This time last year, my husband (M.) had a good job. We were making good money - nothing extravagant, but enough to not just scrape by, enough to actually provide some small comforts to our family, to be able to give to others. We had medical insurance. The co-pays were off the wall, but we had it. This time last year, I could go to the grocery store and buy the things that were good for me, for us, without wondering if we would have enough to make it through the month. This time last year, I could buy my son a new pair of shoes when he grew out of the old ones, without worrying how. This time last year I could go on a date with my M., or take my kids to the movies, or the zoo, or fill a prescription at the pharmacy. This time last year, I could buy lunch for someone who couldn't buy lunch for themselves, or buy groceries for a family in need. This time last year, (or a few months earlier) I could organize a drive with a dear friend for the survivors of the Moore Tornadoes and get them the items they needed. This time last year.
I know I've said this before, but I can't help but come back to it; it all can change so quickly.
I started an update over 2 weeks ago. I wrote. I tried to make sense of it. I wrote some more, and tried to make sense of that too. I've spent the better part of the past month in bed. I've been sick. I have had too many bad days; days where it's all I can do just to make it to the next one and hope that it will be better. My family, they are okay, they are doing well. They are healthy and making it through. It's not easy, but they are so damn brave. I am so proud of them. I should also be proud of myself. I am not a separate entity, we are surviving this together, somehow pushing through, so eternally grateful for the miraculous love and support of each other and a truly amazing community. But, I worry about the burden I am, and then I can't even begin to know what to write next. How do I come to terms with that? It's a constant thing.
So time keeps ticking, and I know my in-boxes are full. I know my phone is off and people are worried. I know. But when it takes so much out of you to just make it to the next step, to keep moving; when you are in a perpetual state of overwhelmed, even something so seemingly simple, is so not. And we have experienced this stormy season for so long now, I don't even know what to do or how to do it; what to say or how to say it. I do the thing where I stay silent until I can't any longer, until we are on the brink of falling, and then I have to say something, not because it's me, not because I need help (even though I do), but because it's my family, because my family needs help, because these three humans mean more to me than anything in this life or the next, because my children are my hearts beating outside of my body, because I have to say something for them. It's not noble, or brave, or courageous, it is a mother's deep and wild desperation.
The first thing I want to say about where we're at, is this: Thank you. Thank you to those of you who have really and truly stepped up and helped us not fall through the cracks in so many important and neccesary ways. You have saved us, time and time again these past months. And that is no exaggeration Words won't ever be enough or do any kind of justice to the huge and magnificent gratitude we feel daily. I am thankful every single moment.
The second thing I want to offer is this: transparency. We DO have a plan. We are not wandering around in the dark without direction. We DO know where we are going. We are just having a really hard time getting there right now. And we really need to get there. The top two reasons we chose Texas (back in May when our backs were up against yet another wall) is the cost of living and so M. could go back to school. He is currently attending a top notch aviation academy and has eighteen months left. When he graduates, he will be licensed to work on planes in every state in the country and overseas, among other things. The job openings in this career field are plentiful. Completing his education means a new life for us. It means opportunity. It means stability. It means good health benefits.
And I explain all this, not because I feel I owe anyone an explanation about our life's plan, but because as a recipient of some extraordinary measures of generosity from this community, that have literally (yes, literally) saved us and kept us afloat, I feel that the least I can do is talk to you a little bit about what it is we are doing, and are trying to accomplish, so you can truly know and understand that none of this, none of the love or support or monetary assistance, is in vain, or taken for granted, in any shape or form. Those of you who have shown up, have done so in such effortless love and ease, have been so beautifully kind and reassuring, and have never ever made me feel like I had to give you any explanation at all, but that's all the more reason I need and want to. It is important to me, that you understand that, and so transparency, is no issue for me. Transparency is the least I can offer, a way of saying, here, these amazing and wonderful things you are doing are truly helping a family survive and make it one step closer to a better life.
