The prompts asked in the "Reflections" Workshop were intentional in asking the participants to look within themselves to examine and acknowledge who they are and most importantly, embrace their entire selves, in complete self-expression through writing. Forging through with patience and understanding, the hesitance and resistance, that sometimes stood in our way was overcome. Overall, the writers showed up and wrote from the depths of their authentic selves. For this, Clint and I commend each and every one of them for sharing themselves with the world. Making not only their own healing light shine but becoming beacons, shining bright pathways for those who are on a similar journey. Below are some of the questions, words and very short phrases, we posed to our students.
Student work has been edited lightly as possible in order to honor the original voices.
If someone really wanted to understand you, what would they read, watch, or listen to?
What do you love about yourself?
What do you value about yourself?
Where are you from?
Write about what your name meant to you at 7,8 or 9 years-old. write about what it means to you now.
What is something you are proud of?
What would you love support with?
Liz, Lizzy and Lizard
My mom always told me, my name was a mistake the nurse made. I was supposed to be named Isabella. On the day I was born, my mother was so drugged up. So much that right after I was born, she nodded her head, “yes” to the name Elizabeth. I love my name now. I love the many short names I can make out of it, like Liz or Lizzy or even Lizard. Never Beth and never Lisa. Once, a guy I liked, called me Isabella and I loved the way it resonated in the wind, as it left his lips. Hearing Isabella, took me back to my mom’s so-called mistake. I wondered... why she didn’t fight to correct it? I told myself, I would never be like like her.
I woke up.
I’m sober, made coffee, walked my dog
and took a shower.
I love the fact that I am empathic and caring.
I can meditate and become less anxious.
It feels good to wake up sober.
Today is my birthday.
Elizabeth, The Warrior
Born on an Indian Reservation to a young maiden with a lack of education. “Born of Warriors!” Abuelo would always say, when we would sit and listen to the Elders tell us stories. Guerrero! is my name I am no longer a baby. I am a woman that’s faced a lot of trials on my journey. Elizabeth- my white name, my Elders call me, say I am a warrior. I have not been defeated but have seen a lot of wars. I have battle wounds to prove I have been to war. I have learned that when my name is mentioned I have earned my place in this world. I am a warrior! I have overcome my struggles- adelante nada mas. This life of wisdom I have gained.
I really want to apologize for letting you down so often. It’s just harder for me but it’s becoming easier and I have become more confident in myself. Thank you for loving me.
- Kathy G.
When I was growing up I never met anyone with the name Linda (not Linda but Leenda). In my case, it is a Mexican name. Everyone will say that it translates to mean “beautiful” but I’ve never felt beautiful. I still feel that way now, even as an adult. I hate it when people tell me the meaning of my name. But, I appreciate my name because you don’t hear it that often said in Spanish...Linda...Linda. It sweetly leaves one’s tongue like a caramelo soft candy. When I use my initials, it spells LAG. It fits me because I sometimes do lag in doing things.
- Linda G.
She swoops down and she thinks delicately like an owl.
Her hoot echoes through the night
like a loud ...whisper
of a clucking chicken, aware of their awkward nocturnal presence.
I dive deep into
cool water, swimming deeper
into the darkness of my regrets.
An eternity dwells,
in my lazy daze while in Rosemary’s garden.
Hung up and euphoric
on the honeysuckle gate of sweet jasmine.
- Julie L.
Small, square and blue
counting down the minutes
until I can break it open
triangle shaped goodness
covered in sporadic seasoning
undressing with my eyes
I am a very outgoing person.
I roar like lion.
Some would say I’m different like a panda.
Others would state that I do things for mankind.
Maybe, I should do more for myself like a shark?
Lately, I’ve been handling myself as a bald eagle would- full of vision; fearless; tenacious; and nurturing.
I could be a little selfish sometimes but isn’t that a good thing?
I am who I am.
- Kyieanna W.
my car in September.
to take a good, hard look at myself- which is a good thing.
Where am I? And where am I going?
I aspire to be a kind person, although it evades me.
I am at home by myself with my dog.
