Spiritual Healing (a copy of my admissions essay to seminary)

“Spirit of life, come unto me. Move in my heart, all the stirrings of compassion. Blow in the wind, rise in the sea, move in the hand-giving life the shape of justice. Roots hold me close, wings set me free. Spirit of life, come to me. Come, to me.” So goes humn 123, in Signing the Living Tradition affectionately known as the ‘Grey Hymnal’ in Unitarian Universalist congregations. This hymn, my favorite, and a quintessential ‘UU’ hymn, has defined my life from birth, and ultimately will sustain me through death. 

I was born a Unitarian Univeralist. There is no other way to explain my life and the way it has unfolded. In Unitarian Universalism, we have seven principles to guide our lives by, and six sources from which we draw our spiritual inspiration. My parents met while playing soccer outside the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland, and while they didn’t know it then-(they married in a Presbyterian Church known as ‘Old Stone’ in Cleveland, Ohio). Both my parents would later take me and my sisters as children to the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland, Ohio. I remember the smells, of rosin from music lessons, and dust from the old books in the library. I participated in two of my favorite musicals, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar

I loved the story of Joseph, as an autistic child. I also related to his coat of many dreams, because I was often a creative child who enjoyed helping others. I also loved the story of Jesus as told in Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s amazing musical, as a radical seeker of justice and peace, and ultimate martyr for a cause most of his compatriots did not understand. What I also loved most about the story of Jesus, especially in the way the Musical presented it, was the lingering questions. Who was this man? Was he a man, or the son of god? How did he change our society and culture as we know it? Later, when I would read the Old Testament and New Testament in College, this furthered my faith as a Unitarian Universalist. How can we live our lives according to who Jesus was as a human being? What does that say about our nature? And how, like Joseph, can we bring dreams of hope, justice, peace, and love to our future, even if our peers do not understand it at the time? As it says in Joseph, “Go go, go Joseph, you know what they say, go go, go Joseph you’ll make it someday, Sha-la-la Joseph, you’re doing fine. You and your dreamcoat, ahead of your time.” 

I’ve always been a creative and artistic soul, with a heart towards service and helping others. I’ve always been intensely spiritual, bordering near religious. This has put me at odds in some spots, as I feel I think, see, and perceive the world differently than most as a disabled person. I’ve been best friends with an orthodox Jewish girl, who later become non-binary as an adult. I’ve also been best friends with a Lutheran woman, who grew up in the Evangelical Lutheran Church but whose parents chose to join the NLCA split, due to their homophobia and misunderstanding of LGBTQ+ community. I’ve always been fascinated by the dynamics of these religious denominations, and have learned greatly from them. From my Jewish friend, I learned the value of Shabbat. From my Lutheran friend, a deeper love of Christ, and peace. Both of my friends also taught me not to hate those who don’t understand ‘liberal values’. People are people, and recognizing the ‘Inherent Worth and Dignity of all persons’ is our first principle in Unitarian Universalism. These experiences truly taught me to genuinely “Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your G-d.” Micah 6:8. 

I have worked in wonderful places and met such beautiful people. Missing my church when I first went off to College, I started a Unitarian Universalist Campus Ministry. I enjoyed sharing my faith with others, some of which are still attending UU congregations today. I also served as Co-Chair for the former Ohio Meadville District Unitarian Universalist Young Adult group. I became trained in ‘Our Whole Lives’ for Youth and Young Adults, and trained as a peer chaplain for Young Adults ages 18-35. I also volunteered for a year as a worship associate, taught Sunday school in Unitarian Universalist churches, and served my denomination as a delegate for two years.  I worked in education, serving as an ambassador for Cuyahoga Community College. I worked in hospitality, acting as a host for guests at a downtown hotel in Cleveland. Later, I would go on to serve as an AmeriCorps Member, serving high school youth on the east side of Cleveland helping them apply to college, submit FAFSA applications, and see their potential as children of G-d. 

