Saturday, November 7, 2020

Re-direct!


I have a small poster that rides with me on my dashboard. It sums up 7 months of displacement, and of sudden loss- my brother’s young son who died this summer. I read the passage on the poster and I am reminded how I sat for two days in an ICU, while my brother’s life was in peril. He almost died and all I could do was offer a pale trembling hand of comfort, a worn photo of my late daughter and my silver cross.

Upon returning to live out of my car, I sat in the passenger seat, hands folded together and asking God, “I know this is not your plans for me Lord, please help me to re-direct… and change me for the better!

Back on the Island, I prayed over the surgeries I need, and I was able to establish somewhat of a sleep schedule in my mini car. I usually awaken at 4- 5am to a very cold interior. However, with a fumble for the keys, within 15 minutes, I have a heated vehicle.

Over the course of this year, being without a home, I’ve been asked as to why I financed such a tiny car? This amuses me because I could not foresee two things- COVID-19 and myself rendered without shelter. In the area I safely park, I look around at the ‘family’ of others who are also now ‘car-camping’….. there are vans, RV’s, trucks with canopies and I have even seen bigger cars than mine outfitted and better equipped.

I believe I was naïve in my purchase as I thought if I bought the smallest car possible, then I would never be forced to sleep in it.

This was just one of many things that challenged me….and changed me during 2020!

Throughout this experience, I found comfort in the music I listen to on PRAISE 106.5 FM. A song that is on continuous re-loop in my head is the duet “There was Jesus” by Zach Williams and Dolly Parton. I’ve written before of Zach’s own battles with addictions and other challenges. This is why I’m drawn to his lyrics because they are believable.

In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing, in the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute, every moment
Where I've been or where I'm going
Even when I didn't know it
Or couldn't see it
There was Jesus…

There is a lot to be said for waking up in a chilly small space yet being able to turn on the heat and access the radio; both of which warm up the soul.  

I also listen to “Focus on the Family” and I feel better connected to this world. It helps me to re-direct where I am and what lays ahead of my day. I also have found reason to give a lot of Praise, over the recent events unfolding due to a great deal of people praying for me.

During the months passed, I have received many messages from those sharing they were keeping me in prayers and favour. Friends shared how their congregations had been holding me in prayer. On days when I felt less than whole and fighting the ailments I have- especially my heart and fibroids, I had to learn to redirect my pain and give thanks to those praying for me!

“Gratitude is our lifeline to JOY” ~ PRAISE 106.5 FM

The other morning, I was awake at 4:30 am, as the cold was biting through my layers of clothes. I turned on the radio to begin listening to Focus on the Family Speaker Patsy Clairmont.  

20 minutes later and I was hooked on the way she had spoken of serious subject matter- yet laced it with humour. She openly shared of her anxiety and of being abused as a 9-year-old little girl. The following is an excerpt from that presentation:

She mentioned of being confined in bed, still trapped in her younger self’s body, and asking God to give her the bigger picture for more bigger things. Yet she could not even handle the little things…like getting out of bed. As a married woman, she enrolled in Counselling, only to discover that she would be put to task when asked to not complain, whine, or exaggerate any situation, in addition to putting boundaries at her emotions. Patsy scoffed at the notion and laughed at the very thought of any of these suggestions. Her Counsellor also advised her to put the shards of life- the fragments into a Kaleidoscope and look at the great work of Christ that has been done in you! Patsy quoted scripture and from Proverbs: “It is a wise person to restrain their lips!” She burst into laughter as she relayed her reaction to her Counsellor suggesting Patsy go on a “Word Diet!”

The more I listened, the more I realized why I was connected to her speaking…my life mirrored a lot of what she honestly imparted. Patsy ended her talk by sharing her hunger for HOPE and Positivity!

When a visit to the local bookstore permits- there are plenty of self-help books that are able to place a bandage over the wounds, but it takes someone in the trenches- whose tenacity has spurred a relatable connection. The source of our unhappiness can be rooted far deeper than simply believing "WE Rock!"

These programs have been what I call Well Worship…because I have felt my empty well be refilled with encouragement, the spoken word and song.

The next morning, I tuned in to hear a rousing rendition of “Amazing Grace.” If ever a song can deliver emotion, it is this one. I titled my seat back and extended out my arms. My raspy voice joined in the words…” that saved a wretch like me.”  Soon, the tears were flowing and anyone driving on by, had quite the sight to see!

On another brisk autumn evening, I checked my messages before partaking in the hour + it takes for me to ‘settle in.’ A song that also evokes a great deal of emotion, is called “The Blessing” and is sung by the married couple Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes, along with Elevation Worship. The powerful words are riveting and redirected me to another door opening…. with scripture shared in a heartfelt message from a dear sister in Christ, Leanna:

Psalm 118: 5-7

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;

he brought me into a spacious place.

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.

What can mere mortals do to me?

The Lord is with me; he is my helper.

I look in triumph on my enemies.

Turns out that often we pray for something and think to ourselves Oh, this is what God meant….and then the tides turn in a redirection, which makes us question even more.

This is the case, as after 7 months of driving, breathing, sleeping, and surviving in my vehicle, an opportunity has opened for me, to my next chapter. At first, I believed it was connected solely to my health and my surgical procedures, yet as that one chapter remains…it is not the priority I now see unfolding.

As one chapter comes to an end and the chance to move somewhere (the location is undisclosed as to protect me), I look back on the valued contributions in the 7 years I lived on the Island. This points to how the Lord had me serve. Recently, I was gifted a bagful of knitted toques by a lady whose parents were Pastors and her brother’s missionaries. During the pandemic she has knitted and covered her trees in their yard with brightly coloured yarn objects. This spring, when I worked in construction, my driving route took me past her and her husbands home and I delighted in seeing the vibrant corner lot.

She contacted me and asked if I still wanted to go out and connect with those marginalized, by gifting them, her warm, knitted items. I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to redirect my own pain; by choosing to serve those with far greater needs. This blesses me to serve in a satisfying way. 

It also has helped me let go of the idea that I struggle with...one in which I am misguided to believe I need to earn my own worth; as I already have it, in the eyes of the grandest creator.

The following verse from Leanna Crawford's song: The Truth I'm Standing On... reflects on this perfect progress:

Right now I'm choosing to believe
Someday soon I'll look back and see
All the pain had a purpose
Your plan was perfect all along
This is the truth I'm standing on
~ Leanna Crawford

It means to me that a new and promising chapter lay ahead….one in which I am to follow this redirection, while God leads!



