Everyone is Freaking Out but Remember… Community.

Today was BUSY at the center.  People were bringing us their things and we were trying to keep up with the latest news.  We had to convince some folks that even though the shelters won’t take couples, they absolutely cannot stay in a tent in the woods during this time.  I got cussed out over the phone for not being able to provide hotel rooms for folks- it was a lot.

We gave a way SO MANY SOCKS today.  Last night was sort of a taste of what is to come.  Blu’s phone was ringing off the hook because people thought that the hurricane had already started, but it was just a typical thunderstorm.  It may have worked to our advantage, because it definitely lit a fire under some butts.  Folks got their meds refilled, just in case.  People gave us important papers to keep.  We have bags of belongings, labeled and placed on top of tables to keep them dry.  We’re definitely doing the best we can here to provide support for everyone.

I had a couple of texts today asking if people could sleep overnight at the center.  We’re pretty sure that it is going to flood because it’s a basement, so I think that’s a bad idea right now.  It floods in parts when it simply rains, much less during a hurricane.  We’re taking precautions by making sure nothing is on the floor and all of the electrical equipment (computers, modems, appliances), are up on a surface and nowhere that they can get wet.

We bought a ticket today for someone who has a friend in Gastonia who is willing to not only let her stay there, but give her a place to stay for an extended period of time.  I feel really good about that because not only will she not be sleeping outside, but she will be with friends who care that she was sleeping outside- I can’t say that about all of our folks for sure.  They grew up in the same group home together, and have been looking for one another.  She got a phone and they found each other this week- this is why Facebook is an amazing tool.  He had no idea that she was living outside, and she had no idea that he was searching for his foster sister.  He just bought a house, and has extended an invitation to her to join his family.  I hope that it works out, for both of them.

Not everyone is so lucky, however, I found out today that a lot of people saw the video that I made yesterday, so that gives me hope that we can keep everyone alive.  We had a lot of new faces today, and I got to speak to a LOT of new folks about what their plans were for the next few days.  It was HECTIC, and we’re going to need some help in the near future, but it’s worth it.  It really is.  If you spend one day with us, you’ll see it too, the joy of a clean pair of socks, a new tent, a hot meal, a clean t-shirt, a bar of soap, connecting with an old friend, all of it.

Hopscotch: It’s not you, it’s me.

Dear Hopscotch,

It’s not you, it’s me.  Last year at this time I was the brand new ED of a struggling little non-profit.  I had Hopscotch tickets.  I hadn’t the energy or the stamina to go to even half of the shows that I wanted to.  At one point I looked at my husband and said “I think I’m too old for this.  I’m not having fun.  I don’t think I can do this next year”.

One year later, my husband had already purchased our tickets, “just in case”, and this week he asked me if my decision had changed any.  It hadn’t.  If anything, one year later, still the ED of a tiny, struggling (but less struggling) non-profit, my answer is more definite.  I simply said, “I can’t do all of that loud and all of those people.  I have enough “loud” and “people” in my life every day.”

Being crammed, dick to ass in Slim’s, watching “Pissed Jeans”, no longer holds the appeal to me that it used to.  Having my bags searched at the Plaza no longer holds much charm.  The yearly dude trying to grind on my butt during a set no longer seems like something I feel like dealing with.  I no longer have the stamina for day drinking.  I can’t really afford to twist my ankle in a hole this year.  Really, I’ve changed, not you, Hopscotch.

I gave my wristband to our friend, Katie, so my husband will have someone to go to show with this year.  This evening I’m looking forward to a hot shower, a nap, and a nice walk with the dog.  Maybe I’ll watch a couple of TED talks or catch up on my reading.  I’ll have a nice cup of herbal tea for my arthritis (lol, but really), and soak in the scent of lavender.  Most of all, I’ll enjoy the fact that I’m not standing, it isn’t hot and sweaty, and it’s not loud.

Drink a tallboy and see a band with a crazy name for me this weekend!



