I'M GRATEFUL FOR...
...a hot shower, but I'm also grateful for baby wipes.
...700 thread sheets, but I'm also grateful for my sleeping bag.
...aIr conditioning , but I'm also grateful for my umbrella that blocks the sun.
...sidewalks with no cracks but I'm also grateful for shoulders with no potholes.
...filtered water, but I'm also grateful for any kind of water.
...deodorant, but I'm also grateful for my earthy stink.
...a 5star, complimentary room at a Hilton in Savannah, Georgia provided by strangers,
but I'm also grateful for a dry tool shed behind a church in Ravenel, South Carolina provided by the Pastor.
I'M GRATEFUL FOR...
...fast food restaurants because they let me use their bathroom without purchasing anything.
...fast food restaurants because they let me use their wifi without purchasing anything.
...fast food restaurants because when I'm really, really hungry, I can purchase something fast.
...fast food restaurants because I could eat something, drink something, go to the bathroom, charge up my phone, look at my map and connect with my host all in one stop.
I'M GRATEFUL FOR...
...sleeping in a room with 100's of big fat palmetto bugs in Awendaw, South Carolina because sleeping with 100's of big fat mosquitos could kill me.
...big blisters on my feet because they remind me that I am alive and I am strong.
...truckers in tractor trailers that whiz by waving because bicyclist standing still at a red light never say 'hello' to me...(and I mean NEVER!)
I’M GRATEFUL FOR everything ...
the not so good,
the uncomfortable and the horrible because everything is there to guide me to my path with Him and that path is what I am MOST grateful for.
Be grateful. Be just. Just Be.
THE ALMIGHTY DOLLAR
A homeless man named Charlie handed me $5 one day and when I looked at him with confusion, he said,
'We have to take care of one another'.
I nodded in agreement and received it respectfully.
I then bought us both a cup of coffee.
'In God we trust' is the official motto of the United States.
I trust the Higher Power with every step in my day and I wouldn't live my day by any other motto.
There are some people who want our motto changed and I suppose they would want it replaced with something like,
'Trust yourself' or 'Trust no one'.
Personally, whenever I trust my own decisions I fall flat on my face.
My decisions suck and I am lost every time.
From what I've seen, the people who don't trust God with their daily decisions or even believe in a power other than themselves never seem truly satisfied with anything.
They complain about everything because everything seems awful.
it usually is.
"In God we trust" is written on money, and for me, this is very confusing.
It is confusing.
The desire for more money runs rampant in our world, and sadly,
the amount of money that one has still defines the actual value that one feels about their self, and more sadly,
the value one feels about others.
I saw it daily as I backpacked down the coast with $10 in my pocket.
I saw it in the eyes of those with lots of money who looked at me with suspicion as I walked through their suburban neighborhoods.
I saw it in the eyes of those holding a sign that said, "Hungry. Need food" who looked at me with envy because I had a backpack, nice walking shoes and a smile on my face.
Both scenarios saw me as a threat to their 'net worth' and both scenarios defined me by how I looked or what I carried.
I walked the East Coast, 10 miles a day, 983 miles for 198 days.
I didn't know exactly where I would sleep or if the direction I was going was safe,
but every day I was fed, sheltered and provided for because I trusted God, not money.
I walked through the valley of death and feared nothing.
I walked through ghettos.
I stayed in mansions and man caves.
I stayed with strangers with manicured lawns and with strangers with no lawns at all.
I stayed with single women, single men and I stayed with many families.
I stayed outside.
I walked beside highways and down country roads.
I noticed that the rich looked polished on the way to their jobs and the poor looked impoverished on the way to theirs. Both 'looks' being detrimental to the money that they made that day and both 'looks' defining how they appeared to one another.
I don't care how others see me, only how God sees me, and thankfully God doesn't care how I look nor provide for me based on how I look.
God provided me with food and shelter through the 'Stranger Angels' that were put in my path and it was provided to me because in God I trusted.
It's a great motto.
Too bad more people don't trust it,
or read it.
It's right in their pockets,
on their money.
'ARE YOU WALKING FOR A CAUSE?'
(They would ask.)
Yes, I'm walking for a cause,
the 'BE' Cause.
I'm walking because I was born a human 'being', not a human 'doing'.
I'm walking because I need some fun in my life and I think this is fun.
I'm walking because I get to meet a lot of people and I really like people.
I'm walking because I'm tired of working 50 hour weeks and still struggle to buy food.
