Anger is the Birthright I choose not to accept.

There are people in this world who don’t have it easy. Who wonder when things will ever get better, why they were born…yes most people have these thoughts sometimes, but for the people I am thinking of these thoughts are a constant companion.

Anger is a birthright for those of us constantly reminded that life isn’t fair. That we may never have the opportunities that others so easily take for granted.

Anger is a birthright for those who were abused in unspeakable ways by people who should have cared for them more than life itself.

Anger is a birthright for those who were torn from their families, brothers, sisters, aunts uncles and grandparents, as well as for those who should have been rescued but weren’t.

It’s a birthright for those who were labeled as “troubled”, and “not worth the time”, who were ignored by teachers who failed to report the signs. Who they made to feel stupid for not turning in homework, when our biggest priority was JUST TO STAY ALIVE.

Anger is a personal birthright for me, as I had to beg the police to put me in foster care and away from my mother, anger is my birthright because I had to at age 11, make a choice to abandon my brother and leave him to a life that would be fraught  with crime and separate from me. Anger is my birthright as my mother chose sex over her own daughter’s safety.

Anger is my birthright as after so much hell, I still struggle! That I can barely see the silver lining from the crushing weight of trying to  be self – sustaining. That the uphill battle that is life, never seems to have a top. That people perceive me as different than I am, and there is nothing I can ever do to change that. Yes, we, “I” have a right to be angry.

But I choose a different path, I choose to be grateful for the moments of joy that ease my troubled mind. I choose to learn from people’s ignorance, I choose to forgive (for my own sake) the people who hurt me. I choose to be better!

When we look at life from a perspective of a gift, we can benefit from anything. I learned at a very, (too) young age, to stand up for myself in a way that people would listen to, but also respect me. And that true respect the kind out of admiration, not fear, is one of the most valuable gifts a person can ever have. Too many people don’t understand that! They think if people are scared of you..they respect you. To be honest, That’s just not the case they see you as a bully and you are probably friendless…

I want to address how I forgive, but because it’s not just blindly, the first thing I do is try to see the situation from the other persons perspective. Was their intention truly to be hurtful?  I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. If they are in any possible way not entirely wrong, I work to forgive them. However, if I do determine a person to just be “mean or dangerous “ no mater who they are, they don’t get a place in my life. That may seem cold, but it is survival. I don’t wish them ill will, and if I run into them, I treat them civilly and with grace. But they are no more a part of my story.

Anger “is a poison”. So many people say, “Oh, I didn’t get this job because of this or that, usually siting race, nationality, or gender; but it has been my experience, that it is usually about attitude. If you bring SUNSHINE into the room, people will be drawn to you. If you have a chip on your shoulder, are constantly negative, or are looking to cause a fight. I sure as hell would avoid you!

I implore you to let your anger work for you. Let it motivate you to excellence! Let anger at being treated poorly drive you to NEVER TREAT ANYONE THAT WAY! Let anger at being made fun of for being poor, motivate you to succeed and to help others do the same! Let anger from bad parenting, strengthen your commitment to being the best parent you can possibly be. Let anger at all the injustices, make you fair and kind and passionate! Do not,do not, do not be a SLAVE TO YOUR ANGER, it can crush you and keep you down, or you can let it work for you and make you GREAT!

I’m rooting for you!

Carob.

7 STEPS TO START IMPROVING YOUR LIFE TODAY.

Taking steps to improve your life can be difficult even during good times.

We as humans are prone to being complacent. We are often not really ok with where we are at but lack motivation to achieve more.When you are starting at rock bottom moving forward (and upwards) can seem insurmountable!

For as  long as I can remember I have wanted to live life better. It’s not that I’m some sort of social climber! I never wanted to be rich or famous. What I wanted was to leave the labels and stereotypes of being a foster kid behind. I was going to live my adult  life on my own terms. However, as soon as I Aged Out of foster care, I realized I was alone. I was scared, but thankfully not homeless because my college financial aid package. Despite my anxiety I was also excited. Having moved to a new town to start college,no  one knew me. It was a FRESH START and an opportunity to create the life I wanted. Here’s a list of the actions I took. All of these actions are still viable and effective for anyone wanting a fresh start today:

1.       Create a vision

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 As a 19 year old college freshman I saw the world of opportunities and out of all of my options I knew I knew I wanted to be both an actress, and a wife and mother. I knew loved theater down to my bones and through theatre I would live passionately. I also wanted a family that included a good marriage to a man who would love me as I never had never been loved before.

