be in money orders. One fact: they make little money and are charged for stuff, and it’s usually expensive; so they pay for their food. MCI charges extra for them to make phone calls too. At any rate, if nothing else, keep them in your prayers! love esther

Bill and I have just finished two days of being with dynamite people who are working the Solution, walking the talk, and it has been incredible. Yesterday I was the door girl at the YWCA, handing out program and agenda events while Kathy Lester everyone. The people in that room were part of a forum addressing the relationship between violence and racism, and what the impact of that is. In that room were movers and shakers of incredible dimensions, seeking to find out what actions each one of us could take, individually and collectively, to eliminate violence and racism. Gerda Govine-Ituarte was the Facilitator. I felt as if a rocket could have shot off to the moon just on the power of leadership and dimension within the room.
The day before, several of us attended the Dedication of the Western Justice Center Foundation’s Headquarters Building and Conference Center. It was seamless in grace and action. Students from Maranantha lined the winding pathways guiding us to the Ambassador where about 800 people gathered. Our own Honorable Dorothy W. Nelson, Chair of the Board of Directors, of Western Justice, introduced the Governor, and some very witty dialogue or repartee occurred. She received a standing ovation. The Western Justice Center was a dream of Judge Nelson’s and something which has taken twenty years to evolve. It makes a tremendous impact in the neighborhood, and people from all walks of life come together to learn about and institute conflict resolution. The aim of the Western Justice Center is to bring about a society dedicated to justice, tolerance, equality, eradication of racism, service to the poor and human happiness. This is achievable through dialogue, consultation and mediation, and the Center strives to develop lifelong skills to prevent and resolve conflict among children. Najeeba Syeed-Miller, Executive Director, of the Western Justice Center, gave an impassioned, eloquent talk which was quickly absorbed into everyone’s minds and hearts.
I thought of these past few days as “thinking heart days” and wondered how I, a puny human, could witness such events.


March 19, 2007-first essay upon return-
What exactly was it I did hear in those silent moments where timeand the soul, my soul to be exact, took a ride to another dimensionand time flattened out and I stepped with stockinged foot and measured gait towards the Threshold of the Blessed Beauty.”I consented to be in chains that mankind be released from its bondage,” and I found my forehead resting upon a pure cloth, on which were scattered crimson rose petals, and a silence from the White Heat of God’s Face enwrapped me in a certitude.Outside of time, the soul’s hangout, I took in knowing, God has no face. I took in white plaster walls, silent curving lacy ferns yearning their way up to pristine skylight. I took in the Pilgrim’s stockinged feet from Turkey, Peru, Canada, China, feet carrying the beseeching heart for mankind’s ordered life to be revolutionized, galvanized into an everlasting peace and the beginning of the Advent of Divine Justice. Outside in the world, the leaders played, hurling rocks and phrases suggesting “My testosterone is bigger than yours,” but for a time,nine days to be exact, I listened to my footsteps across lightly molded curved pebbles, witnessing sounds of my feet across broken tiles, calling to mind brutalities of leaders gone by. Empires stopped, majesty stamped on gardens on Mt. Carmel, every leaf, every mineral opening up to serve the blessed feet of the ordinary humanity who will come together no matter what. No boys will be boys machinations can stop this quiet soundless step towards ouroneness, and besides the white heat from the Face of God, bleachingmy bones towards selflessness and service, a promise is made,viewed, and the silence shouts, over Akka, “the silver city” and to Mount Carmel, the “mountain of God” Isaiah’s call: “Get thee up into the high mountain, O Zion that brightest good tidings,” and David in his Psalms predicted, “Life up your heads, O ye gates…theKing of Glory shall come in,” and I call to mind whilst standing in thick dimensions of purity the words uttered to Orientalist, Professor E.G. Browne, words of light going into the world as beacons of hope, “These fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away and the “Most Great Peace” shall come.”

CXXX. Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility. 286

(Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 284)



Write about ….

Something sacred

the last light of day

promises broken

seeing someone for the last time


http://www.monasdream.com:80/
“Mona’s Dream” will be produced as a feature film by Jack Lenz this year. He is asking that youth everywhere arise to do what Mona has asked us to do: To gather together and create unity. To allow youth to have a voice, especially young women and girls, and to create service projects.

http://www.turnto23.com/family/10566243/detail.html

WALPOLE, Mass. — His owners are calling their pet Max the Miracle Dog because he escaped unharmed after being run over by a commuter train.