By Tonya L Alton


Saturday, October 17, 2020

Re- Imagining 2nd PHASE


 


“I think of Possessions, Power, Position and Prestige and realize it is better to Not attach oneself to something that can be easily burned.” ~ TL Alton

Life is about CHOICES. Everyday our paths are thrown into a trajectory that either reaps blessings or incites woe. 

This blog has been simmering for quite some time. However given my current state of poor health, memory loss and struggling for the right words, it has taken a significant amount of patience to compose. 

In the form of sleepless nights and anxiety, fears from my Strokes and a heart that has been working overtime, at night I tend to reach out to people and those of importance within our community. I feel in the quietude of the darkness to write from a place of revelation, is to remind myself of the short amount of clarity, which I have to do so. What helps is for me to read my Bible and Our Daily Bread.

I awoke one morning to a received reply that begins…

" I’m sorry Tonya to hear of your difficult year…."

And while I genuinely appreciate the kind words, I have to sit back and think…

"Wow! What did I say now...?

Then I reread my cluster of thoughts and it occurs to me: Am I the only one who has suffered, lost, had health issues and mounds of stress in 2020? 

Because sometimes I believe I am an army of one!

I have reacted at times this way and made the mistake of thinking so.  In my bubble of despair for many months, I read today the following quote...

"I have experienced firsthand, a continuous cycle of half- successes and total failures." - Billy Graham

I think of the countless others in our world, who have died because of COVID-19. Those who are struggling with long term effects of the virus and all of a sudden, I knew adjustments had to be made, in many ways in my own life. 

Some people do not believe they can change mid-life. Stuck in their ways, they feel it's too late. 

I am living proof, it is never to late to own the wrongs, and be authentic and accountable.

Therefore, my retelling here, is to bring awareness of the seeds that have been planted properly... that long after I am gone, I pray will be blessed with a bountiful crop. Here lays the prospect of remaining hopeful.

Throughout my years of writing, I usually do not read my previous posts. Yet I felt compelled to do so with those I’ve written for Wildflower and Root. I have even deleted one or two, due to the manner of madness, which elicited such posts. I have also removed forms of Social media and emails that have a trail of rejection from harsh words or triggers. 

I think of my initial reaction to reading such messages as having a recoil effect; compounded with harsh rejection and connected to an overpowering, woman figure in my life.

Sometimes I have responded to these messages, several I've deleted and honestly, others I have simply forgotten about. 

While I am awaiting two major surgeries; time is spent reflecting on what a stroke mind can recall and most importantly....alleviating as much stress as possible. At 49 years, I've experienced several strokes over the past few months. Having a hole in my heart allows easy access for blood clots to make their way through to my brain. In my research and inquiries, it is called a PFO. Essentially a hole between the two chambers of your heart.

 In making some important life decisions, I had to consider the bigger picture. What about the entire journey that has spanned over 7 years, of me residing on the Island?

Spending time alone, I have time to reflect on the passage I took to reside someplace that never wanted me.

I  know when I chose to hide my scars from society, connected to an act of violence in May 2013, I didn't realize the monster I thought was shut out, I had actually let in. 

So then, if my life lessons were to be scrutinized, what if the choices I made followed me and ended with the boomerang effect of malevolence?

I can backtrack a year ago and all the decisions I believed were wise ones; have unravelled or had devastating consequences. There is no need to take apart piece by piece what happened. I know with all my heart, I can pinpoint my tumble down the rabbit hole, from a faith course I took. One in which I was naïve and arrogant enough to believe that I had closed ALL doors to my past, including the enemy. 

When you nail the names of those who have caused you offence to the cross and genuinely forgive them, one better be prepared for Satan to be riled.

Therefore during these challenging times, I have been known to pursue something toxic, that it nearly has killed me. 

Truth is, an addiction I suffer from, was waiting in the dark shadows to sink its claws into my spine and pull me back to a murky pit. Foolish was I, to assume I slayed all my dragons. 

In other blogs and in my posts, I've already covered one of my other addictions~ Food, as a means of comfort (not all addictions are to be assumed as drugs or alcohol). Reality is, people can be addicted to many sources, however...this other one took me by surprise.

I needed some time for me to realize, the origin of some very poor decisions, required me to follow the thread... to the crevices that held the roots of my family. This addiction has seen me twice rendered without a home, it has cost me stable environments of shelter, warmth, and a sense of security.

This addiction is called “POVERTY.”

I grew up with a struggling single mom, who due to her addictions and deficiencies, wrestles with her own demons. I remember days of struggles, little food, picking up aluminum cans in ditches and wearing my brothers clothes to school. I recall cutting wood and stacking layers of birch to keep us warm throughout the ruthless, Okanagan winters. I learned to can goods at age twelve and in order to help as the breadwinner in our fragmented family, I cleaned alongside my mother. 

In class, I sat on my hands due to my embarrassment,  I would hide the mess of them scoured from cleaners and covered up bruises- as I know many others suffered the same. Ever so filled with anxiety, I wondered if the invisible stains left by childhood abuse, could be seen by others?

When classmates spoke of the fun had on their weekends, I remained silent.

Later in life, I promised myself that I would never continue on the poverty that consumed my family.

Yet in years advanced and relationships to follow, the natural order came to be struggle after struggle, which bills to pay and what to go without, all became poor options. Now added to the equation were three children, (one of my own), there were medical issues, soccer uniforms and school supplies. This added to the many layers of poverty and a promise once made- was to be broken.

One day, out tending to my 12- plot garden, I felt a heaviness upon me. Sitting amongst my tomato plants, rows of corn and sunflower patch, was the sinking feeling that another generation was growing up in the throes of POVERTY.

Only years later, I would be relieved to see how all three children strived to DO Better, BE Better and LIVE Better.

Following the end of my marriage, I set out on a new adventure. I fell in love, with someone who I helped immigrant from Britain. After helping him secure his job, several years of moves, which infiltrated income, masses of paperwork and the tragic, unexpected death of my daughter Shayla dying— all the stress and fighting drained resources. What he lacked in not standing up for me as a partner of 10 years, he made up for in assisting me to go to someplace I had dreamed of- relocating to Vancouver Island.

My major move, in which I sought independence- was to the Island. What I had not reckoned (only one week in visiting Victoria), was a poor choice I made in wanting to celebrate my newfound rental. This would lead to me being the survivor of a horrific crime when I encountered a stranger, who I thought was kindly offering a celebratory drink to toast. This chance meet and decision to drink (unknowingly- a heavily laden drink full of drugs), ended with me becoming a Statistic. 

I now was labelled a Rape Survivor, among the two Mental Health diagnosis’s; the worse of which is my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder I incurred, due to my daughter's unexpected death. 

Layer by layer, I was adding to the cloak of shame and distortion, I've carried.

