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w i l d f l o w e r :: July 2011


wildflower magazine Ashley Noel Hennefer Editor Contributors Dr. Tory Clark Rebecca Fox Ingrid Rebecca Gault Beverly Head Sarah Khandjian Erin Moreira Jessica Ross Angela Spires Meredith White Ashley Dodge Jessica Farkas Rachel Quinn Jessica Ross Scarlett Caitlin Aly Thomas

Writing. Love. Magic. Reel Talk A Network Timeout Game Time Scarlett Speaks Fight Like a Girl

Published by Desert Underground | Independent Publishing and Media Email: wildflower.magazine@gmail.com Copyright Š 2011 by the artists published and Wildflower Magazine. All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions. Your support of the artists’ rights is appreciated.

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july 2011

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table of contents

6 editor notes 8 featured artist: rebecca fox 14 empowerment 16 escaping you by jessica ross 18 pretty in print: sarah khandjian’s designs

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2428 3032 8 34 washing collard greens 24 by beverly head dd flickering lights 28 by angela spires dd back to the cradle 30 by ingrid rebecca gault dd faces of autism 32 by meredith white

life after treatment 34 by erin moreira dd submit | august 2011 39

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editor notes

The phoenix is in control I’m not much of a summer person but I try to make the most of each season. I look at the heat as an opportunity to get a little sweaty, to feel the results of my labor. But mostly it feels like a large oppressive hand pushing away my energy and evoking headaches instead of enthusiasm.

of control - it never fails to surprise me how well pieces weave with one another, how artists from around the world can be so alike in their emotions and yet so vastly unique in the execution of their ideas. And yet as always, control can be both willful or destructive. Jessica Ross explores the loss of it, and the great lengths a woman will go to reclaim it. Beverly Head acknowledges that sometimes the best form of control is keeping your mouth shut. Control gone awry can result in captivity and fear mongering, as Ingrid Rebecca Gault discusses. And as Dr. Tory Clark teaches her students, the road to empowerment is a lifelong journey.

But then featured artist Rebecca Fox’s imagery of the phoenix struck a chord in me, as did her quote - “the phoenix is in control of her own rebirth.” That line turned my perspective around, and guided much of my approach to this issue. It just so happened that the wonderful work in this issue has a common theme

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“phoenix� by rebecca fox

of her own REBIRTH Who holds the key in your life? How will you unlock yourself and align with the cosmos? Through which medium will your expression flow?

a broken bottle, a letter, never sent an empty nest once thrived with life but the birds now fly

When Wildflower was in its early stages of inception, the imagery of a phoenix is what lead me to the concept of its name. A wildflower perseveres in heat, and remains both beautiful and strong.

the phoenix soars, igniting the sky with freedom and passion but the rain will come too soon we rise up with every intention of falling

Here we all emerge from ashes into flame, with our words illuminated, our souls ignited.

from the thorns of a cactus is where a wildflower grows; and ashes are just remnants of a fire that once burned.

Happy reading, Ashley Hennefer Wildflower Editor

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l id fluidity featured artist : rebecca fox 9

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a mushroom

comfort in color

About six years, four of them serious. I was never really very interested in art until the summer before my freshman year of high school, when I found myself bored with nothing to do. My father suggested painting one day, and it all sort of mushroomed from there. I spent a lot time just immersing myself in the subject, understanding what art is all about. Then I began studying oil painting, life drawing, the technical stuff. It's only recently however, that I've begun to discover my own artistic identity and what it is that I want to achieve.

