Tuesday, November 6, 2012

One year! You'd Be Surprised at How Far You can Go!

It is true how amazed you can be at how far you can come and travel in just one year's time.  A whole lot of things can happen in just a years time, and sometimes how far you grow, travel, mature, and advance in that time can just take your breathe away. No one knows this better than me, never give up hope, faith and trust, because of where you are at.  It isn't the destination that is important it is the path or road you take there that makes all the difference.  See it really doesn't matter, there are many avenues and roads to a certain destination, but the lessons one learns, accepts and practices along the way are what make all the differences in the world. If anyone has ever told you that life was going to be easy, that there wasn't going to be any risks, or that you aren't going to have to make some really tough decisions, they lied to you.  Because, for each choice that we make there are consequences either good or bad that we have to accept and contend with.  I have told you before and will keep telling you over and over again till it sinks in. If it isn't hard it isn't worth it.  If you don't have to work hard to get it and keep it then there is something terribly wrong with it and will only lead you to loose it or worse someone is going to come along and steal it out from under you.  Those things that we have to work hard for, and struggle to keep hold of are the things that we cherish the most in the world.  Further, what makes it so precious too us is what we had to come through, go through and withstand to obtain it.  These are lessons my friends!  Building block to go higher and further than we have ever been before.

You can change your whole life in just a year. You can re-invent yourself, become a totally different person, learn a whole new set of values and ideals in just a year. You can even learn a new language or teach yourself anything. There is nothing holding you back from accomplishing whatever you set your mind to but yourself.  Over the summer I wrote to you about 2 things that can keep you from completing a task that you start. Or even keep you from trying! Do you remember what those two things were?  Fear and Jealousy are the two things that can keep us from succeeding at our goals.  Whether, your fear or jealousy or someone else's.  Fear can hold us in place and keep us from trying, jealousy of others can keep us focused on what others have and what we want or hope to have but never putting for the effort to go out there and get it.  Jealousy on another person's part can cause them to whisper doubts in our ears, point out our limitations, and what they think are our weaknesses.  They can also try and stop us with either words or actions, or be standing right there and try to take it away from us.  Keep that in mind as you move forward in your life, cut loose those that don't support you, and be wary of those that want everything you have. Divorce yourself form your fear, because fear has no place in those that have faith and trust.  

A year may not seem like a lot of time but I want you to see how far a person can go and grow in that amount of time.  A year ago today I was in an extended stay hotel, been there for a month, I had lost my apartment.  My two dogs and I were put up in the extended stay by Travelers Aid in Atlanta.  Last year on this day was the hardest day of my life and one that I hope to never have to relive again.  The funding for the hotel ran out, I had to leave the hotel, I had nowhere to go, and my friend that I thought I was moving in with backed out on me at the last moment without any warning or notice.  Because I didn't have a place to go and no one to help keep my dogs, animal control was called and both my dogs were taken from me. One was just a pup, his name was Skylar, he was a lab/springer spaniel mix. He was going to be a year old on December 10th, the other was Madison she was 3 and was a lab/pit mix. I lost them that day, and they were put to sleep. My friend Linda took my stuff from the hotel and put it in storage with her things.  Unfortunately, for me the entire month of October I was in an out of the hospital with kidney stones and renal failure and wasn't feeling all that well still, and couldn't really carry or help move anything.  Long story short here I lost everything, my jewelry, my important papers, my dogs, all of my clothes, sweatshirts, jackets and shoes.  I truly ended up with nothing but the clothes on my very back.  My car was stolen, my life was a wreck and I had no where to turn too.  I was on the street for the first time in my life. I tried staying with friends, squatted in an abandoned apartment, slept in the park, and did things I have never had to do in my life before, yet somehow I managed to keep doing drugs and getting high.  I even got my car back for a short period of time. Then in December my car got stolen again this time with what little I could salvage and save from my life.  I had put everything in that vehicle and in the blink of an eye it was all gone.  I had to have kidney surgery 2 days before Christmas and had no real place to stay except that abandoned apartment. I was able to stay there for 4 days till I was thrown out of it. What few things I had managed to save from my car were locked in that apartment and never to be seen again.  Luckily I got a hold of my father and he was able to help me, he got me into a hotel for a couple of days and when that ran out he got me into an extended stay.  But that too was short lived. By January 10th I was back on the street with nothing. Just my jacket and sweats...I was freezing cold and it seemed to never stop raining.

I wasn't alone in all of this I had my trusty group of companions with me, and they were going through the same things I was.  It was a real mess that 4 grown adults couldn't seem to make things work and come up with money needed to stay off the streets, but guess what drugs and alcohol were involved and when you add those things into the mix money never seems to get you to where you need to go because you have to have that fix first.  I can tell you now that looking back my priorities were really screwed up. I had made money could have afforded the bills and could have held out, but I spent the money foolishly, wasted it on drugs, sex and other things that I didn't need.  Like I was telling my niece today sometimes we need to regroup, refocus and realign our priorities. Sometimes that means retreating to a safer ground, get our act together and set ourselves up for success. Which is exactly what I did in February.

See being and living on the streets for me was an experience, one I am not really ready to repeat, but it taught me a lot of things about myself, the people I knew, and what others go through.  The obstacles and challenges, the many things that can hold you down and keep you right where you are at.  Sometimes it can be down right impossible to catch a break and get off of them streets. I know been there and done that.  With all of that being said, understand that with a colostomy, kidney stones and a history of dehydration as well as kidney failure, the streets are no place for me.  My medical condition alone made it near impossible to be comfortable or clean while out there.  However, as I said I learned a great many things, I wouldn't change the experience at all. It made me grow and mature, it gave me a greater insight to the human condition and a better understanding of how people work and react to street people.  Further, I learned a lot about the system that is set in place that is supposed to help those that are trapped out there, but in actuality it prevents them from reentering society in a meaningful and useful capacity.  I learned about programs like HOPWA, Travelers Aid, Catholic Charities, Buckhead Christian Ministries and a whole host of programs that are supposed to help those in need and desperate for support and help.

But all of that is for another lesson. This one is about how far a person or an individual can travel, grow and go in just a short period of time.  As I explained sometimes it might be necessary to regroup, retreat and refocus your energies.  You need to set yourself up for success, you can't expect anyone to do it for you.  Now you might need a helping hand at first. I know that I sure did.  Because of who I was with and what I was doing I never seemed to break even, much less get a head.  I found myself constantly in situations and problems that I couldn't get out of.  The people who I thought were my friends and who would have my back walked away from me, or worse did stuff to keep me down and out.  Not only did I suffer from despair and hopelessness, but my entire support network was nowhere to be found when I needed them. However, this taught me a valuable lesson, if I wanted to make a difference and change my life I needed to get off my ass and do it.  Because nobody else was and nobody was going to help me do it.  Life doesn't come with a remote!  If you don't like it get up and change it yourself!

Which is just what I did.  In February I had my dad by me a ticket back to Florida, which I immediately paid him back when I got here.  My check was waiting for me when I got here.  It was agreed that I could stay with him and my step mom for till I got back on my feet.  Which I did, despite being ill.  I wasn't even here a week before I had to go to the Emergency Room.  Then the very beginning of the next month my colon ruptured in 2 places and I was in the hospital for 19 days.  I had to have major surgery and my entire middle was cut open.  I was flat on my back for almost 8 full weeks and during that time I had to give myself daily and sometimes 2 times daily liquid antibiotics via I.V.  I was just getting finished with all of that and it was June already, when I had to have another surgery and was down again, however, I had started writing and doing other things to occupy my time and get my mind off of my situation and on to other things.  July 3rd I was in an accident and broke my leg.  You can imagine how that put a cramp in all of my plans.  However by mid August, I got a car, landed a job and was well on my way. Then in September I did something terribly stupid, I left and went back to Atlanta for a visit, and well those of you who know me know that it didn't go well at all.  I ended up in and out of the hospital most of September and October.  As a matter of fact I was on my way to the Emergency Room yet again on October 19, 2012 when my father told me that I had to be out of their house by the end of the month.  Now, as you can imagine I was totally unprepared for that, but I figured with my job and everything, I would be okay. I still didn't have any money at the time I was told all of this, but went to work and told my employers what was happening and they told me they would find me a place to live.  Little did I know that less than 2 weeks later I was going to be let go because of my medical condition and them thinking I wouldn't be able to do the job that I was hired for.

But as luck would have it and a good healthy does of Prayer and Faith, i moved out of my parents house into a 2 bedroom 1 bath apartment, worked out a deal with the landlord and was in the place way before the deadline my dad had given me.  Now, not everything has been easy and I had to work my butt off to make ends meet but let me tell you God brought me through and I am still going and on my own.  As I sit back and write all of this I am beginning to see that God knew I need the push, that I needed to get out on my own and that I need the challenge of getting my feet back under me, hence the nudge out of the house.  I had been there for 8 months, and with all the health problems I am sure my dad thought I was never going to leave.  But here I am safe and sound in my new place and doing my own thing.    I may not have furniture but I certainly have come a great distance from where I was just a year ago.  I am self sustaining, I have a roof over my head, it is my own place, and I have food to eat, clothing on my back, a car, though it needs some repairs, I am enrolled back in school for a new career, and i am out on my own. I also have been able to help my dad out with small loans here and there.  I have cleaned up my act, gotten off the drugs and made some positive advances in my life, I have a checking and savings account with a little bit of money in each, and gas in the car.  All and all I think I have done pretty good for myself despite all of the setbacks and roadblocks that life has thrown at me.  I have over come them all and I have my feet back underneath me.

Life isn't fair, it doesn't play by a set rule book and troubles and problems can come at you from all different directions, you just have to have faith, have a solid plan in mind and execute it with precision and you will be amazed at how far you can go. Currently, I am even thinking that I might try and get my part time job back, my health issues seem to have resolved themselves somewhat and I can get back into the swing of things. In just a total of 6 months of productive time look at all I was able to accomplish. Think how much you will be able to accomplish if you just sit down, prioritize, fall back and re-group.  Amazing things happen when you have your priorities and focus in check.  You can accomplish anything, especially when you have a solid plan of attack and have laid a firm foundation to make sure that you are a success.  See if you set yourself up for success how can you fail?  You can't but it is taking the time to regroup, even retreat if necessary to get yourself grounded, realign your focus and set your priorities correctly.  That is giving yourself a firm foundation or plan of attack from that you have already set yourself up for success.

Remember, retreat is always an option, it is a defensive move and a strategic one. It allows for proper planning and displacement of troops, military's use it all the time.  It also allows for re-enforcement's to arrive and for rest and relaxation before another battle.  Believe it or not life and living is a war, and you have to battle daily to make yourself a success.  Use my example and see how regrouping helped me, how my resting at my dad's and having him as my back up and re-enforcement really helped.

You can come a long way, learn so much and grow in unexpected ways in just a year.  I am living proof that it can be done..

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B