So the plan is a good plan. But, we're still in rough waters. M. got a part time job, but the job does not pay a living wage; however, the job does work with his school schedule so he can attend his classes. These are the ups and the downs. Still, something really has to give. Because of the current state of my health, I cannot work outside of the home, and this is a challenge that hurts all of us. Back home in Northern California, I had spent years cultivating a creative and professional network/community where band gigs and teaching workshops could supplement our income. Here in Texas, not only do I not have that, but I also am much more burdened by said health issues. I can go out and do occasional things if I have access, but the majority of what work I do, needs to be at home, in an environment where I can control the pace of things. I have done plenty of editing work for others, for all kinds of various projects. I also write bios. My vocal services are still available as well, whether for voicework, or lessons, in person locally, or via skype.
Furthermore, we have indeed applied for every kind of assistance that we are eligible for. I am still waiting to be approved for medicaid, among other things. There is an issue with public assistance, in that, in order to receive it, a person must be employed or actively seeking (conventional) employment by spending a certain amount of hours at a local employment office, and if they are not, they must have a medical exemption from a doctor. My health issues would exempt me, and have in the past when I have previously applied for state medical coverage, but I cannot acquire any such exemption until I actually have medicaid and can see a doctor. I have not seen a regular doctor since February of this year.
My body is not in a good place. I am scared to say it, but not saying it, doesn't make it any less true. I am in so much pain and so tired all the time. I don't know if this particular flare is related to the traveling I did, or just because, but whatever it is, it is presenting in a lot of new and disturbing ways, in addition to the familiar. I do not like to dwell on any of this, but, it is a thing that is just as real as the love and gratitude I feel. And I have to be able to talk about this too. I have spent the past few weeks fussing at M. about trying to get legal paperwork in order in case something should happen to me, or God forbid us. I fear my children being left unmothered. It is the biggest reason I fight so hard.
I don't really know what else to say, after all of that. this is the umpteenth time I've tried to write an update, and it never gets finished because somewhere in the process of writing, I run out of steam, and I just don't know how to conclude everything. So, forgive me if this ends abruptly, but, if I don't post again for fear of this update being incomplete, then you may never hear from me. These are not ideal circumstances, but I'm still grateful about a lot. I am grateful to have wifi in order to update at all. I am grateful to have safe and insulated housing. I am grateful to have food. I am grateful my children are clothed. I am grateful for love. I am grateful for the people who have stepped in and provided a net of the most unexpected and beautiful hands that have pressed against us in the most loving and necessary ways during these hard and terrifying times.
So yes, please continue to send better job leads our way. Please continue to send work-from-home leads our way. Please continue to circulate my market page link and support by purchasing my music and poetry, or donating, if you can. Please continue to send your love and care in the form of love notes and such. Please continue to send suggestions that you feel would be sincerely helpful. I am here. I am listening. I am receiving. I am so appreciative. WE are so damn appreciative. And despite everything, despite all that has been thrown at us, tried to derail us, slow us down, get in our way, we are still here. We are still living. We are still making a way where it seems there is none. And I hold on tight to the belief that something truly better is out there for us, and it IS coming to fruition.
P.S. Yes, our phone service is still off, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. We do have an emergency number that is attached to a small prepaid phone, but we are not giving the number out, as it really is strictly for emergencies (for the kids schools to contact us/trying to get this medicaid stuff worked out), and I cannot afford to have the minutes used up on anything but. Please understand that, this is a choice of necessity. Those who have iphones can still contact me via imessage and/or facetime because as I said, I do have wifi. Other than that, regular email continues to be the best and most efficient way of contacting me. If your message is urgent, please label it so. I have a certain number of spoons in a day, and so I am slow to correspond at times, but if I know it is time sensitive, I will respond accordingly. Also, I can do skype dates when I'm feeling up to it.
Also, last, but certainly not even close to least, to my friends, my loves: You bright beautiful beings. Know I am always here for you. No matter what. None of this changes that.