Serving others has always been a deeply held passion. My love of theatre and writing has also served me well and blessed me with talents that, I hope, are suitable for a ministerial vocation. I enjoy helping my friends on their own spiritual paths, and have often served as a voice of counsel and healing when my friends need it most. Perhaps, most especially, my identity as a disabled person growing up in the ADA generation, has suited me for a time and place where disabled people can take their place amongst the able bodied community side by side, in love and justice. “One day, disabled people will live lives neither heroic nor tragic,” says E. Clare. I believe, G-d willing. That day is now. “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.” says Unitarian Rev. Theordore Parker. After my term of study, I hope in whatever small way I can, to refract the light further towards the side of love and of justice. Amein. 

Coat of Many Colors: An Autobiography from the #ADA Generation (*rough draft)

Chapter One: Eternity

“I closed my eyes, drew back the curtain, to see for certain-what I thought I knew. Far, far away. Someone was weeping, but-the world was sleeping. Any dream will do.” – Tim Rice,. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

“Back through the years I go wandering once again
Back to the seasons of my youth
I recall a box of rags that someone gave us
And how my mama put the rags to use
There were rags of many colors, every piece was small
And I didn’t have a coat and it was way down in the fall
Mama sewed the rags together sewing every piece with love
She made my coat of many colors that I was so proud of.” ~ Dolly Parton, Coat of Many Colors

I remember, crying. Sobbing. There was, So. Much. Yelling.

My mother had one of her infamous tantrums. If you could even call them that. Yelling and screaming, she had hurled epithets and slurs and slammed doors and broken- something. A glass plate, another bowl. Would my dad have scratches on his body this time? I always wondered how he hid his bruises, visible and invisible. I remember cowering in the laundry room, a high school student of 16, and begging to be free.

“I just want to leave Dad,” I said, “I just want to go, I can’t take it anymore!”

My father understood, he murmured softly and sympathetically so she wouldn’t overhear our conversation in the laundry room, though she was probably too drunk to care anyway.

“You’ll be 18 soon,” he said, “You’ll go to College and you’ll be free,” He promised. “You only have a few more years left Kell.”

If you think that’s cruel, it was not. You have no idea of the immense amount of privilege I was living with at the time, even I wasn’t aware of it until I began my first semester at a small private liberal arts college in North East Ohio,. You see, I was born in May 1993. Only 2 years and 9 months since the passage of the American with Disabilities Act granted disabled people full rights as private U.S. citizens with inherent worth and dignity, and the civil liberties that come with that. I was born hearing impaired, functionally deaf in my left ear. I was on the autism spectrum too. I had epilepsy starting at six-months old. I didn’t walk until I was two. I also have an eye condition called ‘Nystagmus’ which, while rendering most people legally blind or low vision, I remarkably have neither and maintain in the words of more than one ophthalmologist ‘fairly good vision for someone with Nystagmus’. That should’ve stopped me. Yet, my mother persisted.

I grew up with an IEP integrated with other students not knowing that I wouldn’t not go to college. I grew up in Shaker Heights, an Upper Middle Class Suburb. I went to private school, and public school. I had privilege.

Back to my mother’s breakdown. She did so many things that, later in life, would give me and my sisters lifelong trauma and PTSD. Yet, she too was sidelined as a child. She grew up disabled (though with far less disabilities) in the 1960s and 1970s and she was adopted. I often wonder, if she got angry at the world. Angry because things became too late for her. She couldn’t handle it all. So she collapsed. My mother has a fair amount of trauma as well. If our roles were switched, I wonder, what would she have become? She became a woman in tech in the 1990’s. Who would she have become with the ADA?

I cannot rewrite the past, nor apologize for what she did to me, my father especially, and I cannot forgive the trauma she laid upon my sisters. What I can do now, is look upon my life. Tell you all my story, and say. Wow. This is how we can make things better. This is how we can be better and do better.

There are so many disabled people of color out there who don’t have nearly as much privilege as I have, and a billion times more genius. I have seen it. They don’t deserve to be buried alive by our society. We all deserve to have our coats, and wear them. With pride. Joseph, King of Dreams, would be so proud.