However, once living on the Island, I’ve met many poor souls who are being sexually trafficked on a continual basis. I've held the hands of someone who has come back from being bought and violated. In seeing them again, I was witness to their fresh cut marks on their wrists, trying to release their inner pain. 

I know there is a bonding to their anguish. It's a gathering of vanquished souls that sees us connect rather than condemn.

Seven years later, on the Island, I’ve been rendered “home-free” twice. Each instance came to loss of shelter and me living out of my car. 

During each experience, I’ve taken dearest friends of mine - some willing, while others un-willingly- and strapped them into the passenger seat of my life. In my displacement they helped, supported, funded, and carried me through the mountain of desolation where at the summit, was once again Poverty.

During my bouts of being home free there also was a local church, who helped me twice in resounding ways of assistance~ by following the words they live by 6:8 Act JUSTLY, Love MERCY and Walk HUMBLY.

Later, I would be entrusted to lead the faith-based bereavement group GriefShare, at Saanich Baptist church.  Doing so, was one of the most positive and freeing experiences. Even though the course linked me to other people's loved ones passing...it was a constant reminder for the 5 1/2 months of being a leader that helped me to understand that I was not alone in my grief.

One night, after the group had ended, I could not sleep and went to the local convenience store. There I met a man, shivering outside in mid November, with not even a jacket on. He had tucked himself into a shrub for warmth and covering. His long, raven hair was in dark contrast contrast to my white peach, flesh. After grabbing a coffee for us both and a blanket from my car, I sat with this gentleman. He spoke through lips that had both tasted his drug of choice and now a hot beverage.  He confided of parents who are survivors of the residential schools. They had endured such horrendous abuse and suffering, no amount of payment can resolve the torrents of flashbacks from the generational sufferings. Impulsively, I reached out to his hands to pray and thought for a moment what that entailed. He nudged me and smiled saying: "Go ahead...it was never you that hurt me."

Having spent time with many on the street, I feel a kinship of brokenness. Therefore, when I found myself home free for the second time, I thought I would be able to convey my story to the press, without incidence. I could not have been more wrong and would learn the hard way~ Never let another person write about your own pain. 

I myself, over 25 years of reporting have made the same blunder. In all fairness though, it was not as if the new story did not speak of the truth, it simply was a distortion of it which I further speak about....

Yes that IS me in the most terrible photograph and yes I AM without a home. Yet what I had set out to do, was heavily muddled, with the best of my intentions. 

“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23

A chance to share my story had the opposite effect of what I had hoped to communicate. While I am about to own my words, I will share that having suffered a stroke, brain bleed and with a hole in my heart, I did not chose the best time to be trying to relay my message of poverty, with the local press. 

Furthermore, the basic truth is my story was never meant to illicit funds, nor evoke a level of sympathy. If such were the case, I would not have turned away money I was offered by some readers  and also the suggestion of a Go Fund Me. This summer, I also made the decision to turn down the chance to have my story featured, in a more prominent manner. 

Furthermore, in the midst of my displacement, my 22-year-old nephew had died suddenly and a genuine GO Fund Me was established, one in which I made a donation. In no way, did I want my situation to take away from his sudden, tragic, death.

In seeking my story to be told, no one had appointed me the new spokesperson for homelessness. If anything, most of my 7 years spent on the Island, I have had food, shelter and employment. What I hoped my message readers would potentially read, would be of all the individuals I had met that were being affected by COVID-19. Families displaced and living crammed into a small van, parents choosing which one would leave the home in fear of bringing the pandemic to their brood, Farmers I met, who were taking their horses to be sold an leaving their farmland. I was but a piece of a bigger picture where a new shift of homelessness was being formed out of the virus. The angle was, to say a new face of COVID-19 was emerging related to homelessness and to bring about awareness. Upon seeing my story in print, I realized I could not have messed up more my genuine intentions!  Although some assumed, upon seeing my vehicle in the photograph that I own it, the truth is- my car is financed and like many others during this time- its only one or two payments away from being seized. 

I also felt for the Reporter who wrote my story. At first, I was confused and it took sometime to realize in them recording my own story; I failed in offering the correct opinion I wanted to share. 

Every time I look at the person being showcased on the front pages or on-line, it is only a fragment of who I am. 

The same face you see as being homeless is the very same face you can Google to see the pain of a mother who saw her daughter last in the morgue and came to join in the fight for Safety Changes on McKinley Landing. The result: a 1/2 Million dollars awarded to ensure safety for others.   Only years later, that same face welcomed others in bereavement in a 5 month course called GriefShare that I was a leader in. It is the same person that is also an Advocate for the homeless for the past 20 years. That smile knows of mental illness, as a woman of positive change who has given presentations on her own Bipolar and PSTD and led a course on Mental Wellness. Yet not one of these faces can ultimately define me. For we all have written chapters and unfinished stories. 

Chosing to define and judge me by only 10 days of my life that rendered me without a home this March- when I was served by my former Landlords- is to have you the reader take a look into the mirror and I ask, would it be fair for me to judge you on the darkest moments of your life? 

During these moments of disparity, when I feel overwhelmed, I turn to Our Daily Bread as I can always find a solid source of encouragement, for the soul.

                                                                     

This year, I travelled back to the Reservoir- where my 21 year old Shayla passed away in 2011. I took the Build- a- Bear she had created for me before she died,  the one in a dancer's outfit. I set it upon one of many concrete barricades that are now in place because of her. It was only a small testament to the safety changes brought to McKinley Landing. God holds the bigger story~ the one of Eternity. The news story does not speak of me walking a mile in some one else’s shoes; rather it thrust me in a place I had no right being part of. I cannot continue to live in both worlds and expect understanding.


Due to the nature of my news story and My choice to share it, I have been turned down for housing several times as someone sees the news photo and when reading my story, it erases a chance to start over yet again and get out of storage, my things and my daughters ( what's left).

Most importantly, it has added to my poor health as winter looms and surgeries are delayed. 

I began to send beforehand, to potential places, various references from six years of house and pet sitting, character and personal references, I've worked hard to acquire. 

Recently, I had someone in a coffee shop ask me if I was "that homeless woman in the newspaper?"

I replied honestly: "I am her and so much more!" 

That was the end of the conversation.  

Later it had me thinking about a Netflix show I use to watch Titled: “The Kindness Diaries.”

I thought about all of those who have seen me be the receiver of compassion from various places: The Pharmacists (Dave, Troy and Rike) and Staff ( Gurdy and Sue) at Broadmead who have treated me with care and support. The many individuals at Gateway Baptist Church (Pastor Aaron Dyck), Isabella, Ted, Kinza and Darcy, who shared their serving heart, offered me a place of refuge and the kind words. I will never forget my positive interactions with the staff at the local Saanich Pool; the lady who always acknowledges me by sharing the value of treating me as a human being, with simply offering a shower.

