At the End of the Day…

So many people are focused on their “to-do” list. They rush through their days, weeks, months, just trying to check as much of that dang list as they possibly can. They want to feel they have accomplished things.

I used to envy those folks. Their ambition, their drive, the way they could run here and there all day long and just get so much done!

My life has changed in so many, many ways in the past few years…okay, decades. I have dreams. I have goals. I have an “idea” of a “to-do” list. But, after all the loss, all the pain and all the surviving I have had to do, I know what is truly important to me each and every day.

My “to-do” list is so very different now. Yes, I have the same things many folks have on theirs, wash clothes, go to the grocery store etc., but those kinds of things will always be here. The list may get longer or shorter, but it’s all just the things we need to do in life.

But what would happen if today was my last day? Would I care if the dishes were done, the clothes washed, the milk picked up? No…

As I sit here watching the sun set on another day, another day I will never have again…I ask myself these simple questions…

Did I make someone else’s day better today? Did I offer a hand, an ear, a shoulder? Did I make them smile or ease their burden a little?

Did I have enough to eat?

Did I laugh?

Did I tell someone I love them?

Did I give something of myself to this world today?

Yes, I did get my laundry done, the groceries bought, the house cleaned up, but at the end of this day, the only day that matters…did I “do” the things that really matter? I believe I did.

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“You Shouldn’t Tell People You Were Homeless…”

Should I be ashamed of the fact that I was homeless?

I have never been ashamed of it. It is what it is. It happened.

The apartment complex I live in had a pool party for the residents today. It was a wonderful, hot, sunny, South Georgia day. I mixed and mingled with old friends and met some neighbors I hadn’t known before. It was nice.

In the midst of one conversation with the guy who recently moved into my building, he says, “You know, you shouldn’t tell people that you were homeless”.  I’m sure my face showed my befuddlement as I replied, “Why not”?

I didn’t need an answer from him. I know the stigma attached to the word “homeless”. I know the thoughts that run through people’s minds, the judgment that will be there. But, the fact is, I don’t care what others think. I am NOT ashamed of what I have been through, and I don’t hide it. It is a part of my life now, another part of my journey.

When the question came up in our conversation of “how did you come to live here”? Well, was I supposed to make something up? This is my truth. This is my story, and I refuse to be ashamed of any part of it.

I have dealt with so much pain, so much loss and so much judgment in the past year of my life. I don’t want pity, I don’t need sympathy, but I refuse to not ever talk about it. My “pride” was flushed down the toilet when I had to start asking people for help…when I set up a GoFundMe site to keep food in my belly and a motel room to sleep in…when I had to accept money from virtual strangers from all over the world. And you know what? Thank God I was able to put my pride aside and let people know what I was going through, that I needed help! I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t told… if I hadn’t asked.

There were enough people being “ashamed” for me. Those closest to me, those who didn’t call, didn’t offer to help. They held enough shame that I didn’t have time for. I had to do all I could to just survive another day.

Now that I’ve come through, now that I can wake each day in this lovely place, safe and fed, surrounded by new friends and a new life, I have no place for shame. I will continue to tell my story, not to elicit a dramatic reaction or worse, pity…but because I KNOW that someone will hear this and they will be comforted by it. They will know that you can be down at the bottom and still rise up, that you can lose everything you thought was important, and find out that your soul, your determination and your compassion for others are the only “things” that truly matter. You can come back from anything.

I will forever be grateful for the kind souls who were there for me when I was homeless. I forgive those who chose not to be there for me, and most of all, I will NEVER be ashamed of, or afraid to tell my story. It is mine…And, as someone once said, “What others think of me is none of my business”.

Just my thought for today. Maybe I can get a tee-shirt made that says, “Formerly Homeless”…I would wear it proudly.

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Warm, Sunny, and Graduation!

It is a beautiful day here in South Georgia. We are up to almost 80 degrees already. The sun is shining, and the breezes are just poetic.

I have been so busy for the past two months. I completed the employment training program with The Star Foundation, and today is our graduation ceremony! I am so amazed at myself. Eight months ago, homeless and sitting with nothing, I would never have imagined I could do something like this. I have learned new skills, Word, Excel…but, what Star really taught me is that I can do anything.

I CAN get up early every morning, go to school, study two hours a night, and pass all of my exams! (with an “A” even).

I am still attending classes two nights a week to get ready to take the GED. I have taken three of the four practice tests and have passed them all! Math is the proverbial thorn in my side, but it won’t stop me. I will do this too.

