White Knuckled Decisions: It’s not my job to teach other people lessons.

but why?

The Kid (formerly known as The Tot).

I’m a new mom. Newish.

I’ve held this position for the last 3 and a quarter years now and every day seems to bring a whole new set of rules.

I like it. I’m one of those odd people who enjoy a good shake up every now and then.

Yesterday, I was chest deep in a very awkward and potentially damaging situation where I had to either choose what I wanted to do OR choose what was best for my little hazel-eyed, curly, blonde-haired, 3 year old daughter.

I picked up my daughter from school and wanted to treat her to her favorite meal. She usually goes for shrimp and crab but the budget for the day only allowed for shrimp and we pulled into the local Sam’s Seafood and Eatery.   As I’m getting The Kid (formerly known as The Tot) out of the car, I hear a man shout from the curb and ask me if I had any money.  “Sorry man, I don’t have any cash” is what I shouted back at this tattered homeless man…and then…my mouth opened back up.  “Are you hungry?”  I asked him.

Of course he answered with yes and I motioned for him to come into the restaurant with us. As he met us inside, I asked him for his order and get it to go.  Then I ordered for The Kid and me.

The three of us make it over to a table and sit down. Not much chit chat.  Our server brings our meals out at the same time.  Ours for here; His to go.  He decides to stay and eat dinner with us.  At this point in time, I realize that my daughter is in for more than I bargained for…

She sits across the table from him in her little 3 year old frame…wide-eyed and silent. I look at him as he looks at her.  No sense in trying to side-step the inevitable.  The man, who later became known as Isaac, has a black eye patch that covers his left eye.  He has a scar that runs from the top edge of his hairline, through his eyebrow and left eye down to his left cheek.  There is another deep scar that runs from his right ear across his face to his lips.  His top lip has been smashed too many times and lies much differently than most upper lips.  His arms are also covered in numerous marks and scars. Finally, I say to her, “Are you afraid to talk to him because of the eye patch?”

“No, Momma.”

I explain to her that he looks differently than she is used to but that he has 2 arms and 2 legs just like she does and that he is a just a normal person that has had an accident (or 2 or 6).

Photo: Jake Warga“Why is he eating with us, Mom?” As I explained that Isaac doesn’t have a home and that he was hungry, I told her that sometimes people need help and that if we can help them, then we try to help them.  Isaac nodded his head in agreement and said thank you.  The Kid eyeballed him nearly the entire time we ate.  And I was fine with that.  Isaac tried to carry on a conversation with her but she was content with nodding and didn’t need any other interaction.  And I was fine with that.

As we started to wrap up our meal, Isaac pulled out his Gatorade bottle half full of his drug of choice. I asked him if he preferred whiskey or rum.  He quickly shoved his bottle back into his bag.  “It’s whiskey.  I have a drinking problem.” he said.  “We all have our problems.” I replied.

**Enter the SHAKE UP**

“Yeah…I know. I tried to share a 40 with this woman earlier and she told me she was bisexual.  I don’t like that.  I don’t care for those homosexuals.  They’re disgusting.  Then she said that she was going to go down to that Equality Center and I said that I don’t want to be around those fags.  She got mad at me then and I had to get out of there.  They can keep all of those faggots over there, I don’t want nothin’ to do with them.” he said.

They can keep all of those faggots over there, I don’t want nothin’ to do with them.

At this point, I look at my daughter and look back at him. I tell him that I understand why that woman got upset with him.  I ask the server to bring some boxes so we could box up our leftovers.  “It’s time for us to go.” I say to him.

I could feel two versions of myself fighting each other on the inside of me. One was telling me to breathe while the other had firmly planted her feet and slung out a healthy, “THIS FAGGOT JUST FED YOU DINNER”.

I wanted so badly to “teach him a lesson”. To let him know what he’d done…that he walk away from this place knowing how rude and awful he was.

And then I looked back at my daughter. This was her time.  She had a brief glimpse of what it’s like to help someone in need.  She didn’t need to know the ugly side of it.

