Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Great Awakening

I just wrote a dear spiritual friend in India, who asked me to elaborate on what has been happening in my life. So here is what is in my heart to say about where I am.

I believe like many new age thinkers that many people on the earth at this time are being called to awaken more deeply to our own spiritual powers. Many books have been written about this awakening process that will peak at 2012. Unlike Hollywood and many others who buy into this scary synopsis of the end of the world in a cataclysmic event, new agers believe that it is merely the shifting of energy that is necessary to change the earth from the ego mind into a heart-centered existence.

Of course you must read Eckart Tolle's books, which go into detail about this shift from an ego centered life. His books The Power of Now and The New Earth, address this topic in length.

My belief is that we are all being called in an accelerated pace to fulfill our soul's mission this lifetime. However, in order to do that we have to empty out these limiting beliefs that have kept us from the truth that we are all magnificent, creative beings that co-create with the Universe. The worldwide economy going into a tailspin is helping people to realize what is truly important in life. Some will learn this, some will not. If all we have is our possessions, our jobs to define us, then we are ego-centered. However, this planet-wide awakening is making us see that those things are not happiness. There will come a day in the future when success isn't gauged by material possessions and large bank accounts, but by how much love and joy is in your heart. It may be hundreds of years from now, but it will come to pass. That is the New Earth.

The overall change is away from this fear-based religion where we beg God to help us with our lives. We are being made to see that our thoughts, our actions are what creates our lives. When we tap into the Universal God source, we co-create our existence. We will also see that negative thought patterns over time is what keeps us separate from the very things we are praying about. We have to go to God in thankfulness as if what we desire has already been created in our lives. Take a look also at Ernest Holmes books on Science of the Mind. It goes into great detail about how to co-create with God.

My journey in this awakening has taken its toll, but God cannot fill a cup that is already full. And I was taken to my knees in the New Mexico...because I am so very stubborn. We've all heard of the Charles Dicken's story The Christmas Carol where three ghosts come to this stingy horrible man, who has no compassion, no love in his heart. All Ebenezer Scrooge knows is money. He is shown his past, his present and his possible future if he does not change. I went through something very similar. No, there were no ghosts, but I believe the story is an analogy of what Spirit shows us, if we want to open our hearts to actually see it.

In New Mexico, I had a roommate, who was abused as a child, being so angry and unable to get over her childhood pain that she truly couldn't function. I saw in a way that was me. Every decision I made, was based on the lack of love I didn't receive as a child. I had no compassion for anyone but me. I had become the thing I hated in everyone, stingy, and unloving and uncaring. All I talked about was myself. All I thought about was my life and when I was going to meet the love of my life. Thinking once I had the job, the man, the house then my life would be complete. In that train of thought, we are telling ourselves we need something outside ourselves to make us happy, when it is inside us all along.

I was made to see, if I didn't change, which wasn't an option, I would never have real love or have anything I wanted in life. I was made to see it was ME that wasn't allowing the goodness. I also believe I was made to see that I forced New Mexico to be and that's why it didn't work. When we go against the current of the flow of life or God's will for us, we find resistance. When we go with the flow of the river, we find doors opening.

I found no doors opening in Albuquerque to walk through. I found only resistance. And as fate would have it I met a woman who came to New Mexico through a door God opened. While working at Pier One in Albuquerque, she came in the store and we began to talk. I told her I came to New Mexico on vacation to find a job and then moved without one. She told me this wonderful story of how she came there on vacation and a job just fell into her lap. I believe God wanted me to experience what it felt like to go against the flow of the river.

My faith has been tested, but I have survived with the help of some wonderful people in my life. My dear friend in Nutley, NJ, who has been a huge blessing, asked me before I left for New Mexico "what's the worst that can happen?" I said "I could be lying homeless on the streets of Albuquerque."