The Alarm and the Cost of Poverty

We started today 1 person down on staff, so we prepared to be busy.  Then the alarm went off.  This alarm is part of our fire/security system, but specifically, it was a warning that either a breaker tripped or that the transformer was down… except it wasn’t the breaker.  It makes this shrill beeping about every 10 seconds.  It’s loud.  It would drive anyone crazy.  Today it was beeping in a center full of people with all kinds of difficulties.

I tried every phone number on the box, all lead me to tech. support that couldn’t help.  Tried the number on the security panel, disconnected.  Luckily my friend who works for 911 happened to stop by and was able to find out when the last time the alarm was tripped, and who came to set it back.  From there, we actually got a hold of the person we needed to, and could end this hellish beeping that had now plagued us for 2 hours.  It was shaking my nerves.

The story is actually longer and more tedious than that, but I don’t have the energy to write anymore on the subject.  Needless to say, alarm systems are loud and annoying for a reason.  They’re made to make you shake, want to get away from them, and to scare people off.  In the meantime, the needs were great and continuous, and there were moments when I was on the phone, while getting something for someone, while someone else was calling me on the other phone, while the doorbell rang.  It was that kind of day.

I saw my awesome therapist today, and we had a delightful conversation where I recanted this hellish day, and then sang my husband’s praises as a human being for the rest of it.  My therapist does a lot of couple’s counseling and said it was nice to hear that there are couples who are really working out.  I told him that I wouldn’t know how to teach that, but he’s my hero for trying to teach others how to do that.  I feel like too many couples don’t allow each other to be human beings.  Maybe I’m just lucky, and found the perfect one.  As I say, lots of people have husbands, but I have the best one.

I then solved the mystery of “why my registration hasn’t come in the mail”.  The answer to that is: it was time for a new license plate.  I didn’t really  know that was a thing, and no one sent me any kind of notice, but I was glad that I found out and had the cash to pay for it, because it could have been a shock had I not been prepared.  I’m the proud owner of a plate that won’t get me pulled over by being an outdated plate now.  Adulting- level up!

That leads me into this: has anyone ever noticed how incredibly difficult it can be to keep all of your balls in the air as a grown ass person?  The car payments, insurance, maintenance, inspections, plates, registrations, taxes?  The rent/mortgage, insurance, termite inspection, all the bills, stuff break down, taxes?  The career/job, performance review, 24-7 responsibility, deadlines, taxes? The kids, childcare, school, the dog, the cat, the bird, the yard, the trash, the housekeeping, taxes.  How do we all do it?

One thing that I’ve noticed is that it’s easier to keep all of these systems going than it is to lose one and try to get it back.  That’s the cycle of poverty; if you’ve never lived it, it’s built so that you lose one of these things, and it takes heaven and Earth to get it back.  Being poor is incredibly expensive.  We see it with our people all of the time.  Why are homeless people homeless?  Easy, someone steals your stuff at the shelter, and suddenly you’re a person with no ID, birth certificate or social security card.  Then you can’t work until you get it all back, but all of it costs money, that you don’t have, because you can’t work.

Let’s say you have a car.  Now you don’t have a license to drive your car, you get pulled over, you get a ticket for not having a license and whatever else is wrong with your car (like your headlight).  Then you have to pay a fine or go to court.  Both cost money.  If you do neither, you have fines following you around or you get a “Failure to Appear”, and that costs even more money.  Everything then costs more, and finally you lose your car.  Now you have nothing.  Then the shelter kicks you out for being late for curfew.  Now you really have nothing.

I hear stories like this every single day.  Bank accounts overdrawn that then put a $35 overdraft fee on them, with another fee on top of that, and so the next money you put into your account is gone before you can pay a bill.  Why use the account at all, then?  So you pay to get your check cashed elsewhere, pay extra for the money-order, and pay off the bill that way.  Now you’ve spent an extra $18 to pay a bill, but that’s better than the $45 you owe the bank.

The parameters required for being a functioning member of our capitalistic society are so very small.  You have to be on top of your game 24-7, or have the money to pay for that thing you let slip.  It’s built to make it as hard as humanly possible to succeed, and to then add additional hardship on top of that.  Ever had a credit check and realize you have no credit even though you’ve been paying bills for years?  I have.  It happened to me.  Paying your bills is good, because that just means no credit.  Not paying your bills means bad credit.  Notice how there is a penalty, but no reward?  Borrow a ton of money?  Instant reward on levels.  You get money, and if you pay it back timely, you get credit.  Why does it work that way?

