Cinthya’s Journey – an Immigrant’s story

By Patricia Castañeda

She crossed the border legally in August of 1997 with a tourist visa that eventually lapsed. The summer vacation to visit Abuelita (Grandma), the aunts, and cousins, got longer and longer. Seventh grade started, Cinthya found herself perfecting the English she had grown up learning in Mexico, and settling into a life surrounded by family, life was good.

Abuelito (Grandpa) had been a Bracero, who benefited by the Simpson-Mazzoli Act of 1986, which Ronald Reagan signed into law, and became a citizen. This allowed him to sponsor his children one by one to become U.S. citizens. Cinthya’s mother was the last of his children to join the family in the U.S., so she was the last one to get “in line” to start the process of becoming a legal resident in 1997. Abuelito died in 2012 worried about the fact that his daughter was still waiting “in line”; a process that had taken 15 years, and her turn still had not come. Cinthya and her mother found themselves in limbo. For Cinthya going back home to Mexico meant facing a potential 10 year bar that could prevent her from coming back legally to the U.S., and staying without status in Indiana meant facing the constant fear of getting deported.

“She decided to confront her fear and get arrested for doing something she believed in, supporting the rights of human beings to be treated with compassion and respect.”

She decided to stay; this was the first time Cinthya was scared and consciously aware of her undocumented status; she was living in fear. She worried that she really was a burden to society as she repeatedly heard in the media. Cinthya decided to get informed beyond the media bites. Her mother was paying taxes that paid for the school she had attended as a child, the libraries she used, the infrastructure of our cities and state. Cinthya realized she was not a burden and decided to join local organizations to try to change immigration policies.

On November 15th, 2011, Cinthya joined a group from the Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance and travelled to Alabama in support of local organizations to protest the draconian, anti-immigrant law the State of Alabama had just passed. Cinthya knew that engaging in civil disobedience could lead to her arrest, and possibly deportation to Mexico, but it would happen on her own terms. She decided to confront her fear and get arrested for doing something she believed in, supporting the rights of human beings to be treated with compassion and respect. When her hands were being bound together by the arresting officer, all Cinthya could think about, as tears rolled down her face, is how this was happening because she wanted it to happen, under her terms, for a worthy cause. The next three days she spent in jail felt the most liberated and empowered she had ever felt. Her journey from living in the shadows, in fear, to this moment of liberation, behind bars, was over.

Cinthya now has been able to secure temporary protection from deportation through President Obama’s Deferred Action Program, which gives her the ability to secure a job at the Law Office of Kevin Muñoz, and apply, for the first time in her life, for a driver’s license.  

Patricia Castañeda is with IndyLatino.com

A Familiar but Forever New Journey

Bill Watt

Bill Watt

By Bill Watts

I am a long-distance cyclist.  I ride about 8,000 miles a year, and I have had the good fortune to ride my bicycle in China, in Australia, and in much of Europe.  This past summer, I climbed the Col D’Aubisque, a mountain pass that is often featured in the Tour de France.  The climb was thrilling.

But the most significant and important journey for me is the one I make almost every day, from my home on the near northwest side of Indianapolis to my workplace at Butler University.  Much of my route follows the towpath along the Central Canal.

“I am in my twenty-fourth year of riding along the canal, but I still find it fresh and invigorating.”

I am in my twenty-fourth year of riding along the canal, but I still find it fresh and invigorating.  For me, this journey tells several intersecting stories.

One story is cultural and institutional.  I pass in front of Naval Armory as I make my way to the towpath, and I am always amused to think of this massive structure guarding the White River from any foreign navies that might dare to invade central Indiana.  Soon thereafter, I pass by the stately homes of Golden Hill, safely situated on the other side of the canal.  Then it is the Indianapolis Museum of Art, with its lovely grounds, and its grand building presiding over the White River Valley.

“I think of the Canal as a kind of cultural corridor that connects some of the most important and interesting institutions in the city.”

When I take the wooden underpass under Michigan Road, I always remember Ray Irvin, the former director of the Greenways, first for the city and then for the state, who did so much to develop our system of trails and to make my commuting route pleasant.  Soon after that, I pass by the Christian Theological Seminary, and I admire its architecture and am grateful to the Irwin and Miller families for their contributions to public buildings in both Indianapolis and Columbus.  And, finally, I arrive at Butler, where I am proud member of the English Department.

In this way, then, I think of the Canal as a kind of cultural corridor that connects some of the most important and interesting institutions in the city.

Bill Watt-canalBut the canal also gives us entry into the natural life of the city.  When I was a boy, I remember traveling deep into a forest to see a Wood Duck.  Now, I see wood ducks almost every day, and I am still enthralled by their bright colors and exotic markings.  In the late Fall, I often come upon a Great Blue Heron, who is startled into flight when he sees me, and lands a bit up the canal.  When I come up to him again, he again commences his gawky-but-graceful flight, and I think of him as a kind of guardian angel, guiding me on my daily commute.  I sometimes see kingfishers, beaver, foxes and deer, and I always see turtles.  I love them all.

