Sunday, September 18, 2011


This is one of my favorite portraits of my son Jesse, and believe it or not it was taken with a Kodak point and shoot. I used to carry that Kodak Z740 everywhere and made quite a pest of myself on my college campus, before upgrading to a Nikon D50. Then I continued my photographical reign of terror with a zoom lens and a safer distance. = )

Today is my son’s birthday. He turned 24. He lives with his fiancĂ© and his son in my home town where I am going to be moving in the next month or two and I am looking forward to more family time with them. I remember the day he was born so well. My ex husband and his mom went into the labor room with me and I was experiencing more pain than I have in my entire life. Despite that, like they say, you forget all about it when you are holding that little baby in your arms. Childbirth is a great testimony to the power of love and joy that washes over your traumatized worn out body, and fills it full of peace and hope for the little future you hold in your hands.

Jesse has grown into a beautiful compassionate man who has artistic aspirations of his own and I am still flooded with the joy and the love I felt on day one.
Happy Birthday Baby!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Two Windows

Two Windows
Through two windows of this little pink house
shined a light that once only burned for him
But past the pain, past the tears
past regret of wasted years
Her light begins to shine once again
Only this time it’s for herself

Sunday, September 11, 2011

United We Fall and Then We Get Back Up

"If my glass looks half empty, it is only because I've been blessed with the opportunity to share half of its contents with someone who was thirsty." Maria R. Palacios 
When I was first married to my husband we moved to an apartment complex where I met two women who changed my life completely. We were all three survivors of abuse of various degrees. One of us was molested and controlled; one of us was brutally raped at gunpoint, and the other abused, neglected, and was forced to live with the man, whom she is certain killed her mother. Not only were the three of us survivors but we all used creative writing to cope and to work through the healing process. Our real healing didn’t really begin individually until we joined together and became friends. Together we supported each other; we drank coffee, buried ourselves in self-help and psychology books and shared our poetic journals. I gained strength that I never knew I could have again and while my experiences will always be a part of who I have become; I have reached a place of peace. In healing, the beautiful compassion for other people rose out of the ashes.

When 911 happened I was getting ready for work and my husband yelled for me to come to the TV. At first I thought it was a movie, then, as I was trying to wrap my head around the idea of a plane accidently crashing into the towers, the second plane hit. I realized that we were under attack. I wanted to keep my daughter home from school and stay home from work, cuddled, safe and sound in our home. That did not happen. We had to go on and keep functioning and take care of our responsibilities; at least, that is what my supervisor convinced me of when I called in. I know what you are thinking… “Etha, are you seriously going to draw comparisons from personal tragedy to a national one?” The short answer is yes. I hope you bear with me as I tie it all together.

The Seven Stages of Healing - I want to preface this by saying that going through these stages is a loose journey. You will have revelations that progress you in some areas, and trip on triggers that will cause you to regress in others.

1. Shock and denial, an attempt to avoid pain by denying the loss – This is your mind trying to wrap its head around what has happened. It is hard to contemplate the evil that one or a group of people can do. I personally do not believe that people are in essence evil but broken or defective, but that is another subject.

2. Pain and guilt, a period of devastating pain and feelings that life is out of control.

3. Anger and bargaining – This is a reaction to the events after the reality of them sets in. Anger can be used as motivation if it is channeled as strength and motivation to make changes.The down side is if it is allowed to fester it can be very destructive.  Turned inward it can turn to self loathing and become destructive from the inside out; like over eating, sleeping around, drug and alcohol addictions or it can be externalized and breed prejudice and hate to the point of violence toward another human being.

This was the perfect time to provoke a war and get the country involved with very little question. I do not state this to revive any conspiracy theories around the war. I am simply demonstrating how the psychological state of the country allowed the government to move so quickly.

4. Depression and loneliness, or a period of reflection – This is the point that you realize you have to let go of what is gone and continue. Life goes on.

5. Upward turn, when the person begins to adjust to the loss and begins new routines and starts to envision life after.

6. Reconstruction – Finding a way to memorialize or pay tribute. John Walsh did this after his son was brutally murdered by creating America’s Most Wanted.

7. Acceptance – Learning the valuable lessons of the experience and keeping what is useful and discarding what is not. This is the place where inner peace is born. Tragedy and loss is not something that can ever really be forgotten nor should it be but eventually in order to really be healed you have to give yourself permission to be happy.

Like the various degrees of trauma my friends and I faced, we as American’s share the trauma of 911. The trauma that people suffered at ground zero is far deeper than the onlookers nationwide. Some of us lost family members while others simply watched on TV in their homes. But we all were affected that day and it is not a day we will ever forget.

I learned by both experiences that Americans are amazing. They are resilient and strong and in the face of darkness they can pull together and embrace one another, support one another and build each other up. Sharing the commonality of 911 as a country strengthens and binds us. It has given us the opportunity to learn the lessons of that day so that we can use that wisdom in our daily lives and pass them down to our children. We have the opportunity to pay homage to all those that were lost that day by living the best way that we can and grow into a new America, a stronger America and a more UNITED America than ever before and we can celebrate our half empty glass by knowing that we can provide for those who thirst.

