Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Thoughts At Christmas

Each year that goes by it seems I get more nostalgic, more appreciative and full of wonder.  As one of my ex-clients used to say "Yes, Audrey life is much simpler when one is less wealthy."  Well, simpler in some respects, less cluttered, maybe?  It seems, for me, my senses are more keen, might be a function of living in survival mode.  I have come to enjoy moments that I previously didn't behold, maybe I was going too fast or had too much piled into my days.  Here are some of my favorites:
  • The sweet smiles, belly-laughs and words coming from Nate, my special needs son, who I was told when he was just 5 years old he was "rather hopeless" and would "probably just need to be institutionalized."  He is now 20 years old and one of my greatest pleasures in life.
  • Watching Brandon become a fine young man, as he works, goes to college and plays the keyboards in a band called "Set The Sun".  He wants it all and is reaching for the stars.  He is not afraid to state his opinion or ask a question when things don't make sense.  He portrays strength, determination, yet still has a place for acts of kindness.  He recently bought me a peppermint mocha at Starbucks, now that is kindness!
  • My husband's resolve to get up each day, move around when his body screams "NO".  It warms my heart to see him fight hard for a certain quality in his life.  And regardless of the pain he can always find room for one more joke.
  • All the people who have never left my side (or that of my family's) through the tough times.  These people have helped when we have needed help, sometimes that help took the form of a word of encouragement, a quoted Bible verse or a heartfelt hug, other times much more.
  • The people at St Andrew's Methodist Church, the Seven Loaves Program, who open their arms to us and always call Nate by name.  They include us in their prayer circles and thank God for the opportunity to serve us.  Nate usually sings through their prayers while I silently include my thanks to God for their being there and pray for the day when I can pay forward.
  • I am grateful for the fine people of Project: Not Guilty who stand behind me on my case and give great encouragement and support.  Likewise for those in the Innocence Project (Texas and Chicago) who provide insight and encouragement even though my case is non-DNA.   I pray also for the day when I am able to give back by helping those in the same predicament (or "pickle" as my husband once called it).
  • I love the childhood memory of growing up in Maryland and eating snow ice cream, dancing around the Christmas tree and sitting quietly by the fireplace....just feeling the warmth and security of our home, family and faith.
I notice this year the outside Christmas decorations seem more sparkly, the colors of Christmas seem more vibrant and the Christmas songs more touching.  We have one Christmas decoration up this year.  It is this beautiful wreath made by my dear and talented friend Michele Mosser.  She made it for us in 2001 and it is still shining brightly.  I tried to take a picture of it to show you but the picture didn't begin to portray its beauty so you'll just have to come see it and stay for a cup of coffee!

Now here is a Christmas picture from the past, one of my favorite places (for Nancy, get out your magnifying glass - there is a manger scene in there):

May the spirit of Christ be with you as you celebrate Christmas and head into the New Year!

Love to each of you,

Monday, October 10, 2011

Occupy Wall Street - Lessons From The Past

The Occupy Wall Street protests are bringing back memories of a different time, one I'd like to share with you.  There are obvious differences between these two movements and there are parallels that cannot be ignored.

On a cool, crisp spring day, April 4, 1968, I had retreated into our basement in our Maryland home.  I was 13 years old and loved to sew.  Our sewing machine was set up in our comfortable family room.  With a finished out basement it was like living in a two story home.  Our old Singer sat on the old red card table.  With iron and ironing board close by and the cutting board splayed across the floor I was busy creating new summer outfits.  Along side me was our radio.  It was tuned to WPGC and I was listening to all the hits of the day with Wolfman Jack as the radio announcer (this was years before he became syndicated).  Wolfman was asking us to call in our requests.  The Vietnam War was in full swing and many of the songs on the radio reflected the sentiments of the war.

Then all at once the radio program was interrupted to report the shooting of Martin Luther King.  I had some knowledge of the civil rights movement as my civics teacher had included MLK and his work in our class lectures during that school year.  I remember how she introduced this subject.  On a little record player she had brought from home she played The Young Rascals song People Got To Be Free.  A presentation I will never forget.

I knew what I had just heard on the radio about MLK was tragic and important.  I ran upstairs to tell my mother.  Later that evening, our family gathered around our little black and white television as the facts unfolded.  His violent death rocked the entire nation, riots were shooting up everywhere.  What scared me the most was the riots and looting were heavy on the Washington DC/Maryland line.  We lived just seven miles south of DC, across Branch Ave. from Andrews Air Force base, in a small town called Clinton.  But, even worse, my mom worked in the office of a retail store called Woodward & Lothrops, located right on the DC line.  My mom felt she needed to continue to go to work and believed she would be safe. But as the riots and looting continued and fanned out, the area where she worked became questionable.  My dad called her at work and insisted she come home while we all waited impatiently for her.  She returned to us safe and we were relieved.

What then transpired after the days of rioting subsided were buses and buses from all over the country bringing black people to DC.  They came as a memorial to MLK, they came peacefully out of respect for MLK's life works and they came to make peaceful demonstrations on the need for government intervention in civil rights.  Their methods were a way of honoring and progressing MLK's messages.  Demonstrating the need for action now.

Shantytown was constructed surrounding the long Reflection Pool between the stately Lincoln Memorial and the towering Washington Monument.  It was made up of tents and lean-to open room shacks set out to house those who were bused into DC.   My parents took our family to see Shantytown.  We climbed up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and looked out toward the Washington Monument.  As we looked over the quiet and orderly temporary town built within the nation's capital my father said to us "Look carefully and remember.  I want you to see this, as history is being made today."  I remember tears coming to my eyes, I was touched.  There before me represented a great deal of pain and determination.  My dad further explained, good people were standing up for themselves, asking for equality and justice.

Their purpose was to get both houses of Congress and the President to take notice and understand the importance and power behind the long needed changes in legislating civil rights for all.  They were perhaps the greatest and most convincing lobbyist of our time, a formidable power.  It was past time to place the Constitution of the United States, as agreed upon by our founding fathers, into play for all citizens.  In this case, laws were needed to direct social issues, ensure equal opportunities and treatment,  and eventually move stubborn attitudes that had persisted since the days of slavery.

As a result over the next several years, there was an outpouring of civil rights legislated and affirmative action programs initiated....and change occurred at all levels.  It is still far from perfect, but there have been great strides.

There were vital aspects of this movement that made it successful.  The people were speaking from their hearts, they were determined, they were highly organized with very specific goals and they approached our country's lawmakers with the greatest respect, even when they were not entirely trusting of those people who had been voted into place.

Our current day OWS have some legitimate complaints, our country has long been in economic crisis and we cannot go on as we are.  We are sorely in need of Congress working together rather than all the political posturing we see.  We agree there cannot be waste of our tax dollars.  This past weekend we saw many people joining this movement who have spent a lifetime working hard and have lost everything.  So many people are unemployed who want to work, they are not looking for handouts.  They are demanding answers, they are demanding opportunities.  They are demanding our country work together to resolve these outstanding issues.  Yes, there are many individual agendas, there appears to be some disorganization but they could learn from the days that followed MLK's death, from a movement that was peaceful, organized and clear about what they wanted to see change. 

