Minimizing – Everything must go! 

Standard

Today’s scripture was “with God all things are possible” but I wanted to read the full chapter so I could see the context of what this snippet was written about.  I’ve noticed that it’s easy to pull half a sentence from the Bible and put it on cards and bracelets and other material items to sell to Christians who want to shine bright that we love Jesus.  I’m a frugal person but I’ve sure bought 2 or 3 cross necklaces already… so I find it interesting that the context was referring to selling every material possession and giving to the poor.. houses and everything and then follow Jesus.  That’s pretty much how I was living before I started attending church.. I just called my higher power the universe at that time.  

​Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”  

Yesterday’s scripture was this… 

And I kid you not… knowing there would be homeless people in New Orleans, rushing to get dressed because I was late meeting a friend, something spoke to me and said… clean your closet .. you have a closet of clothes that just sit there.. sweaters that could keep people warm.. give them out while you’re out and about.  So I grabbed 3 sweaters.. that still fit.. that aren’t old… that I spent good money on and that I even liked.. because I don’t wear them.. it doesn’t get cold here to wear them often enough to have that many sweaters and I have a way to stay warm. I have a home. I have a van with heat.  Even though we have nice weather.. the temp drops at night and even at 50 degrees.. while staying still sleeping on a bench .. it’s cold.  I didn’t want it to be the focus of our day out.. but if the occasion came up I’d like to have them with me to hand out.. so I packed my day pack and set out.  

But when the young man heard the saying, he went away sad, for he was one who had great possessions. 

One of my sweaters was a really thick warm wool gypsy sweater.  I bought it thinking I’d back pack Europe in it.  It was too thick to take up that much room.  I’ve never worn it but I love it and it cost way more than I usually spend on clothing for myself.  I kept it because I didn’t want to admit I’d wasted my money on that impulse buy.  

Jesus said to his disciples, “Most certainly I say to you, a rich man will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven with difficulty.  Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into God’s Kingdom.”   

This may become my favorite scripture.  I know from experience that when I stopped chasing money and material things.. I gained so much happiness and love for life.  I started seeing beauty in the smallest things and having so much more time to just be in the moment of that beauty.  I see people chasing more money, more stuff, more more more… and I wonder what it’s all for… they really seem to advance.. I’ve never met a single person that chased all that and became a millionaire that didn’t have to work… if anything they work harder to maintain the level they grow accustomed to… and still come out stressing money.  It’s a very vicious cycle that spends all of our precious life… causing it to fly by.

Wednesdays scripture talked about what we bind on earth shall be waiting for us in heaven. If we spend all our time chasing money.. we will never feel like we have any to just give away.. or time to sew seeds of love… spending time with people. We don’t even have time to spend with people that we do know and love.  Quite crazy really.

When the disciples heard it, they were exceedingly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”  Looking at them, Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 

And there we have it.. Jesus was referring to the fact that with God.. we can give away our possessions.. we can reduce ourselves to nothing but time to follow Him.. we strip ourselves of all these other worries because He will take care of us.  If you read my frugal blogs.. you’ll see plenty of testimony supporting this.  Where I traveled 10 countries and 24 states on a wing and a prayer… just knowing that no matter what.. I would be okay.. shedding the fears that imprisoned me in the symptoms of my ptsd… and here I am .. still surviving.. still clothed… still well fed… too well fed… loved by many and now giving glory to Jesus Christ.  I still stress paying my bills to keep my house… if I became a complete nomad I wouldn’t worry about the house.. I’d be completely at the mercy of Him… and carefree.  It seems like the disciples did just that… became nomads and followed Jesus…

  Then Peter answered, “Behold, we have left everything, and followed you. What then will we have?”  Jesus said to them, “Most certainly I tell you that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on the throne of his glory, you also will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  Everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive one hundred times, and will inherit eternal life.  But many will be last who are first; and first who are last.

The Bible tells us that this is the will of God.  Mother Theresa dedicated her life and everything she had to serving Him thru her movement within time help others.  To love complete strangers.  

As we were driving down canal st to go home.. we stopped at a light where a man in a wheelchair held a sign.  We handed him Amber’s last beignet and I frantically pulled the sweaters out the backpack while sitting in the driver’s seat before the light turned green.  I handed him the thick wool hoodie and wished him well… I watched as the faces above him sitting in the street car looked down and smiled… and I prayed that they were moved to touch one person before the day was over.  That’s all it takes to be the change I want to see in the world.  One act at a time.  

