Dear Me,

This was originally written to myself, for myself only- but after sharing a tiny snippet, a couple folks asked to read it. My initial thought? Umm, HELL NO. But then I decided to listen to my own voice below and worry about the dry heaves later. The inspiration came from my stupidly-talented-artist friend Tom, who is in the process of finalizing a pop-up gallery show he titled Make, what you most need to find.” I asked myself the question What do I most need to hear? and this is what came out unedited…well, mostly- I edited out a few parts that were perhaps too personal- nobody needs to read me talk myself in circles about relationships. 🙂

Dear Me,

Life is scary and it will hurt- that’s ok. You’re going to take risks and some will break your heart, in fact, many already have- that’s ok too. You know what you love now, but don’t stop falling in love with new things and new people. It’s ok to be afraid, just don’t let it determine your steps. What makes your heart beat faster? Do that. Your hands may shake and your voice may crack- but do it. Face it head on. It’ll be messy, most good things are. Don’t be afraid of the mess.

Stop being so fearful of your own voice. You love to write so stop whining and just do it. Be bolder; your best pieces have been those that’ve induced some panic and even a few dry heaves. It’s not wrong for people to know you in this way- it’s uncomfortable and weird, but remember what I said about good things being messy? God gave you this voice, use it- some people won’t listen to you…so what? They don’t determine who you are any more than you determine who they are. Continue reading “Dear Me,”

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World Water Day 2015- What are YOU going to do?

I will never forget the day that I was walking down the street in the heart of Skid Row and saw a woman, Susan, squatting in the gutter. I didn’t think much of it at first, things that in many places seem strange are fairly commonplace here, but I stopped when I noticed exactly what she was doing; scooping water in her mouth to drink from the run-off of a local vendor’s hose as he sprayed down the streets. I ran over to stop her, to help her find clean water, but she refused. I explained that this water would make her sick, but she stated “I am so thirsty I don’t even care, I’ll take whatever it gives me.”

She was later hospitalized as she was not only severely dehydrated, she became incredibly ill.

While it’s not necessarily impossible to get clean drinking water as a homeless person, there are places to access it if you know where to go, it’s not as easy to come by as one would assume in America. Drinking fountains are scarce and a running faucet is not easily accessible for someone who looks and smells like they haven’t bathed in weeks. Continue reading “World Water Day 2015- What are YOU going to do?”

Take Heart.

Today has been one of those days- one of the ones where the weight of the world feels heavy…like, so incredibly heavy. It started this morning as I was walking to a meeting on the earlier side of the AM and found myself feeling physically impacted by how many people I saw still sound asleep on the pavement. My chest felt heavy, my shoulders weak and each step felt like wading through swampy waters. As I neared closer to my destination I heard someone call my name- not “baby” or “white girl,” as are often the monikers hollered at me on this particular street, but my actual name. I looked down to find Mr. Harvey, a man who I’d spent my first 4 years with here on Skid Row. This man holds a special place in my heart as our first meeting was while I was doing outreach, looking for specifically for him at 4:30 in the morning on his birthday…which happens to be mine too. This commonality bonded us instantly.

At first glance Mr. Harvey and I have absolutely nothing in common- he is an older black man with a severe mental illness and a catalog of memories that I can’t even begin to imagine. But as he stated this morning, the uniqueness of the day we met, “our day” remains imprinted on us both.

It’s been a couple of years since working with the program that Mr. Harvey was in and I’d since heard that he’d left, but I never knew why- to be honest, I am not sure he does either. Seeing him this morning snapped something in me. As I sat down next to him, noticing his missing shoe I couldn’t stop the flood that felt like one thousand pounds of grief- grief for Mr. Harvey, grief for multitude of other men and women on the street, grief for the broken systems and hearts that got them there.

I’m supposed to be stronger than this, I thought. Continue reading “Take Heart.”

The Skid Row Fashion Police.

Overheard:

“Oh grrrrreat, Rachel has on her hippy bathrobe again.”

“Do you think she’s going to make us talk about peace and love again?” (not all that unlikely)

“No, probably just about global warming, recycling and crap like that.” (also not that unlikely)

“She’s cool, but man she’s a weird white girl.” (this is probably more true than false)

“Maybe this is why she’s still single, do you think?” (uh-oh, here we go)

“Nah, she’s single because she’s picky- she obviously doesn’t want to end up with a loser.” (preach, girl- said by the only woman in the group) Continue reading “The Skid Row Fashion Police.”

I Breathed.

I’ve been sitting at my computer staring at its blank page for about 15 minutes now. Words seem to elude me as to how to begin this and really how to articulate much of anything at all. But my heart’s been moved, so I am going to try. To put it mildly, last week was ROUGH. Between the shooting on Skid Row, the passing of one of my residents and the heartache of some stuff going on outside of work, I wondered if I was eventually going to get to a point where my tear ducts just up and stopped working altogether out of rebellion. (Doctors, is this possible? Please advise.) To make matters more complicated, I was slated to fly up to Washington State to participate in and speak at the Washington State Leadership Forum. For those of you that know me, you know that two things can make me an anxious wreck faster than just about anything else; public speaking and walking into a crowded room where I know nobody (how I ended up in a position where I am forced to do both fairly regularly is still a lost on me), so to say I was hesitant would be a huge understatement.

Continue reading “I Breathed.”

It’s OK: 7 Things I am (Unapologetically) Thinking About.

“I’ve seen people drink themselves to death,” my former therapist told me, “but you, you on the other hand might very well think yourself to death.” I sorta laughed when he said it, as did he- this didn’t really seem like standard therapist-client discourse, but then again, I didn’t really feel like a typical client. When you spend large chunks of your day around therapists and psychiatrists the veil wears thin in regard to the magic often experienced by folks on the leather couch.

He was right though, I tend to think and over think about things that many find simple answers to. Some of those things have very little consequences at all, for instance, my distaste for sport coats and lip-selfies, while others hold greater weight and meaning such as faith and belief systems. Continue reading “It’s OK: 7 Things I am (Unapologetically) Thinking About.”