I envy, quite a bit, the simplicity of her life.
She stares at me while I clean and go out to smoke,
actually happy that she can accompany me.
It is evident
that she loves
the laughter in our house
much more than
- Mary Marcia G.
Family, Husband, Daughters
I abused a substance and caused hurt.
Family, Husband and Daughters
I am caring, patient and understanding, when it comes to it.
Family, Husband and Daughters
I am proud and love every minute I spend time laughing and sharing.
Family, Husband, Daughters.
- Karen P.
When I’m feeling good about myself...
When I know I have to become serious about the things in my life that are so wonderful and a blessing...I am running.
- Stephanie M.
I Am From...
- I am from San Antonio, Texas
- The Eastside on Canton Street.
- I am from a God fearing family - happy and outgoing.
- I am from Florida. A place of such beauty- inside and out.
- I am from a lady named Sandra -Mother, so gorgeous!
- I am from myself...I have my own personality.
- I am from “Only God can judge me.”
- I am from Mexican food- a big plate of cheese enchiladas, rice and beans and chalupas! Plus, a big plate of spaghetti with cheese, salad and a tall glass of Sprite or Tropical Punch Kool-Aid.
- I am from Fall. September, the month of my birth.
- I am from my grandmother, she is the most beautiful person I will ever meet. She will never give up on me as long as she lives.
- I am from Gucci. It smells so right on my skin and clothes.
- I am from my four children.
- I am from living long enough to a be 100-years-old.
- Tiffany S.
Share a time you were misunderstood.
"I felt misunderstood when I was growing up in the foster system."
Share a time you were your bravest self.
"I proved myself to be the bravest I had ever been when I raised my kids with people doubting me."
Share a time you realized you are bigger than you give yourself credit for.
"I am more outspoken than I use to be."
- Rene G.
Share a time you proved to be your biggest and bravest self.
"Moving away into my own apartment so that my son and I could live together, alone. I can be a mother to him without the help and reliance of my aunts and father."
- Pamela B.
Share a time you were misunderstood.
"I feel like my whole life, with my family, I’ve been misunderstood. I am labeled the “black sheep” of the family. “Oh, Jane messed up again.” “Oh Jane, what did she do now?” I feel like my family doesn’t listen to me. They don’t realize...I need help with addiction, depression and alcoholism. All I want is support and love. They think I just f$#k up. I am a good person. I’m kind, generous, loyal, honest and I make mistakes."
Share a time you were your bravest.
"I think the one time I was brave was when I came to Alpha Home on my own, free of my own will because of my addiction. My choice to come here, wasn’t forced by probation or CPS. I just showed up and admitted I was an addict and needed help. I was scared to do this but I knew I had to do this for my children and especially myself. I felt so strong and brave for enrolling in an Outpatient Rehab."
Canela y Abuela
- I am from the Southside of San Anto.
- From Domingo and Gloria, my parents in the midst of their own addiction.
- I’m from Villa Coronado- a neighborhood where I was raised by my grandparents and an uncle who battled depression.
- I am from the smell of tortillas in the morning. Waking up to a big plate of potatoes and eggs and a pot of good ol’ beans. From the smell of canela and grandmother making oatmeal, every morning ‘cause at times we didn’t have nothing else to eat.
- From a family who would play lotteria when times were hard and didn’t have nothing else to do.
- I’m from poor and sad times and “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”
- A place where I stood up for myself and lashed out at those who harmed me.
- I am from a strong brother who showed me to never become the victim- always fight back.
- From four wonderful miracles from God that helped me change the way I live my life today.
- And from strong and good faith that is the reason why I’m alive today.
- Jessica L.
Me Then, Me Now
She dances ever so generously like a butterfly to the sound of soft laughter.
I am a lioness, I play but I’m serious.
Can you smell that? It’s Sandalwood...as if I traveled back into the time when I was child.
A Honey Bee
I pretend to be.
only to help others in their strife.
Today, I lay like a sloth and listen…
to my son’s t.v. shows as he’s gone.
My husband cooks and tries to make me laugh,
Put a smile on my face.