I needed to walk away.  I scooped up my little baby girl and we left Isaac sitting at the restaurant.

Now I am white knuckled, trying to decipher if I did the right thing or not.  She’s really quiet but breaks the silence by asking me if I’m ok.  I nodded and smiled big at her, “I’m ok, sweetie”.  As I’m getting buckled into my seat, I ask her what she thought about eating dinner with Isaac.  Normally my 3 year old likes to give her opinion with gusto.  However, after asking her about dinner, she just looked at me through the rear view mirror.  “Were you scared?”  She just looked at me.  “Are you thinking about Isaac?”  She just looked at me.  Trying to think like a 3 year old, I asked her, “was he a good guy or a bad guy?”

She looked out the window and then back at me. Furrowing her eyebrows and tilting her head sideways, she said, “I think that he is good guy AND a bad guy.”

She already knows that there can be an ugly side.

Not everyone is open hearted.  There are people everywhere who misunderstand other people unlike themselves.  Some even wish that the other didn’t even exist.  Gays, Straights, Christians, Muslims, Religious, Non-Religious, War-mongers, Peacemakers, Atheists, Hungry, Homeless, Rich, and Poor.

Since that moment, I have reconciled that it’s not my job to “teach other people lessons” when they offend me. My job is to work at being an amazing mom to my daughter and this particular lesson was for me…to help when I can and walk away when necessary.


For more information about the Equality Center, an amazing resource for the Tulsa area, click here.

For information on a very easy way you can help the homeless in the Tulsa area, click here.

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John Legend Saves The Day.

So…maybe it’s me getting older.

Grandma Adams

That’s me in the middle…circa 1991ish. And it’s probably one the best ideas of what I’ll look like at 75. Give or take a few pounds.

I have always seen myself as a hopeless romantic.  A believer in storybook romance and star-crossed lovers.  Now…at 40, not so much.

I think it exists.  But it exists in the ways that people are born into extreme wealth or geniuses or prodigies.  It’s not for all of us AND it’s rare.

For most of us we have to bust our asses just to keep our existence together.  Life’s curve balls are more like sucker punches to the groin.  You must become a champion of quality time and you fight. You fight for your spouse.

Photo by Nathan Rouse

Photo by Nathan Rouse

One of the most difficult things to watch is my friends and family go through a break up or a divorce.  It’s hard to watch the relationship deteriorate.  It’s hard to watch one spouse harden their heart or not believe that the sucker punches are hitting while the other spouse quietly grieves the death of their relationship.

Watching someone close grieve the loss of their spouse is gut-wrenching.  It’s one of the loneliest things I have even seen.  The one person they had to rely on, to lean on during such an intimate loss is the one who is “gone”.

Today while sitting at my desk I was listening to some random playlist on Spotify.  John Legend’s All of Me started playing.

What sappy lyrics.

Here’s the chorus:

Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning
Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you.

But here’s the deal…it’s a beautiful song.  I’ve heard it a million times probably.  Today though…today I HEARD the lyrics.  And as silly as it may seem, I am falling back into love with the idea that romance exists.

So…if you’re struggling with the belief that romance exists here’s John Legend and his song All of Me.  Someone somewhere felt these words enough to write this song.  Someone. Somewhere.

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How my Strength caused My Paralysis.

We all want to be strong. Right? Am I right for thinking this way?

quote-strength-persistIt seems that we all have a desire to be physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually strong.  Most of us anyway.  For me, it has always been important to “have a good head on my shoulders”.  I have modeled my life around being as diplomatic to situations as I can possibly be…sharing multiple points of views and relating to many sides of the story.  I grew up this way. I was the first born child in my household and had a very strongly opinionated and hard working mother. It became necessary to understand that there were more sides than just 2 to any given story at any given time. I had to take on the task of being “momma” while Momma was at work and also act as liaison and advocate for my siblings once Momma came home because ultimately she was the final authority in all things.

Momma taught us that we were leaders. Momma taught us that we were strong.

What happens when it all backfires?