Jesus.. help me see the way in which I can be a blessing to others today.  Lord continue to direct me.  Give me the courage to live with the action that supports what I believe your will for me is here on this earth.  Thank you for the treasures that I received from giving yesterday.. the fullness in my heart and the desire to do more.  Thank you for the confirmation that you moved thru me to do your work. I had no idea it would be 30 degrees this morning. God please be with all those that are homeless thru this winter.  Change the hearts of those who pass them and feel resentment because they had to feel guilty for not stopping and helping. Those that shun and look down on them.. or form their assumptions about what led them to be where they are in order to justify why they don’t offer a hand or an ear.  For all we know.. they could be homeless because they already shed all of their worldly possessions in order to follow you… God.. thank you for this 21 day plan of reading scripture that is teaching me to love like you.  Thank you thank you thank you… for I am finding the real message… not just parts of scripture that sound good or feel good.. but your whole message and desire for me.  I love you.  Amen. 

Matthew 19:21‭-‬30 WEB

http://bible.com/206/mat.19.21-30.WEB

Advertisements

2015: Welcome to ENGLAND! Week 1 – London and the Coast

Standard

Monday, November 30, 2015

  Wow, it has been a while since I have written a blog.  It’s been pretty non stop since the traveling started.  November 11th I boarded a plane in NY to Gatwick airport in London, England.  Pretty scary really, given that I only had a one way, one time passport that was taken from me at the UK Border.  A lot of people think that this trip should be easy for me, but the truth of the matter is, when I left England I was 16.  The only time that I have flown international, and come back to England has been when my mother arranged and paid for it.  My dad, or partner at the time, brought me to the airport, and family was waiting on the other side for my arrival.  I had never counted on myself, solely, to navigate my way using public transportation.  I’d never had to trust myself to make sure that I was okay, and would arrive where I needed to arrive, and needless to say, I was pretty nervous.  All of this is really outside of my comfort zone.

Luckily for me, I do have family in this country, and my first initial destination was to my Aunt’s house.  In some ways, there was comfort in knowing that, and in others there was a different kind of fear.  The last time I had seen my aunt was when I was 15.  We’d had very limited contact even when we were in touch, and next to none for the last 20 years.  My cousins are grown adults, and I knew almost nothing about my Uncle Paul.  Being invited to stay with them in Christchurch was financially supportive of my traveling frugal blog, but emotionally, it was a risk that I really didn’t talk much about.

Hattan Hostel has been pretty successful so far, and I’m extremely grateful for all of Jackie’s hard work on site.  The bookings in Mississippi have slowed down, I assume because it is winter time, but I did expect some traffic for snowbird season.  The weather there is in the 70s.. maybe people aren’t sick of the cold yet.  The price point is as low as it could possibly be, so at this point its time to turn it over to my higher power, and know that there is a reason for it to be vacant.

So far England has been amazing.  Better than I anticipated.  Spending a day in London was something I have done with my dad as a small child, but I don’t remember anything about it.  This trip was with my cousin, and her first time sight seeing the city also.  We woke up around 5am to catch a bus into Bournemouth from Christchurch.  From Bournemouth we took a coach for 2 hours into the City of London, and began our rainy but fun day seeing the sights.  I’ll write a specific guide to seeing London on a Dime once I have finished writing this overall update.

Altogether I stayed in the south of England for a week.  I got to spend quality time with family, see London, spend a day at Durdle Door .. a BEAUTIFUL landscape of cliffs at the Southern end of England, and become acclimated to the British way of life.

