67 year old lived in a dog kennel for 4 weeks post Louisiana flood.. UNACCEPTABLE

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On August 13th 2016, Louisiana received 7.1 TRILLION gallons of rain in less than 36 hours causing the worst national disaster since Superstorm Sandy.  Just to compare, Hurricane Katrina dropped 2.6 Trillion.  The unnamed storm flooded 11% of the state, leaving 144,000 homes a ‘complete loss’.  The media has failed to cover the magnitude of devastation here in Louisiana where help is still so desperately needed.  People are still being found, living in make shift housing… our volunteer group of about 10 rotate days, continuing to send people out into the field in order to meet the needs of so many.. but it is overwhelming, and we certainly need more help.

We first learned of Mrs Diane while posting in a FB group asking where the tent cities were.  We learned of 8 communities where people are still living in tents, 8 weeks after the flood… and these are the fortunate ones that have been found, and given an alternate living space than the black mold infested home that still needs gutting.  Storme’s Shelters was born when we continuously found human beings living inside of the flooded homes. “We’d tell them they can’t live in these conditions and they’d respond with ‘what choice do I have?’ and we didn’t have an answer, so we created one” says Storme.  An Amazon Wishlist of camping supplies was created, initially looking to home people in 3 and 5 man tents, but when returning to check on those rehoused, they’d find the residents back in the homes because the AC still worked, or because they couldn’t crouch under the doorways of small enclosures.  The wishlist was revised to accommodate people in 8 and 10 man tents where they could walk around.. a real home outside of their home.  Extension cords are ran to the tents providing power for phones, crockpots to cook, air mattresses, and in some lucky cases, real beds.

Mrs Diane was by her neighbors living in a dog kennel with a tarp over it, here she had been for 4 weeks.  Shelters had closed down, and bounced her around until the last shelter finally provided her a ride home to a completely condemned mobile home.  She did what she had to do while she sat and waited for FEMA.  Inside her dog kennel she had put a box spring that she found on the neighbors trash pile, covered it with a few blankets, and called it home.  The following video is a compilation of footage from that day.  September 29th, 2016.

Video is Copyright by Storme Hannan XOXO 2016.

By the end of the day help had shown up to pitch a ten man tent.  People watching the initial facebook live video responded, conspiring together to bring a variety of needs and help raise the tent.  People from many volunteer groups. Lousiana Flood Relief, The Cajun Navy, The Cajun Army, #FillTheseTrucks, #BeSomeonesMiracle as well as individuals that just had to come and help.

The help continued on thru the next couple of days when Mrs Thibodeaux went on a hunt for an affordable camper, picked Mrs Diane up, and drove her to Lafayette to look at it and bring it home.

Mrs Diane is one of thousands here in Louisiana who still need help.  In the past week we have discovered over 2,000 hungry people displaced in motels, fearing homelessness when their vouchers run out on 10/19/2016.  They are sitting waiting for Marshall Law.  When we asked them what they needed, they asked for shoes, toothbrushes, water and food.  Many people ask me.. “where’s red cross?” “where’s FEMA?” “don’t they get foodstamps?”

If a person doesn’t own their home, they received one deposit of rental assistance.  Anywhere from $800-$1800 in some cases.  They are thankful for that, but want people to understand.. there isn’t many properties available to rent.  They were flooded.  They don’t have transportation if they only had liability insurance, so they are homeless with no transportation, one initial allotment of food stamps (7 weeks ago) and jobless because they can’t get to work, or their workplace was also flooded.  At this point they are back to having nothing. Lots of people haven’t received any assistance, and are paying out of pocket.  The full story on what we are finding at the motels is coming soon. Please join our FB page Storme’s Shelters to get involved.  Please consider donating to help us help them! We accept PayPal donations stormesshelters@gmail.com or you can use Site To Store on the Walmart Wishlist

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Stormes’ Shelters

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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.

“What’s the point?” 

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“I couldn’t get my 270lb self over the side of the bridge fast enough before the cops got to me and pulled me down. “

I didn’t want to live anymore.  
Depression, memories, intrusive racing thoughts.. The internal anguish that festered inside of me on a day to day basis had worn me down. All I wanted was one day of peace. I wanted a lobotomy. I wanted someone to take my mind and erase it. I wanted nothing,more than anything else in the world I wanted it all to stop.. But it never did. I’d cycled thru the psych hospitals, doing the two step back to “balance” more times than I could count. Medications and therapy.. The magic cocktail.. But it had never worked for long periods of time. The medications turned me into a zombie if I took them, and therapy was pointless since I never really talked about the exact nature of my demons.
  February 13, 2013.. I reached the end of my ability to cope. My fiancé was cheating on me with my best friend.. My son had been sexually abused, and I had zero legal authority to protect him.. I was financially stressed, lonely, and haunted with memories from my past. Flashbacks and panic attacks came daily, and I just had zero desire to carry on.. And couldn’t fathom a worthy enough response to “what’s the point?”

