Damn. Chelsea, you’re incredible.
You can read her words below or you can make the wiser choice of clicking the link and watching Chelsea flow.
It’s powerful and captivating. ~FC
The exposure of your wounds, scars, journeys, and hearts takes courage that cannot be defined nor determined…but simply lived. Your existence is uniquely phenomenal and undoubtedly necessary to this world and the people you will encounter. Continue to share your story… your soul…your survival. Though I often profess my astonishment and admiration in writing, please know that words will never do justice to express how much each one of you mean to me.
Thank you firecrackers…burn on.
Dance, explore, explode,
Chelsea Marie Hill
I cannot be, except to be at fault, to exalt this lack of luck like a sitting duck and implode with a liability for my instability. We assume we were at fault for this doom. Or fates woven loom lead us to this tomb, encasing our racing minds, bodies bind, and we find ourselves to be devoid of belief that we are valuable. We avoid our own grief, as if we don’t deserve to feel pain. Unsuccessfully mending the never-ending unraveling of our traveling guilt. My fault. My mistake. My tease. Oh please, make it stop. I shouldn’t feel this way, I brought this on myself, I could have walked away, I’m not sure if it was just play. Then why do I feel this way?! Further pigeonholed, empty souls, into a dark bliss of images amiss. This misguided depiction, a culture built on fiction, on a painted image of a body that nobody can achieve, oh how they deceive. And where is our reprieve when we believe we are never enough, yet all too much. Maybe I should just go away?
Don’t go away. Don’t run. Don’t hide from the sun. Put your face in the light and bite down on your tongue and breathe open air into those lungs and feel how uncomfortable and awkward and gross and strange it feels to birth your true self into the world. Scarred, marred, wiggly, clumsy, broken, tangled and terribly gorgeous in your courageous and outrageous release of a piece of your mind you’ve been waiting to give them, deliver no quiver of doubt as you shout, I survived. Don’t hide.
Dig. Dig so deep you weep and your tears begin to seep into the ground, adding to the well that weighs you down. Creep through the forest of fears that left you here. Flood the gates from underneath, and sink. You’re on the brink of breakdown. All around you are memories and shreds of what you dread. Find the thread. Find the silver lining below the pining to be what the world expects, instead respect that you’re not perfect and don’t reject your radical resilience, your brilliance that exists, twists of fate, it was NOT your mistake, you didn’t cause this pain, you partake in what you regain. Never the same, but still the same you, moving through the forest, taking root, dilute the shattering cries with tears from eyes that see hope as you cope and climb and see….from the roots of the tree, let it be. Let it be…
Listen for the boom, shhhhhhh….listen. It’s going to happen. They’re smart. They’re talented. They’re creative and innovative and inspiring and thoughtful and bigger than this misconception of a desired perfection which some formula or purchased powder, product, spray, natural decay will delay the aging of their beautiful skin, they’re raging…the explosion of voices, people who KNOW their true selves are on fire! Who honor their desires because they desire knowledge, desire change… do not desire to be estranged from your skin, deranged from what’s within… but bodies on fire, respect your desire, and admire your energy as your blood begins to boil, burn, toil, churn…shhhhh, listen to the explosion. There’s an outburst, a surge, a spark… its happening. All around. Tonight. Shhhh….listen to the sound. The sound of gathering hearts, worlds torn apart, but willing to start…a revolution, to find solutions, to stop the pollution of images in our brain that drive us insane and cultivate shame. Instead, they came. Came together, full of desire, souls on fire, sparks are flying, eyes are crying, we will cry out “you are enough! You are worthy! You are breathing! You are beauty! Keep repeating! You are breathing you are beauty, you’re alive, you survived.” Let the spark ignite, let your desire fuel the fight, let the explosion ignite, we are the Firecrackers exploding in our knowing that we are not victimized and we will refuse to subsidize our desire to be on fire.
A forest fire is about to ignite, it’ll blow you out of sight, blow your mind, but you must be quiet enough to hear the crackle, hear the spark. Firecrackers, making their mark…
We must start…we must begin somewhere. Dig. Dig your roots, dig into the fear. There are loved ones near. Do it here. Let your brave be slave to the desire to ignite this forest on fire… From the roots of the tree, let it be. Let it be. Let it be.
Pre-cursor; Firecrackers…unite and ignite.
Love. Honesty. Support. Take off the mask and let the sun hit your face. You’re not a disgrace. Move at a slower pace, this isn’t a race…the space you take up is yours. Let it be.
Take off the tennis shoes, and be your own muse. Let your bare feet play free in the grass, let your knees hit the soil at last… you haven’t fallen, you’re grounding… surrounding yourself with the love you should be given. The ears that should have listened. The tear that always glistened in the moonlight of no one being in sight to make it end. A hate note you still want to send… to yourself.
Instead shower, naked in the truth that soaks you in insecurity because you’re far from purity, perfect, and fame. You’re not to blame. And there is no shame. What you became…never the same…is beautifully imperfect. So let it be. Let it be.
Meet survivor and #Soulfire2014 participant, Alissa Folger. She is a Spartan Alumni who is currently a Practice Consultant for a healthcare consultant and management firm in East Lansing. In her spare time, she is a Skating coach and skater at the Lansing Skating Cub and an English as a Second Language Tutor for the Capital Area Literacy Coalition. Most recently, she joined The Firecracker Foundation’s brand new Volunteer Committee.