My journey down the canal is also a personal one.  I remember running into my friend, Scott Swanson, jogging over there, and Jim Poyser, riding his bike, over here, and just a bit further down the path, I fell one slick winter evening and broke my wrist.  It is a path full of memories for me.

I believe that we have a duty to see the world, and, in coming years, I will make a point of seeing as much of the world as I can from the seat of my bicycle.  One of the benefits of travel, though, is that it allows us to see the familiar world to which we return in a new light.  My daily journey along the canal is familiar and comforting, but it is also endlessly surprising and enlightening.

 

Bill Watts is an Associate Professor of English at Butler University.

The Long Journey to Now

Diana Ensign

Diana Ensign

By Diana J. Ensign

Our lives are made up of numerous moments—most of which pass by in a blur.

We give shape and meaning to those moments by the stories we tell.  A collection of life’s fleeting moments get stored in our mental time capsules with titles such as, “When I moved to Indiana,” “When I graduated high school,” “When I got married,” “When I lost my job,” or “When my father died.”  We define our lives by pivotal events—how we handled them or failed to handle them, what we did before or after significant life transitions, and the lessons we carry forward.  Over time, these moments become the legends and myths we pass along to our children, share with our family and friends, and reminisce about during weddings and funerals.

I love stories.  My writer’s antenna is constantly tuned toward stories that make a positive difference in the world.  I love listening to them, and I love giving voice to them in a book or article. I love knowing people who have taken their life stories and drastically re-written them in order to be a catalyst for change.

“We define our lives by pivotal events—how we handled them or failed to handle them, what we did before or after significant life transitions, and the lessons we carry forward.”

At some point along our journey, we may arrive at an unfamiliar juncture in the unfolding of our life story. It’s that place—often discovered late in life or after a crisis—where we’re no longer running from grief and sorrow and no longer racing toward happiness and success.  This less traveled path is not highly regarded by our culture, because it doesn’t require outside validation or the purchase of goods and services.  It’s found in the here and now. For me, it’s a place of contentment.

Being in the present moment is simple; and yet, extremely difficult for most of us to do. Ancient Masters have written volumes over the eons on how to ‘be’ in the now.

Here’s how I try to make sure this moment doesn’t slip past unnoticed:

I take a deep breath…

I look around…

I feel the wind on my arm or the sun on my face…

I observe a white butterfly flittering near a yellow flower or note the reddish tinge suddenly appearing on the leaves…

And I say, “Thank you for this day”…

No past. No future. Just blue sky, wisps of white clouds, majestic trees, an ever-changing Midwest landscape, and an unseen mystery that defies all that we think we know.

Pause… Breathe… Listen…

The journey is now.

 

Author Bio

Diana J. Ensign, JD, is an Indiana writer and author of ‘Traveling Spirit: Daily Tools for Your Life’s Journey” (available on Amazon).  She blogs on Spirituality for Daily Living at http://www.dianaensign.com/.  Diana is one of the panel speakers at the Spirit & Place event, From Addiction and Loss to Wholeness, Saturday, November 8, 1:30-3:00 PM. Fairbanks Recovery Center, Rm. 128. Presented by Fairbanks, Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition, and The 24 Group. For event info: 317-572-9469 or kgill@fairbankscd.org.

Thirty Years Searching for the Truth

Herman Hinton

Herman Hinton

By Herman L. Hinton

From 1983 – 2013, I worked for the Birmingham, Alabama Police Department. I started out as a lowly patrol officer and worked my way up the ladder retiring as Deputy Chief. Each day I went to work, I never knew which way the wind was going to blow and whether or not truth would be found. You see this job was all about finding truth even though the mission was not always accomplished.

“Each day I went to work, I never knew which way the wind was going to blow and whether or not truth would be found.”

I knew my freshman year in high school that I was called to be an officer. I always found myself rooting for the underdog. I did however take a circuitous route to becoming an officer.  After three years in the Navy, I found a job working at a coke plant and enrolled in a junior college majoring in fire science before eventually getting laid off, prompting me to take the civil service test for police officer. Even a future deputy chief of police can have trouble finding truth.

About a year later I was hired by the city as a patrol officer, and 8 years later I made detective, searching for truth. My passion for crime victims grew as I became a supervisor and eventually the commander of the homicide unit, investigating the most egregious crime known to man: homicide. With less than 15 investigators assigned to the unit, we investigated nearly a hundred homicides a year. I can tell you first hand that these fine men and women were uniquely qualified to rid our communities of violent offenders in their quest to find truth.

“Each morning during roll call I would ensure that we found something humorous to have a good laugh about, just to maintain our sanity.”

We never gave up on finding truth even though sometimes it would take longer than we’d like. Each morning during roll call I would ensure that we found something humorous to have a good laugh about, just to maintain our sanity.

My greatest accomplishment was establishing the “Cold Case Unit” to assure the victims that we are determined to find truth even if the lead detective got promoted, transferred, or even retired. Our motto was a quote by the great French Philosopher Voltaire, “To the living we owe respect; to the dead we owe the truth.”

What’s your definition of truth?

 

 

Author Bio

Herman L. Hinton is a retired deputy chief of investigations with 30 years of service who oversaw 130 detectives, supervisors and commanders in the Birmingham Police Department. He is the author of “Hidden Relationships of the Homicide Detective” and “Life is So Simple When We Choose to Live God’s Way.”

Leo

Matt, Leo, Laura Mays, Summer 2014

Matt, Leo, Laura Mays, Summer 2014

By Matt Mays

The first question that most people are reluctant to ask us is, “Did you know?” The answer is no, we didn’t. Throughout the entire pregnancy we had no indication that there were any issues whatsoever. So, like so many others, we were shocked when our son, Leo, was born with Down Syndrome.

Leo Mays, one week old

Leo Mays, one week old

Immediately, there were health issues associated with Leo’s condition. He was five weeks early and was having trouble breathing. The hospital staff took him away to the ICU and thus began our new lives. For the last four years our journey as parents of a child with special needs has included countless hospital stays, doctor visits, therapies, sleepless nights, tubes, wires, medical devices and big bills.

“Since the beginning, no matter how scary and tough things were, Leo has been an amazing source of strength and character.”

But while we live with some of these difficulties and the reality that our child might be a little different than others, the most important part we tend to focus on is all of the tremendous upside. Since the beginning, no matter how scary and tough things were, Leo has been an amazing source of strength and character in our lives. He has made it through all that has been thrown his way with a smile and an amazing sense of calm.

Early on, we were fortunate enough to recognize these traits in our son and it helped guide us through every decision we made for him. Believe me, as parents it is easy to get caught up in an extreme circumstance like ours where emotion can take over and cloud judgment. As long as we remembered to make choices that were about Leo and Leo only, we could feel some comfort in those difficult moments.

“The most important part of this journey has been reinvention.”

For my wife, Laura, and I, the most important part of this journey has been reinvention. Reinvention of ourselves, our relationship, our professional lives. We are more patient. We have learned to tell our story. We are quieter, too, as this new level of understanding we gained leads us to be more thoughtful in our interactions with others, no matter their situation in life.

Eloise and Leo Mays, August 2014 Photo credit: Matt Mays

Eloise and Leo Mays, August 2014
Photo credit: Matt Mays

Leo turned four a few weeks ago. He’s starting to walk, talk and is the most amazing person we know. He started school last week and has been described as a “model student.” He is a fantastic older brother and is on his way to do great things. We just know it.

This is the 19th year of the Spirit & Place Festival and the festival will explore JOURNEY.  The festival takes place Nov. 7-16, 2014 all around Indianapolis.

 

Author Bio:

Matt Mays is a three-time Emmy award winning television producer and filmmaker from Indianapolis. His passions are raising his family, making music and film. More at MaysEntertainment.com @MattMays1

 

Becoming the Phoenix: Life and faith after an abusive marriage

By Andrea Feaster

Early in our marriage my husband and I had a terrible fight. He grabbed my hair; a glass top table got broken. Later, after things were calm and we apologized to one another, I told him I had called our church to ask for help. He was outraged, saying I had dishonored him. I hadn’t meant to harm him, so I called back and apologized, assuring a member of the pastoral staff that everything was fine. She comforted me, told me it was okay, that marriage is sometimes hard and I needn’t worry about having damaged my husband’s reputation. That was the end of the conversation.

During subsequent arguments over the next 11 years, my husband spat in my face, pushed me, told me I acted like a whore. I desperately wanted to provide an intact family for my children. I wanted to stay married, to keep my promise, to please my husband whom I loved. So each time I forgave him, admitted and apologized for my part in triggering his anger, and resolved to do better.

“I desperately wanted to provide an intact family for my children.”

Then one day my husband threw one of our sons across a room. When I told him not to hit the boy, he pushed me out into the hallway, slammed the door, and returned to “disciplining.” I panicked, kicking and shoving the door until it came off its hinges. He turned away from our son and came after me. Face against mine, he yelled at me to leave. He pulled back his arm, elbow at chin height, and made a fist to strike me. I looked at the floor.

He put his arm down, picked up his Bible, pressed it against my cheek and shoved. He told me I needed to read it more. Told me the man is the head of the family. That I had no family. As he yelled, he held his Bible with one hand and slapped his bare chest with the other until his skin blazed red. He put his face against mine and blew hard, spitting.

