Posted by: michelle2005 | January 2, 2009

“Why Do You Have THAT in Your Purse?!”


We all without exception have at one time or another formed an opinion regarding an individual based on assumption.  Of course, I include myself in this.  However, there is a particular thing that has caused folks to think I’m different based on something I’ve carried on my person (when it was safe to do so) for as long as I can remember.



I carry a small leather copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.  (This is combined and not two separate booklets)  This measures 4.25” X 3”.  I also carry a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  This is made of heavy paper and measures slightly smaller than the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. 


My copy of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States is burgundy leather with gold stamped letters.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is dark blue in color with white writing.  Both are beyond well worn.



The other thing I carry in my purse is a crayon.  There have been an assortment of colors over the years…but I usually have a blue one.  The only reason for this is simple…this is my favorite color.


I mentioned that I carried this with me at all time…when it was safe.  Living overseas in so many different nations…caused carrying these documents dangerous within the borders of some countries.   I was a Humanitarian Aid Relief Coordinator and Educator for First Responders.  It was not my job to bring politics or religion…it was my responsibility to bring relief to the suffering into the places I was sent.   There are many things I wish I hadn’t seen…yet, these are the very things that my heart will never relinquish.



Carrying these documents allowed me to feel connected to the nation of my birth…the United States of America.  It was a constant reminder that in spite of what I was witnessing…I was a citizen of the most amazing nation on earth.  You may be wondering… why carry a crayon.



The only reason I carried a crayon…was due to its scent.  It was familiar…comfortable.  Above all else, it made me feel safe!  In the midst of bombing, machine gun fire, the discovery of mass graves, refugee camps, swollen tummies due to malnutrition and war…I had that crayon.  It helped me stay focused in spite of what was going on around me.



Therefore, the next time you are tempted to think someone odd or strange…because they do something differently than you…I am hoping you remember what I have just written.  Give that person the benefit of the doubt…they just may have a logical reason their behavior. 








I’ve written this post as a direct answer to a multitude of questions I’ve been asked over the last six months.  It’s been difficult to respond to some questions…since its been hard to put into words the reason behind me carrying certain items in my purse. 










  1. i read everything you write including your work in the ny times. if i saw these things in your purse i’d ask why. after getting to know you through your writing it would be obvious there would be a good reason for the way you think.

    thank you for helping some of the rest of us not feel so silly. you’re the real deal.

  2. It’s is always a good idea to have reminders of home as a comfort. This is especially true for someone of your caliber who have been faced with many challenges throughout your life.

    We truly do live in the “most amazing nation on the earth”. All it takes is too travel abroad to see the difference.

    That said it is always nice to read your words.
    you put a fresh perspective on the world around us. I look forward to reading each and every blog entry.

  3. You couldn’t carry finer items! My wish is that those who lead us, right and left, would do the same, and as they make those decisions that impact us, they’d take the time to consult them more frequently. But then, what do I know. Need a laugh? I have a different way of looking at what you humans call New Year’s resolutions. Visit me at to get another viewpoint on those resolutions…and a champaign bottle full of laughs.

  4. I am a constant reader of your post Michelle, and as usual you are a very vivid and wonderful writer. You should right a book…lol. Happy New Year to you and your family!

  5. Even your purse is interesting. How can that be? I don’t carry purses and never have – but have always (since childhood) enjoyed seeing the contents of someone’s purse. As an adult, I can’t ask…but thanks for emptying yours. The blue crayon showed a part of you that is still innocent. That was quite a revelation. (reads coffee table psychology and comics). Thank you very much for sharing.

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