Until next time,
EDIT: I have been approached more than once by more than one friend about the idea of putting together a second fundraiser via a crowdsourcing site (the first was put together in January/February of this year by two dear friends, and while it did not meet its goal, was incredibly helpful), but I haven't been able to process this possibility for a number of reasons, my current physical, mental, and emotional state not being the least of them. Perhaps more on this and everything else at a later time. I need to rest now. Love, SMS
Below is an excerpt from a letter I sent out today. It was anxiety inducing, scary, and also necessary. I hope you will read and receive it gently. Love.
Living with chronic illness is difficult. stumbling on financial hardship is difficult. Experiencing both simultaneously is a thing that can drive even the most optimistic of us to stumble far too close to the edge of hopelessness. The past six months to a year have really tested those boundaries for us, have really pushed and pulled and threatened to send us over that proverbial edge, and without this amazing lighthouse of a community, we may very well have toppled over, because Lord knows, there have been days where I personally, felt like I could not hold on any longer. That is when, not just the money has made a huge difference, but the resounding voices of love that have come forward in so many forms to encourage me and to send us all their incredible love. For this - for all of this - I thank you over and over.
Now, I want to be frank with everyone, because my plan was to write with a thank you, and with an update to let you know how we are doing, and I have been hesitant to do so, because what I would really like to be able to write, more than anything, is that everything has finally settled into a breathable scenario, that this past few months was a hard fast blip and we are putting everything back together again, but the truth is, it's not that simple, and I feel urged deep down inside, to not be silent about it, but to share and be open.
Truth: We are putting things back together again. But, have been a constant state of urgency. My Lupus flares have been worse and worse, and I have not seen a doctor since February. I have prescription refills waiting at the pharmacy that I haven't been able to pick up - over the counter vitamins and anti-inflammatory meds that I am supposed to take daily and can't even access because we simply don't have the money. I have applied for insurance where we are now and am waiting for an interview where hopefully I will be approved and be able to see a Lupus specialist nearby. Because of my illness, I am not able to work outside the home.
My husband's (M.'s) job search continues, tirelessly. Our bills are behind and we are nearing a point where things are once again, in danger of being shut off. and we are once again, pondering whether we have anything of value left to pawn. And to make matters more terrifying, yesterday, we received notice that M.'s unemployment benefits have stopped, and Oklahoma has a strict law that one can only receive unemployment for 26 weeks, no extensions.
We are currently in Dallas, Texas, where we relocated in the middle of May, and where M. will be attending an aviation academy at the end of this month. Why Dallas? Because they had an academy similar to the one in California, but the cost of living here is far less expensive; something he discovered when he had to fly out here in April to attend his mother's funeral, on top of everything else.
We do have an apartment and M. has been job searching right away, from day one, filling out applications relentlessly. This month he's already been to four interviews, including the one he is at, as we speak, and yet nothing has come through so far (hoping with all my heart this changes immediately). He has been applying for any and everything, many jobs he is vastly overqualified for and therefore is passed over just the same as if he were under-qualified instead.
Through all of this, our kids remain so amazingly strong and resilient. We would be foolish to think all of this uproot and transition has no affect on them, we know quite well that it does, but we are thankful that we have been able to be there, together as a family, through all of it. I believe it's the only thing that has gotten us this far in one whole piece, even if a little bumped and bruised. But I do worry about them; of course I do.
Yesterday, I had a breakdown moment, they come and go, but this one was particularly bad. The thing is, it is so difficult to tell people you are having a hard time. it is so difficult to continuously feel like you are someone that people in your life have to show up for, that you are a burden. It is difficult to be in a state of seemingly constant crisis; to be sick and have limitations; to be doing everything that you absolutely possibly can, or at least is within you knowledge base, to fight and survive and live and rise above, and to still be sucked under. It is difficult to fight so hard to keep your head above water, and to feel like an inconvenience for talking about it, for getting other people wet. It is enough to make someone question their worth and value and place here. It has absolutely made me question mine, and I don't really have reservations about sharing that; it's the truth. Life isn't always pretty. I feel like we get so caught up in it needing to be triumphant, when some times, some moments, some days, it's just plain ugly, and we are fortunate to make it to another day. And yes, there is beauty in that.