I’ve shared before that we were exceptionally poor. Growing up in a house that had only one room…just a box that we played in, slept in, and ate in. No electricity or running water.  I know that all we wanted was to escape.  For a couple of my siblings, their escape was writing.  For me, my escape was physical and the moment that I met someone who told me I could do it…I did it.  I left.

I was ushered into a life of travel and I LOVED it.  I also loved the idea of helping people. I had already “roughed it” most of my life so to travel to 3rd world countries to help build sewer systems or water towers to help others seemed like a dream.  I was introduced to an organization that honed in on my eagerness to lead and my desire for traveling.  At this point, I knew what it was that I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  What I didn’t know was the power that had tapped into me.

It was January of 1993. I had been groomed to attend what was called a Discipleship Training School.  To most Christians, the title of the school seems harmless enough and looking back on most of my training, it was really an amazing school.  We learned about diplomacy, public speaking, travel, working and living communally. We learned about humility and patience…it was a very hippy-esque school but I liked it and this lifestyle liked me too.

Here’s the rub.  See, in all of this, we were getting ingrained to learn a school of thought about chain of command. I had already gotten a good grasp of this while living at home but here at the school, I was one of the younger and newest recruits.  I had MANY people to answer to and many voices to obey.

Head down...don't ask questions.

Head down…don’t ask questions.

It’s so weird to type this out.  My memories of this time in my life carry a desperation and it’s hard to know that I was so easily paralyzed.

We lived a very strict life.  We couldn’t do much without the consent of our leaders. We couldn’t go home to visit family, we couldn’t choose the jobs we wanted, we couldn’t date, we really couldn’t do much of anything…unless we had the approval of our leadership. To this day, it’s still hard for me to see that this WASN’T ok.

I was considered one of the “rebellious” ones. Not so much because I rebelled but because I followed questionable orders with a grimace on my face.  Trust me, I get protocol.  I get the need for a chain of command.  However, I didn’t understand why I needed to be told what to wear, how to wear my hair, who I could date, what I could do with my leisure time, who I could and couldn’t be friends with, when or if I could leave the base to visit my family…and on and on and on.

We weren’t a military base.  We were a Christian organization of missionaries and our leadership had overstepped it’s boundaries from leading to controlling and I had been brainwashed.

I had been brainwashed.  I had been brainwashed.  I had been brainwashed.

Here’s the deal.  Before I left for missionary school, I had been treated for homosexuality.  That’s right, I was gay and had been put through a gay to straight program.  I was told that in order to fulfill my “life calling” I could never act on my homosexual tendencies and in order to learn to be straight, I had to listen to and do everything I was told or I WOULD FAIL.  I would fail at life, fail my family, fail my God, fail at being a leader, fail at being strong.  So… I did what I was told.  I obeyed.

After living in this cult type atmosphere I started to test the waters. I had climbed the ranks in the organization, so to speak, and decided to act on an attraction I had towards another girl in the organization. After a few weeks, our relationship was exposed to the leadership and after 2 years of blindly following their every dictation, including a humiliating “outing” to the entire organization, we were sent home packing.

Photo Credit: Yannick Bouchard

Buried Alive…what it feels like to be paralyzed by fear and control.

Have you ever witnessed someone experiencing drug withdrawals or someone grieving?  Writhing in pain, unable to think, unable to breathe, unable to sleep, unable to bear being alive.  This is what it was like for me.  Everything that I had built my life around and for was taken away.  And it was easy for them to do so.  I thought at this moment that I had forever ended the life I was meant to live.  I was back to square one.

The very thing that I had strived to leave behind…the very thing I had desired to escape became me, once again. I was an outcast.

And still I longed for the escape. I longed to travel and to help people and I longed for the only way that I had learned to do so.

After being relieved of my position, I agreed to complete another gay to straight program in fear that I would never fulfill the purpose God had for my life.  And really, when you’re in that situation, your only thought is do what you’re told or give up living all together.

So…I did it again. I obeyed.

