Saturday, July 31, 2010

Oh to have creative and artistic talent!

What a joy!  If I had this type of creativity and talent in spoken word storytelling or in frame drumming ... Wowsers!

Adele Enersen and  Milia's Daydreams -- Copyright credit

Friday, July 30, 2010

Choices, always choices

Internet for this moment ... whoo-hoo!  (and internet for the edits near the bottom of the article on the 31st.  Spiffy!)

To be or not to be, that is the question ... {grin}

Well more to the point, to carry or not to carry, that is the question.

We always have choice, sometimes the primary choice and the alternative choices are not particularly to our liking.  But we always have choice.

2000 people had to evacuate their homes due to California Wildfires ... they had to make choices of what to take or not, if they even had time to make the choices.

The guy who loaned me his muscle on the 26th lives in Palmdale.  Hope he's all right.

If you could only take with you from everything you have in life, one backpack's worth of stuff ... what would it be?

My reason for making those choices is not the same as those who had to evacuate due to the fire -- but it boils down to the same thing.  What would you take with you?

My choices and why I made them:

The sleeping bag?  Nope, not going to fit in the backpack.

Besides, if I cannot get into a 1-night shelter each night, my chances of coming through unscathed by actually putting a sleeping bag down on the street somewhere are not high.  I don't know the streets that well anymore, not even where the safest places may or may not be.

Scratch one sleeping bag, it goes to Out of the Closet.

The notebook that holds all the paperwork I have for SSI and DPSS.  Yeah, that has to go in it.  Hmm, let's see here, will my official acknowledgement of graduation from the local Junior College fit?  Will I need it?  Is it worth saving the money of getting a duplicate, should I need to prove said AA degree?  Let's stuff it in with the SSI and DPSS paperwork in the notebook, if I take it out of it's holder, it's only a small piece of paper.

Toiletries, bandaids, shampoo, camping soap that is supposed to suds up really well with only a little water -- egad!  Look how much room all that stuff takes up!  Phew!  Well, at least it does include a small camping towel and wash cloth.  Okay, we'll stuff it in.  A small box of 3 TravelJohn!'s too.  Gotta be civilized!

The 6 pictures I pulled out of the photo albums and my certified copy of birth ... can I get 'em into the SSI/DPSS notebook?

Bleargh ... that cellphone, it's prepaid with 60 minutes of airtime.  I don't like cellphones, but the only way to reach my DPSS worker is via a telephone call between 10:30 and 12:30 Monday through Friday ... walk-ins are not accepted, the best you can see is a lobby worker.  Okay, stuff and wedge!

Can I fit 3 t-shirts in there?  3 pairs of underwear, 3 pairs of socks and a second pair of sneakers?  Doubtful on the sneakers.  Gonna have to stick with the orthotic pair that I've hoarded.  An extra pair of slacks, if you roll 'em up and tuck right ... there!  Okay.  That's a tight fight, but better two pairs of slacks, that way you can hand wash or hopefully the shelter will have a laundry facility.  Can't wash 'em if you don't have anything else to wear.

The laptop someone gave me to use while still in the house (that I still have to pay them $100 for)?  Nope, too heavy, it's an old one and just not gonna be feasible to carry. Maybe I can wipe it in time and give it back and ease off *that* debt!

And badda-bing, badda-bang .. that's it, there's no more room.

I'd rather carry a book that has stories I want to learn to tell, notes on stories I was preparing, and a book that I've read and re-read scores of times because I feel great when I read it.  Because those are my life, not the other paperwork.

My reality is I have no interest in carrying documentation that shows I graduated with an AA, or the copy of my birth certificate or the paperwork that I have to carry to show folks at SSI and DPSS that I am ernest.

After all, the A.A. has never gotten me a job ... on that score, I kept getting told, a B.A. is what's being looked for.  I do often note to myself that I wish I hadn't sacrificed the time and built up debt to get the A.A. because when I was younger I chose to believe the rhetoric that higher education was necessary for a job.  If I'd gotten a B.A. then I would have been told that I needed a Master's.  That too, in my experience is a screening out process..

The fact that I'm even considering choosing to carry paperwork to show SSI and DPSS that I'm ernest?   Pffftt.   What difference is it going to make?  They don't even file my paperwork on time, so I give up what makes my heart sing to lug paperwork onto the street with me?

When it comes down to it on Monday night as I make my final choices about what goes into my backpack, for Tuesday morning to begin my interaction with the first emergency shelter?  Will I go with what is necessary for my heart or what my logic dictates I should carry to try and deal with the people within DPSS and SSI?

If there was a fire threatening your home, what would you take with you and why, other than your breathing body?

I truly do want to read your choices.  Please take a moment to comment on what is important to you and why.

We always have choice.  Don't give your power away.  Your exercise of choice is power.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

For Homeless Services, One Size Does Not Fit All - by Mattie Lord

At this unexpected moment of still having internet service I have read an article I wish I wrote.

Please read it. Mattie Lord has written cogently, with heart, and with awareness.

For Homeless Services, One Size Does Not Fit All

As a person who is definitely one of the square pegs trying to be stuffed into a round hole; and as a person who has consistently been screened out, I avidly ask you to spread this to everyone you know.

It'll take you 30 seconds to a minute and a half to put it up on your blog, send out e-mails, or post to your fav social networks with the link and a genuine request to those you know to read it.

Whether you or those you know respond with action for homelessness or another issue near and dear to your heart, you will have helped me fulfill my goal ... to get the word out; to rally people to make a difference in their life and world; and, to be actively listened to.

I urge you to urge those you know to consider a paradigm shift.  I cannot tell you how uplifting it was to hear (okay read) another person on the internet use the same term I've been using -- paradigm.  It was like finding a kindred soul..

Peace out mes amis.  I anticipate this to be the last post for at least a week and a half as I move out into the world of 1-night emergency shelters and the "street life"; while still waiting for SSI to take physical action on determining my case.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pay It Forward -- Feel good?

