Cry Purple

One woman's journey through homelessness, crack addiction, and prison, to blindness, motherhood, and happiness

Just Wanting To Work and Pay Taxes!

Posted by crypurple on April 12, 2013

Hey guys,

Okay, so I attended a workshop for job seekers this week, as although I am making a little money doing some contract work here and there, I would like a stable paying job in between.

As we went around the room, the leader of the class  asked me “Ms. McDonald, have you thought about being on disability?” I said, “Why? I am able to work and I like being a working, tax-paying member of my community.” His response was, “But wouldn’t it be easier to be on disability and find a hobby?”

I said, “Well, I am co-founder of a church without walls for the homeless, I do ex-offender work in the community, I work on projects for human trafficking victims, and I do groups at local treatment centers, and I am a published author, and a mom to boot I think I have a hobby or two, but I want to work and earn a pay check.

I have bills to pay just like everyone else, and I have strengths and adaptive technology in today’s age allows me/ the blind to do what the sighted do in many jobs.

My barriers are my criminal record, and people like you that think I should get a government check and make your job easier.”

I am just always floored by people’s thoughts when I show up at regular stuff as a regular person, but I think this really got my goat!

I have had employers struggle to speak when I show up for interviews.  A couple of times, it was the response, “You’re blind!”

“Yes, I am”, I say.  Then they respond, “I had no idea.” I tell them,  “Well, it is not on the job application, so of course you wouldn’t know, but you called me in for the interview,  based on my  application and or resume.” Then, I end it with, “Shall we proceed?”

Or I interview with someone who is impressed that I show up, blind, and is eager to consider my placement, but then the felonies come up on my record and this is an issue/ concern.

I can handle the blind thing, or I can handle the felony thing, but not both! That seems to be the mindset of the employer!

Do these folks that are interviewing me not realize that they call me in to the interview, often after not only the job application process, but also a telephone screening?  These things are based on my responses, and my talents on paper.  However, their closed minds see the blind thing as a safety hazard, or too much work, or who knows what is going on in their minds?

My criminal history is long ago, and I get the concerns but really, I am blind. Do they think I would steal a car???

I think this issue takes me to that whole equality thing. I think food stamps should be for all felons, or none at all and not taken just from drug felons.

I think it should be a fair tool for all Americans as a tool for a stepping stone when an economic status changes, but I think it should be capped.  While getting the assistance,I think mandatory  trade school or college should be given if they are on the services  for more than 6 months!

I believe in learning to not be dependent on the government for housing again that should be a short term hand up.

I get it  when we are talking about the disabled, or seniors. Yes, I know, you guys.  I have no eye balls, but that does not make me disabled; it makes me without sight. I see myself as very abled, just have to do things a bit differently.

Now, I can’t work a fast food line or drive a taxi or be a pizza delivery gal, but I can be a receptionist, or customer service person at a call center. I can do nonprofit work as that is what I have done for the past 7 years.

My messy past has given me much insight to work with homeless, ex-offenders, disabled, addicts, or any other group that is socially or economically disenfranchised.

I am for equality and learned self-sufficiency – is that so bad?

The sad part of all this is that I have been to a number of job training programs that seem to just let me sit in the class, but I am the elephant in the room that they don’t address.

Or I get the have you considered disability?

The sad thing is if they take time to read my resume, or read my recommendation letters or speak to those I have worked for or with in the past, they will all get the same thing – if there is a way to do the job she will figure it out!

I remember when I became the program manager for a nonprofit in Kansas City.  It was a promotion after being a case  manager/program assistant.  I needed to do staffing and more meetings, and community relationship building and I needed a ride.  The public transportation would limit how many places I could get to during the day and not allow me to smoothly go from one place to the next in a time efficient manner so I chose to purchase a car!

Now I am a single, blind mom with an amazing little boy who just turned 7.  At the time of this situation, I needed to get him to day care and me to the office.  Then from the office, I needed to take care of business.

If I wanted/desired to do what the sighted do in mainstream employment, I had to be willing to maybe work a little extra at home, off the clock, or do something like purchase a car, to uphold my duties of my job!

I applied to purchase a car from a number of places. I showed up at a number of places. Then, at long last, a friend from church said to come by and we would talk!

He sold me a car; it was a one owner Toyota Camry.

I had no driver’s license; all I wanted was someone to take my money, so I could buy a car and hire a driver!

I have no eyes, I was not going to drive, but I went through 33 car dealerships/used car lots before someone would sell me a car.

He stepped past my blind thing. He did say, “I am not sure this is ethical but at least I know I am selling you a good car.”

After that, he told me often that telling people how he sold a car to blind gal was better than the biggest fish tale he would tell. He sold a car to a gal without eye balls!

We humans limit ourselves and limit chances for others with our preconceived thoughts of what we think we know.

Okay I am a single mom. I can’t get food stamps for life, due to my drug felonies. I choose not to get disability, because I enjoy working and paying taxes. When I was not making enough to survive and pay rent with just unemployment, I wrote a book about my life to add to our income a creative way to help me help myself without Government assistance.

But really, I just want a job, a paycheck, and a little place to call our own. I live within my means in a tiny one bedroom apartment with my son who is 7. We have a bunk bed, but no yard.