I suppose oil painting would be my base of comfort. I love the buttery texture and how it moves on the canvas, as well as the vibrancy of the colors. I love color. Especially strong rich colors. For that reason, I have been leaning towards a thick impasto style. I think it gives a life to the work and allows each color to stand on it's own. When it comes to medium however, I try to be open. I think about what it is that I'm trying to achieve with a particular project, and what would best achieve that. Of course, you have to know your limits. You can't expect to be a master of a medium that you've never used before, just for one little piece.

well-rounded I am about halfway into my Bachelor's of Arts. I'm also looking into doing a dual degree, adding information systems: the computer/technology side of business.

classic heart

many hats to wear It's hard to say at this point [what my career goals are]. I am keeping my options open, and there are several directions that I may go in. I will definitely continue to work as an artist and develop my work - it can't be helped. I'm pretty sure I have at least one novel in me, and maybe a graphic novel as well. Oh and movies. I would love to create a film, even if it's just a short. I guess you could say I have big plans for myself. I don't like to narrow myself down to any one thing. If it's creative, I'll probably try it. July 2011 :: w i l d f l o w e r

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My old oil painting teacher [inspired me]. A brilliant Russian portrait artist who just happened to teach Saturday classes at my local recreation center. I was so lucky to find her; she is an amazing teacher and mentor. My technique has changed a lot, but she gave me an eye for color and a love for the paint. Other than that, I have a huge admiration for the masters, not just the traditional "old masters" but those of the 19th and 20th centuries. I think anything can be inspiring really, and it all just kind of accumulates into something new.


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other inspirations. Maybe that person then writes a story, and out come threads of blue and red woven together. And then perhaps, an artist reads that story, and even without knowing where the idea came from, a painting appears, spilling out blue, red, green, and purple threads, ready and waiting for an eager pair of eyes. I'm also interested in abnormal psychology, especially complex post traumatic stress relating to childhood trauma and its connection to multiple personality disorder, pathological lying, and panic disorders. I have recently been mulling over the best way to represent these ideas.

phoenix rising The Phoenix image [on the cover] is essentially about the idea of rising from the ashes. I've had experiences where bad circumstances have led to better things and I think also made me a stronger person. It's the idea that a person can rise up and out of negative situations through their own willpower, even if it's difficult, and find something better. In that way, I think it's a very empowering image. The phoenix is in control of her own rebirth. The Walking Woman image was inspired in part by the "walking man" sculptures of Rodin, Boccioni and Giacometti. All of those represented humanity in their journey through life. The walking woman is the same way. Life moves past her through her, and is influenced by her presence. She is determined and strong, but does not lose the beauty of her female grace and form. I think it raises questions about what it means to be a woman and a human being, and how we interact with our world.

nerdpower Every Halloween I put way too much effort into really dorky costumes! Last year, I was Wasp from Marvel Comics.

so meta Lately I've been inspired by the concept of inspiration itself. I think of inspiration like threads of color that flow from one person to another. Someone says or does something, so that piece of their mind (maybe a light blue) drifts out where it's heard by another, who takes it into their mind, where it mixes and intermingles with new thoughts, 13

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Clinical sexologist Dr. Tory Clark helps women find inner strength and the power of their own sexuality

EMPOWERMENT Empowerment is not an unfamiliar word to any woman worth her salt. The modern day female seeks to be empowered, to be in control of her own life. But what does this look like for different women? Dr. Tory Clark, a clinical sexologist, led a six-week sexual empowerment course to help women explore their own answers to this question. The workshop centered around discussion, reading, and reflection, and was hosted at the Institute for Inspired Living in Reno, Nevada.

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A welcoming, exotic scent greets visitors, a promising first impression. The lobby, decorated with scarves and various pretty things, evokes a sense of spirituality and peace. The women - diverse in age, ethnicity, background and orientation gather in a dimly lit room with a mirror that spans the length of a wall. Pillows, candles, flowers and photographs adorn the room. The class begins under the instruction of Jill Marlene, dancer extraor-