A discussion ensued yesterday, as three of us (myself, a friend offering muscle to help schlepp and a new friend who was the recipient of goods) moved items from my ownership to another home.

Image by manitou2121, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
"What kind of world would it be if everyone actually lived by the concept of pay it forward?" was one of the comments we discussed during the physical work.

The Pay It Forward phrase is often linked with another, "think globally, act locally" or "act locally, impact globally".

As well, there is a third phrase bandied about that is related, "random act of kindness". (472,000 hits on a google search, in case you were wondering).

Each action we take may have only a brief moment of visibility to others.  That does not give it any more or less perceived importance.

So, too, not achieving on the first few attempts gives it neither more nor less significance of import.  As Edison has become well-known for saying ... "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."  I like a lot of things Edison is supposed to have said -- not all, but a great many.  So, here's a pay it backward:  Thank you Edison for expressing some things I've felt inept at expressing!

Looking for Pay it Forward concepts alive in today's blogosphere?

Here's a current blog post on paying it forward that I find some sense of kin with:  4 Ways to "Pay it Forward" with Social Media

I personally felt resonance with the chick who operates and her Pay it Forward yearly grant. You have until December 15, 2010 to apply for her 14th Pay It Forward grant.

This tale, too, I liked:  Pay it forward: Kids chip in to help the community.

The gentleman who was offering his muscle to help me schlepp things yesterday knows from past association with me that I don't believe any act is selfless.  We as humans don't do anything without having our self and our reward in mind. You do things for the benefit it gives you, whether that benefit is something you perceive to be monetary, emotional, mental, spirit, physical, or psychological in nature.
Photo by Steve Beger Photography
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

If you get a warm fuzzy feeling, or otherwise feel good about yourself for doing something, you are getting a benefit (i.e., a reward).

I also propose that it's okay for us to be aware that doing something for the reward, and to do things for reward, is not inherently a bad thing.

The things that detract from valuable benefit are greed, other misguided fears, and lack of awareness.

Greed is a fear of not having, or not having enough.  Lack of awareness is a way we try to protect ourselves from the many fears we have.

Is the Pay it Forward, Act of Kindness culture viable?

For me, yes.  The fact that I believe in the concept does not make me a good person or a bad person.  Nor does it give me any change in stature.  Nor will it do those things for you.

Do I benefit from it?  Absolutely.  Is the benefit real?  Tangible?  Intangible?  I felt good getting some of the stuff of my dreams in others hands.  Hands who may be able, in turn, to get them into use in the tangible world.

Did it get me a place to live?  Or an income?  (both urgent physical needs)

Nope.  Those are both valuable benefits as well, and I don't shirk my efforts in obtaining them.

However the moments yesterday had no less significance because my top two priorities were not immediately addressed.

Examine the concepts of Pay it Forward and Random Acts of Kindness.  Whether you choose to agree or disagree, the act of examination elevates your self awareness and I consider that a good thing. 

The point of this post since often times I'm abstruse?  The reward most often sought is to love ourself.  It's okay to love yourself.  It's okay to hold yourself in your own arms.

I feel good.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


"And finally, above all else, it is about leaving a mark that I existed: I was here. I was hungry. I was defeated. I was happy. I was sad. I was in love. I was afraid. I was hopeful. I had an idea and I had a good purpose and that’s why I made works of art…" – Felix Gonzalez-Torres

This quote comes from another's blog.

That's one of the cool things blogs do ... they give you a chance to find things you resonate with.

So .. here's the blog I found the quote at:

Searching for Normalcy (What I Would Tell Her*)

Of course, that's also the link to the post I found most uplifting to read.  There are senses beyond the 5 our society puts forth.  My sense with this post was one of resonance -- I resonate with the phrase "value yourself".

Here's an article from Wikipedia on the artist who made the quote.

Here's another blog moment on the man who made the quote.

And a third blog moment on the man who made the quote.

No, I can't really say I resonate with Mr. Gonzalez-Torres' art .. but I do resonate with what he said -- which in itself is a work of art.

I don't know who to attribute these photos to,
if you do, please let me know
so I can put it here!
Personally, when it comes to art, I love Topo Gigio.  Topo was the first person I ever had a crush on (along with Lamb Chop).

I was little, not even tall enough to have my head over the back of my grandfather's rocker-lounge he sat in to watch tv at night.  So I would sneak behind his chair (it offered excellent cover from being seen) and peek out around the bottom of it at the tv whenever I heard Topo's voice.

I was supposed to be in bed and asleep, but on Sunday nights, at 8:something o'clock I knew there was a possibility of Topo saying, "..... goo'night, Eddy".  I lived for those moments back then.

Of course, other things came into my existence as I grew, all of which had some value.  For me, as I look back, Topo Gigio was a work of art.  I value those moments of laughter when I heard little Topo's voice.  It took a long time for me to realize Topo was a puppet.  Perhaps that explains my affinity for puppets still.

Now ... take a moment to be aware of yourself.

Oh go ahead ... what is the minute -- 60 seconds where you release awareness of everything else other than yourself -- going to cost you?  60 seconds.

What do you value in you?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Another DPSS tale

Back with DPSS .... again

In regards to the most recent Notice of Termination I talked about in an earlier post about two days ago...

The Notice of Termination demanded 7 things.  All of which should have been dealt with in my early June meeting with my caseworker.  All of which were part of paperwork we went over in the hour-long face-to-face visit.

I haven't been able to reach my caseworker on the telephone since the day I received the Notice.  So I put together the paperwork for all 7 demands and walked the package into my DPSS office, where I asked to see a lobby worker.

The lobby worker took a look at the items and said, "she should have handled this before."

The *she* being referred to is my caseworker.  This verbally reinforced my own assessment that my caseworker is not handling my situation adequately.  (For whatever reason ... be it her own ideology, her caseload, her work methodology, some other circumstance she may be having ... or something I haven't the foresight to think of ... for whatever reason ... she is handling the case ineptly and I believe her other cases as well.)