I see people, every day, who just can’t dig out of the hole they’re in.  They had family members who took out credit cards in their names when they were teenagers, maxed them out, then never paid them.  They started life in debt with terrible credit.  They started life disabled, with nothing but a disability check and no one to help care for them.  They started life with a mental illness that alienated the family they did have, and are too young (or too mentally ill) to make it without some serious adult support.  They went to jail as a teen and own money to the courts out the ass.  I see all of these things all of the time.

Know that the decisions you make for your kids can truly make a difference in if they become homeless or not.  If you kick out your argumentative teenager, there is a good chance that the next few decisions they make will define the next decade of their lives.  If you want to simply watch them crash and burn because you “want to be right” SO BAD, then you may actually get your wish, it could happen, but is that truly what you wanted as a parent?  Does that really make you happy?  Did “you show them”?  What if I told you that your little girl was turning tricks for crack?  What if I told you that your son just asked me for clean needles?  What if, in a split second, your withdrawal of general support breaks that young person.  It’s something to think about.



Tea Time

I’ve been researching natural herbs that have healing properties, at first, to help myself.  I looked up herbs that were good for arthritis, as I’m developing it in some of my joints.  Then I started branching out into herbs to treat anxiety, depression and insomnia.  Now I’m starting to study herbs that treat upset stomachs, as a lot of our folks at the center suffer from that problem.

Today, I brought the first few containers of herbs to the center.  I wasn’t sure how well it would be received, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Immediately I had two folks, back to back, in my office for some anxiety relief.  I gave them a combination of valerian root and passion flower, which are a calming herb and a mood balancing herb.  Then I had a 3rd one show up right behind them and asked for something to help them sleep in the quiet room.  I got him all hooked up, listened to him talk for a while, and he was off to the nap room and slept like a baby for 2 hours.

Later, I had a young man who has been suffering from debilitating depression, find the strength to get up and come to the center.  I made him a special blend of mood lifting herbs called “Happy”.  We talked for a long time.  I’m so glad that he stopped by and I had the opportunity to spend some time with him.  That’s really what it’s about.  I make you a cup of tea, and we get to talk for a while.  In my hectic day, it can be really hard to have an opportunity to really connect one on one with people individually.

I stopped by Tin Roof Teas on my way home to see my friend, Kayla.  I picked up another type of calming herb, a loose version of the nettle leaf that I use for joint pain, and 2 herbs for upset stomachs (ginger root and lemongrass).  I’m going to add them to my collection, and offer them to people in the spirit of hospitality.

I’ve found, that at the center, many people mistrust drugs, big pharma, and sometimes the entire medical practice.  This just comes with the turf.  I don’t know if they’ll get any practical medical effects from these teas, but I do know that the act of making tea is a beautiful ritual.  The act of serving tea is universally a gesture of hospitality, and the act of taking tea with someone else is an act of friendship.  If all I can do is create an act of hospitality and friendship, then perhaps, for one day, that might be all someone really needs.

Second Life: a thing I didn’t know existed

It’s a nasty, rainy day, so we decided not to go to the lake today.  I needed a chill day at home anyway.  I accidentally ran across an article about “Second Life”, a platform online that has helped tons of people with disabilities be able to live a more fulfilling life.  I was shocked that I hadn’t heard of this before, since it’s been around since 2003.

Why is it so popular with the disabled community?  Well, for one, your avatar can look like anything you would like it to look like (within some limits, but not many), and not only can you walk around and run, you can fly through the virtual world that has been built by tons of people.  Even better, it also gives folks the opportunity to get together, hang out and maintain friendships in real time.  Add in the ability to actually talk to your nurse (seriously, there are medical professionals that interact with folks through this platform), and the ability to be able to hold an actual online job (yep there’s a whole marketplace in this thing), and you’ve got something that really improves the daily lives of people who may not be able to move around, be interacted with easily, or communicate in the same way as neuro-typical people do.