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dinaire, who leads the women through an assortment of stretches. She encourages them to locate the areas of tension in their bodies. The women are paired, and Marlene teaches them the basics of Thai massage. One woman yelps as a friend finds a sensitive spot on the bottom of her foot. Marlene takes this as an opportunity to address the different places women store stress and emotion. A quick round of belly dancing produces laughter and liveliness and a

questioned if sex outside of a relationship would allow her to find strength, or if she preferred to keep intimacy sacred. Another shared the impact a serious illness had on her marriage and her own self-confidence. Dr. Clark gently provoked critical thinking when a woman expressed an opinion or emotion. While no major life decisions were made, the facilitated discussion gave women a chance to share their concerns and joys with strangers, who eventually became confidants and friends. Ultimately, it appeared that the greatest power achieved was a sense

chance for the women to explore their sensual features without the pressure of a lover. After the exercise, Dr. Clark sat with the women in a circle on the floor. The participants pulled out the required reading - For Yourself, by Lonnie Barbach, Ph.D, a book that helps women connect, both physically and emotionally, to the potential of their sexuality. As the discussion unfolds, the women’s identies begin to shine through. One young woman

of community and mutual respect, and reflected upon the women as individuals unique, beautiful, whole. • Dr. Clark offers regular workshops, classes and sessions featuring a variety of topics. Her website is http://www.toryclark.com, and you can also find her on the Sex in the Biggest Little City Facebook page. Photographs taken from Dr. Clark’s website.

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e s c a p i n g escaping you by jessica ross

The only downside to living alone is that I’m by myself when I wonder “Will tonight be the night?” I’m by myself when I hear those terrible noises that are hopefully just a noisy neighbor or a storm heading this way and hopefully aren’t you, finally coming to finish things. I remember when you told me that you loved me and I remember thinking that you were lying, because real love doesn’t hurt like yours did. It doesn’t leave bruises like yours did. I’m not sure you even know what the word means, but I never concerned myself with love when I was with you. I was more concerned about my safety. I changed the locks when I kicked you out, but you had fun reminding me how easy it would be for you to break down the door and July 2011 :: w i l d f l o w e r

you

get in. You sent me flowers at work to show me that I couldn’t escape you. The card said “Tag!” and my co-workers thought it was cute, but I know what it meant. You had found me. Thud! That’s probably my horrid neighbors, stomping around upstairs. They always keep me up at night, throwing things around and running up and down the stairs. Surely it isn’t you; surely you’ve tormented me enough and now you’re moving on. Thud! Crack! My neighbors went out of town yesterday. They said they wouldn’t be back until the end of the week. Maybe it’s a storm. It’s certainly loud enough to be a thunder storm that appeared rather quickly right above my apartment. Surely you 16


f l a s h

f i c t i o n

b y

would not ignore the restraining order. Thud! I scoot to the edge of my bed and lift the curtain. Clear skies. Maybe the neighbors came back early. Very early. Surely you’re not still angry enough with me to attack. Thud! Crash! I hear my front door wrenched violently open and all of my “surely”s go out the window. I turn to face the bedroom door and wait, but not for long. You crash into my bedroom, preceded by the reek of all of the alcohol that has fed your rage tonight. I stare you in the eyes as you advance, wondering how you turned out so very wrong. I stare you in the eyes, hoping that I never let the darkness take me like you did. I watch as you raise your battered old baseball

j e s s i ca

ross

bat, remorseless and ready to strike. Bang! You look surprised, and I smile. You weren’t expecting that because I cried that time I accidentally ran over a bird on the freeway. You weren’t expecting that because I let you push me around for so long and said nothing about the abuse. You weren’t expecting that because you expected me to just sit there and take it like I used to. You weren’t expecting it and you try desperately to make the bleeding stop, while keeping an eye on the gun in my hands. You weren’t expecting that I would do whatever I had to in order to win my freedom from you. •

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PRETTY in

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Sarah Hearts Sarah Khandjian is a graphic designer and creates social stationery, posters, and illustrations. She also runs a blog with the same name that features food, design, art, wedding inspiration, and color palettes. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design from Florida State University and has been in business since 2007. “I started making handmade things in college to help pay for my tuition,” Sarah said. While much of her inspiration comes from photography, Sarah is also inspired from nature and travel. “I love being outside,” she said. Sarah is also drawn to other artistic mediums. “I love printmaking, especially screen printing. I also love sewing. I'm a big fan of combining digital vector illustrations with printmaking and sewing.” Sarah’s blog and online shop can be found at her website, sarahhearts.com. You can also follow her projects at her Facebook page, Sarah Hearts, and on Twitter @sarahkhandjian.

