Survivor-Led Training

For the past 4 years, I have had the benefit of belonging to the Just Beginnings Collaborative inaugural cohort with other survivors of color and/or other marginalized identities working to end child sexual abuse. It has been challenging and transformational.

A diverse group of people gather in front of a sign that says Possibility Map. They are all smiling and looking into the camera together.

Like all transformational things, it has been disruptive and it has reshaped who I am and how I approach my work.

Recently, several members of my cohort were invited by Kimber Nicoletti-Martinez, Director of the Multicultural Efforts to end Sexual Assault (MESA), to participate in a series of PreventConnect webinars on our collective work. I always try to clear my calendar for an opportunity to work with my cohort so I said, “YES.”

Here’s what happened:

First, I participated in a webinar called Changing the Culture of Schools, Churches, and Communities to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse where we discuss how shifting culture within the heart of organizations and communities can lead to great impacts on preventing child sexual abuse.

Participants included Linda Crockett, Samaritan Safe Church, Ahmad Greene-Hayes, Children of Combahee, and Meg Stone, IMPACT Boston.

Oh and here are my deets if you still need them – Tashmica Torok, The Firecracker Foundation.

Full disclosure.  There are technical difficulties at the beginning and they’re all my fault. Just fast forward past those and the whole thing is full of great things.

5 people of color stand with their arms around each others shoulders smiling at the camera.
Luz Marquez, Tarana Burke, Aishah Shahidah Simmons, me, and Ignacio Rivera

Adult Survivors as Movement Leaders: Lessons Learned from the Just Beginnings Collaborative where you can learn what it looks like to move toward a culture of healing and survivor-centered accountability by centering survivor leadership.

This webinar featured the illustrious Aishah Shahidah Simmons, #LoveWITHAccountability, Amita Swadhin, Mirror Memoirs, and Sonya Shah, The Ahimsa Collective.

Reflecting on our community’s experiences of MSU’s leadership and their unwillingness to listen to survivors on campus, I feel like this webinar might be the one you slide into their DMs.

9 people of color share a table. They're all smiling at the camera and the table is full of glasses and menus.
Celebrating our 2nd anniversary as a cohort together!

The final webinar was Mobilizing and Organizing Communities to End Child Sexual Abuse where you can hear more about community-centered approaches for mobilizing and organizing to end child sexual abuse.

Participants included Ignacio Rivera, The HEAL Project , Strong Oak Lefebvre, Visioning B.E.A.R. Circle Intertribal Coalition, and Suguet Lopez, Lideres Campesinas.

All of these webinars were kicked-off by our Interim Program Coordinator Eb Brown, Just Beginnings Collaborative who is also currently fundraising for the Black Love Convergence. Check it out!

We all have so much to learn so take some time to learn from some of the people I love and respect the most.

Best,

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My mom is a Fireworker

The other day, I allowed my two youngest to take our dog Lucy around the block for a little walk. Armed with the required walkie-talkies, I watched them meander down the street together. They turned the corner and I turned up my walkie-talkie.

I sat on the porch with my laptop and opened my email. *sigh* Peace and quiet.

“MOM, CAN OUR FRIEND COME OVER TO PLAY?”

Isaac always yells into the walkie-talkie. It’s like he’s not sure he can trust the thing to carry his voice.

“Sure, honey.” I said.

In about 2 minutes they came galloping my way with a little boy I’d never seen before. According to my boys (and confirmed later by my guy), they’d met him before during other walks. They arrived happy and ready to play with their new buddy. Levi reached for the door and I stopped him.

“Baby, we’re gonna play on the porch. I don’t know your friend’s parents yet. It’s for safety.”

He complained a little but I offered up Legos on the porch. Challenge accepted!

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The boys began to talk and build. They negotiated for pieces and created storylines. They came over to show me their new creations and to tattle. Eventually, things got personal and Levi told his new friend,

” My mom’s name is Tasha and she’s a Fireworker.”

I giggled a little inside wondering what that translated into in the mind of my little one and his friend. I thought about Firemen and Fire eaters. I thought about jugglers with torches burning bright and welders. And then I thought about my work with The Firecracker Foundation.

A fireworker?

Our first vacation of the summer was spent near Charlevoix at Fisherman’s Island State Park. Some families have Disney, some go to concerts. We go to Fisherman’s Island. While I was there making memories with my boys, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar sat down with Megyn Kelly for an interview.