It’s been over 20 years since that journey began.  And since then, I have battled the resentment, the failures, the damage, the brokeness.  Sadly, it wasn’t until today that I realized how much of my life has been affected by what happened during that time in my life.  I still struggle with confidence and standing up for myself.  How do I recover when the desire to be strong backfires? How do you trust yourself to have the ability to make good decisions?  How do you trust yourself to trust the right people?

I have recently stepped back into my career of public speaking. It has been nearly 10 years since I stood in front of a crowd and shared my heart.  I was all but banished from the arena of public speaking in the way that I have always known it. But today, I refuse to count myself out.  I refuse to give up my dreams.  I refuse to be told that I am broken.  I refuse to believe that I have nothing to offer.  My story may not line up with yours. You may not give two cents about anyone who is gay or their journey.  You may have never been so low in your life that you allowed someone from the outside to paralyze you.  I don’t know. But what I do know is that there is someone out there who needs to hear that someone else knows what they are going through.

I will be your someone else.

I have decided that I will be vulnerable by my own volition. I will share my heart again and I will help people again.

I speak on these very topics of Shame, Guilt, Vulnerability, Poverty, and Overcoming Gay Reparative Therapy.  If you have an event that would benefit from these talks or an event that would welcome these discussions, please contact me at Angel Adams Media Services.  And please share this with others…My heart is that no one be paralyzed by someone else’s doing.  We are supposed to be free. We are supposed to be different.  We are supposed to be strong.

You are welcome to follow Angel on this journey.

You are welcome to follow Angel on this journey.

Be strong, my friends.

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Why I ♥ Oklahoma?

Originally posted on Billy Sauerland Photography:

Sometime ago I was asked, what is there to like about Oklahoma? Well there are a lot of things, but more importantly I don’t just like Oklahoma, I love Oklahoma. Now that’s not to say there aren’t a few things, well maybe more than a few, that I wouldn’t change. But its my home, where I was born and raised, and I can say that. We do have a few things to learn here at home, a few things to change and improve on. But I still love it here, now it was almost 100* today, and well I’m a fat man and it’s not very good to people of the larger variety in the summer, but that’s on me. Anyways, I caught a couple of images of Oklahoma that say why I love it here. They are simple, however I think they say a lot.

If you click on the…

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My name is Angel…not Anger.

Rage and Anger

Today, I am struggling with anger.  Something with which my Mom has said I have always struggled.  I am angry that in true Adams fashion, we have swept so many things under the rug that I may never know why I’ve been angry for so long.  Sure, I can pin point certain instances and situations that foster anger but what happened when I was so very young can only be speculated.

Today, I am angry at my job.  I am grateful that I even have one but after working there for 13 years, it is on it’s last leg and we’ve been in talks of closing down for good.  I’m angry about watching my team work diligently to keep things alive and feeling like they will never be compensated for their loyalty and effort.  I’m angry about the stress that it has dropped on our COO, my brother in law.  I am angry about the stress it has dropped on my spouse.  I’m angry.

I’m angry for being so scatterbrained.  I’m angry for trusting the wrong people.  I’m angry for having to be patient.

I’m angry because my songs still sit on paper. I’m angry because I am not confident to do things myself. I’m angry because I have to rely on people.

Relationships, family, home, petty petty things…

I am angry.

I Play Sudoku.

I have tried typing my name a few times today…just working on different projects…and each time I accidentally typed Anger instead of Angel.

I figured that I needed to get some of the infection out so…I write.

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ANGEL’S HALL OF FAME: My ever growing list of kindness.

Here it is…the announcement of the day.  Hold on to your butts…it’s a doozey.

I’m not perfect.

There it is…in all its glory.  Announcement #2?  I don’t know how to spell “doozey” but…well…hopefully, you get what I’m trying to say.

