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a journal by for about women

My relationships When a wife’s memories drift away

My Health ditch the workout join the zumba party

My inspiration No more Riding in the dark

My BLOG bangladesh and fair trade My bookshelf baking cakes in kigali

Mia Magazine, Spring 2010





“I’m back in the swing.” At the age of 62, Bob Mayo had heart surgery for the second time. • He had been feeling so poorly, he did not think he would survive. • But Bob more than survived. • After surgery he was enrolled in a research program through the Heart Failure CARE Center at Oklahoma Heart Institute.

Within the first few weeks he was feeling better than he had in years.

The difference is our doctors.

His heart function has improved and he’s

now able to take his wife dancing. • According to Bob, he’s back in the swing of things.


Find the right physician at HealthMatch,Mia585-8000. Magazine, Spring 2010

• 1120 South Utica,11th Tulsa tel. no. 918.585.8000 &Oklahoma Utica, Tulsa, •Oklahoma •

spring2010 Mia Magazine A journal by, for, and about women

Three years ago I met a young woman named Rena in a drab psychiatric hospital tucked far into the interior of Azerbaijan in Central Asia. This remote hospital was home to about 50 women, most of whom had no psychiatric problems when they entered the hospital. They had been placed there for a variety of reasons, usually by family members, and almost always because they were considered a liability. It was an unfortunate cultural reality that a woman could be viewed as dispensable and unnecessary. I had gone there to take photos, gather material for writing, and assist a humanitarian group who worked to improve living conditions for the women in the hospital. Rena followed me and begged me to take photos of her, fluffing her hair and straightening her baggy sweater whenever I looked her way. She was well-groomed and wide-eyed, unlike some of the other women in the ward. One humanitarian worker said she was overly extroverted, a bit obsessive about cleaning, and fond of music. I immediately liked her. She was not content to let the oppressive circumstances and bleak environment defeat her. Her resilience gave her energy. As I have spent more time with these women on return trips, I have been amazed at their determination to emerge as individuals despite the world in which they live. They express their individuality in a variety of ways, including the telling of stories. Some share easily and

Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

would talk for hours. Others prefer to listen to our stories before theirs begin to emerge. As we share our very different lives, it becomes apparent that we have much in common. We care about our families and our children. We want to create beauty, and we find ways to do this through art, music, handwork, writing, cooking and other outlets. We thrive on relationships and are made stronger through giving and receiving love. We carry on, even in the darkest of times and places, because often we find an inner reserve that we didn’t know existed. The women in this month’s issue of Mia are equally inspiring. As I have read each story, I am once again struck by the resilience of those who refuse to let their circumstances defeat them. Many of the women whose stories you will read have had steep, high mountains to climb, but in various ways they have found the strength to scale the heights. Others have refused to be just a face in the crowd, but have found ways to express their individuality through creative living. They are not content to simply exist, but instead they are living life to the fullest and blessing others along the way. I’m dedicating this issue of Mia magazine to Rena and all the women who find a way to make life beautiful even when it hands them trouble and challenges. You’ll find a few of these women inside the pages of this magazine, so read on and prepare to make a few new friends. Lisa Tresch, Editor

Publisher The Leslie Group, LLC Managing Editor Jan Weinheimer Editor Lisa Tresch Graphic Design Lina Holmes Finance and Website Juli Armour Contributing Editors Sheilah Bright, Linda Watanabe McFerrin Writers Natasha Ball, Annika Buxman, Doris Degner-Foster, Tammie Dooley, Lesley Gudgel, Jessica Inman, Mary Pittman, Virginia Reedy, Monica Roberts, Linda Rubin, Chelsea Self Advertising Michelle Presley Photography LSD Photography Lisa Dunham, Sophia Litchfield Mia is published quarterly by The Leslie Group, LLC P.O. Box 35665, Tulsa, OK 74153 (918) 978-5567 Mia accepts full-length (1,000-1,200 words) manuscript submissions and queries. For writers guidelines, visit our website at Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited. Copyright © 2010 The Leslie Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Mia Magazine P.O. Box 35665 Tulsa, Oklahoma 74153-0665

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Mia magazine had the privilege of featuring a story about Mitchell Cupps and his mom, Michelle, in our inaugural issue, June 2009. Born with Schimke Immunosseous Dysplasia, his tiny body was home to a huge heart and because of him, the dream for The Little Giants Foundation became a reality.

I got the Mia magazine on Thursday. I thought I would just read one article, but couldn’t stop. I read it from cover to cover and enjoyed every story so much. Sheila, Denver, CO I can’t wait to tell friends and clients about Mia! I know many will enjoy reading this warm, wonderful magazine. Thank you, founders, for producing this magazine that touches many lives. Charlotte, Tulsa, OK Thank you, thank you. I’m going to subscribe. I love your beautiful magazine!!!!!! Victoria, Tulsa, OK

Mitchell died January 19, 2010 at the age of 5 and is now free from pain, needle sticks, headaches, hospital stays and trauma. We at Mia celebrate his life and invite you to learn more about The Little Giants Foundation by visiting

I really loved the Mia magazine and my mom really enjoyed it too. I was at a doctor’s appointment on Monday and the doc was 45 minutes late so I read the entire issue. I was so glad it was in the lobby – I grabbed it right away! Sara, Tulsa, OK Can’t wait to learn more about your magazine. Sounds like something I’ve been looking for. Congratulations and much success! Ann, Polson, MT

Even as a 92-year-old male, I still enjoy Mia. Since reading Juli Armour’s article, “The Giada Affair,” I added Bobby’s Banana Bread to my Christmas baking. Thank you for the inspiration. Dave, Tulsa, OK Congratulations for Mia magazine. I really enjoyed reading the articles and am looking forward to your next issue! Best wishes for a very bright future Doris, Flower Mound, TX I had never thought about house-swapping until I read Joy Zedler’s article in the winter issue of Mia. I was glad to know that my hometown could be a vacation destination. Michelle, Tulsa, OK Warmth, depth, humor, brains. What more can one ask? Georgia, Tulsa, OK My suggestion to all you women is to leave Mia out where your husband can sneak a read. He will learn some things that will make your life richer. John, Tulsa, OK

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spring 2010 Contents 6 8

Myhometown Small town Oklahoma

















Mia Mia Magazine, Magazine, Spring Spring 2010 2010


Climbing back into the saddle

True love endures

“Honey, I need a solo road trip.” Lusting after dinners not eaten Photographer: Chelsea Self “I am Tsa-La-Gi.”

Freed from sexual abuse

Annika Buxman, Bangladesh and Fair Trade


Seeing women through the tough times.


“Baking Cakes in Kigali“ by Caile Parkin







Zumba: “I’m hooked.”

Relaxing standards

Meet our story tellers.


Myinspiration by Doris Degner-Foster

RIDING THROUGH THE DARK On a hot August day, I bought a young bay gelding. As an avid fox hunter, I knew the race track wasn’t the best place to shop, since racehorses have limited training, but perhaps his name had something to do with my choice. It was ‘On the Up and Up’, which made him sound like an honest fellow, and I called him Uppie. My decision to purchase this racehorse was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. Even after training him to jump well enough to compete in horse shows and ride with the local fox hunt club, I didn’t know how much my horse would help me until after that tragic Memorial Day weekend. The day started out as a normal, busy Saturday. Since fox hunting season was over, the morning was free and I had taken my two girls to run errands while my husband went flying. He learned to fly at the age of 16 and had recently been certified as a glider pilot. The weather was perfect for gliding and he left that morning excited about flying. Later that afternoon, we’d just hurried home from the grocery store when the doorbell rang. I was putting away groceries so I let my girls check to see who was at the door. Nine-year-old Laura ran back into the kitchen with her wide eyed four-year-old sister Marissa and said in alarm, “Mom! It’s a bunch of policemen!” It crossed my mind that police officers might have seen me make that incomplete stop at the stop sign in the neighborhood on my way home, but it turned out they were here on other business. After verifying my identity,


one of the officers stiffly said, as though reciting a rehearsed speech: “This afternoon at approximately 1:30, your husband was piloting an aircraft that crashed. He did not survive.” The ground dropped out from under me. I wanted to curl up into a ball and never face the world again, but I didn’t have that option. I had two small daughters and no other family in town. The situation demanded I react properly and immediately. So literally and figuratively, I got up off the floor where I’d collapsed and did the things I needed to do: arrange the funeral, get counseling for my children, and handle a small mountain of business. Somehow, I managed to get myself through the days. I didn’t have time to scream and cry and when I did, I had to cut it short to deal with my children or problems that came up. My two girls were my reason for getting up in the mornings. It was hard for me to see them suffering too, but I was glad they were progressing with the counseling I had arranged. My saving grace turned out to be the bay gelding I’d bought at the race track that August day. Uppie had turned into a smart, well-trained horse who knew me well. Realizing that I was the only parent my children had on this earth was very daunting, and I decided that taking unnecessary risks was not something I should do. I would no longer ride with the fox hunt when the season started again that fall. Continued on page 33 See MY INSPIRATION

