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Thursday, September 19, 2013

When Dreams Become A Reality

When I was a preteen, one of the ways I escaped the stress and confusion that resulted from the abuse my father inflicted on me was to sleep; and dream. I'd use the spare time I had during the day between chores, homework and caring for my siblings, to close my eyes and descend (or ascend) to a place that I felt I had control over what went on in my life. In my mind I'd hold visions of mansions with endless gardens of roses; wardrobes full of pretty dresses, and every My Little Pony toy I could think of, until I drifted off to sleep. I hoped that the pictures in my imagination would manifest during my slumber so I could live in an ideal world free of responsibilities, violence and the sexual pressures my father put on me. 

The only other time I used sleep in this way was when my daughter died. I internalized my emotions and spent most of my days sleeping while my children were in school. I tried to hold the image of my daughter in my head hoping I'd see her in my dreams. Today my dreams are still very vivid, but in a different way. I've done everything from coming up with story ideas for books, solving problems in my life, while I slept; literally. I even found the remote control for my television with the help of a dream, lol!, and my life's dream to raise awareness of child molestation and help other women and children are becoming a reality.

It wasn't until sometime last year I found a way to use my dreams in yet another way.
I'm a single parent, working, in school and running a business; but finances seem to always be a challenge. My children are all musically inclined and I would love to get them music lessons. But that takes money. We are limited in what we can do for fun as a family because all income goes to bills and education. We go to the movies during a.m. hours to take advantage of matinee prices. We've been in our house for three years now, but I just got cable. And going out to dinner is a luxury my budget won't allow at this time (it's a a good thing I can cook my butt off). Then one night I dreamt I got a scholarship. I wasn't even sure what a scholarship was, so I hit the internet and finally came across some that I qualified for. One of these opportunities meant to ease the financial burden of furthering one's education, was through a women's organization called Soroptimist International. When I Googled the organization further, I found they had a sub organization called Live Your Dreams dedicated to bettering the lives of women and children (can anyone say candidate?). Oh the irony! 
A picture Soroptimist International took of me

I signed up with the organization right away and applied for the scholarship. To make a long story short, after two essays, a few months, and some references from some very good friends, I won three different levels of what the organization calls the Woman's Opportunity Award! The funds couldn't have come at a better time, and along with other things for my education and family, I got my children music lessons!

When I'm up late at night studying for a test, I take short naps. While I sleep the information seems to process within my dreams, and while in class I can better recall what I read. When I have writer's block for a paper, I read the research then sleep for a while, and when I wake up my block is gone. One day during psychology class my professor asked us to test if our brains retained information better if we go to sleep after reading it. The class was split in the results, but for me it's always worked.

My dreams mean many things. I use to use them as a form of escape during my traumatic childhood. In many ways I'm inspired by the vivid scenarios in my head while I'm resting. I've went to places I've never been and met people I'll probably never know, all through my dreams. And as I continue to dream up ideas, manifest wishes and fulfill goals, I can tell you from first hand experience my life today increasingly become the thing that a little girl's dreams were made of. 


Food for thought:
According to studies done by the National Science Foundation, information can be better retained with reinforcing stimuli delivered during sleep. Click the link for the full article. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I have a dream

August 26, 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the the day that Martin Luther King and 250,000 Americans, marched on Washington DC for jobs and freedom. Unfortunately do to my limited education I didn't know much about the original event in 1963. I remember my father playing a vinyl record of Dr. Martin Luther King's speech on Lincoln Memorial (just learned what Lincoln Memorial was when I got there, lol) repeatedly, but the significance wasn't explained to me then. So prompted by a trip already planned by a friend, I decided to join him and the other anticipated 300,000 people, to see what the historic event was about.

At 4:30 a.m. myself and 3 others drove almost 5 hours to Washington DC to participate in the reenactment of a peaceful protest headed by one of America's most influential leaders, fifty years ago. My friend brought a painting he created himself titled "I am a Man", to make his own statement among a crowd of many. He received a lot of attention. People took pictures, requested interviews; he even gave a live interview to Fox5 news, as I stood and soaked it all in.