So friends, loved ones, and those I may not know but who have touched me immensely, this is where we are. It has been suggested to me, more than once, by more than one person, to let another fundraiser be put together, but I would rather not go that route. The idea of it causes me a great deal of anxiety and heaviness that I cannot imagine how to contain. But, what I have to get past, is my fear of asking for help at all, in any shape or form, and there are some ways that you can assist my family, if you are at all able.
1) If you know anyone in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and can connect us with viable networking for job leads or anything else that could be helpful in Michael's search for employment. He has extensive experience in the communications field, ran marketing and advertising for a record label for many years, is a licensed life insurance agent, and even did private personal training sessions, at one point, among other things.
2) If you or anyone you know may be needing editing services and would like to use me for said services - I provide editing on all sorts of projects, as well as bio writing services, and many other things in this realm - just ask. I have over a decade of experience doing this kind of work and it is work I can do from home.
3) If you or anyone you know may be needing vocal services for any of your projects, I also do paid vocal work, whether that means singing on a project you have, or providing lessons.
4) Love and well wishes from time to time, if you have them to spare. I tend to isolate when things are rough, and things have been rough for some time, and I have isolated like a champ. I have admittedly not been as good a friend as I know I have been in the past, because I simply don't have the energy at the end of the day when all I am doing is trying to survive, and being in survival mode is hard. I know I have received them from many of you and I appreciate it, so basically I'm saying, it matter, it really does.
5) Last, but certainly not least. everything in me wants to have shame surrounding this request, but yesterday, I cried so hard that I didn't want to be here anymore, because of said shame, because of such deep feelings of worthlessness, feelings I wouldn't wish on anyone, so I have to ask for this with love and respect, not just for you all, but for myself. Here it is: Love and well wishes and help with any of the above means the world and is truly significant, but right now, we do need monetary help - we do have to earn a living. Because M.'s unemployment so abruptly ended, we are once again in a scary place. I have a phone interview with medicaid next week that I won't be able to participate in if my phone is shut off. Job searching thus also becomes more difficult once utilities start getting shut down. We need food on the table, not to mention, we simply cannot afford to lose another home.
What we need is to be able to make it until M. finds some employment to fully support us. I have merchandise on my website for sale. Several items are brand new. You can purchase some music or poetry from me, or you can simply make a donation via the donations page or you can do both. Either way, every single dollar that we have right now makes a difference; every single one. So I am asking you to please consider purchasing merchandise or making a donation to help us during this time.
And as for me, I will keep you posted down the road on how things are progressing. I will do my utmost to make every single moment count. I will pay every single kindness and goodness forward. My whole family will. That is something I can promise you.
With more love than I can ever find words to conjure, with more gratitude than can ever fit inside this heart of mine, humbly, and with great thanks,
Sarah Myles Spencer and family
EDIT 7/10: To everyone who has thus far shared my site, my familiy's needs, and put the word out to their own personal networks to help us find the resources that can assist us in our time of trial; to those who have purchased merchandise from me and/or donated to quite literally aid us in surviving; to those who have messaged me in one form or another to lend some of the most beautiful love, assurance, and encouragement during what feels like such an unrelenting period of tribulation: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I cannot even know where to begin expressing my gratitude. The need is still real so if you can continue circulating all of the above, I would really really appreciate it. Also, If you have a paypal account and it is convenient for you, you can skip the donate button below and donate directly to us through paypal by using my email address firstname.lastname@example.org and no fees will be taken out on our end. Please know though, no matter how you do it, it not only counts, not only helps, but makes a huge difference in our lives. So much gratititude. Another aside, for those seeking editing or vocal services, or if you may have job contact info for M. please use the contact form to send me an email or just email me directly at the above stated email address. Forgive me on my slow correspondence, I'm physically drained and emotional to boot, but I'm here. I'm staying.
