To survive does not mean living life.  Survival requires that we set aside our personal beliefs and view of the world, and focus on staying alive.  Sometimes, it means hanging onto your immediate family, so it doesn’t fall apart.  Survival is a tool we all have to get through the difficult times in our lives, and come out the other side with only a few scratches.

     After the bottom fell out, I was swimming in a pool of confusion.  My mother always warned me about being homeless, and how I was never to go there.  It was expected of me to work a 9 to 5 job with benefits, and make a “living” from working for someone else.  I tried.  I tried really hard.  I didn’t want to play the political games filled with half-truths and empty promises.  I left the corporate world, because of a supervisor taking me behind closed doors and telling me that I had no right to take a leave of absence the previous year.  She compared her situation with mine.  Apparently, she didn’t need a leave of absence for her situation, so I didn’t need one for mine.  It was in regards to a divorce.

     So, it was over another position in the company.  It was my dream job.  I had applied for the position before, and was 2nd choice.  I changed departments, to be closer to the work site.  It was a photography job within the Boeing company, in flight deck.  I gave her my 2 week notice, because of her veiled threats towards me (the behind closed door thing).

     How exciting it was for me to finally be pursueing my dream. . .photography and writing.  I took out my VIP funds, and took a Spiritual Quest for 15 days on my own through the desert Southwest.  I arrived at the Grand Canyon on April 1st, 1997, and there was no snow when I set-up my tent.  The next morning, there was 6 + inches of snow on the ground.  It was absolutely incredible.  I spent my days writing, taking photographs and soul searching.  After so many years in the corporate world, I needed to find myself, and I did.  It was an incredible trip, filled with snow showers, empty desert scenes, ancient anasazi ruins, wildlife and dreams.  I had finally found inner peace.

     It went well the first two and a half months.  Then, I found out I had endometreosis, and needed surgery.  I didn’t have insurance anymore.  I didn’t have a job that I could leave and come back too.  I only had myself, and my ability to create an income.

     So, I had emergency surgery, and had an ovary removed.  I couldn’t drive for 6 weeks.  I couldn’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds.  I couldn’t even take care of myself, though I thought I was able to.  A good friend asked me the day of the surgery who was going to look after me.  I said I am.  She said no, you’re staying with me.  It was a good thing.  I don’t think I could have done it myself, though I would have done it.

     The world works in mysterious ways.  I was unable to care for myself, and I had a friend step in.  Then, I had a friend get kicked out of his house, and he stayed with me.  He cooked and cleaned, when I couldn’t.  He drove me to the store to get food.  Again, it was a great gift.  He stayed through it all, and is still in my life.  A very special individual, with a heart of gold.  I feel blessed to have him in my life.

     Summer turned to Fall, and Fall to Winter.  We did what we could to pay the rent and bills.  We survived.  I was still pretty weak from the surgery, and it took over a year for me to regain my strength.  I refused to take the strong medications that the doctor wanted me to take, so she said I would never have kids (she was wrong).  Then, something happened.  Things started to stop working.  I can only describe it as life being sucked away.  Suddenly, there wasn’t enough money to pay for things like the phone.  Eventually, there wasn’t enough money to pay the rent.  Everything seemed to evaporate, no matter how hard I tried to make it work.  Then, we were homeless.

     It was as simple as that.  We asked family for help, but no one would help.  It was like going into a free fall, and not being able to stop yourself no matter what you did.  We packed up the entire apartment, and put our stuff in storage.  We could afford that.  We pitched the tent, and paid for a site.  We could afford that too.  We looked for another apartment, and found one.  We asked for some monetary help from a family member, and they turned us down.  It kept spiraling downwards, and we couldn’t stop it.

     I kept my friend from living under a bridge the previous year.  Now, I found myself living in a tent, with my cat and friend. . .

     This is the first time I’ve looked at these events since they happened.  I’ve been afraid of what I might see, and it might reflect badly on me.  It is only when we face our fears, that we truly become ourselves.  I’ve carried these events around for 12 years, and worn them on my body as excess weight.  I’ve had only 2 people notice a difference in my weight.  Both were very positive, but one suggested that I should lose anymore weight.  That was 8 pounds ago.  If I hadn’t lost more, I would have never faced these events in my past, and healed from writing about them in this blog.

     Each of us has an endless amount of potential.  We work hard to create the life we want in this vast world, that is smaller than we think.  There is an incredible power created by our thoughts and outlook on life, and, by looking at our past, we can live a positive present. 

     We can ask the question – what could I have done differently?  But, should/could we have done things differently?  Many times, we do not know the choices we have, until we live through the experiences.  Looking back, it was a difficult time, but I learned a lot.  I learned that I should not take for granted simple things like a place to live, or food on the table.  When I see a homeless person now, I am willing to reach out and offer some assistance (even if it is a dollar for food).  It is up to all of us to create a better present and future for our communities. . .

     ‘Til next time. . .