Welcoming 2019 with Gratitude

Hello Scribblers,

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve been on WordPress and a lot has happened since my last Blogmas post. As you can tell, I didn’t “continue through until New Years”. I straight up abandoned y’all!

Well, for starters, my brother-in-law, and his girlfriend arrived on Christmas Day and we ended up spending as much time as possible together until ringing in the New Year. I’m so glad he came to visit us and we were able to spend time together. It was, truly, the perfect way to end a blessed year, and that’s the kind of attitude and feeling I want going into 2019.

For the past several weeks, I’ve also been reading Marie Kondō’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Once I got nearly a third of my way through, I found out that there is actually a Netflix series about her books as well! Although I’m unsure how everyone else is receiving this new series, but for me, I find it quite interesting, and even soothing, to watch.

The home is now very important to me. Having a safe and comfortable place to live is something I really cherish. I want to honor the blessings of having shelter.

Ultimately, this is where I want to start my journey when it comes to bringing gratitude into the New Year.

I want to thank my home for giving us shelter, safety and comfort.

Part of that, I think, is treating my home with care, as well as my belongings.

In truth, for a long time, I was afraid of attachment to my belongings because we did lose everything. It’s only recently that I’ve realized that I can, in fact, enjoy and appreciate what it is I have, now, and allow it to serve it’s purpose to me, now. The past is the past, and the future is always uncertain, but that doesn’t mean I cannot seek joy today.

There is no question that 2018 was, how do they say it now? One for the books. It’s a year I will probably always remember — a time of growth, healing, and redemption.

So many wonderful things have happened, but here is a “short” list of the very best:

  • I reconnected with my family, including my Grandmother, as well as my parents.
  • I reconnected with many old friends.
  • In January, I met my broker, Jay, who spent almost 4 months helping us find an apartment.
  • We found our nest, and it’s perfect.
  • Thomas landed a better job in February.
  • I met Mark from Invisible People, and we started working together in April.
  • I launched this blog and started writing Scar Tissue. I’ve made and build wonderful connections through my story.
  • In May, I landed a union job at a local community college.
  • I landed another job, with the research foundation, shortly after.
  • I met and became very close with several new colleagues.
  • I opened a credit building savings account, and raised my credit score 50 points.
  • In August, I received flowers, balloons, put up decorations, and Thomas baked a cake for my 28th birthday.
  • I’m slowly starting to re-build my wardrobe.
  • I’m beginning to find myself again. This has increased my self-confidence.
  • I’ve prioritized and improved both my physical and mental health.
  • This year, I made it a habit to walk several miles, 4-5 times a week, and eat as clean as possible.
  • In October, I joined our on-campus Urban Farm.
  • I started investing in home decor, and even put up seasonal items in our home.
  • I took an interest in, and started pantry-filling/stock-pilling for a rainy day.
  • I’ve built a habit (and learned how to) clean and organize my space.
  • In December, Thomas and I both received a multitude of gifts for Christmas from friends and family. Thomas, who is a counselor, received several gifts from students and parents. I also received several gifts from colleagues.
  • I was invited to and attended several Christmas parties.
  • I had some time off for the holidays.
  • We spent Christmas with family.

2018 was my year. And, you know what? 2019 will be my year too. 

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One final push. // #BLOGMAS 2018, Day #22 – 24

Merry Christmas Eve Scribblers,

How goes the festivities? Are you done with your Christmas shopping? I’m betting some of you are still scrambling in the department stores and malls. Please, don’t let me keep you. 🙂

This one final push will contain sort of a year-in-review, goals for the New Year, and the usual Jocelyn babble that you’ve all come to know and love.

Shall we start with some babble then? OK, fine, what about a song?

 

 

Although I didn’t get 25 Christmas-y posts out this month (I suppose I *could* keep going until New Years…), I’d say I did pretty darn good. I tried my best to not miss more than one day at a time. I slacked a bit this weekend and didn’t post at all. I think my body is slowly sinking into hibernation-mode. I’ve been sleeping quite a bit, eating quite a bit (oh, sweet chocolate.), and overall, just kind of loving myself — gaming through the afternoon, early pizza delivery — you know, the usual.