I'm walking because I pay my credit cards on time and they still jackup my interest rate.
I'm walking because I don't have credit cards anymore.
I'm walking because I don't have any 'thing' anymore.
I'm walking because I see my friends working until they die and dying before they live.
I'm walking because it feels right...to me.
I'm walking because it relieves stress.
I'm walking because it fixed my back and neck problems.
I'm walking because oxygen is good.
I'm walking because I'm a nomadic animal.
I'm walking so others see that even if something seems impossible, crazy to others and a bit risky that it's still okay to do.
I'm walking because 'THEY' don't want me to walk. They want me to stay in one place, pay rent, work a job for 30 years and then buy drugs to keep myself alive.
I'm walking because I can.
HONOR THY TEMPLE
Simple pleasures aren't so simple!
Yummy desserts, fat juicy steaks, sweet beverages and idle time will destroy your body, the physical Temple that you've been gifted.
All are so pleasurable but in excess can be extremely toxic.
How often do you think about your body as a sacred Temple?
How often do you think about your body as a vehicle, your only vehicle, to do good work, the vehicle to help others, the vehicle to take care of our planet?
How can you truly do good work if your Temple is sick AND tired?
Toxic food is abundant and easily accessible,
just like the TV,
the video games,
the never ending, repetitive 'fear-based' news,
You can get sucked into 'easy', and our mind, body and Spirit perish.
You can sit on the couch, watch fear based crime shows while eating a bag of chips and not even once think about how the idle time, negative energy and toxic food is damaging your entire Temple.
If you indulge in too many simple pleasures, you are minimizing your time on Mother Earth and disrespecting the Temple provided to you to do good intention.
Take care of your Temple.
It's your gift to others.
There's a drug called 'Island Time' and it's my new addiction.
Being a recovering addict, (which still makes me an addict) it's crucial to my existence to have something that I can cling to in excess.
I've been addicted to
My new addiction is 'Island Time'. I feel the withdrawal when I don't have it and I run to it when I can get to it.
This addiction began when I walked the entire Outer Banks in North Carolina.
I 'tripped' for 75 miles. I took one 'hit' and I was hooked.
The 'trip' was euphoric, relaxing and stress free.
I got a 'buzz' in Topsail Island, Emerald Isle and ultimately found the best 'fix' in the Florida Keys.
On 'Island Time', there really isn't a 'time'. The time is 'eventually'.
People move slower and the 'now' really is happening now...or later.
Today I figured out why I want to keep this addiction permanently in my life.
The Mainland is a neurotic energy of craziness that sucks you into capitalism,
and every other 'ism' that keeps you divided and separate from one another.
Busy, busy, busy.
Hurry, hurry, hurry.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
'Corporate chaos' at it's finest.
I woke up.
When I walked down the East Coast, I watched my fellow Americans lose their minds, their health, their cool, their children, their parents, and most of all, their Souls due to the Mainland 'isms'.
I know eventually I'll have to revisit the Mainland because my 'work' is there but for 'now'...
I'm on 'Island Time', my new drug.
If you need a 'hit', let me know,
I'll hook you up...
'GOOD FOR NOTHING',
It was day 5 of my East Coast trek.
Trenton, New Jersey.
It was almost my last day.
I almost didn't see Day 6.
I was such a 'stupid bohemian' back then.
It was 90° outside.
I walked with no sunscreen, no umbrella.
I walked on the sunny side of the street.
I walked fifteen miles a day and I barely drank any water.
I barely carried any water.
Being a 'rookie' was an understatement and I was almost down for the count,
in Trenton, New Jersey.
Not the place to fall on your ass.
God sent me my first real Angel.
She had a halo.
I saw it.
An 87 year old Latino woman who didn't speak English.
Her Spanish didn't make sense.
An 87 year old woman with Alzheimers from Columbia who didn't speak English.
She spoke Spanish to me with a smile on her face and she didn't understand my situation and it was hard to tell her my situation in my broken down Spanish.
I could barely speak English.
I tried to understand her Spanish.
I tried to speak Spanish.
I was seeing double and I was going down for the count.
Not the place to fall on your ass.
Did I mention that?
Let me tell you again.
I was walking down the sidewalk,
in Trenton, New Jersey.
at high noon,
Cars going by, people walking past.
An angel appears with a smile.
She waves at me.
I wave back.
I walk towards her dilapidated apartment and sit down on her dilapidated porch.
She rambles on in Spanish telling me something about her daughter.
She leaves me alone on her dilapidated porch.