We are so excited to be able to share her reflections on #Soulfire2014. Enjoy!
As I walked up to the door, my mind started flooding with thoughts.
What am I doing here?
What am I thinking?
I can’t let people into the secrets and stories of my past that I’ve worked so very hard to bury.
I’ve made a huge mistake.
My thoughts were interrupted when the door opened and I was greeted with the kindest of smiles. I walked into the room and found a seat, still feeling very unsure about myself and what I was doing. I looked around at the faces gathered about the table…and then it happened.
I locked eyes with a young girl sitting next me. She was by far the youngest in the room and was seated next to who I would later learn was her grandmother (although you’d never know it by looking at her). I’m sure the gaze only lasted a few seconds, but in those few seconds time seemed to stop, the rest of the room faded away, and I felt something- a deep connection of some sort.
I couldn’t explain it and didn’t fully understand it at the time. It was like I was looking at myself at twelve years old and it was in that moment that I suddenly remembered why I was choosing to do this. I would later learn that her story was strikingly similar to mine. Was that what had caused the connection I felt? I’m not sure. But I do know that if this young girl could be so brave, then I could too. After all, I wasn’t doing this for me.
When I contacted Tashmica to find out what I could do, I never imagined what it would turn in to. I read through the website and listened to Tashmica describe her vision and dream for the foundation and it really resonated with me. There were two things about the foundation that really spoke to me:
The first was combining artistic and physical outlets with therapy to aid in the childrens’ healing. I feel so strongly about the importance of this because it has been so instrumental in my journey. If someone were to ask me what the most difficult part of healing has been for me, it would be communication and learning to express myself. Being forced into silence for so long, I couldn’t seem to find the words anymore. They just seemed so out of reach. I struggled to find ways to express what I was feeling, to find an outlet for it all and I kept coming up short, lacking the knowledge of what it was that I needed.
Until I found one thing: figure skating. I stumbled upon the sport by what seemed like an accident at the time but that I now believe to be fate- and I fell in love. Skating soon became my outlet, a means of expressing myself when words failed me. Not only did I find an outlet in skating, but I found a supportive environment that helped launch me into the journey of discovering what I was capable of, not just in skating, but in life. In skating, I found a home and something that I thought I would never find again – my voice.
As I read these statements in The Firecracker Foundation’s mission statement, I felt empowered to help these young survivors find something like what I had found that would help them as they tried to move forward. Maybe, with an organization like this, they wouldn’t have to wait so long.
The second thing that really spoke to me about the foundation was the role survivors could play in advocating and mentoring the kids. This is a piece that I didn’t realize was missing for me until I got involved with The Firecracker Foundation. I never realized how much power that hearing two small words- “Me too” could have.
Participating in this project started out as way for me to help the kids in this community who had survived so much and to give them the support and opportunities I have been so blessed with. What I didn’t realize was how much this project was actually giving me. The calendar project has given me the opportunity and the bravery to share my story for the first time and it has been more liberating than I have the words to describe. A weight has been lifted. There are no more secrets- only love. Love and a community of survivors willing to pool their love and raise their voices to fight for those who are still in the darkness. As I look through the images of this project, I see each individual’s story and journey represented in a way that is as unique to them as the beauty they hold and I am inspired.
“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”
– Neil Gaiman
I love your voice, Alissa. The world would not be the same without it. Love, FC.
Meet survivor and #Soulfire2014 participant, Patrick Harris. He is currently a Junior at Michigan State University pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education. Patrick also serves as a Student Leader for The Multi-Racial Unity Living Experience and as a Programming Board Director for ASMSU.
This is his take on participating in The Firecracker Calendar Project.
I have shared my story with a small group or individual many times. After which, someone usually responds simply by saying, “Me Too”. I wanted to speak out on a bigger scale. I just didn’t know how.
When my counselor introduced me to The Firecracker Foundation, it was love at first sight. Upon arriving at the actual photo shoot, I was immediately welcomed into a loving community of survivors and creative geniuses and allies. I’m a huge believer in fate. It was fate that the sun was shining, skies were blue and the clouds were perfectly positioned. I remember hiking down the hill to find the perfect spot. It only took three minutes to find us at the bottom of a small cliff where the tall trees positioned the sun to give an enchanted effect.
I posed like Tyra Banks taught me to after watching many seasons of Americas Next Top Model.
I can’t describe how I felt in the moment seeing the strength of other survivors shine through their photo shoots. I felt apart of a community.
Several weeks later, I received the message that it was time for the big reveal of my photo and I was nervous but excited. When the photo was revealed to me, it just screamed POWER.
Not the external power I’d been receiving through my involvement in leadership activities over the years but true internal power. This is something I never thought that I could ever achieve but The Firecracker Foundation helped me to realize that I’m much farther along in my healing process than my mind tells me.
I am a puzzle piece of a bigger picture.
That bigger picture is providing inspiration and help for those who unfortunately have to say, “Me Too” when my story is told. My photo is dedicated to everyone who has to say “Me Too” and I am thankful that my story of tragedy could be used as one of the sparklers to shine light on truth, justice, and healing.
Thank you Firecracker Foundation for allowing me to be a part of this.
No. Thank you, Patrick for sharing your story with us. It is an honor to be trusted with amplifying your voice. You made us all – including our beloved Tyra – proud. ~Firecracker