Why, you might ask, am I putting this into my blog?  Because I've got no other place to keep it.  You don't carry sheaves of paper around with you when you are dealing with emergency shelters, street people and being on the street.

Some of the homeless people are okay.  Some are not okay and will steal anything not nailed down or carried on your person.  Some will go so far as to try and take things off your person if they think they can get away with it.

That's true for the non-homeless as well.

Living on the streets, being homeless, is by no means "safe".  Not even in a shelter situation; not from what I'm being told and not from what I've seen in the past.

I doubt any good Samaritan is going to make the time to prepare a legal case trying to fight what I see is going on here.

Why not?
The system is huge, it employs a tremendous number of people, and
lawyers are out to make money.
Even lawyers and law firms that take pro bono cases take them based on what winning the case will do for the firm resolving it.  I've sold a lot of things in my time, however, I don't have much faith in my successfully convincing a law team that my observations of the DPSS system could make their bottom line increase.

What will they get out of it publicity wise; how will it enhance their ability to sell themselves to paid clients?  There's always a bottom line at a law office.  I've worked in small, medium and international law firms -- for over 8 years.  For the price that the top law firms charge per-hour, anywhere from $300 (a paralegal) to $950 or more per hour for a principal lawyer -- they are into meeting their bottom line.

Though I doubt that anyone is going to take on the DPSS system and the injustices it is inflicting on the people it's supposed to assist, that doesn't mean I'm going to stop keeping track of what I can ... what I'm seeing them do with me.

I believe that what is done to one person is done to another.  And for now, the only way I can keep track of what happens is to log it into this blog.

So ... this is part of my record for today.


I just threw away my photo album that had any pictures of me (and others) in it.

I can't carry stuff like a photo album with me, much less the books that meant everything to me, or the drums that were spirit inspiring, or the computer that has been attached to my hands since computers hit the scene, or the juicer and other kitchen appliances I use to eat with. Along with that, gone is the ability to get my left hand to actually use some of these things.

Dino Manes David, a dream catcher
The picture gracing this blog entry is of a most wondrous life artist, Dino Manes David -- not someone I knew personally, but someone whose talent I admired. The dream catcher she is holding in her hand (note the teardrop inside as opposed to the usually seen circular ones) is a craft I've tried to duplicate or find a way of duplicating.  However, she took the knowledge of it with her to her spiritual world. Personally, I've always felt a sense of loss at not being able to create such beautiful art/spirit pieces.

The 5 things I kept from the now gone photo album were:

  • a photo of me with my first two teeth;
  • a photo of me with Taffy, the dog that was the love in my life during my formative first 6 years;
  • a certified copy of my birth record;
  • a black and white photo of either Taffy as a puppy or Chinkie, the other pekinese that was my maternal grandmother's, the absolute first dog I ever knew in the world -- since it's a black and white photo of an odd size, I'm guessing it's Chinkie; and,
  • two identical photos of me at birth (one given begrudgingly to me by my maternal grandparents in my teens and one, joyously framed and given to me by my biological father after I met him,for the first time, sometime in my 30's).  Apparently both sides of my biological family were given the same photo.  Interesting.

Everything other picture (proof of some event) is gone.

Some people lose things because of death. Some people lose things because of disasters like fire, flood, earthquake. Some people lose things because of war, strife and violence. Some people lose things because they misplace them. Some people lose things because someone else steals the thing. Some people lose things because they may be unable to function within the parameters of the societal paradigm they are engaged in. Some people feel loss because they feel they can have no effect upon the world or their life.

Loss is everywhere. So what is it really?

Is it the loss that is important, or how we look at it?

Loss is loss. People may try to tell you one loss is more important than another. I don't believe that. It's a judgement value and the importance of a loss depends on where you perceive yourself in relation to what you place value on.

I believe if you've lost something whether it's a beloved person; or a beloved item imbued with the spirit of your life; or a part of your body; or a part of your mind; or a part of your spirit -- it holds importance.

Grieve for it and recognize your grief.

You are important, therefore what you value is important.

When some one or some thing we value is no longer, does that mean other things have no value?

It can be easy to fall into that pattern. When you've lost the most important aspect (person or thing or reason) of your life -- no matter what you conceive that to be, it's very easy to fall into the pattern that nothing else has value.

Where do you go from there?

There's no concrete answer, just like using a computer -- there are many ways of doing the same thing or getting to the goal.

The only advice I have for you, is the same I have for myself --> pick something to value if you don't already have something to value, focus on it, be in the moment, be aware, and take action.

None of us will be able to do the same amount. None of us will move at the same speed. None of us value the same things equally.

Know that you have value. Act on that value.

Act on your dreams.

Value yourself.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

In life there needs to be fun ... Raymond Crowe

I have admired this man's talent since I first saw his Hand Shadows, I don't know how long ago. If asked what I'd want to be when I grow up ... now 55 years after I could have first been asked the question, I would happily answer ... an unusualist.

Raymond Crowe <-- visit his website -- it's fun.

A Wonderful World

The Christmas Bunny

Look at Poverty Insights

I highly recommend this website for those who want to learn about the Homeless situation.  I just came across it today

Poverty Insights

Those taking action in 100,000 Homes Means 100,000 Stories was uplifting.  In particular read the articles by Joel John Roberts

This is an important link for those drawn to taking action on the homelessness issue: 100,000 Homes

From page 17 of 100khomes Playbook:
it can take as long as 9 months to process a housing application in some communities.  Onerous paperwork requirements, inspection and approval processes to establish eligibility for housing create significant delays

Anywhere But Here: Hi

Have time for an interesting read?

Anywhere But Here: Hi

You may note that her blog began in December of 2008 and is still ongoing as of this month (July 2010).

There is a survival strategy some of the homeless are using to obtain monies I've seen it twice now on blogs I come across. You can see it in use on her site (look at the donation button on the blog).

