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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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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Being Homeless Gave Me My Life Back…Better Than Before!

Wow, I can barely believe the title of this post.

A few months, or even a year ago, I could not have imagined my life as it is today.

The years before I became homeless were not happy ones. My marriage had become more of a “roommate” relationship, and our constant financial struggle filled my days with stress and anxiety. I was so unhappy. But, this post is not about my marriage or my life before homeless. This post is about my life today, a life I had only dreamed about…a happy life.

Being homeless was probably the toughest thing I have ever had to go through, and yet, that is the key right there…going THROUGH, and coming out the other side. I am happier, healthier, stronger..and I feel more loved than ever.

You see… I realized this past year just how many people truly care about me. Old friends, new friends, friends I only know on the other side of this screen. These people have cried with me, rejoiced with me, comforted me with their words, prayers, finances and hugs. I could not possibly express how grateful and humbled I am with this realization. I AM LOVED. Wow.

The beginning of this new year has brought new hope and new joys. My bucket list got a big check mark on January second when I went horseback riding on the beach…a dream I have had forever! (bad photos from a phone)

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That day was just beyond awesome. My horse, Dancer, was a little four year old filly and so much fun to ride! I can’t believe I finally got to ride a horse with the ocean lapping at her hooves…the salt air blowing my hair…awesome!

I have met so many new people who have fast become friends…I started going to karaoke again, remembering what it feels like to get up on stage and sing my heart out. It feels as if I have been reborn. Everything is new and exciting.

I am praying to hear about a job by Monday. Please pray, light a candle or whatever you do to send good vibes my way. Having a job, and my own income will be just one more piece of the puzzle in my new life. How cool is all of this? LOL…Yes, I just used an LOL…My face hurts from smiling.

I went to see my Med Doc this week, and he was amazed with how well I am feeling. He cut my meds down, with the goal of my being med free by the end of the year. I am happy about that too.

While most of the country is freezing, it was 63 here today. I stepped out on my balcony to take this shot.

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I am blessed…and so incredibly grateful. Thank you Lord!

Homeless Day 28…Just One More Step to Safe!

Praise the Lord!!! I have found a place to go where I will be safe and cared for…I just need a little help to make it these next few days. I won’t get into all of the details yet, but I need only raise enough now for two more nights at the motel (Thursday and Friday). Then, I need money for gas and food…the total to get me from homeless to safe will be about $150 total. I know I have asked and received so much help from all of you already…but, this should be the last time I will need help to get out of this situation. If I can find just 15 people to donate $10 I will be HOME SAFE! WOOOOOOT! Please, if you have already donated this month, just sharing the link for my funding site should help me to reach this final goal…thank you thank you thank you!

http://www.gofundme.com/58zqnw

I am smiling and breathing for the first time since this nightmare began. I am beyond grateful to God and all of you amazing people in my wordpress family for giving me strength and encouragement through your words and actions…I pray every day that I may be there for you also…to warm your hearts as you have done for me…I love you.

Do a happy dance with me!! ()()()())))))*)))))))

"Trees in the Morning Mist"

“Trees in the Morning Mist”

And Blessed We Are…Thank You!

Thank you to all who have fought, died, and served this great country, so that we could have the freedom to enjoy this day!

 

Thank you Lord for all you have given us, for loving us beyond what any of us could imagine.

Thank you Dad…I miss you so much!

Dad in Korea

And we are so grateful that on this day 3 years ago we found our Casey girl. She was just a little starved and scared dog, so abused and pitiful. Today she is happy, healthy and loved more than I can say. Happy “birthday” Casey Anne Wigglebottom!

God Bless America! Grilled some steaks, some fresh asparagus and portabella mushroom caps, and baked potatoes…what a fantastic meal!

"Old Glory"

“Old Glory”

 

Grateful, Fed, Medicated and Updated!

I am so beyond grateful today. Now don’t get me wrong I have tried to keep an attitude of gratitude though all of this, but today rocks!

We finally got food stamps! WOOOT! I am so happy it is hard to describe. It’s not that we were starving, but one more baloney sandwich would have put me over the edge. It was so much fun to go to the store today and not have to decide what I would leave behind. I got milk and eggs and meat..oh my!  We will be feasting in the Hood household tonight. Thank you Lord!

I went for my therapy appointment yesterday, and as you can probably surmise, it was a bit rough. I had my first appointment with the therapist and it was a teary one for sure, and the crying jag carried over to my appointment with the med doctor who suggested upping my Paxil. I didn’t argue with him. I’m hoping it will help with some of the anxiety attacks I have dealt with lately.

I am trying so hard to stay in the moment, in THIS day, not worrying about tomorrow. I am a bit concerned with the dogs having fleas and no real course of action…Dawn baths coming this week, laundry and vacuuming. It is the best I can do for them for now. Please pray about this with me. These dogs mean so much to me, and I want them comfortable and well. Thanks!

I am off to read for a bit before starting some baked chicken and rice for dinner. I can’t wait to smell it! I’m sure hubby will appreciate the aroma when he comes in from work. Yeah…it’s all good.

*Update* I forgot about the biscuits I bought…Oh my goodness..I do believe that heaven smells like fresh baked biscuits. My cup runneth over.

My kitchen curtains, just because.

My kitchen curtains, just because.

 

 

Hunger, Sleep, Trust

The days run one into another, each the same. My belly growls, not so much from not eating as it is from eating just enough…enough to make the money last, save the last bit of food. People get so uncomfortable with money talk, but when you are wondering how to make it last one more week, it fills your mind. Funny, I hate math. I have never been really good with numbers, but I have to do math constantly now.