When you create a vision you have to think about everything you want in life. Your Endgame has to be always in sight. I do this literally with a vision board. But list journals and digital options can also be useful.

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2.       You need a plan

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“If you fail to plan, You are planning to fail”

-Benjamin Franklin

Think of your plan as GOOGLE MAPS. It’s a straight forward (mostly) accurate step by step guide to getting you where you need to be. But sometimes google isn’t up to date and misses things like detours or recently construction and you find yourself needing to take a detour — which may take you longer, or cause you to change plans. 

You MUST Develop Grit:

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Here is where you need resilience.  In her book, Grit, Dr Angela Lee Duckwork talks about how “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals,” In our journey grit is the ability to keep moving forward no matter what obstacles are placed in your way. Not an easy task but made doable by ….

Developing a Growth Mindset:

That in its most simple terms, is not letting things getting you down. Its adding “yet” to the negative things we tell ourselves. Example “I’m not  good at math” becomes “I’m not as good at math as I’d like to be, yet” In Carol Dweck’s book XX, and her subsequence Ted Talk (give date). She explains that the brain is a muscle and that it can grow and expand to increase intelligence. Dweck challenges the stereotype that “some people are smart and some are not.” We can expand our cognitive abilities! It’s kind of surprising to me that we didn’t figure this out sooner, considering some great minds like Albert Einstein and Mozart were once thought to be developmentally delayed. 

Education:

There are many ways to be educated that don’t include a formal degree. And if you were a foster child after the age of 13 there may even be options for university degrees. I am an “Autodidact ”. That’s a big word to say that I am self- taught. I continually homeschool myself in whatever I want or need to learn. There is a plethora FREE educational resources online (some even offer degrees). Even YouTube (when you can trust the speaker) can be extremely useful. If you do better in a class setting, many charities offer free classes.  I’ve taken some computer classes at my local Goodwill.

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Possibly the most important trait you must develop is character.

Now it goes without saying that many Important people are lacking this. But as a person RISING, You must develop DIGNITY. And that comes through having strong personal character. We have no parents or family name to vouch for us. When people give us a chance they often see it as taking a RISK, We must turn that risk into a reward. That means we must be honest in our dealings, whether that is with money or HOW we work. But beyond just honesty, we must be gracious, we must  be pleasant, and we must be likable. We must take the brick of anger that often often rides on our shoulders, that sense of unfairness–whether perceived or true– and turn that brick into a stepping stone. Use that stepping stone to lift you to where you want to be. 

This is a brief overview of the essential skills you NEED to have to start to improve your life today.

Over the next few months we’ll dig deeper into each of these topics in my blogs, podcasts, youtube channel. Subscribe so you won’t miss a thing!

Until next time, 

Keep Rising!

Carob

Why I Write..My Foster Care Story..In honor of Foster Care Awareness Month.

I believe that suffering has a purpose..

I once attended a class where the speaker was someone in recovery, someone who had a hard life, and as a result treated her children harshly. Perhaps if she had started out with a better statement I would have had more empathy. Her opening words were. “My mother was an alcoholic, so of course I abused my kids, I NEVER HAD A CHANCE!”

Those few words have prompted me to start writing. I don’t believe that children of abuse and neglect “never have a chance”. I don’t believe in using ones upbringing as an excuse for failure. I believe every single person has a chance to have a  beautiful life, healthy relationships, success at work and at home. It takes work, in fact, much more work than it does for others but it can be done.

You make think I’m naive, that I “don’t know what people go through” or that I have no compassion. If that’s the case, let me assure you, You are wrong!

I am an adult survivor of the foster system, I experienced unspeakable abuse and neglect at the hands of my mother, and worse at her boyfriends, when I was 8 years old I ran away to the police station and begged them to put me in foster care, They didn’t at first, instead they took me home where my mother put on a show for the caseworker and as soon as she left, pulled out pliers and threatened to pull my tongue out with them if I ever brought “pigs” to her house again. My mother was well versed in the art of cruelty, making me address her as”Your majesty, and she called me “slave-girl”. She pinned dirty underwear to my clothes and made me wear them to school. The best I could hope for in my house was to be forgotten, and I hid under piles of laundry so she couldn’t find me and beat me. So at 8 I ran away and the second time, after the police took an inventory of my welts and bruises, I went to a foster-home. It was the 80’s a time when they didn’t want families to get attached so I moved 18 times in 9 years. I did not have a family. I did not have a lasting role model, some homes were not bad, others…..

