Monday, January 31, 2011

#Homeless Shelters are a bandaid, looking for a solution? #100khomes

I spoke with 5 of my female cohorts in winter shelter last night.

"How do we get out of shelter?  We're all female, solo (can't say single because some of us are not), and low-income to no-income.

The responses echoed what has been going through my mind:

"Cain't.  Dun't make 'nuff on unemployment even when they gives me the check."

"We go from shelter to shelter. There's no way to get a place."

"I can't stay at home, my husband is there."

"The women wif kids get some help, but not us.  They just want to send us to LA"

(The reference to LA is to a building in Los Angeles within spitting distance of Skid Row that solo individuals can wait months to get into.

It is a stop gap and houses many substance abusers and extremely poverty stricken.

Of the many solo women I've run into -- they'll chose winter shelter over that place.

I made the same choice myself.)

"I'm a 99er, there's no hope of me getting an income."

The shelter system, while a band-aid that is keeping many of us (solo females) alive, is not solving the homelessness issue.

I am grateful for the shelters and most of the people who work in and through them.

If you truly want to make a difference in the world -- support 100KHomes.

And follow them on twitter

How serious am I on this?

This still is of the feet of three of us sharing an extension cord at winter shelter right now to get the precious power for our equipment.

I'm giving up communicating with anyone today to get this message out to you.

You all rock.  You're all astute and aware, help make my day by offering this information to facilitate another person being aware?

Thank You.

And here's a smile for your time and energy.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Fit of Pique

Not everything is rosy. Nor does everything smell like a rose.

Are you aware the majority of your communication is non-verbal? It is, and the same is true for all of us ... humans.

Today, on the bus back into Glendale I was poignantly aware of how ashamed, and let's add for good measure angry I was to be a part of the human race.

I *know* that we learn from those around us, I know it's possible to re-learn and transform feelings and awareness.  It's my intent to share that with others by the way I live and make choices.

Yet, in spite of that, I still wind up getting my triggers activated. This morning on the bus was one of those times.

The tie-in? At least 15 people were exhibiting the same judging; applying of shame-for-being sentiments; projecting you-are-a-blight-on-our-world-how-dare-you; and the oh-woe-is-us-what-are-we-going-to-do-about-you set of behaviors I was inundated with in my tender growing years.

I hooked into it and barely contained my temper on the bus, including when one little old lady without using any words -- just holding her hand up to her nose in a highly dramatic gesture, stood up from her seat and motioned to me I should open the window next to me and join her in her non-verbal aggressiveness. I looked at her evenly, barely managed a smile and said, "What is it you're trying to say ma'am?"

Well, here, watch my non-verbal communication in this vid I shot immediately after getting off the bus so I could remember what it was I wanted to communicate.

No one is perfect. Least of all me. But I am capable of changing the world, one moment at a time.

I double-dog .... no, wait, I triple-dog dare you (as I do myself) to step back and take a look from another view (hopefully one at least 180 degrees from the one you standardly use) at the human interactions around you today.

You may choose to stay the same as you are. You may choose to change something. You may choose to tell me I'm off-my-rocker. You may choose any number of things.

You choose.

Each time we choose, we teach someone around us to choose as well.

What are we teaching today?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Teddy Oh Noes! And Today's Challenge 1/28/11

Watch out! She's getting dangerous! A blog and a vlog post together! Whoot! Look out world! ::grin::

So what's the big deal about my teddy hat?

First, it's the most important piece of clothing right now for keeping my ears and neck warm. Since a little toddler the cold has always been a pain, literally. Without ear muffs and neck warmer and gloves (all admirably provided by my teddy hat) I'm a miserable creature.

teddy hat is one piece and less to carry/lose than a separate hat, muffler, ear muffs, and gloves. In the vernacular of a homeless person that makes it priceless. Lightweight, one piece, easy to carry, easy to use.

Second, it's the ways and means of covering my eyes in the light of the winter shelter so I can sleep, particularly since I normally sleep during the dinner period and up until 1 or 2:am. The Armory never goes totally dark. That would be a disaster, with people tripping on other people's cots and such. There are night lights. Unless I'm dead to the world, which happens :), I need pure darkness for full sleep.

The point of this is, each of us are responsible for taking steps daily to take care of ourselves. For each person, those steps will be different.

More importantly, if you don't take care of yourself, you have nothing to offer anyone else should you choose to do so.