One of their biggest complaints is that of greed.  It is my humble opinion they will get nowhere with that approach.  Greed has existed since the beginning of time....its there in the Bible.  Further, are the wealthy people and corporations being greedy or are they operating within the boundaries which have been set out by our laws and maximizing profits as called for in their purpose and agreement with stockholders?  Have we forgotten the massive numbers of charitable organizations funded by these individuals and groups?  On the other hand, is it right for the government to take hard earned tax dollars and bail out the largest financial institutions which turn around and pay millions in bonuses to a few?  That is hard to swallow, especially when we see the unemployment lines and the millions in bread lines and soup kitchens.  And how about the failing small businesses?  We see more and more empty store fronts each day.

The OWS are asking for a return to democracy, whereby we have a government representative of all its people. This is not about Obama, this is not about Bush, this is about a country that is fractured and needs healing.  This is about listening to the people...we the people....   But OWS methods can make them or break them.  They need a responsible leadership group within their organization.  They do not need outsiders from the Mideast coming in and taking charge and teaching violence.  Nothing will be accomplished that way, with violence our cities will just become more broken.

So for today, I pray, if their decision is to persist then they will become more organized, determine how best to accomplish their goals and become very specific in those goals, working within the system as the civil rights movement did in the late 60's.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

More Questions Than Answers!

In my last blog I was telling you about my one week in Santa Fe Women's Detention Center, prior to being released on bail, as a result of the Grand Jury indictment in Dallas.  You may be wondering why it took a week, as we hear about it just taking hours or a day when we read the newspaper or watch television.  I can tell you, I was arrested on April 7, 2004 which was a Wednesday just prior to Easter weekend.  The amount of the bond was not an issue as I was considered a low flight risk, it was set at $20,000 which translates to $2,000 plus I was allowed to remain living in New Mexico.  But, I had at least a couple things creating delays.  One was not having any experience in such matters whatsoever, my family and I didn't know how the system worked or I should say, how to work the system.  The other of course was being Easter weekend and Good Friday, the system just wasn't working, everyone was taking off and coordinating efforts between Dallas, TX and Santa Fe, New Mexico was next to impossible.  Judges in and out, attorneys here and there, families to be with, Easter egg hunts to administer....

As I previously mentioned, my first 32 hours were spent in a holding cell.  Following the arraignment I was given a khaki-colored uniform and taken to the "back" where those staying were housed.  The general population "pod" where I was assigned held 24 inmates with 2 to a cell, the individual cells sharing a day room and showers.  There were tables and a television in the day room.  This was a bit better than the holding cell but certainly not the comforts of home.

My first roommate was a young woman in her early twenties, also a mom.  Evangeline was helpful, explaining how things worked in the system, as well as how to get along within the group of women.  There are many unwritten rules for surviving.

The next day following the transfer was Good Friday.  We had a visit from the Archbishop out of Santa Fe.  He came into our pod and gave a very touching prayer asking for redemption of our lost souls.  I had tears in my eyes and just held on tight. I wanted to be with my two sons.  I didn't even get to say goodbye to them or assure them I love them and would be home soon.  When they took me away from my home the morning of the 7th, Nate was still sleeping and Brandon had spent the night with a friend since it was spring break.  Prior to the Archbishop's visit I kept pushing my boys out of my mind because the pain of possibly losing them was more than I could endure.  With the Archbishop there and God's presence feeling closer than ever I could no longer avoid those thoughts and feelings.

The grief felt unbearable as though it was pressing in on my heart and I could barely breathe.  How could those men who falsely accused me be so cruel?  How could their lies have the power to rip me away from my dear family?  How could people be nothing more than objects to discard when you are finished with them?  Was it just cold-hearted business or was there more?  Was there something else that I had in my possession or was in my memory that they were afraid of my telling?  What was their motivation to destroy another human beings life on this earth?  If I couldn't think like them, then how could I ever figure this out?  In His time, and His way, would God give me the answers and with this, the understanding, grace and protection to move forward?  This was my prayer.

As time passed, I talked and shared with more of the women.  I went to every Bible study and became more hopeful.  A couple women were interested in the Dialogue process that we used at The NOAH Project.  We used this process with the parents of the children and our staff to explore beliefs we held about our special children, discard beliefs that did not help us or our children and decide on new beliefs to replace those that no longer served us.  On an individual basis I worked with each of these women.  One woman explored her self destructive choices with drugs and the other woman decided to explore her tendency toward engaging in abusive relationships.

After the dialogue, each woman commented on how refreshing it was to just be asked questions to help explore and to not be judged.  They were used to everybody giving them advice but this was the first experience they had where the person (me) trusted them to have their own answers and to know they were their own best expert.  I smiled as I knew they were building their own skills to help themselves and this was just a beginning if they so chose.  I suggested a couple books of Barry Neil Kaufman's if they wanted to go further with this learning.  I was inspired by their personal strength and their wanting to heal and grow their lives.

I was bonded on Monday at 4:00 p.m. but it actually took two more days for Santa Fe to release me.  The Judge in Santa Fe had set a "no bond", and had given Texas 10 days to come for me....which they did not took an additional amount of time to get that cleared, bringing my stay to exactly 7 long days (and long nights) which at the time seemed like an eternity.  Even then I'm sure God knew I would have to endure much MUCH more before this nightmare was over.  I remind myself often (then and now) God does not give us more than we can handle and He is always with us, we are not alone. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Transformation Within the Jail/Prison Culture

I want to write often, as many things come to my mind, but so much relates to the details of my case and as you know that part has been shut down for the time.  In staying with the purpose of my blog I have somewhat limited my scope.  In thinking over this dilema I have returned to my book draft and the very earliest experiences of my case, I believe there are things I can speak to as they have nothing to do with my defense, the prosecution, pretrial hearings or the trial itself. 

As a business woman, mom and rule follower, not at all acquainted with our justice system, I found I was in for an enormous culture shock.  Part of the preparation I had to handle this was in the 70's at the University of New Mexico.  I had taken a few sociology and psychology classes and from one of those had a reading assignment that made a tremendous impact on my thinking.  Alvin Toffler's book "Future Shock" was the beginning of my training grounds.  His definition of "future shock" was "too much change in too short a period of time".  Ah, yes that certainly did happen to me.  While Toffler was talking about the accelerated rate of technological and social change leaving us disconnected and with a feeling of "shattering stress and disorientation", I could apply that feeling to the culture I found in the bowels of our justice system, that being the county jail in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  In addition, my many years of attending courses at The Option Institute in Sheffield, MA, coupled with my Christian beliefs brought me through the experience.

I was first contacted by a Dallas PD detective December 9, 2003.  I was then indicted by a Grand Jury in March 2004.  I was officially notified of that indictment by a call from the DPD detective on the morning of April 5, 2004.  Following that call I spoke to several attorneys both in New Mexico and Texas.  I was arrested 48 hours later on April 7, as I was on the phone arranging payment and transfer of information to a Dallas attorney.  I was taken to the county jail in Santa Fe.  It was an entire week before I was released on bail.  That week is what I want to share with you over the next couple blog posts.  Following is an excerpt from my book draft:

     Being in jail was like walking into a whole different country with a completely new language.  My first 32 hours were spent in the holding cell.  There were 8 to 10 of us women at any time, dressed in red pants and shirts, sitting on benches that surround the inner wall, with a metal toilet sitting at one end of the room.  At the other end was the door which was bolted, latched and electronically controlled, with a long thin window.  The walls were made of cinder block and painted a dreary white, the floors were cement, which I understand is quite vogue these days.  This was a stark contrast from the last time I stayed overnight in Santa Fe at the beautiful La Fonda Inn on the square with my two young sons.

