VOICE OF SOLES
“I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.”
— C. JoyBell C.
Reflections Of The Family Black Sheep
By : Cristaly Carrion
Today, I was blessed to be able to listen to a presentation by Liz Ferro, the founder of Girls With Sole, a non-profit organization that uses fitness to empower at-risk girls. It was a presentation that broke my heart. During the presentation, I experienced sadness, fear, inspiration, hope, and rage. It was overwhelming. All of the emotions I experienced while Liz was talking scared me. I could not control myself, and had to sit for a few minutes after class just to allow myself to cry.
In six weeks, I will be graduating from Cleveland State University with a B.A. in Psychology as well as a B.A. in Music. After this, my life truly begins. I do not have a set plan for my life after May 9th. However, I do know where my heart is, what my passion is, and what I want to devote my life to. I do not know in what setting, or what subset of the population I want to work with, but I want to work with kids. I have known that about myself since I was in high school.
Liz’s visit hit me so hard for several reasons, the first being that I had never met someone so strong in real life. She is a survivor, and does not call herself a victim. I found that to be powerful. Her sense of humor, openness, and even her word choices are all signs of strength. Yet, I am almost 100% sure that she would not like or appreciate being called strong. That she would shrug it off. The balance that she has created in her life and the stability that she provides for the girls that she works with are astounding to me.
Another influential point that Liz showed me is that it is more than okay to be “directionless.” Although I am not a victim of sexual abuse, I do come from an emotionally and verbally abusive environment. My parents come from physically abusive environments. Through my experiences and study of Psychology, I recently have been able to identify this. In this way, I could relate to much of the feelings and experiences that Liz shared with us. I know what it is like to be called “crazy.” To be the “black sheep.” To be made fun of by the family and betrayed or abandoned by the people whose job or duty it is to protect you. It was not in the form of a denial of sexual abuse, but it came in other forms.
I am so grateful, not only for Liz’s visit, but just for her very existence! She has taken her life experiences and used them to make the world a better place, one person at a time. She has used her pain, suffering, mistakes, poor decisions, agony, and her education to create something beautiful. In my opinion, she is the very definition of the word resilient. It takes an incredible amount of effort to rise from the kind of abuse that Liz endured, but it takes even more to revisit the pain day after day in order to help another person. As she said, statistically, she should not even be alive. But as she also said, if she could make a difference in even one person’s life, it would all be worth it…and that is exactly what she does through Girls With Sole.
It was a truly incredible experience to be able to hear her story, and to know that there are people and organizations out there that serve the communities I am interested in working with. She inspired me to do some research and soul-searching, and for that I am appreciative.