Sharing the lessons along the way…

Posts tagged ‘Homeless Empowerment Program’

Be The Change–Birthday Wish

My mom died at age 46.  I have been 46 for longer than she was, and soon I will be 47.  I think I get her inability to handle being here—not because I don’t want to be, but because of all that is going on out there in the world.

She was a sensitive soul who had experienced her share of tragedy in her younger years, and I choose to rewrite her story in such a way that she simply wasn’t equipped to handle all the ick.  She simply didn’t understand her own sensitivities.

As a sensitive soul myself, I would like to think that I have ways to cope with the ick most of the time.  I give back, I pay it forward, I reach out instead of withdrawing, and I express my needs, thoughts and feelings–granted sometimes a little bit too much.

As my birth year surpasses my mom’s living years, I find myself even more driven to make a difference in the lives of as many as I can, while I can.  My stats at work don’t necessarily show the reach or the quality of the reach, so outside of work, I am still driven to be that change we all wish to see in the world.

When you have a December birthday, it gets lost in the mix between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I have had to find my own way to make it more special.  Some years, I play, or do whatever I want to do, and just that.  Some years, I spend some quality time alone and others I spend it with friends and family I love.

This year, it seems I want to spend my time making a difference.  I have two primary charities of choice and five thousand others (maybe not that many) that speak to me and with which I would love to do something to help.  The two primary ones are the ones I spend the majority of the year pouring my extra energy outside of work supporting with those efforts, so for my birthday, I would seem to be setting up time helping several of the others that pull at my heart.

On the day I actually turn 47, I plan to be at Horsepower for Kids volunteering to do whatever they need me to do.  Last weekend, I spent with dogs that were being screened to be potential therapy dogs and it was a lab-a-palooza—mostly yellow labs– but one special black one whose “special” was obvious when he walked in the door with his humans.  Next weekend, I will be doing nothing very important for the rescue from which my last Hope Fiona found me.  I miss animal rescue and two of these at least have me near it.

There is one weekend in-between where I will likely work on promoting my book Detour because I feel like the story is worth sharing.  And 20% of course anything I make selling it goes back to a charity.

In the midst of all the mass shootings, the nuclear warhead testing, the discord among each other, I think we just need inspired to make a difference in our own little area of the universe where each of us can make a difference.  Stats might not show it wholly, but the impact is still making a ripple in this life.

Mom didn’t get the ripple effect.  She didn’t get the butterfly effect.  She couldn’t adjust her expectation of success to be an interaction that rippled out into the universe to be an even bigger impact.  I appreciate that she didn’t—not because I don’t wish she was here to get it—but because of her, I think I do get it.  I wouldn’t likely have gotten it otherwise.

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Perspective and the Detour

There are very few things in this life that change everything.  Examples might be loss, major life changes, total eclipses, gratitude, humility…

Perspective however seems to need at least two of the above examples.  And it sure changes everything.

Life changes when there is a detour on what you originally perceive as your path.  This path you have so carefully mapped out, perhaps sometime in your late teens or early twenties, or the path you have planned after that one didn’t work out.

That detour can bring chaos of unparalleled proportions.

That detour can bring perspective of unparalleled proportions.

The shift in consciousness of which you are left after the detour is not something you can hit the reverse button on a remote control.  In fact, that shift requires you move forward with a courage and boldness that you have never known.

If you have made it to this point in life where you recognize you are following the detour signs, I am proud of you.  If you have driven passed those big orange road signs and find yourself continually re-routed to somewhere else, keep your seat belt on.

You are on your way to something that your life has waited for…at a level you aren’t even sure exists until you reach the other side of the detour.

But you know when you get there.  It is like the surprise party that you wished you hadn’t been the person who is at the center of attention.  And then you have to figure out how and what to do with it.

Often we miss that surprise party, so the ah ha is more like an uh oh.  Other times, we are changed forever.