  
  I used a bottle of vodka to swallow my meds, one every minute or so, until I felt full of liquid courage and made my way to the bridge. I’d always had a fantasy of free falling from a bridge at night.. The full moon reflecting off of the water, with Sarah Brightmans’ “Time to say Goodbye” filling my ears with her beautiful voice. That’s how I wanted to go out.. So poetic. I found the song, inserted the earphones and pressed play. Just as I got out of the car, a cop car pulled up behind me, lights flashing. I panicked. I was too intoxicated to be behind a wheel. I hurried to the front of the car, and began trying to get up onto the side. It wasn’t exactly how I’d imagined it to be, but there was no going back. I couldn’t get my 270lb self over the side of the bridge fast enough before the cops got to me and pulled me down. I’m thankful for that today.  
  While in the psych hospital, I protested to the same staff I had been institutionalized there with in the past. This time felt different. In the past I’d landed there following cries for help, and threats of suicide.. This time I felt so hopeless that being there merely felt like an obstacle to the inevitable. I repeatedly told them they were wasting their time.  

  
  I was outside on the patio smoking my first cigarette of the day… Staring out between the cracks in the fence, and I saw a bird land of the grass at the base of a tree. I watched as it pecked at the ground. It hopped around pecking away, feeding I was sure. I watched it for a few minutes, and thought about how it didn’t go to work.. It didn’t earn money.. and yet it was provided for. No matter what, it would find the resources to survive. I thought the things I had been through.. And even during times of homelessness, I never went hungry, I had clothes, I figured out places to sleep, and eat, and even provide orange juice and diapers for my son. In those moments something shifted in my perspective. The stress of finances were lifted. Technically, I didn’t need a home. All I needed was food, water, and a change of clothes.. And I would survive. Everything else outside of that were things I wanted, but I didn’t need. I never forgot that little bird.  

  
I never forgot that shift in thought. Over the next few years, it repeated in my mind as a reminder of the only things I really needed. I didn’t have a higher power at the time, and wasn’t even sure if I wanted to go on living.. But in later years, I would hold on to the minimization style of living, and find a freedom that has helped mold my life today. 
  Thru working the 12 steps, I came to believe in the universal energy of life as my higher power. I never know where the wind is going to blow me, I just know that I’m willing to go wherever that is, and do whatever being in those places provides me an opportunity to do. It’s taken me all over the world at this point.. Literally on a dime at times. In September 2015 I was in NYC with $19 to my name, a bus ticket to DC, and a flight from DC to New Orleans booked. I had ten days before I would land in New Orleans, so it was definitely a time to be frugal, but I wasn’t stressed.. I had a way home, and $19 can go a long way in oatmeal if need be. I’ve never gone hungry, yet I have stressed going hungry a million times. Part of me wonders if its that fear that causes my body to store food, but that’s another topic.  

   
 
  In March 2016, I found myself in Athens, Greece. I accompanied my friend on a trip of her lifetime. We were regular tourists, viewing the Acropolis, taking a ferry to the islands, buying the souvenirs, eating the food. On our 6th day we discovered that the Syrian refugees were at the port we had sailed from .. Hidden in terminals and tents around the other side. We decided to go and see what we could do to help. Boy did our hearts hurt. I don’t think either of us were prepared for what we would witness there. That too is another blog.  
  Upon returning to the United States, the images of the refugees stayed wit me. They filled me heart, and have had me questioning what I can do to make a difference. My heart has been pulled to the point I’ve found it difficult to take care of myself without feeling guilty. It’s no mistake that after flying into Houston, and staying with friends for a few days there, that I was introduced to a new person in my life. She has shared her experience with her faith in Jesus and God. These are two words that have always automatically shut me down, but Initially she tailored her belief to accommodate my belief in the Universe. Connecting about faith in general helped me to remove my premeditated stigmas of organized religion, and become open minded to the church.  