Boston television station WCVB reported that Max sneaked out of his Walpole home on Friday morning and wandered onto some nearby train tracks. The engineer, Kym Berry, spotted him and slammed on the brakes.

“I blew the horn and put on the bell and he jumped right in the middle of the gauge and just kept running. So I put the train in emergency and he went right underneath the train. And it turns out, he came out the third coach back,” Berry said.

He came out in perfect condition.

“Thank God, he was … not a scratch on him. He was so little that he went under the train and he was fine. Not a scratch,” his owner Robin Lennon said.

At that point, the assistant conductor Pete Tomasini decided to take Max under his wing until they could locate his owners. They made Max an honorary conductor for the day. The passengers loved him, and Max seemed happy, too.

“Every time I stopped he came up and gave kisses. He was very friendly, his little bum was wiggling, he was wagging his tail, he was happy,” Berry said.

His owners said Max seemed unaffected by the ordeal, although he seemed to need a little recovery time.

“When he did come home he slept for 12 hours straight. He was totally exhausted,” Lennon said.

They were praising MBTA workers for their quick-thinking response and for taking care of the pooch until his owners could be found.

I Love this prayer!!! Someone gave it to us when we lived in Seattle and we were bringing food to her when she broke her leg. She literally took the quote off the wall and handed it to us. I try always to keep it circulating as it speaks so deeply to the heart.

Thomas Merton Prayer

My LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton- Thoughts in Solitude © Abbey of Gethsame

Portsmouth Herald

By Phillis Edgerly Ring

I think a lot about gratitude each November, of course. Back when I was making turkeys by tracing my preschooler-sized hand on construction paper and decorating the cut-out shape with feathers, I understood that that’s what Thanksgiving is for.

In more recent years, I’ve tended to reflect more on the relationship between gratitude and generosity. The good examples of these that I’ve witnessed in many lives seem to indicate that the more that you consciously cultivate one of these attributes in your life, the more you automatically intensify the other.

Nowhere has this been personified for me more thoroughly — and inspiringly — than in the life of someone who also comes to mind around the end of November, at least if you’re a member of the Baha’i Faith, as I am. November 26 and 28 each mark dates associated with events in the life of Abdu’l-Baha, whose father, Baha’u’llah, was the prophet founder of the Baha’i Faith.

Picture someone who essentially put others before himself every time and exuded remarkable happiness while doing so and you have a rough idea of why so many loved Abdu’l-Baha so much. From the age of 9 until his early 60s, he was more or less a prisoner, along with the rest of his family. That’s because the things his father suggested about what would remedy mankind’s ills never found much favor among those who held positions of power and authority. As one source put it, “They didn’t find their personal interests advanced by his teachings.”

Stories about Abdu’l-Baha play a key part in the life of Baha’i families because he exemplified precisely what a life would look like when guided entirely by spiritually motivated choices. His actions illustrate in a concrete way the very qualities that his father urged humanity to explore, develop and, perhaps most important of all, apply.

In raising our children, we found no better example to turn to when looking at questions of spiritual integrity. This was so much the case that the question we typically found ourselves asking in the face of many challenges was, “What would Abdu’l-Baha do?”

Once he was finally free, although quite an elderly man, he struck out for Europe and the United States (including a week in the Portsmouth area) to share what his father had taught, the light that had illumined his own path in such a way that even those who declared themselves his enemies and rose to attack him eventually came to love and protect him.

One story about him remains my favorite because it illustrates both literally and symbolically just what sort of person he was. It occurred when he was probably about 6, at a time when his family, who had descended from nobility, still had wealth. (A few years later, it would be seized by the government and they would all become exiles.)

On the day in question, Abdu’l-Baha was sent out with an adult companion to inspect the work of the shepherds tending his father’s sheep. When the inspection was finished and he turned to leave, the man who had accompanied him said, “It is your father’s custom to leave a gift for each shepherd.”

Abdu’l-Baha grew quiet for a while. He hadn’t known or expected this — and what would he give them?

Then an idea came to him that made him very happy. He would give them the sheep!

When his father heard about this he was, rather than angry or displeased, absolutely delighted with this early evidence of truly spontaneous generosity. He humorously remarked that everyone had better take good care of “Abdu’l-Baha, because someday, he would give himself away.

And that is exactly what history shows that he did, over and over, all while bringing joy everywhere he went.