I yearn for my son to come home
to his Mama and Papa Bear.
- Ashley C.
I AM JESSICA
- I am from the womb of a young teenage mother, raised in the poverty of Piedras Negras, Mexico.
- I am from a struggling mother, a loving grandmother, a beautiful daughter and an absent father.
- I am from nature, the peacefulness, tranquility and nurturing calmness of the earth.
- I am from the green eyes and light skin of the father I never met, and mirror-like facial features of my mother.
- I am strong, too nice and forgiving for my own good.
- I am the one behind the wheel of my life.
- I am a Krispy Kreme glazed donut...sometimes too sweet.
- I am spring- blooming and growing like a flower.
- I am my daughter’s favorite person. No one changes me, just helps me become better.
- I am the scent of sweet pea- sweet but strong enough to be noticed.
- I am a mother to the best, most beautiful, little 6-year-old Diva.
- I am going to be successful in this thing called life.
- Jessica G.
"Lost & FounD" - I am STRONG, BRAVE and INDEPENDENT. I’ve been through a lot- molestation, rape beatings, abandonments and betrayals. I am STRONG, BRAVE and INDEPENDENT. I like the passage Footprints- "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you Never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you". and The Serenity Prayer- "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference". these are my stories too. I am STRONG, BRAVE and INDEPENDENT. Her name is Serenity Love. I want her to have the serenity, I can’t seem to feel. I want her to feel the love, I long for. I want her to know she is love and loved. I am STRONG, BRAVE and INDEPENDENT.
- Janie L
Growing up my name was always chopped up. In school, when I was called upon, I already knew to spell my last name before the teacher asked. A bunch of chopped up letters, like chopped salad. It seemed my name- Maryjane E#$*@&...was someone I wasn’t. At times, I wanted to change my name...my identity...who I was to something simple. I imagined I could be like the girl who sat next to me- Lisa Garcia. I envied her normal, simple, short designation. I longed for my title, my character meant nothing to me. When I played “school” at home with my sisters, I became someone else. I became someone I wanted to be. I became Lisa Garcia. Nobody pronounced Lisa’s name incorrectly nor did I have to spell it out before it left their lips. I felt normal. I felt simple.
- Maryjane E.
"My Days" - I always clean quietly. It’s my peace, my therapy. The dog is always making a mess every time I turn around. I love the place to smell of clean lavender and bleach. I take my cleanliness seriously. It never smells fishy or like feet. The kids are always laughing at me. They always thank me with a hug as they walk all over my wet floors. Can’t help but laugh with them. I hand them the mop to do it again because “Mommy is yawning and needs time to rest.”
- SONYA C.
Me as a parent, I’m very protective of my children
like a panther
to its cubs.
Almost like how the smell of roses are associated
with the fire in a red nosed pit bull.
The color red is very vivacious.
It reminds me of being
It reminds me of being loyal
like a lioness.
It allows me to be free
like the sound of a moving train
with no particular destination.
Or humble to a baby’s cry
which is music to my ears…
a sound I describe as just…
A mother is what God wants me to be.
Someone on fire for him.
Someone with a courageous, spontaneous and lovable heart,
in a sea of red never ending, effervescent waves.
The New and Improved Me
I am a very caring, passionate mother, friend, companion and sibling.
I put all of me into everything I do.
In my daily life, I am loving my sobriety, as I live a beautiful life, like I always knew I could.
I’m delighted that my children see and spend time with the new and improved me.
I defend my children like a female tiger defends her cubs- as it should be.
I demonstrate loyalty, respect, loving care, and nurturing to them while they grow into their own.
Sweet cookies, candy and home-cooked meals are my offerings of love.
The delicate smell of flowers fills the air, as I clean the path- showing my children the beauty in this life.
I am a loving mother and
a kind person to any stranger who may need me.
I hear music in raindrops hitting the pavement;
in the ocean, as she turns; or
in birds flying by, singing.
It's the music that motivates
my soul daily
with echoes of laughter and love,
as we play and run
- FELIPA R.