Well, that didn't happen, but it nearly took that for me to see that God provides the way if that way is aligned with your soul's mission. And your soul's mission brings much joy and bliss in your life, and when you get the garbage that has been poured into you by the world out of the way, the path will become evident. God has a bigger plan for our lives than we can ever imagine and when our thoughts are aligned with those plans miracles happen!

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, And light unto my path. Psalms 119;105

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Betwixt and Between - To Write or Not To Write

I have been at this place many times in my life, not knowing what direction to take or knowing the direction but feeling inadequate to take it.

Bar tending between reporting jobs in 2001, I looked out the window at the sugar cane bending in the blustery winds of South Louisiana thinking what the heck am I doing here and what should I do next. Surely this can't be it. I was working at a beer and shot bar on the outskirts of Lafayette. Why? I just didn't know if I wanted to stay in Louisiana. But no path opened except a reporting job that was offered six months previously. So I took it and wrote the best stories of my career. I was a beat reporter covering the three outlying parishes surrounding Lafayette and I loved it. And I was damn good at it.

At my desk at The Daily Advertiser in 2002

Once again I am at a similar point in life. After having taken a long look at big city life in Manhattan, I am back in South Louisiana asking similar questions. Can I deny my true nature, true gifts and God given talents as a writer. My friends and family say that I was happiest being a writer.

If you aren't a writer, and I mean someone who actually went to school and got a degree, then it's hard to understand. Sure there are writers who didn't attend a university, but when you get a degree in anything you are professing that that is what you want to do, what you have to do, what you are going to do. I graduated Magna Cum Laude. I got straight A's in my journalism classes, minus one B+. I was recommended by the assistant dean of the journalism school for a working internship in my senior year. I was a paid journalist before I even graduated. I was made an editor upon graduation. But still I doubted my ability to write meaningful prose. I questioned that this was my true path.

However, no matter how far I try to run from it, my writing keeps pulling me back. So I am making a promise to myself to start writing and to take my craft seriously, because truly that's what I do best.

Probably the largest obstacles I have to overcome is feeling "not good enough" to write a book and the ever present fear of failing. But doesn't every writer feel that way until the writing is done and a contract is in hand. And believe me I know the naysayers will be coming out of the woodwork, saying they wrote a book only to find no one wanted it etc., etc., etc. If all else fails, self-publishing is always an alternative.

I feel I must here's to honoring the path that lies before me. And let the Light lead the way!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Go Saints, Game-Day Gumbo, Fat Tuesday!

Just got back from the store to buy my Andouille sausage for gumbo and over the PA system the butcher was singing "When the Saints go marching in," and then he began announcing his Superbowl specials. Party time!!!!!!!! Go Saints!

I am making a big pot of chicken and sausage gumbo today and waiting for the game to begin. Many folks from here are going to Florida or holding Superbowl parties. Parties have already started in New Orleans for the traditional Mardi Gras celebrations as well. People think it's just that day. Heck no it's a two-week long drunk fest for some. Fat Tuesday is right around the corner too! Fat Tuesday is always the day before lent begins and it changes every year. This year its February 16th. I am planning to go to Old Mamou, for an old-fashioned Madri Gras this year.

I know I am in Coon Ass (nickname for Cajuns) country. I tried to buy wine and beer before 11 am on a Sunday. You can't buy wine or hard liquor, but you can buy beer. I guess beer is a staple down here and they ain't about to restrict that.

Wow, and what a Fat Tuesday it will be too if the Saints do win. Talk about an underdog team taking it to the top. The city deserves it, after all its been through with Hurricane Katrina. Did I say Go Saints!

I hope to make a trip down to The Big Easy after Mardi Gras season. I've been to New Orleans twice for Mardi Gras and some parts of the city are like Time Square on New Year's Eve. I was lucky enough to go with someone who had a friend with an apartment on the parade route. We could escape the madness at times and having a bathroom nearby was crucial.

Look at that bling and those purple nails!