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  Yesterday I attended church with my AA sponsor and her son.. A family that has loved and adopted me as their own. I spent an hour crying as I related to the words of the songs and the sermon. At the end of the sermon, Brother Ben left us with two questions.. “When was the last time our hearts wept for others in the world?” And “when was the last time we wept for the brokenness of ourselves?”
The refugees came flooding to my mind as I wept again.. I then recalled the moment last week that I stood in a field of a dog park in Florida and cried from my gutt for my own pain and feelings of lost and alone. I decided to stay behind and talk to Brother Ben one on one about what was going on for me.. The feeling that I was being called for a higher purpose, but not really knowing how to go about serving that purpose. He spent 30-45 minutes with me, listening, and sharing his experience as a follower of Christ. He remained respectful of where I was in my beliefs, and refrained from telling me what I should do. He gave me a Bible.. A book I’ve vowed many times that I would never read.  
This morning I woke up near Baton Rouge, in a place where I had zero cellphone service. It gave me three hours of quiet time to sit and read.. I opened the Bible and flipped to random pages… And then I came across this… 
Matthew 6:24-37

No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.  
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life – whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your Heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”

  
My story of how that little bird had lit a small spark of faith.. Right there in black and white inside the pages of the Bible.  
I don’t know where this road is leading, but I know I’m on the right road. As I talk about my experiences in Greece, and how heavy my heart is for the refugees, I often hear “you’re just one person, you can’t save the world” and a feeling of defensiveness comes over me, because I disagree. Mother Theresa was one person. Nelson Mandela was one person. Martin Luther King Jr and Princess Diana … Jesus Christ was one person. One person can make a difference.  

I truly believe my purpose is to make a difference.  I don’t yet know what that looks like.. Whether it’s giving a voice to those whose cries go unheard, whether it’s doing missionary work, or sharing my experience of recovering from life with PTSD and addiction… Maybe even something I don’t yet have the capability to imagine?
 I DO know that I can make a difference.  I WILL make a difference.  

Terrorist attacks coming to a major city near YOU!

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“Omg did you go to Brussels??? They were attacked!!!!”
Major cities are going to continue to be attacked to bring attention to the shit that’s going on in the world until something is done to stop the suffering and the blatant disregard of human life on our (western world) part.. Which will never happen bc we deny our part in it. We look at them as barbaric for blowing themselves up and taking innocent lives with them.. But these people have spent 14 years being bombed blown up and attacked by us.. They’ve spent months traveling far and wide carrying practically nothing but their children.. Watching loved ones die along the way. Then they reach borders where they are tear gassed and beaten for trying to cross borders out of the former iron curtain .. Soviet Union .. 
We hear nothing about Russia in all of this.. Our country has NO IDEA about the shit going on with Russia .. and won’t care to know until shit hits the fan and it directly effects us.. Then it won’t matter if we are driving a Stationwagon or a Porsche .. It won’t matter how much money is in the bank.. 
But I’m just a conspiracy theorist who researches too much… asks too many questions… And won’t settle for ignorant silence.  
With a bonus of knowing how to live off the grid.
My thoughts and prayers are with EVERYONE that is affected by the ENTIRE situation.. Not just the people that died today and their families .. It’s with the 1/4 million other people that have died and their loved ones .. It’s with the 11 MILLION people that are homeless and displaced trying to find a life where they aren’t being bombed. It’s with the mentally ill that have zero ability to comprehend everything that their life is. It’s with the people that CAN do something about it, but don’t… Because it doesn’t effect them directly so why stop going about their daily lives to do something about it?  
I’m sure there will be Belgium flags covering Facebook profile pictures by the end of the day.. And that’ll make it all better. 
/rant 

 

Post Katrina Stress Disorder with a slice of Fuck You Cancer!

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Holy fucking shit balls! I don’t know how much longer I can be in this panicked state of mind and self. Bad weather never used to affect me. I feel convinced that I am about to know what it feels like to be that house on the tv that got hit. Why this time? IDK but given I keep having a mental picture of it.. its really fucking concerning me. I am usually the one cool calm and collected.. the voice of reason and decision if needed.. but I am by myself, so I really don’t need to the voice for anyone.. just me.
There are so many things I could be doing right now that are on my to do list, and I cant fucking function. I keep pacing towards something but forget what it is by the time I get half way there, wherever there is for whatever it was. Im just circling my house, and I thought maybe I could sit down and blog it out.. I finally got all the way thru the act of putting music on so im not just listening to the wind howling around. This shit is no joke for a Katrina survivor. 
I remember those outer bands. I remember driving thru it, evacuating last minute along the coast. 

