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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Sunday Scribbles — December 02, 2018

Hello gang,

I know it’s been nearly a month since the last Sunday Scribbles, but hey, at least it showed up eventually, and better yet, it showed up on a Sunday! 🙂 I plan to do quite a bit of writing tonight, so expect a flood to your Reader! The way I look at it is this: It’s much better to be inconsistent than to give up all together. That’s how I feel about writing, blogging, and, well, life in general. Sometime the tide takes it’s sweet time coming in, but as long as you catch that wave, you’ll keep moving.

Before I get into my usual ramble, I have some kinda-sorta exciting news to share.

BLOGMAS!

Yup, I’ll be jingling my bells in your face for 25 consecutive days. 😉 Technically, 24? I missed yesterday! Bad Jocelyn!

I hope you’re ready.

I hope I can deliver. LOL!

In other news, my life has been blossoming in all areas, in all directions. Truly. There is tremendous mercy and grace, just overflowing in my life. Sometimes I am unsure how I should be reacting to all of this, or, if I am even supposed to react at all. Do I just let it all unfold and flow over me? Is it supposed to make sense? The human experience is a funny thing, isn’t it?

Every day, I am learning much about myself, about my future, about what it means to be here, now, and alive.

Last week, during a board meeting, I got a glimpse into my future. It felt much like peering through a window; like flirting with my future. We were discussing the challenges of working in public service, of being in academia, of being an educator. The purpose, or goal, of my department is to tackle these challenges and, really, build community, heart, among each other. Speaking so plainly, so honestly, with people whom I figure I’ll be spending the next 10, 15, possibly 20 years with, sort of, further solidified my already solid commitment to this. Each day, I feel more and more eager to be here, to serve, and to truly love those around me — not only the students and colleagues whom I have been blessed to cross paths with, but truly, everyone.

I want to talk a bit about Mark. Mark is 19 years old. He struts into the office. No, but really, a literal strut. He pops in about once a week. He is all smiles, talent, confidence, and, truly, light beaming from his cheeks. Mark and I sat down a few weeks ago and discussed publishing his poems online. Let me tell you, anything can happen, if you simply believe in those who need believing in. His poem went up on Hub Pages, then quickly featured on Letter Pile, and not shortly after, a big, bright, and beautiful comment — positive feedback — a small, but much needed push to keep going, appeared under his poem. I believe in Mark, and I am genuinely excited to read his short story, that I hope he will deliver next week.

I hope to continue to share stories of the angels in my life.

Bye for now, scribblers.

 

Sunday Scribbles — October 11, 2018

Today, a colleague spoke wisdom into a student whom just discovered her passion — her purpose in life. The student yearned to help and understand people. As we all do, I suppose, but for her, she wants to go a bit further with that and become a psychologist. I saw my husband in her words.

My colleague, a single mother, an educator and passionate academic for 25 years, carried her first and only child through a doctoral program. That child is now sitting across from me on our office couch as we have this conversation. Without realizing so, she was speaking wisdom into all of us in that room.

She said, “You can, and should, have multiple passions in your life. You just have to find out which of those passions is your purpose.” She also hinted that passions and purposes can change. And, of course, they will, because we change as the world changes around us. What matters is we love and are dedicated to what we do, that we do it well, with our whole heart, and we honor our place among each other.

I see much of myself in her, and in that student too.

And, as the storm rolled in over Manhattan Beach, we communed over the future that we, so beautifully, began to create.

Sunday Scribbles — September 30, 2018

“Sometimes, I might have a hard time coming to a decision. But once I do, come to that decision, that is — I’m good.”

It was a few minutes after five, and a few colleagues and I were gulping down the last bit of cold coffee from the coffee machine.

Strange, I thought. “I am exactly the same way. Once I make a decision, that’s it. I’m committed, and nothing can sway that decision.”

Considering that, just five months ago, I didn’t know any of these folks, they sure know a lot about me now. They know I was homeless, just six months ago. They also know about what I’m up to outside of work — what I’m working on, what I write, what my life is like. They know what video games I play. They know my husband’s name. Where I get my pizza, what I like on that pizza, and how close I live to Pier 69. They know quite a bit about my past, and perhaps, even about my future.

This month has been all about realizing my place in the world — my small little space in this world.

The universe is like a chessboard, and my piece was very strategically placed right…exactly…here.

“Perhaps there is a very important reason why you found yourself on this campus, in this office, at this time.”

A workmate takes a sip of her coffee. We are situated across from each other on the couch.

“We know it was, in part, for you to find the Graduate Center. To find that Doctorate program.”