She returns with blackberries, sugar, water and ice.
In a glass.
I find out that she's an illegal immigrant from Columbia.
An illegal immigrant who hand muddled fresh blackberries and sugar, added water and poured it over ice not caring if I was her friend or foe.
She rescued me.
She absolutely, undeniably rescued me.
She was the only one there from me.
She restored my energy,
so I could see straight,
and understand her Spanish.
She didn't judge me.
She never stopped smiling.
She saved me from spending Day 5 in the hospital.
She went back inside her dilapidated apartment and returned to her dilapidated porch with two oranges, a bottled water, a chicken wrap and a nutritional shake in her hand.
She fed me.
She cared about me.
Why did she care about me?
Didn't she know?
Didn't she know that she was an illegal immigrant in a country where many people didn't want her here?
Didn't she know?
Didn't she know that those same people want to build a 'wall' so she can't be here?
Those damn, 'good for nothing' illegal immigrants in Trenton,
who risked their lives to save their mother's life from a violent country,
who hide her in a dilapidated apartment with a dilapidated porch so she doesn't get deported back to a country where she will surely be robbed, killed or die alone.
Those damn, 'good for nothing' illegal immigrants,
who work hard,
who love God,
who risk their lives to come to a country,
where they are hated,
just so they can clean our toilets, wash our floors,
mow our lawns,
pick our vegetables,
and work in our slaughterhouses to feed their families,
and to muddle a 'stupid bohemian' a life saving beverage.
Those damn, 'good for nothing' illegal immigrants.
Don't they know?
SEPARATE WITH LOVE
Separation is often an uncomfortable state of 'mind'.
Whether it be separating with pain, anger, enthusiasm or love, it makes us feel uncomfortable, or specifically, unsettled.
"Why?", I ask myself today.
Maybe because we are 'pack' animals by nature and we need one another to feel complete, validated or even alive. The physical act of separating leaves us alone for awhile and even briefly it can be 'lonely'. We separate frequently and we rarely think about the very act of it but experience the emotion of it.
When I think of separation in my own life, I think of the painful ones. Some that were permanent and some that are temporary, all are uncomfortable.
I've had to walk away from family members, friends, work associates and even strangers, where the very act of separating from them was an uncomfortable experience.
But why does separation have to be a negative experience?
Today, I choose to look at separation, any separation, past or present, with love.
Stepping away from a place, person, or a thing can create amazingly positive results.
Stepping 'back' creates clarity.
Stepping 'from' shows perspective.
Stepping 'towards' brings excitement.
Separating from anything or anyone will always be and to think of it in any other way besides love is not trusting the path.
Separate with love and try to smile through it.
It will be temporary.
It always is.
I've been sober for 20 years.
Tomorrow it will be 20 years and one day.
One more day to live soberly.
I can't say that sobriety was an easier road than drunkenness.
At least being drunk I could hide from it all.
The 'Holy shit, where the hell did that memory come from. I need a drink'.
Deal with it Sister.
Your life is yours.
The good, the bad and the 'Holy Shit'!
The path to '20' was horrible at times.
I lost my friends.
I lost some family.
I lost a social life.
I lost the 'funny me'.
I became serious.
I isolated A LOT.
I didn't smile nearly as much and didn't laugh for most of the '20'.
I had to find out soberly why I drank to begin with,
and take it from me, that part is really horrible.
I learned new survival skills and most of them were unhealthy.
I found new addictions like work, coffee, chocolate cake, watching movies...alone.
I was anti-social.
I'm still kind of anti-social so I have to accept that part as the actual me.
My career was in the restaurant business, the music business, the bar business and doing any of that soberly wasn't nearly as fun as working that job with an 'on the job' cocktail with all my addicted guests or an 'afterwork' cocktail with all my addicted friends.
Those friends are no longer my friends anymore.
We have nothing in common anymore.
I no longer 'bought the round' or 'took a shot'.
I no longer was around.
I was shot.
For many of my sober years I wasn't happy.
I couldn't understand why being at my best made me feel at my worst.
I knew the path would be difficult but I never intended it to be so lonely.
The voice within assured me to trust the path and I trusted my inner voice with my path. It just seemed to be such a long one.
'20' years sober.
It took 20 years for me to finally say that it was worth the 'time'.
I lost my ego.
I left my work.
I laugh at myself and I smile all the time.
I listen to the Voice now, I mean really listen
I love myself.
I love myself.
I really love myself.