  
 Ok I cant fucking talk about that right now.. y’all don’t even know what it was really like to be down here for that .. unless you were here of course. My guests ask about it, because they see the cement slabs that are still here.. stairs leading up to nothing, where a house once stood. They always seem so completely shocked when I start talking about it, from my own personal experience. I’ve come to realize that most people hear “Katrina” and they think “New Orleans, Superdome, flooding, looting” that’s about it.. that is how the summarize THE most traumatic experience of so many lives. Did you know that Post Katrina Stress Disorder is a diagnosis? I’ve been telling that story a lot lately.. maybe because I’ve had guests almost the whole time that I have been home. Maybe the Universe is telling me that it is time to confront this one. Work thru it and file it away forever to stay.
If y’all could see my scrunched up face, tears forming and falling, my breath halted trying to catch up with the moment of pain that comes with those memories.. the floating bloated bruised bodies.

   
   
 The flock of dead birds laying on the ground at work 3 weeks later. The weeks without electricity or potable water. Lemme tell you a story about a survivor.
It was March 2005 when my nightmare started. I was working Mardi Gras for Dominos Pizza. It was insane hours.. Thursday thru Sunday I probably slept 10 hours, and worked my ass off the rest of the time.. chugging energy drinks like they were bottled waters. While catching the pizzas from the oven, 9 every 3 seconds, a pain invaded my abdomen like no other pain I had ever felt. I passed the cutter off and went to the lobby where the hot bags were stacked, and laid on them, clutching my lower abdomen tight. After the doctor and a few tests, I was told that I had tumors and they wanted to perform a biopsy. I was a bit of a junkie at the time, and I took the pain medicine prescriptions and never went back. My mother was diagnosed with cancer a couple of months later. She wanted me to come visit, but I couldn’t. Work had me tied up, and to be honest, I didn’t want to go. In June my sister got married. I was supposed to be the maid of honor, but I didn’t go. I was “managing my pain” and managing my store at my new place of employment, very poorly.. and couldn’t take off of work. I was caught in a three way love triangle, and a complete mess really.. Mum was getting sicker, but I still wasn’t visiting.
August 2005, Hurricane Katrina moved into the Gulf of Mexico. Thankfully it wasn’t my first experience with hurricanes here in the South. I knew the basics. Stock up, food, water, flashlights, batteries, and fill the tank up. I was managing a gas station infront of Walmart at the time. I couldn’t leave until the tanks were down to 1,000 gallons for the National Reserves to use after the fact. We seranwrapped the pumps and hit the road. 

  
 We exited New Orleans joining the endless traffic of people also still evacuating. My ex, her two girls, and myself in one car… my assistant manager and her girlfriend in the car behind me. 6 hours later we had moved 40 miles, if that. We neared the Six Flags exit…

 
Anxiety and sobbing crying again. I keep telling myself that I survived it all already. I survived 2005. It’s already done.. it shouldn’t be effecting me right now.. but it is. That shit was unimaginable.  I don’t think I can tell the story and portray just how fucking horrible it was. Seeing people stripped down to their survival instincts. Needing gas but having to decide if its worth risking being car jacked after the fact. Bartering cartons of cigarettes to move around unharmed. The smell.. the illness.. I remember the first time I heard an actual song on the radio again.. it had to be October… “ooo thinking about our younger years.. “ The endless days at work because no one came back. 

  
 They moved me to a store an hour or so north of where mine was. Mine was destroyed. People were detoxing off of drugs.. off of cigarettes.. living in the blistering heat of September with no electricity. 

  
 No one came. No one came to help.. for sooo long.. and when they did, they parked a truck and gave out bags of ice that we had to line up for hours to have a chance of getting one. The MRE military meals were brought in.. disgusting things, but when you’re hungry and cut off from the world, you eat it. 

  
 The government were giving out credit cards with $2,000 on it, and people were staying where they were with it.. relocating permanently. Those of us back here worked non stop, rebuilding work, or rebuilding homes.. cutting away the black mold… 

  
emptying houses after houses of furniture that had been left sitting in abandoned homes. I am sure that most of us really didn’t even feel the magnitude of what was going on. Disconnected in order to keep going. Military began policing the streets. Marshall Law was in effect and it was every man for themselves. I’m not sure they were prepared.. Some of them rookies, some of them treating us like wild animals.  

  
Flat tires were common due to the debris and nails from all the blown away buildings. Neighborhood after neighborhood of total devastation and nowhere to go. My house had three oak trees thru the roof and laying in the living room and kitchen, stacked on top of each other. I was homeless. I stayed on the couch of a friend, if I even left work. It was mid October when I knew I had to go home (England). I told my boss I would be back in two weeks.