The Book I Will One-Day Write

One day I will write a book. A terribly fraught emotional book. Wretched to look upon. One only blind eyes can read, and then. Only then. Will the truth of everything come out. When I carve out my heart, with a skilled knife, and throw it into the press. Mash the paper and blood and tissue together into a pulp. Creating pages of tragedy, happiness, mystery, and regret. One day I will write this book. When it is fully formed like a hulled kernel at the back of my mind and emotions. Until then, I set my misery aside, and trudge ever onwards. Through the muck and mire. Through the bombshells and barbed wire, the overgrown desolate battlefields. When that day comes, when my weariness is complete, the tragedy set, and I pick up my pen and ink, only then will you catch a glimpse of my mind.

When you do. Don’t be shocked I had to discard you and cut your tumor out of my heart.

You broke my spirit.

But I am still here. and MY story is worth telling.

Don’t Be So Sad

Don’t be sad please
You didn’t know how bad it was
It is worse than the glass honestly, I have so many stories

Like how she took Dana’s doors off it’s hinges because she needed to see her all the time.

After Dana called the cops on her for hitting her.

And more.

Do you see why, you get me upset, and everything, when you stalked me in high school, your friends dragged me in college, and you still watch me downtown?

It hurts so much

I needed you. I wrote you that letter freshman year you never contacted me, you choose another who you cheat on by stalking me downtown all the time, but you don’t even look like at me like the friend or person you once knew or loved.

I’m not an animal. In a zoo. I’m not a stupid fox. I’m a fucking person Mike. Maybe one day you’ll look in my eyes, and treat me like one.

I don’t know why I still have feelings. Logically I shouldn’t.

Insanity or destiny? Both? Idk 😐

Bleeding Heart

I give a lot of love to people

My sisters

My mother

The man who should’ve been my lover

They all seem to take

Take away the things

Without giving back

My friends give back

So does my church

Here I am alone, and my sister who just negotiated a 44k salary asks me in my poverty wages, if they can rent an Amazon movie and venmo me???

And my youngest sister is coming to live with my middle sister after my middle sister fully rejected me living with her?

Why am I always pushed away like this.

Why does everyone keep asking if I’m going to New Orleans for my birthday with someone, no! I’m obviously going alone, who would I go with???

None of you are here for me

So I have to be here for myself

Make time for myself

Friend zone people, friendzone Mike.

If he ever speaks to me again.

God he makes me cry

what I wouldn’t give for humanity among my closest loved ones. Friends and church are great

Loved ones and family is better.

I give everything to everyone and I’m tired.

Echo and Narcissus

After my cardiology appointment they told me my EKG was normal, but the results posted to mychart say a different story:

” SINUS RHYTHM WITH PREMATURE ATRIAL COMPLEXES
LOW VOLTAGE QRS, CONSIDER PULMONARY DISEASE, PERICARDIAL EFFUSION, OR NORMAL
VARIANT
BORDERLINE ECG”

So, I’m getting an echocardiogram done April 12th.

What I have not told people is that I’ve had little heart flippies at night, and some tension under my right armpit for some time now.

I’ve been consciously not thinking about it. Just pushing ahead.

I think about it, all the stress I’ve been under. All the trauma

It makes sense.

My heart is under duress, it’s quite literally broken.

There is the Greek myth Echo and Narcissus. In the legend, Hera mistakes the Wood Nymph Echo for one of Zeus’ lovers and dooms her to only ever repeat her name back to herself. Echo however, falls madly in love with Narcissus who is only in love with himself. Unable to openly express her affection, she is doomed to gaze upon him from afar. Eventually, Narcissus stares into a pond and falls madly in love with his own reflection. He turns into a flower, unable to move from the spot (Hera still being jealous and all).

