I have been waiting a month for today. Robyn from WOW contacted me and asked if I would read and review a book. After reading the synopsis, not only did I want to read it but I wanted to share it with all of you. So today, I am hosting a visit from an amazing person and fantastic author. Please welcome Ms. Chynna Laird.
ABOUT CHYNNA LAIRD
CHYNNA LAIRD – is a psychology major, freelance writer and multi award-winning author living in Edmonton, Alberta with her partner, Steve, and their three daughters [Jaimie (almost nine), Jordhan (six), and baby Sophie (three)] and baby boy, Xander (five). Her passion is helping children and families living with Sensory Processing Disorder and other special needs.
You’ll find her work in many online and in-print parenting, inspirational, Christian and writing publications in Canada, United States, Australia, and Britain. In addition, she’s authored an award-winning children’s book (I’m Not Weird, I Have SPD), two memoirs (the multi award-winning, Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With SPD and White Elephants), a Young Adult novel (Blackbird Flies), an adult Suspense/Thriller (Out Of Sync to be released March 2012), and a Young Adult Suspense/Mystery/Paranormal/Sweet Romance (Undertow, to be released 2012). She’s also working on a sequel to Not Just Spirited called Not Just Spirited: The Journey Continues and a few other projects in the works for Middle Grade and Young Adult readers.
Just thought you should know:
April is… Alcohol Awareness Month, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
From Abuse to Ability
The only things children should ever have to worry about growing up is learning, discovering the wonder and beauty in our world and having fun. It is the job of the adults around them to guide them on their journey with patience, wisdom and unconditional love. Sadly, for many children this isn’t a reality.
When a person is abused at a very young age, it changes her at the very core of her existence. It’s sort of like re-wiring something that was working perfectly fine. After you mess with it, it might still work but it will never run as well as it had before. And that’s so unfair.
You see, once a child has been changed in this way, it can be extremely difficult to build him back up again. Self-esteem and self-worth are two things we aren’t born with; they are learned and nurtured by trusted adults. And abuse—any kind of abuse—crushes those things. So these kids need steel-level support to relearn these basic traits. And I know a group of amazing people doing just that.
A few years ago while doing research for a school paper I was writing, I came across a link to a charity called Zebra Center. Not only was I drawn to the name but their purpose also captured my heart immediately.
Zebra Center is a Child Protection Center that helps children who have been abused or otherwise victimized. They help give these kids a new path to follow and give them the strength and courage to keep moving forward. The Center’s mandate is child-focused, which means the children brought there are put under the protective wing of the center, social services and the legal system. That doesn’t mean they don’t acknowledge the accused. They simply feel there is enough support for that person, and not enough for the victim.
I immediately emailed the CEO, Barbara, asking her if she and I could connect for an interview. For some reason, my gut told me that that this was a place I needed to connect with, but I didn’t know why at the time. The next day Barbara emailed me back and that was the start of a beautiful friendship.
Now, I went through a lot in my younger years. My brother and I could have really benefited from a place like Zebra Center, but there was no such place for us back then. So hearing some of these kids’ stories, I related. As she shared with me how this place came to be and why, and told me edited version of some of the kids’ stories, I felt it in the deepest part of my soul. I understood how it felt to have my privacy and my rights invaded. I knew that daily fear of not knowing what horrific things were in store for them. My heart broke picturing strangers coming to their home, giving them five to ten minutes to pack up whatever they could into a green garbage bag, to take them to a safer place.
But she also told me the amazing things they did at the Center to help repair whatever damage had been done in these kids’ lives. You can’t fix these problems, you can only find a new path for them to follow. And this starts with teaching these kids to define themselves rather than being defined by what they’ve gone through. That is essential. And Barbara taught me that too.
When I was finally able to tour the Center after more than a year of emails and phone calls with Barbara, it was an overwhelming experience. There is a feeling of wholeness there. There are stuffies and kid-sized chairs in every room. The waiting rooms for the children have complete sets of puzzles, games and play sets (and for those of us who are abuse survivors, the message in that is incredible). There is even a room called “Hope’s Closet” that is filled to the brim with brand new toys, games, costume jewelry and other items. Every child gets to choose one new item from the closet to take with him after his visit.
I think the part that touched me the most was when Barbara told me that they work closely with a local business that provides new backpacks filled with basic personal items such as pajamas, toothbrushes, a change of clothes, a pillow and other items that the child may not have or thought to have packed when removed from their home. Think about the significance of that for a moment. Before that, they had to stuff their belongings into a garbage bag. How could that not solidify the feeling they already have of their situation and themselves? Zebra Center recognized that.
Standing there in ‘Hope’s Closest’ with Barbara, looking around at all of the hope and future they are giving to back these kids was incredibly emotional. It was in that moment I realized my life had come full circle.
Years ago, I swore if I made it out of my childhood, I would do everything in my power to ensure that no other child had to endure what I had to. I made a pact that if I had the chance to help one child…like Zebra Center does every single day…I would be there in some way.
Barbara gave me the strength to tell my story and share it with the world. And hearing about how these kids came from so much pain and turmoil but have never allowed what’s happened to them to determine where they’ll go inspired me to do the same.
One thing that Barbara said to me during our very first telephone chat has resonated with me until this day: “I am so sorry the system failed you and your brother back then, Chynna. And I am sorry we couldn’t be there for you.”
My response to her is theme of this post: “It’s okay because you’re here for me now. And I’m comforted in the knowledge that kids have you here for them.”
Even the name of this place signifies the importance of what the people running it do. You see, zebras in the wild surround their young when danger is near. All of the in the adults in the zebra family encircle the younger ones so that no matter what happens, they will be protected. And we should all be doing the same thing for children.
We can’t erase what’s happened to these kids. I know my experiences will be engrained in my memory forever. But what we can do is help these kids be all they are meant to be from this day forward, taking them from abuse to ability. Just like Barbara and Zebra House did for me.
For more information on Zebra Center and the campaign Barbara and I created together, check out this page on my website: http://www.chynna-laird-author.com/p/chynnas-bookshelf.html
ABOUT THE BOOK
Elephant in the middle of the living room–that is one way of explaining how a family walks around the invisible presence of huge problems. Hindsight is what brings the elephant into focus.
Somehow at the innocent age of five Tami began to see the bulky creature crowding her family and took on a sense of responsibility far beyond expectation for her age. Her mother was different than other mothers. Family life in their household was not pretty. No one seemed to notice. No one did anything about it, and Tami wanted someone to do just that. As an adult Tami took on her first name, Chynna, and took up the challenge to find out what might have helped her mother fight her battle of self-destruction. She couldn’t help her mother, but she would consider it worth everything if her family’s story helped another.
This candid memoir is a story of one girl’s struggle to deal with her mother’s alcoholic/bipolar condition–the white elephant no one else would see. With a conversational tone, Laird shares her remarkable story of abuse, survival, and her triumphant recovery into becoming a healthy, well adjusted wife and mother. Tastefully written, this book will touch your heart. It offers hope that, no matter where you come from, life is what you make it.
See my review here.
THANKS TO AUTHOR, CHYNNA LAIRD, I HAVE
ONE (1) SIGNED COPY OF HER BOOK TO GIVE AWAY.
CLICK HERE TO BRING YOU TO
THE GIVEAWAY ENTRY PAGE.
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me,
in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive
are ever sold…they are kept by me,
or given to family and/or friends.