My Wall of Joy and Christmas Spirit…

I just took an updated photograph of my wall of birthday and Christmas cards.

It’s funny cause I felt kind of “needy” asking folks to send me cards, but I’m so glad that I didn’t let pride stand in my way. This month of rushing to check the mail, and then opening all of these beautiful cards and gifts has made me so happy, and left me feeling blessed. I have not received this many cards in the past decade, never mind in one December!!! I am beyond blessed…I am joyful…I feel the spirit I was searching for, and it’s all because of you.

Forgive me if I don’t than each of you individually, but they have been coming so fast. Just know that each and every one of them is very, very special to me…Thank you…Hugs and much love to ya’ll!

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Excited to check the mail! That’s new!

If you read my last post you know that I asked if folks could send me either a birthday or holiday card.

I get so lonely this time of year and needed to feel some Christmas spirit and not be forgotten on my birthday. Yesterday was kinda sad, it’s was the anniversary of my mother’s passing…so yeah.

So far I have received one Christmas card and one birthday card!! This is so cool. I was like a little kid when I opened the mail today and there was a card from someone I have never met…thank you stranger. Hugs.

This is my tree, and the wall behind it is for the cards I receive…There is only one because I took the photo before today’s card arrived. I will post follow ups as the wall fills up!

Again, thank you so much for caring and for being here for me….Love ya’ll…Kim

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There is no Christmas spirit here…

This time of year is always a bit rough for me.

I lost both my mother and my father in December.

My birthday is coming up and I haven’t had a birthday celebration of any kind since I was ten years old. No one has bothered.

On top of all the facts, my depression has kicked into full gear. The “I feel invisible” kind of depression. The kind of depression that makes it hard to breathe, to speak…to do anything…Am I even here?

I miss my parents, my kids and my grandchildren so badly.

I want lights and decorations and a tree…I want to be able to shop for my grands..to send presents. Better yet, I want us all to be together. I want it to matter to them that I can’t be there…I’m not sure that it does.

I want to put up my little tree, put on some Christmas music and force the feeling to come…but I don’t think that it will.

So, I am going to make a rather odd request. A request that will sound strange maybe…but, I don’t care. I’m wondering if ya’ll would be willing to send me a Christmas card?

I know that I sound so pathetic right now..but, I just want SOMEONE to wish me a Merry Christmas (Happy Holidays)…I need encouragement so much right now. I am even going to post my address on here…because honestly? What does it matter if half the world knows where I live???

Kim Hood

3901 Darien Hwy Apt D31

Brunswick, Ga. 31525

Panhandling, Surviving and Perspective….

I am still waiting to get approved for disability and it sucks. I have a place to live and less than $200 a month in food stamps, but no income. I have a dear friend who pays the important stuff for me…car insurance, internet, meds etc. I don’t know what I would do without that help. However, there are times when I wish I just had money in my pocket…not for luxuries, okay, maybe to just see a movie or something if I wanted. But, everything is about “survival” and “necessities” …there is no fun.

To make up for this I occasionally go out and panhandle.

So, Sunday I went out very early to panhandle. Now, just to be clear…I don’t beg. I simply stand on a corner with my sign that says, “Need Help. Please show some love. Bless you”. It is a humiliating and ego crushing thing to do, but I have learned this past two years that ego is bullshit.

Anyway, I stood out there with my sign for about 3 hours and did fairly well. It felt good. People were feeling generous… Well, except for the one lady who pulled over to roll down her window, dressed in her Sunday best, her bible on the seat and berated me for asking for help with a cigarette in my hand. (I quoted Matthew 27:1 and told her “God bless you”).

So…having stashed the money I collected in a can when I got home,  and feeling some sense of security about it, I decided to go out again yesterday afternoon.

I was only out there for about an hour, and it was going so well. One young man even went across to Dollar General and came back with toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and other essentials for me. (Can’t get those things with Food Stamps). I planned on staying just long enough to add to my “stash” at home and put some gas in my car.

That is when the cop showed up. He pulled up and I approached his car…I don’t recall the entire conversation, but he tried to tell me that I couldn’t be out there doing that. That it is illegal here. Well, I’ve read the code and I was doing nothing illegal. As long as I am not impeding auto or pedestrian traffic…and I am not directly asking for money, I am not breaking the law. Mr. BigCop though said that he was doing me a “favor” by not arresting me. REALLY???

I came home so upset, feeling like now my ONLY way of getting any cash has been taken away. I cried…I cursed the cop…I cursed SS for taking so damn long…I cursed my ex for leaving me the way he did.

I was so upset I didn’t sleep last night. At 7 this morning I decided to take my dog Penny with me to McDonald’s, then go to Overlook park to share breakfast with her.

When we got there I noticed a man sleeping on a bench, his worldly belongings at his feet, his body curled up against the cool, damp air.

As we got ready to leave I grabbed a couple of the dollars I made panhandling yesterday, and walked over to the sleeping man. He woke surprised that I was standing there…even more surprised when I asked if he had eaten today. There was not ONE bit of judgement from me as I smelled the alcohol on him. I felt compassion and sorrow for him. He tried to refuse my offer…but I was more stubborn than he.

