Unexpected Care Packs (A Call to Action).

I added a stamped envelope, pen, and paper: inviting them to ’write to someone who misses you.”

Every time I see someone panhandling, sleeping on the street, or hitchiking with a large pack my heart catches. I think back to my long hours of waiting at bus stops in the cold, snow, and rain. I sat watching hundreds of cars go by with only the driver inside. I was resentful then and still often feel guilty if I drive anywhere alone in my minivan.

I watched the people pass by as I sat. I was hungry, tired, cold and wet. I never asked anyone for anything, but I wished desperately that someone would offer me a kind word, a snack, or a ride. I imagined sliding into a warm car and being driven in comfort before being dropped off close to my house. It rarely if ever happened.

I know what it feels like to wonder where I would sleep at night. I know what kind of desperate obsession hunger becomes when you can see others eating things you cannot have. I can easily disregard the choices that may have led people to the point where they are now: standing with a cardboard sign. I simply see a person suffering, that could benefit from any kindness.

Nowadays I rarely carry cash. All my income is direct-deposited and I don’t often need cash. In those moments when I see someone who is so very much in need, I often wish I had something to give them.

I have recently hit upon an idea I am excited about: care packs. The concept is simple; you buy a box of zipper bags and pack them full of small items that a person living rough or down-on-their-luck might need. You then keep them in your car. When you come across someone in need, you give them a care pack instead of, or in addition to, just handing out cash.

Something like this would have made a world of difference for me. I’ll include a list of items that might be good at the bottom of this post.

This is an article about some people in Jacksonville that have been helping people in this way. https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.jacksonville.com/amp/5556519002

Here is my list: Snack bars, protein snacks, rasins, hand sanitizer, face masks, tissues or toilet paper, liquid soap, shampoo, toothbrush/toothpaste, socks, deodorant, soap and washcloth or wipes, a trash bag, a few dollars or a gift card to a grocery store or fast food. * I pack a couple with some feminine hygiene, too. In case I meet a person who needs those.

Drop a comment below with your thoughts? Share pictures if you make some packs of your own!

Reflection on Courage

Age has granted me the clarity needed to understand something that has plagued my understanding since I was very young. Even as a six-year-old I remember watching people hurt, and watching those hurt people turn away and push away those people they longed to be close to.

I understood, as a teenager, that the reason for this was primarily fear of rejection. Never short on hubris or words I have attempted many times, with varying degrees of success, to open their eyes to the fact that they hold the power to end their own pain, and the pain of others, by reaching out to them. By turning toward people and sharing their fears and passions we create connections that heal old wounds and repair burnt bridges. I explain, fruitlessly, that by sharing our fears and passions we open the door to others to do the same, bolstering them by our courage.

What age has finally granted me is the knowledge that reaching out to others when one is afraid requires a profound amount of courage that most people cannot summon. And, that when a person (of any age) can and does summon the courage, one must act to recognize it for the bravery it is, no matter the outcome.

Vulnerability is so courageous when it comes from someone who has been hurt. We have all been hurt.

Getting Serious About the Memoir Project.

For those that don’t know, I am writing a memoir. I made the decision to write it when I was 8 years old and have even begun the writing process twice. Both attempts ended with the destruction of the computers the drafts were saved on. This time, I am saving it in a cloud, and on several devices. It will be completed.

The story will follow my first 18 years. It will not be easy for some people to read and will be a long and thoughtful process for me as well. Though those closest to me will not be surprised by the story arc, there will be details and pieces that surprise everyone.

Though I am open about my experience of abuse and neglect at the hands of my birth-mother and her sister with anyone who will listen, there are still many details I have yet to share with anyone. There are pieces of my story, details of my response to the events of my past, and aspects of the healing process that I have kept away. I have been waiting for this project. I plan to pour those things into my memoir with the intent of inspiring those who are seeking to heal themselves.

For accountability’s sake, I want to share that my goal is to continue to work steadily towards completion. I hope to have a first draft completed by my birthday in December. From there I fully intend to seek a traditional publishing contract until I am successful. I expect I will continue to revise, revision and review endlessly.

I have completed a prologue and 3 chapters so far. It’s getting real. I hope you’ll follow along with me on my journey as I work through the process of finally completing this project. I have carried it in my heart for 30 years. It is now time to bring it forth.

Because I have this website, I will share useful resources and other helpful material I have found and collected. I am an avid reader of memoirs and will review my favorites as well.

Thank you for reading, and Welcome!

Finding yourself: some practical tools and advice.

So much of my growth and healing has been part of the process of learning about myself.

As a child, my life and choices were controlled. Fear and circumstance were used to keep me from wearing clothes that fit, from feeling safe or secure anywhere, and from making even the simplest decisions for myself. When I was able to leave and control my environment, I was ill-suited to make good decisions. I remember watching a movie in a theater and someone in the film asked “how do you like your eggs?”

It was an epiphany moment for me because I could not answer the question. I decided that I needed to learn more about what I liked: food, clothing, hair, and any number of other desires I had never been allowed to choose needed to be something I explored and began making with intention.

I went wild with clothing, cut my hair short (I hated it), and began to cook foods in different ways to determine what I actually liked. As it turns out, poached eggs are my preference, followed by soft boiled.

There are many tools that have helped me to learn about myself and begin to honor who I am and what I want.

For those of us with remembered trauma, the ACES quiz can help you understand your experience and maintain awareness of adverse effects from our experiences. Once you have your score, this article can help you understand the study behind it, and how the results can inform your future. Did you know that people with scores above 4 are more likely to suffer from lung disease? Healthcare providers should know your score and keep an eye on issues that could be affected by your experiences.

The Myers-Briggs personality type identifier first taught me that there are types. The 16 unique combinations of Introvert/Extrovert, Sensing/iNtuiting, Thinking/Feeling, and Judging/Perceiving are guides to teach us about how we take in information, and how we process it. It helps to learn that each of your type letters can be understood as being on a scale: It’s not E or I, but where on that spectrum you primarily function. It’s also important to realize that we are not always functioning at our best. Our inferior functions (the opposite of our primary functioning) helps us understand how we are likely to react in stressful or traumatic situations.

The Five Love Languages quizzes have helped me to understand how I try to show love to others, how I want to receive love, and how others do the same. The results also helped me to understand the disconnect I have experienced in some past relationships that failed, and what characteristics might be more compatible with future partners. There are quizzes you can help your children take, too. Those results gave us all a framework for discussing what we each want and need, and how to best show each other how much we care. I love hugs, but one of my children really prefers words of affirmation to physical touch. This knowledge has helped our family grow in understanding and grace for one another.

The revelation in the movie theater started me on a path of self-discovery I still walk today. I learned to give myself permission to let go of clothing, food, behaviors, and other choices I did not like. I also learned to advocate for myself in situations where I was not getting what I wanted. It was OK to ask a waitress to correct something if I didn’t like what was served. It is actually important to tell others, with words, if they are doing something I don’t like. I have learned to be firm while continuing to display compassion for myself and others through my self-affirming words. I have also learned that it is kinder to be honest, even if it might change outcomes or cause others to have feelings.

“I don’t want to eat this.”

“I don’t like the way I look in this.”

“I want something warmer” “…softer,” “…cleaner.”

These changes have given me the confidence I lacked as a child. These insights have led me to deeper relationships with those I love and helped me to heal some of the trauma I will always carry.

What do you do to learn about yourself? What moments have left you with a new perspective on yourself or others? Comment below and let me know.