Mia Mia Magazine, Magazine, Spring Spring 2010 2010

Mia Magazine, Spring 2010


SandSprings MyHometown by Sheilah Bright

I am sitting in a leather chair that is cracked by time as I write from a back room of the Sand Springs Museum. An art deco wonder, it was dedicated in 1929 by Lucille Page in honor of her husband, our town founder, Charles Page. I have been here so many times that it feels like I am visiting a dear friend – one who knew me as a child when I roamed the book shelves during its years as our town’s only library, and later when I was a newspaper editor researching the past. Today, it cradles our history and tells the story of a community built on a foundation of benevolence by a man who promised his mother that if his fortune ever came, he would take care of the widows and children. Oil made Charles Page a millionaire; generosity made him a legend. In the next room, Mr. and Mrs. Bailey and Mr. Fisher are reminiscing about 1950s Main Street. I can hear affection and a hint of sadness in their voices as they recall the people and places of long ago. “Remember the time...” “Do you recall...” “I remember when...” I remember, too. In March of 1961, I was born to a young couple who had moved to Sand Springs to start a new life together. I lost my first tooth over at 200 W. 40th Place, got my first kiss at 4201 S. Walnut Creek Drive, fell in love with my high school sweetheart in the parking lot at 500 N. Adams Road and married him at


4401 S. 129th W. Ave. I raised three boys here and will likely live the rest of my days in my hometown among the people and places as familiar to me as my skin. I can’t imagine living any other way. I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world. Although I love exploring other lands, I cherish the moment when I finally emerge from my jet lag and drive by our lovely museum and our town triangle where a bronze statue of Charles Page stands sentry. It is a constant reminder that we are community born of kindness. “Think right,” the town founder said. “Think right.” Sometimes people ask me what it is like to live in my hometown. It’s difficult to capture the sensory experience and emotional comfort of it. You know the feeling that you get when you are tired and cold and you sink into a hot bath or someone warms up a blanket for you in the dryer? Do you taste childhood

Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

again as you savor a favorite dessert at a family reunion? Remember how hearing the melody of an ice cream truck made your heart sing? In the belly of the museum there are copies of newspapers with my bylines and photographs from the homecoming parade when I rode on a float as kindergarten queen. It was the only time in my life that I was ever queen of anything. The scratchy, secondhand dress that I wore was cut down from a “formal” worn by a local teenager years before and refashioned into a magical gown of silver blue lace and layers of white petticoats. It was purchased at Marie’s Bargain Store, still operating down on Main Street. Some years back, Marie stopped by my garage sale and bought some items, which I am almost certain that my mother purchased from her store back in the 1970s and were likely bought from a local yard sale, perhaps from Mr. Adams before that. This is what it is like to live in your hometown. Errands take me twice as long as they should because I automatically drive my car like I rode my bicycle. The bicycle route takes me by the tiny twobedroom home where I grew up and down by the school where I went to fourth grade. When I was a newspaper reporter, I experienced aromatherapy every time that I walked into one of our schools. Limestone Elementary smells like yeast rolls. Pratt Elementary smells like glue. The junior high smells like a gym. Charles Page High School, well, it smells like floor wax mixed with an afternote of french fries. I met my best friend in first grade, and we still talk on the phone nearly every day. At the grocery store, I seldom make it past the produce aisle before someone asks about my mother or my children. Before winter arrives, my childhood neighbor, now in his 80s, calls to see if he can pick up

Spring 2010 Spring 2010 Mia Magazine, Mia Magazine,

pecans on our farm or sell me some wood to keep away the chill. The daughter of my kindergarten teacher once dropped off a bag of irises that she had dug from her deceased mother’s home when the house was being sold. She left them for me on the porch along with a nursery rhyme song book from the 1960s. This is what it is like to live in your hometown. As I leave the museum, one of the volunteers asks about my travels and discusses my photography exhibit that will be showcased in the museum next April. I walk into the room and close my eyes, thinking how ironic it is that this lovely old building introduced me to the world outside my community through books. And now, I am going to get to pay her back by sharing the world with my community through my photographs. Sand Springs isn’t my security blanket because I’m scared to leave. It is my security blanket because it warms my soul with memories and a “be kind to others” goodness that defines home for me. Two years ago my youngest son returned from one of his mowing jobs and asked, “Does Grandma eat ”mustard only” on her hamburgers?” “What?” I asked. “Oh, I mowed this guy’s yard today and when he heard who I was, he said he remembered that Grandma always asked for “mustard only” on her burger.” Nearly 40 years later, he still remembered. This is what it is like to live, really live, in your hometown. Mia



My Parents' Love Story Alzheimer’s disease is a condition in which brain cells die gradually over time, making it difficult for the brain’s signals to be transmitted properly. There is no cure. Fifteen years ago, there were 2.3 million Alzheimer’s victims in the United States. Today, there are 5.3 million. Every day, 547 people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. On one of those days, my mother became a part of that statistic. Growing up, I remember my mother in starched dresses and high heels with jet-black hair and crimson lipstick. I would pick wild flowers and offer them to her as she stood by the kitchen sink. “Oh, my,” she would say smiling. I wanted to be as elegant as my mother. My mother is now 92 years old and she and my father still live in their home, accepting only occasional help from my brother and his wife who live nearby. I visited my parents Christmas before last. My mother greeted me with her elegant smile, though I noticed she had abandoned the lipstick. I sat down beside her and she folded her soft fingers around my hand. She gazed at me for a long time and I could see she was struggling. She remembered me, but something was missing. Decades before, she had been a seamstress, making wedding dresses and men’s suits that looked as though they had come off the rack. She sewed clothes for me while I was away at school and she never used a pattern. She could crochet, do needlework, stain furniture, cook, and decorate wedding cakes. Now, many decades later, she sat silently beside me. I watched her flip through magazines and put them down, only to pick them up and flip through them again because she did not remember she had just seen them. She didn’t speak much. She looked lost, pretending to know what the family was discussing, but by the time she formulated her thoughts, the conversation had moved on. She lowered her head and smacked it. “I just can’t remember.” I asked, “What’s it like, mom…to forget?” Her eyes filled with tearful confusion. “I know I forget. That’s the thing. I remember that I forget. It’s awful.” She tapped her head again. “I hate this.” Her shoulders sank. “I’m scared.” I promised to call every week and then returned to my life 800 miles away. The following May, I went back for a visit after my father’s fifth heart attack left him requiring a quadruple by-pass. Instead of worrying about himself, he worried about her. They married 56 years ago and still hold


hands every day. While my father recovered, I stayed with my mother and learned her life. She could not remember to wear her glasses or how to cook or when to eat. She did not remember to take her pills or take a shower. She did, however, remember my father. “Where’s Dad?” she asked. “Dad had a heart attack, but he’s OK.” “Did I do that to him?” I answered, “No. He misses you. I will take you to see him tomorrow.” She paused and then asked, “Where’s Dad?” We repeated the previous conversation eight times every two minutes. Finally, I wrote my answers on a card and when she asked, I told her to read her card. She laughed and said, “Oh, silly me, I just can’t remember.” Then she took my hand and brushed it gently on her cheek, over and over. My father required three weeks of rehabilitation in a nursing home and because my mother could not care for herself, we admitted her as well. They had separate rooms, so we posted large signs with their names and pictures outside the rooms so she could find him. And she always found him. She sat beside his bed all day, periodically leaning over to kiss him. She had not forgotten that she loved him. We made her a card explaining where she was and why. We made her picture cards of her children and grandchildren with their names and birth dates. She reviewed them often, whispering dates and studying photos. We attached a pocket apron to her walker so she would not lose her cards. I left again, but promised to call every day. By my next visit in July, my father’s recovery was progressing slowly and his impatience grew into depression. We convinced him to take a daily walk in the sunshine while my brother cooked their meals and my sister-in-law cleaned. The strain on my father was overwhelming, but he insisted he and my mother stay together under his care. We tried to help. My mother no longer remembered that she forgot. Her recent memories left her as quickly as they arrived and her early memories were hazy, except for my father. Her eyes sparkled as though she were seeing for the first time the handsome young man with whom she had fallen in love. The stress of pretending she could remember when being told what to do made her irritable. So, instead of telling her it was time to take a shower, we asked her if she would like to take a shower. If she refused,

Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

we waited fifteen minutes and asked again until she agreed. After a week, I returned home. Even though my father constantly offered, she often declined water. One morning, he could not wake her. She had become dehydrated. After brief hospitalization and an IV for fluids, she recovered. We bought a water cooler for their coffee table with a “Drink Me!” sign to remind her to drink more water. It worked. Soon after, my mother began forgetting to use the bathroom. She approached wearing “Depends” somewhat unemotionally, but my father was devastated. He remembered life before Alzheimer’s. As the disease progressed, I received a call from my father. “Mom doesn’t know where she is. She doesn’t know who I am. She keeps asking me to get Dad. But I am Dad.”

Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

My heart sank. I reminded him that she did not intentionally forget or hurt his feelings. However, the agony remained in his voice. He had devoted his life to loving her. She was his reason for recovering from his heart attack. She gave him purpose. And then, without a moment’s notice, she had left him. She did not recognize him. My father’s voice quivered, so I kept him on the line until help arrived. I wondered if she would have to move to a nursing home and I wondered how my father would react. The next morning, my father sat at the edge of their bed. He gently stroked my mother’s arm and whispered, “It’s time to get up.” Disoriented, she refused. He Continued on page 34 See My Relationships


Mytravels by Tammie Dooley

The Walker Rebel Yell For four generations the maternal side of my family has been held captive by wanderlust, and, until recently, not one of the Walker women has had the pieces of her life fall together so that she was able to do anything about it. Children and husbands, crops and cattle, and putting food on the table have taken precedence. Other than seeing the world as a gypsy (my mother was close), exploration has not been possible. That’s not to say the women before me didn’t travel. My great-grandmother came to Oklahoma from Missouri in a covered wagon. And my grandmother came and went to California for work during the depression. My mother was even born in California. You say that doesn’t constitute travel? They would all have bitterly and resentfully agreed.


Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

As much as the women in my family tried to embrace and be satisfied by the comfortable stride of habit’s familiarity, they all failed. They were robust, independent, bright, witty women, roamers in spirit, wanderers at heart and rebellious dreamers. Their lives paid a high price for that lust. A multitude of husbands, divorces, and general mayhem followed on their heels like dust devils of the Oklahoma dirt they toiled. The men associated with my lineage were either inappropriate choices from the start, or unable to withstand the onslaught of what turned out to be a tornado disguised as a beguiling female. I’ve listened to the stories my mother tells about the Walker women and winced at the bad judgment in men, the lives laced with ramshackle poverty, and the gall displayed in escaping situations they seemed to repeatedly fall into. One theme courses throughout: they emerged with their heads held high, children by their side, and not a dime to their names. Among these women, few material goods have been passed down. I came from poor stock, but even as a child it nagged at me, and for years I felt slighted by the lack of objects woven with familial history; the absence of land spun with stories of acquisition. As a teenager, the Walker women’s restlessness raged within me. I dreamed of travel and spoke often of the Peace Corps, but it was my shallow disdain for being poor that made the greatest imprint. The poverty that had bolted my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother to the dirt of leased land had to be banished. My course to escape was unwavering. I won every 4-H and FHA award in the system and graduated Valedictorian of my high school class. Every day was a focused exercise to ensure that upon graduation from Soper High School, the cattle, pigs, chickens, garden, canning jars, and hay fields of my youth would never see my sweating visage again. The college scholarships offered in my junior year assured I was on track. Certain that the spell of bad domestic choices had run its course and confident my life was destined to be different, I proceeded to become an Oklahoma teenage pregnancy statistic. My youth was spent raising a son and battling to stay in a marriage that had three strikes against it from the start – youth, teenage parenthood, and the Walker wanderlust bloodline. The marriage lasted 12 years before my heart withered and the last breath of life was sucked out. I called it quits. Devastated at the mess I’d created and suffering from paralyzing insecurity, I somehow emerged as the women had

Mia MiaMagazine, Magazine,Spring Spring2010 2010

before me, head high, son by my side. I also held a degree from Southern Methodist University, a CPA license, and CFP (Certified Financial Planner) professional license in hand. That overachiever in high school may have run into some obstacles and taken a few detours, but she knew what to do when she rounded the corner. Weeks after the divorce was final, a brochure for a white water float trip down the Green River came to the office and landed on my desk. Over the next year, I scraped together the money and took off for Utah in my 1968 canary yellow, rusted-out Mustang coupe. The solo road trip changed my life. Two days of silence broken only by moments of brief connection with the sounds coming from the Mustang caused the schizophrenic collision of everyday thoughts to cease. Moments of clarity returned, deep breaths to my core forced out the fear and trepidation. I interacted with every person I encountered with no interference of expectation or environment, and a comfort level with how to act and what to say. I was returned to myself, empowered and completely hooked on solo traveling. Solo road trips strike fear in the hearts of many. Either the brain conjures up “solitary confinement” and goes downhill from there, or the thought of a road trip disgorges memories of the family sedan and Dad’s mission to see America at 55 miles per hour. The trips are not about getting away, rather going somewhere…. with yourself. I read an article that recommended spending some time on a psychological sofa before heading out on a solo road trip. I beg to differ. The trip is the psychological sofa. And there’s no astronomical bill attached. Solo road trips are liberating, empowering and rejuvenating. Yet most have never taken one. Many people can face down a room of professionals in a boardroom, but not the prospect of being alone. After a decade of being happily single, I married again and this time I did it well, and right. My solo road trips took a four-year hiatus. Then one morning that damned Walker wanderlust raised its head. “Honey, I need a solo road trip.” The truth was out. He turned to me with a wry smile and said, “What took you so long?” He made only one request - no sleeping in the truck. Deal. I no longer had to wedge my gear into a small car; he lovingly loaded a suitcase, my camera gear, a full ice chest, emergency items, and bid me on my way. Eight days in the embrace of solitude with no schedule. Time stopped. And for the first time in a long time, I had the luxury to consider the fate of the Walker women. Continued on page 34 See My Travels

13 13


by Linda Watanabe McFerrin


Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

Shellfish Memories I could blame it on Luigi, the bald Italian sculptor. . .

“Don’t eat so many prawns,” he warned with an ominous, dark-eyed glare as I tucked into the fist-sized pink curls that lay glistening in butter and garlic on the serving platter before me. The month was August and we were celebrating a friend’s birthday at one of my favorite Italian restaurants in San Francisco’s North Beach district. I suppose I could also blame Paul Prudhomme. I had, after all, been whipping up many a crab salad, seafood filé gumbo and crawfish etoufée since my return from New Orleans with the famous chef’s cookbook. This would, however, turn out to be the last in a long series of mouth-watering waltzes with all manner of fruit des mer. Shortly after that shrimp supper, as I shimmied to the beat at a local dance club, I became light headed. When I stumbled outside for air, I could feel my lips inflating like a pair of balloons. This place has fleas, I thought, as a mad itching seized me and the stars pin-wheeled about in the sky. Wrong. I was experiencing my very first encounter with anaphylactic shock. I’d developed an allergy to shellfish. Nearly 6.9 million Americans are allergic to shellfish, some from childhood, although most, like me, seem to acquire the allergy as adults. According to statistics posted by the CDC (Center for Disease Control), these tasty treats from the sea—along with cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, soybeans and wheat—top the list for dietary substances known to induce an extreme response from the immune system and sometimes rather worrisome symptoms. Feel a little itchy after chowing down on lobster? Hives, as well as dizziness, tingling, swelling, wheezing, congestion, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain are among the reactions that might arise if your immune system has identified those seafood proteins as harmful and produced antibodies to resist them. In severe cases, a condition called anaphylaxis occurs. Rapid pulse, swelling, a sudden drop in blood pressure, and loss of consciousness spell emergency and mean that a self-administered shot of epinephrine (adrenaline) and possibly a trip to the emergency room are in order. Obviously, I survived my first anaphylactic encounter, though I did tell my pals that the club was infested with fleas before falling into my husband’s arms in a dead faint. Later, a trip to the allergist and a series of skin prick tests revealed that crustaceans—the Dungeness crab in drawn butter, the succulent scampi, the crawfish swimming in spicy sauces—were off limits as were all mollusks. No more mussels in white wine, no chunky

Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

clam chowder, no more deep-fried oysters for me. Did overexposure to the proteins present in my favorite foods build up to the crisis? The jury’s still out on that one, but those delightful days filled with freshly shucked oysters, tasty crab cakes and tender sea scallops were my last. Can a person really refrain altogether from these treasures of the briny deep? You may think not, but a shellfish allergy is not to be taken lightly, and the only sure cure is abstinence. If I were ever in doubt of this, subsequent events made it clear. The food crises spool out behind me as I travel around the world. In Singapore, a finger sandwich eaten during high tea at the famous Raffles Hotel left me perspiring, disoriented and flat on my back. On Mykonos, a Greek Island in the Aegean Sea, a seemingly innocent rice dish, which happened to have been steamed in shellfish liquor, sent me knocking on doors in the middle of the night in search of “drugs.” It was hard to explain to the doctors I visited that the substances I was seeking were not of the recreational variety. I’ve been nearly laid low by barbecue in Georgia, by Parisian sauces, by soups in Asia, and so on—not because I had obstinately ordered the shrimp or the clams or the lobster, but because they were components of a seemingly shellfish-free dish or had simply shared the same cookware. I have to admit, I do spend a lot of time lusting after the dinners not eaten. There was the amazing paella in the market in Toulouse and the firecracker shrimp in Shanghai. Probably one of my most acute experiences of longing occurred recently in South Carolina on Sullivan Island where I was staying with a group of talented artists in a sprawling beach house a block or two from the Atlantic. Noted chef, chocolatier, and instructor at the Culinary Institute of Charleston, David Vagasky, had cooked up a low country feast in our kitchen, featuring soft-shell crab, oysters, shrimp, and crab fingers. The blue crab had been soaking in buttermilk for ten hours. The oysters were eastern and fried. The crab fingers were served with asparagus. David followed the shellfish banquet with chocolate pot du crème. It was the best meal I never tasted. I satisfied my unrequited cravings by asking the others to describe every bite. “A tantalizing, crispy exterior, hotter, fresher than I have ever tasted,” rhapsodized Paula over the oysters. “It’s like biting into a rain cloud.” “Regurgitated snot; they’re oysters,” declared Cathleen, “but I am a lover of regurgitated snot … especially this variety!” Continued on page 35 See My Tastes