     There was absolutely nothing to do, so we all just talked like we'd known each other for years.  Now some had heard of each other or knew of family members or distant relatives and a couple had an old boyfriend in common.  This appeared to be a very small world that seemed to reacquaint itself from generation to generation inside these barricaded walls.  Some were buying their supplies of crack from another's mother, while others were looking for a new source.  This holding cell was a true place for "power" networking, depending on how one defines power.

     Every sentence spoken had the "F-word" at least once and one time I was able to count up to four "F-words" in one sentence.  I had to ask the woman how she did that, I was amazed at how she structured the sentence, and would have written it down if I'd only had a paper and pencil.  The "F-word" can be used as an adjective, verb, noun, pronoun, adverb, even a dangling participle.  To think, Webster's doesn't even seem to know this.

     It took about three hours before anyone asked me why I was there; I hadn't offered and was content to listen to everybody else's stories.  But, even there, the rules of being a group member apply.  Once I started to explain, it seemed they were mesmerized because my story was so different from the others and we spent the next two hours on the subject of autism, belief systems and changing attitudes that create new beliefs.

     What seemed to take place in those two hours was a group of women with very little hope transforming to a place of hope.  After all, if there can be hope for these special needs kids who have been written off by society, couldn't there also be hope for them?  This is a transformation they were able to generalize for themselves, it was not a thought I had directed.  As humans, when we hear something, we naturally put it in perspective by seeing how it relates to self.  After just three hours in jail, I had become an avid student of my fellow inmates, learning and adapting to this new culture.  And, within four hours I found myself informally teaching (albeit to a captured audience) belief systems and how they mold our experiences.

     "No place to go, nothing to do."  Those were the words in a recent relaxation exercise in which I had participated.  These words were meant to clear the clutter and chatter we carry in our heads.  In jail, there were hours where time ticked away slower than I could barely stand, and to think I had actually worked at finding this place in my mind just a few weeks earlier.  Everything I had come to know in the healing of my life was being tested.  I found it difficult to sit still, especially since I didn't know how long I would be there and if they would ship me to Texas, regardless of my fear for my life.  I knew the key to my sanity was to move out of these thoughts and stay completely in the present moment.  I remembered one of the quotes from Barry Neil Kaufman's books "Unhappiness exists either as a regret about the past or a worry about the future.  The cure: be present."  I had the answer, now it was up to me to find that place of peacefulness and calm inside of me, only focusing on the moment.

     While public speaking and training others I had taught people we are in charge of our every life experience, I was struggling to hold that lesson for myself through the long, excruciating hours.  I had to keep taking charge of my wandering fearful and angry thoughts.  In the past I could move on by just consuming myself with doing something and quite often that took the form of allowing numbers to just wash through my existence.  Someone in the cell started counting the cinder blocks to make the time go by.  Those numbers did not comfort me; they only served to irritate me.  I could not use my left brain to hide this time; I had to pull from the depths of my soul to keep going.

     Another thing I had to learn was my every request would be ignored.  I supposed this was some form of behavior modification, perhaps trying to teach us this was not the place to be.  Or maybe this is where people worked who had a need to wield power over those who are helpless and did so under the guise of the penal system.  I suspect the answer is both behavior modification and bullying needs being met; another form of displaced anger which continues to be fueled.  I remember thinking, no wonder most inmates don't rehabilitate, there appears to be two responses to this treatment, one is anger and the other is to withdraw, each a matter of survival.  I thought of the children who had come to us at The NOAH Project (special school for children with autism) from a behavior modification discipline and how some came in very angry and violent while the others were completely exclusive (within their own world), there seemed no middle ground.

     Instead of the two extremes, I wanted that middle ground.  I was looking for a happy place inside of me so time would pass effortlessly and I could create the best experience for myself moment to moment with every person I met, rather that person was a jailer, inmate or visitor.  This became my focus and I found myself a much happier participant of what originally seemed to be an unfriendly, rigid system.  I wanted to move beyond the survival mode to a place of meaningful existence.

     There were times I could feel anger building and building inside of me, like a spiral down to darkness.  There was anger toward my false accusers and the Detective.  Sometimes the anger circled in my head as if it would explode and I would ask myself the questions, "How is this anger helping me?  Is it somehow serving me?" and the answer was always "No."  Then I'd remind myself, what we focus on becomes bigger.  Years earlier, while working with Nate (my special needs son) in our home based program, I had decided to commit myself to love, compassion and being present to live each moment fully.  By the end of the second day in jail I re-upped that commitment and repeated if often through those first four days.

     I found I had to consciously direct my focus on what I wanted.  When I did this, I was able to create much more positive actions which clearly served me.  Eventually my focus for what I wanted became constant and a calm came over me.  I came to believe no matter what happened I would be okay, letting go of the results and trusting, how often I had taught that to parents of children with autism.  I then grew that light by giving myself a mental exercise of listing in my head, all that I was grateful for and sending that list up to God, it helps to share.  I felt an intense sweet joy in those moments, a most unlikely attitude under these circumstances, but oh how it served me and my desire to have a meaningful existence.

I will continue with the story of that week when I make my next post.  Until then, think of all that you are grateful for and up the amps by 1,000.... Don't forget to share your gratitude as part of upping those amps!  WOW, what a difference that can make in your life!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Habeas Update

Tuesday, September 6, 2011 marks a deadline related to the filing of my habeas corpus application.  It is by this date in which the prosecution and the trial attorney for my case have to respond to my habeas application.  Based on their responses the Judge will decide if there is to be a hearing prior to forwarding my habeas application on to the Appellate Court.  I have felt confident and prayed a lot on this.  Although this weekend, coming up to the date, I allowed some fear to sneak in because of what happened previously in my trial, now 4 years ago (9/10/07). 

I have been doing daily devotionals with a dear friend of mine.  We are using Max Lucado's devotional book called "Grace For The Moment - Volume 1".  Each day I find that day's devotional speaks to me in some way.  Today the devotional could not have been louder!  God is such a wonder!  Here are the words from Max Lucado's book:  
 God Our Defender
Here is a big question.  What is God doing when you are in a bind?  When the lifeboat springs a leak?  When the rip cord snaps?  When the last penny is gone before the last bill is paid?...
I know what we are doing.  Nibbling our nails like corn on the cob.  Pacing floors.  Taking pills......
But what does God do?...
He fights for us.  He steps into the ring and points us to our corner and takes over.  "Remain calm; the Lord will fight for you." (Exodus 14:14).
His job is to fight.  Our job is to trust.
Just trust.  Not direct.  Or question....Our job is to pray and wait.
WOW!!  How powerful and true.  I have already proven that I couldn't win this case on my own.  There is only ONE whom is all powerful and has the strength to fight evil.  I needed this.  Have faith!  Pray and wait!  I can do that.  Nothing is gained by sitting in fear, in fact it diminishes my faith and trust.  Once again, the lesson here is SURRENDER, allow God in my life, to do what He promises.  I need to stop getting in His way.