Ship with No Sails

there once was a girl and she met a boy
hey hey ho, dilly dilly
she said ‘be my friend,’ to her sweetie
hey hey ho, dilly dilly
he tossed a baseball up in the air, and “yes” says he
hey hey ho, dilly dilly
just friends, they swore, though their folk knew twas something more-
hey hey ho, dilly dilly
now the boy he had a twin brother fair,
hey hey ho, dilly dilly
and where snake’s lie, a garden’s no place to die
hey hey ho, dilly dilly
from the age of seven to the age of fourteen
an innocent cradle, a love so pure and keen
but when the time came, a betrayal was made
hey hey ho, dilly dilly
the lad wasn’t ready to dance the song of love,
hey hey ho, dilly dilly
so his twin brother fair dared to steal her away
hey hey ho, dilly dilly
but fair wasn’t fair, and the brother played rough
when she said “no” her true love said “tough luck”
now to this day she has been shoved
hey hey ho, dilly dilly
if you ask him now, ‘how goes your love?’
hey hey ho, dilly dilly
He’ll say “ah we just had a parting of ways”
hey hey ho, dilly dilly
He’ll say “Life is all fair in love and war, so I won and settled the score!”
Now he has a little wife and a career that most men would kill for.
Hey hey ho, dilly dilly.
If you look around for the girl he loved,
hey hey ho, dilly dilly.
You’ll find the saddest truest love,
hey hey ho, dilly dilly
She’ll love him till her dying day,
as her health issues while her and wither her away
and she cries when she thinks of what he will say
hey hey ho, dilly dilly
She tried so hard to start her life
hey hey ho, dilly dilly
but without her true love, she lost her light
hey hey ho, dilly dilly
He stole her heart and ran away,
Parading it downtown for the world to see
Now her heart bleeds into her chest as the clock churns and she turns 28
Hey
Hey
Ho
Dilly
Dilly.

A True Story

Mike Watts
Kelly Heikkila

I know, You Know, that You’re Not Telling The Truth PINEAPPLES! SANTA BARBARA SKIESSSS!

In between the lines there’s a lot of obscurity.
I’m not inclined to resign to maturity.
If it’s alright, then you’re all wrong.
But why bounce around to the same damn song?
You’d rather run when you can’t crawl…

I know, you know, that I’m not telling the truth.
I know, you know, they just don’t have any proof.
Embrace the deception- learn how to bend,
Your worst inhibitions tend to psych you out in the end.

In the realm of compliments there’s isn’t any higher
Then a fabricated misdirection – fashioned by a liar
You think you hate – all that you love
Acting so surprised when it fits you like a glove

You want to find the answers and offer a solution
Everyone has a healthy dose of disillusion
If it’s a game yeah, they wanna play
You better load the dice cause they’ll do it anyway, but…
You’d rather run when you can’t crawl…

I know, you know, that I’m not telling the truth.
I know, you know, they just don’t have any proof.
Embrace the deception- learn how to bend,
Your worst inhibitions tend to psych you out in the end.

I know, you know….
I know, you know….
I know, you know….
I know, you know….

source: https://www.lyricsondemand.com/tvthemes/psychlyrics.html

Dont Stalk Me Monday

I’m begging you beforehand

Dont stalk me Monday

On my way to work

I’m a second away from collapsing

Relapsing into a mental health ward

I can’t stand being suicidal

Please stop this Michael

I dont understand

Please dont stalk me Monday

I just want to have a good day

These Are the Choices You Made, Mike.

I am a broken person.

Broken by years of depression, struggle, and trauma.

You chose a relationship, and continued to stalk, lead me on, and harass me while in a serious committed relationship. That’s cheating on your partner Not to mention harassment of me. These were the choices you made.

You also chose to:

– announce womens sporting events and pretend to care about womens rights as athletes, when your behavior proved otherwise

– Take advantage of two womens kindness and love

Probably let down your family in the process.

You roped your friends into this mess many of whom ate also my friends and coworkers, whom I know pass along information and gossip like you gossip and tell tales about me out of school.

You haven’t spoken to me since the 9th grade when you turned your back on me and left me in that fucking basement for your brother Tom to sexually harass me with his exposed penis.

You’re a coward and a con man.

You dont deserve the life you have.

But what do I know. I’m just the poor, sad, disabled girl on food stamps and Medicaid who used to be your friend from 2nd to 9th grade

What do I know.

I only loved you until it was t worth it anymore.

It you come around again please know I’m drawing a fucking line.

This is some unacceptable amount of bullshit a d I’m tired.

You’re a privileged motherfucker and need to. E taught some humility.

Take the dildo out of your fucking ass Mike.

I’m fucking sick.