Here's a gumbo recipe if you are so inclined:

  • Huge pot
  • 4 quarts of water
  • 4 heaping tablespoons of brunette roux
  • One large chicken cut up and seasoned (I use Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning)
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • 1 pound Andouille sausage (fried and cut up - add about 3/4 way through)
  • 1/2 green onions chopped (add last)
  • 1/2 cup parsley chopped (add last)

You start with the roux and pour in the water. Let that simmer for one half hour. Add all other ingredients except the last three listed. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer for 1 to 2 hours. About and hour or so through the simmering phase, I fry the sausage and add it in. When it's about done the chicken starts to fall off bone. Some people leave chicken pieces on the bone. I take it out at this point and add the chicken deboned back in. One half hour before you serve, you add the green onions and parsley. Simmer for 3o minutes and serve over rice.

Enjoy the game and Go Saints!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My New York Experience - No Sex in The City

I arrived in Manhattan in December of 2002, after having left my reporting job in Lafayette, LA. My sister had just moved to Manhattan that fall, after living in Los Angeles for several years. She invited me up for vacation knowing I wanted to leave Lafayette to advance my writing career. I fell in love with the energy and all the city had to offer. Upon moving there I realized that you had to be a millionaire to enjoy it all and most writers didn't make enough to live there.

Like Carrie Bradshaw I was a professional journalist. But unlike Carrie, I didn't write about love and relationships. I ended up being a real estate journalist writing about the commercial brokerage side of the business. I covered multi-billion dollar deals and multi-million dollar brokers. I once heard one say "If you've learned how to feign sincerity in this business, you've got it made." And I found that statement to be the pulse on the real estate industry in Manhattan.

Unlike Carrie, I never made enough money to live in my own apartment in Manhattan. I took the first writing job I could, because I got tired of sleeping on my sister's sofa in her small one bedroom apartment on the UWS. That was my only experience I had living in a brownstone.

Three craigslist ads that I ran across trying to find an apartment really represents what it's like. A college student was renting out his backyard for the summer for $100 a month, which included use of the bathroom and kitchen. I read on that three people took him up on it, pitched pup tents and slept in his backyard. Another person was renting out their tree house for $500 a month. I have no idea if he got any takers. Another post described a room for rent, but you had to live with the blood spatters on the walls and floors until the police finished it's investigation. I don't remember how much that was.

I finally ended up in Jersey City, after my search of three months turned up bubkis in Brooklyn and Queens. It was a four-story walk up in the Journal Square area. It wasn't ideally located in the best part of the city, but it was right by the Path Train Station in Journal Square for an easy commute into Manhattan. You were more likely to see call girls walking down the street in cheap rayon outfits and Payless shoes than anyone wearing Prada or Manolo Blanik.

The super of the building, who was harder to find than an affordable apartment when things went wrong, was dealing cocaine and had frequent visits from those ladies of the night. Most of my neighbors were college age students that blasted their music at all hours of the night. Then there was Rose and James, my downstairs neighbors. Rose was a recovering heroin addict, who had supported her habit by selling her body on the streets too. She met James, also a recovering drug addict, in rehab. He had cleaned up his act and was a counselor at the rehab center.

Rose was a nice enough person, but she was a drama queen. Some crisis or another was a constant in her life. We became friends of sorts. But I finally forbade her to come up to my apartment in the morning before my commute, because she disturbed my peace. And I began to limit my time with her. I finally posted a do not disturb sign on my door, but she rarely got the hint.

One New Year's Eve when I had dinner plans in the city with a girlfriend and she asked me to watch her daughter Angelica, 12, and her daughter's friend, 10. Both were dropped at my door without shoes on. She said she had to run to the store and would be right back. Well, Rose ended up getting drunk and had a seizure on the street. When she called me she was in the hospital wanting to be discharged and asked me to come get her. I didn't have a car and had two kids. But Rose didn't care she wanted me to throw the children without shoes and coats in the middle of winter in the back of cab. She didn't want James to find out.