Love beyond words, and very tearfully, Sarah
Although I haven't blogged about it here until now, many of you know through other forms of social networking, that times have recently been very tough for my family and I. In November of 2013, we unexpectedly lost our sole income, sending us into a tailspin once we had depleted our savings. Soon after, I experienced a severe autoimmune flare that turned into pneumonia and put me in the hospital three times in the course of a month. With bills piling up, my continued medical issues, and no relief in site, in March of 2014, my family wound up losing our home and having to relocate 1800 miles to stay with a friend, and in May, relocating once again, 1600 miles to a new place, hoping for a fresh start.
At the beginning of this year, my wonderful friends put together a fundraiser for us that raised a few thousand dollars, and it was a huge help in getting us through my illness, our transitory time, and ultimately relocating us to our new home.
I am grateful; we are clothed, sheltered, fed, and loved; however, as much as we have worked to stretch what we have had, we are still barely making it, and as we seek to permanently replace the income we lost, and put more of our plan for a better life in action, bills are still past due and we are unable to obtain many important essentials. On top of that, because of our perpetual transitioning over the past few months, my medical care has been sparse. I am still having severe flares and am unable to see a doctor until we have insurance again. Unfortunately, this leaves me in a precarious position health wise.
In the midst of all this, though, something happened. Earlier this month, I was invited to a women's writing retreat in upstate New York, that I have wanted to attend for the past three years. Initially, I assumed this would be the third year in a row I would have to decline the invitation, but on a whim, I sent in a scholarship application with a sample of my work, and waited. One week later, to my surprise, I was awarded a partial scholarship. At first, my excitement was in-containable, but that quickly changed to panic and grief. How could I possibly afford to go to a writing retreat with my family still barely making ends meet and my health so delicate? I was poised to send a letter with my regrets to the woman who curates the retreat every year. But then something really magical happened, I allowed myself hope for just a moment, allowed myself the belief that maybe, just maybe, the universe was offering me something good, that maybe this was part of the better that is coming mine and my family's way. Well, within twenty four hours of allowing myself that hope, I was gifted a plane ticket. And after some initial hesitation, poking and prodding from those closest to me, I accepted.
That's where you come in, friends. Our current income is completely based on a couple of small unemployment disbursements every month. To make matters even more nerve wracking, we just found out those disbursements will stop within a few weeks. This money is a fixed amount and has not always covered all of our essentials to begin with, so this means we have had to choose what gets paid and what doesn't. This also means there is no additional money in our current budget for my trip. Now, I still need to pay the fee remainder from what my scholarship doesn't cover, I need certain items during my trip to ensure I can take care of my body to the best of my ability, and I really need for my family to be okay while I am gone - like just basic essentials such as making sure lights stay on, food is in the fridge for the kids, and gas is in the car for my husband's job searching and when he starts school at the end of July.
Going on this trip is something I only ever imagined could happen, even just a few short days ago, but now it's a part of my reality. I will get to go and be among fifty of some of the most brilliant, talented, empowering women identified writers in my community, to grow and learn with and from them. And, on top of it all, this trip also affords me the ability to see what little family I have left, that I haven't seen in a decade, since before my father died. And while I am there, I will get to finally fulfill a longtime wish, to take some of his and my mother's ashes, and scatter them across my grandparent's grave.
This weekend, I am releasing several new projects that I've put a lot of blood, sweat, tears, love, and time into - I cannot tell you how difficult it was to get all of this completed, fatigue is real, and I am feeling pretty grateful that I have been able to hang through. All my merchandise will be on a sliding scale. There will also be a donation option for those of you who would like to contribute more than the allotted amounts OR those who maybe cannot afford the merchandise but would like to donate anyway (if this is you, please let me know, I would still like to give you something in return). Also, keep in mind that I am charged a fee for merchandise purchases, but all donations are free of fees.