Although I’m a long way from emulating that myself, I do know that gratitude and generosity are two prime factors in the equation. I hope that’s at least some progress from the simple, glad-for-my-own-happiness sort of gratitude I felt back when I was tracing those turkey shapes. That was about personal deliverance. Abdu’l-Baha’s more encompassing kind of example can help heal a whole world.

Phyllis Edgerly Ring, mother of two, is a parenting columnist for several publications and writes on issues of family and culture from her Exeter home. She may be reached by e-mail at info@phyllisring.com.

http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/11072006/community-f-n7-ringside-n3.html
New Hampshire, USA

© 2006 Portsmouth Herald


A Joyous Holy Day To All Yes! This is the day of Bahá’u’lláh, the age of theBlessed Perfection, the cycle of the Greatest Name.If you do not smile now, for what time will you awaitand what greater happiness could you expect? Thisis the springtime of manifestation. The vernal showerhas descended from the cloud of divine mercy; thelife-giving breeze of the Holy Spirit is wafting theperfume of blossoms. From field and meadow risesa fragrant breath of thanksgiving like pure incenseascending to the throne of God. The world has becomea new world; souls are quickened, spirits renewed,refreshed. Truly it is a time for happiness. Abdu’l-Baha The Promulgation of Universal Peace p. 210… Find here a beautiful presentation for the Holy Day!

http://www.nybahai.org/bahaullah/birthofbahaullah.html

Quotation of the Day for September 3, 2006
“It has become a common feeling, I believe, as we have watched our heroes falling over the years, that our own small stone of activism, which might not seem to measure up to the rugged boulders of heroism we have so admired, is a paltry offering toward the building of an edifice of hope. Many who believe this choose to withhold their offerings out of shame. This is the tragedy of the world.

“For we can do nothing substantial toward changing our course on the planet, a destructive one, without rousing ourselves, individual by individual, and bringing our small imperfect stones to the pile.

“I have learned other things: One is the futility of expecting anyone, including ourselves to be perfect. People who go about seeking to change the world, to diminish suffering, to demonstrate any kind of enlightenment, are often as flawed as anybody else. Sometimes more so. But it is the awareness of having faults, I think, and the knowledge that this links us to everyone on Earth, that opens us to courage and compassion. It occurs to me that often many of those I deeply love are flawed. They might actually have said or done some of the mean things I?ve felt, heard, read about, or feared. But it is the struggle with the flaw, surprisingly endearing, and the going on anyhow, that is what I cherish about them. Sometimes our stones are, to us, misshapen, odd. Their color seems off. Their singing ? comical and strange. Presenting them, we perceive our own imperfect nakedness, but also, paradoxically, the wholeness, the rightness, of it. In the collective vulnerability of presence, we learn not to be afraid.”

– Alice Walker, from Anything We Love Can Be Saved
May have put this up before; back in Pasadena, relief;Bill’s temp normal tonight; hard week; but good to see our dear friends; valient with challenges of age; great family; i have been downloading course from Wilmette Institute; guaranteed to sharpen this blunted brain. I am grateful to be back; Edla missed us; we missed her; and so it goes.

… Thus shall a sorry gnat become an eagle in the fulness of his strength, and a feeble sparrow change to a royal falcon in …

I fell in love with that quote years ago, and in fact, I laughed out loud when I read it, and said to myself, “That’s it! I’m a sorry gnat,” and today I can say I am the happiest Sorry Gnat. email from David re Melanie who is on second part of presenting modules of her curriculum in Africa, and then she goes to Haifa for a brief visit. It turns out Johnnie will be leaving for Haifa next Wednesday and I gave Dave his information to tell Melanie and will tell Johnnie also. Two of my soul friends will meet. Hooray!

We walked second day in a row along the paths of Bidwell Park. Some days you see deer, not today, tho Bill said he saw 2 vultures. Some trees knocked down, huge ones, and there’s a feathery lack of care over the whole scene so we can appreciate it in its blowsy nature look, not like the clipped manicured paths and surroundings in urban areas. It fills us, me and Bill, and we have to get back in shape. Walking with very low blood pressure mine (so as not to stress my aortic valve) feels somewhat like moving a truck up hill slowly, but i am sure things will get better. we are with sue and ralph, our dear dear friends, frail and into the final frontier of agedom, and valient; a good example. We will toot downtown and go to one of the best used bookstores around! If i find any good images, I’ll put em up.

from an email i received this morning!

We know the effects of war are bad. So let us try, as an experiment, peace, and if the results of peace are bad, then we can choose if it would be better to go back to the old state of war! Let us in any case make the experiment.
(Baha’i Scriptures)