Letter to D
To My Son Dylan,
I acknowledge that my past mistakes have made you doubt me. I declare that I will make the right choices from this day forward. I’ll ensure that I won't make those same choices in the future. Have patience with me.
- Nicole D.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. If you want to stay balanced you've got to keep moving forward.” - Albert Einstein
- I am from a rough and tough life. From a road of failures. Born in Lemoore, CA in May.
- I am from Donna, Carmen, my Tia Irma, Michael and Nadia.
- From my g’ma’s house, in my girlfriend’s arms and my little girl, Irma.
- I’m from a medium rare steak, boiled shrimp, steamed broccoli, and homemade, creamy mashed potatoes.
- From muscle cars, making my own toys and playing in the street puddles when it rains.
- I’m from the brain is the human power. Knowledge is leadership.
- I am from the smell of Curve cologne and Mama’s cooking.
- From knowledge is my ability to comprehend. My precise utilization of words. My greatest weakness- RISKS- that no one else does and losing my family.
- I’m from failing all my classes to making As and Bs and scoring high on the Exit Level test.
- I am from Albert Einstein’s inspirations and my first and biggest joy in life- Irma Adai.
- From my life’s dream to succeed and change the pattern of failing to moving forward in life.
- To be able to plan ahead and have time catch up with me. To believing that I am stronger.
Describe a person that inspires you and why.
My brother ‘cause he’s a strong individual - no drugs, has a great job, house and dream cars. Those are my goals to have for my family.
Describe something you are proud of and why.
I’m proud that I’m 20 days sober and clean today. I’m very happy.
List up to 5 fears you have...
I fear that I’m not being the best father I can be. I fear losing my parents. I want to love them and show them they raised a great man.
3 things you value about yourself…
I’m hardworking, big hearted and strong minded.
Share a time you were your bravest.
I was brave when I went and did my prison time with no trouble and came out with my degrees.
Share a time your actions and choices led to something bigger than you. You were a part of something that was larger than yourself. The impact was greater than you could’ve imagined.
Becoming manager at my store- I never thought I would make it this far in my company with my background.
Small South Texas Town Gal
- I am from a little small, South Texas town. From Ron and Corina and my 5 cats.
- I’m from the bay, Site 55 and drum point.
- I am from a pizza cut into big, thin slices with lots of melted cheese, tons of crushed red pepper and a very toasty crust. From homemade tortilla chips- chunky yet smooth, red salsa with the perfect amount of heat and flavor.
- I’m from hide & go seek and barbies. From the “Lord is my strength and my shield”.
- And the smell of “clean” or “fresh” and the color blue- it makes me feel and think of being clean.
- I am from my greatest strength-cooking and my weakness- being too nice to people.
- From my awkward teen years.
- I’m from my mother, she is the strongest person/woman I know. Emotionally, financially, spiritually- she goes above and beyond for everyone. She is loved by all and always has time and energy for every person she holds dear.
- I am from my daughter and my fiance- they both give me strength. I never knew I could love like this.
- From having a nice house, a stable job and income, my daughter with me everyday in a healthy and happy relationship. Surrounded everyday with love, doing fun hobbies and lots of pets.
My Roots Run Deep
Leesville, LA - my poor dad was stationed at Fort Polk, swamp country.
I, was raised in Houston and San Antonio.
San Antonio is where the sun comes to spend the summer.
I am from my husband, Art, and my daughter- two brothers and my sister-in-law, Patty.
She is a beacon for my sobriety.
I am from the coastal beach of Corpus Christi.
From balcony views and tranquil, decompressing moments of sitting still, watching the tide roll in,
the waves crash and the seagulls fly over my head.
I am from my mother’s features-
small, petite, bony,
powerful and mighty.
neither myself or my mother
were nurturing or loving.
I’m forgiving myself everyday for the mistakes I’ve made as a parent.
I’m hopeful my daughter can
break that cycle;
creating the best version of the type of woman she longs to be.
- Terry O.
"At 7 and 50 -years-old"
At 7 years-old, my father always called me, Daniel of the Lions. At 7 years-old, he told me, “One day, you will be great.”
