The shame of never leaving your comfort zone.


I think every single person should at some point live outside their hometown, their comfort zone.  Why?  Because unless we look outside of ourselves we will never see the World outside of our own perspective.  I am a firm believer in this, I beg you to move away from everything you know and cut off your support system just to see what life is like outside your own box.

me

Today I was asked by a co-worker, as we were discussing, yet again the current state of racial tension in the States, if I was ever afraid of black people.  Please understand that this was a Jamaican asking me an honest question and I am responding genuinely.  Growing up there were only 3 people of color and very few Hispanics in my school/home town.  (A place I never return to and never talk about.)  You see, sadly I did not grow up in Seattle, but it is where I found myself.  I grew up in the boonies, as we say in my area, here in Jamaica you would say the bush.  I grew up in a very conservative area with a very Evangelical upbringing.  So when asked if I feared black people, men specifically, I had to answer yes.

community-love

I grew up not knowing the culture, not being exposed to it and never interacting with anyone different from myself.  I grew up in the 80’s when gangs were primarily a black problem and black men were likely drug dealers, pimps and gang bangers.  Avoiding them was the best course of action.  I grew up being taught to fear the unknown.  Most of us are.

This shocked my co-workers and I then explained even further one of my tipping points.  I moved to Seattle with an abusive controlling men, I just did not realize it immediately because I wanted to escape my life in the boonies.  He used to tell me that me and my children would be mugged readily because we stood out.  We acted like outsiders and were easy pickings.  He even called my son “Opie Taylor”, ya know from the Andy Griffith Show.  I will never forget the feeling of determination I had to fit in and not stand out.

I remember seeing a black man on the street and would cross the street if the area was less traveled to avoid being a target, because my mental model was that all gang bangers were black, therefore black men were dangerous.  This is an easy stereo type to perpetuate when you never step outside your comfort zone. This was my first year and a half in Seattle.  Always super aware and avoiding contact.

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One night I stayed out late at  friends home across town.  We got back super late to our final bus stop.  As we crossed the road to get to that bus stop an old white man in a convertible Mercedes drove past us and said some nasty comment to my daughter, who was no more than 12 at the time.  Once she told me what he said and that it made her uncomfortable, I was super vigilant.  We sat at the bus stop when a crack head sat next to us.  This was a ragged looking street thug who happened to be a black man.  I was already on edge and now I have to worry about this guy lighting up a crack pipe next to my kids.  I was scared to death and very uncomfortable.  The Mercedes pedophile circled back around the corner to where we were again and made another comment.  At this point I knew I needed to go.  I told the kids to get up and we stared walking the 5 blocks across the bridge and up the hill home.

The crack head proceeded to follow us!  I must stop and clarify that he had track marks up his arms and his eyes were sunk in and face very gaunt, he definitely had drug issues.  I am now scared to death.  I try to walk faster and this guy is still following us.  He stayed about a half a block back and never got that close to us, but damn he gonna know where we live now!  As we go to the Y intersection where we lived the crazy bastard in the Mercedes cut us off before we could get to the cross walk.  At this point I am between the pedophile and the crack head with no alternatives.  Suddenly a gaunt hand lands on my shoulder and the crack head whispers to me, go on mama get your babies home, I got this!

We crossed the street and I sent the kids up with the keys as I turned around from the safety of the stairwell to see that crack head smack the pedophile and smash his head into the steering wheel.  In that moment I felt so ashamed.  I was horrified that I feared this man who actually became my angel.  He must have noticed the incident at the original cross walk and decided that I needed help. The fact that he was a drug addict means nothing, the fact that he was a black man means nothing, the fact that he was human and showed an immense compassion and humanity to assist a single mom in  time of great stress.

This was my tipping point.   I tried to let go of my prejudice and stop avoiding people based on appearances.  I still struggle with some of my old mental models, but I now understand that underneath we are human and you never know who means to harm you and who is going to defend you.  I would have never gotten to this point if I had not left my comfort zone and found my own belief system.  I have not judged anyone based on looks or the fact that they seem to be a drug addict since that incident.  My children are also far more open-minded than I ever was at their age, they do not hold a person to a standard based on outside appearances and that is my greatest accomplishment.