ABC news pointed an article at her blog Campbell teen blogs about homelessness (actually an article and 2 videos, along with a video by NBC, a Mercury News article and a Cypress Times article - as listed in links on the Anywhere But Here website).

What are your thoughts?

I strongly urge you, no matter what "issue" is close to your heart to take 5 minutes and consider taking some small action for whatever that issue is ... it doesn't have to be an earth-shattering action, simply an action.  And then, follow up with another small action the next day, and the next and the .... Well, okay if that seems daunting, stay with one action ... you can make a difference.

In other words, be an activist.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Strawberry

Image by chefranden, Creative Commons Attribution
I find it very difficult to enjoy the strawberry at the moment.

Appreciating the strawberry is a choice and not always the easiest choice for me to make, although I keep practicing it.

The actual zen tale, if you're unfamiliar with it:

A zen monk walks in the wilderness.  Turning a corner the monk encounters a vicious tiger.

Choosing to run and live, the monk comes to the edge of the cliff with the tiger immediately behind.

Choosing to grab a vine with both hands, the monk starts climbing down the face of the cliff.

Halfway down, the monk looks up, seeing the tiger at the top, baring it's teeth and fangs, clawing the earth.  Looking down the monk sees another tiger at the bottom, punctuating its wait with a roar or three.

The monk is caught between the two, dangling in mid-air on the vine, halfway down the cliff.

As if the monk didn't have enough to worry about, two mice, one white and one black, creep out of their den a little ways above, starting to chew on the vine.

At that moment the monk notices a plump, ripe, juicy wild strawberry growing out of the side of the cliff, within reaching distance.

Choosing to hold onto the vine with one hand, the monk's other hand reaches out, plucking the strawberry.

Plop!  The strawberry is put into the monk's mouth.

Ahhhh!  What a sweet, delicious, aromatic strawberry!

The conversation with DPSS today was so unbelievably uninformative and depressing I am having trouble chronicling it here.

The highlights were the gentleman telling me,
"Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do that is preventative.  We can't do anything about the fact that you are going to be homeless in 14 days.  You have to be in a shelter for some time for us to be able to do anything, and even then, we can only help those chronically homeless, those who have been homeless for 13 years or more.  That's all our programs do."

So I asked him, "well then who can help?"

His response was a mumble.  I asked him to speak up.  He said, "Well go to the City of Los Angeles."

I returned, "Who in the city of Los Angeles?  Where in the city of Los Angeles?  Can you give me a name?  An organization name?  A telephone number?  An address?  A website?"

After three minutes of my playing a broken record at him, "Los Angeles is a big city, you're not giving me any information to follow up on, please give me a name, an address, an organization name, something that I can follow up on.  Telling me to go to the City of Los Angeles is akin to not giving me any information at all."

Finally, he said, "Go to the internet and type in The City of Los Angeles, then type in Housing Program, then type in Section 8 Program".

That was the best I could get out of him.

So, I ask you ... what do you get if you follow those instructions? If you google, do you get something definitive? Please share with me if you do, because I'm not infallible, and I may simply not be understanding how to put his instructions together. I'd appreciate your comments.

Am I being a nimnull here?  I've resolved issues for computer users for nearly 3 years at my last job.  In previous jobs, I was always a service provider -- solving problems, getting things done, meeting heavy, hectic deadlines -- I would have been fired for offering such a vague solution to someone who was my client or a user I was assisting.

To top that off, yet another Notice of Action came in the mail this afternoon indicating my caseworker did not have me sign all the right spots of the paperwork when she and I met in her office in early June.

Along with those 5 pieces of paper, she is also asking me to sign and date a form that says I'm being registered for work so I can keep my foodstamps. A little form known as PA 1865 (Rev. 2/01), when I've already given her papers indicating my left arm is unusable that I've applied to SSI for federal disability.

Plus for some reason, even though it wasn't an issue that I had a car that wasn't working when I applied and received GR a year ago, for this annual review, apparently my caseworker has to submit that the same non-working car was stolen from me a few months ago, which I happened to mention to her and now she needs the police report for that.

I'm stymied, astounded, and having the dickens of a time choosing to focus on being in the moment.

Today's tiger at the top of the cliff, being homeless and on the streets with nothing but a bag on my back and health issues in 14 days.

Today's tiger at the bottom of the cliff, nutritional needs for particular foods (and to keep particular foods out of my system so I don't get sicker) and a non-usuable left hand.

The black and white mice -- continual notices of termination action from DPSS that present one trauma after another in trying to maintain food stamps and $221 a month to subsist on, while I attempt to gain some means of income and a place to be.

The strawberry ... hard to discern at the moment.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Reading this? It's about Homelessness


What to do, what to know ...

It's not the first time for me.  I have hope it's the last time.  Over the course of the last 8 years (maybe more) I've been semi-homeless or actually homeless a number of times.

The only oddity most folks might find is that I have an A.A. degree; am well-read (or used to be); am Caucasian; am female; about to be 56; used to be able to work at well paying jobs; and can write - most times, eruditely.  Be advised, I'm not certain if this web-log entry will be eruditely or even provocatively written.  But read on!

To keep off the streets, I have house-sat; animal sat; and one time even managed to find work while living in space that didn't have toilet facilities, heating or cooling, with siphoned electricity -- though I paid rent for it and finally got thrown out of because the folks in the front house reported it to the authorities.  I've also worked and rented space from legitimate property owners twice in the last four years, the first time for 1 year, and the time now coming to an end for about 2 years.

Five to six years ago, I was in an emergency-shelter (not one of my pleasant experiences), for one-night, and wound up in an associate's living room from what I call sheer luck, until I was gifted with a long-term house-sitting situation.

So the fact that I've been dealing since January of this year (2010) with DPSS trying to find housing before I wind up on the streets on August 3 is not new -- except for the fact that I was asking for help from the DPSS.

Perhaps I should say, DPSS finds it an oddity apparently ... but then, there are a lot of folks that didn't use to be DPSS recipients prior to the economic downturn in early 2009.

