Isolation... I've lived a lifetime in isolation. I've lived a lifetime wearing a mask to protect myself from others. Isolation, after freeing myself from the cult's isolation.
If you can divide and create fear. You have succeeded in destroying hope. You've succeeded in being able to control a population.
If you want to know more about that life, read Falling Silence. It is my story of being born and raised in a cult, leaving and learning to live in a world I was raised to fear as evil.
At fifty-eight years old and unemployed, I've been living with my sons for almost a year now, living off my savings. Formerly, I was in beautiful Florida in my own apartment with a view of the pool and minutes away from the beach. I loved my job and had every intention of retiring in that position.
I had finally succeeded in my goals of transitioning into this strange world, after leaving the cult. In one year, all my debts would have been paid off. I had plans to travel the world, on my vacation time, and begin to write. Hope... hope was abundant in my life.
About six months before COVID-19 was heard of, my job was eliminated because I was on a team where 90% of the team members were H1B Visas workers. The recruiting company, hiring and mid-level managers were all H1B Visas workers. I was replaced, after training my third team, by an H1B Visa worker. I have seen state and federal laws broken, but no one dare report for fear of loosing their job. Most H1B visa workers don't know about these laws. These women were surprised when they asked why I wouldn't work more than forty hours a week and not get paid. When I explained state law, they showed confusion.
When 90% of a workforce is of one race, regardless of the race, racial discrimination has occurred. In my experience, this discrimination was against Americans. Americans of all races. It isn't that they are not qualified to do the job, from my experience, it was because they weren't as easy to control and foreign labor was cheaper. I've seen how managers will place a job description based off a H1B candidate's skill and then be able to claim that no American candidates qualified. I've seen hiring managers state that they won't even interview an American candidate because they already have an H1B visa candidate in mind.
Most of what is earned by these foreign workers, is sent back to another country to take care of their families. I can't fault anyone for striving to better themselves. These individuals that I worked with, were wonderful individuals. I share this, experience because it is a hot topic politically and amongst Americans who are struggling to feed their families. Secure IT jobs are being held by foreign workers and other countries economies are being supported by American companies whose priority is profit and seniority bonuses. Politicians are placing a higher priority on helping to build another countries economy, over our own, each time they vote to extend and increase the H1B visa program.
With almost 30 million Americans that are unemployed. The politicians that they voted into office, have betrayed them, while they maintain a steady income. The media appears to have forgotten middle American families and businesses.
To give you the depth of what we are facing in the US, Australia has a population of 25.5 million that is spread out throughout their country. The US currently has 26.5 million unemployed due to the lock down. These are individuals who can no longer feed their families. We don't have Universal Income in the US. We received a one time $1200 check.
The US has a population of 331 million. New York Cities population is 18.8 million. Highly dense and many live in 200 sq ft apartments. These facts are lost in the media as they discuss America.
When I lost my job it was a setback. I have a history of overcoming setbacks. Debts wouldn't be paid off. I'd have serious financial ramifications due to being forced to end my lease early. I'd have to postpone traveling the world. But, with focus and hard work... I'd overcome and rise once more. It wasn't long before I was being called to interview again. Because of my lease history now, I was limited to where I could relocate to. I would have to live with family, until I could restore my credit. New York and Arizona were my two options.
I'm use to living lean. I had relocated to Florida at my own expense. Everything that came with me, had to fit into three suitcases and a carry one, or it didn't come. I borrowed money from my son for the airfare and expenses to get into a new apartment. I lived a minimalist lifestyle. I slept on an air mattress, stood and ate at the kitchen bar, my office was a card table and folding chairs.
An empty apartment with hardwood floors was like having my own dance studio. I had no complaints. When I left, everything I had in the apartment fit into my SUV.
I share this in an effort to help you understand the frustration that is being seen in the protest and to help understand the flags that are being carried. For many Americans, they lost everything without any fault of their own in 2008. They have taken care of family members who lost their retirement in the economic crash. Many, such as I have worked ten years to recover. And just when hope was being seen, another wave knocked us back down.
I share because my greatest challenge in transitioning into this strange world, has been employment. I have been in contract positions going from different jobs for years. It has been an honor working with so many teams and seeing so many different workplace environments. I share this to help you understand, my level of understanding those that are being shown protesting.