In closing, I want to say thank you. I want to tell you how grateful I am that I can put myself out there, no matter how scary it is, and feel like I have people who are in my corner waiting to catch me. I want to say thank you for how this community has held my family and I during one of the hardest times in our lives. I know times are tight for a lot of people and I appreciate you putting your support, not just into my art, but into my actual real survival. Thank you for supporting independent artists; thank you for supporting me and my family. Our gratitude is deeper than words can express. You can always be assured that whenever moments arise that I am able to pay it forward I absolute will and do.
-Such massive love, Sarah
EDIT 7/8: Unemployment ended unexpectedly yesterday. We now have zero income coming in and are in danger of having certain utilities shut off. All funds from purchases and donations will go directly to bills, food, medicine, and other costs of living. The travel costs of the Pink Door Retreat were already covered prior to this change in circumstances due to a gifted plane ticket and payment arrangements made for additional fees to be paid at a later date. Again, all purchases and/or donations will go towards our family's survival. Please help. Thank you. -Sarah
Well, I haven't updated here in quite some time and things are getting a little covered in cobwebs around these parts (and elsewhere), but we will chat about that some other time soon. In the mean time, it is National Poetry Month. Many of you know that I, along with many others, sometimes participate in the NaPoWriMo 30/30 Challenge in April = 30 poems in 30 days. Lots of amazing people I know will be doing this. Others will be doing variations - submitting 30 poems in 30 days, sharing a poem they love by someone else every day for 30 days, some sharing prompts, videos, writing advice, or even just committing to reading more poems. The point is, this month is bound to be a wealth of amazing poetry in some way or another. Whether you consider yourself a poet or not, I encourage you to get involved in some way.
As for me personally, I don't know if I will be posting directly here or on another blog or tmblr, but I am definitely going to give it a shot and I will link here either way. I've participated in NaPoWriMo about four times I think, and I've finished 30 poems half those times, but the thing is, no matter if I hit 30 or not, participating in this writing challenge has brought me to some of my best most cathartic work, it has grown me and connected me to myself in a deeper way every time, and, it has connected me to other writers and new poems and so much awesome. I value the experience of it so much for all these reason, no matter the numbers. Also, I just may be submitting some work this month as well. I haven't done that in a long time, and I think it's time to get loose from my own grip and meet some good things that are out there waiting for me. I'm looking forward to the journey, whatever it may be. I'm learning as I go. It would be great if you would join me. Happy National Poetry Month! Love.
In the aftermath of the Moore Tornado, I did a sweet and short interview for a project called The Sound Atlas. I will include more info soon, but I wanted to post the link here real quick as I really haven't shared it. So much love and blessings, Sarah
(In July of 2012, my family and I began a new adventure. We moved 1800 miles from our beloved Northern California to the gorgeous deep red plains of Oklahoma. We live in the city of Norman, a mere five minute drive from where the May 20th, 2013 tornado hit Moore.)
I first want to say thank you, again and again and again and again, to everyone who has called, texted, emailed, contacted me via facebook, twitter, or any other possible method to see that my family and I were alright, to send love, to send prayer, to send hugs and help hold emotional space with me. I cannot tell you with words, how deeply important that is for me, in more ways than I can measure.
Secondly, I want to thank everyone who has donated thus far to the tornado relief efforts on the ground. Many of us local and in the area, have been working with grassroots relief efforts to get the people what they need, and I have been overwhelmed by the support in this.
It's really difficult for me to write this. I've been avoiding it all week -- partially because I've been too busy with everything else to actually sit down and focus, but mostly because I just didn't want to think about it.
I know that might sound strange. I mean, how can I be involved and not actually think about it? But trust me, it can be done. You just keep moving, move move move, do do do, act and don't think at all. It's a weird place to be for someone who lives so much inside her brain.
My life has been in a high volume cycle the past couple of months; lots of scary events and family/personal crisis, lots of transition, lots of unknown territory with no handbook per usual. It has frequently felt like a storm, and I am always caught in the eye of it.