The total out of pocket from NYC to the end of my first week in England, flight cost included is:

Flight – $286
Snacks for traveling – $7.25
England socket converter to charge my electronics – $10
Bus from London to Bournemouth – $22
Wok and Roll lunch – $6
Train fare from Bournemouth to Christchurch – $5
Breakfast before London – $4
Lodging with family was free
Food for the most part was free – we brought lunch and dinner with us to London and to Durdle Door
Return trip to London via coach – $35
Sight seeing hop on hop off bus tour of London – $45 (something I usually wouldn’t pay for, but given the rain, it was well worth the free bus rides to each attraction, and the free River Thames cruise that allowed me to get some amazing photos while having shelter to duck under.. not to mention the dry comedy of the boat guide)
Teatime – $4
Shopping for a scarf and hat – $12
Postcards and stamps – $20

Week 1 – $456 ($170 without the flight)

From “Fuck You” to “Thank You Cancer”

Standard

Six months sober, and divorced… A few days after my final goodbye to my four year old son, I hit my knees.

the second cocktail of chemo drugs caused a reaction and hair loss

 No, I wasn’t praying.. I was in so much pain that my body collapsed into a ball without much thought.  One minute I was texting “sweet dreams” and by the time she responded I wrote back “I think I’m going to the hospital”.  I felt like I was going to DIE; like a gremlin and the monster from the Alien were doing the monster mash right there in my gut.  I panicked, not only because of the pain but because I lived alone.  What if I got worse before I could alert help? One of my fears of being alone coming to life.  I called my friend asking her if she could please take me to the hospital.  She asked what’s wrong and I told her “please just come quickly.” I debated calling an ambulance but I didn’t want the attention of the street.. My self consciousness still winning, even in an emergency.

  By the time she arrived I had slithered down the 18 stairs from my raised house and was sitting balled up on the bottom step counting the hour long milliseconds that it took for her to arrive.  Once at the hospital, it took 45 minutes to be seen, and another 30 to get any kind of pain relief.  They wanted to do testing first.  I can’t say I blame them, I’d hit every emergency room in the area in pain at one point or another, seeking pain medicine to get high. In the moment tho, I hated every last one of them.  Restraining myself from punching holes in the wall felt impossible.  Laying waiting in our little cubical of the ER, I felt the mess starting to kick in.  The edge of the cliff began to get distant, and the doctor came and asked my friend to step outside.  She returned in tears, the doctor behind her looking somewhat apprehensive.  They told me they had found a tumor… A 19cm tumor wrapped around my left ovary and Fallopian tube.  It was the size of a 5 month pregnancy.  I remember the doctor looking at me like I was crazy.  “You didn’t have any symptoms before now?” He asked.  I thought about it and told him that I did have an increase in pain but I assumed it was because I was sober, and I could actually feel pain now, or maybe because I had started walking and my body was adjusting.

Pictures from the initial surgery

A symptom of PTSD is unmanaged dissociation.  Everyone does it on some level whether it’s entering auto pilot while driving,  and you end up wherever you are going but you don’t remember getting there.  That’s the mild side of the unmanaged dissociation spectrum.  Extreme sides of the spectrum are cases are dissociative identity disorder or DID (formerly known as multiple personality disorder) where the psyche completely splits into separate identities to perform various roles to the host.  There are many stops along the way of that spectrum, and I fall in at about the 60-70 range.  If you want to know more on this feel free to ask!  The point is,  my ability to separate from the feeling of physical pain was so fine tuned that the magnitude of the symptoms weren’t registering.  There was a disconnect.

  So, back to my story.. It’ll be a miracle if this blog actually tells the story I opened it to tell!
  From there I was rushed into surgery, the tumor was removed, along with my ovary and Fallopian tube.  A week later I found out that it was indeed cancerous.  Another fear.. Both my gran and my mother were killed by cancer on my mothers side, and my dads mother was also killed by that monster, and now it had me.  I won’t go into all the specifics.. Maybe another blog piece, but that was where my faith really began.

It wasn’t in a foxhole prayer, “God, please save me… ” it was real faith.. It was where I stopped bartering with the “if there’s a God” and started accepting the current moment exactly as it was.  I had been working on my third step in AA, “we made a decision to turn our will and our life, over to the care of God as we understood him” and I was almost all in.. The only reservation I had about staying sober was “if I lose my son I’m getting fucked up” and then I’d lost my son, and stayed sober.

Truth be told, I was secretly in love with another recovering alcoholic and I wanted to prove how committed I was to sobriety.  She had so many years sober, and I had only months.  I thought if I could tackle these monsters of reasons to drink, without drinking, we could bypass the “sober for a year rule”.