There has been times in my life I have slept in my car, on friend's couches and if it wasn't for my sons opening up their home to me, I'd be homeless on the street. I'm grateful my son has been able to maintain his employment. But there is this underlying fear that if he lost his job, I would have no where to go. My sons could go live with their father. I have no family to live with, except my children. There is this guilt of being a burden on my children, when I as a parent should be the one that should be able to be a strong support for them, should they need.
I share this because I know what it is like to go hungry, in order to ensure your kids are feed. I went through the 2008 housing and economic crash and lost everything. That was the catalyst for me leaving the cult. I've spent the next decade driving myself hard to obtain my degrees and to transition into having a steady and sustainable income. I've been here and done this once before... as many Americans have. Those who have maintained steady employment, would find this difficult to understand.
Because of my families prior experience, we know how to rally the troops and support each other, in times of need. I can't complain about my life during COVID-19. I am better off than most.
I live in my son's beautiful home with a theatre. I have my own room, office and workout space. I am surrounded with family who are supportive of my transitioning into writing, knowing that at my age and with 30 million unemployed, their mom is going to be here for a while... maybe even the rest of my life.
My children know me well enough, from watching me the last ten years, that I will drive hard to ensure that doesn't happen. I will give it everything I have. I also know that I will always have a home... if my children can keep their jobs. My sons and I have talked, and we would relocate to another state if the need arose. When our ability to live, rests on the IT field that is being replaced by H1B workers, it is something that we keep a close eye on. My children have seen what has occurred with me, they understand the reality of what can occur. We are very active in researching bills and politicians.
Many don't have the luxury of feeling safe to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. I understand their fears. I understand the hurt when they feel that their voice isn't being hears by politicians.
The last decade after leaving the cult, I've been an observer. Watching this population, which thought so differently, than what I was raised in. I've watched how you dress, talk and engage with each other. I've research different lifestyles. All in an effort to understand you better. In an effort to understand myself.
I don't judge or condemn. I listen. I listen to learn. My opinion doesn't really matter, yours does. I already know mine, I want to understand yours.
I was grateful when my notifications stated that Jimmy Im had begun following me on Twitter. I looked at his page and found a wonderful article, entitled
Yes, NYC Lockdown Is Harder Than You’d Believe (Quarantine Confessions of a New Yorker) I highly recommend you read it.
It was his article that I decided to share my experience. I found his article brilliant and provided great value into understanding how COVID-19 impacts cities compared to how it effects smaller communities.
The greatest challenge, in my opinion with COVID-19, is the division that we are facing, in our minds. We can overcome the physical division that we are being forced to do. I believe that the mental division will have greater psychological ramification that will take years to recover from. I'd recommend the reading of The Righteous Mind — Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt. I'm currently listening to it on Audible. Brilliantly written and documented.
Let's talk division of lifestyle between compact cities and spread out small towns. I grew up in a tiny town, when I was in the cult. I understand that lifestyle. I also have lived in a high rise in Chicago, and taken public transportation. I live six hours from NYC.
In small communities, everyone knows each other by their first name. They look after each other. For these small towns, you'll most likely find them voluntarily self-distancing and wearing masks. They understand that when one member of their community is effected, it can effect everyone. Business would most likely start putting in safety measures, long before being asked to, so their neighbors can feel safe in shopping in their store. I believe you'll find this also in small businesses within large cities. Their customers, are an extension to their families. They understand the need to take care of their customers, if they are going to survive being in business. This business practice occurred long before COVID-19. Small businesses are the heart of America.
Individuals living in small communities, are most likely to have gardens and can much of their own food. They most likely will have food storage. Many mom's will already be cutting their husband and children's hair. Their meals are mostly cooked at home and they eat around the table as a family.
Home schooling can be a norm, or easily picked up. There are plenty of resources available online. Living life with minimal need of government help, is a pride these small communities take in themselves. You'll find that many will own guns and that they use them to hunt and feed their families. They fish to feed their families. Don't assume that these individuals in small communities are uneducated.
Life in these small communities have pretty much been unaffected by COVID-19. Yet... because of the large city in their state, state wide measure are taken that effect them. Businesses are closed down and deemed "non-essential." They are being told that buying seeds to plant a garden to feed their families is now non-essential. Their lives are disrupted, because of the extended ramifications of COVID-19, not the direct ramifications. Hospitals who haven't seen a COVID-19 patient are being told to not perform many services. Medical staff is being furloughed. Their community is being plagued by an economic virus.
Resentment can begin to occur, when their voice is not being heard. This is what you are seeing in the news. For those who are in large cities, it seems selfish. For those who are in small communities, the large cities are being selfish. The division begins to spread. Fear and mistrust are more quickly spread than coughing and spreading the flue. You can't wear a mask to avoid catching it. You can't wash your hands to prevent its spreading.