One day after I had left the showers, I drove to the Pharmacy to see the Pharmacists. Upon leaving, I saw a stand that had keys inscribed with words. 

It reminded me of my novel... my unfinished book, Under the Sitka Tree, as I have a skeleton key which is prominent in the story line. 

A Cup of Local Kindness at Serious Coffee in Langford

This also reminded me of my visit to the Okanagan, where another wonderful friend gifted me her skills and fortitude in helping me fill out some important paperwork. I was prompted to send a card, a token of my gratitude and a note about “The Giving Keys”  https://www.thegivingkeys.com/            

I thought how wonderful it would be to become a part of something connected to homelessness in such a profound, beautiful way!


Later, in my Prayer Journal, I thought of the two ladies, dear friends who last year knew I was heading on a road of destruction. One warned me, each prayed and in the end I could see some of the seeds I had planted, had withered, and died amongst the rocks.

To understand the relapse of Poverty that took place is to revisit this spring. After 12 days of being late with my March rent, I was in financial trouble. I sat down and made some important decisions (before all of my strokes, and six hospital visits). 

Typing now, I think of the dramatic irony in all of this. Due to my situation, I needed to go back and revisit the Insurance Policy I’ve paid into for thirty years.

There are changes that I made back then. When things started to go awry with my job offer not working out and (COVID-19) had begun.  It was vital as ever… since I understand in my death, I will leave more(monetary) than in life. On one of many packed boxes, I got out my laptop and readdressed one of the addictions and monsters in my life ~ Poverty.

When my Insurance Policy was first obtained, my sole beneficiary was my late daughter. When she died in a horrible car wreck, I needed to reassess where and who the money would be given to?

Having a quarter of a million dollars to allocate, I wanted to give where it would matter and also be connected to my daughter and myself. One of her passions was dancing and I was able to donate to The Vancouver Dance Center.

https://thedancecentre.ca/overview/legacy-giving/shayla-rae-dawn-driver/


Another was the Coast Mental Health Foundation and the Langley Hospice Society.


I also did something different. I took a specific large amount and set it aside for someone connected to kindness. After all my years of interviewing individuals and stories on bouts of difficulties, I understand sincerity.

I put a specific clause about someone ( anyone- could be Landlords, strangers, those providing hospital care, (but excluding friends, family and loved ones already included generously in my Will). 

There has been some clarification  needed regarding this clause. I am not asking for anyone to gift me rent, then later collect! I have stated in my WILL that if I garner a secure place to reside, pay my monthly rent and it is a reasonable fee I can afford,  and not being judged as the homeless woman who lives in her car....then if someone chose to offer compassion to me in my time of need, especially related to Long- term affordable housing, then that large bulk amount would be left in my Will to them.

I simply do not want to die, alone ...in my car.

Therefore to this date…the amount remains ungifted and I continue without my own suite;  or a place to call home and not a shared room.

I see a paradox on many various levels…how the root of my addiction to POVERTY- a place of familiarity- is where my knowledge and experience of it; actually brings a warped sense of comfort.

Throughout my 20 years of volunteering with those in need, I have been the one who was blessed by instances which are reminders of why I changed my WILL and who it benefits.

Recently, I read a passage that spoke to me:

“After a lot of trial and error, God, I think I’ve learned something about Your will in my life. And the key is so simple. So often I have stubbornly knocked and banged my head against a door of decision or opportunity I wanted to push open. And so often nothing happened. The door just wouldn’t budge. At other times when You and I were tuned into the same channel, I barely touched the latch and the door swung open. Everything poured out: Happiness, opportunities for creativity, spiritual gifts, deepened relationship with friends and when the timing was right, a chance to share Your love with someone…Your guidance kind of snowballs God, from relying on You for dozens of little actions and decisions, we learn to seek Your guidance in times of big events, and even tragedies, in our lives. Gradually we begin to rely on YOU in everything we do, no matter how insignificant.” (From Struggles of a Sinner- Saint by Lucille Lavender).   

This passage reminds me of how despite all odds, I have remained still full of purpose and hope, eager to openly share the helplessness I have felt and health issues I am awaiting two surgeries for. This post is not to place me before or even equal to another human being. For when I set out to jot down my notes for this post, someone shared with me about the effects on their 11-month-old little grandbaby, who due to serious health issues, already has suffered two strokes!

I also prayed over my decision of my Residential Tenancy Claim against my former Landlords. The whole notion of forgiveness is to find freedom from disgrace! With being home free, I had taken on the role of Poverty, as a cloak of shame in my life. In the former suite I rented, I granted Forgiveness. It would take a few more months before I made the vital decision to completely withdraw my $10,000 claim and simply turn it all over to Jesus.

You see, it doesn’t matter of your perception of a situation or the judgement doled out…the reality is no matter what your circumstance, there will always be someone else worse off than yourself!

Toby Mac Video: "Im Sorry"

In gifting donations to certain people and organizations, plus withdrawing my RTB Claim, I’ve learned the best way in overcoming poverty, is to cut it off the root of sympathy for oneself, from where it sprang and instead lay claim, to the choices made to bring yourself there.


By TL Alton

Saturday, August 29, 2020

The Nourished Roots

 


The Root YOU Feed.... As I am passionate about scripture, I am also about quotes. When I find one that speaks volumes, I rejoice as it is an extension of myself conveying what is imparted from my heart to yours…

By now, if you as the reader have been following along, I have suffered, yet I am alive, I have sought injustice, yet at the price of my health! I extended forgiveness to my former landlords, as I have within my own family. Most importantly, I have become a better person because of the things I have loathed the most!! So today was a learning lesson about what roots we feed the most.

Today, I awoke early at an undisclosed area where I “sleep” in my car. The daily and nightly procedures I go through to snuggle into a car that has the size enough to accommodate a fold up size buggy. I have spent many other blogs feeding the root of poverty. This is not another one of those posts as I had an elder lady tell me she felt guilty sipping on her creamy Strawberry chill, while reading my words.

This about what you can do when you do have nothing! Or think you do not…

I picked up my mail to discover a lovely card that had 2 Tim Horton’s gift cards. My friends are fan of the Oilers and have gone beyond the manner of ‘serving’ to assist their Sister in Christ. I am then able to sit in Various Tim Hortons and type away to make use of my time. Plus, I would come to see how key these two cards have been in helping others.