But I dream of a little two bedroom modest place, with a fenced yard, so I can have a guide dog, and oh yes, a job!

Society has a closed mind. I will continue seeking work and know there is an employer that will give me a chance. I also know that employer will have a wonderful, hard-working employee, as all I am seeking is a fair chance!

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My First Trip To The State Capital And Beyond

Posted by crypurple on February 21, 2013

I will never forget the first time I went on a journey to the state capital to testify in  an attempt to  lift our State’s life time food stamp ban and TANF ban for convicted drug felons.

I had had one eye removed  and a  prosthetic already in it, but the left eye had just been taken out days before.  The skin around my eye socket was still bruised from the eye removal, and was without a  prosthetic.  So, with  just an open empty socket, I wore  dark shades to cover the ugly gaping hole in the side of my face.

They called my name to speak. I had made this journey with a  wonderful group in Kansas City that had agreed that the food stamp and TANF bans were not helpful to those that change their lives.  Every other American can get food stamps if they lose their job or become injured in a car wreck, or on the job, or any other life changing event that  lessens their economic  status.

The leader of the group that I  partner with, or shall I say they invited me to join in,  saw my past mistakes and life change as a strength,  that all offenders are not bad offenders

People do change.

And if we help to open doors to those like jobs, housing, and even food stamps (if they meet the requirements), they should be allowed this basic staple of life – food.

A criminal/offender is less apt to re-offend  if they can find work.  It is wise, in that it builds safer communities and saves taxpayer’s money, to create opportunities for those returning from the prison system to our communities, whether that be food stamps if they lose their job and their economic status changes, or just a job, or fair housing.

I remember the lady on the House Committee  interrupting.  She asked” Is this really a law in Missouri?  Can I get information on such a law?”

The current speaker  said,  “Yes, in fact a pedophile, or murderer can receive food stamps if they are in need in our State, if they meet the economic guidelines  as every other Missourian.  However,  anyone with a drug related felony only is banned for life, with no exceptions.

I spoke – I took off my glasses, and said I did not get food stamps  when I  lived in a park.  I had nowhere to store or cook food.  Now I have been clean a number of years, and am totally blind.  I was a single parent, needing the same resources other American’s  can tap into.   However, at the time of this hearing at the capital, I did not need the food stamps.  I had a salaried job in non-profit management.  I just wanted to be that visual example that life happens  beyond our control.  My blindness/eye removal was not related to my drug usage,  and I, for sure, did not ask to have to have both my eyes taken out and to live in total darkness with no chance of sight restoration. I shared that everything is not always black and white.

People change.

If  convicted felons are trying to do the right thing,  after they do their time,  and are turned down job after job after job due to their mistake,  then they are banned from something so simple as food, the State saying No, you did drugs. Never in life may you tap into  such a resource that every other  American can. Then landlords  refuse to rent to you  once you find a job, due to your criminal history,  and you are forced to live in the ‘hood, or the seedy, drug infested areas of a community where slum lords are the only ones willing to rent to you.  Time passes, and you are still doing the right things, and you have now a family.

Believe it or not,  even felons doing the right thing wants the best for their family,  like a good education for their children, a safe place to live so their children  and family are safe. And that maybe their children won’t make the same poor choices that they have made.

Our expectations of a convicted drug felon in our state is not to just give out food stamps, it is for people to meet the same requirements, as anyone   else would have to and that they have to go and complete treatment and prove they are staying clean.

But who are we  as people that totally  paint a picture that you are not worthy of Food, never in  life  will you change?

It really does save taxpayer’s money by opening doors for offenders to find jobs and housing.  If they are paying their own taxes by working, we are saving ourselves, at least in the State of Missouri, about 21,500 dollars a year that it costs to house a non violent drug  offender.

I worked in non-profit management for a number of years.  I lost my job in November when all 12 of our offices in the state closed their doors.

I have had about 45 interviews , and today my criminal history still keeps me banned for employment.

Today I am on unemployment, and do not draw disability,  and still can’t tap into food stamps.

I, just as many other offenders/ex-offenders, just want to be a tax-paying member of my community. I just want a chance to bring up my 6 year old in a safe area, and allow him to attend good schools.  Of course, I chose to find a creative way to attempt to help myself when I saw that finding a new job was  going to be a battle, even with a good solid work history,  as people just see felon and judge.

Or people see I am blind, and judge, what can a blind person  do?

I took my time in this to continue to grow by finishing my book, so I could share some of the social struggles  people such as myself face, some of society’s barriers and misunderstood perceptions of the lifestyles people have.

I will continue each  day  to pray for a job, applying  and showing up.  Someone will, I know for sure, in time, offer me another chance, My last  trip to prison was for a parole violation in 2004. I was there a short time with no new charges. I walked down my last 2 years of parole and got off all paper in 2006.  I have gotten a GED and gone to college and worked for 5 years at the same job after college.  However, the world around me sees the labels,  not the person.

Almost five years have passed since that first trip to the State’s capital.  I have seen politicians change their thoughts.  I have heard so many people say surely that is not a law here.. I am  always surprised when I  learn that (and  here we go, again)  an organization that works with felons, or a  politician is unaware of our State’s lifetime food stamp ban, only for drug felons.