So, of course, I had to check this out.  I went to Youtube, as you do, to find some tutorials or some examples of what interacting on this platform was like.  I was kind of blown away.  It’s all encompassing.  There are people who literally do it as an actual job.  Most of the money making revolves around real estate and avatar beautification (creating clothing, skins, etc), but there are some other creative ideas floating around.  People have created games withing the platform, for example.  I can also see it being very addictive, as it’s sort of like the Sims, except much more involved.

As I went down the rabbit hole, which is YouTube, I also found that there are lots of other things that go on in the virtual wonderland, and I don’t just mean sex, because we all knew people were going to be doing that.  There’s nasty interactions that make a FB comment section look just peachy.  There’s some criminal elements in places (of course), and there are plenty of cringy weirdo stories out there too.  Essentially it’s like Facebook and The Sims had a baby with Grindr and Tinder.  This makes me want to look into it less, because I don’t even Tweet.  I can’t keep up with all of that stuff, and people are savages.

YouTube has always been very useful for me to learn about pretty much anything.  How to repair a dryer, toilet, tile.  How to make soap (yep).  How to dig a pond.  That’s been my primary use of YouTube.  There is also this crazy sort of fandom thing going on in there where all of the teenagers have channels and essentially spend all of their time doing annoying things and talking smack about each other.  Everything is a “controversy” and so damn dramatic.  My niece talks about all of those YouTube kids all of the time, and the take away I get is “Oh my God.  Thank God that wasn’t around when I was a teenager.”

I’m totally okay with feeling like an old person here.  I watched a couple of these teenagers play “Second Life” and wherever they were and whatever they were doing was all just brutal, so I guess, as all platforms, it is what you make it.  The thing that broke my heart at one point was hearing this 17 year old girl, who has a very famous channel, express that she knows that all people are terrible.  She said it several times, and you know what?  If I grew up and lived in her world of 24-7 social media on several platforms, I would feel that way too.

Lots of the folks she interacts with are terrible, and all of those YouTube kids describe themselves as “awkward” or “socially terrible”.  I closed the window and just felt dirtier for having watched this sad, teenage, dramafest unfold on a platform that also does so much good.  I went in there looking at all of the good that could be done, and of course, also found the bad.  I feel so terrible for young people today, they live in a fishbowl world full of disses, death threats, doxxing threats, constant insults and so much cruelty.

Well, that’s today’s soapbox.  Second Life looks pretty cool and I’m glad that it’s beneficial for so many people.  I’m surprised that I had not heard about it before now, but it’s also something that I would have never had time for, so that might be why.  Now I’m going to turn off the lightbox, and go do some First Life.

The Full Moon

Today we did 25 showers in the shower truck, for a total of 215 showers so far.  I’m glad that we had a shower truck, because it is the end of the month, which means we were extremely busy, it was hotter than 20 hells, and tempers were also high.

Q looked at me and said “Did y’all put something in the coffee?”  I said, “It’s the full moon.”

Back when I was a bartender, there were several occasions where I had nights that were so odd, and people who were acting so strange, that I would walk outside after dark and look up just to see… there it was.  The full moon.  I’d walk back inside to report the problem to my coworkers.

I know that some folks don’t believe in that stuff, but let me tell you, after years and years of working with the public, I can tell a full moon shift without even looking outside anymore.  Something really does happen to people.  It’s said to be related to the shifting of the tides, the shifting of water, and we’re just big ole’ water bags, walking around like hairless monkeys.  It’s what humans do.  Humans are messy.

Luckily, we were able to squelch the arguments and head off the territorial pissings, but it definitely took patience, and we had to pick our battles.  The 30th of every month is always busy- new people we’ve never seen, epic lunch lines, the nap room literally full end to end.  The end of the month is when people run out of resources.  When people run out of resources in mass, they come to the center.

If it wasn’t the full moon, it still looked like the 30th to me.

You don’t have to be God people to be Good people.