So now you know a little bit about me.  Read on for the truly important information.

I've pulled together some links you may want to know about if Homelessness is close to you, or someone you know.  It's taken me some time to find them, and for that I feel chagrined, because my internet research skills are very good.  (There's no ego in my family, I have it all!  :)

I'm soon to lose my internet connection and land line (along with my room) so I want to get these online now, while I have the opportunity.

Make a difference.  Pass this information onto folks if you feel awareness of, or a connection with, the people who face the situation called Homelessness.

Invisible people (an interesting v-log to peruse through)

End Homelessness

David Henderson's (a writer) thoughts on Homelessness  (I particularly like his story on "Social Networks Risk Client Privacy, Please Retweet")

Snapshot of Homelessness

The Wordsmith's Forge - Myths about Homelessness (a conversation amongst bloggers and writers espousing a number of views)

The Mckinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (apparent Legal definitions of Homelessness for Public Services agencies to use in defining their actions taken)

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development  (I personally haven't found this to be to helpful -- it's part of what I call *The System* in other posts, but if it helps you or those you know ... Huzzah!)

Image of question mark by Stefan Boudy, used with Creative Commons license of Attribution.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Foods We Eat

In tandem with my earlier post, and as I go through the process of sorting the books I'm giving away, the ones listed in this post are close to my heart.

I recommend them to you, and you to them.

Know that I don't hold with everything every book says. However each of them has value. Check them out, see if any of them can assist you in making a difference in your life.

  • ani's raw food kitchen, Easy, Delectable Living Foods Recipes
    by Ani Phyo, Executive Chef and Cofounder, SmartMonkey Foods
  • Dining in the Raw, Groundbreaking Natural Cuisine That Combines the Techniques of Macrobiotic, Vegan, Allergy-Free, and Raw Food Disciplines
    by Rita Roman

  • Foods That Heal, A guide to understanding and Using the Healing Powers of Natural Foods
    by Dr. Bernard Jensen

Food Sensitivities & Feeling Lost

Red Harvester Ant photo by jurvetson
used with Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
As an advocate of making a difference, I'm stymied. For myself.

What action can you take when you feel you can't make a difference?

Most folks place their utmost faith in the medical system (since I'm a westerner, know that my meaning is the United States medical system). A system I am at odds with.

Here's a flow of some of my supposedly way-out-there beliefs that most of my acquaintances don't understand: We are inextricably effected by what we ingest. The food we eat and the liquids we drink heavily effect what we feel; sense; and the health and balance of our bodily systems. What we eat and drink on a daily basis effects the clarity of our senses, the clarity of our mind and thoughts, and many of the symptoms we find in our bodies.

Let me state from the gitgo, that I also believe your body functions in the same way mine does, perhaps to a greater or lesser degree. We are inculcated to eat pre-packaged foods and to eat fast-foods partially because we've created so much going on in our lives we think we have no time to focus on our nourishment

For instance, for two weeks (until the 16th) I had been ingesting:
  • fresh juices (juiced myself),
  • fresh fruits -- food processed so I could ingest them (chewing for me has been a huge difficulty),
  • raw flax meal (that I grind thanks to a handy-dandy little machine I picked up ages ago),
  • cooked rice,
  • cooked potatoes,
  • soy protein,
  • and other mildly steamed or baked vegetables.
  • No packaged foods, no canned foods, no salt, no refined sugar, no gluten and no dairy.
  • No meat, chicken, fish
  • Increased use of olive oil and coconut oil

In that time I had:
  • picked up nearly twice the physical energy I've had in many, many years,
  • realized less congestion and physical symptoms of congestion in my ears, nose, lungs,
  • lessened the crusting of material around my eyes,
  • lessening of the nearly constant mild periorbital edema below my left eye (edema, dropsy, hydropsy), which has been so severe at points in my life that it spread to both eyes and for 7 years in a row required courses of prednisone
  • lessening of tightness in my lungs and the ability to take deep breaths easily and with comfort,

Now 3 days later and having resorted to one fast food restaurant purchase (one day); 2 cans of cannellini beans (that had 7% salt listed in their portions) one day (a second day); and 2 frozen food items yesterday from Trader Joe's (each that had 10% salt listed -- along with other ingredients that I kept track of) --
  • my periorbital edema has returned,
  • my mental clarity had dimmed,
  • waking up with morning headaches has returned,
  • nasal catarrh has returned
  • tight lungs and slightly more labored breathing has returned,
  • the feeling of congestion in my ears and between them has returned,
  • and a serious decrease of energy has returned.

That's a very slight usage of packaged and fast foods, yet it's a very significant increase of illness symptoms in my body. And it was unexpected, I thought I would have more time before the symptoms -- came back, so to speak.

I took in those foods, for psychological reasons. I needed some comfort foods, my stress levels are quite high and I truly didn't believe I would get these symptoms back so quickly.

The medical system of my society has, when I was young, used so much penicillin on me that now I react allergically to it (along with a host of other drugs whose names I cannot now remember).

I have been unable to convince normal medical practitioners the issues within my body -- and that's when I was working and had insurance to cover their fees.

I did have results with a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, and a physical therapist -- whose fees I was able to cover with my flexible spending plan (again when I was able to work).

And now, being on GR which leads to the heavy use of free clinics, it's nearly impossible to have a conversation with the medical personnel I do manage to see. Much less manage to get their attention to focus on something that doesn't fit within their paradigm.

Much less trying to convince GR and other agencies to assist me with some kind of housing rather than requiring I give up all my belongings other than what I can carry in a bag so I can begin using their emergency one-night shelters to get in a long line for transitional housing. (Try lugging a Champion Juicer all over creation with one good hand --  they're heavy buggers.  ::grin::)

I have what people call food sensitivities, not defined by our medical system as allergies. I don't fit the western medical paradigm. I apparently believe weird things.

And at the moment there seems to be nothing I can do to alter things.