Finally -- it's my belief that a paradigm shift is necessary to light the way into dissolving homelessness and other social ills. Paradigm shifts are brought about one person at a time, showing and illustrating another way to live. I'm one of those people, and I take my advocacy to heart. So ... the challenge of the day for you:

What small step can you act on to take care of yourself today?

You deserve it.

As does everyone around you.

Peace out, mes amis.

Friday, January 21, 2011

What's it like in a shelter? How can they be improved.

Ya know, Carey asks brilliant questions, I like that in her. This is a soapbox blogpost, and it's a big soapbox, so grab a glass of water or juice, a snack or three of grapes or bananas and sit back and ponder what could be.

In response to the question "I was just wondering if those of you who have been in shelters could explain what your experience is or was like? What could the shelters do to improve the experience in your opinion?" on We Are Visible's FB page, I offer this diatribe:

So you wanna know about shelters. Hmmmm.

What's it like to be in one? How can shelters be improved?

Do you have time for me to write a book?

No? Well, let me see if I can condense some of what goes on.

First, and foremost: You need to know that a shelter is a bandaid not a solution.

I'm gonna use one of the top educator and presenter tools and repeat myself: A shelter is a bandaid *not* a solution.

The same social dynamics going on in your workplaces and social gatherings are going on in shelters.

What it's like to be in a shelter? Here's some of the things I've seen in the last week:

A man (part of a loving couple for many years who is new to the homeless front) had his wedding ring stolen from his finger while he slept in the winter shelter a week ago. Four days ago that same man was accepted into a 60-day emergency shelter while his lady-mate was told to come back the next day to try to get into the 60-day shelter. They both took being separated from each other for even a night badly, and turned away from the 60-day shelter.

The last I saw of them they were trying to stay with another down-and-out-friend rather than risk dealing with another shelter, that was 2 days ago.

I know the emergency shelter they applied to. I don't know the full story on either side, but I *know* the outreach team and the intake team to be genuine, compassionate, and creative problem solvers.

So whatever the reason for my friends grief with the system, it still has them out on the streets.

This morning, a disabled-man who uses a walker or 2 canes to hobble even a few steps had his bicycle stolen. The bicycle was critical to him for transportation outside the shelter, just like my tricycle is life blood to me. It takes two trips to get all his gear outside and no one was there to help him from his usual cadre. On his second trip ... wham, bham, thank you ma'am.

As I was walking outside with my tricycle I asked him how he was. "My bike has been stolen and they won't let me back inside! I don't have a phone..."

As I was digging out my cell phone for him (hoping it had picked up enough charge from the half hour I was able to get at the plug by the DVD screen this morning) with my trike holding open the door, one of the excellent folks from the winter shelter team walked up. I eased the trike out and left them talking.

If you follow the #wearevisible hashtag on Twitter, yesterday you would have seen the picture and short story I took of the emergency response crew taking away the white-haired lady. She's been sicker, longer and more seriously than I was.

None of the officials or volunteers were able to do anything to get her seen by a medical team. It never occurred to me to ask why, however, I was running a recurring fever, so I'll forgive myself for that.

Whatever she has, if it's contagious, there's been over a week and a half of spreading it to 150 folks in the same room.

On the purely humane level she deserves health care simply because she exists.

After two days of talking with her, in tandem with 2 other shelterees talking with her, yesterday morning she let me set in motion a request for an ambulance to get her to a random ER.

I could go on, and on, and on. I haven't even scratched the surface yet of the stories that take place daily in winter shelter.

As well, I haven't even touched the stories here of the people who provide the winter shelter services. There are a multitude of stories, so many.

I had a hissy-fit last night. An unusual outbreak from me, however, I do understand why I had it.

Minutes before I arrived at winter shelter an unaware driver missed hitting me on my tricycle by a mere 18-inches. The reason I didn't get creamed was due to my reflexes and in-grained habits from years of motorcycle riding. Another driver earlier in the morning had also tried to turn into me as I was crossing an entirely different intersection.

I went to get my linens and for the umpteenth-time they couldn't be found.

Volunteer shelterees handle the disbursement and they have rules from the service providers they are required to follow, so most of them do follow those rules.

"You want me to come back in half-an-hour when things have cleared out a bit?"

"Yes," they said.

Back I went. "We still can't find them. Are you sure you turned them in?"

"Yep. I'm sure."

It was finally agreed to give me new linens (not an easy agreement to come to due to the rules). As I walked away with the linens, the bag in question was found. So I traded the brand new, very clean, out of the bag linens for the bag I had the night before.

I took the coveted bag over to my cot, opened it and everything inside it was damp and smelled of urine.