Myart by Chelsea Self

Photography came to me the first moment I picked up a camera and it’s something I never grow tired of. I see the world from a whole new perspective when I look through the lens of a camera. Photography is my way of showing the world what I see, whether it’s the one flower in the middle of a field or a lonesome chair found in an abandoned schoolhouse. Perspective is everything. What draws me to photography is the fact that there’s so much out there. Every corner turned reveals something new. I often find myself thinking, “Okay, just one more.” I’ll always remember the night I sat on my front porch for nearly three hours trying to get a good lightning picture. Each time I captured a bolt of lightning, I would tell myself, “Just one more.” The excitement I would gain after each good shot was like scoring that winning goal in a hard battle against your rivals, something you just can’t explain. I hope photography will be my profession because I can’t see myself doing anything else. I feel I am slowly taking steps towards that goal with every picture I take. My love for photography is what keeps me going. It’s what controls my hand every time I snap a picture, and it’s what keeps me saying, “Okay, just one more.” Mia

Clockwise: The School Time Forgot, Legs; Abandoned; Patience. Facing page: Sittin’, Waitin’, Wishin’.

Chelsea Self is a senior at East Central High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She plans to attend Colorado Mountain College to major in photography.


Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

Mia Magazine, Spring 2010


Myheritage by Jessica Inman

Winnie Guess Perdue is a busy lady, active with work, athletics, a beloved family and a vibrant civic life. Five minutes in her cheerful, energetic company makes one feel a little lazy in comparison. Now in her seventies, as she recounts the events of her life, it seems that she hasn’t slowed down for even a moment. What drives her to seek out so many new challenges? She attributes her spark and much of her success to her Native American heritage. The daughter of George Guess, a direct descendent of Cherokee icon Sequoyah and Virginia Guess, a Scotch-Irish schoolteacher, Winnie was born in Oklahoma, into a community and culture that she says has “enhanced everything I’ve ever done.” She grew up in a close-knit community of prominent Cherokee movers and shakers. Her pureblood father was born in Indian Territory and worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a Cherokee-English translator. Those she counted as mentors include noted author and historian Grant Foreman, Marie Wadley, who was named a national treasure of the Cherokee Nation, and famed artist Richard West. She feels blessed by these friendships and by the nurturing and encouragement she received from her parents and says, “I credit the influence of these traditional Cherokees for providing me the opportunities that created my life.” Those opportunities were many, and they very often offered her a podium to share her culture and heritage. From an early age, riding in parade floats with her dad, she often found herself a spokesperson for her people. She made appearances on a Muskogee TV show hosted by renowned artist Acee Blue Eagle and did regular spots for a show called “Rougher Talk” on KRMG. Her nation named Winnie a Cherokee Princess and she competed for the Miss Indian America title in 1957, winning fourth runner-up. Photos from this event show


Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

Winnie Perdue: I Am Tsa-La-Gi (Cherokee) a lovely nineteen-year-old, smiling unassumingly, happy to be there but with a strength in her posture and face that shows her pride in who she is and her readiness for any challenge. It’s an expression she still wears 52 years later. That boldness led her to what is possibly her most intriguing accomplishment: her groundbreaking mastery of Plains Indian ceremonial dancing. Already an accomplished ballerina as a young girl, Winnie became fascinated with the Hoop and Eagle dances in her teens and sought out the expertise of dancer Jack Anquoe. At first he flatly refused. For one thing, she was Cherokee and not a Plains Indian. For another thing, she was female, and the fancy dances and ceremonials were reserved for men by a strictly upheld tradition. But Winnie would not give up easily. She finally convinced him to teach her, promising that she would never perform the dances in public. The two set to work and before long Winnie had won Jack over, and she joined his tour. They performed on local and national television shows—including The Today Show and The Ed Sullivan Show. The first time she performed at the Anadarko Indian Exposition, a national intertribal gathering, she knew that she had really been accepted as a female dancer. “I never followed the path; I always made one,” she says. “I never let being a female slow me down; I used it for my benefit.” Knowing the misconceptions so often held about Native Americans, she has felt “honor bound” to put a positive face on her culture and represent her people well. During her growing-up years, Winnie remembers that she often felt as though she had her feet firmly planted in two different worlds—representing her culture on a national stage, while going to the same dances and parties as any other student. She recalls sitting in a movie theater with a large group of other kids and thinking, “I’m the only one cheering for the Indians!” But looking back, she says, “I loved being different. I loved feeling that I was unique. . . . I’m very grateful to be who I am.” That sense of uniqueness made her eager and ready to step out boldly when necessary. Among the greatest gifts of her Cherokee heritage is perhaps Winnie’s seemingly boundless determination. “Give me a challenge, give me an adventure, and I’m going to try it.” In every challenge of life, she says, she has drawn upon pride in her heritage and vowed never to be a Cherokee who failed. To this day, Winnie remains a fierce competitor. A runner for 17 years, Winnie looked forward to being old enough to compete in the Senior Olympics. And compete she has. She is a multiple gold and silver medalist in the leg press and 5k racewalk and was named Oklahoma’s Senior Female Athlete of the Year in 2004. When she attended the Senior Olympics in

Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

Melbourne, Australia, she stepped into the arena, saw the Olympic rings looming large in front of her and felt overwhelmed. But as she had so many times before, she drew on her heritage. “You will not fail,” she told herself. “You have an advantage.” Winnie urges women of all cultures and backgrounds to celebrate their identities. “Value who you are and enhance it and make it better.” Her pride in her own culture is evident. Speaking about her home state, she says, “Oklahoma has such a colorful history because of how it began as Indian Territory. Our rich native heritage contributes significantly to our state.” Noticeably, when Winnie and her daughter, Melissa, talk about earlier generations of Cherokees, they say “we,” never “they.” In an age of longing for connection, Winnie sees her life as part of a whole, rooted in history. “My history began on the Trail of Tears,” she says. “Those first steps of my ancestors led me here today.” In 2008, Winnie was named the recipient of the Moscelyne Larkin Lifetime of Cultural Achievement Award, presented annually by the City of Tulsa and the Greater Tulsa Indian Affairs Commission. In March 2009, Winnie was a guest speaker at the Founders Day Centennial Celebration of Northeastern State University, her alma mater. Winnie declared the day historic as the statue honoring her great-great-great grandfather Sequoyah was dedicated. Looking back on her life, Winnie reflects, “I’m on my victory lap.” And yet, she’s still looking forward to new challenges and certainly more opportunities to share and honor her heritage. She has just been named a member of the board of trustees of the Cherokee National Historical Society, a role in which she will continue the mission she has followed her whole life: to celebrate being Cherokee and create opportunities for the next generation. “The world is out there for us to be a part of,” Winnie says. Her roots and upbringing have ornamented her life with color and spirit, and Winnie continues to pass those gifts on to others as well. Mia


Myjourney by Mary Pittman

“ � I had no idea that there would be such lingering effects of sexual abuse.

freed 20

Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

On my thirty-fifth birthday, I made a vow that my next thirty-five years would be different and better. They had to be. I had reached the lowest point in my life and I didn’t know what I needed to do to make a positive change, or even where to begin. A few weeks later, I went home early from work feeling emotionally unstable and sobbing uncontrollably. I dropped to my knees and when I got up, my quest began. I was going through my second divorce and questioning why this was happening again. Was there something wrong with me? All other aspects of my life were great. Or were they? While going through marriage counseling in an attempt to save my marriage, it became apparent that a secret I had kept hidden all these years was trying to emerge. It wasn’t the entire cause of my marriage disintegrating, but it was the reason I was so desperate to feel loved. My first memory of being sexually abused is when I was five years old. The last time it occurred I was fifteen. I had no idea that there would be such lingering effects of sexual abuse. Even though the physical act was over, I was still being traumatized because I had buried the memories of what happened within my soul. It took years for them to erupt. I was not aware of the damage the abuse had done to my heart, my soul, and my mind. I went through counseling and explored spirituality. I learned what grace, mercy and faith are. As the layers of my life were peeled back like an onion, transforming change occurred. In counseling, I coined the term ‘Open-Soul Surgery’ to explain the painful process I was going through. But with this surgery, there is no anesthetic available – just raw emotion. The confusion, rage, guilt, self-contempt, fear and hurt deep within me were exposed. The cleansing I purposely put myself through was necessary to reach my goal: To be able to give and receive love in the way God intended. I had to examine every thought, emotion, and the way I related to people in order to remove the selfprotective barriers where my heart and soul were hidden. For example, being independent was a method to protect myself from vulnerability. I believed I had to be strong and always in control. I was wary of trusting anyone because my goal, above all else, was to keep myself safe. I realized I had picked up two self-destructive coping behaviors – busyness and mindless eating. Busyness is affirmed as a positive vice in American culture so it was hard for me to realize that my sixty-hour workweeks, volunteering for my daughter’s activities, and attending school were detrimental to my healing process. These were positive ways to spend my time, but all the activity left me no space in my life to think about the abuse or process it. I had no time or outlet for releasing the memories and emotions. The counseling proved to me that my busyness was a false sense of security I employed to keep me safe. To be freed, I allowed myself regular periods of time to think, journal and process what had happened to me.

Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

The mindless eating was a comfort mechanism. Often I didn’t even realize I was doing it because the behavior masked itself as simple, occasional overeating. As my healing progressed, I became more aware of my own behavior. The mindless eating occurred when I was anxious, yet most of the time I didn’t even know I was anxious. Usually an unconscious thought – one based on my old belief system – became the trigger that caused me to eat mindlessly. I began to use the “Halt” method, asking myself if I was hungry, angry, lonely or tired. If I was anything but hungry, I employed one or more positive behaviors - writing thoughts that were going through my head, praying, or getting out of the house – to stop the destructive behavior. My ‘Open-Soul Surgery’ process FREED me. It gave me the ability to Forgive the person who abused me. By forgiving, it released the rage I didn’t know I had kept inside me for so long. My soul has been Restored to a state of well-being where peace, contentment and joy reside. My mind became Enlightened with knowledge about myself and the destruction that had occurred, so that I was able to move beyond it and heal. New people have come into my life and stayed, and they are deep sources of Encouragement – something that was missing through my childhood and young adult life. Now I have been Delivered from the debris of abuse I carted around with me for the first thirty-five years of my life. The process of healing is quite scary. I felt emotions and instability I had never encountered before, but I wanted an authentic life unhindered by the memories of the act that someone did to me. Through the process, I attained my goal of being able to give and receive love as God intended. The confusion, rage, guilt, self-contempt, fear, hurt and shame are gone. My cause now is to help other women who have been victimized by sexual abuse. I could have used a mentor to talk to outside of counseling sessions during those emotional and unstable periods; someone who has been there and can relate to me as a fellow victim; someone who I can talk to about the process of healing and what it takes to get to the other side of the pain; someone to tell me I am okay and I will be okay. Now, I am turning my attention toward becoming that mentor for someone else, to help them on their journey of being free from the wreckage of sexual abuse. Mia The month of April has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. For more information, go to It is Mary’s desire to put together a network of women who are advocates and friends, sharing their stories to enlighten and encourage one another. If you would like to be a part of this new program, please contact Mary at



Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

MyBLOG by Annika Buxman

In 2003, Annika Buxman, letterpress print designer, learned about Fair Trade, a grass roots movement that focuses on relationships with people who have been marginalized by war, weather and damaging cultural systems. She began “Sustain and Heal,” an extension of her company, De Milo Design, in 2008. The following entries from Annika’s blog describe a recent trip to Bangladesh where, as a buyer, she was introduced to strong Bangla women. Annika traveled with photographer Amanda Valloza, whose work is featured here.

Prokritee (“nature” in Bangla) is the umbrella name for eight separate enterprises scattered across the rice paddies of Bangladesh. Their central office is in the capital of Dhaka. The goals of Prokritee include hiring women employees who are head of households, are landless with few or no assets, and who live primarily in rural areas. Prokritee provides training to increase the skills of women within income-generating enterprises. The artisans’ stories are many, wide and varied. But all have the same theme--women overcoming immense cultural barriers. Just one of many is Hajera Hayadaly who works at Bonoful Paper in Mymensingh district. When she was eleven, her widowed mother found a husband for her so there was one less child to feed. Her new husband was seventy years old and soon unable to work because of his increasing age. This left Hajera responsible to provide for their family

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of four children. From her earnings at Bonoful, she has been able to support and educate her family. With her dividend earnings, Hajera was able to purchase a piece of land and cultivate rice. She is pleased that she is able to provide for her family so well.

Bangladesh Day 1: Prokritee’s Anti-hero

Today is the first day of a citywide campaign by Dhaka officials to convince Bangla drivers of the importance of traffic signals. A Bangla driver would sooner give up his chai, or even shake the hand of a woman before surrendering his space of road. After one hour of “driving” 12 kilometers (seven miles), we arrived at Prokritee’s main office. Ershad is Prok’s marketing guy and has the expansive personality to match. Seated in his office (two walls piled high with baskets) we got the download on their mission, operating principles, and tacked on the end was a heartfelt pitch to please place orders


for baskets as they are in an “order crisis” and their artisans are suffering from a lack of basket weaving opportunities. The limp US economy has far reaching effects. As I was mentally wrestling with the meaning of unsold baskets for humanity, we were led into the “Heart” of Prokritee--the design office. Being a creative type myself, I have a narcissistic tendency to believe that designers are uber superheros who are saving the world through good typography and intelligent use of white space. But then we were introduced to Suraiya Chow Dhury, the most gentle and humble sort of superhero. Suraiya has been with Prok for 17 years. Before that, she received her degree in Fine Art at the University of Bangladesh. While she has her own work, her focus is supporting the artisans and facilitating the fruits of their creative endeavors. Quality control is one area of great concern for her, and she goes to great lengths to find working solutions. When it was clear the artisans didn’t have the motor skills or equipment to cut a straight line, she helped develop a line of torn paper cards. When The Body Shop rejected 2,000 lumpy edged knitted hemp bath mitts, she made the 17-hour journey into the jungle to dry their tears and set about the business of figuring out how to knit a clean curve. She clearly is the heart that keeps the blood flowing around here. Our day wound to a close when Patrick, a Bangla man with an extremely kind face, cooked us a meal fit for royalty.


Bangladesh Day 3: Famine and Feast

I slept like a rock for five hours on my rock hard bed. But I felt like a queen, or that child’s book character “Fancy Nancy,” under my chartreuse mosquito net and pink striped sheets. Eventually the haunting but beautiful morning call to prayer combined with a cock crowing started the day. We were welcomed with a profusion of flowers at Keya Palm. The artisans here work mostly with palm branch leaves by folding them into stars (I’ve seen these in my friends’ homes around Christmas time) or weaving journal covers. They, too, are experiencing a “crisis of orders” as their big-ticket customers have scaled way back. But I had a little speech prepared about how many large American companies are going out of business and our president is working on that, but there are still many small businesses like me who are alive and want to help them with many small orders. I told them I would tell all my business friends. At least it was something. But, truthfully, they need to develop their product offering. There are only so many origami stars the market can take. They enjoyed watching me struggle through folding a star.

Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

From Keya we made our way on foot down a dirt path along a small pond where a few enterprising fisherman were bringing up baskets of sludge and tiny two-inch fish. The banks were teeming with small children who were given the task of sorting fish from sludge and it looked like desperate work. I was feeling reluctant about our next stop. Beautiful saris, richly painted walls and gracious hosts had kept me going so far. But the pressure of this role I had been given as “the American buyer” was wearing me thin. It was a pleasure to find that the Biborton Handmade Paper Project was a large and bustling circle of workshops. They welcomed us warmly, but they did not request a speech. The artisans couldn’t have cared less that we were there. They had more important work to do. The American economy may be flagging, but Japan and Italy are picking up the slack. It was wonderful to see so much creative activity.

Bangladesh Day 5: Making Up for Lost Time

Last stop of the day was Sacred Mark—a truly sacred place where women wishing to transition out of prostitution have been making beautiful handmade soap since March 2009. Their leader, mother figure, protector and mentor is Deepa, one of the most attractive people I’ve ever met. She radiates love in her slow liquid voice, graceful gestures and the gentle way she interacts with her girls. But this Muslim woman is no shrinking violet. She has a degree in civil engineering and could live in Dhaka where grand

Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

employment opportunities would be plentiful, yet she has chosen to live in the home of her birth and build this center adjacent to the “red light” area of this small village. She explained to us the difficulty of leaving the sex trade. Having mothers who were prostitutes, lacking education, enduring regular beatings from their fathers, pimps and husbands, these young women know no other life. It is also a solid source of income and without skills there is little motivation to make a change. But slowly, Deepa is making inroads. They started their initial training with 100 and only 30 managed to make it through the yearlong course. Even after graduation, it is a constant struggle. Their husbands are usually not happy with the loss of income and many still abuse them. Deepa is working with the husbands as well to build trust. It helps that Sacred Mark pays salaries even when there are not enough orders for their product. But their soaps are packaged beautifully, the quality is high, and their story so poignant I think they will succeed if they can get their product seen by enough people. Everyone out there, buy some soap! Let me know if you want some and I will add it to my next Prokritee order. Mia


Mycause by Natasha Ball

Pam Richardson:

Making a Difference for One

Pam Richardson was working in her office on a Sunday afternoon when a movement outside the window caught her eye. A woman she didn’t recognize was on the grounds, tending the garden. Pam is the director of the Resonance Center for Women, a Tulsa nonprofit. Sometimes, when the women and families Resonance serves are in need, caring for the grounds on which the 92-year-old house sits falls to the bottom of the to-do list. Pam assumed the woman was a disgruntled neighbor, weeding the area surrounding the Center’s gazebo after growing tired of looking out her kitchen window at the overgrowth. Pam made her way outside. She wanted to apologize to her neighbor, but she also wanted to thank her. Help with the grounds was help with the grounds, she thought, and all volunteerism deserved gratitude, even if it was the result of exasperation. As she spoke with the woman, though, Pam realized the woman wasn’t a neighbor but a Resonance client. Her battle with alcoholism had landed her in the criminal justice system. She was seeing a therapist at Resonance and was assigned to work on the grounds to fulfill her community service requirements. “In just a few seconds, she told me her whole story. She had problems that would put anybody under,” Richardson said. “She said, ‘God and Resonance will get me through this.’” Just one month prior, in July 2009, Pam Richardson had assumed the helm at Resonance, a nonprofit agency that provides services designed to give selfsufficiency to women and families experiencing challenge, change or adversity in their lives. Resonance


provides counseling and substance abuse treatment, community counseling, prevention via the Girls Unlimited program and job and career services, including the program/business CertiRestore which provides female ex-offenders with job skills and training in fine wood furniture restoration. Resonance got its start as a women’s organization, but Richardson didn’t come to it for that reason. She’d never worked in an all-female group before – in fact, she’d worked mostly with men. What drew Richardson, she said, was the large number of incarcerated women in Oklahoma. The state ranks number one, not just in the U.S., but in the world, for the number of women per capita it sends to prison. “But, it’s not just about women – we rank high when it comes to men, too,” she said. “When I learned that I thought, ‘No way. Not in my state.’ We have to look at this problem and try to determine how we can help people before they get into the criminal justice system.” Richardson grew up in Lubbock, Texas, as the older sister of two brothers. Both of her siblings have careers in law enforcement, and she took a position in the Merrill Lynch compliance department, which safeguards against white-collar crime. When she learned the position at Resonance would soon come available, Richardson jumped at the opportunity. At Resonance, she takes an alternate approach to justice. The group’s substance abuse counseling serves

Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

clients referred by Tulsa County Drug Court, Family Drug Court, Oklahoma Probation & Parole and other agencies. The goal is to break the cycle of multi-generational chemical addiction and criminal offense, not by consigning women – daughters, mothers, caregivers – to jail, but through counseling and rehabilitation. “Some women come in here with the attitude, ‘I’m just here to get this done and get out of here as quickly as possible,’” Richardson said. “But it’s a long process, almost 18 months. They’re here every week with individual and group counseling, drug testing, and they have to get their GED if they don’t have it already. By the time it’s over, the outcome is amazing. “This discussion we have at Resonance of what leads to substance abuse, whether it’s domestic violence or some sort of early trauma, is not about letting these folks off free. For some of these ladies, it’s their last chance. For others, it’s their first offense, but if they don’t make it through the program, a felony on their record will prevent them from being employed. When these women are thrown in jail, it’s so easy to get back into the drugs when they come out. What else are they going to do? What are their choices?” Part of Richardson’s initiation into her new position with Resonance was a graduation ceremony for the

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women in this program. “I was blown away by the first drug court graduation I got to attend. There were 13 graduates, and these ladies stood and told their stories. It was amazing.” In her desk, Richardson keeps a copy of a story, where an old, wise writer spotted a young man throwing starfish into the ocean. The writer pointed out that the beach was littered with hundreds of starfish, all doomed as the tide slipped out, and that it’d be impossible to make a difference by tossing back the few within his reach. As he tossed a starfish beyond the breaking waves, the young man replied, “It made a difference for that one.” “I love this story,” Richardson said. “It speaks to my heart in the biggest way. With this issue of addiction, people will relapse – four of five addicts will. We have to learn that it’s an illness. We have to learn to be forgiving and how to help that one make it. If one makes it, then we’ve done our job for that day. Plus, we’re not just helping the starfish – the women, that is. We help everyone around her. The ripples created when we throw that starfish back out into the ocean are her children, her relatives, her friends. We help to make a difference in their lives, too. That’s what makes me get up everyday and come to work.” Mia


Mybookshelf by Virginia Reedy

Angel is the perfect name for the protagonist in Gaile Parkin’s first novel, “Baking Cakes in Kigali.” Angel is, indeed, an angel to everyone she meets. But what makes her attractive and believable is that she has no idea she is angelic. Angel has no grandiose ideas about saving the world—nor even of saving her community. She has no charitable foundation, no plan, and no organization, but she is observant. She cares about the people she meets in her neighborhood and through her business. She listens. She remembers. And she helps. She’s the kind of woman we like to emulate. She inspires us to “brighten the corner where we are,” and to perform those “little nameless unremembered acts of kindness and of love.” Parkin sets her novel in Rwanda after the terrible one hundred days of massacre and during the time of recovery. Angel and her husband, Pius, have moved from Tanzania to Rwanda as part of this recovery and because Pius can make a better salary at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology. Angel


and Pius need this extra income. They are raising their five young grandchildren, the oldest eleven and the youngest six. These are the children of their son, Joseph and their daughter, Vinas, both of whom have recently died. Joseph was killed by robbers at his home, and Vinas died from stress after her husband left her. At least these are the explanations Angel gives to those who ask. Neither she nor Pius are able to face the truth: their two children died from AIDS. The irony is that Pius and Angel had carefully planned to have only two children so that they would be able to educate them well. She explains: “Back in those days, family planning was still very modern. We were pioneers. Our lives should be growing more peaceful now.” Instead, Angel says, “Our children are taken and we’re made parents all over again to our grandchildren.” Angel and Pius are loving parents to these five children, sparing nothing to see to it they have what they need, including a good education. Angel, Pius, their five grandchildren, and Titi (their grandchildren’s caretaker) live in a compound that houses many expatriates who work for various aid agencies and non-governmental organizations. Angel is a businesswoman whose cake-baking business brings her into contact with all kinds of people. She often lowers the price of one of her cakes if the patron is poor and cannot pay much, but she never gives a cake away. When someone comes to her apartment to place an order, Angel

always takes time to talk to the person, asking enough questions to make sure that the cake will be decorated in an appropriate manner. Then she hands her photo album of cake pictures to the person to peruse while she makes tea in the kitchen. Ordering a cake from Angel is serious business. Often in the conversation about the cake, Angel will learn about life experiences that are tragic or sad, happy or celebratory. She considers herself a professional, not a gossip, so she never repeats any of the stories she hears. Instead, she is alert to how she can help the person in need. Her friends include people from all levels of society. Ken Akimoto, a well-to-do American who works for the United Nations and lives in the compound, is Angel’s best customer. Angel is also a friend to Bosco, Ken’s driver, to Modeste and Gaspard, the security guards, and to Sophie and Catherine, two volunteers who work with young girls, teaching them a trade that will enable them to escape being sex workers. She’s polite to Prosper, who manages the compound but is a terrible hypocrite. He carries a big Bible and preaches to any who will listen, but he drinks heavily and cheats tenants on their water bills. Even when Angel confronts him about this cheating, she is polite and wins the argument. Angel meets Odile, a nurse, who has lost hope of ever marrying or having a family. Odile works in “that part of town [where the people] are too poor!” When Odile learns that Angel has not instructed her

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granddaughters about AIDS, she offers to take them to lunch one day and talk to them. Angel is relieved since she simply cannot face having that conversation. One of the motifs Parkin uses is change. Angel herself is going through the Change. She says, “Really, this Change business was not dignified at all.” But the larger focus is not Angel’s battle with menopause; it is the changes Angel is able to bring about in the lives of those around her. She finds a husband for Odile and she arranges an elaborate wedding for Modeste. Angel and Pius are also experiencing change because of their new responsibilities with their grandchildren. The hardest change for them is acknowledging the truth about their children’s deaths. At last, with Odile’s counsel and encouragement, they are able to talk to one another openly about “the virus” that killed them: AIDS. Angel brings about change, but there are other changes taking place in the culture. One of these is the practice of cutting young girls just before puberty—female circumcision. Angel participates in an elaborate ruse to protect a young girl from this cruelty. Her friends, Dr. Rejoice and Nurse Odile, also participate. Dr. Rejoice says to the other women gathered for the ritual, “We’re supporting one another more and more when we stand together, especially in places where we’re being beaten down.” Another theme is that of wisdom or insight. Angel wears glasses and she is nearly fanatic about keeping

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them clean. She regularly wipes them with a tissue she keeps tucked inside her brassiere. But what prompts Angel to clean her glasses is dealing with some perplexing issue. Cleaning her glasses seems to help her clear her mind and sort through the problem facing her. She is a wise woman, an admirable woman. She is an entrepreneur

who uses her skills to earn money but also to better the lives of those around her. Gaile Parkin, born in Zambia and still a resident of Africa, has crafted a beautiful story of a woman with a resilient, compassionate spirit; someone who makes a difference. Angel Tungaraza is worth meeting and getting to know. Mia