  I fought, every day, well almost every day.  There were some days when I couldn’t fight, and I had to lay in bed and just rest.  I remember feeling so much anxiety and panic when I would try to lay down and rest.  This video pretty much depicts that part of the fight (i record and document everything because my memory isn’t too great, and i lose time a lot… a big part of my recovery has been trying to piece together and accept that these things will happen, but looking for ways that i can take care of myself to make them less intrusive)

I was so scared that while I was resting, the cancer was taking over. No imagined it to be like a black cloud that I’d dispersed with my light of my sun, but crept back over when I wasn’t looking.  If I stopped, my body would get weak and I’d lose the fight.. And that just wasn’t an option.  Most breakdowns actually served their purpose in bouncing me back for the next round…

I spent many manic nights awake.  I began painting.  I didn’t want to watch tv, and so I started painting and found that I could paint! I had no idea.  I was pretty amazing at it too!!

Painted from a photo of Chicago that I found online
My secret love challenged me to try spray painting after seeing a video of the NYC spray paint artist..


Time lapse Video of 48 hours of learning to spray paint… not bad!

I gladly accepted the challenge, and within 24 hours I was spray painting my way to a masterpiece. 🙂 I remember selling some of those to my friends on Facebook, helping to generate some money towards the mounting costs of prescriptions and co pays.  I delivered pizza part time for Papa Johns in the evenings, and worked the back drive thru window of McDonalds with my AA sponsor and good friend in the mornings.
Having fun on the job 😉
  I bounced between photography and painting when I didn’t have the energy to walk.  In finding the gift of artwork, I saw a reason for being sick.  I would’ve never known I could paint if I hadn’t slowed down.  I remember how I felt the first time I realized that.  I’m crying again now just remembering how intense that feeling of trust in the universe was.  I remember telling the universe that it could’ve been a little more subtle than the big C, but then I thought about all of the times that I could’ve slowed down, and should’ve slowed down, and I didn’t.  Always running running running because I didn’t want to feel, and if I slowed down or stopped then the feelings would come flooding thru me at an overwhelming rate and I didn’t know how to adjust the faucet.  It was stuck wide open and I couldn’t handle all of that so I ran, staying busy.  It’s why I got fucked up to begin with. Thank you cancer.
a dresser from my sons room that became a painting project
  Four surgeries, and five chemos into the fight I began researching what could I do to improve my chances.  I asked questions on Facebook, and you guys responded with juice recipes, plant based diets.. And so I tried it.  I remember I couldn’t eat much at the time, but I kept telling myself “if I’m going to force myself to eat something, it’s going to be something that will help kick this bitchs’ ass! And I’d add a spoonful of peanut butter to a very green leafy disgusting  cocktail, blend it up and drink up.  I remember making music videos and joining the happy days fb group where my newsfeed filled up with all of these reasons people were happy that day.  That’s where I met a lot of you guys!  There was something about knowing people were watching, or at least feeling like they were, that grounded me.  I didn’t want you to see the real me.  I didn’t want you to see the crazy me, so I attempted to hide it, failing miserably with those I got close to, but it served its purpose.  I kept striving to improve, to be a better person, to show all of you how amazing I really am.. Because I didn’t feel it.. And you guys would tell me I am, and for a moment I would feel it… And as a true addict, it felt good so I wanted more.

 I began a bucket list which I named the “remember when list” because it was a list of things I would one day sit on my front porch telling stories of “remember when” to what I’d hope to be, my love.. Sitting next to me, saying “yes dear” 🙂 – that fantasy pushed me.  It set a tone inside of me and I wrote that list of things I wanted to do in my lifetime!! As that list grew, I realized that I didn’t have time to have a job.. Not in the traditional sense.  I started thinking of ways I could make money without actually going to work, and reading nomad blogs, learning how to travel as cheap as possible.  Again the faith came in, as I thought about everything I had already survived, and I saw how each individual storm in my life created a piece of evidence that I would be okay, no matter what.  Dealing with mental illness, never actually killing myself despite many years of feeling that was my only safe place to live mentally… Katrina.. Being homeless.. Heartbreaks.. I had survived  many storms, it’s what I do! In that I found strength and courage.  I saved links, and took notes, learning and forming the vague outline of how I could actually start working on some of these bucket list ideas.  Sure.. I couldn’t go backpacking Europe that day, laying in bed feeling sick as a dog, hurting, and generally wanting to die on some level.. But I could start studying.. Figure out what id need to do.. What equipment would I need? I’d only been camping twice.  I started looking on craigslist, and reading more and more.