I happened into a Tim Hortons wearing my mask and met a lovely young lady named Lauren, who worked in the Royal Oak area. After some chit-chat, I discovered she was on her break, and liked Everything bagels with plain cream cheese. I whipped out a card and bought her lunch. I offered to toss in a drink, but she politely declined. I had also spoke with her about my novel…the one that is currently being held hostage in an attic of buried technology…desperate to escape. I gave her my card and away I went. For the cost of a bagel, I was able to break the dreaded boomerang of the pandemic and reach out in kindness…without touching anyone or encroaching on their space.

Later, I needed a bathroom and went to a Park, as I also had to re-organize my belongings for the night.

A group of people were getting into two vehicles, parked next to me. The women were dressed in Sari’s and one had a platter with a cake. I approached (again wearing my mask) and asked what the celebration was? They said it was their father’s birthday.

I smiled through my mask and said, “You have a lovely family to celebrate with!”

This caught them off-guard and the woman remarked with smiles, “Thank you for your Kindness!”


Another trip to a local Timmies saw a Manager speak of his young wife , who earlier in their marriage battled a serious disease. This rendered her unable to have children and this man was broken just relaying their heartache. I asked for her name and assured him I would be praying for them both. His reaction was to almost burst in tears! Once again, the powerful root of kindness was being nourished.

Later, back at the park, I saw  gathering of people in chairs. I could see physical distancing and bags of goodies were bring handed out. I requested some one in charge to come over and speak with me. There was a great deal of hesitation and finally a woman who was the host walked over. I asked if they were celebrating an event and she said yes! I then commended her on the spacing between them and wished them a safe event- one without COVID-19 happening! She thanked me profusely when all I was doing was wishing those gathered safety and joy!

I later had a wonderful conversation with a vibrant and skilled hairdresser named April. Later I met her sweet little girl Aura and her beautiful energy made me smile.

It was a day where I chose to feed the roots of JOY and Kindness.

After they left, The Tim Horton’s was besieged with the violent outbreak of a man having a mental health issue. While everyone sat safely inside, I attended and went to speak with the man.

I asked him simple questions: “Had he eaten?” “Was he Dehydrated?”

He calmed down when I asked him what he wanted?

All he could muster was a request for a Boston Cream donut and an apple juice.

I went inside and came back with his order.

He asked for some change and I shared I am homeless too. This quieted him down.

I reached out in empathy, as I know what it is like to be looked at, as if you are a monster.

in my most dire times, it came down to what I needed...respect, love, hug or understanding. 

The past six months, what the basics are became distorted...

In this painful but enlightening process, the reasoning for my quest for righteousness in this world, has come at a price. I traded my health and wellness to prove the wrongs done to me.

I have experienced two strokes, a bled on my brain and recently, I had an ultrasound on my heart.

To add to my ailments, I recently learned, I have a hole in my heart. To me this comes as no surprise.

On December 12, 2011, my heart was fractured by the death of my daughter. I endured the death of my 10-year relationship, the drugging, kidnapping, and assault when I first moved to the Island and two bouts of homelessness. There is more, yet even as I write this, I can easily see which root is being fed.
I should point out these are things done to me...what about the poor choices I've made?? 

If any clearer a message can be rendered beyond stress Kills…it is that I am allowing the bitter roots of anger, resentment, and suffering to be fed!

Since I am a homeless person, living and sleeping in my vehicle, does not mean I do not have choices to make. I have deleted my Facebook, refocused on my self-worth, gathered strength in numbers of those who love, support, and believe in me, created a list of reviews I have garnered as a clean and quiet tenant.  

Therefore, I have walked away from my addiction to poverty, cut ties from the enemy and am seeking to rebuild myself….peace by Peace.



 

By Tonya L. Alton


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The HEART Knows....

 








There has to be ACTION in your Conviction …Otherwise you are preaching to a tone-deaf audience.”

~ Tonya Alton

I never thought when I placed 12 FORGIVENESS CARDS around my former rental home…it would lead to this.

The “THIS” I am referring to is when I preach words, but do not follow through on my own moralization.

“THIS” refers to the humiliating notion that I am wearing clothes that need laundered, sleep that desperately yearns for a pillow and that along my way to fighting for a home, I’ve lost the PURPOSE in all the PAIN.

Instead of a blog stating what I am feel I am entitled to…this is a BLOG about LETTING GO.

People that know me on my spiritual path, understand when I hear a message from the LORD, I pay attention to it.

My day and most of my night, has been spent straightening the wrongs, forgiving the Unforgivable and crawling on my knees to the door of a Church, where I can TESTIFY I have given it ALL to GOD- TRULY!

For years, I have spoken of forgiveness and yet the ones who honestly need it, have been left out!

Last week, I genuinely granted complete forgiveness to a woman bent on my destruction- my own Mother. This is not going to be the blog where I hash out everything…and yet one has to mention the wrath of Satan as a recent visit dd not go well and I suffered again at the hands of the woman who gave me life! So for those believing forgive and forget…that memo the ENEMY seems to have lost! The sole purpose of this trip was to be with my brother, who also had a child recently pass. My Daughter died at 21 and his son died at 22. Left to our own safe space, we consoled one another, cried and a tragic connection of having a child die, was the real reason I travelled one month after having a stroke. I would have driven through a tornado to get to my bro. No parent should have to deal with a child’s death, let alone 2 in one family.

Only 48 hours later, as Per the usual forced departure, I left fleeing my mother’s wrath, her cutting words and volumes of madness... I will never understand.

However, I knew If I could forgive this woman, I call mother, I could take the sword buried deep in my fractured heart and walk away….hobbling and in pain, I made it to my car and left as I always do…broken hearted and in despair. Yet, The Lord knows I was genuine in Always loving her and now I needed to let her go….

Upon my return, I waited to speak with the Neurologist that had kindly conveyed the type of stroke I had and let me know of an upcoming ultrasound on my heart.

This was the game changer for me.

I began to read my blogs back to last year and of the anger, frustration, and lack of peace I’ve endured.

Poor Choices …YES, Only Human…YES…Did I need to grant my own self FORGIVENESS…a resounding YES!! For Every person that can beat me up with their words…it pales in comparison to what I dole out on a daily basis. If my old Mirror could talk, it would not say very nice things to the person looking into it! The saying “You are your own worst enemy echoes in my ringing ears, as I type this!”