So, when an actual physical event like Monday's occurs, when that storm is no longer metaphorical and it is all funnel cloud and debris, all grey sky and chaos at the schools where you are trying to pick up your children, all traffic jam and nearly being run off the road, all humid get in the cellar madness -- when that happens -- I'm not really sure I know at all what goes on inside my head; inside anyone's. You just act. You just move. You just do. You get to safety. You survive. You pray. And when it passes, just barely missing you, you pray some more. And when you hear of the devastation just a few miles away, when you learn of the leveled town, the children who did not escape, were not picked up from school, are not going home with their families, have no families, have no homes, you cry and cry and cry and hug your babies and then you try and figure out what you can do to help everyone else. At least, that's what happened for me.
There was maybe a 24 hour period (if that) of breathing before I absolutely had to get moving; couldn't just sit stagnant -- because of my autoimmune condition, there are times I don't have the energy for things I desperately want to be able to do; I take advantage of the bursts when they come. Moments are precious.
The first thing I did was make some changes on my website and let everyone know that the monies from everything purchased and donated there would benefit the tornado survivors. I got with local leaders in my community and asked what was needed and moved to do my best to be a part of the solution to help fill those needs. I reached out to my national and international communities for help. I opened my heart as much as I possibly could, which is quite a bit, if you know how already open it is on a regular basis.
And the universe does amazing things when you open your heart.
In this case, it brought a wonderful woman, named Kat Sanford, and I together as partners in this mission. And you can read about what we have been doing here and here. This woman, I do not know what I'd do if she hadn't messaged me at just the right time. I tell you, I do not believe in coincidence or accidental happenings. It's all so full of synchronicity if you open your eyes.
My eyes are open.
We still need your help, loves. Because in a few weeks, when so many have forgotten about what has happened here, when it is not a regular part of the daily news feed, or right in front of everyone's faces. When you cannot take a drive right into Moore or surrounding areas like I can (and have) and see the devastation first hand, when the larger organizations cannot handle all the weight (which is something that is already happening), the people who need our help will still be here and they will fall through the cracks if we do not help them; if we do not help ourselves.
Every single day there are hundreds of causes, millions of people all over the country and the world that need us to pull together. You have to give and put in effort where your heart leads you. What I am asking, is if it leads you here and you are able, to please consider giving to our efforts so we can continue to help little by little to contribute to the bigger picture. We are all so mighty when we come together.
Practically speaking, the biggest items I am being told are needed right now, are gas cards and visa gift cards. People need fuel and they need to be able to pick out some necessities for themselves. And let me tell you why that's so important:
A couple of years ago, I was in a situation where my family and I had to start all over again, where I was dependent on this exact sort of aid from community to help us get on our feet, and I cannot fully express with words the kind of thing it means to your dignity and self worth as a person, to simply be able to go to a store and pick out the things you need on your own, verses being told what those things are for you. So give what you CAN, of course -- if it's in the form of items and goods you already have, contact Kat or I for a mailing/shipping address, if it's cash, again - mail a check or paypal me here, and if you have gas cards, gift cards, or are able to acquire some, please send those right along.
Your generosity is not taken for granted and I promise you, everything you send, I receive and take straight to a drop off site where it is immediately delivered to people who need it most.
I also want to make sure you have as many ways to donate directly to the people as possible. Local Oklahoma City poet and activist, Lauren Zuniga, is accepting donations on behalf of tornado relief, the same as I am. She will deliver those funds and items to the people as well if you choose to donate through her site. If you'd like to check out her info, click here.
We are grateful. Our hearts are enormous; we are spilling over with love and hope and the true core and beauty of the human spirit in the midst of all this tragedy and debris. Today, I am honored to be an honorary "Oklahomie." Today, I am simply thankful to be.
