Your favorite felon has been one busy gal recently. Between landing two steady writing gigs (huzzah for determination!), I’ve also been recovering from the loss of a dear family member and getting the homeschooling year started, as well as preparing for a local event that celebrates recovery in all forms.
It’s been a rough and tedious couple of months, but this particular event reminded me that my work need not overtake my life – no matter how much I love it – and that I had been letting this side of things fall to the wayside. Which is not what I want to do at all – there’s still too much to be done in the realm of re-entry after conviction.
I arrived about forty minutes early, once I found the entry to the pavilion – unfamiliar territories always prove interesting for me. I always hate when I’m lost in those winding parks that dot the MidWest because I know I look insane as I frantically search for the building I need to be in while inching by whatever pedestrians might be around. /shiver
While still a bit unsure, I wandered around the area on foot until I found a familiar face – the wonderful woman that has recently founded a new approach to recovery through her own experiences. I won’t share her name here – but take it from me – she’s inspiring. We’ve even bounced ideas off of each other as we found different ways to rehabilitate our mindsets to find our own versions of freedom and happiness. Which is even better because there’s history there – and it’s not always common to see close friends on the track to recovery. It’s a beautiful thing when it does happen though, so cherish it if you have it.
We set our tables up and took turns manning tables, swapping information, and she even took a huge step and actually spoke in front of people. I know I’ve talked about doing that before, but I still haven’t reached that point yet – so I’m extra thrilled that she was able to push herself to do the public speaking thing and share her story that way. I was also able to meet a few new people on both sides of the fence, in just about every way you can define that phrase. From freshly convicted and currently supervised, to family members awaiting the release of loved ones, to genuinely interested program directors and board members of local institutions. The area judge was even present and shared the successes of the new problem-solving court that he’d recently implemented (both in terms of success stories and the financial savings that real rehabilitation efforts can offer the taxpayer). It was amazing and heart-warming to see the dedication that was obvious in the hearts of all that were present and to connect with like-minded positive individuals. The event focused on the hope that we need to utilize to heal from the past and keep moving forward in a positive way.
Overall, it was an invigorating and positive experience with fantastic people that want to help. Hearing some of the stories I did today, I can’t help but think back over my past, replaying the major events of the three years of bad choices that led to my own conviction, about the loss and depression that fueled a lot of those decisions, the addictions I toyed with and my overall tendency to destroy myself every time I found something good, and I realize that while I probably wouldn’t have chosen the life I’ve had – it’s the life I needed to find my purpose and to fully discover the things that I am truly passionate about. I also wouldn’t wish any of my experiences on my worst enemies – the bottom of the barrel is too hateful a place to be. I’m reminded of why I love to help those in need – breathing easy in life is something that is too often taken for granted and it’s far too fragile in all honesty. But with a little bit of help, and a little bit of hope, we can lift each other up beyond our wildest dreams.
Love and Peace,