I tried to imagine the strength that it took Dr. MLK to rally and inspire hundreds of thousands of people in an attempt to cause change in a society where African Americans were discriminated against. Was his dream so strong that he ignored all the risk and dangers associated with trying to bring it to reality? Was he initially alone in his plan to act? If so what about him personally inspired strength in others to do what he did and speak out for their cause? What about Mr. King made people follow and listen to his ideas enough to get up  and out of their homes and put themselves out there? As I pondered these questions I began to feel alone in my own quest for change.

See, my sisters, along with one of my brother's do not want to be associated with anything that I do to raise awareness for child sexual abuse, if it includes my life with my dad. I posted the link to the interview I did for NJ.com on my personal Facebook timeline, and one of my sister's asked me to take it down. I understand and respect their privacy but I can't help but feel alone and in some ways abandoned in carrying this torch that will shine light on this terrible social deviance.  On top of that, their position only reminds me of some of the tactics my father used to put fear and doubt in our minds so that we wouldn't fight back against him. When you are surrounded by people that you love and they are against what you believe to be right, it makes you question yourself. To keep us divided, my father planted seeds of doubt and deceit in everyones heads, which made us not trust each other. Unfortunately, weeds of his manipulations remain to this day.


I've not seen the long term results of opening myself up to others, but something deep down inside me says it's the right thing to do. So I've taken these gifts God has given me; my writing and story telling abilities, my vivid memories; an innate ability to listen and empathize, my thirst for knowledge, the discipline my father instilled in me, my desire to help those in need, and my ability to talk about hard issues, and I truly believe I'm fulfilling my purpose! 
I remember the exact moment I discovered what a lot of us search for in this existence. I was sitting in front of my computer drifting in and out of thoughts on the present, lessons from the past and plans for the future, when a moment of clarity descended upon me.  The transformation in my energy from this realization was like the change your reflection undergoes in the mirror after you wipe away the condensation collected from a hot shower you took. Clean and precise. I knew what I was meant to do! 
It wasn't cooking, it wasn't opening a restaurant or anything dealing with my passion for food. It was and is, to publish my book and help other women and children any way that I can. The irony is that I already started writing my book years before (up to 25 pages), for therapeutic reasons. But something about that moment in time, whether it was a guardian angel whispering in my ear, or the universe opening up to direct me; that moment fueled what I'm doing here today. And I reflect on it anytime I need some encouragement. 

If I had the opportunity to ask him one question, I'd ask Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. what kept him motivated and how did he handle the naysayers? Without coming across bombastic, maybe he had a moment of clarity, like me. 


Food for thought:
Some interesting facts about Dr. MLK's March on Washington in 1963. Curtesy of TheGrio.com

  • There was a large military and police presence at the march. The entire D.C. police force was mobilized, along with 500 reserves and 2,500 members of the National Guard.
  • Only two women, Daisy Bates and Josephine Baker, addressed the crowd that day. At 60, Baker told the crowd, “I am not a young woman now, friends. My life is behind me. There is not too much fire burning inside me. And before it goes out, I want you to use what is left to light the fire in you.” Bates, the architect of the Little Rock school integration and president of the Arkansas NAACP, said,“All the women pledge that we will join hands with you… We will sit in, and we will kneel in, and we will lie in if necessary, until every Negro in America can vote.” (AP Photo)
  • CBS, NBC and ABC broadcasted live coverage of the program in its entirety. Sixteen-hundred press passes were issued for the march. Extensive coverage helped the march become one of the most widely reported on events of its day. 
  • The official name of the now-famous march was “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.”
  • Scholar, activist and founder of the NAACP, W.E.B. Du Bois, died that morning in Ghana, at the age of 95.
  • Organizers recruited and trained nearly 2,000 parade marshals, mostly black police officers who belonged to the Guardians Association, a fraternal organization of black police.