When I landed, my step dad picked me up at the airport and drove me to the hospital. There lay my mother, old and frail in the bed. I felt so angry towards her but I couldn’t be so angry at such a frail woman. Fuck you Cancer!!! For all that me and that woman went thru, she wasn’t yours to take! We did so much crying together in those few months that I got to spend with her. We exchanged forgiveness’ that were long overdue. I took her for days out in her wheelchair… not that far because she didn’t have the energy.. but just to get out. She liked the garden center where they had a coffee shop. I looked after my little sister, who was 5 at the time. My mum had been doing her best to keep up the washing and her room.. and trying to make as unnoticeable as possible that she was dying. Her husband wasn’t doing shit, except for spending everything she had on antique record players, drinking heavily at the pub every night, dating a new woman, and whatever else he did that he didn’t let us see. He’d come home drunk and verbally abuse my mother. They’d yell back and forth.. she mostly cried. I am ashamed to say that it took me as long as it did to stand up to him, but I eventually found my adult voice, stood in his face and yelled “DON’T YOU DARE FUCKING TALK TO HER LIKE THAT!” He hit me and I swung back. He left and went to the pub.
I remember taking her to her medical appointments.. hours of sitting in the room talking to the nurses, and the other patients. I remember the naps that she would fall into, and checking to see if she was still breathing. Sometimes her breath would stop, and I’d think that she had gone.. just staring and waiting.. and then she’d gasp a big breath of air and wake up.. and I’d exhale.. realizing I was holding my breath with her. Friends would come to visit once in a while. I heard that the turn out at her funeral was massive. Flowers would come, and line the mantelpiece of the living room. It was originally my gran and granddads house. I’d sat in that same living room and taken goodbye pictures ten years earlier.. as I fled to America. While my mother napped, I’d go in the attic, and root thru the photo albums and other things left behind. I remember taking my little sister trick or treating around the neighborhood. She was so ecstatic that she got to go. Mum picked thru her candy when we got back. I videoed her playing with V.. pretending to take the good sweets. V handled everything like a trooper. She knew what was going on. I remember her telling my mum not to be afraid because it wasn’t her time to go. I am pretty sure that she is a bit of a psychic just like mum. I lost contact with her after Mum died. Her dad took her, and all the inheritance and severed all ties. Seriously cancer.. fuck you!
I stayed until new years, and lost my job for doing so. My mum and I agreed that she would rather I stay and spend the time with her while she was still alive, than leave and then come back for the funeral. My step dad never let me live it down for not being there at the funeral…
January 2nd 2006 I flew back to New Orleans… knowing I would never see her again.. having no idea where I was going to work.. no house.. pretty much nothing. I started on a friends’ couch, and went from there. It wasn’t until 2007 that my panic attacks started. I’d secured a career, had a good woman by my side and two beautiful kids. Life was back on track and my mind collapsed. I’d maxed myself out. I’d filed so much into the “I’ll deal with this later” category that it burst its banks, and full blown paralyzing panic disorder kicked in. I couldn’t say a full sentence. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t process basic math, or tell you my name. I knew it. I heard the words in my head and knew that I knew it, but couldn’t put my finger on how to do it. Or what that word was. I couldn’t be left alone. I’d flinch at everything. I couldn’t feel anything else but panic. It was panic, or nothing. My kids would come to me, and I’d just stare at them.. I wanted to hug them and laugh, and play.. and I couldn’t. My partner would plead with me to talk to her.. to snap out of it.. to tell her how she could help me.. but that mess of a spaghetti of thoughts and memories didn’t have a starting point. My biggest fear is being back there in that place again. I’ve been there a few times in my life. I’m willing to do whatever it takes not to go back there again.. and that’s why I write.. all the shit that flows thru this fucking brain.. I have to let it out or else it grows and consumes me and it wins.
The weather has calmed down again. It’s dark outside, and I don’t hear the wind anymore. I’ve been writing for two hours… need to move a muscle and change my thought.

🇺🇸Good Morning America… It’s time to wake up! 