I found another verse (one of many) that was so applicable and comforting:
1 Peter 3:12-14
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened."
Source: Holy Bible, New International Version
My pray and wait.......

Monday, August 22, 2011

"A Child's Bill of Rights"

My cousin, Nancy, has an excellent post about really giving children the time they need to make decisions and do things their way.  And, oh, what a freeing experience for all involved.  Her blog post is entitled School Is Starting.  It inspired me to share with you "A Child's Bill of Rights", which is so very important to keep in mind as we parent, teach and care for our children (even after they are grown).  We framed this and had it hanging at The NOAH Project.  As teachers and administrators at our school for children with autism, we respected these rights as they were at the core of our belief system.  When children literally cannot speak up for themselves these rights become even more important, as they are more likely to be overlooked. 

A Child's Bill of Rights
by Fred M. Fariss 
  • I have the right to live rather than exist.
  • I have a right to personhood rather than being an object of possession.
  • I have a right to equality with every other human being regardless of age.
  • I have a right to be respected with regard to my worth.
  • I have a right to be uniquely myself with my own identity.
  • I have a right to speak my thoughts and feelings, and to be heard.
  • I have a right to ask "Why" and to receive answers.
  • I have a right to receive discipline without hollering, discounts and put-downs.
  • I have a right to be encouraged to grow to maturity at my own pace.
  • I have a right to be free from physical harm at the hands of resentful people.
  • I have a right to be loved for being me.
  • I have a right, with valid guidance, to think for myself, and to make decisions.
  • I have a right to be responsible for myself.
  • I have a right to feel joy, happiness, sorrow, bereavement and pain.
  • I have a right to be a winner.
  • I have the right to care and be cared for, to nurture and be nurtured, to give and to receive.
  • I have a right to form my own convictions, beliefs and standards.
  • I have a right to know and experience personal freedom.
  • I have the right to recognize and accept the rights of others regarding their Bill of Rights.

While on the subject of rights, as I was in my last post, and with the new school year beginning it seems appropriate to post this.  Interesting enough, many of us need to give ourselves these permissions as grownups.  Some of us did not get these permissions growing up and in other instances we gave them up as we matured.  This is really a format for basic human rights.  They sure would lend themselves to a healthier and safer world for us all to live in.

Friday, August 12, 2011

First Amendment, Right?

There is an interesting case which recently surfaced and it relates to our First Amendment Rights and blogging.  I've been reading all the comments both for and against.  Before I describe to you what is happening I want to set out the actual First Amendment Rights as follows:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
It is my understanding this Amendment speaks to 5 freedoms:  (1) freedom to speak freely without government intervention, (2) freedom of press, (3) freedom of religion, (4) freedom to appeal or lobby to legislative bodies for or against legislation, and (5) freedom to peacefully gather in public, to march, demonstrate, protest, or otherwise express views.  Further, originally this applied to only those laws enacted by the Federal government but has since been ruled by the Supreme Court to include state and local governments.  Sounds pretty simple to me.

So, here is the story.  A man by the name of Anthony Morelli who lives in Pennsylvania had a blog which he started in 2007.  For 4 years he posted hundreds of blog entries.  The blog was entitled "The Psycho Ex Wife" which of course can be seen as offensive right there.  He posted as they were going through embittered divorce and custody battles.  Further, he posted anonymously, keeping all names out.  Their two sons are currently 10 and 12 years old.  At present the two parents have joint custody.  The ex-wife is an alcoholic and is believed to suffer from a personality disorder. 

The tag line on Morelli's blog was "The true account of a marriage, divorce and subsequent custody fight between a loving man, his terrorist ex-wife who we suspect suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder and the husband's new partner."  With this blog, Morelli created a community (approximately 200,000 visitors per month) and several forums where people in a similar circumstance could discuss child custody issues, parental alienation syndrome and other assorted divorce challenges.  Now that is a strong community and for many, a much needed support group, as they wade through some very grueling court battles and all the days in between. 

I know what it is like to live with someone whose sanity is in question.  Had this blog existed 20 years ago, I would have been a daily visitor myself.  I was dealing with the safety of my children and myself and eventually worked through all the issues, both safety and the legalities of the divorce.  Then I had a similar issue...when the court allowed for my ex-husband to have very limited visitation rights.  After just a handful of visits he disappeared once again so my concerns were put to rest.  With only an occasional call from him once every few years I eventually learned we were relatively safe, his threats of hurting us turned out to be empty.

All that aside though, the reason I have brought this to you is to discuss First Amendment Rights,  Judge Diane Gibbons who was presiding over the Morelli custody case ordered Morelli to shut down his blog on June 6th of this year or lose joint custody of his kids.  She banned him from mentioning his ex-wife or his children on any public media.

Now you see the question, does the Court have the right to order that blog stopped or punish the blogger if he doesn't do what is ordered.  It seems we are looking at two aspects of the First Amendment.  One, freedom of speech says we have the right to speak freely without government interference.  And, two, freedom of press establishes the right to publish news, information and opinions without government intervention.  This includes newspapers, magazines, newsletters, etc.  Wouldn't it then include blogs, for really they are just a form of newsletter?

We could argue the pro's and con's all day as to its content.  It seems to me if it mischaracterizes the ex-wife then she has a libel/slander suit on her hands, although we don't hear anything about that.   The judge appears to be concerned about the children being subjected to this information about their mom (as if they aren't living in the midst of it) and calls it abusive.  Yet we are not hearing her concern for the safety of the children in the clutches (and custody) of their alcoholic mother.  I was married to an alcoholic, and I divorced him for that reason and all the abuse that goes along with alcoholism.  I needed to raise my children in a healthy environment and could accept nothing less for their sake.  Where is the judge standing on that?  As I said, we could argue all day long the pro's and con's but what is legally accurate? 

As always, your comments are welcome and I invite you to research the topic yourself as there is a great deal of media out there concerning this and even more peoples' comments who swear the blog was the best thing or the worst thing.  What are your thoughts to the shut down of a blog that was just being brutally honest?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Right Brained People Living In A Left Brained World"

The title of this post is borrowed from a book with the title:  Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World  by Jeffrey Freed and Laurie Parsons.  The copyright date is 1997.  I bought this book back in the late 90's when I realized I was faced with two very intelligent, very right brained boys (my sons, Nate and Brandon) and was having a very difficult time relating....and so were their teachers.  By the way the subtitle to this book is (you many have already guessed) Unlocking The Potential of Your ADD Child.  I know what you might be saying, oh please, this is such an old subject.  Well, not really, it is very pertinent for many reasons.  Stick with me on this, it is more fun than you may think and has far greater applications than you may have imagined.

I have been considered very left brained all my life, which is actually somewhat unusual for a woman.  I am analytical, math oriented, rational, logical and linear in my thought.  And it is my left brain that made me put that linear continuum up there for you to see (it was a stretch to put it on pink paper with purple ink).  Had I been a right brained person, I would have been much more creative and had that continuum branching all over the place and in many different colors.   Left brained attributes are quite often assigned to men, whereas women are generally more spontaneous, imaginative, emotional, sensitive and creative creatures or right brained.  Now look at the attributes assigned to ADD and ADHD children: impulsive, hypersensory, sensitive, daydreamers, visual, distractible and in many cases hyperactive.  There are far more detail descriptions, but I will leave that to you if you want to research further.

