Another year, another birthday… and it happens to be a “milestone year” chronologically that I don’t want to think about because; I believe I actually think 30 years younger! (And perhaps my good genes give me a tad younger countenance than most people.) Anyway…last year was the “Crayola Box of Colors,” the year before that was the “Pioneer Woman of the Wild West” and the year before that “Simplicity spells happiness in gift giving.” So…do I want to change it up to demonstrate to readers that I have “grown?” I have, so there’s no need to make up profound stuff for the sake of “It’s your birthday.” No pressure, I have no one to please, but myself. That, in fact, is a tall order because I always have had very high expectations of myself, perhaps as a way to compensate for my physical disability (which has nothing to do with my talents and abilities, which took my brain a LONG time to learn!)
My Loves, My Passions, My Frustrations and What’s/Who’s truly important in this life:
I still love the writing… and someday when my time, my money, timing, and talent of friends allows, there will be a book (in progress). For now, I am expanding my horizons with delving into other audiences besides the usual social media! What I have learned- whether it is on a sticky note, a word document or a classy compilation with fine editing, the written words are the most important thing, as well as the endless combinations and ability to write about what others do not! Perhaps that is a gift – the road less travelled …
Under that category, falls my innovation, my unique, customized Victim Impact Writing Service which offers a crime victim, who is vulnerable, and traumatized an opportunity to take some of the burden off of their shoulders, to try to walk in their shoes “better than the average bear”, knowing the system from several points of view, my ability to relate to people no matter what walk of life from years of professional practice in many endeavors, and to translate their feelings and life forced upon them into “new normalcy” with dignity and balance ….to remove the focus on the perpetrator, hopefully to achieve the maximum sentence or continued incarceration. And…. the good news is that officials in California may consider incorporating this service into their victim compensation funding in some manner! How cool is that?
The Radio, The Radio, The Radio:
It all began with an offer from Susan Murphy–Milano and Delilah Jones… nearly three years ago with an offer about which I was terrified, but felt I could not refuse! What? ‘A live radio show, weekly, for an hour with no commercials and a “blank canvas?” Are you kidding me? No! The concept, conceived on a cruise ship with PI, Denny Griffin, and then we were off and sailing!
This venture has been a tremendous vehicle to accomplish much in terms of zeroing in on the aftermath of crime (again, which no one else focuses on), creating an awareness and educating others to issues not discussed, providing another avenue for writing blogs with embedded podcasts and… most of all making people connections which are long-lasting!
Over time, radio listening habits have changed in the industry which is a real mystery to PR professionals and all radio hosts ….but we at Shattered Lives Radio have consistently kept up the quality. ‘The downside- the human element in having to chase the bookings to get confirmations etc. However, the “brass ring” is that when we do decide to retire this venture, all of the shows are archived for repeated listening, presenting an impressive historical timeline of human events and a wonderful aftermath of crime library.
A New Home for the Future-
Unless you have a chronic disability affected by changes in weather, this will seem like Greek to you! However, as a person with spastic cerebral palsy, my body, which I frequently push to the limits, feels as stiff as a board in cold temperatures, compromising my mobility and my usual vast amounts of energy. I knew it would come to this…a major life decision to move to a warm climate. My search began about six years ago…and although I thought my heart was set on the location and friends in San Diego, it was not to be for a few reasons. Rather, I built my network and friends and colleague to the Carolinas and another major cultural shift….. Back and forth back and forth for several years. I have no one “to assist or grow old with,” so my choices are my own, for good or for bad. However with living minimally, carefully and careful planning, I have found a location in Myrtle Beach that offers comfort and serenity…and the potential for further income. So… take the risk and do it! It has been very stressful dealing with the differences between the States of Connecticut and South Carolina. However, I am always up for the challenges in order to pave the way for retirement in the future. I will never be a “lounger”, but will enjoy more of life’s offerings beyond the treadmill of work in the future, I promise!
My Frustrations –
I could be lavish in my expectations and say I want “xyz legislation” or changes in policies, programming, or homicide survivors, the missing, victims of intimate partner violence, human trafficking and on and on… to be accomplished by next year at this time because that is my goal. BUT, the biggest lesson of all for advocates to learn is that they (we) cannot save the world no matter how hard they (we) try. Instead, it is a matter of degree!
The pursuit for justice and equality for all will always be illusive. We cannot stop crime, or grief, or bring the deceased back to life. We can, in our own way, do what we can to assist others and be satisfied. It is vital to know your limits and stick to them. As I age, I have learned much from others combined with my own trials. The following truisms may sound cliché, but they are good barometers just the same. (Keep in mind that I am not the model for all of these truisms….still a work in progress.) Being a survivor of crime sometimes brings emotion and lack of objectivity Having friends who can provide the extra objectivity when needed is invaluable. No one knows it all… no matter how many degrees you hold or experiences you have. With each passing year, and over 30 years of survivorship, I think, “I’ve seen it all.” But truly, I am always learning and that is the best reward in life!
Try to always be part of a solution versus “flaming the fire of the problem”; Always scale your expectations of others – people, systems, events, for you never know what has occurred before… and keep in mind always that your drive to achieve, your priorities and timelines often don’t match others. It’s truly a miracle that anything gets accomplished in the world of criminal justice! Setting realistic goals and seeking to respectfully collaborate with others, making them shine, (sometimes at your own expense), will often make things happen quicker.
Know when to push, know when to pull others in, know when to set your boundaries, know when to introduce your “out of the box” idea, know when to be a catalyst, not necessarily in the middle of the change. Give others credit always! Be positive …and if you can’t be positive, be hopeful that things will turn around. It is a delicate balance between giving crime victims the information that they need in small doses and yet shield them from the realities they may face in the uncertain world of the judicial process. Perseverance is my middle name. But, patience is a virtue that I rarely have. It is a necessity in life. I don’t mind others reminding me of this. I say, “slow and steady” may win the race…but not always! I would much rather humanize and sensitize the process versus re-create the wheel.
Caring, Burnout and Compassion Fatigue:
I have been there in my professional life – This is a “pitfall” into which all of us can fall if we don’t take care. If you feel numb or de-sensitized to an issue you used to care so much about, you have not suddenly grown into a meanie – you have evolved. There is ALWAYS something that ignites your fire. You just have to identify it, switch gears and use your energy for that endeavor! I have done this many times!
Finally, What is Prosperity?
Although I have never been a materialistic or a person of wealth, over the past several years I have seen the stark poverty of Imperial Valley California, and many who struggle in other states – including Connecticut, defined as one of the wealthiest states in the country, and the Carolinas. What do they have in common? For many, they are happy despite their lack of means for they live within their means and try to create a life that is satisfying to them. They re-define what a good life is beyond material goods. I have learned much for they are just as giving as this writer, always there to volunteer and help others. They are good people at their core. I choose to surround myself by a variety of good people, making new friends, those I can learn from, be intellectually stimulated by, and have an appreciation for new things that I have not yet discovered, while paying it forward in my own ways! That is my personal goal for the coming year! Turning a milestone year may not be so bad after all!
Ladyjustice …another year older…another year with more curiosity, hopeful for good change wherever we can find it!