No, I didn't soil them. I can now guess what happened. Many people at winter shelter are incontinent (both urine and fecal matter) and can't always afford their diapers; others puke for whatever reason; others are on substances and just don't get up from bed to take care of their need to use the bathroom; and so on. I obviously got a cot the night before that had residue *soak* in it and it absorbed onto the towel and washcloth I put on the cot first and then the sheet and blanket. Next would have been my sleeping bag.

Let me say, I didn't handle the loss, finding, and discovery of wet linen well. The best I could accomplish at that moment was a few tears and a nod to my friend on the outreach team to act in her capacity to get me some clean linens for the night.

I try not to take advantage of the fact that I speak often with the outreach team and consider them all friends and mentors. This time the best I could do was shuffle my toe on the floor and ask for special treatment to get clean linen.

I went to sleep, immediately, something I do to make certain I don't let outer circumstances get me down when I cannot take action on what is happening around me.

Lo and behold, this morning as I was turning in this batch of linens, an official person of the winter shelter had found my linens from 3 nights past in the distinctive bag I had acquired for them. She's putting both bags in the "R" section for me for tonight. We'll see if either one of them is there to be found this evening.

How can shelters be improved?

I repeat: A shelter is a bandaid not a solution.

I am ever grateful for the three shelters I've had association with. All of them have their brilliances and their flaws--as does every other shelter out there that I've not yet seen or have personal knowledge of.

Shelters are a way for pulling people in out of the dangers of the street. But they are not gonna stem the tide.

Quite frankly, some of the tide have learned how to make the shelter system work for them--without changing their *lifestyle*, while the rest of us scrabbling to get out of shelters and into our own house are suffering because more and more rules come up to deal with the abusers of the shelter system.

Guess who learns to get around the rules? Why, it's those whom the rules are set up to contain.

Again making it harder and harder for those of us who don't intend to be in the winter shelter next year -- to get out NOW.

Once inside a shelter, whether from the structural hierarchy running it, or from the clients who partake, stratum make their appearance.

Notably, the predators and the prey -- in a more physically volatile aspect than in your office, but still the same.

The only difference between us (the homeless) and you (the housed) in this respect is your predators and prey are more heavily masked and seem to appear to get along in standard society. Many of us (the homeless) don't have the necessary set of tools to mask the way our so-called civilized bretheren do so we seem much more socially unacceptable.

Shelters that accept funding from specific sources are limited by those self-same sources. They stand to lose their funds if they violate any of the rules the funders set down. This is a huge thing and hampers actually helping many of the very people they want to help.

Anyone who works in the homelessness arena consider the following thoughts from Roger von Oech on Slaying a Sacred Cow.

I suggest moving beyond shelters -- even though they are needed now and will continue to be until a paradigm shift can be accomplished.

Until we move beyond shelters and address what is actually broken, people and organizations, businesses, and federal entities who donate to shelters: don't put limitations on your donations like:

1) Family Bonds
Families cannot be housed in the same physical location. Men and (women & children) must be put in separate sleeping areas. Men and women with no children must sleep in separate sleeping areas.

AUUUGHHHH! Let's get real folks, there's not going to be any hanky panky. There are people posted at each shelter to prevent that kind of stuff, and they patrol the sleeping areas so ... what's the deal? Why punish the family who has no place to sleep?

Why does a family (whether they are adults with or without children) of hetrosexual, homosexual, or androgynous sexual preferences have to be separated physically from each other in a time when they've lost their home, belongings and most often their friends as well? Why if a couple lives together without a marriage certificate and is over the age of 18 do they have to be physically separated?

Break the box here people.

2) Triage care
Winter shelters are keeping people from dieing right now. It's no pleasure being in one, except for the supreme pleasure of knowing there is a security guard around you and you won't be knifed in the night; and you are out of the elements; and you have a 1-in-50 chance of getting into the restroom if you are a woman, a 1-in-100 chance of getting in if you are a man -- still better than a bush with no toilet paper.

The people who run winter shelters are mostly huge hearted and truly compassionate, making due with little to no funds and sacrificing their time and energy for these 150+ spirits that each one holds.

I would suggest that you large corporations, you folks-of-faith, you folks of any kind with pockets that have a bit of change in them consider contributing so these winter shelters can afford a healthcare triage person on-site.

So many folks are taken out by ambulance (such as myself) as we deteriorate, when a triage type person could suggest the call be made much earlier. Thereby helping to alleviate the spread of so many contagions. It's a bandaid, however, I repeat, A Shelter Is A Bandaid.

