Tuesday, February 25, 2014

All Children Matter By: Karen Pilarski


"I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be."  -Greatest Love of All (Whitney Houston)

In fourth grade I met April, who lived across the street. I noticed a tall girl with blonde hair. She was on a blue scooter and a cute dog was running along the side of it. We said hi to each other and a friendship was made.

April would eventually be married to my twin brother give me a niece and nephew. Unfortunately the marriage didn't last, but our friendship has.

Her mom was pregnant with her fourth kid when we first became friends. She gave birth to Heather, a beautiful baby girl. Heather had severe cerebral palsy. She couldn't hear or talk. She was in a wheel chair and went to a special school. She was tall and thin like April, her mom and older sister.

Heather had pretty light brown hair. Her warm eyes were always shining like her big smile. I used to babysit for her. She would make happy noises and loved people around her. I fondly recall her father cradling her in his arms and dancing to "Butterfly kisses" at my brother and April's wedding.

What Heather and her family taught me was respecting people with disabilities. Heather's presence has influenced the way I interact with special needs individuals. In fact I volunteered to help special needs students in high school.

When I watch a video or hear a story of a person with special needs accomplishing something, I get weepy. In fact in the movie "Delivery Man" with Vince Vaughn his character has a child who is disabled. In typical Karen fashion, my eyes filled with tears.

Maybe it is from growing up with nine children and raising my siblings. Safety of kids and special education are near and dear to my heart.

In 2001, Heather passed away at age 13. To this day she is deeply missed. When my niece Emily laughs or smiles she reminds me of Heather.

When I was a kid my mom made me watch the television movie about Adam Walsh. He was abducted and killed in 1981. I recall feeling emotional after the scene where they find his remains. What is etched in my mind is the funeral with choir singing.

When I was in college I became a news junkie. I was studying professional communication and had to keep up with media and various forms of messaging.

I researched and presented a media study on bias in the media about missing children. I compared and contrasted Alexis Patterson who is still missing from Milwaukee. I compared the comparison case to Elizabeth Smart. In my personal opinion, all children regardless of race and class, should be featured in the media. Not one child is more important than another.

My junior year in college there appeared to be surge of kidnappings and child murders. It was devastating to watch such evil events take place.

You can only imagine how I feel about predators who sexual abuse children. I can't go into specifics but this type of thing has personally effected me.

What I can't wrap my head around is the fact that there is no remorse from these sexual deviants. Part of me wishes I would have majored in psychology. Maybe then I could understand what makes a person think it is normal to do those things to a child. Why do people ignore the signs or make excuses?

My ideal job would be to work as a writer for NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children). I would love to write newsletters and create social media pieces for local law enforcement agencies.

Sitting and stewing in anger and disgust isn't getting me anywhere.

I'm someone who likes to be proactive. Maybe I use my writing talent to help keep children safe and advocate for people with disabilities.

While I am sympathetic for families who are devastated by a loved one who is in jail, my main concern is with the victim. The little victims have no say in the matter. Perhaps my words can help give all children a voice.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Snow Globe By:Karen Pilarski

Snow globes, transparent sphere in a delicate glass prison. Once false move the fragile contents can shatter in a sopping mess on the floor.

So safe under the protective bubble. A cozy red brick house with tall trees and snow mounds.

Cheerful figures with rosy cheeks. Fuzzy mittens and vivid face facial expressions painted on.

 Every other day it is a state of snowing or well, nothingness. Don't the occupants get overheated? Don't muscles become strained and of in need of a stretch?  I guess not since it is eternal winter within the shell.

How dreadfully boring life must be to collect a layer of dust and water inside to tint a brownish hue. 

Snow globes are unrealistic. Inside are perfect little people and snowmen living happily in a small enclosed space.

There is no such location. I have looked high and low and it doesn't exist.

My current vision is snowy and static like an old television screen. I don't remember a Wisconsin winter this harsh in years. Yet here it is, not welcomed.

Wind chills in the negatives as moods deadened by the avalanche of bad timing.

 Suppressed frustrations settle at the bottom of the glass. No movement causes the white glistening pellets to remain stagnant.

That is until something or someone shakes it's round body up and down. The synthetic glittery snow swooshes around the sphere. Gushes of water in a tidal wave splashes over the scenery.

While there is a sense of sadness and frustrations within my heart, it is not indefinite.

To be stuck in one moment in time is not for me. I prefer real life and not just a sudden jerk of movement to tip my world upside down.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Dog Didn't Really Eat My Homework By: Karen Pilarski

Excuses are never in short supply. Why something was not accomplished or why an incident happened often produces a fictitious response.

A thin facade drapes over eyes of the one listening to the half truths. Little white lies such as why homework wasn't done or how a favorite glass was broken is not the root of the issue.