This morning, er, it was like noon, I dragged my sleepy self out of bed on this wondrous Christmas Eve, and made myself some hash browns. There were eggs too. I didn’t just eat potatoes, but I probably would of, you know, if there were no eggs available for an omelette. I put a pot of coffee on and sat at the computer.

A cold chill came in through cracked windows, and it didn’t take long for my little finger tips to disapprove. I shut that window, and sat back down, scrolling through Twitter. It was there that I saw my dear friend, Sequoia, share photographs of a traditional Yule spread from Sweden. There is something special about sharing these traditions with the world, and even just for a moment, getting a glimpse into the lives of others — especially during this magical time of year.

I think, for me, that is what I love most about Christmas. Regardless of the reason for the season, whether that be Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, or the Winter Solstice, we all feel something special in our hearts. Isn’t that what is most important anyway? That we’re all feeling some kind of magic.

I feel magic in my heart, and I hope that you do too.

If, for some reason, this is a sad time for you, I wish you peace and mercy from that hurt.

Now, for some quick attempt at offending someone:

 

So many blessings have been bestowed upon our tiny little family this year. I feel like the holes in my heart have been filled. And, although, some of that pain inflicted, still remains, there is still a greater joy, a greater love, that carries me through it.

Everything just started falling into place this year. In truth, I just needed one good reason to keep going, and instead, I was given a dozen. Believe it or not, we started 2018 with hearts filled with hope. Finally, we were on our way to being housed after nearly a year of homelessness. I met our broker, Jay, right after the holiday season. For months, we looked at apartments. We viewed a variety of places, including basements and fancy elevator co-ops. After being stood up by a scammer, thinking we may not find a place to live, we met our landlord, Rose. She was warm, and I felt it instantly. She offered us the apartment on the spot, without even an exchange of bank statements. I couldn’t believe, as we stood there, in the hallway of our new nest, with these two angel who would change our lives.

The first few weeks, even months, felt surreal. I was personally working through a lot of difficult emotions, as you can see here:

Who would have thought that walking into the kitchen at 4:30AM would be an adventure of itself? When you haven’t had a kitchen for so long, a kitchen becomes a big deal. Now, everything is a big deal. Every moment that is I feel safe is a big deal. Every moment that I feel comfort is a big deal.

And, so now, whenever I stand there, in the kitchen, washing dishes, I remember the many nights I bribed a guard just to let me in, so I could finally eat.

I don’t have to do that anymore.

I can eat when I want to, even at 4:45AM, with no worry of repercussions, with no punishment.

I don’t have to worry about being written up and kicked out for eating, or looking at a guard the wrong way, or having a bad day.

Note that several more chapters of Scar Tissue can be read under Writer’s Corner –> Projects.

Eventually, a healing I didn’t think was possible, began. Eventually, I started settling in. I started setting goals again. I started writing again. I even started working along side Mark, founder of Invisible People, a non-profit that strives to change the narrative of homelessness.

I started taking better care of my mental and physical health, and being honest about it, too. I starting looking for a job that I actually wanted to do. Within a few months, I was sitting on my boss’s couch, in an interview. Now I coordinate a support center for a local community college that I love. I was then hired by the university’s research foundation to assist in a grant program. Eventually I made a decision, a commitment really, of where to go next in my education, in my career in academia. Claiming that goal will require studying and teaching and trips to each and every faculty event — and several I have shown up for in December alone.

I started taking better care of my finances, with a few slip ups here and there, of course. (I’m often tempted by pizza and video games, as you know.) But that didn’t stop me from saving money and raising my credit score 50 points this year. That did not stop me from packing a well-balanced, full lunch, each and every day. That didn’t stop me from meal-planning and pantry-filling. That didn’t stop me from shopping local markets as often as possible, and even spending some time at our campus urban farm, and, overall, just making more conscious, ethical choices in my day-to-day life.