I have been reminded everyday how blessed I am despite my awkward existence.  Last week I was reading posts about one of my unwitting music mentors, Amy Grant, releasing a new album next month (“How Mercy Looks From Here” will be available May 14).  This of course, reminded me about the time my sweet friend, Eric worked diligently with my friend Lionel to arrange a meeting with Amy.  A meeting that was so surreal and meaningful to me that even today, I can not be reminded of it without having to wipe a “happy” tear from my eye.  I am so grateful for the thought and work it took to make that moment happen.  I thought about Amy and her music.  Her strength…that pulled me out of dark and sad times during my childhood.  I know that I’ve said this before but to see a woman so young writing and commanding a stage…it changed my life.  It changed my direction.

straight aheadI will be ever in debt to my friend Angela Calhoun for introducing me to “Angels Watching Over Me” and the Straight Ahead album. :)

This led me on a two week course of gratefulness and reflection.  Something that I have spent hours a day on as of late.  The more I got to thinking about how blessed I am, the more faces I could see.  People who have impacted me in such great ways.  People who pushed me to be better and raised the bar of compassion, intellect, thoughtfulness, and encouragement, the list is infinite.

From arranging lifetime meetings, buying cribs, car seats and stollers, replacing stolen Christmas money so I could buy my daughter’s first Christmas gifts, hugs and laughs, unexpected letters of encouragement, kicks in the ass that I really need, a surprise coffee, smiles galore at just the right time, a look in the eye that says, “you can do it”, a job, Facebook messages that say, “you’re better than that.”, teachers who make leaving my daughter every day just a little bit easier, French lessons just because, to cleaning my backyard because it looks like a ghetto zoo exhibit <<<yes, that’s true, and did I mention laughs?  Your random and not so random acts of kindness and genuine love for me and my family have built a better human being.  Not quite a bionic Jaime Sommers but SUPER close.

And do you know what I love about these people?  If any of them were to read this, they would ask themselves how they got on this list.  These are the humans that act out of goodness.  They show selflessness and without a thought of what anyone else may think,  they just do because they can.

hall of fame

Heather Threadgill, Sam Snavely, Vicki Peters, Steve and Lori Nance, Michelle Davis, Eric Himan and Ryan Nichols, Erika Hardin and Natalee Pendergraft, Julie Nikel, Lionel Vargas, Stephanie and Joe Christiansen, Cheryl Lawson, Michael and Catherine Ray, Barb Hauxwell, Joel and Kelly Russell, Stacy Acord, CC Lawhon, Kristi Perryman, Virginie Gill Dejour, Staci Walkup, Michael Shoopman, Travis Jackson, Howard Stump, Jessica Butchko, Billy Sauerland, Steven Nix, Kimi Hann and Chris Lieberman, Miranda and Phil Kaiser, Missy Wilson, Chrystal Kelly, Betsy Chase, Courtney and Casey Nichols, Michael and Amanda Mitchell, Janice Sawatsky Sahr, John and Jane Ray, Rebecca Smith, Deke Coop, Stephanie Schrepel, Caleb Taylor, and Jennifer Jako.

To my Hall of Fame:  You have been rocks to lean on and hands to pull me up.  You have been a crutch, a counselor, a clock, a mirror, a party, an icepack, a rope, a map, a compass, a hope, and my teacher.  I have been changed forever (for the good) for knowing you.

Thank you all for your compassion, kindness, and grace. You give me courage and I will never be able to adequately thank you…but it’s a start.


		
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MY terrifying reality of “in-laws”.

in-law (n)

n. A relative by marriage.

I was sharing a funny story today about the video below with a friend of mine and some of the details were about a drive from my house to my in-laws house…which is a pretty good distance.

Now, I know that when I say “in-law”, we all get different pictures in our heads and we’ve all had quite a bit different experiences as well.  There are jokes galore.

A lot of us have heard the term, “Monster-In-Law” and most of us have seen the movie Meet the Parents.  We get that there’s been some less than stellar relationships out there.