I fell in love with this phrase when my friend, who grew up Mormon, said it one evening when we were talking about the Center and life in general.  One of the most interesting things about my job (aside from almost everything lol), is that I work daily with a LOT of people of all different kinds of faiths.  Everyone may be of different religions, or variations of a religion, or no religion at all, but they’re working towards a common goal; to concretely help people living in the most extreme poverty.

I don’t have a specific church that I’m a member of, but because I work in a Methodist church, people ask me, almost daily, if I’m Methodist or a member of that specific church.  I grew up going to a Baptist church, which was close to my house when I was a kid.  One of the advantages of not having a specific church is that I’m don’t feel biased over any specific religion or group, and can work easily with people of all faiths (or no faith), and as long as everyone is striving to do good in the world, I’m in their corner.  Everyone wants the opportunity to do some good in the world.

I often refer to the energy or force of faith as “The Universe”.  It excludes no one.  I’ve seen the amazing things that The Universe can do, and I’ve witnessed first hand the way that the things that we put into it can come back in beautiful (and sometimes terrible) ways.  I love the teachings of Jesus Christ and take to heart that we should love one another, show kindness and generosity to the poor, and be as much of a force of good as we can be.  They’re lofty goals, but again, callings typically have lofty goals.

Today was one of the busiest days I’ve seen at the center in a while.  We had so much going on that I didn’t have a moment to answer emails, take pictures, post to social media- I’ll be tackling those emails after I write this blog, but I’m trying to write daily, so I’ve promised myself that I will, in some form or another, write something.  I do have one of the few jobs in the world where by 2 pm I’ve already had “a day, whew” while other people are still at work.  Today was “a day”.

In good news, our Bombas socks came, as well as our stove to replace the one with the electrical problem.  The bad news about the stove is that the plug isn’t the right one, but we have someone coming to look at it.  St. John’s MCC made and brought lunch today, so that gave us some reprieve on cooking.  Our friend, Randy Evans who runs “Walking Tall Wilmington” came today, hung out, and then spoke during church service.  It was awesome to see him, even though it was so busy that we barely got to talk.

The saddest news that I heard today was that one of our community members, a young man, got the call that no parent ever wants to get.  His daughter had been playing on a jungle gym, had a seizure and passed away.  I sat with him outside in the smoking section and literally just sat with him.  There was nothing I could say, nothing I could do, but give him a hug and let him know that Pastor Robert was on site that day if he wanted to talk to someone who specializes in grief.  Pastor Robert worked in hospice for a long time, and loss is a subject that he doesn’t shy away from.  I then just sat with him some more and checked in on him throughout the day.  It reminded me of something Rev. Hugh Hollowell said, “I can’t pay your light bill, but I will sit with you in the dark”.  We do a lot of sitting with people in the dark.

Our friend who sees Demon Fairies was very calm today, and I hooked him up with some gear to replace the Marshall’s shopping bag (the handles on those shopping bags break easily).  I got him a donated book bag, canvas tote, and one of those small drawstring book bags, that way he can separate his things out as he needs to.  He apologized again today, but for the first time, when I gave him the bags, I saw a hint of happiness flash through his eyes and it gave me hope.  Hope for him, hope for the center and hope for all of us.

We were able to get two more tents to people who lost theirs in the flood!  One guy cracked me up and said his tent looked like “Jurassic Park in there”.  I also saw one of our young friends who we haven’t seen in a year!  She was 30 days sober, walking better with a cane (last time I saw her, she was in a wheelchair and had been hit by a car), and she looked very healthy.  She is a person who has been diagnosed with multiple personalities, and one of her personalities is 5 years old, so I found her 5 year old a toy dinosaur to replace some of the toys she lost in the flood and I hope that it makes her happy.  Her inner 5 year old had been acting out since the flood, and her therapist had said that this may happen.  I know all of that sounds really far out, but I’ve learned a LOT about actual multiple personality disorder, and I always take the requests of her other personalities very seriously.  If she shows up as a 5 year old, I respect that too and don’t expect her to do things that 5 year olds can’t do.  Luckily, she has a very supportive boyfriend to help her navigate the world, she needs that support and understanding.