I live six hours from NYC. Bigger than the small town like I described and grew up in. But I see the same similarities of actions. I watch the small community and the large city just a few hours away. I see the division grow.
Before New York was locked down, my son who is a CTO had all the employees begin working at home. Concerned about me, being in the "at risk" group due to my age. We began social distancing long before that became a buzz word or was enforced.
They would either go to a drive up to pick up food, or we cooked at home. For almost three weeks we lived off our food storage. A reminder of the past that we took into the future.
I overheard the whispers of my sons as they discussed how to keep me safe. I heard their concerns over what they should do, if I had to be taken to the hospital. They paid close attention and researched all treatment options, to be prepared if they had to help make decisions for me. Their research was national and global.
I saw the stress on my son's face as he did video conference calls to help quiet the fears of the employees. To reassure them, that the company was doing everything possible to keep their jobs. Their jobs though, relied on restaurants staying open.
I listened to their conference calls as these employees began brain storming to find ways that they could help the restaurants communicate better with their customers. Ways they could help these restaurants stay open. I listened as they shared stories of their neighbors who had bars, that were now doing drive up service and making meals, trying to keep their employees working and being able to feed their families.
I saw unity and community care being extended out. Genuine care to help keep the community well. As NYC cases and deaths arose, lockdowns and restrictions were extended. I listened as everyone continue to encourage each other to stay positive. They began to discuss if there was things they could do as a small company to help small businesses in NYC stay open. I watched as they strived to bridge the divide to the city that was impacting their ability to maintain their livelihood, even though our area wasn't affected by COVID-19, like NYC was.
When the government small business loans were obtained. I listened as they discussed who they could hire that had lost their job, to help another be able to continue feed their families. I heard them talk about what systems they could put in place to help their small business clientele stay in business with this longer duration.
Daily my sons and I listened to the White House Pressers, because we all wanted first hand information. We increased our research to the facts. We studied what other nations were doing. We discussed what was being shared on social media and the news media and cross referenced that with information we were reading elsewhere. We were in research mode, to ensure we were making fact based decisions. We are diverse in our political affiliation. But we understand the reasons for our choice. I may not agree nor did I vote for their candidate, but I understand why they did. Their candidate directly addressed their hot points.
No topic is off the table in my family. We are as diverse in our thoughts and opinions as you can get. We have three rules.
- You can't demean another's point of view.
- You have to articulate your opinion and share the sources that helped you to formulate your opinion.
- You have to ask clarifying questions if you don't understand.
Every politician and news source was analyzed and scrutinized. This was life or death. This was our future in their hands. Knowing it is an election year, we had to be informed when we stepped into that voting booth.
Our private chat channel flew with links to different resources we were finding. Daily discussions occurred. We didn't always agree. But we always walked away understanding why the other person had formulated their opinion. Our primary objective was the same. Implementation was often different.
No matter who sits in the White House, my family will sit around the table. Something we had to learned to do after each of us, at various stages, left the cult. We have the best philosophical discussions on a variety of topics.
My isolation with COVID-19 was most effected by the realization that we have reached a tipping point. Humanity will not be the same. We are evolving as a species and how that evolution ends up, is an unknown. I went back into deep observation and research mode, just as I had, after I left the cult.
Having almost 40k followers from all around the world on my various social media platforms, gave me insight into first hand experiences. Here I had the world at my fingertips. I was traveling the world and talking with individuals without leaving my home. Yet, I found a language barrier, not in the language itself, but in the ability to communicate and share thoughts about this historical event we are all going through.
Emotions were high. Opinions were often firm. Listening to understand another person's opinion was increasingly becoming rare. Demeaning and belittling others was common. Isolating oneself into only listening to similar thoughts, by blocking, was rampant. The spread of cults were occurring right before my eyes. Each not believing they were a cult, but pointing fingers at others and claiming they were cults.
The world I had been taught to fear, I desired to embrace. I began to see cult mentality thinking as we became more divided due to fear of loss. I watched this plague sweep my nation. The fear of loss of life, jobs, and lifestyles. This was deeply disturbing to see. A new evolution of my transformation from the cult life was triggered and I began a new lessons that required me to learn. My failures would help me better know how to succeed. I quickly learned valuable lessons in the art of communicating on social media.