I guess my goal for next year is to simply keep this up — to hold fast through the difficult months, because there will always be difficult months.

My biggest goal of all is to live more intentionally.  Although I cannot control everything in my life, I can push really hard into it. I can put up a fight.

I believe, in some way, God, or the Universe, did necessary work this year. Regardless if intentional in any way, or what it’s reason may be, I feel it necessary to honor those blessings regardless of how or why it came to be.

I have an inkling of an idea — I began to stray from my path, from my fate, from what must happen, and this sharp turn was required to get me back on track, to fulfill whatever it is I must do, am meant to do, in this life.

But perhaps, I’m over reaching. Perhaps I’m underestimating myself, my power, and your help. Maybe it was all me. Maybe it was all you. Maybe with the help of others, we simply manifested each and every blessing. Maybe this is reassurance for me, that we, together, can do so much.

Merry Christmas, friends. Thank you for all you do. For being here. For reading; for entertaining a stranger.

Staying motivated in 2019. // #BLOGMAS 2018, Day #21

Just now, I received an alert that Humans of New York posted a new photograph. Before I delve into that more, I just want to say how much I adore their work and always have. I’m always moved by the depth and honesty of these people who take a moment out of their day to snap a photo for all of us to see.

A woman, whom looks to be standing in a train station, possibly Grand Central, shares with us a painful realization that I often think about. With newspaper in her hand, she says,

Every time I saw someone having kids—I’d get angry. Don’t they realize how uninhabitable the planet is going to be? Everyone thinks if we just make a few changes, we’ll be fine. We won’t be fine. The problem is systemic and there’s no movement capable of ending capitalism in time to save the planet.

But anyway, I’m trying not to obsess over this stuff anymore.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, although it’s quite likely I have, but I’ve struggled with reproductive health problems for several years now. This makes pregnancy difficult, as well as carrying a fetus to term. For a long time, I really wanted to have a healthy baby, and there was a real bitterness I felt because it’s so hard. In many ways, I’ve accepted what is what and have moved on from those feelings.

Regardless, the possibility of children, among many other things that the future may or may not bring, scare me. What if there is no purpose to being motivated now, to accomplishing anything now? What if this blog isn’t enough? What if the work I do with my colleagues and students isn’t enough? What if I don’t make enough money to save us? What if I do, but it doesn’t?

In that fear and hopelessness, I often find it difficult to stay motivated.

And yet, I hold on to a tiny pebble of hope, of possibly — that the earth will not go up in flames — that there will be less injustice, less suffering, in the future. A part of me believes in us, and in myself.

Believe in yourself. That’s the first step. Believe in all of us. That’s the second step. That’s all the motivation we need going into 2019.

 

 

Goals and growth. // #BLOGMAS 2018, Day #20

Last night, I opened my planner to the February monthly spread. In the top left corner, a gold sticker reads: Believe in the impossible.

On Friday, the 23rd, I scribbled important, next to it, the address of our apartment. We had an 11 am appointment that morning to see our nest, and our nest it became.

At the very front of the planner there is both a personal mission and vision statement. Among that, there are scribbles of self-discovery and awareness — hard questions I attempt to answer — a clarity I attempt to claim in 2018. Some statements jump out at me, such as:

I want to live true to my values, even when others pass judgements upon me.

I want to stick up for myself and others.

I want to become bolder, more honest and direct.

I think, at my core, I am a thinker. Next, I am a creator.

I believe I have the capacity to love greatly.

A successful life would be a creative, passionate and flexible one.

I have a very strong will.

I struggle well through adversity.

It is interesting to return to and look upon reflections such as these. All of these things, I believe are true — are still true. However, what’s even more interesting, is how many of those goals were actually accomplished.

Here are some of the goals I had written for myself in February.