Please consider helping winter shelters achieve this possibility.

3) Dumpees.
Hey society? Quite dumping people who have mental and emotional and physical issues on the shelters. Sure you don't want to have to deal with it. But that's no reason to dump folks on the already overburdened shelter system.

It's inhumane. It's sticking your head in the sand pretending to be an ostrich. And, it's another indicator of the "disposable society" syndrome.

A shelter is a bandaid not a solution.

This brings me back to my original suggestion, make a paradigm shift, people. Slay a Sacred Cow

“Creative thinking may simply mean the realization that there’s no particular virtue in doing things the way they’ve always been done.” --Rudolph Flesch

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Do you want drama?

The winter shelter is noisy tonight: snoring (more of an abundance of it than usual), coughing, rustling ... But the noise that concerns me most is the elderly white-haired lady on the cot next to me.

I've been watching her health worsen daily for four to five days now.  You may recall, reading a short blurb about her in another post.

Three of us shelterees are very worried about her. She was laying down in the bushes on the side of the building breathing very raggedly as we were queuing up for entry.  Rumor had it she had been there all day.

I was concerned enough that I asked the person I know who has the experience and passion to handle this kind of matter to go out and take a look at her, since the other shelteree and I couldn't get her up to get her inside.

As luck would have it, he was outside searching and she wandered in and got the cot next to me while my head was turned.

Do you want drama?

This woman stands a good chance of dying.  Soon.

If she doesn't luck into a benefactor who has the compassion, wherewithal, and consistent intent to assist her, I don't give her long for this world.  And that's not because she doesn't have spunk, the desire to keep going, and a tenacious grasp.

Her breathing for the last two hours has been bubbly with a sigh-groan and a rasp every few moments.  She is tossing and turning trying to find a position she can sleep in.

One of the shelterees, (a woman a few years my senior) planning on hitch-hiking back to Texas after being turned down at a 60-day shelter yesterday -- spent the entire evening hovering over our white-haired friend to try and get her comfortable.

Another shelteree loaned a second blanket to provide the white-haired woman with more warmth.

I'm bad with ages, never could guess anyone's for-love-nor-money.  However, I place this woman to be about 20 years older than I.  That easily puts her at 76.

Six day old babies and women in their 70's -- these are the faces of homelessness.

Do you want drama?

The white-haired woman needs help.  And not just being plunked into an ER room and given meds only to be tossed back out onto the street with 2 bus tokens to wend her way back to winter shelter with.

No, I don't know her other issues.  I don't know if she is a substance abuser, mentally challenged, or has any other socially unacceptable symptoms that grow so abundantly in civilized society.

She has spent a life-time on this earth and as a human-being deserves so much more than being in this winter-shelter struggling for her every breath.

I have no one else to turn to but you few who read my tweets and this blog.

The white-haired woman on the cot next to me is one woman of many.  We on the streets with her are doing what we can for her.

My challenge to you -- what is there in the world immediately around you that you can apply your passion, awareness, time, and energy to?

Whatever it is, do it now.

Do you want drama?  Look around you ... be aware.  I guarantee that within 50-feet on the road you are walking you will find drama.

If you truly don't think you will find anything of a dramatic nature  -- from pollution to relations -- hire me.  I'll gladly point out things to be aware of and donate a portion of what you pay me to the folks I believe are spear-heading viable, compassionate, spirited resolutions.

Good night, mes amis.  I am going to try and get a bit more sleep before lights on.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Rant, plain and simple.

In response to the We Are Visible question of Has everyone seen the Homelessness in U.S. Report - C-SPAN Video Library on the We Are Visible Facebook page:

Jack Reed spoke cogently, and with heart.

I'm very glad Ebony has found permanent housing and income. I note she did not mention the word "home".

If the issue is homelessness then the resolution is being homed. If the issue is housing then the resolution is housing.

It may seem petty to you, nitpicking a word or phrase. However, look at it from this perspective: Resolving an issue rests in defining it.

That bears repeating: Resolving an issue rests in defining it.

Homelessness is of epidemic proportions. The positive "it could be worse than this spin" I perceive being presented does a dis-service both to those working hard on the issue and those living the issue. As well as those about to join the ranks of "living the issue". More and more folks are becoming homeless daily. Look at those who are using your libraries, your bus systems, those walking your streets.

Would you have read that any differently if I had used the words: "our libraries, our bus systems, those walking our streets"? Do you see me -- a homeless person as part of your "you"? Or am I somehow separate ... different? Less than?