"I'm grateful that the presidential impeachment has shown me how dysfunctional our government is and the need for both parties to improve." This comment caused me to be blocked by an author who had been a mentor to me in becoming an author and writing my book Falling Silence.
This gentleman doesn't know me. I am just another comment and press of the block button when someone doesn't agree with him. I respect his decision. It is his account and his choice who he wants to engage with and show up on his feed. He probably did me a favor by keeping the trolls away from me.
Of course, I was saddened by his choice. It was his books that he had written a decade earlier about strong women and his books about him finding himself, that gave me strength to write my own memoir. He is notorious and unapologetic for being himself. In his memoir series, he shared the depth of himself, struggles and imperfection. It was in reading his story, that gave me the strength for me to not fear, sharing my personal and private details of my story.
I am an author because of the work he did years ago, to become an indie author. I nickname him "The Father of Indie." The level of intimate detail that I share in Falling Silence I can attribute to this man's willingness to share his life.
Lesson learned. Don't engage in comments on politics, just share your thoughts with those you trust.
Lesson two. In a direct message with another author mentor who had a profound impact in my releasing Falling Silence and continuing on as an author, provided me another life lesson. If you haven't met face to face... don't talk politics.
"I didn't vote for Trump. But, if you want Trump out of office, then the Democratic party had one job to do and they failed. To get a candidate to run that could unite this country. No more excuses, no more blaming. Don't tell me that out of millions of individuals in our nation we can't find one person who is capable of uniting both parties and the American people. Show me results." Yes... I'm a bit stronger when I am talking with someone I have a relationship with and feel I can trust. I was blocked.
I still read these two authors books. I'll still tell individuals to read their writing. I have no issue with them blocking me. I respect their opinions. I see validity in much of what they share. I also see bias and them not providing full documentation of facts. Whether it is because they have failed to research the topic and just pressed that retweet button, or whether they have researched it and still fill the original tweet reflects their opinion, I don't know. Sometimes I wince because I know that the original tweet has left out some facts in order to promote an agenda driven viewpoint.
These two experiences gave me insight to the level of divisive communication impacting our society. Any other topic, we'd probably have an enjoyable conversation. Yet, I was seeing how easily it was to discard another viewpoint and how this was filtering into relationships with family and friends. I was a stranger. One tap of a button and I would be out of their lives. That's not so easy to do when you have an emotional connection with others.
The next choice of action was mine to make. I smiled at the thought. I began sharing when one of them had books or interviews they were releasing. Because I was blocked, they would never see it. That wasn't my intent. I had their names and their impact in my life in becoming an author, in my books that were released and in editors hands to be released. I'm not removing them. Their contribution and value in my life, wasn't diminished by their choice to tap a block button.
My intent was to stay the course in learning what I could from these two individuals and to share beautiful writing to readers who could escape into their world of words that they wrote. To provide other indie authors insight into the processes these two have established, to be successful independent authors.
Yet, the mask I had removed after leaving the cult, I found I was putting back on. The mask of trying to fit into group-think mentality, in order to be accepted. The silence I had vowed to never incorporate into my life, I began to implement silence again. It was the fear of loss. Fear of not being accepted. Fear of having my career as an author die before it ever began. Fear... I had vowed to not succumb to fear again... yet here I was... fearing once again that I wouldn't never be accepted in this world. It wasn't COVID-19 that I feared. It was the spread of the cult mentality that caused me fear. I didn't fall into any group, because I understood both sides had valid positions.
I refused to hate another because their belief differed from my own. For me to succumb to that mentality, I would have lost everything I had worked so hard to overcome over the last ten years. I might as well be back in the cult wearing my mask and pointing the fingers of "We're right... you're wrong... so you are evil."
I'd worked too hard to overcome that mentality. I was bound determined not to return. If that meant I wouldn't be accepted into this world, I would live with those consequences. Depression began to set in. The feeling of hopelessness that the last ten years had all been in vain. Doubts began to arise.
I could put on the mask of confidence, smile and make videos of me reading my poetry. I was an expert at wearing this mask. But when the camera was off, I would succumb to tears. Doubts would cloud over me. I had to return to my processes of visualizations to work through the emotional response and triggers to this life experience.
I had worked so hard to obtain my degrees and skills to "make it" in this world and with COVID-19, I knew traditional employment was no longer an option. Writing was my last hope. As a non-fiction author that writes about motivation and overcoming, hope was essential. If I lost hope, how could I articulate how to maintain hope to others.