I understand the sober journey and I wouldn't change a thing,
or ask for any of those years back to appreciate better.
I was supposed to be alone, to isolate, to feel, to be sad, to remember, to regret, to be ashamed, to forgive, to never forget, to start over, to love again.
To love again,
I am sober.
I am happy.
I am in love,
and because I love myself, respect myself and have a relationship with me,
I can love others, be respectable and have healthy relationships with others.
I now can help the 'others'.
Those who haven't given themselves one day.
Those who need to understand that they are worth it too and the long painful path is part of their life and so worth it.
It really is beautiful.
I am beautiful.
I am sober,
YOU SHOW RESPECT, YOU GET RESPECT
Almost every day, someone in my path, always a white person, would ask me if I was afraid.
"Are you carrying a gun?"
"Do you carry pepper spray?"
And my customary response was,
"No, I'm cautious, I don't walk at night, I'm off the road by 3pm and I've dated enough criminals in my life to know that they need to sleep too".
In reality though, the question was completely understandable considering how our media depicts us on TV, particularly those who live in underfunded neighborhoods. Our media keeps us afraid of one another whether we are black, white, Muslim, Christian, fat, skinny, tattooed, pierced, gay, straight, wear old clothing, drive a rusty car or own a pit bull. My journey was about walking through cities and urban neighborhoods specifically for this reason and I wanted to speak to everyone and anyone who wanted to speak to me too. I wanted to prove that people are people and if you demonstrate
respect, you get respect.
The trek often went through underfunded neighborhoods where 'white t-shirts' were standing on every corner, but if you think about I, what kind of threat was I unless I was going to set up shop and interfere with their 'business'. In my experience, things get 'cut throat' in any neighborhood when a new business person arrives and I was no threat to anyone, I was just passing through.
I had no business.
Some of my best conversations were with people who were 'shootin' the shit' with one another, holding a piece of cardboard asking for food or doing 'business' on the corner.
Most of the time I would be stopped in my tracks and asked, 'Girl, where are you going, are you lost or something?'
I guess a 50 year old woman carrying a backpack wasn't usually seen in these neighborhoods but it definitely opened up some great conversation about my journey and the life that I led prior to leaving.
"WHAT! You walked from New York?"
"You're walking to Miami?"
"How heavy is that backpack?"
"Girl, you're crazy!"
'Girl, you're crazy' was my favorite one liner because a lot of the people I know would have thought I was crazy to be walking through those neighborhoods. Yes, underfunded neighborhoods can be dangerous, no doubt, but no more dangerous than the highways that I traveled during morning rush hour.
I found 'Corporate Americans' to be substantially more dangerous to me than any 'Criminal Americans'. The most dangerous part of my walk was on the shoulders of highways where commuters were texting and not paying attention to me or the cars around them. I was almost killed by a texting driver in Severna Park, Maryland and was ready to lay down my pack that day for good because of it.
Underfunded neighborhoods was where I found the most peace, the most laughter, the most acceptance, the least amount of judgement and the most bottled water. My life as an only parent was oppressive for many years. Standing in line for food happened several times and budgeting a $50 a week food bill was a way of life.
I found that many households in manicured neighborhoods would throw away their cans and bottles, they didn't even recycle them. If I wasn't already carrying a backpack, I could have easily made an extra $10 a day in recycled cans and bottles, not to mention the bottles and cans littered along our highways. That extra money would have provided me or someone else with an extra meal that day.
I felt at home in underfunded neighborhoods and even though I didn't 'look' like I belonged there, I knew how to behave when I was walking through them.
I related to how life is lived when you have a deficit every month and I didn't fear the people who lived in these neighborhoods because of that. I respected their daily struggles.
I gave a shit.
I was most comfortable walking through the 'hood' than any manicured neighborhood because manicured neighborhoods didn't want a sweaty backpacker walking on their roads. Property values went down the moments that I was walking by their houses and God forbid a realtor with a client saw me when they were showing a property. A plastic faced woman in Vero Beach told me to put my umbrella down because it wasn't raining.
Sorry Sister, I don't answer to you and it's protecting me from the sun.
I didn't walk through one rich neighborhood that anyone stopped and offered me a ride, a bottled water or a smile. All that was offered was a scowl with the thought of 'what is she doing in my neighborhood?' They never waved back when I waved. It didn't take long for me to realize that city streets was the safest place for me 'to be'. If I needed anything, I would ask for help and I was always offered assistance.
You show respect, you get respect.
It's the code of 'the streets'.