Although I did not say it aloud, I thought about how significant these people are, sitting across from me. Our paths and all those around us are about to become intricately intertwined with each another.

I knew it, right away, that I had stepped into my future. That my children would one day run through these halls. That I was making history.

Sunday Scribbles — August 31, 2018

At 17, I worked at a Yogurtland on Kalakaua Boulevard in Waikiki. At 18, I moved, around the corner, to the Pacific Beach Hotel, where I (attempted to) sell vacation real estate for a few short months. Eventually I ditched it, along with community college, and took a plane to New York City where I enrolled in a 4-year program. Thus also began my relationship with scummy landlords – I rented my first apartment with a hole in the ceiling.

I remember, then, catching an early morning bus from the leeward side of the island, sometimes meeting the sunrise off the horizon of Waikiki Bay.

This Thursday, I walked along Manhattan Beach before stopping to stare at the horizon. What a journey it’s been.

August is beaming, still.

August is very me. Born in August; August is persistent. I am persistent.

Oven-quality air. Tan lines. Through scattered thunderstorms, the sun does not let up. Perhaps it’s an eagerness to exit this long and agonizing summer with a big ol’ bang.

It was mid-90s. I was already burnt. Still, I headed to the farm for our final faculty harvest of the season. Kicking a few crab shells off the pier, sweat and salt water, with a few bunches of chard, hot peppers, round cucumbers, and an ugly but delicious heirloom tomato. I tossed my bounty in a pot, and now I have coconut curry tonight.

I came home last night feeling like I was finally moving in. The woman staring back at me, this girl in the mirror, she’s finally walking beside me — no longer running from the future — no longer gripping at the past.

On Wednesday, I was, quite casually actually, offered a fellowship grant from another department.

As I’ve mentioned before, I, out of the damn blue, landed this incredible union job. Then this. It came at a surprised considering I’ve only been here for a few short months. In all honestly, as blessed I am, as happy as I feel, as much as I could literally cry about it — I felt doubt.

I felt scared. That God was teasing me. That it would be taken from me.

I was unsure if I could have, if I deserved, in fact, the life I envisioned. I wasn’t sure if I deserved this.

Perhaps I didn’t pray enough. I didn’t work hard enough. I wasn’t cut out for it.

Can I do what I need to do to see this through? Would the universe thrust me in the direction I so desperately wanted to go?

Then, through this impromptu offer, I was given a reminder:

The universe would, if I forced it to. If I required it to.

I do deserve this.
I can do this.

Regardless of everything that has happened and will happen.

I deserve to heal. I deserve blessings. I deserve my vision.

I can greet my vision with unwavering willpower. I can commune with God. God can live through me, if I wish. I can relight a flame borrowed from yesterday. I can illuminate tomorrow.

Sunday Scribbles — August 19, 2018

I’ve arrived at my 28th birthday. I think I’ve finally recovered from my 5-year-long quarter life crisis. I have cake to thank for that. And ice cream, of course. Can you guess how many times I’ve eaten cake and ice cream this weekend? A grand total of 3 times since last night. I would do it all over again if I didn’t have to worry about the consequences I’d face tomorrow at work. Oh, dairy cows, oh lactose intolerance, why do you hate me so?

I had an interesting conversation with a new friend tonight. He asked me if I believed in prayer. I said yes and kind of explained to him how that answer came to be, over the last year or so. I told him about this blog I read, about a woman dying from cancer. She considered prayer as a way to “strike a bargain” with God. And, you know, it kind of blew my mind, and I still think of this concept, even today. I prayed, very hard, for very long, for an opportunity to do good work, to become a vessel of change. And, if I was given the opportunity, I would make that work my mission. I would put my heart in it and give my everything to it.

And, well, that’s how I ended up where I am today supporting educators who seek better ways to teach underprivileged students from underserved communities — basically better ways to teach students like me, and all those like me, who will come after me.

This is how I stumbled upon, what I believe will be my specialty, which is teaching developmental writing to those who struggle with dyslexia or other learning difficulties, like myself, and finding strength and empowerment through the personal essay. My boss recently gifted me a book on just that, and now, it’s like all the pieces of the puzzle are finally coming together.

Clearly, I am very passionate. If you haven’t already gathered that.

I live and work in extremes. I’m always all in. Or, all the way out. I can’t go half-way on anything. It has to be an obsession.

Perhaps this is why Scar Tissue is so hard for me. I am truly suffering over this project, and have been for some time now. Not only is it emotionally painful, but I am also doubting myself in big ways.

Am I writing what I should write?