So there you have it ... a description of a situation I face where I lapse into feelings of "I can't make a difference". For each of us the situation may vary. It could be the death of a love, a work situation, a health situation, a small situation, a large situation, a mental situation, an emotional situation, or a situation of spirit.

As an advocate of making a difference, I'm stymied. For myself. What action can I take when I feel I can't make a difference?

I still don't know in this particular situation.

One of the actions I'm taking is writing this. It's an action. It's something I've focused on.

An action I'm taking is to stop for a minute and deepen my breathing and ask myself the question "How can I use this to achieve my goals?"

Don't have the answer yet ... sometimes that happens.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Looking for something in which your actions make a difference?

There are tons of things in which you can make your voice heard.

It doesn't take much research on the internet to find so many organizations you become overloaded by the sheer need in the world.

No matter what condition you are in, your voice counts.

So .. just in case you're caught in that overwhelm and are seeking a fine organization to take action with, consider:

Voice for the Animals.

I've always belived fund raising to be awareness raising.  And I've done a lot of it (fundraising and awareness raising that is) -- my heart is mostly into ecological and animal causes.

Billy the Elephant is a good cause in my heart.  If you don't have money, but feel it's a good cause, volunteer your time. If you're one of the lucky ones who have a bit of coin, here's an event you might want to attend:

The point of this post?  No matter what condition you are in, your voice counts.  Your actions count.  Bring your focus to something.  Make a difference.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Homelessness -- what can you do?

I was taking a break from my current situation (giving up the last of all my belongings; meditating to stay sane in an insane world; and wondering if there's ever truly going to be a time when I will be and do the things I dream of) watching The Sacred Blacksmith, an anime series on hulu.

Yes -- those from any walk of life with whatever disaster they are facing need time away from it, time to simply chill. So if you are facing something that is grievous, remember to take that time for yourself.

Do not deny yourself that time.  (Now off my soapbox onto my reason for writing at this moment.)

If you visit you know they run commercials (10 seconds to a bit longer) in their offerings.

Anyway, the commercial they ran was for this:

National Coalition for the Homeless

So ... if you are involved with homelessness -- from any aspect ... know of that possible resource.

Know also from my experience, I was aware that my homelessness was impending and have tried for months to find assistance.

The heinous-ness of the situation is: each agency I've approached has told me I cannot be helped unless I am already homeless, with no walls to protect me, no food to eat, and no where to go.

The hope that is expressed about prevention at this website is not something I can share with you.

But if the site gives something to try to you or a point to start some kind of action, whether you are the:

... one who is homeless
... the friend or acquaintance of someone who is homeless, and you  feel helpless and don't believe you can do anything to help
... person working in *the system* who feels overwhelmed and helpless

then use it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Zen and Focus and the Homeless

All of the individual homeless stories and this is the one The Los Angeles Times puts its focus on?

Bamboo Charlie

Certainly it has its poignancy. And it looks to me like Charlie is a creative wandering spirit (that's a compliment) -- I most emphatically honor the growing of potatoes, strawberries, pumpkins, watermelons, peppers, okra and other fruits and vegetables; and his recycling.

But for journalism and reporting to try and romanticize homelessness? To put in media the tacit agreement of law enforcement who bring the gentleman Thanksgiving Turkeys; the land-owner who gives the gentleman the use of the land; and the Catholic church members who bring food once a week and allow their children to go on tour of the artistic area?

From my perspective, where I'm still scrabbling wildly to salvage some of the belongings that symbolize my life dreams in the next 15 days, it's neither a welcome path nor one that I physically can follow.

For instance where Bamboo Charlie proudly states
"I'm not going to ask another grown man for money. I never have, and I never will," he said, his face contorted in disgust. "People expect that from a homeless man."
I cannot state anything of the kind.

I've been on welfare for about a year now and while I don't beg from people on the street, I wouldn't be able to get the fruit I need to make the juice I ingest without the monthly food stamps.  Nor toilet paper, hair shampoo, laundry soap and other things that are essentials.

The process to qualify for SSI/Federal Disability is going to last well beyond the final days I have left in my room and may require a number of appeals just to prove that I'm disabled. I paraphrase from an associate who has some knowledge from being a worker within the system "it's a sad thing, but SSI considers that only those who have a true disability will go to the trouble and great lengths it takes to get qualified."

Am I jealous that Charlie has his situation in the news?


Well, now that I think of it ... yeah. He's 3 years older than I am, has tacit approval of his lifestyle from the authorities around him, and daily works on his dreams.

Me? I can't even get past 211. When you call an agency directly to ask for assistance because you are about to be homeless, the immediate and consistent referral is: 211. You call 211. They share with you that you must be on the streets to be helped by emergency shelter and that you cannot get into transitional shelter without being referred by emergency shelter.

Catch 22.

Perhaps, before I have to stop this blog due to the loss of my room, computer and other things to follow the path of having nothing on me because the only way I can get emergency shelter is to have proof from DPSS that I am totally homeless, I'll be able to blog an entry on the actual processes I've dealt with.

This is ... well, it's a different way of being introduced to the practice of zen.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

DPSS, GR and *The System*

Here's an example of what happens in the Los Angeles, California, DPSS GR/Food Stamp System:

I return from an MRI appointment today -- it's taken 3 and 1/2 months to get that appointment.

There, in my mail slot, is a letter from the Department of Public Social Services.

The form is telling me my General Relief will be discontinued effective 07/31/2010 because I did not correctly sign and/or date an annual agreement.


Place a call to the case worker, and with great luck manage to get through to her. Ask her why my GR is going to be cut off, when I met with her in early June to fill out the agreement (ABP 898-16). The meeting took nearly an hour and many pages were gone through.

Her response to me, "I haven't had time to file it."

My query, "We met, the paperwork is signed by me."

Her response, "Well, you've got to understand, I have lots of cases that got cut off earlier this month and I have to help them. Then I can come back to yours -- maybe by the end of the month."