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Here I am, back in the good ole U S of A.. It’s 6:45a and I’m wide awake. I’ve been awake for a couple of hours now, adjusting to the time difference I’m sure. I’m laying on my friends couch, the same couch I’ve slept on dozens of times while visiting her in New Orleans. The daylight begins to appear behind the blinds, and I walk to the curtains to take a look at the outside. Drawing them back a little, I realize there’s houses, with yards.. She lives in an apartment complex, and until this moment id never looked out of the window. The curtains always stay closed, and I’ve only known what’s within the walls of her home. Within her apartment complex. A HUGE possum awkwardly makes its’ way along the fence, and I’m kinda shocked by its size. A woman in the yard to the left is sat out in her yard, reading the Sunday newspaper.. Unaffected by the creature that’s just passed her by. To the right there’s a street legal, off road capable vehicle (pictured).. Painted in camouflage, and an American flag hanging, resting over the property. These subtle differences in the way of life here had been lost on me for so long. I thought about the boy that might aim his BB gun at that possum some day.. Or his older brother that might shoot to kill. I thought about how huge the vehicle is, compared to the tiny Fiats and Citroens of Europe. I thought about how many tiny cars are over there, some with their difference in fuel, to cut down the high costs of transportation… And how pricey small cars are in America… Usually purchased because their “cute” and a novelty. I thought about the distance from my friends house in Metairie, Louisiana, and mine in Pass Christian Mississippi.. A good hour and half away. For people in England, and Europe in general.. A trip to visit a friend who lives that far away is planned a week in advance.. It’s budgeted.. and it’s a treat.. Because even in the smallest, economical car… It comes with a price tag. At $8 a gallon, how can it not?
As I looked out the window, I was flooded by the number of things, I never knew I took for granted living here in the United States. Ways of life that had become my normal. I thought about the fact that right now, the United Kingdom is being battered by its 8th named storm of the season.. Lives and landscapes forever changed by natures’ fury, and yet I’m sure most of my friends here in the US have no idea. If it doesn’t impact what we know as life, we don’t hear about it, and go about our days as if nothing else exists outside of our walls. I think about Hurricane Katrina.. And how catastrophic and devastating it was for us… How we couldn’t believe that we were left stranded in our streets for so long.. Why it took our protectors so long to protect and help us.. And how many times since Katrina, I’ve heard it used to make a point.. That if it had been a tsunami in Japan, or or an earthquake in Nepal, for example, we’d have help there the same day.. How we help third world countries but don’t take care of our own homeless veterans. I have to wonder just how many third world countries, tsunami and earthquake victims.. Refugees of war that it is we, as a nation, have helped? I doubt it’s many at all. I’m sure that by the time every “charitable organization” takes their cut to maintain themselves.. There’s little left to provide relief.. It’s just another industry. It helps us feel better about ourselves to throw a couple dollars in a bucket.
The truth is, we don’t know what we don’t know, and the good ole USA does an impeccable job of filling our minds with mindless drama and entertainment, that we don’t have time to step outside of our own world. It’s a doggy dog world, and we are cattle, raised in a farm that demands the disease of more. More clothes, more things, bigger houses, newer cars, more land, more money… Bigger… Better… The good life… Because we are America.. The biggest and the best.. We are proud to be Americans.. Offspring of our forefathers.. All immigrants that fled our bloodlines roots to find this bigger better land of the free. “There are no cats in America, and the streets are paved with cheese”… That’s the line in An American Tail that sold me.. As a child, sitting in England.. AMERICA…. I remember feeling euphoric at the thought of the land where dreams come true, anything is possible, and everyone is rich.. The God of all countries.. It’s what I moved here looking for, like so many others.. An escape from the struggle that life is for so many people… Yet no matter how much we acquire, we stay busy on our hamster wheels trying to get more.. It keeps us quite self absorbed, and leaves us little time to think about the rest of the world. When the rest of the world invades our individual lives .. It’s usually thru fear.. Media gives us breaking news of a terrorist attack.. Or a natural disaster .. Our humanity feels bad for the victims.. We wish it weren’t that way “out there” but our animal instinct is too busy trying to make sure we “survive” that we “can’t” do anything about it.
I think about the word “survive” and how it’s had so many different lives within my life. I’ve survived childhood.. School yards of bullies.. A parentless home where we learned quickly to fend for ourselves. I’ve survived decades of mental illness where I’ve wanted to take my own life and on several occasions, I’ve attempted. I’ve survived heartbreak, and moments where emotions weighed so heavily in grief, sadness and anguish that I couldn’t see how I would go on. I’ve survived homelessness and dereliction.. Living in the back of an old station wagon in a junk yard, with no clue where my next dollar came from.. But when $10 dos come my way, I used it to buy diapers and orange juice for my son, because I didn’t need anything that bad. In that memory I can feel the humanity alive and well in my soul, and it’s a feeling I want more of. I’ve survived cancer.. An illness that’s taken the lives of my mother, grandmothers and grandfathers before me.. An illness I never thought I could beat. I’ve survived loving paycheck to paycheck, no matter how much money I earned.. It never felt enough… The struggle really was real… Because I hadn’t yet figured out that I didn’t need all the materialistic things I’d buy to justify all the hours that I worked. I’ve survived 9/11, hurricane Katrina, a broken down car thousands of miles from home, camping alone in the woods where there are bears, road tripping around America, backpacking alone around Europe, drug addiction, stereotypes, my own negative thinking … Life…. I’ve survived life… And until it’s my time to go, I will always survive life! If you’re reading this, then so have you… And so will you … It’s okay to let go of the fear that we won’t survive..