When we have perspective for what our true purpose here is, we cannot possibly use a remote control or GPS to re-route.

The title of my book is Detour.  It certainly was a detour that I could not have predicted nor could I have imagined being able to follow the signs to the other side.  I found my way and my perspective was changed forever.  I could not have predicted the good that would come out of it or the position it would place me to make quite the same difference in the lives of others that it did.

Now, the story of my Detour 15 years ago is out, in print.  Now my story hopes to be able to make a small difference in the lives of everyone struggling to figure out what the detour in their life may mean to them.

March Madness

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

~Margaret Mead

For most of my teenage and adult life, madness has been a part of my March.  I love college basketball, so each year basketball season is one of my favorite times.  I love watching a team working together and rising no matter what the other team throws at them.

All of the sports I played were team sports.  To me, there is nothing like being a part of and watching a team playing/working well together.

I am aware that my team mentality is often lost on those who didn’t play sports or played individual sports, but most workplaces want someone who is a team player.  Even the college classes I teach require some part of the work to be produced by a team.

Every team has a leader—a true leader.  It doesn’t matter the sport and it doesn’t matter the position or role within the team unit.  Invariably a team leader will emerge and provide encouragement, guidance and support for the rest of the team.  A team who respects and trusts the leader will work well as a unit.  A team who doesn’t, isn’t likely to do as well.

Last year, as I launched the wellness initiatives at work, there wasn’t a team.  It was just me to start with, and I couldn’t wait to get others on board.  I worked with other teams and remembered just how much fun it can be when everyone works together and does their part to find creative solutions.  And of course, just how frustrating it can be when it doesn’t work so well.

In a short time, the team has grown.  The team has not only grown with employees, but also with volunteer team members and other partner agencies.  I look forward to watching the teamwork become more seamless as we all move forward.  And to then watch how much better we are all able to impact someone’s life as we do so.

It is almost as exciting to me as watching the tournament games, but as I am watching the games, I am really looking at the teamwork from a bigger vantage point.

What I know for sure is that at some point along the way in this life, we are going to need a team.  It might be a treatment team or some other group of folks banning together to help us get through something we never imagined.  Should that happen again in my life, I certainly want to have a team that works well together guiding me through the madness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch with Preacher

At work today, I was busy moving from one area on campus to another attempting to accomplish what was already on my to-do list, in addition to things that were placed there as I read my emails first thing this morning.

Because I was away from my desk a lot working on a variety of projects, I had opportunities to be outside.  It was sunny with near record (or maybe we beat it, I am not sure) temperatures for this time of the year.  There was a breeze that often gusted out of the east.

When it was lunch time, I knew the only way to take a break while I ate was to go outside somewhere to enjoy the day at the same time.  I needed a breather and some inspiration, and then remembered that I could go sit in the area where Preacher Green is buried.

I put my salad together and headed off to eat with Preacher.

Preacher was the man who started Everybody’s Tabernacle Church, and from his generous spirit and the help of his wife and family, so began what we all know now as the Homeless Empowerment Program.

Otis Green saw the good in humanity.  He believed wholeheartedly that if we helped people to better help themselves, they would benefit more than if we simply gave them a roof over their head and some food.

Not everyone was as lucky as me to have gotten to meet and know the man.  He was inspiring, he was a natural leader and a natural servant.  He never lost sight of the mission at hand and how he continued to trod onward through illness and everything else was even more inspiring.

He and his wife have tables and shelves full of their humanitarian awards, but they remained humble and focused on the mission.

Thousands of people each year pass through the Homeless Empowerment Program (HEP).  A program that has grown by leaps and bounds because someone involved never lost sight of the vision Preacher had at the start.

No matter what my role is in the bigger picture of HEP, I truly hope that I can remain as focused and as humble as Preacher was in his day there.  To me, he ranks up there with the likes of Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr. and many of the other greats who have made such great impacts on humanity.  I couldn’t ask for a better role model.