This year we will not make that trip.  Although we  have not given up our efforts to  turn over this ban for our fellow humans that live in Missouri,  the private sector, the citizens and others have to continue to be educated. I believe in equality; I believe that in our constitution it says we  face our  trials, a jury of our peers, and will, one day, be able to return to our communities and have a fair chance to rebuild our lives, too.

Often I question how often and how much do we have to prove we are changed –  how many accomplishments/milestones must be made.  I finally get to the point where I  realize that until those around us are educated, and their understandings/perceptions change, until the “once bad, always bad” , or the “everyone on state assistance is just out to rob taxpayers”, or the “all  drug addicts, are bad and can never change” mentalities go away,  we, the offenders/ex- offenders will have to continue to fight that battle to find  a  fair place in our own communitys as tax-paying, law-biding, community  members.

I believe we, too, one will have protection of civil rights.

Minority equality  comes in many forms, I guess.  I, as a convicted drug offender, am still seeking that equality. To live safe, to pay taxes, and to go to work each day to support my family seems like a odd concept for some, but it is my American dream.  And, of course, our little trailer with a fenced yard, and some sweet smelling flowers.

My next post will be some newspaper stories I was featured in over the last couple of years.

Once again, thanks for reading,

If you have not yet bought my book, Cry Purple,  please consider it and read the whole story/ journey I share of my road of addiction and  beyond!

Please share our story with your friends and family!

Blessings,

Christine

Here are the links to purchase the book!

About the book, Cry Purple:

Gritty and gripping, this is the story of the author’s journey from almost two decades of prostitution, crack addiction and prison to her present life of blindness, motherhood and happiness. Somehow, she has survived amazing brutality and discrimination with resilience and optimism. Review quotes: “Horrifying, heartbreaking, informative and inspiring. “A riveting memoir.” “An eye-opening view of life on the streets and beyond.” “A must-read filled with hope.”

http://www.amazon.com/Cry-Purple-Christine-McDonald/dp/1482053616/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1359053189&sr=1-1&keywords=Cry+Purple

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/cry-purple/id596642332

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cry-purple-christine-mcdonald/1114232896

Amazon link to the Kindle edition:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B3PKEM0

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/277103

http://www.dvorkin.com/cmcdonald/index.html

Visit the web site to like our page on face book, to watch a video, to contact the author directly, and more!

www.crypurple.com

Please share our grass roots effort to sell 3500 books!

Visit the web site to read and learn more!

www.crypurple.com

and if you want a personally signed copy of the book here you go!

http://crypurple.com/get-a-signed-copy-of-cry-purple/

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It’s Not Odd; It is GOD!

Posted by crypurple on February 17, 2013

Hi guys!

Before I begin this posting, thanks for all the wonderful remarks on my book.  When I read lines such as, “It has opened my eyes”, or “Changed my views”, then that is truly exciting.

Many of you know I am a Christian but I touched very little on it in my book.  Believe it or not there was a reason for that!

I wanted those still into drugs, or in prostitution –  those that might not be there yet with God –  to not be turned off and to be able to receive a message that it is never too late, no matter what you have done, to find a better path!

So from atheists to addicts active in addiction , I wanted to appeal to them and those in-between.

During my pregnancy with Ricky and after his birth, I had a fear of going out side, the whole stepping out side our tiny one room apartment –  and I don’t mean one bedroom, I mean one room apartment, where we shared a bathroom with another small apartment.

I would stand at the door entry, never stepping out alone. I found comfort and safety inside that apartment.

Matt would make me go out, for what ever reasons, and having him with me made me feel safer.

After Ricky’s birth, I had to go out and work on overcoming my fears, and learn to live my life now blind.

We moved to our small rental house in the ‘hood, just a block where I had worked the streets for years.

I cringed at the thought of going outside.

Each day, I would just do the “It is for Ricky. I have to do this” self talking – my way to do what needed to be done.   However, upon my return, I would  find myself diving deep in sadness, and I would sleep to sleep through the emotional strain of leaving the house.

With the years of my being on the streets, well, let’s say my personality was not so charming.

I would stand on corners and rant, cursing those that were from the set that would attempt to speak to me. “ I am working! Go away”!

Warm and fuzzy I was not!

At this time I was drug free, but still lacking in social skills, and charm. I had not sought God, but somehow he sought me.

One day, I was alone in our apartment. Ricky was at daycare, and Matt was at work.

Walking into our living area, I saw a vision. I immediately  stopped walking. I was totally without sight and I was seeing, as if I was watching myself along my familiar streets of Independence Avenue. I was smiling and I was giving brown bags of what I could not tell, then. I watched the receivers open the bags and begin eating sandwiches. I saw, vividly, faces of old friends as this vision/day dream, whatever you would chose to call it, moved through my mind’s eye. I sat in the living room, stunned at the experience, yet excited to have a vision while I was awake that was so real, so clear.

I’ll never forget the calm wave that came upon me and a voice that said “That is you.”

I remember saying out loud “What?  Hello?  Who’s there?”