Both my co-worker told me that they were happy that I no longer feared black people and that I had let go of my prejudices.  They also told me that I needed to blog that story out because it might be powerful for someone else.

I could have never gotten here if I had not moved out of my comfort zone.  And I think that this is the most powerful move anyone can make, find your own way, find your own belief system.  The only thing I would change at this point is not waiting so long to see people as people and not as a color or a race.  My life would have been blessed so much more if I had allowed myself to see this much sooner.

 

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The night of the 40 legs!


The last few weeks I have fallen into a slow-paced routine.  I have had three site visits and a project, but mostly I have been working on my CASI.  CASI= Community and Sector Inventory and it is a huge document not only for yourself but your counterparts and community and Peace Corps.  You see in Peace Corps we spend a good portion of the first four months integrating and looking at how our community can improve.  More important, this document is supposed to be driven by the community.  We are given a set of PACA tools to utilize as we see fit. (PACA= Participatory Analysis for Community Action)  What this means is I gather information in a variety of ways to get to know the needs of my community from the people in my community.  Some of the issues with this process happen to be that rumors about you being a spy or part of some governmental conspiracy can and often do come up.  So pulling out a large piece of paper to have people draw a map may look overly suspicious.  Yes I have heard this rumor run around about myself, so I stopped writing in my notebook and just started having conversations.  Each community and assigned volunteer is different.  There is no one right way to gather this information and I have found group meetings and casual conversations to be my best options.

I felt like I did not have enough information until I started to write-up my CASI.  I immediately realized that I have much more knowledge about the community than many of the people who have lived here their entire life.  Funny how that works out.  As a rule each individual sees different things that they find important within the community.  No one person sees things the same and it helps direct my next move to know as many points of view as possible.

I spent much time the last few weeks working on this document.   So much time that my head some days hurts so bad.  I feel that I am headed in the correct direction and even on days that I feel useless I am actually doing something.  This week has been extremely busy for me even though I have spent much of it just sitting around.  This last weekend I went to visit one of my host families from training.  I was asked why I had never invited my host sister over to visit during the summer she was so bored.  I had no idea she wanted to visit all she had to do was tell me she was coming and I would have made sure she had a good time.  So we now have an agreement that my host sister will come over whenever she has extra days off.

Monday was a cleaning day since I was to have a visitor on Tuesday.  So I spent the entire day cleaning and planning.  Tuesday I spent making coffee and having a site visit with my Country Director.  It is nice to spend some time with staff and show off some of the things you have done.  I love showing off the new mural.  Even though it is not done it looks good and I am proud that I designed something the farmers embraced.  Another painting day is to happen soon.  It is funny that when you bring other Americans out into the community the people are more energized.  The farmers seem to love having visitors and I love to see them get pumped up and excited about things.  Even small things can change the demeanor of the entire group.

host family

This week was the first week of a group of dental assistants and technicians and even dentist offering free dental in the community.  This will happen for three weeks.  I normally sit down at the community center during Wednesday mornings.  This week I spend it talking with different community members, and there was a heap of them hoping to get teeth cleaned or more serious dental work done.  So next week I anticipate the same type of group.  It is very exciting to see people seeking any type of health care.  Dental often gets overlooked but healthy teeth are indicative of healthy bodies.

I have not been to the beach of near any water body for 2 weeks.  Wednesday afternoon was spent rectifying that!  I have this lovely hotel on the beach that has a pool and a small bar with a restaurant.  For the cost of  a soda or coffee I can stay there all day utilizing their facilities.  One of the best deals around!  Sometimes the ocean is just what you need.  The salt water and fresh breeze are often soul healing.  I needed it and am so glad I took the time to go.