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Washing Collard Greens July 2011 :: w i l d f l o w e r

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a story

by Beverly Head “Come here! Hurry up!” My mother yells from the kitchen. I’m on my bed reading. I don’t want to be disturbed. “I know you hear me! Come here!” She yells again. I close my book and go to the kitchen. “What?” I say, agitated because she has taken me away from my book. She is standing by the kitchen door holding one hand to her chest and pointing at the sink with the other hand. Her head is turned away from me. “Get it out of the sink,” she says. When I look into the double sink, I see only collard greens floating in water on one side and nothing on the other side. “Get what?” I ask although I know why she has called me. “Get that worm!” she hisses, getting mad at me because she knows I’m just being stubborn. 25

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“I don’t see a worm,” I say collard greens for days. My mother because I want to fix her for making ignores me, takes out cigarettes and me put my book down. matches, and sits holding them in her She rolls her eyes at me, and I hand. know she is planning to come up with “I guess if you’re going to some way to punish me later, so I stick start smoking I’m gone. I was about to my hands into the water and pull up help you pick those peas, but I’m not collard leaves. As the water drips breathing second hand smoke.” Of back down I scan for worms. Finally, I course, I had no plans to help pick the see a tiny white one who looks dead. peas. I just want to irritate her about “Do you mean this little thing?” smoking. “I don’t care how little it is. Just She doesn’t say anything. throw it away or rinse it down the sink. Finally, she takes out a cigarette, lights Then finish picking it, and starts smokand washing those ing. She drops the She doesn’t say anything. match into a plate collard greens beFinally, she takes out a cause I can’t stand of spaghetti left cigarette, lights it, and seeing another over from lunch. worm today.” starts smoking. She drops Soon she is tap After I pry the match into a plate of ping ashes on top the worm from the of the spaghetti as spaghetti left over from leaf, I thump it into well. the trash can. My lunch. Soon she is tapping I start waving ashes on top of the mother jumps back cigarette smoke spaghetti as well. although she is away from my nowhere near the face. She still trash can. ignores me. She I grumble as I pick up each keeps tapping ashes onto the food. It collard leaf, look at it carefully on both looks disgusting. Ashes soon cover sides, and then throw it into the other the dried up sauce and pale gooey sink. I can’t believe that I have had to noodles. I start to say that the noodles stop reading to pick and wash collard look like worms, but I don’t. I wonder greens. how she can sit and look at something My mother sits at the kitchen so nasty. Finally, I give up trying to table and begins picking the peas that bother her about the smoking and the our neighbor has brought from a farm ash tapping. in the country. Thank God! I think. Peas When I leave the kitchen, don’t have worms. she is still smoking and tapping ashes. When I finish I let out a sigh She looks tired. Her hair is still in pink as if I have been picking and washing foam rollers. They have been in her July 2011 :: w i l d f l o w e r

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hair for almost a week. Each day she “I guess not.” puts the same green scarf over them She looks at me. “Thanks for and goes about her routine. Her black finishing up the collards.” and orange house coat is faded and “You’re welcome. Just don’t call raggedy around the hem. Scuffed up me anymore. I’m trying to read.” shoes cover her dry, ashy feet. She ignores me and lights I feel a moment of pity. She is another cigarette. starting to look sad I am about like my grandmother “Why are you so scared to complain, but I did before she left to of worms?” I ask my don’t. I go back to my live with my uncle in mother when I return bedroom. Cincinnati. My grand Later when I to the kitchen to get a look in the kitchen afmother is scared of root beer. She is still sit- ter I finish reading my worms and snakes. ting at the table. Almost broke her book, she is still sitting neck one day jumpat the kitchen table, ing off the front porch “Don’t start asking me smoking and putting steps because she out cigarettes in the a lot of questions. I thought my jump rope leftover spaghetti. don’t feel like answering was a snake. She looks up when I them.” “Why are you walk in but then looks so scared of worms?” back down. I ask my mother when I return to the I don’t ask any questions or kitchen to get a root beer. She is still complain about the cigarettes and sitting at the table. the ashes. Without being asked to, I “Don’t start asking me a lot of put water in the pressure cooker and questions. I don’t feel like answering begin putting the collard greens in to them.” cook for dinner. “I only asked one question.” “Well, I have one answer. I’m scared of them. Your grandmother and your aunts are scared of them. I guess your grandmother passed that fear down to all of us.” “Well, it didn’t get passed down to me. You ought to be glad of that. I guess those collard greens wouldn’t have gotten picked and washed today if I had inherited that jumping around over little worms.” 27