I wanted to understand everything I could about this phenomenon or what really comes down to different learning styles, because I wanted to help my boys and their teachers work through the obstacles that right brained thinking poses for left brained people in our socially acceptable left brained world.  And I wanted to do it without my children taking any prescribed drugs.  I am not a believer in medicating our youth (or adults for that matter).  Although what I saw and experienced during my time locked up caused me to realize there are some people who do benefit with some help, as they are non-functioning otherwise.

I gained a great deal of understanding from this book and I think it helped me in my parenting as well, especially when it came to helping Nate (with autism) learn at all and with Brandon, in how solutions and methods for solving were presented.  For both, once they had a visual of something they could work it every which way.  As for Nate he could say the alphabet as fast backward as he did forward which was very fast.  Pictures became the center of his learning.  And he could read and remember like nothing I had ever experienced in my life. 

With Brandon, he was the grand winner of the school spelling bees, year after year, because we pictured things together in his practice and once he realized he could spell words backwards and forward with the same speed, by utilizing the pictures in his head, he knew he could spell any word he had ever seen, because he could access the picture of that word in his head.  Brandon was very artistic, he had beautiful and detailed drawings but as the grades progressed the school was not interested in developing that gift, in fact his drawing became a problem for teachers, in subjects other than art.  In helping him with math homework, I knew I was in trouble.  Brandon could visualize an answer (not doing the steps), whereas I was interested in taking him through the steps, because that is the way I think and I knew many teachers look for that as proof of understanding and doing your own work.  But when we would sit at the kitchen table to work together, within 5 to 10 minutes he would literally turn around in his chair with his back to me and the little help session was over.  He just didn't get it that way!!  But when I searched for answers, I found that if I could explain a concept with pictures and allow him to tell me how he was seeing things, then we'd have a home run.

All of this caused  me to become more creative, more observant and open to change if I wanted to relate to my boys and others like them.  As part of my love for my boys I wanted to be useful in helping them to succeed.  I am sure I share this with many parents out there.

As young adults, my sons both love music, art, are very visual and express their feelings loud and clear.  Brandon has taught himself to play the keyboards and is in a band, in addition to working almost full time and going to college full time.  He has learned to take his hyperactivity and focus it in ways that will benefit him.  I have to remind him to sleep.  Nate still loves to read, enjoys anything visual and is my most loving gentle giant.

When I developed The NOAH Project, we had a lengthy reading list of books as part of the training.  The book I have mentioned in this post was of course high on that list.  And many of our teachers/child facilitators made a point to tell me they really enjoyed it as it helped them to understand how there are truly different learning styles and for some it helped them to better understand their selves.  Definitely a good read.  In this day, the age of laptops, video games and iPhones, the VISUALS are winning out.  More and more of the kids are fitting into this pattern, if not born this way, they become this way by the time they are 3 to 4 years old as a result of being surrounded by our current day technologies.  For us old dinosaurs we have to move with them or be left in the dust.

All of that brings me to my point.  The jails and prisons are just loaded with right brained people.  I could not believe the talent of those incarcerated.  Singing voices that would just bring you to your knees with tears in your eyes.  And prison art is extraordinary.  I learned some while I was in there and I wanted to share it with you.  What I brought home is a combination of my doodles and that of others.  Nancy (my dear cousin), if you are reading this, know that you inspired this blog post with your blog post Doodle that!  Follow that link for more fun!  Below is some of the prison art I brought home:

This is just a small sampling.  Do you know, with exception of just a handful of women, most women I met in prison did miserably in school, many fell through the cracks at an early age,

yet they are talented, in a very right brained way.   How many of these women, would you dare to guess, learn in a different way?  By the time a child gets to the third grade, the teaching style becomes predominantly auditory and very left brained.  What about the visual learners!  That is also when behavior problems become so prevalent.  If behavior problems were addressed in a positive way, meaning how can we teach you in a different way, how can we develop the skills you have, how can we help you in the best way to prepare for life (instead of trying to force a square peg into a round hole)...would our jails and prisons still be full to the brim?  I dare say NOT!

The system failed many of these people at a very early age.  It is my understanding the men's prison and jails have many talented people also.  A whole lot of right brained people stubbing their toes in a left brained world....leading to incarceration.  There are those who argue we should not educate people in prison, they messed up when they had their chance.  I ask why not?  The system failed them before, when they were kids being batted around, why not a second chance?  And why not in a learning style that is conducive to their developmental growth.  Our right brain is known for our survival skills.  Many of these people did not have the best of home environments during their early years thus having to focus on survival, perhaps not able to make the jump to their left brain skills.  But, while separated from the streets, can you think of a better time to reach these people and help them become productive members of society.  They will be our neighbors, they are our fellow human beings, so why not help them get what they need to grow skills through education in a way they can learn and blossom?

We also have to address making  a place for these people when they come out.  A discussion on bettering people incarcerated falls by the wayside if we don't change our attitudes about those with a background and allow them a second (or third) chance by employing them and for that matter welcoming them into our churches.  The statistics now reflect one in five people in this country have a criminal background.  We have to educate and we have to change our attitudes so we can all become winners in this game of life.

Sir Isaac Newton
Albert Einstein
Leonardo Da Vinci
Jonas Salk
Thomas Alva Edison
Galileo Galilei
Bill Gates
Benjamin Franklin
Steven Spielberg
Alexander Graham Bell
Thomas Jefferson
Abraham Lincoln
Pablo Picasso


Friday, June 3, 2011

How HE Wants Us To Live

Being an older person in jail/prison has its benefits.  While the environment is volatile and rife with violence and fear, there are many who seem to actually respect and treat with consideration the elders.  Being in my early 50's I qualified as a grandma type figure or "elder".  Although during the first 19 months I was in Dallas County Jail following my trial and awaiting results of the initial stages of my appeal I did run in to a few women right off the street who wanted to take on anybody and everybody.  That is a lifestyle I have never lived and having never physically fought I was no match for anyone, yet there were at least two instances at Dallas County where I had to stand my ground one way or another. 

Both instances happened in a medical general population tank at the Government Center in Dallas, also known as the George Allen Building.  In a tank there were 5 cells, and in each of the 5 cells there were 5 inmates.   So, in the tank's dayroom that we all shared there was 25 of us.  At night, between 11/12 p.m. and about 4 a.m. we were locked into our cell with our cellmates, so just 5 of us during that time.

I was having a difficult time with one of the women who had recently moved into our cell.  She had a reputation of lieing, picking fights and cheating at cards.  She was about 22 years old, a bully and very loud.  Her crime was stealing credit cards from little old ladies purses who were shopping at Walgreens Drug Stores.  She apparently was wanted by many and showed up on several security videos, as most every day she was called out to the magistrate court to receive more charges against her.  Last I knew she had well over 50 different charges brought against her.  At any rate, you can see by the crime that she was a predator of the elder so my age was probably a red flag to her but not in a good way.