Thursday was an active day and when I say active it means I got off my butt and went out on my bike!  I had made an appointment to meet the new group of tour guide students.  I rode my bike the farthest and the fastest I have yet to ride.  I stopped at one of the local primary schools to talk to the 4-H director and the principle.  One of the main focuses of the Green Initiative, my sector, is to do youth education.  The local basic school is on the fence about working with me so I stopped to talk to the local primary school.  The Principal was more than happy to have my help.  She has already found two small projects that will not cost a lot or take much time to execute.  She wants to use the environment as a teaching tool!  Good for her I support this a whole heap!

I then rode down the rest of the hill to meet the tour guide students.  Not knowing exactly why I was asked to come down I waited to meet them until they had a break.  The instructor asked if I could just explain why I was here and what my goals and focus were.  I introduced the idea of Agro-tourism and Eco-tourism and why they were important and the new shift in tourism expanding outside of the all-inclusive resorts and more into a cultural exchange.  I talked about how important trying to understand other cultures was the basis for World Peace, yes I still have this insatiable hope for this one day in my lifetime!

The problem with going down a hill, super fun and fast, I might add, is that you must at some point go back up said hill.  Going up it feels more like a mountain!  I made it past the halfway mark before I had to stop and rest, of course there was a man standing there when I stopped to get my water bottle out.  He asked me if I remembered who he was, why yes I do.  “Yuh know mi a leke yuh?”  Yeah I know but I am married and happily at that.  “To a Jamaican?” Seriously dude what difference does it make whether he is Jamaican or American, Japanese or African?  I am married his cultural background changes nothing!  Dear Jamaican men, contrary to what you believe, not every white woman comes to Jamaica for the Big Bamboo!  Get over yourselves and learn some manners!

I did ride off and then had to walk up a steep loose rock hill to get off the main road.  No way to climb that hill the rocks just slide under you.  I got lost too.  In my own community I got lost!  I soon got directions in the right direction, luckily I knew the name of the road I was looking for.  I finally made it back to the community and spent some time catching my breath, stretching and dreading my ride back into the scheme.  I can tell you I slept very well that night!

Oh I missed the craziness of Tuesday night!  In the middle of the night Richard texted my iPad!  It woke me up but as I rolled over I had a great pain under my breast. I reached over and felt a large painful lump.  So I panicked.  Because you know it was a lump in my breast, I must have………. breast cancer!   Shit! I cried and texted Richard for an hour about it.  I finally fell back asleep but it was not restful.  The next morning I looked in the mirror, because in the night the last thing I want to do is go turn the light on and look!  As I looked at it I determined it looked  much like a bite of some kind.  The doctor agreed but told me to keep an eye on it.  Crisis averted, or was it?   As I was getting ready to make my breakfast I noticed a 40 leg in my apartment!  I had heard these were nasty and prevalent but had never seen a live one here yet!  I got a jar and collected it for Richard.  (Do not even ask!)  I suspect this little bastard is what bit me, or a spider, but since I caught this one I want to think it was him!

This nasty bastard is still alive in the sealed jar, what gives?
This nasty bastard is still alive in the sealed jar, what gives?

What is a 40 leg?  It is what the Jamaicans refer to a centipede as.  And they can be quite poisonous!  My host dad was telling me I needed to spray.  Man the last thing I want to do is spray.  I was hoping to avoid it!

Friday I spent writing up my CASI and panicking.  I had other things I should have done but the CASI sucked up my entire day!  In the end there was a ton of coffee, and a ton of frustration.  Overall I think I have a good base on the document, just need to finish a couple more sections, proof it and have my supervisor help me with a one-year work plan.  As I was winding down my day I sat watching an old Alfred Hitchcock movie.  I noticed what looked like a moth on my leg so I flicked it off.  I have no idea why I even looked down on my leg, but lucky for me I did.  That moth was actually another 40-leg!  OMG!  There must be a nest of them just hatched in here somewhere.  I now know that there is a great need for me to spray now!  I stomped on the stupid thing and it did not die!  Holy crap, what in the hell? I stomped on it again and it still did not die!  Are your freaking serious!  What the hell I have an apartment full of super 40-legs!  I am so gonna turn into a spray freak!  The ants were vexing me but they are not going to poison me, just annoy me.  The 40-leg must die!  Where are all my damn lizards and toads?  Or any other creature that will eat these bastards!  I would rather deal with a cockroach!  Seriously a cockroach is nasty but not lethal!