Myhealth by Lesley Gudgel


Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

Just keep moving I have enough workout equipment at home to start a small gym. You would think with an elliptical machine, a stationary bicycle, a stability ball, step aerobics benches and a weighted hula hoop, just to name a few, I would want for nothing. For years, however, there was one missing ingredient: the fun factor. My first introduction to having fun while working out was an elective course in college called “dynamic aerobics.” By today’s fitness standards it was pretty lame, but I was hooked. In my early twenties, I was married with two active little boys and had no time to myself for anything, including exercise. But I soon figured out a way. I had been a cheerleader in junior high and high school, so what do former cheerleaders do? They become aerobics instructors. It was a perfect solution. I got to work out for an hour and a half with a group of people, got paid and had a free nursery for my boys. That was sufficient for about nine years, and then I began my obsession with running. When I ran with my group of friends, we could always spot the “natural” runners, those to whom running came with little effort. One beautiful sunny day while running at the river, I felt like I had finally reached a place where I looked like a runner. My breathing was natural; my stride was effortless. I was in the zone. On my way home that day, I felt a slight pain in one knee. As usual with those occasional twinges, I went home and took something to reduce inflammation; but this episode was different. The inflammation and pain did not go away, and continued efforts to get back out to run were met with more pain and disappointment. After two arthroscopic procedures in seven months, I finally had a total knee replacement in 2007. I have some great genes. My paternal grandmother lived to be 97 and my maternal grandmother, who passed away in August of this year, was 103. I knew my knees would need to see me through a long life. When my replacement knee continued to restrict movement, it was determined I had excessive scar tissue, which was removed in a fourth surgery. I had to find an alternative to running, so I joined a gym. I found one close to my home with all of the equipment one could imagine, but as in the past, I gravitated toward the aerobics classes. I attended group classes at the gym for several years, but like any good thing, it ran its course. After a long journey of ups and downs in my exercise endeavors, I reached a seemingly obvious conclusion: my personality dictates that I must be a “social exerciser.” I’ve learned that although I like to be in shape and can be obsessive about working out, I both need and enjoy the social interaction that accompanies it.

Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

A little over a year ago, a co-worker sent out a group e-mail advertising a class she highly recommended: Zumba. I needed something different, so I thought I would give it a try. After one class, I was hooked. Zumba is an international, Latin-inspired workout class that feels more like dancing than aerobics. Our instructor, Christy, makes it so much fun it hardly feels like exercise. Utilizing a variety of music styles, it is an hour-long class alternating easy-to-follow fast dance moves with slower ones for an interval-training workout that not only tones muscles, but also burns over 500 calories. Zumba’s goal is simple: get participants to “work out, to love working out and to get hooked,” which in my case they’ve achieved! I now join 30 to 50 other ladies several times a week to dance, sweat, laugh and generally have a great time; which by the way, are the goals of a social exerciser. Christy’s philosophy is “Don’t worry about following the steps; just keep moving.” Truly, we don’t care what we look like doing the moves. In fact many of us (with encouragement from Christy) have been known to wear a coin belt during the workout to remind us to emphasize our hip movements, which burns more calories. So the home exercise equipment will be dusted off again, but it will have to wait for another time. I’m off to Zumba with my friends, old and new. Mia Zumba is a fitness dance exercise program that takes students through a combination of dance steps such as merengue, reggaetone and salsa. It also incorporates fitness exercises such as bicep curls, knee lifts and squats and uses the principles of interval and resistance training to maximize calories and fat burned and total body toning. Alberto Beto Perez, a professional dancer and fitness trainer from Colombia, South America, created Zumba. The story goes that one day he forgot to bring his aerobics music to his class and improvised by grabbing some Latin tapes that he had in his car. He instructed his class to just “move to the music.” That class became a big hit and soon was in huge demand. It was originally named “Rumbacize.” As soon as Beto arrived in the United States in 1999, he was approached by two entrepreneurs who changed the name to Zumba, which means “to move fast and have fun.” By 2002, the first Zumba fitness videos and DVDs were being sold and Zumba began training instructors. By 2009, Zumba had 35,000 instructors and trainers.


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MY INSPIRATION Continued from page 6 fall. Hunting involved riding fast over uneven terrain and jumping fences and ditches to keep up with hounds following a fox or coyote’s line of scent. Safety came first, I reasoned, so I would ride only at home or under controlled conditions. Riding Uppie through the fields that summer was like salve on the wound where my heart had been torn out. Only those of us who gain solace from something like this can know what it is like. Flying was like that for my husband and I took some comfort in knowing that, but I still struggled. I began the healing process on those rides, and I realized Uppie knew how to communicate with me. It was as if he was saying, “Let’s go hunting! Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you!” By that fall, he had convinced me. My friends were happy for me and supportive that I had decided to join the hunt again. Uppie and I led the group of riders and he was ready at the slightest signal to join the chase, flying over the jumps to keep up with the hounds. And so, on this phenomenal horse, I rode back into the hunt field and back to life. Uppie carried me well for just a few more seasons until his chronic allergies did not respond to the usual treatment. With a month to go before Opening Hunt, my vet recommended I take Uppie to the Oklahoma State College of Veterinary Medicine for further evaluation. It was decided that a CT head scan, with Uppie under anesthesia, would be the best way to find out what was going on. After the procedure, I was allowed to see him, but only on the condition I not go into the stall since he would be unsteady as he got to his feet and could hurt me if he fell. My heart broke as I saw my horse standing weak and trembling. When he saw me at the door he

Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

raised his head and tried to walk to me but couldn’t. I told him, “It’s OK, you’re a good boy!” He then breathed a big sigh and stopped trembling. The vet commented on our connection but I was not at all surprised, just relieved that Uppie had been reassured by my presence. That was the last time I saw him. The plan was to proceed later with surgery to remove a tumor the CT scan had shown in his sinuses. I told the surgeon that everything possible was to be done for him, yet I did not want my horse to suffer if he couldn’t be helped. My voice was tear-choked as I spoke to the surgeon. I couldn’t imagine losing this horse who had helped me through the darkest days of my life. I had to take care of family responsibilities, so I returned home while Uppie stayed and had the surgery. During my daughter’s piano lesson, I got the call from the surgeon. After a lengthy explanation of just how badly Uppie’s sinuses were damaged, I asked the question I had been dreading, “Are you saying you can’t help him?” The surgeon answered sadly that he didn’t think they could. I knew then I had to do right by my friend and replied, “Then don’t wake him up. . .” My daughter found me sobbing in the piano teacher’s driveway. After my husband’s death, I had to climb up into the saddle and Uppie carried me back to life where I learned to smile again. I had very real proof that life can change or end in an instant, but Uppie helped me see that to live fearfully was no way to live. Learning to live and not just survive made me a better person and a better example for my children. Because of this change, I was ready for the blessings that were waiting for me, such as meeting my current husband. I now fully understand that it is not the time we have in this life, but what we do with that time. Mia


My Relationships Continued from page 11 touched her hand and paused. “Let’s have breakfast.” She opened her eyes and softened her expression. She remembered him. He took a deep breath – a sigh of relief. Several days later, she stopped drinking and eating unless persuaded. She slept a lot and did not say much. Then, my father heard a thud from the bathroom and found my mother unconscious on the floor. He crawled down beside her and cried her name as he called 911. She opened her eyes for him and sat up, but the paramedics recommended hospitalization. In the hospital, she awoke only to wave her arms at her hallucinations. She remembered no one, except my father, and smiled as she memorized his face just before she floated back into deep sleep. Since then, there have been ups and downs: assisted living, going home again, a broken hip, hospitalization, and now hip replacement surgery. Nearly a century of memories have drifted away, but the bond between my parents remains impenetrable. He loves her. She is his girl. Mia

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My Travels Continued from page 13 My siblings and I have all had sons. There are no daughters to carry on the Walker women legacy, a fact I’m certain saddens my Mom. But my son inherited the wanderlust gene along with several other Walker traits, hopefully mostly the good ones. Five generations of explorers later, one of us speaks a foreign language (Mandarin) and has traveled extensively. He and I spent four weeks backpacking rural China in 2008 – a dream come true for the three generations of women before me. Well into my 40s, I see the lack of inherited antiques, jewelry, and land in a much different light. When my son and his fiancé said they hoped to have a girl someday to carry on the Walker women legacy, I understood what had been passed down was far greater than things. A spirit of independence, a lust for discovery, open-mindedness born of tolerance, a penchant for learning, optimism regarding what lies beyond the bend, scrappiness, strength of character and personality – these things are the gifts to future generations that never need polishing or homeowner’s insurance. I’m proud to be an owner. My Mom is still without a passport, but plans are being made to take her to France. She will set foot on foreign soil. And whichever occurs first – either the birth of a great-granddaughter or my mother’s touchdown at Charles de Gaulle airport – the world will reverberate with a Walker rebel yell. Mia

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MY TASTES Continued from page 15 “Durn good,” contributed Greg. The rest of our company munched away, the flavors having rendered them speechless. I stood by, drooling, grateful that, unlike some sufferers, I am not allergic to the very vapors. The good news is that although I will probably never outgrow this condition, I can stay out of serious danger. I now know how to recognize the signs of allergic reaction. I generally remember to have Benadryl on hand; it’s proved effective. And for more serious situations, I carry my trusty EpiPen®, a pocket-sized device for auto-injecting life-saving epinephrine, standard issue for folks with serious shellfish allergies. I’ve also come to realize that there are so many other marvelous foods in the world. How about chicken marsala or herb-grilled Coho salmon? Lately, I find myself concentrating on whole foods: beautiful vegetables and fruits, items I can buy at the local farmers market wherever I happen to be. So it isn’t so bad, though I really do miss the great seafood platter, the bouillabaisse and the shellfish jambalaya, not to mention the breads, the pastas, the pies, cakes and cookies. That’s right, I might not have mentioned … I’m also allergic to gluten. Mia

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Myafterthoughts by Monica Roberts

“ ” Surely every other woman I know has life pulled together better than I do right now.

