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.

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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

 

Humble Yourself // #BLOGMAS 2018, Day #14

I think gratefulness, gratitude, and humbling one’s self is all about self awareness. We can become more self aware by consciously, continuously, actively participating in self reflection. For me, cultivating these traits is a simple thing. All I have to do is look around.

Although there is power and purpose in doing this 365 days a year, there is still magic in doing it now. There is magic in a ripple effect.

I could, at any given moment, have less. I’ve had less before — much less. I’ve had so much less that I didn’t even have a place to live.

Then, there is the terrifying realization that I could have even less than the less I once had before, which, in that moment, I felt I could not survive. So, there is always the possibility of not surviving something worse (such as street homelessness in the dead of winter, coupled with crippling mental illness — or worse, I mean there is always worse.)

Of course, I could have more. So much more that what I have now could feel insignificant, instead of how enormous, how magnificent, it feels right now.

Perspective tells me, life experience tells me, that I can lose it all again.

In that thought, in that merciless reality, in that calmness, I ground myself with the realization that it is only this moment that really matters.

If this is to be true, if nothing is more significant than right now, there is no pain or suffering greater than right now, then we have no choice but to humble ourselves. Because of how fleeting this moment is, no moment is more important.

If there is nothing more important than the words I type right now, than the creaking of these floor boards, than the song that plays in the background, than the tapping of one’s foot against a beat

— then there is no reason not to extend kindness to others.

There is no reason not to serve others.

There is no reason to not exemplify grace and mercy.

There is no reason not to love.

 

 

Getting into the Christmas spirit and writing letters to loved ones. // #BLOGMAS 2018, Day #12 – 13

Dear Scribblers,

Whoops — I missed a day again! Unfortunately, yesterday, I had another busy day at the office. As we wrap-up the semester, there is quite a bit of following up and tightening up any loose ends before we close up shop for Christmas and New Years. I am taking a long vacation starting next week Wednesday, so anything that needs to get done before 2019, well…it more or less needs to get done now.

So, as you can imagine, there hasn’t been a whole lot of writing going on. Usually, the final hour before I leave campus, that I put aside for writing, simply didn’t happen yesterday. Well, forget yesterday, I say! Because now, I have a solid 45 minutes to dedicate to everything Blogmas, and Blogmas I shall do!

Believe it or not, but before I hopped on WordPress, I spent the last 2 hours writing letters. These letters will get slipped inside Christmas cards. Hopefully, at least SOME of these cards will make it’s way to friends and family sometime next week. Just now, I wrote a letter to my grandparents on both sides of the family, as well as my parents. I also printed out a poem to slide in there as well, although I doubt all this paper will fit in the tiny greeting cards I bought. We shall see!

I think writing letters is a fantastic way to not only improve a simple greeting card, but also to reflect upon the year, upon your relationships, and just dedicate a little bit of time and attention to loved ones.

I love writing personal, intimate letters, and I especially love to receive them.  I am always moved by a thoughtful, written letter, that truly endorses the love, support, and kindness that I share in somebody’s life — which I think we all deserve. Not to mention, there is nothing more exciting than receiving a surprise Christmas (or Birthday!) card in the mail. It is a wonderful treat to receive, once arriving home, after a long day.

So, even if you can’t afford gifts, write a letter. Send a card. It means a lot.

And, believe me, I’ll no doubt put you in the Christmas spirit.