At 50 years-old, I’m trying to find that Daniel, my father told me I would become. Right now, Daniel means- trying, hopeful and a good father.
- Daniel M.
The little things people take for granted…
I want a messy house!
Kids being LOUD,
dirty dishes and
clanking pots and pans while cooking.
Eating with my kids.
A clean and quiet house is not for me!
NO! Not until they're grown up and get married or move out!
These are the little things, I won’t take for granted any longer.
- Melissa G.
A place of twos, beauty and humility
I’m from a place where people come in twos, twins. A place where two people have loved each other for more than anything in the world. A place where I call them “Amá and Papá”.
I come from a place where lives are sacrificed for love- Mexico City. From my older sister, Maty, sewing sequins on my Halloween witch outfit and dressing my twin brother in his sharp, red devil’s costume.
From beautiful temples and rock monuments honoring ancient Gods and violence, injustice, racism and any harm to humanity is considered repulsive.
A space where we miss and long for the presence of my brother and where Christmas, New Year and Thanksgiving are always considered a feast of delectable treats.
A world where Horton, the elephant, saves a tiny world on a clover. From arranging floral species with skill and passion.
I am from very loving children, who love me unconditionally and yet a low, low place that has made me, me.
From dimensions traveled to by a mind altering addiction. To being hungry, starving over the pain of losing my sibling, my angel.
I’m from a belief in recovery, in God’s love and healing and from it’s “okay to let go.”
I am from ratifying my dream and fight everyday to make vision of becoming a Nurse Practitioner, who saves lives, a reality.
I’m a fighter, a survivor for my children and myself.
From a beautiful, humble, kind family who gave me the name, Cynthia.
A gorgeous smile,
and beautiful eyes.
flowers and everything about them.
She is uncompromising, to make it on her own
I believe she will succeed.
Three things I value about myself…
- My honesty
- My understanding
- My calmness
Something I would love to do but I’m not sure I can…
Stop drinking so much soda.
The Daughter, Sister, Mother in Me
I am from San Antonio, Texas. Born and raised on the Southside of town.
I am the daughter and a sister of a loving, strong and caring family of four.
I am from the breezy day at the beach with sand in between my toes and water tides roaring in my ears. And the playful giggles from my children playing with each other.
I am from the most beautiful mother who loves like no other and encourages me to “keep doing better” and get back on my feet.
I am from a generous sensitive soul, just like my mom who is so perfect and sweet- an ideal mother.
I am from it’s “5 o’clock somewhere”.
I am from cooked sushi with an avocado cream cheese and crab, topped with jalapeño and drizzled with spicy mayo and dipped in eel sauce. And fried tempura!
I am a winter day with a Carhartt Camo jacket and a bonfire with Hershey chocolate, marshmallows, and cinnamon graham crackers- toasted just right.
I am from my beautiful children, the fruit of my loom, who make me smile and believe in myself. Their laughter is what makes my heart continue to beat.
I am from the juicy, sexy yet sweet and tempting smell of Victoria’s Secret Bombshell Summer perfume.
I am from my greatest joy of being a mom to 3 souls- Aden 11, Aria 1 and AJay 9 months.
I am from becoming a loved and respected R.N. who helps others and saves lives - as others have saved me.
Some things about me
I’m from San Antonio, Texas.
I have no family.
I’m from the safe space of my bedroom and from menudo and a corn tortilla.
I’m from roses. I like to plant roses and smell them everywhere.
From impressing my Algebra teacher and overcoming my lack of confidence.
I am from a new identity...my life until now, I’ve never been called Alejandro.
THREE THINGS I VALUE ABOUT MYSELF...plus my Thoughts
- The ability to solve problems without inconveniencing others.
- I am a very optimistic person. I feel there is a positive side in everything.
- My sense of humor because I have the capability to adapt and still make people laugh.
I need more resources to make my life, as well as my family’s life, easier. If given the right opportunities, I can make a whole lot of people, happier.
Coming to class; passing my drug tests; and not letting anything get in the way of completing the program, are the three things moving me closer to my dreams.