I gave him the money and the few cigs I had on me…and asked him if I could pray with him. We both cried as I prayed for both of us…

I sat of the ground and we talked for a bit. I told him about some of the resources I know so well, and asked him to come with me to a day center where he could wash up and get out of the damp, cloudy day.  He didn’t want to go at first. He was at his lowest…didn’t care what happened to himself he told me. I did not give up on him and he finally gave in. As I dropped him at the center I gave him a huge hug, and my phone number ….more than anything…I pray that I gave him some hope.

I know what it is like to feel hopeless, helpless…like no one cares. I wanted him to know that there ARE people who care and that we can all do something to help…without judgement, but with compassion and a hug.

I came home to my little apartment, looked at the food in my fridge and my warm bed…and I quickly got over my anger and frustration of all that happened yesterday.

I only wish I could do more for him or someone else. I’ll be okay…God’s got this.

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No Looking Back…A New Year…

I’ve pondered this post all morning. I have read many posts reflecting on and reviewing the past year (looking back), and many more on looking forward, people making resolutions and plans for the new year.

Looking back, or reviewing my past year, well, let’s admit, it wouldn’t be pleasant. I am only going to take the wisdom I gathered from that time, tuck it into my heart and carry it with me. Looking forward is wonderful, though I think that resolutions are just an unnecessary  pressure we put on ourselves. I’m not against planning on making improvements to ourselves or aiming for accomplishments, but the greatest gift I received from this past year, was a new way of looking at “time”. Time is an illusion…but, that is another post.

Whether we spend time reviewing the past year or planning for the coming year…we are using up the most precious moments of “now”.  Yesterday is done, tomorrow not promised. So, I will not look backward nor forward today…I will only look around me. THIS is the moment I have to spend…right now. I don’t want to lose it by pondering any other.

Wishing you all a wonderful, exciting and prosperous New Year…but don’t forget to just “be” in this day. The rest will come (hopefully), whether we plan it or not.

A photo I took while enjoying my tea this morning, and once again feeling so incredibly blessed with my life…

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Something I Had Forgotten…

I was looking through my facebook notes just now and found this…it was written about a week before I started this blog and more than a year before I actually became homeless. I hadn’t realized how long I had been struggling. (Of course I KNEW on some level, just never saw the dates)

*THE MANY PAINS OF POVERTY*  October 17, 2013

I see so many different forms of poverty every day, and experience many aspects of it myself. The pain caused by poverty is mostly hidden, felt inside the person experiencing it daily.

There is the physical pain of hunger. This is not always caused by not having food to eat, but many times just skipping meals to make what is in the cupboard last longer. There is also the pain of walking through a grocery store and seeing all the things you wish you could buy, but you stay focused on your list, on the essentials, and you smile at the people you pass…so they can’t see. You smile again when, even though you did the math so carefully, you see the total at check out and realize the package of chicken you picked up has put you over the $10 you have in your wallet. You smile as you ask the cashier to take it off the list, you smile at the customers behind you and play it off like you just forgot to take some more money out of the atm, or left your card at home. You pretend it’s all just fine, until you are safely out of the store, and then you cry when you get in your car, where no one sees. Food banks are always a resource, but you can’t get milk, butter, meat, vegetables or any other fresh food.

Then there is the pain of being physically ill, and knowing that even if you go to the ER, (your only option with no money  or insurance), that they will run tests you can’t afford, give you prescriptions you will never fill, and tell you to see your primary for follow up, which you are unable to do either, so you just don’t go. I knew I had skin cancer for over a year before I found treatment where I could make payments, and even then, was unable to pay all of it after the surgery. Even now, I need follow ups that I just can’t afford to go to yet. The “free” clinics are full, and even if you can get in, if you or your spouse work they will say you don’t qualify, same with medicaid.

I can’t even begin to describe the most recent pain of missing my daughter’s wedding…something I can never get back, and can’t even write about…the pain is still too raw.

The worst pain of all is having to deal with the shame and embarrassment. No one wants to ask for help from friends and family. No one wants to admit that they can’t pay their own bills or buy food. Being judged, made to feel like you are to blame for your poverty is what I will never understand. Life is hard, and no matter how hard you try, you can get thrown. I have some wonderful people in my life who have helped us, some of them many times over, without me ever having to ask, and I am so grateful, and beyond blessed. My husband and I have had some very rough times the past few years, gotten a bit better, and then traveled back down to the “what shall we do now” hell of poverty. My most recent endeavor, starting the fund raising post was not easy for me to do. I am embarrassed, and feel shame constantly, but I had to do something. Losing your pride is also very painful, but necessary to survive poverty. I guess I just don’t want to feel judged anymore, because unless you have been where I have been, you have no true understanding, and thus are in no place to judge. I pray no one ever has to feel this way, that everyone I know, and don’t know will always be blessed. A roof over your head, enough food to eat, bills paid, time to enjoy life instead of living every day wondering if it will all be alright. I try to keep my eyes on God, and my trust in Him…but, it’s not always easy. On this day I have food, a roof, a bed to lay down on, my dogs to keep me company, and a husband working 1200 miles away…the bills are tucked away in a drawer, not seen, but I know they are there…like my shame, my fear, and my poverty.

Oh, and just a last word. I don’t want your pity, and I don’t need your judgement. I wrote this to hopefully find some understanding and empathy…because in the end, that is what we all need most.

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