"No, I am not going to enable you anymore," I told her. "You wanted me to watch these children and I am responsible for them. I am calling James." I couldn't get a hold of James, but I did get in touch with Rose's eldest daughter, who was in her early 20s. I told her what happened and she rushed over. I left for my evening knowing I had to find another apartment preferably in the city.

The apartment proved how separated I was from the people I was writing about. The night before I was to arrive at Trump Towers to interview Donald Trump Jr. for his first interview with the press, the ice on the roof began to melt. In the middle of the night, I heard dripping. I thought the faucet had been left on. Nope, more dripping. Soon I had six pans trying to catch the water that was coming from the flat roof into my apartment. The super wouldn't answer his phone or his door. Great, no sleep. I was living with drug addicts and oh boy I got to interview someone whose walk in closet was probably bigger than my apartment. And so it went...I got up, interviewed him and later his father. The story ran on the front page. And I was never so depressed.

In order to interview the rich and famous in Manhattan you had to somewhat dress the part. The Sex in the City women seemed to have an unlimited budget for clothing, but I wasn't able to afford designer dresses or have a collection of Italian shoes. I did what I could with my JCPenney card and the occasional outfit from The Loft. My sister also lent me some party dresses on occasion, as I had to attend several gala events. Still I was going into debt buying clothes. One year I asked the publisher for a clothing allowance and got $300. That wouldn't have bought Carrie a pair of shoes, but I got three complete outfits at Filene's Basement and I wore them until they got thread barren.

Still I was living in what New Yorkers call an "up and coming" area, so I restricted my time with Rose and at the apartment and decided it was time to leave. After my lease expired, I moved to a boarding house in the city. It's all I could afford on my meager salary. It included two meals a day, a room, communal bathroom and weekly maid service for $1,000 a week. I still didn't have that idyllic brownstone studio in Manhattan.

I later found out that James had returned to his old ways and was shooting heroin again and was wanted on two counts of murder. His family claimed someone had stole his wallet and was impersonating him. I will never know. All I know is I used to have them over for dinner, not knowing what all was going on. I don't think the Sex in The City gals ever entertained wanted criminals in their apartments. I guess that would have cramped their style a bit.

I moved out of the boarding house after I got a career break. I was now a magazine editor. So as luck would have it, I found an illegal sublet through a friend in the ever popular Stuyvesant Town, the last bastion of middle-income housing left in Manhattan. I sublet a two-bedroom for the the same price as the boarding house, $1,000. The apartment was fully furnished except for my bedroom, which I furnished with what I had storage in Jersey City. The woman I leased from came and went when she wanted. Most of the time she was at her boyfriend's home. It wasn't a true sublet, but it was better than the boarding house.

I lived there for a year, until the woman I was subletting from tried to raise the rent $300 a month. She also wanted me to pay $1,000 for an air conditioner and the installation. Once you moved into an apartment, the rentee could pretty much extort money from you, because they knew how hard it was to find another apartment.

After weeks of arguments and not wanting to be among the thousands looking for that one deal of the century, I talked my roommate out of me paying for the air conditioner, saying it was her apartment and I wasn't going to take the unit upon move out. I also talked her down to $1,200 and later that year I moved in with my on and off again boyfriend (Mr. Big) in Clifton, NJ. I was done with the city by that time and decided I needed to look at options of getting out of the Northeast all together.

However, I had made a name for myself as a well-respected journalist in Manhattan during my first five years there. I finally got my biggest break when a brokerage firm recruited me, after they were impressed with the story I wrote and coordinated on their firm. But then things in my personal life took a dive. My Mr. Big worked as a stage hand at the Metropolitan Opera and he was threatened by my big salary. So not unlike Mr. Big on the television show, while I was working in Manhattan, he was shagging his old high school sweetheart, probably the neighbor woman, the manager at Costco and God only knows who else. It was a big blow because he had told his friends that he was going to ask me to marry him, but at least it never got that far. Still it hurt. I can tell you my journal entries weren't filled with wonderings about how I was to find love in the city that never sleeps. I had had enough.