 

Mother--In-Laws
So…my story.
I actually have amazing in-laws.  I’ll admit that it was a bit rocky at first.  Their eldest daughter comes out of the closet and reveals that she is gay AND is in a relationship with yours truly.  We had our moments as everyone was evolving to this revelation and the true reality of who my partner is…
It’s 6 years later and I look forward to the times that I get to spend with them.  They treat me as one of their own and I am humbled and blessed to call them my family.
As I was thinking about all of this and in light of the 2 cases that the Supreme Court of the United States, I came to a terrifying reality.
Not my in-law?!?

THEY ARE NOT MY IN-LAWS.

My partner and I are not married.  I’ve called them my in-laws for years now…it’s what everyone understands…it’s our social indicator, our culture.  When referring to our spouse’s/partner’s/husband’s/wife’s family, they are our in-laws.  These are the words we use but by the very definition they do not represent my relationship with my partner’s family.  This was a sad moment for me.  I want to be able to call them my “in-laws” and what its very definition means – a relative by marriage.
With all of this rolling around in my head, it all became clear to me.  Marriage Equality isn’t about religion, pro-creation, science, politics, or even love.  We don’t say, mother-in-religion, father-in-science, sister-in-love. We say IN-LAW.  Marriage is about protection.  Protection under and by the law.  That’s what I want.  That’s what I want for me, my partner, my daughter, my sisters, my brother, my parents…and my in-laws.
It’s not just about me and my partner…this is about my family.
The Love part?  Well…it’s a bonus.  A great and wonderful bonus.
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Oscar’s statue of frozen vulnerability.

SO…I’m sitting here at midnight on a Tuesday evening watching the Oscars on Hulu Plus.  Congratulations to Hulu for creating such urgency for me to sit here and watch the awards show in it’s entirety simply because you said “only one day left for viewing”.

Well, here I am blubbering and smiling for all the winners.  I do this because for me, all awards shows bring such inspiration.  I love these shows.  Even the ones with terrible hosts, technical difficulties, and… when my favorites don’t win.

I’ve been beaming for Adele.  It’s not because I think that her song Skyfall is the best song ever written.  Nor is it because I think that she is the greatest singer.  Although, I can say without a doubt that I really appreciate the gift of her voice.  She is remarkable.  What I saw tonight was a young woman who stepped out and took a chance to follow what her heart was leading her to do.

I gotta say…I, at different times tonight, went from elated to super pissy.  I was so inspired to write and sing and compose that I got all excited and anxious.  And then…it started to spiral.

I’m just going to throw this out there. I’m really frustrated that I haven’t put any music out in a record or single or even freaking cassette tape.  I’m frustrated that I feel like I’m waiting. And waiting. And waiting.  I’m frustrated that I see so many of my musician friends recording all the time.  HOW DO THEY DO THAT?  How are they able to get the people together to learn the music, to go to the studio, to do their part.  How come I can’t seem to pull my shit together enough to make this thing happen.  For crying out loud, I don’t want to be a superstar.  I just want to write songs and let other people sing them and become superstars.  I’m angry.

Then it hit me.

People might crap all over what I have stressed over and poured over and cried over and shared from my guts.  And then I tried crawling back in my shell.  What the hell.  I realize that this is just a stream of thought but follow me.

It’s not about people not liking my music, my voice, or my songs.  I already know that not everyone is going to like my stuff.  Every time I try to write or sing, I hear the voice of a childhood friend tell me that I “shouldn’t quit my day job”.  I know that even some my closest friends aren’t going to like it.  It’s just the way things are and I’m really okay with that.IMG_7202

It’s about where these things come from….my life, my experiences, my emotion.  Raw and  visceral.  By sharing any part of yourself, whether it be acting, music, writing, painting, blogging, you name it …when you choose to share this part of you, you lift a veil.  You lift a veil that so perfectly encompasses your ugly, dark, beautiful, and bright self.  You are no longer protected by what shields you.  This scares the shit out of me.  And I mean this in every sense of the phrase.

Vulnerability.  Being vulnerable.  What a tragically horrifying and beautiful thing.

So, Mr. Oscar, you are a statue of sweat, tears, triumph and vulnerability and if I ever get to place my hands on you, may it be because you have frozen my very self into your being.