YOLOL *lol*

Imma be posting reflections

its my intentions

so scusse me for saying

youse wrent’ goning to hire me anyway

so get off your high horses

I been on your golf courses

i’ll scream adios in june

ain’t playing this fucking tune

Virtual Communication versus Face to Face Communication During the Pandemic

I work as an AmeriCorps College Guide during the pandemic at College Now of Greater Cleveland. My host site is East Technical High School located on Quincy and East 55th in the heart of the East side of Cleveland, Ohio. We’ve recently begun working in the schools again per Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Hybrid model. It has been extremely difficult all year to reach students, and so the first thing I did was reach out to our high school guidance counselors to invite them to our office. The 9th and 10th grade guidance counselor came up to our office and met with us. She gave us some information we didn’t even know we had to ask for. She had a list of who had 3.00 or higher GPAS at the High School for 9th and 10th grade, and suggested that we focus on these students. We were surprised. None of this information was updated in our own database College Path, which we had gone through several times. Not only was the GPA of our students, which would’ve helped us with outreach, not updated, but the enrollment numbers were not current as well. Earlier in the year, me and my co-workers sent at least one-hundred letters to 9th graders we thought were enrolled at East Technical High School. However, there are less than 1000 students enrolled, and definitely less than 40, if not about 40 to 50 students all together. Learning this information was very satisfying! In one day we were able to get information that we had trouble acquiring over six months of service making our work all that more effective. In this case, working in person helped facilitate communication and relationships between people and helped us do our work. 

On the other hand, the transition our organization made from online work to working in the schools to the hybrid module was completely different and communicated in the most horrendous and irresponsible way possible. For the past six months we have worked virtually as AmeriCorps servicemembers and that has been a difficult, unanticipated, and challenging time. Despite all of this, there were clear expectations set from the beginning of our term of service during the start of the pandemic. Forms of communication including weekly meetings, daily emails, and end of day forms ensured we were on task and that work remained on track to completion. To be sure, challenges persisted from getting into the CMSD classrooms virtually, to coordinating with teachers, and innovating around these challenges became par for the course. Many of us became excited, if not relieved, when Hybrid came closer and closer. The expectation that an effectively communicated and efficiently staged and rolled out transition were to happen. Afterall, the students were just starting to get back into the schools as well, with some students and grades starting on some days, and some on other days and other weeks. So when, on a Friday, it was communicated that we were to go into the schools the following Monday or work downtown or face repercussions, especially with only half the staff and AmeriCorps vaccinated-including some servicemembers who weren’t able to get vaccinated at all, this became unacceptably irresponsible, and quite honestly childish. It disregarded our health, the health of our families, and the health of the students we served. It also caused a great deal of stress and disorganization and chaos. Work plans previously made during the week had to be reformatted. Additionally, some AmeriCorps service members discovered that their College Now offices weren’t accessible and had been used for other purposes by their schools, and when given a workspace lacked a key to their provided spaces. This lack of communication from upper management was disrespectful and hurtful to everyone who had worked during the pandemic. The same amount of respect and responsibility and commitment that staff at College Now and AmeriCorps members give every day should have been the same amount of respect, responsibility, and commitment upper management gave back in their communication of procedure of how staff and AmeriCorps were supposed to go back into the schools. It was extremely unprofessional or a professional organization.

I choose these two examples because I think it’s a good example of the breakdown in barriers of communication between people, especially when work becomes virtual versus in-person. When people work in-person more collaboration can occur and in some cases, more work can be done. Projects can be accomplished otherwise unthought of. Humans are a group-oriented species, so it stands to reason that working virtually causes wear and tear that wouldn’t occur when working together. I’ve read articles on so-called ‘virtual fatigue’ that occurs when people work from home, and personally I’ve been feeling quite a bit of cabin fever from working from the computer. I enjoy seeing people in person. I don’t enjoy being cooped up alone. I also read an article that stated that the frames we use in Zoom, Teams, and Google Meet, actually trigger our fight or flight response (Srikanth, 2021). Could it be that extended use of these platforms aggravates workers and causes increased workplace conflict and more need for mediation? That’s a boon to conflict mediators, but, not so great when people just want to get the job done. In the end, we can’t avoid virtual work. It is the future. As a disabled individual I’m aware of the benefits of working from home, I wouldn’t have been able to live on my own and support myself without working remotely this year. It would’ve been impossible. How do we create healthy remote work environments? One that actually facilitates communication and doesn’t destroy our natural human capacity for empathy. That is the question to be solved for the 21st century.