- Terrelle C.
Patience, Love and Goodness
I am from my father, Enrique and his gentle and forgiving ways.
From my patient husband, Erik who loves me even when I cannot and hate myself.
I am from my beautiful children- their precious soul and pure love.
I’m from my own love and my goodness.
From making a positive change in my own life and in the world.
Beautiful, Elegant and Worthy
Christina is a name that reads elegantly from the lips. Beautiful in sound, it is associated with beauty in the soul and physique. The heart of Christina is filled with gentle kindness that enables her to only give to others. At the drop of a hat, she would be there to listen or comfort those that need her. When you befriend "a Christina”, you know that you have made a true friend for life. She is a private and modest person, who places protective walls around herself. She holds a compassionate heart from those who wish to hurt it. In the beginning, you may find her personality to be “difficult” to get along with. If you take the time and care to establish a relationship with her, you’ll witness those walls tumble down with few pokes of a finger. This Christina has so much love to offer. It is the greatest gift she can give. If you manage to capture her heart for your own, consider yourself very lucky. She does not give herself lightly, for one must truly be wonderful as she, to be worthy.
I am Christina. I’m beautiful, gorgeous, fun, smart, loving, kind, compassionate and hard working. I am a positive person you would love to be around...I am worthy.
"From Ridicule to Tribute"
During a period of my life my name was the source of endearing mockery.
Always being altered or rearranged to become a different name altogether.
Now, my name is a title that I proudly embrace because I inherited from the greatest man I know, my Father.
I hear...the word overcome.
She has been through a lot.
She has always conquered her challenges with grace.
Stephanie now, has a reprise of renewal.
A transformer of fortification- shiny and resilient.
She can’t help but smile.
I have never been in love with my name.
And no, I didn’t think it was ever lame.
Now, I say it with pride
with an electricity- Man!
I’m energy, power and force,
in what was once known ashes.
Stephanie Nicole rises.
A Woman who loves no matter what
despite her struggles
she, still manages to stay positive and strong.
A Woman who is warm at heart, able to love, care and show compassion is extraordinary.
Her strength is motivation to push forward, regardless of the challenges that lay ahead.
I say, “push on Sista!”
A Woman is an awesome gift, as is her friendship.
A Woman, I am proud to call, “friend”.
Mother she is and children are lucky to call her theirs.
Her name is Samantha and she is A Phenomenal Woman.
A Faint Memory
I hate who I am now.
I hate who I have become
but I remember who I used to be
and who I can be.
I’m still trying to find myself.
I may not find the old me.
I might find out…
I’m a better version than I ever imagined myself to be.
I am Becca.
"When I decided to finally give up using drugs, I wanted to put as many things in my path that would force me to remain true to my commitment. So, I made a video of myself the day after, I smoked dope for the last time. I put it on Facebook for the world to see. I looked a hot mess and it was very obvious that I was in bad shape. However, I did it anyway. It was the most frightening and bravest thing I ever did. After three takes, I made a choice on which one to post." -Les R.
about gemini ink, writers in communities program
The Writers in Communities (WIC) program sends published, professional writers into schools, institutions, and other community settings to work alongside students of all ages and abilities. While in residence, the writers and their students create dynamic creative writing projects that challenge, celebrate, inspire and enlighten.
about the writers in residence
Erica DeLaRosa is a Performance Artist, Director and co-founder of the performance troupe, Mahina Movement in New York City. For 12 years, with Mahina Movement, she facilitated poetry workshops, produced and performed on over 300+ stages throughout the U.S. and internationally. In 2013, DeLaRosa moved back to her beloved, Westside (78207) neighborhood in San Antonio, where she invests in her community and contributes her talents as a Teaching Artist with several community organizations. She continues to share her poetry and musical talent in San Antonio and her second home, NYC.
Clint Taylor is an actor, Teaching Artist and professional volunteer. He is a company member of Jump-Start Performance Co. As well as a member of the San Antonio Latino Theater Alliance (SALTA). With over 20 years of experience in community theater, he has performed in various shows throughout San Antonio and New York City.
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