In some homes people called me, the “N” word- Their own adult children were like the evil step-sisters, and I lived there to be unpaid help, In others I opened my package of socks, while the bio children opened rooms full of presents on Christmas day. Still  in others, they made prophecies about how by the age of 15 I’d have three kid’s and be on welfare. (Even though there was NO basis for the comment) My mother mercifully went to prison for selling drugs and then my brother who was a toddler, joined me for a few years on my journey.

I was never adopted, at age 18 I aged out I was able to finish school, and then I was quite literally on my own. My social worker enrolled me on food stamps, and my friend’s mother paid for my first months share of an apartment. And that was that.

20 years later I just celebrated being married to the best (normal) guy ever for 15 years. We have a lovely life with a charming and brilliant son, a comfortable home and very little evidence of the past I left behind.

Some of us have a long road to travel one so rough and ragged that thankfully others will never experience. This blog keeps in mind those who dare to hope that life can get better, it’s for those who crave a “normal” life. It’s for those who want success at home, and in the wide wide world. My personal belief is that our lives have PURPOSE. I think the reason I experienced the things I did in my childhood, is so that I can really help others. This blog will, I hope, be a little bit of the “mother” you maybe didn’t have. I’ll share with you everything I know about how to succeed at life, I promise to be open, and speak with compassion, I promise to be honest with you even if it hurt’s. You will find on this blog, how to keep a house, how to dress in a way to command respect, land a job, attract the right kind of mate, I’ll share with you (though I’m still learning) how to budget, and the importance of setting goals. I want you to know, you don’t have to be a statistic, you can be happy, and have a great life! Whether you are 80 or 18, I want you to know, YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN!

On Standing Alone

When I was 8 years old I left my home. I left my family.  I walked into a police station. And said “I’m done, no more” I fantasized that a happy normal family would adopt me but that turned out to be a pipe dream. I lived in 18 different foster homes before I aged out at 18.  Nine different Christmases. Countless foster siblings a host of different “parents” and a single truth, I was alone.

I was alone as I walked into each different school. Each time the new kid-

I was alone as I approached a table and faced to decisions; sit by myself or risk being rejected…again.

I was alone at the new church, where new “parents” were praised for “generous hearts” but within closed walls no such generosity was displayed.

I was alone as with clumsy fingers I tried to affix the buttoner on the lapel of my pitying dates, homecoming suit, I in a dated hand- me- down dress four sizes too big.

I was alone as I headed off to college, having no parents no mentors, no anything.

I made mistakes. I did things to try to STOP BEING LONELY. I threw myself into bad situations, wrong relationships, and ill-thought-out spiritual choices, All to be a part of something. To just not be alone ANYMORE.

And one day I realized…There IS POWER IN BEING ALONE.

Gandhi wrote-

“The best way to find yourself is in service to others’

One day I decided to look for another person sitting by themselves at the lunch table and started a conversation. When they didn’t reject me, I was encouraged to try again, I found that trying to comfort someone else met a need within myself.

I saw the hypocrisy, of my Pseudo families, for what they were. And made notes to myself of what I did and didn’t want for my own one day family.

I started to see being alone as a gift. A clean canvas, I have never been encumbered by anyone else’s demands. I’ve rarely felt pressure to settle for something not within my own vision. Since I was alone I alone was responsible for my decisions, I learned to make ones I could live with.

When I have been tempted to do REALLY Stupid Things, I’ve mostly found within myself that hard-won resilience to walk away. To leave it behind and not look back and to know that despite what anyone else might think or say, in the end, I would be okay.

So is this a selfish perspective? Perhaps. Unquestionably life taught me to be cautious, careful and a bit self-centered but, what is the alternative?

In my version of being self- centered I strive to be “self-aware” Conscious of both my strengths and my weaknesses and I acknowledge that working on those weaknesses is sometimes a lifelong process. In my version even after sometimes failing miserably, I still believe and try to give myself a little grace.

Sometimes we find ourselves alone because of our own crappy choices-

Sometimes we stand alone because of our good ones.

Never stay in a situation because you are afraid to be alone-

Become best friends and advocate for that person in the mirror!

Do something today that makes you proud!

I’m rooting for you!

Carob