So I worked for the brokerage house until the economy went belly up, which took the thunder out of the commercial and residential real estate industry in Manhattan. I found being at the top and making six figures was a very lonely place to be. The only men who seemed to want to date me where married men or much too old or much too young. I was working with and for sharks, because you have to be aggressive and willing to do what it takes to close a deal. You can't have a conscience. I do. I don't know how many times people told me I didn't belong there. I just didn't fit in.

Furthermore, I didn't get the sweet, kind hearted personal assistant that Carrie had in the movie. Awe shucks. My assistant at the brokerage firm told me "You are too sensitive for New York" when I asked her to change her tone with me and stop saying the "f" word every other sentence. She added "I'd better get used to it, because that's how business is done around here."

I didn't witness or experience the wonderfully romantic city that the ladies in Sex in the City did. It certainly wasn't Carrie Bradshaw's make believe world of finding love in the Big Apple unless it was love for the almighty dollar. But I learned a lot about myself and who I was and who I didn't want to be. I sure would have liked to have lived in that brownstone Bradshaw had in the show though. I think it would be about $3,000 a month and even making six figures that would have been out of my price range.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Woman of Substance

Delores Smith was my landlord's mother and she lived above me in the Victorian house I rented in Montclair, NJ, while working in Manhattan. I was to be her and her son's Thornell's first non-family tenant in the house. Built right after the turn of the 20th century, the home was like many in Montclair and had a wrap around porch, where we all sat many a sunny day chatting about our lives. We became very close over a two-year period and it was a tear-filled day of goodbyes when I left in October of last year. I will forever remember their kindness and generosity.

Delores, her brother Bobby and her brother Carl grew up in the house with their two hard-working parents. They had moved to Montclair from Virginia when her father wanted out of the coal mining industry. He later died of black lung disease. Bobby and Delores lived there for many years after both parents died. Thornell bought the property and remodeled and updated the interior to become a multi-family dwelling right before I moved in in 2007.

This 72-year-old black woman was to become a mother to me and a unwavering friend. She would often have dinner waiting for me and always have a listening ear for me to bend about my day. And I thoroughly enjoyed hearing her stories too for she had so much wisdom and spiritual depth. She had become a Jehovah Witness in her later years, meeting and mingling with people from all walks of life and she loved it. We didn't share the same spiritual philosophies on many issues, but we always agreed to disagree and at times found some common ground.

She had more energy than any woman I know at 72. She was out the door before I left the house at 7 am for my hour and half commute into the city. "We have to catch people going to work," she would say," as she rushed out the door dressed to the nines.

She had a larger wardrobe than I did, of course she had many years to accumulate such an ensemble of clothing. She had a flare for the dramatic, wearing matching hats, gloves and shoes, had several fur coats and haute couture dresses. She was quite striking as she left on her daily rounds to save souls for Jehovah and I always got a daily track or two. The day I drove off she handed me the last one.

The split between her teeth always bothered her, but her smile could light up an entire room and her laughter was always a welcome sound. It made you laugh and if you didn't feel like laughing it always made you feel a little bit better.

Delores had so many friends I lost track of them all. They would call from all over the country, because once you knew Delores she would always be there no matter how long it had been since you spoke. She told the truth whether they wanted to hear it or not.

She loved to entertain throwing dinner parties, brunches, breakfasts and barbecues. She made pies, breakfast rolls and untold dishes of delight for all her friends and followers. I had the privilege of tasting her wonderful Southern cooking, although it packed on the pounds. My favorite being her fried pork chops.

One of the many parties Delores (wearing green in back) threw

She had lost her mother several years before I moved in and spoke of her with great respect as she did all her family. She loved her son, who to me was a bit of a ladies man, but she overlooked it saying "he just hasn't found the right one." And I'm afraid if he was trying to find a woman that lived up to his mother, it was to be a long, long search.