This guy was not dying easily!
This guy was not dying easily!

So now I have a new bedtime ritual!  Pull all pillows and sheets off my bed.  Shake out the mosquito net, shake out blankets and pillows.  Encase bed in net until I am ready to crawl in.  Shake out my sleeping clothes and cautiously crawl into bed and retuck the net.  There better not be a need for a nighttime visit to the toilet because it aint gonna happen!  The other part of my new ritual, to be so super focused on my skin that even a loose hair sends me screaming to the bathroom!  Yeah I am totally a tough girl, right?  Peace Corps, what doesn’t kill you just makes you stronger, or makes your screams stronger!

Fight or Flight?


Growing up I was very quiet and very subdued.  My mother was strict to the point of near abuse.  It always felt like she had a vendetta against me.  It caused me to have a stronger flight than fight reaction to fear.  As I got older and took control of my life my fight syndrome took a stronger hold.  It started when I was 17 almost 18.  My mother came at me and I punched her.  The fear I had of her retribution caused me to back down before I got very far.  I knew I was moving out soon, so the fight was not worth the retribution I would receive.  Around the same time I nearly beat my tormentor in school.  He stuck a fire extinguisher in my locker and after four years of sexual harassment, I had enough.  I grabbed the extinguisher and ran after him.  He asked me about it years later, I told him he was lucky he could run faster than me, if I would have caught him I would have bludgeoned him to unconsciousness.  I may have had some repressed anger issues.

As an adult my husband was somewhat of a bully.  Everything we did was based on his desires.  We lived so far out of our means that I was struck with fear, again.  I live simply, and I would have been happy with the simple things, if he would not have pushed to have bigger and better.  When my daughter was born my schedule at work was jacked.  I was so pissed that I did the one thing in my life that my husband basically forbid me to do.  I started college.  This move caused great stress in our marriage and pushed my fear even closer to the surface.  After I graduated things did not get better.  He was still bullying me, he will tell you that I bullied to get my way, but ultimately he had control over all financial matters.  This is why I still owe for my undergrad degree.  He made me defer it to the point that it accrued at least an extra $15000.  I have the degree, I will pay, but I do feel that if he had pared down we could have made a few payments during the last few years of our marriage.  It had been 17 years since I graduated, that debt should be paid off by now.

After we separated I fought hard to buy a new home.  This decision was based on a dream that he pushed onto me.  The idea that I walked away from our home and needed a home for the kids and the pets that we had, was mine.  Needing to buy a house was his family’s idea.  I wanted a bigger apartment, but a house was a nice idea.  The moment we bought the house we were always stressing about bills.  I never knew if I would have money for formula and diapers.  My husband kept me on such a tight budget, well not even a budget.  We ate at his parents often.  We also ate at his work place, but then he acted like it was an issue.  He should have either gave me a bit of money to feed the family or he should have found a way to help provide.  No matter what the money issues had nothing to do with my going to school, we were not paying the loans at that time.  Yes I am still angry about these things.  I am also frustrated by my falling into the home ownership trap a second time.  I answered an ad in the rental section, next thing you know I am applying for a loan.  I gave the deposit money, not fully understanding what I was getting into.  Ultimately I lost the home and my job, but before that I went to jail.  In the chaos of buying this place, which I could not back out of, or I would lose my deposit.  I had no money for starting over so losing it was terrifying.  My ex decided to file documents against me at this time.

I had left my children with him for a couple of weeks while I was supposed to be moving and finishing up the paperwork.  In the midst of this, he threatened me and I had a fight reaction.  I stood my ground as he swung a cell phone at my face, I managed to duck and slapped him across the face.  I spent the night in jail.  I tend to fear my fight syndrome a bit.

When I moved to Seattle, I moved there with a boyfriend.  This man was like a stick of dynamite.  I was always fearing setting him off.  In my mind staying with abusive men is beyond my capacity to understand.  Having lived with this man, I now understand why women stay with abusers.  When they threaten to burn the house down with everyone inside if you leave them.  If you call the police on them their family will execute you.  Seriously you get such a mindfuck, you have no idea what the truth is.  Eventually you just accept everything, just to keep the peace.  At some point he pushed me too far.  I gave him the most glorious black eye, twice in the same hour!  It felt good to step up and defend myself.  Eventually I gained my confidence to trust my fight syndrome and I fought back, this time with the cops on my side.

As I face my current fear, my flight syndrome is what I am following.  This is more because I am fearful of my fight syndrome.  The guy downstairs elevates my stimuli so much that I may not be able to just stand with a verbal altercation.  I fear my fight syndrome. I know what I am capable of, and in an area I am not ground in, allowing my fight syndrome to be released could ultimately have dire effects.  Worse than when I assaulted my husband, worse than when I assaulted my ex-boyfriend. I have too much to lose now, before I had nothing left to lose.  I need to keep my fight syndrome in check for a few more weeks and follow my flight and avoidance instincts.  This does not make me a coward, this makes me educated and in control of my emotions.  It has taken me a very long time to get to this point, and I do feel very cowardly, but I realize that I need to remain in control or I may end any possibility of serving in the Peace Corps, and ultimately that is more important than looking like a coward.

Power over Fear


I started reading a book from grad school this week.  A book that I did not read during grad school.  In fact I skimmed a few books but did not actually read most of my required texts for grad school.  This book is called “You Have The Power:  Choosing Courage in a Culture of Fear.”  This was a timely decision based on my current living situation.  I have posted about how much I hate living here.  I have posted about the difficulties with the neighbor.  I tried to resolve the issue with the landlord, this got me a 3 day notice to quit.  Apparently just walking around is harassing the neighbor, although he only tells me directly about it and never talks to the landlord.  I am the one who is begging to move from this apartment.  I tried to come to resolution with them, to the point that I consulted a lawyer.

My issue at this point is that I am living in fear.  Fear of confrontation with the neighbors, fear of talking to the landlord, fear of moving around in my own home, these fears are based in my inability to feel at home here.  The fact that my partner is not happy or at ease here intensifies my fear and discomfort.  Hopefully this book will enlighten me and lift my spirits a bit.  Just knowing that we have a month left is a huge pressure lifted.  So at this point we are breaking a lease.  In light of the situation the lawyer feels that they will just keep our deposit and call it good.  It isn’t like they have troubles filling these units, the problem for us is that we are outsiders.

Check out my helmet!
Check out my helmet!

Today I decided to just go out.  Did not have a point, other than to get away and read this book.  I ended up at this cool little French Bistro in Fair Oaks.  The chef is French, he is heavily accented.  Fair Oaks is one of my favorite nearby areas, and I wish I would have biked there today, but I was uncertain where I would end up.  I will miss this town, fortunately it is right on the bike trail, which I will live on in my new home.  Fair Oaks is unique in that there are many chickens running around.  These are mostly roosters and they just wander around.  Apparently this is a rescue sanctuary.  It is actually illegal to hit them with your car and you will get a ticket.  I should make it an effort to go out to Fair Oaks weekly, just to balance myself out.  I find myself suffering from depression, and finding some peace and solitude is always welcome.

I have been putting off talking with the landlords about leaving.  I am stricken with fear of them.  Never before in my life, even when I was having issues paying rent, have I been afraid to approach the landlords.  I had no issues until the last time I talked with these landlords.  Last time, I asked to switch apartments or shorten our lease.  She said she would get back with me and never did.  The next week I received a 3 day to quit notice.  So it is not illogical to fear speaking with them.  I do not want to destroy my rental record, but as the new landlord informed me, I moved to an area I was not familiar with, how was I to know that we would not be happy here.  Apparently the new place management used to manage this location.  They had issues with crime, specifically a stabbing that occurred in common walkways and not one resident came out to help or call the police.  This is not how we operate.  I have already called the police on a guy I saw beating a woman in the complex next door.

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In Seattle there was no way that I would stand by and watch people getting abused.  To the point that I would endanger myself, so I overrode my fear in the prospect of abuse.  Yet here I allow my fear to paralyze me.  I think it may be the level of discomfort and also the fact that I have no support here.  Aside from Richard and another couple that live nearby, I have no human contact during the day.  This escalates fear and paralyzes action.  I have had an apartment that was not conducive to neighbor interaction, but I never felt isolated there.  I had local bars and coffee shops that I could meet people at.  That is not the case here.  There is nothing within walking distance for social interactions.

The official countdown has begun.


I have 52 days left stateside.  I am happy and anxious and a little sad all at once.  Got all my final lab results in this week.  Unless something is amiss, I have no more medical appointments.  Just catching up on the bills and packing stuff up.  Lucky for me this month is 30 days of biking month.  I missed yesterday, I think the weather was depressing and a bit cold, I bought ice cream and cuddled up in a blanket and watched TV.  Yeah I do not so much like the gray skies.  They pretty much depress me.

I have started helping in some local classrooms in my excessive free time.  I could go get a real job, but that seems like a bad idea.  I really like the students and find their various academic abilities to be fascinating.  I have never really thought about being a teacher before.  Yet here I am counting down the days until I am put in charge of my own classrooms.

Today I meet up with a friend and we are going to bike somewhere.  No real agenda, just somewhere.  I kind of just need to get out of the house and the weather looks decent.  I have been packing up some of my winter gear as I get ready to leave.  I know that I will not be needing insulated anything in Liberia.

I have borrowed Richard’s car this week.  His birthday is Tuesday and I wanted to make him something special.  This requires a trip to a store I cannot access by bike.  I am sure I could if I could figure out how to get there, but then there is the shopping to be done and I am making excuses.   I thought that since I have the car, maybe I should pack some of my stuff up and take it to my dad’s.  All my stuff is stored there.  I do not have much stuff, but the few things I cannot take with me will go to dad’s.  Since I am headed down south, I may as well stop off and see my mom, and anyone else that is around that day.  I have one friend that I will stop and see for sure.

Crazy as it sounds, I have one suitcase almost completely packed up.  It is mostly clothes and DVD’s and books that I will not be using here.  The second suitcase is partially packed, actually it is more of storage for things I don’t need here, but will over there.  I only have a few items left to get.  I need a couple of can openers, some toiletries, a swiss army knife and perhaps a hammock.  I also need to have a bit of cash to carry on me.

As I get closer to the day, I feel more anxious.  This is not a huge surprise.  I tend to over think and over plan everything.  I totally overpacked for my ride last summer.  Now I have to plan for 27 months, I know much of what I have can be purchased there, but still some comforts of home are nice.

I have been in a Facebook group with current volunteers and many of the people who I will be heading over with.  I at least will have an idea of who I am with and what to expect.  The most current thing is the Ebola outbreak in Guinea.  This is a very serious and scary disease.  As much as I am against ridiculous vaccinations, there are certain things one must do to protect oneself.  I am not going to go to a location with water and sanitation issues and malaria and not be prepared.  As much as I hate DEET, you bet your big toe I will use it.

In our society there are many things that I take for granted.  I am not a fan of chlorination of the water supply, but know it is needed. The whole floridated water is upsetting to me.  But these are things I will likely embrace when water is scarce and sketchy.

Stupid WordPress did not publish this.  This is an older post that should have been published in the beginning of April.  I edited the days left but otherwise read this in a past tense.

For everything there is a season:


I am still in that state of awe.  Major changes are happening, dreams are actually coming true.  Things that I barely allowed myself to consider are just months away from becoming reality.  If you have never allowed yourself to dream, you will never understand the state I am currently in.  I am overwhelmed as well.  Overwhelmed by all that has to happen, all that has happened and all the support that I have been offered.  In case you were wondering, I have accepted an assignment to teach Science in Liberia.  My lifelong dream has been to serve in Africa.

I worked only one day this month, which required me to pull from my savings.  I had not wanted to, but I realize that to prevent stress and get things done, I need to access that money when needed.  I have never had money like this before, so it feels so weird when I start to stress about funds that I think, oh wait I am not broke.  Thus being said, I by no means live a life of luxury.  Although I will need to start buying more suitable clothing for my next adventure.

So where to begin?  How about with this thought, Changing the World is more about changing yourself.  Keep that in mind always, especially if you dream of making the World a better place.  Sometimes looking at it from a different view makes you understand your own view of things.  A year ago I started making changes in my life.  I also started on the biggest adventure ever, living life.

I made a decision to join the Peace Corps, which I had no idea it would take nearly a year to get everything together.  Amazing how much you have to do, to give up 27 months of your life into service, away from home and family.  Once I started my application, I determined that the year 2013 was going to be life changing.  And boy was it!  I also determined that I would bike across the continent and quit my job.  All of this because I got in a scuffle with the person most important in my life.  What happened in that scuffle was that I realized much about myself.

I realized that the only reason I was sticking with a job I hated, being stagnant in my life, and basically just existing was because of my perceived obligation to the relationship.  Now I have no fantasy that a relationship has no obligations, but for me staying was wearing on my soul.  I signed up to bike across the country, and pursued my Peace Corps application with a vengeance.   It was not the relationship that was holding me back, it was me.  I have these ideas of how things are supposed to be. Once I let go and realized that my reasons for not pursuing my dreams were not real, life began to take shape.

I am blessed with a person in my life, who although it will hurt him for me to leave, is fully supportive.  Richard always says things about how meaningless his life is.  Things such as: you are going to change the world and I am going to do nothing with my life.  I am so happy to hear him now say exactly what I need him to say.   It took me months but he now understands that he has a very important role.  He is my rock.  My reason to come back.  My support unit when everything overwhelms me.  For every person that changes the world, they had that one person or group of people who supported them.  They are as important if not more important than the one making changes.  Without them sadness, loneliness and despair would be overwhelming.

The feeling I had on my last day of work was so fabulous.  I was thrilled to do my exit interview, which did not actually happen.  I was thrilled to never have to deal with certain people ever again.  I was sad to know I would miss others.  I was scared about not having an income.  In fact when I finished my ride this was a huge hang up for me.  I struggled with not having money and not having a place to live.  I stayed with a friend, bless her soul, but it was an inconvenience to her and crowded.  I miss living close to her, but we still hang out.

What I found out was that my happiness was stagnated.  I needed to leave that job, it was way overdue.  I had lost my love for that job about 4 years ago.  The reality is, that I loved the job when I first got it.   I was excited to learn and felt like I was making a difference.  I guess in my life, I crave that season of making a difference.  I think most of us want to feel that our participation is meaningful.  It keeps us feeling needed and useful.

When you get to that point where your job is dragging you down, you no longer get up excited to get to work, it may be time for a strategic employment move.  I now work in catering, and frankly I find it fun and no stress.  Also biking across the continent gave me so much strength, courage and faith in myself, I feel as though there is nothing life can dish that I cannot take.

I am stronger than I have ever realized.  I know that 27 months is a long-span of time.  The reality is that it is less time then the rest of my life.  The other reality is that I am no longer just going to allow myself to just exist.  I am going to live an adventurous life.  Why do we feel the need to live a mediocre unfulfilling life when we can strip down our fears and our hesitations and plunge in.  You can never have dreams come true if you do not first have a dream and secondly let go of your fears.

The first step is always the hardest.  I have learned so much about myself in the past year.  I now live on around $500 a month.  Seriously I am blessed to have a housing situation that requires such small rent.  By letting go of the idea that I need things and space, I allowed myself to begin living.

Yesterday I called around looking for insurance coverage for my stuff while overseas.  I found that no one will insure me without a storage facility rented out. I conceded that the worst that can happen is my electronics are stolen, but the reality is that in 27 months they will all be outdated and need replacing anyway.  Am I really going to trip out about this?  No, because insurance equates to some form of security and security equates to fear and hesitation.  Strip it all down and face life.