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“You Killed Your Sister”.

This is what I was told after the accident that left my little sister burned on over 50% of her 22 month old body.

It was 1977 and I was a sassy almost four year old with a curiously sweet and shy little baby sister.  We were living in a place that has survived only as pieces in my mind’s eye.  I don’t remember much of my childhood at all.  I don’t remember much of anything unless it’s a story that’s been told over and over again OR if it was something that was documented in a photograph…but this, I have held onto this memory for 35 years.

Sisters

The two of us before the accident.

The accident happened when Jammie and I were in a kitchen and trying desperately to find a way to some chocolate donuts on top of a counter. In the midst of our endeavor, a crockpot was knocked off the counter top.  The contents poured down the left side of my sister’s head and face, down her left arm, and completely covered her back. I have no recollection of this catastrophic event. All I know of this moment is what I was told. Little Jammie was whisked away and taken to Hillcrest Burn Unit. She wasn’t expected to live and what happened to her from that point, we only know from medical records. I am certain that the quick response of our mother is what saved her life. Sometimes we think, that in moments like these, we’ll remember all of our training, all of our senses, all of our “know how” and for some, it’s true. Regardless of what choices were made in that moment, I will never know how my mom was able to do what she did. Through shock and panic, she saved Jammie that day.

I don’t know what happened to me in the moments after the accident. I don’t remember anything but the feeling of suffocation.  All I do know is that after absorbing the words, “you killed your sister”, my mind shut off.  They tell me that I quit talking and walking.  My mom, who never left the hospital (except for when the orderlies dragged her out so she could “get some rest”) didn’t know what was going on with me until my aunt told her. Once again, it was my mom that came to the rescue. She took me to a therapist who, at that point said that the only way I would recover is if I knew, beyond a shadow of doubt, that Jammie was in fact, alive.  The ONLY memory I have of any of this tragedy is the moment that I saw Jammie’s face. They brought her frail little body to the doors of the burn unit. It was a typical hospital double door with the long and thin rectangular windows. I remember seeing her face through one of those windows and at that moment, a nurse opened the door so that her tiny hand could pass through the opening.  They let me touch her.  It’s been 35 years and I still can’t recall that instant without tears.

Adults do weird things in times of panic and mayhem. Placing the blame and guilt on my shoulders was one of those things. I need to say that my parents never made me feel guilty or made me feel the blame of the accident. They never uttered the words used to title this post, but when someone did utter those words, it changed my life forever. I walked through our school years hearing the taunts and watching bullies pick on Jammie because of her scars…I also beat the crap out of some of  them. I carried the shame and guilt of this accident for a very long time. Now that we’re adults, it’s so weird to look back on that time…on all of it. She’s such a strong woman. I am learning to be.

Here we are during the 2012 World Burn Congress.

It wasn’t until Jammie and I attended the World Burn Congress, presented by the Phoenix Society of Burn Survivors that I was able to shake free from an accident that was never my fault. Our time there was very emotional…we were forced to take a look at a very hard time of our lives…parts that had holes, stories with pieces missing. She and I were able to put the together some shattered, broken parts of ourselves. I learned that Jammie had moved past the accident way before I ever thought possible. She taught me that I am a survivor too. That it was ok that I survived. She also reminded me that we were just babies and that neither of us could possibly be held accountable for the accident. I was able to take a look at 4 year old Angel that still hid deep down inside and tell her that everything will be ok. That everything IS ok. That it was an accident. A terrible accident.

So…a chunk of my life that I carry, but that I no longer have to carry so harshly.

I don’t know why I share this story now…maybe it’s because my own little one is coming upon the age that Jammie was when all of this happened. Even now, it’s kind of hard to look at my daughter and see how little she is, knowing that Jammie had to brave such a travesty with that same tiny frame.

I am so proud of Jammie. I am proud of the woman she has become. She is a brilliant writer, a fascinating mother, a cherished part of my heart.