As I look at the monster truck sitting outside, and how much petrol it’s probably drank.. Just to ride around in a muddy field, joy riding.. I think about how far that same petrol could go back in Europe.. As I think about how huge even a one bedroom apartment is .. How open the floor plans are.. And how much electricity we just run.. All the time… I think about how cramped the small island of the United Kingdom is. How the number of people living there is becoming too many for amount of land they have to build on. As I think about the hundreds of thousands of refugees that have been taken in by the different countries of Europe, who are already in financial crisis’ themselves.. I think about the financial crisis we are taught that we are in, here in America. How our lifestyles keep us trapped inside the prison of paycheck to paycheck. The prison of money. The institution of wealth, and all the laws that have surrounded the right to earn money to survive.

 

There was once a time when money didn’t exist. If you wanted to eat, you planted some seeds and grew some food. If you wanted a home, you drew from the land.. Mud and trees,… Or mined stone and built shelter .. Shelter from the elements of life of earth.. I wonder if we were meant to take shelter so far .. Creating the luxurious forms of shelter we all take for granted now.. Even in the most basic apartments.. We have electricity, climate control, instant entertainment on the tv.. Which wasn’t even sufficient, so we introduced “on demand” and Netflix. If we wanted to go somewhere, we walked.. Sometimes for days.. Creating new shelters along the way.. We weren’t tied to our homes, and our bills and mortgages… We didn’t have social security numbers that said whether we could work or not … That dictated who was allowed to thrive.. We traded skill set for skill set.. And worked as communities to provide all of the basics. Each skill was needed and as valuable as the next. There weren’t rich doctors and lawyers.. Doctors became rich because fear of dying is so huge. Lawyers became rich because laws became so many, and money became so valuable.. The more money one has, the more skills they can but, and lazier they can be. We buy our way back to the freedom from the grindstone.. Freedom to once again enjoy our earth.. Freedom to travel.. The richest of us but their own boats, build their own oasis’ in their backyards.. Of their bigger better houses.. They fly first class or on private planes to remote islands .. And in those places they have arrived .. They’ve achieved the goal… But I promise you … They still want more. That feel good achievement.
What would happen if currency became acts of kindness, goodwill to others, selflessness… If money were abolished… If love for one another replaced money… If we all did unto others as we want done for ourselves.. I think we Wouldn’t be as fearful.. As stressed.. As angry… As lonely..
Traveling has opened my eyes.. Not only to what I find out there.. But to what I couldn’t see here at home. We took a wrong turn somewhere along our timeline.. A turn that led us right back to everything our forefathers were freeing us from.
“WE, THE PEOPLE…” I wanted to learn about the actual people that wrote our Declaration of Independence. What were we declaring independence from? This is what I found…



 So basically, the colonists enjoyed their freedom they’d found in being neglected by the British.. When the British came back to rule the colonists.. The colonists fought to keep the freedoms they’d found.. Freedom from being ruled by a country where money dictated the power.. And taxes were used to keep the money and power in limited hands. This is why the most memorable part of the Declaration of Independence is
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
Wow! I have to wonder what our forefathers are up there thinking, watching all that America has become. Have we realized their vision for this great nation? Or have we allowed the same greed and thirst for power that governed Britain in the 18th century become our way of life here in the colonies. “All men are equal” yet the likes of Donald Trump is a front runner for Presidency.