What could I sell to generate money? I started painting sand dollars, and furniture, and whatever else came my way.  I sat out on Saturdays at the farmers market, hoping to sell a piece.  I went to galleries and talked to the managers, showing my portfolio.. I read blogs on how photographers make money with their pictures.. And the majority of the money is in portrait photography.. It wasn’t something I felt I was good enough for, having seen others work.  I didn’t have the money for the equipment I really needed, but I took my Panasonic LUMIX camera and did the best I could.. Watching YouTube videos on how to edit portrait pictures.  Touch ups etc.  I had the eye, I just didn’t have the knowledge, but I learned!

Adorable little girl and her mother that responded to a FB ad

I posted questions in fb photography groups, and they came back with all the answers to help me improve.  It provided the money to travel some more, but I didn’t care for it enough to pursue it further.

I took on a couple of website gigs, rehashing skills from my earlier years, and hustled flipping a broke down car.

Changing out the brake calipers – gotta trust the Universe to learn this on YouTube!

There’s never an easy answer to “how do you afford to travel” I just do whatever the moment presents itself with, and I am always provided for.  The Universe takes care of me as long as I allow it to.  I never thought I’d be a paid blogger.. $5-$12 a day, but it’s something! Every little something adds up and creates opportunity for more experience, and with more experience comes more opportunity.  It’s an amazing circle of life.

  Now my hope is to use my blog to not only record doing all this with mental illness.. (Which I really want to write about the transition from traveling to home.. I definitely need a better plan for reentry.  The last few days have been rough and I feel very spacey, ungrounded), but not only that and frugal traveling, but I’ve been writing the story of the travels from a first hand perspective as if the reader is the one traveling.  Once the story is written I want to record it and put pictures and videos to it so that the viewer or reader feels as if they are really traveling the world.

Then I want to donate it to everyone fighting a terminal illness, so that they can dissociate into the story and maybe get a little relief from the reality of the pain and treatment that they are going thru.  I hope it inspires them to fight, to really see the world, or whatever their bucket list things are, and if that’s no longer an option, I hope I get to help fulfill at least one of them by having this experience to share.

  Having said that..
I’d like you help me out by clicking on all the ads you see on this page, clicking back to the blog between each one.  I get paid per reader and per ad click.. And that helps fund this adventure.
I’d also like you to shared story if you believe in me and want to be a part of it!
And lastly, there is a box to subscribe to the blog, if you want notifications of new posts to the blog.
With that.. I hope you enjoyed my story.. It’s what got me to where I am today.. This year I have seen 22 states in the USA.. Fallen in love with traveling, seen my nephew for the first time, seen my first concert, mastered camping, backpacked four cities, opened an Airbnb of my own, become a paid blogger, met sooo many amazing new people, and next month I am leaving to backpack Europe! It’s wild!  If this is a dream, I never want to wake up.  Thank you Cancer!
“It’s a perfect day for a perfect day!”

$135 all included in Chicago… blessed

Standard

I decide to head for the first tourist attraction on my list, backpack in tow, after-all, I cannot check into my airbnb until 5pm.  Who cares tho? $18 a night, how can I complain? Airbnb has really changed my life! Goodbye tents, and hello wifi, electricity, shower, and a real bed!