Dare I ask you to use your own eyes, rather than the eyes of those who are trying to collect and report to you on the numbers? Yes, I dare.

No two agencies seem to agree on what homelessness is, much less what causes it. Even as they try to assist we who are without homes (or housing -- as you will) they wind up in conflict with each other.

The accurate or inaccurate count of us is not what is going to resolve the issue of homelessness.

Yes, it will gain monies for the systems that are trying to stem the tide ... and that is a needed bandaid.

However, those systems have not prevailed in the past, nor are they going to prevail in the future without a paradigm shift. It reminds me of the definition of insanity -- doing the same thing over and over, while expecting different results.

You can skew data anyway you want to. I've worked in data information long enough to understand you take a set of numbers, apply the spin or counter-spin you want to it, and voila you have a platform for presenting your agenda.

The implication that things could be better if we have more accurate numbers, bothers the hell out of me. It's a playout of "If only we had _________, we could ___________" Any decent therapist will tell you that's an excuse for not taking action. You work with what you have and make change.

The reason I am being assisted right now is not because of the agencies, it's because one person has introduced me to other people and these individuals have either gotten to know me or see me as a productive person. They, personally, are working their hind ends off to get things done for me, whereas the agencies have been forestalled at every vantage point.

I've been rejected by a womens shelter for temporary housing because of my arm (disabled), my proud admission of seeing the psycho-therapist at a shelter on an on-going basis, and a question of where can I park my tricycle. This rejection stunned even the agency who is doing their best to assist me.

The winter shelter in the local area has accepted me every night with no questions asked, other than to follow their rules while within the confines of the Armory. People facilitating the winter shelter work their fingers to the bone to be humane and helpful.

The reality that brings about change is what works in other venues -- personal interest of each human being involved.

I nearly fell off my chair in disbelief during this report when I found out what is considered severely impacted housing--50% or more of income of low-income households going toward housing expenses.

My goddess! When I was working, I paid 75% to 80% at times of my income toward housing and wondered why I couldn't make it in life. I worked diligently for years, supporting myself now to find out what I thought was normal is looked upon as severely impacted.

This is the first time in my life I've seriously been able to consider spending only 45% of my income for housing. Even finding something at that rate is truly difficult. The going price for a room (not a house or apartment mind you -- but a room) in the city of Los Angeles, California, is $550 and up. A ROOM my friend -- for a single person.

So I ask you, what portion of your income (and I assume many of you have two adult incomes) are you paying for your housing? How long can you go without income before you will lose your housing?

There are many of us - homeless. Many who will not even admit it to themselves at this point, much less to others. The stigma of being homeless is severe. Apparently we are broken. Many of us remain homeless because others see us as broken. We don't fit with someone else's comfortable idea of humanity.

So many are trying to "fix" us.

We are not what is broken.

We (the homeless) are symptoms of what is broken.

I submit this as a rant. I have no resolutions to offer. Rarely do I come from that perspective. However, I guarantee you, I will come up with some creative and efficacious means of resolving how to educate, inform and involve people regarding homelessness

Friday, January 14, 2011

Another Moment in the Life of ....

I'm looking at my hand-written notes and I *know* they were clear to me this morning, yet right now, they look like the ground a sick chicken clawed at. I know it was imperative I write this morning.

I wish I knew what it was that was so imperative to write.

Well, let's see what comes to mind as I translate the notes that make the most sense.

4:15 am
The elderly woman with the white hair on the cot next to me was coughing her lungs out last night -- right now she is sleeping semi-peacefully.

One cot katy-korner to me is another woman, a girl by my estimation, also coughing her lungs out earlier.

No coincidence that I, too, was coughing myself silly in fits during the night. We must have sounded like a right synchronous rasping section.

We were not the only ones, but we did have the corner on coughing in our two rows. There were lots more rows (at least 14 more).

4:30 am
If I don't stop writing now and get my teeth brushed, I'll lose my opportunity to get into the most usable of the 2 women's bathrooms.

Oops. Too late, there's a line now. So, I'm standing in line, writing in the night light.

A woman just walked out of the restroom on the far left. "It's nasty in there, it's wet all over and the other one is full of urine, so be careful."

I nodded.

Chose the wet bathroom (flooded since there's no real drainage in it -- happens all the time) and dragged a folding chair in with me to set my backpack and my toiletries kit down upon.