Is this story going in the right direction?

Should I be less of a poet and more of a news reporter?

I think it’s time to return to those few important questions for any writer:

Why am I writing?

For whom am I writing?

What do I want to say?

How can I clarify my meaning?

How can I identify and correct errors that confuse my meaning?

These are important, yet simple questions that help us get closer to our writing goals, to our purpose, to our meaning. They’re also, to no surprise, the foundation of developmental writing.

What makes this process so painful is that, when we ask ourselves these questions, when I ask myself these questions about Scar Tissue, I am inevitably forced to kill off a few of my darlings, and, like any writer, I really don’t want to. But, I think I’ll have to. Eventually.

Sunday Scribbles — August 12, 2018

Although I slept in this morning, I still woke up in a bit of a slump. I was sad that the weekend had, once again, passed me by with very little notice to me. Do you ever wish you could just stop time? That you could relish in this moment for a little bit longer? I do.

Thomas dragged me out of the house and into the middle of a monsoon. Not on purpose. At least I don’t think so. Perhaps that was his plan all along — to walk all but six blocks in the middle of heavy rain and winds — to watch me wade through that quickly-formed river along Shore Road, without even the sensible option of covered shoes.

I’m hardly complaining. I arrived home to a freshly-pressed jersey robe; still warm from the dryer.

How was your week? Did you do anything exciting over the weekend? Was it productive? Relaxing? For me, it was a bit of both. I continue to feel grateful for my 3-day weekend. How blessed am I to have enough time and energy to write? To blog and spend time with my readers? To share what matters to me?

This evening, I feel comforted by the roof over my head, the food in my fridge, and the peace in my heart.

Highlights of the Week

After ignoring the advice from a most sensible source, my dearest friend Nicole, I finally opened a credit-building CD savings account. This was long overdue.

My only other option, in regards to credit-building, is a secured credit card. I figure I’ll probably do that eventually, but it’s not my top priority or first choice. I see the benefits of having a credit card, and eventually building a large-enough credit line for emergencies, but that’s not likely something I’ll do very soon.

I’m also on my way to refinancing and paying down my student loans. I printed out the necessary applications and expect to mail them out this week.

These are extremely big achievements for me. None of which I expected would happen just six months after leaving a homeless shelter. It represents hope. I can continue to look towards the future and see possibility and resolution.

What’s Next?

The next Sunday Scribbles is scheduled on my birthday. Yup, that’s right! I’m turning the ripe ol’ age of 28 on the 19th. Terrifying isn’t it? I feel like I’ve been terrified of getting older since the day I was born. Aging scares me. Something about running out of time, about missing “it”, really freaks me out. Maybe that’s why I write so much about it — my life that is. Because if I don’t think about life, if I don’t write, if I don’t reflect, if I don’t document this moment, I’ll get lost forever.

In other news, in much bigger news, in fact, I’m taking a break from Scar Tissue. My most recent chapter, Season, will likely be the last one you’ll see from me for a while. I feel sad about this. I really think this is my best writing. I think it’s the most important writing I’ve ever done. But, because I am reliving these experiences, because I’m reliving those really painful moments, writing Scar Tissue is making it very hard for me to move forward, to move on, and to heal. At first I thought it would be cathartic, and in a way, for a while, it has been. But, over time, the process has just become very mentally and emotionally taxing.

What’s interesting is, sometimes, when homeless people finally get housed, when they leave the homeless shelter, they try to leave that life behind. They want nothing to do with homelessness and other homeless people. I didn’t quite take that approach. Recovery is very complicated. As you’ve probably read in a few of my chapters, any ounce of “normalcy” is extremely important while homeless. Even now, it still is. I’m still, even now, struggling with my identity and who I was before homelessness happened. When I think about who I am, I’m still largely identifying with homelessness, with being homeless in the past. But I am not just formally homeless. That has nothing to do with my personality or who I am as a person.

How do I get past that? Well, I need to take a moment to think about where I’m headed; where I’ve been and where I want to go. I have to think back before homelessness was a part of my narrative. Who was that person? What did her future look like before homelessness was a part of her narrative?

I’m starting to set goals and reflect on those goals again. One of my largest goals at the beginning of 2018 was to land a job in academia. Now that I am actually working in academia again, I also find myself in a position of having a mentor who can guide me along this path. I have enough security, comfort and space for growth and I want to ensure that I continue to take the proper steps in order to cultivate that growth later on down the line.

I want to be on my way to what’s next. I hope you’ll still be here once I make it.

Love to you all.

Thank you for everything.

Truly.