The John Hancock building, where I have read that you can see all of Chicago from the signature lounge bypassing the $20 fee for the 360 deck.  I set off.  Walking in circles looking for the red line.  The map shows its location, but my gps seems confused and the street names don’t indicate which direction in which to go.  This certainly isn’t New York.  I feel the wind bellowing down the avenue towards me, and I decide that that must be where Lake Michigan is.  I proceed to walk in the North with this assumed directional sense.  Three lefts later, I am going the right way.
Distractions!!!!!
Everywhere…
 Tall buildings leaving my head forever tilted towards the sky.  But as my eyes come in for a landing to quickly ensure my safety they find new wonders upon which to gaze.
Old castle like buildings intertwined with the new skyscraper structures.  Beige monuments, standing short against the backdrop of the glass windows.  The contrast taking me quite off guard.  “You never know what you don’t know, and who knew?”  Holy churches and fire stations.
Bricks carefully laid one by one, the pride completely evident.  The tourist leaps out of me, pulling the real camera out and snapping, spinning, snapping some more.  Photo after photo, eager to share my discovery with the world.  I can see Willis Tower ahead of me.  The Sears Tower I should say, or else my local chitown friends will be sure to correct me.  I look at my GPS, which is now cooperating, and continue to walk around the block, looking for the John Hancock Building.  Around and around I walk, skipping a block, “maybe it’s behind the Willis Tower?” I stop to read about the water tower, that now houses and Chicago Tourism center and art gallery.
The water tower was built to draw water from Lake Michigan, and was the only public building to survive the Great Fire of Chicago.  It’s beautiful.  I continue walking, until I have come full circle, and another block before I realize that the Willis Tower is in fact the John Hancock Building.  #tourist
It turns out that the signature lounge has overly priced drinks, and while it may still be cheaper to purchase a $15 mixed drink than pay the $20 to get into the 360 deck, there’s s special for $21 where you cons visit the deck twice within 48 hours.  As a photographer, the chance to see the skyline during the day and at night is totally worth the extra dollars!
  Breathtaking… This is one of those moments that I wish you weren’t reason my blog and looking at my photos.. It’s a moment that if you can get to Chicago and experience this, I totally recommend it, and I’m writing this blog to prove it doesn’t cost as much as you’ve probably assumed..
This is probably a good spot to get a financial breakdown of the cost of this trip so far.
Parking car in New Orleans – FREE (thank you Gloria!)
Flight from New Orleans to Chicago via Southwest Airlines – $44
Bottle of water in the airport (because my waters were more than 3oz I had to pour them out) – $3 (lesson learned)
Orange line train from the airport to the city $3
Dublin Donuts Coolata (don’t judge, we don’t have Dunkin Donuts near where I live) $4
John Hancock 360 – $21
AirBnB reservation $20/night
3 nights booked ($60)
Total so far = $135 and that’s including the next two nights lodging!
As heavy as this tall backpack is, it’s totally worth it!
Can’t beat that! Well, maybe I should tell the next story about my airbnb 😉
To be continued

Growing My International Comfort Zone

Standard

September 24, 2014 (2 years ago in Miami Beach, Florida USA)

It’s amazing how quickly my comfort zone is expanding.  I am no longer afraid or self conscious about saying hello.  It started with a passing stranger, a quick “good morning” and a smile.  The return smile enhanced my day, the returned shocked “hello” even better.  It’s funny how many Americans here are shocked by the pleasantry that is displayed in the South, even here in Miami.  Sure, there are upper class people, some of whom look like they are scared to be infected by poverty, just by acknowledging a blue collar person, but for the most part, people are friendly, and will return whatever is projected to them.  Yesterday I entered the W hotel to find an ATM machine.  I immediately felt out of place with the obvious wealth of the place, and fort knox, security guarded entrance.. the one of a kind cars parked in the front, and various other “toys”.  As I walked around, somewhat lost, it was my own self conscious, “less than” thinking that separated me.  I eventually had to ask for help locating the cash machine, and was treated quite pleasantly, guided to the machine and wished a healthy day.  Another encounter that I discovered a new path to self worth.

In the hostel, I am meeting some amazingly beautiful people from all over the world.  Last night I asked Jette and Yana if they’d like to join me in a walk to a little spot i’d found the day before, where the Miami skyline looked quite beautiful.  I wanted to see it at night, and take some pictures.  Ironically I forgot my camera with all the talk while getting ready.. I forgot all that is involved in getting ready for girly girls. 🙂

I should’ve known when Jette (from Denmark) let me know that she is traveling to celebrate her weight loss, and how beautiful she is, and feels.  She is a princess who loves Pink (which i noticed as she picked out every pink travelers guide from the tourist rack).  Yana (from Israel) hasn’t  claimed to be a princess, but definitely wins the award for the most time spent in the bathroom of the 12 of us.

As we walked, we found a limo, and wanted pictures of us infront of it.  As we rotated and snapped the camera, the limo driver lowered her window and offered for us to climb inside, so of course we did!