I have this wonderful pair of friends.  One is from Jamaica and one from Puerto Rico.  I love them both and I admire them for having left behind all they know to live here.  My Puerto Riccan friend was raised Pentecostal as was I.   We have a strong bond.  Having grown up in similar faiths we understand each other.  I have walked away from my faith, where he has tried to continue living his.  I resent my past, he loves his.  We have drastically different views of religion, but we understand the other one.

Growing up we attended many revivals and had several missionaries share their stories with us.  I have always been fascinated with Africa and early in my life thought that being a missionary would be great.  The issue was that I did not want to go and preach the Gospel, I wanted to heal the bodies that were ravaged by the harshness the World had dealt to them.  In some of the revivals we would fill out these questionnaires about gifts of the spirit.  According to the Pentecostals, everyone has at least one gift and should be fruitful with it.  Each time I took the quiz it came back that I would be best in service as an Evangelist or a Missionary.  Noting that I would be rich in spirit and not in money.  I would be successful in poverty and lack of money would be of no issue to me.

I always remember those things, simply because the idea of being a Missionary and living an adventure outside of modern society has always appealed to me.  I have embraced the idea of never having much money.  My marriage was absolutely opposite of this.  We lived life of debt to keep up appearances.  I loathe paying bills and having that threat of bad credit loom over me.  I gave up a life of luxury and any hopes of being well off many years ago.  In fact I embraced simplification of life and learned to do without.  I have not owned a car since 2005.  Wow 9 years ago, incredible to think that I have never once thought about buying one.  I am grateful to have one offered in certain cases, but overall I enjoy not having one.

My friend and I have discussed these ideas of missionary and evangelist in-depth.  I know that my calling is not one of religious but one of humanitarianism.  I understand that being a missionary does not mean I have to spread the Bible around.  It means that I am in service, it has taken me years to put this together but that is what it truly means.  So yes I am a missionary, but not one of faith, one of compassion.  I want to share my life and my love with those that need it.  I want to share my knowledge and abilities with those who need it most.  I want to make a difference in someone’s life, which ultimately I have.  I have a made a difference in my own life and it shows on the smile I put on daily and in my sharing of myself with others.

Shame on You Jerry Springer!


Last week I was sitting having coffee working on my computer as the news ended.  I was not really paying attention when I looked up to see The Jerry Springer Show on.  FIrst off I think this meat head is just out to make of mockery of people’s lives.  And the people that are on the show, if they are not actors they are pathetic and so in need of attention they seek it in whatever form they can get it.  That being said, I would have normally switched the channel or turned it off but the subject line attracted my attention.

The episode title was: “Mom don’t ruing my tranny wedding!”  Ok right there my little brain had a seizure.  I watched about 10 minutes before I was so pissed off I could not even see straight.  And I really hope these were actors and not real people.  When I see the tranny, it is degrading and sub-humanizing.  Similar to the “F” word for homosexuals.  It is a way to segregate a vulnerable group of people.  So right off the title pissed me off, but not nearly as much as the circus of the wedding with the groom stripped from the waist down like some kind of a freak show.  Seriously why is it almost anytime we see a transgender on the stage it is degrading and de-humanizing.  Mostly they are cast as prostitutes and freaks.

I remember back when they started using homosexuals in a homosexual context, well I am from a small sheltered life.  I saw them much later then most of you did.  I was horrified and grossed out by the idea of homosexuality and the roles reinforced this concept for me.  By making a vulnerable group freaks and turning their lives into some sort of circus you promote fear and violence against them.

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Shame on you Jerry Springer for taking the reality of trans-life and making it a full blown mockery on national TV.  I loathed you before, but I officially will never look at anything you do again, even if it is raising awareness for some great group.  You are a monster and you deserve your life to be paraded out as a circus.  Please have some feelings and some sort of common decency when putting people up on the stage representing a very vulnerable group.

I tried to make a petition, but apparently you need to know who to petition.  I have no idea.  If anyone out there does and would like to start a petition with me please contact me.