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I awoke, in a tunnel: inverted, a well that twisted and turned, at times I had to climb upward: reach, at times I could walk straight: forward, head up, head down, eyes front: on the ground. The walls were dark to match my path, moist and slick stone: my hands always sliding at times I could not move: frozen, too hard to go up, too much rubble ahead, so I clung to the rock waiting: patient. At what seemed to be the end, lights: flickering, tiny morsels, my hope, spread out: scarce, I moved toward them, not yet there, but they were with me, around me: in me, guiding me out of the dreaded darkness. It took me a while before I knew: One of those lights was always you.

by angela spires 29

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Back to the Cradle: Religion, Reproductive Rights, and Regression by Ingrid Rebecca Gault

Many of you may remember the infamous “Ashley Case,” the bioethical drama that caused a media uproar in early 2007. Don’t remember? The media infamously referred to it as the “Pillow Angel Case.” The young, mentally disabled patient was surgically altered so she would remain perpetually prepubescent, like a surgically-created Peter Pan. Interesting points for and against the series of procedures were made by both the doctors involved and their critics. For example, a less developed Ashley would be much easier to treat. Not to mention that she is only able to comprehend the world at a child’s level, so it isn’t fair to allow Time to thrust her into a woman’s body (with all the inherent responsibilities). However, many doctors have criticized the procedures as overly risky, and others accuse the parents of turning their daughter into a pet. Is that an unfair accusation? I thought so at first. It would seem more unfair were it not for this little gem. “I know they love their daughter. But they refer to her as the pillow angel. I know that's meant to be a sweet term, but it's terminally infantalizing.” (1) (empha-

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sis added). So said Ms. Julia Epstein, mother of a disabled child and champion of disability rights. And it is. I mean, it’s understandable to approve this procedure for the best interests of the child herself. Possibly not right, but understandable. What I don’t understand is this demeaning term being bandied about. Pillow angel. A child being tragically kept from reaching his/her full potential as a human being is not something to make a cute nickname about. Perhaps the accusations of infantilization or the parents’ benefit might not sound so convincing without the cutesy nicknames. The religiosity of Ashley’s parents is frequently mentioned. “The God we know wants Ashley to have a good quality of life,” say her parents (2). Fair enough. The God of the Bible has no problem keeping young people infantilized. The 5th Commandment (or the 4th if you are a Catholic) is a clear prerogative for children to slavishly obey parental authority, with no exemptions for cruel or abusive parents, or else have their lives cut short. Their deity is repeatedly referred to as “The Father” and we are all “His children” who have no choice but to bow to his unquestioned authority. The situation is worse if you are saddled with two X chromosomes. A female Christian is expected to remain a child for her entire life, subservient to first her father and then to her husband, even if she is in a position of authority. Michele Bachmann, presidential hopeful, confirmed that in her opinion, “you are to be submis-

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sive to your husband,” (3) even allowing him to force her into a career path she hated! Hear that? That’s the sound of feminism taking two massive leaps back. Is the first Madam President going to be remembered as a demure, simpering little girl who cannot stand on her own as a leader? And must lean on her husband, no less? What does all this have to do with reproductive rights? Everything. Focus on the Family is an association that promotes “traditional” values, shunning information about sexpositivity in favor of abstinence education. They use studies showing that many adolescent girls don’t know how to use condoms as proof that contraceptive education does not work. Sounds counterintuitive, but listen to the justification for their stance. “We were not placed on this earth for our own enjoyment or with the ability to be our own judge. God is our creator, our sustainer and our judge” (4). What? Isn’t that the definition of maturity and independence? Isn’t that part of being a fully functioning adult woman, the ability to judge right and wrong? So a young, naïve teenage girl is supposed to make an unknowable, invisible, and most likely imaginary force her moral guide, and interestingly enough, that moral guide always agrees with her parents! How about that! Mom and Dad (especially Dad) must be something special and superior if they alone have access to the ultimate moral authority, the Alpha and the Omega.