She continued with "You can probably call me back on the 26th to see if it went through. You do understand that don't you? Others (her inference with tone and unstated - was that the others are, of course, more important than me) are ahead of you."

My statement to her, "No, I don't. And I'm scared. Who can I talk to?"

She continued, "You can talk to a supervisor, but they won't get the paper work done, that has to be done by me."

I said, "Do you understand how scary this is? I'm nearly homeless now -- August is the month I have to leave my room and face the streets, and you're telling me I cannot count on the $221 I get from GR on the 3rd because you don't have time to file my paperwork?"

She shared with me she could call me if she still has my phone number, which she then verified. I said, thank you and hung up.

What I do understand is that when I told her I was scared and wanted someone to talk to, her attitude shifted from a friendly voice to a defensive voice.

I can understand that, with her apparent overload of cases and a 2-hour time span during the day when people can actually reach her on the telephone she must run into many conversations that are unpleasant.

However, I cannot understand her asking me to face the uncertainty of not having any GR/Food Stamps on the 3rd of August, which is the only way I'll have any hope of having food and sustenance to see me through August.

So, I place a call to the free legal advice telephone number given at the bottom of the form -- fortunately, it's an 800#. It's 12:30pm, on Wednesday afternoon. The answering message indicates the office is open from 9-5 Monday-Friday and that if I want to speak with an operator I have to call back during office hours. Disbelieving what I'm hearing I call back again. Get the same message.

Call me freaky ... but, isn't 12:30 pm during the time of 9-5? So, maybe it's lunchtime? Who knows ... but it's certainly not on the Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County's message. So, I guess I'll try that 800# again later this afternoon.

Following my belief that there is always choice ... how can I choose to use this to reach my goals?

I've got to admit I'm a bit lost on that one, anger is the first thing that crops up; feeling like a victim is the second thing I am aware of.

It's gonna take me some moments to meditate on this one to see what I can do. In the meantime, I'm exercising my right hand and typing it out here in my blog so I can at least refer back to it without forgetting what happened.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Too cute! This must be passed on!

This is from a blog called Ramblings from a Blue Dot.

It's cute, I laugh and I want to share it with you. Go visit Ramblings from a Blue Dot it was posted on 2010/April 25 -- tell them you like if (if you do).

The Great Turning

My introduction to this phrase began today when I came across another blog.

It was coined by Joanna Macy, Buddhist scholar, systems theorist, author, and eco-activist, as she imagined, “future generations, if there is a livable world for them, will look back at the epochal transition we are making to a life-sustaining society. And they may well call this the time of the Great Turning.” (from

I've got to tell ya, I am hooked by creating a life-sustaining society -- more so I'm hooked by creating a life-sustaining individual.  There's no mincing of words when I say I'd like me to be a life-sustaining individual.  That is something I connect with in all ages of my life.  I feel a spark with the term eco-philosopher.

I rally to Joanna's comments on her website "Joanna on Uncertainty at Bioneers Conference". Choose to listen to it, choose to recognize anything you might or might not resonate with.

In fact here is the talk:

Joanna Macy at Bioneers 2009 from Defend theCommons on Vimeo.

It's something I'm going to explore. At this moment in time I think it's something worth looking at and being aware of.

Have the courage to feel.
Give a damn.

Remembering Matters

This post is so much more eloquent then anything I can put into words at the moment.

Take a moment of your time, choose to read through it. Choose to note your feelings and responses.

Then consider if there's something you want to take action on. Choose to do something small, something that might build into something large.

Remembering Matters - My Old Cat

Choice is taking action on awareness.

My personal thanks Judith Shapiro for your thoughts ... I appreciated reading them.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

It all comes out in the end

Do you believe one person doing something can make a difference?
Do you believe that by doing something you can make a difference?
Do you believe *you* can accomplish?

Image of the earth droplet from Oceanflynn, CC 2.0

Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't.

Take today for instance -- I had a thrilling moment when I realized that choices I have been making in the foods I eat and what I drink are having an effect on my bodily functions.

After a moment of elation, I found my mental attitude switching.

Seems I could only handle a moment or two of feeling elated, and "Look!  I did it!".  Nearly immediately, I started berating myself for the fact at the moment I cannot seem to provide space for myself and my dreams to live; nor financial security.

Found myself questioning -- "what good does it do to have made this impact on my bodily functions when I can't make the same impact on the rest of my life?"

These instances happen to me, as I look back on it, often-- this denial of the fact that I can make a difference, I can accomplish.

For whatever reason, I tend to push back, or bury the moments of elation. Either the incident is *buried by guilt for having something good*, *too small to be acknowledged*, *a fluke*, *just a small thing that I can't repeat in my big life issues*, or (insert your own reason/excuse here). The fact is I often have taken a moment of 'I can' and instead focused on 'I can't'.

To counter that, at this moment in time, I choose to honor the questions to my self:

  • What if I can make a difference?
  • What if I can accomplish?
  • What if I don't have to choose to denigrate small accomplishments because I don't think I've successfully accomplished bigger things?
  • What if my accomplishment isn't of great importance to anyone else, but it is important to me?

Okay, here goes ...

My small accomplishment: over the course of the last 7 days, by paying attention to what I choose to eat, what I feel drawn to at the store, how my body feels, and choosing to be patient with myself: I have had an effect on both the amount of energy I feel and can face the day with; and, a difference in the material (and the ease with which) I excrete.

Yah, I can hear some of you laughing at me ... go find another blog to read. Or better yet, remember a quote from Marian Wright Edelman

"We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee."

For those of you laughing with me ... you can make a difference, you can accomplish. The size of the accomplishment matters not, it may be a first small accomplishment or the next step in a series of small accomplishments that brings about a larger effect. It's still an accomplishment and worthy of your awareness.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Moment

Being in the moment.  That's what life is about.

It's been a long, hard haul to come up with that belief.  Nearly a full 56 years worth of haul.  Quite frankly, it needn't have been that long.  I'll leave rhapsodizing on that for another entry, though.