Every Christian has a day of Reckoning…Today was mine! I realize in the desperate attempt to fight for what use to e my rental suite, I lost my saving grace…that is the day before I left my suite, I placed “Forgiveness Cards” all over it. Yet, I’ve spent every waking moment and bit of fight in me, to dissuade the very thing I set out to do! You see I forgot who was actually fighting for me! In the Hospital, I remember praying to the Lord that I would survive…now that I’m surviving…I’m praying to the Lord to FIGHT for me and yet…. I’m expecting my angel Advocate to do the bidding for me. This is wrong! IT’s like asking someone to endorse you, then they do and next you IGNORE the main person – JESUS who is the CAPTAIN and GOD who is MY MASTER of My FATE and the ship I’m on. So, Today was about Letting GO and Rightfully so… as I have a Heart Appointment that is NOT going to go very well. So, call it doing my pre-homework, but it led me to make several calls that tied up the ends of somethings. If in 2 Corinthians 5:7 We are to walk by FAITH and NOT by Sight, then Everything leading up to my revelation, is to point to Letting GO instead of continuing to fight….after all, a dead carcass cannot take its dry bones to battle, unless the LORD ALMIGHTY breathes life into them! Therefore, after much prayer, a lot of tears and bargaining, God helped me make the following FINAL Decision…. I am WITHDRAWING and MAKING MY FINAL REQUEST known to the RTB that I am NO Longer pursuing the matter against my former Landlords for Wrongful Eviction. I cannot take any funds where I am going and if I am to BE FAITHFUL to my beliefs then I CANNOT pursue this matter any further! After all, strokes, heart issues, homelessness and the long term date of November 20th was not appealing…yet TRUTH be told, if I am a TRUE CHRISTIAN, then me crawling on my knees to the door of somewhere I once worshiped, to say to the LORD HOW SORRY I AM FOR ASKING HIM TO FIGHT MY BATTLES …then ignore it when he did…this is not how I am to TRUST HIM….Also, when you FORGIVE someone it does not mean you pulverize yourself into the ground, entertain the notion of dying and say I FORGIVE…BUT….For there are no BUTS. So to my former Landlords, MY demise WHICH the LORD ONLY KNOWS SHOULD not be THE cost TO FURTHER pay…I CRAWL BACK TO MY CAR…AND I SAY I FORGIVE YOU!!! I ALSO SAY I AM GRATEFUL FOR THOSE WHO ARE STILL ARE WITH ME ALONG THE JOURNEY. 





BY TONYA LYNN ALTON

Friday, August 7, 2020

MY Broken BRAIN and Homelessness



I have spent the past two years blogging, being an advocate for those who voices have been stripped from them. I have lit a fire and brought awareness to those in need, struggling, desperate to stay alive in a system that has stripped them of their rights, dignity, and ability to take a stand. In lending my voice, I have held the hands of broken people…written their stories and  dedicated blogs to them.

This time around, this blog is for MY Voice, MY Story, as I am slowly slipping through the cracks of a broken system.

Please bear with me as I try to convey what my message is about, due to me having a stroke at only 49 years of age, I am  struggling to piece this all together. If there are spelling errors or parts that do not make sense, I feel it too.  MY broken brain has been through a lot in the past six months and is screaming I WANT ANSWERS!!




My turn of events became worse in that I had a sudden stroke and was placed in hospital after 9-11 was called. Prior to this I had received the terrible news my 22-year-old nephew died suddenly.

Life has been a whirlwind of tragedies and I am writing this post for fear it may be my last!

I have been struggling- rendered homeless and protecting those who care nothing about me!

This post will reveal the source of my anguish and all that I am enduring, in hopes that Finally my story will be heard! I trusted others to tell my story and yet as I am slowly dying, I cannot afford to wait any longer! There are people who need to be held responsible in hat they have put me through! NO human being should be living day by day, out of a 2015 Nissan Micra!

Before anyone lays judgement on my journey, I beg for them to take the journey I have these past 4 + months and see how they fare afterwards!

As a Christian, I have prayed over my enemies, been grateful for the kindness of others and to be clear, I still Believe! This blog is also dedicated to the many nameless car campers I’ve met along the way…the ones whose children begged to know: “Mommy, Daddy, where are we sleeping tonight?” as they climbed out of bushes, clinging to their stuffed animals. This is for the father who left his five children behind with his wife and sleeps in a van for fear of the fighting due to loss of job, consuming them. To the farmers, who have graced countless tables to bringing food to our satisfied bellies and the truckers who transport the products to our Canadian Tires. I support you!

Now let me take you on a journey of brokenness, where everywhere I have turned…sees me be consumed by a system that is NOT working!

In February 2020, moved into a residence in Elk Lake. A Bachelor suite for $1050/ month. My Landlords Kelsey and Corey Labelle, welcome me in. I spent three days scrubbing and cleaning (I have a stack of exceptional references, as I was a professional cleaner.) In February 2020, I was offered a position working in Victoria for the Cruise Ship Industry). With me having acquired a new place, my landlords were aware of my job offer, but also hoping I could begin work sooner than later. In my phone conversations with Greater Victoria Tourism, I was concerned of a starting date and wanted to begin my position to begin earlier rather than later. Then the coronavirus hit, and everything changed. 

In March, COVID- 19 hit and I on March 21st, I was served an RTB -30(10-day notice to move), this happened despite being told that an Eviction Ban had been implemented by Premier of BC John Horgan. I had friends, family and even neighbours say I did not have to move, but as Corey Labelle would go on record to say many times regarding my wrongful eviction: “Its nothing personal!”

 I packed up me and my daughter Shayla’s belongings (Shayla had died at age 21 – 10 years earlier) AND I was the one who still had her stuff. Both Kelsey and Corey knew of my loss. I shared with them I would be rendered homeless, where upon Corey again message me: “It’s nothing personal.”

My landlord broke a 12 month lease and moved another tenant into the suite I had called home. After moving over 20 times back and forth to storage in the rain with my small Micra, a friend came to lend a hand. MY stuff is in storage and costs me $150/ month. I want to speed things up. IN the past 5 months, I have moved 10 times now!!

IN the midst of all of this, I was hired as a cleaner to at The McKenzie Interchange Project. Since it was Union, I now had the funds to pay for my rent. Instead, someone else moved into my former suite! A month later, I lost this second job to COVID-19! Thankfully, I was eligible for CERB, which would have also seen my rent being paid to my landlords. I was also told my Former Landlords could have applied for the Supplement being offered by the Government and I am in the process right now of finding out if they did apply for it with the latest tenant (S). 

Since the Air bnb’s were hit hard, I have stayed at several, plus 2 hotels, a cabin, camped on farmland and slept in my car, when funds had been used up. Daily expenses included gas, ice to keep food (however it was hard to maintain and a lot of food had to be tossed out, I required wood which I had to buy and gas to go back into Victoria from Mill Bay to my storage to get more camping equipment)!  I will give a shout out to those who out of sheer kindness helped me acquire nights of safe shelter. Those who extended my stays and appreciated my cleanliness. Without you, I would have perished long before!

I was desperate for someone to hear my story and I contacted the news. I was then interviewed by a newspaper reporter, who recorded my story several weeks ago, which is soon to be published.

A common thread throughout all of this is my numerous calls to the Residential Tenancy Branch. I wanted to file against my former Landlords as it has cost me (ALL receipts) have been kept…over a whopping $7,000 dollars to be rendered homeless)!

In all of this, I kept contacting the Residential Tenancy Branch, as NO ONE was advocating for me!!

The car is where my health issues surmounted as a woman my stature and size cannot possibly sleep in a tiny car properly.

On Monday, JULY 27th, 2020, I received via text that my 22-year-old nephew had suddenly died. Having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bipolar, my world came crashing in around me! 

Horrendous things and painful memories linked to my own daughters death, were triggered! I began to pound the inside of my car and burst into sobs! NO one can imagine how I felt to receive such traumatic news this way…except for the God that was watching it all unfold! ON Thursday, July 30th, 2020 I awoke in my car struggling to breathe! I felt a tightness in my chest and struggled with my car door opening. Upon falling to my knees onto the pavement of the church parking lot I had been staying in, I dropped my phone. I am right-handed, yet for some reason I kept on tying to pick up my Cell phone with my left and it was not working! I went to stand up and was dizzy, along with being disoriented. I did not want to dial 9-11 as I feared going to the hospital, based on past experience of hoe I was mistreated. Suddenly, clear as day, I felt a presence behind me and heard the voice of my dead daughter say: “Momma, you have to call 9-11!” It scared me as I turned around to see no one there! But I knew it was Shayla’s voice and I called 9-11. The ambulance was there very quickly, and they took wonderful care of me! I was brought to Victoria General Hospital, where I was placed in Emergency, then on the 6th floor of Neurology. It was from a nurse, I learned at the age of 49, I had a stroke!! One thing I want to make clear, is the fantastic treatment I received from all the nurses, Neurologists and Doctors! I had a clean bed to sleep in, warm blankets, three square a day of food and the best bed mates I could ask for. After a few good nights sleep and some meals, I became Caregiver Tonya, once again. I prayed over ladies in my ward ( With full permissions given after I kindly asked), one lady was on her umpteenth back surgery and I could sense she was scared, so I went over and asked for the Lords hands to be upon the surgeons when working on her.

You see, it when Dr. Henry asked us to Be Kind… it is because it is the one thing that COVID cannot strip away from you…it may render you homeless, take away loved ones, remove your jobs, but it SIMPLY is NOT STRONG enough to take away your KINDNESS!!

What happened to me in the hospital is something I will always fight against—The lack of dignity and respect towards someone who is already down and out. It’s like kicking a homeless person on the streets holding their sign….

I had been a willing patient—taking all of my meds, including new ones. I had been though so many tests, my arms were all bruised!  I listened and spoke to a Resident of Internal Medicine named DR. L Eadie, whose compassion was on the grand scale. Her caring heart brought such warmth into my life! I had been waiting patiently on a Social Worker. Everyone was aware I was homeless, lost everything including my 22-year-old nephew. There were people in the sector of health and wellness, who were leary of what the Social Worker would come and say. I paid attention to them because they truly know the system! This isn’t my first rodeo and having volunteered with those in need for over 15 years, I have seen for myself why there is an Opioid Crisis. It is’ heart breaking what happened next. I am not going to print the Social Workers name, but she knows, and others know what she did was wrong! After hearing my story, I can repeat it in my sleep…The Social Worker agreed I am not shelter material- the criteria is the following which I replied ALL NO's too: The said person being homeless is fleeing an Abusive relationship/ marriage – NO! The person has children/ dependents- NO! The person is an addict whose addictions are alcohol or drugs- NO! She then agreed a shelter was not the best for me and proceeded to leave me with a pamphlet with the glaring title: STREET SURVIVAL GUIDE!

This is the help I received after being wrongfully evicted during COVID-29, have lost two jobs, had my young nephew die, living in my car and suffered a stroke!

I ask any of you reading this, if you were in my shoes, if you would consider this a proper solution?!?!

I felt tossed aside my society and left to my own means, I would have to go back to my hot car, where another stroke could possibly kill me!

I reached out to my brother and my friends…in despair, I reached out to the news reporter, again!

I No longer wanted to stay in the hospital and be forced out on the streets!  I made contact with my brother and shared that I wanted to drive to Alberta to attend my nephews Memorial being held on the weekend. He was not thrilled to hear this and shared that it was not the best idea.

Well, the Social Worker got wind of my plans and the next day, she berated me for wanting to leave! She had a bunch of paperwork in her hands and said: “I’ve spent my long weekend working on your case and all you want to do is waste my time!”

This offended me, as I was the one who has endured over 4 months of hell with all this displacement!

 After she left, I grabbed my stuff and left the hospital. Soon after, I received two messages from a Doctor I had seen. He stated since I had a stroke, it’s the law that I do not drive for 20 days! So, Now after being forced from my home, my driving abilities were being taken away!

Thankfully, I had temporary shelter to go to and this is where I type from.

I reached out to the Residential Tenancy Branch and spoke to a rep. I shared I couldn’t drive to drop off paperwork, as I had a stroke, so the REP. From the RTB gave me the following email and told me to send in my application to:

rtbgaref@victoria1.gov.bc.ca

Today, I received an email reply and had to call for the 6th time RTB as they are unable to process my claim!! Having a stoke has impaired my abilities to walk around, let alone fill out pages of an application. I cried and toughed may way through it! Yet today, this was the message in my in-box! 

Hi Tonya, 

 

Thank you for your email.

 

We are unable to accept new applications for dispute resolution via email.

 

To submit an application you may either:

  1. Have an advocate or assistant drop it off for you at your nearest Service BC location
  2. Call the RTB to request making your application over the phone

I broke down in tears! Where does this end?? With me dead and my family being told it was an “accident?”

Follow the threads of this long and winding blog post…it is SO clear that I am having a hard time navigating the system, given my broken brain.

I now have someone who is advocating and proceeding with the RTB system. Thankfully, on top of all their work  and life, they have graciously extended a life line to me! 

 What about my former Landlords, who would have been receiving monthly rent and a great tenant I was, while so many other Landlords have been messed around??

I did NOTHING to deserve the mistreatment, the eviction or to have my health put at risk!! I haven’t even been able to properly grieve the death of my nephew!!

In my months- not weeks of displacement- I haven’t turned to alcohol or drugs! 

All I want is to be heard and this nightmare to end...with me still breathing afterwards...

Time after Time,  I have clung onto my God! Two things the coronavirus cannot take from me…KINDNESS and my FAITH!!