This was how tribal leaders, priests, kings, tyrants, and cult leaders cemented their authority. From the “Family International” to “Papa Doc” Duvalier to Mata “The Hugging Saint” Amritanandamayai to the clerics of the Catholic church referred to as “Father” or “Mother”, illegitimate authority has a long history of subverting repressed longings of nurture to bind human “adults” to its service. It’s about time the human race (especially us women, who after all this time, should know better!) to mature out of this need. It’s gotten us into too much trouble. A famous bumper sticker summed it up well, “Instead of being Born Again, why don’t you just Grow Up?” Ingrid Rebecca Gault is a feminist skeptic writer. She is active in the youth rights movement, government transparency, information rights, women’s rights, the New Atheist movement, and science awareness. Read more about her at www.wildflowermagazine.com. 1 - Time Magazine. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1575325,00.html#ixzz1RTNEEgzp 2 - The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1538646/Ashley-the-pillow-angel-love-or-madness. html 3 - Slate.com http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2011/07/05/michele_bachmann_claims_to_be_submissive_to_her_husband_.html 4 - Focus on the Family. http://www.focusonthefamily.com/ socialissues/abstinence/abstinence-before-marriage/cause-forconcern.aspx

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Faces of Autism: A Week in the Life by Meredith White Monday 2:30 Beaming at me across the table, front tooth missing. Her hair is cut into a chin length bob, accented with a Hello Kitty headband. Red spots mark her cheeks where she has been pulling ever so slightly at the skin for the last 7 or 8 minutes, gone unnoticed by my young client in her excitement to tell me about the zoo. As she swivels in her chair before erupting in repetitive kicking at the table, I catch a glimpse of her leggings, striped red and white. I calmly remind my young client about practicing sitting while we talk, and I see Hello Kitty’s twin and three friends spanning her t-shirt, layered over a long sleeved henley. The marks on her face are just fading away as she starts curling her tongue at me. I smile and reply with a tongue curl, and raise her a fish face. She giggles, makes a fish face, and starts talking about her pet fish. She sits still. July 2011 :: w i l d f l o w e r

Thursday 9:00 “Chugga Chugga Choo Choo!” I say, hoping to get any of the attention span I can from a 2 year old. He looks up at me, all blue eyes and white blonde hair. The dry winter has given him static patches here and there, rendering him slightly disheveled. He giggles and repeats a line about going “over the bridge.” In our 10 minutes of train play, I have heard this idea maybe 25 times. Again, I change my voice, hoping to catch his attention and draw him into my game. Under the longest eyelashes, he tracks my Thomas Train momentarily before getting up and walking away. In one final, desperate attempt at reciprocal play, I send the train rolling across the carpet, top speed, until it ricochets off of his shoe. Interrupted in his exhausted eye and ear rubbing, he turns to me, belly laughs, and sends the trains back. I am energized, a new game. 32


Wednesday 5:00 He glances up, scowls, and puts his head back on the table. I wait, ready to give him all the time we have in hopes that he will pull himself out of this without my facilitation. As we sit in silence, I note his Pokemon shirt and see his jeans, too short. Freckles haphazardly mark his face, and his braces give him an ever present pout. I remember this feeling, a mouth that doesn’t want to close, and empathize. “Let’s take a break for a minute, and then try working again.” I get no response, and start to worry that this is a shut down out of my league. Have I waited too long? Am I pushing too hard? I start to whistle, sketching a picture on my notebook. Within seconds, I know I’ve chosen the right tactic. Incredibly gifted at drawing, he cannot resist looking to see what his therapist would be drawing. I’ve chosen right again, miraculously, and my aimless geometric designs are just different enough from his careful exotic creatures to capture his curiosity. I’m in. As we slowly start to discuss the drawings we like to do, I hand him some paper. His bangs poke through his eyelashes as he starts to draw. Busy at work, I ask casually again about the incident at school, determined to problem solve with this client even if I have to trick him into it. Before long, he is drawing a cartoon of what happened, and I’m hearing his side of the story.