One night once they had locked the cell for the 4 - 5 hours she started yelling at me.  I don't recall what set her off, if anything.  I just turned my back and ignored her but I also did not sleep a wink.  I was having such a difficult time that after breakfast at 4 in the morning I just stayed out in the dayroom with my Bible.  I opened it up and was immediately drawn to Chapter 4 in Colossians.  As I'm sure you know, Colossians was written by apostle, Paul, while imprisoned.  The Bible I had (sent to me by Sam, Nancy's husband and my minister) was The Message version, which is current day dialect, perfect for my understanding.  Colossians 4: 2 - 6 is as follows:
  • "Pray diligently.  Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude.  Don't forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even while I'm locked up in this jail.  Pray that every time I open my mouth I'll be able to make Christ plain as day to them.  Use your head as you live and work among outsiders.  Don't miss a trick.  Make the most of every opportunity.  Be gracious in your speech.  The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out."
Wow!  It certainly changed how I handled things.  Instead of fighting back or getting ugly with gossip I took the more positive approach.  There were no more outbursts by her toward me and I was able to get some sleep, trusting that when my eyes were closed I would be safe.  I was so thankful for the Bible and most especially for getting direction as to how to live, even under the worst of circumstances.

The other situation I wanted to tell you about started while my husband, Ron, was visiting one evening.  At the Government Center, the visiting was a bit different because of it being such an old facility.  The visitors actually came down the hall to where our tank was located and there were small (3" by 6") type windows at eye level, where we would stand and talk to one another's eyes while speaking over telephone receivers.  When looking in these small windows the visitors would actually have a look into our dayroom and the bars beyond that were our cells.  Intermittently between our little visitor windows were pay phones for inmates making calls out. 

Back to that evening, I had just started my visit with Ron and this other inmate (a prostitute who had just been arrested and placed in our tank) had decided to use the pay phone right next to me (probably just 2 feet away) and she started screaming at the person (I was told it was her pimp) on the phone with her.  I calmly asked her to quiet down as I was visiting, so she then starts screaming at the top of her lungs at me.  Next I raised my voice just slightly and told her again to move to another phone.  An officer happened by and told us to stop it and sent Ron on his way, ending our visit early.  I was fuming, Ron had traveled a long way to get there and he could not see well enough to be driving at night in the first place.   I said nothing else to her that evening or the next couple days.  Every time she would walk by me she would brush up against me.  I wondered what that was all about and the women I played cards with told me that's what they do to start a fight.  I had no idea, clueless!

I needed to defuse this thing but didn't know how so I returned to my Bible, praying for guidance.  The last thing I wanted was a fight.  I opened the Bible to 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 5: 13 - 18.  Again, it is The Message version and it said:
  • "Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part.  Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on.  Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet.  Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs.  And be careful that when you get on each others' nerves you don't snap at each other.  Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.  Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time;  thank God no matter what happens.  This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live."
It was the perfect thing for me to read, righting my attitude.  Then just a couple days after that the two of us sat together in the dayroom and shared with each other about our lives and how we came to be in Dallas County Jail.  She and I got along beautifully for the rest of our stay in the same tank, showing respect for one another.  The day we split up during a massive move of all inmates out of the condemned Government Center she saw me struggling with the weight of my stuff.  She offered to help me and I accepted.  I remember wanting to cry for her gracious offer and kindness.  Then we said goodbye, with smiles, as we went to our new assignments in a different facility.  All of that happened in one week's time and OH! what a difference the change in my attitude made. 

We can never go wrong by turning to the Word for guidance.  I don't know how I could have survived the three years without it.  God sure is faithful to us and in my life he used a very difficult environment to show me how His Word works....but then where better to see it so clearly.  He had my full attention!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Motherhood in Question?

I was thinking, over this holiday weekend how good it is to have family together, I just feel so happy to be surrounded by the people I love.  Even as we do our own independent activities within our home, I can sense we are close to one another and can feel that warmth and love just radiating from our very beings.  I had a difficult time while incarcerated, in fact the hardest part of being locked up was missing my children,  the pain was just deep down in the depth of my soul.  I had no idea I would have to survive three years away, I don't think I could have even wrapped my thoughts around such a void when I was first ushered into the pits of Dallas County Jail following my trial.  I thought surely I would be out on an appeals bond in no time. I couldn't even imagine the Judge setting a bond so high my family couldn't touch it. After all, in the four years prior to my trial I had been on a personal recognizance bond for most of that time and had never violated the terms, showing up in court every two weeks.

One of the biggest issues of this countries' excessive incarceration practices is the destructive force it has on the families in America.  Such a destructive force, indeed.  Pulling parents away from their children.  I used to think the children were better off without those "criminal" parents.  Once in there, meeting many good, family oriented, kind and nurturing women I had to really rethink the stereotype I had implanted in my brain.  Besides, there I was too and not because of any loathsome lifestyle.

About a year into my incarceration, and still at Dallas County, I finally sat down and wrote a book except, more as a therapy for me than anything else.  I needed to sort out my feelings about being ripped away from motherhood, it seemed like the emptiness I felt was going to eat me up, not to mention the lingering anger.  Following is that excerpt:

     In our society and perhaps all societies a woman's role inside the family includes one of nurturing - to care for and develop the children.  Girl children are expected, from an early age, to help their mom with younger children and around the house, while their play most often includes caring for their baby dolls.  As little girls we are taught we are valuable if we help others, quite often that is how we receive our acceptance among the adults in our life.  There are inherent messages of - it is okay to exist so long as we are needed and useful.  The more needed we are, the more purpose we have, the more our existence on this earth is affirmed.  Thus, perpetuating the need to be needed.  It wraps around and possibly smothers our very being.  It even creates a neediness about us.  We become extreme givers while some of us attach to extreme takers, resenting it all the while, yet somehow needing it.  It is a vicious cycle.  We have a hard time receiving anything for ourselves.  Our need to give is primary, with taking care of ourselves secondary, at best. 

     As a child the intrinsic and unstated belief is that it is what we do to survive, to keep from being abandoned.  Therefore, one learns to give without boundaries, at what can become a high cost to self, perhaps abandoning self.  The very issue of abandonment becomes so internalized, growing our neediness.  We look for constant affirmations in our relationships, thereby placing the burden on our loved ones to constantly affirm our existence.  This creates a needy mom, one who may figuratively suffocate their children with "love", one who flounders once they become empty-nesters.

     It is with this said that I explore my growing resentment toward Ron [my husband] in hopes I can prevent the festering of this in our relationship.  If all emotions are based either in fear or love, then resentment is clearly that of fear.  What do I fear?  I fear that Ron will replace me in the eyes of my boys.  I fear I will no longer be needed or valued.  I fear if I am no longer needed then I have no reason for being.  My career has been destroyed and now it feels like motherhood has been stolen from me.  I feel so much grief, bone deep.  These are the two ways I have defined myself, as  a mom and as a business woman.  All was torn away from me once I was convicted and sentenced.  So, where does that leave me?  In Dallas County jail, with only myself to take care of.

     An opportunity to re-parent myself.  I know that sounds crazy but here it is, an opening in my life to find value in me, just being, not performing.  To not be needed by others, yet still be alive, very much alive.  It's beginning to look as though I have an opportunity staring me in the face.  And, when I look at it that way, I feel only gratitude toward Ron.  This reminds me of a quote from my friend, Bears Kaufman:  "when we stand in gratitude, there is no room for unhappiness." 

     So, I have a choice, I can steep myself in fear or I can steep myself in love.  What a grand choice and here I was thinking all choices were taken away from me when I was incarcerated.  As I wallowed in resentment I became unaware of choice.  But allowing myself to explore this I find they cannot take away my attitude and beliefs.