Write Scar Tissue. I truly believe I have not written anything better. EVER. Everything that comes from Scar Tissue is so real, so honest, so human, and I’ve not once gotten that close to human, that close to myself, at any point before. Not only have I released 30 chapters of Scar Tissue, but these chapters, though some very short, some just a poem — were truly in development for a very long time. The amount of words I have written, typed, shared, about the topic of homelessness, is impressive, especially for me. I am incredibly proud of it. Especially in my bravery of sharing it.

Obtain a job in academia. In all honesty, I had almost given up on trying to find a job in the field I wanted to be in. I had almost given up on academia, on all of my dreams, on all of my goals, because I had such a hard time finding a job. I had applied for, God, probably thousands of jobs. Eventually I started applying for jobs in different fields, as heartbreaking it truly felt. I even went to a few interviews. Those rejections hurt even more. I felt as though I didn’t belong anywhere. And then it happened.

I have never felt this way before — like I’m exactly where I am meant to be. Not until now. Not until today. When I say I feel a real, true, deep love for both the students and colleagues I work with, I mean that. My heart is in it. I am so thankful that I am gifted this passion, this dedication, this devotion.

Participate in activist, more specifically, direct action and mutual aid.

 

I first heard this song, and many songs by Andra Day, at Parkview, one of the few homeless shelters I lived in last year. I didn’t realize it then, but there was a radical kind of love growing inside me — a seed planted. I learned so much about what it means to be an ally, to lift people up, and allow others to carry me too. It was through feats of direct action and mutual aid, both inside and outside the homeless community, that changed me. For good. It changed my soul. It changed the way I walk through the world. I give now, from a different place in my heart. I give from a place of unconditional love. I give from a place of mercy and grace.

Spiritual growth. Pray. Commune. Y’all have seen it here. Front and center. I am learning and exploring and being open with you, and I feel absolutely no shame in it.

Become more honest about my mental health. I started becoming honest about my mental health, probably with my mother, many many years ago, as a teenager. But it was a bout of depression, anxiety, coupled with new and old traumas, obsessive compulsive disorder, both new and inherited from my blood, that came, like a flood, a few years ago — that forced me to speak. Even now, it is difficult to express the dark, the scary, to other people. I do try, though. But it’s hard.

Gain financial intelligence. Frankly,  post-homeless life made my relationship with money very complicated. Every dollar spent felt like a day closer to the streets — to such a point that money, making any purchase, gave me extreme anxiety. I couldn’t leave a store with the item I came in for — regardless of how necessarily that item was. I could not get past that voice inside my head that rationalized going without — you don’t *need* dish soap to wash your dishes, you don’t *need* shampoo to wash your hair. I couldn’t make that purchase, and so, sometimes, I suffered for it.

Over time, and with therapy, I experimented with ways I can improve my financial intelligence in order to provide myself more comfort around the matter of money. Yes, I opened a savings account. Yes, I started working on my credit, too. One of the most obvious remedies is, of course, simply shopping around for the best bargains. But even more so, it’s avoiding the stores, it’s giving myself time to make a decision, too.

In fact, an example of this can be attributed to exactly what I did this evening. Believe it or not, but between my husband and I, we’ve probably received way over $250 worth of Amazon gift cards for Christmas. Yes, I know, we’re blessed asf.

Of course, we could have combined the amount and made a large, fun purchase, such as the Nintendo Switch, but instead, we did something that would not only serve us financially, but also emotionally.

We decided to invest a chunk of those gifts in re-stocking our pantry for the New Year using Amazon Pantry. Not only are these prices better than anything I could get at my local drug and grocery stores, but it provides me the opportunity to buy in bulk and buy ahead of time. This will allow us peace of mind and a cushion going into 2019.

In addition to that, we also treated ourselves to gifts that we truly wanted. For me that was painting supplies, while for my husband, that was D&D starter sets and dice. We also left a large chunk of a (gift-card) balance in our account, for another time.

