One year ago, Mercedez Lucky's life looked pretty from the outside. She lived in a beautiful house, drove a nice car and attended school at Apollo College. But on the inside, Lucky was barely holding on to life itself.
Now as a domestic violence survivor, Lucky remembers the days when she cowered on the kitchen floor after being thrown into the refrigerator. She remembers being called a bitch. And she remembers being bitten--twice.
"I lost the ability to make sense of what was really going on," she says. "I was literally devastated by things. I had no control over my life. I felt miserable every day."
Three days after she was bitten, she lost control of her vehicle on a muddy road and rolled her car five times. She emerged from the wreck a changed woman. Her mental devastation transformed into a desire to assist others.
Since September, Lucky has strived to "help people help themselves" as host of the Team CST (connecting spirit together) radio show on The Jolt (KJLL 1330 AM). The one-hour program airs at 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
The idea for the show came about after a discussion with her friend Erin Kantola. Both wished to be of assistance to others. Lucky came up with the idea of the show and was on the air with Kantola a mere three weeks later. Lucky has previous radio and DJ experience.
A second co-host named Cori Bracket joins Lucky and Kantola to interview guests and take listener phone calls. Guests have included an author, astrologer, therapist and acupuncturist.
Lucky and her team want to "help people discover new ways of thinking, feeling and finding their joy even through sadness." They focus on themes including abuse, holistic health, depression, empowerment and spiritual enlightenment.
I observed a taping of the show recently and watched Lucky and Kantola in action. Gathered in a small room at The Jolt's midtown studio, the two women interviewed author Sharine Love about her book From Baggage to Bliss.
As listeners phoned in for advice, there were a lot of smiles and feel-good moments. Lucky and Kantola beamed and exclaimed "Yeah!" when callers expressed thanks and appreciation for the show. In those moments, the team scored some touchdowns.
But there are some obstacles to overcome. The show needs additional sponsors. Lucky is financing the show with income earned as a licensed massage therapist. She has faith in a positive future and says, "I think if you do something for the right reason, it makes its way."
Part of that future includes releasing her third CD, Flying Solo. Lucky sings and plays the guitar. Her songs are acoustic with lyrics about abuse, God and inspirational themes.
During my interview with Lucky, she sang a few bars of the title track. Now more than a week later, I can still hear her singing voice in my mind--a mixture of country twang, grit and soul: I'm tired of bein' beaten
So tired of bein' cheated.
I'm tired of being hurt by men
I'm tired of bein' put down.
So tired of bein' pushed round
It's time to get myself back up off the ground. As she sang her song, I marveled at how this woman's hand went from shielding her face to writing these lyrics, all under a year's time. What caused the transformation?
Lucky credits a good counselor, her local church and four friends who helped her to leave her abuser after six years. But she says the biggest thanks goes to God.
"I'll stand up on a mountain top and say it's not because of a person. It's because something bigger is helping me."
Lucky is turning her divine assistance outward by helping others on her radio show.
"I'm betting that people will hear it and listen," she says. "Not everyone will listen, but that's OK. But you know what, even if one little thing opens up for one person and they change and get help, that's a good thing."
Lucky's theme of helping people help themselves is especially appropriate in today's troubled times. As many wait for government bailouts and a presidential savior, maybe it's time to look in the mirror instead. What can we do to help ourselves and our neighbors?
Lucky is one woman who literally got up off the ground and turned her life around without waiting for someone to do it for her. Faith and the desire to help made the difference. That sounds like a good plan for the rest of us.