One of our friends had to go to court for loitering.  Have you ever seen a rich person arrested for loitering?  That’s just all I have to say about that.  It’s a “homeless people charge”.

We see a lot of things in a day at the center.  I spent a lot of time on my feet with my attention pulled in several different directions.  I was VERY happy to see my therapist today, as he is a person who has also worked in a daytime facility, specifically for people with Schizophrenia.  It was the PERFECT person to talk to, because as he said, “There were times that I would get together with old coworkers, and we all felt like no one else in the world could understand some of the things we experienced.”  He’s definitely a person who “gets my job”, and that’s excellent because I know that not everyone is going to get that.  I mean, some of this stuff, you just couldn’t make up if you tried, so having someone else who has been there to talk to after a crazy day is cathartic.

Now, I guess I’m going to go tackle all of those emails.  Stay good people!


Forgiveness is Huge

This morning, our friend who sees Demon Fairies, came up to me immediately and said “I’m sorry, I’m an asshole.  I had a total nervous breakdown yesterday.  Sometimes we hurt the people who help us the most, and I’m sorry.”

I asked him if his medications had been in the bag that got stolen, and he said they were, and that he had an appointment on the 3rd to have his scripts refilled.  I told him that if there was anything we could do to keep him calm and out of trouble until his appointment to let us know, and not to let it build up to yesterday again.  We’ll help you out however we can, but we have to keep the place safe for everyone.  He agreed to that, and I gave him a hug.  He said “I haven’t had a hug from anyone in a long time.”

He was quiet and went about his business for the rest of the day.  He ate at lunch (a good thing), and I got him a bag to replace the old, black trash bag that he had been hauling his worldly possessions around in.  It wasn’t much, just a Marshall’s reusable shopping bag, but he looked really happy and said “That’s a great bag, thank you.”

Grace is hard, and forgiveness is huge.

The rest of our day was busy, 62 people for lunch!  Billy and I reorganized the meat cooler and were in awe of how much pork we had in comparison to everything else.  One thing that we have learned very quickly is that a LOT of people don’t eat pork.  When we make pork (and we pretty much have to every lunch because it is the most donated meat in our area), we always have to make something to go with it.  We have St. John’s Methodist church doing our lunch tomorrow, so we’re planning Thursday’s meal.  So far it’s pork shoulder, and turkey neck gravy for the non-pork folks over rice.

Our hall was swamped with clothing and bedding donations, so I and our friend, Dave, took a stab at clearing it all out.  We have a lot of women’s clothing, a lot of men’s dress pants, and a lot of assorted bedding.  More bedding than we can use right now, so if you’re looking for sheet sets, pillow cases or a quilt, stop by and help yourself, we have plenty!

I’m trying to write something every day, so some days there will be more than others, however, I definitely thought that this deserved an update.  Tomorrow we’ll be starting the day with sausage, eggs and grits, so if you’re up and about at 9:30, join us for breakfast!





Demon Fairies

This past weekend, the center was vandalized- benches overturned, trash cans overturned, picnic tables overturned, and concrete benches torn apart; seriously.  We were able to put everything back together (minus 1 concrete bench that we were unable to save) before church Sunday morning, but it was a Saturday night surprise.

We had thought it might be the kids going back to school, that was what some folks said, but then a community member came to me and told me that he saw who did it, and it was the person that I suspected.  It’s a community member who is new to us.  He started out as quiet, not really saying much or making a fuss, but he’s gotten increasingly more talkative, talking in a loud, fast, jumbled way, and I know that if he was once a medicated person, he isn’t right now.

Today, he was in the shower truck cursing and screaming up a storm.  He yelled about demon fairies.  He sang loudly.  He freaked out a lot.  That was when I was approached by one community member and told that they were driving by and saw him break the concrete bench.  It all made sense.  A few days ago another community member with Schizophrenia told me that he often saw demon fairies in the shower before he got on medication.  Now here is this guy yelling about demon fairies in the shower- this man has Schizophrenia and the things that he sees are terrorizing him.