Edit 10/2/13: This is a long overdue thank you to everyone who purchased my music and poetry and/or made donations during the after math of the Moore tornadoes. All monies and items were donated to relief funds or used directly to assist survivors. If you donated and would like to see pictures of goods and/or receipts, please send me an email via my contact page and I will gladly send those to you. Gratitude is a word too small to express the overwhelming feeling. Massive love, Sarah
Yesterday would have been my father's 73rd birthday. (For those who don't know, he died in November of 2010.) In August of that year, we had a benefit concert in his honor. The house was packed with people who loved him. There was music, laughter, tears, and it was the last time my father spoke in public. I finally got up the courage to start downloading the music from that concert, little by little. Here is a rendition of Stormy Monday Blues that myself, my band, and several wonderful guest musicians jammed live at the show. Kind of right on time, yeah? Peace, love, and blessings. -Sarah
I am reflecting on the gift of someone choosing you as their guide, whether through life, or death. As a mother and a caregiver, I have experienced both. To be chosen for either, is an incredibly humbling thing. I have a profound and sometimes seemingly inexplicable gratitude for this. On the flip side, I am missing my papa especially hard today and am filled with such deep sorrow over both he and my mother's physical absence. Miraculous how your heart can swell with love and ache all at once. Then again, to love and to ache, really aren't such different things at all.
I don't think people really want me to tell them I'm sad; that I wake up thinking about you every morning, carry the weight of your absence all day long until it pushes me stumbling and screaming back to my bed.
I think they want me to tell them that memories are a sufficient replacement for your presence; that because you were good, I can smile -- everything will be alright, life will once again be normal, a void this big can be mended eventually.
But that's not true. And I'm tired of trying. I'm tired of all the supposed tos and shouldn'ts. And a memory isn't fucking good enough.
I know how blessed I am to have had you. I know how much worse some people have it. That doesn't change anything. Every time I miss you it's the most I've ever missed you. Every time I break down, a quiet wail in the dark, I fear it will always be this way. I fear I cannot keep this charade going. I fear that every day I move forward is one more day I am further away from you; the body of you, the you I knew what it was like to laugh with and talk with and hug and hold.
Your death is not something I can ever be on the other side of again.
I am different now. And you are somewhere I cannot hold you. And all I want is to hold you. And you can't wrap your arms around a memory.
No matter how optimistic you may be.
I think I'm just gonna cry. And be okay with that. It isn't fair - life isn't fair - this isn't new, it's just never been proper to say it.
Hello grief, hello mourning. Come sit with me and I will embrace you as a friend. It's the sanest thing I can do.
Today would have been my mother's sixty fifth birthday. She died nearly ten years ago, just a couple of weeks after turning fifty five.
I remember her being tickled because at fifty five she was eligible at some places for a senior discount, even though now, it amazes me even more than it did ten years ago, just how young fifty five really is. I still have the movie stub with her writing on the back from the theater outing where she received her first senior discount; that's just the kind of thing she did.
Ten years ago at this time I was twenty one years old and pregnant with my second child; my son. I was living in Alaska. I had no phone and minimal internet access. I remember emailing and calling whenever I could. I remember we were reconciling after some disagreement that seemed worth fighting over at the time but not ever since. She was anxious about the impending birth of her grandchild; so was I.
I spoke to her for the last time on a Friday. She was gone two days later on Sunday... four days before my son was born. I could not travel to either of her memorial services in California or New York.
It didn't feel real.
It barely feels real now.
I wonder of the kind of relationship I could and would have had with her if I could have just "kept her" even a little longer. I wasn't ready for my dad to die a year ago but at least I got to be with him more... and the "at least" is truly a lot, no matter how sad and ripped off I feel at times.
I know so much more now... enough to know how little that really is. I feel so much more now... enough to appreciate how big. I love my mom. She was not perfect, because none of us are, and I wouldn't have asked for anyone else in her place. She was my mom.
Happy Birthday, Feliz Cumpleanous, I remember you always, Lillian Garcia Myles.
your daughter Sarah