Cry Purple

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

Posts Tagged ‘homelessness’

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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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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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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Welcome!!

Posted by crypurple on December 9, 2012

Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Christine McDonald and Cry Purple is the name of the book that I have written about my life.  My journey has certainly been circuitous and definitely full of ruts and hurtles, but it has allowed me to develop a certain school of thought as to what direction I want to move toward to develop my  future.

I believe that we can’t change our past, but from this day forward we can pick a dream, put forth the effort and make it happen! No matter what we have done, no matter where we come from, even if no one believes in us. We, ourselves, have the ability to change!!

There is a poem by an unknown author about the road to success.  This poem speaks to me aChristine leaning on chairnd empowers me to continually move forward in improving my existence and the life I want to provide for my son.  It reads as follows:

The road to success is not straight.
There is a curve called Failure,

 A loop called Confusion,
Speed bumps called Friends,

 Red lights called Enemies,
Caution lights called Family,

 You will have flats called Jobs,
But, if you have a spare called Determination,
An engine called Perseverance,

 Insurance called Faith,
A driver called God,
You will make it to a place called Success.

I believe this.  There were many times in my life when I could have been taken off this earth, but I am still here, so I know God still has plans for me.

Please feel free to explore the other pages in this blog and learn more about me.  On my About page, you can read more about Cry Purple, including information on where to buy it, if you want to read more.

All the best,

Christine

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