I sleep well at night lately, with the help of some over-the-counter sleep med, but I am still just tired to my very core. This is not a good way to live. I spend my days telling myself it will be okay, trust God, He has this. I try not to worry, just keep trusting, believing. It IS okay…for today, forget about tomorrow.

I tell myself to get out of the house, go to the beach, take my camera…forget for a while, change the channel. But, then I have to remind myself not to use the gas in the car, so I stay here. I need to get in the shower, but it feels like a monumental effort…”I will today”, I say again. Run through the bible verses in my head, those on trust, belief, money, love, comfort. They help.

I don’t talk much to others…no one wants to hear about your troubles, especially financial ones. I have nothing else to talk about. Poverty makes you lonely…isolates you. Those who are unable to help feel even worse after talking to you, and those who would be able to help think you are begging if you speak to them, so you speak to no one. You don’t want people to apologize.

There are so many thoughts, so many things you want to say, but don’t. You don’t want people to know how you really feel, the thoughts that might offend or make people pity you. Just go on…watch another movie, let it take you to a life you wish you had. Make believe. Keep praying, keep trusting. Stop worrying how to make $70 last until next Saturday. Tuck the bills away, don’t look at them. Hubby leaves on Tues. You need to give him some money to take with him…he has to eat too right? Blah…

Constantly reminding myself of those worse off than I am, those who have nothing to eat, NO money, and no hope. I am better off, but comparison is little comfort. Bless me Lord so that I may be a blessing.

Learning to Not Worry…and Failing

For weeks now I have been reading from several different teachers. I have been studying and putting into practice how to live in the moment, to not worry, to trust that all is as it should be. It is not as easy as it sounds.

I find myself constantly bouncing between, “All is well”, and “Omgosh, we need rent in 12 days, and have no money”!

Hubby has been home from his job for over a week now. His roofing company has nothing lined up. I was okay for the first week, thinking he would be back to work this Monday and we would make it all up in marathon fashion. Not going to happen. His boss is now saying they won’t be working until Thursday.

My heart rate sky rockets every time I count the days and how much money we will need by the end of the month. I then try to  center myself, and breathe…”It’s all okay”…but my heart won’t listen, my mind won’t obey. Then, I play a game I call, “Worse Case Scenario” …Okay, we end up homeless, living in the car…not so bad right? It won’t kill us surely….but, I like our little shack, my dogs like our little shack. Having a roof is nice. Okay…none of this will happen right? And even if it does, we will all be fine…right? On and on my mind goes. UGH!

I need to go breathe now.

Good Morning, No Chili, and Possum Hunting!

A lovely Saturday morning here in South Georgia.  I was hoping to make it to the Chili Cook-Off on the island today, but I woke a bit later than planned and hubby’s paycheck has not arrived yet. Oh well, I’m not as motivated as I would have liked anyway…so, here I sit with my tea and my “morning” music. It’s all good.

A bit of an update on the “rat” the dogs killed the other night. Last night I let them out and they started a maniacal barking fest by the fence. When I finally decided to go out and get them I found what they were barking at…there was a HUGE mama possum walking across the top of the fence, and that is when I realized that the victim I had found a few nights ago was not a rat, but a juvenile possum! I was kind of sad for a moment as Mama Possum sat looking at me from her perch. I guess I’m not as Southern as I thought if I don’t know the difference between a rat and a possum. Hmm

My health has still been up and down, but today is a good day…I’ll take it. In the moment.

Today’s quick thought…How much do you worry? What are you worrying about right now? I am the queen of worry, and it’s such a waste of time. Most of what I worry about either never happens or will happen and I just have to deal with it…worrying won’t change the situation. If I think back on all the tough times I have had to go through and that seemed like “the end of the world”, and I remind myself that I made it through. I survived whatever I thought was so tragic, and thinking back on some of them now, most weren’t half as bad as I had feared. If you are worried about something today…ask yourself this simple question, “How will this situation look five years from now?” Chances are the thing you are fretting about today won’t be as “big” as you think. It is what it is. Stay in the moment, count your blessings, and leave the rest to God. You are in good hands. Love, Peace and Hugs!

Squirrel Watch

Squirrel Watch

Four Months, 341 Followers, Freakin’ Amazing!

I began this blog back in October with no real idea what I was going to do with it and no idea how much this little spot in cyberspace would add to my life.

I have “met” some of the most amazing people here. I’ve been able to experience so many forms of artistic expression in writing, photography, poetry, spirituality and so much more. I’ve also realized how easy it is to become close with people I have never been in the same room with. I have been so blessed by the caring and compassionate comments and actions of the  friends I have made here on WordPress. To realize that over 300 people would want to read what I write, even when all I write is day-to-day stuff, is just stunning.

The encouragement and feedback I have received on both my writing and photography has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me, one I would never have thought I wanted for myself…for all of this…I say, “Thank You!”

I can not possibly mention all who have had an effect on my life, but I must mention a few people who have truly touched me either through their writing or through phone conversations and emails have come to be really good friends…

Joy over at Bleeding my Emotions has been such a sweet and devoted follower and a good friend.

Mark  was my first taste of true blogger friendship when he went above and beyond to rescue my blanket from a motel in Syracuse NY. You can read about that here.

Okay…this is too hard..there are too many wonderful people and blogs I follow, and I would feel bad if someone felt left out. All of you mean so much to me, and I wish I had the time and patience to include every one of you! The best way to do this is to ask you to check out the list on my page and read some of these amazing blogs!

Ruth

  Margaret

Juan

Pat

Cecilia

Jr.

…and so many more! I am grateful and humbled by all of my followers. Love, Peace, and Hugs!

Shrimp Boat

Shrimp Boat

Early Dawn at Massengale Beach

"The Pier"

“The Pier”

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Sydney Lanier Bridge

Sydney Lanier Bridge