Moments later, I had another vision. I was in a room, I was watching my self with a group of people I could not identify clearly. The faces were blurred, unlike the vision I had just moments before where I clearly knew those I was with, giving brown bags of filled with sandwiches.  Everybody was laughing and we were making these sandwiches.  It was odd,because  for many years laughter was such a stranger to me, although holding my Ricky made me smile.

Then, as if a DVD was rolling in my head, I saw in my minds eye experiences I had always questioned, “How did I live through that?” I saw me in a trunk of a car, tied up, I saw a flash of my being stabbed and pushed out of a car. I saw me being grey-taped and hog-tied, I saw myself in the room with those shooters that killed my friend.

I shuddered, those painful horrific moments in my life on the streets, each had however a common theme, a presence I could not make out.

As these horrific scenes flashed through my mind’s eye, as I was watching them happen to me in vivid color and detail, I then saw a large something –  not sure what it was…but it was massive. Then I saw a dot on it. It very quickly came into focus in my mind’s eye. I was a speck, it was me, that tiny speck on that massive plain. It was glowing and peaceful, and it was as if the object began to cup me in it and peace came over me from the disturbing flashes of experiences of my past

I was back on my old corner where I had turned tricks, giving sandwiches to a gal I had worked the streets with just a few years ago.

She was receiving a bag of food and hugging me. I was in the passenger side of a car. I found that odd, as she and I were street enemies. It was common knowledge on the streets that we disliked each other a great deal and fought on street corners often.

Then, although this all seems like it took forever, it happened in only a moment of time and  the vision was gone..

I knew deep in my heart my soul this was God.

Then one last flash came to me. As a youth I had been saved – I had given my life to Christ. I had another friend whom had done it, so I did too.

I had attended church. I would go for a few weeks then stop, go to a different church and then stop.

But I had indeed asked Christ to come into my heart.

I sobbed.

I realized then that, all along, God was with me through my journey of addiction. He was present in all of those experiences. Then I realized that he told me that I would be feeding my friends in the very area where I had existed for so many years.

I spoke out loud, as I was wiping the tears, ” But God, don’t you remember I am the blind girl now?”

I could not do that.

The last moment I had with God that day were his words. his voice saying, “Walk in faith, my child. You don’t need sight to walk in faith.”

The following day, I had a visitor, which I do share in my book, and felt I would just share that excerpt from the book…

From the book “Cry Purple”

So we moved to the little place, and my friends helped us get a few starter items for it from the thrift store. Soon afterwards, we had a visitor.

Someone was knocking at the door. I was scared to open it, but then I heard a woman say, “Hello! I’m Kris, from the church down the street.” I guess she could see me inside the house, as we were not done hanging curtains. Sometimes I have to remember that just because I can’t see, it doesn’t mean that others can’t see me!

I opened the door and let her in, and we visited. She invited us to church. It was just down the street, on the corner. I agreed. For sure, this was what I needed to continue on my path of growth, away from the streets!

Attending the church, I realized that it was located right across from my favorite corner, the one where I had worked for years, at Spruce and Independence Avenue. There were three churches there, one right on the corner. That one used to run me off all the time, or someone there would call the police if I was outside the church. The other one was on the hill across the street; it always had police parked in the parking lot ready to run me off.

Then there was this little church. It was very small, kind of like a little house, behind Sonic. I had slept in its doorway before, gotten high in the parking lot. I think I had even been invited in for service one year by someone who was going into the church on a Sunday morning. At the time, I was walking to the corner to work, returning from a dope house. I had of course kept walking.

Now here I sat inside that same church. I asked someone, wanting to make sure I was correct in my thinking about where it was. I was.

Feeling a connection, feeling drawn to attend, I joined that little church and got baptized. When I was taken out of the baptism water, I asked, while wiping the water away, in front of the congregation, “Can I join your outreach team now?”

You see, I had a dream. I had a vision of something pulling at my heart strings. But I knew I couldn’t do it alone.

They agreed, and I started attending the meetings. I sat in a meeting listening to their plans to reach out to the community. At last I had a moment to speak. I asked, “What about the homeless addicts and prostitutes who exist outside here, along this street?”

I told them that when we’re in addiction, it totally governs our thoughts. We don’t think about spending money on food. It isn’t on purpose; it’s like bondage. You mean to buy food, but then you think about what you did for that money, and it’s easier to get high, to wash away that thought, the guilt and shame. You’re fighting off the emotions with drugs, rather than food.

It was a go. We started Brown Bag Fridays. We took sandwiches, sometimes burritos, and sometimes $1 double cheeseburgers. We would drive up and down the streets of the area and ask if they were hungry. Rarely did anyone say no! But in that case, we would say, “You can always save it for later,” and they would take it.

We expanded, collecting coats and jackets and socks. We would go out on Christmas Eve and pass out goodie bags, also food. On Thanksgiving, we would put together a hot Thanksgiving meal and then drive up and down the streets, giving out hot meals.

This was my passion, my calling. I knew it. I knew in my heart that these folks needed us, that they would at least eat when we came through.

I would often meet up with my friends, the people I had co-existed with on the streets. My journey on the streets, through all those years, had given me an understanding of their lifestyle, an empathy, an understanding of their needs. I had walked in their shoes and had survived. Now I was filling a need, helping these people to not feel invisible, the way I had all those years, often wishing, even praying, for someone to pull up beside me and hand me food, with no strings attached — not having to be preached at, not having to be turned away due to having no shoes.