While traveling thru Europe, I heard the same repeated message in several countries in regards to America. It’s the country they are most afraid of.. Not Iraq.. Not Syria.. America.. Because in America we have guns. The look on their faces when I tell them I have a gun back home… It’s unimaginable to them. They tell me stories of how we kill ourselves thru school shootings, and mass murder.. How they’re afraid to be a foreigner in our land because all it takes is a second and you could be dead. I can completely understand their concerns. We have the right to bear arms, and we fight daily to keep that right. The reason our fore fathers gave us that right was so that we could fight for ourselves to keep our freedom, should we ever have to. It wasn’t to hunt. It wasn’t to protect ourselves from enemy states.. That’s what the military was for .. It was so that, in the event our government needed to be replaced, we would have the ability to fight for that. Times have changed.
Americans are beautiful people. America, for me, is home. It still is the land of opportunity, where anyone can make their wildest dreams come true. The civilians of this great nation are as good as any other country I’ve visited. They’re completely unaware that our military is out in the world, terrorizing smaller countries.. Being the present day pirates, stealing oil, raping towns and villages, bombing lands and killing people by the millions.. Forcing families to flee and seek refuge, all in the name of “more”. They’re unaware that while they complain about $3 per gallon of petrol, Our allies.. Our nations friends, like France and England, are paying $6-$8 per gallon, but continue to be “friends” so that it doesn’t increase any further.. Sending their military in to drop a couple of bombs in order to share allegiance. The great people of America don’t know that they’re constantly being groomed by the media.. To only know what the government wants them to know.. To create conflict of interests about things like gun control, and foreign affairs.. So that when our government is exposed, we won’t be able to carry out the wishes of our very own Declaration of Independence.
We don’t know that we are no longer free… We don’t know that we are wasteful of precious resources.. That we are noticeably fatter than any other country.. That there’s more to life than Facebook, binge watching Netflix on 60″ TVs, and driving that 2016 convertible off the lot. While people are living in tents year round as their homes, we cringe at the thought of tent camping for fun, and rent a log cabin or an RV instead. We don’t know how good we have it, because the only thing we are repeatedly shown, is the glamorous lives of those who have it better .. The carrot that keeps us going to work for that paycheck to paycheck life so that the rich get richer.


Good Morning America… It’s time to wake up!

RENT A CAR FOR 6 days.. $27!!! Don’t DO IT!

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Today is day three and I am back at the airport returning my rental car. You know, for a frugal traveler… Renting a car shouldn’t even be an option.. But I totally got sold on the follow up email when I booked my flight to Barcelona.

RENT A CAR FOR 6 days.. $27!!!

And it worked.. I clicked .. And even though I knew better from my experience in Ireland,.. I thought about how much of Ireland I was able to see as a result of having that cute little blue car.. And I justified the extra money I knew would surely come at the desk in insurance and fees… And it did!

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Because I don’t possess that evil little piece of plastic known as a credit card, I had to pay a daily insurance rate .. Fortunately, the guys wife was from Alabama, and when I told him I was writing a frugal travel blog, he gave it to me for the lowest price possible. Unfortunately for Firefly, my advice is.. If you’re coming to Barcelona… DON’T get a car!! Here’s why .. Y’all read about my experience losing the car.. So that’s reason number one. Secondly, there isn’t anywhere to park. I’ve spent more gas, driving around looking for parking, than I have actually getting wherever it is I was trying to go. Third.. Gas is expensive here, as it is in all of Europe .. $6 a gallon at least!!! Parking costs 4 cents per minute.. And walking up and down the hills of Barcelona to get to and from your car, once you’ve found parking.. Honestly.. It’s easier to take public transport. When you get to the airport.. Get a T10 card for 10€ at the airports train station. This will give you ten trips which are all good for an hour and 15 minutes if you need to transfer. Three stops and you are in the city center! If you pay per ride it’s 2.10€ per trip.. So this card is a little money saver in itself. Also.. If there’s more than one of you, you can enter the card.. Let it feed thru and leave it there for your friend behind you. It isn’t one per person.. So if you’re going for a weekend.. This works out great! (By the way, this isn’t cheating, I read it in the tourist transit website)

  The bonus of going back to the airport was the people I met on the train to the city center. While walking across the bridge to the train station, there was an elderly French lady who was struggling to walk, pull her luggage, and hold her robe up off the floor so she wouldn’t trip. I offered to pull her baggage for her, doing my good deed for the day. When we got to the station, her son was waiting for her impatiently.. I’ll keep my thoughts to myself about what a jackass he was! They only spoke French, so I helped them understand that they had to take the train to the city and then get a train from there to Paris. Hopefully they made it. On the platform, a guy heard me speaking English with the conductor and pulled me aside for help figuring out what thy needed to do. They were Turkish Muslims, and very friendly! 🙂

I shared my research about the T10 card.. And given that a single ride from the airport to the city was 4.80€ each, the T10 was already saving money!