I just woke up with the phrase.  It is a portion of the answer to one of my most important questions in life -- what is the meaning of life?  (Personally, previous to this I had always latched onto "42" as being the answer to that question.)
Being in the moment.  That's what life is about.
With all the dichotomies; all the things that don't make sense; all the idiocies; all the atrocities -- all the crap I've observed -- being alive has never made any sense to me.

Quite frankly, it still doesn't in many ways, yet I now feel that sense of knowing ... that moment many of us seek -- a feeling of security in oneself; a feeling of freedom; a feeling of knowing myself.  Concomitantly,  my *purpose for being here* has been resolved in my mind.

A flash of insight.  An epiphany. A moment of being in the flow. Whatever you want to call it.

Being in the moment is where I feel powerful, whole, balanced and harmonious.

Feeling and sensing are integral to being in the moment.

I haven't managed being in the moment often.  It's been trained out of me.  However, the one thing I -- and you -- always have is choice.

Choice, that's a big deal.  One of the things you can do with it is choose to be here, now.

The only way to be in the moment is to choose to do so.

Have you ever truly walked to the beat of your own drummer?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Some Thoughts on "The System"

I sent the following out to a few of my friends, if you feel like responding to it, please do:

I hope things are going well for you and your family, and if they are not, I hope they turn into situations that broker extremely well for you.

I'm actually feeling almost human at the moment, so I'm writing down my thoughts. Typing is very difficult because it's one-handed due to my left hand/arm situation, the days of my typing 110 words a minute are long gone. If I don't sound coherent please let me know ... at this point I'm beginning to wonder if I'm becoming a mental case.

I am totally astounded at the way I have been treated, not only in the public health system, but by the agency of DPSS.

The poor and the destitute are being treated like cattle and mindless beings in our "system".

I am being treated this way, I guarantee you others are as well -- others who have less of a voice than I do. At this moment, I assure you, I feel as if I have no voice at all.

I have been told things like:
"you don't fit neatly into any of our categories"
(with the inference that I don't qualify for assistance, or that my assistance may be taken away).

"If you're not suicidal, not a violent menace to others, or have a substance addiction, you cannot get mental health treatment -- unless you get insurance or pay upfront for it -- our facilities only treat with medications to keep people from hurting themselves or others"
(this in response to a request to be allowed counseling for the loss of the use of my arm and other mental anguish at not being a viable person due to being in the GR/food stamp system)

"if you had insurance and cash you could be seen within a week for your arm"
this from a doctor at the free clinic less than a week ago, when I've been put on hold for nearly 3 months to have an MRI because I'm a GR recipient.

"there's physical therapy that could be recommended, but you have to pay for it"
(this from a different doctor about two months back who is no longer with the same free clinic).

"well, if you had insurance we could recommend you for physical therapy for your arm, but we can't"
this by a doctor at a different free clinic when I first started seeking help some months back regarding my arm.

I am continually told that nothing can be done about my impending homeless situation, until I am actually homeless and on the streets. This is the same spiel I have been fed for the many months I have been dealing with this situation.

Some of the "professionals" I'm dealing seem to be as overwhelmed or nearly as overwhelmed as the people (like me) they are supposed to be helping.

The request to get me reviewed as disabled with SSI/Federal Disability was quoted as being a 120-day process and upon following up on it 60 days later, that quote has now been changed to a "many, many months to many years process". It was implied that I should feel sorry for the system because it and the people working in it have been so affected by cut-backs.


I should feel sorry for the system that is supposedly there to help me? The system that is supposedly there to dole out compassion and assistance to me -- and I ought to feel sorry for it and the people involved in it?

There's something truly wrong with this picture.

Requests for mental and physical help are continually denied with the reason that I don't have insurance or cash to pay for the assistance needed and that public health can only do so much.

It has been stated to me by a doctor in the system that I have to be convincing because if I don't fit a textbook case I'm faking.

I feel appalled, hopeless and like a victim -- often. Can you imagine what people who may be less educated in the ways of words, or less aware of other venues available, are feeling as they are ensnared by this public welfare/health system?

I am also astounded by the people who work within the system who seem to feel defeated by it.

A number of people I have dealt with speak and act with an apologetic demeanor as they deliver what appear to be rote responses to me.

Something needs to be done about this treatment -- if the people of the system are treating one person this way, they are treating others this way.

At the moment I'm not certain what can be done.

There is a dichotomy in what the middle-class person thinks public welfare/health is and what it actually is. When I take the opportunity to speak with others outside the system, I am treated to responses like "I can't believe they did/said that"; "you need an advocate"; "well try here".

There seems to be an apparent belief that the way I am being treated *must* be a fluke.

It's not a fluke.

I don't know that the public welfare/health system works even for anyone who supposedly "fits into the categories". Since I know you to have been an activist in the past -- and I'm not asking you to act for me -- I'm simply asking for resources, do you have any suggestions on what activist steps I might take?

Let me re-assure you, if you have no thoughts on the subject, I can understand. Thanks for listening.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A List of Books I find Memorable

What we value -- have you ever thought that what we value is, itself, a form of communication?

We are always communicating something, I said that outloud when I was way young.

No one liked it then, in fact, I was severely reprimanded for saying it. Even as I look back on that today, I don't understand why I was chastized to the point of never saying it aloud again...

... to me it's an obvious truth, we are always communicating.

Many people either are not aware of, or have forgotten that communication is not simply a series of words coming out of your mouth or your keyboard.

Communication is a huge issue for me, and I'll be typing up articles revolving around it often.

We communicate in myriad ways -- from sounds to movement; from the way we choose to present ourselves in adornment to the way we choose to entertain ourselves; from the mundane to the mystical.

Yet many of the people in the civilization I live in often fool themselves that communication is only done by words.

None of us values exactly the same thing in exactly the same way, though often we find ties to those around us who place value, in their own way, on the same thing.

What we consider to have value changes as we change, so a list like the one I'm making now could be the same or different at any given moment.

These are some books I find of value: