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Forgiving the Unforgivable: The moment of truth

‘I can accept what happened,’ I told my sister’s killer. ‘Today, in this moment, I can wish you well’

BY TOM HUDGENS, final episodeWhen you took my sister’s life, I told the killer himself as we sat in a stark room in a Texas prison, there were, amazingly, seven people who considered her a best friend.

John Black,* who is 30 years into a life sentence, had told me about his life, with the honesty I had asked for. Now I was telling him about his victim, who was taken from the world when she was 22 and I was just 9.

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The Great Toaster Lesson

How a prayer circle, and a kitchen fire, led to a powerful Aha! Moment

BY SUEANN JACKSON-LAND — Every other Saturday morning my friend Kim picks me up to join the Elgin Street Mission Breakfast Club, a group comprised of  women who serve food at a local soup kitchen. Our captain is Debbie, an energetic woman I like to describe via her shoes: Keds sneakers colored with Sharpies into left and right rainbows.

Kim, I met at church. She is one of those people who keeps her Christian faith private, although her spirit is always at work. That she didn’t try to coerce me into a volunteer effort made me want to do it all the more.

This past Saturday, only my second time participating, I immediately went to my cereal pouring job because that’s what I knew how to do. I was pouring when our toaster lady, Barb, asked me if I thought the industrial-sized block of hard yellow stuff was butter or margarine?

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Lost? Back to Square One: It’s a good address

A post-modern mystic describes how she learned to accept — and appreciate — financial ruin, homelessness, and terminal illness

GUEST COLUMN: VAISHALI — I have had to start over so many times in so many aspects of my life, you’d think that ‘Square One’ was my mailing address. I’m sure we at least share the same zip code. I have been diagnosed — terminal — twice.

Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois

I like to refer to myself as a “terminal over-achiever.” Because of those chronic health problems, I lost the business I spent nearly a decade building. And then it took every cent I had ever saved just to stay alive. I had to start over financially, from Square One.

I have been without a home, and as Blanche DuBois from Streetcar Named Desire would say, “. . . have relied on the kindness of strangers.” No home? No problem. I can stay at Square One — they even leave the light on for me.

I have been lied to, and cheated on, by nearly every single romantic partner I have ever had, which for me, is a deal-breaker. So, the instant I discovered betrayal, I packed up and left. My destination? Square One.

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crisis on wall street

Can we find *true* wealth in a financial meltdown?

As the fear on Wall Street panics every holder of American stocks, here is a lesson from the Great Depression: Our grandparents weren’t left behind by their community, family or friends.

GUEST COLUMN: SHERYL KARAS — What is your greatest source of wealth in a Depression? A dependable day job? Gold coins stashed under your mattress? A 401K retirement plan?

If the stock market crashes and inflation rises at the speed of light, things we’ve been taught to depend on in recent years will turn out to have been nothing to depend on at all.

The real source of wealth for people in the Great Depression were their communities, family and friends.

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Thanksgiving: an act of reconciliation?

From Plymouth to John Wayne westerns, white Americans have put Native Indians between a rock and a hard place. This Thanksgiving I’m joining a festival to honor what they’ve given, and lost

GUEST COLUMN: DANNY KENNY — In the twilight slumber of Thanksgiving morning, the first boat moors at “The Rock” and the “tired and weary” passengers disembark. But this is Alcatraz not Plymouth, and we’re not here to celebrate or give thanks for our survival. We, so-called “civilized” folks, have much to be thankful for, and I’m not talking turkey here.

On the day when the majority of white Americans give thanks for the American dream . . .

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the translator

A book that changed my life: The Translator

Optimism blossoms amid the horror that is Darfur, even without Angelina Jolie

BY AMY LEASK — Crises in other countries often come to my attention by way of biased media accounts, or through celebrity crusades like Angelina Jolie’s whatever, in wherever, spot news. The Translator, however, is different. This book is written from the inside — that is, an insider’s experience of a region fraught with political and pain-body upheaval.

True to its title, I experienced the book as a bridge between my Western schooling and the very real people struggling in Darfur.

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Letter from Galveston: Coping with loss after hurricane Ike

Letter from Galveston: Coping with loss after hurricane Ike

A small business owner writes about returning after the storm

BY SKIP MARTIN — After weaving my way through the maze of road blocks and debris that is Galveston County post-Ike, I finally made it to the Galveston Police checkpoint.  It was more than a week before residents would be allowed to return permanently — just two days after the storm ripped through — and officials were letting property owners back for a five-hour-period that was known as a “look and leave.”

Look, I did. What I saw resembled a city, post-battle. I drove along the causeway past piles of debris — mangled boats, crumpled washing machines, the bloated corpse of a dog. State and National Guard troops, in their crisp BDUs and driving Humvees, were only outnumbered by reporters and news trucks.

As I traveled down Broadway, a main thoroughfare,  I thought how timely the demolishing of the Taco Bell had been. A small victory.

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A peak experience in a roofless world

An astrologer who is also an expert in astronomy wrote a meditation after sleeping outside his California home many nights to seek relief from Indian Summer temperatures

“It started out as an escape from the stuffiness and heat in our solar-cooked house,” says the author. “Then it became more like a vision quest.”


There’s nothing romantic or liberating about it—
this cowering in a sleeping bag watching the twinkling menace collapsing the screen tent
of who I think I am.

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Living in fear: Being raised by a mentally ill mom was like walking on eggshells

Part 1 of 4: It was when her voice was devoid of emotion that I feared her the most

BY SUEANN JACKSON-LAND — I didn’t know when it started. I still don’t, and probably never will know. My mother changed. Around other people she was cheery, always a bubbly personality. Being the offspring of a master chameleon, I’ve adapted that same mask. I can smile at you with bright blue-gray eyes twinkling, when inside, my heart is in night terrors.

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Living in fear: Recovery, redemption and realization

Part 4 of 4: My father jokes that I have a league of guardian angels

BY SUEANN JACKSON-LAND — There is, of course, a much more to my story than what I recounted in the first three parts of the Living in fear series published here. It’s taken me 43 years, four months and 16 days to get to Soul’s Code. Every time I thought I was ready to write “my” book, God changed the story. I wrote earlier today that I was concerned that readers might come away with the idea that the only thing I have to say as a human being is “my mom was mean and then she killed herself.” It is anything but that.

Tragedies will happen and people will let us down, that’s part of living. It’s what we do with it that matters. I don’t want to speak in bumper sticker theology or platitudes because it is different for every person within their own truth. I deeply and passionately believe in free will and that our perceptions can cripple us — or free us. I could have spent my life blaming my mother, blaming my father, and destroying myself.

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