But this… This is just my Wheelchair View.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Jesi’s Ghost

Jesi's Ghost - By Etha Walters

Winston Churchill said “When you are going through hell, keep going.”
He said this with the certainty that if we did keep going, we would come out on the other side. However, that doesn’t mean that we will come out unscathed or not have to shed a few layers, to leave part of ourselves behind. Life is a series of deaths and rebirths. It’s no wonder that religious foundations are built on concepts like reincarnation and being “born again.”

No one that I know understands this better than my friend Jesi pictured above. Inspiration for “Jesi’s Ghost” came from her life and the times she has walked through hell. Her mother was murdered when she was young, she was a victim of abuse and neglect, the father of her oldest child committed suicide and still Jesi kept going. If I could alter Webster’s I would put Jesi’s picture beside resilience. Living through one thing would be horrific enough but Jesi has kept going grabbing the wisdom that comes from the experiences along the way. She has gone on to college majoring in Applied Psychology and her only addictions are cigarettes and caffeine. She has also gone on to start the website True Emotions themed on the premise that you are never alone. There is always someone out there who can relate to whatever you are going through.

Jesi’s Ghost represents the darkness and it is not to dwell in the dark places or the metaphorical deaths but it is about the life that comes after.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Apartment Hunting on Wheels

It has become a long term goal to move to Cincinnati, Ohio from my small town of Hamilton, Ohio for quite some time. The reasons are countless, more accessibility in housing, transportation and jobs, as well as more opportunity to show and sell my artwork. My husband and I are going through a separation so I thought that this is the moment to make the big move happen. One more leap of faith into the middle of great hope and humble dreams.

Here in Hamilton there are few resources for the kind of independence that a big city has to offer, but moving further away from family and into the arms of friends that I haven’t even made yet is both scary and exciting. However, I know if I do not make the effort and take the risk I will regret it. With every goal comes effort and resilience. I must keep a determination to go knock on the next door when the one I have been beating on closes. Sometimes I feel like I am just having a staring contest with a teddy bear and it is inevitable that I will be the one to blink; but that kind of negativity has got to be shaken off and persistence has to take its place.

I am looking for a two bedroom apartment for me, my daughter, and her boyfriend. It must be accessible and it MUST be on the bus line. This doesn’t sound like it should be an issue right? Lots of places have ground floor apartments or elevators and 2 bedrooms are the most commonly rented. Did you know, that in Cincinnati there are high rises that have all accessibility with elevators, wide doorways for wheelchairs, shower bars in the bathrooms, and call buttons on a string in case there is a fall? There is even a garbage shoot so you don’t have to worry about taking out the trash. How cool is that?! These complexes are also on bus lines and have shuttle service. They are perfect…except, they are one bedroom and do not allow children.

I am not saying that there is not something out there that has all of that and accepts families too. I am just saying I haven’t found it yet. But I will. Accessibility for me is a flat entrance and a shower bar on the bus line. This simple but complex problem is one of many people with disabilities and when I started this I did not realize what a learning experience it was going to be.

I have learned of many disabled people that stay in relationships that are not working because they feel they have no place to go. While I have no intensions of plastering my marriage drama on the internet, I felt I had to write my experience to encourage and to stress to those that are in unhappy situations that there are resources out there. You just have to find them. I have learned by my past experience that in order to receive a hand you must first reach out your own. We get so caught up in chasing our independence sometimes that we forget that there are times when everyone needs help. “Help us, help ourselves” It should be plastered on every wheelchair in America.

So I am in search of, this might lead me straight to Cincinnati, or it might lead me back to my hometown for a while where my family is to lick my wounds and regain my momentum I don’t know. I hope you’ll stay tuned to find out. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Neglected but NOT Abandoned

Park Bench Secrets by Etha Walters
First post of the New Year and I of course have many resolutions to achieve in 2011 which included a new commitment to my blogs. 2010 was a tuff year with financial hardships that resulted in having to sell some of my photography equipment just to get by. There was also an assault on my daughter that changed her life and ours. So we were glad to see the promise of change in a new year.

In November, I started working at JC Penny. I am working as a greeter. It is a far cry from my profession and I had to choke down some pride in regards to stereo-types, but I am really glad that I did. The people that I work with are amazing, it is like entering a close nit family and I was a long lost cousin. The customers are awesome too. Every day I talk to someone new and I get something out of every conversation. I get told stories, jokes and people share little pieces of their life with me. I find myself feeling very blessed and inspired, creating photographs in my mind. I can’t wait to get back out on a shoot and put this experience, this inspiration into practice. This job is also flexible allowing me the time to indulge in my photography while I climb out of this financial hole. Soon, I’ll have my bills paid up and I will be able to start buying back what I have lost (a good excuse to upgrade = ) )

I don’t really think about how much easier my life would be without a disability. I have received too many gifts that I would not have without it. I see able-bodied folks struggle every bit as much. Life is a roller-coaster ride regardless. You just have to take the downs with the ups and hang on for the loop-de-loops.
Pictured above is “Park Bench Secrets.” This was taken at Cox Arboretum in Dayton Ohio. I shot it with my trusty Nikon D70 at 160mm, F/5.3, 1/500 sec.
Well that does it for my Neglected but NOT Forgotten post. I will be writing again soon.

Hope all is well in your world!