For more information on Phoenix Society of Burn Survivors click here: www.phoenix-society.org.  To discover the unbelievable talent that is my sister, click here: jammiekern.com

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Sure, I’ll jump off this cliff…and hope I make it.

Yes.

Allow me to define it for you.

yes – adv. : It is so; as you say or ask. Used to express affirmation, agreement, positive confirmation, or consent.

1. An affirmative or consenting reply. 2. An affirmative vote or voter. tr.v. yessed, yes·sing, yes·es  To give an affirmative reply to. interj. Used to express great satisfaction, approval, or happiness.


Here’s my thought:  I’ve been knocking around the idea of new ventures for years now but I’ve become quite complacent with my job and content with the security that comes with it.  Back in the day, I thought that I was a super hero of sorts and because of that, took on adventure after adventure without ever having blinked an eye.  I thrived on adrenaline and the “sport” of travel.  Before I was 25, I had discovered 13 countries for myself and lapped up every cultural morsel the world had to offer.

Here I am at 19, traveling on a train somewhere between Minsk, Belarus and Moscow, Russia…some 5600 miles or so from home.

After returning to America, I took on my first dream job and worked as a minister for 4 years (I know, I know…I was a Rev. and some of you are giggling).  After realizing that I didn’t fit into the ministry culture, I resigned that position to work at my next dream job…graphic designer.  Here’s the dealio, I’ve been doing graphic art for 12 years and moved into an Art Director position 8 years ago.  I freaking love it.  In the midst of doing this graphic design stuff, I became a member of an indie rock band called Eric and the Adams. That was four years of adventure, travel and creativity all wrapped into one.  Crazy town.

The last 6 years of my life, I have become happily engaged, bought a home, was the drummer in a rock band, had a child, raised money (not because I’m amazing but because my friends are) for a solo album, worked on tour with a phenomenal musician – learning the hard work of a stage hand, and now….

Well.  Now what?

The message of what I’m trying to convey is that all these humbling opportunities came to me and I had to make a decision.  What do I say?

“Angel, would you like to travel all over the world?”

“Angel,  would you like to come work for me as a graphic artist?”

“Angel, would you like to be the drummer in my new band?”

“Angel, will you record your music?”

“Angel, will you marry me?”

YES!  I said, “Yes.”
Things have been a little strapped because of the way the economy has fallen and I have found myself scrambling to make ends meet.  With that and the very real fact that I mentioned earlier that I just don’t fit the culture of where I am. I realize more everyday that I don’t fit into the traditional role that a patriarchal socially structured environment would want me.  I need to redirect my path.

I have been looking for a way to open doors for myself so that I can step into a new phase of life.

Not too long ago, I was given an opportunity to take a class at a community college here in Tulsa.  It was a radio class.  The class was paid for…all I would have to do is enroll and show up.  If any of you have known me for long, you know that I really enjoy entertaining (when I was younger, I would practice my award speeches out in the yard – I’ve accepted countless Emmys, Tonys, Oscars, and Grammys).  Here’s the sad part…I got wrapped up with too many things that don’t matter, instead of focusing on the stuff that will get me on track.  I didn’t say, “Yes”.  This class would have gotten me on track.  It was my next step and I missed it.  Have you ever done that before…a few weeks later you wish you could go back in time and slap yourself out of your slumber?  Things change for me when I say yes.  No more missed opportunities…

SO, I’m in full preparation of a new chapter…a new “dream job”.  I’ll work diligently at my 9-5er until I can fully step out on my own but let me tell you this…it is not without fear, anxiety, adrenaline, and hope.

photo credit: Stuart Anthony

My partner and I have a running joke from a familiar cliché.

The cliché?  “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it”.  Our variation?  “We’ll jump off that bridge when we come to it.”

I’m lucky to have a partner who supports my ever growing need to push the boundary, break the glass ceiling, smash socioeconomic class, and jar the mindset of poverty.  I’ll happily jump off this cliff.  I’ve jumped off of so many and it has taken me to places I’ve never dreamed.  My way of opening doors for myself is to say, “Yes”.

SO, I say yes to the things ahead.

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