But Delores always looked on the brighter side of life. Even though she longed for a grandchild, she enjoyed that her son was still single so she could still love on him. He lived on the third floor in the converted attic. According to a city ordinance, no cooking was allowed in the attic of a multi-housing converted dwelling, so she gladly obliged with sharing her kitchen, but she did all the cooking.

Mother and son had a very close relationship, as he was her only child. Even though they lived in the same house, they would talk on the phone nightly. He worked the night shift at a very prominent international investment bank. He oversaw the HVAC systems for the firm's offsite computer facility.

Bobby, her only remaining sibling, would give her the sadness news while I was living there. His stomach cancer came back the fall of 2008. Bobby was told he had to have more of his stomach removed. We later found out that all of his stomach was removed and they made a stomach out of part of his large intestine. It was a long, long recovery. But Delores stepped up her sisterly care taking and was at the hospital everyday. She even took care of Francis, Bobby's wife who was suffering early stages of Alzheimer's.

Delores took care of everybody. That was her way. That winter she tried to keep up witnessing, caring for Bobby, Francis, her son, me and all her friends. She soon became exhausted, but she never lost her zest for life. I took her out to dinner and listened to how Bobby was trying to care for Francis when he couldn't care for himself yet.

Bobby and Delores shared a special bond. They lost their younger brother Carl in car a accident on one Christmas Eve when they all were in their late 20s, which drew them even closer over the years.

Carl unfortunately met his bitter end while stepping out on his wife and two kids. Delores would only say "Carl was just so full of life. He knew what he was doing was wrong." And apparently the Lord did too. His wife and the entire family were waiting for Carl that night. But he, a friend and two ladies were hit by a train when their car got stuck on the track. They were apparently going to get some more liquid libation to celebrate the holiday. They never came back.

Delores often wondered what Carl's life would have been like had he lived and been faithful to his wife, but she would merely say that wasn't Carl. "Carl was always the life of the party."

And that was Delores. She never had a bad word to say about anybody. Quite the contrary. She was always full of compliments. She was always saying how creative I was, how beautiful I looked and how I deserved a good man to truly love me. She made me feel special.

I came to the Smith's home broken hearted over a relationship that ended very badly. He had cheated on me and that's a hard pill to swallow. But Delores' home cooking, motherly love, companionship and laughter helped me more than than any therapy I could have had. It was hard to leave the house and the Smiths to venture out on my own in the West. But in ways they will always be with me.

Which reminds me, I have to call Delores and let her know what's new for she doesn't surf the net. She doesn't have time. She's always out there spreading the news of how God or Jehovah, as she calls him, loves you. She made a believer out of me!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Being Grateful vs Being Toxic

We've all been both in our lifetimes...and we all have been around both types of people, those who are grateful and those who are toxic. When you are around grateful people it energizes you and you feel good when you leave them. And being in the presence of toxic people is like eating nuclear waste. You feel sick when you have to swallow their energy and when you leave their energy field you feel drained and depleted.

And it's really all about energy. Being grateful creates a flowing, positive, healthy energy. It uplifts those around you. And being grateful really breaks down to being thankful for what is already there in your life. And no matter were we are in life there is something to be grateful for.

Toxic people only concentrate on the things that are wrong in their life. We've all heard them complain about their cheating spouses, their bad bosses, their lack of money or whatever in their life is not working out. Complaining merely brings more of what you don't want. Sure there is constructive complaining to solve a problem or to figure out how to change things. I am not talking about that. I am talking about habitual complainers.

And, yes, I was one in NYC. I would constantly complain about how I hated it there, the traffic, the noise, the people. People started avoiding me, because all they heard was the same thing. There was good in NYC and good came out of it. I worked for corporate America, and got to travel abroad. I met some amazing people and made lifelong friends. I will forever be changed by the expereince. It helped to round me out, so to speak. I experienced what it was like to live in a thriving metropolis. No it wasn't my finest hour perhaps, but I did enjoy the parties, the cityscapes. It just became overpowering, I believe, for my energy. I needed a quieter environment and now I know I will never live in the center of a big city again at least not in America.

Concentrating on what you want more of goes like this. Let's say like me you are looking for a job. The first thing you can do is stop saying that there are no jobs out there. How does concentrating on the lack of something ever produce anything but more lack. Positive affirmations are a must and there are dozens of sites on the Internet that have affirmations for every issue in life. Youtube also has meditations and affirmations for free.

Another thing you can start doing is stop watching the news. I have given up on watching the news a long time ago. I don't have to be told by some newcaster about the unemployment rates and how "x" amount of people are out of work. How is that going to help me find a job. All I know is I will find one. All I know is I can't buy into all this doom and gloom about how horrible the economy is. You think I don't know that by now. So what good does it do to sit and listen to more bad news. Sure I keep up with the news via the Internet. I believe that your thoughts create your reality and if that is true then thinking about how bad things are will only produce that reality in your life.

Helping others also creates a postive flow into your life. If you find a job opportunity that you think might fit another job seeker you know, pass that info along. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I've always helped critique resumes, been a reference for co-workers looking for work and have passed job openings along. Those actions have come back to me many, many times over.

There are so many books on the law of attraction and how being grateful creates more things to be thankful for. Louise Hay is the guru of being grateful and healing your life. She is the founder of Hay House Publishers, which has hundreds of authors who can address how your thoughts create your reality. And I would also suggest Hay House Radio where many authors have weekly internet shows talking about many new age topics. It's a wondeful medium and so packed full of positive uplifting information. It is also free to listen to the lastest show.

Right now in my life I am grateful for this pause in life and for returning to South Louisiana where I can again write. My passion for writing has returned and I am so grateful for being able to write this blog about spiritual issues that have changed my life. Sure I might not have a full-ime job right this moment, but I am not a slacker. I've been working since I've been 15 years old. I worked at a deli making sandwiches, and mopping floors before and after classes and on weekends during highschool. I joined the US Air Force at nineteen. During my lifetime, I've waitressed, bartended, worked retail, worked on a factory assembly lines and been a professional journalist and publicist. So I am grateful for this time that has allowed me to start writing about meaningful things. I've always been blessed with work, but perhaps Spirit is telling me that my blogging about my life will help someone to cope, to grow, to laugh. I hope so.

I am also grateful for my friends all over the world and how the Internet has now connected us. When I left Louisiana in 2002, we didn't have social media like it is today. So I lost track of some of my dear friends. Now, that won't happen.

I am thankful for my cat Rizzo, who has been a faithful companion through this my latest journey, even though he hates the car. He has made me realize what true love is all about. When he was barfing on my passenger seat, I felt bad instead of mad. I just stopped the car, cleaned him off, gave him a pet and said sorry but we have more than 2,000 miles to go and I ain't leaving you behind. And he's adapted after 3,500 miles and he knows how much I love him. And his incessant purring makes me happy.

Rizzo 2010

I am grateful for my family. Even though we haven't been the closest knit family over the years, I still love my brother and sister. They have helped me to see more of who I am really am. With family reminding us of our humble beginnings, we are always brought home in their presence no matter how far apart we have grown. They care about us in ways no one else ever will.

My sister and me at The Tower of London in 2009

I also appreciate my closest friends, who have stuck by me through thick and thin. Even though I dated total idiots who didn't honor me, they listened with a sympathetic ear. And those idiots are long gone. Go figure.

I am grateful for my health, even though I have aches and pains I can still get out of bed in the morning and my heart is still beating. I can still write, work out and laugh.

So to one recovering complainer to another: Chin is going to get better, you will find that job, you will heal and the sun will shine once again!