Now I had this huge passion for acceptance, for acceptance of those people right where they were.

Now my life was starting to become full. I was a new mom. I was also continuing to learn to live blind, becoming less scared as each week passed in my rehabilitation training. And now, with this new passion for community outreach, I was giving back, offering hope to those with none.

I was walking with blind faith.

From my book “Cry Purple”

I noticed with each passing day my responses where nicer, even sweeter if you may, I once very soon after my God experience, responded one way in my head, but out of my mouth were kind thoughtful words.. I remember, pausing, and saying out loud, wow did I say that?!

My dark despair was melting away, I was becoming softer, kinder thoughtful of not just my family, but of other’s, seeing perspective on larger scales, realizing one person at a time is wonderful to plant seeds of hope but if we change the views of society around us, that is where the stagnant perceptions can be changed.

I was learning to be interdependent with thos around me I had the passion they had the sight.

From that amazing experience in my life, God has open doors for me and placed people in my life to allow me to use my experiences, my mess and offer a educational message, of what life is really like on the streets, often I find it is far different than those I speak to had previously thought..

I have all these God winks I see in my life, I will just keeping loving God who never left me all those years I had left Him and always be thankful that on those nights I begged Him to let my life end, so I no longer had to live that life, as He had a plan, all those experiences would indeed mold me to do His work!

 

As for the vision that I was in the passenger side of a car, handing and hugging a girl I worked the streets for years, she and I in fact were enemies of sorts of the streets, always bulling one another, as I did experience that moment with a driver from that church he pulled beside her he said to your right I rolled the window down and said “Hey you hungry? Want a sandwich” she said sure, then she said Ellie? That was my street name, I paused, thinking oh my it is her it is Linda, we had duked it out on the streets a few times over the years, now I am here blind, unable to defend my self, then she reached in the car and hugged me, and kissed my cheek, and said thanks I am starving..”

I have tears in my eyes right now as I write about that as it is was such a confirmation of the vision I had alone in that living room that wonderful day. It is tooo a confirmation that God will remove our enemies.

Last year I would learn that Linda died, she had gotten clean and we went to some meetings together, but she just could not find that glimmer of hope to hold on until it got better, she returned to using and she was battleing cancer, instead of treatment she chose to numb the pain with Crack, her comforter, I can’t blame her it was mine for years as well.

She was at last unable to work the streets and get high she was admitted in the hospital and soon died.

God had made my enemy my friend, so for the last few years of her life she was indeed my friend.

I am so sad when a friend from the past does not make it.

Our lives don’t magically get better, and we carry scars for a life time, but we can heal, we can find hope and happiness…

So, I hope you enjoyed reading this. I have shared it with some. Some folks find it odd, the whole seeing without sight in those clear visions. I just say,”It’s not odd; it is God.”

I do believe that if I had not given my life to God  as a youth,  I would not have survived.  To me, in the visions, not only did He show me who I was to become, he clearly showed me he had me in  His hands, and I believe that is why I survived all the experiences in which I did.

Although I had turned away from God, he had truly never left me through my journey; he was always present.

And in his time He, indeed, reintroduced himself in my life.

We still have a very long way to sell enough books or collect enough donations for that little trailer house with that fenced yard, so if you have not shared the book with your friends,please do. I believe that by the end of this year Rickster and I will have two bedrooms, and that fenced yard for him to play and for me to plant flowers!!!

As I have learned on my journey, one thing for sure is that all things are possible with God. Even I, with no eyes, can have visions without sight!!!

All for now,

Many blessings,

Christine

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Living with Blindness

Posted by crypurple on February 7, 2013

Hi,

Today, I wanted to take some time to talk about what it is like to live day to day with a disability and be a parent.

I was triggered to write this as this week I was asked a question, “How does having no eyes change your daily activities?”

I chuckled and thought to myself, really?  What area of my life did it not effect might be a much shorter answer!

Living in total darkness, sheer blackness, endless nothingness, can have its down moments. I dream when sleeping in vivid color, so often that, when feeling down I like to sleep to capture those   colorful things – things that are not black.

I have a team of people that assist me. That is the only way I can live alone and care for myself and my little guy.

So I get 4 hours a day of assistance.  They help clean where I miss, they help match our clothes so we are ready to face each day, they assist in mail reading, finding things in the store for me, and even putting together toys when Ricky and I cannot  figure out the directions ourselves!

You see, although there are many things I can do without help, like type up a blog post, there are many things I cannot complete without some assistance.

I mean, I cannot walk in to a store and find my items without asking for help.

I have to admit, it is humbling over and over again.  If I visit a new place I have not learned my way around, then I have to ask for assistance to the restroom.

After all the years on the streets, all the things I have survived and experienced, I cannot find my way to the potty in a new place.

Often this inhibits me from going to places or visiting friends or family.  It is very stressful to be where I can’t even find my way to my own drink of water.

But in my home, where I know where things are that  I can cook, get a drink, or make coffee for my company, I can function without stress,  I can tend to my needs  and my son’s own needs,  and most  importantly find my own way to the potty!