     As I tread through this case against me I have gone through a series of letting go.  First it was my career, then material possessions, as I scrambled to pay legal fees and find any job as a means to support us.   Then it was my physical freedom.  Now, I have the opportunity to let go of my resentment, my fear.  Not just any fear, but a made-up fear. 

     In letting go of that fear I have created a space to redefine myself, to redefine my purpose, to clear out more of the clutter and come to trust myself and my belief in God.  Yet another lesson in surrender.  Another lesson in choosing love.  A chance to learn to nurture myself, thereby growing an interdependent love rather than codependent love for others.  How freeing this is and here I thought all my freedoms had been usurped.  My captors cannot steal or control my thoughts.  I'm in charge of choosing beliefs and corresponding thoughts that enliven a  healthy existence; therein lies my continuing commitment to myself and God.

Working through this was a giant step in my survival and really required me to let go even more of the victim role, as that thinking was just making me sick and wearing me down.  Once I began to clean up my thinking on this subject, my rational thought returned and I knew that I would always be the mother of Nate and Brandon and nothing could diminish the love we have for one another.  We survived our separation from one another.  I missed a big chunk of their lives, their high school years, I can't get those years back, but I do have today for which I am infinitely grateful.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Culpable Negligence ?

We are getting reports whereby the government is finally owning some culpability in the massive, unsafe immunizations that occurred throughout the eighties, nineties and into the new millennium.  They have been paying families millions of dollars in settlement money for the vaccine damage to their children which includes autism.  We are just finding out about this!?!  Autism went from 1 in 10,000 (prior to 1990) to the 1990's ratio of 1 in 150 children and has continued to increase throughout the first decade of 2000 to current day numbers indicating 1 in 100 children effected with autistic traits following immunizations.

In the 1990's thimerisol (a preservative, containing mercury, found in immunizations) was identified as unsafe for many children as their bodies were unable to metabolize metals, in this case mercury.  Instead the mercury accumulated to significant amounts and crossed the blood-brain barrier thus causing brain damage, quite often effecting the speech center and sensory systems of these children.  If you look up the symptoms of mercury poisoning you find them to be the same as we are seeing in many of our children with autism.

There was a recent article published that indicates continued problems as seen in the statistics above even after taking thimerisol out of the early childhood immunizations.  This study identified the introduction of fetal DNA in vaccines as the trigger.  The study tells us that "the vaccines contain significant residual human DNA fragments that can insert themselves into vaccine recipient cells........this insertion can cause genomic disruption resulting in autism."  To read more about this, see article in ChristianNewsWire describing the "ticking time bomb that has already exploded." 

What we learned from the 90's is that autism was no longer considered epidemic proportions but by the end of the 90's had moved into a classification known as pandemic.  What we also learned from the 90's was that when these children with autism went through a cheolation process large amounts of mercury and aluminum would show up in their blood and urine samples (far beyond what is considered "normal").  Another bit of information we garnered from the 90's was that when the vaccines were introduced to third world countries, these countries then started to have cases of autism pop up everywhere among their young, freshly immunized children, whereby those countries had never seen a case of autism before.  We've known its the immunizations, we've known it does not negatively effect all or even most children...yet we could not get the government (FDA) or the drug companies to own their culpability in the destruction of the productive lives of these children, instead leaving an enormous burden on the families and eventually the Social Security Disability and Medicaid rolls.
I believe most parents with this knowledge are NOT anti-vaccine people but instead share the belief that vaccines should be safe and should be well researched and tested before requiring mass inoculation and in the event there is a question, then we have the right to be informed immediately and decide about the risk for our own children.  I know not one of those families are thanking the government for allowing their child to become a guinea pig for their experimentation.  And I know not one of those families are thrilled with the thought that the major drug companies producing these vaccines combed in unbelievable amounts of profits as a result of the government requiring mass inoculation.  There have been class action suits and individual suits brought against the drug companies, who continue to deny there is any correlation.  The drug companies are wealthy beyond measure and for every study brought up in the lawsuits showing cause and effect, they pay for five more studies negating that connection.  Remember what I said in my last post, one can always find the evidence to support one's belief (or in this case - agenda).  And there can be creation of evidence if needed, as seen in my legal case, by the opposing side.

The recent information of the government "secretly" settling with some families is not a surprise, see this article and short FOXnewscast describing such settlements.  The need to keep it secret must have been enormous as there are hundreds of thousands of kids (and their families) negatively impacted.  It will be interesting to see what happens now, if anything.  A requirement of filing claims with this government program is that the claim must be filed within 3 years of onset.  I know for one, when my Nate started changing and showing the signs of withdrawal we did not have this information and in 1992 the doctors were baffled.  Diagnosing Nate was like a three ring circus.  By the time he was 5 years old he must have had at least 8 different diagnosis, with autism being the last educated guess.  You see there is no blood test or genetic test to confirm the is more a process of elimination and observation of behavior patterns.  It wasn't until 2001 that I first learned of the connection between the immunizations and autism and by then Nate was 10 years old and it was far too late to make a claim.  Further, the government and the drug companies have bombarded us with the denial of this link between autism and vaccines, even going so far as to repeatedly discredit the doctors doing the research and the results of the scientific research with findings to the contrary.

In developing The NOAH Project (2001-2002) I had decided we would focus on the best overall treatment for these kids.  How we could respect their differences and work with them in the most loving way, how we could support their nutritional needs and how we could educate and help their parents and other parents (attending our speaking series) gather resources, that is doctors, therapists and nutritionists who were tuned into this information and could help clear the children of the neurotoxins and at the same time boost their immune systems.  An informed parent can best help their children if they know what is going inside their child's body and find ways to offset the negative impact; in contrast the denial campaigns of the government and drug companies does not help progress or focus on the effective treatment for these kids.  I did not attack the drug companies or FDA.  It was always my hope they would step up and become accountable.  Apparently it now becomes evident they handled the few extreme cases where the parents had the knowledge and wherewithal to make the claims on a timely basis and the impact of the vaccines were immediate and drastic rather than slow developing over time, as it was for most of our kids.

We are still faced with determining the best ways to help the kids (and now many are young adults) who have been effected.  I have remained a believer in the The Son-Rise Program in terms of treatment (although limited to home-based), teaching the children to be interactive in the most spontaneous way.  The public schools are now doing a far better job working with our kids.  The explosive population of children with autism started in the 90's and took everybody by surprise, especially the public school system, they had to scramble to find certified special ed teachers, qualified teacher aids and ways to reach these kids. 

Nutritional needs and vitamin intervention are still vital in boosting their compromised immune systems and helping clear the fog away, which quite often is created by gluten and casein foods (found in most processed food items).  At The NOAH Project we issued a quarterly Nutrition newsletter to all families, teachers and therapists who were on our mailing lists from the speaking series (approximately 3,000 people).  Here are a few pages from our newsletters prepared by our staff nutritionist (you will see we were careful and still soft pedaled the role of immunizations in creating this malady):

If you know families challenged with a child showing symptoms of delayed development, limited or no speech and/or overload of sensory systems, encourage them to get early intervention.  The sooner they address the problems, the more likely the child will respond and possibly reverse the effects.  Most of all, find the doctors/pediatricians that are focused on safe immunizations.  There are alternatives, such as splitting up the viruses,  and administering the vaccines over a longer period of time.  Research!  Encourage them to become empowered parents taking initiative, instead of blindly trusting the "experts".  Most of all encourage them to love their children and support them in the most positive ways.  If nothing else these children teach us to love unconditionally....a gift in itself!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Who Were The True Conspirators?