 

We spent about an hour at the waters edge, watching the building repeat the dancing lights girl on the side of the building, and admiring the reflections of lights in the water.  The breeze was very welcomed as it was particularly humid last night.   It was “a romantic spot” Yana kept saying as she played with an Old English sheepdog, out with his owner.  We laughed as we each three talked about our own cultures, and the differences in them.  I listened tentatively as they exchanged travel stories.  Mexico certainly made it to my list while India became ruled out for me.  The way the culture was described sounded way too touchy feely towards women, especially if traveling alone.  Maybe one day I will face that fear, but no time soon.  Yana added it to her list, but only if she traveled with a group.  Maybe that had been an invite.. I’m not sure.. my Passage to India was already closed.
This morning I met someone who arrived in the night from Sidney, Australia, tho we didn’t talk long enough to exchange information.  I’m sure we will fix that this evening! Then I met Vecchiato, from Venice Italy.  🙂 She was very friendly, and thought she knew me from a previous hostel stay.  One day I will meet this twin of mine.  We exchanged information right away as she invited me to visit her when I travel Europe.  I look forward to getting to know her more, as she seemed really cool, and laid back.. knowledgeable about traveling.
Tomorrow Jette and I are leaving for the Keys.  I’m a little nervous about having a travel partner as I have learned I enjoy my space and freedom, and struggle with using my voice to achieve my goals rather than cater to others.  I’m feeling under the weather, full of a head cold, and camping on the beach, and being in the water may not be the best idea for me.. but then, maybe it is a good thing I won’t be traveling alone?  Universe… I’m sure you know what you are doing.
Well, time to clock in for work.. need to stack the bank account a little as funds are beginning to slide the wrong way.  I’ve been having technical difficulties with the app that dispenses the deliveries to me, and stayed pretty laid back about getting it fixed.. the result has been a decline in income, but I’ve still profited each day I have been here, so I can’t complain.
MAKE IT A GREAT DAY EVERYONE!!!

Stormes’ Shelters

Standard

20160830_224251What’s on my mind?

Stormes’ Shelters – There’s a reason I spent a year backpacking and camping.. and THIS IS IT! It was to have the understanding of basic needs in survival mode so that I could be used to help people in survival mode. (and I thought it was just for me to see the world lol)

This might be a lot of reading but bare with me.

 

This is Mrs Emma’s tent sitting beside the pile of what used to be all her belongings.  She is a 79 year old lady with COPD who was living in the trailer that flooded. She couldn’t get anywhere because her car flooded and she has had a knee replacement.  Her story has continued to inspire me throughout the last 4 weeks.

So.. having said that.. I have spent a good amount of time in Louisiana with people that cannot afford to leave their homes.. despite that fact that being there is literally making them sick.. ‘but what else can I do? Where can I go?’ They ask me.. and I haven’t had an answer.. until now. I’ve spent the last couple of hours rearranging my wishlist by priority. Highest priority are tents.. shower tents.. tarps.. cots.. shower heads .. special laundry camping bucket.. camping toilets.. extension cords.. means for cooking.. pack and plays (so everyone can sleep without fear of a toddler running away!)

If you read my comments on each item you’ll get to see the picture that I’m manifesting. Mrs Emma told me that 7 people from her neighborhood come to her house to shower each day as her water heater miraculously started back up (thankyou Jesus!) but for many neighborhoods that isn’t the case. A hot shower is on many people’s lists of ‘needs’ and some haven’t had one since before the flood. I have ordered the means for one shower tent so that I can delegate times of the day to neighborhoods and transport it around to offer showers.. as more are purchased from my wishlist I’ll be able to leave them in neighborhoods.

Tents purchased .. self explanatory. My initial goal is 100 but I know the need is far greater.

Adult bikes – for many, these are the only means of transportation.

Shopping Carts – many are walking to their local gas station to purchase food items and walking them back in the heat. The carts will help increase how much they can carry.

This was taken on September 19th .. 5 weeks after the flood.  In some areas the water didn’t go down for a month. 

My overall goal is to supply the basics for camping so that people can stay put of the mold infested homes with the least amount of inconvenience. These communities are coming together to share their resources. Love is growing abundantly in this time of need.