Monday 3:30 He is smiling, mischievous. I feign calm while my mind panics, wondering what he will do next. I’ve survived playful attacks of Legos flying by my head, unexpected darts for the door (resulting in my bolting out of my own chair to lunge for the handle), and forced burps, all in hopes of getting a reaction from me. I gaze at his striped shirt, noticing that it is the same one I saw his twin brother wear last week, as we silently take turns playing Connect Four. “Crap,” I think, stopping myself. This is no time for my mind to wander. He will notice when I’m starting to lose my edge, and make his move, incredibly intuitive about the first signs of adult inattention. I pull him back into the game, and then work for one more turn, desperate to increase his participation and practice this simple social skill for even a few minutes. His brown eyes are hard to read. I see that his hands, very dark brown and incredibly smooth looking, are still relaxed. This means I have a few more minutes of expected behavior. “My Turn,” I say, exaggeratedly placing my red coin on a row that is already full. It drops onto the table and I giggle loudly, hoping to get a reaction. Happily, my client starts to giggle uncontrollably, and doesn’t stop until he has repeated this trick several times. Uh oh, I think. I’ve created a monster. Clean up time is sure to be chaos.

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life

The Benefits of Transitional Living

after

by Erin Moreira, Launching Pad Empowerment Center

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Transitional living; when you hear those words, what comes to mind? If you imagine a supportive and familystyle environment that exists to help individuals regain stability in their lives without the use of mind or mood altering substances, you are absolutely correct. Launching Pad Empowerment Center (LPEC) is a transitional living facility for adult men and women who are on a road to recovery. The at-risk population to which LPEC provides services are those who are just exiting treatment or incarceration, are homeless, or at imminent risk of becoming homeless. Two of the common misconceptions LPEC addresses are that treatment means a successful recovery for all, and that prison will usually straighten out any individual who spends enough time there. Unknown to many however, is that treatment is only one piece of a very complex puzzle, and prison is often only a temporary fix to a larger problem. Addiction affects everyone. In some way or another, all of our lives have been touched by addiction. July 2011 :: w i l d f l o w e r

Friends, family members, significant others, the homeless woman on the street who is asking for spare change, the successful business man who was recently laid off, or the boy whose mother abandoned him, leaving only his abusive, substance abusing father in charge of his future. Addiction is a disease that does not discriminate against gender, age, race, religion, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status. Although the statistics of drug or alcohol abuse are higher in those who grow up in dysfunctional families with a history of substance abuse, addiction in many forms can disrupt the life of any individual. Even a child who grows up with hardworking, sober, and loving parents with a seemingly healthy home life, could somewhere along the road, lose his or her way and end up in a cycle of addiction. One of the most detrimental characteristics of addiction is that it can begin for reasons that others may not understand. Depending on the individual, virtually anything can elicit addictive behaviors, although there are some common triggers, such as: stress, pain, sadness, anger, depression, exhaustion, and peer pressure, which is introducing a life of alcohol and drug addiction to children at increasingly younger ages. Addiction can begin slowly or envelop one within days or weeks. Coping becomes almost impossible without the drug of choice, and living becomes virtually unbearable. Upon falling victim to addiction, everything begins to spiral into 36