Mia Mia Magazine, Magazine, Spring Spring 2010 2010

The Only Obsession I Can Afford Once upon a time, I had the luxury of a few obsessive/compulsive tendencies. One of those fetishes was making my bed. With my husband barely sitting up and coherent, I would begin pulling up the sheets, tucking them in neatly and fluffing the pillows to get my day off to a good start. In my mind, an unmade bed was akin to not showering or brushing my teeth. My other compulsion, and this one is harder to shake, is straightening crooked pictures on walls. Even if I’m in someone else’s home, an office or restaurant, I can’t help myself. Some people comb the fringe on their area rugs. I straighten pictures. Right now it’s noon, and my bed is not made. Nor has it been made in several days, I’m ashamed to admit. Why this sudden slovenly behavior? Am I newly medicated for my neatnik disorder? If only. Rather, what happened to me this last year is that I crossed a modern day chasm into the realm of three children. My formerly high standards for so many departments in my life have fallen farther than the stock market. Now the miniscule details I once allowed myself to obsess over seem like extravagant, unaffordable luxuries. A friend of mine with four children used to make fun of me when I had only two and could spend my time dwelling on paint colors, dinner menus and which wreath to hang on the front door. Even now, with my baby turned one-year-old, my foggy mind can only calculate the most basics of daily life. As women, we tend to fall prey to the comparison trap. Why am I not as thin as her? Why isn’t my house as clean as hers? Why isn’t my husband as attentive as hers? Why aren’t my children as accomplished as hers? Why can’t I just be perfect like her? This is a trap I can easily fall into these days. Surely every other woman I know has life pulled together better than I do right now. Surely they are all better mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, friends. And then I have to remind myself that’s one of the most destructive lies on the planet. If the non-stop media fury around the Tiger Woods scandal taught us anything, (aside from the perils of cell phone use) it’s that things aren’t always as they seem. Who would have guessed Mr. Squeaky Clean was capable of such duplicity? Anyone’s life can look perfect from the outside. In fact, many of ours do. Women who’ve known me over the years might be comforted to come over to my house today. Don’t get me wrong—the laundry does get done and we’re not living in a pigsty, but standards are greatly relaxed. In fact, I think I’m more relaxed, too. Suddenly my older son’s bedroom, a kitchen sink full of dishes, and a few dust bunnies here and there don’t get me so wound up any more. But there’s nary a crooked picture in sight. Of that I can assure you. Mia


ourcontributing editors Sheilah Bright, a former journalist, is a newly-minted empty-nester determined to experience the world through travel, writing and photography. As part of a photo tour last year, she was one of few visitors to take to the streets of India and experience the country’s true colors. Her work has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines, including Oklahoma Today where she is a contributing editor. She and her husband live on Bright Morning Farm, a 35-acre homestead in Sand Springs. You can read about her travels and view the photographs at or contact: Sheilah wrote My Hometown: “Sand Springs,” page 8.

Poet, travel writer and novelist Linda Watanabe McFerrin is a contributor to numerous journals, newspapers, magazines, anthologies and online publications. She is the author of two poetry collections, an award-winning novel (Namako: Sea Cucumber) and short story collection (The Hand of Buddha), and the editor of a travel guidebook (Best Places Northern California, 4th ed.) and four literary anthologies. A past winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction, she teaches and leads workshops in fiction and creative nonfiction. Her latest novel, Dead Love, is due out from Stone Bridge Press in September of 2010. You can visit her website at www. Linda wrote My Tastes: “Shellfish Memories,” page 15.


of the Badlands one of the Top 10 Iconic Photographs of America in their Picture America contest. She’s a fly fisherman, loves Westerns, and recently conquered the summit of a mountain for the first time. You can find her online at Tammie wrote My Travels: “The Walker Rebel Yell,” page 12. Chelsea Self was born and raised in Tulsa and is a senior at East Central High School. She began her interest in photography at the age of 12 and is currently taking AP Photography at her school. She has also been member of her high school’s softball and soccer team for four years. Chelsea has entered her photography in many local area art shows, including Young Talent, Mayfest and Scholastics. She plans on attending Colorado Mountain College to major in photography. You can find her photographs at people/ChelseaSelf. Chelsea’s art is featured in My Art, page 16. Jessica Inman is a freelance writer and editor in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and reads anything she can get her hands on. The written word aside, her real passion in life might be trying out new Mediterranean recipes. She can often be found volunteering, baking, going to concerts or telling dogs how much she loves them. Jessica wrote My Heritage: “I Am Tsa La Gi,” a profile of Winnie Perdue, page 18. A native Oklahoman, Mary Pittman believes that anyone can transform their life. She has spent most of her professional career as a Bank Operations and Service Quality Manager, but her most joyful moments are when she is spending time with her husband, Greg and her children and grandchildren. She is currently working on a Masters degree in Public Administration. Mary enjoys running, working out, fly-fishing and being a ‘coffee shop mentor’ to women who are dedicated to transforming their lives. Mary wrote My Journey: “Freed,” page 20

Doris Degner-Foster, a former medical research analyst and regional correspondent for an international horse magazine, now fights the continuous battle of the multiplying laundry and taking care of her husband Michael and two teen-aged daughters. When not occupied with that, she rides and trains horses and writes. She has completed two murder mystery novels, one co-authored with her husband Michael Foster. She is currently at work on a teen mystery book series in the tradition of a modern-day Nancy Drew. Doris looks forward to publishing more of her work. Doris wrote My Inspiration: “Riding Through the Dark,” page 6. Five days a week, Linda Rubin is a high school English teacher, and three nights a week she counsels troubled teens. She has two sons, a four year-old grandson and another one on the way. She has her masters in both school counseling and clinical psychology, and is working to obtain her license to practice as a therapist. She is a cancer survivor and an incurable optimist. Her greatest feeling of success is helping kids make it through college. Linda wrote My Relationships: “My Parents’ Love Story,” page 10. After 18 years as a CPA and Certified Financial Planner, Tammie Dooley made the leap to her dream job – freelance writing and photography. She gave up the 10-hour day chained to a desk in exchange for a 12-hour day chained to a laptop (but now she dangles flip flops). Tammie’s passion for adventure and solo road trips, the solitude of which provided a lifeline during the pressure of her financial career, were the initial propellant for her writings. She has had numerous articles published, and is Tulsa People’s travel writer. USA Today named her photograph


Annika Buxman enjoys a balance of creative and production work in her oneperson-two-dog letterpress studio in South Pasadena, California. She is fortunate to have many talented people influence De Milo Design. One sister introduced her to the beauty and ecological benefits of handmade paper. Another sister introduced her to the global benefits of Fair Trade, which led to the “Sustain & Heal” collection. Her skills as a letterpress printer come from the mentoring of the late great printer Regis Graden who was kind and generous with his printing knowledge. You can visit her website at A sampling of Annika’s blog posts is on page 23. Natasha Ball is a fifthgeneration Tulsan who spends her days finding new and exciting things to do in T-Town for her award-winning blog, Her goal is to show off Tulsa’s serious coolness to Web surfers around the globe. She hopes native Tulsans who read her blog are inspired to refresh their experience of their city, too. Natasha also writes in Tulsa Business Journal about Tulsa’s food scene and on about things to do in Tulsa for families. When Natasha isn’t writing she can be found in the kitchen whipping up anything from pies to pasta to big, juicy burgers. Natasha wrote My Cause: “Pam Richardson: Making a Difference for One,” page 26. Virginia Reedy retired in 1995 after 33 years of teaching English. The last 25 of those years she taught composition and literature at Tarrant County College in Hurst, Texas. For the past five years she has taught conversation and citizenship classes through the international ministry at her church in Grapevine, Texas. She has been married 61 years to her sweetheart of a husband, Tom. They have three children, five grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. Virginia wrote My Bookshelf: “Baking Cakes in Kigali,” page 28. Lesley Gudgel, a native Tulsan, has two grown sons, Grant who lives in France with his wife Laure, and Blake in Oklahoma City. Lesley and her husband Tom met in college and will celebrate their 30th anniversary in May. She works at the Community Service Council in Tulsa as an Early Childhood Planner and coordinator of the LINK Project. Lesley wrote My Health: “Just Keep Moving,” page 31. Monica Roberts is an Oklahoma native and Tulsa is her adopted hometown. When she’s not being a mom to Jack, Lucy and Oscar (children, not dogs), she writes, works as a marketing consultant and tries to take a nap, which rarely works out. She enjoys cooking, reading, long walks and entertaining. Monica writes the column, “Afterthoughts,“ page 38.

Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

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Mia Magazine, Spring 2010

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Mia Magazine Spring 2010  

Mia magazine is the voice of women. Each issue is filled with inspiring stories, creative writings, and motivational columns for living a de...