I long to see the sunlight’s bright gleam, the green of the grass, the endless blue skies, or the floating of a cloud.

My heart longs to see the face behind my son’s laugh that I hear so often.

I, however, know I did abuse my sighted life, and I learn each day to see in other ways, I have learned to have vision without sight.

I am learning to become interdependent of those around me, in order to live as normal of a life as I can.

I love giving back to my community and my voice and experiences are tools that I am mastering to be able to do just that.

I struggle sometimes as to where I fit in as a person with a disability.  Having lived in the abled world so long, that is indeed where I feel more comfortable, but often the abled world does not know how to receive me past the disability.

Just as if someone’s eyes are blue or hair is blond, my blindness is a characteristic of me; it is not my identity. However, the world around me often identifies me by my limitations, not by my strengths.

In seeking employment, I find employers puzzled as I enter for interviews, questioning my abilities to do the job.

I am confident that God has a wonderful job for me in line where I can use my life experiences, as well as my learned talents, to help others and continue to attempt to make a difference.

Stay tuned for my next blog post.  It will be about my attempting to date now that I am blind! I will share some of the experiences I have had trying to meet new folks and hopefully those stories will make you laugh!

Christine

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First Book Signing!!

Posted by crypurple on January 31, 2013

Hi Guys!IMG_20130130_151435

How exciting! I returned from a trip to Kansas City, MO, where I did an  interview for a local  TV station (I will post more when I know its air date) and just as I walked in the back door  of my home, there was a knock on my front door.

I answered the door and it was FED EX!

IT was the arrival of my first box of 20 books!

Now, I wrote the book on the computer, but being blind and having a chance at last to open the box and touch a tangible product, the book I wrote, was amazing!   I was so totally thrilled!  I called my friends that live close and we all met next door where I enjoyed some yummy fried crappie and dinner rolls, and got to sell my first book!

I sold three, aIMG_20130130_151414ll of which I got to sign, and even better yet, these folks were eager to have a copy.  I can’t explain the excitement, and what made it even better was that people wanted to read the book!

So, I thought we would take photos of me signing my first book sale!  Now, many books have been purchased online by others, but there was a delay in the paper back books, so they went on sale later!

I am so excited.  It was so wonderful to touch my completed work, even if I can’t see the pages.

Okay, it is go time!  The goal is 3500 sales! Now that is a lot of books.

But here are the photos, as I wanted to share the joy with my followers!

Thanks guys and keep spreading the word!

Christine

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And so it begins…

Posted by crypurple on January 22, 2013

Hello everyone!

At last, the book, the cover, the mentions, and every tidbit is done.

As you know, the digital e-book is out on Amazon and Smashwords.  Go to my Buy The Book tab on this site and you can find information on how to purchase it for your PC or e-reader.  On January 25, you will be able to purchase your copy of Cry Purple in paper back form through me or by going to the Barnes and Noble website. People that buy the book through me will get a signed copy!

I thought I would share a little about the book, and the work put into it.

First about the book!

Cry Purple Cry-Purple-E-Book-Cover(3)

One woman’s journey through homelessness, crack addiction, and prison, to blindness, motherhood, and happiness.

I wrote the book, Cry Purple, to share what it was like to be homeless for nearly two decades, and to share the struggles to find my path once I left the streets. As I faced many life challenging events on and off the streets, I find myself today thankful to be alive. Although I have not yet found a pink cloud to float me through, and life still strikes me sometimes at lightening speeds, my hopes for sharing this journey are, to shine a different light of what it is like to live/ survive the streets.

I hope I clearly touch on the fact although you take the drugs/ addiction out of the equation, things don’t magically get better!

These are some of my challenges:

  • Readjusting, reconnecting, facing guilt and shame, re-learning to live, these are huge struggles that are not fixed overnight.
  • Facing judgment in things as simple as finding work, even though it has been many years since my felony convictions.
  • Being challenged with the private sector’s perceptions of what a blind person can or cannot do.
  • The daily struggles as a totally blind mom who has never seen the faces of her children.
  • Society’s often unknowing view and understanding of what is like to live on the streets, and the barriers that, although I have been off the streets a number of years,  will follow me for a life time.

I am aware that I made those choices, I made those mistakes, and I cannot take those back.  I can’t change the past.

What I can do is move forward, embracing each day, and educating the world around me, that people do change,  and when that change occurs, simple things like a job, a home, or even food for a drug felon, in the state of Missouri, are little things that empower us to keep doing the next right thing. They crack the door of hope that we, daily,  are moving closer to a normal life and the American Dream, and that we, too, can tap into the tools and opportunities  that our fellow humans in our great country are allowed!

I started writing notes on the book when I learned to type, which was after I had lost my sight, after my total blindness occurred.  I had never typed, or taken typing classes prior to that time of my life, although I do remember, as a youth, we had a typewriter in our house and I loved to click the keys on it!  However, I never mastered that, other than maybe finger pecking my name!  I guess learning to type blind took the peeking out of typing class!  So, for 5 years, I typed little lines here and little notes there, of things I remembered – some pretty, some not so much, some things I still struggle with.  I had hundreds of pages of stuff: many incomplete thoughts, or pages of rants, of emotional, things that made me sad.