chaos; families are shattered, children are neglected and put in danger, people are killed, or incarcerated, lives are destroyed, and the community is weakened. After the breakdown, in an attempt to make a normal life for themselves, some individuals, whether by force or free will, enter treatment. While in treatment, struggling addicts begin to pick up the larger pieces of their broken lives and spirits. They begin piecing themselves back together with the help of counselors in a clinical setting. Much like a crystal vase that has been shattered on the floor, the larger pieces are picked up and glued back together, yet the microscopic shards of glass are left scattered on the floor. Similarly, the larger pieces of glass are the core of the individual, and the smaller, barely visible pieces are the addiction; still existent but no longer unmanageable. However, if there is no plan or support for the individual once treatment is completed, it is very easy for the addictive behaviors to resurface. Addiction breaks people down and treatment lifts them back up and helps them grow stronger and health-

ier. Even then, however, there are still cracks and necessary components missing from the lives of those fresh out of treatment. Although former drug addicts and alcoholics graduate treatment and exit as stronger individuals with a clean slate, what do they really know about living in the community as entirely self-sufficient individuals? Are they fully aware of what they need to do in order to create a life for themselves, without the use of mind or mood altering substances? Individuals who are leaving treatment face many challenges. Among these, loss of a stable home situation is in the forefront. Recognizing that a stable and supportive home environment is essential to successful recovery, LPEC provides this to individuals who share the common goal of recovery. Recovery is not a process that occurs overnight, and millions of addicts and alcoholics have proven that recovery is also not something that can be accomplished alone. Additionally, many individuals lack a healthy support system, have not achieved a high school diploma or equivalent, and do not maintain the necessary life skills for a successful reintegration into society. For these reasons, communal sober living is advised after treatment. This is where LPEC comes in. During their stay at LPEC, residents are taught basic life skills such as timeliness, professionalism, communication skills, job and interview etiquette, tools for healthy relationships, relapse 37

w i l d f l o w e r :: July 2011


prevention tools, and even basic auto mechanics. Without these important skills, it is difficult for the individual to reintegrate into society and begin living independently and more importantly, stay sober. Transitional living facilities such as LPEC utilize the skills that individuals learn in treatment and apply them to everyday living. Through a transitional living program, residents are given the opportunity to make mistakes and experience failure, while in an environment which allows that individual to obtain support from others in recovery. Thus, they can learn from their failures and work through them without the use of substances. The services that transitional living facilities provide to residents are essential to their well-being and continued success. Without these necessary skills, individuals exiting treatment or prison are put at a high disadvantage, having very few real-life skills for thriving in the community. LPEC allows individuals to live semi-independently, search for and obtain employment, attend daily 12-step meetings, complete their assigned chores, perform mandatory community service, abide by their curfews and pay their weekly or monthly service fees, all while in a support setting to help them through life’s struggles. In 2010 alone, LPEC provided services to 95 unduplicated residents. In essence, that means there were 95 fewer homeless, incarcerated or substance abusing individuals in the community, and 95 more individuals who July 2011 :: w i l d f l o w e r

were on their way to self-sufficiency and success. Overall, LPEC is making an impact not only on the lives of the individuals who come into the program, but also on society as a whole. Upon completion of the program, residents maintain the skills needed to be successful and active members of society. Through this program, those who, in the past, have found it almost impossible to live without the use of an addictive substance, have learned to become self-sufficient, manage their money more productively and cope with difficult situations on their own, ultimately setting them up for success in their ever brightening futures. It is through the assistance of treatment centers and the services provided by transitional living facilities that individuals who once felt hopeless have regained a sense of control in their lives. Troubled individuals are given a clean slate and a chance to start their lives over as productive, active, independent members of society. Those who were once a menace to the community are given a chance to redeem themselves and mend the pain and havoc that they have wreaked. Although it is a difficult task to overcome a life consumed by addiction, it is possible. At LPEC, every day miracles are performed, lives are changed, and desperate individuals experience the hope that exists in this broken world in which we live. • To learn more about LPEC, go to http://www.launchingpadnv.com.

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// submit // august 2011

the science fiction issue Submit your best science fiction and fantasy photography, stories, poetry, digital art and more. Go to the SUBMIT page at www.wildflowermagazine.com.

Deadline // August 15th, 2011 Midnight

be wild. 39

w i l d f l o w e r :: July 2011


Wildflower Magazine | July 2011  

The July 2011 issue of Wildflower Magazine.

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