There are also other items on my list that aren’t high and highest priorities .. toys.. Kids bikes.. linens etc .. initially the housing is priority but these things will be needed too.. the toys really just help to bring smiles.. and give the kids something to do so the parents can catch a break. For those parents put there.. imagine if your kids didn’t have any toys or things to entertain them.

I plan on documenting as much of this as possible to share the stories with you all. I’m not sure yet if amazon allows me to see who purchased items.. but my gratitude is overflowing to everyone who has and will.

I’ve been informed that collecting donations in this form is something I need to have a nonprofit for so that the IRS doesn’t come after me for taxes on all these gifts. While I could probably research it myself and get it filed.. that would be time away from the cause and people have been waiting long enough. If anyone out there can take care of that.. it would be GREATLY appreciated! I have faith in God that I’ll be okay.

Up until now I’ve been driving 4 hours round trip each day that I go out to the devastated areas. My heart says that camping with the fine folks of louisiana will only help me understand their needs so we can meet their needs.. so I’m thinking that’s what I’ll be doing.

How appropriate is it that I was named Storme? Now I know why. To donate to Stormes’ Shelters please visit the wishlist

Stormes’ Shelters for the Louisiana Flood victims – click here!

Thank you God.. we love you and we praise you for all that you are doing.. for giving me the burning desire to travel on little or no money so that I could learn the ways of the camping world. I thank you for everything you took away during Katrina so that my heart could be pulled the way it is today to help those affected by the floods. God, I know that the seeds of love and hope you are allowing me to plant in these hearts will flourish and bloom in years to come.. and create multiple testimonies of the time faith was restored. Please bless all those who are affected.. whether it’s the victims or the volunteers for we are all being imprinted on in these days. Lord we love you and we thank you.. in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Thank you everyone.

A Ray of Love

Standard

Tonight, (November 6, 2014) towards the end of my shift, a man walked slowly back and forth in-front of the store a couple of times before coming in. He had a walking stick, and looked shaggy.. But a lot of people look shaggy in Mississippi. I was topping pizzas by the time he came in but I had been watching him, mainly because I knew my car was out front and unlocked. He leaned over the counter and talked to my manager. At this point I knew he was looking for something to eat, so I walked around to see if that was the case. She told him we didn’t have anything and pointed to the “no soliciting” sign. He left and I followed. I stood outside removing, my car top sign, and asked him when the last time he had eaten was. He told me at the hospital he had been discharged from. After five minutes or so he wasn’t a stranger anymore. He was Larry, a veteran who had just been discharged from the hospital following an aneurysm where he had lost partial eye sight. That explained why his hair looked somewhat clean under his sweat stained hat. He showed me his hospital bracelet. I walked back inside with my car topper and ordered him a pizza under his name and then invited him in to sit. He’d had back surgery a few years before and that’s why he needed the cane. My boss looked at me with a look that said she felt somewhat foolish. She told me that that was sweet. I told her I’ve been homeless, and you can never judge a book by it’s cover. I’d seen him pace in-front of the store, as he probably was gathering the courage to ask for something to eat. When his order came out I handed it to him and told him he could sit in the lobby instead of trying to juggle the box and the walking stick outside, but he said he didn’t want to take the only bench in case “real customers” came in. He looked ashamed and embarrassed. I felt my cold heart warm up a little. My actions appeared to be full of love, and though I knew I was doing the right thing, I didn’t feel it like I usually do.. But I did feel it. I’ve been so concerned with myself and lost in trying to figure out how to find my feet and fix myself… Who is Storme? What would Storme do? So I started asking others about trials and tribulations I know of in their lives.. And just checking in .. Letting them know I care and I love them.. Two hours later I am now home from work, and tho I still have this headache, and I’m completely exhausted again.. The fog has lifted quite a bit, and a ray of love is shining thru.  I’ve missed feeling that.

2016 update – that same pizza store now feeds the homeless on a regular basis.  The ripple effect of that day is felt daily.  Unfortunately, Larry died a few months later while still in Gulfport.  The staff at the store were effected by it.  Larry was a veteran and should’ve never been homeless, facing hunger and medical needs in his home country.. the land of the free.. for which he fought.  I know I will never forget the impact of that day.  It’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when you are doing for others.  #payitforward

blogger-image--1849492364