To overcome, I had to plug back into the processes of overcoming and restoring hope. I accepted this evolution I was going through. I accepted my life was on a new path than I had planned. But I wouldn't accept defeat. I began to write the books I needed to read. I began to create the workbooks, I needed to use to get through COVID-19 and its toxic social and political environment. It didn't matter if anyone else bought my books. I would have them for me.
Writing became therapy for me. To write is to breath, I often will say. As a non-fiction motivational author, I wrote from my heart what I needed to hear every day to get through this new lifestyle. To hang on to hope as every day it seemed to unravel before my eyes. I celebrated the wins of the day. Some days, I admit my win was getting out of bed, showering and recording a verse from my poetry collection. Forcing myself to look at myself in the eye as I spoke words of hope. The future me, looking at the present me watching the former me. I bridged time. In those moments I am determined not to fail the person I am becoming.
I wrote for me. I wrote for you. I wrote with no expectation of becoming a New York Times best seller. I simply wrote. I pressed that release button and repeated the process. The past two years of intense writing was not going to be in vain. 2020 was the year that I would power release these books that were in que. I looked at my savings and set a budget of how I could hire an editor to get my books released.
As meager as my savings were, I would stretch it out to help another feed their family. That was my contribution to fighting COVID-19. If an author was giving away books, I would get them and was determined to read and write a review. I had read fifty books in 2019, I needed to beat that in 2020.
I had a plan to integrate into this world, and though adjusted had to be made, I would work that plan. I would drive myself hard to ensure that when I looked back, at the end of 2020, I would do so without any regrets. I would have given it my best. I would have given it my all.
Seven days a week my alarm goes off at 4:30 am. Seven days a week I write 8-10 hours a day. I drive myself hard. I drive myself to fight past the fears. I drive myself until I collapse. Then I rest for a few days and start driving some more. I smile when other authors share how they are wanting to stay in bed, but are forcing themselves out to write. We all are writing and thinking of our readers. Strangers that we will never know. But we think of you and try our best to give you some form of escape from this uncertainty we are all living.
I spend my initial morning activity combing through my social media. I'm grateful for every comment. Grateful for the small acts of kindness with a tap of the like button. It tells me, that my words gave you hope. I'm grateful for every individual who shares their thoughts about their experience. Each helps to give me courage to continue.
My first thought in the morning has become,
- "What can I write today, to help another individual feel hope for one day?"
- "What can I write today, to help bridge this gap and unite people?"
When I sit down to my computer in the morning and watch the sun rise, this is what I think about. This is what frames my day. I have no control over the virus. I can't control current politicians and laws. All I can do is write. To share that this path of division, isn't a path any of us want to take.
When I become overwhelmed, I lay down and think about you. I think about what I can write to help you, when you become overwhelmed and are laying in bed, not wanting to face another day. I understand, because I have been there.
Years ago, I have gone to the depths where no hope was to be found. I shouldn't be alive, yet I am. So I write. I will write till my last breath that I take.
My books may never be read. My books may be read by someone long after I am old and have gone on to the next realm. I have no control over when my books will be read. But, if I don't write. My words will remain silent. I choose to give them wings. To release them to find those that may benefit from reading them.
Yes, I'll wear the mask on my face when I walk out my door. But I've removed the mask to silence my voice. Whether I am accepted or not, no longer is my concern. I will continue to share my journey and my struggles to overcome. If only one person finds value in what I share, then my efforts have found their purpose.
When one begins to think their position is superior to another's, are closed to listening to another point of view, and begins to isolate with only like minded individuals... it is a cult mentality. The danger in group-think is it tends to escalate into demeaning and attacking others.
Unless we are willing to listen, to share our experiences and to find our commonalities, it won't be COVID-19 that destroys us, it will be our fears and hate of those who think differently and have a different opinion than our own.
Who am I to be so bold to make that statement?
I am the Blue Flame Warrior Woman and With Wings of Blue Flame I Rise Once More. And that's not going to make any sense to you at all, unless you've read my book or watched the video above. It is my mantra I state that provides me a visualization of my Blue Ember of Strength, igniting within and sending blue flames through my body, igniting me with inner strength. Wings of Blue Flame extend and I take flight and rise once more from the feelings of despair and hopelessness. I visualize myself with my Shield of Hope and Sword of Truth in my hand, as I rise. The Beast... White Warrior Woman... Blue Shadows.... oh... just read my books. I share my visualizations.
For now my friend I can only I extend my hand out to you and ask...
Shall we begin?