Speaking of balance, I think it was and is balance that I most needed to learn. I needed to find a way to give myself permission to feel joy, to spoil myself, to remind myself that I do deserve nice things sometimes, like f*cking soap, while also making responsible choices that will provide me the comfort and safety that I clearly need.

Life is so hard, ain’t it? But we’re so strong. Let’s go into 2019 kicking ass!

What goals did you achieve this year? What kind of growth did you experience in 2018?

Pooped. // #BLOGMAS 2018, Day #18 – 19

I’m one tired gal.

One pooped out party animal.

I say that because I attended yet another holiday party today, and I’ve just about jiggled the very last of my bells. Today is also officially my last day of work until after New Years.

These last few days have been all about tightening up some loose ends, while taking a bunch of work and family drama to the face. Suffice to say, I think I will need to save tonight’s Blogmas post for tomorrow. (FYI, tomorrow’s topic will be all about goals and growth I’ve made in 2018.)

Sorry I wasn’t able to deliver tonight. Stay tuned for an update tomorrow.

I hope you’re all surviving the Christmas blues, getting all your wrapping done, and overall, not losing your minds just yet. We’re almost there, yall.

 

Just a poem. // #BLOGMAS 2018, Day #17

They let the children out of school too early.

I left the Christmas shopping till too late.
Each day we had a holiday excursion,
Which gave us the entire week to wait in line for
Movies by Disney,
Gift-wrapping by Lord & Taylor,
And everyone’s restrooms.

On Christmas Eve we started to assemble
The easy-to-assemble telescope
And fire truck with forty-seven pieces.
By midnight it was plain there was no hope without
An astronomer,
A mechanical engineer,
And two psychiatrists.

We rose at dawn to three boys singing Rudolph.
We listened numbly to their shouts of glee.
The kitten threw up tinsel on the carpet.
The fire truck collided with the tree, requiring

One rug shampoo,
Several Band-aids,
And Scotch before breakfast.

I bought my husband shirts – wrong size, wrong colors,
And ties he said he couldn’t be caught dead in.
I’d hinted Saint Laurent or something furry.
He bought me flannel gowns to go to bed in, also
A Teflon frying pan,
A plaid valise,
And The Weight Watchers Cook Book.

The turkey was still frozen at eleven.
At noon my eldest boy spilled Elmer’s glue.
At five I had a swell Excedrin headache,
The kind that lasts till January two…but
Merry Christmas
And Happy New Year,
I think.

Judith Viorst

 

There are many reasons to give, but this is the most important one. // #BLOGMAS 2018, Day #15 – 16

For some reason, a lot of people would prefer to find many reasons not to give.

Perhaps they don’t believe their actions matter, which is a common belief, I think.

Perhaps they feel a sort of resentment in their hearts. I have suffered, why should you not? If I must suffer, why must you not? And, truly, in those instances, in those feelings, I think, we have not humbled themselves.

We forget sometimes that our reality is a collective effort. Your good fortunes did not come into fruition due to only your specific actions. All of our actions, all of our thoughts, all of our efforts, made your reality. Frankly, we like to take all the credit for the victories, but are reluctant to take credit for the failures. Perhaps that is why we tell poor people to pick themselves up by their bootstraps. To hustle. To stop begging.

I was that person at one point in my life! I was probably greatly blinded by my privileges that I didn’t realize those privileges came from somewhere. I only saw the world through the eyes of a person who did not fail, who did not experience defeat. Who, well, always had their needs met! Always had comfort and safety. Always had a home. Always had a strong, yet elastic, support system.

It wasn’t until I did not have that, that I realized how fragile and unforgiving life is. And, really, how much autonomy we really have — not much. We have less control than most of us like to lie to ourselves about. Everything can disappear in an instance, and a lot of the painful crises we must face in our lives, will have nothing to do with us — our will that makes it so, or doesn’t make it do.

I guess my point is that,

Because life is fragile, because life is unforgiving, because we have less control than we’d like to admit,

Because we survive, we thrive, and because we grow, not alone — but by the efforts of others,

We must give, we must care, we must love each other.