I also got a job with a local clothing store and am waiting to be put on the schedule to start. I am continuing to press toward a “career” and not just a job. I am considering going to college after I get my diploma.

The possibilities seem endless. I can create my life now…and make it anything I wish it to be. This rocks!

Sorry for the lack of posts, but I have been truly focused on improving myself. Hopefully, I will have more time to write and take some photographs once my schedule relaxes a bit. I love and miss you all so much!

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Five Months and Light Years Away From Homeless…

Who was that woman in the motel room? The one who felt alone and hopeless, the one who was so scared for her unknown future? Could that have been me? I think it was, but the memory is fading…buried beneath a mound of new life, behind a fog of happiness.

I finished my first week of school with an “A” on my first test, and a new, broader vision of my future. It has been a struggle to settle into the new routine, but even the exhaustion I feel is “good”!

I am loving my class and coming home to do homework every night. I thought that the introductory part of the program would be boring, but I am learning so much every day. I wake each morning excited and happy to have my tea and dress for class. It’s too cool.

I am also starting classes at the end of February to take my GED! Yes, fifty-four years young and finally going to get my high school diploma. With that in hand and my new computer skills, my job prospects will be multiplied a hundred times over. I am also looking into some business courses at the community college.

Did I really just write that? When I first got my housing and started job hunting, all I really wanted was to get back in retail…get just a “regular” job. Now, since starting these new learning programs I am actually thinking I want a career. I want to do something that stimulates me, that makes me as anxious and excited about my work as I have been about going to school. Look out world! No stopping me now!

I’d forgotten how much I loved learning.

I’ve decided I want to become an Administrative Assistant, with added training in Accounting etc. to prepare me for whatever company I may approach for employment. I enjoy typing and organizing, and look forward to learning Word and Excel in my present class.

The future is bright and wide here in “Kimville”…I never dreamed it could be this way.

Peace, Love and Hugs!

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Before I Was Homeless…A Short Drive and a Big Epiphany

My first day of school was so great! I love my instructor and my classmates, and I was so into just being in a learning environment again. I had thought that the “basics” would be totally boring, but alas, like any good scholar (who has a good teacher), I came away knowing things I hadn’t when I walked into class. I never thought I would be back in school at 54 years old! I’m so grateful I got this opportunity.

I even stayed after class and put in some of my mandatory lab time…I just didn’t want to leave!

Anyway…When I was finally able to tear myself away from my desk…I got in my car, opened the sun roof and cranked up the tunes. The sun was beaming down on my face…the breeze, with just a touch of salt, was wafting through the car…It was pure joy.

I turned down Fourth Street and passed through my old neighborhood…taking me past the house that is no longer mine, with the husband and dogs that are no longer there, past my old life…and you know what? I did not feel a bit of regret! Nope, not one bit. You know why? Because as I drove past all I thought of was the lonely, sad, defeated, hopeless woman who used to live there…and she is no longer there…Nope. Here she was, driving home from school, heading to her new apartment…THIS IS MY LIFE! Oh my gosh…I can’t really convey on the page what this felt like… I started to tear up with joy.

I mean, just a little over six months ago I was sitting in that house alone and scared. My husband had just left that day, and I had taken my sweet dogs to the shelter. I got back to that little house that last day, scared and not knowing what was to come. I didn’t know what I would do with all the belongings in that house. I had no idea where I would go two days later when the eviction notice took effect. I sat down and decided to order Chinese food…I mean, come on…it’s not like the $20 was going to get me a place to stay, right?  I was beyond exhausted by all the loss, pain and worry. I decided for just that night to eat Chinese food and watch my favorite shows in my little house one last time. I decided to just “be”.

As I finished what I now refer to as “The Last Supper Before Homeless”…I took the fortune cookie in my hand and prayed…I prayed for everything I had lost, and everything that I knew nothing about…where I would go, where would I live, what would happen to me along the way?…When I finished praying, I opened the cookie and this is what I found…

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I had no idea at that point what my future would bring, or all that I would have to face…but, it was that little ray of hope I needed to just keep going, to take the next step…So, I took that little fortune and taped it to the front of my laptop…it is still there. And look where I am now.

I would never have imagined that all that loss would turn into all this gain, all this happiness, and honestly, there are still five months left to this “current year”. Who knows what else in in store? Now that I have made it over all the loss…survived being homeless, gotten a wonderful new place to live, new friends who care so much about me…and now, a chance to go to school…I am sitting here tonight in what can only be called “BLISS”. I have more than enough food, enough love, safety, warmth…and best of all…more hope than ever before. What can I say…I am blessed.