When I was a child, daisies and dandelions were my favorite flowers. We lived on a dead end street that ran between the sprinkled lawns of our duplex, and the mod Edsel dealership that lined its shiny, fancy, cars in a row. The pavement was dressed with seismic cracks and yellow dandelions peeking up toward the sky. I remember I would walk to the edge of the pavement, bent from the waist, arms stretched out behind me. Then leaned forward, made a big O with my mouth, drew a gust of air through my lungs and blew out a 'puff' ball. Its arms sprayed out in a fan-like-fashion and hit the pavement. I called its arms 'wings' and said a prayer as the wings twirled to their designated spots. Each wing, to me, was a Queen in a chess game, luring every ant into its domain while it glided down the smooth tar pavement it played on. It touched my soul with happiness. I was the only one in the whole world, I thought, who discovered the 'puff' ball. It made me giggle inside till the sweet air tickled my trachea and caused me to leap, bounce, lift my heels, and fly in a high pitched shrill to the dancing melodies of the atmosphere. Because I lived in home with a parent who was an alcoholic and her climb to prosperity was steep, my wishes were modest, young enough for happy dresses and tootsie pops on Christmas day, but not, mature enough to satisfy my appetite of peace, love and abundance for the world. So much of the world needed a good spoon-sized dose of peace, love, and abundance, but I couldn't give it to them. I couldn't speak up about it, I was different. I was forever young and was forever silent. I was a child who gained her strength from the 'March of Dimes' when I was crippled in the legs from polio when I was age 2. I walked away from the paralysis of the back from another bout of polio when I was 7. I hid many things inside and kept to myself. I was occupied by playing with the dandelions in the cracks of the pavement in Salt Lake City and fascinated with the daises that matured in the late spring and summer. The cheerful daises had snow white petals with yummy mustard-like- colored centers. I would wedge myself between the narrow alley way and the duplexes, sit on a step, and generate a strange, quiet secret to myself. Sometimes I pretended I was sitting with Santa, as I grabbed a green stem and plucked out the delicate daisy petals one by one. "He loves me, he loves me not!" In my mind, I believed my boyfriends, Biff and Tony, that were my age who lived up the street, were holding my hand and pressing their kisses on my check. After I plucked the last petal, I discovered that all my boyfriends loved me. I'd look up skyward and reflected on the big blue sky. "Thank you, God, for I am loved," I said. I'll never forgot the feeling. It was a universal feeling of freedom and consciousness. I was participating and 'being.' I finally connected to the man upstairs who had the long white beard embellishing the clouds. I was the happiest child in the world.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Sherry M. Joiner. I am an author and an oil artist. I also lecture in the Portland-area hospital inpatient psychiatric wards-sharing hope, meditation, and resources for when patients leave the hospital-and a trained "In Our Own Voice" speaker for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). I deliver a message to those who struggle with psychosis, hallucinations, paranoia, mania, and depression. Never give up hope. Recently I was interviewed "Live' on KBOO Community Radio, Portland, Oregon for my book Sherry Goes Sane: Living A Life With Schizo-Affective Disorder. My book can be found on Amazon, Create Space, paper back or Kindle and through Barnes & Noble, Powell's Books or Central Library downtown Portland, Oregon.