I have to do another post on Mary Surratt to share with you what I have found, so we have a Part III to Mary Surratt.  This information is fascinating to me.  I have never been interested in history, even the thought of it bores me.  Give me a math problem any 'ole day.  But this Mary Surratt case and the bigger picture is an enormous frame up and cover up.  I did not get the significance of many things I saw in the movie "The Conspirator", until I came home and read further.

Historians fall on both sides of this debate...."Was Mary Surratt guilty or innocent?"  The historians saying she was guilty generally argue that she had to know, they buy what the government fed them almost 150 years ago, contrary to what has been found since.  One historian even goes so far as to say she must have been guilty because she had such a calm demeanor and was "clever" during her recorded interrogations. I don't know about you but calm is what I do, in fact the worse the circumstances, the calmer I get.  Because fear, insanity, rage all cloud my ability to think and reason.  When under extreme pressure or conflicting situations I get real quiet and listen with all my might so I can take the next best step.  BUT, now can you see where that can get interpreted as "obfuscating, lying, denying and parsing her words"?  That is how some historians have interpreted her demeanor and her claim of innocence. 

YET, during the trial, five priests and several other people testified on her behalf as to her stellar character and religious devotion.  Who knew more about Mary Surratt, these people who spent time with her over the years or the historians who paint her as Booth's co-conspirator?  It seems to me if someone had a shady, questionable character it would have surfaced at some time throughout the years prior to this event.  But you know the saying, people will find (or create) the evidence to fit their beliefs.  Perhaps I am guilty of the same in this instance...let's take a look at what came up after the conspiracy trial of Mary Surratt.

In the comment section of my prior blog I present the theory that there were others, such as Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War, and President Andrew Johnson himself that seemed to go out of their way to see these 8 people convicted and immediately dealt their punishments.  Yet they could have had their own political agendas to rid Lincoln of the Presidency, in fact it would seem they had far more MOTIVE than the characters convicted of conspiracy.  I set out to understand this better by researching John Wilkes Booth's diary, John Surratt Jr.'s trial two years later in a civilian court and anything I could find out about Andrew Johnson's impeachment trial.  I must make a correction a previous comment (last blog - comment section) I said that Andrew Johnson was impeached, but that is an error.  He missed being impeached by one vote, he did finish out his term, but was a very unpopular President. 

I learned several things that I want to share with you, this will give you more insight into how (at a grand level) innocent people can come to be falsely accused and wrongly convicted.  It gives you a better understanding of the deception that is possible when perpetrating fraud on the courts.  Because, rarely, if ever, is a wrongful conviction a result of error, it is much more the result of a deliberate withholding and/or altering/creating evidence, false (coerced) testimonies by state witnesses....and a prosecutor who is hell-bent on winning at any cost while exercising their persuasive powers over the jury.

In the movie, "The Conspirator" the alledged conspirators, while imprisoned awaiting their trials and after had hoods over their heads.  The hoods were lined with one inch of cotton and there was only one small hole at the mouth for them to eat their food.  Therefore, they could not be heard.  In addition, they were shackled making writing impossible and were not allowed any discussions or visits from the outside world (with one exception, at the end of the trial Mary was allowed a brief visit from her daughter).  They had been silenced, were tried quickly and punishment was dealt immediately.  Even back then, this treatment was unheard of.  Mary Surratt pleaded that she be allowed to make a last statement but was denied.  What was the government covering up, what were they so afraid she would say?

Mary Surratt was convicted on the false testimony of two men.  There was no exculpatory evidence, only circumstantial.  Both men later, changed their stories.  John Lloyd, testified in John Surratt Jr.'s trial two years later.  "Lloyd not only contradicted some of the statements he had made at the conspiracy trail but admitted that he had been subjected to both promises and threats."  According to John T. Ford (owner of Ford Theater) Lloyd had told him he "was taken to Bryantown and when he refused to say anything against Mrs. Surratt, he was hanged by his thumbs until he could no longer stand the pain.  Only then, to spare himself from further torture, did he agree to give perjured testimony against his landlady."

The other false testimony came from Louis Weichmann who told his friends John Brophy and Louis Carland, following the conspiracy trial that "his conscience was troubling him, that he had lied on the witness stand to save his own life and keep his government position.  He said that his statements had been written out for him and he had to testify based on that."  On the day of Mary's execution John Brophy swore out an affidavit disclosing Weichmann's statements and copied the Washington Constitutional Union, plus took a copy to the White House. Carland later testified in John Surratt Jr.'s trial regarding what Weichmann had told them that day.

The evidence that was introduced in the John Surratt Jr. civilian trial two years later included Booth's diary, the clemency plea for Mary Surratt (coming from the tribunal members who had voted against the death sentence and were coerced by Stanton and Holt to change their vote),  petitions given to Andrew Johnson, prior to the executions, and the statements of Lewis Powell and John T. Ford presenting "evidence of confessed perjuries and witness intimidation by the government."  "The civil trial of John Surratt Jr. exposed many injustices that a free people must never again tolerate."

John Wilkes Booth's diary indicated there were many over him in this plot, he did not act alone.  It coincided with General Baker's diary, his accounts of the Lincoln assassination.  "Both implicated, even boasted  of a secret government council which had bound the country over a century.  It revealed that the true killers were led by Lincoln's most trusted military advisor in the Civil War, Edwin M. Stanton, the Secretary of War."  General Lafayette Baker, chief of the National Detective Police Force and fellow conspirator (conspirator with Stanton), wrote "Stanton's plot was a vast, well financed attempt to seize control of the federal government, signed Lafayette C. Baker."  Numerous attempts were made on Baker's life (to silence him), he died of arsenic poisoning three years following the conspiracy trial.

Seven hours before Lincoln's assassination John Wilkes Booth left a note at Vice President Andrew Johnson's home. It said "Don't wish to disturb you.  Are you at home?  J. Wilkes Booth."   This note, along with Booth's diary were presented at President Andrew Johnson's impeachment trial, in addition to several other items that had surfaced during John Surratt Jr.'s trial.

Over zealous prosecutors, power hungry men (and women), frightened witnesses can create anything.  I have said this before in my blogs related to my own case...there is NO need to make up any lies if a person is truly guilty.  Their guilt will stand on its own.  The fact that there was so much coercion going on is all the evidence I need to know in my heart that Mary Surratt was innocent.  She was a scapegoat and a distraction used to cover the true conspirators.

Mary Surratt was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Washington DC.  There is a bronze plaque by her grave that reads:

"The souls of the just are in the hands of God, and the torment of malice shall not touch them.  In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die, but they are at peace."

If you are interested in reading further or want to follow the quotes above, there are many books and Internet articles on this subject.  I encourage you to take a look and draw your own conclusions.  Injustices in our system didn't end with Mary Surratt, nor are they unique to the military, they continue today in our civilian courts.  Following are a few of the references I used: