I'm 44 years old today. Posting a poem to celebrate. Give me a gift and share the #29Gifts book and this website with a few friends to help us grow. Organize a group give and use our FREE Gift Tags or Note Cards to spread our mission of reviving the giving spirit in the world. Click on Documents then Pdfs.
Another journal story written in 2008, while I was writing the #29gifts book. A good example of the type of story we would like to see posted here as a story submission for our 10th Anniversary Edition of #29gifts. Hope to see more stories posted here soon.
A HIT OF ICED TEA Each day for six months, I have left my house in the middle of the afternoon to take a short walk before lunch. I have also offered a gift to someone else each day for the past six months. I consider these walks a gift because six months ago, walking alone, unaided any farther than up and down the our hallway in my Los Angles apartment was not possible for me most days. Six months of daily giving later, my Multiple Sclerosis has stabilized and my life has changed a great deal. I am writing the manuscript for my first book. I have a new dog, a 4.5 pound rescue Chihuahua named Charlie who loves to take my walks with me. He is next to me today on his short green leash as we set out for a few blocks.
We live in Hollywood... the seedy part of Hollywood, not, "The Hills." It's the part of Hollywood that you sometimes hear referred to as "the Sunset Strip." They may call it that because there is a heavy concentration of strip joints, but that's not really part of today's story.
Let's just say the part of town I live in isn't where the rich folks live and leave it at that.
I share my community with a large number of people who live on the streets. There are also a lot of drugs around this area. In my experience, homelessness and addiction are commonly (but not always) linked. I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, so I'm rather comfortable sharing the streets with people who are down on their luck and deep in the struggle of addiction.
These are my people.
And even though I am lucky enough to have a roof over my head today and a little money in my bank account, I know how easy it would be for me to find myself living on the street shooting up behind dumpsters, even though I've never done "hard drugs" like that. I know deep in my soul that if I make the choice to drink alcohol again, that is exactly where I will end up eventually unless I die or land in an institution before I make it to the dumpster.
I walk by my people every day. I see them making deals on the corners and then scuttling into alleys or behind the many large supermarkets and pharmacies that line the busy city streets to fix themselves. Yesterday I saw three of them wandering the street together, yelling about how high they were--one guy telling his companions he will never do mushrooms again because the trip he's on is so bad. He stopped me on the sidewalk, looked me in the eye for a split second, and then asked me if he looked as bad as he felt. I told him yes. His face was so white it looked like he was wearing that foundation the Geisha wear. His eyes were bugging out of his head. He was twitching and could not stand still.
"I was hoping you'd say, ‘Honey, you look great’," he said and laughed manically as he broke eye contact and trotted down the street, both arms waving in the air.
I started to cry as he ran away. Not because I felt sorry for him, but because I was feeling very raw and a little nutty in the head myself. In that moment we made eye contact, part of me yearned to get as loaded as him just to check out for a while.
Only drug addicts think this way. We are the only people who can see someone who is dirty, broke, hungry, smelly and drugged out of their gourd and think it looks attractive.
That is the insidiousness of addiction. It lies in wait until I am overwhelmed, overtired and over-stressed and then it quietly woos me, trying to convince me that it will be OK to use something just this once to take the edge off. That it won't be that bad.
My addictive personality doesn't rear its head only when things are bad... it happens when I least expect it... when everything in my life is going great. Like right now, I am on the cusp of seeing my lifelong dream of being an author come true. My book will release in about six months. This is a dream that I've held quietly in my heart since I was a child. It's a dream I rarely spoke about to others because it happens for so few of the millions of gifted writers on the planet. Right now it appears to be happening for me, and I can't help but wonder what I've done to deserve such a blessing when there are so many others out there making words as good or better than mine. These people are all holding that same dream quietly in their hearts and working their butts off to make it happen, but they are not getting unsolicited calls from publishers. It just doesn't seem fair.
So here I am feeling blessed that I might actually get to see my name on the cover of a real, live book that is published by a New York publishing house, and I actually have the thought that it would be a good idea to go out and let myself drink a bottle of wine. I know from lots of experience that it will not stop there... but still the impulses come that, if indulged, will surely lead to me throw my life away. Baffling.
After my run-in with the crazy on the corner, I walk a few more blocks and notice two men sitting on the ground behind a big grocery store. My eyes lock onto them immediately from nearly a block away and my dope radar begins to send off little excited beeps in my head. They are smoking a fat joint. I sniff the air as I walk by and immediately put my guard up. I avert my eyes and walk quickly past them. I am scared. Not of them, but of my own longing to just take one hit. I know if I ask for one, they will share. Potheads always share.
After I've walked 20 steps past them, I stop dead in my tracks and find myself turning around back in their direction. I walk slowly to where they lay sprawled out on the cement, their shoes off and shirts unbuttoned in a vain attempt to stay cool in the blazing Hollywood heat. They both look up at me.
"Hi," I say and smile. I look them both in the eye.
"Hi," the white guy with long stringy brown hair responds. The black guy just smiles and nods his greeting. He has very nice teeth--straight and blinding white. I pause for a moment and consider just walking away, but then I am compelled to ask them, "Are you two hungry?"
The white guy says, "No, but I'm really thirsty. It's so hot." His friend nods his head no. He wants nothing.
"I'm headed down the street to get lunch," I say. "Would you like me to pick you up something to drink?"
A look of overwhelming gratitude spreads over his face. "If you would get me an iced tea, that would be amazing," he says.
"Ok," I say and head to the eatery where I wolf down my lunch and then purchase one iced tea and two cookies.
I walk back the two blocks. Only the white guy is there now and the joint has burnt out. There is sweat rolling off the man's face. "Here you go," I say as I hand him the tea. "I picked up a couple cookies for you too, but if you don't want them you can give them to someone else who is hungry."
"Thank you so much," he responds and he tips his head to take a long draw off the straw. The relief is visible in his eyes as the cold liquid splashes his tongue. It's the same easy smile I've seen on many an addict's face when they take their first hit of the day. But this time it was a hit of iced tea that brought the smile to the surface. I say a silent prayer for this man, and briefly thank God for giving me the strength to choose the gift of sobriety for one more day. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I have today and that’s enough for me. ========= Please note: My stance on the use of Medical Marijuana has changed since 2008. I believe it's a powerful healing plant with the power to help lot's of people, including me. I do not drink alcohol at all and never will again. Luckily I live in a state where marijuana is legal (Colorado), so I feel comfortable publishing this now.
Note: My opinion about medial cannabis has changed since I wrote this story. I live in Colorado where it is legal and now I see it as a magical healing plant and no longer fear its use. In fact I benefit from its attributes.
#29Gifts in #polish found while #beginning to #pack to #move. Buy the #book at www.amazon.com I think it's in eight languages now. Thanks Amanda Goodwin for all you do as our community manager. If you want to do something to help our 29 Gifts community grow invite some #friends to join us here today. Don't forget we have #free downloads on the Documents section.... GIFT CARDS and more.
Day 2 5/24/2015: I gave my loving husband a clean house to come home to after he worked all day, because he gives so much of his time and support.
Day 1 5/23/2015: I've taken on a #29giftschallenge to give something each day, today I started with a tomato at the farmers market to a local outcast. That's the true reason for me being moved to tears with overwhelming gratitude, when I looked at my rarely red...now fully grown nails...I realized that my expanding includes finally overcoming a life long bad habit of nail biting. You never know where your mindfulness will lead to connections, I couldn't be more grateful to the people and experiences in my day to day life. #collectivelight
Brandie: The connection you found between the red tomato and your red nails reminded me of a group I started on the original site called Gifting Outside the Box. Group members took turns picking a weekly word for the members to focus on during their giving cycle, to see if we could find any connections between giving and receiving. The first one I chose was the word, Red. I had given a neighbor a bouquet of red flowers one day and several days later, my sister-in-law gave us a big bowl of fresh red tomatoes from her garden. There were many great experiences in that group that people may say were just coincidences. Funny thing about mindful, intentional giving - it seems to produce lots of coincidences. Thanks for sharing!