Day 17 and moving forward with inspired humility and focus after lunch with Preacher.

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The One-Year Rule

In my 20’s, my rule of thumb for how long it took to get to know someone was three months.  By my late 20’s, it had grown to six months.  And by my 30’s, it was a year.

In my 40’s, I tend to have an idea pretty quickly about the integrity or character of a person, but remain somewhere in between the six months to a year to really get to know more about them.

Ruby Working

Apparently, an adult rescue animal falls in the same time frame.  Magic can happen as you approach the year mark.  Animals aren’t nearly as complicated as humans, but bonding with a dog who had fairly limited human contact in the racing world can take a bit more patience and time.

Ruby and I celebrated our one-year anniversary on Saturday.  We brought her home on August 22 from her prison training stent.  She has made great progress from the skitzy, unsure girl she was in that year—both at home and at work.

It hasn’t been long since it has just been she and I trying to figure out what is next for us, but the connection we have developed in that short time has been amazing.  She is even finally making some connections with my friends and their dogs along with the guys at the Homeless Empowerment Program (HEP).  The guys there have been very patient and have helped her to understand that attention is really ok.

She is a sensitive little soul with a lot of love to share, and it warms my heart to see her start to express it more and more, as she trusts me more and more each day.  She trusted Duke to lead her and now I think she is starting to trust me too.

I called her Rubicon without knowing for sure what the word meant—it means bridge into the unknown, which is certainly what life feels like without the likes of Duke and Amore in it for me.

I am not sure I have ever had a better hostess when other dogs come to visit.  Saturday on our anniversary, she got out what she knew were her elder dog’s favorites from her toy bin.  She is gracious and quirky, and I love all of that about her.

Ruby and I are going to be ok.  I wasn’t wrong about her.  I am grateful to have her and she is teaching me so much already.  She will never be Duke or Amore, nor would I want her to be anyone other than who she is.  But like her, I am just gaining trust and getting to know her likes and dislikes.  I imagine only more magic as we move forward together into whatever is next for us.

In Duke’s honor, the staff at HEP are gathering up dog donations for Dog Day (which is officially tomorrow August 26) to go to the Greyhound Advancement Center’s prison training program where Ruby was trained (and interestingly enough, her soul sister greyhound who also works at HEP went through training).  I love that Duke lives on and that now he is passing it on to his sister.

Tribute to Duke, et. al.

I have written a few things since my letter to Duke, but nothing that seemed “post-worthy” here.  I babbled about feeling such gratitude for grieving with such a large number of people and how that made it suck just a little bit less.  I wrote about randomness and Ruby and the empty spaces in my heart.  I wrote about having a bit of a delayed grief reaction after being in control for a month, then a monsoon fell out of my eyes.

A few weeks ago, we had a tribute to Duke at the Homeless Empowerment Program with some of Duke’s favorite people that was so touching and so special for a variety of reasons, and I really wanted to share about it.  I simply had no adequate words to convey adequately any emotion or thought I had about it.

duke tribute cake

Here is what I know now…

Every day, I get up and keep moving forward.  Every day, I see others through the eyes of Duke.  I have made major purchases with Ruby, have had fun and have laughed a lot.  I have cried, with a sadness and longing that is palpable for Duke’s physical presence.  And, I have realized that every day I get up is a tribute to Duke and Amore.

They taught me to live in the moment, love and love some more if for no other reason than I can, to have fun, to laugh A LOT, cry, feel whatever I am feeling, and move forward into the next moment.  They taught me far more than that, but for now, if I am doing all of those on a daily basis, then I am honoring their memory.

lobby  plaque

For me, the commitment to those boys so many years ago at the Animal Control doesn’t end just because they are no longer physically here.  The connection was so much more to us than just being a committed dog mom.  The tribute will live on through me, Ruby, Koko and hopefully anyone and everyone else who was lucky enough to have learned life lessons from either of those silly boys.

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