I read about it and gathered three main points:

  • Consent is not required if your victim doesn’t really remember what happened.
  • The Duggars’ were okay with giving Josh time to get right with God while sacrificing the safety of their daughters and a family friend. Favoritism much?
  • And it’s all fine because forgiveness, you guys. Be cool.

I took a few deep breaths and then set about writing a response to 7 main points in this article. By the time I was finished unleashing the fury, I had nearly 3,000 words. Many edits later and I was ready to offer up 1,000 words to xoJane.

It was published on June 15, 2015 at 5 p.m.

I was really excited to be published on such a wonderful site. But I was over the moon to be able to offer some insights on the appropriate ways to respond to child sexual abuse – especially to communities of faith.

My perpetrator and father was a Christian and even served as a youth pastor for a short time. My faith has been complicated, lost, challenged, found and restored through the process of healing. As I delved deeper into the world of advocacy for child survivors, I witnessed the victim-blaming, slut-shaming and outright protection of perpetrators carried out my so-called houses of faith.

It makes my blood boil.

I don’t expect to agree with ever tenet of the many diverse religions that make up our beautiful world. I do expect that we can agree that no one ever deserves to be assaulted, it is never the victim’s fault and perpetrators should have legal and social consequences for their actions.

I will not lower my expectations. I expect the Godly to raise theirs.

My favorite Bible verse has remained with me throughout my life. It’s actually kind of a violent passage all about the Lord’s vengeance against the wicked. Psalms 10:17-18 declares that the God of the Hebrews ‘defends the fatherless and the oppressed.

As a fatherless child and one experienced in oppression, it feels good to know that the Judeo-Christian God, the God of the Duggars, is a self-described, violent defender of the abandoned and marginalized.

Don’t mistake me as someone who believes that violence is the answer. I don’t but like most, I enjoy the idea of a God willing to kick a few asses for the children. Similar to how I love Iron Man for being both a hero and a narcissist.

I feel like this section is going to give us both problems so I’m going to move on.

When I told my family about this new milestone for my writing, they decided it would be appropriate to set some things on fire in my honor. Fireworks. They wanted to set off some fireworks.

Lucky for them, I purchased a red lantern while we were on vacation but we never used it. My husband and I walked down to the park holding hands. Lucy came with while the boys biked ahead. It was windier than we expected so we settled the bottom of the lantern into the hollowed out section of a stump and lit it up.

We struggled to hold it down until the heat could fill the inside but the wind kept blowing the sides in. We were afraid it would catch fire before it could get over the trees around us. I realized the problem was our grip. We had to let it go. We had to stop struggling against its need to soar.

My story has resided in the gentle hands of a loving family and then a supportive hometown community. I have always been a little worried awaiting the trolls. Maybe that’s why I’ve never submitted anything before. If I never cross the bridge, the trolls won’t be compelled to attack me.

I’ve been protecting the brave little girl in me from the strangers.

My story, who I am and what I do is important. It’s important and it’s growing faster than I can handle or control. It leaves me breathless and overwhelmingly grateful. It leaves me shaken and filled with sorrow. It leaves me exhilarated and exhausted.

It leaves me like a little red lantern, blazing and ready to soar.

I suppose Levi has given me the most appropriate title of all.

Yours,

The Fireworker

This is my difficult.

My grandmother approached the topic like an airplane coming in for a landing. She circled the point with a story about a talk show episode she’d seen. As I listened, I met a friend at the door and silently motioned for her to come in.

Fridays have become an experiment of accountability at my place.

I’ve created a writers group of sorts. I’ve set aside a large window of time and offered an open invitation to some friends that I deem “writerly”. I’ve promised free wifi, hot water for tea, coffee and at least one clean bathroom. Aside from the recent string of snow days to have hit the Torok household, it is going well. I use the time to write and when necessary, to do some research.

On this day, I had called my grandmother to ask her about who my father was. This month is all about building his personality profile.

  • Who did my family think he was?
  • What does it mean to be a pedophile vs. a perpetrator? Which was he?
  • Was I his only victim?
  • What did he like to do?
  • Where did he like to go?

You get it.

To tell a better story, to understand him, I need to think about who he was beyond my abuser.

Yes, to answer the questions rolling around in your head, this is creepy. No, it is not fun. Yes, I do think it’s necessary. My mother says my dad* is worried about me, which in our family is a sign that you may be going to far. I’ve added some #militantselfcare to my life and I’m okay.

Dad, if you’re reading this, I promise.

My grandmother told me that she had been watching Maury Povich the other day. Their was a little girl on the show talking about a man who touched her private area. I wasn’t sure where this was going and then she landed.

“I’ve never asked because I didn’t want to bring it up,” she said. ” But is that what your father did to you? Did he just touch you or what happened?”

This is what happened in my head.

giphy

Shit just got real. I turned on my heel to head upstairs and away from my guests. In that moment, I realized we’d never talked about this before. When I was 21 years old, I told her that my father had sexually abused me. Most people who knew me, knew this to be true but because of distance and a bit of a strain on our relationship since my father died, she didn’t know and neither did any of my father’s family.

If you were to ask me now, I would tell you that using terms like sexually abused or molested are correct and socially acceptable but they don’t define an experience. Those terms don’t tell the whole story. How could they?

When I was 21, I chose to tell my grandmother because I realized that I could never be fully me if she didn’t know. I realized that if I truly believed that the abuse was not my fault then I deserved to live shame free and in the truth.

CAN I LIVE?

Damn straight I can.

So sitting on my little stoop, sunning my legs, I nervously told her the truth. Only after she very directly told me to get on with it. She knew something terrible was on its way and she wanted me to let her face it head on.

Once the words tumbled out, she was sorry for me. She told me that she wished that she could have been there for me. There were probably more words that I can’t recall now and then I quickly got off the phone to escape the awkwardness of telling your father’s mother that he was a child molester. Because good times, am I right?

Now she asked for the details and I found myself saying, “Grandma, he raped me. Often and repeatedly.”

She said, “Didn’t he hurt you? How could that have happened? Weren’t you such a little girl?”

“Yes, grandma. I was six. The only thing I can say is that it must’ve happened so often that it didn’t hurt anymore. I think it probably started happening before I could remember.”

I was reporting. These were facts. The hard kind but the kind I know as my past. This is my story and I am, not comfortable but accustomed to the truth of it.

She is not. This was the first time she’d heard it. These truths were landing around her for the first time and I could almost hear them shatter as they hit her skin and fell to the ground. There was the sound of anger and pain in her voice.

“He would have gone to jail,” she raged. “Grandma would’ve seen to it.”

And it was those words, spoken to me as if I were still a little girl that broke my heart again.

Just this week, I spoke to a class of sociology students at Michigan State University and one of them asked me if I had forgiven my father. This topic comes up a lot. We know that forgiveness can offer healing. We are told that it is about you not the person who hurt you. I believe those things to be true.

However, painful, brokenhearted moments like this one is why I also believe that forgiveness is not a one act play. It’s a long running series. Forgiveness is kind of like the never-ending run of those tragic daytime soap operas that we have only recently given up.

Unless you have the Soap Opera Network. In which case, #neverforget.

Forgiveness for me has had to be approached with the acceptance that it is a process for repeated, long term injuries.

When my children offer to include my father in the list of the dead they want to pray for, forgiveness prevents me from screaming that he doesn’t deserve their prayers. It allows me to sit back and recognize that if there’s any one soul in need of prayer in the afterlife, it’s probably my father’s. I can’t imagine there’s much peace or rest for him.

Forgiveness is not pity or absolution. It does not mean there are no consequences. It just means that I forgive. Rage, sorrow, relief – everything else is still on the table.

Grandma, cannot see to anything in the past. I can tell you that her assurances that she would have seen to it if given the opportunity, spoke such kindness to the little girl in me. There’s some comfort in the idea of my grandmother pursuing justice on my behalf.

I never imagined that she would choose me over her son. Before I told her my story, it was the burden that weighed the heaviest on my heart.

Why would my father’s family trust me? Why would they choose me?

As we begin to end our phone call, I headed down the stairs and towards my friends.

“You call me anytime. I know that what happened was horrible but I love you. Please don’t shut me out.”

And there is the answer to it all.

The answer to who I am, how I have survived and why anyone would believe me. The answer to why I do what I do and go where I go is in those words.

I am tremendously loved.

I have called her anytime. I have chosen not to shut her out. I have chosen to pull the tentacles of darkness that have seeped from my father’s legacy out of the relationship that I have with his family because to forget him, I have to forget them. That would be my easy. To remember him, is to remember where he came from. That is my difficult.

“Goodbye, Grandma. I won’t. I love you.”

I sat down at my desk, turned to my friends and said, “Guys. My grandmother just asked me what happened for the first time.”

Stunned I murmured, “I guess I’m not the only one asking the difficult questions around here.”10996165_10153101408618588_3173392778831113365_n

Sincerely,

PS – I know I opened lots of room for discussion in this one. It’s only going to get deeper. Hit me up in the comments.

* For clarity here, I will admit that the man I call dad now is my stepfather. He will hate reading this. (Hi dad. I know I’m your baby girl. Pretend like you didn’t see this!)

Dear love, favor me.

Good afternoon Ms. Torok,

I don’t always have success when searching our archives, but was able to locate your father’s obituary. It published Oct. 18, 1988 and I have attached a screen shot of the page. I hope this helps.

My father’s funeral was on a Wednesday afternoon. I didn’t know that. This is not exactly headline news but I enjoy the details. Our family greeted visitors between the hours of 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. After nap time but before dinner. I wonder if that was a consideration.

 

He was addressed as Sgt. and I was called Tashmica. That seems formal for a time when everyone called me ‘Tasha’. A little girl nickname for a little girl.
 
There’s more. Names I recognize and a few that I don’t. The name of the jump school where he died. The information about military services performed and by whom.

 
Every sentence, a snapshot of our lives at the time.
 
I didn’t think I would be able to get this information. I don’t know if you guys know this but, it is now the year 2015. Why in the world do they even keep this stuff?
 
Answer: People like me.
 
People who make the phone calls to ask the questions that may lead people to laugh at your foolishness. Turns out, no one laughed. Not the obituary staffer and not the funeral home representative.
 
They went to work. They did some research and now I have more answers that inspire even more questions. As a matter of fact, I have strong indications that a gentlemen may be searching a secondary location’s files to help me answer questions I never mentioned to him.
 
Curiosity. Gratitude. Progress.
 
Although I am a little disappointed that I won’t live up to the romantic image of visiting some library basement and sifting through microfiche to find clues about who my father was.
 

Oct. 18, 1988 pg 2 clip

 
I am processing the information. I’m thinking about the leaves in October and the dirt road that led us from my grandmother’s house to the funeral home. I’m hearing the gun salute that shook my mother into tears and the flag folded in her lap. I am also wondering how many other clues will be so easily uncovered.
 
“Love, like Fortune, favours the bold.”
E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly
 
Dear love, favor me.
 

 

 PS – New mantra: Your addiction of choice is boldness.

 

Fuel on the fire.

Today is the day my father died 26 years ago.

I suppose that is some kind of anniversary but I keep thinking of Old Yeller.

I keep thinking about how that little boy loved that dog and how that dog would’ve eventually killed him had he not been put down.

Obviously – to those of us who’ve seen the movie – Old Yeller was loyal and good.

My father was not.

He was broken.

And not in the way of the movies where the hot guy just needs love.

He was broken in the way mythical bridges fall and can only reclaim power by pulling innocents into the darkness below.

He was broken in a way that caused him to hurt others so that he could feel better, powerful, right in the world.

I was hurt. Collateral damage.

In moments with other survivors, I feel pretty lucky that my father had a brain aneurysm and died.

Other survivors are not so lucky. Perpetrators don’t just disappear for all of us. They are found in our classrooms, in our workplaces, at our family dinner table, at a mutual friend’s party – the next day, the next morning, the next week – always there.

I don’t have the physical presence of my father to haunt me anymore.

But if I were honest – and I am – I would say that my father hurt my body and left fingerprints in my brain.

It’s not a competition. It’s the truth.

Nothing ruins good ol’ child development like abuse.

He is here in more ways than I’d like.

When he died, he left me with a great burden that I didn’t understand. He left me to define what he had done to me. He left me to choose what to do with it.

(I suppose the only part of the victimization that was unintentional was his untimely perfectly timed demise.)

So I did. I discovered through lessons in a classroom that what I had suspected was true; sexual abuse is not normal. I found someone trustworthy to tell his secret to after a full year of holding it inside. I learned later in life that rape and incest is what happened. I learned those words and although it pains me to say them, I preach them.

This is the first year that I have ever taken pause on this date.

I lost my father’s urn years ago. I don’t like looking at his pictures. I wish his existence away.

However, every day I encourage other survivors to share their stories.

I believe that when they speak, perpetrators cannot hide.

And I love that.

I believe that every time we share our experiences, another survivor feels less alone in this world.

I have had this sigh of relief myself.

I believe that when we feel less alone, we can support others with a fullness of spirit we didn’t even know we possessed.

And I am all about that.

This year, I am hosting an online collaborative story telling series called Why I told.

Join me. Tell your story. Starting at midnight on October 20th and ending on midnight October 21st.

If you feel safe and comfortable* where you are in your life, share.

Be a beacon to those still searching for a voice to say, It happened to me. I believe you. You are going to be okay.”

After the honor of collecting stories for Soulfire 2015, something in my own soul wants to throw fuel on the fire.

I want to invite you over – virtually.

Join me on Saturday, October 18th at 4 p.m. EST in a Google Hangout. Sign up using the form below.

I’ll be there with ideas, prompts and guidelines.

For those of you who have never shared your story before, I’ll be there to encourage you.

I’ll also likely have a glass of wine, some light snacks and a comfy place to sit.

I suggest you do the same.

If you are a survivor that would like to participate, fill in the form below and I will send you information on how to join the google hangout. You must be over 18 to participate.

Can’t make it? Sign up anyway and I’ll send you some sweet info to get you started.

If you would like to hold the stories of survivors in community, RSVP to this facebook event and I will share details on how you can support us.

Let’s turn this strange anniversary into days of speaking truth.

Sincerely,

FC

Photo credit: Jena McShane of McShane Photography
Photo credit: Jena McShane of McShane Photography

*Don’t skip over that part. If you feel safe and comfortable. If you don’t, share the stories of others as they speak out on social media or email me yours to be shared anonymously to tashmicatorok at gmail .com.

Your story belongs only to you.

Let gratitude be your guide

I have been back from Colorado for two weeks.

The dust has settled.

For a moment there, I was wrestling things of the past. I was barely eating. Insomnia was back with a vengeance. I was on a Netflix, business, fill every second binge that ended with a crying jag on the way to a superhero movie with my husband.

I’ve filled my fridge (and my body) with healthier food. I am still struggling to get back on a legit sleeping routine but the tension of struggling to disappear from my past is lifting. The acceptance is coming back to replace the struggle to make it not be.

I’ve been having trouble deciding how to explain the experience of the trip. I’m still not sure how to write it all down. Regardless, I started today.

I sat on my porch and enjoyed a sunny morning of writing.

As a side note, the wisteria I planted has decided to stay. It’s little green vines are hugging the railing on my steps. I think we are going to be good friends.

Today, for you, I’ve decided to start in the middle.

I am going to start at the most important moment.

When the words that I had been holding behind my back the entire time I’d been in Colorado stumbled out.

I am going to begin with the moment I reached across the table for my teacher, grasped her hand and said,

“You saved me.”

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Me, Rue and the hands of my past teacher and my recent contemporary, Lisa Griffin.

 

I’ve been holding this photo quietly.

Jena quickly snapped this shot and sent it to me after the meal. It’s one I couldn’t share right away.

It was such a profound moment for us all.

For those of you who don’t remember, I went to Denver, Colorado to see my teacher Lisa Griffin (formerly Mrs. Pease) and kick off the beginning of the Soulfire 2015 Calendar for The Firecracker Foundation. She was the first person I told about the sexual abuse I had suffered at the hands of my own father when I was just 6 years old. It continued until his death when I was 8 years old and I disclosed to her when I was 9.

You can read more about that here, here and here.

We were eating at an authentic Korean restaurant that is reminiscent of one we both loved to dine at when we lived in El Paso.

The conversation was deep and heavy. We had a private room and the memories unfolded. The dark parts of who my father was and how he treated me were shared. We discussed my telling her and how she reacted. Lisa* told me things I didn’t remember about that time.

She said of my mother,

“I could see the horror on her face.”

The horror.

I don’t think that phrase will ever leave me.

She gave me heartbreaking insight into some of my father’s behavior that made me ugly cry in a room full of people and inspired her husband to come place his arms around my shoulders to remind me that I was safe.

I was safe but sometimes when you step into your past, you forget that you can just as easily step back into your beautiful present.

The trip began with excitement and lightheartedness.

I was a little surprised at how emotional the undertaking was.

Probably because deep down, I truly do believe that I can handle anything.

Ha. It’s true I suppose but that doesn’t make it easy, grasshopper.

As of today, I am unpacking all that I experienced. I am looking through the photos and thinking of all of the ways this experience has changed me.

As I was wandering through Denver with friends new and old, drinking mimosas, taking funny pictures, eating delicious donuts, hiking in the Rockies and skating with a different team, I kept saying one thing to myself.

Let gratitude be your guide.

As I contemplated what brought me to seek Lisa out, I thought about how perfectly she was placed for me. I thought about how it was impossible to know at the age of 9 that she was working to serve survivors and that she was a survivor herself. I thought about our connection and how much her laugh, her sense of humor is still the same. I was grateful that my heart was tied to my teacher’s in a way that made me bold.

I have said thank you and in that expression, I have learned much about my past and in some ways, I believe I have learned a lot about my future.

Follow your gratitude. Find the people, the places, the things that have served you and honor them.

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Tourist like a boss.

Whisper through smiling tears, “You saved me.”

In your words, you will inspire people to continue to make their difference in a world of people you may never know.

Thank you. You saved me. I felt rescued.

Words that encourage the rescuers, the saviors, the finders of the lost and the healers of the broken.

Say them. Write them.

Make a record of the rights in a world of wrongs.

It’s safe to go back for this kind of baggage. It’s appropriate to make this kind of upgrade.

I promise.

With gratitude,

Tashmica

 

Capturing Soulfires

Yesterday afternoon, I received an unexpected phone call.

It was Mrs. P’s.

“‘Hi honey. Will you have Jena call me?”

I’m sorry? What?

My 5th grade teacher just called me up to ask if one of my dearest friends would call her.

Strange.

“Do you trust me” she asked.

“Yes.” I answer.

Because seriously, I do. More now than ever before.

More now than when I unburdened myself of that dreadful secret.

More now than the day that she said, “I believe you. It happened to me too. You’re going to be okay.”

Because since then, I’ve spoken to her regularly and she’s given me the advice of someone who knows.

She’s sent me newspaper clippings and letters of her own from the days when she trail-blazed advocacy work in my hometown of El Paso, TX.

You know, just in case it would spur an idea or an inspiration for me.

She’s sent me a yearbook from the time I knew her and a card telling me how proud she is of me.

Actually, that’s the one thing she tells me the most.

“Oh honey, I’m just so proud of you.”

And now she is pouring out of my heart and into Jena’s all the way from Colorado.

Why?

Well, because Jena and I are being spirited away on an adventure.

It’s time to shoot another calendar of survivors and this year the theme is solidarity. This year we are asking survivors to invite someone who was invaluable to them as they struggled to heal.

Click here to see last year’s photos.

This year, I offer an opportunity for us all to say,

“Thank you. You saved me. I felt rescued. Blessed be.”

My path was clearly lit by the souls of many strong women willing and able to pour good things into me.

There was and still is Catrina, Jude, my mother, my grandmother and my Aunt Debbie.

I have never been alone. Not ever.

For this project, I’ve chosen to invite Mrs. P’s – or Lisa as I now call her (because I’m a grown up, ya’ll!) because she is where my healing all began.

She put me on the path that led straight to the others.

On August 4th, Jena and I will fly to Colorado to meet Lisa together.

So as of yesterday, Jena McShane and Lisa Griffin have some kind of secret. I’m not allowed to know and Jena is not telling.

Stinkers.

That’s why she’s coming along.

Sure. She is a talented photographer. Supa dupa talented doesn’t even do her justice.

low-res1.jpg

You should totally vote for her in this competition. #ShamelessPlug

Jena creates images from a place of empathy. We shared a wadded up handkerchief with another survivor. We are committed to eating burritos and going hiking if my emotions get the best of me (or us both). I’m sure their will be cocktails, hugs, selfies and truly intimate moments but Jena is special.1236309_10151927620928824_1726302796_n

She’ll get it.

Sometimes…okay, all of the time, we refer to each other as #McCracker because obviously.

She told the survivors who have already volunteered for #Soulfire2015 that as our photographer,

“Instead of capturing souls, I will capture soulfires.”

I told her that we are just beginning the Sisterhood of Traveling Soulfires.

And then we giggled. And teared up. And geeked out because that was super cheesy and I don’t even care.

I know. I know.

I can’t even stand myself right now.

I’m not even sure what this means for me. I get a little choked up just thinking about it.

All I know today is that I am following a journey of gratitude.

My good life is a testimony to the way I was loved.

Today and everyday, that love is gifted to those around me.

It expands. It surrounds. It grows.

It inspires the creation of the foundation now and into the future.

So this is the cat. I release it from the bag.

And in a few weeks, I take it on the road.

Boom. #McCrackered.

Faithfully,

Tashmica

PS – To keep up with us, follow the hashtag #Soulfire2015 or #McCracker. You know, what evs.