5:00am and lights are on
Asked myself, "Why haven't I taken a vid with the Flip of the winter shelter yet? I've been given this great means of recording things and I've not been able to get the personal physical energy up to use it."

Answered myself, "Because my comrades in this winter shelter deserve some privacy and if I film without asking that would be rudely intruding on the private moments we allow each other in this one room, holding 150+ of us."

The winter shelter is our bedroom, living room, bathroom, kitchen and communal area.

I just don't have the energy to ask permission at the moment, all of my energy is going into survival daily, so I forgive myself for not using a great gift (the Flip) yet as I had planned.

Actually, this morning I had a teensy bit of energy and daydreamed about things that could be:

You're housed and feeling under-the-weather. You've wisely chosen to stay home from work and most like you're also spending a lot of time in your bed, shuttling back and forth 'twixt it, the kitchen, and the bathroom.

When a coughing fit comes upon you -- you use the bathroom and wander back to your bed or the couch to lay down.

You utilize the fresh foods you have at your fingertips for appropriate nourishment. You tub soak to get the toxins out of your body through the largest organ you have, your skin, then you shower for as long as you need. Afterwords you step out onto a dry mat, have time to brush your teeth, rinse your mouth and do a bit of energy movement.

In your room, you casually touch base (telephone, e-mail, social media) with whomever you need to let know that you're not at the top of your game so they don't fret and worry.

Abruptly, since I now have to go to the bathroom again, the reverie is broken, and it's back to reality for the moment.

I haven't asked for permission to film anyone in the shelter, however, I can give you a tiny word picture snapshot of it this morning:

A long line to use the womens restrooms and pondering if some folks just grew up in a barn, or where never taught how to clean up after themselves. Plus you carry anything of import with you into the bathroom, even if your cot position is close to the restrooms. There are some less than scrupulous folks here and anything not on your person could disappear if someone isn't watching it.

Rolling up the sheet, pillowcase, blanket, and towel and stuffing them into the plastic bag with my name scrawled on it to turn in at the "Linen Closet" and get back tonight. Putting the pillow in the pillow pile to be handed back out to us tonight.

Breaking down the cot and dragging it over to the palette to be piled on. Yes, I could wait and let someone else do it, but I learn by watching and while I may have a bit of physical difficulty folding the darned little gizmo, I can get it done now -- given time. There is no reason why someone else should have to pick up after me.

Then it's waiting until 7:am, hoping for a bit more warmth as we are all unleashed onto the streets.

I still don't know what I was driven to write this morning, now that I have a moment at my computer, here in the library.

So, I guess this is "Another Moment in the Life of ..." entry. ::grin::

Oh well, so much for literary goals, and I highly recommend to you to smile, you'll never lose the ability even if you are losing teeth like I am. A toothless smile, given freely and with joy is more important than a clenched smile given because it's politically correct.

Go with peace and joy mes amis! And share those smiles!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


It's the first day of January, 2011 on the Pacific Coast.  The weather at this moment is clear with some clouds expected today and cold.

A lot of folks spend time right about now making resolutions.  For me resolutions tend to emphasize what was or is wrong.  Nothing inherently unbalanced with that.   However, as I've done it every year since I knew of the tradition, I'm thinking ... why not try something new?

For 2011, I prefer to use a technique I've learned in group Stress Management sessions on Wellness Wednesdays at the shelter.

"What can I congratulate myself on?"

And while I'm doing that, I invite you to do it for yourself, in addition to whatever tradition you delight in for January 1, 2011.

I have gone from giving away everything (except for my puppets--which a friend still holds for me; and my dearly beloved Champion Juicer--which another friend still holds for me); being homeless, on GR & Food Stamps, and without enough cash to provide anything for myself ...

to ...

...being homeless with SSDI & enough cash to make small provisions for myself.

I congratulate myself for that.

I congratulate myself on having found the best therapist I've ever dealt with (I've dealt with many over my lifetime!) and going every Wednesday to be part of her 2 facilitated groups along with my individual session.

I congratulate myself on being social enough to have found a number of great communities on Twitter and FB.

I congratulate myself on opening my mouth and speaking, even if others don't want to hear what I have to say, or find what I have to say uncomfortable.

I congratulate myself on being self-response-able.

I congratulate myself on protecting myself emotionally, mentally, physically and in spirit.

I congratulate myself for getting up every morning and making it the best day ever, no matter my circumstances.

I congratulate myself for not being perfect.

::grin::  Now it's your turn ... what do you congratulate yourself for?  Leave a comment, I want to know!  ::large smile::

Happy 2011.