Painful experiences and the feelings they invoke are buried under snow. Reassuring everyone one day it will be shoveled out and exposed. 

What irks me is when people blame others for their bad decisions or lack of success. It would be quite easy for me be bitter towards my parents for their choices.

Did their child rearing have an effect on how I turned out? Yes.

Not so fast, after the age of eighteen I was one my own. My parents weren't around making my choices. I did dumb on my own. No help and no blame.

I hear stories on the news and in my circle of influence of people who have so called mitigating factors. Often for more serious indiscretions the parental figure is pointed at.

Someone wasn't loved enough or had horrible parents. A person didn't have the support they needed when life took a nose dive.

At times it is not the parents to blame but living in poverty or high crime areas. 

These are not reasons why a person went a astray. It a mere backdrop of an environment a person lived in once upon a time.

In life there are events out of our control. A spouse wants a divorce, cancer takes over a body, the Polar Vortex.

Even when justifications are used, it barely scrapes the surface. I can't pinpoint one true reason why things happen. It is similar to when ice is chopped, it splinters off into jagged separate chunks.

Nothing can absolve the fact that it takes two to tango. However each individual is charge of the decisions made.

If there is honesty within hearts and each other, excuses will dry out like soggy grass in spring. The only thing that remains is the truth.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Junk By: Karen Pilarski

When living in one spot for many years, junk accumulates. Take it from me, a person who lived in the same cramped apartment for seven years. Each purchase or gift received piles up in a dark corner of an empty room.

Especially with a husband who doesn't want to part with or throw away anything. I would love to have garage sale but we lived in an apartment building.

Sun, rain or moderate cold, people in the city of Milwaukee loved to throw yard sales.If a person was hankering for hand me downs, there were big cardboard or neon signs advertising one.  

Some sales were just random clothing hanging off a balcony or tables of odds and ends scattered. Before third grade we rented a house. 

Across the street was a neighbor Dad dubbed "Noah." As in Noah's Arc. A man in his seventies with bushy white hair and a limp. Noah held yard sales daily. Here is where "Noah" was an appropriate nickname. He set out things in two's. Two tires, two bikes, two hammocks. You get the picture. I wondered if Noah was some crook that sold his loot.  

In third grade we moved into a duplex. When we lived in the duplex we put on yard sales to earn money. Mom would eye up a potential buyer and whisper "Ohhh, we have a bite." 

We would eagerly watch all the people hemming and hawing over the junk on tables. The funny thing is while it was a meal ticket for my parents, it was a competition for us children. 

We would taunt each other "look, she is looking at my Rainbow Brite doll." The younger kids would sob over a dusty VHS tape of Barney or naked barbie with a rat's nest of hair. Ah, memories.

In a sense not only does junk pile up in a physical space, but also a mental space. Bitter memories of being bullied or emotionally scarred makes a home in the cortex of the brain. When nothing is done to sort through the junk it starts to attract cobwebs and a thick layer of dust.  

By that point the thoughts may have been pushed way back. However, convenience during a fight or a sore button is hit and WHAM, it resurfaces almost like new. 

While not a hoarder in the object sense, I am a one in terms of my thoughts. I have a habit of not letting go and flashing back to things when there is a trigger. It is almost as if my brain is working against me. 

Writing has been my outlet to discuss what is pressing against my mind. When thoughts bunch up like a closet full of board games, basket ball and old shoes. No matter how hard the door is shut, items spill out eventually.

Recently I have heard from people who have been collecting junk thoughts. It piled and invaded all available space. Until it took over the heart. That is when everything tumbled out of the mind's closet. 

It is hard to sort through junk. It once meant something or held special meaning. If we just accept all the junk, there is no room for new thoughts or memories. 

Here is a poem I wrote in college. 

In This Room 
 By: Karen Pilarski

 Daunting shadows press their bodies against the wall
In this mind the shadows take up space and time
Memories linger and spirits fall
In this room what was once before binds
Dimly lit windows decorates the dark house
Like changing moods that have sunk through time
Washed my hands of the sticky situation, quiet as a mouse
Time is all but mine

The air stale and musty fills the aura of my heart
Gasping for brand new feelings that have not yet formed
In this room the shadows dance and laugh at the one who fell apart
The damage is done the heart has grown deformed
Furniture traps my body in place
There is no room for love to be replaced
Wasted energy like static
Clings to my soul, deadly and tragic

I know deep down it is time
To let those bad feelings die
Let love like flowers bloom
But not while I wait desperate in this room.

There needs to be spring cleaning of the mind. One man's trash is another man's treasure is a saying I have heard. What we no longer need or want, someone else might be searching for. Over time the discarded junk may shine again in someone's eyes.