Then, I had to choose which of these stories would be able to be shared without causing harm to others.  Being mindful of those in the book was huge to me.  I also had to think about how, although my book shares a lot of stuff, there are still many things that are painful to me and are not shared.   Some things are painful to others as well, and thus I chose to leave those things out, as well.  I think that, for me,  those thoughtful  things that are not mentioned, so as to not open old wounds, are a huge growing experience because for a long time in my life, I didn’t care who I harmed, or how I harmed them. And believe me, that list is long.

So if, by chance, you might be one of those people, and wonder why there is nothing about you, I promise it is out of true care and concern for how it would affect you, as my book’s intent is to cause no harm.

When I lost my job, I chose to weed through a lot of this junk, toss some out, or put it in a file on the computer titled: Junk I don’t want to use in the book, but might find use for later.  Then I created another file that was titled: Stuff for the book.  Reading through each line, using my  adaptive technology – a computer screen reading software program called JAWS,  or Jobs Access With Speech, I would copy and paste a line here and a line there or a page here and a page there to  separate documents for one  of my two files!  Then once I had completed that task, I had to go back, and complete the story, toning down thoughts, or expanding on the event.

So this has been a 5 year process for me that has at last come to pass! Believe it or not, I have enough of other things to write yet another book! I will first see what comes of this first book.  Who knows, maybe my writing will suck!

Once I was ready to go, I hired an editor to clean it all up. I broke things down in chapters and stories, and we worked together as a team to make sure each story was clear to not only someone   who knew of addiction and those life styles, but also to those that might not have a clue about some of the terms and slang words I had used.   I had to make sure that from church woman to inmate, the story was understood!

That brought many changes, as I would read and re read, changing words, adding phrases that might expand on a word, and then I toned the story down so the stories painted a clear picture of the events as they happened, but were not offensive to the reader.

I had a dear friend, who was my test proctor in college.   She and I stayed in touch, and became the best of friends.  I trusted her nonjudgmental perspective of the stories I wrote, as some were uncomfortable to read, to proof them to send off to my editor.

Some stories were edited a number of times, by a number of people outside my hired editor,  to ensure that  the story and emotion I wanted to convey was achieved, and to clearly express what I was telling in the story.

Those tasks were hard on all of us.

Then, at last, the book covers!

Although I am blind, I had a vision that I wanted to paint.   I wanted the book cover to be symbolic of the pages inside its cover and fulfilling that desire was difficult. I knew what I wanted, but had to lean on the sighted to tweak it out to what I wanted to achieve. Once again, I relied on my friend’s judgment.  Through many trials, we finally designed a book cover that illustrated my vision, but it was certainly not an easy task for her or the couple with the editing and publishing company that I hired for the job.

At last, it was done, and although I have no eyeballs, if it is as beautiful as I picture it in my mind’s eye, then our hours of hard work were worth it.

I know I’ll never see the book cover and the picture I hope it tells, but I am sure it is lovely!

I have to say thanks to one very special friend, Malcolm Garcia.  I first met Malcolm as a beat reporter for the KC star.  He wrote a series of stories of me about when I first left the streets, and my fight to see.  He encouraged me to write this book – he believed I had a story to tell.

I guess you the public will be the ones to determine that.  You can let me know on the blog!

As you know or might not know, I have been seeking work for a while, turned down sometimes due to the blind thing, and sometimes because of the 9 felony convictions on my background. In my struggle to just find work, I chose to write this book and put it in print to help me and Ricky purchase a small trailer that has a fenced yard, so I hope you will spread the word.  Tell your friends, post the website on your face book time lines, and walls, as we hope to sell 3500 books!

After the book goes for sale, I will start a page on the site that posts how many donations I have gotten on the Ways To Get Involved page, and how many books have been sold.   I hope this book is also a tool to allow my experiences to help us reach our goal – a job, and our idea of the American dream!  Buying a paperback from me, as opposed to buying it online, allows you to contribute double the amount that I would make if you bought it online.  So if you want to buy a book that will allow us to get to our goal faster, buy the paperback from me directly.  If you don’t want to buy the book, but want to donate to our cause, got to my Ways To Get Involved tab on this site and you may do so there.  I make just over 3 bucks on each book sale, so a 5 dollar donation on the Ways To Get Involved page is like selling 2 books!

My hopes is that this book will open some people’s eyes, let others that are living the life I led see that  they are not alone, and be an encouragement to people that want to get out of their rut and move forward with their life.  And maybe this book might educate people on some things that they might not have thought of.

Gosh if you read all this, then you are indeed my hero!

I hope you will spread the word, I also hope you will return to the site, and let me know how the book made you feel, or what thoughts or questions might have surfaced in reading it.

Enjoy your day! May you enjoy, embrace and journey through each day, we can’t change our past, however, we can strive through each day doing the next right thing!

Christine

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Exciting News!!!

Posted by crypurple on January 20, 2013

Cry-Purple-E-Book-Cover(3)

Hello Readers!
My editor and her husband are in the final stages of editing my book and have informed me that Cry Purple will be ready for purchase next Friday, January 25th! Stay tuned for links to the digital and print versions.

Christine

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The Book Cover Has Been Chosen!

