"To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself." ~Thich Nhat Hanh
I woke up at 7 am today to the sound of birds happily chirping. As I rolled out from under the table bed and walked aimlessly to the corner of the BB to relieve myself on the bucket, I looked up and out the BB's window. The welcome warmth of the sun's rays kissed my face as I closed my tired eyes. I smiled. It has been a long unusually snowy winter with one too many to count days and nights of sub-zero temperatures. Eyes still closed, I took in a deep breath as I sat on my blue bucket too exhausted to move. My body, mind and soul were completely drained. An unwelcome icky empty feeling permeated my belly washing waves of anxiety through me.
With my eyes once again opened, I was taken back by how blue the sky looked. In fact, it looked weird. For the past several months, each morning as I sat squatting on the bucket staring out of the BB window, the sky was always some dull or dark angry shade of grey. My PASSION to write was snuffed there for a quite a while, as it seemed I never had the time nor place to go blog; therefore it became a stress and yet another “chore” to tick off my long list of daily things to do and squeeze into my homeless schedule! Today, however, this was NOT true. Despite the storm brewing in my belly, I was joyfully ready to tickle the keys of my lap top with my fingers, as I once not so long ago adored to do:)!
I quickly dressed and cleaned up our little bungalow, grabbed my lap top in determination to find a peaceful place to write. However, as I walked through the barn, I felt this uncontrollable urge to head to the creek. Unknown to me, a MAJOR battle of my body, mind and soul was about to take place.
My mind was desperate to write and release, my soul was screaming for escape and well, my poor body didn't know what to do! At first I just kept heading to my car through the barn. However, each step closer to the lower barn door made my heart heavier, as sobering thoughts invaded my mind. Suddenly, I found myself heading back to the BB with my back pack in hand, as an intense force of anxiety flooded every cell in my body.
I stood in the BB once again staring out the window, in an upright position this time, on both feet. Frozen by anxiety as to HOW do I spend the day, as it was quickly flying by AND it was to be the last day before I “lose” that extra hour! The year is half over, I still have no idea (or enough money) as to where I will have to move by THIS September—just 6 months away, I'm NO where near my planned weight loss goal, etc. WHAT have I done and accomplished since being homeless?!?!?!
An early Spring wind grabbed the outer screen door to the BB and slammed it shut. Startled, I jumped and abruptly turned. Bringing my focus back to the view just outside the BB window, an inner cry for complete solitude flooded me and a chant of "instant freedom from everything NOW!" rang in my ears.
The next thing I knew I was walking through the partially thawed pastures towards the creek. Despite much of the snow melting from the hammering winter storms, each step I took with my winter boots, snow came up to the calves of my legs. My sunglasses protected my eyes from the sun's glare reflecting off the snow covered ground. With each crunchy footstep into the snow, I could hear the creek calling for me in the near distance.
Safely tucked away in the lower pasture corner, far from anyone's view, the creek displayed a clear bed of rocks in the middle of its rushing waters. I precariously climbed out and over snow covered rocks to the center of the creek and perched myself upon a cluster of dry hot rock. Chunks of ice and miscellaneous debris of Mother Nature's early Spring cleaning swiftly floated by me in the creek. I felt safe upon my little “island”. I took off my winter boots and socks, and stretched out on my rock face up on my back.
I closed my eyes as the sun beamed down upon me permeating warmth in my body from head to toe. It was heavenly feeling, especially as I thought about the long frigid sub-zero nights spent in the BB this winter. I smiled. The slight cool breeze from the wind rhythmically tossed my hair back and forth in front of my face tickling my nose. The birds continued to chirp, perhaps celebrating Spring. I didn't have the heart to spoil their party and disclose snow was expected next week. Like me, I allowed them to bask in the 42 degree “heatwave” of the moment.
A group of cackling geese trying to re-create their triangle formation after taking flight from a break in a nearby cornfield forced my eyes open as I stared in complete content at the brilliant blue sky above me. I smiled. I closed my eyes. The creek's rushing water was strong. Its force creating a loud vibrating swoosh against the rock. I found this abnormally soothing and felt myself relaxing even deeper into a tranquil state of complete inner bliss. I was completely disconnected from the world. The ache in my belly just a few moments ago became a distant memory and I fell asleep.
