Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Well...for those of you still patient enough to log on, between problems with the computer (I apparently need a new motherboard, but the tech showed me how to override the problem, at least temporarily) and being on the coast for the last several days, therefore have been unable to blog through my phone as I have in the past.
Anyway...I am finally leaving the coast and am moving inland, therefore can again give you updates from the streets of the Pacific northwest, perhaps, if not daily then at least a few times per week. I am thrilled at this prospect of course because I am so far behind on blogs due several shelters we have visited. For now however, I think I'd like to catch up on lessons learned for a bit. I know I have friends out there who are a bit worried since you haven't heard from me for a while, and I thank you for the good thoughts and prayers.
I have a friend who recently told me she did not know the now solemn, demure, humbled, Lynn that stood before her and she was 100% correct. I return to Oregon a different person than when I left. I know I have said this before, but I believe it will almost be a new mantra. I set out to change the world and instead the world changed me.
I look at the world through a homeless set of eyes now. When I walk into a grocery store, the things I take note of are not the freshness of the produce look, nor what's on sale. The first thing I look for are the hours of operation. Are they open 24 hours so if I have to relieve myself I can do so with dignity and not have to pee in a cup to be disposed of at a later time? The second is the location of those emancipating restrooms, and the third, is there a soda dispenser in order to get fresh water, and ice. The final thing is the location of the street lights. It's hard to sleep with a spot light shining in your eyes, so we look for the darkest corners if we choose to sleep in a busy parking lot.
One of the things I have mentioned recently is the wild fennel that grows rampant on the California Coast. Lavender and rosemary, my favorite herb of all time, grow in abundance as well. My traveling companion always gets a kick out of how I constantly run my hands along the fresh exhilarating, oil laden leaves. He jokes that I am the only woman in the world he knows that uses rosemary behind her ears instead of perfume. The fact is in my homeless days of long a long, I discovered that not only are both fennel, and rosemary invigorating, but they are natural deodorizers. When we are not able to bathe for more than 2 days in a row, I will break a piece off and rub it on my arms, and my neck.
As we drive along the good earth the Lord has provided, we notice the beauty of it secondary to, where can we park the car and sleep privately for a night. There is a nook here; a cranny there, but questions arise such as will it be safe here. Not necessarily from human intruders but from bestial ones. There have been times we have come across mountain lion, bear, and even rattlesnake warning signs that have us wondering if our choices are once again, so smart.
It was explained that the foods eaten by the homeless are foods that are meant to fatten you up. High fat, high carb foods that will keep meat on your bones in colder days. This made sense of course once we actually took note of the homeless we interviewed and saw throughout each city. After all, the majority of the homeless spend much of their time walking, day in and day out. Much more than I did on this trip, and as I looked around I thought to myself, I have yet to see a skinny homeless person. So they are eating well, not necessarily so healthy.
One thing we heard from more than one service provider was the fact that many times formerly homeless people have something similar to survivors guilt. If a family member or friend needs help financially, these formerly people will, to the detriment of their own finances, give to those in need. Even if they know the reasons are bogus. They fear letting them down even if these people have let them down time and time again. Some have been known to pay a relative rent before they pay their own. They give the shirt off their back so their relative will not have to suffer the same fate as they had.
That fact shouted out to me as if it were written in neon lighting. I do exactly that. I act with good intentions, but those actions are not always so smart. My heart tells me; they have three children. They can't always afford to pay their rent. But then you hear how she gets her hair and nails done each month as well as goes tanning twice a week. He took the family out to an amusement park and spent more than $150. You hear how he bought several rounds of drinks for his friends, but can't pay his phone bill.
My head tells me logically of course, you can't do that. You can't afford it. You will loose your own home, your own vehicle, food out of your own mouth, never mind the fact that you know what they are in trouble because of their own doing. I believe it's called co-dependence personified. I suppose I could say the same about me right this very minute.
Before I began this trip, my thoughts were on being a good samaratin and helping others. It turns out, it has been once again, at my expense, pun not intended but apropos.
Since my car was going to be just sitting for four months (now 6) I loaned it to a family that greatly needed it. Sadly it no longer runs. It was an oldie but a goodie, and now it exists no longer.
I loaned someone else my bed. The home it went to is flea infested, not to mention that the child of the household, wet the bed time and time again. Now apparently the bed has been disposed of because it was in such horrible shape. The family cannot afford to replace it for me.
In my arrogance, I gave away ALL of my clothes, thinking because of the amount of walking being done I would drop 70 or so pounds. Nothing could be further from the truth. Since I ate the same foods the homeless ate, I only dropped a bout 10, maybe 15 pounds. So now, all I have when I come back are the clothes I brought with me. That will teach me to think so well of myself.
While on this trip, I gave every one of my blankets, coats and gloves to the homeless. Although on limited funds ourselves, when we could, we bought a meal for a homeless person here and there. Mostly we listened and offered a prayer or two.
Do I regret these actions. I'd would be less than truthful if I said no, but it was done with the best of intentions, without the expectations of recieving anything in return. The regrets are only that I have no means at this present time or replace these things for myself. Am I asking for a handout for myself? Heavens no! I got myself into this mess, I will get myself out. I have a merciful God who knows my heart was in the right place even if my logic was not.
I share this to give you a better understanding of how some people get themselves into financial difficulties out of acts of co-dependent love. This 'ever enabling mother' has learned her lessons well.