Posted by crypurple on January 14, 2013

Cry-Purple-E-Book-Cover(3)

Hello readers!

The book cover has, at last, been chosen, with the kind and caring help from  my editor and her husband.  I thank them for all the extra time they spent to ensure that I, as a blind person, was totally happy with the end result  of the book cover.

The ensured that every last detail was met to my liking and was what I had envisioned in my mind’s eye for my book project!

Thanks also to Christy, my dear friend, for helping in this, so I could express what I was looking for regarding the colors and symbolic importance of the cover to the story inside the  pages!

Now to format the pages inside the book!

If all goes well, on  January 20th everyone can purchase their own copy of my book, Cry Purple.

Stay tuned for updates!

Visit the web site to like our face book page, if you have not done so already!

Christine

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It’s In The Valleys I Grow

Posted by crypurple on January 12, 2013

Hello again!

My little guy made honor roll again!  I am so proud of him – God truly gave me a wonderful little person to care for and parent!

He brings so much joy to my life!

Today, I  was blessed to speak in front of a group of addicts at a St.  Louis treatment Center.  I love being asked to do this.  Upon my return,  however,  I always reflect back to my time out there on the streets, in addiction…remembering the hopeless,darkened pits of time in which I lived.

Some of my favorite folks are those addicts from the streets and I have so much hope for each and everyone of them.

My prayers are that they will hope and believe in themselves from within.

I see addiction has not changed.  It is still taking lives  and stealing the  joy of my fellow human beings.

I am so thankful for the valleys of darkness in which I have walked – they helped mold and shape me.

I can’t change my past, but I can change my tomorrow.

It does not mean I have forgotten the wrongs of my past.   It means I have to let go of the guilt and shame in order to heal and move forward, and some where along my path of life,  I pray I have chances to make amends with those whom I have harmed.

Below I am including a poem, written by Jane Eggleston, that I love, and find much truth in I hope you enjoy it as much  as I do!

It’s In The Valleys I Grow

Sometimes life seems hard to bear,iris-white-and-purple_w544_h725
Full of sorrow, trouble and woe
It’s then I have to remember
That it’s in the valleys I grow.

If I always stayed on the mountain top
And never experienced pain,
I would never appreciate God’s love
And would be living in vain.

I have so much to learn
And my growth is very slow,
Sometimes I need the mountain tops,
But it’s in the valleys I grow.

I do not always understand
Why things happen as they do,
But I am very sure of one thing.
My Lord will see me through.
My little valleys are nothing
When I picture Christ on the cross
He went through the valley of death;
His victory was Satan’s loss.

Forgive me Lord, for complaining
When I’m feeling so very low.
Just give me a gentle reminder
That it’s in the valleys I grow.

Continue to strengthen me, Lord
And use my life each day
To share your love with others
And help them find their way.

Thank you for valleys, Lord
For this one thing I know
The mountain tops are glorious
But it’s in the valleys I grow!

All for now,

Christine!

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Happy New Year!

Posted by crypurple on January 5, 2013

Happy New year!

I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday  season, and that the new year brings you good things.

Ricky and I enjoyed our little Christmas with each other.  I love the way he opened  gifts and said, “Here, mom want to see?”  Then, he placed the item in my hands, showing me where the buttons were and what they did.

He got the book Green Eggs and Ham and read it to me at least a dozen times.

Our blessing for the new year was an overnight with his  biological sister, Mary Christine.  What fun! Her adoptive parents are so wonderful in sharing her life with us!

As always, Ricky and Mary Christine played together like they had never spent a day apart! We stayed up late  watching Christmas shows, all camping out  in her bed room.

I am often sad  when we leave her  but it is amazing to get to have overnights, and that Ricky and she are allowed to have such a wonderful relationship. Some folks don’t understand adoption that can be a need for a number of reasons, but a open adoption – what a concept.

 I believe, however, it allows for healing for the birth mom and it builds the esteem of the adopted child because that child will never have to   go searching for answers, with regard to his/her birth parents .  Our daughter has her adoptive parents,  her birth parents, and biological sibling, Ricky, always in her life, to answer her and support her through her life.

As I had planned to parent her my daughter Mary Christine, she knows me as the mommy that grew her in my tummy! When we have visitors in our home and they ask of the girl in the photos on the wall, Ricky is quick to say that is my sister!

It is complicated to the outsider for sure, but sometimes life happens, things we have no control of, and the outcome  we had planned for is not the outcome we get.

Life happens, that is for sure.  However, we do have control  of how we  react to the life’s rocks, or even boulders, that life sometimes  hurtles our way.

We have the power to react in a negative or a positive way – that we do have control of.

For many years, I reacted negatively to life – any piece of it.  Now, I feel it is growth that I embrace life’s challenges and seek to respond to them and not react to them,  responding  in the most positive thoughtful ways.

This new year, I  choose to  experience life as a journey, finding a adventure in each  new day!

The book I wrote about my journey through addiction to life today. Cry Purple, will be released this month!

I hope you will invite others to read our story and follow our blog.  We also have a facebook page!  You can like it from this page.

I wish you the best New Year ever and invite you to embrace life’s hurdles as growing experiences,  to respond and not react! Seeing each new day as a journey – anadventure yet to be had!

Christine!

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