So when I declare I feel like I'm dying...inside my heart has been torn in two by a stroke and the sudden death of my nephew! That I've been stripped of my dignity with living out of my small, hot vehicle by a landlord who told me repeatably...."It's Nothing personal!" 

I beg to differ, when my simple human right to shelter, running water and a place to go to the bathroom ALL have been taken away! Where I have had to throw out food (wasted money) and given my funds for places to stay that cost more than my monthly rent was! I say instead... This is not living...rather I am merely Surviving! 

I dedicate this post to the many others I've met in 4 months time- those who are homeless and invisible within our society...who like me are statistics of  the Coronavirus! This is only summer...my God what is to happen to us in the middle of winter! 

My sole purpose in writing this...is to lend a voice to say "I  am dying...just in order to LIVE!" 

by TL Alton 


Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Promise Part 1




“A book does not complete itself. There are hands upon it, a keen outlook and insight upon every page. Much like a photograph slowly developing; a book takes time, patience and love, to bring it to its full glory.”  ~ TL Alton


20 years ago, by a surging riverbed, a seed of love took root within.

Under the Sitka tree, began by writing the ending first and wound around a magnificent Sitka spruce tree, on the central coastline of British Columbia.

Never could I fathom, all that I would endure, in order to complete and seek publication.

Over the years, I pressed on towards the goal, intertwined with my faith journey.

I was inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien, who spent twelve years, to write Lord of the Rings. I was fascinated with all the breaks he took, which added onto the length of writing. In total, it took seventeen years. As with Tolkien, he never was truly done.

Another source of incredible motivation was Karen Hill. She devoted 20 years to writing her novel, Café Babanussa. When she passed unexpectedly, it was her brother, Canadian author Lawrence Hill who saw her book published. In 2016, I attended The Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, in Sechelt, BC. After hearing Lawrence Hill speak, I eagerly took my place in line to meet him. I had tucked under my arm, a book. The array of Canadian Literature written by Mr Hill, includes The Book of Negroes, The Illegal and Dear Sir, I Intend To Burn Your Book.
Once I approached, we shared in conversation. In presenting the novel I had purchased and wanted autographed, it was his sister's novel, Cafe Babanussa. I gravitated to her as a gifted author and someone whose journey with mental health, I can relate to. 
The threads of connection Karen and I shared, are the intricate complexities of Bipolar. 
In reading the story she penned, I felt at times my life, faded into hers. 
The comfort I found nestled in the pages of her writing, were like that of a familiar friend.



In writing Under the Sitka Tree, it was full of surprises. As the author, I could not help myself from tinkering, changing, and deleting. I first wrote it on the cusp of being diagnosed with Bipolar. Once I leveled out, I had the clarity that had once seemed unattainable. Going back into the pages of my book, was to unravel the threads of creative madness and extract the story, waiting to blossom.

My daughter, Shayla Rae Dawn, grew up watching the surges of mania and descents into depression. She was a fierce advocate for me and during the turbulent times of upheaval, Shayla encouraged my writing. My daughter was a fan, when I could not hold a pen or string the words together. She refused to give up on me or my novel. Once I stabilized in my life and re- learned my 'new normal' by society's standards, Shayla encouraged me to revisit my book; to edit with the purpose of completing it.

One day, she came to me and asked to read a few chapters. I wanted my book to be perfect. Therefore, she was given, only the first couple of pages. Afterwards, my daughter came to me with such emotion, I could tell the story line spoke to her soul. 
At my desk, she leaned over and looking into my eyes, she said: 
“Momma, you have to promise me, you will get your book finished and published.”
The intensity was on a deeper level and I replied: “I promise you Shayla, I will.”
Extending her hand towards mine, she curled her pinky finger. 
With a smile that melted hearts, she added: “Pinky promise.” 
I was overwhelmed with sentiment. Taking my pinky in hers, we locked our fingers together. As mother and daughter forged a vow, I gazed into her beautiful blue eyes and pledged my oath to her: “Pinky promise, babygirl.”  

Only a few years later - right before Christmas 2011, my beloved daughter and only child, was tragically killed in a car crash. 

In my immeasurable grief, I felt I could no longer write. My heart was fractured, as was gone the opportunity of Shayla to read, Under the Sitka Tree.

As time carried onward, I would recall the promise I had made. I began to take my pain and use the gift of creativity to rebuild. I became a leader in a faith- based bereavement course called “GriefShare” ~ which offers support to those, who have had a loved one, pass away. 
Connecting with others, helped me back on my writing journey.

I also discovered, the spark that was my daughter, had originated from me.

Returning to my novel, I found my writer’s voice and picked it up with a newfound passion. In taking moments of my life, I saw the purpose in releasing my remorse, the good along with the bad, onto the pages.

I learned the beauty in fiction writing; entwining what is real and what is not, into a story where readers will feel a part of it all.

I hired a professional editor, Liam Ford, who devoted his time to my book. Liam brought a fresh approach to what I had been writing- on and off- for two decades. He came alongside me as an author and helped oversee any changes. At times, I felt challenged by my own words. Yet, I could see the value of Liam’s skills, as he took me to what lay beneath the surface. His insight was essential and because of his editing, I developed better sentence structure and voice of each person. 
More importantly, I avoided instances of colorism and white privilege, as my editor showed me the use of a character's power over prejudice.

There was also a special moment, when after meeting with Liam, I agreed to acquire his services.
He leaned into me with his pinky. I had shared what transpired with my daughter and this sudden gesture, threw me off guard. As I held back the tears, Liam Ford offered me his pinky and as I linked mine with his, the gesture symbolizing the pinky promise, he smiled and said:

 “Let’s do it for Shayla.”

Liam Ford was more than an editor; he was the keeper of my words, to a story yearning to be told.

As I type, the emotions are surfacing…there is no way to ever convey to Liam, what his actions meant to me as a mother, who still grieves her best friend.

Later this year, as I returned to my book. I revisited yet again this magical place I twisted and formed around my characters. In doing so, I discovered the promise I made to Shayla... was unearthed in the forest containing a Sitka spruce tree.

All along, the rawness of my immeasurable loss, lay guarded in my world…waiting to be released, in the form of my novel.

It has taken me twenty years on this journey, to be brave enough to let go,  so as to keep a promise to my babygirl.

Under the Sitka Tree, is dedicated to Shayla Rae Dawn. An extraordinary young lady, who helped me find my heart light again ✟💛 In order to shine in a way, which is reflective of the Creator.

“A Promise is a Promise.”

by TL Alton 
 * Please check out the website for my novel, which has been updated with new quotes, a shorter version of 'The Promise' and new pictures. www.tlalton.com  
Liam Ford Wordsmith https://www.liamford.com/