“Each time I forgave him, admitted and apologized for my part in triggering his anger, and resolved to do better.”

Taking off his wedding band as he stormed away, he spun and threw it at my face. He told me to get out of his house. I told him I would not leave my family. “Who is your family?!” he screamed. I finally choked out, “My children are my family.” My heart broke.

Throughout that day and night, I pretended everything was fine as I quietly contacted my parents to get us out. They never questioned me. The next day my sons and I boarded a tiny plane that took us away from him, away from our home, school, friends, pets, photographs. Family took us in. I was ashamed. I felt like a Judas.

 

When I met with an intake counselor at Families First a few weeks later, she handed me a checklist of behaviors and asked me to mark the ones I had done to my husband. Then she gave me a second copy of the list and asked me to mark the ones he had done to me. (It was not lost on me that a checklist existed of the many behaviors that happened in our household that I thought were private, that people didn’t know about, that I had never told anyone.) The counselor put the two lists side by side, looked me in the eyes, and said slowly as she tapped his list, “There is nothing you could have done that would justify someone treating you this way.”

"Journey" was the best way I could describe the file of communications and legal documents I gathered as we left my now ex-husband.

“Journey” was the best way I could describe the file of communications and legal documents I gathered as we left my now ex-husband.

I have a file of the communications and court documents pertaining to our departure labeled “April 2012 Journey.” That journey continues for me and for my children, even though we are in a good place now.

“It is not an easy journey – not easy to begin, not easy to continue.”

However, when I think about women who don’t have the support system I had – college education; work history; good credit; family who bought plane tickets on the spot; a former employer who re-hired me; friends who gave us dishes, clothes, toys, dignity – when I think about women who are lacking any of those things, I’m right back in that hallway, staring at that fist, trying to gather the courage to leave.

It is not an easy journey – not easy to begin, not easy to continue. This is the 19th year of the Spirit & Place Festival and the festival will explore JOURNEY with events from November 7-16, 2014. Perhaps the conversation could include how our community can be one that listens supportively, gives generously without hesitation or judgment, and actively builds a foundation of encouragement on which we each can journey safely.

 

About the author

Andrea Feaster is a market research analyst who lives and works just north of Indianapolis. She now attends Church for the Nations, blogs sporadically at https://medium.com/@a_feaster, and tweets at @a_feaster.

My Journey

Erika Kind

Erika Kind

By Erika Kind

For a long time I was dissatisfied with living here in Liechtenstein. I did not feel comfortable. I always dreamed about living somewhere in the US, preferably near the ocean. Eventually, I was lucky enough to be able to spend a year in the states in the suburban of Buffalo with my young family. It was the best year in my life. I was far away from my surrounding and felt free for the first time in my life. My family was undisturbed by any relatives telling us what to do, how to plan our lives or how to raise our children.  To me, America represented the land of liberty.

“It is not about the place or even your arrival. It is about the journey and your experiences you have before you arrive at the place!”

However, the year went by and we had to move back to Liechtenstein again. Back in old unwanted situations in an unwanted area – back in our small country where everybody knows everybody or at least it feels like it. I was struggling with being back for a long time, but after a few years I discovered California. I fell in love with SoCal instantly. Here I not only had the American way of life, but also the warm climate and the ocean. It felt like paradise to me and I have travelled there several times. Once again, I had the desire to live there in a beautiful house above the ocean.

During that time I went into a personal and a marriage crisis. For six months, while my husband and I worked through that crisis, I was also undergoing a huge transformation process. I discovered myself and life in a whole new way. It was so insightful that I even started to write a book of liberation. My own life turned out to a pot of countless examples. At the end of those six months I stood at the beginning again, free to start over. I began to reinvent my life with everything I had learned. I freed myself from the belief that I have to bow to other people’s wishes. I even ended up going to California, which turned out to my spiritual fuel station for insights and inspiration.

One day sitting in my big and beautiful garden in Liechtenstein I looked out into the blue sky, listened to the birds’ twittering, watched the bees and butterflies surrounding my lavender bushes, looked towards the mountains and realized (probably for the first time in my life) the gift I was given. All of a sudden I understood that I never ever could have been happy in California without first discovering my happiness within. Now, I am happy wherever I am because I am happy with the person I am with from birth to death. I don’t need to limit myself to one place since I can have it all.

It is not about the place or even your arrival. It is about the journey and your experiences you have before you arrive at the place! The happiest place to be is always with you, since it is part of yourself!

In Love and Light.

About the author

Erika has a practice for aromatherapy and self-development and also works as a singer. She was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1970. Today she lives with her husband and their three children in the Principality of Liechtenstein in the heart of Europe. “I’m Free” has been published in German and Kind is the author of a poetry book with the German title “Wie das Leben schreibt…”