This is when it happen, out of no where, I realized I was crying. Every thought, sight and experience since becoming homeless came crashing down on me. It felt like tiny cold hard sharp hail balls were piercing my weary body through my layers of winter clothing. Every inch of my being hurt from head to toe. A year and half of being homeless swept over me in a matter of seconds! I felt like a piece of drift wood being forced down the creek knocking and banging into everything along the way. I had no control and was being shoved along by a force invisible yet stronger than me.
I couldn't stop sobbing and my heart was pounding in my chest. The wind kept brushing my hair across my face like a tissue wiping away tears as the sun continued to beam its warmth down upon me drying up what my hair was missing. I couldn't catch my breath. When I eventually forced opened my mouth to catch a breath, the sound that came out was in human. It sounded like a wounded animal stuck in a trap. I felt possessed.
“Brain barf” quickly came in erratic waves, some moments so quick that I couldn't recall where and when it took place during my homeless days to date, but others so wickedly vivid and strong! My mind flash-backed to those last few moments where I stood before my apartment door for the last time to lock it. I clearly remember it as if it were yesterday. Solemnly standing on the landing of my apartment, I stared out at the world for the first time in a totally different view not knowing where I was going to sleep that hot and humid night. The sweat trickling down my back. I recall looking down at my feet and watching myself take my first step away from the safety of the apartment that no longer was mine. I will never forget that first step. It is forever etched in my mind because it took me almost 15 minutes to find the inner and physical strength to take it. I was unsure where the my steps would take me, but I knew I HAD to keep moving in order to survive.
My mind was flashing images of trees flying by me in the sky. I realize I'm looking out the BB windows with taped “x's” on them. The sky is a blackish-green color and angry looking beyond description. The is rain whipping from every direction and the wind is relentlessly banging on everything or tossing items everywhere that dare cross its path. This storm is trying its hardest to destroy whatever gets in its way. I'm grabbing my Girls and tucking us under the table bed. The Girls obey and cuddle up next to me. I'm piling all the quilts around us. I can hear the metal roof of the barn being challenged by the ferocious wind. I'm terrified and think tonight I will meet my Maker. I fear the BB's windows being smashed by the flying debris in the pasture being tossed and kicked around by the bullying wind. My Girls are in my arms and the layers of quilts tightly over us under the table bed. Despite no noise coming from the animals in the barn, clear as day I can hear the sound of a speeding train getting louder and coming closer to the BB. I realize it's Super Storm Sandy my mind is "barfing up".
I'm in my car too emotionally numb to find the strength, let alone desire, to put the car key into the ignition to start it. I feel lost, hopeless and hungry. I have a worn index card with a number “45” in my left hand. I had just left the food pantry. I'm scared. I'm confused. I forgot to bring bags that I don't have. I'm trying my best to learn the “rules”. Tears. I'm crying. I've failed once again. I'm tired. It's been a long day. I feel a quick twinge in my severely swollen left knee. I lay helpless on the rock trapped by these thoughts that seemed to happen for hours but were only momentarily. My knee. The crutches. I'm hurt. I'm homeless and no one knows, not even the surgeon who completed the operation. I'm in the hospital for 5-6 hours to have surgery. I'm released with stitches, crutches, pain medication and an ice bag to heal. I'm sent back into the world to “Go home, rest and heal in comfort". "Rest is important, keep warm, keep the knee on ice and elevated.” I'm on the BB concrete floor. My crutches propped against the BB wall. My knee is extremely tender and I have no way to elevate it. I take a pain pill and fall asleep.
Despite the warmth of the sun, a rush of brutally cold air chilled me to the bone. The tips of my fingers hurt, as do my toes. I'm trying to escape the thoughts but my mind won't let me. Instead, I subconsciously pull my layers of winter clothing closer to me and hang on tight as my mind drags me through the past several months of sub zero temperatures and the many relentless snow storms. I'm up to my knees in snow trying to get into the BB across the pasture. The lower barn door is trapped behind feet of snow. The metal gate to the pasture is covered in ice. I'm picking away at the ice on the gate latch. I hear coyotes howling in the near distance. Engulfed by fear, a burst of energy allows me to yank the latch open with my exposed bare hands. I can't move any faster. The snow is deep. I fear falling in the ice covered snow. The coyotes sound closer. All of a sudden, I'm safely in the BB. I have nails in my hand that I found in the barn and I am hammering them into the BB ceiling to stop the snow from blowing into our little room.
My fingers are cold and dark red. My mind has thrown me back outside into the frigid wintery wonderland of snow again. I'm trying to cross the pasture to reach my car. I have to get it unburied from the snow. I can't be late for work. I can't fall or I will get wet. I can't go to work wet. The snow is knee deep. I don't have a shovel. I don't have gloves. My fingers are so raw and numb. I must get my car cleaned off. I MUST get to work. My jeans are snow covered from the hips down. I'm wet. I'm cold. I'm tired. I MUST get to work. Tears cling like frozen icicles to my long dark eyelashes. Ice is getting into my eyes and it feels like cold hard pieces of broken glass. I'm trying not to blink, but the gusting winter wind is relentless. I lose control of my body's functions and accidentally blink. The sharp daggers of the "eye-cicles" pierce the whites of my eyes making me wince. I fight back the tears to stop this vicious cycle!
I continued to wail DEEP from within, my eyes shut tight, as my mind purged thought after thought, too numerous to detail and write. My body and soul were helpless prisoners to my mind. They were paralyzed in fear trapped on the rock in the middle of the creek, as I uncontrollably cried, unable to break free from its torturing. Suddenly, like a tornado, the thoughts just all stopped! I felt as if I had been held under water and was released. I immediately sit up on the rock and take a huge much needed DEEP breath of air. My eyes pop wide open. They hurt but from squeezing them so tightly shut from the visions raping my mind. The only noise around me is the creek's water rushing by. The chirping birds have flown away, no doubt from the crying nut roasting and "cracking up" on the rock, and I'm left alone!
I slowly stood up on the rock and took another BIG breath air. I was exhausted and felt dizzy. I needed to lie down, but NOT on the rock. I yearned to be under my quilts in the comfort and safety of the BB. Too weak to put on my boots and socks, I walked barefoot back to the BB through the icy creek waters, across the snow, mud and manure covered pasture. I was literally numb body, mind and soul. I didn't even feel the cold of the snow on my bare feet nor the offensive odor of manure I managed to step in during my zombie walk back to the BB. My only desire, deeply driven from within me, was to get back to the BB. I went into auto-pilot by disconnecting myself from everything including me. I felt nothing, smelled nothing and remained focused only on one thought--to get back to the BB. I shut down and locked into survival mode. A state of mind that has become automatic and all to easy for me to do since becoming homeless.
Safely back in my cocoon, the BB, I wiped my cold brown stained feet. Despite my toes being beet red, I couldn't feel them. I stripped off my layers of clothing down to a t-shirt, hoodie and sweats, curled up under my table bed and fell sound asleep for SIX hours! It was only 10 am.
I woke up around 4 pm to write this post. My dreams were many and vivid during those 6 hours of sleep, packed with both horrific and peaceful flashback moments. I believe today I allowed myself for the first time, since becoming homeless over a year and a half ago, to listen to my soul and mind by letting down my guard and stepping out of survival mode. These last several months have been especially trying for me on many levels. These past few weeks I've especially felt like I'm a failure. I had health goals, financial goals, etc all set during this journey but not having reached all of them to the level I had anticipated nor the time frame I had initially set.
I believe today that going down to the creek bed was The Universe trying to show me I AM strong or I would NOT have endured, let alone survived, just the physical aspects of being homeless, especially while keeping it to myself! Perhaps not all my goals have been met---yet, but I had NUMEROUS ones tacked on by the Universe with reasons I know that will make sense as my journey moves forward and unveils my future and its purpose.
I believe, too numerous of times to count, in these past 1 and ½ years, I sabotage my own efforts because I don't have the answer NOW as to WHAT IS the purpose of my journey. Fear sets in and pushes ALL the Universe's love away: self-love, receiving love from others and being able to give love to others who enter my life, if only for a brief moment! This past week I'm starting to realize that yes, my JOURNEY is MINE, BUT its purpose belongs to the Universe. Right now, my job, and ONLY job, is to remain focused on my goal of becoming a healthy and happy person body mind and soul. There is no need to waste precious energy or time worrying about the outcome of my journey, because it already has been determined by the Universe. Yes, it's done and PATIENTLY waiting for me:)! This applies to everyone. The key is trusting and believing in yourself, as well as the Universe.
"I choose happiness over sadness. I choose freedom over bondage. I choose to love myself without judgement. I feel joy pumping through my veins."
Leafy Greens and LOTS of LOVE!
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