Later, out of the clear shit blue, while I was talking to another person about where he could do his laundry, our friend asked “What’s for lunch?”  I told him that I would have to check in with Billy.  He then called me a “piece of shit”.  The staff had done nothing to him, we had tried to be understanding, tried to offer whatever help we could, and tried to be very empathic.  Tomorrow, if he shows up, I’m going to have to ask him to leave.

I hate having to do that.  I know that he is suffering.  I know that he needs help, but I can’t force him to go get any.  The best that I can do is maybe call the police and have them take him to one of our local emergency mental health facilities.  A person who could do the type of damage that I saw outside of LW, by himself, is not a person that can be reasoned with right now.  He’s being tortured by things beyond his control, and he’s scared and angry.

We have a lot of folks who experience sights and sounds that we can’t see.  Most of them are gentle people, and go through bouts of issues when their medication gets stolen or they run out of it.  Most of the time they can still be reasoned with to some extent, but I think this person is past that.  His belongings were recently stolen, and I’m betting he had some medication in those belongings.  Right now I’m going about the thought process of the kindest, most ethical, safest way to get him some help before he hurts himself or anyone else, so that’s what’s on my mind.

Schizophrenia is one of the only mental illnesses that cannot be dealt with any way but with medication, and it is hereditary, so a person is born with it.  Bipolar disorder also needs to be treated with medication and people can be born with it too, but they can also be triggered into it by trauma as well.  For this man, there is no amount of kind words or meaningful gestures that can help him right now (other than helping him to survive to see another day), he’s really going to need someone to notice that he is suffering and people to figure out a way to help him get back to himself.  I’m going to be thinking a lot about that tonight.


You are all of these people.

Social media reflects who we are, and often times I can tell “who I am” at any point in time by what people ask me when we’re in person.  In some cases, I can even tell WHEN they started following me online.  People are onions, peeling in layers, each revealing a new part.  Right now I’m the “homeless center lady”, but I’ve been other people, and I bet so have you.

I’ve been the “Lives in Los Angeles girl”.  Taking pictures of crazy/funny stuff.  Talking about things that I found amusing on the West Coast through the eyes of a Southerner.  Writing about my job on King of the Hill.

I’ve been the “Hemp Necklace lady”.  I sewed patchwork dresses and made hemp jewelry.  I drew mandalas.  I had an Etsy store.

I’ve been the “tomato/horticulture lady”.  When I was going to NC State for horticulture, people often knew me as the plant person.  I was working on some pretty cool things with heirloom tomatoes and had a little garden, access to a very big greenhouse, and plants were what I wrote about.

I’ve been the “Hawaii Girl”, taking beautiful pictures of my adventures working in a tropical botanical garden, learning a new culture, and living on an island.

I’ve been the “new dog lady”.  There was a time when having a dog was very new for me, and I wrote about him pretty often.  I dated someone who had 2 dogs, so there were plenty of photos and funny stories.

I’ve been the “soap-making lady”, trying out new techniques, new smells, taking pictures of freshly cut soap.  I vended at farmer’s markets and festivals.  I grew things that I then made into soap.

I’ve been the “chicken lady”.  I got some chicken girls, hatched baby chickens, took pictures of cool, colorful eggs, and talked to people about chicken diseases, how to care for babies, and what kinds of things they like to eat (almost everything).

I’ve been the “bought a new house person”, and took everyone on a journey of buying a home, painting it, decorating it, and settling into it.  I then became “Opening a new restaurant person”, and helped open a restaurant from scratch.  These journeys happened back to back.

I’ve been “Angry Activist Person”, charged, political, shaking my fist and screaming from the rafters an whoever would listen.  I’ve had someone who hadn’t met me in real life before open up their introduction with “Don’t start yelling at me about feminism and politics”.  I laughed about it and told them that I also do other things in real life.

Now I’m “Homelessness Lady”, and while that sounds pretty scary to people when you say it out loud, it’s actually a pretty amazing place to be.  I still grow tomatoes.  I still have chickens.  I still make soap.  I still shake my fist for justice.

You can be and have been many things.  You are a multi-layered person.  We all are.  As I told someone on Friday, “You are all of these people.  Everything you need lives inside of you right now”.  Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise, you’re not a “brand”, you are a soul.